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Evening view out the guest bedroom window

Evening view of the Space Needle out the guest bedroom window

Back to Seattle, can you believe it?

I don’t visit my brother for a whole year, and now it’s been two weekends in a row! It’s a good thing he is an awesome brother and I love spending time with him and his girlfriend.

Our plan was originally to check out the University of Washington campus, so Tara and I had made plans with my brother long ago to make this trip. Then two weeks ago we received a letter from UW that Tara was not accepted. I still thought it could be useful information to tour the campus. Tara grudgingly agreed to go, but our schedule changed and we never did make it to the campus.

Instead, Tara went to Sakuracon!

You may not be familiar with animecons (unless you’ve been reading my blog for awhile), so here’s an example of how popular they are: my views on my Flickr account grew from around 100-300 a day, to over 3000 each day since I posted my photos. And who wouldn’t want to look? Aren’t they great costumes!

Perfect pose

Perfect pose

Animation come to life

Animation come to life

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I caught them while they were posing for another photographer.

I caught them while they were posing for another photographer.

People attending will choose their favourite Japanese anime character, and come dressed as that character. Typically, in a three-day con, a person will have three cosplays (costume + play), and if there is an evening ball, an additional cosplay. If the costume is amazing and took months to put together, then the person will often wear the same one all three days.

Though most characters are from anime, creative people dress as anything else. I saw Alice In Wonderland, the Easter Bunny, and Elsa (from Frozen). Since these are hip young people, they will dress as anything trending on YouTube (Charlie the Unicorn or Nyan Cat), Tumblr or Vine, or non-anime web comics, a TV show (Adventure Time or Steven Universe), or even a radio podcast called Welcome to Night Vale. (Imagine how creative and attentive these kids are to listen to a radio program, then dress as they imagine the characters, and do it so well that other fans recognize the character. I think it’s wonderful.) One fun thing is to come up with an obscure cosplay – the author of Homestuck, Andrew Hussie, let’s say – and then get a total charge out of it when people actually recognize who the character is. This year Tara cosplayed a male character from Homestuck (Sollux) and made it a female character.

For a few days during a con, I actually recognize a few things (a group from Hetalia, who could miss that?), and can call out character’s names, and get a couple of appreciative – though surprised – looks from con kids. For a few days, I’m a sort of almost hip parent…and that is fun. A couple years ago I would have read these paragraphs and been mystified. As soon as Tara leaves home I’ll be right back there. I’m soaking up the cool while it lasts…

Trail to Poo Poo Point

Trail to Poo Poo Point

While Tara was occupied, I spent time with my hosts. They invited me on a hike to Poo Poo Point, and of course I had to go: for the name if nothing else. The trailhead was pretty close to downtown, and the drive to the trailhead never left the city congestion, so my expectations were not for a forested wildland, but that’s exactly what we got.

The trail was in great shape and not very busy, and it was the perfect amount of climbing (i.e. workout) for a Saturday on vacation. 7.2 miles round trip with an 1800 foot elevation gain. And when we came out at the top- what a view! All three of us were impressed, seeing the valley below, stretching to Lake Sammamish and the city of Bellevue in the distance. And, since I know you are wondering:

Loggers used whistles to communicate from the logging tower operator to the workers down the hill, signalling that two logs were tied to a cable, ready to be towed. The whistle made a sound like poo poo, hence the name Poo Poo Point.

The trail crossed a creek.

The trail crossed a creek.

Trillium - one of my favourite wild flowers.

Trillium – one of my favourite wild flowers.

Paragliding launch spot at the top.

Paragliding launch spot at the top.

Behind me you can see Lake Sammamish and Bellevue.

Behind me you can see Lake Sammamish and Bellevue.

We had a picnic at the top. Can you believe the trailhead to this incredible overlook is 30 minutes from the Space Needle?

We had a picnic at the top. Can you believe the trailhead to this incredible overlook is 30 minutes from the Space Needle?

That afternoon I walked to meet Tara and friend at the con, and bought smoothies all around. Tara couldn’t eat regular food because part of the cosplay was fangs – ha ha! Then I headed down the hill toward Pike Place Market and noticed an unusual amount of people in bunny ears and/or dressed as the Easter Bunny. At first it was easy to explain to myself: the next day was Easter, and Seattle people were probably just getting into the spirit or something.

