Thursday, July 30, 2009

More Scenes from the Beach

These photos were taken by Mom's partner Cindy of Terra Dolce Photography. You can find other, more abstract photos of our trip on her website.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Remembering Auntie Michiko

Today my Auntie Michiko passed away in Los Angeles. She had been recently diagnosed with colon cancer. Born in 1924, she worked in the US civil service and enjoyed traveling, visiting Egypt, Turkey, Greece, Scandinavia, Moscow just to name a few places. I will remember her as the spunkiest little Japanese woman I've ever known--so sprite and lively. She is the sister of my long deceased biological grandmother. Michiko and her 2 living sisters have resided in Los Angeles for many years since the Internment. Though I have known of her and my other great-aunts all my life, it wasn't until a wedding in 2002 that brought us down to LA where we had a mini-reunion and reconnected. But it was a thrill that Auntie Michiko and some of my other cousins made the trip up for our wedding in 2005. The visiting continued when we explored Korea-town and discovered a cool place to eat with them in our subsequent visit to LA in 2006.
Unfortunately we did not get down to LA again like we had hoped. We are keeping our other 2 aunties in our thoughts now and will remember Michiko with the greatest fondness.
Cousin Lisa, me & Auntie Michiko at our wedding.
Visiting LA the following year in 2006. Aunties Ikuko, Michiko & Yoshiko sitting.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Scenes from the Beach

For the second summer in a row, Mom & Cindy have rented a beach house in Manzanita and all us kids descended upon it last week for some fun, food and family time. Being 7.5 months pregnant did curtail my activity level to the point that I did very little unless I could sit down often and have handy access to a bathroom but otherwise it was delightful. We had 4 nights down there and among the general highlights were:
  • Meeting Austin's new lady friend
  • A very successful crabbing expedition by all the guys plus Cindy & Kisha
  • Going shopping with my mother & cousin
  • Eating pie
  • Frisbee throwing with Jamie, Angela & Ken
  • Watching everyone get silly on very strongly mixed margaritas
  • Celebrated Mom & Ken's birthdays
  • Kite flying by Austin, Cindy & Ken
  • Mountain hiking by Cindy & Ken
  • Playing a rousing game of Catch Phrase
  • Seeing the Seaside aquarium, reliving our childhood beach trips there and absorbing all the "humanity" that flooded Seaside on Saturday
  • Plus lots of chatting and conversation
Cindy has a lot more pictures to illustrate these adventures but she literally took thousands of pictures so she's got to sort them out first. In the meantime, here are a few of mine...

Sunday, July 19, 2009

IKEA assembly joy

Two weeks ago while Ken was racking up the miles on the Harley with his brothers & cousin, my own cousin (Ms. Angela) came up here from Portland and spent a glorious week with me.
Angela & I after her college graduation last summer
In addition to helping with household stuff, palling around with me for a little shopping and cooking some great grub, she assembled the majority of the IKEA furniture that is for the nursery and did a great job. I myself actually like putting IKEA stuff together because of the challenge it poses but at this stage of pregnancy, my energy level and stamina is not what it once was. I would get started helping place some wood screws in a panel while sitting on the floor and after 10 minutes I would have to take a break. There are no words in IKEA instructions so you have to be really careful and observant because many parts tend to look alike and none of them are labeled with numbers or letters--even though it would eliminate a lot of the confusion.
But the major obstacle we hit was with the changing table... Angela was almost done and all we had to do was slide the 2 drawers in. For some reason they wouldn't go in all the way. I'd noticed that the ends of the tracks (installed within the cabinet) were slightly canted down. I thought perhaps they had been damaged ever so slightly and that was why the drawers wouldn't go in. As she tried again to push in the bottom drawer, I decided that maybe all it needed was a little force so I gave it a good shove. This caused it to jump the track on one side and then we couldn't get the damn thing out.
We called IKEA and began to set in motion an exchange where they would come drop off a new unit and we'd give them this defective one. It was sort of late at night so we both went to bed slightly disappointed that we did not get all the IKEA things put together. The next morning, I sat in my glider looking at the changing table and reviewing the instructions. As I mentioned, one has to pay very close attention to these visual only instructions and I realized that we installed tracks on the inside of the cabinet upside down which I compounded by forcing the drawer onto them in a way they aren't meant to go. Aww man. I was sure the IKEA people would take one look at that and realize it was our error and not theirs. So I knew what we had to do.
Determined to fix it, Angela and I flipped the thing on it's side and tried to alleviate the pressure on the jumped track side. Nothing changed. We flipped it again so the feet were up and the top was down. I loosened the front of the drawer so that it sort of collapsed on itself ever so slightly and with the angle and the lessened tension on the track, it mercifully slid out. We were SO relieved. Angela was able to switch the tracks, retightened all the things I had loosened and the drawers went in as they should. I could not have done it without her and am so grateful for our collective tenacity to get it done.
It was a great week and I really appreciated her help & presence.
Here are the finished products:
Toy chest without Oliver perched on it.

