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D’var Torah for my Bat Mitzvah

June 15th, 2014 · by Cyndi · No Comments

This is the drosh, the Torah commentary, I wrote for my Bat Mitzvah on June 14, 2014.  My Torah portion was Sh’lakh L’kha, specifically Numbers 15:14-16.

I gave a shorter, and less technical version, at the actual service.  The only changes were to the genetics portion in the beginning (I also did not read anything in boxes).  Below is the full version, with appropriate links.

D’var Torah
Cyndi Norwitz
June 14, 2014

Today I am a woman!

Yesterday I was a woman. And the day before that. And so on back nearly 35 years. Still, today means something. It doesn’t change who I am physically, but it does change me.

Today I am a Jew!

I’ve been a Jew my whole life. So were my parents. And their parents. And their parents. And back as far as my genealogy hobby *cough* obsession can take me. Today though, I’m a different Jew. A year of study and the accomplishments of this ceremony mean something. I’m not more Jewish, but I am more Jewish.

The stories my family told me are that I am Jewish all the way back. DNA tests confirm that. 94-100% [spoken version: nearly 100%], depending on the algorithms. After the initial influx into Europe about 1-2000 years ago, Jews have been mostly marrying each other to the point that “Jewish” shows up as separate as Italian or Finnish. You can’t tell one Jew from another though. Even Ashkenazi vs Sephardic is hard. A Jew from Romania looks like a Jew from Latvia. We just moved around too much. When you look to see which populations this “Jewish” group matches best, it’s not other Europeans. It’s non-European Jews, Palestinians, Druse, and other folks from the Middle East.

One way to get more precise is to look at the paternal line (through Y-DNA) or the maternal line (through mt, or mitochondrial, DNA). Each of us gets our mtDNA from our mothers, and only women can pass it on. [Beginning of section I removed, see end of page for replacement text.]  Every generation gets exactly the same sequences. Except sometimes, every few thousand years, there is a mutation. Those mutations allow us to track groups through time by location.

Imagine two sisters. One has identical mtDNA to her mother and passes it on to her daughters, and their daughters. The other sister has a single letter in the DNA that is different, a mutation. She passes that on to her daughters and their daughters. Those two groups are related but no longer the same. Repeat the process over hundreds of generations and you will end up with dozens of groups, each differing from the other by a small handful of mutations. Some of the groups migrate, then split up and migrate again, and you end up with different mtDNA’s all over the world.

My mtDNA is U6a7a1b. The U’s were one of the early splits in human history, after a bunch of us left Africa 60-70,000 years ago. A group of U’s moved from Western Asia into Europe. About 35,000 years ago, U’s split up. The ones that stayed in Europe became the U5’s. U2’s moved into India. The ones that went back to Northern Africa are my people, the U6’s.

Over the next 30,000 years, the branch of my maternal ancestors split another 5 times, mostly within the Maghreb, Northern Africa west of Egypt. My branch became Jewish and eventually moved to Spain. With the Inquisition 500 years ago, this branch, now Sephardic, spread over Europe, back to Africa and the Middle East, and to the Americas. The furthest back I can take my maternal line, the line I have the least information about, is to my great grandmother Hermina Goldberger of Kosice, Slovakia. I am the only known U6a7a1b from Slovakia outside my immediate family. [end of section I removed]

Years before present
U6 35300
U6a 26200
U6a7 Maghreb 29000
U6a7a 7600
U6a7a1 4700
U6a7a1b Sephardic 1400
“On mtDNA grounds, it is known that after the Out of Africa migration around 59–69 kya [thousand years ago], the U branch of macro-haplogroup N spread radially from somewhere in western Asia around 39–52 kya. This reached Europe, signaled by haplogroup U5, North Africa by haplogroup U6, and India by haplogroup U2. Coalescence age for U5 correlates closely with the spread of Aurignac culture in Europe and, from an archaeological perspective, it has been argued that Central Asia, not the Levant, was the most probable origin of this migration.  In absolute agreement with this vision, we propose that, in parallel, U6 reached the Levant with the intrusive Levantine Aurignacian around 35 kya, coinciding with the coalescence age for this haplogroup.”From: The history of the North African mitochondrial DNA haplogroup U6 gene flow into the African, Eurasian and American continents. BMC Evolutionary Biology 2014

 

So how did my maternal ancestors become Jewish in the first place? One theory, not that we can ever prove or disprove it, is that we were part of the “mixed multitudes.” Torah, in Exodus 12:38, says that as the children of Israel left Pharaoh, “And a mixed multitude went up also with them; and flocks, and herds, even very much cattle.” The word for mixed multitude, עֵרֶב רַב (Erev’rav) even shares a root with Maghreb. Related also to words for west, evening, and mixed grill.

The mixed multitudes get a bad rap. We see the term again in Numbers 11:4 when the people had nothing but manna to eat. “And the mixed multitude that was among them fell a lusting; and the children of Israel also wept on their part, and said: ‘Would that we were given flesh to eat!’”

But are these the same people? “Mixed multitudes” in Exodus, sometimes translated as “rabble” or “many other people” or “hoard,” is עֵרֶב רַב (Erev’rav). But in Numbers it’s הָאסַפְסֻף (asafsuf), sometimes translated as “some foreigners,” “foreign rabble,” “contemptible people,” “the vulgar,” and “riff-raff.” The root, אָסַף (asaf) means gather. So asafsuf means a gathering or assembly.

The asafsuf aren’t the mixed multitudes as most Rabbinic commentators assume, but rather, as one modern commentator puts it “charismatic Israelite trouble-makers.” So when God gets fed up with the kvetching and punishes the asafsuf with a plague, God isn’t killing off the outsiders, but the Jews keeping the people from God’s plan.

We have a similar story in this week’s portion. Twelve men representing the 12 tribes of Israel go out to spy upon the land of Canaan and 10 of them come back thinking the entire venture is a bad idea. Their crime isn’t their fear of failure, but the dissent they spread among the people through “evil reports.” God kills them off with a plague and everyone else gets an extra 40 years of wandering in the desert.

“Erev” is in the Torah 10 times. With the exception of “mixed multitude” from Exodus, every use refers to the warp and woof of weaving. Specifically to the woof, the thread drawn through the warp yarns to make cloth. When applied to people, most commentators take this to refer those of mixed heritage. Not quite Jews perhaps, but family they could not leave behind.

