My first bombe

Mom wanted a white chocolate cheesecake for her birthday so I made it. The recipe said I could make a bombe, or a regular cheesecake and I went with bombe. It involved buying a stainless steel bowl, but that was probably the hardest part of the process.

Here it is before I added the white chocolate icing.

And here it is after icing and adorning with chocolate curls.

Christmas 2018

And so we gather to celebrate Christmas.

The tree, in all its splendor.

The meat pie, in all its splendor.

After breakfast and presents, we had a Fun Christmas Activity. This consisted of a variety of activities one could partake in. Here are some pictures of what we did.

Linda made a New Year’s scene from a purposefully limited supply of colored paper.

Matt’s scene

Matt attempts the blind Christmas tree tear.(After first cheating and folding a Christmas tree.)

His two results.

Linda’s blind Christmas tree.

Chris works away at the Christmas packet, consisting of trivia questions, a crossword, a word search, and a cryptogram. Aunt Pat cleaned the kitchen. (Cleaning up was a category, as was taking a nap.)

Mom made a New Year’s scene.

I attempted a Blind Christmas Tree tear, and was better at the Christmas tree then taking a picture of it.

Aunt Pat’s cat Roo takes a break.

Aunt Carol’s New Year’s scene.

One of our activities was reading a poem aloud. Inside one volume of the Book of Verse, I found my grandmother’s transcription of “Thanksgiving Day.” This was a great find. I so rarely come across her handwriting.

And here are the final standings of all who participated.

Christmas Eve Eve 2018

The MAunts and Matt’s mom Linda gathered to celebrate Christmas Eve Eve. (We celebrate Christmas Eve Eve not on 12/23, but on a random day in early December to kick off the holiday season.)

We ate the traditional Christmas Eve Eve meal of soup and bread and then we played a round of Uno. Aunt Pat won, with Matt being the first person to crest over 350 points.

We were playing Uno to kill time because the Miracle of a Million Lights didn’t open until 6 p.m. This Christmas lights display is just down the street from our house at an event rental space with a big old house. I’ve seen it for years, but this was the first year they put up a sign of what it was called. I could then Google it and find out information.

It was pouring. Though we were properly outfitted with umbrellas, I forgot my camera and didn’t bring my phone, so we have only these photos Matt took on his phone.

Here is everyone (Aunt Carol unfortunately in shadow on the right) amid the million lights.

We also got to tour the historical house. On the top floor were cutouts of many superhero cutouts including actual people portraying Shuri and Black Panther. Matt was very excited to get his picture taken with them.

We returned to the house to have gingerbread brownies and ice cream for dessert.

Turkey-shaped butter = holiday joy

My mom bought a turkey butter sculpture for Thanksgiving and she made the mistake of letting it soften before trying to remove it from the package.

We ended up with a headless turkey at our table which seemed rather appropriate and had me bent over laughing.

Lesson learned: take those butter sculptures from their packages when they are still cold!

Great Aunt Mary’s memorial gathering

Great Aunt Mary has died.  We went to a memorial gathering and I took a few pictures of some historic pictures.  

Here are 13 of the 15 Whitmore children, on the occasion of their parents’ fiftieth anniversary.  My grandmother, Helen, is in the second row, second from the right.

My mother was a champ and told me all the names and even included their birth order (in parenthesis) (11/12 are twins)

Back L-R: Raymond (11/12); James (2); Raymond (father); Beatrice (4)
Middle: Dorothy (5); Robert (12/11); Helen (mother); Janet (13);  Helen (1) Mary (7)
Front: Elizabeth (6); Margaret (10); Thomas (14); Joanne (15); Luecreita (9)
Missing: George (3); Harold (8)

There are currently two of the original fifteen still alive: Aunts Margaret and Janet are still hanging on.

Aunt Mary was the other one of the Whitmores–aside from my grandmother–to marry a Greek.  Here’s Aunt Mary and her eventual husband Art Demetrikikus.

