Friday, April 29, 2011


Now yesterday I stood in a dim museum, what once was a busy RR station - set off from there with my grandma in 1967, on a train trip up to Julesburg, Colorado. In 1919, she [Eula] and her new husband [Harley Wolfe, home from the Great War] set to farming there..... I stood w/in inches of the ruffled taffeta gown Diana Spencer wore once upon a t. - went out & rented a color television just to see that wedding, golly, years & years ago.... So, this morning, to Mimi's mystification, I rolled out of the sack in the early dark to see today's Gown. Silk satin & lace it turned out to be and worth the getting up as were the Hats. I know it's a tiny bit chilly-hearted, watching all of this irrelevant hoohah [but gosh, the history ]when so many folks are sorting through the tragic storm wreckage. That Tuskaloosa twister came perilously close to a dear one. Ah well... thoughts are whirling fast. I'd better get to painting.

Saturday, April 23, 2011


So, I meant to post this yesterday, on the 22nd of April, which would have been my little brother Paul's 53rd birthday, had it not been for an icy road, a late night (in Jan - golly, all of a sudden I cannot recall the year, she wrote, appalled & chagrined.... 1980. that's when), and too much drinking. Paul's the little guy in the foreground here. Beautiful little boy. Toady - that was his nickname. And there's Timmy, head tilted and Gary, taller, older, darker of hair, more grievous of future as there are some things - life, for instance - worse than an early death.
And there am I, at age 11, holding baby Laura Jeanne.


"My subject is War and the pity of War. The Poetry is in the pity."

So wrote Wilfred Owen. His words, his still all too goddam pertinent [thinking here, just now, of photographers Tim hetherington and Chris Hondros], words, are inscribed on the tombstone that marks the final resting place for Rupert Brooke, who died on the 23rd of April, 1915... thus sharing a deathday w/ Wm. Shakespeare....
. He was another British poet, another 'Tommy," one of the many thousands of British soldiers whose lives were lost in the Great War. Owen was 25, as a matter of fact, when he was killed in France in 1918, a week before the guns went silent.

Young men - and women - dying in the wake of the misdeeds of the old.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood,
And fired the shot heard round the world.
So begins Ralph Waldo Emerson's glorious poem honoring the citizenry of Concord and Lexington, Massachusetts, and thereabouts, on the 19th of April, 1775. The people, the places, and their importance all deserve more time and more words than I can afford to give them right this minute. There is drawing to be done.

Long live the Republic.

Monday, April 18, 2011


So. Here I am, I and Grace, my little red hoopie, as we appeared in Veda Jones's driveway in Joplin, Missouri, this past weekend, on my way over to the little town of Diamond. What's there? A beautiful museum, well worth the visiting, The George Washington Carver National Monument. It's got a peanut warning on the front door - made me smile.
The "Peanut Wizard" was born thereabouts in the early spring of 1865. For a bit more about Dr. Carver - really, a tremendous individual, you may well wish to read today's posting on the I.N.K. blog. Now, as for Interesting Nonfiction for Kids, I must go and, with luck and the continued application of the seat of my pants to the seat of this chair, write some.

Saturday, April 16, 2011


So, I'm BACK from a fairly longish drive down to the SW corner of MO & back, from gassing away to a swell gaggle of visitors to the Geo Washington Carver Monument. It's just outside of Diamond, what might be termed a hamlet. A village? Anyway, a nice little town with a TERRIFIC museum nearby, concerning the life & works of a most significant individual.
And the night before? Visiting, sniveling, eating, drinking, laughing, wine-ing & whining with dear, swellegant author friends Veda Boyd Jones & Vicki Grove ... then today: cold gray, soon turned to a lovely, cool & sunny 16th of April.
It's the anniversary of Charlie Chaplin's birthday in 1889 and that of lovely painter, Élizabeth Vigée Le Brun, in 1755. Garth Williams, whose illus. of Mrs. Wilder's books I loved so much when I was a little squirt [not so much now], was b. on this day in 1912, the day after the great ship went down, the day after Harriet Quimby flew the English Channel, 99 years ago.

Friday, April 15, 2011


So, was it a rainy day like today, on this day in 1452, when Catarina gave birth to her son, Leonardo? The records say that it was Piero da Vinci who fathered the child upon her, the child who'd grow up, drawing as angels would if they cared to. Ah well, happy happy to Leonardo da Vinci, the original Renaissance Man, on the 559th anniversary of his birth. And to another painter, whom I saw walking about (at the art supply store where I worked), before he kicked the bucket -after all, sensational it would be if I saw Thos Hart Benton after he passed on. Not so by the way, not three blocks away from where I'm here typing is a most glorious mural of his - gosh, the COLOR! - up at the HST Presidential Library. Do see it if you haven't.
Now, off I go to southern Missouri, to another artist's old stomping grounds, to the birthplace of George Washington Carver. I'm to be talking about him tomorrow. I'll be sure to tell whomever shows up that there was far and away more to the gent than peanuts and that he deserves to be known and admired, as more than some quaint, peanut-butter-scented Black History Month icon.
A seeker after attention he was, but his sights were, for sure, set upon Truth.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


“America is a large friendly dog in a small room. Every time it wags its tail it knocks over a chair.”

“Civilizations die from suicide, not by murder.”

“The supreme accomplishment is to blur the line between work and play.”

“The extinction of race consciousness as between Muslims is one of the outstanding achievements of Islam, and in the contemporary world there is, as it happens, a crying need for the propagation of this Islamic virtue”

So, the historian Arnold J. Toynbee had very much more to say than this quartet of snippets, but wow, what a sampling! I only came across these because A.J.T. was b. on this day in history, on the 24th anniversary of the day on which John Wilkes Boothe got himself good & liquored up for a death-dealing at Mr. Ford's theatre. People doing bad things, thinking they're doing good things - that's history for you.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


"Educate and inform the whole mass of the people ... the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty ...Enlighten the people generally, & tyranny & oppressions of body & mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day."

Thomas Jefferson, who would turn 268 years old today if he wasn't so seriously dead. I doubt that he knows or cares off in the Blue Beyond or if his soul is animating another vessel – brown-skinned, I'd be willing to bet, if there is anything to the notion of karmic lessons – these days, that his birthday is shared by the outlaw Butch Cassidy, a.k.a. Robt. Leroy Parker. How I loved writing and illustrating a book about our 3rd President....It's my brother's birthday, too, my lost, derelict, frightening & upsetting, tragic brother. May the Gracious Spirit keep him safe and far away from me.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Let him who elevates himself above humanity . . . say, if he pleases, "I will never compromise"; but let no one who is not above the frailties of our common nature disdain compromise.Henry Clay, b. 12 April 1777
So, it was on this day in 1920 that my mom's big sister was born. Red-headed Dorothy Lea Wolfe. She had lots of beauty & lots of pain.
It's the birthday of Henry Clay, savvy Compromiser of Lexington, Kentucky. He was young Lincoln's 'beau ideal' of a politician. Just for you to know.
And it's Franklin D. Roosevelt's deathday. Imagine Americans' shock, hearing that news, that the President they'd known for 12 years was gone - and w/ a huge, whacking war still to be won.
Lilacs and redbuds, just as now, were festooning & purpling the yards 1920. 1777. 1945. 1861 (and 100 years later when the first - think of it, of 27-yr-old USSR pilot Yuri Gagarin, the first human allowed himself to be strapped into a rocket & sent up into space) - in the north & in the south, when patriotic hotheads fired their first volleys, thinking that they were doing, not treason, but a righteous & noble thing. And how could their lofty notion of the consequences - a nation in which states & individuals governed themselves, free of central command, free to buy and sell people, work 'em & breed 'em, as unusually clever, bipedal livestock - even resemble what really happened over the next four years? It couldn't. The future's always hidden 'round the bend.

Monday, April 11, 2011


So, I went to the movies today when I should have been writing or painting or cleaning. Went with Kim, the only fellow in my entire high school who cared enough to be seen w/ me in public. We went to see the latest film adaptation of Jane Eyre, a completely lovely, beautiful - fabulous costumes, no foolin' – exercise in patience.
Okay. Back to my deadline. I swear I spent HOURS over this past weekend trying to explain Pontiac's Rebellion and the Proclamation Line of 1763.

Sunday, April 10, 2011


the 10th of April

‎"A grave blockhead should always go about w/ a lively one; they show one another off to the best advantage."

"As is our confidence, so is our capacity"

English writer, William Hazlitt, b. 1778

Wm. shares his birthday with Commodore Matthew Perry, Lew Wallace [Civil War veteran, author of the saga of Ben Hur], Joseph Pulitzer, that snotty, ambitious, clever Claire Boothe Luce, 96-yr-old actor Harry Morgan who was in about 2 million movies, labor activists Frances Perkins, the 1st female Cabinet Sec'y [of Labor] & Dolores Huerta, Omar Sharif; and my sister.
It was 49 years ago last night. I sat up on the stairs watching Mom, in her robe (pin-wale corduroy, it was. bright turquoise, her best color), pacing past our pink wall phone, over in the next block @ 715 N. Cottage...fixing to call Dad or the doctor, go to the hospital. They let me name the new baby. Laura [after Laura Ingalls Wilder] Jeanne Harness. My sad-dork 11-yr-old self didn't much like her. Jealous.
I do now.

Friday, April 8, 2011


My gosh, according to the Wickibots, the marble Aphrodite was discovered on the Greek island of Milos, on this day in 1820. All but her arms, which must have been lovely if there were anything like that which survived all those years upon years upon years. Life is short. Art is long.

Thursday, April 7, 2011


stuff I want the Almighty to do right this minute:

1. Use Her Mighty Tweezers and pluck Not-President Gbagbo w/ the deviant hobbit name OUt of his bunker in the Ivory Coast and flick him into the ocean like a booger.

2. Muammar Gaddafi: the same These fellows so make me appreciate old, long-gone George Washington, having sufficient moral fiber to enable him to walk away from power, standing tall.

3. I'm going to sign off but I'll be thinking of some more.

4. Oh yes. It's Billie Holliday's birthday - 96 years ago today. same year the Lusitania went down.... James Garner's 83 today? Can this be true?

5. sheesh

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

90 days

So. 149 years since the ghastly, murderous battle of Shiloh began down in southern Tennessee. There's a happy thought on a spring morning, tender and green.
Happy birthday Merle Haggard, artists Gustave Moreau Raphael, a.k.a. Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino, born on the 6th of April, 1483, 528 years ago today. Died on his 37th birthday, In the wonderful - well, I thought it was - movie, The Ag. & the Ecs. there's a scene in which Raphael is proclaiming to sweaty, dirty, crabby Michelangelo, 'We are harlots, always peddling beauty at the doorsteps of the mighty.' So get over yourself. What did you think?
And as of today my cousin, fellow fan of Laura & Mary and Betsy & Tacy and Beatlemaniac of yesteryear, my cousin Myrna has accomplished sixty years of life. Once a very long time ago, her mom introduced her BFF (my mom) to her cousin who wound up being my dad. Now they're all up in heaven, maybe getting to meet Raphael in the Blue Beyond.
Anyway I was born on the day baby Myrna turned three months old. So you know what that means.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

what will be...

So a little over a week ago I had a death grip on my little red hoopie's steering wheel, praying that I wouldn't kill anyone or be killed in the midst of a whirling snowstorm, though had I accidentally slammed into one of the many barely visible cars, its equally dim driver would have had it coming seeing as he or she had NOT been blessed w/ the brain power generally bequeathed to a run of the mill hamster & hadn't switched on his or her headlights = too dumb to drive and/or live . Now today (Doris Day's birthday, bless her heart forever, a birthday shared w/ the remarkable, far-traveling Washington Irving, the subject of my last [ever?] bona fide picture book - it was handsome, no foolin' - done before the publishing biz turned upside down and the National Geographic dumped me) it was about 90º
On the other hand, I sculpted today. Played with clay. How I loved talking to all those hundreds of children in Hopkins Co., KY and in Jackson, MO - do you know that there's a little piano there that was brought over from Europe by ship, by flatboat, by oxcart in 1815? There totally is.
How I'd love to do that more often, entertain kids, having serious fun w/ teachers, librarians, & their fizzy gaggles of young clients. How I love being home alone, talking to no one, seeing no one.
A bit of a conflict, huh? she wrote to no one in particular. your basic tree falling in the forest.

Saturday, April 2, 2011


"I am an artist...I am here to live out loud." So said the French writer, Émile Zola, who was born this day, April 2, in 1840, on Hans Christian Andersen's 35th birthday. I wish I could say the same - well, I could, of course, but I mean say it and have it be true. W/ me it's more like here to live in fits & starts, curled up in my little rooms w/ my little dog OR, as I've done this past couple of weeks, bunging the little dog into the friendly slammer run by her vet then hitting the road. Off to talk to kids brought by the busload to Warrensburg, MO, for the U. of CM's 43rd annual CLF. Then east & away & over the Mississippi, across the Land o' A.L., over the Wabash, into Indiana, over the Ohio – mindful, mindful, mindful of dugout canoes, flatboats, keelboats, & steamboats – and into Kentucky.
Not until I worked on my book about Dan'l Boone did I discover that he hollowed out a massive tulip poplar tree to make a 60-ft. canoe for his family's move from KY >MO, 'bout 5 years before Hans C. A. was born. Can you imagine?
Anyway, 4 days in once-much-contested coal & forest-rich land of the Shawnee to entertain kids in 9 different schools then home again, home again. Part of the journey a hand-trembling, breathless crossing of the Father of Waters in a snowstorm in which Hans Christian Andersen's Snow Queen might well have been whirling, sharing the barely visible road w/ blockheads who care only that they can see and care not whether their cars can be seen. Either that or they're broke and their headlights are coin-operated. Talk about dim bulbs.
Just back I am from doing approximately 11 presentations in one long, joyous day at South Elementary School in Jackson, MO, 'bout 350 miles away, down 'round Cape Girardeau. Along the way home I stopped to do a walkabout in Ste. Genevieve. Fresh in my mind is the beauty of stone buildings built when John Adams was young. Green painted shutters...