Band of 4 Harley Motorcyle Trip 2009

It's been more than a week since Ken returned from his epic motorcycle trip with his 2 older brothers and cousin. Several years of talking about it finally culminated into some serious commitment late last year. Ken and his oldest brother, Ed, did a good deal of planning and created a very ambitious itinerary. In 4 days, they covered 1200 miles from Ocean City, Maryland to Point Pleasant, West Virginia and back. From an outsider's perspective, it served as a tribute to Ken's father & family as their west-most destination of Point Pleasant was where Ken Moore Sr. grew up. It also seemed like a midlife crisis-averting, male bonding event involving big motorcycles, bar food and winding roads that they would all remember for a long time. And that's very important considering what's coming up for Ken & me in the near future. Ken will need to hold tight and savor those memories because it might be a little while before he can do that again. But I am glad for them that they pulled it off, there were no injuries or arguments and they had fun. There are lots of pictures and stories but I'm not sure if Ken intends to do a formal summary or slide show. In the meantime, here are a few images that give an idea of what it was about.
Their planned route
(Click to enlarge)
The Moore Boys stopped by their childhood home in Bowie, MD and luckily the current owners of the house were very understanding. A very faithful recreation of a photo taken in Aug 1969 (almost 40 yrs ago).
(Click to enlarge)
Band of 4 on Skyline Drive in Virginia: cousin Allen, brother Mike, Ken & brother Ed. That is Allen's Chopper in front by the way. The rest of them had Harleys which tend to be more reliable and comfortable on longer roadtrips. The guys rotated through the Chopper so Allen wouldn't have to spend so much time on it--I guess it was fatiguing but it certainly does have a look all it's own.
Ken on his rented Hog
The guys all wearing the shirts Ken designed to commemorate the trip while stopped in Luray, Virginia.
A very colorful and tattooed mechanic they met during their journey.
The Moore Boys molesting the Mothman statue in Point Pleasant, WV.
People asked me if I was nervous about Ken doing the ride and being away from me for a full week in our 7th month of pregnancy. Because I had my cousin up visiting in Seattle during that time (see next post), I wasn't so concerned for the day-to-day stuff but clearly his safety was on my mind. All 4 guys are very experienced riders and I knew they would look out for one another. Also Ken had strict instructions to check in everyday and he enabled his phone to be GPS locatable via a Google app called Latitude so I was able to track their progress. Ah technology.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Seattle Ice Cream Recommendations

Fulfilling the pregnancy stereotype, I have become a connoisseur of ice cream. (But I'm still not down with pickles, just so you know) Three local companies have emerged as clear favorites. It should not be a surprise that they source their ingredients locally, their flavors are seasonal and at least one is totally organic. I've gone from someone who didn't eat ice cream at all to having a stash in the freezer and lining up for 20 minutes for a single dip cone. Wetus needs the calcium--yeah that's it.

