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QOTD: Thoreau

September 22nd, 2008

“Let your capital be simplicity and contentment.”

— Henry David Thoreau, naturalist and author (1817-1862)

have a relaxing weekend, would ya?

September 20th, 2008

Sarah Palin Loves Banned Books

September 19th, 2008

“When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross.”
— Sinclair Lewis, 1935

Governor Palin is a big reader, I hear! I’m thinking of sending her a copy of “The Witches,” by Roald Dahl. Because we all need to read more, no?

In honor of the ACLU’s celebration of banned books (an annual tradition since 1982), here are a few of Sarah’s and my favorites…

(These are books that regularly make the “hit list” for stodgy types who want to see books go bye-bye.)

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden
As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
Blubber by Judy Blume
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
Carrie by Stephen King
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
Christine by Stephen King
Confessions by Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Cujo by Stephen King
Curses, Hexes, and Spells by Daniel Cohen
Daddy’s Roommate by Michael Willhoite
A Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Peck
Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
Decameron by Boccaccio
East of Eden by John Steinbeck
Fallen Angels by Walter Myers
Fanny Hill (Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure) by John Cleland
Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes
Forever by Judy Blume
Grendel by John Champlin Gardner
Halloween ABC by Eve Merriam
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Prizoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
Have to Go by Robert Munsch
Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman
How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell
Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
Impressions edited by Jack Booth
In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak
It’s Okay if You Don’t Love Me by Norma Klein
James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
Lady Chatterley?s Lover by D.H. Lawrence
Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
Little Red Riding Hood by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Love is One of the Choices by Norma Klein
Lysistrata by Aristophanes
More Scary Stories in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz
My Brother Sam Is Dead by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
My House by Nikki Giovanni
My Friend Flicka by Mary O?Hara
Night Chills by Dean Koontz
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer
One Day in The Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn
One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Ordinary People by Judith Guest
Our Bodies, Ourselves by Boston Women’s Health Collective
Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy
Revolting Rhymes by Roald Dahl
Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones by Alvin Schwartz
Scary Stories in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz
Separate Peace by John Knowles
Silas Marner by George Eliot
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
The Bastard by John Jakes
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
The Devil’s Alternative by Frederick Forsyth
The Figure in the Shadows by John Bellairs
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
The Headless Cupid by Zilpha Snyder
The Learning Tree by Gordon Parks
The Living Bible by William C. Bower
The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare
The New Teenage Body Book by Kathy McCoy and Charles Wibbelsman
The Pigman by Paul Zindel
The Seduction of Peter S. by Lawrence Sanders
The Shining by Stephen King
The Witches by Roald Dahl
The Witches of Worm by Zilpha Snyder
Then Again, Maybe I Won’t by Judy Blume
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare
Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary by the Merriam-Webster Editorial Staff
Witches, Pumpkins, and Grinning Ghosts: The Story of the Halloween Symbols by Edna Barth

A note from A.T., re: Snopes and Sarah Palin:

“It did not totally exonerate Palin. Snopes said that list of books was never banned, and Palin never banned books in Alaska. But, what is most notable is that there are confirmed reports from a librarian that Palin questioned her three times about the consequences of book banning. Palin said that was just informational. Palin also fired the librarian in 1997 because the mayor felt she didn’t have the librarian’s “full support”. The librarian was re-instated after one day due to public outcry.”

Thursday Thirteen, Ed. #163: Killer dwarf frog, guppie babies and more!

September 17th, 2008

Hey — do you remember Thursday 13? I have had no time for months. I will make time. If you can make time to read, I can make time to write (smiles).

1) Yeah, the tranquility of fish tanks is all I can say. Tranquility, my foot. The frog is still on a rampage. The guppy had about 412 babies and guess what? They aren’t safe with her. If there was an aquatic child welfare department, mommy guppies would be getting home visits about twice a day.

2) They are bad mommies. (Ha! Someone on the blogs intimated that I am a “bad” parent for having my children at a “bad” school and not “rescuing” them. Honestly? Honestly. Seriously? Seriously. My kids are so damn happy. I’m an okay mom, thanks for asking.)

