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1. Mystery Eggs

Why do long holiday weekends go by so fast? Probably because I try and cram so much into them. And did I ever cram this weekend.

The garden is doing great. I picked so many peas this week I couldn’t keep up and had to start freezing them. This makes me very happy because I love peas so much and now even after the peas are done producing I will have some for a little longer especially since I have only just begun picking them.

Black raspberries

Black raspberries

Last week I mentioned the black raspberries were turning red, well, once they go red, they don’t take but a couple days to turn black and ripe. So I have started picking. The netting has done well to keep critters away. I have never had black raspberries before and was expecting them to be a bit tart like the red ones but they are slightly sweet, rich and kind of earthy, if that makes sense. Very tasty. Since this is only their second year there aren’t a huge amount but there will be enough to make into something, so as they get ripe I have been picking and then freezing them. Once they are all ripe we’ll see how much there is and go from there. I like them very much and may just have to plant some more in the chicken garden.

Last week I said I wasn’t going to bother to pick the elderberries but I changed my mind. I picked about a dozen very ripe berries and then froze them. The gooseberries are starting to get ripe and I even have a few



red currents, so I am freezing all of those too. I figure between gooseberries, currents and elderberries I might be able to cook up a tasty bit of jam. Why is it that so many berry bushes have thorns? The black raspberries have tiny ones but they will still get you if you aren’t careful. The current has very tiny ones that are just big enough to get your attention. The gooseberries have big, dangerous thorns that hurt like heck. When I am picking them I sing a little song called “Ouch” over the shrub. It has not yet drawn blood but I suspect it is only a matter of time.

I picked a bunch of radishes this week too. I had some sliced up on my tempeh sandwich today along with broccoli sprouts and a little mustard. So tasty! When picking radishes I realized I have to get better at thinning. I had thinned them but not aggressively enough which means much smaller radishes in spots where they are crammed together. If I had thinned them better I would have fewer radishes but the ones I did have would be much, much larger. I had to thin the beets and I think I did a better job at it. We shall see.

Looks like snake eggs but is really a fungus, darn

Looks like snake eggs but is really a fungus, darn

Here is the garden mystery of the week. Bookman was weeding and found a nest of eggs. They were in an especially sandy part of the garden and all together in a clutch, each one about the size of a walnut. What could have laid them? I investigated. They are white, felt firm and smooth but a little leathery. They look very much like snake eggs. So I did some snake research. Minnesota has 17 different kinds of snakes and of those only nine lay eggs. Of those nine two are very rare. Of the remaining seven because of range and habitat I was able to narrow down the possibilities to two. I decided that it wasn’t a gopher snake because they like to eat rodents, frogs and small birds and our garden isn’t exactly a prime food source for those critters. Squirrels on the other hand… So I decided the eggs must belong to a smooth green snake that solely eats insects, especially crickets of which we have an abundance. I was so excited about the prospect of having snakes in the garden that I’d go out an check on the eggs every evening to see if they had hatched.

Today when I checked on them I discovered that they aren’t eggs at all! It turns out they are a species of fungus called mutinus elegans, also known as elegant stinkhorn, dog stinkhorn, headless stinkhorn and, my favorite, devil’s dipstick. We’ve had the single red fruiting stalks pop up around the garden last year but they are in abundance this year. Turns out the red stalk grows out of the white eggs. When I checked on the “snake eggs” today, there were a number of the red stalks growing out of them. Fungi are good and this one is a rather weird, if rude looking one (Bookman says they look like a dog’s penis, which is true and which also might clue you in on why one of their common names is “devil’s dipstick” wink, wink, nudge, nudge). Still, I can’t help but be disappointed that I won’t be mothering any baby green snakes.

