Be the Change…

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As an artist, I make things. My boys made fun of me while they were growing up for using the phrase, “well, I can make that,” because, I usually could. It was usually because there was no money to buy the same item and after careful examination, I would make my own item. They made fun until, they too, became makers themselves. Frugal has its rewards sometimes. But, the things I made are just things. They really have no impact on the world, just things that have helped to add to our family budget in small ways or to give as a gift to someone I care deeply about. Artists make, I suppose, to someday be recognized but I gave up on that a long time ago and make things out of my own need and just the enjoyment of seeing others enjoy handmade things.

But to make something that will become a legacy is different. As a woman and mother, I gave birth to two fine men, who will, and have impacted the planet in however ways they decide is important but I can’t really claim them as a legacy or their legacies as my own. My son John died in 2014. He was 30. A forester and an environmentalist. He planted 70 acres of trees before he died in the 7 months that he lived in the state of Oregon. Those trees are his legacy. They will, hopefully, without threat of fires on the west coast, live for many many years to come and benefit the planet that this current administration is trying to destroy.  I will go see the trees my son planted next year before they are destroyed and before I, myself, leave planet earth. But, in the meantime, I can try to be the change that I want to see in the world. Real change of real significance. So, when my friend Jeff Carithers asked me to help with a project he was working on, I saw a way to use my artistic skills to help make big changes in the lives of people in a country that I may never get to see because of my lack of funds to travel the world. My drawings will travel for me, with Jeff’s work, in the form of technology that will make change on the other side of the world. That will be my legacy.

Dr. Jeff Carithers is part of the stateside team at Empower Tanzania and his title is Improving Women’s Health, Community Hospital Alliance, & Beyond Gender-Based Violence Program Manager. I know that in the past he has taken iPads to the village health care associates, to teach them, along with their villagers about taking vital signs to improve their health and well being. He also loaded these iPads with information to help educate them about water health and the importance of healthy clean water, something that we take for granted in this country.

Jeff contacted me back in September when he was looking for help with a program he was assembling on reproductive health. It is an educational program on reproduction and sexual health to be taught to the school students, which will include videos, class discussions, and other approaches. He told me that in Tanzania, there is a big problem with pregnancies in the primary and secondary schools and associated sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS. In fact, 67 girls have become pregnant so far this year in a district with 25,000 students. You can read about this issue on their blog here.

So, in late February and all through March and April, Jeff and I have been emailing back and forth the drawings that he needed to illustrate the script he was putting together in an amazing training video to take to Tanzania to begin the process of demystifying the process of reproduction and to educate both children and adults what really happens when humans reproduce. We both feel that we have put together drawings that are clinical and yet simple enough that the process is understandable. Even though I have given birth twice I learned a lot in the process. Thank you Jeff!

March 9th is the anniversary of John’s death. I have had a harder time with my grief this year than in the previous three. Jeff knew this and shared several stories with me to  show me the impact my drawings could have. It gave me the strength to get through some rough days of my own grief.  One of the stories is below taken from Jeff’s email to me on March 2nd…

The Maasai told that if a baby has a lot of vernix on it (vernix is the cheesy covering on some newborns, but not all) that this means that the husband had sex with his wife during the last 6 months of the pregnancy, a time when sex is prohibited by them because of the risk. They think the vernix is the semen. The villagers beat the couple if their baby is born with visible vernix on it. They told me of a couple who had a stillborn child and it had vernix in the mouth and nose, again normal. They blamed the man or other men in the village for having sex with the wife and the semen prevented the baby from breathing. They severely beat the couple and every male of that age group in the village for 4 days, nearly killing some of them. 
I told the Maasai men that sex is safe until the last week or so of pregnancy if all is progressing well. I explained that the closed cervix seals the uterus from the vagina and semen cannot get into the uterus during pregnancy because of a plug in the cervix. I also explained the amniotic sac, which would prevent semen from reaching the baby. I reminded them about the water breaking just before birth and they knew about that. I said that if water cannot get out until the very end of pregnancy, how could semen get in? They were very attentive and said they would educate their fellow villagers on this subject. 
This is just an example of how these drawings will help people understand and change lives. It is one thing to explain something, but another to see it clearly in one of your beautiful drawings. 
Another story was of a woman who now helps with the program…
unnamed-3Hilpa, one of the community health educators who does the public health presentations to the community. Hilpa is about 50, has a warm smile and is very friendly. Here is her photo. She is also one of our most engaging presenters. I asked her one time why she was involved in the program. She told me that 25 years ago she gave birth to twin girls and she and her husband were very excited about them.  However, they both died from congenital malaria within two weeks of birth. She uses this tragedy as motivation for her involvement in the program so she can prevent the same thing from needlessly happening to other parents and children. 
This is only one example of the many stories of people who participate in the programs. The programs have huge impacts on the recipients, but those who contribute also gain incalculable benefit. Knowing that tens of thousands of people will see your videos each month, I hope you are one of those, Susie.
I feel very passionate about women’s health issues, women’s rights and the right to choose in this country. But, my impact in this country can be made by donating money to Planned Parenthood and supporting candidates that share my views. Sometimes I feel that we are going back in time in this country and not being critical thinkers about women’s health and reproductive rights. We seem to be pro birth and nothing else. But doing this project feels like we (I) will not just help empower women but also men and children, giving them the knowledge to learn about how their body works and how to be healthy and to empower their government to create positive results to save lives, avoid disease and to have healthy families. And not be ashamed or embarrassed about the topic but to approach it full on and with an open mind and heart.
Jeff had a team of about 40-50 people helping him to put the videos together and my part in the process was to do drawings of the body parts and the sequences of how the reproduction works. After 100s of emails back and forth we are both pleased with the results and hope that the videos can be used by as many people as needed to bring the change that we want to see in the world.
The videos are broken into three topics because there will be different age groups that will view them and depending on the maturity levels needed.
The first one is on Puberty and this one will be show to kids, starting around the age of 7. It is to help them understand how their bodies are changing as they grow and develop hormonal changes. Things like body hair, the need for deodorants and physical changes that are occurring and to help them understand why this happens.
The second is on Periods. This video will show young adults how a woman’s period/menstrual cycle works and why. It answers the many questions surrounding this natural part of life. Jeff said that many young women are never told about this and when it finally happens that it can be a scary thing for them. Hopefully, this video will take some of the fear out of a natural process that women deal with. It also shows them the processes of caring for their body during this time of the month.
And the last video is about Relationships .  This talk is about reproduction, what happens during sex and that it is important to know when is the appropriate time to have a sexual relationship. Important issues like contraception and STDs are discussed in this one and how making a decision to have sexual relations can have consequences for both participants but doesn’t have to if you are prepared with the appropriate contraception device. And how making a baby is a big commitment, as we all know.
So, I am sharing these videos as a way of documenting my legacy because I can’t travel there in person. But, Jeff will teach them what is in the videos and my legacy will be the illustrations that are embedded in the videos to help him do that. Thank you Jeff and Empower Tanzania for being the change and letting me be a small part of that.
So, if you want to read more about Empower Tanzania and see what they do check out this link. There are many programs that they are doing that are having large impacts on the villages and if you have extra income, perhaps you might feel moved to contribute to their programs and help out.

Cupcake Royale…

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My son Thomas and his wife live in Seattle and there is a cupcake shop there called Cupcake Royale. They LOVE cupcakes and even bought me a shirt from the shop for my birthday one year.  Recently, they were home for a quick visit and we met them at the Woodstock Cafe for lunch before they flew home. Herb’s birthday had been the week before and since we can no longer celebrate birthdays together, I thought it would be a fun treat for all of us to have personalized cupcake pots with chocolate cupcakes in them at the Cafe for dessert.

Thomas is following in his dad’s curmudgeon footsteps, apparently, and is known at his workplace as the Grumpy Cat and even uses an illustration of the Grumpy Cat as his Google profile image, so it was only fitting to make his cup with the Grumpy Cat on it. Each pot was different and were super simple to make. I went to Smitten Kitchen’s site and found a recipe called the “I want Chocolate Cake” Cake recipe and it is great because it only makes enough for an 8 X 8 pan of cake, which filled 6 cupcake pots.

The remainder of the cups are listed on my Etsy site and I have 8 more in the kiln that are to be glazed. The idea is to make a special cupcake for that co-worker or birthday someone and they receive their cupcake in the pottery cup and everyone else gets the cupcake in the paper liner. It provides a simple and inexpensive gift and takes cupcakes to a new level.

We didn’t even light our candles at the Cafe…. I did mention the curmudgeon thing, didn’t I? But, the cupcakes were a hit and hopefully they are now being used in Seattle for ice cream or to hold M&Ms or something as a reminder of our short time together. It is always good to see them both.

Day 300 of Acceptance

 

Today, December 31, 2014, it has been 300 days since John died.

baby johnI know this has been hard for everyone involved on all different levels but I feel I can truly say I knew him first. 31 years ago I felt his body moving in my body. It was an easy pregnancy. He was an easy going baby. I nourished his body with my own for those nine months and then nursed him for another 6. I have had numerous mothers, both counselors and my GP all tell me that it is always harder for the mom to lose a child.  I believe that Hallmark could sell a lot more cards if, instead of celebrating all mothers in the spring on Mother’s Day, we were to acknowledge mothers on our birthdays. I know this year, on January 17th, his 31st birthday, I am going to be thinking of my part in bringing a wonderful person into the world who will never know the change he has created, both before and after,  the lives  he touched and the personal hurt I feel, as his mom.

My meditation leader gave me the advice to give metta to all  mothers who have lost sons to kayaking accidents as a way of holding them in my heart and sending them loving kindness during my meditation. I don’t believe that they would be able to feel my message and I think part of the practice is to help me to realize that I am not alone on this journey.  I can think of them and their suffering . I often wonder  how they are dealing with their  loss. Are they angry? Do they wish they could talk to their son? Do they wish their son would have seen the danger they put themselves  into?  I wonder if they have the same frustration that I have of wanting to talk to my son, to find my missing son. If they have had a day where you get the same feeling you had when that child would play hide and seek in public and the panic you feel, only to find them and be angry and happy at the same time. Only now, that panic never resolves itself. If they are angry at their son for being arrogant and not recognizing how powerful water can be, thinking they are capable of coming out alive. If they are angry at all those other young men who are still putting their own lives in danger not thinking about the pain and suffering their deaths will create. I think of the mother in WVA who’s son, Chris Schwer died in 2012 and how she is just now reaching her 1000 days. How many more mothers have to do this? We got two more years than she did. Do I want a relationship with her or those other mothers?…..no.

Not one single book that I have read for grieving parents says it gets better. I don’t see how it ever will. I think it will get easier but never better. How can it? I feel my life is now a sandwich that is just bread. And it is that awful white bread that has no taste. There is the first slice of bread that represents everything before John and a slice of bread that represents this new chunk of life without John. The middle 30 years of my life has been removed. Not all of it, but a huge part of it.  Now, I have to find the “meat” to life or the PB&J, as it were. Something to fill the emptiness.

I am learning through reading about mindfulness and meditation that I need to find a way to “awaken” and allow things to be as they are right now. To be grateful. To learn to not judge and to let go. I don’t feel I am getting very far.I am still judging, I am still very upset, I am still frustrated. I have a lot of trouble “letting go.”  I am reading a book by Tara Brach called True RefugeThe book has given me meditations to try to work through my tough days and is something that I am trying to do daily to retrain my brain’s neurons.

Tara says there are  three gateways to finding refuge:

Refuge in the Buddha (an “awakened one” or our own pure awareness)

Refuge in the dharma (the truth of the present moment; the teachings; the way)

Refuge in the sangha (the community of spiritual friends or love)

Together with Rick Hanson’s book, Buddha’s Brain  and information about our brains and how they work, I am hoping that I can train my brain to deal with all the parts of the process and will hopefully come out the other side a different person.  A better person. One that can live with the constant ache in my heart but realizes that I have to continue. I have no other choice. This is my best plan to cope given that I don’t believe there is any higher power that can help me through this or can make it all make sense. The phrase that is a constant both with Rick and with Tara is that “neurons that fire together wire together” and I am hoping that I can awaken the bad neurons and replace them with better ones that know how to move forward. Giving myself positive affirmations to heal historic wounds that have come along for the ride.

Sometimes grieving my son feels like looking at a webpage. The main body of the page is the grief that Herb and I share. There are many embedded links in that body of grief. Many issues from our collective pasts that influence our sharing of our loss. That part of the page is full in and of itself.  Then it gets even more complicated with the sidebars on the page. Under each of those links are the other persons whose lives have been touched by John. Those links are hard to click on sometimes because, just like a webpage, they take you into places that you didn’t even know existed. Places that don’t add any value to the healing or the “getting easier” part. And just like on the web, places that aren’t even related to the subject but are just distractions.IMG_20141231_101104491

I had a customer stop in who shared that her brother had died in his 20s. Her mother had a hard time the rest of her life. The customer commented that as 20 somethings, they couldn’t understand why their mom still grieved for their brother. They would say to each other, ” she should be past this by now”. But, as they got older and they watched their own kids grow up, only then did they understand their mother’s grief. They couldn’t imagine watching their own child grow into adulthood, be at the start of adult life and then losing that child.

Tomorrow starts 2015. Tomorrow, when I move a pebble, I will be able to look at the calendar and use the day number as my number of pebbles, at least for 31 days on the way to 700 more days to acceptance. Yesterday, I counted the pebbles in my jar. I counted them twice. As with other times of counting, I got to add extra pebbles to the jar. Bonus pebbles. There are 2 pebbles that an acquaintance sent me to add to my jar, (one of John’s college room mate’s mom)  some driftwood and beach pebbles from Whidbey Island when we went to the west coast last summer, and a large pebble that I picked up the day we walked by the Rouge river with John after driving across the country with him. The large Gratitude stone in the photo was given to me by a good friend so that I remember each day to be grateful. Thank you everyone for helping us get through these 300 days. 700 more to go…I am grateful for my friends. I am grateful for small things. I am grateful that I had John and that we got to enjoy him for 30 years. I just wish it had been more.

 

 

 

IMG_0771It is coming together. This is the quilt that I am making from the fabric, that my daughter-in-law, Belle, used in the buntings she made for the picnic when she and Thomas got married in 2011. You can read about the quilt idea here…

I have two more of these 4 squares to assemble and add a note from Thomas to Belle and a note from Belle to Thomas. I also have a square with their wedding date on it and a message from Herb and myself.

Hopefully, this will be waiting on them, on the guest bed, when they come home for Thanksgiving.

 

 

 

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Quilt Fever…

The Poems on My Window

Poem window

the window above my clay wedging table

A Meeting

In a dream I meet
my dead friend. He has,
I know, gone long and far,
and yet he is the same
for the dead are changeless.
They grow no older.
It is I who have changed,
grown strange to what I was.
Yet I, the changed one,
ask: “How you been?”
He grins and looks at me.
“I been eating peaches
off some mighty fine trees.

Wendell Berry

This poem was sent to me by a college friend…April Leidig

In my studio, I have a window that I have collected some items to remember John by. After a while, I will probably take some of them down and move them. I don’t want it to begin to become a shrine. The voodoo doll, he bought the summer he worked at Zion National Park and went to California to see a cousin, who took him to Mexico. The photo of him is when we took him to Oregon, a year ago this week. There is a rock on the shelf that I dated 8-22-2013 Walking with John, Grant’s Pass, Oregon. Tomorrow is the 22nd of August and that rock will go into my jar to add to the 1000 pebbles that I am marking the 1000 days to Acceptance. Today is day 165. The poems that I have taped onto the window have given me words to read to help me through my days. They are positive thoughts. They may go away after a while and I find other positive thoughts to take their place. Some days, I don’t look at them, while other days, I read them all. Today, I thought I would share them with you and to also share some insights from a book that I have been reading. Trying to understand the differences in how I, and others are dealing with our new normal.

Right after John’s death, we received a little over a hundred cards and letters of condolences. Many of them had cliche’ messages, many people didn’t know what to write so they let the card be the message and simply signed their names. Some of the cards were very pointed and told stories that really helped us to feel supported and loved.  One letter we received complimented us on our parenting and that, while they didn’t know John, except to watch him play baseball in high school, they did know us and that if we were any indication, John must have been an incredible young man. Many remembered time spent with John.

1000 pebbles to acceptance

1000 pebbles to acceptance

I have also been reading a book by an Episcopal Bishop, “Why Christianity Must Change or Die” by John Shelby Spong. As an atheist, I get really frustrated with comments surrounding my son’s death and am trying to find words that will be inspirational to me but will help me to be a critical thinker. This book, written in 1998, discusses all the frustrations that I have had with religion and the superficial aspects of it in terms of today’s society. After, the death of my son, I have struggled with how religion is playing a part in how others are dealing with their grief.  I am trying not to be judgmental about someone else’s grief. Each person has a right to their own belief systems but religion and god have nothing to do with how I am dealing with my grief.

Critical thinking is the basis of this book and Bishop Spong’s advice is to try to find new answers to many of the practices that are out of date from biblical times. He takes the scriptures apart and points out the histories behind them and how the world was very different than what it is today. One of the reviews on the back of the book says that …”he sounds a rousing call for a Christianity based on critical thought rather than blind faith, on love rather than judgement, and that focuses on life more than religion.” I want answers. I don’t want to just think that my son is floating about. With space travel, we now know that the earth is not flat, as what was thought, when the bible was written. Women certainly play a completely different role now than they did in biblical times. Embryology was not even known until the 1700s how a woman’s egg gets fertilized and that during biblical times, she was just property. Men had more than one wife, they had slaves, they were supposedly told by God to go in and kill people. These are just a few of the topics that Bishop Spong addresses.

Prayer is something that he says we need to take a hard look at. How can some prayers be answered while others seem to go unnoticed? Again, critical thinking is something that we need more of. We now have weather radar that can tell us that storms are not part of God sending us signs. We know that space is growing larger and larger with more and more new discoveries. We know that we evolved from a fish. Much of the world was not even know to exist when much of the bible was written. I would highly recommend this book to all christians. I need to point out that Bishop Spong is a believer but calls himself a believer in exile. As an atheist, I respect the christian views to love one another, have respect for all and to care for others who are less fortunate than ourselves, but I think, like Bishop Spong, we need to revisit many of the stories in the bible and add history and realistic science to the stories, putting them into a new perspective to see if they really are words that we want to live by and to understand just how insignificant we really are in the universe. I think that inspiration can come from the beauty in the world around us and from the words that we send and share with each other. I can’t get that inspiration from the Bible and I don’t believe in a supernatural being.  So, below is some of the simple inspirations that I am looking to each day to guide me through my day and to help me resolve my grief.

The 125 cards that we received were all very moving in each of their own ways. The sheer numbers of cards gave us the knowledge that we are loved and are being thought of at this difficult time. In addition to the cards, friends have made us aware that they are there for us, whenever we need them. Some people sent money, not knowing what else to do. That money has been used to put a memorial garden in our yard so we can remember the thoughtfulness of those kind offerings. Being private people, we have accepted some of these invitations and not others. That isn’t to say we don’t appreciate the offers, we just need to deal with small bits of our sadness, sometimes alone.

There is a scholarship fund that is being set up in John’s name through the Shenandoah Community Foundation and when it is complete, I will post about the details so that some other adventurous individual may have the opportunity to experience life fully the way that our son did.

Thank you to each and everyone that has reached out to us.


 

Inside a card from Walter Elliott: Walter was a friend of a friend who went kayaking several years in the early summer with John, Herb and several other guys. I never met him but I feel this really says that he knew John very well.

Herb,

I share in the sadness from John’s death. He seemed to enjoy so much. The simple things that others discard or take for granted. Watching him eat leftover food or recycle it into a delicious snack was a pleasure. He made the task of building and tending a campfire into an expression of art. May your grief be lessened by the gifts he gave us in life.

Thinking of you,

Walter Elliott


A poem that my friend Claudia sent me: Claudia sent me this as a way to start my day.

We rise today with,

The light of sun

The radiants of moon

The splendor of fire

The speed of lightning

The swiftness of wind

The depth of ocean 

The stability of earth and the firmness of rock.


Several folks sent this poem but my friend Abbe Kennedy printed it onto a separate sheet of paper:

I don’t think John is in these things but the poem is lovely and the change that I would make to it is that I think John is now stardust rather than the starlight at night. With his ashes being scattered all over the country, I think that stardust is more fitting to his situation.

Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep

Do not stand at my grave and weep,

I am not there, I do not sleep.

I am a thousand winds that blow. I am the diamond glint on snow.

I am the sunlight on ripened grain.

I am the gentle autumn rain.

When you wake in the morning hush, 

I am the swift, uplifting rush

Of quiet birds in circling flight.

I am the soft starlight at night.

Do not stand at my grave and weep. 

I am not there, I do not sleep. 

Do not stand at my grave and cry.

I am not there, I did not die!


My friend Mona, sent me a card with a wonderful Thomas Merton quote written inside:

The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves,

and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise, we love only the reflection of ourselves

we find in them.     Thomas Merton

Mona also wrote…. what a great thing that John was his own man!


