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Wednesday Book Review: “Still Alice,” by Lisa Genova; “The Night Gardener: A Search for Home,” by Marjorie Sandor; “Making Time for Making Music: How to Bring Music into Your Busy Life,” by Amy Nathan

June 27th, 2018

June 2018
(Photo by I don’t know who)

June 2018
(Photo by Nancy Ellen Row Rawley)

“Still Alice,” by Lisa Genova (SimonandSchuster.com, 2007, 293 pages). I remember watching the Julianne Moore film based on this novel when it came out in 2014 — Kristen Stewart and Alec Baldwin co-starred and were great, but Julianne Moore just owned the film. I found the novel to be a profoundly beautiful and upsetting work. It was so good. Genova holds a Ph.D. in neuroscience from Harvard, and is a columnist for the National Alzheimer’s Association. She is a big deal and all, and knows her stuff, but the only thing I care about is that she wrote a touching, insightful novel that will help others understand the inner workings of someone’s ravaged mind, and that will make you cry, too. Great novel.

June 2018

(Photo by my kid)

“The Night Gardener: A Search for Home,” by Marjorie Sandor (The Lyons Press, 1999, 206 pages). Beautiful collection of essays by this Corvallis, Oregon/Oregon State University writer and teacher. I came across this book awhile back and am glad it found me.

June 2018

(Photo by my kid)

“Making Time for Music: How to Bring Music Into Your Busy Life,” by Amy Nathan (Oxford University Press, 2018, 280 pages, $24.95). Great resource to get grown-ups inspired to begin or renew a love of music. The book includes a comprehensive reference section, as well. Nathan’s other books include “The Music Parents’ Survival Guide: A Parent-to-Parent Conversation,” and “The Young Musician’s Survival Guide.” Now go play.

June 2018

Bon appetit, babies.

WM

life in the country

June 14th, 2018

We have skunks. They stink, but so do a lot of things, lol.

Photos by me, Nancy E. Row Rawley, gardener at large.

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“Mae”

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“Henna and McNugget”

Chickens

“Leggy Peggy”

All for now, back to it.

XOXOXO

WM

Friday Book Review: Tiny Bible Tales — “Daniel in the Lions’ Den” & “Miriam and Pharaoh’s Daughter,” by W.C. Bauers & Marta Costa; Loryn Brantz’s “Feminist Baby Finds Her Voice!”; plus Maria Shriver’s “I’ve Been Thinking… Reflections, Prayers, and Meditations for a Meaningful Life”

June 2nd, 2018

All photos by moi, Nancy Ellen Row Rawley, and are not for steal.

Chickens
“The Girls, Strutting”

More from Tiny Bible Tales… “Daniel in the Lions’ Den,” and “Miriam and Pharaoh’s Daughter,” both written by W.C. Bauers and illustrated by Marta Costa (Grosset & Dunlap, 2018, ages 3-5, $7.99). More from this series of board books. Daniel is trapped in the lions’ den, but an angel and God watch over him and he is free. Miriam and her mother save their brother and son, Moses, by setting him adrift in a basket, where Pharaoh’s daughter finds him. Sweet illustrations and rhyming words make for an easy introduction to these Bible stories.

Chickens
“Mine”

“Feminist Baby Finds her Voice!” by Loryn Brantz. (Disney-Hyperion, 2018, all ages, but especially 2-5, $9.99.) This crazy series… The naked baby girls are back, fighting for their rights to milk, equality, love, flair, the right to speak and all the rest. Really good fun, and the lettering and illustrations are lively.

Chickens
“My Boy”

“Some people believe holding on and hanging in there are signs of great strength. However, there are times when it takes much more strength to know when to let go and then do it.” — Ann Landers, quoted in Maria Shriver’s new book, “I’ve Been Thinking… Reflections, Prayers, and Meditations for a Meaningful Life.” (Pamela Dorman Books/Viking, 2018, 225 pages, $20.)

This latest collection of essays, prayers and affirmations is a solid little self-help book. Shriver has been through a lot, to put it mildly, and so has her family. Self-inflicted? Sure. A mess they landed in? That, too. Bad decisions? Often. Bad luck? Some of it. It’s inspiring to see what she’s made to help fight her demons. Her books are useful, and that’s all we’re looking for sometimes, and in need of.

Peace.

Spring garden — Corvallis

All for now. Bon appetit, darlings.

WM

anatomy of my marriage. plus pictures of roses.

May 16th, 2018

me and my first doggie

(Photo by my late father, James David Row, probably. Circa 1966.)

