Friday, January 30, 2009
A girl asks her boyfriend to come over Friday night to meet, and have a dinner with her parents.
Since this is such a big event, the girl announces to her boyfriend that after dinner, she would like to go out and make love for the first time.
The boy is ecstatic, but he has never had sex before, so he takes a trip to the pharmacist to get some condoms. He tells the pharmacist it's his first time and the pharmacist helps the boy for about an hour. He tells the boy everything there is to know about condoms and sex. At the register, the pharmacist asks the boy how many condoms he'd like to buy, a 3-pack, 10-pack, or family pack. The boy insists on the family pack because he thinks he will be rather busy, it being his first time and all.
That night, the boy shows up at the girl's parents' house and meets his girlfriend at the door. 'Oh, I'm so excited for you to meet my parents, come on in!'
The boy goes inside and is taken to the dinner table where the girl's parents are seated. The boy quickly offers to say grace and bows his head. A minute passes, and the boy is still deep in prayer, with his head down.
10 minutes pass, and still no movement from the boy.
Finally, after 20 minutes with his head down, the girlfriend leans over and whispers to the boyfriend, 'I had no idea you were this religious.'
The boy turns, and whispers back, 'I had no idea your father was a pharmacist.'
I'm talking about Harry Potter.
I remember when I first heard about Harry Potter...a former coworker first told me that he and his kids were obsessed with the HP books. Not being a fantasy fan, they didn't sound interesting to me at all.
Then I had my first miscarriage in 1999 and was lying depressed and recovering in bed for several days. My mother-in-law brought me the first HP book and recommended that I read it. She had to persuade me to give it a try, and since I needed an escape, I was ripe for the suggestion. Much to my surprise, I was completely drawn in.
We read all of the early HP books with Chris, and toward the end of the series Mike and I couldn't keep ourselves from reading ahead, so Chris was on his own! Chris had an uncanny likeness to HP, with his skinny frame, glasses, and even a scar on his forehead, and he made a great Harry for Halloween! All three of us have read all the books and seen all the movies.
And now it begins again. Last night I returned from work to find that Kieran had caught the Harry Potter bug:
And 15 minutes later, he had engaged Nicholas...who begun running around the house saying "I Voldemort!" No, of course he doesn't know who Voldemort is...but his big brother said it, so it must be cool.
And here is sweet little Voldemort, giving me his scary face:
Hook in hand!
I'd been thinking about starting to read the Harry Potter books to Kieran (at least, the early ones), and last night we began! We made it into Chapter 3 (it's amazing to see how short that first book is!), and he is loving it!
This happens to me more often than it should, I think. It's usually related to something completely embarassing in history that people have tried to bury...for example, the U.S. involvement in Chile's politics in the 70s, or the way the Japanese treated the survivors of the atomic explosions in Hiroshima and Nagasaki...or the fact that Thomas Jefferson owned slaves. I think it's because I had a completely pathetic course of world and U.S. history.
In general, I like to think I had a fairly decent education. I loved social studies and English, and enjoyed studying world civilizations and human relations. I remember getting quite a kick out of developing my own hieroglyphic language in 9th grade.
We studied American history in 8th grade, but I clearly remember that our textbook ended with World War II. This would have been about 1978. No Vietnam war, no Korean war, no civil rights movement, and I don't remember much about the suffragettes either. In fact, even though I was a child of the 60s and 70s, I remember seeing very little about current events on TV. Have I blocked it all out, or was I that clueless?
I was never really drawn to straight-out history, and in high school and college we had a range of electives from which to choose. I vastly preferred other social studies electives to history. I do remember an outstanding class on the Holocaust during our January (interim) elective at Pacific Lutheran University...the term when all the other PLU students were taking underwater basketweaving or something else highly difficult and educational...and not only did I take a class on the holocaust, but I wrote a final paper on Martin Luther and the Jews, and received an "Honors" in a pass/fail class. (Okay, now I'm bragging!)
At any rate, I was inadequately educated in history. What I've learned over the years has been through my own self-education. And what I've discovered about myself is that I love history through the arts. I love historical fiction and interesting documentaries, and I'm drawn to plays and movies about things that happened in the past. They are far more interesting to me than history textbooks.
