Archive | personal geography RSS feed for this section

What should not be forgotten

4 Aug

download-1

The sticky handrail
touched by the hands of
1500 middle schoolers

The rhythmic chime
of keys on a lanyard
as a colleague approaches

Second breakfast
with its mug of tea, a banana,
and a colleague with
her bowl of fruit and yogurt

The musty smell
of the locker room
as 120 sixth graders
leave for the day

The flow of students
up and down the staircase
at the beginning and end
of the day

The beep and buzz
of the lock
as you swipe your ID card
before the sun comes up

They joy in your heart
as you stand, before school,
in front of the building,
greeting families,
and one of your current,
or former students,
arrives

 

On my street

2 Jun

When I first moved to the home where I now live, I noticed a patch of asphalt that had writing carved into it. It was a little hard to read, but it was a memorial  to someone who had been killed.

Yesterday, as I was walking home from Whole Foods, I looked up and noticed that the signcaps on top of the street signs had Amharic writing. I stopped. How had I never noticed this before? Were these signs new?

I was a little surprised to find that the signcap at the top of my street was the same. How is it that I never looked at the sign? I have a vague memory of noticing that signcaps had been installed a few years ago, but I had never bothered to read what they said.  Most of the signcaps in this part of Portland, just say the name of the neighborhood, so I never looked. I just assumed.

Once home,  I did a little research. I learned that the signs were put up on November 13, 2018 to commemorate the 1988 murder of Mulugeta Seraw, an Ethiopian immigrant, by white supremacists. That was a Tuesday, so I would have been at school and missed the ceremony that occurred.  And I put two and two together and realized that the section of asphalt I’d never been able to read must have been about Mulugeta Seraw’s murder. After doing my research, I went back out to read the asphalt.

It had been paved over.

So here I am, putting together a lot of things we’ve all been thinking about these last few days.

What are other things I have seen but never looked at?

What other things are being paved over?

How can I do better?

 

Behind the mask

5 May

Everybody in Whole Foods, the nearest grocery store to my house, wore a mask. Most wore gloves. That day, I was only wearing one glove because, when I got there, I discovered I must have dropped one between my front door and the store.

I had my list and wandered purposefully, paying attention to the yellow markers on the floor that helped shoppers understand the concept of six feet. It was a short list, mostly fresh items, and before long, I was in the checkout line. Here, too, there were yellow lines. Display shelves had been moved to help funnel people the most socially distant direction.

As I waited in line I watched the two clerks. One was still checking someone’s groceries, the other finished up and then cleaned. She sprayed they belt as it ran, wiped down the card reader, sprayed and wiped the counter, before wiping down the counter. Then, she made eye contact with me.

I walked over, smiling. That’s when it hit me, she couldn’t see my smile. And yet, I knew she was smiling because I noticed the crinkle around her eyes. We are going to have to start learning to read new social cues,  I thought as I unloaded my groceries.

Screen Shot 2020-05-04 at 2.54.41 PM

I contemplated this as I walked home. There weren’t many people on the sidewalks, but I veered into the street as I neared people. I didn’t look for social cues about who should step out of the way. I have always had a big personal space bubble. My idea of six feet is really more like thirty.

As I mounted the stairs to home, I found the missing glove. I threw it into the washing machine along with its mate and the face mask.

 

I’ve become that person

7 Apr

Staying at home, the days have begun to blur together. Case in point: I almost missed that today was Slice of Life Tuesday.

As a result, any variation in my day is celebrated. Like a UPS delivery. Way back, I had an issue with a UPS delivery and signed up for some sort of alert. This means that, the day before a delivery, I get an email alerting me to the fact that a package will be delivered the next day. But on delivery day, the real excitement happens. I get an email with a “Follow My Delivery” option. You know I click on that and spend the next few hours following the truck as it meanders through my part of town.

It surprises me that sometimes, it comes very close to my house – only a block or two away – without delivering my package. I know UPS has a massive logistics division that has logically determined exactly when my package should be delivered on the most efficient route. I don’t mind the wait. Following my package is a fun diversion.

Screen Shot 2020-04-07 at 7.53.57 AM

Home is where the heart is

6 Apr

One of the upsides of being stuck at home is that I am reading more than usual. I hope this is true for you too. Maybe I this will be getting me back to writing more about some pf the books I am reading.

Over the weekend, I read A Home for Goddesses and Dogs by Leslie Connor, and loved it.

x300

Publisher’s Summary: This novel sings about loss and love and finding joy in new friendships and a loving family, along with the world’s best bad dog. An uplifting middle grade novel about recovery featuring strong female characters, an adorable dog, and the girl who comes to love him.

