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Not me, but thanks for the fan

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on Friday, 15 July 2011
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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.

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Little Lulu

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on Monday, 11 July 2011
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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.

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Collage

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on Saturday, 09 July 2011
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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:

Collage

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).

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A rose by any other name...

Posted by Lois Lowry
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on Thursday, 07 July 2011
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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.

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Jeff and me

Posted by Lois Lowry
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on Thursday, 30 June 2011
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Jeff-bridges1

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).

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The jury is still out

Posted by Lois Lowry
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on Tuesday, 28 June 2011
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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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Maine days

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on Sunday, 05 June 2011
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I head back to Cambridge tomorrow, to prepare for the memorial celebration next weekend (friends coming from as far away as Minnesota, California, Florida!) but it has been a lovely few days here, with friends for dinner Thursday night...

Rhubarb pudding

Here is a rhubarb bread pudding which was delicious for dessert. (Dinner was baked salmon stuffed with fennel).

And my brother is with me. (Here he is):

  Jon in kitchen

Everyone should have a meticulous brother who likes to fix things. Martin was a great guy and a wonderful companion but not Mr. Fixit. (My friend Susan refers to such men affectionately as "Jews with Tools")  Jon has busied himself at the Cambridge house and now, in Maine, he has taken on the problem of the old butcher block in the kitchen and its many years of accumulated crud. After solvents, sandpaper, elbow grease, and mineral oil:

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Life is still there and you still have to live it

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on Tuesday, 31 May 2011
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A friend has sent me this photo of Martin and me....

Hawk Mountain

...taken at the top of a smallish mountain, not far from our Maine farm. Martin, in his younger years, had climbed many of the New England mountains, and skiied Tuckerman's Ravine, the mecca for stalwart and sturdy skiiers... But though those days had passed, he still enjoyed the outdoors and these small treks to places where we could look down on lakes and sky and beyond.

Our trips over the years had often been to places where the scenery was monumental—the African grasslands; the fjords of Norway; the blue-gray splendor of Antarctica. While I remembered Austria for the cafes and strudel mit schlag...he remembered the bright yellow fields of wild mustard. When we bought the farm in Maine I lamented briefly that it wasn't on the coast, that we couldn't watch the ocean and its changes minute to minute---but he pointed out the sky, so vast across our hilly meadow, and how it changed in the same way.

Friends and family will gather on June 12th to say our goodbyes, through some favorite readings and some rememembered anecdotes...and music, of course; Martin's life centered around music.

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Coming Home

Posted by Lois Lowry
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on Friday, 13 May 2011
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A friend kindly sent me this photograph of my driveway in Maine. It was a long winter there, as it was everywhere in New England, and I have not been able to go to Maine since Christmas, so it is a treat to see my daffodils in bloom, such a reminder that May does follow the cruelest month, and that things are renewed again and again.

IMG_0860

I have been mostly silent on this blog because for 18 days I have been spending hours each day in the hospital at Martin's bedside and have been wrung out by evening. Friends have stopped by again and again, bringing food and wine and conversation and sympathy and yes, even laughter , such an important commodity in tough times.

Tomorrow he will be discharged and I will take care of him myself with help from Hospice nurses and aides. It won't be easy. But if it's possible, people should be in their homes, with their famliies...and dogs! Martin is so eager to see Alfie!...as their lives come to an end.  Hospitals are astonishingly noisy; privacy is a lost cause; the food sucks; and there is never a parking place. Aside from that?...well, the doctors and nursing staff are dedicated and compassionate (though overworked) and the technology is state of the art. There is much to marvel at and to be grateful for.

But now it is time to come home.

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Mothers' Day...

Posted by Lois Lowry
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on Sunday, 08 May 2011
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Today would have been the day that I flew to Orlando, for IRA.  My thanks to those authors who are filling in for me there.

And this coming Wednesday I would have been speaking to the annual meeting of the New England Child Psychiatrists/Psychoanalysts, but I have had to cancel that appearance as well.

Instead, I am spending most of each day by Martin's hospital bed and oddly being grateful for that (mostly) uninterrupted time to sit and reminisce about some of the extraordinary adventures we have had together.  I think it was at an IRA convention many years ago in Anaheim, where we found ourselves in a hotel elevator with a group of the New Orleans Saints football team...it was, we realized, like standing in a redwood forest.

It was 1985 whe we spent time in Africa, 1992 when we spent time in Antarctica, 1995 when we were in rural Japan....and when, just this week, they looked at a chest x-ray and commented on some healed rib fractures...we remembered the rafting trip down the Colorado River---who knows what year!---when he fell on some rocks, broke some ribs, and then had to continue for the remaining 3 days (of 9) thudding down the river...  Ouch.

Yesterday I received these photos from rural China

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Not running for office. But...

Posted by Lois Lowry
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on Wednesday, 04 May 2011
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...just for the record, here is my (long form) Hawaiian birth certificate (and please note that I was labeled "legitimate"):

LL birth cert

 

 

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Dreamworld

Posted by Lois Lowry
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on Sunday, 24 April 2011
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http://www.lsa.umich.edu/english/news/newsDetail.asp?ID=182

This is long. Sorry.  But it's a lecture I gave last month at the University of Michigan.

 

A beautiful Easter Sunday here in Cambridge, with yellow tulips in bloom in my front yard. I remember childhood Easters in Pennsylvania  and the frustration of having to wear a coat, covering up the new dress that I would wear to Sunday School. New clothes were a big deal then. Twice a year we would take a trip to Harrisburg---I think only about 18 miles, but it seemed a huge excursion---my sister, mother, and I, (it was a ritual that my sister and I held our breath while we drove across the bridge that crossed the Susquhanna River)  and go to a big department store to get new clothes.  Following the shopping we would go to the park in front of the capital building, and feed the pigeons with peanuts from a vendor with a cart. Everything seemed adventurous and exciting back in those days when kids were not overloaded with advetures and excitement.  

I am always aware when I start to fall into "in my day..." tales of simpler times, and how I rolled my eyes in feigned boredom as an adolescent when my mother did the same thing. How I treasure her stories now! Some years ago, in a book called The Silent Boy, which is set in a small Pennsylvania town in the early 1900s, I used some of those childhood stories of my mother's. She was gone by the time I wrote that book (which is illustrated with old photographs, including some of her).

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Well, it started with an H, at least

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on Wednesday, 20 April 2011
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http://www.aadl.org/node/40341

 

I hate when I make a dumb mistake. (Well, don't we all?)  This is a link to an interview I did when I was in Ann Arbor three weeks ago, and it's actually a fun interview because she went out of her way to ask not-the-usual questions.  But just for the record: I referred to a poem quoted in the book A Summer to Die as being by Housman; and it's not..it's by Gerard Manley Hopkins. And I KNEW that, which is why I am irritated with myself.

A.E. Housman:

Housmanae[1]

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colors

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on Tuesday, 19 April 2011
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I remember my children, when they were in kindergarten, learning, and then singing endlessly, a song that included the words "All the colors that we know...live up in the raaainnnboooww"

It is raining a little today and that means that the bright yellow of the forsthia is absolutely dazzling against the new spring greens in the yard.

When I was a child, my best friend and I used to walk "downtown"...about 3 blocks...on Saturdays, clutching our allowance money, to Woolworth's. We always ended up buying paper dolls.  But again and again I found myself lingering by the sewing-materials department, where there was a large display of thread, all arranged by graduated colors. Coates & Clark, I think was the brand of thread.  Is it truly weird that a 10-year-old child was each week tempted to spend her entire (small) allowance on spools of thread, just so she could look at the colors?

I was puttering today in one of the guest rooms of my house, and happened on this pillow:

Poppy

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St. Louie, Louie

Posted by Lois Lowry
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on Sunday, 17 April 2011
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I remember loving the movie as a child..."Meet me in St. Louis"...with Judy Garland, June Allyson, and Margaret O'Brien; I'm sure there were others who were well-known names, but those are the ones I remember so fondly.

I am about to leave St. Louis today to return home, but it has been a lovely stay here, despite some very strange weather..including tornado warnings the evening of the Arbuthnot Lecture at the St. Louis County Library.  So many good friends here for the occasion!

The day after the Arbuthnot evening, I spoke to an audience at the main City Library (as opposed to the County)...here they are, attentively listening to the MC tell them that no recording or photos were allowed (and at that moment I took out my cell phone and took this)

St Louis

..and this other photo is at a TV station, where I was waiting for my interview time,and the weather lady was doing her thing in front of the green screen:

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Click!

Posted by Lois Lowry
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on Sunday, 10 April 2011
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This afternoon, while working on writing a speech, I decided to try to find a letter that I received probably 26 or 27 years ago. I was referring to it in the speech, and I knew I had saved it, so I went looking. I pulled open a drawer that had probably last been opened in 1995.

Here is the stuff I took out of that drawer.

Saved stuff

I didn't find the letter. But I have now spent several hours going through what I can only title "saved stuff." And the most amazing stuff is the collection of writings from so far back that they are typed on erasable typing paper; it was painful, looking at those pages, and remembering what hard work it used to be to write!  All that rolling in-and-out of paper. Correcting typos.  And then revising!  Forget it!  It meant you had to retype the whole thing.

I found a picture book text called "Grandma's Alligator"which I think I had shown to my (now long retired) editor, and he hadn't liked it.....but I still do.  Hmmpphh.

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The cruelest month?

Posted by Lois Lowry
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on Saturday, 09 April 2011
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Not really. April here did begin with a snowstorm, as it does some years. But now the scylla is blanketing one corner of the yard (does anyone remember a popular song from the '50s called "Lavender Blue"? It had very silly lyrics, as many '50s songs did. But it does describe the color in the southwest corner of my yard ), and the forsythia is about to burst into its wondeful yellow. And we have taken the house off the market and decided to stay, because there is no place we like better than this.

I returned from a 10-day trip with a purse full of unreturned hotel keys and a suitcase full of laundry. It is very good to be home, though it was quite a wonderful trip, with great bookstores to visit, a few schools, a University lecture hall, a high school auditorium, a lot of enthusiastic readers, and quick visits with some friends en route. I was plied with gifts and fortunately most were small and thoughtfully chosen...a bookmark engraved with my name from The Tattered Cover; a box of note cards embossed with my name from Book Passage; the charming little dish from Copenhagen that Sean and Christine Astin gave me. One gift was big and unwieldy (a framed poster from my lecture in Ann Arbor) but I managed somehow to carry it without compromising my only-carry-on status; and Michael from Rakestraw Books kindly mailed me the book that I had no room to carry.

Here are some photos just sent to me from St. Anthony's Park Elementary School in St. Paul, MN, a visit sponsored by The Red Balloon:

Noah'sIntro

The wonderfully self-confident NOAH is introducing me here.

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Back home

Posted by Lois Lowry
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on Saturday, 02 April 2011
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I got home this morning from my 7-city trip (counting Ann Arbor separately from Detroit) and am still unpacking and doing laundry but will post some photos. Unfortunately I can't seem to load the vidoo of an auditorium full of wonderful kids in Chicago, singlng Happy Birthday to me! But I can show you the necklace some of those kids made for me:

IMG_3141

A mouse, an apple, and a willow tree: representing three of my books!

And here I am also in Chicago (Naperville, actually, at Anderson's Books), with Eric Rhomann who did the charming ilustrations for "Bless This Mouse"

LL and Eric R

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Alert

Posted by Lois Lowry
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on Thursday, 31 March 2011
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After Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Denver, and Minneapolis/St. Paul, I am now in Ann Arbor, Michigan where later today I will give a lecture at the University.  For the most part this has been an uneventful  trip, made pleasant by good people in each city. One unnerving moment when I got an email from my oil company in Maine telling me that my furnace may have gone off and my pipes may have frozen.....but it turned out not to be the case. Whew.

Now, another concern, which i will pass along, though i suspect readers of this blog are adults rather than children.

This morning I received an email (through my website) from a boy who had received a message, an email, puportedly from me. He had astutely perceived, from the wording and a mis-spelling, that it was not. But someone has created a g-mail address with my name in it and had contacted him (so I am assuming other kids as well) inviting him to a "party."

I've contacted the police and am waiting for a call back from the detective who handles computer fraud. In the meantime I can only hope that other young people who received this email will recognize it as a fake and won't respond to what could potentially be dangerous.

For all the benefits that computers provide for us......there is a whole new set of problems.

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On the road

Posted by Lois Lowry
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on Monday, 28 March 2011
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I brought a camera on this trip but unfortunately I forgot to bring the gizmo that allows me to download photos into my laptop. When I get home I'll put them in: a video taken from a stage in an auditorium in Chicago, looking out at an auidience of kids who are enthusiastically singing Happy Birthday to me; and a photo of me with illustrator Eric Rohmann, signing books. No photos from SF, where it rained every minute, except for one of the amazing bed in my hotel room. And a photo of me with Sean Astin and his wife, Christine,  in LA.  We went to the Getty Center, where I had not been before---it's spectacular---and found a quiet place to sit and have tea and talk about the movie of "Number the Stars"...

Anyway, no photos yet. But they will come.  I am in Denver now...where it snowed this morning!...and headed to Mieeapolis/St. Paul tomorrow.  From there to Michigan, Oak Park and Ann Arbor, and then HOME on Saturday.

It was interesting to be in public with Sean, whose face is well known because of the Lord of the Rings movies, and to see the number of fans* who come up to him and say, "Are you...""  "Could you possibly be..?" "Can you sign my child's sweatshirt?" "Can I have my photo taken with you?" and to see that he remains cheerful and gracious.  Fame could be a nuisance, I  think.

*including a group of women in headscarves who said they were from Iraq and had been in this country only four months

My hotel in LA (actually, in Claremont, east of LA), had a tiny movie theater behind it, and as I was finished with appearances by 6 or 7 each evening..I went to two movies: "Of Gods and Men" and "The Lincoln Lawyer"...in the evenings, which made it seem almost like a vacation.

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