Woodrat Podcast

Harold Myers and family
Harold as a boy, left, and in the center front of the photo on the right, with his brother and father, both named Walter, his mother Georgina Dresch, and his grandfather Valentine

Harold C. Myers (1914-2003) was my maternal grandfather, A.K.A. Pop-pop. Today I present part of an interview my brother Steve tape-recorded in 1997, subsequently digitized by Jeff Suydam. Pop-pop’s description of his childhood, first in the little “coal patch” called the Vulcan on Broad Mountain near Mahanoy City, then in the steel town of Pottstown, Pennsylvania, is full of great details about the way people used to live, and the way boys in particular used to almost raise themselves, spending many days away from home on fishing or berrying expeditions, or building go-carts and pipe bombs and generally running wild. Pop-pop was unusual both in his love of reading and his love of the outdoors, two things he definitely imparted to his oldest daughter, my Mom. I’ve selected and edited the best parts of his earliest memories, and really wish we’d been able to record more. If you have elderly relatives or neighbors whose stories have never been recorded, I hope this will inspire you to preserve something before it’s too late.

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Theme music: “Le grand sequoia,” by Innvivo (Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike licence)

Julia Martin of Bread for the Head
photo credits, l-r: Sarah Tribuzio, Margareta Vranicar, Mary Beth Meyer

Julia Martin has been a witty and erudite presence in my corner of the blogosphere for several years now, first simply as a commenter on other people’s blogs and eventually at a site of her own, Clumps and Voids. But I wanted to talk to her about her day job as executive director of Bread for the Head, whose mission is to provide books to low-income children in the Chicago area and try to convert them into life-long readers. This is Banned Books Week in the United States as well as National Literacy Month, but outright banning isn’t the only thing keeping books out of the hands of children, and all too often literacy programs fail to inculcate a love of reading. Bread for the Head, which Julia founded five years ago, takes the radical position that, as their mission states, “pleasure reading is no indulgence, but a necessity.”

If you don’t have time to listen to the podcast right away, at the end of it, Julia asks listeners to share the titles of their own favorite books for children (which don’t have to be children’s books per se). Please use the comments below, or contact Julia directly: juliaannmartin at gmail dot com. And of course if you live in the Chicago area, Bread for the Head can always use more volunteers.

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Theme music: “Le grand sequoia,” by Innvivo (Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike licence)

Lorianne DiSabato
left: in San Diego; right: in Dharma teacher robes (photos by Jim Gargani)

Lorianne DiSabato is a writer, photographer, naturalist, college instructor, and Zen teacher who’s been blogging at Hoarded Ordinaries for nearly seven years. We’ve been friends for almost that long, and first met in person in March 2005, but I realized there were still some questions I’d never asked her. I got her talking about how she got into nature, how or whether she would categorize Hoarded Ordinaries, journaling versus blogging, getting married at the zoo, nature writing as a pilgrimage, the myth of the literary hermit, blogging and Buddhism, the danger of Zen books, and more.

Theme music: “Le grand sequoia,” by Innvivo (Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike licence)

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