Easter rabbits appeared from every direction, all walking briskly down the hill with me. I took a couple of photos, but remained puzzled. I walked into the fabulous outdoor market when I arrived, browsed the huge displays of tulips and daffodil bouquets because I had decided to pick one up for my hosts as a thank you. I glanced out onto the street when a cheer went up, and to my astonishment saw *hundreds* of Easter Rabbits all gathered in the street directly in front of the fishmongers’ stall. There was a huge furry rabbit in the center with a microphone and a drum, and they cheered and celebrated something – I have no idea what. I couldn’t find a place to get above them and get a photo, so I held my camera one-handed up into the air above us and took a couple photos. It’s the best I could do.

Suddenly, the group began to disperse, and within minutes there were cars passing on the street again. The whole thing had taken about 10 minutes. Don’t you just LOVE being the right place at the right time?

Convention Center

Convention Center

Tara as a female Sollux

Tara as a female Sollux

Weapons are often built to scale.

Weapons are often built to scale.

Cosplay team

Cosplay team

Great hair!

Great hair!

Battle-ready

Battle-ready

Um, you've got something stuck in...

Um, something’s stuck in…

back

back

front

front

I didn’t see Tara that night, and I’m assuming they found fang-friendly food. I walked to a great local place with I and K and we continued the conversation. Such a treat for me to spend so much time catching up on everything in their lives. K is getting ready to leave the Coast Guard, and my brother is contemplating changes to his business. They had given me a tour of the house the previous weekend and I saw that my brother has done huge amounts of work on the house. Re-finished wood floors, laid laminate, painted, repaired, built a custom spice rack, etc. It’s just exactly the tour I got at our brother E’s house in Boise: all the serious handiwork done by my brother. We are all three alike in our approach to home improvement, apparently. I’m glad they have done projects I haven’t, so I can use them as a resource.

Sunday morning while Tara rested up and prepared the cosplay for another day, the rest of us went for coffee at another great coffee shop recommended by K. No joke – Seattle is the place to find the best in coffee. Then we went to a farmer’s market and the mood was relaxing compared to the frenzy of shoppers I joined the day before. They explained that this was where the locals went. We browsed the stalls for farm-raised meats, spring veggies, and ate “salmon sliders” which were unbelievably delicious grilled salmon patties.

Finally I collected my kid and we said our goodbyes and headed back onto the Interstate for Portland. This time, we timed our departure better, and traffic was a piece of cake. In a little over 3 hours we were home.

a gathering of rabbits

a gathering of rabbits

Hey, nice ears!

Hey, nice ears!

Easter Bunny party in the street

Easter Bunny party in the street

Vegetables for sale at the Pike Place Market

Vegetables for sale at the Pike Place Market

My Tara as Princess Tutu

My Tara as Princess Tutu

Monday was the best day for both of us. Tara made some good contacts at the con and I am seeing the light at the end of a tunnel of many tiny tasks that needed to be completed.

I am finally, finally wrapping up the final touches on the Mt. Hood Cherokee newsletter I volunteered to edit. What a relief. I don’t think I’ll ever catch up on your blogs. Good heavens you all write a lot of posts. I love them all and I’ll just have to skim them, so sorry. I’ve been nominated for blogging awards and I’ll bet those lovely ladies think I didn’t even notice! But I *will* get to them, and thank you so very, very much for the love. I finally got things worked out with Oregon DMV and I’ll be getting my plates soon. They will say DRAGNS, isn’t that marvelous? I am so excited to christen the Dragon Wagon II with her new plates.

T got an invite to join a themed group of cosplayers next year. I won’t tell you what they have planned, and it will be a surprise. She hung out with a friend she hadn’t yet spent time with. She enjoyed the awesome weather.

My highlight of the day today? Inigo Montoya battling the Dread Pirate Roberts (cosplayed by Wesley).

"You seem a decent fellow... I hate to kill you. "

“You seem a decent fellow… I hate to kill you. ” “You seem a decent fellow…I hate to die.”

Steam Powered Giraffe!

Steam Powered Giraffe!

black fighter

black fighter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I took a dozen photos

I took a dozen photos, but she is so self-critical. “Ugh, my leg isn’t right. The other one is all wrong.” To her credit, she is on beat-up shoes and the concrete is on a slope. But to my novice eyes, it’s lovely.