The only other time we see “Erev” in the Bible is Nehemiah (13:3), where it is translated again as “mixed multitude” and clearly refers to people engaging in intermarriage and their children. It’s a bit of an understatement to say Nehemiah hates intermarriage—he curses Jewish men who married non-Jewish women. He pulls out their hair, even kills some of them. Many commentators cite this passage as proof that God is against intermarriage too. Nehemiah doesn’t compromise; he wants Jews to marry other Jews, period. But what he’s going on about is the effects intermarriage often has: people stop obeying God’s laws. They work on Shabbat, they fail to give their tithes to the Levites, and they don’t teach their children Hebrew.

We see this throughout the Torah as well. Plenty of non-Jews marry Jews (Moses’ wife Zipporah is but one example) and God is fine with it. But others cause problems. The difference is in their behavior, not their birth. My Torah portion today (Numbers 15:14-16) says “the same Torah and justice shall apply to you and to the stranger who resides among you.” In other words, if you live with the Jewish people, you have to follow the same laws. And if you do that, you’re the same as us. And if you break God’s laws on purpose, “whether [you] be home-born or a stranger…that soul shall be cut off from among [your] people.”

Ezekiel (47:21-23) tells that when the Jews came to their land they should divide it by tribe.  “This is the territory you are to divide among the tribes of Israel. You are to divide it by lot as an inheritance both to you and to the foreigners living among you who give birth to children living among you; for you they are to be no different from the native-born among the people of Israel — they are to have an inheritance with you among the tribes of Israel. You are to give the foreigner an inheritance in the territory of the tribe with whom he is living,’ says Adonai Elohim.”

 

And what is that word “stranger?” It is not the erev, the mixed multitudes, or the asafsuf, the gatherings, but something completely different. Here it is גֵּר(ger) and it is mentioned dozens of times throughout the Bible. We were strangers in Egypt but, by the time of the Exodus, we were no longer strangers yet strangers lived among us. The verb form is often translated as “sojourn” but it is different from mere traveling. The contrast is between a stranger and one who is “home-born.” So a stranger is an immigrant, an alien. Their children are no longer strangers. And children are the point…a ger is someone who isn’t just visiting; they plan to stay. They are converts.

Leviticus (19:34) says “the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.”

 

Jews, like nearly every other population on this planet, often married their neighbors.  European Jews look different from Indian Jews who look different from Ethiopian Jews.  Each group looks more like their neighbors, but still has more in common with other Jews than those neighbors.  I may look Eastern European to a large degree but, when I look at my many thousands of DNA matches over several different companies, matches that generally don’t show up if more than 6-10 generations back, I don’t match a single non-Jew without significant Jewish ancestry, not one. But I match nearly every European Jew I come across, regardless of ancestral location, usually through both my mother’s and my father’s lines; even my husband and I are 7th cousins.

Throughout Torah and Haftorah we have countless examples of Jewish men marrying non-Jewish women and bringing them into the community.  This bears out historically too.  It’s not just Jews; we see “erev,” mixture, in nearly every population on this planet.  We have periods of just marrying ourselves too.  No geographic isolation to explain it here, just political.  The initial influxes of (mostly male) Jews to Europe with the Romans 2000 years ago, as well as immigrations a bit later, involved much intermarriage.  And this shows up in deep analysis of DNA as well as our looks.  After that, until the 20th century, intermarriage was rare.  Jews throughout most of Europe were limited in where we could live or in our professions.  We often had to wear distinctive clothing and were frequently kicked out of towns or entire countries, invited back, then kicked out again as regimes changed.

Through it all, we chose Judaism.  If our spouses were not Jewish, they chose to be a part of our community.  We taught Judaism to our children, and their children.  Certainly, many Jews left.  They converted or lived with the community of a non-Jewish spouse.  Some Jews converted by force and Judaism was lost over the generations.  Some just drifted away.

Somehow, over thousands of years, we still exist as a people.  We’ve survived oppression, genocide, and periods of calm with intermarriage and children who barely know they are Jewish.  One phrase we sometimes hear is that Jews are the “chosen people.”  Certainly many Jews see this as a badge of superiority.  Many others simply excise the language.  But I want to embrace it.  There are multiple paths to God.  Some evil, some unjust.  But many valid, righteous, paths.  We as Jews are chosen to take our particular path.  The path I was born to.  The path I chose voluntarily years ago.  The path I traversed with a year of study to bring me to my bat mitzvah today.  I am chosen.  And I choose Judaism.

 

Alternate text I read during the service June 14, 2014:

The stories my family told me are that I am Jewish all the way back. DNA tests confirm that, nearly 100%. After the initial influx into Europe about 1-2000 years ago, Jews have been mostly marrying each other to the point that “Jewish” shows up as separate as Italian or Finnish. You can’t tell one Jew from another though. Even Ashkenazi vs Sephardic is hard. A Jew from Romania looks like a Jew from Latvia. We just moved around too much. When you look to see which populations this “Jewish” group matches best, it’s not other Europeans. It’s non-European Jews, Palestinians, Druse, and other folks from the Middle East.

One way to get more precise is to look at the paternal line (through Y-DNA) or the maternal line (through mt, or mitochondrial, DNA). Each of us gets our mtDNA from our mothers, and only women can pass it on. After leaving Africa, my maternal line went to Western Asia, briefly to Europe, then settled in Northern Africa, mostly within the Maghreb, Northern Africa west of Egypt. My branch became Jewish and eventually moved to Spain. With the Inquisition 500 years ago, this branch, now Sephardic, spread over Europe, back to Africa and the Middle East, and to the Americas. The furthest back I can take my maternal line, the line I have the least information about, is to my great grandmother Hermina Goldberger of Kosice, Slovakia.

Sources:

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Shabbat Service Planning

June 5th, 2014 · by Cyndi · No Comments

Sites, books, music, and more
For bat mitzvah, bar mitzvah, d’var Torah/drosh, aliyot, services, etc

From the adult education class at (the Reconstructionist)
Congregation Ner Shalom, Cotati, CA
in preparation for our b’nai mitzvah, June 14, 2014
(plus June 28 & July 11)

Last updated June 5, 2014

Torah Reading

Sh’lakh L’kha (Numbers 13:1 – 15:41) in English, JPS Tanakh. http://www.jtsa.edu/PreBuilt/ParashahArchives/jpstext/shelahlekha.shtml

and Haftarah for Sh’lakh L’kha (Joshua 2:1-24) http://www.jtsa.edu/PreBuilt/ParashahArchives/jpstext/shelahlekha_haft.shtml

For other parashot, go to http://www.jtsa.edu/ and put the name in the search box.