We’ve had a setback with the chicken garden, the area formerly known as garage. Bookman and I went out with rakes to rake up the sand into a pile and get to work on breaking up the compacted soil beneath. It turns out the one place we had dug beneath the sand is just about the only place in the entire area that has actual dirt under it. The rest really is nothing but sand. Well and so, there is more work to do to than previously thought. How does one go about turning sand into soil? One must add lots and lots and lots of organic material. To begin, we set up the old round black plastic compost bin we took down from the main garden last year when we built a two room post and wire bin. Good thing we saved the old plastic bin! We put it in a spot close to where we think we might plant a cheery tree next year. Since our two room bins are full we have already begun adding to the plastic bin.

Before the garage came down I was assuming there would be dirt beneath it that would need help and bought several different annual cover crops. I don’t know if they will grow in sand. An experiment is in order. I marked off an area and seeded some buckwheat. If it sprouts in a week or so I’ll mark off a few other areas and sow more. If the buckwheat doesn’t sprout I have some hairy vetch and winter oats I can try. If those aren’t successful then an inquiry into having topsoil delivered is in order and/or raised bed gardening until the soil in the whole area is generally improved. No matter how you look at it, those chickens are going to have their work cut out for them. Actually, all they have to do is poop, all the work falls to me.

We have the fence installation arranged but the work is 6-8 weeks out on their schedule. In the meantime, we are in the process of ordering the shed kit and arranging its delivery. Then we get to build it. Once the shed is up we’ll start work on the chicken coop. Huzzah!

I can happily report that Astrid and I are crash free this week! My scrapes are healing and my bruises have reached that oh so very colorful stage. It was nice to not add any new ones. It also made for a better ride. I am really liking “my route.” This week I thought I would add a bit more distance but instead decided to keep the same distance but just do some sprint intervals in a great section of trail that is paved, flat, fairly straight, wide, crosses no vehicular intersections for a several miles and is not crowded with slow moving cyclists or people out walking their dogs. It worked out really well and I had fun and was pleasantly tired when I got home. I’m looking forward to doing it again next week.

In spite of the summer warmth, Bookman has been getting out on evening rides with me a couple times a week. As long as he keeps moving he doesn’t overheat and doesn’t feel the fatigue (both are MS symptoms). We have a 22 mile/35 km route we’ve done a couple times that seems to work well for him.

We had been planning on doing the half-century route In October at a ride in Mankato, Minnesota but it is close to an hour and half drive to get there so we decided to do the 60-mile route at Jesse James Days in Northfield which is less than an hour’s drive from us. Plus 60 miles is a metric century so that’s something! They have a 100 mile /161 km route that we will do next year. The Mankato ride offers pie at one of their rest stations which is a great temptation, but the Jesse James ride has free massages at the end. If only there were a ride with pie and a massage that would be be oh so heavenly.

Filed under: biking, gardening Tagged: blakc raspberries, chickens, cover crops, Elegant stinkhorn, Jesse James Days, smooth green snake

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2. The lineup for the inaugural Mississippi Book Festival…

Mississippi Book Festival logo

…is taking shape. And I’m pleased to say that I’m among the authors who will be participating in Jackson on August 22.

Where better for me to share The Amazing of Age of John Roy Lynch with the public than in the city where he began his political rise?

In 1868 the US government

“In 1868 the U.S. government appointed a young Yankee general as governor of Mississippi. The whites who had been in charge were swept out of office. By river and by railroad, John Roy traveled to Jackson to hand Governor Ames a list of names to fill those positions in Natchez. After John Roy spoke grandly of each man’s merits, the governor added another name to the list: John Roy Lynch, Justice of the Peace.”

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3. 48 days, day 21-22: what's asking for expression

{{ I am chronicling 48 days of writing before my July 31 travel. If you are chronicling your summer writing/days and would like to share, please link or comment so we can all cheer one another through. Strength to your sword arm! }}

Jim: "We are ready for an ice age."
Jim's brunch at Homegrown this morning with family.

out-of-focus bean blossoms. too excited to focus well. bean blossoms!
the cosmos! the cosmos! the cosmos! -- not carl sagan
jelly bean tomatoes growing in the front yard flower bed. WE ATE THEM. yes we did.
moving ferns to the rocks next to the new walkway. to the right is that ice-age of wood. it is stacked in such a way that I can take a shower outside and use the wood as one of my shower walls.
john mullin and jim discuss matters of great importance.
 Shhhh. Finally. Let me not torture myself with why it took me three weeks to settle into words, lots of words, on the page, lots of hours at the page.

