Spiders In the Night: Aly Weaves a Tale

The fall cold always came overnight, in October, when the moon was a spooky thumbnail.

Aly loved October. She loved how the spiders spun ghostly webs to decorate the house for Halloween.

It was always coldest by late October, when her mother’s outside plants began to droop and wither. Thinking about the spiders and how hard they were working, Aly began to worry.

How would they stay warm, when even the flowers that her mother tended so carefully could not survive?

Spider Eye  by Ian Lynch Schuster pastel crayons

Spider Eye
by Ian Lynch Schuster
pastel crayons

 

Aly could not sleep. All she could think about was the spiders, outside and freezing in the silky dark.

She had to help them. She slid out of bed (she was already wearing her fleece jammies!), put on her socks and shoes, found her camping flashlight, then glided down the wooden floor, past her parents’ room to the living room. She grabbed her mother’s box full of old yarn. She went out through a side door.

The dark was scary. But Aly was brave as she walked along the porch and decks of the house.

She opened the yarn box, full of tangled, colorful strands. Gently, she scooped up spiders, all curled into tiny balls for the night, and set them in the box. When it was full, she put the lid back on and crept inside.

Sleepy as could be, she stopped in the kitchen for a glass of milk and chocolate chip cookies. She put the yarnbox on the counter. And then she fell asleep at the kitchen table.

She awoke to her father and mother shouting, “What on earth?!”

Somehow, the spiders had escaped the box and the kitchen was draped with webs of all sizes and shapes. Every corner and nook had a spider web. Even the tea kettle was draped in fine webs, and the coffee pot was nearly unrecognizable.

“Mary Alyson!” her mother said in a voice that meant trouble. “What is going on here?”

Aly shrugged her shoulders.

“At least now they can help inside the house, too, Mommy,” she said.

Her mother sighed. Her father put his shoe back on. It was Halloween, and the day had just begun.

 

Key words: orb weavers, Halloween, spiders, moonlight, creepy, brave girl, knitting, picture book

 

How Becoming an Artist at 53 Helped Me to Grieve–and Find Joy

All my life, no matter where I was or what I was doing (including earning an undergraduate degree in mathematics), I thought of myself as a writer, mostly a poet, but one who would venture into other literary arts, from personal essays to short fiction. I played guitar, but did not consider myself to be a musician. And I knitted, but would hardly cLiam to be a fiber artist. In my personal and professional lives, I wrote: happy, sad, busy, engaged, exhausted or exhilarated, from the moment I could first spell my name, I wrote.

But when my 94-year old grandmother died last winter, I had no language but tears. The fact of her very long life, and its profound connection to mine, did not mitigate my grief. When I went to write about it, my usual way to cope with emotions, good and sad, I could not.

Instead, inspired by something I had observed among the visual artists in a creativity group I belong to on Facebook, I thought  I might try to draw. The artists had introduced me to something called Zentangles, so I went to Michael’s craft shop to buy pens and paper. While there I was drawn—of course—to the pens, which included a gorgeous collection of watercolor pens. I bought two packs.
Milestones

I have since published a book, a tribute to the women who made me, entitled  What Are Mothers For? On sale now via Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/dp/0692562370, it is a cheerful gift for any mother, or anyone who has ever mothered you.

Proceeds up to $500 will be donated to Reading Partners Baltimore
Learn more about this effective program and how it changes the lives of children and volunteers. The volunteers participate in schools throughout the city, working one-on-one with children ages 5-to-8 who struggle to read.

This post originally appeared on Architects of Change by Maria Shriver. For the complete story, click here.

What Are Mothers For?: Ready to purchase on Amazon!

If you have ever loved a child, been a beloved child, or remembered happy moments shared with adults you loved, What Are Mothers For? will speak to your heart. With whimsical drawings accompanied by simple text, the book shows and tells the story of my memories of my childhood–some inspired by my grandmothers, my mother, and my sisters. The book follows the life cycle, from when we first come from the stars, to when we have children of our own.

Thanks to the expert design and layout support of Min Enghauser of The Torpedo Factor, the book LOOKS fantastic–and I hope you love reading it as much as I loved writing and drawing it. Here is a short link:

www.amazon.com/dp/0692562370

And an early image: We arrive on a wing and a prayer:

on a wing and a prayer, 1

We have so much to learn and absorb, to do and become.

interior book spread

In the end, we create our own beauty, and the beautiful lives that follow us.

It would make a beautiful gift for the holidays, a new mom, a mom-to-be, a grandmother. Many women are mothers by virtue of birth and adoption, and many more by virtue of the love they give to children.  Please consider a copy, the first in a series about all kinds of people (and  maybe a few animals, too).

tags: mothers, motherhood, parenting, children, love, aging, giftbook, picturebook, Janice Lynch Schuster, What Are Mothers For?, growing up, learning,