Sunday, August 11, 2019

Japanese Stitch-a-Long, part 1

Hi everyone! How has it been another three weeks already??? After wrapping up the Swans last time (hooray!!!), I decided to work on a small project to get me in the mood for my upcoming trip to Japan. At just 54x54, this maneki-neko design fit the bill perfectly:

 
And, somehow, I got it done in three weeks.


Sadly, no, that's not bad lighting -- in the mediocre lighting I was stitching in one night, I grabbed THE WRONG COLOR FLOSS for the bottom half of the "WELCOME" text. I suppose the good news is that I never liked the text -- after all, the cat is really beckoning (maneki means "beckoning"), not necessarily welcoming or greeting. So I'm going to salvage the piece by eventually just turning this into a rectangle and cropping off the text. But first I need to figure out where I'm going to use it! (Next year I have an idea for a project to go through my completed pieces and figure out something to do with at least some of them!)

Now, for my next project ... I was going to work on an orphaned kit I picked up at a thrift store, but instead decided to open up a sashiko kit I bought earlier in the year. I've never done sashiko before, though I have always thought it looked great, and I wanted to try out the craft in case I need to pick up additional supplies on my trip!

I opened up the kit last night, and I'm happy to report that some of the instructions are indeed in English! This kit doesn't contain much of the "traditional" patterning, except the interlocking circles at the bottom.


As such, I don't know that I'm really doing "sashiko" -- which means "little stabs" -- because with the curved lines on the cherry blossoms I have to keep turning the fabric. And while I clearly need to work on making my stitch length more consistent.


More to come on this!

I love this stitch-a-long -- it's a lovely mix of motivation and inspiration! If you fancy joining in, visit Avis's blog (first on the list below) for more info. And if you just want to look and feel inspired by a wonderful range of projects, check out what my fellow stitchers are working on!

Avis, Claire, Gun, Carole, Sue, Constanze, Christina, Kathy, Margaret, Cindy, Helen, LindaHeidi, Jackie, Hayley, Megan, Deborah, Clare, Mary MargaretRenee, Jenny, Carmela, Jocelyn, and Sharon.

See you on September 1st for our next check-in!

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Adventure 19/50 : Destination Moon


I have been looking forward to visiting the Museum of Flight this summer to see the "Destination Moon" exhibit. I like an anniversary more than most, and have realized that I kinda dig space, and our exploration of it. It makes sense -- I like nature *and* the built environment, so why not? 

Last Saturday -- on the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, we sat outside in the garden and watched the grainy footage, including the footage aired by ABC television that night. (Seriously, if you haven't watched their little model land on the moon -- an "ABC SIMULATION" they used as filler when they didn't have pictures -- it's pretty great. Except when the "booster rockets" look as if they've started to set the "lander" on fire...) Oh, and we ate "MOON ROCKS" chocolate and "Marshmallow Moon" Oreos, of course...


Seriously, how cute are these Oreos?


But of course, the stars of the show were Neil and Buzz, ON THE MOON. 



So this Saturday we went to the Museum of Flight -- a great museum at any time, but currently home to... THE COMMAND MODULE!


We were surprised, when we visited the DC back in the spring, how much of the Air and Space Museum was closed... and we kept thinking -- BUT THE MOON LANDING ANNIVERSARY!

I'm imagining discussions five years ago in the Smithsonian headquarters. 
"Okay, we need to completely renovate the Air and Space Museum... we've got funding, so let's get it planned out. How about from 2018 - 2025?" 
A tiny voice will speak up, "But... but... we can't close the 'Apollo to the Moon' gallery! The 50th anniversary is approaching!!!" 
Much grumbling will ensue... then "Well, we can keep our model of the lunar lander.... let's just send the command module to storage?" 
"YOU CAN'T DO THAT ON THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY! IT'S BEEN TO SPACE!!!!" 
"FINE. How about that museum in the wild west -- the one that didn't get one of the decommissioned Space Shuttles?"
"Yeah -- that's a good idea -- they'll take it!"


