weekly photo challenge: illumination

A visit to the newly opened Chihuly Museum in Seattle left me breathless. With mouth open, I wandered through the rooms oohing and aahing at the fantastical glass sculptures which were a testament to Chihuly’s genius. Could the inventors of glass ever imagine the majestic heights to which their creation would one day soar?

Awed by the creations at Chihuly's Museum in Seattle.

Awed by the creations at Chihuly’s Museum in Seattle.

 

…i wonder…don’t you?

………hugmamma.

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the salmon are here!…the salmon are here!

No salmon met with a more uproarious welcome than those returning to spawn…and die…in our small town this past weekend. If we could only bottle “Salmon Days” and sprinkle its contents over the country, we might see an upturn in the overall economy. There seemed no end to the numbers of customers…browsing…and buying…from the vendors selling food and crafts. My husband and I agreed we’d not seen so many people when we frequented the festival some years ago. Perhaps the dry, sunny weather was a contributing factor.

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We wandered the backroads and main roads of downtown, eyeing booth after booth of delectable offerings. Flavorful aromas tickled our noses. I could’ve eaten one of almost everything sold. Instead I stepped into the first short line I saw, and got a “kids hot dog.” All the other dogs were foreign…Polish sausageGerman bratwurst and the like. The cashier informed me , rather snippily, when I asked for a regular hot dog, that the “kids hot dog” was it. Okay, I thought…everyone should know that.

I made the mistake of ordering curly fries to go with my dog. At $7 a pop, I got more than I bargained for…a large block of deep-fried, high cholesterol boosters! A passerby stopped to comment “That’s a block of fries!” To which I responded “I’d no idea what I was in for!” We both laughed, as did others around us.

Hubby and I polished off half the fries, giving the rest to a family of 5, three of them teens. They happily accepted, their mouths too full of the fries they’d already finished to thank us. No matter! My mom’s motto of Waste not; want not!” was furthered. That made me feel good.

It wasn’t easy taking pictures with people coming and going from all directions. Most paid no heed to my stopping to set up a shot. They kept on walking. A few apologized, or waited. I told them not to worry, that they should keep on going. After all, I was trying to remain inconspicuous. I didn’t want folks objecting to my photographing them, or their wares. Crafters are very wary of having their ideas stolen. I don’t blame them, having been one myself for many years.

Of course dogs were welcome. Most seemed okay with the idea of wending through legs and strollers. Some led; others let their owners do the leading. Some had to be coaxed. Some looked like they wanted off their leash to go bounding hither and yon of their own accord. Now that would’ve been a sight!

The salmon…what about the salmon? I’ve never known the fish to care about all the hoopla that surrounds them. They lie in the bottom of the creek doing their thing, unaware of all the prying eyes trying to spy what exactly it is the salmon are doing. Kids are curious. Adults explain the best they can. Docents are nearby to offer information. I’m with the salmon…

…we’re just doing our thing…they’re swimming and spawning…i’m pointing and shooting…with my trusty little, red, canon…

………hugmamma.

365 photo challenge: fancy

Venice provided a treasure trove of handicrafts by the locals. The fanciest among them were, of course, the masks. They were gorgeous! Unfortunately photographs were not allowed to be snapped in some of the more elaborate shops…for fear of copycat creations. Of course I understood. But a couple of crafters were more than agreeable to my request. In fact, I wrote of my experience with one of the young women with whom I had an immediate connection. My ballerina daughter, for whom I was purchasing a mask, was the common denominator. You can read about my affection for the charming lady with the pointe shoes in a venetian stranger at https://hugmamma.wordpress.com/2010/08/08/a-venetian-stranger/


…venetian fancy…for your viewing pleasure………hugmamma.

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“same sky,” empowering women

Economically empower a woman—you change her, her family, her community, her country… and eventually, the social & economic fabric of the entire world.

On Inside Edition last night, not a program I usually sit and watch, more like I glance at the screen as I’m walking through the living room. When something is of interest though, I’ll sit on the edge of the closest chair. If it’s worth watching, I may settle in for a few minutes. Mention of “Same Sky,” an organization that helps empower the women of Rwanda caught my eye. So I gave my full attention to the broadcast.

In 1994, 800,000 Rwandans were massacred. During this genocide, women were enslaved as sex victims. As a result they were inflicted with the HIV virus. Bearing children, these new mothers were unable to care for their offspring because they suffered the effects of the disease. Filmmaker Francine Le Franc was moved to help these women help themselves, and their families. Le Franc began “Same Sky,” a cooperative wherein the women learned to crochet. With their newfound skill, they were able to make beaded jewelry. The necessary tools are shipped from the U.S., and the finished pieces shipped back for sale in retail stores, and at home parties, and trunk shows. 100%of the proceeds are put back into the business, thereby enabling more women the opportunity to participate.

