Sunday, November 16, 2008

Tibetan Dolls

Really cool piece about preserving Tibetan heritage and identity through dolls.

http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/world/2008/11/11/church.tibetan.dollmakers.long.cnn?iref=videosearch

Ayla's Stuff

Ayla's blog and photo galleries can be found here -

http://aylajadesblog.blogspot.com/

http://picasaweb.google.com/aylajadesangster/

Open Letter to Barack Obama from Alice Walker

Nov. 5, 2008

Dear Brother Obama,

You have no idea, really, of how profound this moment is for us. Us being
the black people of the Southern United States. You think you know, because
you are thoughtful, and you have studied our history. But seeing you deliver
the torch so many others before you carried, year after year, decade after
decade, century after century, only to be struck down before igniting the
flame of justice and of law, is almost more than the heart can bear. And
yet, this observation is not intended to burden you, for you are of a
different time, and, indeed, because of all the relay runners before you,
North America is a different place. It is really only to say: Well done. We
knew, through all the generations, that you were with us, in us, the best of
the spirit of Africa and of the Americas. Knowing this, that you would
actually appear, someday, was part of our strength. Seeing you take your
rightful place, based solely on your wisdom, stamina and character, is a
balm for the weary warriors of hope, previously only sung about.

I would advise you to remember that you did not create the disaster that the
world is experiencing, and you alone are not responsible for bringing the
world back to balance. A primary responsibility that you do have, however,
is to cultivate happiness in your own life. To make a schedule that permits
sufficient time of rest and play with your gorgeous wife and lovely
daughters. And so on. One gathers that your family is large. We are used to
seeing men in the White House soon become juiceless and as white-haired as
the building; we notice their wives and children looking strained and
stressed. They soon have smiles so lacking in joy that they remind us of
scissors. This is no way to lead. Nor does your family deserve this fate.
One way of thinking about all this is: It is so bad now that there is no
excuse not to relax. From your happy, relaxed state, you can model real
success, which is all that so many people in the world really want. They may
buy endless cars and houses and furs and gobble up all the attention and
space they can manage, or barely manage, but this is because it is not yet
clear to them that success is truly an inside job. That it is within the
reach of almost everyone.

I would further advise you not to take on other people's enemies. Most
damage that others do to us is out of fear, humiliation and pain. Those
feelings occur in all of us, not just in those of us who profess a certain
religious or racial devotion. We must learn actually not to have enemies,
but only confused adversaries who are ourselves in disguise. It is
understood by all that you are commander in chief of the United States and
are sworn to protect our beloved country; this we understand, completely.
However, as my mother used to say, quoting a Bible with which I often
fought, "hate the sin, but love the sinner." There must be no more crushing
of whole communities, no more torture, no more dehumanizing as a means of
ruling a people's spirit. This has already happened to people of color, poor
people, women, children. We see where this leads, where it has led.

A good model of how to "work with the enemy" internally is presented by the
Dalai Lama, in his endless caretaking of his soul as he confronts the
Chinese government that invaded Tibet. Because, finally, it is the soul that
must be preserved, if one is to remain a credible leader. All else might be
lost; but when the soul dies, the connection to earth, to peoples, to
animals, to rivers, to mountain ranges, purple and majestic, also dies. And
your smile, with which we watch you do gracious battle with unjust
characterizations, distortions and lies, is that expression of healthy
self-worth, spirit and soul, that, kept happy and free and relaxed, can find
an answering smile in all of us, lighting our way, and brightening the
world.

We are the ones we have been waiting for.

In Peace and Joy,
Alice Walker

Friday, November 7, 2008

Ayla's First Video

video

WELCOME AYLA JADE!!!

November 3rd, 2008 - Leigh and I welcomed our daughter, Ayla Jade into the world. She was born at 7:25pm in water. She weighed 8lbs 5oz and is 21.25 inches long.



Her first photo gallery can be seen here - http://picasaweb.google.com/jasonsangsterphoto/AylaJadeBirthAndFirstDays#

Her first video is above.

We are SO IN LOVE!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Colin Powell Endorses Obama!

I urge you to watch till the end. Mr. Powell says some very, very important things towards the end of this segment.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Olbermann on Palin

I don't usually advertise screaming liberal talking heads...but this one is really good!

Olbermann on Palin

I don't usually advertise screaming liberal talking heads...but this one is really good!

tell it like it is!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Extreme Drug Resistant Tuberculosis


Very powerful images from one of my favorite photographers, James Natchwey, about a very distressing new mutation on an ancient disease - http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2008/10/nachtweys_wish_awareness_of_xd.html

Website for the cause - http://www.xdrtb.org/

Monday, September 15, 2008

Anti-Palin Alaskans


Dear friends,

I just received this from my cousin who lives in Alaska...

"This Saturday, I had the pleasure of joining my mom, my aunt Martha, and 1500 or more like-minded Alaskans in rallying to draw attention to those of us Alaskans who don't support Sarah Palin's politics and policies. There were a lot of people there, with some very creative signs. It was tremendously inspiring to see so many people gather peacefully and exercise their 1st Amendment rights. Whether you share this point of view or not, please take a look at this slide show. I think some of the signs may tickle some funny bones.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Summer lovin'...having a blast

My body hasn’t been this sore since two-a-day summer football practices 15 years ago!

Within the last 10 days, Leigh and I have traveled to Colorado (where much partying and hiking was involved for one of my best friend’s weddings), packed our apartment up in a bunch of cardboard boxes, rented a U-Haul, loaded it (with the help of some of the best friends/humans EVER!), unpacked the truck, unpacked the boxes, moved furniture and then weeded, tilled and planted a 20’x20’ garden in the backyard. I’ve got blisters on my blisters and you better believe my dogs are barking!


But I cannot tell you how freakin’ excited we are to FINALLY be living in our own house again. It’s like that feeling that comes over you after you’ve been sick for a few days and then you get better again. It’s like feeling better again and really loving feeling healthy and so glad you’re not sick anymore. So the apartment was sick. The house is now healthy.

Can you believe it’s been since 2005 since we’ve had our own space? In ’05 we lived with my mom (I’m not afraid to admit it…she’s a whole lot of fun!) to save money for our trip to Tibet. Then we moved to Tibet and lived in a hotel for a year and a half. Then we come back to America and move to Oregon and land in an apartment for the last year. That’s a long time to be away from this and we love it!

Our place is a cute 2/1 (with a large office space in the basement that is totally cool even in the hot sunny summer afternoons). It was built awhile ago and has lots of cool built in shelving, hideaway ironing boards, potato drawers, a canning storage closet, hardwood floors, a almost new washer and dryer, lots of big windows, on a quiet dead end street, an amazing garden space with herbs and roses and flowers already established, really cool landlords and it is less than a 10 minute walk from the University of Portland. (Yeah, I know).

Today we planted our garden and it felt so good to have dirt under the fingernails and sweat on the brow. The soil here is amazingly lush and dark and rich. I should know…I’ve taken a shower twice today to wash it off me! We planted spinach, lettuce, collards, kale, broccoli, brussel sprouts and next month we’ll be planting onions, garlic, carrot, snow peas and maybe some fava beans.

School starts in less than 3 weeks now. That’s crazy. I don’t feel eager to give up my very leisurely pace of life this summer. It has been so fantastic to not have a job, not have to go to school (I’m taking online classes) and just be able to wake up early, do yoga, work in the garden, play tennis or go hiking or camping or just chill with Leigh (or should I say distract her from her work). I would be jealous of me right now too and I am definitely grateful for this chance to catch my breath and relax before the gates of chaos are unleashed upon me. Not only school but…

Baby is growing fast! Leigh has expanded incredibly in the last month and it is true joy and magic to witness the transformation. She glows. She is happy and healthy and getting heavy. Just tonight she was complaining that she might be starting to waddle a little bit. But she is really carrying well and is in really good spirits and looks more amazing and beautiful every day. Funny moment, we had just stopped at a bakery for a middle of the afternoon snack during one of our many running-around-doing-errands-all-day days and she was munching on a raspberry hand pie when she said to me, “I love being pregnant. It is a trump card for anything – eating ice cream or pies, not lifting too much during a move, people treat you especially nice, taking naps…”

So, yeah, I think she’s enjoying it. Especially recently since the baby has started to really move around. The other night we were watching a movie (Everything is Illuminated – really good film made from the book, I recommended it), and I had my hand on her belly and I swear the baby was breakdancing! She told me today that she has a balloon from her butthole to her boobs and this baby can just bounce from rib to rib. Just watching the seismic activity of her uterus is amazing and kind of creepy. I can’t help picturing the scene from Alien when the thing bursts out of the guy’s stomach. Yikes, I really hope that doesn’t happen…

Leigh’s parents come into town tomorrow for a weeklong visit. We're excited. We love showing off our new home. Going to the farmer's market, see all the bridges and rivers, Mount Hood, etc. We’re going down to the southern Oregon coast to check out some wildlife refuges (mom) and visit a lot of train stuff (dad). We should get the chance to go out to eat a couple times, which is something two broke ass students can’t do very often (which is a real shame b/c Portland has some phenomenal restaurants). We’ll also go looking at baby stuff. You know, get the essentials - diapers, onesies, big screen tv (for dad of course).

Hope y'all are having a great summer!


Our first dinner in the new house! YAY!

Pics of the new house to come...

Monday, July 14, 2008

WTF Monday


"Aggravating/Enjoyable Travel Note of the Week

Oregon. South Dakota. North Dakota. I realized the other day that I'm 51 and I'd never spent appreciable time in any of those states. So I was happy to be in Portland and its suburban neighbor to the north, Scappoose, the other day. Driving through Portland is what it's like to drive through a European city in some ways, because of all the bikes in such a green-conscious city. So imagine my surprise when I picked up The Oregonian Thursday to read this headline atop page one: "Bike-car clash morphs into melee.''

Seems a driver didn't like the way a bicyclist was running red lights and driving recklessly in downtown Portland, and he yelled at the guy to stop being so careless. The cyclist got off his bike and told the driver to get out of his car if he wanted to make such a fuss about how he was operating his bike. The driver of the car got out. And the bicyclist started -- according to police reports -- beating the driver of the car with the bike. Yes, beating the driver of the car with his bike, holding the bike over his head and assaulting the defenseless driver at least five times, leaving the mark of a bike chain on him.

Not sure what the moral of the story is, but it's not good." - Peter King, SI.com

-----------------
It gets worse. Apparently (because who believes the media anymore), the driver, who chided the biker for making other cyclist look bad, was a cyclist advocate! When the angry biker pulled up to the driver at the next light, he got off his bike and began using it to hit the driver’s car while cursing the driver and trying to pick a fight. Later it turns out the biker was drunk AND an employee of the city’s Department of Transportation! God the irony here is ridiculous. Passer-by’s, mostly other bikers, who came across the scene then ganged up on this driver when it was thought that this driver hit the cyclist. In fact, that’s how the 911 call went in. So, not only is this guy trying to do the right thing by calling out the biker for BREAKING THE RULES of the road, but then he gets abused by total strangers not even related to the incident from total hearsay and mob mentality. WTF???

I guess I haven't been reading the Oregonian lately and been too busy going camping and playing to realize this happened. Did any of y'all hear about this? What the fuck?! Wow. Sad. Seems that the biker was in the total wrong here. As a driver of cars and a rider of bikes try to follow the rule "Same road, same rights, SAME RULES". I can empathize where the driver is coming from having witness almost everyday a cyclist running stop signs, red lights or the like. It is very frustrating and quite dangerous. I wish that the bike cops (or any cops) would start cracking down on this. If you're riding a bike in town, follow the same rules as a car. Simple. Just because you have two wheels and foot power does not give you special privileges. And it does not necessarily make you 'holier than me' either. And if you do get called out on breaking road rules, by all means people, DO NOT abuse your accuser with your bike! Jesus. I mean, bikes are usually really expensive to repair, man. I also find it a real pity that someone that's never been here before, a nationally syndicated columnist (who by the way I emailed and offered to take around the city...but go no response), and his first nice impression (European city - nice!) is counter-acted with a bike rage episode of disgusting proportions. I guess that this will keep even more people from moving to our fair city though. Which is good news I think...

What is wrong with people? Why can't we all get along? Why can't we think before we act? Even here in peaceful, green-living, European style Portlandia?

Happy freaking Monday. Jeez.

Full story - http://blog.oregonlive.com/breakingnews/2008/07/angry_bicyclists_gang_up_on_th.html

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Found a House!

We found our next home and hope to be there for 2 years or so, and maybe the last move before we buy our own (which speaks more to how long we plan to be there more than how well off we're doing right now)! Hooray!
We had a very close race between our two top choices, and both landlords had us as their top choice of tennant, which was great. Several of our friends engaged us in pros and cons talks as we weighed the options, and Deb even offered to drive by both of them with us, which we did.

We decided yesterday though on a 1920s bungalow that is a very close (less than 10 minutes strolling slowly!) walk to Uni of Portland (I mean super close). There is lots of character to it, which makes up for the smaller size of it. It has all the original woodwork inside, like the ironing board in the kitchen wall, potato bins, pull out cutting board and molding, built in shelves in closets, working wood fireplace and refinished hardwood floors throughout. The main house level has two bedrooms, one bath, roomy living room, small kitchen, and separate kitchen table nook. we thought it would be too small until we discovered the 'semi-finished' basement wasn't merely suitable for storage, but would make a fine office for both of us as the space is larger than any bedroom and was lined on two sides with huge ceiling high bookshelves!! We need to put some carpet and wall hangings and a space heater down there, but it allows us to eventually make the second bedroom the baby's (after all your visits!) instead of the office.
But the absolute best part is the gardened yards! Front and back yards are gorgeous with flowers, shrubs, trees, herbs, and space for veggies. Right now there is a 7 foot long 5 feet high row of RASPBERRY bushes that is drooping over with so many red berries! We ate handfuls and handfuls for 30 minutes and it doesn't look like we even dented them! There is also a nice grassy area, with picnic table and brick BBQ!

And it seems that it was meant to be our place. As we were sitting in the backyard debating which of the two places would be best, and really going back and forth to which one we wanted, the landlord of this place calls. He tells us that his wife (the one who met us and showed us around) liked us so much and wanted us to be their tenants so badly that he decided to lower the rent! Not only that, but he said he would change out the older W/D with an almost new pair! I totally felt like we were in India bartering with a carpet dealer or something..."OK, OK, OK mister. I give you very, very best friend price." HA!

It was so awesome and we feel quite blessed to have scored such a great place. It has wonderful energy and great potential.
We move Aug 2 and will send photos before and after we get all our stuff in.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Couple Reasons Why I Choose Nursing...

Shortage of teachers means shortage of nurses -http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/25626353/

Emergency rooms buckle under patient load - http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/23998748/



Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Only 15 weeks and counting!

Random Video 2

This one if from my birthday on the Oregon/Washington coast...


video

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Random Video 1

Thought I'd share a few of my random videos...

This one is from our first trip to the Columbia River Gorge area way back in August when we first moved to Portland!

video

Friday, June 13, 2008

Bobbie & the Baby

Life never ceases to amaze me.

It is a continuous cycle of life and death, living and dying.

Just two days ago Leigh and I went in for our monthly prenatal exam. Everything was just as perfect as can be. And there we were celebrating life, feeling joyous, exuberant, excited and blessed. Life is coming to us. Leigh is growing a child. Our child! How incredibly magical and special and sacred. Life, what power.

We weren't two steps back into our home when my phone rang and it was my mom. She was calling to tell me that my Great Aunt Bobbie, the last member of my immediate family from that generation, had passed on that morning. I cried. I cried hard. Family is so, so, so important to me and to lose a member is never an easy thing for me. I really respected her. She loved me. Called me her 'Sweetie Pie". We were friends. And now, sadly, she won't be able to meet the new coming generation.

It was her time, though. Her body and spirit had been waging a tug of war for years and her spirit finally relented and said, "Yes. It is time." And so on June 11th, sometime between 6:30am and 8:30am, she quietly and peacefully left this world to join her friends and family waiting her on the other side.

But there we are, one minute celebrating the coming new life, the next we're crying in the kitchen mourning a dear loved one's passing. Life and death, man. The circle remains unbroken. The cycle continues. Amazing. Sacred. Perfect.

I want to honor both Bobbie and our coming child. I'll post a brief obituary for Bobbie and then to end on a high note, a note of hope, I'll post a photo of our little one in the womb. We went to our first and only ultrasound today. The doctor said everything looked really good. No Down Syndrome signs, no club foot signs, no heart problems, no spinal bifida, no cleft palate. All signs point to 100% healthy baby! And no, we didn't find out what the sex is!

------

Dearest Bobbie....You will be missed!

Bobbie June Thomason, 82, passed away peacefully on June 11, 2008 after an extended illness. Bobbie was born on June 20, 1925 in Atlanta to the late Walter Hood and Idell Thomason. She graduated from Girl's High and began a long career with AT & T that began in Atlanta and culminated in New Jersey.

Bobbie loved to travel and savored adventures throughout the US and abroad. She returned to Atlanta after retirement and enjoyed many activities but her primary love and focus was her family. Her many nieces and nephews and the "greats" have fond memories of Bobbie, the wonderful aunt that always had a ready ear, sage advice, a willingness to share adventures and a never ending capacity to be their friend and confidante.

Despite her illness, Bobbie's mind remained sharp. She could engage in lively debate on issues ranging from politics to fashion yet she never lost her wicked sense of humor. Quite simply, she was a "firecracker" with a zest for life and a flame that never dimmed.

-----

Dearest Child....You are most welcome! (PS - Who do you think he/she looks like?)


Thursday, April 17, 2008

Happy News x 2

Well my friends. When I said at the beginning of this year that 2008 was going to be big, I had no idea how B-I-G! Got two fantastic, incredible, mind-blowing pieces of news to share with you:

1) Not only did I get into their nursing school...but they are going to pay 100% of my expenses!!! A full ride baby!!! I am the proud recipient of a 2008 Providence Scholarship to attend the University of Portland's nursing program...http://nursing.up.edu/default.aspx?cid=3501&pid=208

Amazing, thrilling, humbling, a great sense of relief and pride...all these things are running through my head and heart right now only 60 minutes from removed from opening the letter in our mailbox today. We live in an apartment complex and so it's a long line of a bunch of boxes. Did that stop me from yipping and yelling and doing a little impromptu celebration dance? Hell no! I made quite the scene...me in my bike helmet, pants tucked into my jeans and goggles. I swear if there was anybody standing there with me, I would've hugged them on the spot!

So I guess this kind of decides where I'm going to nursing school. It was between U.P. and Linfield College. But Linfield doesn't have scholarships and that would mean more $$ in debt (and considering big news #2, that will not be a good thing). This means 100% tuition (which is a lot) & books AND a guaranteed job after graduation (The scholarship is merit based but I also have to commit 3 years to them in their system - not a big deal).

WOW WOW WOW WOW! SO EXCITED! I always felt like I was good....but this good? Damn it feels good to be a gangster! The shirt I was ironically wearing today says it best - "Pimpin' ain't easy."

And now for the REALLY REALLY BIG news...

2) If you haven't already heard (and I do apologize - sort of - for announcing to the world via my blog) but in a little more than 6 months, Leigh and I will be welcoming one of these into the world:


Yep...that's right...WE'RE GOING TO HAVE A BABY!!!

Woooooooooooooooohhhhhhhhhoooooooooooo!!! We are totally psyched. Off the hook psyched. And of course quite a bit freaked out. Life is coming, life is happening, DNA is replicating, genes are getting passed on, organs are forming, bones are calcifying, the beautiful cycle continues. And we're going to help it into the world. Totally humbling and such a blessing.

This has to be the most exciting thing that's ever happened to us. The wedding was one thing...whoa...that guy running around offering everyone moonshine at our reception...that was cool and all but nothing like this. I mean much bigger than the first time I rode the Mindbender at Six Flags. Much bigger than losing my virginity - though that was pretty cool. Much bigger than jumping out of an airplane - again, pretty cool but sex is better. Much bigger than learning to tie my shoes - who needs shoes?. This is HUGE! And awesome. I can't wait to have this little naked being running around our lives, crying, pooping, smiling, laughing, eating and loving. Can't wait.

But we'll have to because the little bugger has to cook and simmer for another 6 months until he/she is ready. We have been given a window of end Oct/beg Nov. So Libra/Scorpio...not bad, not bad at all. At least it won't be a LEO! :0)

Anyway, Leigh is doing fine (and so am I, thanks for asking!). Very healthy. Growing little by little. Not much showing yet, just a little bity pooch...and the boobs are blowing up like balloons (HELL YEAH!). We've been to our first two prenatals and our midwives (hopefully no hospital birth) say everything is great. Leigh is the picture of health and at this last one (Monday) we got to hear the lil' bean's 145 beats/sec heart beat on Doppler. So freakin' cool! That sound was definitely NOT Leigh, but someone altogether new and unique...it was like finding out we're pregnant all over again! Eyes wide, big grins...

So there you have it...I'm getting paid to become a nurse and Leigh's got my prodigy in her belly. Man, it just doesn't get any better than this...(sound of a tall boy PBR being cracked open).

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Obama & Tibet Links...

OBAMA:

Open Letter by Alice Walker

http://www.theroot.com/id/45469


TIBET:

Olympic Torch Extinguished Four Times By Authorities in Paris: http://news.sky.com/skynews/article/0,,30200-1311970,00.html

Paris Mayor Cancels Olympic Ceremony as City Officials Drape Tibetan Flag over City Hall: http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=080407143545.uejpu98q&show_article=1

Torch Rally Delayed Five Times in London By Protesters: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2008/04/06/nolympic206.xml

Protesters Climb and Hang Banner on San Fran's Golden Gate Bridge: http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/04/07/bridge.protest/index.html

Tibetan Exiles Stage Their Own Olympic Torch Relay To End In Tibet on the Day of Opening Ceremonies in Beijing: http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/asiapcf/03/25/tibet.protest.relay.ap/index.html#cnnSTCText

World Leaders Contemplate Boycotting Opening Ceremonies - German Chancellor already on board: http://www.madison.com/tct/opinion/280538

The International Olympic Committee Rejects Tibet Olympic boycott call: http://news.smh.com.au/ioc-rejects-tibet-olympic-boycott-call/20080405-23ur.html


Comprehensive collection of most up-to-date news reporting and footage on Tibet:
- http://www.phayul.com/

Robbie Barnett (prof of Modern Tibetan Studies, Columbiua University - I studied with him while I was in Lhasa at Tibet University) has been interviewed by NPR, Foreign Policy Journal and many others, and wrote an article for the Wall Street Journal: Barnett (prof of Modern Tibetan Studies, Columbiua University - I studied with him while I was in Lhasa at Tibet University) has been interviewed by NPR, Foreign Policy Journal and many others, and wrote an article for the Wall Street Journal:
- NPR Interview 3/14/08 http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=88251828
- "Tragedy in Tibet" (Wall Street Journal) 3/17/08 http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120570911503240151.html?mod=opinion_main_commentaries
- Foreign Policy Journal Interview http://www.foreignpolicy.com/story/cms.php?story_id=4238

Robert Thurman (studied as a monk for several decades with the Dalai Lama's monastery in Dharamsala, and is a professor of Religion at Columbia as well) - his article in the Washington Post: "China Needs the Dalai Lama" (Washington Post) 3/26/08 http://www.phayul.com/news/article.aspx?id=20096&article=China+Needs+the+Dalai+Lama

US Resolution on Tibet introduced by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi: http://www.phayul.com/news/article.aspx?id=20323&article=Speaker+Pelosi+introduces+resolution+on+Tibet

Current US policy on Tibet: http://www.savetibet.org/advocacy/us/proceedings/housechstngregorycraig.php

EU Assembly considering boycott if China doesn't engage in dialogue with Dalai Lama: http://www.phayul.com/news/article.aspx?id=20409&article=EU+assembly+eyes+Beijing+boycott%2c+if+no+Tibet+talks

French President (Nicolas) Sarkozy may boycott Opening Ceremony http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2008/04/07/sports/EU-SPT-OLY-France-Olympics.php

German athletes considering boycott: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1986825/posts

China softening stance regarding negotiations with Dalai Lama (Wen Jiabao calling for dialogue) - www.telegraphindia.com/1080401/jsp/foreign/story_9081121.jsp

Dalai Lama appeal to the international community (http://dalailama.com/news.220.htm), Chinese people:http://dalailama.com/news.220.htm, and Tibetans (http://dalailama.com/news.222.htm)

Tibetan Govt in Exile homepage: http://www.tibet.com/

UN alarm over huge arrests of Tibetan protestors in Nepal: http://www0.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=26089&Cr=tibet&Cr1=

Collections of photographs and video footage from Tibet protests in Tibet on Tibetologist blogs: Dan Martin http://tibeto-logic.blogspot.com/ & Mikel Dunham http://www.mikeldunham.blogs.com/

List of education, letters, petitions, demonstrations and other direct action at http://www.sfteamtibet.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=section&layout=blog&id=6&Itemid=50

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Poem I found yesterday...

Pray for Peace

By Ellen Bass

Pray to whomever you kneel down to:
Jesus nailed to his wooden or marble of plastic cross,
his suffering face bent to kiss you,
Buddha still under the Bo tree in scorching heat,
Adonai, Allah. Raise your arms to Mary
that she may lay her palm on our brows,
to Shekinhah, Queen of Heaven and Earth,
to Inanna in her stripped descent.

Hawk of Wolf, or the Great Whale, Record Keeper
of time before, time now, time ahead, pray. Bow down
to terriers and shepherds and siamese cats.
Fields of artichokes and elegant strawberries.

Pray to the bus driver who takes you to work,
pray on the bus, pray for everyone riding that bus
and for everyone riding buses all over the world.
If you haven't been on a bus in a long time,
climb the few steps, drop some silver, and pray.

Waiting in line for the movies, for the ATM,
for your latte and croissant, offer your plea.
Make your eating and drinking a supplication.
Make your slicing of carrots a holy act,
each translucent layer of the onion, a deeper prayer.

Make the brushing of your hair
a prayer, every strand its own voice,
singing in the choir on your head.
As you wash your face, the water slipping
through your fingers, a prayer: Water,
softest thing on earth, gentleness
that wears away rock.

Making love, of course, is already a prayer.
Skin and open mouths worshipping that skin,
the fragile case we are poured into,
each caress a season of peace.

If you're hungry, pray. If you're tired.
Pray to Gandhi and Dorothy Day.
Shakespeare. Sappho. Sojourner Truth.
Pray to the angels and the ghost of your grandfather.

When you walk to your car, to the mailbox,
to the video store, let each step
be a prayer that we all keep our legs,
that we do not blow off anyone else's legs.
Of crush their skulls.
And if you are riding on a bicycle
or a skateboard, in a wheel chair, each revolution
of the wheels a prayer that as the earth revolves
we will do less harm, less harm, less harm.

And as you work, typing with a new manicure,
a tiny palm tree painted on one pearlescent nail
of delivering soda of drawing good blood
into rubber-capped vials, writing on a blackboard
with yellow chalk, twirling pizzas, pray for peace.

With each breath in, take in the faith of those
who have believed when belief seemed foolish,
who persevered. With each breath out, cherish.

Pull weeds for peace, turn over in your sleep for peace,
feed the birds for peace, each shiny seed
that spills onto the earth, another second of peace.
Wash your dishes, call your mother, drink wine.

Shovel leaves or snow or trash from your sidewalk.
Make a path. Fold a photo of a dead child
around your VISA card. Gnaw your crust
of prayer, scoop your prayer water from the gutter.
Mumble along like a crazy person, stumbling
your prayer through the streets.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

More on Tibet...

March 25th, 2008

If you read anything, read the first link. One of the best commentaries I've read so far on the situation...


http://news.imagethief.com/blogs/china/archive/2008/03/19/the-trouble-with-china-s-communication-about-tibet.aspx

http://washingtonbureau.typepad.com/china/2008/03/struggling-to-r.html

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/foreign/richardspencer/march2008/tibet-china.htm

The NY Times and BBC also have some great articles coming out almost everyday - Like French President Sarkozy publicly threatening to boycott the opening ceremonies of the Games.

Or this article here, an interview with a monk inside Tibet. (Click on the Video Reports in the right column to see Olympic Torch relay protesters).


Tibetan eyewitness reports here. Chinese react here.

Monday, March 24, 2008

What a Lovely International Embarrassment


From Sports Illustrated...

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2008/more/03/24/protests.flame.lighting.ap/index.html

ANCIENT OLYMPIA, Greece (AP) -- Even before the Olympic flame was lit Monday, a protester of China's human rights policies disrupted the solemn ceremony, foreshadowing the prospect of demonstrations throughout the torch-relay route right up to the Beijing Games themselves.

Forecasts of clouds and rain had been considered the main threat to the pomp-filled torch-lighting. But in the end, while the sun sparked the flame to life, it was the protesters who turned the joyful bow to the Olympics' roots into a political embarrassment for China over its crackdown in Tibet and other rights issues.

Three men advocating press freedom evaded massive security and ran onto the field at the ceremony in Ancient Olympia before they were seized by police. Minutes later, a Tibetan woman covered in fake blood briefly blocked the path of the torch relay.

The incidents came after International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge told The Associated Press in an interview that he was engaged in "silent diplomacy" with the Chinese but wouldn't intervene in politics to try to change their policies.

"We are discussing on a daily basis with Chinese authorities, including discussing these issues, while strictly respecting the sovereignty of China in its affairs," Rogge said.

Protests are bound to follow the torch throughout its 137,000-kilometer (85,000-mile), 136-day route across five continents and 20 countries. China pledged strict security measures to ensure its segment of the relay won't be marred by protests.

Tibetan activists have already said they plan to demonstrate elsewhere on the route.

"Later we will do protests in London and Paris," said Tenzin Dorjee, a member of Students for a Free Tibet who protested in Ancient Olympia.

China's communist leadership has faced a public relations disaster since protests of its rule turned violent March 14 in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa, sparking waves of unrest in surrounding provinces. China reported a death toll of 22 from the violence, but Tibet's exiled government says 80 Tibetans were killed. Nineteen died in subsequent violence in Gansu province, it said.

A rising chorus of international criticism and floated calls for a boycott have unnerved the Chinese leadership, which has turned up efforts to put its own version of the unrest before the international public.

China has blamed the riots on followers of the Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled spiritual leader. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice again urged China to start talks with him in order to begin a dialogue that "is going to be the only policy that is sustainable in Tibet."

Luciano Barra, deputy CEO of the 2006 Winter Games in Turin, recalled how the torch relay in Italy was dogged by protesters opposed to construction of a rail tunnel. Organizers diverted the route at one stage to avoid the demonstrators.

"It makes me laugh compared to the current problem," Barra said.

Another potential flashpoint is the route through Tibet. The flame is due to be carried to the summit of Mount Everest in May and pass through Lhasa in June.

"It's crucial for everyone who works in Tibetan movement to emphasize to the public and get the message to the Chinese government that the Olympic torch should not be allowed to go up Mount Everest and through Tibet," said Anne Holmes, acting director of the London-based Free Tibet campaign. "The very idea that they will be able to parade the torch through Tibet after the crackdown is obscene given what's going on in Tibet."

Tibetan groups have also urged the IOC to keep the relay out of the Himalayan region. Rogge, speaking before the incidents, said there were no plans by Beijing organizers, known as BOCOG, to change the route, but he didn't rule it out.

"The original torch relay route has been confirmed by BOCOG and Chinese authorities," Rogge said. "So far, as I speak now, the IOC is in agreement with that. No one can foresee the future."

China hopes the Olympics will showcase its emergence from developing country into a world power. But as the games approach, various groups have used the Olympics to leverage their causes.

Apart from Tibet, China has come under international criticism for support of Sudan and its role in Darfur. Last month, Hollywood director Steven Spielberg withdrew as an artistic adviser to the opening and closing ceremonies over the Darfur issue.

The IOC has faced calls to take a hard line with China. But Rogge reiterated his long-standing position that the Olympic body is not a political organization and stressed he is involved in private dialogue with Chinese leaders.

"The IOC is engaged in what I call a 'silent diplomacy' with Chinese authorities since day one of the preparations of the games," Rogge said.

At Monday's ceremony, one of the three protesting members of the Paris-based group Reporters Without Borders ran behind BOCOG President Liu Qi as he was giving a speech. The protester unfurled a black banner showing the Olympic rings as handcuffs.

"If the Olympic flame is sacred, human rights are even more so," the French group said. "We cannot let the Chinese government seize the Olympic flame, a symbol of peace, without denouncing the dramatic situation of human rights in the country."

China state TV cut away from the protest and showed a prerecorded scene, preventing Chinese viewers from seeing the incident. Chinese TV commentators did not mention the demonstration.

The first torchbearer in the relay was Greece's Alexandros Nikolaidis. After the torch left the stadium, a Tibetan woman covered in red paint or dye lay in the road approaching the village of Olympia while other protesters chanted "Free Tibet" and "Shame on China."

Japanese runner Haturi Yuuki came within a few meters (feet) of the protester, then stopped and ran in place while plainclothes police removed her. They also dragged off a man accompanying her who was waving a Tibetan flag.

Police said the woman and the three members of Reporters Without Borders were being detained. One of the men arrested was Robert Menard, the group's general secretary.

The three Frenchmen said that they were told they could face misdemeanor charges of offending national symbols. They were to appear before a prosecutor later Monday in the nearby town of Pyrgos.

"We're asking the heads of government to boycott the opening ceremony," one of the three protesters, Vincent Brossel, told AP Television News. "We're not calling for a boycott of the games."

Marcelle Roux, president of the French association France Tibet, said her group staged a demonstration at the Foreign Ministry in Paris, and planned more soon.

"These are the games of shame," Roux said. "The Chinese government must have expected this kind of thing."

Tsering Palden, president of the New York-based Tibetan Youth Congress, said Tibetan activist groups will urge Coca-Cola this week to pull its sponsorship of the Olympic Games.

Coca-Cola Co. spokeswoman Kerry Kerr said the company remained committed to supporting the torch relay. "The Coca-Cola Co. joins others in expressing deep concern for the situation on the ground in Tibet. We know that all parties involved hope for a peaceful resolution," she said.

China has promised a smooth run-up to the Beijing Games and is hoping a successful games will bolster its international image.

"The more determined the Dalai clique is to ruin the torch relay and the Olympic Games, the more hard and good work we need to do on the preparation and the implementation of all aspects," Yin Xunping, a Communist Party official, was quoted as saying by the Tibet Daily newspaper. Yin is party secretary of the Tibet Mountain Climbing Team, which is participating in the Mount Everest segment of the torch relay.

Meanwhile, Germany rejected calls for an Olympic boycott. Some German athletes had reacted to the Chinese crackdown by supporting boycott calls.

In Nepal, police in the capital of Katmandu broke up at least two separate protests by Tibetan refugees and monks and arrested as many as 475 protesters, officials said.

Chanting "China, stop killings in Tibet. U.N., we want justice," protesters were marching to U.N. headquarters in Katmandu when police stopped them about 100 meters (yards) away and snatched their banners.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Friday, March 21, 2008

Obama in Portland, Spring Break and an Acceptance!

March 21, 2008

Leigh and I got up early today to pilgrimage down to Memorial Coliseum to see Barack Obama give a speech. We couldn't make it to his first visit here a couple months ago, but we weren't going to miss this one. And for Portland (and OR), to finally be relevant in an election has got this town fired up...talking with a couple 'locals' while inside the auditorium with people shouting and clapping and jumping and waving their hands (looked like church to me...felt like church to me too!), they were awed that Portlanders (well known for their cynicism and distrust of American politics and politicians) could get so worked up over a Presidential candidate. Looking around they said, "This is for a politician?!".

It was one of a few poignant moments during the rally. I don't have the text of the speech with me here, but it was mostly a stump speech - nothing really new. But to finally see him in person and hear him say the things he believes was great. I sat there wondering if I would be able to tell my children or grandchildren that I saw the man who reshaped American politics, I saw Obama speak before he was even President. (I'm already assuming he's going to win the nomination and general election).

Some other highlights from the speech - quoting JFK, "Never negotiate out of fear, but never fear to negotiate" and then going on to say, "Talking to your enemies is not a weakness but the essence of wisdom" and also "You can not only talk with your allies, but must also talk with your enemies." And another great moment when he said that Clinton and Richardson and McCain said, "You can't say that. You can't negotiate with our enemies", Obama said "Watch me".

I wish I could remember more...It was a fun time. Very high spirits. Somewhat of a rock star glamoring. It was a good speech with many great ideas given by a great speaker and I felt very happy to have witnessed it. Have a become a political junkie? Or does this man inspire me like no other politician since Kucinich?

Also, Governor Bill Richardson joined Barack Obama on the stage this morning to give his full endorsement. I'm very pleased to see this. I've respected Bill Richardson for while. I like what I've seen and heard from him. I think this is a smart move and could help with the Latino vote and who knows? I wouldn't mind Richardson as VP either. Great foreign policy experience, great Washington experience. And to see a half black man and a Hispanic running this country would be AWESOME! The true fabric of this nation would be finally reflected by our two primary national leaders. I like the sound of Obama/Richardson, don't you?

To be fair, I will go see Clinton and/or McCain if they come to Portland. McCain in Portland....HA!

Spring break is upon me...thank god! I have to admit, I was getting very, very burnt. I managed an A in statistics, which is nothing short of a miracle. Still waiting for my Anatomy grade (which I hope is an A but think is a B). I'm looking forward to the next few days spent resting, working on my Tibet book (writing the intro letter to publishers, book's edited and ready!), visiting galleries here to try and get an exhibit and hike and enjoy the fair weather that has come to Portland. Next week I'll be flying to Colorado for my buddys' bachelor party. We are renting a couple cabins in southern Colorado by a ski resort and bombing hills for 3 days, while partying (and pretending we're 21 again) for 3 nights...can't wait for the craziness and debauchery!

And finally, I got accepted to a Nursing School Program!!!!!! The University of Portland has officially accepted me into their Junior Transfer Program starting in the Fall 08. YAY YAY YAY YAY YAY! We are so excited and SO relieved. UP is probably my #1 choice, too. I'm still waiting for Linfield College to get back to me but that won't happen until mid-April. For now, I'm so totally stoked to know that all my hard work has paid off and I'll be going somewhere in the fall. So awesome.

And what's even better? I'll be one slap my ass hottie of a murse (male nurse)! Grrrrrrr baby....grrrrrrrr....give me murse, give me murse. Ok! Now you're a tiger murse....give me tiger murse....Grrrrrrrrr.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Lhasa Burns!

March 15th, 2008

Today our hearts are heavy with sadness and worry. Lhasa, our beloved home for a year and a half, is burning.
Information is scarce as the Chinese officials have blocked internet connection, satellite communications and virtually silenced any news coming out of Tibet. We don't really know any more than most of you who are following this story on the news. What we do know is this:

On the 49th anniversary of the 1959 uprising, March 10th, more than 300 monks and nuns began a march from Drepung Monastery towards the city center of Lhasa. This march was mirrored in other Tibetan concentrated places like Kathmandu, Labrang, Dharmsala and Toronto. With chants calling for an independent Tibet, the Lhasa march was halted by police and military before it made it more than a mile down the road.

The following days' protests, that brought both religious and lay people onto the streets, however were surprising in its scale and violence. Cars overturned, buildings smashed and burned, rocks being thrown, marches...it's like scenes from Beirut or Gaza.

Photos and video coming over the wires are but a trickle, but what they do show is heart stopping. To see pillars of black smoke covering the Lhasa valley, monks and women smashing windows to cars and hotels, buildings burnings, and the inevitable columns of army trucks full of soldiers entering the streets and locking down the city...There have been reports now of more than 30 tanks (yes TANKS!) plying the central streets.

We are speechless in our shock and anxiety. Many of our friends are there and I can only imagine the harsh response that has been pledged by the authorities. Even with the eyes of the world on China as it prepares for its apparent "coming out party" for the Olympics in August, I am very, very concerned there will be terribly harsh and universal punitive actions taken. Increased military, curfews, more restrictions, more beatings, less news...they have already started to shut Tibet off again - no tourists are allowed in or out (some even locked out of their hotels and from all their belongings including passports, etc), no TV, no internet, no radio.

The silence that follows this scream is scarier than the scream.

This is crazy! I am honestly surprised that the protests have risen to this level of scope and violence. I'm saddened that is has come to this. Obviously there is great resentment and simmering discontent by the population in Tibet. This we all know. What is unknown now is how will it play out? And will we ever know what's really happening? And how, if there is a harsh crackdown (with violence, beatings, shootings) can we as a nation dedicated to spreading liberty and justice around the world support such a government?

The BBC has been the most extensive in its coverage. For more information I'd go there -
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/7297911.stm
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/7297249.stm
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/7297248.stm (eyewitness accounts)
There are many links here. The video and "in pictures" links should be viewed.

We got word from someone inside Tibet this morning - "Lhasa in curfew. Riots still happening".

We are praying for temperance, peace and protection for those in Lhasa right now...it's a very unsettling and anxious time for us personally...

May peace find hold again.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Birth-week Celebrations, Feb 2008


33 years on this earth. 33 years of breaths. 33 years of heartbeats. 33 years of dreams.

The so called ‘age of Jesus’:

“I think it is a safe bet that God considers 33 to be the perfect physical age for maturation- anything before that is young, anything after is older. So it's been speculated that, physically at least, all of us will appear to be 33 years old in Heaven.”

33…A powerful numerology number:

“There are 3 double-digit numbers that, while they are rooted in the single-digit numbers, require special emphasis and attention. These are 11, 22, and 33.

They are called Master numbers because they possess more potential than other numbers. They are highly charged, difficult to handle, and require time, maturity, and great effort to integrate into one's personality.

The 11 is the most intuitive of all numbers. It represents illumination; a channel to the subconscious; insight without rational thought; and sensitivity, nervous energy, shyness, and impracticality. It is a dreamer. The 11 has all the aspects of the 2, enhanced and charged with charisma, leadership, and inspiration. It is a number with inborn duality, which creates dynamism, inner conflict, and other catalyses with its mere presence. It is a number that, when not focused on some goal beyond itself, can be turned inward to create fears and phobias. The 11 walks the edge between greatness and self-destruction. Its potential for growth, stability, and personal power lies in its acceptance of intuitive understanding, and of spiritual truths. For the 11, such peace is not found so much in logic, but in faith. It is the psychic's number.

The 22 is the most powerful of all numbers. It is often called the Master Builder. The 22 can turn the most ambitious of dreams into reality. It is potentially the most successful of all numbers. It has many of the inspirational insights of the 11, combined with the practicality and methodical nature of the 4. It is unlimited, yet disciplined. It sees the archetype, and brings it down to earth in some material form. It has big ideas, great plans, idealism, leadership, and enormous self-confidence. If not practical, the 22s waste their potential. Like the 11, the 22 can easily shrink from its own ambition, causing difficult interior pressures. Both the 11 and the 22 experience the pressure-cooker effect very strongly, particularly at an early age. It must work toward the realization of goals that are larger than personal ambition. The 22 serves the world in a practical way.

The 33 is the most influential of all numbers. It is the Master Teacher. The 33 combines the 11 and the 22 and brings their potential to another level. When expressed to the fullest, the 33 lacks all personal ambition, and instead focuses its considerable abilities toward the spiritual uplifting of mankind. What makes the 33 especially impressive, is the high level of sincere devotion. This is shown in its determination to seek understanding and wisdom before preaching to others. The 33 in full force is extremely rare.

Another way to look at the Master numbers:

The Master numbers 11, 22, and 33 represent a triangle. A triangle of Enlightenment.”

I’ve personally got a lot of hope and anticipation for 33. I believe it will be a life altering year. I also think it will be my best year on Earth yet. I’m really excited about the possibilities…

  • Nursing School (I’ll find out in March/April if I’m starting this year).
  • Publishing a Photo Book on Tibet (draft is ready to send out, just need an intro letter)
  • Discover art with avenues other than photography (ceramics mostly)
  • Further developing my life in Portland (making new friends and connections)
  • Continuing to simplify my life (supporting local, less car more bike, sustainability)
  • Adventuring the Pac NW (ocean, rivers, mountains, forest…YES!)
  • Always finding ways to grow closer to myself, my life partner and God
  • Possibly pregnancy???

I could go on about what I’m looking forward to. The list is endless. I’m filled with just an utter and sacred sense of wonder and enthusiasm for life. Things just seem to be happening and I feel I’m learning to surf the roller coaster of this very uniquely human experience in the world like I’m learning to surf the snowy mountain ridges.

I can only hope to maintain this sense of child-like curiosity and unbridled happiness at being alive. But to think that I’ve come so far in 10 years…even less. It was not that long ago that I was in therapy and seriously struggling with tenacious depression…Another time, another place…same roots. That same dark soul is now bright and that storm I weathered makes this joyful and blessed time all the more welcome and strong.

The last few days, my birth-week celebration, as I’m calling was sublime. Whatever is above and beyond perfect…it was that. Wednesday was my birthday proper and Leigh and I woke up to the rare and beautiful February blue skies of Portland (although I have been known to bring the sunshine to Feb wherever I may be). After a delicious treat of homemade cinnamon rolls…divine only begins to describe this fast becoming birthday tradition. Packing a lunch, we loaded into my new-ish Subaru and took her out to the beach for a picnic and some checking in with Mother Ocean. Hitting 33, I need to get some guidance from the waves and wind.


Mother, mother ocean, I have heard you call
Wanted to sail upon your waters since I was three feet tall
You’ve seen it all, you’ve seen it all

Watched the men who rode you switch from sails to steam
And in your belly you hold the treasures few have ever seen
Most of em dream, most of em dream

Yes I am a pirate, two hundred years too late
The cannons don’t thunder, there’s nothin to plunder
I’m an over-forty victim of fate
Arriving too late, arriving too late

I’ve done a bit of smugglin, I’ve run my share of grass
I made enough money to buy Miami, but I pissed it away so fast
Never meant to last, never meant to last

And I have been drunk now for over two weeks
I passed out and I rallied and I sprung a few leaks
But I got stop wishin, got to go fishin
Down to rock bottom again
Just a few friends, just a few friends

I go for younger women, lived with several awhile
Though I ran em away, they’d come back one day
Still could manage to smile
Just takes a while, just takes a while

Mother, mother ocean, after all the years I’ve found
My occupational hazard being my occupations just not around
I feel like I’ve drowned, gonna head uptown

We drove across the Columbia over to Washington and then headed west, following the mighty river the whole drive out. It was beautiful. I was constantly reminded of Lewis & Clark exploring this river over 200 years ago (oh how it’s changed!), riding its current on the search for the elusive Northwest Passage. We saw seals (or sea lions or sea otters) in the river 60 miles inland, swimming upstream. Beautiful and a special treat. We drove through all kinds of charming farmland and through the lovely coastal range until we finally hit Cape Disappointment State Park (here).

We grabbed our bags and blanket and hit the windswept expanse of sand and surf to relish the delicious delicacies that Leigh prepared for us – falafel, hummus, fresh tomatoes & lettuce, yogurt sauce…YUM! It got better. She just kept pulling all these wonderful things out of her bag of tricks – organic root beer, a smoked porter, blackberry soda. And that was before dessert. She is truly too good to me. I am very lucky to have found her.

After the goodies, we took a short walk on the beach, examining the crazy designs the surf and sand create, the awesome views up and down the coast and in both directions seeing lighthouses. We got to watching the little ‘squirrels of the beach’, the sandpipers run so fast up and down the beach avoiding the foamy waters that they’re legs became little cartoonish blurs. Admiring the grace of the seagulls alternatively fighting and playing in the strong breezes.

From the beach we took a short drive to the stop of the Cape to look out from the lighthouse where the mighty Columbia River meets the mightier Pacific. The maelstrom of currents created there has been the graveyard of ships for centuries. In the last 200 years, there have been more than 2,000 shipwrecks recorded along this section of coast! No wonder it’s called Cape Disappointment. From our high perspective, we saw three dolphins playing in the waves below and watched the Coast Guard drop their divers in training into the churning waters for training. Cold, cold, unforgiving waters!

We didn’t get as much time at the beach as we wished and had to head back after the lighthouse view, but we still enjoyed our ride back. It was such a special day, a magic day no doubt, that we saw 3 different rainbows. 3 rainbows! Are you kidding me? So incredibly special. One was so close to us that I swear I saw the leprechaun dancing with his pot of gold. A beautiful and perfect birthday if there ever was one!


The next day (Thursday, Cupid Day) I hit Mount Hood from the best day of snowboarding I think I have ever experienced. It was another blue sky, crystal clear warm-ish day with no wind at all (which is just totally unheard of to get all three to line up like this…notice the 3 theme happening?). The day was perfect in every way – the lift ticket was free (I’m volunteering for a non-profit group called Chill – here - , a Burton Snowboard off shoot that brings inner city and at risk youth up to the mtn and teaches them how to snowboard), the weather was perfect and there was absolutely NO ONE on the mtn with me…it was like my own personal snow park. I boarded hard, through trees, down really fast slopes, carving up any powder I could find…and there was lots!


After lunch, I met my Chill group coming up and worked with the 30 or so kids form inner Portland and working with other volunteers and the resort’s instructors helped coach many of them to staying up on their boards within an hour or two. For many of these kids it was the first time they had done anything like this at all. To see their faces light up with joy, accomplishment, confidence…and see to them cheer and encourage each other on was inspiring and fulfilling. Almost better than the boarding that morning…almost, but not quite.

Saturday, another ridiculously beautiful Oregon day, we celebrated with a bunch of our Portland friends by going hiking in the Columbia River Gorge on a trail leading up to Angel’s Rest, the most spectacular view of the river I’ve ever seen. We hiked to the top with a group of 7. It was a great hike – waterfalls, forest, breathtaking views, rocky cliffs and an unbelievable sunset.

We all then met up another couple friends at a fun McMenamin’s place called Edgefield – here - on the way back into town.

“It is a world of relaxation that seamlessly blends Oregon's natural beauty with McMenamins' signature whimsy: historic buildings of all sizes artfully restored and rich with cozy interiors, tranquil ponds and dazzling gardens, great food and drink, plentiful entertainment and surprising recreations. Encompassing a lush 38-acre parcel of farmland at the mouth of the spectacular Columbia River Gorge, Edgefield is a 15-minute car ride to or from the center of downtown Portland.

The stately main Edgefield building (circa 1911), with over 100 European-style guestrooms and hostel accommodations, is a national historic landmark. Each spacious room is furnished in charming turn-of-the-century decor. There are no televisions or telephones in the rooms, encouraging tranquility as surely as do the rocking chairs on our verandas. In the morning, join us in the Black Rabbit Restaurant for breakfast.

On the grounds, you will find a plethora of diversions. Enjoy our fine-dining restaurant, classic pub, numerous small bars and colorful summertime grill. For liquid refreshment you will enjoy handcrafted ales, wines, spirits and aromatic house roasted coffees created by McMenamins.”

I am amazed at how quickly Leigh and I have found our ‘niche’ here in Portland. We have amazing friends who love us and are totally inspiring. It’s like we landed into open arms. Portland has truly embraced us and I am so grateful.

Sunday was a special day for just Leigh and me. We made reservations at a place called Urban Fondue in the chi-chi part of NW Portland – here. We had the three course set dinner which included a cheese fondue with bread and fruit to start, our meats in our chicken cilantro basil broth and for dessert we got the Black Forest chocolate fondue with vanilla crème and cherries. This culinary treat was served with a plate of cut up doughnuts, pound cake, cheesecake and chocolate chip cookie dough…holy decadence Batman! Uh, yeah…

So that was my ridiculously decadent, wonderful, sublime, incredible, beautiful, fun perfect birth-week celebration. What a beginning to 33! I can only hope it’s an auspicious start to the rest of the year and another 33 years of full life experience.

With light.