Chehalis Western Trail Bike Ride / Second Annual Family Gathering at Mason Lake / Eclipse 2017


Let's take a moment and talk about how my vanity makes me love the above photo, shall we? There are so many ways!

I look deceptively tall in this picture. It must be a kind of forced perspective thing, because I am more in the foreground than Dad is. I'm pretty sure Dad and I are actually essentially the same height.

But also, my whole body looks great in this shot. I think it's mostly posture, position, and luck. I do not have a flat belly, much as I always wished I did, for as long as I can remember. I've never had one, not even at my thinnest (and even now I am within less than ten pounds of my thinnest as an adult). You'd never know it from this picture! My shirt is hanging perfectly, and also my arm is perfectly obscuring where you might notice it otherwise. Or I suppose I should say where I might notice it otherwise, since probably no one besides me could possibly give half a shit.

I honestly think I've long had pretty good legs anyway. Good thing you can't see any detail on my toenails, though. You probably don't want to know how those look. Suffice it to say I could really use a pedicure. Dad kind of marveled that I would ride my bike with sandals and not shoes. I don't see what difference it makes. The sandals are on perfectly secure, and my feet feel better cooler.

Dad actually put on a shirt clearly used specially for bike riding. I've never bought any cycling-specific apparel. I've never wanted to have to change my clothes just because I've been cycling. I'm too lazy for that; it seems like a pointless pain in the ass to me. Dad complained of breathing problems when the bike path was even at a slight incline for too long. At one point he was breathing so heavily I said, "Don't have a heart attack!" He was baffled as to why this would be happening, but I have my theories. I don't think he cycles to quite the same extent he had been a few years ago -- he didn't do any cycling, really, through our extended months of constant wet weather this past winter. I'm pretty sure he's gained some weight. And probably most significantly, well, he's 62 years old. Granted, it was only four years ago he was 57 (it was before his birthday that year) and I was way more worn out than him after a 30-mile ride, but these things can turn quickly. Especially with other contributing factors, such as weight gain. I don't think he's gained a lot, but a little -- combined with aging -- can make a big difference.

Besides, I myself am all of 41 and I felt pretty physically exhausted all of the day after this bike ride. I kept groaning when sitting down or getting up. Dad even remarked on it, saying I didn't seem all that tired during the ride like he did. And this ride, round trip, was about 14 miles -- less than half that 30-mile ride. I'm sure we could do a 30-mile ride again; we'd just have to take it easier and pace ourselves. I'm far better at hills than Dad is just because I ride two miles home from work every day, mostly uphill on my way to the condo on Capitol Hill, but my typical ride lasts just short of half an hour. So compared to that, even 14 miles is a hell of a lot more than I'm used to. Dad doesn't usually do a lot of hills and that makes a difference too. I barely thought about how I was straining my muscles during the ride, but I sure felt it the next day.

So anyway. You can click the above photo to be taken to the full set on Flickr for the bike ride -- 35 photos and 3 brief videos; 32 of them from the ride on Saturday, and then an extra 6 from Monday morning while I watched the solar eclipse with Sherri at the house while Dad was at work.

We were going to ride a path Dad had in mind in Puyallup, but that didn't quite work out. Shobhit and I drove down direct from the time he got off work at 12:15 -- I rode my bike there and put it in the trunk, with the front wheel popped off. The drive should take roughly an hour and it took us twice that long, for two reasons: plenty of people already traveling south to be in the eclipse "path of totality" in Oregon; and no less than three accidents along the way. We everaged 35 mph. I suppose it could have been a lot worse, although Shobhit doubled the stress by constantly bitching about other drivers, even though he wasn't even the one driving. He hates it when people leave too much space between themselves and cars in front of them, and goes on and on about it. I'm like, so fucking what? The whole freeway is still packed. If all these cars cut that space, we'd save how much time in the long run? Five minutes? Is that really worth being so fucking uptight on a continual basis? Shobhit apparently thinks so.

