Sunday, May 28, 2006

My Saturday

I did something interesting, meaningful, and non-earth-shaking yesterday. I
began my life as a volunteer for the program called Girl Scouts Beyond Bars.

I picked up three girls, two of whom were sisters. I just
about jumped out of my skin when the 16 year old told me she has a 19 month
old daughter, who is in a separate foster care home from hers.

My job was to drive the girls to the prison, then escort them in and help
out at the meeting, then drive the girls back home. We got to the prison at
9, went through the metal detector and the checking of who was there, who
was on their list, etc. In all they seemed to be pretty laid back, as it
was a minimum security--there is also medium security that they have a
separate meeting at, but I was at the minimum today. I got to meet all the
moms and girls, and they're from all over Oregon. Talked with one mom who
had given birth while in prison....and I asked her about how that is. Very
hard, she said. I had read an article that said that a lawsuit is going on
to try to get prisons to stop the practice of shackling laboring moms to
their hospital beds. I call that cruel and unusual punishment! Like the
laboring mom is going to run? Please. This mom said she could have been
shackled, but was given special dispensation.

After the meeting, I went over to medium to pick up the two sisters, who'd
gone there to visit their mom. The youngest, probably about 8, eagerly
showed me the craft she'd made--a piece of fabric with her name written on
it in fabric paint. Then she promptly dropped it on the wet ground and it
got messed up. We put it in the trunk of my car, and she got in the car.
As I handed her the cup of water I'd carried for her, I saw she was crying.
I'm sure it wasn't just about the ruined craft, but that her mom had helped
her make it. She only gets to see her mom twice a month, or maybe once a
week if her dad takes her on the weekends that Girl Scouts doesn't take her.

Later in the afternoon, back at home, Paul and the kids were telling me
about their visit to OMSI (Oregon Museum of Science and Industry). A robot
exhibit just opened today and they'd had a good time playing with the
robots. Paul was telling me it was fun helping these robots to learn,
because the questions they asked were similar to questions a child would
ask. But, it's difficult sometimes, because other people have put faulty
info into them, like one robot was asking for more info on "astronants" that
someone else had told it about. There was no way to tell the robot--no, you
have it wrong, it's astronauts, not astronants. I said that's just like
these kids--you can't go back and undo their past. You have to move

So, I said what I did was non-earth-shaking because it wasn't anything big,
but something very small that's a good thing because it's one of many little
steps. These girls can maintain a relationship with their moms because of
this program.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

yet another picture

Fr. Paul doing his first baby churching at Holy Trinity. (I already told him he needs to watch those little baby dresses--pictures don't look as nice with the baby dress sticking up.) :-)

That baby just looked straight up the whole time she was being churched. Made me wonder what she was looking at....

Pics of Pascha and Roses

Here's more pictures--these two were taken at the midnight Pascha service.

And I'd never have guessed that roses could grow so densely!

Interesting Picture

I was just editing pictures, and came across a picture that one of the kids took. I think it's of Hibi and the cat. Well, I'm sure of the cat, but not quite sure of which kid it is.

Chocolate Panini

And then I have to tell you about what we had for breakfast. Unfortunately, I can't seem to get a picture of it, and it's *gone* now. :-)

Thanks to Jess for letting me know about the big farmer's market downtown on Wednesdays (I guess it's even bigger on Saturdays, but I won't be able to make it there most Saturdays, and the Wednesday one was certainly sufficient). We went last Wednesday and yesterday, and I think we have a Thursday morning breakfast tradition. :-)

Last week when we went, Hibi spotted the Pearl Bakery booth. "What's chocolate panini, and is it vegan?" she asked me. I had no idea what it was, but looking at it I told her I was almost certain it couldn't possibly be vegan. Well, she went over and asked, and they told her it is vegan! We bought one and shared it, and it was SO GOOD. We went back and bought four for breakfast, and I think we'll do that every Wednesday. We all thought it had a similar taste to the pain au chocolat we fell in love with when we went to Paris, which is decidedly NOT vegan. But the panini is more substantive. We enjoyed it this morning with cream cheese and blood oranges.

Shepherd's Pie

I got the idea for what to make for last night's dinner from Denise. I liked her suggestion that one could use lentils in the pie, since I don't like TVP. But I decided to fuse that idea with my mom's way of making "hamburger pie" which I grew up with. When I went to the farmer's market, I looked for vegetables that were in season to use--you could use just about any vegetables you want. I used carrots and asparagus. Here's the result.

