Z the baby magnet

My husband is a baby magnet. Kids of all ages gravitate to him and love doing stuff with him, I don’t know what it is about his demeanour, his face, they just feel attracted to doing something to him. Kids are to Z as cats are to a human. They boss him around, tackle him to the ground and tickle him, block his path when he goes places… just on our flight to Maui today a toddler who was being walked up and down the plane aisle reached out and bashed a key on his keyboard while he was typing. Every single time the toddler passed he reached out and contributed to Z’s research paper.

Our neighbor’s kid Asher has also gotten into the habit of blocking Z’s path whenever he leaves the house or comes back home, demanding a password before he lets Z through. He randomly started doing it one day and hasn’t stopped, and now if Z needs to go anywhere and he can see Asher lurking out the window he waits for me to come with him, because of course I repel kids, and Asher doesn’t dare to approach him when I’m around.

Sample conversation between A and Z:
A sees Z approaching from afar and runs to the middle of the path, sticking his arms out to block Z’s passage.
A: What’s the password?
Z: (Seeing that A is holding a transformer toy) Transformers.
A: No.
Z: Dog.
A: No.
Z: Gimme a hint.
A: It starts with a ‘P’.
Z: Phone.
A: Phone doesn’t start with ‘P’! *gives Z a look of disdain*
Z: You might want to check with your parents about that. Pet.
A: It comes out of you. (naturally)
Z: Pee.
A: *triumphantly* Poop!

I think they can tell that Z is on their wavelength. He certainly behaves like it! Today when we were looking for our flight to Kahului, Maui on the departures board to find a gate number he actually looked under the letter H for the destination ‘Hawaii’. I have to write this down here so I will never forget to make fun of him for that. Such mental dereliction usually only occurs in the greatest minds or the greatest fools. I have my hopes that he is the former, but one can never quite tell.

Once he came back from an errand at the bank with a lollipop (for me lol) and because Asher was blocking his path he gave Asher my lollipop in lieu of the password. I’ve tried to look friendlier to Asher and say hi to him when I leave the house but he always cowers in a corner ands stares at me without a word. I don’t know whether to feel relieved or hurt. In any case I hope Asher gives this treatment to all strange looking people in our estate; he makes a fine guard.

Maui is… so damp! And warm! It is just like Singapore, but a tad less humid (and a lot more run down). The feeling when we step out of the car’s AC into the regular air is so familiar. There are also a lot of palm trees and albizia trees and frangipani trees everywhere, I guess we are truly back in the tropics! The sunsets here are way more spectacular though, and you can also see more stars at night, although since it is more damp here one sees fewer stars. It is kind of more warm than I’d like (Seattle is actually perfect now) but at least I guess that means the water temperature should be perfect for snorkeling. All the weather forecasts (on my phone, Z’s phone, accuweather, wunderground, weather.com) are conflicting and we have no idea when to go out and when to stay in (another tropical quirk). I miss predictability!

tête-à-tête 12: Whidbey Island

  • Clamming day! Took the the Whidbey Island Ferry pretty early in the morning and MS nearly left her backpack behind on the ferry – she really is a bumbly (newest term learned from Running Man that they used on Lee Seung Gi)
  • Drove straight to Double Bluff Beach – the tide was low but the clamming was so slow going! We spent nearly 3 hours there and had a really pathetic haul. Towards the end we found a good spot but many of the clams I dug there turned out to be duds >< We did however get a gigantic cockle that nobody dared to eat in the end :P
  • Lunch at the Front Street Grill – of course Gordon’s was closed by the time we finished clamming :S Made the mistake of ordering the linguine again – the smoked pork loin was pretty good though! As were the coconut shrimp. I don’t know why all my memories are anchored around food.

