zirconium: doll with bike @High Point Doll Museum (doll with bike)
A local weekly published a holiday calendar. Its entry for December 23:

Embrace your inner goth. Make yourself a hot buttered rum (with or without the rum) and read "The Dead" by James Joyce.

There was a Martha Stewart calendar maybe 15 years ago that listed "Make croquembouche" somewhere around December 23. That one gave my eyebrows more of a workout.

I will also say, though, that the mention of goths poked me into peeking at Debi Gliori's blog (her Pure Dead series having come to mind [*]), leading to "A Pebble in a Pool," a post about how a letter (with glitter!) from a little girl in Germany reached the author's kitchen in Scotland.

[* That said, the Joyce would be more in tune with a Cure soundtrack than the Gliori, which is more goofy than gloomy in general (in spite of witches and devils and an undead Italian grandmother in the mix). Though Pure Dead Wicked does describe some December interactions as well... ("Christmas Day dawned wet and sleety. Sensing that this day was extra special...")
zirconium: photo of pumpkin on wire chair (pumpkin on chair)
I had planned to wear my old cobweb cloak and gloves to the office tomorrow, but they are not where I thought I'd stashed them. I did find the bat-decorated kerchief a groomer had tied around my dog's neck a decade ago, which may suffice as a hair decoration.

One of tonight's reads: A Dance Like Starlight: One Ballerina's Dream (text by Kristy Dempsey, illos by Floyd Cooper), a picture book that takes place in 1951 and leads to a night at a ballet featuring Janet Collins, the first African American prima ballerina.

Upper Rubber Boot's 100 Untimed Books prompt 39: far away

100 untimed books - far away

Prompt 40: electronic

100 untimed books - electronic 100 untimed books - electronic

Prompt 41: strength

100 untimed books - strength

(Picked this one up a week or two ago from the library sale shelf. Fifty cents. Bathtub reading!)

Prompt 42: greener

100 untimed books - greener

Prompt 43: honey - see previous entry

Prompt 44: swords

100 untimed books - swords

The book is Dorothy L. Sayers's Gaudy Night, which has been responsible for several longtime friendships as well as the fact that even old friends of the BYM sometimes use that acronym in sending their love to him through me, which is apparently what happens when blogging has been one's main vehicle for staying in touch with said friends since 2000. Lord. Gaudy Night is not one of my desert island books simply because so much of it already resides in my head, which is how it sprang to mind when it was time to think about whether I had any books referring to swords (though I now have to laugh at myself for not going straight to either copy of Cyrano de Bergerac).

The World War II bayonet was among the possessions of the late father of a former student of my honorary big brother, and probably belonged to her grandfather (Air Force), great-uncle (Navy), or great-aunt (Marine drill sergeant!). My friendships are indeed a fount of entertainment and wonder.
zirconium: photo of flask with feathers in and around it (flask with feathers)
(borrowed after lingering with the ones at my favorite wine store...)

Minette's Feast: The Delicious Story of Julia Child and Her Cat (Abrams, 2012) - text by Susanna Reich, illustrations by Amy Bates (pencil and watercolor)

The Grand Mosque of Paris: A Story of How Muslims Rescued Jews during the Holocaust (Holiday House, 2009), by Karen Gray Ruelle and Deborah Durland DeSaix -- the illustrations were "created with oil paint applied with brushes, paper towels, and all twenty fingers." The artists' command of line, color, and texture is impressive, and I could study the results for hours. (The story is too text-heavy for story hour, in my judgment, but the academic side of me appreciates the presence of both documentation and an index, even for a forty-page picture book.)

Charlotte in Paris (2003), Charlotte in London (2008), and Charlotte in New York (2006) by Joan MacPhail Knight - contrived but nonetheless cute fictional journals, with cameos by real people like Julie Manet, Mary Cassatt, John Lavery. and Paul Durand-Ruel. Had these been available when I was Charlotte's age, I probably would have fantasized about being Charlotte's best friend; now, I want to find time to read more about the adults and look at more paintings. Coincidences: reading about Henley 1895 the same evening a friend in England happened to be moaning about Henley 2014, and just now I was reminded about the sheep dyed yellow in honor of the Tour de France when Charlotte and her father deliver a package from Edwin Austin Abbey to Frank Millet. It contains several tubes of cadmium yellow, and Millet explains why he keeps running out of that color: "At certain times of day the entire village looks as if it's been dipped in golden honey -- including the sheep."
zirconium: Photo of Joyful V (racehorse) in stall (Joyful Victory)
1. My poem Spelling "For Worse" is up at Goblin Fruit, in both text and audio formats.

1a. I am keeping right fine company on that TOC. :-)

2. Merrie Haskell wrote a novel called Castle behind Thorns. It's about to emerge, it has earned a starred review in Publisher's Weekly, and it will be a Junior Literary Guild selection. (Her second published novel has been collecting recommendations and awards, too, including "the 2014 Schneider Family Book Award winner for middle school for its depiction of a person with a disability.")

3. The Velveteen Rabbi will be reading her poetry in Jerusalem. I am so excited for her!

4. Making manuscripts reader-friendlier. Go me!

4a. Having the chops and experience to recognize typos (especially in Spanish) I wouldn't have caught five years ago.

