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Dear Readers,

The featured story in this July/August issue is the making of one of the most successful and beloved miniseries in the history of television. The Thorn Birds. Over a period of several months, we have searched for, contacted, interviewed, and collected memorabilia from all the principal people involved in the creation of this marvelous production. I have to say it was a joy to do, and I truly mean that. Everyone I  met and spoke with along the way was so wonderful, so giving of his or her time -- it was an exceptional experience. I had the honor to speak with David L. Wolper, one of the preeminent television and motion picture executive producers in the business. Wolper, along with Stan Margulies, the producer of The Thorn Birds, brought us Roots, a miniseries that raised Americans’ social consciousness more than any other television event. I had the pleasure to interview the director, Daryl Duke, the writer Carmen Culver, and the director of photography Bill Butler, all of whom brought the book to life. I then was fortunate to find Donna Roberts and Tom Dawson, the costume designers who worked with Travilla, one of the most famous of the "old-time" Hollywood designers. Probably no other designer created more costumes for Monroe than Travilla, and he also dressed many other lady legends of Hollywood, such as Loretta Young and Marlene Dietrich. Travilla passed away in 1990, but I was able to interview his long-time business partner Bill Sarris.

Everyone’s participation has enabled us to provide you with the documentation of a great moment in television history. I thank them all once again.

I chose The Thorn Birds many months ago, because it is a story that contains a dress, the shade of which is described as ashes of roses, a pink mauve. I remember for years after seeing the miniseries, my mother and I would go shopping together, and if either of us saw a piece of clothing that was a color similar to this pink mauve, we would both look at each other and say, "ashes of roses." When I reread the book for the article, I realized the dress wasn’t just a pivotal plot device; it is the dress the heroine Meggie Cleary is wearing when she first blossoms into womanhood, and the priest Father de Bricassart, whom she has adored since childhood, falls in love with her. As a woman. The shade of the dress is also a metaphor for the theme of the book: the mortality of love, youth, hope, men and women.

I was thinking about the common denominator in our four major stories this issue, and I think they share a theme of what I would call a woman’s lifescape. A combination of the imprint of the landscape of our early years, and the life experiences, both joyous and full of grief, that shape you. A lifescape. In the case of The Thorn Birds, it is the epic life’s journey of Meggie Cleary, living in the Australian Outback, loving a man she could never have, and the great pleasure and loss that accompanies that love. Designer Jill Anderson’s creative odyssey from a remote farm in North Dakota, to New York to study and work in fashion, and then marrying and moving to Greece. In Athens, Jill discovers what she loves best, creating the visions and working with her clients. Realizing that the marriage is over, Jill picks up and returns to New York to start all over again. For jewelry designer Rebecca Rockefeller, living amid the beauty of the islands, water and mountains around Seattle, loving the environment, marrying young, and exploring the world. Returning to Seattle, Rebecca decides to leave her marriage, and begins to fuse all her experiences and her artistic gifts to become what she wanted to be. Singer/songwriter Lucie Idlout, born a breath away from the Arctic Circle, grew up in urban southern Canada. Musically inclined from childhood, it was her first love who introduced her to the guitar and poetry. Feeling a city environment could not fulfill her, Lucie decided to come back to the frontier town where she was born. The eternal returning. All four women share a compassion for other women, and have an intuitive and loving understanding of the struggles and satisfactions that come with being a woman.

All these experiences, both the happy and the unhappy, are in the end good. They bring you to the moment that is now, and hopefully in the present you are satisfied with yourself. If changes need to be made – make them – even if in small ways. Take a course in human genetics, Provencal cooking, learn Japanese, or anything else you’ve always wanted to know more about. Feeling that you are making choices for yourself, no matter how hard, will boost your confidence and will increase your faith in your ability to endure.

I am writing this draft to you while sitting on a bench in Central Park on a lovely clear day. I’ve known this park all my life, and its beautiful, solid, constancy is reassuring. It is nice to see people, young and old, taking the time to run, bike, rollerblade, read a book, talk, or just sit. Being here reminds me of my lifescape.

I hope you enjoy the issue, this issue of women and their "journeys." Also, don’t forget Kathy Martinez’s Top 5 Picks. Aside from the usual three stores, she fixes her expert eye on Bebe and Country Road. And there is Diane Hardin’s chock-full-of-fun info in her Buying Beauty column.

We have been growing in leaps and bounds -- June was incredible. We are delighted with the reception we have received. We also welcome our many, many new registrants, and we are thrilled that you have joined us.

Have a wonderful summer; take inspiration from the 4th of July.  Declare your independence from the thoughts and circumstances that bring you down. I’ll be thinking about you all, working, relaxing, and traveling -- all over the world.

Paintings by Dee Bandini
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