As a fan of local history, I found this volume to be a fascinating and enlightening collection of vignettes on the subject of civil rights in Portland and Oregon at large. These are stories you have probably never heard — stories about the displacement, mistreatment, and murder of the native population, the isolation and domestic [...]Add a Comment
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Blog: PowellsBooks.BLOG (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: Shelf Talkers, Staff Pick, J. D. Chandler, Pacific Northwest, Travel, Add a tag
Blog: (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: Christianity, humor, Life, religion, inspiration, travel, spirituality, Add a tag
After coming home from a service trip to Swaziland a few years ago, I felt renewed, energetic and ready to go again. It wasn’t your average mission trip, we worked hard to prepare a home for abandoned infants, which is a big problem there. I loved every minute of it and started dreaming about another place to go.
You see, I like to build stuff. I’ve been doing it for years and have built almost all of the wood furniture in our house. I’ve finished rooms, our basement, and done some pretty big construction tasks over the years. I even got to build this table that now sits at the missionary house in Heart for Africa. I like to think it will be useful for a good purpose long after I am.
I’m not the guy who is going to go door-to-door or perform street theater – but I’ll pour concrete, remove debris, or swing a hammer. It is wonderful when God marries a talent with a need and grants the ability to go somewhere to serve. When Sudan and South Sudan were splitting apart, I got burdened for the people of South Sudan and wanted to go. That got me started trolling for an opportunity and I found a cool mission group who work with an orphanage there.
I contacted a very nice lady name Rose. Several emails and a few calls later, I learned of a trip with building men like me that was perfect and I began praying about it. I emailed one last question to Rose from my iPad – “Is South Sudan a yellow fever area? Swaziland isn’t and I don’t have that sh-t.”
Whatever I typed, the glorious auto-correct feature from Apple naturally assumed I needed to discuss feces and not an inoculation. I didn’t notice until I got her response and read what I had sent. My mind went into overdrive:
Did I really send that??? To a missionary?? Why yes, yes I did!
Is there a commandment about that? Something about a special place in hell for people who cuss at missionaries?
I thought I should probably let it go, but didn’t want to be ostracized from the trip. So I sent an apology saying, “Obviously, I meant shot.”
I loved her response, “HaHa. I know, I got a snarky giggle out of it.”
Unfortunately, the trip was cancelled due to instability in the country. I’d still love to go there and other places to lend a hand. In the meantime, I’ll watch my words more closely and try to handle surprises that come my way with Rose’s grace and understanding.
Has God married a talent of yours with a need? I’d love to hear about it.
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Blog: Playing by the book (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: Building, Cities/towns, Geography, Jonathan Litton, Learning about the world, Nonfiction, Nonfiction Monday, Pop-up, Stephen Waterhouse, Travel, Add a tag
The adage “Books can take you anywhere” is beautifully exemplified by My Pop-Up City Atlas by Jonathan Litton (@JonathanLitton) and Stephen Waterhouse (@SWIllustrator), a thrilling, whistle-stop tour through 70 cities around the world.
Using pop-ups and a whole host of paper-engineering whizzery to bring to life exotically coloured urban scenes from cities both well known and surprising, this book has given us the dream ticket to travel the globe from the comfort of our sofa and duvets.
This book is no long, dry list of capital cities. In fact, it places locations together by type, creating interesting juxtapositions and taking you travelling via unexpected routes. For example you could travel London-Athens-Luxor-Xi’an-Dawson City (a historical cities tour), or Vatican City-Mecca-Varanasi-Salt Lake City (a religious cities tour). Perhaps Helsinki-San Fransico-Honolulu-Sydney-Cape Town (a coastal cities tour) is more your cup-of-tea. By grouping cities together by type the book explores answers to a question posed on its opening page, “Why do people live in cities?”, and what could have been a boring list of facts instead becomes a story with options and opportunities.
The 3-D city scapes are great fun, with lots of illustrative details partially hidden underneath and beside so that the views of the city are rich from which ever angle you look. We’ve enjoyed looking for photos which show the same city and seeing how closely the illustrations match real life; indeed I think the publishers, Templar, have missed a trick here in that they could have made this an internet-linked book (a little like many of Usborne’s non-fiction) as the facts and images have definitely left us hungry to find out more, amazed and intrigued by the facts and vistas inside this book’s covers.
“Further reading” (online or in a suggested bibligraphy) could also have provided background to the various statements throughout the book which are stripped of any (in its broadest sense) political commentary; mention is made of the Aral Sea and how it has shrunk but the causes of this change are not even hinted at. Likewise it is noted that the Dalai Lama used to live in Lhasa without any indication of why this is no longer the case. Some (adult) readers may feel it is better to leave such things out, but I believe facts work best when they are contextualised and linked to a bigger narrative – precisely why I think the themed grouping of cities works so well in this book.
A well produced, engagingly presented, and exciting book, My Pop-Up City Atlas will make young readers curious and no-doubt spark some wanderlust, quite possibly in their parents as well!
There’s an interesting interview with the book’s illustrator, Stephen Waterhouse here, on Illustration Cloud.
After reading My Pop-Up City Atlas we too wanted our own city to pop up at home and decided the best way to go about this was to use building blocks. But to give things a twist we first put our plain wooden blocks in the oven!
Once warm (about 10 minutes at 160C, starting from a cold oven), we illustrated our blocks with wax crayons, drawing windows, doors and other architectural features.
The warmth of the wooden blocks made the wax melt ever so slightly, creating a lovely feeling when colouring the blocks, and also an interesting effect with the oily wax melting slightly into the wood. Whilst the blocks were warm, it was easy to work them simply by holding them in a dishcloth. If they cooled too much in the time it took for us to decorate them, we just put them back in the oven for a couple of minutes.
Once our set of blocks was fully decorated, we laid down roads on the kitchen table, using masking tape…
And then it was time to start building architectural gems!
In no time at all an entire customised city had popped up in our kitchen. We used wooden blocks we already had (you quite often see them in charity shops), but I did order some more interesting shaped wooden pieces from Woodworks Craft Supplies (who also supply lovely wooden peg doll blanks).
Whilst decorating our blocks and building our city we listened to:
Other activities which could work well alongside reading My Pop-Up City Atlas include:
What books and songs about cities do you and your family love?
Disclosure: I received a free review copy of My Pop-Up City Atlas from the publishers.
Every Monday is a celebration of all things non-fiction in the online children’s book world. If you’d like to read more reviews of children’s non-fiction books, do take a look at the dedicated children’s non-fiction blog: http://nonfictionmonday.wordpress.com/
Blog: andrepace (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: Community, Freshly Pressed, International, WordPress.com, Photography, Roundup, travel, WPrightnow, Add a tag
The WordPress.com community is a truly global phenomenon. With bloggers spread across every corner of the world, the stories we encounter daily in the Reader give us an unfiltered snapshot of the world we share.
Today, we offer you a free round-the-world ticket — through the personal perspectives of people with deep connections to the places that feature in their blogs. From Antarctica to Wisconsin, these eight posts and four photos will give you a taste of each locale’s uniqueness and complexity.
We start our tour in San Francisco, California, where the tech boom that’s made blogs and social networks possible is also leaving entire communities struggling and forgotten. In Where No Google Buses Go, the journalist behind Pueblo Lands gives us a sobering look at the rising inequality in the prosperous Bay Area.
Jumping to the other side of the world, Heather Mason, the blogger at 2Summers, recently led readers on a bike tour of Soweto, the South African township. As it just happened to be the weekend of Nelson Mandela’s passing, we were treated to a first-hand experience of the bittersweet celebration of the life of a national icon.
Deep in the Estonian wilderness, writer Julie Riso takes us on a spellbinding hike through Europe’s largest bog in Soomaa National Park. Surrounded by nothing but mud and silence, her writing channels the ominous, strange beauty of the landscape, and her photography lets us experience this place with our own eyes.
Sue, the blogger behind Brick House, uses humor to cope with some of the coldest weather ever recorded in her home state of Wisconsin. In Ten Advantages to Living in the Frozen Tundra, she celebrates the absence of hurricanes, spiders, and volcanoes from those frigid regions recently hit by a polar vortex.
On the southwest coast of Africa, Namibia-based food lover Christie Keulder introduces readers to the tensions between life in a traditional culinary culture and her passion for modernist, boundary-pushing cooking. In Time for Something New, a visually striking post, she suggests that tradition and innovation can coexist, and sometimes even feed off off each other.
Dan, a foreign kindergarten teacher in Korea, shares anecdotes at once universal and highly local on his site, Das Bloggen. Recounting his misadventures in his school’s restrooms, where privacy is minimal, we share with him a comical moment of culture shock at its most mortifying — and heartwarming.
Documenting what is by now a ritualized cycle of protest and violence, the photographer at Architecture, Urbanism, and Conflict gives an unrelenting and unflinching view of everyday life in Palestine. In a recent photo essay, he follows the pre-scripted stages of a weekly violent clash between protesters and Israeli soldiers, from hurled stones to teargas canisters.
Seemingly far away from all the world’s troubles, Antarctica seems like the final frontier of wild, uninhabited nature. On her second trip to the continent, writer Siv shares its beauty and feeling of absolute remoteness on her blog, Ever the Wayfarer. Her accounts are full of longing for a place she’s about to leave, a landscape that “gets into your soul and stays there.”
You can discover more stories from around the world by entering the names of places that intrigue you — whether around the corner or on the other side of the planet — in the Reader’s search box. You might also consider activating Geotagging on your own blog. You’ll be helping people from your own community (and those who wish to learn about it) seek out your take on the world around you. It’s one more way to make the blogging world and the world-world come together.
If you’re interested in keeping up with what’s abuzz in the community — from a collection of top reads to publishing news and bloggers in the spotlight — subscribe to WordPress.com Weekend Reads, which we’ll deliver right to your inbox.
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Blog: Emily Smith Pearce (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: Culture, Travel, architecture, Mexico, Oaxaca, photography, Add a tag
So, in my last post I showed you some food from our trip to Oaxaca, and here I wanted to show you a little of the town and surroundings. Excuse me if I’m a little picture happy. It was hard to choose.
Above is a street in Oaxaca, to give you an idea of the town. This street happens to be a pedestrian only zone, though I guess bench-sitters get a pass, too. Hey, if I could sit on a comfy pink bench on this street right now, I would.
Below is the Santo Domingo church. Georgeous. Love the landscaping out front, too.
And I’ve fallen hard for the church’s stone walls. The subtle color variations (and size variations, which you can see less well) are making me so, so happy. I think I’m going to have to use that colorway and grid pattern somewhere.
Up next, a convent-turned-hotel. The walls are literally three feet thick. It’s a total dream. I have a thing for thick walls and courtyard gardens.
Here and there, on the former convent walls, you’ll see little bits of painting:
And lastly, just outside Oaxaca are the pyramids of Monte Alban. From the top, the view of the area is breathtaking.
I’d love to show you some of the handicrafts Oaxaca is famous for, but I think I’ll have to show you after Christmas, since several that I bought are gifts for others.
Up next, hopefully I’ll have time to post a few Christmas-themed items. I’ve been trying to be really nose-to-the-grindstone on my writing projects. Back to work for me! Be well.
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Blog: Emily Smith Pearce (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: Culture, Food, Travel, cuisine, Mexico, Oaxaca, photography, Add a tag
So, the secret destination I mentioned earlier was Oaxaca (say “wah-HOCK-ah”), Mexico. I love this city! I had visited once 15 years ago and always dreamed of going back.
The capital city of the state of Oaxaca, it’s like a jewel-box deep in heart of the southern mountains of Mexico, full of stunning architecture, intricate handicrafts, and oh yes, fantastic food.
The top photo was my first meal there, an ancho chile relleno next to plaintain mash with Oaxacan cheese. Surprisingly, it was actually a lot prettier than it was flavorful, but I enjoyed trying it anyway.
Below are the appetizers from that night, including, from the back of the slate platter, cheese, guacamole, and chapulinas. Chapulinas are a Oaxacan specialty—roasted grasshoppers!
Our Mexican friends told us that if you eat one, it means you get to come back to Oaxaca. It would be a lie to say they’re my favorite dish, but I was super glad I DID eat one 15 years ago. So glad, in fact, that I ate several more, hoping I will for sure get to visit again.
Below you see chiles drying at a restaurant where we ate lunch. The set up was unusual—you walk through the kitchen area up to the roof to eat. Sadly I didn’t take pics of the wonderful chicken red mole enchiladas I had.
Mole is a type of sauce involving many ingredients, including cocoa, which was first cultivated in ancient Mesoamerica. There are many different kinds of mole, and they’re not at all sweet, so don’t worry, it’s not at all like eating candy on your meat.
From the rooftop of the lunch restaurant, there’s a view of the historic Santo Domingo church, and we had great seats to see a traditional wedding celebration going out of the church, complete with dancers, costumes, and these enormous puppets that lead the way to the reception.
Lastly, here’s a photo (from the same location) of Caldo de Piedra, or “Stone Soup.” I couldn’t actually eat it, since I can’t do shellfish, but it was fascinating to watch our chef cook it, tableside.
The rocks were heated to such a high degree that when they were placed in the bowls of raw food (shellfish and broth, veggies), the liquid immediately boiled like mad. After a few moments, the liquid cooled a bit, and the chef removed the first stones and added a second hot stone to each bowl.
If you look closely, you can see the beautiful handcarving on the bowls, which are made of what I gather is a kind of gourd.
