Sunday, December 28, 2014

Grandma's Pattern


For years this pattern has evoked childhood memories of visiting my Grandpa and Grandma Cook. It wasn't a pattern I would choose for my own everyday dishware, but Grandma loved it and Grandpa made sure she always had a full set.

When Grandma died just before Thanksgiving, I knew the only memento I would ever need was one piece of Franciscan Desert Rose. I learned about back-stamping and the history of the pattern before looking for a piece. Grandma started her collection in the 1950s, and probably hadn't gotten replacements since the 1990s, so I knew I wanted to find something within that time frame. It turns out the company started it in the 1940s in California, going through a couple of company changes before being sold to Wedgwood in the mid 1980s. Manufacturing moved to England until 2003, when Wedgwood sold and manufacturing relocated to China.

As with most vintage items, the older pieces are the most valuable. I was able to collect cups and saucers dating from the 1950s to 1980s. Each daughter received a cup and saucer. I kept eight so I could have a full set. I found serving bowls from the 1960s from my brother who had a special relationship with Grandma. I received the 1958-1965 range sugar bowl and creamer for Christmas. The teapot was a fabulous find. It is in great condition, but is obviously well-loved by a previous owner. It is dated March, 1947.

Now on my counter top, the tea set always reminds me of my Grandma whose love language was acts of service, whose refrigerator was always stocked with Pepsi, and whose pantry always had a few of my favorite cookies tucked away.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Christmas Cactus


My Christmas Cactus is glorious this year, but I wanted to get a shot that was a little different. I took this picture near the Christmas tree (okay, one of the 27 trees) and used a slow shutter speed with a wide open aperture to get the back-lit bokeh effect. I then used a Kim Klassen overlay to create texture and a vignette action from Greater than Gatsby.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Honored and Humbled

Tonight was truly inspirational. And humbling. I knew back in August that I had received a scholarship from the Leitalift Foundation, but I had no idea until tonight just how significant it was. I have joined the ranks of a very few educators in Georgia to be recognized for passion and determination in spite of obstacles. In my case, the obstacles came in the form of age and financial need. The passion, however, was what the scholarship committee saw. I had no way of knowing, but my desire to make education about the students again caught their attention.

But it's true. I am so fed up with a system that makes test scores the sole measure of a child's worth. We have ceased as a society to value creativity and independent thinking and problem solving in favor of some "objective" measure of knowledge. The problem is, teenagers are too smart for that measurement. They know how to game the system. They become expert test-takers, but retain little actual knowledge because it isn't relevant to their lives. Their learning happens outside the classroom where they are sometimes subject to ideas and processes they may not be cognitively ready for. But as a society, we have forced them there. School is boring. The tools of business are largely ignored in the public schools; worse yet, they are often blocked. We live in a digital world, but the education system is locked into a formula devised in the 1950s and last updated in the 1980s. We may have standardized tests, but we are not standardized individuals. To reduce anyone's value to a test score is wrong on every level. 

I was expected (unknowingly) to say a few words about my passion and inspiration. Because so much of my feelings on education were articulated by Madeleine L'Engle, I quickly pulled up a quote that became the centerpiece of my moment on stage:

"The creative impulse can be killed, but it cannot be taught...What a teacher can do...in working with children, is to give the flame enough oxygen so that it can burn. As far as I'm concerned, this providing of oxygen is one of the noblest of all vocations." (A Circle of Quiet, 1972)

My passion as an educator is to fan the flame of creative passion, of excellence, and of delight in learning. This passion is not at home in the current public school space. My goal, then, is to offer a point of view that is student centered, practical minded, and relevant in the long term. My hope is the my work going forward inspires those who follow to rebel against a culture of standardization in pursuit of something greater: beautiful individuality that leads to innovation, excellence, and independence.



Wow.
Me and Denise, 2014 recipients
Denise and I both received this scholarship. She is a single mom who already has an MBA but felt compelled to get her Master of Arts in Teaching with an ESOL (non-native English speaking students) specialty. We are both driven and determined women who are motivated even more now to give back by pursuing excellence.

I received a certificate saying, 
" The Directors of the Leitalift Foundation unanimously selected Stephanie Loomis to receive a 2014 scholarship. Leitalift scholarships are granted to women who have exhibited an extraordinary desire and commitment to enriching their lived through furthering their education.

Leita Thompson founded the Leitalift foundation is 1956 with her own earned funds as a working woman to assist working women find a fuller life. Clarice Bagwell was Leitalift Foundation President until her death in 2001. The spirit and tenacity of these two women are behind this scholarship grant.

The scholarship recipient by accepting this grant commits to do her best to accomplish her education goals in this coming year."

Challenge accepted, with gratitude and humility.

Thank you Clarice Bagwell/ Leitalift Foundation. With the Lord's help and blessing, I will prove myself worthy.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Makers of Culture

To bring back truth, on a practical level, the church must encourage Christians to be not merely consumers of culture but makers of culture. The church needs to cultivate Christian artists, musicians, novelists, filmmakers, journalists, attorneys, teachers, scientists, business executives, and the like, teaching its laypeople the sense in which every secular vocation-including, above all, the callings of husband, wife, and parent--is a sphere of Christian ministry, a way of serving God and neighbor that is grounded in God's truth. Christian laypeople must be encouraged to be leaders in their fields, rather than eager-to-please followers, working from the assumptions of their biblical worldview, not the vapid clichés of pop culture.” 
― J. Gresham Machen

There was a time when the Church, and the laypeople who made up the Church, proclaimed the glory of God by producing great art. There is no shortage of images, sculptures, cathedrals, musical scores, and literature to illustrate what man can do in his desire to bring glory to the Father. Bach proclaimed, "The aim and final reason of all music should be none else but the glory of God and refreshing the soul." Michelangelo prayed, "Lord, grant that I may always desire more than I accomplish." Art, both the ability to enjoy it and the ability to create it, is a gift from God, who created all things.  So why is it that Christians today seem hell-bent on mediocrity?

In today's culture, Christians seem to think that everything they produce must include some great evangelical altar call, so that art and music and dance turns vapid in the chasing after a message. But God never called artists to be evangelists. He calls people to pursue excellence in WHATEVER they are gifted to do. It is increasingly frustrating to be an artist and a believer these days. The art world is increasingly antagonistic to faith, and the Church sees no value in art. Francis Schaeffer recognized this years ago, and wrote an entire book about the role of art in the Church. He wrote, "Christian art is the expression of the whole life of the whole person as a Christian. What a Christian portrays in his art is the totality of life. Art is not to be solely a vehicle for some sort of self-conscious evangelism."  Yet, what has happened in the Church has so devalued the excellence of technical skill that artists either leave the church in order to have freedom to pursue their calling or they bastardize their work so that it meets some standard of "ministry."

I rebel against that idea. God created some to be evangelists and teachers and healers (1 Corinthians 12). Others He created to be artists and musicians and dancers and journalists and businessmen. One set is not more elevated than the other, and neither set has the sole responsibility to glorify God. Instead, the Church needs to support the businessman and the artist as much as it does the missionary, for all believers have a role in the Great Commission. The pastor must not tell the artist what or how to create any more than the businessman must tell the pastor what to preach. Similarly, artists must not try to conform to some expectation, be it commercial or spiritual, but rather lead in excellence of technique and skill and beauty. The businessman should innovate and create, not for self-gratification, but because God has given him the skills to do so. Christians need to not fear excellence in their fields just because their skills are not necessarily church related. God has gifted everyone differently. What He most desires is that those who follow Him seek excellence and wholehearted commitment to whatever He has called them to do (Colossians 3:23).


“The Christian shoemaker does his duty not by putting little crosses on the shoes, but by making good shoes, because God is interested in good craftsmanship.” 
― Martin Luther


Saturday, November 01, 2014

Autumn color

photo mine
overlay by Kim Klassen

#gradschool

Well, it appears I will not meet my 100 post goal for 2014. I'm writing plenty--but it's all for school! I love it, though. Eventually, I'll be a busy blogger again. I will get some artwork posted at least!

I took this picture on my walk/run today. 6.8 miles at 44 degrees. Yup, it's November.

overlay by Kim Klassen

Saturday, October 11, 2014

This I Believe

This I Believe-a project for a class.




Words mean things. But I do not always believe.

The spoken word is power. It can inspire. It can encourage. It can entertain. It can elicit joy. It makes vows to last a lifetime. It deepens friendships, binds lovers, and makes meaning with inflection and volume and tone.

 But spoken words are impermanent. They can lie, deceive, and mislead. Vows are broken, friendships torn apart by words that wound instead of heal. So, because the spoken word is fickle and inconstant, I do not believe.

 The printed word is power. It can inform. It can lead. It can direct. It can entertain and teach and inspire. It is permanent and can be shared with just a few or many. It can outlast generations. It can speak for the invisible and represent the emotions of a multitude.

But printed words are careful. They can be edited, changed, and manipulated. They can be misconstrued or taken out of context and made to mean something other than intended. So, because the printed word is subject to interpretation, I do not believe.

The written word is power. It is intimate. It is raw. It moves from the heart to the hand in elegance or in scrawl. The form doesn't matter. It invites. It thanks. It shares deep ideas without thought to publication. It can convey emotion by implement or technique. It can be secret or shared.

 But written words are fragile. Paper ages and becomes brittle. Ink and pencil fade to nothingness. They can be crumpled or burned or carelessly lost. They can be marked up in anger or diminished by tears. So, because the written word is impermanent, I do not believe.

The Word is power. It speaks through spoken and printed and written words. It survives efforts to destroy it and is never affected by humans. It judges perfectly. It grants hope to the hopeless, comfort to the sorrowing, challenge to the arrogant, restoration to the repentant. It does not deceive. It is its own interpretation. It cannot be lost or damaged or carelessly ignored. It is both public and private. It is intimate and vast. It is inexplicable and understood by children. It is both beginning and end.

 So, because the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, I believe. This Word I believe.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Something Pretty

I had a photo shoot at Gluten Free Cutie today. The extension is nearly ready to open and so I got a few pics and then the new grab-and-go lunch menu. This pretty arrangement hangs on the wall, and I couldn't resist combining the image with one of Kim Klassen's lovely textures.

Photo: mine
Overlay: Kim Klassen PinIt9

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Random

Summer session for grad school was beastly, but it's done. Since then, I've done a few photo shoots and worked on projects for Nosh Fest in two weeks (yikes). We've also almost finished rearranging the house: studio moved upstairs, guest room across the hall, and Caty Mae to the basement. My blog is neglected. So, here are a few photos from the last couple of weeks!









Monday, July 14, 2014

A Journey

2002
Slim Fast Can. Eleven ounces of quickly digestible calories with a balance of protein and fat.  And potassium. Why that matters, she doesn't know. What she does know, and what really matters, is that the chocolate liquid with its 220 artificially flavored calories will be absorbed along the one mile walk to the middle school. Mother and daughter walking. Mother walking and watching, making small talk while desperately trying to prevent her 6th grade daughter from starving to death. On purpose.  Her head already balances precariously on her tiny frame, but no one believes in purposeful starvation. Precise elimination. So it comes down to a daily can of Slim Fast in a cheery red can, watchfully consumed on a walk to school that seems shorter every day.





















2004
Family singing at Christmas Eve candlelight services. Final songs sung. Fragrance of Frazier fir lingering and mingling with smoky candles and peppermint canes. Tradition for 12 years, come to an end. Moving truck gone on before. Everything packed in two cars. Christmas lights inside the van, trying to capture the spirit of the holiday.  Loaded with possessions and dog, an empty-eyed teen and her sisters.  Santa knows hotels on I 5, right?  Don't cry; it's a grand adventure. Let the hope lights lead the way.











2012

White on white. Lace or not. Ballgown? No. Mermaid?  Can't dance. Beading and sequins and appliqués.  What kind of neckline? Halter? Sweetheart? Daddy says, "You're beautiful in a burlap sack." He's not invited on this quest. No help at all.  Strapless, yes. Tulle? Maybe a little. Shimmer? "Um, no, Mom. That's so 1987." Wink, grin, whispering.  "I'll wear your veil as my something old." Ouch.  Yards and yards of white: eggshell and ivory and cloud and whisper and natural and champagne. Who knew white came in so many colors? Little girl disappears into a fitting room and walks out a woman, a vision, a bride. Ready.





Sunday, June 29, 2014

cards

One of my classes has us writing thank you notes. I thought I'd use the opportunity to make cards again for the first time in a long while.


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Small Gifts

I remember trees.

I remember the three fruitless mulberries I used to climb with a book in one hand. I remember making my way around the top branches as they bent beneath my weight.  Finding the just the right perch to sit and escape for hours.

I remember the cherry plum tree. It was another tree for climbing, but not a place for reading. The reward of this ascent was the sticky sweet fruit, small as a cherry, flavor of a plum. Eating fruit, spitting seeds, sharing with the birds. Until they cut the tree down to expand the driveway.

I remember the apricot tree. It wasn't our tree. It was part of Mr. Parr's perfect yard. His yard was an oasis of order and beauty. Fragrant roses lined every wall. Flowers bloomed in season without fail. But his prize was the apricot tree in his backyard. It only bore fruit on alternate years, but when it did, it was a bountiful harvest. Branches heavy with gold hung over our fence. Mr. Parr allowed those branches to grow, his quiet gift to us, granting permission to eat any of the fruit that shadowed our yard.  Warm from the sun, fleshy, and sweet.

            "You must not eat them all."

            "We must make cobbler."

            "We must make jam."

            "We must turn them into something else."

                                                                                                But

                                                                                                            WHY?



Each one is perfect as it is.

                        Warm from the sun.

                                    Sweet and fleshy.

                                                Fully ripe.


                                                                                                Delicious.

A Metaphor

Before this,  I was the cool chick with the sporty car
Like a bumblebee savoring the sweet nectar of summer but flying fast, racing--
Like a blaze of yellow sun streaking down the highway, windows rolled down, 2/55.
It was glorious with black vinyl seats, manual transmission, and 8-track player.
And then Dad gave it to my kid brother.
Who promptly crashed it.
Totaled.


And after that everything changed because I drove the luxury sedan
Like a tall glass of very grown up iced tea, windows rolled up, A/C blasting.
Like an elegant old woman in pearls striding smoothly in automatic
Pushed to be an adult while still a teenager.
Unlike my kid brother.
Peter Pan.


Someday I will be the cool old lady with the sporty car
Like Halley's comet whizzing by earth every 75 years
Like silver mercury conducting electricity gliding over the road
Enjoying glorious freedom with the convertible top down and manual transmission

Better hang on.


My Graduate English class is challenging me in a number of ways. This poem is one of our assignments.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Wedding Cake

I needed a creative break from school, and since I had just done photos for the bakery...


Cake by Gluten Free Cutie
Photo: mine
Overlay: Kim Klassen
Quote: unknown

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Rhododendrons

Not sure why--unless it's all the coffee grounds I've dumped on it this winter (or perhaps the ridiculous winter we had), but my rhododendron is gorgeous this year!






So, I made this:




photo: mine
Elements: DigiDesignResort
Overlays: Kim Klassen

Friday, April 25, 2014

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Come and see...


"Come and see" the angel said. Not "Believe me" or "Trust me." "Come and see the place where he lay." It's an invitation to verify, to question, to wonder, and to think. Faith is not blind; it is a decision made based on what is seen and how what is seen gives evidence for that which is not seen.  God does not need His creation to worship Him; He desires to show Himself to us and by doing so, initiate a relationship with us. Our response when we see Him must be to fall down in worship first, and then so radiate His love and grace and mercy that we cover our faces for fear of blinding others. The God who revealed Himself to Moses is the same God whose resurrection secures our eternity, once for all. Come and see. For now, we see dimly, but someday, face to face. What a glorious day. 

Come and see.

Monday, April 14, 2014

celebrate


Textures: Design Cuts
Brushes: House of 3; Scrap Girls
Photos: Mine

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

For the Love of Literature

This piece needs a little explanation.


I am currently in grad school working on a Masters of Teaching in English. In one course I am working with two other students on a project featuring Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451.  I've been breathing this book and ways to teach it for a couple of weeks, so when Kim suggested "for the love of..." as the Texture Tuesday theme, I immediately thought, "It's the literature." I do all I do in teaching to share my passion for literature. I read because I love literature. This collage brings those two things together

Graphics from CC Google search
List, burning books photo, and background: mine
Overlay: Kim Klassen

Monday, April 07, 2014

Who Am I?

I don't draw. Especially faces. But I've started practicing, and I'm pretty happy with my progress. Still a long way to go...




Sunday, April 06, 2014

The Role of Nature


To say that Albert Einstein had no faith is inaccurate. He believed in the potential of man, the evidence of nature for a Creator, and the authenticity of Jesus. He recognized the inadequacies of science as a means for living a "happy and dignified life."  He believed that the Bible, stripped of the Prophet and Jesus, taught a way of living that could cure the world of all social ills. Jewish by birth, he also was "enthralled by the luminous figure of the Nazarene." He believed that much of the literature about Jesus is too shallow saying, "Jesus is too colossal for the pen of phrasemongers, however artful. No man can dispose of Christianity with a bon mot." His opinion was that science and technology improved man's ability to apply the words of the Prophets and of Jesus. He said that proclaimers of high moral standards and values are rightfully placed above those who discover objective truth. Still he pursued the undiscovered laws of Nature with a nod to the Creator, but without belief in a personal God. He understood Natural Law as put in place by some manifest Reason or Intelligence, but refused to look for grace, mercy, and hope. He dismissed the idea that awe and reverence for creation necessitated the existence of a "divine personality." He trusted in the laws of Nature (as created by the God he believed in) to both reward and punish appropriately.

Certainly Einstein understood the role of nature: created, ordered, rational, and consistent.  But when he speaks of understanding "everything better" he comes short. Intelligence is insufficient to fully understand what God has done in creation. All the principles of science and reason are evident there. Higher math is illustrated in flowers and fractals and feathers. Einstein recognized that morality comes from a higher source than man himself, but from that point he stopped searching for the Truth behind that source.

C.S. Lewis, equally intelligent, did not stop there. He pressed the issue of "Natural Law" in his book, Mere Christianity. Lewis expanded the role of Natural Law to include a Moral Law. Einstein would probably agree with him on that point: Natural/Moral Law determines why people respond to situations the way they do. And most humans agree that there IS a "right" or "wrong" but the definition wobbles as cultural paradigms shift. This is the point at which Lewis parts ways with Einstein; Moral Laws do not change with the times because they are based on a Moral Reality. There must be a standard for comparison. Otherwise "decent behaviour" in one culture is unacceptable in another. In order to compare the two, or to really function in either one must decide which one conforms more closely to the Standard. In a perfect world, all humanity would adhere to the Natural/Moral Law because doing so ensures equality, equanimity, and equilibrium. What Einstein and today's humanists ignore is the fact that people don't choose to obey these Natural/Moral Laws unless there is some personal benefit, which in and of itself defies the tenants of the Law. Lewis conjectures that people can't obey the Law by their own power because the source of "good" is not in mankind. Somehow the selfish, cruel, and corrupt people become the ruling class and that particular society ceases to exist because the common good is no longer the reason for service. Socialism, for all of its idealism, will never prevail because humans cannot seem to be faithful to the Natural Laws that even Einstein admits are in place. The old platitude, "power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely" is reflected in every great civilization of history.

Nature, because it has no will of its own, consistently adheres to the laws that govern it. As such, those who look deeply into the natural world can learn a great deal from it. Beauty revealed in synchronicity pleases the senses because the observer understands the delicate balance of elements that make it. Nature reveals the Creator from the vastness of the ever-expanding universe to the smallest sub-particle of an atom. God is at once greater than all things and involved with the smallest and most insignificant. Einstein's logic and intelligence prevented him from seeing a personal God. Lewis looked around himself and, after a great deal of adamant denial, found that the world only made sense if the Creator was also the Answer to the questions of why and how. In nature, Einstein saw an omnipotent God who set the universe in motion; Lewis saw an omnipresent God who wants a relationship with the ones He created in His own image.

Looking deep into nature is a place to begin to understand "everything." But the rational and logical mind must look deeper still, to a place where reason is insufficient, for that is where a truer understanding of the Creator exists. It is possible to look at the natural world and marvel at its perfection without seeing the Intelligence behind it. It is also possible to look at nature with awe and wonder that it was designed by a Creator who also provides the Source of all real wisdom and knowledge and virtue. Knowing the true awesomeness (in the fullest meaning of the word) of God should be a humbling experience that drives mankind to its knees, not just for the discovery, but for the things about Him yet to be discovered. To know this God is to understand the reason for nature: it reveals His creative perfection, His expectation, and His law.

Sources:
Viereck, George Sylvester, "What Life Means to Einstein: An Interview by George Sylvester Viereck",  The Saturday Evening Post, 26 October 1929 p 17  http://einsteinandreligion.com/einsteinonjesus.html
Pais, Abraham, Subtle is the Lord — The Science and the Life of Albert Einstein (Clarendon Press, Oxford, and Oxford University Press, New York, 1982)
 http://einsteinandreligion.com/faith.html
Science, Philosophy, and Religion, A Symposium, published by the Conference on Science, Philosophy and Religion in Their Relation to the Democratic Way of Life, Inc., New York, 1941.
W. Hermanns, Einstein and the Poet—In Search of the Cosmic Man (Branden Press, Brookline Village, Mass., 1983), p.132, quoted in Jammer, p.123.
Lewis, C.S., Mere Christianity, Harper San Francisco, Zondervan Publishing House. 1952, 2001

Photo: mine

Friday, April 04, 2014

Hope

I know it is Spring because the Dogwood trees are finally blooming. I love the dogwood trees of the south. They're delicate, but hardy, adding a touch of lacy color to the forests of pine and hardwood. The blossoms are short-lived, but while they last, I can't get enough of them. Just when I think Winter will never end, hope comes in daffodils, tulip trees, and flowering dogwood.


Photo: mine
Quote: G.K. Chesterton
Processing: Lightroom B/W toned presets; Greater than Gatsby actions
Overlay: Kim Klassen


Thursday, April 03, 2014