Saturday, November 30, 2013

“A Change is as good as a rest,” or so they say

"Arabesque" oil on canvas
Sometimes we don’t realize the traps we set for ourselves on a daily basis. We get caught up in minutiae, and use every excuse in the book to stay put; feet firmly planted in the ruts we’ve dug. Let’s face it; the chores at home never end. Soon they begin to grind and irritate us. Not a good prescription for progress or creativity!

Thanksgiving Day I left the confines of home with my husband heading north toward other family members in the area. As was our tradition, we made Thanksgiving reservations at a restaurant located mid-point between our two separate locations.

A morning chill turned temperate, and the warmth of the sun made our road trip bright and pleasant. Our once Northern blood has thinned from years of living in Southern climes, and we were wrapped in sweaters dressed for any outcome unable to tolerate even the slightest drop in temperature.

"Pelican at Rest" oil on canvas
I realized too late that I’d forgotten the camera. When we drove over our first bridge across the inland portion of the Caloosahatchee River I remembered. There’s nothing like an expanse of tropical blue water against brilliant green trees and variegated grasses to make you regret being unable to capture a photo memory.

When we got closer to our destination, I was even more dismayed. The Gulf waters were blue-green and crystal clear near the shoreline. We crossed two bridges to reach our destination of St. Armand’s Circle on the ocean side of Sarasota. Seagulls fluttered overhead and pelicans dive-bombed for fish. On the underside of the bridges where palm trees, sandy beaches and lounge chairs beckoned, fishermen cast their baited lines into the water.

"Seashells by the Seashore" acrylic on canvas
Our reservation was at the Columbia Restaurant, a famous old chain popular for Cuban food. Our traditional dinner had a distinctive Cuban flair, it was both exotic and delicious. The stuffing was the best I have ever eaten and the gravy was exceptional! Not only were the mashed potatoes fluffy and white, they were tasty. A sweet potato dish was topped with sugary, buttered pecans. I longed for more, but my aching stomach kept me from asking for seconds.

When dinner was over, I had a pumpkin flan instead of the traditional pumpkin pie. The rest of my family had a generous wedge of scrumptious key lime. Unlike its cousins, this key lime was made from scratch using fresh limes. It was heavy, tart, and succulent. “So this is how a key lime pie is supposed to taste?” I thought to myself.

"St. Armand's Beach" taken two years ago
As we moaned and groaned and loosened our belts, I couldn’t help but miss the faces that weren’t there; the ones of my own family members, especially my children who reside in the distant corners of the United States. I hoped they’d had a lovely time with their families. Time and distance has taken a toll on our closeness as has the divorce that first tore us apart. 

I know many of you are in the same boat. We can only make the best of what happens to us and move on. If nothing else, my excursion on the road with its breathtaking views, and photo-ready snapshots gave me a much needed journey out of myself and into this wondrous world we live in!
"Canals at St. Armand's" taken two years ago

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A Lengthy Thanksgiving Day Diatribe

"Americana" acrylic on canvas
Tags for living would be Fantastic!
My daughter, Holly, mailed me her favorite book. Inside was a colorful gift tag splattered with flowers; and on the reverse side, a handwritten note telling me how much she loved me, and that she hoped I would enjoy reading the book. The tag became my bookmark as I turned page after page, thinking of her.

As much as I enjoyed reading the book, it was the tag that intrigued me. Time and again, I returned to her note and the shiny painted flowers on the back. My mind churned. What was there about this tag that called out to me? Thoughts bubbled to the surface.

Our lives are controlled by tags, or at least influenced by them. Tags are everywhere:
·         Tags for luggage, tags for identification, price tags, tags for washing instructions, tags for sizes, tags on foodstuffs, gift tags, sales tags, dog tags, gurney tags, toe tags, healthcare tags, tags for gardening, tags for equipment, fertilizer tags, warning tags and status tags for every substance, action, and product in the world.

"Newborn" Pastel on Bristol
Wouldn't it be great, if there were tags for how to live your life? Tags for newborns might read:
·         "Fragile -- handle with care," or "feisty when wet, change often." Or how about "stubborn and willful -- requires coaxing," or "prone to temper tantrums -- distract if possible."