So back to my subject of this post. Mike and I went to see a great play last weekend called "Apollo" at the Portland Center Stage. It was a play MARATHON, because it was 3-1/2 hours long! But it was completely compelling and the time passed quickly.
Essentially, it was a multimedia extravaganza, chronicling the post-WWII history of the U.S. space program, intersected with the events related to the U.S. civil rights movement. Did you know that many of the top scientists who developed the NASA space program to get Americans to the moon were Nazis? I didn't.
It probably doesn't help matters that I have never been terribly drawn to the space program. I visited the Air and Space Museum at the Smithsonian, but I preferred the American History museum!! Some friends went to Florida a few years ago, and told us how they spent a couple of days at the Kennedy Space Center. When we returned there last year, they were trying to persuade us to take our kids there. Mike and I both knew that they (and we!) would vastly prefer the Disney parks over the space center!!! So perhaps this is why I have been ignorant.
The U.S. government essentially waived its morals to get the Nazi scientists on board and believed that fighting the "red menace" (and getting to the moon before the Russians) was more critical than being concerned about allowing facists to have top-secret security clearance in our government.
Thursday, January 29, 2009
He went beyond engineering a birthday party based on the Wizard of Oz (which he engineered with my help when he turned FOUR!), and he planned to actually stage a play of the W of O at elementary school. Last fall he distinctly remembered the announcement that the middle school principal made before Chris' play, in which he said that a parent had approached him to ask if she could help the students put on a play. Why couldn't they stage a grand production in kindergarten, thought he?
He had a cast list all made out, with his classmates' names on it...and he was collecting and making costumes and props. He even saved up his allowance to buy a new W of O book with a little ruby slippers necklace, which he planned to present to his star and classmate, Lily (who amazingly agreed to play Dorothy!). The only problem? He couldn't line up anyone to play the Wicked Witch of the West! (Long-time readers and friends will remember that he played that role at his four-year-old birthday party, but he declared that he had moved on, and now he wanted to be the scarecrow.)
His friend Lynn was going to be the director, and even Mrs. Lang (his wonderful teacher, who knows the dramatic foibles of our children, since she had Chris too) had agreed to be in the cast--either as an apple-throwing tree or a flying monkey. We planned the performance for April, after his birthday (figuring that enough lead time would allow the idea to fizzle out), and his grand design was for the whole cast to watch the movie together, and then act out the play verbatim!
Kieran had a few play dates with Lily, where they plotted and planned for the play. We were delighted that he finally found a friend who seemed to be as enthusiastic as he was about his grand schemes.
The stage in our family room is festooned with W of O "decorations" in preparation for the play, and he has made signs that are posted outside of our front door. He was totally delighted when my parents procured a huge roll of tickets, and he's been giving them out to everyone who visits.
Here is Kieran in his "scarecrow" costume, which he had been putting on after school every day for weeks, practicing his scarecrow dance, "If I Only Had a Brain":
Well, yesterday all the plans of the past month came to an end. Kieran came home, announcing to Mike that Lily had told him she was tired of talking about the W of O. Mike had a gentle discussion with him, explaining that perhaps the other kids were getting tired of the idea...and maybe he should move onto other things. (Remember when I posted yesterday about my boys' one-track minds?) Amazement of amazements, he accepted this...and indeed decided to move on. He has abandoned his hopes for producing the play, and he doesn't seem to be a bit upset about it, to my surprise.
Secretly, I've been hoping that it would all fizzle out by April (last week he had me draft a letter to his principal, Mr. Blanck, asking for permission to use the school stage!), but now that it has, I feel kind of sad for him. I'm not pushing the matter, because I certainly don't want him to get upset about it! But you know? It's hard to see your kids have their hopes brought down to reality. The kid is certainly a dreamer and a planner!
We have a little secret: Chris' fifth-grade teacher confided to Mike the other day that the school music teacher is considering a W of O theme for the school's spring musical. We might drop a hint to the music teacher that Kieran is a huge fan, but we think we will keep the information to ourselves unless she decides she wants to engage him somehow...
