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Pen & Ink: Big Gramp’s House

November 11, 2015

This is my lastest pen and ink drawing.  I like working in this medium because of the details I can add.  “Big Gramp’s House” is First Love’s grandparents’ house.  It was originally built in the early 1800s as a simple log cabin.  Obviously, there have been several improvements and renovations over the almost 200 years since it first went up…most done by the original family which owned it until about 40 years ago.  The current homeowners may be surprised to know that the original logs are still within the structure.

2011 JSD drawing of Big Gramps House copyright

I used Koh-I-Noor Rapidograph pen on Bristol.  This may likely be my last pen and ink drawing since my vision problems have returned…temporarily, I hope.

Indiana Parent Speaks Truth to the Indiana Legislative Branch of ALEC

October 24, 2015


With the way many of our school systems are being run, I feel that it’s important to re-post this blog about Cathy Fuentes-Rohwer, an Indiana mother’s address to her state legislature. If you are a parent or grandparent of school children, you may feel this is as important as I do.

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

Cathy Fuentes-Rower went to the Indiana legislative hearing about the teacher shortage, and she patiently waited seven hours to testify. Cathy is a parent, not a teacher. She was forced to listen to a lineup of “experts” who insisted there was not too much testing, compared to Florida; and there is no teacher shortage, because the superintendents who reported a shortage are biased, and the conservative NCTQ said the data were inconclusive.

When she finally testified, she spoke out boldly.

She said:

I am a mother of four children in public schools.

I know that my children’s learning conditions are their teachers’ working conditions.

This educational environment has become a pressure cooker for our kids and teachers because the legislature has decided that somehow educators weren’t accountable enough. The learning and teaching process has been transformed into a test-taking, data collecting nightmare to somehow prove accountability… at the root…

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A Ball Problem

January 23, 2015


Wanted to share Rants’ comments about Deflategate!

Originally posted on BrainRants:

If you’re not a Rants Army Regular, you might have clicked this because the current issue surrounding the New England Patriots ‘deflategate’ story is still hot.  To be honest

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Throwback Thursday to a trip to Scotland and England

January 22, 2015
Branxton Parish where casualties from the Battle of Flodden were taken in 1513.

Branxton Parish where casualties from the Battle of Flodden were taken in 1513.

Scottish independence marker in Coldstream

Scottish independence marker in Coldstream

Abbotsford 0013 - 2



Honoring those who fought for freedom…

November 6, 2014

England is honoring all the British Commonwealth soldiers who died during World War 1 with a ceramic poppy placed around the Tower of London for each one. The images are overwhelming. This was supposed to be the war to end all wars.

Remember our fallen soldiers on Veteran’s Day.

Volunteers Continue To Plant Ceramic Poppies At Tower Of London popies 2 poppies 3

Images courtesy of Google Images

Missing “Mostly Bright Ideas”

October 31, 2014

I first hooked up with WordPress when I decided to set up a blog to share family history with my siblings, cousins and their children and other distant relatives. It was information, stories, and pictures that I had gathered over the years listening to my father and his sisters talk about the family and as well as information I had gathered doing genealogical research. I liked doing it, they liked reading it, and it was a success for all of us.

While I was writing that blog, I also enjoyed reading many other blogs and started finding my favorites.  Here are just a few of my favorites:  
EmjayAndThem’s Blog (
Wings of Wonder (
The Other Side of 55 (
Fifty Four and A Half (, and  
Before Morning Breaks ( )

And then there was Mostly Bright Ideas ( by Charles Gulotta. While reading his posts, we had an exchange of comments which left me with the idea of starting another blog. Something he said gave me the idea of using the name Undercover Surfer. So you can credit…or blame…him if you want for my blog’s title.

As most you know, writing a blog entails a lot of effort and a lot of time. Some bloggers are very consistent about posting their work, weekly or semi-weekly. I tried that, and I failed. But I’ve liked posting and will continue, though over the last three years my posts have been somewhat random. My last one was in April. Where have I been? Well, just trying to get my life and health in order.

I missed blogging and have recently been trying to catch up on reading all your wonderful posts. When I went to Mostly Bright Ideas, I started reading Charles’ oldest posts first, and enjoyed them as always. Then I came to his post dated October 7, 2014, and went into shock!

He was telling all of us “Good bye”. Can you believe that? “Good Bye” Just like that! I felt like my little brother was leaving, never to be seen or heard from again. I totally understand why it was “Good bye”. But he was the one who encouraged me to get into blogging. And he was a sounding board for me when I was trying to get through some red tape with Canadian Immigration. I’ve never had a chance to give him the latest of that.   What a bummer!

So, Charles, where-ever you are, I wish you much success and hope life is going great for you. But, please, please, please stop by once-in-a-while and let us all know how you are doing.

You will be missed!

Sharing Family History

April 7, 2014

Have you ever wondered what life was like for your parents, your grandparents or any of the previous generations in your family?  What kind of childhood did your parents or grandparents have?  How did they meet?  Did they know each other long or was it a whirlwind romance?

Some of the most interesting family and historical information can be found in the personal journals and letters of our ancestors and the oral family history passed down from generation to generation.  It gives us an insight into a lifestyle quite unlike our own.  It helps fill in some of the puzzle pieces we find missing in our genealogy searches.  It put “flesh to the bones” of our ancestors.  It gives us a sense of our own history.

If you are fortunate enough to have access to some of these documents or have heard those stories or still have elderly family members who could tell them to you, I strongly encourage you to pull this information together.

Letters and journals should be preserved.  Conversations with family members can be recorded or transcribed or simply encourage them to write down the information.

You may say to yourself “Well, I know nothing about my ancestors.  None of them left journals or saved any letters.  No one ever shared any family stories with me…or…there was no one to share family stories.”

It’s unfortunate if that’s the case.  You may have nothing to draw from.  Your genealogy puzzle may be harder to complete.  The family’s history will have voids in it.  Those wonderful, little human details will be more difficult to find…if they can be found at all.

I’ve been very fortunate to be part of a family where the older members constantly shared our oral family history with us as we were growing up.  I know a little of what it was like growing up in a small farming community in the late 1800s, what it was like to live in the western Canadian plains before World War I, the trials of raising a large family during the Depression and the joy, the laughter and the hardships endured during all these times.

I recently read “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn,” and it gave me a whole different perspective of what life was like during the pre-World War I period in Brooklyn, New York.  And it got me thinking.

We can’t go back and re-write history.  We can’t write the great American novel…well, most of us can’t.  But we can record today’s history for our future generations.  Yes, your children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren may someday wonder about you and your life.  Maybe not them personally, but there will be somebody in the future wondering what life was like in the 20th and early 21st centuries.  It doesn’t have to be a blog or to be published…just get the word downs.

So, give it some thought…think about putting that pen to paper or fingertips to keyboard and sharing your life and your past with your family (current and future), with your friends…and maybe even with the rest of the world.


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