Sunday, October 30, 2011

November Adventures

This is my monthly list of free and low cost events in the greater Portland area for the month of November 2011.  I look for events that have some educational or cultural value.  I compile this list for the homeschool group we belong to, which includes kids 9 and under.  So I include events that don't exclude this age group, but many have much broader appeal.  Some are geared towards adults; you will know if your child would likely be interested and behave appropriately.  (A plus- the audience isn't talked down to.)  This month's guest proofreader is Marcel the Shell!  Thank you, Marcel!  So, please doublecheck any event you'd like to go to, in case of typos, mistakes, cancellations, etc....

Portland Actor’s Ensemble presents, “The Life and Death of King Richard III by William Shakespeare”, Sunday, October 30, 3PM; Monday, October 31, 7PM; Friday, November 4, 7PM, Saturday, November 5, 7PM; and Sunday, November 6, 3PM. Concordia university Fine Arts Building, Ne 27th Ave. and NE Highland St., Pdx. “Come see Shakespeare's evil hunchbacked king and a host of Portland's finest actors as they try to stop him. The cost of the shows is "Pay What You Will", just like our normal park shows. Nobody will be turned away for lack of funds. If you can afford it, a minimum suggested donation of $5 will help us pay the bills and keep next year's shows coming.”

Sally Harmon and Frank Gruner”, Tuesday, November 1, 7PM, Lake Oswego Library. “Pianist and recording artist Sally Harmon and bass player Frank Gruner will be performing for our First Tuesday Music Series on November 1, from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. Harmon performs a wide range of styles, from pop classics to original compositions, creating a delightful evening of entertainment.” 

Dia De Los Muertos”, Tuesday, November 1, Canby Library. 3:30pm - 5:30pm Making Coronas workshop: In this bilingual workshop, youth of all ages (Kindergarten - 12th grade) will learn how to make coronas and explore their importance in Mexican and Mexican-American culture. 7:00pm - 8:30pm Dia De Los Muertos: A Celebration of Life In this bilingual program, renowned traditional artist Eva Castellanoz will discuss the significance of Dia de los Muertos in Mexican culture and describe her own practices for celebrating this annual event. These events are free of charge and open to the public. 

Dia De Los Muertos”, Tuesday, November 1, 7PM, Tualatin Library. Preregistration required; register online  “Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is celebrated in Mexico on Nov. 1 and 2. It is a complex tradition that varies from region to region with roots in ancient Aztec religion. It is a festive occasion set aside to honor, remember and celebrate the lives of departed loved ones. Join us as we decorate sugar skulls (calaveras de azucar) and make papel picado banners and marigolds out of tissue paper. We’ll eat Pan de los Muertos and drink horchata, while we remember our loved ones.” 

Symphony Storytime”, Wednesdays in November, 10:30AM, Central Library (free tickets will be given out at 10AM). “Each storytime features one of the four families of musical instruments: strings, woodwinds, brass, and percussion. Children and their parents experience a live musical collaboration between the library reader and an Oregon Symphony musician 4 times in a month at each location. Musicians play short selections, talk a little about their instrument and, after the stories are read aloud, audience members can try out each instrument!"

The Alphabeticians”, Saturday, November 5, 4PM, at E.A.T., 850 NE 81st Ave., Pdx; Sunday November 6 and 20 at 10AM at Flying Cat Cofffee, 3041 SE Division, Pdx ($5 donation per family). Mr. Hoo will also be playing every Tuesday at 10AM at Soundroots, 3954 N. Williams Ave., Pdx (an interactive show with instruments for the kids, $5 admission per child); every Wednesday at 10:30 at The Warehouse, 3434 SE Milwaukie Ave., Pdx, $5 suggested donation; Thursday November 3, 10, and 17 at 10AM at Flying Cat Coffee ($5 donation per family), and Friday November 4, 11, and 18 at 11AM at Milagros Boutique, 5433 NE 30th Ave., Pdx. “The Alphabeticians, Mister Hoo and Mister E, have been best friends since their salad days in the mid 80s. They formed The Alphabeticians after they both became fathers, heard some of the music that was promoted as “Kid's” music and thought, “We can do better than that.” They combine humor, clever (mostly original) songs, interactive elements and an all around great stage show to entertain people of all ages. Adults have as much fun as kids at a typical show, where you're likely to hear songs about numbers, size, dads, metaphors, bags, monsters, extinct fish and multiple alphabet songs.”

Homeschooler’s Globe-trotting Adventures”, Thursday, November 3, and Thursday, November 17, 1:30PM, Ledding Library of Milwaukie. “Homeschoolers ages 5 and up are invited to join us twice a month for arts, crafts and games from around the world.” 

Raven Steals the Sun”, Thursday, November 3, 3:30PM, Belmont Library (free tickets will be given out at 3PM); Saturday, November 5, 10:30AM, Central Library (free tickets will be given out at 10AM); Thursday, November 10, 3PM, Hollywood Library; Tuesday, November 15, 7PM, Tigard Library; Tuesday, November 22, 3:30PM, Midland Library; and Wednesday, November 30, 4PM, Hillsdale Library (free tickets will be given out at 3:30PM). “The world was once dark and cold because the sun, moon and stars were locked in a box. Based on a Native American tale, this play tells how Raven the trickster brought light and warmth to the world. This performance is created and performed by Emily Alexander of Tears of Joy Theatre. After the show, she will lead an audience participant play titled Coyote Gets Fire.”

Hank Lentfer, ‘The Faith of Cranes’” , Thursday, November 3, 7PM, Portland Audubon Society Heron Hall, 5151 NW Cornell Rd., Pdx. “Alaskan author and naturalist Hank Lentfer comes to Heron Hall on Thursday, November 3rd at 7:00 PM to give a presentation on his new work, The Faith of Cranes: Finding Hope and Family in Alaska. A meditation on hope and despair; the author tries to answer the question “How can you bring children into a world filled with uncertainty and ecological peril?” framed by his growing fascination with Sandhill cranes. Author David James Duncan writes ‘Faith of Cranes is a love song to the beauty and worth of the lives we are able to lead in the world just as it is, troubled though it be…. The writing is honest, intensely lived, and overflowing with heart: broken, mended and whole.’”

Family Clay Nights”, Fridays in November, continuing through December 9, from 6PM-8:30PM, Multnomah Arts Center, 7688 SW Capitol Hwy., Pdx. No preregistration required. “Come as a family and play with clay! $10/hr per adult and child pair. $4/hr for each additional child. Includes glazes, firings, and 5 lbs of clay. Not for solo participants. This is an adult and child activity. Use of the potter’s wheel by instructor approval only. Pay at Multnomah Arts Center office.”

Glacian Lake Missoula Flood: Effects in our Backyard”, Friday, November 4, 7PM, Tigard Public Library. “Rick Thompson from the Ice Age Floods Institute will discuss the Ice Age Missoula floods that swept through our region thousands of years ago and helped shape much of the geology responsible for the beauty of the Pacific Northwest.” 

Classical Guitar Concert with Andreas Ehrlich”, Friday, November 4, 7PM, White Salmon Library, 77 NE Wauna Ave., White Salmon, WA. “Experience the rich, full sound of the 8-string classical guitar with the Gorge’s own “Guitar Wizard” playing music from the Renaissance, Baroque and Classical periods, as well as some favorite South American selections. Refreshments provided.”