In the meantime, he will continue dressing up and masquerading in his spare time...until he comes up with his next plot or strategy! I suspect we'll be moving on to "Bye Bye Birdie" next, as auditions for the middle school play are next week. Last night we were trying to help Chris decide what to sing for auditions, and Kieran had lots of suggestions! Personally, he has a strong preference for "WE HATE YOU CONRAD, OH YES WE DO! WE DON'T HATE ANYONE AS MUCH AS YOU! WHEN WE HEAR YOU SING, WE SAY PEE-YOU! OH CONRAD, WE HATE YOU!!!" Wonder if they'd consider casting a kindergartener?
This is what I came home to yesterday...a cross-dressing, umbrella-carrying Groucho Marx: (that's my black camisole there):
What I didn't take a photo of was what he was wearing last night...my pantyhose and heels! I figured that might be going a bit too far in terms of blackmail potential!
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Brain science confirms that the corpus collosum (the tract of fibers that connect the brain's hemispheres) is larger in women than in men, thereby making it easier for women to go from one topic or task to another more quickly (although apparently this theory has been disputed recently).
In my very small study of data (my mom, my sister, and me, in comparison to my dad, my brother-in-law, and Mike), the theory that women can process all sorts of different information all at once is definitely confirmed! Then there are my three boys...who all have one-track minds (Rock Band, Wizard of Oz, and Cinderella respectively).
After doing a bit of research, I discovered that Mark Gungor is actually a PASTOR, and not a comedian. He does marriage workshops, and his theology is probably very different than mine.
But I do appreciate the humor in his message!
At $30 for six weeks, the cost could not be beat! It was an hour each week, and I just went right to class after work on Monday evenings.
Here are some of my creations...beginners' fused glass, at best! The tricky thing is that one never knows how exactly things will look after they've been fired in the kiln.
My first creation--a little ladybug suncatcher:
This little dish kind of caved in a bit on the sides...
I really like the way this one turned out, except for the bubbles!! (One is not supposed to have bubbles in fused glass!)
Our teacher doesn't like to do jewelry, but I enjoyed that evening...my favorite one (and the only one I've worn yet) is on the chain.
In the final class, we did Christmas stars--the idea is to wrap them with wire and beads, so they can be ornaments...but I haven't gotten around to that yet.
Mom and I both reenrolled for a new 7-week session, starting yesterday. Very fun! I love having a defined period of time in which to be creative...and to learn a new craft!
Monday, January 26, 2009
Join the movement, and spread the word! Here is my Eat the View page.
I've continued with my One Year to an Organized Life, prodded along by my new blog and also some organizing friends I've met along the way! I know we're only nearly 1/12th of the way through the year, but so far so good! I haven't got a very good record on previous resolutions.
I don't mean to be passe', because I know that EVERYONE AND THEIR SISTER resolves to get fit at the beginning of the new year...can you believe all those ads for exercise equipment and attire? However, I really must do something about my pathetic current state of health.
I'm hoping that by documenting this resolution to all of you lovely readers out there, I'll be more likely to stick to it.
I went to the gym today at lunch...after THREE MONTHS AWAY!!! Yes, I know...I've been very bad indeed. The worst part about it is when I think about paying a monthly rate to the gym and not taking advantage of it!!
Part of the problem is that my gym is over on the other side of town, near where my office used to be. I have refused to change gyms, because it's the only women's gym in town...and I really like it. But it's terribly inconvenient.
I was shocked to discover that I have gained a bunch of pounds. Hardly surprising given the holidays and my throwing self-restraint to the winds. My clothes have felt slightly tighter, but not significantly, so I was surprised. So it's back to the daily tracking of what I eat and how I exercise via Fitday. Otherwise, I have a harder time turning down sweets offered to me!
I've never been an athlete...and working out does not give me a thrill. In fact, I find it incredibly boring, so I must read a book and listen to fast music on my iPod while I use the cardio machines. (You will be happy to know that I put the book down while lifting weights...)
