Tuesday, January 31, 2017

January Joy

Monthly Update

What A Month! I hope everyone had a great January! I have been creating a bit in my stained glass studio in our basement. I thought I would share what has been made this month. The above Texas flag window was made for my dearest friend Pam that is having an auction in San Antonio, Texas. I really like how the bevels frame the flag and how the star pops! 

I have seen several artist use antique glass plates in windows and I thought I too would give this a try. I hope to sell this window but I need to create a shop. My favorite part about this window is the use of textured glass.


I also made this cross pattern. I hope to make a cross for each month of the year. I did learn that I need to use a smaller bit on my glass grinder and I also learned that soldering glass stones can be difficult! However, I think this turned out ok. I like the complimentary cool colors.

In my second attempt, I decided to try and put the colored stones inside the cross. Again, I hope to purchase a smaller grinder bit so that the cross doesn't look so wonky. However, who doesn't have a bit of bent cross that they carry? After all, I am not perfect are you? It is hard to believe that I have been doing stained glass for two years now. I really do enjoy this art form. 

Alas, I did have cookie fail! I am afraid that I will not be winning the Pillsbury Cook-off again this year.  No worries, I have many wonderful bloggers that are helping me learn to become a better cook. 

My pen pals have been written to and nothing is better than a personal letter from a friend. Do you have a pen pal or wish to have one?

Oh and I had a photograph by Shelia Bolt Rudesill framed. I traded her with one of my watercolor that I painted. 

My Cat loves to sit in my lap when I read my daily devotional.

I did accomplishment many things this month and am proud of myself for having diligence. I have used my voice, tried new things, and made some great connections. Being a survivor of long term childhood and teenage trauma can be difficult. Like the pieces of broken glass, each part is becoming whole with a solder of love, healing, and awareness. I know that I am valuable AND I am overcoming painful memories while embracing much love and joy. 

I like this bible verse, "Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble." 2 Peter 1:10

What have you embraced this month?

Monday, January 23, 2017

Intermediate Music Merit badge

Merit Badge Monday

Music II


As a member of The MaryJane Farmgirl Sisterhood, we are each given an opportunity to earn merit badges. It is sorta like scouts for grownups. And, what a great way to learn new things. This month I earned my “Intermediate” Merit badge titled, Music.

To earn this badge, I needed to

  • Research one classical composer and one musician from the last 100 years.
  • Compare and contrast each, identifying the similarities and the differences between their music.
  • Share what you have learned with your Farmgirl Chapter, or with the farmgirls on the chatroom.

I chose Ludwig van Beethoven. Hey can you blame me! He is from the Romantic Era and well everyone knows what a huge heart I have. Composer Ludwig van Beethoven was baptized on December 17, 1770, in Bonn, Germany. He was an innovator, widening the scope of sonata, symphony, concerto and quartet, and combining vocals and instruments in a new way. His personal life was marked by a struggle against deafness, and some of his most important works were composed during the last 10 years of his life, when he was quite unable to hear. He died in 1827 at the age of 56.


It is rather easy to find information on the internet about Beethoven. Beethoven never married or had children. He was, however, desperately in love with a married woman named Antonie Brentano. Over the course of two days in July of 1812, Beethoven wrote her a long and beautiful love letter that he never sent. Addressed "to you, my Immortal Beloved," the letter said in part, "My heart is full of so many things to say to you -- ah -- there are moments when I feel that speech amounts to nothing at all -- Cheer up -- remain my true, my only love, my all as I am yours."

The death of Beethoven's brother Caspar in 1815 sparked one of the great trials of his life, a painful legal battle with his sister-in-law, Johanna, over the custody of Karl van Beethoven, his nephew and her son. The struggle stretched on for seven years during which both sides spewed ugly defamation at the other. In the end, Beethoven won the boy's custody, though hardly his affection. Biography.com gives more details about the above and his Short-tempered, absent-minded, greedy and suspicious behavior. Nevertheless, Beethoven had extraordinary talent and the fortitude to overcome personal trials. Ludwig van Beethoven is widely considered the greatest composer of all time. He is the crucial transitional figure connecting the Classical and Romantic ages of Western music.

Photo Credit: Axel Dupeux

For a modern composer, I chose David Lang. He grew up in Los Angeles in the ’60s, in a family of upwardly mobile, education-oriented intellectual Jewish immigrants. His father was a doctor whose parents had come from Lithuania, his mother a librarian, born in Germany. Their cultural tastes veered toward art, literature, sports—Lang’s dad taught him to keep score at Dodgers games—but not music. One rainy afternoon when Lang was in elementary school, instead of playing in the yard, his class watched a Leonard Bernstein “Young People’s Concert” featuring Shostakovich’s First Symphony. To introduce the piece, Bernstein explained that Shostakovich wrote it when he was 19 and instantly became world famous. The music enthralled Lang. He was 9, and his first thought, he said, was: “I have 10 years.”

Much like Beethoven he creates from a very emotion foundation within his soul. This passion began at a young age. In the words of The New Yorker, 

Lang is one of America's most performed composers. Many of his works resemble each other only in the fierce intelligence and clarity of vision that inform their structures. His catalogue is extensive, and his opera, orchestra, chamber and solo works are by turns ominous, ethereal, urgent, hypnotic, unsettling and very emotionally direct.” I have several cds by David Land and the above statement by biography.com is very true. The New Yorker states, “With his winning of the Pulitzer Prize for The Little Match Girl passion (one of the most original and moving scores of recent years), Lang, once a post minimalist enfant terrible, has solidified his standing as an American master.”

I find it almost impossible to write how both composers are similar except that they both were passionate about music, highly educated, and were very private about their personal life. Some refer to Beethoven as shy but some say he like Lang have an introverted personality. Personally, I see nothing wrong with this. So much is constantly published in the media that it is hard to know what is or isn’t true. I can understand why Lang keeps his personal life private.

I have always had a passion for learning and I find that music is not only a way to connect but creates an amazing feeling inside. Do you like music or play an instrument? How does music make you feel?

Sunday, January 22, 2017

A Huge Lesson Learned

Before You Read This Post!


I first want to give warning to this post. I recently read a book that my son was reading in public high school. I found this book very alarming and this post may trigger emotions. Please be aware what your child is learning in school. Speak up and know what is in the curriculum. Much like a one would not send an alcoholic to a bar. Please do not bother reading this post if you may be triggered by sexual trauma, suicide, or any other issue that might make you upset.

I hesitate to post this but I want others to learn from my mistake of not taking a more active role in what my son is learning in public school.

Thirteen Reasons Why
By Jay Asher


A book Review by Ginger Dawn Harman

My son’s education is very important to my husband and I. When I found out that my son was reading this in his 9th grade English class, I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to carry on the discussion at home. I am glad that I did! First, I was a bit taken aback from this novel since it includes suicide, rape, alcohol, and no adult mentor-ship. Furthermore, with such heavy topics, I was disappointed that the school did not include me as a parent as this was part in its curriculum. A simple note from the teacher would have been appropriate and the mindful approach that the teacher would take during classroom discussion would have made me as a parent feel a bit better in the decision for the school to use this novel by Jay Asher. 

Jay Asher writes a compelling and voyeuristic novel. It begins with high school student Clay Jensen receiving a package of cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker as to why she commented suicide. These tapes were sent to thirteen people (All Students except one adult who will receive it last.) Each student’s behavior is clearly blamed for contributing to Hannah’s reasons for killing herself. 

I understand that this is a very popular novel and is a national bestseller. It can relate to many different audiences. I also know that it is easy to focus on the fictional aspect of a book that isn’t real. Yet, this book does focus on some very real situations that many are aware of. The theme that Jay Asher is attempting is that, “we should all be aware of how our actions may affect others.” I personally like what Rachel said in her very public review of this novel. 

“I work with seriously emotionally disturbed children, teenagers and families. I read this book because some of the teens I was working with were very taken by it. I found it to be a very simplified caricature of a suicidal teen. Having worked with actual people who are actually suicidal, I can tell you, the '13 Reasons' that Hannah killed herself wouldn't have even made the list for most people contemplating suicide. It may sound harsh, but, barring any serious underlying mental illness (to which there was no reference), Hannah would never have killed herself for the reasons stated.

This is such a popular book, and unfortunately it does a real disservice to teens in their understanding of suicide and what to do about it. The idea that a counselor, upon hearing that a student was considering suicide, let her walk away without contacting her parents is unthinkable. Aside from this being unethical (which, granted some therapist's are), no therapist would ever think to act in such away due to the legal ramifications. Even the most incompetent would have immediately gotten Hannah help.

Aside from the above issues, comes the underlying message. What was it? Be nice to people or they might kill themselves? Be on high alert for people who seem sad? Mostly what I got out of it was that you are responsible for others actions. It seems very one sided. In truth, we all do cruel things, we can all think back on times when, for one reason or another we behaved badly. To say that human error deserves such retribution is alarming. Not only that, this idea of post-death vindictiveness is a very attractive idea to teenagers who feel misunderstood and unheard.

I found this book very disturbing and not appropriate for anyone under the age of 18. The details of a teen witnessing a rape while hidden in a closet and the teenage boy who allowed it to happen while standing at the door is inexcusable. Moreover, sending the message that one should allow a sexual moment with a boy because that is what others think about you is sending a message that young women have no voice. I also found the death of the older gentleman from the car accident caused by the cheerleader sends a message that it is ok to not say anything as long as you are not caught.

I do commend Jay Asher for the discussion questions at the back, He provides phone numbers and places to go to if you are considering suicide. Moreover, I appreciate his open discussion about a close relative that committed suicide. However, his audience should be warned that it may cause triggers and this book too can cause its own ramifications. Such as, I will now take a more active approach as to what my son is learning in school.

Sadly, I felt a bit like many of the adults in the book. The last to know. My son finished this book before I was aware that he read it in school.

With so many books on the market, I am sure that there are better books to teach and use for a 9th  grade lesson. 

 I do not recommend this book!

Friday, January 20, 2017

A Man Called Ove

A Man Called Ove

By Fredrik Backman


A Book Review by Ginger Dawn Harman


Wow! I just finished A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman and I don’t even know where to begin with my praise!  I was so excited when my library called to let me know that this book that I had on hold had come in. However, I was even more pleased that the audio CD was also available for me to listen too. Swedish author and blogger Fredrik Backman has created a cross generational, cultural masterpiece! With a simple message of love and a bit of humor, this book is a fine example of transformation, acceptance, and it all begins with a grumpy old man who wants to buy a computer. 

This heartwarming tale captured my heart even before Ove rescues a stray cat. As for Ove, who doesn’t know or have an old man that lives near them that is in charge of the neighborhood rules (especially the residential driving area), offer unsolicited advice, and can be rather difficult.  Underneath it all is a sad story of a man who has lost his wife and doesn’t have a friend. Yet, this book gives the reader a story about how everyone has an opportunity to change. Sometimes, change even finds you! Not only does Ove change but so does every character and reader alike. With a bit of kindness you just never know how you can effect or make a difference in someone’s life.

The characters are very well developed and the pace of this novel is steady. I did not want to stop reading. From the escapades of Parvaneh, a very pregnant Iranian woman, her husband, and two little girls Ove’s regulated life changes in an instant as he backs up a U-haul and they next thing you know, the neighbors show up at Ove’s front door. They just will not go away as he would like. Little by little more people move into Ove’s life.  Just as he plans to comment suicide for the fourth time, Ove becomes a hero and must fight off a newspaper journalist. The constant action will keep you hooked and you will experience a range of emotions from joy to anger to sadness all within a few chapters. One cannot help to fall in love with Ove!