Well their (temporary) loss is our (temporary) gain... and the Destination Moon exhibit was really fun to visit. We got timed-entry tickets for 10:20a.m., arriving by bus at 10:15 and rushing in. The fact that we entered from the street side, rather than the parking lot side, worked in our favor -- we couldn't see any signage that said which way to go for people with pre-purchased tickets, so went to the information counter, where a Very Nice Lady said, "Oh, we'll just print them here for you." Her young coworker said, "But they're supposed to go to the line..." and I said, "Oh, we just couldn't tell where to go with our pre-purchased tickets..." and the Very Nice Lady said, "We're going to take care of them HERE" very firmly, and that was that. 

We got our wristbands and tickets and went straight to the entrance for Destination Moon. There was a little "holding area" with a few pieces -- glassware and toys produced in honor of the Apollo 11 mission, for example -- and a very short line, and then we were in. 

And then it was weirdly crowded... I supposed that the people who, like me, had purchased the first-time-slot tickets were VERY KEEN... and everyone was lined up, reading EVERYTHING. The first section was themed "Washington Goes to Space" and had displays on the Seattle World's Fair, a model of a lunar rover, and a pretty cool Gemini XI flight suit. But it was absolutely rammed and people weren't moving. So we decided to quickly move on to the next area. 

The "The Space Race is On" area was a little less crowded, and I admired this beauty:


Sputnik I and II, launched 4 October and 3 November 1957, respectively. 

Around the corner, in the "Gaining Experience" area, was a SK-1 Vostok Space Suit -- which was developed especially for Yuri Gagarin. Apparently SK stands for "Skafandr Kosmicheskly", literally "diving suit for space". I was so distracted by Public Service Broadcasting's "Gagarin" song looping around in my head, I failed to take a picture of the orange jumpsuit. So instead, I offer up this video from PSBHQ:



I continued on, admiring the handsome Mission Control console -- again, not enough to photograph it, apparently. It was at this point that I lost Wil temporarily, but moved on and browsed the sweet Neil Armstrong artifacts, including a lovely little photo of him strumming a ukulele in the quarantine facility after returning to earth:

#ukelife
And this display of the "Short-Fat Flight Suit" -- so named because the legs were too short and the waist was too big. I loved reading that, after retiring, Neil and his family liked to wear this as a coverall when they were working the family farm in Ohio. 



I was admiring a mockup of a living room, circa 1969, and admiring some sweet glassware (seriously I have no need for more glassware, buuuut...):


when Wil came rushing up to me to say "THERE'S NO ONE AT THE COMMAND MODULE!!!" 

So off we scurried and were indeed surprised to find no one looking at the command module. The Apollo 11 command module. 


They had a looping video above of the command module coming back to earth and splash landing in the ocean. 


Every time I see those red-and-white striped parachutes I think of this:

yes, I know this is a Gemini capsule... and from 1966... but still
Quality time spent with the command module, I went back and looked at the things I missed, including the big recovered chunks of the F-1 engines from Apollo 12 and 16. But I was more interested in the artifacts that had been flown on the Apollo 11 mission, including Buzz's visor and gloves:


and this amazing "survival backpack", one of two (with different inventories) carried on board in case the astronauts crash landed in an inhospitable place:


This backpack had sunglasses (so cool!), sunscreen, a water purifying kit, and a machete, among other items. 

I also loved this pair of artifacts from Apollo 12 -- a photograph of a moon rock before being collected:


and the rock itself:


Some more obligatory hamming it up for the camera:


and then we made the usual lingering exit through the gift shop, where we somehow managed to avoid buying this jacket:


Obviously, had it been black or even a dark charcoal, we would have bought it... but if you want to buy it, it looks like it's also available from Red Canoe's own website.

We spent another couple of hours looking at the museum's collection of flying things, poked around the old Red Barn (love that they pump in woody smells and creaky machinery sounds!), and admired the WWI and WWII exhibits in the Personal Courage Wing -- where I saw my first Spitfire in person. 

Then we headed back across the bridge, had a quick look on the Space Shuttle Fuselage Trainer (sigh), and then the aviation pavilion, where I again wished I had had a chance to fly Concord. (Side note: the woman behind us as we walked through the Concord was grousing that it all seemed "a little snug" and "doesn't seem very luxurious" ... MADAME, YOU COULD FLY FROM NEW YORK TO LONDON IN UNDER THREE HOURS. That's the luxury!!!!! Oh, and you could drink champagne...) We also walked through the big 747 and marveled at how massive they really are. Also, realizing that they entered commercial service in 1970 somehow means that 1969 to the moon seems less surprising, somehow...