My role model for getting back to shape is my college friend Kristin, who a few years ago lost a bunch of weight and is now running half-marathons all over the world! I will NEVER run a half-marathon, but she's a true inspiration to me. I was lucky as a girl because I never had to worry about what I ate. I weighted 85 pounds when I graduated from high schoool!! I realize that as a female, I was fortunate not to worry about my weight when I was growing up--and not have it hang over me as a burden all my life (like Oprah).
But I think at some level I still think I'm 16 and I don't want to have to worry about what I eat! My goal is not to become stick thin or to become a marathoner...I just want to feel healthier and live a nice, long life. So I know I need to try harder.
Ironically, I came home tonight to discover that Mike had made crab cakes and some English potato dish with cream and butter! (Nice traditional English cooking!) But I just sampled them and filled up with veggies and leftover salmon from the weekend, and I was glad I hit the gym earlier today!
I hope I can stick with my healthy eating plan and continue hitting the gym somewhat regularly. I will never be a gym rat, or a health fanatic, but I'm aiming for moderation, and a good cholesterol check at my next physical!
Sunday, January 25, 2009
Alive, Angry, Anxious, Awed, Believe, Curious, Dancer, Excited, Grateful, Happy, Hopeful, Human, Humble, Jealous, Joyful, Love, Obama, Patient, Proud, Ready, Scared, Skeptical, Tired, Together, Wonder, Worried
The result is a beautiful video montage of people from all walks of life, expressing their feelings about this week in a few simple words:
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Thanks to my new friend Lizzie in Arizona via goodreads (who has a gorgeous blog and a beautiful little boy, Beau), I've discovered a great web quiz to determine which Jane Austen heroine fits your personality. Being a Jane Austen nut, I couldn't resist.
No big surprises there...I absolutely adore Emma Thompson, and "Sense and Sensibility" is one of my favorite movies. No wonder I love Elinor Dashwood--I am her!! :)
Take the Quiz here!
I just received this message from the Feminist Majority:
By a strong majority, the Senate passed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 (S. 181) after defeating a series of hostile amendments. President Obama and the Democratic Congress are keeping their pledge to women and all workers to reverse the Supreme Court decision that gutted the right of employees to fight wage discrimination," said Eleanor Smeal, President of the Feminist Majority. "We're on a roll to rebuilding women's rights and civil rights taken away during the Bush era."
The Senate Act, which has already passed the House in a version coupled with the Paycheck Fairness Act, will go back to the House as a single bill. The House is expected to pass the Senate bill on Tuesday. President Obama is expected to sign it into law shortly thereafter. In almost straight party line votes, the Senate kept the pledge of President Obama to sign the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act almost immediately after being sworn in.
Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson's killer amendment was defeated 55-40 in a nearly straight party vote with Democrats voting against it - only Republican Olympia (ME) voted with Democrats. Several other debilitating Republican amendments also went down to defeat.
The Ledbetter Act corrects the Roberts Supreme Court decision that gutted the ability of women workers to sue for wage discrimination. The act passed helps not only women, but all workers who are victims of wage discrimination on the basis of sex, race, color, religion, national origin, age, or disability.
Feeling very happy about this turn of events. May it continue!
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
You could tell he was just in heaven! I got the privilege of holding one of these sweet babies (twin brothers, born prematurely) a few weeks ago, and I know why he is smiling. Although I would never want to have another baby, I do love the feeling of holding a baby!!
And here are some sweet pictures of babies born in Kenya yesterday, named Barack or Michelle:
The book reading ended with a spontaneous chant by Kieran and Chris: "O-BA-MA! O-BA-MA!" soon joined by Nicholas and the rest of us.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Aunty Helen had been in the hospital for five months, during which time she kept falling seriously ill and then miraculously rallying. Her husband, Uncle Clem, was on a complete roller coaster during all that time, being called to her bedside to bid goodbye on several occasions, only to see her make a recovery. (But never fully enough to return home.)
