Shrimp excitement

Our cleaner shrimp molted – always a good thing because it means he’s healthy, eating and growing (as far as I know, shrimp are like lobsters and keep growing throughout life and molting once their exoskeletons get too small). Our old shrimp used to molt right after producing eggs, which happened quasi-monthly. However, it always gives me a rush of grief, because I’m walking by the tank and see what looks like a dead shrimp (Oh, no!!) and it takes a moment for my brain to sort out that the other one’s still there and acting like his normal, alive self.

We leave the shed skeleton in the tank, and it always seems to disappear in a day or so. But in the meantime, it’s such a broken, fascinating thing to look at.

Life, in all its forms, is amazing.

Not exactly farmers

My tomato plants are starting to look rather autumnal.

The good news is that two more of the fruits are starting to turn orange (bringing our edible count up to 3!!). The bummer is that it’s rainy, cold, and we’re losing our light. Here are the dripping cherry tomatoes.

It sounds, from reading the gardening sites, like I’m not the only Pacific Northwest tomato grower who’s been thwarted this year. Plenty of people are recommending bringing green fruit indoors so that it can ripen on the counter. I’m trying to give it a few more days, but the nights are starting to get into the 40s, so we’ll see how long I can hold out.

Les Dudes

Kevin just got a new lens – neat! The dudes look great with it. Here’s Click nestling into the leather (he seems to be attempting to host in it – much luck to him? The leather is not enthusiastic. ) :

Plus the clowns being cute:

We’re all worried about the tang. All of a sudden he’s showing signs of headline lateral erosion – a symptom of stress/poor nutrition/water quality/etc. He’s looked a bit symptomatic since we got him early last spring, but for the most part he’s been eating well and nothing seemed to phase him. Now, he’s not eating the Nori and his scales and fins are starting to look very ragged. We’re worried. We just ordered Selcon (a vitamin to soak his food in) so hopefully that will fix things soon. Here’s the tang – you can see the HLE at his temple, and stretching up in an arc from his eye to his tail.

No good. Feel better soon, little dude!!

Kevin’s curtains

I was so flattered when Kevin said that he wanted curtians like I’d made for my office, just “not with the lace.” Yay! Totally!

We went to Joanns so that Kevin could choose a color, and bought plain white cotton and blue ribbon for the edges. Turns out that ribbon was completely the wrong thing (too stiff, yet won’t hold a pressed edge). Oops.

I found bias tape in almost the same color as Kevin’s ribbon choice at $1.99 for 3 yards and decided to spring for two packages. The ribbon can now get relegated to gift-wrapping. A success!! Here they are open to the view of the rhodedendron and all of the little birds:

And closed for privacy:

Not bad for essentially a 25 minute, $12 project. 🙂

A chess bag for my brother

My brother lives in NYC, and he and his roommate occasionally take a chess set down to the local bar and play. Aside from thinking they were cool to do that, this news made me think many things – that game boxes are hard to carry, that spilled beer would warp one of those cardboard game boards, and that I’d been seeing lots of “checkerboard” sort of quilting patterns recently. So I took some of the remnant cotton print fabric from the Olympic Mountains quilt, and made him a chess bag.

It’s machine washable and dryable. It has a zipper and a lined pouch to hold all of the pieces.

And there are two handles, which can slide into fabric slots to fold the bag in half and make it smaller/easier to carry.

I’m pretty pleased with the way it turned out. The bag, lying flat, is about 14½” square. Dave got it last week, and actually seemed quite pleased about this little bit of unsolicited crafting. And at least even if it only gets used occasionally, it’s tiny to store. 🙂

Mostly for my reference, since I’m sure I’ll find occasion to make this again:

To make a zippered chess bag:

  • 9″ x 18″ light fabric for the light checks
  • 9″ x 18″ dark fabric for the dark checks
  • 4 1″x15″ strips accent fabric
  • 15″x15″ fabric for the back
  • 15″ by 28″ fabric for the lining
  • Zipper (12″ or cut to 12″)
  • Bias tape or 2″ strips ironed in half for handles.


