Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Some of you might have already seen this, but it was new to me. In the spirit of dressing up in disguise, here's Ron Howard (and Andy Griffith and Henry Winkler) putting on his characters of old to talk about change in the air. Gotta love that Opie!!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Samantha Bee on McCain's Sarcastic "Women's Health" Air Quotes

I must warn you: this is rated PG, but hilarious. I didn't know how much McCain had resorted to more sarcastic comments about various topics--the "health of the mother" comment was galling enough! But he also discounts the importance of safety procedures related to nuclear energy, among other critical issues.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Obama on the Daily Show

We watched the 1/2-hour TV spot this evening, and I was really glad to see that he highlighted ordinary Americans and how he would help them.

Obama appeared on the Daily Show tonight, and talked about undergoing therapy to train his "white half" who vote the right way on November 4, lest the "Bradley Effect" takes hold:

I can't find the embeddable video yet, but you can watch it here.

How Much Would $150,000 Buy You?

What could you do with a $150,000 clothing budget?

You Can Vote Whoever You Like

Sung by the kids at the Ron Clark Academy (lyrics follow):

Obama on the left
McCain on the right
We can talk politics all night
And you can vote however you like
You can vote however you like, yeah

Democratic left
Republican right
November 4th we decide
And you can vote however you like
You can vote however you like, yeah

(McCain supporters) McCain’s the best candidate
With Palin as his running mate
They’ll fight for gun rights, pro life,
The conservative right
Our future is bright
Better economy in sight
And all the world will feel our military might

(Obama supporters)But McCain and Bush are real close right
They vote alike and keep it tight
Obama’s new, he’s younger too
The Middle Class he will help you
He’ll bring a change, he’s got the brains
McCain and Bush are just the same
You are to blame, Iraq’s a shame
Four more years would be insane

Lower your Taxes - you know Obama Won’t
PROTECT THE LOWER CLASS - You know McCain won’t!
Have enough experience - you know that they don’t
STOP GLOBAL WARMING - you know that you won’t

I want Obama
Stick with McCain and you’re going to have some drama
We need it
He’ll be it
We’ll do it
Let’s move it

Obama on the left
McCain on the right
We can talk politics all night
And you can vote however you like
You can vote however you like, yeah

Democratic left
Republican right
November 4th we decide
And you can vote however you like, I said
You can vote however you like, yeah

I’m talking big pipe lines, and low gas prices
Below $2.00 that would be nice
But to do it right we gotta start today
Finding renewable ways that are here to stay

I want Obama
Stick wit McCain you gone have some drama
Iran he will attack
We gotta vote Barack!

Obama on the left
McCain on the right
We can talk politics all night
And you can vote however you like, I said
You can vote however you like, yeah

Democratic left
Republican right
November 4th we decide
And you can vote however you like, I said
You can vote however you like, yeah

Here are the kids being interviewed on CNN:


Monday, October 27, 2008

Crazy for Halloween (Kieran, that is...)

When Mike first moved to the U.S. in 1990, he was a Halloween scrooge. They didn't celebrate Halloween in the UK when he was growing up--now they celebrate it somewhat halfheartedly.

Now he has become crazy for Halloween like many the point that if the kids get tired of trick or treating before he does, he urges them to keep going!

On Saturday we took the younger kids to the Farmer's Market (Chris was with a friend) so Nicholas could participate in the noon-time costume parade. Kieran declared that he was too "embarrassed" to be in the parade, even though he wore a mask to church the very next day. Can't figure him out! Nicholas enjoyed parading in his firefighter outfit, and Kieran got a goody bag, too, even though he didn't dress up.

Kieran got to carve a pumpkin,
and both boys made masks at the market

My little firefighter!

Kieran has decorated our front porch with pumpkins, spiders, and bats, and has made 12 separate drawings for our front window (facing outward, so they can be seen from outside). I've never seen a child go this crazy for Halloween! He even spent his allowance money on a little kit to make spiderwebs from cotton.

The pine needles that haven't been swept up
add to the atmosphere, dontcha think?

