On This Shining Day-Inauguration

On this shining day
we awoke to glorious
milky sunshine.
The air felt pregnant
with expectation
On this shining day
we were mesmerized
by two little girls
enormous brown eyes
laughing smiles.
On this shining day
a father, husband, son
became a president
of great consequence.
On this shining day
a judge issued an oath
a preacher prayed a prayer
a singer sang a song
a poet summed
Bless this Earth. Bless the Leaders. Bless those who are Led.

On This Day-MLK Day

Rosa sat

So Martin could walk

Martin walked

So Obama could run

Obama ran

So our children can fly.

Mia Farrow
Martin Luther King Day
This day gifted a time of reflection and thought. "On this day...." please enjoy the beauty and serenity that graced Havre de Grace.
See that curve beckoning as if to say
Come along and see
mysteries of crystal and white

On the sculpted banks and ice coated edges

Waves caught in a still frame

frozen froth.

A lonely feathered sentinel
the Chesapeake

Velveteen cloaked

A touch of grace, comings and goings

leaving ripples

frozen in time

Shards of ice, bully the fleet of

Lah-de-Dah boats

The Lantern Queen hibernates
from her summer gaiety.
Cemetery cold, frozen soil, deep somber gray
warmed by red striped flags
reminding us of a life
that made a difference.

The bay was quiet

only an occasional snapping crack of ice as it shift to a more comfortable position or a goose eerily

honked searching for his mate.

Few were out in the grayness, the deep cold.

In the distance a biker stood on the edge of the pier, holding ever so still.

Did I dare interfere with his reverie?

With the slightly embarrassed "hi" I met Mike.

Mike: free spirit, world traveler, keeper of journals, biker, runner, reader, poet, reads Mary Oliver poetry and Terry Tempest Williams, thrives in ice and cold, looking for the next adventure, pursuing second career, loves architecture and numbers, grand talker, friendly and hopes we meet again.

As we spoke, the snow had deftly fallen,

sift like fine face powder

from a feathery puff.

Pure magic on Martin Luther's Birthday!

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The Politics and Art of Beading

The African Spirit Series is currently running at the Baltimore Museum of Art. It has been a soulful celebration of art, music, dance and film. The commencement of the series was the Kawanza Celebration that we attended with Emma in December.
Despite near zero temperatures, and much of Baltimore "closed down" to traffic because President Elect Obama would be speaking in Baltimore, nevertheless, we decided to attend. We rationalized that our attendance was "in the spirit" of this highly anticipated inauguration.
The lecture was presented by Dr. Gary van Wyk of the Axis Gallery in New York. As we gathered in the auditorium for his lecture, we were informed that he was on a train BEHIND the inaugural train coming from Delaware!!! He was obviously detained. Great irony!
As a token of accommodation, we were given an early viewing of one of the African produced films that will be presented in two weeks at BMA. The film was a sobering look at the life of an individual woman from a nomadic tribe in South Africa.
Dr. van Wyk arrived a little breathless and rumpled, but ready to go as soon as his slides were loaded in the projector. He took us on a voyage through the realities of war, politics, symbolism, pride, power and creativity found in South African bead work. The photos I have included are of beaded items in the museum. His talk focused primarily on glass beads.
This doll has been made from thousands of tiny glass beads imported from Italy. Dr. van Wyk had four main points of discussion: 1) beads used to channel ancestral spirits, 2) sacred signs through the use of color and design, 3) the social status, gender, and eligibility of wearer, 4) personal style as exhibited by the woman who did the beading. After the lecture some of us had enrolled in the beading class to follow. In all honesty, when Howard and I signed up for this workshop, we thought we were PAINTING beads, as had been listed on the program. Instead we walked into a large classroom, filled with women ( Howard the only gentleman), and a table LADEN, BURSTING with glass beads. Thousands of beads strung on microscopically thin threads. This was far removed from painting the big chunky beads that we had envisioned!
Can you imagine the sound of hundreds of tiny glass beads accidentally slipping off of their thin filament of thread onto the table, then spilling like water cascading on to the floor? Hmm we quickly got used to the sounds of tinkling glass.
The class was beautifully set up and organized except....the beads were as they had been shipped and it was up to us to undo the delicate "main" knot that held the tiny strands together.
Painstakingly we pulled a sliver of thread laden with beads, our goal was to put a knot at each end of the thread to prevent bead loss. Think knotting a filament thin as a spider's web.
Ah the anguish of frustration as strand after strand of beads broke, scattered and cascaded onto the table then quickly slithered onto the floor.
Here we are all concentrating on creating a design then sketching it on our little wooden plague. The object of the exercise was to design our own symbolic designs, apply STRANDS of beads to the boards with sticky glue and take home a stunning work of art.
Can you hear us laughing? or better yet, crying?
Howard was a super good sport as he struggled to tie the tiny knots. He was more patient than I! Despite the lack of agility and ability, we all laughed, talked and poked fun at ourselves...what else could one do? I suggested we show them to Dr. van Wyk and see if he would like them for his gallery in New York!! Here is my humble START....no, you will not receive it for Christmas! But the fun was sitting with the women as they laughed, cussed and chattered. I LOVE the Baltimore Women, they are unique! I sat by a woman (a strong Sheilah Dixon supporter) who kept me thoroughly entertained as I cheated by POURING my LOOSE beads into a puddle of gunky glue! Individuality and Self Expression!

