Turtle Tales

One of the local schools was celebrating the children’s book author Dr. Seuss. And so of course I volunteered to come to the school and read one of his many stories. I picked a rather short story “Yertle the Turtle” as it did not have too many tricky verbal passages, and it fit in with my ulterior motive.

So I drew a copy of one of the images in the book. And after I read the story, (a striking tale of hubris) I asked the kids to draw this picture of a turtle. Whenever I have visited any museum in London there are always some students drawing pictures, it seems to be a requirement. I thought that these kids might enjoy having a go at drawing after hearing the story. All of the classrooms were equipt with a fancy AV system that projected this drawing onto a large screen tv. I also drew a simple line drawing of a turtle on the whiteboard (classrooms do not have blackboards and chalk any more). And I asked the various classes that I visited to draw any sort of turtle that they liked for me.

It took real bravery to try and copy the storybook turtle and a few students in each class I visited attempted this. This kid did both sorts of turtles and a bonus cat.

This first grader drew quite a credible turtle (I did show a hat on the sample turtle).

Also by a first grader.

Yet another first grader’s art. He wanted to be sure to include the context of pond and rock while still choosing the simplified turtle picture.

This careful sketch of a realistic turtle was done by a third grader.

I am only showing the pictures that students gave to me. I think some students didn’t like their drawings, that’s why they gave them to me. Other students were so proud of their work that they wanted to share it. The first graders were the most enthusiastic (they thought the story itself was hilarious) and willing to try. The fifth graders were the most reluctant to try, which was sad. I had wanted to share my love of drawing, and I hope that I gave someone encouragement to give drawing a try.

Shadows again

I don’t know why I am obsessed with shadows, but I am. My dictionary (yes an actual physical book which sits next to my computer) first defines a shadow as: A comparative darkness within an illuminated area, especially that caused by the interruption of light by a body or object. Further down the listing it defines shadow as, A mirrored image: to see one’s shadow in a pool (this one does not seem to be as familiar a usage).

So there was another free day at the local museum, and as usual I popped in to see what’s new. And there was an abundance of shadows to be seen in the newest show.

This artist had used found bits of the detritus of life to make art. While the artwork itself was only mildly interesting, the works cast fabulous shadows.

Definitely an interruption of light going on here.

And here as well.

All of the pieces are made of similar stuff, bits and pieces of flotsam wired together, but each casting a lovely shadow of comparative darkness thanks to the illumination of the museum lighting.

Here was my favorite reflection of the day, it features multiple mirrorings of the original thanks to it’s plexiglass box. Repetition and enigma, these are things that add an extra bit of interest to the art, and were probably never intended or anticipated by the artist. But it’s what I see and appreciate when I look at these works.

Horsing around

The horse is a powerful symbol of the West. Easterners rode around in carriages, but Cowboys and (red) Indians preferred the freedom of a horse (also there was a certain lack of paved roads like existed in the East). And when something is such an ubiquitous important symbol, it often finds it’s way into art.

These horses are part of a grouping that celebrates a local developer. Someone added a whimsical touch by decorating each horse with a seasonal ribbon tie. It’s very festive and I hope that they do this for all of the major holidays.

This horse head looks to be old, and also looks as though it was formerly attached to something (a body perhaps?). Today it rests in the yard of M’s uncle, acquiring a new layer of weathering.

While this mysterious horse head awaits it’s place as a piece of art in someone’s home. It’s probably still for sale in this swanky antique store.

This riding horse was also in the antique shop, and I fell in love with it (although not with it’s price). Hey, wait a minute, I once had a tennis racquet like the ones under this horse, surely these can’t be an antique! I guess that tourists will buy anything (they hope).

Of all the horses, this is my favorite, and is the sort that I always wanted to have. Pegasus the flying horse is out there somewhere, just waiting to be tamed by a worthy human (or demi-god). Pegasus is not limited by a little thing like roads, and that is the ultimate in freedom.

Bar rooms

When I was a college student I was often to be found in the bar closest to campus. It featured a jukebox, pizza and cheap beer, all the things a college student favors. The place no longer exists, much to the relief of the neighbors, and a convenience store has taken it’s place (really not the sort of thing one hangs out at). Although I am not a barroom denizen anymore, I do occasionally stop in someplace for a brew or a cider (more likely).

This bar has been around for about 20 years, but I never stopped in until quite recently. Built originally as a neighborhood market in an old neighborhood near downtown, it is very much a hipster sort of place with lots of funky signage (and very good modern food).

This place has existed for less than 10 years in anewish strip mall built in the north part of town. It’s a brewpub, which means that they make their own beer on the premises as well as having other craft beers on tap. It’s a good thing to brew beer, as they do not have to pay the federal tax on it (although this fact does not make the beer any cheaper). The place is dog friendly and serves bacon, so I suppose it is sort of a hipster place as well.