We finally made it to the Shipwreck Café, where I had small hope that Dad and Sherri could join us for lunch. I figured probably not once I learned they were attending a memorial service for a lady who owned the theatre in Shelton, which included a showing of her favorite movie, American Graffiti. Lots of people spoke before the movie and the event went on longer than Dad and Sherri expected. Shobhit and I were done eating well before they were headed back to Olympia. Dad and Sherri officially retired a few months ago anyway, only working when the occasional shift needs to be filled -- as Dad did yesterday morning. But they have a manager now, and spend far less time at the restaurant than they used to. They no longer have the set weekly schedule they used to have.

Shobhit and I wanted finally to use a Living Social coupon I purchased three years ago, though. I actually gave it to Ivan as a Christmas gift in 2014, which was weeks before he moved away the first time to spend a year at Evergreen State College, which is not all that far from the restaurant. He never bothered to use it, though. The $30 value that I paid $15 for expired long ago, but when we asked Ivan if he still had the coupon, he actually did, and gave it back to us. It said the purchase value never expires, so basically, we got $15 off lunch on Saturday.

We drove back to the house and waited there. I have a key, and I noticed two keys next to it on my key chain and I can no longer remember what the hell they're for. We then waited for maybe an hour and a half for Dad and Sherri to return. I had a library book. Shobhit actually napped a little, his head on my lap on the sofa while I read. His shift had started at 5 a.m. that day.

He went back home really not that long after Dad and Sherri got there. I foolishly assumed that Dad and Sherri knew the whole weekend plan because I had written it out here; I should remember that although they read this regularly, they don't read it religiously. I should have texted them. They both assumed that both Shobhit and I would be there the whole weekend, not just me. Sherri said more than once she was bummed Shobhit would have to go back home, which honestly warmed my heart a bit. She did mention on Monday morning, "He probably would have been bored to death," which is also true. He also probably would have wanted to leave the family gathering on Sunday earlier than I'd have wanted to. But, who knows. I actually would rather he be able to stay as well, even though he always bitches about having to stay the night and leave the cats for too long, like the insufferable pet owner he's become.

Shobhit was already recommending Dad and I ditch the idea of going to Puyallup for the bike ride. And Dad did decide to do just that, considering both that we were "cutting it close" with how late into the afternoon it was already getting, and how heavy the traffic southbound might still be even after we finished. As Sherri noted, that bike path isn't going anywhere; we can do it another time. So Dad decided on a local ride, which we could ride to right from the house -- the trailhead was maybe two miles away. We took a path called the Chehalis Western Trail, which mostly runs due north to the Woodard Bay Conservation Area. I had never done this ride, and it was quite pretty almost the entire way. There's a lot more detail in the photo captions on Flickr.

There's a park in the neighborhood we ride through on the way back between the trail head and the house, and Dad wanted to do a couple of laps in the small bike path there, "Just to wind down a bit," he said. I really did not want to do this, but chose not to complain. I was so ready to be back at the house, though. I was not just tired from riding, but for some reason my right eyeball was aching in a really weird way. The temperature was just starting to drop as dusk was underway, and something about the way the slightly chilled air hitting it was seeming to be the cause. Once we finally got back to the house and I was no longer cycling through the crisp evening air, I almost immediately felt much better and the weird ache went away.

Dad baked a couple of thin crust pizzas from Costco for us to eat for dinner. Half of one would have been more than plenty but I wound up eating the equivalent of an entire one of those pizzas. They aren't huge pizzas, but big enough. This was the beginning of my weekend of eating insanely too much food. Such is the case at family gatherings, though.


Sunday was the Second Annual Family Gathering -- or, as Jennifer dubbed it in the Facebook event she created for it, "Annual McQuilkin Family Fun" -- at the Mason Lake Recreation Area. This is a spot with massive history in our family; the place was once owned by Simpson Lumber, when they had mills in Shelton, which both Grandpa and Uncle Paul worked at for many years. Employees had access to this place. I never knew these details when I was a kid; I always thought it was just another of the many campgrounds of which Grandma and Grandpa were members. I used to go camping there with family nearly every year as a kid. Jennifer was always there.

