Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday and our lovely trip

First, a news flash from the present: Today is Good Friday and so at noon, Veeka and I repaired to a local Hispanic Catholic parish that each year stages a Via Crucis procession. That is, the church has actors acting out each station of the cross along a mile-long route through the neighborhood. We missed it last year and it was gorgeous weather then so I was anxious to do it this year. was 46 degrees and raining. Veeka lasted all of 20 minutes before she begged to return to the car. And so the photo of her in the purple jacket is of her gamely holding the gladiolas that are handed out out to members of the crowd.
OK, now about this past week. It was so nice to get back to the Pacific NW again even though we got rained on most days. Figures. It was April, right? Of course I didn't get to see everyone I wanted to but I did get to see more folks than I'd planned on. We first flew to Seattle where Veeka had her usual rapturous airport reunion with Oma and Opa (who was hobbling about with sciatica - ouch) and then the next day we headed for Portland. In the rain, of course. Arriving early afternoon, we rendezvoused with Mary Jensen, an L&C friend and we would have chatted longer in Albina Press (the name of the cafe in SE Portland) but Veeka decided it was time to shriek and carry on. So off we went to the home of another good friend, Karen Jackson, who fortuitously had her 2 young grand-daughters visiting so Miss Veeka cheered up considerably. Then off to my brother Steve's and sister-in-law Nancy's digs in Lake Oswego where we got to eat Italian and admire all the remodeling.
The next morning, we dropped by the SE Portland home of Laura Paul, another friend from college years, who loaded Veeka down with all sorts of crafty cool things, like black and purple paper to write on and enough stickers to fill a small suitcase. Veeka adored all the new art ideas she picked up there and I was left wishing I was a lot more clever with my hands than I am.
Lunch was at a downtown brewery with my cousin Geoff and wife Yuko and we spent time wandering about the nearby massive Powell's bookstore which is a true Portland institution. Then off to my friend Gail Dall's, where we picked up sleeping bags and other things we needed for a weekend retreat at Good Samaritan Ministries spring family gathering at the Christian Renewal Center about 50 miles to the SE near Silverton. Gail, unfortunately, was too sick to go, but we picked up Christine Forsyth and the four of us headed past Silverton to the center, which is near the massive Silver Falls State Park.
It was a real pleasure of a weekend, not the least remarkable in that Veeka turned 6 while we were there and so we celebrated with a lovely chocolate cake (provided by Gail). The rain never stopped, so we were all sequestered inside but it was so interesting meeting many of the families there. Most of them were getting some sort of family therapy with GSM (which does a lot of counseling state-side and in the Third World). Everyone was required to do skits on how their families deal with the weekend's theme: "Never give up." A very apt theme for these times, I think. Sunday morning, Bettie Mitchell, the foundress of GSM, showed up to say hi and afterwards Veeka and I dashed off to see some of the state park (see Veeka with the South Falls in the background) before I headed into NE Portland to give a talk on my book.
The group that hosted me was very friendly and we enjoyed the visit at Metanoia Peace Community, which is an 8,000-square-foot mansion with numerous people living there. Dinner was Iranian food and then I was the evening's entertainment. The good part: seeing some old friends from Bethlehem and community days. The bad part: I dragged 12 books along with me in a suitcase on this trip. Number of books sold? Two. Not long ago, someone told me there was a rumor among the Redeemer diaspora that I had made tons of money off "Fire and Glory." Soooo wish that were the truth!
More on the trip later...

Monday, April 11, 2011

Veeka is turning 6

The cupcakes are baked, the birthday crown is ready because Our Princessa is going to be 6 this Saturday. I was in Safeway today shopping for cupcakes for her classroom but was so disgusted to see the same old Dora-the-Explorer ones I got her last year that I bought some batter and icing and baked them myself. She now has pink cupcakes with white and green icing with white marshmallows atop these confections that spell out a V for you-know-who.
When I asked her the other day what she likes, she listed in this order: Ice cream, raisin bread, soup, marshmallows, crackers, cheese, Cheerios, oatmeal, butter, French fries, apples, juice, milk, tomatoes, red bell peppers, cucumbers and grape fruit.
So I will drop off everything later on today for her classmates to eat while I head downtown to be on NPR very briefly to tout my latest WaPo story about how classical education got started in a local Catholic school. Read all about it here. It came out this past Sunday, the 10th. The folks at St. Jerome's were happy to say the least. And so that is story #3 for the Sunday mag and I've already started work on story #4. And this will be my first appearance on NPR. Maybe not my last. (Later note: the NPR link is here. Then click on 'Old Traditions Not Outdated in Modern Education').
Monday evening, Veeka and I went to the hairdresser to get some badly-needed trims because we are flying to Seattle on Wednesday. Yes, I needed a break, so a few weeks ago decided to spend my last frequent flier miles on Delta and wing it home to Oma and Opa. However, after only a day there, we're heading down to Portland for a few days to see friends and more family and to relax at a Christian family camp over Palm Sunday weekend. Am hoping the weather is not Portland drab as it has been in the lovely 80s here. And so Veeka - seen here posing by my weeping cherry tree out back - will get another party at the retreat center on Saturday and yet another party back in Seattle when we drive back up there. Yes, one must celebrate turning 6.
In case you have wondered, yes, I have already started reading her the Pooh books although they are better read silently than outloud; most kids these days can't sit through the interior conversations the characters have so I have to skip portions of the narrative to keep Veeka interested.
While in Portland, I will have one public appearance speaking about my book. An old friend, John Schwiebert, is having me at his church/private home on a Sunday evening. Specifically:

Sunday, April 17 at:

Metanoia Peace CommunityMetanoia Peace Community

2116 Northeast 18th Avenue
Portland, OR 97212-4609
(503) 281-3697. Time: 6:45 p.m.

It's open to the public so y'all come.