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Sunday Book Review — What’s On My Nightstand: “Tricky Twenty-Two,” by Janet Evanovich; “The Time of My Life,” by Patrick Swayze & Lisa Niemi; “The Room-Mating Season,” by Rona Jaffe; “Quest Study Bible/New International Version”; “Left Neglected,” by Lisa Genova; and “Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant,” by Anne Tyler

September 22nd, 2019

So many photos ❤️

(“Yeah, read a book.” Photo by Nancy Ellen Row)

Here’s everything, everything, everything I’m reading at the moment. The stack is toppling over:

* This Janet Evanovich is a lot of fun, I must say. I’ve been reading the Stephanie Plum, New Jersey Bounty Hunter books for awhile now. They’re great. I’m reading the fifth one, “High Five,” and the 22nd one, “Tricky Twenty-Two” at the same time, and that is total OK in the land of Ms. Plum. Book swap! Little Free Library! Take advantage, y’all.

* I found Patrick Swayze’s autobiography, “The Time of My Life,” in the same book swap shelves where I found five or six Stephanie Plum books. People, chances like this do not come along every day. It’s not just his story, though, although it’s definitely an autobiography. This one, co-written with his wife, Lisa Niemi, is one long love letter to their marriage, and that is just what this jaded divorcee needed.

Sometimes people tough it out. He did. She did. They did. They tried and were so strong and committed, to each other, to their careers, to fighting his health issues. And to have lost him so young seems like just a really shitty trick to me, God. I’m just saying.

* Now that I’m thinking about it, I think all of these books came from the free shelves. Rona Jaffe, my goddess, my hero, my inspiration on all-things-female since I found her at age 14, snuck one by me. “The Room-Mating Season” was published in 2003, but starts out in 1963, hello, “Mad Men.” And women. I just started it, so can’t say, but I do see it got some rotten reviews on Thee Internet. I don’t care, I love Jaffe. I just re-read “The Best of Everything” awhile back, and man, that book has aged well. Just like me!

* “The Quest Study Bible/New International Version”– lost and found. Pretty, pretty good.

* “Left Neglected,” by Lisa Genova — just started this one, too. Do you think I read too much? I think I don’t read enough.

* Anne Tyler’s “Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant.” I’ve been a fan of Tyler’s since I read “The Accidental Tourist” in a contemporary lit class in college. This one doesn’t disappoint. I bookmarked a bunch of pages with torn-up bits of grocery lists, but now that I’ve finished the book, and it’s captured me? I don’t feel like sharing. So there. It’s probably my favorite work of hers now.

Bon appetit, darlings.

WM

My Life with Chickens, or The Eggs & I

September 22nd, 2019

Keep Fucking Going

This life...

This life...

(Photos by Nancy Ellen Row Rawley)

I’m tagging this one “advice column,” even though after a year-plus with chickens, I know less than I did before I started keeping them.

It’s true, people.

Chickens will break your heart, but they do provide eggs. I read a blog post, advice from a chicken expert grandma, who said something along the lines of: If they can be eaten by it, drown in it, get trapped under or over it, get electrocuted by it… you get the idea… a chicken will. It’s like constant luck of the Irish, as far as fowl go.

We inherited our first flock of chickens about a year and a half ago, February or March of 2018, from a woman who lived in an apartment complex, kept eight big birds in a too-small coop, and was told by her landlord that they had to go. They were an older flock, with some health issues. Two weren’t laying anymore. They were a combination of Rhode Island Reds, Cuckoo Marans, and Buff Cochins.

We lost one right away to health problems — she had a bad foot and internal problems, as well. She was a Buff Cochin and so lovely.

We lost another two, within weeks, to our blonde Labrador, a female, who was hell-bent on destruction. It was horrible. I saw the whole thing happened, it happened so fast, and she was so much faster than I was. I still have nightmares about it. We secured the gate, which was flimsy, and she hasn’t been able to get in since. We lost one to the neighbor’s dog — she offered to buy us two to replace her (a beautiful Olive Egger who had a friendly, sweet personality) and never did.

