Archive | February, 2019

Finally!

26 Feb

My dog, Lucy, got me up for a potty break around 4 Monday morning. I am always a little bleary at these moments, shuffling to the kitchen to get her harness. I lean out the back door, holding onto the leash, eyes barely open and  whispering words of encouragement to get her to do her business quickly. This day, I was a little more alert, on the lookout for the snow that Portland forecasters had promised yet again. Seeing none, I went back to bed and got up at my usual time.

I turned in the coffee pot before I showered and dressed. Once dressed, I went to get my first of my two morning cups. Of course, a two-hour delay had been called while I showered. I look outside. There was very little snow on the ground at home, but school is 30 minutes away and at a higher elevation. I puttered at the computer, drinking my coffee, then sat down to knit a bit. When the coffee ran out, I checked the closures: still a two-hour delay, so I wouldn’t make a pot of tea, I’d make a second round of coffee while I packed my lunch, thinking about what time I should leave.

About a half hour later, Beaverton schools were closed – Portland Public Schools maintained their two-hour delay. My streets were still clear, but apparently the storm had veered West and my school district’s higher elevation mattered.

I dumped the last of the coffee and put the kettle on for tea.

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25 Feb

A lot of reading of “books I missed” happens in the wake of the Youth Media Awards. This weekend I read two lovely picture books I missed earlier in the year. Each deal with sad topics in a beautiful way.

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The Rough Patch by Brian Lies, was a Caldecott Honor book. It is about love, loss, and grief.

Goodreads Summary:Evan and his dog do everything together, from eating ice cream to caring for their prize-winning garden, which grows big and beautiful. One day the unthinkable happens: Evan’s dog dies.

Heartbroken, Evan destroys the garden and everything in it. download-1

The ground becomes overgrown with prickly weeds and thorns, and Evan embraces the chaos.

But beauty grows in the darkest of places, and when a twisting vine turns into an immense pumpkin, Evan is drawn out of his isolation and back to the county fair, where friendships—old and new—await.

 

Let me just say that the two page spread that shows the day his dog passes might be one of the most poignant scenes in a picture book, ever.

The other picture book I read, The Remember Balloons, written by Jessie Oliveros and illustrated by Dana Wulfekotte, was a 2019 Schneider Family Award Honor Book.

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Publisher’s Summary: James’s Grandpa has the best balloons because he has the best memories. He has balloons showing Dad when he was young and Grandma when they were married. Grandpa has balloons about camping and Aunt Nelle’s poor cow. Grandpa also has a silver balloon filled with the memory of a fishing trip he and James took together.

But when Grandpa’s balloons begin to float away, James is heartbroken. No matter how hard he runs, James can’t catch them. One day, Grandpa lets go of the silver balloon—and he doesn’t even notice!

Grandpa no longer has balloons of his own. But James has many more than before. It’s up to him to share those balloons, one by one.

It’s the quiet voice and  little details that make this book so powerful. Depending upon how old people are, they have more or fewer balloons than others. But the dog always only has one red balloon. That touched my heart because that’s how dogs are.

Both of these books are great for young readers. They can also help parents talk to their children about these tough topics.

This week’s book talks 2/18-22

22 Feb

President’s Day Monday, meant a 4-day week. This week (and next) is all about nonfiction books related to Black History Month.

Tuesday

Shackles from the Deep by Michael H. Cottman

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Wednesday

The March Against Fear by Ann Bausum

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Thursday

We’ve Got  A Job To Do by Cynthia Levinson

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Friday

Locked Up For Freedom by Heather E. Schwartz

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Helping Howard

19 Feb

The message from the Oregon Basset Hound Rescue president  came Friday night: Could someone get to the Humane Society on Saturday to take a look at a dog? Howard had been returned to OHS a second time and they were asking for OBHR’s help finding him a new home.

