Sunday, June 21, 2015

...a cemetery tour, a conference presentation, and my garden...

Just living is not enough...
one must have
sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.
~Hans Christian Andersen
My friend Miako & Me in front of my favorite gravemarker
Holy Moly! It’s been a busy, busy week. The week included presentation prep for the ChLA - Children's Literature Association conference as well as cemetery tour prep since I was giving a tour in American Sign Language for the first time. If you’re multilingual you’ll understand that there are various levels of fluency. I’ve been using my second language for nearly two decades but there are still times that I very much get stuck in my first language and since on campus I’m not typically describing gravestone shapes, etc. I really needed a practice run… and signing to oneself (or talking to oneself) always looks a little weird. Fortunately, I am good friends with a linguist who was willing to come down and go on my Hollywood Cemetery tour to help me with my language use. That was Wednesday!  Thursday morning I gave the tour and while I had a few cancellations from folks coming from out-of-state, I still had the perfect little group of those who were excited about taking a tour. The tour went great! It was a hot day so I headed home, showered, and then headed back to the Children’s Literature conference for a very full afternoon.

example of a fun presentation at ChLA
The conference was Thursday-Saturday. I presented my research on Friday morning and then felt incredibly free to simply enjoy the other papers.  Before anyone thinks that academic or educational conferences are boring, I assure you being an English Professor does not always mean Shakespeare, Dryden and Pope. Yesterday’s panel presentations included: Popular Scary Stories for Children; The Witching Hour; and, Things that Go Bump in the Night. I enjoyed presentations from panelists who spoke about Fabien Vehlmann and Kerascoet’s anti-fairy tale Beautiful Darkness, a panelist who discussed The Babadook, and an entire panel about the works of Neil Gaiman. So it was not a dry and boring conference as some might presume.

Aside from *work*, my garden is BLOOMING! My fella gave me a cactus ear from his gigantic cactus and I planted it when this house was built about five years ago. This year is the first time it has ever bloomed! Three blooms (always a significant number for us).

Yesterday the pumpkin patch was a foot over the fence! I took some time to carefully unfasten the little clingy vines to wrap them down lower. Today it's much fuller and happier after last night’s storm.

This lily was originally purchased in June 2012… just another reason to invest in perennials.


  1. It sounds interesting looking reading your post; I've started volunteering at local library. It's quite interesting looking into children lit as its a topic thats overlooked. Despite limited amounts of children visiting the library I've been selecting books to create displays to encourage children to read.

    Also must admit, finally reading my first Neil Gaiman novel American Gods, and planning to read stardust next as I love the film. Wish I read him years ago. Brilliant author.

    1. Neil Gaiman's books for children came out after I was a child. Interestingly enough, some of the presenters argued that Gaiman wrote children's books for adults and adult books for children... That reads a bit weird but their point is that Gaiman writes his kid books in a way that is interesting to adults and his adult books in a way that is accessible to children. I read Coraline as an adult. It still creeps me out a bit... If you've seen the film, they're not the same by any means.

  2. The conference sounds fascinating!

    It is awesome that you can sign. Apparently sign language differs by country and there is even slang in different cities!

    I love how that lily makes water drops look like blood drops!

    1. Yep, a common misconception is that all sign languages are the same worldwide or that sign language is international. Each country typically has its own and some have more than one. ASL is actually more connected to French and French Sign Language than to English... So thankfully my French college courses benefited me a bit when learning ASL :)

  3. I've not yet read Gaiman, which seems extraordinary given my usual taste in books. Which of his books would you recommend I start with?
    Your flowers are lovely! Mine are doing well and are a small oasis of serenity, where I've been spending a lot of my home time.

    1. I love-love-loved _Coraline_!

      Folks at the conference were raving about _The Graveyard Book_ but when I read it with my students for my Adolescent Literature course, none of us liked it that much. I didn't hate it but it didn't have the creepy factor of Coraline. If I wrote out a synopsis, it would completely sound like a book that I would love but I didn't. After the conference, I actually thought I should read it again because maybe I was in a bad mood when I read it the first time *shrug*... also because I have this idea of writing a paper on adolescent literature books with characters in graveyards :p