Sunday, December 27, 2009

Happy 2010!

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Holiday Letter 2009

Dear Friends and Family,

Happy Holidays and a Great 2010 to you!  It’s amazing that another year has passed and we are looking at the start of a new decade.

And what a wonderful year it was.  The biggest news for us was our engagement this July!

Will and I continued our overflowing schedule of family, friends, and interesting things to learn and see.  We started 2009 with a long trip to Maui, Hawaii, where we scoped out the sites that would become the basis for our suggested itinerary of the week before our July 2010 wedding.  Lahaina, Maui was the centerpiece of our trip, including amazing sunset ocean views and delicious Hula Pie at Kimo’s Restaurant.  We can’t wait to share Maui with everyone in 2010!

In February, Will and I spent Valentine’s day taking a trip to Japan with one of my colleagues from Wilcox High School, Rushton Hurley, and 16 of his high school juniors.  This was Will’s first exposure to the life of running after teenagers, an experience that rivaled the myriad sights and sounds of Japan.  We ate udon noodles at Kiyomizu-dera, visited the Peace Museum and Memorial Park, and dealt with several teenage dramas.  It was an amazing trip.

I spent much of the winter and spring of 2009 working for Community Leaders at the Service of Society (CLASS), a pro bono consulting group that does work for nonprofits.  We completed a marketing analysis for an internet mentoring company for women in technology.  This was the beginning of my long and fascinating exploration of the Bay Area nonprofit scene, a learning process which has defined my 2009.  In addition to CLASS, I also worked with the Resource Area for Teachers (RAFT) in San Jose and the New Teacher Center in Santa Cruz.

In March I was hired by Huckleberry Youth Programs, a San Francisco nonprofit that serves adolescent youth and their families.  I have enjoyed working with the staff of Huckleberry, especially the Executive Director, Bruce Fisher, who has become a role model and mentor to me.  Huckleberry supports youth through counseling, crisis shelter, health care, health education, and juvenile justice prevention programs.  We have locations in both San Francisco and Marin.  During my time at Huckleberry, I have learned how nonprofits can navigate in communities and become essential community members.

This year is a special year because of the grand entrance of Soren Robinson Alldredge, Anna and Nathan’s first baby!

We have spent several weekends gazing in wonder and awe at little Soren, who started off about the size of a loaf of bread and who has grown and developed.  It is so much fun to watch a little human being with personality and everything emerge from the tiny baby.  Soren has the Robinson eyes, large and blue, and spends all his time guarded by Ziska, the giant German Shepard.

2009 was also the year of graduate school preparations.  Although I had the GMAT under my belt from November 2008, I put lots of time in 2009 in studying for the LSAT and considering law school.  Ultimately, I am hoping to get a JD-MBA, a joint degree that would allow me to learn both organizational management and also how to shape policy reform in the area of education.

Summer of 2009 brought the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, at which Will and I frequented about half a dozen wonderful Shakespeare plays, including a couple assistant directed by Ed Iskander, our close friend.  It was wonderful to join our theater friends in watching and discussing the plays that we not only know well, but also may have directed or performed in at some point.

Also during Summer 2009, Will and I returned to Hawaii.  My best friend, Eugenie Pacopac, got married to Vishal Rana on July 17, 2009, one day short of exactly a year before Will and I will get married.  They had a lovely ceremony on the beach at Kualoa Ranch, surrounded by the Hawaiian mountains.  It was a traditional Indian ceremony, very different from anything I had seen before.  Eugenie, of course, looked exquisite.
In the Fall, Will and I moved from Strongbadia to the Park Place apartment complex, still in Mountain View, California.  We spent several weeks setting up the apartment before life got back to normal again.  One of the highlights of this year was seeing Margaret Atwood and Michael Chabon, both of whom released new books and spoke at the Herbst Theater in San Francisco.  Will and I did a book swap, where I read Chabon’s Amazing Adventures of Cavalier and Clay, and Will read Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale, in preparation for the book talks.  It was fun reading together and Chabon has joined my list of favorite writers.

The year is closing with trips to Hawaii for Thanksgiving and last-minute wedding planning, and to Tampa for my first Christmas ever at Will’s childhood home.  I can’t wait to see the Robinsons again and to spend more time on Tampa Bay.  We have had a wonderful, full 2009 and are looking forward to next year.

Love, Lauren

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Well this is cool ...

It says it will make our blog into a book. They'll even send you a PDF instead of a whole book, which will be great when I start making the wedding scrap book -- I can just have them put the blog together for me and add the PDF to our wedding book! Yay!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Veils Veils Veils

Hi Grammy!

