Friday, July 31, 2015


Back after a brief hiatus, this week has been too full of Donald Trump and his jackass legal counsel (as well as a host of other things too horrible to even mention here; when too much Donald Trump is the least worst thing you know it's been a bad news week). Despite the great news from the Boy Scouts of America, which voted to allow gay scout leaders (huzzah!), and the NFL, which saw the hiring of its first ever female coach (Goodonya, Arizona Cardinals, you have a new fan; Jen Welter kicks ass), I'm hoping you can all use a little more good in your day.

Exhibit A: This story is making the rounds, so you may have seen it, but as a book lover I'm featuring it anyway (and thanks also to Elizabeth for sending me this particular link). Twelve-year-old Matthew Flores couldn't afford books, so he took to reading advertisements. Recently, he approached his mailman to ask if there was any junk mail he could have to read. JUNK MAIL. This is how badly this kid wants to read. It is shameful and hopeful all at the same time. Matthew's mailman, Ron Lynch, asked his Facebook friends if they had any books they could spare. The request went viral and books started showing up from all over the world; hundreds of books; books from the U.K., India, and Australia. Matthew promises to read every one. It breaks my heart that a reader had no books; but it renews my faith in my community - readers are awesome.

Exhibit B: This story scratched the itch of my wood nerd and my cool sculpture nerd. James Doran Webb makes incredible figures out of driftwood. I went a little crazy adding images, but they're all so beautiful it was hard not to keep sharing. There are links to James' website and Facebook page, along with more images, at the link, so hit that.

Exhibit C: Tough to beat this one in the "Pet owners are awesome; people be crazy" categories. When a goldfish gets constipation or a bladder infection, it often can’t swim upright, usually leading to its death. One owner found an ingenious solution and made his goldfish a "wheelchair" (corkchair?) to keep it upright. Apparently it's a thing; there are even models made by vets. Who knew?

Exhibit D: Thanks to Bev for this wonderful slash weirdo article. The world’s first "bee highway" (yes, you read that right) is being planned in Oslo, Norway. With so many species now endangered, the environmental group ByBi has created a collaborative community project aimed at local schools, businesses and residents to get involved installing bee-friendly stations, shelters and pit-stops throughout the city. The intent is to link up established green zones in the city via the public’s contributions - essentially, any natural infrastructure that may help provide a more hospitable environment for Oslo’s resident pollinators. Below is a map of the highway's progress;

Exhibit E: There's nothing quite like an inter-species friendship to lift one's spirits, eh? In this case, a herd of wild horses in the Falklands took in a lonely penguin who had been separated from his tribe. You're welcome. (Thanks to Cathy for this one). This reminds me of the old movie The Ugly Dachshund, where Dean Jones is a vet and brings home a Great Dane puppy and his wife's (the amazing Suzanne Pleshette) three wiener dogs get it in all kinds of trouble because it grows up thinking it's as small as they are. I guess you had to be there, but it's a good'un.

Exhibit F: My friend Patti sent me this article, and you should go read it. 6-year-old Brock has autism, which makes it difficult for him to communicate with strangers. But the times his mother has really seen him smile and come out of his shell were when he came into contact with police officers who went out of their way to spend time with him, answering his questions (even "Why do cops have refrigerators?). What Brock really wanted was a picture of him with an officer to hang on his wall. Not long ago a cop was on a call in Brock's neighborhood and Brock waited an hour for the policeman to finish with his call, then got up the nerve to ask. "He worked through his nerves and started approaching the officer. His anxiety got the best of him a few times, but he finally got up the courage and kept saying 'Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh! I’m really doing this, Mom!'” Officer Morgel agreed to the picture, and spent a bunch of time with Brock, answering questions and even introducing him to police dog Riko. It's heartbreaking when a child's anxiety keeps him or her from interacting and doing things that make them happy. Kudos to these officers for giving Brock a positive experience.

Obligatories: My sister and I recently got to (i.e., had to) go spend some time with our family out of state. The best part was spending almost all day every day with our 4-year-old nephew, who is funny as hell. And yes, ornery, too. He's an O'Brien after all. He is not a crier, but is going to win an Oscar sometime soon for his "feel sorry for me" crying act, which is sheer genius. He can sob and wail, then peek at you out of the corner of his eye to see if you're falling for it. I wish I could remember half of the funny things he said during our visit, but I'm old and can't. This was my favorite, however, said calmly, but 100% seriously:

"It's not funny, guys. I'm not happy." Oh, we laughed.

Now that we've returned home, he asks my mom every day when she picks him up from school where we are. When she repeats that we've gone home, he slaps a hand to his head and says, "Oh, man! But we need them!" Ugh. What a heartbreaker.

He's also not too hard on the eyes:

Mind blown by a herd of ducks:

This is the latest stance. Usually he's also got one leg crossed over the other and leans one hand on something. Total Joe Cool pose. Not sure where that came from.

Walking the fire pit.

I couldn't have been more proud of B last weekend. I went to a friend's for lunch and most of the family was out besides her and her young son, who is painfully shy. He really wanted me to bring B, and they had a fabulous time running around the lawn, playing with the ball, doing tricks. I brought her training bag full of treats and showed him how to give her commands. Then they went inside by themselves to play Lego and look at comics. It was so neat to see a lovely boy come out of his shell. B is going for her first therapy dog test soon, so this was a good test run.

That's all, folks. Hope you all have splendid weekends and a certain tooth-fixer gets his comeuppance soon.

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About Malcolm Avenue Review

I was lucky enough to be born and raised in a nifty, oak-shaded ranch house on Malcolm Avenue, a wide-laned residential street with little through traffic, located amid the foothills of Northern California. It was on that street and in that house I learned most of my adolescent life lessons, and many grown-up ones to boot. Malcolm Avenue was "home" for more than thirty years.

It was on Malcolm Avenue, through and with my family and the other families that made up our neighborhood of characters, that I first learned about and gained an appreciation for the things I continue to love the most to this day: music, animals, photography, sports, television/movies and, of course, books.

I owe a debt of gratitude to that life on Malcolm Avenue. It gave me a sense of community and friendship, support and adventure. For better and worse, life on that street likely had the biggest impact on the person I've become. So this blog, and the things I write here, are all, at their base level, a little bit of a love letter to Malcolm Avenue.


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