Saturday, February 27, 2010

Mushroom Harvest

Three days after the last picture was taken, the first crop of mushrooms in our mushroom kit were ready for picking!  Jasper was most excited. Our white button mushrooms no longer look so familiar, maybe a bit more like portobellos.  They are quite tasty!

Here's what they looked like in the box before we picked them. Today we can see the first tiny baby mushrooms appearing for our second crop!

Resale Events

Spring is in the air, and that means it's almost time for the big twice a year resale events where I buy most of Jasper's clothes (except his hand painted shirts of course).  Who wouldn't like to save some money on summer clothes?  Here is a list I've complied of local sales.   Please doublecheck any of these you are interested in attending, because I noticed one of them has been completely rescheduled since the last time I looked, and still doesn't have a venue.
March 5-7,  Wee Cycle, Milwaukie:
March 12-14, Baby's Bottom Dollar Sale, Tigard:
April 9-11, Superkids Resale, Gresham:
April 9-10, Full House Moms Sale, NE Pdx:
April 16-18, Pass It On Sale, NE Pdx:
April 23-25, Twice Around the Block Sale, Milwaukie:
April 30-May 2, Just Between Friends Sale, Portland Expo Center:
May 20-23, Pass It On Sale, Hillsboro:

If you're interested in a resale store, rather than a resale event, there's a pretty good list of local shops here

Saturday, February 20, 2010

New Pictures

You know you're in Texas when you see this kind of traffic coming down the street.   We had a delightful but all too brief visit to catch up with family and friends.  We even squeezed in a few hours of sightseeing.
We returned to find Jasper's mushroom kit had gone from featuring pin-sized babies to things we could easily recognize as actual mushrooms.  Two days later they are getting quite hefty, but a pocket mirror reveals their gills are still closed, so they may be enormous before they're done.  Jasper became thoroughly fascinated with mushrooms in the fall, when mushrooms seem to be everywhere you look in the Pacific Northwest.  Watching them grow is quite a treat.  Our kit came from Park Seeds, which seems to be out of stock of this kind right now, but I found another company selling all kinds of tasty varieties.

School Spies With Webcam!

In case you missed it, homeschoolers everywhere are rolling their eyes about this news item.  A class action lawsuit has been filed against Lower Merion School District (just outside of Philadelphia) because they used a webcam to spy on a student in his home.   This really creeped me out because we used to live literally a stone's throw from this school district.  Since it was by far considered to be the best in the area, when my son was born the thought crossed my mind that we should seriously think about moving there.  The family says their 15 year old son was accused by a school official of selling drugs in his home, and they had pictures of him holding up "pills" to prove it.  They were Mike & Ike's candy.  The school district said the webcams were activated remotely to take still pictures when the laptops they provide to every student were reported lost or stolen.  The family says they never reported his laptop lost or stolen.  There's a news article about it  here and a video interview with the family here.  The FBI is now investigating.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

How Did They Do It?

I found this interesting event going on this Saturday February 20 in Lake Oswego:
"How Did They Do It?
Graham’s Book & Stationery, Saturday, February 20, 10:00 A.M. – 4:00 P.M., at 460 2nd St. 503.636.5676
Whether in Montana’ Marias Coulee or Oregon’s Oswego, the settlers of the early 1900s had to be hardworking as well as innovative. They developed skills, tools and science to help them survive and succeed. Come to Graham’s to explore four of the disciplines that have survived and thrived to the 2000s: blacksmithing, dowsing, fiddle playing and reading the night sky. Graham’s Book & Stationery, Saturday, February 20, 10:00 A.M. – 4:00 P.M.

How Did They Do It?
Dowsing Techniques Then & Now 10-4
Horse & Buggy Rides 11-3
(Hear a docent for the Oregon Historical Society, Frank Graham, describe the olden days of Lake Oswego as the carriage trots around the downtown area.)
Blacksmithing Demonstrations 11-4
Old Time Music Demos 12-1:30
(banjo, musical saw, spoons, limberjack, jaw harp, washtub bass & more)
Old Time Music Show 2-3"

And the fun doesn't end then.  In the evening they are having
"An Old Fashioned Hoedown
West End Building, 4101 Kruse Way 503.697.6500, Saturday, February 20, 5-8 P.M.
In the spirit of Lake Oswego’s Centennial Celebration we turn back the clock and enjoy a good old fashioned “barn dance.” Well, it’s not exactly in a barn, but we can promise a delightfully refreshing change of pace for folks who want to celebrate the past and who can still kick up their heels. Professional callers will be on hand to teach the basics and a few fancy turns too. Enjoy the excitement of dancing Virginia Reels, waltzes and even jigs! Bring the whole family for a walk back in time. West End Building, Saturday, February 20, 5-8 P.M."

And I noticed they are having a really wacky event Thursday Feb. 25 at 7PM- Open mic whistling???