Kieran had a $10 Target gift card from somewhere, and he was determined to buy a "gravestone" with it to add to his decorations. We found this electronic, motion sensor one that makes a very spooky sound! Each time anyone goes outside, Nicholas says there's a monster out there! Poor kid!

We are planning to spend Halloween in Puyallup with my sister and family (since it falls on a weekend), so we won't even be here on Halloween night! But the gravestone is definitely going with us!

My little artist

Today he came home from kindergarten with a book called "Spooky Stories," with more Halloween-oriented drawings. Can't wait to get him going on Christmas decorations!!

I've Said It Before, and I'll Say It Again...

In my lifetime, I've never had a president who inspired me. I know that some people felt that Ronald Reagan was inspiring (not me!), and Bill Clinton had his moments, but they were weakened by his own reputation. Jimmy Carter became inspiring after he left the presidency!

So I for one am really looking forward to being able to say that I am actually PROUD of our president, and our country for voting him in. Won't that be astonishing?

I remember when I was visiting my sister in China in December 1986, and we had a Chinese man come up and talk to us in downtown Chengdu about how we felt about Ronald Reagan's policies. How refreshing it would be to be able to travel abroad and not have people question the sanity of Americans for voting in such incompetent boobs!

I understand what Michelle Obama meant when she said that for the first time in her life, she was proud to be an American. The wing nuts (as left-leaning bloggers call "right wing nuts") pounced on that comment, saying that she was not proud to be an American. Our leaders, and our citizens, have failed to make us proud. I hope that will change in a few months.

Here is a clip of the final minutes of Barack Obama's "closing argument," delivered today in Ohio.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Happy Birthday, Hillary Clinton!

One thing that Hillary Clinton accomplished in her presidential campaign and her follow-on speech at the Democratic National Convention was to earn respect from previous naysayers. Even many who disagreed with Hillary before on her support of the war and her aggressive campaigning came around in the end and grudgingly agreed that she made an incredible speech at the convention and she fell into step to support the Democratic party. She took the high road, although she must have been incredibly disappointed.

Here's a wonderful post in tribute to Hillary's birthday at

Hillary's far from perfect, but no one can argue with the huge amount she has accomplished and countless obstacles she has overcome in her 61 years. She deserves to sit back and be proud of the legacy she will leave for our daughters.

The Position of Vice President Is the Most Important in this Country--W Endorses McCain/Palin

Saturday, October 25, 2008

A Bedtime Story: The Vet Who Did Not Vet

Wonder Woman Day, Sunday, Oct. 26, 2008

Sunday, October 26, 2008, has been declared (by mayoral proclamation, no less) to be Wonder Woman Day in Portland.

The proceeds raised from Wonder Woman Day will go to fund domestic violence shelters and crisis lines, fitting charities for Wonder Woman to represent.

They are celebrating Wonder Woman with an auction of wonderful art work--which can be viewed here. These are a few of my favorites:

Obama Is Beautiful World

There is a town in Japan called Obama:

What is beautiful about this Japanese town embracing Obama is the fact that racism is alive and well in Japan...toward other Asians, and certainly toward blacks. When I lived in Japan, I had a Korean student whose parents and grandparents had been born in Japan, yet none of them had been able to obtain citizenship. This is one of the shameful parts of modern Japan.

As a white person, I received respect on the surface, but underneath it was the attitude that I could never really understand the true Japan. "We Japanese" was a common term. The term for foreigner in Japanese, "gaijin," was used in the past to refer to outsiders.

I'm in the middle of a book right now about the Japanese and Americans during the war, called Beside a Burning Sea. I read the author's first, Beneath a Marble Sky, a year or two ago--it was about the building of the Taj Mahal. This story is about an American hospital ship that gets blasted apart by a torpedo, and a handful of (mostly American) survivors make it to a remote island. A Japanese soldier and the American nurse who cared for him (and whose life he subsequently saved) are drawn together, and it's bound to end tragically.

So I'm meandering...but I love the fact that this Japanese town has embraced an African-American candidate so enthusiastically!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Blog Tag

Definition: Blog tag is just like the game of tag but you share five things about yourself, and then tag five other bloggers (a type of meme).