Art in the Community

You are viewing the art created by youth participating in the Boys and Girls Club of Harford County. This evening an art exhibit and contest was held in the Havre de Grace club.
Bugs were on the mind of the group who collaborated on this fun "Buggy" diorama.
This Puffy Dragon was too fun loving to be spewing fire. Puffy looks more like a relaxed puppy waiting to be patted. Collage papers, bright colors and a fun relaxed pose made this a favorite of the viewers. Children from elementary to high school age participate in the Boys and Girls Club. These display boards show off some of their best art pieces using a variety of mediums. The new county director, mayor and other invited guests viewed the art and decided the winners. Interestingly, the artists were not present to receive recognition. This is the Havre de Grace art room that also serves as a place for tutoring. This club no longer has an art director, which is very unfortunate. There are no funds to hire someone.
Our second art community is the Towson Arts Collective in Towson, MD. The theme of this exhibit was Places I Have Traveled. There seemed to be a broad consensus on what constitutes travel.
More than half of the exhibit was photography, a few pieces of sculpture, concluding with paintings done in oil, acrylic and watercolor.
I entered Asian Parasols as shown here. The Asian theme, intense color palette and red frame made it difficult to ignore!
Besides viewing the art exhibit, there was a buffet of finger foods. Some absolutely divine hummus and pita bread, pinwheel sandwiches and tiny pastries were quickly consumed, but not as fast as the three boxes filled with hot pizza.
Our Arty Weekend was diverse, art created by young students and art created by adults who like to think they are young.
The following day was another "artful excursion." A trip to the Baltimore Museum of Art to hear a lecture on the politics of beads and hands on beading.