Adorable

Adorable

Please see the source here.

Please see the source here. I think she did a great job on her cosplay, what do you think?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can we take your picture?

Can we take your picture?

punishment

punishment

nice interpretation

nice interpretation

A face at Kumoricon 2013

A face at Kumoricon 2013

DSC_0970Every Labor Day there is a three-day anime convention in Vancouver, Washington called Kumoricon. In it’s history the con has also been held in downtown Portland, but the event is now too large to cram into the city. The 5000+ exploding population of comic characters seem to have found a permanent place at the Hilton in Vancouver.

I don’t attend; I’m not a big enough fan of manga or anime to want to immerse myself so completely. But my daughter most certainly *is* a big enough fan, and this is her favourite event of the year. I helped her with costume details by doing a little sewing and driving her to a costume shop and allowing a solo trip on the Max to try and find a wig. My other means of support was providing rides to the event, which is a little selfish, because after she headed off to the con, I wandered around and took photos.

I have over a hundred photos on my flickr site, if you want to see more.

My daughter and her friend on day 1: Rose, from Homestuck and Princess Peach from Mario games

My daughter and her friend on day 1: Rose, from Homestuck and Princess Peach from Mario games

My daughter's costume on day 2, from Lackadaisy

My daughter’s costume on day 2, from Lackadaisy

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more Homestuck trolls

more Homestuck trolls (Homestuck was very big this year)

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DSC_0041

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Kyoshi warriors

Kyoshi warriors. These are the best cosplayers I have ever seen. Incredible costumes. I should know, since I made one of these for Tara three years ago.

Jade as a troll

Tara’s friend Jade as a troll. Look how far they take these costumes: wigs, horns, contacts!

Gabby as a troll

Tara’s friend Gabby as a troll. Love the ears!

Riza Hawkeye in my combat boots

Miss T has been a fan of cosplay and animecons for several years now. Nearly all her friends are caught up in the same obsession. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, think people dressed as Spock and Klingons among swarms of other Trekkies inside a hotel convention space. Only this is for Japanese anime and manga (cartoons and comic books). Cosplay is to dress up as one’s favourite character. The cons are conventions, of course.

She’s still young enough that I won’t let her attend a con in Seattle without me. I decided to go ahead and book a room at the con, let her go do her thing, and hang out with my brother Ian while she’s busy.

On the three-hour drive up, T shared some of her thoughts and anxiety. Months ago, all her teen friends were talking about going to Sakuracon. That’s when she begged me for permission to go, so that she could join them. One by one, her friends found that they would not be able to join Sakuracon after all. In the end, T is the only person of her group to make the trip.

Then they started trash-talking Seattle cons.

A group of cosplayers at Sakuracon

click to enlarge

click to enlarge

“They said the people at Seattle cons are all stuck up, and that they don’t accept people from other places,” Tara mentioned, not a little concern in her voice. “They said Seattle cons are nowhere near as fun as the Portland/Vancouver cons, because people are so competitive and mean. I’m a little worried. I mean, I just want to have fun, not to try to prove I’m better than anyone.”

I tried to shape my voice into as casual and offhand-sounding as I could before I asked my question. “Have any of the Portland anime fans had a chance to get to a Seattle con before?” My deception worked, and she answered the question instead of responding to my accusation. She thought about it a minute and answered, “Um, I’m pretty sure none of them have.” “That’s too bad,” I said, again, as casually as possible. I dropped the topic, hoping the message would seep through and catch her later.

Ian met us at the hotel while Tara was dressing as Riza Haweye from Fullmetal Alchemist. We walked with her to an entrance to the convention, and watched her for a little while to see how it would go for her. There was a large gathering of people. Many with orange, yellow, and red curvy horns – from an anime I am not familiar with. Tara walked to the outer edge to watch what was happening. There were the usual shockingly short miniskirts, the always-present black capes with red clouds from Naruto. In about three minutes, she was approached by a tall, thin boy dressed as Colonel Roy Mustang. In the story, Riza is the Colonel’s bodyguard.

