Friday, July 30, 2010

Multnomah Falls along the Columbia River, Oregon

Today, we went hiking with 5 friends at Multnomah Falls which is about 40 miles away from us. If we could cross the river directly, it is even closer.
Mulnomah Falls plummets 620 ft. It is the second highest year-round waterfall in the United States and it is the highest in lower 48 states.
The first picture is at the basin of the fall. The second and the third are on the over hanged deck on the top of the fall. The Columbia River can be seen in the background in the second one.
It is 1 1/2 miles up and 1 1/2 down. After coming down, I consumed a buffalo hamburger in a local restaurant with river review. The view is great but the food is okay.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Crazy week and stuck in a rut.


Today, another thunderstorm rolled through the neighborhood, and we lost power AGAIN for about 2 hours. Yet another branch fell across wires near the house, this time I saw the electrical fire which lasted for 5 seconds, a huge plume 4 stories in the air of bright blue/yellow flame. I couldn't work (obviously), so the kids, Eliana and I played a board game called Flapdoodle. Everytime it's your turn, you pick a card and it makes you do something silly, like sing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star in the voice of a dog or do 4 jumping jacks while chanting a silly phrase or pretend to take a nap on the floor while snoring loudly. It was really more fun than I thought it would be, we adapted a lot of the tasks for Edda and she had a grand time doing her part.


Vince is having a tough time learning to be a gracious loser. He wailed and cried in the middle of the game when he was in last place - we had to take a 15 minute break for him to work through it. Then we restarted and he was a good sport! In the end, he was the loser, but no tears, no complaints. Perhaps even a compliment to the eventual winner, Eliana.

I have been in a funk the past week or so. I can not place a finger on why. I've been in a rut - thinking, if only I had X, then I would be SO MUCH HAPPIER! I have been trying to reframe my attitude, to be happy to be alive and to be grateful for what I have, because I know in the grand scheme of things, I am a very lucky person.

Oregon Coast

Last week days, we went to the coast of Oregon. Here are several pictures to share.
1) Fort Clatsop (re-built) in which Lewis & Clark stayed for 4 months in Winter before heading back to the east next Spring. As part of demonstration, a volunteered lady actually fired an antique rifle in front of all visitors. Boy, it was tedious to prepare and really loud, not like modern guns.
2) A stream with built-in fish ladders. As engineers, we couldn't quite figure out why? There is no dam, no obstacle along the stream in sight?
3) Mom in front of Tillamook Cheese factory, there were a lot of cheese in that factory. Their no sugar ice cream was delicious.
4) Mom in front of a Mig-17 in the Air Museum of Tillamook.
5) Mom inside the museum. It was built using wood entirely in World War II because steel was scarce and there were a lot of timbers in the Pacific Northwest. It still is the single largest wood structure in the world. It was a hanger to house 6-7 blimps which patrolled up and down the coast to spot Japanese submarines. The blimp could stay up for 48 hours at 50 miles/hr and, amazingly, this hanger was completed within 29 days. These days, a "green" report probably would take up 29 years or, maybe, longer.
6) Mom and the sand buggy she rode in.
7) The sand buggy on its way along the Oregon Coast line.
8) Mom, sand buggy and sand, more sand :)
Well, the weather was very cool along the coast - see Mom's jacket. May be, we will take another short trip to the mountains in WA this week. But, no during the weekend.
Mom is thinking that, if next year summer time, all the kids plus rubby can come here. It must have more fun and less heat :)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Photo montage of blackout!

Heavy grill blown over:


Huge branch on neighbor's deck:


First night, reading in the dark:


Next morning, where the hell is my TV?


53 hours after the power went out, there was the great fridge purge:


This is what caused it all, a little branch between two uninsulated lines. Pepco guy came in a bucket truck, grabbed the branch, made a phone call and we were back on the grid.


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Power outage.

It's been CRAZY around here. On Sunday afternoon, we lost power to the house via the incredibly intense storm system that blew through the DC area. We saw the huge blue flashes of light (I thought the house was exploding) as a branch crossed two above ground uninsulated lines right in front of our house and shorted them out.

We spent the first night at home hoping for the power to be restored quickly, but now it's day 3 of power outage and we are trying to figure out what to do with Little the tadpole who is now living in murky unfiltered water and the puddle of sticky melted Popsicle on the kitchen floor. We've managed to move base camp to Gaithersburg - here's Jeremy email that he sent to family:

So we filled up our coolers with everything from our fridge and freezer, packed up all our electronics and chargers, and headed west! Just like the settlers, we put a sign on our wagon train reading "Gaithersburg or bust!" 10 minutes later (they fixed all the traffic lights on Rte 28) we were there. What a nice campsite while we wait for them to restore our power. I am working in the dining room, and Eliana is taking care of the kids in the family room. The AC is working its way down from 85. It's 84 now, but we'll get there.

However, our Gaithersburg locale lost power last night which made me feel extra stupid because we spent a bunch of time moving stuff from our house to Gaithersburg. I don't get off work because of power outages, I could either take leave or go into Alexandria, so I've been going into work for the past two days and showering at work. We are hoping that power will be up tonight.