Here is a link to the parsha, which is Shelach.
http://www.chabad.org/parshah/torahreading.asp?aid=45586&p=1

Here is one brief description of the parsha from chabad.org
http://www.chabad.org/parshah/article_cdo/aid/2201/jewish/Shelach-in-a-Nutshell.htm

Description with some good study questions, and some possible resources to check out.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/josh-fleet/shelach-torah-portion-summary-resources_b_1597080.html

To learn the Torah blessings: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tlkXaE4tkfA

www.Hebcal.com: has listings of the weekly Torah portions. they also have a wonderful calendar app for your smartphone!

Shlach reading in Hebrew, English, and transliteration, plus an audio link for each verse. http://www.bible.ort.org/books/torahd5.asp?action=displaypage&book=4&chapter=13&verse=1&portion=37

Chukat: http://www.bible.ort.org/books/torahd5.asp?action=displaypage&book=4&chapter=19&verse=1&portion=39

For all other Torah portions, use the navigation menu on the left of the page.

This site has the entire Bible by chapter, with English and Hebrew and a link to audio. They also have Spanish, Portuguese, and French. http://www.mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt0.htm

Numbers 15 is here: http://www.mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt0415.htm

Drosh

http://www.aish.com/tp/pl – Go to the site, click on your parsha, and a bunch of interesting resources show up.

www.Myjewishlearning.com – Go to the site, select the Texts menu at the top, and you can look at a whole array of texts and information.

Jewish Women’s Archive, www.jwa.org/encyclopedia . Type in a topic and see what comes up. You can do a general search there that seems well-linked, too. http://search.jwa.org

Chabad has a lot of good resources online for studying Torah. http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/76131/Texts-Writings.htm

Bemidbar Raba – the big source of Midrash for the Book of Numbers, translated into English. http://www.sacred-texts.com/jud/mhl/mhl08.htm

http://onlinebooks.library.upenn.edu/webbin/metabook?id=lotj

http://sacred-texts.com/jud/loj/index.htm

 

Siddur/Service

To learn more about the Shema and Its Blessings (the part of the service from the Barchu through the readings that follow the Shema), take a look here http://www.myjewishlearning.com/texts/Liturgy_and_Prayers/Siddur_Prayer_Book.shtml, (be sure to navigate around a bit to get more info on the individual prayer sections of the Barchu and Shema).

 

Music/Chants

Ner Shalom has 25 videos up on their YouTube page.
https://www.youtube.com/user/NerShalom/videos?shelf_id=3&sort=dd&view=0

Brian Shamash has a bunch of videos up.
https://www.youtube.com/user/BrianShamash/videos?sort=dd&view=0&shelf_id=3

The YouTube Rabbi.
https://www.youtube.com/user/TheUTubeRabbi/videos

Reconstructionist Shabbat Service Melodies, Rabbi Susan Falk
http://www.shabbatevemelodies.com/reconstructionist_service_melodies.html

Kol Haneshamah

Reb Irwin Keller & Lorenzo Valensi of Ner Shalom
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=22NdxqSHNzM

Mah Tovu

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pzA5cCOVJd8
Simple version with transliteration on screen.

Elohai Neshamah

http://www.templehabonim.org/elohaineshamah.html
Audio files with read and chanted versions. Gives Hebrew & English.

Barchu

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gQ8gj0Kwdh8
A slight twist with a High Holy Day melody, but very similar to the regular Shabbat one. Shows Hebrew & transliteration on screen. Short version with just the Hebrew line.

“Bar’chu (Siegel)” (Song 4 of 16) from Shabbat Unplugged
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L3ZaR93fnBo
Sung with guitar in front of a congegation. Lai lai version plus the Hebrew line.

Bar’chu (Blessed Be) (led by Noori Dove)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S09Fv22iwB4
Dear One song, shown with congretation making set movements

Ahavah Rabbah

NeshamahInstitute. Simple version with a voice plus a picture of the Hebrew and transliteration.

Mi Chamocha

Mi Chamocha (1:49)
Play:

Download
Ner Shalom’s Judith Goleman singing.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RNHhfpSrCTI
High Holy Day tune for Mi Chamocha (the evening version). The YouTube Rabbi. Simple voice with Hebrew and transliteration. Explanation of different versions.

Mi Chamocha- Hebrew Song- A capella
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g3Y-J6Ea3TI
Lovely stylized version with harmonies.

Tzur Yisrael

Tzur Yisrael (0:34)
Play:

Download
Ner Shalom’s Judith Goleman singing.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G07YR02Fwoo
NeshamahInstitute. Simple version with a voice plus a picture of the Hebrew and transliteration.

Avot & Gevurot

Adonai S’Fatai/L’Cha Dodi
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XaQhk9nyArk
Craig Taubman (who wrote Adonai S’Fatai) performing live.

Adonai S’fatai
http://www.adatelohim.org/Adonai-Sfatai-s/7644.htm#
English, Hebrew, transliteration, with voice singing as Ner Shalom does

Adonai S’fatai Tiftach
http://www.reformjudaism.org/practice/prayers-blessings/shabbat-evening-worship-services-adonai-sfatai-tiftach
English, Hebrew, transliteration, with voice chanting it straight

Avot V’imahot (First blessing of the Amidah/Tefilah prayer)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-OhO7Nx88F8
The YouTube Rabbi. Simple voice with Hebrew and transliteration. All Patriarchs before Matriarchs.

Gevurot (Second part of the Amidah/Tefilah prayer)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MRb4zciXvTc
The YouTube Rabbi. Simple voice with Hebrew and transliteration.

Avot Ve’Imot Reconstructionist Version
http://www.behrmanhouse.com/avot-veimot-reconstructionist-version
First line is Adonai s’fatai. Patriarchs then Matriarchs. Hebrew only, with English on popup. Click each line to hear a very clear voice stating the words with no chanting or singing, with word highlighted. Click musical note to hear entire thing sung.

Gevurot Reconstructionist Version
http://www.behrmanhouse.com/gevurot-reconstructionist-version
Has summer & winter versions. Hebrew only, with English on popup. Click each line to hear a very clear voice stating the words with no chanting or singing, with word highlighted. Click musical note to hear entire thing sung.