My friend Kristin started this thing--she is a true inspiration. Go to her blog and take a look at how many races she has run this year!!!

Ten Years Ago (1998)

1. I had one child, who was two. (How life has changed!)
2. We lived in a 1910 bungalow in southeast Portland, instead of our current 1938 Cape Cod in Southwest Portland.
3. I was working at my current employer, in the same position!! (ooh, that's kinda scary!!)
4. I was in an active women's group, which met approximately once a month.
5. We went to Holden Village that summer, the first time for Mike and the first time for me since 1982.

Five Things on My To Do List Today (I'm going to do tomorrow instead, because it's the end of the day...)

1. Go to the Farmer's Market.
2. Get my hair cut and colored.
Clean the house.
4. Make Monterey Chicken, Lemon Broccoli Almondine, and apple cake.
5. Have friends over for dinner

Five Things that I Would Do If I Were a Millionaire

1. Invest money for my kids' college education.
2. Take several trips--to Europe, Australia, and Asia.
3. Donate money to charities benefiting disadvantaged children and families.
4. Think about another way to learn a living, perhaps...
5. Continue to live frugally, to spread the money further.

Five Places I've Lived

1. Beaverton, Oregon
2. Tacoma, Washington (college at Pacific Lutheran University)
3. Wakayama, Japan
4. Osaka, Japan
5. Portland, Oregon

Five Jobs I've Had

1. food service: busgirl at Village Inn and cashier at Arctic Circle Fast Food restaurant
2. secretary and receptionist at various temporary jobs

3. student secretary at the PLU School of Business
4. English teacher
5. Editor/writer/supervisor/publications manager (all for my current firm!)

Now I am supposed to tag (approximately) five people. Most of my friends don't have blogs, and I limited my taggees to those who do, so here we go:

Amy (friend from work)
Katy (friend via our sons)
Karina (friend via our both having had 24-weeker preemies)
Kathryn (friend from work, who is now living in the UK)
Sharon (a woman I've met via Goodreads)

If you are reading this blog and you don't have a blog yourself, feel free to post your answers in the "comments"! Tag, you're it!

The Hideous Underbelly of America

How can anyone be proud of this kind of behavior?

No Comment...

Thanks to Katy for passing this gem along in her blog!

More Political Poems and Letters from Creative Children

Beck's sisters, first-graders Ari and Myla (above), have written their own letters and poems to Obama and McCain. Those great kids are stuck in a conservative part of a red state and are not holding back their political opinions in the face of opposing views!

By Ari:

Dere Obama You are nice and grete Love Ari

Jon Moken You are a pane in the brain You insaine Love Ari

By Myla:

Obama loves your momy Obama gose to drama Obama loves your llama Your momy should cheer for Obama Cheer for Obama

Music-Family Sandwich, Part 3

Finishing my posts about last weekend, now that we are about to start this weekend! It seems that much of the interesting things in my life occur on the weekends, ya know?

So, the last piece of the sandwich was attending the Dar Williams concert at the Aladdin Theater last Sunday night. We met our friends Dave and Christie (Dave being the director and esteemed leader of our band, and fellow music lover) for a wonderful Indian meal at Vindalho, a newish, modern-type Indian restaurant not too far from our old house in SE Portland. It was one of those restaurants that discourages family-friendly dining with its prices! :) Very tasty food, indeed--especially the pumpkin samosas and halibut curry. I also liked the naan, although Mike was not as crazy about it.

Then we went off to the Aladdin, a great concert venue, which has general admission seating. Christie and I went in to find seats while Mike and Dave parked. However, I happened to check my parents had been trying to reach us and we hadn't heard our cell phones. I have so much confidence in my parents' capabilities of taking care of our kids that I never fret much when they watch I wasn't too worried. We had set up a somewhat complicated child care arrangement, because my parents had their book group in the afternoon, so we dropped the kids off with some friends, and Mom and Dad picked them up there. We had planned to leave our house key with Chris so that they could get into the house...but we forgot. So Mike drove back to our house before the concert started to hide the key in a boot on the front porch! The funny thing is that apparently my mom had a key with her all along, but didn't know for sure whether it was for our house!

