Three Things Thursday

Once again it’s time for the blog challenge Three Things Thursday, the purpose of which is to “share three things from the previous week that made you smile or laugh or appreciate the awesome of your life.”

three-things-thursday-participant

Since we’ve recently moved to Tacoma,WA, USA, after living in St. Louis, MO, for more than 40 years, I’m still discovering awesome aspects of my new life. Here are three of them I experienced over the past week.

1.  We had one clear day last week when we could see our glorious Mount Rainier. Thanks to my husband for sharing this photo.

Mt. Ranier Jan 13, 2015

 

2.  One thing I’m still getting used to since moving here to the Pacific Northwest is the fact that moss grows on EVERYTHING: on roads, on sidewalks, and, as here, on our driveway.

moss

3.  On Sunday afternoon our Seattle Seahawks had a dramatic come-from-behind victory over the Green Bay Packers to earn the chance to defend last year’s Super Bowl title on February 1. Go Hawks!

ML King Day at WA State History Museum

Yesterday we attended a panel discussion called Diversity and Changemaking in Children’s Literature in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr., Day at the Washington State History Museum in downtown Tacoma. Here’s a summary of the panelists and their messages.

Belinda Louie, Ph.D.
Dr. Louie is a professor of education at the University of Washington Tacoma. She immigrated to the United States from China to attend college. ( See her website ). In her presentation she stressed two points:

  • Authenticity.  She exhibited two books that present the same Chinese fairy tale. One of the books she bought in China. The other was published in the West. She pointed out that the illustrations in the two books are very different, with the Western version picturing a Chinese woman in a way that would not appear in China. She made the point that when looking at books aimed at diversity, it is important that the books depict the authentic experiences and beliefs of the culture represented.
  • Empathy.  Books that present the experience of people of diverse cultural backgrounds help children develop empathy. As an example she offered Black Misery (1969) by Langston Hughes.

Sundee T. Frazier
Frazier is an award-winning novelist of books for young people. All of her books feature biracial main characters. She stressed that seeing a main character in a book who is like them is a validation of children’s right to exist in the world. All children deserve this experience, she said, and she hopes her books show that being from a biracial or interracial family is normal. ( See her website ).

Richard Jesse Watson
Artist Richard Jesse Watson is a best-selling children’s book author and illustrator. His work was featured in a recent solo exhibition at the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art and is also on display at the Washington State History Museum. In his illustrations especially he aims to present people from all over the world. ( See his website ).

Laurie Ann Thompson
Thompson’s books aim to inspire and empower young readers. Her first book, Be a Changemaker: How to Start Something That Matters, is a guide for teens who want to change the world. Another book, Emmanuel’s Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah, is a picture book about a young man from Ghana who changed his country’s perception of people with disabilities. ( See her website ).

Lois Brandt
It took Brandt 10 years to find a publisher for Maddi’s Fridge, her children’s book about friendship, promises, and childhood hunger. No one wanted to publish a book about childhood hunger, she said. The book is based on Brandt’s personal experience of visiting a friend whose refrigerator was as empty as a display refrigerator in an appliance store. ( See her website ).

Carmen Bernier-Grand
Bernier-Grand is a native of Puerto Rico. She said that she was surprised when a publisher asked her to write a children’s book about César Chavez because she was not Mexican. Apparently the publisher thought that anyone who spoke Spanish could write the book. She took on the challenge and immersed herself in the life and culture of her subject. She has since written several more children’s biographies of Latino artists and changemakers. She is a professor of creative writing for children at the Northwest Institute of Literary Arts on Whidbey Island. ( See her website ).

Jesse Joshua Watson
Jesse, the son of Richard Jesse Watson, is an artist whose passion is portraying the diversity of people from all over the world. He said that he loves expressing both the differences and the similarities among people in his illustrations. ( See his website ).

Kathleen (Katie) Monks
Monks is head of instruction services at the University of Washington Taooma. She manages the children’s book collection at the university’s Tioga Library. The collection was begun with the donation by Professor Belinda Louie of her children’s books. The children’s and YA (Young Adult) collection now holds more than 8,200 books.

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Another source of information about the need for diversity in children’s literature is We Need Diverse Books:

We Need Diverse Books is a grassroots organization created to address the lack of diverse, non-majority narratives in children’s literature. We Need Diverse Books is committed to the ideal that embracing diversity will lead to acceptance, empathy, and ultimately equality.

The organization also has a Twitter page and a hashtag: #WeNeedDiverseBooks.