My favorite quote was, To love someone is like moving into a house," Sonja used to say. "At first you fall in love in everything new, you wonder every morning that this is one's own, as if they are afraid that someone will suddenly come tumbling through the door and say that there has been a serious mistake and that it simply was not meant to would live so fine. But as the years go by, the facade worn, the wood cracks here and there, and you start to love this house not so much for all the ways it is perfect in that for all the ways it is not. You become familiar with all its nooks and crannies. How to avoid that the key gets stuck in the lock if it is cold outside. Which floorboards have some give when you step on them, and exactly how to open the doors for them not to creak. That's it, all the little secrets that make it your home. "

I also liked, “Love is a strange thing. It takes you by surprise.”

Author Fredrik Backman

This book did take me by surprise and I give it my highest recommendation! I also encourage readers to listen to the audio recorded version if it is available. George Newborn’s voice really captures the tone of this novel. So purchase, check out from your library, and read A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman.  

After all like Ove says, “A time comes for every man, when he chooses what sort of man he wants to be. And if you don't know the story, you don't know the man.”

Monday, January 16, 2017

Music Merit Badge: Beginner

Merit Badge Monday


As a member of The MaryJane Farmgirl Sisterhood, we are each given an opportunity to earn merit badges. It is sorta like scouts for grownups. And, what a great way to learn new things. This month I earned  my “Beginner” Merit badge titled, Music.

To earn this badge, I needed to
  • Learn about three of the basic elements of music: rhythm, melody, and harmony.
  • Listen to three songs from three different genres of music and identify the elements in each.
Marching on the field at The TOB East Coast Championships.

Last year my son joined the High School band. I admit that at first, I was totally against it. Band is a huge commitment and I was not sure if it would work with other activities that my son is involved in. However, after much thought and discussion as a family we made the decision to embrace the opportunity. My husband and I both have no musical background. We don’t know how to read music and thought, “Hey, this will be an opportunity for us too. Therefore, we decided to take music lesson from our Son’s private instructor. Sam Jannotta from Shepherdstown School of Music. The adventure began! We first learned  some of the basic terms such as rhythm, melody, and harmony.

Rhythm is the element of "TIME" in music. When you tap your foot to the music, you are "keeping the beat" or following the structural rhythmic pulse of the music. There are several important aspects of rhythm:

DURATION: how long a sound (or silence) lasts.
TEMPO: the speed of the BEAT.
(Note: Tempo indications are often designated by Italian terms):
Largo = "large" or labored (slow)
Adagio = slow
Andante = steady "walking" tempo
Moderato = moderate
Allegro = fast ("happy")
Presto = very fast

METER: Beats organized into recognizable/recurring accent patterns. Meter can be seen/felt through the standard patterns used by conductors.

MELODY is the LINEAR/HORIZONTAL presentation of pitch
(the word used to describe the highness or lowness of a musical sound). Many famous musical compositions have a memorable
Melody or theme.

THEME: a melody that is the basis for an extended musical work
Melodies can be derived from various scales (families of pitches) such as the traditional major and minor scales of tonal music, to more unusual ones such as the old church modes (of the Medieval and Renaissance periods: c. 500–1600), the chromatic scale and the whole tone scale (both used in popular and art-music styles of the late 19th and 20th-century periods), or unique scale systems devised in other cultures around the world.

Melodies can be described as:
• CONJUNCT (smooth; easy to sing or play)
• DISJUNCT (disjointedly ragged or jumpy; difficult to sing or play).

Harmony is the VERTICALIZATION of pitch. Often, harmony is thought of as the art of combining pitches into chords (several notes played simultaneously as a "block"). These chords are usually arranged into sentence-like patterns called chord progressions.

