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1. Tansy, Chipmunks & Tools

It’s been a busy week. Yesterday I had to further cut down my ten foot tall Tansy that was blocking sunlight to tomatoes and squash and peppers. The Tansy has bloomed and has pretty little yellow cap flowers that smell sweet rather than flowery. The Tansy flowers dry easily and are a nice addition to Potpourri.

Then there is the rascally chipmunk digging up my pea seeds, removing the pink seed cover and chomping on the newly sprouted seeds. I sprayed the pea bed with animal repellant, which is thoroughly repulsive and I put an ultrasonic solar animal repeller aimed right at the bed. I bought three of these things from www.animaloff.com. Quickly entering the As Seen on TV Sucker club.

Ms. Chipmunk ate seeds right in front of me and with the ultrasonic animal repeller aimed right at her. I could see the red light flashing detecting her movement. She did not leave my garden until I yelled right in her seed-stuffed puffy cheeks, “YOU are not allowed in here!” So yesterday, I worked on the outside of my garden, the side that backs to the woods, and cleared weeds and patched a large section of fence with small gauge wire fence and then rocks along the base of the fence for those dig-ins. Hopefully, this worked as I re-planted the pea bed after. The ultrasonic animal repellers are going back for a full refund.

Harvested:

  • Napoles Carrots — I stuffed a gallon Ziploc bag full of these huge orange beauties
  • 3 Heads of Snow Crown Cauliflower — I am the only one who eats cauliflower so I only grow it for myself. The heat we’ve had this summer gave the cauliflower a purplish blush.
  • Mini Red Bell Peppers
  • Northern Delight Tomatoes — these are small 2″ round tasy tomatoes.
  • More cucumbers, yellow squash and zucchini — Don’t forget that chickens love overgrown summer squash. I cut them into chunks right there in their yard for them. We are too close to our neighbors to let our chickens run wherever so they have a large fenced yard and coop.

I have a gardener’s apron that ties around my waist. I have these things in my apron pockets that I never go into my garden without and which makes my time there easier and more efficient:

  1. Sharp-pointed Garden Shears
  2. Twine
  3. Plant Labels
  4. Permanent Marker
  5. Gloves

For suppers past week:

  • Sliced Cucumber, Grilled Yellow Squash (Olive Oil & Herbs), Grilled Chicken Breast, Pasta, Fresh Green Beans
  • Cheesy Eggs with Bacon Burritoes with peppers and onion
  • Matt’s Green Bean Casserole
  • Homemade Pizzas with blanched Yellow Squash, Mini Red Bell Peppers, Green Pepper, Onions, Sliced Olives, Mushrooms and Pepperonis

What came from the garden or farm for the above foods:

  • Cucumber
  • Yellow Squash & Zucchini
  • Herbs- Basil, Oregano, Parsley, French Thyme
  • Red & Green Peppers
  • Green Beans
  • Onion
  • Eggs

Matt’s Green Bean Casserole

2 Large Handfuls Green Beans, trimmed

1 Can Cream of Potato Soup

1 Onion, sliced and caramelized

3 slices Bacon cooked crispy and crumbled

Fresh Basil & Oregano

1 tsp. Sea Salt

Throw all ingredients together in casserole dish, cover and back at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes or so, until bubbly. Even the 12 year-old wolfed this down. Delicious!

It looks like the unknown chickens from the Hatchery are all roosters!


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2. Tansy, Chipmunks & Tools

It’s been a busy week. Yesterday I had to further cut down my ten foot tall Tansy that was blocking sunlight to tomatoes and squash and peppers. The Tansy has bloomed and has pretty little yellow cap flowers that smell sweet rather than flowery. The Tansy flowers dry easily and are a nice addition to Potpourri.

Then there is the rascally chipmunk digging up my pea seeds, removing the pink seed cover and chomping on the newly sprouted seeds. I sprayed the pea bed with animal repellant, which is thoroughly repulsive and I put an ultrasonic solar animal repeller aimed right at the bed. I bought three of these things from www.animaloff.com. Quickly entering the As Seen on TV Sucker club.

Ms. Chipmunk ate seeds right in front of me and with the ultrasonic animal repeller aimed right at her. I could see the red light flashing detecting her movement. She did not leave my garden until I yelled right in her seed-stuffed puffy cheeks, “YOU are not allowed in here!” So yesterday, I worked on the outside of my garden, the side that backs to the woods, and cleared weeds and patched a large section of fence with small gauge wire fence and then rocks along the base of the fence for those dig-ins. Hopefully, this worked as I re-planted the pea bed after. The ultrasonic animal repellers are going back for a full refund.

Harvested:

  • Napoles Carrots — I stuffed a gallon Ziploc bag full of these huge orange beauties
  • 3 Heads of Snow Crown Cauliflower — I am the only one who eats cauliflower so I only grow it for myself. The heat we’ve had this summer gave the cauliflower a purplish blush.
  • Mini Red Bell Peppers
  • Northern Delight Tomatoes — these are small 2″ round tasy tomatoes.
  • More cucumbers, yellow squash and zucchini — Don’t forget that chickens love overgrown summer squash. I cut them into chunks right there in their yard for them. We are too close to our neighbors to let our chickens run wherever so they have a large fenced yard and coop.

I have a gardener’s apron that ties around my waist. I have these things in my apron pockets that I never go into my garden without and which makes my time there easier and more efficient:

  1. Sharp-pointed Garden Shears
  2. Twine
  3. Plant Labels
  4. Permanent Marker
  5. Gloves

For suppers past week:

  • Sliced Cucumber, Grilled Yellow Squash (Olive Oil & Herbs), Grilled Chicken Breast, Pasta, Fresh Green Beans
  • Cheesy Eggs with Bacon Burritoes with peppers and onion
  • Matt’s Green Bean Casserole
  • Homemade Pizzas with blanched Yellow Squash, Mini Red Bell Peppers, Green Pepper, Onions, Sliced Olives, Mushrooms and Pepperonis

What came from the garden or farm for the above foods:

  • Cucumber
  • Yellow Squash & Zucchini
  • Herbs- Basil, Oregano, Parsley, French Thyme
  • Red & Green Peppers
  • Green Beans
  • Onion
  • Eggs

Matt’s Green Bean Casserole

2 Large Handfuls Green Beans, trimmed

1 Can Cream of Potato Soup

1 Onion, sliced and caramelized

3 slices Bacon cooked crispy and crumbled

Fresh Basil & Oregano

1 tsp. Sea Salt

Throw all ingredients together in casserole dish, cover and back at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes or so, until bubbly. Even the 12 year-old wolfed this down. Delicious!

It looks like the unknown chickens from the Hatchery are all roosters!


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3. July 30, 2010 Strawberry Margueritas

Supper last night:

  • Vegetable and Bean Minestrone from 500 Best Healthy Recipes. Recipe found by daughter Sarah. From garden: potatoes, broccoli, carrots, onions, celery, basil. Delicious. 500 Best Healthy Recipes

Supper Tonight:

  • Strawberry Margueritas made with frozen OG strawberries from the garden
  • Little Caeser’s Pizza! Yes. My neck hurts. I couldn’t make homemade pizza tonight.