3) A few more things on which you need updating: The mommy kitty I rescued a while back? (My first week of work, I believe?) She is going to her new home this weekend, after a brief spay-n-shots trip to the vet. Her kittens? Also have been placed. Well, two of them have been placed. The other two have definite-maybe “forever homes,” as we like to say in the adoption world.

4) Work? Month two. Still haven’t found the coffeepot, but I did find the hot water so I can make myself a nice cuppa tea. (I bring my coffee from home in the morning.)

5) The students? They’re great. They are amazing. They are rock stars.

6) Me? I’m exhausted, thanks for asking!

7) All my blogger friends? I miss them and it makes my days off kilter.


9) I am finishing up Season Five of the Wire and I cannot tell you how much I have loved this show. Even with the violence, the blood, the guns, I have dealt with it. It is the best damn show I have ever, ever watched, and you are talking to a huge fan of The Sopranos, M*A*S*H, the Mary Tyler Moore Show, Six Feet Under, on and on. The Wire is king. Get it on DVD — all five seasons are out now. Watch some of the commentaries, too, so you can get all the players straight — on-camera and off. Such brilliant art.

10) Thanks, SB and MW, for turning me on to this show and insisting I watch it. You were right.

11) I love books. Now reading: “Dough,” a memoir by Mort Zachter about his bakery-owning family and his family’s hidden secrets; “Grace After Midnight,” Felicia “Snoop” Pearson’s memoir (Snoop on the Wire) — such candor and bravery — love and peace to you, girl, you deserve it; “Toy Dance Party,” by Emily Jenkins, with illustrations by Paul O. Zelinsky — funny and sweet, appropriate for older and younger kids alike.

12) What’s up with you? How’s life?

13) Happy Thursday!



Mr. Dalton Sherman, from Charles Rice Learning Center: “I believe in me. Do you believe in me?”

September 16th, 2008

I love this. I love this so much that I’m going to watch this clip each and every time I have a tough day. He is giving the keynote address to some 20,000-plus educators and fans for the Dallas Independent School District.

Dalton, thank you.

Crying in Church

September 14th, 2008

I cry, okay? I’m an emotional person. I cried on my wedding day, I cried both times I gave birth. I cry when I’m happy, when I’m sad, when I’m stressed out, PMS, moved by a piece of music. I cried today in church when my girlfriend made me laugh really hard. I cried because the service was moving. I cry when someone’s mean to me, then I laugh because honestly. Who cares? I don’t cry over stupid comments left on blogs, or people who want to argue politics with me. They’ve got the right to their opinion, lame and ignorant though it may be. And I don’t cry in traffic.

(Today some guy in the car behind me shook his fist at me. Know why? I had stopped — safely, thank you, not slamming on the brakes or something stupid — on an extremely narrow street so an elderly woman could get into her car. She had just gotten out of church. She waved at me. I waved back. This infuriated the guy, and his wife. Honestly, I’m gonna cry over that? I think not.)

Anyway. I cry.

But at my home church (Unitarian, all touchy-feely, allegedly), they’re not criers. Or clappers. Or yelling Amen-ers. They’re a reserved lot. In fact, out of all the times I have cried when I’ve been at church (and I’ve been attending this church two years, so there have been several times I have been moved to tears)… well. Here are some numbers for you:

1) Number of times someone has handed me a tissue: Zero. (I forget the kleenex half the time.)

2) Number of times someone has patted me when I’ve been crying: Zero.

3) Number of times someone has asked how I’m doing: One. (And that was my neighbor, who I already knew. She always asks me how I’m doing cuz you know why? She cares a lot. She is a sweet, Nekkid Neighbor, that one.)

4) Number of times anyone at church has introduced themselves to me (anyone who is not the parent of one of my Sunday School students, make that): Zero.

Today I went back to my old church (Baptist, the faith I grew up in), which is really my girlfriend’s church. She moved away from Portland years ago, but was stayed the weekend with us. Fun. FUN FUN FUN. I love her and miss having her here. Phone and e-mails and postcards are not the same.

Classic: The sermon starts, there I go with the waterworks. I closed my eyes, prayed, tried turning off the tears. I felt someone shoving something into my hand, opened my eyes. It’s my girlfriend, giving me a wad of tissues. She was crying, too.

