Thursday, September 28, 2017

Looking at the Goodness

Looking at the Goodness

     “I am going to touch some lives today.” That was Jefferson’s mantra for that Wednesday, one autumn afternoon. He had written a children’s book and he was continually adding text to it by coming out with sequels for it. The book was titled “Looking at the Goodness” and it was all about the good things to look at all around us and that we have God to thank for it all. His second mantra for that day was “God is good. There is nothing without our Lord.” That glorious first book was illustrated by Jefferson himself. He was his own artist and he was his own writer, for those two things he felt very blessed and grateful.

     The first page of this new book was scheduled to have a colorful illustration of the ocean and how it receded to the sandy beaches. Jefferson was a reader at different venues. He read to youngsters and also to the middle age group and the older crowd, basically just about to anybody who was in need of a good story telling. Jefferson picked up inspiration from the many things that he saw and experienced around him. He had his digital camera and with Shari’s permission at the bake shop, he took pictures of the cup cakes and cinnamon rolls behind the glass shelves. He loved to turn these photographs into unique drawings that he would re-draw with his trusty fine point black marker. Then her would take his finished outlined drawings, scan them into his computer and finish the pictures with a colorful paint program.

     Another few days passed and on his way home from the coffee shop as he was walking, he stopped by a construction site. He asked the foreman, if he could take some pictures of what the construction crew was doing. Jefferson explained to the foreman, that he was a children’s book author and artist and that he wanted to draw some scenes based on what the workers were doing that day.

     “Hey, yeah, my name is Karl, I’m the foreman here. Of course you can take some pictures. None of this is classified. If it were, I would have been told by some of the top bosses.

     “Thanks man, I appreciate the favor.”

     Jefferson snapped away at the different beams being aerially transferred from one high location to another. He caught glimpses of their hard hats and thought that they would make great drawings that could be turned to digital artwork.

     Next after lunch he found himself at the mall and he happened to be on time to watch the mannequins from one of the fashion boutiques be changed from one set of clothing to another. Everything the mannequins were wearing, were so upscale and chic. Apparently, a popular dress designer had signed a contract with a retail store owner and his dresses were considered some of the best of the best. Jefferson casually asked the window dresser if could take some digital snapshots of the dresses. He explained what the pictures were for, that they would be inspiration for some drawings geared for children.

     “Why sure of course, let me ask my supervisor Molly, just to make sure,” Cheryl said.

     “Thank you, appreciate you doing that,” replied Jefferson.

     After a while, Molly came back and gave Jefferson the okay to snap pictures of the dresses as they were being put onto the mannequins. Later, in his notes, he wrote that the fashion industry is composed of dress designers who draw inspiration from the cultural clothing beauty from many countries and that the goodness can be felt and seen by their work. Jefferson also wrote that only the passing of time could tell as to which fashion trends would last at least a generation of interest from the dress buyers, but there was always an ample amount of excitement because there was a large amount of attention derived from the general public.

     Then Jefferson went to the flower shop to take some pictures of some of the bouquets. There were also some creative centerpiece flower arrangements. They also seemed to be made more beautiful by the generous use of baby’s breath sprigs. Jefferson asked the florist Marty is he could take some digital pictures of all of the flower arrangements. Again, he stressed that they were for a sequel to his first children’s book.

     “Anything I can do for you Jefferson, your mom has bought her fair share of flowers from us, so I give you free reign at it, with your camera,” said Marty.

     “Thanks man, I’ll tell my mom that you said ‘hi’ to her,” Jefferson replied.

     For his notes, he wrote that God shows us the beauty of the Earth through the greenery and floral growths all throughout. He wrote that some of the flowers are made into garlands and some are made into arrangements and are given to loved ones during special occasions.

     A few days later, Jefferson walked by the Fire Department building and he asked the fireman who was washing down one of the fire engines if he could take some pictures. Gerry the fire fighter who was on duty personally told Jefferson that it was sure okay to take some pictures.

     The fire trucks that Jefferson eventually turned into drawings of his were scanned into the computer and painted fire engine red. They were put into action shots as they were driven out of the fire house. In his notes, Jefferson wrote that the neighborhoods where the firemen in fire departments that were easily deployable were some of the safest throughout the country.

