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Here's my house

Posted by Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry
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on Saturday, 02 December 2006 in Uncategorized

I am a list-maker. Always have been. When I wrote the first Anastasia book, ANASTASIA KRUPNIK, back in 1978, I created a child who made lisst in her private notebook. She could have been me at the same age. "Things I Love." "Interesting Words." "Favorite Foods." Typical lists from me at 10.

Now, of course, my lists are different. The one staring at me from my desk this morning says: Wrap Xmas gifts. Address Xmas cards. Buy dogfood. Prepare Power Point for Loudon County (that's Virginia, where I'll be later this week). Make doctor's appointment. Change sheets in guest room.

And none of that mentions that I have 24 people coming for dinner tonight. Potluck, so not a lot of cooking to do...but still.

So what am I doing? Sitting at the computer messing around, adding a post to the blog. Not even on the list. But it is 6:30 AM. Plenty of time for the other stuff.

Here's the thing about tonight. Over the past 1-2 years, several houses in our neighborhood have changed hands, and new people have moved in. It's a neighborhood of very busy people, all - or most -of them headed off to work each day. I know there's an architect, a pediatrician, a toxicologist, a Harvard professor, and others...some I haven't met, others I greet in passing but don't know anything about them. So I decided that before winter closes in and we are all snowbound, it would be fun to get together. I sent out invitations. As people RSVP-ed, some of them mentioned things about themselves. "I'm a poet," said one. Wow! A poet practically across the street! And someone else: a photographer! What fun to learn all this.

Yesterday I went out with a digital camera and photographed everyone's house. Then I made nametags, using photos of their houses, so that poeple can look at each other and say: "Oh! You're the one who lives in the brick house!" or "I wondered who bought that yellow house!"

It made me start thinking about people's dwelling places. The walls with which we surround ourselves. The spaces we create. Where we burrow in. In writing a novel, of course, I always have to design that lliving space, and I am thinking of them now: the ancient farmhouse in A SUMMER TO DIE - I created it purposely: to isolate the family (so that I wouldn't have to distract reader - or the book characters - with a neighborhood), to place them close to nature during the changing seasons, and to give a sense of continuity. SEE YOU AROUND SAM! on the other hand, purposely places a house within a neighborhood that is almost a small village, filled with loving neigbors who nurture the growing but fragile independence of a little boy. The sterile dwelling of Jonas and his family in THE GIVER...contrasted to Annabella's cottage in GATHERING BLUE, so filled with color. A garage apartment for a young girl and her mother in RABBLE STARKEY: a transitional place, a place from which to move on as their lives change....but still, two rooms filled with their small treasures.

Anyway: here is my house, straight from my own name tag. People who come tonight can say, "Oh! You're the one with the very hairy dog in the yard!"

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