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Recommended Books on Grief, Trauma, Race & Healing

September 13th, 2020

I’m back to social work, after a decade of doing library and computer lab work (which is also social work, it turns out) in the K-12 schools. I’ve been in trainings, meetings, and collecting book lists for most of the summer. Here are some picks. I’m going to list out (not review) all but the first title.

“The Big Finish,” a novel by Brooke Fossey (Berkley/Penguin Random House, 2020, 326 pages, $26). Man, I love this book. First of all, I thought it was a young adult book when it arrived for review. Most of the titles I get are geared toward babies through the high school crowd. This one is a novel for the grown-ups, but I think some high schoolers would like it, too.

Duffy Sinclair and Carl Upton are best friends by happenstance — they’re well into in their 80s and both landed at the Centennial assisted living facility. It’s not that great, but it’s not that bad. They live in fear of slipping down — in their health, in their faculties, or just on the floor — and being stuck in a facility that’s not as nice. They’re worried about death, and life, when in through their window comes Josie, less than one-fourth their age. She’s possibly inebriated, she has a black eye, and she’s Carl’s granddaughter. Allegedly.

It’s a buddy story, it’s a family story, it’s about alcoholism and domestic violence and neglect, and how they impact families, individuals and all of us. It’s one of the sweetest books I’ve ever been lucky enough to read. The characters are thoroughly sketched out, the dialogue is great, and most of all, the story and the characters are believable and moving story. Highly recommended.

And now, a few titles, alphabetically by authors’ last name. I’ll keep adding to this list, it’s by no means comprehensive. Please add your suggestions in comments, if you’d like.

Alexander, Michelle, “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness”

Connor, Leslie, “Waiting for Normal” (young adult novel about a girl, her mother, and child neglect)

Didion, Joan, “The Year of Magical Thinking”

Giovanni, Nikki, “Collected Poetry — 1968-1998”

Goble, Jillana, “No Sugar-Coating: The Coffee Talk You Need About Foster Parenting”

Harris, Nadine Burke, “The Deepest Well: Healing the Long-Term Effects of Childhood Adversity”

Maynard, Joyce, “The Best of Us,” a memoir

Oluo, Ijeoma, “So You Want to Talk About Race”

Sanchez, Sonia, “Shake Loose My Skin: New and Selected Poems”

Sapolsky, Robert M., “Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers”

Tatum, Beverly Daniel, “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? And Other Conversations About Race”

van der Kolk, Bessel (M.D.), “The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind and Body in the Healing of Trauma”

West Coast on fire

September 13th, 2020

9/12/2020

Is the world on fire where you are? It’s on fire here in Oregon. Our little zone seems to be okay, for now, but that could change. The truck is packed, our quick bags are ready to go.

Keep us in your prayers.

I’m checking this Air Quality site compulsively. 

In my town, we’ve been hovering between “Unhealthy” and “Hazardous.” (I checked one last time before I fell asleep last night — Salem, Ore., just north of us, was off the charts, and so was Portland, Ore.) The West coast currently has the worst air quality *on the planet.* We had to be best at something, I guess.

Our air quality inside the house is okay for now, smokewise, but it was very smoky earlier in the week. And I have asthma. So there you have it. I have two inhalers next to me, and a big bottle of water.

Millions of acres lost, all along the West Coast, along with homes. The death toll is climbing. My good thoughts, prayers and anything else I’ve got, going out to the families and loved ones who have been lost or are struggling now. And there’s the Pandemic. And the civil unrest. It’s been six months today since my school district shut down and I was furloughed. I’m back to work now. Many, many thousands and millions of others have it worse than my family and friends do, but all of this is taking its toll, in small ways and large, on every single one of us. Peace and healing and rain are needed, stat.

My sister sent me this list that she got from her neighborhood Facebook group. We don’t have an air purifier and needed something. It cuts the smoke, purifies the air, makes you relax. I’m just saying, it’s working. The air is so dry and horrible, my asthma has been rough, and this has helped. Be safe, love you all.

WM

Respiratory Hack- Herbal Crock Pot Steamer

Plants often used to help with breathing/lungs include:

  • Rosemary Rosmarinus officinalis
  • Juniper Juniperus
  • Cedar Thuja occidentalis
  • Sage Salvia
  • Mugwort/Sagebrush Artemisia
  • Bee Balm Monarda
  • Thyme
  • Oregano
  • Eucalyptus

My sis and I are using the handy-dandy Crockpots, but you could just as easily use a big pot of (uncovered) water on the stove. Bring to boil and then simmer, uncovered. Turn it off before you go to bed, cover it, then turn it back on again in the morning. Will be good for a couple of three days. Just keep adding more herbs, citrus and oils. I added:

Peppermint tea bags

Tea with lemon balm/chamomile

Lemon slices

And half a bag of awesome herbs from Sweet Mountaintop Farm and my dear Kate.

