Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Gettysburg revisited

This Memorial Day a classmate of my husband spoke at Gettysburg National Cemetery, at the request of the citizens of Gettysburg. When Lincoln spoke there 144 years ago during the dedication of "The Soldiers National Cemetery," he was not the featured speaker. Lincoln's "few appropriate remarks" followed the two-hour oratory of famed statesman Edward Everett. Lincoln reminded his listeners about the sacrifice and legacy of "these honored dead..." who fought through armed conflict and contradictory ideas to uphold our system of government, an imperfect but vigorous system which then and now needs our protection. In his speech on Monday, MG (Ret) Robert Scales spoke of another kind of legacy, one developed by the "band of brothers" who address themselves directly to the terrible odds of war.

In the midst of another war that seems very far away to those not directly involved, I thought Bob Scales' speech might provide me a relevant insight into how my own son might be feeling in Baghdad today. Coincidentally, a set of emails from the Yahoo group of ladies attending Creative Escape this September included a "getting to know you" questionnaire whose subject, Memorial Day weekend activities, provided a glimpse into how few of us citizens know anyone currently on active military duty. Then another email, from a Statistical Source researcher, highlighted the very strange post-Vietnam phenomenon documented by two recent Census counts:

• 2,709,918 + 358 (erroneously omitted at first) Americans served in uniform in Vietnam.
• During the 1995 Census count,
1,713,823 of those who served in Vietnam were still alive.
• During that same Census,
9,492,958 Americans falsely claimed to have served in-country.
• The Census of August 2000 estimates that
1,002,511 Vietnam veterans were still alive.
• Nonetheless, in the 2000 Census, the number of Americans falsely claiming to have served in-country had risen to
13,853,027. By this census, the vast majority of those who claim to be Vietnam veterans are not.

Is this amazing to you, too? What can explain this phenomena, besides our national craving for attention and for being politically correct (as the view from our side of the fence sees it)? If you read Bob Scales' speech, which I've reprinted below, we may share some insight into the strong bond within a "band of brothers", a bond also coveted by those who would join the campfire without going through the fire. I know it's a long read, but I hope you'll find it an interesting point of view:

"Coming here [to Gettysburg] never gets old. It never becomes tiresome. It never fails to excite a passion or raise my spirit. To those who have never seen war, surely emotions like these seem strange indeed. Some of our citizens who hear old soldiers like me talk about a love for a battlefield conclude that we love war. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

"Part of my love for this place is personal. A distant relative, Colonel Alfred M. Scales, was seriously wounded leading Scales North Carolina Brigade up Seminary Ridge on the first day of the battle. Another reason I venerate this place is because it is a soldier’s laboratory and a place to learn the art of war. We soldiers practice our profession only infrequently so we rely on past battles to teach us about the future. Even though Gettysburg was fought using weapons that seem primitive to young soldiers, the lessons it teaches about leadership and courage and intellect are immutable. We are learning again in Iraq and Afghanistan that war is not a test of technology -- it is a test of the collective will and talents of soldiers, and the nature and character of that test will never change.

"Another reason why this place attracts me is because all of what you see around you is so close to home. This was America's war from both sides, fought on ground that is so familiar and recognizable. It was the first war fought in which most soldiers were literate and, thanks to the recent invention of photography, so recognizable. When you go to the visitors center, look into the eyes of the young soldiers staring at you from across the century and you’ll see a reflection of yourselves.

"But I’m drawn here mainly to relive and revive in my own soul the unique influences that brought young soldiers here to fight and die a century and a half ago. Again and again, it’s the same old question from politicians and media who today have the rare privilege of watching soldiers in action in Iraq and Afghanistan: why is their morale so high? Don’t they know the American people are fed up with this war? Don’t they know it’s going badly? Often they come to me incredulous about what they perceive as a misspent sense of patriotism and loyalty.

"I tell them time and again what every one of you sitting here today, those of you who have seen the face of death in war, understand: it’s not really about loyalty. It’s not about a belief in some abstract notion concerning war aims or national strategy. It’s not even about winning or losing. On that fateful evening on the last day of June 1863, soldiers weren’t sitting around campfires in Cashtown or Emmittsburg roasting coffee and frying bacon to discuss the latest pronouncements from Lincoln or Jefferson Davis. They might have trusted their leaders or maybe they didn’t. They might have been well informed and passionate about their cause or maybe not. They might have joined the colors to end slavery or restore the Union, or maybe they just were shanghaied on the docks in Brooklyn or Manhattan.