Harvested:

  • 2 Very large bundles of Aroma and Sweet Basil. Basil was washed and then hung upside down to dry. I keep the bundles together with rubber bands and store the bundle in a paper bag, with holes cut out, and hang this.
  • A handful of Gusto Hot and Jalapeno Peppers
  • 1/2 gallon of Bush Beans
  • 2 large Zucchini and 3 large Yellow Squash

My chiropractor is getting a bag of vegetables tomorrow, the Hot Peppers were especially picked for him. He usually plants a garden but just couldn’t this year. Dr Kyle saved me on Memorial Day from the worse pain ever when I threw some of my ribs out.

Jen’s Strawberry Margeuritas:

  • 4 oz Strawberry Marguerita Mix. My favorite is Mr & Mrs T’s.
  • 2 oz. Bacardi Rum
  • 1/2 to 1 cup frozen strawberries

Put the Marguerita Mix liquid in the blender first, then the rum, then the frozen strawberries on top. Blend until smooth. No ice is needed. This makes one serving.

Margueritas take the edge off the anxiety that comes when your economic future is unclear after your economic assets have been devastated through no fault of your own, you just happen to be living in the here & now and your small business is struggling to survive after being successful before that economic crash that was no fault of your own.


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4. July 30, 2010 Strawberry Margueritas

Supper last night:

  • Vegetable and Bean Minestrone from 500 Best Healthy Recipes. Recipe found by daughter Sarah. From garden: potatoes, broccoli, carrots, onions, celery, basil. Delicious. 500 Best Healthy Recipes

Supper Tonight:

  • Strawberry Margueritas made with frozen OG strawberries from the garden
  • Little Caeser’s Pizza! Yes. My neck hurts. I couldn’t make homemade pizza tonight.

Harvested:

  • 2 Very large bundles of Aroma and Sweet Basil. Basil was washed and then hung upside down to dry. I keep the bundles together with rubber bands and store the bundle in a paper bag, with holes cut out, and hang this.
  • A handful of Gusto Hot and Jalapeno Peppers
  • 1/2 gallon of Bush Beans
  • 2 large Zucchini and 3 large Yellow Squash

My chiropractor is getting a bag of vegetables tomorrow, the Hot Peppers were especially picked for him. He usually plants a garden but just couldn’t this year. Dr Kyle saved me on Memorial Day from the worse pain ever when I threw some of my ribs out.

Jen’s Strawberry Margeuritas:

  • 4 oz Strawberry Marguerita Mix. My favorite is Mr & Mrs T’s.
  • 2 oz. Bacardi Rum
  • 1/2 to 1 cup frozen strawberries

Put the Marguerita Mix liquid in the blender first, then the rum, then the frozen strawberries on top. Blend until smooth. No ice is needed. This makes one serving.

Margueritas take the edge off the anxiety that comes when your economic future is unclear after your economic assets have been devastated through no fault of your own, you just happen to be living in the here & now and your small business is struggling to survive after being successful before that economic crash that was no fault of your own.


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5. July 28, 2010 Eating out of the Garden

We are trying to live out “Eat Local” and especially, “Eat out of our Garden”. Inspired by the economic crash, desiring tasty vegetables and a healthy lifestyle and further reinforced by Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.

For lunch:

  • Sliced fresh cucumber 
  • Amy’s Vegan Zucchini Carrot Muffins from the recipe book Well Preserved by Joan Hassol

For supper last night:

  • Grilled chicken with grilled Yum Yum Gold sweet peppers
  • Disappearing Zucchini Orzo from Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle — from the garden: zucchini, thyme, onion
  • Fresh Pole Beans

For supper tonight:

  • Vegetable Chili — from the garden: carrots, zucchini, onion, celery, homemade salsa from 09, green pepper
  • Bread Machine made Sourdough Bread

I can’t use Hassol’s jam recipes as she uses sugar in abundance. We are happy with the Sure-Jell Reduced Sugar Jam recipes from the direction sheet that comes right inside the pectin box. The muffins are delicious though, but only the adults like them thus far. The Disappearing Zucchini Orzo did not go over well and won’t be cooked again.

Harvested:

  • 2 gallon bags of Renegade Bush Bean from just two 4′ rows
  • 1 gallon bag of Hurricane Bush Bean from two 4′ rows
  • Another gallon bag of Malibu Pole Bean
  • Another 1/2 gallon bag of Sunset Pole Bean
  • One large Tigress Zucchini
  • 4 Yellow Crookneck Squash

All beans are to be blanched and laid on cookie baking sheets then bagged in Ziploc Freezer Bags and stored in freezer.

While picking bush beans I found four Monarch Butterfly caterpillars eating my Dill. Farmer Bob and I carefully carried them over to the Milkweed Plant I have left growing in the garden. I do need the Dill to make pickles and to make the most scrumptious Old English-style fried fish in winter.

The Gate to the Garden

 The Monarda or Bee Balm growing on the outside of the garden fence has been a constant buzz of action this summer. Without bees, there is no pollination. Yes, I overhead water. Same as rain falls. I water my garden between 4pm and 6pm in the evening, cooling plants down while not wasting water during a day of hot sun.

A Monarch Caterpillar ?

Ageratum <

2 Comments on July 28, 2010 Eating out of the Garden, last added: 7/30/2010
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6. July 28, 2010 Eating out of the Garden

We are trying to live out “Eat Local” and especially, “Eat out of our Garden”. Inspired by the economic crash, desiring tasty vegetables and a healthy lifestyle and further reinforced by Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.

For lunch:

  • Sliced fresh cucumber 
  • Amy’s Vegan Zucchini Carrot Muffins from the recipe book Well Preserved by Joan Hassol Product Details

For supper last night:

  • Grilled chicken with grilled Yum Yum Gold sweet peppers
  • Disappearing Zucchini Orzo from Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle — from the garden: zucchini, thyme, onion
  • Fresh Pole Beans

For supper tonight:

  • Vegetable Chili — from the garden: carrots, zucchini, onion, celery, homemade salsa from 09, green pepper
  • Bread Machine made Sourdough Bread

I can’t use Hassol’s jam recipes as she uses sugar in abundance. We are happy with the Sure-Jell Reduced Sugar Jam recipes from the direction sheet that comes right inside the pectin box. The muffins are delicious though, but only the adults like them thus far. The Disappearing Zucchini Orzo did not go over well and won’t be cooked again.

Harvested:

  • 2 gallon bags of Renegade Bush Bean from just two 4′ rows
  • 1 gallon bag of Hurricane Bush Bean from two 4′ rows
  • Another gallon bag of Malibu Pole Bean
  • Another 1/2 gallon bag of Sunset Pole Bean
  • One large Tigress Zucchini
  • 4 Yellow Crookneck Squash

All beans are to be blanched and laid on cookie baking sheets then bagged in Ziploc Freezer Bags and stored in freezer.

While picking bush beans I found four Monarch Butterfly caterpillars eating my Dill. Farmer Bob and I carefully carried them over to the Milkweed Plant I have left growing in the garden. I do need the Dill to make pickles and to make the most scrumptious Old English-style fried fish in winter.