Empire Ice Cream is based in Queen Anne and they make appearances at local Farmer's Markets (UDist & Ballard) as well as being sold in-store at Eat Local on Queen Anne. Last year I tried their Strawberry ice cream and it was the best fruit-based ice cream I've ever tasted. This summer it's back so try to get your hands on some. There are only 5 ingredients in it: strawberries, cream, eggs, sugar and milk. Simply awesome. And they also take risks with their flavors and crazy ones like Beet Sorbet, Bacon Ice Cream. But other more mainstream standouts in their line up are the Italian Plum, Blackberry/Loganberry and Sweet Cream & Caramel.

Parfait is a very new mobile ice cream experience that has thus far camped out in front of the 2 Cafe Fiores in this town (in Queen Anne & Ballard). Ken & I sauntered up there today and waited in line for a bit with a bunch of people who also must have read about this ice creamery on wheels on the neighborhood blog. Ken asked me if this hearkened me back to when I was a kid and there were ice cream trucks cruising the neighborhood. Sort of. In my early childhood, I did live in a suburb with ice cream trucks that came through but I was afraid of them. At 6 or 7, I was too nervous to go out to them or flag them down to stop for me. Then we moved out to the country and no one was driving any ice cream trucks out there. But it is a slice of Americana that most people can identify with or at least understand. Parfait's ice cream is all organic and very tasty--but not cheap so that keeps me from over doing it.

Peaks Frozen Custard is a mid-west inspired ice cream treat. "Frozen custard is richer and creamier that standard ice cream because of a higher butterfat content, slower production time and less air blended into the mix." Source
It's a very rich experience that should be rare given it's cholesterol-raising potential but to know that such a decadence exists in Seattle is delightful. They have a special different flavor each day and the basic flavors of vanilla & chocolate. But it's really all about the toppings and the specialty sundaes that they make.

Make a point to try at least one of these this summer--I'm sure there's something good you've done to deserve it.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

29 weeks

Today I found out I missed the glucose test by one point. You have to get 129 or less to pass. I got 130. So that means I get to do the test again but this time I have to fast for 8 hours prior, drink the flat 7up stuff again and get a blood draw once an hour for three hours. I also found out that my iron levels were borderline so I've been put on a supplement. Sigh.
Feeling quite big and exhausted hauling myself around. I've gained maybe 11-12 pounds since being pregnant but breathing is harder because of the reduced capacity, eating is tricky so as not to fill up on liquids before I can get some food down and sleeping is a challenge because not only do I wake up every two hours to use the bathroom, but sleeping on one side for too long hurts my hip and shoulder. They are not kidding when they say the third trimester is the most troublesome.
But Wetus is getting big and the kicks/movement are stronger, visible from the outside. It's a thrill to see and baby responds to being pressed on, some vocalizations "kick" and music. I am not able to tell what body part is pressing out though. Some ladies can easily recognize them--I can only tell if it's the head.
New in the last week: craving milk. I continue to LOVE lemonade, limeade and the summer fruits. I've thought fondly of a Top Pot Doughnut or two but resisted. I also love drinking water--liquids in general are just so comforting. The nursery is really coming together and I'll post pics of it soon. I am dealing much better with the milder weather here in Seattle and looking forward to our trip next week to the Oregon Coast. But right now I am looking forward to bed.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Hand-picked crabs and pondering big issues

