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I was originally raised a Roman Catholic. My family attended a Roman Catholic church that had the usual Christian art featuring Jesus, the Virgin Mary, and a few saints. I grew up thinking that churches only displayed religious art and nothing else.

When I started attending a Unitarian Universalist church as a young adult who was a recent college graduate, I was amazed to see art that not only didn’t reflect a particular religious point of view but the artworks themselves would frequently rotate on a regular basis where new art would be erected and displayed. Much of the art that’s usually on display were created by local artists, many of whom are not UUs.

When I visited other UU churches in other cities, I found that many congregations also featured a rotating display of art done by area artists (who may or may not be UU) that didn’t necessarily reflect a particular religious dogma.

Many of the art my church (Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church in Adelphi, Maryland) displays run the gamut from painting to drawing to mixed-media to sculptures to photography. Some of the art is abstract while others might feature a portrait of a person or an animal or it might reflect a certain view on social issues or politics.

Here are a few photos I took of an art exhibit that’s currently on display at my church right now. They are a series of paintings done by a local self-taught artist named Antonio Moore, who has sold some of his work to famous people such as Mark Cuban and Jay-Z. His paintings include people like Kiss, Miles Davis, Marilyn Monroe, Bob Marley, Frank Sinatra, and Barack Obama.

If you want to see the art for yourself in person, the best time is on Sunday mornings after 11:15 a.m. (when Sunday service usually ends) until around 1 or 2 p.m. For other times, you will have to contact the church office to make special arrangements.

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Earlier this month I went to this event at the Artist & Craftsman Supply store in Hyattsville where there was a special free workshop on creating your own rainbow clothes especially for Pride Month. All you needed to do was to supply your t-shirts, bags, or hats. If you forgot to bring one, you could buy one from the store itself. I ended up paying around $3 for a blank white t-shirt so I could participate.

Basically we used a variety of different fabric paint spray along with stencils and fabric markers to create our unique rainbow clothes and accessories. I took a few photos during the workshop itself.

The last photos in this post are about my own t-shirt that I designed myself. The next photo shows the t-shirt as a work in progress.

The next photo shows me using the blow dryer in order to make the t-shirt dry faster. (The fact that it was raining outside that day made it imperative that I try to dry the t-shirt as much as possible before I could even walk back to my car.)

Here is my completed t-shirt just a few weeks after that workshop.

Here’s the back of the t-shirt, which isn’t that interesting mainly because I used fabric paint spray instead of the tye-dye that I usually do with these kinds of projects. Plus it would’ve made the t-shirt drying that much longer and difficult since I had to carry it back to my car in the rain.

Last, but not least, is a selfie of me modeling that t-shirt, which reads “Pride Not Prejudice.”

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For the past couple of years I’ve been taking the Gateway Arts Open Studio Tour and I’ve been blogging about these tours in May, 2016; December, 2016; and May, 2017. For this year’s tour there was some Facebook drama. From what I was told, the people who organized the previous Open Studio Tours had been dragging its feet about organizing a new tour for 2018 so some of the artists who had participated in the previous tours decided to take it upon themselves to organize their own art tour that was scheduled for the day before Mother’s Day. The organizers of the Open Studio Tours realized that they were lax about organizing a tour for this year so they decided to organize an official tour that would coincide with Mount Rainier Day (which is an annual neighborhood celebration) on the following Saturday while putting out promo materials claiming that this year’s walk would be a two consecutive Saturday walk beginning with the one that the artists themselves had organized on the day before Mother’s Day.

So naturally there were accusations of cooption. On top of it some artists questioned the wisdom of scheduling the second Open Studio Tour on the same weekend as Mount Rainier Day because it might draw crowds away from the artist studios who happened to be located in towns north of Mount Rainier (such as Hyattsville and Brentwood). Some artists decided not to participate in the second Saturday’s Open Studio Tour while others decided to participate on both Saturdays.

As for me, I wasn’t able to make it to the first Saturday’s Open Studio Tour because I had opted to attend the Greenbelt Green Man Festival, which was scheduled the same weekend. I was amazed at reading all of the Facebook drama but I ended up going to the Open Studio Tour on the second Saturday mainly because I’ve enjoyed the previous ones. The silver lining to all of this controversy is that, thanks to the artist boycott of the second Saturday tour, it made my decision as to which studios to actually visit much easier.

The only downside is that it had been raining that day. Fortunately it wasn’t raining too heavily so I was able to carry my umbrella, which I used at times. There were also times when there was no rain at all. At least you know why all of the outdoor photos I took that day featured clouds and wet ground.

I also must warn you that there are some images in this post that are definitely NSFW.

