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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.

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

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

Zoo Lights at the Oregon Zoo: Why Admission Should Not Be Raised (or, another smackdown of Krista Swan)

December 6th, 2015

Steve & I had to do a major smackdown of Krista Swan awhile back. We had to. She’s a friend of child rapist Neil Goldschmidt, and was trying to rally support for him.

No.

No, no, no, no, no.

So when I saw that the Oregon Zoo has decided to raise the (already too high) prices for its annual Zoo Lights festival, I said two words. No, four.

“No, no, Krista Swan again.” OK, that’s five.

Sure enough, she’s quoted in the article, blah, blah, too many people! The lines are too long! So we’ll raise the prices and fewer people (ie — the hoi polloi) won’t show up.

You’re talking about my crowd now, baby. Because there are a lot of working poor, and poor, and kids who are impoverished on the west side, and the east side (the south side, the north side)… And part of their taxes? Paying for the Metro bond that is keeping the elephants enclosed. And sick. On exhibit. (Not in a sanctuary, as promised by the Oregon Zoo when they floated the bond.) Did you stop to think, maybe Zoo Lights was just barely affordable for some families, as it was? It’s a tradition. People like it. That’s why it’s crowded. So why not do timed tickets or something like that? Not oversell tickets. (Where’s the fire marshall when you need him? This venue is over capacity!)

It makes no difference to me, per se (rich people’s phrase) cuz I frickin’ boycott (poor people’s words) the zoo. (See: “elephant sanctuary” bond measure. See: “Free all the animals from their cages!/No matter how new or modern!” — Raffi) (also, see: Krista Swan, zoo publicity flack, Neil Goldschidt fan, etc.)

I want all community events (and Zoo Lights is a community event, in a public facility, largely taxpayer-funded, not just for rich people) to be open to all, not just those with money.

Peace.

wm

Let’s end with a quote, shall we? Wise words, from the film “Pretty in Pink”:

Blaine, to Stef: “You couldn’t buy her, though, that’s what’s killing you, isn’t it? Stef? That’s it, Stef. She thinks you’re shit. And deep down, you know she’s right.”

did you know no one ever blogs anymore? and here’s a book round-up for you… On the Nightstand

October 6th, 2014

that’s right. Blogging is so four years ago, with the exception of those of us who still keep our online journals: Zoot, Y from the Internet, who I’ve known for so long I call her that, Amalah, Doocie, and me.

The big five, baby, that’s where we’re at. Not the big 5-0, the big 5. Kidding.

I will persevere.

I mainly blog nowadays because I need the archives — especially for updates on my kids (my daughter is driving now, btw) (uh, it’s true. This little girl…), a cookbook (you can always buy a hard copy), school work, and whatever else I need. Quotes of the day, funny jokes. Ha. Funny to me jokes.

So you know that your Facebook archives aren’t really archives, right? And that your photos might or might not disappear eventually, if that’s where you’re storing them? Just saying.

So here’s what I’m working on reading this school year. And first things being, as always, first: the potboilers.

I read Theodore Dreiser’s “Sister Carrie” when I was an 18-year-old college freshman and knew everything. I would like to talk with that girl and have her answer a few of my several hundred questions, now that I know nothing. Dear Lord, what a difference between 18 and 50.

“You should see her ass in that dress.” — my friend Nicole, to my then-lover, talking about me and my brand-new little black dress, circa many years ago. We were at a bar downtown. It may have been the Virginia Cafe. Or Hamburger Mary’s, or the Veritable Quandary, or that place where they served the delicious little Cornish game hens? The Vat & Tonsure. Then (to me): “You hit 27 and your ass just falls. I don’t know what it is.”

My main concerns then:
1) how am i going to get these bills paid?
2) where are the parties this weekend?
3) what about this “27 changes everything” thing? (defer)
4) why does she (neighbor/friend/family member/co-worker) put up w/ that shit? (from spouse/children/grown children/neighbors/co-workers)

I have to go water the yard now, and write more when I get back. No more bars, just chores, out here on the farm. I could really use another load of manure for the east 40.

Back! So. “Sister Carrie,” which I always throw together with “Portrait of a Lady,” “Anna Karenina,” “Madame Bovary” and “The Awakening”… Well, it’s its own animal. I just love the book.

Finished it up, and on to “An American Tragedy” (also Dreiser), which I’ve been meaning to read ever since I saw the Elizabeth Taylor/Montgomery Clift classic, “A Place in the Sun.” God, it’s brilliant, too. So I’m happy, with lots to read. And I have a good excuse (for the moment) to put off reading all of these for work (ps check out this week’s issue of The Nation. On the cover: “Saving Public Schools: A Growing Movement Confronts the Failure of ‘Reform’”:

Being Bad: My Baby Brother and the School-To-Prison Pipeline: Being Bad (Teaching for Social Justice)
by Crystal T. Laura
Powells.com

Bon appetit!

