Friday, September 26, 2008

Galveston, Oh Galveston

I don't think I could have stayed in Houston for very long were it not for Galveston and other coastal areas nearby. I need to know the ocean is near, even if I can't get there regularly. I guess it's due to growing up on Long Island, New York. All through my childhood, other than visits to cousins in Brooklyn, our getaways involved the sand and shore. I went to Blue Bay Girl Scout Camp on Gardiner's Bay in East Hampton. Best of all, I spend many weekends and vacations in Sag Harbor, because I was frequently and generously invited along by my friend Susan and her parents, who had a summer house there. We spent whole days on the beach and I learned how to water ski (successfully getting up on skis the very first time is still an empowering memory). When I was 16 and got my Driver's License, the furthest I was allowed to go in the family car was Jones Beach. Remembering Jones Beach brings back the tang of salt, coconut oil and grilled hot dogs. Now when I visit New York, I love going to Jones Beach even if it's just to walk the boardwalk.

Hurricane Ike took Galveston down, but not out. Galveston is a survivor. It rebuilt after the Great Storm of 1900, after hurricane Carla and many other storms. There was a photo in the Houston Chronicle last week which personified the city's survivor spirit. Gaidos, a historic seafood restaurant on the Seawall, had its roof damaged by Ike. But they set up tables outside the restaurant, dressed them in white tablecloths, and served a shrimp dinner to the first responders. That photo made me proud. We will be going back to Galveston and Gaidos ourselves as soon as the "All clear" is given......

On a personal note, my house is still without electrical power following Ike. Thank goodness for libraries. I've begun to catch back up electronically. I enjoyed some vacation days (what some call a "hurrication") following the storm, and settled into the rhythms of a slower, non-electrified life. We are using a lot of candles and eating simply. I have a new appreciation for daylight. And I got a lot done in my yard. But I have to admit I'm ready to more fully return to the 21st Century. We've been told we should have power by Sunday.

Also I must note I've passed the one year mark as a blogger. 9-22-08 was my first Blogaversary. I am grateful for this opportunity to write as a "Lone Star Librarian". Blogs seem to me to be the ultimate democratic journalistic form. No editor! Free and clear! We can live without such electronic marvels but hey, who wants to? I'm hooked, and hope to continue blogging in one form or another forevermore.

photo: Galveston waters by KAO

Friday, September 19, 2008

Society's Child: My Autobiography by Janis Ian

Janis Ian has written a wonderful autobiography aptly named for her infamous mega-hit song, "Society's Child". She was only 15 when she recorded the song, and it shocked America with its subject matter of inter-racial dating. I was a teenager then myself (this was mid-1960s) and remember playing the plaintive 45 single over and over on my phonograph player. It was very inspiring to see a teenager rise up that way.

Many people may think of Ian as a one hit wonder. I knew there was more to her than that, such as the song "At Seventeen". But after reading this book, I am more fully clued into her extensive output as a songwriter. For example, the song "Jesse", was written by Janis Ian. I've always loved Joan Baez's version of "Jesse". During many of the decades since she burst onto the music scene, Ian was more popular in Europe than America and I feel like I lost track of her. Yet she was one of the first musicians to migrate to the MP3/Itunes format, and is still a very active songwriter and performer.

What I most like about reading biographies of artists of any kind is seeing how their life influences their art, and what kinds of struggles they go through to be true to their creativity. The genesis of the song, "Society's Child", for instance - all it took was the sight of an interracial couple on a bus for her creative powers to go to work and write the song. As Ian's life went on, she experienced many difficult health, familial and personal crises which became touch points for her songs.

P. S. Due to hurricane Ike, I have been out of touch electronically. This post is written in haste. I enjoyed reading Society's Child by candlelight during the storm, but now the power is back at the library and we've got plenty of catching up to do. (We still don't have power at home, and think we may be without it for at least a few more days.) I am grateful the hurricane left my family and friends relatively unscathed. Some of the other branches of HCPL, particularly the one in Seabrook, were damaged enough that they have not reopened. Stay tuned....

For further info about Janis Ian, see

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Joy of Color

"Color is joy. One does not think color. One is carried by it." - Ernst Haas, photographer.

I have always been interested in color. Mother Nature speaks in so many colors. I'm thinking of sunsets, gems, flowers and feathers, tropical fish, seashells and heather. I remember flying in to the Shannon Airport in Ireland. I was so struck by what I saw out the plane window -- on the hills and cliffs below, there were so many shades of green (an oft repeated cliche about Ireland, I know, but so true)! I remember how thrilled I was with a bicycle I owned as a child because no one else had quite the same color, a frosty metallic but muted gold. I remember when purple was a relatively rare color; you really didn't see it much in clothing or furnishings. Purple was for royalty! Now it is a hugely popular color and I am one of its fans.

My husband and I share the same favorite color: blue. We hold that in common with a majority of American people. Blue is the most favorite color of both men and women in a number of studies I've seen. A Crayola Color Census backs me up on this: two shades of blue are its top ranked colors, followed by purple. As we age, we move towards the blue and violet end of the rainbow as far as color preferences. Kids prefer red, orange and yellow.

In pursuit of further enlightenment about color, I gave myself an online tour and found the following sites worth sharing.

For a basic tutorial on color, see the website. It has good graphics displaying color concepts such as saturation, contrast, dominance, shades and tints, etc.

At, if you join you can download all kinds of palettes and patterns created by its some of its 131,632 users.

PrincetonOnline brings together an interesting collection of summaries and links about color symbolism. It led me to some pages of color tests. For a right brain/left brain color exercise, try this quiz. It is also fun to take this color palette test, although I totally disagreed with its analysis of my tastes.

I learned there is a Color Association, a group which forecasts color palettes for fashion and interior design. They also offer a newsletter which I'd like to try.

"I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn't say any other way - things I had no words for." - Georgia O'Keeffe

photo by KAO - Galveston Sunset