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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Camp Marshfield, Of Sorts

Well, shockingly, there may be something of a Camp Marshfield getting off the ground after all. My other Big Picture buddy, whom we'll call Gladys here, is taking a Spanish class for heritage speakers at National-Louis and doing some work with the Mikva Challenge, but she has time to help out. She also has to watch her nine-year-old sister, who is just the right age to hang out with the Brady Girls and their buddies.

Gladys and Little Sister came over to the block tonight, after we made a run to the north side to pick up my computer from the repair shop. (Yep, more tech trouble, but we've survived.) We also squeezed in a trip to Women and Children First--they each picked a book--and a pit stop at Foster Beach because I wanted to stick my feet in the water for the first time this year.

Gladys found a book by Rosario Sanmiguel that she and I are both going to read: Under the Bridge: Stories from the Border/Bajo el Puente: Relatos desde la frontera. The first half of the book is the English version; the second half is the Spanish.

"You should read the Spanish part, too," Gladys advised. [She knows I'm trying to improve my Spanish. We spoke some in the car on the way home, too. She's a good practice partner--she's patient and she corrects me. We may have to do that some more.] Apparently Gladys is extra right about reading the Spanish--the review to which I linked above, by someone from Berwyn, says the English translation does not live up to the original Spanish, which includes a lot of slang and geographic description that the English translator didn't do justice to. Hopefully Gladys can help me catch that stuff, too.

Her little sister picked a "very funny" book called Ducks Don't Wear Socks. It is pretty hilarious. When we got back, one of the Brady Girls tried reading it on her own. She is not as strong a reader as my next door neighbor of the same age. Maybe if they read together over the summer, the stronger one will rub off on the weaker one. Keep your fingers crossed.

When we got back here, there were a half dozen girls on my front steps and a couple of boys riding bikes out in front of the house. Perfect. I introduced Gladys and she introduced her sister, and within minutes all the girls were happily stringing beads on thread. They need more needles, preferably with bigger eyes. Gladys knows a thing that you can use to string beads that is easier than a needle, but she doesn't know where to find it. If anyone knows what you call that gizmo, tell me, or tell me if you know where to get them in Chicago (preferably cheap). I read a couple of poems from Meet Danitra Brown in between helping thread needles. We had a nice chat about the one that explains why she wears purple all the time.

It is possible that Gladys's sister and one of the Bradys might be in the same class next year. That would be nice, since Little Sister is transferring from Hamline to Chavez. Spending some time on our block this summer might help her make friends.

After Gladys and her sister left, we played the ever-popular Memory Game. At some point, I remembered I had three bananas on the kitchen counter, nice today but overripe tomorrow. "Who's hungry?" I asked.

"Me," said Jay-Z, who is a 12-year-old boy, and thus always hungry. He and my next door neighbor and I ate most of the bananas, cut up with a little honey drizzled over them.

"I have a watermelon in my tummy," Next Door Neighbor said.

One of the other girls took her literally. "I think she means she's really full," I said.

"Yeah," she agreed. Then we talked about what else could be filling her tummy. A watermelon. A car. The ice-cream truck. Two cars. Three cars. A stretch limo. Two stretch limos. A Hummer. A tank.

She lost it laughing. "I'm a gigglebox," she told me. We had to stop and pay attention to the Memory game to calm down.

On one of my many trips in and out of the house-- for food, drinks, paper towels, only once for a Band-Aid--they started one of those chants you do when you're a little kid:
Who farted?
You farted!
then something that gets you pointing at people around the circle
Point! wherever the finger lands, you're it.

The littlest girl picked up the "Who farted?" chant right away, and her mother will probably not be too happy, if she understands English. I will have to come up with some camp songs that don't involve passing gas. Unfortunately I could only remember part of "God Bless My Underwear," which is not a big improvement.

We have had more book requests from the kids: books on cats--they are making friends with a neighbor cat--and The Magic Tree House book series, which apparently is up to 40 books right now, so that could keep them busy all summer. I think the middle school girls will be reading The House on Mango Street. They haven't read it before, but Gladys and I have.

It's now time to order from Amazon with the gift certificates a good friend of mine from California donated to me. Plus, the dollar store at 50th and Ashland is going out of business, at least temporarily. I stopped by today for the closeout sale and the owners told me if I get stuff for the kids in bulk they will give me an extra discount. So for sure I'll go back and clean them out of construction paper, glue sticks, scissors, flash cards, that kind of stuff.

We may also be able to recruit a second camp counselor. Meg is still working on getting into Lozano--she turned in her application (I think) and has to go back and take a test--then she'll be in the lottery for a spot in September. If she doesn't get picked for September she can start in January. She's also got a job lead. But she says she has time now, so I hope that means she and Gladys can go with me and whoever wants to go on Camp Marshfield's first field trip tomorrow late afternoon, to the farmers market at 58th and Wood. Stay tuned.


Anonymous said...

You can buy stringing needles (non-sharp needles with large flexible eyes) at craft stores like Joann's or Michaels. They're usually sold in pkgs and aren't expensive.

Your campers might enjoy making paper and candy chromatography. Online instructions and photos are on

Your camp sounds like fun. Good luck.

Harriet M. Welsch said...

I don't have any nonfiction about cats to recommend, but there are some good fiction options. AJ loves the Warriors series by Erin Hunter (a pen name for a bunch of authors), novels about tribes of cats. It's sort of like Harry Potter with whiskers and is aimed at a similar age range/reading level. For younger kids I highly recommend Esther Averill's books about Jenny and Pickles and their friends, cats living in New York. Pickles the Fire Cat is a picture book good for very young children or very new readers. Jenny and the Cat Club is the first of the series of chapter books about the same group of cats. They're on the master list at AJ's Clubhouse. Also, do you have a wish list for your book club?

Maritza said...

Thanks, Pam and Harriet for the great suggestions for Camp Marshfield. I'm still struggling to get my computer power cord to work, so I haven't had time to set up a wish list on Amazon.
I think we'll be getting seven copies of House on Mango Street for the book club, and both Harriet and the neighbor kids have persuaded me that Magic Tree House books and research guides might be good, too.

I hope to have a working computer at home again soon and will post when an Amazon wish list exists. More soon.

harriet M. Welsch said...

Please do. I'd like to help. And I wouldn't be surprised if some of my other readers would to.

jp said...


I am the translator of Rosario Sanmiguel's book "Under the Bridge." I stumbled on your blog and saw the link to the unfortunate review in Criticas. I'd love to hear your thoughts on the book any time.

I hope one review doesn't make you shy away from reading the English version. It is just one person's opinion.

Translation is not an easy undertaking, but it is very easy to criticize. I spent many months working on the English version (trying to find ways to translate the particular idioms and and slang of the book particularly). I hope you were able to get something out of the book.

I'd love to hear your opinion or answer any questions you might have.


John Pluecker

Maritza said...

Wow, John, I'm amazed you found this. I did read the book in English--my friend Gladys and I did not read it together, so I merely checked in with the Spanish once in a while.

I can't do justice to your request for an opinion right now because it is late and I'll be working a conference tomorrow and Friday, but I will come back to this, possibly in a post, or at least an email to you directly. Thanks very much for writing in. Translation is difficult work and kudos to you for bringing the book to English-language readers.

jp said...

Just wanted to let you know my email is plujo7 at Enjoy your conference and hope to hear from you.

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