This You Tube video is a promotional trailer for the very-soon-to-be-available The Chronicles of Harris Burdick
This You Tube video is a promotional trailer for the very-soon-to-be-available The Chronicles of Harris Burdick
The Shelburne, VT bookstore called The Flying Pig has a nice upstairs event space (and they hold many events!) and here are the kids coming in and getting settled before my visit with them. What a nice time! Thank you, store owners Josie and Elizabeth. Thank you, Shelburne. Thank you, Flying Pig.
And thank you, Bearded Frog, for a wonderful dinner later!
What is it, incidentally, with the airborne mammal and the hirsute amphibian? Store and restaurant names seem, in that town, to combine creatures and descriptive adjectives in interesting ways....
Last night I stayed in the lovely Inn in Manchester Center, VT
in order to do a book event at the nearby Northshire Bookstore. This morning I was picked up by a driver and taken two hours north to Shelburne, VT, and to my surprise it is sunny and hot..in the 80's. The past two days have been chilly and damp and in anticipation of that I came clothed in a sweater...with a different sweater in my bag for a change of clothes...but when I went for a walk, to get lunch, wearing my dark blue cashmere, I almost melted.
So I looked for a store that could sell me a tee shirt and of course found one, and bought one. But...this being Vermont...my new shirt comes with a lengthy message about peace and composting and loving the earth in all its forms....
This is the very fine crowd last night at Gibson's Bookstore in Concord, NH. Wonderful to see a thriving and cheerful bookstore! And such a nice auidiece of people out on a Monday evening.
And now I head off today to Vermont, where this evening at 5 I will be at the Northshire Bookstore.
I’ve recently been alerted to this:
Hugo Award-winning novelist Harlan Ellison has come out of obscurity and is suing the makers of a new sci-fi thriller film starring Justin Timberlake, claiming that the film is a total ripoff of a prize-winning short story he published in 1965. The copyright suit, which was filed Wednesday, claims that In Time, which is written and directed by Andrew Niccol (The Truman Show, Gattaca) borrows a substantial amount of material from Repent, Harlequin!
...San Francisco, of course. That's where I am, visiting my daughter for a few days, then some close friends.
Here I am at the Rodin sculpture garden on the Stanford campus yesterday
Just last fall I was at the Rodin Mueum in Paris so this felt very familiar. Kind of sad, remembering being there wiht Martin such a short time ago....but also nice to reecall the many wonderful trips we had together. That day, we had lunch in a small cafe near the Rodin Museum, and were seated next to an elderly French couple whose Englsh was as bad as our French. The two men concentrated on their beer. But the woman and I got to talking, or trying to talk, and she told me (in poor English) that they had a daughter in Phoneix. I saud (in horrible French) that Phoenix is very hot. She agreed. Then I told her that we lived in Boston. She said (in horrible English) that Boston is very cold, and I agreed. We both beamed at each other as if we were accomplished linguists. Actually we sounded like Lesson #1 in a 6th grade French book.
And next month I will be in Paris again, with my granddaughter. She DOES speak beautiul French so I will be careful not to humiliate her in such a way....
Today is still bright and clear but I'll be bringing in the bird feeders tonight, preparing for the storm. One friend who was visiting left this morning instead of tomorrow, fearing she wouldn't be able to get out...and she has tickets to the US Open on Tuesday. My other guest is still here...he has a flight out late in the day Monday so shuld be okay.
We will likely lose power so are well-stocked with alternative lighting, water stored for when the pump goes off, etc. But I don't anticipate huge problems here in Maine.
I went out and picked apples...the trees are well laden this year...and then sent this photo to my brother, titled "Pie tonight"
In reply his wife sent this, titled "cake tonight"
The score is 9-1, Red Sox over Texas, in the 6th inning so I felt that it was safe for me to turn it off and head to bed with a book. (If the score is close, they need me to sit here rooting for them)
But before I did, Alfie let me know that he despeately wanted to go outside. Barking, running to the back door, looking at me imploringly. Usually he is in for the night after dark...this time of year, 8 PM. There is too much Out There, at night, as I learned the hard way when he met with a porcupine one night.