First, I had some water I saved from soaking sun-dried tomatoes in the other night when I made pizza. I think this added enough flavor to recommend using soaking water, and you could even add the sun-dried tomatoes to the mix, even though I didn't. Add them when you add the canned tomatoes, later.

Anyway, I cooked a cup of French lentils in the soaking water, adding water and a bit of red wine when it needed more liquid. Cook until tender--but they don't have to be mushy tender, just tender enough to eat.

Then I put on a pot of cut-up potatoes (I didn't peel the potatoes, but if you don't like skins in your mashed potatoes, peel them) on the stove, covered in water. Cook those until tender. I used, oh, probably about 6 med-large potatoes-worth (some were smaller, so I used more).

Here's where I diverged to make one vegan pie and one regular vegetarian. (This uses rather a lot of pots, even if I hadn't made two different pies!) I put one large saute pan on with a tablespoon of butter, and a smaller skillet on with olive oil. I added a couple of chopped spring onions, white part only (maybe only available at farmer's markets--and only at this time of year) and sauteed. I saved the greens to add at the end. Then came four sliced carrots and 4 cloves of garlic, sauteeing them until the carrots are tender-crisp. Then I added two tablespoons of flour to the large, 1/2 tablespoon to the small, and stirred until the flour was cooked a bit. Then I took one 28 oz. can of tomatoes, which I'd used my stick blender and made into a puree (or you could just buy puree) and added that to the pans. Stir and cook, then add a bit of milk/soy milk to the mix. Stir and cook, until it's bubbly and thickened. Then I added a pound of asparagus, chopped fine (because said vegan daughter says she doesn't like asparagus--well, she does now, in this recipe!) and add the sliced greens from the onions, and a handful of chopped parsley. Salt and pepper. Stir in the lentils. Turn off heat and put aside.

I mashed the potatoes in the usual way: with milk, butter, salt and pepper for the non-vegans, oil and soy milk and salt and pepper for the vegan.

Put each of the veggie fillings in their own dish, and top with mashed potatoes. For the non-vegan, I put slices of cheese on top. Put in a 350 degree oven and bake until the cheese is beginning to melt and the filling is bubbly, about 20 minutes.

We all really liked this! It was so flavorful.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Girl Scouts Beyond Bars

"So, is that like Girl Scouts gone bad?" Kelly, the director, told me is most people's first reaction. No, it's to try to keep them from going bad. This is a program I heard about first from reading the newsletter of the Northwest Film Center, when I saw they were showing two different films about Girl Scouts Beyond Bars programs. I was fascinated with the idea, and went to the screening back in March. The first of the films was made by and about a local program, in the Portland area, a troop that meets at the Coffee Creek Correctional Facility in Oregon. I was so impressed by what the program is doing--getting girls together with their moms even in this difficult situation.

The moms have to meet certain qualifications: they can't be high-security, they can't be in the program if their crime was violent, especially if it involved any children including their own. They have to have good behavior in prison. If they meet all these qualifications, they can spend more time than usual with their daughters in a semi-structured program. I can see so much good about this program, the first of which being a way for moms and daughters to stay connected, even through months or years of imprisonment. What better rehabilitation than to see, right in front of you, the reason why you should straighten out your life? It's certainly not everything I'd like to see in prison rehab, but it's a huge start.

After watching the first movie, about the local troop (at which the girls who made the movie, one mom who'd been released from prison, and the directors of the program were present) I walked up to one of the directors and told her I'd like to volunteer. I've gotten through the application process, had my criminal check done (I passed--what a relief! ;-) and sat down with Kelly to learn about what I'll be doing. I start this Saturday! I'll be driving a few girls (up to 6, as that's how many I can fit in my car) to the prison, escorting them in, and helping to run the program. I'm so excited about this, I just had to share!

Saturday, May 20, 2006


Tonight we had tzatziki, which I'd like some help from the vegans out there to veganize. Hibi tried, but soy yogurt doesn't do really well when stirred--also, she didn't have time to drain it, which would maybe have helped. She added some tofu, but it didn't seem to help. The texture was weird.

Here's my recipe:

To start: if you're not using Greek-style yogurt (sold in a green-labelled container, very thick) you need to get started early, at least half a day before you want to make it. Strain a couple (maybe 1 1/2) big containers (32 oz.) of plain yogurt, using coffee filters lining a colander or strainer, set over a bowl. Put it in the fridge while draining. You can drain it for up to 2 or 3 days. Just dump out the water periodically, especially right after you start it draining.

