Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year

It's 20 minutes until 2009.
The 9 year old has a friend sleeping over. (Her parents are attending a New Year's Party, so it seemed simpler for us to invite her to stay here. Now we have to go organize their noisemakers to celebrate the new year.

See you next year!
-wendie O

Sunday, December 28, 2008


This is just to say --
I suddenly have time.

Time to straighten my room,
to find bills that need to be paid,
to find the federal discount cards for the box to attach to my analog TV antenna --
which I now can't use because they have expired.
to find a basket (or two) of wash that needs to be put away,
to gather all those things that need to go to the cleaners.

I now have time
to make beds,
to do all the wash that was waiting until I had 'time,'
to plant the bulbs that I bought with such hopes.
(Luckily it's warm enough today to do it)
to caulk the leaky windows to keep the house warm.

The reason I have time
is that I completed my last packet for Vermont College.
And because Christmas is over and all the presents were wrapped and given out or sent.
(Okay, there are a few more to send, but I now have time to do it.)

Time is a wonderful thing to have.
Don't you agree?

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merrie Holidays

Merrie Christmas and any other holiday you celebrate during and after the winter solstice.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Tuesday was Festivus

You do celebrate Festivus, don't you?

It's time to go visit MotherReader's Festivus Annual Airing of the Grievances. and air your gripes to clear the air to make room in your heart for happiness -- so you can enjoy the rest of the week's holiday celebrations.


Sunday, December 21, 2008

O Christmas Tree

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas tree, how lovely are your...
over decorated

This year the 9-year-old took over the decorating of the Christmas tree. And decorated it. And decorated it. It's never had so many ornaments.

We alternate between a Red and Gold tree,
a tree decorated all with silver
and an Angel tree.

This year she chose to use the silver garland and ornaments, but while I was making dinner, she got out the box of Angel stuff too. Yikes! Now the tree is full as full can be and there's overflow angels all over the living room.
What can I say?
It IS beautiful.

Now, who's going to help me UNdecorate come January?
-wendie O

Friday, December 19, 2008

Signing Books on Saturday

If you are in the neighborhood of the Bel Air Library (Maryland) on Saturday afternoon, I'll be signing books at the library store. It's located at the entrance of the building and is full of great last-minute Holiday gifts.

If not signing, then I'll do a storytime for any passing children. If not doing a storytime because most sensible people will be at the mall doing last minute Christmas shopping before the snowstorm hits Saturday night, then I'll be sitting there reading a book or playing with the Folkmanis puppets they sell at the library store.

Anywho, see you there?

(entered later -- what I actually did was knit, smile at the people entering and leaving the library, and talk to those who were interested about books, writing, and getting published. And let the kids pet my groundhog and kitten puppets. Oh, and one gentleman entertained me by telling me why his last name was worse than mine. Yes, I actually did sign some books for people to give to little ones for Holiday presents.)
-wendie Old

Thursday, December 18, 2008

One week? One Week!

I've been so immersed in completing everything for this semester at Vermont College that, when I printed out the last item (due to be in the college office on Friday) and lifted my head from the computer, I was shocked to discover that next week is Christmas. Yikes!

School closing Tuesday. Tuesday?
I hadn't sent in anything for the 9-year-old's school Christmas party which turns out to be this Friday. We'll have to do the class Christmas cards tonight. (making note to search the attic for those Christmas cards I bought at half price last year.)

It's too late to mail things to my daughters in California and expect them to arrive before Christmas. It's a good thing I went onto the LL Bean website last week and ordered some things to be sent. I guess, if I want other things to get to my relatives, I'll have to go back online. I hear that gift cards are nice. (as long as I do not give gift cards for stores planning to go out of business in January.)

There's no use planning to shop on Sunday -- they are calling for an ice storm this Sunday. (I work this Saturday.)

Is our house decorated, yet?
You've got to be kidding. Nope. Nadda.

The nine-year old will be a "WHO" in the 'Grinch that Stole Christmas' at her day care. TODAY! (It's a huge place and they do large productions for holidays.) So this morning we had to get her dressed into a suitable 'who' skirt and striped tights. Pink stripes below and green top above -- sounds suitably Christmas to me. And then her hair. Have you SEEN the who hairstyles? Hairspray was necessary and I'm still not sure it will be together by showtime at 5:30. We shall see.

A redheaded boy will play the part of the Grinch. This should be in-ter-est-ing.

I hope you are more 'ready for the holidays' than I am.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Nonfiction Monday -- Elephants of Africa

Elephants of Africa by Gail Gibbons. New York: Holiday House, 2008. Available now.

Gail Gibbons has been doing illustrated nonfiction books for years. Gradually the size of them has grown larger. I'm hoping the publisher sticks with this size, because any larger and they will no longer fit on library shelves.

Her double page spreads show the elephants in action, in the wild -- eating, moving in herds, care of the young. She even shows a cut-a-way of the very thick skin with an explanation of why it is necessary. Since these are African elephants, she also extols the practicality of having very large ears.

More blurbs of information are on the last page.

My only complaint is that the painting covers the whole page. Therefore the words, most of which run along the bottom of the page, overlap the grass or mud or water, whatever she is showing on that spread -- which could make them difficult to read for young readers. (It was even difficult for these old eyes.)

For elephant fans of all ages.
More Nonfiction Monday messages are here.
-wendie Old

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Brunch with Santa

Today the Woman's Club of Joppatowne held their annual Brunch with Santa in our library. Children ages 3 to second grade must either have read 6 books or have 6 books read to them to qualify for a free ticket to this brunch. The library handles all the advertisement and the exchange of reading logs for tickets.

The Woman's Club sets up the tables in the meeting room and decorates the place. They supply everything, including the food and womanpower to run the event. Plus,they find a Santa. It's my job to provide the entertainment. I have three or four standard programs that I like to alternate:

1) Santa books and songs -- especially Douglas Wood's What Santa Can't Do.

2) The Night Before Christmas program -- with a special appearance of Maynard Moose's little sister moose, who tells Willy Claflin's famous story, The Night Before Chrissmoose.

3) The 12 Days of Christmas program -- the kids help me sing the song and I use various books, crazy or serious, that feature the song.

At each of these three programs, I show off some of my Robert Sabuda cut paper Christmas books, many of which are available for check out at our library.

4) Today, I presented a new program -- all about Christmas Trees. I used a book with photos of a Christmas Tree farm, Eve Bunting's Night Tree, and Bear's Christmas Star by Mireille D'Allancé. The children helped me tell a flannel board version of The Tree That Stayed up All Year. I couldn't find a tree-related Robert Sabuda book, so I shared his Christmas Alphabet. (Hint, Hint -- RO-bert. Please do a Christmas Tree pop-up book.)

After donuts and juice, Santa arrived to talk to each child, have a photo opp, and hand out presents. As the relatives took pictures of the children (mostly with their cell phones), one mother wondered why all Santas told the kids that, Oh yes they'd get the gifts they asked him about. In between the two programs, our volunteer Santa heard about this. He decided to try to rephrase his responses at the Noon event -- and he did.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Buy Books for the Holidays -- and Beyond

A guest blogging message from the president of the Author's Guild:

I've been talking to booksellers lately who report that times are hard. And local booksellers aren't known for vast reserves of capital, so a serious dip in sales can be devastating. Booksellers don't lose enough money, however, to receive congressional attention. A government bailout isn't in the cards.

We don't want bookstores to die. Authors need them, and so do neighborhoods. So let's mount a book-buying splurge. Get your friends together, go to your local bookstore and have a book-buying party. Buy the rest of your Christmas presents, but that's just for starters. Clear out the mysteries, wrap up the histories, beam up the science fiction! Round up the westerns, go crazy for self-help, say yes to the university press books! Get a load of those coffee-table books, fatten up on slim volumes of verse, and take a chance on romance!

There will be birthdays in the next twelve months; books keep well; they're easy to wrap: buy those books now. Buy replacements for any books looking raggedy on your shelves. Stockpile children's books as gifts for friends who look like they may eventually give birth. Hold off on the flat-screen TV and the GPS (they'll be cheaper after Christmas) and buy many, many books. The grateful booksellers will be hanging onto your legs begging you to stay and live with their cat in the stockroom.

Enjoy the holidays.

Roy Blount Jr.
President, Authors Guild

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

NF Monday -- Now and Ben

Okay. Okay. I AM aware that nofiction Monday came on a Tuesday this week. That will happen when Mondays are crazy, crazy. (Packet 5 was due and sent to Vermont College late Sunday and Monday was dedicated to planning the library's programs for March, April, and May. Let's not think about the Summer Reading Programming stuff due in several weeks.)

Now and Ben, the Modern Inventions of Benjamin Franklin by Gene Barretta. Henry Holt and Company, 2008. Available now.

What a neat picture book/ science book/ invention book/ etc. As you move through this book -- on your left is today. And items we use today. And over here on the right is Ben, using the invention that he created that is either still being used today, or else was the origin of something we use. A-Maz-Ing!

The author, Gene Barretta, is an illustrator who has worked many years in film and TV production. He lives near Philadelphia and even named his son, BEN !

More Nonfiction Monday posts can be found here.
-wendie old

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The end of Turkey Day

Well, Thanksgiving was a week ago. Time to clean out any leftovers. Actually, that's my basic rule all year 'round -- any food leftover for a week gets tossed. (or if no one can remember when we served the food -- out it goes.)

It's the week before Vermont College Packets are due, so it's a busy one for me. Plus, since this is the final packet, there are all sorts of end-of-semester reports to do as well. It's an exciting time -- the last Packet. But it's also depressing -- it's the very LAST Packet. From here on out, my short stint at college will be winding down and by the end of January it'll be over. It was fascinating, stressful, wonderful, and awful -- all at the same time. And I'm going to miss it very much.

With any luck, I'll be able to keep in touch with some of the writers in the program. They also suggest that I give myself strict deadlines and continue to put the pressure to write on myself to keep producing. Good advice for all writers.