Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Orbit

I can't help it if Illustration Friday's topics remind me of David Bowie two weeks in a row.

Orbit (January 25, 2016)

I imagine he's orbiting the planets by now, doing sound checks to decide which one to conquer next. (The Mother Kitty's portrayal of Bowie here feeds the controversial theory that they are somehow distant relatives.)

Here's the classic song, if you want to sing along.

"Space Oddity© David Bowie, performed at the Novello Awards, 1969

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Spin

Because my iPod has been playing David Bowie nonstop lately, his 1979 song "D.J." popped into my head as soon as I saw this week's Illustration Friday topic.

(D.J. by David Bowie,  © 1979: https://vimeo.com/61213946

The Kitties are believers!

Spin (June 21, 2016)
(Illustration Friday: January 15, 2016)


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Tropical

When Gordon was younger, he'd sit in the planters on our back porch – camouflaged by the long stems of our latest flowers – to watch the birds. At the time, I imagined he wished he were in a more exotic land, and I was right. Here he is on a recent trip into the Amazon.

Tropical (January 18, 2016)
(Illustration Friday: January 8, 2016)

Friday, January 15, 2016

White House Diary

Hi everyone,

Of the more than 30 books that former President Jimmy Carter has written since leaving office, I started with his 537-page White House Diary, which he promoted on a book tour in 2010. I couldn't pass up the opportunity to meet him at a book signing because I was afraid of tackling such a long book about politics. White House Diary remained in my pile of books to read until Jimmy Carter's announcement that he had cancer motivated me to tackle it: I wanted to finish this book before he died. (I know, morose!)

While cleaning out the attic, Jimmy Carter discovered 5,000 pages of transcripts covering every day he served as the 39th president of the United States (1977-1981). His secretary was tasked with typing out his recorded thoughts as he kept a daily diary. Jimmy Carter was the first full-term president I ever experienced, but I don't remember him from that time. I only know him as a philanthropist: the guy who builds houses for Habitat for Humanity and saves lives in Africa by ridding the world of the Guinea worm. I've always liked that Jimmy Carter.

No matter your party affiliation, this book is a fascinating and informative read. It's well organized, starting with a chronological list of important events and milestones achieved while in office and a list of the senior officials with whom he worked. I barely recognized any of the names on the list, but I forged ahead anyway. The thing that makes this book less intimidating is its format. It's split up by year and by day, just like any journal, so the information is easily digestible in short chunks. It helps that Mr. Carter is a clear speaker and writer. He distilled the full 5,000 pages (which you can view at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum in Atlanta, Georgia) and provides his reflections on various topics and events. At times, he offers recent data or advances (and setbacks) made by subsequent administrations, giving the reader points of reference. If Jimmy Carter were my teacher, I'd probably have done better in history class.

White House Diary reveals the insanity and drama of being the president of the United States: spending your day in meetings about unrelated, complicated topics, receiving and reading massive briefings, and making quick decisions that at times determine the fate of the country or even the world. Jimmy Carter negotiated a peace treaty between Israel and Egypt that still stands today, and the Iran hostage crisis that dogged his reelection campaign still haunts him. I don't want this job, but Jimmy Carter was pretty good at it.

White House Diary includes everything, from all-nighters spent negotiating legislation to time off enjoyed with family. These entries reflect Jimmy Carter's kindness and sense of humor along with the tenacity, determination, and decisiveness needed for a leader. I was exciting to learn how integral his wife Rosalynn was to her husband's campaigns and overall office administration while accomplishing her own initiatives to improve health care for people with mental illness and the elderly. Even his mother Lillian got some things done by charming country leaders, diplomats, and other stakeholders around the world. The book ends with an afterword, where Mr. Carter reflects on his time as president with objectivity and humility that made me wish he got four more years.

By the time I finished White House Diary, I concluded that Jimmy Carter is an admirable overachiever. On any typical day during his administration, he might jog for miles at the crack of dawn, process paperwork, endure meetings, read an entire book, catch some fish, negotiate peace and renewable energy, sign acceptable legislation into law, or see a show at the Kennedy Center. These days, when he's not traveling the world or building houses and furniture, he teaches Sunday School in his hometown of Plains, Georgia. Before a recent class, he added another accomplishment to his list of many, announcing that he got rid of his cancer. I didn't expect anything less.

Best,

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Moon

I will do a David Bowie tribute one of these days, but I have to think about that one for a while....

In the meantime, here's a drawing for last week's Illustration Friday word. I got stuck thinking of all the moon songs I knew until The Mother Kitty and B.J. interrupted my concentration, twirling outside and singing in unison: "It's a marvelous night for a moondance." Listen to Van Morrison's version here, if you want to sing along.

Moon (January 11, 2016)
(Illustration Friday: January 1, 2016)

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Soar

This happens on breezy days.

Soar (January 4, 2016)
(Illustration Friday: December 18, 2015)

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Unicorn?

I don't know about unicorns, but The Mother Kitty swears she saw something similar once.

Unicorn? (January 2, 2016
(Illustration Friday: December 11, 2015)
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