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Little Women Tonight through Saturday

Tonight through Saturday at the Taylorsville Historic Hall, Greenville Drama Class presents Little Women…this cast has been so great –their director Dawnette Dryer has been amazing with what she can get out of them. 7 pm.  Come support Indian Valley Academy’s drama program.

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What the Wind Brought Me

 Come see the reading on the 25th in Quincy!

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Small Town Big March for Science

When you live in a county which is primarily national forest , where the government employs most of the people like ours you can expect that people might have something to say about budget cuts and anti-science agenda.

Despite this being opening day for Little League (and you know things done with balls always rule over things done in labs or with data in America) etc over 100 people showed up for Earth Day in Quincy. Not bad considering.

Also my mother who never goes anywhere was willing to come out and March. So yeah, Trumpazoid, you had my introvert Mexican American mom out on a Saturday morning when she’s usually home either cleaning like a fiend or sitting on the couch with a stack of books and two cats.

Here’s some photos from downtown Quincy. Also it was a reunion of sorts. All my favorite adjuncts who left the college I also left were out in full force–wow to think what a great school it could be! But seriously, what a lovely morning in the Sierras with scientists and their groupies. Here’s some photos.

Me!   Pettition table and great sign.

More fun signs! Facts! We are protesting in support of facts!  Dr. Linda Cayot who is one of the premiere scientists on the Galapagos happens to live in Quincy (she works for the Galapagos Conservancy. We always feel lucky to have her and she addressed the rally with a timeline of accomplishments in her life time made by American scientists.

 Timmy’s sign was my favorite.!

Marching up Main Street.  My mom!  And Anna Thompson (with her dogs whose signs say they are marching for veterinary science). Anna , along with Kyle Merriam, were the women who organized the event. Anna teaches biology courses up at the college. Thanks Anna!

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Reading in Quincy on Monday April 3rd (with a poet laureate no less)

Dana Gioia is reading at Quincy Library on April 3 and I’ll be reading with him as well. I’ve never met the poet laureate of California. He vowed to visit all counties and this is Plumas County’s turn at the start of national poetry month.

Now what to read…come out if you are in Plumas County!

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Women’s March: Sacramento

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Friday night my kids and I made the three hour trek to Davis to hang with a good friend and her kids. These kids were in play groups together back in the day and even though Carol moved away to Davis, we still keep in touch and get them together. Another friend from my early Greenville days moved to Sacramento–about 3 miles from where the Women’s March was starting on Saturday morning.

So after a somewhat harrowing drive in California’s storm season, including snow and a downed tree and a three hour drive….

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We got to Davis. The kids took off to their rooms to hang the way tweens/early teens do. I got busy assessing the hat situation. Carol bought a pussy purse! Which I now have because she’s a good friend and loves me for some inexplicable reason.

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At first the kids weren’t overly enthusiastic. It’s been a hard election everywhere but as we are in that red pocket low on education corner of California where it’s both beautiful and lethal it’s been really hard. Especially on my kids and especially on my daughter. She goes to school each day dreading a couple of kids who taunt her Mexican heritage and for not being Christian. And believe me a non-Christian kid who was taught about the beauty and love of Jesus Christ does not get how Christians can be into Trump.  I can’t explain it to her. I just say they probably aren’t aware of their own bible and tradition.  ANYHOW. The march immediately made her feel less alone. Her two friends live in more progressive areas now so they weren’t as downtrodden but they were amazed and felt the power of the march.

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My daughter and the other girls  loved the creativeness and the brashness of the signs. They immediately took out their phones to record them.

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ANd so we marched. We marched for REspect. Reproductive Rights. We marched for Trump’s victims of sexual assault. We marched for arts and humanities and education about to be cut. We marched for Education. We marched for rerorductive health. We walked to protest

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Organizers said there were supposed to be about 8K people and it was more like 20K–now I’m hearing of totals more towards 30K. I’d believe it. We were packed like sardines but happy all the same.

State Controller Betty Yee lead us in an Oath on the state capitol steps  to swear to protect and defend each other in these dark times. Warm and fuzzy day–even in the bitter cold weather.

It was a great day!

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The Last Thank You of 2016 — Library Project

….and it is two days late!

Much has been made of the disaster of 2016, with its notable take down of artists and musicians and cultural points of light and hope.

I kept thinking of Madeleine L’Engle’s Wrinkle in Time when the kids are with the Happy Medium and she is forced by one of the Mrs. Who, Mrs. Which etc to show the kids a happy planet, and a dark planet and then–she shows them Earth. Darkness of course, has  a strong hold on Earth. There is death and suffering and fascism reigning –but there are also those who fight the darkness.