"Before battle, young soldiers then and now think about their buddies. They talk about families, wives and girlfriends and relate to each other through very personal confessions. The armies that met at Gettysburg were not from the social elite. They didn’t have Harvard degrees or the pedigree of political bluebloods. They were in large measure immigrant Irish or German kids from northern farms and factories or poor scratch farmers from the piedmont of Virginia, Georgia, Texas and North Carolina. Just as in Iraq today, soldiers then came from every corner of our country to meet in harsh and forbidding places in far corners of the world, places that I’ve seen and visited but can never explain adequately to those who have never been there.

"Soldiers suffer, fight, and occasionally die for each other. It’s as simple as that. What brought Longstreet’s or Hancock’s men to face the canister on Little Round Top or rifled musket fire on Cemetery Ridge was no different than the motive force that compels young soldiers today to kick open a door in Ramadi with the expectation that what lies on the other side is either an innocent huddling with a child in her arms or a fanatic insurgent yearning to buy his ticket to eternity by killing the infidel. No difference.

"A civil war soldier was often lured from the slums of New York or Philadelphia and coerced into the Army by promise of a 300 dollar bonus and 25 dollars a month. Patriotism and a paycheck may get a soldier into the Army, but fear of letting his buddies down gets a soldier to do something that might just as well get him killed.

"What makes a person successful in America today is a far cry from what would have made him a success in the minds of those who we honor here today. Big bucks gained in law or real estate, or big deals closed in the stock market make some of our countrymen rich. But as they grow older, they realize that they have no buddies. There is no one who they are willing to die for or who is willing to die for them.

"This brings me to a last point of history before I close today. The Anglo-Saxon heritage of buddy loyalty has been long and frightfully won. Almost six hundred years ago the English king, Henry V, waited on a cold and muddy battlefield to face a French army many times his size. Shakespeare captured the ethos of that moment in his play Henry V. To be sure, Shakespeare wasn't there, but he was there in spirit because he understood the emotions that gripped and the bonds that brought together both king and soldier. Henry didn't talk about national strategy. He didn't try to justify faulty intelligence or ill-formed command decisions that put his soldiers at such a terrible disadvantage. Instead, he talked about what made English soldiers fight and what in all probability would allow them to prevail the next day against terrible odds. Remember, this is a monarch talking to his men:

This story shall the good man teach his son;
From this day ending to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered:
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he today that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother;
And gentlemen in England [or America] now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhood's cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.

"You all here assembled inherit the spirit of St Crispin's day. You know and understand the strength of comfort that those whom you protect, those in America now abed, will never know. You will live a life a self-awareness and personal satisfaction that those who watched you from afar in this country who "hold their manhood cheap" can only envy.

"I don't care that virtually all of America is at the Mall rather than at this memorial today. It doesn't bother me that war is an image that America would rather ignore. It's enough for me to have the privilege to be among you. It's sufficient to talk to each of you about things we have seen and kinships we have shared in the tough and heartless crucible of war.

"Some day we will all join those who are resting here. Over a campfire of boiling coffee and frying bacon, you will join with your Civil War band of brothers to recount the experience of serving something greater than yourselves. I believe in my very soul that the Almighty reserves a corner of heaven, probably around an inextinguishable campfire, where someday we can meet and embrace -- all of the band of brothers throughout the ages -- to tell our stories while envious standers-by watch and wonder how horrific and incendiary the crucible of violence must have been to bring such a disparate assemblage so close to the hand of God.

"Until we meet there, thank you for your service, thank you for your sacrifice of so many little easy things as well as the large, God bless you all and God bless this great nation...."

Thursday, May 24, 2007

new spelled out

Check out these NEW letters for the front display wall in Scrapbooks Plus where the newest products coming to the store are featured. The store now carries these solid MDF letters, about 11" tall, with an attractive white finish that is fun to embellish with your choice of papers, ribbons and rub-ons, as I did here.

Noteworthy in this color scheme are several double-sided papers from the Signature Life line, plus a Kelly Panacci pink stripe and a Très Jolie orangy stripe. Embellishments include American Crafts ribbons, Prima flowers, MME Rub-ons, plus bling crystals, tags, black marker, and distressing ink.

Enjoy spicing up your scrapbooking space by mounting embellished words of encouragement on your wall. Fairly lightweight for their size, you can enlist your child's help to decorate her name in her favorite colors for her room.

Why not incorporate the birthday child's monogram into the party table centerpiece, and give each child at the party his own initial to personalize and take home?

Monday, May 21, 2007

carol wingert classes june 22-23

Just in case you aren't already signed up for Carol Wingert's classes at Scrapbooks Plus in Chantilly, VA, on June 22-23, here's a photo sampling of her wonderfully adventurous class projects. (She's also teaching the first of these classes at Scrapbooks Etc in Phoenix AZ before coming here, so we're expecting some great stories, too!)

