FPQ: Rediscovering My Joys

Fandango’s Provocative Question this week encourages us to look inward, at ourselves. Fandango writes: I saw this question on a site that offers up a bunch of “deep, philosophical” questions and this one intrigued me. It’s about evolution, but not in the context of Darwin’s evolution of the species. It’s more about evolution of the individual and about who you are and how you change over time. Here’s this week’s question, which is essentially about you. I hope you’ll have fun with it.

Is the concept of “you” continuous or does the past “you” continually fade into the present and future “you”? (Yes, it’s both.)  Considering that your body, your mind, and your memories are changing over time, what part of “you” sticks around? (My essence, my soul, my identity).

Now that I’ve answered both questions in brief, I will expand, as I am wont to do!

I once had a revelation about myself that I told my daughter: You may have changed a great deal since childhood, but whatever you were good at and interested in when you were 10 will come back around when you are an adult. Cee’s On the Hunt for Joy challenge has a theme related to this: rediscovering your childhood joys.

For me, it was art (I drew and doodled incessantly) , languages (I fell in love with Spanish in 5th grade), cultures (I was fascinated by the pictures in my parents’ National Geographic magazines), cats (I have always had one as a pet, except when my son had allergies growing up), and writing (I wrote many stories and even a short novel when I was a kid).

This is one of my more recent drawings – it’s a combination of drawing and watercolor. First, I chose a photograph I had taken. Then I drew it freehand with black pigment liner. Then I used watercolor pencils for the color and background.
Another of my obsessions – cats. This is the best cat drawing I have done, but not the only or most recent one!

Another art form I love is photography, as any reader of my blog knows. I first started taking pictures with a Brownie black & white camera when I was about 10.

I took these photos of my friends with my Brownie camera in 1966!

In high school, I bought an Olympus SLR and got “serious” about photography. It helped that I had a boyfriend who was a photographer, and he taught me how to develop my black and white pictures. Later I installed my own mini darkroom in the second bathroom of an apartment I lived in in college.

In my late teens and early adulthood, for years I tried to become something that I couldn’t become – a musician (I’m not very talented in music, much as I love it), a best-selling author (I don’t have the discipline), a counselor (I have trouble giving advice on the spot) – and then I dreamed of being something that I could become, but didn’t: a linguist, an anthropologist, a translator at the United Nations – and finally became something I’d thought about in childhood but never thought I could become: a teacher. One of my sisters was a great teacher and she was very patient. I have never been patient.

I wasn’t actually a great teacher. I was, in fact, mediocre as a classroom teacher, and kept losing classroom teaching jobs. I was better at being a “pull-out” resource teacher (teaching ESL and bilingual literacy to smaller groups of students who came to me during their classroom’s literacy time). I was better at this because I didn’t have to worry about 10 things at once and didn’t have to keep track of 20+ kids at the same time. I also love languages and was very passionate about language acquisition and a strong advocate for bilingual education. So that job (where I spent more years and was happy) utilized more of my strengths: using Spanish every day, teaching English as a second language, enthusiasm about learning, working with students, doing creative holiday projects and writing projects with them.

I started a paper recycling club at my school one year, and this is me receiving an award worth $200 for the paper recycling we did. The money was used for the school’s club fund. I have always been passionate about environmental issues.

On the other hand, classroom teaching emphasized my weaknesses – midway through my teaching career, I found out I have ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder). This is not a good thing to have if you are a teacher but at least I knew it wasn’t because I was a failure – at discipline, executive functioning, at remembering to send in my attendance every morning, at trying but never succeeding at being organized. This diagnosis helped me become more accepting of who I am and not ashamed of what I am not.

Now I’m happily retired and doing the things I used to spend hours doing when I was a kid: drawing, writing, learning foreign languages, pursuing intellectual interests such as politics, international affairs, and traveling (I didn’t do these last few much as a kid, although I have fond memories of family trips and I never avoided controversial topics with my parents, which didn’t always work out very well). I love other cultures and seeing new things.

Here I am with my cousins in Tanzania in 2018 (that’s me in the light colored shirt) – we are about to learn a traditional dance in a Maasai village.

These interests have always been a part of me, even though I have evolved a great deal in my journey of self-discovery. I’m not so hard on myself as I used to be. Finding out about having ADHD was a revelation about my entire life – why it was hard for me to make new friends, why I daydreamed so much, why I talked out of turn in school, why I was a “slow reader” (I wasn’t slow – I just got distracted so that by the time I had finished a page, I couldn’t remember what I’d read and had to go back and read it again), and why I was constantly losing things.

Besides the self-discovery that comes with maturity, I look back at my life and sometimes feel I really haven’t changed that much. I’m still me. I sometimes think I’m still that girl I was in high school. I still have the same soul, which I will have until my dying day. I carry buried memories and emotions of the last 68 years in my brain, but I can’t remember what I ate for lunch yesterday, because that doesn’t matter. I have a good life – everything I need and much of what I want. I’ve been lucky, I know that and I am grateful.

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!

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.

DSCF3479 (2)

Gay pride at Solstice Parade, Seattle


Colorful scene in Regensburg, Germany


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


Sunset over North Atlantic Ocean


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! 😉



Hunt For Joy Challenge: Gardening

Cee’s challenge On The Hunt for Joy this week has the topic of gardening.

I have reserved a plot in the community garden, but have not started planting. In this area of the U.S., the recommendation is to plant annuals no sooner than Mother’s Day. I plan to plant tomatoes, peppers, and possibly another vegetable. I also want to plant some flowers.

Last fall, at our new house, I planted daffodil bulbs and iris bulbs. I planted daffodils in four different spots. Naturally the ones that bloomed first were on the east side of the house.
Later, the daffodils I planted in a pot on the patio behind the house began to bloom. Actually, although there are two plants, only one of them bloomed and is currently in bloom. The irises are just starting to grow.
Inside our house, I have two plants on the kitchen window sill – orchids and a perennial geranium. The orchids have been blooming for several months.
I admit, I miss my garden at our old house! Here I am last May, working in that garden.

The first flowers that came up every year were snowdrops.
I also had tulips, strawberry plants, blazing stars, scallions, and other flowers, some of which can be seen in the garden picture above. One of them was bleeding hearts.
This post is also for Cee’s FOTD 4/30/20.

On the Hunt for Joy: Shades & Hues

Cee’s On the Hunt for Joy challenge continues with this week’s topic: color code.

She says: This one is all about color and keeping the same color or hues together. Tip from Ingrid Fetell Lee: Color-code: Organizing by color brings instant harmony to your bookshelf or your closet.

The best photos I’ve taken that are a variation of hues come from nature:

Shades of brown in a cavern (Arizona)
Beiges in a desert landscape (Masada, Israel)
Green cacti & succulents (Chicago Botanic Gardens)
Greens in a park (Point Defiance Park, Tacoma, WA)
Pinks in a cluster of roses (Point Defiance Park, Tacoma)
Green landscape on the slope of Ngorongoro Crater (Tanzania)

There are also manmade hues:
Brown stones and jug (Masada, Israel)
Red theater chairs & floor in the same cave as the first photo (Arizona)
Shades of cream and brown almost camouflage this gold and tan angel next to a house in Des Plaines, IL
Gray & Silver: This monochromatic photo was a mistake – an overexposure of sailboats on the Mediterranean Sea (Caesarea Maritima, Israel). It has not been doctored nor altered in any way – both the sky and the sea were actually very blue.


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.
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.)
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!
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!)
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.
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.

Hunt for Joy and Cheer Someone Up!

Here at our senior community, there are lots of opportunities to cheer people up and to be cheered up! The subject of Cee’s Week 6 of her On the Hunt for Joy challenge is Cheer Someone Else Up.

My brother-in-law is in a barbershop group and every Valentine’s Day he spends the day doing “singing Valentines” with his quartet. Here they are entertaining my sister and others at our table last Valentine’s Day. (Unfortunately, I cropped most of the people at the table out of this photo!)
This is something my brother-in-law (the short bald guy on the left) loves to do. Not only they get paid by the people who order the singing Valentine, but he loves seeing the expressions of surprise and joy on the faces of the recipients! (I don’t think he charged for serenading his wife, however!) The quartet also sings at homeless shelters and in parks on Veterans’ and Memorial Day. Their barbershop chorus gives two concerts a year, which are always well-attended!

A German “oompah” band entertained the residents here for Oktoberfest with a lively concert of German and Austrian folk music. Here, the leader of the group demonstrates how he plays the Alpine horn.
Sometimes we have speakers or actors putting on a “one-man-show” like this tall Lincoln impersonator. Here he poses with my friend, Marcia, who thoroughly enjoyed his performance!
There’s nothing like a New Year’s Party with friends and a glass of bubbly to cheer people up as they look to the New Year with hopes it will be a good one! This party was held at 11:45 AM (not PM because many older residents go to bed early!) and everyone was invited. We could also invite guests, so here is Dale sitting with two friends of mine enjoying the party. The one on the end in purple loves coming here to visit because she lives on a fixed income. These events are very special for her in particular! 20191231_121454
Another event in December was an Irish party with a band playing traditional tunes, and hosted by a couple of residents of Irish descent. It was free for all and a lot of fun!


Hunt for Joy Challenge: Up On the Roof

Cee’s weekly challenge On the Hunt for Joy, is in week 5. This week the topic is Count Chimneys, which includes photos of chimneys, weather vanes, spires and satellite dishes. How is this topic about hunting for joy? She explains: Tip from Ingrid Fetell Lee: Count Chimneys: As you’re walking around, keep a tally of chimneys, spires, or weathervanes. Looking up at the rooftops lifts your gaze, which opens up your posture and allows more light into the eyes, two things that can help to improve your mood.

I admit, some of these photos did not involve looking up, but rather looking down, but even so, they are of chimneys, weather vanes, and spires (no satellite dishes!).SONY DSCDSC01863 (2)DSC01697DSC01530 (2)DSC00351DSC00356 (2)DSC0039920190618_124715j