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Monday Magpie: Mike Mulligan edition

woodcut illustration of boy with Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel

[text: Robert was quite sure that Mike was his best friend. And because he loved Mike so very much Robert thought that the whole library had been built as a house for Mike. He always called the library “Mike’s house.” He never said, “I’m going to the library.” He always said, “I’m going to Mike’s house.”]

This is a page from Julia Sauer’s Mike’s House, published fifteen years after Virginia Lee Burton’s Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel and fourteen years before Ramona Quimby asked how Mike Mulligan goes to the bathroom while he is digging the cellar for the town hall. I ran across Mike’s House at the university library– I liked Sauer’s Fog Magic as a kid and wanted to check out The Light at Tern Rock.

Mike Mulligan’s fame and longevity blow me away. There’s not even a note in Mike’s House explaining that Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel is a real book or giving the author’s name. Mike Mulligan just is. And once you know the story, he continues to live, unnamed, in the news:

Seattle construction-crane operators cope with stress, no bathrooms
“He says the most common question people have is how he goes to the bathroom up there.”

The bizarre secret of London’s buried diggers
“The difficulty is in getting the digger out again. To construct a no-expense-spared new basement, the digger has to go so deep into the London earth that it is unable to drive out again. What could be done?” (The reality is less cheery than Dick Berkenbush’s solution.)


You know what else has longevity? Don’t Stop Believin’. This Boomwhacker version has been in my head for days since I ran across it at TYWKIWDBI. I watched it all the way through on a difficult news day and felt better, that people do stuff like this, work on it until they can do it off book in one take.

Friday Five-plus-one, Inktober Edition

I did the first few days of Inktober, on 4×6 index cards with non-photo blue pencil and Sharpie.

ink drawing of a cracked egg

poison

ink drawing of a leaf floating on water

tranquil

ink drawing of a roasted carrot against a black background

roasted

ink drawing of a wooden alphabet block

spell

ink drawing of a chicken with scaly legs

chicken

ink drawing of a dog drooling. Shows only the wet parts of a dog.

drooling

 

Wednesday reading

Just finished: Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata, translated by Ginny Takemori. This was right up my alley! The pleasures of commodification, a simple life, how performative and imitative social life can feel. I like the cover, too.

cover of Convenience Store Woman, aqua and pink with a rice ball made to look like a woman's head

Currently reading: rereading E.L. Konigsburg’s The View From Saturday.

Next up: going on vacation with some books written under pseudonyms by authors I love! The first two Crooked Rock Urban Indian Center romances by Pamela Sanderson (aka Pam Rentz)– the third one just came out in ebook and paperback’s coming soon. And Rain Mitchell’s, aka Stephen McCauley’s, Tales From the Yoga Studio.

silver idyll

On our anniversary last Monday, I worked in the daytime and Sang taught in the evening. It was Thursday that we finally got around to walking down the street to the Delta Cafe to celebrate.

I love the Delta’s cocktail menu. This time the lavender-and-vanilla Pink Lady called to me. I ordered it without considering whether it went well with deep-fried catfish bites and okra. It did not. I didn’t care.

The music was 100% Aretha Franklin.

We had a tipsy, romantic walk back to the house. The air was clearing out after several days of wildfire smoke. At home a new episode of Elementary was waiting for us.

Reading Wednesday: Seesaw Girl

illustration by Kelly Murphy of a girl on a Korean seesaw and standing behind a wall

Illustration by Kelly Murphy

Recently read: Linda Sue Park’s first novel, Seesaw Girl (1999), about a girl named Jade in a wealthy family in 17th-century Seoul. The book does such a beautiful job balancing Jade’s very constrained societal role (girls don’t read or write, they never go outside the walls of the family compound until they marry and move to their husband’s home, and then never come back except maybe for a parent’s funeral. And even wealthy women spend a lot of time on laundry) and giving her enough autonomy to make her story at least somewhat satisfying to a contemporary reader accustomed to spunky girl protagonists. She didn’t bust out but she didn’t buckle under either. Delicate work!

The seesaw comes on the scene quite late in the book, and was my introduction to Korean-style seesaws. I think I read in an interview somewhere that Linda Sue Park had one in the backyard for her own kids!

Fan Service

battered old-style metal fan with Portland State College ID tag

Not sure why this fan showed up in my office this morning, but PSU hasn’t been Portland State College since 1969.