Through our entire visit -- but especially in the Destination Moon exhibit -- I was both charmed and amazed by how knowledgable other visitors were. I mean, I feel like I get obsessive and really interested, but these people were REVERENT. It was lovely. 



Thursday, July 25, 2019

Adventure 18/50 : Snoqualmie River Float Trip

When I was thinking about completing 50 adventures this year, I thought about trying to go on a river float during bald eagle season ... but it just didn't work out. Besides, why bundle up and float in freezing cold water then you can do this:


So in June I did a quick search for "river float trips near Seattle" and found Fall City Floating, based out of Fall City and offering float trips on the Snoqualmie River, starting about half a mile downstream from the famous falls.


Last weekend the weather forecast was good, so I reserved two adult tubes for Saturday morning on Friday afternoon, with no problem.

We drove out to Fall City on the early side to find breakfast, and ended up at The Roadhouse, where were midway through an amazing breakfast before I noticed the t-shirt with the Bang Bang Bar logo.


Turns out the exterior of the place served as the exteriors in Twin Peaks. Location-wise, of course it made sense, given how close it is to Snoqualmie Falls...

After breakfast we drove over to Fall City Community Park, where Fall City Floating is located. It was pretty early, so we easily found parking. There were some other groups gathering in the lot, but we were the only folks who didn't look like we were waiting for others. We slathered ourselves with sunscreen -- not a lot of shade on the river -- and got ready for a couple of hours of float time.


First we went to the office, checked in, and paid for the tubes we had reserved. We signed waivers and left my card -- in case we didn't return our equipment -- before going to the trailers outside to pick up our life vests, our "definitely not a frisbee" paddles, and our great big tubes.

We had just missed a shuttle, but went to the "front of the shuttle" line to look at our tubes and wait.


The tubes were large and had a mesh bottom. You could tie them together, too. The shop also offered rentals of "cooler tubes" that you could attach to your tube and float with you ("you provide the ice and food and beverages"). You could even buy special tubes to float your pet, but the wouldn't let you on the shuttle unless you had a life vest for your pet.


A few minutes later, the shuttle arrived, and the two of us piled on. Our driver told us that we were lucky to come early -- we were only the second group to be taken upstream. The driver played a safety tape, reminding us not to stop at the "well-marked red area along the river" (private areas), and to always stay to the right of any orange buoys we'd see.


We arrived at the Plum Boat Launch, noting (with some smugness) the ranger there checking Discover Passes. I should point out that all the Fall City Floating shuttles we spotted before and after our float all had Discover Passes on display. We stopped near the boat launch. got out of the van (note: you're wider when you wear a life vest...) and the driver handed us our tubes and told us to have a good float.

view from the boat launc
Being dim, apparently, and a little worried about my tube floating off without me, I got in the tube too close to the ramp, bottomed out (ha!), and had to clamber out, drag the tube a little farther into the river, and get back in. Wil of course, was already floating gently away... but I managed to get over to him without too much trouble. And then... float...



It took me a little while to really relax ... but after the first five or ten minutes we just tied up together and floated along.


For the most part, we saw no one else on the river, and it was serene and quiet and we talked about doing this again.


There were a few very small rapids to navigate, including one where we both somehow got drenched, but for the most part, it was just a gentle, mellow, floating along. Bliss!




The last stretch was a little noisier as the roadway hugged the river... and having spent over two hours floating at this point, we were ready to wrap it up. In the distance we could see two people ahead of us; I decided we should hang back to watch how they negotiated the dreaded


We had been advised to wear water sandals as the exit is rocky and slippery, and then there's a dirt path to get back to the tube drop-off point. I'm not going to lie -- this was the most challenging part of our float. The rocks are rounded and slippery, and I was more than a little worried about falling. But I made it out of the river with my tube, my paddle, and my camera, so that felt like a win.

We climbed up the bank -- a task only difficult because we were carrying tubes -- and were amused to see a large garbage and recycling area. And then as we approached the trailers we were welcomed back by the same woman who checked our equipment out to us, and noticed THE HUGE LINE. Now, their FAQs talked about how the wait for the shuttle was up to 90 minutes on weekends, and I could believe it.

