Monday, February 28, 2011
Sunday, February 27, 2011
Friday, February 25, 2011
Thursday, February 24, 2011
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Thank goodness I've learned to periodically look at my phone for missed calls, because yesterday around dinner time I noticed a missed text from my snowy SUE, Vermont Vixen, popular poet and First grade Fascinator!!!! Who knew that Ocala was in the vicinity of her dear parents winter get-a-way???
Carol and Bill provided the magic carpet ride and 83 minutes later I was jumping up & down in the driveway!!!!! No slumber party this time. We barely got to chatter for 113 minutes before pooooooooof they were gone. I saved the cork to remind me that the Magic Milk Crate is full of sparkle & shine, surprises & sweetness, sillykins & smiles.
Sunday, February 20, 2011
Sometimes the most amazing thing happens -- when you least expect it. Sometimes your breath is just sucked away from your body. Sometimes you are required to squeeze your lips together so as not to squeal, so as not to cry, so as just to stand there and absorb; freezing the moment forever in time. Sometimes life here on this planet is just too amazing to make up. This is a true Debbie Clement story, honest-to-goodnes it is! Or perhaps it is an episode of Kweezletown? You decide.
So there I am visiting with the Heart & Hope participants when around the corner comes a woman who takes one look at my display of quilts and her mouth literally falls open. As she moves closer she has visible tears in her eyes. She is pointing to the top of my display. She is pointing to my quilt of the fire house. She is pointing and her tears are visible.
As she gets close enough to speak, she is obviously emotional and is working to bring her thoughts together. She takes a deep breath and begins to tell her story. It turns out that her story turns out to be the story of her son. It turns out that her son Eric has been transfixed with fire stations since he was young. His love for firemen is so great that he has officially been "adopted" by their local fire station -- FIRE HOUSE TEN!!!! They live right there in Orlando and her son Eric has a plaque mounted in their local fire station, House 10, as an honorary fire fighter, as their volunteer, their friend, their something of a mascot, their something of a hero, a hero to the firefighters: Eric.
Her son Eric has a plaque in the Orlando House 10!!! My quilt is of House 10, in my mind it was a reference to the 10 House across the street from the Twin Towers and now I learn that Orlando has it's own House 10 -- a station near and dear to this mom's heart. A station near and dear to this mom's home. A station to be worthy of an illustration in a book!
She would like to purchase my House 10 fire fighter quilt. I explain that the quilt is not for sale, but the very same image is inside of my book, "Red, White and Blue". She can purchase a copy of the book and I would happily personalize it for her son, her Eric. We have a long heart-to-heart about why that will not work. It turns out that he likes to cut images up with scissors. So we do some further brainstorming and I promise that I'd be happy to send her a pdf of that particular illustration and she can print it and frame it...... give multiple copies to Eric for his own use. How's that? She ponders.
I turn around to get something to write with and in the blink of an eye she is gone and I'm in the midst of other conversations and other opportunities and other introductions.
Lunch is served. I begin looking at my watch and thinking about my workshop. I look up from my watch and there is mom and she has Eric in hand, wearing his Orlando Fire Department sweatshirt. Mom has gone home to pick up Eric and bring him back to the gym to meet me, to meet an illustrator and to see the quilt and to talk about Fire House 10 and to talk about pumper trucks and to talk about fire hoses and to talk about Dalmatians and to talk about fire extinguishers and to talk about fireman flashlights and to talk. Eric is most delighted with pumper trucks. We talk a long while about pumper trucks. I learn a lot about pumper trucks. I learn a lot about the House 10 pumper trucks in particular.
After our long and animated discussion Eric promises that he would like to keep my book with his precious things and that he will keep it safe. So I get to personalize a copy for him and we take pictures and we practice hugging and we talk about using scissors on magazines. We practice hugging some more. In between the hugs Eric's mom prompts him to swallow. All I can imagine is a firehouse full of heroes who recognize in Eric what a brave young man looks like in earnest, IRL, in real-genuine-actual life.
As I sit here tonight looking at the pictures I have to keep my head from spinning on it's axis. How many serendipitous stars aligned for this 'Eric-encounter'? As I sit here tonight I realize what a fortunate person I am. As I sit here tonight I am so grateful on so many levels.
Thank you Eric for sharing your great joy with me. Thank you Eric's mommy for sharing Eric with me -- and with a wider world. I am so proud of you. I am so very proud. You are a hero in my eyes, too...... you and mommy, too. You & all the other mommies & daddies that face parenting a child with differences. You are my heros.
Heroes. All around us. Listen to their story. Offer a listening ear. Offer a helping hand. Heroes.
Saturday, February 19, 2011
My migration to sunny winters in Florida is underway in earnest. These are the first pictures from the fifth annual "Heart and Hope" conference for children with disabilities, their families and teachers -- as conducted by the Family Network on Disabilities. Here we are in the booth space getting acquainted before my workshop. I've spent most of my time working with very young children so it's a delight to speak with 'grown-up' kiddos who are interested in my books and the quilts that become the illustrations that are their backbone. FUN DAY!!
That first picture includes Dr. Angela Martin Walker, changed from her Captain Walker pirate gear and into travelin' clothes. She was the morning's keynote and was shiverin' timbers all morning long with "Readers of the Caribbean." She had dozens of the kids up on stage sharing the spotlight with her. No swash-buckler there, she's the real deal when it comes to reading & motivation. I can envision the two of us working together on a creative project in the future.
Friday, February 18, 2011
Number three? Quilt club!!!!!!!
A couple of weeks ago a half dozen of us gathered up in the craft room under the superlative direction of Sue Farr. Her patience and diligence have taught me soooooooo much!!! This pattern is not for the faint-of-heart. It says it's a two hour project. This is the very definition of LOL!!! Let me just say that it's taken me 12 hours so far and I'm VERY near to the finish line. I just have some more decorative top-stitiching to complete and I can pat myself on the back. I had never made custom piping before (definitely a couple of steps above my junior high Home Ec pay-grade) and Sue has a method of attatching a magnatized closure snap that I can guarentee ya will be there until the turn of the next century!!!!
Earlier this week I found this PERFECT do-dah decoration at a thrift shop on an outing with my local scout, Edwina. I still must figure out how to affix this 'perfect' black & white polka dot earring on the top flap closure. We had a brain trust -- brain storm and I think I know how to proceed. Anyhow, all of what remains is purely cosmetic enhancement with the doo dah's extra smile giving me the extra mile. Tomorrow, on a new set of energy, I will complete the two hour purse in the needed 12.75 hours.
Those interior pockets are too amazing for words. One each for my cell phone, my wallet and my camera -- with a bonus extra pocket for good measure. OOOOOOOOoooooooooh, I can put my business card, polka dot card case in there!!! Mission accomplished!!!!!!
Monday, February 14, 2011
"It always seems impossible, until it is done." -- Nelson Mandella
Circle the day on the calendar. This is an exciting one for the books. A new project comes to fruition!!!! Oh happy, happy day. My spotlight is increasing in size and brightness. My invitations are getting even more & more exciting as I'm being considered for greater & greater responsibilities: for school & library districts, for Head Start Agencies & Special Ed cooperatives, and for exciting conferences -- including more & more KEYNOTE presentations!!! YIPPEEE!!!
Several people have asked me for a video of my "work" to introduce me to their committee as they progress toward decision making for their future event. That concept alone is exciting. Working toward a deadline is always exciting. Making the deadline? Priceless!