The Gate to the Garden

 The Monarda or Bee Balm growing on the outside of the garden fence has been a constant buzz of action this summer. Without bees, there is no pollination. Yes, I overhead water. Same as rain falls. I water my garden between 4pm and 6pm in the evening, cooling plants down while not wasting water during a day of hot sun.

A Monarch Caterpillar ?

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7. Our Small Farm Update

I have always wanted a farm, since I was a very young child. Every year, me and Farmer Bob expand our small farm. This year we have an additional small corn field with pumpkins growing at the edges to keep the raccoons out. We did not prepare the soil well enough and the corn and pumpkins have needed alot of fertilizer and we cannot keep the weeds down. The field is aprox. 60 feet by 35 feet. Lesson learned.

My main garden is truly beautiful this summer. Pole beans have been in for a couple of weeks. I am especially pleased with the Malibu Pole Bean. Bush beans need harvesting tomorrow and more yellow squash is in. I left the garden alone for a couple of days and so today, the chickens feasted on overgrown yellow crookneck squash.

For supper tonight, fresh veggie tray with early carrots (thinned out from main crop), Diva cucumber sliced, early Tango celery stalks. Fresh green beans — Sunset and Malibu Pole. Lettuce for our hamburger and pickles from last season.

Planted my fall crop of broccoli and cabbage after pulling the Candy Onion crop from its bed. Not a fantastic crop of onions — raised bed lacking in adequate depth I think. Planted fall crop of Premium Shelling Peas.

Expanded our turkey brood to 22 turkeys this year. Narragansett turkeys. We will harvest so many, sell so many, and keep some to breed and raise a new flock. When we received our shipment of young turkeys this May, many many were dead in the shipping box. This was especially upsetting and we won’t use this hatchery again. When they shipped our replacements, they also included seven chicks of unknown variety. We opened up our old coop and fenced the yard and now we have seven chickens of unknown variety and unknown sex.

Still did not get a blueberry crop. We have done something wrong to our blueberry plants and they no longer fruit. Looks like we need to cut them down and start again. Not a good strawberry year either.

I have picked off more slugs and snails and thrown them to the chickens than I care to ever remember.


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8. Our Small Farm Update

I have always wanted a farm, since I was a very young child. Every year, me and Farmer Bob expand our small farm. This year we have an additional small corn field with pumpkins growing at the edges to keep the raccoons out. We did not prepare the soil well enough and the corn and pumpkins have needed alot of fertilizer and we cannot keep the weeds down. The field is aprox. 60 feet by 35 feet. Lesson learned.

My main garden is truly beautiful this summer. Pole beans have been in for a couple of weeks. I am especially pleased with the Malibu Pole Bean. Bush beans need harvesting tomorrow and more yellow squash is in. I left the garden alone for a couple of days and so today, the chickens feasted on overgrown yellow crookneck squash.

For supper tonight, fresh veggie tray with early carrots (thinned out from main crop), Diva cucumber sliced, early Tango celery stalks. Fresh green beans — Sunset and Malibu Pole. Lettuce for our hamburger and pickles from last season.

Planted my fall crop of broccoli and cabbage after pulling the Candy Onion crop from its bed. Not a fantastic crop of onions — raised bed lacking in adequate depth I think. Planted fall crop of Premium Shelling Peas.

Expanded our turkey brood to 22 turkeys this year. Narragansett turkeys. We will harvest so many, sell so many, and keep some to breed and raise a new flock. When we received our shipment of young turkeys this May, many many were dead in the shipping box. This was especially upsetting and we won’t use this hatchery again. When they shipped our replacements, they also included seven chicks of unknown variety. We opened up our old coop and fenced the yard and now we have seven chickens of unknown variety and unknown sex.

Still did not get a blueberry crop. We have done something wrong to our blueberry plants and they no longer fruit. Looks like we need to cut them down and start again. Not a good strawberry year either.

I have picked off more slugs and snails and thrown them to the chickens than I care to ever remember.


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9. Update on Nancy McLane Ralston

We did find a direct female descendant and she was kind enough to complete Female DNA testing through Family Tree DNA. To our surprise, the results came up to be entirely European. Haplogroup K. Predominantly Northern Irish and Scottish. This means Nancy’s mother and her mother and her mother, none of the female line was American Indian.

I think the answers are in file boxes in Pennsylvania. Nancy was purported to be an orphan. Now she could not have been in the Carlisle Indian School as she was born about 1814 and the school began in 1879 when Nancy was about 65 years old. That doesn’t mean she wasn’t adopted from another area though, and having a white mother possibly made her more readily adopted by a white couple.  McLane may be her adopted family’s surname.

Further DNA testing on other cousins has come up with Shawnee Indian through the Sinkey family and Cherokee Indian through the Green family.

Nancy’s son Millen Ralston married Eliza Sinkey and the Shawnee blood and the Green’s Cherokee blood (according only to testing) come to me this way. Eliza Sinkey’s parents were Matthew Sinkey and Nancy Huston. Nancy Huston’s parents were Andrew Huston and Elizabeth Green. Many many cousins have purported that Andrew Huston was American Indian and left Iowa in his elder years to return to his Shawnee family in Ohio. Andrew died after 1840 and was born circa 1776. We have not pin pointed where in the line the Shawnee blood entered the Sinkey family.

My cousin Dennis Butt maintains a fabulous site on the Sinkey-Huston-Green families: http://dennis-william-butt.com/Andrew%20Houston.htm

Millen himself had a mixed-blood mother in Nancy McLane and a mixed-blood father in John Ralston Jr.


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10. Update on Nancy McLane Ralston

We did find a direct female descendant and she was kind enough to complete Female DNA testing through Family Tree DNA. To our surprise, the results came up to be entirely European. Haplogroup K. Predominantly Northern Irish and Scottish. This means Nancy’s mother and her mother and her mother, none of the female line was American Indian.

I think the answers are in file boxes in Pennsylvania. Nancy was purported to be an orphan. Now she could not have been in the Carlisle Indian School as she was born about 1814 and the school began in 1879 when Nancy was about 65 years old. That doesn’t mean she wasn’t adopted from another area though, and having a white mother possibly made her more readily adopted by a white couple.  McLane may be her adopted family’s surname.

Further DNA testing on other cousins has come up with Shawnee Indian through the Sinkey family and Cherokee Indian through the Green family.

Nancy’s son Millen Ralston married Eliza Sinkey and the Shawnee blood and the Green’s Cherokee blood (according only to testing) come to me this way. Eliza Sinkey’s parents were Matthew Sinkey and Nancy Huston. Nancy Huston’s parents were Andrew Huston and Elizabeth Green. Many many cousins have purported that Andrew Huston was American Indian and left Iowa in his elder years to return to his Shawnee family in Ohio. Andrew died after 1840 and was born circa 1776. We have not pin pointed where in the line the Shawnee blood entered the Sinkey family.

My cousin Dennis Butt maintains a fabulous site on the Sinkey-Huston-Green families: http://dennis-william-butt.com/Andrew%20Houston.htm

Millen himself had a mixed-blood mother in Nancy McLane and a mixed-blood father in John Ralston Jr.