A poem that I found for myself and sent a copy of it to Erin:

After a While

After a while you learn

The subtle difference between

Holding a hand and chaining a soul

And you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning

And company doesn’t always mean security.

And you begin to learn

That kisses aren’t contracts

And presents aren’t promises

And you begin to accept your defeats

With you head up and your eyes ahead

With the grace of a woman

Not the grief of a child.

And you learn

To build all your roads on today

Because tomorrow’s ground is

Too uncertain for plans

And futures have a way

Of falling down in mid flight

After a while you learn

That even sunshine burns if you get too much

So you plant your own garden

And decorate your own soul

Instead of waiting

For someone to bring you flowers

And you learn

That you really can endure

That you are really strong

And you really do have worth

And you learn and you learn

With every good-bye, you learn.

Veronica A. Shoffstall


My Valentine poem from Herb, my wonderful husband:

Valentine for Susie

They’ve got it wrong

It’s not an arrow through the heart,

a fire blazing bright

or even a red, red rose.

Once I thought it was a butterfly’s flight

a chance blessing shared,

Later a puzzle worked and fit seemed right.

But, now I think I know. 

Our love is a quilt, pieced and stitched 

by our life together.

Defying pattern, colors without caution, 

sewn together with thread from our souls.


And finally, something that I have had on my wall for a while that I find inspirational and try to follow it…. I don’t always do this, but can only strive to do these things.

 

The Four Agreements

Be Impeccable with your Word

  • Speak with integrity
  • Say only what you mean
  • Avoid using the Word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others
  • Use the power of your Word in the direction of truth and love

Don’t Take Anything Personally

  • Nothing others do is because of you
  • What others say and do ias a projection of their own reality, their own dream
  • When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering

Don’t Make Assumptions

  • Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want
  • Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama.
  • With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

Always Do Your Best

  • Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick
  • Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.

 

 


 

 

My Apprentice, Kara Bowman

 

Kara

Kara, working on her dad’s Father’s Day gift.

 

For the past several months, I have had a wonderful helper to help with all my fairy garden items. Kara Bowman is 14 and will be a freshman at Strasburg High School this fall. Kara loves history and is an avid Disney fan. She also is a crafter of wonderful duct tape items, wallets, flower pens and tri-fold wallets. She lives with her family in Maurertown, VA and lives on the Shenandoah River. Kara LOVES everything JMU (James Madison University) and hopes to attend school there in 2019 studying as a  physician’s assistant. She just finished a medical camp at Shenandoah Memorial Hospital learning CPR, dissecting a human eyeball, and touring the operating room. You can read more about this camp here. Kara loves getting paid with Dairy Queen blizzards but has been a real asset to helping my fairy garden inventory grow.

In the photo above, Kara is decorating a bowl that we made for her dad for Father’s Day. He is a big Baltimore Orioles fan.


 

I put the above text in my newsletter about Kara but, I want to add a full posting about her in my blog. Kara is a very kind and caring individual and during the past 6 months that I have been dealing with the grief of my son John’s death, she has been a wonderful companion to have and to sit with me in the studio. Kara’s mom, Cathy knew that this would be good for me, and also for Kara, to work with me, as an assistant, of sorts.

Kara is good about doing what I ask of her and is a quick learner and has a good eye for detail. She has really enjoyed doing the butterfly chairs and has looked up wonderful butterflies on her phone to replicate the colors and really enjoyed doing birdbaths. This was her first assignment and was very attentive to the different birds that she could add to the birdbaths. After the birdbaths were done, you could definitely pick out the orioles from the cardinals because she wanted them to look like the real birds.

I have introduced Kara to some new forms of music and movies and she has introduced me to everything Disney…. sometimes a bit too much Disney… but we try to share and enjoy each others tastes.

I would like to personally thank Kara, for being independent enough to be trusted and to know that it is okay to ask for something to eat or drink. I am not sure that she will come away from this experience wanting to pursue a career in ceramics but I hope this has added some depth to her education and the understanding of crafting as a business.

Kara has agreed to help me out with the Empty Bowls this year. I plan on teaching her how to make the frogs so that we can pledge a larger amount of bowls this year. The Alliance for Shelter in Shenandoah County lost a vital piece of their real estate to fire earlier in the Spring and hopefully our bowls that we contribute will help the homeless to have better shelter in the future. Kara has a caring heart and that is an organization that she holds dear so together we will do our part to help others.