Saturday, April 13, 2019

Slave Stealers by Timothy Ballard

I have just completed reading a most incredible and inspirational book. It truly makes me want to be a better person. To “be the change” so to speak.

Slave Stealers

by Timothy Ballard

In this book, Timothy Ballard parallels stories of slave rescues in our nation’s history to slave rescue stories of today. Yes...slavery is alive and thriving in our world today. Just because we don’t see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. It is happening right in our nation and around the world. Ballard founded the organization called “Operation Underground Railroad.”  This organization has been instrumental in rescuing 100s of children and young people from the evil grip of the sex-trafficking industry. O.U.R is working, even as I type this blog post, to free even more.

This is a fascinating book because it appeals to both lovers of history and also to the human rights activists. I’m always enthralled by a good story. This one didn’t disappoint. While I have read about Harriet Jacobs before, this retelling cast new light on her story. Her courage and bravery (along with that of others like her) is awe inspiring. She was part of a cast of people who were instrumental in freeing black people from the cruelty and bondage of slavery in America. I love how the book flips back and forth between history and what is happening today in regard to freeing people from bondage. The stories Tim tells of the rescue missions that his team has taken on put me on the edge of my seat...not wanting to put the book down. I just had to read what would happen next.

I believe awareness is the place to start to lead to change. I have become more aware by reading this book. Awareness brings a sense of responsibility to help bring about change. The question remains as to what I will do with this awareness. My first step is to share this book with you and encourage you to read it.

Saturday, December 29, 2018


EDM Challenge #109: Draw a Clock You Have Around the House.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Where is that girl?

There is an artist inside me....but she is lost. I can’t find her anymore. There is also a pianist who is lost too. I can’t reach her and it makes me sad. There is a playful girl who laughed easily...and she is scarce. She was a girl who danced, played the piano constantly...often creating her own compositions. She dabbled in art work and only occasionally read a good book. There is someone inside of me who yearns to be more colorful and eccentric...but she has been imprisoned. That girl has colorful dishes, and interesting home furnishings..that bring smiles to people’s faces and generate discussion. She has a studio of her own...where she never is required to “put away” her stuff. It’s always out and beckoning her (and others) to sit down and play. On the walls of her studio, she has magazine clippings, a color pallet, photographs, and prints of inspirational artwork. There is music playing. The place is a bit cluttered...but in a fun and creative way.

I’ve never been described as eccentric, but a part of me always wanted to be. I was never brave enough to do it. Is it too late to find my more creative and colorful self?

This past year I committed to a book challenge of 100 books on Goodreads. The high number was chosen with the idea that some of these would include audiobooks. I did it! 45 listened to and 55 read. I succeeded...but at what cost? While I’m proud of that, the pressure to live up to the challenge was too great. I felt pressured to read or listen at almost every given free moment. I’m not doing that again. I sacrificed things I’m not willing to sacrifice again. I want to find that lost girl and maybe the list girl can fade a little more into the background.

I started missing that lost girl in the summertime. I bought oil paints to try to find her. She started to emerge a little bit, and then school started. Pride wouldn’t let me relinquish the book reading/listening challenge. It was just too much to keep at it. I’m not giving up though. I won’t. I’ve got to find that girl before she disappears entirely and forever.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

School Has Started

Now that school has started, I have not done any painting. Perhaps that will change once I get acclimated to my schedule. I’m not giving up on it. It is just delayed a bit.

I have come home most nights absolutely exhausted. It’s like I stumble through the front door, put my book bag down, set a timer on my phone for 40 minutes, and then collapse onto the couch and sleep. Dinners around here have been rather bleak, as I have little left to offer. The good news is that we are still eating!

Today I finished the last of 12 freshman orientation classes. Yes....I repeated the same presentation each time over the course of 4 days. I even repeated the same jokes. Today I was really growing weary of it. It’s especially hard if I have a non-responsive group of kids. That was the case today during first period. I would offer forth my joke to them and....nothing. Dead pan. Deer in the headlights. At least I had gotten a chuckle or two out of most groups, but this was a tough audience. Even the teacher told me that they are tough to work with because they are so quiet. My favorite group was one of the classes that came in yesterday. They were a riot and even laughed at my jokes. They answered when I asked them a question. A couple of the boys in the class were rather witty, but not disrespectful at all. That’s the kind of group that gives positive energy back to a teacher. They had me laughing. The other thing that makes a difference is the teacher. I have teachers that work with me and add their own dialogue to the presentation (and humor), which gives energy too. I also had another teacher who sat at a back table and just graded papers. Not much added energy there.

In all, I had 176 students come into the library today. The vast majority spent significant time in the library, but some just came in briefly to check out a book or to print something. I really love my job. I love my school. My administrators are really great. I like most of my coworkers (See...I’m honest). I really enjoy the students. I feel very blessed. (But tired too)

Sunday, July 29, 2018

You can look for me here

i have decided to document my progress with my art in a slightly new forum. A blog over at Wordpress. I tried it, and it seemed clumsy at first, but when I went to go publish pictures, it was so much easier than blogger!

I am not totally abandoning blogger, but I do really like Wordpress.

Here’s the address.

Come visit me!

Saturday, July 28, 2018

“You better get started”

I have been dabbling a bit in the oils. So feels very clumsy. Of course it does. It’s an entirely new medium. The thing is, I have to admit that I am a little used to immediate success with my art work. I have not felt successful yet. Oils have an entirely different set of rules than acrylics, watercolors, and colored pencils. I’m trying to get a feel for what they do right now.

