Wednesday, November 23, 2016


This first appeared in the Huffington Post. Click HERE for hyperlinks, art, and the whole shebang.

Dear you,

I love you.

Here are the reasons why.

I have started a personal campaign, not to be mixed up with the recent U.S. presidential campaign, of penning handwritten letters to people I love who have made an impact on my life. It fell out of my head that folks don’t do this sort of thing anymore, and, they should.

So, I’m doing it.

Consider it a Thanksgiving to all the folks in your life who aren’t a turkey, and that lasts longer than a day, if that helps. You won’t gain any pumpkin pie weight from it either.

Folks have all kinds of angst related to the recent election. It would do us some good, I think, to disengage for a little while and think of someone whom we love and tell them so, in a slow, well-thought out way.

Writing is scientifically proven to be therapeutic, even if it is just for ourselves.

Artist Vincent van Gogh wrote more than 600 letters to his brother, Theo, about his art and life. Letters provide insight to a soul, sometimes.

The handwritten word is becoming antiquated and lost in society. I don’t know anyone who can read the Declaration of Independence in its true form seamlessly.

I have few students who can read or write in cursive. To be facetious, I write my students a letter in cursive and instruct them not to open it until they graduate from high school. The swirly cursive they see will be an enigma, of the Enigma, in today’s electronic age.

Handwriting is becoming an artform. Letters Live, where famous people read other monumental folks’ letters before live audiences, has embraced this beautifully.

Our societal craving for instant gratification through text, email, social media, emoji, and our limit of characters is limiting our character in some ways.

Think about it. The letter would only take about one episode of Walking Dead to write, and the title would be Writing Alive - without a cliffhanger and all the gore.

When was the last time you checked your snail mail and received a handwritten letter with true meaning, and not just a bill or a “respond immediately because you have won!” Or, the junk that clutters the inbox, and the mailbox. And, I ain’t talking about a card from grandma that was bought in a store and signed with a few lines and a $5 check.

I am talking about a true, one to three page handwritten letter telling you how meaningful you are to someone. Doesn’t that sound great?

It is.

There are many reasons to do this. You have to think on it. You have to sit on it. You have to disengage from technology.

A letter is in fact the only device for combining solitude and good company,” wrote famous historian Jacques Barzun when introducing, “The Selected Letters of Lord Byron,” a collection which Barzun edited.

When I decided to start my recent letter-writing campaign, I thought of my father. He had the most beautiful handwriting. I keep every letter that he ever wrote to me. There are five. He’s been gone more than 20 years, but I read them and know how meaningful they are. I see his perfect strokes of a pen and know he sat somewhere alone, thought, and took the time to write me.

I sat at my kitchen table late at night and in coffee shops over a period of months, writing 14 handwritten letters to try to save my marriage and many letters on my matrimonial tour. They didn’t work. So, I started writing for me again, and started an AcidNeutral blog.

But I reflect on the wife writing and know my thoughts were true, well-thought out, sincere down to the color of paper I chose and the envelopes. Now, I write letters and notes to my children and many others.

You have to think in detail when you write. It’s not a series of keyboard strokes and a send button.

It brings me joy to write these letters because I think so often we forget the fleeting snapshots of people who impact our lives. We go through life without telling people how meaningful they are.

Do they know?

Here is a very intimate way to tell them.

Emails and texts you delete. Letters you keep.

Why not write one and see if one comes back to you. If not, you will know that you have said all you need to say in a very real way that will always be remembered, even if not by the person you wrote, but by you.

(Enriching music: Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter, Nat King Cole; Word Up, Cameo)

Hey alpha, there are more than 26 letters. Love, Omega

Photo Art by Clara G. Herrera
Copyright: AcidNeutralArt LLC
Title: Hey alpha, there are more than 26 letters. Love, Omega

Write a letter. You'll feel better.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Cooking mama

In celebration of the upcoming Thanksgiving, I am preparing to be a cooking machine. My family celebrates Thanksgiving with the regular food - turkey, potatoes, the ever-popular green bean salad. But, I have become the keeper of the family recipes. My job, of my own accord, is to make homemade tamales, beans, tortillas, carne guisada, and chilito.

I like this role. It seems like at least one aunt in a generation needs to keep up the tradition, and I am it.

Our potpourri is the smell of fresh tortillas and Mexican food, not some scent stuff you melt and buy at a grocery store.

We don't constantly have to fill our homes with fake smells. Just fill your home with smells of home.  Home was potpourri, before there was potpourri, and we all remember what that smells like.

Tonight, I'm cooking for my Hero students - tortillas, beans, carne guisada. After, I hope the custodians at my school will have a homemade meal of what we have left. I'm thankful for them. Custodians at a public school do more, work harder, and for less pay than anyone else.

For them, I am thankful.

Are you thankful for someone of the periphery of your life? Do something real for them on Thanksgiving. It's meaningful to give. Giving is receiving.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

The Incident

Title: The Incident

Medium: acrylic on canvas


Figure it out: There is a bird, a cage, spilled coffee, and a cat. Fun piece, I just decided to splash on canvas. There is always more to art, but that pretty much scrapes the surface.


Friday, November 11, 2016

What did I learn from the AcidNeutralArt Project?



I am revisiting this because I've learned a lot lately as I forge my way through life. For example, I learned the other day, don't just absentmindedly put a wad of sour cream and onion chips in your mouth without looking when your school desk is infested with fire ants. Just so you know, they were alive and woke me up pretty quickly. A classroom floor filled with spit, half-digested, crawling fire ants, and chips is a sight to see. I had to laugh and be optimistic. It's one more thing I can check off my list in life. Don't eat live fire ants.


You have to find the funny. 


Another sting I learned a weekend ago while trying to teach my daughter to mow the lawn: bee stings in the butt are not a wonderful feeling. She screamed and yelled. I put ice on her, trying to figure out where those bees came from. Found them, but they found me too. As a curious science teacher, I had to get on my belly in the yard to figure out where they came from. It was not a pleasant experience getting stung in the butt, but I laughed. Tweeted the moral: We bee lawn together but sometimes it's a pain in the butt.

Find the funny.

Wildflower II
Photo Credit: Red Herrera Ellisor
Conejo County, Colorado
Enriching Music: Vivaldi Four Seasons, Spring; Rachmaninov, Piano Concerto #2 (my favorite song)

What did I learn from the Acid Neutral Art Project?
     I am a teacher. I imbibe knowledge. I try to learn something everyday. Here is my takeaway: You can rise above the ashes and become better.

You are fully capable of changing yourself.  You can set an example for your children, and others, about overcoming adversity with gusto and gumption!
     You can achieve what you want, you just have to want to do it, and actually do it. Stop talking and start doing.

Don't let trepidation inhibit your capacity to achieve potential greatness. 
       Life is not a random occurrence of cosmic events. We control our choices, our actions, our happiness, our lives. Joy is infinite. Love is infinite. Get out your metaphorical wedding dress and wear that baby with pride and confidence. 

Go forth and conquer. 

You've been given a second chance. It's a new day. It's a new life. Most people don't get that.

You gotta world to rock.

So, go out and rock it!