Some Beautiful Artwork For Your Friyay!

Happy Friyay! I have a special treat for you today, an interview and artwork from a very talented artist. She’s not just an artist, but also my Mom. 🙂

What you’re seeing here today is but a fraction of the wonderful oil paintings that grace the walls of my parent’s home, and that of our families. I hope you enjoy and please feel free to comment. Have a great weekend!

This painting celebrates the trees in a farmer’s field down the road. The farmer had trouble with wolves. The trees were destroyed because the cows were too attracted to the Crab Apples. Glad I painted a picture of those lovely trees.

How did you get into painting?

As a timid child, in a large immigrant family, I started school at the age of six. I had teachers that encouraged my drawing ability. My love of art grew, as I grew. After my marriage, I moved to a farm, where my husband and I raised four children. It was a good time, and I did try to find time for art, but at first it was water colors. Later, I discovered my real love was oil painting. It is such a relaxing and forgiving medium; no rush, and if I don’t like something I can just paint over it. Oil painting is best done in layers, anyway.

Lighting is everything on a finished painting. The daylight gives it an authentic sheen that becomes more mysterious by lamplight, so the picture is never quite the same. That is what I love about oil paintings.

Taken from a photograph. MacDougall Mill in Renfrew, Ontario, Canada.

What is your favorite subject to paint?

I try to diversify, but the easiest for me is trees. I love doing skies and landscapes. Bright, cerulean skies, with whitish puffy clouds and shadows, is a great way for me to start a painting.

A peaceful fall scene. Again, from my imagination.

Do you enjoy listening to music while you paint?

Music is a staple in my life. I especially love listening to beautiful hymns. I am so thankful for easy access to talented, Christian musicians. I almost always listen to music as I paint.

No longer used by humans. Left for wild animals. A sad and lonely painting.

If you could go back in time and learn from a famous artist?

I would love to learn from the 16th century artists, who mastered skin tones and shadows. Someone like Rembrandt. I like art that attempts to portray the natural world, over modern art, though some of those can be quite striking also.

A playful winter scene from my imagination. Happy times!

This scene is from our backyard, on a calm winter evening.

A peaceful scene, and something from the past. A farmer’s wife wife bringing him an early supper. They are offering up a prayer of thanksgiving to God.

Thank you, Mom, for being a guest today, and for everything you’ve done for us over the years. We love you very much. But, there’s one last very important question. How did you manage to raise such an angelic, oldest son?

Ummmhmmm . . . (nods and smiles) 🙂

Meet Wendi Bierman:

Wendi Bierman was born in Holland and immigrated to Canada at the age of four, as part of a large family. She grew up in Pembroke, Ontario, Canada, and had a happy, busy childhood, with church every Sunday. She became a follower of Jesus at a young age, and has remained a Christian all her life.

As a teen, she loved roller skating, reading mystery books, learning to play music, and singing. Wendi married a farmer and moved to Athens, Ontario. They have raised four children, now married and enjoy eight grandchildren. Each one of those grandchildren has received a painting of themselves, at age seven, doing something they liked to do. Something for them to remember their grandmother in later years. Grandpa has added to this by making the lovely frames.

Wendi is thankful for everyday, along with the gift of art and painting that is in her soul.

Review of Born In A Treacherous Time (Book 1 Of 3), by Jacqui Murray

Well, it’s Valentines’ Day weekend, and also one of the coldest months of the year up here, in Canada. It’s as though Mother Nature is either thumbing her nose, enacting vengeance for a serious jilting, or attempting to fire the flames of romance by freezing the body.

If you ask two, ten, a dozen, or hundreds of Canucks, you’ll get as many opinions, or maybe a shrug, followed by, “Dunno,’ sorry.”    

The story for todays’ review takes place where breath doesn’t freeze scarves rigid, nor are toques a staple, even in winter. We’re traveling to pre-historic Africa.

What Amazon says:

Born in the harsh world of East Africa 1.8 million years ago, where hunger, death, and predation are a normal part of daily life, Lucy and her band of early humans struggle to survive. It is a time in history when they are relentlessly annihilated by predators, nature, their own people, and the next iteration of man. To make it worse, Lucy’s band hates her. She is their leader’s new mate and they don’t understand her odd actions, don’t like her strange looks, and don’t trust her past. To survive, she cobbles together an unusual alliance with an orphaned child, a beleaguered protodog who’s lost his pack, and a man who was supposed to be dead.

My Turn:

Jacqui does a great job of instilling a vivid picture of what most certainly was the red in tooth and claw existence, quite literally, of early humans.

