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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.

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 websiteFacebook page, or Twitter account.

I currently have a lot going on in my life now. I’m presently doing a freelance project from home on behalf of a nonprofit group that I’m not going to get into because I’m sticking with my new blog policy of not writing about any ongoing projects that I’m still working on for other people until after that project is completed. (I had to enact it after I was working for a startup that insisted that I write blog posts in my own blog—which is the one that you’re currently reading—about its new product that it was trying to sell instead of the startup getting its own website or blogging account. You can read about how well it ultimately went in full detail.) Fortunately that nonprofit already has its own website, blog, and social media accounts so I won’t have to deal with telling anyone why I will refuse any requests to write any posts in this blog about that project until after it’s finished.

Recently I got a job lead through my support group for people who are separated or divorced about a temp agency needing to hire a bunch of file clerks for a big digitizing project that’s being done on behalf of the Veteran’s Administration. The job would be in Jessup but the interviews were being held in Glen Burnie. I managed to snag an interview for Monday, August 29 at 10 a.m. The night before that interview I got word that my mother had been admitted to the hospital yet again for sepsis. She’s currently in a hospital in Glen Burnie.

I ended up going through with the job interview but I packed a change of clothes to wear for going to the nearby hospital to visit my mother. At one point I was pulled over by a cop for having a busted taillight. Fortunately I left plenty of time for commuting so I was able to arrive for the 10 a.m. with only a minute to spare. I was among the applicants who were herded into a room for orientation about this job only to discover that it required standing nearly eight hours a day plus lifting 35 pounds at a time. With my hip replacement, I’m not sure if I could handle the physical requirements. The recruiter said that we were free to stay to interview with one of the other recruiters for other positions that the agency may get in the future. So I stayed a little while longer while filling out an application and chatting with one of the recruiters. The woman I spoke with didn’t have anything but she agreed to keep my application and resume on file in case something comes up.

After dealing with a cop and that job interview, I headed over to Crabtowne USA where I changed into shorts and a t-shirt in the women’s restroom. I ordered a crab cake sandwich, fries, and a Diet Coke through this $7.99 value meal menu that the restaurant only offers Monday-Friday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. After lunch I briefly played a couple of vintage video games and pinball machines then headed over to the nearby hospital to visit my mother.

Right now she’s doing okay but she frequently gets tired and there are times when she simply drifts off to sleep. I’ve been bringing my laptop with me so I could continue to do work for that nonprofit and do some web surfing whenever my mother falls asleep. (Hooray for the hospital’s free wi-fi!) I’m hoping that she’ll get released before the Labor Day holiday weekend because it would suck to be stuck there for the holidays. Plus I would have to deal with heavy holiday traffic since I’m currently commuting from just outside Washington, DC to Glen Burnie. On top of that the city of Greenbelt has its annual Labor Day Festival, which has its own area traffic snarls as people try to enter and compete for parking. (There is a free shuttle bus service with stops at various locations but a lot of people still prefer to drive their cars and park as close to the festival grounds as possible.)

The Escape Artists Gallery fundraiser for the Ellicott City flood victims is still going on but I haven’t checked out my painting in that show nor have I gotten word on whether it has been sold. I will get a chance to see my painting on display this Friday evening because the gallery is having a farewell party. (The show ends on September 4.) If my mother doesn’t get released from the hospital by then, my plan is to visit her first then go to the North Linthicum light rail and take that into Baltimore for the party. If she does get released then I’ll go into Baltimore earlier, spend some time at the Walters Art Museum (which is located near the Escape Artists Gallery and it has free admission), eat dinner at the Subway that’s located underneath the gallery then head into the party.

A few weeks ago I had prescheduled a few posts that will gradually go live over the next few days so I don’t really have to do much with this blog at the moment.

Right now I’m hoping that my mother gets well enough so she can be released from the hospital before the holiday weekend begins.

This painting I did a few years ago is currently on display at a special fundraising art show in Baltimore.

Desire

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

Proceeds from the sale of this painting (as well as works by other artists) will help the victims of last month’s devastating flood in Ellicott City, Maryland. The entire art show will be available for viewing from 4-7 p.m. every night between now and September 4. Here is where the art show is currently being held:

The Escape Artists
827 North Charles Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21201

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

This painting I did a few years back will be available for sale soon as a fundraiser.

Desire

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

If you happen to be in the Baltimore-Washington, DC area (or plan to visit soon), you’ll have the opportunity to purchase this one of a kind painting from August 19- September 4 at this location:

The Escape Artists
827 North Charles Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21201

The proceeds from the sale of this painting and other works of art by other artists that will also be on display will benefit those who were displaced by the recent flood in Ellicott City that happened on July 30. For more details about this, check out the event’s Facebook page or the gallery’s website.

As for information about the painting itself, the short answer is that it was based on a photograph of an Australian shepherd named Jay-Jay who was owned by my late mother-in-law and her second husband and he lived his entire life in Phoenix. If you want more details about the story behind this painting, check out this blog post that I wrote on September 26, 2011. Since I wrote that post my husband walked out on me and I ended up divorced. I haven’t communicated with any of my ex-husband’s Arizona relatives (which also included my ex-husband’s step-brothers, step-sisters, their spouses, and their children) since he left in December, 2011 nor have I even seen Jay-Jay the dog since my last visit to Arizona in January, 2011 (when my then-husband and I flew to Phoenix to celebrate his step-father’s 80th birthday just 11 months before my marriage suddenly imploded).

UPDATE (August 12, 2016): Here is some updated info about the show. A reception will be held at The Escape Artists Gallery from 7-10 p.m. on Friday, August 19. The show itself will end on September 4. There is a possibility of a second fundraising art show being held in Columbia for all art works that didn’t sell in the upcoming Baltimore show. If my painting fails to sell and it gets transferred to the Columbia show, I’ll definitely provide updates.

I mentioned a few days ago about this horrendous flood that has devastated the historic section of Ellicott City. Five years ago I featured this vintage player piano that was located in one of the stores that have since been flooded. (I shot the video in 2009 before I started this blog and I wrote about it in 2011.) The player piano was located on the third floor of the store so I’m hoping that it wasn’t swept away by the water.

For those who are currently in the Baltimore-Washington, DC area who want to help the flood victims, there is a list of places that are holding benefit events for those who were caught in the flood in both Ellicott City and in the Woodbury area of Baltimore (another place that suffered similar devastating flooding). By the way, if you’re thinking about going to the historic area of Ellicott City to see for yourself how damaged it got, I have one thing to say—DON’T!!! That area is currently completely closed to everyone except for emergency personnel.

A few days ago I wrote a post about David Bowie, who passed away earlier this week from cancer at the age of 69. I mentioned that I only had the privilege of seeing him in concert just once. At the time he was touring in support of his then-latest album, Let’s Dance. I mentioned how it was among the more memorable concerts that I have ever been to.

I went to the concert with two other people—one was one of my housemates and the other was my then-boyfriend who later became my ex-husband. The three of us drove to the since-demolished Capital Center in Landover, Maryland (which was famously featured in the cult documentary classic Heavy Metal Parking Lot) in my boyfriend’s car (who was the only one among us who had a car at the time). I remember when we drove down the Capital Beltway and we saw an exit sign leading to the town of Bowie, Maryland and we started to make jokes about being close to David.

A couple of days ago I was going through some old things when I came across this.

David Bowie Serious Moonlight 1983 Pin

It was a pin that has his name and the words “Serious Moonlight Tour ’83” with an interesting illustration of David Bowie dancing under a crescent moon. I picked it up as a souvenir of that concert that very night. I remember that I purchased it before the show began because I wanted a souvenir that I could wear to my college classes the next day. The only thing was that the t-shirts and sweatshirts were very expensive and I was a typical cash-strapped college student. So I ended up purchasing the pin instead because it was cheaper. I wore it a few times but I always took great care to put it back on the paper backing when I was done wearing it. I couldn’t bear to toss the paper backing because it looked so cool.

Even though the pin is small, I’m glad I bought it instead of a t-shirt because clothes tend to fade and fall apart after a while. This pin has held up because it’s made of metal and I went through great effort to keep it in as pristine condition as possible. In addition, this pin is easy to store (in fact I found it in a small box along with other rock pins and buttons that I’ve purchased over the years).

A couple of days ago I found a clip on YouTube of David Bowie doing a cover of the Velvet Underground’s “White Light/White Heat” that was shot during that same tour but at a different venue. Someone had compiled a playlist that consists entirely of David Bowie performing different songs at various venues on that same tour. I’m glad I found that playlist because it’s very hard to tell people who weren’t there how wonderful David Bowie was in concert. I can not only post that playlist in this blog but I can also watch it myself and relive that awesome night that I saw David Bowie live my one and only time. He played a mix of new tracks off of Let’s Dance and his older well-known songs and he was superb the entire time. Now that he’s gone, I find myself regretting that I didn’t try to see him in concert more than once. Oh well. At least I have my pin and this playlist to remember that one David Bowie concert by.

By the way there’s a fundraiser in Bowie’s name that’s currently in effect. Apparently members of the notoriously racist, homophobic, and anti-American Westboro Baptist Church has announced plans to picket Bowie’s funeral wherever and whenever it’s held. In response, the organization Planting Peace has announced a fundraiser that will benefit children who are living with cancer at Saint Jude’s Children’s Hospital in David Bowie’s name. Here’s the link in case you want to contribute to this worthwhile cause.

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