March 30, 2009

Illustrator Chris Sheban

Chris Sheban is one of my favorite illustrators -- among his books, Catching the Moon, Red Fox at McCloskey's Farm, and Story of the Seagull and the Cat Who Taught Her To Fly.

His work has a certain quality of light I enjoy.

Plus, he's funny as heck.

I haven't been able to find out much about his life, although I do know he's kind of young.
You can see Chris's website by clicking here.

March 27, 2009

Poetry Friday: I Meant To Do My Work Today

I meant to do my work today,
But a brown bird sang in the apple tree,
And a butterfly flitted across the field,
And all the leaves were calling me.
And the wind went sighing over the land,
Tossing the grasses to and fro,
And a rainbow held out its shining hand,
So what could I do but laugh and go?

-- Richard LeGallienne

I've been thinking about work and self-discipline this week. This is a poem that's been a favorite since I was a kid. Right now I have lots of projects I'm working on. I would love to just laugh and go, but for now, I can only read this poem. For another poem about work, visit The Write Sisters here.

Poetry Friday is being hosted by Julie Larios over here at The Drift Record. Check it out!

March 21, 2009

Poetry Friday: Bellbirds

By channels of coolness the echoes are calling,
And down the dim gorges I hear the creek falling
It lives in the mountain where moss and the sedges
Touch with their beauty the banks and the ledges.

These lyrical opening lines are from a poem by Australian poet Henry Kendall, who lived in the mid 19th century. Bellbirds is an iconic poem of Australia. I found it many years ago, and put just these lines in my poem journal. You can read the rest here.

These are bellbirds

The beautiful photograph of the waterfall was taken by Australian photographer, Melissa Ellison. You can see the rest of her Flickr photostream here.

March 17, 2009

Happy St Patrick's Day!

Irish Step-Dancers are a real treat! The person who tagged the title on this video got it wrong. These are step-dancing chimps, not monkeys. They are Irish, however, so he or she at least got that right . . .

I'm off to downtown Manchester this afternoon for a couple of pints of Guinness. Enjoy!

March 13, 2009

Poetry Friday: High Flight

Before you read this, you will want to watch the astonishing Wing Suit video in the post directly below this one. What a rush! Don't miss it . . .

High Flight

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of—wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air....
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark nor even eagle flew—
And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

-- John Gillespie Magee, Jr.

If you'd like to read more about Magee's tragically short life and this poem, check out a brief biography.

There are some great still aerial images of's featured photographer Brian Buckland.

Thanks to Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect for hosting today's Poetry Friday. Click here to see this week's offerings.

March 11, 2009

Wing Suit Base Jumping

I haven't had a good flying dream in a very long time. Watching this video sort of makes up for it. Amazing stuff. Just amazing.


March 4, 2009

The Jiggle Machine

I like going to the gym. I really do. At the gym, there's all sorts of nifty equipment to keep me in shape. Working out makes me feel and look great. Not only do I have some pretty good lean muscle mass, but -- after years of going -- I have a pile of gym friends. It's amazing how much talking goes on in my gym. It's like a little town square -- without the donut shop.

Modern day gyms are quite unlike those of the olden days -- like the 60s . . . um . . .the 1960s. Back then women's gyms were less about treadmills, elliptical trainers or weights. The big thing back then was jiggling. In high heels, no less.

My mother owned a jiggle machine. There were other, less fortunate families, whose moms had to stand up to jiggle the weight off. We seemed quite affluent by comparison. Mom had a jiggle bench. It had two stationary sections on either side of a middle section. This middle section had a motorized pad that shook back and forth when you flipped the on button. If you got tired jiggling in one direction, you just had to slide a lever, swivel the pad, and it jiggled in a different direction.

The jiggle machine resided in our basement, along with a sump pump, my father's paperbacks with oddly racy covers, and an old pinball machine that didn't work, but looked pretty cool.

The jiggle machine had one accessory. It was what could only be called a sandbag -- a bag filled with sand. The idea of the sandbag -- as far as I could tell -- was that you put it over your middle as you lay on the jiggle machine to keep you from flying off the of it.

My mother has always struggled with her weight, and is famous for saying that she isn't overweight, just under-tall. Despite her epic battle with weight, I can't actually recall her using the jiggle machine.

Fortunately, we kids gave it plenty of use. Our jiggle machine was a source of great pride to us Buell kids, and we often brought the neighborhood trooping into the basement to see it. The middle section really only held one person comfortably, but it was an interesting challenge to see how many it could really hold. It was also fun to see just how far the jiggle machine could propel certain objects (like those racy paperbacks) or to see how long it took for a pie plate filled with water to jiggle completely dry.

My brother had a fat head (and, it could be argued, still does) and we -- with his encouragement -- often tried to see if it would get skinnier. We could tell he was saying something as he jiggled, but the sandbag over his head really made it difficult to understand him. I think he was mostly telling us to stop.

I miss the good old days.