Monday, September 17, 2018

In Which I Become a Librarian


Today would be my father's 72nd birthday. Anyone who knew my father knows he was an avid reader, reading on average a book a day -- for his whole life.

Papa, building his
library collection
Papa's dream was to retire to his hometown of Port St. Joe, FL, where he would build a library to house his thousands of books.

That never happened, but something else really awesome did.

And now, a dream, I, his daughter, has harbored has come true: I am now a librarian!

Yes, of all the professions, I've often thought the one I would have most enjoyed (if I wasn't an author) is being a librarian. So imagine my delight when we arrived in our new town and discovered 1) our (tiny) town has a just-for-the-Town library! And 2) they needed a librarian.

Can you hear the angels singing?

New book donations, ready to be shelved!
So I volunteered myself and have since gotten to work weeding and sorting donations and reorganizing and surveying residents to identify needs and setting up a donation/memorial program and all sorts of other fun stuff.

Not all of it is fun. So many choices must be made -- shelf space is limited, as we only have room to house about a thousand books.
wee book-loving me
But I love books! And libraries are important! And I want ours to not only fulfill my dream, but also my father's.

Joy! So Happy Birthday, Papa, from your loves-books-because-of-you, now-a-librarian daughter.

Friday, September 14, 2018

For the Love of Punctuation

Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Amazing Amy at The Poem Farm for Roundup.

Big thanks to all who have sent along octopus art and poems! Agnes and I are giddy, I tell you. Giddy! So much #octopuslove. And there's still room for me, so please, join the Octopus Month (October) celebration!
Here's the post with more information.

Today I'd like to talk about punctuation. That's because I've just read A BUNCH OF PUNCTUATION: Poems selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins, illus. by Serge Bloch (WordSong).

My relationship with punctuation in poetry goes something like this:

Who needs punctuation?

Okay, a LITTLE punctuation.

Ooh, I love that emdash!

In this new collection Lee brings us 14 poems by these fine poets/humans: Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Betsy Franco, Charles Ghigna, Joan Bransfield Graham, Michele Krueger, Julie Larios, J. Patrick Lewis, Prince Redcloud, Alice Schertle, Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, Allan Wolf, Jane Yolen -- and of course Lee himself.

Lee Bennett Hopkins
In fact, it's one of Lee's poems that I'd like to share today -- because I love it. It's about the comma, but it actually says as much about a period. I love when poems do that!

When I wrote to Lee to ask his permission to include the poem in this post, he offered some additional comma-y comments. Read on!

Comma
 by Lee Bennett Hopkins

A comma
lets you stop,

pause,

enjoy the weather,

unlike a period,
which puts an end

to any
cloudy,
rainy,
snowy,
or sunny day,
at once,
immediately,

forever.

----
"Commas are very important. Misusing them can cause a lot of trouble. For example:

"I love cooking children and dogs." is not the same as "I love cooking, children, and dogs."

All hail the comma -- not the coma."
  - Lee Bennett Hopkins
--------
You never know what Lee will come up with -- what lucky readers we are!

I myself have written about punctuation a number of times. The shortest -- and strangest -- appears in FRESH DELICIOUS, where there's a "Summer Squash as Punctuation" spread. The visual interpretation is a little different than a traditional poem:

Illustrations by Mique Moriuchi

Summer Squash as Punctuation

crookneck squash = question mark
button squash - period
zucchini squash = exclamation point
-----------
Have YOU written a punctuation poem? If so, leave your link in comments, because I'd love to read it!


Wednesday, September 12, 2018

AGNES, Getting Some Love from Kirkus (and What It's Like to Be Part of a Trend)


Agnes, ready to go out on the road!
First stop: MidSouth SCBWI
Nashville, TN
It's always a bit of a nail-biting time, waiting for reviews to come in on a new book.

Actually, there's quite a lot of nail-biting time in ye ol' book industry isn't there? Huh.

So it was with great relief and excitement that Kirkus had some lovely things to say about LOVE, AGNES: POSTCARDS FROM AN OCTOPUS. Here are a couple of my favorite bits:

"Though Latham's story is thoroughly fantastic, both author and illustrator have been respectful to this amazing creature, describing realistic behaviors and depicting her relatively accurately, right down to the rectangular pupils of her eyes and her senescent color change."


