Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Kitsap Forest Theater

It's summer! One of my favorite things to do in the summer back in Oakland was to pack a picnic and watch cheesy musicals at the local outdoor amphitheater. I really miss that place! So when I saw a flyer for Kitsap Forest Theater, I knew I had to check it out. This past weekend we made the trip to see my very favorite musical, Fiddler on the Roof.

We had a crazy busy morning and barely caught the ferry to Bremerton, but made it to the Kitsap Forest Theater in plenty of time to buy tickets, snacks, and rent cushions for the terraced earth seats. There were hot dogs, chips, and candy for sale, but we were really jealous of the elaborate picnic lunches some of the other patrons had brought with them. It's a good thing I ate a big breakfast. In short, I think taking the time to pack a nice picnic lunch is definitely mandatory for next time. The trail down to the theater opens at 1 p.m., and the shows start at 2 p.m.

The winding path through the woods to the amphitheater was lovely, and charmingly decorated with vignettes from the play. A men's hat with a bottle on it, a wedding canopy, a set of glasses for toasting l'chaim....

The day was pretty sunny, but the surrounding fir trees provided shade so the temperature was perfect. I imagine it would be pretty miserable in the rain, though!

And the play! Well, the singing and dancing definitely wasn't the best ever, but it was enjoyable nonetheless. I cried when the cast sang "Sunrise, Sunset" during Motel and Tzeitel's wedding. I cried when the Russians disrupted the wedding and ruined their gifts. I cried when Hodel took the train to Siberia to join Perchik. I cried when Tevye says Chava is dead to them because she married outside of the Jewish faith. And of course I cried when the villagers were forced to leave Anatevka. I've seen this movie and play so many times that I can practically recite it word for word. (And I recognized every time the play script deviated from the movie one.) You'd think my familiarity with the plot would make me less sensitive to it, but it actually seems to work the opposite way!

After the play, we hiked down to see the "Big Tree," one of the oldest trees on the Kitsap Peninsula. The hike was fairly strenuous, but just 13 minutes each way. If you've seen a lot of redwood trees, you might not be that impressed, but it is a big, tall tree.

Anyway, after the hike and a stop at Dairy Queen, we caught the ferry back to Seattle. It was well past dinner time when we were back in the city, so seeing a play at the Kitsap Forest Theater is definitely an all-day event for us. Even so, we're going to try to return for the next production there: Footloose, showing on July 28-29 and August 4-5 11-12, and 18-19.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Tutankhamun treasures at Pacific Science Center

Even though I went to the King Tut exhibit in San Francisco a few years ago, when I heard that treasures from his tomb were making their last North American appearance here in Seattle, I felt like I needed to see them. Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaoh at the Pacific Science Center has more than 100 objects on display, most from King Tut's tomb along with other artifacts from ancient Egyptian history. Along with the throngs of others, I marveled at the craftsmanship of the jewelry and objects on display. Along with a 10-foot statue of the pharaoh found at the remains of the funerary temple of two of his high officials, the display includes the golden sandals that Tut's mummy was wearing, a toilet seat (first image below), a cat sarcophagus... Fascinating! The exhibit is on display through January 6, 2013.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Hosting guests from Japan

Ever since I began working for a Japanese company back in San Francisco, Oscar's been quite interested in Japan, and now he's been learning the language at school. And every year his school hosts students from Tokyo's Shukutoku Sugamo Middle School, so we signed up to be a host family for a weekend. It's a good way to get a taste of hosting exchange students, and it's just a three-night commitment. Chris met our students after school on Friday, they stayed through the weekend, and went back to school with Oscar on Monday morning.

In their suits and penny loafers, Koto and Ryunosuke looked strikingly different from the rumpled T-shirt-and-jeans-wearing kids at Hamilton. They were painfully shy, didn't smile, and either were too shy to speak or just didn't know very much English at all. Uh-oh.

I'd been thinking about them a lot before they got here, and asked everyone for ideas of what to do with them. I compiled a list of activities for each day and night, along with menus. I wanted to give them a good taste of typical American life.

Over the weekend, we ate pizza, salad, hamburgers, spaghetti, bacon and eggs, pancakes, and french toast, and lots of different fruits. We made s'mores on the barbecue grill. We ate on a barge on Lake Union at Ivar's Salmon House. To their credit, they tried some of everything that was offered to them. I'm not sure if they actually liked the food or if they were just being polite, but they ate a lot more than I thought they would! Judging from portion sizes, I'd say they definitely liked the watermelon and s'mores, but I guess 14-year-old boys eat a lot no matter what. When the kids were allowed to choose their own snacks from a museum cafe, they took a long time selecting what they wanted! They both picked ice cream cones and a soda. Ryunosuke's strawberry Fanta was too sweet, and I offered to get him a new drink. He took a long time picking out another one--finally deciding on peach tea--and got some disgusting nachos with fake cheese as well. Blech.

We took the boys canoeing on Lake Union, to the Ballard Locks, to see the King Tut exhibit at the Pacific Science Center, and we rode the monorail to Gameworks arcade downtown. They fell asleep often; they were still quite tired and jet-lagged even though they had been in Seattle for a few days before we met them. The only time they really seemed like they were relaxed and having fun was when they were playing videogames together. Oscar was able to play with them, and the language barrier seemed to evaporate.

All in all, in was frustrating trying to communicate with our guests, but I feel like maybe even if my Japanese was better and their English was better, they still might've felt too awkward to have conversations. I felt victorious every time we actually exchanged information. For example, I learned that Ryunosuke had been in the U.S. two times before, once when he was very small, and once to Portland. I learned that their favorite sight in Seattle was "downtown."

Oscar enjoyed having the kids stay with us, and wants to sign up to host again next year. It seems there are plenty of opportunities to host students in Seattle. If any Seattleites are interested in hosting a Japanese student, Azumano International is looking for 50+ more families to host students this summer for one- to three-week stints. (The kids will attend ESL classes at UW or SPU in the morning and do sightseeing and cultural activities with their class in the afternoons.) If you're interested, contact Megan or Sharon at seattle.edu@azumano.com.