Any kinds of herbs are going to be nice, oregano, basil, thyme, rosemary, whatever’s on hand. Or get the store to deliver some stuff.

Pray for rain pray for rain for everywhere in the world that needs it.

Wednesday Book Review: “Pride 1 2 3,” by Michael Joosten & Wednesday Holmes

June 10th, 2020

Pandemic 2020, Corvallis (plus old shots of Beaverton)  💜

(Photo by moi, Nancy Ellen Row Rawley)

i like book reviews. 

For the month of June, we’re celebrating so much. Black Lives Matter, Father’s Day, someday (not soon, but someday) the Covid-19 pandemic will be over… and summer’s arrival. My birthday. And last but definitely not least, Gay Pride.

“Pride 1 2 3,” written by Michael Joosten and illustrated by Wednesday Holmes (Hey! Happy Wednesday, Wednesday) is a new release. (Little Simon, 2020, unpaged, ages babies and up, $7.99.) This colorful little board book takes us right back to the days of “Free to Be, You and Me,” and there is nothing wrong with that. From the bright pink bubble lettering on the title, to the signs (“Be Kind!”) to the diverse families, this is just a great book at just the right time.

Peace. I’ve said it my entire life and I’ll keep saying it, even after it finally happens. PEACE, BABIES.

 

Tuesday Book Review — prayers & meditation & finding my way: “The Little Book of Prayers,” Santa Biblia/Holy Bible, “Brave Enough,” “Prayers for Hope & Comfort,” “A Year with Rumi” & “Teaching with Fire”

June 9th, 2020

So once upon a time, America was a mess. This has been going on since Christopher Columbus showed up, so let’s start in 1492. That’s a long time, babies. Too long.

I’m not protesting in the streets this time, but I have been lighting my candles at home, talking with family and friends, praying. Meditating. Writing. It’s been intense to see and hear about everyone making changes that people have been trying to make for centuries now. Rest in peace to everyone, all over the world, who has died in the fight, who has died, fighting for justice. Peace and love to everyone out there who is fighting.

It’s long overdue, peace and justice. It should have happened a long time ago, but if it’s finally going to happen… now? I’ll take now.

Here are the books that are getting me through, it’s the usual cast of characters:

“The Little Book of Prayers,” edited by David Schiller. I think this one is just about perfect.

Santa Biblia/Holy Bible — various authors. My kids’ dad gifted me this, many years ago. I like practicing my Spanish. :)

“Brave Enough,” by Cheryl Strayed

“Prayers for Hope and Comfort,” by Maggie Oman Shannon

“A Year with Rumi: Daily Readings”

“Teaching with Fire: Poetry That Sustains the Courage to Teach,” edited by Sam M. Intrator & Megan Scribner

Book Reviews: “Wreck This Journal,” “In My Heart” and “Human(Kind)”

April 19th, 2020

Woof and meow 💜

Photo by Nancy Ellen Row Rawley

Woof and meow 💜

At home, a couple of years ago — Photo by Steve Rawley/use with permission only

Well, how about some book reviews? We can still read. Books are allowed, even in a pandemic. Even though the libraries are closing. And the bookstores. Rough times. I am not a medical expert, I’m just a worried mom. We’re okay at our house; hope you and yours are as well. Let’s all be well together, apart. I can’t do much about any of this, but I can keep posting recipes, and book reviews. It’s not much but it’s all I’ve got.

Here’s a good bread recipe that I have been baking in our breadmaker a bunch lately. Bon appetit, babies.

Yummy White Bread a la Wacky Mommy

1 1/4 cups warm (not hot) water
3 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon vegetable oil, butter or shortening
1 package (2 teaspoons) dry yeast

Add to breadmaker in order given; bake on setting for 2-pound loaf, light crust. Enjoy.

And now, book reviews… what’s in the hopper?

“Wreck This Journal,” by Keri Smith (A Penguin Book, 2020, $16). This series is a lot of fun, my kids, their friends and my students have enjoyed the books over the years. This one is in color, which is cool. Pages encourage the user to “work only with colors you hate,” “drip something here” or “mix so many colors they turn to mud.” All of the prompts are pretty fun. 

The author also has a website and some inspiration exploration on Instagram.

“In My Heart,” by Mackenzie Porter, illustrated by Jenny Lovile (Little Simon, 2020, all ages, $7.99). This sweet board book was released on March 10th, just before many of us in America went into quarantine, and before the schools all closed. It’s a tender, beautifully illustrated book about a little girl who is missing her mom, who is busy at work. But she knows she will see her soon, likes that they are eating the same food, just in two different places, and they know that even “though we’re not together, we’re never truly apart, because you’re always on my mind and you’re always in my heart.”

