Sunday, July 25, 2004

My Mid-Summer Night's Dream

This past Saturday night found me walking across a green hillside...a long row of trees, good friend at my side, in the midst of other footsteps. We all gathered at this wide open space, surrounded by hills, hedged against a stream, far from the main road. The pavillion, a wonderful half-shell of fabric and steel, flanked by the two largest video screens I'd seen, was soon lit from within, while musicians from all over the country, and a few beyond, donned white jackets lifted arms and instruments and the magic began!

What a great concert to start off the week-long Lancaster Music Festival. The two main female performers were stunning. The men, less so; but nevermind. Yeah! for beaded sequin spaghetti-strap dresses, beautiful arms that opened wide to circle pure voices. Let's hear it for "On the Street Where You Live," sung under Midwestern stars, a coolness in the air and stars twinkling next to a half-moon. My friend could tell me all about the real Broadway shows, the famous original cast members... but I was content with this.

The last song accompanied by fabulous fireworks...I'm running out of adjectives. You get the drift. It was great! A great time in a small town with exceptionally talented folk who graced Ohio University-Lancaster's lawn for one special night. A dreamy night to me...

Friday, July 23, 2004

ISBN-Agency Deafness

Dear ISBN:
The week of July 5th, I called and requested a form to obtain additional ISBNs. They did not come. I phone again. They did not come. I phoned again and was told they would be faxed. They were not faxed. I phoned again. They were not faxed. I e-mailed and was told to apply for ISBN numbers online. I responded by saying I want ADDITIONAL NUMBERS and online it says NOT TO fill out the online form for ADDITIONAL numbers. I called again. They said they would fax. The fax has not come. It has now been THREE WEEKS.

This morning I asked how long after applying would it be to receive the add'l ISBNs. I was told I could pay for Express processing. Yeah, right.

Let's start a new publishing world where there are no returns, no distributors, no reserves held, and no ISBN agency that charges $325.00 and takes 10 days. Shouldn't you be able to get ISBN numbers with the ease one obtains URLs? What's with that?

Contrasting History

I am no student of history — when drawn to a particular book, I'm always a bit surprised at just how interesting learning about the past can be. Last night, unable to sleep, I picked up Hidden Power: Presidential Marriages That Shaped Our History by Kati Marton. It was amazing how much I learned just in the first 50 pages. What I found most interesting, in that short section, was comparing Marton's description of Woodrow Wilson's efforts for peace during WWI with current events. (My father was named after Wilson and my son carries his name as well. So, I admit to some partiality.)

Here's what I found so interesting:

"From their Paris-bound train the Wilsons glimpsed men, women and small children solemnly saluting as the train sped by. Two million Parisians thronged the streets of the capital to hail the president. Deafening cheers of 'Vive Vil-son' and bouquets of violets rained on Woodrow and Edith's open carriage. ...

"The British repeated this ecstatic welcome. . . . In Rome, the Wilsons' reception had an almost religious ferver. Woodrow was hailed as 'the god of peace,' bells rang out and people lit candles next to his photograph in churches and in shops.

"All Wilson wanted from the conference was a 'just peace' and a world organization to maintain it.

"An ocean away, the political currents were shifting. When Wilson returned [three months later] he found a changed capital. The war was over, and the Republicans were on the attack. Senator Henry Cabot Lodge . . . declared the League of Nations unacceptable. ... The battle between Lodge and Wilson turned intensely personal, polarizing Congress and, soon, the country. ...

"'If Wilson gets his League," [Lodge said] "the Republican Party will be done for fifty years.'

"Wilson's unyielding position on the League pushed his supporters on the Hill into a corner. The choice was between democracy and imperialism, Wilson insisted.

"On March 19, 1920, the treaty meant to end the war that would end all future wars was rejected by the Senate. . .

"America retreated into isolationism. One by one, the vanquished and the victorious mocked Wilson's vision of a just peace. Without the support of the most powerful country, the League of Nations was powerless to stop Germany, Italy and Japan as they moved toward another world war."

I hope Ms. Marton will forgive me for quoting so extensively from her book, Hidden Power. Please buy it, if this subject interests you. She so expertly informs and draws the reader into various periods in our history... and for me this was very eye-opening. What will the future say about the 2001 - 2004 period of history and the American president's place in world affairs?

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Little "Pip"

Update on our new Fisher's Lovebird.
Pip (short for Pip-sqweek, yes I know it's spelled wrong) is doing great! Thank you to Heather's Feathers ( for raising such a healthy, happy creature. Pip exhibits wonderful personality traits: brave, independent, curious, friendly, and acrobatic. He has fallen in love with Gracie, our Pionus, and longs to end the 30-day quarantine and get a bit closer to her, with supervision of course.
How can one bird, who probably weighs all of an ounce or two, pack so much life under those feathers?

