Saturday, October 30, 2010

Rally to keep fear alive.

Matt made this very nice poster to attend the "Rally to Keep Fear Alive" here in Portland.

Here is a reference point for those of you who don't understand his poster. I count myself among you.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


My actual birthday arrives. I thought I didn't like Tuesday birthdays (Sunday is too early to celebrate and Friday much too late) but with the work party on Saturday, the birthday on Tuesday and the family celebration on Friday, I've managed to stretch my celebrating into an entire week.

Matt wrapped up the Veronica Mars Season One that we lent to Hafidha and she returned to us. He also got me a bumper sticker we saw and I found very funny. At school there were many birthday wishes (due perhaps, to the sticker I wore saying "Today is my birthday!") and a crown and a card and flowers. It was a great day.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


For my birthday, Matt took me to see Dracula. First, we had dinner at Burgerville, which is near the Shoebox Theater.

It was another stunning performance by the Northwest Classical Theater Company. I wasn't sure about seeing them perform a non-Shakespeare play, and one that seems so easy to be overdone. But it was fabulous. We were on edge from the moment we walked into the theater.

This very dark photo shows the tomb on one side of the stage, with an angel gravestone above it. The other side of the stage had a bed. In the middle was a raised platform. In this tiny space, they managed to scare us out of our wits.

Well done NWCTC!

Birthday work party

I used my "it's my birthday" leverage to get what I really wanted: free labor. I invited people over to do two hours of yard work and promised them soup and birthday cake. It turned out to be a great party; people told me they had fun and we finished a vast amount of work in one hour, not two.

Jo digs the new rain garden.

John fleshes out the rain garden.

Julie, in her traditional work cap, emerges from the side yard which she and John turned.

Matt, Sabrina and Heidi straighten my rows.

Julie, Jo, Mia and John pose for a picture standing in the new rain garden.

Dana, who also straightened rows, broadcasts clover seed.

Matt and Sabrina pose. Sabrina discovered she loved hoeing.

I had everyone shell radish and favas while I heated the soup.

Shelling is one of those incredibly boring jobs when done on your own, but quite fun with other people.

We had Chili, Autumn Vegetable Soup, fresh baked bread and Coconut Cake.
Thanks everyone, for getting all that work done! It was the best present ever.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Muddy Buddy

On to another athletic event that involves mud.

We got to Milo McIver State Park very early. It was still dark and very cold.

Waiting before the start of the race.

Because the teams were sharing a bike (they would trade off running and biking) they were encouraged to make their bike distinctive. Matt did so by attaching Ramen noodles to the bike rack.

In the misty morning Bill (the other half of team "Edge Your Bets") tries out the bike.

Kate and Bill, owners of Edge Performance Fitness.

Did I mention it was cold?

Matt and Bill make their way to the start line. There were ten waves. Matt and Bill were in wave three, Kate and her partner were in wave 10.

Matt is happy to be starting in an early wave so he doesn't have to stand like this for long.

Once they had started, this athletic supporter found a good spot at the finish line and sat down to read for awhile. She also wished she had worn the warm socks.

Soon enough, Bill and Matt came across the finish line.

There was mud. The mud came at the very end where everyone had to crawl through several troughs of mud. Did I mention it was cold? I shuddered every time I saw someone do that.

Matt and Bill pose at the end.

The washing station.

Post washing station. Still cold. Still muddy.

Kate and her partner (dressed as carrots) cross the finish line.

Sufficiently muddy.

Bill and Matt discover they have placed third in their age bracket!

There was mud everywhere.

While we were waiting around for the awards ceremony, the mini muddy run started. Kids went through a short obstacle course. They seemed to enjoy it, but I was still shuddering.

Bill and Matt with their medals.

Matt is happy.

This team was my favorite. They dressed as gnomes. Their team name was "Gnome Mercy" They placed fifth in their age bracket, even with those hats.

Go Gnomes!

Kate and her partner placed fifth in their age bracket. It was a very winning day.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Peri's Bat Mitzvah

Our second Bat Mitzvah. We attended Hannah's--a.k.a. Peri's sister--ceremony last summer.

The exterior of the temple. It's in Northwest Portland and quite beautiful.

The facade is very much like the churches built at the same time as it was but with Jewish symbols and Hebrew words, instead of crosses and scripture.

The interior is beautiful. Behind the dias is the Ark. It rolls back to display the temple's Torah Scrolls. This was a very moving part of the ceremony for me the last time I saw it. One of their Torah scrolls is from Eastern Europe and was rescued during the Holocaust. All B'nei Mitzvah students at this temple read from this scroll as a symbol that the children's voices were not silenced.

A detail of one of the light figures, suspended from the ceiling.
The ceremony itself was very moving. Peri's Torah portion was Genesis 12: 1-12 which is the story of Abram's journey to the land of Canaan and Egypt. In her speech after her Torah reading, Peri talked about her own journey from China to her forever family and the angels who have watched out for her over the years, such as her grandmother who suspected that Peri had the metabolic disorder P.K.U. Because of her Grandmother's suspicions, Peri was tested, diagnosed and put on a special medical diet. Without this diet, Peri would not have been able to process protein and would have been severely mentally retarded. Peri spoke of hopeful new research and a treatment that may allow her to eat a normal diet. P.K.U. is one of the genetic disorders that all US born babies are automatically tested for at birth. In China, she was not tested.

I've watched Peri grow up from a shy third grader who never spoke to me, to a chatty seventh grader who always works hard to get things right. It was thrilling to hear her speak so clearly about her struggles and her hopes. I found myself several times wishing for a handkerchief, and I know that everyone around me dissolved into puddles too. The Rabbi commented that he didn't think he had ever seen so many tissues at a Bat Mitzvah ceremony before. Peri was incredibly joyful to take on this new role in her congregation.

At the brunch after the ceremony, the centerpieces were make of items to be donated to the Oregon Humane Society, where Peri has been volunteering.
A delicious spread.

Matt and I with the happy bat mitzvah (Daughter of the Commandment.)

What's this?

What could these ingredients be for?

A good helper likes to be right in the middle of the action.

Yep, it is a cheesecake. Here is the almost finished version. It got a crack in it because I went to a party and was not able to remove it from the oven after an hour of cooling. Happily, you won't see that crack for long. The bulls-eye effect is supposed to look like zebra stripes when you cut into it."Frosted" with a chocolate ganache.

I made this for Peri's Bat Mitzvah. It was served at the Sunday brunch, an event Matt--who is the cheesecake "patron" here as he paid for all those ingredients--and I were unable to attend. Happily, the leftovers were brought to school on Monday for staff meeting eating and I got to enjoy the creation. And I did enjoy it.