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11. Effigy by Theresa Danley

My friend Theresa Danley has a new e-book out!!  She is having a blog party on the 25th from 4pm to 7pm eastern time and is giving away three books. Go to her website and click on “My Blog”.

A serial killer is on the loose, depositing his victims’ hearts amid the Toltec ruins of central Mexico. Meanwhile, a priceless Mesoamerican artifact is stolen from the University of Utah, sweeping archaeologists Anthony Peet and Lori Dewson on a desperate recovery mission south of the border. Accompanied by a reluctant colleague, an enthusiastic young journalist and a Yaqui woman in mourning, the team must decipher clues hidden within the Aztec sunstone, mystical Toltec Pyramids and astronomical calendar rounds to find the priceless effigy of Quetzalcoatl. They suddenly find themselves in a race against the coming solar eclipse, all the while dodging a corrupt Mexican police force still on the hunt for the sadistic murderer – a killer who’s chosen one of them for his next human sacrifice.

 


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12. Effigy by Theresa Danley

My friend Theresa Danley has a new e-book out!!  She is having a blog party on the 25th from 4pm to 7pm eastern time and is giving away three books. Go to her website and click on “My Blog”.

A serial killer is on the loose, depositing his victims’ hearts amid the Toltec ruins of central Mexico. Meanwhile, a priceless Mesoamerican artifact is stolen from the University of Utah, sweeping archaeologists Anthony Peet and Lori Dewson on a desperate recovery mission south of the border. Accompanied by a reluctant colleague, an enthusiastic young journalist and a Yaqui woman in mourning, the team must decipher clues hidden within the Aztec sunstone, mystical Toltec Pyramids and astronomical calendar rounds to find the priceless effigy of Quetzalcoatl. They suddenly find themselves in a race against the coming solar eclipse, all the while dodging a corrupt Mexican police force still on the hunt for the sadistic murderer – a killer who’s chosen one of them for his next human sacrifice.

 


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13. Native Americans in Children’s Literature

 

Native Americans in Children’s Literature

By

Jennifer Porter

Just over a year ago, my then fifth grade homeschooled daughter said to me, in the midst of reading historical fiction aloud with her, “I am sick and tired of these books about the so-called terrible Indians when it was the white people who stole their land. Aren’t there any books told by the Indians?”

I answered, “I don’t know. But you’re right, these books have not told the truth.” And we talked about how our ancestors were both the Europeans that came to America and stole the land and also the Native Americans that fought back against the invasion. I promised to find her books that would honor our American Indian ancestors, and by telling the truth, also honor our European ancestors.

After reading countless books and researching this issue, I was left with some conclusions. One, there is a plethora of offensive children’s books about Native Americans and two, it is an enormous undertaking to write about Native Americans. And it seems lately, that there is an opening in our culture to begin an earnest discussion about the history of the American Indian.  For years I have been researching the tribes my American Indian ancestors came from, and it is possible now through advanced DNA testing to get some answers. It has become popular to find our ancestors. There are genealogy shows about celebrities on television and there are popular websites devoted to family history, such as ancestry.com.

Recently, PBS ran a series of American history shows from the perspective and viewpoint of the American Indian. And last October, President Obama declared November 2009 as Native American Heritage Month. Native American Heritage Month has come off and on to our country since 1990 and has its own website: http://nativeamericanheritagemonth.gov.

President Obama wrote in his declaration, “During National Native American Heritage Month, we recognize their many accomplishments, contributions, and sacrifices, and we pay tribute to their participation in all aspects of American society.”

Our society needs children’s books about the American Indians. Books about what happened in the past, biographies of American Indians, and all the ways American Indians contribute now.

But the last thing I think any children’s author would want is to have their story listed as a book that is not recommended and is deemed harmful to the well-being of children, including American Indian children. According to a 2008 article on the Poverty & Race Research Council site, there are today in these United States, 560 federally recognized American Indian tribes, approximately four million people, and 42% of these American Indians are under the age of nineteen. These numbers do not include what must be in the tens of thousands, people such as myself of Native American descent but raised within another culture and not belonging to a tribe.

The Oyate organization defines itself, according to their website (www.oyate.org), as “a Native organization working to see that our lives and histories are portrayed honestly, and so that all people will know our stories belong to us.” Oyate conducts critical evaluations of books and curricula that contain “Indian themes” and it also conducts workshops, has a reference library and distributes materials, especially that written by Native people. Oyate is the Dakota word for ‘people’, says the website. Oyate maintains a list of not recommended children’s books.

Eight of the twenty-eight worst books on Oyate’s books to avoid list were published in 2005 and after. Among the authors on the list of twenty-eight books: Janet Heller, Ann Rinaldi, Cynthia Rylant and Kathy Jo Wargin. Among the titles: I Am Apache, Touching Spirit Bear, and D is for Drum: A Native American Alphabet.

Debbie Reese, tribally enrolled in the Nambe Pueblo and a professor in the American Indian Studies program at University of Illinois at

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14. Native Americans in Children’s Literature

 

Native Americans in Children’s Literature

By

Jennifer Porter

Just over a year ago, my then fifth grade homeschooled daughter said to me, in the midst of reading historical fiction aloud with her, “I am sick and tired of these books about the so-called terrible Indians when it was the white people who stole their land. Aren’t there any books told by the Indians?”

I answered, “I don’t know. But you’re right, these books have not told the truth.” And we talked about how our ancestors were both the Europeans that came to America and stole the land and also the Native Americans that fought back against the invasion. I promised to find her books that would honor our American Indian ancestors, and by telling the truth, also honor our European ancestors.

After reading countless books and researching this issue, I was left with some conclusions. One, there is a plethora of offensive children’s books about Native Americans and two, it is an enormous undertaking to write about Native Americans. And it seems lately, that there is an opening in our culture to begin an earnest discussion about the history of the American Indian.  For years I have been researching the tribes my American Indian ancestors came from, and it is possible now through advanced DNA testing to get some answers. It has become popular to find our ancestors. There are genealogy shows about celebrities on television and there are popular websites devoted to family history, such as ancestry.com.

Recently, PBS ran a series of American history shows from the perspective and viewpoint of the American Indian. And last October, President Obama declared November 2009 as Native American Heritage Month. Native American Heritage Month has come off and on to our country since 1990 and has its own website: http://nativeamericanheritagemonth.gov.

President Obama wrote in his declaration, “During National Native American Heritage Month, we recognize their many accomplishments, contributions, and sacrifices, and we pay tribute to their participation in all aspects of American society.”

Our society needs children’s books about the American Indians. Books about what happened in the past, biographies of American Indians, and all the ways American Indians contribute now.

But the last thing I think any children’s author would want is to have their story listed as a book that is not recommended and is deemed harmful to the well-being of children, including American Indian children. According to a 2008 article on the Poverty & Race Research Council site, there are today in these United States, 560 federally recognized American Indian tribes, approximately four million people, and 42% of these American Indians are under the age of nineteen. These numbers do not include what must be in the tens of thousands, people such as myself of Native American descent but raised within another culture and not belonging to a tribe.