See how happy I am there, age 2, with my dog, Peaches? I’m wearing slippers that my granny knitted for me. Cuz she loved me. The dolly? The doll cradle that we will later sand and paint and turn into a doll cradle for our daughter, and oh, my Lord. The sweetness of our daughter, age 2, climbing into the cradle with her dolly and her blankie and smiling up at us. Best.

Date nite

(Photo by us.)

Steve + Nancy on a date, Los Lobos concert, 8/12/12, Tualatin Valley Parks & Rec summer show, Beaverton, Ore. How do I remember the date and the details? Because we blogged our whole lives. Then it blew up. Then next thing you know…

Yeah. I’ll spare you the gory details.

So what does this tell you, other than dog people should marry dog people and cat people should marry cat people? (“War of the Roses.” War of the Rawleys.)

Don’t marry someone who tells you what you can and cannot plant in your garden.

He doesn’t like roses; I do.

I’m a June baby, they’re my birth month flower, I’m from the City of Roses. But the way he whined about them — the black spot! The aphids! The thorns and the hassle and what is the point of roses, exactly? NO ROSES FOR YOU. (Except a bouquet if you demand them, for Valentine’s Day or your birthday or something.)

My new place? So many roses. (All of these photos by moi, Nancy Ellen Row Rawley.)

Spring garden — Corvallis

These are the first ones to bloom. They came out today. They’re hanging over a trellis in my garden. Note the black spot? I do not give care about the black spot. It’s only May, how can there already be black spot, aiiiiiii, etc. Come on. You can cut off those leaves and little branches, try not to water at night (it makes it worse), but end of the day? Who cares? The old lady who lived here before me, Boots, was Welsh, and her whole goal in life was to recreate the Welsh countryside. I’m Irish. I appreciate everything she did around here, it’s gorgeous.

Spring garden — Corvallis

(Rhodies galore, mostly light and dark pinks, very girly.)

Spring garden — Corvallis

Nice yellow.

Spring garden — Corvallis

I can’t tell yet what color these are going to be, but I’ll tell you one thing — they’re already covered with aphids and I do not care. I hosed them off, they’re beautiful. They’re big, and they’re climbing all over the place. Next to them is the big, overgrown forsythia, and I’m not pruning it back much, because the chickens need a place to hide and stay cool this summer.

Spring garden — Corvallis

Spring garden — Corvallis

Iris, more iris, and life, always sweeter over the other side of the septic tank. (That’s what you want to plant in your septic field, by the way. Something with low-growing roots, not deep roots, with lots of space to let the clean, run-off water evaporate. (My garden is uphill from the septic tank and field, thank you.)

Lots of big oaks around here. That’s actually a maple, sorry. There are oaks up and down the road, they’re majestic. I kinda love Corvallis, and all the trees. It’s good here.

Spring garden — Corvallis

Here’s all I have to say: I loved my old man. I did my best, we have these two great kids, and I finally have my roses. (I’ve counted nine or ten bushes so far, including some wild roses that are going nuts from having a little attention. The garden hadn’t received enough loving the past few years. It happens.)

xoxoxoxox and bon appetit!

WM

Thursday Book Review: “Fuzzy Yellow Ducklings,” by Matthew Van Fleet; “Wish,” by Matthew Cordell; “Stay Close to Mama,” by Toni Buzzeo & Mike Wohnoutka & “Off & Away,” by Cale Atkinson

April 26th, 2018

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(Picture of a painting by moi)

One old favorite and three new ones:

“Fuzzy Yellow Ducklings,” by Matthew Van Fleet, (Dial Books for Young Readers, 1995) was one that my own kids were happy to read over (and over, and over) and I was, too. Touch a fuzzy yellow circle, a sticky pink line, a furry gray square, and watch the shapes transform into ducklings, frogs and koalas. Beautifully assembled and fun.

“Wish” by Matthew Cordell (Disney-Hyperion, 2015, $8.99). Because when a mama and a papa really want a baby, they will do anything to make it happen. Great companion book to “Dream,” another Cordell title.

“Stay Close to Mama,” by Toni Buzzeo, illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka (Disney-Hyperion, 2012, $6.99). Darling board book from the creators of “Just Like My Papa” and “My Bibi Always Remembers.” Baby Twiga wants to venture out into the big world, but he also doesn’t want to stray too far from mama. (Twiga is Swahila for giraffe.)