Multnomah Arts Center Fall Open House”, Friday, November 4, 5PM- 8:30PM, Multnomah Arts Center, 7688 SW Capitol Hwy., Pdx. Free. “5:00 – 7:00 p.m. – Gallery reception, Instructors’ Show, 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. – Art demos and hands-on art activities, 7:15 – 8:30 p.m. – Faculty Music and Dance Recital- World Premiere Choreography and Music.” 

Wade Davis presents, “Into the Silence”, Friday, November 4, 7:30PM, Powell’s Books, 1005 W. Burnside, Pdx. “On June 6, 1924, two men set out from a camp high up on the slopes of Mt. Everest. Col. George Mallory was Britain's finest climber. Sandy Irvine was a young Oxford scholar with little mountaineering experience. Neither of them returned. With ‘Into the Silence’, anthropologist and National Geographic explorer-in-residence Wade Davis delivers a classic account of exploration and endurance, and a timeless portrait of an extraordinary generation of adventurers, soldiers, and mountaineers.”

Come Fall for Rats”, Saturday, November 5, 11AM-5PM, Washington County Fairgrounds, Cloverleaf Building, 873 NE 34th Ave., Hillsboro, OR. Adults $5, children over 3, $3, children 3 and under, free. Annual event of the RatsPacNW Rat Fanciers Club.

Michael Rosen presents, “My Dog! A Kid’s Guide to Keeping a Happy and Healthy Pet”, Saturday, November 5, 2PM, Powell’s Books, 3415 SW Cedar Hills Blvd., Beaverton. “’ My Dog!” is the complete book for every child who has a dog. This kid-friendly guide covers everything from the basics of training, handling, feeding, and grooming to health, history, lore, and fun facts.” 

A-WOL Dance Collective presents, “Project Warehouse 5”, Saturday, November 5, and Sunday, November 6, 4:30PM and 7:30PM, 2303 N. Randolph St., Pdx. Tickets $5 in advance. Live music by Deepest Darkest, Art, Aerial Dance by A-WOL and guest artists. Concessions, art and music. A-WOL do amazing aerial dances. 

Birding at Fernhill Wetlands and Hagg Lake”, Saturday, November 5, 8AM-2PM. Join Audubon Society leader Stefan Schlick for a day at Fernhill Wetlands and Hagg Lake in Washington County. We will look for waterfowl, gulls and late migrants of any kind. Meet at 8am at the Fernhill Wetlands parking lot.” 

Guided Nature Walks”, Saturdays, 10AM-11:30AM, Tryon Creek State Park. “Join a park ranger for a free, guided nature hike to explore the forest and stream ecosystems and natural history at Tryon Creek State Natural Area. Topics will vary from week to week but will be appropriate for all ages. Parents must accompany kids on all hikes.” November 5: Ethnobotany; November 12: Stories About Stumps; November 19: Conifers of the Creek; November 26: Forest Fungi.

African Drumming and Dancing Workshop”, Saturday, November 5, 3PM, Midland Library; and November 26, 3:30PM, Woodstock Library. “Chata Addy is a professional drummer, composer, dancer and choreographer from Ghana, West Africa. In this interactive workshop, Chata helps students feel the rhythms and sing the drum beat as they explore Ghanaian music, dance and lifestyle. His enthusiasm and extensive background in drumming will have everyone moving to the rhythm.” Highly recommended! 

Guided Walk at Leach Botanical Garden”, Saturday, November 5, 11AM-12PM, meeting in front of the manor house at 6704 SE 122nd Ave, Pdx. “Check out what's blooming and explore different sections of the Garden with your volunteer guide. These seasonal walks are free and appropriate for all ages.”

Louisa May Alcott: The Women Behind Little Women Series Kickoff”, Saturday, November 5, 3PM -5PM, Central Library. “Sponsored by the American Library Association Public Programs Office and National Endowment for the Humanities with support from The Library Foundation. Program provided by Century of Action: Oregon Women Vote 1912-2012. 3PM: Why the West Came First: Oregon Woman Suffrage. Kimberly Jensen and the Oregon Suffrage Players explore the history of woman suffrage in Oregon through an illustrated lecture and mock town hall meeting. Turn of the century attire encouraged. Refreshments will be served. 4:30PM: What’s Suffrage Got to Do with It? The Oregon Suffrage Players will perform a town hall debate drawing from actual pro- and anti-suffrage arguments made in Oregon during the 1912 campaign. Featuring David Sarasohn and Tim DuRoche.” 

Around the World in Search of Stories”, Saturday, November 5, 10:30AM, Sellwood-Moreland Library. “Put on your helmets and climb aboard your imagination-cycles as you head off on a trek around the world in search of stories. Pedal across the Pacific on the way to Asia, travel through the Middle East en route to Africa, then across the Atlantic to South America. Along the way, professional storyteller Alton Chung will share stories and legends of sharks and volcanoes, folktales of mischievous rabbits and clever children, and tales of folly and wisdom. After a fun-filled journey, you will come pedaling home with lots of adventures to share with your friends and family.”

Musical Storytelling with Brother Askari”, Saturday, November 5, 3PM, Northwest Library; and Sunday, November 20, 2PM, Troutdale Library. “A native of New Awlins, Brother Askari’s performances are a spicy mix of hand drumming, songs, harmonica and storytelling, with a delicious helping of audience participation! Each performance is packed with cultural folktales and songs that are designed to educate, inspire and entertain families and adults ages 8 to 80! Brother Askari is a griot, a historian of West African culture, music, tradition and customs.”

Adventures with Bugs”, Saturday, November 5, 2PM, Albina Library, Saturday, November 12, 2PM, Gregory Heights Library; Thursday, November 17, 3:30PM, Belmont Library; and Saturday, November 26, 3PM, Kenton Library. “You will not be afraid of bugs after learning about all the amazing things they can do! Join the Bug Chicks, two female entomologists (bug scientists), in exploring the world of insects, spiders and their relatives. You can even hold, pet and look at all sorts of crazy creatures including tarantulas, cockroaches, scorpions and more!” Highly recommended!!! 

Newt Day”, Saturday, November 5, 12PM-4PM, Tualatin Hills Nature Park, 15655 SWE Millikan Way, Beaverton. Admission $2 per person or two cans of food for the Oregon Food Bank. Max accessible- the Merlo Rd. stop on the blue line is behind the park. “Do you love wet, fall weather? Do you want to get your family out exploring the out-of-doors in the "off" season? Have you always wanted to know about local wildlife of all sizes? Join the newts on the trails and around the Interpretive Center as we delve into the wonders of autumn and all the exciting natural discoveries that it brings to park visitors. This is a family event that provides activities designed to inspire exploration of nature during a season when it's tempting to stay inside. Come dressed for the weather so that you will be comfortable participating in the outdoor activities.” Highly recommended! 

Northstar Native American Dance Company”, Saturday, November 5, 11AM, North Portland Library. “By combining traditional Native American dance and music with contemporary elements of jazz, tap and hip-hop, Painted Sky’s Northstar Dance Company performs a colorful, high energy show that celebrates rich Native American traditions. Painted Sky is an organization that strives to honor Native American culture through the universal language of music.”