The Oyate organization defines itself, according to their website (www.oyate.org), as “a Native organization working to see that our lives and histories are portrayed honestly, and so that all people will know our stories belong to us.” Oyate conducts critical evaluations of books and curricula that contain “Indian themes” and it also conducts workshops, has a reference library and distributes materials, especially that written by Native people. Oyate is the Dakota word for ‘people’, says the website. Oyate maintains a list of not recommended children’s books.

Eight of the twenty-eight worst books on Oyate’s books to avoid list were published in 2005 and after. Among the authors on the list of twenty-eight books: Janet Heller, Ann Rinaldi, Cynthia Rylant and Kathy Jo Wargin. Among the titles: I Am Apache, Touching Spirit Bear, and D is for Drum: A Native American Alphabet.

Debbie Reese, tribally enrolled in the Nambe Pueblo and a professor in the American Indian Studies program at University of Illinois at

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15. Chapter Five — Rue Rescue

©2010 Jennifer D. Porter

FIVE — RUE RESCUE

After Jack had yelled at Rue to run out from beneath the forsythia, Rue crouched in the grass. He wasn’t sure what he was supposed to do. Jack had leapt onto a stone wall and then disappeared.

A brown blur flashed by the corner of Rue’s eye, so he swiveled his ears. The blur made a lot of noise — panting, thumping, swishing. The blur flashed by again, so he turned his head.

A big brown animal sniffed at the ground as it ran. The animal charged right up to Rue. It had a large mouth with long pointed teeth and it smelled dangerous. Its slobber hung in strings from its chocolate-colored lips and when it whipped its head around, the strings slapped Rue and left wet streaks on his fur.

And that was when Rue remembered some of what Jack had said. He remembered, “Run as fast as you can and don’t play dead. Or the dog will get you.”

Rue ran but he did not run straight to the stone wall. He could not let anyone see his ugly splotch, so he kept his tail tucked down. Rue zigzagged this way and that way all over the yard. And the big brown dog zigzagged right behind him. Her warm, stinky breath poofing his fur and her teeth snapping at his tail.

The stone wall wasn’t anywhere anymore. Every bush and tree looked exactly alike and looked like the bush or tree he had just run past.

So Rue crashed under a pokey bush near a white picket fence. The dog ran to the bush but could only stick her nose under it. Every time she snorted, droplets of nose water sprayed all over Rue. He shook them off. He backed himself against the fence and as far away from her sharp teeth as he could.

 “Bark, bark, bark!” the dog shouted. She dug in front of the bush, dirt flying between her back legs and into the air. When the hole was big enough, she stuck her entire head under the bush and snapped her teeth at Rue.

Rue flattened himself against the fence and kept just out of her reach. Grrr!          

He closed his eyes and stayed very still for what seemed a very long time. If he moved even the tiniest little bit, the dog could bite him. Then he heard someone call his name.

It was Jack! Running down the driveway. Jack scurried straight up the corner of the picket fence, leapt across the top then slid down it and behind the bush. The dog pulled her head out, raced around to the right side of the bush and stuck her nose against his tail. Jack swatted her.

“Back off, Sugar!” he yelled.

Sugar yelped, pulled her nose back and barked again. She moved in front of the bush and planted all four of her paws in the grass. She cocked her head and whined.

“Rue,” Jack said. “When I say so, follow me this time. You must stay right behind me. An old friend of mine is going to help us, but I need your help too. Do you understand?”

Rue nodded. “I think so.”

Jack smiled. “We can’t let this devil be the end of us. Ready?”

Rue nodded again.

Jack raised his paws, circled them around his mouth then shouted, “Poe! Fly

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16. Chapter Four — An Enormous Favor

©2010 Jennifer D. Porter

FOUR — AN ENORMOUS FAVOR

Jack had never rescued a baby bunny from a big brown dog before, so he wasn’t very good at it, at first. He scampered through the grass, his tail straight out behind him and across the Wilder’s blacktop driveway. He bounded up the stone wall that circled the flower garden in the center of the driveway then dropped down inside his hole. He never checked to see if Rue was right behind him.

Safe inside his burrow, Jack tried to slow his heartbeat with easy breaths of air. He rubbed each of his shoulders against the black, fertile dirt wall of his den then shook off and began grooming himself. “Well, that was a close call, little fellow.”

Only Rue didn’t answer. Rue didn’t make any noise at all. Jack whipped around.

Rue wasn’t there!                                          

“Oh, no!” said Jack.                                              

He scurried out of his burrow and onto the stone wall. Rue wasn’t in the yard, but Sugar was near the picket fence, in front of a bush. She had her nose and front legs flat against the ground and her tail wagged high in the air.

“Bark, bark, bark!” she said.

Sugar had Rue trapped against the fence! It was all a big game to that rascal, that devil of a dog, chasing the little animals and scaring them to death.

There was no telling when Mrs. Wilder would call Sugar back in. There was no telling what would happen if Sugar got her mouth on Rue.

“I must think quickly,” Jack said. “And act even quicker.” He scratched the fur between his ears. “Think quickly. Think quickly.” His entire body told him to run back inside his hole. “No, I’ve got to help the little bunny.”

A very shiny black crow was perched in an old oak tree — Jack’s old friend, Poe.

A long time ago, Jack had helped Poe get out of a very bad situation. It had happened in late summer when the August heat was so heavy most of the animals slept all day. Jack was searching the side of the dirt road for the perfect piece of gravel to aid his digestion.

From the tops of the trees that lined the road, a group of crows cawed. Caw! Caw! Caw! Four crows were perched together on a branch across from a smaller, very shiny crow.

“If you want to be in our gang, you got to kill one,” said the biggest crow to the smaller, shiny crow. “We got to know you’re tough inside.”

“But crows don’t kill. They scavenge,” whined the shiny crow. “It isn’t natural.”

“You’re a looser, Poe!” the other crow said. “You ain’t joining our gang if you can

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17. Chapter Three — Bark, Bark, Bark!

©2010 Jennifer D. Porter

THREE — BARK, BARK, BARK!

                                                                            

The heat spread from the center of Rue’s back to the tip of his tail then to the tips of his ears. The songbirds sang so loud it was as if they were in the nest with him. The sunshine made the insides of his eyelids bright orange. He coughed from a scratchy throat and tried to bury his head in Momma’s pile, away from the morning, but the pile was gone. The breeze floated along his fur and lifted its strands for a second or two. It fluttered through the leaves above him. He could not help but sniff and sniff the sweet smell the breeze carried with it. He tried to open his eyes, but the strong light hurt them.

“Momma,” Rue whispered.

He gave Momma a few seconds to answer, since she might just be hopping back. Then he said a little louder, “Momma? Can you hear me?”

Rue rubbed his eyes then opened one after the other. The sunshine made everything glow fuzzy for what seemed like forever. “Momma!” Then a little louder, “Momma!”

The crinkly, gray bark of the silver maple rose up into the light green leaves flittering so very high above him in the pale blue sky. A screech sounded from amongst the wispy clouds, and a chill raced along Rue’s spine and deep into his heart. “Momma!” he shouted. “Where are you?”

Rue took one step toward the tree. Their nest covering lay in wet clumps all around him on the bright green grass. Momma’s pile of grass and shed fur rolled with the breeze toward a pack of pokey bushes. “Momma! Where are you?”

