July 31, 2012

Recent Reads

83. Murder on the Orient Express
We read books aloud in our home, and this was the one we finished today. I recall loving Christie in my younger years, and I've always wanted to take this train trip - sans the murder part please - so it seemed like a good choice. This book is a fast read, with interesting characters and humorous observations of human nature. A classic whodunit. Rating: 4/5 stars.

84. Batman, Vol 1: The Court of Owls
The graphics in this book are amazing. I could spend days simply looking at the pages frame by frame. The story on the other hand leaves much to be desired. This is the first book in a new series, so maybe it was all setup, but still. Could have been a better story. Rating: 3/5 stars.

85. The Mysteries of Harris Burdick 
This is a strange book with an even stranger origins story. This is not a book you read in the usual manner. It consists of drawings with book titles and captions. Period. One could look at the wonderful drawings again and again and come up with different stories each time. Would be a fun game to play with kids, or playful adults. As a follow up, I've added The Chronicles of Harris Burdick: Fourteen Amazing Authors Tell the Tales to my TBR pile. Rating: 4/5 stars.

86. The Lottery and Other Stories 
I'm not usually a fan of short stories, I prefer long meaty novels, but this collection is really good. How the heck does she do it? The stories start quite normally, but you just know that things are not going to end well. Rating: 4/5 stars.

July 30, 2012

Tracy Chevalier

For a fascinating talk about how this author finds the story inside the painting, watch this TED talk.

July 29, 2012

Andrew Stanton

I love storytellers. What are the clues to a great story?
Watch this.

July 27, 2012

Penn State

I for one am delighted about the sanctions against PSU.

Susan has articulated this so well, that I'm posting her thoughts here:

"My take on the NCAA sanctions is that they were spot on.  My opinion is mostly informed by what I read in the Freeh report. Sandusky is a sexual predator that targeted young boys, using PSU facilities to cultivate and attack them.  This took place over 14 years at PSU, with the knowledge of Paterno, the Athletic Director, the President and Vice President of the University. Oh, and the campus cops, the janitors, and several molested children's mothers.  That's systemic enabling of child molestation and a calculated coverup so as not to tarnish the football program.  The most powerful men in the university let Sandusky go at it for over a decade, never informing the police, but trying to best keep it quiet.  No action or concern at all with regards to the past, current or future victims of the predator.

It wasn't Watergate that did Nixon in, it was the Watergate cover up.

I like the sanctions because they really hit particular targets.  Negating the wins since 1998 when the cover up began hurts only Paterno (alumni pride, too, but so what), who will no longer be the winningest coach ever.  It would be interesting if he was still alive.

The five years probation, loss of 20 scholarships, and four years of no post season games hits the football program, which was considered by the university to be above the law.  The current football players can transfer to other schools without a penalty, so each player can make a choice about how to continue their football college career. Nicely done.

The $60M fine to the university punishes the university and ultimately points the finger at the governing body of the football program, and PSU shoulders the ultimate blame. Right.

The choice not to nuke the football program is a good one too - there can be a healing around building a different kind of football tradition at PSU.  PSU will go on, but hopefully not stacked with people in areas of responsibility who turn a blind eye to child molestation and hold the reputation of the football program more important.

It must be enormously difficult to be a student or alumni there now.  But the truth came out, Sandusky is in jail, the other culpable people and organizations have been punished _where_it_hurts_. I am far more outraged at the systemic enabling of a child molester than the punishment that PSU received for aiding and abetting and covering up.  But, I also feel that there is no grey area at all when it comes to adults having sex with children.

I remember several years ago we had a conversation about Paterno, and I was telling you how much I admired him.  Sigh.  Letting a child molester attack children for years trumps all he did in football, to me  - the man lost sight of what was important."

July 26, 2012

Mozhan Marno

I admire her acting. She brings such emotional depth to her characters. So imagine my delight when I discovered that she is also an audiobook narrator. She has a lovely reading voice. I would listen to her read the phone book!
I had previously glued down a piece of ephemera I picked up somewhere along my travels. Ink and watercolors.

July 25, 2012

Recent Reads

80. Go the Fuck to Sleep
Cute. Can understand the frustration, but does anyone actually read this book to a child? Rating: 2/5 stars.

81. Tangles: a story about Alzheimer's, my mother, and me
Ever since reading Still Alice, I've been fascinated by early onset Alzheimer's, and I really liked this graphic novel. The art is not why you would read this book - very simple black and white sketches, but the honesty and pain shines through. This memoir is told in short story/vignettes form, and sheds light on the effects of this disease on the patient and their family. Well worth the read. Rating: 4/5 stars.

82. The Age of Miracles 
 I really should just stay away from books with great buzz. The premise is an interesting one. Something causes the Earth to slow its rotation, so days are no longer just 24 hours. Some people decide to keep clock time, while others keep real time. This coming of age novel started out promisingly enough, and then proceeded to bore me. Was I the only one to find the science inaccuracies annoying? The reason that I gave this book two stars and not one, is that the author has paragraphs that are beautifully written. Rating: 2/5 stars.

