Travels with Heather

Oh my goodness, have I been busy!  Three trips in a row.  I promised I’d tell you all about my travels,  so make yourself a cup of tea and settle in because this is going to be a long one….

Before we get started, I want to share a fun picture of me with one of you at my recent writing workshop at Powell’s.  This young lady (who I think prefers to remain anonymous — feel free to introduce yourself to everyone if you don’t, though, okay?) drove all the way down from the Olympic Peninsula up in Washington State, which is about three hours away.  Whew. Talk about dedicated!  We had fun writing and chatting, and I was thrilled to meet her!  (Love the hat, too.)

And now we return to our regularly scheduled program.

First stop, Boston!  I flew out to attend my nephew’s graduation from Hampshire College in Western Massachusetts, a really beautiful part of the state.  Here he is with his family:

Doesn’t everyone look happy and proud?  Especially my lovely sister, who is absolutely glowing in her lovely red dress!

Here’s my nephew with his awesome ROUND diploma — how cool is that?

I am so proud of him!  He’s a fine writer, among other things, and he has a bright future ahead of him.

The day before graduation, we all had fun poking around the campus.  Guess what I discovered was there?  Does anybody recognize this car?

It belongs to the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art!  Of course we had to go right in and look around.  There were many old friends, including this one…

I think I read THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR about five million times to my boys when they were little.  Eric Carle was and is one of our family’s favorite picture book artists–we adore his books!  Click here for a cool video of him reading the book aloud.  And for you artists out there, here’s another of him talking about the artistic process behind that book, which recently celebrated its 40th anniversary!  (There are more photos and videos of Eric at work here, too — it’s well worth spending some time on his website if you’re interested in writing and/or illustrating picture books.)

Not surprisingly, the museum Eric founded is light and bright and filled with color.  A real treat for the eye.  We spent a very happy hour or so exploring (and spending money in the gift shop).  Right before we left, I discovered another fun surprise — in the ladies’ room, of all places!

I laughed out loud when I spotted this!  It’s a stall designed specifically for toddler girls.  The potty is close to the ground, and the seat looks a bit like a flower blossom.  Very user friendly!  The surrounding walls are decorated with cheerful tiles with Eric’s artwork on them:

I wish that my wee niece could have been with me that day — she would have loved to “visit” this stall!

And since we’re on the subject of potties, I have to tell you a funny story.  After graduation, we all drove into Amherst for a fancy dinner to celebrate.  Delicious meal, great company, but the WEIRDEST LADIES’ ROOM I HAVE EVER SEEN IN MY LIFE.  I kid you not.  Here it is:

Bad cellphone picture of weirdest ladies' room ever

Um, OK.  One bathroom, two potties.  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

(And no, I’m not going to tell you whether my sister and I spent quality time in here together.  I’ll leave that up to your imagination.)

I had a flashback to when I was five, and flew up to Nova Scotia with my grandmother to visit our Canadian relatives.  Her brother lived way out in the country on a farm that didn’t have indoor plumbing.  Ahem.  Instead, they had what’s called a “two-seater” outhouse in the backyard.  Yep.  Kind of like this, only no white porcelain…

Moving right along here, after I got home from Boston I turned right around and packed my suitcase for Seattle, where my husband and I went to visit our son.  It was a gorgeous weekend, which isn’t always the case in that city.  This time, though, it was sunny, and I have the pictures to prove it!

Space Needle in Seattle

We drove down to the Pacific Science Center to see the King Tut exhibit, and spent a little time wandering around the park outside.  I spotted this cool sculpture and had to take a picture:

The King Tutankhamen exhibit was AWESOME.  I’ve always been fascinated with Ancient Egypt, thanks to some grade school field trips to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, which has an amazing Egyptian collection, including a cool mummy exhibit.  The other thing that triggered my interest was reading THE EGYPT GAME by Zilpha Keatley Snyder.  Anybody else know that book?  I think I read it about as many times as I read THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR to our boys!

Anyway, thanks to those childhood influences, for a long time I wanted to be an Egyptologist, if the whole writing thing didn’t work out.  (Either that or a spy.)

All things considered, I’m glad the writing thing worked out …

We couldn’t use flash photography inside the museum, but I did manage to get some pretty decent shots:

Classic, elegant Egyptian artwork.  Gorgeous!