Momma should have been back by now. She should be sleeping in their nest, snuggled close to Rue.

The outside world was utterly immense. Trees and more trees, acres and acres of trees, shrubs, grass. Trees dressed in flowers, trees of bright green and trees so tall they seemed to reach the sky. Trees with sharp needle branches and pinecones that could fall and squish a bunny so small. So many places Momma could be. How would he ever find her?

He slowly hopped away from their form beneath the silver maple. Everything around him had a different scent. Would he know her scent? Flowers, grass, moist dirt, earthworms, animal scents, bird droppings, humans. He stuck his nose in the damp grass and sniffed for her. It was too confusing.            

“Momma!” He sat back on his hind legs and stretched up off the ground, pulling his paws close into his chest.

He wondered if Momma could be underneath the wooden porch on the front of Mrs. Wilder’s white farmhouse with green shutters. It looked like a very good place to hide from a storm. A porch swing swayed and its chains creaked, but other than that, the house was quiet.

Rue began thumping his way over to the shadows beneath the porch. He stayed on Mrs. Wilder’s lawn and hopped toward the forsythia blooming in the flowerbed in front of the porch. The yellow-capped shrubs had spindly branches with pointed tips and some of those tips scratched at the ground.

Rue pressed himself as flat as

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18. Chapter Two — The Bad Storm

 ©2010 Jennifer D. Porter

 TWO – THE BAD STORM

That night, after they were sure the coyotes would not return, Momma had scratched a new form beneath a very tall silver maple tree in front of the Wilder’s house. Now there was a house between her nest and the woods.

Seven sunsets came and went, and the little bunny grew much bigger. But he didn’t go outside anymore. And Momma never made him. She would say, “Why don’t you go out and play for awhile. Get some fresh air.”

“I dunno. I don’t feel like it,” he would say. “Besides, there’s no one to play with.”                    

Then one evening when the darkness came to their nest, the wind moaned. Rumblings of thunder sounded from far off. The bunny pushed his ear against Momma’s chest and listened instead to her heartbeat.

“Soon the peeper frogs will sing into the night, Rue,” she said. “And you know what that means!” She tickled his ears with her whiskers until he giggled.         

“I can leave our nest,” he said, but not with much excitement.

“Yes, Rue. You will be grown-up. And then I can show you the pond and the turtles and Mrs. Wilder’s garden where delicious snow peas grow on the vine.”

“Momma?”

“What is it, honey?”

“Why did you name me Rue?”

“Well, I was hopping in the woods thinking about your father and my other bunnies when the little white flowers of the rue anemone caught my eye. Small as they were, they brightened the damp, dark forest floor. Small as you are, you have filled my rueful heart with joy.”

 

 

Rue was quiet for awhile. “Tell me again about my father.”

“That his love for you lives on forever, even though he doesn’t?” She stroked the spot between his ears with her nose.

“Tell what he was like,” said Rue.

“Well, he was very persistent. And very brave. And very handsome. The most handsome rabbit ever.” Momma’s fur brushed against him as she rolled onto her legs and shook out her tail. Her warmth moved away and the dried grass crinkled beneath her as she sat back on her haunches.

“He didn’t back down, did he, Momma?”

“No, Rue. He saved my life and yours. Every other rabbit would’ve run away.”

 “But he didn’t.”

“No, he didn’t.” Momma sighed. She gently rubbed her nose all over his face while he sat there.                                

“Do you think, someday, I could be like him?” he asked.                                                                                  

“I do. But it’s up to you to decide what kind of rabbit you’re going to be.”                                                                           

“Up to me?”

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19. Give Thanks for the Little Things


It is always the little things we overlook when giving thanks on Thanksgiving. We’re always profusely thankful for our family and friends, for our jobs, for our Civil Rights, for not starving and having to eat our young during the long winter of 1620 and for the American Indians taking pity on our incompetence, idiocy and lack of survival skills during that long winter and saving our necks so that we could turn around and take over their country.  I digress…

For me, the spirit of Thanksgiving should lie in the little things. The things we take for granted and could live without, but without, make life like cake without the frosting.

Such as the blessed times when the outfit that you pick out to wear to meet with people who make far more money than you do, does not attract pet hair like a magnet attracts nails. This saves you the unfortunate situation of hopping out of your furry car and having to perform the shake and shimmy in the parking lot. The hairs of your beloveds catching the flourescent glow of the parking lot lights and shimmering in the night, floating hither and thither while you dodge their landing. This has happened to me so rarely, that its event is one that I am deeply thankful for.

I am thankful for the times when I go to the doctor and there is actually something wrong with me. There is always a 50% chance that when I go to the doctor there is not really anything wrong with me that the doctor can write down and give a diagnosis code for and do anything about, and so when there is, I am deeply thankful for saving face. And for not wasting thirty dollars on a co-pay. And for being spared once more the nagging underlying thought that I’m being driven to the brink of insanity by my life and it is seeping out through my bones, organs and skin via imaginary medical complaints.

I am thankful for my small dresser-top room fan that runs during the night, no matter the season. This fan creates a white noise and that white noise reduces the amount of sleep that I lose to my chronic inability to sleep well.  I am certain that the white noise interfers with my brain’s desire to dwell on obsessive thoughts and keep me awake after disturbing dreams. The white noise tricks my brain into thinking it is too stupid to think because all it can process is the whir of the fan. This fan also blows a cooling breeze upon me for the times when a hot flash decides to descend upon me like an alien abduction.

These are just a few of my favorite things that I am thankful for this Thanksgiving. There are other, more private things, like the invention of bum wipes, post-it notes, gel pens, overnight Kotex, fleece and electronic fund transfers that I won’t bore you with.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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20. T.C. Boyle’s The Women


The Women is the story about the women, geez how tacky, that Frank Lloyd Wright, brilliant architect, had in his life. It is an interesting story, if you can stand how it is constructed and if you can get past the numerous deragatory references and images of Native Americans that Boyle justifies on his site (after I asked him) as coming from the thoughts and viewpoints of his characters, chiefly a Japanese man. I mean, how is it that a Japanese man, born and raised and only visiting here to learn from Wright, has American Indians on his mind so much that he uses them for violent and aggressive metaphors and similes? Hmmmmmmm!

Anyway, the book tells the story of Frank’s loves backwards. I think this is because the most riveting aspect of Frank’s life and loves is the period when his mistress/wife Mamah was murdered, along with her children and several of Frank’s draftspeople and Taliesin was burned down by the murderer. And yes, American Indians are used as similes to describe this heinous act.

By not telling us about this trauma, we miss something when reading about Frank’s later decisions and involvements with other women.  For me, what would have been riveting would have been in understanding how Frank had survived this very real and horrific tragedy in his life by seeing how his life had unfolded after the loss.

But most annoying of all, is telling us that the narrator, the Japanese man, is collaborating with another man, an Irish-American to narrate this story and then writing all of the scenes from one of the other character’s viewpoints. I never could get into this until I worked hard to forget the Japanese guy was speaking at all, and just let the scene be told by the character of the moment (which is what happens anyway). I’m thinking about the loss to the story with this technique as I compare it to The Great Gatsby and Nick telling us the story, but Fitzgerald staying with Nick’s viewpoint.

