Friday, September 30, 2011

Three Half-Truths and a Lie

Today's blog is patterned after the party game, Two Truths and a Lie. So here's how we play.  I'm going to list four things you likely don't know about me.  Three of them are, indeed, partially true; the other is a boldface lie.  You guess which one is the lie.

Are you ready?  Here goes:

1. I once rode in a limousine with a kangaroo.

2. While participating in the Roller Derby I fell and got a concussion.

3. I am related to Dan Blocker who played Hoss Cartwright on the TV show Bonanza.

4. I won the 1979 Northwest Regional Card Shuffling Contest.

Have you made your choice?  Let's see if you guessed right.

1. On several occasions I rode to the airport in a limo when my brother-in-law was a driver.  And on my mom's 50th birthday, our friend Kris rented a limo and she, Peach and I took Mom to McDonald's drive-through for breakfast, but there was never a kangaroo in the limo.

2. When I was working with the children at the Warm Beach Church, we went to the roller rink in Everett.  During an all-girl skate, those little kids were going so fast that I thought I'd better get out of their way. I made it clear to the entrance of the rink before I fell.  There was no concussion.

3. For years this was the bit of trivia I pulled out when asked to tell something about myself that nobody else would know.  And really, I thought I was related to Hoss.  Turns out he was in my uncle's family line, not ours.  When he and my aunt divorced, I lost my claim to fame through my relationship with my fifth-cousin-by-marriage, twice-removed!

4. If you eve played UNO with me, you'd know this is a flat-out lie.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Technology's Greatest Invention

Step inside the Rare Books and Special Collections Division of the Library of Congress and see the book that changed the world.

Monday, September 26, 2011

A Room with a View

Photo by Joe Mabel
Tom and his friend Pat were reminiscing recently about their days at Queen Anne Junior/Senior High School in Seattle.

It was 1961; Tom and Pat were 7th and 8th grades.  The windows of the upper floors of the school offered a bird's eye view of the construction of the Seattle Center, including the Space Needle, all a part of the 1962 World's Fair.

Pat's math class was on the fourth floor, perhaps the best place in town to watch the Space Needle rise higher and higher each week.  As an incentive the teacher granted the students with the best grades on the weekly math test the privilege of sitting by the window the following week.  Of course the kids who scored the window seats didn't last more than a week there!

Tom was a floor below, in Mr Reed's science class.  At the close of each period Mr Reed would pick up one of Ernest Thompson Seton's books, perhaps Animals I Have Known, and continue reading where he had left off the day before.  Seton, a prolific wildlife author who wrote from 1886 to 1945, had a way of capturing the imagination of his readers.  With all thought of the Space Needle forgotten, Tom found the reading to be his favorite part of the day.  "It felt like you were in the skin on the animal he was describing," Tom said, "soaring with a mischievous crow or ranging with a surly silver back grizzly bear."

Hmmm... I wonder, which teacher had the more effective incentive program?

     *   *   *   *   *   *   *
Queen Anne High School closed in 1981 and was renovated into apartments and condos in 1986 with additional renovation in 2006.  The lovely window in the photo was not in the original building, otherwise nobody would have been able to pay attention to the teacher!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

Enter a world you likely know little about, unless, of course, you grew up in it.

Henry is 12, the only Chinese boy at Rainier Elementary, an all-white school in Seattle.  It's 1942, and he is miserable.  Then Keiko, Japanese, transfers to Rainier and she and Henry become fast friends.  But Japanese Americans are considered potential spies and all around the city they are being mistreated, eventually rounded up and relocated to internment camps.

How does a boy, easily mistaken himself as Japanese, make sense of what goes on around him, even in his own home?  How does he cope with injustice?  How does this nightmare of his youth shape him as an adult?  These are all themes woven into the fabric of this poignant, moving story.

When we first meet Henry, he is in his mid-50s and the Panama Hotel, which has been boarded up for years, is being opened and renovated.  The new owner has just discovered that the basement is filled with the belongings of families who had been interned, and Henry is suddenly back in Chinatown and Nihonmachi (Japantown), 12 years old again.  Throughout the book, which gracefully moves between 1942 and 1986, we are drawn into Henry's life and find ourselves in his very neighborhood, peeking into his window.

In writing Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet Jamie Ford has created believable characters whom we come to know intimately -- Henry's father who spends his days devouring the news of Japan's rise and fall and insists Henry wear an "I am Chinese" button; Sheldon, the saxophone playing street musician who introduces Henry to jazz; Mrs Beatty, the school cook whose hard exterior has just enough cracks to reveal a raw heart.

Seattleites will feel at home in this book as we travel the streets of Seattle -- Jackson, Maynard, Denny, going to Kobe Park and King Street Station, riding the ferry to Vashon and shopping at Rhodes Department Store.  Ford paints a picture of 1942 Seattle with enough that is familiar to us today that we can easily imagine it 70 years ago.

