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The first thing I do everyday day in the morning is read the newspaper. I am not sure this is a good way to start the day, as usually newspapers do not contain good news. They mostly shout about discord and tragedy, dysfunction and injustice, all in a neutral voice. This morning with tears in my eyes I read about Baltimore, I thought about my black nephews and the world which seems to want to swallow them whole. Yesterday, with Foos on my lap, we read about the earthquake in Nepal, complete with photos of bloated limbs and sooted lids. Her little eyes widening with every picture. She does this often, she sits on my lap while I read and reads too. This doesn’t bother me. I see these moments as opportunities. Yesterday, after a photo of a woman distraught by a funeral pyre, we talked about Nepali funeral rituals. We spoke about earthquakes and fear, the inevitability of death. Oh, how lucky are we that get to sleep in our own beds at night! That we have food to eat, and don’t have to walk miles for water. That we get to enjoy warm showers, and poop in a toilet, and ride our bikes for pleasure, and have a car that takes us to and fro with ease. How privileged, how lucky. I do not think my job as a parent is to protect her from the world. On the contrary, I want to present it to her; this is your your world, these are your people, this is what you are inheriting. I want her to know there are billions of people in this world, and billions of ways of being. Reading the newspaper together is a good way to begin these conversations in a way that isn’t contrived, that doesn’t feel like over reaching.

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photo: Seth

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1.Gobble You Up! by Gita Wolf 2. Extraordinary Warren: A Super Chicken by Sarah Dillard 3. I Live In Tokyo by Mari Takabayashi 4. Extraordinary Warren: Saves the Day by Sarah Dillard 5. The Very Hungry Lion by Gita Wolf

We are serious about books. I’m going to turn into a momma peacock for a second here- Foos has been reading since she was two years old and currently reads at a second/third grade level.  She is three years old.  Our local libraries are a big part of our lives and our weekly routine. We go to the library about once a week for a couple of free classes and to get our books for the week.  JPL’s main branch has the most beautiful and expansive children’s library I have ever seen.  I want to throw all my tax dollars at it, sleep in it, probably be buried in it.   The staff are wonderful and we count quite a few of them as friends.

We almost never go in there with a plan, but this week we kinda sorta had one!  Foos has been super interested in India.  Recently, we had to buy her a sari to try to get her to stop crying after we told her that no, it wouldn’t be possible to go to india tomorrow, and no, we didn’t have the money to do it any time soon.  She also likes to pretend she’s a Japanese woman in her pretend play, which is a little weird, but Im not going to question it. This is why we picked up Gobble You Up!, The Very Hungry Lion, and I live in Tokyo from the cultural tales section of the children’s library.   Gobble You Up! and The Very Hungry Lion, adaptations by Gita wolf,  are easily two of the most beautiful books I have ever seen.  I Live In Tokyo follows the life of a Japanese girl, Mimiko, and her family for a year.  Her life, like all of ours, is a mixture of the traditional and modern.  Her opinions are honest, and the accompanying illustrations are lovely.  We enjoyed these books so much, I will probably buy them for Foos.

The Extraordinary Warren books, which Foos grabbed from the display near the front desk as we were on our way out, were an excellent impulse.  These books, follow Warren, a chicken who wants to be more than just a chicken. The books are made up of short chapters, with comic book style illustrations that were easy to read and follow.  They were fun (and funny) to read.

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This is an abandoned car somewhere near Springfield.  I’m not sure abandoned is the right word, as it sits in the grassy lot of a business, behind a gate, almost like a sculpture.  Rusty and lopsided and tattooed with graffiti. Kind of like me.

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(My favorite part of this photo is the big-eyed ugly moon. Can you spot it?)

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Photos: Seth

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Recently, Seth received permission to take photographs inside the Laura Street Trio in downtown Jacksonville.  The trio consists of the Old Florida National Bank, the Bisbee Building, and the Florida Life Building.  All three were built after the Great Fire of 1901, and are an architecturally significant part of downtown.  The trio have been in varying degrees of decay and disrepair for many years, but after changing hands several times, plans to restore the buildings are finally underway.  I think the buildings are beautiful this way, but I readily admit I’m one of those people who romanticizes old things (especially old things I’m not responsible for). The shoot was a collaboration with Tiffany Fish, a very talented local professional dancer.  The photos do a beautiful job of capturing the architectural details of the buildings; the floor to ceiling windows, marble floors, and golden elevators. Tiffany’s airy presence is a great foil to the empty darkness and decay surrounding her in the photos.  I can’t say enough about this set!

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We met an Indian couple while hiking a trail at the Jacksonville Arboretum and Gardens. They were lovely; the wife was very pregnant with their second child, the first child was as dreamy as her mother, and the father was attentive and polite. Seth spent a month in India last year, and so he fell into easy conversation with them. After we took leave of each other, it was decided we would go to India’s Restaurant for lunch. Penny did not want to leave the arboretum; it was only after the promise of Indian doughnuts (Gulab Jabun) that she agreed to come with us and not throw a tantrum. Because the universe is chaos, India’s Restaurant did not have the doughnuts. A promise is a promise, and thats how we ended up at Sweet Theory Baking Co. after lunch.

Sweet Theory’s proximity to our home simultaneously made me rethink my atheism and made my bank account cry. The space is impeccable and so are the treats. It is a vegan bakery, All of their treats are dairy, soy, egg, and peanut free, made using organic ingredients, with a ton of gluten-free options. Their offerings change daily, and they make super yummy drinks and teas, too! The ladies who run the place are super friendly ( and ridiculously beautiful).  Should you ever find yourself in Jacksonville, it’s worth a visit!

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Photos: Seth