Let me not ask why-oh-why I am not writing Book 3 or revising Rachel, but am instead writing an essay about growing up in Mobile, Alabama, where I was born and lived until I was five, and going, at night with all the lights shining in the inky dark, to a tiny dirt track in the middle of nowhere with my father, mother, and brother, to the stock car races.

Let me not question good writing energy. Oh, let me just gather it to me and go go go. GO GO GO. It feels so good to be creating something. Something that didn't exist before this moment. What power that is, what empowerment, to pull from thin air (moments, memory, meaning) something that makes me lose track of time.

I must remind myself that nothing is wasted, that it all connects, somewhere. You wouldn't know it to hear me tell it:

1. We got our last cord of wood from John Mullin and spent the drizzly morning stacking it and visiting with John. John -- who services our cars and grows the best tomatoes and sells firewood and god-knows-what-else -- was 21 and in the Navy in 1969, stationed at Floyd Bennett Field in NYC. He was on one of the many helicopters that landed near Yasgur's Farm and delivered food, water, and medical supplies to the revelers at Woodstock. Our conversation ranged from Woodstock to NASCAR to barbecue to water management to soil sweetness. By the time John left, the sky had cleared and we had beautiful weather for the Fourth -- and I didn't have to water.

2. I started reading about Woodstock and segued into Los Angeles in 1969 (since I will BE in Los Angeles at the end of this month), got off on a tangent about "courtyard housing" which is coming back in L.A., which led me to thinking about the courtyard housing I lived in when I was single and poor and raising my first two kids, and that led me to A PATTERN LANGUAGE by Christopher Alexander, one of my favorite books in the world, and the book I used extensively as I renovated this house (and yard).

3. I decided "Courtyard Housing" would make a great name for an essay. Or a book of essays. Hahahahahahaha.

4. I wandered back to NASCAR -- John will watch two races this weekend while he eats his bbq, sitting in his garage, watching his big-ol' television, bay doors open front and back, fans whirring, nobody's car to fix, Happy Fourth! I can hold my own, in the early talk of NASCAR. I spent two years in Charleston, South Carolina in high school, and all the boys talked about was the Yarborough family, especially Cale, and the Allison Brothers and Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt.

5. Didn't I go to the races as a little girl? I did. I remember it clearly. I might have pictures somewhere. The last race of the night was a demolition derby. They'd wet down the field for it. Where was that? Mobile? Outside of Mobile? ::check for dirt tracks around Mobile in the late fifties::

6. "Demolition Derby" would make a great title for an essay. From the beginnings of the family I grew up in, to its rather spectacular demise. I cut my writing teeth on essays and memoir -- it's all I wrote, when I started out, and I have a file cabinet full of clips from magazines and newspapers, a bookcase full of inspiration.. ::pull my favorites off the shelf::

E.B. White, Noel Perrin, Russell Baker, Sue Hubbell, John McPhee, John Burroughs, Donald McCaig, Pat Leimbach, Betty MacDonald, Barbara Holland, Anna Quindlan, Donald Hall, Andy Rooney, Erma Bombeck (Yes. She was good.). This is the kind of essay I wrote, full of love of the natural world, home, family, kinship, connection, and belonging. Sounds like my fiction....

7. So this is what I began to write in earnest on Saturday, with Rachel right beside me, staring at me.

Shhhh... I whispered to her. Let me not question this. Let me write what's asking for expression.

What's asking for expression right now?

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4. ‘Bartkira: The Animated Trailer’ Pushes Bartkira Meme to the Next Level

The 'Bartkira' meme goes to the next level: an animated trailer.

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5. ‘Amaro and Walden’s Joyride’ by Tim McCourt and Max Taylor

Meet Amaro and Walden, two rowdy boy racer-hipsters who don't give a bleep.

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6. #711 – What This Story Needs Is a Pig in a Wig! by Emma J. Virján

coverWhat This Story Needs Is a Pig in a Wig

Written & Illustrated by Emma J. Virján
HarperCollins Children’s Books
32 pages      Age 1—3

“What this story needs is a pig in a wig on a boat with some friends having fun in the sun–So come on board! Join Pig on an exciting boat ride where she discovers that life is a lot more fun with more friends.”[back cover]

NOTE: This review is a tad unusual. It mixes my traditional review format with interview questions asked of the pig in a wig.
What This Story Needs Is a Pig in a Wig will instantly remind you of dear ole Dr. Seuss. The author employs fast-paced writing combined with simple, but effective, rhymes young children will love to hear and repeat. The narrator sends Pig, wearing a stunning pink wig—what is with that wig—sailing the moat in a boat. Why would a pig wear a wig? Well, I asked Pig and she said (rather emphatically),

“Wigs are fun and I’m a pig that loves to have fun!”

If you venture to Pig’s website—and I do suggest you do—you will find Pig is not simply a pink wig gal.


Back to the story: One by one, the narrator adds a menagerie of interesting, kid-friendly animals to the boat in the moat. A frog, a dog, and a goat on a log join Pig in her wig. But there are more. A rat, wearing a cool hat, sits on a trunk—belonging to an elephant—with a skunk, who is with a mouse in a house. I was beginning to wonder what other animal could possibly be added to the small boat in the moat, when Pig yelled at the narrator. I asked Pig why she stopped all of the narrator’s fun. I thought it was very exciting having rhyming animals set sail. Pig had a different point of view:

“It was getting crowded, too crowded — a frog, a dog, a goat on a log,
a rat in a hat on a trunk, with a skunk, in a house, with a mouse AND
a panda in a blouse? It was more than my little, pink boat could handle.”

Pig is right, the small boat is crowded. So, beginning with the Panda—she performs a cannonball—the narrator reverses course, sending the animals out of the boat and into the moat. Once they leave, the narrator changes the story:

“What this story needs
is a pig in a wig,
on a boat,
in a moat,
having fun,
in the sun,
on her own . . .”

Now, all alone in her boat, Pig is sailing the moat. I think Pig is lonely and realizes she enjoyed her new animal friends. So the pig in a pink wig called for her new friends to return. Taking charge of the narration, Pig decides what the story needs . . .

im 1

Pig in a Wig, is a fun story young children will love to hear. The rhyming is simple, yet smart and witty. Kids will be reciting Pig in a Wig and, hopefully, figuring out their own rhyming group of friends. The illustrations are clean and engaging. Many pages hold surprises, such as a pig snout rug, Frog doing a hand-stand, and Dog and Goat holding hands. Dr. Seuss would love Pig in a Wig, which happens to be the same size as an iconic Dr. Seuss book. The simple story will charm young children during story time at school or a library. What This Story Needs Is a Pig in a Wig is so much fun to read I hope to see Pig in new stories.

I asked one last question, wondering, with all those charismatic animals on board, who is Pig’s favorite passenger. She said,

“Well . . . none were my favorite at the beginning, as they were all getting
in my way of having fun in the sun! At the end though, ALL of them were
my favorite, with Goat on his log being my extra, extra favorite.”

WHAT THIS STORY NEEDS IS A PIG IN A WIG. Text and illustrations copyright (C) 2015 by . Reproduced by permission of the publisher, HarperCollins Children’s Books, New York, NY.

Purchase What This Story Needs is a Pig in a Wig at AmazonBook DepositoryApple iBooksHarperCollins Children’s Books.

Learn more about What This Story Needs is a Pig in a Wig HERE.
There are Coloring Sheet HERE
An Activity Guide HERE
And a Teacher’s Guide HERE

Pig in a Wig’s website:  http://emmavirjan.com/pig-in-a-wig/
Meet the author/illustrator, Emma J. Virján, at her website: http://www.emmavirjan.com
Find more engaging picture books a the HarperCollins Children’s Books website:  http://www.harpercollins.com/

Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved

Review section word count = 453     

Full Disclosure: What This Story Needs is a Pig in a Wig, by Emma J. Virján, and received from HarperCollins Children’s Books, is in exchange NOT for a positive review, but for an HONEST review. The opinions expressed are my own and no one else’s. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Filed under: 5stars, Children's Books, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Picture Book Tagged: beginning readers, Dr. Seuss, Emma J. Virján, HarperCollins Children’s Books, phonetics, Pig in a Wig, repetition, rhyming picture book, swimming in a moat, What This Story Needs Is a Pig in a Wig!

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7. 8 Tips on Book Promotion and Getting Reviews - Part 9

0 Comments on 8 Tips on Book Promotion and Getting Reviews - Part 9 as of 7/5/2015 2:48:00 PM
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8. Stats from the Slushpile: A Decade of Dreaming

Hello again, slush fans. As anyone who's seen my Museum of Me series will attest, I like to keep hold of stuff from my past and inflict it upon share it with my loyal readers. Now that I've been writing seriously for a decade (actually slightly more, but 10 & 3/4 years didn't sound as good) it felt like time to take stock of my journey so far. And what a journey it hasn't been. Well, not in

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9. Food truck

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10. Refrain

Sittin' on the back porch;
Sun is sinkin' low.
Nowhere that I need to be
Or that I want to go.

Radio is playin' tunes
I'm happy to be hearin'.
No one's noises from next door
Are loud or interferin'.

Food leftover tasted good;
Beer was dark and heady.
There's a smile within my heart;
Whatever comes, I'm ready.

Weekend worked out wonderfully
Despite a day of rain.
Life should always feel like this - 
Repeat - that's the refrain.

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11. Mat Johnson’s Pym

PymEdgar Allan Poe is one of few authors by whom I’ve read everything, at least everything available, including his literary criticism. I was obsessed with him for a while, and in an alternative life where I get a Ph.D. in English Literature, I might well be writing academic papers on Poe (and Hawthorne, and Melville, and maybe Irving).

The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym is easy to pick as Poe’s biggest failure. It is his only attempt at a novel, and falls short even there, with a series of loosely connected episodes that lack continuity and a proper ending. The problems don’t end there. It is also Poe’s most damningly racist work. Though racist caricatures appear in his other tales, this is the one most informed by Poe’s pathological fear of non-whiteness. However, it also proves to be one of his most influential works, figuring explicitly into subsequent works by some of his biggest admirers, particularly Jules Verne and H.P. Lovecraft.

The hero of Mat Johnson’s Pym is an African American scholar obsessed with Poe, and especially with Pym. This singular obsession with white authors (and a refusal to serve on the diversity committee) disrupts his academic career, but a series of coincidences leads him on his own fantastic voyage that parallel Poe’s Pym, encountering much of the same…. experiences.

It is simultaneously a pastiche and a critique of Poe, but an effective satire of current American culture: academia, pop painting, junk food, you name it. In some ways it is an academic novel, wise and winking in literary references, casually name-dropping major pieces of the black canon including ones that white readers like me didn’t know about (Equiano, Webb) mixed in with the more obvious ones to the source material (one nod to Lovecraft made me laugh out loud). But it would work without one knowing literary history, purely as adventure/horror and humor. And of course it is book about race itself; a critical reflection about whiteness and blackness both literal and figurative.

I love everything about this book. It centers me in the black experience of America as effectively as Ralph Ellison, and gives me a fix of sharp satire that reminds me of being fourteen and discovering Kurt Vonnegut. It pushes my buttons as literary nerd, but is enjoyable purely as a great yarn.

The American literary canon is racist and sexist because our history is racist and sexist, but what do we do about it? Pointing out the problems is necessary, but doesn’t suggest where to go next. I’m not a big fan of expunging literary history; that itself becomes a kind of whitewashing. Besides, I think there is value in Poe, in Twain, even in Margaret Mitchell. I would rather read those books, then read these creative critiques–books like Johnson’s Pym, or Alice Randall’s The Wind Be Gone–that critique and re-create and re-center the narratives, that subsume and overtake the source material.

