Saturday, November 29, 2008

Catching Up

Here's the dog-ate-my-homework disclaimer: I started this post Monday, got pulled away, tried to get back and then the power went off for a day. Then it was Thanksgiving, then a day spent doctoring and cavorting around Ellsworth. (Sort of a minimalist cavort, on crutches.) And now I'm back.

I'm feeling a little better about Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State. Still wish she could be Health and Human Services or AG, and still fear that Bill's going to make an ass of himself trying to use her as a marionette, not that she'd let him. But the talking heads say she's respected worldwide and can work for Obama even if she disagrees with him, so I'm going to stop fretting about it now. (And the cry rings out across the land, "Oh, phew, another half-crippled neophyte kidbook writer from Maine is on board. Let's move on to the next thing.")

I am not feeling better about my lost camera, which seems to be well and truly lost. And will continue to be so until the moment when I take delivery on a new one, which will be sometime next year with any luck.

So I will write 1,000 words instead. (Not really.)

Eastport, Maine, where I visited earlier in the month, is spectacular. I had no idea, never having made it farther east than Cobscook Bay State Park. The town's main street burned down in the last 1800s, apparently, and got rebuilt in beautifully designed brick. A big surprise for those of us who were expecting a cluster of tiny white clapboard buildings trembling on the water's edge. (That's where I ended, after a lengthy search for a picture of Eastport's brick main street. That's it on the left, although I suppose the flat rooftops aren't the most scenic angle. More of a seascape below right. Now I'll continue jabbering on for a while. I borrowed the shots from the Eastport web site, by the way. Lots more where they came from.)

I'd been invited to talk and read to a library book group (kids) at three o'clock, but my neighbor Marilyn and I decided to make a day of it and drive out early. It's a three-hour drive, one way, but a gorgeous one, with blueberry barrens and seascapes and white houses and pockets of despair. I once again felt that pull to settle someplace more empty and ornery than Hancock County, although I know I'd be miserable if I ever left here.

After lunch, we befriended Donald Sutherland (the sculptor, not the actor), who let us into the new arts center even though it was closed and under renovation. Then we visited his studio, which he'd just battened down for winter with tarps hanging everywhere to keep the drafts out. Largish kiln, which must heat things up a bit. To make up for all the cool art, as you'll see on his web site.

And then we went to the utterly charming Peavey Memorial Library (pictured at left), where I read and talked to a select group ranging in age from kindergarten to adulthood. I was concerned that everything that came out of my mouth was scudding over the little kids' heads, and then damned if the first very good comment afterwards didn't come from one of the littlest. Who, by the way, noticed that I was trying to be funny in a place nobody else has caught. (Don't know if this tells us something about her mental age or mine.) The older kids were just as smart and polite and engaged.

In general, if I were to leave Brooklin and not move to Portland or Providence, RI, or someplace in England, I'd definitely move to Eastport. I certainly plan to visit again.

Out of time. Subsequent posts will deal with St. Peter, Minnesota, and the continuing joys of knee surgery. (Actually, I'm feeling fine.)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

B's Knee

I have masses of things I should be writing about--Wonderful Eastportians! Wonderful Minnesotans! Whether Hillary Clinton should be Secretary of State! (Quick answer: Huh?)

But all has been subsumed in the Great Move. I'm having my knee operated on this afternoon, (arthroscopic, to repair a torn meniscus) and will have to avoid stairs for six weeks. So ever since I came home from Minnesota I've been furiously moving office and clothes and all other necessities downstairs to the guest room. Fortunately, it's comparatively huge (compared to my office, for example) having been my mother's home for three years.

Still no word on the camera, not surprisingly. So still no Minnesota pix. But I'll write a little more about it after I get over being cut open and manhandled.

Wish me luck!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Life Is More Than a Lost Camera

Despite having left my camera on a plane bound for Kansas City and beyond (see post below), I am singing happy author songs.

First of all, yay for Kirkus Reviews, which included The Unnameables in its Best Children's Books of 2008 special section.(That's a pdf link, by the way.) The section recommends 31 kids' books for the year. [Edit: Actually, a closer look tells me it's more like 50, if you include a couple of separate lists I thought were ads. They offer about ten each of favorite series books and books mentioned on other lists.]

The book also is on the Indie Bound Kids' Next list for Winter 2008/2009. This is 59 books recommended by independent booksellers.

School Library Journal says The Unnameables has "a style and charm all its own," and the American Library Association's Booklist says "Patient readers who like a little quirk in their fantasy will enjoy this stick-it-to-the-status-quo romp." I'll be posting the full reviews on my website, possibly later on today.

Slight Technical Delay

It's official--Rob needs to pin a note to my sleeve when sending me off on a plane anywhere.

A couple of years ago, traveling to Florida with my friend Shelly, I allowed my wallet to fall out of my backpack during the flight and sashayed off the plane without it. Since it contained my only ID, life became somewhat fraught. Shelly had to pay for everything because I had no credit card and no ID for traveler's checks. We both had to go through Super Duper Ginormously Paranoid Yet Oddly Jolly inspection upon returning home. (This included the puffer machine, which somehow detects explosive residue by blowing air up your shirt. I'd do that one again in a heartbeat. )

This time, I left my camera on the Minneapolis-Detroit plane, and only realized what I'd done minutes before my Detroit-Bangor flight left. So today I began the phone trek from lost-and-found to lost-and-found, not the slightest bit optimistic because I had not taken the precaution of putting my name and address in the camera case.

Figuring, of course, that only a dunderhead with a nearly fatal level of dunderity could possibly lose a digital camera. Which, as it turns out, is true.

So, I have no pictures of the lovely seventh graders and college students with whom I visited.

There above, in lieu of them, and possibly as a placeholder for them if the planets align in exactly the right way with intercession from Saint Dunder, is a picture I stole from Wikipedia of the Gustavus Adolphus College "Old Main" building, where my friend Lisa has her office. Nice building, isn't it? I think that's Lisa's window to the left of the front steps. She has a great view of St. Peter, Minnesota, and environs, but I can't show it to you because a) my camera's gone and b) I didn't actually take a picture of it.

And c) I'm a dunderhead.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Really REALLY bad blogger

And it's because I'm in Minnesota, whooping it up.

Since Wednesday, I've been in St. Peter, Minnesota, talking to students of various ages (I'm the guest of Gustavus Adolphus College, where my friends Lisa Heldke and Peg O'Connor teach philosophy, but I also visited classes at the local middle school and sat in with a local writers group).

I did, for once, remember my camera and, miraculously, did remember to take pictures. (Oops, just remembered I forgot to take my camera to the last class at Gustavus. Rats.) I'll post them when I get home.

I never did write about the election. First time I ever cried in front of Jim Lehrer, but I'm sure he understands. Oddly, I did not feel "triumphant," as I'd expected. It was a quieter feeling, a wash of relief. I discovered that the current administration had actually had a physical effect on me...all of a sudden, my stomach lining is intact.

But we do know Mr. Obama is human, right? He's not going to solve everything, and certainly not right away. Anyway, it'll take years to undo what the current folks have done to our constitution and national morals and morale. But the longest journey starts with one election.

Monday, November 3, 2008

One More Day

My Obama sign lives! Wish I could say the same for the poor ex-tree, the rotten stump of which you see to the left of the Obama tree.

Didn't used to be able to see all the dead stuff in back there. More chain-sawing for Rob. *sigh*

But back to the issue of the day, which is that I'm such a quivering bundle of nerves that I'm getting practically nothing done. Tomorrow I spend the day getting out the vote, and Wednesday I go to Eastport, so it would have been nice to have been more productive today.

But instead I check the NYTimes web site every half hour, hoping to see a headline that says, "Obama hits 270 electoral votes in early voting." Or, "McCain concedes, says he didn't really want to be president anyhow." Or, "Time change speeds up rotation of earth. It's really 11 p.m. Tuesday. NBC calls election for Obama."

I'd really like this to be over now, thanks.

A possible distraction: P.J. Hoover is celebrating the launch of The Emerald Tablet over at the Class of 2k8 blog. The book sounds like a hoot and a half and I want it almost as much as I want this election to be over.

Another possible distraction: This extremely funny video. It's been around for a while, but it's still a gift today.

I won't bother to say VOTE because I know you will. It's tomorrow, by the way.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The Sign's Still Up!

Nailing my Obama sign to the tree appears to have worked. It's stayed up two days now, although only one night. We'll see. Only two nights to go before the election! (Gulp...)

I've signed up for three "get-out-the-vote" slots here in Brooklin. I know, I know...tiny little town, who cares? Hey, for want of a nail...*

I am a nervous wreck about the election. It freaks me out when the pundits start talking as if it were a foregone conclusion. Bad karma, folks...just shut up for two more days, please. (You have to say "please" when you tell someone to shut up. Otherwise it's rude.)

On the plus side, Gail Page and I had a lovely time reading at the Friend Memorial Library in Brooklin today. It was a small but very responsive crowd and I sold out of books, which is great because Blue Hill Books is donating 20% of the proceeds to the library.

Those who follow that link will be thrilled to discover that, thanks to the brainy Barrie Summy, I have learned the code for making links open in a new window. (Won't it be embarrassing if it doesn't work. Talk about bad karma.)

And I end with an annoyance--after looking forward to the McLaughlin Group all day, we discover that it's been preempted by Maine debates we've already heard. Damn. I need a pundit fix...

* "For want of a nail, the shoe was lost. For want of a shoe, the horse was lost. For want of a horse, the rider was lost. For want of a rider, the battle was lost. For want of a battle, the war was lost." Or something like that.