In Part 1, I discovered my first Dale Chihuly at the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia. In Part 2, I read aloud the poetry book my classroom wrote, inspired by the museum.
A recent update: the museum is planning a new Peace exhibit in March. They have asked for my classroom books to be part of the exhibit. Nice!
My second Dale Chihuly is at the Huntington Museum of Art, in Huntington, West Virginia. It stands over ten feet high with 352 hand blown glass pieces, and is housed in their conservatory under a glass canopy, standing in a pond of water. This beautiful art glass is titled, “The Huntington Museum of Art Tower.”
I was born and raised in Huntington, yet I did not see this magnificent glass structure until many years later, as it was constructed in 2006, decades after I married and moved away.
Music brings joy to children.
Books bring questions and thinking.
Teachers bring love and answers.
Today at school was a day I’ll always remember. So will the children. Emotions ran high. In Dickens’ words, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” It was COVID, overcoming fear, needing to be held, singing and dancing, and reading aloud one of the best children’s books – perfect for the day.
It started in the morning with Eddie. He just stopped. He folded his arms, scrunched up his face to keep from crying, and refused to talk. All the coaxing in the world did nothing to help him talk. Finally I said, “Eddie, come here” and pulled him onto my lap. He curled up.
I knew what to do. He wanted to be rocked. I remember listening to a song recently on the radio that has a chorus:
In Part 1, I discovered a magnificent Dale Chihuly work of art at the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia. The glass structure is 21 feet tall and titled “Flame of Liberty”. In the same museum is a Peace Portal, a structure with wrought iron legs and a stained glass canopy. I recreated that Peace Portal in my classroom, with heavy cardboard tubes for legs that children decorated, and ‘stained glass’ created by children for the canopy.
That Peace Portal drew children in. They wanted to be there, under the canopy. I interviewed the children, asking them how it felt sitting beneath a Peace Portal. Their answers were astounding, and became poetry. It was natural that a classroom poetry book was born, The Aqua Room Peace Poetry Book.
Part 2 I would like to read that book to you:
Stayed tuned for Part 3, my second Dale Chihuly. It’s…
Yesterday was Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. I remember when February 12th was a national holiday except for a few southern states. HBO remembered, and they’ve been showing the 2012 film Lincoln wherein Daniel Day-Lewis brought Lincoln to life so convincingly, we might have wondered if we were watching history through a time warp. The film documented the fight to pass the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which outlawed slavery in the United States.
There is so much stark similarity between what occurred in January 1865 and January 2021, watching it again was a valuable wake-up call, reminding me that the struggle between White Supremacy and decency has been part of our history for more than 300 years. The recreated voices of House Democrats of the time (they were the racists back then) openly declared that the words “all men are created equal” were never intended to…
The first time I heard about Girl Scouts was from an older Brownie in grade school. My sister, several years my senior, had never joined. I couldn’t wait until I was old enough to don one of those cool brown dresses and put on my beanie. Each week we brought our dues, kept safe through the school day in a small leather belt-pouch with the Brownie logo on it. That simple act of bringing dues helped establish a sense of responsibility.
I’d always been a shy and awkward child, so being part of a group felt wonderful. We did many activities and projects, like paperclip necklaces wrapped with contact paper and cast resin paperweights. Knife skills and safety circles were also part of the program. I still check my safety circle when using a tool. The handbook had great illustrations and instructions, including how to make a bandana hat by tying it over your knee. It’s a shame those aren’t in the new handbook. Even the Brownie story has changed through the years. At least the investiture ceremony hasn’t.
“Twist me and turn me and show me an elf. I looked in the water and saw myself.”
From that time forward, the girl scout promise became part of me.
I loved being a Brownie and was very excited to fly up to Junior Girl Scouts, but missed the ceremony due to illness. The uniform of the day was green slacks with a green belt, a white button-down shirt with a trefoil pattern, and a snap on tie. I would have loved my girls to wear my uniform, but I must have been a total toothpick. Neither of them fit the uniform, not even my youngest who was always petite.
My first camping trip was either in Brownies or Juniors. I honestly can’t remember which. There’s nothing like staring at a campfire and the smell of burning wood. Unfortunately, I was afraid of bugs and the dark. The platform tents we stayed in had a lovely collection of creepy crawlies. Most of the night was spent scouring the walls with my flashlight to make sure nothing would crawl on me. Despite the nighttime fears, I had a great time.
Although I left Scouts because of a time conflict with religious school and meetings, the GS promise and law had become ingrained in my personality. It wasn’t until HS that a friend reintroduced me to Girl Scouts. I rejoined as a Senior scout and instantly fell in love with camping, wild foods, and lots of fun. Have you ever picked fiddle heads, or made acorn bread on a campfire stove? I did that and more.
