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Every now and then I include some blog posts about some artwork I did when I was a child. Recently I did some more heavy decluttering around my townhouse where I found a couple of more art pieces that I did as a child. I found a bag that I hadn’t even taken the time to go through even though it was among the stuff that my then-husband and I rescued from my old childhood home around the time that my mother decided to put the house up for sale.

First up is this crayon masterpiece I did. The top of the page has “Nov. 1968” that looks like it was written in my mother’s handwriting. The figure on the left looks like a cross between a clown and a stick figure. I can’t make out the figure on the right. It looks like a stick figure with a gun head. Based on what my mother wrote at the top of the page, it looks like I was six years old when I did this drawing.

What I wrote on the back is an even bigger mystery. It says “TO KIM FROM SMOKEY THE BEAR.” Obviously I must have written this but I don’t even remember why I would pretend that I was Smokey the Bear giving this drawing to myself.

I also found this other drawing I did. It’s an ink drawing where I did a red elephant being surrounded by a bunch of stick figures. I wrote at the top “TO MOM FROM KIM.” I don’t remember when I did this drawing or how old I was when I did it. I remember when I was a child some teacher in either my regular elementary school or my Sunday morning CCD class read the famous Indian fable about the blind men and an elephant. Seeing the stick figures feeling the elephant from different angles, I have a feeling that I was inspired by this particular story. Unfortunately I no longer remember the day I did this drawing.

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I’m finally towards the end of the backlog of Halloween pictures I’ve been meaning to share online. Last month I got diverted by Inktober, where I was one of many artists who created one new ink drawing every day from October 1-31 then uploaded that drawing on social media and other online places. At first I thought it was fun but, by the end of the month, I began to totally burn out on this. It’s amazing how much time a daily project like this takes out of your day. (Which is why I’ve declined to take part in either NaNoWriMo or Makevember, which are both taking place this month.)

While I was finishing the last drawings for Inktober, I took part in a few weekend events. Friday I went on the First Friday Art Walk in Hyattsville then went to the tail end of the Greenbelt Pumpkin Festival. I ended up filming The Mojo Priests’ performance at the nearby New Deal Cafe after the director of this documentary that I’ve been helping out with contacted me at the last minute because he decided that he wanted footage of not only The Mojo Priests but also another band that would perform at the same venue the following night. Saturday afternoon I decided to check out some Halloween-related things that were going on in Annapolis. Saturday evening I went on the Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk then I headed back to the New Deal Cafe where I filmed some footage of The Wild Anacostias. Sunday morning was the Halloween/Samhain service at my church followed by the Trunk or Treat event followed by helping with teaching an English class that my church is offering to recent immigrants.

So I got to Monday, October 30, the day before Halloween. I thought I would have a day to rest only to realize that last week I signed up for this twilight networking event that would be held from 5:30 p.m.-7 p.m. at the Maryland Workforce Exchange in Laurel. By that point I was reluctant to go, especially since I had attended previous twilight networking events since January and the best I was able to get as a result was to snag a gig as an extra for a PBS television special hosted by finance guru Ric Edelman. (I found it to be an interesting experience but I really needed something a bit more permanent with a steady paycheck.) I decided to go because I felt that if I didn’t go, it would be the one networking event where there was a genuine opportunity and I would miss out on it.

I arrived in Laurel a few hours early in order to beat the rush hour traffic. Usually I would eat an early dinner at Harris Teeter at 4 p.m. so I wouldn’t go networking with strangers on an empty stomach. When I arrived, I began to feel mildly queasy, which I wrote off as nerves. (In hindsight I think it was the beginning of that stomach flu that had totally derailed me the next day on Halloween itself.) I found that there was a temporary Halloween store next to Harris Teeter known as Halloween City.

Sure I felt a little bit queasy but I felt that doing a detour in this store would calm my nerves (this was when I thought that it was stress-related instead of the beginnings of that stomach flu). I felt okay as I focused more on what I saw on sale and less on my very mild queasiness. Halloween City is like the Spirit of Halloween in that it’s a temporary store that sets up shop in an empty storefront until Halloween and it sells a variety of decorations, costumes, makeup, and masks.

I found a few Native American costumes that I’m not sure if Native American groups would approve of. In recent years various ethnic groups, including Native Americans, have complained about certain costumes based on their culture while deriving them as cultural appropriation.

The rest of the store featured more benign costumes such as witches, ghosts, superheroes, grim reapers, and more.

There was a special Day of the Dead rack where people can purchase costumes for that traditional Mexican holiday (which falls on November 1-2).

There was this incredibly creepy looking Vladimir Putin mask.

It was a brief visit and I didn’t buy anything in that store. After that visit I went to Harris Teeter where I ate my early dinner. My queasiness had totally subsided after I finished eating so that was why I thought it was nerves rather than the stomach flu. I managed to go through the twilight networking event with no major problems. There were a couple of promising leads so I was glad I went. However, I ended up not following up on them until the next week due to what came the next day.

After the event ended I went to Giant where I found this pumpkin that was on sale so I bought it. I drove to another grocery store also in Laurel where I found even cheaper pumpkins so I bought that one as well. So I had two additional pumpkins that would join the pumpkin I purchased earlier at Clark’s Elioak Farm. I spent the rest of the evening carving faces into my three pumpkins in preparation for Halloween the next day until it was bedtime.

When I woke up the next morning I really felt horrible. The mild queasy feeling I felt the day before had intensified and I spent Halloween day alternating between diarrhea and vomiting (except I was doing more dry heaves than actually throwing anything up). I felt so horrible that I was barely able to give out the Halloween pretzel treats to the trick or treaters who came to my door. I was invited to a party at a friend’s house that would begin once the official trick or treating time ended at 8 p.m. but I ended up going to Giant instead because I was running low on toilet paper and medication. I went to bed early when I returned home.

The worst part of the stomach flu was gone by the next day but I was extremely tired and weak. I spent the rest of that week just resting.

I think what happened is that I had done so much in the days leading up to Halloween that it made my body more susceptible to catching whatever germs were going around and I happened to end up with the stomach flu on Halloween. I’ve had other friends getting sick with something similar so I think there’s something that’s going around and I was unlucky enough to catch it just in time for Halloween.

I’ve learned that I’m going to have to be more picky as to what holiday events I’ll go to and stop trying to attend as many as possible, even if they are all located within a few miles of each other. That’s a valuable lesson since Thanksgiving and the winter holidays are coming up in the near future.

Passover

I decided to check out this night networking event that was held at the UMBC Training Center in Columbia, Maryland. I decided to beat the rush hour traffic and head up to Columbia a few hours early. I hung around the Mall in Columbia for a bit since I haven’t been there in a very long time. Here’s a photo of the indoor carousel that’s located on the upper level of that mall.

I saw this incredibly colorful clown sculpture that was made from balloons.

This year is the 50th anniversary of the Mall in Columbia, which is why there was a 50th birthday cake floating in the fountain. The cake was made from balloons so it wasn’t edible anyway.

The Disney Store had this huge display because it had recently released the live action remake of its 1990’s animated film Beauty and the Beast.

The next photo shows the official doll that was widely mocked on the Internet as being ugly and looking like Justin Bieber. The doll was supposed to resemble actress Emma Watson, who played Belle in the movie, but I personally thought that the results were less-than-thrilling. I agreed with the critics who said that the doll looked more like Justin Bieber wearing a long brown wig than Emma Watson. (By the way a doll artist named Noel Cruz took one of the dolls and did a total repaint job. The results resembled Emma Watson way better than the original doll faceup.)

The Disney Store sold a larger doll that was based on the 1990’s animated version. I thought that doll looked way better than the other one.

The Disney Store also sold this Moana doll that looked gorgeous. I’ll admit that I haven’t gotten around to see the movie yet but I totally adored that doll so much that I would’ve bought it if it weren’t for the fact that I’m still dealing with tight finances.

I ate an early dinner at the Mall in Columbia because I wasn’t sure about the food situation. I was glad I did because this event had mostly snacks. After dinner I drove straight to the UMBC Training Center where the Coaches’ Corner event took place. It was basically an event where we received free counseling in small groups from various career coaches coupled with networking and it ended with a panel discussion from all of the participating career coaches. The day before the event I received an email asking participants to take photos of the evening, upload them on social media, and give them various hashtags. Here are my two photos from the event. The next photo shows the networking that took place before the panel discussion.

The last photo shows the panel discussion from the career coaches.

I only took two pictures because I was more focused on getting advice on finding jobs than taking pictures. I got some pretty good advice from the career coaches, especially on using LinkedIn.

A few weeks ago I took part in the fall yard sale which benefitted Changing Focus, whose support group meetings I have been attending since my husband suddenly walked out on me in late 2011. This yard sale was held in conjunction with the larger Festival on the Green that’s held in Crofton, Maryland. I didn’t have as much to donate as previous yard sales because I’m finally starting to make a dent in my own pile of excess clutter (much of which was stuff that my ex-husband had left behind and didn’t show any interest in picking it up). I volunteered to help with the sorting the day before the yard sale and to also help out with the yard sale itself.

The big challenge for me was that I caught a really bad cold right before that yard sale. For both days I took some Emergen-C just so I could get through everything without wanting to fall asleep. It was cloudy both days but fortunately the rain held off and it attracted a lot of frugal shoppers.

Changing Focus Yard Sale, September 26, 2015

Like the previous yard sales I was involved in, this one had a bunch of interesting items. There is this old overhead projector I remember used to be used frequently in classrooms from elementary school all the way to college. This is the really old-fashioned kind that doesn’t hook up to a computer and it uses sheets of plastic that were either printed on with a printer or written on with a marker prior to use. This one brought back a whole lot of memories for me while I also began to think that maybe this one is ready to be donated to a museum of some sort.

Changing Focus Yard Sale, September 26, 2015

And then there’s this JVC micro cassette recorder that uses actual micro cassette tapes.

Changing Focus Yard Sale, September 26, 2015

And a few blank 5.25-inch computer floppy disks.

Changing Focus Yard Sale, September 26, 2015

You also learn something new at yard sales. For example, I never knew that there was a jigsaw puzzle based on marshmallow Peeps.

Changing Focus Yard Sale, September 26, 2015

Then there were the dolls, such as these creepy looking ones in the next few photos. The boxes said that they were “Swinging Hobo” dolls but they looked more like clowns to me.

Changing Focus Yard Sale, September 26, 2015

Changing Focus Yard Sale, September 26, 2015

Changing Focus Yard Sale, September 26, 2015

Changing Focus Yard Sale, September 26, 2015I found Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy. I once had both rag dolls as a child. These dolls still sport the embroidery heart underneath their clothes that says “I Love You”.

Changing Focus Yard Sale, September 26, 2015

Changing Focus Yard Sale, September 26, 2015
Changing Focus Yard Sale, September 26, 2015

I saw this very cute porcelain tea set that’s doll-sized and would be perfect for a tea party. (I was briefly tempted to buy it but I ended not doing so because I’m kind of adverse to add new clutter to the household these days.)

Changing Focus Yard Sale, September 26, 2015

Then there were some items that I didn’t even know what the hell they were.

Changing Focus Yard Sale, September 26, 2015

Changing Focus Yard Sale, September 26, 2015

Changing Focus Yard Sale, September 26, 2015

Changing Focus Yard Sale, September 26, 2015

There were all kinds of stuff available for sale.

Changing Focus Yard Sale, September 26, 2015

Changing Focus Yard Sale, September 26, 2015     Changing Focus Yard Sale, September 26, 2015

Changing Focus Yard Sale, September 26, 2015

Changing Focus Yard Sale, September 26, 2015

Changing Focus Yard Sale, September 26, 2015

Changing Focus Yard Sale, September 26, 2015

Changing Focus Yard Sale, September 26, 2015

Changing Focus Yard Sale, September 26, 2015

Changing Focus Yard Sale, September 26, 2015

Changing Focus Yard Sale, September 26, 2015

I was one of the volunteers to was in charge of taking money from people who wanted to buy something from the yard sale. I bought my lunch from one of the food vendors at the Festival on the Green. During one of my breaks, I walked over to the Festival on the Green’s craft show that was held at the country club that was located next to the church where the yard sale took place.