Le Franc decided “Same Sky” was a befitting name for the business venture, because ALL women live under the same sky. “They see the same stars and the same moon. Every woman. One dream.” TV host Deborah Norville remarked, “And they’re sold for a profit. This is not a charity operation.” Le Franc added “It’s a trade initiative, not an aid initiative. It’s a hand up, not a hand out.”

Check out the SAME SKY website for further information, and see familiar faces, like those below, who have joined in supporting the cause. The jewelry may be a little pricey for most of us, but for an extra special gift, they might just work. Nonetheless, we can join in celebrating the self-liberating, empowerment of these women of Rwanda…hugmamma.

Halle Berry in Seafoam     

Goldie Hawn in Butterscotch and Jade Green

Ben Affleck in Men's Wrap

Katie Couric in Clear Sky

Ann Curry in Caviar

Chelsea Clinton in Seafoam

Fran Dresher in Fire Red

Meryl Streep in Starry Night

Queen Latifah in Chocolate Brownie

Jesse Jackson in Men's Wrap

Joan Collins in Fire Red and Starry Night

Geena Davis in Sky Blue

Donna Karen in Fire Red (photo by Joe Kohen/Getty Images)

“blog buddies,” getting it…finally

Figuring out how “blog buddies” works has been a bit of a mystery. But I think I’m finally getting the hang of it. It seems to be a matter of finding bloggers with whom I share common interests, and once found, trying to establish continuing dialogue. I’ve begun doing that with a couple of sites, by growing the conversation. It’s not easy keeping several conversations going at the same time. But it is fun, once you begin. I’m sure I’ll find the technical components that make it easier to check in with everyone, without having to click in all the time. Takes me a little bit, but I eventually manage. Good exercise for growing brain cells, and staving off Alzheimer’s.

The first blogger who taught me about being a blog buddy was Scriptor Obscura. A knowledgeable techy, she was the first to leave regular comments and “likes” on my posts. I was very touched when she asked to run some of them on her blog. She allowed me to decide which they should be, but I left the decision with her, emailing those she “liked.” Not all mind you, I didn’t want to overrun her site. As passionate as me about causes, Scriptor Obscura minces no words in her support of issues. A person less than half my age, I admire her conviction to promote compassion for those less fortunate.

Another blogger with whom I’ve begun a conversation is jeanne’s blog. I just learned that she and I share a love of antiques, hunting them down, owning, and cherishing great finds. Her blog’s photo header displays 2 adorable lhasa apsos or shitzus, not sure which. I had a shitzu, years ago, named Sushi. She was the sweetest, smallest dog. Loved her to pieces. Jeanne’s gardens are lovely, like an oasis. Mine will be, once the last dregs of winter pull up stakes and leave. She also shares recipes, which shows a love of cooking, another interest of mine. She’s gotten me started doing book reviews. And the lady has a compassionate spirit, as is demonstrated in inspirational messages she posts.

Image representing Etsy as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

The Daily Dabbler is another blog with whom I’ve begun another conversation. It’s centered around crafting, a shared interest of ours. Both dabblers in creating things, I think we both realize making a living at it is best left to the professionals, not amateurs like ourselves. Nonetheless it’s fun to check out the creative offerings on ETSY, where all manner of beautiful crafts are sold.

My French friend has shared so much of herself in my interviews with My English Thoughts. Besides our love of travel, though we’ve both not the kind of time or money to globe trot, we have the commonality of the theatre, where she works, and my daughter performs. I can understand the trials and tribulations she must endure in such a unique occupation, because of those my daughter herself has endured. But I’m sure they would both say that there’s also something magical about the stage, especially behind-the-scenes. What’s also captivating about Isa is her simplicity. She seems to “go with the flow,” dealing with life as it presents itself. At this stage in my life, taking life as it comes is less stressful. My friend from France has learned it at a young age. Kudos to her!

I’m getting to know other bloggers as well. Random Thoughts from Mid-Life speaks my language, although much better, I think. An excellent writer who expresses herself so clearly, with seeming understatement. By contrast, I think my words explode on the page. But we’re different people, with different messages. Learning from others is always good, great in fact. And I’ve a lot to learn.

Space Buddies

Image via Wikipedia

Pet lovers such as those who blog at The (mis)Adventures of Sage, and Lifewith4cats remind me of my own four-legged family, and how much joy they bring their human family. Never underestimate the healing power of animals. They give so much of themselves, asking so little in return. And they get me up and exercising, even when I’d rather be lazy and blogging. A walk with Mocha, or running down the hallway with Sitka and Juneau, or crouching on all fours to stroke Sunkist, remind me that I too need to move about to keep my joints oiled. And how they make me laugh, watching some of their antics. ha, ha.

