Monthly Archives: February 2016

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The Warmth of Other Suns

Blog 6 - Warmth of Other Suns

When my book club said we were going to read this for our next book, I thought, “Good!  A book on Tahiti or Miami or anywhere warm!” But it is a book on The Great Migration. Ever heard of that?

No, most of us have not, at least not by that name. Astounding author, Isabel Wilkerson, means the epic story of the migration north and west by African Americans during the Jim Crow era, and beyond. “Beyond” turns out to be on up into the 1970s!

Her first book, Wilkerson won a Pulitzer Price, and with good reason. I write history for kids all the time; I try to tell the truth. But truth is in the eye of he beholder? No, it’s more in the mind, heart and writing soul of someone smart enough and brave and perceptive enough to suss it out and share it!

I have written “black history” for kids for 30 years and only now found a kindred spirit!  While I knew something about this indeed great migration, Wilkerson tells it best. Although I loved her tales of half a dozen real-life characters, it was her interspersed explanation of the truth behind the story that was so awesome.

In a time when standards simplify (and sanitize?) history, how important it is for us to read the truth, tell the truth, share the truth. I don’t often devote my life to 800+ page reads, but this one was worthy (Thanks Lucy for choosing it!)  At book club, we had an invigorating three hour discussion about this book. Honestly, I think young readers, when given worthy, truth-telling-warts-and-all material…would do the same.

Now doesn’t the thought of kids animatedly talking about history for THREE HOURS straight (and no wine) just give you cold chills!

A Woman in Time

Winter Views Sculpture 1:29 send from CaroleA few months ago, my coastal cottage was featured on the website, Houzz.  I was unfamiliar with this site, but now I am hooked.  They not only do a great job of featuring lovely, varied and creative homes, they just seem to have a wealth of stuff to look at!

Recently perusing winter photographs (we Southerners like to look even if we are glad we are warm and dry!) on the site, I spotted this sculpture.  I love sculpture!  I love large sculptures that kids can crawl all over, under and through.   I write books, which only requires the space between my ears and my fingers over a keyboard.  I can’t imagine creating giant sculptures that need unwieldy tools, and standing at a distance to see how you are coming along!

I just thought this one was beautiful against the snow.  I’m not sure of the sculptor’s thoughts, but I love this woman in time, yet a woman in motion.  Is she moving so fast that the stuff she trails is trying to keep up?  Or are the past, history, etc. propelling her forward?

If you saw her right away, you have a better eye than me.  I clicked on through, then had that “OMG!” moment and went back…there she was, waiting for me.  Perhaps with a smile?

A Book as Quilt

Some of my favorite things are beautiful quilts!Quilts

Once, I even packed up husband Bob and then twelve-year-old granddaughter Christina and we headed to Lincoln, Nebraska for the grand opening of the International Quilt Museum. Lest you imagine that meant only old-fashioned frontier- and colonial-era quilts, envision a much broader spectrum of craft.

This impressive collection included fantastic white on white quilts from France, with teeny-tiny stitches only a fair hand of yore could have produced. Yes, the range of quilts included historical log cabin quilts, but zoomed on into the future with amazing three-dimensional quilts in brilliant jewel-tone colors, suitable for the multi-million dollar loft apartment overlooking Central Park in New York City.

In addition to quilts hung on the museum walls or stretched over quilting frames, a high tech multimedia studio let you look up any quilt and enlarge any area to see the magic of a single stitch.

Once, I admired a really old cigar wrapper quilt, and before I could quite think, “Hmm, that could be a collector’s item and worthy investment,” the quilt was snatched from the window in the heart of Buckhead in Atlanta, and traded to a smiling young man in exchange for a gold American Express card. Darn!

I have often compared writing a book to quilting. The covers are the front and back of the book quilt. In between, you must tuck a thick layer of wonderful story. Overall, you must stitch the story into a whole with clever stitches, intricate design, and the occasional surprise—a secret pocket, perhaps, in which to hide the missing wedding ring?

Quilting is metaphor for many a thing. When I quilt a good book, I feel I can wrap myself in it forever. I can’t do a good stitch at all with needle and thread—but I can cobble together some worthy words on occasion.

We are all quilters—in some fashion or the other—if we think about it, aren’t we?

 

Quilts created by Dyani White Hawk, of Lakota/European ancestry

Love a Teacher

Love a TeacherRecently, I hosted a book sale in my home.

It was great fun:  cookies, punch, neighbors, Christmas coming and grandkids and such to buy for!  However one neighbor said, “I have no children in my family to buy books for, so how about you picking out some for me and I will buy them and donate them to a teacher in a local school?”

How ’bout that, indeed!  Statistics show that U.S. teachers spend an average of $500 each year out of their own pockets to purchase books and other supplemental materials for their classroom.  Many teachers also buy books or school supplies for students whose families cannot afford to do so.  In fact, about 75% of all classroom supplies are bought and paid for by teachers!

For a few years, some states actually gave teachers $$ to spend on their classroom.  Some states have a tax-free holiday for teachers to purchase supplies, but not have to pay the tax.  We pay our teachers little enough as it is, and yet they still have the generosity to buy stuff for their class and students.  You gotta love that, even if it should bother us quite a bit, don’t you think?

So this Valentine’s month, give a teacher some love—books and school supplies are as close as the grocery store, drug store, bookstore, office supply store, and almost any location you frequent.

You can also buy books from any publisher; they will be glad to make recommendations on age levels or subject matter.

This will be fun, make you feel good, make a teacher happy, and help kids.  Many students truly lack the resources they need to achieve success at school this very year.  If you are short of time, a gift card can also work!

Love a teacher this month!

And FYI:  XOXOXOXO for doing so!

Here’s a reminder photo, hint!  Hint!