Saturday, June 25, 2011

Farmers and Shakespeare

Finally: a nice day in Portland! We took advantage of it by doing more work in the yard, and Mike also took a load of junk to the dump--and another load of wood to my parents' house. We also fit in some fun. This morning we went to the Farmers Market (we are usually regulars but haven't been for several weeks). Kieran was desperate to try artichokes, so we picked up a few at the market. I wanted to try something different than the way I grew up with them--steaming and dipped in butter--so we took a leaf out of a friend's book and baked them in olive oil, lemon, garlic, and chicken broth. I'm not sure whether they didn't cook long enough or we had dud artichokes--but the outer leaves didn't seem to get cooked thoroughly. I'm not talking about the outer, outer leaves...but most of the leaves until the inside. These Italian artichokes (which are purple when raw) supposedly have more meat on them, so we were a bit disappointed. I had to cook them further in the microwave because I was concerned they didn't get cooked enough. But I'm wondering whether they just were not that good. They were expensive, so that was disappointing. The hearts were wonderful, though, and I did like the flavoring.

Looks pretty even if disappointing

Kieran with his artichoke
We had pesto-barbecued salmon and Greek salad to go with our artichokes.
My made-up Greek salad
Marie's Greek Salad

Two cucumbers
One tomato
1/4 Walla Walla sweet onion
handful chopped fresh basil leaves
handful of feta cheese
homemade vinaigrette

I made our vinaigrette with a lovely hazelnut oil we had in the cupboard, olive oil, dijon mustard, honey, and fresh basil. I just realized that I forgot the kalamata olives! Oh well. Next time. It was yummy anyway, and Kieran had thirds or fourths--a success in my book!

After dinner we went to the first "Shakespeare in the Park" of the season. I love Portland in the summer, because the opportunities for free or donation-only entertainment are endless. We have two separate companies performing Shakespeare plays in the park. Tonight was "The Tempest," performed by the Portland Actors Ensemble, who have been performing Shakespeare in the park since 1970. It is being produced at the Lovejoy Fountain, about 1 block from my office.

Mike wore the Shakespeare t-shirt I got for our anniversary (since one of the books he's writing is about Shakespeare, I'm always on the lookout for Shakespeare swag). It has a picture of the bard, and it says "You discussed me."

The kids did really well--even the 4-year-old!--and Kieran especially loved it.
Watching the play

In his Portland Actors Ensemble t-shirt (free with a $20 donation)

Nick and Mike

Chris perusing the program
At the end of the play (the script of which Chris and I were following along on my iPhone), one of the actors got up and said "If you liked the play, tell your friends! If you didn't like it, tell your enemies!" Nick loved this line and kept repeating it on the way home.

So since you are all my friends, I'm telling you about it! Great cultural fun, in the great outdoors, for free (or a donation).

My homemade Father's Day present for Mike

I went to our local paint-your-own-pottery place in Hillsdale, Paintpots, with Kieran so he could paint a mug for his teacher. He also painted a light switchplate for Mike for Father's Day.

Kieran with the cup he painted for Mrs. Schaeffer

Typical me: I was way too overambitious. I couldn't finish painting my pasta bowl before the shop closed at 8:00 p.m., so I had to go back the following week to finish. I was happy with the way it turned out, though--you never know how these things are going to look!

My pasta bowl
The bottom of the bowl

Oh Marie! (Songs about Marie)

I have noticed I have two songs on my iPod that invoke the name of Marie, and I just heard another one! It appears that my name inspires the songwriting muse. I was able to find all of them on youtube. Take a look. (If you subscribe by e-mail, visit the blog.)

Marie's the Name of His Latest Flame (Elvis)



Oh Marie (by Sheryl Crow):



Marie (by a very young Randy Newman):



Oh Marie (by Louis Prima):



Marie (by Tommy Dorsey):



Absolutely Sweet Marie (by Bob Dylan):



Marie (by Johnny Halladay, a French singer)--this looks like a tragedy and is definitely the type of music Mike likes!:



Know of any others? Which is your favorite?

Go, New York!

I love this story--42 years after Stonewall:

"At New York City's Stonewall Inn, the Greenwich Village pub that spawned the gay rights movement on a June night in 1969, Scott Redstone watched New York sign the historic same-sex marriage law with his partner of 29 years, and popped the question.

"I said, 'Will you marry me?' And he said, 'Of course!'" Redstone said he and Steven Knittweis walked home to pop open a bottle of champagne."

Read more here.

Who will be next?

