Sunday, January 26, 2014

Sleepy in Seattle

 More like EXHAUSTED in Seattle as I write this.

Eldest Daughter and I are up here overnight. We flew in this morning and made the most of a sunny winter day in the Pacific Northwest.

I have to say, an iPhone and map app make driving in an unfamiliar city so much easier than the good 'ole days of reading the map they hand you at the rental car counter. Add to it an eager co-pilot and it's about as unstressful as it gets.

It's been 15 years since I've been to Seattle. It's still beautiful. The water. The boats. The mountains. The skyline. We started off at Pike Place Market and satisfied someone's quest to find the original Starbucks. From there we went into the market proper and sat down to a late lunch with a view far and west. After lunch we explored more of the market and saw the fishmongers throwing purchased fish prior to packaging it.

Next on our list was the observation deck at the top of the Space Needle, built for in 1962 for the World's Fair. I'd forgotten that the Chihuly Garden is in Seattle and fortunately for me, it's adjacent to the Space Needle at Seattle Center. That's worth a post all by itself. I think this picture is my favorite from today. Eldest Daughter and I are reflected in the glass along with the Space Needle.
Seattle seems to have a big commitment to art in public spaces. One of the most interesting things we saw were five solar powered flowers named Sonic Bloom at the Seattle Center. The 40' tall flowers absorb the sun's energy during the day then use it at night to light up and sing. 
The original Nordstrom was our final stop and now we're in our hotel room eating takeout from Maggiano's. I have meetings tomorrow morning and then we have a tour of UW. Crazy! And by crazy I mean both the pace of this quick trip following last night's dance competition and that Eldest Daughter is interested in going to school here.


Sunday, January 12, 2014

The right side of the grass.

That's where I am these days, fortunately. So is Leon Malmed although it very well could have been different.

I recently saw him speak to the fifth and sixth grade classes at our temple. I'd never seen a Holocaust survivor speak and wanted to hear one first-hand because it won't be long until they are on the other side of the grass. I also wanted to hear what my children were told because although one can teach their children about the horrors of the Holocaust, hearing a first-hand account is much different than reading The Diary of Anne Frank.

Leon was just two years old when the Nazis entered their French apartment and took away his parents, leaving him and his older sister in the care of their neighbors. It took Leon the next thirty years to find out that his mother died in transit to Auschwitz and that his father lived until six months before war ended. I find it disturbing that the Nazis kept such detailed records however it did give closure to many families, as miserable as the facts were.

Leon told his story, which had many lessons in it. Jews talk about the Holocaust for many reasons. Because people still deny that six million of us perished during it. Because it was wrong, just plain wrong on so many levels. And because we must make sure it never happens again. He challenged this group of children to consider that people don't set out to be heroes but that sometimes, in the course of everyday life, the things they do cause them to become heroes.

The neighbors that took in Leon and Rachel raised them alongside their two older sons, sharing food rations, schooling them and becoming their family in spite of the risks associated with harboring Jews. Because of the promise Henri and Suzette Ribouleau made to the elder Malmeds (only in their 20s when they were taken to Auschwitz), Leon and Rachel grew up, married, and had families of their own. Henri and Suzette were honored at Yad Vashem, the Israeli Holocaust Mount of Remembrance. Leon and Rachel along with their families and the Ribouleau family, attended the tree planting together.

Leon grew up in Compiegne, France, a village much like the ones our family seeks out on vacation. He showed us pictures of the adorable village prior to the German occupation. And then after it. I close my eyes and picture cute French villages and even the Marais in Paris, which is so Jewish now, with Jews being forced to wear yellow stars on their armbands. It's hard to stomach.

I recently read an article that contained statistics about which countries Americans like. Germany ranked fairly high up there. I wonder how many Germans remain anti-Semitic. Can a Jew ever feel truly comfortable in Germany?

Saturday, January 4, 2014

The beach in winter.

There wasn't a lot of snow at Tahoe the week of Christmas. Sure, we skied but the conditions read more April than December.

One of my clients lives up at the lake full-time and she suggested meeting at the Commons Beach one afternoon with all of our kids. I would never have thought to go to the beach in the winter. And The Pinks were dead against it. Until we got there, that is.

The beach was covered in snow and ice, which made for fun slipping and sliding. Not surprisingly, the kids were drawn to the water's edge and were fascinated with the transition from ice to water. The beach resembled tide pools, actually. I shot a lot of pictures -- the whole scene was beautiful and something I hadn't planned to see since we rarely leave Squaw during ski season.

Our kids ran around on the playground and then we headed to Syd's for a late lunch of smoothies and bagels.

An unexpected treat.