Sunday, October 27, 2019

"River" Reading with Elisha Cooper, Community Bookstore, Park Slope

One more full vacation day before I head back to work, but today I did do a work-related (but in a fantastic way) thing.

Note - Links to additional readings of "River" appear at the end of this post - if you're in the NYC area and interested in the book but haven't got time to read my entire event review, scroll on down to the end; also, click here for book details

It was a stormy, rainy, windy day here in Brooklyn, so not a great day to sneak out for one last paddle (I might do that tomorrow though). I did want to do something though. One of my Sebago friends has been putting together some music sessions and there were enough takers for one today - that was tempting, but then I went on Facebook and saw that Elisha Cooper, author/illustrator of my new favorite Scholastic book, River, was having a reading at the Community Bookstore in Park Slope. The Q train wasn't running this weekend so there was going to be maybe a little extra waiting in the rain for shuttle buses, so I was still ever so slightly on the fence, but when the friend I'd asked for a ride to the club ended up deciding not to go because she got the cold that's been going around (sounds like the same one TQ and I started our vacation with), I decided storytime was the thing to do.

In case you missed my first post about River - I found out about this book from Nikki, a delightful Scholastic sales rep with whom I'm Facebook friends, much earlier in 2019, when she first posted about getting a peek at the F&G (folded and gathered, one of the last steps of a picture book before it finally goes into print - as the name suggests, it's basically the cover and all pages of the book, folded and gathered together in the same way the final book will be printed, but unbound and without the hard cover, providing one last less expensive chance for the author, editor, and design staff to look things over for any final changes that need to be made - also lets the sales reps and other interested parties see something very closely resembling the final book) of a book about a woman DOING A SOLO PADDLE DOWN THE HUDSON.

It's not actually a book about me (in fact, Cooper used his daughters as his models, which I think is pretty cool). But it's about as close to my heart as any book we've published, in the just under 2 decades I've worked for Scholastic, has been - because I paddled part of the voyage that Cooper's strong and competent main character travels, and that trip was one of the best things I have ever done for myself.

And Cooper, an incredibly accomplished author and skillful storyteller, captures the voyage so beautifully. His renditions of the section of the Hudson that I paddled (his character begins at Lake Henderson in the Adirondacks and finishes at Sandy Hook, NJ, while I put in at Waterford and finished in Red Hook, Brooklyn, so she overlaps me by a little - but a stretch that I've paddled on other occasions - at the south end, and by quite a lot at the beginning) are just spot-on and brought memories of my own trip just flooding back.

So I set out into the wind and the downpour to go to his Park Slope story hour - and it was lovely.

The bookstore is a small independent one, so the crowd wasn't huge. The book is interesting in that it's not a goofy silly giggler a la The Wonky Donkey, but Cooper engaged the kids with questions about things like what you would want to bring on a river voyage like this (the kids had some good answers, too), and then did a walk through the book's events, not reading line by line but giving a good sense of the story and sharing the splendid art. I was absolutely delighted to hear one of the parents there say, at the end, that the book was giving her the inspiration to think about doing an adventure with her family - I think that's what this book is all about and it was great to hear somebody pick up on that so immediately and directly.

He finished with an actual little bit of an art lesson and talk about his earliest artistic attempts trying to draw the animals on the farm where he grew up. That was really interesting - particularly his comments about how frustration with not getting things quite right was something that started early on and continues to this day. I think good stuff for kids to hear - helped me too, actually, I fell behind on my Inktober efforts and wasn't particularly thrilled with some of my catch-up efforts, but I came home after the event and sat down and just quit stressing out about making things look nice and just had some fun with the catching up - even did an extra drawing for today's "Coat" prompt, just for kicks.

He finished with some really cute caricatures of the kids who were there - he asked each of them what their favorite thing was and then drew them with those things.

Sorry no pictures - I took some but then quite idiotically hit "delete-all" before I'd actually uploaded to my computer. :( Fun morning, though.

I hadn't gotten my hands on a copy of the book through work yet so I went ahead and got one there (and because I like to support my local booksellers and because I have only once in recent memory walked into a bookstore and walked out without something besides what I came for, I also picked up Where the Crawdads Sing - so many people I know love that book and I thought of it just before I had the staff ring up my copy).

Elisha signed it and this is now a prized possession - it would've been anyways but check out the inscription!

I managed to get it home dry and then spent a lovely bit of time curled up on the Evil Futon of Nap (my ultra-comfy chaise-longue-esque futon that lures me into a doze almost every time I settle in for a read) with the book and a cup of hot cocoa. I didn't even nap this time.

If this sounds like fun to you, and you're in NYC, there are 4 more similar events scheduled.

He's going to be VERY busy next weekend - Patagonia in SoHo on the 2nd - not sure what time, I'll find out UPDATE: Patagonia event cancelled for now, possibility of a reschedule.

On the 3rd, he'll be back in Brooklyn for back-to-back events at the 2 Greenlight Bookstores - 11:30 in Prospect Lefferts Garden, and 1:30 in Fort Greene

And then on the 17th, he'll be at the Stories Bookshop and Storytelling Lab in the North Slope at 10:30 am.

Hope paddling friends - or anyone with a young person who likes to dream of adventures who stumbles across this - can make it! 

Friday, October 25, 2019

Back from the North Fork!

Hi, I'm back! We've been off on the North Fork of Long Island on our first vacation for just the two of us in a couple of years. We stayed close to home, heading out to the lovely Sunset Motel in Greenport (totally unsolicited plug, we were just really happy with our stay there). The Sunset was discovered by a couple of Sebago clubmates back when we used to have an annual weekend out there - most of us would tent camp at the Long Island Kampground but not everyone was into that, and a couple of them found this hotel and were quite happy with the place, even inviting the campers over for sunset drinks (the place is appropriately named, and every room has a sun porch that looks out on the sound - spectacular!)

TQ and I booked their Sunday - Thursday special and late Sunday morning, we loaded up our boats and headed out. It ended up being a drizzly day and I have to admit that although I do enjoy camping and have great memories of staying at the Kampground, I didn't have any major regrets that we weren't turning in there as we drove past on our way back to the hotel after a quick dinner in Greenport.

Our first full day out there was gorgeous, but we were both just recovering from colds and we woke up feeling incredibly unambitious and decided to just roll with that. We'd brought some leftovers along that we had for breakfast; TQ went to get a haircut, I hung out on the sun porch with a cup of tea and read until he got back. Our main activity for the day was a walk on the beach, and when we found the barbecue area at the bottom of the first set of steps that you descend to get to the water, we instantly decided to grill instead of going out for dinner. We had our walk (nice) and then we were off to the IGA supermarket for provisions (including sandwich fixings for the next few days) and then a delicious meal followed by a perfect sunset.

The boats may not have been happy with not getting off the car, but I think we both felt a lot better with the rest and quiet. 

Friday, October 18, 2019

Fishing on the Brooklyn VI

Setting Out From Sheepshead Bay

So to borrow a great phrase from my friends of Norwegian descent -


October has featured all kinds of bloggable fun, but between Inktober and winding things up at work for a vacation nothing's getting posted!

I'm still at work tonight, I had my work all planned out for a reasonable day today and then a bunch more stuff came in (I've said on FB now and then that my job can be like being in a baseball game with too many pitchers, and that's especially true when I'm getting ready for vacation, as I am this week) - I have one more fairly chunky report that's the last item on the to-do list that was on my desk when I started the day, and I'm inclined to just power through that and then have an easy day tomorrow - but I am taking a quick blog break here before I tackle that final item. I have a lovely and not too enormous Flickr album from a fishing trip I went on on Saturday and I figured I would just share that. Click here to view (but read the rest of my trip report here to have the whole story).

A couple of nice folks from the Sebago fishing committee know that I'm interested in fishing and have been trying to get me out - I haven't been able to get out with either of them on Jamaica Bay, but J. also likes to go out on bigger boats. His favorite one in the Sheepshead Bay fleet (which I've eyed with interest for years because it's really easy for me to get there) is the Brooklyn VI, and last Sunday he was taking a neighbor out and invited some of his fishing friends - plus me, woohoo! I was already signed up for whalewatching on Sunday (no whales, but a whole bunch of dolphins came through at the end) and had been thinking of a longer paddle on Sunday, since c
onditions were looking nice, but it didn't take me too long to decide on the fishing.

Early start, of course - glorious sunrise, as you can see above (the boats all head out around the same time). I'm not a morning person so I don't see a lot of sunrises - the ones I do catch I have to say are pretty nice, though.

This was a full day out, and we headed all the way out to Fire Island. Captain was after striped bass for us and he found some!

Unfortunately, not for me. My spotless record of never having caught a fish in NY waters remains unblemished. I'm ready for a blemish but nope, once again not my day. However, it was still a pretty great day. I did rent a perfectly serviceable rod and reel from the boat and it was fine, but J. had brought along an extra spinning rod. I'd never used one of those so he showed me how to cast with it (not an overhead cast of course, one with the rod held low off the side of the boat), so there was that to practice and get better at (with occasional utter botches), and it was beautiful, and there were monarch butterflies going by, and other people were catching fish, and great big ones, so that was fun to watch, and best of all was that J's friend caught his first striped bass - and it was ENORMOUS. It was in fact one of the 2 biggest fish caught that day and when they both put on the scale that decides the matter for the pool, the mate could BARELY hold them in the air! It was the other fish by a hair, but wow it was close.