"Certainly the most engaging of the recent wave of octopus stories, for reading aloud or reading alone."

Read the entire review here. Truly, Thea Baker did an amazing job with the illustrations! 

As for that "recent wave of octopus stories," well, as it turns out, octopus books are a trend this fall

And that's not all: there's an octopus named Inky who's so popular that he's got THREE books to go along with his three hearts! (I think Inky and Agnes would be great friends... if octopuses were friends with each other. Ha!)
Inky's Amazing Escape
by Sy Montgomery,
illus. by Amy Schimler-Safford

Inky the Octopus
by Erin Guendelsberger,
illus. by David Leonard

Inky's Great Escape
by Casey Lyall,
illus. by Sebastia Serra
And how does Agnes feel about all these octopus books? Well, she may not be the smartest octopus in the sea, but she's sure there's plenty of room in the sea for all of them -- and more! After all, these books are never just about octopuses... all nonfiction tells something personal about the author, too. Just ask Melissa Stewart, who talks about this in an amazing blog post that also includes a great quote from another nonfiction/poetry luminary, Laura Purdie Salas.

Octopuses are quite amazing creatures, and Agnes is already plotting ways she might send postcards to some of these new friends...  I'll keep you posted! Meanwhile, happy reading!

Monday, September 10, 2018

Movie Monday: SEARCHING

We weren't planning to go to the movies this past weekend, but sometimes plans change, don't they? We chose SEARCHING, because it has received some nice reviews-- and wow, it did not disappoint.

It's a mystery in which a father tries to unravel his daughter's disappearance by using technology.

Fascinating, right, how social media and the internet can provide so many clues? And also the dark side... how social media turns fathers into #monsters and how crimes/deception can happen BECAUSE of the technology. Definitely a double-edged sword. Which is not news.

But what makes this movie great is two things: emotion and surprise. Also nice to see a Korean American family front-n-center.

I was in tears after the first few minutes of the movie, after a heartbreakingly beautifulmontage that reminded me a lot of the opening scenes of the movie UP.

If you haven't seen UP, please please see it!

Now back to SEARCHING. From a pure storytelling angle, this is one heckuva satisfying mystery/thriller. Really, really well done with nice twists and a satisfying, believable resolution. It's helping me with a current work-in-progress. I love when that happens!

Friday, September 7, 2018

Desperately Seeking Octopus Poems & Art #OctoNation

Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Carol at Beyond LiteracyLink for Roundup.

This week my mind is on octopuses. One octopus in particular: a giant Pacific octopus named Agnes... who writes (and receives) postcards. That's because Agnes' story will be released from Millbrook Press/Lerner October 1. Lovely illustrations by Thea Baker.

Illustration by Thea Baker
pre-order here
To celebrate, I'm christening October "Octopus Month," and I need your help! I would love to feature some octopus poems and art here on this blog throughout the month.

a cuddly octopus perched in my studio!
So... do you have an octopus poem or art piece? Or, would you like to write one? I do hope you'll say YES! You can send it to my email: irene (at) irenelatham (dot) com.

In fact, LOVE, AGNES started out as an octopus poem titled "Postcards from an Octopus." Greg Pincus posted it on his GottaBook blog back in April 2013. Since then I've written quite a few octopus poems -- for a time, LOVE, AGNES was a collection of poems! Here's the poem that began the collection... and when you read LOVE, AGNES, you'll still see these same themes, and even some of these very same words - just presented in a completely different way!


-->
Dear World,

I'm an octopus, okay?
An old octopus
nearing the end
of my days.

I live in the deep-dark
beneath the pier,
in a crevice,
in a cave.

But I am not a monster.
No need to be afraid.

Now that my eggs
have been laid
I must wait
                 and wait
                              and wait.

Time now
to use my eight arms
and write.

Just like you,
I have important things to say.

- Irene Latham

Thursday, September 6, 2018

My (Crooked) Path to Becoming a Picture Book Creator

Hello and Happy Spiritual Journey Thursday! Donna is rounding us up at Mainely Write, and we are focusing our posts today on "My Path."

love poem to Man O'War
Writing for me is a spiritual practice. It's when I'm writing and sharing about my writing that I feel most connect to others, the universe, a Higher Power. and when I started out -- way back when I was a child -- it was always always poems. I wrote love poems for my mother, love poems about horses, love poems love poems love poems!