  • Did a whirlwind tour of Whidbey – Coupeville shops (MS and I both bought a cute Japanese box/pouch from Jan Mcgregor), the Lavender Wind Farm (which closed at 5 but we were allowed to walk along the rows of lavender – in full bloom! and take pictures),

    the Whidbey island Walmart to stock up on Knoppers. I can’t believe that’s the only Walmart that sells it.
  • Then we spent 30 minutes at the Fort Casey Lighthouse looking at bunnies and compost – there’s a little forest path that takes one on a compost tour – I kid you not!
  • Had to stop by a QFC on the way home to restock on fuel and clams – the seafood guy was missing! But he hadn’t packed up his station either. So LZ and MS tried to get customer service to call him over and I waited awkwardly with another customer for 9-10 minutes until I decided to Take Matters Into My Own Hands and went behind the counter. I offered to help the other guy with his seafood request too but he said he needed fish (which required cutting) and said it was okay.
  • The vongole was smashing! Much better than the linguine at lunch, which was not very difficult I suppose. Many of the clams we caught had little pea crabs in them!  It was all very strange.

Day Thirteen:

  • Went to Kubota for a morning stroll (since MS’s flight was at 2pm) and then had the lovely Tavern burgers for lunch at Loretta’s. Just thinking of them awakes all kinds of burger cravings. They are definitely the best burgers I have ever had!
  • Dropped her off at SeaTac to a not very tearful farewell :P

tête-à-tête 09: Staying in

  • Decided not to hike Heather Lake today – too lazy after all the non-stop going out in Vancouver! That’s way more frolicking about than we are used to. Besides we had lots to do – I baked my parmesan and tomato cake in the morning while MS took a walk in Magnuson Park. We had instant noodles for lunch with sunny side ups and sausages and bok choy. That has been a fond memory of some previous house guests who were not allowed to eat instant noodles back home. (There are many such overly health conscious, dictatorial  parents in Sg who are capable of sucking all the joy out of life)
  • Made the maple leaf bookmarks for her parents and sister – didn’t let her touch any part of the process :P She just doesn’t have the right level of botheration to do something so intricate, and I know it. Unfortunately I forgot to take a picture!

    This is what they generally look like but her parents’ design was slightly fancier with 3 different paper swatches. I shot a lot more pictures of the bookmarks I made last year but all were lost in the great SSD crash of 2018. I still have the bookmarks (except for those I gave away), but am a bit too lazy to shoot them again.
    Apparently her sister got jealous after her mum said I was 多才多艺 (omg I actually got that right! I wrote it out in the journal without checking my phone’s chinese language input. My chinese skills must be improving by osmosis!) When she gave them to her folks after getting back they were all gushy about it too! I didn’t even have to use my new Paper-ya paper. Her sister said my Chinese handwriting is nice, I guess she didn’t tell her it was totally copied from the 书法字典 lol.
  • G came and made bazhang for us for dinner – I kind of anticipated that it would be small so I fried some pea shoots and a chye poh omelet ^^. His dumplings were indeed small! more thanks to the small bamboo leaves we get here than anything else. And he had quail eggs inside! That was a wonderful touch. He tried our raspberry ripple ice cream and said it was too icy and proceeded to text ZH ice cream making advice (unsolicited! We found this out from ZH the next day lol) which MS found somewhat amazing haha. We… are used to it. I can’t even say I am surprised.  He means well, of course.
  • MS finally learnt Go Stop! And won! This beginner’s luck thing is getting out of hand.
  • Late night watching Busted and having a curry maggi mee supper with spam and ajitama. It was awesome!! My husband sleeps way too early!! Anyway I think the plot of Busted moves a lot more slowly than Running Man, and the jokes are rather sparsely located throughout. I don’t know if it’s because a lot of the cast consist of actual actors and not just gag men… Even Jaesuk-nim and Kwangsoo-sshi were not able to rescue it.

