2022 Top Reads

Not necessarily released in 2022, but, of the books I read or listened to during the year, these are the ones I particularly enjoyed.

Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie, A Tale of Love and Fallout
Lauren Redniss
WOW! Amazing story and presentation. Science history and biography of Marie Curie. Well told and love love LOVE her use of words and images and color.

Draw Your Weapons
Sarah Sentilles
Interwoven strands of memoir, history, literature, theology – examining the personal and political, responses to violence, and how art might re/make the world.

Rise: A Pop History of Asian America from the Nineties to Now
Jeff Yang, Phil Yu, Philip Wang
Essays, interviews, graphic essays from a wide variety of contributors, organized by decade. Great tour – in some cases reminders of things, in others an introduction/jumping off point to things I missed the first time around.

A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking
T. Kingfisher
Being able to make bread rise and gingerbread men dance is seen as “minor” magic, but it’s still enough to get 14-year old Mona targeted for extermination along with the other wizards and magic folk in her city. An adventure story that also explores topics of prejudice and scapegoating, believing in yourself and making the best of your abilities, but not in a preachy way. And don’t mess with the sourdough starter!

this is not a book about benedict cumberbatch
tabitha carvan
It is, as the subtitle sums up: The Joy of Loving Something–Anything–Like Your Life Depends On It. Both an exploration of a specific fandom, and allowing oneself (particularly as a woman of a certain age) to feel passionate about something.

Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman
Lindy West
Listened to this as an audiobook, read by the author, which was great! Memoir of her experiences with misogyny – particularly in comedy – and fat shaming. Very real, and raw, no BS.

Erosion: Essays of Undoing
Terry Tempest Williams
Another one I listened to that was read by the author! Great writing, and very passionate about her subjects – it’s collection of essays about various undoings/changes – the death of their dog, her brother’s suicide, climate change, loss of public lands – which sounds pretty depressing, and, yes, it’s not light subject matter, but the essays are about bearing witness, and being with the terrible things that happen in the world, and how that is also somehow hopeful.

Let Me Be Frank: A Book About Women Who Dressed Like Men to Do Shit They Weren’t Supposed to Do
Tracy Dawson
The subtitle pretty much sums it up here too. Some of the women profiled I had heard of, but many were new to me. Yay to learn new things, but also how am I only hearing these stories now?!

Activities of Daily Living
Lisa Hsiao Chen
Interwoven stories about creativity/working on projects, the life of the narrator, the life of Tehching Hsieh and his 1980s performance art pieces, being an immigrant, the passage of time, the narrator’s (step)father’s aging/dementia, and death. A lot of perhaps totally unrelated seeming subjects, but somehow it all fits together – I suppose something like life…

On Tyranny Graphic Edition: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century
Timothy Snyder, illustrated by Nora Krug
A guide for resisting the authoritarian trends in the USA in the Twenty-First Century, based on the rise of fascism, Nazism and communism in the Twentieth Century.

Jane Against the World: Roe v. Wade and the Fight for Reproductive Rights
Karen Blumenthal
History of birth control and abortion, and then the Roe v. Wade case itself, as well as post Roe decisions. Lots of information I did not know. Very clear/well-written, interesting sidebars, glossary, timeline (geez, wasn’t that long ago..), list of Supreme Court cases on Abortion and Reproductive Rights. Also extensive Bibliography and notes. Unfortunately we’re now into the post Roe world.

Secret to Superhuman Strength
Alison Bechdel
Another fantastic graphic memoir from Alison Bechdel, this one about her lifelong fascination with exercise. It explores not just the fitness fads that have ebbed and flowed over the past sixty years, but other approaches to and struggles with self-improvement.

The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven
Sherman Alexie
Short stories about reservation life/being an American Indian. Somewhat interlocked, as far as having a recurring characters and locations. A new prologue for the 20th anniversary edition, plus family pictures at the back. Really engaging writing, and the stories – the importance of stories… what we tell ourselves and how we do it.

Disclosure: I am an affiliate of Bookshop.org and will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

Wonder Woman Electric to the Rescue: Memoir, Essays and Short Stories by a Trailblazing Tradeswoman
Molly Martin
Again, what the subtitle says! Her personal experiences of working in the trades, being a feminist and labor activist, coming out/being lesbian. In some ways not that long ago, and in some ways very different, but/and/also in some ways things haven’t really changed.

