Tea, Cake and Death

As some of you know, I (Kate) have recently had the pleasure and the honor of becoming involved with Death Cafe.  Specifically, the newly formed Portland Death Cafe.  And I couldn’t be happier about this.

It all started back when NPR ran this story.  I missed the airing of it, but caught the article on NPR’s website.  It was a story about an emerging global movement to bring the conversation about death out of the shadows, by offering what are called “Death Cafe’s.”  A Death Cafe isn’t a physical cafe (necessarily) but a gathering of people for the purpose of talking about death.  The events are free, and tea and cake (or other similar refreshments) are served, and also free.

Death goes down smooth with a nice serving of tea and cake.

Death goes down smooth with a nice serving of tea and cake.

I was instantly excited and immediately began trying to figure out how I could get involved.  I read every part of the Death Cafe website.  I was ready to start organizing one myself when I had the idea of searching online to make sure there wasn’t already one in my area.  The search turned up the PDX Death Cafe Facebook Page (linked to above), and I wasted no time in sending the admin of that page a message explaining my interest in Death Cafe and offering to help out in any way they needed.  The response I got was from the nicest woman you could imagine, and she was very welcoming and willing to let me join the team of co-hosts.  So I did, and after some planning, some meetings, some more planning, etc. , we hosted our first PDX Death Cafe on a sunny Sunday afternoon late last month.

It was everything I had hoped it would be and more.  It’s a funny thing, the response you get from people when you have them sit inside on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, talking about death.  It’s sort of… well, if you take all the things you imagine when you hear the words “Death Cafe”, and then take the opposites of those things, that’s what you get.  A positive experience was overwhelmingly reported on the surveys we collected at the end of the event (of which about 90% of participants filled out and turned in), with 100% of respondents saying they’d be extremely likely to recommend Death Cafe to their friends and family.  Here’s some of the words used to describe participants’ experiences, in cloud form:

Response to PDX Death Cafe, in cloud form

Response to PDX Death Cafe, in cloud form

Not too shabby for our first run, eh?

Anyway, I’m happy to say that I’ll be continuing my involvement with PDX Death Cafe, and we plan on having roughly monthly events.  I can’t wait to see where this movement is headed.  I’m very hopeful and optimistic that maybe, finally, a topic that deserves attention more than any other I can think of is starting to get it’s time to shine.

Also, as some of you know, I had the pleasure (and terror) yesterday of participating in a sort of on-air Death Cafe with a local radio station, KBOO, on a show called The Recovery Zone.  The terror part was my nervousness about speaking on the radio, compounded by our main host showing up with laryngitis and handing over her share of the conversation to me.  But aside from a bumpy start, it ended up being fine and even a little bit fun.  If you want, you can listen to it here.




Happy Birthday! May 19th.

As you may already know, today is a very special day.  A very important person was born on this 19th day of May.  Yes, today is a day for celebration.  Let’s all put on pointy hats and raise a glass to the man of the day!

Happy Birthday to you!

Happy Birthday to you!

Happy Birthday, Pete Townshend!

Happy Birthday to you!


Pete Townshend




No?  Oh, did we mean Jim Lehrer?

Happy Birthday, Jimmy Boy!



Jim Lehrer


Not him?  Okay…



Happy Birthday to you!

Happy Birthday to you!

Happy Birthday, Joey Ramone!

Happy Birthday to you!




Joey Ramone


No.  Still not right?  Hmmm…..



Err… Andre the Giant?




andre vs hulk

No.  Hmm.



Oh, I know… That girl in Ace of Base!



Jenny Berggren


Still no?


Who could it be…

Happy Birthday, folks!

Happy Birthday, folks!

Hmm, the only other awesome, amazing, superstar I can think of whose birthday is today is…

The one, the only!  Kane Fancy-Pants Brassington!

See him performing his starring role here as Patient #1 in The Galloping Poopy Pants




Bravo!  Bravo!



Kane’s just the best.  No offense to Jim Lehrer or Psicosis, nor to Andre the Giant or Ho Chi Minh.  Kane is just the best thing to come out of May 19th since the centigrade temperature scale.  He’s cooler than cool.  He’s hotter than hot.  And we all love him more than the melting point of carbon or the boiling point of rhenium.

And that is a lot of love.