The concert was great. Shawn Mullins opened for Dar, and although I thought I'd heard of him, I didn't really know who he was. He was phenomenal!!! His biggest hit is called "Rockabye," and I know I've heard it played on KINK several times. I was just blown away by his amazing guitar playing...especially coming from a self-professed lazy guitarist. I've already reserved several of his CDs at the library. Dar always has great opening acts--we've also discovered Anne Weiss, Toshi Reagon, and Girlyman via Dar. Shawn, like Dar, is a great storyteller, and he did a memorable rendition of "The House of the Rising Sun" that brought a standing ovation.

We have seen Dar just about every time she has come to Portland (since discovering her); she is extremely entertaining live, not just for her music but also for her wise banter. The last time she came 2-1/2 years ago I was pregnant with Nicholas, and Christie, another friend, and I went to see her perform with Shawn Colvin at the zoo. She did a disappointingly short set. Ever since she had her son a few years ago (see below), she has traveled much less frequently and has given shorter concerts. Can't say I blame her!

Dar is firmly liberal and progressive, although for the most part she stayed away from commenting about politics very much. However. She did make a note of having watched the video of Sarah Palin at her Wasilla church, being blessed by a Kenyan pastor who prayed that Palin would be protected from witches. Dar's commentary on that bizarre occurrence? She launched into her classic song about a young pagan woman and her partner who spend Christmas with her "Christ-loving uncle" and his family, "The Christians and the Pagans." (We sang "The Christians and the Pagans" on Friday night at the coffeehouse, so I was very happy she did it.) This song has the ability to bring tears to my eyes...especially this line: "Cause now when Christians sit with Pagans, only pumpkin pies are burning." I like Dar's dream and vision for the world, that we can all get along, live peacefully, and respect each other's different beliefs and ways of life.

Here are the words:

Amber called her uncle, said "We're up here for the holiday
Jane and I were having Solstice, now we need a place to stay"
And her Christ-loving uncle watched his wife hang Mary on a tree
He watched his son hang candy canes all made with red dye number three

He told his niece, "It's Christmas eve, I know our life is not your style"
She said, "Christmas is like Solstice, and we miss you and it's been awhile"
So the Christians and the Pagans sat together at the table
Finding faith and common ground the best that they were able
And just before the meal was served, hands were held and prayers were said
Sending hope for peace on earth to all their gods and goddesses

The food was great, the tree plugged in, the meal had gone without a hitch
Till Timmy turned to Amber and said, "Is it true that you're a witch?"
His mom jumped up and said, "The pies are burning," and she hit the kitchen
And it was Jane who spoke, she said, "It's true, your cousin's not a Christian"
"But we love trees, we love the snow, the friends we have, the world we share
And you find magic from your God, and we find magic everywhere"

So the Christians and the Pagans sat together at the table
Finding faith and common ground the best that they were able
And where does magic come from, I think magic's in the learning
Cause now when Christians sit with Pagans only pumpkin pies are burning

When Amber tried to do the dishes, her aunt said, "Really, no, don't bother"
Amber's uncle saw how Amber looked like Tim and like her father
He thought about his brother, how they hadn't spoken in a year
He thought he'd call him up and say, "It's Christmas and your daughter's here"
He thought of fathers, sons and brothers, saw his own son tug his sleeve saying
"Can I be a Pagan?" Dad said, "We'll discuss it when they leave"

So the Christians and the Pagans sat together at the table
Finding faith and common ground the best that they were able
Lighting trees in darkness, learning new ways from the old, and
Making sense of history and drawing warmth out of the cold

A clear and subtle message, drawing a stark contrast to how the McCain-Palinites have conducted their campaign.

I noted how different the crowds at Dar's concerts are compared to 5 to 7 years ago. At those concerts, when she began her feminist classic, "As Cool as I Am," young women would hit the dance floor and create their own folk, alternative mosh pit in the front of the stage. Now the crowds are much older and calmer. Sadly, we have all gotten older!

