I just finished a week of World-Read-Aloud-Day Skyping, Quito to Ontario--fourteen virtual visits in total. I glimpsed Wisconsinites and Virginians in spirit-week pajamas, Ecuadorians in school uniforms, and the really cool reading bunk (actual bunk beds) of a New York State fifth-grade classroom. Technology and books, teachers and librarians, students and reading--they're all pretty magical. Thanks to Skype in the Classroom for serving as a sort of literary matchmaker between schools and authors. Thanks also to my dog Lulu, for not being grumpy that I woke her up fourteen times to wave at the camera.
One of my favorite places in Baltimore is the Walters Art Museum's Chamber of Wonders. In a series of rooms overlooking the Mount Vernon neighborhood, museum curators have assembled what a seventeenth-century nobleman from what was then the Southern Netherlands might have gathered in a space of his own--objects of curiosity and beauty, kept on permanent display.
I love looking at other people's work spaces--at the small chambers of wonders we all create routinely, without much forethought or deliberation. Next to laptops and graphics tablets and calculators I've seen, among other items, cicada husks, kindergarteners' pinch pots, sea glass, and long-dried-out fountain pens. Though clutter normally makes me kind of antsy, my own work space's chamber of wonders gets fuller every year. Just this month, my newest acquisition came along: a wood block that my great-aunt, a graphic artist, created for a Methodist church association decades ago.
For me, the wonder of this block is not just the grace of the lettering and design, but the fact that she achieved that grace while carving into wood--and working backward, to boot. (It's kind of like that quote about Ginger Rogers--dancing backward and in heels.) My great-aunt probably thought nothing of this wood block, but I think it's a marvel.
One of my favorite things about the holiday season is taking my dogs on morning walks through a neighborhood of fallen inflatable lawn figures. In the evenings, these Santas and reindeer, snowmen and sleighs, are plump and electrified--always the same. But their morning reposes take many forms. This reindeer, for instance--sometimes he's slumped over the "Santa Parking Only" sign. Sometimes he's nearly flat, his nose pressing into the dry winter grass. Sometimes he looks funny, sometimes he looks sad, and sometimes he just looks drunk.
If you have any photos of inflatables in repose, please send them my way. They never get old.
And happy new year!