“Off & Away,” by Cale Atkinson (Disney-Hyperion, 2018, $16.99). Oh, to be a young girl, off on an adventure at sea. When Jo’s seafaring dad is too sick to deliver the mail, she is is charge of getting the bottles to the recipients. Cool art, and a good story.

We lost our first chicken…

April 20th, 2018

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(“Historia, Historia,” pic by Nancy Ellen Row Rawley)

When Gardenburgers ™ were first invented, by a Portland guy who owned a really superfine supercool house in Southeast Portland, btw, one of the other tasty tidbits they invented was a Gardentaco.

They did a funny ad, black & white as I recall, and it had a line drawing of the Gardentaco in a shell.

“Looks funny, but fits!”

But the best line? “The average person, in their lifetime, eats 700 chickens! Let your 700 live!” I thought that was cute.

Did you know you can toast Gardenburgers in the toaster? You can. So when my vegetarian sis and I were in college, and broke, we toasted a *lot* of Gardenburgers.

My cousin, visiting and heading straight to the kitchen, used to say, “Something about walking into your house makes me want to toast a Gardenburger.” lol.

Oh, Historia, Historia… She was our chicken. She was egg-bound (the eggs couldn’t come out. She was a big girl who laid big, gorgeous eggs.) There were two stuck in there. So I took her to the vet and they told me that for a grown chicken to be egg-bound like that was generally a “secondary symptom,” or something, meaning she had another problem and the eggs not coming out was just a sign that something else was wrong. Tumors. She hadn’t been grooming herself, was listless and in pain. She had a lame foot and it hurt her to walk.

So I had her euthanized and now I’m just sad because, dammit, chickens. And also? I don’t really want to eat chicken anymore, it depresses me. Do you know how much chicken is always on the menu? A lot. My friend Gigi says, kindly, “Chickens are disposable.”

(huge sigh.)

Let your 700 live.

Sorry this post is sad but life in the country is sometimes sad. PS the gardener said next time he’ll take care of it, if one of the chickens gets old and sick (which they will. That’s life). Also? Can I deal with the poison oak out back cuz he’s hugely allergic to it?

I’m hoping I’m not.

I miss Steve all the time, not just some of the time. That sucks. Twenty years is a long time to be married, and then have your partner go missing on you.

xo

WM

Wednesday Book Review: “Roar: A Dinosaur Tour,” by Michael Paul; Wee Society’s “Go! My Adventure Journal”; Life in the Country, it’s righteous

April 11th, 2018

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(Star Magnolia — Photo by Nancy Ellen Row Rawley)

First up…

*“Roar: A Dinosaur Tour,” by Michael Paul (Crown Books, 2018, ages 2-5, 40 pages, $16.99). Super cute (can you say that about dinosaurs?). The illustrations remind me of Ezra Jack Keats’ work, with the paper cut-outs. (I’m not sure if this one was computer-designed or not, but it’s colorful and has good movement.) Why do kids like dinosaurs so much? They’re bigger than parents, and they’re extinct. The pronunciation guide in the front is great, too.

Now, some notes about life in the country. I’ve never lived in the country before. Well, okay, I did once, but I wasn’t there for very long. The plumbing kept breaking, and no working toilets + no working shower/tub means I’m out of there, babies. But we did have a creek, and crawdads, and that was good. I have a creek here, too. It’s a come-and-go creek — it only runs part of the year.

That’s cool.

Spring day/country

(“Pluck-Pluck!” photo by Nancy Ellen Row Rawley)

That’s not my creek, those are my chickens. They lay red eggs and green eggs and brown eggs. They’re versatile as hell.

Spring day/country

(“Up a Crick,” photo by Nancy Ellen Row Rawley)

That’s my creek.

Next book…

*”Let’s Go!” (Clarkson Potter, Wee Society, $14.99.) Wee Society also brought us “A Box of Awesome Things,” which was, indeed, awesome, “Me: A Compendium,” “An Incomplete Book of Awesome Things” and “Wee Alphas Postcards.” Very fun book to take along on a trip, so kids can record all kinds of stuff. Postcards and stickers included, score!

Spring day/country

(“Rose in April,” photo by Nancy Ellen Row Rawley)

That is one of my roses. The deer haven’t broken down the deer fence yet, so I have about half a dozen in the garden. The chickens weeded all around them and aerated the dirt, so I’m thinking we’ll all going to have a good summer, the chickens, the roses, the deer and me.

Ciao, babies.

