Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Wonder and amazement

Even though I live with and for books I don't much talk about what I'm reading here. Compared to a friend of mine who reads very critically, I don't think myself up to par in the ability to intelligently critique. I simply know if I like a book. It's pretty simple. If I take the time to finish it, I liked it. Life is short...getting shorter by the I don't spend time reading something I don't enjoy and then certainly I don't talk about it if I didn't like it.
I found this book, written by William Joyce. It's a children's picture book. That's my business, I am employed to read and share books with children. I love it. When I saw the reviews for this soon to be series of the Guardians of Childhood, I was intrigued. I called my local children's bookstore and asked for a copy to be held for me.
It's been a long, long time since any picturebook did to me what this one did. I have my favorites, certainly, and most assuredly favorite authors. But the very idea for this book is what I needed to see.
Mr. Joyce has decided that children need to believe in heroes again and has chosen the guardians of all of our childhoods, to tell their backstory, of their struggles as young people before they became the icons, the guardians, of our childhoods. We will never forget until our dying day Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, Sandman, the Man in the Moon, the Tooth Fairy and Mother Goose. No matter what, we will always know what they meant in our lives. Forever and ever.
This first book, The Man in the Moon is stunningly beautiful, imaginative and spellbinding. I know, because I read it to three third grade classes and one fourth grade class this week. Of course I gave it a huge foot stomping introduction but they fell into mesmerized open mouthed awe as I read it.
I stopped at the page with the balloons. The Man in the Moon, as a child, realizes he is not alone after all when he discovers there are children on earth and he knows this because he collects the lost balloons that floated out of their hands when let go. And because a child touched the string, he could listen to their thoughts and dreams and fears through the balloons. This page stopped me in my tracks. Not one child sitting at my feet questioned that. Usually they do, if there is something just too fantastical about a story. I stopped. Stared at the page. Stared at them. "Who knew?" I asked. "How many of us have lost a balloon and watched it travel up, up, up and out of sight? Who knew this was where it went?"
I told the kids I didn't want to put this book on the shelf because that meant I couldn't look at it any time I wanted to. I knew I had to share it with them, I said, but I don't want to let it go.
The series of books on each of the Guardians will include picture books, illustrated chapter books (Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King will be published Oct. 4) and film. I'm a tad disappointed about that because this would make a first class addition to any bookshelf as a set. But when you see the illustrations in this one, you'd understand Mr. Joyce would not live long enough to finish this series. It's stunning.
The Guardians of Childhood - The Man in the Moon by William Joyce. Treat yourself to the wonder of it.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

weekend wonders

It looks like a bit of prehistoric surgery, doesn't it? It's just Patient Husband demonstrating to the girls how to open a coconut. I told him it looked like overkill but he was ready for anything that nut sent his way.
He decided on the saw. I talked him into the beach towel for a padded work surface.
This is a girl after my own heart. I feel the same way when PH puts a tool in his hand! Duck and cover!!
And true to Adelaide's spirit, she was right in the thick of things.
She even ate a piece. Always suspecious we are trying to foist a piece of fruit on her, she believed us when we told her this wasn't fruit and she could eat it.
But the ice cream the evening before was the best. She will be two years old this coming weekend and won't acknowledge it's her birthday. She keeps saying it's Elizabeth's birthday. I explained to E. that A. doesn't remember her first birthday but she does remember E's fourth birthday just a couple of months ago,and so in her little mind, it's E's day. She did know what color ice cream she would pick for her party. "Blue!" so Grandpa bought a gallon to take home and hold for the big day.
Saturday we took them to a potter's studio to see "another kind of art." This potter also happens to own over 150 different kinds of fowl including turkeys, geese, ducks, chickens and peafowl, the girls were having more fun than ever running among the flock, picking up feathers. Here E. is asking, "Mr. Turkey, did you happen to lose one of your feathers? If so, I have it here." They heard a rooster crow 'for real.' "Huh!" Elizabeth said, "now I heard a real rooster and he didn't say cock-a-doodle-doo at all! It sounded like this" and proceeded to crow a bit more life like. We crowed all the way home, windows down on a beautiful fall day. Adelaide's crow sounds more like a screech owl so it was quite a symphony.
They sang a duck song to these ducks as they waddled away from what they assumed would be pettings.
We brought home a dozen eggs, some brown, some white and one green. Adelaide claimed the green one for lunch.
We had fun, they said they didn't want to go home, we miss having them now that school's started and we're back into it.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Soccer Saturday

