Coming of Age

The terms bar mitzvah and bat mitzvah “bar” is used for a boy, while “bat” is used for a girl. It is the coming of age for 13 year old boys and girls. I’ve been to a bat mitzvah, a niece of my daughter in-law. I so enjoyed the readings, rituals and overall. ceremony. The food afterwards was pretty awesome too. So why am I talking about this coming of age event? It’s why I was asked to do this commission.

This commission felt like “meant to be” kind of thing. So one day a few months back I had stopped at a medical supply store. Not my favorite type of store, but while I was there a woman came up to me asking about my shoes. You see I was wearing my painted Sylvester and Tweety bird canvas shoes. She noticed. She asked who painted them. Me!!!! I tell her, I painted them. She said she just thought of a painting idea but didn’t know any artists to ask. Then here I am working into her office.

She explains that her son loves basketball, loves Space Jam and this June he will have his bar mitzvah. They are throwing a party and she wanted something special. I get special.

She describes a 4’x3’ clear plastic panel that she wanted painted. She has a huge light box to put this panel in. She wanted the Space Jam logo in the center and instead of Labron James she wanted her son Henry. On party day, guests will autograph the panel with well wishes. I have never painted on a big piece of plastic before, but I love a challenge. I did some searching on the internet and putting acrylic paint on plastic is a common thing.

Like any new endeavor it turned out more challenging then I expected. It takes several coats of paint before it looks right. The more I painted on it the more I loved it. At the end I was excited to see what Henry thought, what his patents thought of what I did. I felt joy at the end of this project.

That’s why I paint. It’s for the rush. It’s for that feeling I get when I put my heart into a painting. I feel all warm inside and I’m smiling. 😎

Henry
The light box sitting in my basement.

The Service of Others

I love genealogy and learning about who my people were and what they did. I’ve had a few “holy shit” moments of discovery. I’m thinking we all have or will have while digging in the past. Fun Fact: I discovered two people who worked for the same agency as I did that were related to me. Not sure how happy they were when I shared what I learned. 🤪 I also found a great uncle who abandoned his first family, changed his name and became someone else. We found his new family through DNA 75 years later.

Recently a family discovered a photograph of a great, great grandfather from World War 1. I wish I had such a family photo. What makes this photo so awesome was that it was taken of a African American military soldier. Do you know how incredible this find is?

When the United States entered the great war in 1917 Black Americans wanted to show their patriotism. 20,000 black men enlisted and after the Selective Service Act over 700,000 more Black Americans entered the military. But all things weren’t equal. The Civil War ended but bigotry had not. Black Americans were bared from the Marines and only menial roles in the Navy.

Draft boards were all white. The draft registration forms had the corner ripped off so everyone knew that this person was black. Their training would be segregated. Very few men got the opportunity to serve in combat. The black enlisted were treated badly by not being issued proper clothing, not given adequate food and forced to live in poor or brutal housing conditions. Our black enlisted men were not treated the same as their white counterpart. Sadly after the war it never got any better when they returned home.

I’m proud to have been asked to paint this family photo. This rare photo of a man who wanted to serve. Whose parents were likely born into slavery. Jim Crow would take over where slavery ended. Separate was never going to be equal. The killing, the lynching and the hate never stopped. It’s still alive today.

Not sure how much has really changed when it comes to racial issues. We seem so divided in this country. It breaks my heart to listen to the news. So much anger and hate. This painting was an honor to paint. It was an honor to paint this American who loved his country. Who wanted to serve. Who would one day have a great, great, grandson and a great, great, great grandson who would do a life of service in law enforcement. He did not live to know these things. He planted the seed that ran through his blood that flowed to the next generations. It is important to do something greater then yourself. When you become a law enforcement officer you take an oath of office. That oath is a promise to protect and serve others.

In the military the first oath for the enlisted military was given June 14, 1775. It was and still is a very important final step before going out into the world to try and make it safe for all of us.

WW1 US Army Soldier Roy Logan and his great, great grandson Adrain Logan retired Major Wisconsin State Patrol

Feel the Love

Nothing is more heart warming then seeing two people in love. You see it in their eyes, you hear it when they talk, it really is quite infectious. We all smile back at young lovers perhaps remembering the beginning of our own love story. Yes, there is always a story that goes with love. There is a story when he or she proposed and there are stories of their big day.

My story begins with meeting my husband, before he was my husband, at a crossover on the interstate. This is an unusual place to meet, but not so unusual if you are state troopers. 🤪

I now kid him that I thought he dropped a fork when he got down on one knee to ask me to marry him. It was a fast drop and I had to be paying attention. He was sure people were watching us. We decided to get married outside at a beautiful botanical garden.

At the time we were saying our vows to each other, someone, outside of this peaceful garden setting, decided to burn some rubber with what I imagine was a souped up car. All we could hear was the roaring of the tires. I am not sure if anyone heard a word we had said to each other, but we did.

We actually got married on a Sunday, went on a honeymoon and came back to have our reception on Saturday. Yes there were people confused on when we actually got married, and yes we had a very logical reason for doing this. Just got to trust me on this one.

We arrived early at the reception wanting to personally greet every guest. But fate stepped in. My mom, who was very excited about the wedding and very excited to have out of town guest coming, got suddenly very sick while at the reception. So sick we had to call her an ambulance. My father, my new husband and I followed the ambulance to the hospital. She was ok. She was diabetic and her levels got too high. She needed to stay overnight for observation.

We went back to our reception. The food was all gone, but the cake still needed to be cut. Photos were taken and I got to dance with my dad and my new husband. It was a long day. If I remember correctly we took a bottle of wine home and killed it. All that had happened was crazy stressful. But I now had someone by my side to help me get through life’s many challenges.

We’ve been married 34 years now. We have lost family members, dealt with health issues, went to college, travelled and did our share of moving. Now we are retired. Now we enjoy grandkids, family and friends. It has been quite the journey.

But our journey started with just a look. With a simple cup of coffee and a lot of laughter. Just like this painting full of love and possibilities. I wish them both a lifetime of happiness and great stories.

“She Said Yes” 11”x14” watercolor on Arches