WM

Wednesday Book Review, with love from me to you: “Poe Won’t Go,” by Kelly DiPucchio & Zachariah Ohora; “We Don’t Eat Our Classmates,” by Ryan T. Higgins; “Dear Substitute,” by Liz Garton Scanlon, Audrey Vernick & Chris Raschka; plus an update on your girl, Wacky Mommy

April 4th, 2018

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(Photo by Nancy R.)

Hello, loveys!

I’m writing at Starbucks, sucking up their handy free wifi, because the country doesn’t have internet. Well, it will once the cable guy shows up, but who knows when that will happen. Above? Those are my chickens! Hello, ladies! I have a little flock now. They’re not too much work. They like to snuggle, WTH? I didn’t expect that. But they sometimes have ticks, mites and chicken lice and dang, the country is sure fun! One of them laid an egg without a shell, that was weird. (Yes, they’re getting their calcium, it was stress from the skunks living under their coop, I think? So we have an appointment with the pest control guy, the ladies and I. Country living, it’s where it’s at.)

Yes, I do have the theme to “Green Acres” going through my head several times a day, thanks for asking.

The neighbor girls are enthralled by the chickens, my son is great about helping clean the coop and care for them, and I have eggs to sell and give away. So… long-time readers will recall all the times I made fun of “chicken people.” hahahahahahaha, the joke is on me, babies. I (heart) chickens.

Silver linings, here and there. Steve and I got divorced, I moved to a new town, found a new job, made some new friends and caught up with old friends. My kids get some freedom and don’t have to deal with dueling parents anymore, I have a house in the country now (see: ticks, see: skunks, see: my dogs chasing deer), and I still write. And someone gave me a flock of chickens, food and a coop, and there I go. “Reboot Time,” as my late ex-husband would say. The dogs have expressed an interest in “getting to know” the chickens better. This request has been denied.

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(Photo by Nancy R.)

Nice, fresh, organic eggs. Because chickens.

On to the book reviews…

* “Poe Won’t Go,” written by Kelly DiPucchio and illustrated by Zachariah Ohora (Disney-Hyperion, 2018, ages 3-5, 40 pages, $17.99). What is up with Poe? He’s sitting in the middle of the road in Prickly Valley and just. Won’t. Move.

“People begged. Please? And booed. Jeez! and bribed. Cheese? But Poe still wouldn’t go.”

Retro illustrations, a funny story, and who doesn’t love a stubborn elephant?

* “We Don’t Eat Our Classmates,” by Ryan T. Higgins (Disney-Hyperion, on sale June 19, 2018, ages 3-5, 48 pages, $17.99). C’mon, Penelope Rex. You can want to eat your friends up, but you can’t actually eat your friends up. Where do people come up with these cool ideas for kids’ books? Cracks me up that they put a disclaimer in the front: “You will never be eaten by a T. rex. They are extinct. I promise.” Lol.

Penelope is nervous about starting school, in spite of being reassured by her parents. In spite of her new backpack with ponies on it. In spite of her lunch of 300 tuna sandwiches (and one apple juice). Will everyone like her before she accidentally eats them up? Cool illustrations, a funny (and educational!) story, and a goldfish named Walter. Perfecto.

* “Dear Substitute,” by Liz Garton Scanlon & Audrey Vernick, illustrated by Chris Raschka (Disney-Hyperion, release date June 19, 2018, ages 3-5, 40 pages, $17.99). This book is so good that if I was rich, I’d buy a copy and give it to every substitute teacher I could find. Where’s Mrs. Giordano? Who is this Miss Pelly-like-a-pelican? Doesn’t she know that library is today? And that the classroom turtle might die if his tank doesn’t get cleaned?

Something that adults really minimize is that children worry. Oh, how they worry. Adults know this, but they assume that they know what kids are worrying about.

They don’t.

Sweet illustrations by the ever-talented Chris Raschka, great poetry by Scanlon and Vernick. Two thumbs up.

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(Photo by Nancy R.)

Those are daffodils from my yard. I’ve counted half a dozen different varieties. They make me happy. The Lenox vase was a wedding gift, twenty years ago this summer, from my first grade teacher. She was there, with her daughter. Love & marriage/love & marriage. It’s true with (mostly) everything, right? Silver linings. I miss being married, but I don’t miss being lonely.

All for now.

xo and bon appetit!

WM

PS — my disclaimer. It needs an update — I haven’t sold ads on here in years. They kept crashing shit.