It’s not that part that threw me as a child. I was well aware of darkness. But when the Mrs. W ensemble explain to the children that one can fight the darkness through love and through creation and through art is when my mind was opened up as a kid. There’s that paragraph were L’Engle mentions a sampling of darkness fighters: Jesus. Buddha. Shakespeare. That was it. Writers fight darkness. Teachers fight darkness. I was hooked.

Fighting Evil Through Art and Creation.  I think of that a lot these days. That’s why David Bowie’s death or even Carrie Fisher’s hits people so strongly. Because their art fought the darkness. And there is so much darkness. That’s why Leonard Cohen was the patron saint of my family. Because he offered a path of light through the dark forest.

If I have any resolution for 2017 it is to step up the fight against the darkness. I am needed now more than ever. You are needed now more than ever.

In between the mass shootings and the mass “post-truth” lies and the mass denial of the humanity of refugees, and the declaration of a party in our country to declare war on an already decimated environment there is hope.

There is Standing Rock.

There are all the kid drawings and paintings my kids leave on the dining room table.

There are mayors and cities declaring themselves sanctuary.

There are women getting ready to help women in dark states protect their basic rights.

There is defiance. There is resisting.

I look at 2016 though–the middle of the year, the summer, and there is you. Thousands of you. Who heard a plea for books and donated books to a strange woman in a forgotten town so that she could build a library for kids–to get books into the hands of kids.

That is what I’m looking to as encouragement. As my bright and shiny example of lightness in the world in need of defiance. You who read this and who donated a book. You participated in an act of defiance in a culture hell-bent on being proud of its own illiteracy, its own ignorance. You. Gave. Books. You. Made. Readers. I can’t stress enough how important and profound that is. Fighting the darkness.

Life has moved on beyond the summer. We opened. We checked out so far roughly  500 some books to students and an additional 400 to teachers and about 100 to community members and parents. There are waiting lists for some popular titles (Hamilton Soundtrack/Harry Potter Cursed Child, for example).

We gave bags of books away to foster kids who may not come back to our school district. We gave books to 7 schools other than our own. I officially have a box in the back of my car of duplicate titles to give away to kids who look like they could use them.  Lightness.

The school district is leaving us alone finally. Religious parents are going on to fight other battles. Slowly things are shaping up.  I am in the library five hours a week as a volunteer. I meet with students then, make recommendations, shelve a bit–put out new titles that are still coming in . I make displays.  And I always leave there feeling like I am fighting the darkness. This world is often not a place where writer/artist mothers of limited means feel successful. But because of our thousands of donors, I feel successful every time I walk in the library. Together we have brought light into a world.

It’s January 2nd.

I am at my father-in-law’s in Santa Monica with my kids. We are going museum hopping today and tomorrow and later on we’ll go to my aunt’s and visit my grandmother. I love bringing my kids back to the homeland of Los Angeles so we can soak in the best of southern California for a week. I love the Deep North in spite of itself. It really is beautiful (and currently filled with much needed snow). The environment is, if not pristine, as close to it on the planet as you can find. Lightness. Strength. Beauty.

But I also love  Los Angeles, the city of my birth. Yesterday on New Year’s Day my kids’ godfather and I saw Rogue One at the Chinese Theater in Hollywood (IMAX 3D because, of course) and then topped it off with a nostalgic trip to Canter’s on Fairfax for a Brooklyner and a black and white cookie. Lightness. Strength.

Today we head out to the Museum of Tolerance and later to LACMA for the Diego & Picasso exhibit. Tomorrow the California Academy of Science Pixar Exhibit and then my sister in law will whisk them away for fun while I catch up on work and a double feature of films that will never reach the north in a theater.  I will interview a couple of people as I wrap up my book proposal I’ve been working on.

Meanwhile my husband and mother are in the north keeping the house warm from winter and managing their own fights against the darkness.

It feels like we are all gathering strength for 2017.

I haven’t said it in awhile but –Thank you, again.  Know that you are appreciated daily and have provided one small town with a shining example of hope and humanity that we see and feel every time we walk through the door of the library. You decided to fight the fight (along with me) against boredom and ignorance and despair. I will always be grateful for that.

Happy New Year.–Margaret

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Just. One. Book. It’s Starting.

Enthusiasm has taken hold. I’m gone for the rest of the week in the lovely town of Green Bay, WI. visiting my dad– the other person in my family who gave me a love of books. My dad got that from my grandma who used to drop my dad and his brother off at the library for hours on end. Some of my favorite books over the years came from my dad. No rhyme or reason, just every now and then a book he thought a young person should read–and as I’m older now he still does it. Some of my favorite non-fiction comes from him. He came from a family that while, uneducated in its humble beginnings in New York, used libraries. His mother didn’t graduate from high school; my father has a PhD as well as a medical degree. We call him ‘double-doctor.’