I’d been planning to do my taxes Saturday morning, then spending the rest of the day knitting. But, I live closest to OHS, so I said I’d do it. I was told to wear black (Howard was reported to be afraid of people in black) and  arrive before OHS opened. I was to go right in once the doors opened  and let them know who I was – they’d be expecting me.

There were two small crowds out front when I arrived. The crowd closest to the doors were clearly potential adopters, eager to find their furry soulmate. They were older that the crowd further back. I initially assumed these were volunteers, but, using my excellent powers of eavesdropping, I learned they were veterinary students coming for a tour.

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When the doors opened, I queued up and waited my turn. they were expecting me and before I knew it I was being escorted to a meeting room. It wasn’t the sort of meeting room you might imagine. this was a room designed for an intimate meet and greet.

When Howard came in he showed no fear of my black clothes. In fact he was sweet and curious, sniffing all over to get to know this new room.

He came when called and demonstrated how well he could sit (and wait) for a treat. he also demonstrated his excellent climbing skills.

Howard came to Oregon from a kill shelter in California in the Second Chance program. He had been picked up as a stray a few times and the last time, his owners declined to come and get him. The shelter thought he might be adoptable in Oregon so he was sent here.  Apparently, Howard is such a devoted family member he is very vocal if left alone, and so he was adopted and  returned to OHs. Twice.

Despite his sad early life,  Howard is a lover. He is such a lover that he has a big old heart on his side. He is a model canine and OHS staff use him to model leash-walking for new arrivals. Maybe that’s why he has a gold star beside his heart.

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If I didn’t have to work, and if Lucy were friendlier to other dogs, I’d have taken him home myself.

I was a little sad to see him go, but hopeful we could spread the news about Howard to the OBHR community.

I am hopeful that Howard will soon be in a home with a retiree or a new friend works from home. Maybe I’ll have a good news update during our March Slice of Life Challenge.

 

This week’s book talks 2/11-15

15 Feb

This week I continued sharing ARCs.

Monday

Grim Lovelies by Megan Shepherd

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Tuesday

Cretaceous by Tadd Galusha

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Wednesday

Tooth & Claw: The Dinosaur Wars by Deborah Noyes

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Thursday

Ghost Hog by Joey Weiser

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Friday

Pilu of the Woods by Mai K. Nguyen

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Shopping at the end of the world

12 Feb

I don’t recall when or why I began doing so, but I always do my weekly shopping on Friday on the way home from work. It is a convenience that allows me to spend the weekend focused on more exciting options, and to spend quality time with Lucy . It has the added convenience that my local supermarket is remarkably empty at that time.

The weather forecast last week predicted snow for Portland starting late Friday night and promised snow through the weekend.

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You could feel the excitement in the students – and in the teachers. Everyone was asking “What if” questions about Monday. Texts and messages about crazy lines at grocery stores were being passed. Could they be true? I wondered, disbelieving all reports.

Skies were overcast and roads were dry as I drove home Friday, planning to stick with my weekly routine. As I pulled into my local supermarket, I could see the rumors were true.

If I don’t get a parking spot, I’ll just drive home. I have enough food to last a few days, I told myself. Although I saw cars circling the lot, I found a spot easily, parked and walked in. All the carts were gone and the lines were very long. I turned and walked out. Halfway to the car I reconsidered. I didn’t have enough yogurt to last the weekend. I’d get a basket, grab the yogurt and some veg and get out.

Well, you’d think the end of the world was at hand. I have never seen a grocery store so picked over. There were a few bunches of over ripe bananas left, so I passed on them. There were almost no packaged greens to be had!

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Fortunately, there were lots of avocados, red bell peppers, yogurt and cilantro – the things I needed for what I planned to make this weekend.

As I shopped, I scouted out the lines. Most were long, but one of the self check lines tucked into the beverage aisle and few people realized how sort it was. I chatted and shook my head along with the others in front of and behind me. As predicted, my line was fast. I was at the stand in five minutes and home in ten.