July 24, 2012

Journal Page

Sailing season. Two words that I say all summer long. Such fun. A slowing down. Drifting with the winds and the tides. The gentle, and often not so gentle, slap of waves. Like a tortoise, moving with my home to a new location. Settling in for a while. Taking in the new sights, and sounds, and smells. I can be on the water for a couple of days and feel like weeks have gone by. A complete reset of my brain. Love that.
(Click on image to enlarge).
This is a sketch of George's Island. If you have never visited the Boston Harbor Islands, whatever are you waiting for? Pencil and watercolors.

July 23, 2012

Journal page

The heat broke for several glorious days in these parts. Love that.
(Click to enlarge).
There is something soothing about ink and watercolor sketches. I added the watercolor while listening to an audiobook. A great way to relax and slow down.

July 21, 2012

The Peddocks Island Zoo

We came out for a peaceful day, and this is what we found. There must be hundreds of boats out here. Boats in all sizes and shapes. Summertime in the islands.

July 20, 2012


I love the idea of "the goal of the future is full unemployment, so we can play." You can read the entire article here.

You know me, you know that he is preaching to the choir. I am a proud loafer, who loves nothing more than taking time out to play. Or to do nothing. Well, I do have to decide what book I'm going to start next. After all the brain work, I might need a nap. Are you loafing today?

July 19, 2012

Colson Whitehead

I attended the author talk at the lovely Harvard Book Store this evening. Colson's books are on my TBR list, but then he published a zombie book. Intriguing.

To launch Zone One in paperback, Colson is on tour. He was funny and articulate, and is a good storyteller. Hmmm, who else did I say that about recently? I love authors who don't just read from their books - after all, I am literate. Weave me a story. Make me want to drop everything and read your book. That happened this evening. Will let you know what I think.

July 18, 2012

Recent Reads

78. Room
This is my book club selection for the month, and I've waited 2 days after I finished to review it. I'm still conflicted about how I feel about this book. On the one hand the writing is so powerful. On the other, I really do not want to read stories like this. What really worked for me was having such a young narrator - especially for the first part of the book. That voice does not work so well for the second half. I read that the author paid special attention to the language as she expected to have a YA audience. I certainly hope not! While Jack, the narrator is only five, there is nothing YA about this story. His innocence is sharply juxtaposed with what we, as adults, know is the horror of his Ma's life. I was delighted to be done, and to leave their world behind. Rating: 3/5 stars.

79. A Clash of Kings
After being totally immersed in this world for the past several days, I woke up disoriented this morning. Reminds me of how after days of sailing, my body sways to internal ocean waves on land. I keep expecting to hear the clash of swords, or the howl of dire wolves, or the flapping of ravens overhead.

This is book #2 in the A Song of Ice and Fire series, and while not as excellent as book #1, it is still really good. The King is dead (he dies in book #1) and now there are three, no four, no five people who would be king. Battles ensue. There are even more characters in this book than the last one, and you gotta let them simply wash over you. Do not try to hold on, simply let yourself be swept away by the story. Cannot wait to see Season 2 of the HBO series. Rating: 4/5 stars.

July 17, 2012

People watching

I love arriving early. Am often really early, which is great. I take out my journal and sketch the people around me.
(Click on image to enlarge).
Acrylic background and pen.

July 16, 2012

School days

While reading this graphic novel, I decided to sketch some of the images in the book.
These two images remind me of my early school years. The one on the top is how I often looked when teachers told me things that I thought were ridiculous. Like what you ask? Well, like when the nuns told me that all my non-Catholic friends were going to hell. Like I was going to be OK with that! Need I mention that I was sent to the headmistress often?

The woman on the bottom reminds me of a nun I called "mosquito". She was always buzzing around glaring at students down her long skinny nose when I was in primary school. Oh, and she acted like we were best pals when I got to secondary school. Riiiight.

Acrylic background, Pen and markers for the rest.

July 15, 2012


After years of squealing about how cold the waters are in the harbors around here, I had one of those aha moments the other day. We were off George's Island, and even though the heat has been incredible this summer, the water temps are not warm. Not by any stretch of the imagination. It was measured at 67.5F today. And that is about as high as it gets all year around.

Now I'm an equatorial gal when it comes to water temps. I don't do well in cold water. I do jump in, but don't last very long. Which leads me to the brainwave I had the other day. Why not get a wetsuit? Yeah, I'm sure that was a fairly obvious solution to many. But I'm kinda slow - I mean I have lived in the area for about half my life at this point!

I've read up on wetsuits. Watched videos on how to put them on - who knew these kinds of video existed? I especially recommend the ones that show how surfer babes do it. I'm just saying. If you're gonna watch, might as well have fun while doing it. I even pinged a friend for advice. Several days later - I'm moving fast to make up for all those lost years of ocean swimming - I went to the local store, tried on several, and bought one.
 So what does this journal page have to do with anything? The face on the woman captures my "duh" expression perfectly. And in case you were wondering, I do not look as fab as those surfer babes. But give me time my friends. Give me time.