Oseh Shalom

Oseh shalom bimromav
Hu ya’aseh shalom aleinu
V’al kol Yisrael
V’imru, v’imru amen

Ya’aseh shalom, ya’aseh shalom
Shalom aleinu v’al kol Yisrael
Ya’aseh shalom, ya’aseh shalom
Shalom aleinu v’al kol Yisrael

(V’al kol yoshvei teiveil)

Oseh shalom bimromav – by Attila Rontó & Friends
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bYW6yuBbcdM
I really love this video. It’s the same tune we use, with a variety of rhythms, with guitar and hand drum

Oseh Shalom, Hebrew Peace Song By Tum Balalaika Klezmer
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ouziQ9bxTWU
Klezmer style!

Oseh Shalom / Druschba – Chaverut Choir
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lkox2PcSPkI&feature=related
Traditional version.

The words in English, Hebrew, and transliteration.
http://www.zemirotdatabase.org/view_song.php?id=234

Removing the Torah from the Ark

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w-3VU79EwHM
NeshamahInstitute. Simple version with a voice plus a picture of the Hebrew and transliteration.

L’kha (Leha) Adonai

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rvs14UQtTAE
NeshamahInstitute. Simple version with a voice plus a picture of the Hebrew and transliteration.

Torah Blessings

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xl2NhwFtG7Q
NeshamahInstitute. Simple version with a voice plus a picture of the Hebrew and transliteration

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u5MNWQX0ehY&list=PLcRF_zFl6hpHHw-VwR4f9o9mSFiAEGjT6
The YouTube Rabbi. Simple voice with Hebrew and transliteration.

Torah Blessings Reconstructionist Version
http://www.behrmanhouse.com/torah-blessings-reconstructionist-version
Hebrew only, with English on popup. Click each line to hear a very clear voice stating the words with no chanting or singing, with word highlighted. Click musical note to hear entire thing sung.

V’Zot HaTorah

V’zot HaTorah (0:21)
Play:

Download
Ner Shalom’s Judith Goleman singing.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wGfKJWBqXuQ
Simple and short. Young man singing the song.

El Na R’fa Na Lah

Ner Shalom’s version, done as a 5 minute chant with transliteration.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OaTCCfwwrYE

Aleinu

Brian Shamash
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lf0ZDAvYInU
It’s the Aleinu sung with a video showing the Hebrew and stage directions. Very clear and easy and the same tune we use, though the version is different and a large center section is spoken.

Aleynu Reconstructionist Version

http://www.behrmanhouse.com/aleynu-reconstructionist-version
Exactly the same version Ner Shalom uses (except “muttered” line near end is missing). Hebrew only, with English on popup. Click each line to hear a very clear voice stating the words with no chanting or singing, with word highlighted. Click musical note to hear entire thing sung. Requires Flash.

Reconstructionist Aleniu, with Rabbi Susan Falk
http://www.shabbatevemelodies.com/Tracks/Disk2_MP3/58_Aleinu_p121.mp3
Spoken intro then single voice singing. Exact version Ner Shalom uses.

Kiddish

Kiddush Reconstructionist Version
http://www.behrmanhouse.com/kiddush-reconstructionist-version
Song Ner Shalom sings with wine for Kiddish at oneg. Hebrew only, with English on popup. Click each line to hear a very clear voice stating the words with no chanting or singing, with word highlighted. Click musical note to hear entire thing sung.

Books

A modern classic you could find useful is Back to the Sources: Reading the Classic Jewish Texts, edited by Barry Holtz.

Shefa Gold’s Torah Journeys

“My People’s Prayerbook: The Shema and Its Blessings.” You can find it here http://www.jewishlights.com/page/product/978-1-879045-79-8

A resource for learning the meaning of prayer book Hebrew. It got rave reviews. http://www.ekspublishing.com/prayerbook-hebrew/prayerbook-hebrew-the-easy-way

Ellen Frankel’s The Five Books of Miriam

Rabbi Elyse Goldstein’s The Women’s Torah Commentary

“In terms of feminist perspectives, I have been using Rabbi Shefa Gold’s Torah Journeys and just got copies of Ellen Frankel’s The Five Books of Miriam and Rabbi Elyse Goldstein’s The Women’s Torah Commentary. All three have commentary on each of the weekly parashat.”

Louis Ginzberg’s LEGENDS OF THE JEWS

Tikkun Olam

The Remember Us Project: http://www.remember-us.org/index.shtml

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Mystery Squash

December 6th, 2013 · by Cyndi · 3 Comments

It had been about 5 years since my last serious summer garden.  But for 2013, I planted summer squash, cabbage, lettuce, carrots, beans, chard, and a few miscellaneous items with mixed results. My best success was about 100 pounds of Romanesco (summer squash that is like zucchini, with stripes and more flavor) plus others from a bed with 12 seedlings.

Then there were the volunteers.  A boatload of tomatoes and several squash plants, mostly winter.  I got two lovely sugar pie pumpkins, a box load of Delicata, and a mystery vine.

It looked like a bulbous yellow summer squash at first but, picked young, it had no flavor.  I left it on the vine to see what would happen, gave some to the neighbors, and, just before the first frost, ended up with one giant.

17.8 pounds!!

Mystery Squash Whole

 

Could it be a banana squash?  We had indeed bought a banana squash to try from the same local farm a few years ago that the rest of the volunteers seemed to have come from.  But theirs are the pink kind.

Mystery Squash Cut

Cut open, it was a pretty yellow, with a dry core and huge pumpkin-like seeds.

Mystery Squash Seeds

Cooked, it was slightly stringy, but not as much as an (overcooked) spaghetti squash.  It tasted like a mild butternut.  The skin was edible too.  Very thin with a surprisingly nice flavor.  Not my first choice in squashes but quite good.  We wrapped up most of it for the freezer.

Mystery Squash Cooked

So what do you think?  Yellow banana squash?  Random cross between a spaghetti and butternut?  Or something else entirely?

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Sweet Potato Latkes (Vegan)

November 30th, 2013 · by Cyndi · No Comments

Thanksgivukah, Thanksgivukah
Come light the cranorah…

Friends, family, and a once in a lifetime holiday.  And how else to celebrate the first, and probably only, mashup of Thanksgiving and Chanukah but with sweet potato latkes and cranberry applesauce?

I’m no stranger to vegan latkes (due to my dairy allergy and my daughter’s egg allergy) and I usually make them lowcarb too.  They’re yummy, but I wanted something different.  So I searched the web and came up with a recipe from Sticky Fingers Sweets & Eats vegan bakery in Washington DC.  Healthy Hanukkah Recipe: Vegan Sweet Potato Latkes.