"Fort Stevens Wild Mushroom Program”, Saturday, November 5, Saturday, November 12, and Saturday, November 26, 1PM, Fort Stevens State Park. “Learn about the variety of fungi that thrive in Oregon. Learn the regulations, uses and ID of wild mushrooms and the role they play in forest health. Meet at Coffenbury Lake Picnic Shelter.”

**Daylight Savings Time ends at 2AM Sunday, November 6, set clocks back 1 hour.** 

Salmon Festival at Multnomah Falls”, Sunday, November 6, 10AM-4PM, Multnomah Falls, 5000 East Historic Columbia River Highway, Bridal Veil, OR. Free. “Students and staff members from the geography, biology and fisheries departments at Mt. Hood Community College in Gresham will serve as guides. Native American storyteller Ed Edmo will share some entertaining fish tales. The college and the U.S. Forest Service host the festival. A number of organizations will be on hand to distribute information about fish and environmental issues.” Salmon should be visible in Multnomah Creek. 

John Flanagan presents, “The Outcasts: Brotherband Chronicles Book #1”. Sunday, November 6, 2PM, Powell’s Books, 3415 SW Cedar Hills Blvd., Beaverton. “John Flanagan, author of the Ranger's Apprentice series, creates a new cast of characters to populate his world of Skandians and Araluens, a world millions of young readers around the world have come to know and love. Full of seafaring adventures and epic battles, this first book in a new series is sure to thrill Flanagan fans.” 

“Family Fun with Worm Bins”, Sunday, November 6, 2PM- 4PM, Tryon Creek State Park, $20 (includes material and worm bin). Preregistration required; register online: “Join the Friends for an afternoon of creepy-crawly fun at the park. Discover worms in their natural habitat and see first-hand how truly invaluable these invertebrates are to the park’s ecosystem. We’ll then venture inside as we get to work making our own worm bins for our entire household composting needs. This is a family friendly program that will focus on engaging children throughout the whole process while concurrently providing parents with all the worm-bin information they’ll ever need!” Highly recommended! 

“Open Up And Say 'Ha'”, Sunday, November 6, 2PM, Hollywood Library, free tickets will be given out at 1:30PM. “Combining improvisation, storytelling and music, storyteller Rick Huddle puts on a show that goes beyond mere entertainment. Parents and children will laugh, sing and perform their way to a deeper understanding of each other.”

“The Tell-Tale Heart and Other Thrillers”, Sunday, November 6, 2PM, Holgate Library. Scary stories that may be best for older kids. “Master storyteller, Christopher Leebrick, presents a riveting performance of Edgar Allan Poe's masterpiece. Winner of a 2009 Storytelling World Award. The show also features other spooky tales from around the globe.”

“Willamette Falls Symphony”, Sunday, November 6, 3PM, Oregon City United Methodist Church, 18955 S. South End Rd., Oregon City, OR. $10 Adult, $8 students and seniors, children under 12 are free with an adult. Tickets at the door. Performing Sibelius, Symphony No. 2; Smetana, The Moldau; and Mozard, Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra, with Eric Tishkoff, Soloist.

Planetarium Show”, Monday, November 7, 7PM and 8:15PM, Mount Hood Community College, 26000 SE Stark St., Gresham, OR. $2. “All shows are presented under a realistic representation of the night sky,
 featuring the latest galactic, stellar and planetary images.”

Peter Fletcher”, Monday, November 7, 7PM, Tualatin Library; and Friday, November 11, 12PM, Central Library Collins Gallery. “New York-based classical guitarist and award-winning musician Peter Fletcher will be performing a diverse program of music from four centuries.” Here’s the description for the Tualatin performance: “Concert repertoire will include the Chaconne in D minor by J. S. Bach; Francisco Tarrega’s ever popular Recuerdos de la Alhambra; two exciting crowd pleasers by Spanish composer Joaquin Turina; Grieg’s Chanson de Solveig from Peer Gynt; and music of Praetorius, Ponce and Reusner. This program will culminate with Niccolo Paganini’s flashy Caprice No. 24.”

The Pacific Crest Trailside Reader”, Monday, November 7, 7:30PM, Powell’s Books, 3723 SE Hawthorne, Pdx. “’The Pacific Crest Trailside Reader’ together stories from contemporary writers, from historical journals, and from classic environmental authors, capturing the diversity of people and experiences found along the 2,650 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail. Join us for an evening of readings celebrating the PCT with contributors Mark Larabee, Carolyn "Sweet Goat Mama," Lynn Wunische, and book editor Rees Hughes.”

OMSI Science Pub: Adventures of a Climate Scientist in the Age of Politics and Punditry”, Monday, November 7, doors open at 5PM, event at 7PM, Bagdad Theater, 3702 SE Hawthorne Blvd., Pdx. Suggested donation of $5, minors welcome with parent or guardian. “Despite reports to the contrary, overwhelming evidence shows that our weird weather averages out to a warming climate, and pundits and politicians cannot change the fundamental physics that the human-caused rise of CO2 and other greenhouse gases has a warming effect. But arguing about physics turns attention away from constructive responses to a changing climate. What is it like to study climate and see the signs of global change, yet fight an uphill battle to have people believe the science? How do you convince US Senators for whom you are acting as tour guide on a glacier in Greenland that the melting they're seeing has accelerated? At this Science Pub, well-known geoscientist Richard Alley will talk about the science of climate change and his work with entities such as the US government and the UN/IPCC, and just how one navigates this hotbed of scientific research in a politically charged environment.” 

Mark Fearing: ‘The Three Little Aliens and The Big Bad Robot”, Tuesday, November 8, 6:30PM, West Linn Library. “Mark will present his latest book, followed by some alien drawing and coloring of our own!”

“Antarctica Presentation”, Wednesday, November 9, 7:30PM, North Plains Public Library. “Diane and Dick VanGrunsven will be sharing a DVD put out by National Geographic and Lindblad Expeditions of their trip last January and also sharing the best of the amazing photos taken. Learn what scientists are discovering about climate change and animal migration. They will be joined by Donald Huffman, a retired snow hydrologist, who will share his slides and experiences at the Scott Base, Antarctica. Don installed and maintained automated climatic and weather stations and gathered soil moisture and temperature data that is being used to determine methods to mitigate the effects of fuel spills that occur in extreme cold environments. Refreshments will be served.” 

“Women and the Gold Rush: A Reading with Author Mary Volmer”, Wednesday, November 9, 6PM, Kenton Library. “Meet author Mary Volmer as she shares her acclaimed novel, Crown of Dust. An adventure tale set in California during the gold rush of the 1800s, Volmer’s book tells the story of Alex Ford, a young woman disguised as a boy and on the run from her past. Crown of Dust describes not only the dramatic effects of the California gold rush era, but touches on issues of emancipation and slavery, interracial relationships, gender and identity, and feminism.”

Craftastic”, Wednesday, November 9, 4PM, Tualatin Library. Preregistration required; register online “Come create light-as-air flowers from clay! Use them to decorate your hair, make a rose haku (headband), a bouquet, or to decorate your bedside table. The class will include tips on using dry modeling clay to get petals as thin as paper and then piece them together to create a rose.” 

“‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid’ and You!”, Wednesday, November 9, 4PM, Rockwood Library; and Friday, November 11, 4PM, Fairview-Columbia Library. “Jeff Kinney’s popular cartoon novel “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” follows Greg Heffley as he records the traumas of life as a middle schooler. Join artist and educator Fred Green in discussing Greg’s intense and hilarious life experiences. Is your life like his? Do you have advice for him? What would you say if you met Greg? After the story, participants will do an arts and crafts project to try and help Greg sort out his problems.” 

“Holocaust Remembrance: The 73rd Anniversary of Kristallnacht”, Wednesday, November 9, 7PM, Tigard Library, Community Room. Obviously this is a program for adults; you will want to use your discretion in bringing children. “The Tigard Library will host Les and Eva Aigner, who will share their stories of surviving Auschwitz, Dachau and the Budapest Ghetto. Kristallnacht, the first mass Nazi assault on German and Austrian Jewish citizens, victimized thousands. Many were sent to concentration camps. Many historians believe Kristallnacht was the first major event signaling the impending Holocaust.” 

Cellists Gideon Freudmann and Skip vonKuske”, Wednesday, November 9, 2PM, Lake Oswego Public Library. “Composer and electric cellist Gideon Freudmann enjoys an international reputation for his innovative compositions and unique style of playing. His art is inspired by the best of classical, modern, jazz, and blues traditions, and his music is both immediately accessible and richly detailed in its nuance and complexity. The Boston Globe said of him, “Taking a modern artist's approach to the four-stringed instrument, Gideon Freudmann has brought the cello to a new realm.” While perhaps best known as a master collaborator for his work with groups such as Vagabond Opera and the Portland Cello Project, Skip vonKuske is also many other things: a composer, an innovator, an improviser, and producer. The Oregonian has described him as “a one-man chamber ensemble”. His open-mindedness, musical sensibility, technical ability, piercing emotion and improvisational skills have made him one of the most sought after cellists in the Northwest.”

“Whooo goes there? The owls of Oregon”. Thursday, November 10, 7PM-9:30PM, Metro Regional Center, 600 NE Grand Ave., Pdx. $11 per adult or family, under 18 free. Preregistration required; call 503-797-1650, option 2 or register online . “Owls have always fascinated people because of their unique appearance and nocturnal lifestyle. But owls are hard to see in the wild and remain a mysterious and confusing group of birds. Learn about owls’ amazing adaptations and how to tell Oregon’s owls apart with Metro naturalist James Davis. See stuffed specimens of real owls, owl pellets and slides of Oregon’s owls – this is not a live bird presentation.” 

“Local Poets: Penelope Scambly Schott and Jennifer Richter” Thursday, November 10, 7PM, Anne Bloom’s Books, 7834 SW Capitol Hwy, Pdx. “For our latest installment of Annie Bloom's Presents, we're delighted to have two wonderful local poets, Penelope Scambly Schott and Jennifer Richter. Penelope's newest collections are Six Lips and Crow Mercies. She is also the author of Pest Maiden, Baiting the Void, and A Is for Anne. Oregon poet Jennifer Richter has been leading poetry workshops for the past 18 years. Her collection, Threshold, is a national bestseller.” 

“Art-Works!”, Thursday, November 10, 3:30PM, Tualatin Library. Preregistration required; register online. “Let’s make a sculpture with Playfoam. Playfoam is a dry sculpting medium. Participants will get to take their creations home. Googly eyes, feathers, pom-poms, chenille sticks, and craft sticks will be provided to help you make a one-of-a-kind work of art.” 

Jenny Slate and Dean Fleischer-Camp present, “Marcel the Shell with Shoes On”, Thursday, November 10, 7:30PM, Powell’s Books, 1005 W. Burnside, Pdx. “Millions of YouTube viewers have fallen in love with a tiny shell with a big heart and shoes on named Marcel. Now Marcel the Shell is transitioning from online sensation to picture book character. Finally, readers can learn more about this adorable creature and his wonderfully peculiar world. 'Marcel the Shell with Shoes On', by Jenny Slate from SNL and HBO's Bored to Death and animator Dean Fleischer-Camp, showcases the loveable shell that finds magic in the everyday.” 

Friday, November 11 is Veteran’s Day! You can find a great list of special events all over Oregon to honor veterans here:

White Rhino Marimba”, Friday, November 11, doors open at 6:45PM, concert starts at 7:15PM, Community Music Center, 3350 SE Francis St., Pdx. Requested donation of $5 person or $15 family. “White Rhino Marimba presents a variety of arrangements on their marimbas – xylophone-like instruments with wood keys attached to brass resonators. Kids love this high-energy, accessible music that will get them on their feet and dancing. Come and dance to the music of Zimbabwe!”

Fort Stevens Guided Wild Mushroom Hike”, Friday, November 11, and Friday, November 25, 1PM, Fort Stevens State Park. “Learn about the varieties of wild mushroom that grow in the area. Bring a basket, pocket knife, and mushroom identification book if you have one. Meet at Battery Russell.” 

“Arrr!”, Friday, November 11, 1PM, St. Johns Library. “Come along on an adventure with storyteller Rick Huddle and get marooned on a desert island! Together we will battle pirates, befriend parrots and sing shanties. We will have to use our imagination, wit, and library books to get us back home. Or maybe we will decide not to return . . .”

“Tall Trees and Toadstools: A Walk in the Old Growth”, Friday, November 11, 9AM-12PM, Forest Park. $10, preregistration required; register online: “Hike through a nearby grove of low elevation old growth forest. Along the way, we will discuss the role of fungi in the old growth ecosystem. We will spend a bit of time in the grove, discussing the natural and human history of the forest. With luck, we may spot one of the bald eagles nesting on the property. This a moderate hike, covering roughly 3 miles of hiking over rolling terrain, with minimal elevation gain.” 

“Bob Rabbit in Deep Woods”, Saturday, November 12, 3PM, Northwest Library. “This original folktale follows Bob Rabbit as he sets out on a trek through the woods in search of a new friend. Andy Furgeson, the one-man-puppet-band, will take you on a musical journey with Bob and a crew of other quirky animals. Children will be singing, dancing and performing during this musical puppet show!”

“Music and Movement with Aaron Nigel Smith”, Saturday, November 12, 11AM, Lake Oswego Public Library. “Aaron performs regularly at performing art centers, festivals, libraries, and schools. He also tours with PBS Kids Between the Lions Live and the National Education Association's Read Across America campaign. His simple mission is to share his love for music and movement with the world.”

“Brick Builders”, Saturday, November 12, 10:30AM, Beaverton Library Storytime Room. Suggested for grades 1-5. “Come and make a monthly connection as we create, build and challenge with all things LEGO. Registration is required. Please phone (503) 350-3600 to register or sign-up in person at the Children’s Desk on the first floor of the library. Registration begins one month before the session.” 

Saqra’s 3rd Annual Fall Belly Dance Showcase Festival and Competition”, Saturday, November 12, and Sunday, November 13, 11:30AM-7PM. Washington County Fairgrounds, Hillsboro, OR. “General admission is still free but a $5 voluntary admission donation will get you a program, and raffle tickets.” 