We lost Mae, our big, gorgeous, black and gold Cuckoo Maran, to a raptor. And another one, Ackerman, who was a fierce and funny velociraptor of a bird, to a real raptor. Two more to natural causes — old age, peaceful deaths — and now, typing this, I’m getting depressed as fuck. We live in the country, it’s vicious out here — mountain lions, bobcats, skunks and raccoons.

Snakes. Mostly garters, but my son, his friend, and the dog (the lab, who wanted to fight it) saw a rattlesnake down the street a few weeks ago.

Yeah.

We live in the Willamette Valley, in Oregon, on the West Coast. #westcoastbestcoast I have been *told* that rattlers only live in the desert, and high desert, but apparently they like college towns as well.

Jerks.

I’ll go read Lisa’s blog for awhile, Fresh Eggs Daily, she always brightens my day. She’s the go-to girl for tons of stuff, not just chicken, geese and ducks. She has a real farm. I’m just faking it here, aight? Aight.

OK, let’s switch to bullet points:

* Fresh eggs, daily, as Lisa says.

* We don’t wash them — we keep in paper egg cartons in fridge, and let people we sell/gift them to know that they should wash them twice, lightly with soap and warm water, before using.

* They last a long, long, long time, this way. You don’t have to refrigerate them, but we do. Some of our customers don’t though, and that’s fine. (Farm fresh eggs are great for college students — especially if you keep them unrefrigerated in your dorm room, so they don’t get swiped from the communal fridge in the communal dorm kitchen).

* I love my damn chickens. I figured they’d be good company, that they would enjoy the roomy garden and chicken run we provided them with (we’ve repurposed our old garden shed to be a coop, by mounting nesting boxes and two perches, one low and one high). They are. They do. I was hoping that the kids and their friends would enjoy having them around, and they do, more than I ever could have hoped.

* My son has taken the lead on raising the chickens. I bought a small flock of Silkies for him, for Christmas, from a farmer in the country who needed to rehome them. Such a hit, and one of the best (and strangest) Christmas gifts ever. Silkies are fussy — they get broody to the point where they won’t eat, sleep, drink or stop nesting. We have two that we have to gently take out of the nesting boxes two or three times a day. They’re both named Peggy. We name most of our chickens Peggy, or Tiny and Dell, for my late, beloved great-aunts, Luella and Ludell. The rest? Who knows. Zini is the tiny caramel-colored Silkie; Henna is a huge Olive Egger, and along with Dell one of the two remaining birds from the original flock.

* “The squirrel that you kill in jest, dies in earnest.” — Henry David Thoreau

* They are sociable, funny and earnest, my birds. We have 16 now — 3 or 4 roosters, plus 12 or 13 hens. (We let the Silkies hatch some eggs, and ended up with mostly boys. Attitude. We need to rehome a few, but they’re getting along OK for now.)

* They help me stick to a routine. They enjoy the smallest things in life — fruit yogurt parfaits (in an egg carton, yogurt, sprinkled with a bit of raw oats and a handful of berries); they love watermelon. Not fond of green beans (unless they’re picking them themselves off the bush I planted?), broccoli, or honeydew melon. They like cantaloupe and leftover macaroni and cheese.

* I feel like a failure every time we lose a bird, but apparently that’s life with chickens.

* They start laying at about four months. If they get egg-bound, I pick them up, carry them around, and rub their tummies.

* Yeah, I know that sounds weird, but it works.

* No, we don’t eat ours, once they stop laying. They’re livestock, but they’re also pets. It’s a situation.

* Especially with these roosters.