     Jefferson went to the local record and cd store and marveled at the rock posters on the walls and ceilings of the different rooms. He asked the girl at the front desk if he could take pictures of the posters so that he could design some mock-up ones of his own for sequels to his children’s book. She said, why yes of course and off he went snapping away at the creative wall posters.

     When he went home that day, he created ad campaigns in a poster-like template and the message of each poster was fun and unique. One offered a free cup of coffee for every two muffins bought at a fictitious bakery. In his notes, he wrote that the beauty of this mock-up poster was all of the graphical swirls and outlined floral drawings floating around in the background. He further wrote that the beauty that a graphic designer sees as he or she is formatting a template was in the design of the artist renderings of the objects that they were working with.

     With all of the new drawings that Jefferson had amassed as a result of taking pictures with his digital camera, he was ready to make a sequel to his very first children’s book “Looking at the Goodness.” He looked to the notes that he had been feverishly writing down in between taking all those pictures. He had written at least one or two sentences about each group of pictures in his trusty notebook.

     He had a free account with one of the local self-publishing Internet sites so he set up a title for this sequel as “Looking at the Goodness, Part Two” and left it that. The next day, he picked through the hand drawn pictures that were painted in by the colorful paint programs and he sifted through the ones that caught his eye. He hand-picked roughly fifteen to twenty different pictures and then went back and matched up the behind the scenes notes that he had written about each one of the pictures he had chosen.

     Thus, after a few late nights and after emailing the editors of that Internet site, his project was officially approved and thus was created, “Looking at the Goodness, Part Two.”


Wednesday, September 6, 2017



     Arthur submitted a blog that reviewed the latest action-packed movie of the Summer. He really did like the movie and hoped that he did it justice by highlighting some of the better parts of it. He said the leading lady was a good match for the hero and of course the hero’s quest was one of many that his young life had embarked on lately. He also wrote about the way the period costuming was very authentic and how it showed off the feminine side with the long dresses and tiaras for the women.
     Much of the blog was only for the local web pages, but sometimes when word got around, that there is some genuinely meaningful content in a review of either a book or a movie, it will be read beyond the nearby circle of eyes. Time has a way of filing away a lot of text that nobody really thinks was pertinent to anything that was dynamically going on. That fear of obscurity hit home for Arthur a few months back, when he attended a car show, reviewed it and got some negative feedback on it.
     Therefore, now Arthur sticks to movies and books that already have a high approval rating. He feels that in writing about things people have already approved of, that he wouldn’t be risking getting an inferiority writing complex. A friend of his, Jane noticed this and called him in on it. She said that there was a symphony performance that was going to take place in two weeks time and she was encouraging him to go with her and then write a review on his take of it.
     At first he said no to the whole idea and then he reconsidered. He still had the fear that his words would be swept away, under the proverbial literary rug. He waited the two weeks, then on the evening of the symphony performance, he picked Jane up and they drove to the music hall. They found their seats and settled in for the next two hours while the orchestra played Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons.” There was also some original scores that were being debut that evening, they were going to be parts of the new animation film coming out soon. It was also a glorious night of song because they had a couple of tenors join in on the music.
     The evening ended quite nicely as they headed to the local cafĂ© for a bite to eat.
     “I’m certainly gonna do a good job, critiquing tonight’s performance, by that symphony. I’m really glad you made me come along!”
     “It was my pleasure to have been escorted by you,” Jane said.
     “In time, my courage will work its way up and I’ll be able to really review most anything that I become an audience of, it’s just lately, I’m scared of being taunted be the naysayers.”
     “Hey, did the naysayers have the great time that you had tonight? Did they have the special treat of a live performance by some of the greatest musicians out there. Plus, did they get to hear that famous tenor offer a rendition of a song that will be part of an animated film, due out soon?” Jane asked.
     “You sure got me there, I’d say if any of the naysayers saw any part of the performances tonight, that they would quickly change their minds about the way that they kick around meaningful reviews.”
     “That’s the spirit!” Jane added.
     The following night, Arthur wrote down what was on his mind about the symphony performance from the other night. First of all, the entire orchestra was impeccably dressed. The ladies were dressed in their finest black dresses, some of which had sequins on it. The men were dressed in their black-tie finery. Everyone took direction from the conductor, from the string section, to the wind section, to the percussion people, all the way to the singers.
     The music selection was fast and lively, which dispels rumors that symphony performances are slow and boring. The singers were on their toes and didn’t miss a beat. They were right on cue in every note that they belted out. Arthur also described how the general crowd in the audience was dressed and how everyone gave the orchestra, the conductor and the singers a standing ovation. The two tenors received the most applause.
     Arthur filled in the gaps of his review with some opinions of what he hoped the general public would come away with, based on his perceptions. He openly made a plea for some positive feedback for his review of the symphony. He had never tried that way of connecting with his blogging audience before, but he came right out and said that, the symphony is not for everybody, but that at least people should be willing to go see a similar musical performance at least once in their lifetime.
     In closing, he wrote that he hoped his review would reach the eyes of a wider circle of readers and that given a positive enough response from everybody, that he would do a similar review again very soon. He acknowledged his lady friend Jane for inviting him to the symphony and to not play it so safely when it came to reviewing the different acts in the local city.
     Then the comments started poring in:
     “What kind of reviews are you doing when it comes to music acts. I want to hear what you think of rock n’ roll bands…”
     “I appreciate that you like the symphony, but how about the proverbial book review of a good novel, once in a while?”
     “The symphony sounds like something I would take my mom to… it doesn’t sound that exciting!”
     None of the comments came right out and put down Arthur’s review, but some of them did nearly give him an inferiority complex. That was something that he was scared of experiencing and about halfway through all of the comments, he phoned Jane to ask for help in finding some positive perspective in all of what he got as feedback. Jane quickly did some damage control and told him that what really mattered was that he, Arthur had fun and that he, Arthur would probably watch a symphony performance again, and finally that he, Arthur was at the helm of his blogging reviews and that if he showed any signs of weakness from an inferiority complex in his writing, people would bite back in their comments.
     Arthur knew that Jane was right in all that she told him, so off he went to the bookstore, oblivious to everything else that people were saying about his symphony review and bought himself a novel to read and critique. Time had a way of healing old wounds, especially ones that affect our egos, because although they don’t show any visible battle scars they are nature’s way of testing our mettle. In reality, Arthur is the boss of his writing and no one could have appreciated more the gift that Jane gave him in finding the courage to review things other than popular books and movies and that although those two types of reviews are what he falls back on, in order to reach a wider circle of readers, sometimes you have to go across the pond to find things to review about.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017



     Cassandra was going out of town and the girl who was going to house sit for her, asked her if she could label things around the house. Cassandra of course, wanted to comply, so she used her label maker (the one whose labels could be easily peeled off) to print out some labels.

     She started with the home office. She labeled the desk adjacent to the computer, to be the ‘main desk.’ Within the desk, she labeled a pouch to house ‘extra pencils.’ She also had a pouch container for ‘erasers,’ ‘paperclips’ and ‘bookmarks.’ Then she labeled the closet within the home office to be the ‘main home office closet.’ Next, she had a reference table/desk, that she labeled as such. On that desk, she had a group of books and on one of the bookends, she put the label ‘reference books.’ In between those bookends were dictionaries, even a set of current encyclopedias.

     She labeled the main computer in the home office as ‘the family computer.’ Inside the home office closet was a bin labeled ‘copy paper for the printer.’ In there were also rolled up poster tubular containers that Cassandra labeled ‘rolled up movie posters.’

     Cassandra purposefully skipped labeling some of the other things in the home office, in favor of moving into the kitchen. On the door of one of the kitchen cabinets, she labeled it ‘pot and pans.’ She labeled the glass door to one of the cupboards as ‘drinking glasses.’ She labeled another kitchen cabinet to have ‘casserole dishes’ and ‘cake platters’ as well as ‘pie platters.’

     Next, she moved onto the hallway and labeled the side closet as the ‘hallway closet.’ Within the closet, she labeled many of the shelves as ‘towel shelves.’ She quickly went back to the kitchen and labeled some jars filled with ‘chocolate chips’ and ‘peanut butter chips’ that were in the refrigerator. She then moved onto the nearby utility closet and labeled the handle of the mop as ‘the swivel mop,’ one of the buckets as the ‘mop bucket,’ and the shelf where some rags were kept as ‘the cleaning rags.’

