photographer. artist. author. singer. songwriter. musician. teacher. student. humanitarian. visionary.

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Let the Good Times Roll

Five years ago, my sister gave me her Honda, thinking it wouldn’t last much longer. I had been praying that very day for a miracle, asking God to help me with a car. That evening, she came over and told me that she wanted to give me her car. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect! So, for five years I’ve been driving it. The water pump crashed and died last year, but all year, I’ve been driving it- overheating every two miles. Talk about trying your patience! It can be super stressful when you feel like you’re in a death trap. 

Thankfully, my Frank O’Bannon award came in a few days ago: $1,800 that doesn’t need repayed. I’m buying a new laptop for school ($70 from Craig’s List- hey, it’s “new” to me!), a new camera (Canon t3i 18 MP body only for $255- brand new- a steal) and a new copy of the Helios 44-2 film lens- imported from the USSR. And, I bought this!

1997 Isuzu Rodeo

my car

It sells for around $3,000-$5,000 used, but I was able to trade in my old car and knock a few hundred down. I gave the car lot guy $1,000 cash and drove it off the lot- I’m ecstatic. It drives smoother than butter and it’s a 5 speed, which I love.

Essentially, I still have 5 days left before the start of my semester, but I like to get an early start, so I’ll be ordering all of my books in the next hour and then loading up my laptop tomorrow: 5 neat folders- each class loaded with its respective syllabus, assignments, contact info & email instructions, and all of the other necessary bits. (You can never be too prepared.) 

My son, “Bob-Brian”, is staying over with his little lady, Mandy Tator Tots, and I’m in the best mood I’ve been in ages. 

Two-headed Monster- taken tonight in parking garage- crappy cell phone pic- Josh & I

us

I had just enough money left over to send a few hundred to my daughter and give $300 to my little brother to help him out.  I think it’s safe to say it’s a very good time in our lives. Five days of freedom left! 

Until we meet again. x

A Little Spark

“You’re only given a little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.” -Robin Wlliams

WarholMOMAMuseum goers at the Warhol exhibit- 2010/Museum of Modern Art(MOMA)/New York City, New York/Canon Rebel XSI-Sigma 17-70

Why Good People Suffer

I’ve recently read a story about a beloved blogger (Rara AKA Rarasaur) who has been the victim of a hate crime. I can’t go completely into her story because I don’t have enough information, but she was accused of embezzling $500,000 from her former employers.

She left their employment to start her own business along with a healthy client list. My suspicion is that her former bosses were afraid that she would be competition in some manner, so they assassinated her character by accusing her of embezzlement, and went a step further by contacting her entire client list, damaging her reputation and corrupting any potential hope of generating clientele.

She and her husband sold all that they had to obtain an lawyer, and she ultimately lost her business. They moved into a tiny hotel and lived on $5 pizzas- hardly the stuff of half a million dollars! For the next few years, Rara fought for her life. In the end, it was useless. Rara was sentenced to 3 years in prison: 18 months for good behavior. (Most prisoners only serve 50% of their sentences if they become model prisoners.) There was never an official investigation into the (alleged) missing half a million dollars. It was all very hush-hush, yet they still managed to ship the case over to the D.A. and she was charged.

I don’t know Rara personally and have only ever left one comment on her blog, but her pictures of herself reflect a woman who radiates love. She’s been known to raise boatloads of money for other people and is an activist in the blogging community, as well as a poetess and huge supporter of organizations she believes in.

Everything in me says that she is innocent. The reason this story is so close to my heart is because I too was falsely accused of something I didn’t do many years ago. My entire family was ripped apart and we were all punished relentlessly, year after year. I wasn’t allowed to speak in court, ever, and so after years of being thrown about in a vicious and abrasive system, I fired my attorney just to be able to speak out in court, finally. I slammed my hands down on the table and demanded that my kids return home. They had taken everything else from me, but I wasn’t going to let them take my voice.

It was the right thing to do. The case took a necessary turn and I was spared going to prison on trumped up false charges. The case drug on for 13 years or so. I was pulled apart at the seams and tested beyond anything I’ve ever experienced. I went through absolute hell but I never gave up. Year after year, the battering continued, but I never gave up. I learned just how weak I was in the face of such a crushing device as our government- but I also learned how strong I was.

So many innocent people are sentenced to prison every day. It’s a horrific circle of injustice: the accusers, lawyers, and everybody involved knows that poor people cannot defend themselves properly, therefore, they offer a plea agreement (which is seldom in favour of the defendant) and most times, the defendant ends up taking the prison sentence because they’re out of resources and too exhausted to continue fighting.

I have my own theory as to why evil things happen to good people. I deal with many (many) people on a daily basis who have suffered abuse, trauma, etc. and who carry deep scars and even deeper resentment. I’ve spoken (typed) with literally thousands of people over the past decade, sharing my own personal story of tragedy and triumph. Why do horrible things happen to people like us, who just want to do good in this world and live our lives?

Why?

And every time, I think of Joseph (from the Bible). His is a true story. Joseph’s siblings hated him so much because his parent favoured him over them. Jospeh had had dreams of his brothers bowing down to him: it infuriated them! Josheph’s father, Jacob, had given Joseph as special coat made from various colours. When his brothers saw it, their envy was so intense that they wanted to kill him. So one day, they thought of a scheme that involved killing their brother, and smearing animal’s blood on his precious coat. They would take the bloody coat to their father and tell him that Joseph had been murdered by an animal, and that’s just what they did. They wanted to defile the very thing that represented their Dad’s love for Joseph.

So, they threw Joseph into a deep pit, ripping his coat from him. They devised ways that they might kill him. Only one of his brothers, Reuben, loved him. He stood up for Joseph and suggested that they sell him instead and get some money. He appealed to their greed to save his brother’s life, and it worked.

Joseph was sold to some travelers on their way to Egypt. He landed in a rich man’s house named Potiphar. Potiphar’s wife desired Joseph and tried to seduce him on a number of occasions, but Joseph was all about doing the right thing. He was thrown into prison for telling the truth. He had done nothing wrong.

While in prison, Joseph suffered much hunger and beatings; diseases and all sorts of evil things. All the while, God had been preparing Joseph’s heart for great things! But look what he had to go through to get them.

Fast forward many years. Joseph had grown into a man and had been incarcerated for many years in dark, diseased dungeons. One day, the king of the land had troubling dreams and only Joseph could interpret them. He told the king that there would be a great famine in Egypt- the king himself had dreamed about it!

In the end, Joseph was made chief in command (second only to the king) and saved all of Egypt, and ultimately his very brothers who tried to kill him. And in the end, they indeed did have to bow down to their brother, just as his dream had predicted.

When you observe Joseph’s life in bits and pieces, it seems so unfair that he had to suffer the way he did. But God just wanted to “give him a new coat”. The bigger picture is a beautiful one.

Joseph’s story is not so different than my own.

In all that happened to me, God simply wanted to give me a new coat. :) That coat is very expensive. It looks like old goat skin that is weathered and worn, shredded here and there and barely held together after years of being ripped apart, but it’s laced with diamonds- the most durable stuff in the world.

The most important thing to remember, when you’re in the fire and feel as if you’re going to be burned to a crisp- is that the heat is God’s love. It hurts like hell, sure it does, and it feels like hell. But His intention is not to kill you. It’s in that fire that all of the impurities are burned away, and in the end, you’ll come out shinier than gold and you’ll have the goods that it takes to help other people who are still in the fire.

So Rara, if you ever read this some day, I have no doubt that you’re going to come through this thing a winner. Think about all of the lives you will touch that can only be reached by becoming the sacrifice, as you have done.

There’s a great need for genuine love in prison. I have no doubt that you’ll touch many lives. God needed to send the right woman for the job, and I believe He did.

Shine on, Rara. xo

ForRara

Fall Schedule

SummerFALLHelios film lens 44-2/Canon Rebel f/8/manual- taken on back deck- 8.4.14

I’ve officially made the switch from Vincennes University over to Indiana University East. My admissions counselour, Cherie, helped me register for my classes, which are:

1) Research Methods for Experimental Psychology
2) Cross Cultural Communications
3) Statistical Techniques (post-pre Calculus math course)
4) Everyday Psychology
5) Ethics

That’s a healthy 15 credit hour schedule- no small potatoes. (The most I’ve ever taken in one semester were 21 credit hours- 6 classes- and apart from one class, received 5 A’s, so I think I can swing this.)

As much as I’d love to stay at VU and explore CSI/Forensics and as much as I’d love to entertain the possibility of a future in DNA & Serology, my calling is clearly in the area of working with people on the street at the street level. Sure, a cushy office (with AC in the summer) would be great and everything- degrees hanging on the wall- but I’m driven by my desire to work with people who are drug addicts, homeless, troubled, hopeless- society’s throwaways, and those who suffer from a myriad of emotional/psychological disorders. That much I know.

