Seder Plate

Years ago Kathlyne and Ross invited Joey and me to celebrate the Passover Seder with them. I want to say it was the spring of 2000, but I could be wrong.

Celebrating Passover became a tradition. Joey and I would go up to Fort Worth, or Kat and Ross would come down to Austin. We invited others to join us over the years. Sujata, Troy, Christinne, Kay, Lindsay, Don, Misty, Brian, Robert, Laura, Jason, and probably some other folks I am forgetting joined us one year or another.

When Ross and Kat got married in January 2001, I found a beautiful crystal Seder plate. It was awesome. We used it for many years. Then, one sad day, the Seder plate was minding its own business on a shelf in Ross and Kat’s house, and a huge truck came down the street. The vibrations from the truck caused the plate to “walk” to the edge of the shelf, and then it crashed to the ground. This is how I recall the story, but I wasn’t there. Kat will have to correct me if I got anything wrong. We were all very sad, and I have looked and looked for another crystal plate like that one, but I have never seen anything like it!

Naturally we continued celebrating the Passover Seder without the plate. A white and gold china plate that Joey and I got as a wedding gift stood in as the Seder plate. If I am remembering correctly, the first year without the crystal Seder plate was the same year that Misty and Brian joined us for the Seder for the first time. Kat and I shared the story of the Seder plate (after all, Passover is about recounting stories, even if this one is a little off topic), and Misty was very sympathetic.

Fast forward a few years. Ross and Kat now live in Baltimore, and were not able to travel to Austin for Passover. Misty and Brian have continued to participate in our celebration.

Over the last few months, Misty has been talking about how much she would like to have a Seder plate made. She has a friend who is a potter, and Misty commissioned her to make the plate. While I knew of this plan, I was completely floored when Misty handed me a brown paper bag with a beautiful handmade Seder plate in it, and said it was a gift for me! I am very grateful to have my very own Passover Seder plate. I will keep a close watch out for a crystal plate for Kat and Ross, though!

Burke and Michele sitting in a tree…

I just got an e-mail from Burke, and I must tell the universe…  After ten years together, Burke and Michele got married on Sunday, 10 October 2010!

The opening line of his e-mail was, “Since 10/10/10 is 42 [in binary], it seemed like a good day to elope.  So we did! I *KNOW*! I was surprised, too!”

Congrats and best wishes to the newlyweds!


View from 31st floor of Sheraton Dallas
I dashed off to Dallas on Friday for the Society of Clinical Research Associates (SoCRA) Annual Conference, where I gave a presentation on Audit Readiness. The conference was really great, with many good speakers and interesting topics. I got to stay at the Sheraton Dallas Hotel, and had a room on the thirty-first floor!

An added benefit of the trip to Dallas was getting to hang out with Laura and Jason the day after their return from Amsterdam. I drove up to Denton to see them. Naturally I asked to go to Sweetwater for ceviche, and Beth Marie’s for ice cream. Reading that sentence, it dawns on me that beer, seafood, and ice cream sound like a terrible combination, but it is what I have whenever I go to Denton!  Beth Marie’s actually had Courthouse Pecan, which is my favorite of their ice creams.  They had been out of it my last couple of trips to Denton, so I was extremely pleased to get some!

I made it back to Austin in time for the All Saints’ Twenties and Thirties BBQ at Father Mike’s house. I am happy to say that Joey and I both plan to be in Austin through the end of 2010!

Play doh monsters

Kay and Daniel came to visit us yesterday.  We felt very lucky to see them before our trip to Amsterdam!  Daniel played with the blue ball, and zoomed his race car around on the floor.  He really got a kick out of making it drive under the couch, and then moving the couch.  He actually moved it on his own several times – strong kiddo!

Joey with his play-doh creation

At some point Kay pulled out the play doh that they had brought with them.  Joey, Kay, and Daniel all played with the play doh (I was finishing my breakfast so that I could go to work).  Joey made several sea creatures with his play doh.  We got some pictures before they disappeared into formless blobs once more.
I crush everything
Leviathan and Kraken

Delayed Shrug

Last summer I made Lee a shrug for her birthday. I almost finished an entire sleeve before I realized that it would be big enough for two of her. I ripped the whole thing out – this is called “frogging” in the knitting world because you rip it, rip it.  I started again, but was disheartened by the set back, and took a LONG time to finish it.  Her birthday is in July.  I finally delivered it in November.

Lee and Bamboo Shrug

The first time I saw her wear it I realized that the back was too broad.  This was my own fault.   I totally did not trust the pattern (in my defense, it had already lied once) or the measurements I had taken of Lee’s back.  I have a very broad back, and I just could not make myself believe that it was possible for a grown woman to have such a tiny frame.  I should have trusted the tape measure.  I convinced her to give the shrug back to me so that I could cut it apart, rip it back to be narrow enough for her, and sew the back seam again.  All of that happened fairly quickly, despite a major disagreement with the seam about whether or not it should be bumpy and weird, and I returned the shrug to Lee.

After all that work, I did not have a single picture of the thing!  Last night Lee modeled her shrug, and I got some photos.  You can see the details about the knitting aspects of the project on Ravelry. You can also check out pictures of more of my knitting projects in my Knitting Projects set on Flickr.

Bamboo Shrug

Notice that the sleeves are actually “too long” by ordinary standards.  That is by design at Lee’s request.  As if to make up for her impossibly narrow back, she was blessed with extremely long arms.  She was absolutely thrilled at the idea that the sleeves of ANYTHING would dangle over her hands.  The lace on these sleeves makes it especially nice.