Please, all you authors out there, do not latch onto this new technique!!! Some of these fads should be allowed to disappear forever.

The footnotes are annoying also until you simply realize that the author couldn’t figure out how to retain the suuposedly chosen narrator’s voice without them, since the story is really told by the character of the moment, whether it be Frank, Miriam, Olgivanna etc.  and hardly ever the supposed narrator. The Japanese guy that hates American Indians.

Here is my list of words that I had to look up in a dictionary because Boyle is fond of adverbs and adjectives and flowery writing and cannot use common vocabulary like Kingsolver manages to:

  • filmic
  • impecuniosity
  • melliflous
  • maculate
  • orotund
  • dehiscence
  • deracination
  • umbrage
  • animadversions
  • incarnadine
  • pugilistic
  • fulmination
  • ordure
  • rubicund
  • ichor
  • prestidigitation
  • opprobrium
  • fumarole
  • pellucid
  • tintinnabulation
  • adumbration
  • oleaginous
  • luteous
  • crepitus
  • ausculated
  • dischronic
  • oneiric
  • Lucullan
  • dubiety
  • charnel
  • abstersion
  • emendations
  • canescent

Here is the image I found most offensive. Catherine just had a fight with Frank. She lives in one of the first houses he designed in Chicago and it is the 1930’s. Frank has fallen for his client, Mamah and wants a divorce from Kitty, the mother of Frank’s children. Frank is a skank if you are wondering, like Tiger Woods.

Catherine is doing the narrating here (even though it’s supposed to be the Japanese draftsman):

“The night came down and lay across the roof like a presence out of the forest primeval that had once stood here, on this lot, while Indians beat their squaws and stripped the flesh from their enemies with knives of

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21. Irritable Cat Syndrome


My daughter got a camera for Christmas. My college student sons got new phones. My husband got an electric hammer. I got Irritable Cat Syndrome.

ICS can afflict anyone at anytime, as long as they have a cat. You are more prone to getting ICS if you have recently adopted a cat from an animal shelter.

Cats confined to small cages for long periods of time after having been abandonned by previously loving families are five thousand times more likely to inflict ICS upon their new owners. ICS is not readily apparent while the cat is still in the animal prison, laying in his cat litter because his cage is too small.

At this phase, pre-ICS, the cat is extremely loving and snuggly and on its best behavior in his attempts to force you to fall in love with him and go into utter panic, when the last chance adoption sign is put on his cage. In pre-ICS, the cat will gently touch you with his paw as you walk by his cell block. If you remove him from the cell block to pet his soft orange fur, he will purr and rub his cheek against your cheek. He will not try to get away because he wants to get away with you at this point, rather than away from you.

After you pay the adoption fees, he will remain grateful for a period of time. He will bounce five feet in the air from a sitting position and catch all flying pests. He will kill these pests and lay them at your feet. Then he will rub against your legs and purr.

When you leave the house, he will run to the window and watch you leave, wondering if you are coming back. When you come back he will run to you and meow loudly that he is glad you came back. That being left alone before was traumatizing and he doesn’t want it to happen again. He will not jump on your counters or furniture because only bad cats do that and he is not bad, so please don’t take him back to animal prison.

Then ICS begins to set in. He realizes, the cute little kitty, after gaining five pounds from being fed properly, that you are more in love with him now than he is with you. He can begin to test your love. He hops on your dressers and steals jewelry and hides it under your bed. He hops on the counter and knocks food stuffs off and the dogs eat the stuff and when they get into trouble, he waits for them to be taken to the animal shelter.

When they are not, he must concoct other ways to irritate you. ICS is full blown now.

And, joy of joys, you set up the Christmas tree. He can climb inside the Christmas tree and try to knock it over. He can whack the ornaments off the tree and watch the dogs get into trouble again. He can pull all the bows and tags off the gifts under the tree and cause mad confusion on Christmas morning. He can rub against the gifts and leave clumps of orange fur and make everyone sneeze.

During ICS, you will wonder why the hell you brought him home from the animal shelter. When you lock him in your bedroom with you at night because the Christmas tree cannot be destroyed, even bringing all of his necessities into the room with you, he will torment you at regular two-hour intervals, pawing at your face, nipping at your nose, scratching at the door, leaping at the door knob to open the door. See, he had figured out how to open long handled doors. But, the bedroom door knob is round. He can’t open that. So, he stalks you.

And this is Irritable Cat Syndrome. It is worse than Irritable New Baby Syndrome. It makes you take down the Christmas tree two days after Christmas and say to him, “Hah! You can’t ever make me take you back to the animal shelter, you Devil Cat. You’re stuck with me til the day I die!”

And at this, he rubs against you and purrs.

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22. Rue Rabbit- A Wild Tale Introduction

I have sat on this book for readers ages 6 to 10 for far too long. I am going to put on my blog a chapter every now and again. Please feel free to leave comments.

Rue Rabbit is an animal adventure fable set in ruburbian Michigan, actually at my house.

About four years or so ago, I saw a rabbit and a chipmunk running side by side in my yard. They kept together for the entire time I saw them, until they disappeared beneath a shrub. Thus was born Rue Rabbit.

I hope you enjoy it.


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23. Rue Rabbit- Chapter One: A Rough Beginning

copyright © 2010 by Jennifer D. Porter

Do not use other than for personal reading or publish without permission of the author.

ONE – A ROUGH BEGINNING

The little bunny stepped all over the mass of brown fur that was his three brothers and two sisters. His momma lay stretched out in their nest, her paws resting near her whiskers and her babies in a pile at her side. There was still enough light left in the day to see the gray-brown of Momma’s fur and the speckles of black that dotted her back.

But nobody woke up. He sighed.

The bunny rubbed his whiskers against Momma’s side then stuck his tiny pink nose into her plump, soft, white underside. He drew in her scent — a mixture of rabbit, wet grass, the earth and love.

 Above him, the wind rustled the patches of dried leaves and twigs that covered their nest. Momma’s nest was a shallow bowl she’d scratched out of the ground beneath an evergreen bush.  Then she had lined the form with dried grasses and her own soft, shed fur.

He pretended to have an itch in one ear and then the other, scratching and thumping on top of the bunny pile. One of his sisters groaned and one brother said, “Cut it out!”

But nobody woke up.

“Come on, everybody, let’s go outside and play,” he said.

The little bunny lay down across his brothers and sisters then rolled to the ground. “Wheee!” he shouted.

But his three brothers and two sisters were happy to simply stay there all evening sleeping and drinking their mother’s milk.

“Guys! Come on! Let’s play tag before it gets too dark.” He poked one of his brothers with his paw then hopped outside.

Momma lifted her head and smiled with her round brown eyes. “Go play with your brother, little ones.” She got up and the little bunnies fell to the ground, two of them upside down. They moaned and groaned and stuck each other with their elbows and knees, trying to get up onto their feet.

“Go on now.” She began washing her ears.

“Aw right,” one sister said. She yawned.

 “Okay,” said a brother.

