Wednesday, October 7, 2009

At the Revel

Red River Revel
I had no children, so have "adopted" my great-nieces and nephew as my Pretend Children. I do things for them: send them to safe, private schools, take them on outings that their direct family members would never think of or do if they did. Today we went to the Red River Revel, an annual arts and music festival held along the Red River. It's just a few blocks from our school, so we drove directly down for our short fling at festing!

One niece is eleven, an often mature eleven--she's already taller than I (has a daddy who is six four); the other is five and goes into lock-up mode every day about six o'clock. It's an amazing phenomenon to watch. She acts possessed in varying degrees, according to what happened during the day. Often she howls as if possessed. Today she meowed. Is she insane? Truly not. After about an hour she becomes normal again. You can't make her stop it--it just has to wear off. We know she is probably ADHD. But she's our girl and we love her.

The older one, Chelsea, really is torn about growing up. She is moody one day and can't be trusted to be nice; all dependable the next. Today was a good day. I'm a good influence--or try to be. She wanted to stay in the kids section and play, but I wanted her to see the art and crafts.

Food first
But first, we ate food--another aspect of the Revel that people love! Of course, everything costs too much because each group is trying to make a good profit for their group--our school has a booth, for example-- Anyway, Chelsea wanted Carolina to try a smoothie, so they split a strawberry-banana. I watched. We got a muffaletta pizza that Carolina wouldn't touch--remember, five? So Chels and I split it. Got curly fries for the little one. Those she gobbled.

But it was the art that got to Chelsea. We recognized the Hmong handiwork as soon as we reached the booth. Last year they wanted novelty toy items--a snake for Chelsea--I've forgotten what Carolina got or what we got their brother.

Hmong Art Again
This time Chelsea simply fell in love with these small but incredibly designed purses with an outside stitching of one of those mesmerizing Hmong mandalas. In fact, the mandala is a square of fabric made of tiny intricate pieces stitched together. Chelsea chose a turquoise design. There's a long strap that can be shortened. Five zippered sections!! One pocket for a cell phone and on the other side, two insert sections for pens or sunglasses. Then the inside deep pocket for personal items. It is a very thoughtfully designed purse just about the size of those around-the-neck passport holders that are so the rage. (I just realized--days later--that the mandala is really "an elephant's foot print." Yeah. Live and learn!)

This is my elephant's footprint which I bought last year and recently framed.

I am the librarian at my school and am using a travel theme with middle school students this year. I took a small carry-on bag filled with my travel supplies for an early class demonstration of what to take on a long trip to an exotic destination. Later I will show them how to plan an overseas trip (Paris, Rome, etc.). One item I showed was my passport, credit card, airline ticket, and other small item holder that is worn around the neck for safety and easy access.

The instant she saw the purse, Chelsea said, "Look, Aunt Judy. It's the size of your passport holder." And so it is, and so the one I bought will become my new and stylish passport holder. Perfect!! Of course, I bought Chelsea one, too. In fact, she talked me into getting one. We are going to Dallas in December for the regional Science Olympiad competition. (Chelsea competes in three categories, and I coach one of them: Ornithology.) She kept saying how perfect the purses were for that trip. Yes, I paid more than I could really afford, but I wanted her to see that investing in quality items from an artisan like the Hmong woman is well worth the extra expense. Yes, I'm admitting that $25 each is a bit pricey for my budget--school librarian and all.

I choose this purse design and color for something different. There are so many zippered areas: about six. See the little pouch to the right. That's a perfect fit for a cell phone.

For more information about the Hmong and Hmong artwork, please visit a representative website at

Dragons and cats and other magical creatures of the night...

One booth we really enjoyed was Randal Spangler's. His work is so reminiscent of magic and candles and books and cups of tea and masters of book domains. We were enthralled with his art.
 To view some of his artwork, go to
Here's one example 
This is the print I bought and framed:

I had to tilt my camera a bit to prevent glare. My not-so-great shots of artwork are taken from the angle that produces the least glare. The name of this lovely print is "The Well-Read Cat."

Duck callers
We found another booth where a man sold beautifully carved duck callers. Some were real works of art, with a caller incorporated into a setting that also featured a postal duck stamp. These were beautiful. Each duck was a distinctive breed. I told my nieces how my father could really make his duck caller come to life! This artist is an artist but not an artistic duck caller. All he could do was blast through his. My daddy could sput out those little rapid chuckling sounds ducks can make, as well as those blasts! I hear ducks often as a flock lives on the bayou behind my house and often they camp overnight on my section of yard along the water.

