L-APC: Spots and Dots

Spots and Dots is the creative topic for Leya’s Lens-Artists Photo Challenge.

flowers (2 orchids at Chicago Botanic Gardens, sunflower at Cantigny Park-Robert McCormick estate, Wheaton, Illinois)

animals (Tanzania)

art: sculpture (dalmations in Sao Paulo, Brazil; abstract sculpture in St. Charles, Illinois; giant pumpkin somewhere in Japan – this photo was a screenshot; Chinese lion at Cantigny Park, Wheaton, Illinois)

museum art (tapestry, light display)

Leda Catunda, Onca pintada No. 1, 1984, (at museum in Sao Paulo, Brazil)
Exhibit at Museu do Futuro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

public art

Lightscape light show installations for the holiday season, (Chicago Botanic Gardens, Dec. 2019 and Dec. 2020)

Life in Purple

For Jude’s Travel Words, Life in Colour, this month’s word is the color purple.

Purple hyacinths

A more vibrant shade of purple are these rhododendrons.

Purple displays at Lightscape, a holiday event at Chicago Botanic Gardens

Marine life (corals) at Brookfield Zoo

Faux flowers

Purple in sunrises and sunsets (sunrise in Tanzania, sunsets on Chicago expressway and the Caribbean Sea)

Purple signs (Quebec City & Rio de Janeiro)

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SYW: Lawlessness, Adulthood, Conspiracies & Beautiful Places

Melanie has some new thoughtful questions this week for Share Your World.

QUESTIONS:

If the government offered to suspend all laws, and law enforcement for 24 hours, letting you (and everybody else) do whatever you wish… Would you be in favor of it, or not?

Absolutely not! There are already enough gun-toting, crazy fanatics out there (and a few in Congress!) ready to make trouble without giving them one more incentive!

What would be the creepiest thing you could say while passing a stranger on the street? (We’re suspending the whole social distancing and Covid involvement in this scenario)

I’m not a creepy person so the only way to scare someone (if that were the objective) would be to act like a lunatic. I’ve had creepy things said to me, but I can’t imagine myself saying those things to others.

As a child, what did you think would be great about being an adult, but isn’t as great as you thought it would be?

Getting married and having kids. Don’t get me wrong – I have enjoyed both, but there have been plenty of hardships and bad moments. I wanted to have two children and teach them to be good human beings, and feeling proud when they graduated from college and started their careers. I thought I would never get divorced because I would find the right person, my “soul mate.” I also imagined myself having a perfect career. In the end, I got divorced from my first husband and married again when it was no longer feasible to have more children. I had only one child (although I gained a stepdaughter, but I didn’t raise her) and he has suffered many problems due to mental illness. He has had plenty of dead-end jobs but to this date has never fulfilled his career ambitions. I didn’t either, really. I wanted to be a writer or an international journalist. The closest I have come is blogging about places I have been internationally! (And the pay isn’t very good! 😉 )

What, in your opinion, has been blown way out of proportion?

Conspiracy theories. Not the fact that they are reported on, but the fact that so many people actually believe in them. If you really stop and think about some of these wacko scenarios, do you think they sounds realistic? Hillary Clinton running an underage sex trafficking business out of a pizza parlor? It just doesn’t sound plausible at all. Or the idea that the entire Democratic Party is part of a “deep state” plot to turn the United States into a communist country and control the people. Really?? Think about the vast number of people that it would take to pull this off without being caught. Or to promote the lie that the coronavirus is a hoax and mass shootings didn’t happen. Not only is this hurtful to those who have lost loved ones to Covid-19 and mass shootings, but imagine what it would take to actually pull these fake scenarios off, and never having anyone involved in them defect to the other side. Hundreds of scientists would have to have been coerced into promoting the idea that a fast-spreading virus is a hoax and that they (the Democrats, of course) would have to mount some incredible scenes of people in hospitals being tended by harried medical workers and stories they would have to tell about their feelings when they lost patients. Climate change is a hoax? So people are going to believe one or two fringe scientists instead of an entire body of thousands of scientists who can prove climate change is happening? Then one “outsider” (Trump) comes along to “take back” our country from these horrible Democrats who have no compassion at all, just ambition. It just doesn’t make sense.

Of course, there is never any proof for conspiracy theories but much damage has been done because an alarming number of people believe in them and a few feel it is their job to do something about it.

Gratitude Section (Optional as always)

Where is your ‘happy’ place?  

Sightseeing in a place that inspires awe. In other words, traveling to foreign lands or being privileged to see places that make me grateful to be alive.

