With Stan gone, I decided to get the heck out of dodge for the holidays. When Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman invited me to New York City for "Goosemas" (rather than Christmas), I thought it sounded just right - so off I went! (I'm very late in sharing this, but at least I got to it!)
Ellen and Delia have a beautiful home, an apartment in a building similar to this one (I took this photo for the sculpture when I walked through Riverside Park my first morning there).
The Polar Vortex hit after
I arrived, thank goodness; so my journey there was smooth. But I didn't want to go out in the cold! I was actually quite happy just reading, going to the grocery store with Delia, or drawing. We did go to one play together that was really good.
After the play, we stopped for hot chocolate and pastries. I love these photos of Delia and Ellen. We were talking about life's BIG questions while New York twinkled in the background.
The next day, Delia and I went grocery shopping, bodega style (Delia bought sword fish from a street-side fishmonger - quite the normal thing in NYC). Then we split up and I got a real
Ellen and Delia's home is filled with love and BOOKS
! (Silly me brought a book to read - they're home IS a library! I ended up reading The Last Unicorn
.) The building itself was built in 1909 and rambles on and on. I had a gorgeous Victorian bathroom all to myself and took several long soaks. (Delia remodeled it - the most beautiful bathroom I've ever seen!) But best of all was the original
Brian Frouds, a painting and sketches, that hung over my bed.
Brian is one of the reasons I wanted to be an illustrator in the first place. Do you remember the book "Faeries"? That was Brian and Alan Lee.
It blew my mind when I was a budding illustrator. Heck, it still does. The Frouds are friends of several friends of mine. (Also, Brian and his wife Wendy invented Yoda!) I hope I get to meet them one day.
I was able to have lunch, noodles, with my friend Mikki Knudsen
, author of The Library Lion
and so many other wonderful books. I can't believe I didn't get a photo of us, but it just wasn't that sort of date. It was just so good to reconnect and fill each other in on our changing worlds.
I was honored that they let me light the Menorah candles several nights as Ellen and Delia sang. What a lovely ritual.
Delia made home-made latkes that were amazing too.
Of course, the big celebration was GOOSEMAS. (Not Christmas, but more an acknowledgement of the confluence of traditions that come together at the same time.) I had the honor of setting the dinner table for the guests that evening in their magical dining room.
The carving of the Goose was no small task. This was quite the undertaking! Here, Shawn Cowls is helping while Delia carves...
The meal was divine of course, with Ellen and Delia's famous smoosh
(sweet potatoes and apples, yum!)
Ellen and Delia love folklore, rituals, and tradition and lean on many established ones, while inventing some of their own.
One I loved was the reading of Dylan Thomas' A Christmas in Wales
in the round after dinner. Being NYC, everyone read with a true actor's flair, heck several people at the tale were
actors in some sense or another (Doug Shapiro and Ellen, of course).
Ellen and Delia's nephews, Stuart and AJ were there too (here are Karen and AJ).
One of their dear friends is Karen Green, the comics librarian at Columbia University - so you can imagine how well we hit it off! Could not
She asked me to add a "sketch" of Alice to her ongoing Alice in Wonderland Sketchbook Project
. She attends so many Comicons and such where great talent hangs out, she gets some of the world's best illustrators to add to her sketchbooks. She's on Book #4 now. I was so flattered, but it was a bit intimidating, so I spent one of my New York City days reminding myself that I can indeed draw. This was with ballpoint pen. It was a healing thing to do, but Delia had to rub my cramping hand when I was done!
For more photos and an eloquent presentation, Ellen did a lovely write up of the holiday on her FB page, as she does, CLICK HERE TO SEE MORE WONDERFUL PHOTOS AND READ!!!
All said, I can't imagine a better way to spend my first Christmas without Stan. My friends offered so many hugs, but mostly a beautiful refuge. I am so grateful and love them dearly.
From their warm home I took a wonderful train ride to visit my friend Mary Jane Begin in Providence, RI... coming up next!