Day 10:

  • The weather was supposed to be bad so we nixed our hiking plans to Heather lake. Again :P And ended up staying home. Again :) Which we like more than anything else.
  • Had lunch at Mike’s Noodle House – meepok and congee – it was really nice! MS really likes their congee. And then we did some shopping at Uwajimaya – they cheated me of my money – where the price for coconut milk and soya bean milk are both different from what it says on their price tags! So I complained and got my money back. I am quite aunty in this way. If it were only for one item I would probably have just accepted it, but that they had price discrepancies for two items just shows a lack of pride in your job. We also went back to Kinokuniya to look for my ‘These Islands’ book but it was indeed sold out. It was something I requested for our anniversary since it’s so expensive. They did however, have a massive photojournal about HDB flats, which was such a strange thing to find in a Kinokuniya in Seattle. LZ is just gonna order the book online! Amazon doesn’t have it.
  • No Beard Papa. Apparently MS is not a fan. What D:
  • Nuahed at home for the rest of the day and prepped the nasi lemak for dinner. I had everything in my pantry already, which was convenient; just had to mix up more sambal with sambal oelek, tamarind juice, and sugar – one of my biggest cooking hacks.
  • The coconut rice turned out okay but not quite fragrant enough – I guess I am missing the banana leaf. The oven baked chicken came out rather… oven baked and obviously not deep fried – must remember to brush the crumbs with oil next time. Perhaps the fat content of cream crackers is too low compared to Ritz crackers?
  • Taste test! I think it was too easy. Also, they smelled a lot of the things beforehand so it was hard to make it accurate/controlled. Only Z was taking it seriously! MS was announcing the contents of our shopping trip to ZH “to be fair”. People who Do Not Get Things. They could roughly all tell between the flat coke and flat sprite! I wonder why we had such a tough time last time.

Day Eleven:

  • Shopping at T.J. Maxx first – the hat I wanted was gone! MS and I both got sandals – I got a pair of Scholls memory gel sandals in aqua and grey for $25. And a whole bottle of pure geranium essential oil ($7) to replace my Muji one when it runs out. Z found a tub of Proraso shaving cream for $4 (this is the brand he typically uses and orders from Amazon). He was very pleased about it and congratulated me on my eagle eyes.
  • Lunch at Five Guys – MS prefers the burgers here to those at Great State (which have a cleaner taste and less greasy finish). They have more 料 at Five Guys and are greasier. The Cajun fries were good as usual. She was also impressed by the free peanuts lol. Singaporeans are so typical.
  • Went home to nua for about an hour before heading to the Seattle Center for our MoPop visit (tickets booked via SPL long ago) – she didn’t know Nirvana was based in Seattle! Also Death Cab for Cutie was from Bellingham. I didn’t know the rest of the local bands in the Nirvana exhibit. I brought her to the Indie Game room where we must have spent nearly 1 hour playing Overcooked with 2 other  (little) boys :P One of them (Hugh) had the cutest British accent and was so disturbed when he started saying “Cut the to-may-toes! Oh no! America is affecting me!” lol super melodramatic. I was saying ‘to-may-toes’ throughout, which could have rubbed off on him. I also said ‘shit!’ once in awhile whenever I dropped some vegetable, which he also started picking up. “Shit! Oops, my mother won’t be happy about this”  – all of these were monologues to himself – it was just adorable! He couldn’t have been more than 8.
  • Walked through the sculptures in the Space Needle Park and then the Olympic Sculpture Park (my first time).

    The Calder was simply majestic, towering over the space needle from certain angles. All the benches were sculptures as well, so we didn’t know whether we could sit on them or not.

    There was no time for the Discovery Park so we headed straight to Macleods for dinner. Fish and chips (meh), croquettes, and bangers and mash (with a surprisingly not bad Guinness onion gravy). The ale batter smells outside of Macleods promise more than they actually deliver.

tête-à-tête 08: Berrying

  • Woke up early to go berrying at Remlinger Farms. The weather wasn’t too sunny so the raspberry fields weren’t too crowded. Loads of raspberries on the brambles too

  • MS and I got stuck in mud en route to the strawberry fields because I wanted to start at the opposite end with fewer people. The ground looked dry! MS blindly (trustingly, she says) followed me ^^ so her nice track shoes got all encrusted with mud >< I was wearing the croc flip flops my mum bought for me which are rubber so the mud washed right off – it was really difficult to find a working tap at the farm though. The strawberries were all kinda stunted and small but really sweet! I was surprised – much more so than those at Biringer Farm.
  • Checked out Snoqualmie Falls, since we were already in the vicinity, and shot 18374 pictures of dew covered plants.

