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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: flora, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. Venus

Dionaea muscipula

The Venus Fly Trap looks nice and dangerous, but unless you're a fly or other small insect, you're safe.
I've been having fun with this series of dangerous plants, it makes a good warm up and helps me think carefully about value and color. Last night I saw an enormous opossum slide into the bushes and it made me think of doing nocturnal animals next. 

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2. Fliegenpilz

Amanita muscaria
I've always wondered why so many people are obsessed with this pretty, but toxic, mushroom. It's associated with fairies, and often found in books with gnomes and fairytales. Looking into it, there is a lot of druidic background to the Fly Agaric, and there are a few opinions on how it got it's name. It's more than a little mysterious, and amply deserves a spot in my October gallery.

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3. pretty poisonous

In honor of Halloween I've decided to celebrate October with a series of portraits of poisonous plants.

Phytolacca americana
We have a lot of Pokeweed here in South Carolina, and although I knew it was poisonous and grows like, well, a weed, I hadn't given it much thought. It turns out the US constitution was written with ink made from fermented pokeberries. Once you start looking there is a lot of information about the American pokeweed. It 's a "food and medicinal plant",  native americans used to paint arrows, feathers and even horses with juice from the berries, and although every part of the pokeweed is poisonous, it's also a popular food. Surprisingly enough, the berries are the least poisonous part .

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4. Rural culture in Victorian England

Lark Rise to Candleford is Flora Thompson’s classic evocation of a vanished world of agricultural customs and rural culture. The trilogy of Lark Rise, Over to Candleford, and Candleford Green tells the story of Flora’s childhood and youth during the 1880s in Lark Rise, in reality Juniper Hill, the hamlet in Oxfordshire where she was born. Through the eyes of Laura, the author’s fictional counterpart, Flora describes the cottages, characters, and way of life of the agricultural labourers and their families with whom she grew up; seasonal celebrations, schooling, church-going, entertainment and story-telling are described in fond and documentary detail. pp. 39-40

Around the farmhouse were grouped the farm buildings; stables for the great stamping shaggy-fetlocked carthorses; barns with doors so wide and high that a load of hay could be driven through; sheds for the yellow-and-blue painted farm wagons; granaries with outdoor staircases; and sheds for storing oilcake, artificial manures, and agricultural implements. In the rickyard, tall, pointed, elaborately thatched ricks stood on stone straddles; the dairy indoors, though small, was a model one there was a profusion of all that was necessary or desirable for good farming.

Labour, too, was lavishly used. Boys leaving school were taken on at the farm as a matter of course, and no time-expired solider or settler on marriage was ever refused a job. As the farmer said, he could always do with an extra hand, for labour was cheap and the land was well tilled up to the last inch.

When the men and the boys from the hamlet reached the farm-yard in the morning, the carter and his assistant had been at work for an hour, feeding and getting ready the horses. After giving any help required, the men and boys would harness and lead out their teams and file off to the field where their day’s work was to be done.

If it rained, they donned sacks, split up one side to form a hood and cloak combined. If it was frosty, they blew upon their nails and thumped their arms across their chest to warm them. If they felt hungry after their bread-and-lard breakfast, they would pare a turnip and munch it, or try a bite or two of the rich, dark brown oilcake provided for the cattle. Some of the boys would sample the tallow candles belonging to the stable lanterns; but that was done more out of devilry than from hunger, for, whoever went short, the mothers took care that their Tom or Dicky should have ‘a bit o’ summat to peck at between meals’ – half a cold pancake or the end of yesterday’s roly-poly.

Flora Thompson was born in 1876 at Juniper Hill, a hamlet on the Oxfordshire-Northamptonshire border described in Lark Rise. After leaving school at the age of fourteen, she was sent to assist the village postmistress, who also kept the smithy, and appears prominently in Candleford Green. After her marriage she moved to Bournemouth, and it was there that she started to write. The trilogy of Lark Rise (1939), Over to Candleford (1941), and Candleford Green (1943) was followed by a fourth autobiographical volume, Still Glides the Stream (1948), published the after Flora Thompson’s death in Devon in May 1947. The introduction to Lark Rise to Candleford is by Phillip Mallett, Lecturer in English at the University of St Andrews.