The poignancy of that little refrain takes on a whole new meaning now, and it makes the book even more lovely than it already was.

Me, even though I’m a big girl? Missing mommy. She’s doing fine, and we’re all checking on her. We’ll get to see each other soon. Or eventually. But we will see each other, and I’m looking forward to taking her out for brunch, and having our coffee. Together.

I’m getting some guidance and support from “Human(Kind): How Reclaiming Human Worth and Embracing Radical Kindness Will Bring Us Back Together,” by Ashlee Eiland (WaterBrook, 2020, 224 pages, $15.99). Inspirational book by the formation and preaching pastor at Mars Hills Bible Church. Each personal essay has a title and a theme (curiosity, belonging, expectation). They’re thoughtful. Words can hurt, but with books like Eiland’s? Words help.

Be safe, be well, talk soon.

Nancy  

(PS — disclaimer — my family is employed by Amazon, but we aren’t paid for my book links.)

 

Sunday Recipe Club: Seven-Layer Salad

April 5th, 2020

Woof and meow 💜



Recipe of the Day — Seven-Layer Salad with Creamy Salsa Vinaigrette

– For the Dressing
1/2 cup Greek yogurt or coconut milk
1/2 cup mild or med salsa
2 tablespoons mayo
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 heaping tablespoon chopped green onions
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

– For the Salad
1 to 2 heads romaine lettuce, roughly chopped
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 med red onion, sliced or chopped
1/2 cup green olives, sliced
3/4 cup corn kernels (thawed from frozen or fresh from the cob – no need to cook)
fresh mango.
1 avocado, chopped
1 orange bell pepper, chopped
3 cups cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, dill, and/or basil, chopped

Bon appetit!ReplyForward

Getting through Pandemic 2020, one damn recipe at a time

March 28th, 2020

Do you know how long the Great Flu Epidemic of 1918 (102 years ago) lasted? About three years. That’s right. From January 1918, approximately, til December 1920. That is insane. Three years.

Let’s not do that, okay? Please.

My great-grandmother, Miz Pearline, died in the epidemic, the story has been passed down to us. “I know,” my daughter told me yesterday, “She was my age. I know, I know, Gma told me. She was my age, Mom!!”) (Thanks, Ma. Now my baby is worried.) She left behind my then 3-year-old grandfather (Mom’s dad) and his 1 1/2 year old sister. They never got over the loss, understandably, and the rest of us really haven’t, either. That kind of grief cuts deep.

So let’s hope we get out in front of this soon. Do everything you can, in your power, ok? Start by calling, e-mailing or IM’ing some friends and family and telling them you love them fiercely.

I’m going to re-run a recipe a day, alright? Alright.

Let’s start with Chocolate Chip Cookies (I usually do them as a 9×12 pan of bar cookies) and some Lemon (or Orange) Snaps.

Xo and I love you.

WM

Building a new/old life, one plant and one chicken at a time… and Pandemic 2020

March 22nd, 2020

Pandemic 2020, Corvallis (plus old shots of Beaverton)  💜

Pandemic 2020, Corvallis (plus old shots of Beaverton)  💜

“Dancing Chickens” photo by Nancy Ellen Row Rawley

I started this draft a few weeks ago, then got busy getting back to teaching (reading groups, recess and cafeteria duty, and assisting students with special needs. I miss my library and computer lab work, I’ve only been doing a little of that). The kids and I spent the fall and winter doing our usual stuff — being stressed, fighting various viruses, dealing with homework and school and work, pets and livestock, taking care of errands and trying to figure out plans for spring and summer break.

Then the entire world fell apart.

Here are my notes for the draft:

  • planter box/trellis for grapes
  • blackberry cobbler — yes, if you rip out all the blackberries, you’ll have your backyard back, but what will you do for cobblers and crisps? (she says, then rips out all the blackberries and mows down the roots)
  • chickens
  • plants
  • the deer leave these plants alone: herbs, hellebores, daffodils, snowdrops, violets, rhodies and azaleas

I would give anything to go back and remember what it was, exactly, I was doing with that draft. To see where I would have gone with it. To be living in the world that was week before last and not in this fresh hell we’re in right now.

I miss my husband. He’s there for me, for us, for the kids. But I miss being married. But we both have support, and good, kind people in our lives. Our friends and extended families, the grandparents, our neighbors — everyone is okay. So that is good enough for today. For now. We’re still partners, we’re still there for each other. It’s just really different than what it was.

It’s 59 degrees here in the Willamette Valley, sunny and perfect. It’s spring break. And in our state, and others, the governors are telling us we’re in lockdown, please stay at home, please don’t go out unless you have to go to the doctor’s office, or the hospital, or to the store, or to get some exercise, but keep your distance from the other walkers/hikers/skiers/players.

