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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, 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

Tuesday Book Review — What’s New on My Nightstand: “The Science of Breakable Things,” by Tae Keller; “Sleepover Duck!” by Carin Bramsen; and Jill McDonald’s “Hello, World!” series — “Dinosaurs” & “My Body”

February 6th, 2018

Super cute new board books from Jill McDonald, from her “Hello, World!” series. “Dinosaurs” and “My Body.” (Doubleday Books for Young Readers, 2018, ages 0-3 years, $7.99 each.)

“Sleepover Duck!” needs a friend. And he found one. But who is doing all that hooting? And will they be able to get any shut-eye? A good way to talk about sleepover worries with the kiddos. (Random House Children’s Books, 2018, ages 3-7, 40 pages, $17.99.)

“The Science of Breakable Things” is for kids ages 8 and older and addresses the struggle of having a depressed parent. It’s thoughtfully handled and takes on a subject that a lot of folks shy away from. (Random House Books for Young Readers, 2018, ages 8 and older, $16.99.)

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.”

On My Nightstand: Fall Book Round-up for the Younger Set (“Ruffleclaw,” by Cornelia Funke; “ABC Dream,” by Kim Krans; “Space Dog,” by Mini Grey; “Toys Meet Snow,” by Emily Jenkins & Paul O. Zelinsky)

October 11th, 2015

Funke is a cool, talented illustrator and author — the kids really respond to her work. When it comes to certain authors, readers (of all ages) just grab them up and claim them as “theirs.” It’s kind of funny. Funke is one of those. Ah, that territorial feeling you get over a certain book or author. I get that. She’s the author of the “Inkheart” series, which are for more advanced readers, but her new book, “Ruffleclaw,” is a chapter book for kiddos who are transitioning to chapter books. (Random House, 2015, $9.99, 102 pages.) Ruffleclaw is a wicked smart, icky lil monster, who has a “scrumptiously smart plan” to live with some humans and sleep in their cozy beds and eat their yum-yum food. Will he succeed?

Here is a YouTube clip of an interview with Funke. I show it to my students when I booktalk her work, along with some of the J.K. Rowling interviews, and Lemony Snicket. He’s a lot of fun in video clips. Neil Gaiman is another one who is a great interview. I read the first few pages of “The Graveyard Book” to the 5th and 6th graders the other day and gave everyone the shivers. And “Coraline” is still never checked in. I tell the kids that she and Babymouse — the Jennifer & Matthew Holms’ series of graphic novels — just stop by the library to say hey and then leave again.

(Always a good sign for a book.)

By the way, the Goosebumps book are getting a new surge of interest, too, with the Jack Black movie coming out in time for Halloween.

Now, on to some beautiful art…

Galleys for a book by Kim Krans appeared on my doorstep. (love.) “ABC Dream” is one of the best picture books I’ve come across recently. (Random House, 2016, unpaged, $16.99.) (Yes, I’m reviewing it even though it might only be available for pre-order at the moment.) Wait, she’s a Portland, Ore. girl like moi? Fantastic.

The art is precious. Beautiful, thoughtful, bright, just lovely. No words, just letters. I like books that the littles can enjoy, savor, and not have to worry about “Wait, I can’t read yet!” I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again… I love picture books for the big kids and the grown-ups. Anything that inspires us to do art makes me happy. I am really happy about the new coloring craze that’s going on. Titles? OK, here, here and here. My favorite letters in the book: R & T (and the key in the back that tells me, “rain, red, reflection, ring, robin, rope, rose” and “tigers, tired, tree, trunk, two”).

Mini Grey’s new release, “Space Dog,” (Alfred A. Knopf, 2015, $17.99, unpaged) is a wild ride through space, but of course. It’s always more interesting when a little conflict is introduced in a work of literature, and our conflict in this picture book is between Space Dog, Astrocat and the darling lil Moustronaut.

“It’s the year 3043 and for as long as anyone on Home Planet can remember, Space Dogs, Astrocats and Moustronauts have been sworn enemies.”