“OOPS! Art”, Saturday, November 12, 2PM, Central Library (free tickets will be given out at 1:30PM); and Monday, November 14, 11:15AM Troutdale Library. “Art does not need to be perfect. In fact, great pictures are often made out of mistakes. Of the multiple ways to create OOPS! art, try these three: scribble pictures, drip and splatter pictures, and torn paper pictures. Artist Addie Boswell will share books to inspire your messy art including “Beautiful Oops!” by Barney Saltzberg, “Ish” by Peter Reynolds and “Art” by Patrick McDonnell. Great for children ages 4-10 and their families.”

“Professor Banjo and the Alphabeticians”, Saturday, November 12, 3PM, Taborspace, 5441 Southeast Belmont St., Pdx. $7 adults, $5 kids, free for kids under 2. “Grab a coloring sheet, sing and dance along, and stick around after the show to play with some hands-on instruments! Tickets available at the door or on (a limited number of Low Income tickets are available online; first come, first served). Professor Banjo is awesome! 

“Pasta Fazool”, Saturday, November 12, 2:30PM, Gresham Library; and Saturday, November 19, 10:30AM, Albina Library. “A hilarious and heartwarming selection of stories and songs from Anne-Louise Sterry’s native country of New Jersey. Centered on Anthony, an Italian boy, this unforgettable storytelling experience will get you to laugh, smile and sing along while you follow Anthony on his journey of discovery. As Anne–Louise transforms herself into Aunt Lena, her crazy creative alter-ego, you will find parts of your own story come bursting through.”

African Storytelling with Habiba!”, Saturday, November 12, 3PM, Kenton Library. “Stories are meant to inspire, entertain and provoke. Join Habiba, a native of Ghana, in learning stories about African history. Habiba offers an interactive, multi-cultural performance with authentic West African costume, spiced with singing and movement. These stories help us explore our own world as well as those far, far away.”

“Home-Made Vinegars”, Saturday, November 12, 11AM, Capitol Hill Library; and Wednesday, November 16, 6:30PM, Troutdale Library. “Like so many things that our great-grandparents knew how to do, vinegar making is almost a lost art. But with a little help from mother (not the woman who gave birth to you, but the thick, jellylike substance used in fermentation), and cookbook author Jean Johnson, you can learn how to make your own vinegars. Leave with some ‘mother’ to get you started, along with the knowledge to make this age old craft at home!”

Ghost Moon Talk”, Saturday, November 12, 4PM and 5:30PM, Hobo’s, 120 NW 3rd Ave., Pdx. Free. These special presentations will be taking place during the time of the full moon, and are educational and informative, as well as entertaining. Known as "Ghost Moon Talks", presenters will blend the paranormal, history, folklore, and science together in these very special gatherings that are suitable for the entire family. The "Ghost Moon Talks" will focus on the effects of the full moon in respect to not only hauntings and paranormal activity, but also on people, animals, and the ocean tides. Presenters will talk about the various methods of paranormal investigations, will feature a variety of sites said to be haunted, which includes the Shanghai Tunnels and the Oregon Country Settlement (on Mount Hood). Some will also focus on the use of sensitives or psychics in investigations, ghost hunting on the cheap, and what Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP) reveals, including updates on Cascade Geographic Society's ‘Project Ghost’.”

“Lone Fir Cemetery Guided Walking Tour”, Saturday, November 12, 10AM-12PM, entrance at SE 26th Street between Stark and Morrison Sts, Pdx. $10 suggested donation. “Come for an informal history lesson while enjoying the beauty and tranquility of Lone Fir Pioneer Cemetery in SE Portland. Friends of Lone Fir Cemetery conducts monthly tours, highlighting Portland’s founders, pioneers, its famous and infamous alike, as well as interesting headstones and monuments. Come visit this hidden jewel! Explore 30 acres of mature trees, a very special rose garden and fascinating architecture in this unique place, the only cemetery in Portland listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Suitable for all ages. No advance registration required. Meet in the center of the cemetery, at the soldiers’ monument.” Lone Fir was the first public cemetery in Portland, and a tour is a must for anyone learning about local history.

“Sweater Felt Ornaments”, Saturday, November 12, 11AM, North Portland Library. “Local artist Dawn Grunwald will teach you how to reuse those wool sweaters stashed away in your back closet. Felt them and make adorable holiday ornaments for your home or to give as gifts. Ornaments can be embellished with fabric scraps, buttons and beads. All materials provided, but bring a pair of sharp sewing scissors if you have them!” Young kids are welcome, but if they are too young to hand sew, they won’t be able to make an ornament.

“Trashcan Joe”, Saturday, November 12, 2PM, Wilsonville Library. “Soaring vocal harmonies and modern song writing set in a soundscape harkening to the early jazz era, Trashcan Joe has a unique sound with a broad appeal.” Highly recommended! 

“Portland Origami Paper Shapers (POPS)”, Sunday, November 13, 1:30, Belmont Library. “Enjoy origami-paper folding for fun, relaxation and stretching your brain. Learn a new origami project each month with various local origami instructors. Adults and teens welcome, children 12 and under must be accompanied by an adult.” 

“Salish Ponds Bird Walk”, Sunday, November 13, 8AM-11AM, meeting at the Clackamas Backyard Bird Shop, 8960 SE Sunnyside Rd., Clackamas, OR. Free, preregistration required, call 503-496-0908. “Join wildlife expert and educator, Elaine Murphy, for a morning stroll in Fairview’s largest city park. Salish Ponds was once a quarry but now is home to a 70-acre wetland park which boasts a variety of wildlife including hawks, songbirds, migratory geese and ducks, and more.” 

“Sci-Fi Authorfest V”, Sunday, November 13, 4:30PM, Powell’s Books, 3415 SW Cedar Hills Blvd., Beaverton. “A starfleet of science-fiction and fantasy authors descends for one galactic booksigning event. Attending authors include: Camille Alexa, Brent Weeks, David Levine, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Dean Wesley Smith, Peter Orullian, Mark Ferrari, Elizabeth Ann Scarborough, Kevin James Breaux, Meljean Brooks, Devon Monk, Lilith Saintcrow, J. A. Pitts, Timothy Zahn, Irene Radford, Ru Emerson, Adrian Phoenix, Andrew Mayer, Mary Robinette Kowal, Shannon Page, Claude Lalumiere, M. K. Hobson, Brenda Cooper, Vonda McIntyre, Louise Marley, and Ursula K. Le Guin. And in attendance will be the Cloud City Garrison of the 501st Imperial Legion.” 

“Ignore the Risk- Try Lutefisk!!”, Sunday, November 13, Reserved seatings at 12PM, 2PM, 4PM, and 6PM. Norse Hall, 111 NE 11th Ave., Pdx. “The historic Grieg Lodge Lutefisk and Meatball Dinner is a family affair and unforgettable banquet of Nordic specialties found nowhere else in Portland. Are you Viking enough? Here’s your chance to find out. 
MENU: Lutefisk, meatballs, boiled potatoes and cream gravy, coleslaw, 
homemade lefse, flatbrød, fresh cranberry relish, prune pudding, coffee, tea. Shop in the Ballroom on Lutefisk Sunday. Choose from a variety of new and gently used items with a Nordic twist, also creations made by the Artists of the Lodge and other wonderful raffle prizes. All proceeds from the sale and bucket raffle benefit the Grieg Lodge Scholarship Fund.”

