Saturday, August 19, 2017

The 52-week photography project: water

The topic for week 29 of the 52-week photography project is "water."
man made pond
Approximately 71 percent of the earth is covered by water.
Woods Creek
Nearly 97 percent of that water is salt water, found in oceans. The water that we can drink is scarce.

Just about one percent of the earth's water is fresh, drinkable water.
The Niagara River, early in the morning

Fresh water can be found in rivers, lakes, and creeks. In these pictures, you can see some of the bodies of water in and around Grand Island, New York.

Today's question: What are some of the interesting bodies of water in and around your community?

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The colors of joy: Monday musings

Today's #Mondaymusing depicts the colors that I find in abundance at this time of year. The colors are bright or muted or a combination of the two.  I am sharing these photographs to remind you to take a five to ten minute break. Go outside and explore what's closest to you. You may be surprised by what you see. You don't necessarily have to travel to find beauty. It's right there, close to you. Often, it is the beauty that's the closest to us that is the easiest to miss.

Small drops of color
like drops of magical paint
bright Rose of Sharon.

Tall plants attract bees
with their softly bright colors
midsummer's day's plants.

Lavender or white
or many other bright hues
summer's cone flower.

Question for you:  what are some of your every day beauties?

Saturday, August 12, 2017

If we are singing coffee...

Note: I am participating in a seven-day blogging challenge, called the Write Tribe Festival of Words. Write Tribe is an online community of bloggers that "urges you to write bravely." The day  seven prompt is “if we are having coffee.” This is the last post in the challenge. It’s been fun and I’ve made new friends. It doesn’t get any better than that. Why not end the challenge with fun and music? Everyone is invited to a concert. The concert’s theme is coffee, and the title is “if we are singing coffee.” Here are some selections that celebrate coffee, featuring singers who perform in a variety of styles. Who would ever guess that so many people can sing with such gusto about coffee?
link to Write Tribe.

Black Coffee, with Ella Fitzgerald

Coffee Time, with Natalie Cole

The Coffee Song, with Frank Sinatra

I love coffee, I love tea!!!
Java Jive, with Manhattan Transfer

You're the cream in my coffee, with Nat King Cole

One Cup of Coffee, with Bob Marley

I hope that you've had fun and that you've enjoyed the Coffee Concert. What is your favorite beverage? Do share in the comments section.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Cancer: The parents' story

Note: I am participating in a seven-day blogging challenge, called the Write Tribe Festival of Words. Write Tribe is an online community of bloggers that "urges you to write bravely." The day six prompt is to either feature a guest blog post or to interview someone. I am sharing parts of two interviews that I did recently with parents of children who have been diagnosed with cancer.
link to Write Tribe

Matthew and Mark, honorary
survivors at the 2017
Grand Island Relay
for Life, held on June 9th.
Matthew was diagnosed with Birkitt's lymphoma when he was five years old. As of June, he has been cancer free for eighteen months. In September, he will begin third grade. I spoke with Matthew and his parents, Tracy and Eric.

Logan was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, called Langerhans cell histiocytosis, when he was two and a half years old. In September, Logan will start kindergarten. I spoke with Logan's mom, Trish.

Issues facing families when children have cancer

Tracy: We realized that we were not the only family. We met other families who were in way worse shape than us, with the care of their children. Even though your child has cancer and has lost feeling in his foot, there are other families who have lost their child. And now they are angels. Children are innocent. They shouldn’t be fighting these horrible diseases, and they shouldn’t be getting adult drugs.

Eric: We need more focus on pediatric cancers. The kids are getting left behind.

Tracy: they only get four percent of the money that is raised. You want cancer to be gone, but it seems like they are treating cancer backwards. They should start treating cancers with the kids because we have to figure out why they are getting them. They didn’t smoke, and they didn’t drink. They need to find what works for kids.

Trish: My son was two and a half when he started complaining of back pain. We took Logan to the pediatrician. The doctor ordered X ray. They looked at the X ray and said that there is something not right here. We had an MRI done. It was a long day in the hospital. At two and a half years, he had to be sedated. Various people came in, including a hematologist-oncologist. After a biopsy, they found it is was a form of histiocytosis, called Langerhans cell histiocytosis or LCH.  One in 200,000 children are diagnosed with this. It is a fairly rare type of cancer. He did steroids and chemotherapy for a year to treat it. It was done at different intervals and went pretty smooth. There isn't much funding for this. 

Eric: They use adult drugs for pediatric cancer. There is no research and funding to look for other treatments for kids. When an adult gets these drugs, they don’t live long enough to know what other functions are affected. With a kid, they don’t know the long-term repercussions. They need additional research. 