On June 22, Friday afternoon (1:00-4:30 pm), she'll present "Remember the Time When..." as a mini tag book. How many times have you started a sentence with those words? Creating this mini tag book is a great way to compile that list of those memorable times you'd like to remember about someone special (maybe even for Dad? look at those colors!). If you’ve been wondering what all the buzz is about beeswax, this is your chance to find out; Carol will have you playing with lots of melted wax and crayons, a la Tim Holtz, to create great texture and colorations. This book will make an intriguing gift to highlight that special person in your life, or a great little keepsake of your treasured memories.

On June 23, Saturday morning (10 am-1:30 pm), Carol will present "You Matter to Me," a mini book project to celebrate the special people in your life -- people whom you can totally count on, who listen to you, who share your passions in life and support you when you need it. Based on the new Amy Butler papers and Heidi Grace papers, ribbons, flowers and chipboard, all tucked into a Maya Road scalloped book, this artful mini book would make an awesome gift or add to your own cherished keepsake library.

Carol's third class, on Saturday afternoon, June 23 (2-5 pm), is "Two Sides to Every Story," a fun opportunity to record both sides of any relationship.

In this class, Carol will have you creating a dimensional, two-sided accordion book – a “he said, she said” story, a contrast between children or pets, the differences and similarities between two families, or just an extra special way to record an event, your travels, or a chronology such as school pictures. We will learn some basic bookmaking techniques such as creating great looking, professional covers and some basic stitching, then we’ll add wonderful papers in black and ivory, and finally, play with transparent embellishments that you can use to accent your stories.

Carol is a great down-to-earth teacher who will answer all your questions about her techniques and embellishments, tell you where she gets things, and encourage you to do your own version of whatever she's presenting. "One of the things I love so much about teaching a group of women . . . is that they aren't afraid to take the ideas I present and springboard them into something of their own. Love that!"

Carol's classes have been expanded to 25 slots, so there is still room to sign up. Since this is the same weekend in June as GASC, many of you are choosing to do both, moving back and forth between crops and classes at both nearby places. Scrapbooks Plus is only minutes away from Dulles Expo Center and a great source for your scrapbooking supplies, with 4000 square feet for a wide selection of all things scrapbook-related. Go to their website for a handy 40% discount coupon on Wednesdays.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

the beehive in boston

The Beehive is a new night spot in Boston that is generating a lot of press, even before opening night. Boston Common Spring 2007 featured our son Bill, his wife and his two partners (pictured standing in the developing site) as the "dream team behind the Beehive buzz." Stuff@Night Players Issue 2007 counted them as players who are "making Boston nightlife click." Der Spiegel and other foreign press are visiting this weekend to review this new hot spot that many hope will resurrect the old Jazz Workshop at Copley Square where Nina Simone and Miles Davis hung out.

Boston's Center for the Arts leased out the vacant old boiler room site in the South End, at the other end of the block from their Cyclorama, expressly wanting Bill's team to develop a new young energy in the neighborhood. Bill's vision behind all his lengthy reconstruction and reconfiguration led to this eclectic 2-story basement restaurant that kept the old brick curved walls -- and removed a lot else. (The name "Beehive" is a literal translation of La Ruche, a vaguely circular building in the Montparnasse Quarter of Paris rebuilt in the 1920s as a gathering place for starving artists and poets.) With funky crystal chandeliers, bohemian wall hangings, French cafe seating, and a state-of-the-art sound system, it's an eclectic but still coherent version of a neighborhood restaurant. The bars are constructed of recycled bits and pieces of local Boston. The doors to the wine garden (opening this summer) were salvaged from a local theater. Bill's wife Jennifer is handling the lawyer details and helped hire the artists who have added their works, including for the restrooms which are also wonderfully inventive.

My husband and I just returned from attending The Beehive's high-energy rehearsal openings, scheduled to let Bill's two other partners do their test runs for the bars, kitchen, and stage. Tonight, May 17th, The Beehive officially opens to the public, with bistro fare, two bars with some of the hippest bartenders in Boston, art by real local artists on the walls, and its main attraction: live jazz (legit Berklee jazzers plus a huge rotating guest roster) every night on the stage visible from various levels in the restaurant. Whenever you're in Boston, you're invited for dinner and live entertainment!! 541 Tremont Street, 617-423-0069 (http://www.beehiveboston.com/).


Monday, May 14, 2007

tim holtz at savage mill

After braving two hours of Friday morning beltway rush-hour traffic to drive from Fairfax VA to Savage Mill MD, I breathlessly arrived just before the 9 am class time for the first of Tim Holtz's 2-day marathon of six classes at The Queen's Ink. Two good things to report about his classes: he brings everything you need, from tools to ephemera, and he gauges his class times well enough that you can actually finish your projects. Two more good things: he's funny but organized, and he doesn't take any guff from ladies who claim "this just doesn't move me today."

