Tuesday, August 27, 2013


Christal Cooper – 1,380 Words
Facebook @ Christal Ann Rice Cooper

His Masterpiece
By Guest Blogger Patricia Leudeman Chaippa

My name is Patricia Leudeman Chiappa. I come from humble beginnings; I grew up on Long Island, New York. My parents Audrey and Bernie Leudeman were hard working, fun loving, and God-fearing individuals. They taught my brother and I about how to serve your community, about putting in an honest day’s work, and that love makes a home.

Growing up I never knew that we were dirt poor, and didn’t have the material possessions that other families had. I did not know what it was to want for things because the house I grew up in was always full of love, joy, and happiness.

Although my parents were on welfare, my brother and I never knew what it was like to be poor because we were rich with support, from our parents and grandparents. My grandparents Helen and Fred Leudeman taught my younger brother and I at an early age that Jesus was our best friend.   My fondest childhood memories was piling in the car with my parents and grandparents and driving on country roads with no destination in mind.

When I began school I was taunted, bullied and picked on by both my peers and teachers. My teachers called me lazy, dumb, and stupid.  I struggled to learn because I was undiagnosed with dyslexia. For the first fourteen years of my life I could not read or write. 

Until, at the age of fourteen, my sweet English teacher Mrs. Connie Esteves had a parent teacher’s conference with my parents and told them I was dyslexic.  It was Mrs. Esteves, along with my parents and grandparents who encouraged me and taught me how to read and write. It was Mrs. Esteves that fueled my passion for writing when she encouraged me to write a poem for the school paper. That summer I began writing Christian song lyrics, poems, and short stories.

She came to my wedding! She inspired me because she never gave up on me and pushed me to be the person I am today. I don’t remember what I read in her class but I do remember one time she let me write a report on Stryper (rock band) and gave me an A!

It was that same summer that my parents’ financial situation went from bad to worse and we were forced to move into what some may call a ghetto. The apartment where we lived was drug infested, crime ridden and dangerous. For seven years gang members in and out of school beat up my brother and me. The little possessions that my parents had were robbed several times. The apartment where we lived was formally leased by a drug dealer.  Every night my mom and dad had to deal with people knocking on our door, looking for drugs. There were times the person was so high they used to get mad when they couldn’t get drugs, and, the next day, while my brother and I waited for the school bus, they would ambush us. We received many bodily injuries and witnessed many horrible things.

In school things were no better for many of the same drug addicts were in our high school classes.
During those seven years we grew closer as a family and relied on our faith to give us strength during those dark days. It was during those days that God, who I once thought was just an unreachable Guy in the sky became a real friend to me. I learned He cared about everything we were going through. It was during that period that I thought about Jesus the Man not just the Savior.

It was also during that time that my brother and I would hold nightly Bible studies in our room to fill the emptiness. It was then that I got saved, and began dedicating everything I wrote to my Savior, my Best Friend.   The night before I got saved, my dad had a gun put in his back by one of the drug dealers because my dad had called the cops.  My dad barely escaped with his life. I was so depressed.  I just wanted to go home to God. On that day my friend came over and brought me a new album by a rock group called Stryper. I was 16 at the time. I didn’t care about God then.  I just wanted the pain to end. My friend put on this album to a song called 'From Wrong to Right'.  After listening to the song I dropped to my knees and asked God to save me.  My life changed and so did my family.  My mom got a job and a week later we moved from the area.”

Since those days my family and I have faced many challenges, including losing fourteen members of our small family to cancer including my own father to brain cancer; I lost four babies to miscarriages; I faced many financial hardships and health problems; and many friends turned their backs on me because they could not accept my deep relationship with God.
Why do I tell you all this? Because God has seem me through it all and has made my dream come true with a publishing contract with Tate Publishing. My first book “Sara's Journey” was released in August 2010.

In 2007, after my father died from cancer, I began writing my first novel “Sara’s Journey” to honor my father, who was a great storyteller.   I wrote in longhand with pen and paper and then transcribed it into the computer.  It took me one-year to complete the novel with only one draft.  It took me two years to get it published. 

The book was written to inspire the human spirit and touch the soul. It follows a young woman named Sara. She is inspired to be a great dancer. Sara has a strong relationship with God, strong ties to her community of Summervillie Heights, Georgia.  Sara has grace, beauty, and the man of her dreams. Sara's life couldn’t be any more perfect until one crisp autumn night it is tragically ripped away in a horrific fire. With Sara's life in ruins her dream in ashes and a perfect love ripped in two, Sara becomes a recluse, giving up not only on herself and her dream but also on the God that loves her and the community that was once the biggest part of her heart. That is until a man named Turner Thomas mysteriously walks into the lives of the townspeople. . .