I found a great website with all these patterns you can order.

I’m sending you all of these patterns in case Ashley wants to ask you to do the same thing in a few years. Here’s a list of the patterns I like, with an explanation about why I like them next to each. I’m also attaching post-it notes to the packages.

· Vogue V8569, D: I like the way it is shaped to drape down flat, come over the shoulders and then ruffle at the bottom.

· McCall 3508, C: Again, I really like the shape – straight down the front and then shaped on the bottom.

· McCall 3508, A: I like this one as well in the picture, but can’t imagine how it will look in real life.

image of M3508

Seeing as you are the fabric / draping / sewing expert, I’d love your input on this. What do you think would look best? I’m happy to go with whatever you would recommend.

Next step: working on researching fabric. I’ll continue to send you things :) Based on the color of the gown I have so far, it’s pretty far off white. I’m going to have to look around online.

Love you,

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Love Stories: Grammy and Grampa

I had an idea for another performance piece (I know -- it's a lot, but I only plan on getting married once), and this is the first step. I'm emailing all the people in our families about the most key love stories:
  • How did you meet your spouse?
  • What was your first date?
  • What about the other person made you fall in love with them?
  • What was the proposal like?
  • Tell me about your wedding.
  • What is your advice for Will and I?
And I'm cutting the voices together into pieces. Here's my first go with the interviews and wedding pictures from Grammy and Grampa (Dad's parents). They were my first interview. It's going to be shorter in the piece, but I kept almost all of both interviews for archival purposes. This video is not perfect, but I'm getting tired, so it will have to do as a first go.


Friday, November 27, 2009

Hula Dance Choreography

I'm really excited about this idea I have to combine the introduction to the families and wedding party with the grand entrance with the opening dance.  Of course with such a strong performing arts background I'm using my own wedding as a chance to perform.  It's going to be ... totally different.

Luckily I have access to world-class talent.  One of these talented folks is my cousin Ryan, who choreographed the hula for us.  This is for the whole wedding party -- and I'm thinking that Will and I will learn the whole thing; there might be a girls' section and a guys' section; and the whole wedding party will join in on the chorus parts and the last verse.  The real question is what goes into the instrumental part in the middle.

This piece is to Olomana's Ku'u Home O Kahalu'u, a song about leaving hometowns, growing up, returning changed.  It was the piece I also danced to at my high school graduation party.  The difference in choreography shows how much Ry's hula has matured and developed.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Pics from Monday's dive

The guys at were kind enough to mail us the pictures they took during our dive on Monday.  You can see all the pictures over at this smugmug gallery, but here are a few of our favorites:

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Lana'i City Grill Layout and Tasting

This was another gem in a remarkable day. Lana'i City Grill is not usually open for lunch and opened specially for our tasting. The folks explaining the dishes in the video were Mike, the owner; Mike, the Executive Chef, and another really cute su chef whose name I feel bad to say I don't remember.

The first part of the video is a walk-through of the location. The second part is our tasting. I'm getting toasty because of all the wine sampling at the Lodge beforehand, and unfortunately I think you can tell in this video :p

Tasting at the Lodge at Koele

Wednesday was a mad trip to Lanai to try to do all our wedding planning in one day. Although we failed to plan the entire wedding, we got pretty close, doing all of the food, location setup, and scheduling.

Here's us trying the food at the Lodge at Koele:

I was worried because the food at the tasting seemed ... ordinary. This was partially the problem because we had originally thought that a buffet was our best option - more economic and much better food and selection. However, after talking to Akiko, our wedding planner, we found that we could afford to do the plated option (which both Will and I thought would make the evening go smoother) -- with the foods of our choice! Yay!

We decided to go with the Portuguese bean soup (Island fave) with the Waimea Greens salad and some delicious selections for entrees.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Will's 29th Birthday, Oahu, Hawaii

Lauren treated me to a fantastic birthday yesterday.  Spent the morning with a book, spent the afternoon diving, spent the evening eating amazing food.  Birthdays don't get much better than this!

The dives were the best Oahu dives we've done.  Started at Koko Crater, which we had dived before.  Mostly notable for lots of sea turtles.  Quite a few colorful fish as well.  The second dive was along the dramatic Portlock cliffs.  Great underwater rock formations the made it feel as if you were flying through canyons.  Saw a white-tipped reef shark, two eels, an octopus, lots of fish, and many more turtles.

