Archive for May, 2010

Mary Mae’s Puppet Stage

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010


Sandra Dutton with Mary Mae's Mrs. Noah

I made the puppets that appear in Mary Mae and the Gospel Truth and had such fun (see the April 14 entry) that I decided to make the puppet theatre.  I wanted it to be portable (it’s now against a wall in the dining room) and to be able to fit in the back of my Corolla with the seats down, so I was limited to three feet wide by six feet tall.  I also wanted it to be lightweight.  So after looking at many puppet theatres, I decided to make a three-sided one of wood and fabric, three “canvases” hinged together.   Below are diagrams and a list of supplies, if you would like to make one yourself.

 Here’s what I used:

 11 six-foot 1x2s

fabric for the outside, 7-8 yards

fabric to line (optional, but I wanted it to be strong and opaque), another 7-8 yards

four hinges (with removable pins) so that the theatre can easily be disassembled

12 flat corner braces

8 flat T braces

a staple gun

1 yard 60” fabric for curtains (or 2 yards 45”)

1 ¼ yard black cotton or gauze for backdrop

6 taps for chair legs

1.  Build the frames first.

2.  Lay out the fabric, wrong sides together.   Cut pieces to cover, allowing enough fabric to wrap around the fames. 

3.  Staple fabric to frame, starting at the top middle, then bottom middle, then the middle of each side, working your way from middles to ends.

4.  Add hinges.

5.  Make a triangular pediment using cardboard for stiffener.  Add a layer of quilting and use scraps to cover.  (I sewed a triangle, then stuffed the cardboard inside it. 

6.  Add ties to hold pediment (pinned to frame).

7.  Make curtains.  They can hang from a string or a rod.

8.  Attach backdrop. (I fasten the backdrop with pushpins but may eventually do something more permanent.)

9.  Hammer in 2 taps per side on the bottom of each frame—this will protect the fabric.

Now you’re ready for a puppet show! 

Diagram, Outside of Puppet Theatre


Diagram, Inside of Puppet Theatre


Inside the Puppet Theatre

A Memorable Character Whose Search for Truth Drives the Narrative

Sunday, May 16th, 2010

Following is a nice review of Mary Mae and the Gospel Truth by Kirkus:

Ten-year-old Mary Mae loves questions. She adores her teacher, Miss Sizemore, who shows her fossils found right in her school’s backyard. She adores her Granny, who plays the guitar and will make up songs about anything. And Mary Mae loves Jesus with all her might. But she doesn’t understand why her church teaches that the earth is 6,000 years old, while Miss Sizemore says it’s more like 6,000,000. Her Mama doesn’t like Mary Mae’s questions. Don’t they show a lack of faith? Very few books for this age group tackle religious subjects as this one does, in a way that shows respect for all sides. Dutton allows Mary Mae to retain both her questions and her faith; instead of a definitive answer, she shows evolutionists and creationists working to find a small, shared piece of middle ground. Mary Mae is a memorable character—spunky but not defiant—whose search for truth drives the narrative.

Fossils at Caesar Creek, Ohio

Friday, May 14th, 2010

13-Inch Trilobite Found at Caesar Creek State Park by Thomas Johnson

Had a great time yesterday. Went with my sister and brother-in-law, who live in Maineville, Ohio, up to Caesar Creek State Park near Waynesville. They’ve hunted for fossils up there for years, just for fun. We went first to the museum and took a look around—they had the most enormous triblobite I’d ever seen, 13-inches wide, this one is, (see photo) dug up by a man named Thomas Johnson, who also found a 15-inch trilobite that’s now in the Smithsonian. The ranger was telling us Johnson has a sixth sense for trilobites. He can be walking along, decide “there’s probably one over there,” and dig up a fine sample. So I looked at all the displays but was anxious to get outside and see what I could find myself. We’d driven past an area where a long, low hill had been cut out—you could see the layers of rock. (Mary Mae mentions this in Chapter Two of the book). Anyway, we crept out onto the flat, dug out area (it was muddy and wet) and began picking up hunks of rock that were filled with fossils—you didn’t really have to try that hard—they were just there.

Cutaway hill at Caesar Creek State Park revealing Ordovician strata

Hunk of rock picked up from cutaway area at Caesar Creek

I haven’t separated any of these—I like having them in this hunk. We didn’t stay long, either—it was too wet and cold, but plan to come back this summer. Meanwhile, here are some of the fossils my brother-in-law has found at Caesar Creek over the years—

Some of Nick DeBow's Fossils from Caesar Creek

Kristine Goding, Local Gospel Singer

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

Kristine Goding

 I just learned a gospel singer lives down the street from me, Kristine Goding, so invited her over to hear about her music.  She brought her guitar and we sat on my front porch and talked.  She said she started singing at home, with her mother, when she was four years old.  Her mother played piano.  Kristine and her mother would get out the hymn book, she said, and sing old favorites such as “At the Cross,” “Bind us Together,” and Blessed Assurance.”  “We sang all the time,” she says, “everything—‘Misty,’ Barbara Streisand, folk and old country, ‘Don’t Fence Me In.’”  She also sang duets in high school, and for her high school graduation. 

Kristine grew up mainly in Minnesota, but has also lived in Alabama, California, and now Maine.  She often writes her own songs and says, “I feel when I compose I’m writing what God wants to say to the people today.” I mentioned that in Mary Mae and the Gospel Truth, Granny tells Mary Mae, when they’re writing music together, “If you work too hard at it, it won’t work.  You just gotta let it bubble up.”  And Kristine agreed it’s the same way with her.

 She played a few bars of one of her own songs she calls “Casting”:  

Cast all your cares on me

Cast all your nets to the sea

Only believe.

She also played and sang her own arrangement of “Amazing Grace,” in which she changes the tune slightly and adds a heavier beat.  Her favorite song writer, she says, is LeAnn Rimes.  Kristine hopes to have a CD soon, and has a friend who is going to help her put it together. 

I look forward to posting one of her songs here.