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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

What’s New On My Nightstand? Saturday Edition: “Dormouse Dreams,” by Karma Wilson & Renata Liwska; “Bob, Not Bob!” written by Liz Garton Scanlon & Audrey Vernick, with pictures by Matthew Cordell; and “When You’re Feeling Sick,” by Coy Bowles, illustrated by Andy Elkerton

January 14th, 2017

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?”

– “The Summer Day,” by Mary Oliver

More books, readers. Enjoy!

* “Dormouse Dreams” (Disney/Hyperion Books, written by Karma Wilson and illustrated by Renata Liwska, 2017, ages 3-5, 40 pages, $16.99) is a good one for a snowy day like today. A wee dormouse, snug in his nest, dreams and snores through winter and into spring. (Notes from the publisher say that Wilson got the idea after watching a video of a little snoring dormouse.) It’s a rhyming book, my friends.

“While the white snow glows in the bright moonbeams, in his dry leaf bed, little dormouse dreams.”

Awww… I love it. The art is beautiful (a fox, cross-country skiing; the dormouse, with his cute little feet and his stuffed bunny; a crow with his own plane) and the story is engaging. Nice.

“Bob, Not Bob!” (Disney/Hyperion Books, Valentine’s Day, 2017, written by Audrey Vernick & Liz Garton Scanlon, illustrated by Matthew Cordell, ages 3-5, 40 pages, $17.99). The first thing you should know about this book: It is to be read as though you have the worst cold ever. Or, “I have a code! In by doze!” as we said when I was growing up.

This book is hilarious. Really wish I still taught library, because this would be so good for a read-aloud, any time of year, but especially during cold and flu season when half the class is out.

“But when Little Louie got sick, he felt littler than usual. Like maybe his mom should check on him kind of often. (Every three minutes or so.”)

He yells out, Mom! But it sounds like, Bob! And here comes Louie’s beast of a dog, “…running. And slobbering.”

Such a great concept for a story, and the illustrations are funny and sweet. Get well soon, Louie!

Good companion book: “When You’re Feeling Sick” (Random House Children’s Books, 2017, by Coy Bowles, illustrated by Andy Elkerton, ages 3-7, $12.99). This one was written by Bowles, who is the guitarist and organist for the Zac Brown Band. The back story is awfully sweet — his mom was in the hospital, and the family spent a lot of time there. He wanted to share the love and hope his mom, family and friends have experienced during hospital stays. Like I said, awesome and sweet. (The story is included at the back of the book.) The illustrations are vivid and cartoony. “Feel better” songs can be found at coybowles.com

That’s it, babies!

xo

wm

Ziggy

January 22nd, 2016

Ziggy was here

(Photo by Steve Rawley)

“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)

Greg Brown, Bo Ramsey, Dave Moore, the beautiful Ms. Iris DeMent and the lovely Pieta Brown

October 6th, 2012

We went to hear Bo Ramsey and Greg Brown at the Aladdin last night. The guys were great; the audience was not. Steve: “Portland audiences may be obnoxious, but at least they’re enthusiastic.” How diplomatic of him. Here’s a song for you, and it kinda sums it all up for me:

“Where’s your wife?” one heckler yelled. Greg Brown’s wife being the beautiful and talented singer, Iris DeMent. “She’s at home cooking!” Brown yelled back.

“Get her out here to sing with you!” the same guy yells.

“She won’t sing with me. She’ll only sing with… John Prine.”

It’s true. Or maybe if you’re Josh Turner, she’ll sing with you.

Can’t blame her there.

Also, i’m in love with Pieta Brown, Greg’s daughter:

Now, since this is basically a love letter to Iowa and all the good musicians I’d never heard of ’til I married Steve:

And I don’t want to overlook Bo, so here he is, too.

Love you all, thanks for the music.

– nancy

ahhhhh… Los Lobos

August 12th, 2012

We had fun.

Dude. RIP, MCA

May 4th, 2012

goddangit do i hate obituaries.

“Well I think I’m losing my mind this time/this time/i’m losing my mind/that’s right…”

i went to one of their shows with my sis. they were wearing orange jumpsuits, and pissed off at the crew for calling them their “costumes.” “They’re our *uniforms*!” Yeah, get it straight! ;) They made me so happy, these guys.

Peace and love to Adam’s wife and daughter.

– wm

QOTD: Thich Nhat Hanh

March 6th, 2012

“My child, we are not born to hold a gun, we are born to love. Love is the only weapon we carry.” — Thich Nhat Hanh, from “Creating True Peace: Ending Violence in Yourself, Your Family, Your Community, and the World”

Monday Book Review: “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother,” “Next Stop Grand Central,” “I’ve Got Your Number,” “The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs!” and… “Ollie the purple elephant”

February 27th, 2012

Amy Chua has gotten a load of grief over her memoir, “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother,” about parenting her two daughters. I liked the book — I thought she was brave and forthright, and funny, too. She’s the first one to admit her flaws, people, so get off her back. I agree with some of her methods. I know, I know — she got a little extreme. But you know what? Motherhood makes you crazy. It’s the truth.

Maybe we could talk honestly about our struggles and demons, instead of going all judgmental and focusing on finger-pointing. When did it become such a sticky wicket, “modern parenting”? Try to do the best you can and call it a day. Gah.

“Next Stop Grand Central” is another great picture book by Maira Kalman. It was published in 1999, but I just got a copy of it a couple of months ago. I’m trying to collect everything by Kalman — some of it is expensive and hard to find, but if you poke around on eBay and Amazon, or at the used book stores, titles show up and you can find them at reasonable prices.

Just received a review copy of Sophie Kinsella’s latest, “I’ve Got Your Number.” (My disclaimer.) I started it and it is fun and engaging, like her books always are. I needed something a little lighter — I’ve been on an F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald kick — novels, bios, short stories. I like these self-imposed author studies I do, but it’s a little much sometimes, eh, Sylvia? So Ms. Kinsella, thanks for another good read.

(Edited on 3/12/12 to say: Finished the Kinsella book last week — loved it. There’s a touch of sorrow and intensity to this one, woven through. V. good.)

“No one wants to hear stories about about bad things. That’s the truth. I remember that my tutor at college once asked me if I was all right and if I wanted to talk. The moment I started, he said, ‘You mustn’t lose your confidence, Poppy!’ in this brisk way that meant, ‘Actually I don’t want to hear about this, please stop now.’”

Next: Somehow, when I was doing my library work, I missed reading Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith’s picture book, “The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs!” (flipside in Spanish: “!La Verdadera Historia de Los Tres Cerditos!”). You know why? It’s such a great book that the students and teachers always had it checked out and I never got to enjoy it! How dare they! Ha. Found my kids’ old copy awhile back, out at their grandma’s house, and brought it home with us.

I give this one five out of five stars. Yes. !Si!

Jarrett J. Krosoczka (who also wrote the hilarious “Lunch Lady” series of graphic novels) has a new picture book out: “Ollie the purple elephant.” Too. Cute. Really liked the art in this one, and the story is fun. That’s it for books. Now how about a short film and some music? Alright.

This short film won an Oscar last night. I just adore it.

And now, just because I am still so bummed about Whitney Houston’s death, another video — this one of an impossibly young Whitney and her incredible mom, Cissy. Peace, peace, peace to the Houston family

love to Whitney Houston and her daughter, Bobbi Kristina Brown

February 21st, 2012

Dear Bobbi Kristina,

I’m so sorry you lost your mom.

love,

nancy

ps — I appreciated this report by Lee Hawkins, I thought it was good.

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