Yesterday, she finally passed away. Sadly, the last time we were able to see her was in 2004, when we visited England and attended the Jubilee celebration of Mike's Aunty Gena (her 50-year anniversary of being a nun, for all the rest of you non-Catholics out there). Not too long after that, she and Uncle Clem moved to Scotland, and we were not able to get up there at Christmas because we had such a short trip.
I will always remember Aunty Helen's wonderful Scottish accent, great sense of humor, and abiding faith. She would often preface her statements with "Please God," so as not to tempt fate. She consistently remembered all of the birthdays of nieces, nephews, and their children (and even me, a niece-in-law). And she was a devoted, faithful wife to Uncle Clem and a loving aunt to her nieces and nephews.
Mike also learned today that one of his mentors in Japan, at the university where he taught, died this year. So it's been a tough week of losses for him.
It's one of the sad parts about living so far away from Mike's relatives, as they are aging. Mike's dad (who died in 1992) had four sisters, one of whom died several years ago.
Here are Olga (Mike's mum), Aunty Helen, Aunty Gena, Aunty Kath, and a friend cracking up at some inside Gilmartin family joke, no doubt!
And I love this photo of our family with Aunty Gena and Aunty Helen:
(That's Kieran at age 1-1/2--but Nicholas always insists those baby photos of Kieran's are him!)
So here's to Aunty Helen and to the loved ones she left behind.
The Last Word at the Inauguration Ceremony...
God of our weary years, God of our silent tears, thou, who has brought us thus far along the way, thou, who has by thy might led us into the light, keep us forever in the path we pray, lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met thee, lest our hearts drunk with the wine of the world, we forget thee. Shadowed beneath thy hand, may we forever stand true to thee, oh God, and true to our native land. (Note from Marie: this first paragraph is from a beautiful, spiritual hymn called "Lift Every Voice and Sing," by James Weldon Johnson, often referred to as the African-American National Anthem.)
We truly give thanks for the glorious experience we've shared this day.
We pray now, oh Lord, for your blessing upon thy servant Barack Obama, the 44th president of these United States, his family and his administration.
He has come to this high office at a low moment in the national, and indeed the global, fiscal climate. But because we know you got the whole world in your hands, we pray for not only our nation, but for the community of nations.
Our faith does not shrink though pressed by the flood of mortal ills.
For we know that, Lord, you are able and you're willing to work through faithful leadership to restore stability, mend our brokenness, heal our wounds, and deliver us from the exploitation of the poor, of the least of these, and from favoritism toward the rich, the elite of these.
We thank you for the empowering of thy servant, our 44th president, to inspire our nation to believe that yes we can work together to achieve a more perfect union.
And while we have sown the seeds of greed -- the wind of greed and corruption, and even as we reap the whirlwind of social and economic disruption, we seek forgiveness and we come in a spirit of unity and solidarity to commit our support to our president by our willingness to make sacrifices, to respect your creation, to turn to each other and not on each other.
And now, Lord, in the complex arena of human relations, help us to make choices on the side of love, not hate; on the side of inclusion, not exclusion; tolerance, not intolerance.
And as we leave this mountain top, help us to hold on to the spirit of fellowship and the oneness of our family. Let us take that power back to our homes, our workplaces, our churches, our temples, our mosques, or wherever we seek your will.
Bless President Barack, First Lady Michelle. Look over our little angelic Sasha and Malia.
We go now to walk together as children, pledging that we won't get weary in the difficult days ahead. We know you will not leave us alone.
With your hands of power and your heart of love, help us then, now, Lord, to work for that day when nations shall not lift up sword against nation, when tanks will be beaten into tractors, when every man and every woman shall sit under his or her own vine and fig tree and none shall be afraid, when justice will roll down like waters and righteousness as a mighty stream.
Lord, in the memory of all the saints who from their labors rest, and in the joy of a new beginning, we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get in back, when brown can stick around ... when yellow will be mellow ... when the red man can get ahead, man; and when white will embrace what is right. That all those who do justice and love mercy say Amen.
So do you think that Chief Justice Roberts flubbed the oath on purpose? I was disgusted to note that the first news articles I read after that happened claimed that Obama had screwed up the oath, instead of getting the facts right and noting that Roberts screwed the whole thing up.