Too far away to hear, I saw Riza telling something to Colonel Mustang, and gesturing with her hands. He motioned to her to follow and they wound through the crowd and up the steps around a corner out of sight. She didn’t even look back. *Sigh!* My little girl, so grown up she doesn’t even need Mom when she’s in a swarm of people in an unfamiliar city. I looked at Ian and he made some comment regarding that too. We both agreed that at age 14, neither one of us would have had even a fraction of the emotional constitution required to just do what she had done: dump us in 5 minutes in the heart of a major city.

By 9pm that night, she had joined a whole troupe of cosplayers there with parents, spilling into all available corners and horizontal spaces of two adjoined hotel rooms. T begged to stay the night with them but I said “no.” Introductions were made all around and I apologized to the parents, “Please don’t take it the wrong way, but I wanted to spend this time with my kid.” They assured me that the group of teens was large enough already and they weren’t TOO upset about not having one more. Instead, facebook friendships were firmly established.

Seattle Central Library, designed by Rem Koolhaas and Joshua Prince-Ramus

That evening I explored the city with Ian, who has lived there for several years now and was a good person to show me the place. I always love to see what architecture is on display in a place, and since his studies at the University of Idaho were in the field, I knew he would point me in the right direction. We beelined first of all for the library, but it had just closed. Ian said the inside of the building is remarkable, but I was impressed with the outside too.

Reflection of the Space Needle on the side of the music, sci-fi, and pop culture EMP Museum

We passed some other interesting buildings, then took the monorail to the EMP Museum. Ian says he rides the monorail every day in his commute to work. How fun! The EMP Museum is a work of art in itself. Frank O. Geary designed the building to evoke the spirit of Rock n’ Roll. Well, I didn’t read it as rock music per se, but I did get a distinct sense of colour, movement, and fun. It actually evoked more Disney than Hendrix, but don’t tell Geary I said that. Far from insubstantial, I found the building design truly eye-popping. Astonishing curves rose to unlikely heights and imbalances. I can’t believe I’ve never seen this place before. The monorail went right through a gap in the museum!

We didn’t go up into the Space Needle, since I had just done thatlast summer with my friend Vladimir. We did walk to his house, since he lives practically at the base of the needle. We hopped into his sunflower-yellow pickup truck and went on up the hill.

Freezing my tush at Kerry Park

“Have you been to Kerry Park at Queen Anne?” he asked. Since I didn’t know what he was talking about, my answer was a pretty solid “no.” Queen Anne is his neighborhood. Well, nearly. Ian is not a millionaire, but he lives nearby. He told me the viewpoint is the location for all the amazing Seattle shots that feature the Space Needle and Mt. Rainier. Postcard scenes. The clear sunny skies were growing darker, and without the sun to keep me warm, I was getting downright cold. But it couldn’t keep me in the truck. The view was spectacular!

Seattle, Space Needle, Puget Sound, Mt. Rainier

We got out and stood at the railing with the other folks, and gazed out across blossoming cherry trees and syringa, across the city lit up in the setting sun, and all the way to the snow-capped and majestic Mt. Rainier on the horizon. The bay waters wrapped around the west side of the city and glanced reflections back to us.

People gazing out at the view of the city at dusk.

Then he took me to dinner at a really awesome restaurant. The atmosphere, the good food, and the beer warmed me back up.

As is typical in any kid-on-her-own scenario…T’s phone battery died. I had been attempting to text her for an hour, and finally got a text message from an unknown phone number. “Hi I’m borrowing Stacey’s phone. My phone died. I’m ok. Can I stay the night with Stacey?” I realized it was time to go back and find my kid.

From our hotel room, we could spot clouds and moon good enough for any Halloween scene.

Ian came back in the morning to share breakfast with us. For convenience sake, we ate in the Hilton restaurant. It was way too expensive, but it did have an astonishing view, so that partially made up for the expense. We said our goodbyes and went back to Portland.

The verdict in the end? “The Seattle cons are just as much fun as in Portland,” Tara assured me on the way home. “No one was stuck up and I had a great time.”

“I wonder what all those Portland people were talking about,” I said.

“Well, it was really only Sam and Alex,” she admitted. “Maybe they were exaggerating. ‘Cause I’m pretty sure they’ve never been to a Seattle con before.”

“Maybe,” I agreed. And I knew my girlie had just learned a life lesson.

One of my many guises

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