A Tribute to Jigsaw Puzzles (We Go Way Back)

 

Preliminary sketch by R.W. Alley for THE CASE OF THE HAT BURGLAR, a Jigsaw Jones mystery.

My name is James Preller and I have a problem.

It goes something like this:

My wife Lisa yawns, says, “I’m going up to bed.”

I stand by the large dining room table. It’s almost 10:30. There’s a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle spread out before me, halfway done. The edges, the easy parts, in place. There’s still about 500 loose pieces that all look, at a glance, the same. That’s the thing about puzzles: glancing won’t get it done. You’ve got to scrutinize. 

Lisa goes up, I remain. Just be a minute, I say. Time passes. At around 2:30, bleary and blurry and buzzing, I drag myself away.

Something happens when we break out the puzzles. I get a little obsessive. Okay, a lot obsessive.

Help me.

Quick flashback: I am a shy kid in an afternoon kindergarten class with Miss Croke in Wantagh, Long Island. She seems nice. Tall with glasses. The other kids strike me as boisterous and messy and problematic, especially one girl named Kathy who keeps threatening to hug me.

The way I cope is to stick to myself and do jigsaw puzzles. One after another after another. I have clear memories of this. Miss Croke coming along, sweetly asking if I’d like to, you know, do anything else besides puzzles? No, I’m good, I assured her. I was not unhappy, just quiet and reserved and, okay, a little freaked out.

(Like most shy kids, once I’m back home I won’t shut up — even after it’s forcefully suggested.)

Later, in 1997, I started writing a mystery series for young readers. At first, I didn’t have the name of the main character. I used Otis as a placeholder. Then Theodore. I decided he loves puzzles. That made sense to me, a detective would enjoy assembling the clues, piecing them together to create a full picture of the truth.

My editor, Helen Perelman, pulled a line from that first book, The Case of Hermie the Missing Hamster, tweaked it, and used it as a tagline: “Jigsaw puzzles are like mysteries — you’ve got to look at all the pieces to solve the case.”

Excerpt from THE CASE OF HERMIE THE MISSING HAMSTER.

So here I am, along with everybody else in May, 2020, hunkering down to COVID-19, quiet and reserved and still a little freaked. Once again busting out the jigsaw puzzles. In fact, I recently texted my friend, Corina, wondering if she was interested in a puzzle swap. Corina’s also an enthusiast, though I don’t sense it’s an affliction with her. She likes the Ravensburger puzzles whereas I have a preference for difficult nature scenes. We left a few boxes on our front stoops and made the masked exchange.

Looking back on all that, I suppose it wasn’t an accident I named him Jigsaw. 

There are 14 Jigsaw Jones titles currently available from Macmillan. (You should buy them all.) And in each one, there’s a moment when Jigsaw withdraws to spend time alone, deep in thought, working on a new jigsaw puzzle, thinking about the case.

Oh, almost forgot: I read aloud the entire book, The Case of Hermie the Missing Hamster, on my Youtube channel. It’s a series of five videos. Feel free to share them with young readers, that’s why I made them.

     

     

My Pecha Kucha: Baseball’s Red Thread

I gave a Pecha Kucha presentation a couple of years back at our local Opalka Gallery on the Sage Campus in Albany. The other day I came across the text for it, which comes close to what I actually said that evening (my talk was pretty closely memorized, no notes). I thought I’d share it here, because it brings together two things I love, baseball and my mother, and I happen to be missing both of them these days. The images here are the ones I used for the original talk.

BUT FIRST: WHAT IS PECHA KUCHA?

I grabbed this off the web:

Pecha Kucha is a presentation form of 20 images for 20 seconds. The slides change automatically and the speaker must synchronise their speech with the images. It’s sometimes also called a 20×20 presentation. So the entire presentation always lasts for exactly 6 minutes and 40 seconds.

It started in Tokyo in 2003, designed by architects, Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham. It was soon adopted by fans of alternative presentation styles. Similar to the short-length focus of an elevator pitch, Pecha Kucha relies upon concision and brevity. By applying a limit on the number of slides, the presenter is forced to streamline their content. It also forces the speaker to prepare and practice, as there is no option to go back or skip ahead. Pecha Kucha is also a very visual presentation style. It is based on single powerful images. Striking visuals enhance any presentation. They captivate the audience in a more immediate way than written words.