Advertisement
Posted in books | Tagged , | Leave a comment

FINDING HER BEAT

The documentary film portion of the HERbeat project has finally come to fruition, with the world premeire at the Mill Valley Film Festival!!! In-person screenings on Sunday, October 9 – followed by a taiko performance in Depot Plaza – and Tuesday, October 11, also an online option. The film will also be shown at a number of other festivals – 13 and growing! My sister and I went to see the concert in person, over two years ago now, so I am really looking forward to seeing the film – learning more about the behind the scenes that went in to the amazing production, and revisiting the concert.

Posted in taiko | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Banned Books Week 2022

Banned Books Week has been held the last full week of September – so it was actually September 18-24 this year, I’m a little late. It was begun in 1982 to bring attention to attempts to challenge and ban books, a disturbing trend in a s0-called democracy.

According to the American Library Association (ALA), Santa Rosa author (and Iota Press printshop alum!!!) Maia Kobabe’s Gender Queer: A Memoir, continues to top the Most Challenged list. The graphic novel tells a personal journey of self-identity, exploring what it means to be nonbinary and asexual. A special deluxe hardcover edition of Gender Queer features a brand-new cover, exclusive art and sketches, a foreword from ND Stevenson, Lumberjanes writer and creator of She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, and an afterword from Maia Kobabe.

To observe – somehow celebrate doesn’t quite seem like the right word here – this year I read Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, the story of a dystopian future USA as a totalitarian regime with rigid social rules, including the enslavement of the few remaining fertile women. Although I’d seen the movie when it came out in 1990 (!) I’d never read the book. It seemed sadly relevant for the current times, given the rise of proponents of theocracy and curtailment of women’s reproductive rights.

I also finally read The Complete Maus: A Survivor’s Tale by Art Spiegelman. It is a powerful graphic novel that relates both the author’s father’s story of surviving the Holocaust, as well as the author’s difficult relationship with his father, exploring both survival and the legacy of trauma.

So yes, not easy subjects, any of them, but not talking about them doesn’t make them go away. Even if you don’t fully subscribe to Isaac Asimov’s “Any book worth banning is a book worth reading,” it’s worth a few minutes to look at the challenged books lists to see what is being challenged and why. And then there’s Ray Bradbury’s observation, “You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.” When was the last time you read a book?

Disclosure: I am an affiliate of Bookshop.org and will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
Posted in books | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Happy Birthday to US(A)

The Fourth of July. The so-called birthday of the United States of America. That is, the day the Continental Congress formally adopted the Declaration of Independence. As such, it’s a federal holiday, and generally seen as a day of celebration.

This year, I’ve been seeing remarks that people do not feel like celebrating. Or that America does not deserve a party this year, but rather a time out in the corner or some such.

 

Hold up there, sport. WE ARE AMERICA.

Yes, I agree these are dark days for democracy in the United States. I still can’t quite get my head around the fact that there was AN ATTEMPTED COUP in this country, a supposedly stable, established liberal democracy. By a person who was, in my opinion, unqualified to be president in the first place, both professionally and in terms of personal character, and who lost the popular vote for the term he did hold. While on the one hand it is commendable that people are testifying under oath to the January 6th Select Committee, despite, in some cases, being threatened, why did no one speak out previously?

The Supreme Court has also seriously gone off the rails, overturning Roe v. Wade, and intimating they would also like to revisit other privacy rights based decisions, such as contraception and gay marriage. On the heels of that, they are dismantling the federal government’s ability to address climate change, and even the federal government as we know it, with their decision in West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency.

The Republicans in the Senate are pretty much “we’re taking our toys and going home” – threatening anything they don’t like with the filibuster. And I’m not sure where the Democrats are either. It seems like most politicians are more interested in power and personal gain than doing what is best for the country. Best government money can buy…

At the same time, there has been an African American President in my lifetime. The Vice-President is currently a woman, who is also the first Asian American and African American to hold that position. There are now four women on the Supreme Court, one of whom is the first African American to be appointed.

