Monthly Archives: August 2017

Eclipse 2017

While we were not on the path of totality for this solar eclipse, we were close enough (92%) that we got a pretty cool show. I stayed home from work for the morning and set up our telescope as a solar projector onto our white-topped wooden table. It was awesome! We could see all sorts of sun spots and the eclipse was awesome! I think the projection worked much better than the glasses: it was a pinhole camera on steroids.

The weirdest parts of the eclipse was that it got about 5 degrees colder during the eclipse and the very weird orange tint that the sky had during the eclipse. 10 out of 10, would view again in 2024.

The projecting telescope setup. All it takes is a telescope, a 90 degree viewing lens, and a large white surface

The projecting telescope setup. All it takes is a telescope, a 90 degree viewing lens, and a large white surface.

Also projects onto Jasmines.

Also projects onto Jasmines.

Neighborhood cat joined the viewing party.

Neighborhood cat joined the viewing party.

This is the view of the sun directly through a solar filter, I think I like the projecting better.

This is the view of the sun directly through a solar filter. I think I like the projecting better.

The closest to totality we saw.

The closest to totality we saw.

Sunspots! Somehow that was cooler to me than the eclipse.

Sunspots! Somehow that was cooler to me than the eclipse.

Birthday Dinner

In the tradition of our lives, I made Jasmine a fancy dinner for her birthday. Behold!

Appetizer: Hamachi sashimi. One of our local grocery stores has a very good fish monger.

Appetizer: Hamachi sashimi. One of our local grocery stores has a very good fish monger.

Dinner dish #1: Miso eggplant with bonito flake.

Dinner dish #1: Miso eggplant with bonito flakes.

Dinner dish #1: Udon noodles with shrimp and Asian vegetables.

Dinner dish #2: Udon noodles with shrimp and Asian vegetables.

Desert #1: Latte and chocolate covered macadamia nuts.

Desert #1: Latte and chocolate covered macadamia nuts.

Dessert #2: Blackberry crisp. We have non stop blackberries in the backyard, and I needed to used them.

Dessert #2: Blackberry crisp. We have non stop blackberries in the backyard and I needed to use them.

We agreed that it rated about 3rd or 4th on the ranking of birthday dinners, so I’ll have to try harder to beat the orange chicken and the steak and mushrooms with tarragon.

Baking Day

A few weeks ago, I decided to make bread to go with the chicken soup Lloyd was making for dinner. Bread making is not a quick process. I like to make the dough at least eight hours in advance. So when Lloyd made his usual pate with the chicken liver, there was no bread to put it on. Something we didn’t realize until most of the way through the process. “Don’t worry,” I told Lloyd. “How to Cook Everything says crackers are really easy to make.” Of course, I’d never made them before, but I didn’t let that stop me.

It turns out that crackers are actually easy to make. The only problem that I ran into was that scoring the crackers only helps if you let them cool before trying to break them. We were a little impatient to try the pate and ended up ripping the crackers more like bread. As they cooled, they tasted more like crackers – not terribly exciting ones as I hadn’t added any seasoning other than salt. We were pretty happy with them and will probably make them again.

I probably could have rolled it out more neatly, but it tasted pretty good!

I probably could have rolled it out more neatly, but it tasted pretty good!

When the soup got close, I put a little sea salt on the top of the french loaf I had made and put it in the over. There’s just something nice about homemade soup and fresh-baked bread.

Sorry, no accompanying soup picture.

Sorry, no accompanying soup picture.

Because I had apparently not baked enough yet and it was a weekend, I also made a carrot cake that day. I think I used about 80% of my brand new 5 lb bag of flour in one day! Definitely a new record…

This is probably our favorite dessert.

This is probably our favorite dessert.

Washington Midsummer Renaissance Faire

We have talked for a couple of years now about going to a renaissance faire and this weekend we finally got around to doing it. The Washington Ren Faire is only a half an hour drive south of us and the weather decided that, rather than being smoky and hot, it would be partly cloudy and delightful.

The fair was actually a lot of fun and I am excited that we finally went. There were a number of vendors there, and while a number of them were the standard trash, a large number of the vendors actually had some really nice handmade wares. We bought a hand-glazed porcelain tea mug, and I was also quite impressed with some of the leather work. The jewelry is usually a bit sad, and this wasn’t much different.

The best part was the jousting and HEMA demonstrations. While they were clearly all staged, there is something cool about watching fencing, and fencing with lances on horses only makes it cooler. I think we will certainly be going back to a Ren fair sometime in the future.

Wandering around the fair looked mostly more of less like this.

Wandering around the fair looked mostly more or less like this.

Non stop puppy action at the fair.

Non stop puppy action at the fair.

Some people were very excited to be on horses.

Some people were very excited to be on horses.

Joust!

Joust!

A bit of choreographed fencing.

A bit of choreographed fencing.

Sometimes you win, sometimes you loose.

Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.

Wandering Ballard

We went up to Ballard last weekend for some wandering around Seattle and made a good day out of it. We did what has become somewhat of a tradition and parked in Fremont, then walked down to Ballard. This time, we kept going through all the way to Discovery Park. Discovery Park is OK; it is just another quasi-crowded city park – with the advantage of having a beach on the west side. I don’t know that we will go back in the summer, but maybe when it cools down a bit in the fall.

Ballard is actually a pretty happening place these days and we did a bit of shopping and cafe hunting. The conclusion was that Ballard was indeed sufficiently hipster to have good coffee and quirky restaurants which is Jasmine and my jam.

Step 1: Find a raven that is keen about cycling.

Step 1: Find a raven that is keen about cycling.

There is a nice little rose garden by the Ballard Locks.

There is a nice little rose garden by the Ballard Locks.

The locks release there payload.

The locks release their payload.

Now with a salmon run. I believe that these are sockeye.

Now with a salmon run! I believe that these are sockeye.

The water was quite pretty, but quite cold. I got in about knee deep and I saw a school of smelt. a halibut, and two seals.

The water was quite pretty, but quite cold. I got in about knee deep and I saw a school of smelt. a halibut, and two seals.