It’s a life-altering New Year for thirteen-year-old Lydia when she uproots to a Connecticut farm to live with her aunt following her mother’s death.

Aunt Brat and her jovial wife, Eileen, and their ancient live-in landlord, Elloroy, are welcoming—and a little quirky. Lydia’s struggle for a sense of belonging in her new family is highlighted when the women adopt a big yellow dog just days after the girl’s arrival.

Wasn’t one rescue enough?

Lydia is not a dog person—and this one is trouble! He is mistrustful and slinky. He pees in the house, escapes into the woods, and barks at things unseen. His new owners begin to guess about his unknown past.

Meanwhile, Lydia doesn’t want to be difficult—and she does not mean to keep secrets—but there are things she’s not telling…

Like why the box of “paper stuff” she keeps under her bed is so important…

And why that hole in the wall behind a poster in her room is getting bigger…

And why something she took from the big yellow dog just might be the key to unraveling his mysterious past—but at what cost?

People grieve in different ways. At first, I wondered why Lydia didn’t grieve more. And then the paper box full of the goddesses she and her mom made emerged. Lydia dealt with her grief in a unique way

I read an article last week that talked about the feelings people are feeling these days. It suggested that what many of us are feeling is actually grief. Reading A Home for Goddesses and Dogs, isolated at home, made me want to make a paper goddess for these crazy times.

 

Time on my hands

31 Mar

Despite the my grey hair and the many missives I receive from the AARP, I am not yet a senior citizen. This is important because it means I need to be aware of shopping times, i.e. the shopping times reserved for seniors and other vulnerable people. I know that my nearest shop, the tiny Whole Foods three blocks away, has reserved 8 – 9 a.m. for these folks.

Yesterday morning, feeling antsy, I decided to go to Whole Foods. I played the “let’s pretend I’m not going out without you” game with Lucy, but she had it figured out by the time we hit the sidewalk. The trembles started. Hardening my heart, we took a little walk and then returned to the house where I left her.

I had packed my backpack before the walk, so I could drop Lucy off, grab the bag and be out the door before she could really panic. It contained two reusable shopping bags, yellow Playtex gloves, and my wallet. I intentionally left my phone behind so it wouldn’t get germed. I also just wanted to enjoy my walk without distractions.

I knew I was a little early, but hadn’t realized quite how early I was going to be. As I walked through the parking lot, I saw a gloveless senior citizen raking groceries from her cart and putting them in her front seat, just like I do. Another person exited. He didn’t look like a senior, but he was a little further away. Maybe it was already nine.

I approached the doors, where the security guard stood. This was a new addition to the store the last time I was there. That time they mostly cleaned shopping carts, but I suspect they managed the lines at busier times.

“Am I early?” I asked as I approached, but maintained an appropriate social distance.

“Yeah, you got about 20 more minutes,” she told me, smiling, clearly not thinking of me the way the AARP does.

“No problem. I’ll just take a walk,” I replied as I veered off the other direction into the neighborhood.

Although this neighbor hood is near min and I often walk the major streets, there are many streets I don’t think I have ever been down. I peeked at porches and gardens as I walked past, trying to figure how far I needed to go before turning around and taking a different winding way home. I crossed the street when I saw people coming towards me and got to look at some different houses and yards.

It had rained really hard overnight and there were a few puddles to navigate around. I walked around a park, rather than through it, to a point where I thought I could turn around. Not having a watch or my phone made the actual time a guess. I decided that, as I walked back to Whole Foods, I would try to see if I could see the time through someone’s window. It was harder than I thought it would be. I saw mixers and plants, coffee makers and dog treats, but I could not see a clock. Not on a wall, not on a stove.

As I was about to round the last corner, I passed a house where I could see a large screen TV through the window. CNN was on, and I knew they usually showed the time in one corner or another. I slowed my pace, allowing my eyes to roam from corner to corner, trying no to look too much like a stalker. And the, there it was, in the upper right hand corner 12:07 ET. That meant it was 9:07 in Portland.

I picked up my pace, greeted the the same security guard when I reached Whole Foods, then entered the store ready to get the things I needed.

 

 

Keeping Portland Weird

20 Mar

It was a sunny Thursday and, once more, Lucy was just standing on the sidewalk. There was a time that she ran, but nowadays, she simply likes to stand around, sniff, and watch the world.

This particular Thursday, we emerged from social distancing so she could have a potty break and I could get away from the sofa. The sun was warm and I didn’t mind just standing there with her. At this time of the year the sun feels wonderful, and given the circumstances, healing.