So I take my hat off to all who’ve nurtured their own communities of blog buddies. It’s an art form which when begun, takes thought and effort to maintain. But the rewards of connecting with like souls is immeasurable. I encourage you to visit these blogs mentioned above, and I’ll let you know of other blog buddies with whom I start a dialogue.

writing is fun…sharing with others enhances the enjoyment…hugmamma. 

“point, and shoot!”

Had a great “date day” with my hubby. After a 20-25 minute drive to a massage appointment that turned out not to be until next weekend, we headed into Seattle.

Recent events of the last several weeks had me rescheduling appointments. Unfortunately I didn’t make the changes where they counted, on my calendar. Seniors know we have to write everything down. I forgot to do that, so we were surprised when a note on my massage therapist’s door said “Closed. Returning at 1 p.m.” Like a scrabble game, my brain started rearranging my thoughts and came up with “OMG! What date is this?” After being told, by my husband, that it was March 5th, we burst into laughter at my senior moment. “Oh well,” I said, “the ride through the countryside was beautiful. Now we’ll be able to enjoy the urban jungle of the city.” And off we went.

The primary purpose of our trip was to see about getting tickets for the musical, “Billy Elliott.” Online tickets were pricey, and the available seats didn’t look good. As always the “doubting Thomas,” I wanted to stand at the box-office window, ask the person sitting there for the prices, and look at the seating chart. I also wanted to query her as to her thoughts about the location of the seats. Which seats are better, these or those? I prefer the human touch, over the computer “clicks.” Call me old-fashioned, or old-school, or just old. It’s a generational thing, whatever you call it.

Pike Place Market in Seattle

Image via Wikipedia

After finding out that the box-office was only open Mondays through Fridays, we cheerily wandered down the street toward Pike Place Market. My hubby will return and check out the ticket situation. If we see “Billy Elliott,” fine. If not, the movie version of several years ago suffices.

As we wandered down sidewalks overflowing with Saturday shoppers, I decided to capture images with my camera. I was fascinated with shops along the way. At Barney’s New York, I stopped to take photos of words boldly written across their over-sized windows. They spoke of backstage happenings. Of course I was captivated.

My daughter’s often spoken of things that occur behind the scenes at ballet performances. One particular incident involved a fellow, male dancer carrying her from the stage “wings” where she was crouching in pain, backstage to the physical therapist’s station, where the “charley-horse” in her calve muscle could be checked out. This prevented my daughter from dancing in the finale. With the help of female dancers gathered around, her costume was quickly removed, and her understudy was just as quickly shoved into it. And as the saying goes, it was “on with the show.”

The sun’s warmth felt glorious! My husband kept up with me as I wend my way in and out of the crowd, stopping to snap pictures of Macy’s windows with mannequins in funky

outfits, a boutique window with artsy graphics, a “Chocolate” shop I’d never noticed on previous visits.

Everything looks delicious when I don’t have to dodge raindrops. I lingered everywhere, on curbsides, in the cozy courtyard of a small hotel near Pike Place Market, and then, of course, the market itself.

People were everywhere, soaking up the unique sights, smells and sounds of food booths, craft booths, flower booths, produce stalls, fish stalls. My absolute favorite is the vendor who sells fresh-roasted nuts. I never leave without a pound of her cashew nuts. Today, I also purchased a pound of toffee-covered nuts for my husband’s “sweet-sour tooth,” a mixture of peanuts and hazelnuts. These nuts are never a disappointment! And I’m a nut aficionado. I love cashew chicken, goobers, “turtles,” chocolate-covered macadamia nuts, almond rocha, almond joy, and on and on.

Making our way back from where we came, the downtown area, I turned my camera on passersby. People fascinate me, all kinds. I wanted to capture Seattlites, although I’m sure they weren’t all city-dwellers. Nonetheless, when I asked if I could photograph them, I said it was to let readers of my blog see the people of Seattle. All but one responded with smiles and nods of agreement.

I’m sure I startled those on the other side of window fronts, a chef preparing ingredients, a couple of guys eating lunch,  and a Sephora makeup artist doing her thing. Caught up in playing amateur photographer, I approached a mother and daughter, a woman waiting outside a shop with her luggage, sales people in the coolest, new clothing store, “All Saints…,” and a street musician.

I was delighted to buy the street newspaper, “Real Change,” from an amiable homeless man. But another homeless person, an elderly woman, stopped me dead in my tracks. I’d never seen a woman who looked like a school teacher, or a librarian, or an office worker, leaning up against a lamp-post, plastic bags gathered around, dressed in an oversized, yellow, rubber raincoat with a long, green scarf snuggly wrapped about her head, cup in hand, begging. Wanting to “tell” her story, I asked if I could take a picture of her. Eyeglasses cast a shadow, while a small smile softened the blow of her emphatic “no,” in response. As we stood, a guy who looked to be in his late 20s, early 30s, pressed a plastic bag containing a boxed lunch into the woman’s grateful hands. He was on his way, before she fully mouthed her words of thanks. Oblivious to my presence, she hungrily removed the bag’s contents, murmuring how she really needed the food. As I pressed a $5 bill into her free hand, her eyes widened in disbelief. I can only imagine that she felt today was a good day. But as I walked away, I wondered about her tomorrows.