July 13, 2012

The Other Day

The other day I sipped some delish homemade ginger lemonade. So very refreshing.

The other day I watched the sun set in a burst of pinks and reds and purples, and pondered how to create those hues with my paint palette.
The other day there was a letter and a postcard in the mail. One of my fave things.

The other day the summer sun felt like it was burning my skin and drove me inside. What is going on with the weather? Boston does not normally get this hot. Canada beckons.

The other day I dipped my toes in the waters off George's Island. So cold. Am considering getting me a wetsuit. Then watched a video on how to put them on and take them off. Hmm. Seems rather complicated.

The other day the library system crashed, and the librarians had to write down all the data. By hand. Glad it was not me doing that.

The other day I met up some a group of readers and shared a world that only readers know about. A magical, wonderous world it is.

The other day the temperature dropped low enough at night to snug. Like bugs in a rug.

The other day I realized that I need more snacks for the boat. Someone is eating them faster than I can stock them.

The other day the hummingbirds were at the feeder. I could watch those little bodies with such fast wings for ages.

The other day there were seven bunnies, with large ears, on my early morning walk.

The other day Babes and I explored paths not yet plowed.

July 10, 2012


On a mooring ball off George's Island in Boston Harbor. Bliss.

Recent Reads

75. A+E 4ever
This graphic novel is done in an unusual style - no regular boxes, no talk bubbles, and the art is sketchier than most. Adolescent years can be rough, especially for kids who stick out in any way. This boy meets girl story is not one usually written about. Tender. Gritty. Well worth a read. 
 Rating: 4/5 stars.

76. The Newlyweds 
You know that feeling after eating a large fatty and salty meal that leaves you feeling empty after? That is how I felt after I was done with this book. I listened to the audio version, wonderfully narrated by Mozhan Marno, and would not have finished it if not for how well it she reads it. I often wish there was a way to rate narrators separately from the book. I would give the book a rating of 2 stars and the narrator 5 stars. The story had good ingredients, but I found the plot lines weak and often rather boring. Don't bother. Rating: 2/5 stars.

77. Wonder
The thing you should know before reading this middle-grade book is that it is told from multiple viewpoints. Either you like that style or you don't. I do. 5th grade is tough. But it is even tougher if you have been home schooled, and have a facial deformity that has people gawking (or worse) when you are in public. This lovely story explores themes of courage, friendship, kindness, loyalty, family and love. I'm buying a copy for all the middle graders in my life.  Rating: 5/5 stars.

July 8, 2012

Journal Page

Can you believe that we are done with the first week in July already? Where the heck does time go?
(Click on image to enlarge).
On this page I used pen and watercolors. Am finding that I really like the use of grids.

July 5, 2012

Chopper off the stern

Taking some downtime after all the excitement of the past several days. A neighbor boater took some pics of us taking pics of the USCG chopper rescue drills.
They demonstrated two different rescue techniques. Day one, the rescuer jumped into the water from the hovering chopper and helped the "rescuee" into a lowered basket. On Day two, the rescuer was lowered into the water using a line, and tied the "rescuee" to that line, and they were hauled up together. And we got to watch all this from the comfort of our cockpit. So cool.

If You Love to Read

If I started my own church, this would be the opening hymn.
Intrigued? Click here.

Recent Reads

72. Mr. Midshipman Hornblower
In our home, we read books aloud. While one makes dinner, the other reads. This book was a perfect choice for sailing season. Lots of action, (mis)adventure and historical detail about life on the British frigate. My first time reading the series, and expect I'll slowly make my way through the collection. 3 stars.

73. The Kindly Ones 
This is book #9 in the Sandman series, and all I can say is WOW. Loved everything about it - the stories, the art, the imagination. 5 stars.

74. Dreaming From the Journal Page 
This is a good introduction to various art and transfer techniques. Wonderful photos. 3 stars.  

July 3, 2012

Fire Boat

The brand new fire boat paraded about shooting up plumes of water. No fires to put out today, but they cooled the air down for overheated bodies.

Earlier this morning Navy SEALS parasailed down from overhead. I was so stunned I did not get out my camera in time. The action is really non stop out here.


I could say that the size difference in my Opus sketches is a perspective thing. That he was farther away (left) and nearer (right) to me as I sketched - but that would not really be the truth. Maybe the one on the right was after his visit to my fave cannoli store.
Pen and watercolors.

July 2, 2012


I love comics. Always have. So many fun memories of lazing about with them as a kid. These days they have the grown up name of graphic novels, and I love them still. If you have not lost time as you read comics you don't know what you are missing. Here is a pic of what I'm reading right now.

July 1, 2012

Coast Guard Drills

The action out here is nonstop. Loving watching the USCG practice rescue drills right off our stern.