    It was massively crowded, and difficult even to find parking.
  • Lunch at Macky’s Dim Sum at 1+ There was no wait for a table despite the fact that it was a weekend (not true the last time we went!). All the dim sum was pretty forgettable but the XO carrot cake was excellent! I’m still not a fan of how they deep fry the radish cake but it was so soft and creamy it probably needed to be battered or it would all fall apart.

  • Headed to Michaels to find my letter board again (failed) and then francesca’s to help MS get jewelry for her mum and sis. She ended up getting a world map necklace for her sister against my better judgment – I wound up buying the gold and opal one I told her to buy
  • Went to ZH’s house at 4-ish and started on the raspberry coulis while he worked on the vanilla ice cream base.

    MS is almost as bad at Code Names as JW and his octopus card! She had one word left (‘key’) and gave the clue ‘necessary’! What is that even?? How about ‘lock’? ‘lime’? ‘Florida’? ‘spacebar’? She was also very good at cluing the Assassin. Both her and LZ are hopeless at Contact (against me) lol. They took nearly half the drive to Remlinger and back to guess my word, and even then it was because I gave them some concessions as it is not really fair given how well I know both of them. When we play Contact it devolves quickly into a volley of insults more than anything else:
    Z: MS lacks this- (starting with the letter A)
    I: Contact! 1, 2, 3, Aptitude
    Z: Ambition
    MS: Ivana is this- (starting with the letter C)
    Z: Contact! 1, 2, 3, Clever (lucky for him!!)
    MS: Condescending (dirty look from me)
  • Late dinner at Great State Burger with their awesome fries – not much else to eat around ZH’s house that’s within walking distance.
  • Walked past the 3 spheres and ZH carded us into Amazon Go (since we are too lazy to dl the app). I picked up a bag of brownie brittle (only $3.69!) and we all got free Amazon go tote bags. The rest of the cold, ready to eat food wasn’t particularly inspiring. We headed back to his place to pick up the now ready raspberry ripple ice cream and then made a short stop at the Met Market to buy my glasses on offer. I’m slowly replacing my stemless champagne Crate and Barrel glasses for something stodgier and sturdier with a fatter base but of similarly thin borosilicate glass from the Met Market. They’re pretty pricey though (about twice the price of my Crate and Barrel ones) but less likely to break (I think?). MS got a pack of spicy peanuts for her dad.

tête-à-tête 07: Vancouver

  • Last day in Vancouver!

    We had crepes in Faubourg and MS and I went crazy over all their amazing cakes and pastries – I bought palmiers and raspberry financiers and a blueberry lavender danish and a lavender mousse cake and a matcha passionfruit cake. The cakes kinda melted in the car on the way back though :S because we took too long loitering around Vancouver and the bakery was the first stop so they were an abstract mess by the time we got back.

    MS seems to really like lavender flavoured things. Too bad the lavender wind farm gift store was closed when we went.
  • Some last minute shopping at Zing paperie which has a lot of cute cards but not much more than Paper Source – I bought a stack of recipe cards and a cute card for MS that goes like this:

You’re the first thing I think about in the morning. You get me through my day. You have an enchanting, rich, aromatic smell. YOU MIGHT ASSUME I SIMPLY STOLE MARKETING COPY FROM A COFFEE BRAND AND HASTILY CRAFTED THIS CARD, but you’d be wrong. I wrestled with these long-considered sentences for hours on end, carefully selecting every word. I also love that you are Fair Trade certified.

  • Dropped by Gas Town to pick up the Delice d’Erable maple biscuits but they were out! of! stock! WTS! MS wound up buying some crappier touristy ones from a touristy shop. I bought a nice marquetry keychain with the Inukshuk for M and C, but MS ended up buying one of my Inukshuk keychains from me to give to her dad, apparently her family likes souveniry things like that – she also got her mum a Seattle Rain Festival T-shirt from Pike Place
  • Meadow has closed!!! The travesty!! Where am I gonna get cute expensive things??
  • Still too full from our crepes in the morning for lunch so we headed to the VanDusen first for a stroll –

    walked through their maze again and found the stone garden! Which I don’t remember seeing before.