This picture was taken at a seafood distributor during our recent vacation in Virginia. While most crab meat removal can be done by machines, this establishment retains the hands-on approach of times gone by. It was a sight I'd never seen before and, as I am prone to do, I snapped a picture to remember and share the scene.
At first glance, this picture doesn't seem all that extraordinary. It does not seem very controversial, provocative or a catalyst of serious introspection, but it was...
I like to think of myself as a citizen journalist sometimes. Through my life-long interest in photography to my college education in broadcast news & reporting to travel journals to my sporadically maintained blog, I've had vehicles of documenting the world around me and evaluating it's deeper meaning. Part of this comes from not wanting to forget events, people or places and part of it is the same compulsion to "collect inherently unique things" as you would stamps, baby teeth, Depeche Mode bootleg CDs or sea glass.
This scene at the seafood distributor is striking because if you flashed back 50 years, this would be the same scene you'd find: rows of people skillfully separating lump crab meat from the shells and nasty entrails all day long. What that means on one level is that the skill to hand pick crabs is still as relevant today as it was years ago. On another level (one that people don't like to dwell on) is looking at who was doing the work then and who is still doing the work now. It's a reminder that things change slowly in the South.
It's also apparent when we visit that part of the country that despite it being 2009, there is still a palpable separation between Blacks and Whites but with a thin veneer of tolerance from both sides. What results is the creation of 2 different worlds and on occasion they touch. So as Ken and I strolled into this room to purchase the crab meat, there was a definite feeling in the space that we were outsiders. But that is true on many levels: we're from the West Coast, our socio-economic situation is different and honestly, our exposure to minorities is quite limited. (Despite being partially a minority, I don't have that much exposure to very many non-Caucasians in my life.)
When I asked the male black foreman if I could take a picture, he was cheerful and turned to ask the room full of ladies if I could do it. There was muttering but no real disapproval. Ken is quick to note that there was no overt approval either. So I snapped the picture before anything else could happen. Part of my zeal for doing this was that in times past, I have hesitated or waited too long and a moment in time (that would never happen again) passed me by. I took a risk and determined this scene would be worth capturing.
As we got into the car, Ken expressed his concern that I had not been sensitive to the situation. To these women, I must have looked like a yuppie tourist who saw them as nothing more than a spectacle, he surmised. And--he continued--my actions would further reinforce their disdain for all we represented. I of course, did not see it this way or at least had not intended it this way. I thought (maybe naively) that they would be pleased that another person recognized their work as something worthy of capturing.
I was bothered by a lack of consensus between the two of us and pondered during the 15 minute car ride to the house and for awhile once we got there: what these women could have been thinking, what my actions said about me and what this situation said about our society. I played scenarios in my head to test if I would have acted the same way if I were black, if the ladies had been all Asian, if the ladies had been college students, if the ladies had been men... And oddly enough my perspective changed in the different scenarios in so much as being able to relate or not relate to the different groups and thus my comfort level and cavalier attitude about taking the picture changed.
But I didn't regret taking the picture. It was worthy of capturing and I wanted these ladies to know that somehow. Not figuring them to be evidentlyblog readers, I printed the picture and wrote a thank you note, letting them know how much I appreciated their skill for delivering an excellent product (which went into some delicious crab cakes Ken's mom made, by the way) and that seeing them at work was a highlight of our trip--unique and worthy of respect. Ultimately, I can't control what these women think of me but at least I let them know that I recognize their hard work and meant no harm.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

East Coast Recap: Late June to Early July

Our last East Coast trip prior to the baby's arrival was packed with visiting and a good amount of driving. But we made the most of our time and enjoyed the our relative freedom as a couple. Hitting my 7th month of pregnancy while we were there, my stamina, tolerance for warmer, more humid temperatures and the ability to stay on my feet for long stretches notably decreased. Luckily we had no health issues or concerns during our trip.

Towson, MD

Our first stop on our whirlwind East Coast Trip was Towson, MD, a suburb of Baltimore and an hour & a half NE from the Capitol. The weather was pleasant and humidity bearable during our visit. It was the first time we'd seen our friends the Dan & Jill in their new home since they moved there last year. We also got a chance to spend time with their delightful 19-month old daughter Hannah. Unfortunately, we did not capture any pics of Jill but enjoyed spending time with her on Sunday and in the evenings after work. Dan is a stay-at-home dad who seemingly has endless energy to entertain Ms. Hannah. Ken and I struggled to keep up with the twosome who showed us their favorite playground and toured us through the quaint and windy roads of Towson. Dan also pointed out the swim center where Michael Phelps trains, the area where the Pimlico Race Course (home of the Preakness Stakes) is and took us to my favorite store, Whole Foods.