I think Johnson takes on a particularly problematic text to show just how brilliantly this can be done; it makes me grateful for Poe’s Pym because it makes Johnson’s possible.

Filed under: Miscellaneous Tagged: mat johnson, poe, pym

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12. Double Dipping – Picture book therapy

When medical conditions affect children or the people in their lives, one of the most daunting aspects of their situation is how to cope. The management of a disease or disability is one thing, the understanding why they have it and why others react the way they do is another. Picture books are marvellous non-invasive […]

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13. “Literary employments are so vexed with uncertainties”

“…I found the July days fly fast, and it was not until I felt myself confronted with too great pride and pleasure in the display, one night, of two dollars and twenty-seven cents which I had taken in during the day, that I remembered a long piece of writing, sadly belated now, which I was bound to do. To have been patted kindly on the shoulder and called “darlin’,” to have been offered a surprise of early mushrooms for supper, to have had all the glory of making two dollars and twenty-seven cents in a single day, and then to renounce it all and withdraw from these pleasant successes, needed much resolution. Literary employments are so vexed with uncertainties at best, and it was not until the voice of conscience sounded louder in my ears than the sea on the nearest pebble beach that I said unkind words of withdrawal to Mrs. Todd.”

—Sarah Orne Jewett, The Country of the Pointed Firs

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14. Bachmannpreis

       The Ingeborg-Bachmann-Preis -- where authors read their texts in front of an audience and are publicly judged by a jury -- concluded with Nora Gomringer taking the prize with her text Recherche (warning ! dreaded pdf format ! and: German !).

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15. Mecha Gorilla....One Day......

Meca Gorilla is something I think the Japanese will know!  Not that any Japanese read CBO.  But, one day, when I strike it rich with that Black Tower Super Hero movie....I'm gonna get me this toy.

Got a problem with that?

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16. illustrated rants from the Kingdom of Stupid

Lately, many of my pictures are kind of illustrated rants, which don’t feel appropriate for this blog full of children’s illustrations and stories. So…ahem…welcome to my other place, where I can rant freely, offensively and obnoxiously about some of the glaringly obvious ridiculousnesses (a new word) in this brave new world. To visit, just click on the pretty queen…


Filed under: pigeons, poetry

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17. Cartoon Network’s Imagination Studios Encourages Children To Create Original Ideas

Major network creators like Rebecca Sugar and Ben Bocquelet will participate and teach children how to create cartoons.

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18. Minions Get A Fine Art Makeover (Poster Gallery)

“Ceci n’est pas une banane.”

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19. “And Then She Ate the Wolf: Volume 1″


New to Amazon…BUY TODAY!


A touch of whimsy, dash of dark, and ample sarcasm, this edgy new series is to be enjoyed by adults, or rather, those who refuse to grow up.

There is much more going on behind my eye-catching character artwork from Instagram than mere captions have cited. I am excited to share the tales and backstory to each, and truly bring to life the people behind those big eyes life!

This art and short fiction just can’t be fully enjoyed squinted and crammed down to a micro-scale IG frame…now you can stop squinting, OPEN YOUR EYES and BUY TODAY!!

It delights me so to hear what you think, so kind readers, send the good, the bad, the twisty or ugly my way by way of review…

For those who enjoy…beware and be pleased this is only the first volume…


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20. 'Warhol by the Book'

       I had a chance to see the extensive and surprising Warhol by the Book exhibition currently on at the Williams College Museum of Art over the weekend.
       I was surprised to see some familiar-to-me covers were by Warhol (The Red and the Black !); see also, for example, the New Directions Blog post on Andy Warhol: New Directions book designer -- and see some other examples at Rare Book Digest, where they report on The Andy Warhol Book Covers that the Art World Overlooked.

