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

Upstairs Downstairs

Years ago, there was a popular Masterpiece Theatre series called Upstairs, Downstairs, examining the lives of the British upper class (who lived upstairs) and their servants (who lived downstairs). The popularity of that series inspired more recent series on this subject, including Downton Abbey.

From the Vault: 'Upstairs Downstairs' Was The Original 'Downton Abbey' |  Tellyspotting
Principal cast of the 1971 British series Upstairs, Downstairs

Those of us who had young children in the 1970s or later cannot have been completely ignorant of the popular children’s series Sesame Street. There was a silly series called “Monsterpiece Theatre” with a sketch entitled “Upstairs, Downstairs.” It showed the Muppet Grover climbing a staircase while a deep voice intoned, “Upstairs…” and as he went back down again said, “…Downstairs.” I think Sesame Street was made to appeal to parents as well as their children. Many of its sketches and songs have stuck in my mind to this day – and now my son is 35!

A similar sketch, in which Grover and Kermit discuss opposites up and down.

So even now, when I think about staircases, I can hear that voice in my mind, proclaiming in a serious, deep voice, “Upstairs…downstairs.”

So for Becky’s January Square photo challenge with the topic UP, here are some squares of stairs (hey, that rhymes!) going up.

Hunt for Joy Challenge: Say Cheese

Cee Neuner has a new weekly challenge entitled On The Hunt For Joy. This is the second week and the theme is Say Cheese. She says,

“find some photos of you smiling and feeling joyful, or find some photos that brings a smile to your face or brings you joy.  Tip from Ingrid Fetell Lee [who is the inspiration for this challenge]: ‘Studies show that our expressions can influence our emotions. So when you’re feeling down, try faking it ‘till you feel it by smiling, doing laughter yoga exercises, or looking at a photo of yourself taken at a particularly joyful time.'”

I selected photos that represent happy times in my life. The first is me having a fun moment with my son when he was a little boy, circa winter 1988.Jayme & Katharine Villa-Alvarez
A wedding photo taken when I married the man I love, Dale, in November 1995.
Katy & Dale wedding picture - 11-19-95
Playing around with the photo software on my computer in my classroom at Anne Sullivan School. This was one of the happiest years during my teaching career, 2009-2010.
Me from PhotoBooth
Here are some happy times traveling.

DSC_0967-Laclede, StLouis
Me with fish band sculpture, Laclede, St. Louis, MO (2016) – I include this because of the interesting & humorous sculpture.

20151223_163909
You may recognize this as my profile picture on WP. I’m smiling because we were in Monterey, CA (2015), one of my favorite areas in the U.S.

20170325_210037
Relaxing on deck with a margarita during our cruise to the Panama Canal (2017).

1-29 enjoying a snack at Rijksmuseum
Relaxing with hot drinks and pastries after a few hours looking at art, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam (2018).

Finally, one of my “shared” birthday celebrations – my brother-in-law and I have birthdays nine days apart, and he is 10 years older than I am.  (They spelled my name wrong at the bakery – it’s Katy, not Caty! 😦 )
Elmer & me - joint birthday celebration

 

CFFC: White Is…

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge continues with her color series and this week is WHITE.

Snow white
20190219_120014
Flowery white
20190301_141333DSC00419
Bridal white (two weddings)
20190126_11295420190126_13031620190914_102317 (2)20190914_122656
Swan white
20190629_14033320190629_140130
Architectural white (two styles in Amsterdam)
DSC00641DSC00677
Somber white (American Cemetery, Omaha Beach, Normandy, France)
DSC00451Leisure white
DSC00634
Lawn ornament white
20190311_172820.jpg
Prickly white
20190301_142523 (2)
Styrofoam white
20191103_115120.jpg

CFFC: Blue

The theme of Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this month is colors; this week is Blue.

DSC01938.JPG
Ruin of a castle, Wachau Valley, on the Danube in Austria

20190624_100519.jpg
Amsterdam, de Pijp neighborhood

20190624_194001
Across the street from our Airbnb, Amsterdam

DSC02301.JPG
Bench, Poulsbo, WA

20190914_102207
Our niece’s wedding – blue flowers on her dress, blue walls of the church, bridesmaid’s dark blue dress

20190915_140456.jpg
Chihuly glass sculpture, Museum of Glass, Tacoma, WA

Three fire hydrants painted blue, Arlington Heights, IL

20191029_123904.jpg
Sea life exhibit, Brookfield Zoo, IL

Life Lines

For Becky’s October Square (lines & squares) and Nancy Merrill’s A Photo A Week Challenge: hands, I decided to take a look at the lines on my palm.
20191006_224133.jpg
Analyzing these lines is called “palmistry” and while I consider this to be superstition, much like astrology, it still somehow interests me. I guess it has to do with the human desire to predict the future, which cannot be done with any certainty, so we resort to such things as palmistry and astrology to tell us what will happen in our future or something about our personality.

I was most interested in my “life” line and my “fate” line. The life line is the one that is closest to the thumb and curves downward. Here’s what one web site had to say about it:
Is strong and deep: You have a lust for life and you strive to reach your full potential.
Is shallow and faint: You tend to be less ambitious.
Is curved: You are strong.
Is straight: You are cautious when you enter a new relationship.
Is broken: You have experienced a sudden change in lifestyle.
Has circles: You have been hospitalized or injured.
Isn’t alone and you have multiple life lines: You are a very lively person.
My life line is definitely curved, so I am strong. It is pretty strong and deep, so I have a lust for life and strive to reach my full potential.  Physically, I’m not very strong. But I have endured a lot in life (even though I’ve been pretty lucky, too), so I guess by that standard, I am strong. I do have a lust for life and I sometimes strive to reach my full potential, but on the other hand (no pun intended), I have ADHD so I get distracted and never seem to finish what I start.

I won’t bore you with what my “fate” line or other lines say. You can analyze your own, if you wish, by looking up “palmistry” or simply “lines on palms.” The web site I looked at was the kind of thing people share on Facebook.

But these are photo challenges, so getting back to images… One of the things I love to do with my dominant hand is to draw. Here are two sketches of hands that I drew several years ago:

I don’t have photos that are particularly focused on hands, but I do have several of people holding children and one can get a good look at the holders’ hands.

Finally, here is a newlywed couple whose hands combine to cut their wedding cake.
20170520_191800

One final opinion: I like astrology better than palmistry!

CB&WPC: Taking Sides

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge this week is sides of things.

Whose side are you on?

I’m not sure I’d want to be on THIS guy’s side – especially its bad side!

DSC00541 (3).JPG
Sculpture at Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Climbing up the side of this pyramid might be tricky, not to mention slippery!

20190614_105537 (2)
Glass pyramid at the Louvre, Paris

I’d rather be on this animal’s side than in front – whoa, watch out!

20190614_150038 (2)
Rhino sculpture, Musee d’Orsay, Paris

I’m on your side, lions! (My, what big teeth you have!)

20190724_163436 (2)
Lions in front of a house, Des Plaines, IL

I’m definitely on the side of these newlyweds on their wedding day!

20190914_103448 (2)
Our niece’s wedding, Port Gamble, WA

Being on the side of a dahlia lets me see the unfolding of this lovely, delicate flower.

20190914_135756 (2).jpg
Dahlia, Port Gamble, WA

This side view is one of my best and most favorite photos.

IMAG2938_1 (2)
My cat Hazel, at home in Des Plaines, IL

Birds’ eyes are on the sides of their heads – and this one is giving me quite a stare!

100_0779 (2).JPG
Gull, Sweden

Give me the evil eye, but don’t worry – I’m not going to steal your worm!

SONY DSC
I forgot the name of this bird! Tanzania

I hope you enjoyed my journey of taking sides. And remember, I’m always on your side (hopefully with camera in hand)!

 

 

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

20190126_172038
Jayme now, taken at his stepsister’s wedding in January 2019.

 

 

 

CFFC: Smiles

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week is smiles.

20190601_115036
Silly smile – cancer survivor Dale at Relay for Life

20190601_135029 (2)
I’m-gonna-eat-you smile – lizard at Relay for Life reptile group

20190126_172627
Happy friends smile – happy bride Tam (our daughter) & friend

20190111_144510
Squinty selfie smile – me on the Mediterranean coast at Caesarea, Israel

20180914_153612
Toothy buddha smile – Buddhist Cultural Center, Des Plaines, IL

 

SYW: On finding one’s soulmate, my mother’s hats, schaum tortes, and 2-for-1 sales

Share Your World is Melanie’s weekly challenge to answer four questions plus sharing gratitude. These are her questions and my answers this week.

QUESTIONS:
1. Do you believe in soul mates? If so, do you think there is only one person meant to share that bond with you, out there in the world? (credit to Cyranny of Cyranny’s Cove)
I do believe in soul mates but I don’t think everyone finds one. You can fall in love and live with someone all your lives without being “soulmates.” Only if you are very lucky do you find “the one” out there in the world that is your true soul mate. My stepdaughter, for example, found her soul mate (now her husband) online. It is uncanny how much they are alike and how quickly they clicked.
20190126_130055
2. Ice cream cone, shake or other ice cream concoction?
I love ice cream in any form, but my favorite dessert is schaum torte. I usually have this dessert once a year, at Easter, because my niece makes the meringues. You put a scoop of ice cream on top of the meringue, cover it with strawberries and hot fudge sauce (best if homemade! My niece makes that too!). I used to have this dessert rarely as a kid. Perhaps because it is a rare, special treat, is why I love it so much. On my birthday, though, I want an ice cream cake!
20190420_162631.jpg
3. What would be the hat to end all hats? What could you wear on your head that would make people stop what they are doing and stare in awe and amazement?
My mother was the champion of hats. She traveled all over the world and always came back from her travels with a new hat, something native to the place she visited. She had so many hats that once when my sister had a Halloween party, my mother came as “the hat lady.” She pinned her weird hats all over her outfit! The strangest thing she did, though, was once when she was out with my dad and it started raining. She had no rain hat or umbrella with her, so she emptied the contents of her purse, handing these items to my dad, and then put the open purse upside down on her head!
I like hats but I could never beat anything my mother wore on her head!
hats4. What would be the worst “buy one get one free” sale of all time?
I might have said “credit card debt” or “tax bill” or maybe something no one would want more than one of, (or at least I wouldn’t – such as two death metal concerts for the price of one…I wouldn’t even attend one) but since I read Melanie’s answers, I would have to say the same thing: Two Trumpelinas for the price of one?? Although we kind of got that with Don Jr. and Eric…anyway, the thought is too horrifying to contemplate!
No-Trump-Zone
HAVE AN ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE!
Bonus Question. Please share a moment of gratitude that you experienced during the past week.
Seeing my son trying harder to make enough money to live on. Twice he came over last week because he couldn’t afford to buy decent food, so I invited him for dinner, and we had a nice conversation both nights. Since then, he’s been working more hours as a Lyft driver so that he will have enough to buy at least his essentials. But I think the part I’m grateful for was just seeing him behaving like the nice young man he can be.
20190126_172038.jpg