Friday, January 31, 2014

Homeless Kids in Missouri and How You Can Help recently reported on new information from the Department of Education re: homelessness in the United States, especially as it impacts school age children. 1.1 million students, grades K-12, were homeless during the 2011-2012 school year, and the actual number may be even greater than this, "because irregular class attendance and changing addresses mean homeless kids are difficult to track." Causes for the high numbers are linked to an overall increase in poverty nationwide, and a shortage of affordable rental properties.

The top ten worst states for homeless students are, from #10 to #1: Oklahoma, Missouri, Idaho, Vermont, South Dakota, Wyoming, Michigan, North Carolina, Maine, and North Dakota. In our own state, the "average age of a homeless person is seven" and the number of homeless children is increasing by more than 20% annually.

While there's no simple solution for this, there are ways you can help:

Related posts:
Shaming the Poor - What Does It Cost Us?
We Need a New System of Economics
Women Bear the Brunt of Hunger
Poverty and Hunger (Blog Action Day)

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Complexity, Culture & Consciousness - Live Webcast Tomorrow

I'm interested to listen in tomorrow to "Complexity, Culture & Consciousness," a panel discussion presented by, which will feature my friend Michael Garfield along with other experts in their fields. According to the event's Facebook page, it will be a discussion of how complexity theory, cultural studies and the evolution of human consciousness intersect in our current reality.

"What we're talking about here is not simply entertainment, media, like games and books, movies and stuff, but the way that those narratives carry a subtext, a worldview, in which certain things are condoned and certain things are rejected." - Michael Garfield, from his self-published talk "Entertainment as Social Action."

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you'll know that these are ideas which fascinate me. I pay far more attention to subtext in the media than most people I know, and I'm always intrigued by what I find. I can't wait to hear what the panel of experts they've put together has to say about our society. Tune in to the broadcast by following this link. It will be airing live tomorrow (Sunday 1/26) from 8-10 PM Eastern time, 9-11 PM Central.

Related posts:
An Experiment in Art and Awareness by Michael Garfield
Michael Garfield: Glass Chrysanthemum
Michael Garfield: Writer, Painter, Songbird

Thursday, January 16, 2014

2 Novels About Irishmen

I've been trying to work my way through the shelves of books that I've bought or been given and not yet read. Two historical novels I recently re-shelved to my "read" section are both about Irishmen and their tragic lives, Hungry Hill and Mortal Friends.

Hungry Hill by Daphne du Maurier
Published in 1943, Hungry Hill covers 5 generations of land-owners in Ireland, spanning from 1820 to 1920. The Broderick family owns the estate named Clonmere where Hungry Hill stands, a treasure trove of copper buried beneath it. "Copper John" Broderick initiates mining operations, much to the chagrin of the Donovan family, who's forefathers were chiefs of the land before the Broderick's were establish there by the crown. The feud plays out in different, though always unpleasant, ways over the years, so that the mining operations and the lives of the Brodericks are consistently attacked or undermined. It's a beautifully told story with bright patches of joy contrasting with the bad turns of luck.

Mortal Friends by James Carroll
Mortal Friends (published in 1978 but set in the 1920s) is, on the other hand, nothing but tragedy from the beginning to the end. The novel begins on young farmer Colman Brady's wedding day in a town called Four Mile Water. Just after the wedding, the Major Purcival rolls into town with 20 members of the Black and Tan and orders the people to evacuate their homes and farms within 3 days, as their land is to be designated a military zone. So begins the journey of 22 year-old Colman Brady from soft-spoken farmer to Irish Nationalist, to American immigrant, to Irish mob member and political hopeful. Colman's story is steeped in sorrow and death, but it was told in such a fascinating way that I couldn't put it down. Carroll's turns of phrase were beautiful, and often I'd stop to re-read sections just because of how lovely the language sounded.

These were both fantastic, though melancholy, reads and I highly recommend them!

Related posts:
2 Fantasy-Filled Comic Books
2 Novel Approaches to Fairy Tales
Shadows Over Baker Street

Monday, January 6, 2014

What a Difference a Year Makes

I've been doing a lot of thinking, as is common around this time of year, about all the changes that have happened in 2013, and how differently I feel in January of 2014 than I felt in Jan of last year.

Back then, I was still drowning in the grief of my uncle's suicide, and incredibly anxious about Henry's feeding issues and "failure to thrive" growth problems. I was still feeling uneasy in the "mom" role, second guessing myself and often wishing I could have a day off from Henry more often than I like to admit.

Now, I've forgiven my uncle, have a diagnosis and clear sense of direction for Henry's condition, and I feel perfectly at ease spending every day with my little Henry - thanks to increased patience and a decision to focus on the positive. Don't get me wrong, being a mom is still the most challenging job of my adult life, but it's a challenge I find myself embracing more and more each day.

Henry has been such an incredible teacher for me. When I forgot how to smile and laugh, he showed me. When I felt that I wasn't doing anything BIG and IMPORTANT with my life, he showed me that it's the little things that carry the most significance in life. When I feel overwhelmed by frustration, he shows me that I have more patience than I ever suspected, just waiting to be put to use.

Sharing my life with Henry and Matt is such a blessing. I can't wait to see what this year brings!

Related posts:
Little Henry's Big Adventures
Henry Is a Little Person
Henry's Circus Party
365 Days with Henry: My Favorites So Far