Friday, July 17, 2015

July!

Just a few days after they got back from Cabo San Lucas, Mexico,
Jordan and Karli 
entertained me for the first week of July, in their new home near LA!  Visiting Los Angeles,  actually Toluca Lake, in particular, was lovely.
I haven’t been to LA in a very, VERY long time, and I’ve never really seen it.  So, here’s what I noticed, starting with this view from the airplane.
Looking out of the window,
a never ending sea of homes, apartments 
and commercial buildings,very close together,
covers the desert, with countless roads and 
highways weaving through them all.
From the airport, I gazed out at sights foreign to me, like a little kid, as we drove to the Los Angeles temple in rush hour traffic.
That temple is far, far more magnificent than I was able to capture in a photo, both inside and out.
Grocery shopping and errands followed, allowing me to 
glimpse into their every-day lives.  
If you're a mom, you get why this is cool!
Once at their place and settled a bit, I wandered around the block and fell head over heals in love with 
St. Charles Borromeo Church and school, directly behind
their apartment.  The bell ringing on Sundays is heavenly! I posted more about this place on Facebook.
Griffith Park with friends is where we spent the 4th. In that group, I was the age of everyone’s mother, and just watched them hit a volleyball around after the picnic lunch/dinner.  
Not that what they played was any kind of serious, 
but I’ve NEVER been even remotely good at sports, so working on a blog and taking photos suited me just fine! 
Then Sunday dawned, 
with Karli and Jordan playing personal chefs
for my birthday on Sunday, the 5th of July.  Karli's sumptuous bacon, pineapple and cheese covered hamburgers, bacon wrapped bundles of string beans with a sauce that made them the best I’ve EVER had, pretty much ruining 
other hamburger joints for me! 
Jordan made Belgian waffles...have you tried them?  
I’ve never eaten the like—YUM! Sorry the photo's blurry, but well, there was singing and this cool waffle all lit up with candles....
Leaving is always hard—I hate this long-distance thing.  But now we’re back to our lives, and
I’m still playing catch up, having worked 2-3 jobs at a time
ever since returning from Korea. And, of course, there was college before teaching in Korea and a move to Logan,
Doctor’s visits, never-ending piles of paperwork, etc. 
It can drain the fun out of life.  Sleepy most of the time…
Yesterday, tho, something noteworthy happened. 
I’ve mentioned that the story of
Twinkle and Luna is a lullaby, yes?  
Well, what I haven’t really talked about
is that these melodies coming into my head are quite new—or rather, they’ve been absent for nearly 50 years.

As a child, I heard music and sang all the time.  It never occurred to me that it was any kind of gift. 
But sometime during the 1st grade a traumatizing series of events involving my parents, a nun who hated me and the principal nun--whom I worshiped—resulted in the music leaving.  For me, that day,
the music actually died inside.

So, the idea of taking this embryonic song to sing in acapella, and record it was terrifying.  It wasn’t until I remembered that terrifying experience as a child
that I began to understand
the level of fear that consumed me.

Enter Steve Phillips and his assistant, Curtis
of Full Fidelity Recording--the best recipe
for soothing nerves and tweaking imperfect
recording attempts into something worth keeping. 
They are so professional, talented, relaxed, and real!
I didn’t need or want anyone to hold my hand or utter platitudes of “you can do it” crap.  What they did, and always do, is far, far better.  They offer great equipment,
space to record, as many chances as you need/want
to get the song right and the ability to splice
together all the best portions of what you come up with.
Steve has a terrific ear for tone and quality, as does Curtis, 
and between the 3 of us, a decent version of the song surfaced.

Singing around children doesn’t make me nervous.  Singing for ME, in front of anyone I’m not really close to, hearing my voice in the headphones and noticing every vocal variance from perfection—can be overwhelming.  But they made it easy, and I can’t say enough good about them!  I can joke around and share stories with them, too, which helps take the edge off.  
Next time, I won’t be so nervous.

SO, now the 1st phase of the recording is done! 
The ACC vocal for Twinkle and Luna
is successfully recorded!  In a couple of weeks I’ll go back to add in a reading of the story and some humming, then burn copies to put into each book.  A downloadable audio file will follow at some point, too. I’ll be making larger character cutouts of Twinkle and her friends, as well as Luna and the Wind, bugging Jordan for a power-point, so the story can be ready to
market in schools, pre-schools, libraries and more.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Paperback of Twinkle and Luna

They say a picture is worth a thousand words--man, I hope so!  
At any rate, this adorable photo of a little one looking at the paperback edition of 
Twinkle and Luna makes me so happy.  According
to her mum, it's a favorite and she pulls it out 
frequently to have it read to her.
So, it's official: Createspace has the best 8.5" X 11" paperback version 
of Twinkle and Luna. The link to it is as follows:

https://www.createspace.com/4550406

Lulu has the eBook, which comes in handy for sitting in church or long car trips.
I'm always amazed at how mesmerized little ones are by 
anything they can pull up on an iPhone or iPad.
The eBook also provides the most vivid colors, 
and can by found here:

http://www.lulu.com/shop/http://www.lulu.com/shop/j-e-sakura/twinkle-and-luna/ebook/product-22202915.html

 Before I can get to the recording studio to make the music CD that goes
with Twinkle and Luna, Girls' Camp awaits.
Next week we'll pack up and spend 4 days at
Cinnamon Creek, which looks quite lovely!
Hoping to find a way to sleep, however, in tents
surrounded by giggling teens.  Fun fun.
The first week of July will take me to Los Angeles to spend the 4th of July and my birthday
with my favorite couple, Jordan and Karli.  
They've just returned from a glorious week in Cabo with friends,
and are back in LA, carving out a new life together.
  And what's new with you?  How is the beginning of summer playing out?
So much to do in these warm, slightly less hectic months.
Was there really ever a time when the word "boredom" had meaning?