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5. Flora's Launch Party!


The official launch party for Flora's Very Windy Day at Children's Book World was a rousing success and loads of fun. The store was all decked out with a wall of books, balloons, and an eager crowd and Jeanne Birdsall was decked out in super-special heavy-duty red boots.


Jeanne and I chatted about how the book came to be and the collaborative nature of picture books. Then Jeanne riveted the crowd by reading a super-secret excerpt from the upcoming third Penderwicks novel. Speaking as a Penderwicks fanatic myself, it is going to be a looooooong wait until the book is published in May of 2011.

And to top it off, the good folks at CBW even had a delicious cake made. Thanks to everyone who came by and thanks to CBW for the grand send-off!

4 Comments on Flora's Launch Party!, last added: 9/29/2010
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6. Flora's Very Windy Day Round-up!

I'm a bit tardy with this post, but I wanted to take a moment to trumpet the arrival of Flora's Very Windy Day by the incomparable Jeanne Birdsall. Flora was one of those books that was a joy to work on from start to finish. I jumped into this book after spending a year in the downtrodden Dust Bowl, so spending my days drawing two kids being tossed about in the wind was certainly a treat.


Speaking of treats, Jeanne Birdsall is joining me at the wonderful Children's Book World for the Official Flora Launch Party on Saturday, September 25th at 2 pm. Hope you can join us!


(An early sketch of Flora)

Reviews have been pretty glowing so far. Here are some clips:

As realistic as the mixed feelings it captures and as fanciful as a conversation with a rainbow, the first picture book by Birdsall, author of The Penderwicks (2005), blends homely and fantastic elements as naturally as a child at play... A fine picture book with a fierce, bold and (deep down) compassionate heroine.
- Booklist (STAR)

Phelan's illustrations are simply wonderful: His line floats and traces the air currents, his colors are subtle but strong and he captures Flora's multiple emotions and Crispin's silent toddlerness in every rosy-cheeked image. Emotionally true from cover to cover.
- Kirkus (STAR)

This gem of a book will resonate with older siblings everywhere.
- School Library Journal

...crisp and delightful...
- Publishers Weekly

And there's been some great reviews from the blogosphere including What We Read and What We Think and A Patchwork of Books!

Don't forget 9/25 at Children's Book World. Stop by and say

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7. Another FLORA Review...

From Rush That Speaks' livejournal, a great review of FLORA SEGUNDA, yay, and one which picked up on a many things I was hoping people would pick up, but no other reviewer has mentioned so far...

I woke up this morning feeling rather grumpy, but now I am so much happier!

Thank you, madama!

1 Comments on Another FLORA Review..., last added: 6/18/2007
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8. A better late than never reminder for the (Late) Late Spring Edition of Dawn's Field Days

Dawn at By Sun and Candlelight has this season's installment, in words and plentiful pictures, of the latest Field Day, just in time for late Spring. Rainbows, skinks, flowers, birds and bird books -- something for everyone, especially on an early Spring morning or a quiet, rainy day. Thank you, Dawn, for the wonderful idea and for continuing, season after season.

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9. Finding Wonderland Interview with MOI!

As part of the Summer Blog Blast Tour, check me out being all cool and writerly at Finding Wonderland...

The super fabulous ladies at Finding Wonderland asked some super fabulous questions, and check out the super fabulous graphics they whipped up to accompany my speech-ifying!

Woo!

And check out the other great writers taking part in the Blog Blast. A full schedule may be found aqui.

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10. Look out Harry Potter--there's a New Hero in Town!

At long last I'm pleased to announce that Flora Segunda of Crackpot Hall is now available across in the U.K.

Though the novel's text remains the same, Flora Segunda of CH does have some supplemental material, including Nini Mo's Tips for Rangers, a Cast of Characters, a short bio of yours truly and a few other little treats. Plus, the cover is terrific--the image on Amazon really does not do it justice at all. The book's a paperback, so there's no dust-jacket, but it does have a double cover that opens up to a series of portraits by Finnish artist Heli Heita--we've got Flynn, and Mamma, Poppy (looking slightly Uncle Fester-y, alas), Udo and Valefor, and a lovely full portrait of our hero, Flora, looking mighty heroic in her redingote, The Eschatanomicon tucked under her arm. Really really cool.

Woo!

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11. Flora Invades Leeds!

William the Bastard and Haraldr Hardhands have got nada on Flora--they never made it anywhere near Leeds, but Flora's campaign to conquer England is already well in-hand, viz. this picture, kindly supplied to me by the Fellow Clarionite & Border Collie Mamma Stephanie Burgis. As you can see, Flora is front and center, on a table, with many other books, tho' none, if I may say so myself, have quite such a striking cover. Madama Burgis assures me that more copies of Flora Segunda were to be found in the stacks, as well..So Borders was well-stocked. Here's hoping that Flora's 2007 makes William's 1066 look just like all that!

And muchas gracias to Madama Burgis for the pics!

PS. Nini Mo says never leave your armour in the boats, no matter how hot the day.

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12. Mary Mary quite contrary

And Becky, too. Recent snaps from the garden. I'll post more as Blogger and dial-up will let me. Columbines More columbines. They've been blooming for almost a month, show no signs of giving up any time soon, and their shapes and colors make me happy. This is cheating a bit. This is the Dropmore honeysuckle, above, when it was

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13. More from the garden

Eggs from the duck nest in the backyard, not 10 feet from the house. We watched over the duck and her nest for almost a month, mostly from a distance and not too often, and despite the nearby marauding magpies, the duck managed to hatch out all 10 eggs. We checked on the nest on the second to last day to find it full of nine ducklings, with one to go. The next morning, mama and her babies were

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14. Still in the garden

The raised bed flower garden behind the house, back in May. Same raised bed flower garden behind the house, in the last week. Columbines at far right, poppies to their left, tall things in the center are monkshood. I'm happiest when the cows and calves stay on their side of the barbed wire fence (in the background, at right). Same raised bed,

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15. I blush...

An Amazon review, via Bluejack:

Is the world ready for Wilce?, July 13, 2007
By Bluejack (Seattle, WA)

Here's a fact: Ysabeau S. Wilce is profoundly original. If you read all the customer reviews here, you'll get the sense that this is not your formula fantasy. But let's make that point more clearly--you will never read another story like this one (unless, possibly, it's her next one, which we all eagerly anticipate).

This is the opportunity to get in on the ground floor of what could, and certainly should, be the next story franchise that graduates from cult status to mainstream blockbuster. Wilce doesn't sugar coat the risks of adolescence: she dips them in ice cream, lights them on fire, and serves the reader a flaming torch of strange wonder.

Laughter and thrilling excitement are delightful companions all through this romp. The subtitle gives a sense of the former, but don't underestimate Wilce's storytelling: great characters in real trouble make for great reading, and Flora is a heroine who speaks equally to the reality as well as the ambitions of young people.

Oh yes, and while this is not specifically a unique observation, I'd also like to note that it is always refreshing to find a fantasy that does not take place in something that could pass for Northern Europe."

Thank you, Sieur Bluejack!

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16. Size does matter

Karen asked in the comments of the Squash-o-Lantern post below about the size of the squash seeds, and I replied that I'd been planning to a post a picture, as soon as the kids carved our regular pumpkins on Halloween eve. We'd been told by one of the winners at the pumpkin festival that even more important than fertilizer and adequate heat and water is the size of the seed. Bigger is better,

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17. Purple Iris

19PurpleIris

These gorgeous flowers are springing up all over the place, so imagine my delight when I found bunches growing in my front garden! I have them in white as well but these purple irises are just so wonderfully vibrant that I had to draw one of course, so went out with my trusty little camera and took tons of pics. I haven't done it justice but here's the result.

Purple Iris cards and products at zazzle

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18. Purple Iris

19PurpleIris

These gorgeous flowers are springing up all over the place, so imagine my delight when I found bunches growing in my front garden! I have them in white as well but these purple irises are just so wonderfully vibrant that I had to draw one of course, so went out with my trusty little camera and took tons of pics. I haven't done it justice but here's the result.

Purple Iris cards and products at zazzle

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19. Another Review!

Flora was reviewed today in The Chicago Tribune.

Good review--but I'm not sure how the reviewer got the idea that Hotspur is a "post-hippie"! I suppose we all bring certain ideas to what we read, preconceptions you could call them, and these preconceptions can be pretty colourful sometimes.

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20. Chicago Tribune Review!

I've had several people contact me to say that they can't access the Chicago Tribune review--I think you need some kind of registration to view the page.

Anyway, here's the text of the review, which was by Mary Harris Russell.

Flora Segunda

By Ysabeau S. Wilce

Harcourt, $17

Ages 12-15 years

It takes a few pages to get the very funny feel of this teenage narrator. Her mother is the commanding general of the army. Her father is a loopy sort of post-hippie who must be prevented from trashing the kitchen of their home, Crackpot Hall. Flora cares neither about joining the army, as everyone else does, nor having her Catorcena, the coming-out party of her world. (Chicagoan Ysabeau Wilce's experience as a military historian provides her, apparently, with a great number of convincing inside jokes and asides.) She dreams of being a famous ranger and increasing her magical abilities. A dry wit combines with an adventure and fantasy plot that link up in unexpected directions.


End quote.

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21. More Pontifications!

Cynthia Leitch Smith's blog Cynastions has just posted an interview with yours truly.

It's just chock-full of pearls of wisdom and bon mots.

Ayah so, not really, but maybe it will be of interest. Do check it out... Read the rest of this post

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22. Flora Segunda Crosses the Pond!

So, at long last, I'm happy to announce that Flora Segunda will be published in the UK in June!

There's been a small title change: gone is my baroque sub-title and in it's place we have: Flora Segunda of Crackpot Hall. I have it on good authority (mine and my British editor's!) that though the text will remain the same, there will be a few additions, including some supplemental material in the back, and a cast of characters listing. Plus, a lovely lovely blurb by the fantastic and fabulous Diana Wynne Jones.

Also, the cover will be different--much different. I do not post a link to the Amazon image here because really it doesn't do the cover justice at all. Firstly, there are two covers; an outside cover with little windows cut into it, through which you can just see the faces of several of the inhabitants of Crackpot Hall. Then when you lift that cover, you will have another cover with a full size of portrait of Flora herself (in a proper redingcote, I might add), as well as deliciously evocative portraits of Buck, Hotspur, Val, Udo and Flynn. Nowdon't expect photographic-type portraits, warts and all;these images are a bit more in the caricature line, but they are really wonderful, and very arresting. The whole package is marvelous and I'm quite excited about it.

Callo-callay!

PS. oh and the proper spelling has been restored. What have Americans got against the letter U?

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23. Everything's coming up...

rhubarb. I was hoping for a larger photo to better show the leaf detail, in all its unfurled promise, but this is as big as I could get it.

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24. Found in the garden this morning

Happily and busily planting, transplanting, and moving things around in the flower garden early today, I came across this which on closer inspection proved to be a robin's egg. But why the female robin chose to lay it out in the open, with no nest in sight and far from any trees or shrubs, is a mystery. The grass at left was provided by me, and after taking

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25. Into the woods

Tom and the kids went mushroom hunting for morels on Saturday. The haul came to about seven liters, including some whoppers (one below, in Daniel's hands), We had some for dinner that night, sauteed in cream with fresh chives from the garden (and organic sea salt from Brittany, so there goes the 100-Mile idea), and the next day I made homemade mushroom soup. The

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