5. Ripe cantaloupe and canned quail eggs. For when one works flat through dinner and then needs something that doesn't require cooking (i.e., stink up the kitchen) right before bedtime.

6. The sumo tangerine I picked up at a store last week. It was an indulgence, but it was also a great conversation piece, and I am about to candy the peel.

7. Having a dog that gleefully hoovers up vegetable scraps. (I am less enamored of her fondness for snacking on potting soil, but that's because it makes her wheeze.)

8. It is sunny and 55 F here right now. I'll be spending most of the day with spreadsheets, but I think I'll first sneak out for a walk.

9. Particle Fever! (And yes, I wore my CERN jacket to the showing.)
zirconium: US and POW-MIA flags above Andrew Johnson National Cemetery (US/POW flags)
I came across This Place I Know: Poems of Comfort last month, while looking up Karla Kuskin in my library catalog. Each poem is paired with an illustration by a different artist. You can see some of the illustrations in this Candlewick Press PDF, including one of my favorites, Chris Raschka's depiction of New York City. It's next to Ann Turner's "The Beginning," which opens with

This is where it begins
like God really lives in New York
and he opens his hands, PRESTO!
there are subway trains
churning through the dark
and Brooklyn Bridge swaying
all its lights like ribbons...

And the line "dogs running underfoot / like bits of escaped rug" -- oh, hee!

Another pairing I especially liked was Margaret Tsuda's "Commitment in a City" with a painting containing dozens of people (as well as some dogs and cats and birds) by Jill McElmurry, whose work I now definitely want to see more of (her new book, Tree Lady, is about "the first woman to graduate from the University of California with a degree in science," Katherine Olivia Sessions). The ending of Tsuda's poem:

... You are part of my city,
my universe, my being.
If you were not here
to pass me by,
a piece would be missing
from my jigsaw-puzzle day.
zirconium: snapshot of cookie cutter star from sorghum marshmallow making (Default)
It's a touch dated (published in 1982), but I am thoroughly charmed by The Philharmonic Gets Dressed, a picture book by Karla Kuskin and Marc Simont. (The link should take you to the publisher's website, which has a "look inside" feature.) There's a cat watching its owner reading in the bath. There are various performers showing, powdering, hunting for socks, pulling on boots, waiting for trains, tuning tympanis, etc. Sometimes I just want a book that revels in the process of getting ready. This fit the bill.

[It is perhaps not a coincidence that preparation has been much on my mind lately. Among other things, it is the month of Elul...]

[ETA: the books listed on the back jacket include The Dallas Titans Get Ready for Bed. That one is totally going on the someday list...]
zirconium: photo of ranunculus bloom on my laptop (ranunculus on keyboard)
The difference between being a writer and being a person of talent is the discipline it takes to apply the seat of your pants to the seat of your chair and finish. Don't talk about doing it. Do it. Finish. - a quote from Houghton Mifflin's page about ELK

Julian Singh on "the holidays"

Another Julian Singh statement: "Chops is to magic what doing scales is to a chanteuse. Without it you cannot be a magician, with it alone you cannot be an artist."
zirconium: snapshot of cookie cutter star from sorghum marshmallow making (Default)
wild strawberries
wild strawberries near a utility meter

Sometimes I have to point out to myself that the reason I need a nap is because I didn't actually get enough sleep. Today has been one of those days. But it was a wonderful nap, and the rest of the day wasn't shabby, either: I spent the morning helping out with a vaccination event, which included great conversations with two students (one pre-med, one pre-nursing) and the mom of an actor, plus some nice perks (a free flu shot, snacks, a t-shirt, and an Au Bon Pain gift card); dealt with some errands; and stopped by the Frist (thank you, Smithsonian!)-- the Carrie Mae Weems exhibition is immense, and I'll need to go back to take it in properly.

Also, the big roses facing Broadway always cheer me up whenever I manage to notice them.

I'm spending the rest of the weekend mostly working, but the stack of library books is also calling to me. Of the books in the "To Return" pile, I especially enjoyed Grandpa's Soup, a picture by Eiko Kadono and Satomi Ichikawa. Ichikawa is one of those clever illustrators who create secondary narratives in the background that a more casual or hurried reader might miss -- in this case, the changing contents of the vase next to Grandma's empty chair. I also liked the changing shadows in the screen door of Grandpa's kitchen.
zirconium: photo of pumpkin on wire chair (pumpkin on chair)
Today's subject line comes to you from a picture book, Ian Falconer's Olivia and the Fairy Princesses. During a recent Q&A in the NYT, Falconer advised other authors "not to underestimate your audience. Children will figure things out; it's what they do best -- sorting out the world."

The man means it. The dedication of the book reads, "With deepest apologies to Martha Graham," and there's a two-page spread in the middle of the book of Miss Olivia in eighteen poses à La Graham. I cannot even.

(And, later in the book, the phrase "corporate malfeasance" shows up. Talk about not talking down!)


zirconium: snapshot of cookie cutter star from sorghum marshmallow making (Default)

April 2019

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