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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

suicide is not painless.

January 5th, 2013

Lettuce lichen

(Photo by Steve Rawley)

love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love

peace peace peace peace peace peace peace peace peace peace peace peace peace peace peace peace peace peace peace peace peace peace peace peace peace peace peace peace

I think about what it’s maybe like in Heaven. My cousin, who shot himself in the head; my uncle (his father), who wrapped his car around a tree; my Dad (my uncle’s friend, and the man my cousin loved most next to his own father), who jumped off a bridge; my Grandpa (who loved my cousin, my uncle, my Dad, so much) who kept threatening to shoot himself, until my uncles took away his guns. So he went off dialysis and stopped eating and was gone in a week.

Yeah, I bet that’s a real g.d. interesting conversation they’re all having, about their rights and how much easier everything is, now that they’re gone.

Now, how about you tell me that suicide is painless, while I’m sitting here alone, with their pain and mine, on a Saturday night. When people kill themselves, that pain doesn’t go away; it just gets transferred to someone else is all.

That’s all. Someone else carries it.

This is all getting stirred up for me in a kind of huge, ugly way, because of Newtown (Clackamas Town Center, Columbine, Springfield, Jonesboro, on and on). All the Yosemite Sams are jumping around, shooting themselves down both legs at once, no gun control bs, “gotta stay safe!”, loading up on new guns and ammo, going to gun shows, taking shooting classes, taking out concealed weapon permits, NRA bs, 2nd Amendment bs, on and on until I want to scream from it, really.

You know what people like to shoot with guns? Themselves. And children. And their wives. Women, in general. Wait. And men. People like to shoot men, too.

No more guns. They’re not worth the cost.

This song always makes me feel a little better. I’ll just play it twelve more times and try to get some sleep.

Peace, love, peace, love, always.

nancy

Msg to Betsy Hammond & Tom Hallman: Please will you learn to write please.

September 2nd, 2012

Betsy Hammond asks, Is the children learning? Maybe she and Tom Hallman can give lessons — pretty soon they’ll all be writing like m@th!rf&*ers smh ;)

From Thee O’s comments section:

hermtownhomy
“The irony flag was up in my head before I even started reading, and I knew it wouldn’t take long. I made it to the third paragraph. ‘But with class sizes swelling and teens more prone to text and tweet than string paragraphs together, schools and teachers face a tall order.’ And I could go no further.”

conversations with my kid

February 3rd, 2012

It’s true, what people say. The best time to catch up with your kid is right after school.

My 4th grader, yesterday afternoon: “The school counselor came in and we learned about segregation. Usually we just learn about bullying. We talked about why it’s not good to leave somebody out just because of… something. Some of us got stickers” (holds up his hand and shows me the sticker that’s plastered to it).

“Yeah, they’re scratch n sniff, they smell like Play-Doh. Then the kids got asked, How did you feel about that? And they were all, Oh, it was really bad, it was unfair. But really, they were lying. They were glad they got stickers and the other kids didn’t.”

me: “Do you think the lesson was maybe because of Black History Month?”

kid: “Nope. And that’s how we got… Punxsutawney Phil!

And then we had a talk about Malcolm, and Dr. King.

Rest In Peace, Rob Ingram

November 28th, 2011

those are words i never in a million years thought i would have to write. Rob Ingram passed away unexpectedly from a heart attack yesterday, Nov. 27th, 2011. Peace and prayers to Rob’s beautiful wife and five amazing kids. He got more done in less than four decades than most people accomplish in a lifetime. This is a huge loss to all of us, but to his family most of all. Rob, thank you for all the work you did.

this is an interview Steve recorded with Rob, September of 2009. i love the picture — was so psyched when Steve showed me the photos he’d taken. Hard to get a bad pic of the man, but I thought this one was really nice.

not finding much to be thankful about today, so i guess i will have to say, thankful he was with us for the short while we had him. Here is what OPB had to say.

