Tuesday, December 30, 2008
The number 9 is synonymous with longevity in Chinese culture (hope that bodes well for the longevity WHERE THE MOUNTAIN MEETS THE MOON!), so 2009 is a year to think of long term ambitions. Here are 9 of my personal goals for the year (some are a little less aspiring than others):
1. Write a new good novel. Make books without any excuses-- work that I know that I have done to the best of my ability so that it doesn't matter what anyone says.
2. Grow my hair at least 3 more inches so I can donate it. This is actually kind of hard, because my hair is driving me a little crazy. I haven't had it this long for a while.)
3. Charity. Robert's Snow is a project that I am proud of but, not only is it too much responsibility for me to take on again, it is also a project of the past that, for now, I want to leave in the past. But I feel strongly about my art and charitable giving...so I'm working on a new project that will be revealed in the new year. Stay tuned!
4. Make dumplings. This is something I haven't done since I was a child with my mother. If I remember correctly, they were far superior than store-bought ones. I think this is a good year to find out if that is true.
5. Participate. I read a fair amount of blogs and lists but I never comment. I rarely even respond to comments on my own blog. I guess I am still in a weird-shy-lurking phase...that I will get over this year.
6. Do every school visit to the best of my ability. I've booked quite a few visits this spring, and I am SO grateful and honored that schools have requested me. The only problem is that sometimes my introverted nature takes over and students, schools, librarians and teachers begin to blur. I am going to make a special effort to check myself this year.
7. Learn how to make a frosting flower. I really want to get some impressive cake decorating skills down!
8. Embrace marketing, but know my limits. In this current climate, I need to give my books all the help they can get. I don't want to be QVC salesperson, but I'd like to get as many people who might be interested in my new book know about it.
9. Be thankful. No matter what this year brings, I know there will always be something to be grateful for. With thankfulness, nothing is ever that bad and the best things are even better. And that is something I hope stays with me for a long, long time.
This year instead of focusing on personal resolutions, I decided to make a list of all the art projects I've been meaning to do, but always put aside so I can focus on writing and painting books. What I'm realizing is that if I don't do those other projects, my writing and illustration will suffer, I need to dabble more to feed my inspiration! So here are some of my artistic goals for 2009. I may not get to all of them, but I like the idea of starting a list so that I can do them, eventually.
- Start a series of pet portraits (along the lines of this painting I did for a friend's wedding).
- I'd like to do some little paintings on miniature square canvases of trees and flowers in interesting color palettes.
- I'd like to do more sewing. Its something I grew up doing quite a bit, but again always something that gets pushed to the bottom of my creative list. In particular I'd like to sew little animals like these, and maybe some table runners with matching cloth napkins.
- I'd like to learn an animation program, and animate some of my drawings. I've had an idea about flying cats thats been flapping its wings in the back of my brain for a long time!
- I'd like to do more drawing from life.
What are your artistic goals for 2009?
Friday, December 26, 2008
This wasn't really the first day of Christmas, but it's the day it started to feel like Christmas. On the day before Christmas Eve, Adam and I walked into town to choose a Christmas ornament for his best friend, a tradition started by their parents when they were babies. Then we had hot chocolate at the icecream shop over the drawbridge, and he asked for "Abraham stories."
I was a little puzzled so he prompted me: Lincoln's sons and the naughty things they did. I told some. Then we just chatted and I asked if he'd ever been to the Christmas pageant with live sheep a church here has. He didn't know what a Christmas pageant was.
"They act out Mary and Joseph in the stable -- the shepherds come (with their sheep), and The Three Kings --"
"I don't know who any of these people are," Adam said.
So I started to tell THAT.
"Is this a true story?"
"Well, lots of people believe it. Millions, in fact."
Of course, I don't think religion should be taught in the schools; but I think kids are missing something if they don't ever even hear these stories. My parents, who were not religious, didn't tell them, either -- but I learned them somehow, maybe from reading, maybe at my English boarding school; and having them in my head (even though I've never been able to believe in them either) has given me something that it's hard to put into words. Could schools here teach them AS stories -- not just the star and Jesus, but all the instruments in the world playing when the Buddha was born and other stories like that, one from each major religion or continent, maybe?