That Time of Year -- Hooray!

(Poster above created by Keith Sklar for "The Lancaster Festival 2004" See for info.)

It's that wonderful time of year again! Time for the Lancaster Festival. This year, I am committed to enjoying even more of this wonderful festival . . . after all, my residence is located smack downtown in the center of one of the countries best music festivals . . . and I've got time, a front porch, a summer-music sort of spirit and I'm ready to tap my feet. Highlights I'm looking forward to? Well, The ArtWalk tomorrow night (hope it doesn't rain), A Midsummer Night's Dream, A Salute to Broadway with Tony Roberts (and fireworks) and the season finale with Kathy Mattea (and more fireworks). There will also be Arnett Howard's Diva night!

Hooray for small town life with big town talent! If you are anywhere near Southeastern Ohio over the next week, stop in. You'll probably hear me humming away...out of tune but happy.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Ohio Bird Fair

Attended the Ohio Bird Fair in Columbus today and it was nice to see a wide selection of birds, most seemed to be healthy, with knowledgable breeders (some more than others). It would be interesting to see how much information they give about respective birds (do you really want that Umbrella Cockatoo Mildred?) when the cash is flashed.

There was a really nice couple there from Indiana. Their birds looked fabulous, clean and I wasn't surprised to learn, with documentation, that all had been vet-checked the previous day and given the A-Okay. Anyway, I bought a sweet little Fisher's lovebird. (This photo link is not my bird, but a twin.) I couldn't resist as I've been drawn to lovebirds for a few years now, have been reading up on them, and the price was right. Little Ruby is beautiful and will be a nice addition to our little family.

She already has her own curtain rod in the kitchen window and will hopefully spend many happy minutes there. She's already claimed the back of the office chair as her domain, so, like a little good-luck charm, she sits there in glorious green, orange and red splendor.

Saturday, July 17, 2004

"Bibliophile's Wonderland"

Bill Eichenberger, of the Columbus Dispatch, wrote an interesting article which appeared last Sunday. Collector's handmade volumes combine art, literature. The article featured Columbus area resident Marcia Preston and showed several b/w photos of the beautiful handmade books from her collection. I've not seen many handmade books, but the subject is becoming more appealing to me . . . in fact, it's becoming so directly proportional to the speed at which I'm producing books (print on demand and all that) for clients, though most folks do prefer excellence over fast.
Ms. Preston's home is described as a "Bibliophile's Wonderland"! Oh, that sounds heavenly. Eichenberger goes on to quote the head of rare books and manuscripts for Ohio State University libraries' Geoffrey Smith (there's a neat job) as attributing Ms. Preston's good collection to her "good taste."
Well, you can read the article for yourself, but I was so excited when I did a search online for the work of an artist recently shown at the Columbus Museum of Art, Nancy Rexworth. (The link is to another gallery, but shows examples of her work.) Well, when I did the search I found out that there is a book of her Diana-camera photos. Now, I know it's not the same thing; it's a rare book, a LE, but not an art book in the sense that Ms. Preston collects... but it was just one more beautiful button in the sweater that creates the sort of bookshelf Mr. Eichenberger quotes Cyril Connolly as preferring -- "a mass of guady variety." (How's that for using poor analogy for tying a whole line of thought together.)
To sum up: On a rainy Saturday; with good coffee, a bowl of fresh raspberries, and a sweet-smelling parrot on my shoulder . . . searching around for beautiful books is a nice respite from listening to the news.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Concert 7-14-04

Last night we went to see Barenaked Ladies in concert at Polaris. Nellie McKay did a few songs before, as well. I first heard her on NPR and ordered her CD the same day; that's how much I loved her unique voice.

I knew nothing about the Barenaked Ladies, that's how much of a cave I live in, but was so pleasantly surprised. The were fantastic. I had heard them on the radio, and not thought much about them. They sounded much better in concert, which might seem obvious, but not when you consider what I'm about to write in the next paragraph.

Oh yes, Alanis Morrisette was there, too. Sang mostly all songs that I heard in 1995. I'm determined to find the two notes on my piano that she focused on most of the night... It was nice of Barenaked Ladies to invite her along on their tour. gulp. ...

