Bloganuary, Day 4 (But I Never Got 1-3!): A Childhood Passion

Today’s Bloganuary prompt is What was your favorite toy as a child?

I have come to believe that whatever your interest or passion as a child, even if you don’t follow that passion for many years, will come back to you sometime in adulthood, and you will have a chance to pursue it once again and hone your skill.

My favorite toy, although not really a toy, was reams of paper that my dad picked up at the local newspaper’s office. It was left over from what the newspaper used to print each edition of the paper. My dad knew I would be happy to put it to good use. Along with pencils and crayons, this paper was the material I used to create my drawings and writings. I wrote little books, usually about my family or an experience I had, such as a basketball game, and illustrated them.

This image was downloaded from Google Images.

A few years ago, going through some of my mother’s stuff, I found several of these little books, which my mom had had stiff covers put on to preserve them. I haven’t been able to throw them out! I guess I will leave that to my kids to sort out after I’m dead. At that point, I will no longer care!

As I got older, my stories were longer and usually fictional. I wrote a “book” of several chapters when I was in junior high – I typed it and illustrated it. It was about a girl who meets a boy when visiting California and they are separated when she has to go back home to Wisconsin. Did he love her as she loved him? That was for her to find out (typical young teenage preoccupation!).

I have always loved drawing and writing. I kept a diary for many years when I was a kid, and I still journal, although not nearly as often as I would like to. I also have started writing projects which I keep meaning to get back to. Some day they will all be stored on flash drives and my kids can either read them or discard them. Maybe they will entertain or enlighten someone. Anyway, I enjoyed doing them! Currently I spend more time drawing and painting than writing. I am not very good at painting yet, but have done several watercolors, such as the one below.

Watercolor, finished in July 2021

CFFC: Paper and Books Memorabilia

The theme of Cee;s Fun Foto Challenge this week is books and paper. When I looked up my photos in this category, I found memorabilia (personal and historical), such as the following:

At the Overlord Museum at Omaha Beach in Normandy, France

I don’t think this display is really made of paper, but it’s meant to look like the pages of a book. This display describing the history of the hotel and the findings of Howard Cater was in the lobby of the Sofitel Winter Palace Hotel in Luxor, Egypt.

In our local newspaper, The Daily Herald, there is a column on Sunday that I enjoy reading called “Grammar Moses.” Jim Baumann, Mr. Grammar Moses himself, writes about grammar and spelling gaffes, mistakes, and clarification of usage of particular words or phrases sent in by readers. How often have we all seen a sign like this one?

Cards Against Humanity is a sort of nasty card game that is also hilarious (if you like this sort of thing), which I’d never heard of before until our son-in-law introduced it to us. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT, seek out this game if you are not prepared for truly sick and twisted humor! Every once in a while, I get in the mood for it, and then I ask my son-in-law if we can play it next time we go over to their house…

Books and coloring books were my solace and salvation during the pandemic quarantine, in the spring of last year.

I did some original artwork during those months too.

SYW: On Annoying Commercials, Nasty Food, and the Creative Process

“Monday Melanie” has given us a new set of questions for her Share Your World challenge!

QUESTIONS

What’s the worst commercial you’ve recently seen (or heard)? Why was it so bad?
This is a hard one because so many are terrible! Most annoying are the Liberty Mutual ads. I would not recommend this company to anyone due to their ubiquitous, stupid ads! Everyone I talk to hates their commercials as much as I do. Also ads for intimate products, like tampons or sanitary pads.

Since you crossed off “recently”, the ads for Folgers Coffee were awful. In one ad, a person says, “Is your coffee grounds for divorce?’ I mean, how tacky!! Another really old Folgers commercial bragged about the “crystals” in its coffee. Who wants crystals in coffee?? Just give me pure, finely ground coffee, please! No additives!

What takes a lot of time but is totally worth it?
My hubby says, “love.” Awwww!

So I will say something else: the creative process of seeing a project through to the end. I spend long hours and weeks completing photo albums but I love doing it. I can say that a lot of my blog posts fall into this category as well. They’re time consuming, but fun to do. I’m in an art workshop – same thing. The camaraderie of other people who love art is part of it, but also dedicating 90 minutes a week to painting or drawing something is calming and fun, even if it takes weeks to finish it or to come back to. I’m in a writing group – same thing again. I have written a lot of things, and some of them are quite good, others not so much, but it’s worth the time because it is the creative process that is totally worthwhile, especially when producing a finished product I can be proud of!

