Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Strewsday Tuesday: Even the Library Can Strew!

     I am SOOOO excited!  Tonight there is a lecture at our library.  I am so excited to go, I even dreamed about it.....luckily it was only a dream...because as we were getting ready to leave for the lecture in the dream.....I realized that the lecture was in my hometown, not in Los Angeles where we were visiting.  Silly, weird dream.

(Actually, we have already attended this excellent lecture.  I could not finish this post before we went.  My kids were the only youth present :( ......and after them, I may well have been the next youngest person there. : )  )

      And after I awakened, and reflected on the dream, I began thinking about this awesome lecture tonight........which got me thinking about writing a blog post about it.......which made me realized:

My little library STREWED for me.....
.......and I jumped for the bait! 

     Too funny.  I am such a sucker for educational and cultural opportunities.  :)

     So here is how it all came to be.........Our little library had a major crisis  (Wow.  I just re-read that article....a good one!) in June of 2010.  In the time that followed, many people came together and volunteered the time to keep our library running.  And you know what happened???  Our library is better than ever! Well, interlibrary loan would be the last perk we are waiting for.....maybe someday soon.......Some.day.

     (As I am proofreading this article......I just want to make it clear: my library IS a little library because I live in a small town...........in comparison, Willa's library is a closet.  :)  )

      The volunteers and the Friends of the Library have created many opportunities for the patrons since that crisis.  One of them applied for a grant.  She got it!  This grant allows for slecting a book from a specific group of books and providing opportunities in a sort of Unit Study format.  I believc the grant is from Cal Reads. The focus for this year is on democracy. The book she chose for the grant was.....

Jeanne Wakatsuki

     One of the main reasons that she chose this book is because the site of the largest of the Japanese internment camp is actually in our very own county.  The Tule Lake Camp was recently added to the National Park System as part of the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, which also includes Pearl Harbor, which I was so blessed to visit last June.  Our family intends to take a field trip to visit the Tule Lake Camp this summer.

     So, the library set a whole bunch of interrelated books on the counter.....STREWING the books right where I would have to pass them.....every time I came into the library.........which is several times a week.  Of course I began fondling the books......and that lead to conversations with the volunteer who coordinates this program.  And that lead to me checking the books out.  Of course.

      Even though the boys and I have been reading about WWI.........I just had to take advantage of the possibilities in front of us, related to WWII and the Japanese Internment camps.  I began reading Farewell to Manzanar aloud to the boys right away.  They good-humoredly put up with me......with a bit of rolling eyes.

     One of the comments from the lecturer was that the camps were not too well known to most people and that the history books in schools pretty much neglect this history.  In my own case, I cannot really remember not knowing about them.  From the time I was sixteen years old, my family drove from Lake Tahoe, where we had just moved to, back to Los Angeles, where we had moved from, frequently enough........along Highway 395, which means that we passed the Manzanar Camp regularly.  It was just a fenced area with an old tower or two.  But we would stop and look at it....and you could feel the historical energy there. 

      Now it is a part of the National Park system, as it should be......and has been developed as an official place to visit, but I have yet to stop there since this took place.  Having passed it so many times, it has almost become my "home" Japanese Internment Camp, if there can be such a thing.......and every time I have passed it with the kids, I have given the lecture about the history of it to them.  At least to the ones that were awake on our nine-hour drive.  :)

     I also read Journey to Topaz by Yoshiko Uchida as a preteen, so I definitely knew about the camps.  My oldest daughter read this same book as a preteen.

      It was so exciting to the boys and I that we were reading Farewell to Manzanar.......and that we would actually be getting to meet the author.  As part of the grant........the coordinator has been able to invite a handful of the authors to visit our little community.  We are so blessed!

     Mrs. Houston, the author, was here last week and I was able to get four of my six kids to the lecture.  The ten year old said:  Every time she talked about something in the book, I remembered reading it.  He enjoyed the lecture.  The other kids did, too.  I very much enjoyed chatting with her afterward.  She was very warm and took the time to visit with us.

     Let me pause here, for just a moment, and share an interesting connection to all of this.  My oldest daughter, Anne, will be graduating from college in June with a degree in English Education.  For her Capstone Project (her senior project), she has been focusing on creating an educational plan on using the book Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford.

     Because Anne was doing this project, I read the book, too, so I would know what she was up to.  Hotel (as Anne has come to call it for short) was also one of the books STREWED on that counter for me.  It was the strewing that finally got me to read it.  Perfect timing…..to read this book in time for the topic of Japanese Internment camps.

     When I mentioned to one of the doctors that I work with that I was reading Hotel, she said:  It was good.  But predictable.  I talked her the other day and told her that while it may have been a bit predictable, I found the book was an excellent opportunity to get in close to the emotions of that time…..to get inside of the camp in an intimate way.  The book is totally worth a read…..and an excellent first novel.  If you enjoy Jazz and its history…..there is a nice component to the story with Jazz as an important character.

     Anne, as a formerly homeschooled kid, was thrilled to have this “unit study” going on in her hometown.  She attends college close enough to come home for the lectures.  As a future educator, the experiences of hearing these lectures will only enhance her ability to teach.