  1. Take your light and dark check panels. Cut 4 strips in each color: 2¼ x18.
  2. Sew together alternating strips to form a striped rectangle (14¼x18”) . Press. (Note that all seams were ¼”.)
  3. Turn the rectangle and cut 7 times against the stripes to make 8 multicolor strips that are 2 ¼” wide.
  4. Lay these strips in an alternating fashion to for a checkerboard.
  5. Sew strips together. Press.
  6. Add a border of accent fabric. Press. The top is now complete.
  7. Place the checkerboard top and the plain back right sides together. Fold the lining around them, right side facing out, and seam along the lining fold. You now have a clean seam along the bottom of the bag. The whole ensemble looks kind of like a book with a cover and two pages.
  8. On the edge opposite the seam, sew the zipper. Turn each half inside-out to sew. Use pins. I added a strip of fabric with each seam, pressed lengthwise, to hide the zipper when it’s closed.
  9. Turn the bag right side out again and zip the zipper closed. Fashion two tubes of fabric (mine were 2″ wide and 10″ long before seaming) for handles. Slip them into place at each end of the zipper, and sew them into place as you close any gaps between the zipper and the sides of the bag.
  10. Make two more little tubes (the length of your handle width plus ¼”) and sew the two ends to the edges of the back of the bag, near the seam opposite the zipper. The handles will slip through these to fold the bag in half for carrying.
  11. Now you have two ends of the bag closed. To closed the sides, you can open the zipper, turn the bag inside out, and sew all four layers of fabric together on both sides. This is easiest, but you have a ragged edge on the bag inside. Add bias tape (or just fabric tape, it doesn’t need to be bias for such a short, straight seam) to finish the edge if it bothers you.

Farmers Market Flowers!

Now that we have the fruits and veggies from the CSA each week, I haven’t been to the farmers’ market once this summer. On the balance, I’m fine with that, but I do miss all of the flower vendors, and I’ve been wishing for sunflowers. I spent about five hours yesterday working on caulking the trim in the family room. As I worked, I listened to all of the cheers and honking for the Breast Cancer 3 Day Walk, which headed past the top of our street. As the day got late, I decided to run up the street to pick up white thread for Kevin’s curtains and see all of the walkers (aka, do a little honking myself) – many of them get dressed up in things ranging from “outfits” to complete costumes. I actually found it quite emotional to see their progress – most of them are either survivors, or friends and family of people who have had cancer. I know several people this year with horrible, sad cancer stories, and this walk seems like such a brave and hopeful thing to go do (you can’t walk without a hitting a minimum pledge – it’s not little, and it’s a big physical and time commitment), and at the same time each walker is so small in the face of the dollars and years that are required for improvements in care, let alone a cure. You see all of the PINK, and the friends, and the brave T-shirt slogans (“I had a war in my raq.”), and it was a steady stream of women and supporting men and sons, but it still made me kind of teary to drive by. Very emotional and powerful.

On the way to the thread store, I drove by a woman with a tent selling flowers along the way, and I stopped and bought these.

They’re so extravagant, and exactly what I’ve been feeling we were lacking. The right flowers to be summery, but heading into fall colors. Perfect. 🙂

The weather has been cooperating with brilliant sunshine, so our kitchen was full of glowing flowers and bright sunlight all afternoon.

We’ve been hoping to replace the kitchen cabinets since we moved in. (We have a hole where a trash compactor used to go, and none of the current cabinets are adjustible, so they’re a terrible use of space. We still have glasses in storage. Plus there’s a mid-eighties-era microwave/oven that you can see in the photo above that would make an excellent pantry if we redid things.)

Do any of you live in Seattle or on the Eastside and have custom cabinetry recommendations? We’ll definitely scope out the Lowes/Home Depot standard options, but we’re hoping to keep the current Corian countertops and the kitchen as it is just doesn’t fit the standard grid. Any thoughts (including keywords to search for online) would be awesome.

P.S. If you know an electrician, we’re in the market for one of those, too. 🙂

Almost there!

I’ve been working like mad on all of the quilting for the daybed quilt, recently.

I’m definitely clear that I’d never do quilting on more than a twin quilt on my home machine – it’s rather unmanageable.