Social distancing. 

And wash your hands. Don’t cough and sneeze on people. Look in on your neighbors. 

I am worried. We’re all scared. There have been so many deaths already from the corona virus, and more to come. But there are also so many people who are having mild cases and getting through it, or even terrible cases of it and getting through it.

People are stepping up like crazy. Except for the President and his crew, they’re just all crazy. We’ll survive them, and the virus.

My friend Elaine has me hooked on the Hallmark Channel — we’re watching nonstop “Golden Girls” re-runs and Christmas movies over here, even though it’s March. I picked up a bunch of four-dollar sale books from Winco; I’ve started them and they’re all good. 

Adriana Trigiani’s “Kiss Carlo”

Wally Lamb’s “I’ll Take You There”

Phillip Lewis’s “The Barrowfields”

Sara Blaedel’s “The Undertaker’s Daughter”

Prayers, peace, and good thoughts. Be well and be safe.

xo

Wacky Mommy

Hey, hey, what’s up? New Book Review, a la Wacky Mommy: “The Bug Girl (A True Story,” by Sophia Spencer, Margaret McNamara & Kerascoet; “Hello, World!” series: “Rainforest Animals” & “Construction Site,” by Jill McDonald; “The Story Pirates Present: Quest for the Crystal Crown,” by Annabeth Bondor-Stone, Connor White & Joe Todd-Stanton

February 16th, 2020

Sky and ocean

(My Favorite Piano, photo by Nancy Ellen Row Rawley)

Yay, new books, yay!

* “The Bug Girl (A True Story)” (Schwartz & Wade Books, 2020, ages 4 and older, 44 pages, $17.99). This one was written by the “Bug Girl herself,” the cover says, Sophia Spencer, with Margaret McNamara, illustrated by Kerascoet. Wow, that was a mouthful. But not a mouthful of bugs, which, as we all know, is no dang fun.

Being bullied is also no dang fun, and that’s what Sophia faced in real life, just because she loved bugs. But she got through it, with the help of her mom and some cool scientist friends. And now we can all hear her story. Sophia’s story is inspiring and beautiful. She’s a fourth grader now, and lives with her mama in Canada.

* Two new books board books have been released from the “Hello, World!” series. Both were written by Jill McDonald. “Rainforest Animals” and “Construction Site” (Doubleday Books for Young Readers, 2020, 0-3 years, $7.99 apiece). I do love this series. The candy colors are inviting and sweet, and just like “The Bug Girl,” both books are full of good words and facts.

* Book of the week: “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe,” C.S. Lewis (Scholastic, 1950, 189 pages). I’m re-reading this with the second graders at the school where I’m working this year. Haven’t read it since I was a kid, and it’s neat to see it through their eyes. “Hey, was this a movie?” Yes, and the movie was good, but the book is even better. (Smiles.)

* “Quest for the Crystal Crown,” a new release in the Story Pirates Series, is a lot of fun. (Random House Books for Young Readers, 2020, ages 8-12, 288 pages, $13.99.) My students are liking this series, too, with its “Choose Your Own Adventure” spirit.

Bon appetit, babies!

WM

Monday Recipe Club: Lemon Snaps & Chocolate Chip Cookies

January 27th, 2020

Sky and ocean

(Photo by Nancy Ellen Row Rawley)

The holidays seem like forever ago now, but we had fun. Hope you did, too.

I did a lot of baking to share with friends, co-workers and us, the cookie monsters. I baked a spiral-cut ham, thank you Winco, homemade mac and cheese, meatballs, more meatballs, and lots and lots of cookies. I was watching the Sopranos (for the dozenth time. My version of the 12 Days of Christmas) and Carmela… with the ziti. With the sweet sausage. With the lasagna with the layer of fresh basil. With the espresso and the Lemon Snaps for the church bake sale. I love that girl, I love that character.

These are my two new/old favorite recipes.

Lemon Snaps

2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons lemon zest
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons vanilla
Powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease cookie sheets.

Stir together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and lemon zest. (Wait. I didn’t have lemons so I used satsumas and oh yes. Great idea.)

Pour in the oil, lemon juice and vanilla. Stir.

Drop cookie dough by teaspoonfuls into the powdered sugar, then transfer to cookie sheet. Bake for 7 to 12 mins or until browned.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) of butter
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 eggs
2 cups chocolate chips (I like a mix of white and milk chocolate)

Cream together butter and sugars, add eggs and vanilla. Mix in the rest of the ingredients, adding chocolate chips last. Drop by teaspoonsful onto greased cookie sheets, bake about 10 minutes at 350 degrees. I prefer these as a bar cookie. Spread the dough into a greased 9×13 pan, bake about 15-20 minutes.

Bon appetit, babes. Happy Year of the Rat.

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