Author Archives: Robin

About Robin

I’m a wife, mother, grandma, retired teacher, gardener, knitter, and passionate reader. I live near Portland, Oregon, USA.

The Turning

The Turning, by Emily Whitman, won the 2019 Eloise Jarvis McGraw Award for Children’s Literature, Oregon Book Awards. I was completely carried away with it when I read it recently and feel it was a worthy winner of this prestigious Oregon book award, as well as the Oregon Spirit Book Award, which it also won!  A coming-of-age story, beautifully written, it is highly recommended for middle-grade readers. I so enjoyed the magical aura I was immersed in while reading it. A young boy, half-human and half-selkie… where does he really belong? On land or in the sea with his selkie clan?

from the publisher:

Aran has never truly fit in with his selkie clan. He was born in his human form, without a pelt to transform him into a sleek, strong seal. Each day he waits, left behind while his selkie family explores the deep ocean. What if his pelt never comes? Does the Moon even see him? Is he putting his clan at risk?

When his mother undertakes a journey to the far north to seek help, Aran is left in the care of a reclusive human woman on remote Spindle Island. Life on land is full of more wonders–and more dangers–than Aran could have ever imagined. Soon Aran will be forced to decide: will he fight for his place on land, or return to his home in the sea?

 

I chose this book to read for my personal challenge, “WANDERLUST: Reading the States,” an effort to read books that are from or take place in each of the 50 United States. This book was written by an author from Oregon and won two Oregon book awards.

The World Has Need of You

everything here seems to need us
~Rainer Maria Rilke

This poem by Ellen Bass speaks to my heart today, so I wanted to share it with you. With the news filled with sadness and madness, we must try harder each day to feel that “invisible tug between you and everything.”  The beautiful words of Ellen Bass remind us that each one of us is a precious meaningful being, and that each one of us can and must make a positive difference in a world gone mad.

 

Pippi Longstocking

Pippi Longstocking, by Astrid Lindgren, has long been on my list of books to read because I didn’t read it as a child, although that little girl with red hair and strange braids was always in the periphery somewhere. But I thought since she is just a little bit older than me, she is 75 years old this year, (to my 71 years), that I should celebrate by finally reading the book.

It is a beloved book worldwide, but I didn’t fall in love with it. I mostly enjoyed it, and could certainly see why it would appeal to many people young and old…and I admired the strength of this nine-year old girl and her goodhearted but quirky nature. But I felt like I was missing some of the cultural context of the book…things that might be more humorous and/or meaningful in the original language and culture. (Or maybe it was just that my sense of humor has been quarantined a little too long this spring?)  She was not a boring character, and she had spunk! I think she actually might just be the quintessential spunky character.

from the publisher:

Pippi is an irrepressible, irreverent, and irrefutably delightful girl who lives alone (with a monkey) in her wacky house, Villa Villekulla. When she’s not dancing with the burglars who were just trying to rob her house, she’s attempting to learn the “pluttification” tables at school; fighting Adolf, the strongest man in the world at the circus; or playing tag with police officers. Pippi’s high-spirited, good-natured hijinks cause as much trouble as fun, but a more generous child you won’t find anywhere.

Astrid Lindgren has created a unique and lovable character, inspiring generations of children to want to be Pippi. More than anything, Pippi makes reading a pleasure; no child will welcome the end of the book, and many will return to Pippi Longstocking again and again. Simply put, Pippi is irresistible.

So the book experience for me was okay, but I was much more interested in the author, Astrid Lindgren, who appealed more to me than the character she created. She was a humanist and committed advocate for children and animal rights, and through her writings and advocacy work, she was able to help bring changes into law that prohibited violence against children (she was very much against corporal punishment) and promoted animal rights. You can read more about her work here on her website.

I’m sorry to all of you who grew up absolutely loving Pippi. Perhaps I should reread it at some point down the road to see if it was just my state of mind right now, or if the book just wasn’t quite my cup of tea.

 

I chose to read this book as one of my 50-books-in-5-years for The Classics Club.

Kim Stafford: Poems for the Pandemic

Kim Stafford is the Poet Laureate of Oregon. He’s a wonderful poet, as was his father, William Stafford. He’s been publishing on InstaGram a series of poems during this pandemic and time of quarantine, and I’ve looked forward to reading each one.

Here is his poem that greeted me this morning. He introduces it by saying, “In the web of our connections now, there are no random strangers. All become kin in our mutual concern.

