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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.

What’s on My Nightstand: Friday Night Edition; plus, my Dad’s gardening journal, circa 1966-1968

September 8th, 2017

Nothing like being in the middle of moving to make me realize, man. I have too much stuff. But I keep thinking, tripping down memory lane, and something will randomly come to mind. A day or two later, the item will pop up. It’s a bit odd, but I like it. The baby quilts my aunties made when the kids were born; my grandma’s books; my ice skates, lol.

I’m always reading five or 10 books at a time, bad habit/great habit. But when I’m stressed? Like when I’m moving? omg omg the table is covered. Here’s a sampling:

* “Heartburn,” by Nora Ephron (for the 20th time). So good, only gets funnier, and more poignant, every time I read it.
* “Skinny Dip,” by Carl Hiaasen (yes, yes, yes)
* “My Dad Lives in a Downtown Motel,” by Peggy Mann (great “New York kid” book about a boy who is struggling with his parents’ split. And yes, those of you with 1970s memories, it was an ABC Afterschool Special. Why don’t the networks get rid of some of the reality shows and bring back the ABC Afterschool Specials, stat.)
* “Saving Tarboo Creek: One Family’s Quest to Heal the Land,” by Scott Freeman
* “Spanish Now! Level 1″ (Barron’s)

Uh. Yeah. So tomorrow, I’ll write some real book reviews, y’all. Because it’s almost fall, and that means new titles and lots of them.

I was thinking of my dad’s gardening journal, as I was sorting and packing my gardening books. The entries written out so neatly in his handwriting. Two days later… found it. :) It’s in a brown leather binder from Portland State College (now Portland State University), his alma mater and mine. Very cool. There are a few pages of overlooked math notes in the back of the book. In the front, notes about our yard. He and my mom bought our house in 1966, when I was two. (Math!)

There’s a little N and some doodles in the front of the notebook. N for Nancy, I’m assuming. It’s possible, anyway.

And this entry:

“Roses: Prune from mid-February to mid-March, but weather permitting around March 1 is good time, as there could be some freezing around last of February.” etc.

Now the cool stuff… Well, to me anyway. The roses are gone now, but I remember them all in my head. Next house I get? I’m planting these exact ones:

“Planted : Feb. 5, 1966 Tropicana (Orange and Red). Twins’ gift for new home. Grown: Oregon” (The twins were his aunts, my great-aunties. I loved them so much! Loved, loved, loved.)

Planted: Feb. 6, 1966 Mister Lincoln (Red) Price $3.50, Grown: Texas

Planted: Nov. 6, 1966 Katherine T. Marshall Rose (pink, shaded with salmon) Price $1.29, Grown: Texas

Planted: Nov. 6, 1966 Lowell Thomas (lemon-chrome yellow) Price: $1.29, Grown Texas

Planted: Nov. 6, 1966 Talisman (scarlett-orange and rich yellow) Price: $1.29, Grown: Texas

Planted: June 30, 1968 Mt. Shasta (white blooms with delicate green petal base) Price: $3.00

Planted: June 30, 1968 Orchid Masterpiece (light purple) Price $3.00

Then details on the three pots of Pink Mediterranean Heather he planted, and the juniper, and the rhody (Unique Pale Yellow Tinged Peach)…

So many happy memories. Looking forward to making more. Which do I love more, plants or books? It’s a tie.

xo

wm

Sunday book review, movie round-up & anything else i can throw in here. Happy 2015!

January 11th, 2015

(Photo by Steve Rawley)

“We are the night ocean filled
with glints of light. We are the space
between the fish and the moon,
while we sit here together.”

– Rumi

“Bottom line is we’re all flawed in this world. No one’s perfect,” film director Richard Linklater, accepting his Golden Globe award for directing, “I want to dedicate this to parents that are evolving everywhere and families that are just passing through this world and doing their best.”

I’ll see how many categories I can hit here… Ready? Ready-steady-go!

* Pacific Ocean: It’s beautiful. It makes me happy, i love my negative ions i get from the ocean, and the wildlife is so fun to watch. The sea lions in that picture are making what’s called a “raft.” They all hold onto each other and float around. Hippies :)

* Book review? Here’s what on my nightstand (and on the Kindle): Re-read “Wild,” re-reading “Torch,” re-reading Carol Shields magnum opus, “Unless,” reading “Quiet” and learning all kinds of stuff about introverts, extroverts, high reactives and the modern age, just finishing Dreiser’s “An American Tragedy,” genius, and… that’s all I can think of.