I loved Joseph Lowery's benediction (can't find the text online yet), and the fact that he had the last word! (My thoughts about Rick Warren's prayer were that it was embarassingly WAY too "Christian," especially for a country founded on the basis of religious freedom!). And Aretha Franklin's rendition of "America." And what a refreshing speech, and the pride to have an articulate, inspirational, and intelligent president representing our great country?
It was great to watch the inauguration with a new citizen...it must have been amazing for Mike to know that his very first two votes as a U.S. citizen contributed to this day.
Today I'm feeling very proud to be an American, more so than any other day in my memory. I wouldn't want to be Barack Obama and face the momentous challenges he has before him (more than any other president, perhaps, in history)...but I'm so grateful and relieved that he is the one who is in that position, leading this country during a very challenging time.
Monday, January 19, 2009
He's in Washington to attend a mayor's conference and the inauguration...but he has admitted the relationship, after much pressure to do so, to the Willamette Week and the Oregonian.
I've long been a fan of Sam Adams. A former friend used to work with him in Vera Katz's office (and I believe she went to college with him) and has always spoken highly of him, and I've always enjoyed the fact that he was the announcer at our little local Multnomah Days parades. He spoke at the "No on 8" rally we happened on last fall downtown. From what I've read about Adams, he has prided himself on being actively engaged in community events...he's a mayor of the people.
So it was with great disappointment that I read that he had a relationship with a man half his age...whether he was 17 or 18 at the time cannot be confirmed for sure. And even worse, when he ran for mayor, he reportedly encouraged the young man to keep quiet about the relationship.
Very, very disappointing. I do not care about this man's sex life. Personally, I do take issue with people who gallivant with others who are more than 20+ years their junior. But the most egregious thing about this situation is that he covered it up. And for all this to come out on the eve of such a momentous inauguration.
The Willamette Week acknowledges that other politicians have had "indiscretions" (such as Barney Frank) and have made amends and have gone onto be successful and effective public servants. But this is a very sad start to his term.
Barack Obama, whatever you do, please don't disappoint me. No matter what comes, please stand by your integrity and ethics.
Kieran declared that we had to light it in honor of Martin Luther King Junior's birthday. Well, who could argue with that?
Here are some great articles I read today in the New York Times about the inauguration and MLK's birthday:
"White Like Me," by Frank Rich, another white kid who was marked by the classic Black Like Me, and who reflects on the ongoing racial issues in Washington DC
"Dear Sir Obama," letters to Obama from schoolchildren
"Dr. King's Last Birthday," by Jesse Jackson Sr., who was honored to be able to be with Dr. King on his last birthday alive
And finally, I saw this incredible video coverage of Dr. King being interviewed by the BBC's Bob McKenzie in 1964. Dr. King predicted that there would be a "negro" president within 40 years, and perhaps even within 25 years. He was filled with a spirit of wonderful optimism about the future of race relations in this country.
Sad to say, it has taken nearly 45 years to reach such a day, but hallelujah, it's here at last!!
MLK's sister, Christine King Farris, was not as optimistic about the future possibility of an African-American president...especially after her brother was brutally murdered.
And finally, I want to close with this wonderful message sent to parents from the Portland Public Schools--very timely given the front page coverage in The Oregonian yesterday, naming Portland as one of the whitest cities in the country:
Dear Portland Public School Community and Friends,
We write with greetings at the launch of a momentous week. Today, we pause to recognize and reflect on the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Tomorrow we inaugurate our country's first African American President.
As directors of your Portland Public Schools, we know that the events of this week are more than historic moments. They are a call to action. For many years, our schools have worked to better serve our students of color. But we must do more. Our drop-out rate among students of color remains too high; our achievement scores too low. We must raise our expectations and work relentlessly to get results. As Dr. King said: "The time is always right to do what is right."
We are a majority white city, educating an increasingly diverse student body in our public schools. Inherent in Barack Obama's election is the message that our racial differences can be a bridge not a barrier. We pledge as your elected school board to help our schools walk across that bridge. We will build on policies that support our educators' abilities to believe in and reach every student, policies that reward positive results. We will pay close attention. We will expect more.