African Children's Choir

"We are the African Children's Choir."
"We are between seven and eleven years old and we come from Africa. We come from very poor villages and many of us are orphans. Our families find it hard to care for us. Children in our villages often do not learn to read or write because their families cannot afford to send them to school."
Twenty four years ago the African Children's Choir was formed. It was initiated by Music For Life who recognized the need for children to receive an education. The choir shines a light on children who once fought a daily battle against starvation and poverty. Many lost one or more parents due to poverty, HIV, civil war and genocide.
Our family had the opportunity to attend the BSO Christmas Festival, as part of our holiday fun. The symphony coupled with an amazing singer/host Sandi Patty; dancers, and singers performed secular and sacred music; puppetry, dancing Santas and ever so much more.
But the STARS of the evening were the boys and girls from this choir. They dazzled their way into our hearts and souls with the JOY of their SINGING.
This is what they came from.
This is the reality of millions of African children and families. Everywhere you turn in Africa (and other places on this Earth) is the devastation of poverty, HIV/AIDS, civil war, faminine, genocide and sheer neglect.
The Good News is that countless men and women through the Power of the Individual give of their time and talents to help those in need. And Irish-born minister Ray Barnett is one such individual. In 1984, his life was changed and in due time there have been over 35 African Children's Choirs.
Twenty-four years later, the African Children' Choir has changed the life path of thousands of African children. Numerous shools have been built; children educated and now these same children are giving back to their communities as teachers, doctors, engineers and social workers.
The website is worth a visit.
You can order their CD's and prolong the holiday spirit through music.
These Dancing Santas probably worked hard to fill the stockings of these dear boys and girls, but more importantly spread Glad Tidings across this planet.

The Bottomless Cup

Three months ago, Deb and Colin Preston opened their gourmet coffee house, The Bottomless Cup, in Havre de Grace. The fulfillment of a decade’s long dream! For years they had thought, pondered, planned and dreamt how they would design, decorate, and serve superior coffee, tea and hot chocolate beverages.
They wanted to offer a warm and inviting coffee house for one to enjoy gourmet drinks and pastries; relax, visit and unwind. They also wanted convenience and superior service. The Bottomless Cup has a charming, knowledgeable manager and other friendly employees. The convenience comes in the form of a drive through window.
I met Deb after receiving a letter from the RiverView Gallery stating that a new, local coffee house was looking for art to hang on their walls. I thought everyone would have contacted them and offered their paintings. Surprise, no one had responded to the letter. So Deb was happy to meet me.
She and Colin are such warm, friendly, honest, hard working and charming people that we got along from the very first meeting. After spending time with them, I so wanted to see them succeed with their new business. It really wasn’t about “hanging art” but about how to help them put the final touches on their business. They wanted a Provence sort of ambience. Well that was something I could help them with.
We waited until after the holidays to hang paintings. It was worth the wait so that I could get paintings ready and properly framed and they had some time with which to hang the work.
In addition to good food and service they have started social gatherings on Sunday afternoons. Various speakers, musicians, and so forth have come to “chat” with coffee house guests. They are very interested in having Daniel come and share stories about pirates this February. If this happens, it will be such fun!
I love working with Deb and Colin. They are just really very special people. I have learned more about them, their children, work and future plans. I can only wish them the best in all areas of their lives.
In respect for the privacy of customers in the coffee house, I only photographed empty areas. So the best thing to do in order to see the entire charming coffee house is to visit in person!!!

Emily Days

We were all a little sad when Emma and Mindy drove away Sunday morning to return to Chicago. The past two days had been packed full, like a Cracker Jack box, with fun and a surprise present. We waved good bye until we meet again in July.
Preparing to go to church Emily was a little hesitant and shy, it had been 1 ½ years since attending the Susquehanna Ward. Emily looking beautiful, put on her happiest face and together, hand in hand, we walked into church. Remember the scene from The Sound of Music where Maria works up her CONFIDENCE before entering the von Trapp mansion?
Once inside the building, the worries melted away and Emily rushed up to the Taylor and Bullock girls….beaming when she returned to her seat, she knew that “all was well.” Everyone was thrilled to see her again. Immediately plans to meet with her friends were being plotted…socially that is.
Sunday afternoon, the beautiful and unique churches in Havre de Grace were hosting an open house for the public. We decided to visit these chapels we had only seen from the outside, Catholic, Methodist, Baptist and Lutheran, all within two blocks of one another. We were greeted at the doors and welcomed in.

Each church and chapel was distinct and unique. One church had the true musty odor of a 200 year old building.