Health, hope, and challenges

Tracy: Matthew is in remission. We had an 18 month goal. His type of cancer has a high rate of recurrence within that time frame, so that was our first goal, to make it that far. We do weekly infusions.

Eric: His immune system has not recovered. He gets weekly injections to boost his immune system.

Tracy: There are always germs. When we first sent Matthew back to school after treatment, he missed twenty days out of forty days. So that’s when we started the weekly injections, and that has helped keep his immune system to a fairly normal level, so he fights colds like a normal kid. What would happen before was one kid would get a runny nose or a cold but Matthew would end up with the flu because his immune system was not there.

Eric: We are more perceptive of stuff now; other stuff doesn’t really matter.

Tracy: We try to appreciate our family time together

Eric: It opens your eyes. We were that close to losing him so it makes you think. Financially, it’s a burden. Tracy no longer worked full time because she had to take care of Matthew. You have to cut back on stuff. It totally changes. We had to rip out the rugs. They are a germ factory. We had to throw out plants because they have mold. All of the stuff you took for granted, you no longer take for granted.

Trish: Logan does pretty good. He starts kindergarten in the fall. He is a remarkable kid. When he complained about back pain, he just said my back hurts and pointed to it. Typically, with this type of disease, there is a lot of pain.  We figured that he had a high tolerance for pain. He never complained about earaches, sore throats, etc.  

Activities for young cancer survivors

Matthew: Golf is really fun. I can get outside and smell the fresh air. I can hit pretty far. I like to get the ball in the cup. That’s my favorite sport. 

Eric: We play golf because it is a form of exercise he can do in the summertime because of his dropfoot. Baseball, hockey, physically active running sports are activities we are trying to stay away from until we know that his leg is getting better and getting healed. Golf isn’t that exertive on the leg. Matthew likes swimming but we don’t have our own pool. We will get one one day.

Trish: No contact sports. No bounce houses. If he gets a direct impact to that part of his back, it could cause a lot of issues. Logan did baseball with little league. We are trying to find stuff that he could do. We don’t know how long it will take for bone to regrow itself on the spine. 

Thursday, August 10, 2017

A letter to my art teachers

Note: I am participating in a seven-day blogging challenge, called the Write Tribe Festival of Words. Write Tribe is an online community of bloggers that "urges you to write bravely." The day five prompt is to write a letter to someone. I've chosen to write a letter to all of my art teachers over the years.

Dear Art Teachers,
You have given me a gift beyond measure. I always thought that art was about paint and color and paper and canvas. You taught me that those were only tools, that art was about seeing the world. You taught me to look at the beauty of the world and the beauty of humans.
When I was in junior high school, bullies told me that I was ugly, and I believed them. I looked in the mirror and saw ugly. As an adult, I had lessons in painting human faces. I learned about the shape of the face and where to place the eyes, nose, and mouth. I learned about how to make hair look like hair and how to give eyes the illusion of life, even though a painting of a human is two dimensional and people are three dimensional.

After I had lessons in painting faces, I saw faces in a totally new way. I rode on the bus and on the subway and I looked at faces. Each one was unique. Each person had an attractive face in his or her own way. I saw faces, not as "ugly," but as fascinating, with at least one feature that could be considered beautiful. I wanted to paint everyone's portrait. It was then that I realized that no one is ugly. Every face has a story to tell about a life that has been lived. There is beauty in all faces. When I realized that there was beauty in all faces, I knew that I couldn't possibly be ugly, either. I looked in the mirror and I saw features that were uniquely me, not ugly, just me.

You taught me to see the shapes and colors in buildings and rivers and trees. You taught me to frame my picture to make the picture a vibrant reproduction of reality. In short, you taught me to see.

Thank you so much for giving me the gift of color, shape, and, most of all, sight. My world is much more vibrant because of my art teachers.

Gratefully yours,

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

A Day of Alice

Note: I am participating in a seven-day blogging challenge, called the Write Tribe Festival of Words. Write Tribe is an online community of bloggers that "urges you to write bravely." The day four prompt is to feature a day in my life or someone else's life. I've chosen to feature two activities/events from today. (link to Write

The first activity/event: Food is always a good thing so I am featuring the omelette that I cooked for breakfast this morning. I started by chopping garlic, green pepper, and summer squash, which I sauteed.
Then I mixed one egg with almond milk, tarragon, dill weed, and parmesan cheese.
I use just one egg to produce an omelette that is thin like a crepe. After letting the egg mixture cook for about three minutes, I added chopped up tomato and feta cheese.
Then I covered the egg and cooked it for another three minutes. And voila! One omelette, ready to eat.

The second event: I went to the Buffalo History Museum for Indigenous Peoples Day and Commemorate Nuclear Free Future Day.
It featured speakers, music, a video, a delicious potluck meal, and a lantern float. I didn't stay for the lantern float but I designed two lanterns for the event. 

Here were some of the things that were said at the Buffalo History Museum:

Nikki went to Standing Rock, North Dakota, where many people stood with the Standing Rock Sioux against the Dakota Access Pipeline being placed in their territory. She said: "Standing Rock was an awakening of staying in prayer... it was good energy... people were awakening throughout Turtle Island... there were different races and colors... we thought that it was an indigenous issue... we marched at the federal building in Bismark, North Dakota... we were there for water and Mother Earth... we were singing and praying... a SWAT team surrounded us... it was scary... did I tell my kids that I love them this morning?... we stayed in prayer and ceremony... we sent elders to the center... nonnatives protected us in the outer circle... everyone has a purpose... it was a humbling moment... we stand for future generations, mother earth, and water..."

Agnes Williams: "We don't own the earth; we are just the caretakers."

Joanne Shenandoah belongs to the wolf clan of the Oneida Nation.
She is a professional musician with eighteen albums, who has won a Grammy and fourteen Native American music awards. She sang a variety of songs with her daughter. "Singing lifts the spirit. It's my mission in life. We should not be afraid and fear the spirit world... I've been to many continents, where people want to live in peace. We take time every day to ask for blessings to fill heart and soul. All music is healing. Music is a gift of life." Her ancestor was Chief Shenandoah, who said, "We must not simply speak on peace. We must act peace. We must be peace."

Doug George, of the Bear Clan of the Mohawk Nation: "What can we do to change the course of this plant and preserve the earth. It is our guiding principal to defend the rights of the unborn for seven generations. These rights are clean water, clean air, a fertile land, and an atmosphere of freedom. Ecuador and Bolivia have enshrined these rights in their constitutions. We are no longer passive victims."

A view of Mirror Lake from the Buffalo History Museum

We were invited to decorate lanterns for the float at dusk in Mirror Lake. I didn't know what to draw so I drew a shape and then made the shape into a person. I made another shape and another person on the other side of the bag. After that, I chose the title, "Cartoonie People for a Nuclear-Free Future."

It's Banana Man!!

Who knows where Cartoonie People will be seen next?

Question for you: What were some of the highlights of your day?

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Images of Buffalo, New York

Note: I am participating in a seven-day blogging challenge, called the Write Tribe Festival of Words. Write Tribe is an online community of bloggers that "urges you to write bravely." The day three prompt is to feature a map and write about a place, either real or virtual. I've chosen to feature photographs and to describe a place, instead. This is Buffalo, New York. I hope that you enjoy this virtual tour.(link to

The Japanese Gardens behind the Buffalo
Museum. The Japanese Gardens were a gift
to Buffalo from its sister city, Kanazawa,
Japan. The design was conceived in 1970 and
work was completed in 1974.
Buffalo is known for having heartbreak sports teams that never quite win the championship, chicken wings, and lots of snow. When I tell people that I am from Buffalo, they ask me how I can find it, with all of that snow that apparently falls year-round. Also, it must be hard on the sinuses. Excuse me while I brush the snow off of me and try to find some relief for my (clogged) sinuses. Anyway, haha, it's August, and it never snows in August, except in one of those cute snow cones that you can buy in just about every tourist trap town but Buffalo because no one (yet) thinks of Buffalo as a tourist trap town. 

Colorful house, typical of the Allentown neighborhood
This is the Buffalo History Museum. It is
one of the few buildings that remain from the
1901 Pan American Exposition, which
was a celebration of electricity. Every-
thing was lit up in color, and it was so
beautiful at night that people cried.
Unfortunately, the Pan American
Exposition is mostly remembered
for the assassination of President
McKinley and for the rushed
inauguration of President Theodore
Maybe these pictures will change your mind and you'll want to visit Buffalo before you head off to Niagara Falls, which is a wonder of the world. By the way, Niagara Falls looks spectacular during the winter, when it is covered by snow and ice and there's a double rainbow making bright colors in all of that snow and ice. There is a city of Niagara Falls in the United States and another city of Niagara Falls in Canada.
Inside the Montante
Cultural Center at
Canisius College. This
building was formerly
the Saint Vincent
de Paul
Church. It was
dedicated in 1924
and was restored in 2000.
It is an example
of Byzantine-Lombardic
architecture and is an
historic Buffalo landmark.
In the United States, you can cross a small bridge and get to a place called "Goat Island," where you can get an extremely close view of Niagara Falls. If you are brave and don't mind getting soaking wet, you can do the Cave of the Winds tour. It takes you directly below the falls. You climb a lot of stairs and water gushes in your face, making you temporarily blind, which isn't fun but is worthy of story telling for years to come. The Canadian city has some wonderful features, including a butterfly conservatory and a floral clock. I need to go there. That could be the theme for a future blog post. 

Seen in the Allentown section of Buffalo, during the Buffalo Garden Walk.

Johnson Park, Buffalo

City Hall in Buffalo was built by Dietel, Wade, and Jones and was completed in 1931. It is a 32-story art deco building and is one of the tallest buildings in western New York. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1999.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

The 52-week photography project: portrait as landscape

Note: I am participating in a seven-day blogging challenge, called the Write Tribe Festival of Words. Write Tribe is an online community of bloggers that "urges you to write bravely."

Today's prompt is "share about a resource that you have or use." The resource that I am sharing Dogwood Photography. It is a photography studio in Wilmington, North Carolina, and it is a great resource for people who want to be photographers. This is the second year that Dogwood Photography has offered a 52-week photography challenge. For each of 52 weeks, there is a weekly assignment that covers three categories: artistic, story, and technical. This is truly a great opportunity, both to learn about photography while doing photography and to grow as an artist.

I am on week 28. The theme is "portrait as landscape," and the suggestion is "shoot a portrait that is posing as a landscape. Tell a story of the subject, using the landscape around them. Fool the reader."

So, here you go. The images for the week. 

A garden is a peaceful place to relax, to experience the world in color and shape and with a quiet, contemplative attitude.

The old, the new, the permanent, the temporary. The sunlight streams in and the view from the windows appears to be nothing but bright white light.

A room, a party, bone china teacups on display, and plastic cups full of iced tea. Sister Karen shares a few stories.
Roadwork on a warm day, when the rain clouds have formed.
The Grand Island Farmers market on the first Saturday of the month. A meat stand.
Today's conversation topic: What are some of your resources?

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Digging into my treasure chest

Note: I am participating in a seven-day blogging challenge, called the Write Tribe Festival of W0rds.  Write Tribe is an online community of bloggers that "urges you to write bravely." There are two things that are needed, according to the website, Write Tribe (website): a shared interest and a way to communicate. 

Today's blogging prompt is to write about a treasure that I have. I looked for gold and silver and precious jewels, but they were not there. Then, I dug into my treasure chest and found a few objects: a camera, a box of stones, a collection of journals, and a whole bunch of paintings. I also found some intangible objects: an imagination, curiosity, determination, and passion. I wanted to write about the treasure that glitters in the sunlight because it is golden, but I will have to settle for one of the intangible things: my curiosity.

Curiosity is defined by the Cambridge Dictionary as being "an eager desire to know or learn about something." That has described me since I was a little kid. That eager desire has gotten me into some trouble because the way that I chose to know or learn about something was to take things apart. I had pieces of pens all over my room because I took them apart and lost the small objects that made the pens work. I was fascinated by people and what made them work but I couldn't take them apart like I could a pen. I was also too shy to ask them questions so I had to let my imagination take over. Later on, when I stopped being a fussy eater, my curiosity led me to taste just about anything that could be tasted. Sometimes, the food tasted good and, other times, oops.

My curiosity led to journalism school because I figured that I could get paid to be nosy. I could learn something about everything, which would be great because it would satisfy both my curiosity and my short attention span. 

After journalism school, I discovered that jobs were hard to come by and I had to do just about everything, in addition to journalism. As a freelance journalist, I've written about road reconstruction, toxic pollution, cancer survivors, artists, musicians, farmers, library directors, and more. Outside of journalism, I learned something about horticulture and became a gardener. I traveled to Guatemala and to Ecuador and I learned Spanish. When I traveled, I realized that wanderlust was a part of curiosity. It was the fascination of experiencing other cultures first hand. In Ecuador, I had the opportunity to stand on the equator, with one foot in the northern hemisphere and one foot in the southern hemisphere. I planted trees in Ecuador and I hope that I left something that is still growing and thriving.

So... today... this stream of consciousness... I need to bring me up to date because Ecuador was six years ago now. Today, I walked to the farmers market and then I went to Buffalo to visit the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers facility, where there was a celebration of the 200th anniversary of the groundbreaking for the Erie Canal.
Black Rock Lock

View from the footbridge over the
Black Rock Lock
The facility is located at the Black Rock Lock. It was an engineering wonder when it was first built back more than 100 years ago by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers so that large ships could avoid the swift currents of the Niagara River. It replaced a much smaller lock that was built in 1833. That's how long it took for the Erie Canal to be built. Construction started in 1817 and was completed in 1833. Anyway, I'm going back to the Black Rock Lock in a few weeks for a more in-depth visit so come back to visit this blog.

Question of the day: What of your traits would you call a treasure?

The 52-week photography project: water

The topic for week 29 of the 52-week photography project is "water." man made pond Approximately 71 percent of the earth is co...