Wednesday, May 6, 2009

It's wet and it looks cold! I have got to get out there and trim those bushes. They are feet and feet higher than they were when we moved in but I really like all the green and watching the little brown birds bouncing in and out of them. The way the computer screen is situated, I can't see any houses, only the curly willow in the next yard over and the holly that separates our houses. There is a different kind of bush in the mix but I don't know what it's called; it drops lots of little white scentless blossoms in the summer.

What a wet spring it's been. Good for reading, not much good for being able to walk around the outside of the house now that the grass and weeds have reached knee height. Every time I get a day off, when I have nothing else I have to do and can get out to work, it rains. And then it gets warm. The grass gets higher. I can't mow. I will have to weed whack as soon as it is dry (ha ha) for at least a couple of days.

Monday evening (May 4) Third Place Books hosted Nikki McClure to celebrate her new book with Cynthia Rylant called All in a Day. I had been previously invited to see the Mariners play (they lost by 1) so missed seeing her. However, on April 15, about a dozen Seattle area booksellers were invited to visit her in her studio in Olympia. This was a wonderful field trip.

Bookselling is really a cool job. We go to dinner with authors, we meet them at events, we go on bus tours led by authors who live in the cities we are visiting, and every once in a while you get to see where the magic happens.

Nikki's studio is bright and neat, and her windows are huge, looking out over many of the views you will see in her exacto-knifed art work: beech trees, a hen, squirrels, a beautiful pink and white tulip tree featured on the April page of this year's calendar. Behind the studio, in what looks like a telephone pole, is a flicker's nest and we saw it come and go out of the nest!

Nikki showed us how she does her work with knives and negative space, quickly slicing away the parts of the black paper that she didn't need, leaving behind a sweet bird, perched on a thin branch, surrounded by leaves. It was so COOL!

We went to lunch, then, at a really great sandwich shop, called The Bread Peddler, and I think they were a little concerned about the crowd of women suddenly filling the entire ordering area. With only a little confusion about drinks, we were sorted out and headed to the park along the water (I think this part of Puget Sound is called Budd Inlet) for a picnic. And, yes, this day was almost warm and it was dry. There was a brisk breeze that came and went but it was only enough to keep us happy to be in our sweaters and scarves.

On our walk to the park we stopped in the middle of the intersection to check out the manhole covers which were designed by none other than Nikki McClure! It isn't often that you can say that manhole covers are sweet, but these are. They are big, metal circles,well, you've seen manhole covers, carved with little feet standing in wavelets and fish. I understand the manhole covers are for sale and I am seriously thinking about buying one. Dennis (my husband) thought one of these might be a really great birthday present and I think he might just be right!

We capped the day with a visit to the coffee shop (and I am sorry I can't remember the name of the shop. It is two names, starts with a B, is a gallery and a coffee shop, on Capitol street, maybe?) where Nikki's original art was hanging. When you get the opportunity to see original art from kid's book authors, you should take advantage of it. It is different from seeing flat art on the page. It was cool to see the shadows cast by unglued paper, the rain drops in the art cast raindrop shadows on the paper behind it.

A cup of some of the best coffee I have had in a long time, a wander along the art from All in a Day, and a little chat with Nikki about why she curved the horizon lines in the illustrations, and our day was done.

It was a lovely day, and I want to thank our Abrams rep, Andy Weiner, for organizing the trip, and Nikki for inviting us. There is nothing better than to be with other booksellers doing something like this, something that we can then share with you, the little secrets behind how books and stories are made.

After writing this, I realize that I have been sitting in sunlight in my mind, the light that was in Nikki's studio and in the park. I have been hearing the seagulls and the clanking of ropes on the boats moored along the promenade where we had lunch. Isn't that funny? Now I am cold and have to get ready to go to work.

What I'm Reading Now:
I am reading School of Fear, by Gitty Daneshvari, published by Little, Brown. I am going to dinner with the author and many other booksellers tonight (May 6) and, once again, must speed read my way through the story! I misplaced my copy of this until this morning. I despaired of actually finding it today-my house is a maze of books-but I found it a third of the way down a stack of books I had already read. I really have to cull some of these things. It, so far, is the story of 4 kids with phobias who are shipped off to a school to teach them not to be so fearful. They have just arrived at the school and have been served lunch (grilled cheese sandwiches made of cheese that have had maggots in them to aid in their particular taste. Gross. Kids will love this.).

Okay, now I really have to go!

Thank you all for yesterday's birthday wishes!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

I say it's my Birthday, I'm gonna have a good time! Thanks to the Beatles for the one song I sing to myself, over and over, on this day. I love birthdays- not just mine, but I've gotta say mine is almost always a good one. I am so happy that the people I know were born! You've gotta appreciate everyone else's birthday when they have such an impact on you. I like to thank my mother-in-law on my husband's birthday.

Isn't it lovely that we all have one day that is only about us? Even if no one else knows it's your birthday, it is still all about you. Indulgences, a slice of Honey Bear's chocolate cake; feeling a little special, giving yourself a break from guilt, the laundry, bill paying; sleeping a little longer, reading a little later, all those things that you don't allow yourself the rest of the year, they can wait one day!

Today is rainy and very windy- Ah, the wind. it reminds me of home (Port Orford, Oregon) which I never remember as ever being calm, except when standing behind a wall or shelter. Beautiful, seemingly warm weather always included a wind chill factor.

I go in to work late on Tuesdays so I am in the process of reading tonight's book group book, That Was Then, This is Now, by S. E. Hinton. I was up way too late, after going to the Mariner's game (in the rain, in the wind), finishing a new book from Random House called Maze Runner. Now,I must end this post, take a shower and do a little speed reading.

Happy birthday to all of you!