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Twinkle and Luna are On Their Way to Print this Summer!

Under the pin name is J. E. Sakura, having lived in and loved both Japan and Korea, my dream has always been to publish and promote children's books in Asia as well as the USA.  
Twinkle and Luna will be the first in a series of children's books with DVDs 
(since the words are sung), 
coloring books, poetry, and much more.
These days, finding a publisher as a new author is nigh unto impossible.  
There ARE those who accomplish just that; 
but I have this idea: 
 having run my own company as Artwork by Joanna since 1976,
 
Why not continue that tradition and self-publish, 
retaining complete autonomy of content and ideals?  
Amazon's printing of my book was of unprofessionally poor quality,
which no amount of communication could resolve.
 So, I've stopped promoting it, and will pull it off of CreateSpace 
as soon as I have time to call them.

Instead, I'm giving Lulu Publishing a try.
 So far, they've been very professional 
but the bottom line will be what the final product looks like.  
I'm picky, so we'll see.  
There's no such thing as a half-rate Artwork by Joanna product,
so the books have to match a forty year standard.
As the past year and a half of working two jobs winds to a close, 
Twinkle, along with her friends, Sparkle, Shimmer, Glimmer, Glow
and most recently, Luna, look forward to 
adding you to their circle of friends!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Princess Party Face Painting

Anything would look good on this child!  What a fun day!!
Of course, not everyone wants to be a Princess...
We feel Pretty!
Love My Face....
Flower Power on My Arms,
...and a Tiara to match my Eyelashes!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Finishing Laundry Room Mural and Home Again

Once everything is sketched in, the next step, for this type of whimsical mural,
is to "white shadow" everything, filling in sky from the ceiling down, 
all around the main elements drawn in the day before.
It's time consuming, but facilitates the young, playful feeling we're after. 
I connected the painted clothes line between tree branches, instead of poles, and then glued on and white-washed the clothes pins for hanging whatever the family chooses!
Also, since the hallway molding is painted black, continuing that into the laundry room
not only creates continuity, it also completes and finishes the scene, 
lending something of a framed look.
All in all, this was a super fun project, and one I hope to repeat!  

Then it was time to leave.  After spending priceless time with family and friends, 
I drove away and paused to gaze back on Eden 
from Sideling Hill in Western Maryland.
Mile after mile of an undulating sea of green trees and pastures, 
it always takes my breath away.  It's ALWAYS difficult to leave.
However, having traveled this journey so often, and knowing a return trip will inevitably
follow, I focus on what's ahead.  
The "I" states (Indiana, Illinois, Iowa) are peacefully pretty; 
and green scenery tapers off gradually from state to state.  
The only places I can't imagine living are--
in large sections of Idaho, Nebraska and Wyoming.  I know, one person's hell
is another's heaven.  But geez!  In some sections,
not a single tree or hill can be seen from horizon to horizon.
Cheyenne, Wyoming assaults the senses with this:
Hurrying past it and closing my vents, I gaze ahead.  Industry is far from evil, BUT, 
seriously, can't something be done to mask this monstrosity?  
Utah and Houston, TX--that goes for you, too!!
Windmills look more picturesque in the "I" states, but they make a 
heck of a lot of sense in this area!  Trains are fun to watch from a distance, too, especially in 
and out of the formations of rock which replace greener mountains of the East.
Lincoln's statue has inspired me since I first saw it, over a decade ago.  
This time the sun was setting as I gazed on those powerful features,
seeming to breath life into the rock edifice.
 For awhile, all greenery seems to vanish before your eyes;
leaving one feeling stranded on a distant planet somewhere.  
It's rather mesmerizing, but not "homey."

By the time I reach Echo, Utah, however, those amazing rocks are 
highlighted with some shrubs and trees.
This time, I got out at a rest stop and took photos.
Continuing on I-80, forestation increases.  Park City has an incomparable rugged beauty which I've never successfully photographed as I see it.  There's no safe place to pull over, but, it's Gorgeous!  Wasatch Mountain peaks, as seen here from the 215, 
hold some of the most awe inspiring scenes in the USA.  
When snow-capped, they're positively magical.
It's been almost 10 years since I got my place here, 
and the neighborhood continues to greet me with both cozy 
and sublime beauty.
Today, a friend asked, "In your perfect world, where would you live?"
I had to answer, I honestly do not know.  In my perfect world,
travel would be less arduous and imposing.  
I'd probably choose a home in a place like Maryland,
where everything is lush, lovely and beautiful.
I lived at the bottom of this lane when I was a child...
Maryland holds one spell bound all the way to her border.
But, I could drive for an hour or so, and be here, too.
It seems plausible, don't you think?  
Just beyond the green of Maryland (or Seattle--even prettier!)
there are those amazing mountains. 
 More importantly, everyone I love would be just as easy to visit, 
in the home where they've lived for decades.