The day of Christmas was with my mother and one of my sisters; one of the things we did was look at old photographs. Here is my mother as a little girl:
and this one of her in college:
It was from a newspaper, and the caption said: "Co-ed Sally Rumble finds it easy to sell homecoming ribbons to..." My sister and I were both quite amazed at this view of our mother!
And now it's the third day of Christmas, and I plan to celebrate by writing -- or rather, rewriting: finishing a novel so that on Epiphany it can go out into the world for real. Writing it, finishing it, does feel like a celebration because for the next ten days I can write without interruptions -- and when it is done, I can start something new.
I plan to celebrate each day of Christmas, and part of that celebration will be to light candles and look at my decorations -- I bought the garland, but picked the berries myself.
There are 3 children's-book-related ornaments: a snowflake from Grace,
and the orange fish and little bell are from a store where Pamela Zagarenski is the main buyer. This is where Adam got HIS ornaments and he chose an orange fish like mine, only with more glitter.
By Naomi Shihab Nye
Once with my scarf knotted over my mouth
I lumbered into a storm of snow up the long hill
and did not know where I was going except to the top of it.
In those days we went out like that.
Even children went out like that.
Someone was crying hard at home again,
raging blizzard of sobs.
I dragged the sled by its rope,
which we normally did not do
when snow was coming down so hard,
pulling my brother whom I called by our secret name
as if we could be other people under the skin.
The snow bit into my face, prickling the rim
of the head where the hair starts coming out.
And it was a big one. It would come down and down
for days. People would dig their cars out like potatoes.
You can read the rest of the poem here
At Wild Rose Reader, I have an original rhyming acrostic poem entitled Chameleon.
Tricia has the Poetry Friday Roundup at the Miss Rumphius Effect.
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Just a few days ago, Sara and Jerry got an adorable kitten they named Rudy. Jack loves Rudy, pushes him around on the floor with his nose, and likes to lick his belly.
Here is my holiday post of Sara and her pets at Christmastime!
I mentioned that my friend Julia secretly knows how to do Irish dancing... so then in usual McCarthy fashion, there was a competition to see who could do it better. Um. Yeah. How about no one?
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
I tried many ways to wean myself off of eating all these cookies, including drinking vanilla tea, until finally I decided that my tree which was decorated mainly with origami needed cookie ornaments. And cookies covered with acrylic glaze cannot be eaten!
I've kept them for tonight to decorate. I thought at Christmas Eve, I'll paint them pretty and put them on the tree. Maybe it will be my new Christmas Eve tradition!
Happy holidays everyone! This year we are not traveling, so we decided to get a tree! In lieu of xmas decorations (of which I have few), we mainly decorated the tree with ribbons, cards and wrapping...
On the top a paper flower:
In tribute to Beatrix, a Peter Rabbit ornament:
A sweet little ornament Grace made (it says "Hen Harmony"):
And next to the tree, George and Wilbur sleeping soundly:
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
So each holiday I like to make a little something for the publishing folks I've worked with that year. This year it seemed fitting to pick an activity from my craft book, What Can You Do with an Old Red Shoe?, since I spent much of the year working on it. Sadly many of the projects are not easily shippable (I was definitely not going to send a dozen little red shoes in the mail), so I thought I'd make some good old recycled crayons. Who doesn't need crayons after all?
First I gathered up my bits of crayons from past art classes taught, and melted them in my oven. Then came the fun part, splattering them into ice cube trays:
Here is the result, in their imperfect glory (it is good for perfectionists like me to do something messy now and again):
I got some little envelopes from Paper Source and covered them with my web site stickers:
Then packaged up the little guys so they were all ready to go:
This is what my ice cube tray looked like after:
It was not, unfortunately, the only thing in my kitchen to get melted, colored wax all over it (the stove, counter, pans and the floor got their fair share)... but like I said, its good therapy for someone like me, who spends quite a lot of her time sitting in front of a computer or painting teeny tiny pictures of bunnies.
