Monday, October 17, 2016

Trick or Treat?

A garden-fresh strawberry in mid-October?  
Definitely a (very small) treat!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Columbus Day Hike

 In honor of Columbus Day, we went out to do some exploring.
It was re-exploring for most of us.  Everyone but D2 and I had climbed this trail before.  But with changing seasons, there is always something new to see.
I love the mixture of evergreen and deciduous trees in this forest.
 These trees look like they belong in a Dr. Seuss book,
 as does D2 with his moss-stache,
while I could see this stump in a tale from Grimm.
 This tells a scary story, too.
I'm glad I wasn't in the way when this tall tree splintered down the mountain.
 But all was peaceful when we visited.
 This stool should hold a good-sized toad.
These little fungi look like trumpets in a forest band.
 Moss covers boulders,
 and bigger boulders,
 while delicate vines decorate the banks of the trail.
 We didn't quite make it to the lake,
but there was plenty of water along the way.
On our way back down, the sun broke through the clouds.
I'm grateful for the trailblazers who made it possible for us to enjoy this beautiful day in such a beautiful place!

Friday, September 16, 2016

College Bound

My beloved Caterpillar has gone to test his wings at college!  Before he left, he needed some new equipment.  We did plenty of shopping, but he also let me sew him a couple of things.

He needed a new case for his bass guitar.  The old one was cheap, and wore out pretty quickly.  But it was a good model for planning a new one. 
The Caterpillar picked out the black canvas and poinsettia lining.  He also traced around the old case to make a pattern, and even cut out some of the pieces.

I set the Duetta to embroider his favorite raven in shades of red.
He wanted this case to include adjustable backpack straps.  I bought some big strap adjusters from Buckleguy, and they worked great, once I checked the configuration on an existing backpack.  Honestly, that was about the only trouble I had with this project.  I thought it through so thoroughly that there really weren't any surprises, and I'm quite pleased with the result.  The Caterpillar likes it, too.
Thanks to Grandpa O, he also has a new laptop that needed a case.  I used the same black canvas and webbing, but he chose a lining with a pretty blue pattern. 
He also chose blue and green for the raven design this time.  I thought a messenger bag with magnetic snaps would be simpler than a guitar bag with a very long zipper.  It turned out to be more difficult than I expected, mostly due to the 1" thick protective foam layer.  A couple of times during the process, I doubted that I could finish the bag satisfactorily.  But the Caterpillar told me that he believed in me.  Adding the snaps and metal sliders (also from Buckleguy) bolstered my confidence (it just looked more official with hardware), and I figured out how to finish it up.
Notice anything different?  The Caterpillar is attending BYU-Idaho, which has a pretty specific dress and grooming code.  While the beard was impressive, I'm happy to see the Caterpillar's face more clearly again.
The two of us took a fun road trip to campus.  We were surprised to see this Spanish-style mission church near Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, and stopped to take a look.
It was built in the mid-1800s by very talented Jesuits and the natives who invited them to their lands. 
They used what was on hand, with wattle-and-daub walls that still stand, chandeliers made of tin cans, and huckleberry juice-stained ceilings. 
 The church is part of a state park now, so people like us can stop by and be inspired by the faith and resourcefulness of the old pioneers.
After staying a night with my aunt and uncle in Idaho Falls, we moved the Caterpillar into his apartment in Rexburg.  Nearly everything we brought fit nicely under his bed. 
Then we explored the lovely campus, and he began his orientation activities.  After he bought a few groceries, I gave him a hug, and set off into the sunset . . .
which was gorgeous.  Here it is, setting off the LDS temple that stands just down the street from the Caterpillar's place. 

Fare thee well, Caterpillar!  Find beauty and inspiration, learn lots of interesting things, and have a great time!

Read it out loud

Say, "I'd like to see a . . .

Wouldn't you?

Monday, September 12, 2016

D2's Double Digits

D2 turned 10 this month, bringing the whole family into the double digits.
He'd been planning the party for months, a festival of ninja training with a couple dozen activities to be completed in various locations.  We helped him narrow it down to things that would work at home.  He made up the invitations and emailed them out, and even called a couple of people to make sure they had received the invitations.
And then . . . only one friend came.  The boys helped him make a foam-noodle sword, which seems to have become standard party practice here, and they did some dueling.  And they played inside and outside, together and separately, and I think they had a good time.
The cake turned out pretty well, if I may say so myself, thanks to parchment paper, white chocolate chips, a tube of ready-made black icing (not that gel stuff, but real frosting in a tube that fits with decorating tips), and my calligraphy training.  I added lime flavors to the white cake mix, so the cake tasted good, too, and with the friend's mother, we ate the whole thing in one sitting.
There was no cake left for D2's real birthday, but I think a big doughnut for breakfast and ice cream at teatime made it a festive day, anyway.
I crocheted this for him, at his request.  It represents Nadakhan, an antagonistic djinn character in the Lego Ninjago show, which D2 sneakily watches via YouTube.
I don't think my creation looks much like the character on the show, but it does look just like the picture D2 drew for me to work from.  And he likes it, so it's a success.
He's also obsessed with cats, so I thought I'd give him one that wouldn't make me sneeze.  (Come on, genetic engineers, can't you breed some cats with acrylic fur?)
I used Little Bear Crochet's pattern for a stretching cat.  The face reminds me more of a bear, actually, but I'm not sure what I could do about it.  And D2 knows it's a cat, and likes it, too.

