Thursday, July 30, 2009

Book Love: Jesus Land.

I read the book Jesus Land about three weeks ago now. I was mesmerized by it from the moment I picked it up and never stopped reading it until I had it finished that same day. This book spoke to me in ways I had never imagined. As soon as I put it down, I contacted the author through her website. She recently returned my e-mail with a brief but lovely response - for which I am grateful.

I wanted to write a review about this book here on the blog, but find that words fail me. Instead, I will post the letter that I sent to her on the day that I read the book. To protect the identity of a couple of people, I have deleted a sentence or two ... but for the most part, this is what I sent to the author, Julia Scheeres on July 11, 2009:

Dear Julia,

I just finished your book Jesus Land --- literally five minutes ago. As soon as I put it down, I had to visit your website to see if there was a way in which I could contact you to express my sincerest thanks for your book, as well as my deepest apologies for the pain I can only imagine that you feel over the death of your brother. I also hope to express to you that as an adoptive Mom to a Haitian born son, I am eternally grateful that you have put to words so much of what I have seen in the adoption community .... that is ... over zealous, white, evangelical Christians who adopt "black" children in order to "save their souls" ... all the while never truly loving these children as family, and often treating them as burdens to be overcome in order to become right with God, etc...etc... David's story is one that I have witnessed in my own life. It is why I bought the book. It is a subject matter that I have desperately wanted to see written about. And you wrote about it so perfectly ... so lovingly ... so honestly ...

I truly feel at such a loss to express to you just how much your book means to me. I have deleted at least a hundred different sentences in this brief e-mail already. I guess I am overwhelmed with emotions. Perhaps I haven't given myself time to fully digest the book --- as I read it non-stop as soon as I picked it up today. I just know that I NEEDED to contact you.

I can tell you that my son, Isaac, is the light of my life. Though I never gave birth to him (plainly obvious from my lily white skin)... I truly believe that he and I made a pact to become mother and child before either one of us was born. His adoption story is one that I would love to share with you sometime. It has its own magic & heartbreak. And ultimately it is a love story ... just as your relationship to your brother is. My son (age 4) and I get many of the same looks as you and your brother did. Our relationship is totally understood by some ... unimaginable to many ... disgusting to others ... and yet there are those who think I am some sort of hero for adopting the "unwanted" from a third-world country (these people make my stomach lurch). And then there are those evangelical Christians who worked with the same evangelical orphanage that I did --- people who were also adopting --- but for all the wrong reasons (to bring these heathen kids to Jesus and to never "spare the rod" in doing so) --- these are the people who often haunt my thoughts. It is their adopted children (some who I came to love) that I cry for. The orphanage itself reminds me of the "reform school" that you and your brother endured. In order to work with them I needed to act the part of the evangelical christian ... a role that was easy for me given my childhood ... but was hard for my Turkish born husband. I wish I could have taken all the children home with us ... but I knew who my son was ... and it was him we came to find. Not to rescue ... but to FIND. I already knew him in my heart, I just needed to get him home to me for good. And I did. And life is good. But I never forget the others.

(deleted paragraph)

Anyway ... I am rambling a bit. I just really want to thank you in a million ways ... for a million reasons. Your abuse at the hands of Jerome is something else that spoke to me personally ... as well as your relationship with Scott ... your reasoning for such a relationship, etc. I felt you girl. Truly. And though I am so sorry for the life experience it took for you to write such a memoir, I thank you for putting it out there.

Lastly, if you are interested, I invite you to check out my blog: www.thishandmadelife.blogspot.com. The following posts deal with parts of my son's adoption:




There are many more, but I'd have to do some serious blog searching to find them (he came home over 3 years ago).

Well, again, thank you Julia from the bottom of my heart. Please know that I now carry you and David in my heart forever. You did him a wonderful tribute by sharing him with others ... as he cannot now be forgotten ... ever. Please let me know if there is any way I can help the children of Escuela Caribe. I have signed up for your updates ...

Much love to you & yours,

Jodi

The above photo is of Julia and her brother, David. taken in 1986.


I hope by my putting this letter "out there" --- some of you may be interested in reading the book. Though some parts of the book spoke to me more than others, this really is a memoir for everybody. It is interesting and compelling on more levels than I could convey here. If you read it, please let me know what you think.


Thanks & Love,

Jodi

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Hidden Eloise.


Ah. I just had the most delightful buying experience through Etsy. I purchased some gorgeous art postcards (suitable for framing - which I intend to do) from Hide N Seek ... the "home" of Hidden Eloise.

Little Miss Eloise is a sweet, unconventional girl who loves to spend her time with bears, as well as other woodland creatures. And she is a huge fan of playing hide and seek (thus the name). When you make a purchase from Miss Eloise, she not only sends you the highest quality art products (i.e. copies of paintings of her woodland frolics), but she also sends you some lovely free gifts, a handwritten note, and wraps your goodies in the most wonderful dressing.


Her shop is an absolute delight. And I will likely return to it again and again. I highly recommend that you do the same.


ENJOY!


~ Jodi

Friday, July 24, 2009

Feels Like Starting Over.


