Category Archives: Photographs

Lazybones Blog Post

After a difficult week, I offer some of the more positive views I experienced (outside of my post-election distress, complicated migraine, screwed-up-and-painful leg, and ridiculously hectic travel). Today my father has been gone exactly 18 months.

My peace pole (built and erected by my father) as seen through the palms as a sort of liminal space. Here it is in Korean and English. The other sides are Spanish and Hebrew. Dad chose the languages.

We were in California again this past week. The Virginia Dare winery crusher building in Rancho Cucamonga. The Virginia Dare wine company is close to 200 years old and is now owned by the Coppola family.

The gate of the medical office complex that is part of the Virginia Dare center now. The metal grape leaves are a nice touch. Sorry it is so crooked. I thought I had that problem solved, but apparently not.

A mug with my life’s motto (the mug itself belongs to someone else, but the wine is mine): I just want to drink wine & pet my cat. Or cats. Which I can’t do when I am in California.

The view of Phoenix when I drove back in from California.

And when I got to the house I discovered that Pear and Tiger had decided to share the window seat.

Memoir Writing: Structure

I am doing some writing–just enough to feel as if I am writing. Rewriting my memoir into chronological order is really not difficult. The material is almost completely written–and it seems to more effortlessly fall into place this way. I remember now when I first started putting the  story in a different order. I was in a workshop where the students insisted that because the main secret that is revealed in my book is not HUGE, as in not huge for the public and only huge for me and for my family, that I had to reveal just enough of it up front so that nobody would get the wrong idea. I think this started me on the wrong path that has gone on now for years. I hope my new revelation that they were wrong is correct, otherwise I don’t know how to tell the story. So I am following some hopefully wise advice from Lewis Carroll:

“Begin at the beginning,” the King said, very gravely, “and go on till you come to the end: then stop.”

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Filed under #AmWriting, Arizona, California, Cats and Other Animals, Food & Drink, Liminality, Nonfiction, Photographs, Writing, Writing Talk

Labor Day: Lords and Ladies, Louisville, and Liminality

While we were in Louisville we visited the Frazier Historical Museum. It was particularly interesting for its history of Prohibition and bootlegging. They also had an exhibition of contemporary art by Louisville artist Julius Friedman. Not sure how that is historical, but it certainly was pretty.

 

I loved the glass cubes on a bed of glass shards.

This piece struck me as particularly liminal:

 

This weekend I discovered that PBS was going through the entire Downton Abbey series, and since I had never had time to watch it before and needed a break from work, I thought I would try to keep up with the help of my DVR. All was well until yesterday morning when my water heater caught on fire. So glad we were home!!! All is ok once it gets replaced–except perhaps for the odor which has permeated our clothes since the water heater is in our closet. This week it has to be replaced.

When I smelled the fire in the cabinet, I yelled for my husband and went in search of my 5 cats. I wanted them rounded up in case we had to vacate. The fire was caught in time, but the cats had adventures camping in the laundry room and half bath.

Still, I am well into season 3 and enjoying the show. Such great acting! Old news to most, I guess, but not to me ;). I know that Maggie Smith’s character is “everyone’s” favorite, but who else do you like best? I love Hugh Bonneville (who looks so like my uncle), Joanne Froggatt (Anna), well, I can’t keep listing because they are all so great.

The history of the show is fascinating because it is also quite liminal–that period between the “old day” and “modern day” captures the imagination. What a time to have lived.

I really do intend to get back to writing, but it has not happened yet. Still hanging out in that liminal space, I guess.

 

 

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Filed under Art and Music, History, Nonfiction, Photographs, Sightseeing & Travel, Writing

Arizona Spring II

For this one I had to climb down a steep gravel hill and across the wash and up another steep hill. But don’t think these beauties happen spontaneously. The master gardener I live with plans them with great care. I wish he’d plant them where it was easier for me to photograph them!

Notice the shadows.  Just TRY photographing in Arizona without shadows. Worst (and best) light EVER for photography here in this state.

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Arizona Spring

So many cactus blossoms this year in Arizona!

Here is the latest. It’s from a pot of mixed cacti next to my back door.

I’m spending time with my daughter this week and next! Hope your weekend is a beautiful one.

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That Same Old Drive Again

Last week we drove to California for work again. I tried to keep my camera phone on in case I could snap a shot of anything else of interest besides those beheaded palm trees I posted last time. The quality is poor because of shooting as we drove by, though the glass window and its reflection, and every other excuse you can imagine.

Freeway travel is fast and so often hubby drives in the left lane, which makes it even more difficult.

These buildings are out in the middle of nowhere.