Chapels were gilded and adorned with painted flourishes, fresh flowers and pine boughs. Still other denominations were modest and moderate in decoration. What do you like?
We talked about the churches and how they differed from one another but yet, how each was a Christian church believing in Jesus Christ.
Twelve year old girls LOVE SLEEPOVERS, and this was in the plans for Emily and her friend, Alisha. It didn’t take long before the initial shyness evaporated and they were talking and giggling as though they had never been separated. There was a lot to catch up on…and perhaps “height” was the first thing they noticed. Both girls had grown taller and more mature, but Emily got the blue ribbon in the height category.
Alisha is very interested in art and loves to draw. She brought a portfolio of sketches for me to see; so glad that a painting project was soon under way. The girls were very excited to decorate headbands. This was taken seriously and lots of time was spent laying on gobs of paint, glitter and fake stones. It took serious over night drying, and they were still tacky… but nevertheless

…the next step was to model them. What do you think? They could start a Painted Accessories business! Note their matching outfits. Pure coincidence!

That night ended with videos and pizza. Amazingly we all were in bed before midnight….hmm, when did the girls go to sleep?
Breakfast the next morning was a round robin—cereal for one, pancakes for the other, eggs for one, and so forth. Breakfast is a serious thing: a girl has got to be properly nourished!!!
Sadly, it came time to return Alisha to her home in Bel Air. From there we headed out to Ashley and Daniel’s home….more fun was in store for us…..
Hampden is a quaint, historical section in northern Baltimore. Squished tight brownstone townhouses, quaint colorful shops, ethnically diverse, funky and quirky all describe Hampden, now host to the HON FESTIVAL and all things “HON.”
The best way to describe “HON” is visualizing cat-eyeglasses adorned with fake diamonds, pink and purple feather boas, gobs of lipstick and sticky thick mascara, toppling beehive hairdos and sparkly, outrageous clothes. Who comes to mind, is our Aunt Leona in her younger years!
We walked through quirky, quaint, unique stores looking for the perfect item for Emily to buy. We held up cat-eye glasses, wrapped boas around our necks, stared at postcards depicting Hon images, visited a soda fountain—but nothing really caught Emily’s eye UNTIL
Tata took Emily into a wild CONSIGNMENT shop, filled with vintage dresses, aprons, purses, jewelry and FUR coats.
Behind a veiled curtain, Emily modeled herself in a sequin and chiffon frock! THIS WAS IT! She tried on many dresses and one “OVER THE TOP” neon-yellow, nylon peignoir set complete with corsage! (Aren’t you grateful mom and dad that she didn’t choose that one?)
Pulling Audrey Hepburn inspired dresses from the rack for her to consider, she stuck with her instincts and purchased the sequined beauty! This was one JUMPING HAPPY Emily!
At the last minute, compulsive shopping bit further into her wallet and she bought a see-through, plastic Louis Vuitton handbag. Now Emily was truly a HON!
All this shopping makes a girl hungry, so off to the Hon Café, where EVERYONE in Hampden was eating that night.
We crammed around a banquet table, spent way too much time reading the menu and then finally ordered….
Emily, was torn between ordering a crab cake her dad’s favorite, or what really caught her fancy: shrimp alfredo! Alfredo won the day!
Another crazy, fun Emily Day came to a close!
New Year’s Eve Day became catch up time with more FRIENDS.

Hannah, Esther Taylor and Emily have been friends from church. Emily was invited to their home where a lot of chatting took place.

Sophia and Olivia are friends from the apartment complex where Emily lived for a number of years. Eric and Tracy took the four giggly girls to see Bed Time Stories. Time simply flies when fun is being had, but the bewitching hour and preparations for New Year’s Eve were fast approaching.

We were in such a “HON” mood that the choice of the evening was to watch HAIRSPRAY and BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S…..yikes, TWO movies…..coupled with platefuls of mock Chinese food. It did seem a little “empty” without other family members gathered together, but we three made a terrific TRIO.

At midnight the duck dropped in Havre de Grace and fireworks blasted away. The winds were so strong, that it seemed like the fireworks were tilting!

We rang in a New Year!!!