Naturally it's great for Ken and I to have exposure to children at different stages of development and to see the variety of temperaments in our friends' children. Hannah is a very compassionate and curious individual who fearlessly embraces the world. She also has 2 of the coolest parents who provide reassurance and foster an inclusive environment but don't fret or fuss about inconsequential things. It's really a joy to witness.

We also took a day trip to Philadelphia to visit two artist friends who recently moved there. I did not eat a Phily cheese steak because for me, one per lifetime is enough. It was great to see Krim & Maria who live in a transitional part of town in a 3-story walk up. It must have been built back at the beginning of the 1900's because there were painted over spigots sticking out of the walls for gas lamps. The character and Bohemian vibe seems perfect for a pair of artists. Naturally the economy isn't very forgiving right now to people who live for their art so it is a challenge to make a living. But we have confidence, that between the two of them, they will find opportunities to get them through this tough time so that they can get back to bringing beautiful creations into the world.

That night during the drive back to Towson, Ken and I endured the most severe torrential rainstorm plus lightning and thunder show that I have ever seen. The wiper blades on high could not handle all the water while semis on the highway still roared past us at 60 mph. The lightning display put the fireworks we'd see for 4th of July to shame and we managed to keep the car from hydroplaning despite all the water. My understanding is that this is not uncommon for the East Coast. It simply reinforces how tame the Western PNW weather really is--there is nothing extreme about it. And that is fine with me.

Eastern Shore, VA
After a few days in Towson, we made our way south to Ken's folks' place. This is always quite a change of pace and scenery compared to the DC area--leaving behind the tangle of highways, modern buildings and fast-paced life for the more rural and small town Americana surrounds. After a few stops to visit old friends of Ken's, we arrived at my in-laws house in Onancock, VA. Ken's brothers, step-brothers and families would all be converging there for the 4th of July weekend also.

It's been a long time since I've celebrated a 4th of July outside of Seattle. We usually watch professional fireworks at Lake Union but this year we went back in time. It was as if we stepped into the 1950's, starting on July 3rd with an ice cream social and the community band which played patriotic songs to a packed park full of townsfolk.

Later that night, we had some indoor fun as Ken had created a scavenger hunt for our 8 & 11-year-old step-nephews. This activity had been quite a hit last year when Ken had run a similar activity while the boys were down staying with Ken's mom & step-dad. This time he went to great lengths to make puzzles, riddles, word scrambles and other neato clues (such as writing in lemon juice and requiring the boys to hold it over the toaster to make the letters appear.) He really gets into it and the boys have a lot of fun trying to figure it out. Their final prize was $5 each. I'm so excited because my folks did that kind of stuff for us when we were growing up so I know we'll be carrying that on for our kids.

On the 4th, we took a cruise around the local waterway on Ken's step-brother's deluxe boat, creating wakes for Ken's step-nephews to innertube over. Ken and his 2 brothers were together again for the first time in 2 or 3 years and you could tell they were all excited about their upcoming motorcycle roadtrip. But what small town on 4th of July would be complete without a parade? Members of the family decorated a truck & flatbed and pulled together some instruments to make it more festive. I opted out of riding on it due to my incessant need to use the bathroom and my growing lack of coordination & balance that might be needed ride on the "float." Ken's friend Dave showed up right before the parade as did Dave's lady friend and her daughter so we all got to enjoy it together from the sidewalk. I think there were more people in the parade than watching it but it was delightful nonetheless.

The parade ended in a park by the water where many folks including our family had pre-placed BBQs and chairs. We dined on the quintessential 4th of July BBQ food as well as some pasta salads, shish kebabs and cold beverages. I was definitely a little paranoid about the bugs especially mosquitoes and ticks so I kept my insect repelling clothes on (which is why I look a little over dressed in the pictures) and applied a layer of DEET. The night ended with an amateur fireworks show which hearkened me back to when dad would buy fireworks and shoot them off in the front yard at our farmhouse back in Ridgefield when I was a kid.

