Monday, March 3, 2014

Currently...life's crowded

This really is such a gorgeous area, particularly in winter!  However, I'm working 2 jobs currently, and the Soldier Hollow Charter School is about an hour away.  Monday through Friday, I leave my home by 6 am at the latest (need prep time in the morning), 
and then race home to tutor Japanese on line for 2 hours.  Weekends are for volunteering a couple hours early morning at the temple, grocery shopping, grading papers, laundry, Church (where I teach four ADORABLE 3 year olds) and playing a bit with Ginger 
(as well as cleaning a very dirty bunny cage).  Life is very, very full!
And it can be so much fun!  We had Cultural Olympics last week, and I took South Korea to talk about, sample food, etc. for a month.  My team was awesome and we did a clip from Gangnam Style for our chant on Friday--we got 1st place for that chant. :-)
The middle school tubing party, a few weeks earlier was an absolute blast too, 
especially since Jordan and Karli were able to join us!  The students ski weekly (last ski date is today), but, I do not ski.  Instead, I made a point of making sure this tubing party 
actually happened, so I'd be able to play with my 60 students in the snow.
What an amazing day it was--sun shining and crazy fast speeds going down those slopes!
The month before that, our classrooms were full of science fair projects.  I was in absolute awe of how involved and intricately executed almost all of these kids' projects were!  
I've never seen anything like it!  They are blessed with a super enthused science teacher, who had them mummifying chickens a couple weeks later--quite an aromatic affair, 
but the students will never forget it! 
Ok, now I have less than an hour to get out of here, (I love the sunrise in Midway!) so gotta go.  
This morning in Language Arts, the students all have book reports due, new quiz terms to study, a Utah writing test to prepare for, I need to print out the pages and return all the work graded over the weekend.  For fun and to help them toward writing a persuasive essay, 
we're continuing 6th grade debates today on who John Holdbrook, 
of The Witch of Blackbird Pond, will end up marrying: Mercy, Judith or Kit.  
Spoke with a client from Maryland last night on creating wall prints from my work and I'm face painting for a children's party this month, but for now, teaching takes precedence over all, until I get the hang of it.  I should be headed East this summer to paint and will focus on the books (there was a printing problem to resolve with Amazon) when school's out, or during Spring break.
Tata for now, with love, from Ginger and Joanna!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Bunny Time

So, when you're over 50, and in the midst of immense change, thoughts seem to come out in blurbs, often disconnected.  One very important element of Twinkle and Luna is the CD.  The music to the story remains in my head for now, except when I sing for friends and in the car, or on walks...(too cold for those walks lately, I'm afraid!)  After I get the book perfected, I can focus on recording and publishing the CD that goes with it.  So, stay tuned. Thank you, Erin, for this darling photo of your daughter enjoying my first attempt! 
Recently, a dear friend and I were talking about what we’ve learned from our dogs.  However, then she asked if I’m learning anything from Ginger, my bunny.  Ginger was abandoned, and has a healed over cut or rip in one of his ears (I think it’s a boy).  So, the first thing I’m learning is how to couple firmness and with a very, very gentle touch.  His insatiable curiosity is adorable to watch, as he scopes out every room and item in any given room, sniffing as far up onto walls as he can reach and behind every nook and cranny.  But then, he wants to teeth on everything, including carpet, power cords, furniture, tape on an antique tea box, wood railings, and more.   This is an ongoing battle, and there are more “NO’s” than “Yes’s” involved in chewing options. 

But, we’re making progress.  I no longer worry about the floor’s carpet—most of the time.  He found a place to pee on it recently, which resulted in more cage time.  But,…one day at a time.  Here’s our routine: first, when I let Ginger out of his cage, I snuggle and kiss him and coo sweet nothings in his long, fluffy ears.  If I carry him somewhere, I put him down by letting go at floor level, so he’ll lose his fear of being carried.  Possibly he’s been dropped?  He’s learning to navigate the stairs and can go up to do his biz in the tub!  I call him “good bunny” when he chews on allowed surfaces and/or hops away from what’s taboo.  He loves being petted, and I love petting him—soooo soft!  When Ginger starts chewing on anything forbidden, a very stern “NO” catches those ears of his, usually.  But, when he ignores that, I clap, which works, usually.  The moment he stops chewing, perks up and listens, I reward him with a warm, encouraging “good bunny,” more pets, and alternate chewing options, like cardboard, celery, or lettuce.
Who knew rabbits can be as affectionate as dogs or cats?!  He often follows me around; and when I sit down on the floor, sometimes he stays close and licks my knee.  Typing on my laptop on the floor, he hopped over and under my hands, checking out what I’m doing.  The most important thing I’m learning from Ginger is the importance of “bunny time,” for both of us.  That means quiet, unhurried, just watch each other and connect time.  I don’t make allowances for that sort of time usually, and it’s nice—really nice.