The bunnies crawled through a hole in the nest covering then scurried out from beneath the bush.

“Boo!” said the little bunny and he laughed when his sister screamed.  

“Tag, you’re it,” she said as she touched the little bunny. Then she laughed at him while she raced across the backyard, and he chased after her.

“No fair!” he shouted happily.

The bunnies hopped and skipped across Mrs. Wilder’s backyard, dodging around the trees and skittering beneath the bushes. The spring rain had fallen gently earlier that day, washing the earth new and the little bunny loved the coolness of the mud when it squished between his toes. They were having such a good time that none of them noticed the coyote as it crept out of the woods. The woods that edged the back of Mrs. Wilder’s yard with beautiful old tall trees.

Until they heard their father. He shouted with such a sternness and hardness in his voice that they all instantly stopped and turned toward him. The little bunny was surprised to see him; he had not realized he was home.

“Bunnies!” he yelled. “Get home this instant.”

His brothers and sisters began t

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24. Irritable Cat Syndrome

My daughter got a camera for Christmas. My college student sons got new phones. My husband got an electric hammer. I got Irritable Cat Syndrome.

ICS can afflict anyone at anytime, as long as they have a cat. You are more prone to getting ICS if you have recently adopted a cat from an animal shelter.

Cats confined to small cages for long periods of time after having been abandonned by previously loving families are five thousand times more likely to inflict ICS upon their new owners. ICS is not readily apparent while the cat is still in the animal prison, laying in his cat litter because his cage is too small.

At this phase, pre-ICS, the cat is extremely loving and snuggly and on its best behavior in his attempts to force you to fall in love with him and go into utter panic, when the last chance adoption sign is put on his cage. In pre-ICS, the cat will gently touch you with his paw as you walk by his cell block. If you remove him from the cell block to pet his soft orange fur, he will purr and rub his cheek against your cheek. He will not try to get away because he wants to get away with you at this point, rather than away from you.

After you pay the adoption fees, he will remain grateful for a period of time. He will bounce five feet in the air from a sitting position and catch all flying pests. He will kill these pests and lay them at your feet. Then he will rub against your legs and purr.

When you leave the house, he will run to the window and watch you leave, wondering if you are coming back. When you come back he will run to you and meow loudly that he is glad you came back. That being left alone before was traumatizing and he doesn’t want it to happen again. He will not jump on your counters or furniture because only bad cats do that and he is not bad, so please don’t take him back to animal prison.

Then ICS begins to set in. He realizes, the cute little kitty, after gaining five pounds from being fed properly, that you are more in love with him now than he is with you. He can begin to test your love. He hops on your dressers and steals jewelry and hides it under your bed. He hops on the counter and knocks food stuffs off and the dogs eat the stuff and when they get into trouble, he waits for them to be taken to the animal shelter.

When they are not, he must concoct other ways to irritate you. ICS is full blown now.

And, joy of joys, you set up the Christmas tree. He can climb inside the Christmas tree and try to knock it over. He can whack the ornaments off the tree and watch the dogs get into trouble again. He can pull all the bows and tags off the gifts under the tree and cause mad confusion on Christmas morning. He can rub against the gifts and leave clumps of orange fur and make everyone sneeze.

During ICS, you will wonder why the hell you brought him home from the animal shelter. When you lock him in your bedroom with you at night because the Christmas tree cannot be destroyed, even bringing all of his necessities into the room with you, he will torment you at regular two-hour intervals, pawing at your face, nipping at your nose, scratching at the door, leaping at the door knob to open the door. See, he had figured out how to open long handled doors. But, the bedroom door knob is round. He can’t open that. So, he stalks you.

And this is Irritable Cat Syndrome. It is worse than Irritable New Baby Syndrome. It makes you take down the Christmas tree two days after Christmas and say to him, “Hah! You can’t ever make me take you back to the animal shelter, you Devil Cat. You’re stuck with me til the day I die!”

And at this, he rubs against you and purrs.


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25. T.C. Boyle’s The Women

The Women is the story about the women, geez how tacky, that Frank Lloyd Wright, brilliant architect, had in his life. It is an interesting story, if you can stand how it is constructed and if you can get past the numerous deragatory references and images of Native Americans that Boyle justifies on his site (after I asked him) as coming from the thoughts and viewpoints of his characters, chiefly a Japanese man. I mean, how is it that a Japanese man, born and raised and only visiting here to learn from Wright, has American Indians on his mind so much that he uses them for violent and aggressive metaphors and similes? Hmmmmmmm!

Anyway, the book tells the story of Frank’s loves backwards. I think this is because the most riveting aspect of Frank’s life and loves is the period when his mistress/wife Mamah was murdered, along with her children and several of Frank’s draftspeople and Taliesin was burned down by the murderer. And yes, American Indians are used as similes to describe this heinous act.

By not telling us about this trauma, we miss something when reading about Frank’s later decisions and involvements with other women.  For me, what would have been riveting would have been in understanding how Frank had survived this very real and horrific tragedy in his life by seeing how his life had unfolded after the loss.

But most annoying of all, is telling us that the narrator, the Japanese man, is collaborating with another man, an Irish-American to narrate this story and then writing all of the scenes from one of the other character’s viewpoints. I never could get into this until I worked hard to forget the Japanese guy was speaking at all, and just let the scene be told by the character of the moment (which is what happens anyway). I’m thinking about the loss to the story with this technique as I compare it to The Great Gatsby and Nick telling us the story, but Fitzgerald staying with Nick’s viewpoint.

Please, all you authors out there, do not latch onto this new technique!!! Some of these fads should be allowed to disappear forever.

The footnotes are annoying also until you simply realize that the author couldn’t figure out how to retain the suuposedly chosen narrator’s voice without them, since the story is really told by the character of the moment, whether it be Frank, Miriam, Olgivanna etc.  and hardly ever the supposed narrator. The Japanese guy that hates American Indians.

Here is my list of words that I had to look up in a dictionary because Boyle is fond of adverbs and adjectives and flowery writing and cannot use common vocabulary like Kingsolver manages to:

  • filmic
  • impecuniosity
  • melliflous
  • maculate
  • orotund
  • dehiscence
  • deracination
  • umbrage
  • animadversions
  • incarnadine
  • pugilistic
  • fulmination
  • ordure
  • rubicund
  • ichor
  • prestidigitation
  • opprobrium
  • fumarole
  • pellucid
  • tintinnabulation
  • adumbration
  • oleaginous
  • luteous
  • crepitus
  • ausculated
  • dischronic
  • oneiric
  • Lucullan
  • dubiety
  • charnel
  • abstersion
  • emendations
  • canescent

Here is the image I found most offensive. Catherine just had a fight with Frank. She lives in one of the first houses he designed in Chicago and it is the 1930′s. Frank has fallen for his client, Mamah and wants a divorce from Kitty, the mother of Frank’s children. Frank is a skank if you are wondering, like Tiger Woods.

Catherine is doing the narrating here (even though it’s supposed to be the Japanese draftsman):

“The night came down and lay across the roof like a presence out of the forest primeval that had once stood here, on this lot, while Indians beat their squaws and stripped the flesh from their enemies with knives of stone.”

Sure, this

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