Joy With Kids

Cee’s On the Hunt for Joy this week has the theme Let a kid decorateI’m not around kids much anymore, so I went into my archives from my years of teaching. Since my language arts students were all of Mexican & Central American origin, we celebrated the Day of the Dead on the day after Halloween. In the school year 2009-10, the fifth grade classes made posters – they cut out skeletons and then, as a class, they had to decide on a scene and place their skeletons in the scene. When they were finished, we decorated the halls with them.
100Ana shows off her skeleton so far!
Below are their final products!

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Simplicity

Lens-Artists’ challenge this week has the theme simplicity. P.A. Moed says: As the coronavirus pandemic spreads and intensifies, many of us around the world are spending a lot of time at home, following governmental regulations to shelter in place. More and more of us feel like we’re returning to a simpler time–cooking our own meals, playing board games, reading (and re-reading) the classics, cleaning the house, and taking up hobbies like knitting, sewing, and gardening. For me, this time also highlights the value of simplicity.

I feel as P.A. Moed does – I find pleasure in the simple things of life. After all, I have plenty of time to look for things that I might not otherwise notice. Most of these simple things are the beauty of nature.

For example, I delight in the simplicity of a sunset, like this one in January:
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the simplicity of a stand of birch trees in winter:
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the simple pleasures of childhood:
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the simple beauty of daffodils about to fully bloom, a sign that spring is really here:
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the quiet and simple beauty of a swan resting at the edge of a pond:
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Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Future

Lens-Artists’ Photo Challenge this week is to depict the topic of future. How can I take photos of something that hasn’t happened yet? Of course, that is impossible, but I can photograph potential and anticipation: the changing of seasons, children growing up, construction sites where buildings are being built on their current foundations.

I read this morning that there are currently six generations of people alive today. The G.I. Generation was born in the years 1900-1924. This generation is disappearing, but a few of them are still living independently in our senior community!

Mother facing the empty shelves
My mother, born in 1917, sat in her empty apartment in 2009 contemplating her future – the last chapter of her life – as we, her children, packed up her possessions in preparation for her move to assisted living. The empty white walls and shelves represented the end of her independence. (She died at the end of 2014.)

The Traditionalists/Silent Generation was born during the Depression and World War II, 1925-1945. Baby Boomers, the largest generation, were born 1946-1964 (this is my generation).

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Members of three generations – my husband, Dale, was born in 1944 and grew up in the 1950s and early 1960s. Behind him is me, born in 1952 – a Baby Boomer. In back, that smiling, handsome young man is my son, Jayme, born in 1985 – a Millennial, because his generation reached adulthood in the 21st century. Every one of us has a future to look forward to, although Dale takes it less for granted than Jayme. Dale and I look to the future as one of travel and pursuit of our own interests in our retirement years. Jayme – assuming he lives as long as we have – will see a very different world: one with altered climate, perhaps shortage of food and hopefully, a more enlightened government that invests in renewable energy. Will his health be compromised from smoking during his young adulthood? Will he quit before that? Will he find the love of his life, get married and have children? Will he publish a book of poems? I wonder about his future when I look at his face. HOPE is always a projection of the future!

Generation X is those born between 1965 and 1979. Millennials were born between 1980 and the late 1990s. Finally, Generation Z (because we don’t know what else to call them yet!) are the kids of today: born in the last years of the 20th century to the 2010s.

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A member of Generation Z is filled with wonder and delight at the ducks around her. She hopefully can look forward to a long future ahead.
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Mason (in lime green hoodie), holds his younger brother, Max, (my grand-nephew) as they watch fireworks over a lake in northern Wisconsin. I have already seen their future – this was taken in 2014, and Mason is no longer a child – he’s in high school, and Max, age 2 or 3 in this photo, is now a second grader.

Each of these generations had or have a future. The older ones have already fulfilled their potential – their hopes and dreams either completed or frustrated. The future they looked toward is now.