Monday Magpie: kidlit edition

Mary Anne, Dawn, Kristy, Stacy, and Claudia in front of a wooden fence, with text "Stoneybrook Revisited: A Baby-Sitters Club Fan Film"

A Baby-Sitters Club web mini-series (six parts of about five minutes each– oh wait, the last one is a “Super Special” and is 10 minutes, hee!) set ten years after the books ended. My fondness for it is mostly sentimental, but the last 15 seconds did make me laugh out loud.

Book cover and movie poster for The Hate U Give

Interview with Debra Cartwright on her cover illustration for The Hate U Give and the colorism evident in the movie poster version.

Friday Five: Not Off the Wall

I didn’t have access to Friday Five prompts when I felt like answering them today, so I started my own set: What (if anything) have you had on your walls, as a kid and now? But then I wrote until I had five parts of an answer to this one question, so I’m doing it wrong, oh well!

  1. My mom likes French Impressionist painting, so my sister and I had Renoir prints on the wall of our room. Mine was Girl With a Hoop and my sister’s was A Girl With a Watering Can.
    Girl With a Hoop, oil painting by Renoir

    me

    Girl With a Watering Can, oil painting by Renoir

    my sister

    In my head, Girl With a Hoop’s name was Louisa and she wasn’t that nice– a bit stuck-up when we talked. I never spoke to Girl With a Watering Can.

  2. I chose light blue when I moved into my own bedroom (formerly my mom’s sewing room) and got to pick the color. Later I wished I’d picked a glossier cream color, to go with the dark brown furniture. But I was five, five-year-olds don’t think about cream as a color or know about semi-gloss paint.
  3. Kidspirational posters (Hang In There!) that teachers gave away at the end of the year, calendar pictures, maps from National Geographic (Space and The Crusades were my favorites), magazine collages. I think I chose the magazine portraits for size and look as much as subject, which is why Philip Glass’ face is weirdly prominent in my mental landscape. (There was also Cher and… Steve Jobs?!)
  4. When I first arrived in Portland, my college orientation group rode the bus downtown (look for the brown beaver icon to find your way back!) and went to a cheap-imports store to get stuff for our dorm rooms. I knew I wanted a poster, but what would I not regret or tire of? Thus I spent my college years looking at a big photo of vegetables in a basket.
  5. Now the art on our walls is mostly pieces by Sanguinity and me and our friends and family. Sang’s yarn sheepdog over the bed (soft in case an earthquake dumps it on our heads), my portrait of her and Louie the dog as Athena and owl, Sang’s college drawings of a downtown church, a painting by her grandmother, a signed Dr. Eldritch comic, 3D pieces by Bookherd and Nicole hanging inside the IKEA bookshelves. I feel very rich in art. The living room also has a world map (but you have to stand on the sofa arm to read it closely) and a laminated periodic table. I think if our house has a decor, it’s “Classroom,” down to the clock.

Friday Five: Condiments

Oh wait, they’re not all about condiments. Still,

What is your favorite condiment?

Are pickles a condiment? I like pickles. I like pickle relish. On a hot dog I like yellow mustard, ketchup, and pickle relish.

Sour cream is also a great condiment.

What is your favorite spice?

Perhaps cumin, it’s so versatile. Although life without cinnamon is hard to imagine. But “favorite” is different from “hard to imagine life without it.”

I like the incursions smoked paprika has been making.

If herbs count, I’m excited about dill lately and have a dill plant out back in a flowerpot. I don’t know if it will get enough sun though.

What is your favorite cooking oil? (Canola oil, sesame oil, butter, etc)

I like butter. I also appreciate dishes with bacon where the bacon fat is used to cook other stuff in the dish.

What is your favorite starchy food? (Bread, rice, potatoes, noodles, etc)

Noodles! And crackers if those count. Noodles and crackers will get me through a lot.

What is your favorite flavor for candy?

Chocolate and mint together, maybe? I’m thinking Junior Mints. I also like licorice (including salted), pseudo-licorice like Red Vines, and candies involving peanut butter.

Friend

Cool new sculpture outside the art building on the college campus. Have not found info on title or artist.

sculpture of monster reaching through a metal square frame

Next is iced coffee and strawberries on the porch. This is the sweet season in Portland.