South Pole Day Care

South Pole Day Care
South Pole Day Care

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“South Pole Day Care” is an original watercolor painting by Marlene Schwartz, resident of the Garden State, New Jersey. Marlene was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1980. Marlene loves creating art and usually paints shore birds and other wildlife. This greeting card was reproduced from an original artwork by Marlene Schwartz 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 work.
“South Pole Day Care” is an original watercolor painting by Marlene Schwartz, resident of the Garden State, New Jersey. Marlene was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1980. Marlene loves creating art and usually paints shore birds and other wildlife. This greeting card was reproduced from an original artwork by Marlene Schwartz 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 work.

After seeing a program on PBS’s Nature series on how penguins stay warm, Marlene’s greeting card has given new meaning to the word “huddle”. The only other place I hear this word regularly is when I watch football. Emperor penguins are like no other penguins, even though there are others of different shapes and sizes who don’t even live in Antarctica but in other

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Emperor penguin huddle

places like Madagascar and the Galapagos Islands. Did you know that larger penguin species like the Emperor are found in colder climates while smaller ones are found in warmer climates? One has to wonder, when temperatures reach 40 below zero, isn’t there a point where even Emperor penguins get cold? The answer is yes and the way they handle it is even more phenomenal. Huddling for them is a matter of life and death. Collective movements rather than individual ones are a necessity. The penguins on the outside row are reshuffled to the center without a single one getting crushed! The secret is they move very slowly without changing their position and do not use force in or out of the huddle.

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Emperor penguin chicks

Marlene Schwartz’s watercolor painting is so accurately detailed that it could easily be a photograph. Penguins are flightless and she shows their distinct tuxedo-like appearance which helps keep them safe in the water where they catch their food. Their young are raised, however, on land. Each penguin has a distinguishing call allowing them to find their mates and their chicks in large groups. The female Emperor lays one egg during spring and summer but it is the male who covers it with his brood pouch with which he keeps the egg warm for 65 days through icy cold temperatures. After about 2 months, the chicks are hatched and the mother returns from her fishing session at sea with food for the newly hatched chicks. In her painting, Marlene shows you the large penguin with the newly hatched chick in the brood pouch. The males now leave for their session at sea while the female takes over caring for them.20150916_165239-1Both male and female Emperor penguins take very good care of their young and procure anything they need. This comes across to us immediately in Marlene’s watercolor. We can learn a lot from these social aquatic birds. Knowing that their lifespan is about 20 years it is pretty safe to say that these creatures will be around for a long time.

Thank you, Marlene, for your amazing depiction!

See you on Tuesday! Have a great weekend!
-Maria

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

Peonies in Porcelain

Peonies in Porcelain
Peonies in Porcelain

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“Peonies in Porcelain” is an original acrylic painting by Donna Cushman of the Constitution State, Connecticut. Donna is a Quadriplegic, and she paints with a brush held in her mouth. This greeting card was reproduced from an original acrylic painting by Donna Cushman for THASC Sales Co., a private company dedicated to the employment of a unique group of handicapped artists who create art to help rehabilitate themselves. They gain self-respect and pride through their artwork.
“Peonies in Porcelain” is an original acrylic painting by Donna Cushman of the Constitution State, Connecticut. Donna is a Quadriplegic, and she paints with a brush held in her mouth. This greeting card was reproduced from an original acrylic painting by Donna Cushman for THASC Sales Co., a private company dedicated to the employment of a unique group of handicapped artists who create art to help rehabilitate themselves. They gain self-respect and pride through their artwork.

As a child of the 60’s and 70’s, that is a baby-boomer, I was very much attracted to high-heeled boots and shoes that were so “in” at the time and Donna Cushman’s painting immediately caught my eye.

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20150624_141221-1I was also attracted to the peony flower which is a traditional floral symbol of China and is used symbolically in Chinese art. Throughout Chinese history, peonies in the ancient Chinese city of
Luoyang are said to be the finest in the country.

Since peonies are native to Asia and Southern Europe, I enjoyed their beautiful scent when I was living in Beijing and throughout my travels of southern China. In Japan its root was used as a treatment for convulsions while in the Middle Ages their seeds were medically significant.

20150624_142034-1The Chinese also use the fallen petals as an addition to salads or to sweeten water like lemonade. Peonies are commonly used in Japan as tattoos along with lions, tigers, dragons and koi-fish as a masculine design.

To me I can only imagine them as feminine as can be with their soft petals and of course, those high-heeled shoes!

Join me next Tuesday as we get closer to our national holiday, July 4, and continue to celebrate our THASC artists.

Zai jian! (Good-bye in Chinese)

-Maria

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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

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.

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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