On the Hunt for Joy Challenge: Jump for Joy

Cee’s new photo challenge that she puts out every Wednesday is On the Hunt for Joy. This week the topic is Jump for Joy. Cee says that for this topic,
Here are a few ideas to get you going.
Anyone jumping, hopping or skipping
trampoline
exercising for fun
animals who jump or hop
throwing things
Tip from Ingrid Fetell Lee: Jump for Joy: The photographer Philippe Halsman took photos of everyone who was anyone in his day, from Marilyn Monroe to Audrey Hepburn to Richard Nixon, and he always made them jump. He believed that jumping helped people drop their masks and release the joyful self inside. To get the same effect, jump on the bed, bounce on a trampoline, or do jumping jacks.

Exercising for fun:
German teenaged girls doing a dance routine in Würzburg
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Video: Samba on Avenida Paulista in São Paulo, Brazil:

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Beach volleyball on Copacabana Beach, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Little jumping guy – Av. Paulista, São Paulo:

Animals that jump:
Cats jump
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Hazel playing & pouncing

Impalas jump
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One Word Sunday: Feet in Nature and Art

Debbie at Travel With Intent has a weekly photo challenge called One Word Sunday. This week the theme is feet.
Kitty feet!
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Egyptian geese feet
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Camel feet
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My feet – on a beach in Rio de Janeiro
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I’m sad to say…here’s what one of my feet looks like now! 😮
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I’ve actually done several drawings of feet – this is one of them.

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“Ballet Feet” (circa 1970) – pencil on drawing paper

 

 

 

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Nostalgic

The subject of Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #75 is nostalgic. I feel nostalgic for places that I used to go to, such as our family’s cottage in northern Wisconsin. We sold the cottage in 2015, which had been in my family for 50 years, because it was no longer possible or feasible to manage the place from far away. But for many years, that beautiful place was a relaxing – and inexpensive – vacation.

Dale used to love to fish there, off the pier and in the rowboat. He would stay out there for hours. This photo is from July 2013.
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Our lake had a couple of pairs of loons which nested somewhere across the lake. Their calls echoed over the lake as they communicated with each other and even with loons on nearby lakes. I got to know what each of their distinct calls meant – danger/fear, looking for company, and just “I am here.” It was a treat to see them get relatively close to the shore, so that I could take a photo like this one in July 2014.
a pair of loons! They have been getting so close to the dock.
At the cottage, I always felt close to nature and sometimes I would sit on the screened porch during a thunderstorm, watch the black clouds covering the sky, listen to the falling rain, feel the cool, moist air and smell the earthy freshness that rain brings.
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Another place that I have visited several times is Rio de Janeiro – I always spend at least a few days there every time I go to Brazil. Most of the times I’ve been there, I’ve stayed with in-laws or friends in Leme, at the far end of Copacabana. Just looking at this photo makes me feel nostalgic.
20161123_190534And when I am there, I always insist on taking the cable car up to the top of Sugarloaf in late afternoon, and watch the sun set. And as I look over that beautiful scene – the colors of the sunset and the lights coming on in all the neighborhoods I can see from there – I always get tears in my eyes and promise: I will be back. And so far, I’ve kept that promise, but of course I never know when it will be my last time there. I took both the photo above, of Copacabana Beach looking toward Leme at the far end from the bar at the top of a hotel, and the photo below, at sunset on Sugarloaf, in November 2016, during my last trip there.
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These places I love, and the people, scenery, smells and sounds associated with them, give me what Brazilians call saudade, which is roughly translated to nostalgia, but it is more than that: it is sweet sorrow, it is happiness and sadness, love and longing, all at the same time. You can have saudades even when you are with the people and in the places which invoke it. Because you know that life is fleeting, that the moment you are experiencing is just that – a moment. Saudade reminds you not to take life for granted.

 

Since the end of 2013, Dale and I have had Hazel, our cat, as part of our family. But for 20 years before that, I did not have a cat, primarily because my son had asthma and was allergic to cats, which was sad for me because I love cats. Amazingly, he outgrew both his allergies and his asthma, and anyway, he no longer lives with us, so we were able to welcome a shelter cat into our home at Christmas time that year. Prior to 1993, I had pet cats for much of my life, and I remember them with nostalgic fondness.

From left to right are Kirry (a male Manx, my family’s pet cat during most of my childhood), Joia (1976-1992, a female half-Manx;  I was with my first husband then and she traveled from Los Angeles to Wisconsin to Brazil and back), and Blackfoot (female tabby, 1993 – I had this cat only briefly before having to give her up because my son developed asthma).


I have developed nostalgia (or more accurately, saudade) for all the places I’ve been and the happy times I have spent in them. That is one reason I love photography – the photos I take tell the story of my experiences and invoke memories I would otherwise have forgotten.

Beautiful Sunsets

Dutch Goes the Photo has a Tuesday photo challenge and the topic is sunsets.

Beautiful sunsets are everywhere, but the most beautiful I have seen are when I am traveling – which I guess is logical, because although I do have photos of pretty clouds and sunsets at home, my view is usually obstructed by buildings, trees, and other suburban fixtures. Being in wide open spaces is where I have watched the sun set in awe.

I can never forget the sunsets I’ve seen from Sugarloaf Mountain in Rio de Janeiro – every time I go to Rio, it is a must to go up in the cable car in late afternoon and watch the sunset from up there. On my most recent trip, in Nov. 2016, here was the view as the sun set around 7:00 pm. I am only including one, although I took several beautiful sunset photos that afternoon.
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OK, just one more!
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Another wide open space where I have witnessed many awesome sunsets is at sea, while on cruises. In Oct. 2017, we were on a cruise from Boston to Montreal, so this sunset was over the North Atlantic, off the coast of eastern Canada. I like the different patterns of the clouds in this photo.
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Often when people think of sunsets, they think of Africa, which is famous for amazing sunsets on the open savanna. When we went on safari in Tanzania, I saw this for myself.
This one was taken at Tarangire National Park.
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Here’s another one I took at the southern Serengeti:
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The sunrises in Tanzania were amazing too (we saw many, as we were up very early each day to go on game drives), but this is a post about sunsets!

In France, we drove to Mont-St.-Michel and got there in the late afternoon, so we admired the sunsets and saved our visit to the island for the next day.  I like this photo because of the fence, but the sun set to the west, not over the island of Mont-St.-Michel, which is reached via a long causeway when the tide is low.
20190618_214400Finally, sunset over Jerusalem – we arrived late on a January afternoon, and enjoyed the view of the old city from Mt. Scopus. (This is not the best photo of the city, but it is a pretty sunset.)
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Finally, closer to home, sunset reflected on the Mississippi River north of St. Louis, MO
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A Photo a Week: The Beauty of…

Nancy Merrill’s A Photo a Week challenge this week is Beauty.  This is a difficult one to choose only a few photos, for the Earth is full of beauty, natural and manmade! So I am going to choose some of my favorite “beauties” from my photo collection.

Beauty of a sunset: Rio de Janeiro, from the top of Sugarloaf. Every time I go to Rio, I make time to go to the Sugarloaf late in the afternoon, taking the cable car up to the top. I like to watch the sunset from there, and little by little, the beaches grow dark and lights begin to wink on. And up there, I see this view.
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Beauty of Sedona, Arizona: Everyone nowadays knows about Sedona, right? It’s been “discovered.” But back when I was a teenager, I went to a private high school there with the majestic Cathedral Rock as a backdrop. Few people even knew Sedona existed then. I still think Cathedral, viewed from the campus of Verde Valley School, is the most beautiful sight in Sedona. I took this shot late in the afternoon last June.
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The beauty of a national park. That’s a hard one! I love national parks and find great beauty in all of them. I should post a picture of the Grand Canyon or Yosemite here, but they are iconic. Instead I chose a scene at Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah, which we visited last June. I had always wanted to see it, but never had a chance until last year.
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I have to include one more, which was taken in 2016 at Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska.
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All these beauties are majestic scenery. I appreciate beauty on a macro level also: an animal, a flower, etc. This is a beauty of a flower – the lotus – which is sacred to many cultures. I took this shot last July when the lotus was in full bloom.
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The beauty of a cat (my Hazel, of course!)
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The beauty of a tree in autumn
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I thought of including manmade beauties, but that would take too long – I find beauty in almost everything! Besides, the greatest beauty in the world is the beauty of nature.

Cee’s SYW: On Classes, Cooking, Phobias (etc.)

Cee’s challenges are back! Here are my answers for this week’s questions in Share Your World:

A class you wish you would have taken?
There are actually several! I wish I had transferred to a university where I could major in anthropology, which was my first academic love.

I always wanted to take art classes, but they were always full, since art majors had priority. I enjoy art and did take a drawing class at a community college, where I learned techniques that allowed me to produce some fairly good drawings of my classmates, good enough that I still have them! Recently, I went to a wine and painting event, and everyone liked my painting of a cat, so now I’m working on another painting.

Since I included the cat painting in a post the other day (RDP#72 – Cat), I’m posting one of the drawings I did of a classmate many, many, many years ago, and a more recent doodle of myself in a hat when I had longer hair.
classmate (charcoal pencil)  Doodle-woman in hat

I also wish I’d taken photography classes. Everything I know I learned from a photographer boyfriend I had in high school, and of course, from experience. My husband is an amateur photographer too and I admire some of his great photos. He has good powers of observation and knows where to stand to capture his subject at the best advantage. I would like a class just in learning how to use all the features of my camera.

Here’s a photo of a shooting star flower that I took in May with my Sony Alpha 380, working on sharp close ups with blurred background.SONY DSC

The great thing about this is, now that I’m retired, I can easily take classes in art and photography, which are available to seniors at a discounted rate! I’m trying to find a photography class that my husband and I can attend together.

Are you scared of heights?
Not really, unless I think about it. Although going up some of those mountain roads in Colorado this spring was pretty harrowing!

My husband, though, is very scared of heights. He doesn’t even like to drive over high bridges! The first time we went to Rio de Janeiro, he would not go all the way up to Sugar Loaf with our son and I. He stayed on the lower level and contented himself with taking photos from that vantage point. However, we went back to Rio in 2016, and this time he went all the way up to the top! He stood in the middle of the cable car, surrounded by people, so he couldn’t see out. Once he was up there, he was OK and loved watching and photographing the setting sun.

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One of Dale’s photos of the sun setting over Rio de Janeiro from Sugarloaf

Are you a good cook? If so, do you consider yourself a chef?
Occasionally I will whip something up that’s different from normal, with more color and flavor than usual. Or I’ll make Christmas cookies when I’m in the mood. My husband does most of the cooking, and his meals are very simple. I like to rib him about the lack of color on our plates when we have chicken or fish with corn! Both of us are sort of lazy at this point about cooking, so we often eat out. Now we’re thinking of moving to a retirement community in a couple of years, where we can eat in a community dining room!

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I made these Christmas cookies in 2014, the last time I made homemade cookies!

What did you appreciate or what made you smile this past week? Feel free to use a quote, a photo, a story, or even a combination.
I had to buy some birthday cards, because several family members had birthdays and we were celebrating them all together. I usually have some funny cards on hand for these occasions, but I was out. So I stood in the birthday card section at the supermarket and read all the humorous cards. Several of them made me laugh out loud! Fortunately, there were few people at the store at that time so I was free to appreciate the silliness without anyone staring at me!

funny birthday cards
This photo was downloaded from Google Images.

Music All Over the World

Nancy Merrill’s A Photo A Week Challenge this week is to show “live music.” Music is a very important part of my life. I love all types of music and am especially fascinated by “world” music – music from different countries and cultures.

Our favorite orchestra in the Chicago area is Chicago Sinfonietta. Every concert they play is unique and inclusive. They specialize in diversity, in honor of the founder of the orchestra, Paul Freedman, an African-American conductor and classical musician. They focus on a theme for each concert which includes performers from different genres and cultural groups. In this photo of their May 2018 concert, they invited a well-known professional gospel choir to perform with them.20180512_195835
Last November, they had a Day of the Dead themed concert, which included such works as Mozart’s Requiem, including a choir from Roosevelt University that wore skeleton costumes and masks during the performance. During the intermission, there were cultural dances and music from Mexico.
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Music evokes such emotion and nostalgia in me. When we took a cruise to the Panama Canal in March-April 2017, we stopped at a small port in Chiapas, Mexico, where some of us took an excursion to Tuxtla Chico (I have blogged about this), a charming small town where music and dances were performed for us. Within a short time, I didn’t want to leave – all my emotions associated with past trips to Mexico were brought to the surface by the cultural atmosphere and the typical music. Here some women dressed in beautiful flowered dresses danced to music played by a marimba band.
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Back on the cruise ship, some Mexican performers came aboard for a couple of days and performed for us by the Lido pool. This included a male singer and a couple of dancers, who performed dances from different regions of Mexico.

 

Steel pan music was also a feature of that cruise when we passed through the Caribbean, and Chicago Sinfonietta later that year featured steel pan music in one of their concerts. Here my husband Dale samples playing a steel pan, supervised by a professional steel pan player, leader of a steel pan band from Northern Illinois University, before the concert. NIU is possibly the only university in the country where music majors can specialize in steel pan music.20170916_185949.jpgI could continue with more examples of the music in my life, but this would become a very long post! So I’ll end with some “batucada” (percussion) from Flamengo Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (recorded in November 2016).