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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.

letter from my friend/note to a friend

April 16th, 2015

(Photo by Steve Rawley)

Going through old letters and cards — am unable to part with many of them because that’s just how it is around here. Found the best letter from my then-friend, who I am happy to report is also my now-friend, i just had a nice long talk w/ her the other night, well. We’ve been friends for many, many years. Circa 1987, she xeroxed an interesting essay that ran in the New York Times, about a woman who had to go through her aunt’s papers, after she passed. (Only her aunt wasn’t really her aunt, she was her mom’s friend… and she saved everything.) (Sorta like yours truly.) She xeroxed different sections of the article, so it didn’t cut off the edges.

“Hope you can put this together enough to read it,” she wrote. “The last line is, ‘I put it down in ink, all of it.’”

(love.) (love, love, love. and I wish people still wrote letters, sent clippings, poured their hearts out.) (do they? yes or no, you decide.)

also, RIP, dear Tami, 4/6/1964-3/25/2015

Rest In Peace, Rob Ingram

November 28th, 2011

those are words i never in a million years thought i would have to write. Rob Ingram passed away unexpectedly from a heart attack yesterday, Nov. 27th, 2011. Peace and prayers to Rob’s beautiful wife and five amazing kids. He got more done in less than four decades than most people accomplish in a lifetime. This is a huge loss to all of us, but to his family most of all. Rob, thank you for all the work you did.

this is an interview Steve recorded with Rob, September of 2009. i love the picture — was so psyched when Steve showed me the photos he’d taken. Hard to get a bad pic of the man, but I thought this one was really nice.

not finding much to be thankful about today, so i guess i will have to say, thankful he was with us for the short while we had him. Here is what OPB had to say.

– wm

“I do what I do because I’m accustomed to accomplishment CONSISTENTLY!” — Rob Ingram, from Twitter 10/12/11

wednesday morning

October 12th, 2011

i’ve been in better moods. my friend is gone — he was killed in a house fire on Sunday. his wife and their dog made it out okay. i am relieved for this, but still so messed up.

i don’t know why bad things happen to good people, but that just seems to be the way it goes.

miss you, Frank Morgan. you were a loyal friend and a gentleman, and you and your wife stood by me when I most needed a friend. thank you for that. i won’t say goodbye but I will say, I’ll see you, okay? OK.

– nancy

“To laugh often and much; To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

My Y, Curvy Girl, and books by dead white guys

April 28th, 2011

Here she is. All of us are a little possessive of Y, it’s funny. She is my Y, mine, nooooo mine! She takes amazing photos, go see if you can talk her into selling you one. I love the blogs because many talented women are now… visible. Who needs a book deal? A photo exhibit? We’re going renegade around here, and have been for awhile.

Speaking of books… Mine is going well. I’m at 305 pages now and 88,008 words (nice!). If you’re not impressed with that, then I’m asking you, What the hell is wrong with you? Cuz that’s a lot of words and pages and commas, all put together by moi. You’ll buy an e-copy when it’s done, yes? Yes! (I hope so, anyway.)

And speaking of books, part deux… Classics book group was last night — we read Aristophanes’s play, “The Frogs.” It is from 404 B.C. or something like that, which is apparently a verrrrrrrrrrrry long time ago. Ribbit. I liked it, it was hilarious. Just the fact that the text (different versions of it, who knows which one is the closest to “real”) has survived all these centuries is pretty cool.

Next we’re reading Graham Greene’s “The Quiet American.” I’m already in on the joke — Americans aren’t quiet. The only quiet American is a dead American.

Hmm. We’ll see if I can get through it, here’s hoping. After that we’re reading “Alice in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking Glass,” “Robinson Crusoe,” “Heart of Darkness” (which Steve already finished and I have almost finished — Norton’s edition is best, I’ve heard — I’m reading the Penguin Classics version. I’m finding the notes helpful and yes, I do understand where one of my favorite writers of all time, Chinua Achebe, is coming from, in regards to Conrad).

As Beth would say, That sentence is too long, I’ll start over.

We’re reading Joseph Conrad’s “The Secret Sharer,” too. We reading only books by dead white guys. (Typo that I refuse to correct. “We are reading…” make that, for you copy editors out there.) This fractures me, as I managed to avoid most of them in college. Dead white guys, not copy editors. I wrote for the student newspaper and edited the college literary magazine. You couldn’t move two feet without elbowing a copy editor or two, drinking all the coffee and bitching that they would have to return cans if they wanted some beer money.

