Thursday, July 31, 2008


I've been working on family history for a couple of weeks, trying to apply the same semi-disciplined approach that I use for my artwork projects to actually get this project done too

(Ok, I know that family history is never really DONE, but I want to organize it, get it recorded on CDs that I can share and get rid of anything that I don't actually NEED to keep)

In the mornings, when I'm at desk top my computer, I've been scanning old photos and using my photoshop software to clean them up and save in several formats so I can share them. Working with these old photos makes me think of the people in them, some of whom I never met, and some of whom I remember well.

This is my grandmother.

My mother's mother.

This picture was taken in 1921 -- the year she married my grandfather.

From the time I can first remember, I called her Mammy. I have a couple of letters she wrote to me when I was in junior high school where she actually signed them "Your Mammy".

I remember her best, of course, through a child's eyes. I actually have earlier memories of her than I do of my own mother (who was a working woman in the 1950's).

Mammy taught me a lot of the things that are the foundation of the art I do today.

She taught me to sew -- first by hand, then (very carefully) on the old sewing machine (not a treddle, she had an electric one). I learned how to make clothing first from her, and how to be very frugal with the fabric. (I actually know how to turn a collar and a cuff on a dress shirt, something that nobody does any more) When a dress or skirt or shirt was considered at last to be beyond wearing, we removed the zippers and buttons and snaps and saved them to be reused -- something that was useful to me again recently when my daughter needed zippers replaced in a skirt and a summer dress, and I had something right on hand that would work.

She taught me to knit -- my grandfather brought home all of the string from the post office (back in those days they still tied packages with string), that we tied together, rolled into balls and used for "yarn". My first knitting was to make dish clothes out of that cotton string -- all those knots made extra texture that was good for scrubbing with.

She taught me how to make tatted lace edging (and I was thrilled after she was gone to be the one that inherited the little case she had made out of an oatmeal box and some brown herringbone tweed wool fabric (probably from an old skirt) to carry her tatting shuttles and thread in)

She taught me to love the sound of words -- a passion for poetry that carried over into song lyrics -- I remember her pushing me in the swing that hung from a tree in her yard and the words of Robert Louis Stevenson

Oh how do you like to go up in a swing,
Up in the air so blue?
Oh I do think it the pleasantest thing
Ever a child can do!
Up in the air and over the wall
Til I can see so wide,
Rivers and trees and cattle and all
Over the countryside -
Til I look down on the garden green,
Down on the roof so brown -
Up in the air I go flying again,
Up in the air and down!

It is odd to think that I am now nearly the age she was as I first remember her.

Now there are a lot of questions I would like to ask her -- about her life before I knew her, about her life with my grandfather, about her family and the places she had been

perhaps it is that wondering that leads us to do family history!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

History Lesson for today -- The Bonus Army

It's funny how things you haven't ever heard of can become important to you in odd ways.

Last night as I was watching Keith Olbermann, he mentioned briefly that yesterday, July 28, was the anniversary of the burning of the tent city of World War I veterans in Washington D.C. by the army (under the command of General George Patton) at the command of Herbert Hoover.

I heard him say it, but it didn't fully "click" until later in the evening.

We've taken to watching a show on PBS on Monday evenings that's called The History Detectives. Last night they did a whole thing about The Bonus Army.

The federal government had promised them a bonus -- the crash of 1929 and the depression that followed left many of them jobless, homeless and penniless -- they wanted to be paid

So a group of them traveled from Oregon to Washington DC to lobby congress

Hoover considered them to be a threat to public order, and when 2 of them were shot in a "riot" on July 28, 1932, he ordered his active army to evict them from Washington (no wonder Hoover was so soundly defeated!)

The fellow on the right side of this picture is my grandfather.

He was a World War I veteran. (this picture was taken after the war when he was in college at John Brown College in Arkansas)

Suddenly, I'm interested in that bonus those veterans were supposed to be paid.