* Recipes:

Oven-Fried Spuds (excellent, best potato recipe ever)
Soup! (Steve’s recipe. This one clears up your head, fast)

1 onion, sliced thin
1 bulb garlic
2 vegetable bouillon cubes
6 cups water

Saute onion and garlic (I like whole cloves, but you can chop or press) on low until soft. Add bouillon cubes and squish. Add water and bring to boil. Can be garnished with fresh slices of jalapeno for an extra sinus kick. Wasabi would be good, too.

Reduce water and bouillon by half to thicken.

* Work… is going well. Super well. I love working at a school (computer lab again this year), I’m with the best staff and boss in the universe (no I’m not saying that because they might read this — they really are gifted, funny, smart, wonderful with the students and everything else I was hoping for) and I love that my students are willing to work on my Spanish with me. #yohabloespanolmasomenos

* My own kids… are great. Whoever said, “Eh, you think that when they’re little they really need you, but when they’re teenagers? That’s when they really need you,” that person was so smart. (Seriously, probably 20 people said that to me when the kids were toddlers, and I thought they were joking.)

* Nekkid Neighborsremember them?

* Sex? Not at work, people, keep that in mind, always. Or with the Nekkid Neighbors. Just a bad idea, aight? Lol. We’ve been watching Californication on Netflix, and swear to God, every time I watch it, I feel like I’ve been in an orgy, and it was kind of great, but equally horrible. Yeah.

* Speaking of pop culturemovies. We saw “Wild,” loved it, “Nebraska,” also great, “Boyhood,” one of the best movies I’ve ever seen in my life. Seriously.

* Holidays: How can 2015 be a real year? It’s so space-age sounding.

* And in the category of Pets, Stupid… Our sweet, loving, funny Wacky Cat 2 passed away last month. I keep looking for him, thinking I see him, missing him. It just sucks.

* Houses & Homes: We’re cleaning & rearranging & opposite-of-hoarding like mad right now because we’re moving again.

In five years.

But, as one of my 80-something-year-old neighbors told me after New Year’s, “Every year, I don’t know what it is. The days go slower and the years go faster.” Then he gave me a big smile, I smiled back, and he pedaled off on his bike. I know just what he means.

All for now, xo,

wm

day off…

October 11th, 2013

…means I need to clean the house. I don’t wanna. What’s new with you, Internets?

Daisy with mites

(Photo by Steve Rawley)

took back my yard today

June 17th, 2013

Purple cluster

(Photo by Steve Rawley)

oh, hallo, yard, how have you been?

you are very beautiful, yard, but I notice you’ve developed a weed problem. here, let me help. oh, hallo, asters. keep growing. hallo, snake, are you dead? no? just dehydrated, eh? here’s a saucer or 4 of water for you. you’re welcome.

Roses of Sharon! I was hoping to see you. clover, goodbye. transplanting Shasta daisies, deadheading the roses. pulling up more pop-ems and picking fresh blueberries, raspberries and strawberries.

hi, summer. i love you.

wm

and now, how about a little song?

“welcome to autumn, cussheads”

October 5th, 2012

watermelon

(Photo by Steve Rawley)

(It’s a watermelon, not a gourd, but whatever.)

This one’s for Steve Rawley.

frogger

May 11th, 2012

Mr. Frog

(Photo by Steve Rawley)

I was showing off the yard to Steve — I watered everything today and did some weeding. The lipstick-pink peonies are blooming like mad, the raspberries are taking off and the strawberries are covered with white blossoms. The snowball bushes, day lilies, Japanese iris, herbs — everything is so happy and green and sparkly. May in Oregon is a beautiful thing.

We were admiring the chicks & hens, tiny ferns and succulents that are rooting in the rock wall, and saw this guy peeking out. That wall is like looking into apartment building windows, checking in on everyone. His friend, who was even tinier, was peeking out of the apartment window below. Too hard to get a good pic of him, though, so this one will have to do.

#iheartpacifictreefrogs

Happy weekend, everybody, and as we head into the summer season, remember:

You wave at clowns in parades; you don’t marry ‘em and let ‘em run your life.

xo

wm

Garden progress

July 9th, 2011

Today:

Progress

A month ago:

Planted!!

The garden, she is planted

June 7th, 2011

Planted!!

 North Portland transplant Chicks and hens

See the whole set on flickr.

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