Saturday, June 30, 2018

Bill Drake's Book

This is the first time I’ve blogged about a book that isn’t for kids, but this one got me so excited I couldn’t resist sharing about it.

Almost Hereditary: A White Southerner’s Journey Out of Racism  by Bill Drake is amazing!

Last week I jokingly posted something about being an anti-bigot bigot, but reading this book made me realize my attitude toward racial and religious bigots is really not very different from their attitudes.

The book is part biography, part history, and part information to help readers recognize and overcome their own prejudices. It’s well written and even some of the appendices are interesting to read.

With everything going on in the news lately, I wish everyone would read this book.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Playing Dress-up

When I was a kid I loved playing dress up. 
I had some old Halloween costumes and a few skirts and blouses that had belonged to my mother, and a cowboy hat and cap gun. I think I also had a big piece of fabric I used as a cape. 
All the kids in the neighborhood would put on our dress-up costumes and pretend to be various characters.
Of course the boys always wanted to be cowboys or super heroes while the girls often pretended to be princesses.
In about a month I’ll get to play dress-up again. I’ll be volunteering at the local Renaissance Fair for kids in Nevada City and I’m figuring out what to wear. I don’t have an authentic costume from that time period, but I do have a long dress with full sleeves, so I’ll probably wear that.
It will be fun to act like a kid again!

Saturday, June 23, 2018


My old dictionary says a bigot is a person with strong opinions. Today that word means someone who is extremely prejudiced against a group of other people.
In ancient history prejudice was necessary for survival. Perhaps if an early human ate a poisonous fungus and died, others in the tribe would avoid eating any kind of fungus. They might miss out on the healthy mushrooms, but avoid being poisoned.
For centuries if people saw others who looked different from their own group it was likely those people were coming to invade and try to take over their territory, so it was logical to be prejudiced against them.
In the ancient past prejudice was a survival technique, but times have changed.
Prejudice means believing all members of a group are the same, and it’s possible to be prejudiced in favor of people, such as a favorite sports team.
Bigotry is a strong, negative prejudice against a group of humans.
Unfortunately, I’m prejudiced against people who are bigots, so I guess that makes me an anti-bigot bigot. 

Does that mean I’m prejudiced against myself?

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Childhood Books and Toys

When I was a little kid my parents read to me every night before bed. I had books like The Pokey Little Puppy, Cheeky Chipmunk and many others.
I also loved to play with my dolls.
When I got too old for those things they were stored in the thin, wooden toy box and put in the basement. Since our home was on a steep hill, most of the basement wasn’t paved.
Decades later when I had graduated from college and got my first apartment I took the toy box there.
When I opened it, I was horrified!
It smelled terrible and everything in it was covered with mold and mildew. 
Some of my dolls, which had been made before plastic was available, had heads made of composite material that had rotted away, and their clothes were rotten, too.
Most of the books were falling apart, the pages were brown and brittle, and they smelled horrible.
Fortunately, I was able to salvage a few toys from later in my childhood that were made of plastic, and some of my books. 
I still have those today.

Do you have any toys or books from your childhood?

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Fathers Then and Now

Back when I was a kid, in the 1940s and 50s, most kids had stay-at-home moms. Even if their fathers had been killed in WWII their mothers had remarried if they possibly could.
It was difficult for women to find jobs back then. They might be school teachers, clerks, do laundry or housecleaning, or be in the entertainment industry, but there weren’t many other options and women got paid less than men for the same jobs.
Everyone ’knew’ “a woman’s place is in the home,” and it was the fathers’ responsibility to provide for their families.
In some families it was also the father’s responsibility to spank their kids when they had misbehaved.
Back then nearly all men smoked cigarettes, cigars, pipes, or any combination of those (women just smoked cigarettes) so in grade school kids made ash trays for Fathers’ Day gifts.  Since my father had died of polio, I gave those ashtrays to my grandfather, who didn’t smoke and didn’t like the gifts.
Today it’s unusual for kids to have both birth parents living with them. 
Couples get divorced, sometimes just because they feel like it. Marriage vows aren’t taken seriously. (Of course some divorces are for valid reasons, such as abuse.)
Lots of kids have stepfathers and/or get shuffled back and forth between both birth parents.
Quite a few kids today have never even met their birth fathers. And many fathers rarely or never get to see their own children.

Fathers’ Day just ain’t what it used to be.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Blogging About Blogging

When I started blogging in 2009 I doubted that I’d be able to think of enough to write about to continue for a few months, but I’d been told blogging was necessary to sell books and my first one was under contract. 
Well, it has been about ten years and I’m still at it.
Unfortunately I don’t get many comments on my blog itself. (actually I have both Word Press and Blogger blogs, but I post the same material on both of them.) I share all my posts on Facebook and that’s where I get the most comments.
When blogging first started the term, blog, was a shortened form of web log. I wonder who thought of that term?

Even though my blogging probably hasn’t worked very well as a marketing tool, I intend to keep doing it. And I’d love to get some comments from people who read it.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Learning to Read

The beginning of Summer vacation from schools in the US may seem like a strange time to talk about learning to read. It’s not.
Back when I was a kid reading instruction didn’t begin until first grade and parents were warned not to try to teach their kids at home. They were told they would probably not do it correctly so their kids would have to “unlearn” what the parents had taught before learning correctly. 
In some California schools books for beginning readers were about Dick and Jane while others were about Bill and Susan. All were boring.
Over the years the state curriculum methods for teaching kids to read changed quite a few times. That probably also happened in other states. And now beginning reading skills are often taught in preschools.
A few decades ago I read a library book (sorry I don’t remember the title or author) about a study that sought to discover what method of teaching reading was most effective.
The authors interviewed the highest functioning students in some of the best universities in the United States about how they had learned to read. 
To the surprise of those conducting the study, the only thing those students had in common was that their parents had read to them every day when they were little kids. 

So if you have kids or nearby grandkids please read to them every day from when they’re learning to talk until they are able to read fluently on their own. And, even then if the kids are willing, reading together can help strengthen family ties.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Language Changes

It always bothers me when people say “a couple” something instead of “a couple of.” In the past everyone said “a couple of.”
The same people would probably still say “a pair of.”
But people always say “A dozen” something instead of “a dozen of.” I can’t remember ever hearing “a dozen of eggs.”
The only languages that don’t change are dead languages, no longer spoken by anybody.
I’m glad English is a living language, and we have to get used to changes even though they may seem annoying.

Just imagine what William Shakespeare would think of the way we talk today.

Saturday, June 2, 2018


I understand at the last election a lot of people didn’t bother to vote.
In my opinion, that’s just, plain wrong. Being able to vote for our laws and officials is a privilege people in many countries don’t have.
Before the USA was founded most people had no say about who ran their countries or the laws the rulers enacted. But we do have that privilege, thanks to many people who fought and died for it.
Sometimes it seems we’re choosing the lesser of two evils, but even then, at least we have the right to make that choice.
Please, please, please do vote even if you disagree with me. 

As my bumper sticker says, “If you don’t vote, don’t whine.”