Dinner was at Alan Wong's, which was a new place for both me and Lauren.  The Internet in its vast wisdom has decided that this is a great place to eat, and the Internet is never wrong.  Possibly the best lamb I've ever had, sitting in a raspberry reduction:

Also had a wine flight, well-paired with the lamb.  Menu was inscribed with a birthday message and signed by all the staff.  Dessert was a nice touch too:

Just a wonderful birthday all around.  Thanks to everyone who called, emailed, wall-scribbled, tweeted, and otherwise wished me well.  I'm happy to have been born!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Invitations - Hurray for Letterpress!

Yesterday before the Michael Chabon event I stopped by at Hello!Lucky which is luckily (ha!) located in San Francisco.  The offices looked just like the website with vintage cloth, lots of wood furniture, and beautiful colorful letterpress all over the place.

My favorite letterpress design was an orchid print in purple and grey.  The invitations will look like this:

Lots of texture in the paper because of the letterpress technique.  I took home lots of samples, both letterpress and digital, and showed Will the difference.

To save money and stay in budget, I think we're going to do letterpress invitations, digital response cards, and everything else I will design myself based on the orchid and montsuki theme developed for the Save the Dates.  The only problem is that I only have a 30-day trial subscription to Adobe Illustrator, which I am using to design the collateral, so I need to design everything fast!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Save the Dates!

Today I created our Save the Dates. Publications (Betsy's word from her marketing background: "collateral") will feature purple orchid silhouettes:

To contrast with the orchids, I created a "logo" that combines the montsuki of the Uyeshiro and Leong family with the orchid theme and Will's Chinese name characters:

I think it's quite pretty.

The Save the Dates are being printed and will come out soon.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Contract is Done!

After months of negotiating, we finalized the contract on Saturday, November 7, 2009. Mom was in San Francisco to attend the Urban Land Institute and so all three of us -- Will, Mom, and I -- were in the same place to get it done. Hurray!

Thanks to Mom for being such a conscientious reader and analyzer.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Renaissance Fair and Star Wars in Concert

Pretty amazing weekend, all filled with folks in costumes.

Saturday: Renaissance Faire. All the turkey drumsticks, amazing costumes, pewter goblets you could imagine. Also many, many womens' well-endowed chests. It was unlike anything I've seen before. We were thinking it would be interesting to go with Ed Iskandar to check it out -- it's like everyone got together to do a mutual improv, complete with costumes and sets. It was an interesting endeavor at surround theater.

We started with watching the joust and walking around, then picked up some falafel and gyro's (of all things). Here's the tent of "dragons" -- e.g. giant lizards with snakes and turtles -- and a little girl in period dress holding one of the snakes (which neither Will nor I was interested in doing):

Here's Will in front of this fantastic juggler we saw, named BrooN:

He was a great juggler and very funny.  Next year: we dress up.

Today we saw Star Wars in Concert at the San Jose HP Pavillion. It was pretty cool -- a full symphony orchestra and choir, with the guy who played C3PO narrating. Laser lights, balls of fire and smoke, and a huge screen perfectly timed with the orchestra to show scenes from all six of the movies.

Probably the best part of the Star Wars concert was the people and community -- the same could be said of the Ren Faire. Adults and kids dressed up like Storm Troopers or Ewoks. Lots of t-shirts.

There was stuff from the movies out on display. Here's Will in front of the Hans Solo frozen statue thing:

Let's just hope that Harrison Ford is not still in there.  Here's me in front of Chewbaca:

Great fun.  We had a great day.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Eugenie + Vishal's Wedding: Auntie Donna's Perfect Bride TV Show

This is awesome -- getting ready at the salon before the ceremony. One of the best parts of the day!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

We're Engaged!

Yesterday the sun was high in the clear Marin sky as we drove across the Golden Gate Bridge.  Will had promised me a surprise that afternoon and as we continued further and further north all of my guesses about where we could be headed were foiled.  Finally we turned off of 101 towards Tiburon, passing the still waters of the bay, and headed up a hill.

The grasses on the hill were golden and dry and made a whooshing sound when the wind went through them.  We arrived just two minutes after four o'clock, right after closing, but it did not matter -- the church stood small but pretty on the ridge of the hill.  Old Saint Hilary's was small, white, wooden, and old with a modest gold-painted wooden cross at its top.  A woman in a family also visiting the church explained to us that Old Saint Hilary's sits amidst a wildflower preserve, some bright and common such as the California poppy, and some very rare, such as the flower that is to be found nowhere else in the world: the Tiburon Mariposa Lily ("It's small and quite ugly," the woman said).  Church preservationists decorated the plain wooden pews inside Old Saint Hilary's with needlepoint pieces depicting the wildflowers, but the church was closed and locked, so we did not see.

