Saturday, July 28, 2018

Summer! We Hardly Know Ye!

Yesterday, D and I wandered over to her house and her lovely pool to hang.  D does not get a lot of time to hang in her own space - no more than her parents do.  But yesterday, Little Blue Bunny watched D practice getting her face wet, swimming to the deep end and back.  He was super impressed.  He tried to get his face wet and it scared him.  Poor bunny!

We made him a boat from a juice carton and he lazed while we dunked underneath the water and paddled and just messed around.  Then we went indoors and D found something to do.  So did I.  It was the most relaxed afternoon we've had in months.

Summer has changed. 
Long ago, we slept in. We did our chores and then we went outside.  Everything else was left up to chance; bikes, puddles, clouds, lightning bugs.  We played capture the flag and shadow tag under the streetlamps.
We joined the summer reading club and picked out books we weren't "allowed" to read during the school year.  Nancy Drew!!!  Cherry Ames!!! Hardy Boys!!  GooseBumps (not my generation, but still a sturdy series).

Summer was a huge blank canvas.  Now summer looks like a paint-by-numbers scene.

Day camps - known as daycare during the school year - arts camps, gymnastics camps, dance camps, science camps, sports camps- that's where our kids spend the summer days.  They have to get up as early as they do during the school year because their parents have to work.    If they are lucky, they have friends at camp.  Or, they have grandparents or caregivers who come in to help care for them.  More likely than not, kids are hustled off to care arrangements.

I think that summer leisure is encoded in our DNA as a necessary part of life.  We want the rhythm to change with the seasons.   When we don't get a chance to control our days, we get anxious and testy.  Or, - and this is worse, - we lose the ability to find things to do, retreating into screen time, food or whatever we are told to do by others, whether we want to do those things or not.  BLAH!

Kids don't know or care that summers are different until they start reading books that show children enjoying freedom!  Like The Penderwicks!  Or The Swallows and AmazonsGone-Away Lake or  even One Crazy Summer  (OK, that one IS about a summer camp in a hot crowded city but there's a lot of free time in there.)

So, are summers just different or worse or better or something else entirely?  How can things change for the better?

Ah, well, that's fodder for another post.

Let me know about your favorite summer book in the comments.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Let's Not Forget! Philip Reeve

Some authors became Darlings of the Moment.  But once they have proven themselves, book people just take them for granted.  Sad but true. 

Philip Reeve, a former Darling of mine, dropped from my radar.  A scan of my "read" books list reminded me of Reeve's splendid awesomeness.

His Mortal Engines series (once known as Hungry Cities) is ground breaking, combining dystopia with steampunk and sci-fi with lots of BIG landscape gobbling cities.  (Also, "ground breaking"! Good, huh?)  Peter Jackson is turning the book, Mortal Engines into a movie.  Trailer!  Release date is December of this year.

My favorite Reeve title is Larklight and its sequels because the characters are Victorian and modern all at one go.

When you are looking for a riveting adventure to read this summer, DON'T FORGET PHILIP REEVE!  Not just for steampunk aficianados - Philip Reeve writes for all of us.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Sex, Gender, Woke-fulness

CONFESSION AND WARNING:  I'm not sure I understand what everyone means by "Woke".   I have no worries over how people want to be considered, about gender identity - although someone could explain it all to me again, - about respecting the preferred use of pronouns when addressing nonbinary and other gender non-specific people. 

That said, a recent edition of Shelf Awareness for Readers offers TWO books out now that might help people like me and my peers, AND teens - the ones for whom gender identity is such a big question along with sex, life, the universe and other things - understand gender and sex issues.
WARNING:  Some sex terms here.
NOTE:  I do know that gender is NOT all about sex.

A Quick & Easy Guide to They/Them Pronouns

Archie (who uses they/them as their preferred pronoun) wants us all to understand the whys, hows, whens, and wherefores of non-specific pronoun usage.  His friend, Tristan, (he/him) helped put together this clever guide to language and address when approaching the wide spectrum of gender differences.
  The graphic book format makes the guide easy to read and fun to flip through.

Doing It!  Let's Talk About Sex by Hannah Witton.   

 This one IS about sex - and all that comes with it, including gender identity.  Witton is a sex educator and this book covers contraception, masturbation, LGBTQ+ issues.  Body image, sex shaming, sexting, anatomy, STDs - if there is anything that deals with genitalia and their uses, it is in this book.  Every generation approaches the subject of sex in a different way.  This book might be this generation's guide.  (I did not actually read this book.  I will soon.  I still have questions!)

