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on Friday, 18 July 2008
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I have been in Montana for this past week, with children and grandchildren...and laptop...thinking I would get some work done (WRONG) while they were all off riding, etc...but instead it is all I can do to answer my email each morning.


One email yesterday alerted me to the fact that THE WILLOUGHBYS will be #5 on the New York Times best-seller list on 7/27 (they calculate these things well in advance). Hence the doctored photo I'm attaching here, ho ho.

This is such a fabulous part of the country. My German family--Margret, Juergen, and Nadine (my only granddaughter, age 14)--- had never been in the Northwest before, and they are astounded at the natural beauty as well as the wildlife.  

Oddly, yesterday my son Ben was out riding in the mountains with a wrangler/guide, who got a walkie-talkie call alerting him (her?) to the fact that a movie was being filmed in the area and there was a fake Bigfoot roaming around as part of it. Sure enough, they rounded a bend, and there was Bigfoot running across a meadow.. They had to beat it out of there because of the danger of the horses being spooked by such a startling phenomenon. 

Today Ben, Margret, Nadine, and Juergen are all on an all-day ride down in Yellowstone. So I am tending the two little boys who are tired of riding at this point...if they had their way, we would be white-water rafting again. We did that day before yesterday. But Ol' Grandma is not up for a re-run of the white-knuckle experience. One of the people in our raft (there were seven of us), fell out while shooting some rapids and though I was sorry for him (he was quickly rescued) I was glad it was a Kansas City orthodontist and not one of the two little boys from Maine for whom I was responsible.

We are staying at a guest ranch and one of the guests....an orthopedic surgeon from Antwerp, Belgium who is vacationing here with his wife and daughter....says he remembers my Anastasia books...in their Flemish translation... being popular when he was a boy...  All his female contemporaries were reading them. Him? "I just read about pirates," he said.

Here's son Ben and his two boys on a canoe trip:

Canoe trip#5
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Widgeon Cove

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on Monday, 07 July 2008
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Last weekend I was over on the coast of Maine, visiting my friend Middy, and she and I went to The Gallery at Widgeon Cove in Harpswell, home and gallery of very gifted artists Condon and Georgeann Kuhl.  Here's a snapshot of the view from their front garden, and another of the pendant made by Condon which I bought. Their website is http://www.widgeoncove.com/


Maine is filled with artists and no wonder...just the scenery alone is an inspiration. On the Kuhls' website you can see a photo of a rainbow over the cove. I was there on a more ordinary dat, though wiht such a view, no day is ordinary.

Kuhl's garden Necklace
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Toot Toot Puff Puff

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on Monday, 07 July 2008
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Yesterday---Sunday----we took the grandsons, 7 and 9, up to the top of Mt. Washington in New Hampshire by the steam-and-coal operated cog railway.  Mt, Washington, at 6000+ feet, is the highest mountain east of the Mississippi and has a reputation for brutal weather in winter. My friend Monroe Couper, a composer who shared a residency with me (and others) at the MacDowell Colony in 1980-81, died on Mt. Washington in the winter of 1994---froze to death when climbing in terrible weather. But on a summer day it seems benign, even at the top, and the view over the Presidential Range is spectacular.From our property in Maine we can see it, in clear weather, in the distance: snow-capped through June, usually.  One startling thing yesterday was that our train car contained several Hassidic families, the little boys with their side curls, mothers with their heads covered...fathers with beards, black suits, and fringed prayer shawls over their shirts and under their vests.  In addition...and very startling...was an Elvis impersonator. All of this made a mountaineering expedition seem a bit like a Fellini movie. I kept expecting nuns and dwarves to show up.


Rhys on trainView from train Because I was off on the mountain trip, I did not hear the NPR interview with me that was on yesterday but I heard this morning from a number of listeners. They did a nice job of editing (I listened to it this morning by going to the NPR website) but took out the funny dispute Liane Hanson and I had about the pronunciation of "wizened."



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channeling Lady Bird Johnson

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on Wednesday, 02 July 2008
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A couple of years ago I planted wildflower seeds across the border between my mowed lawn and my meadow..


Ta DA!

Meadow border Wildflowers
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Number the Stars

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on Tuesday, 01 July 2008
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This morning I answered an email from a teacher who is about to start using "Number the Stars" with a group of boys and wondered if I had any additional information that would enhance the experience for them.  I suggested that he? she? (can't remember) research Kim Malthe-Bruun, the young resistance fighter who was executed in Denmark by the Nazis, and who was the model for Peter in the book.


I remember first encountering Kim's story in Denmark when i was doing research for the book. When I saw his photograph at age 18, I took a deep breath because he so reminded me of my own son, Grey, at that age.  This morning I looked for the high school graduation photo of Grey that gave me that feeling of recognition, but unfortunately it is on my computer at home...I am using a laptop here in Maine.  Nonetheless, here is a photo of Kim Malthe-Bruun;  and I also found, in my search this morning, some excerpts from letters that Kim wrote from prison, which I will insert here.   

 

(1) Kim Malthe-Bruun, letter to Hanne about his experiences of being tortured by the Gestapo (3rd March, 1945)

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Other People's Gardens

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on Monday, 30 June 2008
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My friend, writer Kathryn Lasky, lives in Cambridge, as I do, and summers in Maine, as I do, but quite a distance from me.  Recently she emailed me a photo of a piece of sculpture made of found objects - created by a sculptor who lives near her in Deer Isle.  Kathy is the author of the owl series: The Guardians of Ga'Hoole (which I may have spelled wrong, Sorry, Kathy) so her owl sculpture is quite appropriate.


Owl sculpture

I am not the author of anything having to do with sheep. But I do love that kind of folk-art stuff; and so I went to the sculptor's website and ended up buying a sheep made from an oil can and some flattened auto parts. When I told Kathy she insisted that i need TWO sheep because ... well, just because. And I obeyed. Or maybe I obaaaa-ed.

So now I have a pair of sheep on their way to me here.

Gas can sheep 003

I was actually up in Kathy's part of Maine, or close to it, over the weekend when I signed books at Left Bank Books in Searsport...a wonderful bookstore  way up the coast.  On the way home, I stopped overnight in Brunswick, Maine, to visit my friend Middy, who illustrates the Gooney Bird Greene books. Middy does not have an owl or a sheep in her garden, but she does have a wonderful garden:

Middys garden Now I am back home after the weekend, and at work on some manuscript revisions (too soon to talk about that book yet) and when i take a break from work at the computer, I am snipping off the over-the-hill peonies, hundreds of them, lining my driveway.  Alfie is sound asleep, having exhausted himself at a kennel over the weekend (How? not a clue. He was just in a pen all by himself)

My brother has an African Gray Parrot. Don't ask me why. Every now and then he sends me Parrot News. The most recent:

Freda (my brother's wife) came home alone after dark one night. As she entered, she heard an unfamiliar man's baritone say  "Who IS it?" twice.
She was terrified. Until Kuzo laughed at her from the bedroom. 
 



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it's for the birds

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on Thursday, 26 June 2008
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Pileated woodpecker in the apple tree.  Evening grosbeak on the bird feeder.  Two wild turkeys just strutting around. An average day.


IMG_1444 IMG_1442 IMG_1784
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more about the play

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on Wednesday, 25 June 2008
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Now that I am back from New York, the play is off and running and in the hands of the two directors, Stan Foote in Oregon and Jeff Frank in Milwaukee  This morning Jeff sent me sketches of set design and costumes..all of the behind-the-scenes, before-the-show stuff is so interesting!  The final readings in New York went smoothly and the audiences at the three performances had lots of comments. Me, I can see how it begins to come together and jumps off the page and into a whole other realm.  I'll see the final version in its opening in Milwaukee September 19th, and then...different version...in Portland in late October.


Back here in Maine, I am working on a book manuscript, and it's amusing to see how I now begin to picture the characters and setting on the stage since I have been so consumed for the past ten days by that genre. I was writing this morning a scene set during a storm and I began to think about sound effects and how they would, backstage, produce the wind and rain sounds. When I described, on the page, a drenched silk dress, I started worrying about the costumes and how they would deal with soaking a dress each performance... Gotta stop thinking that way!

This evening I will go to a party down the road, for people who have donated to the little town library. Little, but lively and wonderful, and such a vital resource for the people of this small town year-round, not just us summer folk!  Here it is, in all its splendor!Copy_of_fallext01

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Tasteless fantasy

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on Tuesday, 24 June 2008
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Well, this is irreverent, I know.  But I am picturing an interview show in the afterlife, with host Tim Russert having two guests: Tasha Tudor and George Carlin.


Ss-080613-tim-russert-tease.vsmall Tasha Default
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"100 Best"

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on Saturday, 21 June 2008
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Someone has just alerted me to the fact that there is a band in North Carolina called "Jonas Sees in Color,"  their name inspired by The Giver .   Attached, a photo of the band, looking not at all like members of The Community!

JSIC band

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Caramba!

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on Friday, 20 June 2008
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I am still in New York, still in the apartment that NYU has made available to me in a high rise building in Greenwich Village. My apartment is on the 13th floor.


This morning when I turned on my computer and went to the internet, I saw a news headline that made me blink.  "Man Glued to Toilet Seat Sues Home Depot."

Goodness, I thought; a man glued to a toilet seat must feel pretty stupid.

Then I decided to see if there was a place in this building to do laundry. I have been in New York now for seven days. I need to do laundry.

So, carrying a bag of dirty laundry, I took the elevator down to the basement and walked down a long corridor and found a large well-lit room with laundry machines, and indeed three women in there industriously folding clothes.

Aha.  I put my dirty laundry into a washing machine and then looked around to find a machine to give me change. There isn't one, because this is modern-day laundry...you use a special card that you buy from a machine. Okay. I can do that. I stand looking at the card-buying machine, and realize that it takes 5, 10, or 20 dollar bills. I open my wallet.  All I have are $20 bills.

Okay. Is it worth $20 to me to do laundry?  I decide yes.  I insert a $20. The machine rejects it, spits it back out.

One of the clothes-folding women comes over to see what my problem is. Ah: female bonding!  She speaks no English. But it is clear, as I take out another $20, that she thinks I am nuts for using twenty dollar bills.  She points to the place on the machine that says clearly $5.

I shrug. Got no $5.  A different $20 works, and now I have a laundry card.  She rolls her eyes and walks away and talks in another language - Portuguese, maybe - to the two other woman. Clearly they all think I am stupider than...well, than a man glued to a toilet seat.

But now I have a card.  I try to read the instructions on top of the washing machine but they have been obliterated and marred by age and overuse. I do see, however, that there is a little door to open and put in detergent.  I have no detergent.  There is no detergent-dispensing machine in the room.

The women are watching me. With contempt, I think.  The creepy words of the old Holly Near song come to my mind... "And the junta...the junta"  These women have formed a junta, I think.  They hate me. I am a blond woman who has just casually put a $20 bill in a machine. They will overthrow me first chance they get.

But one of them offers me detergent form her large bottle.  I thank her...overly profusely....and pour a glug of detergent into my machine, fool with the card slot and the dials, inserting my card several times, probably each time paying another $1.50, but finally the machine starts and tells me that it is going to run for 38 minutes.

I flee back to my apartment. I wait 35 minutes, return to the basement, and my machine...it is #41, (a number I remembered because it was my sister's high school boyfriend's football jersey number)...tells me it has 2 minutes to run still.

I wander around around, reading the instructions on the driers, so I'll be ready; then I sit on a bench and wait. The clothes-folding ladies are gone. I am alone.

The machine now says 0 minutes, and I go over and open it up.

It is empty.

****

I find my clothes: dry, unwashed,  in Machine #40.

I am now back in my apartment, waiting out the 38 minutes for Machine #40, in which my laundry is now being washed without detergent.  What the heck.  Maybe water is enough.

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New York, New York

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on Wednesday, 18 June 2008
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Coming back to my temporary apartment in Greenwich Village last night after the play rehearsal, I passed a sports bar that was open to the street...inside everyone was watching the Celtics/Lakers game; I was able to stop and see that the good guys were ahead. I was too tired to stay up for the end of the game but in the morning there was a text message on my cell from my son:  YES!  it said; so I knew the Celtics had won.


Today I had to go up to the NPR studios on 42nd Street to tape an interview for All Things Considered about "The Willoughbys"...odd to shift gears that way, since I have been thinking "Gossamer" all week.  I took the bus back to Greenwich Village and clicked this photo at 31st Street...



Willoughbys How weird is THAT?!


The rehearsals for the play continue to go well, and you might enjoy reading the blog at the Oregon Childrens Theater website, where Stan Foote, the director, who is here, is blogging about the experience, as is his intern, Olivia, who is also here.

http://octc.org/mublog/

Night before last, at rehearsal, Stan had the actors do scenes out of sequence in order to follow the trajectory of individual characters, which enabled me to see their development...their journeys, as it were...or lack thereof!...and then to re-write in order to delineate their growth.  The boy's mother, portrayed in three separate monologues, in each of which she is talking on the telephone, was at first too quickly re-habbed, too soon happy and successful. Even though as reader or audience, we want that for her...still it wouldn't happen that perfectly and neatly. Rewritten (and incidentally beautifully performed by actor Lisa Vasfeilo) she now is someone who is realistically moving forward slowly, sometimes stumbling, very vulnerable.

A dog, Toby, is an important character in both book and play. During this workshop, the actor, Alex Siriani, who plays Most Ancient, doubles as Toby and is a lively and appealing mutt...he's going to need kneepads to do the role!  I had wondered, originally, how theaters would present the dog. Stan says that he will use an actor, as he is doing here. Jeff, the director in Milwaukee, is thinking: puppet.  No, not a Punch-and-Judy type, but a sophisticated puppet attached to a human...it could work well.  Such is the magic of theater.

Last night's rehearsal entered into that magical realm, where the script, the writing, is not at all as important as the staging. Stan worked with the actors on the nightmare scenes.  Much of that, in the real production, will be enhanced by lighting and by sound, and that isn't available to us here for the final staged reading. But he and the actors are together choreographing the nightmares and creating their own sound effects; singing that begins in a traditional way and then becomes distorted and frightening, for example; body movement that slows and jerks and halts.

Here is Stan in his baseball cap, working with the actors who are on the stage. In the red blouse is Teresa Fisher, who plays The Woman, and who tells me she has a background as a social worker and play therapist...so she really knows what this little boy (John, in the play; there he is, over Stan's left shoulder, being played by Brian Mahoney) is going through.

Stan and cast
I'm not sure what Stan will work on tonight...maybe more on the nightmares. In any case, whatever it is, it will be fascinating for me to watch him at work. Stan has a great way with actors, encouraging them, teaching them...liking them, understanding what they need from him, and letting them loose when he knows what they have on their own.

Yay Celtics. Yay Stan. Yay New York.
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First read-through

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on Monday, 16 June 2008
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Last night (Sunday) was the evening that began the workshopping-of-Gossamer-the-Play. If I can successfully move the snapshot from my cell phone to this site, you will see a group of actors sitting around a table, along with me (playwright), Stan (director) and Cecily (dramaturg). First, the entire play was read straight through, with very few interruptions (although Actors Equity requires a ten minute break every hour and twenty minutes) and then it was read a second time, (but without the stage directions being read this time) with the director  stopping things now and then for (sometimes lengthy) discussion about a particular character, or the relationship between characters in a scene, how the characters were evolving, or what exactly we were trying to do, with a bit of dialogue. There was some trying things different ways, some experimentation.  My role was mostly listening, and I did that with enormous interest and appreciation for the hard work everyone else was putting into it..


This morning I re-wrote two scenes, one centering on The Woman and John (you'll recognize these characters if you've read the book. Otherwise: trust me); and the other with Fastidious, Most Ancient, Thin Elderly, and Littlest..a lot of fast-paced dialogue there, some argument, some interruption and quick back-and-forth among the quartet of characters.

Tonight we will rehearse again for four hours, with the two re-written scenes inserted. Probably some of it will still be reading around the table; but also, Stan, the director, would like to have actors up on their feet, moving around a bit.  The concluding performance next weekend will be a "staged reading"; it will not be simply standing or sitting, reading the script; nor will it be fully staged, of course....but something in between.

Gossamer reading The actors provided sound effects, sometimes hilariously...those things will all be done by the sound technicians when the play is actually produced, of course.  We had a pretty good owl hoot, though, a lot of loud heavy breathing when necessary, some not-too-great horse whinnies, and a terrific woof-and-whine dog.

Stay tuned!
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Seeing the past

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on Sunday, 15 June 2008
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I spent yesterday afternoon on the island where i lived when I was 15, 16, and 17 years old...  It was a very hot day- and I was going on from there to dinner and the theater -  so I didn't want to have a camera dangling around my neck; but I wish I had been able to take better pictures.  This is just a snapshot with my cell phone, of the house where I lived....but what you can't see is that from the windows in the back of the house, you looked out to the water of New York Harbor, and beyond it to the skyline of Manhattan, a 7-minute boat ride (one I took each morning to school) away.


It was an incredible place to live and it was very nostalgic, being back there.  It is now a national park, open to the public in summer, free boat rides over, and bike rentals available on the island.  People were picnicking on what had once been my front lawn. ( In the 50's, when I lived there, no non-authorized people were allowed on the island. We who lived there had special passes that we carried and had to show to the military police  when we went back and forth.)

Gov Island
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Re-visiting an island

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on Thursday, 12 June 2008
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I couldn't get a very good scan, unfortunate]y, of this new paperback book cover for MESSENGER; it goes with the two previous in the trilogy, in their adult versions...by which I mean intended to be in the adult, vs. the young-adult, sections of bookstores.  I like these covers; the first is green, the second blue, and this third one is brownish red...(it appears much redder in this scan)... each of them with two artfully-posed hands. I think they're quite evocative.



Messenger aperback  Tomorrow morning I leave for New York, and on Saturday I will be speaking informally on Governors Island, down off the lower tip of Manhattan...the island where I lived when I was 15, 16, and 17. In those days the island was occupied by the US Army; now the buildings remain, some of them quite historic; but the island itself has been given back to the city of New York and will become a park. Tour groups are beginning to be allowed over there, and I'll just be describing what it was like to grow up on such an amazing piece of real estate.

It will be fascinating to see my big old house, though I understand the houses, once elegant, are becoming quite derelict and will probably be torn down.  

My little brother Jon attended elementary school on the island but those of us past 8th grade had to go each morning by boat to Manhattan and from there make our ways to the various schools we attended.  Many kids went by a second boat to a public high school on Staten Island, some by subway uptown to private schools like Spence or Collegiate; and me by train to Brooklyn Heights to a private school for girls called Packer (which now has for many years also had male students)  Others of my island friends went to boarding schools. It was a wonderful place to live and I don't think I appreciated how lucky I was at the time.

In my memoir called "Looking Back" there is this photograph of me in a white dress, 17 years old, the day I graduated from Packer in 1954; it was taken on the lawn of the house on Governors Island.  I've not been back to the island since I went off to college that fall. My parents moved to Washington DC while I was a freshman at Brown.  June1954



Then for the next week, in New York,  I will be working with the cast and director and dramaturg for the stage production of "Gossamer"    You can go to the website for Oregon Childrens Theatre...www.octc.org.... and read about their plans for the play, or to http://www.firststage.org for the First Stage in Milwaukee, which will also produce Gossamer in the fall.

Red Sox at 6:05 tonight. Dinner in front of the TV, I think. 






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That time again

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on Monday, 09 June 2008
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After a week of cool rainy weather...followed by a couple of hot sunny days...the gardens have flung themselves into summer. And wouldn't you know it, I have to leave Maine Wednesday, day after tomorrow, for ten days.


Alfie & peonies Alfie has been having a wonderful vacation (there he is peeking from behind a bush) with various company...which he loves...coming and going (no visiting dogs this time, alas).

Clematis By the time I return, there will be plenty of other things in bloom but I do hate to say goodbye to the peonies and lupine be cause they will be gone when I return.






Driveway


Back garden My friend Nancy was here for the weekend and being an organized person, she sorted out all of my spices...threw away everything with overdue expiration dates...and alphabetized them. Is that a great friend, or what?!

Now I am back at work, at my computer, and experiencing an odd phenomenon: a story nudging at me: a setting, and some characters...and none of it/them part of what I've been working on. So tomorrow I may turn my attention there and see what's going on. It would not be the first time I've been sideswiped by a stranger. You learn to pay attention to such things, startling though they are..

Alfie was bathed and groomed last week by the local dog groomer; and I had my hair cut by the local haircutter; and tomorrow I'm getting my car washed by the local car washer. All of these services are provided just as capably....but considerably less expensively...in Maine, rather than Massachusetts.

The price of gas, though, is just as high. Some things don't change.

I filled the birdbath just after I took this picture! It's hot for the birds, too. A wild turkey strutted across the lawn yesterday, looking disgruntled.
Birdbath
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Flowers of several sorts

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on Tuesday, 03 June 2008
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I am now back in Maine...for the summer, though I have large chunks of interrupted Maine time coming up...and was pleased to see the gardens looking beautiful (thanks, Lucia, master gardener) and my new bathroom looking great (thanks, Dan and Darel, master remodelers) and my little town here starting to rev up for summer tourists.  I stopped in the local bookstore, always one of my first stops, and though neither Justin nor Pam (the owners) were there, I look forward to seeing them soon. In the meantime, I bought a book on Saturday which I have just finished, (on Tuesday, despite having had company here)....and am recommending it highly: "The Blood of Flowers" by Anita Amirrezvani.  Yet if someone had said to me: "Want to read a book about 17th century Persia?" I probably would have said (politely, of course): "Ah, no thanks."  But I would have been wrong.


USCoverIt is a moving and luminous portrait of a lost culture, and a reminder that the real tenets of Islam have little to do with today's terrorists who have co-opted that religion.

I am always sad when I finish a book that I love.  And it was her first novel, so I can't rush to find another by her.









Now here are a couple of other things to look at. But first, a little background.  My first-grader grandson, Rhys, 7 years old, recently expressed an interest in photography. So he was given a camera. Rhys-like, he refused any offers of instructions or advice. Instead, off he went on his own.

Here is one of his first photographs:


Poppy by rhys
















And here is an image from a more famous poppy-lover, Georgia O'Keeffe:

70010_b~Poppy-Posters
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Correction

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on Friday, 23 May 2008
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i said on an earlier post, talking about my much-loved Kindle, that one flaw..for me...was no pictures.  I kept wanting to see Joni Mitchell as a teenager, when the book was describing her early years.  Frustrating.
But since then: I've read (by Kindle) the Barbara Walters memoir...and voila! Photographs. So I was mistaken. And that is one lament about the Kindle that I can let go of.  Except for "Girls Like Us"...no photos. Go figure.

Also, speaking of photos, one other one from my Pennsylvania trip.  I was close to—but didn't go to—the area called Pine Grove Furnace (now a state park; the "furnace" is because there was once an iron-ore mining operation in those mountains, and a blast furnace; the stone ruins of the furnace are still there. The open pit mine filled up with water a century ago.  We swam there as children and told ghost stories about the bodies of men and mules in its depths)  Being so close made me google it while I was between events at the college, and in doing so I came up with some photos (attached) of what had once been a grist mill; I used photographs of it in my book "The Silent Boy."  After it burned, my grandmother restored it (you can tell, comparing with the old photo of the mill when it was in operation in the 19th century) that the top floor was gone, after the fire) Mill #2 Mill #3 and turned it into a summer home; it was where I spent summer vacations as a child, and where my grandparents were married, and later, my cousin Betty.  Now it houses the visitor center of the state park, and the porches I remember have all been removed.  

Thank you for being patient with this trip down memory lane.

The Mill
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Is the doctor in?

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on Thursday, 22 May 2008
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Ben and Lois 5:08 It has been such a long while since I have posted anything here that now I must go all the way back to Mother's Day, playing catch-up; and here I am on that holiday, in Maine, having lunch with my youngest child, Ben, who is a lawyer in Portland.
They always say that the black flies are rampant in Maine from Mother's Day to Father's Day and indeed they were starting in, that Sunday. I left Maine the next day and I hope the bugs aren't too bad there now because Ben is taking his little boys hiking in the mountains this coming weekend.

Much as I would have loved staying in Maine—bugs and all—I had to get back to real life because of several commitments: one a very nice evening in Maynard, MA, speaking as part of their author series there. I had intended using a power point presentation as I often do, but for some reason we couldn't get the computer/projector to work...so I just went ahead and started talking, planning on an occasional "If the pictures were on the screen, you would be seeing..."  etc. but a man in the audience crept up to the front, fiddled with the equipment, and suddenly: voila!  There were the photographs.  No idea who he was but he saved the day and should have gotten a standing ovation.

The day after that, I flew to Pennsylvania for a very nostalgic trip. Wilson College was giving me an honorary degree; and in fact, Wilson College was where my grandmother and her four sisters all graduated, as well as my mother and my cousin; and Great Aunt Kate got an honorary degree from Wilson man years ago as well.  My three great aunts all lived right beside the campus, and as I looked out on the house 918  (attached, from my cell phone) where so often I was taken for Sunday dinner as a child, I felt (and said in my commencement speech) as if my mother had just smoothed my hair and reminded me about my manners.

So now I am Doctor Doctor Doctor (this being my third honorary degree)...all unearned, but not unappreciated.

OKay. Here is a quandry I've been having.  Recently I received the following e-mail message from a young boy:  Hi, you sent me a reply to my question about your faith except you told me about your religion not what you believe or have faith in, my teacher pointed that out. So if you could answer these questions again, but this time about faith not religion. 

 I don't specifically remember his previous email, but I recall replying to someone..probably him...that I liked and agreed with what I had heard the Dalai Lama say: "My religion is kindness."  But apparently his teacher wants more from me, and although I have answered this email, I am still thinking about it ... because there will be others like it...and I don't want to be rude or evasive, but at the same time, I don't really feel comfortable answering such a question.  And in fact that's what I replied to this boy (and his teacher).

At the same time, I realize that if he had asked whom I am supporting in the presidential election, I would have said Obama without hesitating. Why does one question feel intrusive to me, but the other doesn't?  

And speaking of the presidential election, my dear friend Susan Goodman's new book "See How They Run" has just come out, and you should all, in fact, run to the bookstore and buy it. I've just sent it to my fourth-grade grandson.  It's a very clear, readable..and funny!...explanation of the American electoral process.

And here it is!!!


Seehowthey200
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Tread, tread, tread

Posted by Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry
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on Saturday, 10 May 2008
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Alftreadmill

Here is Alfie, supervising the set-up of a treadmill in my studio in Maine. I have one in Cambridge but soon will move up to Maine for the summer and need to continue trudging away. My friend Kay has convinced (make that coerced) me to go with her in January to a place that I am thinking of as Torture Resort (see website: http://www.theashram.com) so I have to prepare myself. Kay doesn't need to; Kay is always prepared! As I speak she is leaving for Peru to hike the Inca Trail; and she spends time each day at the gym, or rowing on the Charles River, but only of course when she is not off trekking the tundra of northern Canada.

The childish part of me (my main component part, actually) would like to say, of Kay, "Well, nyah, nyah, she can't write a book!" but the fact is she is in the middle of writing a book right now, while she is on sabattical from her teaching chores at Harvard.

The treadmill allows me to prop up my Kindle and read while treading, and I have just finished Barbara Walters' much-publicized memoir. In it she mentions a question she sometimes asks during interviews: 'What do you think is the biggest misconception that people hold about you?' So I have been thinking about that, and mentioned it to Martin (who arrived here yesterday) over a glass of wine last night. I told him that my first response was "that I am well-organized."

Then, after a second, I said, "But I am pretty well-organized, actually," and he agreed.

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