We sat for a while on the rock steps before picking our way on the paths through the golden grasses.
Coming back to the church, the family had left, so we savored the moment to ourselves.  Then quite suddenly Will was on his knee holding a lovely ring, golden vines and diamond leaves and berries.   We promised to be with one another for the rest of our lives, and I was surprised to find that this thought was an easy, natural one.  We laughed, and kissed each other, and were momentarily stunned by what we had just done.  Then we looked once more over the golden hill, the white church, the blue ocean and felt so fortunate to have one another.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

OSF Day 3: Macbeth and Don Quixote

We awoke once again to the dulcet smells of Dean's cooking at the Blue Moon Bed and Breakfast.  Today it was an apricot bake with the usual fresh squeezed orange juice, coffee, fresh fruit.  Again I went looking for Ty, his doggie.  Here's a picture of Will in front of the Blue Moon:

Then off to find Ed and friends.  Many of the Stanford theater crowd had come into town and were staying at a youth hostel on Main Street.  Ed made a spicy egg scramble with mushrooms and red peppers and chicken sausage, and it was delicious.  We ate our second breakfast and then took off to wonder more around Ashland before our 2:00 matinée.

Several of the nice people at the Blue Moon had recommended trying the trail nearby the creek, so we walked through the park to a lovely wide trail, and found a romantic bench overlooking the creek:

Then we had to take off to see Macbeth.  The play was well done, with a strong Lady Mac and abstract, post-atomic-bomb-esque sets, including a twisted, melted staircase and most striking, iron cast statues of people caught in muck lining the edge of the stage.  Macbeth is not a light play, as some fairly brutal murders take place (including the killing of a young child on stage), and I left it feeling dark and somewhat disgusted.  Will liked it, however, because of all the fight choreography, even though we both agreed that the actor playing the main role did too much shouting.

Between the matinée and the preview for Don Quixote we called Ed, who told us to meet the group at Alex's, a cute bar/restaurant on the plaza square.  When we got there the Stanford group had moved on to start cooking dinner, but Ed recommended we try Alex's famous Bloody Mary's.  We sat on the porch overlooking the square and sipping our Bloody Mary's, which Will said was quite a production including two different types of ground peppers, olive juice, and other ingredients as well as the tomato juice and vodka:

It was spicy, tangy, and perfect.  When we finished the Bloody Mary's, we headed again to the hostel to eat dinner with Ed and his crew.  We were excited to meet Eddie, who had played the teenage boy Danny (?) in the Music Man production we saw yesterday, at dinner with us.  Eddie had given the preview for Don Quixote in the past, so he gave us some of the information that he knew.

Will and I still sped off to make the 6:30 preview information about Don Quixote.  It is a novel written by a middle-aged gentleman (I think both Cervantes and the fictional Quixote were in their fifties at the time of the novel) and this play version contemplates the life that Cervantes led as well as Quixote.  Cervantes had a father who was a barber; he fought as a soldier and crippled his left hand valiantly in a naval battle; his ship was captured by pirates and he was sold into slavery; he came back to Spain and worked as a tax collector and other random jobs.  The OSF version of Don Quixote featured Cervantes as a mysterious character that continued to show up through the play, and it was great to know the information about his life ahead of time so that we could figure out that each of the fact tidbits about Cervantes in the play were based on biographical information.

Following the preview, we had some time to kill, so we went to a cafe for some coffee and fruit pie:

We are chugging our way through Independent People, an Icelandic book by Halldor Laxness, and we read out loud to each other while sipping our coffee and munching on our pies.  Then still with some time to kill, we found a trendy, friendly wine bar called Liquid Assets, where we had a glass of wine before heading into the evening show.

Don Quixote we both agreed was by far our favorite show of the six, which was great because we finished on a high point.  It featured the extensive use of ingenious puppets to set the scene, to include animals (such as vultures, owls, ducks) to set the mood of the play, and to delightfully represent the "foes" that Don Quixote defeats.  For example, OSF made a flock of sheep out of socks (think: sock stuffed with another sock to add weight, and then attached by the top to the frame so that the fleece all moved with the puppet).  When Don Quixote mistook the flock of sheep for attacking armies and slaughters them, the puppeteers turned the sheep upside down, revealing red socks beneath the white socks -- dead sheep.  The creativity involved in creating windmills, donkeys, the horse, and The Enchanter (a symbol for Don Quixote's fear of failure and of death) reminded me of The Lion King -- creative, ingenious, and charming.

