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The War within the War

  • Posted on July 31, 2010 at 10:37 am

The picture of the young Afghan woman on the cover of Time magazine is very troubling.  I, as a woman and human being, am terribly troubled by policies that continue to confine women into the rolls of pre-civilization.  However, I don’t believe that picture alone, or the others that it links to, should determine our policy in the Afghanistan war.  The two wars, Iraq and Afghanistan, we are currently fighting are a continuation of the “Bush Doctrine”.  Personally, I’ve never been fully persuaded that we needed to fight either war, even if President Obama maintains that the Afghanistan war is the “good” war.  Really, can war ever be good?  President Bush kept reminding us that we are fighting them over there, so we don’t have to fight them over here.  I don’t think he cared about this young woman’s face as he took the war to her backyard.  So, I want to know when is enough, truly enough?  When will this war of nine years be over?  What does winning really look like?  Some think we are already there.  So, what I want to ask Time Magazine is which pictures of American soldiers does it want to put on the cover of its magazine next?

American soldiers have given enough for these wars!

Inspiring Woman Soldier

Life Goes On
How much more do our soldiers need to sacrifice for these wars?
Do they want to include our war torn soldiers or maybe the coffins being transported home.  Yes, I know war is hell and that may very well be what they are trying to show us.  However, if the picture is to continue to manipulate us into staying in a war that has totally busted our economy and looks like the definition of insanity, you know doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result, then I question its purpose.  Now if it is just to show us war is hell and to get us talking about the war so we can get the hell out, then I’m all for it.

Many people proclaim their love for our troops.  They exclaim how wonderful it is that these young people fight for “our” freedoms.  They safely wear their little flag pins to show us all how patriotic they are while those of us that don’t think war is the answer for everything do all the hard work of questioning the authority of our government. When our soldiers sacrifice so much and sometimes give the ultimate sacrifice these same people proclaim how proud they are to be Americans and to be represented by such brave, young soldiers.  Many of these same people don’t even put any thought into these two wars and the impact on our troops and whether we should actually be fighting these wars.  I don’t know if it is because they are removed from the death and destruction of war that they don’t seemingly notice or care about the real “war within the war or not.

Now I come to Bradley Manning, Bradass87, and I am wondering what will happen to this young man.

I actually think he did a great service because the war that nobody notices has actually got some people talking about it.  It’s interesting that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton went to Pakistan with our financial aid to them only to find out that Pakistan has been supposedly fueling the fires with the Taliban.  The President and his staff has tried to get us off the subject of this war but it is time that we have a frank discussion about whether we should continue on the path that we have been taking.  President Obama has continued so many of the policies of President Bush that I can hardly tell the two apart.  I had hoped that with a new president we would have a change in our Middle East policies.

Osama Bin Laden wanted to destroy our country and he knew the only way to do it was to take out our money system.  As far as I am concerned, it looks like he has won whether he is dead or alive.  Our economy is a disaster; life as most of us lived it is pretty much over.  No one can tell us what the economy will be like tomorrow except for more gloom and doom.  We are involved in two wars that continue to cost us in broken lives, broken bodies and broken banks yet we continue on this path of insanity.  Our children will be going to crowded schools in the fall because there is no money, homeowners have to watch their own homes and hope no one breaks in as a lot of police officers are also laid off.   Government services are getting less and less with less open hours to get anything done.  Our infrastructure is falling apart and we don’t have the money to repair it.  The only thing we are sure to do is to send more money for war.  “We can’t take care of things over here because we must do it over there.”  I guess that’s the new motto!

Organizing the Unemployed for a Voting Block

  • Posted on July 30, 2010 at 2:34 pm

An unemployment line in Plainfield Township in Michigan.

Most people today don’t need a political poll to know that our country is heading in the wrong direction.  Unemployment and under employment are a part of our every day life.  Many people are sitting on pins and needles hoping the other shoe doesn’t drop and they lose their job.  It isn’t just manufacturing jobs that are lost as well.  Police officers and teachers are being laid off in a domino effect from the current unemployment situation.  In addition we all know that as less money is circulated in the environment other jobs and businesses will be affected as well.  Times are tough and many people have never seen it so bad.  In Michigan many of our youth that graduate from college are moving out of state.  In some of the jobs they are getting, they are truly under employed as their skill sets are much greater than the jobs they are doing.  Many have to pay for astronomical college education loans with fairly high interest so they settle for any job to pay that bill.  Meanwhile the politicians have put on blinders to all of this.  They may pay some lip service to some of the problems of unemployment and the homeless.  However, many of them are truly clueless and fairly uncaring in their approach to dealing with the problems that face our country.  Interestingly enough the unemployed have the potential to have a major impact through political action.

The statistics on all of this is just staggering.  In my research I discovered this bit about the growing need for food stamps on Wikipedia.

The number of Americans receiving food stamps reached 39.68 million in February 2010, the highest number since the program began in 1962.[4] As of June 2009, the average monthly benefit was $133.12 per person.[5] As of late November 2009, one in eight Americans and one in four children are using food stamps and the program rate is growing at 20,000 people a day.[6] Recipients must have at least near-poverty incomes to qualify for benefits.[7]

These are troubling statistics when you think about it and realize that we have around 307 million people in our country.  Meanwhile, you or someone you know is worrying about paying bills or saving your/their job.  Wealthy people continue to plan their weddings, take their trips and live in a manner that is basically unchanged for them.  The politicians continue to travel at tax payer expense on their “fact finding” missions.  Some of you might not realize that these trips are not always what they appear.  Joe Biden took his honeymoon with Jill on the tax payer dime.  I only know this because he talked about the trip on CSpan during an interview back during the last election cycle.  Sure he was with other senators on the trip but he took his new wife and they made a honeymoon of it.  These politicians love their jobs.  They love the power, the travel and the prestige.  With this in mind unemployed people it turns out have an opportunity to impact the mid-term election if they can organize.

If you read the whole article by Annie Lowery, you realize that the numbers are so large for the unemployed that they could very well have an impact.  If their friends and families join them, they have real power.  The Tea Party has had an impact so why couldn’t the unemployed have an impact?  If you or someone you know is unemployed I encourage you to read the article and join the netroots campaign to have an impact in the election.  Legislation can be pushed right now to help the unemployed.  The extension was passed but it did not include the “99ers”.

However, if you are unemployed and having trouble keeping your home, you may want to look into this program.

The deadline for getting this help is June 10th, 2011.

I, like many Americans, wish our country would devote more energy to the problems at home with our economy.  I am troubled when we give a lot of money to Pakistan and then find out that some of that money might be used against our troops.  I remember James Carville talking when Bill Clinton was running for president.  He said, “It’s the economy stupid.”  Most of you will probably remember this.  It’s 2010 and as much as we think things have changed they have stayed much the same.  It is the economy stupid!  That should be the battle cry of the unemployed.  You can yell it from every window like in the movie “Network” where they yelled, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it any more. “  Just be sure to add, “It’s the economy stupid.”  This election is a no brainer, if politicians want your vote they better bring out the big guns on the economy.  Stand up and be heard and let these career politicians know that you are more than willing to put them on the unemployment line if they can’t figure out a way to help the unemployed and jump start job creation!

Women, Power and True Liberation

  • Posted on July 28, 2010 at 4:03 pm

Woman of Liberty

It can be a great time to be a woman but all that has happened in both politics with Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin, in the media with Mel Gibson and his wife, and in the entertainment business with the antics of women like Lady Gaga I have been questioning the direction and movement of women’s liberation.  I have concluded that while it may appear that women have come a long way, there is much more to do to secure true liberation.

When I was a young woman in the seventies I remember this “bacon” commercial for Enjoli.

It actually is pretty silly.  Women were supposed to have it all and be it all.  Women and men expected a lot from women.  This commercial says we can have it all and our man too, as long as we can still cook, clean, take care of him and still look and smell wonderful!  Women’s liberation was all the talk.  We knew we were going to pass the equal rights amendment.  It was our time, or was it?  Civil rights legislation had passed so it was our turn, right?  Between Roe vs. Wade and the sexual revolution the times had to be changing.  During the seventies Title IX was passed.

No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance…

—United States Code Section 20

So of course the equal rights amendment would pass too.  To my surprise the equal rights amendment was never passed.  It needed 38 states to ratify it.  It fell short by three states. Many are still hopeful that it can be passed!

In my opinion the seventies were a time of real growth for women through education and their own spiritual awakening.  I grew up in a large family of 14 children.  I had much more opportunity in the seventies than my two sisters that were ten and twelve years older than me had in the sixties.  I knew I was going to college.  That thought wasn’t as clear for my sisters.  Part of it was probably because I was the youngest of those 14 children.  My parents were teachers through much of my real formative years and part of it was that my parents were financially better off in the seventies as opposed to the sixties.  However, a big part of it was because of the expectations of young women in the early sixties were different than in the early seventies.  The seventies also was a time of absolute turmoil with the Watergate scandal and the oil embargo.  However, it was a time when I was able to discover art and who I am as a person.

I went to Michigan State University and I had more freedom than I had ever known as a small town girl growing up in Kingston, Cass City and Maple City.  I met many different people from very different cultures than my own and I learned about tolerance, acceptance and understanding.  These really are the backbone of what I believe as a person today.  We are not all the same and that is the beauty of the human race.  I learned to embrace other people and to try and keep my mind open to the possibility that I wasn’t always “right” about everything.  MSU was a Utopian society for me.  Even though it was actually going through a crime spree of rapes during some of the time I was there, I was kept blissfully dumb about most of what was going on with that type of stuff.  I was ever the optimist and thought this was what the real world is all about.  The Utopian society of college where everyone wants to learn and the mind is like a sponge was where I was at.  I felt like I was doing something big, something real.

The real world is not the utopian college world of the seventies.  In the real world women were still subjected to the same degradation with commercials and advertising and general life that has always been present.  Today it seems like a lot of women are working but not because they are seeking their life dream but out of necessity for the family good.  Unfortunately, women are still getting paid less than their male counterparts.

For men this is also a problem because with the current economy it is cheaper to hire women than men!

I’m also perplexed by the modern woman image that is often portrayed in advertising, movies, etc.  The modern woman of today is still very much dependent on her visual appeal to a man.  The modern woman is beautiful, fit and oh so sculpted by surgery and botox treatments.

The modern woman is a poor sister to the seventies woman as the modern woman has grown up thinking that she is absolutely equal in the eyes of the law and everyone else when the truth has so many more deceptive layers.  The modern woman is still subject to the same forms of degradation that her ancestors faced.

Women may think they have come a long way and perhaps in some ways they have but in the area of abuse, power and control I think “We have miles to go before we sleep.”  Women are still subject to the laws made by men.  In our country where women make up 50.7% of the population we are still far behind in our political representation.

Some may think I am being picky here but it is time for women to be given the same rights as men.  The only way this can really be accomplished is through political representation.  As long as men are writing the laws from a man’s perspective, some areas that pertain to women will always be overlooked.  Politics is powerful.  There has to be a reason that politicians will raise millions of dollars for a seat that pays much less than the cost of running for it.  As much as we hear about all of the altruistic reasons these politicians run for office, the truth is politics is powerful and it is a magnet for money and more power.  Men have known this for years.  Women haven’t given enough thought about running for office for a variety of reasons.  Maybe they’re too busy raising their children or maybe they don’t have the confidence to run for office but it is time for women to stand up and be counted in the political arena.

If we are ever going to have the first woman president, we must engage more women in the political process.  Otherwise, that glass ceiling will never truly be broken.  I learned a lot during the 2008 election.  Both Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin were subjected to systematic abuse by the media and even other politicians.  I don’t know why men are afraid of these women but it was pretty evident throughout the election cycle.  Both Chris Matthews and Tucker Carlson were afraid of a Hillary Clinton presidency.  I remember Tucker talking about crossing his legs in reference to Hillary.  I guess he thought she was one “castrating bitch”.  Chris wasn’t any better and of course he had such a fondness for Barack that he had a special “tingle” up his leg.  He also said on many occasions that Hillary wouldn’t be where she is today if it wasn’t for her husband.  He never once thought about the fact that Bill might not have been president if it wasn’t for Hillary.   Hillary was referred to being a “bitch” so many times that I have lost count and we all heard so much about her “cankles”.  Where Palin was concerned there was much emphasis on her looks and many sexual innuendos were made in regards to that.  She had her legs photographed sans her body.  I cannot imagine a man being photographed that way.  Men on the other hand can be bald, fat and ugly and still run for office and make it.

This is such a double standard that it is not hard to understand why many women may fear running for office.  However, I believe until we get that proper representation we will always still be second class citizens in many ways.  I hope there are women out there that are brave and willing to step up and run for office.  We must support these women as they run for office.  We must have true representation in our political system.  It cannot be a “good old boys” club that is unattainable by women.  In order for true equality we must win in politics as well as our own personal lives.  I encourage everyone to support women in politics.  They are your mothers, wives, sisters, friends but most of all they are your equal even if the law doesn’t fully recognize this.

My Nightmare

  • Posted on July 27, 2010 at 10:05 am

I keep having a reoccurring thought about the up and coming governor’s election.  It truly is my nightmare scenario.  I’ll get to that in a minute.  First of all, you must know that I think Speaker Andy Dillon and Attorney General Mike Cox were separated at birth.  I think they look alike, talk alike, and even though one is supposed to be a Democrat, they both are essentially Republicans.  So, in my mind, someone must have been adopted out or something as there is no way they can be so much alike and not be related.  My mind knows they aren’t each other’s doppelganger but my heart tells me they could be.  So my nightmare scenario is that both of them will win their respective primaries and the state of Michigan will end up with no real choice for a governor!  Egad, can’t people see what I see?

If these are my choices in the November election, I don’t know what I will do!  I have always voted.  Do I leave the top of the ticket blank?  Are there any third candidates I can vote for?  I can’t possibly vote for Andy Dillon.  He’s costing me a special “tax” of 3% more money that I must pay into my retirement.  I’d like to smack him every time I get an email from him telling how he stuck it to me.  Okay, he doesn’t put it quite that way but he wants everyone else to know how he’s going to get every piece of meat off me he can because I’m a public school TEACHER!  Oops, I said a dirty word!  I don’t know when the legislative body decided to set teachers in their gun sites but I know I’m a prime target.  When I was a kid, everyone loved teachers. Today I feel like there’s a target on my back, so I’m getting worried about the primary that’s coming up.  I’ve decided that I will beg every person I know to vote for Virg Bernero.  So, here I am asking for your vote for Virg.  No, really begging for your vote for Virg!

Virg Bernero is married to a teacher so he has to at least “get” teachers and understand how important education is.  I saw him at the MEA rally in June and I like the fact that he’s out there trying to “fight” for change.  Andy Dillon tries to paint Virg Bernero as an “angry” man.  I say, “Who isn’t angry in Michigan and if you aren’t angry, why aren’t you?”  I want someone willing to fight for our state and try to get it back on track.  I don’t want someone I can’t trust to do the right thing and.  Andy lost my trust when he picked my pocket and asked me how I liked it.  He scares me with his forced smile and smarmy hair and I really find it hard to understand why he thinks it’s productive to shut down government instead of working to fix the budget!  I also can’t get beyond the fact that he wants to tinker with my health care and isn’t really focusing on the real issues.

The issues of course are JOBS!  If we can get jobs back in Michigan, it will solve many of our problems.  I would like you to check out Virg at his website.

If you aren’t sure who you want to vote for, please humor me and choose Virg.  If you are voting in the Democratic primary he really is the only Democrat running.  It will make me happy and isn’t that just what you would like to do…make me happy?  Just think about it.  I wouldn’t have to live my nightmare scenario.  I would be hopeful for Michigan’s future.  It would keep hope alive and I wouldn’t have to spend the next two months in turmoil over the November election.  My primary vote was stolen once in the 2008 primary.  I think I at least deserve to have this vote counted for the person I choose and maybe some of your votes as well!  Come on make my day and vote for Virg Bernero!

The Boogeyman Politics

  • Posted on July 23, 2010 at 2:47 pm

In our country we cling to the idea that one day we might be rich.  We should all just stop dreaming that fantasy and realize that very few will actually become “rich”.  You can buy all the lottery tickets you can stuff in your pants and you will still lose.  One ticket will take it all.  Are you really feeling that lucky today?  It’s time to let those that have unspeakable wealth step up and save this country.  I, for one, have no trouble taxing the wealthy.  It’s time we got the rest of the country to realize that there is no shame in a truly graduated income tax.  It’s also time to take care of those people that are struggling to make ends meet.  This can be accomplished if we set our priorities straight as a nation.

I am tired of the boogey men that we continually chase as a nation.  For years we were afraid of the “communists”.  They were the boogeyman and we had to hide under our desks at school because they were coming to get us.  Since the world trade towers were destroyed and a couple thousand people were murdered on September 11th, 2001 we have feared the terrorists.  They have been, for the last nine years, the new boogeyman.  As President Bush said many times, “We are fighting them over there so we don’t have to fight them here.”  Franklin Delano Roosevelt famously said, “The only thing to fear is fear itself.”  However, politicians have kept us in a constant state of fear for most of my life.  This fear is used to control how we think and essentially how we vote.  It determines how we view the world and whether we trust our neighbor, both those next door or those who border our countries.  In the past couple of years we have been led to believe that we are all closeted “racists”.  This, I believe, is another form of control over our thoughts and especially our actions.  The boogeyman is the fear of racism.  Since President Obama began his run for the Whitehouse, it has been difficult to separate the fact from the fiction in terms of the racial divide in this country.  While I know there are racists that think they are better than another race, I believe there are far more people that don’t really care about the issue of race.  I have said a thousand times, “Poor is poor. It has no color.”  It is time we bonded together as a nation and realized that much of our fear is man made, created by an establishment of politicians that must find a way to control its masses.  Racism is the new boogeyman.  If we don’t think exactly as predetermined, as we are told we should, we will be labeled a racist.  I really think this is all to control us.

This week we heard the ridiculous saga of Shirley Sherrod.  This woman was taken out of context and we spent the week once again defined by racism.  During this time much else was happening.  Congress finally passed the unemployment extension.  However, they did not include the tier 5 people in this extension.  These are people that have been unemployed for more than 99 weeks.

There is no real sympathy for these people other than platitudes of praise for their on going strength in adversity.  We also didn’t hear much about this sad statistic.

The suicide rates in the military are on the rise.  How can our country be at war continuously for the past nine years and not expect this breakdown in morale?  While we are busy contemplating the ridiculous story about Shirley being a racist this is going on.

It seems that we must cut funds for education and every other thing in this country so we can continue to spend money on these two wars.  The troop surge in Afghanistan is costing our nation and our children.  Just today I saw the news that Western Michigan University is upping their tuition by 7%.  While this is all happening did you notice this week when Hillary Clinton went to give aid to Pakistan?

The point of all of this is if we are kept busy with the current boogeyman, we will be kept out of the loop of what is really happening in our country.  We must stop fearing the boogeyman and force our country to step up and do the right thing by its citizens.  So, yes, if this means more taxes for the rich and wealthy to help pay for these things that must be done, then I am all for it.  If politicians truly can’t find a way to extract our soldiers from these two wars, then let the rich pay for it.  If politicians can’t find a way to fund health care, then let the rich pay for it.  If politicians can’t find ways to fund our schools, then let the rich pay for it.  If the rich pay enough, maybe we will get out of the wars.  If the rich pay enough, maybe they will work harder to open some factories here so they can benefit from some special tax break and hire more workers.  I’m all for taxing the rich because the rich will make sure some things get done when they feel the pinch that the rest of us feel on a daily basis.  I’m tired of hearing about yet another rich person’s wedding before I hear about real news.  Aren’t you? Today we are bombarded with the Clinton wedding garbage.  Who really cares?  Not me.  I want real news and I want the wealthy to step up and save our country.  I think if you start to have some sympathy for the wealthy, just check out what these athletes get paid and think about your own hard earned paycheck.

Do we really need to see the wealthy and yet another of their many weddings?

This comes from the “Who Rules America” website.

In terms of types of financial wealth, the top one percent of households have 38.3% of all privately held stock, 60.6% of financial securities, and 62.4% of business equity. The top 10% have 80% to 90% of stocks, bonds, trust funds, and business equity, and over 75% of non-home real estate. Since financial wealth is what counts as far as the control of income-producing assets, we can say that just 10% of the people own the United States of America.

If you still have sympathy and feel that you can trust the political system check out this article and think about how these people vote for their own best interests.

It is time for the wealthy to step up and help our country climb out of this recession, get out of these wars, fix our infrastructure and take care of our economic problems.  Let’s stop fearing the political created boogeyman and start working together for logical solutions to our many problems.  Let’s stop putting the rich on a pedestal by watching their weddings, lifestyle, games, movies and start living our life elevated by being educated to what is really going on in this country and what we might be able to do to set things right.  FDR said, “The only thing to fear is fear itself.”  The truth is the only thing to fear is an inactive electorate that is uneducated and over stimulated with the lust for wealth and afraid of the current boogeyman.

I just had to add this list of the richest members of Congress….both Dems and Repubs:


  • Posted on July 22, 2010 at 3:52 pm

This July 11th on a beautiful Sunday my friend, Ellen, and I went to the St. Joseph Art Fair.  I know it’s a tough show to get into, so I wanted to see what it was like since I had never attended this show as an exhibitor.  I drove about an hour and a half to see what it is all about.  I wasn’t disappointed.  Every artist brought something different to the show with their unique selection of art.

When we first got there it was a bit difficult to find parking as parking was limited and it was compounded by the many exhibitors’ vehicles.  We paid ten dollars to park in a commercial lot.  As we walked down to the art show we were greeted by many cheerfully painted dogs!

Moving on to the show we came upon a wide selection of two and three dimensional artwork.  Ellen and I both made several purchases through out the day and had many interesting conversations with artists that came from all over the United States.  I want to showcase a few of the artists here today.

One of the first artists’ artwork we came across was Michelle Mardis.  Her artwork is reminiscent of Andy Warhol with its pop art colors of large portraits of animals. I really enjoyed her large piece titled “Fetch”.

She wasn’t at the show at the time we went through as she wasn’t feeling well.  It is interesting to note that these art shows go on through all kinds of weather and even if the artist isn’t feeling well.  Just like in “show biz”, the show must go on!  There is quite an investment involved with doing an art show.  There is the entry fee, travel, the cost to produce and even display the art at the show.  This is why every artist designs their own booth to best showcase their style of artwork.  Some people attend art shows for something to do as entertainment.  I advise people to attend art shows and purchase from these artists as this, for many of them, is their sole source of employment.  Their art is not only their life but their livelihood.  You wouldn’t go to a movie without expecting to spend some money for your entertainment so it should also be with these art shows.  Many people spend the day perusing the exhibits and eating the food but may not ever think to buy from these fine artists.  However, if people don’t buy many of those traveling the longer distances will not be inclined to return to the show another year.

Many of the artists at the show were obviously influenced by the art of famous artists.  While Mardi must have been drawn to the art of Andy Warhol, Penny French-Deal was obviously influenced by the art of the Impressionists and especially “Monet”. Ellen and I had stopped to have a quick lunch and upon walking back to the exhibits we were drawn in by a picture of two cows.  They were meticulously painted but when we got up close to them, the brushstrokes were really loose and large.  Her art was some what blurry upon close inspection.  There was a softness to it that revealed some inner feelings from the artist.

Another artist, Larry Smith, obviously favored the art of Vincent Van Gogh. I bought a print from him and he told me much information about Van Gogh and the artwork that I purchased.  He obviously knew a lot about Vincent’s art and greatly admired it.  In his own artwork he used complementary colors such as red and green next to each other to create the vibrant effect of movement.  I genuinely enjoyed Larry’s personality and the obvious joy instilled in his art.

I ran across a potter that really impressed me with his cut out piercing work.  While it may seem very simple to most people as it is simple in color with its white, pearly surface, it is masterfully carved and pierced.  The work is porcelain fired at cone 10 which is around 2300 degrees Fahrenheit.  Artwork fired to this level has to be flawless.  In order to create a porcelain bowl pierced on the edge such as this is truly a masterful skill.  I’ve worked with porcelain for years.  If a large bowl has so much as a small hairline crack, its flaw will be huge after a cone 10 firing.  This bowl was priced at $1200.  I didn’t find that shocking because I figured he lost many bowls to create this one unique piece of art. Unfortunately, I can’t seem to find a card from this artist, so I don’t know his name.

Another clay artist, Scott Causey, has very unique sculptural artwork.  He won the non-functional clay award at this show.  He makes these large pieces out of very colorful glazes.  They can be frogs, salamanders and even monkeys.  He makes them and then bisque fires them and then breaks them apart.  He does this so he can glaze the different parts at different temperatures to get the special effects.  Some of his glazes are luster glazes that give off a pearly, iridescent quality.

When I went to his website he is very proud of the fact that Al Gore has a piece of his artwork.  The story about how Al got the frog is here.

I bought a mug from two potters because they are working with cone 6 glazes and their work was well made and conceived.  I am interested in maybe lowering my reduction gas firing temperature to save the time and cost of firing to cone 10.  These guys called themselves the “Pottery Boys” and they live in Illinois.

Some of the artwork was silly and whimsical and just plain fun.  This art was artwork created to just inspire people with fun sayings and happy colors.  Some of the artists that fall under this category are Susan Kline, Anne Leuck Feldhaus, Holly Sue Foss, and Patricia Statzer.  I had so much fun reading the sayings and looking at the colors in these booths.

Another inspirational artist I met was Tres Taylor from Alabama.  He paints on tar paper.  Ellen recognized the material as it is common roofing material.  She said they used to put it on the windows when she was a kid to keep out the cold.  Tres is a man that embraced his artistic side later in life and rejected his previous occupation as a biochemist.  His story is so interesting.  His artwork reminded me of Modigliani with its elongated features for the people.  There are also hints of Paul Klee and even Picasso in his shapes and faces.  His work is probably considered a sophisticated form of primitive art.  You can check out more of his artwork at his website. I highly suggest reading this article and viewing his installation artwork.

It is just amazing in its concept and story as well as the many children that he has obviously touched through this installation process through art.

It was fun talking to Tres.  I would be thrilled if my students could have the opportunity to work with him and see his installation artwork.

Another artist that I really enjoyed is Pat Custer Denison. Her artwork is created with ceramic tile and wood.  She is a painter and printmaker that studied at the University of Michigan.  She lives in Honor, Michigan so I’m hoping to stop by her studio when I visit the Traverse City, Maple City area.  Many artists live, as I used to, up in the Grand Traverse area.  It’s a great place to produce art as you are surrounded by all the beauty Michigan has to offer.  Her artwork is very fun and whimsical.  Some of the pieces are quite large.  She inserts commercial clay tiles into large cut out wood shapes.  Her artwork tends to have many colorful characters that seem to tell a story upon close inspection.  She screen prints some of the design on the clay tiles to reproduce the image more than once.  I found this process interesting as I have never silk screened on any of my artwork.  I have seen this done in books but have never actually met an artist using this method.

Two of the artists work in very traditional materials that I feel are almost like a lost art.  The first is Jane Bowers who creates “Pysanky” eggs.  These are the very colorful and skillfully designed eggs that are reminiscent of Easter but are so much more involved than a typical Easter egg.  Making pysanky has always been a part of her life as this tradition was passed down through her Ukrainian family for many generations.  On a trip to the Ukraine she had the honor of presenting one of her eggs to President Leonid Kuchma.  Jane was so open with me about how to create these eggs.  She wanted to help me as a teacher to pass on the beauty of this tradition.  I loved talking with Jane and many of the artists as they were all so open to me when they found out that I am a middle school art teacher.  Artists are great teachers and generally want to share their knowledge as long as you aren’t some “copy cat artist” just trying to steal their designs.

The other artist working in a highly traditional almost “lost” type art is Brian T. Keller.  Brian works with traditional egg tempera.  He mixes his own paints much like Van Dyke or other great artists of the past did.  This involves getting commercial pigments and using egg yokes.  Of course he doesn’t have to grind the pigments like the artists of the past might have done but this was still amazing to me as there are so many different types of art materials and paints that could be used today.  He works in a very highly detailed fashion.  Just looking at the detail in his wood grain floors is truly amazing.  Brian is highly skilled.  I just loved his artwork.  He told me that the he works in layers and that the egg tempera dries quickly.

As you can see by all that I’ve shared with you today I truly enjoyed this art exhibit not just for the art but for the many intriguing conversations I had with the artists.  It was fun going to an art show as a viewer and not a participant.  I loved hearing about the different stories each of these artists had in the story of their own art.  Only two artists didn’t want to be photographed.  The rest were happy to indulge me with the many pictures I took.  I ended the day being inspired by these wonderful people.  They are all gifted with amazing talents and they were more than willing to share their time and knowledge with me.  I ended up buying small pieces from several of the artists I spoke with as did Ellen.  We had a great day and we lucked out with beautiful weather.  I would definitely love to go back to St. Joseph again for this art show and to see the wonderful city nestled on the shores of Lake Michigan.  I will end by sharing some additional pictures from many other fine artists.  If you haven’t been to an art show lately get out there and meet some artists.  The Ann Arbor Art Street Fair is going on right now.  It’s a four day event so you still have plenty of time to visit through Saturday.

Wealthy Americans: Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country!

  • Posted on July 21, 2010 at 5:43 pm

What are you willing to do for your country?  We have been asked repeatedly to step up for our country.  During WWII people had to step up by going to war in a foreign land, women had to take on more manual labor, people were encouraged to buy bonds and restrictions were made on the consumption of goods.  My parents had many children.  To get shoes for their children, they would trade gas rationings with my aunt so they could buy shoes.  Today with so many people living as “expatriates”, I wonder what people are willing to do for their country.  The poor always give.  Often times they give because they see no other alternative.  This is why many join the military.  The economy is poor and they are struggling to find work.  However, we have a war economy, so they join some branch of the military.  It might not be their first choice but they may see it as their only alternative when the economy is poor and they are not wealthy.  As you read my take on things, please think about what you are willing to do for your country.

I have two political groups that are nipping at my heels trying to get me to contact my senators for their causes.  Both of these causes are worthy:  One is to save education jobs and Pell grants and the other is for the passage of a clean energy bill.  Both of these causes and their supporters are feeling the crunch because Congress will go into recess in August.  Now as a teacher I have the summer off but I always find it interesting that although Congress just had a big July 4th break they are now going to take all of August off.  For the pay they receive, I find this amazing.  I don’t think the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan have that option.  Nor do most of the other government employees that work for all of our states.  If every government worker took August off, a lot wouldn’t get done.  However, senators and congress people are a completely different breed.  While they expect everyone and his brother to change with the times, they remain stuck in some centuries old concept that was based on “beating the heat”.  Is there any wonder that not much really gets done for the people in modern congressional sessions?

So it looks like Harry Reid is waiting until the last possible minute to bring up the climate bill. I don’t presume to understand the politics behind this but it seems to me that it will be brought up and voted down as there won’t be enough time to discuss it before the August recess.  On the other hand, if they get it done just before the recess they can talk about it in their campaign speeches.  It’s just so sad that these votes are so political and not handled in the best interest of our nation.  Whether it is voted up or down after the November election who knows who will control congress and what excuses they will give then for being a “do nothing” congress.  Thomas Friedman has an interesting take on the energy bill and it’s worth a read.

The American Federation of Teachers is contacting the public to try in get some assistance on saving teachers jobs and Pell grant money.  I received this link.

Unfortunately, I don’t know what the bill is.  I know that Senator Harkin had this bill in April and it seems to have gone no where.

Teachers are being cut all over the country.  I think these types of bills are temporary fixes to the problem.  Both of these issues, energy and teacher jobs,  would have better chances of passing  or in the case of the teacher problem being corrected, if three distinct things happened in my opinion.  If we withdrew our troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, I think that would free up a considerable amount of money that has been pouring out of our country.  We should also let the Bush tax cuts for those making $250,000 or more run out.  I’m tired of the politicians that claim these wealthy people will hire less people if this happens.  It’s quite apparent that since these tax cuts were voted in there has been a constant bleeding of American jobs.  The truth is any politician that tries to convince anyone with a brain that those tax cuts some how “trickle down” to the American people should be voted out of office.  Finally, the social security cap should be lifted on people making over $250,000.

I am a pragmatist but I have always felt that we have to do everything that we can for the best interest of our country.  The poor have always given to their country with the sweat of their brow in labor and even their lives in war.  It is only patriotic to ask those that have so much to give a little more to help our country when times are tough.  The toil of the poor and their labor built this country.  The poor have always been asked to step up during challenging times.  We now need to ask the wealthy to do their part.  We know they are unlikely to give their children for war or even labor for that matter.  They can give their money to help fuel our economy so that all can prosper in this great country.  I challenge the people making over $250,000 to ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country.

Interrupting Martha

  • Posted on July 13, 2010 at 12:14 pm

So with the summer off I have watched some television that I wouldn’t normally get to see.  Today I was watching “Martha Stewart”.  I’ve watched it a few times this summer and I have come to one conclusion about Martha that may surprise some people.  I think Martha is an extremely rude person.  I can’t figure out why anyone would watch her on a consistent basis.  She is constantly interrupting her guests.  They may be in the middle of a sentence or train of thought but to Martha it is so much more important for her voice to be heard.  I know our society has become extremely rude over the years but I can’t understand why people like to watch this type of behavior.

Today she had a man on that has a “farm”, if you call 9300 acres a farm, in Tennessee.  He raises lamb, grows a variety of different vegetables and fruits, and makes cheese and jams and so on.  He was making some kind of lamb dish with the neck of a lamb that takes ten hours to braise in an oven.  When Martha asked him about the products that he brought to the show she just wouldn’t let him finish his sentences.  I felt sorry for the poor guy except I know he was glad to be on television “hawking” his goods.  This must be why these people put up with her.  I’ve watched her with some young “stars” make something in the kitchen that the star doesn’t really know how to do and she is overwhelmingly condescending.  Some may view it as the “teacher” in her but I know you don’t have to be condescending to teach well.  In fact, many students would be put off by that kind of teacher.

When she tried that show that was her version of Donald Trump’s “Apprentice” it didn’t go over so well and her contract wasn’t renewed.  At that time I was a fan of Martha Stewart until she took the fledgling“apprentices” up to her farm.  That was so over the top “overbearing” that I started to look at Martha in a different way.  In my memory of what I didn’t like it felt like she was the queen and the apprentices were her underlings, “little bees” that would never attain the level of the queen bee.  A true teacher would love their students to be so inspired that they attain a new level of expertise that shines beyond anything that the teacher would have dreamed for them.

Martha is not alone in her bad behavior.  Donald Trump is just as obnoxious.  Simon Cowell couldn’t be meaner when he stomps on the dreams of some young would be singer.  There are many others that we seem to watch and love that exhibit this same obnoxious, rude behavior.  I just don’t understand why the public loves these people.  What are we, as a society, getting out of this rudeness that we see exhibited on a daily basis on our television sets?  I find myself disappointed with this woman.  I think it’s time for her to retire and yet as I watch her I can see that her audience loves her.  I also see many new products continually being showcased on her show or out in the stores so people must be “buying” what she is selling.  Over the years I have purchased many Martha Stewart items including my patio set.  She has a brand that is huge.  You can’t miss it.  Even though she was tarnished a few years ago with her prison stint, she has bounced back.  She is resilient.  I just don’t like how absolutely rude she is to her guests.  I think she is used to being the center of attention and it is difficult for her to allow anyone else to shine.  She probably sucks out the air of any room she enters.  She is like an amoeba engulfing every new apprentice, designer, etc. and taking what she needs and wants from them.  For her it is probably just business but for me it is personal when I watch her being rude and obnoxious.  I cannot help but wonder what our world is coming to when we can love these mean, rude and obnoxious people that we see on television.

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