Feb 16, 2018

XOXO


Another card with just paper, ink, and stamps -- my fave. The small butterfly is from The Stamp Market's Papillon set. The sentiment is from Waffle Flower Crafts Balloon Messages.

Stamped the sentiment first and then a burst of butterflies (all my butterflies face up because in my world they should...) in Memento Tuxedo ink onto white linen cardstock. Colored some of the butterflies with Altenew alcohol markers Blush and Rouge. I hope to do a review of these markers soon. (And "soon" can mean anytime within the next few weeks!).

Here's a close up.


Since the alcohol markers bleed through the linen cardstock, I adhered the panel to an A2 card.

MOOD WHEN DONE:  Why does it still feel like Friday when I haven't worked in almost 3 years?  Regardless, it is an outstanding feeling! Have a great weekend!

Feb 15, 2018

Hero Arts 2018 Catalog Blog Hop and Giveaway


Welcome to the Hero Arts 2018 Catalog Blog Hop! I'm thrilled to be part of it.

The 2018 Catalog rocks. Check it out!  Details on the hop itself and the prizes are at the end of this post.

ABSTRACT SKYLINE BOLD PRINTS

I chose to work with Abstract Skyline Bold Prints. Love it because it's modern and graphic and different from anything else I have. Sometimes I have to step away from the flower patch...

I paired it with sentiments from You Are Loved Messages. 100% of the profits of this messages set go towards fighting bullying. Got to love that.

1. Foggy Card

For the first card, I wanted to create something that looked soft and a little like fog as it went up to the sky.

Blended Distress Oxide inks onto the white embossed design and then trimmed the panel. Flicked some water and added a few raindrops. Hint: blending on Strathmore Bristol Smooth paper is a lot easier than anything else I've tried.





2. Acting Like an Artist

Then I wanted a colorful, modern, abstract look. Put a small dab of yellow and magenta gouache paints on a craft mat and "painted' the stamped image with the edge of an old parking pass (the hard plastic kind that hangs off your review mirror).

The first time I tried it, the gouache covered up too much of the black lines. Toss. (I could have restamped the image after applying the gouache if I had a MISTI big enough to do so.  So, I mixed a tiny bit of water it into the yellow gouache with the parking pass, and applied it to the card, and then added some magenta. As I pressed down with the parking pass across the image, the paint spread thin and the colors mixed.

I love how the color changed as I added the magenta and played around with the parking pass. Used linen cardstock as it is very white and holds up quite well to gouache as long as you don't add a lot of water.



3. We Are All One

I stamped the image on water color paper, painted with Distress Oxide inks, lifted off most of the paint with a paper towel, and trimmed to get a different skyline.



SAFARI WILD ABOUT YOU


I also chose this set primarily because I "had" to have the giraffe!

1. Too Long -- Get It?






2. Awwwww

And, finally, a non traditional love card. Black "grass" is from the You Are Loved Messages set linked above. Yes, I know the giraffes appear to be walking on top of the grass. My giraffes are magical.



If you got this far, thanks!!!

GIVEAWAY! Hero Arts is giving away three $50 shopping sprees, drawn from comments left across all blogs in the hop. Please comment by Thursday, February 22nd at 11:59pm PT.  Hero Arts will announce the winner the following week. Good luck!

MOOD WHEN DONE = ***Grateful to Libby at Hero Arts for inviting me. I haven't done anything like this for awhile and it was fun.

Feb 12, 2018

Laurie and Ly: #theytoo

I saw a lot of battered women*** when I worked in legal aid. A lot. One was Laurie (not her real name) who showed up with green and blue and yellow bruises covering her freckled skin. But what I remember most was Laurie's eye -- I didn't think it was possible for an eye to look like that.

Laurie's husband had beat her up. The ER called the police and her husband was arrested. It was the city's job to prosecute her husband; my job was to explain this to Laurie and discuss her options (divorce, etc.). Laurie could leave him or stay with him. The courts and the police were not going to provide security for her. She'd be on her own regardless of her choice. There were no battered women's shelters then, so I advised Laurie that if she left, she should do so when her husband was not around, as leaving can enrage the abuser. I also told her that no one deserved to be beaten.