The first in a trilogy, a solid foundation is built for the next two books in this series. There is plenty of action, yet I found there were parts that grew too repetitive, and perhaps could have been left out.

I must be honest about the fact some of my personal beliefs about the ‘coming into existence’ of humanity are in conflict with certain views expressed. I’ll not argue them here, nor anywhere, as they are mine. No amount of debate will sway me, nor will I convince those who disagree. I think it’s best to agree to disagree and leave it at that.

Overall, the information presented in this book has been well-researched and conforms to the mainstream view. The main characters are well constructed and there is growth based on experience.

 I believe this novel achieves what it sets out to do. As part of a trilogy, the entire series will need to be taken into account. As of this moment, I’ll give it Four Stars.  

Meet Jacqui:

Bio

Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-18 technology for 30 years both in a traditional classroom and online. She is the editor of a K-12 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum, and author of over a hundred books to integrate technology into education. She is adjunct professor on tech ed topics for the University of California San Diego, Colorado State University, and others. She is a Master Teacher, an Amazon Vine Voice, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics.  She is the author of the tech thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days as well as the prehistoric fiction, Man vs. Nature.

She’s best known as Ask a Tech Teacher, curator of the popular blog used by teachers, administrators and homeschoolers around the world. It is the go-to resource for advice, pedagogy, tips and tricks, freebies, help, reviews, and classroom materials in tech ed. She has been quoted in national newspapers such as the Washington Post and appeared in local education-oriented radio programs such as BAM Radio and CoolCat Teacher. Her blog has received many awards from organizations such as Common Sense Media and Ed Anywhere.

Jacqui is the voice behind Structured Learning webinars, providing training to teachers and administrators on tech ed topics like flipped classrooms, digital citizenship, Common Core Standards and tech, how to organize the classroom for tech, and age-appropriate tech to support curriculum and standards.

Her teaching philosophy can be summed up in two words: critical thinking. Start with organic conversations. Make technology authentic and encourage students to take responsibility for their own learning. Instruction is self-paced, differentiated and responsive to student needs. Lessons include Essential Questions, Big Ideas and self-reflection.

Jacqui works with teachers and school districts to integrate technology into their school curriculum and standards, running seminars on using tech tools in the classroom, introducing educators to popular ideas like the flipped classroom, differentiation, setting up the digital classroom, using tech in Common Core and more. She also writes articles and white papers for Districts to be shared on blogs, newsletters, and parent information guides.

Jacqui Murray has a BA in Economics, a BA in Russian, an MBA, and a California teaching credential. Before teaching, she worked in the business world for twenty years. She has a daughter who attended the United States Naval Academy and now serves as an Officer in the Navy doing cybersecurity, and a son who attended UC Irvine and serves as an Army SGT in the Signal Corps. She also has a brilliant Labrador Retriever named Casey—what a character. She spends most of her time teaching, reading, geeking, and writing.

Connect with her and purchase your copy:

My Amazon author page

My Goodreads author page

My LinkedIn profile

My Ask a Tech Teacher Twitter page

My Writer Twitter Page

askatechteacher@gmail.com

‘Fiction In A Flash Challenge’ Week #15 #IARTG #ASMSG @pursoot #WritingCommunity #fiction

pursootfictionchallengeHappy Sunday! Here is my take on talented Author Suzanne Burkes’ weekly Fiction In a Flash Challenge.  Authors are invited to write a short story about the photo shown. Please click on the above link to go to her blog site. Thank you so much, Suzanne for hosting this regular challenge!

Rosemary’s Treasure

“Grandma, are you sure you want to go up there? They’re in bad shape, and your hip.”

“Oh, pish posh,” Rosemary waved dismissively. “Should have done this years ago and those were built when quality counted.”

“That was seventy-seven years ago. This place has been abandoned for—”

“Twenty years, other than some vandalism, the bones are solid.”

“Maybe, but yours aren’t. Please, just let me have a look. The third floorboard from the back wall of the closet, right?”

Rosemary patted Emily’s hand. “I need to do this myself, with a bit of help from you.”

Emily wiped a tear and hugged her grandmother. “I understand. You were eight and you’ve waited this long. It was your only hope. All these years . . . ” Her grief soaked the purple shawl.

“Shh . . . I’ve made my peace. This must be done before I see him again. I pray God will allow it in Heaven. Father has the other half, that’s why they never found it on him.”

Rosemary’s eyes stung but she must show restraint, be the brave girl that her father had said she was just before he left for the Great War. “Let’s continue, shall we?”

“Yes, I’m sorry.” Emily broke her embrace and took the tissue from Rosemary.

“But you must let me check each tread before you step on it and let me guide you. Those are my rules, I’m sorry. I love you too much to lose you.”

Rosemary nodded. “Agreed.”

They moved ahead, arm in arm, with Emily sweeping away the debris with her foot to clear a path. At the base of the stairs, she tested the railing and was satisfied.

“You see, built to last. The stairs will be the same, though the third step might creak. I learned to avoid that one when I’d sneak downstairs after bedtime to grab an extra cookie.” She pointed to the room they’d just left. “My parents would be sitting in their chairs, Mother with her nose in a book, while Father would be asleep. I never got caught, but sometimes I think Mother knew.” Rosemary smiled.

The stairs proved to be every bit as resilient as promised, but every tread protested the disturbance.

The hideous orange and white floral-patterned linoleum flooring installed by the last tenants had chunks missing and revealed the hardwood underneath. Decay wasn’t always bad.

Emily gingerly walked her grandmother across the tripping hazard to the first room on the left. Time had left only a thick layer of dust, cobwebs, and a musty smell in the barren room.

“Hmmm . . . used to be a lot bigger,” Rosemary said. She blamed her watering eyes on the dust and mold. “I loved this room, but after Father was gone, well, we had to move.”

She sighed deeply and shuffled towards the tiny closet. Emily’s hand went to grab her arm, but she brushed it off. “I’m good for now, but I’ll need you to help me kneel.”

The old woman reached the closet and Emily helped her to her knees.

Rosemary struggled to remove the floorboard and Emily offered to help.

“No! I must do this!” Her face softened and her tears splattered into the floor dust. “I’m sorry, dear, I didn’t mean to snap. This arthritis is making it hard. Did they nail it down?”

After what seemed an eternity, the board yielded, and was hoisted with a collectively  held breath. Would it still be there?

Emily handed over the flashlight. The small beam illuminated only cobwebs and dirt. Rosemary dug frantically to clear them, and the light reflected off a silver object lying in between the floor joists.

Rosemary picked up the necklace with shaky hands. Emily gasped, for there it was, the legendary object that she’d heard about since early childhood.

A heart, with one half missing, the other half perhaps lay on a faraway battlefield.

Rosemary clutched the jewelry to her heart, and then wept loudly. Emily rushed to her side and tried to console her grandmother through her own tears.

It took several moments to recover, and Rosemary showed her the inscription in the heart. Because of the shape and the missing piece, it read, ALW TOGE . . . Always Together.

“Oh Grandma, is that true? Do you really believe that?”

“Yes, Emily, all of my life I knew he was there, and soon I will get to see him again and this heart will be whole.”

Don’t be a Cheechako!

I hope everyone had a good weekend, in particular my friends to the south who celebrated Independence Day weekend.

I haven’t done this in quite some time, but folks seem to enjoy it, so today I’m bringing out another word trivia. Now, these are not just any words, they are connected with my upcoming book. They stretch back to the days of the Klondike.

Please, if you can, practice ‘googlestraint’ and I’ll give you the answers in my next blog. Have fun!

bannack-church-and-other-buildings-3958320_400

Duffer:

A:  a slow-witted man

B:  the front bumper of a dog sled

C: a con man who is terrible at his trade

D: combining brass filings with gold dust to fool the weigh scales

Bunco:

A: a card game that evolved from Poker during the Klondike

B: a gold claim with very few, if any, yields

C: anything phony or deceptive

D: a low-class drinking establishment

Barabas:

A: Indigenous homes along the lower Yukon River built half underground, inhabited in winter.

B: in reference to the Biblical figure who was released instead of Jesus. A scoundrel who escapes justice.

C: a claim jumper

D: the buckle used to connect the suspenders to a pair of Mackinaw hip-waders

Kanin:

A: the canvas baffle on a rocker box (rocker boxes were used to separate gold from sediment)

B: the pivot pin on a weigh scale

C: an ornately decorated dugout canoe

D: the small overhang usually found on the false front of a business

Do you recall, Ancient One?

olderhouseysmall

Eyes fogged by cataracts of dust and grime

Rusted tears of neglected shame.

Those you’ve sheltered stolen by time

No one left to recall your master’s name.

logsidingsmall

Those skillful hands that built your shell, now rest beneath the soil.

Yet cursed with an extended life, you’re forced to endure each era alone.

Generations came and went, until the day that final breath came in toil.

The final master was carried away, and hence forth, you’ve been silent as a stone.

burnpitsmall

They gathered round your flaming hearth, to sing, laugh, and love

Stockings hung on Christmas past, enticing children to behave.

Can you still hear them, ancient one? Into your structure are those memories wove?

What of the one who wore this brace? To its support, was he a slave?

leggybrace