    Managed to show MS the staghorn sumac and lamb’s ears (which she has probably forgotten by now), the incense cedar, and the very fragrant linden tree. She really liked the huddled couple on the bench sculpture just at the entrance – she seems to be a sucker for all sappy things!

    I got a good shot of my stone people but – lost his hair!! We filched a stray sprig of faux leaves from Michaels in Issaquah to replace it – not quite the same but similar enough. I think it took us about 2.5 hours to walk though the whole garden. We made her take a picture hugging the humongous sequoia trees, one of the furthest north sequoias, I think. There was an Indian wedding going on in the Great Field – lots of richly colored saris and silks floating about – the atmosphere is just more festive at an Indian wedding because of all the amazing clothes. We briefly contemplated how we could sneak in and pretend to be guests just to try some of the buffet food.
  • We were super famished by the time we got to the Banana Leaf of Broadway – ordered 2 of their 11 course meals – scallops in curry, chicken satay, papaya salad, rendang, mussels in green curry (very dilute :S), lobster in garlic sauce, jumbo prawns in black pepper sauce, goreng pisang, okra, coconut rice – and I don’t remember what else. We also got a plate of char kway teow in case there wasn’t enough carbs – the CKT was enormous! Obviously we had no room for Mean Poutine after that, which is just as well. To borrow an expression from Astrid Lindgren, we ate until we were four-cornered.

  • Shopping on Main Street –  I got some cute dog brooches by Meri Meri from Front & Company;
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    walked into a shelf in 49th Parallel – and still have the bruise!! Someone was laughing evilly at me since I’d previously accused her of being much clumsier than the average person.
  • Did not get held up at customs otw home! Hooray! But we also avoided the Peace Arch customs and went by the truck route.
  • Dinner at Chick Fil-A, refuel at QFC!

tête-à-tête 06: Capilano, Squamish

  • Another early start to see the salmon at the Capilano Hatchery – the place was jam packed! With fish, not humans. We didn’t ever bother bringing her to the Chittenden locks on account of the Capilano Hatchery just being that much more beautiful. The Japanese maple there was blood red, reaching out toward the sun.
  • I stupidly proposed to hike to the Cleveland Dam, forgetting that we were in Canada with its insane terrain –

    it took 336(?) steps to get to the dam – MS counted on the way down. We were winded by the time we got to the dam but the view was totally worth it. Next time, we’re driving.
  • Lunch at the Fried Chicken Works at Lonsdale Quay –

    there are so many restaurants there! We got the half and half fried chicken and a bowl of fried noodles from another stall and ate it all! Even though the chicken was family sized!
  • LZ made the drive to Squamish –

    I got a long exposure of Shannon Falls,

    we took a short nap at the Sea to Sky gondola car park before heading up the gondola. The sky was really cloudy in the morning but had cleared up somewhat so we got a pretty good view over the valley – nearly no mist!
  • Hiked around a bit along the Spirit trail to the trail that overlooked the Stawasmus Chief – think the last time we came with JW it was too foggy so we didn’t bother hiking much.
  • Had some poutine at the Lodge Cafe and salted egg yolk fish skin and took a little nap at one of the lookout points right next to a waterfall. In the queue to take the ferry back to Edmonds a guy in the next car actually stepped out and asked for a photo of our salted egg yolk fish skin! The description of the contents of our package was printed quite large and he seemed to be very curious/amazed that anyone would eat such a thing as a snack, so he just had to get a photo of it. I offered him a piece to try but he declined :P Ang mohs missing out on so much in life.
  • MS met one of her friends at the top! With her husband with whom she eloped in Vegas. Other people’s lives are so exciting.
  • Dinner at the Cactus Club – got the fish tacos (meh), the san choy pau with “szechuan” chicken, the ravioli with butternut squash and prawns, and the Hunter chicken which Pastor C ordered last time. MS really liked everything, but that was probably because I did all the ordering ^^
  • Started on the 2011 Music Festival Infinite Challenge episodes!