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The Survivor Tree


We are a nation of survivors. Let us never forget those who were taken from us in hate. Let us honor their memories with random acts of kindness.

In the Meme Time: Be Bold


Be bold

Guest Post: Two Sisters or On the Terrace by Auguste Renoir from Joy of Museums


Thank you to Joy of Museums for this delightful discussion of this painting and insight into the life of Renoir.


Two Sisters on the Terrace by Pierre-August Renoir

Two Sisters or On the Terrace by Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Two Sisters or On the Terrace by Pierre-Auguste Renoir depicts the upper terrace of the Maison Fournaise, a family restaurant located on an island in the Seine in Chatou, the western suburb of Paris. The painting shows a young woman and her younger girl seated outdoors with a small basket containing balls of wool. In the background over the railings of the terrace, are flowering plants and vines and then the River Seine with boats and some buildings in the top left on the other side of the river.

Renoir painted this delightful scene as a homage to springtime in 1881, and he or his art dealer called it “Two Sisters” (French: Les Deux Sœurs), its alternative title “On the Terrace” (French: Sur la terrasse) was used by the first owner of the painting. Jeanne Darlot (1863—1914), a future actress who was 18 years old when she posed for the elder sister. The identity of who represented the younger sister is not known as they were not real sisters. Before working on Two Sisters, Renoir worked in this particular location on another well-known painting, Luncheon of the Boating Party.

Maison Fournaise

The Maison Fournaise is today a restaurant and museum located on Impressionist Island on the Seine in Chatou, west of Paris. In 1857, Alphonse Fournaise bought land in Chatou to open a boat rental, restaurant, and small hotel for the new tourist trade.

The family restaurant was a favourite of Pierre-Auguste Renoir, who painted many scenes of the restaurant and from the restaurant as well several portraits of Fournaise family members and many landscapes of the surrounding area. In 1880, Renoir wrote to a friend:

“My painting detains me in Chatou. Be kind enough to come and have lunch with me.
You won’t regret your trip; this is the loveliest place in the surroundings of Paris.”

The Maison Fournaise museum’s collection is focused on the history of the house and the golden age of the banks of the Seine. It also holds exhibitions around contemporary artistic movements from the Impressionist era.

To continue reading this article, click here.

In the Meme Time: Art Makes Life Better


Art makes life better

From the Creator’s Heart #209


Image 11-6-18 at 1.01 PM

Guest Post: 15 Things I Learned After Reading 100 Query Letters by Katie McCoach


reading on computer; reading queries

A big thank you to A Writer’s Path and to Katie McCoach for this excellent article about what makes a good query letter.

A few weeks ago was the submission review period for the annual RevPit contest. During this review period, each editor has one week to review submissions from authors in order to make their final pick to work on one manuscript for the next five weeks. The contest allowed one submission per author/manuscript, and each editor received up to 100 submissions. Guess how many I received? The full 100. So, it was a busy week to say the least. Each submission included one query letter from the author, answers to a few questions to get to know the author better, and the first five pages (up to 1500 words) of the author’s manuscript.

If you’re into math, that’s about an average of 50k words I read in query letters, and 150,000 words in first pages. This doesn’t count the synopses I read, additional pages of books I requested in my top picks, or the re-reading of submissions I did throughout the week.

There’s a lot a person can learn by reading 100 query letters and 100 opening pages.

In this article, I’m going to share with you 15 things I learned after reading 100 query letters, and next month I’ll focus on what I learned after reading 150,000 words in opening pages. Here are your do’s, don’t’s, mistakes, successes, patterns, what makes a query POP, and what makes a reader cringe.

To read more of this article, click here.

When Gallbladders Attack


It was intermission at a senior citizen variety show I attended with a bunch of my folk dancing friends (another of our friends was performing with her line dance group), and I stood to relieve some pressure I was feeling in my abdomen, radiating around to my back. Maybe I’d been sitting too long. Unfortunately, stretching didn’t help.

By the time I returned home, my stomach hurt worse and I had a slight fever. My husband, Greg, made dinner, but I couldn’t eat.

As the hours wore on, the pain intensified. Greg went to bed.

I wondered whether it was a good idea to wait until morning to call the doctor. Fortunately, my health insurance has a 24 hour nurse line, so I called it. By this time I was vomiting yellow liquid. I described my symptoms to the nurse, and she recommended I go to the emergency room.

I woke Greg and asked him to take me to the ER. We got there a little before 10 PM.

I assumed I had a kidney infection. I expected the ER staff to culture a urine specimen, confirm my fears, prescribe an antibiotic, and we’d go home—easy peasy.

But after the urine sample, they sent me for an MRI and an ultrasound. At 1 AM the doctor told me his diagnosis: three “marbles” (gallstones) were causing my pain. The recommended treatment was removal of the gallbladder. Or I could wait and see what happened.


The gallbladder, a pear-shaped organ in the right side of your abdomen just below your liver, is a storage tank for bile, which is produced by the liver and helps digest fats and certain vitamins. The gallbladder squirts bile into the small intestine when you eat.

If the gallbladder is removed, the liver will still make bile when it senses you are eating something fatty, but it will dump it directly into the small intestine. That may cause diarrhea, especially soon after surgery, while the liver is learning to compensate for the loss of the gallbladder. However, if you cut out or greatly decrease your fat intake for a few weeks, you can help your liver make the transition without too much inconvenience.

I had no desire to wait and see what happened. If I had another day of severe pain, I would be very unhappy, to say the least. So I opted to go ahead with surgery. That was a little more than three weeks ago.

I missed out on playing hand bells on Maundy Thursday and Easter Sunday. I cut out all my activities for a week and a half. By then I was feeling SO much better. I realized I’d been having low-grade chronic pain since before Christmas. So that Monday I went to the gym (doing a lighter workout than usual), went grocery shopping, and attended my hand bell choir rehearsal. Playing hand bells isn’t too physical, is it? But I forgot I stand for an hour and a half during rehearsal, and after being fairly active that morning, it was too much. I was exhausted. Though I’d thought I was ready to resume my activities, I couldn’t do much for the next week.

People kept saying they didn’t expect to see me so soon after surgery, and I didn’t understand why. I felt great—pain free. But at my two week follow-up, the surgeon told me the recovery time was four to six weeks. Why didn’t they tell me that in the hospital?

This past Thursday I went hiking for the first time in a month. I took the easiest trail I know, the Pima Canyon trail in South Mountain Park. I walked in one mile, turned around and came back the same way. The change in elevation was only 70 feet, spread out over the mile, so there were no steep sections. It took me an hour, but that’s because I walk slowly.

So far so good. I might go folk dancing next Tuesday night.

What did I learn from this experience? Two things. First of all, unless you have medical training, don’t self-diagnose yourself. Secondly, don’t rush healing; if you push yourself, you could set yourself back.

For more information about gallstones, read this.

Illustration from Anatomy & Physiology, Connexions Website., Jun 19, 2013. Used under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.