"Open Mic at the Library with Featured Guest Performer - Handwhistler
Thursday, February 25, 7:00 P.M.
Handwhistler Sally Cohn will be featured at this month’s Open Mic event and will be accompanied by guitarist Barbara Thurber.  Handwhistling includes several styles: one-finger, two fingers, clasped hands, and cupped hands.  Both the clasped-hand and cupped-hand methods use thumb knuckles together as a mouthpiece.  Ms. Cohn has been handwhistling for nearly 60 years using the cupped-hand method.  Other local whistlers are invited to join her for an evening of whistling in honor of The Whistling Season.  Whether or not you whistles, if you would like to share your talent you are welcome to participate. Sign up begins at 6:30 P.M.  Performances are limited to five minutes.  Everyone is invited to attend.  Library, Thursday, February 25, 7:00 P.M." 

Friday, February 12, 2010

My Name Is Khan

One of the most anticipated films of 2010, My Name Is Khan, has just been released and is playing at Century Clakamas Town Center.  Bollywood megastar Shah Rukh Khan is paired with his legendary heroine Kajol to tell the story of a Muslim man in America with Asperger's Syndrome and what befalls him after September 11.  There is lots of backstory to this film. Shah Rukh Khan is arguably the world's most popular movie star, but here in America he's virtually unknown.  Last summer he came to the US to participate in India Day festivities in Chicago and to promote this film.  He was detained and questioned at Newark International Airport because they thought this obviously Muslim man was suspicious.  An international scandal ensued.  The irony excaped no one that the film is about post 9/11 ethnic profiling and discrimination. Now that the film has been released, another scandal!  If you've seen the excellent film Sarkar, about a benevolent gangster, the reality is much different.  That film was rumored to be based on the life of Bal Thackeray, the supreme leader of Shiv Sena, an extremist Hindu party that in many ways runs Mumbai and blurs the line between the mafia and politics.  (The mafia in India has close ties with Bollywood because legal channels for financing movies have been very difficult to negotiate, and the mafia has been a reliable source of funding.  There are many many Bollywood films which glamorize and flatter the mafia.) Mr. Thackeray decided to pick a fight with Shah Rukh Khan and asked his loyal party members to protest the film.  Violence is anticipated.  Shah Rukh Khan owns a cricket team and apparently remarked recently to a reporter that he was disappointed that no Pakistani players were chosen for the Indian Premier League, despite being some of the world's best players.  Many in the cricket world made the same remark, but Shah Rukh Khan was singled out by Thackeray, who is apparently trying to rile up his supporters and flex his political muscle.
But what about the film?  It opens today and I haven't seen it yet, but the critics  and the public are unanimous- it's a winner!  Here's a review  If you have any interest in Bollywood films or excellent films in general, check it out!

**Update-the film rocks!  It does have Karah Johar's bold stamp on it, but it maintains a very serious tone and does not have any dance numbers.  A triple hanky movie that makes a big impact and will leave you thinking...**

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Chinese New Year at Beaverton Library 2/18

"Students from the Northwest Chinese Academy are performing songs and dances to celebrate the new year. In the library auditorium. 4:30 p.m. Thu, Feb. 18. Beaverton City Library, 12375 S.W. Fifth St., Beaverton; free".  I saw this item which is not on the Library's website or the school's website, and called the library to confirm.  Yet another chance to get in on the New Year's fun!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Great Electrifying Event at the Bonneville Dam

This event takes place Feb. 20, 2010, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Washington Shore Visitor Center.   Last year my family went  and it was amazing!  We were able to tour inside one of the powerhouses, hear the hum of the turbines and see them up close.  It's something we'll never forget!  Here's their description: "This free educational event is designed to teach the basics of electricity and how it is generated at Bonneville Lock and Dam. It is geared toward elementary and middle school students but informative and funfor the entire family. Visitors will learn how different forms of energy work through hands-on activities and films, and can take a tour inside Bonneville’s Powerhouse 2, which includes walking on top of two generators and partially inside one. This event is one of many held nationwide to celebrate National Engineering Week.
To get to the Washington Shore Visitor Center, travel on Washington State Route 14 to milepost 39, then turn onto Dam Access Road about one mile west of the dam or three miles west of the Bridge of the Gods. Follow the signs to the visitor center.
Other visitor facilities are available on the Oregon side of the river off Interstate 84 at exit 40. Visitors can stop by the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Fish Hatchery and catch a glimpse of Herman, the 10-foot long sturgeon. The Bonneville Navigation Lock Visitor Center is open from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., and the Bradford Island Visitor Center is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m."

Monday, February 8, 2010

Learning Hindi Numbers

Today Jasper and I got together with some dear friends to learn some more Hindi.  This time we were working on numbers.  We invented a game, using these dice from the dollar store.  Everyone takes a turn taking one, rolling it, and counting the spots out loud in Hindi.  If they count correctly they get to keep the dice.  When all the dice are gone, whoever has the most, wins the game. Rolling more than one at a time means you will have to count higher,  but it also means a chance to win more dice at once.  Jasper loved this game and wanted to play it again at home. He managed to learn his numers 0-8 in one day.  He liked playing it with dominoes also.  And it's great for simple addition too.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Professor Banjo

We caught Professor Banjo's show at Mississippi Pizza this evening.  He plays the banjo "claw hammer" style really really well.  He explains that old-timey songs are usually about homicide, inebriation, and chickens, which explains why so many of his songs in his kid-oriented shows are about chickens!  (He told us he has a few chickens himself, like a good Portlander should, and I'm sure to know them is to love them.)   His show was a lot of fun, and he had a big crowd dancing most enthusiastically.  As you might expect, he has CDs of his wonderful music on sale at his shows, but as you might not expect, he told the crowd to pay what they like for them, and $2 would cover his costs but $5 would be welcome.  He plays around town frequently and his website says he plays at  farmer's markets in the summer.  And he works at the Village Free School! Now don't you need some banjo music in your life? 