Retirement Lifestyle

It’s not necessarily your parents’ retirement anymore.

On the Road with the ‘Workampers,’ Amazon’s Retirement-Age Mobile Workforce

Last fall writer Spencer Woodman visited a campground called Buckeye Mobile/RV Estates outside of Coffeyville, Kansas, where a number of migratory workers were waiting to start temporary work at Amazon’s nearby warehouse. Called workampers, they are “mostly retirement-age migrant workers who have taken to the road in RVs and camper vans in pursuit of temporary jobs to make ends meet.”

But the workamper lifestyle isn’t just about finding temporary work:

Although workampers’ schedules can be grueling, they are quick to express appreciation for the community and sense of belonging that their migratory life offers them. The workers at Buckeye not only lived and worked together but formed close bonds and shared a fierce camaraderie.

One workamper told Woodman, “You need to just get in the RV and explore. You won’t get rich doing it, but you get a lot of experiences and you meet the greatest people.”

Woodman wondered if such enthusiasm for the migratory lifestyle might be rationalization, a means of glossing over the harsh economic realities that force people to keep moving in a search for one temporary job after another. But, he writes, many workampers talk about the lifestyle with a zeal that “can become almost evangelical.” Most of them see this life as a way to throw off the shackles of a stationary, materialistic view of life, to abandon “the entire orders of value that workampers have left behind.”

Several comments posted under the article reinforce this view. Len Randol wrote:

At the age of 36 I went fulltime and left our sticks and bricks life behind. I had a job in corporate management and took my family to live a life full of adventure, a life building memories. Connecting with nature and community in a way that didn’t seem possible in in our wash/rinse/repeat lifestyle of before.

Cheryl Henry posted:

Thousands of us WILLINGLY gave up our sticks and bricks home and a life style that is stressful and/or boring! Sure there are those who struggle, but they probably did when they were anchored to one place… . Most of are NOT running around saying “oh poor me”! We are happy traveling to places of our choice, seeing places in this country we could not have afforded to go visit even for a few days. Now we not only get to go, but get to stay for months at a time if we so choose. If we don’t like the place or the neighbors, we move! We have been across the country east to west, north to south and met some wonderful people and made great friends.

Georgia Bissonette said that after the loss of her son:

I wanted to live again, I wanted to get out of bed and my overwhelming grief and fall in love with this world again! I live and love in a 28ft space with my husband,2 cats and our old dog! And I couldn’t be happier! We are leaving Tennessee this weekend, where are we heading? Where the wind blows us!

This lifestyle is obviously not for everyone, but both the article and the comments suggest that, for some, it is an appealing choice.

Retirees Turn to Virtual Villages for Mutual Support

I had not heard of “virtual retirement villages, whose members pay a yearly fee to gain access to resources and social connections that help them age in place”:

At the core of these villages is conciergelike service referrals for members, said Judy Willett, national director of the Village to Village Network. Members can find household repair services, and sometimes even personal trainers, chefs or practitioners of Reiki, the Japanese healing technique. Most important, the villages foster social connections through activities like potlucks, happy hours and group trips.

One major benefit of virtual retirement villages is that it counters the social isolation that aging adults often experience. Members keep in touch by telephone as well as on websites and by email and social media sites like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter.

virtual villages are popping up all over the country. Currently, there are 140 villages in 40 states, according to Village to Village Network, which helps establish and manage the villages. Another 120 virtual villages are on the drawing boards.

For more information, see Village to Village Network.

Three Things Thursday

Although so far in my challenge to write a blog post a day this year I haven’t had a problem finding things to write about, last weekend I went looking for a couple of blog challenges to participate in. Participating in these challenges will not only give me something to fall back on when I’m short on either ideas or time, but should also add a bit of variety to the kinds of posts you’ll see here.

This week I’m digging into the blog challenge Three Things Thursday, courtesy of Nerd in the Brain. The purpose of this challenge is to “share three things from the previous week that made you smile or laugh or appreciate the awesome of your life.”

three-things-thursday-participant

So here goes!

1. Last weekend we finally made it to the movie theater to see the third (and final, thank goodness) installment of The Hobbit. I saw this bumper sticker in the parking lot:

Hillary

And I was reminded that, since we’ve now had our first Black U.S. President, it’s time to start thinking again about a female President.