Dar was introducing her newest album, which I had bought in September so I knew most of the songs:

I didn't love her last album, "My Better Self," quite as much as some of her others, but I really like this new one. What I love about seeing Dar in concert is hearing the background to her sometimes-complicated-and-metaphorical songs. Otherwise you can appreciate them for their beauty, story, and musical craftswomanship, but cannot fully understand the power of the lyrics. For example, her new song "Buzzer" is about the Milgram experiments conducted at Yale in the 1960s and obedience to authority.

If you would like to learn more about Dar (one of my all-time favorite singer-songwriters!), check out this NPR interview with her a few months back. Thanks, Mike, for a great birthday present!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Music-Family-Music Sandwich, Part 2

There's been so much going on this past week that I'm still blogging about last weekend!

So back to my about curry chicken salad for the filling (otherwise known as "Coronation Chicken" in the UK)? We spent Saturday morning at the Farmer's Market, and then in the afternoon my sister, her husband, and my nephews arrived in Portland. We had a family dinner at my parents' house Saturday evening to celebrate my and Nadine's October birthdays (sister's was yesterday).

Here is my sweet nephew, Ryan, who is quite the renaissance man. He loves cooking and cleaning implements and power tools! Just call him Tim-the-Tool-Time Stewart! He is showing me a house he made for his baby and his kitty.

I just had to take a photo of his baby--take a look at the screwdriver in one hand and the saw in the other! And the overalls. Love it!

Ryan is a real collector. He loves to collect all manner of items, and the things in the bag are "what Baby and Kitty need for their house."

Here is Kitty riding on top of the car:

Later Nadine, who is an obsessive photographer, put the boys into adorable Indian suits that one of Nadine's Indian patients gave them. She tried valiantly to take a photo of Ryan; however, her camera has a red-eye reduction feature, which means that it flashes twice. Each time her camera would flash, Ryan would squint or cover his eyes. This caused me to dissolve into fits of laughter. I thought the whole thing was SO funny!!! Small thrills for small minds, I suppose...

Finally, a good one!

First-grader Ryan has become an AMAZING reader, and here he is reading the entire Little Engine That Could book to me (one of my personal favorites as a kid).

We had TWO cakes--one, the perennial family favorite, my mom's Tunnel of Fudge, and the other cake contributed by Kieran, who won big in the cake walk at the school carnival the night before. He was very proud of his cake!!

Here are my brother Stephen and his girlfriend Gina. (Yep, you probably didn't even know I had a brother, did ya?) :)

Garrett loving his cake and ice cream:

And Kieran:

And Daniel:

This is the famous "tunnel of fudge" cake:

And the recipe--try it, I guarantee you will like it!! For some reason, my text is running together and I can't apologies for the formatting!

Tunnel of Fudge Cake
2 cups sugar
1 cup cooking oil
2 eggs
3 cups flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup hot coffee or water
1 cup buttermilk or sour milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1/2 cup flaked coconut
1 cup (6-oz. pkg.) semi-sweet or milk chocolate pieces
Cake: Generously grease and lightly flour a 10-inch bundt pan. Prepare filling; set aside. Combine sugar, oil and eggs; beat 1 minute at high speed. Add remaining ingredients except filling and nuts; beat 3 minutes at medium speed, scraping bowl occasionally. By hand, stir in nuts. Pour 1/2 batter into prepared pan. Carefully spoon prepared filling over batter; top with remaining batter.
Filling: In small bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, and egg until smooth. Stir in coconut and chocolate pieces.
Bake at 350 degrees for 70 to 75 minutes until top springs back when touched lightly in center. Cool upright in pan for 15 minutes; remove from pan. Cool completely.
If desired, drizzle with glaze made by combining 1 cup powdered sugar, 3 tbsp. cocoa, 2 tbsp. butter, 2 tsp. vanilla, and 1 to 3 tbs. hot water.
Here is Mom cutting the cake:

And here are the photo attempts of the boys in their sweet Indian outfits--like trying to photograph puppies! They are laughing uproariously at their very silly Uncle Mike, who is trying to make them smile but instead sent them into hysterics!

And here are the October birthday sisters: