February 2008 Archives

When Bryan and I came back from the Bahamas we experienced culture shock. After being on a peaceful island where strangers become friends in a blink, everyone is happy, and life is rather uncomplicated it isn't any wonder that we would be hit by some of the negative aspects of our culture on our return.

Of course one of the first things that triggered it was a trip to a shopping mall.

Over consumption aside, there were other things that popped up to make us take note that this country has got to make some adjustments. I can be patriotic as the next person, but there are a few things that have happened in our culture and specifically this country that range from mildly disturbing to morally alarming.

For instance...

Last night I got an email from Daniel's college. A notice sent out to all of the parents of MICA students that there had been a "road rage" shooting on the MICA campus and two people were dead. Thankfully they were not students, but it still made my blood go cold. It happened at roughly six oclock the night before just minutes after Bryan was picking Daniel up to bring him home due to illness.

For the first time in my life I am thankful for the flu.

Right now Daniel is sleeping soundly in his bed, while I make chicken soup, pump him full of orange juice, and nurse him back to health. All the while being grateful that he is alive.

As a country we are not plagued by internal war, and yet we have things like the Virginia Tech shooting, Illinois, and Columbine. What is up with that? There seems to be an underlying virus in our culture that is making people insane, or at the very least, cold and heartless.

It seems systemic doesn't it?

Maybe it starts with rules and laws that were originally meant to protect us that ultimately are hurting us. Being free to be an "individual" has mutated into an unhealthy focus on self that somehow has eroded away the good things that we use to have.

Laws to help the innocent have become lawsuit opportunities.
Technology that is supposed to improve our lifestyle can remove the need to be civil and friendly.

In an average day a person can face numerous situations (motorist honking their horn, a rude teller, recorded phone messages) that by the end of the day can make you feel less than human.

Today I feel that way.

On a third try to obtain a last little piece of required paperwork for our Bahamas registration, I sat at my bank waiting my turn to see someone about a "letter of reference". On the second try after filling out a long menacing form they had issued me a cryptic note with my bank balance on it, and charged me ten dollars. I sent this off and got a reply from my rep in the Bahamas, that they didn't need numbers, just a letter that basically said I was a good customer at my bank.

Ok, seems reasonable. I HAVE been a customer for fifteen years...

So sitting down with a guy at my bank I explained that the letter they gave me was not quite what the bahamian gov't needed, something simpler...

No way. Not on your life. They don't do that.

"Surely this kind of letter is not a problem... I have been a customer for fifteen years..."

Apparently that would require an "opinion" which they legally can not do.

"OK, but this is what the bahamian gov't requires and people do this all the time so... what's up with that?"

The conversation didn't last long but the jist was "so sorry, it sucks to be you". And what I really had a problem with was the attitude in which it was delivered. The particular bank associate that I was dealing with seemed to relish the fact that he couldn't help me. Almost in a punishing way. In fact I got a sense that he didn't want to help me before I even opened my mouth. Anti-helpful.

Which brings me back to my original point(seemed like a rabbit trail didn't it?)

Have we lost the ability to be kind to one another? Has all the hoops that we have to jump through just to have the privilege to live what we call the american dream turned it into a nightmare that keeps us from being human?

Not blaming the associate for the restriction that was out of his hands, but royally pissed off at him for the condescending/almost cruel way he treated me, I left the bank on the verge of tears. Frustrated, hurt and really really mad, I walked over to the grocery store to pick up some groceries. Picking through the produce section and wondering what this world was coming to I filled my basket and headed to the checkout.

I got Virgil.

Virgil is a middle aged, african american man who has worked the checkout and bagged groceries there forever, and he always has something nice to say. Always, without exception. He took my groceries and started his totaling. Still feeling rattled but determined to recover from being pissed and not take it out on someone else I smiled and mustered a..." How are you today Virgil?"

His reply...

"Super-Fantastic! How are you today?"

"Better now".

He helped put my groceries in my backpack (because I was walking home) giving me the heaviest items first, the light items for me to carry in my hands. Then with a big smile he wished me a good day.

God bless the Virgils of the world.


pink daisies

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Something bright for a winter's day.


making a difference

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We are well into Phase two of a process that has (at this point) seven phases. Phase one involved two and a half years of research for the right location, and then purchasing it. Phase two involves a. Research on eco-friendly technologies. b. Preliminary Design. c.Partnerships. d. Final Design. and e. Permitting.

We are in the middle of the preliminary design and partnership part of this phase. Tons of practical planning, and projection happening here.

What fun.

This weekend was spent creating some tangible visuals from the initial design for proposal purposes.(proposals for bahamas gov, partners, funding, etc.) It seems weird having to plan something in such a way. I have worked on business plans before(my own) but never something so long term, so large...

or so absolutely impossible.

Enough challenges exist if we were to do this in this country, but another country AND an island...

A good friend of mine has a term for such a thing... "Taking the hill".

Yea, were taking the hill, one phase at a time.