Long time coming and still not exactly equal, but progress.

THIS IS ALSO AMERICA.

So far we can still vote, and, in most places, it means something. We can still protest. We can have dogs. Most of us have a roof over our head, clothes on our backs and food on our tables. We have electricity, hot and cold running water (that in most places you can drink out of the tap, even if you chose not to), wastewater collection and treatment, garbage collection service (if you live in town), transportation infrastructure. Sure there are issues with many of those things, but these things are not nothing.

THIS IS ALSO AMERICA.

But maybe that’s part of the problem – that things are good enough for many of us. Indeed, personally I’m in a bit of a bubble – doing OK financially, white enough, in a blue region in a blue state, for the most part surrounded by folks I agree with. In retrospect it was easy to become complacent.

Not that I was completely tuned out, but maybe more that, for example in the case of Roe v. Wade, it seemed like a settled thing, since it made sense, and I believed that’s how it should be. But not everyone shared those beliefs, and those who didn’t cared enough to spend the time and energy to chip chip chip away for their end game and so here we are.

THIS IS ALSO AMERICA.

That things are never really settled. It is always in progress. It will never be perfect. So it is up to us, each of us, to work for that more perfect.

Democracy is not a spectator sport.

So it’s not just today, to wave the flag and celebrate some static Hallmark USA (TM). It’s every day. Pay attention. To what’s happening in your neighborhood, your town or city, your county, your state. Talk to your neighbors. Talk to people who don’t look like you. Volunteer. Find out who your council person is, who your representative is. What district you are in, how the lines are drawn for your district and the neighboring ones. VOTE! If the entire ballot seems too overwhelming, chose the things that seem most important to you and inform yourself and vote on those. Read history.

THIS IS ALSO AMERICA.

And sure it’s a mess right now, but if your best friend had gotten mugged and severely beaten, would you say they didn’t deserve a birthday party?

Don’t give up hope. We the People is US. All of us.

Posted in history, USA | Leave a comment

Eat Your Veggies!

Boo for me the Shone Farm stopped doing their VBoA (Veggie Box o’ Awesome … AKA CSA) (which, as I’m writing that, I’m realizing that I started with the Shone Farm CSA when First Light Farm consolidated the delivery area for their CSA, and I’d been with First Light after Bloomfield Farms had lost their lease I think it was… am I the kiss of death for Sonoma County CSAs?) Hmn… maybe I shouldn’t tell you about the F.E.E.D (Farmers Exchange of Earthly Delights) Cooperative and the fantastic FEED bins I’ve gotten from them – an example of which is shown in the photo above. I’ve only gotten veggies, but they have various add-ons, like pasture raised meat and eggs, and locally made products like ferments. You can also donate bins! There are numerous pickup locations and options for home delivery.

The Shone Farm is still growing produce, with curbside pickup events, although it has not fit in my schedule to make one of those. There are a few more this year.

I also found Four Oak Farm, which had an online store allowing you to order and pick up specific items (rather than the “whatever’s in the box” of a CSA), which was great to be able to do as a customer, but difficult for them as a producer. For 2022 they are trying a pre-order system.

Posted in food | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hike 38 – Crane Creek Regional Park

So this wasn’t particularly on my List of Capital H Hikes, but location wise it fit in my day, and at this point in the year I’m not going to be too choosy. Well and I did get a Sonoma County Parks pass this year, so there’s the using that and seeing more of those parks thing. Which! Apparently you can borrow a pass from the library!!! How cool is that?!

Anyway, I’ve ridden or driven by a few times, but the one time I’ve been in the park was with an art class I was taking at the JC, which was a long time ago. The park is just east of Sonoma State University, but in my time going to SSU I never went there. Anyway, I think one of the reasons the art class went was for the oaks, or at least that’s my recollection. Which, are quite splendid! And this year FULL of acorns.

The other things I noticed on this visit were lots of ground squirrels (oh, correlation with acorns?), the disc golf course, several memorial benches to people who died sadly young – not even twenty, and evidence of cows but no cows. There was also a bit of a view west and north over the Santa Rosa plain. I didn’t quite figure out a route that covered all the trails, but got pretty close!