Was he entitled to it (I'm thinking he must have been)

Did he get it?

Did it make a major difference in the lives of my grandparents?

Or was it just a nice "bonus" since he was a civil servant all through the depression (he worked for the post office)

So now I'd like to know how to find out

I'll be starting by asking my mother

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Why is reading blogs like a watching a train wreck?

I know, it sounds like something out of Lewis Carroll "Why is a raven like a writing desk?"

Fear not, unlike Carroll, I will give you the answer to this riddle

I've been out and about on the "blog scene" for a couple of years now, and for most all of that time there has been one that I have read regularly.

and it never fails to make me feel diminished

perhaps it is because I have actually met the person doing the writing

perhaps it is the "tone"

perhaps it is all in my head

at any rate, reading it for me is sort of like watching a train wreck --






{C R A S H}

starting today, I'm going to try to limit my exposure -- I think I'll feel better for it

added afterwards: If you have EVER commented on ANY of my blogs, I'm NOT talking about you here!! All of you who comment are greatly encouraging and I appreciate each and every one of you.

Friday, July 25, 2008

You've got to be carefully taught

Over at Kay's Thinking Cap she talked about a new and totally outrageous thing going on in Great Britan.

It seems that some government study has decided that toddlers who turn up their noses to foreign food are exhibiting RACIST behavior!

Say WHAT???

(Like Kay, I couldn't believe what I was seeing, so I read the article about it which she provided the link for -- here)

I have to admit that this right away brought 2 song lyrics to mind.

The first is from Martina McBride's song In My Daughter's Eyes where she says (speaking about her infant):

In my daughter's eyes everyone is equal
Darkness turns to light and the
world is at peace

The second is from the musical South Pacific where Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote:

You've got to be taught
To hate and fear
You've got to be taught
From year to Year
It's got to be drummed
in your dear little ear
You've got to be carefully taught

You've got to be taught
To be Afraid
Of people whose eyes
are oddly made
And people whose skin
Is a different shade
You've got to be carefully taught

You've got to be taught
Before it's too late
Before you are 6 or 7 or 8
To hate all the people
your relatives hate
You've got to be carefully taught

Children are not born to hate -- the "adults" teach them that -- to the detriment of us all

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The triumph of the squeeky wheel

Back the end of June I posted a bit here about a very scary experience we had in our local emergency room.

As I said then, it was our intent to send off letters of complaint to the hospital, the insurance company, the compliance board, etc.

I can report that we have received (to date) three letters in response to our incident.

One from the compliance board, one from the insurance company and one from the hospital -- the latter of which indicating that as soon as the insurance company pays the rest of the claim the hospital is going to reimburse us for our $50 copay.

What I find most disturbing is that the company that the emergency room physican works for has not responded in any way -- guess that tells us what the real issue is here

I just hope our making a fuss about this will put some changes into place that will keep someone else from a similar experience

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Finding "purpose"

Before you think that I've gone off the deep end again, this whole post is in response to an ongoing thread from one of the email lists that I belong to.

There has been a lot of discussion there lately about what your "Purpose" is.

Let me say first off that this is a demon that I have battled with off and on for quite a while, and how I respond to this question is dependent in large part to my state of mind at the moment.

Back in the dead of winter, this would have sent me off mumbling and fussing for days, but this week it produced a whole other response.

I think that saying we have only one purpose in life is a little nuts. Back when my daughter was small, my whole purpose revolved around her and her needs. Now days my purpose is more about creating art.

Each stage of our lives leads us to different things that are the most important. We can do it all -- but we can't do all of it all at once.

So, I'm back to my favorite "music pusher" who put this great song from Avenue Q on my MP3. It expresses my feelings quite well on this subject (note, the song is sung like a dialog between several characters, just read for content here!):

For Now

Why does everything have to be so hard?

Maybe you'll never find your purpose.

Lots of people don't.