Delicious foods not pictured: duck tacos, Oaxacan tamales (wrapped in banana leaves), hot chocolate, and eggs smothered in fantastic sauces. Breakfast was not to be missed.
More on Oaxaca to come. Hope you have a great weekend. It’s like 75 degrees here today. I can’t believe it’s December!
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Blog: Here in the Bonny Glen (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: Books, Photos, Travel, Beverly Clearly, Portland, Ramona the Pest, Add a tag
During my visit to Portland last week, my friend Ron took me to several Beverly Clearly sites he knew I’d want to see. Didn’t have to travel far to Klickitat Street, and found a geocache there, which delighted me (and, when I got home and told them, my children). We drove by Beverly Cleary’s childhood home, and the nearby elementary school which now bears her name. Between them was a busy intersection where I imagined Henry Huggins performing his stalwart crossing-guard duties.
Then we wandered over to Grant Park, where the statues are.
Poor Beezus! No statue!
There’s a geocache nearby named after the statues, but we couldn’t find it, despite a diligent hunt. I guess I’ll have to leave it to my kids when I take them to this site someday.
Karen E., naturally I thought of you and your Ramona the whole time. Perhaps our next family meetup should be in the Portland?Add a Comment
Blog: Jen Robinson (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: coming of age, d. j. schwenk, family, grandparents, travel, Middle School, Newsletter, Reviews, catherine gilbert murdock, Add a tag
I loved, loved, loved Catherine Gilbert Murdock's books about D.J. Schwenk (Dairy Queen, The Off Season, and Front and Center). So when I heard that Murdock had written a book called Heaven is Paved with Oreos, for a slightly younger audience, I scooped it up. I didn't even realize until reading a review at Book Nut last week that this new book is set in the Schwenk universe. What a lovely and unexpected gift!
Heaven is Paved with Oreos is told in journal fashion from the viewpoint of Sarah Zorn, best friend and science partner of D.J.'s younger brother, Curtis. It's the summer before freshman year, and Sarah and Curtis are pretending to be boyfriend and girlfriend, so that people will stop asking them if they are boyfriend and girlfriend. But Sarah is a bit concerned about another girl from their class who appears to want to be Curtis' real girlfriend, making Sarah self-conscious about, say, going to Curtis' baseball games. Meanwhile, Sarah's grandmother, who everyone calls Z, invites Sarah to accompany her on a week-long pilgrimage to Rome. The trip turns out to be a bit more than Sarah bargained for, but it certainly contributes to her emotional growth over the course of the summer.
So, basically Heaven is Paved with Oreos is a coming of age story, a book about family, and a book about taking baby steps towards boy-girl relationships. It falls to the upper end of middle grade, I think, given the 14-year-old narrator, and a storyline involving the father of Z's illegitimate child, born some 45 years earlier. But it is absolutely perfect for middle school-age readers, I think.
I fear that some fans of the Dairy Queen books will be a bit disappointed by Heaven is Paved with Oreos, because the content is a bit less mature. But personally, I was happy to be spending time back in D.J.'s universe, however I got there. I found myself reading Heaven is Paved with Oreos slowly, because I was just so happy to be spending time with the characters. D.J. is a character in this book, someone Sarah looks up to and gets advice from. But Murdock is quite clear throughout that this is Sarah's story. It's not necessary to have read the Dairy Queen books to read this one, though it undoubtedly enhances appreciation of the book.
One thing that I especially liked about Heaven is Paved with Oreos is how Murdock handles the journal style storyline. She tells you, briefly and without taking you out of the story, where Sarah is when she's writing each journal entry. There's an entry, then she goes somewhere and writes there, then she goes home and writes there, and so on. This lends an immediacy to the narration that works well. One might think to question whether a fourteen-year-old girl would really sit in a cafe in Rome writing in her journal. But Sarah is a strong enough character to totally pull it off.
I LOVE that Sarah is interested in science. That's the source of the bond between Sarah and Curtis, a mutual fascination with physical science (studying animal skeletons, and so on). She's also just ... secure in who she is. She has things she is working on, sure, but she's happy to eat nothing but vanilla ice cream, for instance, and work on projects that other people think are disgusting. Here are a couple of snippets, to give you a feel for Sarah's voice:
"I wanted to be sympathetic -- Paul looked so upset -- but I could not help being reasonable. Reasonableness is a byproduct of a scientific mind." (Page 11-12)
Oh, I would have been friends with Sarah when I was fourteen. And this:
"Lady Z does not eat anything made with wheat. She says the hardest part was giving up Oreos, but they are made with wheat flour, so even though they are absolutely delicious and perfect, they're out. If I ever stopped eating wheat, I would make a rule that I could only be 99% wheatless. The last 1% I would leave for Oreos." (Page 16).
Curtis is, well, Curtis. For a character who says hardly anything, he still feels completely himself. Like this:
"I nodded. Curtis stared at the floor, but that is not unusual for him." (Page 26).
Lady Z is more complex. I like that though she's larger-than-life (not at all a regular grandma), she's also clearly flawed. Part of Sarah's growing up throughout the book involves coming to terms with the fact that you can love someone even if they aren't perfect. As Z is not.
Fans of Murdock's books about D.J. Schwenk will definitely want to give Heaven is Paved with Oreos a look. I loved it, and plan to keep my copy for when Baby Bookworm is older. There are spoilers for the Dairy Queen books, so even though this newest book is appropriate for a somewhat younger audience, readers unfamiliar with the series may want to wait to read the Dairy Queen books first. I think that the whole series is wonderful.
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers (@HMHBooks)
Publication Date: September 3, 2013
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher
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This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).
Blog: Redeeming Qualities (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: books, 1900s, allan mcaulay, epistolary, janefindlater, katedouglassmithwiggin, maryfindlater, romance, travel, Add a tag
The Affair at the Inn is unusual in two ways: first, it’s a collaborative novel that isn’t a trainwreck. The four main characters are written by four different writers, and I didn’t finish the book with a sense that the writers hated each other, or that the plot at the end was hastily patched together from the ruins of what it was originally meant to be. Second, it’s sort of Williamsonian (alternating points of view, traveling American heiress, Scottish baronet with an automobile) but without anyone traveling incognito. Nothing else about it was unusual, but almost everything about it was very nice.
The four characters and their authors are as follows: Virginia Pomeroy, written by Kate Douglas Wiggin, is the American heiress, traveling around the UK with her invalid mother. Virginia is kind of a flirt, and does her best to attract the only man in the vicinity, Sir Archibald Maxwell Mackenzie. He’s written by Allan McAulay, and is a bit of a woman hater, although Virgina quickly starts to thaw him out. The other two point of view characters are Mrs. MacGill, a hypochondriac widow, and her companion Cecilia Evesham, written, respectively, by sisters Mary and Jane Findlater. I actually found the book while looking for something else by Jane Findlater.