It's not okay to eat that (mold)

Confession:

I will eat cheese if it has had mold growing on it, but of course I cut off the mold. I was raised to not waste food.

I guess I will need to cut 1 inch off to be safe.

Otherwise, I will not touch a product if it has mold on it.

Good thing--mold penetrates much deeper than the surface. It's not okay to eat mold!

Feeling boxed in at your workplace?

A friend shared this web site the other day on Facebook...some incredible images of workers in China building a walkway on the side of a cliff. Chilling!!! Take a look at these and never take your comfortable office for granted again!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Go back in time to experience one night with Janis Joplin

Last night, after weeks of anticipation, we saw the Portland Center Stage world premiere of "One Night with Janis Joplin." I've been looking forward to it ever since I participated in an inspiring voice masterclass with the motivational voice coach Michelle Kopper Seymour earlier in June. A group of six or seven women--most of whom had never met--came together for an afternoon in Seymour's North Portland studio, and we sang our hearts out and cried. (Yes, seriously. I can't imagine men doing the same thing. The wonderful male accompanist was lovely and said not a word.) A few souls were brave enough to attempt Janis songs, but I stuck with the more comfortable "You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman."

The class came with a free ticket to the show, and since we already had two tickets, we decided to take Chris along. So last night my parents took the little ones overnight, and we took Chris for dinner at the Deschutes Brew Pub in the Pearl (which Mike loves because of their gluten-free beer and food), followed by a night with Janis.

Honestly, before Portland Center Stage announced its intention to produce this play, I had not listened to much Janis Joplin outside of "Me and Bobby McGee." She died two days before my sixth birthday.

The play, staged like an actual concert with Joplin, blew me away. Cat Stephani, who played Joplin, was simply phenomenal, as was the woman who played the blues singer, Marisha Wallace. Wallace was actually the understudy for Sabrina Elayne Carten, who played the role for the majority of the performances, but they trade off because the roles are so vocally demanding. Wallace played a variety of blues icons--Odetta, Bessie Smith, Nina Simone, and Aretha Franklin, skillfully channeling each powerful woman. (I've heard Stephani's understudy is also excellent.)

Sanctioned by the estate and family of Janis Joplin, the play focused mostly on her musical influences (the blues) rather than her tragic life. Glimpses remained--such as her frequent swigs from a bottle of Southern Comfort and her erratic dancing. But for the most part, the play was about the music. Both singers were backed by a fantastic band and backup singers (who played the roles of Janis and the blues singer during other performances.) Set, staging, costumes, lighting--all reflected the psychedelic era of the 1960s.

Frankly, I'm surprised (or not) by the mean-spirited review by Portland newspaper The Willamette Week, and it just goes to show...theaters should listen to their audiences rather than their critics. The audience ate this music up, and PCS has extended its engagement until early July. (The Oregonian gave a more favorable review.) During the opening night, the audience gave an impromptu standing ovation after "Piece of My Heart," which the Willamette Week critic said the "sheer Glee-ful wrongness of choreographed abandon rang false." Others have faulted the script, which is full of exactly the type of concert chatter one would expect. It was not a typical play--it was a musical experience. Yes, perhaps Stephani was a tad more polished than Janis would have been, but she did an excellent job helping the audience forget she was not really Janis.

My three favorite moments were Janis singing a duet with one of her idols, Aretha Franklin; rocking the house during "Piece of My Heart" (which brought me to tears); and the final number, which she never got to record before she died, "Rockin' My Way to Heaven." Chris, by the way, loved the show too...especially the talented drummer in the band.

If you love music--or just love free-spirited people, you need to see this show. It's open until July 3, and seats are still available. Go back in time and get in the hippie groove.

Joplin broke the barriers for women in rock music. She was truly herself...raw, real, and holding nothing back. I think she would have told the critics to f--k off. And this is what she did say:

“If I hold back, I'm no good. I'm no good. I'd rather be good sometimes, than holding back all the time.”

"I read a story about some old opera singer once, and when a guy asked her to marry him, she took him backstage after she had sung a real triumph, with all the people calling for her, asked, 'Do you think you could give me that?' That story hit me right, man. I know no guy ever made me feel as good as an audience. I'm really far into this now, really committed. Like, I don't think I'd go off the road for long now, for life with a guy no matter how good. Yeah, it's the truth. Scary thing to say though, isn't it?"