 

 

On the outside there are two cowhide coverings stitched together with waxed red thread. There are exactly 108 stitches in the sewing process of a major league ball. I feel like that red thread has been woven through the fabric of my life.

 

If you’re a kid, sooner or later you’ve got to unravel one of these things. Inside there’s a rubber-covered cork core and four types of yarn. It’s the yarn I like best, because a yarn is also a long story. My yarn, today, is about baseball. But that’s not entirely true.

 

My mother was the big baseball fan in our house. A huge Mets fan. The games were always on when I was growing up. She’d listen on the radio or watch on TV, snapping the games off in despair when the Mets were losing. And they were often losing.

 

 

Speaking of yarn: There were always balls of it my house. Everywhere you turned. My mother did most of her best work while watching the Mets on television. We still wrap ourselves in her blankets. This remains the world’s second best use of yarn.

 

 

My mother married in 1948. Seventy-two years ago. Around that time, she threw away her collection of Brooklyn Dodger baseball cards. My father had no interest in baseball. It was time, she thought, to put aside childish things.

 

 

It was my mother who taught me how to play catch. I was her little southpaw, the youngest of seven. And I’d ask her, “Am I graceful, Mom? Am I graceful?” And she would always answer, “Oh yes, very graceful.”

 

 

Some nights she’d let me stay up to watch the end of the games. My tired head on her lap, her hand in my hair, a cigarette in the other. She liked “little” Buddy Harrelson the best. Mom always seemed to have a crush on little shortstops.

 

Around this time I invented my own baseball games. I’d write out the lineups for two opposing teams and play imaginary games. I’d roll the dice. A 2 was a HR, a 3 a triple, 4 was a ground out, and so on. Then I’d play again, and again.

 

 

I filled notebooks doing this. Today I’m a professional writer. And I often think that it began back then. There I was, pen in hand, filling pages, fueled by my love of the game.

 

 

In the morning I reached for the newspaper. I loved the boxed scores. Each boxed score reveals a story. I eventually moved beyond the numbers to the articles. Those were the first writers I loved. The game had turned me into a reader.

 

 

The first time I saw a color television set was in my grandparents’ home on 100th Avenue in Queens Village. My grandfather was sitting in a leather chair, smoking a cigar, watching baseball. I stood transfixed. The grass was impossibly green.

 

 

I grew up. Along the way, I lost my friend, Craig Walker, to cancer. This photo was taken on the day we watched Game 6 of the 1986 World Series. The ball rolled through Buckner’s legs and we stood and we cheered and we hugged, ecstatic.

 

 

Quick Craig story: My mother was pleased and surprised to see Craig, more than two decades ago, at my second wedding. “Craig! I didn’t know you’d be here.”

“Oh yes,” he said. “I come to ALL of Jimmy’s weddings.”

Funny guy.

 

 

In 2009, I published my first baseball book. Writing it, then finally placing that book on the shelf with my collection of baseball books, I felt like I’d come home. Baseball, of course, is a game about coming home. I dedicated it to my pal, Craig.

 

 

You strike the ball and you journey out like the hero Odysseus in Homer’s Odyssey. First base, second base, third base . . . and finally to return home again.

Safe. Triumphant.

Into your mother’s arms.

 

 

I began playing hardball again in my late 30s. This is my son, Gavin, who’s now in college. These days I play in two extremely old man’s baseball league, ages 45-up and 55-up. Don’t laugh, for in our hearts we are young.

 

 

Look at these guys. My teammates. We take the field, smack our gloves, and look to the sky from where the high fly falls, drifting back and back, saying, “I’ve got it, I’ve got it, I’ve got it.”

And most of the time, but not always, we make the catch.

 

 

Today my mother is 94 years old. Still a Mets fan. But these past seasons something changed. For the first time, she’s lost track of the Mets. She can’t remember the players, or summon the old passion she once had for the game. It’s all become a great blur in her mind.

 

 

And to me –- my mother losing the Mets — feels like the end of something important. A symbol, a metaphor. A red thread, cut.

 

 

And so hanging by a thread, we return home -– to baseball, to my mother, my sense of well-being. It’s gotten so I can’t think of one without the other. It’s all interconnected. And I now understand that my love for baseball is really just an expression of my love for the other.

Thank you.

On Birds and the Artist’s Sense of Wonder: A Conversation with Wendell Minor

 

“To me, birds represent the ultimate form of freedom.

To break the bonds of the earth

and to float in the sky

has fascinated man since the beginning of time.”

— Wendell Minor

 

 

It’s hard to know what to say about Wendell Minor. The awards and achievements seem endless. And there always seems to be a new book coming out. In plain truth, Wendell has enjoyed five decades in the publishing world, beginning as a book cover designer and transitioning to children’s book illustrator and author. As a nature lover and history buff, he shares those interests with children through the books he has authored or co-authored with Jean Craighead George, Tony Johnston, Robert Burleigh, Charlotte Zolotow, Margaret Wise Brown, Buzz Aldrin, Mary Higgins Clark, and last but not least, his (fabulous!) wife Florence. His work has been exhibited in museums and galleries throughout the country. But mostly, today, I’m hoping he’ll indulge my newfound fascination with all things . . . avian.




Greetings, Wendell, thanks for stopping by to talk about birds and, not coincidentally, your newest book, Tiny Bird. I find myself newly “woke” to the world of birds. I daresay I’ve become a beginning birder. It’s given me so much pleasure.


Hello James, I have to say I’ve been a bird watcher as long as I can remember. I did my first bird drawing when I was five years old. It was a giant Robin. I can’t imagine a world without birds. We have lost three billion birds in America since 1970! That’s about 30 percent of the total population. They are battling loss of habitat and climate change. We should never take them for granted.

Illustration by Wendell Minor, age 5. Obviously, that poor kid is never going to make it. 

 

I interviewed Ralph Fletcher on a similar theme a while back, because he photographs birds. You draw them. At its heart, the hobby of birding is about seeing. Noticing details. The shape of the tail feathers. The length of a beak. Stopping, pausing, reflecting. All the qualities one needs to become a good artist or writer. It feels spiritual.

To me, birds represent the ultimate form of freedom. To break the bonds of the earth and to float in the sky has fascinated man since the beginning of time. Seagulls inspired the Wright Brothers at Kittyhawk. Careful observations of these graceful birds led to the basic understanding of the principles of flight and the first successful flying machine. Who doesn’t want to fly? For me, it’s a creative spiritual experience.

 

 

I’ve gone through the same experience with trees. Just waking up to them, noticing more and richer detail. I feel a little foolish about the lost time, but I’m grateful for the moments I’ve been given. It all links for me directly into becoming a better writer, being in the moment and attending to the thing itself. Again, that’s art, isn’t it?

Mother Nature keeps us humble. Perhaps Thoreau said it best: Simplify, simplify, simplify. “Without simplicity, it isn’t possible to live life to the fullest or really be able to be an integral part of nature and Man’s surroundings.”  

 

 

Do you use the Merlin app? It was created in partnership with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. It’s an amazing resource to carry around in our magic phones. Very helpful in making identifications. Which has been another interesting discovery. There’s pleasure in not only seeing and appreciating a bird, but knowing its name: That’s a Tree Swallow, that’s a Cooper’s Hawk, that’s a Downy Woodpecker! Knowing what you are seeing increases the joy.

 

 

I use the Sibley and Peterson guide books plus a number of other books. I visit the Cornell site frequently. I decided to do a count of some of the birds I have illustrated over the years. Here’s a partial list:

Barred Owl, Great Horned Owl, Barn Owl, Snowy Owl, 

Sandhill Crane, Tri-colored Heron, Crows,

Eagles (Bald and Golden, Yellow Finches, Robins, Stellers Jay,

Pileated Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Pelicans,

Albatross, Laughing Gull, Herring Gull, Anhinga Bird,

Flamingos, Roseate Spoonbills, Cormorants, Mourning Doves,

Red-Tailed Hawk, Red Headed Woodpecker, Raven,

Red Tailed Hawk, Egrets, Red Winged Blackbirds, Blue Jay,

Chickadee, Magpie, Mockingbird, Peregrine Falcon,

Cardinal, and, of course, Hummingbirds.

Let’s talk about your new book. Hummingbirds are tough little birds, aren’t they?

