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It’s been two years since I last went to this annual event, which traditionally closes the weeks-long National Cherry Blossom Festival. The last time I was there, the Sakura Matsuri was held on Pennsylvania Avenue right next to the Old Post Office Building (which was then undergoing renovation into the Trump International Hotel—you can see those giant blue TRUMP signs in the background of some of the photos I took during that event).

Since that time the event has been relocated. It is now held at the Navy Yards near Nationals Park. I don’t know if Donald Trump have had a hand in that festival’s relocation or not but it doesn’t matter because I don’t have to see those Trump International Hotel signs.

Like previous Sakura Matsuri festivals, this one was a celebration of all aspects of Japanese culture including anime, J-pop, J-rock, kendo, and traditional Japanese crafts. There were also a lot of cosplayers walking around. Here are the photos I took of the Sakura Matsuri.

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This year is the 60th anniversary of the publication of what has got to be the strangest yet most unique children’s book ever published. The Lonely Doll by Dare Wright was a New York Times bestseller right alongside Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat when it was first released but, unlike the Dr. Seuss book, The Lonely Doll has gone out of print only to get reissued years later. It also hasn’t aged as well as The Cat in the Hat due in large part to the notorious spanking scene, which I’ll get to in a little bit.

Here’s a personal confession: I had never read any of The Lonely Doll books as a child. I know that for sure because those books have such a unique design that I would have remembered reading them if I did. I still have memories of reading those Little Golden Books that my mother used to pick up for me when she went grocery shopping, mainly because those books were priced pretty cheap. I also remember reading books written by Dr. Seuss and other books featuring characters like Clifford the Big Red Dog, Curious George, and Babar the Elephant. But I definitely don’t recall reading The Lonely Doll.

I first learned about The Lonely Doll as an adult when I read reviews of Jean Nathan’s biography of Dare Wright called The Secret Life of the Lonely Doll: The Search for Dare Wright. I read that book years ago and I found it fascinating. That book initially got the cooperation of Wright’s sole heir, Brook Ashley, who has since disavowed it. You may want to keep that in mind if you decide to read Nathan’s biography.

I finally found The Lonely Doll and one of its sequels, Edith & Mr. Bear, in a store. Having read both books, I’m basically of two minds. Artistically they are lovely but the stories that accompany them basically had me going “WTF?!?”

The Lonely Doll is the spiritual ancestor of all those doll photostories that one can easily find on the Internet in places like SuperInky.com,  DeviantArt’s bjd-club, and the Instagram #AGIG group. The big difference is that The Lonely Doll was created in an era when there was no World Wide Web or social media. In fact the forerunner of the Internet—known as ARPANET—wouldn’t go online for the first time until 1958 and access to ARPANET was limited only to government workers with high security clearances. That book initially received wide attention mainly because Dare Wright managed to convince a major book publisher to publish and distribute it in schools, libraries, and bookstores.

Film photography was the only photography option that was available at that time, which meant that a photographer was limited to—based on film length—12, 24, or 36 exposures. In addition, a photographer didn’t know if a picture turned out correct until after the film was developed. Many photographers routinely took several shots of the same subject from different exposures and different angles in the hopes of getting at least one perfect photograph. Black and white photography was still common in 1957 mainly because it was less expensive than color photography.

The Lonely Doll was published in 1957 and it became an immediate sensation due to its unusual design. Normally a children’s book would feature illustrations done in a variety of media (such as ink, watercolor, mixed-media, etc.). What stands The Lonely Doll apart from the others is its use of black and white photography to illustrate the story. The photographs are quite effective in that they bring out an expressive quality in the doll and two teddy bears who are depicted in the story. Here’s a typical photograph from the book.

The accompanying story is incredibly full of WTF?!? Here’s the basic gist: There was a doll named Edith who lives in a nice townhouse in New York City. She has everything that a doll could ever want except for one thing: friends to share it with. She spends much of her time wishing and praying that God or someone would just send her a friend or two.

One day two teddy bears show up to the front steps of Edith’s home out of the blue. The larger teddy bear is known as Mr. Bear while the smaller one is known as Little Bear. The two teddy bears say that they would like to move in with her and be her friends. Edith is so overjoyed that her wish has come true that she never wonders where these teddy bears have come from or how they found out that she existed or how they knew that she needed their friendship. It’s obvious that the two bears have a father and son relationship even though Little Bear always calls the bigger one Mr. Bear instead of Dad, Daddy, or Papa.