Tags for teenagers might suggest:
·         "Prickles when angry -- hug anyway," or "count to ten and listen, really listen," or "sasses back when cornered -- don't argue, just walk away."

Newlywed tags might stave off marital grief:
·         "Requires lots of attention -- likes to be pampered" or "sleeps soundly -- wake up gently" or "thinks taking out the garbage is a man's job -- just do it," or  "listen closely --  it might be a test."

As I pursued this line of thinking, I realized we already have tags for living, and they cover every facet of human life. Of course, I'm referring to the Bible, but most particularly to the book of Proverbs.

"An Open Book" mixed-media on canvas
There are mini-instructions for raising children, being a good spouse, a good neighbor, a hard worker, a faithful follower. Here are some familiar ones:
·         "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it." (Prov. 22:6 NIV)
·         "He who spares the rod (correction) hates his son (or daughter), but she who loves her children is careful to discipline them." (Prov. 13:24 NIV)
·         "Discipline your child, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to his death." (Prov. 19:18 NIV)

Remember the newlywed tags I proposed? Try this proverbial advice:
·         "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a hard word stirs up anger." (Prov. 15:1 NIV) Good advice for an argument over how to squeeze the toothpaste or hang the toilet paper.
How about this marital gem:
·         "A patient man (or woman) has great understanding, but a quick-tempered person displays folly." (Prov. 14:29 NIV)
Quarrels over sex and money are the main reasons many couples get divorced. The antidote?
·         "He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from a calamity." (Prov. 21:23 NIV)
Add the turmoil of alcoholism to the mix, and you triple the trouble.
·         "Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise." (Prov. 20:1 NIV)

Unfortunately, knowing what is "unwise" seldom keeps us out of trouble. It may remind us, however, that constant vigilance through prayer and self-control can help us to overcome a problem, or better yet, avoid one.

"First Daffodil" acrylic on canvas
Proverbs has countless tags for being a good neighbor:
·         "A person who lacks judgment derides his neighbor, but a man of understanding holds his tongue.
·         "A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret." (Prov. 11:13 NIV) 
·         "Seldom set foot in your neighbor's house; too much of you, and he will hate you." (Prov, 25:17 NIV)

And what about all those frivolous law suits?
·         "Do not testify against your neighbor without cause or use your lips to deceive. Do not say, I'll do him as he has done to me; I'll pay that man back for what he did." (Prov. 24:28 NIV) This tag is a variation on the message Jesus gave to treat others the way we would want to be treated.

There's even a tag to help us avoid financial disaster as we try to "keep up with the Jones's:"
·         "A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones." (Prov. 14:30 NIV)

Last but by no means least, there are instructions about government leaders; those politicians who hold our lives in their hands:
·         "A malicious man disguises himself with his lips, but in his heart he harbors deceit. Though his speech is charming, do not believe him, for seven abominations fill his heart. His malice may be concealed by deception, but his wickedness will be exposed in the assembly." (Prov. 26:24-26 NIV)

We can only hope that the "assembly," the press and the people will do their job and expose the hypocrisy of each and every politician.

"Sand Crane Dreams" mixed-media on canvas
Some people say: "God doesn't talk to us today. He turns a blind eye to disaster and allows good men and women to suffer.  If there really were a God, wouldn't he protect us and keep us safe? Why is he so silent?  Why doesn't he tell us what to do?"

Hello?  All you have to do is pick up the book -- "The Book!" Read the words of God. Turn the pages. Follow the tags or mini-instructions God has already given. Apply the information. As Sherlock Holmes once quipped: "It's elementary, my dear Watson." 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Darkness is the absence of light; in contrast, light brings a painting to life!

Here the body of Christ forms a cross; the light creates contrast between the earthly and the heavenly realms.
A recent study of adults and children worldwide showed that what they fear most is darkness. This seems to be an inborn fear. For Christians this makes sense since they believe the light of Christ is given to every person who is born. Believers hunger and thirst for light in much the same way that all living things reach for the light.

A seedling pushes through the dark earth in search of the life-giving light of the sun that will nourish it and feed it as it grows. Even the lowest of animal forms seek out light for warmth. On any given morning in Florida, my sidewalk may be filled with lizards that crawl out of their dark havens to warm themselves in the light.

Snakes slither from their dark holes in much the same way. They become intoxicated and lethargic as they drink in the warmth of the sun seemingly blinded by the brightness. You can walk by them and they barely notice
Darkness is the absence of light. Since children fear what they cannot see, darkness allows their imaginations to run wild. Maurice Sendak illustrates this best in his children’s book: “Where the Wild Things Are” Sendak has taken what we all fear (the darkness) and allowed his character Morris to conquer his fears and put them to rest.

Darkness provides a contrast that makes the value of light seem brighter and whiter. This play of light and shadow is what makes a painting interesting.

Darkness is often used as a reference to evil, and good is portrayed as light. Darkness can also be seductive and intriguing. It is more difficult to ignore sin and temptation in the darkness. We are deceived into thinking that darkness somehow hides or “covers” our sin. Light reveals and exposes truth and evil. No wonder we run from the light when we feel guilty or “bad.” No wonder people, especially children, fear darkness because it leads us into the unknown and may cause us to do bad things.

How artists handle the forces of good and evil, of dark and light sometimes reveals their own belief system.

Painted in 1611, Massacre of the Innocents is Rubens' interpretation of Herod's order to kill every young male in Bethlehem, as recounted in the Gospel of Matthew. Featuring nude men ripping babies out of the arms of their mothers and then murdering the children in front of them, the painting is certainly not for the squeamish.

The darkness of the background makes the foreground flowers seem even brighter.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Tired of being practical, plain and passive? Want to shake things up?

This illustration became a poster when I saw the funny side!

Are you a conformist or a rebel? Do you like to “fit in” or "shake things up?” Your personality type will determine the answer. Your individual style affects what kind of situations you end up in and the choices you make. Your distinct approach to life and how you see the world are a direct result of your personality.

Watch a few children play together and you’ll soon see their personalities emerge. One may be aggressive and controlling, while another assumes the role of peacemaker. One child may sit passively watching events unfold before his eyes without engaging while another seems oblivious to the chaos around him.

Next in my "Neptunes" Series "Octoband" 1st drawing on panel
Watch that last child as he or she lives in his own world conjuring up stories and situations in his mind and playing them out verbally or in imaginary play. This personality may become a writer, an artist, a philosopher or a scientist. His or her ability to detach and separate and his courage to stand apart becomes the skill set needed for dreams and discoveries.

I’ve always adored children’s games of pretend. In an instant they can become a pirate, a princess, a spy or a soldier. A child’s thoughts can transport him to different planets, faraway lands, or make-believe places. Depending on personality type, a child can become a conquering hero or a benevolent guardian; a powerful sorcerer or a humble apprentice. Children literally become what they can imagine.

Work in Progress: I put some acrylic washes down to suggest color and form
Adults should pay attention to this skill and learn to tap into their inner child. I’m not talking about maturity versus immaturity. I’m talking about the essence of childhood which is innocence. Seeing things with fresh new eyes each day and marveling at the wonder and beauty that surrounds us.

Adults get so caught up in their adult responsibilities and activities that they become rooted to the mundane and predictable. Think outside the box. Pursue your dreams with a fresh unleashed approach. Instead of being passive, plain, and predictable – shake things up! 

Try unwinding by doing the same boring things in a different way. Find a new route to work. Enjoy the scenery for a change. Don’t work through lunch! Read a good book instead or listen to some music. Get off by yourself, if possible, away from the jangling of interruptions and small talk. See yourself as capable and in control. Savor the moment!

"Flamenco Flamingo" a playful drawing created as I mused on how a
flamingo is built and how they move.

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Quiet Strength Among us: People who Face Trials with Courage and a Smile

"The Dregs of Winter" original drawing; prints available
They are all around us. You won’t read about them in the newspaper; unless, of course, they serve somebody else’s personal or political agenda. You won’t hear them complaining or whining for attention, either. They go about their business quietly without fanfare.

They are you and me. They are our neighbors, relatives and friends. They are heroes and role models. They are silent lambs who suffer courageously regardless of what life throws at them. Most do not deserve their fate, “for the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither bread to the wise, nor riches to men of understanding, nor favor to men of skill; but time and chance happens to them all.” (ECC 9:11 KJV)

Life on earth is a challenge. Our bodies may become diseased. We may suffer accident or illness. We may be maimed, disabled, or made infirm. If it’s any comfort, we are not singled out by life or by God, but as Ecclesiastes states: “time and chance happens to us all.” The crux of the matter is: What will be our response?

"A Joyful Heart" original pastel drawing
A video presentation on features a courageous man named Charlie Parker who was born without arms. His remarkable parents decided from the get-go that they would encourage Charlie and instill in him the belief that he could do whatever he set his mind to. Charlie’s father said: “We wanted his childhood to be as close to any other child’s as possible.”

As a result, Charlie learned how to ride a tricycle, a bicycle, and later a car. He graduated from high school, from college, and he did all of these things by learning to do things his way. Without arms, he used his feet to steer and his mouth and the space between his cheek and shoulder to manipulate the controls. His first automobile at age 16 was an Impala. He helped adjust the controls to meet his needs.

“Every step of the way in life there have been people who said that I can't do things,” said Charlie: “Said that I couldn't ride a bicycle; Said that I couldn't live on my own. Couldn't get a good job and support myself or I couldn't go to college and graduate. I don't listen too much to people when they tell me I can't do something.”

"With these Hands -- Hope" 16 x 20 mixed media on canvas
Today Charlie is an engineer at Hendrick Motorsports, a top tier NASCAR race car design firm. He designs and modifies racing cars for optimum performance. He uses his feet on the keyboard of a computer. He has worked at Hendrick for the past eight years. 

Charlie does not allow his disability to hold him back or stop him from living a full and productive life. No whiner here, he never has and never will allow self-pity or the jeers of others to deter him from doing what he wants to do. The family’s faith and their trust in and belief in God provided Charlie with a strong foundation that helped him weather the storms of life.

God is not some cosmic puppeteer, pulling our strings and causing bad things to happen to us either as punishment for our misdeeds, or because he doesn’t care or really isn’t there (the world’s thinking in a nutshell). 

Time and chance happens to us all. Life is unpredictable. If we ask him, God will comfort us, strengthen us, and help us as we go through this turbulent landscape (and sometimes even when we don’t ask). God neither manipulates nor alters the choices that we or other human beings make. How else could justice prevail and mercy reign? If we were only puppets in a great cosmic game, how could we be held accountable for the harm we cause to others? 

We cannot choose what happens to us in life. We can only choose what our response will be. Faith is letting go of doubts and fears by laying our burdens down at the feet of God. The Newscaster, Robin Robinson said it best: “When fear comes knocking, let faith open the door.”

"India Rising -- the Found" mixed media on canvas

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

If You’re not having Fun – Re-evaluate your Priorities

"The Neptunes -- Trumpeteers" acrylic on 11 x 14 panel
Some time ago, I began to feel stressed out, pushed, and out of control. I was trying to be all things to all people. Once I started asking myself: “What do you want and need?” I gravitated back to basics and to what I felt were the most important priorities in my life.

We all get lost sometimes. We struggle with peer pressure, with other people’s expectation’s for us, and with simple lack of time. When we rediscover our own power and the freedom that we have to make choices, everything else falls into place.

Next in The Neptunes series: "Octoband" drawing (Marachi theme)
Yes, our choices belong to us. If they don’t, we’re allowing ourselves to be manipulated. Since we are the only one who is accountable for our choices, shouldn’t we be the one making those important life decisions?

Time is money. We’ve all heard that statement. We should live by it. Time is not only valuable, it is essential to our growth. If we can’t manage our time then time (and outside forces) will manage us!

We must harness the power within us to make choices that are right for us. For me that means listening to my heart of hearts and weighing and measuring those things that I consider meaningful and valuable in my life or that will help me promote my professional goals, my family goals, and my eternal goals.

Then comes the hard part: ordering those goals so that they fulfill our emotional, physical and spiritual needs. People are complex. We are not machines owned and operated by chance or fate. We have free will and determination. The power is within us to guide our own lives.

"Stepping Out" pencil drawing (prints available)
Instead of whining about what we don’t have or what we think we can’t do, we should be celebrating life itself. We are free. We can think our own thoughts, feel our own unique emotions, and allow ourselves to be as successful as our dreams.

"I'll never fly again!" from the book: "Inez
Ibis Flies again; the story of a courageous
ibis who never gave up!"

We can conquer fear. We can move forward in spite of deprivation or ill will. Through our thoughts, our choices, our determination, we can soar where we dream. If we link our hopes to a power greater than ourselves, we get a hand up and a hand out to greatness. We can be inspired. We can become.

"Bob White" drawing (prints available)

Friday, November 8, 2013

Beauty Is in the Eye; Impressions from the Heart

"Victims of War" mixed media on canvas; in juried show re political angst
We've heard it all of our lives--"beauty is in the eye of the beholder." This was never more true than when I discovered a petrified cactus on the desert floor in Phoenix, Arizona where I lived for several years.

In the winter I liked to take long walks in the desert. If you've never done it in January and February, you're missing an incredible sight. During the milder temperatures of winter, the desert cacti and plants come to life. The sandy terrain sprouts into a thick carpet of grassy clover and turns the normally drab browns into radiant greens. The cacti begin blooming, dotting the burgeoning scene with splashes of pinks, yellows, reds, and blues. An incredible sight!

"Whimsical Drawing of a new Series
called: "The Neptunes"
In the midst of this color, a dead cactus, brown and forlorn, caught my eye. It's arms were arranged in graceful twists and turns as beautiful as any marble sculpture I could imagine. "God's handiwork," I quipped. and decided to bring the orphaned cactus home to grace my flower garden.

I mentioned my unusual sculpture to friends, family, and neighbors. I must have described my find in such detail and with such embellishment that soon I had visitors to see my heavenly sculpture. I chuckle now, as I remember their disappointment in this dried up piece of wood that once was an elegant cactus. To me it was still beautiful, but to those who saw it through a prism of their own experience, it was a disappointment.

I get that same reaction with some of my favorite paintings, especially the ones that I cherish because of the blood, sweat, and tears, that went into them. Those are the paintings that sometimes draw this reaction: "Eh!," a shrug, and they walk away. Beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder.

"Drawing is painted in with Burnt Sienna; This panel is called: "The Trumpeteers"
My grandfather cut his thumb off long before I was born. He tangled with a paper cutter during his years as a school teacher. Although he showed his granddaughters the scar where his thumb once was, and warned us about the dangers of paper cutters and knives, we never looked on it as a disability. It was simply Grandpa. The lack of a thumb made him unique and adoring. Whether he had a thumb or not didn't make one whit of difference. To us he was perfect as he was. 

Artists frequently fret about whether their work is acceptable; compliant with the constraints of acceptable color and composition. And yet, those artists who achieve recognition and acclaim are the ones who dare to cross the line; the ones who boldly walk into the cutting edge limelight through experimentation and creativity.

"Work in Progress:  "The Neptunes -- Trumpeteers" 11 x 14 acrylic on panel
I've had the same paintings rejected by a jury at one show and then go on to win first or second prize in another. How we look at something is personal, subjective, and fleeting. The mood of the judges and the way they view your art on any given day may change. Don't take it to heart. Listen to their comments and weigh it against what you know and were trying to achieve. Don't be deterred by others. An artist must express his own inner vision, even if that means standing apart and standing alone. 

Take a deep breath and dare to be different. Some people will love your work, others will criticize it. Beautify is indeed subjective; enjoy the moment, create while you can!

"Kindred Spirits" was rejected at one juried show and won 2nd prize at another! 24 x 30 acrylic on canvas

Monday, November 4, 2013

Man’s Inhumanity to Man – When Power Corrupts

World War II, POW Camp under Japanese Leadership
Veterans Day is coming up and I’m still reading the book: “Unbroken; a World War II Story of Survival,” by Laura Hillenbrand. In one of my blogs, I mentioned that it was hard for me to read more than a few chapters a day. The material is so raw, so cruel and emotional that I have to quit reading in order to regain my composure.

I’m not a crier; people who know me know that I don’t cry easily, especially in front of others. But I will tell you this. While reading this book, my eyes fill with tears and my heart experiences the agony of shared empathy.

As POWs, these men tried to retain their dignity as human beings under cruel and inhumane circumstances. Struggling to maintain scraps of freedom their defiance kept them going. Their bodies would be starved and beaten. They would be forced into submission, but their souls, their attitudes and minds would soar above on silent prayers of hope and endurance.

Their struggles reminded me of this passage from the Book of Job in the Bible: “I will maintain my righteousness and never let go of it. My conscience will not reproach me as long as I live.” (Job 27:6 NIV)

Educators always refer to the Jewish Holocaust under Hitler as the worst example in history of human degradation and deprivation. And well they should. But its relevance has been broadcast on the wings of a political agenda labeled “Anti-Semitism.” Yet the fact that thousands and millions of Soldiers suffered under the tyrannical hands of the Japanese in the brutal POW camps is little known. Why? Because the power of the elite has deemed America an “Imperialist” country and these facts do not suit their political agenda.

"Death of a POW"
I went to Wickipedia hoping to find some historical and accurate information. To my surprise their main focus was on the Japanese Internment Camps in the US and Japanese POWs where the prisoners were treated humanely compared to the treatment of US prisoners in Japanese camps. This is how history has been manipulated for political purposes.

Most of the US and Allied POWs in Japan died from starvation. They became slave labor and worked long hours on rice or seaweed broth having neither protein nor vegetables. They suffered preventable diseases such as beriberi and scurvy.

These valiant men helped each other, protected each other; and when they could, shared what little food they had in order to keep their buddies alive. “Courage is fear that has said its prayers,” Karl Barth a theologian of the 20th century once said. Those who survived were sometimes hourly on their knees.
"Holocaust Victim? -- NO. An American POW in a Japanese POW Camp!
They were beaten daily, beaten for pleasure, and if they were officers or men of stature beaten extensively and sometimes to death. They were uncovered and barefoot in winter; their bodies covered with shreds of cloth that were once the clothing they wore when captured. International law regarding Prisoners of War was ignored. The Red Cross dropped food supplies in the camps, but the Japanese guards horded them for themselves or sold them on the black market.

Sadly, their suffering and torture in the POW camps was overshadowed by the “bomb” that finally made Japan stand still. How do you stop a tyrant? How do you bring down the planes raining bombs on your own soil and stop an aggressive enemy intent on conquering the world? How do you stop a bully with an arsenal who is out to cleanse the world of unwanted races, ethnicity's, or religions? How do you stop a mad man, a dictator from implementing his hatred?

"US and Allied POWs in open yard forced to exercise at all hours of the day or night or in any kind of weather.
This time was often used as an excuse for beatings and humiliation.
During the course of the war, Japanese civilians also suffered as their country began to collapse at war’s end. A quote from the book states: “Near the end of the war, the civilians (not the guards or hierarchy) were in shocking conditions. The limbs of the adults were grotesquely swollen from beriberi; a condition the POWs knew well. Their children were emaciated…But Japan was a long way from giving up.”

The Japanese considered “surrender” shameful, and they were prepared to fight to the end at all costs. They had also decided that no prisoners would be released to their allied forces. They intended to kill every last one. Hundreds of POWs were shot and dumped in the nearby jungles. There were few options open to the POWs for escape or rescue.

I am also including photos of family
members who currently serve or have
served in the military. (daughter Paula)
There’s another side to the story. What enemy would warn their adversary of an upcoming attack? American B29s “showered leaflets over 35 Japanese cities warning civilians of coming bombings and urging them to warn others and to evacuate.

“But the Japanese authorities punished those who had leaflets or who gave them to their neighbors and tried to warn them. Two of the cities warned and mentioned in the leaflets were Hiroshima and Nagasaki.”

Today, my blog is long. This war, this book has deeply affected me. I am incensed by “man’s inhumanity to man.” Sadly, those who served our country, who suffered and endured, were forgotten to satisfy a contemporary ideology intent on promoting a politically correct agenda of equality, diversity and inclusion. It has taken America several decades to honor those who served in the World War II arena. There are very few of them who still remain.

To add insult to injury, those surviving American heroes were insulted once again when the “mock government shut-down” denied them passage into the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. that was built specifically to honor them. I am ashamed of our leaders in Washington. I am outraged at how they toy with our lives and tinker with the greatest thing we have going for us: our Constitution. May God bless America. She needs it now more than ever!

"Paula's family"

"Paula and Husband, James"

"Grandson, Dane, in the Coast Guard"