Debris Art (Found objects)
Another favorite artist that we also visited last year was Trish Ransom, one whose work comes from "debris"--in fact, that's what she calls her business. She uses found objects, discarded items, which she turns into shimmering, whimsical, fantastic works of art. An example: she made a fish out of old Orange Soda caps for scales, pieces of netted bronze metal for fins and glued against an old piece of wood. Another is of a shimmering rainbow trout made of those pop top pieces from soda and beer cans. What imaginations artists have, what hard work they put into their labor, and what magnificent results.

Her URL is

Here's an example of "debris" ("found objects"). I bought this last year.
Isn't this fish a delight!! Can you see that its scales are A&W bottle caps?

Chelsea was so glad we meandered through art and beauty. You know I am.

For more information about our annual festival, please visit


Anonymous said...

Hello! I found your blog via your Amazon profile. I saw that you enjoyed the Uglies series - so did I! I don't know if you've read it already, but The Hunger Games series is AMAZING. My favorite book for 2009 and I'm on book #75 for the year. Seriously check it out! You won't be sorry!

judy said...

Thanks, Ashley, for the promo for The Hunger Game series. I'm always looking for a new, addicting series for myself, my mother, and my middle school readers (appropriate?)

I thoroughly enjoyed the Uglies series and am glad you did, too. The author made me fly through the night on that board right along with those pre-perfect teens! You?

Number 75? You keep a list? How does that work for you?

Thank you for participating in my newly established blog. I'll check to see if you have one!

Anonymous said...

Hi Judy. I just finished Specials last night! It was my favorite of the three. Did you read the fourth, Extras? I'm thinking about it.

Have you ever read Battle Royale? The Hunger Games is alike that in a way, but so much better in my opinion. It's... just WOW. I finished it a few weeks ago and now my husband and I are listening to the audio book together. He hates to read, but the story sounded interesting to him.

I keep a reading list as a journal entry online. I like it because when a new book to a series comes out, I can easily go back to my journal and read my notes or the review to the previous one. It also makes it easier to keep track of what number I am on. I'm trying to get to 100 this year.


judy said...

Hi Ashley!
I love your idea of an online journal and the way you manage it. Do you mind if I use your idea? After all, I think that's one of the purposes of blogging--to learn from each other. Check out Sarah's blog--she's an innovator like you!

A favorite souvenir

A favorite souvenir
These are my two girls from Ireland!

Judy's shared items

Books on my very ambitious TBR list (*denotes read)

  • *Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever by Mem Fox
  • The Odd Women by George Gissing
  • The Zen of Fish by Trevor Corson
  • How to Get Your Child to Love Reading by Esme Raji Codell
  • The Cod Tale by Mark Kurlansky
  • In This House of Brede by Rumer Godden
  • *Joan of Arc by Mark Twain
  • Dag Hammarskjold by Elizabeth Rider Montgomery
  • The Wisdom in the Hebrew Alphabet by Rabbi Michael L. Munk
  • Children of Strangers by Lyle Saxon
  • Spiritual Writings by Flannery O'Connor
  • Nightmares and Visions: Flannery O'Connor and the Catholic Grotesque by Gilbert H. Muller
  • The Violent Bear It Away by Flannery O'Connor
  • Flannery O'Connor's South by Robert Coles
  • Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor
  • Sylvanus Now by Donna Morrissey
  • *Vincent de Paul by Margaret Ann Hubbard
  • Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi
  • A Briefer History of Time by Stephen Hawking
  • The Library at Night by Alberto Manguel
  • Readicide by Kelly Gallagher
  • *Ruined by Paula Morris
  • Say You're Not One of Them by Uwem Akpan
  • Wandering Star by J.M.G. Le Clezio
  • Silence by Shusaku Endo
  • *The Assault by Harry Mulisch
  • Kari's Saga by Robert Jansson
  • *The German Mujahid by Boualem Sansal
  • Western Skies by Joseph Conrad
  • *The Giver by Lois Lowery
  • *Imperium by Ryszard Kapuscinski

School Library Journal - NeverEndingSearch


A semester course in one book about the Soviet Union. Click on image for my review.