I still look to him for book recommendations. And Packers gear. And cheese. Go Packers.

Meanwhile focus in Greenville say packages are still arriving. More kids who are in town for the summer are showing up to help discard old debris, make recycling runs, and the exciting part—opening boxes. One student yesterday remarked to Sue Weber, “I don’t even want to go to classes next year. Can I just sit in here and read?” Book contraband.

Last night when I finally got to talking with my son, he’d asked his friends on FB if there were books they wanted to have in the library.  Every recommendation my son and his friends threw at me I got to answer with, “Yup. Have it. It’s coming.” His friends were amazed. He was amazed.

My daughter revised the summer plans for when we get back. “Okay so, in the morning we work the library; in the afternoons, we go to the pool.” Yes, indeed. Sounds like a sweet summer plan.

Both the Washington Post and Feather River Publishing (the newspaper I work for) have asked me to do stories on the library project.  Yay! And we have teachers working on a donorchoose.org campaign as we realize we will need a designated computer for the library–something we don’t have now. The former Greenville High School library was never digitized.

Also we have a name now for the new library. Since it is for both schools and since the community is so intrinsically involved (and we envision them using the library too) we’ve named it the Indian Valley Collective Library.

Hope you’re having a good day. I know we are.

Green Bay!

 

 

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Just. One. Book. Thoughts from the Airport

Greetings from the Sacramento Airport 5:35 am.

That’s mountain life. If you need to go somewhere, you have to leave the night before to get there. So I’m at the Sacramento Airport waiting on a flight for Minneapolis to go to Green Bay to visit my dad and his lovely wife and…pick up my tween and teen. They just got into social media range as they’ve been cabin camping in the North Woods of Wisconsin. Wait. Mom did what? Started a library?!

My daughter starts 7th grade in the fall; the son starts 9th grade. Because of you? They’ll get to experience a well-stocked library (other than their mom’s office which is arguably a bit poetry/drama/women and early 20th century focused. Now they will have variety to chose from as will their classmates.

Yesterday, before going “off the mountain” to the flatland below, I checked in at the post office (who called me saying they were drowning in boxes) and the library. The director/principal of Indian Valley Academy, Sue Weber was there along with a few community volunteers, and students.  Pam Lyman, the IVA office manager had put a call out to students in town and not off visiting grandparents or at camp to come down and see what was happening–and to help with the breaking down boxes for recycling and making lists of who to thank for boxes with addresses.

The 2016 Silver Buckle Rodeo Queen, Hannah Lambach, stopped by for me to interview her for the local paper. She’s 16 and a Greenville High School student. Her words, “You mean we will finally be able to check out a book?!” She stood there amazed. Then went and got her truck to back up to the building and haul the recycling to Evergreen Market which employs students. The store owners Centella and Ken Tucker are volunteering to pick up boxes while I’m gone and bring them to the library. Ken told Hannah to have the students who work for him help unload the recycling. Hannah promised to come back and tell others to come help.

IMG_7821  These were the bags from Saturday’s UPS haul. That’s not counting the Fed Ex afternoon bags, or the post office which had 5 rolling carts of boxes.

IMG_7824Sue (on the left there) instructed Jazmin how to orderly open and sort. Jazmin was sort of dazed for the first few minutes. “These books are for us?!” As I was unloading the UPS bags Jazmin opened a box and stared at the book inside. You could tell she wanted to pick it up and go to a corner and start reading.

“It’s impossible to open the boxes and not want to read everything,” I said. “Oh yes,” she said.

Then more students started to arrive to help as I was leaving. I was nervous about my trip to Wisconsin for a few days, but one of the things I love about Greenville is that when there’s a project, everyone is all in–doesn’t matter whose idea it was, or what your affiliation is. If there’s something that needs to be done, someone is there to help. Weber wants the students active in this. There’s a whole lot of thank you cards to write.

This attitude is why I like this little hamlet of a town. Despite it sometimes not quite being in the 21st century, despite the Internet going out in the middle of the day, despite the crumbling sidewalks rolling up at 5 pm (hey they have a grant from the state to fix our potholes and highway and sidewalks!), it’s a great place to teach kindness and breathe fresh air. It’s a place where there is always something that needs to be done and there are people willing to show others how to do those things.