I loved the book for so many reasons -- for the familiarity of the city; for the character of Henry; for Keiko's family; for the clearer understanding I gained of the Internment; for the sweet that co-existed with the bitter.

One day I will go to the Panama Hotel for tea.  It's still open, you know.  I'll look at the items they have on display as I drink my bittersweet tea.  I wonder if I'll see Henry...

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Hymn of the Month -- Planting Trees

This song, Planting Trees by Andrew Peterson, is in honor of all parents who are endeavoring to raise their children in the Lord, especially the young women I am getting to know through MOPS.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

New Vision

A friend recently told me about her son's experience with glasses.  He's a bright kid, 13, and he's been wearing glasses for a while now.  But it was quite a trick to get him into them!

His mom thought he might be having trouble with his vision, but whenever he'd get his eyes tested he'd come out with 20/20 vision.  Finally she asked the doctor to give him a chart he hadn't seen before and, you guessed it, his vision problems were revealed.  Turns out he'd been memorizing the eye charts.  Just a brief glance was all it had taken to ace the eye test.

For whatever reason, he hadn't wanted his problem to be exposed.  Maybe it was vanity, maybe it was a need to manage on his own.  At least in part it was fear of the unknown.  But now, with the aid of glasses (actually he wears contacts -- so vanity was definitely in the mix of reasons for resisting!) he can see what he was not able to see before!

How often are we faced with a situation that offers us good, but for any number of reasons we'd rather maintain the status quo than step into the unknown.  How many decisions have you put off, how often have I held back from the next step, because we don't realize how much it will improve our lives?  Even the hard stuff that we don't want to face will usually bring positive results for us.

And if it is true for the daily matters of our lives, how much more for the spiritual matters!  Jesus offers us life to the full (John 10:10) and we are satisfied with life to the medium!  We don't realize the greatness of the gifts He offers us, so we refuse Him.

Maybe it's time to put away the familiar chart that you've memorized, the one that's always gotten you by, and let Him give you a new perspective.  Don't resist Him; don't live satisfied with mediocre. Let Him give you that life to the full.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Salvadoran Breakfast

Our Labor Day trip included an overnight visit with friends in Portland.  Sara, from El Salvador, was one of our international student friends years ago.  She and her kids and mom welcomed us into their home on Sunday evening and on Monday served us a delicious Salvadoran breakfast.

We had coffee and South American pastry while we waited for breakfast, which consisted of fried pantains, Huevos Ricadios (eggs with tomatoes, onions and peppers), homemade refried beans and homemade tortillas.  It was quite a treat!

Our love and thanks to Sara and her family for their hospitality and for the many years they have been a special part of our lives.  Their prayers have had a significant impact on our family and it has been a joy for us to watch the children over the years grow into very fine young people.

The hands of a pro making tortillas!

I asked Sara how she makes the refried beans.  Here's her recipe.

Sara's Homemade Refried Beans

Wash carefully 1 pound of dried red beans, and put them into the crockpot.  Cut a large onion in half and add it to the beans, as well as 7 or 8 cloves of garlic.  Salt to taste.  Cover with water and cook for 10-12 hours.  Add more water to the beans two or three times while they cook.  When they are soft and plump, they are done.  Discard onion; set beans aside to cool.

Closer to serving time,slice an onion and fry it in oil until it is well cooked.  Remove and discard the onion, but save the oil in the pan.  Blend the cooled beans in the blender, then cook them in the oil in the frying pan.  When they reach the desired consistency they are ready to serve.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Morning Song

The day is fresh and new,
Rose scent fills the air,
The house ticks like an old clock shop.

I sit by the window,
Sipping tea,
Absorbing the quietness,
Listening to robins hunting worms
In the yard.

When was my heart last still?
When was my mind last able to see the world?
When was my body last rested?

I release the breath I’ve been holding for days,
I drop my hands to my sides.
I hear the words,
“Come to me, weary one,”
Ready now, I come.

Ginger Kauffman

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Friday Harbor

Have you ever been to Friday Harbor on San Juan Island?  We had a bit of cash left in our vacation fund after our Labor Day trip, so we decided to take the ferry to Friday Harbor for dinner on Saturday.  Spontaneous!  Beautiful!  Delicious!

We caught the 2:00 ferry from Anacortes and the 6:30 ferry back -- just three-and-a-half hours on Friday Harbor to knock around town, but just enough for seeing a few shops, getting some photos, and enjoying a wonderful dinner at Downriggers.  Next time we may rent mopeds and tour the whole island, especially the lighthouse and the lavender farm.

Between Tom and me, we got nearly 600 pictures!  Here are just a few.  (Good thing we've got digital cameras, not film cameras!)

