Sunday, February 27, 2011

Joey's Calendar

I like it when my neighbor Joey comes over. You may remember that on one of his last visits he brought his snow shovel and was prepared to go to work. He also comes over for school fund-raisers, for trick or treats during Halloween, and sometimes he brings up my garbage can after he comes home from school. It seems this third-grader is always up to "some good." If he sees me in the yard he will yell, "Hello!" and wave.

During the nice weather in mid-February, he rang the doorbell and presented me with a calendar he had made. He drew an original illustration for each month. 
As he handed it to me, he said, "There are no dates on the calendar. It's just pictures, but you can hang it up next to a calendar that has dates."
Which is exactly what I did.

Each of his illustrations show a particular flare with color and characterization of the specific month.
 I show you January (above) to display his signature and April (below) for its great depiction of mud puddles. I'm glad that growing up in a world full of concrete and asphalt streets has not diminished Joey's appreciation of the mud puddle, which was a main attraction for me when I was a boy.

Note that the grey shadows are a result of my scanning,not part of his artwork.
Click below to see the rest of the months.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Dad's birthday at Janesville Elementary.

I was lucky to be pretty close to my folks. Still am. Things like that don't change even though they've been dead for years. Sometimes people ask me if I think of them much, I say, "I think of my mom all the time, but I don't have to think of my dad. You see, every move I make reminds me that I am his son. Not that we looked exactly alike or anything, (We didn't. He was taller and better looking.), but my mannerisms, vocalisms, and movements seem to match his more every day.
This is the dedication in my book A Farm Country Christmas Eve.
When I do a show I add, "...who made my growing up on the farm a wonderful experience."

Anyway, you can imagine that he was on my mind on his birthday, February 18, as Nancy and I drove Highway 60 west of Faribault and turned south on Elysian Lake Road toward Janesville to do three performances at Janesville Elementary School. It was a beautiful day and the scenery was great. I remember thinking, "If we were on a trip to another state and witnessed scenery like this we'd be taking pictures, but since it's so close to home, one takes the beauty for granted." Then I remembered that Dad had said something like that once.
  Don't I have any original thoughts!
 My first show was If I were a Farmer: Nancy's Adventure  for about 90 K-1 and 10 adults. When audience members are this young, I keep my introduction really short, but I keep the prologue because the meter and rhyme help grab the attention of the kids. I like to see them smile when I show them the picture of Dad making a mustache with the cow's tail. He was always goofing around, trying to make things fun.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Creative Cover-Up 2

Did I mention that my wife Nancy makes quilts? OK, I know I blogged about it once before and joked that her quilting offered lots of "material" for more stories (reference July 16, 2010). This time let me explain that in addition to all sorts of other quilts, she makes tee shirt quilts from tee shirts we buy when we are on trips.

The above quilt is from a trip west.

Just a warning: If you ask my wife Nancy to see our vacation pictures, you may be in for more than you bargained for, but only one thing could take longer and endear you to her even more, and that is asking about her quilts.
So when my cousin Evie asked to see the tee shirts Nancy bought for her tee shirt quilt on our recent trip to Hawaii, my jaw dropped open and I said, "Are you sure, Ev? She has a lot of tees."
Ev just smiled and said, "I want to see them." Below is a picture of the stack of tees.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Do something cool on St. Valentine's Day--build a snowman

You can't count on it, of course, but a mid-February thaw is not uncommon and always welcome. Although I like to attribute mild temperatures in the middle of February to warmth generated by the passions of St.Valentine's Day, I know that probably isn't the case.
To celebrate the thaw and St. Valentine's Day, my love and I decided to make a snowman the day before the big day to kind of, well, usher in St. Valentine's Day.
We gave him a cap with ear flaps and an old, but warm, wool scarf that Nancy had made long ago.
His arms are just sticks and look pretty skinny, I'm afraid.
His nose is a stick, too.
We didn't bother giving him eyes and a mouth.
We thought he looked good as is.

After Nancy and I went in the house, we told each other a few memories of making snowmen when we were kids. Some of them we hadn't told each other before. Sharing stories with your loved one is always fun, and remember, a story not told is lost forever.
So if you're looking for something cool to do on St.Valentine's Day that's easy on the pocketbook and good for the waistline, try making a snowman with the one you love. Then tell each other some stories over a cup of coffee or tea, or a glass of wine.
But if it goes wrong, don't blame me.

Snowman by Gordon W. and Nancy A. Fredrickson

Pictures by Nancy A. Fredrickson

Monday, February 7, 2011

Fun at LeCenter Elementary

It may be cold but the kids in grades K-6 made me feel pretty cozy as I performed 8 half-hour shows for grades K-3 on Wednesday, February 2, and 5 shows of various lengths for grades 3-6 on Friday, February 4, 2011.
The second graders in the two pictures below seem to agree that anytime is a good time for a story about Christmas as I performed my book A farm country Christmas Eve.

And when I quiz them, they all seem to know the answers.
And these third graders in the picture below know what is under the tree:

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Sunset in Maui, Hawaii

Beautiful sunset, eh?

But what is special about this sunset that would make it a suitable subject for my blog, which usually features stories about my books, our travels doing shows about my books, and other things about farming?
Check closely. Then click to go to the next page.