Marples the Clown with Daisies

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“Marples the Clown with Daisies”

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“Marples the Clown with Daisies” is an original pen, ink, and acrylic drawing by Gary Lapelle, resident of the Mountain State , West Virginia. Gary conracted polio at the age of three that left him paralyzed from the neck down. Gary is now able to walk and has partial use of his right hand and arm from surgery and rehabilitation. This greeting card was reproduced from an original artwork by Gary Lapelle for THASC Sales Co. which has employed a unique group of handicapped artists who create art to help rehabilitate themselves. They gain self-respect and pride through their artwork.
“Marples the Clown with Daisies” is an original pen, ink, and acrylic drawing by Gary Lapelle, resident of the Mountain State , West Virginia. Gary conracted polio at the age of three that left him paralyzed from the neck down. Gary is now able to walk and has partial use of his right hand and arm from surgery and rehabilitation. This greeting card was reproduced from an original artwork by Gary Lapelle for THASC Sales Co. which has employed a unique group of handicapped artists who create art to help rehabilitate themselves. They gain self-respect and pride through their artwork.
Most children love going to the circus and being entertained by funny clowns of all shapes and sizes who make them laugh. The principal types of clowns are the “whiteface”, just that, ie., it uses clown white makeup to cover the face and neck, and is more sophisticated, sometimes seen wearing the ruffled collar. They are also called the “sad clown”. I have a small clown doll on my shelf which will show you what I mean:

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20150415_082512-1The ‘auguste” face usually has the mouth and eyes thickly outlined in white. Usually his costume is either too big or too small and his role is being confused or foolish. To give you an idea of what an auguste clown, also known as the “happy clown” would look like, I’d like to show you my Capo di Monte clown which I purchased in Venice many years ago. It has great attention to detail. First, let’s look at the face make-up (note the mouth and eyes in white)

Clown costumes tend to also exagerate some body parts, such at the feet and noses. You will note the oversized shoes on my clown:

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The character clown in the American circus is usually either a hobo, tramp or bum clown. Emmett Kelly, Red Skelton, Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin were all character clowns. Clowns don’t talk but rather use props like a squirting flower or riding a “clown bike” to evoke humor. Sometimes clowns do, however, perform other skils in the circus, like walking a tight rope or riding a horse. Time to look at my clown in full: Note the large bubble nose and the “squirting” flower on the lapel and his oversized trousers:

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Some people have expressed a fear of clowns, particularly those in the circus The term “coulrophobia” is used to describe this fear as abnormal or irrational fear of clowns. Some argue that notorious figures in real life (John Wayne Gacy) have contributed to this fear. Additionally the fact that much of a clown’s behavior is anti-social can create feelings of unease. NOTE 1.

When I see a clown, I think immediately of Judy Collins classic “Send in the Clowns.” I actually have a clown music box that plays the song.
Here are some of the lyrics:

20150415_082211-1“Isn’t it bliss?
Don’t you approve?
One who keeps tearing around,
One who can’t move….
Where are the clowns?
Send in the clowns.

Don’t you love farce?
My fault, I fear. I thought you’d want what I want…
Sorry my dear!
And where are the clowns
Send in the clowns
Don’t bother, they’re here.”

Hope you all enjoyed our blog on clowns which was inspired by THASC artist Gary Lapelle. Marples looks like a “happy clown” to me. What do you think?

Join me on the last Thursday in May to salute those whom we honor on Saturday, May 30, Memorial Day.

-Maria

Note 1. “Why Are Some People Afraid of Clowns?”, Zidbits. October 20, 2011.

THASC is a unique small American business producing cards and other promotional products.
www.thasc.com

Beach Front

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“Beach Front”

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“Beach Front” is a watercolor painting by Christopher Kuster, resident of the Sunshine State, Florida. Christopher is a Quadriplegic from a swimming accident in 1992. Christopher paints with a brush held in his mouth and enjoys spending time with his art. This greeting card was reproduced from an original watercolor painting by Christopher Kuster for THASC Sales Co., which has employed a unique group of handicapped artists who create art to help rehabilitate themselves. They gain self-respect and pride through their artwork.
“Beach Front” is a watercolor painting by Christopher Kuster, resident of the Sunshine State, Florida. Christopher is a Quadriplegic from a swimming accident in 1992. Christopher paints with a brush held in his mouth and enjoys spending time with his art. This greeting card was reproduced from an original watercolor painting by Christopher Kuster for THASC Sales Co., which has employed a unique group of handicapped artists who create art to help rehabilitate themselves. They gain self-respect and pride through their artwork.