I completely botched a painting of sunflowers that was just too overwhelming and complicated for me to start with. Luckily I find this tutorial on YouTube. Painting the good old Apple to start with. Of course! Rudimentary!

It comes complete with a link to a reference photo. I also found out through this young woman that there is such a thing as canvas paper. Much cheaper to learn on! You can also cut it up into smaller pieces for smaller studies. So I ran out to Michaels to purchase a pad of it. I’m ready to start again...except for it is almost 5:00 and that means I will run out to a party to celebrate the recent marriage of a friend’s daughter. Alas...another day!

Saturday, July 14, 2018

A New Endeavor

When I was. A little girl, I used to love to look at the oil paintings that my grandmother and her two sisters created. I would look and look...and dream. I already was aware that I had inherited the artistic talent that they all had. It had definitely been passed down to me. I promised myself that I would someday learn to paint with oils and do as well as they did. I had admired my father’s Aunt Harriet’s work in particular, as she had perfected oil painting the most. 

I planned to be an artist. Being an art major was what I was going to do. That all changed my senior year of high school. That was the year I was taking an AP art class (don’t laugh...the course exists and it isn’t for the faint-hearted). My teacher was not familiar with me from any years previous, because I was basically attending a brand new high school (We were the first graduating class...the school was formed after combining  2 previously separate high schools. This teacher had taught at the “other school”) I just couldn’t keep up with the demands and pace of the class. I was getting farther and farther behind. I finally had to drop the class, or fail it. I had talent, but I didn’t like being told what I had to paint. I also didn’t work well with tight deadlines. I painted and drew at a slow rather dreamy (some might say passive) pace. That’s just who I am.

Mr. Stevens sat with me and agreed that I needed to drop the class. He basically told me that I didn’t really have what it took to pursue art as a career. I remember that during class he mostly talked about art majors becoming commercial artists. That was where the living was made. The goal was to get a lucrative career. I totally agree that I did not really have what it took to become a commercial artist. Commercial Artists have very high demands on their time and mostly have to cater to the desires, tastes and whims of their clients. Mainly, the art is created with the goal of advertising. To be fair to Mr. Stevens, I remember him saying that keeping art as a hobby was something I should do. However, at 17 years of age, I was basically shattered. All I heard was failure. All of my goals came crumbling down to the ground. I had very high marks in mathematics. I picked myself up, dusted myself off and decided I would become a math teacher. (A very poor fit, as it turned out)

Looking back, I wish I had studied art in college. At the very least, as a minor. I would have learned so much from it. Maybe I would not have ended up with a lucrative career, but honestly at the time, I wasn’t looking for one. I mostly wanted to become a wife and mother. I dreamed of being the homemaker with a little art studio in her house. I still think it sounds wonderful. If I had studied art in college, years later I still could have gone on to become a librarian (which is a really great fit for me). Years later when I went to inquire about becoming a librarian, I found out that I could have had any undergraduate literally anything at all. I know of at least one high school librarian who had studied art during her undergraduate years. She now is retired and spends most of her time doing artwork. She is having a grand time painting and making quilts.

Looking back with regret does nothing helpful to anyone. Things happen for a reason. I guess I don’t really regret the path I have taken. I am me...largely formed by my experiences...both the happy and not so happy ones. Now I must move forward. I decided to try to make good (as much as possible) on the dream to learn to oil paint. One of my cousins heard that I was interested in learning to oil paint. She gave me a little oil set that she had picked up years earlier and had never used. Unfortunately, it is a cheap and junky set. This particular set is a no name brand and runs for about $11 from Amazon. You get what you pay for in art supplies. If you use poor products, you will only be frustrated and that can set you up for failure. I learned that in the past with a set of very cheap watercolors. I was miserable. I finally went to my friend Claudia for help. She is an accomplished water color painter. At her request, I brought my paints with me. She demonstrated that she really couldn’t paint well with them either. She could paint better than I could with them to be sure...but even I could see the difference once she pulled out the good stuff.

So off I went to Michaels to look at oil paints. I found the price of good oils to be very expensive! What would I do...purchase one tube of paint at a time? My husband would totally freak at the ~$100 price tag for a basic collection of fairly good stuff (and even these were mid-grade oils, NOT top of the line). We are talking about a set of 10 tubes that each hold 37mg of paint. I checked eBay and found some incredible deals! Wow! I found a great set of Winsor & Newton oils for $60 that I estimated to be worth about $120 from Dick Blick art supplies. I wanted them, but knew that my husband would frown upon it. (Unless he saw success and commitment first) I ended up bidding on a small set of Winsor & Newton 21mg/tubes. Nine of them. I could only find this particular set (that must have originally included 10 tubes) to be available for sale in Great Britain. In the U.S.A, I couldn’t find any set that had tubes smaller than 37 mg in the Winsor & Newton brand. The set on eBay was missing lemon yellow, but included 3 bonus tubes (37mgs each) of a German brand along with another bonus 37mg tube of Winsor & Newton Indian Red. I bid on it and won it for $15, + $7.50 shipping and handling. As luck would have it, I had a $13 credit on my paypal account, due to selling something on eBay a year ago that I had actually forgotten about. So I ended up feeling the payment of $9.50! I’m happy. Now all I need to do is figure out how to buy quality brushes and learn how to do this thing called oil painting.

Incidentally, last weekend, my husband and I, along with our oldest daughter, took a day trip to the Thousand Islands where I took pictures of this sailboat that I can hopefully use some day as a visual while painting. Nice, don’t you agree?

Here is the set I won on eBay! All of my readers (all 3 of you) must hold me accountable to learn to oil paint with your inquiries as to my progress with it.