Friday, October 4, 2013

While I Wait... Keeping Skills Sharpened

While I wait to hear from a publisher, I am keeping busy and trying to keep creative juices flowing. 'Have spent lots of time in the yard, around the laundry lawn, weeding, watering and doing general fall clean-up. Our scarecrow, Jeremiah, has returned for another season, and the October decor in the yard is coming in to focus. Some other visitors to our yard this week have included a preying mantis, downy woodpeckers, robins, a golden-shafted flicker, several types of warblers and a great blue heron, which may save me the trouble of setting up an aquarium indoors for the gold fish from the pond. I think the circle of life is turning here at Tongueslip. My 6 year-old giant goldfish, Draino, has not been seen for several days. He may be flying over New Jersey wetlands in a new form.

Jeremiah II is the latest version, created to replace the original that teenagers swiped from the yard year before last. This version is fairly well secured, and we'll hope he stays with us at least through the Christmas season, when he will don his Santa hat and a warm scarf. I couldn't resist the LED pumpkin. We saw one in a neighbor's yard last week (even before October arrived) and when I saw it at our local hardware store, my 20% off coupon called to me. My patient husband smiled when I marched home with it after I went to check out the non-functioning orange lights for the fence. Since I only needed a new fuse, rather than a new string of lights, it seemed reasonable to spring for the pumpkin. It is so lightful!

Writing this week has been focused on the program for the 61st Ole Bull Music Festival. The event takes place on the 26th of this month, in Galeton, Pennsylvania, and I have much writing and designing of ads to do. Last night I did an abbreviated retelling of the story of King Hakkon of Norway and his escape from the Baglers. I discovered a charming rendition of this story by Lise Lunge-Larsen, with lovely illustrations by Mary Azarian. Look for The Race of the Birkbeiners at your library or independent book seller.

I try to fill the festival program booklet with information and trivia about Norway, and the history of the Oleana Colony that violinist Ole Bull tried to establish in Potter County, PA. Although the colony failed, it sowed seeds of music in the ridge and valley provinces of the Commonwealth. The program this year includes a retelling of the saga of Hakkon, a list of words we use that have Norwegian roots and some troll tales. Check my website, for more on this topic.

From trolls to Brownies... Brownie Scouts that is! This week I had to create a Kaper Chart for my Brownie/ Jr.Scout troop. Kaper Charts are a Girl Scout tradition, designating assignments to be done by each Scout at a meeting or at camp. My chart defines the responsibilities of each job and allows for the movement of girls from one job to another. The avatars for each girl were colored by them after I drew three versions of Brownies and Jr Scouts. The girls colored them at the last meeting and they are now laminated and have Velcro (c) dots so they can be moved from one job to another.
I'm pretty pleased with how this projected turned out. It also proved to me that I can draw people (if not overly realistic ones) so maybe I can get on with a new picture book I am considering. The idea was generated following a creative meeting with one of my friends and cheerleaders, Andrew. Following a productive chat with him, I am seriously thinking of revamping a chapter book I wrote and turning it into a picture book. So creative juices are still flowing and the always inspiring beauty of autumn nature in the Northeast is energizing me.
'Hoping all my readers are keeping up with THEIR creative projects too. This season is a wonderful one for finding inspiration. If you haven't read this one, although it is a week late, please take time to enjoy one of my favorite seasonal verses.

By Helen Hunt Jackson (1830-1885)

    THE golden-rod is yellow;
        The corn is turning brown;
    The trees in apple orchards
        With fruit are bending down.
    The gentian's bluest fringes
        Are curling in the sun;
    In dusty pods the milkweed
        Its hidden silk has spun.
    The sedges flaunt their harvest,
        In every meadow nook;
    And asters by the brook-side
        Make asters in the brook,
    From dewy lanes at morning
        The grapes' sweet odors rise;
    At noon the roads all flutter
        With yellow butterflies.
    By all these lovely tokens
        September days are here,
    With summer's best of weather,
        And autumn's best of cheer.
    But none of all this beauty
        Which floods the earth and air
    Is unto me the secret
        Which makes September fair.
    'T is a thing which I remember;
        To name it thrills me yet:
    One day of one September
        I never can forget.

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