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21. Rotary July Fourth or What I've Been Doing Other Than Writing

BAR HARBOR -- Months ahead of the Fourth of July, Ron Wrobel, an accountant by day and Rotary Super Hero and Club Treasurer all the time, began his list, detailing the needs and jobs that it would take to feed tourists and locals at Bar Harbor MDI Rotary’s 44th Annual Fourth of July Pancake Breakfast and Seafood Festival. Then he started recruiting volunteers. Then he started holding meetings, planning, working out the details and then working out even more details. If he ever threw up his hands in frustration, nobody saw it. Even with last minute issues like the increased price of lobster, the need for volunteer t-shirts, and 5,000 other little things, Ron kept his calm, kind demeanor, which is really saying something because the seafood festival is a huge deal.

Bar Harbor is a small town in the winter, but it explodes in the summer with an influx of thousands of visitors who come to the island community to spend the summer and enjoy the Fourth of July, which was voted the #1 Fourth of July celebration in America by the Today Show and has been lauded by other national media like National Geographic and Good Morning America.

To put it simply, the Fourth of July in Bar Harbor, Maine is huge.

It’s a big deal.

A very big deal.

The Bar Harbor/MDI Rotary Club is a huge part of that and every year someone leads us to make it a successful event, donating time and energy that you really can't quantify. This year, that was Ron Wrobel.

Ron surveys the world before the event. Photo by Rena Wrobel.

On July 3, as Boy Scouts joined Rotarians in marking out the field, setting up tents, tables, chairs and hammering in fencing, Wrobel took a pause to survey the work.

“How are you feeling?” Another Rotarian asked him.

“Happy, I feel happy,” he answered, smiling. “I actually really love this.”

There is a goodness in working with a group towards a common goal. There is a fellowship that happens when you haul grills in the hot July sun, as you watch an enormous event come together.  Wrobel understands that. He knows that this festival is a celebration of possibility and optimism, a belief that people can work together to make something bigger than themselves.

And for years, the Bar Harbor MDI Rotary Club has been part of the celebrations, organizing not just a pancake breakfast and seafood festival, but also organizing community nonprofits all around the ball field so that they can raise money for good local causes.  Rotary has historically been the last float in the Fourth of July parade, calling for people to follow them to the ball field to cheer on the MDI YMCA’s lobster races, eat at the festival or just hang out with friends.

We were trying to look British Album Cover Somber like in the 1980s. This is the back of our float in progress.

The Club itself has just under 70 members. Some of those members are well over 70 years old, yet they come out year after year, donating their holiday to a cause bigger than themselves. They clean grills, flip pancakes, decorate a float truck, work cash registers, clean tables, haul food and water and lobsters, stand over steaming French fry buckets, boiling vats of lobsters and mussels and corn.

And for what?

For the Rotary motto, which is “Service Above Self.”  The MDI Rotary Club has traditionally raised between $15,000 and $20,000 annually at the festival, with proceeds going to charitable donations and service projects. Other local nonprofits around the athletic field raise close to $50,000. The entire Bar Harbor Fourth of July's celebrations from our pancake breakfast to the final fireworks is sponsored by people and organizations who are just trying to make things a little bit better for our community, for the people who live in it and visit here. It can be crowded. It can be wild. But that's what makes it good.


Pancakes served up with a smile.
Hauling boxes for days.
Our new president triumphantly serves up her first awesome pancakes.
Even after working all day, our Rotarians are still smiling.

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22. Artist of the Day: Lauren Humphrey

Discover the work of Lauren Humphrey, Cartoon Brew's Artist of the Day!

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23. The Time Machine Audiobook Review

Title: The Time Machine Author: H.G. Wells Narrated by: Sir Derek Jacobi Publisher: Listening Library Publication Date: June 11, 2013 Listening copy via Sync H.G. Wells' The Time Machine is one of those science fiction classics that I just never got around to reading, so I thought listening to a free Sync copy would be a perfect way to finally get around to it. I've seen the Hollywood

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24. Gene Mapper review

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25. Backmatter

Five reasons why backmatter is important in nonfiction.


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