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New Englanders like me wait with baited breath for the arrival of beach weather. In comparison to our long, long, cold, snowy winters, our summers last really only two months so the anticipation of its arrival drives many of us to the beaches even before they officially open on Memorial Day. Rhode Island is known as the Ocean State and has some of the most beautiful beaches on the northern east coast. When I lived in Boston, I noticed the Bostonians wear hardly any outer clothing at the first sign of a day over 50 degrees. Most of the young people are wearing shorts and T-shirts as I always was still “freezing” until it was really, really hot. In fact I shed my down jacket yesterday afternoon for the first time this year and I still have my heat on!

20140619_160504For those who are fortunate enough to own properties on or near the beach front, renting your little house or bungalow can be very profitable during the summer. Rates per week are exorbitant as everyone wants a piece of the action or, should I say, a piece of the sun.

My best friend Ruth’s sister Gini rents a cottage every week in June down in Narragansett, R.I. in a quiet private village called Breakwater Village. In fact she has to start looking a year in advance to secure a place for the week. Everyone takes a chance that the weather during his or her week will be bright and sunny. Some are less fortunate. The week that Gini chooses is always the week that includes Ruthie’s birthday and all the “girlfriends” are invited for the week. The week kicks off with a huge lobster dinner (I think everyone but me likes lobster) and the gentlemen are invited to join for that day only!

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Most of our time is spent on the private beach or on the lawn chairs reading or sunbathing. Most of the girls opt for the beach, which is not far from the cottage down a small dirt path.

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In the early evening we take a walk around the village and talk to people who are sipping on a glass of wine or enjoying a sailboat pass by.

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Christopher Kuster’s painting reminds me a lot of the quaint little beach houses in Cedar Key, FL, with their pastel fronts and the cool palm trees swaying in the breeze. If you have never been to Cedar Key, put it on your list of beautiful places to visit when you are in north central Florida.. This quiet little town has fewer than 1000 permanent residents and is full of great shops, terrific restaurants and seafood. In fact Cedar Key rivals New England as one of the nation’s top sources of farm-raised clams.

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Back at Breakwater Village in Narragansett, we are getting ready for Ruthie’s birthday party. What better way to end the week with celebration and a wonderful view of the bay? No matter what part of the country you have your favorite getaway cottage at the beach, THASC’s Christopher Kuster reminds us that it is all where we want to be come summer.

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Ruthie and me
Ruthie and me

Have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend which is the signal for the official opening of summer beaches in Rhode Island and more importantly the remembrance of our veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice so that we may be there.

See you on Thursday.
Regards from Breakwater.

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-Maria

THASC is a unique small American business producing cards and other promotional products.
www.thasc.com

Among My Souvenirs

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“Rocking Horse”

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“Rocking Horse” is an oil painting by Grace Hedlund, resident of the Empire State, New York. In June, 2003, Grace suffered a head injury that caused her impairment in the left side of her body, loss of balance and loss of memory. Grace is still able to paint but finds other activities difficult and exhausting. This greeting card was reproduced from an original artwork by Grace Hedlund for THAC Sales Co. which has employed a unique group of handicapped artists who create art to help rehabilitate themselves. They gain self-respect and pride through their work.
Howdy Doody doll
Howdy Doody doll

I am one of those people that I guess you would call a collector. Some prefer to call me a pack rat since I hold on to things I love for a long time. Sound familiar? Most of them were given to me by someone or left behind by someone and others I bought and can’t seem to part with. When I first saw the “Rocking Horse” painting by Grace Hedlund, it reminded me of those special toys from childhood and then I loved to collect dolls like most little girls. My favorite doll might surprise you. My favorite one was a Howdy Doody doll which I got when I was about 7 years old. Back then he was all spiffed up and had a straw cowboy hat and some leather cowboy boots and a nifty checked scarf which matched his shirt tied around his neck. Over the years he’s a little worn out: he’s lost his cowboy boots, hat and scarf and he’s broken his nose. Most of the children who come over now are afraid of him and make me hide him, but I’ll never get rid of him. He’s too precious a memory and still has his spot on my bedroom pillow after all these years.