Hummingbirds are amazing! Tiny Bird: A Hummingbird’s Amazing Journey by Robert Burleigh was born out of our mutual interest in their astounding toughness for such tiny creatures. The book covers the cycle of migration of the Ruby Throated Hummingbird from Connecticut to Guatemala, roughly 1500 hundred miles. They fly solo for the entire trip, plus a five hundred mile leap across the Gulf of Mexico: twenty plus hours non-stop!

There’s a really cool website, Hummingbird Central, that features a live map of the hummingbird migration. What a staggering journey. I expect a few ruby-throated hummingbirds to show up in my backyard any day now.

 

Here are a few of the things I learned: a hummingbird’s wings vibrate more than 50 beats per second. They are only about 3” long and weigh less than a penny! Only the female sits on the nest, which by the way is the size of a quarter. Hummingbirds come back to the same place every year. So if you see one in your backyard, you know they’ve traveled 15 hundred miles to be there!

 

 

Here’s an image I particularly like, from your book Everglades by Jean Craighead George. It reminds me of a seabirds puzzle I used to love as a kid. I’m curious, have any of your illustrations been used as puzzles? 

 

 

Thanks. That book has been in print since 1995! I had one book cover produced as a puzzle several years ago. The book was called Weed Rough by Douglas C. Jones. I have attached the illustration.

Ah, that’s so cool. A lot of us are doing puzzles these days. You’ve had a pretty remarkable career, Wendell. In addition to all your picture books and gallery shows, you’ve done quite an impressive array of book cover work, which tends to fly under the radar. Could you name a few we might recognize? I know you’ve done a version of To Kill a Mockingbird, a number of books by Pat Conroy and Jean Craighead George. Oh, just typing those names gives me a pang. We’re losing some of the great ones, aren’t we?

 

               

Yes, we are! Jean and Pat were my good friends for many years and I still miss them both. Over the years I’ve designed over 2000 book covers. A few that you might remember are David McCullough’s “Truman” and “The Path Between the Seas,” Pat Conroy’s “The Great Santini” and “The Prince of Tides,” Mary Higgins Clark’s “Where Are the Children?,” Toni Morrison’s “Sula,” and Fannie Flagg’s “ Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe.” I could go on but that would take up too much space on the page.

How does that work? You get a manuscript and create a cover image from that? Or does an art director come to you with specific ideas? Covers are hard, so scrutinized by everyone in the publishing company, from editors to salespeople; I imagine there can be quite a lot of back and forth.

I do few covers these days, most of my time is spent doing picture books. I love the freedom of creating books for children. When doing an assignment for a book cover commission, I always insist on reading the manuscript. I owe that much to the authors who have spent months or years writing their books. I usually have the freedom to create my own vision for a cover; however I may do several concepts to navigate the many approval processes. Most of the time, my first sketch wins the day.

By the way, how’s my friend, the lovely Florence Minor doing? Have you two got another collaboration in the works?

Thanks for asking about Florence. She has completely recovered from her cancer surgery last year, and she’s feeling great! Her latest book is about kittens and all the amusing things they do. It’s looking great and will pub within a year from now. Florence sends you her best!

That’s good news. Okay, Wendell, thanks for swinging by. Maybe we’ll take a walk someday and you can be my birding guide. I can hear ’em, but they aren’t so easy to spot. I’ve got so much to learn.

It’s been a pleasure talking with you and I hope the Hummingbirds return to your backyard this year! See you at the next book festival as soon as we’re allowed.

 

Wendell Minor lives in Washington, CT, with his wife, author Florence Minor. Wendell’s books have received the Cook Prize, Bank Street College of Education’s Best Children’s Books of the Year 2015, Publishers weekly Best Books of the Year 2005, Kirkus Best Books of the Year 2015, New York Public Library’s 100 Best Books for Kids 2017, Junior Library Guild Selections, Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young Children, Outstanding Science Trade Books, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library selection, Pennsylvania One Book Every Young Child selection, ALA Notable Book, John Burroughs List of Nature Books for Young Readers. Wendell was honored to be the 2018-2021 Artist Laureate of the Norman Rockwell Museum. Readers may visit Wendell at: www.minorart.com and on Facebook.

 

Fairy Houses & Creative Learning at Home: A Conversation with Author and Children’s Librarian, Liza Gardner Walsh

 

 

“I miss my students.

I miss putting books directly in kid’s hands.

I am heartbroken

that we don’t get to finish the year together.” 

