Flipped Switches and Some Reflection

It’s been a good half a year since I’ve been in high school, and it’s odd, but I’m almost an entirely different person.  It’s not like I’m too different personality-wise—nothing much has changed there.  It’s my habits.  And probably not in the way you think.   There’s this general assumption that freshmen in college go crazy, but I seem to have done just the opposite.

This is a small thing, but I started cleaning my room.  Almost obsessively.  It began in the middle of the summer.  I couldn’t bear the thought of all the junk from fifth grade stuffed under my bed, so I cleaned it out.  A few days later, I was tired of my closet looking like a warzone, so I cleaned that too.  You can walk in it now.  You can see floor.  It’s been months since I’ve cleaned it, and you can still see floor.  In fact, I cleaned my room this morning.  I’ve become so good at keeping it clean that cleaning it only takes a few minutes.

It seems like it’s something that anyone can and should do, but it still strikes me as weird.  Up until a few months ago, I was content to let my laundry pile up on my floor until my entire wardrobe was no longer in the closet.  I was perfectly fine leaving papers and things helter-skelter across the floor, and if you wanted to find something: good luck.  There were shoes that I lost for weeks at a time simply because I couldn’t sift through the mess to find them.

But here I am out of high school, and it’s like some switch flipped in my brain.  Like all of a sudden, I need to keep my room clean, and I don’t want to be in it if it isn’t.

And cleaning isn’t even the half of it.  Suddenly I find myself bothered that ninety percent of the shirts I own are camp shirts and show shirts, which aren’t necessarily very flattering.  This is mostly my fault.  I absolutely detest shopping for clothes for a multitude of reasons.  I have my taste, and it doesn’t really tend to change with the trends, so finding things I like is frustrating.  Additionally, finding things that fit (and fit well, for that matter) is nigh impossible.  And lastly, trying things on is too difficult.  Let’s be real: I’m lazy.  Shopping usually leaves me emotionally drained and wanting to sleep for five hundred years.

Yet I stand in my newly cleaned closet looking at my small collection of clothing that are not camp shirts, and I find myself wishing I had money to shop.  I have to be careful not to wear the same thing twice in the same week, and I have to get creative with my layering.  It seems that college has made me take a little more pride in my appearance, at least on the days when I wake up late enough to have the motivation to look cute.  Early mornings I’m too tired to care, and I tend to make questionable decisions.  Like wearing green and black argyle socks.  At six thirty it sounds like a great idea, but by four in the afternoon I wonder if I got dressed in the dark.

I don’t know what to attribute all these changes to.  It seems to me that as soon as I got out of high school, something inside me clicked, a circuit lit up, and suddenly I’m making better decisions.  I don’t know if it’s just something about high school, or maybe it’s something about college.  Either way, I’m okay with it.  It’s been a pretty wild ride, in its own right, and I’m excited to see what happens next.

Thoughts from the Zoo Lights


The two wonderful young women I got to go to the Zoo Lights with: Mariah and Brittney.

The two wonderful young women I got to go to the Zoo Lights with: Mariah and Brittney.

I have a handful of memories that are from so long ago that they seem like they were only a dream.  One of them happens to be of my fourth birthday.  I remember blowing out the candles on my cake and silently making my wish: to see some Christmas lights.  I’m a December baby, so it wasn’t too ridiculous a thought.  It might have been that we planned on going to the Zoo Lights, but decided not to since the weather was too cold.  The thought of Christmas lights was somehow implanted on my small brain that evening, and that was the one thing I wanted.

After dinner, we shuffled out to our van and went for a drive.  The next thing I remember is driving past house after house, each decked out in what seemed like thousands of colored bulbs.  I sat gleefully in my car seat, bouncing my legs as I exclaimed, “My wish came true!”

As you can imagine, these were simply houses with strands of lights outlining their roofs and clothing their trees.  I can only imagine what four year old me would have done had she actually gone to the Zoo Lights.  I’ve recently had the joy and privilege of going to the Zoo Lights as a youth leader with Delaware Grace Brethren Church.

All small groups (or Bible studies) from the youth ministry planned to go and meet at the zoo. Two ladies from small group I help lead came: Mariah and Brittney.  I picked them up at the church, and then we headed down to the zoo for our fun filled evening.



The Zoo Lights are incredible. I don’t care if you’re eight or eighty, they’re still cool.  Seriously, almost every tree is covered in lights, there are some lights made to look like animals, and it’s practically a childhood fantasy.  As I walked along the paths with Mariah and Brittney, I had to take a moment and reset my mind back to that four-year-old mindset.  There’s a part of me—the whimsical childish part—that seemed to have all but died.  I had to mentally refocus to realize I was walking through something amazing, something novel.

A lot of laughs and a few meaningful conversations later, our tiny group joined a larger group of youth from the church, and we walked around the zoo, laughing and having a fantastic time.  We finished off the evening hanging out and warming up in the food court.  It was great to get out of the cold, but what was even better was being with friends and talking.  My favorite part had to be the part spent talking around the table, and the chats I had with Mariah and Brittney even while we were in the freezing cold.  The Zoo Lights shine brightly, and they’re fantastic, and we ought to appreciate them.  But just as each light shines, each person can hold a light inside them, bright and unique.  We only have to take time to see it, and to cherish it.


Christmas Fun in Central Ohio

Looking for something fun and Christmas-y to do in central Ohio?  Good news!  Here are four fun festivities that you can partake in this month!

The Central Ohio Symphony is performing at Gray Chapel this coming Sunday, the 14th at 2:00 and 4:30.  They’ll be featuring music from Disney’s Frozen.  It would be a fun family friendly time to hear some great holiday tunes. More information and ticket pricing be found here.

Marmon Valley Farm holds their annual Country Christmas event, where guests sit in a covered wagon and take a ride around the farm as actors depict the Christmas story.  This is something that I once did with my family, and it was a cool experience.  One of my favorite memories is of a Roman Centurion calling after the wagon, “Do your taxes!  Stay in school!”  It’s overall a fun thing to do with the family.



Tours begin at 6:30 pm on Fridays and 5:00 pm on Saturdays.  Tickets are $6 for children and $7 for anyone over 12 if they are bought in advance.  If they are not bought in advance, they’re two dollars more.  You can find more information and upcoming tour dates here.

The Living Christmas Tree concert at Grace Polaris is always one of my favorite things to do.  It usually takes the form of musical, telling the Christmas story along with the story of some modern characters.  The show is always top notch, and so much fun.  I have good memories from when I was a very small child of this show.  And it’s different every year, so it’s so much fun.

Their next shows are the 12th, 13th, and 14th, so if you’re interested, check out the ticket pricing and more information here!  Tickets are around 10 to 15 dollars.

The Ohio Theatre has several showings of the Nutcracker ballet.  Tickets are a bit pricier than the other events listed here, but I’m sure it would be worth it.  I can’t imagine this would be great for very small kids, but I know it’s something I would personally love to do.  Tchaikovsky has got to be one of my favorite classical composers, and I’ve seen several film adaptations of the story, but never the ballet.  I think it would be a worthwhile thing to go see.  You can find more information about upcoming shows and ticket pricing here.




Adventures in Facepainting

This past week, Delaware Grace Brethren Church hosted its annual Fall JAMfest in the church’s backyard.  The event features inflatables for kids to play on, free food (yum!), cookie decorating, Trunk or treat, and face painting.

I’ve volunteered as a face painter at Fall JAMfest for several years now, and I’ve got quite a few fond memories from the event.  A few years ago, I sat at the face painting table chatting with the other young lady who was volunteering, and a couple bald gentlemen approached us.  They asked if we could paint spiders on their heads, and so we did.  I have to say, it was probably one of the strangest things I’ve ever done, but it sure was hilarious.  The best thing was to watch the guys run away laughing at each other, and showing their friends and kids the spiders painted on their heads.  Another time, a young boy dressed as a baseball player asked me to paint a bat on his cheek.  I thought he meant a baseball bat.  It wasn’t until the following morning that it hit me that he probably meant the creature that sleeps upside down and lives in caves.

With these experiences in mind, I drove out to the church with my little sister (AKA Batman) in tow.  Then I sat down at the face painting table for a good three hours.  Kids are funny.  Most of them will sit down across from me and stare at me, without a single inkling of an idea of what they want on their face.  I then have to search my mind for ideas, which usually end up being something along the lines of, “Butterfly, heart, pumpkin, bat, spider…” Eventually I trail off, and hope that was good enough.  It’s great when the kids know what they want, though.  One cute little red head plopped down and announced, “I want a kitty nose and whiskers, and then one butterfly on each cheek.”  Probably one of the more interesting ones I got was, “Give me a blue mustache and goatee.”  I also enjoyed joking with one of the pastors that the Steeler’s logo on his cheek would definitely look better with glitter.  Because everything is better with glitter.  You want a butterfly? Glitter.  Spider?  Glitter.  Cat? Of course you need some glitter!

As I painted a snowflake on a small Elsa’s face, I heart her parent remark, “These people must be so patient.  I could never do this.”  Which got me to thinking about it.  Like I said, I’ve done face painting for JAMfest for about five years now, and it never seemed like something that was very difficult.  Sure, I’ve butchered several butterflies and Batman symbols, and I’ve tried to paint ponies when I just can’t.  When I thought about it, the hardest thing wasn’t the art itself.  You don’t need a lot of artistic talent to paint a pumpkin or a butterfly on a kid’s face.  The hardest thing is having a steady hand, and the patience to go slowly because the child’s a moving, living, breathing canvas.  But I feel like it’s something anyone could do.  How much you enjoyed it would be another question.  I can easily understand how the time could drag by for some.  For me, those three hours always fly by, and it’s six pm before I know it. It’s a rewarding thing to do.  When I’m done painting a child’s face so he looks like a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle and he’s so excited, it’s worth it.

By five thirty, all the kids were lining up for Trunk or Treat, and it was time for us to clean up the face painting table.  Glancing over at the lines of kids, I couldn’t help but notice how adorable they were, all lined up and excited to get some candy.  There’s just something joyous and young in the atmosphere.  Everything’s all right, the world is full of wonder, and hope.  Through  the eyes of a child the world is a wondrous and fantastic place.

DGBC hosts JAMfest every October, and I speak from experience when I say it’s a great free and fun event to go to.  Definitely check it out next year!

The Maze Runner Film Review

Fast paced, gut wrenching teen dystopian science fiction, The Maze Runner, directed by Wes Ball and adapted from the book by James Dashner, was a pretty darn good movie.  With incredible scenery, terrifying creatures, and interesting characters, this movie will most likely keep you on the edge of your seat.

The Maze Runner begins suddenly, like jumping into a pool of ice water.  It yanks you right in as hero Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) awakens in an elevator.  When the doors open, he finds himself in the Glade, among many other boys who are all trapped there, including Newt (Thomas Sangster), Alby (Aml Ameen), Minho (Ki-Hong Lee), among several others.  Surrounding the Glade is the daunting Maze, filled with the perilous Grievers—terrifying monsters that are part creature part robot.  The film follows the Gladers as they try desperately to find a way out of the ominous Maze.

One of my favorite aspects of the film was the acting.  Generally, there was great portrayal of character.  Even when the actors didn’t say anything, their faces spoke volumes.  I remember watching characters in the background who were so expressive I found myself mentally writing in dialogue.  The combination of good writing and acting made it more enjoyable.

The plot drives this story well.  It’s fast paced and pressing, constantly moving the story forward, and drawing the audience in.  I think the only downside to this is that we don’t get as much character development on the more minor characters.  Chuck (Blake Cooper) is not developed as much as he was in the book and is therefore less sympathetic.  I was also disappointed that Theresa’s (Kaya Scodelario) character wasn’t as developed, and kind of thrown in at the end.  As a result, her character seemed blank to me.

As far as book adaptations go, The Maze Runner does a fantastic job.  The Maze itself literally looks just like the cover of the book, so it will not disappoint.  The movie keeps the main idea and plot, while skipping through and changing some smaller things so the story can plausibly fit into a two hour film.  The biggest differences are toward the end.  There were a few things they left out that I was glad they did.  For example, Theresa’s telepathic connection with Thomas came off as cheesy to me in the books, and in this film it was omitted.  I confess that it has been a few years since I read the book, and the film adaptation might be more vexing if you’ve just poured over each page, memorizing every plot point and line of dialogue.

The Maze Runner is definitely geared more toward young adults, but I think adults would enjoy it too.  There’s no real romantic subplot, and it lacks that trope of the dystopian genre, so it’s not super cheesy in that regard.  This is not a movie for little ones, as it is action packed, intense, and the Grievers would be pretty terrifying.  Additionally, there’s a smattering of mild swear words, some general violence and intense scenes.

This story is a great story.  It is fun, it’s interesting, it’s driven, and it’s different.  There are some great characters, wonderful acting, and the sets were phenomenal.  Even though it differs from the book, the movie is a pretty accurate portrayal of the plot.  I look forward to next year when the sequel, The Scorch Trials, comes to theaters.

“It’s my senior year, and I have no clue what I’m doing!”

You’ve made it; you can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.  You probably remember being in kindergarten and thinking you’d never make it out, but here you are.  It’s your senior year.  And now you find yourself faced with a question you never thought you’d have to answer: What happens next?

When you used to have to choose which class to schedule, suddenly you have to choose which school to attend.  It’s like you’ve been upgraded from the kiddie menu to the adult menu, and there are so many choices that it’s just overwhelming.  Except life isn’t like a restaurant, where you can take all the time you need to order.

Maybe you’re reading this and identifying completely with what I’m saying, or maybe you’re reading this not because it’s your senior year, but your child’s.  I’ve learned some things from my senior year that I thought might be worthy of sharing, or at least reminding people.  I am by no means a professional or very wise in any capacity, but these are a few things that are good to keep in mind if you’re planning to go to college the next year.


You have an entire year to figure out your next step.  Calm down.  Panicking never solved any problem.  All right, you don’t know what you’re doing, or where you’re going to school next year.  And this is your last year, but it’s still an entire year.  A lot can happen in that time.  What you need to do is focus on breaking the task down into smaller chunks.  What schools are you interested in?  Apply there.  Don’t know your major?  You can always apply as “undecided.”

But then explore.  Yes, stay calm, you have an entire year.  But don’t squander it!  Take advantage of it.  Your senior year is your playground to learn about yourself and what you want to do.  Come up with a list of majors that interest you and then try things in that field so you can get a feel for whether or not you actually want to major in that subject.

For example, I remember thinking I might want to be a chemist right up until I took chemistry.  Turns out I find the basics interesting, but once you get into stoichiometry and in depth titrations I feel like poking my eyes out.  Then I thought about being a lawyer.  I took government my junior year and I pitched that idea.  It wasn’t until I took some college English courses analyzing fiction my senior year that I really decided I wanted to go into English.  Find the major that excites you, and then go for it.  If you applied as “undecided” to your school of choice, you can always change it.

You’re still not going to know what you want to do.  Odds are that even after all your exploration, you still won’t be one hundred percent sure of your findings.  Most people switch majors.  Take me for example.  I’m not planning to switch my major at the moment.  I know I love writing, I love language, and I love English.  But then I’d get a score back from a math test I took in the spring and second guess myself.  I could go into engineering if I wanted to.  Or I could do some sort of communications.  That way I could use both my technology skills and my language skills.  Or alternatively, I could be a software engineer—that’s almost language.  It’s just programming language.  But then I remember my initial dream since I was in about second grade: to be a graphic designer.

See what I mean?  No matter what you do, you’ll have doubts.  Don’t worry about it—that’s normal.  In the coming years, you’re going to learn things about yourself that you never knew.  (E.g. I would have never guessed a few years ago that reading a powerfully written sentence would make me giddy with excitement.)

Do apply for scholarships.  I’ll be honest; I’m terrible about doing this.  Sometimes I tell my mom that I feel like I have about the same chances of winning a scholarship as I would winning the lottery.  But the truth is you have a better chance of winning a scholarship if you actually apply.  I know what you’re thinking, “Ew, more essays?”  Yes, but they’re essays that can win you money that pay for tuition.  Even if it’s two hundred dollars, it’s two hundred you don’t have to pay.  Some scholarships operate like a lottery—you don’t even have to write an essay, you just enter into a drawing.  For some you can take pictures, or draw or even make a video.  There are all sorts of scholarships out there, you just have to dig.   There are even some sites that will compile a list of scholarships you might be eligible for.  I tend to use and

Another quick scholarship tip—keep your essays saved together in a file.  Sometimes you can recycle an essay for another scholarship contest.  Just brush it up a bit, adjust the length so it’s appropriate for the contest, and then submit!  I know scholarships seem like a lot of work, but trust me, you’ll thank yourself when you’re paying what’s left of your tuition your freshman year of college.

“But I don’t want to do anything! I have Senioritis!” Stop.  “Senioritis,” otherwise known as spring fever on steroids, is a real thing and slows you down.  It’s really tempting to just sit back in your classes and let your grades slip a little bit.  You cannot turn your brain off.  Think about it, you’ve been carrying your torch for almost thirteen years now.  Don’t drop it right before you get to the finish line.  Finish with a bang.


I’ve been thinking about writing this for a week or two now, and my main point came to me very clearly when I went on a bike ride with my dad one morning.  The road by our house has a giant hill, and it’s just terrible coming back from a bike ride because it feels like the hill is never going to end.  There’s a smaller hill that you ride down just before you have to tackle the big one.

Now if you just coast down the small hill, you have to work pretty hard to get up the big one, and it’s excruciating.  But if you kick your bike into high gear, peddle like a madman, and build your momentum as you go down the small hill, you can coast right up the big hill with little to no problem.

Your senior year is like the small hill.  It seems fun at the time to just coast down the hill and not work very hard.  But there’s a big hill coming, and if you haven’t built enough momentum you’re going to find yourself huffing and puffing to make it up.  But if you do the work as you go, a little at a time, you’ll smooth out that transition, and it won’t be as difficult.

August 17th is Water Night at DGBC


What if I told you there was water, fun, and free food? (doodle by Katie Longtine)

Looking for some free, fun entertainment before the summer ends?  Well, look no further! [Read more…]

Invasive species in local parks, and what we’re doing to stop them

Delaware County is a gorgeous place to live, work and play.  We are so blessed to have an organization such as Preservation parks to maintain and take care of the several beautiful parks in the county.  The organization strives to keep these open, scenic areas in their natural state.  An important aspect of this is removing invasive species of plants from the parks.

Invasive species come from outside the ecosystem and take over, overrunning native plants and vastly changing the environment.  Invasive species can be plants or animals, but in the context of local parks we’re concerned mostly about plants.  Volunteers help eradicate invasive species from local parks.

I talked with my neighbors Jack and Leslie Flurry as we walked through Blues Creek, our local park in Ostrander.  As we walked along the trails, they described to me the work they do to remove four main invasive species from the park.  A few of the species seem to thrive in open, sunny areas away from the trail.  As volunteers, they have an off-trail permit, so they can pull out any of the four plant species that they might find regardless of where it is.  However, they told me that the biggest problems tend to be the ones that line the trails.  They work from March until early June, until the weather simply gets too hot to spend extended periods of time outside in the sun.

The first of the four invasive species we came upon was Garlic Mustard, given its name for its garlicky smell.  If you google search it, some recipes for pesto pop up.  While it is quite possible that it would make a tasty pesto, it is a menace in the forest canopies of Blues Creek, as it is ubiquitous.  The Flurrys said they tend to try to remove it early in the spring when it’s flowering and very easy to identify.  But once everything around it has grown up much taller, it becomes near impossible to find it and uproot.  When they pull it out, they cannot just throw it back down on the ground, as doing so seems to give the plant the supernatural power to produce seeds before it bites the dust.    Instead, Garlic Mustard is bagged up and thrown out.

Multifloral rose that we found in Blues Creek

Multi-floral rose that we found in Blues Creek

The next we found was multi-floral rose, which I had actually seen in our backyard, but hadn’t known that it was an invasive species.  The story goes that multi-floral rose was introduced to the environment by hunters as a rabbit habitat, theory being that there would be more rabbits to hunt and kill.  The plant is sort of beautiful, but it has a nasty habit of entangling itself in native plants.  With its barb-like thorns, volunteers are told that they need not bother with it if it is too menacing.  At Blues Creek, the Flurrys chip away at these monsters when they have the time and stamina.

honey suckle

This one branch with red berries is only a tiny fraction of the entire wall of honeysuckle that lines our backyard.

The next we talked about was honey suckle, which came as a surprise to me, because, again, this is everywhere in my backyard.  This plant bears oodles of red berries, which the birds tend to eat in excess, and then proceed to spread the seeds via their excrement.  The problem only seems to multiple, and the huge bushes don’t only smother the native plants, but also provide birds with less nutrition than native berries, such as blackberries.

Blackberries provide more nutrition for birds than honeysuckle berries.

Blackberries provide more nutrition for birds than honeysuckle berries.

You tend to need to get these out by the root in order to completely get rid of them, and so it is difficult for volunteers to eliminate huge bushes, or many clumps of them, but they try their best.

Autumn olives are the last invasive species, and they tend to like the open areas.  They have silvery undersides on their leaves.  But they are very huge, and so volunteers tend not to worry so much about them, and attack the smaller plants alongside the trails, which are the bigger problems.

autumn olive

A small autumn olive plant I found in the field next to our yard. These plants are everywhere, it’s insane!

Jack and Leslie are the only volunteers they know of who volunteer at Blues Creek.  If you’re interested in joining them, learn more here.  They’ve also mentioned sometimes scout troups come in and help out.  It would be a great service project!  Check out the Preservation Parks website to learn more!

Thoughts from places: Ostrander

The village of Ostrander is a fairly small community, with a population of approximately 643, according to the 2010 census.  But just because we’re a small community doesn’t mean we don’t know how to have a good time.  A few days ago, I rolled out of bed and drove into the village to watch the annual Independence Day parade.

The parade was headed off by a host of emergency vehicles, as is the custom.

The parade was headed off by a host of emergency vehicles, as is the custom.

The parade itself has been an annual custom of the village for who knows how long.  In the papers from the 1975 Ostrander centennial celebration it’s still referred to as the “annual parade” which would lead one to believe that it had occurred many several years before that in order to be referred to as “annual.”  Given, Independence Day was not a federal holiday until 1938.  It’s possible that it was not established until after that, but at the same time, there seems to be no record of its origins.

People in the parade throw candy down to the children sitting gleefully by the roadside.

People in the parade throw candy down to the children sitting gleefully by the roadside.

It does seem, though, that the parade has not changed much within the past forty years.  The most noteable difference is that at one point in time, a Queen was crowned yearly.  And perhaps the lack of a “Best Beard” competition is also missed.

(News paper clipping courtesy Ostrander and Scioto Township History)

So as I watched the 2014 parade, a tradition long-held by the village of Ostrander, I remembered that Independence Day is a day of beginnings.   Of course, it marks the day that the Declaration of Independence was signed, but as this small community came together to celebrate our entire country, I wondered how and when our community was founded.

The Buckeye Valley alumni band played for the parade, which I enjoyed a lot, being a recent alumnus myself.


As it turns out, Ostrander first became an Ohio community when a railroad was built from Springfield to Delaware and Mansfield in the 1850’s.  It was named for the civil engineer responsible for the tracks’ design, Shelemiah Ostrander, and wasn’t incorporated  until 1875, almost 100 years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

This vehicle is always a favorite of mine.

This vehicle is always a favorite of mine.

I also found several fun/weird things about Ostrander.  Did you know that there was a small pox epidemic in 1862, and the Presbyterian church didn’t hold service for two months because of it?  And that the same church had originally been located in Fairview Cemetery, until it relocated to the village and changed its name?  Or that on February 25, 1913 there was a train wreck where 22 cars went off the rails?  Or that in 1925 there was a huge fire that wiped out the entire business district and dramatically changed the landscape of the village?

A local martial arts academy parades this stunning dragon down the streets of Ostrander.

A local martial arts academy parades this stunning dragon down the streets of Ostrander.

It’s incredible how this small village could have an interesting history that seems to get overlooked simply because of its size.  But humanity, be it the colonists of the original 13 colonies, or the early settlers of Delaware county and the village of Ostrander, is interesting, three dimensional, and impacts us to this day.  How odd it is that we who live here today are continuing the common thread, the story, that began all those years ago when a railroad was built from Springfield to Delaware and Mansfield.  As I watched the parade in the street, I was reminded how these streets have a story, these people each have individual stories, and how together our lives intertwined create a chapter of the story of Delaware county, and sentence, or a only a word, of that of the world.

This float honored everyday heroes like police and firefighters through a short, cute skit.

This float honored everyday heroes like police and firefighters through a short, cute skit.


The tracks that once created the community have since been removed.  Having said this, the community is just as alive as ever.  It’s beautiful to see people come together and line the streets to celebrate beginnings.  The beginning of our story as a country, as a county, and as a village.  And the beginning of our freedom to pick up our own pen, and add to the story as we may.




Official Ostrander, OH website

Timeline from  “Ostrander and Scioto Township History”

Information on the 1975 Centennial from “Ostrander and Scioto Township History.”




About Maria: This year’s youth Chalk Fest winner

Maria's winning Chalk Fest piece

Maria’s winning Chalk Fest piece

Recently I had the joy and privilege to interview Maria Granger, the winner of the youth division of Chalk Fest, held this Independence Day.  Maria is going to be a sophomore at Buckeye Valley.  We talked a lot about her art, her hobbies, and a few other fun random things along the way.  Her Chalk Fest entry was a picture of Elsa, from Disney’s Frozen.  She told me it took her about eight hours, stopping just to eat.

Maria has been working on her art seriously since she was in middle school and decided to go into animation.  She realized that she was artistic while having a scientific and mathematical mind, and wanted to do something where she could use both.  Watching anime and playing videogames influenced her to move toward this field, where she hopes to do animation for videogames.  For kicks, I asked her what her favorite game was, to which she responded the Legend of Zelda series.

Maria works mostly digitally, which means she does most of her drawings and sketches on the computer using drawing software and a pen tablet.  However, she does like to play around with Copic markers every now and again.  She describes her style as “semi-realistic.”  When she started drawing, she had a heavy anime/manga influence, which has become more realistic as her style has developed.  She finds the hardest thing as an artist is finding ways to promote yourself.  There are plenty of fantastic artists on the internet, and it’s hard to find your niche that you can claim as your own.  She also said it’s hard to find the motivation sometimes.  Yet she manages to draw thirty minutes a day in the summer.  School really slows down her ability to draw, but she definitely doodles in her notes.

Maria (sitting right) and her friend chat as Maria breaks for food.

Maria (sitting right) and her friend chat near Maria’s work

“Draw all the time,” Maria recommends to artists just starting out.  Have a sketch book, and draw in it every day.  Maria said she tries to do gesture drawings every day, which capture motion and are important for animation. She also recommends drawing things you don’t draw much.  She told me a funny story where she went to an art camp, and was the oldest kid there.  So while all the other kids were just learning how to use the pen tablets and software, the camp leader asked her what she was good at drawing.  She said she was pretty good at drawing people.  So the camp leader responded, “Okay, now sit here and draw motorcycles.”

When she’s not drawing, Maria plays hockey very competitively.  She says she is also going to play soccer for fun this year, and she plays ukulele.  Additionally, she enjoys cosplay, which is dressing up and usually acting like a character, generally at a comic convention or an anime convention.  She said her favorite cosplay she has done is Robin, because Batman and Robin are just too cool.

I really enjoyed talking with Maria, she was super sweet.  It’s so awesome to see youth in the county pursuing goals.  I feel like kids are often discouraged from going into art.  So Maria: you go, girl! Keep following chasing your dream, and don’t give up!

If you’re interested in learning more about Maria and you’re into the tumblr thing, you can check out her tumblr blog here.