The bottom line, however, is that I cared for Don Quixote.  I was concerned through the entire play that they would kill him at the end (which Ed said should have happened), and was delighted that they found another way of tying up the story.  I am a sucker for stories about people who believe in their dreams, and Don Quixote is always kind, always chivalric, and always just.

It was supposed to rain today, but it held off all day and just started sprinkling in the last scene of the play.  How perfect.

Friday, June 19, 2009

OSF Day 2: The Music Man and Henry VIII

Another gorgeous day in Ashland.  Woke for 9am family-style breakfast at the Blue Moon bed and breakfast.  Our host, Dean, is also a great breakfast chef, and this morning he served up an Italian fritatta with fruit, fresh-baked bread, juice, and coffee.  The bread was a real hit with me, well-seasoned with herbs and well-dolloped with berry preserves.

A lazy morning around the bed and breakfast as I read my book and Lauren blogged away.  She took short breaks to meet all the little dogs that are staying here at the moment.  We also napped to regain some energy after multiple late nights and early mornings in a row.

Eventually, we wandered into downtown Ashland, browsed through a few shops, and settled on Munchies for lunch.  A simple sandwich place that nailed our main requirement of getting us fed and out the door in plenty of time to make our 2pm play.

The first play of the day was The Music Man.  To my surprise, Lauren hadn't seen the show and wasn't familiar with the story.  Luckily for her, this was a top-notch production.  Great use of visual cues (the town's accents and their whole wardrobe changed gradually from black-and-white to vibrant colors over the course of the play), a very strong actor and singer playing the role of Harold Hill, and overall a very sincere -- even serious -- approach to this lighthearted show.  The only weak link was Marion, who was a triple threat (couldn't sing, dance, or act).  The flatness of the love story between this Harold and this Marion gives Lauren something to look forward to in future productions, I guess.

The show ended around 4:30, and we had an odd bit of time to kill before the 6:30pm "preface" for our next show, Henry VIII.  At Ed's recommendation, we went to Standing Stone Brewing Co.  It was too late for lunch and too early for dinner, but just the right time for Lauren to discover her "favorite beer to date," their Honey Cream Ale.  We snacked on beer and pretzels and edamame beans and the sound of the Ashland Creek burbling beside us.

Stole some time in the park to read from the Icelandic masterpiece, Independent People, before we made our way back to the theater complex for the Henry VIII preface, or as Lauren seemed to take it, "the nap."  Learned many details of history and of the play (very different things, it turns out), which would prove valuable in following along this evening.  Surprised to hear that Henry was actually a devout Catholic early in life, author of treatises on papal authority, and bearer of the title "Defender of the Faith."  In Shakespeare's play at least, his first divorce is at least partly motivated by genuine concern that Henry and Catherine may have broken God's law by marrying after Catherine's first husband (Henry's brother Arthur) died.

Another odd hour and a half of down time between the preface and the play itself.  Strolled down Main St. to Zoey's Cafe, which seemed as nice a place as any to sip a coffee and read more Independent People.  I'm loving this book. Lauren warns: "don't open this book if you don't like sheep."  Lauren then discovered her favorite part of Ashland, the kettle corn stand just next door to the theater complex:

The play itself was written at the very end of Shakespeare's career, at a time when pageantry and spectacle were big draws to the theater.  Lots of fighting, lots of fantasy, lots of people and lots of ornate costumes onstage.  Strong performances all around, including many faces that were now familiar to us from the other plays this week.  (Harold Hill rocking an early monologue as Buckingham, for example.  Fun!)  We continued the Ed Iskandar tradition of enjoying a nice bottle of port under the stars and in front of the stage.

Henry VIII is widely considered one of the more problematic plays.  As the man running the preface delicately put it, this is because "It's not terribly well-written, it's likely at least half written by Fletcher, and it has no real plot."  And those problems were certainly present.  But we were impressed at how well this production had been cut, and at how well the play succeeded as a propaganda piece.  (It was originally written to be performed for Henry's grandson King James).

After the show, we walked to the Ashland Hostel for a kitchen conversation with Ed and Sonja.  We debriefed on the plays, made plans for the next day, and then quickly stepped home for some welcome sleep.