When the Queen of the Cheese Ants comes along, you know it’s going to get extra lively.

“Toys Meet Snow: Being the Wintertime Adventures of a Curious Stuffed Buffalo, a Sensitive Plush Stingray, and a Book-Loving Rubber Ball” is a new collaboration between author Emily Jenkins and illustrator Paul O. Zelinsky. (Schwartz & Wade Books, 2015, $17.99, unpaged.) Their previous series, “Toys Come Home,” has been a long-time favorite with young readers. This one is for the littler-littles — ages 3-7. The art is sweet, the story is good, and it’s nice Jenkins and Zelinsky paired up for the younger kids in the crowd.

Words of wisdom (they sent an interview along with press kit):

Zelinsky says: “I’m not an expert in this, but I say read to your children, and don’t stop. Nobody is ever too old to be read to. Picture books make good out-loud reading for any age.”

And from Jenkins: “Oh! Am I opinionated on this topic! Don’t shame their reading choices. Ever. I see this happen so often in bookstores and libraries, or at school book fairs. ‘You’re too old for that.’ ‘That’s too easy for you.’ ‘Why do you like that junk?’ ‘That’s a book for girls, not boys.’ Instead, I recommend parents try this approach: Don’t try to get your child to choose appropriate books. At all. Just bring them to the library, where they can choose inappropriate books at zero cost to you.”

Hear, hear!

Bon appetit, babies.

– wm

Thursday Book Review: “The Bump: Book of Lists for Pregnancy and Baby,” “The Bump: Pregnancy Planner and Journal” and “Mission: New Baby… Top-Secret Info for Big Brothers and Sisters”

June 11th, 2015

New to the bookshelf: “Mission: New Baby… Top-Secret Info for Big Brothers and Sisters,” by Susan Hood, illustrated by Mary Lundquist, 2015, $16.99, Random House Children’s Books, unpaged; “The Bump: Pregnancy Planner and Journal,” by Carley Roney and TheBump.com, Potter Style/Crown Publishing, 2015, 95 pages; and “The Bump: Book of Lists for Pregnancy and Baby,” by Carley Roney and TheBump.com, Potter Style/Crown Publishing, 2015, 191 pages.

“Mission: New Baby” is a charming new picture book that helps prepare the big kid (brother Mason) for the little kid who’s arriving soon. The author (Susan Hood) and illustrator (Mary Lundquist) have collaborated nicely on this one. Mason and his robot toy “train” by briefing themselves on the new baby, testing “gears and gadgets” (crib, stroller, etc.), meeting the “new recruit” and everything else that’s involved with transitioning to becoming a sibling. Sweet art, and a fun story.

Now, working backwards, we have “The Bump Book of Lists.” Pregnancy can make a girl hyperventilate. You don’t want that — it’s bad for you and the bebe. For some of us, making lists helps; for others, it can bring on a panic attack. This is a handy book — good size, good format. Chapters are broken down from conception, through months 1-9, delivery, newborn and “Baby’s Next Steps.” The crew from the Bump have included lots of details on knowing what to eat, what you’ll need for vitamins and supplements, and some fun stuff, too (announcing the gender, making baby announcements). I would recommend scribbling away in this one. The accompanying planner and journal is great for scrapbooking — lots of room for photos, notes, ultrasound pix and all that.

Great gifts for yourself, or as gifts for any mamas-to-be you might know.

happy April, happy spring, happy, happy (almost) everything

April 4th, 2015

(Photo by Steve Rawley)

Doesn’t Steve take pretty pictures?

My baby is a teenager now. My other teenager came to school with me and volunteered, ohmyGod the babies love her. Love. One of the kinders flung herself, as kinders are wont to do, into Wacky Girl’s arms.

I love you! (hugs one of the other aides, then me, then the other aide again.) I love you! And I love you! I love everyone!

Runs down the hall. Runs into us later, loves on Wacky Girl some more.

She is my friend, she tells two of the other littles. Runs down the hall, yells, Bye, friend!

#bestthingsinlife #free

ps #missingmydadbutsmilinganyway

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