Feb 19, 2017


The sunsets have been incredible this past week. Last night while driving to see a couple of friends who live in the country, I noticed how beautiful the barren trees looked against the glowing sky. 

The temperatures have been fluctuating from high to low all winter. Last night it was warm enough for a bonfire. We huddled around the fire with our blankets wrapped around us and chatted away. The brightness of the stars that hung in the heavens shown down upon us. Our gaze went upwards in amazement at the beauty of it all.  

Not all beauty is lost in winter.  Sometimes we have to look a little harder for it or maybe not. 

Jan 29, 2017

Lion: A Review

I went to see Lion at the theater a couple of weeks ago.  I was deeply moved by this lost and found tale of an Indian boy.  Within minutes of the beginning of the story I was in tears. 

Poverty was a stark reality for Saroo and Gaddu. Their father left them and the mother tried to make a living by moving rocks. In hopes of helping their mother they went to look for things they could sell or coins that fell to the ground by the passengers on the train. Saroo was only five years old, and was not able to stay awake while they looked around the train station. Gaddu left Saroo on a bench to sleep, promising to come back. Saroo woke during the night and his brother never came back. Saroo looked everywhere for his brother but wasn't able to locate him. Saroo searched a train that was stopped at the station and he fell asleep on one of the seats. The train began to move and it took Saroo on a long trip across the country. 

He ended up living on the streets of Calcutta for three weeks and then was adopted by an Australian couple. He didn't know his last name or the city he lived in. The authorities began a search for Saroo's family but nothing came of it. Saroo lived in Australia for 25 years but always longed for his family. Then his search began.  Google Earth was his vice to find his family. 

The film is based on a true story which makes it more compelling to watch.  Dev Patel does an excellent job portraying Saroo Brierley. 

Jan 22, 2017

Photography Exhibition

Friday evening was the opening for the IPFW Professional Photography Graduate Exhibit at the Garrett Museum of Art. The place was packed from 6-8 pm with barely enough room to move around.  We filled the museum with our fine art photographs that we compiled throughout the year. 

I think that I worked harder for this certificate than I did my degree or maybe I wanted it more.  The experience of this exhibit made me feel like a celebrity for a couple of hours. But more than this, the support from friends and co-workers was overwhelming. I talked of nothing but the exhibit for months and I am sure that they were sick of hearing about it.

During the evening, I thought about my parents, especially my mother. She would have been so proud.  

Jan 3, 2017

Cloning and having a soul

I just finished reading the book Never let me go by Kazuo Ishiguro.  I've never been one of those who reads all of the most popular books that are out currently.  Sometimes it takes me years to get to some of those books if at all. I found this by chance while looking for something to watch on YouTube. I watched a snippet and decided that this would be interesting to watch.  Then I went to my local resale shop and found both the book and the DVD. 

When the first sheep was cloned back in 1996 and Dolly arrived on the world's platform, I was amazed. Somehow, I felt that maybe we trying to fill God's shoes in the creating department or on the verge of it anyway.  Then I began to wonder if the sheep had a soul or if any being that was created in the lab had a soul. Does it or doesn't it? Isn't there something magical that happens at conception? 

The story centers around three characters, Kathy, the story teller, Tommy, and Ruth. Kathy narrates this sordid tale about their secluded existence in a place called Hailsham. The children were treated very well at this home for clones, unlike some of the other centers around the country we hear about in the story. All of the children are the same age, which piqued my interest more deeply as I read. It is hinted to them what their short lives will consist of but it is never out in plain sight. They are lied to, tricked, and manipulated so that they will be resigned to the fate for which they were created. 

They were encouraged to be creative and if they became good enough their "art" was taken to Madam's gallery.  Everyone aspired to have their work at the gallery even though they would never get to see it on display. If a student doesn't do well creatively they are made fun of by the other students. Why did they have such an intense focus on being creative?  Hint: It has to do with the soul. 

If you never read another book then this one should be your last. I was enthralled by this novel and how it played out.  Throughout the story I kept asking myself what I would do if I were in that situation.  The author kept my mind twisting and turning the whole time, not wanting to look at the horror of their lives, but peeking nonetheless. 

Dec 27, 2016

Photography Exhibit

After a lot of hard work, I am pleased to announce that I will have a few photographs on display along with fellow classmates at The Museum of Art in Garrett beginning January 20, 2017.  Please come out and join us in celebrating our achievements! (my picture is on the bottom left)

Dec 11, 2016

Finding your Kin

It seems like I always get the genealogy bug around this time of year.  Maybe it is because we are held prisoners inside and want badly to be doing something worthwhile.  Summer is always busy running here and there, especially with my photography work and a full time job that requires chronic overtime. But in the back of my mind genealogy was always lurking in the shadows. 

Yesterday, I finished a book called Finding Family, My Search for Roots and the Secrets in my DNA by Richard Hill.  The book is about a search that lasted over 20 years for an adopted man who wanted to find his birth parents. From the moment that I started reading this memoir I had a hard time putting it down. 

The "secret" leaked out during a visit to a new doctor in 1964 for this recent high school graduate.  For years the family physician kept the secret about Richard Hill's adoption, but when the doctor retired, the new physician wasn't given any instructions regarding Richards adoption. Richard was clueless. He left the doctor's office in a daze. Maybe it was fate that Richard found out when he did.

I would have been as shocked as he was. (My family has a secret too!) But truth has a tongue and it speaks if we are only brave enough to listen.  Richard's quest for truth began. He traveled far and wide to try to put together the missing pieces of his family tree. 

If you are interested in using DNA as one of your search tools, like me, then I suggest that you read this book. The author took several DNA tests until he found his missing parents. The truth is in the DNA. 

"And many of us will not know peace until we know all the pieces."

Richard Hill

Nov 27, 2016

All that is expected of her life...

"All that is expected of her life is to be a wife and a mother," he said to me smugly.  I tried to defend her but the battle was already lost. The girl was taken out of school at the tender age of 13 to train to be a wife and mother. Her meager existence was planned. Dreams of being more than her chosen lot in life were floating into the air like a balloon, to never return. Education was the first area of girl's life to be chained and there is no key to unlock it. This is only the beginning. I felt rage like I've never felt before. Injustice. Narrow mindedness. Power. All enforced at her expense...And yet, we sit and watch as this tragedy unfolds.  Where is the hero to save her? The hero is within, but will have to come at a price. 

Nov 19, 2016

Allegiance to the Flag

From Youth's Campaign 1892
Whenever we would say the  pledge allegiance to the flag in elementary school we placed our right hand over our chest. I remember doing this when we lived in the south, but not up north. However, it was not too far in the distant past that the salute was different.  In 1942, the Hitler regime began using the same salute that we did for years prior to WWII.  It is called the Bellamy Salute.

Francis Bellamy, a Baptist minister, wrote the original "Pledge of Allegiance." Until 1892, there never was a Pledge of Allegiance. Daniel Sharp Ford, owner of the magazine "Youth's Companion" was on a mission to have a flag placed in every school in the States.  He asked Bellamy to write the pledge and it was published in the magazine.  It caught on like a wild fire and before you know it the pledge was being recited daily by children across the country. Not only was the Pledge of Allegiance being said at school but in other venues as well such as: public gatherings, campgrounds, and even congress.

So, what does one do with their hands while reciting this allegiance to the flag? You cannot let your hands dangle, they must have a part in this. It was decided that the participants hold up their right arm and it extend it towards the flag.  It looks rather odd to those of us who have never done this. 

By the 1930's when news reels came from Europe and "Heil Hitler" was being said with the same salute the stance fell out of favor with the American public. It was decided then to change the way we saluted our flag and we then began placing our right hand over our heart.  Isn't that where our hand should have been all along?  

Nov 13, 2016


Many of life's failures are people who did not realize 
how close they were to success when they gave up. 

                     Thomas Edison

Oct 23, 2016

Create your own luck

Reflection in a puddle
This is Your Life. Claim it. Find your Passion and live it. Corporate life is not an end all to the work experience. Life is more than paycheck to paycheck.  Seek success by your own definition. If you love art, music, or writing, then go for it. Don’t wait until you are near retirement to fulfill your dreams. Explore this planet on which we live.  You will be surprised by the many wonders that are out there. Make a list of what you want to do, see, or feel and plan to accomplish as many as possible before your journey in this life is over.  Love deepCry sometimes. Get up and start again. Stretch your mind beyond the boundaries of culture and religion.  Someone’s opinion of you is just that, don’t let it define or defeat you. Dream big. Create. Everything you do begets something else. Inspire others to do the same. Create your own luck.

Jeannie Smith