20150405_143128I’m also in love with anything made of ceramic or glass. An old friend, Mr. Charles Anderson, had a clock collection for years when I rented an apartment from him. There was one special clock, the most beautiful I’d ever seen, I may add, totally of ceramic and hand-painted a lovely violet with little flowers. It still chimes on the hour and sometimes on the half as well. When he passed, I bought it from his estate back in the 70’s and although I’ve transported it to many places, it still remains chip free. It’s a beauty and I’ve had it for so long now, how can I ever part with it?

20150405_142536-1My mom left behind a number of teapots but none is as pretty and beautifully decorated as the deep blue one with detailed gold trim. I have to admit that I’d rather admire it than use it for fear of breaking it, so it sits on a shelf in my cluttered basement collecting dust. I must find a way to fit it into the kitchen one of these days!!!

20150405_142929When I was living in Beijing in the late 90’s, I invited my sister to come over and spend close to a month with me. My brother knew how much living and teaching in China meant to me and for Christmas the following year gifted me with a very touching hand-painted ceramic piece of two Chinese women sitting on a bench sharing stories, much like my sister and I had done. China was a very special trip for us and she was quite the star with her bright red hair! I have a room where I dedicate a bookcase and other built-in ones for my Chinese souvenirs, like the medals we both received for climbing the Great Wall and the statues of the Terracotta Warriors from Xian. On the top shelf, however, sits the ceramic Chinese ladies.

20150405_142902At this point in my life, my house looks more like a museum of sorts and my basement could very well look like a flea market as I have so many things stacked on moveable shelves for lack of having space to display them upstairs. Most of them would be useless to most people and I really am not a hoarder, but my sister used to call it “separation anxiety!” I’ve mentioned my glass collection in another blog which I wrote on Venice but I didn’t talk much about the multi-colored tiny glass perfume bottles with glass tops that I collect. They are all different shapes, sizes and colors and most of them are small. There is one large one in the middle of all of them which I favor and has a beautiful red glass top. I think you’ll agree with me that it is the leader of the pack.

20150405_142430-1If you read my recent blog about Sorrento, I mentioned that inlaid wooden boxes are a dying craft, however, besides the small ones I’ve dispayed in that blog I also have a bigger, beautiful jewelry box which I had bought for my mother a long time ago when I was in Sorrento. That, too, sadly for the moment sits downstairs on a shelf, but I do have big plans for it someday!

20150405_141854-1Grace Hedlund’s painting brings me full circle to my own rocking horse and a very special family treasure. It’s made of brass and is very heavy and is used every day to hold my swinging door open. So you see many of my souvenirs still play active rolls in my life.

How many of you have special collectibles that you’d like to tell me about?I’m anxious to see some of your photos of them!

See you next Tuesday!
Thank you THASC and thank you Grace for some special memories.
-Maria

THASC is a unique small American business producing cards and other promotional products.
www.thasc.com

Bouquet for Mom

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“BOUQET FOR MOM” is an original oil painting by Sue Bingaman, resident of the Keystone State, Pennsylvania. She was injured in a snowmobile accident that left her a quadriplegic. Sue paints with a cuff around her hand with an adapter that holds her brush. This pocket planner was reproduced from an original oil painting by Sue Bingaman for THASC Sales Co. which employs a unique group of handicapped artists who create art to help rehabilitate themselves. They gain self-respect and pride through their artwork.

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My mom and me as a child
My mom and me as a child

As Mother’s Day approaches this weekend, I thought I’d like to put my thoughts to my wonderful Mom, Sara. I lost her way too soon, but there is always something lingering in my life that reminds me of the joy she gave her family. I’d like to share her most happy moments with you.

She was born Sara Nancy Rose Santoro to immigrant parents from Sicily and was the 4th in line of 6 siblings. She had promised her father that she would finish going to college after she married, as she met the love of her life, Joseph Mario Vallone, in her junior year of college at URI and got married soon after that. She did complete her degree in education by going to extension classes and getting her B.A. in elementary education after the three of us were born. Unfortunately, her father passed away suddenly and he was never to see her graduate.