– wm

“I do what I do because I’m accustomed to accomplishment CONSISTENTLY!” — Rob Ingram, from Twitter 10/12/11

gratitude day 19: in support (again) of Occupy Portland

November 19th, 2011

grateful that no shots or tear gas was fired by Portland Police in riot gear who we saw this afternoon, just before dark fell. not saying that they’re not mixing it up as we speak, but they weren’t hurting anyone right when we saw them. we were driving home from my mom’s (Northeast Portland) back out to west side, and there they were heading east over the Burnside Bridge. a whole van of them, hanging off both sides of truck, and inside was full, too.

full riot gear. to me, they looked excited. their body language and all but how can you you tell when someone looks like this.

reminded me of the stormtroopers and made me sick to my stomach. only they’re even more suited up, nowadays.

peaceful protesters need to be left alone. we are peacefully, respectfully telling the government that the U.S. healthcare system is a mess, the banks are on the take, the schools are sinking down, we’re sick of the buy-outs (and criminals walking free who should have been jailed for their crimes), we are tired of war, and the money spent on wargames, bombs and guns.

we want the babies fed, we want to be able to get the bills paid, and we would like to go back to work, please, if only there were jobs out there for us. (jobs that pay a living wage? oh, i’m sorry, is this too much to demand? am I being too demanding? would you like to tear gas me? yeah, i bet you would.)

my note to the Portland Police in Riot Gear, and their Mayor, Sam Adams: it’s like I used to tell my old, drunk friend J when we were out at the bars: if you go out looking for a fight, you’re going to find one. you don’t need to mix it up. please just hear what we are saying, and help.

we have the right to peacefully assemble, and we do have freedom of speech.

Sam, call off your dogs.

– wacky mommy

ps silent vigil tonite at 10 p.m. in front of City Hall, Portland, Ore.

pss this good news showed up about an hour after I posted last night. and then there’s this, too. peace, nancy

Friday BlogHer Book Review: Amy Kalafa’s Lunch Wars

September 30th, 2011

Oh, yeah, I’m tagging this one six ways ’til Sunday. Because when it comes to food? There’s a war on in this world. (This is a paid review for BlogHer Book Club but the opinions expressed are my own, by the by.)

I just finished reading Amy Kalafa’s book, “Lunch Wars” (Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin, 2011, 370 pages, $17.95). Kalafa is producer/director of “Two Angry Moms,” a documentary about kids and school lunches. Kalafa is also a holistic health and nutrition counselor and a Lyme disease consultant.

I like the way she set up the book. It’s a handbook and how-to guide, thus the book’s subtitle: “How to Start a School Food Revolution and Win the Battle for Our Children’s Health.” She wrote the book in response to the questions she was asked as follow-up to the documentary, which was a joint effort with Susan P. Rubin, mom and activist, as well as director of A Better Way Holistic Health, a private health counseling practice in New York. Kalafa lays out the numbers, the descriptions, the basic facts, the stats and everything else you need to know to be convinced that our kids are having health problems in this nation, and that some of that stems to their diet. (If you weren’t convinced of that already.)

She also addresses food and poverty, health problems and lack of exercise, PTA wars, school gardens, and pretty much everything under the sun. She’s good, and I found this book to be useful and well-written. She casts a wide net, but she also gets really specific about the issues. She brings up pretty much everyone involved in food politics — from Jamie Oliver to Martha Stewart to Eric Schlosser to Michael Pollan. (Yes, Martha is a political person. She might not be out lobbying, but every time she discusses gardening and talks about organic food, yes, that’s political.) Kalafa sprinkles profiles with other food activists and notables throughout the book — it was a nice touch and makes the book even more credible than it already was.

What I can’t get around is this: You can slap down an Uncrustables sandwich on the counter, wet, soggy, stale and grim, in its crinkly plastic wrapping. Next to it, how about a fresh loaf of whole wheat bread, a jar of peanut butter and the jam jar? You can make a sandwich — a lovely, fresh sandwich, perhaps even one that includes organic peanut butter, jam and bread — and you can ask your guest, “Which looks better?”

The just-made one, of course.