We had gone from peaceful, watery bliss to a crowded, dusty parking lot with dozens and dozens of people all grumpily waiting for their turn. Suddenly, I thought, well, if I ever did go back, it would be first thing in the morning!

Of course, a lot of people want to go on the river in a big party group -- that's just not my scene. And we inadvertently avoided it by going early!

Coincidentally, a friend of ours also was there for the first time on Saturday. He and his friends -- a group of 10 -- waited in line for TWO HOURS. Oof.

After turning in our gear, we had to go back to the office to retrieve my credit card -- another large line. But as I got my car keys out of the secure lock boxes (a very nice service), someone at the front said, "Did I see someone here to pick up their card?" RESULT! (And excellent customer service.) I brandished my green sheet of paper, walked to the front of the line, was given my card, and was back out of there in under 3 minutes. Well done, Fall City Floating.

We really enjoyed our peaceful float -- and I bet a lot of the people in the longer afternoon lines enjoyed their parties on the water! To each their own. Fall City Floating did a great job every step of the way, from a website that's easy to use, full of information, and where you can reserve tubes in advance, to friendly, efficient staff in the office, at the gear station, as drivers, and along the river. (Oh, and if you're curious, I don't know anyone over at Fall City Floating, paid my own way, and this is a totally unbiased review...)


Sunday, July 21, 2019

Swan Stitch-a-Long, part 15

Hi everyone -- let's cut to the chase... it's happy dance time!


I finished the stitching on the swans piece I started in September 2018!!!


Here's the even better part ... I made it up into a pillow!


This was a bigger challenge than expected, because I had a hard time finding the fringe. Which was only a problem because I found just enough of the fabric I used to finish the raven, fox, and hare cushions, so I wanted to use the same fringe. The fabric store I bought it at -- over a year ago -- had closed. This local "chain" is down to 3 stores, sadly, but they're all treasure troves! I went to another location hoping to find the same fringe, and discovered all the upholstery trims loaded into shopping carts awaiting transfer to a distant location. I asked it it was okay if I looked through them, and the staffer said, "umm, well, okay...."

And after twenty minutes of digging through 5 shopping carts worth of trims -- I FOUND THE FRINGE!!!


I made up the pillow -- discovering that I had sewn in the invisible zipper inside out, but, hey, it's "invisible" so who cares! And I'm so so so happy with the result!


Completing this stitching and this cushion checks off a whole bunch of things from my 101 Things in 1001 Days project, too:

63. pillows – make up raven, fox, hare, and swan cushions!
70. swan needlepoint, part 1 - wings
71. swan needlepoint, part 2 – necks and heads
72. swan needlepoint, part 3 - bodies
73. swan needlepoint, part 4 - plants
74. swan needlepoint, part 5 - background

Now, I know what you're thinking ... what's next???

I thought I had a project ready to go... I picked up an inexpensive little kit when we were on a road trip so I could have something small and compact to work on when we were traveling. And, well, it was perhaps a little too small:


I did like finding a "My 1st Stitch" kit that wasn't a childish pattern, but something that an adult (okay, maybe a teenager) would want to pick up and try. Still, a bonus happy dance!

So, now, really, what's next?

I have a small "rescue project" -- a partially completed embroidery kit rescued from my local charity shop, but I have decided to wait on that and stitch a small free pattern from DMC: a Lucky Maneki Cat cross stitch:


It's a perfect project for summer: small (4x4), relatively simple (no confetti stitching!), and it will be fun to work on while we get ready for our trip to Japan in September. 

I love this stitch-a-long -- it's a lovely mix of motivation and inspiration! If you fancy joining in, visit Avis's blog (first on the list below) for more info. And if you just want to look and feel inspired by a wonderful range of projects, check out what my fellow stitchers are working on!

Avis, Claire, Gun, Carole, Sue, Constanze, Christina, Kathy, Margaret, Cindy, Helen, LindaHeidi, Jackie, Hayley, Megan, CatherineDeborah, Clare, Mary MargaretRenee, Jenny, Carmela, Jocelyn, and Sharon.

See you on August 11th for our next check-in!