: views from the Hill

Saturday, August 19, 2006


His nibs asked me to clear the space next to the window so he could open the window and brush off the debris that Joe had accidentally let fall on the overhang.

So, I'm sorting through old papers and straightening piles. Photographs. My passport photo, age 4. Me riding a pony, age 3. The Towse family, sans #5 and before #6, at Manhattan Beach, New Year's Day, 1957.

I found a torn piece of paper with cryptic notes from a conference some time ago, which one, I don't remember -- perhaps a NASW session on writing science for children. Maybe.

13307 $33
The Little Giant Book of
   Sterling Publishing, NY

Maryjo Koch science illustration
work similar to Ruth Heller's

Jared Diamond COLLAPSE

"Sometimes" Sheenagh Pugh

Turns out Sterling Publishing (associated with Barnes and Noble) has a whole series of THE LITTLE GIANT BOOK OF ... Maybe I'd been thinking of sending them a proposal.

I always enjoyed the late Ruth Heller's work. She published her first children's book, CHICKENS AREN'T THE ONLY ONES, in 1981, when she was fifty-seven. A few years later, the young ones and I heard her talk at the Santa Clara City Library about the whys and wherefores of her books and her illustrations. She was living in San Francisco at the time and using the creatures at the zoo and the aquarium as models for her book illustrations. So often illustrations in children's books are not to my taste. Heller's always were.

Maryjo Koch lives in the hills above Santa Cruz. Not that far away. Her illustrations are similar to Heller's: detailed, delicate, engaging.

The note reading "Jared Diamond COLLAPSE" refers, of course, to the 2005 book by Diamond, who also wrote the Pulitzer Prize-winning GUNS, GERMS, AND STEEL. Haven't read it.

The final note -- "Sometimes" Sheenagh Pugh -- turns out to refer to a poem, a poem which Sheenagh Pugh "long ago got sick of."

Here 'tis:


Sometimes things don't go, after all,
from bad to worse. Some years, muscadel
faces down frost; green thrives; the crops don't fail.
Sometimes a man aims high, and all goes well.

A people sometimes will step back from war,
elect an honest man, decide they care
enough, that they can't leave some stranger poor.
Some men become what they were born for.

Sometimes our best intentions do not go
amiss; sometimes we do as we meant to.
The sun will sometimes melt a field of sorrow
that seemed hard frozen; may it happen for you.

-- Sheenagh Pugh

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