But then- I don't know why I'm even alive!

Well, who does, really?
Everyone's a little bit unsatisfied.
Everyone goes 'round a little empty inside.

Take a breath,
Look around,
Swallow your pride,
For now...

Nothing lasts,
Life goes on,
Full of surprises.
You'll be faced with problems of all shapes and sizes.
You're going to have to make a few compromises...
For now...

But only for now! (For now)
Only for now! (For now)

For now we're healthy.
For now we're employed.
For now we're happy...
If not overjoyed.
And we'll accept the things we cannot avoid, for now...

But only for now! (For now)
Only for now! (For now)

Only for now!
(For now there's life!)
Only for now!
(For now there's love!)
Only for now!
(For now there's work!)
For now there's happiness!
But only for now!
(For now discomfort!)
Only for now!
(For now there's friendship!)
Only for now (For now!)
Only for now!

Only for now! (Sex!)
Is only for now! (Your hair!)
Is only for now! (George Bush!)
Is only for now!

Don't stress,
Let life roll off your backs
Except for death and paying taxes,
Everything in life is only for now!

Each time you smile...
It'll only last a while.
Life may be scary...
But it's only temporary

Everything in life is only for now.

Enjoy where you are, make the best of it! Everything in life -- is only for now!

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Hey, do you want to come out and play the game

My daughter, my great "music pusher" filled up the little MP3 player I use when I walk every morning.

Now I've been listening to the "scramble" rotation for over a month now, and every now and then I'll hear something I didn't hear before -- ok, maybe I was looking at a bunny or a bird or some new flower along the way and I wasn't really Listening, which (as we all know) is not the same as hearing


one of the songs is Century Plant by Victoria Williams. Here are the lyrics that really caught me this morning:

Outside my house is a cactus plant, they call the Century Tree.
Only once in a hundred years, it flowers gracefully.
And you never know when it will bloom.

Hey, do you want to come out and play the game,
it's never too late.
Hey, do you want to come out and play the game,
it's never too late.

Clementine, honey, was fifty-four,
'fore she picked up her paint.
Old uncle Taylor was eighty-one,
when he rode his bike across the plains of China, u-huh.

And the sun was shining on their day,
just like today.

Do you want to come out and play the game,
it's never too late.
Do you want to come out and play the game,
it's never too late.

Reminder that its not too late to try new things no matter how old you are!!

I've spent some time the past week wondering just what "Mixed Media" art is, and have decided that its what ever mixture made into what ever form I want it to be --

Hey! Do you want to come out and play?

Thursday, July 03, 2008

I don't get it

There has been a big uproar here in Colorado about the lyric of a song that was sung by a local jazz singer

Just because I didn't really understand the uproar, I went and got a copy of the lyric so I could read it

Here it is:

Lift ev'ry voice and sing,
'Til earth and heaven ring,
Ring with the harmonies of Liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise
High as the listening skies,
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us;
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun,
Let us march on 'til victory is won.

Stony the road we trod,
Bitter the chast'ning rod,
Felt in the days when hope unborn had died;
Yet with a steady beat,
Have not our weary feet
Come to the place for which our fathers sighed?
We have come over a way that with tears has been watered,
We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered,
Out from the gloomy past,
'Til now we stand at last
Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.

God of our weary years,
God of our silent tears,
Thou who has brought us thus far on the way;
Thou who has by Thy might
Led us into the light,
Keep us forever in the path, we pray.
Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee,
Lest, our hearts drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee;
Shadowed beneath Thy hand,
May we forever stand,
True to our God,
True to our native land.

(James Weldon Johnson)

I find nothing offensive here.

I'm not offended by the fact that it was sung to the tune of the Star Spangled Banner -- after all, Francis Scott Key appropriated that tune from a commonly sung English drinking song (ok, maybe that explains why its so difficult to sing -- you need to be drunk?)

maybe I'm missing something -- but I still don't get it!