An Accordionist, Painted Cows & Flame Pits

Meet Big Joe Burrell

Big Joe was a much loved Burlington jazz/blues saxophonist/singer who passed away in 2005. Big Joe Burrell played in both B.B King’s and Count Basie’s band and moved to Burlington, Vermont in the mid-70s. Here he’s playing his sax forever on Church Street in downtown Burlington.

Ken and I spent a happy afternoon there after we left Montreal. The city elders have very wisely closed off the streets, creating an open air mall lined with shops, bistros, and… cows.

Plus, there is an assortment of street artists, one of whom is the very talented Leanna Therese Inzalaco. We loved watching her perform on her beautiful red and brown accordion.

Isn’t she amazing? Even the dogs agreed!

We loved it that Church Street is named Church Street for the elegant and historic Unitarian Universalist church at the top of the street. Happy 200th birthday! That’s 200, people!

And okay, my last video from my stay in Vermont is too good to not share, even though I didn’t catch the entire song, and the filming is shaky [...]

Uma Krishnaswami–"Out of the Way! Out of the Way!"

While I was still in Vermont, I was able to catch my colleague, the amazing Uma Krishnaswami, to chat about her brand new picture book, Out of the Way! Out of the Way!, which is illustrated by…ahem…Uma Krishnaswamy. No, they’re not the same person with variations on the spelling of their last names. But they have joined together to create an utterly charming new book, one that has all the makings of a classic.

Uma is the author of several picture books and novels for children. She lives with her family, which includes four cats, in Aztec, NM. She is also the author the wonderful blog, Writing With A Broken Tusk, a blog about “story, overlapping geographies, and the creation of books for children.”

Out of the Way! Out of the Way! is published in nine different languages by Tulika Books in India, and will soon be released by the Canadian publishers Groundwood Books.

Uma teaches at Vermont College of Fine Arts. I’m so fortunate to call Uma my friend.

By |August 1st, 2010|Author interviews, Books, Cats|Comments Off on Uma Krishnaswami–"Out of the Way! Out of the Way!"|

Montreal–Art, Music and Graffiti

From Burlington, VT, the drive to Montreal is only a couple of hours long, so Ken and I climbed into our nifty rent car and made the trek. Thanks to a suggestion from my colleague Tim Wynne-Jones, we stayed in the perfect hotel: The Chateaux Versailles.

It was in a great location, just blocks from the Museum of Fine Arts where we stumbled onto a fantastic exhibit about the famous jazz trumpet player, Miles Davis.

And all up and down Sherbrooke Ave., there were “Art Mooses”:

Montreal is a very walkable city. We spent a large portion of one day strolling down the Canal de Lachine, starting at the Atwater Market, and ending up at the old wharves.

Here I am walking in an alleyway between two buildings in the old port.

Here’s our live-action walking tour:

Oh how I loved Babar en Ville! The folks there were so nice…and they even had a copy of Keeper in the window.

By |July 29th, 2010|Books, Family and Friends, Music, Travel|Comments Off on Montreal–Art, Music and Graffiti|

The Flying Pig

While we were in Vermont, Ken and I visited the world-famous Flying Pig Bookstore in Shelburne. One of the owners, Elizabeth Bluemle, is a graduate of the MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults and Vermont College of Fine Arts. We found a copy of her book, Dogs on the Bed, among the thousands of picture books displayed there.

What a wonderful bookstore!

And while you’re in Shelburne, be sure to drop in to Bistro Sauce and enjoy their wonderful cuisine.

Good things are happening in Shelburne, VT.

Calloo, callay!

By |July 25th, 2010|Books, Travel|1 Comment|

Rita Williams Garcia Talks About ONE CRAZY SUMMER

UPDATE: Rita’s book was just named a finalist for The National Book Award! Hooray!

Despite the busy schedule of the summer residency at Vermont College of Fine Arts, Rita Williams Garcia took time to talk about her new book, ONE CRAZY SUMMER.

What are you waiting for….go get a copy and read it!

Rita Williams Garcia–Jump Rope Champ

We all knew that RWG had many, many talents. But who knew that she was a jump rope machine?

That Rita!

By |July 12th, 2010|Books|Comments Off on Rita Williams Garcia–Jump Rope Champ|

VCFA, Cats and Rita Williams Garcia's Dream House

I’m here at Vermont College for the summer residency. But leaving home is always a little bittersweet.

I love being here, but I do miss those cats. And seriously, people, have you ever seen anything cuter than Hoss and Peach in their snuggle mode?

Purrrrrr…

Then again, Rita’s dream house is pretty darned cute too, not to mention the lovely Rita herself…

Wish you were here!

Leslie Ullman–Poet, Teacher, Ski Coach

When I arrived at Vermont College, I had the great pleasure of meeting poet Leslie Ullman. I managed to talk her into visiting with me (and my flipcam).

As a bonus, she read one of her beautiful poems, a poem for poets everywhere.

Wasn’t that lovely?

Something else that Leslie does is make “poem beads.” Here’s a quick look at one.

Calloo, callay!

By |July 10th, 2010|Author interviews, Books|Comments Off on Leslie Ullman–Poet, Teacher, Ski Coach|

Jacob at the Classic Cafe

Ken and I love it when we get a chance to catch one or both of our sons, Jacob and Cooper, on stage. So last week, I decided to take a break from the on-going desk-clearing-project-that-is-my-life, and slipped up to Roanoke, TX where Jacob (aka Son#1) plays on Thursday nights with his friends Andy LaViolette (guitar) and Patrick Bubert (drums).

Visiting the Classic Cafe was a pleasure. The ambience is great, the food is delicious, and the folks in charge are the bestest in the westest.

The art by Carolyn Riegelman is so vibrant that it makes all of my color glands hum.

See for yourself…

Wherever you may be, it’s worth a drive to Roanoke TX to visit The Classic Cafe.

And please tip the musicians. Their mothers will thank you.

By |July 7th, 2010|Books, Family and Friends, Music|Comments Off on Jacob at the Classic Cafe|

Laurel Johnston–Unraveling a Sweater

I’ve met a LOT of book reviewers, but music reviewers? Not so much. So it was my good fortune to be able to sit down with Laurel Johnston of Denton, TX, who reviews bands for www.mydentonmusic.com and to talk shop for a few moments. We met at the Classic Cafe in Roanoke, TX.

Laurel’s reviews and articles have become wildly popular on the Denton music scene.

Some of her photos:

However, her writing interests aren’t limited to music, so she’s begun a blog so that she can spread her writing wings: Naughty Modesty.

Laurel comes from a writing family. Her mom, Lissa Johnston, is a successful children’s book author. So, Laurel’s skills could be genetic. I’m just saying…

Rumor has it that she’s getting ready to pack up and move to Los Angeles. Look out, you Angelenos! One fine writer is coming your way.

P.S. What was with those cicadas!?!

By |July 5th, 2010|Author interviews, Books, Music|Comments Off on Laurel Johnston–Unraveling a Sweater|