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This morning I learned that former President George H.W. Bush died at the age of 94. He died just a few months after his wife Barbara passed away. At least you can say that he lived a long life.

I remember him as president and, before that, as vice president under Ronald Reagan. I have to admit that, as far as his presidency was concerned, he was a mixed bag. I still remember his infamous pledge where he said “Read my lips: No new taxes” only to have to reverse himself later. I also remember that awful recession that happened under his leadership and the economy was the main reason why the first Bush was a one-term president and why I voted for Bill Clinton.

Compared to his son George W. Bush and compared to what we have now (Donald Trump), he was relatively competent. There is only one thing that I appreciate about him and that was his efforts to pass the landmark Americans With Disabilities Act. Before that law was passed there was a time when a person with severe physical and/or mental disabilities lived a lower quality of life. If a person wanted to go out somewhere, he/she had to cross his/her fingers and hope that his/her destination could accommodate him/her. Public places were not required to accommodate people who needed—let’s say—wheelchairs to get around. There were some places who did so out of their own volition, such as Walt Disney World, but the vast majority of restaurants, movie theaters, and other public places just didn’t feel the need to accommodate those who weren’t perfect healthy.

If that wasn’t enough, employers and schools were also free to discriminate against someone on the basis of disabilities.

Thanks to the Americans With Disabilities Act, many public places had to actually accommodate those with disabilities. I especially appreciated what George H.W. Bush did years later when I had my own hip problems.

Ironically last month was the 10th anniversary of the day that I got my original hip replacement. I was born with a dislocated hip and the doctors managed to put me in a body cast so my hip joint could be put together. Despite that birth defect, I managed to learn how to walk. There was a scare when I was 12 and I fell on that same hip when I was roller skating. I suffered a sprained hip and the doctor who looked at my X-ray was amazed that I was walking normally. I managed to get over that sprained hip and I kept on walking right into adulthood.

As time went on I learned that once a person with a congenital hip dislocation reaches a certain age, that hip joint will lose cartilage, resulting in having a harder time walking. That’s what happened to me around 2006-2007 when people noticed that I was limping. Gradually I began to feel a clunking every time I walked. I was told by an orthopedic surgeon that, due to the loss of cartilage, I was feeling a bone on bone sensation. My walking got so bad that I had to use a walking cane. My only option was a hip replacement.

My then-husband and I scheduled the hip replacement for the week after Election Day so I would have the chance to vote for Barack Obama in 2008. We were thrilled when we found out that this country had elected the first African-American president. We both eventually became disappointed with the Obama Administration but I’ll never forget the sheer elation I felt when I hobbled to the polling place with my walking cane casting the ballot for Obama then finding out that he won.

Before the surgery I walked with a cane. The first few months after that hip replacement, I switched to a walker. Thanks to physical therapy, I worked my way back up to the cane before I eventually regained the ability to walk on my own without using anything else. It was through my reliance on both the cane and walker I became more aware first-hand of how much of a help George H.W. Bush was when he championed the Americans With Disabilities Act.

In 2011, over two years and three months after my original surgery, I fell twice within a week and I knocked my hip replacement out of alignment. Once again my walking began to deteriorate and I had to rely on a cane. As a result I had to undergo hip revision surgery. The only difference between hip replacement and hip revision is that I didn’t have to get a new joint with this second surgery. The surgeon was able to snap my joint back into place. After surgery I switched to using a walker. Once again I had to undergo physical therapy while I worked my way back to the cane then walking on my own without using anything.

The worst thing about the hip revision had nothing to do with the two falls or the surgery. The worst thing was when my husband abruptly left me just three months after my surgery and three days after Christmas. He never indicated that he was the slightest bit unhappy until the night he came home, announced that he was moving out, then bolted out the door before I could say anything. I couldn’t even run after him because I was still recovering from surgery and by the time I hobbled over to my walker, unfolded it, and wheeled it outside, he would’ve been long gone. Overnight he went from being a loving, caring husband to someone who was extremely nasty towards me. In the process he not only alienated me but he also alienated a lot of our longtime friends, especially when everyone learned that he left me for a friend with mental health issues so severe that she ended qualifying for SSI disability. I had a hard time dealing with this, especially since he was very devoted to nursing me back to health after both surgeries and he was still devoted to my well-being up until the night he literally ran away from home. But all that drama with my ex-husband is another long story that had nothing to do with why I appreciate what George H.W. Bush did.

Like I wrote earlier, he was a mixed bag as you can read at the following links:

Poppy Bush, opportunist president is dead

Legacy of President George H.W. Bush: War Crimes, Racism, and Obstruction of Justice

The Bush family and the S&L (Savings and Loan) Scandal

Crimes of the Bush dynasty

I have to agree with what these links had to say. Despite his serious flaws, I will always appreciate George H.W. Bush for what he did on behalf of disabled Americans.


Santa Claus





For the past five years I’ve undergone some extreme drama. It all started in 2011 when I fell twice in a week and I ended up knocking my hip replacement (which I originally received back in 2008) out of alignment. I was told that I had to undergo hip revision surgery in order to put my hip replacement back in alignment if I wanted a chance of walking normally again.

The day before my scheduled surgery I decided to go on a fun shopping trip. I went to Tysons Corner, where I shot these photos as I walked around the mall in my walker. I decided to treat myself to something nice. I ended up going to the American Girl place where I purchased this historical 1970s doll, named Julie Albright, because she was wearing the same kind of outfit that I wore back in the 1970’s.


I didn’t tell my husband about the purchase at the time because it was the day before my surgery and we both had been stressed out over my upcoming surgery. I just didn’t want to provoke a fight or anything. I decided to just hide the doll while I eventually planned on telling him about the purchase once my hip started to heal. (It wasn’t like we couldn’t afford the purchase because he was—and still is—a programmer at NASA.)

I went through with the surgery followed by physical therapy. My husband took wonderful care of me while I was in recovery. He never indicated that he was unhappy or anything. There were times when I took the doll out of her temporary hiding place while I admired her and read the books that I purchased at the same time as the doll. I was looking forward to getting my life totally back on track with the man I loved. We shared a lovely Christmas Day together and I sensed that we were going to make out okay.

But then, just three days later, he walked out on me. It was so abrupt and shocking. In addition, he left behind a note where he essentially blamed my purchase of American Girl’s 1970s historical doll Julie Albright as the main reason why he left because this doll “added to the clutter of our home.” I was dumbfounded by all this. I thought he had merely flipped out after all the stress he had gone through. (Not only did he had to deal with my hip operation but there were job-released stress plus he was battling bronchitis during the holidays.) I wrote a blog post that night stating that I hoped we would get back together.

I had seriously thought about selling the doll on eBay because I really didn’t want a doll to destroy what had basically been a decent marriage. I also felt horrible that my purchase of that doll was what made him feel that he had to leave home after he spent a serious amount of time to make all of the necessary arrangements before my surgery then taking leave from his NASA job to take care of me after my surgery. I never intended to drive my own husband away from home. I thought that if I would sell the doll on eBay, I would tell my husband about the sale, and he would return home.

I was so glad that I never did this because a month later I had friends tell me that they had saw him with one of the barmaids at a local cafe who had been struggling with severe depression (she only worked two nights a week because of it and she had recently qualified for SSI disability payments) and he had been taking her on dates to the same cafe where she worked. So, yeah, he blamed a doll that I purchased the day before my hip surgery for making him leave me for a seriously mentally ill friend.


Over the next several months he would engage in cyberbullying where he would demand that we separate our finances via email and text (he refused to call me or meet with me in person to talk like normal human beings) according to his own schedule and if I balked in any way, he would threaten to sue me. (I still have those original hateful emails printed out and filed away.) I’m sure he probably blamed my purchase of that doll the day before my hip surgery for what he did as well.


I later found out that eight months after he walked out on me and hooked up with that mentally ill friend, he asked her to marry him and she agreed even though he was still legally married at the time. I’m sure he probably blames my purchase of that doll the day before my hip surgery for making him do that. (LOL!)


In 2012, just four days before the first anniversary of our separation, he sent an email that was dated December 24 (Christmas Eve) that contained a divorce petition in a .pdf format that was attached to the email. Between the cyberbullying demanding that we adhere to this separation of finances schedule or else he would sue me and emailing a divorce petition on Christmas Eve, I am now convinced that he basically lied to me all those years when he said he “loved” me. How else can I explain the fact that one day he acted like he loved me and still wanted to stay with me and the next day he not only leaves me but he acts like he has detested me all those years? He probably blames my purchase of the doll the day before my hip surgery for that one as well.


Three months after our divorce was final he married the other woman despite her mental health issues. He probably blames my purchase of the doll the day before my hip surgery for that one as well.


It’s so lame and cowardly for a man to blame a doll for leaving his wife without ever telling her that he was unhappy (while pretending to love her all those years), refuse to speak with her while demanding that she followed a certain schedule that he set, start dating a seriously mentally ill woman (and, yes, he knew about her mental health before he hooked up with her), quickly get engaged to her while still being legally married, send divorce papers in an email on Christmas Eve, then marry the other woman just three months after the divorce is final.


I’m trying my best to move on. I’m at the point where I no longer want to have anything to do with him mainly because I’m convinced that he lied to me all those years when he said that he loved me. I go out with friends but I’m not in a relationship or anything like that. Right now I’m busy with trying to survive in a harsh economy while dealing with the arrival of President Donald Trump next month.

I’m mostly over my ex-husband but there are times when I still remember what he did to me whenever I see or hear something that dredges up the past. One reminder came just a couple of months ago when old recordings surfaced where Donald Trump told Howard Stern that he thinks that Lindsey Lohan would be great in bed because she was troubled at the time. Thanks to Trump’s confession, I now realize that this may possibly be one of the reasons why my husband has chosen to replace me with a mentally ill woman. I guess I should publicly thank Donald Trump for that insight. (LOL!)

All I can say is that I’m glad I never sold this doll on eBay in an effort to get my husband back because it would’ve been an exercise in futility.


Previous in This Series

Part 1 (Artomatic 2007)

Last week I mentioned that I’ve been going through some old files on my computer hard drive and I found the original rough drafts of my old Artomatic blog posts from previous years. (There was a time when Artomatic gave everyone who participated their own blogging account. For Artomatic this year, I had to step up and volunteer to be a blogger before I received my own blogging account.) It’s pretty appropriate to share some of these posts here since Artomatic is going on until next month.

While I visited a few previous Artomatics, the first time I actually participated was in 2007. I enjoyed that experience so much that when Artomatic was announced again in 2008, I jumped at the chance to participate in it again.

2008 was a momentous year for me for reasons other than Artomatic. I was born with a dislocated left hip and, as some old baby photos have documented, I was placed in a body cast for several months. My left hip joints snapped into place, the cast was removed, and I learned how to walk like an average child soon afterwards. I sprained the same left hip in a roller skating accident when I was 12 but I managed to recuperate and I walked like a regular person again. All that changed by late 2007 when I began to walk with a limp. As time went on, I had a harder time walking and by the time of Artomatic 2008, I had to use a cane to get around.

Despite my hip problems, I wanted to participate in Artomatic and I did so. That year I decided to focus mostly on photography, with the exception of this Peep Floyd diorama that I originally did for The Washington Post‘s annual Peeps diorama contest but it failed to make even Honorable Mention. Here is the original online catalogue that I put up to promote my exhibition space.

Peep Floyd


Little Chapel in Day

Little Chapel at Night

Guitar Heroes

Honda Asimo Robot

Toyota Partner Robot


Pink Flamingoes

Naked Mole Rats

$900 Pez Dispensers

American Girl Dolls

White Bridge at Cypress Gardens

Find the Swimming Alligator

R2-D2 Mailbox

Shalom Y'all


Ninth Life Store Sign

Ellowyne Wilde Doll in Front of U.S. Capitol

Legal Cubans

Sunset Over Assawoman Bay

Blythe Doll in Cherry Blossom Tree

Cosplay Contest, 2008 Cherry Blossom Festival, Washington, DC

Volks Dollfie Dream and Testudo

Volks Dollfie Dream Doll in Cherry Blossom Tree

Volks Dollfie Dream Doll Peeking From Cherry Blossom Tree

Tiny Dolls in Forsythia Bushes

Cypress Gardens, Charleston, South Carolina, 2008

Cypress Gardens, Charleston, South Carolina, 2008

Cypress Gardens, Charleston, South Carolina, 2008

Where is the Alligator? Cypress Gardens, Charleston, South Carolina 2008

Soom Mini-Gem Uyoo in Cherry Blossom Tree

Worshipping the Goddess

Here are just a few selected posts I made in my Artomatic account’s blog that year as archived on my hard drive. (That blog has long since been deleted since Artomatic tends to totally revamp its website whenever a new Artomatic event is announced.)

I’m Participating in Artomatic 2008, March 27, 2008

I’ve finally finished with registration. This year I’m going to emphasize my photography more mainly because I’ve been more successful at that than doing strictly drawing and painting.

Now my next task is to sift through my vast trove of digital photos to pick out the right ones to display. I am quite a shutterbug. I’m glad for the invention of digital cameras because I still remember the pain of running out of film and I had to choose between shelling out more money for film (then have to shell out more money to get them processed) or quit my picture taking for the day. I have a monumental task ahead of me so I’m going to sign off now.

Latest Stuff About Me, April 18, 2008

Last Saturday I went to the Artomatic orientation where I picked out my site. I’ll be located on the 7th floor, NE Quadrant, Area C4. I know it sounds like gobbledygook now but I’m sure it’ll become more apparent once the show opens and the maps/brochures are printed. For the time being, I’ll just say that my wall space is located right next to the men’s restroom on the 7th floor.

My Exhibit for This Year, May 8, 2008

I know that some of you who are familiar with my exhibit at last year’s Artomatic will be wondering if I’m doing anything different. Well, the answer is yes. I’m going to describe the difference between this year’s exhibit and last year’s.

Last year I had a variety of different media ranging from digital photographs to drawings to paintings. I even had a couple of dolls I customized myself that were on display in small glass cases that were mounted on the wall.

This year I’m focusing exclusively on digital photographs. That’s mainly because I wanted artwork that was more transportable than my larger art pieces. All of my photographs are either 8″ x 10″ or 5″ x 7″. Keeping the photos at those two sizes made frame shopping really easy for me since those two are standard sizes. On top of that, I’ve had people tell me that my biggest strength is in photography so I decided to highlight that some more.

The biggest challenge I had was whittling down the hundreds of digital photographs that I have on my hard disk to just 32 photos. (Sixteen of them are 8″ x 10″ while the rest are 5″ x 7″.) Then I had the additional challenge of printing since, as experienced digital photographers and computer graphics artists know, what is seen on the computer screen doesn’t mean that the print version will turn out the same. But I managed to get everything done in time for the opening tomorrow night.

I’m also pricing my photos at $10 for the 8″ x 10″ and $6 for the 5″ x 7″. I know my pricing methods may become controversial but there’s a method to my madness. If you’ve been reading a newspaper or watching any of the cable news channel, you’ll know that this country is in an economic crisis due to rising gas costs, higher food prices, and the subprime mortgage crisis. I really don’t think that people are in the mood to shell out $100 or higher for a piece of art no matter how much they love it because of the economy.

I also had an epiphany around the end of last year’s Artomatic. I got someone who wanted to buy one of my drawings but she wanted to know how much it would cost if I would remove it from the frame. Since I didn’t have any other serious buyers of my artwork last year, I told her that I would take $25 off my drawing. So I sold it to her and took home an empty frame.

This year I scoured the local big box retailers looking for the lowest frame prices. A.C. Moore had the best prices with many frames being sold for $3 and $4 and with some going for as low as $2. What’s more, the frames still looked pretty decent despite the low prices. Then I went to Staples where I bought a pack of satin-finish photographic paper for $35. I calculated each sheet as costing around sixty cents per sheet, which isn’t bad.

I even have a catchy ad phrase that I put on a sign in my area: “Affordable Artwork for Uncertain Economic Times”.

What’s more, since I have my photos on a hard drive, I can easily print multiple copies so if one person buys one of my photos and someone else wants that same photo, I can print and frame another copy and sell it to that other person.

I will have a small table next to my photos where I will have a guestbook for you to sign and a digital frame that will rotate digital photos of some of my other works of art like my drawings, paintings, sculptures, and crafts. I purchased this digital frame at Target and I love it because I can display more of my art than the space that’s alloted to me.

I will also have a diorama displayed on that table called Peep Floyd. I originally created this diorama for The Washington Post’s second annual Peeps contest but it didn’t make the final cut among the judges. I was disappointed but my husband was even more heartbroken than I was. (He felt that I was robbed.) So I decided to give my little diorama a second chance by displaying it with my artwork. I’m even putting it up for sale for only $5 (which is about how much money I spent making it in the first place). What’s even amusing is that there will be a display of the winning Peeps dioramas on the 10th floor while my display will be on the 7th floor. So if people decided to start on the first floor and work their way up, chances are that they will see my own diorama first before they see the winners on the 10th floor. Ha! Ha! Ha!

Last year I printed three photo zines that I sold on the honor system where people can put money in a box if they wanted one or more of my zines. I did it mainly as a promotional item, even if it was a pain to print multiple copies for the duration of Artomatic. (The fact that I was using a 10-year-old Epson color printer didn’t help matters much.) I thought that I would get some sort of opportunities from the zines after Artomatic in the long run so I toughed out the time spent printing, collating, and stapling the zines. I also gritted my teeth as I spent lots of money on printer ink since those zines did use up tons of ink. Even though the zines sold pretty well (some people did leave money in the box), nothing ever came of those zines after Artomatic ended. No one contacted me saying, “Hey I liked your zines and photos and I want to do some work with you.”

Basically it really wasn’t worth the time or money spent making and distributing the zines so I’m not going to do any more this year. I know that some of you will be disappointed but that’s the way things go.

The biggest change from last year to this year is myself. Yes, I am a year older but my health has gone down a bit. I have an old injury in my left hip that was repaired a long time ago but I’ve now developed osteoarthritis in it. Last year I was able to walk normally most of the time (although I did limp if I overextended myself by doing too much walking or other physical work). This year I’m walking with a limp and I use a walking stick whenever I have to walk around outside for any great distances. I’ve consulted an orthopedic specialist and he’s recommending that I undergo a hip replacement, especially since my left leg is now a little bit shorter than my right leg, thanks to the osteoarthritis.

But, before I undergo the surgery, I have to lose weight and do exercises to strengthen my hip. As a result, I’m still able to participate in Artomatic since I won’t be able to undergo the surgery until July at the earliest.

Having osteoarthritis is a bit of a bummer. I get more physically tired than before, partially because of having to take prescription version of ibuprofen (which has drowsiness as a side effect) and partially because it’s just more physically taxing to limp around. My current condition was a major factor in my decision to focus on smaller photographs than my larger canvases since the photos are easier to cart around than a big canvas. Since I decided to eliminate the zines, I will find Artomatic less taxing than last year.

I will be at the opening tomorrow night with my husband. This weekend I will be working as a vendor at the Greenbelt Green Man Festival in Greenbelt, Maryland. I will have a packed schedule.

I’m Doing Pretty Well at Artomatic This Year, May 26, 2008

So far I had someone who wanted six copies of my “Shalom Y’all” photo because she wanted to give them away to her Jewish friends. I also have one other person who may be potentially interested in purchasing something from me but I haven’t heard back from him.

So far I took part in a drawing workshop on Opening Night and I’ve also worked one shift so far. (It happened to be on the same night as the “Meet the Artists Night” so I couldn’t be at my area, with the exception of a brief break that I took around 8 p.m.) Right now I’m typing this entry from a hotel room in Charleston, South Carolina but I intend to participate in more Artomatic events once I return.

I happened to be in Charleston at the same time as their annual Piccolo Spoleto Festival—an art-filled festival that includes special exhibitions at area art galleries, special theatre shows, special musical concerts, and a crafts fair. I intend to check out the crafts fair at least. I also intend to visit the City Market, which is filled with stalls of people hawking food items and various types of crafts. It’s also where a local African-American group of people known as the Gullahs sell their speciality craft–making baskets, vases, flowers, and other items out of sweetgrass.

Well, anyway, see ya later!

My Artomatic Videos, June 2, 2008

This year I’ve been doing more at Artomatic than just showing my artwork and attending a few events. I’ve also been taking photographs and shooting video. I haven’t decided what I’ll do with the photos yet but I’ve already edited and uploaded three short video clips on my YouTube account.

All three videos are of the firedancing troupe known as Flights of Fire. I shot this during the second hour of their show on May 16. (I missed the first hour because I was finishing up the last hour of my own volunteer shift during that time.) I was pretty exhausted after working my five-hour volunteer shift so I basically went outside, sat down, and unwind a bit by watching the group perform the rest of their show. I happened to have my videocamera with me so I filmed them as they did their various fire tricks to some lively dance music.

This first clip is a general highlights reel as I focused on the troupe’s most spectacular firedancing tricks:

The second clip is a very sexy and erotic routine that is performed in its entirety:

The third clip is the grand finale that is also performed in its entirety. Imagine a bunch of people dancing and swinging flaming torches at the same time and you’ll get something like this:

Two More Artomatic Videos For You to View, June 5, 2008

I shot two more videos at Artomatic that I’ve uploaded to my YouTube account. The first one is the Peeps artist reception that was held on May 31, 2008.

The second one is the first-ever Artomatic 500 cardboard car race, which is just as hilarious as it sounds.


A Posting From Artomatic, June 13, 2008

I’ve just finished the third required volunteer shift over an hour ago and I’m waiting for this workshop on “Urban R & D: Developing a Community Research and Design Lab” to begin in a few minutes. Actually volunteering wasn’t too bad despite my totally arthritic hip (which has given me a bad limp in recent months and has definitely put a crimp on my mobility) because I was given desk jobs. (I worked the front desk on the first floor the first two times and I worked the fourth floor this final time today.)

Last night I attended the Artists’ Social. I met someone whom I had volunteered with on a previous shift and I also met up with other people whom I had met at other Artomatic events. What was cool was that I sold two of my photographs to someone who loved by two robot photos (one of the Toyota Partner Robot and the other of the Honda Asimo—both taken at a Japanese cultural festival at the Kennedy Center a few months ago).

I’m looking forward to attending Artomatic tomorrow night–they are having the first-ever Art in Fashion show, which is supposed to have fire as the theme. From the way this event is being hyped, it sounds like Project Runway on steroids.

Well, anyway, I gotta wrap this entry up and head off to tonight’s workshop.

More Artomatic Videos, June 21, 2008

I shot and posted a few more videos at Artomatic before it ended last Sunday but I’ve only gotten around to blogging about it now.

First is a video of my own exhibit, which was displayed on the 7th floor next to the men’s bathroom.

Next is a video of a couple of interactive exhibits that were done by other artists.

I previously videotaped the Peeps artist reception where I spoke with prolific Peeps diorama artist Carl Cordell. At the time he was working on a fourth diorama, “The Day The Earth Stood Peeped”, that wasn’t ready in time for the reception. I kept on going to the Peeps area for the next few weeks but the diorama didn’t make its appearance until last Saturday, the day before the last day of Artomatic. I made a short video highlighting that diorama.

I did a three-part video about the Art in Fashion show, which was the closing event of Artomatic. (It was held the night before Artomatic’s final day.) It highlighted fashions created by fashion designers in the Baltimore-Washington, DC area. I had fun attending this because I’m such a fan of Project Runway and I had never seen a fashion show in person before.

After the fashion show ended, there was a big party that included all kinds of activities. I videotaped some of it but I was running out of battery power by that point so I didn’t film as much as I wanted to. But it should give you an idea of what it was like. (Some parts of this video are definitely NSFW because it includes scenes of body painting on partially or fully nude bodies.)

Well, anyway, that’s it for the Artomatic videos.

Visiting the Artomatic Site for the Last Time, June 21, 2008

I had successfully sold yet another photo to someone and he and I agreed to meet at the Artomatic site today. After the transaction was made and he took his newly-purchased photo with him, I took down my exhibit. I felt wistful as I did it but, as the old saying goes, all good things must come to an end.

Goodbye For Now, June 23, 2008

Now that Artomatic is over and I’ve picked up my artwork from the site, it’s time for me to say goodbye to this blog until the next time I decide to participate in an Artomatic.

Three months after I wrote that last farewell Artomatic post, I underwent a hip replacement followed by physical therapy that lasted until well into 2009. In early 2011 I suffered two falls within a week that knocked my hip replacement out of alignment so I had to undergo hip revision surgery followed by more physical therapy. Right now my hip is doing fine. <knock wood!>

Next in This Series

Part 3 (Artomatic 2009)
Part 4 (Artomatic 2012)

American Flag

Today is the 11th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Today the weather is just as lovely as it was on that day 11 years ago—the sky is blue with little or no clouds, the humidity is low, and the weather is warm but not too hot. There are times when I still remember that event like it happened yesterday.

Today is also the one-year anniversary of the day I was released from the hospital after I underwent hip revision surgery. I was originally supposed to be released on September 10 but the physical therapist, doctor, and nurses thought that I still hadn’t healed enough to warrant being released and felt that I would benefit from one more night in the hospital. I remember that my Unitarian Universalist congregation had planned a special Sunday service to commemorate that occasion (September 11 fell on a Sunday last year) because last year was the 10th anniversary of that horrible event. My husband had really looked forward to bringing me to church for that service the morning after I was released and I was also looking forward to seeing my friends again. I remembered that he seemed even more disappointed with my extra night’s stay than I was because he really wanted me to take me to church. (As for me, while I would’ve loved to have gone, I was also tired at times because of my recent surgery so I don’t know if I would’ve fully enjoyed the special service or if I would’ve fallen asleep halfway through due to the intense fatigue and the painkillers that I was on at the time.)

Instead I woke up on the morning of that 10 year anniversary in my hospital bed. I thought that since I couldn’t be there at my church for the special anniversary service, I would just watch the various commemorations that happened all over the country on the hospital’s TV set. I grabbed the TV remote that was tethered to the bed with a thick cord and started to watch a live broadcast of President Obama taking part in a special commemoration event that took place at Arlington National Cemetary. After a half-an-hour, the physical therapist showed up in my hospital room informing me that it was time for me to begin my physical therapy. So I had no other choice but to shut the TV off and follow her to the common area where we patients did our physical therapy. That day I learned that physical therapy never takes a holiday—not even on the 10th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attack.

My husband arrived to the hospital after lunch. I was released that afternoon and my husband drove me straight home where I spent the rest of the day resting.

Today I can now walk normally once again. The only sad part is that my husband has cut himself off from me. (He suddenly and abruptly walked out on me three days after Christmas without any kind of advanced warning whatsoever.) As I compare my memories of how caring and attentive my husband was during my surgery and the first three months of my recovery with the cold and haughty person he is now, I feel this total sadness. I just can’t believe the contrast and there are times when I still have a hard time getting used to this. That’s why I’m still seeing a therapist every week and attending weekly support group meetings for people who are separated or divorced.

In the years since the attacks on September 11, 2001 I’ve come across monuments both big and small devoted to the victims. I had meant to post these photos last year on the 10 year anniversary but, with my surgery, that idea fell by the wayside. Here are the photos of the memorials on the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

My father-in-law and his wife lives in the Upper West Side of Manhattan in New York City. There is a firehouse located just a few blocks away from their condo who lost many of its firefighters at the World Trade Center. This firehouse has erected plaques with the names of each firefighter who died along with a tiny statue of a fireman commemorating all the firefighters who died at the World Trade Center on that days. Many firehouses throughout Manhattan have similar small memorials. The doll in the following photos is one of my Orient Doll Ji. The tiny three-inch doll provides a perspective as to the size of the memorial.

Orient Doll Ji in New York City
Orient Doll Ji in New York City
Orient Doll Ji in New York City

This memorial to the firefighters who died at both the World Trade Center and the Pentagon is among the newer attractions on the Boardwalk in Ocean City, Maryland.

Firefighters Memorial, The Boardwalk, Ocean City, Maryland

Last month, when I spent a day at North Beach, I found these benches on the pier that had plaques commemorating the dead. Among those commemorations is one to Brady Howell, who died at the Pentagon.

North Beach, Maryland

The only silver lining to this anniversary is that Osama bin Laden is no longer alive to celebrate that occasion. I forgot to mention this one fact when I made this recent rant on why I’m voting for Barack Obama this year due to the GOP’s total alienation of me: It was President Obama who finally ensured that Osama bin Laden faced the consequences of his deadly actions. As you may recall, President George W. Bush initially went after Osama bin Laden but then decided to become more focused on deposing Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein by making the claim (later proven bogus) that he had weapons of mass destruction and he was also behind 9/11 (even though there was no evidence to support this). At one point, President Bush even said this regarding Osama bin Laden: "I really just don’t spend that much time on him, to be honest with you."

That’s right, President Bush didn’t care about trying to apprehend the man responsible for launching a deadly attack on his country that killed nearly 3,000 of his fellow Americans. All I can say is that I’m glad he wasn’t president when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. He probably would’ve stopped the U.S. participation in World War II in favor of some unrelated personal cause, the Axis power would’ve ultimately won that war, and the world would’ve been a totally different place.

As for Obama’s Republican opponent Mitt Romney, he once said that it wasn’t worth moving heaven and earth to capture bin Laden. He just doesn’t get the idea that many terrorist movements can be deactivated by getting rid of its leaders. One such example is what happened to the West German Baader-Meinhof Gang after its leaders were arrested and they committed suicide in their prison cells.

Since Osama bin Laden’s death and the other top leaders of Al Qaeda being either captured or killed, Al Qaeda has become a shadow of its former self. The group hasn’t been able to successfully launch another major terrorist attack designed to kill as many people as possible. That last sentence alone speaks volumes on how President Obama’s decision to get rid of Osama bin Laden has been very effective. I only hope that no terrorist attack ever happens in the United States again (or at least not in my lifetime).

Today I spent an entire Saturday attending a conference for crafters. Ironically it also happened to be the one-year anniversary of my hip revision surgery. Fortunately I have regained my ability to walk because the conference was held in an old building that has pretty steep steps and it would definitely be a challenge to anyone who isn’t physically fit. (Many old buildings in DC have such steep steps.)

Below is a banner with the name of the group responsible for the Summit of Awesome, Hello Craft.

Summit of Awesome, September 8, 2012

This conference had a unique idea of name badges. We were each given a button that was covered with black chalkboard paint. We used chalk to write our names and add whatever decorative touches to our button we wanted.

Summit of Awesome, September 8, 2012

We were provided bagels and cream cheese along with coffee for breakfast. We settled down to a welcome address by the people behind Hello Craft and the Summit of Awesome.

Summit of Awesome, September 8, 2012

There was a Make Something Awesome table that was filled with small craft projects that could be quickly finished. That table was up throughout the day and people brought their projects with them to the workshops.

Summit of Awesome, September 8, 2012

Each Summit of Awesome attendee was given a small moleskin notebook. We could go to the Make Something Awesome table and customize it however we want. I opted to use the rubber stamps provided on the table to decorate the front cover.

Summit of Awesome, September 8, 2012

The Make Something Awesome table also had these two fabric sewing projects from The left fabric was one for a bird pincushion that was done by Anda Corrie. The right fabric is for a mini robot doll that was done by JesseeSueM.

Summit of Awesome, September 8, 2012

I did something totally wild with the two fabric sewing projects. I combined them into one. I worked on it throughout the day while I was sitting in on the workshops. I managed to stuff it and do the final stitches before the Summit of Awesome ended for the day. Here is one side of my hybrid creation.

Summit of Awesome, September 8, 2012

Here’s the other side of my hybrid creation.

Summit of Awesome, September 8, 2012

For the morning session, I opted to do a tour of the place where the Summit of Awesome was held called Fab Lab DC. I learned that Fab Lab DC is trying to do cutting edge 3-D printing that seems pretty similar to what Makies Lab in London is trying to do with its Makies dolls. The difference is that Fab Lab DC is focusing on a variety of 3-D items while trying to involve the local community. Fab Lab DC’s website describes its work in far better detail than what I can describe in this blog. The below photos should provide a taste of what Fab Lab DC is capable of despite having a shoestring budget.

Summit of Awesome, September 8, 2012
Summit of Awesome, September 8, 2012
Summit of Awesome, September 8, 2012
Summit of Awesome, September 8, 2012
Summit of Awesome, September 8, 2012
Summit of Awesome, September 8, 2012

After that session it was time for lunch. We were served sandwiches, chips, and cookies. During lunch Stephen Fraser, co-founder of, provided the Craftnote address.

Summit of Awesome, September 8, 2012

After lunch I attended the first of three afternoon sessions, this one on getting your craft book published with Crafty Superstar author Grace Dobush and literary agent Kate McKean.

Summit of Awesome, September 8, 2012

I took the second afternoon workshop on wholesale opportunities with Tina Seamonster.

Summit of Awesome, September 8, 2012

For the third and final afternoon workshop, I listened to Allison Lince-Bentley discuss her experiences with opening and running her bricks and mortar retail store called Bits of Thread.

Summit of Awesome, September 8, 2012

During the third workshop, the weather started to produce heavy rain, which pounded the Fab Lab DC rooftop. When I was commuting that morning I noticed that the clouds looked a bit on the ominous side so I decided to bring my umbrella as a precaution. I was glad I did so.

The heavy rain really affected the plans for Saturday night. Originally we were given a two-hour break where we would get dinner on our own. Then we would gather for an outside party at Old City Green where there would be a raffle for free craft-related prizes and a serving of something called a "shark watermelon". Due to the rain, the shark watermelon was cancelled and the party was moved to an indoor bar instead. The craft raffle time was moved earlier so it was held during the closing of the summit.

Summit of Awesome, September 8, 2012

This lucky winner got the grand prize, which was a bag full of goodies like handmade t-shirts, stuffed animals, and other craft-related stuff.

Summit of Awesome, September 8, 2012

Between the long day at the Summit of Awesome and the rain outside, I was pretty tired so I ended up going straight home after the closing and I skipped the post-Summit party. I did really enjoy the Summit of Awesome. There were other workshops running the same time as the ones I attended that I would’ve loved to have attended as well but I don’t have the ability to split myself into two. (LOL!) It was a pretty great way to celebrate the one-year anniversary of my hip revision surgery.

One year ago today I had hip revision surgery. It’s similar to a hip replacement but instead of replacing a joint, the doctor snaps the joint back in place. I originally had a hip replacement back in November, 2008. Unfortunately, early in 2011 I had suffered through two different falls in the same week. I landed on my ass in both falls and that was when my problem began. For a while I had a problem where I limped for the first few steps then it righted itself. I went to my primary care physician and he gave me pain killers and my problem went away for a while. (That’s right, I didn’t feel any pain for about a month or two.)

But then the stiffness and pain returned so I went back to the doctor. I was given x-rays and the primary care doctor thought that there was something wrong with my back so I saw an orthopedic specialist who was also a back expert. This specialist took a look at the x-rays and he said that I not only have arthritis but also had the potential to develop a pinched nerve in my back that’s so severe that it could affect my ability to walk. He said that I was in the early phase of that and I could turn it around if I devote at least 30-60 minutes of exercise three times a week and go on a healthy diet.

So for the next few months I tried exercising and eating right in order to have a healthy back. But my pain increased and my ability to walk began to gradually decline so just two months after seeing the orthopedic specialist I went back to the primary care doctor’s office. I saw a different doctor in the same practice and he noticed that I had a major limp in my walking. He recommended that I go back to the orthopedic surgeon who originally did my surgery because he suspected that it had something to do with my hip replacement. So I went to the surgeon’s office where he did x-rays and found that those two falls had shifted my hip replacement out of alignment and I needed to have a hip revision in order to be able to walk again.

In any case one year after the hip revision, I’m walking perfectly. I’ll admit that I hated physical therapy most of all but it all worked out at the end. At least I can walk with no pain.

As I re-read most of the entries from that period, I began to have wonderful memories of my husband. He was very instrumental in setting up my doctor’s appointments and he always accompanied me to them. He spent time visiting me in the hospital and he was able to get two-week’s leave from his job at NASA in order to take care of me after I came home from the hospital. He made sure I went for short walks in between outpatient physical therapy sessions and he was a bit like a bossy drill sergeant at times.. He would put on and remove the white TED hose that I had to wear in order to prevent blood clots. When he had to return to work, he recruited various friends to drive me to and from the place where I had physical therapy and to the medical lab to have my blood work done. (Ironically one of those friends who drove me around was a woman whom my husband started to date after he left me.)

I was midly concerned when my husband came down with bronchitis and there were many nights when we sat in the same room together watching one of the cable news channels. I would try to get over my surgery while my husband would be coughing. There were times when I felt that us being in the same room sick together at the same time would only bring us closer once we both regain our health. (It’s like the old saying "misery likes company.")

I know my husband felt down and bummed out when, while he was being treated for bronchitis, the doctor noticed that he had high blood pressure. I didn’t think that high blood pressure diagnosis was the end of the world. One of my late grandmothers had high blood pressure so I knew that with proper medicine, a healthy low-salt diet, and regular exercise, my husband could keep his high blood pressure under control for many years to come and he could continue to enjoy life. I definitely would’ve helped him with making our meals as low in salt as possible and we could’ve scheduled regular walks through our neighborhood together.

In the meantime we celebrated a lovely Christmas together—just the two of us. He made this wonderful dinner where he used beer in both the appetizer (French onion soup) and the main course (a lovely seafood pasta meal) and we went out looking at the tackiest Christmas displays. I really relished that lovely time we had together and I began to appreciate my improving health and having such a wonderful, loving husband.

Three days later my husband came home, suddenly announced that he was moving out, then bolted out the door before I had a chance to respond. Since then I’ve been through several months of sadness and hell. Comparing the wonderful things he did for me before he left with how rude and cold he has been since he left is like comparing the difference between night and day. This is why his walkout was so traumatic to me. Not once did he indicate that he wanted out of the marriage. In fact, he acted just the opposite before then and he never once let on that he was going to leave me.

As I look back on last year’s entries, I discovered that, during that time, the only entries I wrote that seemed to foreshadowed the drama that would begin just a couple of months later were ones I wrote on October 2, 2011 (right here and here) where I expressed frustration with being laid up due to the surgery and I also expressed frustration with my husband constantly nagging me to do my exercises and short walks. But I understood why my husband felt the need to get on my case about walking and exercising so much. I thought he deeply cared about me and he wanted to see me get better. I thought that it was because he wanted us to resume our normal married life as soon as possible. Yes he freaked out when he discovered that I walked to the coffeehouse by myself but he seemed to have gotten over it. I also got over my frustration with being injured and laid-up after my long walk so I continued to put up with my husband’s nagging me to continue with my walking and exercising. I concluded that he cared about me and he only wanted to see me get better.

In any case my husband won’t be with me as I celebrate the one-year anniversary of my surgery. In fact, I will be spending the bulk of today’s one-year anniversary attending this conference called the Summit of Awesome that’s sponsored by Hello Craft. I’m trying to jump-start my ability to sell crafts once again after having major surgery and enduring my husband’s sudden walkout and I’m also going to attempt some networking among other crafters who are also attending this event.

I had almost forgotten that yesterday was the one-year anniversary of that earthquake that went up the East Coast until I read this morning’s Washington Post and was promptly reminded of it. I have just finished re-reading this blog entry and that blog entry that I made soon after that earthquake.

For me the earthquake wasn’t too bad. Fortunately I was seated at the time of the earthquake because I was suffering from having a hip replacement knocked out of alignment (after I suffered two falls where I landed on my butt in the same week) and I was having trouble walking. If I had been standing at the time, I know I would’ve been knocked to the ground and there’s a chance that I would’ve been even more seriously injured.

Fortunately, aside from a broken bobblehead doll set that I got for free at a Baltimore Orioles game a few years earlier, my home turned out fine and I did okay myself despite my bad left hip at the time. (That bobblehead doll set had two bobblehead dolls—Cal Ripken and Earl Weaver—sharing the same base. I got it when I attended a game on the day that they were being handed out to everyone who attended. My husband also got one and I remembered that we kept one set and donated the other to our church’s annual auction that year. Basically the two dolls snapped off the base at the ankles and there were chippings in other parts of their bodies. It would’ve been too difficult to repair so we ended up throwing the set away in the trash.) In fact, I experienced greater stress when Hurricane Irene arrived within a few days after that earthquake and I had to deal with a major power outage but that’s another story.

This morning I came across this article in The Washington Post about last year’s earthquake. Apparently it was the kind of earthquake that hits once every 2,000 years and it may be another 2,000 years before something like this ever happens again. Imagine that. For some strange reason, I really don’t feel fortunate that I had a chance to experience this unique once-in-a-2,000-year-event. I would’ve preferred to experience something else like a comet or a solar eclipse. All this earthquake did for me was that I had to go around the house and pick up various items that the earthquake knocked to the floor. (One example: the bottles of shampoo that my husband and I used were knocked to the bottom of the bathtub.)

The Washington Monument has been closed to the public since then mainly because it has sustained so much damage and officials are still trying to figure out how to fix that thing (along with finding the funds to do so). The National Cathedral was another building that sustained the most amount of damage and, judging from that article I read, the damages seem to be mostly repaired.

The one other thing I can say is that at least my left hip is way better than it was at the time of the earthquake. Thanks to the hip revision surgery followed by physical therapy, I can walk around once again with no problems at all. So I may be better equipped to withstand an earthquake, I would rather not experience any more of them because they aren’t really fun at all.

Last Friday afternoon I had some free time and I finally got around to taking advice from the facilitator of my support group for people who are separated or divorced. She bascially urged us to consider taking a trip either with other people or even by ourselves. She even suggested visiting a place we have never been before.

By that point, I hadn’t visited the beach at all. If my husband hadn’t abruptly left me last December, I would’ve gone along on the annual trip to Ocean City, Maryland last month where we would’ve shared a condo with his sister and whatever friend of hers she invited to come along. According to my husband, he made the trip this year with his sister and this woman in her 80’s who has been a close friend of their parents for many years. (This friend made the long trip from her home in New Hampshire. That’s amazing considering her age and the fact that there are numerous beaches in the New England region that are closer to her home than Ocean City, Maryland.)

I started to feel down over the fact that I hadn’t been to the beach at all. I went to Ocean City last year but my left hip had declined so much that I couldn’t walk without a cane. In hindsight I should not have made that trip last year but, if I had resisted, my husband would’ve gone to great lengths to pressure me into making this family trip despite my health. (In 2008, a few months before my original hip replacement, I tried to get out of that trip but my husband pressured me into going. I really didn’t enjoy myself that time because of the frustration of trying to get around when my left hip had gotten so bad.) My last trip to Ocean City last year resulted in depressing blog entries like this and this. (One note: At the time I wrote more about my back. That’s because I was initially misdiagnosed with back problems by the primary care physician and it wasn’t until after the Ocean City trip that my walking had declined so badly that I had x-rays taken and found that my original hip replacement had been knocked out of alignment.)

I now deeply regret going on the trips in 2008 and 2011 and I wished I had stood my ground and resisted my husband’s pressuring me to go along with him and his sister. It really sucks to go on a family trip to a place that requires lots of physical activity like walking when you’re not altogether healthy. It didn’t help that neither my husband nor his sister had ever experienced anything serious enough to affect their ability to walk (they were even lucky enough to avoid sprains or broken bones while they were growing up) so they had a harder time with understanding what I was going through both physically and emotionally.

This year I’m feeling much better physically so I could actually enjoy myself in Ocean City. Ironically, due to shaky finances, going on a week-long trip anywhere is currently out of the question for me. I briefly thought about making a day trip to Ocean City by myself similar to the one time I took such a trip with my aunt, cousins, and my cousins’ church youth group when I was a teenager but I wasn’t sure if I was up to making an eight-hour round trip by myself.

Then I began to consider the beaches that are closer to my home. (I’ll admit that I got the inspiration for the closer beaches after I took part as a volunteer in the Wounded Warrior Project’s Soldier Ride back in April, which took place in the very picturesque Rose Haven.) All of them face the Chesapeake Bay instead of the Atlantic Ocean but the commute would be much shorter.

I haven’t been at any bayside beaches in years. When I was a child the life insurance company that my mother worked for at the time decided to throw a summer party for its employees and their families at Sandy Point State Park near Annapolis. I swam in the bay and enjoyed myself. A few days later my ears began to hurt really bad so I was sent to the doctor where I was diagnosed with swimmer’s ear. I have swam in pools and in the Atlantic Ocean and I never had any reaction like that. At the time the Bay was heavily polluted and it was so bad that a Save the Bay movement started in the 1970’s. In any case, I never swam in the bay again after that incident and I haven’t experienced swimmer’s ear since.

It has been many years since my bout of swimmer’s ear and there have been sincere efforts to clean up the Chesapeake Bay in the years since. I thought it wouldn’t hurt to make another visit to a beach along the bay as long as I didn’t put my head underwater. (I definitely wanted to avoid any chances of getting swimmer’s ear again.) I also decided to visit a beach other than Sandy Point State Park. So I did a Google search and after reading up on bayside beaches, I decided on North Beach because it seemed to have the most attractions. It was only located an hour’s drive from my home, which was pretty nice.

North Beach, Maryland

This is the Welcome Center in front of the town’s only public beach. You have to go through the Welcome Center if you want to use the beach and/or the pier that’s located next to it. Basically North Beach residents can use the beach for free while residents who live elsewhere in Calvert County pay $4. For everyone else, the fee is $10. The Welcome Center also had beach chairs and umbrellas available for rent but I was lucky enough to remember to bring along my portable folding chair so I used that instead. So I paid the $10 fee and was given a waterproof bracelet that I had to wear. The good news was that I could leave and return to the beach as many times as I wanted.

North Beach, Maryland

This is a nice mosaic at the Welcome Center.

North Beach, Maryland

The next few photos are of the public beach. As you can see, it’s a very pretty beach.

North Beach, Maryland
North Beach, Maryland
North Beach, Maryland
North Beach, Maryland
North Beach, Maryland

Granted the bay is calm compared to the Atlantic Ocean waves in Ocean City. But it’s a great alternative for those who don’t like waves. Ocean City draws plenty of seagulls and sandpipers while North Beach draws mainly ducks who walk among the beachgoers. This duck in the next photo was really close to my beach chair.

North Beach, Maryland

I spent the first hour or so wading in the bay water. After a while, I went back to my beach chair where I read Stacy Schiff’s Cleopatra: A Life. Once I totally relaxed I decided to leave the beach for a while and explore the rest of town.

Next to the public beach is the North Beach Pier. As part of my beach fee, I was allowed to walk on the pier. (However, I couldn’t do any fishing off of it. That would’ve required both a fishing license and paying an additional fee at the Welcome Center.) It was a pretty nice pier.

North Beach, Maryland
North Beach, Maryland
North Beach, Maryland

One feature of the North Beach Pier is these benches that had small memorials to deceased persons. That’s not unusual because there are these kind of memorial benches in parks in my area. But what’s interesting is that the locals leave flowers at the benches like they are headstones in a graveyard.

North Beach, Maryland
North Beach, Maryland

This bench didn’t have flowers posted near it but it was dedicated to someone who died on September 11, 2001. I later did a Google search on Brady Howell’s name and found that he died at the Pentagon.

North Beach, Maryland

Some of these memorial plaques also had photos of the deceased.

North Beach, Maryland

I walked to the end of the beach, which provided a lovely panoramic view of the North Beach shoreline.

North Beach, Maryland
North Beach, Maryland
North Beach, Maryland
North Beach, Maryland

Located just one block from the public beach is the downtown shopping area of North Beach.

North Beach, Maryland
North Beach, Maryland
North Beach, Maryland

I made a great discovery during my trek through the shopping district. Calvert Kettle Corn makes awesome popcorn in a variety of flavors ranging from caramel to some exotic flavors like cherry, green apple, and chocolate banana. I purchased two small bags: one caramel and one that’s a chocolate/vanilla mix. I enjoyed both bags immensely.

North Beach, Maryland

There was also a small antiques district where the stores even displayed some of their items outdoors during business hours, including a duck rocking chair with a head resembling Donald Duck and an antique baby doll lying in an antique baby doll carriage.

North Beach, Maryland
North Beach, Maryland
North Beach, Maryland

Once you walk away from both the beach and the downtown area, North Beach becomes a typical small town that seemed like a bayside version of Mayberry.

North Beach, Maryland

After walking around town for a while, I returned to my stuff on the beach. I did some more swimming in the bay (actually it was more like wading because the water close to shore was shallow) before I decided to resume my reading on the beach. At one point I was treated to an incredibly cute sight: two ducklings accompanied by their mother.

North Beach, Maryland
North Beach, Maryland

These kids actually caught a fish with their bare hands in the bay, which caused much excitement for one family.

North Beach, Maryland

Every Friday between May-October North Beach throws this large event starting after 6 p.m. A bunch of classic cars park near the beach with their hoods opened so people can admire the engine underneath.

North Beach, Maryland
North Beach, Maryland

A live band performs on the boardwalk near the beach.

North Beach, Maryland

A farmers market is held near the beach, parked classic cars, and live entertainment where the locals can purchase fresh locally-grown produce.

North Beach, Maryland

About a block away from the farmers market is another type of street market. It’s called the North Beach Art Fair and local artisans and crafters sell their handcrafted wares ranging from jewelry to framed works of art.

North Beach, Maryland

After I visited the North Beach Art Fair, I decided to head home. As I walked along the bayside on the way to the parking lot, I saw a whole bunch of ducks hanging out on the sandy beach.

North Beach, Maryland

All in all I enjoyed myself, even if I didn’t eat my leftovers for dinner until after 8 p.m. My decision to not duck my head underwater during my time at North Beach had really paid off for me because my ears are fine as of this writing. No swimmer’s ear for me! Yay! 😀

Last week I went to Arundel Mills for the first time in a year. The last time I went, I was having an ultrasound done on my left hip at a place that was located in a medical building located on the perimeter of the Arundel Mills parking lot. (I had to have it because I was preparing to have the hip revision surgery that snapped my hip replacement back into alignment after it became knocked out of alignment when I fell twice in a week and I landed on my butt both times.) I only went to that place because it was one of the few ultrasound locations that our health insurance company would pay. (Strangely there were other ultrasound places closer to home but our health insurance comapny would not have covered it.) I remember that I was the only female patient in the waiting room of that office who wasn’t pregnant and I was having a body part examined that was completely different from the uterus.

After the ultrasound, I had thought about visiting the main part of Arundel Mills since I was there anyway. I ended up not doing so because the parking lot was torn up at the time and my walking had deteriorated so much that I really couldn’t handle parking along the perimeter far away and do a long limp to the mall on a hot and humid summer day. After driving around seeing construction everywhere, I decided to give up and drive home.

A year later I have mostly recuperated from my hip revision surgery and I’m able to walk without any aid. I finally decided to get a broken screen on my iPod Touch fixed after I accidentally broke it after I dropped it to the ground.
(I wrote at great length about my iPod Touch’s broken screen a few months ago.) I found a place called Cyberion who have a couple of store locations. I decided to go to the Arundel Mills location mainly because I wanted to check out another store also located in the same mall that could help me for a new art project that I’m currently working on. (I don’t want to go into details now but I am hoping to have my new art project finished in time for the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, which is happening in a few weeks.)

There was a reason why there was so much construction in the parking lot last year. Since my last visit last year, a casino has opened at Arundel Mills called Maryland Live. I thought it would be a perfect opportunity for me to finally see that place for the first time.

When I first arrived I parked in the brand new parking garage that’s connected to the casino. Rather than enter the casino, I first decided to go to the mall to go to Cyberion and drop off my iPod Touch. The mall was just a very short walk across the street from the casino, which was very convenient.

When I dropped off my iPod Touch, I was told that it would be ready for pickup in an hour and a half so I had plenty of time to walk back across the street and see the Maryland Live Casino for the first time. I took a few photos with my smartphone while I was there.

This is the lobby of the casino. The facility was very dark yet glitzy with lights like these purple lights streaming from the ceiling.

Maryland Live Casino

The interior of the lobby was very wide and vast. I saw mostly electronic slot machines.

Maryland Live Casino

There was this one slot machine that was really gigantic.

Maryland Live Casino

The electronic slot machines themselves had a variety of themes but they were mostly similar.

Maryland Live Casino
Maryland Live Casino
Maryland Live Casino
Maryland Live Casino
Maryland Live Casino

There was this bar at the casino where each stool had its own tabletop machine where patrons can continue to gamble while drinking.

Maryland Live Casino

Like I wrote earlier, the casino is located next to the shopping mall. The mall entrance across the street opens to the mall’s food court. However, if a hungry gambler doesn’t even feel like leaving the building to make the short jaunt across the street, there are restaurants inside the casino where they can get something to eat then quickly return to the machines for more gambling.

Maryland Live Casino
Maryland Live Casino

I’ll admit that I have only gone casino gambling three times in my life. The first time was when my husband and I took a short cruise to the Bahamas followed by three days at Walt Disney World. (The ship had a casino that only operated when the ship was in International Waters.) The second time was when my husband and I visited his late uncle outside Chicago a year an a half before he died. His uncle took us to a nearby casino riverboat that mainly did a slow short 3-5 mile cruise up and down the Mississippi River while people gambled onboard. (The riverboat returned to the dock every few minutes to pick up and drop off new passengers.) The third time was during another cruise to Bermuda where the ship’s onboard casino operated when the ship was in International Waters.

Each previous time I was at a casino, you generally went to a cashier window where you exchanged money for a certain amount of tokens. You use your tokens while you were gambling in the casino. When you were ready to quit, you went back to the cashier window, and exchanged whatever tokens you have left for money. I thought Maryland Live operated in the same way so I spent a while searching for a window or a machine where I could get tokens.

I finally found the one cashier window where the employee gave me some information that led to sticker shock on my part. Basically the machines at Maryland Live doesn’t use tokens at all. The machines were designed to accept bills only in the following denominations: $5, $20, and $100.

So I picked a random machine and put in a $5. I was miffed when I found that for $5 I only got one try at that slot machine. I didn’t have any other $5 bills and I was loathe to use any of the $20 bills I had in my wallet because I needed them to pay the repair place once the repair work on my iPod Touch was finished. So I basically ate dinner at the Philips Seafood fast food stand in the casino but I did no further gambling. It was just way too expensive for a fiscally cautious gambler like myself.

At one point I ran into a woman I know from my weekly support group for separated/divorced people. We talked briefly and I found that she had been to the casino a few times before and she really loves it. After experiencing sticker shock over how expensive it is to gamble, I don’t think I will make any return visits to Maryland Live very often.

I pretty much spent the rest of the waiting time for my iPod Touch to be repaired walking around Arundel Mills itself. The next photos were ones I took at the Lego store. All of the items were made from Legos, which were pretty cool.

The Lego Store at Arundel Mills Mall
The Lego Store at Arundel Mills Mall
The Lego Store at Arundel Mills Mall
The Lego Store at Arundel Mills Mall
The Lego Store at Arundel Mills Mall

I eventually got my iPod Touch back and it now looks as good as new. The repair bill itself was way cheaper than going to the Apple Store and trade in my broken screen iPod Touch for a discount on a new iPod Touch. I left the mall soon afterwards. As I returned to the parking garage, I noticed that I was parked near an area that gave me a great overhead view of Arundel Mills so I took a couple of quick photos. They should give you an idea of how big the entire sprawling complex really is.

Arundel Mills
Arundel Mills

Update (August 22, 2012): Exactly one week after I uploaded this blog entry, The Washington Post ran this story about an upcoming statewide voter referendum this November that could allow human dealers that would affect the future of the Maryland Live Casino and it includes a detailed description of the casino in its current state.

Last Saturday I was totally booked with two very different events. First I had volunteered to cheer on the veterans who participated in the Soldier Ride that was put on by the Wounded Warrior Project and was held in Rose Haven, Maryland. I thought it would be a good way to give back to the community and I have relatives who were or are currently serving in the military. (One uncle and one cousin served in the Army. One nephew and another cousin are currently serving in the Navy. I also have a former brother-in-law who served in the Army for a few years back in the 1990’s and he was sent to the Balkans as a peacekeeper during the war in Bosnia.)

I also have empathy with those who can’t use their limbs any more because I suffered through a hip replacement surgery in 2008 and hip revision surgery in 2011 and I know what it’s like to be unable to move as much as you want because you’re in too much pain or the offending joint is too stiff and just won’t cooperate. I am grateful for the two surgeries because the alternative would’ve been to give up walking entirely.

So I woke up very early in the morning and made the hour-long commute so I would arrive just before the start of the Soldier Ride. I even managed to take a few photos with my smartphone camera.

Rose Haven is a very picturesque town on the Chesapeake Bay, which provided lots of lovely photo taking opportunity before the Soldier Ride began.

Rose Haven, Maryland
Rose Haven, Maryland
Rose Haven, Maryland
Rose Haven, Maryland
Rose Haven, Maryland
Rose Haven, Maryland
Rose Haven, Maryland
Rose Haven, Maryland
Rose Haven, Maryland

The participants in the Soldier Ride gathered together at the start of the ride.

Soldier Ride, Rose Haven, Maryland

There were different kind of bikes available to the veterans that catered to their disabilities.

Soldier Ride, Rose Haven, Maryland
Soldier Ride, Rose Haven, Maryland

The participating veterans do some warm up exercises before getting on their bikes.

Soldier Ride, Rose Haven, Maryland
Soldier Ride, Rose Haven, Maryland
Soldier Ride, Rose Haven, Maryland
Soldier Ride, Rose Haven, Maryland

And they’re off! The veterans begin the Soldier Ride.

Soldier Ride, Rose Haven, Maryland
Soldier Ride, Rose Haven, Maryland

My role was to cheer them on as they started their ride along with other volunteers. It was a pretty cool experience and I would do it again. (There’s a really good story about the Soldier Ride along with interviews with some of the participants on NPR’s site. There’s also a USA Today story about how the Soldier Ride’s participants were invited to meet President Obama at the White House. That’s great that they were given such an opportunity since they have sacrificed a lot for this country.) Unfortunately I couldn’t stay to cheer them as they reached the finish line two hours later because I had another appointment and I had to make an hour’s drive plus a Metro ride to my next destination. As I was driving away I came upon some slow traffic that resulted from the Soldier Ride. I took advantage of the stopped traffic to take a couple of final pictures.

Soldier Ride, Rose Haven, Maryland
Soldier Ride, Rose Haven, Maryland

I was able to make a turn on another road that got me away from following the Soldier Ride and I drove to the Metro station nearest my home then took the subway to Crystal City, Virginia. A few days ago I decided to take part in Artomatic 2012 so I registered online and I was given a scheduled orientation time of 1 p.m. on the same day as the Soldier Ride. It could’ve been worse, at least I wasn’t given any of the earlier orientation times that would’ve conflicted with the Soldier Ride.

I managed to arrive about 20 minutes early and I was directly herded into one of the earlier orientation sessions that was just starting. So I was able to finish the session earlier and I reserved a wall on the 10th floor for my exhibition. As I was leaving I took a few photos with my smartphone camera, which provides a bit of a preview of what to expect when Artomatic opens to the public on May 18.

Just a few feet from the Crystal City Metro station on South Bell Street there is an Artomatic banner pointing the way.

Artomatic 2012 banner

The building that will house the Artomatic event is located a block away from the banner.

The Artomatic 2012 Building

Here are some pansies that are planted in manicured gardens outside the future Artomatic building.

Flowers outside the Artomatic 2012 building

UPDATE (January 28, 2016): In the nearly four years since I volunteered for the Soldier Ride, I’ve recently learned about the financial scandal involving the ride’s sponsor, Wounded Warrior Project. While I still don’t regret participating in the Soldier Ride back in 2012, I would volunteer for a similar event in the future only under one of the two conditions: 1) If it was sponsored by a different nonprofit that is more ethical and less lavish in its spending or 2) If the Wounded Warrior Project itself makes a sincere and easily verifiable effort at internal reform that addressed its lavish and wasteful spending.

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