Even though the Simpson mills have closed, and the park is now owned by Green Diamond Resource Company, people who worked for Simpson still have access. It's noted in bold on their website: Green Diamond Resource Company operates this area EXCLUSIVLEY for the enjoyment of Green Diamond and Simpson employees, retirees, and their guests. If you are not a Green Diamond Employee, Retiree or Guest, your reservation will not be accepted. Funny they should phrase it that way, because as it happens, Jennifer's husband Eric is a member of the Shelton-Mason County Chamber of Commerce, and they also have access, my guess is because Eric owns and operates two gas stations in town. This is why Jennifer is able to book reservations on her own, without, for instance, being forced to go through Uncle Paul.

She booked the small picnic shelter last year, for the day after the scattering of Grandma and Grandpa's ashes at Twanoh State Park. She and I decided then that we liked the idea of trying to make this an annual event. She really wanted to reserve the larger shelter, which has a full kitchen, but it's tricky to get it before someone else does. She thought she had to wait until February to book it; I even created a Google Calendar reminder to email her about it at the start of February. It turns out they have to wait until March to book reservations for the year, and she discovered this year they can now only be done online. So, by the time she figured that out, someone else had once again gotten the large kitchen. Maybe she'll get it for next year though. She would have gone for a Saturday, but even then was only able to book this year for Sunday, August 20. But that still worked out fine. Not all the same family members were there, but I think maybe more people came to this one than last year. That kind of makes sense since last year the ashes-scattering that Friday served on its own as a sort of family reunion. Even Uncle Garth and Gloria, and my cousin Shane, all came from Wyoming; Michael was there from Texas. No one from out of state came this year. But, three of Grandpa's siblings were there.

Apparently Aunt Roxanne, who has always had mental issues, has been committed against her will. Auntie Dean keeps telling people she's in the hospital for a urinary tract infection. Sherri commented on how mental illness should be talked about and not hidden. That's true, certainly, but Auntie Dean, like all of Grandpa's surviving siblings, is very old. She has very outdated views on these things that are not going to change at her age.

Okay. Let's try and do a roll call to get an accounting of all the family present. I'll start by generation, each family line in turn. If Grandpa were alive I'd start with his family, which is by far the largest, first, but am beginning with his siblings now since he's deceased.

1. Auntie Dean [Grandpa's sister]
2. Uncle Lynn [Grandpa's brother]
3. Cindy [Uncle Lynn's daughter; my dad's paternal cousin]
4. Kelley [Cindy's daughter]
5. Markia [Cindy's daughter -- do I actually have this name right? It's how it's written in the family tree I wrote up for the memorial event last year; maybe it's actually Marcia?]
6. Larry [genetically Roxanne's son, raised by Uncle Lynn]
7. Aunt Arliss [Grandpa's sister]
8. Tobin [Arliss's son]
9. Aunt Raenae [Dad's oldest sister]
10. Toni Marie [Raenae's youngest]
11. James [Toni's husband]
12. Thayer [Toni and James's son]
13. Kylar [Toni and James's son; their oldest, Hayden, was not there]
14. Uncle Paul [Dad's brother]
15. Sarah [Paul's wife]
16. Braxton [genetically Paul's grandson via Andrew; adopted by Paul and Sarah]
17. Sarita [genetically Paul's granddaughter via Andrew; adopted by Paul and Sarah]
18. Jennifer [Paul's daughter]
19. Eric [Jennifer's husband]
20. Hope [Jennifer's daughter]
21. Chase [Jennifer's son]
22. Ian [Jennifer's son]
23. Kay [family friend of Jennifer and Eric's]
24. Aunt Penny [Dad's sister]
25. Tammy [Penny's daughter]
26. Erin [Tammy's husband]
27. Dad
28. Sherri
29. Gina [my sister]
30. Beth [Gina's wife]
31. Gaia [16-year-old Italian exchange student being hosted by Gina and Beth]
32. Matthew/me

Thirty-two people is actually a lot more than I realized. For a "second annual" event attended exclusively by locals (meaning from the Puget Sound region), that's not that far off from the 47 family members who came to the scattering of the ashes last year (the total in attendance, however, was 62 people) -- and well over the 18 people who came to Mason Lake the next day. Between the two days' respective attendees from last year, this year's one event fits quite comfortably in the middle, in terms of numbers.