As of today, an entire 24 hours ahead of the deadline, my brand new video introduction is complete! It's a combination of my children's DVD Kweezletown, spliced together with my earlier SDE video audition, mixed together with the recent Utah Head Start children serenading me, spliced further with the Childhood League Center toddlers dancing with Goldie & me, pieced in with some footage shot in Vegas at SDE's I Teach K in the Zaner-Bloser booth last summer, combined with video shot on Long Island during my recent author/illustrator visit captured in the midst of their kindergarten concert , further mixed with dancing Detroit baby feet, and concluding with unbefore/unseen vintage footage from my SDE K conference preview at Easton in Columbus: what a hoot! Sprinkled through out there are dozens and dozens of photographs thru the years: NAEYC, a spring time MI preschool visit, the Redleaf Press booth, a Columbus School for Girls group hug, various Keynote presentations in Kansas City, at Auburn University, SDE in Richmond VA, a variety of Chicago-land libraries, and then there are plenty of Artist-in-the-School photos from GCAC, one in Hosanna Lutheran Preschool Pataskala (that's WonderBoy), others at Children's Hospital Childcare, the JCC Bexley, various library visits with dear librarian friends, the celebration in the Highlights for Children NAEYC booth, my mentor Mimi and dear friends Mary Jo Huff, Dr. Thomas Moore and Deborah Jo Stewart representing the whole catalogue of my fellow road warrior & presenter friends. Those are a few of the locations & people that I can recall off the top of my head..... from hither and yonder & all quilted together into one glorious retrospective.
You know what's even more amazing? The literally hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of photos that got left laying on the editing floor. We felt compelled to keep it under the nine minute mark. Trust me, it was tough to edit out all of that love and joy across the years & across the miles.
So what we have now are eight and a half minutes devised and developed by my brilliant and talented friend, Shawn Likely, producer of my nationally award winning Kweezletown DVD. I have beaucoup long-term supporters who genuinely believe in me and what I'm doing. Shawn is at the tip-top of the list for putting his own capabilities to work on my behalf. For his efforts, energy and insight, I will always be grateful.
I realize that I don't have a photo of the two of us??? How is that possible? The Kweezletown premiere was pre-blog but surely there were a couple of pictures taken that day of the two of us?? Where would those be? In any case, I have a HUGE respect and appreciation for Shawn and his commitment to children and his support for my work. This piece really does show the many aspects of what I LOVE to do, all because of his capability!!!!
The project is done. It's uploaded to YouTube. Now to share it with a wider world. I ask that each of you forward it on to someone in your life for whom it is appropriate. A fellow teacher, a cousin librarian, a fellow quilting grandma, your neighbor the Head Start administrator, or better yet your college friend on the committee to choose next year's Keynote presenter! Thanks in advance for helping me to shine my light a little brighter. (I just saw that this little blog is now up to 550 followers, as of today!!) Wouldn't it be awesome to make a quantem leap forward as a result of this 'introduction video'?
Saturday, February 5, 2011
beachie photos in 'real-time' rather than Debbie's running-behind-in-blog-world-time. Here we are back at the Zaner-Bloser booth in Baton Rouge. We're posing photographs with eager teachers and the author/illustrator. Then the teachers get the photo developed in the real world and laminate it inside the front cover of the book. That way every time they read my book to their students they can show the photo...... "here I am, it's me, Miss Zippa-dee-doo-dah and here's the lady who created the book, that's Debbie Clement, she's the author AND she's the illustrator, too!! Real people make books. People who you can meet -- people you can hug. You, too can make a book.... taking one of your ideas and writing it down is the beginning of a book."
This is such a brilliant idea to turn authors into 'real' people, especially for young children. It's an idea that was originally shared with me by a grandma children's librarian. Her grandchildren have an entire collection of picture books with photos inside the front cover, featuring their very own grandma with a host of authors and illustrators.
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
Barely back from Louisiana......
Suitcases still awaiting being sorted.
The weather forcast calls for blue skies.
The sand is calling.
We interupt this blog with beach-side images.
Will return to Louisiana reflections shortly.
In the meantime,
splash & enjoy!!!!!!