The “gosh it’s healthy” angle is a bit annoying (and not the fault of the chefs) but then all my food is healthy by default.  And the recipe itself is a bit weird…cooked rice, really?  Since they’re served by a restaurant, I figured they’d be well tested, but the clincher for me was the mouthwatering photos.

Bottom line?  These latkes are fan-freaking-tastic.  I made a double recipe (61 latkes) and they were inhaled by the 17 people at 2013’s Environmental Health Network’s Thanksgiving dinner.  Only a few people there cared about what they were missing (gluten, dairy, egg) but everyone raved about them.  They held together amazingly well and were good even when not piping hot.

I mostly followed the recipe.  My changes, in addition to doubling it, were I used all sweet potatoes (no white) (3 lbs garnet and 1 lb purple), used 1 cup dry arborio rice (one of the options), cooked.  I used brown rice flour for the flour and tapioca starch instead of cornstarch, left out the pepper, and oven fried in sunflower oil at 450*F.

Here’s my version of how the recipe went down.  Giving the doubled one (feel free to halve it for smaller groups, or just freeze any leftovers…there won’t be leftovers).

Ingredients:
4 pounds sweet potatoes
2 pounds yellow onion
1/2 cup scallions, finely chopped
1 cup dry sticky or arborio rice, cooked in 1 1/2 cups water
6 tablespoons ground flaxseeds
1 1/2 cups brown rice flour
2 tablespoons starch (I used tapioca)
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
Oil for frying (I used sunflower; traditional would be olive)

Notes: I wanted to make a low-amine/low-histamine version.  The only ingredient I’d need to change to make that 100% so is the flax.  Chia seed works and I didn’t do it only because the flax was already ground and the chia wasn’t.  If this isn’t your food issue, go ahead and add back the black pepper (1 tsp for this recipe) and use the oil of your choice.

The original recipe calls for “flour” and doesn’t specify.  I think most any flour would have worked.  It also calls for cornstarch, which is pretty much interchangeable with tapioca here.  If you need to avoid corn entirely, just swap out the baking powder for a corn-free, or homemade, one.

Grated sweet potato

 

Scrub the sweet potatoes, cut off ends and any bad spots, and run through the grater attachment on a food processor (or grate by hand if you prefer).  No need to peel them.  I used 3/4 garnet sweet potatoes and 1/4 purple ones that the Whole Foods clerk told me is popular in Guam.  Salt liberally (several tablespoons), mix, and let sit for several hours or overnight.

Before you wash the processor, run your peeled and chunked onions through it as well.  If you’re doing this the day before, put the grated onions in the fridge.  After they’ve sat a while, give the sweet potatoes a good rinse to remove excess salt then grab a handful, squeeze very well, and set in a really large bowl.  Repeat.  Discard the water.

Rinse your dry rice under the tap then drain and put in a pot with fresh water.  Bring to a boil, stir, then simmer on low until the rice is soft.  The amount of time this takes will vary with the size of the rice grains.  20-40 minutes.

Now add the rice, scallions, and onions to the sweet potato bowl.  Measure your flour into a container twice the needed size, add in the other dry ingredients, mix well.  Spread the flour mix over the vegetables and blend.  It looks very dry at this point and we wondered if it was going to work.  Then I saw the original recipe says to mix with your hands.  This was the magic step that brought it all together.  It “activates” the flax and sticky rice to make dough.

Latke mix

Because I knew I was going to have to reheat the latkes later, I decided to oven fry them instead of pan frying.  And I’m so glad I did.  Yes, it uses less oil but mostly it is a heck of a lot easier and less messy.  The recipe made 5 sheets worth, though I only own 4 (2 cookie sheets and 2 enameled broiling pans).

Knead the dough as you work and roll endless balls, each about the size of a ping pong ball.  I placed them on well-oiled pans (enough oil to move around when you tilt the pan) with plenty of space in-between.  Then smush them down to an inch or less thick.

Latke balls

Bake at 450*F (yep, that’s hot) until golden brown on the bottom, flip, and keep cooking until both sides are golden.  The insides should still be soft.

Latkes fresh out of the oven

Remove to a paper towel on a pan or plate.  Serve immediately if you can.  Since I was taking them elsewhere, I put them all in a large baking pan, with paper towels between each layer.  I wiped clean the two broiling pans and brought them along.  To reheat, place in a single layer (touching is fine) in a 300*F oven until they are hot.

Delicious with cranberry sauce (mine was tart with plenty of lime zest) or applesauce or both.

Latkes to eat

 

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Spaghetti Squash

March 18th, 2013 · by Cyndi · 1 Comment

How do you turn a grain into a vegetable?  With spaghetti squash!  It’s lowcarb, it’s healthy, and it has a texture unlike any other squash.  Tastes good too.  It’s also pretty easy to cook, with a few tips.

Every squash is different.  The size, density, and water content will all change the cooking time.  So test it, don’t just go based on the timing.

Start with one or more firm and heavy squashes.  Wash them and poke holes all over with a knife.  About a dozen holes for each squash in the picture.  Don’t skip this step!  Whole squashes can explode.

Spaghetti squash ready for the oven

Put into the oven.  A variety of temperatures will work, but I generally use 350*F.   For a good-sized squash, expect total cooking time to be 1-2 hours.  It’s done when you can stick a regular fork into the squash from the outside.  If the fork goes in with light pressure, the squash is done.  If the fork slides right in with no resistance, you’ve overcooked it.  Don’t worry, it will still taste good.  Test it every few minutes so you don’t miss your window and roll the squash over every half hour or so.

Spaghetti squash out of the oven

Cut the squash in half the short way and let it cool until you can handle it without pain.  You can also cut it lengthwise but the short way gives you longer strands as they’re wrapped around the center.

Michael deseeding the spaghetti squash

Remove the seeds and the “goo” around the seeds with a spoon or fork and compost.  Next, take a fork and gently tease away the strands from the skin.  Sometimes you’ll end up with a squash you didn’t time just right.  These came from the farmer’s market and we had them on our kitchen counter for a while.  The large one overcooked a tad (hence the shorter strands) and the small one was still undercooked when we pulled it out (fork didn’t work on it) and we had to put it back in the oven.  Both squashes had much thicker and harder skin than I’ve ever seen on a spaghetti squash before so it was hard to judge doneness.  Sometimes that’s just the luck of the draw.  Occasionally you might even get one that went bad before it was cooked.  You can’t do anything about that, but everything else you can salvage if you know what you’re looking for.

