Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Questions and answers

 Today, the last day of the Ultimate Blogging Challenge, I am answering questions! So, without further ado, here are the questions:

Martha asked: How did you get into painting? You are so good at it and your paintings are beautiful.

Thank you so much, Martha!!! It was my mother who pushed me to do art. When I was fifteen years old, I suddenly came to the conclusion that I had no artistic talent, so I gave up art entirely. Well, maybe not entirely. I used to draw cartoons and I doodled. For years, my mother told me that I should take art lessons. And, for a long time, I said no, I had no talent. At one point, I had gone back to college and I saw that I had to take some sort of arts class. So I took an art class for nonmajors. I said to myself, "Self, you have no talent. Your paintings are going to be bad. Don't worry about that. Just have fun and enjoy the process." Inadvertently, I took away all stress from the process and had turned it into a fun time. And, as a bonus, I even liked the paintings that I made. After that, I took more art classes, in a variety of places. 

I am thankful to my mother who set me on my art journey. Along the way, I learned some valuable lessons. I learned that I don't have to compare myself to others. I am on my own art journey. It's not a contest. It's about growth, not winning. Another thing that I was told that really helped was that talent is overrated. It's the effort and practice at creating art that matter more. It is the desire to grow as an artist that makes a difference. And, most of all, it's about happiness. I have found that creating art makes me happy. I get to interpret the world with shapes and with color. That's really as good as it gets.

keithaw2k asked: How do you rate your blogs? Do you go back and update them? 

I don't really know that much about rating my own blog. I am sure that there is a technique to that, but I've never done that. Also, I don't go back to the original blog to update it. Sometimes, I will post followups to the original blog post. That is as close to updating as I get.

PhxAzLaura asked: Agree with you about Cherry Garcia, but I've never liked Cookie Dough ice cream. Yippee for you for trying something new, though. I love this post. My question: what adventure would you like to go on next?

I do have a few adventures planned, which include kayaking in the Niagara River and a tour of Seneca Falls, New York, which is the site of the first women's rights convention, in 1848. The town of Seneca Falls is also believed to be the inspiration for the setting of the movie, "It's a Wonderful Life," a movie that I've seen... repeatedly! The town is on the shores of Cayuga Lake, which is the longest of Central New York's Finger Lakes. There's a lot to see in Seneca Falls, including the Women's Rights National Historical Park, the National Women's Hall of Fame, Cayuga Lake State Park, Seneca Meadows Wetland Preserve, and so much more. The tour that I am taking is just a day trip, so I am sure that I will leave, ready for another adventure!

Vivian asked: Why do cats chase spiders and then are afraid to eat them? 

Oh, the complicated webs we weave. I mean, oh, the complicated webs spiders weave. I don't know that cats won't eat spiders. Some spiders, such as brown recluse and black widow spiders, are venomous and don't make a good meal for the cat. I have, however, never seen a cat turn a spider, venomous or not, into a meal.

Diane asked: How do I overcome my fear of the oven? Any suggestions on how I figure out how I cook in it?

Did you know that fear of the oven is a real condition? It is called fournophobia, which literally means a fear of ovens. I don't know how you overcome the fear. If you are really terrified of using ovens, you do have the option of not using an oven. It is actually possible to do all of your cooking on top of the stove. It's even possible to make a cake in a frying pan or a skillet!

If you would like to try to cook in the oven, I would suggest that you use simple recipes. Talk to people you know who like cooking and ask them to recommend a recipe for a beginner cook, preferably a recipe with easy to follow step by step directions. The whole idea is that you make something easy so that you can experience success. Good luck with your cooking journey.

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

sunflowers (almost #WordlessWednesdays)


Ah! sunflower, weary of time,

Who countest the steps of the sun,

Seeking after that sweet golden clime

Where the traveller’s journey is done;

Where the youth pined away with desire,

And the pale virgin shrouded in snow,

Arise from their graves and aspire;

Where my sunflower wishes to go.

