Archive for the ‘meaning of words’ Category

What did you talk about around the table on Thanksgiving?
Predictions were that current elections and the possibility of war would be top topics. After the sumptuous meal, for the fortunate ones, the grown-up table talk increases. 
We were among guests who shared personal experiences, opinions, and concerns. A small group of adults who spanned five generations. Our common characteristics: African American. We were all employed. (The most senior are employed at staying well and alive.) We shared our middle class-ness, regardless of the path to arrive there. Each person speaking from their own generation: spokes in a wheel.
I have been trying to find symbols that represent what was most important, and disturbing. Were I a composer, I think I would make music. A better writer, perhaps a pamphlet of opinion, a summary and possible conclusions. I might save characterization for a future novel. 
But I am primarily a visual artist. One who usually thinks content before making art. I want symbols where there were no cymbals at the table. The words radiated out from the heat off the sun and cooled as they were politely spoken. Drawn childlike. At the center, each of us spoke from the core of hurts, large, small, deep. Too painful to admit. Lava-like flowing on the outside of a hardened inner core. Too painful to go deeply.
Perhaps, a ball of twine wrapped around a stone. Sometimes a ribbon of velvet and silk, sometimes the roughened rope.

Perhaps a basket made by gichee mothers or for Moses. Safe passage except for a tiny hole. 
Perhaps, a fire burned down to ashes and then getting new life, reigniting. How do you express the cycles of history? The collective rebellions shut down by guns? The passiveness of fear? Not telling our children the full extent of the law and its historic significance? Jacob Lawrence painted the tables but could not record the talk around it. Karin Walker’s silhouettes are just eye candy without the words behind them. 
Or, the broken chains. We are left with the comfort meal, some understanding of how we are all connected but no workable solution.

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Don’t call me Blimp
Puleeze, don’t call me Blimp. You have no idea how hurt I have been being disrespected. Yes, I am large but that is no excuse to call me names.
Inside, I have so much to be proud of. If you do not know me, you have no right to pass judgement.
Inside this huge body, I have the latest and greatest innovations of observation. Did you know that I am programmed to find out stuff. So do not call me Blimp.
I can fly. If you come around and taunt me, it must be that you do not believe it. I can fly around and look for important things which I report on. I have an important role to play in security of the homeland. I can record stuff. If you have done nothing for homeland security, get off my back. 
I have heard men talking about why can’t I do more. They check all these systems as if I have returned from a mission. They call me blimp and criticize. I am too large. I am too thin skinned. They wish I had more color.
In the meanwhile, they have me tied up. I thought this was the Land of the Free. They call this mile-long chain a tether. But it is a restraint. Should I be able to move in and around in a mile wide pivot, but oh, no! There is so much in the way: trucks, dumpsters, tin buildings, even piles of building materials. I guess they intend to give me a family. A family they want to call Blimp A, Blimp B etc. Why such a limited vocabulary? I would like a name. Like the spaceship I am. Or like a telescope. Hubble sounds nice.

After taking so much verbal abuse, I longed to get airborne, to sail on the waves of the wind. To unleash my tether and leave the earth for my mission. I want to travel and see what is more than a mile circle. Which of course, I can barely see the ground in front of me. The ground under me is bare? Do I shut out the sun with my shadows?

Once I get loose, my gas will be useful. Ha ha to taunters calling me just a bag of hot air. I am filled with helium and ready to go. As I have plotted this journey, I know it sounds crazy. Those men who come inside poking around will not approve. But it will be better than sitting here. Bugs, small animals and kids think I am an ice rink or a pile of snow from New Jersey.

So here goes. An October Surprise. Fall Foliage Tour from the sky. I am cruising along. The trip of 2015. I am well-prepared for this. Sometimes flying low and aiming higher until I see what the Impressionist painters saw. Next time I will find a tornado wind and go to the moon. If I can. Maybe Mars.
Oops, those are Fighter jets following me. Now side by side. I wish I could wave to let them know it is a game.
They are going to change the air. I drop down more often. The ribbon of highway, the toy cars and trucks. Not sure about these wires. I may not clear them. Still got my tether. And I did not. Landing safe and did not cause any accident.


The news reported that fighter planes were scouting the Blimp and considering shooting it down.

Well, I guess I have done it. I did this all by myself. No terrorism involved. Landed safely without losing the secret instruments. But my repair bill will be a lot. They are shooting me. The helium is going out. Probably won’t hurt the environment that much. Still shooting. 
Much later

It was reported that 150 bullets were shot into the Blimp before using cranes to lift it out of a ravine. But then it was denied. 
The definition of “blimp”

Links to news 


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Women Series

Iola (Ida B. Wells)
Oil by Bettye W. Harwell

Lynching is the act of hanging an individual by a group.

I may not post this because this is my personal opinion.  I want to write this for my own clarity. Lynching was never something I came into personal contact with. Living in the North with southern-raised relatives, children were protected from scary things. Still there were the conversations in the corners which made us fearful.

As I became an adult, I came to know about the practice of killing Black men for any reason. These were spontaneously organized by groups of men. No judge, no jury. We are familiar with the Ku Klux Clan formed after the Civil War. By wearing a covering of white, each person remained anonymous. Burning crosses, shooting into homes, culminating with hanging spectacles terrorized communities across the country.

Earlier, the Wild West set the template of justice. Those early hangings, viewed by women and children, were public events. The Law and Order of an earlier day was horrible but at least the hangings were equal opportunity. Lynching became racial and intimidation events. Officials were not acting in their authority but were part of the mob.

These unexpected and unsanctioned attacks deprived families of breadwinners, caused loss of property. They were used to ensure that others knew their ‘place.’ It also caused displacement: Blacks fled their homes looking for safe shelter far away from the dangers. (Finding dangers of another kind?)

Long before Emmit Till, part of my family left the south in small  groups. A great uncle, age 20 and looking white, was being chased for talking to a white woman. The sister was separated from her brother. His former slave mother spent her last years without his comfort. The doctor husband remained in a nearby southern state. What resulted from this new normal?

Finally, the practice of lynching was curtailed by federal laws.

But now we have a new version of lawlessness. Our children are killing each other. In this form, it is also an equal opportunity event. Children of color, with guns, kill those closest to themselves. It is the lawlessness of the Wild West and no one is safe.

By my definition the New Lynchings are encouraged by our laws. It is an individual ‘being the MAN’ event. When there is no accountability for taking a life, our children have no expectation of living a long time. The model is ‘give me respect’, or, with my gun, you lose your life. How sad. Parents live in anguish when cast as polite, understanding people; cast into the TV limelight due to the killing of their child. What effort to face the public with the approved image only to curse the dark when alone.

And if you have other children, yours or your neighbors?  What court? What jury? What comfort for their safety? What price for raising good kids? And if not so good, would that make a killing justified?

In the celebration of Black History Month, we look away from the bad past and the bad today. Will we remember that within some of our lifetimes, in Florida, Blacks had a curfew, could not walk on the sidewalk, and could be arrested without a ‘passport.’ Not slavery times, not too long ago. Will we see the signs on water fountains because some people buy into being separate means safety?

Who knew?

I used to say (facetiously) that you had lived a good life if your son did not ring the doorbell and shoot you. (That happened in our town.) Now you may have to live to bury your child. This is my opinion, but it does not change anything today. Perhaps tomorrow.

Painting: Ida Wells became a civil right leader after learning of the lynching  of three Black men in TN.

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Encaustic wax on Paper

Out of the Dark is Light
by Bettye W. Harwell

In art, as in life, the darkest dark forms the brightest light. A painter sets aside a painting that does not ‘work’. Imperfect  Impulses with Aaron (wordpress.com) is a website demonstrating journaling techniques. A recent post, no video, describes a failed technique. When he attempted something new, it did not get the hoped for results.

I wanted to contact him and say, keep working on it. Put on more layers. In a scrape-off technique, some residue and texture remain. Continue to add, sand, add, scrape to create unexpected glow and depth. Then find the dark that will reveal the light. (A later post uses that page successfully.)

A result will present itself totally unplanned. Then the work will be done. I use a mat to find the best part to save. (Harder to select on canvas. Works on paper can be cut or torn to show the strongest composition.)

If after reworking, you still feel it is hopeless, you have not failed. It was a teachable experience. Start over and apply what was learned. Keep the failure. It may show more promise later.

Why the light in life?
I wondered how long it would take before the reputation of Nelson Mandela, first Black President of South Africa, would be attacked. His services are to cover ten days. World dignitaries and regular people will show their respect for an amazing life. Any death is an opportunity for self-reflection. Are we living our best life?

I wondered if it would take the full ten days before the knives came out. No. Not even two. The words used in the past by people, who themselves were protective of terrible atrocities, dredged up names he was called long ago. Questions have been raised. When did Mandela become a man of peace? When did he stop being a rebel? Was he a communist? And more.

The dark terrible history of the people of South Africa, both Black and white, forced the brightest light. It shaped the man. It shaped a government.

Lessons are learned from both the bad and the good. Some are influenced to emulate the political successes of Mandela, the leader. Others have taken on the resistance skills of the apartheid government. Is America using tactics which limit the apirations of all its citizens? Will we be the model for other governments?

Why compare one leader to anyone but his (or her) own self? Obama/Mandela or Washington/Mandela? Mandela paid his dues after personally enduring his country’s power. Obama has lived a very different life.

Mandela was not chosen to form an army and fight a revolution. He did not form another country, as Washington did. He used freedom and the rights of citizenship for all to make the country of his birth better. Washington and the Founding Fathers used an army and a new government to defeat the British. They accepted a constitution and government calling a large part of the population 2/3 of a man, had no universal right to vote and no recognition of women as full citizens. Mandela used his election to include all citizens fairly.

Who knew?
No man is better or has a higher station than any other.

Newt Gingrich and Senator Cruz are getting a backlash for speaking about the loss of a leader, Nelson Mandela.

Written December 8, 2103

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Joanna Penn

Joanna Penn (Photo credit: TheCreativePenn)

Marketing or Promotion?


marketing: a more comprehensive process of getting a product sold. It involves creating the interest, identifying a target group, setting goals for the product and the campaign, advertising using various media, etc.

promotion: one part of a marketing campaign using various techniques including personal contacts to sell a product.

Writers need that extra step of validation and sales. Today it  more important to add the business end to the creative process. So many times writers explain that the work of writing is difficult and lonely. And some get no joy from the final shaping of a publishable article or book.

Add to this, a marketing strategy must be devised and followed aggressively. There is an industry of people who specialize in providing the products and skills needed to put your work on the market. A balance is needed between what you can do well, have the time for and the money left for a profit. Don’t be your own customer.

If you are new to  traditional publishing or self-publishing, how do you avoid pitfalls? You learn as much as you can and sort out advice from others. I find it helpful to be personally involved in each step of a project. That way you will know what to expect when you have the money to hire help. I recently went to a lecture billed “How to Write Your Family Story.”

In fact, it was a retiree, a minister, who had taken on publishing as a second career. He was selling taking your story to print. The samples he showed were glossy books with little content. They were extremely expensive. At these prices, they could not be sold outside of a small interest group.

The most telling part of the presentation came when he talked about his writing services “to help you shape your story.” He offered for you to tell him what you wanted to say and he would write it. Also, if you have written your story and collected the supportive materials, he would act as editor. I found spelling and grammatical errors in his slide presentation. Several in the group asked questions before it was clear: his services were in addition to the printing costs!

To be fair, he had the contact with a printer and the books were attractive. He did nothing about research or sales. Would we know enough about the steps from cover to cover before parting with  our money?

Who knew?

A. J. Race (The Daily Racewood.wordpress) shares his experiences from working alone to hiring some help in publishing a trilogy. A recent find in blogs is advice by Bill Mayer. His use of Slideshare to promote his books is an innovative use of online tools. His post was reblogged by Joanna Penn, a consultant.

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Reposted from 02/27/2012

Some things are worrying

Each President must make decisions that affect all citizens. He or she meets with people who have no political clout as well as foreign leaders. We are not ruled by royalty or a dictator.

Even the current President has learned that his words can create havoc when not measured.

Can candidates, regardless of party, talk with foreign officials if their language is vague?  Sometimes it is necessary to research a word or phrase to understand the candidate’s meaning. Other times, there could be no explanation.

Herman Cain drifted off when questioned about foreign countries. We are asked to understand why Michigan trees are perfect. (more…)

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English: This is a high-resolution image of th...

Image via Wikipedia

Paying slight attention to the speeches, something seemed wrong. Did Santorum say that ‘men and women‘ signed the Declaration of Independence?History and facts are no longer relevant. Tell a child to study hard, learn about our history (more…)

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