1) Ramblings about other people's illustrations of my stuff
Charles Vess has done the illustrations for The Coyote Road
, in which I have a story forthcoming called "Always the Same Story." It always stuns me a little when I see a picture that someone else has done
which is nevertheless associated with something I have written
--I'm never quite prepared for the fact that someone else has actually read and understood my own personal and interior creation. It feels, just a little, as though someone has read my thoughts. And the best pictures are always of scenes that I haven't quite
imagined myself, but which are obviously deeply connected to the story.
I love Scott Multer's original cover of The Winter Prince
, which ever so subtly and appropriately puts Lleu on the defensive and Medraut on the attack, with Lleu's determined yet impassive expression a contrast to Medraut's furious intensity; and then, Greg Spalenka's more recent cover for the paperback, which is similar to the original but differs in that rather than crossing swords, Lleu and Medraut are struggling for possession of a single sword.
The French and Dutch editions of The Winter Prince
are both illustrated, and astonishingly, each, independent of the other, in the first chapter shows Medraut with his back turned, a satchel over his right shoulder, making his way toward Camlan. It's exactly the picture that *I* did for the first chapter.
My reaction to illustrations I don't like is usually, "Well, THAT person hasn't read the book!" rather than, "Oh, you've really misinterpreted that." As long as someone reads the story and understands it, I don't care for toffee how they interpret it. The illustrations in the French edition of The Winter Prince
, by Françoise Moreau,
are very stylized and cubistic (someone commented that they're actually very "French"). In the general scheme of things the artwork isn't to my taste, but I love them anyway because each one is so fraught with symbolism and design; and if that's the way Moreau perceived my story, well, that's her right as a reader. She certainly was a careful
reader. In the first of her pictures, where Medraut is arriving at Camlan, he is looking ahead into a dark hallway lit by a single torch (in the composition the torch finishes a perfect triangle whose other points are his head and his satchel); in the bare lower corner of the page are nine grains of wheat, which are described in the text as littering the dark halls. It just slays me, in one of the later illustrations in the book, that the illustrator gives life to one of Lleu's hallucinations.
I love to have my stories illustrated because these pictures are, in a very concrete way, confirmation that someone has read what I've written. It can be a very cloistered life sometimes, sitting with a computer or a pen all day, and your own mind ticking away.
However, I have Another Life, which includes Weasels and Grandparents. Here is the latest update on the home front:2) My Grandmother
Gramma is HOME. She went home yesterday--if you've been to Mt. Gretna you know that the downstairs of the house is meant to be disabled-friendly so that my brother can visit. This mostly means that it's wheelchair accessible and we've got a "disabled bathroom" (which fortunately was NOT disabled yesterday; as Gramma reported, "I was so surprised to be able to take a shower--the pipes in there usually freeze when the temperature dips below 20." Clearly, some improvements may be necessary before she spends another winter there on her own…). I don't think she has a wheelchair; she's been working hard at walking, and Medicare will only pay for a walker OR a wheelchair (not both). So. Rugs have been rolled up, there's a hospital bed on hire and set up in the corner by the fireplace (the downstairs is all open-plan), a microwave has been installed, and we're working on better lighting and on rearranging the kitchen.
Gramma always sings the Doxology whenever she comes back into the house after time away, and the first thing she said to me when I called her last night was, "I sang the Doxology SO LOUD!"3) A Rant Against the UK Children's Clothing Design Mafia
Sara comes home from school and announces sadly, "I'm afraid so-and-so [her so-called best friend at school] is going to force me to get a crop top."
A crop top, I have discovered, is a piece of underwear that mediates between being what they call a vest (a sleeveless undershirt, which all the little kids wear for warmth) and a training bra. The crop top is supposed to be more "grown up" than a vest because it looks like a bra--kinda sorta, apart from the fact that it is designed for people who don't have breasts. Sara thinks they're stupid, and amazingly enough she formed this opinion on her own without any assistance from me, although I don't actually have enough words for "stupid" to tell you what I think of this garment.
Sara is 9. She is about the size and build of your average 7-year-old. She is not going to need a bra for some time.
HOWEVER, they all have to take off their clothes in the gym hall to put on their gym kit, girls and boys TOGETHER; and of course since they've now all had their first unit of sex-ed, they've gone all self-conscious about their bodies, and it's understandable that they want some undergarment to cover up their skeeter bites.
So I told her I'd get her a camisole. Grownups wear camisoles, after all (they don't wear crop tops, to my knowledge, at least not as underwear, and not if they haven't got anything to cover up). I went shopping for camisoles a few days later. Everything on offer was covered in pink ribbons and hearts. BLICK, BLICK, BLICK. I finally found something white (Sara is very fussy about white underwear). Lo and behold (as Gramma says), in the size for ages 9/10, this camisole comes with a reinforced "hidden support" shelf. Not available in the size for ages 7/8.
Why is my 9-year-old being FORCED TO WEAR A BRA? CAN'T THE UNDERWEAR DESIGNERS DO THEIR WORK BASED ON SIZE RATHER THAN AGE? Can I point out that IF your 9-year-old needs "hidden support" you will buy her a BIGGER SIZE? Or a BRA??? GROWNUPS can buy camisoles without built-in "hidden support", so WHY CAN'T KIDS??????
It is so insidiously evil it makes me want to scream. And the pink ribbons and hearts. They make me want to scream too. I think it is far more rampant in the UK than in any other country I've been lately (USA, France)--they seem DETERMINED here to turn their girl-children into frilly little throwbacks to the 19th century. Whatever happened to Free to Be You and Me