Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Dar Williams on aging well

The other day I was delighted to see on More Magazine's Facebook page an interview with one of my favorite musicians, Dar Williams. I've been a Dar fan ever since I heard her singing with Joan Baez on Joan's album, "Ring Them Bells," and we try to go to her concerts each time she visits Portland.

Ring Them Bells (2CD)

Dar speaks about her baptism of fire experience at the Lilith Fair and the mentoring she received from Joan Baez. And now she has become the mentor.

Dar wrote a beautiful song about aging when she was just 25 years old. Now, 19 years later, she is living the song, and she's become the "woman of voices" in the song.

"The woman of voices is the one who doesn’t throw away anything, who keeps what’s important—there’s a real beauty and elegance to that that you just don’t have when you are younger, " says Dar. "That’s what I anticipated when I wrote that song and that is what I am experiencing now, so it’s nice to know it wasn’t BS."

If you haven't heard this song yet, I encourage you to watch this video:

Lovely day in Astoria

Even though we spent a day in Astoria over spring break (in March), we decided to return for another visit last week--on Christopher's 15th birthday no less. Chris had a hankering for the Wet Dog Cafe again.
First we started off the day at Fort Clatsop--we all had a strong feeling that the "cousins" would love the fort like our kids did, and Kieran and Nick were anxious to share their Lewis & Clark reenactments. Much to Nick's dismay, they had dismantled the "try-on-the-Lewis & Clark-costumes" exhibit, but never fear! Nick had brought along his trusty coonskin cap (with a firefighter coat), so all was not lost!

Last time we visited, the kids climbed all over this bronze statue.
Later my sister saw them doing that and said she didn't think it was okay.
The boys informed her that it was, because Aunty Marie said it was okay.
They asked one of the rangers, though, and were told it was NOT okay. Aunty Marie, Strike One!
The fort had far more activities going on because of the summer season. Fun, fun, fun for kids!!
They got to try their hand at writing with ink quills and powdered ink

They had staff dressed up in authentic period clothing, doing demonstrations and answering questions about the Lewis & Clark exhibition. This young woman was a history minor, and her prescription spectacles were specially made and authentic to the period!
Nick was quite taken with this process!
At 1:00, we attended a demonstration of tools and weapons led by this highly engaging park ranger, dressed in period gear. He taught elementary school for 30 years, and that was not surprising! He asked for volunteers and no surprise--Kieran was chosen.

Their mission: to shoot a grizzly bear!

Lining up

Taking a shot
After the kids had fun pretending to shoot the offending grizzly, the ranger and an assistant actually demonstrated the firing of a period rifle. Very exciting!
At first, I had the kids scramble up on this log for a photo op.
However, a ranger came scuttling out to tell them to get off because of the "danger."
Aunty Marie, Strike Two!!
Then it was off to lunch at the Wet Dog Cafe, where Chris wisely did not order the insanely spicy "Hot Chicks" burger and was able to enjoy his food much more! Again I had the grilled halibut burger and again I loved it. The waiter brought a birthday sundae, too!

Drat! They were out of Bitter Bitch, so I had to settle for a Guinness!
Then we walked along the Astoria waterfront. While we were at lunch, the skies miraculously cleared up and the sun came out. Hooray!

While hanging out on the waterfront, we could see the Astoria Column up on the top of the hill. According to my Mapquest, it was less than 2 miles away (but all uphill). We told the kids that we were going to hike all the way up there. Interesting, because my kids believed their aunt, and her kids believed me. I guess they thought that aunts never lie!! They were quite relieved when we told them we would be driving. And they didn't appreciate our little joke--imagine!

Apparently, my parents took us to the column when we were kids, but I had no memory of it. It was amazing, and I highly recommend the trip for anyone who visits Astoria and is lucky to have a clear day. (The city was clouded over in March.)
The column has murals of Robert Gray's voyage of exploration
(Chris went to a middle school named after Robert Gray)

The panormic view--after climbing 164 steps--was phenomenal!
It's a good thing I've been walking up and down 7 flights of stairs at work recently!