Just before Christmas, the week before, in fact, I put both of my homes up for rent, because I resolved that there’s no way I can keep paying 2 mortgages—especially since I’m still seriously underemployed.  Toward that end, I put Ginger’s cage downstairs in the laundry room, instead of next to my room, in the little hallway upstairs.  Ginger didn’t care for the change.  I think he felt as displaced as I was feeling.

He’s grown very accustomed to his 3rd floor world of bedroom, bathroom, tiny hall and cage.  He settles behind the toilet on the tiles like a little cave, poops and pees in the bathtub or cage (MOST of the time) 
and hops around my room, testing out what he may and may not chew, and hovers close to be petted by me.   With his cage in the laundry room on the lowest level, he had to be carried up all the stairs (heart-stopping terror for him, every step of the way) to return to the world he knows. Here’s the thing—showing my home, with all its quirks and issues, to disapproving strangers, was horrific for me.  I like my own “bunny time,” with all that’s calm, peaceful and familiar, as much as Ginger does.


So, when Jordan and Karli spent Christmas eve here, sleeping in the basement area, Jordan moved Ginger back upstairs to his usual spot next to my bedroom. The newlyweds were happy with their privacy and Ginger’s so content in his spot.  Christmas morning, after I took him down to meet and greet, he hopped back upstairs to hang out while we opened gifts.  It was wonderful, warm family time for all of us. 

Right now Ginger’s laying behind my bed, napping.  He’s followed me around since I settled into doing stuff up here today, and let me pet him for longer than ever. 
 Yesterday, I met some delightful people who want to rent my Town home in Logan. 
I couldn't be happier, because, no matter how much I like that place up there, this place in Midvale is Home.  Ginger’s attachment to his part of the house helped me recognize my own attachments.  Having the ability to have Jordan and Karli spend Christmas here, as well driving down to see the rest of the family on the same day, and then a sleep over tonight before the couple flies off to Seattle early tomorrow morning, adds to the value of living so close to the SLC airport.  Residence in Logan would put me so far out of the loop.  
Further, the idea of trying to fix everything that’s amiss in my old house, in order to make it acceptable to people who don’t care, is not only exhausting, it’s degrading and mortifying.  I really don’t mind most of the issues this place has. It's charming and I can tackle whatever tasks need to be done, one at a time, and live my life, which needs to include “bunny time.”  

Let's enjoy the soft, peaceful moments of just being with those we love this year.  They are worth more than any Walter Mitty adventure.  We saw that movie together on Christmas day, btw--it's fabulous!  But, I don't envy him.  When the weather outside is frightful, being inside with family, including a pet bunny, is soooo delightful!



Saturday, December 21, 2013

Back to the Drawing Board

Or rather, back to the printer/publisher we go...

Jordan and Karli came over today with 4 copies of Twinkle and Luna.  Naturally, I was both grateful and delighted!  The cover looks pretty close to what I'd expected; but the inside colors are dull and lifeless, very poor quality.  Poor Twinkle should drift away in a swirling sky of purple, white, lavender and blue.
Instead, it's a dismal combo of black, charcoal and greyish tones....Further, there's a thin white border along the top of each page, which absolutely should not be there. I nearly cried right there in front of them!  Since all 4 of these look like this, I'm afraid all of you who were trustful enough to order must have received equally disappointing versions of the book.  I'm mortified and embarrassed! 
But there's a silver lining to this.  I've contacted customer support and, while they don't accept returns, they have agreed to take care of the problems and send out replacements. If your book has a white border on the top of the interior pages, they absolutely should not be there!  The colors on the digital images are sooooo much brighter--like what you see here.  Happily, the customer service agent agreed; the physical copy should have the same clarity and brilliance.  

I understand why, if you've already ordered and received a copy, you might want to go give it away to a child for Christmas.  But FIRST, jot down some numbers, if your book has the same issues (and I'd be happy to know if they don't!).  If you can find a moment sometime this week, please call/email Amazon or CreateSpace (wherever you placed your order), with the name of the book, Twinkle and Luna by J. E. Sakura; as well as your order # and product ID # (that's just inside the back cover on white paper, under a barcode) to receive a free replacement book.  Tomorrow I'll send photos of the problems as well (when the light is better).  If they can't produce higher quality images, I won't be using Amazon anymore.  