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Advice from '73

(Here I am in what I thought was a rather cute plaid cap, with braids, in front of a barn. No paints in sight, but I promise you, I did paint.)
One of the most unusual snippets of advice I've received came from a painting instructor, William Gerhold of Davis, West Virginia. Mr. Gerhold (and I call him "Mr" because at the time I was 17 and he was probably mid-forties) was a watercolorist living and working in West Virginia. I found his name in an issue of American Artist magazine, the only and first magazine that I subscribed to while in high school.

Every spring, early in the spring, the magazine would run various ads on painting workshops and getaways being held in the upcoming summer. Mr. Gerhold's sounded wonderful! His workshop was held in Cannan Valley State Park. I showed the ad to my parents, and they gave their consent (and $).

Paper, paints, and various supplies were purchased. Including a heavy wooden drawing board. I also had a smaller, lighter board that my dad must have made for me. I made a strap for it out of macrame. A popular activity for girls in 1973.

The camp was two weeks long. I'd never been away from home that long. My mother, I learned years later, struggled a bit with letting me go.

Well, to speed this story up, one day Dad and I piled into the family car and started on a seven-hour journey. This in itself was remarkable.

I wasn't what one would call "close" to my father. He scared me a bit, because I didn't understand him. I longed, at times, for him to be smiley, handsome, strong and happy. He was not though, not in the way I expected he should be. But, here he was, supporting the "girls-can-do-anything-boys-can-do" mentality. We eventually arrived in WV; I don't know anything about Dad's trip home.

There followed two weeks of living in a cabin with five others, one of two cabins. Painting every day. Critiques at night. An 18-year-old girl and I were the youngest attendees, by far.

Mr. Gerhold had a Jeep. He was the only person I'd known with a Jeep. All his painting things were in the back, he'd open the back and set up to paint. I think I've judged all vehicles owned as an adult against what I thought was the practicality of Mr. Gerhold's Jeep. Anyway, he drove us miles down a dirt road to an abandoned farm. Years later, the horrible wasp sting I received in the middle of nowhere (I'm allergic) has pretty much faded and I remember the sounds and smell and feel of that place.

I'm sure you're wondering about that helpful advice from Mr. Gerhold. The watercolor paper (D'Arches of course) was expensive -- just like now. It was intimidating looking at a big sheet of it; all white and perfect. The teachers advice was to deliberately dirty it up -- step on it, throw dirt on it -- splash paint on it. Get past the fear of screwing up -- then you can move on to create free of anxiety.

I have not thought of that advice for 31 years! But woke up yesterday morning thinking of it...

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Summer Breeze.....

Some days are bumpier than others; yesterday was a bumpy day ... a Monday sort of Wednesday; minor annoyances punctuated by true concerns such as learning a friend is ill. But how fortunate some of us are here in Central Ohio, that at the end of a bumpy day we can relax in a comfortable house, with a full stomach, a phone to call friends and family, the knowledge of a job the next day, the peace of children in good health. A dog, or two, to pet. Enough possessions to wonder where to put things. Enough of a yard to wonder when to weed things. Enough food to wonder when to cut back. In other words, a truly blessed life; a good life. A life for which to give thanks.

This morning, I opened the back door and I didn't notice the deck needing painting, the garden needing weeding, the neighbors' noisy windchimes, garage band, and young-teenage son who makes screeching noises from his front porch most mid-afternoons. I notice the most wonderful, cool, refreshing breeze. All windows thrown open, ceiling fans whirring, fresh air to breath. A nice cup of coffee. A new day. I am thankful for it all.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Little Brown Redemption

About a week ago I was driving along at a good clip on Rt. 22 between Lancaster and Washington Court House; the usual trip to visit my son. The sky was blue, the temperature gorgeous, the two dogs loving the ride . . . Car Talk was on NPR. It was great.

Ahead, a few birds gathered in the right lane, hovering over an unfortunate mammal. There was no time to swerve, and I'm not a swerver anyway. Not in a Chevy Venture Van. One small bird valiantly beat his wings to gain altitude, but his little body smacked into the front of my car faster than you can say "Click and Clack." If there's a word between "mortified" and "crestfallen" -- that's how I felt.

Yesterday was my chance for redemption.

My home is a two-story, 100-year-old house with a few really tall, towering trees right outside the windows. I thought, perhaps, a nest was nearby when at about 9 a.m. I went upstairs and heard loud cheeping coming from the direction of the bathroom. Keep in mind the upstairs bedroom a/c was on, all bedroom doors were closed, and a long narrow hallway leads to the bathroom.

With Gracie, my parrot, in hand, we approached the noise to investigate. As soon as we reached the bathroom . . . nothing. I looked at the floor, the sink, the top of the cabinet, the top of the counter in front of the window. Nothing. I opened the wooden shutters and looked at the tree outside the window. Nothing.

