Summer Solstice is just about upon us! Longest day of the year and of course, kicking off the offical start of summer. After a VERY weird spring, with temperatures varying wildly from highs as much 102 degrees down to as low as 58 degrees in the past two months, from super dry to super wet, causing our garden to be VERY confuddled. Several plants have been lost (hollyhocks primarily, which were reaching 6-7′ in height along the fence) to rust), and others are struggling to stay strong (red Mexican sunflowers), while others are far, far ahead of schedule (picked our first zucchini last week, several yellow Russian sunflowers have begun to bloom at over 7′ in height). It’s a trip. But hey, we haven’t been subject to the late snows seen in Colorado or the floods in Texas, so we’re not complaining.
Here are some cool and interesting things I’m diggin’ from the past week:
- The inventor of the AR-15 assault rifle “never used his invention for sport. He also never kept it around the house for personal defense. In fact, he never even owned one.” Eugene Stoner did not intend this gun for civilians, his kids told NBC, and would be horrified at the mass murders – including the tragedy in Orlando this past week – perpetrated by users of this. Assault rifles MUST be banned. They are not needed for self protection or hunting – they are murder weapons, plain and simple. Click HERE to sign the petition to go to Congress to support a ban on these.
- Quite possibly one of the coolest articles on hummingbirds and how they get the nectar. And make sure to check out the video in the article showing them in slow motion – so rad. My mom reminded me that they are also fantastic “guard birds” around blueberries and other small fruits, as they are very territorial and if you put feeders or hummingbird-friendly feeders near the berries, they won’t let other birds near them. Needless to say, this led my husband and I to check out the Backyard Bird Shop on Fremont and bring home a couple of feeder tubes to attach to some glass bottles so we can DIY a couple of feeders. Noice!
- Getting to the nitty gritty – literally – here’s a good overview of the best way to clean your stinky garbage cans. Having never, I mean never, done it in 10 years, this was much needed. Tip: add some eucalyptus oil to the mix, and use non-chlorine bleach and it smells even better while being more eco-friendly!
- “In this city, as in many, diversity functions as a boutique offering for the children of the privileged but does little to ensure quality education for poor black and Latino children“. l was immediately drawn in by the (cover) article in this Sunday’s New York Times Magazine written by my former neighbor across the street from our house, Nikole Hannah-Jones, about choosing a school for her daughter in a largely segregated city. They moved from Portland to NYC (that’s her daughter Najya in the photo…amazing to see how she’s grown since I saw her at her 1st birthday party before they left!). Her discussion of the successful results of intentional integration in the school system, how that’s faded in our country, and the choices some get (and some don’t get) to make when sending their kids to school is both insightful and telling about the failings of a majority our school systems here in the US. And watching many I have encountered since my return to Portland, particularly as a recruiter (as so many folks move here for work), I couldn’t agree more with her statement on the study that shows that “While suburban parents, who are mostly white, say they are selecting schools based on test scores, the racial makeup of a school actually plays a larger role in their school decisions.” I saw it in our next-door neighbors who bought their house around the same time as us when our neighborhood was still affordable, now with a daughter approaching school age, when the husband stated to me, “Oh we’d never send our daughter to Woodlawn” (the neighborhood elementary school down the street where my husband and I both volunteer which is 84% minority). Sadly, Woodlwan has had to fight for the bare minimum in staffing and programs (even our SMART reading program run by volunteers battling to find a space to operate this past school year), while teachers are forced to focus on getting kids to pass testing rather than simply teach. My husband and I have talked about schooling ourselves. We want our child to have the opportunity to be educated in a diverse environment, but we also are hugely against the assessment system that is now part of most schools. We want our child to go to the school in our neighborhood, but see the negative effects of the culture of public school where the focus is on getting all kids to behave and learn in the same manner. I saw it going to public school myself where rather than allowing me to learn at my advanced pace (I was forced to skip a grade and be pushed into junior high a year earlier than my peers, with the assumption that academic and emotional maturity were equivalent), and I saw it as a volunteer locally, where kids whose behavior did not conform were denied learning opportunities, rather than worked with creatively and compassionately. And as hopeful parents with a good income where I have more flexibility than the average worker bee, we have considered home/un-schooling options (my husband and I are strongly against private schools where kids can only get in through tuition or scholarships, as it takes away true equity and diversity in learning). I got it when Hannah-Jones said, “I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel pulled in the way other parents with options feel pulled.” Who knows what it will look like for us. Hell, we’re still hoping to even GET pregnant and see our adoption referral come in! We’ll cross that bridge when we near it. As her closing statement stated, “True integration, true equality, requires a surrendering of advantage, and when it comes to our own children, that can feel almost unnatural.”
- Portugal is rockin’ the renewable energy. No, seriously. Read more HERE.
- Finally, I gotta say I am MADLY in love with Madonna’s latest performance on Fallon (the same night the President was on it doing the Slow Jam News, btw…worth checking out on YouTube)…Borderline has never sounded so awesome. And I love those pants!