Scooping out spaghetti squash

You’ll end up with a big bowl of goodness.  Mix in some browned garlic in olive oil (or butter if you prefer) for a side dish.  Or make it the star of the plate with a topping of sauteed onions and pesto.   Leftovers are surprisingly good in omelets.  Overcooked spaghetti squash makes lovely latkes.

Pesto & onions on spaghetti squash

 

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Vegan Cashew Cilantro Parsley Pesto

March 17th, 2013 · by Cyndi · 1 Comment

Finished pesto

Back in 2008 I created a post about vegan pesto.  It’s still a great recipe, but here’s an update, made with cashews instead of pine nuts.  Why use cashews?  Well, they’re a lot cheaper than pine nuts.  I switched back a year or so ago when pine nut prices went through the roof, if you could find them at all.  And these days I’m doing a low-amine (low-histamine) diet.  Cashews are in, pine nuts are out.

Recipe:

2 cups raw cashew pieces
4 limes
1 tsp. salt
2-3 Tbsp. oil
1 bunch cilantro
1 bunch flatleaf parsley

Note that these proportions worked perfectly for the recipe I photographed here, but really they are just a guess.  Because a “bunch” of herbs varies a lot in size.  Limes vary not just in size but in tartness/sweetness.  So start here but adjust as needed.  Especially the salt and oil.  Taste taste taste.  It’s the only way to get it right.

You can make this recipe with a good blender but it’s much easier in a food processor.  Start off with just the dry cashews.  Get them as close to flour as you can.

Limes

Juice the limes (or use lemons if you prefer, just make sure no seeds get in) and add to the cashews.  Add salt and the oil if you need it.  Process until creamy.

Pesto base

Twist off and discard the ends of the parsley and cilantro bunches and wash the remaining herbs well.  Yes, I use the stems.  Add all but a handful of leaves to the food processor and blend well.  Add the oil if you haven’t already.  I use sunflower oil because it’s low-amine but extra virgin olive oil tastes best.  Then add the leaves and pulse until it is mixed but still has some texture.

Pesto & onions on spaghetti squash

Pesto on top of spaghetti squash and caramelized onions.  With a side of herbed chickpea fritata.

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mtDNA: Using Raw Data to Fill Out Your Subtree

October 11th, 2012 · by Cyndi · 7 Comments

I’ve been heavily into genealogy for the last year, fleshing out both my and my husband’s family trees.  Recently, I decided to delve into DNA.  I chose 23andme and have been thrilled with the results (this link gives me a small referral fee, thanks if you use it).

One of the things they tested me for was my mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA).  This is special DNA (not within the chromosomes) that everyone has but you only get it from your mother (it’s in egg cells but not sperm cells).  In theory, I have the same mtDNA as my mother, her mother, her mother, and so on back to the beginning of human history.  In practice, DNA copying isn’t perfect.  Mutations (think of them as typos) sneak in.  We can use the mutations to track maternal history across the generations, by when (and where) the splits happened.  Each set of mutations is labeled with what is called a Haplogroup.

My mtDNA Haplogroup, as calculated by 23andme, is U6a7.  About 45,000 years ago, a group of humans left Africa for Europe.  According to the mutation history, those who stayed in Europe had the Haplogroup U5 and those who turned back into northern Africa were U6.  About 35,000 years ago, U6a spread around northern Africa.  FamilyTreeDNA puts U6 at 36,200 years ago and U6a at 26,900 years ago.  But close enough.

23andme tells me my subclave is a7 but only gives information about U6 when saying this means my maternal line is from “North Africa, the Near East, Iberian Peninsula, Canary Islands” and that the population I best match are the Berbers.  Is my maternal line Muslim?  Or Sephardic Jewish?  I don’t know.  All I know is that I’m Ashkenazi Jewish on all sides and my maternal grandmother and her mother are from Kosice, Slovakia. I haven’t been able to go any further back.

The FamilyTreeDNA page on U6 gives far more subgroups: U6a7a, U6a7a1, U6a7a1a, U6a7a1b, U6a7a1c, U6a7a2, and U6a7b. Which one am I?  I wrote 23andme for help and they did take a lot of time to explain things, but none of it got me that far.  If you have a 23andme account, log in and go to Ancestry Labs, then choose Haplogroup Tree Mutation Mapper and submit your Haplogroup.  You’ll see a long list that looks like this:

U6a7 defining mutations
variant call rCRS anc
rs28357684 A 15043 G
i3001344 15043 G
i5049907 15043 G

 

The variant is the SNP, the piece of the gene where the mutation in question is.  The rCRS (also called position) is a number more commonly used but specific to a gene or, in this case, the mtDNA.  Anc means the ancestral, regular, non-mutation form and the call is the result, or the genotype, of the person tested.  This mutation defines U6a7 (and has three variants).  Since my call (A) is different from the ancestry (G), I have the mutation and therefore am U6a7.

Unfortunately, there’s nothing that goes beyond U6a7.  23andme doesn’t have a system to pay extra for a more detailed test.  But maybe the answer was already there.  I didn’t want to pay FamilyTreeDNA or another company for a test if I didn’t have to.  23andme also told me it was possible I simply didn’t have markers to identify subgroups, so another test might not give me a better answer.

So on to the raw data.  What could it tell me?

The Mutation Mapper page at 23andme shows you a circle with a lot of the raw data, but it is incomplete.  The better option is to to click on “Account” on the top of the page then choose “Browse Raw Data” and click on “MT.”  It’s faster if you download it all into a text file, but you can also look online.  (Of course, you can use raw data from any company.)

The data will look like this online:

Gene Position SNP Versions My Genotype
intergenic 3 i4001200 C or T T
intergenic 7 i4001110 A or G A
intergenic 9 i4001358 A or G G
intergenic 26 i4000553 C or T C

 

The downloaded version (the text file) looks a bit different:

rsid chromosome position genotype
i4001200 MT 3 T
i4001110 MT 7 A
i4001358 MT 9 G
i4000553 MT 26 C

 

The name of the gene (mtDNA has 37) and the SNP (or rsid) isn’t useful here, just look at the position (the rCRS).  This is how you’ll match up results with known mutations.  The versions are what’s possible and then it gives the test results, my genotype.  Note that it doesn’t say which result is a mutation and which is ancestral.  Nor do I know which positions have relevant mutations.  Time for more research.