Impressions of Ashland so far: beautiful landscape that could easily be a slightly taller version of the Berkeley hills.  Main streets that are reminiscent of a whiter, slightly hippy-er Palo Alto.  Friendly people.  Lots of trees.  And of course, Shakespeare names everywhere (staying in the Midsummer Night room, snacking on the Brutus sandwich, walking by the Best Western Bard's Inn, etc.).  We hypothesize that anyone who doesn't like Shakespeare probably doesn't last long in this town and simply heads for the hills.

OSF Day 1: Equivocation and Much Ado

Last Christmas, Will gave me a card that said, "Merry Christmas!  Let's go to Oregon!"  I was excited, but it seemed so far in the future.  Six months passed quickly, and now in June 2009, we sit here in our adorable Blue Moon Bed and Breakfast with our hospitable innkeeper, his dog Ty, and the new friends that we met over breakfast.

Yesterday we drove up from California to Oregon.  We woke early in the morning to have some quiet time before the long drive. Will sat at the meditation center across the street, and I went for a quiet morning run.  Then we stopped for breakfast at our favorite bagel shop -- cheese and eggs and sausage/ham on our bagels -- and got on the road.

Here is a picture of the two of us starting out.  Thank you to Will for using his car and for driving.  Note Will's extra cool sunglasses:

We drove up 101 to 80, then went to the East Bay, crossed the Bay Bridge, and came up to I-5.  On the 250 mile drive on I-5 we spent the time listening to the light, delightful character sketches by Spider Robinson.  I was dubious because it was another one of Will's sci-fi books, but like most of the sci-fi stuff he has shared with me, this one was actually quite good.  We passed by the beautiful Mount Shasta as we headed further and further north:

Finally we arrived in Ashland.  Southern Oregon is temperate and beautiful this time of year, sunny but still cool.  The trees are so thick and lush here that it makes me think of the East Coast -- covering the hills in green and growing above and between houses.  The town of Ashland is pretty and full of Shakespeare references, like "Puck's Donut Shop" or "All's Well," where you can pick up herbs or vitamins.

We reached the theater parking lot a mere half an hour before the show started, so Will and I switched into tag-team mode to get everything done before our first matinée.  Will went to pick up the tickets while I headed for Allison's Gourmet Wine and Deli shop to pick up a sandwich for the starving Will.  Luckily for Will, the box office went quickly, but I got stuck in the pre-performance crowd of stressed-out theatergoers who were hassling the bewildered blonde sandwich boy, trying to make him get their lunches faster.  With ten minutes to go before the start of the play, we opted for a potato soup and a red pepper soup instead of sandwiches, and desperately spent two minutes sipping it standing outside of the theater before regretfully putting the caps back on and going in to sit down.  The play started right on time.

The first matinée we saw was Equivocation by Bill Cain.   The play mainly explored two plot lines: 1. whether Shakespeare, the main character of the play, should buckle to the government and write propaganda, or uphold his responsibility to tell the truth; and 2. whether Shakespeare would reconcile with his daughter Judith, who was the twin sister of the son Hamnet that he lost when the boy was 11 (often this child is thought to be the emotional basis for the play Hamlet).

The more prominent theme of the play was how to tell the truth in a time of great danger, and ultimately Cain's answer to that question is through equivocation -- by careful wordsmithing and through storytelling, which can tell the heart of the truth but can change the specifics of the facts.  All in all it was a fairly dark play, with a terrifying 1984-esque government under King James and his head crone, the bad guy Robert Cavell (?) that would periodically torture people (of course, not calling it torture) in fairly graphic scenes.

Will, Ed, and I had a great time debriefing the play.  Will thought that the allusions to the modern era were heavy-handed; I thought it was fun (and in comparison to the Amy Freedman political plays that Ed did with Stanford, not as obvious).  We talked about the widespread use of Shakspearean allusions as creating an in-group and out-group (e.g., it is exclusive), but if that sort of thing will fly anywhere, here is the place.  In general we thought a lot about how artifice in plays (allusions and "witty" writing) can either add or detract from the experience of the story.  All in all, a great and fun play with an ending scene that lets the viewer down.

Then off to Ed's place for dinner, a spicy chicken sausage and red pepper dish that was amazing.  We caught up on Ed's time in Indonesia.

The evening show was Much Ado About Nothing, with fantastic seats in the Shakespearean Globe theater.  Will got spectacular seats, and we cuddled together beneath the starry night that we could see over the stage rooftops of the theater.

