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Monday, April 15, 2013

Look for Truth and Don't Blindly Follow

April 15, 2013

An Open Letter to my Children

Many concerns for our country have surfaced over the past several years. This in turn fuels my concern for my children who will be directly affected, and are all ready being affected.

It's my intent to help fuel desire to find truth, even if it's not what you want to read or hear. It's my desire and hope that you be well informed with truth and nothing but the truth that I write this.

In my many years of experience with the internet – basically since its public inception – I have found I can find any truth I want to find. That is to say: Anything I believe to be the truth should I do a search on the internet the chances are I will find it. It's like a little prize that supports what I “know” versus my being wrong. Nobody likes being wrong and the more my being right is stoked the more likely I will be to pass on the information regardless of its correctness.

I have learned over the past years I have to take what I read on the internet with a grain of salt. I have learned not to take someone's word as fact; learned that despite one's well intentions that they may be misguided therefore incorrect. I have learned that to glean a more accurate truth I must change my search terms – sometimes to quite the opposite of whatever it is I want to know.

It is the same with TV news and printed newspapers. So called information is bandied about as accurate when in fact it is nothing more than iterations of special interest groups' talking heads – and worst – our government no matter if the government is conservative or liberal.

So this brings me to the word “trust”. In my youth I trusted the news media. I trusted they would give me all the information as well as factual information. It was the same with books I read. I absorbed the information without question. I felt well-informed about subjects of which I cared.

Let me give you one example that has stuck with me over the years. It was during Bill Clinton's presidency. I voted for him his first term in office. I believed him, was certain he would not lie because who would have the audacity to lie to millions of people with the chance of getting caught in telling a non-truth? I felt this about all of our important delegates despite Nixon's Watergate coverup.

I remember watching President Clinton's face close up on camera and saying without so much as a twitch, “I did not have sex with that woman.” Now – of course – we know differently but back then I believed him, and why wouldn't I? I didn't question but merely accepted because I trusted him.

That, my darlings, was the beginning my questioning information of concern or importance I obtain or am fed via any venue in regards to and such as social, civil, economic, environmental, and political.

We all know 1+1=2 but suddenly one day – for example – a renown university tells us that is incorrect. We have been wrong all along; that actually 1+1=3. This is an extremely simplified example but one I think illustrates what it is I'm working to convey to you. So here we are. A well known and respected university tells us we've been wrong for all these many years. As a human being, I have a choice. I can choose to believe or I can question the validity.

To not question, to not mull around the information, to not ponder to find questions, to not wonder what effect the information has on you, your family, friends, children, and all citizens as a whole (if it so affects them) is to toss away an opportunity to not only advance yourself but others around you, to perhaps make the world a bit better for (future) others who follow you, to leave behind a footprint of truth however big or small it is.

To not ask yourself: “How will this affect current and future generations? How does this benefit (or not) me, my family and friends, my town, country, city, state and all of the United States now and in the future?” To blindly follow and not ask yourself those questions is a commonality, a trait I hope to never, ever find in myself.

So, truth. It is easily hidden in agendas. Stalin, Marx, Hitler, Nixon and many more past, present and future have and will find a way to make their truth your truth. Ask yourself how it can be your truth when - really – all you're doing is trusting one of many other sources where perhaps the real answer lies. It is up to you and you alone to find the answer. Does 1+1=2 or =3?

Friday, April 6, 2012

Dream of Unique Gifts Ideas

During these trying times - economically speaking, that is - it's sometimes difficult to come up with gift ideas for - say - birthdays, baby showers, bridal showers, and holidays.

I like the word cheap but the apparent politically correct thing to say is inexpensive. Inexpensive gifts aren't necessarily lower quality these days. Stores where you find inexpensive items are pushing to get the more elite crowd into their buildings and to do so the items can not be substandard.

Still, to find a unique gift is not always easily achieved especially if the someone you're purchase for all ready has just about everything they'd ever want or need. This - of course - means dreaming up or using your imagination to either make or buy that unique gift you want to give.

Personalizing a gift is always a winner. You will never go wrong in buying or making something specific for the gift recipient with their name, nickname, a special date or a picture of some sort of something they are just ga-ga over. Here's a for instance: Three years ago, my mother wanted me to wood burn a picture she had of my dad sitting a horse with a deer in his lap. I scanned, traced then wood burned the image onto a plaque of soft wood from a local hobby store. For some it would be easy; for others not so much.

A walking stick made from a 1-inch-in-diameter sapling and allowing the kids to paint it with names, dates, pictures or whatever is a fun idea. So what if the receiver of the gift isn't into hiking? So what if the gift-receiver isn't into primitive or rustic decor? The point is to have fun and to give something personal.

Then there are gag gifts. Two years ago for my mother's birthday I gave her a partially used roll of toilet paper wrapped with a single sheet of paper around the middle. I had found and printed a really cute vintage image then added the words, "For the mom who has everything EXCEPT a partially used roll of toilet paper wrapped with a cute image." She got a kick out of it and still has it displayed in her spare bathroom for all to see.

During another event for Mother, I created cute snack sized candy wrappers, printed them and wrapped several snack sized chocolate bars; found a small vase, some Styrofoam, lollipop sticks and made her a candy bar bouquet. She absolutely went nuts over it; oooed and ahhhed like a small child.

Take a picture of something they love like tulips, have a 5x7 or 8x10 printed then frame it, or put it on a T shirt, mug, magnet, or a keepsake plate. You can even add family photos of grandchildren, bride and groom, or an early picture of the gift recipient. These days it isn't hard to add photos to T shirts, mugs, key chains or other items. All you have to do is head to Zazzle where you'll find loads of gifts to personalize with photographs and your own wording.
Red & Pink Tulips Pictures zazzle_keychain

Featured here is a key chain with a picture of tulips I took not far from where I live.

Or, if you have kids have them draw a picture then apply it to a magnet. Of course, if you'll need a scanner or a friend who has a scanner to turn the works of art into digital files.

Paint a T shirt... Here's a tutorial on how to paint a t shirt with acrylic craft paints. The paint DOES NOT wash out or stain other clothing in the washer. This is a perfect project for kids. And for the little kids who aren't quite ready to paint on their own, simply apply paint to their hands then press them on to the shirt to make hand prints for relatives or god parents.

Need other ideas? Just contact me and between the two of us we'll come up with something ideal for your gift recipient.

Have fun!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Dream to Make a Change

I don't know about you but I've had up to my eyeballs with all the economic crap going on these days. And I'm especially tired of the law breaking within corporations that takes advantage of the little folk; people of the congress using information not readily available to the general public to make themselves richer; unemployment topping out at 9 point something percent.

It's all just too much to wrap my brain around and I'm damn mad at every single one of the so-and-sos in my above list which led me to a dream to line them all up Three Stooges style then smacking them. Greedy, inconsiderate, lying thugs, every last one of 'em.

When Bank of America announced they were going to add a five dollar monthly fee to accounts using debit cards I came unglued and marched straight to my computer then wrote them a letter telling them if they did charge us for using our debit cards that I was changing banks. Period. Apparently many did change banks and many did write BOA voicing their strong opposition to the charge.

Hurray for us! We effectively dismantled BOA's plan to add more money to their bottom line.

My dream of physically smacking some people didn't come true but I was part of a band of people who - through disgust and action - made a change.

Aspire to make change whether it's a personal cause, correcting a multimillion dollar business or whatever. And don't sit on your hands whining that things suck and there's nothing you can do about it. Some times there is something you can do about it. It's just a matter of taking action.

There. That's my two cents worth.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Repurpose an Old Throw Pillow

What to do with an Old Throw Pillow

Who doesn't like sock monkeys? Am I right?

Here's the scenario: I was at the Goodwill Store looking for odds and ends to repurpose when I remembered I needed stuffing for the bird sculptures I was making. Rather than buying new packaged fiber stuffing, I buy used throw pillows and use the fiber fill from them. Way cheaper - and cost effective - if you sell your crafts. I headed toward the decorative pillow section, found what I needed then headed to the checkout counter.

Weeks later after I'd made my birds sculptures (patterns found on the web), I kept looking at the cover of the pillow that now lay limp and ripped open trying to figure out what I was going to do with it. Goodness knows that I would never trash an item perfectly good for something.

Colorful repurposed throw pillow case
Well, as you can see I finally decided what to do with the pillow case. This sock monkey is absolutely colorful with the orange, lime green, burgundy and blue. I finished him (or her) off with some old buttons I found in my great grandmother's old treadle sewing machine drawers.

Sock monkey patterns can be found anywhere on the web. Just search "sock monkey pattern" and you'll come up with a goo-gaw of patterns. Or if you're brave, come up with your own design like I did.

Visit my Squidoo lens:
TShirt History and How to Personalize

Finished sock monkey

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Another Dream Comes True

Who doesn't enjoy winning a prize and making another aspiration come true? I know I do and was taken by complete surprise when I received an email announcing I had won 2nd place in a writing contest.

Below is my entry for Write that Photo Contest (blog) put on by Kara Stewart, owner of Art in Photography web site and ArtinPhotography Zazzle store. You can read the winning entry at Write that Photo Contest.

Take a look at her blog, photography and Zazzle store. She's an excellent photographer and has wonderful gift items in her store.

I hope you enjoy both short stories. Please note: My story is incomplete and was meant to be an excerpt for the contest entry only.

Gracie and Her Pumpkins

Grace raised herself off her knees then stepped back as she swiped her hands. She pointed her face to the clear Spring sky and hoped rain would soon come to wet the garden soil in which she had planted seven pumpkin seeds. The seeds wold never germinate if they didn't get water soon.

Grace loved Autumn; the colors, the smells and most of all large round pumpkins. She didn't know why she loved pumpkins. She didn't plan on entering them into any contests and she certainly wasn't going to butcher them for pumpkin pie though Lord knows she did love pumpkin pie.

She tilted her head down and stared at the ground to ponder this odd obsession. Her three brothers, mom and dad, aunts, uncles and cousins thought she was a might titched upstairs and didn't bother hiding their opinion of her odd interest in pumpkins from her. In the Spring – the time she planted her seeds – she would begin hearing the comments.

“Mom, are you sure you didn't adopt Gracie? She's so weird about those stupid pumpkin seeds. Yesterday I caught her doing a rain dance around them,” said Jason, the red headed, blue eyed second oldest brother.

But Grace wasn't bothered by his opinions. If anyone looked or acted like they were adopted, it was Jason. Grace looked most like her mother with dark hair, long legs and neck, and trim features although she had her father's dark eyes. The remaining two brothers looked like their father who also had dark hair but he was short in stature and brawny about the shoulders and arms as though he had worked at bending metal upon an anvil like the old time guys in westerns.

Yes, as far as she was concerned it was Jason who was the adopted one not her.

When she looked up at the clear sky again she felt a small twitch of worry in her stomach. This wasn't uncommon. She always felt a bit worried the seeds would die from thirst, and their suffering touched her plenty; touched her as though they were small babies left on their own to survive; and like babies, the seeds could not defend themselves or feed themselves. They were left in the arms of Mother Nature.

The days turned into weeks that turned into months until it was finally fall. Grace had watched the progress of the seeds from the moment they broke ground throughout their growth of leaves then blossoms then fruit. Small pumpkins, wee things no larger than a marble appeared one after another. All seven of her plants produced ; she didn't loose one plant. While watching their progress during the summer months she often talked to them, did her rain dance and suffered ridicule from her family members. But eventually the day came when the pumpkins looked like pumpkins;solid, orange, large and round nestled upon the ground in contact with the soil. Grace was certain the soil and pumpkins talked to one another throughout the day and night when one or the other was interested in conversation.

What the two would say to one another Grace wasn't sure except for knowing without so much as a doubt the pumpkins were grateful to the soil for ensuring nutrition. Water and soil; put the two together and you can create life.

On a morning late in September when Grace was headed to the end of the driveway where the school bus would stop to pick her up along with her brothers, Grace strolled through the garden and brushed each pumpkin softly with her hand as she had done since the pumpkins were large enough to touch. But this day, this cloudy, misty, cool day she thought the pumpkins trembled beneath her touch. Shaking her head in disbelief she continued to the end of the driveway to wait.

Her day couldn't pass quickly enough for her. She thought about and wondered about the reaction the pumpkins had to her touch. She wanted to get back home, run her fingers over the pumpkins again to see if they really trembled or if she imagined they trembled. Finally, the school bus stopped at the end of her driveway. Her brothers rushed ahead of her after shoving her down in her seat. Nonplussed, she quickly scrambled up and rushed after them then ran the whole way to the garden where her pumpkins waited for her.

She stood at the garden's edge breathing hard from the run. She wanted to wait until she had caught her breath; she didn't want anything to contaminate her test of the pumpkins. Once her breathing had slowed, she walked up to the first pumpkin and held out her free hand, grasping her books in the other, and prepared to walk between the enormous fruit. Slowly she walked along one side then down the other while brushing each pumpkin with her fingertips. Just as they had done in the morning before school, each one trembled and vibrated or she thought, “shivered” as her fingers glided along the smooth skins. After she had finished, she remained at the end of the rows and stared at the group, heart pounding at the base of her throat, wondering if she should make a report to her mother of what she had discovered.

Instead, she directed questions toward the two rows.

“Are you trying to tell me something? Am I hurting you when I touch your skin? Are you uncomfortable?

But she got no answer. Not one pumpkin reacted to her questions. For a moment after she finished asking the pumpkins her questions, she thought – for only a moment, mind you – they would somehow communicate with her and put to rest what she was now going to be dreaming about in her sleep and while awake: Are the pumpkins conscious?

Half disappointed and half disgusted, she made her way over the muddy path to the old farm house. She entered the back porch allowing the screen door to slam behind her then shoved open the old door that separated the porch from the kitchen.

“Did you have a good day, Hon?” her mother said while peeling a large potato to put into a pot of stew.

“It was okay,” said Grace. She continued walking, avoiding her mother's concerned gaze and climbed the stairs to her room she fortunately didn't have to share with any of her brothers allowing her privacy to brood over the days event with the pumpkins.

“Why are they doing that?” she wondered. “I must be obsessing to much. Maybe I'm crazy.”

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