So what details can I share from the day?

I'll start with the ride with Dad and Sherri up to Mason Lake. They started talking about how much they hate how many dogs tend to be brought at these things -- not as intolerable at an outdoor picnic, they conceded, but very irritating at events held at the house. And indeed, there were indeed no fewer than four dogs at this picnic -- all of them small dogs, though. Dad and Sherri went on about it in the car for several minutes, though, until Dad said, "We sound like a couple of old people bitching!" I was like, yeah, kind of. And then Sherri said, "I feel the same way about strollers."

A while after we arrived -- when we got there only Jennifer and her kids were there -- Sherri suddenly called out to me, "I've got two for one, Matthew!" I then laughed really hard when I saw Tammy and Erin arriving. Tammy was pushing a red stroller with her Pomeranian riding in it.

She was literally the single person the entire day with a stroller, by the way. There was a few smaller children but no babies or toddlers, which suited me just fine. Sherri also commented earlier that "the children used to outnumber the adults," with a somewhat wistful tone as though she missed the scales being tilted that way. I consider this a good thing, honestly. I love family but it doesn't have to be huge. The world is quite literally overpopulated enough as it is. People actually should have fewer children, which I would actively encourage in any and all contexts. Anyway, back to the stroller: Aunt Raenae, much later in the day, was the only one who looked upon the stroller with the dog in it, as Tammy and Erin were leaving, and said quite openly, "That's pathetic!" She laughed while saying it, but still. It was a rare case of Aunt Raenae telling it like it is in a sensible manner. Tammy then explained that the dog always gets too tired when she takes it for walks and so she has to carry it, which got too heavy after a while, hence the stroller. Justify it however you like, Tammy.

Then there's Uncle Lynn, the second-oldest in attendance (Auntie Dean would be the oldest). Kind of out of nowhere, with a couple dozen people sitting around in chairs on the ground outside the picnic shelter, he started talking about what an "idiot" Obama was. Beth shut that down right quick: "Hey hey hey, no politics! You keep talking like that and someone's going to get offended." Uncle Lynn tried to defend himself but Beth wasn't having it, and I think most of us, regardless of our politics, appreciated it.

Aunt Penny, of all people, piped up to basically talk shit about Trump, which surprised me. Beth shut her down too: "You think I was just talking about him?" I still really appreciated what Aunt Penny managed to get out of her mouth, though. "Obama didn't think about the lower classes, but Trump doesn't think about anyone but himself," she said. The truth is, I actually think there is a case to be made about that dig she made of Obama -- although it's not exclusive to him; it applies to the entire Democratic party. I'm not saying I agree with it, necessarily, but there's a logical flow-through to the argument from their perspective. Trump's selfishness and narcissism is currently a far more pressing issue.

I was trying to tell Gina and Beth about how I appreciated Aunt Penny being able to get that stated before she was also shut down, but I had to shut myself up because Jennifer, ready to get into the lake, walked up to the picnic table we were sitting at, at the time. Jennifer voted for Trump and this is something I have always found genuinely dismaying. The one time I got into even a minor conversation about why she wouldn't vote for Hillary, she said, "I just think she's a bitch." I was genuinely shocked by this, because I have lived a life feeling like I had Jennifer in my corner. I don't think Jennifer really understands how her vote makes me feel as though perhaps she never really was. I think she thinks she is in my corner. This, really, is a microcosm of the divided nation we are today.

