Cut Away Everything

Posted in Stuff on August 29, 2012 by Val McCall

When your words are bursting to come out, banging on the walls of your mind and begging to be released even if all at once, causing you to be flustered and frustrated as you try to re-organize them into a 140 character quip that even you can’t readily understand, read this post. Loved it.


Blaise Pascal once wrote:
“I’m sorry I wrote you such a long letter; I didn’t have time to write a short one.”

Pascal’s apology is contrary to the common belief that to write longer we need more time. We have all experienced, at some stage in our life like when we had to write essays and compositions for language or literature courses, how hard it was to do so if we had limited number of words. The lesser the number of words required, the harder it became for us to write.

Poetry is perhaps the hardest form of writing, followed by the short-short (story), and then the short story. The writer of the short form of fiction cannot wander like the novelist does. There is no place for him or her to ramble, since every paragraph, every sentence and every word has to serve its purpose of adding to the…

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Looking for the right piece of art

Posted in Art and Culture, Gallery, Stuff with tags , , , , on June 7, 2012 by Val McCall

Over the past eight months, my first floor has gone through a much-needed overhaul. Actually, my entire house has got a face lift over the past few years. It began with a dream for a kitchen that worked and an insatiable desire for no clutter. Having five kids, I have all manner of clutter and stuff. Someone moves and if there’s that certain “something” that they can’t convince their significant “other” to allow in the door … Where do you think it lands? In my basement or my garage or my third floor/attic/drop off point for all things homeless.

The Blue Meanies | Photo credit Wikipedia

So I turned into Momzilla, or as I often threatened my children when they were small, a “Blue Meanie” like the ones in the 1968 Beatles movie, “Yellow Submarine.” I got a dumpster and dumped anything that wasn’t nailed down; I did keep my other half.

We gutted half the first floor; created the much sought after “open concept” between the kitchen and dining room and went from a typical 1940s-1950s, Betty Crocker kitchen to a modern sleek design. Lots of stainless steel, granite and a minimal design in cabinetry.

I have tons of artwork to display but I began in earnest to search for something modern as a focal point for a new wall gallery. The color pallette is neutral so I needed something large with a punch of color and then to surround it with some neat black and white photos in various frames and sizes. I’m thinking Andy Warhol but I don’t want a picture of Campbell’s Soup or Marilyn Monroe.

And then it hit me. I have some great photos of my kids and my grandchildren; especially the ones they post on Facebook. I found one that I couldn’t have posed better myself. I passed the photo through some neat photo tools I have on my MacAirBook Pro and voila.

“IMK” Sasha 2012

I’m not going to say what the title “IMK” stands for. I’m going to let them figure that out the next time they’re here. Combining this with some neat photos of their parents and cousins in modern, traditional and ornate frames, and add some of my classical artwork, I’ll have a unique gallery; one that I plan to repeat in the living room and elsewhere.

B.B. King and Eric Clapton – Oh Yeah!

Posted in Blues, Music, R&B with tags , , on June 5, 2012 by Val McCall

Blogging, WordPress and the Social Media Revolution.

Posted in Blogging, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 2, 2012 by Val McCall

I started toying with blogging in 2003. I was fascinated with the idea of talking to no one in particular but possibly everyone who just might, for some inexplicable reason, surf the Internet and find me. That “everyone” was enticing. The fact that it was free and I was free to have my say, of sorts, was equally enticing. And once someone left a comment for me — even a spammer, well, that was it.

I didn’t keep my blog up. Busy work schedule, retiring and then trying to go back to school, vacations, family events and any number of reasons got in the way of me logging onto the Internet, signing into my blog and posting something. My other voice of reason couldn’t let go of the idea that while I could sit in my favorite chair and write about whatever entered my head at any given moment, I couldn’t do that on the Internet. What would one of those 5 people who decided to “follow” my blog think?

In 2007, that all changed and I began blogging in earnest. My focus was politics and the 2008 presidential campaign. I found a new tool for my blog — political activism; grassroots call-out to the masses to rally together and storm the Bastille in the name of sweet justice. Like Woodstock goers who now revisit the area of the infamous 1968 rockfest and stay at a local bed and breakfast, take a bike tour or visit the Center for Photography at Woodstock, hoping to find a photo of themselves at the rockfest hanging on the wall (or maybe not), the Bastille is now home to many shops and cafés, a beautiful subway station and an opera house; a real tourist attraction.

Place de La Bastille | National Geographic

I also found some sexy and engaging Internet tools, Twitter, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, YouTube and a lot more. I was in heaven.

As much as I enjoyed the blog platform that I was using, I needed to go to the next level and that’s when I found WordPress 2.0. Actually, WP found me. Friends who read my blog kept asking me when was I going to make the switch to WP 2.0. So, in 2009, I did.

Besides a host of wonderful themes created by fellow users, recommended links, tags and photos, widgets and the ability to connect to other social media tools, the “Freshly Pressed” section has become a favorite place for me. When I log onto WP, instead of going straight to one of my blogs, I check out what others are writing about. I discover new recipes, breath-taking photos, wonderful posts that make me laugh or think a little deeper, and most important, relationships with others through their postings on blogs that I follow.

Today, I found this YouTube video in one of the recommended links. It’s called, “Social Media Revolution.” How fitting for an old radical activist like me. Enjoy.

Rolling in the Deep.

Posted in Stuff with tags , , , on May 31, 2012 by Val McCall


Tracing my roots. Discovering new places.

Posted in Art and Culture with tags , , , , on May 31, 2012 by Val McCall

“The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe.” Gustave Flaubert

I’m writing a short novel about one of my ancestors (through marriage) — she has an amazing story to tell. Actually, I started out gathering up the research that my oldest son compiled about Nana. Nana’s colorful life is filled with intrigue and adventure and following the research lead me to her mother, which lead me to her grandmother and then I found her great-grandmother and that’s where a whole new world opened up.

No story like this can be without some great pictures; especially of the heroine. The Heroine was born in Madagascar, was the victim of a war between a few nations in that area, lost her husband and first daughter and then captured along with her second child. She was then taken from Madagascar and brought to the West Coast of Africa where she was sold to an English slave trader, placed on a ship and managed to survive it to Virginia. Then, her story begins in deepest earnest to keep track of her family and her homeland.

There are no pictures of the Heroine and I wanted desperately to have a picture of this great lady to share with the rest of the world. So, I did the next best thing. I began searching the Internet for pictures of Madagascar, trying to find some images from the 1700s – 1800s. None of what I have found thus far called out to me.

So I dropped every key word from my search but one, Madagascar. Here’s what I came up with.

This is Nosey Iranja where one can walk along this glorious white sandy stretch between two islands. Amazing. No wonder I’m part fish!

These are baobab trees. I’m learning much from my search. Madagascar is the fourth largest island in the world and much of its fauna and foliage, etc., can be found nowhere else on earth.

The Anatananarivo mountainside covered with colorful rooftops and native foliage coming alive with color and form as the sun rises is living art. Now, I’ve got to find my way there.

I’ll need to go soon. Deforestation, poaching and human sprawl is depleting this beautiful island nation of its natural beauty. Many thanks to Mat_71 and others who took these beautiful photos that have inspired me to push onward with this book and to visit this beautiful country. Check out the rest of the photos at Beautiful Places to Visit including the photos of Seychelles Islands next to Madagascar in the Indian Ocean.

An Educator’s Guide to Creating Learning Spaces in Small Places…

Posted in Art and Culture with tags , , , on May 31, 2012 by Val McCall

I had to share this blog post. It’s an awesome use of space and creativity. Makes you want to head on over, find a cubby and become a child again. I loved it and you will too.

An Educator’s Guide to Creating Learning Spaces in Small Places….

via An Educator’s Guide to Creating Learning Spaces in Small Places….