--William Blake (1757-1827)

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Creating a fun wall hanging


On Friday evening, I went to the Orange Poppy Art Studio for a fun workshop. The project that we were going to make was a wall hanging. The Orange Poppy Art Studio, which is owned and run by Bonnie Nevans and Crystal Still, is dedicated to the idea that there is an artist inside of everyone. The concept of process art is that it is the creation of art that is important, not the product. It's sort of like when you're on a long trip and you realize that it's the journey itself that changes you for the better, rather than just the arrival at your destination. Destinations and finished art are great but they really are just frosting on the cake. 

Sooooo.... the wall hanging. It was truly a process that started with polymer clay. The cool thing about polymer clay is that it doesn't have to be fired in a kiln. You can bake it at relatively low temperatures in an oven, and it's finished. We had two methods shown to us for molding polymer clay.

The first was to roll the clay into coils and the second was to roll it with a rolling pin until you got it to about one-eighth of an inch in thickness. It's easy to get into the zone when rolling out the clay. With my first effort, I rolled it so thin that it could have been a crepe. That was easy to fix.

After rolling your clay, you can use cookie cutters to make shapes.

Once you've finished making your pieces, you make holes on the top and the bottom so that your pieces can be strung together to make a wall hanging. You're also going to need a bunch of beads. Before your pieces are baked, you're going to watch to photograph your entire design so that you can remember what it looks like and can put it together after it comes out of the oven.

After your clay polymer pieces come out of the oven and cool off a bit, you can arrange them and piece them together.

I pieced mine together with cord and jump rings and with a large ring at the top. I had so much fun designing my wall hangings! And I went home with extra polymer clay. In the next few days, I'm going to make a few pieces of jewelry with that clay, to match the wall hangings!

What are some of the creative projects that you've enjoyed lately?

Thursday, August 19, 2021

My failed attempt at extreme multi tasking

 Yesterday, I enjoyed a fun decorating project. I had waited almost two years to do this project. On the day that I had scheduled to do the project, I had a conflict that I didn't anticipate (scheduling isn't my best skill!). The project that I ended up by doing was a painting at a fun paint night event at St. Timothy Lutheran Church.

What could be more fun than paint night? I had a great time making this painting and hanging out with the other painters. Plus there were refreshments, so it was a win-win situation. The painting that I was directed to make had a thankful theme to celebrate Thanksgiving 2019. That painting is now hanging on my wall next to my front door. 

After almost two years, I still feel thankful. Thankful for being alive, thankful for family and friends, thankful for the simple things of life.

Both projects were supposed to be done with groups of people all doing the same activity. But, because of the accidental double booking, my participation in the second activity, which was scheduled for a fall evening in 2019 (the same evening as the paint night!) at the Grand Island Golden Age Center, had to be postponed. Little did I know how long it was going to be postponed!

Yesterday was the day, at long last! I spent much of the day doing the fun creative project, which including painting, gluing, and embroidery. It was a fun activity. I ended up by doing it by myself, partly at the Golden Age Center, where I went to have lunch and play bingo (I didn't win, lol), and partly at home.

It was a much-delayed activity but it was still very enjoyable, and I learned a valuable lesson from the experience: Don't double book yourself. It is physically impossible to be in two places simultaneously! Extreme multi-tasking does not work!

What sort of oops experiences have you had lately?

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Happy birthday, Virginia


Today's blogging prompt is to describe something that happened on "this day in history." And, guess what I found? A big mystery.

On August 18th, 1590, John White, who was the governor of the Roanoke Island Colony in what is now North Carolina,  returned from a supply gathering trip in England to discover... no one. He and his crew looked around, but all 100 or so inhabitants of the colony had disappeared without a trace, including the governor's little granddaughter, Virginia Dare, the first English child to be born in the Roanoke colony. In fact, August 18th was Virginia's third birthday. The birthday girl was nowhere to be found. Only one clue remained as to what happened to the entire colony. The word CROATOAN was inscribed on the palisades constructed around the colony.

John White traveled to the island of Croatoan, but none of the colonists were there. The colonists had simply vanished. There was no sign of a struggle or violence. Nothing at all. It was as if they had simply ceased to exist.