Friday, February 5, 2010

Tryon Creek State Park

We are so very lucky to have a state park within the city limits of Portland!  And such a spectacular one.  Today Jasper and I and some lovely fellow homeshooling friends headed over to Tryon Creek for their Friday Story and Stroll.  Sadly they have recently lowered the number of children who can preregister for this free weekly event.  Today's topic was beavers.  The park ranger read a beaver story to the kids.  She explained that she had wanted to actually take the kids to see evidence of beavers in the park, but the walk was too distant.  And then she had a craft for them to do, making paper bags into beaver puppets, which unfortunately did not intrigue our kids.  So I asked her to show me on a park map where we might find the beavers (near the Red Fox Bridge) and we headed out for a delightful, sunny, warm, and very very muddy walk in search of them.  We did in fact find a beaver lodge,  and were overjoyed to be out in the woods on a lovely day.  If you want to explore the woods without leaving the city, check it out!   And don't forget to be prepared for some mud! 

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Bald Eagle on President's Day

The Oregon Zoo is bringing a bald eagle to the Cornelius Public Library on President's Day, Feb. 15, at 3PM.  (I called them to confirm this because most public libraries will be closed that day, and the City Hall complex where this library is housed will mostly be closed too.)   They are located at 1355 N. Barlow St.  A wonderful way to celebrate President's Day!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Macaw Landing Wildlife Refuge

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My homeschool group took a tour yesterday of the Macaw Landing Wildlife Refuge.  This amazing place is located in Northeast Portland near Marine Drive.  It's pretty inconspicuous, so if you go, don't expect large signs to greet you.  It is a home to more than a hundred macaws, native to the Amazon, that were given up by their owners who couldn't handle the commitment they require.  It's a bird paradise! They give tours seven days a week, three times a day in summer and twice a day the rest of the year, because these very social birds really love company.  And wow, did everyone love the birds!

Jack Devine, the mastermind behind this place, is exactly the kind of person who makes a great teacher.  He's smart, kindhearted, very passionate about something and very excited to share it, especially with children.  He's also deeply concerned about  the Amazon and the horrendous effects that the ongoing rainforest destruction is having on not just the remaining macaw species, but all life on earth.  (He pointed out that 20% of the entire world's oxygen supply comes from the Amazon, so clearing it is not exactly the brightest idea).  He's obviously a believer in the theory that one of the best ways to connect people with the environment is to help them directly interact with animals.  Not only did he let us visit with these remarkable birds, he took us on a little walk in the wildlife refuge where we could see a large tree recently felled by beavers and pet a very sweet donkey.  He pointed out a popular turtle nesting site, and many more animals can be seen in warmer months.  He also gave each of the children a gorgeous macaw feather.  We really enjoyed our visit.  It was a magical day.

Gustafer Yellowgold Show

Sunday the whole family went to see Gustafer Yellowgold at the Curious Comedy Theatre. Curious Comedy turned out to be a very nice, intimate venue, on MLK about two blocks south of Killingsworth. They host an interesting kid's event every month called The Curious Garden. Here's their description: "Visit the Curious Garden on the second Sunday of every month when fairies, lawn jockeys, bunnies and grumpy daisies play games and sing songs with the kids. It’s a ridiculously fun time for all. Doors open at 10AM." Cost is $3-5 suggested donation.

Anyway, Gustafer Yellowgold is a little yellow dude invented by a guy named Morgan Taylor. The show consisted of Mr. Taylor telling stories about Gustafer, who grew up on the sun, came to the Minnesota woods in a sun pod, and has all kinds of crazy adventures. Then he sang incredible songs about Gustafer while his hand-drawn animations were projected on a screen behind him. It was funny, witty, intensely creative, and very enjoyable! How enjoyable was it? Let's just say my husband cannot be said to be a children's music fan whatsoever, and while I am, I'm very finicky. We both really loved it. Jasper never seems to like live music (loud noises tend to be regarded by Jasper as worthwhile only if self created) and he loved it too.
Mr. Taylor lives in the Catskills  (I love the word "Catskills", don't you? I totally picture cats doing all kinds of amazing tricks whenever I say it) and has been to Portland twice now on his national tours. And yes, he's a dad.  Don't you think children's musicians seem a lot more inspired and tuned into children's unique humor when they are parents themselves? I've signed up on his mailing list to hear about it the next time he's back in town. And those of you who have a library card for Washington County Oregon, or can easily get one (they say on their website they will give you one if you have a Multnomah County card) should note that all three of his releases are in their collection. They consist of a video of his animation with the music, and a separate cd of just his music.