It was fun, as always, but I have to say that each time I see the play, I have less and less patience for the characters' constant and central debate over Hero's virginity.  This play sparked a discussion of what ages well and does not age well in Shakespeare.  My conclusion after our discussion is that the tragedies tend to age better (in fact, I connected better with Much Ado when it dipped into tragedy mode), and the humor is just so hard to play right.  It was a very beautiful, professional production, but I did not fall in love with the characters.  Luckily I was sitting in a very romantic theater under the stars with a very romantic play, and of course the very romantic Will Robinson.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Wilcox Graduation

Yesterday I went to the graduation of my students at Wilcox High School.  I had a lot invested in that class.  The students that I taught as freshman my first year of teaching were going off to college!
Two students in particular I had taught for three years -- their freshman, sophomore, and junior years.  I saw one of them, Osama, at the graduation -- he was a smaller kid in high school, but shot up sophomore and junior year, and by the end of senior year he's tall, confident, well spoken.  I am so proud of him.  Two other young men who were bemoaning being short as juniors have shot up and now towered over me.  It was amazing.  
I am so proud of my students, and the love for those young people was so clear in the huge mass of people standing and listening to the whole ceremony.  There is a Sarah Vowell short story that describes the love of a parent as the little check marks that the father puts next to each band song in a concert, sitting through each rendition of "What Do You Do With a Drunken Sailor" because he loves his daughter.  Graduation was similar.  Despite the faulty sound system, the 500 names read out loud in rapid recession, the shaky notes of the band climbing towards the climax of "Land of the Free," and the two helicopters that flew over the field during the valedictorian speech, we were so proud of our youth.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Andrea Bocelli Concert!

Will said he had a surprise for me on Saturday, and I was so excited all week!  We ate dinner in Mountain View and then hopped onto the freeway.  I thought we would head up to San Francisco, but to my surprise we headed south towards San Jose and ended up at HP Pavillion.  Will told me to close my eyes when we got there, so the first thing I saw was a big SUV truck.

Getting out of the car, I looked around at the other people going into the venue with us.  They were mostly middle-aged, and dressed well ... and then I saw one with a dog on her sweater and thought, Great!  A dog show -- I'm so excited!

Getting closer to the ticket booth, however, I saw a flashing screen saying, "Andrea Bocelli."  Hurray!  I have loved Andrea Bocelli for such a long time, including listening to his CD of "Time to Say Goodbye" over and over again.  Now I would be seeing him in person.

We entered the venue, picked up some wine, and found our seats.  HP Pavillion is huge, and it was filled to the brim.  The orchestra played an opening piece, and then Andrea Bocelli entered the stage.

Of course there was thunderous applause.  Bocelli sang an aria, and from the moment he began singing it was clear that he is the real deal, completely deserving of all the hype.  His voice filled the entire arena, and he hit the higher notes with ease.  I was impressed by his control over his voice.

Bocelli was accompanied by a soprano who could hit incredible notes.  It made me think about an NPR article I heard once that said that sopranos and tenors were like the sporting events of their day, with face-offs between two sopranos across town from one another, each trying to outdo the other in their arias.  This soprano would have won.  Clearly.

Then a flautist who played the Bumblebee, and a Broadway singer who sang a pop song with Bocelli that turned the Pavillion into a rock concert (this was my favorite part -- the rock really filled and matched the venue).  Bocelli finished the concert on the second or third encore with "Time to Say Goodbye," which made me feel so happy.

It was a wonderful evening.  Thank you, honey.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Weekend Adventures

Ridiculous adventures this weekend as my parents and sister and her boyfriend visited us in Mountain View.  Ashley and Scott came up from Los Angeles late Friday night, and stopped only for some quick pho before crashing at our apartment -- a long drive!

The next morning, Mom and Dad arrived early and called us for breakfast.  Will was already up having risen early for meditation.  We ate at Oregano's Woodfire Pizza, which amazingly began serving breakfast recently.  A good find in an area without many breakfast options.  Mom and Dad and Will all had breakfast burrito's.  I had chocolate pancakes -- Yay!

Then back to the house to pick up Ash and Scott, and we were off to Napa before 9:30 AM.  Arrived at Viansa , where Anna and Nathan got married, and enjoyed the beauty of the place even through the 11:00 fog.  After tasting a few wines, Dad picked up a 2005 Ossidiana, with a great smell because of its exceptionally long aging in oak casks.  You could really smell it.

We were done with Viansa much earlier than expected and no one was hungry for the picnic lunch that I had planned there.  We moved on to the Sonoma town square where a "Wine and Jazz" event was in full swing.  After some time meandering through the boutique shops, we found a Himalayan restaurant with a live jazz band playing in front.

