Saturday, June 30, 2012

Shell Song

Here's a poem from a beautiful, beautiful book called Outside Your Window, written by Nicola Davies and illustrated by Mark Hearld, which will transport you to the ocean even if you're nowhere near a beach, but wishing otherwise. In fact, this encyclopedia of joy will take you to lots of places in nature, through the seasons and on a rendezvous with creatures of all kinds. It's more than a hundred oversized pages full of poetry, art and wonder. Dive in!

Shell Song

Fans and cones and spirals
lying in the sand,
white and pink and yellow
in my hand.

Pyramids and angel's wings
lying in the sand,
pearly cream and midnight black
in my hand.

Bishop's hats and triton's horns
lying in the sand,
needle sharp and mirror smooth
in my hand.

- Nicola Davies

Friday, June 29, 2012

a love note to reading

Reading is everything. Reading makes me feel like I've accomplished something, learned something, become a better person. Reading makes me smarter. Reading gives me something to talk about later on. Reading is the unbelievably healthy way my attention deficit disorder medicates itself. Reading is escape, and the opposite of escape; it's a way to make contact with reality after a day of making things up, and it's a way of making contact with someone else's imagination after a day that's all too real. Reading is grist. Reading is bliss.  (Nora Ephron 1941  - 2012)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

the perfect pick-me-up

Here's a cure for sour moods and the self-centered blues. No prescription needed, just a willingness to leave the day a little brighter than you found it. Or at least take the spotlight off the man in the mirror and shine some light out in the world instead. Recording deeds the old fashioned way, pen in hand, adds another layer of meaning to the experience. And makes you the author of your life. 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

summer, summer everywhere

No matter how ingrained the memories, summer is not bound by geographic location (I'm thinking Kingsley Lake, the Adirondacks, Kiawah Island . . . while your thoughts are probably wandering  somewhere else entirely). Nor is it a particular place (Camp Wingman, Aunt Gigi's dock on the intercoastal waterway, Whittington Little League Field). You don't need a tank of gas, a ferry ride or a time machine to get there because summer is a state of mind. And today we arrived. Summer is anywhere fireflies flicker, air conditioners hum and people stand in line for vanilla soft serve ice cream dipped in chocolate that hardens to delicious perfection. It's a whole shelf of mysteries begging to be read, a lemonade stand on every block and thumping watermelons to find the perfect one, then icing it down in a tin washtub for dessert. It's the casual Friday of seasons, a theme park for the senses, the perfect time to take a vacation from the routine. Set your GPS on summer, toss your cares out the window and enjoy the ride.  

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

read more, write more, live more

When writer Ray Bradbury died on June 5 at age 91, all kinds of magnificent quotes by him began coming over the internet transom which are as much about the craft of writing and the power of reading as they are about a love of life. Here are some of my favorites that I hope will inspire you, too:   

“We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.”

“If you want to write, if you want to create, you must be the most sublime fool that God ever turned out and sent rambling. You must write every single day of your life. You must read dreadful dumb books and glorious books, and let them wrestle in beautiful fights inside your head, vulgar one moment, brilliant the next. You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads. I wish you a wrestling match with your Creative Muse that will last a lifetime. I wish craziness and foolishness and madness upon you. May you live with hysteria, and out of it make fine stories — science fiction or otherwise. Which finally means, may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.”

"If you stuff yourself full of poems, essays, plays, stories, novels, films, comic strips, magazines, music, you automatically explode every morning like Old Faithful. I have never had a dry spell in my life, mainly because I feed myself well, to the point of bursting. I wake early and hear my morning voices leaping around in my head like jumping beans. I get out of bed to trap them before they escape."

"If you don’t read or write, you can’t be educated, you can’t care about anything — you’ve gotta put something in people’s heads so the metaphors bounce around and collide with each other and make new metaphors."

"Stuff your eyes with wonder, live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories."

"Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you’re there."

"There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them."

“It doesn't matter what you do, he said, so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that's like you after you take your hands away. The difference between the man who just cuts lawns and a real gardener is in the touching, he said. The lawn-cutter might just as well not have been there at all; the gardener will be there a lifetime.”

“Learning to let go should be learned before learning to get. Life should be touched, not strangled. You’ve got to relax, let it happen at times, and at others move forward with it.”

“A good night sleep, or a ten minute bawl, or a pint of chocolate ice cream, or all three together, is good medicine.”

“Your intuition knows what to write, so get out of the way."

 “I don't believe in colleges and universities. I believe in libraries because most students don't have any money. When I graduated from high school, it was during the Depression and we had no money. I couldn't go to college, so I went to the library three days a week for 10 years.”

“First you jump off the cliff and build your wings on the way down.”

"Love. Fall in love and stay in love. Write only what you love, and love what you write. The word is love."

"Looking back over a lifetime, you see that love was the answer to everything."


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

the uncommonly good book

While chasing her Corgis, the Queen of England happens upon a Bookmobile parked on the street behind Windsor Castle. She's too proper to leave without borrowing something, a happenstance gesture that transforms her into an insatiable reader and turns her staid life on its ear. I just discovered The Uncommon Reader, a wonderfully unique novella by British playwright Alan Bennett that is both a political satire and a love letter to the written word. This one goes on my shelf of favorites. A book about books. Which, in my book, is the very best kind.

Monday, June 11, 2012

marching orders

Who says to-do lists are just for the left-brained in our midst? I like the idea of dividing everything into three simple, serendipitous categories. Put this way, I'm delighted to dream up a new concept for a client today, create order out of chaos in the laundry pile and inspire love, hope and happiness to all.  

Friday, June 8, 2012

Did somebody say weekend?

Here's what I say:

Get to Target for one of these $5 crayon gems by Todd Oldham

 Just add lime

 Date night = fabulous movie + Indian dinner

 Take madeleines to the neighbors' French-themed dinner party

In the spirit of the Diamond Jubilee, finish this gem of a book.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Paging Popeye

I'd like a helping of health and happiness, please. That's what I'd want to tell the server if I were in a restaurant, but I'm actually in my own kitchen and this is my go-to summertime lunchtime treat: fill a small  to middling serving bowl with fresh green spinach and pile on sliced strawberries. Top with feta cheese, scatter with nuts, drizzle citrus vinaigrette over and grind black pepper on top. Change it up by switching the fruit to juicy peaches and blueberries or chopped cantaloupe and watermelon. Throw some leftover roasted chicken in if you have it. It's easy to make your own simple dressing in a jam jar. Pause to admire your little culinary masterpiece, then dig in and enjoy. Tip the server well. 

Saturday, June 2, 2012

an open book approach to life

"What she was finding also was how one book led to another, doors kept opening wherever she turned and the days weren’t long enough for the reading she wanted to do."
- from The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennet
(illustration by Quentin Blake)