Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Olympic Sculpture Park on Sunday

Originally uploaded by gecko_12.
On Sunday, inspired by the sun (again!), I went to the new SAM Olympic Sculpture Park with kc and ma. They preempted their GL walk to go with me, and I was quite grateful for the company. After braving the streets of Belltown to find a parking spot, we made our way back to the park. Crowded it was, but didn't feel claustrophobic.

As we made our way down the path, one of the first things that struck me was how much more amazing the Eagle looks in person than it does in pictures. Not that it doesn't look striking in photos, but the scale and setting have to be seen in person to be fully appreciated.

Another observation is how much more impressive "Seattle Cloud Cover" is in the evening (and presumably morning) than during bright overhead sunlight. We passed by it initially and didn't think too much of it, but later on came by again and it was much prettier.

At the end of the Sculpture Park (which isn't quite finished yet), there's a little beach full of driftwood and pebbles that people have taken to arranching into large structures. I guess visiting a park full of sculptures can be inspiring to some, especially when they find the right medium.

It turns out that the park is next to two Seattle parks with a continuous walking/bike path, so we kept on going and ended up getting in the walk that was abandoned earlier in the decision to go see art. We walked down to where the grain silos and grain elevator are (I had no idea we had a huge grain elevator on Elliot Bay), which was pretty cool, and then turned around.

We made it back to the park and hit the areas that we'd had to skip earlier based on our route. This included Wake, pictured, which was also much more impressive in person than in photos.

Then we went off to find dinner, hitting Mama's Mexican Kitchen in Belltown, an establishment that had been frequently noted but never visited by any of us, before I headed back to work and kc and ma went home to play Elebits. :) All in all, it was a great day, even better than I'd thought it would be. Hurray for sun in January!

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Wax on, wax off

Inspired by the unexpectedly temperate and clear weather today, and faced with the time to do something, I decided that today was the day I'd finally wash my car (Betsy)... for the first time in a year and a half.

The washing went well - there's some caked-on crud that will take more than me and my little sponge (and dish soap) to get clean, but overall, getting rid of the leaf imprints and the bird droppings was a big step in the right direction.

As I was finishing up drying off the car, a thought struck me. Why not also wax Betsy? I bought some Turtle wax a number of years ago and had never used it, mainly because the yearly car-washing was on a hot summer day, and it says not to use the wax if the car is in direct sunlight.

So I set about to waxing the car after reading the instructions on the label. Didn't seem too difficult - just smear some on, let it dry, and wipe it off. I learned quickly how much to smear on (hardly any at all) and that if I did leave some goopy stuff to wipe it off with a separate towel so as not to sully up the one I was using to wipe off the main stuff. Before I had even finished two panels, I needed a new towel - and having a clean towel seems to be quite important. I ran upstairs and grabbed some more towels and came back armed and ready.

Well, by the time I had made it all the way around the car, my arms were exhausted, I was exhausted, and it had taken me quite a bit more time to complete than I'd anticipated. Mr. Miyagi definitely had it right - wax on, wax off is a really good exercise. I'm actually having difficulty typing this post, thanks to the soreness of my forearms! All this effort to make my 15-year old car just a little bit prettier.

Update 01/28/07:
Here's the finished product - so shiny!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Friendly family competition

Christmas day in our family is spent half at home - opening presents, eating breakfast, etc., and then driving to Half Moon Bay in the late afternoon to spend the rest of the day with my aunt, uncle, and cousins. In recent years, my aunt has started having us play various games, and this year was no different. We arrived to find an assortment of plain gingerbread people, frosting, and other decorations. Our instructions were to decorate one of these (the other was meant to be a backup in case of a failure on the first one), and at the end, we'd do an anonymous vote for the best decorated gingerperson, with prizes for the winners. Some complaints were lodged regarding the limited color palette (mainly red, green, and white), but everyone put quite a bit of effort into their creations.

Well, our family is a bit... disturbed... and we ended up with no fewer than three entries involving death and destruction. The top spot ended up going to my cousin Susan for her recreation of the Texas chainsaw massacre. The picture here is my sister's entry, which didn't win, but definitely should have gotten bonus points for being in the spirit of the day, and also had some of the most attention to detail.

If you click on the link, you'll go to a gallery with all the entries, and you might even find a gingerbread tribute to the namesake of this blog!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

It's raining

... just raining. Not snow, not ice, not hail, not sideways hail. Just rain. How nice.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Sisters in Seattle

Well, there's simply no excuse, but somehow I never did write about my sister's visit up to Seattle back in October (gasp!).

So, waaaaaaaay back in 2006, lil' sis came up for a weekend o' fun. The weather behaved, which was really nice. Good thing she wasn't planning to come this month. (Sheesh! Just when you thought the snow/icepocali were done, another few inches gets dumped overnight....) Anyway, she flew in on a Thursday night and fortunately I was able to take that Friday off to spend more time with her.

We first headed down to Pike Place Market in what seemed like a burgeoning trend, involving going to the market to buy yummy food to make for dinner later in the evening. While there we noticed a film crew surrounding a woman (we don't know who she is) and Andy Paige, who my sister recognized from TV. Apparently the latter is a makeup artist to the stars. After watching them film the flying fish at the south end of the market, we moved on.

Next stop was the Seattle Public Library. Since en works part-time at an architecture firm, she just HAD to stop by (if for no other reason than to hold all the architects at bay when she got back). We headed in and noticed that they were cleaning the windows that day. The library was beautiful as usual.