Jennifer posted on Facebook in the aftermath of the election about how irritated she was by people announcing they would unfriend anyone who voted for Trump. I actually agree that such a tactic arguably makes things worse rather than better. The only reason I unfriended Uncle Paul was because every time I posted anything harshly critical of Trump or Republican Congresspeople, which I will admit I frequently turned into personal attacks against them, Uncle Paul would post comments that were nasty personal attacks against me -- which is different. I never posted nasty shit specifically about him, after all. He can still post comments if he wants, since all my posts are public, but getting my posts out of his feed seems to have done the trick on its own. There haven't been any comments from him since.

I sure as shit don't want to unfriend Jennifer, though. She basically served as my best friend all through childhood, and we still want to be in each other's lives. We just avoid talking too much about politics. There is no question in my mind that she, along with the vast majority of my relatives, have no real concept of how they (and I) benefit from a system still propped up by white supremacy; nearly all of them would deny that I could fairly even use those terms. I would argue that such terms are not used often enough. But I still have to make a choice. Do I want to go out of my way to alienate them? Do I still want Jennifer as a close family relative? Early on, Gaia, the 16-year-old teenager from Italy, declared the nearby picnic table "Switzerland" -- the neutral zone. Someone had to say more than once that there was no politics to be discussed there, especially when we could later overhear Dad's cousins (who are closer to my age) Tobin and Larry talking politics nearby. One of them even said -- and this actually cracked me up -- "City people love that shit: being controlled, told what to do."

Oh yeah, I sure love it! Actually I only love it when my hair's being pulled. (I thought about posting that and decided against it. So I'll make the crack here. Moving on!)

I don't know if it was Tobin or Larry who said it. I can never even tell them, or Larry's brother Les, apart. They've all blended together in my mind, all my life. I never saw them often enough -- they were my dad's first cousins, not mine. That makes them my first cousins once removed. Everyone knows now that I'm the single person in the family who knows this terminology. "How are we related?" someone will ask, and someone will say, "Matthew can tell you." I let Hope, Jennifer' daughter, know that she and one of Dad's cousins are first cousins twice removed. People get very confused when they hear that. To me it's simple: a generational difference is a "removed." Your parent's cousin? Once removed. Your grandparent's cousin? Twice removed. People think these are second cousins, but no: a second cousin is in your same generation. Your parent's cousin's children are your second cousins. Your grandparent's cousin's grandchildren are your third cousins. Are you confused yet? And we now have family gatherings where plenty of these types of relations are present, all because my grandparents' siblings and their descendants are still coming around. And now I have siblings with children old enough to say the same about my parents -- their grandparents, and those grandparents' siblings and cousins, etc.

Tobin is about to go to prison, by the way. I find this fascinating, that he pled guilty and will be put away, but not until some later date, so for now he gets to hang out. It was last year (November 3) that he shot a gun at someone stealing his car, and he hit a woman sleeping in a neighboring home, killing her. She was shot in the fucking head! I did some quick Googling and see here that sentencing is set for September 8. Frankly, to me this is just a reminder of the clear need for gun control laws: to keep them out of the hands of idiots. That you have to pass a test to drive a car but not own a gun is straight up insane.

So anyway. The guy pictured there is my dad's cousin. My first cousin once removed! And he was there with all the rest of us, enjoying an afternoon picnic, a convicted killer. Ho hum! I mean, it's not like I was afraid of him. I suspect he wasn't carrying. I just think of him as a moron. If he and I had a conversation long enough I'm sure he would think the same about me, so I guess we're even, sort of? Larry did talk to me; he asked how things were going. I'm not sure Tobin and I have had a single genuine conversation about anything for our entire lives, come to think of it.

