Fight Like a Girl!

“My Sister’s Tat”
One of my younger sisters, a four-time breast cancer survivor, had this tattoo done after her first round.

In case you haven’t heard, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM).  “Someman” posted on Facebook that he’s “offering”  free “exams” to women during BCAM.  I found it insulting, creepy and a bit disturbing that he would trivialize such an important matter to get laughs. Breast Cancer–cancer period–is no laughing matter and we must do everything we can to raise awareness and encourage women to examine themselves monthly and have mammograms done annually.   We must also do what we can to help those who are suffering and continue rallying around survivors and co-survivors.  Those are goals of one of the swaps I participated in and of some of the mail I received this month.

The card below completes the “Think Pink” swap I participated in earlier this month (You can see the first card I received in the “Good Mail In…” post).  TeePeeMaiden made this and sent it all the way from Canada.  I love all the layers!  I am honored that she shared this with me since she also made the card for one of her friends who is a breast cancer survivor.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Handmade card and envelope art by TeePeeMaiden/Donna B.

The next piece is an Artist Trading Card (ATC).  ATCs are miniature pieces of art (2.5 x 3.5 inches in size) that are usually shared among artists, crafters and collectors.  Even for the “craft-challenged” like me, ATCs can be addictive.  This one, made with paint, a sharpie, ribbon and a little bling, features the theme “Fight Like a Girl.”

“Fight Like a Girl” made by MLRobinson/Journal Junkie

If anyone thinks “fight like a girl’ is an insult or an attack on masculinity, he or she needs to meet my younger sister.  She is now battling cancer for the fifth time in seven years.  She’s dealt with chemotherapy, radiation, a double mastectomy and other radical treatments.  She’s more than a survivor.  She’s a fighter who didn’t run and hide from “the enemy” that assailed her body relentlessly.  She’s a fighter who stared death in the face many times and, by the grace of God, is still here.  She’s an inspiration to anyone who hears her story.  Her very presence motivates me to stand up to my literal and figurative bullies and “fight like a girl”–fearless, relentless, strong and hopeful.

Teddy Bear Tea Party!

Teddy bears are among my favorite things–they certainly bring a smile to my face. This week tried my patience (and stamina) as I struggled to catch up and make up for the time I lost last week. Thankfully, this was a GREAT mail week and I found treats in my mailbox daily.

One of my swap-bot buddies, susieq11, organized a Teddy Bear Postcard swap because I missed the first one while I was in transition. Wasn’t that sweet of her? Here’s the beautiful postcard I received. It traveled from England to my mailbox (as you can see from the stamps). It is absolutely adorable and made me smile from ear to ear all morning.

“Panda Came to Tea”
Photograph by Irena Thompson, Bears and Toys from Irena’s Collection

And if the postcard isn’t cute enough, look at the AWESOME classic Winnie-the-Pooh stamp my partner, denimblu14, affixed to the postcard:

Winnie-the-Pooh and Rabbit

And now, here are the postcards I sent to my partner:

Family of Bears at the Beach

This postcard represents my farewell to the far too hot, far too short summer! My swap partner loves summer, so hopefully, this postcard will be a cheerful reminder of the heat when she’s had too much of the Ohio winter.

I found the the beautiful white bear that follows among items I packed between 8 and 16 years ago. (We found them in the attic of our “old” house which we moved into in 2004. I just can’t remember if they were packed for that move or for the move before that–in 1996–from Florida to New Orleans). This bear postcard comes from a collection of Hallmark postcards published by Warner Press. Each postcard features a Bible verse on the back.

“Seek peace and pursue it.” Psalm 34:14

While we’re on the subject of teddy bear postcards, you might as well relax and enjoy some of the others in my collection!

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These bears have traveled from various places in the U.S., from Russia, Belarus, the Netherlands and other places around the world. They’re not all so “teddy,” but they’re all cute!

Children’s Art

Street Car/Best Gumbo

Street Car/Best Gumbo

I’ve been at home sick most of this week.  I’m bored with staring at walls and ceilings.  I’m annoyed that nothing on my “I’m already behind” to-do list is getting done.  (As I usually do when I’m bored–and can’t read) I was flipping through photos on my computer when I ran across a set of photos of children’s art that the world should see.  Not the photos, the art.  Simmone Tassin, a young woman whom I am proud to say was once my student, organized “The Art of a Child: Inspired by the Works of Clementine Hunter” exhibition in response to the dearth of art programs in public schools.  Noting that art programs are often cut or severely diminished, Tassin’s goal was to allow children an opportunity to express their appreciation for art and demonstrate how it influences their lives.

Art is important to children.  You’d think those who make decisions about K-12 curriculum would realize how art in its various forms (music, dance, visual, theatre, poetry, prose, etc.)  balances out the curriculum, allows children to exercise other types of intelligence, raises self-esteem and provides a positive outlet for them.  I am grateful that my child’s teacher, Adrienne Saulsbury, is an artist.  She realizes the importance of  the “Three Rs,” but she also knows that children need creative expression, some time during the day when they can be FREE to express themselves without worrying about being judged or assessed.

Tassin’s children produced work that was inspired by their lives in New Orleans.  Take a look at the photos, and if you know anything about New Orleans, you’ll see that the children know their city well.  Unfortunately, I no longer have the names of the individual artists (and I took these photos with my iPhone, so they’re not exactly the best photos).

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Also, just a note: Clementine Hunter (1887-1988) was a self-taught folk artist.  Take a look at her work and you will find that the children really captured the spirit (and style) of her work.

Embrace art!

Swapping Faith and Books

I participated in a few postcard swaps last week.   Interestingly, each of the postcard swaps I joined asked that I share a verse, a quote or something about the book I’m reading “now.”  I searched through my stash to find postcards that either complemented the swap theme or coincided with my partners’ interests and favorites.  Here’s what I came up with:

This one was for the “Christian Quote” (on a postcard) swap:

Legend of the Dogwood

The postcard is probably more appropriate for the Easter Season, but I think my swap partner will appreciate it.  I chose a quote by Ben Patterson from the Couples Devotional Bible:  “According to the Bible we have no rights!  Whatever we do we have because God in His grace and generosity has given it to us. When we realize this, there comes into our lives a joyful gratitude for what we have, and we are freed from resentment and anxiety over what we don’t have.”

I had two partners for a swap entitled “There’s a Time For…”  For this swap participants had to share a verse from Ecclesiastes and a prayer for their two partners.   Both of my partners like cats, and I was fortunate enough to find two more cat postcards in my stash.

The Tale of Tom Kitten by Beatrix Potter (1907)

Okay, so this next one is not exactly a “cat” postcard, but it has a cat in it…

“My Father,” 1914, by Marc Chagall (Russian, 1887-1985)

I chose Ecclesiastes 7:8-9 and contextualized and commented on the texts based on what I perceived about each partners’ needs:

The end of a matter is better than its beginning,
and patience is better than pride.
Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit,
for anger resides in the lap of fools.

Lastly, I sent out two postcards from the Quilts of Gee’s Bend collection for the “Bookworm Postcard Swap.”

Quilts of Gee’s Bend 

Quilts of Gee’s Bend

These brightly colored “textile masterpieces” were created by four generations of African American women in Gee’s Bend, described as a remote “backwater of Alabama.”  The women made the quilts from scraps and worn-out work clothes.  I first heard of the Quilts of Gee’s Bend when I participated in a seminar on the African American Imagination at NYU two summers ago.  The seminar was facilitated by renown art historian Leslie King-Hammond. You can find pics of the quilts here:  Gee’s Bend Catalog.

I was reading Homer’s The Odyssey when it was time to send this swap.  I have read it a zillion times, but I never get bored.  Now, my students might tell another story…

In Search of the Perfect Rose…Photo, That Is

I hosted and obviously participated in the “One Perfect Rose” photo swap on swap-bot–in honor of Dorothy Parker’s poem “One Perfect Rose.”  My swap partner was pleased with the three rose photos I sent her.  She liked the softness of the roses, but I’m not so convinced.  I have been trying to capture the perfect rose shot for years and I still haven’t “gotten it.”  What’s the secret to those perfect rose shots I see all over Flickr and Hallmark cards? Is it angle?  Lighting?  If you have any tips for me, please share!  Here are some of my rose shots.  I even shot some on my iPhone.

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The “Post-Katrina Rose” is really special to me.  It was the first sign of color I saw after Hurricane Katrina left New Orleans brown and gray (in 2005).  It served as a beautiful reminder that we can find something beautiful in even the most horrific circumstances.

Have you taken any great (or not so great) rose photos?

A Giant Potato, Roses and Pie

What do a giant potato, roses and pie have in common?  I found all three in my mailbox today–and today is my birthday.  What better way to celebrate a birthday than with a good ol’ Idaho potato, pie and beautiful roses?  All of these were sent to me for swap-bot swaps.  Take a look.

Can you imagine this potato landing on your doorstep? “We grow potatoes in Idaho,” this swapper humorously adds as she closes her postcard note.

Edgar Rice Burroughs Stamp with Salt Lake City Postal Mark

The Idaho Potato was sent for a “Book Worm” swap.  Swappers had to write a little something about a great read.  My partner recommends Tarzan, so it’s neat that she used the Burroughs stamp.  Literary stamps are among my favorites. She also recommends The Book of Mormon for its perspective on “Ancient American History.”  I might have to check it out!

Pie Rows, 1961 by Wayne Theibaud, American artist (b. 1920). This was sent for the “O Happy Day” Postcard Swap. For this swap we had to send a postcard that captured something that makes us happy. Pie makes the sender pretty happy! Check out her fantastic calligraphy below!

Here’s the back of the card with the “pie sender’s” beautiful calligraphy:


And lastly, beautiful roses from fellow swap-bot Sharp Shooter, Fundygirl.  You’ve seen her floral work before in “Good Mail In…”  These delightful roses were sent for a Dorothy Parker themed photo swap, “One Perfect Rose.”  Swappers had to send partners a photo of one object mentioned in the poem.  Fundygirl notes, there are three roses, but they’re all perfect! 🙂

“One Perfect Rose?” Photo by Deema (Fundygirl)

Happy Reading!

Katherine Larocca

My students are so thoughtful.  They know I love art and postcards (among other things), so they often bring gifts and information back from their many ventures.  Katherine Larocca has a solo exhibit at Lowe Mill Arts in Huntsville, Alabama, and one of my students picked up a postcard for me.  I’d never heard of Larocca, so I’m thrilled to learn about a “new” artist.  She is a “classically trained artist” and “fine arts printmaker.”  Here’s the awesome postcard my student shared with me:

“Scott” by Katherine Larocca

If you just happen to be in the Huntsville area, check out her show at Lowe Mill.  If not, and you want to know more about her work, visit her website–Larocca Graphics.  She also has a show with Green Pea Press group at the University of Alabama.