It's now 10:43 pm and we are back at the house! Home sweet home. Pictures tomorrow.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.


Vince has been attending musical theater camp for the past three weeks and today was the day of the performance. When I signed him up for this camp, I did not realize how much work is was really going to be for Vince. They performed Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (which I have never seen before). It was a pretty intense experience, they put on a 45 minute show, full of choreography and memorized lines and songs. And the kids were so little, little! (There were 2 other shows with the bigger kids...)

Vince was Jacob, Joseph's dad, and here he is, about to give the coat to Joseph. (Yes Joseph is played by a girl who is taller and probably older than Vince.)


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Hiking, Hiking & More Hiking, But No Fish Yet ...

Recently, we hiked a lot. Besides, after spending so much in fishing gears, there has been no fish in our net yet. I guess, we can postpone buying the freezer for a while :) Today, we went to a blueberry pick-yourself farm, Mom picked 11 lbs and I did 7 lbs for a absent friend. They are very fresh and taste good.
Here are several pictures for sharing:
1) After 2 flowers, here are three additional ones. I call this plant "the amazing plant". It was dormant for 8 months without water. And, then, it suddenly comes to life.
2) Happy Mom! Why? Because I supposed to wash dishes after a nice dinner at home.
3) A hiking trail.
4) Hiking buddies at picnic. These folks are our buddies at Vancouver, WA. They are all away from their kids, but visiting them often. They like outdoor and enjoy small town living. They all travel quite often. Two of the families were my high school classmates - only one here though. Of course, no income tax in WA and no sales tax across the river in OR help too. In addition, nice dry, cool weather in summer is a plus.
I heard more people will settle here. That is good news for us.

My friend Vickey.

This is my friend Vickey. She is a patent examiner extraordinaire! She has a very lovely green couch.


This is her dog, Charlotte!


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Happy blog-anniversary!


It has been 8 years since I started this blog! We had just landed in Taiwan and Vince was 4-month-old. So much has happened since then...

Monday, July 19, 2010

Morning in the park.


Edda woke up in time to spend a few minutes at the park before the day got really, really hot.


They need to make slides big enough for grown-ups; Jeremy got a little stuck on the way down.


Our local playscape is handicap accessible - although I'm not sure we've ever taken Edda's wheelchair up this ramp.


PBS documentary 'Breakfast Special' features Portland restaurants Tin Shed Garden Cafe and Helser's On Alberta

Last Sunday, Mom & I drove to "Tin Shed Garden Cafe" to have our breakfast. The street, was a fairly bad place, is being transformed itself by these two owners of this cafe. There are a lot of new and modern shops, restaurants, etc. popped up along the street. Many years back, when these two owners showed up at Portland, broke, decided to open this cafe in this fairly bad neighborhood, no once could believe in their aspiration. See below

It really is a "rags to riches" and/or "good from bad" success story that moved everyone, including PBS & me.

When we arrived at the restaurant at 8:30 AM, a lot of cars already parked outside along the street. Inside the restaurant, nothing fancy, but many old mismatched tables, chairs here and there, inside and out. Coffee, tea is self-served. People were friendly and cordial. The prices were pretty reasonable. Customers, by looking and listening to them, seemed to be well-educated & belonged to middle upper class.

But, to my disappointment, the food is not not good as what has been advertised in PBS. But, it is good though. I guessed, that morning, the food had a serious disagreement with my taste buds. Or PBS emphasized its success too much on food instead of "people like to see ordinary people, like us, become successful, especially under very difficult circumstances."

Or may be, the right chefs didn't show up to work last Sunday morning.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Big's big day!

 Now that Jeremy's back in town, we are again eating beautiful fruit and vegetables.  It is no secret that when he's out on business, we eat a lot of kid-friendly crap - pasta, chicken nuggets and scrambled eggs for dinner (I was pretty proud of myself that we ate at home every evening, no pizza delivery for us!) - we have been pretty low on fruits and vegetables.  But no more!  This morning Edda and I shared this wonderful pear/strawberry fruit salad.


Also, while Jeremy was out of town, Big the tadpole, morphed into a frog.  So today was Big's big day - he got to go back into the wild! 


I hope he's OK out there and did not already turn into someone's dinner. 

Edda napped through the big release:


Saturday, July 17, 2010

Video chat.

We haven't done much video chatting in the past, but during Jeremy's business trip last week, somehow we figured it out.  Pretty fun! 



More Pictures to Share

There are four more pictures from West Coast to share:
1) Mom & a rose from our backyard - we were absent about 8 months but the roses still grew by themselves.
2) Our amazing house flowers - after 8 months without any water, Mom started to water them 2 weeks ago, It had 5 flowers like these three already. Very pretty.
3) Hiking on a bridge at La Camas Lake, Camas, WA
4) Hiking on a trail around the lake, Lost Lake, OR with Mt. Hood (white, tall one in the middle) in the background.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Catching up.