As Lucy and I soaked up the sun, I noticed a sound in the distance. Could that be bagpipes?  I asked myself. It couldn’t be Portland’s Unipiper, could it? I wondered as I turned my eyes in the direction of the music. Sure enough a yellow clad figure was at the end of my block. I knew Lucy couldn’t run fast enough for us to see him and I was content to enjoy from a distance.

But then he turned up my street.

Fortunately, a unicycle is not built for speed and I had enough time to dash into my house and grab my phone. On the way, I passed a neighbor.

“The Unipiper is coming!” I called happily.

“Is that a bad thing? You are running away!” he laughed to me as he descended to see the local celebrity.

“Just grabbing my camera,” I called back, just before dashing into the house. I was back in no time and managed to snap one good photo as The Unipiper pedaled past, playing Scotland the Brave.

90595117_10222519132835044_378700396203343872_o

 

Quiet in the hood

18 Mar

I had an appointment for a haircut yesterday. I wondered if my hairdresser would cancel, but she didn’t. Her salon is about 4 blocks from my house, in the same block as a small Whole Foods, and in a stretch of NE 28th that is sometimes called Restaurant Row.

The weather was nice, so I decided to walk. Although people were out, it wasn’t as busy as it normally is. I decided to take some shots of the signs that have been put up since the governor declared that restaurants could only serve take out or delivery.

This sign was posted on the telephone pole in front of the Whole Foods.

90007298_653371962156512_1443038655596724224_n

It’s hard to know what this shut down will mean to all these small businesses. My hairdresser talked about how she was torn between staying open and shutting down. Salons have been shut down in Washington and she might now have to struggle with that decision much longer.

People in my neighborhood – The Recyclers

2 Mar

I held the back door open and set one foot on the top step. As Lucy hopped down, I heard rustling behind me. Someone was going through our recycling bins.

As Lucy took a moment to sniff – the air, the dirt, the rose bushes – I looked to see who it was.

“Good morning,” the female voice called to me. “How are you?”

“Great,” I replied. “And glad it isn’t raining.”

She laughed as Lucy and I walked past her. She was familiar to us. I don’t know her name but she is one of a number of regulars who collect cans from recycling bins in the neighborhood. She, like several others, come around with shopping carts, laden with can filled bags. There is a fellow who used to come around with a cart, but has since purchased an old, brown Ford Econoline van. He is not as chatty as this recycler. He is not as quiet as the elderly gentleman who comes around on his bicycle, bags hanging from every possible place. He never says a word, but I can tell by the look in his eye that he is terrified of dogs – even Lucy.

As Lucy and I walk past the recycler and descend the back steps to the street, I see the cart.

“Sorry about the cart,” the recycler says.

“No problem,” I reply, “Lucy is small and can get around anything!”

We walked South down the street. As Lucy stood staring off into space – something she does more and more lately – I heard the wheels of the shopping cart head North.

 

Screen Shot 2020-03-01 at 8.11.00 AM

 

First Book of 2020

2 Jan

I’ve not been writing as many book blogs as I used to. With my term on the 2021 YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction about to begin, I don’t know how many book posts I will manage this year. While I am still on vacation, though, I can tell you about the first book I finished in 2020.

A1O3bIbUoHL

Publisher’s Summary: The true story of a
couple who lost everything and embarked on a transformative journey walking the South West Coast Path in England

I put the book on old, months ago and I’d forgotten what had appealed to me to make me place the hold in the first place.  Recalling so little, I assumed it was a work of fiction. I wasn’t very far in when I began to realize that I was wrong. This was a memoir of real events and I popped open Google maps to follow the journey.

In many ways, The Salt Path was a perfect first book of a new decade. It is a book that inspires the reader, showing the transformational possibility of perseverance through hardship. Despite the dire situation in which Raynor and Moth find themselves, the book includes a lot of humor along with self-reflection and commentary about how the treatment of homeless people. It also includes some beautiful descriptions of the landscape along the route.

A powerful start to my reading year.

Randy Ribay

YA author, teacher, nerd

The Fat Squirrel Speaks

Knitting, spinning, and assorted awesomeness.

Global Yell Blog

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

Jone Rush MacCulloch

Deo Writer: Musings to Spark the Spirit

Klickitat St. Readers

Just another WordPress.com site

Readerbuzz

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

PLUMDOG BLOG

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

Gail Carriger

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

Kate Messner

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

Cybils Awards

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

Someday My Printz Will Come

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

The Librarian Who Doesn't Say Shhh!

Opening books to open minds.

andrea gillespie

Inquiring My Way Forward

Kirby's Lane: A Place for Readers and Writers

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

The Horn Book

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

The History Girls

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

%d bloggers like this: