Giving Back: Monroe County CASA

IMG_8644The holiday season is seen as a time of joy and hope—one where families grow tighter and appreciate the time spent together. Unfortunately, many children do not have this support or consistency. Instead, they are in foster care because their home is unsafe due to abuse or neglect. These children have not only been through trauma, but they are also forced into completely new situations because their families are unable or unwilling to take care of them.

In this chaos, one bedrock is Monroe County CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates), a volunteer-powered program that provides these children representation in juvenile court. Per their website, CASA

recruits, screens, trains, and supervises adult community members who volunteer their time to serve as Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs), with full legal authority set forth by the State of Indiana.

CASAs provide advocacy to child victims to ensure that they remain at the forefront of the court proceedings and find a safe, permanent home as quickly as possible.

When we started Inkblot, one goal was to give back to our amazing community. Now that we’re closing out our first year, we’re finally able to do just that. This year we have chosen to give back to CASA. They do such important work in our community, and we’re honored to be able to donate to their cause.

If you find yourself in the position to give this holiday season, consider CASA or the many other worthy organizations in your community.

Friday Fun Facts: Prompts from the Interwebs

photo by RachelWe’re a week away from Christmas, friends, so here’s some holiday Internet love for you.

  • So this exists. The Comedy Wildlife Awards celebrate nature photography that captures real life. I can’t even pick my favorite.
  • I learned about the British department store John Lewis this week. Their holiday commercials are works of art. Here’s the Man in the Moon.
  • Create your dreamworld in a tube! Rosa de Jong’s miniature vertical dwellings make me want to shrink myself and live inside one.
  • Ever felt the desire to memorize large amounts of information? Joshua Foer has some tips for you.
  • What’s the best gift you’ve ever received? The answers from forty leaders in art, business, fashion, science, and social justice are surprising. I love the idea of sending origami to someone every day.
  • Hillary Fayle embroiders leaves together, and it makes me wonder what the world would look like if more things were embroidered.
  • I don’t watch The Voice, but there has been quite the stir on the Internet about the winner, Jordan Smith. Anyone who is brave enough to sing a Queen song and nails it deserves to win.
  • Finally, the Internet has an amazing collection of letters to Santa. Kid #10 on this list would be my friend.

Safe travels over the coming week, everyone!

Chicago Manual of Style Q&A | December 2015

Every month, the Chicago Manual of Style folks answer questions they’ve received. Following are a couple excerpts from the Q&A of December 2015. To read the full month’s Q&A, visit

buy gabapentin online for dogs Q. Chicago, APA, and other style guides for US English require a comma before the conjunction in a series of three or more items, per Strunk and White. However, in recent years I have increasingly seen US publications not follow this rule. (I find myself more and more often rechecking to see if these periodicals and books are British!) Has your staff also noticed this tendency? If so, do you have a professional opinion on the subject? A. First, let’s note that Strunk & White recommend the serial comma (1918) per Chicago (1906), not the other way around; we were using it when White was still learning to read! And since it is commonly called the Oxford comma, it seems the British have been onto it for a while as well.

Second, the serial comma is optional; some mainstream style guides (such as the Associated Press) don’t use it. If you google “serial comma” or “Oxford comma,” you’ll see a lot of heavy weather from opinionated commenters, but there are times when using the comma (or omitting it) results in ambiguity, which is why it’s best to stay flexible.

Q. Do you hyphenate a proper noun + participle? For example, “the Delaware Department of Education-approved modules for Common Core”?

A. You can do that (with an en dash, however, rather than a hyphen), but it’s horribly awkward. A hyphen works well with a single word or title (USDA-approved meat), but for a long phrase rewrite: Common Core modules approved by the Delaware Department of Education. Subsequently, you could shorten to “DDE-approved modules.”

Friday Fun Facts: The Ampersand

Did you know that the ampersand was once considered the 27th letter of the alphabet? (You’re googling this right now, aren’t you?) I’m telling the truth — insofar as history has told me, anyway.

This character itself was used way before it came to have the name ampersand. In Latin, the word et means “and,” and as the Roman scribes wrote this word, they connected the e and t, thus creating a symbol that eventually came to represent “and” in English.

The evolution of the ampersand.

The word ampersand is thought to have been a product of mispronunciation: “School children reciting their ABCs concluded the alphabet with the &. It would have been confusing to say ‘X, Y, Z, and.’ Rather, the students said, ‘and per se and.’ ‘Per se’ means ‘by itself,’ so the students were essentially saying, ‘X, Y, Z, and by itself and.’ Over time, ‘and per se and’ was slurred together into the word we use today: ampersand.”

Pretty cool, huh?

Sources: What Character Was Removed from the Alphabet? and Ampersand.

Writing Pearl Harbor
USS Shaw explodes during the attack on Pearl Harbor.

December 14, 1941

Dear Mom and Family

Hi. I hope you people haven’t worried too much. I sent a telegram yesterday in hopes that you wouldn’t. I know you will understand how busy we’ve been, so excuse me for being so tardy with this first letter.

The attack on Pearl Harbor—seventy-four years ago today—was a turning point in U.S. history. At 7:48 a.m. Hawaiian time, hundreds of Japanese fighter planes, bombers, and torpedo planes launched from aircraft carriers. Eight Navy battleships were damaged, and four were sunk. Thousands of American troops were killed, and a thousand more were injured.

Corporal Henry G. Rieth was there that day, and we are fortunate to have a written record of his experiences, thanks to his letters back to his family in Boston. Obviously worried that his family wouldn’t know he’d survived, he went to great lengths to get his letters back to Boston.

I have already told you that I am O.K. in the telegram, which by the way I almost sent collect to convince you that it was me that sent it. They told me at the radio station that it would only take 24 hours at the most to reach you. I hope it did. I also sent a card the beginning of the week which you will probably receive last.

Patience was a necessary component of letter writing, as was caution. It was possible for the wrong party to intercept the message, so Rieth had to use restraint with his correspondence.

It’s pretty hard to write letters now because we have to be so carefull [sic] what we write, because it wouldn’t do to have mail containing anything which would harm us here get into the wrong hands. . . .

Our squadron can’t be written on either the envelope or the letter although we are the same outfit as No. 21. Our work is coming along swell the only difference is that now we are kept more busy, and now I have a ship of my own.

His letters give us a tiny window into what it was like that day and the days that followed—not only for the troops but also for the families begging for news of their loved ones.

I’ve had to stop writing this 3 times. Here it is Mon. night 8:30. Up since pretty early this morning and quite tired. The greater part of the afternoon I was working in the rear end of the ship I’m on, which for me is pretty close quarters and left me feeling sort of kinky. The boys are doing a swell job of it though and are really taking this whole affair in swell spirits.

Being able to see the handwriting on the page helps Rieth’s experiences—and the wider experiences of Americans in war time—come to life.

Explore a couple of Rieth’s letters here, courtesy of the National World War II Museum of New Orleans.

Friday Fun Facts #10

559143_602284835083_291886449_nA few of Lesley’s favorite things: handwritten letters, the cool side of the pillow, dipping her hand into the canister of coffee beans, naps, twisting knots in her hair, Christmas lights, and the first two sips of coffee in the morning.

A few of Rachel’s favorite things: old photos, Christmas-tree scented candles, Frank Sinatra’s music, a nice pen, flannel sheets, and sitting by the fireplace with a good cup of tea.

When I Was Young in the Mountains

When I Was Young in the MountainsEvery once in a while, as a child, you encounter a book that becomes part of your own narrative. When I Was Young in the Mountains by Cynthia Rylant was one such book for me. It details the daily life of a girl growing up in the Appalachian Mountains—she tells of her days spent swimming in the muddy swimming hole, attending church in the one-room schoolhouse, eating fried okra at her grandmother’s table, and sitting on the porch swing with her family. The repetition of the title phrase, the gentle illustrations, and the careful details make the book the reading equivalent of comfort food.

Appalachia is a complex region not short on hardships. Even in the narrator’s idyllic remembering, we see that the children are being raised by their grandparents and that the grandfather must mine coal for a living. For centuries, outside companies have taken advantage of the rich coal, timber, and other natural resources without also appreciating and investing in the people and the culture. Even in the media, Appalachians are often portrayed as backward and poor, when in actuality, we are a tough people abundant in family and tradition. We may not have a booming economy, but we have carved out lives on the sides of wild mountains among the galax and the ginseng. We have passed down music and stories that otherwise would have been lost to the past. We are rooted.

Cynthia Rylant and illustrator Diane Goode capture the Appalachia I know and love in a simple and beautiful way with a softened glow that comes from passing time. Now that I no longer live in Appalachia, reading this book allows me an escape back to my mountains, even if just for a few moments.

What children’s books have become part of your childhood memories?