I have not been a good little blogger this week. I suffered this week from a prolonged fit of anxiety. It has been hard for me to pin down exactly why I have this adrenaline-like anxiety. I hasn't been very bad, it just feels like I'm about to interview for a job or like I'm about to stand in front of the class and give a speech about turtles or "To Kill a Mockingbird". I can still work, still cook dinner, still tuck the kids into bed and still talk to other people in a sane way. All good.

Jeremy has been traveling all week again. I miss him. He talks more than the rest of us combined. It's hard to have a conversation with yourself at night.

I have been sleeping each night with the kids. In the past, I've hauled an extra mattress from the basement into the kids' room, but this time, I just scoot Edda over and we share her twin bed. It's very crowded, but Edda is pretty good about giving me half of the twin. Vince asked if one night I could sleep with him - but I had to turn him down because he spins around like the hands of a clock during the night. Not the most restful situation.  Edda and I both sleep better in the same bed. I don't have to get up in the middle of the night when she wakes and she also sleeps later with a warm body next to her.

Vince has been having trouble with spelling. I have known this for many years (OK, well like 18 months, I don't think he's been spelling for many years), but I have been ignoring this. Every night we drill word wall words. It is really difficult to spell words like "one", "pour", "could" and "said". One forgets how hard it is to learn to spell the English language.


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Fishing in WA

Yesterday, we bought two licenses for fishing. Here in WA, there is no senior rate, not like SC where people over 65, no fishing license is required. Besides, we bought a lot of other fishing stuffs. We spent a lot.

This morning, we went to nearby fishing hole and tried to catch some fish to fill our freezer (dreaming but not purchase yet). Just five (5) minutes passed, no fish in sight to take a bit. Mom decided to change place to Bonneville Dam, about 20 miles to the east. There we talked to two fish men. They showed us a lot and, enthusiastically & willingly, passed their experiences on how to catch steel heads, salmons & shads. Guess what, we need to change all our bites and gears to suit its needs. In short, keep spending more.

Mom is particularly interested in shads. Now, no one here would like to consume them (too much small bones.) But, it was a life saver for the starving and under-nourished troops of General George Washington along the Delaware River during the American Revolution. It may turned the tide against British army.

Anyway, shad is a priced-fish in Mom's native hometown, Shanghai. It can fetch US$150.00 per fish. Here, it has millions upon millions of them in May & June near the Bonneville Dam exit. Talking about trade deficit - shads may help a little :) Therefore, we paid special interest on the type of bait they use. We will definitely fish here for shads next year in May and/or June.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Bumping into people in SF

Pet photography.

I also took some photos of the dog! Meet Charlotte! She is a handful.


Sunday, July 11, 2010


I still have my little photography business floating in the back of my mind. I thought I'd open the little business and use whatever I made to donate to Rett Syndrome research. I've been not as interested in it lately, I know a photography business is relatively cheap to start, but still, it is some money for equipment, software and such things, but more than $, it's the time and energy, neither of which I feel like I have right now. Someday! There is so much cool stuff to try and do in this world on top of just the regular stuff like making lunches, doing laundry, calling the exterminator, coordinating child care - stuff including starting your own business, learn to play ping pong, visit the Midwest, take ballet lessons, be better at Scrabble, cook more than just spaghetti and fish sticks, etc. - , I hope I don't put off too much of it while I'm busy surfing the internet.

I'm slowing working up to actually taking photos of other people. I've done a few favors for people in the past and this weekend, I did a session with a friend of mine. I think this one is the best shot I got. Nice even light - I think a little more of her face and a little less of her body would have been better, and maybe a schooch more turned towards me, but I think it's not too shabby.


Friday, July 9, 2010

We are infested.

(We are still talking about July 4th weekend, even though I know that we are now on the next weekend.) After the Korean BBQ dinner (or maybe the next day), I was walking down the steps of our deck (which I do at least every other day) to take the compost out to the composter when I spy a series of holes on the handrail...


My first thought was THOSE *&^% KIDS have been taking a hammer to the deck! I'm going to kick their little behinds when I catch them. And then I see:


Argh! Someone is eating the house! I just about fainted. So we call in the neighborhood pest control who tell me that it's carpenter ants and bees that are destroying the deck. As I told Jeremy, this is the trifecta of things I hate! Pesticides, bugs and home repair. I asked all the neighborhood homeowners and hear countless stories of termite/carpenter ants/carpenter bee infestations - there is so much to learn as a homeowner. Being a grown up means that instead of spending your money on cool stuff, you get to spend hard earned money on pesticides. Sigh.

I spent a lot of time today learning about bugs. Apparently the actual hole that you see here:


is caused by a woodpecker who sees the bee going in and out of a small hole underneath the wood board. The woodpecker knows that the carpenter bee is going to lay some yummy larvae in the wood, so then the woodpecker just perches there and bangs away until he gets to the savory morsel.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

July 4th dinner -

I'm still working on posts for the July 4th weekend. As part of the festivities, Jeremy made Korean BBQ! Jeremy made this on an indoor grill which was given to him by a Korean friend, so the grill was going back to its roots.



Edda doesn't seem incredibly excited, but she did enjoy the bulgogi.