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Ramadan

American Flag

Two years ago there was a massive rain storm that resulted in flooding in certain areas. The hardest hit was the historic district of Ellicott City. Many of those affected were locally owned businesses who saw their livelihoods wash away with the flood.

Many of these businesses managed to rebuild to the point where they could put that horrible flood behind them. But now they are being impacted again. Over the past week there have been frequent rain, which got very heavy at times. Yesterday there was yet another flood that swept away many of those same businesses as the one in 2016. Here is how bad it got.

While one can easily blame climate change for the second devastating flood in two years, there’s another culprit as well: overdevelopment.

There is at least one business owner who have announced that she’s throwing in the towel and I can understand her feelings.

I wouldn’t be surprised if other businesses decide to follow suit. It must be horrifying beyond words to see your own business and life’s work get swept away in one flood, go through great time, effort, and money to reopen the business only to see it get swept away in another flood just two years later. Like I wrote earlier, most of these businesses are locally owned so they don’t have the deep pockets and huge resources that a corporate-owned store chain has. There’s only so much that an individual business can take before the owner decides to just quit.

The saddest part is that the historic area of Ellicott City is one of the loveliest places to walk around, especially in the fall when the leaves start to change colors. To see historic Ellicott City in better days, check out the photos I took of the area in 2014 and 2015.

There’s already a new effort to raise funds to help the affected people there. If you can’t afford to donate money, at least keep Ellicott City in your thoughts along with those who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving in the military on this Memorial Day.

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A few months ago I wrote a post about how I got into knitting hats using a circular loom that I purchased from Jo-Ann’s Fabrics & Crafts after I learned that my church has a yarn stash that has filled at least 10 bins. (Much of that yarn came from donations either from church members who moved out of the area or relatives of recently deceased church members who were trying to declutter their loved one’s home.) Here are a couple of adult-sized hats I finished after I wrote my previous post back in May using different yarn color combinations that I haven’t used before.

I also bought a smaller circular loom with the idea of making smaller-sized hats that would fit infants and very young children. I basically used the same yarn colored combinations as on the larger hats. I didn’t have a styrofoam head small enough to display those hats. (I only have that one styrofoam head and I use that to hold this one multicolored wig that I own when I’m not using it to model my adult hats for pictures.)

So I decided to use some of my dolls to display these hats while I shot these pictures. Yes, I know that these hats are too large and out of scale for these dolls. Keep in mind that I didn’t knit these hats for dolls. (Heck, I don’t even know if there’s even a market for doll-sized loom-knitted hats.) Taking these photos have given me the chance to take a look at these dolls again and enjoy them. I had been less and less enthusiastic about dolls, especially in the early days when my husband abruptly left home (with zero advanced warning) for a friend of ours with severe mental health issues. Yeah, I was depressed for a long time. Especially since he left three months after I underwent hip surgery. There were times when I lost enthusiasm for a lot of things. I’m still trying to get back into doing things that I used to love to do but it can be hard at times with all of these distractions stemming from tight finances and the currently ugly political situation going on just a few miles away from where I live (a.k.a. Washington, DC).

So, without further ado, here are my smaller knitted hats for infants and very young children.

Since I mentioned my husband running away from home back in 2011, I’d thought I’d begin with the doll that he essentially blamed in that letter he left behind for leaving home. (He said that this doll contributed to the clutter in our home. But then I had friends tell me that he was spotted in public with the other woman less than a week after he left me and he married her two months after our divorce was final.) It was an American Girl Julie Albright doll who is supposed to represent the 1970s that I purchased the day before my hip surgery. So here she is wearing a knitted loom hat.

The doll in the next photo is also a historical 1970s American Girl doll. Her name is Ivy Ling and she’s described in the books as being Julie’s best friend. This doll was retired a few years ago when American Girl decided to get rid of its Best Friends of Historical Dolls line.

Here’s the third and last American Girl doll in this group of doll models. Her name is Addy Walker, she represents the Civil War era, and she’s wearing a hat that matches her pretty blue dress.

Now it’s time to move on to other dolls. This one is My Friend Cayla, the 18-inch interactive doll that has been banned in Germany because the authorities were concerned that the doll would spy on children. Snopes.com has a fully detailed article about the controversies surrounding that doll that has arisen not only in Germany but in other countries as well. Here she is modeling a knitted hat.

The doll in the next photo is a vintage 1970s doll from the now-defunct Ideal Toy Company known as Beautiful Crissy, who is 18 inches tall. This doll’s hair can be grown from short hair to long hair and back to short hair. (You can see a demonstration of this feature in this vintage commercial.) I had that doll as a child then my parents gave it away when I grew older. But I never forgot Beautiful Crissy. I picked this doll up on eBay a few years ago. Here she is wearing a hat.

The doll in the next photo is smaller than the others. She is 15 inches tall, her name is Velvet, and she was another Ideal doll that was released as a cousin of Beautiful Crissy. Like her cousin, Velvet also has hair that can change from long to short then back to long. I found this doll at a doll show years ago that was on sale for a very cheap price because she was partially nude and had this funky white mold in her eyes. I once wrote his blog post detailing how I managed to get rid of the mold and restored this doll to her original condition. So, without further ado, here is Velvet wearing a hat.

Here is a doll I haven’t touched in a long time. Her name is Kianna and she came from Mattel’s short-lived Teen Trends doll line. She is 17 inches tall and she has internal elastic stringing that’s similar to an Asian ball-jointed doll. Here she is modeling a hat.

And last, but not least, here is Blythe, who is the smallest of the dolls featured in this post because she stands at around 11 inches tall. She’s the same height as a Barbie doll but, due to her large, out-of-scale head size, she can wear the same hat size as a lot of the larger dolls.

Finally, here’s one last shot of the entire gang modeling those knitted loom hats.

I knitted the hats throughout the spring and summer. I did some knitting in the fall until I took part in Inktober and I found that it took up a lot of time that I could’ve spent knitting more hats. When the month ended and the annual church auction was happening soon, I spent some crunch time finishing the one last hat that was still on the circular loom before I got diverted by Inktober.

The hats were put on sale along with other wearable knitted items that were made by other church members at the church’s annual auction a few weeks ago. Last Saturday I received a phone call from a member of my church’s handcraft circle informing me that a member of our church had decided to buy the entire inventory of hats and mittens. He then donated that inventory back to the handcraft circle with the instructions that they are to be donated to local homeless shelters and other nonprofit groups that help the poor and needy this time of the year. My knitted loom hats were among the inventory that was purchased. I am very grateful to that church member for his generosity. 🙂

As of this writing Hurricane Irma is pummeling the U.S. (especially in Florida) and the Caribbean. And this hurricane comes on the heels of Hurricane Harvey, which has pummeled Texas and Louisiana. Click here for a list of ways that you can help the victims of these two storms. I will update the list as needed.

Click here for a complete list where you can donate money and goods. This list will be updated as I learn about more efforts to help the people who were caught up in this devastating storm.

UPDATE (September 10, 2017): Since Hurricane Irma has struck Florida and the Caribbean soon after Hurricane Harvey struck Texas and Louisiana, I decided to alter the title of this post. I will update this list with any Hurricane Irma-specific relief efforts if I get any new information.

I’ve been getting links on social media to various places where you can donate money and other goods to the victims of last weekend’s catastrophic Hurricane Harvey, which struck Texas. Here’s a list, which I will update as I become more aware of more organizations that are helping out with this effort.

By the way I would urge everyone to read this post BEFORE sending any non-monetary goods. So far many of the organizations have received things that the hurricane victims don’t need (such as sexy lingerie, prom dresses, and winter coats). If you are going to send gift cards, make sure that the store also have locations in the Houston-Galveston area first. (That same post mentions that relief workers have received WaWa gift cards that they can’t use because there are no WaWa stores in that area.)

Airbnb is waiving service fees for those affected by the disaster and checking in until September 25. Click here if you need accommodations or you wish to offer a hurricane victim a place to stay.

Austin Disaster Relief: Donate online at adrn.org/disaster-relief/hurricaneharvey/.

Austin Pets Alive!: Donate online and/or volunteer to foster an animal displaced by the hurricane at www.austinpetsalive.org/hurricane-harvey-evacuations/.

Bayou Action Street Health (BASH): Donate money online at paypal.me/BASH2017. Donate vital resources (such as rain ponchos and first aid supplies) right here.

Best Friends: Donate online here.

Black Women’s Defense League/World on My Shoulders: Donate online here.

Catholic Charities of USA: To make a financial donation, visit CCUSA’s disaster-specific website or text 71777 to make a donation.

Direct Relief USA: Donate online through their donation page.

Driscoll Children’s Hospital: Donate online at co.clickandpledge.com/advanced/default.aspx?wid=45664

EMERGE Harvey Relief Fund: Donate online here.

Feeding America: Donate online here.

Feeding South Florida: Donate online at feedingsouthflorida.org.

Feeding Texas: Donate online at www.feedingtexas.org.

Florida Disaster Fund: Donate online here.

Florida Keys Children’s Shelter: Donate online at fkcs.org.

Global Giving: Donate online for Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma.

GoFundMe: Donate online at www.gofundme.com/raise-funds/hurricane-harvey.

Google Hurricane Harvey Response: Google will double any contributions you make through its site. Donate online here.

Google Hurricane Irma Response: Google will double any contributions you make through its site. Donate online here.

Help Harvey Victims on Dialysis: Donate online here.

Houston Coalition for the Homeless: Donate online here.

The Humane Society of the United States Disaster Relief Fund: Donate online here.

Hurricane Harvey Grassroots Response Louisiana: Donate online here.

Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund: Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner has established the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund that will accept tax deductible donations. The fund is administered by the Greater Houston Community Foundation, a 501(c)(3) public charity. To make a financial donation, visit the GHCF website.

ICNA (Muslims for Humanity) Relief: Donate online at www.icnarelief.org/wp/index.php/hurricaneharvey.

International Relief Teams: Donate online at www.irteams.org.

Miami Diaper Bank: Donate online at www.miamidiaperbank.com.

NECHAMA’s Response to Hurricane Harvey: Donate online at nechamaharvey.funraise.org.

PayPal/eBay’s Hurricane Harvey Relief: Donate online here.

PetSmart Charities: You can either donate in person at any PetSmart store or donate online at www.petsmartcharities.org.

Portlight Inclusive Disaster Strategies: Donate online through their PayPal account.

Salvation Army USA: Donate online at www.helpsalvationarmy.org or by calling 1-800 SAL-ARMY. Or send a check marked “disaster relief” by mail to The Salvation Army, P.O. Box 1959, Atlanta, GA 30301.

Samaritan’s Purse: Donate online and find information about volunteering to help in the flooded areas at www.samaritanspurse.org. Or send a check by mail to Samaritan’s Purse, P.O. Box 3000, Boone, NC 28607.

SPCA Disaster Relief Fund: Donate online here.

SPCA of Texas: Donate online at www.spca.org/news_hurricane-harvey.

St. John Community Foundation: Donate online at thestjohnfoundation.org.

St. John Rescue: Donate online through their main website or their GoFundMe campaign.

Tejas Houston: Donate online here.

The Texas Diaper Bank: Donate online at texasdiaperbank.networkforgood.com/projects/33717-change-a-life

Texas Library Association Disaster Relief Fund: Donate online at squareup.com/store/txla/.

Texas Organizing Project’s Hurricane Harvey Community Relief Fund: Donate online at act.myngp.com/Forms/-3833118145683060992.

Transadvocate Harvey Relief: Donate online here.

UNICEF USA: Donate for Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Harvey.

Unitarian Universalist Association’s Hurricane Harvey Recovery Fund: Donate online here.

United Global Outreach: Donate online at www.ugo2.org/donate.

United Peace Relief: Donate online at unitedpeacerelief.org/2017/01/28/donate/

United Way of Miami-Dade: Donate online at unitedwaymiami.org.

This weekend I came across a GoFundMe campaign on my Facebook feed on behalf of a burlesque performer known professionally as Sophia Sunday. She’s currently being sued for defamation by an acquaintance. For the details about that lawsuit, you can either see that GoFundMe page or, for a more even-handed version (meaning both sides of the story are depicted), this Baltimore Post-Examiner story.

I’ve drawn sketches of Sophia Sunday at the Baltimore Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School events in 2014 and 2015. (Both links are NSFW.) Here are just two of the more tame drawings I did of her.

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I wasn’t there that night the alleged sexual assault took place and I’ve never met the plaintiff in this case so I really can’t say who’s right or wrong. But if I had any money to spare, I would definitely throw a few dollars Sophia’s way because I know what it’s like to get sued while not being able to afford to fully pay your own legal fees (mainly in the form of my now-ex-husband sending divorce papers in a .PDF format attached to an email that was dated Christmas Eve and I had to go to my mother for money so I could afford to hire my own lawyer). The fact that it’s so expensive to get legal representation so you won’t get screwed is a total indictment on the current state of U.S. justice, but that is the topic of another rant (if not another series of rants).

One of the reasons I would like to have a steady day job is not only so I could support myself financially but also so I could do things like donate a few dollars to someone who’s in a tough bind like Sophia Sunday. I wish I could afford to help her but I can’t. So I’m doing the next best thing—writing this blog post in the hope that anyone reading this will help Sophia out financially.

I’m pretty sensitive about the fact that this alleged sexual assault happened within the confines of BDSM because of what happened to one of my friends, Julie, who decided to spend a weekend full of BDSM play with her new boyfriend only to have her boyfriend brutally murder her. (All I can say is that, compared to poor Julie, at least Sophia is still alive.)

If you can afford to send a few dollars Sophia’s way, you can do so right here.

UPDATE (July 18, 2018): The case ultimately went to mediation in December, 2017 and it is now settled with neither side admitting to any wrongdoing and no money will change hands. Click here for more details about the case.

Ramadan

A few months ago I went on the annual Women’s Retreat that was held at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church in Adelphi, Maryland. During that day-long retreat I learned that the church has an extensive yarn stash.

Here’s some background information. When I first joined that congregation years ago, there was an elderly woman named Ottille Van Allen who was in her 80’s at the time but she was incredibly active. I could write a whole series of separate blog posts about the stories she used to tell me and others in that congregation over the years from being born in Germany when Kaiser Wilhelm II ruled that nation with an iron fist to immigrating with her parents to the U.S. because her father was a socialist and the Kaiser took a dim view of people like him to how she was immediately placed in an English-only class at school because there was no such thing as ESOL at the time.

Ottille Van Allen was a very avid knitter and she would spend much of her time knitting hats and mittens. (She was a retired schoolteacher.) She would sell her hats and mittens at a table during the church’s annual auction in the fall. She would continue to sell her inventory after regular Sunday service until mid-December. Whatever inventory didn’t get sold was donated to homeless shelters and various groups that serviced the poor in Prince George’s County, Maryland.

As Ottille Van Allen’s age increased, she had a harder time keeping up with her knitting. By the time she reached her mid-to-late 90’s, she wasn’t able to handle it any more. (She would die at the age of 103 or 104.) Other church members were moved by her plight and they wanted to continue the tradition she started of selling hats and mittens so a Handcraft Circle sprung up where people would gather after Sunday service a few times a month with their latest knitting or crocheting projects as they made hats and mittens for sale. (I have to note that this Handcraft Circle came into being long before it became trendy for women to form Stitch ‘N Bitch knitting circles that meet in libraries, coffeehouses, and other public places.)

Over the years as people involved in the Handcraft Circle moved elsewhere or died, either they or their families would donate extra yarn to the church for the Handcraft Circle to use for the hats and mittens. When I was at the retreat I found out how much yarn the church has amassed over the years. I saw that there were at least 10 large bins full of yarn of various colors and thickness and I was told that there were more. The church had so many yarn skeins that it could easily open its own yarn store as a side venture if it wanted to do so.

Basically the church would like to get rid of the excess yarn. So I took several skeins home with me. I purchased a circular knitting loom at Jo-Ann’s Fabrics & Crafts and started making hats. I found that using the loom is easier than the traditional needles because I don’t have to count rows and stitches nor do I have to worry about how many stitches should be knit and how many should be purl. The only thing I have to do is to periodically measure the length of what I knitted in the loom so the hat would’t be too big or too small.

Here are the photos of what I’ve knitted so far.

I attended a benefit concert featuring my friends The Bachelor and the Bad Actress at the New Deal Cafe in Greenbelt, Maryland. It was a fundraiser to help pay off the medical bills of the Bachelor’s sister. (Even though she has health insurance, the hospital bills were still very expensive.) Here’s a photo of the duo on stage.

Here’s a short video I shot of the couple.

My latest trip to Baltimore came during a really crazy period. A few weeks I submitted this painting to a special art fundraiser that was being put on by the Escape Artists Gallery where the proceeds would go towards helping the victims of the recent Ellicott City flood.

Desire

On the day I submitted that painting I also took a few photos of the area near the Escape Artists Gallery, which I posted here.

Soon after I submitted that painting I made an appointment for an interview for a potential job, which would be located in Jessup yet the interviews themselves took place in my old hometown of Glen Burnie. The night before that job interview I got word that my mother became very ill and she ended up in a hospital that was also located in Glen Burnie. I went through with the job interview the following morning while I took a change of clothes. After the job interview I went to Crabtowne USA where I ate lunch and changed clothes in the women’s restroom then headed to the hospital. For four days before the start of the Labor Day holiday weekend I would commute from the DC area to Glen Burnie to visit with my mother. Between those visits I would photograph some old haunts that I used to go to when I was growing up.

My mother managed to recover from her latest bout with sepsis and she was released from the hospital on the Friday, the same day that signaled the start of the Labor Day holiday weekend. A couple of days earlier I had received an invitation to go to the closing party for that art exhibit in Baltimore that would take place Friday night. Since my mom was in the process of getting out of the hospital, I decided to just bypass Glen Burnie and go straight into Baltimore.

It was the fifth day in a row that I commuted from the DC area to the Baltimore area but this trip was relatively relaxing compared to the previous four days. I arrived in Baltimore a few hours before the start of the party because I wanted to walk around the area some more.

I took the light rail into the city. At the light rail stop that’s closest to the Escape Artists Gallery there is this interesting looking statue that seems to depict soldiers from the American Revolution.

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This abandoned building has some nice art deco features and it probably was a really nice building a long time ago. Even though it looks deserted it still manages to maintain its art deco architecture.

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The main reason why I wanted to arrive in Baltimore early is because I found out that the Walters Art Museum is located just a couple of blocks from the Escape Artists Gallery. I had only been in that museum one other time and that was when I was a teenager. I remember my mother took me to that museum (which was then-named The Walters Art Gallery) because she kept on saying that she wanted to take me to that museum as well as some of the other nice places in Baltimore. I think she finally got around to taking me there when she realized that I was growing up and she wanted to take me there before I reached adulthood. The only things I remember from my one and only prior trip are the collection of Fabergé eggs and this mummy that was still in its sarcophagus.

So I was all excited that I would finally make my second visit to this same museum in my life, especially since it offers free admission. What made this visit even better is that, after enduring several weeks of high heat and high humidity, that awful heatwave went away. (What happened is that Hurricane Hermine was coming up the East Coast. It never went inland but it was powerful enough for the beach resorts to ban swimming and it blew away that high heat and high humidity. The weather was totally wonderful.

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I spent around two hours in that museum but, to be honest, if I had to do it again, I would spend the entire day in that museum because there is literally so much to see. I only managed to see two of the floors and part of a third floor. I took some pictures of the art that I liked, which show just a portion of what The Walters Art Museum has on display. (Some of the photos include nudity so they are definitely NSFW.)

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The Walters Art Museum also offers this really great view of the nearby Washington Monument.

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I stayed in that museum until it was closing time. As I walked outside I began to really enjoy the sunny yet very pleasant weather. I sat down on a chair that was located near the Washington Monument as I enjoyed the excellent weather and rested from walking around The Walters Art Museum for two hours. After a while I got up again and took some more photos around the area, including the Washington Monument and the Peabody Institute.

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At one point I thought about eating dinner at this locally owned pizza place instead of the Subway that’s located under the Escape Artists Gallery. While I could afford to eat at Subway, the pizza place was slightly more expensive so I decided to hit the ATM machine that was located inside that pizza place. But then I got one of those “Access Denied” messages on the receipt, even though I had just deposited the latest alimony check from my ex-husband. I briefly walked a block north to see if there were any other ATMs in the area but I didn’t find one and I was too tired to try walking a block south so I ended up eating dinner at Subway instead.

Finally was time for the party at the Escape Artists Gallery to begin (and it was located directly over the Subway where I ate my dinner). I arrived after the party was scheduled to begin only to discover that I was the first person who arrived. So I ended up talking with one of the people who ran the gallery where I learned that it had sold only half of the art currently in the show and the bulk of the sales happened on opening night. Since then the gallery had sold only one or two additional art pieces but, as a fundraiser, it was a bust. I also learned that my own art piece was among the unsold art pieces.

I walked around the gallery where I not only saw my own painting hanging (which you can see in the photo below) but I also saw the other works of art that were currently on display.

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This next photo shows that the party consisted of just seven people (including myself). I talked with the other party people for a bit but it was pretty much a bust. I decided to leave that party a half-an-hour before it was scheduled to end. I said my good-byes to the person I spoke with when I first arrived and she suggested that I take my painting with me since the show was going to close in two days. I took up her offer because I was really dreading making yet another trip from the DC area to the Baltimore area for a sixth day out of the last seven days.

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As I was walking back to the light rail station with my painting, I took a couple of gorgeous sunset photos.

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I even got a chance to see how gorgeous the Washington Monument looks at night when it’s all lit up like in the next photo.

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When I arrived at the light rail station I saw that the Revolutionary War soldiers statues that I first saw when I arrived were bathed in a warm yellow light.

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Labor Day marks the traditional end of summer in the United States and, for me, it means that I have two paintings that will be on display this weekend at two different art shows that are literally located on opposite ends of the Baltimore-Washington Parkway.

First is this art show in Baltimore that I’ve been participating in for the past few weeks in Baltimore with the proceeds from this show going to the victims of the recent Ellicott City flood. I have this acrylic painting currently on display.

Desire

Desire
Acrylic on canvas
9 inches x 12 inches
23 cm x 30 cm

The gallery is currently opened to the public from 4-7 p.m. every night but the show’s last day will be this Sunday, September 4 so don’t delay if you haven’t seen the show in person yet.

There will be a closing party tonight from 7-9 p.m. and I plan on being there so if you want to meet me in person, here’s your chance to do so. (I’m sorry for the short notice but I didn’t get word of this party until about two days ago plus I was distracted by my mother’s recent hospitalization for sepsis.)

Here’s the address for both the art show and tonight’s party:

The Escape Artists
827 North Charles Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21201

For more information and directions, see the gallery’s website or Facebook page.

And for those of you who live closer to Washington, DC, I’ll have another painting at a show in this area.

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My Little Pony
Acrylic on canvas
10 inches x 10 inches
25 cm x 25 cm

Yes, it’s fan art based on a popular television show. There’s a story behind why I decided to do this but I’m going to devote a separate blog post to this sometime in the near future because I want to focus on hyping the upcoming show. This painting will be on display at the Greenbelt Labor Day Art Show, which is held as part of the annual Greenbelt Labor Day Festival. The art show will be opened to the public on Saturday, September 3 from 1-6 p.m.; Sunday, September 4 from 1-6 p.m.; and Monday, September 5 from 12 noon-6 p.m.

What’s more, I will be serving guard duty at the art show this Saturday from 3-4 p.m. so if you happened to be in the area and want to meet me in person, here’s your chance to do so.

Here’s the address where this art show will take place:

Greenbelt Community Center
15 Crescent Road
Greenbelt, Maryland 20770

For more information and directions, check out the festival’s website, Facebook page, or Twitter account.

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