Again, I thank you for your support, and I believe it'll be worth it!!   However, well, you know how it is...to have produced and reviewed one thing and then receive something of very inferior quality is quite a blow.  I shouldn't have trusted the digital preview, but I so wanted to get the book out in time for Christmas.  You know the old saying, "if you want something badly, that's usually how you'll get it."

Like snow...look at the view now, same location as I posted in Autumn, while driving up to Logan!
But seriously, if you like snow, 
the Salt Lake area is the place to be, having more snow than Logan or Prove this year!!
And it just keeps coming down!
Also, I've happily delved into a couple of other creative projects, including this table:
It was an old and scratched, but solid wood table Karli and Jordan found at a thrift store to go with their other find--the sofa.  They asked me to, umm (I keep forgetting what the proper term is now), distress it with a type of "birch white" paint color.  So much fun!
Just let some of the old wood show through, sand off a little more, and it's got a whole new look!
Also, painting this basement wall in Lindon was super fun.
That solitary pole will have BYU's "Cougar Lane" attached to the top.  You can see 1/2 of it at the bottom.  The window and door were already there, leading into a play area for the younger kids.  Such a creative family of singers, dancers and musicians!  Despite forgetting to bring along a radio or anything to listen to, I was never bored.
Looking out over my fence, here's a scene from earlier this week.  There's even more of the white stuff now!  Snow or no snow, hope you have a wonderful holiday;
and again, forgive my clumsy first attempt at self-publishing.  I'll learn.
Happy, WHITE Christmas everyone!!!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Bunny and the Book

What a week--Karli's performances last week were fantastic!  I'm seriously in awe of her, 
and her talented classmates.  Their broad ranges of abilities are too much for me to
fully fathom.  I walked away inspired and more determined than ever to follow
their examples and my heart's dreams.
Jordan's been super busy, too, with 2 jobs, trying to squeeze in writing, 
and he's finally getting over a prolonged flu.  Huzzah!

Say hello to "Ginger!"  
Abandoned by some college kids, who left it in a box as a prank, 
Karli knew I was thinking about adopting a bunny.
She sent me a "no pressure, but some friends have a rabbit they can't keep" email.
The minute I saw him/her (still don't know which), I was smitten.  
She's soooo soft, smart and ginger colored (hence the name). 
She was a huge hit with the kids I babysat the other night!  
Zola was quick to fetch her own stuffed bunny, 
as proof of her love for bunnies in general.
Ginger is extremely curious, exploring every inch of any room she's in. 
Once she's sniffed all she can reach, however, 
her chewing tastes include carpet, wood railings, and computer/TV power cords. 
 Soooo, I'm crash learning how-to-train-your-rabbit. Unlike puppies and kittens, tho, she sulks in relative silence, only making noise when she chews on the bars of her cage.  
I give her lots of fresh veggies along w/her bunny food, 
to keep him/her healthy and make time in there more enjoyable. 
To let Ginger out, I open the door and she can exit when she chooses.  
I don't know why, but she's house trained!!  He/she hops into the bathtub, 
where I've laid a towel, and does her biz in there.  Easy to clean up that way.  
The other big thing of last week--  
Thanks to many hours of trial and error, along with oodles of help from BYU's library's staff,
 my first book, Twinkle and Luna, is finally up on Amazon for sale!!  
I've listed this link as the preferred purchase link as follows:

https://www.createspace.com/4550406

CreateSpace is part of Amazon, and particularly supports/promotes indy writers/illustrators like myself.
If you go to this link, and decide there's a young child you'd like to give the book and/or read to, 
you'll need to set up a user name for CreateSpace, first.  
The text is handwritten.  Its rhyme scheme and rhythm are based on alternating melodies, 
signifying the differences between the lonely moon (Luna) 
and all the tiny, chummy stars (the tune of Jane and Ann Taylor's poem,
 currently known as: Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star).  
Hope to have the CD recorded asap.
Lots to learn and accomplish this year, since I've "only just begun?"  
The process in both exciting and exasperating, so I want to send out a
HUGE THANK YOU to all of you for supporting and helping along the way!  
CAN you believe Christmas is in a week??? This is an old photo--there's actually a lot 
more snow outside this year.  Utah put on her holiday attire weeks ago, and has stayed dressed up.
Stay warm, take good care and enjoy!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Sugar, Spice and Cookies = Teenaged Girls In My House

