Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween

The boys in Sylvan's class made a fairy village at school.
Andy Goldsworthy, are you looking for 6 year-old collaborators?
This is the fairy graveyard (Halloween-ish, right?):
And now for something completely different:
One hundred-plus carved pumpkins, to light the way on the All Hallows Eve Walk tonight:
Check out these raucous fellows!
Have a spooky night!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

This Morning

The view from my kitchen window this morning, 7-ish.

This fall, as you may have heard me mention, I am reading All-YA, All The Time. Yup, in honor of my middle school practicum at the Camden Rockport Middle School, I have set aside all adult books for later. I have read a variety of "boy" and "girl" interest books at higher-maturity and general audiences levels. I have recently read a couple that qualify as Outstanding, and I know this in part because I am still pining for the characters.
Julia Gillian (and the Art of Knowing) by Alison McGhee is a perfect "Bridge" book. (I'm working on a list of Bridge Books right now, as part of my project for the practicum. Bridge Books are books that help kids make the leap into more complex and longer chapter books, from the beloved Magic Treehouse series, Junie B. Jones, Clementine, etc.) Julia Gillian is an expert at papier-mache mask-making, she's not a fan of reading, she wants to master the claw machine (and get the meerkat!), and she walks her big dog around a specific 9 block radius from her apartment each day. She doesn't like it that her parents read depressing stories from the newspaper or that they are busy with their graduate studies (both are teachers) the summer that we meet her.
Julia Gillian is a quirky character, with the fears, frustrations, and disappointments that come right along with being 9-10ish. This isn't action-driven, but it's very compelling. She is a girl who is at ease in her community. I love the fact that her parents let her embrace her 9 block world, with very clear limits, especially since I sometimes encounter risk-averse parents who hesitate to let their children cross the street alone in tiny little Camden, Maine. (Oooh, can you tell this makes me a little passionate?)
My Most Excellent Year: A Novel of Love, Mary Poppins, and Fenway Park by Steve Kluger had me crying and laughing. It's an older teen novel that centers around three main characters and is told through their letters, IMs, and emails. I was not prepared to have a wet pillow at the end of this book, or be bereft for days afterward! Sometimes the whole letters/emails/IMs thing in storytelling feels like a cheap gimmick, and I was a little leery going into it. So it's the story of Tick, his brother Augie, and a new girl, Alejandra. Tick and Augie decided to be brothers back when they were seven, and Tick's mom had just died. The fact that Augie is Chinese-American and Tick is Caucasian doesn't enter into their discussion.
It's pretty clear to everyone who knows Augie that he's gay (lover of all things theatrical, belting out show tunes from the age of 2, etc.), but Augie is just now coming to that conclusion himself with his first crush. Tick would really like to date Ale, but she initially won't give him the time of day. So far this is sounding like so many other teen novels, right? For me, the astonishing thing about this book is how Kluger manages to write the "teen problem" book with humor and realism, and how these three teens ultimately succeed because they are connected to and supported by each other and to their family members (real and adopted).
My one beef: The cover is way too girly! This is truly a boy/girl crossover book, and yet it will be a hard sell for boys seeing the swirly Mary Poppins font and the twinkly stars on the cover. Do book designers READ the books they make covers for?! Kathy and I have some open-minded 8th grade boys in mind, but honestly, I will feel compelled to apologize for the cover.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Maine Libraries Conference

This is what happens when we close for two whole days at Rockport Library. People still come and return their books!

On Saturday, this pile by the bookdrop greeted Jenni and me when we came into the library. And you know what, folks have been very gracious about our closure. Many have voiced support that they are glad our staff is being supported this way. One patron told me she didn't know about the closure and got very concerned when she saw our closed doors, hoping it wasn't a result of tighter budgets. Well, it's not! But please, please keep telling your town officials and legislators how much your library means to you.

The conference was relaxing and wonderful and busy and my brain is still digesting what I heard about there. (And I am still catching up on my sleep.) I attended workshops on Web 2.0 (more than just Facebook,, LibraryThing, but also Voice Thread and more), Nonfiction Readers' Advisory (RA is what we do when we help you find a book you are looking for), ALA's Kids @ Your Library Campaign, Y.A.D.A (a youth/adult initiative to build a better community for empowered youth in Lewiston), and that's just the beginning.

On Thursday night I set up my table of art supplies (magazines, papers, scissors, stamps, markers, etc.) for any willing and interested librarians to come and make ATCs with me. There were about 15 folks who stopped by and maybe 10 or so who sat down and made a couple of cards. They liked it when I told them how low/no-cost and intergenerational ATCs can be. Andy told me the next day she even dreamed about ATCs after making her very first card! And I sold 5 copies of The Great Library ATC Swap!

We heard state senator and Freeport Library Director Beth Edmonds speak, as well as Kate Braestrup (our patron!), Rosemary Herbert (also local and a mystery author), and Ellen Wittlinger (YA author who addresses GLBTQ issues as well as just plain universal teen issues). And while there were certainly highlights from all of our speakers, Ellen's speech really moved me. Her books, in the words of her husband, are about "how art saves us." So much more than just more teen problem books.

I came back inspired to call myself a part of this community of Maine librarians.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

I'm a Winner!

I'm a winner because I have creative children who use tires to make their own fun. So if you drive by and look at my yard, don't think we are unkempt because you may see plastic sleds and rope, tires and stepladders and bicycles strewn about. Be happy for us because we are good-hearted people who sometimes use our things in unusual ways.

I also won my first Blog Giveaway from My ZoeBug, in honor of Amy's birthday! Well, yay, I got a lovely gift certificate to Amy's etsy shop. (Her birthday and I got a present!) And after a lot of deliberation, I decided on this lovely hand-embroidered felt bird...I am already seeing it on a future bag.
But that's not all...She also included some sweet handmade cards featuring owls. Amy, did you see my owl bag and know I am having an owl-love thing right now? So great. Thank you so much, Amy!
And I am also a winner because Robinsunne came to the library yesterday and gave me a hand-made, crocheted, autumn leaves-colored vessel:
She held three strands of yarn and I love the way the diagonal pattern of the single-crochet stitch becomes really noticeable, when you have a nice light color there like the orange.

And get this: Robinsunne is holding an All Hallows Eve Blog Party. The vessel above is featured at the party! You should go have a little look-see. It is so lovely, full of gnomes, fancily-dressed ladies, delicious treats, and even a "party favorite." Beautiful job, Robinsunne! And thank you!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

ATC News

This week I am taking ATC-making to the Maine Libraries Conference in Bethel, Maine. I will have a table with supplies at the ready during the schmooze time on Thursday night. I am hoping some colleagues will stop by and take an art break, as I am sure our brains will be overloaded from a full day of inspiring programming. I will have a copy of Robinsunne's book to show (and maybe a couple for sale...), The Great Library ATC Swap, and will be happily chatting up the success of our program at Rockport Library!

And do you know the really exciting part? I will be away overnight and having a delightful break from all of the reminding/cajoling/nagging/lunch-making/grocery shopping/huge piles of laundry/morning meltdowns/evening irritabilities, etc. It's not really as bad as all that, but I am ready for a break.

100th Post Milestone is not too far off...
And I would like to do something special to celebrate.

Recently, I participated in my first-ever ATC Jam. This is how it works:
  • One person makes three backgrounds, writes his/her name on the back, and then passes those three cards on to the
  • Second person, who adds something similar to each of the three cards, writes their address on the back of the three, and passes them on to the
  • Third person, who adds the finishing touches to each of the three, then sends them all back to the original person.
  • The original person sends each of the other two people a finished card! So we each end up with one card from the edition.
The cards, when complete, should not necessarily be identical triplets, but look identifiably like siblings of the same biological family; in art-speak, we call this an edition. So, you can see in these backgrounds I have started that they are all similar. You might decide to add a colored-pencil border around your three, when you receive them. Or perhaps the same rubber stamp flower to each card in the set.
Here's where you come in. I have some folks in mind (Jes, Robinsunne, Carrie, Erna, Emily, Ana, Kimberly/Carly, Jenny/Ella, Milly-Molly-Mandy, Tricia, Joanie) who I would love to play with here, both making art "together," and then sharing it with other friends. Kind of a more fun version of a chain letter. And I always love receiving real mail in my mailbox, even better if it's art in there! Would you like to receive a set of three backgrounds to add to? It's easy because you are responding to what is already there, not just a blank card, and you are also only responsible for a small part of creating it.

Leave a comment if you are interested in trying this out with me, with your email address or other contact information if I don't already have it.

If your name is listed above, consider yourself invited to participate, but still leave a comment to RSVP. And if your name is not listed...Please consider this invitation is for you, also! I would SO LOVE to send off three backgrounds to those readers who stop by from exotic locales like Kuala Lumpur or Australia!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

New Apron Alert

New book, new inspiration. Simple Sewing by Lotta Jansdotter has many easy projects, perfect for beginners. And I love her fabrics, styling, and book design also! This is the Reversible Apron, and I made it for someone who is special to us. The book was a gift from Fairy Sewing Godmother Joanie.
The person in the picture must be a tiny sort, because her waist ties droop down way more than mine do. Hmm, next time I will add 5 or so inches more to the waist ties.

Isn't it fun to see that fabric from last post, right here transformed into an apron?? The only glitch I had with the above is that the side panels on the "pear" side were cut out upside down...I just hadn't thought through my strategy well enough. But since it's not super-noticeable I went with it, and lesson learned.

Finally, more inspiration in the wings:
This adorable apron and pattern was featured in Mary Jane's Farm (Summer 2008), and sent along to me by mail by sweet Marcia! Yay and thanks! I am already scheming my next apron adventures...

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

New Fabrics Update

Supporting local fabric stores is good, too! Recently I have acquired MORE fabrics for my stash, through Quilt Divas (Rockland) and On-Board Fabrics (Edgecomb) who are local AND have an online store also.
Hold onto your hats, here comes cuteness. I'm thinking of making some bookmarks (inspired by Erna's) with these two fabrics, as we are all readers around here, and they'd make good presents. These came from Joanie, that sweet friend and supporter of my new hobby.
Yes, little French idioms and tiny little graphics on this one:
Hedgehogs and little ladybugs and I don't need to say more, as you already know about my hedgie obsession:
(Amy Butler on the above left.)
A full day at home for me today, no driving, no work, no kids, and I have already done my school work. Next stop: sewing machine...Being at home alone always feels like a vacation to me.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Full Fall Day

Green Smoothie Part II
Remember my Green Smoothie Experience from my last post? Well I wanted to show you how my yummy 2nd Green Smoothie turned out. This time I had mostly chard (rainbow, the chocolatey brown leaves) and only a little kale (the first one was too kale-y), a banana, thawed strawberries from our local organic U-Pick, and water. Tomorrow, I will try it all again and go work out. Hmmm, a little fresh pineapple?
Sylvan Rides Again
Sylvan and George, our local adopted Grandpa and also our plumber, took an excursion by motorcycle to the Owl's Head Transportation Museum to look at some old cars and were gone most of the day. Sylvan even got to ride in a Model T! Here is our little dude in his riding gear:
Bye, Mom, and they were off.
While Sylvan was gone, we three wanted to do something in the lovely fall weather.
I wanted to hike, but was out-voted by some golfing fans. Not being a golfer (more of a bowler), I took along my knitting.
(New socks on the way for Jake, two-at-a-time method! Do you love this Kaffe Fassett yarn or what?)
But I did try out one hole. It was OK, but not better than knitting. Mostly I was just happy to watch for balls flying into piles of leaves, being with my boys out in the sunshine. Jonas had some great shots.
Scarecrow Contest
Then we hustled over to our local breakfast place/farmstand to find out the results of the Scarecrow Contest, in which Jonas and Sylvan had an entry called Two Brothers. Awww.
They didn't win. But no one was too disappointed, and the Brothers will stay on display til Halloween.