Tuesday Book Review: “Groundhug Day,” by Anne Marie Pace, illustrated by Christopher Denise; “A Hippy-Hoppy Toad,” by Peggy Archer & Anne Wilsdorf; “Poppy, Buttercup, Bluebell & Dandy,” by Fiona Woodcock

March 27th, 2018

“Groundhug Day,” by Anne Marie Pace, illustrated by Christopher Denise, is first on my review list today. OK, “Groundhug,” get it? Super cute. This Valentine’s book is way overdue for a review. Groundhog’s friends try to fake him out — they don’t want him to disappear for six weeks after Groundhog Day and miss candy and hearts day. Spoiler alert: There’s a lot of hugging going on in this book. Sweet, funny, and darling illustrations. (Disney-Hyperion, 2017, $17.99.)

“A Hippy-Hoppy Toad,” by Peggy Archer and Anne Wilsdorf, is a good one to read to the kiddos as part of a round-up of spring books. A small toad is minding his own, trying to avoid birds, dogs, crickets and everyone else who is bothering him. Nice earth tones for the illustrations, and a good cadence to the story. (Schwartz & Wade Books, 2018, 40 pages, ages 3-7, $16.99.)

The sweet fairies in “Poppy, Buttercup, Bluebell & Dandy” (book by the charmingly-named Fiona Woodcock), want to lively things up colorfully in a world that has turned flat and gray. The author/illustrator uses blow pens, stencils and cool printing techniques for her art. She has a unique style, it’s beautiful, light, and springs off the page. (This is another good one for a spring round-up.) The story? It’s good, too. You know I love a little “hey kids, let’s put on a show!” (Random House Books for Young Readers, 2018, 32 pages, ages 3-7, $17.99.)

xo, bon appetit, and happy spring from WM

Wednesday Book Review, my friends: “drawn together,” by Minh Le, illustrated by Dan Santat; “A Kiss Goodnight,” Disney; “This Story Is For You,” by Greg Pizzoli & “Marvel Super Hero Adventures: Deck the Malls!” by MacKenzie Cadenhead & Sean Ryan

March 21st, 2018

“drawn together,” by Minh Le, illustrated by Dan Santat (Disney-Hyperion Books, on sale June 5th, 2018, $17.99, 40 pages, ages 3-5). I know that they have to, for sales purposes, but I wish book publishers didn’t tag everything with an “age label.” I love picture books! I always have, I always will, and also? The big kids who are struggling to read can sometimes be coaxed into it with a cool picture book. (Have I gone off on this tirade before? The “don’t pigeon-hole picture books, dang it!” tirade? Possibly.) (Idea #15: You hand a picture book to a big kid, even a grown-up who is in need, and you say, “It will give you ideas for your art.” Alternately, “It will give you ideas.” lol.)

All of this leads to my first review, and this book? This book pulls away from the pack, I must say. (But the others are pretty awesome, too.) You can pre-order from whoever, or just wait until June when it’s released.

Minh Le is first-generation Vietnamese-American who also wrote “Let Me Finish!” and has written for the New York Times, the Horn Book and the Huffington Post. His bio says that he likes to spend time with his wife and sons, and his other favorite spot is “in the middle of a good book.” Awww…

“drawn together” is the (possibly? mostly?) autobiographical story of a young boy and his grandfather. It’s drawn beautifully by Dan Santat (Caldecott Award winner for “The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend” — brilliant book, my students really enjoyed it), where was I going with this, y’all? Santat illustrates it in the style of a graphic novel, then morphs into explosions of color that would work well as large-scale paintings. It’s a cool surprise, like the “Horse of a Different Color” in the “Wizard of Oz.”

I’m just saying.

Next up?

“A Kiss Goodnight” is what Walt Disney called the nightly fireworks display (which was his idea) at Disneyland. Richard Sherman wrote the song, and Disney came up with a companion book, based on Walt’s hardscrabble childhood, and his journey to create Disneyland. Cool book, sweet song, and it comes with a CD. (Published by Disney, but of course, 2017, $19.99.)

“This Story Is For You,” written and illustrated by Greg Pizzoli, is a great way of expressing to kids just how important they are to us. (Disney-Hyperion, on sale April 3rd, 2018, 48 pages, $16.99, ages 3-5 — or is it? lol.) Pizzoli’s other books include “Good Night Owl,” “Templeton Gets His Wish” and “Number One Sam.”

I completely overlooked “Marvel’s Super Hero Adventures, Deck the Malls!” over the holidays. (Marvel Kids, by MacKenzie Cadenhead and Sean Ryan, 2017, 77 pages, $4.99.) This lively early chapter book stars Spider-Man, Spider-Gwen and Venom.

Go, go, go!

Bon appetit, babies.

WM

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