A few activities stick out in my mind. The Yukon sled pull, was one of the first council events I participated in. Cadette troops pulled sleds around the lake, while Senior troops tested their knowledge at various stations. Having missed part of Juniors and all of Cadettes, I needed a crash course in safe handling of all the tools my troop was in charge of. It was the first time I’d ever handled an axe. I learned so much that day and had a blast at the same time. Another exciting weekend was a backpacking trip along the Appalachian trail. We hiked from High Point State Park to Sawmill Lake.
One of my fondest memories was the survival skills weekend. Our troop had spent all winter studying, and this was our chance to teach the Cadettes. We covered all the basics, and even did a search and rescue exercise. A friend of mine and I were “rescued” by a group trying to duck the exercise. After a few moments of scrambling to remember first aid, (I feigned a hurt ankle.) they managed to get us back to base camp safely. All in all, they did a great job, although I’d prefer not to be carried in a sleeping bag stretcher again. The exercise was called the next day. Storms had rolled in overnight, flooding several tents. Even with the downpour, three teams got their breakfast fires lit, one without matches, before we called it quits and went to the lodge.
Earning awards wasn’t my focus when I joined scouts. I was most interested in the social aspects. But after my first year back, I set myself an ambitious goal. The silver and gold awards were new and didn’t have the scout level restrictions they do now. It took a lot of hard work, but I proudly wore my senior uniform as I received the silver award. By the way, that was my least favorite uniform. The pea green skirt wasn’t too bad, but a green, yellow, and blue plaid shirt was too much to bear.
I’ve always loved the outdoors, whether it be gardening or exploring the woods. GS gave me the chance to expand my knowledge and experience. The wild foods skills came in handy when I moved to Baltimore, Maryland, where I harvested the edibles from my backyard garden and froze them for the winter. Even now, my family occasionally accuses me of feeding them weeds.
As an author, I often dip into what I learned in scouts. Tatiana, the main character in my novel, Star Touched, has a knack with wild foods and herbs. Kara, from Wolf Dawn, lived in the wild with a wolf pack for eight years. Even Maya, from Mark of the Goddess, knows which plants can help and which can kill. Their ideals mirror my own, and many reflect what I discovered in Girl Scouts.
By the way, I’ve held onto more than the Girl Scout promise and law. I still have my Brownie dues pouch, my junior uniform, and a few pieces of my Senior uniform. When my children were old enough, I became a troop leader. Both earned the Silver award and my Eldest, the gold. I’m super proud of the women they have become and am thrilled they were able to experience Girl Scouts like I did. We are all life time scouts. When they have kids, I hope they discover the joys of scouting as well.
Sometimes it’s hard to be who you are meant to be.
Eighteen-year-old Tatiana is running from her past and her star-touched powers eight years after a meteor devastates earth’s population.
Her power to heal may be overshadowed by more destructive abilities. Fleeing the persecution of those like her, Tatiana seeks refuge in a small town she once visited. But this civil haven, in a world where society has broken down, is beginning to crumble.
Only by harnessing the very forces that haunt her can Tatiana save her friends…and herself.
This image is one of Francisco Goya’s most well known and important. It has been debated if its meaning lies in the personal for Goya or on commentary on society. We can never be sure of what the artist intended.
It is possible, however, to see how when people abandon reason and analysis, that horror follows. Fascism arose in the 20th Century as people in Germany, Austria, and Italy primarily abandoned reason to follow the emotional cults of personality that would lead to the worst evil the world has ever known.
In the United States, which has a terrible history of bigotry, nationalism, and violence, driven by right wing forces that abandon reason and, using tactics of Hitler, such as blaming others through scapegoating and pull people to their worst impulses and the use of the big lie, in which an untruth is repeated loudly and often…
Someone on Twitter posted “HARSH WRITING ADVICE: Your writer friends are also your competition. Sorry.”
This is ridiculous.
I am in no way in competition with the majority of writers who write books nothing like mine. You write moving stories about families torn apart by internal conflict? Your readers aren’t mine. Someone who writes only horror novels is not my competition.
And neither are writers who write the same kind of stuff I do.
Those writers who write like me are friends I encourage, and do you know why? Because when their readers are looking for something else to read, here I am. Here’s my similar stuff. You like Philippa Ballentine and Tee Morris’s steampunk novels? Well, while you’re waiting for their next one, here’s another fun steampunk novel you may be interested in. Oh, you prefer the humorous high fantasy of Alan Dean Foster? Well, look what I’ve got…