Birthday Cake, aka – if you DO have a flame thrower…

Billy icing my birthday cake

Billy and Lee offered to host an early birthday dinner for me, since I will spend my birthday in Europe. We decided to combine the dinner with our regular Twenties and Thirties Design Team evening.

Misty, Brian, and their boys, Don, Lindsay, Eric, Daniel, Lee, Billy and Liam were all there. Misty made some fantastic appetizers: asparagus fritata, potato fritata and cheesy poofs (not their real name, but we have to go with the South Park reference). Billy and Lee cooked spare ribs. Lindsay and Don made a lovely spinach salad. We all took turns holding Liam. Don was the only person who got caught on film! He had a great time holding Liam, and actually said to Billy, “Why didn’t you all have a baby sooner, this is great!”
Don and Liam

Billy let me pick the kind of birthday cake I wanted. I picked chocolate cake with Italian meringue. Because the meringue is not strong enough to support cake layers, he added chocolate ganache between the layers. It was amazing! He actually used a flame thrower to finish the top of the cake.

More pictures from NY Trip – July 2010

5th and BroadwayJoey got all of his pictures from our trip to New York and Tanglewood uploaded to Flickr.

Lisa has also added more pictures to her NYC Staycation 2010 photo set on Flickr. Lisa’s pictures include some great photos of Laura singing at Tanglewood.

Tanglewood – Summer 2010

ldAndLauraAtTanglewood My sister, Laura, spent the summer at the Tanglewood Music Festival in Lenox, MA.  She was one of the handful of vocal fellows who were invited to participate in the festival.

During our time visiting Brooklyn, NY, Joey and I travelled with Lisa to Lenox, which is in the Berkshires.  Lisa commented that the trip to Tanglewood made our experience of New York City in the summer very authentic – extreme heat and humidity, several days of riding the subway and pounding the pavement, and then an escape to the much cooler country!

Tanglewood is an amazing place.  It has all kinds of musical artists: instramentalists, singers, composers, and conductors.  There are multiple venues and practice areas.  When we visited we were able to simply walk around the grounds and listen to the various rehearsals that were going on.  We got to hear Laura during her vocal coaching.  We also happened to be there on the right day to hear Yo-Yo Ma practicing with the orchestra.  Amazing!

hall We saw Laura sing a cycle of Cuban folk songs in a vocal recital.  She sang Luciano Berio’s Circles during the Festival of Contemporary Music.  We got to hear her practice this piece a little bit.  It is very modern and unusual, with bursts of vocalization.  She really got excited about performing something that was new and challenging.

Sadly we could not attend the performance, but she got rave reviews from the New York Times, which said, “And on Sunday Laura Mercado Wright, a mezzo-soprano, gave a stunningly agile account of Berio’s Circles, in which she occasionally played percussion (and provided gestural cues) as well.”  The Boston Musical Intelligencer, a virtual journal and blog of the classical music scene in Boston, also had good things to say, “Mercado-Wright may safely call this “her own” now with her masterful performance and the perfect voice for it: rich but not fat; a low range that speaks, and a high one that is graceful; and perfect diction for projecting words or sounds.”

As always I am so proud of all that Laura has accomplished.  I just cannot help bragging.

Brooklyn, New York – July 2010

Joey and I went to visit our cousins, Lisa and Tim, in Brooklyn, NY.  We also got to spend time with our dear friends, Burke and Michele.

We ate our way through New York, and walked across the rest of it (to make up for all the calories we ate).  Lisa actually took the week off work to show us around.  We fell in love with the Park Slope neighborhood in Brooklyn.  Tim and I took a Saturday morning jog in Prospect Park, which is just a few blocks from Tim and Lisa’s place.  We had a totally fantastic time!

Here are a few of the places we went:

We also visited a number of parks: Central Park, Prospect Park, Madison Square Park, Washington Square Park, Battery Park.

I only had the camera in my iPhone, but I did take a few pictures.  Lisa and Joey did an excellent job of cataloging our activities. Below are some links to my favorite pics in Lisa’s NYC Staycation 2010 Flickr photostream.  Joey took tons of pictures as well.  I am sure he will post them at some point….

LisaDiane and Joey in Central Park

Standing Lisa, Standing Woman with Hat in the Brooklyn Museum

Looking up at the ceiling installation of Kehinde Wiley’s “Go”

Five states in nine hours

mom-at-her-office I previously posted about a crazy drive around Texas, during which we were in three cities in fourteen hours.  Well, this past weekend I completely topped that when I went to see my mom and dad!  I started in Raleigh, North Carolina at around six in the morning.  I flew to Baltimore, Maryland, where my mom and dad picked me up.  We drove through Maryland and Virginia on the way Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, where my mom works.

I got to see Mom’s building, office, and classrooms.  We walked around Shepherstown, and had lunch in a nice tea shop.  I browsed through the shops on the main street before getting back in the car and driving toward Mom and Dad’s house.  We passed through Maryland again, and finally made it to Greencastle, Pennsylvania around 15:00 in the afternoon.  Five states in nine hours.

Dec, Jan, Feb 09-10 058 I had a great time getting to see Mom and Dad’s new place.  Dad showed me his projector and screen set-up.  We also checked out his amazing outdoor kitchen.  Dad grilled some fantastic steaks for dinner, and mom made sweet potatoes and sauteed spinach with leeks.  Yum!

The visit ended too soon, and I had to get back on a plane and head back to Raleigh for another week of work in North Carolina.