2. No, this is not a full moon over Stonehenge. It’s the sun trying to pierce the fog of a January morning here in Tacoma, Washington, USA.

fog sun

3. While at the movies (see #1) we saw trailers for upcoming new additions to both the Terminator and Jurassic Park_ franchises. I’m not exactly sure what I think about this, but I find it interesting that movie studios apparently think it worthwhile to resurrect these concepts for a new generation. Will there truly be new takes on the underlying ideas of these films, or will the success of the new movies rest on the fact that special effects are so much more advanced now than they were when the original movies were made?

Mandolin Sushi & Steak House

My husband F. and I are regular participants in the Lunch Bunch, a monthly bus trip to a local restaurant offered by our retirement community. This past Friday we went to the Mandolin Sushi & Steak House:

3923 S. 12th Street
Tacoma, WA 98405
253–301–4969

There were about 15 of us, just the right size party for the separate room in the back, where the hostess seated us.

This restaurant offers many different kinds of food. F. and I went for our usual, steak and shrimp cooked at the table habachi-style.

Some of our friends ordered sushi, which arrived in a dramatic presentation:

Sushi in a boat
Sushi in a boat

I don’t claim to be an experienced food critic, but we liked what we had. Discussion on the bus on the way home suggested that most of the others had enjoyed their food as well. The restaurant has overall good reviews on yelp.

We were all impressed with the service. Our group consisted of couples and some individuals, which meant a lot of separate checks. Our waitress did a fantastic job of keeping all the orders straight, even at the end with all those separate checks and credit cards.

I’m Not Sugar

Recently after a gathering here at our retirement community, we emerged into the drizzling rain that’s standard at this time of year here in the Seattle-Tacoma area. I hate both raincoats and umbrellas, so I usually just brave the elements if I’ll only be out for a short time. A friend of mine, T., huddled with her husband under their big umbrella. “Oh, Mary, you’ll get wet!” she said to me.

“My mother always told me ‘You’re not sugar, you won’t melt,’” I told her.

“That’s funny,” she said, “my father always told me I WAS sugar and I WOULD melt, “ she replied.

Obviously T.’s father had a different attitude toward her than my mother had toward me.

I initially took this difference as an example of my mother’s lack of caring about me. But maybe the difference didn’t mean that at all.
Maybe what my mother was really telling me was that I should go forth in the world without letting a little thing like a drizzle affect me. Perhaps this was her way of toughening me up in preparation for whatever life might throw my way.

And perhaps there’s also a significant gender angle at work in this difference. As a man, T.’s father might have felt obligated to protect and shelter his daughter. He could have been exercising both his obligation and his right to guide her into the role of someone who needed to be cared for. But my mother, who had had to learn to take care of both herself and me on her own, had a different outlook on life. Perhaps she was really telling me that I didn’t need to become someone fragile and dependent on another person to protect and shelter me.

Whatever my mother’s reasoning was, there have been many times in my life when I took comfort in knowing that I wouldn’t melt.

In Celebration of Older Authors

Recently I came across a 2015 reading challenge (which I didn’t sign up for) that had as a category “a book by an author age 65 or older.” This category prompted much discussion, as many people didn’t know any books that fit.

And, as synchronicity would have it, I immediately came across four articles about older writers.

8 Authors Whose Biggest Successes Came After The Age of 50

Not all of these authors fit the “over 65” category, but it’s still a joy to celebrate their late-in-life success:

  • Charles Bukowski
  • Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • Richard Adams
  • Mary Ann Evans/George Eliot
  • Jose Saramago
  • Frank McCourt
  • Nirad C. Chaudhuri
  • Mary Wesley

Q&A: Alan Bradley, author of Flavia de Luce series

Alan Bradley was 70 when his first novel, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, was published in 2009. Read here what he has to say about how his character, 11-year-old Flavia de Luce, and her story came into being.

For Writer, Talent Finally Succeeds Where Chance Failed

Meet Edith Pearlman, who “is enjoying a commercial breakthrough at 78, after five decades of writing short stories, some 200 of them, nearly all appearing in small literary magazines.”

Her latest book, Honeydew, is her fifth story collection and the first to be published by a major house.

Watership Down author Richard Adams: I just can’t do humans

From Richard Adams, 94, author of beloved children’s book Watership Down:

He began writing in the evenings, and the result, an exquisitely written story about a group of young rabbits escaping from their doomed warren, won him both the Carnegie medal and the Guardian children’s prize. “It was rather difficult to start with,” he says. “I was 52 when I discovered I could write. I wish I’d known a bit earlier. I never thought of myself as a writer until I became one.”