WINGS: A Novel of World War II Flygirls”, Sunday, November 13, 2PM, Gresham Library. “Only one thing in World War II America was racier than a male pilot, and that was a female pilot. Karl Friedrich’s WINGS: A Novel of World War II Flygirls is about women who broke the rules and became heroes, despite the criticism of many men. The women were WASP, Women Airforce Service Pilots. Though civilians, their airplanes were military and the missions they flew were as dangerous as combat. Join Camas resident Karl Friedrich in learning about these amazing women.”

Rock Music in the Cinema: From Elvis to Spinal Tap”, Sunday, November 13, 2PM, Central Library US Bank Room. “Music historian and author Richie Unterberger will present a program of memorable and odd performances by rock acts in fictional movies from the mid-1950s through the 1980s.”

“Coyote Tales and Northwest Legends”, Sunday, November 13, 2PM, St. Johns Library. “The earliest stories of the Northwest continue to educate, inspire and entertain us with humor, wisdom and an undeniable sense of place. From the ravenous wallowing “Coyote and the Monster of Kamiah” myth, to the inspiring Snohomish legend called “Pushing up the Sky,” these stories bring us back to the beginning. Join professional storyteller Will Hornyak in this energetic and highly engaging performance.”

“Homeschool Book Party”, Tuesday, November 15, 1PM, Fairview Columbia Library. “Calling all homeschoolers age 6-10! Make new friends, talk about great books, and make book-related crafts. Read "The Strange Case of Origami Yoda" by Tom Angleberger.”

“OMSI Science Pub: Blue Revolution- A Water Ethic For America”, Tuesday, November 15, doors open at 5PM, event at 7PM, Mission Theater, 1624 NW Glisan, Pdx. $5, minors welcome with parent or guardian. “Americans see water as abundant and cheap: we turn on the faucet and out it gushes, for less than a penny a gallon. We use more water than any other culture in the world, much to quench what's now our largest crop - the lawn. Yet most Americans cannot name the river or aquifer that flows to our taps, irrigates our food, and produces our electricity. And most don't realize these freshwater sources are in deep trouble. At this Science Pub, hear from award-winning journalist Cynthia Barnett about her new book, ‘Blue Revolution: Unmaking America’s Water Crisis’. It describes a water crisis driven by a mechanical culture that encouraged everyone, from homeowners to farmers to utilities, to tap more and more. The best solution, she argues, also happens to be the simplest and least expensive: a water ethic for America. As the green movement helped build awareness about energy and sustainability, so a blue movement will reconnect Americans to their water. Avoiding past mistakes, living within our water means, and turning to "local water" as we do local foods are all part of this new, blue revolution.”

“Portland Poets: Mary Szybist and Crystal Williams”, Thursday, November 17, 7PM, Annie Bloom’s Books, 7834 SW Capitol Hwy, Pdx. “For 2011's final installment of Annie Bloom's Presents, we have two great Portland poets reading together. Lewis and Clark Professor Mary Szybist is the author of Granted, which was a finalist for the National Book Circle Critic’s Award in Poetry in 2003. Crystal Williams is the author of three collections of poems, most recently the award-winning Troubled Tongues. She is Associate Professor of Creative Writing at Reed College.”

“Chocolate Tasting: History, Samples, and More, with Savina Darzes”, Thursday, November 17, 6:30PM, Wilsonville Library. Preregistration required, call the library at 503-682-2744. “Through a multi-media presentation, explore the natural and human history of cacao and examine the steps needed to transform it into the chocolate we all know and love. A selection of bar chocolates will then be tasted and rated to discover your favorites. Savina Darzes has been involved with environmental and science education for almost 30 years. She is keenly passionate about chocolate and its history. Since 1983 she has presented chocolate classes and tastings in California, Oregon and Washington.”

“Brick-Works!”, Thursday, November 17, 3:30PM, Tualatin Library. Suggested for ages 5-11. “Through this program we hope to build enthusiasm for the library while stretching kids’ imagination through books, building, and social interaction. Come to this program and learn new building techniques, make friends and have fun building with LEGOS®.” 

“Willamette Falls Symphony Trio”, Thursday, November 17, 7PM, Oregon City Library. “Willamette Falls Symphony Trio members Elisa Boynton (violin), Marsha Fisher (viola) and Rachel Davis (cello) bring the dynamism and elegance of classical music to the Carnegie Library. Please note: This free event will take place after library hours. Regular Library services will not be available during the program. Doors open at 6:45 PM. Seating is limited.”

“Gem Faire Trade Show”, Friday, November 18, 12PM-6PM, Saturday, November 19, 10AM- 6PM, and Sunday, November 20, 10AM-5PM. Oregon Convention Center, 777 NE MLK Jr. Blvd., Pdx. Weekend passes for adults $7, children 11 and under are free, 2 for one coupons are available on their website. About 100 exhibitors. Most of this trade show is for beads, but there are also many things of interest to young rockhounds, including crystals and fossils.

Jane A Theatre Company Presents, “Frankenstein the Little Monster”, November 18- December 18, Theatre! Theatre!, 3430 SE Belmont, Pdx. Tickets are free, but must be reserved, see website for details: “Little Frankie is out of control and his parents don't know what to do. The Village Locals are up in arms and Ignore the Nanny hasn't a clue. Will patience and civility come in to play? Can Emily Post fly in for the day? With Songs, Jokes, Dances and a message or two; It’s fun for the whole family! It's The Hullabaloo!” 

“Steve’s Creature Feature”, Saturday, November 19, 3PM, Vancouver Mall Library, 8700 NE Vancouver Mall Drive, Suite 285, Vancouver, WA. “Meet Steve and his reptiles! Safely see, hear and touch some of the most amazing creatures on earth. Nature doesn’t get any more real and fun than this!” Highly recommended! 

“Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge Bird Walk”, Saturday, November 19, 8AM-11AM, meeting at the Fisher’s Landing Backyard Bird Shop, 915 SE 164th Ave., Vancouver, WA. Free, preregistration required, call 360-944-6548. “Enjoy the sights and sounds of migrating and wintering geese, ducks and other birds on this free expert-guided bird walk at the gateway to the Columbia Gorge Scenic Area. An easy 10-mile drive from Vancouver, Steigerwald Lake offers historic riverine flood plain habitat, semi-permanent wetlands, cottonwood-dominated riparian corridors, pastures, and stands of Oregon white oak, as well as great views of the Columbia River.” 

Birding At Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge”, Saturday, November 19, 9AM- 12PM. “Join Patty Newland and Candace Larson for a bird walk around Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge in southeast Portland. We'll explore wetlands and woodlands, talk about the history of this amazing urban wild space, and look for resident songbirds and wintering waterfowl. Meet at the Sellwood Park parking lot on SE 7th Avenue at Malden Street at 9am sharp. Expect to walk 2-3 miles on both paved and uneven dirt trails. Dress for the weather; beginners welcome!”

“Kim Weitkamp- Tapestry of Tales Family Matinee”, Saturday, November 19, 11AM, Central Library, US Bank Room (free tickets will be given out at 10:30AM); and Saturday, November 19, 2PM, Belmont Library (free tickets will be given out at 1:30PM). “Enjoy a storytelling performance by Kim Weitkamp. She is an award-winning, nationally known storyteller who spent 15 years using applied storytelling with at-risk youth before she turned to stage performance. Recommended for ages 5 and up.” 

