Camping as a family

This weekend Ella, Madeline, Michelle and I took our first camping trip as a family. We were actually camping with a group of college friends celebrating 10 years of friendship and stuff. The camp site was at Horseshoe Cove Campground, on Baker Lake up in Northern Washington. It was quite the haul, as I’m sure our friend Joe can attest. He rode with us from Portland to the campground and back wedged between two car seats. He did a great job of keeping the girls entertained, and seemed in good spirits about the whole thing. I later figured out the ratio of travel to camping at something like 15.5:36. We’ll have to work on those numbers, especially with the ‘lil ones.

In many ways, this camping trip was a test for the future of camping for our family. We all made some sacrifices, especially when bed time came and it became clear that neither Ella nor Madeline were going to sleep in their designated areas. All 4 of us ended up sleeping on a double air mattress that leaked. My butt and hips were touching the ground at almost all times during the night, but my mass helped keep the rest of the family reasonably inflated. We also tested the early stages of a camping kitchen, and things went quite well. I learned yet another way that my mother showed her love too; by her doing camping dishes. Without a good place for them, camping dishes are wretched, especially without a dog (he stayed home… no room in the car). I may boycott bacon on camping trips from now on despite how good it was on Saturday morning with some home laid eggs and coffee.

Our friend Clem and his daughter Talia also came on the trip so Ella had a playmate the entire time. She seems to have had a blast, which is a relief. Not only that, despite a 2 am outburst, the girls were quiet during then night and I think our friends largely forgive being woken up so early by kids. We were rather worried about the whole kid thing since we’ve been doing camping trips for a decade now that were..rowdy. Turns out that’s normal, and the two camp sites near us fit the same profile, and they were even louder than us.

I bought a fishing license in hopes that we could enjoy some trout for dinner on Saturday night. I had no luck though until after dinner, though the 4″ trout wouldn’t have been much of a meal. So I put it back. Ella actually watched me catch the fish and release it, and she wasn’t scared or upset. She even got to reel in a few casts, which I think she rather enjoyed.

So besides the great comfort of old friends and the joy of seeing them all again, I think I’m just tickled that the trip went so well. It will embolden me to camp again, and soon. Here’s some photos.

State of the Garden

I was chatting with Lindsay the other day talking about our gardens and she asked me to post pictures. Here they are.

The strawberries are still mysteriously vanishing before I can eat them, and I’m doubting birds as the culprit. So far, the peas haven’t made it very far. From the vine to our mouths. They’re crisp, sweet, and delicious. The chard on the otherhand has made it in to meals, and will be doing so again very soon. Beans are on their way as well.

Shellac in ’09

I’m a junkie. Two weeks ago while listening to Trans Am radio or something similar, a Shellac song came on and I clicked on the “loved” button. I also noticed that there was a small “on tour” flag next to their name. Curiosity caused me to click on the link and I was pleased to find that they were in Portland for 2 nights only 2 weeks from that day. And tickets were only $12. Suck on that, Ticketmaster.

I started listening to Shellac in high school when the band leader for a band I was in gave me a tape of stuff he was inspired by. Shellac has released a few albums in the decade since, but I kind of expected I’d never see them; they’re famously picky about where they tour and have no need to make more money. So I jumped on the opportunity.

The show was at Berbati’s, which isn’t my favorite, but it’s been really good to me the last couple years. I’ve seen several really great shows there, and frankly, the sound and venue beats the bigger venues any day. At Berbati’s, the furthest you can be from an artist is roughly the same as the closest you can be to an artist at an arena or concert hall. And now that there’s no smoking, you come home only smelling like sweat and whatever drink someone spilled on you.

Suffice to say, the band was fantastic. I went alone because the only person I know that listens to Shellac was some distance away. It was actually quite nice except when I came to some realization about the band, and instrument, or something, there was no one to share it with. Not that anyone would have cared.

Regardless, it was a terrific and unexpected show. I’m actually surprised so few people know about the band since it’s such a cornerstone of post-rock, post-punk movement. I don’t exactly know how to describe it other than economical driving rock. There’s none of the drama or overzealousness of metal, none of the insipidness of punk, and none of the sad-sack business in most indie rock. I guess there’s if you’re curious.

A few additions

The inspector failed me, but he gave me a number of useful suggestions. One was that I include the the original re-plumb on the permit so everything is legit. This of course complicates the project and nearly doubles the cost, but I like to play by the rules so I’m going for it. Now the challenge is finding the time to do so around other engagements and work. The car’s ABS system went out so we had to drive it way out to the mechanic and way out to pick it up two nights in a row, then there the whole thing about shutting water off when people are using it. So tonight I’m going to try and do a quick blitz on the mainline fixes followed by the loudest updates that the inspector recommended on the in-building system. Hopefully that’ll leave the quiet fixes (with the exception of cussing) for after the girls are asleep. I really want to get that hole closed up.

New main line

I agonized over how to make a pun in the title that used pipe, tube, or hole, and eventually gave up. Not because I couldn’t think of any, but rather better taste prevailed.

Anyway, this weekend I replaced the main water line from the city’s meter to my shutoff inside the basement. It was a keystone project that effectively held up 4 other major things we’d like to complete, so once I pass inspection (assuming I do), a cascade of new projects will shower on to our summer weekends.

Unlike some friends I know, I don’t have access to excavating equipment. I dug the trench from the house to the fence, and my parents somehow got roped in to digging from the sidewalk to the meter. All told, the digging and tunneling under the sidewalk took 5 hours. The plumbing then took about 30 minutes. I love pex.

Well, except the part where I was 1 ring short and had to drive all the way out to Parkrose Hardware to buy another. 30 minutes of driving for a 25 cent part. Oh well. Got back, spent another five minutes plumbing, then had a home brew (that plumbing still worked) before turning on the water. Everything worked great. No leaks, more pressure, and a big hole in the ground.

Now I’m waiting for the inspection. This is the first time I’ve gotten permits for anything (shhh) and I’m amazed at how easy the process was. The city of Portland has an online form for smaller permits (plumbing, mechanical, electrical) and I was able to submit and pay for a permit, as well as receive a PDF of the completed permit in under 15 minutes. Damn! I’m a little nervous the inspector is going to want me to change the configuration of the pipe as it connects to the service, so Ella and I might go to the hardware store this morning before the inspector shows to buy the parts, or we might just stay here and telecommute. Plus, I’m nervous about all the middle school kids walking by my trench. I’ve got it covered, but after watching all the New Seasons customers walk over the trench, I have a pretty low estimation of people’s courtesy and intelligence. Someone drove over the plywood I had set out to mark the work site. I watched like 10 people (most of them adults) walk over the covered hole, oblivious to the giant piles of dirt on either side. Jackass entitled liberals…