And then there's Gaia, the 16-year-old (17 in something like a week or two) exchange student from outside Balogna, Italy, being hosted from about a week ago until June by Gina and Beth. She's an out lesbian teen, which is a big part of her being placed with Gina and Beth -- something I find very cool, that the placement organization is that purposeful about placement. Before she even got here, there were conversations on Facebook warning her about our crazy family. She mentioned more than once how Gina told her that at this family get-together, "This is where you'll meet some of the nutjobs." She didn't find too many people to be nutjobs, although she had a really hard time getting over the dog being pushed in a stroller. I tried to explain "white trash" to her, and she was like, "Oh, so like a redneck?" Hmm. Sort of. She seemed to feel she understood what a redneck was. Later it was somewhat of a challenge trying to explain the difference between "hillbilly" and "redneck." There are plenty of Washingtonians who might be described as the latter, but the former is mostly confined to the Appalachian region. (Sherri has family from Kentucky, and she clarified for me that they pronounce it with the third syllable as a short "a" -- "Appa - latch - an".) I think this pretty much just muddied things for her.

Gaia seems like a very mature 16-year-old, and more than once I had to remind myself how young she was. I kept regarding her the same way I do any adult, which could be sort of problematic. She's still a kid. A very cool one, though. I liked her a lot. She fit right into this family from moment one -- her capacity for sarcasm outstrips pretty much all of us. She teased Dad relentlessly, both about how many beers he was drinking (he had four; she kept saying he was drunk), and especially about his forgetting to pack the pasta salad Sherri had spent three days making for this event. They invited several people over for dinner last night to help them eat it.

In one of the Facebook comment conversations from last week, we were all competing about which one of us would be the worst influence. At one point I posted, "CHALLENGE ACCEPTED." So when she was first introduced to me, by the swing set, she said, "Oh, the bad influence!" Ha!

Gina and Beth often leave these events earlier than most, but Gaia wanted to keep hanging out, so Dad and Sherri said they would drive her back with us. When we finally left and she rode with us, Sherri suggested we stop at Dairy Queen. I had seriously stuffed myself silly already. Dad resisted the idea slightly, but Gaia had never been to a Dairy Queen. And Sherri asked me, "Matthew if we stop at Dairy Queen will you get something?" I said, "I am so full. But, yes." Sherri said, "That's my boy!"

I was glad to see, though, that I could get not just a small Blizzard, but a "mini" -- which honestly is itself plenty. It's like a dollar cheaper than the small, which was the size Sherri got. Gaia, however, ordered a strawberry milkshake, which she did not realize would come with whipped cream on it. She proceeded to scrape the whipped cream onto her napkin. I texted Gina the photo and she wrote back, Who orders a shake at DQ? She has much to learn! Love this kid. Gaia will be around for the next ten months, so I'll see her at Christmastime, maybe even Halloween (that's iffy; Dad and Sherri don't know yet if they'll be home for it, and if they aren't, I have no idea what I'll do because it'll be the first time ever that neither West Hollywood nor Olympia are an option -- I guess they went to Phoenix last year). I'm sure to see her several times over the course of the next school year and I'm looking forward to it. It even makes me think of the possibility of Shobhit and me hosting an exchange student one of these years, once Shobhit gets back to a long-term permanent job again. That would be way easier than having any actual children of our own, right? And a noble thing to do, to boot!

Gaia even calls Dad "Papa," just like all of Angel and Gina's kids do. (Christopher's kids don't, really, mostly because they grew up in Spokane and see him so seldom.) I kind of loved that. She kept trying to say they should take her to Disneyland. They took all 10 of their grandchildren the September after they turned 7. She keeps saying, "There's a seven in my birthday!"


I stayed a second night at Dad and Sherri's on Sunday night, mostly because getting myself home after the picnic at Mason Lake was implausible. I had a two-and-a-half-hour bus ride home yesterday, which I did after the solar eclipse.

I almost had to share the house with Christopher and Tristen, as he actually tried to come over for the picnic -- and then broke down on Highway 2 and wound up staying with Becca and Tyler at their place. I guess Tyler's parents are helping him get a new vehicle to get back to Spokane with Tristen and to Wallace himself. We got very few details; Christopher didn't call with updates very much. Suffice it to say that he did not make it to the event his was coming for. I likely won't see Christopher until my Christmastime visit to Wallace, when I am currently very much presuming he will still be living with Mom and Bill.