“Barbara McBride-Smith- Tapestry of Tales Family Matinee”, Saturday, November 19, 11AM, Sellwood-Moreland Library (free tickets will be given out at 10:30AM); and Saturday, November 19, 2PM, Midland Library (free tickets will be given out at 1:30PM). “Enjoy a storytelling performance by Barbara McBride-Smith. She has entertained audiences across the U.S. and is frequently featured at the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tennessee. Recommended for ages 5 and up.”

“Len Cabral- Tapestry of Tales Family Matinee”, Saturday, November 19, 11AM, North Portland Library (free tickets will be given out at 10:30Am); and Saturday, November 19, 2PM, Troutdale Library (free tickets will be given out at 1:30PM). “Enjoy a storytelling performance by internationally acclaimed storyteller Len Cabral. His strong Cape Verdean ancestry comes alive in his exuberant retelling of African, Cape Verdean and Caribbean folktales as well as original stories and tales from around the world. Recommended for ages 5 and up.”

“Tapestry of Tales Finale Tellabration”, Saturday, November 19, 7-9PM, First Unitarian Church, 1011 sw 12th Ave., Pdx. “Communities around the world gather on the same day to celebrate the art of storytelling. Join us for an evening of stories with Len Cabral, Barbara McBride-Smith and Kim Weitkamp.”

“Native American Tales”, Saturday, November 19, 3PM, Holgate Library. “Join Mythobolus Mask Theatre as they bring traditional Native American stories to life through a performance of colorful costumes, ethnic music, storytelling and masked dancers. This program introduces folklore from the Pacific Northwest including “Coyote Tales” and the Makah legend of ‘Clamshell Boy.’” 

Festive Candle Making”, Saturday, November 19, 2PM, Northwest Library. Preregistration required; register online.  “Artist Kathy Karbo will show you how to create sculptural candles from colorful sheets of beeswax and embellish them with found objects. These rolled candles are colorful, aromatic, and make the perfect holiday gift! Wrap your gift in tissue and ribbon before taking it home. Great for children and adults ages 5 and up.” 

Birding at Vancouver Lake Park”, Sunday, November 20, 8AM-11AM. Join Audubon Society leader Ron Escano at Vancouver Lake Park. Scope the lake for water birds then explore the riparian woodland for wintering song birds, including the white-throated sparrow. Meet at 8am at Vancouver Lake Park and we should be done by 1100 am.” 

Kids in Nature: Fall Frenzy”, Sunday, November 20, 10AM- 11:30PM, Tryon Creek State Park. $10 per child; preregistration required. Register online: Suggested for kids 3-7. “As the days get shorter and colder animals and plants prepare for winter. Explore the park to see all the activity that’s happening in preparation for these challenging months.” 

American Indian Symbols and Mask Making”, Sunday, November 20, 1:30PM, Woodstock Library. Preregistration required; register online. “Learn about Northwest Coast Native American culture through mask making. Handcrafted masks were used by tribes for various purposes; masks were worn during ceremonies, given as gifts or used for medicinal purposes. Participants will create their own mask while artist Maranee Sanders tells stories and shares the meaning behind the masks.”

"Thanksgiving Walk at Oxbow",  Sunday, November 20, 10:30AM- 12:30 PM, Oxbow Regional Park, 3010 SE Oxbow Dr., Gresham.  Free with $5 day use fee per vehicle. Preregistration required;  register online. "Take time to enjoy and celebrate the simple gifts of nature at Oxbow Regional Park with Metro naturalist Dan Daly, Terry Kem from Deerdance School and others. While walking along the Sandy river, focus on opening your senses and noticing how wildlife respond to the changing season. Then gather around the campfire circle as naturalists share the “Thanksgiving Address” passed down by the Iroquois Nation. This is a simple yet moving way to express appreciation for our connections to nature. Hot drinks provided. Consider bringing a sack lunch for after the program. Suitable for adults and families. Advance registration required. Meet at the boat ramp at 10:15 a.m. Bring a travel mug for hot beverages at the end of the walk."

Tree Lighting Ceremony”, Friday, November 25, 5:30PM, Pioneer Courthouse Square, downtown Pdx. “Be Merry at the Square! On the day after Thanksgiving, Portlanders will gather at the Square to celebrate the official start of the season by lighting the spectacular 75ft Tree provided by Stimson Lumber Company. This year's event will feature a holiday sing-a-long featuring Pink Martini, members of the Oregon Symphony, and the Pacific Youth Choir. With a big tree, lots of lights and a great community sing-a-long this is an event you won't want to miss!” 

For a pretty comprehensive list of local Christmas light displays, many of which start on November 25, look here:

SnailPeople!”, Saturday, November 26, 11:30AM, The Warehouse, 3434 SE Milwaukie Ave., Pdx. “As a duo, Snail People play a wide variety of instruments and combine musical sophistication, harmony vocals, and an exuberant sense of fun. They will inspire with their mixture of electric energy, welcoming presence and originality.”

“LEGO Construction Zone”, Sunday, November 27, 1:30PM, Tigard Library Puett Room. Suggested for ages 5 and up. “Drop in to work on your creations with other LEGO® fans. We'll supply the building blocks; you bring your creativity.” 

“Louisa May Alcott Wrote That?”, Tuesday, November 29, 6PM, Central Library US Bank Room. “Join Professor Karin Magaldi's theater students and Professor Maude Hines for dramatic readings and discussion of Alcott’s lesser known works and recently discovered thrillers. After the performance, celebrate Louisa’s 179th and father Bronson Alcott’s 212th birthdays!” 

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Tualatin Hills Nature Park

Our Portland fall, with its ubiquitous rain, is here.  I try always to plan outdoor excursions often, and never more urgently than when the sun is shining.  We spent a lovely fall afternoon at the Tualatin Hills Nature Park, an oasis in the heart of Beaverton.  Many of Portland's better natural areas are notoriously impossible to get to on public transit, but the Max train actually stops right behind it (Merlo Rd. on the Blue Line).  And doubtless because of the suburban sprawl around it, we are never disappointed in the outstanding opportunities to glimpse wildlife here.  We saw about a dozen garter snakes (this is a superb place to find them), a pair of deer, and a barred owl that surprised everyone by being out in the daytime.  

Wooly worms are everywhere!

And so are mushrooms, of every shape and size!
Jasper caught four garter snakes...
...looked at them for a while, and set them free.
Wild mint, which fills the air with an amazing scent.

Barred owl.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Portland Open Studios

Portland Open Studios happen every fall, and this is a marvelous way for kids to see artists at work to learn something firsthand about many different techniques.  This year, we didn't have a single day we could dedicate to visiting studios alone, so we went over the course of two different weekends.  Here are some of the highlights. 

We visited the studio of Carli Kruse, a very talented glass artist who uses lampworking.  Jasper saw one of her beautiful glass pumpkin pendants, and she kindly offered to let him watch her make another.   Lampworking uses rods of borosilicate, or scientific, glass, using a small torch that can heat a small area to a really intense temperature.

We also visited Fields and Fields Blown Glass, where Heather and John Fields were also making a pumpkin, but one the actual size of a small pumpkin.  It's a fascinating process that is very fun to watch.  They actually have videos of their process on their website.  While they do make some simple pumpkins for the season, most of what they make are vessels with  exceptionally sophisticated colorwork.