The Sara-character was a little bit based on me. For years I hid my true self from the world because I was afraid that I would not be accepted due to my learning disability.  I was afraid I was not good enough to serve God. It was only by learning how to love myself that I was able to pull my veil off and say, “Here I am world.”

This past January I had a stroke.  While in the hospital being treated for the stroke, they found a tumor on my right femur bone.  I had to have a hip replacement and a femur bone replacement.  As of right now I am not working and getting no disability.  We are relying on God for our needs.  No matter what happens I will always have faith.  And I will always write.

         I love to write at the beach, right at sunset, but I usually write in my bedroom, in bed.  The one thing that always inspires me to write is for the love of God, what He has done for me, and His loving message to mankind.

I am a night owl.  I get up in the afternoon, and, due to my pain and health issues, get dressed with the help of a nurse’s aid, and then I write, write, write!  For me, writing is like breathing.  I usually pray before I write asking God what message He wants me to share in the book.  I try to think of the Person I love most in the world, God, and write as though I am writing a love story to Him.

         *Contact Chaippa via email at soulbabylondon@gmail.com or write to her at 5138 Village Circle East; Manorville, New York 11949.

Photo Description And Copyright Information

Photo 1.
Patti.  Copyright by Patricia Leudeman Chaippa.

Photo 2.
Audrey and Bernie Leudeman.  Copyright by Patricia Leudeman Chaippa.

Photo 3.
Patti, Brian, and Bernie Leudeman.  Copyright by Patricia Leudeman Chaippa.

Photo 4.
Grandparents Helen and Fred Leudeman and parents Audrey and Bernie Leudeman.  Copyright by Patricia Leudeman Chaippa.

Photo 5.
Brian and Patti, age 14.  Copyright by Patricia Leudeman Chaippa.

Photo 6.
Patti and Anthony on their wedding day October 16, 2009.   Copyright by Patricia Leudeman Chaippa.

Photo 7.
Mrs. Esteves third from left at Patti and Anthony’s wedding on October 16, 2009.  Copyright by Patricia Leudeman Chaippa.

Photo 8.
Brian and Patti while living in the drug infested area of Homestead Village.  Copyright by Patricia Leudeman Chaippa.

Photo 9.
Painting of Jesus by William Holman Hunt (1827 – 1910).  Public Domain.

Photo 10.
Stryper in concert.  Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Portugal.

Photo 11.
Leudeman in their new safe home.  Copyright by Patricia Leudeman Chaippa.

Photo 12.
Sara’s Journey jacket cover.  Tate Publishing on July 2010.

Photo 13.
Fred Leudeman.  Copyright by Patricia Leudeman Chaippa.

Photo 14.
Patti. Copyright by Patricia Leudeman Chaippa.

Photo 15.
Patti.  Copyright by Patricia Leudeman Chaippa.

Photo 16.
Patti.  Copyright by Patricia Leudeman Chaippa.

Photo 17.
Patti at the beach on January 23, 2008.  Copyright by Patricia Leudeman Chaippa.

Photo 18.
Patti.  Copyright by Patricia Leudeman Chaippa.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Frida Kahlo & Diego Rivera Married 84 Years Ago Today!

Christal Cooper – 857 Words
Facebook @ Christal Ann Rice Cooper

*On August 21, 1929, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera married in what would be a passionate, turbulent, artistic marriage of the 20th century.  The couple divorced ten years later in November 1939, but remarried in December of 1940, and remained married until Frida Kahlo’s death in July 13, 1954.  To celebrate their marriage, that occurred today, eighty four years ago, we are printing the scripted interview of Carolyn Kreiter-Foronda, who talks about her most recent book of poetry, The Embrace:  Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo.

Next Big Thing for Carolyn Kreiter-Foronda

The Embrace:  Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo,
a book of monologues,
is another testament to his enduring impact on me as a writer.”

1.      What is the title of your book (or story, or project)? 
The Embrace: Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo

2.      Where did the idea come from for the book? 
The first time I saw the paintings of world-renowned artists, Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, at El Museo del Barrio in New York City, I knew a book of poems was in the making.   Prominent works, such as Kahlo’s autobiographical Self-Portrait with Bed and Rivera’s classic Calla Lily Vendor—both from The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection—led to journal jottings, which soon transformed themselves into monologues in the voices of the painters themselves.  For the next few years, I researched the lives of these influential Mexican artists and traveled to Mexico City to view Rivera’s monumental murals, Kahlo’s enigmatic self-portraits, and each artist’s home and studio. 

The initial drafts emerged quickly and centered on Rivera’s revolutionary stance and on Kahlo’s difficulties with her husband’s infidelities, her physical disability, and her inability to bear children.  Despite the intricacies of their relationship, the artists remained devoted to improving the plight of the common man—a goal that remains relevant in today’s world of revolutionary uprisings.

3.      What genre does your book fall under? 

4.      Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
In the 2002 film, Frida, Selma Hayek presented such an intense and convincing portrayal of the seductive Kahlo that I’d recast her for the role.  Hayek possesses the inner strength to capture Frida’s passion, to portray her physical disabilities, and her distress over a crumbling marriage.  For Diego’s role, I’d select Academy Award winner Javier Bardem.  To portray figures depicted in Rivera’s murals, I’d cast the talented Penélope Cruz, Benicio Del Toro, Antonio Banderas, and Jennifer Lopez.  These actors could also give voice to inanimate objects, vivified in dual-voice poems.  As opposed to a movie rendition, I’d opt for a theatrical performance of the monologues.

5.      What is the one-sentence synopsis of the book? 
The Embrace: Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo features monologues and dramatic dual-voice poems inspired by the monumental murals and enigmatic self-portraits of renowned Mexican artists, Rivera and Kahlo, recognized for their innovative art and their mutual goal of social justice for all.

6.      Who published this book? 
San Francisco Bay Press (http://sanfranciscobaypress.com)

7.      How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? 
I completed the initial draft of the book in approximately five years.  During the research period, I read numerous books about the lives of both artists, and then traveled widely to explore museums to familiarize myself with their painting styles.  Once I started writing, the poems flowed freely.  The revision stage took longer since my habit is to revise exhaustively, carefully weighing the power of each word or phrase, as well as the typographical arrangement of each piece.

8.      Who or what inspired you to write this book? 
As a visual artist, I frequently write ekphrastic, or art-inspired poems.  As noted earlier, during a trip to New York to see the exhibit, “Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, and Twentieth-Century Mexican Art,” I viewed memorable paintings that inspired me to start working on a book of monologues.

9.      What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?  Both sections of The Embrace contain art-inspired poems that explore the dualities I envisioned in the relationship of this eminent couple and noted in their artwork.  Kahlo, herself, developed dual identities, most likely to cope with the difficulties of Rivera’s infidelities, of her disability, and her inability to bear children.  To capture these dualities, I created two-voice poems—some spoken by Rivera, Kahlo, or an informed narrator.   Other speakers include a doll, a mask, calla lilies, vines, or another symbolic object assuming an imagined life of its own in a vibrant painting.  In each of these poems, the voices—one in standard text, the other italicized—can be read separately down the page.  A third poem emerges when the two voices are read together—i.e., horizontally across the page—with the intent of broadening and enriching the interpretation of a painting.  The dual-voice poems have inspired other poets to try their hand at creating a poem in this form.

Links to poems included in The Embrace: Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo:

“Frida and Wet Nurse”

“Portrait of Luther Burbank,” originally titled “Two Voices: Wizard of Horticulture”

“On the Pedregal: Frida and Vines,” originally titled “Two Voices: Roots”


Photo 1.
Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera in 1932.  Public Domain

Photo 2.
Carolyn Kreiter-Foronda.  Copyright by Carolyn Kreiter-Foronda

Photo 3.
The Embrace: Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo jacket cover. 

Photo 4.
El Museo del Barrio in Harlem, Manhattan, New York.  Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 3.0 Unported.

Photo 5.
Frida Kahlo’s and Diego Rivera’s home in San Angel, Mexico City, built by Juan Gorman in 1930.  Diego’s house is on the left in red, and Frida’s house is on the right in blue.  The two homes are linked by a narrow bridge that joins the rooftops. 

Photo 6.
Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera in 1932.  Public Domain.

Photo 7.
2002 movie poster to the movie Frida starring Selma Hayek.  Fair Use Under the United States Copyright Law.

Photo 8.
Selma Hayek.  Attribution Georges Biard.  Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 3.0 Unported.

Photo 9.
Javier Bardem.  Attribution Angela George.  Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 3.0 Unported.

Photo 10.
Penelope Cruz.  Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 20. Generic

Photo 11.
Benicio Del Toro.  Attribution Gage Skidmore.  Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 3.0 Upon

Photo 12.
Antonio Banderas.  Attribution Gage Skidmore.  Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic.

Photo 13.
Jennifer Lopez.  Attribution Ana Carolina Kley Vita.  Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic.

Photo 14.
Diego Rivera in 1932.  Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic.

Photo 15.
Frida Kahlo Self-portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird.  Nikolas Muray Collection.  Harry Ranson Center at the University of Texas at Austin.  Fair Use Under the United States Copyright Law.  

Friday, August 16, 2013


Christal Cooper – 1,493 Words

Facebook @ Christal Ann Rice Cooper

January 8, 1935 – August 16, 1977

Sharon Carlson
Colorado Springs, Colorado

“I was devastated. I was down the street from my house walking home (I was living in Warner Robins, Georgia at the time).  I was walking in front of my next door neighbors house.  My friend Steve was walking down his driveway,  saw me & said "Sharon, did you hear the news"? I said no.  He just blurted it out "Elvis died today." Well I didn’t believe him.  He said, "It’s true Sharon."  I ran across my front yard, jumped on the porch, and flung open the door, expecting my mom to be in the kitchen, my brother Stephen in his room, and my dad out back in his garage; but when I pushed the door open they were all in the living room staring at the TV with a look on their faces of sheer shock. I just screamed, “NOOOO!!!”  I walked in slowly, turned around to face the TV and there was Elvis’s picture, with the date of his birth and the day of his death.  My whole family had tears in their eyes, and I just became inconsolable.  I saw all the hundreds of people gathered on Elvis Presley Blvd in front of his home, people crying, people fainting, the traffic... once I saw that I believed it, but yet I couldn’t.  My brother and I had tickets to see him in concert in Macon in October, just 6 weeks away.   It was going to be our first time to see him in person. I don’t remember how long I cried, but it was days. Even recalling it now I have tears in my eyes. His death affected me like nothing else in my life ever has (except of course the death of my youngest daughter).  

My brother took me to a "tribute to Elvis" concert at the Macon Coliseum that took the place of the real thing.  I’ll never forget that he did that for me as long as I live. In fact that is the sweetest thing Stephen ever did for me.  I was just 2 months shy of my 9th birthday when Elvis died, too young really to be such a hard core fan; however, because of Stephen’s influence, Elvis's music was all I was ever exposed too.”

Tracey Cates-Sinclair
Panama City Beach, Florida
“I remember it very well.  I was living in a hotel in Germany (had been stuck there for 6 weeks in between housing assignments with my father). My Dad played the guitar and I thought he sounded a lot like Elvis, so it seemed like a part of my Dad died when we heard it on the radio.”

Kate Hendrix
O’Fallon, Illinois

“I've never been a big fan of Elvis, but my ex-husband LOVES him.  He bought tickets for us to see Elvis in Macon in 1972, but then he couldn't go because of work, and I went with my younger sister instead.  Elvis was really good, put on a fine show.  In 1977, Elvis played in Macon again, and this time Jerry and I went -- sometime in June, I believe.  You could tell Elvis had aged a lot -- his singing, movements, and overall show were not nearly as good as just five years before.  So that's the background. 
In August 1977, I was living in Warner Robins, GA. It was a Saturday. I was a college student at the time, on summer break, so I was just relaxing, thinking about what to make for dinner.  Jerry was putting a new roof on our house, and his sister called to tell me that Elvis had died.  I was really surprised, since Elvis was relatively young.  But I calmly went outside and asked Jerry to come down because I needed to talk with him.  I knew that if he didn't come down first, Jerry might just fall off the roof at the news.  He finally did get off the roof, and I brought him into the living room, gave him a large glass of cold water, and told him the news.  He was devastated.  We waited for the news to come on -- we didn't have 24-hour news channels then.  Jerry watched everything possible on the television about Elvis' death, and for days that's all anyone talked about, it seemed.”

Belinda Hughes
Lake Charles, Louisiana

         I still remember the headlines on the paper that day: The King Is Dead and I Can't Drive 55. My family was on vacation, taking me to visit Washington, DC for the first time and we had pulled up in my cousin's driveway so his mom, who was helping with the driving, could get in a visit. I went and picked up the paper and those were the only two headlines and they were huuuuge! Elvis had died and the truckers were blockading America's highways with a slow roll to protest the new federal speed limit. Interesting vacation.”

Rena Jones
Bigfork, Montana

“My mom took me to several Elvis concerts as a child in the 70s. One was in Los Angeles, but the others were in Las Vegas at the International Hilton. I had to have been under 10 years for all of the shows, but I remember them vividly. I can't even explain the feeling I got when "2001: A Space Odyssey" began ... it sent chills.
One time my mom tipped the maitre'd a hundred dollar bill and he sat us front row center. We were sitting with a bunch of Japanese girls and they tried to get me on the table to get up to Elvis. Being shy and the only kid there, I fought them off. I remember waiting through the entire show just for Elvis to sing "Fever". It was my favorite and the ladies went insane when he did his moves.
At one of the shows a woman went to the stage (they allowed this) and gave Elvis a kiss. As he let go of her hand, she had a grip on one of his massive diamond rings. He slipped it off and gave it to her.
I remember standing in the audience clapping and clapping for an encore. And then there was the famous, "Ladies and gentlemen, Elvis has left the building" announcement, followed by the lights coming on.
Another time I was walking around outside the hotel when a helicopter landed and I saw Elvis step off. I ran inside and told my family, but none of them believed I had just seen him.
I remember the day he died. I was at a friend's house and my mom called me in tears. I asked her to pick me up. Seeing those shows, usually on a spur-of-the-moment deal, are the best memories I have of my childhood.”

Douglas McDaniel
Sedona, Arizona

      I was in a Mexican Food Restaurant in Scottsdale, Arizona, about to go home after a day at the job. I was a busboy at a place called Macayo's.”

Mark Miner
Albany, Oregon

“When I was six I went to Hawaii with my aunt, to Honolulu, and one morning we went down and walked on the beach before she headed to work, we were the only ones, until a group of guys started walking towards us...we were a little frightened, until they got closer, then my aunt started acting weird. When they got to us, my aunt hugged the dark haired guy in the middle and introduced him to me as Elvis Presley...he was a nice guy.”

Glenn and Dawn Richard
Spokane, Washington

“I don't have a lot to share other than the fact that Glenn swears Elvis held him when he was a baby.    Don't know if that's true or not but Glenn was born in Memphis and I think his mother told him that story.  Sadly, the thing I remembered about Elvis' death was that I thought it was such a shame. He was saddled with the same tragic legacy that so many stars experience - a dependence on drugs - more than likely an attempt to cope with the pressures of living a very public life.”

Cindy Shelton
Winter Springs, Florida

“I was at work at BellSouth in Dyersburg, Tennessee and we all thought it was just a rumor.  I remember his last song, Moody Blues, had just been released!! A very sad day.”

Maverick Wilcox
Pontiac, Michigan
“I got to see "the king" in Pontiac at the Silver dome New Year’s Eve when I was about 12! Most awesome experience of my life!!!!”

Judi Williams
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
“I still am a fan of Elvis. I remember where I was when the news came that he had died. I lived in California at the time and was visiting in North Dakota. OH my goodness such a horrible shock.  I still love his music.  I was going to marry Elvis and then he met Priscilla.”


1.  Elvis in Jailhouse Rock 1957.  Public Domain.

2.  Sharon Carlson with pet kitty Bella.  Copyright by Sharon Carlson.

3.  Sharon Carlson and Stephen Talley, who passed away on April 13, 2012.  Copyright by Sharon Carlson.

4.  Sharon Carlson's Elvis Monopoly game. Copyright by Sharon Carlson.

5.  Elvis performing his 1968 Comeback Special on June 29, 1968.  Fair Use Under the U.S. Copyright   Law. 

6a. Kate Hendrix.  Copyright by Kate Hendrix

6.  Belinda Hughes.  Copyright by Belinda Hughes.

7.  Rena Jones.  Copyright by Rena Jones.

8.  Elvis meeting President Richard Nixon at the White House Oval Office on December 21, 1970.  Public Domain.

9.  Elvis performing his Aloha From Hawaii on January 14, 1973.  Fair Use Under the United States Copyright Law. 

10. Glenn and Dawn Richard.  Copyright by Glenn and Dawn Richard.

11. Daughter Jennifer (left) and Cindy Shelton (right).  Copyright by Cindy Shelton.

13. Elvis's last album to be released while alive, Moody  Blue jacket cover.

14. Elvis's resting place at Graceland's Meditation Garden.  Attributed by Daniel Shwer.  Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported.

15. Child Bride by Suzanne Finstad jacket cover of Elvis and Prisclla on their wedding day.