Somewhere about the time I was 10 or 11, I started writing stories. Most of them were short. Even those that were intended to be long, were short -- because I got bogged down in the middle, or seduced by an exciting new idea! I only shared some of my work, and then only with a select few.

It wasn't until I was in my late twenties that I started thinking about publishing any of my work. I started with, of course, poetry. More love poems! For adults! I got published. And then, just like Younger Me, I moved to stories -- middle grade novels. I got published. I was a novelist! Picture books were not on my radar at all.

Until 2010 when I went to Children's Poetry retreat with Rebecca Kai Dotlich. I felt like I'd found my always-meant-to-be home! I immediately started writing poetry picture books. I got published. And then two things happened:

1. I wrote and submitted quite a few middle grade novels -- and no one wanted them. It was a low time.

2. One of my editors told me she wouldn't be able to acquire any more of my poetry collections, because the sales numbers of poetry in general were too low to get it through.

Sad times, I tell you! Sad times! So, what's a poet & novelist to do?

Try something new.

Oh, but it's so hard to let go, to listen to what the universe is telling you! So much easier (and satisfying, at least for the moment), to dig our heels in and refuse to budge. And taking a new path is scary. Who knows what dangers wait around the bend?

and yet... who knows what beauty?

I decided to venture forth on a new path. I took a current collection of poems and figured out a way to transform it to a narrative picture book. That book became LOVE, AGNES: POSTCARDS FROM AN OCTOPUS. It comes out Oct. 1, and is the first of several narrative picture books I'm so grateful have found publishing homes.

And: I haven't given up on poetry picture books -- I've just had to be more innovative. (I have several poetry collections in the publishing queue, too.)

As for middle grade novels? I still love them, and I do hope to publish one again someday.

"The Road" by Edgar Degas
(click here to read the poem
 I wrote inspired by this piece)
But right now I'm pretty happy in Picture Book Land. And it's keeping me very busy! At this point I've written and sold far more picture books than anything else.

Who knew? I never not once would have could have predicted it.

O, the crooked path, how I love thee!

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Because Writers are Readers First, and Life Doesn't Hold Still

 September may be the ninth month of the year, but because of our US tradition of starting school during this month, and the way September ushers in a new season, it seems a good time to talk about beginnings.

I mentioned earlier our fantastic time at Eudora Welty's home and museum when we were in Jackson, MS, for the Mississippi Book Festival. The book I wanted to purchase that night was ONE WRITER'S BEGINNINGS, Eudora's memoir, written in her 70s and which sold millions of copies. They were out of it in the gift shop, which is always a good sign! So I procured myself a copy later, and just the other day finally finished it.

I found something of a kindred spirit in Eudora -- I mean, we both have old-fashioned names, for one! She was nurtured by her parents in many of the same ways I was, and her feelings about books and words are so similar to mine. She lived a reading -- and a writing -- life! And while it may seem as if she had a sheltered live (living in the same home for 60 or so years), she actually traveled quite a lot -- and it impacted her writing greatly.

Here are some quotes from the book I'd like to share:


"It had been startling and disappointing to me to find out that story books had been written by people, that books were not natural wonders, coming up on themselves like grass. Yet regardless of where they came from, I cannot remember a time when I was not in love with them – with the books themselves, cover and binding and the paper they were printed on with their smell and their weight and their possession in my arms, captured and carried off to myself. Still illiterate, I was ready for them, committed to all the reading I could give them."

"Of all my strong emotions, anger is the one least responsible for any of my work. I don't write out of anger. For one thing, simply as a fiction writer, I am minus an adversary – except, of course, that of time – and for another thing, the act of writing in itself brings me happiness."

"But it was not until I began to write, as I seriously did only when I reached my twenties, that I found the world out there revealing, because (as with my father now) memory had become attached to seeing, love had added itself to discovery, and because I recognized in my own continuing longing to keep going, the need I carried inside myself to know – the apprehension, first and then the passion, to connect myself to it. Through travel I first became aware of the outside world; it was through travel that I found my own introspective way into becoming a part of it."

"This is, of course, simply saying that the outside world is the vital component of my inner life. My work, in the terms in which I see it, is as dearly matched to the world as its secret sharer. My imagination takes its strength and guides its direction from what I see and hear and learn and feel and remember of my living world. But I was to learn slowly that both these worlds, outer and inner, were different from what they seemed to me in the beginning."