And here’s a picture of my Aunt Janet at the first big family picnic we had in 1988 or so. She was walking around in a bikini saying, “Don’t you wish you looked like this at 60?”  Reactions to this photograph varied based on people’s view of Aunt Janet and exhibitionism in general. I think it’s a great example of how much of one’s weight is genetic, as one of Janet’s sisters is the woman in the striped muumuu. The Whitmore children had a skinny dad and a plump mom and they took after one or or the other.

Dead Relatives Tour 2018

It’s time for another tour of some of the family grave sites.

The Anastases were my grandfather’s grandparents. “What do we know about these people?” I asked this year. Both of them had been dead nearly a decade by the time my oldest aunt was born and I was curious what had filtered down through the ages.

“I know that he just coughed once in the middle of the night, and then died,” my mother said.  “I’m not sure why I remember that.” Good to know.  Other things: they lived in Southeast Portland and their neighbors behind them were a very large family.  That would be my grandmother’s family, the Whitmores, with 15 children.  I asked to see if anyone knew what their jobs were, or such things, but no one did.

That is what’s come down through the ages. If I had more time, it would be fun to research them a little and see if anything comes up.

I don’t know Gene Wesley Hinds, but I do like the pinecone decorations someone used to decorate his grave.

This year’s entry into the Dead Relatives Tour grave decoration.

Then we ate at the delicious Verde Cochia.

Great Aunt Virginia’s Obituary

More of the old gaurd passing away.  This is my Great Aunt Virginia, who married into the Whitmore clan and had the most children in that generation.  Nine!  Her husband came from a family with fifteen children and she from a family with seven, so they were quite familiar with large families.

She always had a cheery smile and wave at all Whitmore family functions.

Manhattan Project Hanford

The Manhattan Project National Historic Park is made up of three sites:  Oak Ridge, Tennessee; Los Alamos, New Mexico; and Hanford, Washington.  Fun fact:  If you collect National Park Stamps, the stamp for the Manhattan Project is in three parts.

There are two tours offered at the Hanford Site.  Here is the link to register. We took the Historic B Reactor Tour, but had I known the Pre-Manhattan Tour existed, it would have been my choice.  Each tour takes up a big chunk of the day and involves a bus ride to the site, a guide and a lot of time to look around.  All for free.  Thank you, National Park Service.

We met outside of Richland, where we looked at some exhibits, like this newspaper. Our guide showed us an introductory video and then we loaded up the bus and were off.

Our guide was great.  She also teaches Biology to college students.  She was very good at repeating the questions asked so everyone could hear them and knowledgeable overall.

Headed out to the site.  At a certain point in history this road would have been closed to the general pubic.

It wasn’t a long trip, but did allow for a short nap.

And here it is!  The historic reactor.  What you are looking at are the caps on the rods.  Scientists changed the amount of plutonium produced by moving the rods in a very big cube. [Science!  Not my strong suit.  Go watch a video or something if you want to know more]

As usual with science things, I was more interested in the people part of the equation. A whole bunch of people had to be recruited to this desert to build the reactor.  They weren’t told what they were doing, just that things needed to be built.  And the people needed to be fed.

The site was full of all sorts of repeating colorful patterns.

And some good vintage and modern signs.

Here’s the view from the outside.  Once everything was built, the construction camps were taken down.  The town of Richland was rebuilt so the workers at Hanford had nice places to live. That’s where the Alphabet Houses came in.  The population of Richland was 300 before residents were evicted in 1943.  Then workers for the Hanford Engineering Project arrived and there were 25,000 people in Richland by 1945 Spokane Architect Albin Pherson designed most of the city. He designed a variety of single family homes, duplexes, apartment buildings and dormitories.  Each design was designated with a letter of the alphabet.  If you visit Richland, you can walk through the Gold Coast Historic District and see a selection of the Alphabet Houses.

I greatly enjoyed my tour of the Hanford site and recommend it for anyone visiting the area.