“This is crap” (pointing to the Uncrustables); “This is not crap” (pointing to the fresh sandwich). “Do we really want the kids eating crap?” No, of course not. But you know who’s in bed with the school districts and their money? Smucker’s (Uncrustables), Tyson (crappy chicken pieces). the dairy industry. Then everyone shrugs.

Those of us who have been fighting this battle for years are feeling, right now, empowered and helpless at the same time.

School food = big money for companies. Oh, the dairy industry? Why am I going after them? Because of the chocolate and strawberry milk, that’s why. Rot those teeth, kids, we’re not paying the bills. Whoops! Your parents lost their job(s) and dental insurance? No dentist for you, baby. Maybe if you work rilly rilly hard, and are smart like Tyson and Smucker’s, you can afford insurance! Maybe you should start saving for dentures, though, just in case.

My posts are always too long, my apologies, but here are some fast thoughts:

1) Why can’t kids get water during lunch? (I mean pitchers and cups on the table, not a shared drinking fountain across the room, that, by the way, is broken)
2) Is it that much trouble to offer more vegetarian food? It’s cheaper, and healthier…
3) Why not let the kids get seconds instead of tossing the leftovers in the dumpster?
4) When I see someone using a dirty rag to wipe down a table, then wiping the floor with it, then wiping another table, it makes me want to hurt that person. Gah.
5) We have enough food in this world to go around. So why are so many people going hungry?
6) I still hate war. Food, not bombs. Books, not bombs. Love, not killing…
7) When my daughter was a newborn, the first thing another mom said to me was, Once she’s in school, you won’t want her to eat school lunch. (My thought, “What am I getting into here?”)
8) Growing up, the schools I attended were considered middle-range for poverty, probably. Lots of families with no money, lots of kids eating free or reduced lunch. We had the best cafeteria ladies ever, and everything was homemade and delicious. The parents used to eat with us all the time cuz the food was so good. So when I would read in books about the “horrible” school lunches, Tuna Surprise or Mystery Meat or whatever, it always baffled me.

Why aren’t more people making calls about this? Sending e-mails? Having lunch with their kids, if possible? (Brown bagging, obviously.) Telling the school districts and the USDA that the food lunch program, as it exists now, is unacceptable, especially for kids who are in poverty? For many kids, school breakfasts and lunches comprise most of what they subside on. If you are what you eat, then they are a sausage biscuit, chased with chicken nuggets, tater tots, and as much ketchup, ranch dressing and chocolate milk as they can wolf down and guzzle. There are also a whole lot of kids in the world who can’t digest milk, are allergic to peanuts and/or tree nuts, who are vegetarian, or celiac, who just plain don’t like milk and would prefer water, who don’t need the sugar from juice… on and on.

They are not being served.

It doesn’t take much to offer beans and brown rice instead of a peanut butter sandwich (I’m thinking of kids with allergies). And beans and rice instead of chicken nuggets? Always a good idea. The costs are lower, too. In the cafeterias, they’re giving our kids meat that is not even acceptable animal feed, the grade and quality are that abysmal. I could just throw something right now. How about a box of stale, nasty, frozen pizzas?

I’m remembering an evening many years ago. A friend had dropped by, and brought a friend with her. I didn’t know this person. She started interrogating me about my baby’s diet, Well, we’re vegetarians. If she wants to eat meat when she’s older, she can, but this is how we cook (beans and rice, whole grains, greens, vegetables and fruit. She didn’t like cow’s milk, once we were done nursing — at age 2 — so she drank soy milk, fortified with calcium and iron).

This woman, who was in my space, in my kitchen, started screaming at me that I had to give my daughter meat (we tried, actually, on a number of occasions — neither of my kids has ever cared for meat. But the woman never heard this, because she just kept screaming at me). “You could give her a hot dog! You could give her a hamburger!”

Oh, my Lord. It was awful. I had to stop her, so she would leave. My friend? She just stood there, silent.

I was a new mom — I used to second-guess myself constantly. So I finally came up with, “Why is it OK to take a kid to Jack in the Box, expose them to e coli and they can die from it, but there’s something wrong with what I’m doing?”