He's in fifth grade this year, at the top of the heap now that the sixth graders have gone off to middle school.  It's kind of hard to believe, since he's still my littlest guy.  But he's growing up nicely.

Happy birthday, D2!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Adventure in Puerto Rico: Day 6

We spent Monday morning at the beach.
(See the purple symbols for Monday)

This time we walked to the east, where the water was not so shallow.
The water was clear and blue,
 with waves just right for bobbing in.
 We tried out some flippers,
and Scoot and Rollo really liked the snorkels.
I think we spent a couple of hours in the water, long enough that our carefully applied sunscreen washed off.
But it was worth it.
 After lunch we went into old San Juan,
 where we walked, sweatily, past lots of lovely architecture.
 So cheerful!
Even on such a hot day, we found a penguin.  This whimsical sculpture is directly across the street from . . .
the Catedral Metropolitana Basílica de San Juan Bautista.  It was the first official cathedral built in the new world, back in the 1500s.
The cathedral is being renovated, as such buildings usually are.  It looks like they're painting over the well-done trompe-l'œil moldings. 
The remains of founding father Ponce de León were moved to this marble tomb in the 1800s, from a church a few blocks away.  I think we walked past that one later, and it was completely closed for construction work.
This window clearly depicts the relative weights of the Ten Commandments.
And this a view across the church parking lot.  I like the vine motif.  Dandelionslayer pointed out a sign posted outside.
"Hoy tarifas
10 dólares"
meaning "Today parking costs $10".  But he saw it as "Holy Tariffs 10 dollars."  Pay up.
The boys enjoyed spotting lizards and unfamiliar birds throughout our trip.  D2 was just as enchanted with the feral cats and dogs that were everywhere.
They may be wild, but they're not stupid.  The Caterpillar counted at least fifteen cats lounging in the shade of a few cars in one narrow street.  I'm glad I wasn't wearing fur that day.
I think the younger boys would have liked to join the cats in the shade, but we pressed on to the castle.  Castillo San Felipe del Morro, that is, a fort that has guarded San Juan Bay for nearly five hundred years.  I knew the boys would like to see a castle, and that they'd like the name--Morro is also the name of a malevolent ghost in Lego's world of Ninjago.
 D2's park pass got us in again.

The view from the restroom, which was built right into the fort.
It was a very successful fort.  The Spanish used it from 1539 until the United States received the island after the Spanish American War.
Then the US Army manned the fort until after World War II.  Several layers were added to the fort over the years to keep up with military technology . . .
like this big cannon.
One of these sentry boxes appears on Puerto Rico's license plates, and also on the territorial quarter. 
It was fun to go stand in one and admire the view.  But I'm glad I'm not one of those Spanish soldiers who had to stand watch in the heat.

Definitely a view worth defending.  Actually, I think this shows where a smaller fort across the bay provided valuable crossfire.
 I'm not sure to which era this box belongs, but I like it, too.
This small lighthouse perches at the top of the castle.
 We walked down the extensive lawns to see another iconic view:
 The Santa María Magdalena de Pazzis Cemetery, final resting place of many notable citizens.
 We looked at it from above, where it is partially enclosed by the fort's thick walls,
and this lovely arcade.

  Then we followed the blue brick roads
past the Tótem Telúrico, a granite and ceramic sculpture honoring the indigenous peoples of the Americas,
and Ponce the Conquistador, with pigeon.
 We sought, and found, some relief from the heat at Rita's,
 where we enjoyed Italian ice in tropical flavors like mango and passionfruit
 amid historical decor.
There are plenty of big, modern buildings in young San Juan, but Old San Juan is an island of colonial preservation.

 Then we bid farewell
 to colorful San Juan and its colorful people.
On Tuesday we cleaned up and came home.  Usually, one feels that it is time for a vacation to be over.  We weren't ready to go yet.  There is so much more to see and do on this little island.  But after the trials of flights and airports and driving in the middle of the night, we were grateful to reach our home again.

For more of the adventure, see:
Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4
Day 5