Have you ever smiled at a stranger and then wished you hadn’t? Why or why not?
Yes, but only because the stranger stared straight ahead and made no attempt to smile back. So rude. Fortunately, where I live now, everyone – whether we know them or not – smiles and says hello!

It’s good to be able to see smiles again after over a year of wearing masks!

What do you think is the nastiest tasting food?  (This one might be a recycled question.  It’s familiar to me anyhow)
Olives. They’re so bitter.

GRATITUDE SECTION (as always, optional)

Are you at peace with yourself?   Your world?   Please share, whether you said “yay” or “nay”! 
Yes, pretty much. Most of the horrors of my life – the failures, dissatisfying experiences, vindictive people – are behind me. In the senior community where I live, we are all retired and we do pretty much what we want and like to do. Most people are friendly and pleasant to be with.

There are many problems in this world, and a few in my life, but I am overall happy and without regrets.

Gratitude Quotes

SYW: On Art, Freedom, Money, & Gratitude

It’s a new week, and here are Melanie’s new (?) questions for Share Your World. I do feel as though I’ve answered some of these before, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing!

QUESTIONS

What are you most proud of in the last year?

The artwork I have done. I wish I could say that during the pandemic lock-down, I did artwork every day, but that would not be true. I meant to, but didn’t do it…

Even so, I have produced a number of drawings and watercolors during the past several months, as the rules loosened and we could form a small art group again. I even gave my niece one of my watercolors for her birthday! She had actually asked me to paint “something green and with a waterfall in it,” so that’s what I did.

As a result, I am accumulating a decent portfolio of my artwork. The pieces I am most proud of I will gladly display for viewing if an opportunity arises.

Besides these free-hand works, I did a lot of really nice coloring pages. Maybe that sounds silly, but there are coloring books for adults and I set myself high standards! I’ve had many of the books for several years, but didn’t do much with them until this past year. I used gel pens, colored pencils, watercolor pencils, or markers, depending on the picture.

If you see a puddle on the ground, do you walk around it or give in to the child within and splash about?

I walk around it, although right now the rain puddles are welcome because we really need rain! We need enough rain to make puddles impossible to avoid! We have been down 8 inches of rain this spring compared to last year, and normal would be 6 inches more than we’ve had. It finally rained last night and today the sprinklers are on!

Do you feel free? Why or why not?

I do benefit from the freedoms afforded to me as a U.S. citizen, good health, and enough money to live on and to travel. So I do consider myself to be “free.” However, we all have our burdens, which hamper our freedom because they tie us down in some way. It’s very liberating when a burden is lifted from my shoulders!

I also feel that the freedoms given to us in the Bill of Rights are not completely unlimited. My freedom ends where another person’s begins. It is not a “freedom” issue, for example, to disobey a mask mandate, just as one has to obey traffic laws, or suffer consequences. Part of living in a society that provides us with many benefits is being responsible to other people living in that society. They have the same freedoms the rest of us do. I don’t have a problem with accepting these responsibilities nor do I think I am not free as a result.

To be totally “free”, perhaps one would have to live alone with no one around to impose rules. I don’t want to live like that.

What life skills are rarely taught but are extremely useful?

Money management. My dad tried to teach us how to manage money, but he didn’t succeed very well with me – probably because I wasn’t listening! However, I did learn on my own how to make a budget and make sure I had enough income to pay my expenses. Even so, I wasted a lot of savings because I didn’t plan for the future.

I think there are a lot of young people who never had a class on money management. But what if they win the lottery or get hired to be on a major league sports team? Suddenly they have a lot of money, but not necessarily the skills to make sure they don’t lose it! Some lucky people take having money for granted, and they blow it all on get-richer schemes or lavish entertainment. Tales of riches-to-rags are as prevalent as tales of rags-to-riches! For most people, having enough money takes hard work and sacrifices.


GRATITUDE SECTION (always optional)

Please share some gratitude with everyone!   There are lots of reasons just now I think!

I am grateful for my legs. Although I have arthritis pain in my knees, my legs can still take me where I want to go.
I am grateful for my arms, which finally can be used to hug people again!
I am grateful for my hands, which are used to take photos or create nice pictures, and to write.
I am grateful for my eyes, which, although severely myopic, let me read books and see the world.
I am grateful for my brain, befuddled as it is. I have put it to great use in all the intellectual pursuits of my life. Since I am expressing gratitude, I will not list its shortcomings!
I am grateful for my ears, which can listen to music, such as one of my favorite songs performed by Cat Stevens…

Last Photo on the Card: February

Bushboy asks us to submit our last photo in February.
The rules are simple:
1. Post the last photo on your SD card or last photo on your phone for the 31st January.
2. No editing – who cares if it is out of focus, not framed as you would like or the subject matter didn’t cooperate.
3. You don’t have to have any explanations, just the photo will do
4. Create a Pingback to this post or link in the comments
5. Tag “The Last Photo” or #LastOnTheCard

February Month of “Lurve” – #16-20

Whoa! I have five days to catch up on this challenge, Paula’s February Love Me!

Feb. 16: I love…my house. We moved here in August 2019, a compact, pristine little house (it’s actually a duplex) waiting for us. Everything is new & modern, nothing is malfunctioning (and if it does, we call maintenance who comes to fix it right away and we don’t have to pay for it), there are no stairs, we have a tiny screened porch and a patio with an elevated plot next to it where we can plant whatever we want, and adequate storage space. I think this house is the most satisfying thing about living in this senior community. I was so sick of our old house – nearly 100 years old, it had old plumbing, poor water pressure in the shower, and three levels. The washer & dryer were in the basement, and our bedroom was on the second floor. Now when I want to wash clothes, I just go from my bedroom to the washer & dryer unit off my kitchen. There was always something going wrong at our old house and we had to replace the roof twice. We don’t need to worry about any of that here!

Of course, we had to get rid of a lot of stuff, but I didn’t mind that. It was good to downsize!! The only drawback is having only a one-car garage, so one of us has to park in the driveway.

We live in the house on the left – the red Subaru is Dale’s.
View from the window of our second bedroom, which we use as our entertainment center – TV and computers are here.

Feb. 17: I love…my family. I grew up with three sisters and one brother, and both parents. We were not a dysfunctional family, we got along for the most part. My brother was really mean to me when we were children, and my oldest sister was kind of bossy too, but still we were a remarkably cohesive family. Now my parents are deceased, one of my sisters is also deceased, but we all have kids, and most have grandkids. I love and cherish my large extended family!

Our daughter gave us this photo in a frame. These are the members of my family who were there. But there are many more.
This photo was taken in 2007 (also in a frame) when we gathered to celebrate my mother’s 90th birthday. She is in the middle of the first row, wearing a black & teal outfit.

Feb. 18: I love…my knickknacks. I have a lot of small figurines and other knickknacks that I have accumulated during my travels, or sometimes they were gifts. I have a lot more than pictured below!

Still life of five random things I have collected over the years! In back is a little round box that opens into a traditional neighborhood scene, from Cuba; at left is a black clay turtle, which also has a whistle; and a Mexican alebrije – a seal made from copal wood and then brightly painted with beautiful designs! On the right is a circle of Peruvian figures made from clay and painted in traditional dress; and a snake I bought at a craft fair, because I just liked it.
Maybe you have seen a meme on social media of a cutout photo of Bernie Sanders at Biden’s Inauguration, placed in other photos. He was sitting near the back and was hugging himself in the cold. A friend crocheted this figure of Bernie for me. She also makes mittens (full size, that you can wear!). Bernie Sanders himself has capitalized on his meme by having it printed on T-shirts for sale; all the proceeds go to Meals on Wheels of Vermont.
This is Josephine (Josefina), a javelina made out of metal by an artist in Tucson, Arizona. I am doing a series of photos with Josephine in various random locations. Here she is on my piano keyboard! (A javelina is a type of wild pig native to Southwestern USA.)

Feb. 19: I love…coloring. A few years ago, there started to be coloring books for adults on the market. They were promoted as being relaxing. You can find coloring books of anything from scenes from Outlander to Cats with Hats to Amazing Mandalas and geometric designs. It is really calming, so I tend to do it while watching the news! I bought several sets of gel pens, which are my favorite medium for coloring, but I also use colored pencils a lot – which are good for doing shading in the pictures – and markers. I like experimenting with different color combinations and it also helps me to color small details without going outside the lines – a good practice for when I need a steady hand for doing water colors or drawings. Here is a sampling:

Feb. 20: I love…walking. Walking is my favorite type of exercise. I like walking outside especially, because I can appreciate the nature around me, and it’s possible to find small things to admire, something I can’t do if I’m riding a bike, for example. I walk in any season as long as the weather isn’t too cold – it’s really the wind that keeps me inside!

On the walking path of our campus, a few days ago.
On our campus – I liked the shape of this autumn foliage!
At Cuba Marsh in spring
Duck on a pond with water lilies, at Chicago Botanic Gardens last July

CFFC: Animal Art

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week has the topic Non-Alive Animals. Of course, any representation of an animal has a real animal in mind as the artist creates it. But the rendition may be very close in appearance to the real animal, or it may be whimsical, or abstract. It all depends on the craftsman’s talent and point of view.

It was hard to choose photos for this post – so many to choose from! Everywhere I go, locally or abroad, there is animal art. Animals have been subjects for every kind of art imaginable for thousands of years…

Such as the first known painting in the world, a painting of Egyptian geese on papyrus at the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities in Cairo,

and the god Horus, usually represented as a hawk, at the Temple of Horus in Edfu, Egypt.

Also at the Egyptian Museum is a throne of King Tutankhamun, whose tomb was not found until 1922, with most of its grave goods intact – it hadn’t been subjected to many tomb robberies!

This elaborate throne contains many symbols and images of gods, such as twin lions on the front. One of ancient Egypt’s sacred symbols was the scarab beetle, depicted in the cartouche on the front of the arm; the hieroglyphics within the cartouche generally are names of kings, so this may have been Tuthankhamun’s. Embracing the throne of either side are the wings of the vulture, a bird considered to be a protector of kings. In this case, he represents the king-god himself, wearing the double crown of Upper and Lower Egypt.

The ancient Chinese civilization also had many animal representations, one of the most common being the guardian lion. This one is in front of a restaurant, House of Szechwan, in Des Plaines, Illinois.

Generally depicted in pairs, guardian lions stood in front of imperial palaces, tombs, temples, government buildings, and the homes of the wealthy. The concept was to show the emotion of the animal, in this case ferocity, as a symbol of protection.

Deriving from this Chinese custom, there are people today who have a pair of lions as lawn ornaments, like this one in Des Plaines. He might look more ferocious if freshly painted!

Here are another example of a Des Plaines lawn ornament, this cute little bird sitting on an orb.

There were many whimsical animals on display for sale or as decoration in the charming small town of Poulsbo, Washington, north of Tacoma.

In Evanston, Illinois, there is a little known museum called the American Toby Jug Museum, which we discovered during Chicago’s annual Open House in October. Toby Jugs are ceramic figures, usually depicting well known persons, but also animals. The history of the toby jug, or philpot, dates back to 18th century potters in Staffordshire, England and was popularized by colonists in the United States. The top of each toby jug has a spout for pouring, but nowadays, these figurines are primarily for ornamentation or collections.

After the wedding we attended near Poulsbo, Washington, we spent a day in Tacoma before returning to Seattle for our flight home. There is a beautiful Museum of Glass there, which has many objects designed by the famous Dale Chihuly, but there is also a fine collection of glass sculptures by other artists, such as this beautiful horse.

Horses are the subject of many works of art, including statues of famous heroes mounted on horses in many European cities, but I am only including two 2-dimensional renditions, one a drawing of a palomino I drew a few days ago, and another one at a short film display at the Ij (Eye) Museum in Amsterdam.

While in Amsterdam, we visited the Oude Kerk, the oldest building in Amsterdam, founded circa 1213 CE. Under the seats of the choir were unique carvings – some rather bawdy! – including this one of a pig.

Most people love animals, and there are many examples of whimsical animals to delight human sensibilities. In the gardens behind Melk Abbey in Austria are some cute creatures, mostly fantastical combinations of human and animal, but there was this turtle:

In Passau, Germany, which we had visited the previous day while on our Viking European cruise, while walking around town on our own, we came across a dachshund museum! Big and little dachshund statues were in front of it.

Who could resist being delighted by several painted cows in the town across from Mont St-Michel in France? Here is one of them, my personal favorite (I love that bright blue udder!).

Our daughter loves Hello Kitty, and for her bridal shower, Hello Kitty was the theme! I bought these as party favors.

Some animal sculptures are cute,

At Mount St. Mary Park in St. Charles, Illinois

but some can be a bit intimidating!…

Giant spider at Pappajohn Sculpture Park in Des Moines, Iowa

and some are reminders of favorite movies, such as this groundhog in Woodstock, Illinois, where Groundhog Day was filmed.