The FamilyTreeDNA page on U6 does list all the mutations for each subgroup but not what the genotype is supposed to be.  I needed to keep looking.

I found this amazing resource:

http://www.phylotree.org/tree/subtree_U.htm
(they have other trees here: http://www.phylotree.org/tree/main.htm )

I paged down to U6a7 and saw that there were mutation lists for three variants: U6a7a, U6a7b, and U6a7c

Each mutation is in the form: letter-number-letter (plus some optional markers).  For example: T1193C.  This means rCRS 1193 has two genotypes, T and C.  The first letter is the “normal” or ancestral expression of that SNP.  The second letter is the mutation.

Another example: U6a7 is defined by: G15043A.  If this position is an A for you, then you have the mutation and are U6a7 (perhaps with some other precursors established).  If you have a G instead, then you do not have the mutation and are not U6a7.

Using Phylotree, this is what I did next:

  • U6a7a has 8 defining mutations.  I was tested for 4 of them.  3 were positive for the mutation and one was not.
  • U6a7b has 7 defining mutations.  I was tested for 4 of them, all negative.
  • U6a7c has 2 defining mutations.  I was tested for both and one was positive, the other negative.

I concluded that I was U6a7a.  (Why I didn’t get perfect matches, I don’t know.  This data was pretty clear, but I don’t know how to interpret it when it’s not.)

That is as far as I could go at Phylotree, so I headed back to
http://www.familytreedna.com/public/U6mtdna/default.aspx?section=results

Next, there is U6a7a1 and U6a7a2.  Within U6a7a1 there is U6a7a1a, U6a7a1b, and U6a7a1c.  I suspected I was U6a7a1b because it’s the Sephardic cluster and also in the general area my maternal line is from.  That one is defined by the mutation 150.  But this site doesn’t tell you which letter is the mutation.  I had to look elsewhere for that.  I did some more research and discovered that the mutation will be T.  I found that here (I’m not Dominican but that didn’t make the page less useful to me): http://www.familytreedna.com/public/dominicansephardim/default.aspx?section=results

What am I?  I’m a 150T.  So I concluded that my mtDNA is U6a7a1b.

I also joined the FamilyTreeDNA U6 project.  The leader asked for my raw data and I gave it to him.  He agrees.  I’m U6a7a1b.  He says “You have an extra mutation 16295T” (not one of the positions I had looked at).  So far there are only 12 people in the U6a7a1b section of the project, and I’m the only one with the extra mutation.

What does this mean?  It means I can now trace my maternal line to a mutation split that happened about 1,500 years ago, a “Sephardic cluster from Spain, Italy, Germany, Poland and Ukraine.”  With the extra mutation, I might even be able to narrow it down further.

Who are my ancestors?  Let’s go back to the Dominican page:

Haplogroup U6 can be considered to be the mt-DNA equivalent of Y-DNA haplogroup E1B1B in that it is of North African origins and its distribution matches the Afro Asiatic linguistic expansion. The U6 research project has discovered what it believes to be a Sephardic Cluster in haplogroup U6A7A1B characterized by mutation 150T. U6 can be found in small percentages among Sephardic Jews and even Ashkenazic Jews. Similar to haplogroup E1B1B, U6’s presence among Jews may date back to ancient times when the founding members of the Israelite tribes performed conversions on local Canaanite women, to allow them marry tribal members prior to their descent to Egypt. Another possibility is that this lineage joined the ancient Israelites along with the “mixed multitude” that came out of Egypt with the Israelites, as described in the Bible. It is also possible that Berber conversions to Judaism during the Muslim occupation of Spain introduced this lineage to the Sephardic gene pool. This haplogroup has been found in the Sephardic Jewish communities of the former Ottoman Empire. A member of this project with a tradition of Jewish ancestry on his/her maternal line, and is a member of this haplogroup, can be considered to be likely of Jewish descent.

So wow.  23andme gives me “northern Africa” but a bit of sleuthing gives me evidence that my maternal line (the one that counts here) is Jewish possibly all the way back to the Exodus (perhaps further).  With Sephardic ancestry to boot.  Amazing.

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Miriam’s Trip Blog: We’re Still in Taos

September 23rd, 2012 · by Cyndi · 4 Comments

This is two days in Taos.  [Mom says: it’s actually three days.  Miriam says: But there are no pictures from the first day.]  We are at the Taos Pueblo.  So we are at the Taos’s little town.  This is a sign that says “sorry, we’re open” instead of “yes, we’re open.”  Why would you be sorry you’re open?  There were lots of shops at the Pueblo.  I thought that sign was hilarious.

"Sorry, We're Open" - Taos Pueblo

I bought the two necklaces and my mom bought the bracelet.  We bought more stuff too, but they were gifts.  I got the heart necklace from a different shop.

Jewelry from Taos Pueblo

This is our dinner at a restaurant.  I had the small plate and my mom had the big plate.  And I had the orange smoothie.  The restaurant is gluten-free and wheat-free but my mom got something with eggs in it.

Dinner at La Cueva, Taos, NM

Now we are at the house in Taos.  The person we are staying with has a cat and I am holding her cat.  Her name is Bella.

Miriam with Bella the cat, Taos, NM

I wish I could stay in Taos longer but we are leaving.  Next we are going to Snowflake.  See you again there!

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Miriam’s Trip Blog: Leaving Utah and Heading for Taos

September 16th, 2012 · by Cyndi · 3 Comments

This the pool in Moab, Utah, after we left Arches.  This has an indoor and an outdoor pool.  This is the indoor pool and a huge water slide.  There’s two diving boards way in the back.

Indoor pool Moab, Utah

This the shallow pool and three little water slides on those brown rocks.  It was too little for me.

Outdoor pool Moab, Utah

If you click on the link, it will lead to a video of me going around in some water in that pool and the water carries you.

Miriam demonstrates the current pool.

Now we’re in Taos and this is the friend we’re staying with, Aralia.  She’s giving me a painting lesson.  We’re painting a color wheel.  This is her website.  She’s an artist.  http://magdahliastudios.com/2012/09/10/transitions/

Aralia teaches Miriam how to make a color wheel

I colored the painting with my colored pencils, the one with the rain clouds.  These are the color wheels.  The one I’m holding is Aralia’s.  The other one is mine.

Miriam's and Aralia's finished artwork

Stay tuned for our next one and our second day in Taos.

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Miriam’s Trip Blog: This is the Fiery Furnace Hike

September 9th, 2012 · by Cyndi · 9 Comments

This is Landscape Arch.  It was a very long and hard hike to it.