     Then Cassandra took a break from labeling and decided to go over her to do list. On this list, she wrote that she still had to go to the hair salon for her bi-monthly trim, color and highlights. She had to send flowers to her mother. She also had to remember to pay the gardener and stock the refrigerator for her house sitter Jasmine. She would only be gone for a week, but Cassandra wanted to make sure that everything of importance was taken into consideration. She just really wanted to be organized.

      Cassandra categorized her morning as ‘hectic.’ She went to the nearest coffee shop and sat there and made conversation with one of her neighbors as she waited for her blended mocha drink to be made. Her and her neighbor talked about property taxes and he reminded her that they would due to be paid very soon.

     Gary said, “Cas, can you believe it? My mother paid of the mortgage to our house and yet there are still property taxes to be paid. Personally, I thought we would be free and clear…”

     “Gary, you are so lucky that it’s just the property tax that you have to pay, I just recently re-financed and so my monthly mortgage is going to be for the next twenty years yet.”

     Cassandra had ordered two blended mocha coffees, and so as she sat there drinking one while she was conversing with Gary, she brought the other one home with her, so that she could enjoy it as a reward to herself later on that morning. She summed up her coffee shop time with Gary as a ‘glad-to-have-gotten-out-of-the-house-moment.’

     After putting the blended mocha coffee into her refrigerator, next she drove to the gift shop to browse their store. No one was in there at that time of the morning. In fact, they had just opened up for the day. Cassandra’s vacation trip was to go see her aunt in Florida, and she didn’t want to go there empty-handed for her aunt and two cousins. She looked around the store. She saw some sundresses that her cousins would like. She and her cousins were roughly the same size, so she seriously thought about buying them each either a sundress or some other warm weather outfit. She was thinking of a hat and some jewelry for her aunt. There was so much to choose from. She wanted to label that moment ‘confusing.’

     Then her cell phone rang. It was Jasmine on the other end.

     “Hi Jasmine, I’m just here at Gifts are Us looking at some stuff, what’s going on with you?”

     “Hi Cas, I wanted to ask you if you had a ride to the airport tomorrow?”

     “I was just going to take the airport shuttle,” Cassandra said.

     “Cas, I can take you and that way, you won’t forget to give me the keys to your house right after I drop you off.”

     “Sure, we could do that. I have to leave the house by 7:30 in the morning. Can you be here by then?”

     “I’ll be there Cas, I’ll see you tomorrow!”

     Jasmine hung up her phone and Cassandra finished her gift buying for her aunt and two female cousins. She ended up buying a few different things, then she went home to finish with her labeling duties.

     Cassandra wrote down some things for Jasmine as a reminder list for her to do during that week. She asked Jasmine to water her rose garden every day and to do some light dusting and vacuuming because her schedule had been so busy that she hadn’t come around to doing it herself. She wanted to describe that list-making experience as ‘strictly-adhering-to-what-has-to-be-done.’

     The next morning, Jasmine was at Cassandra’s door by 7a.m. They loaded up Jasmine’s car with all of the luggage and then off, they drove to the airport. It would be a non-incidental flight from California to Florida. During the flight, Cassandra enjoyed snacks and a light lunch. She even watched a romantic comedy movie. It was a smooth flight and their plane touched down in no time at all.

     Her aunt and cousins met her at the terminal and they all drove home to her aunt’s house excited to catch up with what was new with them.

     “Cas, Jill is graduating from college next month and Cathy here, has just started working at the local hospital. As for me, since my retirement, I’ve just been taking it easy” Aunt May said.

     “Well, yay! for all of you. It’s so nice to finally be here. I can’t wait to get settled in.”

     “Of course dear, but first we’re gonna take you out to lunch at a favorite diner of ours. It’s called Food on My Mind and they have the biggest portions this side of the Mississippi. Oh, you are going to be stuffed full.”

     Jill and Cathy pointed landmarks out to Cassandra during the trip to the diner. They all had big portions of hot dogs and hamburgers, milkshakes and cheesecake for desert.

     When they got to Aunt May’s house, Cassandra showered them with gifts – a sundress for each of her cousins and a California shirt and shorts outfit for her aunt. That summed up Cassandra’s week of adventure and she labeled it as ‘I’m-a-travelling-gal.’