Sunday, July 31, 2011

Family Gathering in Troutlake, Washington

A historic gathering: Annalee meets cousins Katiya and Ethan for the first time. I was so happy to be part of a family gathering at Abe, Jenny and Annalee's Troutlake, Washington home. I remember family events as a child, and now it so strange and wonderful to be not only one of the grownups at such an event, but to be a grandfather as well, and to celebrate my birthday in the company of 3 generations of wonderful and delightful family. There was walking, talking,  playing, napping, eating, and sleeping. 3 dogs, 2 cats and 3 horses were present. It all happened in and around a house in a field surrounded by trees and a creek with a mountain looking down on us.
Katiya, dog, campfire, and Grandpa Stephen

Troutlake and Mt. Adams
One of many of our Trout Lake family caravans
Abe serenades Ethan
Grandpa Stephen, Annalee and Ethan make music
Grandpa Stephen, Oryx and Ethan celebrate Stephen's birthday
Annalee and Ethan

Katiya and cat
Jenny and Katiya
Oryx and Ethan
Grandma Kate, puppets, and Annalee
Oryx, Ethan and "Meema" Sherry
Oryx, Katiya, Grandpa Stephen and Abe
Jenny and Annalee
Kristin, Katiya, Oryx, Ethan and Grandpa Stephen meet at a Columbia River Gorge waterfall on the way
back to Portland.
Katiya, Kristin, Grandpa Stephen and Ethan overlooking the Columbia River Gorge

Thursday, May 5, 2011

A Performance of "You Need to Get to Know Me", from my 2001 residency at Wilsonville High School

A clip of the song, "You Need to Get to Know Me",  from an Oregon Public Broadcasting Art Beat show in 2001 featuring my residency at Wilsonville High School, where I assisted special education students from Sally Harris's Life Learning class, along with several music and art students, in creating instruments out of found and recycled materials, composing music and writing songs, producing a CD, Junk Jam, and performing at the Wilsonville Festival of Arts. 

Sally Harris (who is now the special education administrator in the West Linn/Wilsonville district) wrote:

"Out of my 23 years of teaching I have never been involved with anything that made my students so proud of themselves and show such feelings of success. Stephen helped to show the other students and staff in the school that these students with special needs have unexpected talents, and they are
capable of doing things that no one ever thought they were capable of."

Sally Harris, Special Education Chair, Wilsonville High School, Wilsonville, Oregon 

Photos of Wilsonville (Oregon) High School Life Learning Program students recording at Dead Aunt Thelma's Studio in Portland, using their wonderful voices and percussion instruments they put together from various recycled materials, collaborating with music students Ryan and Nick, and Artist-in-Residence Stephen Cohen, with help from teacher Sally Harris and her staff:

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

grandchild Katiya's rendition of "Take me out to the ball game"

Here is one of the greatest renditions ever of "Take me out to the Ballgame" by my grandchild Katiya. Katiya is the daughter of my son Oryx and my daughter-in-law Kristin and she is the older sister of grandchild Ethan. She has already been to a Red Sox game at Fenway Park. I think the Red Sox would do well to have Katiya sing "Take me out to the Ballgame" during the seventh inning stretch at a future game!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Ruth Soforenko

 My Aunt Ruth, who just recently passed away,  was a real hero to me. She was an artistic, interesting woman who was loved by family, friends and colleagues.

Ruth Soforenko's obituary in the Providence Journal

Above is a family photo from way back when.
Over the years many in the photo have passed away, but me, Jeremy, Jeffrey, Janet and Iris are still alive and kicking: 
top row- Arnold Soforenko, Aaron Cohen, Abraham Weiss, Arthur Weiss: middle row- Ruth Soforenko, Judith Cohen, Rose Weiss, Iris Weiss; bottom row- Suzanne Soforenko, Stephen Cohen, Jeremy Cohen, Jeffrey Weiss, Janet Weiss
from left to right: Nancy Soforenko, Rose Weiss, Deborah Cohen, Judith Cohen, Ruth Soforenko, Suzanne Soforenko
This is one of the saddest photos I know, because four of the people in the photo, my grandma Rose , my mother Judy, my Aunt Ruth and my cousin Suzie are no longer with us.

the 3 photos below are by Ben Sussman; the 2 family photos above were restored by Ben Sussman    thanks Ben!
Here is my aunt Ruth and my dad Aaron at Ruth's 80th birthday party. Two wonderful people who are now gone, but never forgotten.   

My Aunt Ruth was an interior decorator who was much admired for her work, which was mentioned and honored  in national, and in her local (Palo Alto, California) publications. Here is one of my favorite articles about her, where she talks about the home design challenges that dogs bring, and mentions her beloved dog, Cyrano:

      Canine design        

(Palo Alto Weekly, May 24, 1996)

How to make your house home to a dog without turning it into a dog house
by Diane Sussman

Even though Fashion Statement No. 1 dictates that black goes with everything, Ruth Soforenko did not get her standard black poodle, Cyrano, because he matched the decor. "I chose him because he was his own design decision," said the Palo Alto interior designer. "The design of a poodle is a beautiful thing."
Yet while Soferenko's taste runs to the discriminating and beautiful, Cyrano's runs toward plastic chops, rawhide bones, squirrel parts, soggy rubber balls and squeaky shoes.
As any dog owner will tell you, dogs and dirt go together like white wine and brie. For reasons unknown to scientists, black dogs leave hairs exclusively on white fabrics while white dogs deposit hairs exclusively on black fabric. And all dogs dribble kibble, track mud, slosh drinking water, leave trails of soggy treats, expel fleas and shake water onto your dry cleaning after a rainstorm.
"Your house will never be as clean with a dog as without one," confirms Soforenko. "But it can still look good."
When I was 14 years old, I was visiting at the Soforenko house when we all lived in  Rhode Island. I saw an old guitar lying around and asked my aunt Ruth if I could try playing it. I liked playing it so much that I soon got my own guitar and I have been playing guitar ever since. Here is a family jam in Rhode Island a week after my father Aaron passed away. You can see my Aunt Ruth in the center of this photo sitting below my brother Jeremy on bass. You can also see my nephew Jonathan on violin and me on guitar with my son Abe and my daugher-in law Jenny looking on. You can't see her in this photo, but my granddaughter Katiya (the daughter of my son Oryx and my daughter-in-law Kristin), who was 2 years old at the time, was present as well, and I have great memories of Aunt Ruth drawing sketches for Katiya, and the two smiling, laughing, and enjoying each others company. Life goes on!

Here is my aunt Ruth dancing with my nephew Miles at her 80th birthday party. We all can only hope to be as cool as Ruth was when we are in our eighties!

Jordan Weiss memorial

 Sadly, my nephew Jordan Weiss, died in a skateboard accident near his home in Studio City, California last month. I never got to meet him, but we were able to see him and his brothers every year in the beautiful photo cards his parents, Philip and Rabia, sent out every year. And now, through the video slide-shows in the memorial below, I can feel I know him better and I am moved by his beautiful life.