"Women to be in-a the music business give up more than you'd ever know. She's got kids she gave up. Any woman gives up home life, an old man, probably, because you're so crazy on planes and runnin' and you never find 'em egain. You give up, you give up a home and friends, you give up children and friends, you give up an old man and friends, you give up any constant in the world except music. That's the only thing you've got man, after you boil it down, the only thing you got left in the world is that music, man. And, so for a woman to sing, she really needs to, or wants to. A man can do it as a gig, 'cause he knows he can get laid tonight."


"...to be true to myself, to be the person that was on the inside of me, and not play games. That's what I'm trying to do mostly in the whole world, is to not bullshit myself and not bullshit anybody else."


"I always wanted to be an artist, whatever that was, like other chicks want to be stewardesses. I read. I painted. I thought."

"I won't quit to become someone's old lady."

“At my concerts most of the chicks are looking for liberation. They think I’m going to show them how to do it, how to get down. After they see me, when their mothers are feeding them all that cashmere sweater and girdle shit maybe they’ll have a second thought—that they can be themselves and win.”

"You know why we're stuck with the myth that only black people have soul? Because white people don't let themselves feel things."

And this is what others have said about her influence on them:

"Janis was like an angel who came and paved a road white chicks hadn't walked before." "I began feeling proud to be her role model. When I heard her sing, I recognized my influence, but I also heard the electricity and rage in her own voice. I loved her attitude." --Etta James

"I think she allowed women to have their pain. Her thing was so borne from her pain. Her amazing talent was because of the pain she had...I think she was so misunderstood, and she was so intelligent, emotionally intelligent, and what came out of her was almost beyond what her physical body could even do as a singer, and what she was putting across." --Nancy Wilson

"I have a deep, spiritual connection to Janis. And I don't know how, why or when. But, I've always been extremely attracted to her energy, and her pain, and her voice, and her life. I just think she is one of the most amazing women that ever lived." --Pink

"I was just watching the Monterey Pop Festival. When Janis Joplin goes up at the end of Ball and Chain and she kind of cracks on the top note, that's one of my favorite moments in all of music. It's just so much heart that she's belting out into the microphone. I'd rather hear a cracked note by Janis Joplin than anything these American Idol people sing." --Sebastian Bach

"I only saw Janis Joplin one time--on a hot summer day in San Jose, California, at the Santa Clara Fairgrounds...She was extraordinary. She had a connection with the audience that I had not seen before, and when she left the stage--I knew that a little bit of my destiny had changed--I would search to find that connection that I had seen between Janis and her audience. In a blink of an eye--she changed my life." --Stevie Nicks


Going to go get some Janis Joplin music now!







Monday, June 20, 2011

The wild, wacky city I love!

This past weekend the City of Roses hosted two wonderful traditions:

The Portland Pride parade and festival, which we participated in two years ago but have been unable to attend the last few years because of its unfortunate scheduling on Father's Day...our friends participated both last year and this year, and Catherine shared this wonderful account (with great photos) of this year's parade on a friend's blog. I love it that the Mennonites were represented, in addition to bunches of other religious faiths. And isn't it great that Nike is such a strong supporter of the event, and even its CEO marches? (I remember the Nike contingent from 2 years ago--you couldn't miss them because of their volume and matching t-shirts.)

The first time I heard about this event years ago, I couldn't believe it. Some friends of ours go every year, because the husband works at the Ringside (which is along the route). Since the World Naked Bike Ride started in 2004, only four other cities--San Francisco, Seattle, and Boulder and Black Rock City in Colorado--have celebrated it every year. Portland is supposedly one of the largest in the world, not surprisingly because the whole point of the ride is to promote alternative transportation! Photos (largely in good taste) here and less tasteful (but more entertaining) ones here. It is not illegal to be naked in Portland, as long as you are not participating in sexual acts or being lewd (that is, in public). Thousands upon thousands participate and have a blast doing it.

Kieran's desperate to participate next year, also not surprisingly. And although I love the fact that they do it, I will not be among them...I'm far too modest!! Maybe someday I'll go watch on the sidelines!

I do love my wacky city most of the time!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Celebrating wonderful fathers

Just finished another busy Father's Day weekend. Last night my sister and family came down to Portland, and we went to Mom & Dad's house for stir fry (and pizza for the kids). Here's my dad--under the blanket with Nick--as the cousins are arriving.
Hiding grandpa

The more boys, the more fun!
Today started off with Mike going off to church to deliver a Father's Day message at both services--talk about sacrifice! He talked about his wonderful father and the other men in his life (notably my dad and our brother-in-law, David) who have also been great fathering role models for him.