And there were plenty of Delicatas on sale (79 cents a pound!), my favorite squash. A little butter and maple syrup makes them even better.

I'm ready for bed!
Good night.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Picking Greens By Moonlight, Boys, Bags, and More

Well, it was me and the small guys this week---Jake was out on a tiny island with his middle schoolers in the beautiful fall weather, looking at the ocean through the trees of the campsite.

One boy made it into the newspaper, in a story highlighting Soup Day (Tuesday) in his kindergarten class. We feel lucky when we ( and I am using the Royal "we" here) remember to bring our vegetable contribution.

Here is a birthday present for Sylvan's friend who is having her 6th birthday tomorrow!

The colors are such gorgeous pinks and purples, sadly they are a tiny bit washed out here, but the lighting was tricky. And I finished a small bag to hold those monthly Girlie Items for the sweet daughter of my friend and gave it to her today---in the same fabric as the above bag. Carly's bag has a flap and velcro and I gave it away without taking a photo of it. Simple and so fun to make.

And I shopped my own Stash to make these lovely wristers from a Knitty pattern called Fetching. I love shopping the Stash. These were quick to knit, out of a merino Filatura Di Crosa yarn---super soft and warm. I added an extra cable at wrist and at knuckles to fit my hands better. I made these to wear at work at the library because no matter how high we have the heat, sometimes I can just never stay warm on certain days and my hands freeze while at the desk. Pris, you'll know what I mean! I'm hoping these will help keep the fingers toasty while still able to clatter away at the keyboard.

Green Smoothie Part I
Last night, I was really inspired by Heather's recent post about Green Smoothies. I really like reading her blog and since I have bundles of chard and kale still hanging on out there in the garden I decided to try it this morning. Actually, I was so inspired that after reading the post I went out to the garden and picked my greens by moonlight, knowing that I would NOT keep my motivation if left til this morning!

So I whipped up kale, chard, an apple, and frozen blueberries and strawberries, with water to thin it, and swirled it up in my Whisky-Frisky (aka Cuisinart, since I have no high tech blender). Jonas recommended that if I were selling it, I might want to consider adding food coloring to make the drink look more palatable. But the rich dark purpley-brown color was fine by me and I thought it tasted yummy, even with no sweetener or dates. Full of fiber, veggies, fruit, and totally raw.

The best part: I think it was the perfect thing to eat before my workout. I have been in search of the "right" thing to eat on workout days...not wanting something too heavy, but something that will fill me up in a not-too-full way. I felt terrific all morning.

Will have photos soon...

Monday, October 6, 2008

E's Hat

Shhh, it's a birthday present for one of Jonas's good friends who has an October birthday! She is a colorful girl who I'm pretty sure will appreciate the whimsy here. The pattern is from the book Knitalong by Larissa and John Brown. What you're seeing, above, is the Meat Head hat. I had this crazy variegated nubbly Italian merino (bought at Liberty of London, sigh), just a little of the ball left, so I added this to a strand of orange Brown Sheep Bulky (wool/mohair) with it. Then I realized I was going to run out of the lovely Italian nubbly and then alternated one row of Orange + Nubbly with one row of Orange + Hot Pink (also Brown Sheep Bulky). And, happily, it worked out!

Fast to knit, and it will hopefully be 1) Cozy to wear in a Maine winter, and 2) A nice beacon for identifying the wearer while she zooms down the ski slopes!

And stayed tuned for my first pair of wristwarmers, which will hopefully be finished in time for work tomorrow!