Unfortunately, my camera batteries had died so these are poor-quality iPhone photos


The other side of the column
You can purchase gliders and fly them off the top. Kieran caught a few as they came down!

After leaving the column, we did a bit of shopping for birthday cake at the Warrenton Costco (which I love--no one was there!!!) and stopped by the Carter's Outlet in Seaside.

Celebrating Chris' 15th birthday with tiramisu cake

Happy boy

We also celebrated Nick's birthday early

He was so happy to be with his beloved cousins
(who gave him a bagful of their Thomas trains, which he loved)

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Spoiled brats

Two kids raised in a $1.5 million home in the Chicago suburbs sued their mother, Kimberly Garrity, for not spoiling them rotten during their childhoods. Their attorney father, Steven A. Miner, was one of three lawyers representing Steven II (23) and Kathryn (20) in the $50,000 lawsuit. Their "bad mothering" lawsuit against their mother includes such horrific accusations ("emotional distress") such as:
  • Failing to take her daughter to a car show
  • Telling her then-7-year-old son to buckle his seat belt or she would contact police
  • Negotiating on the amount to spend on party dresses
  • Calling her daughter at midnight to ask that she come home
  • Failing to include money in a birthday card (which her son didn't like--the card, that is--and the lack of money)
  • Not sending cards or care packages while her son was in college
Last week, after two years of litigation, an Illinois appeals court dismissed the case, finding that the mother's conduct was neither extreme nor outrageous. To rule in favor of her children "could potentially open the floodgates to subject family child rearing to … excessive judicial scrutiny and interference."

Bottom line is it is one effective way to embarass their mother and stick her for the legal fees, while they do not have to pay their father's fees. I'm sure they're not hurting for money if they grew up in a $1.5 million home. I won't even go into the number of frivolous lawsuits filed in this country...and the fact they were allowed to bring this case to court, wasting Illinois taxpayers' money.

Instead of embarassing their mother, these two young people have stained their own reputations by leaving an internet trail showing that they are spoiled, overprivileged brats.


Fair Trade S'mores on the Beach

As you know if you've hung out on this blog for any time, I'm passionate about the plight of child slaves in the chocolate fields. We do our best to purchase only fair trade chocolate (which can be very difficult at times), and I've now indoctrinated my sister and her family as well. So when we made s'mores, we used high-quality fair trade chocolate (which, I must say, is vastly superior to mass-produced chocolate starting with an "H" anyway!).

We enjoyed our campfires and s'mores so much that we had two evening campfires during 5 nights at the beach.

The first night was a bit chillier

Mike waiting for the coals

Nadine and Ryan

Carrying firewood

With sweet Nick

Girls with Mom
The second night we had an AMAZING sunset as our backdrop, and the evening was quite a bit warmer (shorts weather).

Playing in the surf while the fire got going


Gorgeous sunset
Mom relaxing
We were so glad my mom was able to stay all week at the beach. She had a scare one morning when her heart went back into atrial fibrillation. They called her cardiologist and made plans for her to have an EKG that day. They packed up all their stuff and drove to our rented house to let us know (since we didn't have cell phone coverage where we were). Once they arrived, Nadine took her heart rate, and it was back to normal! I've said it before and I'll say it again...I'm so glad to have a doctor in the family!
Mom and Dad holding up our fair trade chocolate sign--
I'm going to post the photos on Hershey's Facebook page to urge them to stop using child labor

If you like our signs, you can download one for yourself here--at the Raise the Bar Hershey site.

Perfect coals

Oldest and youngest
Please spread the word about the chocolate industry and its very bad practices of using child slaves to produce the chocolate so many people love! You can easily purchase fair trade chocolate at Trader Joe's, Fred Meyer, Whole Foods, and many other places. And it tastes delicious!