A few years ago, I dropped out of school entirely, due to severe migraines that plagued me weekly. My Pastor encouraged me to return to school- if at all possible- which I was miraculously able to do. At the time, I owed the school more than $1,000, due to having to drop out. In short, I was screwed. But I was so encouraged by her letter, I called the school and asked if anything could be done to help me. I faxed in a few medical documents, proving that I’d had physical complications and the school wiped out the entire debt. (This is why I say that my return was nothing short of a miracle. This just doesn’t happen in the academic world!) She (my Pastor) suggested that I get out of Business Administration and explore other areas that would better utilize my talents, such as working with others. Had it not been for her urging, I would have never returned, so that’s always in the back of my mind. I push on for others and not just myself.

School begins in approximately 3 weeks and I couldn’t be more excited! I’m hoping to take a year off to work on my music, but I’m not sure if that will be before or after I receive my bachelor’s in Psychology.

In the meantime, I’m going to keep myself occupied by surprising my Mom’s friend with a photo book that I’m calling “Whispers from the Garden”. Her friend’s husband passed away several years ago and they shared an amazing garden behind their house. I shot some pics there last winter and will be compiling the book from my collection of pics taken of their winter garden.

Supper calls! Until next time.

Birdhouse from the garden

Birdhouse

“This is Dad, Calling from Heaven.”

 

Dadjpg

I had a strange dream the other night. My Dad called me on the phone. It sounded distant, understandably so- he passed on to Heaven a number of years ago.

“Birg,” he said. “This is Dad…calling from Heaven.”

I was shocked when I awoke. I thought it was utterly cool that he would call me from the Great Divide. :) The Bible makes mention of a banister of Witnesses leaning over Heaven. God gives these particular Saints permission to cross over from time to time to witness to us that are still here. My Dad told me that himself, many years ago.

“Come on! You can make it!” They say, to encourage us.

I dream of my Dad all of the time. He comes to me many times per year, ministering to me, sharing Scriptures and such- we still have a great time, and, truth be told, you can call them “dreams”, but they’re more than that.

I had such a dream a few months ago. Me and my (extended) family were all standing on a high mountain. All of us. My Dad was at the very top and he was turned around, looking back over his shoulder. He looked like a lumberjack and was about 25 years younger. He wore a big smile on his face and was waving his hand to follow him. I knew what the dream meant, for he taught me to interpret dreams many years ago.

It was Christmas day when they took my Dad off of life support. The doctors wanted to see if he would make it through for the next few days without it. Naturally, everybody was gathered together for Christmas festivities, but I stayed at the hospital all day with him. I couldn’t bear for him to be alone on that day. We had a great time, given the circumstances. I’d already been told that he’d been muttering things incoherently because of the medication and such. But no such thing happened on that day.

Instead, he shared two Scriptures with me from the KJV and was as clear as a bell doing so. One of those verses was Titus 1:2-

Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after Godliness;

In hope of eternal life, which God, THAT CANNOT LIE, promised before the world began;

And he went on to share with me the comfort in knowing that God cannot lie, does not lie, and will not lie. He took great comfort in the fact that God keeps all of His promises and will absolutely save us. He could accept that he felt like “the chief of sinners” much of the time, but God would ultimately keep His word and deliver him. And so it was.

I didn’t know how much time I had left with him that day. We were best friends at the end, and had been for years. We’d been through so much hell together! But such GREAT forgiveness. And, the Word does say that with much forgiveness is much love. Those who forgive the most, love the most: he surely taught me that.

I hugged him then, and fell on his neck and told him that it was a total privilege to be his daughter on this side of Heaven.

“I’ll see you up there, Dad. Save me a seat.”

And there was nothing more to say.

I thought that there would be a big gap after he died. But really, we’re still very close and “death” only stands as a doorway that he crossed through into LIFE. Even so, I’m glad he takes time out of his busy schedule “up there” to still give me a call. :0)

Imports_vyml4ed7b9_detail

Water, Water, Everywhere

Josh, taking a pic of me at the Louisville water park. Helios film lens 44-2JoshWaterparkcell

“Do you know how beautiful you are?” I ask him.
Joshwaterpark

“I feel beautiful,” he says.

Jpaterpark

Red Yeti Brewing Company: The Review

RYLogomj

256 Spring Street/Jeffersonville, Indiana/47130

Josh told me about a new place in town called the Red Yeti Brewing Company. What’s this? A real craft brewing company with farm to fork food? In Jeffersonville, Indiana? I had to know more so we popped in today for a quick bite and a cold stout.

First, a bit of history. Our region is as old as the hills and seldom is there a new shop (or store) open that offers farm to fresh anything. Sauces come in large cans and you’re lucky to get fresh homemade pasta anywhere. Our city is dusty, old, historic, and not much happens in the way of culinary surprises.

So it was a nice fresh surprise upon first arriving: a small quaint crowd gathered ’round the bar, and the smell of fresh food was immediate. We were greeted by our server, Ashley, who was super friendly (but not overbearing) and besides serving us, she filled us in on the local food scene- what came from where- and also obliged to tell us what our food was made of.

Ashley

Ashley

I’d like an Ashley in every restaurant. I was dying to know what was in our smoked brisket, besides their homemade BBQ sauce (yes, homemade), smoked cheeseand bacon jam. There was a distinct sweetness there that I couldn’t quite pick out.

BrisketMJ

“Blueberries,” Ashley revealed. “We don’t have a freezer or a microwave. All of our food is market fresh from the local region.”

Ashley, we love you. (Don’t worry Jack. We love you too!)

Our home cut fries were served with a fresh covering of grated parmesan with a side of garlic ranch aioli. The food was absolutely fantastic and so very fresh. Although they spoke of making their own brew soon, for now, they’re importing a variety of exotic sounding (and tasting) beers. Take for instance, the Brooklyn Chocolate Stout:

BrookylynChocStoutMJ

It’s absolutely out of this world with notes of deep chocolate. It’s richer, deeper, and full of way more flavor than a traditional stout. Heaven in a glass.

The colour scheme was rather masculine, which I very much like: red and black throughout surrounded by brick walls. Large pieces of machinery peppered the decor giving it an interesting industrial tinge that I very much dug:

Light fixture

RedYetiLamp

 

Dining Room

RedYetiIIjpg

One thing that I really appreciate about this place is that the menu is small and uncluttered. If I’ve learned anything from Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, it’s that most failing businesses clutter their menus with unnecessary items that they’ll never cook. Everything on the menu is (again) fresh, and made by a professional chef as well as a sous chef, and it definitely shows.

As Ashley stated, “I’m proud to be part of this establishment. We all work really hard to bring the best that we can and do what we can to make it what it is.”

She went on to describe many of her work days, which include arriving early to sort out the fresh kale and other farm fresh vegetables. I’m used to eateries such as this on Bardstown Rd. in Louisville, Kentucky, but it’s a total delight to find such a gem right around the corner here in Jeffersonville.

My guy before the Brooklyn Chocolate Stout:

Josh 1

And after:

Josh says I Love You

“Do you know what I love about you?” He asks.

“What?” I ask in return, eyeballing my stout.

Everything.”

We’ll definitely be coming back to the Red Yeti Brewing Company. :)

RedYeti

Success is the Best Revenge

And when they’re laying their traps, waiting for you to fall- look ‘em dead in the eyes and smile. It will kill them- because they don’t know how to love.

Kiss my Ass

It’s a Monumental Dream…but I’m a Monumental Dreamer

I want to be a forensic psychiatrist. I’m pretty sure I’m destined to become one. “What does a forensic psychiatrist do?” you might ask. Think: Clarice Starling.

[Insert creepy music and Hannibal Lecter's "fava bean lip quake"]

Forensic psychologists do minor interviews and assessments with people who are in incarcerated, jail mostly, gathering information for criminal lawyers or law enforcement. They might give the detainee a few psychological assessments to gauge whether or not he or she is competent to stand trial, or, if they’re eligible to plead guilty by reason of insanity- which is usually the offender’s last ditch effort at getting out of prison.

But a forensic psychiatrist, on the other hand, sometimes administers the polygraph (and interprets it) and also spends his or her time at places like Leavenworth or Sing Sing, hanging out with the big boys (like Hannibal Lecter). The main difference between a forensic psychologist and a forensic psychiatrist is that the forensic psychologist obtains either a PhD (academic/research-based) or a PsyD (clinical/experience-based) while the forensic psychiatrist will receive the M.D. as he or she will have gone to medical school rather than just “college”. Also, a forensic psychiatrist is able to prescribe medications- a forensic psychologist is not.

I would quite literally need to go to med school for 4 years if I want to entertain the idea of becoming a forensic psychiatrist (and that’s after getting my B.S. in psychology.) And you can’t even get into med school until you’ve finished all of your prerequisites, which include: one semester of Biochemistry, one full year of General Chemistry w/ labs, one full year of Organic Chemistry w/ labs, one full year of Physics w/ labs, and one full year of Biology w/ labs and again, these are just the prereqs!

I think I might give it a shot. If I utterly fail, I can always go with the alternative: forensic psychology. School begins in 6 weeks and I cannot wait.

Still, I’m enjoying my vacation (finally!) and am allowing myself some much needed down time (without feeling guilty). The new toys help. :)

Bistro set for the back deck

1MJ

  Rope Hammock for lazy summer reading
2MJ

 

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