Hanging out in a car on a Sunday morning.

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Here I sit in the parking lot of the doomed Turner Field waiting to head to the start line of the Hot Chocolate 15K Atlanta.

Thoughts have been bouncing around in my head — so why not blog?

Joining Fadra’s Stream of Conscious link up. Setting a timer for 5 minutes and writing unedited and uncensored.

GO:

As I sit here once again in my car, alone, before running 9.3 miles with thousands of strangers — I’ve been thinking why?

Why do I leave my bed on a cold morning. Drive an hour in the dark to sit over an hour in my car to run for over an hour and a half?

A poser.

It was hard to get out of bed this morning. I toyed with some excuse. I was feeling sick?

But I pulled free of the covers and got dressed and headed out.

I guess — since time is drawing short — I do it because I’ve come to believe if I don’t — I’ll stop.

I’ve been doing this for decades. This is the fourth long race I’ve done in three months. Last Sunday, I was in Key West running a half marathon.

TIME.

Okay. My five minutes is up. I need another potty break.

Maybe I keep doing this because I can. And some day maybe I won’t be able to.

Thoughts? Any runners?

The link to Fadra’s blog. Can’t figure out how to post the pic blogging from my phone.

http://allthingsfadra.com

* * *

Okay. I finished. And it was a beautiful morning. As I type this with fingers sticky from chocolate — it is a good feeling. To participate. And to finish. :))

 

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Pink Flamingos and Epic Fails.

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Trying to jump back into regularly posting, I thought about joining the Finish the Sentence Friday gang.

That is, till I read the sentence.

When I think Epic Fail, I think . . .

Gosh. That’s kind of personal. Sure I could write about another person’s epic fail (or my perception there of).

A big movie that bombed. A politician who screwed up.

But of course that’s not the point. The point is looking at my life and asking the question, what makes me think Epic Fail?

Well, honestly we could just take a little tour around this room I’ve been trying to claim for my office.  As the rest of the house has transformed to a somewhat molting swan, this room has become my dumping ground. My Portrait of Doran Gray clutterfest.

Failure is lurking in every nook and crannie.

 

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This mountain of stuff. Part of this is the last pile of Christmas clutter that hasn’t made it up to the attic. Part Lord only knows. One of the Amazon boxes hasn’t even been opened. It contains a pair of plastic pink flamingos I got for my garden. It doesn’t seem right to subject them to the bleak rain and cold.

 

 

Next up a two-fer. A karate statue that needs the top glued back on and a pepper plant I brought inside to spare it a cold, frigid demise from freezing nighttime temps.

Seems I just sentenced it to a slow, painful death.

 

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And then there is this drying basil from my garden.

Notice the lovely blue ribbon.

That will probably still be here till the day they carry me out of here in a wooden crate.

 

 

 

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My road bike and its flat back tire.  Ugh. Those few beautiful warm days we get in the winter. No bike rides for me.

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Yes, when I look back over this room and my life — there certainly were things that seems like failures, big failures at the time.

But time has a way of lighting the path of perspective.

The karate trophy isn’t fixed so fail, but triumph that my youngest — little gamer — found a sport/discipline that he enjoys.

The basil and peppers. Fail. The idea of drying my own herbs is so hip. Too hip for me I guess. Same with keeping a potted pepper alive indoors all winter. But triumph that my gardens, the proper ones outside really do rock. Something I knew nothing about seven years ago.

My bike. Fail: Really should have taken the time to change that blasted inner tube by now. Triumph: I can change bike inner tubes albeit slowly. Something I couldn’t say a few years ago.

Not really much to say about the pile of Christmas clutter other than I just need to attack it. The pink flamingos will go out in my garden. I ordered the silly things because I wanted company for my gnome and my dad had a pink flamingo in his back yard. A total joke for my intimidating-looking, conservative father. But the bird became such a normal fixture out amongst the azaleas, it just made sense. Surely everyone should have a plastic pink flamingo in their garden.

The more I live the more up turns down and wrong becomes right.

Epic Fails?

Maybe not so much.

Thoughts?

 

Free-range or is it Freebird?

A photo posted by Jamie Miles (@southmainmuse) on

Finish the Sentence Friday

 

“Oh, you mean the house with all the cats.”