Little Bear treats Edith as an equal and they frequently play together and have a good time. Mr. Bear, on the other hand, proceeds to take command of the house by bossing Edith and Little Bear around and scolding them if they do something that Mr. Bear does not approve of. Never mind the fact that Edith was the one who had the house first and Mr. Bear is someone who has just moved in instead of the other way around. Edith seems to tolerate Mr. Bear ordering her around.

One rainy day Mr. Bear grabs an umbrella and tells Edith and Little Bear that he has to go somewhere. He doesn’t tell them where he’s going or why he’s going without taking Edith or Little Bear with him. He tells Edith and Little Bear to not get into any trouble then leaves.

Edith and Little Bear are frustrated because Mr. Bear has left the home without them plus they can’t play outside because it’s raining. Little Bear suggests exploring around the house and they come across a dressing room with a mirror, clothes, shoes, jewelry, and other accessories. Edith and Little Bear play dress up by trying on various clothes and jewelry while making a mess in the room. At one point Little Bear grabs a tube of lipstick and writes “Mr. Bear is a silly old thing” on the mirror. He encourages Edith to put lipstick on even though she says that Mr. Bear had previously told her that she’s not allowed to use lipstick. Edith puts on the lipstick at the moment that Mr. Bear has not only returned home but he’s standing at the entrance to the dressing room. When Mr. Bear scolds the two for the mess that they’ve made and especially scolds Edith for trying on lipstick, she briefly gets a backbone and stands up for herself by saying that she has the right to use lipstick while calling Mr. Bear a silly. That brief bit of Edith standing up for herself leads to the notorious spanking scene where Mr. Bear first puts Edith over his knee and whips her bottom then he does the same to Little Bear.

After spanking both Edith and Little Bear, Mr. Bear tells the two to clean up the mess and orders Edith to stop crying before leaving the room. Edith continues to cry to the extent that even Little Bear is getting annoyed. Edith tells Little Bear that she’s afraid that Mr. Bear will leave and take Little Bear with him and she’ll become (gasp!) a lonely doll again!

Little Bear encourages Edith to help him clean up the mess. Both Edith and Little Bear apologize to Mr. Bear, who says that they can all forget about the incident. Edith asks Mr. Bear if he’ll stay and the story ends with Mr. Bear and Little Bear assuring Edith that they’ll stay with her forever and ever. Never again will Edith ever have to worry about being a lonely doll.

It may be that story’s idea of a happy ending but, for me, it would be a total nightmare.

Ever since my marriage imploded in late 2011 I’ve gotten involved with a divorce recovery group where we’ve discussed codependency, how destructive codependency can be, how to identify a codependent relationship, and how to avoid getting into one in the future. This book basically sends a message to kids that it’s better to be in a codependent relationship with someone who orders you around and even spanks you if you get too far out of line than to live alone. That’s totally messed up thinking.

Then there’s the spanking scene itself.

Notice how Edith is dressed in a short slip with her panties showing. Then there’s the “ooh-la-la” expression on her face that makes that scene look like a sexy BDSM scene with a doll and teddy bears. And Mr. Bear’s face seems totally fixated on Edith’s butt.

I once did a photographic parody of that spanking scene for an art exhibition a few years ago. I used a Volks Dollfie Dream as a stand-in for Edith. I picked this doll because she has a very mature sexy body, which is the complete opposite of the child-like Edith doll. I used a panda bear that I once owned but I’ve since given away when I was downsizing after my marriage collapsed. I even included The Lonely Doll book that was opened to that spanking scene.

Kitsch Series 8: The Spanking

At least I had no pretense that I was doing this with children in mind. This photo was part of an exhibition series called Kitsch. (Link is definitely NSFW.)

The success of The Lonely Doll has led to several sequels. I’ve only read one of them, Edith & Mr. Bear, which was published in 1964.

Once again this book includes photographs that are very well-composed and expressive.

In some ways I think the story in this book is far better than The Lonely Doll because it’s a basic morality story that tries to teach a lesson. By this point Edith and the two bears have been living together for a while and they have been joined by another member of the household—a tiny flesh and blood kitten named, well, Kitten, who has a minor role in this book.

The story begins with Edith and Little Bear waiting near the front door for Mr. Bear to return home from a shopping trip. Mr. Bear arrives with three presents. One is a dress for Edith and the other is a toy boat for Little Bear. The third and biggest package is one that Mr. Bear has purchased for himself—a clock. Edith becomes fascinated by the new clock but Mr. Bear decides to put the clock high upon the mantel so neither Edith nor Little Bear can reach it, play with it, and risk breaking it.

Despite Mr. Bear’s efforts to keep the clock out of the reach of the other two toys, Edith becomes fascinated by the clock to the point of obsession. One day, while she was home alone, Edith drags a pile of books over to the mantel until the pile is big enough for her to reach the clock. Edith climbs up to the mantel and, at long last, she’s able to play around with the inner workings of the clock.

But then she loses her balance and both she and the clock comes tumbling down along with the books. The clock breaks into a lot of little pieces. Edith tries to sweep away the evidence but Mr. Bear finds the pile of broken clock pieces. He brings Edith and Little Bear into the room and demands to know which one of them broke the clock. Edith lies by saying that she didn’t break the clock while Little Bear also denies it as well, except he is telling the truth.

Initially Edith thinks she has gotten away with her lie. But then she begins to feel intense guilt over her lie and her efforts to keep the truth a secret starts to weigh in on her. She’s afraid that Mr. Bear will hate her if he ever knows that she broke the clock. The guilt stresses her out so much that she isn’t able to enjoy her own birthday party and she begins to act cross around Little Bear. Edith attempts to tell Kitten the truth about the broken clock but that wasn’t enough to get rid of the guilt because Kitten never had anything to do with that clock and Kitten can’t say anything beyond “Meow.”

One day the guilt over the clock weighs in so heavy that Edith takes her stress out on Little Bear by ruining his drawing and Little Bear calls her “horrid.” After he leaves in a huff Edith realizes that she has become horrid and she decides that the best thing she can do is run away from home.

So Edith runs away and ends up spending the night on the streets. She goes down to the docks the following day and thinks about boarding one of the boats but then changes her mind when she realizes that if she does so, she’ll never see Mr. Bear or Little Bear ever again.

Edith decides to return home and tell Mr. Bear the truth. After she comes clean about the clock, Mr. Bear tells her that he suspected that it was her all this time and that he knew that it was an accident that she broke the clock. He tells her that he would never have punished her for an accident. He also decides not to punish her for lying because he feels that she has already punished herself with the constant stress and spending the night on the streets. Edith goes to bed happy that she has come clean about what she did and Mr. Bear has forgiven her.

Had the book ended there, it could’ve been an excellent morality story for children showing how telling a lie can have a negative effect on the person telling the lie in the form of guilt and additional stress.

But, sadly, the story continues from there. Edith continues to get into various mischief (such as digging up flower bulbs to see if they have sprouted then replanting them upside down). One day Edith decides to bake something special for Mr. Bear and she starts making a mess in the kitchen while she’s mixing the ingredients. She gets Little Bear to light a match so they can heat the gas stove, despite the fact that Mr. Bear has forbidden the two from even touching matches. Mr. Bear catches them in the act and it leads to another spanking scene.

You get a clear view of Edith’s panties while she’s rubbing her freshly spanked butt.

The book ends with the three of them walking to a nearby park with Little Bear bringing his toy boat to float in the pond.

After reading those books, one could be forgiven for wondering what kind of person would write a series of books like this. Looking at Dare Wright’s life provides all kinds of insights as to why she would write them.

Dare Wright was born in Vaughan, Ontario, Canada in 1914 as the younger of two children in a dysfunctional and deteriorating marriage. Her father, Ivan Wright, was a theater critic while her mother, Edith “Edie” Stevenson Wright, was an artist.

Her parents’ marriage was strained by Ivan’s descent into alcoholism and his frequent job switching. Edie tried to make ends meet by painting portraits. The marriage ended in a divorce that grew so divisive that each parent ultimately took custody of only one child while cutting off all further contact with the former spouse and the other child. As a result, Dare would never see her father again since he died a few years later. She wouldn’t be reunited with her older brother, Blaine, until after both siblings were well into their 20’s.

Basically Dare Wright was raised as an only child of a divorced single parent long before that kind of family unit was common.

Edie and Dare settled in Cleveland when Edie found that she could make a living painting portraits of that city’s wealthy elites while Dare attended Coventry Elementary School. At one point Edie purchased a doll for her daughter. It was a felt doll made by the Italian company Lenci. The doll was known as the Lenci 109/14 series and she originally had brown curly hair. The doll was named Edith after the mother but I was never able to find out whether it was a name that Dare gave to the doll or if Edie had insisted that the doll be named after her and Dare went along with it.

Soon after the doll purchase Edie sent Dare to begin the fourth grade at the Laurel School, an all-girls’ boarding school in Cleveland. Dare attended that school all the way through high school. After she graduated from the Laurel School in 1933, she migrated to New York City where she attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Her stage acting career reached no further than landing a small part in a touring company production of Pride and Prejudice. She switched to modeling where she had better luck landing jobs. At some point, probably as a result of her modeling jobs, she became fascinated with photography and she obtained her own camera. She became so adept at photography that she became a fashion photographer.