Grate 2 good sized cucumbers and squeeze as much water out of them as you can. Leave them to drain while you're working on the rest.

With a mortar and pestle, mash 2 cloves of garlic with 1/2 teaspoon salt until it is a paste. Stir this into yogurt (one big container if using Greek-style yogurt--I don't think those have quite 32 oz.), then add cucumber. Stir in 4 tablespoons (or so) of olive oil and 3 tablespoons of vinegar--I like wine vinegar. Stir in some chopped dill, about 2 tablespoons, or any other herb you like and have on hand. Serve with pita wedges, brushed with olive oil and toasted in the oven to desired crispness. (Greeks often eat it just barely crisp, still chewy and soft, but my kids like it quite crunchy.)

I enjoy tzatziki and pita with a carrot salad, made with herbs and olive oil and vinegar.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

When I was 12

I was just looking at the scar on my wrist and realizing that a lot happened to me when I was 12. I don't know if this post will be of any interest to anyone else, but I thought I should chronicle my own memories for myself.

Number one thing that happened to me when I was 12 was probably the saddest--my birthday was forgotten because of the death of my step-grandfather. He was my grandma's second husband (the one who recently turned 101) and he was the person I thought of as my grandfather, because I never met my "real" grandfather. I think we had the funeral for him in the couple of days after my birthday, and of course things were very busy and stressful getting ready. I can remember sitting in front of the television on the morning of my birthday.....I have to explain that in central California, we didn't have snow days, because it never snowed, but we had fog that every year killed a good many people from traffic accidents. So, in an attempt to cut down on accidents, they'd delay school to try and wait until the fog started to lift. I was sitting watching PBS, because that's where we found out what schools had foggy day schedules. I was reading, out loud, "Today is January 7, 1981....the following schools" blah blah blah. I was reading it out loud over and over, thinking someone would hear the date and say, oh, it's your birthday! But it didn't happen. After school my mom apologized and gave me my presents and all that.

The scar on my wrist came from the removal of a cyst when I was 12. When I was four, I'm told (I don't remember it) I was in the car with the same grandmother, when she had to slam on the brakes. My arm hit the dashboard and the cyst was the result from that. Over the years my mom always asked doctors if it was anything they needed to take care of. Oh, no, it's nothing, they'd say. The cyst was about the size of a dime, and it was blue. It usually didn't bother me much, but when I was 12 it would sometimes bulge out and then it was extremely sensitive and would hurt badly whenever it got bumped a bit. I remember I couldn't help but bump it when I was playing my violin. My mom decided it was time to take it to a specialist, so off to Fresno we went (closest city to us) and the doctor immediately took a biopsy. He called a few days later and told my mom, with marked relief, that it wasn't cancerous. We hadn't known to be worried until then, because all the doctors before had said it was nothing, and this doctor said he was just taking a biopsy just to see what it was. Anyway, I went back a few days later, and the doctor gave me a local anesthetic and cut it open and took it out. I still have a diagonal line scar, plus little dots on the sides of the line where the stitches were sewn. I can count that there were 6 stitches.

I believe it was when I was 12 that I first began to think of myself as fat. I don't know where it came from, because when I look at pictures of myself then, I think I wasn't fat at all. It wasn't until I was 30 years old, and read a book on body image that changed how I looked at my own body, that I began to undo the damage I'd done to myself (and done to me by societal expectations) from constantly berating myself over my weight.

When I was 12 I got the chicken pox. My mom had exposed me before, multiple times, but either I didn't get it or it was too mild of a case. Boy, did I have a doozy of a case then! I was miserable. I had to stay with my grandmother (boy, I'm realizing how big my grandmother figured in my life at 12 years old) because my mom had home day care, and not everyone wanted their kids exposed. One big reason why I exposed my kids--even traveling over 4 hours to find someone with chicken pox--when they were 5 and 8. I'm glad to have that one behind us. I'd thought this week that they may have caught the mumps that have been going around recently, but I think I'm wrong. We don't vaccinate (obviously). Maybe I'll explain that one another time.

When I was 12, I liked school again. I loved school in kindergarten, under a very creative teacher. But 1st grade was when my family moved to Texas for a year. I'm sure not all schoolteachers in Texas are bad....but it's hard for me to objectively think about this one. The school that I attended still used corporal punishment. I was used to spanking at home....but not like this. Kids got spanked for very small things. I lived in constant fear of being spanked, even though I was a "good girl." I repeated everything I'd already done in kindergarten, academics-wise. The school was extremely petty. I also made some weird friends....I had two friends who lived down the block from me who were sisters. They were usually okay, but sometimes I'd come out to play with them and they claim they weren't Cheri and Jeri but their twin sisters whom I'd never seen before because they lived elsewhere or something. They wouldn't ever give up their game and I'd leave disappointed to not be able to play.