Everyone returned to the house and many of the adults kept the party going by singing karaoke to songs of the 60's & 70's. Not really being my decades of choice, I focused on a piece of homemade cake that one of the gals had made and enjoyed that very much. Ken and I retired early to bed, missing an element of drama that occurred after midnight involving a missed step, a double sprained ankle and a trip to the emergency room by one of the extended family members. She ended up having to get a brace and be on crutches for awhile, but luckily she didn't break anything.

The following day, we enjoyed a smaller lunch/dinner gathering with Ken's folks, brothers & uncle/aunt where we had homemade crab cakes plus lots of other yummy sides. We then decided to drive to Mike's (Ken's middle brother) house in Salisbury to see their newly remodeled home and spend the evening up there. The 3 brothers were eager to watch Wild Hogs to get them in the spirit of the mid-life motorcycle trip that they were about to embark on. Needless to say, that movie is a little ridiculous but they all enjoyed figuring out which of the 4 characters they were most like--kind of what gals do with the Sex and the City cast. Each of the brothers and Ken's friend Dave took turns riding Mike's new Harley around the block.

During the hour-long car ride back to Onancock, Eddie the oldest of the brothers (and a stanch Republican) started a conversation/debate regarding alternative energy, deregulation and Obama policies. Ken and I did pretty well making our side of the case while remaining respectful and calm. Eddie is smart and a great debater so it's a fun challenge to see how well I can articulate and defend my point of view. But with such a range of views and political philosophies in this family, it is prudent to be mindful not to step too heavily when politics come up. I forget sometimes how in Seattle/Western PNW we are surrounded by many liberally like-minded people and that is not how the rest of the country necessarily thinks or operates.

Last Monday, I returned to Seattle and Ken stayed as his motorcycle trip would commence the next day. Though he just completed the trip, I've only spoken to him for a few minutes each day he was on the road. I expect a full story when he gets back tomorrow and will post some pics--if he'll let me. The only one I've seen thus far is this one:

Friday, July 03, 2009

Educational moment brought to you by MTV

Last night I was flipping through the hundreds of channels on the in-laws direct TV dish cable feed. (Incidentally if I can't flip through the whole cycle of channels in under 10 minutes, I just get plain overwhelmed.) But I came to rest on MTV. Clearly, I have aged out of the intended demographic but they had a show on called "16 and Pregnant." Ken & I were a little dubious because we have also seen "My Super Sweet 16" which glorifies incredibly spoiled teenagers and their over the top birthday celebration. We wondered then if this show would "glorify" teen pregnancy.

No even close.

We watched for almost the full hour and I have to give some credit to MTV for shining a no-nonsense light on a serious topic for once. I have mentioned my utter disdain for reality television because it's not about reality. But this show might be an exception. It was very clear about illustrating in the couples' own words their growing fears, disillusionment, understanding of sacrifice and changes that were affecting them. I kept thinking the mom-to-be in the show was going through many of the same things physically that I am now, but she is almost 20 years younger then me. Twenty years less experience, twenty years less time to grow as a person, twenty years less to establish a career, find a fulfilling relationship and realize her dreams. And any of the minor fears/uncertainties that Ken & I have about lack of sleep, impact on our relationship or changes to our spending & priorities, simply pale in comparison to the challenges facing the couple on the show. The dad just barely graduated from high school and is bound for the military. The mom wanted to graduate and go into the Air Force as well but she couldn't finish her classes with the arrival of the baby and the military won't allow two parents to enlist like that due to hardship on the family. So the gal had to give up everything she was dreaming about for her life for this child.

Another great point this show made was how this couple wasn't using any form of birth control--despite the fact they knew about it and had parents who would assist them with getting it. For some reason, that seems like a growing problem these days. I don't know enough to say definitively, but are people just more careless about their actions and don't care about the consequences?

Hopefully this show will crystalize to teens & young adults that sex is serious business and should not be taken lightly.

But for those of you who have been through a pregnancy, I dare you to go to TLC where they have a show called "I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant." It's pretty self-explanatory but you have to see this show to believe it. I cannot even wrap my head around the concept.