Tonight, 4 of my favorite teenaged friends came over and helped make the first sugar cookies of the season.  I made the dough this morning and they helped roll, cut out and decorate!  
Courtney, a senior in HS this year, was quite proficient by the time she left.
 See?  She rolled this dough and the black nail polish is hers, 
as well as those perfect trees and tiny bears!
What lovely girls, and wow, can they make cookies!
They all pitched in and came up with some very creative decorative ideas!  
I've never had candy corn on these, have you?
Rachel thought of that; and they're delicious, all warm and melty out of the oven!
Or gummy bears...YUM!  The tiny bear cookie cutter prompted the mention of gummy bears, 
which I have, so out they came to be enjoyed in more ways than one!
And I've never seen sprinkles used as individual decorations like on this, Rachel's star.
They frosted some of the trees with my green, pumpkin frosting,  
adding traditional sprinkles to those, as well as the ever-popular gummy bears.
On the TV, I had 1954's White Christmas movie playing.  The girls admired the dresses, 
style, music, dancing and humor, including Danny Kaye and Bing Crosby's rendering of the song "Sisters."  I told them I could absolutely see 
some of my teen-aged Korean boy students doing something goofy like that; 
and we all agreed that we'd love for there to be more men in the world as silly as Bing and Danny!
Sammi, wearing Korean socks, 
danced with Rachel during one of Danny Kaye and Vera-Ellen's numbers.  
They want to learn ballroom dancing.  All the girls admire the clothes, 
talent and brains of Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen.
Having been raised with all boys, filling my home up with teenaged girls is a treat!  Thank you, Moms and Dads, who raised these lovely, talented, darling young women.   
Sorry these photos aren't as cute as the girls are.


Saturday, December 7, 2013

Snow, Baking and Amazon

Monday I go back to working (and begging for help at BYU's HBLL) on getting my files correctly formatted to upload a children's book onto Amazon. Want to share a bit of what I've learned: when they say you need 1/8th of an inch for a bleed page, they really mean 3/8ths; so, I'm going to make the borders 1/2 inch this time. In other words, if you want the book size to be 8" X 10", 
send them an 8.5" X 10.5" page. Ahhhhhh....!!! I spent the bulk of last week on this and bothered 
more than my fair share of HBLL employees.
Have finally completely gone back through all of my illustrations, along with the text, 
(all hand-lettered on overhead projector sheets with sharpies) 
to make sure there's enough of a "bleed" margin on each page, 
as well as what Amazon refers to as "a safe margin for error"--their error.  
Luna's introductory page is very problematic, because I only left what I thought 
was the necessary 1/8th inch at the top.  I don't know why.  Now I know better, have redone that lettering, and will be more careful with future projects--there WILL be future publications, 
but first there's this one.

Meanwhile, tomorrow I have a date with some darling teenaged girls 
and an old friend, their mom, to make sugar cookies!  
Earlier, I purchased and set all the ingredients out on the counter.  
What exactly IS cream of tartar, anyway?  
I mean, there's tartar sauce--is it derived from the same basic ingredient?  
Is it bad for your teeth?
Hmmm, I "Googled" it, and learned a bit about how they differ.  
Someone actually asked if you could substitute tartar sauce for cream of tartar 
in making cookies.  Funny people are everywhere.
There are definitely somethings I really love about the internet.  
It's come a long way since I first tried using computers to find anything.
And it's been snowing outside again all day.  I love it when I'm inside looking out.  Stupidly, I wore heals to the temple this morning.  It wasn't snowing, much, when I went in...Happily, being fully aware of the precarious nature of my footwear, I managed not to slip and fall, and have enjoyed the gorgeous, early wintery weather, listening to Christmas carols on CDs in the car 
and gathering ingredients for sugar cookies.  
Tis the season for frosty white windowpanes and frosted sugar cookies. 
They'll be on the next blog, along with, I hope, the news of Twinkle and Luna on Amazon!
Have to advertise for Karli, she's the gorgeous brunette in red!
She, along with all these other wonderful actors, are doing a series of audition pieces as part of their senior year performance requirements.
you might want to pop by on
Wednesday, December 11, 2013  at BYU's HFAC, from 7-9 pm, if you're around.
Also there's this:
It's December 10th and 12th at 8:00 PM in the HFAC on BYU campus and, 
as you can see above, it's FREE!  What a wonderful time to be alive and in Utah!