This bar is definitely a hipster hangout, located in downtown (that means there is no parking nearby). They sell various craft beers and pizza. Those things hanging down from the ceiling are beer taps from all the craft beers that they used to carry. This place will soon be history, as the entire building is being converted to condos (flats) for hipsters (they will have to go down the street for a drink).

This bar is the hipster re-creation of a neighborhood tavern in the Midwest. It’s just like the sort of place old guys used to drink in, but with an edgy vibe. They serve the sort of comfort food one used to find in a tavern, chili mac, fried walleye (okay that’s all I ever order there, so I don’t know what else they serve).

I’m sure that they have craft beer, but they also have the sort of brands of beer that ordinary people drink (in Wisconsin or Minnesota), Leinenkugel (which is terrible), Pabst, Hamms and Moosehead (a delicious Canadian beer).

I’m not sure what it means that I end up in hipster sort of places (as I am totally too old, cranky and un-hip to be a hipster). Rather, I guess it means that I like good food and good beer (or cider) and I will go to any place that serves these.

State ments

I love to see a personalized car, and to find out where a person considers home. (I was always baffled by a friend who had lived here for 40 years, which was well over half their life, refer to another state as “home”).

So sometimes one chooses a rather abstract image of their favorite place, like the invisible Michigan mitten, surrounded by the Great Lakes to show their affinity.

This person also chose a somewhat abstract image, it’s the symbol from the Wyoming license plate of a cowboy on a bucking bronco (a male horse).

This sticker features just the outline of the state of Texas, and of course it’s on a pickup truck with a huge tool box (no gun rack, though).

This one has the logo and colors of the major college in the state, perhaps this person is an alumni, or perhaps they just follow the sports team.

Our state flag often appears as a symbol mixed with one’s favorite obsessions. Here is the Colorado alien (from the movie ‘Alien’), ready to attack any humans that stray across it’s path.

The elk perhaps indicates that this person is a hunter (elk is unfortunately delicious) or maybe it’s a sign that they just enjoy the outdoors and the native wildlife.

This person identifies with Denver, the wonky curved building is a symbol of the city, with stylized mountains forming a backdrop. (So what are they doing in this town?)

This person likes Colorado like they like their cat, but their love is for New Mexico (and I certainly share some of this love too).

Road trip

Well I had the opportunity to take a quick road trip, so of course I grabbed it. I tend to be very tense driving and after hours on the road it is hard to unclench my hands from the steering wheel. So I am always glad to tag along when someone else is doing the driving. And where would I go? To New Mexico, my favorite and most frequent place to visit.

It’s 149 miles to the New Mexico border. Once one drives over Raton Pass (elevation 7834 feet) one has a splendid view of the open plains. Unlike many photos that I take where I have to hide the fact that there are scads of people just out of view, there really are no people to be seen. This is part of the empty quarter of the state. This view shows part of Capulin National Park, one of the first landmarks one sees as one enters the state from the north.

There it is, my most photographed landmark of northern NM. I confess that I do get excited every time I see it. Whenever I am there, I am on vacation, so I associate the area with rest and relaxation. If I actually lived there I am sure that I would get tired of all the driving one has to do for shopping, doctors, etc. It really is just a wide spot in the road.

And if one crossed the road, one would be at the original site of the village. The large mesa is Jarosa Mesa (no idea where the name comes from), and the smaller one is Santa Clara Mesa (named after a saint for some reason).

This is the view from M’s uncle’s place. All that stuff lying about is over at the neighbor’s, I think he does a little bit of construction work (or at least he used to). M’s uncle also has plenty of the flotsam of life floating about his yard. It is funny that with all this open space their homes are so close together. Once again it wasn’t hard to crop any people out of the picture, there are under 400 souls in the entire village. I shall miss stopping by if the village gets any smaller, but I will always love the view.

Church suppers

I could count on one hand (and have fingers left over) the number times we went out to eat at a restaurant when I was a child. But the one place where we did go was to church suppers. And so I retain a fondness for this sort of event. Unlike chef-driven restaurants, the food has a certain humble and sincere appeal. Driven by both a fund-raising need, and the desire to please and share, I am happy to be part of the experience.

Pteri went with me to this event, a full fledged church festival, complete with booze, booths of items for sale and dancing. It was a celebration of one’s (not mine though) Greek heritage, so on the menu this day was delicious gyros prepared by members of the congregation and a local restaurant.

This was a fund-raiser for a church school prepared by a parent’s group. This day they were serving my favorite, carne adovada (pork marinated in red chile, then slow cooked and shredded) tacos with refried beans and rice. It doesn’t really look that lovely, but it was quite tasty. They hadn’t counted on the demand for beer however, as it was a rather hot day, and they ran out. 🙁

KODAK Digital Still Camera

This was a different sort of church dinner, prepared by some men from the sister Spanish language church of this congregation. The guys had dug a pit, lined it with rocks, lit a fire to heat up the rocks, then buried the food on the hot rocks to cook it. They had made tamales, potatoes, chicken and pork. This was what they thought of as a perfect church supper back home. As the parent church did not condone alcohol, the men surreptitiously passed a bottle around.

This church food came from an Orthodox church out on the prairie, 7 miles from a small town (which is really far from anywhere). The area was settled by Czech farmers, and although most of them have moved away, lots of old-timers come back for a chance to eat this food. Kielbasa, haluska (some sort of noodle, onion and bacon dish), pierogi (potato and cheese dumplings), cabbage rolls, and borscht (plus some things I don’t know the name of) were on the menu.

And this was what was served at the most recent church supper I attended, with food cooked up by a local family-run restaurant and served by a parent’s group. This restaurant has been in business since 1959, which makes it quite an ancient establishment in this town. And served in a plastic cup was an excellent vintage wine.

It is interesting that all of these meals were based on immigrant/ethnic foodstuffs. All of these varied churches are looking to make a little money (sometimes very little), and provide a place for the community to break bread together. What could be a better excuse to get together?

Still More Windows

I love that people use stickers to personalize their cars. One can go completely insane and personalize one’s car with chrome plating, a custom paint job, an upgraded motor, but all of this runs to serious money. Or one can somehow acquire a little sticker that lets people know what one finds interesting. It’s a little bit of one’s personality on display. Of course I see lots of them as I am driving along, but it is hard to get the traffic to stop so that I might take a picture. So these are various stickers that I noticed as I strolled along in parking lots.

Friends are important, even if they are part of the evil empire.

Nobody here in this car but the chickens. (How do they reach the foot pedals)?

Now wait a minute, I really don’t think the Beatles are members of this family. For one thing, I am fairly certain that the Beatles would be driving a much, much nicer car.

This person has a rather negative attitude about showing one’s family connections. But at the same time, they obviously have a love of stickers. Hmmm, what a conundrum.

Okay, now this person is more on my wavelength. And at this point you are probably wondering what sort of sticker have I put on my car? None. So I remain an enigma.

Still More Shadows

I’m sure that management of the local art museum would be appalled that I often like the shadows cast by art better that some of the art they display. It’s just that the shadows are ephemeral (and sometimes more interesting). In truth most things in life are ephemeral, we just don’t realize it at the time.

I thought this piece was fabulous, as it has not just one, but two of my obsessions: shadows and reflections. I didn’t read the label, so I have no idea why this piece was displayed. So the theme of the room was art by Red Indians (also known as Native Americans, Indigenous Peoples, etc), so it was probably made by an Indian artist.

I considered saving this picture for the series that I have called “What a knob”, but I decided that I really like the shadow version better. And what is so special about this knob? Well, it came from the mansion of the city founder. I suppose that at some point they found a more interesting knob, so this one was consigned to the trash heap, until now.

I love this shadow cast by a Chihuly glass sculpture. It always makes me think of the worms that they put in the bottom of bottles of tequila. But this bit of shadow put me in mind of a pterodactyl (so you know where this post is going next).

Yes, here is a shadow cast by an actual pterodactyl. The painting is supposed to show the ghost of an early miner, hoping to make his fortune in gold or silver (doesn’t look like he was successful). And of course I think the painting is much improved with the addition of the shadow of a pterodactyl, courtesy of the fabulous museum lighting.

Sports

It was time for the annual ice hockey game between the local expensive private college and the expensive private college from the nearby big city. One of my friends is an alumni, so we always go (I’m not an alum from either school, so I root for them both, secretly). We got there early this time rather than arriving at the last minute, so we wandered about the stadium, checking out the offerings.

It is pretty much de rigeur to have giant foam fingers proclaiming that one’s team is number one. This team is actually ranked #3 by whoever ranks these sorts of things, so get with it giant foam fingers.

And what sort of a sporting event would this be if they didn’t sell nachos?

Also available are the other great food groups, hot dogs, popcorn, pretzels, colas and beer (the most important item of the lot).

There are also the rather mis-named cheerleaders. They didn’t actually lead any of the cheers as they were located halfway up in the stands near the band, instead of in front of the crowd. And if what was being chanted was the school cheer, they should probably learn some more polite terms for addressing the opposition.

This time I remembered to get a shot of the action. One could also watch this on a giant television screen instead, as it was being broadcast on the local sports channel.

The school had just recently split from the previous beer company that sponsored advertised was somehow involved with the school, so if one had bazillions of dollars to donate, one could become the new name of the stadium. Just imagine ‘your name here’. 😉