Saturday, November 30, 2019


We're getting one block of sidewalk installed by our house. We're all very disappointed that they aren't rounding the corner and just continuing on up the road to connect with the sidewalk by the school. Maybe in another decade or two that will happen. BUT, we're going to enjoy the sidewalk we are getting. Though I'm trying to tell myself that they'll probably do something with how they make it that will be less than ideal, just to temper my excitement (and disappointment if they do mess something up). We've known about the sidewalk plan for about a year, but just saw the signs go up indicating they were starting work a couple weeks ago.

Per the signs, it seems they're planning to get the work done by mid-December. We'll see if that actually happens. So far they've got some curb and driveway cut-outs in. But they haven't gone all the way down the street with those things yet. When Mal saw the initial preparation work he exclaimed, "They mined!" (Ryan and the boys have been playing Terraria lately.)

It was a bit of work to figure out how to get our bins out for collection day since they were cut off from the street by the trench. But Gareth managed it in the end. And then, after initially being hopeful about our prospects of being able to park in our driveway after this is all done (it's a rather short drive and has always been somewhat dependent on the right of way), once they poured the curbs we were worried we wouldn't be able to and would have to figure out an alternative solution. But now we're back to being a little hopeful again, since they uncovered the cutout and the small section of sidewalk they poured next to the cutout and it looks fairly promising. Even if we can't park in our driveway, I'm happy to have a sidewalk. I've told Ryan we can buy bags and bags of salt and I'll salt the entire thing (since no one around here ever bothers with that) if we have any risky days. I'm seriously tempted to salt the entire 4 blocks to my bus stop on icy days.

I've also gone on a couple more bike rides recently. One across the 520 bridge and back on the I-90 bridge. Then we rode up some steep hills through south/downtown Seattle to work our way back to my house. And another to the Discovery Park Lighthouse (which has a very steep hill coming back up). The last time we rode to this lighthouse together, Mal was with us in the trailer and much smaller than he is now. It was also a cold day and he wasn't at all happy when I pulled him out of the trailer for a picture. Didn't see any eagles on this ride like we did then, but it was a beautiful, if chilly, day.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

October/Early November

At some point in all the busyness of October, we managed to squeeze in a few minutes at the elementary school fall carnival. Mal made a fun craft, which he then used the next weekend to set up "camp". He used the lantern as the campfire, set up the play tent, and had books and games ready to go. He named it "Camp Qest" (camp quest, just like summer sleepaway camp). We had a great time "sleeping" (I actually fell asleep for a bit!) and playing some Forbidden Desert after we woke up.

While Ryan was away at his friend's wedding, I got home one day just in time to take Mal out for a treat after school. The next day Gareth was at a sleepover, so Mal and I went out for pizza. He likes to color in the squirrel to match the menu. I tried to convince him to let me get half pepperoni, half margherita, but he wasn't having it.

My orchestra is celebrating our 75th anniversary. Our first concert included several Copland works, including Lincoln Portrait. Tom Skerritt lives in the area, so we got him to come read the narration. I really only know him from his role in Parent Trap 2, which would quite possibly horrify him. He seemed like quite a nice person from my minimal interactions.

And somewhere in all of this, we found some time to carve pumpkins. It helped that the kids had a good idea of what they wanted to do before they started.

On Halloween, we had quite the crew over. 3 friends joined us and Daniel and Emily came and hung out with Ryan/helped pass out candy. Myself and one of the other parents took the kids out, making it several blocks before we decided we were done. Mal was getting tired of carrying his bag because it was so heavy and my feet were getting cold.

We then got a one weekend reprieve before I had to start final preparations for our orchestra fundraiser (the orchestra's in a not-great place financially, which is frustrating, but we're working hard to try and make it through the year and hopefully do some work to get to a better financial footing). We held it at a large brewery that offered the use of their space for free. Ran a small silent auction, which I think a lot of people thought would be simple to pull together, but which I knew wouldn't be. And it's not made easier by people waiting until 4 days before the event to let you know what they're going to donate to auction off. The woodwinds ended up putting together quite a nice little wine-themed basket. It included a gift certificate for two to a 2-day wine tasting event on Bainbridge Island. I tried to bid on it, but someone came in and grabbed it for the "Buy It Now" price. I won a knife-sharpening party instead (my knives are really needing a good sharpen after almost 15 years).

