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

L-APC Checks and Stripes

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge this week has the topic Checks or Stripes.

Mosques have striped carpets where the worshippers line up to pray. (Cairo, Egypt)
Blinds in a friend’s apartment (Des Plaines, IL)
Stripes on steps (Des Plaines)
Fences are striped. (Chicago Krisha Society)
A fence with both stripes and checks – at The Church of All Nations in Jerusalem
Bottle Tree Ranch near Victorville, California (one of the sites on Route 66)
Seats in ancient amphitheatre in Caesrea Maritima, Israel
Woven striped design on my bottle holder that I bought in Peru
Beautiful inlaid (some of them checked) designs on small tables & other items in Aswan, Egypt
Stripes and Checks in a coloring book (photo modified)

On the Hunt for Joy: Pastimes

Cee’s On the Hunt for Joy photo challenge this week has the topic mix play with every day.

Since I am retired, most things I spend time doing are things I like to do. I blog a lot about photography and travel, but not so much on my private pastimes. 

A few years ago, the coloring book craze for adults was big. At the time, I acquired several coloring books, but put them aside for a few years. Now I am doing them again, mainly while “watching” the news – instead of looking at a talking head, I have fun with gel pens, markers and colored pencils! It softens the news for me: things will be okay if I can sit here and color. I prefer designs and patterns rather than actual scenes. 

Shields 6-3-20 (gel pens & markers)
Flower Promenade 1-21-20 (markers)
Triangulation 4-28-20 (gel pens)

I also like to play word games on my cellphone (classic time waster!) I regularly do Wordscapes, Word Stacks and Words With Friends.  I was playing so many Words With Friends games that I decided to limit who I play with to people I actually know. 

Words With Friends – this one is my favorite because I play with other people.
Wordscapes

The Hunt for Joy: Making a Rainbow

Cee’s On the Hunt for Joy is in its 18th week and the theme for this week is Make Your Own Rainbow.

I love to draw and occasionally paint. I also enjoy coloring books. Here are two coloring pages I did. The first is called “Rainbow Wheel Mandala,” done with markers. The second is “Rainbow Tessellation,” done with gel pens.

Some of my other artwork: The first is called “Arizona Desert,” which I painted with acrylics; the second is untitled, drawn with charcoal pencils.

As bloggers who follow me know, I do a lot of photography also. These photos I took in various places at various times.

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Gay pride at Solstice Parade, Seattle

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Colorful scene in Regensburg, Germany

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This colorful Tanzanian bird is called lilac-breasted roller, and it really does seem to have every color of the rainbow!

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Sunset over North Atlantic Ocean

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A real rainbow, South Dakota. We should have stopped and hiked over that field to the end of the rainbow to see if there was a pot of gold! 😉

 

 

SYW: Stress Relievers, Strange Creatures, Creepy Russians, & Appreciating Life

It’s Monday and Melanie is ready with a new set of Share Your World questions.

QUESTIONS:
What do you do to get rid of stress?
Different things – coloring, drawing, reading, taking a walk – sometimes it just takes fresh air! Writing – either a journal, my blog, or whatever I can think of. It has to be something I am fairly good at, otherwise it would cause me MORE stress!

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Mandalas are one of my favorite things to color.

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I took this photo on one of my walks in my old neighborhood.

In the past people were buried with the items they would need in the afterlife, what would you want buried with you so you could use it in the afterlife?
art supplies, a notebook or journal, camera

What’s the opposite of a koala? (this is strictly for fun. I know what I came up with as an answer, but it was nonsensical. Alaok. See? It’s okay to pass on this one too if you want). An alaok is a meat-eating land dweller, fairly large, and it can be aggressive. Also, it isn’t at all cute!

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Maybe an alaok looks something like this! (early artwork by my son)

What’s the creepiest tech out there? (My interpretation of “tech” is app or program. If you know what “tech” is supposed to mean, hey! Great! Educate us. The Internet Resource Agency (IRA) – this is where young,  hip, techie Russians go to work. Their job is to learn all about the culture of another country (such as the United States), find out what the people of that culture value and what their weaknesses and conflicts are. With this information, they infiltrate social media in order to spread fake news, get people riled up, such as using white supremacist memes, and promote conflicts within that society. Some of them specialize in hacking. The IRA is what messed with our heads and our social media during the 2016 campaign season, disseminating lies, preying on people’s fears. It is especially creepy, because it was very effective and they are still doing it.

GRATITUDE IS AN ATTITUDE
What method are you using to find your smile right now? Please explain in detail so others might utilize the same ideas. Some bloggers have shared a daily (weekly sometimes) method that they are using to keep their spirits up right now. I’d love to hear from anyone who does and is successful at it! Have a great week and stay safe!
1. Noticing the miracles of nature – flowers opening, birds singing and making their nests, trees flowering or budding leaves. Looking at the sky to see the clouds – whatever that looks like, it will never be exactly the same again. Maintaining a garden and appreciating the fruits of my labor. 20190515_152403dDelighting in a sunset (or sunrise, for those who rise early). And for me, watching our community’s swans. Right now the female is in the process of laying her eggs – last I heard, she had five but there must be more by now. Her mate fluffs up his wings to make him look bigger and more threatening – he swims around the pond, scaring away geese and approaching the shore where he sees a human.

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Our female swan after laying her second egg.

2. Connecting with friends and family – Zoom and social media are at the center of our lives now. Last week, our family had a virtual birthday get-together for my nephew. Today I spent two hours with a group of friends – virtually, of course.  Also seeing friends during walks – we can talk if we stay 6 feet apart!
3. Engaging in my stress relievers (see my answer to the first question.)

I heard an interesting quote today: Think of this day as your first day and your last day on Earth. 

On the Hunt for Joy: Collections

I’ve missed a few of these lately, but I’m back in the game now. In Cee’s On the Hunt for Joy challenge, the subject this week is collections.

I have a lot of collections, most on display. Unfortunately, I don’t want to part with any of this stuff so I’ve had to figure out how to fit them in around our much smaller house!

I have a huge collection of refrigerator magnets from around the world. Why? Because they’re cheap, don’t take up much luggage space, and they make good souvenirs. I keep most of them! These are on the side of one filing cabinet but I have many more (that are holding papers on the actual refrigerator!) not shown here.20200312_231139
I keep my cat collection on two shelves – most of them are here. I acquired some of them abroad and others from my mother. On the far left is a bead and wire lion that I bought in a village in Tanzania. In front is my alebrije cat from Mexico (more on them below). Next to that, the tall one you can’t see very well is an Egyptian cat. In the back on the left is a ceramic Manx cat my mother bought me, and the blue & white one on the right was hers.
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I put my cheetahs on a top shelf, peeking out at our living room. (The small one my son made in school, so I display it as the mother’s cub.)
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I actually have more cats scattered around – one made of cement in front of the fireplace and another made of papier-machê, as well as framed artwork.

As you can tell already, I like ethnic stuff – things I buy in other countries or other cultures. My newest collection is Navajo kachinas, hand made and in different sizes. Each represents a character in Navajo mythology. They are quite expensive, and I treasure them because for many years, I wanted to collect kachinas but couldn’t afford them!
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Alebrijes are brightly painted carved wooden figures from Oaxaca, Mexico. You can find these even in some international stores here, but all these I purchased in a village in Oaxaca that specializes in these little figurines made from a soft wood called copal. The large one, an otter, was specially made for me and brought to my hotel when it was finished. The cat’s and armadillo’s tails come out – they’re separate pieces, and so are the quills of the porcupine. (My real cat was curious about what I was doing!)
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I happened to get a collection of birds, quite unintentionally, but they are all quite nice. The loons and the largest bird were my mother’s. She loved birds. The others are from Mexico. The two black birds on the front left are actually whistles! They were also made in Oaxaca, Mexico, out of black pottery, another craft Oaxaca is famous for.
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Books! So many books, so little time… I managed to narrow my books down to mostly two bookshelves – I had four full shelves of books in our old house!

I have several coloring books and often work on them while “watching” the news. Most of the ones I’ve done lately are mandalas and flowers.20200312_234657
Finally, these are some of my drawings and paintings. I’m not sure I’d call them a “collection” but I suppose they are. I hope to frame some of them to hang on the walls.

CFFC: Shirts of Opposing Colors

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge ends her color theme this week. The topic is opposing (or complementary) colors. The three primary colors are: yellow, blue and red. The secondary colors are: green, purple and orange. To make green, you combine blue and yellow. To make purple, you combine blue and red. And to make orange, you combine red and yellow. So complementary colors are when you match a SECONDARY color with the PRIMARY color that is NOT part of the combination. So for example, red’s complementary color is green because green is made by combining blue and yellow (NOT red). 

Here are the combinations:
Blue & orange
Red & green
Yellow & purple

Artists have long made use of complementary colors to make their subjects “pop,” painting these colors next to each other. The contrast serves to emphasize objects in the painting. I love to use these combinations also, when I do coloring pages. Here’s an example – every shape or combination of shapes in this geometric pattern is made up of complementary colors of different hues. It is one of my earlier experiments with gel pens.
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Purple and yellow shirts
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Bears shirt
20200103_192657.jpgEver wonder why Christmas colors are green and red? – Complementary colors!
My nephew in his new shirt – a present for Christmas
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Risk: My doodles and other “time wasters”

Michelle W. challenges us to take a risk. So here goes.

I have always loved to draw and got pretty good at it. These days, I have so many other things on my plate that I don’t have time for serious drawing. I doodle – I can’t help it. Some of these doodles come out OK. I also like to color, now that coloring books are all the rage. Here are some of my artistic endeavors.

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Doodle on the back of an envelope – I drew this while waiting on the phone to talk to someone (multiple times!) at the Healthcare marketplace.

 

Doodle of a half-slurped smoothie
Doodle of a half-slurped smoothie

Doodle-woman in hat
Doodle-woman in hat (inspired by the hat I wore on the 4th of July 2015)

Fish doodle and The Thin House (both 2015)

Coloring pages:

Medium: "True to Life" crayons with tri-color tips.  Done 11/22/15.
Medium: “True to Life” crayons with tri-color tips. Done 11/22/15. (From coloring Book “Floral Designs”)

Medium: markers. Completed: 11/22/15
Medium: markers. Completed: 11/22/15 (From coloring book “Floral Designs”)

Only 5 colors were used in this coloring page; medium: colored pencils
Only 5 colors were used in this coloring page; medium: colored pencils, finished April 2016 (From “Floral Designs”)

Claire and Jamie from Outlander; medium: crayons
Claire and Jamie from Outlander (“Outlander” coloring book); medium: crayons (finished April 2016)

Although I have “time wasters” in the title of this post, most of these were done while doing or waiting for something else. I can color while talking to people and find it’s helpful when I’m nervous and don’t want to say something I would regret later. Coloring is relaxing and I love experimenting with colors.