And then we go through a rural area with cow and sheep ranches. Only they aren’t ranches as you think of them. They are FACTORIES to produce milk and meat. The stench is so bad that I have to cover my face with a towel in these areas. Remember those old commercials about happy cows in California? NOT. And as for Land O’Lakes and their sweet little signs on these enterprises, they can kiss my back forty. Today I bought some Irish butter from grass-fed cows. When I go to IRELAND this summer, I’ll check out the situation of the cows there.

(Yes, I am planning to go to Ireland. It’s not set up yet, but hopefully all will go well!)

Most of the landscape is monotonous desert stubbled with cacti or weeds, but occasionally we drive through master-planned chaos and more beheaded trees.

Last time I wrote about our drive, I wasn’t writing. I’ve been tinkering with my memoir manuscript and putting together the bones of my “genealogy” chapbook. It’s not a lot of writing, but it is writing.  So YAY!!! How about you??

Leaving you with a pic of my favorite shelter cat, Slupe. I couldn’t wait to get back and see her. She’s a prickly little calico/tortie (nobody can decide for sure, but I think she’s a calico), but we have a special relationship. She’s been at the shelter for two years and needs rescuing!!!

Slupe in cave

 

 

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Filed under #AmWriting, Arizona, California, Cats and Other Animals, Nonfiction, Photographs, Sightseeing & Travel, Writing

That Same Old Drive

We go back and forth between Arizona and California often enough that I am sick of the ride. There are only two ways to travel. One is via Interstate 8 through the mountains west of San Diego. We pass so close to Mexico that my cell service switches over for awhile.  The other is our regular route, via Interstate 10. We rarely take the first route because I hate losing cell service while we drive through the mountains–just in case something goes wrong–because we are generally on a deadline. It’s also a little longer.

I10 takes us through the flat desert. I always thought this was the Mohave, but actually the southern boundary of the Mohave is just north of the 10. We drive through the northern section of the Colorado Desert. Go figure. Maybe that is why we drive over the Colorado River near Blythe. Or maybe the desert is named after the river.

Since we only make one stop each drive and it’s to get gas and have a potty break (5 minutes in and out), we never stop near the river, so I haven’t been able to take a pic of it.

But there are things I can snap as the car moves (since I’m not the one driving).

Look at that. Beheaded palm trees. This is the sort of view that gives me the creeps. I keep wondering what happened to their branches. You could say, “Where’s the green?” (Happy St. Patrick’s Day!)

There are the picturesque (to me) ruins of old gas stations and motels, generally covered with graffiti, but darned if I’ve been able to capture those either.

We go to California for work and to see our son and his fiancée.

After seeing them, I am always ready to head back home to this: Pear, Tiger, Kana, Felix.

I’m still working my way through the work that got behind this winter. Then I plan to get back to writing. Sigh.

Do you find it difficult to write when your head is too full of stuff to do?

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Filed under Arizona, California, Cats and Other Animals, Nonfiction, Photographs, Sightseeing & Travel, Writing

Flutterbyes

Two years ago I wrote a blog post called Flutter Fun about the Butterfly Wonderland in Scottsdale. I was there with my kids. The other day I took Mom and my uncle and aunt to visit the butterflies.

As before, they had the stunning blue morphos that are brown camouflage on the outside and bright blue when the wings are opened.

They had many new species in addition to the original beauties.

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A few butterflies pressed up against the few windows, trying to get out of the atrium. I felt sad for them, but most of the butterflies seemed to be concentrating on eating.

IMG_8531 - Copy

 

Hubby and I also took my aunt and uncle to Sedona and Flagstaff. Then I ended up sick afterward, probably because I managed to get myself pretty tired keeping up with an 87-year-old (my uncle who is my dad’s twin).

 

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Filed under Arizona, Blogging, Cats and Other Animals, Inspiration, Nonfiction, Photographs, Sightseeing & Travel

Sorting and Collecting for Free

I’ve been adding social media to my life for a few years. Some types or platforms I find more useful or more appealing than others. While I have not gotten excited over Instagram, I do love Pinterest. I rarely think about the social aspect of Pinterest. I’m simply infatuated with the intriguing photos that lead to stories, more images, or recipes.

As a collector, I find it addictive to add to boards that categorize some of my favorite subjects, and I’m grateful to other Pinterest collectors for providing pins and for the ease of adding my own contributions.

Something about Pinterest reminds me of  sorting M&Ms by color before eating them. And collecting shells on the beach and sorting them by shape or color. Simple and therapeutic. Sort of puts me at the emotional age of a toddler.

M and Ms

Some of my boards are writing and reading related, as you might expect. Check out Writing, Scribbling, and Jotting for an idea of my boards. If you have a particular blog post (written by you or someone else) that you would like me to pin onto the board, type the link into the comments here, and I’ll check it out!

I have boards for that ever-present child in me (I linked to Dollhouses in case you want to see a sample):

  • Dolls, dolls, dolls
  • Dollhouses
  • Tiny beauties (miniatures)
  • Vintage toys
  • Kestner dolls
  • Children and dolls
  • Puppetry pins
  • Paper dolls
  • Doll art
  • Antique, Vintage and Old-fashioned Nurseries
  • Dionne quintuplets

I’ve got fairy tale boards called Red in the Woods and A World of Snow. The former is one of my best boards, mainly because so many artists have a version of Little Red Riding Hood! I don’t usually pin the highly sexualized ones, but there are a ton of those, too.

For my love of textiles I have Hankies and History, Lace and other fun textiles, and Buttons buttons. Really all these textiles and trimming are related to history.

For history I cultivate these boards:

The apron board is new and was inspired by blogger Sheryl Lazarus here and here.

I’ve got animal boards like Beasties (just because I love that Scottish word), Black Cats Rule, and Children and Animals.

Speaking of black cats, Kana is doing well! Here she is enjoying a little box. No box too small for this girl!

 

Art-themed boards include:

  • Art of the Scrapyard
  • Revision Art
  • Translucent beauties
  • Scrapbook and paper crafts (woefully in need of work–just like my own scrapbooking!)

Most of my recipe boards are gluten-free. I’ve even got a couple of secret boards. Subjects? Hah, that’s why they are secret.

Some people (read: hubby) might think I’m wasting my time on Pinterest, but it sure seems fun to me. And I only “play” over there for a couple of minutes almost every day.

What about you? Are you on Pinterest? Why or why not?

 

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Filed under #AmWriting, #writerlife, Books, Cats and Other Animals, Children's Literature, Dolls, Fairy Tales, Family history, Food & Drink, History, Photographs, Reading, Research and prep for writing, Vintage American culture

Endings and A Hope for New Beginnings

The year is winding down, and it’s been quite a year for me. I guess it was my turn. You’ve probably had your own years with lots of ups and lots of downs. I feel a post brewing about mine, but I don’t feel up to it today. Maybe I’ll write it for New Year’s Eve.

So I’ll show you some other endings: the sunsets in Arizona have a lot of pink and red in them. I took this one at a truck stop along the 10, and the sky was a vivid burgundy. I wish the color here were more true.

This one is typical of almost every December night. Sometimes there are palm trees silhouetted across the pink and dark blue sky.

OK, those were the endings of the day. Now for the hope of new beginnings!

I know a few “special needs” cuties in Phoenix that need a home for Christmas and beyond.

This is Betty. She was born in 2007 and has lived at the shelter for years. Yes, that says years. She is overweight, although you can’t see that from this glamour shot.

Why is she overweight? Maybe because for a very long time she was confined to a cage without exercise. She now gets to roam free in the cat roaming room with the other cats.

Betty (I think she needs a name change) had gotten a reputation for once in a while biting someone. I haven’t been so honored (yet), but I am trying to figure out what causes her to do so. I think it’s when she gets mad because she is being touched when she does not want to be touched. A volunteer might be petting her for a long time and then starts to forget she’s petting her, which means she is ignoring her. Betty might bite a bit to get her to stop over-stimulating her or to pay her attention. Anyway, several of us brush her and she likes it. When I sit on the floor at the shelter, she crawls into my lap and likes me to pet her and then stop and just let her sit there for as long as she likes.

Betty needs a home with an experienced cat person who wants to give someone who needs a chance THAT CHANCE. Betty will reward that person with loyalty and demonstrative love.

Lisa is a sweet black cat with a wonky left eye. Her vision is fine, but the eye itself is scarred so a bit cloudy-looking. Her official name is Lisa Left Eye, but I refuse to call her that. In this photo, I think she’s praying for a home.

Here is Lisa again:

Finally, here is 4-year-old Slupe, a darling Calico that has been at the shelter since long before I started there (which is now almost a year!!!).

Slupe doesn’t like living in a shelter environment and desperately needs a home of her own. Recently, she has lost fur in a few patches on her body, and I think it’s a reaction to stress. She loves to play in water and hide in boxes. She enjoyed playing with the kitten Scarlet, but Scarlet was just adopted so now Slupe needs a human friend and a home. Slupe is considered special needs because she has not been adopted for so long.

Even if you don’t have the right home for one of these adorables, please share their photos and stories in case you know someone who can! They are available here:

HOME ‘FUR’ GOOD

10220 N. 32nd Street
Phoenix, AZ 85028

602-971-1334

info@homefurgood.org

On a cat-related note, I gave my daughter my Homer’s Odyssey book to read. I wrote about it in this post Cat Heroes. Now I see that there is a sequel out about the blind wondercat Homer!

homer

I can’t wait to read about Homer’s life as a celebrity :). Raising Betty, Lisa, or Slupe would be a piece of kibble compared with raising lively blind Homer.

Our shelter’s cat newsletter contained the following very important Christmas tip for cat owners:

This holiday season be careful with all those curling ribbons, tinsels and other Christmas decorations. According to Pam Johnson-Bennett, “Cats have barbs on their tongue that point toward the back of their mouth. These barbs are used fo r both grooming and removing the meat from the bones of their prey. These barbs are the reasons cats cannot easily spit items out of their mouth; things get stuck. This is why toys with thread and string can be dangerous if left unattended.”   Pam also warns us about real pine needles being toxic to cats as well as the tree water, so you should never let your cat (or dog) drink it. You can use netting or Sticky Paws for Plants over the reservoir to ensure your pets don’t have access to it. To read more about how to deter your cats from nibbling on tree brunches or Christmas lights and more, read Pam Johnson- Bennett’s article here http://www.catbehaviorassociates.com/how-to-keep-your-cat-away-from-the-christmas-tree/

If you celebrate Christmas, I hope yours is full of peace and joy. And for everyone, I wish you much peace and joy in your lives. See you next week!

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Filed under #AmWriting, Arizona, Cats and Other Animals, Nonfiction, Photographs, Writing

Our Cemeteries

In the past, when we’ve visited Michigan, hubby and I visited his parents’ graves. This time, we went with my mother to the veteran’s cemetery where my father is buried. When we got to Toronto, we also visited hubby’s grandparents’ graves.  Sherri Matthews gave me the idea to write about our cemeteries.

In Michigan, it was “pouring rain,” (is that a Michigan expression where pouring is used as an adjective meaning the rain is coming down in a downpour?) and we had left the umbrella back home.  There is a government building on the very large property, and I stopped by to see if they had an umbrella to borrow. A nice young man ran about looking for one, even running out to his own car, but alas no umbrella.

The cemetery feels very spacious because there are a lot of grounds with a curving road that cuts through. All the newer sections use flat markers, rather than gravestones, so the illusion is as if one is in a park. It looks clean and contemporary.

When we got to my father’s section, the rain stopped.

Graves are dug in the order of date of death, and many have come after my father. There is an institutional feel. Everything is large and impersonal. Big equipment just beyond my father’s grave is carving out room for more of our dead veterans, and in some cases, their spouses.

I’m grateful for the sacrifices of our veterans, and I am glad that this national cemetery is well cared for and in a beautiful setting. But it’s not where I would have liked my father to be buried. Originally, my parents had plots in a family section of a local cemetery. He would have had a regular headstone, where we would not have been limited by government rules. I also don’t like this idea for my mother because eventually (she’s in very good health and a very young 80, to be clear) she would have to go in the same grave with him, I believe. But near the end my father became more and more focused on his military service in the Korean War, and he changed his funeral and burial plans.

In Toronto, we found old traditional cemeteries. We were told the name of the Jewish cemetery where we would find hubby’s grandparents, so we followed my iPhone directions to get there. We were told it was on the north side of the road, and when we got there we discovered two cemeteries–both Jewish–one on each side of the road. We went to the appropriate side, but we couldn’t find any of the relatives, although we searched the names on every stone. I kept thinking we were in the wrong place because in general the dates appeared too old to me. Although there were a few where the deaths were past 2000, for the most part I thought these plots had been bought 100 years ago.

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I felt bad about this cemetery because although someone was taking care of the grass, many stones were falling over. I didn’t know how much vandalism had to do with this and couldn’t help but wonder why nobody had fixed them!

Jewish cemeteries are sometimes subjected to vandalism. Quite recently in France hundreds were vandalized. But these are old stones and maybe they have fallen over on their own?

Eventually I wandered across the street to the very neat and orderly, but crowded, cemetery.

I searched for some time, as the sun was moving down in the sky, creating shadows. Finally, hubby reached a cousin on the phone. He drove over and showed us that there was yet a third cemetery just up the street! That’s where we found hubby’s grandparents.

Although this cemetery had the right feel and was quite beautiful and old, I won’t show you my photos of hubby’s grandparents’ gorgeous stones because his relatives are what hubby and I think of as superstitious, and I don’t want to annoy anyone.

These Toronto cemeteries all had the look of big city cemeteries where the rows of gravestones are quite close together because land is precious.

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Filed under #AmWriting, History, Memoir, Photographs, Sightseeing & Travel, Vintage American culture, Writing