What I saw at the Gateway Open Studio Tour in Hyattsville and Mount Rainier, Maryland on May 19, 2018. #OST2018

I first stopped at the Renaissance Gallery in Hyattsville.

What I saw at the Gateway Open Studio Tour in Hyattsville and Mount Rainier, Maryland on May 19, 2018. #OST2018

The Renaissance Gallery is located on the lower level of the Renaissance Square Artists Housing, which provides affordable housing for working artists.

What I saw at the Gateway Open Studio Tour in Hyattsville and Mount Rainier, Maryland on May 19, 2018. #OST2018

What I saw at the Gateway Open Studio Tour in Hyattsville and Mount Rainier, Maryland on May 19, 2018. #OST2018

Renaissance Gallery features the art of Pepe Piedra, who is a painter.

What I saw at the Gateway Open Studio Tour in Hyattsville and Mount Rainier, Maryland on May 19, 2018. #OST2018

What I saw at the Gateway Open Studio Tour in Hyattsville and Mount Rainier, Maryland on May 19, 2018. #OST2018

What I saw at the Gateway Open Studio Tour in Hyattsville and Mount Rainier, Maryland on May 19, 2018. #OST2018

 

What I saw at the Gateway Open Studio Tour in Hyattsville and Mount Rainier, Maryland on May 19, 2018. #OST2018

Pepe Piedra can be seen painting at his easel in the next photograph.

What I saw at the Gateway Open Studio Tour in Hyattsville and Mount Rainier, Maryland on May 19, 2018. #OST2018

Afterwards I drove south to Brentwood, where I visited the art that was on display at the Brentwood Arts Exchange.

What I saw at the Gateway Open Studio Tour in Brentwood, Maryland on May 19, 2018. #OST2018

What I saw at the Gateway Open Studio Tour in Brentwood, Maryland on May 19, 2018. #OST2018

What I saw at the Gateway Open Studio Tour in Brentwood, Maryland on May 19, 2018. #OST2018

What I saw at the Gateway Open Studio Tour in Brentwood, Maryland on May 19, 2018. #OST2018

What I saw at the Gateway Open Studio Tour in Brentwood, Maryland on May 19, 2018. #OST2018

What I saw at the Gateway Open Studio Tour in Brentwood, Maryland on May 19, 2018. #OST2018

What I saw at the Gateway Open Studio Tour in Brentwood, Maryland on May 19, 2018. #OST2018

What I saw at the Gateway Open Studio Tour in Brentwood, Maryland on May 19, 2018. #OST2018

What I saw at the Gateway Open Studio Tour in Brentwood, Maryland on May 19, 2018. #OST2018

What I saw at the Gateway Open Studio Tour in Brentwood, Maryland on May 19, 2018. #OST2018

What I saw at the Gateway Open Studio Tour in Brentwood, Maryland on May 19, 2018. #OST2018

Located on the upper level of the Brentwood Arts Exchange Building is the 39th Street Gallery and Studios, which is a separate gallery/studio that featured even more art, including paintings of the famous artist Frida Kahlo.

What I saw at the Gateway Open Studio Tour in Brentwood, Maryland on May 19, 2018. #OST2018

What I saw at the Gateway Open Studio Tour in Brentwood, Maryland on May 19, 2018. #OST2018

What I saw at the Gateway Open Studio Tour in Brentwood, Maryland on May 19, 2018. #OST2018

What I saw at the Gateway Open Studio Tour in Hyattsville and Mount Rainier, Maryland on May 19, 2018. #OST2018

What I saw at the Gateway Open Studio Tour in Brentwood, Maryland on May 19, 2018. #OST2018

Gateway Open Studios Tour, May 19, 2018

Gateway Open Studios Tour, May 19, 2018

Gateway Open Studios Tour, May 19, 2018

Gateway Open Studios Tour, May 19, 2018

Gateway Open Studios Tour, May 19, 2018

Gateway Open Studios Tour, May 19, 2018

Gateway Open Studios Tour, May 19, 2018

Next I drove less than a mile north of the Brentwood Arts Exchange where I went to ezStorage.

Gateway Open Studios Tour, May 19, 2018

ezStorage is a nationwide chain of storage facilities. What makes the Brentwood, Maryland location of ezStorage unique is that it has allowed artists to operate studios on the lower level of the building. Some of the studios were closed that day because some of the artists had opted to boycott the second Saturday of the Open Studio Tour.

Gateway Open Studios Tour, May 19, 2018

There was one studio that closed early due to a family emergency.

Gateway Open Studios Tour, May 19, 2018

There were a couple of available spaces where one can set up his/her own art studio.