There are theories about the disappearance of the colony. One is that the colonists, who were starving, left on their own. John White had been away for a long time. His return had been delayed by England's war with Spain, which continued from about 1585 to 1603. So he was gone, and the colonists were unable to obtain supplies. One theory is that the colonists were absorbed into a Native American tribe called Croatan and that, perhaps, they were letting John White know that they had joined the Croatans by leaving that one word message, "Croatoan." Another theory is that they were killed, but there was no sign of a struggle or violence.

The most implausable and yet very believable explanation is that the colony was abducted by space aliens who landed their vessel on a crop circle. Who knows? Perhaps this is true. It would explain why there is no sign that the colonists had ever been on the island. It would also explain why there was no evidence of any struggle or violence. It is, for sure, the stuff of imagination. It is a mystery that has endured for centuries and probably never will be solved.

What sort of historical mysteries have you encountered lately?

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Music & reinventing myself

 Today's blogging prompt is to relate a song lyric to my life. I thought about songs that I know and love and chose "Memory" from the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical "Cats." The lyrics from this musical are from T.S. Eliot's book, "Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats."

Memory is a powerful thing. It can be a friend or a foe. For me, it has been both. I remember both positive and negative things from my past in alarming detail. Because of that, I have a difficult time forgiving myself for my misdeeds. That is, however, a short-sighted view. As humans, we are spectacularly and beautifully imperfect. Therefore, we are more than a collection of imperfections and misdeeds committed in the past. We are potential and hope and we are works in progress. 

Recently, I applied for a Real Job to be editor of a local newspaper. It seemed like a good fit for me, and I had ideas on how to make the newspaper a better reflection of the community. But I didn't get the job. Which led me to wonder if I should give up my barely alive journalism career, that felt, at that moment, almost as moribund as a sputtering street lamp. The barely alive journalism career felt as if it stretched for several lifetimes in my memory that sometimes is more dramatic than accurate. It then came to me that my journalism career, like my life, is spectacularly and beautifully imperfect.

Every street lamp seems to beat
A fatalistic warning
Someone mutters and the street lamp sputters
And soon it will be morning

Not dead, however, is not dead. At the darkest moments, there is the promise of dawn, with the golden sky reflecting in the water. A new day and a new promise always lay ahead, usually feeling out of reach. Maybe I should change directions, instead of give up? Do I lose who I am if I don't get a job? Or am I still me, just without a job title? Could I transfer my journalism skills to something else? Maybe I could think about compiling an oral history or writing a novel. Life is always dynamic and never static so re-inventing oneself is always an option, as opposed to giving in and giving up.

Daylight, I must wait for the sunrise
I must think of a new life
And I mustn't give in
When the dawn comes, tonight will be a memory too
And a new day will begin

I am ready for that new day. For continuing to be potential and hope and a work in progress.

In what ways would you like to reinvent yourself? 

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Ask me anything!!!!


Today, I invite you to ask me anything! Anything at all. Family friendly, of course. Silly is good. Just type your question in the comments section below. To get your question asking creative juices going, here are some sample questions (with brief answers):

1. What would you do if you saw a vampire?


2. What has surprised you the most lately? 

Cookie dough ice cream. I was looking for Cherries Garcia but there wasn't any. And I've been eating nondairy "ice cream" because lactose and my tummy aren't exactly on speaking terms and an unhappy tummy is a vengeful tummy. Well, anyway, I taste tested the cookie dough ice cream and was surprised at its resemblance to chocolate chip cookies right before they go into the oven.. It was soooooooooo good. 

What sort of things do you like to write? Poems, fractured fairy tales, visual journal entries, letters, What can I say? Writing is fun.

Now it's your turn!!! Ask away, and I will answer your questions with this Saturday's blog post!


Saturday, August 14, 2021

Memories and stuffed peppers


I really miss my parents at pretty much every time of the day. I think about what they would be doing and what they would be saying. On Thursday nights, they played Scrabble. Every week, without fail, the Scrabble board and a collection of dictionaries would come out, and my parents would be prepared to do Wordly Battle. They were very serious about the game, sitting at the table and contemplating the board. Sometimes, one or the other would say is (random bunch of letters) a word? The other parent looked it up and either said yes or no. My mom was the queen of coming up with random bunches of letters and turning them into actual words. I don't know how she did it. For me, they never advanced beyond the point of being random bunches of letter.

My dad loved putting out high scoring words, but he wasn't very strategic. My mom, on the other hand, took advantage of every opening, to my dad's consternation.

"S... H...*...T," he yelped... every time it happened (which meant that he said the S word a lot).

After the game was over, my mom made a milkshake for my dad and me. She never drank any of it, and my dad drank most of it in a big glass. I drank a small amount, very slowly, in a little glass. That's all my tummy would accept, and one must be good to one's fussy tummy.

My dad loved the milkshakes. He also loved everything that my mom cooked. He often declared, "You are the best cook in the world!!" He said it with great gusto as frequently as possible. At one point, my mom had a huge repertoire of dishes that she prepared. She made all sort of main dishes and soups and desserts. She took great care with her cooking. I don't know if she was the greatest cook in the world, but she was pretty darned good, and she kept my dad, my three sisters, and me well fed and happy.

Today, when I was thinking about what to do with a few green peppers, I remembered that my mom had made yummy stuffed peppers. So I decided why not make stuffed peppers? I looked online for a recipe and found this one from one of my favorite online cookbooks, "Allrecipes.com": stuffed green peppers. I had most of the ingredients. The one that I was missing was worchestershire sauce. That led me to checking for a substitute online. I found that I could replace the worchestershire sauce with equal parts hoisin sauce, soy sauce, and apple cider vinegar. My mother, on the other hand, always had worchestershire sauce on hand! She also had ketchup and mustard and other things that I wouldn't touch with a ten-foot pole (in the case of mustard, make that a twenty-foot pole because food aversion, lol).

I prepared the stuffed peppers, mostly following directions. That too was a trait that I got from my mother. She read recipes and then made changes, some of them major, so that she could prepare the dish according to her specifications.

I am really grateful that my mom taught me how to cook. Every time I cook, I try to honor her memory with the food. Thank you, Mom. I love you.

How I stopped hating math and discovered the awesomeness of numbers

 Today's blogging prompt is to write about your favorite number. I thought that would make for a very brief blog post. "My favorite number is 27 because I was born on the 27th of the month. If there were no number 27, I could have never been born because my birth date would have magically vanished, and I would have vanished, too, and that's it. The end."

Sooooo.... how about a bunch of numbers?? And I could tie this whole bunch of numbers into two of my favorite things, art and nature? First, I have to say that, when I was in school, my least favorite subject was math. I know that a lot of people say that. So, for years, I thought that I was BAD AT MATH. I didn't realize that I was actually doing math every single day, mainly because I equated math with tedious worksheets.

I didn't equate math with measuring ingredients in a baking project or with figuring out the perspective when drawing or painting. I didn't even think that I was doing math when I figured out how much money I needed at the store to pay for some purchase. That is how conditioned I was to the concept of math as tedium.

I slowly began to realize that math and numbers were anything but tedium when I read about how sunflowers are the perfect example of mathematics in nature.

They are perfect because they follow the fibonacci sequencing of numbers in how their seeds are sequenced.

The fibonacci sequence of numbers goes like this 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, 233, 377, 610...and on and on it goes.

As you can see, started with the second one, each digit is the sum of the previous two digits. It is very conceivable that the fibonacci series has no end. One could keep calculating these digits forever. Anyway, I probably can't describe exactly how it is that sunflower seeds follow fibonacci sequencing. For more information about that, here is a link to an interesting article: "Nature blows my mind!!!"

Do you have a favorite number? Is it good luck for you? If so, please mention it in the comments section below!

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Three Sisters Island

 Almost #WordlessWednesday! Here are images of Three Sisters Island, which is about as close to the rapids leading to Niagara Falls as you're ever going to get. Three Sisters Island is located in Niagara Falls State Park in Niagara Falls, New York.