I didn't have a good experience in Texas! I suppose it's one of those weird things, but I don't ever have any desire to live in Texas or spend much time there again. Even if.

Oh, yeah, back to being 12 and in sixth grade. I didn't like school from 1st grade on, until I got into 6th grade and absolutely *loved* my teacher. Mr. Davis. I wonder what he's doing now....or if he's even still around. He really helped me heal from bad school experiences.

I acted in a play in sixth grade. It was A Christmas Carol, which in my elementary school was done by the sixth graders every year. I got the part of the daughter....gee, I suppose I could go look in our copy and tell you the name, but it was the daughter of Bob Cratchit who comes home from work, and hides when Bob came home to surprise him. The try-out was to run into the arms of the boy who was playing Bob Cratchit. They said I did it the most convincingly of anyone (for a sixth grade girl, mind you!) but I didn't tell anyone (perhaps I've never told anyone until now) that the reason why I did it so convincingly was that I had a crush on that boy. :-)

Ah, memories. I suppose that last one was from when I was 11, not 12, since it was for Christmas in sixth grade and I didn't turn 12 until January.

Hibi is 12 now. I wonder what memories she'll have of being 12 when she's 37?

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Mother's Day

Mother's Day Proclamation - 1870
by Julia Ward Howe
Arise then...women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts!
Whether your baptism be of water or of tears!
Say firmly:
"We will not have questions answered by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage,
For caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
We, the women of one country,
Will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs."

From the voice of a devastated Earth a voice goes up with
Our own. It says: "Disarm! Disarm!
The sword of murder is not the balance of justice."
Blood does not wipe our dishonor,
Nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil
At the summons of war,
Let women now leave all that may be left of home
For a great and earnest day of counsel.
Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace...
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
But of God -
In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of nationality,
May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient
And the earliest period consistent with its objects,
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The amicable settlement of international questions,
The great and general interests of peace.

This is what Mother's Day was created for--for peace. Hallmark Cards had not been notified yet.

May all of the mothers out there have a wonderful day today!

Friday, May 12, 2006

The Wizard of Oz

If you live in Portland: here's a tip for an inexpensive night of wonderful entertainment! But it only lasts tonight and tomorrow (with a matinee tomorrow afternoon, as well as an evening performance). It's The Wizard of Oz, performed at Grant High School. We went last night, mainly because our babysitter was in it. But it was fabulous! High school production--gosh, I've seen semi-professional productions that couldn't hold a candle to this one. So much talent. I won't say the lion stole the show, but he would have if the others hadn't been so talented as well. He was really great! The jitterbug scene was also really amazing.

Here's a quote that was on their website, taken from a US History textbook:
"An easy way to remember the Populists is through the book The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum. the novel is reportedly a political allegory, with Dorothy representing the common man, her silver shoes (the movie changed them into ruby slippers) representing the silver standard, the scarecrow representing the farmer, and the Tin Man representing the industrial worker. William Jennings Bryan was the model for the Cowardly Lion."

I don't know who William Jennings Bryan is, but I suppose now I'll have to find out. I never thought of it as social commentary back when I watched the movie every year on TV as a kid.

Monday, May 8, 2006


Hibi says that I have to change those "tag" answers from awhile back...she says I said that I couldn't sew, but now I'm a walking sewing machine. She's not correct, that old flatterer, but here's what I worked on completing all day today:

Here's how this all came to be.

A couple of months ago, I bought myself a good sewing machine. I spent more on it than I'd planned to, but I wanted something that wasn't a piece of junk. I wanted it for making repairs and sewing the odd invisibility cloak. (Capes are my speciality.) I thought, if something more comes out of it, fine.

The kids were excited about my purchase. They immediately went crazy with the sewing machine. Hibi chose an outfit that she wanted to sew, but I told her one piece at a time. She chose to start with a tunic top.

She worked on it for awhile and then messed up the neckline. She was frustrated and left it for weeks.

