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Sarah, Sarah, Sarah

  • Posted on April 22, 2010 at 2:40 pm

When I first heard about Sarah Palin during the 2008 election I had much curiosity.  I had been bullied by the Democratic Party during the primary, so I kept an open mind about Sarah.  When the Democrats started treating Sarah much like they treated Hillary Clinton I became even more curious.  I found myself drawn to her for many reasons.  When the Democrats made fun of her down to earth attitude and folksy voice I was amused.  No she didn’t have an “ivy league” pedigree but I kept thinking “thank God”.  I’m really tired of the attitude the Democrats have taken against these two strong women, Sarah and Hillary.  I found Sarah to be a breath of fresh air, someone that seemed willing to tell it like it is and not cater to certain groups of people, like wealthy Republicans!  I listened intently to her speeches and found them to be more against corruption than anything else.  This was something I grew to admire as I think there is much corruption in government that leads to government waste.  I even admired the way she held her baby in one hand and managed campaigning with phone calls and all with the other hand.  Fast forward to the Republican convention and this electrifying speech:

I liked what I heard and I was totally annoyed with the Obama team anyway.  I continued to like and to be drawn to Sarah, even after the election.  I continued to follow her and even bought her book, Going Rogue.  I enjoyed the book until I got to the all powerful, all important, Ronald Reagan, section.  I couldn’t believe this woman that I had admired could herself so admire Ronald Reagan.  I kept thinking this must be for her base, you know those crazy Republicans!  I still liked Sarah’s take charge attitude and her willingness to remain a fairly “normal” person.  I could even over look many of her faults and found her interesting even though many of her ideas were diametrically opposite my own.

Recently, I have had to give up on Sarah.  It seems the Sarah that I was drawn to has disappeared and been replaced with a new Sarah.   The new Sarah is more about making her own money than helping others make and keep theirs.  The new Sarah is making crazy statements at Tea Party events that I find terribly troubling.  We live in a violent society.  People that are seemingly at their wit’s end because of the economy or whatever else is ailing them don’t need someone encouraging them to act out with violent actions.  Sarah can say that her words mean something else but most of us see that as just more political double speak.  Words do have meaning and saying things can have an effect on people at their most vulnerable times.  The new Sarah has embraced the most right wing of the Republican Party.  It is unfortunate that the Republican Party has encouraged her behavior because it’s good for their business.  They like the money she can bring in at these events.  They are banking on these Tea Party people voting for them.  Many of those Tea Party people will probably vote Republican but it isn’t because they liked GW and how he spent money.  They are banking on the Republicans becoming more conservative with their money.  However, it defies logic how anyone can view these Republicans as being fiscally responsible.  They bank rolled these two wars on the future taxes of our youngsters.  They’re good at spending money on war and pretty much nothing else.  Sarah speaks with that same old rhetoric when she talks about our soldiers.  She creates this picture of such noble, greatness when the truth is neither of these current wars could possibly be described as being noble or great.  The soldiers are doing their job and sometimes their job requires extreme bravery.  This is noble.  They sacrifice much but the Republicans that put them there are anything but noble.  They would send anyone’s child to war but not their own.  Of course there are exceptions to this.  We know that both Sarah Palin and John McCain have children in the military and are willing to send them off to fight but there are many that had better things to do with their time as Vice President Cheney claimed during the Vietnam War.

I am deeply troubled with the antics of the new Sarah.  I can’t embrace the verbal assault that she continues to make about the Obama administration and the federal government in general.  I want a solution driven Sarah, one with ideas, not violent tinged rhetoric.  As far as the Obama administration goes they have yet to earn my trust.  However, it would be foolish for any American to want them to fail in any way.  We are at the center of a storm.  We must work together creatively for a solution to the problems we face.  Democrats and Republicans should be working together for the common good of our nation.  The economy is in dire straits.  While some of the losses have been recouped from the stock market crash of 2008, much of that wealth has not spread to the little guy.  Sarah has much new found wealth but I fear with her wealth she has lost touch with the rest of us.  I can see that President Obama may be trying to make some changes to the banking industry.  I see this as a plus.  The verdict is still out on his administration but it is still far superior to the Bush years.  Those years have left our nation in a world of hurt.  For anyone to want to revisit those years they would have to be insane!

The two parties missed a great opportunity to help our nation during the health care debate.  Instead of real reform we ended up with some washed down version.  People and businesses would have all been better off if this reform had included a single payer option.  The cost of insurance is just mind boggling and I don’t see this changing with this watered down plan.  Sarah was against all of this.  On a personal basis it should be noted that her children and Todd already have health care because they are Native Americans.  Sarah doesn’t have to worry about health care for her children.  Unfortunately, most Tea Party people don’t know this information about Sarah.  When Sarah talks about death panels she omits the death panel that visited my sister that didn’t have health insurance.  My sister had her own death panel when her doctor made it very clear that she wasn’t “worth” much to him.  She didn’t have the true care that she deserved because she didn’t have insurance.  When my sister had insurance she doctored.  When she didn’t, she avoided going because it cost too much.  When she finally was forced to go it was late in her cancer, treatment was expensive and that in itself was a death panel!

I’m no longer looking to politicians for anything insightful.  I thought John Edwards was insightful but he was so busy screwing up his own life that he lost track of that insight.  He was a common man that I thought really cared about me.  John changed.  Sarah had something special.  She had a way of communicating to the common people that made us want to believe that she is one of us and that she cared about us.  She has lost all of this appeal.  She no longer interests me.  She has grown up into a full fledged millionaire that just doesn’t care about us little guys.  The Tea Party people need to figure this out.  Ronald Reagan was never one of us like so many tried to convince us.  George Bush wasn’t one of us either.  These politicians were wealthy people that were powerful and made to look common but were not common.  Sarah was common and powerful now she is wealthy and powerful but she doesn’t really speak the truth of the common person any more.  It is more Republican rhetoric and talking points.  Her power holds no truth and it is dangerous to have power and no truth!

Hug a Racist Month

  • Posted on April 8, 2010 at 9:24 pm

I would be the first to tell you that I am not a fan of Barack Obama.  For me he is too much of a Republican and not enough of a real Democrat.  I also didn’t like the way he ran his campaign including the way he treated both Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin.  He also basically implied that Bill Clinton is a racist.  Race was used throughout his campaign and it made me crazy.  No one could say anything against Barack Obama without being called a racist.  I felt this was all wrong during the election.   I really felt it divided our country instead of uniting it.

Leave it to the Republicans to make me slide to the side of President Obama.  Governor McDonnell from the state of Virgina has declared April to be Confederate History month.  I thought the Civil War was over and the slaves were set free.  Yes, the winners got to write the history book and thus get to celebrate their victory.  However, the victory was a victory for our country.  I get tired of hearing about the Civil War.  Back in the eighties I lived in Oklahoma.  Just about every pickup I saw had a Confederate flag hanging in the back window.  That flag is a symbol for racism.  The fight was about slavery.  For a governor in the 21st Century to want to celebrate anything about that war I find it just ridiculous and an amazing step backwards into ignorance.  We have a racial and class divide in this country as it is why would any politician want to push those buttons of hate?

Living in Oklahoma was interesting.  The people were really nice and friendly but some of them were racist.  They loved the University of Oklahoma black football players but they only loved them for winning a game.  They certainly wouldn’t want them dating their daughters.  I could feel it.  They flew their Confederate flags with such pride that I thought the war was still going on.  They would reference the war to me solely because I was from the north.  I, of course, never even thought about the Civil war.  I went to Michigan State University in the seventies.  While I grew up in a small town in Michigan where it would be rare to even know a black person, attending the university allowed me to grow as a person and meet many people of color from all over the country and even the world.  I always felt like I lived under a bubble at MSU as it was sort of like a utopia in the way we all embraced our differences.  I can assure you that many of the people that I met in western Oklahoma thought about the war and when someone from the north was in their midst it was mentioned as though it happened yesterday.  Now I know that many of them lost family and friends in the war and maybe there was never a real “healing” for this but to want to celebrate such a tragedy in our history is a mistake.  Just when a wound is beginning to heal why should we pick at that scab?  I can only believe this is so important this year because Barack Obama dared to become President.  Gov. McDonnell mentions next year as being a 150 year celebration but what is there to celebrate?  The lives lost by both the north and the south?  That scab will never heal unless we all become one as a nation.  We shouldn’t celebrate the north and the south.  We should celebrate America!  If you are so inclined to celebrate April with Confederate History month please hug a racist as they need all the love they can get.

What Motivates People?

  • Posted on April 8, 2010 at 11:53 am

I just watched this amazing video of a 96 year old man bungee jumping.  I found it strange but amazing.  First of all it is amazing when anyone does something that would really scare the hell out of most normal people.  However, when you’re 96 and doing these crazy, scary things one has to wonder what motivates you to do it?  This all got me thinking about what motivates people?

I know a lot of people are motivated by money either they have it and want to keep it or they don’t have it and want to obtain it.  Some people are motivated by jealousy.  They want something someone else has.  Others are motivated by thrills.  This would be the bungee jumper types and those people that want to climb every mountain they can find.  Some people are motivated by sex.  It defines their every real moment in life.  Some people are motivated by religion.  It is their center for all they do.  As I’m writing this I’m thinking this reminds me of the seven deadly sins:  wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy and gluttony.  Maybe these are all of the things that really motivate us.  If you think about it and plug in the word each and every one of these probably motivates many of us.

Some people are motivated by anger.  Anger gets them to do things they might not otherwise do both good and bad.  Anger can be a great motivator when you want to show someone else that you are better than they are at something.  However, then you have to worry about that old “pride” thing.  I’ve never really understood why pride is a sin unless you are holding something over someone else’s head.  You know like “I’m better than you are stuff.”  Jealousy can fall under the old greed and envy sins.  They are all tied together.  We all know people that always think the grass is greener on the other side or those that feel like life has some how been harder for them, and maybe it has.  I don’t know if people are motivated by sloth.  I do know some people that don’t want to put much effort into anything.  We all know people that want to just “get by”.  They aren’t really motivated to push themselves for anything extra.  They aren’t motivated by money or much of the other things that motivate people.  They’re happy when they’re not challenged.  They aren’t motivated to clean up their own environment as that might take too much effort.  Many of us are motivated by food or alcohol or some other vice.  We’re motivated because it tastes or feels good.  It’s a quick fix for anything that might be ailing us.

Obviously, as I’m thinking about it many things can at any one time motivate us.  I have always been motivated by my own moral code and sense of honor and duty.  There is no escaping this thing inside me probably developed from Catholicism.  It’s that little thing that constantly tells me what is right and wrong and heaven forbid that I choose what is wrong.  It’s hard to live with a moral conscious but I’ve grown accustom to it all these years.  It doesn’t mean that I sit in judgment of other people, it just means there is always something in my head weighing most important decisions that I make.

Some people are motivated by other people.  I suppose Barack Obama motivated a lot of people with his “Yes, I can!” mantra.  We know that Hitler was highly motivating as he got many people to follow him.  Other people can be motivating to us whether we realize it or not.  Sometimes when I’m teaching I see my students get motivated by the artwork of other students.  They watch and learn and sometimes it will get them working and feeling like they too can create something wonderful.

I’ve never understood what motivates a lot of people.  I don’t think I’m very good at figuring people out at all.  I am just an observer of this crazy world we live in.  I will quietly think and write about all of the things that I think about.  What motivated me to write today was a crazy 96 year old bungee jumper.  My words cannot express the exhilaration he must have felt flying through the air but I can try to understand what might have motivated him.  Humans are a complicated species that are made up of risk takers and quiet writers that can only dream of the excitement and exhilaration of the oldest bungee jumper!

The Video We Aren’t Supposed to See

  • Posted on April 7, 2010 at 12:36 pm

Please don’t watch this video if you can’t take the truth of it all.

This is the article that accompanied the video that I first watched.

War is hell.  We all know this but what we don’t spend a lot of time thinking about is what happens when the men and women that are part of that hell come home.  After seeing this video, that we aren’t supposed to see, I could only think about the inhumanity that I witnessed.  The men talking and shooting acted like they were merely at a shooting range.  The people they sniped off were poor unaware bastards that were in the wrong place at the wrong time.  I first saw the incomplete video on CNN.  CNN explained they wouldn’t show the complete video out of respect for the dead and their families.  I think it was more like to cover up the deeply disturbing video that showed American soldiers, acting like this was nothing more than a video game they were in the middle of playing.  There was no thought for the people below that were kept in the gun’s site.  There was no thought for the guy that was wounded and trying to crawl away except for wanting him to pick up a gun so they could shoot some more.

We have been raising our children for war now for some time.  Since September 2001 we have spent these last nine years filled with hate and creating children that have learned how to hate like us.  We have desensitized them through video games that even the Pentagon loves for training their future soldiers.  What I worry about is what is happening with our society.  We seem divided as a nation but when I look at these two stupid wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, we seem to be united in our hate.  A Republican president started them and a Democratic president continues them.  What is this really going to get us?

I do know that we have many men and women that are coming back hurt by their time engaged in war.  Some have mental hurts and others are physical.  Some have shed their blood in these wars with no clear mission of what has been accomplished.  We, as a society, will have to deal with all of this pain when these soldiers come home.  Some will turn to crime and have already and some will live with their own personal hell hidden in sweat filled, agonizing nights of horror while others will feel daily the looks from strangers at their mangled and burnt bodies.  What will all of this do for our country and what has it done for our country.

We glorify war in movies hoping to propagandize the next generation into thinking that being a soldier is filled with honor and glory.  Being a soldier may be honorable but the government that often sends these soldiers to war often is not honorable.  We have war hawks in government that have never been a soldier themselves.  Government officials that would never send their own children to war but would ask you to send your children in a heart beat.

I feel the wounds deep in our country for our children.  I look in my art classroom and I wonder about the children I am teaching.  How many of them will go off to these crazy wars.  Am I just teaching children so they can be used in a future senseless war?  Will these young children be put to the test of their lives in the hell that is Iraq or Afghanistan?  No one can give me that answer because I taught young people in 2002 that have ended up fighting in these two wars of today.  We are in a senseless, endless war with the boogey man that is terrorism.  We will give up our freedom and even our children to fight this boogey man.  We will allow our hate to change our children into hate filled, killing machines so we can feel “safe” once again.

We will protect ourselves from the hell of it all by watching cleaned up versions of the news and heroic movies.  We will excuse the behavior of these soldiers when they come back as we all know war is hell.  However, if they get too out of control we will slap them in jail and throw away the key.  I remember Timothy McVeigh and the truth is he was created by our government.  He was filled with hate and loathing.  Are we creating more soldiers like him to come home to no job and filled with anger and hate?

I hate war.  I have been told that sometimes it may be necessary.  However, when I look through the history books war seems to be more about turf building than people building.  Powerful countries have warred on to control land, minerals, and people.  I don’t think it is much different today.  We have even had holy wars because God would have wanted this to be so?  One of my brothers even worries about the terrorists taking over the United States and making us all bow to Allah.  I hear paranoia in this kind of thinking but it is brought on by a corporate controlled and owned media in America that makes much money off these wars.

War is man made hell created by a society that cares more about their next computer gadget and social networking than it does about the innocence lost by our children from this hell and the numbing of our souls by this warring mentality.

Thinking of Eva

  • Posted on April 7, 2010 at 8:40 am

I love the music of Eva Cassidy.  I first learned about her from a news program a few years ago.  She had the voice of an angel and unfortunately I didn’t discover her until long after her death.  Eva will have no “Graceland” to immortalize her but she has a steady number of devoted fans that marvel at her pure, soulful voice.

If you are naturally depressed just listen to Eva and your cares will be lessened.  There is something comforting in her soft, melodic tone that envelopes me with the hand of God.  I feel comforted.  Many of the songs she sang were classics but she breathed new life into them and she always makes me take another look so to speak.  There is something new every time I hear her sweet voice.

If you want to know about Eva’s life you can read about her here.

I bought a few cds hoping her parents would get something out of it and not some recording company fat cat.

I never knew that Cyndi Lauper wrote “Time After Time” until recently.  I should have known but I wasn’t in to her type of music in the eighties.  I was into having a baby, getting a divorce and raising my son.  There was no time for music but we all really need music to comfort our souls.  I love this song.  It’s all about being there for someone else.  I believe you cannot truly remain heartless and unaffected by life if you listen to Eva.  She will bring out the best in you.

The Stepford Wives and Women Today

  • Posted on April 6, 2010 at 11:16 am

The Stepford Wives Movie With Katherine Ross and Peter Masterson.

For three bucks I purchased the original “Stepford Wives” movie from BigLots.  I had never seen that movie even though it came out in the seventies.  The remade version with Nicole Kidman in my opinion is just about awful!  I always loved Katherine Ross because I thought she was so beautiful so I decided to watch it.  It was interesting watching the old cars and the way people dressed in the seventies but some things stay the same, like the beautiful wife married to the balding, not so great looking, guy.  The movie is largely a statement about the threat women’s liberation is to men and their egos.  In the original movie we don’t end up with a satisfying ending.  In fact we are terrorized in the final thirty minutes of the movie when we realize what’s really happening.  I could feel the terror and confusion that Katherine’s character felt when she was trying to figure out what was happening in the village of Stepford.  Why were these wonderful, engaging, thinking, talented women suddenly turning into robotic images of themselves?  She was in fear of losing herself.  Just as all women secretly fear losing their identity when they marry a man and take his name.  In fact many women today keep their maiden names so they can hold on to their own identity whether it is for work purposes or to continue their heritage.  In the movie the men have formed a club, a club of men that work to make their lives perfect.  Perfect means a wife that is more like a robot than a human, a wife that will think you are a great lover, even if you aren’t, and one that will build you up and make you feel like you are the most important person in the world and can also cook.  The movie assaults men by making them appear to care only about the outward appearance of their women and nothing else.  The men were faced with a decision to rid themselves of their “nagging” wives by “creating” a better model of the imperfect one, one with larger breasts who could dolt after her husband and never challenge him in any way possible.

I used to think we have come along way baby, much like the Virginia Slims commercial from decades ago but now I feel that women have taken a huge step backwards.  It was brought home in the 2008 election when both Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin were treated with such disrespect by the media, bloggers and even other candidates.  We all remember hearing about Hillary’s “cankles” and Sarah’s beauty was served up to destroy her credibility.  I thought we were living back in the fifties with the attitude toward these two women in politics.  I realize now that given the decades between the Stepford Wives and today nothing has really evolved all that much.  Men are still pigs as witnessed by the behavior of the Tiger, Jesse and Johns of the world.  Women are still trying to please their “man” as witnessed by the women who choose to get involved with these characters.  Most were probably opportunists that used their bodies to get what they thought they wanted, fame, fortune or whatever they were seeking but none of them were looking for self-respect which is foreign all of them.

As a young woman I never wanted to be “dependent” on a man.  I don’t know if it is because I have ten brothers or what.  I just knew that I wanted my own identity.  As an older woman I don’t care one way or the other but I am “man-less”.  I am a divorced woman of many years and I have never been interested in any real relationship since.  In fact I never put myself in situations where I could develop another relationship.  That in itself is probably strange for most people to understand.  However, I do have a strong sense of who I am as a person and what I’m willing to put up with.  In the Stepford Wives movie women with a strong sense of self were eventually beaten by the man and their identities and lives were brutally destroyed.  In real life today women are still putting up with men who don’t appreciate who they really are.  Women are still buying every product they can to please their man whether it be some beauty product, fancy negligees or even implants.  While women do everything they can to attract their man and keep him men continue to think the world revolves around them.  They have been told by their mothers that they are perfect and many of them believe it.  They can be bald, fat, and ugly but women will still appreciate them.  Women on the other hand better stay as they were in their twenties and thirties or they may risk losing their man to the younger version of themselves.

I don’t think women need to be more like men.  I just think it’s time that both sexes were honest with each other about what they need.  Men need to listen to their mates and really appreciate them and women need to see men as more than a paycheck.  Men control the world but need to let women have more involvement in the process.  The world would be a better place if we could use both sides of our brains.  Depending on men for everything only utilizes half of our potential as a race.  If we want peace in this world then we should try putting women of substance in powerful positions.  If we want equality then we should treat each other with respect.  If men love their daughters they should push for equality of the sexes and equality doesn’t mean a woman can choose which implant to get or what dinner to cook.  Equality means making decisions on your own without being pushed into situations you really don’t want to be in.  Equality means not being discriminated against because you are female.  Equality means you will be respected because you are human not because you are a man or a woman.

The Stepford Wives never knew what was happening until it was too late to change the inevitable.  People today, both men and women, can stop this disrespect of women by not feeding the frenzy pushed by the media and not buying into every gadget that is supposed to bring you fulfillment in finding a mate.  Equality will come when we have self respect.  This is not equality. While women might think acting like a man will get them what they want; it doesn’t.

Source: Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer The Portland Press Herald

Interrupted Peace

  • Posted on April 6, 2010 at 9:31 am

I was sitting on the deck this morning in my nightgown drinking my coffee and marveling at the peacefulness of the day.  The sky is rather gloomy looking but so quiet and calm.  The only perceptible sound was the soft chirping of birds as I sat thinking.  I wanted to let my new puppy explore the backyard.  He seems so timid.  Just prior to going out I was lamenting how achy I felt.  As I sat there I noticed my aches lessening and my mind drifted to other thoughts.  I was thinking about random things like how I bet it isn’t so peaceful for people in Iraq or Afghanistan.  As I looked around my backyard I saw the dried up brush from last years flowers but I also saw the potential of the new growth as it is beginning to break through after the cold winter months.  I had a sense of hope about the potential for this coming year beginning with a new puppy and a sense of being at peace with myself.  I thought about how hectic some people make their lives with rushing around and speeding up their lives with all of the new technology gadgets.  I even thought about that saying, “Stop and smell the roses.”  By the time I was finished with my coffee and I decided to take the dog back in I was ready to contemplate my day and decided to write about my peaceful experience. I walked back into the reality of my day by taking an Aleve tablet and then sitting down to type.  I popped up Microsoft Word and thought, “What’s that smell?”  The reality of the day is Brody, the new puppy, had for the second time pooped in my downstairs bedroom.  I can’t imagine when he snuck in there to do it as I immediately took him out before and after his meal.  I thought what a contrast in my morning, peacefulness to frustration with doggy potty training!  Cats are so much easier to train.

Brody, the new puppy, guilt free after his little deception!

Snow Bella, always a quick learner, and always distracting me from what I want to do!

Tiger Woods or Jesse James, Who Cares?

  • Posted on April 5, 2010 at 4:16 pm

Why is everyone obsessed with Tiger Woods?  I turned on the “news” today to see what’s happening in the world and even though there was an earthquake in California all I could find was “news” on Tiger.  I swear if Tiger sneezes they’ll report on it.  I’m one of those people that just do not care two hoots about Tiger and his sexual exploits.  When I turn on the news I want to hear about politics, issues and what’s happening in the world that will possibly affect my life.  Tiger will never affect my life in any way possible.  Neither will Jesse James, John Edwards or Mark Sanford and yet these are the most important stories to hit the airways in the past year.  I know more about each of these men’s sex lives than I do about the recently passed health care reform bill.  The news media has been taking their cues from the National Inquirer.  The press is lazy and not willing to do the hard work to really report news or even to know what is newsworthy.  Truthfully, men having sex is not news.  It’s been happening for years.  It even happened in the “olden” days.  As much as we think we are above the fray and so over the puritanical nature of our heritage we cannot escape it because the press keeps pressing the flesh of these men in our faces night after night.  In my mind this is done to make money but to also keep our little minds busy with fluff while something really important is going on.  We all know how the shell game works.  The magician distracts us to the point that we have no clue which cup “it” is under.  Today the news is full of distraction to keep our minds off important issues like the war, the economy and health care for all.

It doesn’t matter who is in power, a Republican or a Democrat.  It is only important that we all remain distracted and more interested in these sexual exploits of these men than in real issues.  Heaven forbid if we found out General Electric is profiting off these two wars or will potentially make a bundle off the “green” and “health care” economy push!

While G.E. profits their network, NBC, reports the news to us.  We never get the connections G.E. has to many of the issues we face today.

As you can see G.E. touches our lives in many ways.  They have their fingers in a lot of proverbial pies including the maker of “news” or what gets served up as news.  Is there any wonder why we keep hearing about Tiger or Jesse?

Sir Rusty Braveheart, My Faithful Friend

  • Posted on April 4, 2010 at 10:00 pm

Rusty and Josh

Rusty, My Faithful Friend

This past year has been very difficult for me.  My wonderful pet, Rusty, lost his battle with cancer on December 2nd.  My whole year was consumed with trying to help him get better only to discover that it just wasn’t going to happen.  After spending much money and devoting my whole life to helping Rusty my efforts just weren’t enough to save him.  I thought I was going to prove those doctors wrong and that Rusty really didn’t have cancer at all.  He just needed to cleanse and purify his liver.  I cooked for Rusty because I was so worried about what was really in his dog food that might have made him so sick.  I became obsessive and I wouldn’t go anywhere because I couldn’t leave Rusty with anybody else.  By the end of the summer Rusty started to get terrible nose bleeds.  If you haven’t seen a dog with a nose bleed, it is tough to take.  The dog will sneeze and your place ends up looking like a crime scene.  I still haven’t gotten all of the blood out of my car from the times when I had to take Rusty to the vet to stop the bleeding.  I thought if a cop stopped me when all that blood was in the car, he would be wondering where the body was buried.

Rusty really was my son, Josh’s pet.  He only became my pet when Josh went to college.  Rusty was devoted to me like no animal has ever been before.  He followed me everywhere and I treated him like he was truly human because to me he was.  Losing Rusty was like losing a cherished friend.  I would have done anything I could to save Rusty and I did everything I could think of to help him get better.  Rusty died on December 2nd.  I came home from school knowing that this could be his last day.  He had a tough time the day before.  When I got home I could see how hard he was laboring and frankly I remembered my father’s death vividly at this time.  My sister and I were with dad when he had his last breath.  I will never forget how difficult it was for us to be both praying for dad to recover and praying for a peaceful death.  We really knew dad was going and there was no coming back by his labored breathing.  Rusty was struggling and had lost control of his bodily functions as he wasn’t able to get up.  I knew I couldn’t make him struggle any longer.  I got some help to get him into the car and I took him to the vet’s office.  I was so sad having to say goodbye to my treasured friend but I knew he wouldn’t suffer any longer and that was all I was thinking about.

I have wanted to share my thoughts on Rusty but it has taken this long to feel comfortable with doing this.  Rusty wasn’t loved by everyone as he scared the hell out of delivery men, especially UPS guys in their brown uniforms.  I’d put Rusty on the stairs and shut the door.  They always wanted me to make sure the door was secure.  Rusty was a little crazy when I would go to work.  I never really knew what I might find when I got home.  Rusty could either dig up the covers on my bed or kill my sofa.  It was the worse case of separation anxiety I have ever heard of.  I think this comes with the Aussie breed as I have talked to other people about this issue.  For me Rusty was more important than my sofa.  I’d just put some duct tape on the cushion and buy a new slip cover.  I know that sounds crazy too but if you could only have known Rusty and talked with him like I did, you would understand.  You see I would ask Rusty, in a normal tone of voice, if he wanted to go outside, eat or whatever and he always knew what I was talking about.  It was pretty strange but this is one of the reasons I loved Rusty so much!  Rusty was a smart dog but he never was clever like my niece’s dog.  Jackie’s dog, Darby, interacts with the animals on television.  Rusty would just sit there and never even notice animals or anything else on television but Darby always notices and reacts to them.

Separation Anxiety

Rusty used to stay with me when I worked in my studio.  He’d lie beside me while I painted or threw on the wheel.  He was content just to be with me.  It was always a comfort having Rusty near by.  Sometimes I’d trip over him because he’d be right under my feet but I always knew I could count on Rusty for being a faithful companion.  He was always there looking for pets or a treat from me.  He also loved playing with his many toys.  I knew he was really ill when he stopped playing with those toys.  Once in awhile we’d still have a tug of war with a toy though and he’d happily take it away from me and feel like he had “won” our game.  Little did he know that I always let him win!  Rusty was a beautiful dog with soft, silky hair.  I loved petting him and looking into his big brown eyes.  He had a strong personality but most of all he was loyal to a fault.  He would never have an “accident” in the house.  Rusty would “hold” it until he could get out.  So when he hit his last day and couldn’t move and was losing his control I knew how hard that was on him and I knew what I had to do to help him.  However, painful it was for me I knew Rusty was more upset about leaving me than anything else as we were best of friends.  I know Rusty loved me and was faithful to me.  He was never disloyal to me.  He was always there when I was both happy and sad.  He sensed all I needed from my loyal friend.  If I was feeling sad I’d get a cold nose rubbing against my hand or leg.  If I was happy about something he’d always get excited too.  Rusty was my loyal friend and I will love and remember him forever.   Rest in peace my faithful friend.

We’ve Gotta Have Art

  • Posted on April 2, 2010 at 11:11 am

Teaching middle school art today is very different from when I was young and just out of college.  I remember the enthusiasm I had for teaching my first class in Fowler, Michigan.  It was so exciting to be out of school and to finally get a job.  I graduated in December of 1977.  It was in the middle of the school year and there weren’t any jobs really available.  I started working at Sugar Loaf Mountain resort as a hostess for the restaurant.  It didn’t pay very much and I didn’t stay long after they wanted me to design wine labels for the same pay as the hostess job.  I also found it very elitist in their attitude.  As an employee we were not supposed to fraternize with the tourists coming to ski the mountain.  I didn’t have a problem with that but they really didn’t want us to even go to the bar or restaurant.  It felt more like the hired help wasn’t good enough to sit next to the wealthy establishment.  I found the place rather stifling with their rules and expectations for the “hired help”.  They found out I had an art background so they wanted to use that.  Regardless of their motives I soon found employment at Kmart in the camera department.  I really enjoyed working at Kmart as they put me in an area where I had a lot of expertise and they respected my intelligence.  In the summer when I was interviewing for a teaching position the management was overwhelmingly supportive.  I was given the time I needed to interview and people were very happy when I snagged my first teaching job.  It felt like a family at Kmart as everyone was very encouraging of the young people that had gone to college and were looking for jobs in their fields.

When I arrived at Fowler I got right to work on working with the young students to create art.  We had so much fun together.  At the end of the school year I organized an art show while the gym teacher organized a dance and the music teacher had a concert.  We had a great turn out from the community and this was established for each year until I left a few years later.  I did manage to paint an eagle with two boys, with scaffolding, on the gym wall.  What an experience that was for someone who is afraid of heights!  I took a break from teaching and devoted myself to my art, making pottery and traveling to different art shows in Oklahoma and Michigan.  For many years I was happy doing this but when my son started kindergarten I volunteered to bring in my pottery wheel and demonstrate for the students.  I fired pottery pieces the students made and fell in love with the idea of teaching again.  I decided to update my teaching credentials.

A lot had happened in my years away from teaching.  Something called D.B.A.E (Disciplined Based Art Education) happened.  I was out of the loop but I easily got back into the loop.  However, teaching art has to be more about art production than anything else.  The art history, aesthetics and art criticism are all important but working with young people today it is so important to actually get their hands on the art materials and help them experience what it feels like to produce art.  In this age of text messaging and quick technology fixes I think it is more important than ever to develop creativity within my students.  So many students don’t have a clue how things are really made and why we buy the things that we do.  While art is all around them in designs that they purchase from their shoes, totes, mp3 players and phones so many of them are clueless about the thought that these items are purchased because of their interesting design concepts.  Some of them think that a computer spits out the design.  They don’t think about what person may have put the idea into the computer.  I try to point this out to my students because there is vast ignorance from most people about these issues.  Art is so important in all of our lives today whether we are aware of it or not.  We are surrounded by art in many forms and we make decisions about art on a daily basis whether it is decorating our homes or buying a car.  Art surrounds us in ways we don’t even think about!

I had an opportunity to review my art curriculum this year.  I was able to add a document camera and a projector to my teaching tool box.  This has resulted in a major change in my instruction delivery.  When I would show students how to do things in the past they would have to look at a mirror placed strategically over my head.  Now it’s projected.  If I’m doing something very detailed I can even zoom in for the students.  That student sitting in the very back of the room can now actually see what I’m trying to show them.  I marvel at this new technology and how computers have snuck their way into the art classroom through art programs and even online galleries.  Some people might think art is a thing of the past but art really is evolving and is the future.  We, as consumers, will always be drawn to beauty and grace.  Art will be in our future designs and really the creativity of our nation is dependent on the continued exposure to all the arts in their many forms.  Without art we become a mass produced society, plastic in many ways, without a heart.  It is art that nourishes our souls and completes our craving to be unique, to know that we are original beings and that we aren’t just one of many but one in a million!

When I was young and a beginning teacher I never thought about how teaching art might change.  It was all pretty basic in my mind.  You draw, paint, and sculpt; whatever medium you use art remains fairly unchangeable in its end result.  However, now I realize that art and its medium is constantly changing.  Today we have artists creating art through recyclables, computers, videos and much more.  Art is never stagnant and never stays the same.  Art is truly the most original thing that one can do.  Art continues to allow our imaginations to soar and our creativity to flourish.  Today there is more to art than ever as we search for new ways to express ourselves.  The importance of art in this rigid testing structure of education cannot be overly emphasized.  If we are to truly think, dream and imagine we must have art in our lives and we must nourish our souls with the making of art.

A video from our high school art teachers and the 2010 Scholastic Art Awards

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