As I stumble through my current return to manual film photography ... I feel humbled. In order to even get a decent exposure you have to really know what you are doing ... and to get a great photo, well you have to REALLY know what you are doing. Now I understand why it is so much easier for 'everyman' to be a photographer in the new digital camera age. It took much effort, knowledge, and practice (let alone alot of spent film) to get really good shots with the old manual cameras. And I now have a whole new respect for those National Geographic photographers of the 50's and 60's. (I just bought an entire collection of Nat. Geos from the 40s through the 70s --- and am drooling over the photography contained within).


As I try to get the best aperture/shutter speed relation for each shot, I am very mindful of all conditions that may affect the quality of the picture. Because film is involved, I am also mindful not to be wasteful ... trying to make the most out of every photographic opportunity ... NOTHING like my mindset when using my D300. With digital, I just snap, snap away ... changing my settings as I go ... no worries about the number of shots I am taking ... simply concentrating on composition more than anything else.

Working with film - using a manual Pentax K1000 - has a whole different feel to it - but one that I welcome right now. It feels like starting over again with my photography... in a good way. I am reminded of what photography is truly comprised of ... and the efforts involved in becoming a truly great photographer (something I hope to one day become). I have started reading basic photography books again (just as I did in high school) ... and find this one very useful. And I am learning patience ... ahhh, patience. I suck at patience. But, manual film photography requires much of it, and I welcome the much needed life lesson.

Time will tell where this latest interest leads me. And I will be sure to share as I go along.

How about you? Do you remember your film days? Have you tried to relive them? I would love to hear your thoughts.

Love,

Jodi

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Stay Tuned ... Please.

I have not posted to this blog since Saturday ... and even then I "cheated" by posting a YouTube video ... but I do have some great plans for this space, so please stay tuned. There will be giveaways, tutorials, photography tips and other "Handmade Life" goodies.

Thanks for reading and sharing.

xoxo
Jodi

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Late Night Insight From My 4-Year Old.

Scene: 2am. Mommy trying to fall asleep in bed. Isaac wide awake next to Mommy. Daddy fast asleep next to Isaac. Dog at end of bed, snoring.

Dog: (farts)

Mommy: Oh man, the dog keeps farting.

Isaac: What did you say Mommy?

Mommy: Oh, nothing.

Isaac: (quiet for some time ... obviously thinking ... then...) Mommy, you know that when you say something and then you say that you didn't say something ... well, that is called lying.

Mommy: (smiling) You are right son. I just said that the dog was farting.

Isaac: (putting hand to my face and looking into my eyes) Thanks Mommy. Thanks for not lying.

Love,
Jodi

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Smile.

Everytime I watch this video, I can't keep from smiling. It truly makes me happy. I hope it does the same for you:

Love, Jodi

Monday, July 13, 2009

Everything Old is New Again.

I took my first photography class in high school (with some cute guy sitting behind me who went by the name Halis). This was back in 1990 ... and I had a Pentax K1000 that my parents bought used from a former semi-professional photographer. And just like when they bought me my first car ... I was hoping for more (did someone just say spoiled?). But - just like my first car - a 1973 Dodge Dart Special Edition with a slant 6 engine - my Pentax was a work horse camera that took lots of abuse and refused to die. Though they both weren't my first choices ... as an adult, I want them both back. Lord knows what I did to that poor camera, but the car I sold for $400 back in 1992 to a kid heading for college in Maine... and last I knew it was still alive and kicking. But I did get the camera back (sort of) ...

I got a great deal on this used Pentax k1000 from my friend at Bangor Photo. Come to find out, it was used by Bangor High School in their photography class (funny!). I took it out for a test drive this week and find that in order to get the right look for my photos, I need to overexpose them a bit. I bought my second roll of film today in order to do just that. But my first roll did get me one pic that I am in love with ...

I love the grain in this pic. I love how his eyes are true blue and one is entirely in focus, while there is enough depth of field to keep the rest of him a bit blurred. I love the way his body is positioned. I love the color. I just *love* it. I am a sucker for that vintage look. Though I absolutely love the versatility of digital photography, I also *heart* film, and want to make the best of both worlds. And I guarantee you that my $60 Pentax will outlast my $3,000 Nikon. "They just don't make things like they used to."

Enjoy your day.

Love,

Jodi

Friday, July 10, 2009

This Past Week on the Farm.

* the new chicks grew ...

(tree)

(teeko)

* the even newer chicks grew too ...


* our dog fought with this unexpected visitor and lost ...

* the goats ate, ate and ate ...

* Daddy cut some falling trees ...

* and Mama got to read outside ...


Not a bad week. Hope you all have a great weekend.

Love,

Jodi

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

If I Had a Genie ...

... one of my wishes would be spent on buying this old church in Orono:


I have always wanted to live in an old church. Always. I totally envision my bedroom in the upper choir section ... looking down on the kitchen/living room/playroom, etc. And the fact that this one is currently for sale, and within a couple miles of my current home, AND is a former Catholic church filled with the most gorgeous stained glass windows ... well, it just makes me drool.

And it could all be mine, for just $500,000 or the granting of one wish from a generous genie.

Can't you just see it? When you enter my foyer, you can bless yourself with the holy water by the doors. And before you sit down to watch my big screen tv resting atop the altar ... you can genuflect. Okay, that is sacrilegious, I'm sorry. I shouldn't make fun, because the fact is that I have the ultimate respect for churches ... their history ... the lives that have been changed within their walls ... through baptism, marriage, death, etc. ... the myriad of prayers that have been spoken and unspoken within their walls. It all amazes and humbles me. And I would feel blessed beyond imagining if I could make my home within one. Truly.

So, if you have not used up the three wishes granted by your genie, could you please spare one for me? To make my dream come true? Or just send cash. Thanks.

Love,
Jodi

P.S. fyi: my son was watching Alladin as I typed this post.

Monday, July 6, 2009

WebCam & Lightroom.

Beware: The following photo is slightly scary. It depicts a woman who has stayed up WAY past her bedtime ... trying to read e-books on how to use her Photoshop Lightroom program. Lots of coffee and brain straining is going on during this attempt at understanding. She would like to think that her webcam (which she barely knows how to use) gives a distorted view of her nose ... but she is not so sure about this. At least her bling gives the photo a bit of shine. Anyway ... here she is ... please don't judge too harshly ... she tried to play mini-golf in the rain today and her hair never recovered ...

Love,
Jodi
(aka PhotoShop Lightroom Ignoramous)

Saturday, July 4, 2009

July 4th 1776 (or thereabouts).

There are many "tall tales" about how America won its independence from Great Britain. Heck, there are millions of tall tales about most of our history. And though there is much false information out there masquerading itself as truth ... much of it does have roots in the truth until someone saw fit to blow it a bit out of proportion (such is the human condition).

So, when a friend of mine sent me the following mass forwarded e-mail, I checked it out on Snopes.com (seekers of truth). And - as I might have expected - most of it is true - with a little exaggeration thrown in the mix to spice things up a bit...

"Have you ever wondered what happened to the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence?

Five signers were captured by the British as traitors,and tortured before they died.

Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned.

Two lost their sons serving in the Revolutionary Army;another had two sons captured.

Nine of the 56 fought and died from wounds or hardships of the Revolutionary War.

They signed and they pledged their lives, their fortunes,and their sacred honor.What kind of men were they?

Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists.Eleven were merchants,nine were farmers and large plantation owners;men of means, well educated,but they signed the Declaration of Independence knowing full well that the penalty would be death if they were captured.

Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader, saw his ships swept from the seas by the British Navy. He sold his home and properties to pay his debts, and died in rags.

Thomas McKeam was so hounded by the British that he was forced to move his family almost constantly. He served in the Congress without pay, and his family was kept in hiding. His possessions were taken from him,and poverty was his reward.

Vandals or soldiers looted the properties of Dillery, Hall, Clymer,Walton, Gwinnett, Heyward, Ruttledge, and Middleton.

At the battle of Yorktown, Thomas Nelson, Jr., noted that the British General Cornwallis had taken over the Nelson home for his headquarters. He quietly urged General George Washington to open fire. The home was destroyed,and Nelson died bankrupt.

Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed.The enemy jailed his wife, and she died within a few months.

John Hart was driven from his wife's bedside as she was dying.Their 13 children fled for their lives. His fields and his grist mill were laid to waste. For more than a year he lived in forests and caves, returning home to find his wife dead and his children vanished.

So, take a few minutes while enjoying your 4th of July holiday and silently thank these patriots. It's not much to ask for the price they paid. Remember: freedom is never free! It's time we get the word out that patriotism is NOT a sin, and the Fourth of July has more to it than beer,picnics, and baseball games."

So - my fellow Americans (with sincere sympathies to my Native American friends) ... let us celebrate the tenacity of the American spirit ... three cheers for the bold and brave men and women who risked their lives to create a truly FREE country. America is still a most amazing country ... and one to be proud of ... but there are many freedoms for which we take for granted ... and thus have allowed politicians, corporations and news media to slowly take them from us. Today --- let us take a vow to follow the lead of our forefathers & mothers ... and to take our freedoms back! Let us read the Declaration of Independence again --- out loud --- to ourselves and to our children so that we always remember who we are and what we stand for. Then - for good measure - let us read our Constitution over and over and over again until we know it by heart - so that we (and our children) can maintain and uphold the principles of that amazing document.

HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY my fellow Americans! Long Live America.

Love,
Jodi

P.S. Always remember - POWER TO THE PEOPLE!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

New Chicks & Photo Equipment ... make for great photo ops.

Our homestead has just grown by 6 chicks. Ameraucanas to be exact. They are my fave.

I also got a Nikon SB-900 flash. And decided to break out the People Popper that I bought months ago.

Combine all 3 ... and this is what you get:


Isn't she absolutely adorable?!

She and her siblings are living in a box in the living room until they are big enough to join their friends in the coop. I am sure I will find many more ways to photograph these beauties before they head outside. More to come ...


Love,
Jodi