But now I’m reading the dead white guys for fun — irony, see?

I was an English major. You learn all about irony and how to avoid work as an English major. OK, let’s just ponder that one for a moment and then have a good laugh. Seriously! Here is who I studied in college: Tillie Olsen, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Toni Morrison, Richard Wright, James Baldwin, Ntozake Shange, SHAKESPEARE!! (didn’t avoid all of ‘em, see?), Chinua Achebe, Zora Neale Hurston… and a bunch of dead white guys. Dreiser, James, Fitzgerald… all good. So when I saw “Moby Dick” on our list… (“Mopey dick!” — Leon on “Curb Your Enthusiasm”) heehee I am looking forward to reading Mopey Dick for our September book. Cuz I would read Raymond Carver all day long, but keep Updike, Cheever, and Mopey Dick the hell away from me. I did enjoy Milton, and Wordsworth and… Donald Barthelme, of all people.

(“OK, now you’re just name-droppin’!” — anon. critic in my head)

No, I’m not! I would start reading Kerouac aloud at 11 at night with a friend and keep reading until we’d finished the book.

(“College is hard, but it ain’t work” — my friend Jim, who I read Kerouac with)

If you asked me, which writers have most influenced your writing, I would have to pick Toni Morrison, Stephen King and Donald Barthelme. And Raymond Carver. OK, that’s a little scary, eh?

I somehow ducked and wove and arranged my own deal, all through college, man my professors were something, y’know? They sized me up and said, It’s gonna take some work, with this one. And they let me go for it.

Thank you, English Department at Portland State University. I love them so much for what they gave me, I might just send them a check. Or maybe just copies of “The Bluest Eye,” “Song of Solomon” and “Beloved” to hand out to some deserving students.

Let’s. All. Read!

Except for me, I have to write for awhile, then clean the house. But tonight? I read. Right after we get the results from “American Idol,” make that. hahaha.

i love this so much

May 27th, 2010

this one just made me happy Wacky Mommy.

i like waffles

December 8th, 2009

we had our little buddies, ages 4 & 6, over for dinner and play tonight. they are so good, I forgot they were here. seriously. their mama came by to get them and i was all, Nice to see you, but why are you here?

our kittens are not always nice to guests.

wacky boy to friend: “The one cat is mean to kids and the other cat just doesn’t like kids. but the other one is okay.”

i made waffles (“…with WHITE flour!” wacky girl told her dad, gleam in eye) the special way. that’s right. with white flour. cinnamon sugar, organic milk and eggs, REAL butter and REAL maple syrup. won award for mother of the year, yes, that’s right.

but i’m thinking, why is it that as a mother, your worth is measured by how good the waffles taste and how entertaining the puppet shows are?

just wondering.

because the content of my character, my love of books, my ability to spin gold from straw, my large and impressive vocabulary, my inability to properly use capital letters, my newfound skill at knotting scarves… shouldn’t that matter, a little?

Dear, dear Terry Olson, rest in peace

October 18th, 2009

Our political associate and friend Terry Olson passed away on Oct. 15th. His notice ran today. I am so sad over this. That should read, I am so sad inside of this. Terry was the coolest dude — great husband, father, grandfather, teacher, activist, dog-dad and friend. He fought cancer for so long, so hard. I have never seen anyone fight a disease the way Terry fought his.

Here is my first “real” post that I ever wrote about school politics — the inequities, the unfairness of it all, the effects of poverty as they relate to education. Honestly, I didn’t know what I was doing, I just knew I wasn’t happy with the status quo.

Terry was always quietly supportive of Steve and me. He would also bang on the table with his fists, as necessary. He loved that post, and sent me a note that said, in effect, forget about the recipes and all that, just focus on being renegade. So I did. (OK, I only wrote about food half as much after that.)

He also loved this post, and that thrilled me, that he stamped my work with a big gold star. (For the longest time, when you did a search on “wacky mommy,” Terry’s post popped up at the top of the list: “What Set Wacky Off?” haha.)

Terry was, first and foremost, an excellent teacher. I learned so much from him. (I learned to forgive people, for one thing.)

Love and peace to you, Terry. Love you. I am sorry I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye to you, but I didn’t want to say goodbye. Peace to your family, besos y abrazos. You lost a great guy. I am so sorry.

ps — Terry, thanks for outing me, all those years ago, on your blog. Someone needed to do it. (hugs.)