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.

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

Julia Waeffler & Jayme Villa-Alvarez

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

Eric Nesvold & Jayme Villa-Alvarez

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: Walkways I Have Traveled

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week is about the sidewalks, trails and walkways we walk on, usually without thinking much about them.

Rio de Janeiro is famous for its wide sidewalks with mosaic designs – common places to walk, jog, and meet – and play with dogs. (Nove. 2016)
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In July of 2017, we spent a week at Blacks Cliff Resort on Upper Kaubashine Lake, near Hazelhurst and the location where we used to have a cottage. The cabins we rented were high above the lake. This is the walkway down to the pier.
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An artist drew squiggly lines that made faces on the sidewalk in front of the Convention Center in Denver, interspersed with messages. (June 2018)
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Path through the “farm” (a vegetable and flower garden – the veggies raised provide natural ingredients for meals at the school) at Verde Valley School, Sedona, Arizona (June 2018)
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Garden path at Chicago Botanic Gardens, July 2018
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The State Capitol building in Des Moines, Iowa, has beautiful tiled floors, such as this walkway leading to stairways up and down. (Sept. 2018)
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Winterset, Iowa – most famous for the bridges of Madison County – has a tiny park dedicated to George Washington Carver. We almost missed it because it is wedged between two downtown buildings. (Sept. 2018)
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In downtown Chicago, off Michigan Avenue, is a restaurant called the Purple Pig. This is the entrance to its outdoor patio. (Oct. 2018)
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Walkway among the ruins of Karnak, near Luxor, Egypt (Dec. 2018)
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This walkway under an arch is at the ruins of Caesarea Philippi on the Mediterranean Sea in Israel. (Jan. 2019)
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Sunday Stills: Macro & Mystery

I am participating in a photo challenge entitled Sunday Stills: Macro or Close-up Photography; Is There a Difference? by Terri Webster Schrandt.  Here is what she has to say about macro photography:

“Macro photography is also considered close-up photography. However, using a true macro lens yields the sharpest, tiniest details whereas a closeup may not show each detail.”  I do not have a macro lens, but cropping often produces a similar effect.

This is my favorite “macro” that I have taken. We were on a walk on a bike trail in northern Wisconsin shortly after a rainfall. I spied this leaf and was struck by the perfect drop in the middle of it with a whole microcosm of tiny pebbles & things within it.126One of my photography hobbies is finding mushrooms to shoot. I have a whole file of them! Mushrooms are fascinating because of the variety of shapes and sizes, and the details often found on their textured surfaces.20160506_115441
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I take lots of flower pictures, which I then post linked to Cee’s Flower of the Day. I like this particular shot because of the lined shadows on the flower petals, made by the nearby blades of grass. 20160525_104648
I prefer walking to any other kind of physical activity because I often see details that others miss if they’re in a hurry, on their bikes or in a car. (My husband complains when I stop to take pictures, because he says he’s in it for the cardio workout!)

But I find other opportunities to get macros or close-ups. I could have cropped this photo more to focus on the dragonfly, but I like the way the knots in the wood frame the picture.
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Finally, I have a group of photos I like to call “mystery” photos. Like Terri says, “Sometimes a macro image takes on new characteristics in an abstract way.”  These objects are hard to identify as macros.

Mystery picture: What is this? soap

small soap chips

banana peel

a ripe banana peel

snow boot prints!

Snow from the bottom of my snow boots

Finally, here are my two favorite bird photos from our safari in Tanzania. Both were taken with a Sony Alpha 380 75/300mm lens.

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I love the effect that the grass makes on the dark body of the bird. It almost resembles a painting. Also note that he’s caught a small snake which he holds in his beak.

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I cropped this from the original, which shows more of the blurred tree branches. The focus is on the male weaver, weaving a nest for a prospective mate. Note how tightly woven it is – he’s putting on the final touches before his hoped-for mate comes to inspect it. If she likes the nest, they become a couple!

I also refer you to my archives of February-April 2018 which contain several posts containing my photos in Tanzania.

You can join the challenge and enjoy others’ work by clicking the link above!

 

Serene Blue Sky Days

Who doesn’t love a blue sky accenting colors of the objects below, the sun shining down on us and feeling the warmth? When I think of Serene, I think of nature, and when I think of nature, I usually prefer Blue Sky Days!

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On the Baltic Sea near Helsinki, Finland

 

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Sunset on a clear night over serene waters (near Finland)

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Amazing clouds streak the blue sky on Upper Kaubashine Lake, Hazelhurst, Wisconsin

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Summer day on the lake, Sigtuna, Sweden

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Sunset over Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, as seen from Sugarloaf Mountain

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Sabino Canyon, Tucson, Arizona

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Pink clouds at sunset with rising moon, Upper Kaubashine Lake, Hazelhurst, Wisconsin

Join the fun at WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge and Nancy Merrill’s a Photo a Week Challenge!

WPC: A Good Match

For this week’s Weekly Photo Challenge, these are some good pairings or matches that I have photographed. I have grouped them into different types of matches.

Color matches

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2 Red Chairs and Kayak (Wisconsin, 2014)

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Yellow Full Moon and Windows (Des Plaines, IL 2015)

Couples/love matches

a pair of loons! They have been getting so close to the dock.

2 Loons on Lake (Wisconsin, 2014)

2 Cakes for a 50th Wedding Anniversary (Des Plaines, July 2015)

Bride & groom gaze at each other with love.

Sandy and Steve’s Wedding: Love Forever (Wheaton, IL 2014)

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Cousins All Dressed Up at the Wedding Reception (Wheaton, 2014)

Artistic harmony match

Dwarf Japanese Juniper

Miniature Bonsai Trees (Chicago Botanic Garden, 2015)

Some things just go together matches

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Little Boys and Fireworks (Wisconsin, 2014)

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Katy and Double Fudge Ice Cream (Minocqua, WI 2014)

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Dale Fishing in the Quiet of Sunset (Wisconsin, 2013)

A Word a Week Photo Challenge: Raindrop

A Word in Your Ear has a weekly photo challenge based on a word selected (at random?) from a dictionary. This week the word was “raindrop.”

OK, I know I’ve posted this photo before, but this challenge allows me to focus on the most fascinating aspect of it, which is all the tiny things that are encased in one raindrop on a leaf.  This picture is one of the best I have ever taken. Focusing on a small thing that most people would miss, especially if they’re riding bikes (I took this on a bike trail), shows attention to detail and appreciation of the simplest things in nature.

126I was amazed at all the tiny pebbles within the single raindrop, as well as other things – I’ve never been able to figure out what the rectangular thing (looks like metal) with a string on it is.

The photo above was taken in northern Wisconsin, near my family’s summer home, during a walk on the Bearskin Trail just after a downpour.

I love thunderstorms on the lake because I can feel surrounded by the storm and experience how glorious it is, all the while keeping dry sitting on the porch! The photo below is a closeup of raindrops on Upper Kaubashine Lake. Small raindrops hit the surface of the lake among circular patterns created by larger raindrops.

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Here
is the link to the photo challenge so you can see other interpretations of the raindrop theme!