She left.

All these years later, it still pisses me off.

Ah, the Lunch Wars and the Food Wars. I’ll keep fighting until you lose.

– wm

thoughts on pulling up stakes: one year later

April 12th, 2011

So, just about a year ago we put our house on the market on a Monday. By Friday, we got an offer and that was that. Sold to a young couple from Oakland who were picky and fussy and kept bitching about this and that. Yeah, that’s precious. Have fun, kids. Maybe you should start a blog? Call it “This Old House is 100 and Fussy as Hell Just Like Us.” Put a bird on it, it’ll be fine.

The decision to sell came after years of… this and that. Go read the archives under “School Politics,” “Pets, Stupid” and “Remodelling” if you’re interested in trippin’ down Wacky Family Memory Lane.

We found a new house, it had just gone on the market that day. Made an offer, snapped it up, off we went. (Now I’m thinking we didn’t move far enough away — working on the next ten-year plan and am thinking out of state, or country, even. Really fucking sick of the rain. But it is sooooooo nice to be closer to Steve’s work.) We moved over Easter weekend and our son’s birthday, and everything for the last year has honestly been one big blur. April to April, and I realize I haven’t written much about what the transition has been like, how things are for us. Geez, I have about four readers now (hi, lovies!) so this is more of a diary entry than a blog entry, ha.

Good, is how things are. Good and good. Yeah, people drive like maniacs on the west side, but it’s “car culture” that is more L.A. than crazy-ass North Portland, so that’s alright. They mostly stop for pedestrians in cross walks. They mostly follow the rules, good enough.

Culture shock? Little to none for Steve and the kids; a whole lot for me. I’ve never really been around middle-class and upper-middle class people in my life, it was lower middle-class and poor people up until now. I have friends from grade school, high school, college, various jobs, The Internet, neighbors… so there is no shortage of socializing, if I want it. I’ve made good friends over the years, I am blessed.

I do miss my old world, but you know? I never fit in with a lot of ‘em. A number of our friends had moved away, and even the ones who were still in town? Good luck finding time to see each other, especially with everyone at different schools, with different schedules, different sports teams. None of us on our block and the blocks surrounding us went to the same schools. My daughter had one buddy down the street she went to school with, that was about it.

My son is supposed to be writing an essay for school: “Tell about an experience you had visiting Portland.” I told him to write about the SWAT teams and the sharp-shooters who wouldn’t let us go home cuz there was a bad guy in our driveway, and about the pitbulls and the drunk neighbors who used to play YAHTZEE!!!!!!!!! all night long and… yeah. Portland! Wow! Portland is rilly rilly fun and put a bird on it, why doncha? Right away!

When we went to a birthday party (years ago), and all the grandparents were my age, and were making drug references that ha! ha! they were so sure that the kids weren’t getting. Yeah… that didn’t work for me. Grade school, high school, fights and messes and people burning their houses down for the insurance money and almost killing their kids in the process, and having to learn how to drive when you were 11 or 12 because if your parents were drunk, or the dad you babysat for wanted to drive you home and he was loaded, you did not want those people driving you around, fucking give me the keys and I’ll drive. “I know how! It’s OK, give me the keys. Thanks.” That was my neighborhood, growing up. Put a bird on it!

People bragging about their guns, their fucking stupid dogs and their stupid dog parks (“He is like my child!”), their wildass, tattooed, branded and pierced lifestyles. Mmmmmmmmmmmmm, how avant garde you are.

Then there’s the truly harsh stuff. The desperation that comes with poverty. The neighbors who don’t look out for each other. The sadness of realizing that no matter how much time and money we threw at the neighborhood public schools, it wasn’t going to help. All of the work we did. All of the money we raised, grants we wrote for playgrounds and everything else. Whatever.