Yesterday we travelled to watch Charlie play soccer, give dollycake cheek kisses, and oh, by the way, visit with their daddy and mommy. It was such a beautiful fall day, perfect for some games and visiting. My son and Patient Husband were a little perplexed because some serious college football games were going on but thanks to cell phones that can do anything nowadays and at lunch a sports restaurant with a zillion big screen tv's, they kept up.
Charlie is on the far left. It might just be the moment before he scored a goal! He was SO excited he came running off the field to get hugs from all of us!
Here's our little guy, from cleats to cheeks!
And this is our little dollycake. She is just 13 months old and now that she can walk she's everywhere Charlie is...including trying to get out onto the soccer field with him. Bluest eyes I've ever seen.
Can you even believe her one year picture? Such a little dollycake!!!

Friday, September 16, 2011


It's almost fall here. Besides the obvious signs, lengthening shadows, songbirds are gone, winds from the north, the bittersweet is ripening. I love this vine. The berries are green/yellow at first, and as the vine leaves start to turn yellow and the berries plump it's the sign it's time to cut some vines.
It grows in one of the fields in the neighborhood. And I covet the spot. If you bought one sprig of this in the farmers markets you pay a king's ransom for it. I know people who would never ever reveal 'their spot.' I'm quite particular about MY spot. Patient Husband and I take the lopers and wear heavy shoes when it's time to climb into the brush and up a tree or two to cut this little beauty.
When it's brought into the house those yellow berries open up and reveal a beautiful little orange berry inside. It's so fall looking. I strip the leaves off the vines and just drape them here and there throughout the house. I'd like to perfect my technique and do a wreath but the berries like to fall off if you're not careful.
This year a neighbor drove by as we were harvesting. We've always managed to cut the vines without detection. She stopped to ask what we were doing. Ugh! Caught! I tried to evade the question. She's too smart for that.
Yes, I gave her some vines when we were finished. The field IS right next to her house, after all.
Happy fall!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Quiet weekend

It was a long holiday weekend here and Patient Husband and I found ourselves alone with no visitors nor anywhere to go, so while he watched lots of college football I decided to use the last five days of summer vacation to work hard on some projects that haven't seen much action for awhile.

First up was this CrabApple Hill design ( Embroidery reads: Over the River and Through the Woods to Grandmother's House We Go) that's been sitting in a drawer since last October when I made all of these flying geese by hand at a retreat. So...I sewed them into the border strips, attached them to the quilt and decided it needed more size so added another border. It's now 71 inches square. After laying it on the floor to gaze at before it once again found itself folded in a drawer, Patient Husband declared he liked it but it was different from what I usually do. I like different. It feels very fall to me. The embroidery was done by my mom.

She did beautiful work! I have a drawer full of quilt squares she embroidered for me just waiting to be put together.

Another close up......

Oops...just realized this picture is sideways...but you get the idea....I really like the fabrics I used to make the geese. They give just a little color to a basically two color quilt, and I used up lots of scraps (and bought some, too!)

Project two: It took awhile but I figured out the placement of that darned center flower on the red quilt I've been cutting hundreds of leaves for. I figured it out and I have a plan. I got the leaves down and the center flower down. There was no pattern for this so I had to do a lot of figuring from looking at the photo of the quilt.

Everything is a bit crinkly because the iron is on strike right now. It works when it wants to.

Somewhere in this whirl of activity I decided to make four Christmas pillowcases for the kids. I'm deteremined to work off my stash and I must have dreamt this project because I didn't need another one this weekend, but after finishing the second border on the flying geese quilt this morning I rummaged through the drawer for this candy cane fabric and whatever reds I had enough of. I think they'll like these!

AND I finished rereading A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I wanted to finish it before the weekend was over and staying up late a couple of nights, I did it.

The weather turned. It's really quite chilly with a brisk north wind that's whipping the waves on the lake into a fury, but it's good for walking and riding the bikes and we roused ourselves to do that so we didn't sprout roots to our chairs.

That table in the top photo is now empty, the machine put away and I feel good about the progress and if I spend the rest of the autumn sewing on leaves or making yo-yos then so be it. With school starting now I can use the big library tables to baste three quilts, including the geese, so they'll be ready for quilting. Maybe not so many new projects for awhile. Maybe.....