The Yakima docked at Anacortes
The trip begins
We saw dozens of cormorants on the pilings
Now I know what they mean by
"I'd rather be sailing"!

Inside Pelindaba Lavender store
Corn-crusted halibut,  Umm. humm!
Back on the ferry
Beautiful textures
The moon in the eastern sky
The sun setting in the western sky
Back at our starting point

Monday, September 12, 2011

A Case of Mistaken Identity

As we were making plans to go to Eastern Washington last week, Tom was looking for details about the roads from Stanwood to Yakima.  He opened Google Maps and typed in his information.  He was baffled when the following map and directions appeared.  Seems he added an extra a to the middle of the word Yakima, (Yakiama), so Google Maps directed him to Yokohama Japan!  Check out the directions; apparently we'll have to take some sea kayaking lessons before we venture out on this trip!

Stanwood, WA, USA

6,796 mi - about 34 days 9 hours

1.Head south on 102nd Ave NW towardWA-532 W
62 ft
2.Take the 1st left onto WA-532 E
5.9 mi
3.Slight right to merge onto I-5 S
42.6 mi
4.Take exit 169 toward NE 45th St
0.6 mi
5.Merge onto 5th Ave NE
233 ft
6.Turn right onto NE 45th St
0.6 mi
7.Turn left onto Wallingford Ave N
0.9 mi
8.Turn right onto N 34th St
292 ft
9.Take the 1st left onto Densmore Ave N
436 ft
10.Turn right onto N Northlake Way
282 ft
11.Kayak across the Pacific Ocean
Entering Hawaii
2,756 mi
12.Continue straight
0.1 mi
13.Turn left onto Kuilima Dr
0.5 mi
14.Take the 3rd right onto HI-83 W
12.4 mi
15.Continue straight onto HI-99 S/Kamehameha Hwy
6.5 mi
16.Slight left onto HI-80 S/Kamehameha Hwy
Continue to follow Kamehameha Hwy
2.1 mi
17.Take the Interstate H-2 S ramp toHonolulu
0.2 mi
18.Merge onto I-H-2 S
7.9 mi
19.Merge onto I-H-1 E
4.7 mi
20.Take exit 13B toward Halawa Hts. Stadium
0.3 mi
21.Merge onto I-H-201 E
4.1 mi
22.Merge onto I-H-1 E
4.1 mi
23.Take exit 23 for Punahou St towardWaikiki/Manoa
0.2 mi
24.Turn right onto Punahou St
0.1 mi
25.Take the 1st right onto S Beretania St
0.1 mi
26.Take the 1st left onto Kalakaua Ave
1.9 mi
27.Kayak across the Pacific Ocean
Entering Japan
3,879 mi
28.Turn left toward 県道275号線
0.4 mi
29.Turn left toward 県道275号線
358 ft
30.Turn left toward 県道275号線
0.2 mi
31.Turn right onto 県道275号線
0.1 mi
32.Turn left onto 国道125号線
499 ft
33.Turn right onto 県道24号線
0.6 mi
34.Turn left at 千束町(交差点) onto 国道354号線
2.0 mi
35.Turn right at 中村陸橋下(交差点) to stay on 国道354号線
1.0 mi
36.Take the ramp to 常磐自動車道
Toll road
0.3 mi
37.Keep left at the fork, follow signs for東京 and merge onto 常磐自動車道
Toll road
23.8 mi
38.Take exit 三郷JCT on the righttoward 首都高・銀座・湾岸線
Toll road
0.7 mi
39.Merge onto 首都高速6号三郷線
Toll road
5.8 mi
40.Take exit 小菅JCT toward 湾岸線・銀座
Toll road
0.3 mi
41.Merge onto 首都高速中央環状線
Toll road
0.4 mi
42.Take exit 堀切JCT on the righttoward 銀座
Toll road
0.3 mi
43.Merge onto 首都高速6号向島線
Toll road
5.4 mi
44.Take exit 江戸橋JCT toward 銀座・横浜
Toll road
0.4 mi
45.Merge onto 首都高速都心環状線
Toll road
2.3 mi
46.Take exit 浜崎橋JCT toward 湾岸線・横浜
Toll road
0.4 mi
47.Merge onto 首都高速1号羽田線
Toll road
7.4 mi
48.Continue onto 首都高速神奈川1号横羽線
Toll road
11.5 mi
49.Take exit 首都高横浜公園 on the right
Toll road
0.3 mi
50.Keep right at the fork, follow signs for大さん橋・中華街・県庁・市庁
Toll road
331 ft
51.Turn left at 横浜スタジアム前(交差点)
0.2 mi
52.Turn right at 関内駅南口(交差点)
Destination will be on the left
210 ft
Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan