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Old Friends, Old Works, and a Few New Thoughts

 I'm back from a wonderful visit to Chicago with Sam, Annye and Sunny,

then on to Boulder, CO, 

to celebrate the life of a dear friend, BettyVan Zandt, and re-connect with three buddies from my teaching days.

It was a beautiful tribute, planned by Betty's children and grandchildren, with talks by dear friends.  I came away with a feeling I always get at funerals and memorial services, that is, "Gee, I wish I'd known that.  I wish I'd spent more time with her."  It's a reminder to keep reaching out and not to let time go by without contact--time goes fast enough! 

Betty was--is--an inspiration. Once I heard someone ask her birthdate (July 3, 1924) and tried not to let my jaw drop--she was a year older than my Dad, but totally my contemporary. At her advanced age she was vigorous and steady on her feet and although her eyesight was failing, her vision was clear and her engagement with life was lively. Rest in Peace, Betty.

Now I'll celebrate one who's here now--my nephew Danny, who I told you about in June when he resigned as chief counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee. You can view Senator Dick Durban's tribute on the Senate floor HERE

Danny hasn't been idle.  In fact, all the time he was working away in Congress he and his daughter, Maya, were writing a book, which has been published!  And it's wonderful!!

The Book Cook, written by D.C. Swanson, illustrated by Clint Hansen, published by Baobab Books for Young Readers, is an absolute treat. This is not just a doting aunt speaking--I am truly impressed at the artistry shown here in both words and pictures. 

It's a long poem, reminiscent of "The Night Before Christmas," about two children looking for a gift for their mom. As a mom I heartily endorse this theme.  It's about making a Book! It's perfect for reading together and I can see it becoming a family tradition for the holidays.  It's not a book you can take in at one reading, it requires some concentration and an investment of time. I'm sure you agree that's a good thing, right?

And the illustrations!  I put a lot of detail in my own work so I have an idea of what this takes but I am in awe of Clint Hansen. He works in Scratch Art, a reductive medium--a white surface covered with black ink--you write with a stylus, taking away the ink so you write white lines.  He has hidden all sorts of treats and surprises that reveal themselves upon close reading. Look at this basket!  I really wish I were a better photographer because this is much sharper than I can manage. I googled The Book Cook and it's available on Amazon, Barnes&Noble and many other book sellers. Why not start your Christmas shopping early?

What about my own work?   In the clean-up session I told you about last week I found several versions of the bird I put with the blue house here. This is almost finished--I just want to do something with those dark forms between the first and second floors--they're too dark.  They stood out too much when they were gold and they're still not right but the only way to make them lighter is to paste new paper over them. Or maybe I'll make other parts of the house darker too, to balance it but I need the bird's beak to stand against a light background so it doesn't get lost, so I don't know. I'll work it out.

  I don't know exactly what this bird is called; I think I gave away the book I found him in.  I love his big feet and bold stride.  Maybe Yellowlegs? I'm going to name him Strider. If you know better I'd love to hear from you. 

I'm not crazy about the backgrounds here so I may cut them free and give them a new home.  I'll keep you informed.

Autumn is definitely here; we saw some gorgeous trees in Chicago and Boulder.  I miss Vermont's maple trees but the Honey Locusts here are so beautiful I won't complain.

October 26, 2023

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