It started to rain that evening. The temperature dipped and about an inch of snow fell on top of the ice. By Saturday afternoon, most of it had melted.

Snowmageddon was more like Nomageddon.

Despite dire warnings from a range of weather networks and stations. No snow fell Sunday. Or Monday. Or Tuesday morning.

Our Snowpocalypse was a Nopocalypse.

 

 

 

Happy Birthday, Jane Yolen!

11 Feb

Today is Jane Yolen’s 80th birthday.

Wikipedia tells me that she is “the author or editor of more than 365 books, of which the best known is The Devil’s Arithmetic“. Since I can’t talk about all of them, let me tell you about a series I don’t think ever got the attention it deserved.

Co-written with Robert J. Harris, The Stuart Quartet  is a four-book historical fiction series set in Scotland. Each book stands alone, and can be read out of order, but together they give readers a glimpse into Scottish history.

The first book, Queen’s Own Fool,  tells the story of Mary Queen of Scots.

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Publisher’s Summary: Once she was a traveling player . . . Now called La Jardinière, a resourceful and clever jester to the queen’s court, Nicola was a most unlikely person to end up “fool” and friend to Mary, Queen of Scots. But Nicola isn’t an ordinary comedian tumbling and clowning before the court; her quick wit and sharp tongue are rare amongst the fawning nobles. As fate takes Mary from France to Scotland, and into confrontations with rebellious lords and devious advisors, Nicola remains deep in the queen’s inner circle. But when the Scots start to turn on Queen Mary, Nicola struggles to find something—anything—that she, just a fool, can do to save her friend. Once she was a traveling player . . . Now called La Jardinière, a resourceful and clever jester to the queen’s court, Nicola was a most unlikely person to end up “fool” and friend to Mary, Queen of Scots. But Nicola isn’t an ordinary comedian tumbling and clowning before the court; her quick wit and sharp tongue are rare amongst the fawning nobles. As fate takes Mary from France to Scotland, and into confrontations with rebellious lords and devious advisors, Nicola remains deep in the queen’s inner circle. But when the Scots start to turn on Queen Mary, Nicola struggles to find something—anything—that she, just a fool, can do to save her friend.

The second, Girl in a Cage,  goes further back in Scottish history to tell the tale of Robert the Bruce.

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Publisher’s Summary: When her father, Robert the Bruce, becomes King of Scotland, Marjorie Bruce becomes a princess. But Edward Longshanks, the ruthless King of England, has set his sights on Robert and his family. Marjorie is captured and imprisoned in a wooden cage in the center of a town square, exposed to wind, rain, the taunts of the townspeople, and the scorn of Longshanks himself. Marjorie knows that despite her suffering and pain, she is the daughter of noble Robert the Bruce&150and she will make her father, and her country, proud. For a true princess is a princess, whether in a castle or in a cage.

 

The third book, Prince Across the Water, tells Bonnie Prince Charlie’s story.

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Fantastic Fiction Summary: When Scotland calls on all its able-bodied clans to join Prince Charlie in the march against England’s tyranny, young Duncan McDonald is as ready as anyone to fight. He’s grown up on Granda’s stories of glory in battle, and his heart is stirred by what he knows of the young prince. But when he and his cousin Ewan run away to join the great battle at Culloden, they find themselves caught in a nightmare: not the glorious field of heroes they expected. As much as he loves his country and his prince, Duncan has to ask himself: Can anything good really come of Culloden?

 

 

The final book, The Rogues, is a story of the Highland Clearances.

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Goodreads Summary: When everyone in his Scottish village is violently evicted from their land by the laird, Roddy Macallan knows he must find a way to fight back. As his family escapes, making their way through the Scottish Highlands bound for Glasgow, Roddy sneaks home in search of a treasure his mother once told him was hidden there. But the search becomes more than that when Roddy teams up with a Robin Hood-like rogue who roams the Highlands just ahead of the unscrupulous laird.

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