Oh, yeah - and we saw a whale! We went by it pretty fast but I saw it come up and spout very clearly. So I did get to see a whale this weekend!

And then the best part was that when J. organizes a trip like this, one of his rules to keep people happy is that the group shares the catch. He'd tried to explain this to me early in the day, but I somehow was picturing that only working if there were multiple fish. Watching the fish being cleaned, I got my heart just set on eating fresh fish for dinner, I'd started asking the crew if there was a chance of buying one of the fish they'd caught (and that was looking like a possibility although other people had asked earlier so it was a matter of whether they had any left) - fortunately J. re-explained, while they were cleaning the fish, that when he said we share the fish, that meant even if it was just one. And at that point it was finally dawning on me how much meat there is on a fish that size.

So, yeah, I ended up coming home with this enormous filet, which I cut up into 5 pieces, each suitable for a meal for 2. First 2 I cooked this week, the other 3 went straight into the freezer. AWESOME.

winnah winnah fish fo dinner!

Maybe next time I'll catch my 1st fish in NY waters - but this was pretty darned good.

me and Mrs. Holcomb. a long long time ago on a lake in Texas. Old friend of my Texas aunt and uncle - took me under her wing one week during a summer when we spent some time visiting in Houston, and oh my did we catch some fish. I was thinking of her on Sunday. Wonderful woman.

Tuesday, October 08, 2019


I found out about Inktober when I got a group of friends together to go see Margaret Atwood at Town Hall. It was a great evening, Samantha Bee interviewed her, and their conversation was fascinating and thoroughly leavened with dry Canadian wit. Before the show, of course, everyone was pulling out their cell phones to take photos of the stage -- everyone, that is, except me (I'm still resisting the smartphone) and my friend Shari B, who pulled out a small sketchpad and a pen and proceeded to draw it!

I thought that was rather delightful and I said so - I liked her drawing, too, it was simple and clear and did a good job of showing the stage. She told me she'd been taking a drawing class that was specifically aimed at those who consider themselves artistically uninclined, and it sounded pretty interesting.

She also told me about Inktober, invented by illustrator Jake Parker. It started out as something he came up with for himself "as a challenge to improve my inking skills and develop positive drawing habits", and then people wanted to join in. I've joined a Facebook group and a Flickr group for Inktober, and I'm really enjoying it - the group participants range from people like me up to professional artists, there are doodles, there are comics, there's a woman who's doing a gorgeous noir graphic-novel presentation, there's Chicken Month, there's an alternative set of horror prompts called Shocktober, there are drawings that are silly, gorgeous, simple, elaborate - and so far I haven't seen ANYBODY say anything negative. Is it that possible this is the one set of spaces on the internet where if somebody doesn't like something they just scroll on by? Even the FB admin mentioned that today. Pretty nice, I hope I haven't just cursed it.

Anyways, so far so good, I did fall one day behind during a weekend at Lake Sebago where we ate and paddled and then ate some more and then talked on into the evening all of the sudden I was just ready for bed - but I caught up tonight by reining in my tendency to throw in everything but the kitchen sink (almost literally on Day 2 when I drew a wave of trash where there are even legible labels on some of the things) and doing something simple for Frail.

No great masterpieces so far and I but I'm having fun with it and I'll be curious to see if I notice any difference in my drawing by the end of the month. If you've been following this blog for any length of time at all, you'll know that I like to art every now and then, but it's sporadic - I'm doodling all the time but this idea of sitting down and Drawing A Thing every day for 31 days is new.

That's it for the write-up - click on any photo for a slideshow view of what I've drawn

Friday, October 04, 2019

post post

Running off to the woods for a day. Here are some posts to tide you over. OK actually they're pilings. Anyways, just thought they were kind of cool. 

Tuesday, October 01, 2019

River Day!

 Hooray, Hooray, It's River Day! Elisha Cooper's lovely new picture book is in bookstores today, and he'll be making a number of appearances in the Northeast, with several in NYC, over the next few weeks.

 I've been saving this video for today - he shares a number of scenes from the book (you'll see why I'm so ridiculously over the moon about this one) and in a very sweet moment, he also talks a bit about the models for his main character. When I first got my hands on the book, one of my first reactions (naturally) was that it was really interesting and nice that the book was about a woman doing a solo paddle, when it would've been just as easy to have it be a guy, but being someone who tends to accept things at face value, I didn't really think to wonder why, but it's neat.

 Elisha's events are listed here

 And it sounds like his pre-release Sunday special event in Rhinebeck, where book sales for the day appropriately benefited Riverkeeper, was a success.

 Note: I am an employee of Scholastic, the company that is publishing this book, but this is not my job (I'm in finance in fact) - I'm just delighted with the book and want to tell everyone in the world about it!