All these terms above were taught to us and explained in a great book titled, “Elements of Music” It is a very good book and I noticed that this book is very popular in the schools. My next task was what sorta genera or music do I want to play on the piano. I listened to several different styles but decided on learning some classical, Jazz, and a seasonal song. I am going to keep this part as a surprise because I plan on making a video of this in an upcoming blog post. Yes! Me on piano, hubby on guitar, and my son on Sax. It really felt great to be able to learn a bit more about music and pick out the different elements. Even better to do something together as a family!

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Jennifer Chiaverini's New Year's Quilt

The New Year's Quilt
By Jennifer Chiaverini

A Book Review by Ginger Dawn Harman

I am a huge fan of Jennifer Chiaverini’s Elm Creek series and I thought what a better way to start the New Year than with a book by the author. With the beloved quilting characters, The New Year’s Quilt will not disappoint the reader. This novel could be easily read alone or as part of the series. I appreciate how Chiaverini gives just enough of a back story to fill new readers in and not lose her avid followers.

Amish Quilt (I took this photo while on a New Year road trip with my family to Bird In Hand, Pennsylvania.)

"THENEW YEAR S QUILT tells the story of how the newlyweds celebrate their first holiday season as husband and wife. Not content to rest at home by the fire, they set out on a journey across the snow-covered fields of Pennsylvania.

Their destination is Connecticut, and the home of Andrew's daughter Amy. Unlike the Elm Creek Quilters, Amy has not offered her blessing to the union. Though her father has reminded her that marriage endures in sickness and in health, Amy fears that Andrew and Sylvia have passed the age where marriage remains a prudent choice.

Sylvia hopes to win over her new daughter-in-law through the lessons that quilting reveals about the bonds of love and family. As a gift for Amy, she undertakes a quilt titled New Year”s Reflections, whose blocks represent the holiday traditions of Elm Creek Manor. As she stitches the blocks, memories of a lifetime come flooding back, along with words of wisdom meant to celebrate the achievements of generations past and create hope for the future."

Amish Handmade Quilt photo from our family New Year's Road Trip

My favorite part of this novel is the theme of “Resolutions” and not to be confused with goals but to create amends of hope. Chiaverini uses her gift of emotional scenes and imagery to captivate the reader into examining their own life choices of to forgive and move on. Those who quilt will recognize the great detail that the author uses with the descriptions and myths of the various quilt patterns. My only disappointment was that this novel was too short. The novel can be finished in a day or two. Maybe the author could have added a bit more into Amy’s background other than her mother’s death. With that being said, I did enjoy the book and was satisfied with the ending. I like how the author does not create an ending that gives an easy solution but one that is a bit open to continue the story in another book. 

Amish Handmade Quilt

My favorite quote was, “... a family was an act of creation, the piecing together of disparate fragments into one cloth -- often harmonious, occasionally clashing and discordant, but sometimes unexpectedly beautiful and strong. Without contrast, there was no pattern... and each piece... would endure if sewn fast to the others with strong seams -- bonds of love and loyalty, traditions and faith.” 

Handmade Quilt hanging outside an Amish Quilt shop

I do recommend Jennifer Chiaverini but I would suggest this not be your first sample of her books. Circle of Quilters and The SugarCamp Quilt are in my opinion her best novels. Yet, don’t be surprised if you become hooked to the series like I have and you might even wish to learn how to quilt in the process.

" In The New Year’s Quilt, Sylvia hopes to win over her reluctant daughter-in-law with the gift of a quilt, and the truths quilting reveals about the bonds of love and family. As Sylvia stitches the blocks, each one reminds her of the holiday traditions of Elm Creek Manor, celebrating generations past and offering hope for her new family’s future."

Machine pieced and appliquéd by Jennifer Chiaverini using fabrics from “Elm Creek Quilts: The New Year’s Quilt Collection” from Red Rooster Fabrics, machine quilted by Sue Vollbrecht, 2007
Photo Credit of Quilt: Jennifer Chiaverini


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...