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Holy cow. It’s been way too long since I clicked “new post” on the old blog dashboard.

So many posts began in my head, so few (like zero) on paper.

But that’s about to change darn it and there’s no better way to get that blogging inertia rolling down hill like a once-in-a-lifetime writer.

Hemingway.

I guess when you reach name recognition with one word you are either internationally infamous or genius. Probably both.

I spent last weekend in Key West to run a half marathon. Hopefully, I’ll post about the race in a few days for you runners but I first want to write about our visit to Hemingway’s Key West house. The three of us — my husband, son and myself — all agreed it was a highlight of the trip.

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Yes, there it is with our nice tour guide to the left. Much of what is written in this post is from his tour. He was great (and I hope truthful). The young lad entertained with wonderful stories. He really was good. I say this in spite of the FSU Seminole t-shirt that he wore under his uniform.

What did I learn about Ernest Hemingway? This is what I remember.

He was incredibly handsome. He had dark hair, dark eyes and a dark stature. Okay. He was tall. Passions ruled his relationships (four wives), his hobbies (large game hunting and fishing), his drinking and his writing.

And the cats!

I was so busy snapping photos of the feline celebs and texting them to my cat-crazy daughter that I forgot to look for their mythical six toes.

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They all had wonderful names, but the only one I seem to remember is this gal who rules Hemingway’s bed.

Betty Grable. This is her spot and she isn’t shy about protecting her throne from other newbie kitties.

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The nice-for-a-Seminole tour guide told us that the first kitty of Hemingway House is attributed to this white ball of fluff in this boy’s arms. These were Hemingway’s sons from his second wife Pauline and it was her uncle that gave them this house.

 

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I took a photo of this photo when I learned that this was the first kitten and of its name.

Snowball.

See I had a Snowball as my first kitty. Or Snowy as she became known to us. Maybe it is something about growing up in Florida that crawls out of the deep subconscious to call feline white balls of fluff Snowball.

Snow. That mythical frozen magic that children in the Great White North get to experience.

 

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Yes. I kept taking pictures of cats and sending them to my daughter.

 

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This fellow was sunning himself out by the pool. Which was the first pool in Key West.

 

 

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The building is not only a pool house. The upstairs was Hemingway’s studio. One that was connected by a cat walk to his bedroom.

We learned that he started writing at 7 a.m. and called it off at five to stroll up to Sloppy Joe’s.

 

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The typewriter. How amazing is that?

This was my favorite kitty. She/he was lying in a window right off this room.

 

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“He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish.”

The first sentence in The Old Man and the Sea. He wrote this in Cuba — but the old man is modeled after a longtime Key West friend and fishing buddy.

A marlin.

I’m embarrassed to say, I’m halfway through my first reading of this classic and I always had the fish pictured as some great whale. What can I say? I might be simple-minded but I am always honest with you my dear reader.

And unfortunately I think I have the ending figured out after hearing one word from my husband’s lips talking about the story with my son — who read it on the plane coming home.

I was in a waiting room for an hour this afternoon and began reading.

As I read Hemingway’s words the room’s nondescript cream-colored walls disappeared.

I sat in a boat with oars dipping into the salt water and heard the lapping — slap, slap slap — of water on its wooden side. The heat of the sun warmed my back and sweat rolled down my chin. Ick.

The stinging weight of rope lay across my shoulders and burned my hands.

The water ran clear and deep indigo. And the rope slanted away at a 45 degree angle into the depths silently pulling the boat farther and farther from Havana.

Who can do that?

Write things that transport us to another reality without the aid of a helmet pumping a 3D virtual reality into our minds and senses.

A master with words.

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Picasso gave Pauline this sculpture.  The real one must be in some museum but how cool to have a Picasso kitty in the house of cats.

Hemingway was a man of Pulitzer Prize writing talent who traveled the world. Took lovers and married the ones he decided to marry.

He wrote and drank and fished.

Then he took his own life at age 61. The woman in front of me during the tour gasped when she heard this.

It was such an idyllic setting. It was hard to imagine the depths of depression he must have experienced.

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I took this goofy selfie not so much of me but of this lush greenery off the veranda off the 10-foot open doors of his bedroom.

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Not a bad spot to nap.

Not a bad spot to write.

Have you read Hemingway? If so, do you have a favorite?

Oregon or Ohio State?

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Ohio State or Oregon. Who’s going to win the first College Football Playoff Championship?

 

Based on my intensive research which was watching both teams play on New Years Day, here’s my prediction:

 

Ohio State.

*  They are huge. Or at least appeared that way lined up against Alabama.

*  Cardale Jones looked like he was the biggest guy on the field — who can throw the ball pretty well. As can his receiver.

*   And the Buckeyes are fast. To be so huge.

*   Urban Meyer is a great college coach.

 

Oregon.

*  Marcus Mariota.  My mom loves him. And he won the Heisman which says something I guess.

*  They are fast. Really fast. They had FSU huffing and puffing. Ohio State was Big Ten faster-than-Bama; the Ducks meet-George-Jetson fast.

*  The Spread Offense is crazy. Got to love that.

 

So looks like we got a pros on each side. What to do?

Use the never fail Helmet Test.

Yes, ever since Dwayne on What’s Happening revealed the helmet test, it’s my go-to strategy.

Low and behold, I found that clip on YouTube.

Look at 2:00. Yes, “The team with the fanciest helmet wins.”

 

Of course in Dwyane’s case, he picked the Tampa Bay Buccaneers over the Oakland Raiders.

The mid-70s Buccaneers never won a game but they did have great helmets.

 

That randy pirate.

 

In the show, the Raiders killed the Bucs. Yet I have quite good luck with selecting the winners with helmets. Unless I bet on the team.

Then they lose.

 

Okay. Back to tonight.

Well, I’ve examined the photos of the team uniforms for the Championship game.

Good grief.

 

The publicity stills really don’t give a gal a great look at the side of a helmet

The best that I can tell, Ohio State has a pretty clean helmet — except the stickers. You know, those marijuana leaves.

Okay. They are not marijuana leaves but I’ve thought they looked like that since I was 10. Old habits die hard.

Now’s here where my prejudice comes in. I hate stickers. If your team has the coolest helmet and it’s covered in tomahawks or dog bones or Fruit Loops, I’m probably not picking them. I say probably not because a really, really cool helmet might sway me.

But luckily, I can pick the clear winner, stickers or no.

 

 

Yes. Oregon’s got those wings. Pretty cool.

There you have it.

Oregon brings the trophy home to Eugene.

Thoughts?

Family. That’s it for me and 2015.

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Family.

Some folks live a few houses down from parents, others escape to the other side of the world.

I spent last weekend with most of my Orlando/Winter Park family.

My dad’s side.

It’s funny how the cousins I remember running around with on Christmas Eve as a child, are now older responsible folks.

Moms, dads, stockbrokers, pilots, doctors, business owners, lawyers, bankers, salesmen, CPAs, writers *me* — and the like.

We laughed. We shared. Well, I shared and listened. You see, these folks get to see each other all the time and I don’t. And for some of the time I was lost in the Land of How Did So Much Time Pass So Quickly?

At midnight this New Years when 2015 rang in, my immediate family made a toast. The new year is for Family.

In the midst of this selfie, constantly checking my emails culture, we — okay I — pledged to value our little unit in this vast swirling rock in the universe.

Yeah. My children thought my little toast lame but nothing is more important than supporting each other and loving each other — whether thick or thin.

And don’t get me started on how I died running in 80 degree Central Florida temps last weekend.

Pooh on this getting old thing.

Wish I had more photos to show but I was concentrating on concentrating on  . . . family.

What are your thoughts about 2015?

 

 

 

2014 — a great year after all.

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Here we were a few nights ago.

 

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Bad.

The only way you could know how bad this was for me and my husband is to glance at the column I wrote for this year’s Christmas supplement for the local paper.

No. The tree didn’t go through the door this way.

After a bit of panic and searching for the axe, I flipped the tree around and pulled it free.

Looking at our hall with an inch of standing water, needles, soppy magazines to prop up the listing side, all I could think about is bye, bye 2014.

This was a year that tests one’s resolve and the strength of one’s marriage and medication.

But there were too many things to be Thankful for:

So I’m jumping into the Ten Things of Thankful linky — early or late — and giving it one last go for the year.

Ten things of thanks for 2014.

 

10.  Attending the Erma Bombeck Writer’s Workshop.

 

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No. I never did get that post written but the laughs and the people I met there for three days in Dayton, Ohio saved me for a while.

In 2014 for first time in life I set foot in the great state of O-hio and Phil Donahue still can rock a packed house of estrogen. He really was that charming.

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9.  This spring, I had a class.

For the spring semester, I attempted a poetry class at the county alternative school. And it saved me too.

 

Heaven help those kids -- but we both learned something about ourselves.

Heaven help those kids with this teacher — but we both learned something about ourselves.

 

The best part of this story is that I’ve enjoyed watching all these kids thrive in their respective schools this fall.

 

8.  Deep blue sea fishing.

Never, ever done this. So, so very awesome.

I grew up fishing. Brim and bass on my childhood lake. Surf and salt water river fishing with my dad.

But this was the bomb.

 

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Could anything be more spectacular. Riding 90 minutes into shore watching flying fish . . .

Could anything be more spectacular? Riding 90 minutes into shore watching flying fish . . .

 

7. A retweet from Lee Corso.

I had forgotten about this fun moment.

 

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6.  I tried again at the world of Triathlons this summer.

And had a blast.

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Until I didn’t.

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DYING.

 

 

 

5.  Pickles.

Pickling cucumbers had long been a bucket list item. In 2014, got to check that off.

 

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4.  The Beach. Any beach where sand, sun, salt water and I communed.

 

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3.  After a lackluster few years, I had sunflowers again this summer.

 

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2. This summer, I finally got my pet snake.

Of course my husband will never, ever change the air filter under the house again.

 

 

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He’s so pretty. If I could remember his name?

 

 

1.  Sharing a beer at 9:30 the morning in the middle of Peachtree Road on the Fourth of July with my new best friends.

 

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Yes. Cheers to 2014.

Though some major potholes jostled my cart —

Looking back it really was A Wonderful Year.

What say you on this New Year’s Eve?

 

Artificial or no? The Christmas tree debate.

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“You’ve got yourself a monster,” declared Damon Malcom with a super-charged grin as he hoisted the lumbering evergreen beauty onto a cart.

 

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A monster. Oh dear. Better not tell my husband. My husband who had gone to find his truck in the mass of children and parents swarming Jack’s Creek Tree Farm the day after Thanksgiving.  No. I shan’t dare tell him we’ve reached monster tree status. Though just between you and me, this whole “monster” development sent a Christmas tingle of excitement to my toes. My husband won’t be so twitterpated.

I don’t get it. Every year of marriage, we’ve driven to a lot and come home with a tree. We’ve cut them down. We’ve bought them pre-cut. For a quarter of a century, we’ve selected the prettiest, most outstanding tree of the bunch, roped it to a car and carried it over the threshold into our house. We’ve strung lights and hung ornaments then taken the mess down every January 1 – give or take a few weeks. It’s a pact, a blood oath. It was in our wedding vows for pity’s sake. “And we shall haveth a monstereth real Christmas tree. Till death do us part. Forever and ever. And even after that.”

But the last few years, a tremor has rumbled through this force of holiday happiness. A growing earthquake in my joyous Christmas tree reality, one I didn’t know was a threat. A heresy. My husband declared we banish the needles and the 11-foot tipping over. The blowing of fuses and flipping off of breaker switches. The boxes of ornaments lying in the hall that we hurdle for weeks on end. His moaning started before Thanksgiving. “Jamie, I’m sick and tired of this tree mess every year. We’re getting an artificial tree.” He proclaimed it. Executive Order like.

I’m sorry. It’s not Christmas without heading to Jack’s Creek Farm the day after Thanksgiving. Weaving in and out of precut trees crowning the biggest and brightest rockstar of the bunch. Our rockstar. Who wants to miss Damon running around with more excitement and than me after ingesting a case of Red Bull. And now to know that this year, the stars aligned and we somehow combined a rockstar tree with a monster tree. <scream>

Give up that euphoria for a box out of the attic? Prying out a few meager stiff limbs that you fluff, piece together and plug in. Adjusting the branches to and fro. Who needs that? Evidently my spouse. “Jamie. We are going to get a nice 7-foot tree. One with nice 7-foot tree lights and nice 7-foot tree ornaments.”

Who wants “nice” when you can have “monster?”

After bringing our giant home, I tried really hard this year. I got the lights wrapped around speedy quick. I didn’t hang every faded Santa hand-print or decades old candy cane reindeer after our oldest suggested, “Mom, it looks like the attic threw up on our tree every year.” Our monster was decorated and boxes gone in record time. And writing this while basking in the glow of our statuesque decorated monster, I know it’s the most beautiful tree ever in the history of civilized Christmas trees. My husband? I’ll be sure to ask him what he thinks after he’s done figuring out which strand of lights blew a fuse.

 

The Blue Whale and the Baby.

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Merry Christmas y’all. Just got back from church and I need to finish some wrapping but there is one thing I’ve wanted to share with you all month.

The worshiping blue whale.

What?  You’ve never heard of a whale at the Nativity?

Never witnessed a 150 ton marine mammal bowing before the creche?

 

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See. I told you.

Alright. No one knows this little secret but me.

My office opens onto the Christmas tree. Every time I walk out the double doors, to get a snack or to walk the dog or to fold some laundry, I walk by our tree. And a few weeks ago I noticed the whale.

I noticed the whale noticing the baby.

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All five of you who were in Brownies with me might remember making this ornament. A tuna fish can spray-painted gold. A Mary and baby Jesus glued in the bottom, surrounded by heavenly angel hair.

The seven-year-old me thought it was magic. I still do.

The blue whale ornament is new to the Community of the Tree. I bought him a month ago when I spied him on a tree in some large store. You see, I have a soft spot for whales.

They are huge. They really are quite strange looking. They spend all of their lives plowing through the deep waters. For something that could be so destructive — they seem kind. Inquisitive.

That blue whale got what this crazy month of December’s lights, glitter and exhaustion is all about.

A golden baby in a tuna fish can.

Something the black labs in Santa hats,

Michael Vick — minus a hand and a football after a few rough years on the tree — didn’t seem to notice either.

 

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Bella and Edward in Twilight La La Land only have eyes for each other.

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Darth Vader is a poser.

At first, I was sure Vader had his back turned on the whole Christ child scene but on second thought, maybe he’s guarding the tuna fish stable?

 

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Who’s to know what lies deep within the heart of any ornament?

All’s I know is the blue whale is not gonna miss a thing where the baby is concerned.

I don’t know how he got there, but I’ve enjoyed him all December.

 

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Merry Christmas to all creatures great and small.

 

 

A Marriage Proposal. What did our heroine say?

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Last Monday, Beverly Morris, a friend and personal trainer, had her first post and invited all readers to join the chronicling of her journey to wellness after a breast cancer diagnosis. Beverly shared how this news came soon after learning of her son’s suicide.Well, there’s another wrinkle in the fabric of her story. And it’s a big one.

Here’s Beverly:

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Beverly going through some stretching exercises with James at the gym today.

 

“The Monday of Christmas week is upon us. The big question . . . when is my surgery?

When the doctors told me that I had breast cancer, they said we had to move quickly.

So I cancelled my flight to California. I planned on my oldest son and his daughters the second week of December. I had not seen them in over a year. My grandbabies were so heartbroken but my doctor said we need to move soon.

Then the doctors realized, I had no insurance.

I went through all the how-in-the-world-will-I pay-for-this worries. You guys who train with me. It’s going to have to be overtime, Boys and Girls.

However, in the midst of all my worrying. . . I did get a wedding invite — as in a proposal of marriage.

A good friend of mine, Mr. Strawberry Man, asked me to marry him. A very sweet offer because he has great insurance.

I had to remind him that I did not love him.

He responded, “I know that.”

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James (not to be confused with Mr. Strawberry Man) looks like he’s a little tight.

 

I’ve been single now for 20 years. So for all the single ladies, I have found how you can get a man.  Tell them you have breast cancer…

While Mr. Strawberry Man was very sweet and could have saved me a lot of time, stress and I would have finally gotten married; I knew it was not right.

