Friday, July 22, 2016

CHANGE BEGINS AT THE ROOTS - #loverebellionchallenge

Two weeks ago - an awful week which terminated with the shooting of five law enforcement officers in Dallas - my friend Jason wrote a long, heartfelt post on facebook which concluded with the call for a love rebellion.  A revised version of that post is HERE, printed on this blog with his permission. 

Jason makes a point that I happen to agree with - change begins at the roots. There is a reason why the term grassroots came into popular use.  Those of you who garden know that no matter how healthy a plant is, if its needs are not met at the root level it will not flourish, it will eventually wither and die. 

We are faced with a lot of top end problem solving these days, as bursted-blooms on the national level declare that they can solve the problems that fuel our fears - they can lead us to prosperity.  And all the leaves surrounding them rustle the echo of top-down solutions.  We want to believe them, because living in our increasingly violent, hate-shame-blame filled world is getting unbearable.  Somehow our society has turned into Strange Days and we want to shout "No, no, this is not what we wanted!  That was supposed to be fiction. Can we get a retake, please!"

This descent is aided by the medias, which reflects the culture of our times as much as they shape it.  The news media is generally ready to provide you with the dirt on whomever you don't agree with, so you can not agree with them even more.  Social media creates the illusion of public forums for civil discourse that are false, that amplify discord and divisiveness, and propagate the spewing forth of opinions and ideas with a frightening anonymity which holds the individual minimally accountable for their role in the clamor.  It is a culture of entitlement where my right to be right, overrides any obligation to be kind and good. The whole rambling mess becomes a committee-of-the-whole in which everyone talks, no one listens, and nothing is resolved except that everyone becomes more entrenched in their established positions.

We have to start by treating the roots.  People are angry because they are afraid, they feel threatened.  In many cases there are legitimate causes for that.  Fingers are pointed, labels are placed and replaced.  The hopelessness and frustration can be overwhelming.  I know that is how I feel very often.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

ART INSPIRED STORIES 2016 at Proctor ArtsFest

It's almost time again for the annual Art Inspired Stories at the Proctor ArtsFest Juried Art Show.  The "big canvas" of artful fun is scheduled for the Proctor District Saturday, August 6th from 10am to 5pm.  There's plenty to see and do, with over 140 different vendors.

Art Inspired Stories will be presented at 11:30am in the Mason Church Parlors, at 2710 North Madison Street.  In the week prior I will be selecting some two dozen pieces from this year's submitted artworks, and writing a 100 word story, or a poem in any form (length not to exceed 100 words).  some of these compositions will be read live at the show, and all will be posted here after the Festival is over.  All artists whose works are featured in the live readings will receive a copy of the story or poem written for their work.

Check Art Inspired Stories from previous shows here:

Read all of the 2015 stories from Peninsula Art Leagues 13th annual Open Show HERE

Read all of the 2015 stories from Proctor ArtsFest HERE

Read all of the 2014 stories from Proctor ArtsFest HERE

I hope to see you at the show!

Friday, July 8, 2016

Just stop. Stop. STOP. Time for a Different Rebellion!

Public Domain image from
The events of the last days have only highlighted the weeks, and months of increasing disbelief that have been pounding us all.  Up until now, all that seems to have been accomplished is more debate, more divisiveness, more denial, and more of the same.

Meanwhile our society, our nation spins out of control fueled by hate, fear, hopelessness - a seeming lack of meaningful, supportable choices.

I remember gut-wrenching occurrences of the past - quick, sharp shots that left me breathless and staring at scrolling news reports in total disbelief.  The morning of the 911 attacks is the first that comes to mind.  At these times I pulled myself up out of my disbelieving torpor and said, "You are not doing any good by this, get back to business.  Do your job.  That's the best way to honor those lost."

Today is too much.  "Keep calm and carry on" is not enough. It is long since time to STOP and take a look at where we are going as a society, a people, and as a species.  This path we are all on is not working, and this pattern of hate, anger, fear, and hopelessness cannot stand.  Must not stand. Fighting anger with anger is not effective.  Fighting fear with fear is not working.

 A long time friend posted the following thoughts on facebook.  He proposes a reasonable first step that each and every one of us can take, every day, to start a groundswell of change in how we respect, and care for one another.  Feel like you already do this?  Do more.  There is no "too much" right now.

Jason Ganwich is a photographer/videographer living in Tacoma, WA.  He is known for bringing professionalism, experience, leadership, timing and humor to his projects. I am proud to call him friend, and proud to share his words (with his permission - revised from the first post) as my guest.
Jason Ganwich, self-portrait
Yesterday was a tough day for a lot of people. It got me down. I cried watching Alton Sterlings wife speak while her son sobbed "I want my daddy." My heart raced watching the video of Philando Castille who'd been shot 4 times in front of his girlfriend and her young daughter. My perspective on life continues to change and it feels so hopeless at times. The friends and families of these victims who have been hit with such devastating blows, are now forced into a harsher reality coming from one that, for many, was already hard enough.

These events interrupt our realities. We hear them. Perhaps we finally listen. For some, we truly absorb the words for the first time. For others, this is a skipping record which they yell over, "Make it stop!"

No matter the tone in which a plea to be heard is made, we must listen. If it's an angry plea, screw our devotion to good manners. It means we earnestly need to listen and hear and act. How can we respond to such intensity in a way that does not make the situation worse - more emotional, contentious, divisive?

Sunday, June 26, 2016

WORDS & PAINT . . . A Project Inspires a New Story

In one of this life's incarnations I made my living by my brush. I still have the skills, but my knees are not what they once were.  Still every now and again a project comes my way that I cannot resist.  In this case, an old classmate from high school asked me to rehabilitate something she and her daughter had found in an antique store for the imminent arrival of said daughter's first child.  I was happy to help.

It turned out to be one of those projects that just sparks to life on its own, and I soon found myself talking to the object, a rolling toy box, while I worked on it.  I have to give partial inspiration to William Joyce and his book Ollie's Odyssey for some of this fancy, as well as for the notion of a "code" for toys.

Here is the result, a copy of which was given to the mother-to-be at her baby shower today, when the finished toy box was delivered. ~ Enjoy!


Charlie is Waiting for You
The toy box "before"
by Judith Cullen
© 2016

For Corrie Rydberg

He could remember things, but not very well.  He knew that the antique store was cold.  He knew that for certain.  He could hear the mutterings all around: memories of things worn and now discarded, has-been belongings placed for sale to collectors or people who were not put-off by fading paint or little bits missing here and there.  Of course, there were pristine things there in the chill: snooty glassware sparkling in self-aware stacks, extended families of china shining in the fluorescent light, rare teapots holding court on utilitarian shelves.

He was a toy box with wheels, though it had been so long since he had been purposefully used that all he had were the ghosts of memories.  There had been careful hands that crafted him lovingly out of wood now pleasantly aged.  He remembered the squeal of delight when his first child - what was that child's name? - saw him for the very first time, gleefully filling him with all manner of toys before parading him around the room - pulling him by his horse head handle.  His child had grown, and there had been other children.  He could not recall much beyond the sparkle of playful eyes, the touch of small hands, and the joys of imagination.

Thursday, March 3, 2016


Seems like everyone is looking fro a little serenity these days, what with the Presidential-Whoo-Haaa Season in full swing.

I wrote a poem about this mediation because it is the only thing that always works for me.  Well, that and washing my hair.  Enjoy!

My Meditation
by Judith Cullen
One candle alone
A formless blackness
Not in a void
In my mind
A single flame
Dancing in a wind
From my soul
As I inhale
an embrace
As I exhale
moving on
Breathing in
Breathing out
Breathing in
Breathing out
A waltz in the air
Until consciousness relaxes
Into the dark comfort
Of peace.

Thursday, December 31, 2015


All Good Gifts ~ Conclusion                                                                                            by Judith Cullen
© 2015

Image: Public Domain
Some students only wrote to their pen pals for the rest of the school year, letting the delights and America and Anna in Germany, continued to write for the next several years.  They shared stories of their studies, their families.  Anna had just her mother, having lost her father and a brother in the war.  They talked about the news of the day and what was popular.
attractions of the summer months cushion their enthusiasm for overseas correspondence. The two girls, Ann in

Ann began to understand what the teacher had meant by learning about other cultures and different ways.  Most of the time the two girls shared their thoughts easily.  But sometimes her friend would share thoughts or opinions that she didn't agree with.  One time Anna had written about a well known American actress who had done a film in Europe with a famous European Director, and was now carrying his child out of wedlock.  She thought it was fantastic that they had gotten together.  Born in the much less cosmopolitan Midwest, Ann did not share this enthusiasm.  At first it bothered her that her friend did not see this situation as she herself saw it.  In the end she decided to let it go, and did not comment on it in her reply.  In short order their correspondence moved on to other stories and other details and the point of disagreement faded.  It was her first lesson in accepting other people for who they were, and not who she would have them be.

Monday, December 28, 2015

'TIS THE SEASON: A Good Time to Remember

In a time of year filled with gift-giving, we often get caught up in the quantifying of values rather than remembering the power found in genuine gestures.  As we move towards a new year, and now that some of the holiday hoopla is past, here is a brand new original tale that is not about Christmas presents at all.  It is about the power of simple acts, generous giving, and heartfelt thanks that endures. 

Thank you for a wonderful year of new adventures in self-publishing. Part One today, and the conclusion on December 31st, the last day of 2015

All Good Gifts                                                                                                                     
by Judith Cullen
© 2015

Found on
The hands that held the small frame gently were beginning to twist with age. 

"It is one of my most treasured possessions," she said softly.

"I don't remember ever having seen it before, Mom. How long have you had this?" her daughter inquired, noticing the clear affection with which the elder woman was regarding the picture she cradled.

"Oh!  Years and years."

She ran her wrinkled thumb along the dull, gold-painted frame, feeling the texture of it, her eyes never leaving the small oil painting as she spoke.

"Over sixty some years ago, now. Sometimes I wonder ..." 

Her mind wandered away to that realm of familiar yesterdays, where minds are young and full of endless tomorrows, and bodies are still straight and free from restriction or pain.