Gateway Open Studios Tour, May 19, 2018

There were a couple of ezStorage studios that were opened that day and I was fortunate to be able to see some of the art that was created in that location.

Gateway Open Studios Tour, May 19, 2018

Gateway Open Studios Tour, May 19, 2018

Gateway Open Studios Tour, May 19, 2018

I drove on south until I reached Mount Rainier, where the traffic was clogged because it was also Mount Rainier Day. I managed to find parking a few blocks away from the main action on Route 1 so it was okay.

I was initially surprised to find that ReCreative Spaces was on the list of participants in the Open Studio Tour because I was told that the place had to close down earlier this year because operating it wasn’t sustainable.

Gateway Open Studios Tour, May 19, 2018

I went inside to find two people associated with ReCreative Spaces who told me that the person who was in charge of the place has since moved on but there are new people who are thinking of ways to somehow revive the place. ReCreative Spaces had some art on display but it was all on the lower level. The place was empty of most furniture and there was nothing on the upper level. Only time will tell whether ReCreative Spaces will be revived to its former glory or not. At least the art that was on display that day looked nice.

Gateway Open Studios Tour, May 19, 2018

Gateway Open Studios Tour, May 19, 2018

Gateway Open Studios Tour, May 19, 2018

I went on to the Gateway Media Arts Lab, which had a variety of art on display by local artists.

Gateway Open Studios Tour, May 19, 2018

Gateway Open Studios Tour, May 19, 2018

Gateway Open Studios Tour, May 19, 2018

Gateway Open Studios Tour, May 19, 2018

Gateway Open Studios Tour, May 19, 2018

Gateway Open Studios Tour, May 19, 2018

Gateway Open Studios Tour, May 19, 2018

Gateway Open Studios Tour, May 19, 2018

Gateway Open Studios Tour, May 19, 2018

I saw portraits of famous people like Prince, Tupac Shakur, and Redd Foxx.

Gateway Open Studios Tour, May 19, 2018

I also saw more art based on Frida Kahlo.

Gateway Open Studios Tour, May 19, 2018

I also saw this mixed-media art piece featuring a Barbie doll and the Minions from the Despicable Me movies.

Gateway Open Studios Tour, May 19, 2018

The last place I visited on the Open Studio Tour was at Joe’s Movement Emporium, which has this gorgeous butterfly mural outside its doors.

Gateway Open Studio Tour, May 19, 2018

I didn’t stay long in Joe’s Movement Emporium because it was towards the end of the day and I really needed to use the bathroom. I managed to view the art that was on display in the hallway.

Gateway Open Studio Tour, May 19, 2018

While I was in Mount Rainier I checked out Mount Rainier Day, which is an annual neighborhood celebration. There were activities for children, live performances, and people walking around dressed up as Mickey Mouse and Spider-Man.

Mount Rainier Day

Mount Rainier Day

Mount Rainier Day

Mount Rainier Day

Mount Rainier Day

Mount Rainier Day

Mount Rainier Day

Mount Rainier Day

Mount Rainier Day

Mount Rainier Day

One of the lanes that comprise Route 1 was temporarily shut down in order to make room for vendor booths which sold a variety of handcrafted goods and services. That turned into a traffic snarl as the cars had to share one of the lanes for the duration of the festival. But there were a variety of nice stuff available for sale.

Mount Rainier Day

Mount Rainier Day

Mount Rainier Day

Mount Rainier Day

The Mount Rainier Public Library was actually giving away free books to anyone who was passing by.

Mount Rainier Day

I browsed the tables until I found a copy of Marguerite Henry’s classic book Misty of Chincoteague. I read that book as a child (along with its sequels Sea Star: Orphan of Chincoteague and Stormy, Misty’s Foal) and I loved it. I had also made numerous visits to what the books says is the birthplace of Misty, Assateague Island. (Although the official Misty of Chincoteague site said that the real-life Misty was born in captivity in Chincoteague.) In any case, you can see the Misty of Chincoteague book among the pile of books waiting to be taken away to new homes.

Mount Rainier Day

I had a good day walking the Open Studio Tour despite the Facebook drama. Hopefully there will be another Open Studio Tour next year with less online drama than this year.

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Ramadan

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Suhad al-Khateeb, the first female communist elected in Iraq’s holiest city, calls for social justice.

How Amazon is holding Seattle hostage.

A look at why babies in medieval paintings look like middle-aged men.

Between financial troubles, lawsuits, and trailer park brawls, has the alt-right peaked?

New NRA President Oliver North once worked with cocaine traffickers to arm terrorists.

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How American racism influenced Hitler.

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The Internet Archive “liberates” books published between 1923 and 1941 and will put 10,000 digitized books online.

Almost all violent extremists share one thing: their gender.

What it’s like to work in the sex industry in the wake of #MeToo.

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An open letter that every LGBTQ+ person needs to read.

A presidential historian speaks out about Donald Trump.

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Ramadan

Fan art featuring 30 Disney cartoon girls reimagined as grown-ups.

Why aren’t people talking more about Latinos killed by police?

Will Donald Trump destroy the presidency?

A look at vintage Polaroids of Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill and other Star Wars actors taken during the making of Return of the Jedi.

Undercover author finds Amazon warehouse workers in UK peed in bottles over fears of being punished for taking a break.

Understanding the difference between race and ethnicity.

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A look at the 13 lesser known members of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Ex-Facebook president Sean Parker said that the site was made to exploit human vulnerability.

15 tattooed seniors answer the question: “What will it look like in 40 years?”

How these lava lamps are securing the Internet.

Behold the unnervingly rectangular livestock of pastoral art.

Watch as a 17th century portrait emerges from 200 years of discolored varnish.

Why job hunters don’t find work.

A profile of the man who is helping Americans access safe drinking water.

Why the US fails at worker training.

Somebody wrote an email bot to waste scammers’ time.

Twist fabric scraps into colorful twine.

This “Ordinary People vs. Creative People” comic has spawned a very creative meme.

Neoliberalm has conned us into fighting climate change as individuals.

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Ramadan

So Harvey Weinstein finally got arrested for his misdeeds. I’m glad it happened. And to think that all those years when I (along with several friends and relatives) watched many of the movies that Harvey Weinstein had helped to release to the general public, we were unwittingly financing a lifestyle that enabled him to sexually prey on so many young women who just wanted to enter into the very competitive film industry. It was this expose that Ronan Farrow wrote for The New Yorker last year that gave rise to the whole #MeToo/#TimesUp movement.

It was the movement that gave me the nerve to create this recent painting that openly questioned my ex-husband’s decision to leave me for a severely mentally ill woman and the ugly possibility that he may be a sexual predator while pairing it with an equally ugly 2004 quote from Donald Trump (who is now President of the United States).

A Different Kind of #MeToo Story
Acrylic paint
9 inch x 12 inch
23 cm x 30 cm

I wrote more about this painting at length a few months ago. I just want to say that there was a case in Connecticut that’s nearly identical to our situation (a married man had an affair with a severely mentally ill woman) that resulted in a $630,000 judgement against the man. This link on the Criminal Defense Lawyer website does mention that having sex with a mentally ill person could constitute rape.

I’m very glad that the #TimesUp/#MeToo movement came about and there may come a day where there is zero tolerance for sexual harassment, sexual assault, and rape. I’m really hoping that one day karma will come to people like my ex-husband and he’ll have to face the consequences of his actions just like Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein are currently facing.

And on that note, I’m going to repost this ink drawing that I did last year for Inktober that’s a satire ad for the Harvey Weinstein action figure.

Not too long ago I went to the annual Women’s Retreat at my church. I took a workshop on acrylic painting that was led by a woman who managed to get a bunch of small canvases, acrylic paint, and brushes we could use. The idea was to paint our feelings and we could even tap into the current #MeToo movement that has risen up around the world in the wake of the rape, sexual abuse, and sexual harassment that has risen up around Harvey Weinstein.

I took the whole #MeToo thing seriously because I painted something based on a thought that had long been in the back of my mind and it’s based on what happened when my marriage ended.

A Different Kind of #MeToo Story
Acrylic paint
9 inch x 12 inch
23 cm x 30 cm

I was inspired by the art I’ve seen at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore over the past few years where I’ve seen art done by people with little or not formal art training. I’ve seen paintings that had writing on them so I decided to experiment with doing something similar.

For the top of the painting I wrote: “A different kind of #MeToo story: When your significant other sexually preys on a severely mentally ill woman and the law can’t or won’t stop him.”

For the bottom of the painting, I paired it with a Donald Trump quote from 2004 that surfaced during the 2016 presidential campaign and it triggered me. Here’s the quote: “[She] is probably deeply troubled and therefore great in bed.” While I’ve had so many friends tell me that they don’t understand why he left me for someone with so many problems, I have to admit that this crass quote from Donald Trump has provided some kind of insight. Although I can’t really say that it’s the main reason why he left me for her, it’s definitely a possible explanation.

I painted some cartoony versions of the three people in the middle of this love triangle. None of them bore any kind of resemblance to any real-life people, which is just as well because I wasn’t in the mood to spend tons of time trying to come up with realistic depictions of real-life people. I just wanted to paint the raw emotions in an impressionistic style. (Although I inadvertently made the man into someone who looked like a cross between John Lennon and Jerry Garcia. LOL!)

I had all of those pent-up emotions from the last few years and I really expressed them in that painting. For years I had gone to great lengths to avoid expressing too much about my feelings regarding my husband leaving me for a woman with severe mental health issues (with the exception of the sessions with my therapist and attending meetings of a support group for people who are separated or divorced) because many of my friends are still in contact with my ex-husband and I didn’t want to drive them away if I bashed my ex too much around them. I also feared that someone would go to my ex and say “Boy you should hear what your ex-wife have said about you!” and he would retaliate by withholding alimony or try some other kind of shenanigans against me. After seeing his ugly side throughout the entire separation and divorce process, I’m inclined to believe the worst about him these days.

It was so difficult when that horrible quote from Donald Trump about how he felt that troubled women were great in bed had surfaced and it unearthed memories of when my husband left me for a severely mentally ill woman and he even married her just two months after our divorce was final.

Now that my alimony has run out I feel a little bit freer to express my feelings about how my marriage ended. But I still can’t openly dwell too much on it because I don’t want to appear as a very angry and bitter woman who ends up alienating my friends.

I have anger issues towards my ex that still remain to this day. It was bad enough that my ex had never indicated that he was the least bit unhappy until he arrived home three days after Christmas, announced that he was moving out, then bolted out the door before I could even say anything. On top of it, he left three months after I underwent hip surgery so I couldn’t even run after him without grabbing my walker, unfolding it, then shuffling outside. By that time he would’ve been in his car and driving off.

I was shocked when he left. I thought that his mind had simply snapped because he had to deal with my health issues at the time, the stresses at his NASA job, undergoing stress each Sunday when he served as the Treasurer at our church and he had to constantly keep close track of the church’s finances, and the fact that he came down with bronchitis. That night I wrote this post where I expressed hope that he would soon return home.

Things grew worse when my friends told me that he left me for a friend of ours who has mental health issues so severe that she had told people that she has an experimental pacemaker in her brain. She had an incident just 10 months before he left me for her where she spent a few days at Sheppard Pratt Hospital in Baltimore. Just a few weeks before my husband left she had announced that she qualified to start receiving SSDI disability payments.

The fact that he left me for a woman with severe mental health issues gave me a not-too-subtle message that he would have stayed with me only if I had developed my own serious mental health issues.

At one point I wrote this post about my husband running away from home because I learned that another blog was looking for stories about people overcoming adversity. I did everything that required from me regarding being featured in that other blog only to never hear back from the blogger in question. I found out later that the blog decided that it would no longer post other people’s stories about overcoming adversity, which was why I never heard back from that blog. (That blog is still online but it is now a lifestyle blog that’s heavily focused on interior design.) My blog post about my runaway husband has been ranked among my most viewed posts of all time.

I was also rankled back in late January when I went to church without checking what the topic of the service was beforehand. I arrived to find out that the Men’s Group was doing a lay-led service and my ex was among the speakers. He began his bit when he said  “My marriage fell apart…” That had me livid because that statement implied that either I had left him or our marriage had broken down over a long period of time because we were arguing and not getting along so we both made the mutual decision to separate. What he said was total bullshit because he didn’t even indicate that he was the least bit unhappy until he left.

I’ve had a few people ask me if I ever intend to stay friends with my ex. Here’s the thing: If a woman had her marriage end after she learned that her husband had sex with a 12-year-old girl, would you ask her if she ever intend to stay friends with her ex? Chances are you would answer “no” because not only is having sex with a 12-year-old girl is considered to be morally and ethically wrong but it’s also illegal in most states these days.

I know you’re probably asking why would I compare having sex with a mentally ill woman with sex with a 12-year-old girl. Well I’ve done some Internet searches on Google regarding having sex with a severely mentally ill person. This link on the Criminal Defense Lawyer website has this to say about the issue:

Lack of consent is the crucial component of sex crimes. Sexual conduct becomes criminal when sexual touch is not consented to, either because the offender forces another person to be sexual against his or her will, or because the other person is considered incapable of consent or to have a diminished mental capacity to give consent. Those who are deemed incapable of consent include minors under the age of fourteen or fifteen, regardless of their mental abilities to understand the nature of the act and their ability to refuse (but see “Sexual Conduct with a Minor,” below). In addition, sex with the following people is criminal if they do not have the capacity to knowingly consent:

  • a developmentally disabled person
  • someone who is mentally ill, and
  • a person who is incapacitated – drugged, drunk, or unconscious – or otherwise physically helpless.

There’s not much about any court trials related to the issue of having sex with a mentally ill person. There was a case in 1990 where a man in Wisconsin was put on trial for sexually assaulting a woman with multiple personality disorder by encouraging the woman to allow one of her more compliant personalities to surface so he would be more likely to score with her.

There was another case in Connecticut that is nearly identical to my situation. Like my situation, a married man entered into a sexual relationship with a mentally ill woman. (This particular case included BDSM, which I can’t even say whether my ex and the other woman engage in or not.) Unlike my situation, the mentally ill woman subsequently died (I wasn’t able to determine whether she committed suicide or if she died of something else). Her mother filed a lawsuit against the man and it resulted in a $630,000 judgement against the man.

Unfortunately I’ve come to a dead end because the law is pretty inconsistent regarding having sex with mentally ill people. On top of it, there are plenty of mentally ill people who have been able to lead normal lives thanks to various treatments and therapies so these high-functioning people are just as capable of consenting to sex as other adults.

At the end of the day, the only thing I could do was to warn anyone with female friends or relatives with mental illness to not let that woman be alone with my husband for even a minute. My warning is based on the fact that I had friends later tell me that while I was home recuperating from hip surgery, he was frequenting a non-profit cooperative cafe a few nights a week where she volunteered as a bartender and they saw him aggressively flirting with her. After he left home, those same friends saw him take her on dates to that same non-profit cooperative cafe where she volunteered so they soon learned why he left me.

All I know is that my ex-husband has a cousin who spent time in prison after he was convicted of sexually abusing a 12-year-old boy he met while he volunteered in a mentoring program for children of single parents. (The cousin was partnered with the boy and they hit it off pretty well. He then invited the boy over to his apartment for an unsupervised sleepover and the boy accused him of sexual molestation. The cousin said he was innocent but there were no other witnesses at that sleepover that night. It was the cousin’s word against the boy’s word and the law sided with the boy.) To me what my ex-husband is doing makes him little better than his cousin. At least she’s an adult and not a child but she has severe mental health issues and I really think that if he was really concerned with her as a person, he would leave her alone and let her figure out how to live her life on her own terms. (By the way, my ex-husband and his cousin are both the grandsons of the famed diabetes researcher Michael Somogyi.)

The most frustrating thing about this is that had I learned that my husband was having sex with a 12-year-old girl, I could report him to the authorities. But since the person in question is an adult woman, I can’t do anything because the law is so vague and inconsistent regarding sex with the mentally ill.

As much as I would love for the law to take a strong look at the mentally ill and consensual sex, I have other pressing matters going on in my life that needs attention so I have no other choice but to let this go. I hope the law changes one day so that people like my ex-husband would have to be held accountable for their actions.

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To save Net Neutrality, we must build our own Internet.

When blue chips fall like dominoes.

The deranged Twitter thread that proves that establishment liberals have lost their minds.

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Here’s an online trove of historic sewing patterns and costumes.

An essay on being biracial without identity issues.

The 11 most unintentionally hilarious religious paintings.

“Protest Matters” museum shows what resistance looks like.

Mardi Gras

Robot in the Park
Mixed media (circuit board, rubber superball, tin, plastic 8-ball, string, glass beads, sticker, and acrylic paint on canvas)
5 inches x 5 inches
13 cm x 13 cm

I got the idea for this project when the plug of my cell phone charger literally broke apart. I noticed that there was a tiny circuit board inside of that plug. I began to think of creating a tiny art project utilizing this tiny circuit board that would be similar to my previous Robot Diavolino.

But then I didn’t do anything with that circuit board for a number of months. In the meantime I found a tiny rubber superball on the floor of my home with a smiley face printed on it. I don’t remember how I got that superball because it’s not something I would buy for myself since I had outgrown superballs a long time ago and I don’t have any young children who would play with one. It was way too small to donate to a thrift shop. I thought about throwing it away until I remembered that tiny circuit board and I figured that it would make a perfect head for my circuit board should I ever do anything creative with it. I put the two away in the same box then I forgot about them for a while longer.

I finally got around to making something with that circuit board and superball. What prompted it was that I learned that a local art gallery was having a call to artists and it was looking for art which used recycled materials.

So I finally purchased a small canvas, painted the background with acrylic paint, then assembled the robot itself. For the arms and legs I used glass beads that I had lying around the house. (I used to make jewelry to sell at local shows but I quit doing it because it never really sold well plus many local craft shows were inundated with jewelry tables and there were some craft shows that had a glut of jewelry. I basically threw in the towel because there was just too much competition.) For the hands and feet I used tin that was cut from the sides of an Altoids tin with special metal cutters. As for the 8-ball balloon, I found half of a plastic 8-ball on the floor of a local laundromat (which I sometimes cut through on my way to the shopping mall entrance). It looked like it came from a gumball machine. I pocketed that 8-ball half and used that for the balloon. I had some twine lying around the house, which made a perfectly scaled balloon string. Finally I used a heart-shaped sticker for the robot’s chest, which came from a book of Valentine’s Day-themed stickers that I purchased from a local arts and crafts store for only $1 a few years ago.

I managed to get this project finished just in time for the art gallery’s deadline. (I submitted this piece along with my Robot Diavolino.) I have yet to find out whether it has been accepted or not as of this writing. Regardless of whether it gets into that show or now, I’m pretty happy with how this project turned out.

Last year I went to the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore because it has free admission on Martin Luther King Day. (The regular admission price is $15.95 for adults under 60 and $13.95 for people age 60 and up.) I had a blast even though I arrived too late in the day to get a free slice of birthday cake that the museum usually serves for that occasion. This year I decided to do it again except I made every effort to wake up early and get out of the door so I could arrive by noon (when the birthday cake would be served).

So I managed to arrive earlier than last year while braving the cold weather (the temperature was in the low 20’s that day). I took the light rail into the city then transferred to the Charm City Circulator bus. I managed to arrive shortly before noon. The main disadvantage is that the museum was way more crowded than I remembered last year when I arrived later in the afternoon. But I still tried to make the best of my visit since it was free admission day.

One of the buildings had a new exhibition which featured this giant dragon sculpture that was made entirely from balloons.

There were a few wall hangings that were literally displayed on the ceiling of that building.

I managed to arrive on the third floor of the building where the birthday cake was being served along with a few other activities as well. There was an opportunity to create buttons, which I didn’t get to do because the museum had run out of button making supplies by the time I arrived. But I managed to get a photo of a couple who were able to make buttons.

The entertainment featured a children’s gospel choir known as the Cardinal Shehan School Choir, who came from one of the local Catholic schools in Baltimore. This group has been featured on Good Morning America after one of their videos went viral. After hearing them, I understood why because this choir was so phenomenal, especially since the singers were all children.

In fact, I shot this video of them doing their final number called “Rise Up” that I think you will definitely enjoy.

While the choir was performing I got a chance to look at the birthday cakes that were served to the general public on a first-come, first-served basis. The cakes were available in a variety of flavors.

The museum also gave out a variety of hot beverages (including hot chocolate and a few different flavors of tea). The next photo shows my cup of hot chocolate and the slice of cake that I chose.

This next photo should give you an idea as to how crowded this room got with people making buttons and consuming cake and hot drinks.

I stepped out of the balcony on that third floor where I got a great view of both the museum’s main building and Federal Hill.

Once I finished eating my cake and the choir finished performing its set, I left that large and crowded room and explored the rest of the museum where I took these pictures.

The museum had this special exhibit called The Great Mystery Show, which featured art related to science and mysticism. This NASA astronaut sculpture in the next photo had me thinking about how my ex-husband would’ve loved this since he works for NASA and he told me that he once wanted to become an astronaut only to find out that his eyesight would’ve been considered too poor for such a position. (He managed to study computer programming so he found another way of working for NASA even if he never became an astronaut.)

The statue in the next two photos intrigued me because it was made mostly from sea shells.

The most memorable part of the museum was seeing this sculpture of Edgar Allan Poe that was made entirely from marshmallow Peeps.

The base of the Poe sculpture was flanked by a black cat and a raven, who were both also made from marshmallow Peeps. (Those two were references to two of Poe’s famous works—The Black Cat and The Raven.)

Near the Poe sculpture was this heart that was made from glass, which was a reference to another famous Poe piece known as The Tell-Tale Heart.

The most surreal part of the museum was seeing a TV monitor that had non-stop showings of Martin Luther King giving his famous “I Have a Dream” speech while the monitor was flanked by flowers, tarot cards, two gold masks, and an Ouija board.

I was amazed by this life-sized sculpture of what looked like the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz.

I found this interesting recipe posted on the museum wall that I would like to try at some point in the future.


I really liked this colorful and funky cat illustration.

This dress looked like it was made from glass with all of the glass beads.

I couldn’t resist taking a picture of this inspirational quote from Leonardo da Vinci regarding science and art.

I really liked this next photo, which is a painting of Albert Einstein.

I was also amazed by what this one artist did with small tins (such as a sardine tin and a tin box that was about the size of a pack of Altoids). This person created scenes with paper cutouts. The tiny details were astounding.

I made only one purchase at that museum. I found this crochet pattern book for $5 that was about creating tiny equipment, furniture, and buildings that were small enough for LEGO Minifigs, tiny dolls, and other types of tiny toys. It looked really interesting.

Even though I had that slice of cake, it was no substitute for lunch and I was starting to feel hungry as I was touring the museum. I thought about eating in the museum’s cafe until I saw that it was very crowded. I began to become tired of the throngs of people who were crowding in the museum because they were also taking advantage of the free admission. I decided to leave the museum and walk along the Inner Harbor while taking some photos. This next photo shows a building in the middle that’s under construction complete with a construction crane.

The weather had been mostly non-stop freezing since Christmas with an exception of a couple of days when the temperature reached the low 50’s just a couple of days before MLK Day. Unfortunately that respite was short-lived and the area was plunged into yet another deep freeze. The next few pictures clearly show the effects of the below-freezing temperatures had on the water itself where you can clearly see ice that had been forming.

Some of the litter thrown into the Inner Harbor had been encased in ice.

A pair of ducks were swimming in the non-icy portions of the water.

These stone installations resembled three Adirondack chairs.

The next photo shows the statue of William Donald Schaefer, who served as the mayor of Baltimore and governor of Maryland.

I walked by Harborplace where I visited It’s Sugar.

 

I bought a few things in that store, including a special pack of Skittles that  was known as “Sweet Heat” because spices were added to the candy. I tried them and I found the spicy taste to be interesting but, to be honest, I prefer regular Skittles.

I bought a small box of this treat called Marshmallow Madness. The idea is based on the Lucky Charms cereal except that the cereal part has been excluded so all you get is just small colored marshmallows in a variety of shapes. I’ve seen Marshmallow Madness be available in cereal-sized boxes. On this trip I saw that there were smaller box versions of Marshmallow Madness so I decided to buy it to see what it tasted like.

My verdict is that while the marshmallows are tasty, I found myself missing the cereal part. (I used to frequently eat Lucky Charms cereal as a child. Even though I rarely eat presweetened cereal these days, I still found myself lamenting the lack of cereal in Marshmallow Madness. I guess old habits die hard. LOL!)

I purchased a pack of orange-flavored Donald Trump-themed gummy candy known as Make America Sweet Again mainly because the package design was such a hoot. I took a bunch of detailed photographs of this product so you’ll get the idea.

I haven’t opened that candy as of this writing. I have an idea of doing something creative with this candy so I don’t want to just eat it right now, especially since there are only two It’s Sugar locations in the entire Baltimore-Washington, DC area (one at Harborplace and the other in the Chinatown area of DC) and I don’t really live close to either location so I can’t shop there too often.

I took a couple of photos of Harborplace, which showed it becoming more and more of a dead mall. This was shot on Martin Luther King Day when a lot of people are off from school and work. I remember Harborplace in better days when it used to draw a huge crowd of shoppers. I remember the days when I made special trips to this place so I could spend the day there. Despite the presence of It’s Sugar, H&M, and Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditorium, this pavilion is still pretty much empty. I didn’t even bother with visiting the other pavilion because I know it’s the same situation from previous visits. Too bad, so sad.

The sign announcing a “New Tradition” at Harborplace that “Begins Fall 2016” had me laughing. Or maybe having a mostly empty mall is Harborplace’s idea of a “new tradition.” LOL!

The only area of Harborplace where I saw quite a few people was at the temporary ice skating rink that was set outside of one of the pavilions.

There weren’t really a lot of affordable place to eat lunch at. (I still remember the old days when that pavilion I had just visited used to have an entire floor dedicated to a food court that had all kinds of foods ranging from pizza to sushi to Chinese to Subway subs.) I decided to go to the Così that’s located across the street from the Baltimore Convention Center for a late lunch. Except when I arrived just 15 minutes before 3 p.m. I saw a notice on the door saying that Così would be closing early at 3 p.m. for MLK Day. I basically got my lunch to go and walked around the area looking for an appropriate place to eat lunch. Unfortunately it was way too cold to eat anywhere outside. I ultimately walked to the Hilton Baltimore where I sat down in one of the cushions in the lobby and quietly consumed my TBM (tomato, basil, and mozzarella) sandwich with a bag of potato chips and a Diet Coke. That hotel was very empty that day where the staffers outnumbered everyone else.

After I finished lunch, I decided that it was time to head back to the light rail station and get out of the city. I walked past Orioles Park at Camden Yards and took this one last photo. The place definitely looked pretty sad and deserted in the off-season. Baseball season will begin in a few months so this area will have a lot of Baltimore Oriole fans entering through those gates. (It also reminded me of the fact that the last time I attended a game there was back in 2007. It was the year before my hip replacement and it was also when I was still married because I used to accompany my husband to those games. I don’t know when I’ll ever attend another game there in person.)

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