That said, this pattern is basically optimal for it – all straight lines and angular. It took a little while for me to figure out a quilting pattern that was relatively symmetrical itself but still accentuated the top, with the non-uniform different squares. I’m really pleased with the design I settled on, and it was a pretty simple thing to quilt. Here’s a sketch (red is the pieced pattern, blue is the quilting):

Now I have to cut trim, sew it on, and them hem the second edge by hand. Getting close!

Hiking at Mount Rainier

In August, Larry had been trying to organize us all for a day hike to see the wildflowers at Paradise (on Mount Rainier). Kevin and I waited too long to be start getting enthusiastic, and Larry decided it wasn’t a good weekend. This week, he tried again (with a very reasonable 10 am leaving time), so Kevin and I jumped aboard enthusiastically. Well worth it. It was quite cloudy when we arrived, but every now and then, the glacier peeked through in extremely dramatic fashion.

There were slight calibration issues – Larry had proposed a “picnic” and “bringing up a bottle of wine” to share, and “looking at the wildflowers”. So Kevin and I hemmed and hawed before choosing hiking boots over sneakers, and packed supplies including a cutting board, crackers, lots of cheese in a soft cooler bag, a picnic blanket, etc. We all climbed a quarter mile of rock steps up from the parking lot to the main trail, then over a ways to this stunning waterfall.

I was still feeling quite enchanted, but then Larry pointed out the real trail and I realized that perhaps I hadn’t understood his “wine and cheese” concept correctly. This is a poor picture of me climbing switchbacks, but I find it gratifying since you can see how steep the hill was.

(Larry ran the switchbacks, and occasionally cried out things like “hoo-yah!!”. Such glee, whereas I’ve always only been a peer-pressured hiker.) Similarly, here I am concentrating my way across a slippery snow field.

You can see Sanna (yellow shirt) and Shawn’s shoulders behind me. (Also, behind all of us, you can see the grey and red martian rock. Never forget that Rainier’s a volcano.)

Despite the unfortunate shock of both elevation gain (1700 ft) and distance (5.5 miles roundtrip, plus the preliminary hike up from the car), the Panorama Point hike was gorgeous, both as we walked and whenever we stopped. The wildflowers were great. We saw tons of lupine (both purple/blue and a cream version), magenta paintbrush, several kinds of alpine lilies and daisies, something that looked similar to queen anne’s lace, heather, and many unidentified pretty things.

The views were amazing. We could see Mount Hood (especially later in the day) and there were several contenders for Mount St. Helens, but I’m not sure which one it actually was. Here are Shawn and Sanna posing against the mountain backdrop.

And me and Kevin with the glacier behind us.

And Larry in his element.

On the way down, things just kept getting prettier as the air cleared and then got more golden. Here’s Kevin with the Nisqually Glacier.

It’s so sensational and enormous and yet is apparently a shadow of what it was even a few years ago, as the glaciers here melt.

In terms of wildlife, there were surprisingly few birds and insects, but we were gratified to see MANY mammals. Our first fun siting was the marmots. Think of something about raccoon-size but that looks like a prairie dog. They were exceptionally chubby and munching away on plants, which seemed counterintuitive until I noticed that the lupine produces a fuzzy bean-like pod which I’m sure has lots of protein and fat for them. Here’s Kevin on the hike up, and a marmot looking out from the rock above him.

Then we saw a mountain goat! He was lying in a snowfield, so the pictures didn’t come out a bit, but this description of goats in the park has a picture. There were many very bold chipmunks – about three times the size I am used to so it must be a different creature even though they looked the same?? On the way down, we saw four deer! This guy had antlers:

And we’d just arrived back at our car and were stretching and (blissfully) removing hiking boots, when this guy came scavenging around!

He looked like a black fox with a white-tipped tail, and was utterly fearless as he checked things out.

We got back to the car about 7:30, and home for the night right around 10. It was a fun, interesting, conversational ride home despite the dark – I love driving new routes with Kevin. Sanna posted her pictures here, and my full flickr album is here (both have photos with comments). A great way to spend twelve hours, thanks to Larry! 🙂