     Our learning is all about CONNECTIONS, right?  For the rest of our lives, right?  I love how this opportunity proves that this is so.  I will never be done learning.  I hope that for my kids, too.  So far……..my three homeschool graduates feel that way. Phew.  One goal met.  Three times.

     This graphic book below about Camp Manzanar was perfect for my little guy to read.  I think he enjoyed reading about the camp, knowing the details of its history that he has learned. I am not personally fond of graphic novels……..but, this one was just perfect for our situation.

     Another STREWED book was called Baseball Saved Us by Ken Mochizuki.  It was a great picture book for explaiining the camp to the young kids.  The illustrations are lovely.

Baseball Saved Us

     Because the creation of the camps and the internment of the Japanese was unconstitutional, this book, Constitution Café by Christopher Phillips was among the books STREWED on that counter.  I picked it up for two reasons.  First, I had previously read Phillip’s other book, Socrates Café, which I enjoyed very much. And second, he was one of the authors that was coming for a visit!  I was not able to read the whole book before his arrival, but I got the first couple of chapters read so I would have an idea about his Constitution Café before we started.  I am currently rreadin it through now......I am loving the history he brings into his book.  I am loving the Thomas Jefferson quotes.

     I was able to drag at least four of my kids to his talk.  I left the little guy with friends.  Good thing, as I think a lot of the vocabulary would have been over his head.  I wish I had time to chat about Phillips’s ideas that were shared, but I am already going at it long here.  Perhaps he deserves his own blog post?  Yeah, probably. 
     Suffice it to say that is was a good experience to attend his Café, where we spent time discussing each phrase of the Preamble to the Constitution.  I was planning to just go and sit on the outside of the crowd, listening.  Thus I was quite surprised to hear my voice when I actually contributed to the conversation.  So were my kids!  J  Three of my kids also spoke.  They are smart kids….with some good ideas.  They must get that from their father…….or books.  J

   I am so glad that I did not cave into my desire to just cozy up at home and miss out on his visit.  This was good for all of us.  I believe the dialogue inspired by this Constitution Café will continue for years, just in our own family.

     While we were sitting in the library, I watched the “super moon” rise through our pretty windows.  I wish the cell phone could take the picture as pretty as it really was…….

     The final lecture of the STREWING is the author of the book below.  Lawson Fusao Inada is a past Poet Laureate of the state of Oregon.  His book, Only What We Could Carry, is a compilation of short stories, journal entries, poems, artwork, photos and more …….. from or about the Japanese Internment Camps.  He will be here on the 20th of May.  He is doing a writing workshop in the afternoon and a poetry reading in the evening.  This is stressing me out just a little bit……because we have two piano recitals the same day, as well as a basketball tournament an hour away from home.  That was already enough for our days total activities.  I hope we can figure out how to make it work.

      My oldest daughter is about to graduate from the university where he used to teach. Over the past two years, her English professors have said to her: You should meet Lawson Fusao Inada. Well, finally, she will. 

+++++++  +++++ ++++++

     So……...there you have it.  All my library has to do for me……is STREW.  And off I go!  Do you know…….that sometimes I have put myself on a self-imposed library fast…….just because I am such a sucker for their STREWING.  J
     I may live in a small town, but I live in a culturally-aware town.  Our opportunities may be slim compared to the big city…….but at least we have something to see, do, learn.



  1. Why? :)

    Maybe use a little spellcheck next time, eh? :)

    1. I actually didn't notice.
      I thought it was a good post and one you will like to look back at sometime

  2. Hi. I'm Lori. I too love our little library. Picking up lots of books for strewing is one of my favorite things to do! I's like to pass The Versatile Blogger Award onto you. You can visit my blog and play along if you'd like :)

  3. Wow, life is so rich with connections sometimes, isn't it? This is all very fascinating to me. The only book here I"m familiar with is Farewell to Mananzar. I've heard about Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet but I had no idea what it was about. And that book Constitution Cafe sound really intriguing. Thanks, Chari! I enjoyed this post!

    1. A little late on responding......

      Thanks for your comment, Faith!

      I recommend both of those books!

      At our library, they have recently started "Constitution Cafe" nights for philosophical chates about our constitution. Not sure if I will take the time to go there......for now.

      God bless!

    2. Faith...I highly recommend Socrates Cafe as a good read....I did not have time to finish more than about 75 pages of Constitution Cafe....but it seems like it would be a good read......though with a more singular focus than Socrates Cafe.

      Okay, disclaimer done.

  4. We have a very good library-Napa City-County library-with a very active hard working Friends of the Library. I get most of my books I'm reading from our library.

    I have Socrates Cafe but not Constitution Cafe which I will try to locate.I will look up Farewell to Manzanar also.

    Congratulations to your daughter on her graduation from college.

    1. Thank you for leaving a comment, Edgar. I am so sorry in delaying my gratitude. :)

      I checked out your blog when you first left the comment and found that we have similar tastes in the beauty around us. I very much enjoyed your photos and your thoughts.

      My daughter, the recent collge graduate, also enjoyed your blog. Thank you for the best wishes.

      The Friends of the Library at our library are awesome! I appreciate them so much!

      Did you get a chance to look up the books? I like your reading choices......what are your reading now?


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