These classes used his many products for Ranger but also showcased his talent for shopping for ephemera on ebay. From light bulbs to outdoor faucet handles, he combined a range of repurposed hardware with paints, inks, beeswax and so on. He's holding his "Artful Hand" project above . . . and mine below. The articulated hand is covered with sewing pattern tissue, inked, gelled and embellished front and back "just for art's sake." Notice how firmly my "artful hand" holds a compass between thumb and forefinger, a reflection of my tendency to wander from the straight and narrow. Tim's left hand covers my red car hanging precariously at the wrist. Serendipitously, my assortment also included the tiles U and R and the bingo ball 62, so I went with the inevitable down the palm. Otherwise, my hand's expression is tame compared to other more boisterous ladies' poses. Tim said he's been given the finger too many times to count.

"Tryptich Doorways" was another assemblage class, with canvas backgrounds painted with dabbers, or covered with dictionary pages and stripped and painted, or painted and waxed and stripped. His project featured a handsome blue waxed door on the left. My doorways have not yet received their final embellishments; this was the last class and needed a Starbucks infusion. But I did enjoy painting red whatever I could: doors, faucet handle, cork, spring . . .

One more class project to share, below, features an inked canvas with beeswax, mica, random "poetry" and butterfly wings. Oh, and my usual cocked crown. Crowns, magnifying glasses, watches, bottles and keys also appeared in the pendant class and the industrial class, both of which featured several smaller items. All in all, I brought home a lot of "junk" -- all of it artfully composed, of course. Tim's advice when husbands ask, "What's that for", is to reply "It's for art's sake." Don'tcha know?

Thursday, May 10, 2007

roll the dice red

I like the idea of just jumping in, making something good happen regardless of the odds. We all have talents and strengths that we can use to make positive things happen in our lives. On Tuesday a client and I were discussing the difference between character traits like stubbornness and perserverance. What is the difference? Success. Success at what you're trying to accomplish. If you are getting in your own way, then you're being stubborn. If you are making your own way, then you're perservering. I also like the idea that luck happens to those who are prepared. If you are working hard to use your talents generously, and letting faith in yourself illuminate your path so you see the opportunity around the corner, you're already lucky. With all that I've learned by just sticking my neck out a little this past year and perservering, I feel very lucky. Of course, it doesn't hurt if you have BIG red dice.

Note: These dice were among my purchases this weekend in the small neighboring town of Phoebus, VA, which has about two downtown streets, one of which is mostly antique shops. Phoebus is hoping to be revitalized as a small artsy-craftsy outreach from Hampton.

Monday, May 07, 2007

heart and soul refreshed

After attending several full workaholic workshop days at Art & Soul in Hampton, VA, and then teaching at SP all day Sunday, I knew the demands of sleep would have to be met (eventually :>). One of my sweet students (thanks, Karen!) even took a break to drive to the shopping center to get me a diet Coke to make sure I kept up the pace yesterday. Now almost rested, I'm taking today off to happily and quietly sit in my small studio space, working on a client's scrapbook as a wedding gift to her friend. Haven't even unpacked my brand-new metal-working tools (I repeat: I need much more studio space), but I'm delighted to report that I also have some brand-new skills in wire and metal and stone jewelry. That's dear comfortable Nina Bagley above, demonstrating her famous "Nina knot" for jewelry attachments in her "sticks and stones" class. Below is my tablemate's supply box of attachments, which I covet. Sorry, don't have any photos of me using my new Dremel drill, but you would have been amused. I know this because the rest of the class was amused. Those stones so fastidiously collected will never be the same.

Neither will Susan Lenart Kazmer, whose "non-traditional forms in jewelry" class wore out my fingers and whose class supply shop I raided. She didn't expect a novice in her class, but she clapped loudest for me at the end-of-class show-and-tell. I've learned a new way to frame a journal -- not just paper anymore, but resin pages, rebar framing, wire joins, and oxidized coloring. This in-progress photo shows my basic framing joins and hinges, but not the added embellishments and resin pages. The young man in the class, looking over my shoulder, said he liked my joins. Next, I'm looking forward to Susan's new book coming out in June, now that I have some clue what she might be talking about.

The short evening classes were fun, too, so maybe I'll be adding to my upcoming Scrapping Techniques class at Scrapbooks Plus.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

art and soul

Packing up my tools for a little jaunt south to Hampton, VA, to take some classes at Art and Soul for a few days. Stretching a little from my recent paper-based scrapping efforts, and hoping to find that some of my past sculpture training will come in handy. Remembering fondly the sculpture studios at RISD, in London, Beirut, and Helsinki, although all of that was serious stuff. This week is purely for fun and much more modest in scale, but still sort of 3-D. So lucky! So ready!