About noon, the above scenario repeated itself. "That is one loud birdie," I thought.

In the afternoon, Tyler (my Pekingese) and I went to the vet to discover that what he truly needed was 25 mg of Benadryl, which I had suspected all along. Not knowing the proper dose as I haven't had time to obtain my veterinary license, I hesitated to guesstimate. Anyway, he needed his nails done, a look-see by the vet and we got to meet a nice bulldog who had been rescued the day earlier. This poor dog, Darth Vadar, had claws so long that one had grown into its foot. Tyler was counting his blessings.

Anyway, upon returning home I went upstairs to freshen up and there it was again. I sneaked every so carefully to the bathroom and there on the bath mat was a little baby sparrow! All brown and downy and covered still with some nest-gunk. Oh boy!

How did that happen? The window has been closed for five days. Prior to that, it was opened with a screen in place. There is no access to the attic from the bathroom. There are no other rooms/doors near the bathroom and the bird cannot fly nor walk. There are no nests outside the window and there have been no big gusts of wind lately. There have been no eggs lying on my bathroom floor, ready to hatch.

Fast forward: I put him in a little cage . . . read up on the Internet (don't ask about the photo of people eating sparrows, whole, in some foreign country...I am providing NO link to that!). . . called Wild Birds Unlimited in Columbus, and was referred to the Ohio Wildlife Center . . . fed him fine canned dog food (birdie baby food does not have enough protein, I learned) with a syringe . . . tried not to bond with him . . . and made plans to take him to Dublin in the morning. I fed him about six times and he seemed to be doing well. Having had baby parakeets and a baby Goffin's cockatoo, I knew how to syringe feed a baby bird.

Alas, this morning when I approached the cage, no little cheep to greet me. The sweet creature was dead . . . his little feet pointing heavenward.

How can this be? I'd done the best I could. I'd tried really hard and he'd been doing so well the night before. He was my chance to make up for every little animal I'd never been able to save . . . the squirrel I ran over when my kids were little. I was too tired and harried to turn around and see if I could help him, and my son has never forgotten my behavior that day. The little bird on the side of our house a month ago who fell out of a nest and was near where the neighbor's cat hangs out. I tried to catch him to put him in a safer place, but he ran under the house, probably right into the cat's mouth. The children listed online who need homes! The dogs and cats and birds and small furry things at Petfinder! The old people! The Hospice Patients! Somehow, by keeping one little bird alive and transporting it to specialists at the Wildlife Rescue Center, I was going to prove that I had tuned into my inner Pocohontas and cast off the difference between other species and me. I would be the sparrow whisperer! It's all about me, isn't it?

Well, no, of course it's not. There's a bigger picture here and I have trouble seeing it. Birds live, but some don't. People live, but some don't. Everything dies and as an artist and editor, I don't have much power to save a life.

I want to though. I want to save those girls being raped in Sudan, the people in Rwanda, the estimated 1.5 million Iraqi orphans, the Afghanistan teenage girls, the people exported as slaves. How can I do anything when I can't even save a little sparrow? It seems like a tall order, and yet once again I find myself getting in the way of the bigger picture.

Perhaps the really impressive thing about people who do save lives, the Mother Theresas of the world, is not that they do it, but that they have figured out how to get themselves out of the way. Celia Taylor reports: "Mother Theresa once said, "We can do no great things; just small things with great love."

Perhaps that's the lesson for me here... But the mystery remains... How did that sparrow end up on my bath mat?

Friday, July 02, 2004

4th of July

Happy Fourth of July! We're spending today with all manner of zoo creatures at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. Haven't been there for many many many years and am really looking forward to it. Especially the African Grey Parrots in the African Forest and the Tropical Aviary and Lorikeets in the Australian section. If only the Pionus were featured somewhere in the zoo (perhaps they are!), it would be perfect.

Going to be 87 today in Columbus... But I'll try not to notice.

Tomorrow, will celebrate living in the best country in the world (well, one of the best... I think Canada is pretty swell and the UK is right up there as well and France and Italy sound nice...)... well, as Bridget Jones would say, "one of the top thirty..." It's been the best for me, and looking at the other possible places fate could have landed me a life in, I will be forever thankful.

So, tomorrow, in this small Ohio town, there will be a parade down Main Street and fireworks set off of the cliffs of standing stone... The smell of lighter fluid will permeate our neighborhood; dogs will bark; kids will be riding their bikes with red-white-and-blue streamers woven through the spokes of small tires. I'll be wearing red earrings and drinking coca cola.

Have a great holiday weekend!