– wm

“let there be spaces in your togetherness…”

August 23rd, 2014

(Photo by Steve Rawley)

My husband and I are coming up on our… 17th anniversary? No, 16th. But we’ve been together for 17-plus years now and sometimes, believe it or not, we get on each other’s nerves. We spend a ton of time together, which is how we both like it. On the other hand, he loves the ocean. I love the ocean, too, but I also love hanging out with a book by the pool, or maybe, I dunno, going shopping. Or for breakfast. But he really, really loves the ocean, as in, being alone at the ocean, riding his bike along the shore, taking loads of photos, hiking for miles, traipsing up winding, crazy lighthouse stairs.

This ocean appreciation came as a surprise to me, because when I married him, he was definitely a mountain man.

This scene, from “The Perfect Storm,” sums it up:

Bobby Shatford: “I got a woman who I can’t stand to be two feet away from.”
Captain Billy Tyne: “Congratulations.”
Bobby Shatford: “Then again, I love to fish.”
Captain Billy Tyne: “Son, you’ve got a problem.”

We were having coffee, planning out our weekend, and Steve said something about, “What was that you said, about ‘spaces in your togetherness’?” First of all, I was being a smartass when I said that, and second of all, I didn’t say it — Khalil Gibran did, and I’ve heard the lines at approximately 80 percent of all the weddings I’ve been to.

Ever.

The lines have become, OK, I’ll say it… somewhat trite, along with over-used, but so are a lot of other lines. Shakespeare’s, for example. Which kills me a little inside because I’m Shakespeare girl for many years now. But it made me think… You know what would be perfect? Wedding vows that were a mash-up of Polonius’s lines to his son, Laertes, along with the lines from “The Prophet.” Oh, yeah, honey, now that’s the motherlode.

The words from “The Prophet,” I’ll put into italics. Polonius’s quotes I’ll put in bold. Ready?

“Let there be spaces in your togetherness, And let the winds of the heavens dance between you. Love one another but make not a bond of love: Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.”

“Yet here, Laertes! aboard, aboard, for shame! The wind sits in the shoulder of your sail, and you are stay’d for. There; my blessing with thee! And these few precepts in thy memory see thou character. Give thy thoughts no tongue, nor any unproportioned thought his act. Be thou familiar, but by no means vulgar. Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried, grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel…”

“But do not dull thy palm with entertainment of each new-hatch’d, unfledged comrade. Beware of entrance to a quarrel, but being in, bear’t that the opposed may beware of thee. Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice; take each man’s censure, but reserve thy judgment. Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy, but not express’d in fancy; rich, not gaudy…”

“Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup. Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf. Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone, Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music. Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping. For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts. And stand together, yet not too near together: For the pillars of the temple stand apart, And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.”

“For the apparel oft proclaims the man, and they in France of the best rank and station are of a most select and generous chief in that. Neither a borrower nor a lender be; for loan oft loses both itself and friend, and borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry. This above all: to thine ownself be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man. Farewell: my blessing season this in thee!”

God, I love the Internet. Adieu! And Stevie, here’s to the rest of our lives. I love you.

xoxoxoxo

wm

(Photos by Steve Rawley)

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)

Pasta a la LaLa, also known as Monday Recipe Club

July 1st, 2013

Room with a view

(Photo by Steve Rawley)

My kids are learning to cook. This leaves me more time for reading. Yes, yes and yes. I am not always the most patient person, who it comes to teaching others to cook. Steve is a bit more patient than I am, but also more likely to say, Sit down and I’ll just do it for you. Our kids are patient with us, thank God. The goal is that they know how to cook by the time they move out, and honestly? They kinda already do, so go us.

Tonight my daughter came up with a good pasta recipe, with a tiny bit of help from me and our friend Giada. OK, yeah, we love pasta. Is that wrong??? Here is…

PASTA A LA LALA

* Cook half a pound of conchiglie pasta until tender

* Add some sliced carrots to the pasta water during the last five minutes of cooking time

* When pasta and carrots are done cooking, rinse with cold water and put in bowl

* In same pot that you cooked pasta in, saute some onions and pea pods in olive oil

* When done, add to pasta and carrots

* Make a vinaigrette from 1 part balsamic vinegar, 3 parts olive oil, salt, pepper and a teaspoon or so of paprika

* Pour over pasta and stir in

* Chop some sundried tomatoes and kalamata olives; stir those into pasta, too! Add some feta cheese if you would like!

Now, make some garlic bread out of hoagie rolls, butter and garlic salt. Toast under broiler.

Done! Bon appetit, babies…

Tomorrow night, peanut butter and blackberry jam sandwiches on hoagie rolls… mmmmmm… peanut butter and jam… mmmmmmm… As usual, I remain happy with a sandwich or a bowl of cereal. Or pasta is always good, too.

xo

wm

my birthday flowers and (virgin) drink

June 25th, 2013

Birthday dinner

(Photo by Steve Rawley)

Ran away to the beach for a few days with Steve and the kids. This being the Oregon coast, and not somewhere in the Caribbean… it was gray, freezing, storming. We built fires in the (indoor) fireplace not on the (outdoor, soggy) beach. Played games with the kids, read, wrote, ate, went to the Sea Lion Caves, where I haven’t visited since I was a tot. (Go look at the webcam!)

Best weekend ever. My family is too good to me.

Have a great week, everyone, and happy summer!

xo

wm

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