July 13, 2012

THURBER HOUSE -- The Good, The Bad and The Giveaway

There is a fun giveaway at the end of this blog post.

Waking up Friday the 13th in a slightly haunted third floor apartment at the Thurber House should have given me a case of the shivers.

How could I be scared, though, when I woke up to THIS?  (Thank you John Schu and Deb Tyo for being two amazing, generous human beings, who do everything and anything to get good books into kids' hands!)

I can't believe I have only one more week at the Thurber House!

Thurber House in Columbus, Ohio

When I first read about the Thurber House on Lisa Yee's blog, I thought it would be perfect, except . . . how could I live without my family and friends for a whole month?

I looked to author Cynthia Lord for inspiration.  She travels in and out of the country for book-related visits and events.  She recently visited Russia for a week!  She's nervous, of course, but said the worry lasts only a week or so, but the memories last a lifetime.

Last week, when I told Cynthia that a photo op with Frog and Toad reminded me of her beautiful book, Rules, and that I was being brave in Columbus, she replied:  "As Frog says, 'I'm glad to know a brave friend like you, Toad.'"

Frog and Toad and me at the Northwest Worthington Library

Believe me, the day I arrived, when I was finally alone, I cried buckets, missing my family and friends and these guys . . .

Teddy and the apparently offensive pink sheep

Benji -- aka, Butthead
Jaz, our twenty-year-old cat

My friend, former Children's-Writer-in-Residence, Alan Silberberg, offered lots of great advice, including this gem:  "Enjoy the campers - they seldom ever bite!"

He was right!

Some of my best times here were working with the kids (and their counselors).  What great writers!

Can you see the camper who made a writing cave under the table, behind a chair?
How could I feel lonely when the lovely people here have done everything possible to make me feel welcomed and comfortable and happy?

Pat Shannon, who originally interviewed me for the residency, doesn't work at the Thurber House anymore, but she's been my buddy for the literary picnics, has taken me to the Columbus Zoo and tomorrow, we're heading to the Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens and out to lunch.

Pat Shannon
Meg Brown has been an absolute gem from the moment she picked me up at the airport.  She's been a friend from ice cream runs (Jenis and Graeter's) to being a sport and joining me for a boot camp at a the Columbus Commons.

Meg Brown

All the people who work at the Thurber House, are on the board here and who volunteer here have been INCREDIBLY NICE.

And I got to explore cool places, like the Ohio Theater, where the organ rises up onto the stage and Clark Wilson, who has been playing organ for the CAPA Summer Movie Series for 21 years, plays great tunes before the movie starts and during intermission.  (I saw "Breakfast at Tiffany's.")

Clark Wilson, playing the Mighty Morton pipe organ

Where else would I have seen an Okapi?  The Columbus Zoo was awesome.


When my hubby and son visited, we took in a zany July 4th tradition -- the Doo Dah Parade!  (Thanks to Thurber House Executive Director, Susanne Jaffe, for suggesting it.)

Standing on High Street, along with hundreds of others, we saw a dancing chicken . . .

And these people . . .

 pulling this pink jeep . . .

 With metal clamps hooked directly into the flesh of their backs . . .

While nothing could compare to the interesting sights and sounds at the Doo Dah Parade, Grandpa's Cheese Barn, on the way to Cleveland, was a close second . . .

Hubby and son, after consuming artery-clogging amounts of delicious cheese.

Had a blast at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame . . .

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (Son and I had to extract Hubby from there with the Jaws of Life.  He loved it!)

Hubby and guitar.

Son and same guitar.

Back in Columbus, I enjoyed the Columbus Museum of Art (free on Sundays), the German Village and Schiller Park, the Columbus Park of Roses, bike riding on the Olentangy Trail, visiting the Columbus Metropolitan Library . . .

Columbus Metropolitan Library

Visiting the massive Ohio State University campus and saw their newly renovated library . . .

A glass wall showcases floors and floors of bookshelves.

And I had the great pleasure of speaking at the Peggy R. McConnell Arts Center of Worthington last night, where Jack Gantos will be speaking next month.  (Thanks, Director John Cook, and especially to Clay for a fabulous dinner before the event.) 

Peggy R. McConnell Arts Center of Worthington

Am I happy that I was brave enough to leave my family and friends and come to Columbus to the Thurber House to be their Children's Writer-in-Residence?  YES!  I made new friends and had amazing experiences, like my 26-mile bike ride (because a board member was kind enough to lend me a bike).

If you're a children's book author of middle grade fiction and think the Thurber House Children's Writer-in-Residence program is for you, you can explore the opportunity for 2013 HERE.

My favorite parts of being here (outside of the wonderful campers and incredibly nice people I've met), are the Thurber House Literary Picnics, where at least 100 of your closest friends gather on the lawn for a great boxed dinner and a talk and reading by an author.

The last literary picnic starred the hilarious Mark Titus of Club Trillion fame. 

Mark Titus, reading from his new book DON'T PUT ME IN, COACH

Mark had the large audience in hysterics as he read from his R-rated, pee-in-your-pants funny new book, DON'T PUT ME IN, COACH:  MY INCREDIBLE NCAA JOURNEY FROM THE END OF THE BENCH TO THE END OF THE BENCH.

Afterward, I met Mark.  He's a sweetheart (and a major prankster) . . .

Mark Titus #34, with Donna #12-3/4

I had Mark sign two books . . .

Autographed copies of DON'T PUT ME IN, COACH

One is for my son because he LOVES basketball . . .

A crazy shot from our driveway that landed in the basket.  Swoosh!

The other autographed copy is for YOU, dear reader.  I mean, you deserve something for reading the longest post I've ever written in my five years of blogging!

Click the follow button to the right and leave a comment below.  Then check back in a week to see if your comment was randomly selected to win a copy of Mark's autographed new book.  (Addendum:  This giveaway has expired and the winner has been chosen.)



Maryann said...

WOW! I feel as if I were there experiencing all those cool places and meeting all those great people with you. Ohio, who knew. See you soon.

Becca Puglisi said...

I'd say you are incredibly brave for leaving your comfort zone and all the friendly faces behind for an entire month. It sounds like the gamble paid off and you've had some incredible adventures. Can't wait to see you at writing group!

Alison Ashley Formento said...

I think I'm already a follower since I get your blog posts. This post is awesome and thanks for all of the photos, too. I LOVE Thurber and have heard about this residency. It sounds like a fabulous writing time, not to mention a wonderful place to visit, too.

Nancy B-R said...

I can't believe only 1 more week. We miss you. Come home!!! I'm so glad you had this experience. Sounds like it has been a great adventure. See you soon. We'll have to meet for coffee and dessert to catch up.

Dan R. said...

In gradations
he inched
the length of the bench,
every game
he became
a new "Mark."

O, Pray . . .
a “Bench-Mark”, you say?
How funny,
how punny,
right on the money.

Wild About Words said...

Dan R., you really should consider becoming a writer, you wise, witty man.

Nancy, did I hear someone mention dessert? I'm in!

Alison, it has been a great experience.

Becca, can't wait to see you next Wednesday.

Maryann, see you soon, friend!

Deb said...

All in all, sounds like a very gratifying stay at the Thurber House. But enough already! Come home now, Donna. Your friends and fam miss you too much (especially me).

Anonymous said...

These kids are lucky to have you and we'll be glad to have you back!

Lisa Yee said...

Give my best to the ghost!

Laura Fournier said...

I'm impressed at all you've done in such a short time. Columbus sounds like a great place to visit. Look forward to seeing you soon.

Jeanne Epstein said...

I'm exhausted just reading about all you have done this past month! Wow!!! It takes a special person to leave their home, family and comfort level, and go for an exciting adventure doing what you love. This is definitely something you will remember and talk about for your entire life. Even if you weren't my best friend, I would be in awe of you. You have inspired me! Hope you continue to have a great time. Better go, because this comment is starting to get as long as your blog. Love you!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a great time, Donna! So glad you had the opportunity to do it.

Unknown said...

What a great experience! It sounds like you have been very busy and will probably need a rest when you get home!

Christina Wood said...

I'm so proud of you, Donna! Congrats on not just stepping but living outside of your comfort zone for a whole month. And for truly embracing the experience. If you drive by the Columbus School for Girls on your way out of town, see if you can see the marks I left on the wall when I climbed out!

Theresa Milstein said...

Sounds like a wonderful opportunity.