His work is another one of the beautifully creative endeavors that are helping us get through this crazy time with compassion and understanding.

CLICK HERE to visit his project POEMS FOR THE PANDEMIC at The Oregonian online site.

CLICK HERE to visit his own website.

CLICK HERE to visit his InstaGram page.

Keeping Busy

It’s a quiet Saturday afternoon during this continued period of shelter-in-place..  I know that community life out there is beginning to reopen, but not for us. We are all pretty much in the high risk category —  Hubby and I due to our advanced age, and our son due to his asthma. So we will continue to hunker down for the time being. Perhaps for a long time!

Life continues to be busy, despite being home all the time. I am grateful that we are retired and don’t have to worry about WORK. Our son is very fortunate to be able to work from home. I am grateful that all our family is well and safe at this point. And for the most part, we are happy to stay busy at home.

Here are a few things that are keeping me (us) busy during this time…

READING! So many books, so little time! I’ve read 22 books so far during this quarantine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HANGING OUT WITH MY FAMILY: (we call ourselves the FamNet!) on Zoom every Wednesday afternoon! So much fun!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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WALKING, although I’m still not getting as much exercise as I was before this quarantine!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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ATTENDING ONLINE MEETINGS (a couple each week!) for volunteers with Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LEARNING:  I signed up for a year’s worth of Masterclass! Why not? I love to learn and I have lots of time!  First class was Jane Goodall on Conservation. A wonderful class!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GARDENING:  I take lots of photos of my flowers, mostly close-ups. I rarely show a whole yard view because then you’d see how many weeds are winning the battle out there!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JUST SHARING SPACE with the Hubby. So glad to be sheltering-in-place with him!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PLEASE STAY SAFE AND HEALTHY DURING THIS CRAZY TIME, MY FRIENDS!

Facing the Lion: Growing Up Maasai on the African Savanna

Facing the Lion: Growing Up Maasai on the African Savanna, by Joseph Lemasolai Lekuton, is a wonderful introduction to the culture of Kenya, and a fascinating memoir of a talented Maasai boy. Mr. Lekuton tells his boyhood stories and tells how, with the help of his tribe, he was sent to study in an American college, St. Lawrence University in New York.

from the publisher:

Joseph Lemasolai Lekuton gives American kids a firsthand look at growing up in Kenya as a member of a tribe of nomads whose livelihood centers on the raising and grazing of cattle. Readers share Lekuton’s first encounter with a lion, the epitome of bravery in the warrior tradition. They follow his mischievous antics as a young Maasai cattle herder, coming-of-age initiation, boarding school escapades, soccer success, and journey to America for college. Lekuton’s riveting text combines exotic details of nomadic life with the universal experience and emotions of a growing boy.

After graduating from St. Lawrence, he taught middle school in Virginia for many years, and then was accepted at Harvard University where he earned a Master’s degree in International Education policy at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

He returned to Kenya in 2007, and was elected as a representative in the National Assembly of Kenya. He was reelected in 2013. His work has been dedicated to improving the lives of young Kenyans through education.

To bridge cultures you must mix people together,” he says. “Education and travel are the best teachers.

This was a very enjoyable book, a wonderful introduction to Kenya and to a young boy who grew up to be an inspirational man.

Click here to listen to Joseph Lekuton’s TED Talk, “A Parable for Kenya.”

 

I chose to read this book for my personal challenge, Wanderlust,” an effort to read books that are from or take place in each country of the world. This was a book about Kenya.

A Favorite Poem by Gary Snyder

Today, May 8th, is Gary Snyder’s birthday. He’s 90 years old! I have a book of his poems, Regarding Wave, bought long ago when Byron and I were newly married. That book has traveled with us through all our moves and book purges. I still enjoy opening it occasionally and revisiting some of my favorites in that slim little volume.

Here’s one that I loved way back then, and still do…and it seems quite appropriate to reread it during this time of shelter-at-home. Also, by coincidence, our grandson is named Kai, so there is even a greater connection to this poem now. Isn’t it interesting how a poem weaves itself into your life in many different ways?

 

Wise Words About The People Who Are Gone

Thinking of my Mom and Dad this week… My Dad passed away 26 years ago today, just two days before his 74th birthday. I lost my Mom almost two years ago. Missing them is timeless and a constant. But they are in my heart and always with me. The memory of them both, and their lives of integrity and kindness, still guide me in my daily life.