Sunday, November 09, 2014

Happy Carl Sagan Day!


This is the first time in 3 or 4 years that I haven't been seeped in the world of Carl Sagan and recently I have been revisited my notes and photos from that time and remembering just how fun and interesting it was to learn about this man and his life. 

The book above is a book that I think is a likely candidate for the one that Dr. Sagan talks about in Cosmos- the one he read his local Brooklyn library when he was a kid. The wording in this is so very close to his description of the event- don't know for sure of course, but I think it is likely in any case. My friend Sharon Lovejoy had it in her book collection and reading it was a thrill because I imagined the young Carl reading it from cover to cover in one sitting. The language is beautiful and so similar to how he went on to speak, I wonder if it was a formative in his way of thinking about science - the prose has a lovely poetic cadence to it. 



Studied the Voyagers one and two and it eventually became clear that these would carry the narrative in a perfect open ended way- just like they carry the golden records. They became a representation not only for humanity and the Earth, but of Carl Sagan's big picture thinking and his ability to inspire. And even better, they actually left our solar system and entered inter-stellar space in time to include that event in STAR STUFF: Carl Sagan and the Mysteries of the Cosmos. 


As I was working on the book and looking around the internet and talking with people, I began to realize how Dr. Sagan's legacy continues. His ability to inspire I think was his greater gift- that inspiration shows up in having inspired generations to become explorers not only in science, but in a huge variety of fields and from all walks of life. So many random strangers I talk with smile broadly with the mention of his his name- they are remembering the feeling that they got from reading his books or watching him on tv- something that opened up their imaginations. 

HAPPY CARL SAGAN DAY!

 (Isn't this so awesome? I got it for my editor.) 

Friday, November 07, 2014

Carl Sagan Day Coming Up!

As we ramp up to Carl Sagan Day on the 9th, here is an image from a version of the dummy (there were many) for STAR STUFF: Carl Sagan and the Mysteries of the Cosmos and an image from my dad's stamp collection with some commemorative stamps from the 1939 World's Fair. 


My Mommkin Interview

Mommkin is this awesome blog about creative moms. I am honored to be featured in this piece that was published yesterday


Saturday, October 25, 2014

Diwali Mauritius



This last Thursday was Diwali here. I was unsure of what to expect. We were told to put out lights in front of the house and to break and old dish and buy a new one. People go from house to house giving "cakes" which looked like different shaped doughnut holes and giving thanks. As we drove to dinner that night we say "chistmas lights" on houses and one cars and temples. The picture above (and sorry for the half image there- that's the window of the truck as we drove by)is of a temple on the way to Grand Baie. We had a meal at a South African joint- with a great view of the bay. Later that night there were fireworks and when we got home we say the best ones from people in the neighborhood firing them off. It's a happy, festive holiday- I love any holiday where people give thanks to each other and I like the lights.  



Thursday, October 16, 2014

Other than the Infamous Dodo Bird, What do you Know About Mauritius?

The Huffington Post has this write up and series of videos about the island: here .

The True Size of Africa

I spent some time this summer at home (California) before heading back to our new place of residence- Mauritius, which  is part of Africa. Before leaving friends kept saying " be careful!"- referring to the ebola outbreaks in Africa. It is over 1,600 miles from here to mainland Africa and here is a relative scale map of Africa. Here on Mauritius, you are not allowed into the country if have been to one of the effected countries within the last 60 days- even Mauritian citizens are kept out- everyone is, until you have cleared the 60 days. The U.S., Europe- no place I know has such stringent rules. 


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Balance of Things



I'm packing up the house this week -back into the 10 suitcases we moved in with- and then some...Tristam seems to have accumulated the most stuff- lots of found objects, toys and artwork he made. The kitchen came in second with a big coffee maker (which Fred has named Giselle) and additional pots and pans etc. 

Last night as I was closing the windows I said "hello" to the gecko residing in each room and wondered if we could take them with too- especially the one in the bedroom. That one is small and I actually leave the window open a bit longer at night in that room to make sure it has enough bugs to eat. I know that the minute we move that poisons will be set out for them and that will be that. When we moved in we had a pretty bad pest problem- the house was crawling with bugs. One day we noticed the gecko poisons removed all of them. Since that day, the bugs have been minimal to nonexistent. People here can't understand why we don't allow the previous poison spraying and poison traps to be in in our living space, and we cannot understand why you would poison your natural pest control...I imagine that we will go through the same process at the new house, but I'm hoping not as bad because we will be away from the sugar cane fields (YAY!!). 

I'm still considering how to capture at least the bedroom gecko to take with us. 


Monday, October 13, 2014

Early Book Art


Road Trip to the East, Lunar Eclipse, Birds and an Upcoming Move


Yesterday, Fred I headed out to explore the east of the island a bit. Most weekends, we spending catching up on work- especially right now. Fred is busy with solar projects and I have 3 books in the works- 2 that I am illustrating and 1 that I am both writing and illustrating. So, yesterday, we decided that we would take a rare day off and drive to Blue Bay. We stopped at a favorite restaurant in Belle Mare where we watched birds and enjoyed the warm breeze. Then drove the coastal road to Blue Bay. We were puzzled when we got to Blue Bay- or what the map and signage said was Blue Bay- because it was far from the pristine marine environment we expected. Instead, a crowded garbage covered beach with a trailer blasting techno music . Maybe there is another part of Blue Bay? Anyhow- the drive was beautiful and Mauritius is bigger than what I had imagined before. I'd like to go back to some of the villages and towns we drove through and spend some time. 


Last week we missed the lunar eclipse here, but caught it later via the internet. 



Here is a moor hen that hung out with us in Belle Mar yesterday. Watching birds is one of our favorite things to do and yesterday's feathered visitors did not disappoint 



Great news! This week we bid adieu to Piton. I will not miss it one little bit...maybe the neighbors, but other than that...nope. New digs are closer to the ocean- we are ocean people and I no longer eat sugar :) 

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Susan Cain: The power of introverts

NEW SLJ News Letter Featuring STAR STUFF: Carl Sagan and the Mysteries of the Cosmos

What trip to open up my e-mail and find a newsletter from Kirkus and scrolling down and first seeing an image of Neil Gaiman talking about his graphic novel adaptation of Hansel and Gretel and scroll down more and see my book STAR STUFF: Carl Sagan and the Mysteries of the Cosmos! 

Here is the article that featured the STARRED books :))






Thoughts From a Speck in the Indian Ocean



 Something that didn't occur to me until recently- surprisingly- is how much being an introvert shapes my experience of the world. The picture above is of me with in Belgium when we were expats there. We lived in the country near Waterloo and our neighbor had rabbits and pigeons. It was a heaven of sorts for me- a quiet rural existence- not a lot of noise and activity. 

Flash ahead some forty some years and I move to Mauritius with a very different culture- loud, ueber social, constant activity and people  and noise everywhere- a big challenge to an introvert. 





So, I am learning to do things like go to less popular beaches and collect shells or read or do yoga- to schedule time in to do those things.  I hadn't realized how much a part of me this thing of being quiet is. I tried at first when we got here to take on the task of integrating, but it became over load. So, I backed away- I think that's the process - you try on a new thing and see how it fits and if now you try a different way...





You find the things that comfort you. My case- watching birds, sketching, food (ULTRA rare organic strawberries ), finding alone time...connecting with the ocean...




Here I am 15 years ago (when I first me Fred). I worked out ways of connecting with California (which is home in my mind) . I bought a quiver of surfboards and headed out into the waves. It was magical...working on creating a home away from home here on this speck in the Indian Ocean.