Landscape Arch at Arches National Park, Utah

This is me and my mom in front of landscape Arch.

Miriam & Cyndi under Landscape Arch at Arches National Park, Utah

This is the sign for the tour of the Fiery Furnace.  *chol!*  It’s a three hour long tour, including stops.  There was lots of rock climbing, lots of challenges.  It was hard for my mom, but so easy for me.  I didn’t get a bit tired but my mom was so tired she could barely walk.

Fiery Furnace Tour at Arches National Park, Utah

This is Ranger Jon and me.  We’re going to climb under that tiny arch.

Miriam prepares to go through a tiny arch during the Fiery Furnace Tour at Arches National Park, Utah

Miriam prepares to go through a tiny arch during the Fiery Furnace Tour at Arches National Park, Utah

Miriam goes through a tiny arch during the Fiery Furnace Tour at Arches National Park, Utah

This is Skull Arch.  We took this from our camera on super vivid colors.  That’s why it’s red.

Skull arch on the Fiery Furnace Tour at Arches National Park, Utah

This is Surprise Arch.  It’s called Surprise Arch because it’s such a big surprise.  And it’s an arch.  We had to go into a cave to see it and sit on some rocks and Ranger Jon told us a story about his life.

Surprise arch on the Fiery Furnace Tour at Arches National Park, Utah

Stay tuned for our next blog post about going to New Mexico and stopping in Moab and staying at a hotel.

 

 

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Miriam’s Trip Blog: We’re Doing Lots of Hiking!

September 8th, 2012 · by Cyndi · 5 Comments

This is Broken Arch. It was a long hike.

Broken Arch, Arches National Park, Utah

Balanced Rock is cool. I love it!

Balanced Rock, Arches National Park, Utah

This is windows. We sat under it. It was a little fun!

North Window Arch, Arches National Park, Utah

This is me going into a little cottage in Wolfe Ranch.  It never ever got moved.  The family lived there.

Wolfe Ranch storage building, Arches National Park, Utah

This is the other cottage which you’re not allowed to go into.  It was owned by the same family.

Wolfe Ranch cabin, Arches National Park, Utah

This is inside the cottage that you’re not allowed to go in to.  There is a little table and chair.  You’re not allowed to go into it because it could be dangerous.

Wolfe Ranch cabin interior, Arches National Park, Utah

This the sign of the petroglyphs.  And we saw them.

Ute Rock Art, Arches National Park, Utah

This are the petroglyphs.  It’s hard to see them though.  We weren’t allowed to go any closer.

Ute Rock Art, Arches National Park, Utah

Stay tuned for our next one on our third day of Arches National Park.

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Miriam’s Trip Blog: We Arrived at Arches National Park

September 5th, 2012 · by Cyndi · 4 Comments

We arrived at Arches National Park and our tent is set up and this is our campsite.  Those gray clouds are rainclouds.  There was a huge thunderstorm with lightening and really strong wind and really hard rain.  Our tent almost blew away.

Our campsite just before the thunderstorm hit

This is a beautiful sunset.  We could see it from our campsite.

View from our campsite at sunset

This is me roasting a hot dog over our campfire.  In my rain jacket and flip flops.  The thunderstorm was 45 minutes.  It was over by this time, that’s why we have a campfire.

Miriam cooking hot dogs over the campfire

Stay tuned for our next post about our second day at Arches National Park.

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Miriam’s Trip Blog: Last Day in Salt Lake City

September 5th, 2012 · by Cyndi · 7 Comments

This is our last day in Salt Lake City last Saturday.

This is the Salt Lake City library and I am in the children’s section looking at Rainbow Magic fairy books.  The second and the third shelves is all fairy books and I’m looking at one.  There are so many, I couldn’t believe my eyes.

Rainbow Magic fairy book selection at the Salt Lake City library

We climbed up some stairs and ramps and went on an elevator.  And we went to the top of the library.  And I was climbing on a fence and I am at the highest point of the fence over the doors to go back in the library.  My mother was freaked that I was going to fall.

Miriam the Climber, at the Salt Lake City library

We are at the Leonardo Museum.  This is some decorations.  This is the only picture from the Leonardo.

Art display at the Leonardo Museum in Salt Lake City

Now we went to Sage’s Cafe and this is our dinner. It’s all vegan.  I can eat every single thing there.  Even the desserts.

Dinner at Sage's Cafe Salt Lake City

These are our desserts.

Dessert at Sage's Cafe Salt Lake City

Stay tuned for our next blog post about driving to Arches National Park.

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Miriam’s Trip Blog: We’re at the Salt Lake

September 2nd, 2012 · by Cyndi · 10 Comments

Bridgers Bay Beach on Antelope Island, UT.

It was a really really REALLY long walk to the water.  When we were about 3/4 of the way to to the water, it started sprinkling, and we thought it was nothing.  Then it started raining raining.  And then it started pouring and then when we were further down we started hearing thunder but didn’t see any lightening.  I was FREAKED OUT.  But we walked all the way down.

And there were tons of little flies by the water.  Like millions and millions of them.  And my mom walked past them and put her fingers in the water and I had to touch her fingers so we could say we had touched the Great Salt Lake.

My mom really wanted to go swimming in it but I was like “no mom we’re going back now.”

Bridgers Bay Beach on Antelope Island, UT

This is when it stopped raining and there was a rainbow.  This is a picture of the rainbow and the rainbow is nice and fresh.

Rainbow after a brief thunderstorm at Bridgers Bay Beach on Antelope Island, UT

I figured out that the sand was only wet on top and not underneath.  It was perfectly dry underneath.  This is me putting my foot into the sand.

Miriam at Bridgers Bay Beach on Antelope Island, UT

We won’t be putting on our next blog for a little bit.  For maybe three to four days because we’re going on a camping trip to Arches National Park and we won’t be able to use the laptop there.

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Miriam’s Trip Blog: Heritage Center in Salt Lake City

August 31st, 2012 · by Cyndi · 4 Comments

This me mining for gold in a creek at the Heritage Center.  I found about 5 or 6 pieces.

Miriam panning for gold

This is me in a ship back in the old days laying down in the beds they slept in.

Miriam in a berth of a ship replica

This is some leather I put stamps on and a necklace I made in the crafts center in the Heritage Center.

Crafts center products

This is me in the woodworking place drilling a hole into something.

Miriam drilling a hole into wood using pioneer tools

 

 

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