Basically, the book is what you would expect. Mrs. MacGill tries, ineffectually, to obstruct the romance between Virginia and Sir Archibald. Cecilia tries to forward it, but she’s not really needed — Virginia and Sir Archibald do fine on their own.
I liked The Affair at the Inn, but I wanted it to be a little more substantial. Nothing that didn’t bear directly on the central romance was fleshed out at all — everything else was loose ends. Still, I didn’t feel the lack of anything while I was reading it, and if The Affair at the Inn has no ambitions to be anything but fluff — and if it does a pretty good job at that — then I shouldn’t ask for it to be anything more either.
Tagged: 1900s, allan mcaulay, epistolary, janefindlater, katedouglassmithwiggin, maryfindlater, romance, travel Display Comments Add a Comment
Blog: Elizabeth Varadan's Fourth Wish (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: Galicia, travel, trips., Spain, Add a tag
By the time you read this, we will be on our way to Galicia, Spain, to the village and the people that have stolen our hearts. It's a long trip. But stay tuned. I'll be posting about our new ventures soon.Display Comments Add a Comment
Blog: Cathy Hookey Illustration (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: mammoth, kids, black white, travel, drawing, motorbike, craft, Add a tag
I've been a long time silent; I apologise. Since my last post in June(ish) I've been happily homeless in a non-serious-honestly-I'm-not-going-to-die way, & mainly doing Epic Shit. At the moment I'm being an au pair in Somerset, but in the next few weeks I'll be moving again, either Devon to live with some donkeys, or to Bath to work in a youth hostel. I'm putting together a project that should pull all my chaos together but for the moment I'm working on illio work as a nomad soul, which is very liberating. Still open for business, just you never know what you'll hear in the background when you give me a call ;D
Here are a few bits & bobs I've been playing with since I left anyway. Being around kids makes drawing them much easier.
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Blog: The Penguin Blog (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: A day in the life..., For aspiring writers, outings!, social networks, Wayfarer, Weblogs, exploring, hiking, travel, Twitter, walking, Add a tag
Earlier this summer we ran a competition around Robert Macfarlane’s THE OLD WAYS for one lucky wayfarer to follow in his footsteps and win a summer trekking around the UK and blogging about their adventures. After a hard-fought battle, Sarah Thomas was crowned as our winner. Now that her journey is at the halfway mark, we thought we’d check in with her to see how she’s finding the experience so far (and to find out more about her adventures, visit ajourneyonfoot.com, where she’s chronicling the whole thing).
Penguin: You’re no stranger to wayfaring – what’s made this trip different from your past experiences?
Sarah: Indeed I'm not. In fact, of all the jobs I've done in my life, this has been the one that has fit me the most perfectly, as all I had to do was be myself. I suppose the key difference was having to come up with something to say almost daily on the blog. That entailed thinking about situations as potential blog posts, rather than just living them then some weeks down the line perhaps blogging about them, as I had previously done. I was much more aware of the need to document in photos, note taking etc. Sometimes it focuses your vision on a situation, and sometimes it detracts from the experience, but with practice you strike a balance. I have been open about these dilemmas on the blog, as I feel it is very much part of my experience.
I have been travelling since I was seventeen. I went on a Duke of Edinburgh trip to the Nepalese Himalaya, and broke off from the group to go to India because I was rather lovestruck by a friend who was living there. I was a naive traveller then, but it was a quick and steep learning curve, and I was so in love with the spontaneity and freedom that that kind of travel offered. Anything seemed possible, and that has been an influential turning point in my life.
Of course I didn't exactly have a standard upbringing. Born in a commuter village in Buckinghamshire, when I'd just turned 11, my dad moved us to Kenya as he'd been asked to start an office there. You'd think, knowing me now, that that would have been exciting to me, but I hated it at first. It all happened rather suddenly, and at that age you are just beginning to form a sense of self, so the upheaval was unwelcome.
Kenya was politically unstable at the time, and I watched riots from our hotel window where we lived for 2 months while finding a house. I remember one occasion when, after eating the school dinners at my new school, I got very ill. I was getting medicine at a pharmacy in downtown Nairobi when our taxi driver ran in and said, "We have to go! They're throwing tear gas outside".
Of course, that wasn't pleasant, but as time passed in Africa I began to enjoy the excitement and slight frisson of risk that was everywhere (and IS everywhere really), and the incredible kindness that is also there if you are open to it. We had the most fantastic geography field trips in primary school - caving inside volcanoes, cycling across the Rift Valley. We learned to cook on the campfire for the whole class, and were told to watch out for buffaloes when we went to pee in the night. Sadly this is such a far cry from the way the majority of children are raised nowadays.
Those experiences have made me who I am. I cannot put it better than Edward Acland, one of the characters I have featured on the Wayfarer blog, who said to me one day as I was leaving his mill, "Take risks....I could say 'Take care' but you won't learn anything by taking care".
Since then I have travelled all over the place - Africa, India, SE Asia, Europe, America - always on a shoestring, and always without much of a plan. I don't see the point in them. If you have lived in Africa for a while you come to learn they do not work out anyway. What this role has offered me is the opportunity to travel my own country in that same risk taking, spontaneous way, which I have only ever done in a van, and not for such a prolonged period. I only wish it was longer! It has been an absolute delight to get to know an old friend again, having spent a lot of my life abroad, in Kenya, travelling, and more recently living in Iceland.
What do you think you’ve gained from exploring primarily on foot? What did you come across that you wouldn’t have done if you’d been doing it the tourist-style way - driving to a specific location and walking from there?
I think the overwhelming sentiment is how connected I have felt with what is around me. When you are travelling on foot, you are not covering that much distance, relatively speaking, so the trace of your trail has the chance to be taken into somebody else's path. Somewhere down the road you meet and they say, "Oh yes, I've heard about you". Or, more abstractly, different threads of stories I have come across have the chance to come around again and cross over.
If I were travelling in any fast moving piece of metal, I would have to rely more on media rather than my physical presence, to let my tale be known. I have found it a very effective form of 'social networking' (once upon a time known as talking to people) to talk to people. I have walked around with a sign with the website and twitter handle swinging from my backpack, and been giving out business cards on mountain tops, in pubs, by streams, to whoever I meet really. Of course it is great to extend the reach of my immediate orbit through Twitter and such, but it is immensely satisfying when you actually meet those you have met on Twitter. They become part of my story and I part of theirs.
Also, of course, the silence of walking allows you to get very close to animals. On a dawn walk recently I saw hares, red deer, and a golden eagle (this is still in question but I was very close and the video zoom that I captured it with is not), not to mention the ubiquitous sheep. If you are lucky and quiet, you can dwell with them awhile, listening to the sound of their breathing, their grazing. Feeling you are sharing in part of the same matter.
Being the summer it has been, it has been an abundantly sensory experience to be on foot. The scents of the blossoms, the possibility when on welcoming terrain to take off my boots and feel the wet moss underfoot. Hearing the bees, the dragonflies, the damselflies and the clegs, go about their summer busy-ness. And this warm summer wind of my face - what pleasure!
And of course not having much of a plan and being totally open has enabled me to meet people from all manner of paths exactly because I wasn't looking for them. One thing really does lead to another, and I am at the point now where some story threads are coming full circle, with almost uncanny regularity. Knowing you are going to base yourself in a place for a while, also means you will want to get to know who and what is around there - the people as much as the trees and the mountains - so I think I am more open to striking up conversations than I might be in a regular 'tourist' situation, but I don't know, because this sort of IS the way I usually travel.
Something important that struck me when I came back to stay in a house and the radio was on, was that I hadn't listened to the news in about two weeks. I had no idea what was going on in the world apart from what I had passed through, and I was blissfully happy. The news seemed intensely negative. I'm not saying it's good to be ignorant, but I do think there's something to be said for protecting yourself from the media for a while and seeing your world for what it IS also; right there in front of you."
Any “what the hell am I doing?!” moments when everything’s seemingly gone wrong?
Not yet actually, though I am ready for it! I haven't particularly liked getting drenched through, but I ended up in a barn and getting a ride out of the situation the next day, so I can't claim to have suffered! Oh well actually, thinking about it, I suppose when I was perched at the edge of that REALLY steep slope of badly eroded scree looking for the Langdale Axe factory and someone shouted, "What are you doing? Be careful!" I thought maybe it was time to accept that the objective of that walk was something different to what I imagined. But nothing really went wrong and I know other people have managed to find it so I didn't see it as such a big deal. I just didn't like the idea of slipping at such an angle, and alone.
Anything distinctly unwayfarer-ish that you’ve found yourself missing?
Sorry if this is boring, but not at all. I find in Britain you never seem to be that far away from anything. But regardless, for me when it's out of sight, it's out of mind. If anything, I've wished to get away from things a bit more than I have. I have been very happy on this journey, and I find when you are deeply content, you don't need much else at all. You even eat much less. That said, I did tuck in to a massive steak at the Old Dungeon Ghyll, when I came down - heat exhausted - from my failed search for the Langdale Axe factory!
Walking alone vs. walking with people can be very different experiences – how have you mostly split your time and which do you mostly prefer?
I'm not sure really. I suppose I have been mostly alone and yet it doesn't feel like I have. On my initial walks around Lancaster I was joined by friends. I was joined by a friend again recently for my visit to The Quiet Site on Ullswater (one of the competition sponsors). She is equally open and spontaneous and decided to stay on to join me for what was possibly the highlight of my adventure so far - a remote valley on the East side of Ullswater where we got caught in a thunderstorm and taken in by a barrister from Newcastle who happened to have a holiday home there and let us sleep in his barn! We didn't know we were going there until we were. The Quiet Site manager had said "You can't not have ANY plan!!!". Then he told me about this valley with the oldest red deer herd in Britain. I said, "Thank you. Now I have a plan".
When walking with someone it is important that they allow me the space still to go into myself, and I am lucky to have some people in my life that do this. My husband is one of these rare friends and that is one of the many reasons I married him. But I suppose on this journey I have preferred to walk alone, then re-converge with company at camp to share tales. That is my ideal scenario. Having said that, I really enjoy travelling with my husband but he is far away!
I remember when I won the competition, my mum said "I don't want you to get lonely", to which I responded, "I'm sure I won't, but even if I did, wouldn't that just be part of it? I don't want to protect myself from it." Loneliness, or solitude, isn't necessarily a negative experience. It allows you to tune in to yourself, and your place in the world. It is alright to feel small. We are small after all. And believe me, after 2 years living pretty much on the Arctic Circle, I know all about feeling small and isolated. Though I am drawn to wild places like Iceland and the Outer Hebrides, on this journey I have noticed I have gone for places where people are working and walking the land. I am in a phase where I do want connection with people, signs of human habitation, and the occasional fair or festival. But I want connection with people who are connected to their landscapes. Humans are part of the landscape after all.
How do you think a wayfaring lifestyle or approach to the world can be adopted by people who are (for the most part) stuck living in cities?
Nobody is 'stuck' living in cities, and I think that is part of the problem with the mentality that cities impose upon you. They are closed systems that, for a large part, think of the rest of Britain as 'the countryside' to which you escape some weekends, and from where some of the produce you eat originates. I hate to make generalisations but I experienced this first hand when I lived in London for two years. There is so much going on that you can end up suddenly realising you haven't left the city for months. I think it is very important to get into natural spaces regularly to allow your mind to breathe, but you really need to build it into your life. It won't happen by itself. Even if it is just going to a park regularly and really BEING in it - not just jogging through it. That is a start.
That said, city wandering is a wonderful thing to do of an evening, or at the weekend. Living in Iceland I came across the term 'ovissaferd' which literally translates as 'an unknown journey'. This is where you just head out without any particular destination in mind, and see what happens. I think it's a particularly exciting thing to do in cities, but the openness that comes with that approach must also be nurtured, otherwise it could just feel a lot like a Red Herring! Get talking to people, unpeel the veil, notice the small things. Start by forming an apprenticeship with your neighbourhood, then take it from there.
I lived in Walworth, notorious for its estates and not particularly attractive high street. But I loved it. By approaching it as I would any other journey, I got to know the Turkish people running the local 24hr grocers, who walked me home if I felt over-laden, or unsafe, at any time of day or night. I ended up filming a lantern procession on my way home from work one winter's night for a charitable organisation, as they saw I had a video camera on me. I found a hammam in Europe's only Kazakhstani hotel along the Walworth Road. I found Roger Hiorn's stunning 'Seizure' installation, having walked past an otherwise unpromising council flat block, noticing lots of people walking around wearing wellies. And every Sunday I went to the most amazing flea market which used to be on Westmoreland Road. (In a twist of fate, Westmoreland is where I am now writing this, and wish to make my home). It had all sorts of characters, and all manner of objects from all over the world. Flea markets are the stories of the neighbourhood laid out on the street.
Really the journey is not the physical one. It is a transformation that occurs in you, and that can happen within a hundred metre radius.
What do you plan to do when you’re done? Have your travels this summer given you any inspiration for future projects or journeys?
It has been very good for me to practice writing on a regular basis and build up networks of people I am interested in, and they in me. I have really appreciated the feedback I've been getting and to be able to talk to Robert Macfarlane has been a particular privilege. It feels like taking to an old friend.
Having lived in Iceland for 2 years up until a year ago, I have a mountain of experience and story I would like to put into word, image and film, and have been slowly and steadily working on that. This project has given me the focus and clarity to really get my teeth into it though (ironically as I have not been working on it at all this summer). As they say, "The hardest part is starting". Having this time to immerse myself in Britain has given me the necessary distance I needed from my experience in Iceland to be able to make something out of it.
I have started editing a documentary I shot about a sheep farmer-poet who lives in a remote corner of Northwest Iceland, and has no family to help with the yearly sheep gathering (they roam free all summer). My Icelandic in-laws and their family used to help but they are getting old and no longer have their own sheep to gather, so it is uncertain how he will manage from now on. Every year since 1985 he has written a poem about the year's gathering and my film is structured around one he wrote which is an overview of the mishaps across the years. It is a meditation on the hardships, and the poetry, in the everyday.
As we all know, funding for the slow quiet things in life is scarce, but I hope through this project to have built up more of a network who might support and spread word of this kind of venture, and I might give crowd funding a go, as I think the small quiet voices need to be heard.
Blog: Emily Smith Pearce (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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Above is a little summary of our New England vacation. A little Cape, a lot of New Hampshire, including a hike through the Flume Gorge, which I had never seen before. I was tickled to find these in a little shop in Bethlehem, NH. I love when old postcards come with messages on them. The bottom one was written by someone whose vacation mirrored ours, fifty some years ago.
I have lots to share, including some digital paintings I did while we were away. I finally finished Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. I highly recommend it, especially if you’re an introvert or have a loved one who is. There are lots of us, so you probably do! I learned a lot.
Hubs and I enjoyed listening to Rob Lowe’s memoir Stories I Only Tell My Friends on our car trip (read by Lowe), and we’ve almost finished listening to Yes, Chef, a memoir by Marcus Samuelsson. Really fascinating and read by Samuelsson himself in his fabulous scratchy voice. His story begins in Ethiopia, then goes on to Sweden, throughout Europe, and on to New York City as he follows his dream of becoming a master chef.
Loved this post of fun summer things to do with your kids, by Blair Stocker of wisecraft. Also, this spaghetti monsters post over at elsiemarley made me smile—it’s part cooking, part craft, and all silly fun.
What have you been up to?
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Blog: Here in the Bonny Glen (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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Blog: Here in the Bonny Glen (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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Marveled at the Utah desert, among other things.
(More later. Lotta unpacking to do. And SDCC starts tomorrow!)Add a Comment
Blog: Adventures of a Part-Time Asthmatic (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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Summer is officially in swing, at least it is here in the South–and I guess it must be gearing up pretty soon in the rest of North America. Sorry Australia. As the weather warms up and my nephew collects spare change in his vacation jug, it puts me in mind of some of my best vacations. Actually it’s hard to choose a best. I’ve been pretty lucky.
Definitely one of the best vacations of my childhood would be the combined summers at Space Camp. I was technically a teenager, technically a middle-schooler, but I can be nerdy enough to admit that space absolutely turned me into an excited little kid and although it wasn’t really anything like the movie, Space Camp was an incredible adventure.
The first year was a whirl-wind. I didn’t know anyone, but it didn’t matter because everyone was a lot like me. I met Heidi right away, a girl who became a very dear, lifelong friend. Much from the two years actually blurs together now, in fact every time I think of a memory from the first year, I start to wonder if it was actually the second year. Which year did I get my head stuck between the bunkbeds? Which year did we build the rocket that was rather hideous and was named The Load Toad? Which year did we look at Jupiter in the giant telescope? Which year did we tour the training facility where astronauts practice weightless maneuvers in dive suits inside a ginormous tank?
I honestly can’t remember anymore. (My memory is terrible. Just ask D. He’s my official memory-keeper. As in, “Remind me to go to the bank. Remind me to eat dinner. Remind me what day it is.”)
What I do remember is that I had so much fun. Every moment was as thrilling as the breathless 4Gs of the Space Shot. Technically, it wasn’t Space Camp. Technically the first year was Space Academy (Level I) and the second year was Advanced Space Academy. Heidi and I were the only girls on the “pilot” track that year, but we hung tough with the boys and loved it. We trained hard and then executed 3 separate missions: We flew the shuttle, we performed experiments on the space station, and we assisted the other teams from the safety of Mission Control. I swear it was exactly like Apollo 13. Except without, you know, Gary Sinise. Or Ed Harris.
There were movies in the OmniMax and private tours of the museum. And So. Many. Dippin’ Dots. We even had our own turn in a big “weightless” metal water tank. Unfortunately I had allergies and was terrified of getting the benz (in 30 feet of water…), so I snorkeled instead. Probably for the best because a tornado choose that moment to make an appearance, and we were unceremoniously hauled from the tank early and sent down to the safety of the basement museum, our wetsuits still dripping. I am, however, slightly haunted by my fear of scuba diving, and as I have never had a good snorkeling experience (stories to come, I’m sure), I hope some day to scuba dive the Great Barrier Reef.
One of the highlights of camp was meeting an actual astronaut, and somewhere there may still be photographic evidence. I wish I could say that Space Camp was where I learned not to lose my camera, but alas, remember what I said about my memory? If not, then perhaps your memory is worse than mine. That’s a scary thought.
I can’t speak for other programs, but my time at the Huntsville Space and Rocket Center was truly unparalleled, and I would encourage everyone to go–at least for the day. In fact, given what a good time he had at the Ren Faire, it might be time to haul the Star Wars obsessed E down to Alabama for the day.
What are some of your favorite vacation spots? Best memories? Feel free to share–I’m always looking for someplace new to go. As my dad always says, “You want to do everything.” Well maybe not everything–bungee jumping just doesn’t sound like something I should do.
Tagged: Astronauts, Being Brave, Dippin' Dots, friends, Middle School, snorkeling, Space Camp, Summer, Vacation Display Comments Add a Comment
Blog: From the land of Empyrean (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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Promise of Tomorrow Volume 2: Discovery reveals some secrets.
My new Amish serialized novel started with the destructive forces of nature, sending the Umble family running for their lives. They boarded a transport as a tornado destroyed their home.
In Discovery, the transport arrives at their destination. I'm not going to spoil where they are going. However, when they step off the transport, they probably see something like this...
This is the entrance to Captain Nemo's Nautilus (one of my favorite movies and Disney World extinct attractions). I can tell you my main character Luke did not take his family on a submarine. The question that Luke has to answer is "How far will you go to keep your faith?"
It is a literal and metaphorical question. He has to answer with both his heart and body. Volume 2 shows the first steps of the journey that will answer that question.
Luke Umble believed he was a man of God. One fateful decision could test all of his beliefs. With the support of his wife Annie, they uproot their family in an attempt to save the ones they love. Luke is challenged on all sides by his cantankerous father, his oldest son’s rebellion and even his youngest daughter’s Muscular Dystrophy.
In Volume 2: Discovery, the Umble family arrives at their destination. Their new life begins in a shocking way. From the first step out of the transport door, the seeds are sewn that will either tear their family apart or bring them closer than ever.
The one question he asks himself is “How far would you go to keep your faith?”
The only answer Luke can find lies in God’s Promise of Tomorrow.
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Blog: Pam Bachorz (YA Author) (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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Any parent in the mid-Atlantic likely has heard the pleas: take me to Hershey Park!
And yeah, I think it's worth the drive to Pennsylvania (from DC, at least) and it deserves the hype. Our first grader LOVED it, as much as any Disney park. But while you're there, consider staying overnight and going to the Hershey Gardens.
The Garden started as the private estate of the Hershey family, and now anybody can tour it. Of course it's a haven for anybody who likes to garden--but that's not me. My speciality is killing plants. Still, I took our son there because I had a few hours to kill last June while my husband was at the Chocolate Spa (across the street), and I'd heard there was some sort of scavenger hunt.
Boy is there a scavenger hunt. The people at Hershey Garden are clever. Even before you get to the ticket window, they have an adorable garden hut set up with bright kid-sized gardening tools and a peppy smiling worker. For ten bucks you get your own scavenger hunt, a pencil, and one of the tools for a prize when you leave and turn in a completed hunt.
My kid went from whining and dragging to having a mission. We also loved the beautiful large butterfly house--mid June was the perfect time to visit it--and just wandering through the expansive grounds. But the scavenger hunt was the big hit.
We've got a bright red hoe in our garage, now, just waiting for my kid to use it. He hasn't touched it yet. Clearly we share some of the same gardening genes.
But for ten bucks, I got plenty of time to see the garden and I got a kid happy to be there.
I wish every museum and garden was this smart!
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Blog: smartpoodlepublishing.com (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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Blog: Redeeming Qualities (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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Someday I’m going to run out of books by the Williamsons where some people go on a road trip through part of Europe and at least one person isn’t what they seem and someone falls in love with the chauffeur. And on that day I will be very sad.
The Motor Maid has some really, really great bits, but mostly I enjoyed it as a good example of the Williamsons’ mini genre. (Has anyone encountered one of these chauffeurs-and-sightseeing-and-incognito books written by anyone else?) See, on one hand there’s the beginning, which takes place on a train and has a rough parallel to the beginning of Miss Cayley’s Adventures and made me think I might be starting my new favorite Williamsons book, but on the other hand this might be the snobbiest Williamsons book ever.
Our heroine is Lys d’Angely, a half French, half American orphan who’s running away from her surviving relatives so they can’t make her marry a massively wealthy manufacturer of corn plasters. New money is inherently disgusting to the Williamsons, but they’ve also made him personally disgusting, whether for the benefit of their less prejudiced readers or because they can’t conceive of a manufacturer of corn plasters who isn’t super gross, I don’t know. Anyway, Lys’ friend Pam has found her a job as companion to an elderly Russian princess and a first class ticket to Cannes to get her to it. And then Pam promptly disappears to America with her husband because the rest of the book requires that she not be on hand to give Lys any further assistance.
I should stop mocking this bit of the book though, because it’s awesome. Lys has an upper berth on the train, and the woman in the lower one is noisily unable to sleep. Also, her bulldog is runnng around on the floor below, making threatening noises. Eventually Lys gets sick of listening to the woman complain to herself about how awful she feels, so she climbs down and forcibly undresses her. Then they drink tea and eat snacks and Lys makes friends with the bulldog and everything is basically perfect. This is the bit that reminded me of Lois Cayley’s initial interactions with Lady Georgina, and I started hoping that Lys would take a job with Miss Paget and that they would have awesome adventures together. Instead, Miss Paget leaves Lys with her English address and the promise of a job if she ever needs one, and Lys arrives in Cannes to find that her prospective employer, Princess Boriskoff, has just died.
This is where the main body of the plot kicks in. An impoverished Irish noblewoman (because the Williamsons sometimes have trouble writing books without those) helps Lys find a job as lady’s maid to the nouveau riche wife of a manufacturer of liver pills. Both Lys and Lady Kilmarny are horrified by Lady Turnour and her husband, but Lys is broke, and this job will get her back to England. And while Lady Turnour is in fact awful — although I blame this more on the authors than the character — Lys ends up enjoying accompanying the Turnours on their trip through the South of France. This is a little bit because of the scenery, but mostly because of the chauffeur. His name is Jack Dane and he’s in a similar situation to Lys’ — he’s clearly a gentleman but has had to hire himself out as a chauffeur for reasons he doesn’t care to explain. They quickly become friends, and have pretty good chemistry of a very Williamsons-ish kind.
Having wound up the mechanism of the plot, the Williamsons pretty much let it toddle along by itself from there. The ending is abrupt, and makes the beginning feel too long, maybe, but The Motor Maid is a lot of fun. Except that I kept stopping and wondering whether the Williamsons — and their characters — are always quite this mean about people who aren’t like them. Lys and Jack are both poor but aristocratic, and they spend a lot of time mocking the Turnours and their stepson, who were all born into the lower classes. Neither of them associates at all with anyone in their current social position, and very few of the people they interact with on their travels meet with their approval. It’s an interesting setup, having the actual gentlefolk waiting on the social climbers, but the execution is a little too mean-spirited for it to be as fun as it could be. And in the end, the Williamsons were even a little bit mean about Miss Paget.
This is going to make it sound like I didn’t like The Motor Maid, but I did, a lot. It’s as Williamsons as it gets, and I like them. It just also made me a little bit uncomfortable.
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Blog: Pam Bachorz (YA Author) (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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A few weekends ago, my son's fondest dream came true: he got to go to Great Wolf Lodge. He's been begging for years. And I am not kidding you--this was his deepest desire.
But we had a deal. If we were going to the land of water slides and dozens of kids running around with interactive magic wands, the grown-ups got something in the bargain too.
We got to go to Colonial Williamsburg. And it turns out that our kid loved it too.
The two are only ten minutes away from each other, in Virginia, and about a three hour drive from DC (assuming you evade the infamous "mixing bowl" traffic). It's a great weekend trip. We got the three-day ticket at Colonial Williamsburg and spent half days there, along with half days/nights at Great Wolf Lodge.
You could easily spend a week at Colonial Williamsburg to see everything. But we were on the second-grader plan, so we skipped all but one of the special presentations, all of the art museums, and the ghost walk got a panicked veto. Here were a few of the family favorites:
- The Public Gaol (jail), which shockingly was in operation until the 1920s and even housed some of Blackbeard's crew. Although let me tell you I am quite certain it's haunted!
- Our kid's very favorite spot was the book binder and printer. We couldn't have predicted this. But he adored the goofy, slightly prickly interpreter who works half-time in each of those locations. He didn't talk down to the kids and he demanded interaction from them.
- The shops. I know some people don't like that there are shops mixed into the streets of CW, where you can actually buy stuff--the say it's too commercial. But my kid loved getting to check out colonial toys, and having a three-cornered hat to wear around town.
- We had an almost surreal and fun experience at R. Charlton's Coffeehouse, by the Capitol. We thought it was the sort of place you'd just stroll into and watch an interpreter at work, like most of the other open buildings. But instead we were ushered into an experience of being invited to "lease" the shop, by an interpreter who was fully immersed in the pre-Revolutionary time. She wanted my son's "receipt" for his strange favorite dish of pizza. Then once we finished with her tour, we were offered small samples of coffee, tea or (amazing) hot chocolate as a "thank you for considering the lease"--and we sat at a table with another fully-immersed interpreter who was acting as a minister of the time. And then we were politely ushered out, after chit-chatting with him about the politics of the time. It really almost felt like we'd slipped back to 1775 for a little while. I half-wondered if the rooms would be empty and dusty, if we tried to go back.
- And finally, the mustering of the troops on Friday afternoon was a huge hit with all three of us. We watched the fife-and-drum corp come marching to the green, and then Lafayette himself came to get us all excited about marching to Yorktown. He was one very excellent Lafayette, a thrilling horse rider with a French accent to boot. We got to watch the muskets and cannons being shot off, too. Thumbs up all around.
Don't hesitate to take your grade-schooler to Colonial Williamsbug. There is more than enough to keep everyone fascinated. Plus it's plenty of walking so they'll sleep well that night!
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Blog: Leslie Ann Clark's Skye Blue Blog (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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Have you ever started a new chapter in your life? Have you ever dared to do something you never did before? Did you feel launched into it and found yourself in free fall? You are not alone. It happens all the time! Anyone who wants to do something worthwhile in life has to take risks and sometimes those risks lead to even more risks!
When my art career began, I was imagining all the possibilities. I dreamed of success. I created many fun little cartoons and talked about what I wanted to do with them. Then one day, I ran into a friend who was DOING what I wanted to do. She shook me! She said, “Les, you have to go to the N.Y. Stationary Show and you have to go NOW!
I had heard of this show. I had many of my friends online talking about going. This was back in the late 90′s. There was something in her voice. It was more like a command from heaven than a gentle nudging from a friend. I made up my mind to go!
This was huge for me. I had only been on an airplane once for a 45 minute flight. I practically sat on the lap of the man sitting next to me… asking him what this bump was and what THAT bump was! I decided I better pray about this trip. I told the Lord that if HE wanted me to do this then he would have to make the way for me. A few days later someone had put an envelope in my mailbox. It was $300.00. Enough for my flight! It was not long until I was flying across America to New York City. I met up with my girlfriend and stayed with her uncle and aunt. We took buses, rode trains and cabs. Once at the show we had to pedal our portfolios. I am NOT a sales person. … but there I was asking people where their art director was and if I might have a minute with them. Over and over. Hmmm…. it became a little easier each time.
One last company sat down with me. They looked through my whole portfolio and asked if I had anything more? I pulled out one last picture of a little baby. That was it! That was the one the art director liked. She asked me if I had any more and I told her I would email them to her when I got home. You better believe I was sketching babies on the airplane!
This was one of my first “be brave” moments. Over and over the good Lord has taken my by the hand and shown me what to do next. Some would say, “you are weak if you need help for everything.” But I say, I am smart for asking.
I have a few more adventures I am yearning for. There will come that day, when the dreaming is over, and the bags all packed and ready to GO!
What are you waiting for? Be Brave!!!!!
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Blog: Ellis Nadler's Sketchbook (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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Blog: smartpoodlepublishing.com (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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I went to Philly this weekend and ran the Rocky Steps. The weather was perfect, and it was such a pleasure to run in cool temps with no humidity! I ran up and down 65 steps, 30 times.
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Blog: Valerie Storey, Writing at Dava Books (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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Yes, I really went to MOOD last week! And in New York too! Which I guess is only momentous if you are, like me, a total Project Runway fan. In case you're not a fan or have no idea what I'm talking about, I promise that I did take advantage of touring other New York sites, too.
At the moment, though, I'm still a little breathless, and not just from wheeling my suitcase through the airport. It all happened so fast, and there was so much to take in, and there's so much I want to say about the trip . . . where to start?
How about at the Metropolitan Museum of Art where I saw the Egyptian collection:
This was particularly special for me as Egyptian antiquities were the inspiration for my book The Great Scarab Scam. Added bonus: some great ideas for future pottery and ceramic work:
It was also a thrill to see the samurai collection at the museum because it's the basis of my current National Poetry Month project on Japan. (Samurai armor has always intrigued me; so much so that I used it in a section of Overtaken):
And it felt very elegant (if not a little dangerous) to be served a Metropolitan Martini on the museum balcony while a string quartet played in the background:
Unforgettable: walking through Greenwich Village and bumping into Pillow Fight Day. (Or that's what I thought it was. I could be wrong; maybe Rizzoli's ran out of signed copies of Overtaken?)
Seeing the ice skating rink at Rockefeller Center was a big highlight too; especially as when I went back there the next day the maintenance crew was a) closing the rink for the spring/summer season, and b) retrieving the biggest, goldest, bling-iest bracelet ever from a flower pot as I watched with great surprise and interest. I did my best to refrain from insisting it was MINE: "Yes, Officer, I was right here on this very spot only yesterday. Honest."
And of course there was the totally unexpected river taxi ride that just happened to go to my hotel while passing the local statuary:
But on the very last day of all, after the Guggenheim (Solomon R. in the guidebook), Central Park, Fifth Avenue, and more pasta than I'm sure is legal, all my dreams came true and I went to MOOD! I played with Swatch! I pulled his ears! (I don't think you're really supposed to pull his ears, but he didn't seem to mind.)
Swatch refusing a signed copy of Overtaken:
In case you're interested, that's the inside of my coat on the chair along with the Mood bag holding the fabric I bought (see top photo again) as well as an amazing sketchbook called a Fashionary. Each page of this nifty little book has 3 templates of "models" you can draw the clothes on whenever you're seized by the muse: A dress just like the Empire State Building! A cape made from faux Central Park squirrels! The possibilities are endless and might even land you on Project Runway one day.
So, yes, I had a really, really good time. And I finally understand all those I-heart-New York souvenirs because you can't not love New York. Now all I need is a nap and time to design some pants for Swatch in my Fashionary. Catch you all later.
Tip of the Day: Be spontaneous--take a risk. I hadn't made serious plans to go to New York; it just sort of happened. Which also means I had no itinerary whatsoever, and it couldn't have worked out better. Just like writing and artwork, once you dive into a project, you can work out the details later. The important thing is to go there. Bon Voyage!
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