Then more strolling through the square (including a stop for ice cream and another to pick up a necklace for Gina) and we were off again, headed for Sterling Vineyards.  Signature attraction is the air tram that takes visitors from the ticket booth up to the winery.  Sterling served white wines as we moved through the exhibits explaining the wine making process, and which culminated in a beautiful terrace with great views and more ... white wine.  Then into the tasting room where we sampled red wines and the dessert wine, including a Malvasia Bianca, which was our favorite.

Then back on the tram to our cars, and we headed for dinner.  Auberge du Soleil has a fantastic restaurant that sits on a terrace overlooking the vineyards in the valley.  We sat and watched the sun set.  When it got too windy and people started getting cold, they brought out lovely pashminas to keep us warm.

The next day we drove back to Mountain View and set up for Gina and Lauren's birthday party.  We grilled burgers, hung out, and talked about Arnar and Solveig's beautiful kids.  Best of all was the pink and rainbow unicorn pinata that Gina brought.  Arnar and Solveig's kids got a chance to hit at it, and so did I, but Gina beheaded it in one mighty blow.

It was a great party.  We were pretty tired at this point, but Mom, Ash, and Scottie still had the energy to go to Santa Clara for a professional women's soccer game.  Mom got to see Marta Vieira da Silva, her soccer idol, whom Mom says is the best woman soccer player in the world.

Meanwhile, Dad and I both took a nap, while Will played Wii Cheer with Gina, Vishal, Vivian, and Anthony. The game was on the Wii and was Gina's new birthday present.  Hopefully we'll get some videos up at some point  :)

Then we closed the day with ... Go Kart racing!  We were all pretty tired, but immediately perked up when we saw the go-carts.  Whizzing around the track was great fun, and Albert scored in the 99.77th percentile of all racers ever at the Go Kart place.

Today we went to Joanie's for breakfast, had a quick tour of Stanford to show Scottie, and said good bye.  What an amazing time!  It was such a treat to have a birthday party with Mom, Dad, Ash, Scottie, Will, and Gina all there.  I only wish Grammy, Grampa, Kung Kung, and Shirley could have been there as well.  Hopefully another draft of this post will go out, with pictures this time!


Love, Lauren

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Pot Roast, Artichokes

Busted out the old crock-pot and made a pot roast with "Italian seasoning," which apparently means garlic and tomatoes.  Bill and Albert joined us for a Strongbadia reunion of sorts...

Unlike other crock-pot recipes we've tried, this one didn't give detailed instructions about the order of ingredients.  Unfortunately, the potatoes ended up a little undercooked as a result, though the meat was cooked well and very tasty.  Lauren's lovely steamed artichokes saved the meal and earned us the thumbs-up.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Turkey patties, cranberry sauce, green salad

Secret is instant mashed potato flakes coating the outside of the patties before you cook them:

Friday, May 8, 2009

Surprise pasta dinner (cousin Sam edition)

Sam and I were going to have some late-night pho or ramen after seeing Star Trek last night, but when we popped home to see if Lauren wanted to join, it turned out she'd been cooking enough pasta for all of us and invited us to have some.  Delicious pasta with sausage, mushrooms, zuchinni, and some sherry.

Lauren made the recipe up with what was on hand, which always amazes me.  She acknowledges her debt to Uncle Chuck, for showing just how important sherry is in a pasta sauce.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Grammy's Quilt for Soren

When Grammy said that she wanted to send something to Soren, I knew it was going to be special. When we opened up the box, Will and Albert and I could hardly believe our eyes. She had made an Activity Quilt, colorful animals to teach Soren motor skills such as doing buttons and tying ribbon and zipping:

Gram had made such a quilt in book form for Ashley and I, but I noticed that some of the pieces were new, especially the bear holding the balloons with Soren's name and birthday:

also the mini-version of my beloved Pop-Pop and Pop-Pop's Babies, shown here with the original Pop-Pop (try not to be too grossed out -- Pop-Pop is older than I am and much loved):

Finally I noticed that Gram had put little messages of her love for the new baby in details such as the tongue of the crocodile, hidden unless you zip open the mouth:

It is such a beautiful, loving, and creative piece. I know Gram did this all by hand and can't get over how wonderful it is.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Drunken Spaghetti and Broccoli+Leek Soup

A turn toward the adventurous for us, as we made a "drunken spaghetti" recipe which required cooking spaghetti in two bottles(!) of red wine.  Also in the mix were some grated beets, Swiss chard, and a few other goodies.  Accompanied by some simple, tasty, broccoli and leek soup: