March 20th, 2007

Whale fluke

"Oh, look at the pretties!"

Stuff like this is among the Good Stuff About Portland: The Oregonian's Shawn Levy writes about two upcoming Serenity charity screenings this summer and rumors of a possible Firefly marathon here, too.

I've been watching and enjoying Firefly, thanks to the library copy I borrowed. I wish I had something more in-depth and critic-like to bring to the plate about this show, but most of y'all already know it's good: strong characters (including a textbook example in Jayne Cobb of how to do an anti-hero right), a gritty and detailed universe for its stories, immensely quotable dialogue ("Also? I can kill you with my brain"), immensely easy-to-look-at characters doing eye-widening things (OHMYGOD a ship captain would do THAT to punish a crewmember?, as I think during "Ariel")...all sorts of good stuff. Which a lot of Portlanders appreciate. (Just like some of the proprieters of Serenity Tales, which I'll finally be able to read in-depth soon!)

Edited To Add: There is something analytical and critic-y I can add. I like that Firefly/Serenity creator Joss Whedon finally applied that huge, story-holding head of his to characters who were already adults. Whedon started his TV-show-creating career with the teenaged characters of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (of which I've seen some of the show), and followed that with the early-twentysomethings of Angel (of which I've seen only a few episodes, but liked what I saw, including the "puppet" episode), so all of the stories, at some level, were about his characters making the transition to the grown-up world. The cast of Firefly and Serenity have, for the most part, already done that (the big exception being River, but of course there's a huge reason she isn't fully grown-up when the show starts), and that allows for different stories. Whedon and his merry band of writers weren't repeating themselves. And it makes it easier for me to lust after Firefly's cast because they're mostly my age... ;-)

My 1980s brush with death!

Written during lunch:

In the summer of 1986, my family went camping in Virginia's Shenandoah Mountains, as we often did (it's beautiful country), hiking and grilling and generally relaxing. A couple of days in a row we stopped at a nearby-if-you-drove in-park general store, and I kept eyeing as a potential treat an ice cream bar called a Polar B'ar -- think a knock-off Klondike Bar. The first time I didn't get it, the second time I didn't get, and then after that I decided, why not? I'd get it. So I walked. It actually was a decently long walk from our campsite, but I was willing to walk (story of my life)...but when I reached the store, the ice cream bar was nowhere to be found.

That was because all Polar B'ars had been recalled because bacteria in them had killed a man. Which I didn't know until getting home; all I thought at the time was "Oh well, someone else got it."

See? My memory is for more than remembering where I'd get Slush Puppies...

More Memorial Memories

I wanted to be sure I did an overall entry about my Grandma Dorothy's memorial; I also wanted to point out some more details, and now I have time, so...

* Walking around the cemetary early in the afternoon, waiting for more of the family to show up, I watched the blooming cherry blossoms and the airborne creatures -- the flies and a butterfly -- and appreciated the almost-spring almost-warmth. It was a gentle way to start getting into the right head-space for the day. (And, you won't be surprised to hear, I think that at the time I was a little worked up over something I didn't need to be worked up over. Oh, well. And no, I'm not going to explain that further.) It's a cliche because it's true: the world has many ways of reminding you that life goes on, all over the place. To have a memorial on a day when the world's coming back to life: that's a good time to have it.

* We were very lucky to find caretakers for Bob and Dorothy back in the late '90s who became friends as well as caretakers. Bob and Dorothy lived in a house in Far SE Portland (after a transition period with other care places that turned out to be bad, so we got them out of there quickly). One of their caretakers, Eliza, attended the memorial. She spoke, and spoke well; she also got mentioned more than once by people giving thanks for the work she did.

It boggles my mind, the need to be there 24 hours a day for people who are likely to need help at any time...and Eliza and her family do that for several people at a time. And do it wonderfully well. We're blessed to know her and her family. Dorothy and Bob liked them, too.

* You should know this: Dorothy was always a good eater. My family figures one of the reasons she liked Birgitte, my cousin Rob's Danish wife, is that she could match her in eating well and not ballooning. In the last few years of her and Bob living in their NE Portland home, Dorothy cooked plenty of food for Birgitte whenever she visited. Dorothy had a habit of offering dessert right after dinner, mainly so we could then get the dishes cleaned and out of the way; most of us, even me, usually took convincing. Birgitte had no problem with it.

* Eloisa -- the 5-month-old who we think kind of looks like Grandma -- was great, very well-behaved and calm and welcoming during all of the events, though of course she was tired by the end of the family dinner. No drama involving her, I'd say...just us fussing over her and enjoying her. Cute kid. And she has good parents. Dorothy never got to meet Eloisa, as I understand it, but Dorothy did get plenty of visiting time with the baby of her caretaker family. So that baby was kind of a great-grandkid by proxy.

* As a gift to people, a former church colleague of hers brought copies, on 4x6 cards, of Dorothy's recipe for Lemon Jello Cake. Many, many people have had this, and love it, including everyone in my family. It's a sweetly tart creation -- Dorothy had a sweet tooth -- that she brought so often to church events that people complained, only half-jokingly, the times she didn't bring it. The recipe combines eggs, lemon Jell-O mix, yellow cake mix, lemon juice, and powdered sugar. It's not the fanciest-looking cake, not by a long shot, but it's tasty; as I said Saturday, "It may not look like much, but it's got it where it counts." (We also believe it tastes better the next day.) Mom, who's made many of these cakes in her life (including two last weekend), was glad to get the card. "I'm going to laminate it," she said.