One of my favorite things in the exhibit was the jewelry.  Check out this necklace:

Here’s an even fancier specimen — a collar-style necklace made for Princess Neferuptah:

All that gold!  All that intricate beadwork!  Amazing…

Here’s an earring.  I was amazed at how big it is — seriously, I think this sucker would dangle down far enough brush the shoulder of the person wearing it.  I was curious to know how heavy it is, too, but of course there’s no way I would have been allowed to handle a THREE THOUSAND YEAR OLD earring!

The design is surprisingly modern, isn’t it?  I have several friends who are jewelers, and I can well imagine any one of them crafting something like this today.

And now for a man’s necklace — called a “pectoral” because it was found on the chest of one of the mummies in the tomb:

I adore that trio of purple scarabs.  I covet that trio of purple scarabs.  I’ve been in a purple mood lately, as you may be able to tell from the purple shirt I’m wearing in the picture at the top of this post.  In fact, this little item would go really well with that shirt.  Hmmm.  Too bad it’s a priceless antique kept in a well-protected vault…

Enough jewelry!  How about some fashion footwear?  Here’s what your well-dressed mummy is wearing these days:

Yes, folks, those are sandals made of GOLD.  Royal sandals. They were found on King Tut’s mummy and are definitely not for the likes of you and me…

Another thing a mummy would need, when he awoke in the afterlife, was someplace to sleep, right?  How about a 3,000-year-old bed?

This really amazed me.  A piece of FURNITURE — crafted from wood and woven reeds — that survived intact in a tomb, since Bible times.  Astonishing!  Here’s a closer look at it:

Can you believe that wickerwork?  And here’s a chair to match:

This would look really nice on my patio.  I could sit in it while wearing my purple shirt and the purple scarab necklace…

Just two more pictures and we’re done for today.  Did you know that Ancient Egyptians loved their pets, too?  So much so that they wanted to take them with them into the afterlife.  Cats, especially.  Cats were an important part of their society and religion, and sometimes were mummified after death just like humans.  This limestone sarcophagus (tomb or coffin), made for Prince Thutmose’s cat, knocked my socks off with its beauty:

And finally, because I can’t resist, and because we seem to have a theme going here in this post, I’ll say farewell until tomorrow, when I’ll tell you about the third of my three trips, and leave you with a picture of …

… an Ancient Egyptian potty!


Join me at two upcoming writing workshops

Calling all aspiring writers near Portland, Oregon!  I’ll be leading two writing workshops next week, and would love to see some of you there.  This Sunday afternoon, May 6th, I’ll be at the Wilsonville Library from 3:30 – 5:30 as part of the Northwest Author Series.  The workshop is geared for adults and teens, and costs $5.  Click here for full details.

Then next Friday, May 11th, I’ll be at Powell’s Books at Cedar Hills Crossing at 4:30 for Book Fan Friday, a free writing workshop for young writers between the ages of 10 and 18. We’ll be having fun with fractured fairy tales.  Click here for more information.

Come join me if you can!



Calling all young Portland writers!

Want to learn how to create characters so real they walk off the page?

Head on down to Powell’s Books at Cedar Hills Crossing (Beaverton) this coming Friday afternoon, December 10th, at 4:30 p.m.  I’ll be teaching a writing workshop with my friend and fellow author April Henry aimed at aspiring authors between the ages of 10 and 18.

There’ll be a book signing afterwards, too!  Hope to see you there!

A Betsy-Tacy treasure

Just in the door from a quick pilgrimage to Powell’s (always an eagerly-anticipated destination when either of our sons is home) where I spotted a treasure for all you Betsy-Tacy fans out there:

It’s a pristine first edition of Betsy’s Wedding by Maud Hart Lovelace, the final book in her fabulous Betsy-Tacy series!  This charming bookseller at the Powell’s Cedar Hills store gamely posed with it so I could snap a picture.

At $150, it’s out of my price range (we’re still knee deep in the college years), but I thought perhaps someone might be interested.  AND for all you mother-daughter book club fans out there, I’m herewith dropping a HUGE HINT as to what my fictional club will be reading in the fifth installment (currently under construction and due in bookstores sometime in September 2011)…