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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

An existential question




A week ago today, I was on the treadmill when I wisely got the idea that it might be fun to try to scoop up the dog's ball and throw it for her -- while the treadmill was moving. It will shock you to learn that I fell, tried to scramble to my feet, but lost a couple of layers of skin off my knees before managing to gain uprightitudeness.
The next day, I woke up feeling like I'd been hit by a truck. Not such a surprise. I also developed a bit of a cough.
The day after that, Christmas Eve, I woke up with the cough and head congestion and a massive migraine and spent the day throwing up and writhing in fever.
The day after that, I no longer felt like I wanted to swallow a cyanide pill and end it all, but I still did not feel good. And the cough had deepened.
The day after that, I felt maybe yet a little less bad, but not good. And the cough had deepend.
The day after that I felt maybe a little less bad, but I could eat. Sort of.
The day after that is today. Today I am not yet well, but well enough to wonder: Did this all happen because I tried to pick up the dog's ball and throw it for her while I was on my treadmill?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Christmas Spirit Shall Not Be Denied



Every year, as the holiday season starts rolling, I wonder if this will be the year that I never am able to muster the Christmas spirit. And every year, the spirit kicks in -- sooner or later.

I wasn't that jazzed about the prospect of attending last Saturday's Cleveland Jazz Orchestra Christmas concert, to tell the truth, mostly because I find that I have waning patience for sitting and watching musicians. Music is the stuff of life, of course; it's the sitting in a cramped theater seat, just watching ... nothing ... in particular. I wish they'd show cartoons or something.

Anyway, this year the confluence of having my sketchbook and pen in hand and listening to an especially inspired musical program cheered me and brought on the spirit. Oh, and by the way, that's a pretty good likeness (if I say so) of band leader Sean Jones. You can check him out in a photo on this page, if you're interested.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Pearl and Lily



Up the street lives a small and sausagey American bulldog/beagle mix named Lily. Her upbeat nature and charm would win over anyone, but she has particularly attracted the friendship of our Newfoundland, Pearl. They met two summers ago when Lily was outside with her humans, playing in a baby pool. Pearl joined in. As of today, it is impossible for us to walk past the house where Lily lives without Pearl tugging us toward her front door. Lily has been joined recently by a baby Rottweiler named Diesel who is too cute for words. But the bond is still between Pearl and Lily, who chase each other and body-check each other and roll around and just run. Lily sometimes grabs Pearlie's leash in her mouth and leads her in whatever direction she wants to go.

I do not lie or even exaggerate when I say that any moderately intuitive human can feel the love vibrating off these animals when they're together.

It is so perfect that all you can do is wait for something to interrupt the perfection - like news that Lily's humans will be looking to relocate to Washington, D.C. next year. It would be a good move for the humans involved, I'm sure. The dogs, not so much.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Shoe Heaven



OK, not the best sketch here, but still I must post it because I I want you to know (talk about your free publicity) about my new favorite shoes.

Now when I say "favorite shoes," I don't mean they're the most stylish. For that I must thank John Fluevog of Canada.

When I say "favorite shoes," what I mean is that my new clogs 1) have purple owls on them and, perhaps more importantly, 2) are the first shoes I've ever owned that I like wearing better than I like going barefooted. Think about it, ye barefooted gods and goddesses.

Yeah, well, anyway, here's where I got them. The company is called The Swanx, although the brand of clog is Sanita. The Swanx pays artists to hand-paint the clogs with wild and wonderful designs. If you were a complete nut, you could even have your pet's portrait painted on your clogs, though personally, as much as I love my pets, I draw the line at pet portraits on clothing. (Generic owlage is much better.)

They were 150 bucks, and well worth it. And incidentally, my clogs actually are a shiny black, but I didn't want to render them that way here for reasons too boring to go into.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Sketchbook Cleveland: Public Square at Christmas



So for about six months, I've been doing this great gig for Ohio Authority, an online magazine dedicated to the culture of northeast Ohio. As many of you know, I'd do this sketching-the-city thing anyway, but I love the focus that I get by doing it for the site.

This month, Lylah and I retraced our steps, so to speak, from an outing several years ago, when we took in a big gulp of downtown Cleveland at the height of the holidays and sipped drinks in the beautiful lobby of what I still think of as "Stouffers's," but is really now the Renaissance Cleveland Hotel. On our way to the hotel, we found ourselves in the midst of these chubby little city birds, so common I don't even know what they are. One might or might not have been wearing a Santa hat. :)

Anyway, please visit Sketchbook Cleveland for a glimpse at the rest of our outing, and as usual -- thank you for stopping by. It means the world.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

More Self-Promo via School Library Journal



"HOLBROOK, Sara. Zombies! Evacuate the School! illus. by Karen Sandstrom. 56p. Boyds Mills/Wordsong. 2010. RTE $16.95. ISBN 978-1-59078-820-2. LC number unavailable.

Gr 3-6–With a breezy and comedic touch, Holbrook shines a light on school experiences, from academic pursuits to classroom rivalries to gym-class exploits. Humor reigns, and readers will identify with themes and emotions, such as panic in “It’s Today?” “Frantic/panic,/sinking/sorrow./The science test/is not tomorrow.” Many of the poems utilize an inner voice and encourage self-reflection. They are brief and accessible, and Holbrook sprinkles conversational, informal prompts throughout the book that encourage readers to create poetry about their own experiences. Sandstrom’s pen-and-ink illustrations provide additional humor. The simple design is attractive and the book will appeal to reluctant readers and those who are intimidated by poetry. Language-arts teachers will appreciate the writing prompts and may even consider using this book in poetry-writing units. Students who are encouraged to “write what you know” will be inspired by these selections.–Shawn Brommer, South Central Library System, Madison, WI"

Friday, December 10, 2010

A little holiday fun



This year we're changing up the Christmas card tradition in our household. One of my two talented daughters has replaced me as the card designer (she's a photo freak). It seems I would not go completely quietly, though, so I'm Zazzling a new sticker design for pasting to the outside of those envelopes that never like to stay closed anyway.

Observe: The ornament cat.

If you are not on our Christmas card list and would like to be, please send me your details. I still like getting Christmas cards. Ergo, I still like sending them.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Gooood Morning, Dear ...



Those of you who share space with a cat or two may relate to the sentiment here. Even if you haven't had this very experience, you see the potential, don't you?

None of my cats has ever brought a mouse in while I was still under the covers, though one of our dear departed kittehs arfed up a half-digested one on the bedspread. I liked Carlo's understated response. "That was rude."

Anyway, this is an illustration for the phrase "On Top of It" -- a school assignment.

Thanks to my anonymous model friend, who put curlers in her hair and got 'neath the covers for a photo shoot. I promised I'd change her appearance enough to keep her anonymous, but she knows who she is. And I am grateful for her time and friendship.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Bear's Alarm Goes Off Again



Dear Faithful Reader -
You will perhaps remember seeing this post back in May of this year. It was in my large Moleskine narrative sketchbook, and it pleased me. However, there is no "art" without an "r," and the "r" stands for "revision."
So here, by popular demand (or by no demand whatsoever, I can't remember) is a different take on my illustrated doo-dad known as Bear Wakes Up. I'm attaching the words down below so you can see what was hard to see last May.

In Summer, Bear lumbered
Clod-plodding around the woods
Tagging the foxes and
Hide-seeking with the rabbits and squirrels,
Who all found Bear fun and loud
When he counted backward,
And scary because he chuffed and bellowed
When he chased them
And sometimes they even saw his long white teeth,
Though he did not hurt anyone.
Except for that once, and it was an accident.

In Autumn, Bear taught
Them to stay far and clear as he readied himself
For the coming cold
By plucking at the berry bushes
And swallowing proud pawfuls of leaves and
A bug or two with a look on his face that said
"YOU COULD BE NEXT!"
And that was the thing with Bear.
One could just never be sure.

In Winter, Bear slumbered
Snore-rumbling inside the old tree
While the owls perched still on trembly limbs
And the rabbits and raccoons huddled
Nestwise and the foxes
Curled in their dens
And everyone wished for the hide-seeking summer,
Except Bear.
Who instead was dreaming of a beach vacation.

In Spring Bear stopped sleeping,
Growl-yawning awake,
Stretch-mumbling for the rest of them to hear
As they scampered and sniffed the fine forest air
And watched for you-know-who
To stumble out and join them,
Which he finally,
Finally,
F-I-N-A-L-L-Y did.
Clap-happy they cheered their fearsome friend,
Who looked a little snarly at their greeting,
But who really meant no harm.

Most of the time.