After passing by the Seattle Art Museum, still under construction (not much longer now though!), we passed through the market again and picked up some salmon, assorted fruits and veggies, a pretty bouquet of flowers, and other goodies. Then it was on up to picturesque Kerry Park. Unfortunately Mt. Rainier wasn't showing her pretty head that day. Then it was on back home to prepare our dinner and chow down. Thanks to some tips from dad on how to cook the salmon, we had a delicious meal. Since M&K were eating dinner at the same time, we felt very domestic and even documented it for posterity.

The next day dawned beautiful and sunny, so we took the opportunity to get up into the North Cascades for some prime larch viewing. After living here for 6 years and never seeing a larch in fall color, I decided it was time to make a pilgrimage. (Western larches are deciduous conifers - their needles turn yellow and fall off every year.) We drove up to highway 20 and passed through the North Cascades - which were absolutely spectacular. I've never driven that road when the sky has been clear - and it was just amazing. Our destination was the Maple Pass loop and Lake Ann. Due to the length of the drive to get there, we only had time to hike to the lake and back. Luckily we were still rewarded with some beautiful yellow larches, as well as other vibrant fall foliage. The ground at the lake was frozen and the there was extensive frost on everything around. We found a sunny rock to eat our lunch and then headed back down, but not before crossing the creek to get close to a larch tree and then investigating the extent of a pond's frozenness (i.e. it took a lot of rocks to break the ice). Sunset on the drive back was gorgeous and I stopped a few times to capture the mountains in the afternoon light (since I was driving I had the power to stop, even if en didn't want to get out of the car :)

On Sunday, we headed north again, but this time to a corn maze (inspired by a sign we'd seen the previous day). The maze was pretty neat, but we learned a few important corn-maze lessons:
1. If you're going to go to a corn maze, go on the first weekend it's open. If you go after that, all the kids obsessed with finding the route to the finish will break through the walls of the maze and make shortcuts. These will soon be indistinguishable from the original path.
2. Corn mazes are muddy. Wear appropriate footwear.
3. We were probably the only two people in there trying to find our way through the maze without using the shortcuts
4. When en gets hungry and decides it's time to go, all bets are off and all shortcuts will be used to find the way out.

So back it was to Seattle for a little more time together, downloading pictures, and hanging out. All in all it was a great weekend and I sure hope she comes to visit again (hint, hint.) :)

The rest of the pictures can be found here.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Comet McNaught from Queen Anne hill

Comet McNaught
Originally uploaded by gecko_12.
Last night was the last chance to view Comet McNaught, the brightest comet in 32 years, before it swings around the sun and comes out on the other side, visible to the southern hemisphere in a few days. TR and I drove up to Queen Anne hill as the sun was setting and joined a group of people camped out at the end of Highland Drive, where there is a great unobstructed view to the west. There were quite a few clouds in the sky, but we were all hanging on the hope that we might catch a glimpse in the small swath of clear sky.

Just as we were about to give up and head home, the photographer standing next to us (flickr user Ed119) spotted the comet (he'd been out there the night before and so he knew what to look for). Because the comet was setting, and setting fast, we only saw it for about 2 minutes (confirmed by the EXIF data on my photos). But it was clearly visible by the naked eye, and just beautiful through binoculars. Before we knew it, it had disappeared again behind the lower cloud bank.

It was a perfect Seattle moment - we were all huddled out there in the cold (it's been chilly here lately), hoping against all hope that the sky would be just clear enough to spot the comet. When it appeared, it was just amazing.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Same day, one year later

I did the polar bear swim down at Mathews Beach on Lake Washington again this year. We somehow got a little mixed up on the timing though - we thought that it started at 12:30 so we got there just a little after 12 noon, only to find ourselves being passed by dripping wet and freezing people walking the other way. Apparently it had been at noon. Not having the crowd to fortify us didn't keep us from running into the water anyway - we couldn't go all the way down there in our bathing suits and not jump in! We were rewarded with this year's "badge of courage" after joining the mob surrounding the volunteers passing them out. KC and I agree that this year's is cuter than last year's. Water temperature was 44 degrees fahrenheit, 2 degrees colder than 2006. The Seattle P-I reported that nearly 900 people participated this year! More proof that this city can be insane sometimes :)

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Christmas was two weeks ago

But here are some pictures from the Bay Area. Mom and I went to check out the lights at this one house that always puts up a crazy display. This year was no different; they even put an arrow out by the main road so you'd know where to turn:

They do have a donations box, from which the proceeds go to the NY fire department. Santa was out the day we stopped by, despite the torrential downpour.

Our tree, decorated with our leis from the Luau on Maui:

And on Christmas morning:

Merry belated Christmas! And happy new year!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Beside myself!

Well, I've apparently had blogger's block for a while now, but I just had to post since I'm now officially a flickr pro member! See, a friend of mine, who is currently residing in Copenhagen, had a bit of a panic attack when leaving for the airport because he was still in possession of his Comcast cable modem despite having canceled his cable service while he's out of the country. To thank me for returning it for him, he got me a flickr pro account. Hurray!! I'm super-excited.

To those of you who are aware of the previous reason why I hadn't upgraded, sadly, I have not resolved the issue that was keeping me from doing so. I'm apparently paralyzed when it comes to deciding what I want to do with my life.

caterpillar and his handiwork
Originally uploaded by gecko_12.
This picture is of a castaway caterpillar that I found on one of my houseplants this winter. I put him on the counter to take some pictures of him, and gave him a leaf to sit on. He prompty munched away at it. (I later disinfected the counter).

I hope to blog more frequently now that I'm back in town and it's not the holidays. We're not calling it a resolution; it's a goal. I refuse to make resolutions, since it's inevitable that they'll be broken. Goals are much more ambiguous. Somehow that is better.