Monday, December 22, 2008
I think many of you have already seen this article from the Washington Post with the headline "Plot Twist: The Newbery May Dampen Kid's Reading." The article basically asks if the winning books have recently been so "complicated and inaccessible" so as to turn kids off of reading. The article continued the debate that raged within the kidlit community after former Horn Book editor Anita Silvey posted a similar article in School Library Journal titled "Has the Newbery Lost Its Way?" back in October.
I can't say that I've agreed with every Newbery choice recently. And I can't say that it hasn't become a bit of a joke trying to predict which book is going to win. "It'll be a book we've never heard of," we say within publishing circles. Then again, I don't generally get to read enough published books during the course of the year to make an educated guess. But in a way, I think that's part of what makes the Newbery so valuable. It introduces to the world a worthy book that may not have received any recognition otherwise. And as an editor who loves quiet, literary books, books that may not have much commercial appeal, I'm thankful. Because I know there are kids out there who love those kinds of books, and I want to be able to continue publishing them.
I think the Newbery committee does an amazing job with such an incredibly difficult task. Say what you will about the winners, but I doubt that you'll ever be able to claim that a Newbery winner or honor book has been badly written. In fact, I'd wager that you'd have to say that all of the winners are finely-crafted works of art. Not without flaws, of course, but at the very least, well written.
I took considerable offense at how these stats were used, put right in the second paragraph of the WSJ article:
Of the 25 winners and runners-up chosen from 2000 to 2005, four of the books deal with death, six with the absence of one or both parents and four with such mental challenges as autism. Most of the rest deal with tough social issues.
Umm, since when were "issue" books considered not child-friendly?
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Grace: I am so in love/envy of the picturebook The Pet Dragon. It's an introduction to Chinese characters using an adventure story about a girl and her runaway pet dragon. It is the best book I have ever seen to get kids interested and excited about Chinese calligraphy; I wish so much I had thought of it.
Elaine: I loved Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian—and I like all of his poems that I have read on the Internet. I decided to buy three of his poetry books for myself for Christmas: First Indian on the Moon, Old Shirts & New Shirts, and One Stick Song. They were delivered this week—along with Calvin Trillin’s Deciding the Next Decider: The 2008 Presidential Race in Rhyme.
Calvin Trillin writes political verse for The Nation. Here’s a link to my Wild Rose Reader post Deciding the Next Decider--and Other Political Verse by Calvin Trillin. The post includes an excerpt from Trillin’s book—as well as links to some of the political verse he wrote for The Nation and to a video of his appearance on The Daily Show.
Friday, December 19, 2008
A few days ago, David's parents awoke to find this word soaped on the downstairs bathroom mirror, in David's handwriting. FUCK, there it was. I hope that doesn't offend the sensibilities of our readers.
David's parents were appalled; and shocked, too. As his mother said to me, "It seemed so out of character." David is a child who likes to do things by the rules.
His father said,
"What were you thinking? You knew we'd see it."
David couldn't really answer this question. After much debate between the parents, David's father determined the punishment. David would have to write a three-page paper explaining:
a) why he had done it
b) why it was a bad thing to do
c) how sorry he was
d) why he would never do that -- or anything like it -- again.
David is eight. When he read the completed paper, David's father said:
"That's a keeper."
I haven't seen this paper -- I was over there tonight, but David's mother didn't want to look for it - she had hidden it, and said that if David knew they were saving it, he'd rip it up. The gist of a) was that "he just felt like" doing it. Do you think that's all there is to it? I kind of think there may be more to it than that (but maybe not, I really don't know).....the other night we were at a party -- David and I were probably about equally bored with the other guests and spent most of the time playing with each other. Towards the end of the evening, an adult said, in that fake high voice lots of adults use when they talk to children, that she hoped David had a merry christmas.
David looked up at her, smiling innocently, and said, in the same sort of fake cheery voice,
"I hope you don't."
She didn't react in any way -- I don't think she heard him. As he has said to me more than once, "They (meaning adults) don't listen."
WEll, they listened to the message on the mirror.
While children are dreaming of toys, dolls and ponies,
From Think Progress and The Wonk Room
Bush’s Backward Sprint to the Finish
Excerpted from a post at Think Progress: In its “sprint to the finish,” the Bush administration is working tirelessly to promulgate or alter a wide array of federal regulations that would weaken government rules protecting consumers, workers, and the environment.