All for now,

xo

Wacky Mommy

Benton Co. Fair 2019, Corvallis, Oregon, USA

September 7th, 2019

Benton Co. Fair 2019

Benton Co. Fair 2019

Benton Co. Fair 2019

Benton Co. Fair 2019

Benton Co. Fair 2019

Benton Co. Fair 2019

Benton Co. Fair 2019

Benton Co. Fair 2019

Benton Co. Fair 2019

(Photos by Nancy Ellen Row Rawley)

Saturday Book Review, for the kids: “Boy Mom: What Your Son Needs Most From You,” by Monica Swanson; “The 47 People You’ll Meet in Middle School,” by Kristin Mahoney

September 7th, 2019

Benton Co. Fair 2019

(“Fleurs,” by Nancy Ellen Row Rawley)

You might know Monica Swanson from her blog, and her most well-known post, “What a Teenage Boy Needs Most From His Mom.” She has four boys, a happy marriage, her faith and God, she lives on Oahu and grows tropical fruit. I wanna go over to her house right now, drink smoothies and hang out.

Her new book, “Boy Mom: What Your Son Needs Most From You” was just released. It’s great. (Waterbrook/Multnomah, 2019, $15.99, 228 pages.) She takes on healthy eating, boundaries/freedoms, prayer and faith, technology and freedom and lots of other stuff. Engaging talk-talk, insight and stories.

Oh, I know Kristin Mahoney. She wrote “Annie’s Life in Lists,” the young adult novel I reviewed a while back. So here’s something new from her, that’s equally fun. “The 47 People You’ll Meet in Middle School,”(Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, Random House Children’s Books, 2019, $16.99, ages 8-12, 304 pages). What are the 47 types? They include, but are not limited to, the scary teacher, the gooser, the cackling eighth-grade boys, Officer Perry, Keira, all as described by Augusta “Gus” to her little sister, Louisa, “Lou,” who is wondering about middle school.

It’s a challenge, Lou. But you can do it.

The advice is going to be helpful for anyone heading into middle school, or already there.

Have a great weekend, y’all. Talk soon.

WM

Friday Book Review — Kids’ Books: “Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood,” by Marjane Satrapi; “Thurgood,” by Jonah Winter & Bryan Collier

September 6th, 2019

Silver Falls, Oregon

Silver Falls State Park, Silverton, Oregon, USA

(Photo by Nancy Ellen Row Rawley)

Of course I want to hear a story from someone who has a strong (and/or sad, intense, funny, moving) story to tell.

This is one heck of a story.

“Persepolis,” by Marjane Satrapi (Pantheon/Random House, Inc.; translation by L’Association, Paris, France; 2003; ages young adult and older) is the first in the series of four graphic novels, Satrapi’s account of growing up in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution. This is an astounding work of art.

We have another outstanding story in “Thurgood,” a new biographical picture book written by Jonah Winter and illustrated by Bryan Collier (Schwartz & Wade Books, Random House Children’s Books, 2019, ages 5 and up, 40 pages, $17.99). Award-winning writer Winter has written a number of titles, including a biography about Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the extraordinary “Lillian’s Right to Vote.”

Collier is, simply, one of those most gifted artists of our time. He has won four Caldecott Honors, including an award for “Rosa,” a book about Mrs. Parks, and one of my favorite picture books ever, which he collaborated on with poet Nikki Giovanni.

Thurgood Marshall, American hero, Civil Rights activist, and the first African-American Supreme Court Justice, was born in 1908 in Baltimore, Maryland, and died in Bethesda, Maryland, in 1993. What he did in the years in between is inspiring, incredible and intense. The book doesn’t pull any punches. He was the star pupil of civil rights attorney Charles Houston, who took him on a road trip to the Deep South to study white vs. black segregated schools.

“FACT: Unlike the white kids’ schools, the black kids’ schools had dirt floors and no restrooms. The students were malnourished and sad. ‘Separate but equal’? Yeah, right.”

Don’t ever think that kids can’t handle books like these, that pack so much honesty, violence, unfairness and truth between the covers. Kids are aware how unfair life can be, and they need tools to change their world for the better.

Enjoy these titles, and have a great weekend.

WM