We visited No. 2 Print Shop, where Nancy Prior was showing off her gorgeous prints.  She let Jasper make a print on the giant press, which thrilled him!

We also visited Connie Whelan, who is a nature photographer.  She actually takes pictures underwater of coral reefs.  Jasper is currently fascinated with sea creatures, especially cephalopods, and she graciously took the time to show him the ones she has photographed, as well as showing him a book she owns of deep sea photography.  She explained that she must use a flash underwater, because the water filters out the visible spectrum color by color.   At the depths to which she normally scuba dives, 50-100 feet, she says the only part of the visible spectrum naturally filtering to that level is blue light, so a flash allows her to capture really vivid colors.  Jasper purchased a print from her of a lovely brown octopus.

Saturday, October 22, 2011


Wildwood: The Wildwood Chronicles, Book I is a new children's book written by Colin Meloy (of the Portland band The Decemberists) and lavishly illustrated by Carson Ellis, his wife and a very talented artist.  It's 541 pages and has a bit of violence in it, so it's intended for older kids.  This book has created quite a stir in Portland, because it's been received as an homage to our city.  Much of the setting is based on Forest Park.  Forest Park is the nation's largest forested park in city limits, yet the park itself remains enigmatic and less accessible than it should be.   There is not a single all inclusive trail map of Forest Park, there are no fancy visitor centers, and signage for trailheads and trails are  hit-or-miss.  It's easy to feel completely on your own exploring it.  (If you are interested in getting to know Forest Park, the book One City's Wilderness: Portland's Forest Park, 3rd edition is a great resource.)  In "Wildwood", Forest Park is re-imagined as the "Impassible Wilderness", a place no outsider dares to tread.  

It's a good story, well worth reading.  The illustrations are exquisite.  But there were some things that gave me pause.  While the book is filled to the brim, like Portland itself, with quirky characters, the story maintains a fairly serious tone.  So it kind of hit a sour note for me when it's revealed that the villain's evil plot involves using ivy to take over the forest and strangle every living thing.  Invasives are often cited as the number one threat to our local natural areas, and English ivy is one of the worst.  In Portland, there is a constant call for volunteers to join ivy removal teams.  So imagining the invasive ivy as the ultimate evil, a force out to strangle everyone, seemed almost to be sarcastically poking fun at conservationists.

The other thing which over and over served as a distraction to my ability to enjoy this story is the uncanny resemblance it bears to another story, Samuel Blink and the Forbidden Forest.  Published four years earlier, this book is, in my opinion, not as well written as "Wildwood"', although still a good story. "Samuel Blink" throws in a lot of quirky details about Norway, and "Wildwood" throws in a lot of quirky details about Portland.  In both stories, a boy and a girl venture deep into forests that all the townspeople know are absolutely forbidden and dangerous, forests that are guarded by magic from outsiders.  The forests turn out to be inhabited by communities of magical, talking creatures.  In both cases,  the mission is to rescue a sibling.  The boy and girl quickly become separated, and have separate adventures, not to be reunited until the very end.  In one book, the girl has the remarkable experience of flying, borne by a bird.  In the other, the girl becomes a bird. In both stories, the forests have a tree of enormous stature, standing out from all the others, with mysterious magical powers.   The forests have evil rulers with sinister plots, seeking to sacrifice the forest's creatures while maintaining that it's all for the common good.   Both are people who started out as regular folks, but through terrible pain and loss they have become evildoers.   And of course in the end the children must confront the evildoers face to face.  And a tree reaches down and grabs someone.

Of course, the concept of a forbidden forest is certainly an ancient one. The story of Hansel and Gretel comes to mind right away, but there are many more.  And given that bookstores and library shelves have been bulging with "kids going to wizarding school" stories for many years now with nary a plagiarism lawsuit from J.K. Rowling in sight, I am positive the connections between these two books are far too weak to draw any conclusions of deliberate imitation.  I think they both explore some of the same storytelling conventions.  They both do result in very readable adventures.  Reading other books with similar themes probably wouldn't ruin the story of "Wildwood" for most kids.  But I think if you are a writer and you choose to explore literary themes that have been explored many times before, if you do not do something really new with them, your story isn't all that it could be.  And while setting the story in Portland does make it especially meaningful to Portlanders, who pick up on the many local references, this isn't what I'm talking about.  I think it's a good story that deserves to be read, but I concluded that it doesn't cover much new ground.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Salmon and Mushroom Festival

Every fall, the Cascade Geographic Society has a Salmon and Mushroom Festival at Mt. Hood.  We went this year, in yucky weather, and thought it was marvelous.  We visited the table of the Oregon Mycological Society, covered all over with a mind-boggling assortment of mushrooms.  We ate some yummy Native American fry bread.  We heard a wonderful lecture on Bigfoot, focusing on the many Native American legends concerning this rarely glimpsed local critter.  And we took a trip to the Salmon River, to see the salmon spawning ground.  We did see some dead salmon, but the live ones were all hiding from us!  We had a blast, and definitely give this marvelous local festival the thumbs up!
The cyanide millipede.
Examining a mayfly nymph.
The mushroom table.  The one on the bottom left is actually a weird flower.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Bug Chicks Rule!

Petting the cute little cockroach!
All eyes are on the hungry mantis on the pink tray.
A mantis we recently rescued from a suburban parking lot and brought home to our garden.
I recently took Jasper to a class given by The Bug Chicks, and it rocked!  The Bug Chicks are two superstar entomologists who have recently arrived in Portland, with a serious educational mission.  Both Kristie Reddick and Jessica Honaker are impressively knowledgeable, and Kristie has a marvelous ability to demonstrate the things insects do herself, which is hysterical. They put together a really wonderful presentation that completely fascinated Jasper.  They told the kids one fascinating fact after another  about insects, showing off some really wild preserved specimens.  And then they moved right on to sharing some amazing live creatures.  Kids got to see them up close and touch them.  Then they sent everyone on a bug hunt, admiring all the creepy crawlies they captured.  For the big finale, they brought out a praying mantis and let the kids watch it devour one of the captured crickets.  If you ever have a chance to see a mantis up close, they are really amazing little beasts.   They brought some bess beetles along, which we had never heard of.  They've added a video to their site about why bess beetles make great classroom pets, and coincidentally I found some available for sale here.  The Bug Chicks are available to give their presentations, and have also just launched new educational resources for teachers that are available on their website by subscription.  They are using bugs to teach science and reading, as well as other subjects such as social studies and math. How cool is that?  They are offering subscriptions to their online educational resources at a special rate through the end of October, so check it out!  
A bess beetle. 
Jasper was so excited when Jessica let him hold the bess beetle. 
Their hermit crab comes out to play.
I just can't resist closing with this trailer from a bizarre and wonderful movie we found at the library recently.  This movie, combined with our Bug Chicks experience, made us long to shop at Tokyo's wonderful beetle stores!

Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo Trailer from Myriapod Productions on Vimeo.

"Working backwards through history, Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo explores the mysterious development of Japan’s age-old love affair with bugs. Using insects like an anthropologist’s toolkit, the film uncovers Japanese philosophies that will shift Westerners’ perspectives on nature, beauty, life, and even the seemingly mundane realities of their day-to-day routines."