"I learned in the doing how ready I had to be. Life doesn't hold still. A good snapshot stopped a moment from running away. Photography taught me that to be able to capture transience, by being ready to click the shutter at the crucial moment, was the greatest need I had. Making pictures of people in all sorts of situations, I learned that every feeling waits upon its gesture; and I had to be prepare to recognize this moment when I saw it. These were things a story writer needed to know."

"As you have seen, I am a writer who came of a sheltered life. A sheltered life can be a daring life as well. For all serious daring starts from within."


Friday, August 31, 2018

The Sweetness of Summer Poem Swap

Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit haiku master Robyn  at Life on the Deckle Edge for Roundup.

Also, in case you missed it: I posted a verb-y poetry challenge earlier this week!
Last week I loved seeing several Summer Poem Swap posts, and this week I'd like to share some of the sweetness I have received this year!

Huge thanks to Tabatha, The Poem Swap Queen, for giving of herself so generously and so often... the world is a better place with Tabatha in it, that's for sure! I'm so grateful. And oh what beauty arrived in my mailbox:

-- from Michelle, some horse-love! Gorgeous horse-y bookmark and notecard along with this poem:

Assateague Horses
     For Irene

Pipe dream or probability --
Assateague Island wild horses,
conjure up images of whimsy and wonder.

Their shapes first revealed themselves
in a "Boxcar" book filled with magical imagery,
drawing us mysteriously into their nature.

Mesmerized by their natural beauty,
they cast a spell over us as they move freely,
forever reminding us how precious freedom is.

Will you venture their way?
View their small Island of freedom,
as they roam, tenderly captured in a time warp.

Rekindle that long ago memory
of kindred kinship with wild horses --
Rally on Assateaugue horses -- run free forever!

- Michelle Kogan

I loved sharing with Michelle my not-so-long-ago visit to Assateague Island. :)
----
- from Karen, a celebration of summer reading or "Season of plenty" inspired by a page from the "A Year of Tiny Pleasures" calendar... I shared Karen's poem with someone else who was so inspired by it that they haven't returned it yet to me (so I don't have it on hand for this post), but happily I recorded in an email to Karen these words: "laugh, grow, think, love, weep, pause, breathe." YES! May books ever bring us such bounty!

We have recently named
our lake house
"Happy Rabbit Hideaway."
Yes, indeed, we "choose happy!"
- from Carol, and inspiring notebook filled with lake poems, images (including flip-flopped lake-loving me!) and lake thoughts... and an invitation to add my own! I've already started adding to it. :)

Here's just one of the poems:

Flip-flopping into morning light,
You gaze upon a tranquil sight.
Glossy ripples cross the lake,
Urging time to contemplate.
                   SO
While wavy patterns quietly flow,
enjoy summer's peaceful glow.

- Carol Varsalona
opening pages...
 

"A lake is the landscape's most beautiful and expressive feature. It is earth's eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature." - Henry David Thoreau



- from Molly, gorgeous notecards and a posey of poems (some of which were inspired by wildflower pics on my blog!) with such delights as "gossamer skirts," "dizziness of daisies," "button-brown eyes," "tendrils of moonlight"...

and this one:

Touch-me-nots

Seeds packed in plump cases
Springlaoded for far-flung flight
One touch... Explosion!


...and, summer's not over yet! Iphigene let me know that she put something in the mail to me, so I have that to look forward to!
Thanks, all!!
And now I shall leave you with a revision of a poem I wrote at the end of some other Poem Swap, for Tabatha. Thanks so much for reading. xo

Summer Poem Swap
- for Tabatha

Poems flip-flop

           dive

arrive
like yellow butterflies –

swoop, turn

           surprise!

- Irene Latham

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Free Verbs! Pick Five.

This past weekend at the Adult Strings Weekend, I joined a couple of other players for a chamber music session -- in the Kindermusik room.

Pretty perfect for a children's book author and poet, don't you think?

Not only were the walls full of all sorts of instruments, but there was this poster on the wall listing a symphony of verbs. Can't you just see an ensemble of little Kinders moving their bodies in these ways -- to music?!

And now for a challenge:

PICK FIVE! Write a poem that includes five of the verbs on the list.