Then we went to Mom & Dad's for a chicken curry lunch and to continue celebrating the dads. Fortunately the weather was nicer today, so the boys could play outside (always a blessing with six boys)!

Dad and Mike with the gluten-free cheesecake I baked
(white chocolate with mango topping)

Nicholas loves his Uncle Stephen!
We're all delighted to be seeing more of Stephen lately

Trying to get a good shot of Grandpa with five (squirmy) boys and one teenager!

Second try

Third try
Fourth try
(and we're losing Nick...)

No hope of corralling all three boys for a photo with Dad,
 but Kieran obliged!

Friday, June 17, 2011

This day, 21 years ago, I married the man of my dreams

Last year we celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary with an unforgettable, romantic trip to San Francisco.

This year it's much more low key--we will be having dinner on the waterfront and will take a walk along the river, partaking in some rare June Oregon sunshine!!

I can't believe that 21 years have passed already, and Mike and I have known each other for over 24 years. (Those of you who attended our last big Robert Burns whisky-tasting, poetry-reading night to celebrate our 20 years together, get ready for next January's event to celebrate 25!!) Before I met Mike, I wrote down a list of characteristics I was seeking in a life partner, not really expecting to find anyone who had all of them. Sure enough...he did, even down to the fine detail of being a good singer! He even has perfect handwriting. He's truly my soulmate, and I feel so incredibly blessed to share my life with him. Here are some keepsakes from that day, 21 years ago today.

Bulletin cover

Inside

The bride--age 25!!

My handsome groom, age 27!
Looking back, we were SO young!!
My favorite of our wedding photos

With our adorable ring bearer and flower girl, my cousins Anne and Elena

The wedding party
Remember how teal was in during that era, as were floral dresses?
With my family
My mom was 50, just 4 years older than I am now!

With Mike's family (his mum, 51)
Mike's brother, Ed, had flown in for 24 hours for the wedding...he never recovered from his jet lag, and during the reception, he'd jump up to dance frenetically for a few songs, and then collapse into a nap at a table. We had two guests from Japan at our wedding, and one of them--Seiji--was one of our groomsmen. Sadly, he became a salaryman shortly afterward and we've lost touch with him. He was such a hoot! In addition to Mike's family from England, we also had his aunt and cousin and family from Ontario, Canada. It was a reasonably small, simple wedding by today's standards, but we had great fun!

Happy anniversary, darling!

Dumb as a post (DAAP) strikes again

Blogger Elon Green at Think Progress has compiled the 10 craziest things our country's favorite DAAP, Michele Bachmann (R-MN), has ever said.

Here's a sneak peek:
  1. The Lion King is gay propaganda.
  2. Abolishing the minimum wage will create jobs.
  3. Hundreds of scientists, many who hold Nobel prizes, do not believe in evolution.
  4. Terri Schiavo was healthy.
  5. Carbon dioxide is harmless.
  6. Americans would love to stage a witch hunt for the likes of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid.
  7. Melissa Etheridge should change her sinning ways because she got cancer.
  8. It's not required by law to fill out census forms.
  9. Glenn Beck can fix the national debt.
Really.

How to scam a scammer

Some of you might remember that in February, someone tried to scam me on Facebook by hacking a former coworker's account and sending me an instant message, claiming that she'd been mugged in London and needed money, quick. The London scam is a common one, as I found out after doing research. Well yesterday, a British friend from Japan (now living with his family in New York) wrote a Facebook note about his own scamming episode. In his case, he took the opportunity to have a little fun! With his permission, I'm pasting the story here. Thanks, Dan, for our laugh this morning!

"Do you still love me?" Sara B Franklin....whoever you are. An email exchange.


Sara B Franklin: Apologies for having to reach out to you like this, I made a trip this past weekend to London, England and had my bag stolen from me with my passport and credit cards in it. The embassy is willing to help by letting me fly without my passport, I just have to pay for a ticket and settle Hotel bills. Unfortunately for me, I can't have access to funds without my credit card, I've made contact with my bank but they need more time to come up with a new one. I was thinking of asking you to lend me some quick funds that I can give back as soon as I get in. I really need to be on the next available flight. I can forward you details on how you can get the funds to me. You can reach me via email or Park Lane hotels desk phone +447024078324

I await your response. Sara

DD: oh dear sara...that's terrible...what happened?