I told Dad, half-jokingly, "I'm glad Christopher didn't make it because that means I get the bed!" And Dad just said, matter-of-factly, "You would have gotten the bed anyway." Oh? Oh. I suppose Christopher and Tristen would have wound up sleeping in the family room. When he first said he was coming, he was going to bring all three boys, and Dad actually booked a hotel for them. Then he said taking the boys from Katina would mean she'd lose her spot in the shelter they're staying at -- I guess Dawn kicked her out? I don't know if that's an accurate way of putting it, as I know literally none of the details, but I guess Katina was living with her mom and now she's not. That genuinely surprised me. Maybe Mom has some of the details there; I should call her. Anyway, so then Dad canceled the hotel reservation. And then Christopher called back and said he'd be just bringing one of the boys. There was the general assumption this meant they were coming to the house, but there was never any direct conversation about it. I mean, to be fair, Dad and Sherri could have asked for clarification, and they didn't. But then, it's a little annoying to be jerked around like that. And I certainly can't fault them for not wanting to get too deeply involved, given the history with Christopher. Suffice it to say, in the end, over the weekend none of us saw Christopher or any of his kids. Maybe next year!

So Dad had to work a shift at the restaurant yesterday morning, and it was just Sherri at me at the house for the solar eclipse. In retrospect, honestly? Big deal. It was fun to watch, but I suspect being in the path of totality -- which Gabriel was; he was in Oregon with Tess -- was much more impressive. We got 92% coverage at its peak here in Seattle, which was not enough to make a huge difference in the daylight. I could see the light dim just ever so slightly; for a few minutes the daylight did seem sort of off, and there was a vaguely strange feeling about it. I was certainly glad I got the viewing glasses from the Seattle Public Library, which Sherri and I shared. She's wearing them in the photo above. She wasn't thrilled about my taking pictures of her in her nightgown, although she didn't seem exactly pissed about it either; it's not like it's revealing -- as I noted on Facebook, she'd be showing more skin than that if she were dressed in any summer outfit. Okay, so she's not exactly stylin' here either. Whatever. She looks fine! Also I like the picture.

Soon enough it was around 11:30 and I packed up and rode my bike down to the Olympia Transit Center, taking my bike on the #603 Intercity Transit express, which I had to pay $3 cash for, to the State Route 512 Park & Ride, and then the Sound Transit 594 from there to downtown Seattle. I barely got my David Sedaris book finished before arriving, so I rode up to the library to return it on my way home. I then spent most of the rest of the day editing and uploading and captioning photos, both on Flickr and on Facebook. Shobhit got home from work after a few hours, and I took a break long enough to have dinner and watch Real Time with Bill Maher and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver with him. And here we are.

* * * * *

And now, I just got back from lunch with Karen over at Six-Seven at the Edgewater Hotel. I was cutting it so close to noon writing all of the above that I went ahead and rode my bike down there, so it took me five minutes instead of ten. We usually meet for lunches on Thursdays, but we rescheduled this week's to Tuesday because she and Dave are leaving tomorrow for a two-week trip to Norway. And that means I get to look forward to hearing lots about that when we have our lunch on September 14 (by default our lunches are the second and fourth Thursday of every month, so sometimes there's a three-week break).

I also had plenty to talk to her about my weekend with family. We shared the Truffle Macaroni and Cheese again this time. That item is very expensive -- a single dish for $20, which we split -- but so worth it! Even paying for half and then adding tip amounts to $13.20, but I don't care. We only skipped it last time for a bit of variety, we have this dish so often. But now it was back to it again. She's a little person (literally) so she never eats quite half of it. I'd say she gets through a quarter of it at best, but she still always pays for half. It's a very heavy dish, as you can imagine; it's not really what I should have eaten after stuffing myself over the weekend. At least I was still below 146 lbs this morning, which is way more than I prefer but honestly still a relief. At least I only had two bites of chocolate at work this morning and have not otherwise been grazing at work all day like I often do. Exercising self-control around here is a fucking challenge. But I'm doing it! I probably did eat more than half that macaroni but I still left maybe a fifth of it uneaten. That's something, right?