Here's mine:
slash   slither   sweep   swoop    spin



Under a Sturgeon Moon*

starlight slashes lake

canoe slithers
into silver ripples

paddles sweep
                      swoop

wind spins a hymn


* in case you missed the Sturgeon Moon, it happened this past Sunday night. :)

Read Molly's 5 Verbs poem about Fall!

Monday, August 27, 2018

Movie Monday: ALPHA

There's not a movie I can think of this year that I was more anticipating than ALPHA.

I was spellbound by the trailer and have been counting down to its release. And I wasn't disappointed! It's a beautiful movie. Such gorgeous cinematography! I really felt like I was living in prehistoric Europe.

The story centers on a boy who earns his place on the big hunting trip. Only he's a reluctant participant -- perhaps because even though he's the chief's son, he's more of a tenderheart than a warrior.

Which is why we root for him so hard when the most awful thing that can possibly happen to him really does happen. What follows is a survival, coming of age story. And by the end, the movie has done what you want every great story to do: it moves beyond the very personal journey of a boy in a harsh environment -- the last scene shows how this boy's adventures just may have created a new world in which humans and wolves co-exist in the same pack.

I mean, what a great thing to imagine: the beginning of man's relationship with dogs? It's brilliant really. And even though the movie felt a little expected in the last half, I still really loved it. Its beauty rivals one of my all-time favorites, which is also a survival and friendship-between-human-and-beast story: THE BLACK STALLION.

I hope you'll go see ALPHA!

Friday, August 24, 2018

Cello Love

Hello and happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Margaret at Reflections on the Teche for Roundup.

This weekend I am attending the annual Adult Strings Weekend at University of Alabama where me and Lady Godiva (my cello) will join other amateurs in an intense weekend of learning and rehearsals and a Sunday open-to-the-public performance.

I attended this event last year, and I learned SO MUCH! I am very excited to participate again this year. You can read more about my cello life and see some of my cello compatriots at our Birmingham Cello Project blog.

One of my ongoing writing projects is a memoir that celebrates living life as a beginner and focuses on my adventures learning to play the cello as an adult. I've been so busy lately with my work for children that I haven't given it much attention. But today I was reminded of a poem I wrote for that project called "Cello Love." It's my pleasure to share it today with all of you! (I don't think you have to be a cellist to relate to this... probably anyone who has spent quality time with a musical instrument of any kind will relate.) Thanks so much for reading!


Cello Love

Is is the way she fits
against me, how we become
a moving puzzle,
a patchwork of motion
and sound?

Is it the way walls fade
as notes – even illicit ones –
raise rafters,
                    praise sky?

Is it the way the strings
forgive my fingers,
teaching me
to forgive myself?

Is it the way the melody
saddles skin  muscle    bone
to rattle its way
into the single cell
at the center of my heart?

Or is it the way the music isn't mine
and never will be –

yet when we sit together,
all knees and hollows,
long scratches
and unmentionable scars

we sing to each other,
                      you belong.

- Irene Latham


Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Getting to Know Miss Eudora

welcome to Eudora's
backyard garden!
 One of the great things (among so many!) about visiting Jackson for the Mississippi Book Festival was visiting Eudora Welty's home.

Eudora is Mississippi royalty. She's the one who donated her house to the state, and then lived in it (from age 16) until her death quite a few years later.

Eudora never married and never had any children, though I am told she did have a love interest. I must know more! I also really wanted a copy of her book ONE WRITER'S BEGINNINGS, but they were sold out in the gift shop. So.... I came home and ordered myself a copy.

I also loved the museum next door where we watched a film about Eudora, and enjoyed framed letters and such. Eudora's sense of humor really shines in this postcard sent to Charlotte Capers's dog Holly, after Holly gave birth to puppies:


KEEP SMILING, HOLLY!

Holly, you are just the berries.
You thought pet milk came from dairies.
Though eight puppies is no laugh,
what would be sad is 8 1/2.

Love,
E.W.
--------------
Eudora and I have that postcard habit in common. :) We also have being superreaders in common -- when she died, there were 5,000 books in the house -- and they were piled up in all the expected places as well as some unexpected places, too... like on top of the family Steinway piano. :)


portrait by Sara Tyson
Finally, here is a painting of Eudora that depicts her as the steel magnolia I do believe she was! Thanks especially to all those great docents for sharing stories about Eudora's love of Maker's Mark and disdain for newfangled things (like coffee makers). Oh, and have you ever hear of the "cut -n- pin" revision method? Eudora cut up her first draft and rearranged passages, much like a quilter rearranged fabric pieces when working a quilt top. Fascinating!