Crofton Festival on the Green, September 26, 2015

Crofton Festival on the Green, September 26, 2015

Crofton Festival on the Green, September 26, 2015

Crofton Festival on the Green, September 26, 2015

Crofton Festival on the Green, September 26, 2015

Crofton Festival on the Green, September 26, 2015

Crofton Festival on the Green, September 26, 2015

Crofton Festival on the Green, September 26, 2015

Crofton Festival on the Green, September 26, 2015

Crofton Festival on the Green, September 26, 2015

Crofton Festival on the Green, September 26, 2015

Crofton Festival on the Green, September 26, 2015

Crofton Festival on the Green, September 26, 2015

Crofton Festival on the Green, September 26, 2015

Crofton Festival on the Green, September 26, 2015

Crofton Festival on the Green, September 26, 2015

Crofton Festival on the Green, September 26, 2015

Crofton Festival on the Green, September 26, 2015

Crofton Festival on the Green, September 26, 2015

Crofton Festival on the Green, September 26, 2015

St. Patrick's Day

Today was one of those rarities in the Baltimore-Washington area: a St. Patrick’s Day parade that actually took place on St. Patrick’s Day. Normally such parades (which are usually held in Baltimore, Washington, and Alexandria) tend to take place either before or after the holiday itself mainly because many of the participating bands tend to spend the actual holiday performing at the larger parades in New York or Boston.

There was only one other time in my life that I actually attended a St. Patrick’s parade on St. Patrick’s Day. I was 16 years old and serving on the high school newspaper when the staff decided to attend this convention geared towards high school newspapers that was held at Columbia University. We happened to be in New York City on St. Patrick’s Day so we attempted to go to the parade only to find out that the streets were so crowded that we could only see the flags and banners. We saw people wearing green on their clothes, their faces, and even their hair. We saw people getting very drunk on green beer (which I remembered as looking kind of gross). We decided to check out Sak’s Fifth Avenue. While perusing the merchandise (which none of us bought because they carried very high prices), we heard a glass shatter in the middle of the store. Some drunk had dropped or thrown a beer bottle right in the middle of the store.

The biggest memory came when we saw a group of drunken men wearing green makeup, green afro wigs, and green clothes. A pidgeon landed in front of the men. One of them yelled “Let’s eat him!” and they descended on the poor pidgeon, who promptly flew away as soon as he realized what was happening. The men then crashed on top of each other laughing and screaming.

To say that St. Patrick’s Day in New York City is rowdy is a bit of an understatement.

I learned that there was going to be a St. Patrick’s Day parade in Gaithersburg on St. Patrick’s Day, which happened to fall on a Saturday this year. I was in a mood to attend a parade on the holiday itself this year so I grabbed my camera and made the trek up there just in time for the start of the parade at 10 a.m.

Unlike New York City, Gaithersburg is a suburban town. The parade itself was held in the middle of an outdoor shopping mall. I also noticed that this parade drew more of a family crowd than New York and I didn’t see anyone get visibly drunk.

St. Patrick's Day Parade, Gaithersburg, Maryland

It wouldn’t be a St. Patrick’s Day parade without kilt-wearing people playing bagpipes.

St. Patrick's Day Parade, Gaithersburg, Maryland

It also wouldn’t be a St. Patrick’s Day parade without police on horseback.

St. Patrick's Day Parade, Gaithersburg, Maryland

A troupe of Irish step dancers

St. Patrick's Day Parade, Gaithersburg, Maryland
St. Patrick's Day Parade, Gaithersburg, Maryland
St. Patrick's Day Parade, Gaithersburg, Maryland

You can tell that this year is an election year since many politicians and political campaigns took part in this parade.

St. Patrick's Day Parade, Gaithersburg, Maryland

A troupe of Bolivian dancers take part in the quintessential Irish holiday parade.

St. Patrick's Day Parade, Gaithersburg, Maryland
St. Patrick's Day Parade, Gaithersburg, Maryland

This year is the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Girl Scouts of America. As a former Girl Scout myself, I can say that I am very proud that the organization has made it this far.

St. Patrick's Day Parade, Gaithersburg, Maryland
St. Patrick's Day Parade, Gaithersburg, Maryland
St. Patrick's Day Parade, Gaithersburg, Maryland

Mother Goose made an appearance in the parade.

St. Patrick's Day Parade, Gaithersburg, Maryland

Here are some more bagpipers in kilts.

St. Patrick's Day Parade, Gaithersburg, Maryland

That is one funky looking fire engine.

St. Patrick's Day Parade, Gaithersburg, Maryland

This year also happens to be the Civil War Sesquicentennial so a contingent of the Maryland Sons of Confederate Veterans marched in the parade complete with a kilt-wearing bagpiper playing “Dixie.” (You really can’t make this stuff up!)

St. Patrick's Day Parade, Gaithersburg, Maryland

Here is another troupe of Bolivian dancers at the St. Patrick’s Day parade.

St. Patrick's Day Parade, Gaithersburg, Maryland
St. Patrick's Day Parade, Gaithersburg, Maryland

Here is a group of Hari Krishnas.

St. Patrick's Day Parade, Gaithersburg, Maryland

Here is the mascot of the minor league Frederick Keys baseball team.

St. Patrick's Day Parade, Gaithersburg, Maryland

Here is yet another troupe of Bolivian dancers. I never knew there were so many Bolivians living in this area.

St. Patrick's Day Parade, Gaithersburg, Maryland

And here’s the signal of the end of the parade.

St. Patrick's Day Parade, Gaithersburg, Maryland

All in all this parade basically lasted just one hour, which was a little bit of a letdown. (I remembered the New York parade lasting several hours followed by people partying in the streets while getting drunk.) After the parade ended people crowded into the stores and restaurants. I decided to just get back in my car and drive home.

I spent the afternoon home mainly because I’m currently battling a cold. For this special St. Patrick’s evening, I’m going to take the advice that I heard during one of the meetings of my separated and divorced support group: Treat yourself to a homecooked soup that you make for yourself. I decided to make the Beef Stew With Guinness and Prunes that I used to make each St. Patrick’s Day for my husband and myself. As a side dish, I have some Irish soda bread that I purchased at Wegman’s a couple of days ago. At least I won’t have to battle the crowds at the Irish restaurants and pubs tonight. (My husband and I tried going to Irish pubs and restaurants on St. Patrick’s Day in previous years only to go home or to a non-Irish restaurant because of the crowds. That’s why we’ve given up on going to any Irish place on St. Patrick’s Day years ago because it just wasn’t worth the aggravation.) Plus it’ll be cheaper than eating out and I’ll have plenty of leftovers to freeze. Yum!

As you may have heard, some Evangelical Christian preacher and radio show host has been claiming that today is supposed to be the day of the Rapture as foretold in the Book of Revelations. Usually most people would lump him in with those street preachers you see in many major cities who carry signs that says “The End is Near!” Except the media had actually took this clown seriously just because this guy has a media company and it began to report on this guy like it’s a serious news story.

The guy became fodder for a lot of comedians. There’s even a hilarious Taiwanese computer animation about this.

It looks like Lawrence O’Donnell was correct about this guy when he made this rant on his MSNBC show. I expect that he’ll say “I told you so!” on his next show this Monday night because the world didn’t end today.

What was more disgusting than the media attention on this kook was the fact that there were people in the United States who took his message seriously enough to sell all of their possessions. This is yet another illustration of the famous H.L. Mencken quote “No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people.”

We need to stop giving that crazy preacher the media attention he clearly craves and focus on more important issues (like reducing the unemployment rate in the United States).

UPDATE (September 8, 2017): Since I wrote this rant that preacher, Harold Camping, died on my birthday without ever seeing the end of the world. As this 2014 Vice article puts it:

On December 15, 2013, after roughly 13 failed predictions, the end finally came for the 92-year-old Camping. He died in his Alameda home due to complications from a fall.

That same article also mentions how Camping victimized his own followers by fleecing them of their life savings after he convinced them that the end was really near. Harold Camping would probably be miffed that the world is still around and it’s still full of all kinds of living people, plants, and animals.

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