Liza Gardner Walsh

 

Liza Gardner Walsh embodies two of my favorite things in one person: no, she’s not peanut butter and jelly. She’s even better. Liza is an author and a children’s librarian. She’s also a certified, fully-authorized, bonafide expert on all things fairies. Liza visits today with some insights about getting kids outdoors, interacting with nature, using their creativity and imaginations, to make learning fun. Let’s meet her.

 

 

Liza, it’s nice to connect with you again! Usually we only see each other at the glorious Warwick Children’s Book Festival. I was very happy to come across an article featuring you, “How to Build a Fairy House.” The reporter, Aislinn Sarnacki of the Bangor Daily News, did an excellent job. It inspired me and I hope it might inspire parents, too. Let me quote the intro:

Fairy house building is a creative outdoor activity that can expand the imagination and bring to life the small things in nature that are easy to overlook. All you need is a small outdoor space and a few natural materials. Then — taking as much time as you want — construct a small home, fit for a fairy, frog or any other small creature that comes to mind.

This zero-cost activity is great for kids, families and even adults who are looking for ways to have fun in their own backyards. And right now, as people stay at home and practice social distancing during this stressful time, fairy house building may be just the thing to take people’s minds off the pandemic — even if it’s just for a few minutes.

 

Why do you think some children are so fascinated by the fairy world? 

This is the hardest question of all but I think this fascination with fairies taps into our innate “sense of wonder” as Rachel Carson coined it.  There is this immediate flood of curiosity that informs the magic of this hobby. Will the fairies come? Will they leave a surprise? What do they look like? Will they like my house? Do they take care of the world? Are they watching us as we build? Seeing the wide-eyed wonder and amazing willingness of children to take the leap into the imagination and the unknown is so incredibly rejuvenating. It celebrates that part of childhood that we as children’s book writers are so connected to and work so hard to intuit in our writing. And it reinforces all the good, trust, wonder, curiosity, consideration, persistence, patience, and laughter!

I love the idea for that activity, particularly in relation to these times, when schools are closed and the focus has shifted to online learning.

I have been watching kids and families make these little houses and worlds for years now and I am always amazed at how much creativity is unleashed. Every single creation is different. One of the premiere benefits is this sense of open-ended play because there are no step-by-step instructions like Lego kits. The materials that kids collect set the parameters. Another benefit is that it completely captures kids’ imaginations and it isn’t a one and done kind of a thing. You can wake up and check on your house and then go back and add another room or a playground. The next day, you can leave a note for the fairies or make a pathway to your sibling’s house. The possibilities are endless. I also like that kids can do this completely on their own and it becomes a way that they can be engaged safely and create a whole world of their own making.

 

I like how so many learning opportunities open up naturally. It’s a perfect jumping-off point for interdisciplinary activities: cooking, writing, reading, science (nature studies), engineering . . . 

I would say, though, that my all time favorite benefit is patience and perseverance. There are always problems to solve when building things out of materials that aren’t all the same or made with straight lines. Things fall apart when the wind blows or your dog might knock the whole thing down in one fell swoop. But a true fairy house builder will pick up the pieces and start again.

You work as a school librarian. How have you been adjusting to our “lockdown” reality in that capacity?

It’s been way harder than I ever imagined. I miss my students. I miss putting books directly in kid’s hands. I am heartbroken that we don’t get to finish the year together. Thank goodness for technology but zoom meetings are not the same. I do appreciate the creativity that distance learning is forcing on us and I have had some really fun connections with kids through video and zoom but I do spend a lot of my time worrying about our families and the isolation and economic challenges they are facing.

       

 

I had a friend complain about her disappointment with “learning-from-home-time” so far, the pile up of schoolwork her girls have received from each class. I’m certainly not here to criticize teachers, who are working very hard to figure out this brave new world. I do feel that our current situation presents new opportunities for creative, explorative, interdisciplinary learning. The idea isn’t so much to recreate what happens in the classroom — we can’t do that, especially on the social level — but maybe in some respects we can do something even better. 