Many of us are not from here. I’d say maybe half the town is originally from somewhere else California. We all found our way here from one place or another. I lived in San Francisco in my 20s and early 30s and have become one of the SF economically exiled. I had a hard time visualizing raising a family in a studio apartment for 2K a month, so I moved up here so I could stay home with my kids when they were babies and have them grow up near their grandmas ( my moms live 5 miles away). The moms aren’t from here either but good friends of theirs were. Mom 2 found this place in the 60s when she was the then Methodist minister’s wife. She lived in the parsonage which became the thriftstore and never lost ties to the area and its people. That’s how we are up here now.

Housecleaning:

I’ll work on an Amazon list (thank you for making all those items on the list enter our library) from the Minneapolis airport.

We accept gently used.

It’s a 7th-12th grade library. Some kids a little behind , some a little ahead.

If we get duplicates we have two other area libraries that we think could use help—they weren’t in dire straits like us but nor did they have a lot of new books either.

Okay. My plane is boarding. Have a lovely day.

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Just. One. Book. Updates and Observations.

Honestly, folks. I do write about other things. I figured if you’re following my posts lately that I should let you know that. Tales of a Sierra Madre is my blog hub with links to all the esoteric creative things I wind up doing in this beautiful but strange place called Plumas County. Since I’m more of a writer than a blogger, things over there tend to go looong. I started Throwing Chanclas to be fun! Short! Photo driven! Light hearted and airy. Or something like that.

Anyhow, I’ve received a few emails on here wanting to know if I am a real person and if this book drive is real, etc. Yes. I am a real person. I write for a newspaper by day. I’m also a fiction writer. And I write and produce a play every once in a while. Also? I love books, I have too many, and I’m constantly giving them away. As I think many of you are too.

IMG_7340So this is me. Margaret Elysia Garcia. When I do modeling or anything of that nature I use Greta Garcia. Because ‘Margaret’ sounds like someone’s aunt in an old folks home. Not the sexiest name. And for the reporting gig and when I have to write something innocuous and boring I go by Maggie Wells whom I assume is my doppleganger sorority pledging, well-married twin with no student loan and a much larger house.

But then there’s you! You’ve been sending books. You are amazing. Sunday was hard. I’m from a very gay family–as in lesbian mothers, lesbian sister in law,  raised by gay men in the 70s, etc. My best friend from junior high was off  at Pride in DC with his new husband and we were doing that FB thang  and then bam. Orlando. And it reminded me of the kid in my daughter’s class who always tries to tease the one lesbian girl in class. And I wonder sometimes is there a way that I can personally offset this madness and hatred? Can I give the bully a book ? Will it open her world? Maybe. Maybe not. But I have to try.

And then it was Monday and  I stopped by the post office to mail a package and the post master lady said can you pull your car around back?

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And then I drove to Greenville High School/Indian Valley Academy and the secretary looked up from her computer and said, “WHAT DID YOU DO?” I walked into the library and saw this:

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So thank you. You restored my faith in humanity. And the cool English teacher and our awesome special Ed teacher and the culinary arts teacher–who is used to getting all book requests denied  all stood there at different times with their jaws dropped.  We are so used to being ignored that it is taking awhile to sink in. I started crying when I opened books. I sniffed in the books. If anyone was watching I’m sure it looked weird. I also cried when I read some of the notes with the books. Full disclosure: my dad and his wife  flew my kids out to Wisconsin to visit him and go kayaking in the North Woods so I’m a little weepy this week anyway. 

But you people are beautiful. Here are three themes going on in the notes.

  1. Retired librarians (and current ones ) get really pissed off at closed libraries. I am picturing some kind of librarian march on Washington where you all just shame Congress for continually gutting arts and education.
  2.  You remember where you came from. So many people are writing “I grew up in a small town and books SAVED me. I can’t imagine not having books. Here’s my favorite.” To this I say I know what you mean. I was a very shy army brat and it always took me six months to say hello to people. Meanwhile I just made friends with books.
  3. You care about the nation’s children and rural America. You send books to open up worlds to them. I opened up a box for LGBTQ teens and cried yet AGAIN. 

So from the bottom of my very real heart. THANK YOU.

Tomorrow is my day in the big city–the neighboring town of Quincy (population 5000) but I’ll be back on Thursday–stopping at the post office and the library. I can only imagine what the table will look like then.

So Thank you! And I’m so sorry if I’m slow in answering email. As all people who live here do, I have like six part time jobs (think Northern Exposure). So I can only get to so many at once. Here’s the current wish list for those asking:

Amazon Wish List.

And to whomever ( I think it was a few people) sent kindles YOU ROCK SO HARD THANK YOU. My husband the IT guy will be setting them up this summer so they’ll be ready to go come fall semester in September!