[guest post] Brother, Sister, Me and You by Mary Quattlebaum

 

So pleased to welcome award winning author Mary Quattlebaum to talk about her new National Geographic Kids picture book, Brother, Sister, Me and You (2019), which features the unique sibling bonds of eleven different types of animals (including humans). 🙂

Mary is uniquely qualified in this subject as she grew up with three brothers and three sisters. Her lively, fun-to-read rhyming text is paired with color photos of adorable cubs, kits, chicks, pups, and ducklings who are having too much fun leaping, paddling, tumbling, climbing and bouncing together. We soon see how humans are much the same when it comes to interacting and playing with our siblings.

 

Sister lion leaps and pounces.
Honeybees do wiggle-bounces.
Ducklings paddle through the water.
Brother splashes sister otter.

 

So, why did Mary want to write this book? What are some of the things she liked to do with her brothers and sisters? Yes, cooking was one of them, and she’s got a couple of recipes to share. Read on!

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nine cool things on a tuesday

1. There’s nothing ho-hum about Oregon-based ceramicist Sara Swink’s work. She creates human and animal figures that tease our thinking and beg interpretation. She takes something familiar and gives it a dreamlike, bizarre, or even humorous twist. Her distinctive pieces definitely compel us to take a second or third look.

Her love of clay began when she was eight, with the encouragement of a neighbor who was a potter. She learned to throw on a potter’s wheel, hand build and mix glazes in high school, even buying her own wheel with money earned cleaning houses.

Some twenty years later, she began taking ceramics classes, then studied art history, printmaking, drawing, and foundry work at several universities while teaching. Studying with Coeleen Kiebert (whose approach is to fuse artmaking with the psychology of the individual) was pivotal in shaping Sara’s work. Sara’s pieces can be seen as expressions of her inner psyche; there is a personal narrative that runs through all her art.

Sara opened Clay Circle Studio when she moved to the Portland area in 2006 and continues to offer workshops. Find out more about her classes at her official website, where you can also view a wonderful archive of available and past pieces.

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a stitch in time: “the grammar of silk” by cathy song

 

Ran across this Boomer Girls anthology a little while ago, and it’s all coming back to me now. As Rita Randazzo says in the opening lines of her poem, “The Sixties,”

I remember them/which proves I didn’t/ fully participate.

I may be slightly partial, but I think Baby Boomers are the finest generation. After all, we had the Mickey Mouse Club, Barbie, Beatlemania, bell bottoms, princess phones, saddle shoes, hula hoops, Woodstock, the counterculture, the civil rights movement, and were generally associated with individualism and social activism. 🙂

Since it’s Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, thought I’d share a poem by boomer girl Cathy Song, a native of Honolulu. Until I read her poem, I had almost forgotten about a special summer.

 

 

THE GRAMMAR OF SILK
by Cathy Song

On Saturdays in the morning
my mother sent me to Mrs. Umemoto’s sewing school.
It was cool and airy in her basement,
pleasant — a word I choose
to use years later to describe
the long tables where we sat
and cut, pinned, and stitched,
the Singer’s companionable whirr,
the crisp, clever bite of scissors
parting like silver fish a river of calico.

The school was in walking distance
to Kaimuki Dry Goods
where my mother purchased my supplies —
small cards of buttons,
zippers and rickrack packaged like licorice,
lifesaver rolls of thread
in fifty-yard lengths,
spun from spools, tough as tackle.
Seamstresses waited at the counters
like librarians to be consulted.
Pens and scissors dangled like awkward pendants
across flat chests,
a scarf of measuring tape flung across a shoulder,
time as a pincushion bristled at the wrist.
They deciphered a dress’s blueprints
with an architect’s keen eye.

This evidently was a sanctuary,
a place where women confined with children
conferred, consulted the oracle,
the stone tablets of the latest pattern books.
Here mothers and daughters paused in symmetry,
offered the proper reverence —
hushed murmurings for the shantung silk
which required a certain sigh,
as if it were a piece from the Ming Dynasty.

My mother knew there would be no shortcuts
and headed for the remnants,
the leftover bundles with yardage
enough for a heart-shaped pillow,
a child’s dirndl, a blouse without darts.
Along the aisles
my fingertips touched the titles —
satin, tulle, velvet,
peach, lavender, pistachio,
sherbet-colored linings —
and settled for the plain brown-and-white composition
of polka dots on kettle cloth
my mother held up in triumph.

She was determined that I should sew
as if she knew what she herself was missing,
a moment when she could have come up for air —
the children asleep,
the dishes drying on the rack —
and turned on the lamp
and pulled back the curtain of sleep.
To inhabit the night,
the night as a black cloth, white paper,
a sheet of music in which she might find herself singing.

On Saturdays at Mrs. Umemoto’s sewing school,
when I took my place beside the other girls,
bent my head and went to work,
my foot keeping time on the pedal,
it was to learn the charitable oblivion
of hand and mind as one —
a refuge such music affords the maker —
a pleasure of notes in perfectly measured time.

~ from Boomer Girls: Poems by Women from the Baby Boom Generation, edited by Pamela Gemin and Paula Sergi (University of Iowa Press, 1999).

 

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a bit of loveliness: vanessa bowman’s still life and landscape oils

 

Thought we’d brighten your week with some of Vanessa Bowman’s lovely still life and landscape paintings.

Vanessa lives and works in Dorset, England, and graduated from the Winchester School of Art with a First Class Honours Degree in Printed Textile Design. She comes from an artistic family — both her father and sister are also painters.

 

photo of Vanessa by Greg Funnell

 

She works entirely in oils, thinning her paints to achieve the fluidity of watercolors. She loves celebrating the beauty of everyday objects. As a keen gardener and ceramics collector, it follows that her own flowers and found treasures often appear in her still life paintings.

I grow flowers which aren’t usually found in shops – dark, almost black flowers in Tulips and Centaureas, a beautifully marked hellebore in an unusual shade of green and dark Nasturtiums, jewel like Dahlias, fiery Crocosmia, Cosmos with their frond-like leaves and many more.

 

 

She begins her days by taking a walk with her dog, gathering her thoughts as she immerses herself in her beautiful surroundings, noting seasonal changes and checking her garden to see what’s in bloom on the way to her studio. Gentle hills, hedgerows, and regional flora and fauna appear in her landscape paintings — charming depictions of idyllic country life.

 

 

Typical of her landscapes is a detailed foreground of seasonal blossoms or berries that invite the reader into an intimate portrait of the Dorset landscape.

 

 

Her still life paintings center around the colors and shapes of her chosen flowers:

I am drawn to flowers as my main subject matter as I am captivated by the variety of colour and detail they offer. I am fascinated by the elements of colour and shape each flower offers, from the simplicity of a snowdrop to the complexity of, say, a dahlia, with its jewel-like colour and complex petal formation.

 

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poetry friday roundup is here!

“You are as welcome as the flowers in May.” ~ Charles Macklin

Did you know May is National Strawberry Month? Please help yourself to some berries and a ginger shortbread cookie.

 

Hello and Happy May! Welcome to Poetry Friday at Alphabet Soup.

It’s a new month — the month of flowers, buzzing bees, birds building nests, and nature-loving free spirits dancing around a maypole with gay abandon (are you one of them)? 😀

 

Phoebe Wahl (2014)

 

I loved May Day as a child. We wore muumuu and lei to school, and in fifth grade, we learned the maypole dance for the school program. So fun to see all those colored streamers weave together.

Here are two short poems in celebration of this lovely month. Hope your days ahead are full of joy with lots of time to savor the blossoming beauty.

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“Vilma Picking Lilacs” by Tavik František Šimon (1910)

 

MAY NIGHT
by Sara Teasdale

The spring is fresh and fearless
and every leaf is new,
The world is brimmed with moonlight,
The lilac brimmed with dew.

Here in the moving shadows
I catch my breath and sing,
My heart is fresh and fearless
And over-brimmed with spring.

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“Field of Flowers” by Jo Grundy

 

FROM THE BOOK OF TIME
by Mary Oliver

I rose this morning early as usual, and went to my desk.
But it’s spring,

and the thrush is in the woods,
somewhere in the twirled branches, and he is singing.

And so, now, I am standing by the open door.
And now I am stepping down onto the grass.

I am touching a few leaves.
I am noticing the way the yellow butterflies
move together, in a twinkling cloud, over the field.

And I am thinking: maybe just looking and listening
is the real work.

Maybe the world, without us,
is the real poem.

~ from The Leaf and the Cloud (De Capo Press, 2001)

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Ben Giles (2013)

 

Now, please leave your links with the dashing Mr Linky below.  Enjoy all the poetic goodness being shared around the blogosphere this week, and as Kahlil Gibran once said, “Be like a flower and turn your face to the sun.”

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💚 A SUITCASE OF SEAWEED & MORE GIVEAWAY WINNER! 💜

Thanks to all for your heartfelt comments and condolences about my dad’s passing. I enjoyed hearing about how your parents met, as well as your thoughts about race relations in our country.

Just so happens there were four Michelles among all the beautiful and brilliant commenters. Though M. Random Integer Generator was starry-eyed over all of them, he managed (with great difficulty) to select just one Michelle to win Janet’s book. And she is:

🌺 MICHELLE TURNER OF GOURMANDISTAN! 🌷

🎉 CONGRATULATIONS, MICHELLE! 🎈

Please send along your snail mail address so we can get the book out to you lickety split!

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