Our principle has said the whole time that we are building the plane as we are flying it but I do appreciate the model we are using. We are offering activities, enrichment, and support but not requiring it. We have to keep in mind equity. Sometimes, worksheets are a benign way of making things accessible and easily transmissible through digital means. But I completely agree that this can be an opportunity for a paradigm shift. Kids are always learning. Literacy, math, science, art, movement are all so enmeshed in our everyday lives. I’m hoping that kids are building forts, planting gardens, watching birds, writing letters, and working on engines. Fairy House building is another way that kids can create, engineer, and collaborate. You can write a story about what happens in that house after you leave it. The key is following the curiosity and seeing what emerges. That is something that we don’t often have time to do in the public school day schedule and now is the perfect time to make it happen.

Can you give us a few quick tips? No one wants to build a house that displeases the fairies.

Of course! First, you need to find a good spot that will be safe from dogs, protected from wind, and that has some support. Bases of trees, stumps, and rock walls are all great. Next, grab a bag or a box and gather your materials. Fairy houses should be made from all natural materials. There are so many good things to collect like acorn caps, bark that has fallen off a tree, sticks, rocks, shells, dried beans, dried milkweed husks, the list goes on.

Once you have all your materials, you can begin to assemble your structure. People usually opt for a lean-to or a teepee type structure but the sky is the limit. And once you have a good house built, you can then work on adding some furniture to welcome your small guests. Fairies are very fond of naps so a bed is an essential. Tables and chairs with acorn cap bowls are also a nice way to welcome fairies. The final touches can include pathways, playgrounds, pools, and whatever else you can dream up. After you have built your house, pay attention for signs that the fairies have visited by looking for tiny footprints, fairy dust, and bent or torn leaves. But the most important advice of all is to have fun!

By the way, how tall are fairies, exactly?

I have “heard” they are about 2-3 inches tall, roughly. But some people describe it as a shimmer of light , almost like an orb, or a little puffball hovering by a flower.

So you’ve never . . . ?

No, I have never seen one. And I’m okay with that!

Well, I’m ready to build a fairy house right now. I only wish I still had a six-year-old at home with me. My Maggie, now 19, used to make them long ago. I wonder if she encountered any, I’ll have to ask. Do you have a new book in the works?

I have the last in the seasonal fairy series illustrated by Hazel Mitchell, The Fall Fairy Gathering, which is due out this summer. And I am working on a historical fiction novel but at a snail’s pace!

Thanks so much for stopping by, Liza. Be safe, stay home, and protect the vulnerable.

Thank you, James, for all that you are doing for kids, teachers, and families and for continuing to write such great stories.

 

Liza Gardner Walsh is a school librarian and an author of more than a dozen books. She’s worked as a preschool teacher and a high school English teacher, writing tutor, and museum educator. Liza lives with her family in Camden, Maine. And, obviously, she’s terrific.

 

 

 

 

 

Completed: I’ve Now Posted a Full Reading of JIGSAW JONES: THE CASE OF HERMIE, THE MISSING HAMSTER

Greetings, my dearly beloved Nation of Readers.

Both of you! I mean it, thanks for stopping by here of all places.

I don’t know if anyone cares or not — it’s never stopped me before! — but I’ve been slowly posting videos over at my Youtube channel. Maybe it’s helpful to some families and teachers during this time of closed schools and the uncertainty of online learning.

My apologies, I kind of take an everyman-downmarket approach to these videos. Nothing too spiffy, I’m afraid. I usually don’t even comb my hair. Hey, we’re in lockdown, folks. Just keeping it real.

Anyway, I’ve been honing my opening moments in these videos. Raising my game. This one, embedded below, is fairly ridiculous. My might enjoy it. I’m hoping that maybe some young readers will, too.

So, yeah, give it 30 seconds and then you’re good.

It might make you laugh. 

Or shake your head with pity. 

Your call!

And if you are interested in the complete book — which is out of print, by the way — go to my Youtube channel, click here, subscribe, and start with the first video. I keep them at around 15 minutes each, so this book took five videos to complete. 

Quick note on the “out of print” thing. I’ve written 42 Jigsaw Jones books. They all slowly, painfully went out of print. Then Macmillan stepped in and we’ve been bringing back new, revised, updated editions. If a reader enjoys this book, for example, there are 14 titles freshly available wherever good books are sold. 

               

     

My best. I hope that you and everyone you care for remains healthy and happy as you all continue to protect the vulnerable. There are days when this isn’t so bad at all, others when it feels awful. 

It won’t last forever. Better times ahead.

Until then, there’s always books.