In the political arena, I see the youngest two generations as our hope for the future. These are the kids of Parkland High School, who are turning eighteen and have registered to vote; they are 18-year-olds all over the country who are signing up to vote fueled by the passion of their peers, peers such as the survivors of Parkland who saw their classmates gunned down at school, or such as Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old face of the movement to deal with climate change. We need their passion nowadays! We older folks can continue to march and protest Trumpism; we can show our concern for climate change and help in various ways. But it is really these younger people that carry us into the future.

Hope for future reflected in participants in a flash rally (including us – that’s me in the photo at left) in downtown Arlington Heights, that Robert Mueller would be allowed to do his job and discover damning information that would implicate Trump. What has Trump got to hide? Much of that is still to be uncovered – will the future bring us the full truth?

The future is my 50th high school reunion in June. Sedona, see you soon!
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The future for an artist is an empty canvas.
20200212_001230Nature is a good place to look for the promise of the future.

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I was taking a walk on a chilly (but not horribly cold) afternoon last week and took this photo of a tree rising out of a sheen of ice on a retention pond. Later, when I looked at it in large size on my computer, I noticed a lot of white specks on the branches and realized, the tree is budding already! This has been a very mild winter and plants have been fooled into thinking it’s almost spring. Already we see the future on this tree – a future of blossoms and green leaves.

All species are equipped to reproduce, so that their kinds will continue. Flowers have fertile interiors, filled with the pollen needed to spread its seeds. The flowers’ colors and fragrance are designed to attract insect species to spread their pollen. Few orchids are red, because bees cannot see that color. And flies prefer flowers that are brownish, resembling decay.

To look into the center of a flower is to see the future – or the promise of it!

Baby animals start out so small…

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Our grandcat, Freddy, when he was still a kitten. Look at the hair in his ears – what breed was in this shelter kitten? Only the future would tell…Now he’s six months old with the bushy tail of a Maine coon cat!

and in the wild, their parents can only hope that their future includes reaching adulthood!

 

Last and First Photos

Bushboys World has a new challenge, to post the last photo taken in January. I actually haven’t taken any ‘real’ photos the last several days, just my artwork. So here’s the last photo I snapped of a drawing I did on Wednesday. I am practicing drawing portraits. This is of a little girl named Zia that we met in Luxor, Egypt in Dec. 2018.
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After that, the next photo I took was today, of my son’s new (used) car. He bought this car from a friend a couple of months ago. It was the most expensive car he’s ever purchased, the newest (2017) and the first time he’s bought a Kia. Since he is away for awhile, we drove his car to our daughter’s house and parked it on the lawn. It isn’t safe to leave a car on a street in Chicago for more than a couple of weeks – someone might consider it abandoned! Either that, or someone will try to steal it. So here it sits in the suburbs, until he returns to drive it back home!
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Childhood: A Journey of Growing Up

We have recently moved and so I have been going through a lot of stuff stored in our old house, including photos I took of my son, Jayme, when he was a child (he is now 34). I am sharing some of my favorites of the ones I have scanned, for this week’s VJ’s Weekly Challenge #62: Child/Childhood.

1980s

Jayme with neighbor

Playing in a kiddie pool with a neighbor, on a hot summer day in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 1986

 

Jayme Villa Alvarez - in Janesville wagon
Fall 1986 – in a Janesville Wagon, at his Granny’s house in Janesville, Wisconsin
Jayme Villa-Alvarez - on the pier at the cottage
Faux pout on the pier (wearing an oversized Brewers cap!) – at our cottage on Upper Kaubashine Lake, Hazelhurst, Wisconsin, c. 1988

With his cousins

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Jayme with his cousin Julia, at our cottage in northern Wisconsin, c.1989. These two were very best friends for years, and only drifted apart when we moved to Illinois and both of them grew older. Julia was just under 2 years older than Jayme.

1990s

Leslie, Jayme, Allie & Katy - at Native Village in Lac du Flambeau
Visiting a native village with cousins Leslie and Allie (that’s me as a much younger mom on the right!) – Lac du Flambeau, Wisconsin, c. 1992
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Jayme with cousin Eric, feeding a deer at Jim Peck’s Wildlife, Minocqua, Wisconsin, c. 1993

With his stepdad, my husband, Dale, who is teaching him how to check the tires of his bike, Des Plaines, Illinois, 1996 or 1997.
Jayme Villa-Alvarez, Dale Berman

2019

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Jayme now, taken at his stepsister’s wedding in January 2019.

 

 

 

CFFC: Busy Hands

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week has the theme of HANDS. Looking through my photos, I found hands in various positions and engaging in various tasks – hands are seldom idle!

Some hands are meant to scare…
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like on Halloween!
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Sometimes hands are helpful, pointing out things of interest…
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Hands demonstrate how to make things…
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like this man showing us how to make papyrus. He owns a shop that sells paintings made on papyrus “paper.”
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Some hands have painted fingernails.
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Hands can be used as perspective to show how (in this case) deeply ancient Egyptians carved their images in rock.
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Little hands are very busy! My grand-niece makes “buttered popcorn bagels”…
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A 4-year old’s hands are always busy exploring! Here my grand-niece (the same one) tried on some big yellow gloves and held something in one of them.
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Sometimes to get a photo of the inside of a flower, I have to hold it up…
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Hands can spoil your photo when they reach up to take a photo and their shadow falls on your subject!
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Sometimes hands are used for sacred acts…
such as prayer;
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or when Mary Magdalene touched Jesus’ robe and felt the power of his spirit;
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or when a man’s hands protected the children of the Warsaw Ghetto, while their hands could do nothing in their sadness and fear but hang at their sides.
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Hands are essential in the evolution of the human species: they grasp tools, they work, they perform intricate surgery, they play music, they embrace, they pet animals*, they are used to show emotion, or to use sign language – they are used in all kinds of expression and communication. Without the development of our hands, we would not have evolved into who we are today.

*I wanted to include photos of hands petting my cat, Hazel, but she jumped on my computer, which I took to mean that I will have to create a separate post on my cat-centered blog of hands petting her!

Journey to Egypt, Part 11: Luxor – Lunch, a Ferry Ride, & Dinner with a Local Family

December 27, 2018

A Walk to Lunch

Back in the city of Luxor (about 850,000 population), our bus driver dropped us off in the vicinity of the place where we would have lunch. The restaurant was a few blocks away down dusty streets, and we had to walk. I was glad for this because as it turned out, there were many buildings with interesting doors and I kept stopping to take pictures! Most of these doors I have already posted for Norm’s Thursday Doors, but here are a few of them again, plus some other sights along the way.

Mineret of a nearby mosque
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interesting building
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Dale stops and looks back to see where I am – taking pictures, what else?!
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Here’s one Dale took – he found this sign amusing.
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The restaurant where we had lunch

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We ate on an open terrace – it was a beautiful day!

Ferry Ride

After lunch, we walked back to the bus, which took us to a boat dock. We took a ferry called “King of Love” across the Nile!
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The ferries were all colorfully painted and named.
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One of the cruise ships that take tourists up and down the Nile – we were to see many of these in the next few days.
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Our Hotel: Sofitel Winter Palace

We had “down time” for the rest of the afternoon – well deserved, after seeing so many monuments in the morning! I will use this space to post pictures of our hotel, the Sofitel Winter Palace.

The hotel was decorated for Christmas, including this unique Christmas tree.

Dale thought the decorations of an ancient priest carrying a boat looked like a menorah!

Returning to our room, I discovered that the attendant had left flowers in a vase and on the sink in the bathroom.

The Winter Palace Hotel was built in 1886, in the luxury style of many old hotels in the Victorian age.
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Underneath the hotel, where the arches are below the railing, there were some shops, including one that sold antiques, including jewelry. Merchants are not allowed to sell anything that is more than 100 years old, to discourage the marketing of possibly valuable artifacts.
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Behind the hotel are the century old Royal Gardens.

There are large, lavishly decorated salons like this one.
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They had hats for guests to try on, like Dale in this fez!
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Dinner with a Local Family

For dinner, we were split into two groups. Each group would go to a different local household for dinner. Dale and I went with four other people. The home-hosted dinner is one of the highlights of OAT tours.

Our family, of modest means, was very welcoming.  The father’s name is Mohammed, the mother is Doah (pron. Doh – AH) and they have four children – two boys (Faheed, age 15 and Kareem, age 10) and two girls (Rana, age 14 and Zena, age 2).

 

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Left to right: The cousin-translator (I don’t remember his name), Doah, Zena, Mohammed, Kareem, Faheed 

Little Zena was so cute! She loves to dance to music, which she was too happy to do, because she sought our approval – she was not at all shy!

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Zena enjoyed her juice, as did we all – it was delicious!

 

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A couple in our group is from Florida and they brought this Miami Dolphins t-shirt which they gave to Kareem.

Rana enjoys drawing and wants to be an artist. Her drawings were passed around among us, as well as photos of the family, to admire. Rana didn’t get home until just before we left – just in time for a family photo!

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Rana (in the white hijab) joined the rest of the family for this photo.

A nephew was there when we arrived, but he had to leave; then another relative, Iman, came, who spoke a little more English. Both parents did speak some English.

Mohammed is a farmer. He has an old car, which at 38 years old is the same age as his wife! He drives 20 km to the farm, where he grows vegetables.

Doah is a housewife. The meal she prepared was delicious, even the eggplant! I have never liked eggplant, so when she told us what each dish was, I didn’t put any of the eggplant in tomato sauce on my plate. Doah seemed to think I didn’t know what it was, so she repeated: “Eggplant!” Of course, then I had to take some to be polite. But when I took a bite of it – I liked it! The sauce it was cooked in definitely helped, but I vowed to try eggplant again to see if I still liked it. (I did try it, and I did like it!)

The family lives in a modest apartment with two bedrooms – the three older kids share one bedroom and Zena sleeps with her parents. (Since there is no crib or extra bed in the parents’ room, I assume she sleeps in the same bed with them.) The kitchen is quite small and very basic. There is no room in the kitchen for the refrigerator, so it is kept in the parents’ bedroom!

Doah in some of the photos dressed more western style, but now she wears colorful long dresses and a hijab. Girls start wearing hijabs at age 12. Doah showed us Rana’s school uniform – a black jumper, mid-calf length, with a white shirt underneath and a white hijab. The boys’ uniform is less austere. Kareem wears a blue shirt and blue jeans! That doesn’t sound fair to our Western sensibilities, but on the other hand, most Egyptian men at adulthood begin wearing the long, traditional robe for men, the dalabeya. Most of the men we saw wore plain ones, usually white, black or gray. Although Doah was wearing a colorful dress and matching yellow hijab, most women we saw on the street were covered head to toe in black, although their faces are generally covered. (Some do veil their face but the majority, at least that I saw, did not.) I noticed that older women, 20181227_204314despecially, dress in black.

We spent about two hours at the family’s home, during which we asked questions about their lives, told them about ours, and looked at their photos.

When it was time to go, the van driver who was to take us back came to the door and we went downstairs. This bird statue was on the first floor of the apartment building.

 

 

Running Through Fountains

The Lens-Artists Photo Challenge is a weekly challenge shared by four photographers who announce a new theme every Saturday. This week’s challenge is cooling.

I did not expect the Mile High City, Denver, Colorado, to be so hot the week following Memorial Day.  Our first real visit to Denver was three days at the beginning of our road trip, which culminated in Route 66 on the way back.  Anyway, the temperature must have been in the upper 80s the day we visited the capitol and 16th Street Mall.  We walked this mall, which is basically a street closed to traffic but which crosses several intersections, which ended near Union Station. We wanted to see that, too, and on our way there found these fountains of water that several children were having fun running through.
SONY DSCWhat a perfect way to cool off on a hot 1st of June! SONY DSCSONY DSCCee’s Black & White Photo Challenge this week has the theme fountains, so this post is for both photo challenges.
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