As I was getting back to the parking lot I was not quite to 3 miles, which is sorta my minimum distance, and I briefly debated about making a lap of the lot, but fortunately the distance ticked over as I was getting to the vehicle. Whew. It was definitely dry, but the pictures look really drought-y. It would be nice to see in the spring with green hillsides and wildflowers…

all the pictures

10/4/2021, 3.0 miles

Posted in five 0, hiking | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Hike 25 – South Salmon Creek Beach

I was having a hankering for the ocean, and Eric agreed. It’s really not THAT far away, but somehow I don’t get there too often. Well and it can get busy out at the coast on weekends, and you know how I am about People.

But, we got an early-ish start, so the parking lot at South Salmon Creek Beach was pretty quiet, as was the beach itself. Perhaps the fog had something to do with that as well.

It was lovely to see and hear the ocean, and we went all the way to the end of the beach, at the north side of Bodega Head. There were some vibrant red-orange starfish amongst the mussels cloaking the rocks. Also some scenic driftwood, and other interesting beach sights. A fine morning!

7/18/2021, 4.3 miles

Posted in five 0, hiking | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Hike 14 – Laguna de Santa Rosa

This was a squeeze in on the way to other things, which is nice to be able to do. Not everything has to be a big Destination Hike with a Capital H!

Turns out, the Laguna de Santa Rosa is Sonoma County’s largest freshwater wetland. When it rains, the trails – along with much of the plain, depending on the amount of rain – can flood, but that hasn’t been too much of an issue this year, although surprisingly there was one muddy spot. There are parking lots off of Highway 12 and Occidental Road, and the main trail runs between them. There are also a couple of options to loop, so it wasn’t a straight out and back (not that there’s anything wrong with that.)

There are a few bits of trail, but most is wider fire road. Some lovely oaks, a little pond, views of Mount St. Helena and some balloon traffic – quite a lovely morning!

all the pictures

3/27/21, 3.8 miles

Posted in five 0, hiking | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Hike 29 – Santa Rosa Sculpture Saunter

Similar to the Mural Meander, but this was in three dimensions. Well, three dimensional art work, that is. Sculpture! Which I knew of some – like the murals, from having seen them when riding or driving by – but this was a chance to get an up-closer look and walk around them. Others I found out about from the City’s Art Walk map, and then a few I just happened upon in people’s yards or at businesses. Then in Julliard Park there also happened to be a car show! Surprise! Which, these machines were also sculptures/works of art in their own way. And, without planning, it turned out to be the same distance as the Mural Meander!

all the pictures

9/5/21, 5.0 miles

Posted in art, five 0, hiking | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Hike 27: Santa Rosa Mural Meander

I’ve definitely gotten in the rut(?) of not wanting to drive … corrupted by the bike and train … and Eric was in town for a quick visit, driving down on Friday and back on Sunday, so I figured he didn’t want to get in the car either. Then the AQI was slightly in the yellow, which I know isn’t horrible (although DOH, somehow I didn’t account for getting smoked out while trying to get this done – yeah probably should have done more earlier in the year, but as Uncle Tony says, “you can’t put s**t back in a donkey”) but I wasn’t feeling like doing anything super long or with a high level of exertion.

Eric suggested walking to a coffee shop (ABC!) but then I decided we needed a theme or something, so I made it a mural meander. Many of them I had seen before, but in passing on my bike or in the car, so it was nice to be on foot and spend more time looking. And at one spot, we found that the back side of the building also had a mural that I had not known was there and had never seen before!

The first ones were on Santa Rosa avenue, and some had sadly been graffitied on. We then wandered through the SOFA district, and over to our bakery stop – Tia Maria Panaderia! Where somehow (busy eating?) I did not get any pictures of our concha breakfast sandwiches, Abuelita mochas and mixed berry (blackberry, blueberry, red (er, rasp) berry) tart! So tasty!!!

On the way back I noticed one of the ones under Highway 12 is apparently from 1981! Forty years!!! Then some of the others have gone up within the past year. Wonder what the next forty years will bring…

all the pictures

8/21/21, 5.0 miles

Posted in five 0, hiking | Tagged , , | 1 Comment