We hope you will join in this effort. We know that overcoming deep inequities takes persistence, and this is not a job that your schools can do alone. But it must get done. There are many more presidential elections to come. Maybe someday we will elect one of our own graduates.
May you experience and act on the inspiration of Dr. King and of our new President Barack Obama.
Your Portland Public School Board
Dilafruz Williams, Co-chair
Trudy Sargent, Co-chair
Olin Stickler, student representative
At Portland Public Schools, this is our goal: By the end of elementary, middle, and high school, every student by name will meet or exceed academic standards and will be fully prepared to make productive life decisions. Portland Public Schools is an equal opportunity educator and employer.
what is required to overcome them is not.
What is required is the same perseverance
and idealism that our founders displayed.
What is required is a new declaration of independence,
not just in our nation, but in our own lives--
from ideology and small thinking, prejudice and bigotry--
- President-elect Obama
I captured the "surprising" on video, but I haven't figured out how to easily and quickly post homemade video to my blog yet! Here is a photo, though:
Dad took us downtown to the Embassy Suites Downtown Portland, which is an old historic hotel (formerly the Multnomah Hotel), built in 1912. It's not the typical Embassy Suites! Mike and I stayed there overnight years ago, so I knew it was a beautiful old hotel. The basement swimming pool is especially lovely.
After unloading our bags in our suite (which I unfortunately neglected to capture on film), we attended the evening reception--with free drinks, popcorn, and nachos:
Then we walked a few blocks to the great Mother's Bistro for dinner--we had taken Mom there for Mother's Day in 2008, too!
Here we are with our dinners--Mom and Nadine had scallops, and I had chicken paprikash:
And as we were about to leave the restaurant:
In the meantime, Nadine's husband David drove down to Portland with the kids and Mike made a cake for that evening (in addition to rescuing my dad, who had lost his car keys). Such superdads! That includes my dad, who dropped us off at the hotel on Friday and picked us up on Saturday.
That evening we celebrated Mom's birthday (again) with a family dinner, along with my brother Stephen and his girlfriend Gina, who was also celebrating her birthday this weekend.
Here are the kids drawing together while we cooked:
Stephen and Gina hit the Dollar Store to pick up belated Christmas presents for the kids. The boys loved all the costume bits!
Sunday, January 18, 2009
The Prayer for the Nation and Our Next President, Barack Obama
By The Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson, Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire (the country's first openly gay bishop)
Opening Inaugural Event
Lincoln Memorial, Washington, DC
January 18, 2009
Welcome to Washington! The fun is about to begin, but first, please join me in pausing for a moment, to ask God’s blessing upon our nation and our next president.
O God of our many understandings, we pray that you will...
Bless us with tears – for a world in which over a billion people exist on less than a dollar a day, where young women from many lands are beaten and raped for wanting an education, and thousands die daily from malnutrition, malaria, and AIDS.
Bless us with anger – at discrimination, at home and abroad, against refugees and immigrants, women, people of color, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.
Bless us with discomfort – at the easy, simplistic "answers" we’ve preferred to hear from our politicians, instead of the truth, about ourselves and the world, which we need to face if we are going to rise to the challenges of the future.
Bless us with patience – and the knowledge that none of what ails us will be "fixed" anytime soon, and the understanding that our new president is a human being, not a messiah.
Bless us with humility – open to understanding that our own needs must always be balanced with those of the world.
Bless us with freedom from mere tolerance – replacing it with a genuine respect and warm embrace of our differences, and an understanding that in our diversity, we are stronger.
Bless us with compassion and generosity – remembering that every religion’s God judges us by the way we care for the most vulnerable in the human community, whether across town or across the world.
And God, we give you thanks for your child Barack, as he assumes the office of President of the United States.
Give him wisdom beyond his years, and inspire him with Lincoln’s reconciling leadership style, President Kennedy’s ability to enlist our best efforts, and Dr. King’s dream of a nation for ALL the people.
Give him a quiet heart, for our Ship of State needs a steady, calm captain in these times.