Monday, August 20, 2018

Movie Monday: CRAZY RICH ASIANS

Recently our electrician-son, who is in and out of people's houses on a regular basis, said he's been seeing the same book on nightstands and coffee tables and kitchen counters: CRAZY RICH ASIANS by Kevin Kwan. He thought for sure I'd read it, and he wanted to know what was so good about it.

Well. Not only had I not read it, I'd not even heard of it! So when I looked it up and found out it was quite a big thing, and with a movie adaptation coming very soon, well, I was like, I gotta get on that! I went to my library to put myself on the HOLD line, and found out I was number 166. (!)

Y'all probably all know this, but I didn't: the book came out in 2013. And yes, I know a movie adaptation can bring people back to a book. But. 166!! Anyhow, needless to say, I haven't yet read it, or the rest of the trilogy. But I will. Especially after seeing the delightful movie.

I loved this movie. It made me smile A LOT. And cry some. And I learned a lot about Chinese culture, and what it means to be Chinese-American, and how the crazy rich party like it's 1999! Beautiful scenes from Singapore -- there was a wedding scene so breathtakingly beautiful -- and how can you not root for Nick and Rachel? I love them and want them together forever and ever!

Here's the thing I love best about the movie: it's happy. Yes, there are struggles, but it has a happy ending. Hopeful romantic me really appreciates movies that dare to be happy! AND, I felt like I was whisked into another culture, another way of life. I saw another face of prejudice. My world widened.

And now I REALLY can't wait to read the book, so I went ahead and bought a copy. :)

Would love to hear others' thoughts about the books or the movie! xo

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Magical, Mystical MISSISSIPPI BOOK FESTIVAL, this Weekend!

Charles Waters and I are so very excited to be presenting this weekend at Mississippi Book Festival in Jackson!

It was my great fortune to present on a Picture Book panel back in 2016 for FRESH DELICIOUS. Yes it was August-muggy-HOT. But. What a grand, well organized festival!

And this year not only will Charles and I be part of the Picture This! panel, but we'll also be presenting to 1500 school kids on Friday. 1500 kids -- who will each receive a copy of CAN I TOUCH YOUR HAIR: Poems of Race, Mistakes and Friendship.

Isn't that amazing and generous and wonderful? And talk about an author's dream! We're delighted and honored. And excited to meet these young readers as well as a slew of other authors like Jessmyn Ward and Angie Thomas and Augusta Scattergood and Rick Bragg and and and... y'all, Mississippi don't play. This is a serious-good line-up of authors and events!

Did I say, excited? Yep. Hope to see you there!

Monday, August 13, 2018

For the Love of Lighthouses


Pensacola Light
I've long enjoyed visiting lighthouses, and last week we were able to visit a the one located in Pensacola, FL, at the Naval Air Station.

Please note: if you want to visit this lighthouse, Google Maps will likely take you to the wrong entrance. They only allow visitors to the lighthouse to enter at the West gate. (Yes, we found this out the hard way!)

There's a small museum located on the grounds near the lighthouse as well as a gift shop, where I found MIND THE LIGHT, KATIE: The History of Thirty-Three Female Lighthouse Keepers by Mary Louise Clifford and J. Candace Clifford. Fascinating stories! And then I found the US Lighthouse Society webpage which features a slew of lighthouse poems. Check them out! I especially enjoyed "The Lighthouse Keeper's White-Mouse" by John Ciardi, which is imaginative, adorable kid-fare.

And now here is a tour of the lighthouse:

view of the Gulf,
inside the grounds,
just past the parking lot

climbing the stairs - all 177 of them

People coming down have
the right-of-way, and people
coming up have to wait in the center
of the staircase for them to pass.

view from a window... it was a HOT
day, so any breeze was welcome

view of my flip-flops on window
 ledge -- visitors are required to
wear shoes with backs, or else go
barefoot (for safety) -- so I carried
my shoes up with me to wear
on the sure-to-be-HOT outside
balcony

the light! (still operating -- we
had to be careful of our heads
so we didn't crash into it!)

the north view

the crew - none of my guys
are all that fond of heights!