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October 24, 2006

If you don't get my letter then you'll know that I'm in jail

Tonight, after another brilliant acupuncture appointment, I went over to ABC No Rio to send books to prisoners. I did this for the first time a few weeks ago, and I've got it planned into my schedule now as a regular thing. I'd been meaning to do it for months 'n' months, as it is on the Nonsense list every week, and it was a cause I supported, but it wasn't until I was so miserable in September that I was able to get my act together. Four things happened: I independently had the idea that "Gee, a lot of people are much worse off than I am, me with my first-world problems," and then I read the suggestion to volunteer in books about both Buddhism and anxiety/depression, and then Katje reminded me that volunteering is good for cheering oneself up, and then I read David Feige's book Indefensible, about being a public defender in the Bronx. How could I resist all that?

It's amazing work. They've got a room full of books that have been donated, and a box full of letters from prisoners, and you take a letter, read it, and try to find some books for the person. Just about every letter gets me right in the gut. Tonight I had a letter from a guy who said that his prison had a small library, but that now that he's finished his GED, he isn't even allowed to use it. WTF? We had some history books that fit his request, and we sent those along. Most satisfying request to fill tonight was the guy who asked for books about Celtic stuff, Gaelic, anything Irish. We actually had a book on Celtic mythology *and* an Irish-English/English-Irish dictionary (which had some grammar exercises in it). Dude.

In other news, the perennials I planted are doing splendidly. I *know* that fall is a fine time to plant, and so I ordered the plants, but I had a moment of doubt when they came and it was a chilly morning and I thought, "What am I doing?" But we are in zone 7, and furthermore, the weather has cooperated perfectly, with lots of rain and sunshine interspersed, and a few more warm days before the chill set in. We shouldn't have even a frost for another couple of weeks, and in the meantime, the hostas are putting out new leaves (which suggests that they are putting down new roots as well) and the black mondo grass looks extremely healthy. I'll have to get a couple of pictures in situ.

Posted by Rose at October 24, 2006 10:13 PM


A prisoner sent a letter to Sterling complaining about one of our sudoku books, and how it wasn't hard enough. (It sounds like the inmates at this prison can only order books directly from a bookstore and not over the web, so all you know about a book is what the clerk tells you.) He wanted a refund or a harder book. Obviously I couldn't send him a refund, but I sent him one of Frank's "black belt" books.

Posted by: Francis at October 24, 2006 10:45 PM

very very cool. i don't see a similar project in KC, though... Leavenworth is close by, maybe they have something... glad to hear things are moving in a positive direction, and yay hostas!

Posted by: gotcha at October 30, 2006 01:13 AM

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