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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.

 

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.)

 

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.

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.

Untitled

“Mae”

Untitled

“Henna and McNugget”

Chickens

“Leggy Peggy”

All for now, back to it.

XOXOXO

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

We lost our first chicken…

April 20th, 2018

Untitled

(“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

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