Designing the Mother Ship. Mother has in Her innards, the common area for dining, kitchen, a library, a gallery, studio work space, machine room(solar power), laundry, and our living quarters.

The Artist Habitats (now two story) have sleeping quarters and private studio space (300 sq '). We decided that adding another story was prudent for growth. Four habitats could be transformed into eight if necessary.

Phase three will involve breaking ground and construction of one artist habitat.


view from the dining room.






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While out for coffee with my husband yesterday morning we decided to step into a favorite haunt, Home Goods. So far the weekend had been spent with our noses attached to our computer screens and although what we had been working on together was more detail to our exnihilo dream we needed a change of scenery. Typically in Home Goods Bryan and I gravitate toward different departments. He is lured by the gourmet section with all its kitchen gadgetry, and I usually head toward home accessories or bath stuff. At some point after a bit of wandering we cross each others path, usually empty handed.

But not today.

Rounding the corner of one of the overstuffed aisles, I look up to see Bryan with something in his hand. His face has a look of mischief as he lifts up the item for my consideration.

And this, boys and girls is why I love my husband so much.

In his hand is the word in big black wooden letters...


It is an unlikely piece of brick-a-brack, meant for a shelf or mantle. A cheap ornament that screamed out everything we were about at that moment in regards to our dream...

I could hear Dennis Hopper's voice in my head.

Without words, Bryan raised an eyebrow and I responded with, "Of course, are you kidding?"

So like two kids we plunked down 14.99 for this simple reminder in sculptural form. It is a thing like this that keeps the momentum of an impossible dream going.

It may seem silly.

But most dreams do.

proudly perched on our livingroom mantle...IMAGINE


back to thin places

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Came back to this yesterday and worked on it some today as well for my artist date. I don't remember when I started it but it has been a while. And it is weird to look back at old blog posts for reference only to be reminded again how time has flown.

Most of the day was spent finishing up some forgotten tasks that had to be done, but I did get in about two hours of paint time. Unlike my impressionist pieces, the thin places take a long time.

held in the light


time really does go by

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Twenty years ago today was one of the best days of my life.

You were born.

The pain of childbirth was shadowed by the overwhelming joy of helping you into the world. My proudest role has been making a place for you to be safe, healthy, and teaching you about your world. Watching you grow, learn, create and begin to make decisions for yourself has made me even more proud.

Now you're twenty!

No longer a teenager!

From reading to you every night when you were little, doing school projects, or the random paper mache for fun, although sometimes I miss those times we spent together I can't wait to see what is ahead for you. I know it is going to be great.

I am so proud of you.

Keep pursuing your art (in all its forms) and continue to stand by your convictions that make you the amazing person that you are. Some day you will be able to look back on your experiences with pride.

And today as you go about your busy schedule just remember how much I love you.

Happy 20th Birthday Son!



restoring innocence


A few years ago I had an interesting conversation with a young man from Kenya. He sat at my dining table for probably two hours as we discussed spirituality and what it means to be a christian.

His name was Kevin.

Kevin's one unforgettable feature was his big beautiful smile. It was the kind of smile that you know runs deep and connects with the inner parts of a person's soul. It was the kind of smile that reflects a preserved innocence but with the tempering of life experiences and hardship that instilled character. It was the kind of smile that reflects joy.

The reason he was in my house may sound like a total disconnect.

He was measuring my windows.

Hired by Home Depot, he was the individual they sent out to measure windows and write up an estimate for window replacement. We were at the beginning of our remodeling process and this would be the first step to getting our "shack" into shape. But what was supposed to be a simple interaction of homeowner and contractor ended up being something I will never forget.

While he sat at my table filling out the appropriate forms I offered him something to drink and we began what ended up being a lengthy conversation. Raised and educated mostly in Kenya he spoke of some of the differences between his country and mine. We compared our experiences in our countries and where we thought the shortcomings were in each, and also the privileges. He spoke of the village in which he came from. As he talked, always with that wonderful smile, I was reminded at how much we were the same. He spoke of hope and possibility and how each person can make a difference. I remember being a little envious at his optimism, in contrast with my own cynicism. At that time I was collecting people to photograph for a sort of "faces of the world" collection, and I asked him if he wouldn't mind playing along. He agreed, promising to come back at a later date. Smiling.

As our conversation continued it shifted from faith to politics. He told me that his family was very excited about a particular person that was serving in washington, and their faith in this particular individual to be able to accomplish real change in his country as well as mine. Kevin told me that I should watch for him and very proudly said, "He is my cousin". Even though I admitted how unpolitical I was I promised to "watch for him", and asked him for his name.

Barack Obama.

The name sounded vaguely familiar.

I never followed up with Kevin to get his photo, I wish I had. That smile of his spoke volumes. But I did take his advice and watch for his cousin. And now, years later, so is the rest of the world. For the first time in many years I don't feel quite so cynical.

In fact I could even say there's hope.

October 2010

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About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from February 2008 listed from newest to oldest.

January 2008 is the previous archive.

March 2008 is the next archive.

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