“Here, kleenex!” she says. “Look, they have boxes all over!”

They do. Every other pew.

You think they heard I’d be there today?

The Proposed Emerald Charter School: Why They Need to Stop Working My Nerves

September 10th, 2008

Lordy, you know my family is not fond of the charter schools. (Thanks to Terry O. for writing about this.)

The children dressed in stripedy clothes and cunning hats. Their parents, patting themselves on the backs. “She is an artist!” “He is a scientist!”

Newsflash: All children are artists and scientists.

Their neighborhood schools will simply, simply, simply not do.

They are “choosing” what’s best for their wee ones by running as far and as fast as they can away from their neighborhood schools. Uh, guys? Where are you going? I thought we were going to volunteer together?

Here’s another proposal! This one wants to crop up where, exactly? Right-o! My (transitional, somewhat diverse, not wealthy) neighborhood. Thanks for asking, hon. No, Emerald Charter School, we don’t want you here. Now go away. (And do you love the lingo with these folks? It’s always “Ivy,” “Emerald,” “Village,” “Trillium,” “Harvest.” Green, feel-good words. While they’re busy burning up gas and oil to get their kids to school. (OK, some of you are in the neighborhood and bike or walk. I will grant you that. But many of you drive to get to those special schools.)

Stop patting yourselves on the backs. Go to your neighborhood schools, already.

Please go fill out their stupid Survey Monkey survey and tell them so. Here’s what I told them:

Please learn enough about my neighborhood schools to know how to spell their names. It is Ockley Green K-8, not “Oakley Green.” For real, why would I want to send my kids to a school where the grown-ups don’t know how to spell?

I am extremely irritated that you include a list of my neighborhood schools here (including the one my children attend) and ask people to “rate” them.

You know what we need in this city? “Rice and beans,” ie, equity and the basics, for everyone, instead of “cake and ice cream,” ie, boutique schools such as the one you’re proposing.

Rice and beans can go a long way toward sustaining a community.

I am opposed to your proposed charter school and would like to let you know why.

1) Charter schools suck away families and resources from neighborhood schools that need them.
2) Charter schools are elitist. By nature, they tend to attract whiter, more monied families.
3) Please put your time and energy somewhere where you will truly make a difference. Read to students, work in the school gardens, write some grants to help pay for books and extras. Be part of our community, not off creating your version of a little utopia that only the few, the special, can attend.

We love our children’s school. They are happy there. They need more rice and beans. Thanks for asking.


Edited to say:
A meeting about the proposed Emerald Charter School will be held at Matt Dishman Community Center, 77 NE Knott, Portland, on Saturday, September 20, at 3 PM. “Each meeting will consist of a 20-30 minute introduction and presentation followed by a question and answer session. Two additional meetings will be announced soon.”

Sarah Bailen Smith is listed as the contact person — 503-309-5662. I’m sure she would love to hear from you. And if you would like to put in a good word for Vernon, Woodlawn, Chief Joseph, Ockley Green, King, Beach, or any other of our fine neighborhood schools, I urge you to attend this meeting and do so.

I love our neighborhood schools and we in the Roosevelt, Jefferson, Madison and Marshall clusters need support — not more divisiveness. Stand together or fall apart. What’s that? Die on your feet or live on your knees?

Yes, I think that’s it.

this fractures me

September 10th, 2008

My kids now call all their stuff — ie, various trikes, Big Wheels, scooters, bikes, wagons, etc. — their “vehicles.” Very official.

As in: “We spent the evening riding our vehicles with the Nekkid Neighbors.”


September 9th, 2008

“You can’t be suspicious of a tree, or accuse a bird or a squirrel of subversion or challenge the ideology of a violet.” — Hal Borland, journalist (1900-1978)

I do not really have any idea at all what that quote means, but I like it. And now, in the spirit of the Chicken Dance…

“I don’t want to be a chicken/
I don’t want to be a duck/
So I shake my butt/
quack quack quack quack”

(my kids’ favorite song. Repeat 10 or 20 times in a row.)

have a super-wonderful day.


did i mention?…

September 9th, 2008

…all I want to do is run away with Vixen?

Wish me luck on fulfilling this long-held dream.


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