SBF: Thanks for your response. Please i really need your help, i don't know how much you can help me with but i need to borrow about $2250, will pay back as soon as i get home. Bank transfer will take days, send money via western union. See details for transfer below:
Receiver: Sara Franklin
Address: 32 regent street, London. England
You will need to email me the western union mtcn number as soon as you make transfer so I can receive money here. How soon can you send. Thanks

DD: I can't believe you didn't call me when you were there...why not?
Where were you staying?

SBF: Park lane hotel. How soon can you send?

DD: Are you sure $2250 is enough...it's a pretty expensive hotel.

SBF: Yes it is. That's all I need. How long would it take you to send?

Waiting for your mail with the MTCN number.

DD: It shouldn't take long Sara. But why are you contacting me now so soon after we broke up. Do I still mean something to you?

SBF: Thanks. When I return, I'll come see you

DD: Sara...a lot happened between us...can you still make any sense of why we split up?

SBF: Can we please leave that for now. I will come and see you when I return. So we can talk. For now, I do need to leave here.

DD: Ok...I've never done this transfer business before...what do I need to do....and when will you be free to meet me. Can we meet at our favourite place?

SBF: I was told that you would have to go there with the cash and extra for transfer charges. When done, you would be given an MTCN number that I would use to pickup the cash. Are you about going to the western union office? When I return, we would see and clear things out. Thanks.

DD: What's an MTCN number? And don't you have any kind words for me?

SBF: The MTCN number is the code number you would be given to give to me to pickup. Its just like the only key to a door. When will you be going to the western union. Sorry dear, its just that am tensed and tend to rush your reply. How have you been? I must confess, I do really miss you. Much Love.

DD: So why did you finish it so suddenly Sara?

SBF: Please, just do me this little favor dear, let talk about this when I return. Please. We have a lot of things to talk about when I return. Let's focus on me returning home safely today. Talk to you soon.

DD: But dear, dear Sara now I'm worried that you are only being nice to me because you want me to send you money. I don't want to pay for your friendship.

Do you still love me?

SBF: I know. I still love you. Love isn't something that just dies away. There are things we would have to sit down and talk about. Am not being nice because of the help you want to assist me with, am just nice and you know that. I have limited time. Can you please jus send it down so i can pick up and heard to the airport, please? Waiting for your mail. Much Love,

DD: I'm really not sure that you DO love me still.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Singing with Marie


Last Friday was my last day to sing with Kieran's second grade class. I cannot begin to explain how much I have enjoyed this very small volunteer service, and I'm already missing it. Kieran's wonderful teacher, Mrs. Schaeffer, invited the parents and interim principal on the last day. Here we are singing Yellow Submarine (another mom brought in her trumpet to play along)--you can clearly hear Mike and Kieran!:



And Swiss Boy:


Mrs. Mabbott gave a special talk about how sad it is that we do not have music in the schools at this point and thanked me for singing with the kids. We sang a surprise song for Mrs. Schaeffer in the vein of the one we sang for our retiring principal in December. Here's an excerpt:



Then they gave me a wonderful flower arrangement and a basket of wonderful cards and letters. I will treasure these notes--they are absolutely precious. I especially enjoyed seeing the way the children see me!
Mrs. Mabbott and Mrs. Schaeffer

Kieran loves to sit at my side when we are singing

The beautiful flowers and basket of cards


Mrs. McNett is the former music teacher

One of the best compliments I received from a parent was from a mom whose son pretends he doesn't like music (but he gave me a really nice card)! She told me that her son didn't even realize that Maplewood doesn't have music...because of my singing with the kids on Fridays.












From guess who!

My favorite card!

I guess I'm funny!
I just love second graders!!
Note from a parent

One parent wrote me a note, saying that his daughter loves to sing everywhere she goes, but she's had to tone down her internal rhythm this year because of complaints she was annoying some of her classmates. He said this has been a bit stifling for her so he's grateful she's had a venue to release her pent-up musical impulse.
Don't I have long eyelashes?



One of my favorites!
I've always wanted to be a queen of something...






Apparently I have large, orange hands



I love this: I filled hi heart with joy and hope. So sweet!
The Yellow Submarine--a perennial favorite

Pretty pink flowers
My guitar


Another guitar

Lips AND eyelashes!
Someone clearly knows her music...







I will really miss these kids over the summer...so much so that I'm planning to have some park singing dates...and I am going to offer to do two classes next year--Kieran's new third grade class (if the teacher wants me, of course) and then I've offered to return to Mrs. Schaeffer's class for her final year of teaching before she retires. It's been just as rewarding for me as it has been for the kids!
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