Kane – – – –  We couldn’t possibly thank you enough.  For all that you do to hold this family up.  For your endless patience and gentle kindness.  For your superhuman toughness.  For the laughter you flood our house with.  For your dedication to our children and the fierce and loving presence you provide for them.  For being the hilarious, all-knowing, magical, engaging and enchanting father you are to our girls.  For being my rock.  For holding my hand as we stumble through this mixed up, bizarre world together.  For bringing me back down when I start to float away.  For letting me be who I am.  For being who you are.  Thank you forever and ever.  We love you.



Happy Birthday, Kane!!!!

The Day of the Mother

This is a bit late, but I wanted to share our Mothers’ Day fun with you.

First, I woke up to breakfast in bed.  Who doesn’t love that?

Next, when I finally came out of my bedroom (I had woken up feeling emotional and barricaded myself in my room writing this), I was greeted by my loving family offering gifts.  Yay, presents!  What I got was perfect.  A beautiful set of tea cups, in a display stand, from Kane.  A sheet music holder/stand from Eila (not pictured in photo).  A ceramic turtle candle holder from Shaelyn.  And a little porcupine figurine from Davia.  Oh and the flowers had been brought to me in bed.  All so sweet!



Then we went to a park for some fun.

Eila at the park


Girls Swing

And we took a walk…

Kate and girls

Kane and girls

Then on the way home from the park, we stopped at TJ’s to get some stuff for our tea party!

Eila at Trader Joe's

The tea party was fun, but we didn’t get any pictures of it.  What we did get pictures of was wig time.  What is wig time?  This is wig time…

Kate with wig

Kate, Shaelyn, Davia wigging out

This is how Eila felt about wig time…

Eila at wig time

Then I tried to organize a photo shoot with the girls while Kane was making dinner.  This is how that went…

Shaelyn, Eila, Kate

Shaelyn and Kate

crazy by the window

Shaelyn and Kate


Kate, Davia, Shaelyn

mothers day



And that’s it for our Mothers’ Day 2013.

Love to all!


Spring Things

Spring is in full effect here in Oregon.  That means we have warm days – even hot days!  (By our new Oregonian standards, anyway.)  And we have rainy days.  Sometimes a hot day teams up with a rainy day, for a day that’s fully both, just to keep us on our toes.  Basically, when we open the front door, we never know what we’re going to find.  It’s very exciting.

Spring is a fun time to be living in a house with Shaelyn and Davia.  Eila too, of course, but Shaelyn and Davia’s fun factor really peaks when the weather allows them out of doors.  Unless it’s pouring outside, you can bet these girls will be out there.  Part of their time outside is spent negotiating the very complex and persistent social dramas that unfold between the various neighborhood children.  That’s kind of fun to watch.

But even more fun is watching Shaelyn and Davia being the little scientists that they are.  They are so incredibly in tune with nature, they’re aware of every slight change in the ecosystem that is our yard.  Which flowers are budding, which are blooming, where a certain bug has been snacking on a certain plant, which plants are attracting which creatures, what the birds are eating, where the ants are heading… all of it!  They know everything that goes on out there.  Not just with the neighborhood kids, but with anything that’s alive.  It’s really cool to watch how amazingly observant they are.

The big girls also like to take Eila out there.  It’s funny – when they were Eila’s age, I never in a million years would have let them go outside supervised only by a couple of distracted 9-year-olds.  But my discomfort with that situation is often overpowered by my desperate need to vacuum or get another load of dishes in.  So out they all go.  One day I peeked out to check on them and saw this…

Eila and Davia

Eila in her wagon, Davia hard at play

And during that same peek, I saw this…

Shaelyn gardens

Shaelyn weeding


Another day this spring, I went out on the front porch and saw this…

I Love You Street

As you can see, this is the single most adorable and sweet thing anyone has ever seen.  I was so floored by my heart melting that I totally forgot that I had told Shaelyn at least three times to stop playing with the hose.  But what could I say when I saw this and heard that Shaelyn had done it for Davia, whose feelings she was afraid she had hurt?  What could I do besides squeal and run for my camera.  Little punks though they may be at times, I think our kids are the sweetest things ever.

We don’t spend all Spring outside.  Here’s proof…

Three Girls




Shaelyn and Davia



And here are a few to prove that I’ve been practicing my ukulele…

ukulele session



Kate with uke



Happy Spring, one and all!



Kate, Kane, Shaelyn, Davia and Eila