There are a whole lot of well-to-do families in the Portland Public Schools district who count on the “generosity” (ha. a bitter, bitter ha.) of the poor kids to finance their kids’ education. Cuz if you only have so much to spread around, well. They think they deserve it all and they just fucking take it. Take it and run and say mean, crappy things like, Sucks to be you, doesn’t it, poor people? Here is what I say to them: Backstabbers.

It’s different out here, in the suburbs, miles and miles from where I grew up, from where my son spent his first eight years and my daughter spent her first ten.

It’s equitable, for the most part. The schools do their funding differently — the rich parents can’t all get together and “buy” a music teacher (or any other teacher, for that matter) cuz then… you would have the haves and the have-nots, and the rich schools would have all the goodies. Hear that, PDX? So it’s sauce for the goose/sauce for the gander, so to speak.

It’s ethnic (Oregon, overall, is white as hell, so that’s not saying much, in any part of the state), but it is diverse. There are 90 different languages spoken out here. That is a trip to me.

As far as the flora and fauna… It’s nature preserves and greenspaces and rec centers that are clean and up-to-date because people pay their taxes to keep ‘em that way. And signs that say NO DOGS and when I see those signs I say, Ah, good.

So to people from that part of town who ask (snotty, always snotty), “Don’t you miss the diversity?” i say, It’s more diverse out here than in my old neighborhood.

“Oh, the ‘burbs, your nice little bubble…” (that’s another comment I hear, from time to time.) It’s not a bubble. You take your demons and your dreams wherever you go, don’t you? My writing, my kids, my lover, my gardening, my nightmares, my fears, my tears and sweat — those are with me for the rest of my life. (“You can run/but you can’t hide.” — anon.)

Radiated Japan, the wars in Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq… the embarrassment and shame I feel as an American, knowing that we’re spending billions on bombs and rockets, and cutting billions on education spending and healthcare, food stamps, pre-natal care, Planned Parenthood and… everything. Our priorities are all fucked up in this country.

That goes with me wherever I go, it haunts me. Yeah, maybe Canada, next, if they’ll have us.

My daughter left a school, started a new school, graduated from that school and started middle school. My son left one school and started at a new one. I left the school I was working at, started at a new school, started grad school, quit both. That has been a lot of upheaval and again, harder for me than for the kids.

“Flexibility is a lifeskill!” — anon.

I need to focus on the writing, the kids, Steve. We are liking it. I have my own library now; he and Wacky Girl share a music studio.

The kids both love their new schools (Steve and I do, too), they’re happy. They have music, band, art, friends whose houses they can walk to, bowling, pizza, sushi and the mall, movies and starry, starry nights, choruses of frogs… all kinds of stuff. Lego Robotics and swimming lessons and hikes where we look for mink and beavers and deer — and see them. We’ve seen deer on our street, how crazy is that? (We’re not far from the woods, any direction we go.) My daughter has started skiing and my husband has taken it up again. They love it.

Everyone out here is really, really, really into sports. Maybe it’s cuz Nike has such a big presence, who knows. We’re into hockey, swimming and nature walks, that’s about it. Ducks or Beavers, Ducks or Beavers? We’ve been asked that, I dunno, twenty times a week since we got here.

OK, Beavers it is. My son’s teacher is over the moon about it, YES!!

“It’s a different world/from where you come from…” is the song most likely to be running through my head, on any given day. I miss my friends, I miss my family, but I don’t miss all the bullshit. I don’t miss so-called friends stabbing us in the back and leaving snotty messages on the blogs, on other websites, on e-mail and voicemail. Someone actually left us a message once (the person wanted a favor, was the funny?? part), saying, You seem like the kind of Republicans who would…

Whatever. I mean, WTF? I’m Socialist, do you not get that? Marxist Feminist, thanks. But… whatever.

So. How is it out here?

Walking home from school with my son about a half hour ago, we saw a hawk, swooping and gliding and putting on a show, just for us.

It’s good.

How’s it with you?

Go, Maggie Mashia!

March 14th, 2011

Maggie Mashia for School Board, yes. If you are a Portland, Ore. resident, please give her your vote at election time.

textbooks du jour

November 13th, 2010

more stinkin’ books:

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