I've finally put up a preview for the ASTRONAUT HANDBOOK. Check it out!
I might add some more pages if I can the green light. Also, these were from PDF files and the art/text wasn't quite done yet... but you get the idea.
I hope to put one up for Seabiscuit soon.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Ki-Ki's Merbunnies! Aren't they cute?
I also wanted to sell cookies or cupcakes but as I was recruited into the Merbunnie factory, it was a dream not meant for this year's sale. Next year!
But other than that, this years sale was very much like the sales I have attended in the past. Ki-Ki, as usual, was repeatedly assumed to be me. I have come to the conclusion that she just looks much "artier" than me. It must be my advanced years:
And I spent just as much money buying other peoples' goods than selling my own. Though it is a good deal, usually artists sell their goods cheaper at these sales than they do in the retail market. And the money goes directly to the artists...and all artists need money. (See how I try to justify my frivolous spending?).
This year I bought a painting from Gregory Poulin. If you remember, last year Anna traded him for painting of garlic. Well all year, every time I went to Anna's house I would see that painting and think--I should get one. So I did. Of course, I went for the opposite end of the tastebud spectrum. I do have a bit of a sweet tooth.
I also made a huge splurge and got these beautiful waterlily earrings from the jeweler Elise Moran. I really wanted the necklace too, but restrained myself.
There were about a dozen more artists that I wanted to buy things from as well, like the beautiful gingko leave pottery from Three Wheel Studio:
The cool cookie belts from Glitterlimes:
and the sweet collages from friend Karen Bessette:
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
I've spent I don't know how long updating my blog... it's all about the trip to Arizona, complete with lots and lots of photos... so please check it out! The story about the drawing on the wall will be there. I promise. It's just too hard to repeat myself.
Monday, December 15, 2008
Most of the trip went very smoothly except for the last part, where my (I guess it was the Lupus) flared up and I almost puked in a parent's car and then puked in a librarian's house at least three times and proceeded to lay on her bathroom floor in agony until I got driven back to the hotel, and while on the way I managed to puke again and get vomit all over me. I feared that I'd have to cancel my flight back but miraculously I was okay the next day.
Did I mention that my life sucks?
The last photo is of my sister and the tour guide. We went horse back riding on my day off, which was fun. We also checked out a small rodeo and I was VERY temped to try it out for myself--no qualifications and only 30 bucks! Of course a small voice inside my head said I may break a bone so I thought it wouldn't be responsible since I had to get up at the crack of dawn and do four school talks the next day. But then another voice said that I'm sick all the time so why not break a bone. Who cares? Anyway, I didn't ride a bull. I did the responsible thing.
Sources at the school says that after receiving complaints from an as yet-to-be-identified person or group, the school district ordered students to return the book to the chairperson of the English department who then personally tore out pages 64 through 70 before returning the books to students. Ironically, news of the school censorship first broke during the same week as the school district's annual Literary Festival.
-In Hamlet, the death of Ophelia was referred to as an accidental drowning, omitting the suggestions that she may have intended suicide.-In Macbeth, Lady Macbeth's famous cry "Out, damned spot!" was changed to "Out, crimson spot!" -"God!" as an exclamation is replaced with "Heavens!"
-In Henry IV, Part 2, the prostitute Doll Tearsheet is omitted entirely; the slightly more reputable Mistress Quickly is retained.
Friday, December 12, 2008
Here’s a poem I found yesterday at American Life in Poetry. It was written by Russell Libby who lives in Maine. The poem, Applied Geometry, seems most appropriate for posting at this time of year.
From Applied Geometry
By Russell Libby
measuring the height
of a pine from
Rosa's shadow stretches
seven paces in
low-slanting light of
late Christmas afternoon.
One hundred thirty nine steps
up the hill until the sun is
finally caught at the top of the tree,
let's see, twenty to one…
You can read the rest of the poem here.
At Wild Rose Reader, I have three Christmas acrostic poems today.
I also have three clerihews that I wrote for Tricia’s Poetry Stretch this week.
The Poetry Friday Roundup is over at Wild Rose Reader today.