Preserving history with scrapbooking

10 scrapbookingThis article originally ran in the March 2020 edition of Women's View Magazine.

I remember certain events from my children’s childhoods vividly, and yet some things I question, especially as the years pass by. So, I enjoy having as many memories preserved in photos  as possible to review and confirm details. I am also the historian in my family; when other family members can’t find a photo of a loved one, I am the one they come to see. I have scrapbooks meticulously organized, going back to my childhood.

My first experience with scrapbooking was through my stepmother, Nina, who faithfully preserved all our adventures in books for us to bring home at the end of  each summer. Of course, these were the old-fashioned scrapbooks with a film over the pictures to hold them in place. Her detailed preservation of family memories helped me to develop an interest in and create my own way of scrapbooking. Consider these tips before starting your first book.

First, get old pictures out of nonphoto-safe memory books as soon as possible. Those old books can damage pictures and are not the best way to preserve memories.
Secondly, convert your old photos to digital copies to prevent further damage. Mark them as close to the date taken as possible, to make it easier to find these photos in the future.

Lastly, save those digital copies in at least three different locations. One can be on a computer, another perhaps an external hard drive kept in a different location and lastly, maybe an online service or in the cloud.

Update these pictures with your new ones regularly in all locations at the same time, so as never to be caught by surprise if a smartphone or computer dies. Some popular sites for saving photos are Google Photos, DropBox, One Drive and the Amazon Prime app.

Many traditional scrapbookers are still out there,  those who still put the photo to paper with glue and decorations, but more people are scrapbooking digitally. If you still use traditional scrapbooking methods, be sure you are using photo-safe paper, tape and scrapbooks, so all pictures will remain vibrant for years to come.

Digital scrapbooking occurs in several ways. I like to make an annual book for my family to recap events from the past year, but I also create special books from time to time, particularly of vacations, such as from a 2008 trip to St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

I’ve also made special books for my sons from the major events in their childhood. Both children have baby books and albums of their sports and extracurriculars.

I print my photo books through Creative Memories, a service that also sells the supplies for both traditional and digital scrapbooking, but other services are available to consider. Do keep in mind that some of the low-cost options do not always have the best quality outcomes; the books should hold up for years to come. Some of these other options, though, do make it easy to drag and drop your pictures into precreated albums, a nice convenience.

My last suggestion is that you don’t just lay out pictures. If you are doing traditional or digital scrapbooking, be sure to record notes or captions about the picture or the day to enhance your remembrances. These details may be important to you or a descendent in the future. Either way, it is another memory preserved – that is what scrapbooking is all about.

Danny Gokey coming to Dunn

14 ConcertThe health of members in our community is important. Due to the spread of the coronavirus, as a precaution, several events have been cancelled throughout the community. Please call to confirm events. 

Shows like "American Idol" and "The Voice" have captivated the eyes and ears of people all across America for over a decade. These shows seemingly find some of the best vocal talent right off the street and plop them into living rooms in front of the whole country as they compete to see who has what it takes to be America's next hit performer. So, many people whose lives and voices tug at your heart strings filter through season to season but seem to disappear after it is all said and done. You're left saying, “Hey, what happened to that guy?” or “I really liked that one girl!” but have no clue what they've been doing since the show's finale. 

In 2009, on Season 8 of "American Idol," we met Wisconsin native and former church music director, Danny Gokey, who quickly won the hearts of the nation with his larger-than-life voice. However, there was more to Gokey than just his voice. Just four weeks before his audition, his wife of 12 years died due to heart disease but not before encouraging him to audition for one of her favorite shows — "American Idol."

America watched Gokey nail every performance in the middle of his overwhelming grief as he rose to third place that season. But, after the season ended, he seemed to disappear into the background of the music industry. 

After a couple of less-than-successful mainstream pop records, Gokey made the move musically to go back to where his heart could truly sing — he was signed to Christian music label BMG in 2013 and released his first Christian album in 2014.

Since 2014, Gokey has been nominated for eight GMA Dove awards and a Grammy, and he won a GMA Dove award in 2016 for Christmas Album of the Year. He most recently won K-LOVE Fan awards for Male Artist of the Year and Breakout Single for his song “Tell Your Heart to Beat Again” in 2018. Gokey has seen many milestone career moments, with all four of his albums debuting at No. 1 on Billboard Christian, RIAA Certified Gold Single, over 750,000 albums sold and over 175 million online streams. 

Even better news? His current tour, Unplugged: Stories and Songs featuring Coby James, is coming to our area. Mark your calendars for Thursday, April 2 at 7 p.m. at Central Baptist Church in Dunn. Get your tickets at www.christian1057.com, and click the Danny Gokey banner on the homepage.

Gilbert Theater presents ‘The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, Abridged’

11 the complete worksThe health of members in our community is important. Due to the spread of the coronavirus, as a precaution, several events have been cancelled throughout the community. Please call to confirm events. 

Whether you are intrigued by slapstick comedies or you appreciate Shakespeare’s works, a merger of the Bard’s plays and hilarity will have you in stitches and on the edge of your seat. “The  Complete Works of William Shakespeare, Abridged” will open at Gilbert Theater on March 27. 

The play was one of the longest running plays in the West End, London’s theater district, ranking No. 20. It showed for nine years with more than 3,000 performances of the production. 

Performing the show is a large feat. “It’s basically three guys who run through all 37 of Shakespeare’s plays in about an hour and forty-five minutes. As you can imagine, it tends to get a little silly,” Artistic Director Lawrence Carlisle III explains. 

Wesley Wilburn, Chris Walker and Matt Gore make up the cast. Walker, aside from his acting resume in other cities, has performed in several plays at the Gilbert, including “The Laramie Project,” “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” and “A Secret Garden.” Wilburn was in the Gilbert’s Glee program. This is his first lead role in a main stage show. He was in “It’s a Wonderful Life” two years ago. The show is Gore’s Gilbert debut, although he has performed in Goldsboro at the Neuse Little Theater and Theater in the Park in Raleigh. He’s been in shows with Center Stage Theater as well. 

Due to the amount of Shakesperian ground to be covered in conjunction with a small cast, the production is zany and off-the-wall. 

“The show is kind of meta in that they talk to the audience quite a bit,” Carlisle explains. “Each of the actors is playing a fictionalized version of themselves. When it was written, it was written by three guys and the characters are just their names. But then they go through each of Shakespeare’s plays with each of them playing multiple roles even if it’s only for a moment. Think Monty Python doing Shakespeare. It’s hysterical.”

There is no real set to speak of. Most of the story is told through acting and quick costume changes.

Carlisle looks forward to the community seeing the play because he feels that it fills an important need. “With everything going on in the world right now, I think maybe people need to take a break and just enjoy some silliness,” he said. 

“We’ve been rehearsing close to three weeks, and I laugh every night at rehearsal and I’ve seen them doing it every day. They still manage to make me laugh.” 

The show runs at the Gilbert Theater from March 27 to April 12. Tickets can be purchased online at https://www.gilberttheater.com/ or by calling 910-678-7186.

Come see what’s blooming at the Master Gardeners Symposium

13 N1907P16005CThe health of members in our community is important. Due to the spread of the coronavirus, as a precaution, several events have been cancelled throughout the community. Please call to confirm events. 

The sixth annual Master Gardeners Spring Garden Symposium promises growth on many fronts. Fresh ideas from gardening experts, a bounty of information and a bushel of fun await attendees. The day is packed with inspiring and insightful presentations, vendors, raffles, auction items and friendly faces. March 21, head to Ramada Plaza at the Bordeaux Convention Center and dig in to one of the area’s most refreshing springtime events. 

Sponsored by the Cumberland County Master Gardener Volunteer Association, the event brings guest speakers Joe Lamp’l, creator, executive producer and host of the Emmy-award-winning national PBS series “Growing a Greener World”; Kerry Ann Mendez, an award-winning garden educator, author and design consultant whose international gardening webinars are enjoyed by thousands; and Jason Weathington NC State/Cumberland County Extension urban horticulture agent and landscape architect.

The doors open at 8 a.m. with a welcome set for 8:45 a.m. Come early and browse the many vendor booths and silent auction and raffle items.

Mendez opens the program at 9 a.m. with a presentation titled “The Budget-Wise Gardener: Plant the Best for Less! Money-Saving Tips for Purchasing Plants Plus Cost-Saving Garden Designs,” which is based on her newest book, The Budget-Wise Gardener. In it, she will talk about how to become a savvy garden shopper.  “I also talk about interesting venues and resources and ways to purchase plants beyond the standard garden center,” said Mendez. “I encourage people to support family-owned garden centers. There are many other venues, though, that are wonderful. Many flower and garden shows have adopted the policy that at the end of the show, many plants that were used in the display beds in the show will go on sale. You can also get good deals on hardscaping décor. 

“Another thing becoming popular is seed banks at libraries where the library has a seed bank and most are edible plants. You check out the seeds, and your responsibility is — at the end of the season —  to return some seeds from your harvest. Many organizations also host classes to teach people how to grow their own foods. This is becoming big in inner cities and other food deserts.”

Mendez noted that she will talk about  10-15 different ways gardeners can get the most out of the gardening budget without giving up quality.

From 10-10:30 a.m. there will be a break followed by Weathington’s presentation “The Outdoor Room.” Weathington is a North Carolina Cooperative Extension Agent, Agriculture - Urban Horticulture, at the Cumberland County Center. It’s not unusual to get inspired by an outdoor space seen on a home improvement or gardening show, Weathington noted. It’s also not unusual for the end result to be less-than-stellar. Sometimes even embarrassing. He aims to help change that.

“The focus of my talk will give people the confidence to go out and create an amazing space, which I think everyone desires to have but very few know how to create,” said Weathington. “It’s important to go back to basic landscape elements and how you can use them to our advantage. Most of us need to learn some of the basics.

“To me the greatest advantage of an outdoor room is the amount of time you spend outdoors. You are trying to increase the level of comfort because if it is really cold or hot, you won’t be out there long. What you are trying to do is reduce those harsh conditions and make it more pleasant, which is better.”

And part of that, Weathington said, means getting it right the first time. “Be careful who you take advice from. Making mistakes can get really expensive and frustrating. I had a professor in grad school who talked about experiential quality – that is what a lot of outdoor spaces lack.”

A seated lunch is set for 11:30 a.m.-12:45 p.m. Lunch is included in the $70 admission price. This is also the time to get in any last-minute bids for the auction, as it closes at 12:45 p.m. Local plant guru and horticultural expert Roger Mercer will speak briefly from 12:45-1 p.m.

Mendez returns to present “Gardening Simplified: Plants and Design Solutions for Time-Pressed and Maturing Gardeners” from 1-2 p.m. This inspiring lecture provides easy- to-follow right-sizing strategies, recommended no-fuss plant material and design tips for stunning year-round gardens that will be as close to ‘autopilot’ as you can get. The lecture is based on Mendez’s book “The Right-Size Flower Garden.”

“Gardening brings such pleasure to our heart and soul, and it is healthy for our heart and mind,” Mendez said. “The emotional, physical and spatial benefits of gardening at any size is so rewarding. I wish more people would not be intimidated by gardening. I wish they would get a pot and plant a seed and just try it. … It is so healing and beneficial.”

There will be another break from 2-2:30 p.m. This is also when auction winners will be posted.

The final presentation of the day runs from 2:30-3:30 p.m. and comes from  Lamp’l. Through video and award-winning photography, attendees will  meet fascinating people, see interesting places and learn about innovative ideas of people positively impacting their urban communities and beyond – all with a common thread of urban gardening.“We look to tell the stories of inspiring people doing great things for the planet through gardening,” said Lamp’l.

“We look for those stories that are new to people — innovators, trendsetters or newsmakers. We set out for stories across the country and bring back footage and memories and turn it into a TV show. I am gonna take about 15 of those stories and share them with the audience with a focus on urban garden stories about people who don’t have a place to garden or know how to garden.” 

 This event is a fundraiser for to support local horticulture efforts and for scholarships for Fayetteville Technical Community College horticulture students.

 “We give two scholarships at $1,500,” said Cumberland County Master Gardener Spring Gardening Symposium Chairperson  Judy Dewar. “We also offer grants to teachers who offer horticulture classes. And we strive to find ways to educate our county residents.”

Dewar added that this event is for every level of gardener – “There is something from the most adept gardener to the one who has never planted a seed.”  Search the symposium on Eventbrite to purchase tickets or for more details.

CFRT’s ‘Murder for Two’ pure comedic entertainment

07 Murder for TWo Everybody loves a good mystery!

Let me clue you in on a great way to spend a remarkable evening, or perhaps a Saturday or Sunday matinee, March 5-22. A sold-out house had a great time this past Thursday night at the Cape Fear Regional Theatre, from 7:30- 9 p.m., trying to solve a musical murder mystery. Inside, we were all warm, comfortable, giggly, awestruck and, at times, laughingly flabbergasted.

“Murder for Two,” directed by Laura Josepher and starring Trace Pool and Ben Miller, suited everyone’s sense of humor, from the youngest to the oldest person. Josepher and the CFRT creative team made sure the actors, script, props, set design, costumes and lighting set the perfect artistic tone.

Who would have thought that weather, murder, mystery, music and a cast of two could have pulled off this “whodunit” with such ease, comedy, endurance, enthusiasm, energy, grace and style?

The plot of this knee-slapping play takes place in a remote New England mansion and centers on a murder that happens during a birthday party. Trace Pool plays investigator Marcus Moscowitz, who is in charge of the case, and Ben Miller plays several different characters who are persons-of-interest for the murder. The suspects include the murder victim’s wife Dahlia, ballerina Barrette Lewis (my personal favorite), psychiatrist Dr. Griff, neighbors Murray and Barb Flandon, three young choir boys, and the mysterious “Perfect Partner” for investigator Moscowitz, who always abides by perfect protocol. Since there are both male and female suspects, Miller and Pool tested their entire physical, vocal and visual prowess to pull off very skillful and challenging performances.

 Watching Miller and Pool play off each other in such an easygoing, no-nonsense style was delightful. They seemed to be able to read each other’s minds, movements and mannerisms, which were essential to pulling the audience into their every line, every animation and every laugh. The audience was included in the set of the play and even participated in one scene.

When questioned about what they liked best and least, the audience said much the same “the ease, the professionalism, the antics, the singing, the piano playing were the best.” Least enjoyed, mentioned only by men, was “the mental concentration it took to stay in each moment,” but they admitted it was worth it in the end.

Writing this review was a first for me. Then it came to me that I do not usually agree with movie, song or play critics. For me, it is all about pure entertainment, what it makes me think or feel, what gives me joy and pleasure, what makes me sad or cry. So, for my first play review, I just went with what felt good to me and made me smile, and what I saw made others smile as well — and that, folks is entertainment.

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