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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

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

Tuesday Book Review: “Now Open the Box” “Jenny and the Cat Club” and “Junket is Nice”

August 13th, 2013

I only knew Dorothy Meserve Kunhardt (American author, 19011979) from “Pat the Bunny” (first published in 1940) and y’know, I didn’t even know that title from when I was a kid. I discovered it later, once my friends (and then later Steve and I) started having kids. “Junket Is Nice” was her first book (it came out in 1932). She also wrote “Now Open the Box,” “Lucky Mrs. Ticklefeather,” “Brave Mr. Buckingham” and “Tiny Animal Stories.” Altogether she wrote close to 50 books, including some titles for adults.

But “Pat the Bunny” is her best known work, and that is just fine by me.

I received a copy of “Now Open the Box” for review, but I picked it up from my P.O. box, and you know… there just happened to be the cutest little girl there, waiting for her mama. So next thing you know, I’m out a book, and she’s happy. So there’s your review.

“Junket is Nice” was recently re-released as part of The New York Review Children’s Collection (“Now Open the Box” is also part of the collection), and I’ve managed to hang on to my review copy, so far. I’ve reviewed some of the Review’s titles here before, and I just cannot say enough about them. The books look good, are well-bound, and are great individually or as a set. What I really appreciate is that they’re not precious. Don’t get me wrong — they are adorable and precious in the best sense of the words, but they are meant to be teethed on by those babies. That, at the end of the day, is what it’s all about. And these books are chewable.

“Junket is Nice” is a goofy-fun book that reminds me somewhat of Wanda Gag’s classic, “Millions of Cats.” The kids will like the rhythm of the book, and the funny images (a walrus with an apple on his back, a one-year-old lion blowing out the candle on his birthday cake, etc.).

I’m hoping to add a copy of “Jenny and the Cat Club: A Collection of Favorite Stories About Jenny Linsky” to my collection. (This is not Jennie from Paul Gallico’s “The Abandoned,” by the by; this one is by Esther Averill.) It looks good, too.

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

best parenting quote ever

May 20th, 2013

“Life gets a little trickier as you get older; it just does…. When my first child was born, [director] Costa-Gavras said to me, ‘They break your heart every day,’ and I thought, ‘Oh,that’s just so perfectly European and negative and I love having this baby. He fills my heart every day.’ Cut to now — I’ve got three boys, from 4 to 14 — and they break your heart every f — -ing day. They break it because they fill it.” — Big Bad Love’s Debra Winger, on the pains and joys of parenthood, on Reel.com

donuts in heaven

April 14th, 2013

My son, talking about his late, great-granny’s funeral: “It was the best ever.”

Why’s that?

“We had donuts!”

Steve: “And up in heaven, Margie is smiling.”

We like sweets.

Easterish b-day

(Photo by Steve Rawley)

love you, bub

March 18th, 2013

Coffee for my love

(Photo by Steve Rawley)

I got this note from my husband last week, as the kids and I were heading out to dinner and the movies:

love you back, see you later, enjoy the show and please keep hands and arms inside until the ride comes to a complete stop.

And that kind of sums up our whole marriage. (big smile.)

May 9th will be the 16th anniversary of our first date; one of our kids turns 11 (elevenyearsold!!!!) next month; the other one turns 14 (fourteen!!!) in September; 15 years of marriage for us right after her birthday; “the sun is up/the sun is shining/the yellow sun/is over the house” — Dr. Seuss; baby, it’s spring again; and love… love was long overdue, and I’m glad it showed up when it did.

xoxoxoxo

wm

ps that was a song my friend wrote, a long time ago: “Love is Long… Overdue.”

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