Her career took a new turn when she was reunited with Edith the doll during one of her visits with her mother. By this point she was also reunited with her brother Blaine, who purchased two teddy bears for her from FAO Schwarz. The larger was a Schuco bear while the smaller was a Stieff. The three toys served as the basis for The Lonely Doll books.

Dare replaced Edith the doll’s original brown hair with a new blonde wig with bangs that can be worn in a ponytail. That doll wig is similar to how Dare Wright wore her own hair in real life, thus fueling speculation that Edith the Lonely Doll is a stand-in for Dare Wright in these books.

Blaine Wright was a lifelong bachelor who never had children of his own. Dare Wright was once engaged to one of Blaine’s friends until her fiancee broke off the engagement. Otherwise, Dare never married nor had any children. Both siblings became alcoholics. One doesn’t have to be a psychiatrist to guess that their parents’ devastating divorce that separated the siblings for many years may have had something to do with what became of them later in life.

One also doesn’t have to be an expert to guess that The Lonely Doll series probably portrayed an alternate reality in Dare Wright’s life as she tried to explore what would have happened if she had ended up growing up with her father and brother instead of her mother—including a scenario where she gets spanked by her father whenever she’s bad.

Should parents buy this book for their children? My only suggestion is for you to read the book before giving it to your child so you can decide for yourself whether it’s something that’s appropriate for your child to read. All I can say is that The Lonely Doll books are definitely a far cry from Dr. Seuss.

I stopped by Annapolis Mall for the first time in a few years. I remember when I made my weekly visit to that mall on the way to visiting Arundel Medical Center. That was in the wake of my hip revision surgery in 2011 when, during physical therapy, the physical therapist noticed that my wound wasn’t healing so she urged me to see the surgeon who then referred me to that hospital’s Wound Center. Each week I had to visit that Wound Center while the doctor there dug out sutures that had pushed its way through my wound. (My body had a reaction to the internal sutures so it chose to keep my wound open to push the fragmented sutures through. The Wound Center doctor told me that it’s similar to how the body pushes up a splinter.)

I usually went to the Annapolis Mall on the way to the Wound Center where I hung around this cafe that had free wi-fi. I would surf the web while drinking hot chocolate and eating a snack of some kind until it was appointment time. That cafe has since been replaced by an ice cream stand known as Menchie’s. It has pretty cool mosaic tile art. It looks like one of those build-your-own sundae places. (I didn’t eat there. I would like to try it sometime in the future.)

Another store I don’t recall seeing before is Lolli and Pops, which is a candy store with a really cool looking interior.

Lolli and Pops has every kind of candy imaginable from all over the world.

I’ve seen Pocky Sticks on sale before in various stores but Lolli and Pops had flavors on sale that I had never known existed.

The highlight was the gummy bears section, which has all kinds of gummy flavors, including champaign.

I’m old enough to remember when depicting a same-sex kiss was considered to be outrageous and controversial. Nowadays one can see same-sex romantic images such as this sign in The Body Shop window.

Amazon has a kiosk in the middle of the mall, which sells mainly electronic devices like the Kindle.

Another new thing I don’t recall seeing before is this aquarium that’s in the middle of the mall. It definitely attracts the kids.

The last few pictures in this post I took inside the Build-A-Bear Workshop.

One can buy other plushies besides teddy bears, such as this dinosaur.

I saw this really cool, funky, and colorful rainbow lion on sale.

Sometimes I like to bring my laptop to IKEA so I can sit in their cafe and surf the Internet using their wifi. I also like eating there as well. The next photo shows this cinnamon bun that I ate when I was there last time. IKEA’s cinnamon buns only cost $1 each but I think they taste much better than Cinnabon’s more expensive buns. What’s more, if I ever have a bunch of people over at my place, I can purchase a pack of six buns for only $4. Sweet!

Cinnamon Bun

I also saw a bin full of pink flamingo plushies. It doesn’t get more kitsch than this!

Pink Flamingos Plush

Sometimes you can find the unexpected at IKEA, such as this gorgeous sunset right outside the building.

The things you can find at Ikea: This lovely sunset outside the store.

Santa Claus

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8
Part 9
Part 10

This latest installment in my 12-part Tabletop Christmas series focuses on other tree ornaments that I haven’t featured in this series so far.

The ornament in the next photo was one that was released in commemoration of the 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ voyage to the New World in 1992. That commemoration was controversial mainly because Christopher Columbus’ role in history has become extremely controversial in recent years. I remember when replicas of the Niña, Pinta, and Santa Maria docked at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore, which drew some protests. I saw those ships myself and I was disappointed to learn that only the top deck was opened to the general public while the rest of the decks were roped off. I purchased the ornament because I thought it was very cute, which was the same reason why it survived my purge of excessive ornaments.

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This next photo shows a very stylized reindeer that I purchased from the Christmas shop at Valley View Farms years before I started this blog. I’ve always loved the design of this reindeer, which was why that one also survived my ornaments purge.

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Here’s a cute Hallmark ornament in the form of a bull-shaped piñata that has “Feliz Navidad” written on the sides.

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Here’s a glittery gold snowflake ornament that was given to me by one of my relatives years ago. I especially love the way it reflects when the lights are on.

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Here’s a gold heart that I purchased years ago because my then-husband said that he loves hearts. I kept it after he left and I made my ornaments purge because it looks lovely in the Christmas tree, especially when viewed from afar.

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The two ornaments in the next photo feature a gold leaf and a dolphin. I know the gold leaf was given to me and my then-husband by a family member but I don’t remember if it came from my parents, my mother-in-law, or my sister-in-law. The dolphin ornament was a Hallmark ornament that I purchased for my then-husband not long after we were married because my husband really loved dolphins. Naturally he left that one behind when he left me but I kept it because the dolphin looks really cute in the tree, especially with it looking like it’s in the middle of a mid-air jump through a Christmas wreath.

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This stylized wood star came from a relative from my then-husband’s side of the family but I don’t remember if his mother, sister, or his late Aunt Sue gave it to us. I usually hang this one towards the bottom of the tree.

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The next photo features two small ornaments. The pink elephant is made from glass and I purchased it from the Christmas shop at Behnke’s Nurseries years ago because it reminded me of the famous “Pink Elephants on Parade” sequence from the Disney movie Dumbo. This ornament even came with a tiny plastic champaign glass but, unfortunately, the champaign glass snapped off a long time ago and I couldn’t find it. The pink elephant still looks nice without the champaign glass so I kept it. The cat is a Hallmark ornament that was given to me by my parents when I was a teenager.

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The next photograph shows a Hallmark Mistletoe Fairy that I purchased mainly because when I was married my husband and I had a tradition where we hung mistletoe above the kitchen door and we used to time our meetings at the kitchen door so we would kiss. (LOL!) We didn’t get mistletoe in 2011 mainly because I was recovering from hip surgery and my husband was sick with bronchitis at the same time. I also didn’t know that he was planning to leave me three days after Christmas (and three months after my hip surgery) for a seriously mentally ill friend of ours. I thought about getting rid of that ornament when I was doing my ornaments purge but I ended up keeping it because this fairy looks really nice in the tree. I no longer keep mistletoe in my home so this ornament is about as close to having mistletoe as I get these days. (LOL!)

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This next ornament is a ceramic peppermint unicorn ornament that I purchased from a Hallmark store at a clearance price during a post-Christmas sale one year. That’s another ornament that I’ve always loved to hang in my tree.

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Remember the Beanie Babies craze of the 1990’s? At one point Ty came out with a line of Christmas ornaments that were smaller versions of the Beanie Babies. I selected Peace the Tye-Dyed Bear because I thought he was cute and I also remember the traditional “Peace on Earth” greeting at Christmas.

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The next few photos are small greeting cards that double as Christmas ornaments, which were given to me by my parents. Each of these greeting card ornaments have the same Victorian Era illustrations on both sides along with a tiny string to hang them on. Here is one of these card ornaments that I still have.

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The inside of this card says “A special gift from you to me to hang upon your Christmas tree. From: Mom & Dad To: Kim”.

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Here’s the other greeting card ornament that I still have. This one also has the same Victorian Era illustration on both sides.

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The inside of this card says “A special gift from you to me to hang upon your Christmas tree. From: Mom & Dad To: Kim.”

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Last, but not least, is this red bell that’s currently hanging on my tree as a Christmas ornament. Here’s some background. I’m currently involved in starting a new local chapter of the National Grange in my hometown and I’m serving as the Vice President mainly because this new chapter desperately needed officers and I stepped up to the plate. We decided to walk around town singing Christmas carols one evening before Christmas as a way of both publicizing the new group and spreading Christmas cheer in general. One person brought a bunch of bells that we could ring so that was how I ended up with this red bell. The high point came when we walked around the hallways of this apartment complex that’s designed for senior citizens and disabled adults singing Christmas carols and the residents there really loved it and they all smiled. At the end of the evening I attempted to give my bell back to the person who brought it but she told me that I could keep it. So I hung it on the Christmas tree.

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I especially like the snowflake cutout at the bottom.

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Part 12

Santa Claus Baby New Year

In the wake of the recent presidential elections that resulted in Donald Trump becoming the next President of the United States, there have been concerns about his antics, especially regarding his tweets on Twitter, where he has managed to piss off China and declared that the U.S. will be creating more nuclear missiles and possibly using them. There are concerns about how suitable he really is to occupy the Oval Office.

The Electoral College was scheduled to meet on December 19. Usually they tend to rubber stamp the results of the elections. This time a movement known as the Hamilton Electors sprang up and they were urging the Electoral College to reject Trump in favor of a more moderate Republican like Mitt Romney or John McCain. On December 19 these Hamilton Electors had called for rallies to be held in every state capital in the U.S. urging the Electoral College to reject Trump in favor of someone more moderate and with more experience than Trump. (Donald Trump is the first president-elect in history with no prior military or political experience.)

Since I live in Maryland the rally was being held in Annapolis. I had thought about going there to make a stand against Trump. But then I remembered that Hillary Clinton had swept Maryland in the elections so Maryland’s Electoral College delegates had already pledged to vote for her instead of Trump or another Republican. On top of it, it was a cold day and I was less enthusiastic about freezing to make a public stand against Trump when my state’s delegates had already committed to Clinton. So I decided to skip the rally altogether and do something fun instead.

My decision turned out to be a good one for two reasons: 1) the Electoral College decided to award the presidency to Trump anyway despite the Hamilton Electors movement and 2) I went to a place that I hadn’t been to in two years and it was nice to go there again.

I went to Valley View Farms in Cockeysville. It’s a long commute from the DC area but it’s so worth it because it has one of the most awesome Christmas shops anywhere in the Baltimore-Washington, DC area. Here are some photos I took to show how awesome it is.

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And if you like these photos, check out photos I took of the same place in 2012, 2013, and 2014.

Santa Claus

 

 

 

 

Back in May I took part in the Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, where I braved the rainy weather to see some wonderful art made by local artists. There was recently another Open Studio Tour. This time there was no rain but it was pretty cold outside since it took place in December. I managed to cover more ground on this Open Studio Tour than I was able to back in May.

I started at ReCreative Spaces in Mount Rainier, Maryland, where I not only saw a small arts and crafts show on the lower level but I even saw some of the resident artists who were working on their latest masterpieces.

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Next I went to the Otis Street Arts Project, where I took these photographs.

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

I also visited the Washington Glass School, which is located in the same complex as the Otis Street Arts Project. As you can guess from the name, this place specializes in glass art.

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016
Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

After that visit, I got in my car and I drove to nearby Hyattsville. I was only able to briefly check out the Pyramid Atlantic Art Center before the Open Studio Tour officially ended for the day.

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

I stepped outside the Pyramid Atlantic Art Center just in time to see this moon rising over Route 1 in Hyattsville at twilight.

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

I ended my day by crossing Route 1 over to Franklins Restaurant, Brewery, and General Store, where I saw their Christmas windows.

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

I did some browsing in the General Store part of Franklins before I decided to call it a day and head back home.

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Santa Claus

 

 

 

 

Ever since I did some serious downsizing in the wake of my husband’s sudden walkout on me five years ago, I’ve been making do with limiting most of my Christmas decorations to a coffee table in my living room. I basically celebrate something I call a Tabletop Christmas. Here’s a picture of my setup that I took in 2012 but it’s still the same this year so I have no problem with reposting it.

Christmas tree in 2012

I’ve written previous blog posts about some of my decorations that I’ve put up, which you can read about at these links below:

Angel Christmas Tree Topper

Christmas angel treetopper

Hippie Merman Ornament

Ginger Cottages Incense Burner

Behnke's Nurseries, December 14, 2012

A Small One-Piece Peruvian Nativity Set

Nativity made in Peru

A Small One-Piece Wooden Nativity Set

My new nativity scene I purchased from Valley View Farms

Two Hedgehog Ornaments That I Originally Purchased When I Owned Spike, My Late Pet Hedgehog

My new hedgehog ornaments I purchased from Valley View Farms

Befana the Witch Glass Ornament

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Ornament Resembling a Stuffed Teddy Bear in a Traditional German Outfit

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A Snowman Bell

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A Robot Nutcracker

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A Fused Glass Gingerbread Man That I Made in a Workshop

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A Fused Glass Tree-Shaped Ornament That I Made in a Workshop

Fused Glass Christmas Ornament

A Vintage Elf That I’ve Owned Long Before the Elf on the Shelf Became This Annual Big Marketing Juggernaut

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Animatronic Mickey’s Clock Shop

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Tangled Reindeer Which I Customized Myself

Rudolf the Red-Nosed Tangled Reindeer

Steampunk Snowman Which I Customized Myself

Steampunk Snowman

Macy’s Christmas Ornament Featuring a Mickey Mouse Balloon and the World Trade Center

2000 Macy's Christmas Ornament

Lace Moose Ornament

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Owl Made From a Tiny Gourd

Owl Gourd Christmas Ornament

A Delftware Style Ornament

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There’s only one other place where I also make a token observation to Christmas besides my living room coffee table. I have a wooden Santa Mickey Mouse puppet that hangs outside throughout the holiday season. That’s my only outdoor decoration I have and it’s one that I previously wrote about back in 2014.

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And now, for the first time in this blog, here’s a selfie of me wearing a Santa Mickey hat and a red Christmas sweater posting next to my Santa Mickey puppet.

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For added measure, here’s another selfie.

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This morning I went to church (Christmas fell on a Sunday this year) then I went to a local Chinese restaurant where I ate lunch at its usual special-priced weekend buffet. Here is what I got in my fortune cookie: A message that said “You will pass a difficult test that will make you happier.”

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Hmmmm. I’ll see about that. It would be cool if that fortune came true because I can use some happy times right about now.

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Part 8
Part 9
Part 10
Part 11
Part 12

Way back in January I wrote a blog post about how last year the opening ceremony for the annual Festival of Lights in Greenbelt, Maryland was moved from the back of City Hall to nearby Roosevelt Center, which resulted in higher attendance since the movie theater, restaurants, and convenience store were all located there. I was there for the opening ceremony in its new location but I didn’t bother with taking pictures, which I regretted later. I took pictures of the lights in Roosevelt Center on the last day of the festival, which was on a Sunday night (when most of the businesses tended to close early on Sundays). The entire area was pretty yet deserted when I took those photos.

The opening ceremony was such a huge hit in its new location that the City of Greenbelt decided to do it again this year in Roosevelt Center. This time I took pictures of the festivities.

The festival gave out free hot chocolate. The festival organizers encouraged people to bring their own coffee cups or hot thermoses from home instead of using the free paper cups that were also available in order to get as close to having the festival produce zero waste as possible. I brought this coffee mug that had Stitch from the Disney movie Lilo & Stitch. (It was one a gift I gave to my then-husband but it was among the many items he left behind when he walked out on me back in 2011.) It turned out that that coffee mug was a conversation starter because I had so many kids who literally focused their attention on this mug.

I brought my mug from home for the opening ceremony of the Greenbelt Festival of Lights.

I brought my mug from home for the opening ceremony of the Greenbelt Festival of Lights.

As you can see, this event drew a lot of people of all ages.

A crowd gathers for the opening ceremony of the Greenbelt Festival of Lights.

At the opening ceremony of the Greenbelt Festival of Lights.

There were lights strung everywhere.

At the opening ceremony of the Greenbelt Festival of Lights.

A local band played Christmas and Hanukkah music.

At the opening ceremony of the Greenbelt Festival of Lights. The band performs Christmas music.

The Christmas tree remained darkened until Santa Claus arrived.

At the opening ceremony of the Greenbelt Festival of Lights. The tree is waiting to be lit.

Santa Claus arrived on the back of a fire truck.

Santa arrived at the Greenbelt Festival of Lights.

Santa arrived at the Greenbelt Festival of Lights.

The lights on the tree were lit after Santa arrived.

At the opening ceremony of the Greenbelt Festival of Lights.

At the opening ceremony of the Greenbelt Festival of Lights.

At the opening ceremony of the Greenbelt Festival of Lights.

The nearby Greenbelt Theater was having a free showing of the original made-for-TV cartoon How the Grinch Stole Christmas just like it did last year. I saw it on the big screen last year and it was such a different experience from simply watching it at home on the TV. I thought about seeing it again but the line at the movie theater was really long this year. (I later heard that every single seat in the theater was filled.) I decided to skip it. It was no big deal since I saw it on the big screen last year plus I have that show on DVD so I can watch it at home anytime I want.

Makerspace 125 decided to schedule an Open House to coincide with the Festival of Lights opening ceremony. Someone decided to decorate a ladder with lights and ornaments instead of a tree.

Here's how @Makerspace125 does a Christmas tree at the opening ceremony of the Greenbelt Festival of Lights.

Here's how @Makerspace125 does a Christmas tree at the opening ceremony of the Greenbelt Festival of Lights.

Here's how @Makerspace125 does a Christmas tree at the opening ceremony of the Greenbelt Festival of Lights.

Makerspace 125 had this one free hands-on activity where people could make fancy paper ornaments.

A lot of making went on @Makerspace125 at the Open House held as part of the opening ceremony of the Greenbelt Festival of Lights.

At the @Makerspace125 Open House, which was held as part of the opening ceremony of the Greenbelt Festival of Lights.

At the Makerspace125 Open House, which was held as part of the opening ceremony of the Greenbelt Festival of Lights.

One person brought her dog, Honey, who totally enjoyed herself at the open house.

At the Makerspace 125 Open House held as part of the opening ceremony of the Greenbelt Festival of Lights.

At the @Makerspace125 Open House, which was held as part of the opening ceremony of the Greenbelt Festival of Lights.

At the @Makerspace125 Open House, which was held as part of the opening ceremony of the Greenbelt Festival of Lights.

At the @Makerspace125 Open House, which was held as part of the opening ceremony of the Greenbelt Festival of Lights.

Most of the festival attendees basically cleared out after the Greenbelt Theater finished with showing the Grinch. Here are a few more photographs of the lights that are currently up in Roosevelt Center.

At the opening ceremony of the Greenbelt Festival of Lights.

At the opening ceremony of the Greenbelt Festival of Lights.

At the opening ceremony of the Greenbelt Festival of Lights.

At the opening ceremony of the Greenbelt Festival of Lights.

At the opening ceremony of the Greenbelt Festival of Lights.

The lights will remain up until after New Year.

UPDATE (December 25, 2016): After I attended a special Christmas Day Sunday service at my church I decided to head to the Beijing Restaurant in Roosevelt Center (where I took advantage of its special Sunday buffet). After I left the restaurant I noticed that the Christmas tree from the Festival of Lights looked very glittery. Of course it helped that it was a very bright sunny day. Here are a couple of extra daytime photos.

Festival of Lights in the Daytime

Festival of Lights in the Daytime

I have a friend named Phil Shapiro who works in the computer lab at the Takoma Park Library. In his spare time he writes for OpenSource.com mainly about how libraries can do everything from teaching people how to be computer literate to saving the world. (Okay, I’ll admit that I made that last part up. But if you read the articles he’s written for that site, such as this one, you’d could be forgiven for being left with a similar impression.) In his spare time he rehabilitates old computers by installing Linux Mint on them along with other open source software applications then giving the computers to underprivileged families in the DC area and he tutors people in how to use computers and open source software.

Well, anyway, he wanted to check out the Howard County library system because he heard that this system has even better computer resources than the library he works at. So he hired me to just go to any library located in Howard County, take pictures and notes, and let him know what I’ve seen. I ended up choosing the one in Savage because it’s relatively close to my home and I was feeling too lazy to go on a longer trip to places like Columbia or Ellicott City.

So I showed up at the Savage Library and I was amazed by this modern state of the art building with a sign saying that it’s not only a library but it’s also a STEM center as well.

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That library has some really cool looking furniture, brightly painted walls, and nice carpeting.

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The next two photos show a children’s classroom.

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This glass display case shows the various hi-tech capabilities of this library, including a few sample 3D printed items.

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I was raised with the idea that you must never eat or drink anything int the library (except for making a visit to a water fountain). This library has a cafe. Granted this cafe consisted of vending machines but it’s still impressive compared to my childhood memories of going to the Harundale Library in Glen Burnie or my trips to the libraries in Greenbelt and Hyattsville as an adult.

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The STEM wing of the library has skylights.

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They have conference rooms named after famous people in technology, such as Carl Sagan.

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The main room in the STEM wing has state-of-the-art computers as well as other things I’ve never seen in a public library before.

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This room has an actual recording booth that’s available to library patrons.

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Library patrons can borrow musical instruments like electric guitars and keyboards.

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There’s even a professional microphone that one can borrow for use in some multimedia projects.

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I also spent some time with my laptop surfing the Internet using the library’s free wifi while eating some chips I purchased from the vending machine in the cafe. This library felt so homey and cozy.

After the library I went on to Savage Mill because it’s located just a mile or two away and I like going there. I took a few pictures doing my time there.

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