I use she/her for my pronoun.  When I was a child, I wished I was a boy - but I realized in my teens that that wish was rooted in the freedom that boys had, compared to the social strictures placed on girls.  

Dar Williams wrote a song about this very thing.   Enjoy - after you wipe the tears from your eyes when you realize that we put our selves in cages just to survive.

Be kind.  Just be kind.

#woke #gender #DarWilliams #bookreviews #sex

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

The House with a Clock in Its Walls

Time for a movie trailer - a blast from the past.  Books by this author flew off the shelves during the summer.  Those readers are now adults so...

#booksintomovies  #horror  #housewithaclockinitswalls

Friday, July 6, 2018

Button, Button, Who's Got the Button?

When Patryk finds an old button in the forest near his Polish village, he ignites something fearful in his friend, Jurek.  Jurek challenges the group of friends to a "Button War".  Whoever finds the "best" button will be King.

Once war, real war, hits the village, there is no going back.  Things  just get worse.  That decline of civility, of certainty, is mirrored in the actions of the boys.  Jurek steals the schoolmaster's cane and threatens to use it when he becomes King.  Patryk finds himself lying, sneaking out, stealing to stop Jurek from winning.

Buttons are cut from Russian uniforms, pulled off dead soldiers' coats and hats, taken from drunk Germans.  The village is caught between the Russians in the forest and the Germans in the town.  Then the French show up and the Austrians - all with enticing, desirable buttons.

It is war.  People die.  People spy on each other.  "Accidents" happen.  At the end, is Patryk any better than his ruthless "friend"?

Avi offers an unsettling look at human acquisitiveness, competition, and a desire for power, set in the early stages of World War I.  Two days after I set the book down, I revisit the last night in my mind.  How do you come back from the brink of barbarism?

The Button War by Avi

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Woes! Wants! Wishes!

My iMac died.  Seven years of trouble-free operation - except for the time it fell off its shelf, smacked me in the head and got a crack in the screen -and now, static and frozen screen.  Apple Support told me my computer is Vintage or Obsolete.  Note the capital letters - their choice, not mine.

All my photos and files are on that computer.

I bought an external hard drive and backed up the aforementioned files but I need a Mac to open them.

 I bought a PC laptop along with a year of Microsoft Office.  I thought my iMac had been resuscitated and would live forever.  WHY!!!???  I should have bought a MacBook.!!

(My Office log in card has not arrived - minor woe.)

Kindness!  Honestly, I want that more than anything.  The system we had to process asylum seekers worked for over 90% of cases.  Slap on an ankle bracelet and send them off to find a place to stay.  Call them back for their day in court.  Cheaper for tax payers and so much kinder than separation and imprisonment.  Donate to RAICES or ASAP.**

Renewable energy!   This is a no brainer.  Energy companies will quickly find a way to make money off of renewables, so they should just make solar, wind, wave and geothermal energy more readily available. Ecotech Institute of Colorado features 8 renewable energy organizations here.

Clean Water!  Puerto Rico, Flint, MI, and a large part of the Third World do not have clean water.  Clean the water!
For organizations and charities that work to provide clean water to Third World Countries, read this article. 
Unidos, The Hispanic Federation's Puerto Rico Relief initiative is still in operation.  Mercy Corps also collects and distributes water in Puerto Rico.
Flint, MI, suffers from being poor, black and not fun to report.  It is hard to find organizations that help with the water situation in Flint.  Don't get me started about the awful source of this problem.  (GREED!  POLITICS!  GREED! )  Most of the articles found in an internet search are 2 years old or older.
The City of Flint is offering bottled water and water filters to its residents.  This initiative began in April, 2018 (huzzah).  Scroll down on their page to find out how you can donate money and/or water to Flint's residents.

OK.  This is the me! me! me! portion.

**I wish you would all go to Chiles' Play on Amazon and/or Bandcamp and buy a CD or song.  WHY? Because we will donate 10% of the purchase price of every CD to ASAP.  This offer also extends to CDs you buy from me or Dan.  

Did you already buy the CD? Say something nice about the CD on Amazon and we will donate 10% of YOUR purchase price to ASAP.  Comment below to let me know when you do comment on Amazon.

#benefit, #Chiles' Play, #immigration, #RAICES, #Cleanenergy