But he was really, really wanting to go out so I put a leash on him, donned a jacket (it is chilly at night now) and grabbed a flashlight because it is a moonless cloudy night, very dark outside. We had barely rounded the corner of the house when I saw why he had been so agitated: a large deer on the lawn, looking back at us, a deer-in-the-headlights look....(make that flashlight). A deer, even a large one, is not frightening..they all look like Bambi's mother. But Alfie was beside himself; and the deer bounded away and disappeared into the trees. We continued our walk, Alfie's nose to the ground...there was apparently much deer aroma to check out...and then when we rounded the back of the barn, there was something else in the nearby woods: a growly/hissing sound and a lot of heavy rustling in the underbrush. ..coyote, maybe? THAT was scary, and reminded me why I don't let my 26-pound dog out alone at night.
I am leaving here next week because of commitments back home, and a trip to California coming up; but I'll be back briefly in October and then again in November. That's when the kitten...soon, I suppose, to be called cat...will be put to the test; because fall is when the mice come in, looking for a winter home. I am planning on Lulu feasting on mouse often. Oh dear: I recently wrote a book in which all the characters were very appealing mice. There is a discrepency here.
My book revisions (human characters, not rodents) are done and sent off to the editor and by changing font size I got it down from 465 pages to 404, whihc seems slightly less daunting.
Yesterday I left the cat and dog both in good hands and went to Yarmouth, Maine, about 45 miles from here, to have lunch with a group of old, old friends in order to celebrate the birthday of one of them. Gorgeous day; gorgeous house on the ocean; good lunch; good conversation; a nice time all around.
Heading home, I took a different route and found myself on Shaker Road, outside of Gray, Maine, and on an impulse stopped at The Shaker Village at Sabbathday Lake. I had done a lot of research there for my book LIKE THE WILLOW TREE which is set in that village in 1918, but I hadn't been back since the book was published. I pulled in and parked and watched a group headed out for a tour with one of the volunteer guides. I had begun my research by taking that tour, and then taking it a second time a few days later (and after that had worked in the library there, using the original documents and diaries).
I stopped in the gift shop, saw that the book is for sale there, and introduced myself to the two women running the shop...also volunteers. The village has a passionate and loyal and hard-working group of supporters and volunteers.
To ny great joy they told me that they loved the book...but more importantly, that I got it right, that the details were accurate and conveyed the history and feeling of this place that they love. And: here is the good part: that little girls arrive clutching their copy of LIKE THE WILLOW TREE, and want to know just where each little incident took place. Not everything in the book is availble for the public to see, unfortunately, but I was told that one little girl wanted to see the room where Daniel, the brother of the protaganist slept...and was shown there. They can walk up the hill, as Lydia did in the book, and look down at the village; they can see the schoolhouse where she attended school, and some tours include the laundry room where she took her turn at helping with the laundry and learned (and hated) to iron. They can see where Lydia would have learned to weave, and the tiny cemetery with its single headstone SHAKERS, where some of the "real" characters in the book...including Sister Jennie, who was caretaker of the little girls, are buried....
I have been spending the past two days at work on book revisions, making my way page by page through, so far, two-thirds of a lengthy manuscript, guided by insightful comments from a fine editor, and also by having been away from it for a bit, so that I see (and hear it) with fresh eyes and ears. The repetitive phrase...SLASH. The cliché description...DELETE. The murky parargraph...CLARIFY.
I love this process. It is not exhilirating the way the first blast of creativity can be. But it has its own satisfaction to it.
I am not...my guess is that few writers are...aware of the eventual reader of a book when I am at this stage of working on it. That is another, remarkable kind of satisfaction that comes much later. And keeps coming, again and again. Today, for example, I got a very moving letter from a 12-year-old girl who has been diagnosed with clinical depression. She said that in my book "Gathering Blue" she was struck by the phrase "Pain makes you strong" and she was going to try to start thinking that way instead of feeling sorry for her own incapacity.
Another letter, in the same batch of mail, was from a man. He didn't say where he was, but he said this:
Thank you for your wonderful characters and stories. They remind me that even though the world at times can be a scary place, and people don't always treat each other as well as they should, there is always beauty and love to be found. I have found a piece of that love and beauty in your wonderful books....
The weekly newspaper came out today, and my favorite section, the police blotter, included the item that a large group of geese followed the mailman down Main Street. It is unclear why the police were notified.
When I went to the PO to mail a few things, the woman ahead of me in line was receiving a very noisy package, which turned out to be a dozen baby guinea hens. Guinea chicks, I guess they would be called. Much chirping from the box, so she opened it and showed them to me and the postal lady.
Much chirping at this moment from my studio, and Alfie is beside himself, investigating. There is a chipmunk, it turns out, behind a row of books on a shelf. Maybe I should call the local police?
My last guest has gone home, after a nice lunch at Ebenezer's Pub, and with a big supply of freshly-picked blueberries. I will have to go out in the morning and pick some myself.
Much excitement...and company...over the weekend to celebrate grandson Grey's 13th birthday here at the farm. His Uncle Jon, an MD, gave him a skeleton. Now what boy wouldn't love to have that?! Bucky, as he is named, is currently sitting in a chair, legs crossed in a yoga position, in my studio.
But here he is on a rainy weekend afternoon:
Here in a very small Maine town in the summer, one of my favorite bits of reading each week is the Police Blotter in the local paper. This is also true in reading the Cambridge Chronicle the rest of the year, but Cambridge is a city and real crime abounds. Not so much here in Maine. There are the usual domestic abuse calls, the "fox stealing chickens" (yes, really, not a nursery rhyme), and the perpetrator-left-convenience-store-without-paying-for-gas. But always there is one report that stands out as truly unique.
Two weeks ago it was this: man in town calls police and tells them that someone has dropped human excrement from a plane onto his roof. Police officer goes to check it out and reports back that actually, it was vomit.
That was my favorite so far this summer.
This week: maraudng teenagers rearranged the letters of a church sign, and spelled, instead of the religious message, "something foul." Since the police report didn't repeat either the pious phrase or its foul anagram, this caused me to waste an entire afternoon on speculation. I had very little luck. Best I could come up with is that "only begotten son" can be rearranged to spell "teeny oblong snot." I don't think this is what the teenage vandals spelled out.
But it did lead my thinking next about combining the two criminal events, and wondering what would happen if an airplane dropped teeny oblong snot on someone's roof....
My daughter is in the middle of moving and she just sent me this snapshot of something she unearthed in the process. This is a collage I made from torn paper back in 1978, and it shows my daughter with her/our cat ... long dead (cat, not daughter) ... I had forgotten this cat. But my new kitten, Lulu, is almost identical. Not that it couldn't be argued that if you seen one black cat you've seen 'em all.
Here's Lulu yesterday, on a hot day, lying on her back on a wicker couch on the porch
Actually, of course, I see now that Lulu has a white beard and feet; and the earlier cat...whose name was Sebastian...was completely black....
LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) - Lafayette resident Lois Lowry enjoyed some much needed relief from a hot Indiana summer day on Friday. Lowry has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and said she doesn't get out much, especially in the heat. A fan to help keep the cool air circulating was a much needed item.
"It will be more comfortable," Lowry said.
Lois was stop number one for employees from Lowe's delivering fans Friday morning. The store donated 50 fans to the Area IV Agency for Aging and Community Action Programs.
"The store itself, our store, has the ability to designate funds that are given to us, for what we consider to be a worthy cause," said Human Resources Manager Dennis Del Carlo.
That worthy cause was giving Area IV clients like Lowry a break from the hot weather....
I had been thinking for a whle about getting a cat. Or more precisely: getting Alfie a cat. Alfie loves cats, (when we go to my friend Kate's house, where there are two golden retrievers, Alfie ignores the goldens and runs upstairs looking for Amelia, the 16-year-old cat) and I thought that a cat would be company for him when I have to be gone from the house...he's been missing Martin, I think.
So I had paid two visits to the Harvest Hills Animal Shelter in Fryeburg, Maine, which is a wonderful clean and happy place. But as I explained to the people there, I needed to be certain that any cat I took home would be okay with a dog. They pointed out that most of their cats are strays; they have no idea whether they are dog friendly. And no, they couldn't let me take one home for a trial, nor would they let me bring Alfie in for a private introduction. They suggested that my best bet would be to get a kitten, which would not have had time to learn to be hostile to dogs.
So yesterday I took my visiting grandsons, 12 and 10, to the shelter. I told them their task was to choose a kitten, and they should base their choice not on beauty or cuteness but on temperament. We needed a mellow, laid-back kitten; and I said a female, becaise I read someplace that females are better mousers than males. Here in the country there are always mice to deal with.
So the boys held, and talked to, and played with, a variety of kittens and then chose a 3-month-old female. On the 10-mile drive home, with small meows coming fron the carrier, we discussed names...flower names, since it is garden season. Lily? Rosie? Daisy? Lacey, for Queen-Anne's Lace? Holly, for Hollyhock? Daffodil. Lilac.
Remembering Miss Rumphius, we settled on Lupine, and began to call the kitten Lulu....
My grandsons are visiting the farm and Grey, age almost 13, has just been examining this framed collage of my life made for me by middle schoolers at the Elizabth B. David Middle School in Chester, Virginia, two years ago. I should have mentioned it back when they gave it to me! But better late than never. So I'm going to let Grey describe some of the things that he found in it:
This is Grey speaking:
Hi, so here I am in Bridgton Maine apparently describing what I see. I see a great drawing right in the SMACK middle of the collage of the Newbery award and there is fabulous artwork of some of the many amazing novels my grandmother ( A.K.A. Oma of Omar, don't ask!) has published. Also I see my uncle who sadly perished due to a mechanical error in his aircraft called the F-15 Eagle. I am named after my beloved uncle whom I was never introduced to. Also I saw a drawing with the date "1768", so I then proceded to ask Oma what it meant, and then she told me that is was when the farmhouse that I am sitting in was made.
And now this is Oma speaking, or Omar (I am named, by the boys, for Omar the Tentmaker, because I got them a tent from LL Bean's...and that is where they often sleep in the summer)....
This morning I received a reply in response to a previous blog post, one in which I had talked about Martin and music. This reader pointed out that a Phyllis Naylor book, one of her "Alice" series, was dedicated to "Martin Small"...and, knowing that Phyllis and I are friends, the reader wondered if that could be "my" Martin. Indeed it was. Martin had helped her out with some chamber music information for that book (and Ithink she named a musician character for him)
Later, my brother, a doctor, provided some "field amputation" information to Phyllis for a book called "Blizzard." So Jon (who actually did once have to amputate a leg caught in a farm tractor) is in the acknowledgements.
Later still, Phyllis allowed me to use an old family photograph in my book "The Silent Boy," which is illustrated with old photos. So she appears in the acknowledgements, along with her husband (whose family photo it actually was).
Earlier, and just to show that it isn't only Phyllis and me who play this back-and-forth game, I dedicated a book, "The One Hundredth Thing about Caroline", to Michael Small from People Magazine. Michael, who was Martin's nephew, appeared (with his permisison, and People's legal staff's permisison) in the book....
...and so it goes. Two of the second graders in the Gooney Bird series (Beanie and Chelsea) are named for my granddaughter and the illustrator's granddaughter....
Yes, that Jeff.
The word is out...someone put out a press release, I suppose....that Jeff Bridges is once again trying to get the film of THE GIVER made. He has been trying to for some years! Things in Hollywood get stalled for all sorts of reasons, most of them having to do with money. But over these past years, with The Giver floating around out there, I have gotten to know some wonderful people who genuinely care about the quality of the movies they make (or don't end up making, as happens frequently). Jeff Bridges is one.
Most people (well, I haven't done a statistical study, but this is my impression) list The Big Lebowski as their favorite JB movie. My own personal favorite is a lesser-known film called The Door in the Floor. But when Crazy Heart was released, I came close to changing my mind. I loved Crazy Heart. I wrote Jeff at the time that when I saw The Door in the Floor I related to it in many very personal ways. I could believe in the main character (played by JB) because he was a children's book writer obsessed by grief after the loss of two of his children. I had been there. I was a children's book writer who had lost a son and had to navigate that territory myself.
But then (as I told him at the time) I saw Crazy Heart and he made me believe in that character as well. And that was more of a feat, because I had never been down and out, never been a drunk, never been as desperate and lost as Bad Blake. I thought Jeff was amazing in that film (for which, of course, he deservedly won an Oscar)....
No, I am not talking about the Casey Anthony murder trial. It's the reading-in-bed-with-a-flashlight question. If you look at comments to the previous post, you'll see the verdict is not final and maybe never will be. I think, though, that it may be a generational thing. I was a child in the 1940's. Some months ago I wrote a post about my scissor fixation...the fact that today there are scissors EVERYWHERE in my house, probably because when I was a kid there were never any scissors available when I wanted to cut out paper dolls. Mother wouldn't let me use her sewing scissors. Dad wouldn't let me use his medical scissors. My sister and I were always looking for scissors. Now I can't walk through Staples without buying yet one more pair. My visiting brother recently said, while looking in my kitchen for a screwdriver: "Why are there six pairs of scissors in the junk drawer?"
Same, I think, with flashlights. If there was a flashlight in my childhood home (and there may have been, but I don't remember one) it would have been regarded as a serious and expensive implement (somewhat like scissors), not something for a child to fool around with. But today there are flashlights everywhere in both my houses. Flashlights are cheap.
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