In the end, we pulled off quite a nice event. Had lots of small ensembles made up of orchestra members playing and the auction did about as well as I expected it to, with everything getting auctioned off.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Skagit Color Classic

The day after our pumpkin excursion, my friend and I went on a bike ride. It was the route of an organized ride called the Skagit Color Classic, but we did it one week late. We were hoping to see some great fall colors, but sadly could count on one hand the number of colorful trees we saw. The organized ride a week earlier must've been particularly disappointing! But, the weather was beautiful and clear and we got to ride on the ferry. It was a great ride, with lots of rollies and a few larger hills, which made up for it only being 25 miles.

Took some photos on our ferry ride back:

Our trusty steed!

Mount Baker, I think? This definitely wasn't looking toward Rainier, so that's my best guess. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2019


Toward the end of September, I looked at our October calendar and realized we didn't have many open weekend days during the month. Gareth's time has been frequently co-opted by sleepovers with a friend lately, which has made doing family things more difficult (we're going to have to cut back on the sleepovers in the coming months so we can do holiday stuff and just so he can maintain relationships with other friends as well). Ryan was going to be out of town for a whole weekend for the wedding of a high school friend, and I was going to spend two weekend days on concerts. I was working the weekend Ryan was going to be out of town, and we needed to go to a Halloween event at a friend's house after one of my concerts. We were left with two possible days to go to the pumpkin farm, but one of those was a sleepover day, so we chose the other one - the first weekend in October.

Turns out that's a pretty good time to go to the pumpkin farm as it's not super crowded yet. Mal was still very into the cutout photo ops.

Then he wanted to take a picture of the landscape:

After which it was right back to the cutouts:

Mal immediately wanted to go down these slides, but then was nervous about them and made me go down with him the first time around. Gareth tried to be non-chalant about it all, "Yeah, sure, why not?" when asked if he wanted to take a picture or go down the slides (but you could tell he loved it all; it's hard being a tween and trying to figure out if you can let yourself just like what you like or if you're supposed to be "too old" for stuff!):

Several parents got roped into going down the slides with kids, just like me. There's a bump at the bottom, so every single adult came out stating that that was a mistake, they should have medics there for the adults, walking their now aching bodies back to the benches gingerly, etc. Glad I wasn't alone in my pain! Thankfully, after one go with me, Mal was thrilled to go again and again and again on his own.

Mal checked out the big tractor while Gareth worked on the rope maze:

More photo ops:

Gareth finally joined in:

And then Ryan decided to join as well:

We took a break for some food. Cider and pumpkin donuts, roasted corn, hot cider. The deliciousness was dampened by the insane number of bees hanging around (maybe the one downside to going in early October?) Boys couldn't finish their cider, because there were constantly 4 or 5 bees also loving the smell of the cider. It was not fun for the boys (not helped by Ryan's fear of bees; I was the only one staying calm and they seemed to not like me quite as much as everyone else who was freaking out). Eventually we gave up on eating and headed to the hay ride to the pumpkin patch and corn maze.

Photo op at the maze halfway point (I love the face Mal is making here)!

After Gareth and Mal successfully led us through the maze, we searched for pumpkins. Gareth took a while to find the right pumpkin while Mal picked his immediately. We'd told them they had to be able to carry their pumpkins.

Folks were very impressed with Gareth hauling his pumpkin back onto the hay ride by himself. Also, white/grey shirt is not a great choice for pumpkin picking.

Back to the car! We recommended using a wheelbarrow for the hay ride to car walk. Would've taken forever otherwise.

Aside from the terror of the bees (which they kept calling wasps - it felt very melodramatic because of that), it was a beautiful day and a great outing! Now we just needed to find time to carve the pumpkins...