The story of her wedding and marriage is a lovely one. My Dad had told me that he saw her for the first time at her parents’ house while he was at a college meeting for Italian-Americans sponsored by her sister and some friends. By Mom came home that weekend from college and as she entered the room, he took one look at her and said to his friend Sal, “I’m going to marry that girl”. And so it went that at 20 years old, my Mom married Joe Vallone, on September 23, 1940.

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20150404_132711My parents had quite a honeymoon for those times. My Dad had graduated from MIT in 1938 and had a red convertible Buick in which they toured the entire United States, stopping, and in some cases, visiting different cities for more than a day, They were gone for one month! September 23 to October 29! She kept a diary which I found among her things and the first pages she scribbled “Joe and Sara” and then listed all of the states they visited.

20150404_132725After the opening pages with her list of States, she wrote her first entry. It reads:
“1940
Monday, September 23
The most beautiful and I’m sure the most memorable day of my life. Married at 9:00 am- Dinner and reception at Rhodes Annex
Arrived at Mohican Hotel- Connecticut – at 10:30 PM. Stayed in Room 320. Joe carried me across the threshold. Ate at Peterson’s
Then started for New York…”

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Mom at 36

My mother was a beauty and we all knew it. I wanted to be just like her. She was fashionable and always well manicured. She had beautiful legs and always wore high heels. I loved to go shopping with her. She had an eye for fashion and went to the nicest stores. She always brought me with her, probably because she knew I was most like her in many ways and had the most patience. She loved my sister and brother just as much.

Dressed up for Easter
Dressed up for Easter

She was very talented and made all of our clothes as children. Especially for the holidays, she made sure we got all dressed up before going to see our grandparents. We always had bonnets for Easter and my father bought all the ladies corsages. I remember they were gardenias and loved the smell.

My grandmother was very special to me. When I got my first job teaching across the street from her house, every day I used to cross the street and go up a little pathway that lead me to her house. She would always make me a nice soup and a hearty meal and we would speak Italian. She was truly my second mother. My own mother was so fond of her mother that my Dad would take her with them on day trips and out to restaurants. She was a jewel, too, and I could see where my Mom got her sweetness.

20150404_134515I was lucky to have taken my Mom to Italy after my Dad passed away. She loved it and always asked me to take her back. We saw all the big cities, but never got to Sicily. My only regret was that I never took her back to Sicily to see her Mom’s and Dad’s hometowns. We ran out of time.

The last entry in her honeymoon journal reads like this: “There’s no one in the world like Joe — never too much of anything precious.”20150404_132829

That was my mother’s love story. I wish all of you a very happy Mother’s Day on Sunday whether she’s with you or not, keep her in your heart.

See you next Tuesday
-Maria

THASC is a unique small American business producing cards and other promotional products.
www.thasc.com

Bird Houses

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“Bird Houses”

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“BIRD HOUSES” is an original watercolor painting by Kevin Slater, resident of the Hoosier State, Indiana. Kevin is a quadriplegic from a high school wrestling accident in 1973. He paints with specially adapted brushes held in his mouth. This greeting card was reproduced from an original artwork by Kevin Slater for THASC Sales Co. which has employed a unique group of handicapped artists who create art to help rehabilitate themselves. They gain self-respect and pride through their artwork.
“BIRD HOUSES” is an original watercolor painting by Kevin Slater, resident of the Hoosier State, Indiana. Kevin is a quadriplegic from a high school wrestling accident in 1973. He paints with specially adapted brushes held in his mouth. This greeting card was reproduced from an original artwork by Kevin Slater for THASC Sales Co. which has employed a unique group of handicapped artists who create art to help rehabilitate themselves. They gain self-respect and pride through their artwork.

It is so easy to love this greeting card, isn’t it? The beautiful colors and the topic remind us that Spring is close by and that soon our feathered friends will be our neighbors. I always wondered how they fit through those little holes and made their homes or nests in such a small place and wonder how did they ever survive winter without such protection? Now I know why.

I will admit that I tried my first bird house last autumn and didn’t have much luck. However, things are about to change. This past Christmas, my cousin Michael sent me the most spectacular hand-made birdhouse I have ever seen. In fact, I think there are just three people that have one like this made purely of cypress, one of few woods that are good for birdhouses. It is large, decorative and resistant and will camouflage well in the garden. Bird houses are supposed to blend in with the surroundings to prevent attracting predators from destroying them.

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One of my girlfriends named Gini gifted me with another lovely birdhouse for my birthday. This one is hand-painted and beautifully designed with a nice, heavy chain. I think as soon as I do my Spring clean up in the back yard and the garden is full of flowers, I will put both of them outside.

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Not all backyard birds use houses including cardinals and orioles, but enough common birds do. About 30 bird species in each region of the country, or cavity-nesters, will also use a birdhouse. The most common occupants are house sparrows, bluebirds, chickadees, purple martins and tree swallows.

There are 5 key factors that will give you the best chance to attract nesting birds.
They are:

  1. Use a birdhouse that fits: Small birds need small houses, and large birds need large houses.
  2. Pick the proper house design : Wood is the best material. The houses should also have ventilation around the top and drainage holes in the floor.
  3. Select a suitable nesting location: The best location for bluebirds is an area surrounded by fields where the insects they eat are plentiful for them and their young. Tree swallows want to be closer to water where aquatic insects are bountiful.
  4. Hang it at the right height: Bluebirds like them about 5-8 feet above the ground whereas house wrens prefer them 6- 10 feet above the ground and hanging from a tree.
  5. Check the entrance hole: House wrens require the smallest entrance only 1-1/8 inches; bluebirds need about 1-½ inches to get inside.

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THASC’s artist, Kevin Slater, reminds us of why it is important to have birdhouses, also known as nest boxes, because they are a safe-haven for birds to raise their young. They protect birds in winter that huddle together for warmth. In migration they serve as a safe place to rest. Lastly, birds eat seeds and spread them, which in turn promotes plant growth, and they also eat annoying insects.

I just went outside and saw the first shoots of my Spring flowers pushing through the earth. I heard the tweets of birds in the distance. They will be coming closer and I am so happy I can offer them a home. Why don’t you try it too!

See you on Thursday.
-Maria

THASC is a unique small American business producing cards and other promotional products.
www.thasc.com

Celebrating a Thasc Artist: Terry Haffner

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“Three Boats” is an original oil painting by Terry Haffner, resident of the Hoosier State, Indiana. Terry was born without arms and short legs. Terry paints with a brush held by an artificial arm and hook. Terry’s landscapes and seascapes are colorful in an impressionistic style. This greeting card was reproduced from an original oil painting by Terry Haffner for THASC Sales Co. which has employed a unique group of handicapped artists who create art to help rehabilitate themselves. They gain self-respect and pride through their artwork.

By:

Terry Haffner
Terry Haffner
I had the honor today to communicate with an extraordinary individual. Terry Haffner is an artist, a motivational speaker and an author. He was also born with no arms and short legs. Terry told me that he works in acrylics and loves color. The “Three Boats” was a scene from Maine. He says mostly he paints traditional landscapes and seascapes and that people, when they travel, share pictures with him.

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“Mill Memory”
He said that soon he would stretch himself a bit and do colorful abstract art. He paints on stretched canvas: 20” x 16” and 24” x 20” mostly. He likes doing smaller paintings mostly 8’ x 10’ and 9 x 12” using his mouth with a brush.

Terry says he has been a more professional artist since realizing people love what he does and are willing to spend money for an original HAFFNER painting. He mostly holds brushes with his right hook.

He tells a funny story about when he was about 2 years old. He was living with his grandparents and slept in an opened drawer to a dresser and one day, his mother got the bright idea to sell the dresser at a yard sale and he woke up in someone else’s house two days later!

At 13 years old, when Terry was very depressed about his parents’ health, his nephew suggested he write a book about how his parents motivated him every step of the way growing up: how they had placed a pencil between his toes when he was only three, how they loved him, cared for him and wanted him to go to school. He says this saying was always important to him: “When every challenge gets tough, every victory is sweeter. “

In his twenties Terry started traveling to Oklahoma City and then got the “bug” to share his story and to be in front of a microphone. He says he will do everything he can to lift up people.

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“A Winter Day”
Several years ago, after visiting San Juan and seeing a man banging a cup on the street and walking on the palms of his hands, Terry realized that banging a similar cup, especially when he talked to younger people, meant for him first, to get their attention and then, to remind them that that was not who he was.

He started to think about accepting himself the way he was. Even though he had felt that many people don’t accept you if you looked different, he finally thought it was time to give away his artificial limbs to people in poor countries. He wanted to feel whole and left the legs with no regrets.

He decided to have his new van built to accommodate him the way he was, using his hook for the steering wheel and having it built on a vacuum assist. He indeed felt whole and accepting of himself then.

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The turning point for Terry to feel recognized was when an art teacher from New Jersey saw a story in the National Enquirer about Terry called “Tales of True Courage” and sent him a box of acrylic paints and said try it. He liked it and began to use acrylic paint exclusively.

His autobiography is titled “Born With Less, Blessed With More.” It is still in manuscript form as his sister who worked on it for 13 years, passed away from Parkinson’s disease on October 3. He needs to add more to the manuscript and find a publisher. He describes his book as powerful, inspirational and funny.Terry Haffner Painting

Terry told me he lives in his own home, a ranch villa in Fort Wayne, Indiana. He is not fond of winter weather so he’s thinking about relocating to Charleston, NC, with greater opportunities to get galleries to look at his work.

Terry says, “All my life people have looked at me, and all they have to do is look a little farther and see I’m still the same person.”

You can see more of Terry’s work on his website:
www.terryhaffner.com

And you can also see Terry on YouTube below:

Thank you to Dana Clark, Terry’s photographer, for supplying many of the photos in this blog.

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“A Trip Cherished”
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“The Old Boat”
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“Another Time”
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“A Family Farmhouse”
This has been an incredible assignment for me, talking to Terry Haffner. Thank you THASC Sales Co. for introducing me to one of the most extraordinary people I’ve ever met, and, of course, thank you, Terry, for your inspiration and beautiful artwork.

See you Thursday!!!!
-Maria

THASC is a unique small American business producing cards and other promotional products.
www.thasc.com

Musical Sounds

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“MUSICAL SOUNDS” is an original watercolor painting by Julie Ann Mills-Testi, resident of the Beaver State, Oregon. Julie was born with a musculoskeletal disorder characterized by multiple locked joints. Julie paints with a brush held in her mouth. Julie’s artistic skill came naturally as well as her love for experimenting with color and techniques. This greeting card was reproduced from an original watercolor painting by Julie Ann Mills-Testi for THASC Sales Co. who has employed a unique group of handicapped artists who create art to rehabilitate themselves. They gain self-respect and pride through their artwork.

By:
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20150331_095948-1At some point in many children’s lives, they are introduced to a musical instrument. For my sister and me it was the piano. For my brother, it was the trumpet. I remember that we had a very eccentric older lady come to give us piano lessons. Her name was Miss Sisson. She always wore some type of hat and always had a pencil with her, which she sometimes put in her ears. She was not very well kept but this didn’t hinder my love for music. As little girls my sister and I loved musicals and we tap danced our way through many recitals for which our mother made all of our costumes.

We were so excited to be a part of old Highland Park elementary school’s tap dancing review! I’m the one at the very end of the front row with my little polka-dotted Thumbelina costume on. I loved the sound of Staccato taps. I still even have one of my tap shoes. I think my favorite instrument has always been the drums. I love the beat of the drums and the taps reminded me of the beat of a song.
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My staccato tap shoe

As I grew older into my teens and beyond the years of Elvis, Chuck Berry and the Beatles, I fell in love with rock n’ roll and the twang of the electric guitar.

Chuck Berry
Chuck Berry

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I yearned to be able to play one, as my closest friends at the time were both guitarists. I never managed to play well as my long nails would always interfere with my chords and my strumming, but I had the smallest and cutest guitar around.

My first guitar
My first guitar

For many years at the high school where I taught, the entire school got ready for the greatest and most popular event of the year. It was called Rocco’s Rock ‘N Roll Revue, the brainchild of a history teacher who was himself a legend in the area of the beginnings of rock ‘n roll and together with hand-selected musicians from the student body and a few faculty (I was one of the chosen few) Rocco and the Celestials (his backup group) made history for 25 years at Newton North High School, giving all the proceeds to a scholarship.

By this time, I had preferred to sing vocals in a band and found a chance to get on stage and have some fun with my music. My little guitar and me really had a ball either singing alone or with my back up guitarists.

Rocco’s guitarists and me
Rocco’s guitarists and me
Me in Rocco’s Rock ‘n Roll revue
Me in Rocco’s Rock ‘n Roll revue

I don’t think I’ll ever stop loving all kinds of music. I was lucky to be introduced to the opera “Aida” in the Baths of Caracalla in Rome on my first trip to Italy. I was sure I wouldn’t like opera but I fell in love with that, too, at an early age. I would go with my mother and grandmother to Lincoln Center and my grandmother would sing EVERY WORD of the opera along with the opera stars!!! How could I not have inherited that gene!!!

Music is the first thing I hear in the morning and the last thing that lulls me to sleep at night. Thank you to THASC’S artist Julie Ann Mills-Testi for keeping the music alive in all of us.

Have a wonderful, musical weekend.
See you next Tuesday.
-Maria

THASC is a unique small American business producing cards and other promotional products.
www.thasc.com

RAMS

Rams
“RAMS” is an original oil painting by Billy R. Harper, resident of the Yellowhammer State, Alabama. Billy is a paraplegic from a spinal injury in 1985. Billy is a self-taught artist and began by drawing animals in 1987. Billy mostly paints angels today as he feels these paintings of angels will bring peace to this Earth. This greeting card was reproduced from an original artwork by Billy R. Harper for THASC Sales Co. a company dedicated to the employment of the handicapped. This unique group of handicapped artists creates art to help rehabilitate themselves.

By:
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For those of you who follow the Chinese horoscope you may know that this is the year of the RAM, which won’t happen again until 2027. I did a little research on you Arians and found that a ram is among the animals that people like most. People born in the year of the Ram are tender, polite, clever and kind-hearted. They have special sensitivity to art and beauty and special fondness for quiet living. They are wise, gentle and compassionate and can cope with business cautiously. In their daily life, they try to be economical. They are willing to take good care of others, but they should avoid pessimism and hesitation.

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Chinese paper cut of ram

Strengths: gentle, soft-hearted, considerate, attractive, hardworking, persistent, thrifty

Weaknesses: indecisive, timid, vain, pessimistic, moody, weak-willed

Celebrities born in the year of the Ram include: Michelangelo (WOW), Mark Twain, Rudolph Valentino
Barbara Walters, Benicio del Toro and Bruce Willis. (Note #1 below)

Symbolic representation of Aries
Symbolic representation of Aries

When I attended the University of Rhode Island (URI), we were known as the Rhody Rams, a name we’ve had since 1923. I always wondered why we were called Rams and recently found out. The Ram is a tribute to the University’s former name: “Rhode Island College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts.” There is a marble statue of a ram as you enter the Memorial Union. Our mascot was and still is Rhody Ram and as a cheerleader for 4 years I wore that symbol proudly on my uniform.

Rhody Ram
Rhody Ram

When my Aunt Cammie passed away she willed a painting very loved by her called “The Pagan Altar” to my sister Sara. The then head of the Art Department, Prof. A.V. Rosati, painted it. My sister had always been in love with the painting because her husband Gary was that sign of the Ram. It is, I think, a spectacular painting which sparkles in blue, green and gold when the sun shines in upon it and I look at it every day and think of her.

The Pagan Altar
The Pagan Altar

So now in closing I have a little quiz for you. When I was living in China and teaching there at the Jingshan School, I bought an embroidered wall hanging of all of the animals of the horoscope strung together which hangs in my kitchen. I want to know who of you can identify the RAM. Look closely and leave me a comment here on the blog. I’ll write you and let you know if you WIN!

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Chinese horoscope animals

Have a wonderful Year of the Ram, all of you Arians!

And thank you to THASC artist Billy R. Harper for his wonderful painting which reminds me of so many lovely times and places in my life.

I’ll see you on Thursday.
-Maria

Note#1. http://www.travelchinaguide.com/zodiac

THASC is a unique small American business producing cards and other promotional products.
www.thasc.com