Then I would have been relying on Mr. Strawberry Man and not God.

As soon as I made the decision that my hope and care is up to God, I got a phone call from my doctor who told me about an emergency medical assistance program not many people know about. I went and applied. Our county services didn’t even know about it. They said I was the first person in the county to have ever applied.

I don’t know how much they will cover? But I know that God is all in this….

God is always giving us a star. When the Wisemen looked up and saw the star, they took it as a sign. They knew there was something different about this one. They followed it not knowing where it was going to take them.

Look for that Star in your life. Keep looking up, ready to follow it.

In all that happens in life, there is a purpose. If only we can trust him to allow the purpose to happen even though we may not understand it.

His plans are good. His ways are higher than our understanding.

Be not moved by what we hear or see and step-by-step keep looking up for that Star.

I’ll keep you posted on when surgery will be. If this is the path I have to take, let’s get’r done.

Thank you all for taking this journey with me.”

 

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And once again, James is not Mr. Strawberry Man. Maybe we ought to have a post revealing Mr. Strawberry Man?

 

So our heroine — who could beat the cr@p out of most heroes — awaits news on a date for her surgery. She had a friend step in and offer to marry her, so she could share his health insurance.

Knowing that she didn’t want to marry someone for the wrong — no matter how honorable — reason, she trusts that God will provide. And she’s already applied for emergency federal funding.

Keep our superhero, Beverly in your prayers.

And leave her a holler in the comments.

 

 

Celebrating Young Artists. Or how I got talked into making four gallons of hot chocolate.

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I’m a creative type. I love to write, take photographs, draw and paint. Not that I’m equally adept at all mediums.

I had a painting of mine hanging up in a room of a shared house in graduate school. One of my friends saw it and asked, “That’s cool. How old were you when you painted that?”

Like 23.

But there are lots of folks out here in the rolling hills and vales who are fabtabulous artists.

Melindia Burnett is one of those peeps.

 

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Completely staged pic — but I think it turned out well.

 

Lindy is an amazing illustrator.

Before moving to Madison, she did killer things in Atlanta at the Portfolio Center and beyond. Out here, she lives in a Never Neverland space holding amazing art camps and after school art programs for elementary school and up.

This fall, famed animator Ed Murrieta visited her studio with some of her students for an afternoon. I asked if I could come. I wrote a little squib for the paper about him and had meant to blog about it — but darn life got in the way. Murrieta started with Disney and has worked the Cartoon Network, Warner Bros., Nickelodeon  . . . yawn.

 

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No sillies. He was amazing. An artist who studied with one of the last classes at the Disney animation school was instructing us on the importance of life drawing and study of form moving through space.

All in an art studio in a cow pasture in Morgan County.

 

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When I asked him why he drove out here from Atlanta on a weekday afternoon to talk to a handful of young artists, Murrieta said with a smile,”It’s hard to say no to Lindy.”

Tell me about it.

Her students were having an art show December 14 at the Madison Artist Guild to sell art they created at her after school program.

That’s when I got an email from Lindy asking if I would mind making four gallons of hot chocolate for the show.

No problem. I must have her completely snowed if she thinks I’m the kind of together person who whips out four gallons of hot chocolate and transports it to an art gallery opening like Martha Somebody.

But like Ed said — it’s hard to say no to Lindy. :)

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Alls I can say is thank God for Google.

 

 

To my amazement, it was really, really good.

 

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That could have been because the last time I dared have a cup of hot chocolate is was 1982.

I got to the space early, because I had the star of the show the hot chocolate. At least that’s what Lindy said to me. And I chose to believe her.

 

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The awesome thing about getting there early was that I got to preview the art.

And I fell in love saying to Lindy, “I want her!”

 

 

When I came back later with the family, the joint was jumping.

 

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The really awesome part for me is that I got to meet Kire’ana, a local 7th grader and tell her how her painting stole my heart.

The colors and the personality of the girl on the lounge. She’s in my office right now (the painting not Kire’ana, silly) and she makes me so happy.

 

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So we’ve got the art happening out here in Morgan County.

What ya think?

 

           

           

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