Laurie decided to press charges and to leave her husband. This was unusual. Many of the women I counseled returned to the men who had promised them love only to beat them, hoping and believing that they would change. And who knows the other reasons -- lack of options, fear, depression were all probably part of the mix. It's complicated.

So I was thrilled that Laurie was leaving and I told her I was proud of her. Laurie used the 13 hours that her husband was in jail before being released to pack and move out. Laurie worked as a waitress -- she had no savings, so she moved in with her sister.

Laurie's husband left the jail, got in his car, and went home. When he got home and saw Laurie was gone, he got his gun, drove to Laurie's sister's apartment, and shot Laurie. Two weeks later, Laurie died. They played Louis Armstrong singing What a Wonderful World at her funeral. I still cry when I hear that song.

I grew up fast after that. Every time I saw a woman who was being abused, I feared for her life. I never urged them to go back, or to leave, because I was afraid I'd say the wrong thing. I was no longer thrilled when they left. I just explained how the system worked and didn't work. I would handle their divorce if that is what they wanted, but I stayed neutral. I never thought I was responsible for Laurie's death, but I didn't want to put my finger on the scale again.

***

John (not his real name) was in the US army and, went to Viet Nam to fight in the war. John met Ly (also not her real name), in Saigon. They fell in love, married, and settled in Northern Virginia.

Fast forward a few years and John and Ly had 2 boys. John moved to Texas, leaving Ly and the boys behind. Ly came to see me because she wanted child support from John. Ly worked in an office but made so little that she qualified for legal aid.

There's a legal process now for dealing with child support across state lines, but back then it was much more difficult, and for many, impossible. We went to court in Virginia and got a court order giving Ly custody of the boys and requiring John to give Ly child support every month. All Ly had was a court order, but no actual child support.

I really liked Ly. She was tiny, but a firecracker. Ly told me fascinating stories about growing up in what was then called South Viet Nam. It was noisy and hot and crowded. Nevertheless, she wanted to go back and visit so that she could see her parents, but doubted that would happen. She loved living in the US ("This place is a dream. The streets are clean and there is so much food around here. No wonder everyone fat.")

In the meantime, Ly wasn't about to give up on getting child support. I contacted the legal aid office in the town in Texas where John was living but they declined to take the case. When I told Ly, she said: "How do I get my money?" I told Ly that the only way was to go to Texas and fight John in a Texas court. Ly left my office frustrated and angry. She had 2 small boys and no resources to fight John in Texas.

About 4 months later, Ly came back to see me. John had sent her plane tickets so that the boys could visit him over Christmas. The boys were 4 and 7 and she wanted them to see their father so Ly had sent them to Texas. Ly was back in my office because John refused to return the kids. Even though Ly already had a valid custody and child support order from Virginia, John went to court in Texas and got custody. (There are laws now that limit parents who live in different states from doing this).

Now Ly was really angry. "I'm not sure what I'm going to do, but he isn't keeping my kids." There was no history of abuse between this couple, so I didn't worry. Nevertheless, I urged caution. Ly responded: "What do you want me to do? Sit back and let John keep my boys? Not going to happen."

About two weeks later Ly was back in my office with her kids. She told me what had happened.

Ly got on a plane with her Virginia custody order and found John and the boys living in a fairly remote area. There were no neighbors around. Ly banged on the door. John came out and punched her in the face and went back into the house. Ly banged on the door again, screaming for the kids. John yelled for her to go away. Ly refused. John came back out with a gun and threatened her.

Ly got in her car and found the Sheriff's office. Ly had a bruise starting to show on her face and her Virginia court order. She demanded that that one of the deputies rescue her kids. Amazingly, two deputies drove Ly back to the trailer and extracted the kids, even though John showed them his Texas custody order. Within an hour, Ly and the boys drove to the airport and took the next flight back to Virginia. I don't think Ly ever understood how lucky she was to get out alive.

We went back to court in Virginia and Ly told her story. The judge loved it. He was impressed because women just don't get on planes and get sheriffs in Texas to get their kids, particularly when all they have is a Virginia court order. The Judge revoked John's visitation rights. John wasn't sending child support, but Ly decided not to pursue collection. ("I learned a saying in America. I quit while I'm ahead.")

I hadn't done very much for Ly, but at Christmas I found a box of gold earrings on my desk, 4 one hundred dollar bills, and a thank you card from Ly. Our office had a policy of not accepting gifts from our clients, and my clients certainly didn't have that kind of money. Ly refused to accept a return of the gifts, telling me it would dishonor her.

I don't know where Ly got the earrings or the money, but after discussing with my boss, we donated the money and the earrings to a silent auction for a nonprofit that was raising funds to create a battered women's shelter. It seemed a fitting place for these gifts. I went to the silent auction and saw a lot of lawyers, social workers, judges, doctors, and others raising funds for the cause. Everyone wanted this to happen and it did.

Laurie had no good choices. Ly didn't appear to have any choices, but she took action, and, luckily, got back her kids and survived to tell the story. I'm glad that, in some ways, things have changed since then. We have shelters, counselors, and a lot more awareness. But, sadly, there are still many, many Lauries and Lys. We still have work to do.

________

If you need help, or suspect that someone else does, please call the National Domestic Abuse Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. If you think your phone is being monitored please don't use your home or personal cell phone. I've included a link to the organization but if you think your computer use is being monitored, please do not click on the link. The link will tell you the following:

Safety Alert: Computer use can be monitored and is impossible to completely clear. If you are afraid your internet usage might be monitored, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233 or TTY 1−800−787−3224. Users of web browser Microsoft Edge will be redirected to Google when clicking the “X” or “Escape” button.





*** I'm aware that some women batter and kill men, and that most men are even more reluctant to report it than women are. They need assistance as well, although their issues are often different.

I'm also aware that, particularly in the middle of custody and divorce proceedings, some people falsely accuse each other of all sorts of horrible things. That's not an excuse for ignoring the overwhelming majority of truthful complaints.

Feb 8, 2018

With You



I've had this beautiful Mondo Hydrangea set from Essentials by Ellen since it was released. I've used it so much that I had to wash it today to get back the stickiness. But I never posted anything with it until today. Finally, I made a card with it that I like.

This was stamped on Strathmore Bristol smooth paper (very white and very smooth) and colored with some Altenew alcohol markers.  Die cut and adhered the flower and then added a sentiment and some hearts from Hero Arts' You are Loved Messages.  Disclosure: I did not pay for either stamp set or the die (but love them both!).

I'm entering this in the February Ellen Hutson Mix It Up Challenge, which is to mix Hero Arts with Essentials by Ellen products.

MOOD WHEN DONE = It's a cold and sunny day -- perfect for staying indoors and stamping. And now I'm off to tackle the treadmill!

Jan 31, 2018

Party Animals



This couldn't be simpler. Paper, stamps, and ink -- my favorite kind of card. (Of course, there's also the paper trimmer, $cor Buddy, the MI$TI and the cloth to clean the stamps and the Storage for all of these and the room to put them in, but that's the hobby we love....)

All stamps from Studio Calico's Party Animals (no longer available but there are many similar sets out there). Distress Oxide inks: Candy Apple, Abandoned Coral, and Worn Lipstick. Altenew black ink (came with a kit and is great.)

MOOD WHEN DONE:  Now I want to party! Oh, and thanks so very much for all the wonderful comments on this blog. I read every single one and appreciate them so much.

Jan 29, 2018

Problems

I had a problem. Although she was 25, Mary, my client, couldn't read and didn't have a telephone, and I needed to tell her the date of her court hearing.

What Mary did have was a TV that she had rented. Unable to afford the $300 purchase price, Mary signed a contract in which she agreed to pay $12 a week to rent the TV. If she made all the payments over a 2 year period, Mary would own the TV.

In case you don't have a calculator handy, Mary had agreed to pay $1248 over 2 years for a TV worth $300. By signing the contract, Mary also agreed that if she got behind in her payments she would owe, you guessed it, $1248. Did Mary know what she had signed? No, but she wanted a TV and $12 a week sounded good.

Mary came to see me because, after making 47 payments, she had missed one $12 payment and the rental company filed suit against her for the full $1248. It's been over 30 years but I'm still angry about that contract.

In Virginia, the fact that Mary could not read the contract she signed was irrelevant because she was an adult and had the capacity to take care of her own affairs. However, I planned to argue that the terms of the contract were "unconscionable" -- basically the terms were so outrageous that they "shocked the conscious" and, as a matter of public policy, the court shouldn't enforce them. At legal aid we made that argument a lot, and most of the time we lost. But every once in a while a judge would agree with us, and I had a feeling this would be a winner.

Since Mary needed to be at the trial, I drove out to her house to let her know the court date. Mary lived in a small brick rambler. The white trim was peeling and the front porch was cracked, but it was on a bus line and had enough bedrooms for Mary and her 4 kids. In fact, it was right next door to the hospital and the social services agency. Mary used her monthly welfare check to pay the rent, utilities, diapers, and things like the TV contract. I parked on the street in front of the house and walked up the steps. It was a hot, sticky, day. I rang the bell and was relieved when the door opened. I couldn't wait to get into the air conditioning.

"Is your mother home?"

A young girl, about 4, had answered the door. She was wearing dirty pjs even though it was 2 in the afternoon. Something that looked like peanut butter was in her hair. At that point what appeared to be the oldest of Mary's 4 children, a 6 year old girl, came to the door and told me that Mary was not home.

"Are there any grown ups there?," I asked.
"No," said the 6 year old.

Quickly, the other 2 kids gathered by the screen door wriggling to stand where they could see me. I could see behind the children that the inside of the house was packed with piles of clothes and toys and food and junk. It was a huge mess and I could hear the TV blasting.

I was alarmed. Kids this young can't be home alone, even for a few minutes. I needed to do something to ensure that the kids were safe, but in order to do that I would have to leave the house and find a phone (no cell phones back then.) And who would I call? Mary was my client. Could I turn her in for child neglect? I thought about staying in the house until Mary came home, but this made me uncomfortable. I didn't have permission to enter her home and what if someone claimed that I harmed the kids? Nonetheless, I decided to go in and wait for Mary.

As I entered the house, I was engulfed by a wave of heat and by a stench so strong that I started to throw up. I immediately backed out of the house and back onto the front porch. Of course Mary didn't have air conditioning. Quickly, I remembered that social services was right across the side street. It would only take me a few minutes to report that the children were alone. Could I do that? Could I leave them alone? What if they left the house? Could I turn in my own client? Was that even permitted? My mind was spinning.

I froze, caught between my concern for the kids and, frankly, my concern that reporting her would make me lose my law license.*** But, I couldn't stand on the porch outside with 4 kids huddled on the inside staring at me, and I didn't want to throw up in their house.  So, I did something foolish. I left the children in the house, darted across the street, ran to the social services office, and reported that there were 4 children home alone next door. I gave my name and Mary's name. My intentions were good, but those kids could have died in a fire in the time it took me to go to social services.

I sat in my car outside the house watching the social services folks enter the home, and then went back to my office, full of conflicting emotions: guilt for leaving the kids, relief that the kids hadn't been injured while I was at social services, happy that I had reported the neglect, worry about all of them, and, finally, fear that Mary would file a complaint against me with the State bar for violating attorney/client confidentiality.

Mary still didn't know about her court date. A court judgment against her for $1248 would be devastating -- it could lead to the garnishment of her bank account and then eviction. That's how it worked when you were poor. You rent a TV and the next thing you know you and your kids are homeless.

I sent Mary a letter informing her of the court date for the TV hearing even though I knew she couldn't read it. Maybe she would share it with someone. I didn't hear from Mary, and was unable to get the hearing continued. We had the trial without her -- I got away with explaining that Mary was unavailable. Based on the terms of the contract itself, the Judge ruled in Mary's favor. Surprisingly, the Judge let her keep the TV and ruled that she didn't owe anymore money. Had the circumstances been different, I would have been celebrating a big win. But when I got back to my office I sent Mary another letter, this time informing her of the outcome.

I didn't hear from Mary and, as the months went by, I never heard anything about her filing a complaint against me. I thought about Mary and the kids and guilt tugged at me. I should have stayed at the house until she returned. I shouldn't have left the kids alone. And then, because we like to justify our actions, I'd think about how she had left the kids alone in a filthy house and at least I had done something. I wondered what happened when social services got involved. Eventually, though, the constant flood of new clients with their urgent problems shoved Mary and her kids to the back of my mind.

About 9 months later I noticed that Mary was scheduled to see me. I was prepared for her anger. Mary shocked me when she exclaimed in one big rush: "At first I was really angry with you. I wanted to sue you because you were my lawyer and reported me, but I knew I shouldn't have left my kids alone. After the kids were put in foster care, I did everything to get them back. The county helped me enroll in a reading program. I can read now! And I have a job working in the cafeteria at the hospital next door to my house and it comes with health insurance and the kids are back home. Losing the kids was bad, but it gave me the time to learn to read and to get a job."

I was stunned, as this was the last thing I expected. Before I could react, Mary handed me more legal papers and continued: "But now I have another problem. After I lost my welfare, but before I got a job, I couldn't keep up with the rent and my landlord is trying to evict me. I'm afraid I'll lose the kids again if I get evicted. Can you help me keep my house?"

Mary kept her house (and the TV still worked!). We worked out a payment plan with her landlord, made possible by the $700 that Salvation Army gave to the landlord towards Mary's back rent. (Salvation Army was one of the very few charities willing to give cash in situations like this.) Mary was lucky that she lived in a progressive, generally very well to do, county. In order to facilitate the return of the children, Mary was able to put her kids in county-subsidized day care (it was cheaper for the county to help Mary pay for day care than for the county to pay for foster care or welfare), so Mary kept her job.

I had a problem that day I went looking for a client who couldn't read and didn't have a phone. But Mary had bigger problems, and the kids had the biggest problems of all. I'm not entirely happy with the choice I made. I lucked out that day, and so did Mary, and so did the kids.

It's been over 30 years since I left legal aid. When I did, I left it all behind and rarely gave my clients a thought. I was overwhelmed by their problems and my inability to help many of them. My brain needed a break from that much sorrow and frustration.

But, as the years go by, I find myself thinking back to some of my clients, particularly the ones who achieved some measure of success. It was the nature of the job that I rarely saw or heard from them again. Whether a book, a movie, or real life, I crave a happy ending, and even though I know it may be foolish, I choose to believe that Mary and her kids left the worst of their problems behind them on that hot sunny day.

*** I never learned for sure if reporting my client under these circumstances was permissible under the Virginia Bar rules. However, I am fairly certain that it was permissible, given that the safety of others was at stake.

Jan 26, 2018

Sweetie


Reached waaaay back into the stamp collection for this WPlus9 Sweets and Treats cupcake set.

To freshen this up, I used some patterned paper from an Altenew New Day card kit and used coordinating Altenew alcohol markers to color the cupcake. Can you see the glitter around the white panel and on the cherry?  It's there -- Nuvo Crystal drops. The white layer is popped up for some dimension, because why not?

This sat in my house for less than an hour -- it's in the mail for a birthday. Bam!

MOOD WHEN DONE = Got my treadmill walks up to 28 minutes yesterday. I'm aiming for 35 and then I'll work on the speed. I'm slow as dirt at the moment!