Fast forward to Holy Thurday. She and I went shopping (dragging an unwilling Zac along, fun!), looking for just the right Pascha outfit. She is very, um, *particular.* She doesn't wear skirts or dresses. (About a year ago she said to me, Mom, I don't think that just because I'm a girl that I should have to wear a dress to church. And I said, you know, I agree with you. The only problem was implementing takes a bit more work to find pants outfits for someone her size than it does to find skirts and dresses.) She doesn't like pink. There are many other unquantifiables that are objectionable to her for reasons only known to her. Oh, and then there's the fair trade issue, which she feels strongly about (and I do, too, but it makes shopping EXTREMELY hard).

Anyway, of course we found nothing. I finally said, we could keep shopping and shopping and still find nothing or we can work with what we've got. I said that I'd fix the neckline of the tunic she was working on, and I'd go to the fabric store and find an *extremely* easy pattern for loose, elastic-waisted, flowy pants.

So, I did. The tunic was easily fixed that day and ready to wear. On Holy Friday, after I dropped the kids off at church for the Sunday School retreat, I went to the fabric store and asked for their very easiest pattern. I took it home and started working. And working. And then I began to make mistakes. I didn't know until I had her put on the pants without the elastic that I'd sewn two right legs, then sewn them together. It didn't help me that the fabric is very difficult to tell the right side from the wrong side. I tried to fix it, but at that point I was panicking (it was Holy Saturday afternoon) and trying to do it fast, take shortcuts, and making stupid mistakes. I finally told her that I couldn't do it. We'd have to revert to plan B, or maybe C or D....she did wear a skirt under the tunic. I think it did help her that I tried--she knew I wanted her to be happy and to have something she felt comfortable in for Pascha.

So, I have been working some off and on to get the pants done since then, and today I sat down and did it. And I could tell you all the mistakes I made along the way, and I could tell you all the things that are still wrong with it, but I think I won't and I'll just bask in the glory of a job...well, not exactly well-done, but DONE at least.

Saturday, May 6, 2006

wildlife in the city

Yesterday morning Paul was outside, and he came in and told us *something* was up in the tree--a big something. We all went out to look. It took us awhile through all the spring foliage, but we finally could see one raccoon, then two raccoons. When Paul first noticed them he thought they were making fighting sounds. But I do believe they were making love sounds instead. Yep, raccoons mating in the tree. When we were all looking at them, they looked back at us and then moved on. A little privacy, please?

After that we went to the Cinco de Mayo festival at Waterfront Park. We saw some dancing, heard great music, saw beautiful costumes, and ate some so-so burritos. I thought perhaps there would be some excitement left over from so many successful rallies on Monday. I mostly didn't see that....except in the kitchen where we ordered our burritos. They were getting swamped with orders, and getting kind of frenzied, and messing up orders (I had to ask, after getting our burritos, for our aguas frescas several times), and in the middle of it I heard "Si, se puede!" I thought that was pretty funny. Yes, we can! get all these orders done!

Wednesday, May 3, 2006

Potato, Parsnip, and Sprouting Broccoli Soup

Yum. Here's what we had last night--another of those recipes that does well for vegans and plain old vegetarians. And the approximate recipe....I whipped it up last night, originally intending just Cream of Broccoli, but more complimentary veggies makes a more complex and tasty soup. And I didn't measure, just used up CSA veggies. This idea came loosely from Deborah Madison's Rough and Ready Potage recipe, but it's not the same....exactly. :-)

Potato, Parsnip, and Sprouting Broccoli Soup

Chop one onion and two or three cloves of garlic, and saute in olive oil in a large soup pot. When they're nice and tender and fragrant, add three potatoes, cubed but unpeeled, and three parsnips, peeled and sliced/cubed (slice the thinner portions and cube the thicker portions). Add about 4 cups of the good homemade vegetable stock you have in the freezer (what? you don't have any? Well, start saving veggie scraps now for making vegetable stock, in your freezer--start with the clean peelings of the parsnips) or a quart of good organic boxed broth and enough water that the veggies have room to cook. Add salt and pepper and a sprig or two of fresh rosemary and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and cook for a good long time--at least until the vegetables are tender, but you can cook them until they're practically falling apart. If you want, at this point you can blend some or all of the potatoes and parsnips into a smooth puree. Using a stick blender makes this very easy. Add sprouting broccoli....I used a whole lot to use up my CSA veggies, three small colanders full. But you could just use one bunch. Chop the broccoli coarsely and add to the soup. Cook until it's done or until you're ready to eat. :-)

It's vegan like this, but for a non-vegan treat you can add a bit of heavy cream and some cheese--I used parmesan, but cheddar would be good, too.