Give him stirring words, for we will need to be inspired and motivated to make the personal and common sacrifices necessary to facing the challenges ahead.
Make him color-blind, reminding him of his own words that under his leadership, there will be neither red nor blue states, but the United States.
Help him remember his own oppression as a minority, drawing on that experience of discrimination, that he might seek to change the lives of those who are still its victims.
Give him the strength to find family time and privacy, and help him remember that even though he is president, a father only gets one shot at his daughters’ childhoods.
And please, God, keep him safe. We know we ask too much of our presidents, and we’re asking FAR too much of this one. We know the risk he and his wife are taking for all of us, and we implore you, O good and great God, to keep him safe. Hold him in the palm of your hand – that he might do the work we have called him to do, that he might find joy in this impossible calling, and that in the end, he might lead us as a nation to a place of integrity, prosperity and peace.
Here was a song that brought tears to my eyes--the amazing, 89-year-old Pete Seeger, singing "This Land Is Your Land," with Bruce Springsteen!
And here's another of my faves, John Mellencamp, singing "Pink Houses":
This one is not great quality, but led by one of my long-time favorites, James Taylor:
The people in the audience looked COLD!! (Damn! January in DC! I can't imagine how cold it must have been!) But man, what an experience it must have been!
I'm going to have to replay that video of Pete and Bruce. Amazing!
Friday, January 16, 2009
Today my Winter 2008 issue of Ms. arrived in my mailbox. I was delighted when I saw the cover. Apparently it's attracting all sorts of discussion, mostly from hardcore feminists who feel that Obama has not yet proven himself as a feminist, and do we really want a photo of a "superman" on the cover of Ms., implying that he has arrived to save women?
I agree with Eleanor Smeal, who writes in the Huffington Post that we are not giving Obama a blank check: he must prove that he supports the rights and further the cause of women.
But I love the fact that when meeting Ms. Smeal and Peg Yorkin, Obama introduced himself as a feminist. That alone, and the fact that he is passionately invested in women's rights, having been raised by two strong women, being married to another one, and raising two of them, is enough reason to put him on the cover. It's about time for us to reclaim the word "feminist" as a positive, empowering word! I love the fact he calls himself a feminist. To my knowledge, he is the first president who has ever done so.Here's more on this controversial cover from CNN:
What do you think?
Mike tried out a new slow cooker recipe (we love our slow cooker!), Chicken and Shrimp Jambalaya (from Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook). It was yummy--tasted better than it looks here:
To save myself from typing out the recipe, I looked for it online, and found an adaptation on another blog. This adaptation has RUM in it, which no doubt would make it even better, and similar to another banana cake I love (served at local Cuban restaurant Pambiche). Here is that recipe:
BANANA CAKE WITH CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
1/4 pound (1 stick) of sweet unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup mashed very ripe bananas (I freeze bananas so I always have some on hand for baking)
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 cup buttermilk (can substitute plain yogurt)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (don't use fake vanilla)
1 or 2 sliced bananas
Here are the blogger's yummy-sounding additions--I will try next time!
- some freshly grated nutmeg
- somewhere between a capful and 1/4 cup of Jamaican rum
1. Preheat oven to 350
2. Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans
3. Cream butter and sugar together
4. Add eggs and beat well
5. Add mashed bananas, mixing thoroughly
6. Sift dry ingredients and add to butter mixture. Stir until just combined in.
7. Add buttermilk and vanilla.
8. Pour batter into pans; bake 25-30 minutes or until knife comes out clean. Cool.
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temp
6 tablespoons sweet butter, at room temp
3 cups confectioner's sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
juice of 1/2 lemon (i've also used orange)
Cream butter and cream cheese together in bowl. Slowly sift in confectioner's sugar and continue beating until fully mixed. Stir in vanilla and juice from lemon.
Assemble the cake by putting one layer on a cake plate and frosting it. Then put a layer of sliced bananas on the top, before adding the final layer and frosting it completely. Apply chopped walnuts to the side of the cake by putting some in your hand and pressing them to the cake. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Enjoy!
Here is Mom getting ready to blow out the candles, with her admirers: