Tuesday, December 17, 2013

We Note the Passing With Deep Sorrow

Peter Seamus Lorcan O'Toole (August 2, 1932 – December 14, 2013)

Friday, December 6, 2013

Random Thoughts and Images

Here we are, December 6th, 2013, and I need to update my blog! All the possums are getting rowdy and irritable, waiting for news of any kind whatsoever.

The best news of all is my recent installation of a fine Christmas display here at The Library, with happy possums gathered 'round the tree.

 The Christmas Possums Display
This makes all the possums happy!
 There is nothing I like better than a happy possum.
Have a merry December 6th, everyone!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Oh! Maggie's Farm!

  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eJxm58htzqc   That' s not Maggie's Farm on the previous page. It's Soy Bomb! But here's Maggie's Farm, if the link works.

Bob Dylan Obviously Ain't Working On Maggie's Farm No More

He's busy with other endeavors.

We all know about Bob Dylan's talent as a musician, song writer, singer, music legend. But did you know he's also a painter? Welder?

He makes iron gates from scrap metal.

  Image credit: Bob Dylan, 2013 © John Shearer

“I’ve been around iron all my life ever since I was a kid. I was born and raised in iron ore country – where you could breathe it and smell it every day. And I’ve always worked with it in one form or another.
Gates appeal to me because of the negative space they allow. They can be closed but at the same time they allow the seasons and breezes to enter and flow. They can shut you out or shut you in. And in some ways there is no difference.”
– Bob Dylan

The hand made gates and his oil paintings are going on display at Halcyon Galleries in London.

 Halcyon's announcement states "Mood Swings will show iron works by Bob Dylan for the first time, alongside original works on canvas and signed limited editions, all of which will be for sale.

Seven iron gates welded out of vintage iron and other metal parts created by Dylan in his studio will be featured in the exhibition and will be displayed publicly for the first time."

 Dylan's paintings are mostly very clean, very open, with bright clean colors, the visual effect of a breath of clean air.

Bob Dylan

The Mood Swings exhibition dates are November 16, 2013 through January 25, 2014.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

What Did You Dream Last Night

It's that time again! Here at The Painted Possum, from time to time I tell a dream I've had and ask my readers to tell what dreams they have had. So, here goes:

A few nights ago I dreamed that I was onstage singing "Mack the Knife!" It was wonderful! I sang the entire song, and I remember during this performance, I was surprised and impressed with myself for knowing all the words!

I was wearing the cutest little khaki colored suit , very "au current," I must say. Not sure how to spell au current, but I think that's right.

Here's what my suit looked like.

Wish I had a film of ME singing "Mack the Knife," but I don't! 
 So, here's that famous guy himself,  Bobby Darin!


So, what did you dream last night?

Monday, November 4, 2013

Where did the Cheshire Cat come from?


The Cheshire Cat  is a fictional cat popularized by Lewis Carroll in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, known for its distinctive mischievous grin. But where did Lewis Carroll get the idea for the Cheshire Cat?

The phrase appears in print in John Wolcot's  Pair of Lyric Epistles (1792): "Lo, like a Cheshire cat our court will grin."

Dairy farming

A possible origin of the phrase "Grinning like a Cheshire Cat" is one favoured by the people of Cheshire, which boasts numerous dairy farms; hence the cats of Cheshire grin because of the abundance of milk and cream.

Cheese molds

Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable says grinning like a Cheshire cat is "an old simile, popularized by Lewis Carroll. It has been said that cheese was formerly sold in Cheshire molded like a cat that looked as though it was grinning." The cheese was cut from the tail end, so that the last part eaten was the head of the smiling cat.
Grinning Cheshire Catt, St Wilfrid's Church
Grappenhall, Cheshire
The cat carving in St. Nicolas Church

Church carvings

There are many reports that Carroll found inspiration for the name and expression of the Cheshire Cat in the 16th century sandstone carving of a grinning cat, on the west face of St. Wilfrid's Church tower in Grappenhall, a village adjacent to his birthplace in Daresbury, Cheshire.

Lewis Carroll's father was Rector of Croft from 1843 to 1868, and Carroll lived here from 1843 to 1850. Historians believe Lewis Carroll's Cheshire Cat in the book Alice in Wonderland was inspired by a carving in Croft church.

In 1992, members of the Lewis Carroll Society attributed it to a gargoyle found on a pillar in St. Nicolas Church, Cranleigh, where Carroll used to travel frequently

Room With a View

My Bedroom Window

Heirloom morning glories

My blog is being uncooperative again! I can't type where I want to type, so I have to type any place I can!

But, my morning glories are glorious

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

September 25 - They Say It's Your Birthday!


Most talented, most charming, most wonderful, crazy man!

Today is his birthday!

This is me with Jimmy's sister, C.J.! In Pensacola, Florida at her gracious, charming home.

Here's wonderful Philip Colin Mitchell,
Jimmy's best friend and my best friend,
with Phil's beautiful daughter Rachel!
Here's a geeky picture of Jimmy in the tenth or eleventh grade!
We all miss you.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Success Today - New Post

Hooray! A new post! The Painted Possum has been having technical difficulties for a couple of weeks! All the Marsupials are rejoicing to be back on line today!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Painted Possum Welcomes Dianne Hamilton

Dianne Hamilton is one member of the conference faculty for the Writing and Illustrating for Kids 2013 conference, taking place October 12 in Birmingham, AL. WIK is a great place to meet writers, editors and agents in the children's publishing world. This annual conference is hosted by the Southern Breeze region (Alabama, Georgia, Florida) of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI.org). To find out more or to register, visit https://southern-breeze.net/.

It's my pleasure to introduce Dianne, Senior Editor/Publisher at OnStage Publishing, a small traditional publishing company located in Madison, Alabama. OnStage publishes children's literature for ages 8-18.

1- How long have you been a member of SCBWI? Can you tell us about an experience you've had at any previous SCBWI conferences that helped guide your own writing, editing, and publishing career?

I joined SCBWI in the late 1990’s and my first conference I attended was a regional conference held in Columbus GA. [That was years before just Birmingham and Atlanta hosted the conferences.] I had written a picture book and was going to get it critiqued! I just knew I had a Newbery in hand! I learned how kind Faye Gibbons is. She managed to find something nice in my story so she could praise me while deftly telling me that I needed to learn my craft. I attended workshops that opened my eyes to just how badly written my story was. Everything one should NOT do, I had done!  I am still, to this day, grateful to Fay Gibbons for her kindness because when I re-read that story, I’m not sure I could have found anything to praise. I keep it around to remind myself how far I have come. I did final in a Southern Breeze fiction contest a couple of years ago but now I write YA, not picture books.

2- What originally got you interested in the children's book market?

I was in an active Romance Writers of America critique group and I discovered I couldn’t write anyone’s clothes off! [There went that career!] RWA had a great support group so I looked to see what other organizations had the same kind of learning/support. SCBWI had a local critique group in northern AL that took pity on me and let me join. I’m a voracious reader and love YA books. In my writing, I’ve found that I really am still a fifteen-year old.

          I became a children’s book editor when a member of the critique group asked me what I thought of his self-published book. “Not bad,” I told him, “but you really need an editor to focus your story.” I took control of the company when he wanted to concentrate on his own writing and not worry about the business end of things.

3- Can you tell us the titles of your recent, or your favorite, books published by OnStage?

Choosing a favorite from one’s “children” is not a proper thing to do so I won’t list my favorites.

      I will say that I have enjoyed recently working with author Jamie Dodson on his Nick Grant Adventure series which begins with Flying Boats & Spies, an award winning title. The series deals with the beginnings of the Pan American Airlines’ flying clipper ships. The series nicely balances history and adventure. And Wanda Vaughn is a great author to work with on her historical series, Alabama Girls.

     And I’m having fun with our e-book line of mysteries, geared for grades 6-12. Carol Norton has developed a series, The Locksmith series, for our e-books. And I’ve just contracted with a Colorado author for a series of mysteries with a boy and service dog as the main characters. Those e-books will be called the Tooten and Ter Adventures. And puns intended.

4- What can you tell our readers about your Alabama Girls Series? This sounds so exciting.

Wanda Vaughn has so many stories in her head that I challenged her to make it a series about girls in Alabama in different time periods. She started with Huntsville,1892: Clara. That book won third place in historical fiction in the Jenkins Book Group Moonbeam Awards. This was a pleasant surprise as the book is history with a story and this history deals only with the town of Huntsville. Birmingham, 1933: Alice was written but we discovered a fatal flaw in our history that killed that story. Wanda Vaughn has had to re-write it, but in doing so, she is making the character stronger, and I think, the story more interesting. It should be out next February in print as well as an e-book.

5- Give us your opinion of the fast-growing ebook market. Do you think this is serving readers and authors in a way that traditional book publishing hasn't?

I am giving a talk at WIK 13 in October on this subject.

     I’ve been an e-book editor since 1996 when the only e-readers on the market were the Thompson and the Franklin book reader. I edited general fiction and when I moved from managing editor to Senior Editor, we became much more demanding of the fiction we chose to e-publish. Our submissions got better and we produced some fun reads that the large print markets, based in New York, would have never looked at.

   The publishing of those books pushed the print market to counter the “sub-culture” of e-books. Now we have Kindle Fires, Kindle Fires HD from Amazon. Barnes & Nobles gave us the Nook which they will take away soon. Kobo, an e-book reader producer, will be taking the Nook and expanding their e-readers to be more competitive in the market. Sony let everyone send their e-readers back to them for a free update of software as they moved to a different based format. What drives these kinds of moves? E-Books...lots and lots of e-books.

    Does this better serve readers and authors than the traditional book publishing? Better? No. Differently...YES. For more information, please come to my talk in October.

6- Can you give us a tiny sneak preview of your upcoming program at WIK13?

I think the answer to question 5 is part of a sneak preview.

     I will also be talking about how to critique one’s own work. In that talk, I’ll be concentrating on what makes a good story and how to tell if one has actually written a good story. Because it is so hard to evaluate one’s own writing, the best advice I can ever give, is “Join a critique group.” Join online or in person and you may have to try several groups to find the right fit of people and personalities. But find one. The right critique group is invaluable.  

Dianne, as I said, I hope you'll add anything you'd like to talk about that I didn't cover.

I am always available to conference attendees who want to talk to me any free time I have on conference Saturday. I can tell everyone that if you work at the conference, or come to the dessert Friday night, you can mingle with the conference speakers. I always enjoy meeting editors and agents from other places because I learn something new every conference. And the best way to learn is not just to ask questions, but to listen to what they say.

You can meet other members of the conference faculty by following the WIK blog tour:
Aug. 28            Author Matt de la Peña at Stephanie Moody’s Moodyviews
                        Editor Lou Anders at F.T. Bradley’s YA Sleuth
Aug. 29            Author Doraine Bennett at Jodi Wheeler-Toppen’s Once Upon a Science Book
                        Author Robyn Hood Black at Donny Seagraves’ blog
Aug. 30            MFA program director Amanda Cockrell at Elizabeth Dulemba’s blog
                        Illustrator Prescott Hill at Gregory Christie’s G.A.S.
Aug. 31            Author Heather Montgomery at Claire Datnow’s Media Mint Publishing blog
                        Editor Michelle Poploff at Laura Golden’s Just Write
Sept. 3             Author Nancy Raines Day at Laurel Snyder’s blog
                        Author Jennifer Echols at Paula Puckett’s Random Thoughts from the Creative Path
Sept. 4             Editor Dianne Hamilton at Ramey Channell’s The Painted Possum
                        Author Janice Hardy at Tracey M. Cox’s A Writer’s Blog
Sept. 5             Author / illustrator Sarah Frances Hardy at Stephanie Moody’s Moodyviews
                        Agent Sally Apokedak at Cheryl Sloan Wray’s Writing with Cheryl
Sept. 6             Author / illustrator Chris Rumble at Cyrus Webb Presents

Friday, June 28, 2013

Frank Lloyd Wright and the Tragedy of Taliesen

I've just finished reading a really good, superbly informative and astonishing book, Loving Frank, written by Nancy Horan. Loving Frank is historical fiction based on the romantic relationship between Frank Lloyd Wright and one of his clients, the beautiful Mamah (pronounced May-muh) Borthwick (June 19, 1869 - August 15, 1914)
The depth and emotional impact of this book are remarkable. This is definitely a "can't-put-it-down" read, packed with details regarding Frank Lloyd Wright's family life, creativity, and perplexing personality. 
But the star of this book is the remarkable Martha "Mamah" Borthwick. Her story is truly a case of fact being just as sensational as fiction.
Frank Lloyd Wright and Mamah Borthwick met when Wright designed and built a house for Mamah and her husband Edwin Cheney in Oak Park, Illinois.
When Wright and Borthwick impulsively fled Oak Park for Europe in 1909, they left behind Wright's tenacious wife, Mamah's baffled husband, nine aggrieved children (including a daughter of Mamah’s dead sister) and a rabidly interested American press.

Upon their return from Europe, they settled in Wisconsin, where Frank designed his legendary prairie house Taliesin as their new home.

In the tragic and startling outcome of this true story, Nancy Horan depicts the events as devastating, almost beyond comprehension, and she writes this book vibrantly enough to make her readers agree. For any reader who is unfamiliar with the horrific tragedy at Taliesen, the conclusion is shattering. 

Monday, June 3, 2013

One of Those Nights

Have you ever had one of THOSE nights? Dreamtime goes totally to the Twilight Zone? I knew things were headed in the wrong direction when I saw the really big orange and green plastic centipede on the floor, headed beligerantly in my direction. Have I mentioned that I harbor an irrational fear of centipedes and wonder why they even exist?

He looked like this, but his head and mouth looked more like a dragon, like this:
Actually, now I realize it was a many-legged dragon. Instead of running away in terror, which was my first impulse, I picked up a golf club and whacked the centipede/dragon and broke its jaw, killing it dead, much to my relief. After it was killed, it turned to dust and disappeared.

But then I was immediately accosted by assailants who were roaming around in great numbers throughout the region, and throughout my dream, trying to zap me with a small round weapon that looked very much like a hockey puck.

I saw them zapping lots of other people, causing some of the victims to vaporize like the plastic centipede, but leaving most of them in a zombie-like trance at the mercy of the assailants who were, by the way, very scary, and were obviously in cahoots with the lately deceased plastic centipede/dragon.
So for the rest of the night, I hid, avoided, ran, evaded, took refuge here and there, including at Regions Bank and Leeds Jane Culbreth Library, trying to not be zapped and turned into a zombie. After I woke up in the middle of the night and breathed a sigh of relief that THAT was over, I went back to sleep and the dream continued. At one point I deftly pretended to have been zapped and rendered zombie-ish. But one of the bad guys called attention to me and said "She's not changed. I can smell her; she's not changed!" And the whole herd of attackers came after me with their round black zappers.

I never got zapped, but by the end of the dream, everyone else had been zapped, including the teller at the bank who was suspicious because I was making a withdrawal and she insisted that the computers weren't working. I nonchalantly said "Oh, they're all messed up at the library too, but it'll work okay. Just do the withdrawal anyway and I'll be on my way!"

Then a little boy on a bicycle pursued me, leading the throng of evil attackers after me in a most insidious way. I ran down a path under some trees and evaded them all! But I think they were still chasing me when I finally woke up this morning. 

So, what did you dream last night? 

Friday, April 26, 2013

Message from Earthjustice - Endangered Manatees

David Guest, managing attorney for EarthJustice, reports that record numbers of endangered manatees are dying in Florida’s algae-choked waterways—with as many as 10 deaths each day.

More than 463 endangered manatees have died this year alone, he says. And the number is quickly rising.Yet the state of Florida and the Environmental Protection Agency recently decided to approve dangerous loopholes in the region and allow more toxic pollution that is putting this gentle species’ very survival at risk.

This alarming number of manatee deaths is linked to toxic algae from sewage, manure, and fertilizer pollution. Yet, in an astonishing move, Florida and the Environmental Protection Agency—the very agency that is charged with protecting wildlife and their essential habitat—are siding with polluters and agro-businesses and putting profits over protections.
As the managing attorney of Earthjustice’s Florida office, David Guest says he will not stand by and watch this tragedy continue.

If you love manatees and would like to help, here's the information for making a donation:

To donate by phone, please call toll-free 1-800-584-6460, 9:00-5:00 PST.

Here's a poem I wrote about manatees:

Down to the River

Sun-cast water, glistening over mud and stones,
calls to mind a memory long forgotten,
of secrets kept and sacred treasures hidden
in a world of melody and tide beneath the surface.

When I go down into that clear and sparkling place,
where river pleasures beckon, washed in jeweled light,
the manatees will remember me and call my name,
and my heartbeat softly echo vaporous lullabies.

Copyright - Ramey Channell 2012 all rights reserved

Monday, March 18, 2013

What Did You Dream Last Night II

It's dream time again! Our first What Did You Dream post was in June of 2012 (See below) Surely we've all had some dreams-worth-telling-about since then!

Last June I dreamed about a wooden leg.
Last night I dreamed about Robert Redford.
Actually, I dream about Bob frequently, so it was no big surprise seeing him last night in Dreamtime. We were among a crowd of people attending some sort of festive gala in a dreary cement underground hotel lobby/restaurant place. I had forgotten to get dressed and was wearing a nightgown and housecoat, which was also no surprise, but put me in a peevish mood. Robert didn't seem to mind. He was in love with me, and when he saw me sauntering toward him, he perfectly beamed with joy! We got into a car and drove along some streets that were almost wide enough for the car, but not quite, scraping along people's houses and fences and squeezing the car through narrow muddy roads, until we reached "my front yard." It's a place I frequently dream about as "my front yard," but it doesn't look like any yard I've seen anywhere except in Dreamtime. I sat under a huge tree and immediately discerned that there were three plump very large adorable animals up in the tree. At first I thought they were very large rabbits, but they weren't.
    "What are those animals?" I asked, in awe of how big and fluffy they were.
    "Goats." Robert answered in his characteristically terse manner.

And he was right. I coaxed the fat fluffy goats to come down out of the tree, and they were marvelously sweet and cuddly!  What could possibly be a more delightful surprise than finding cuddly fat goats in a tree in "my front yard?"

I got all three goats on my lap and in my arms, and that was the end of the dream.

So, what did you dream last night?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Elvis Presley's Birthday

Today, January 8th, is Elvis Presley's birthday, and in honor of the King of Rock and Roll, I felt I should blog!

Blogging has been on hold for the last few weeks, due to a sudden tsunami of activities and obligations which left me and all constituent possums virtually flooded with frantic scurrying and hurrying. Now that the hub-bub has slacked off to some degree, I look forward to getting back to at least the possibility of calmer and more serene (serener) day-to-day business.

Guess what? I'm not sure if the problem is with Blogger, my computer, or WHAT, but I can't get any photos to download. When I click on the Insert Image icon, it should go to Browse so I could choose a picture, but that doesn't happen. Nothing happens. No pictures of Elvis, no pictures of his little birthplace in Tupelo, Mississippi! Nothing!

So, I'll just say, once again,

I'll come back to this later.

How very interesting. I've found that the computer will allow me to add pictures that are from my blog, from previous posts, but it still won't let me upload new pictures from any place else. So, here are some photos of friends and family who are celebrating the King's birthday in their own way.

This is Musey, celebrating Elvis's birthday in a cardboard box.

This is Gretchen the Wonder Dog, waiting for birthday cake, and humming
You Ain't Nothin' But a Hound Dog

This is a likeness of Chicken Little, the meanest chicken who ever walked the earth,
of whom my sister and I were the unfortunate care-takers.

Here are two well-wishers, celebrating the day.

Here's Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee. They're all celebrating Elvis's birthday!