My husband said it best when he declared of me…”You dance to the beat of a different drummer.”

he’s right…i come up with my own “choreography”…hugmamma.

“laughter,” always heart healthy

You might think my friend Sylvia sits at her computer all day, laughing. I can assure you she doesn’t. Her house is immaculately kept. She knits up creations that could make her wealthy if she didn’t give them away. She and Jim pet sit without hesitation. They’re also active participants in their retirement community, socializing, as well as helping others in need. Sylvia is the last of her generation, I’m sure, to hand write letters and Christmas cards, in beautiful calligraphy. And the lady has monumental health issues with which she deals daily, none of which stops her from living her best life. Needless to say, she’s a great role model, with her no-nonsense attitude.

Sylvia may not “get” the ins and outs of the internet, but she does relish its entertainment value. She shared the following with me, another gem from her British network. It took me a couple of reads to “get” it. My daughter, on the other hand, burst into laughs immediately. Go figure.

Should a Child Witness Childbirth? (Here’s your answer.)

Due to a power outtage, only one paramedic responded to the call. The house was very dark, so the paramedic asked Kathleen, a 3-year-old girl, to hold a flashlight high over her mommy so he could see while he helped deliver the baby.

Very diligently, Kathleen did as she was asked. Heidi pushed and pushed and after a little while, Connor was born. The paramedic lifted him by his little feet and patted him on his bottom. Connor began to cry.

The paramedic then thanked Kathleen for her help and asked the wide-eyed 3-year-old what she thought about what she had just witnessed. Kathleen quickly responded. “He shouldn’t have crawled in there in the first place…spank him again!”

If you don’t laugh at this one, there’s no hope for you.

guess there’s some hope for me…since i took a couple of seconds…hugmamma.

in-laws, like siblings

Unlike my own siblings who were older and not living at home during my childhood years, my husband’s 11 brothers and sisters were very much present during the 3 years we dated, and the early years of our marriage. Because my husband was the eldest and we were a couple, it seemed as though his siblings were mine also. And the respect and admiration they had for him, was extended to me by virtue of our relationship. That was different from being the youngest in my family, where I had to mind the wishes of my brothers and sisters. I reveled in the role of  “big sister,” and I couldn’t have asked for a more welcoming, loving, fun brood of in-laws.

  • My age, Michael was the bronzed, Greek god of myths, who surfed and dated Miss Hawaii’s, one being the niece of Hawaii’s governor at the time. Glad I was never competing for his attention, I relished the position of future sister-in-law instead. But through the years, my brother-in-law has aged into a soft-spoken, humble man of spiritual substance, happily married for many years.
  • A year younger than me, Kathy was a beauty who turned heads. While the details are fuzzy, I do remember having driven her in my car to a rendezvous with a young man, after she climbed out of her bedroom window, unbeknownst to her parents. I don’t think they ever found out, until after I was safely married to their son.
  • Twins John and Mary were usually out with friends, so that I was less familiar with them. Both attractive, they seemed ensconced in a world of beautiful, fun-loving, party people. At the time, I felt they were so totally out of my league. Thank goodness middle-age levels the playing field.
  • Homemaker Julie has always been the surrogate mom. Even at a young age, she seemed to relish cooking, cleaning, supervising, counseling. She always did it from love, never out of obligation or for mercenary reasons. So it didn’t surprise me when she rose to Director of Revenue Services at a renowned, boutique hotel on Waikiki Beach. 
  • Dan is a man with a big heart for his wife and 4 daughters. Nothing is too much for his bevy of lovely women. In his younger years, I saw little of him, since he was a teenager who kept to himself, as most young men that age do.
  • Cindy has always been a sweetheart, with a smile as big and open as her generous personality. Things may have frazzled her from time to time, but I never noticed. Her husband knows he’s a very lucky man for having won, and kept, her heart these many years.
  • I don’t remember Louise’s younger years, except that I was told she looked most like my husband when he was young. But in recent years we’ve enjoyed a great camaraderie with she and her husband, one based upon good-natured teasing and laughter.
  • A handsome, little boy Richard captured my heart with his sweetness and adulation. He seemed to treasure the times my husband and I involved the youngest siblings in crafts we would make as Christmas gifts, or goodies we would bake for the family, or on outings where we would take them along. He was like a little brother who always wanted to be at our side.
  • Rambunctious Lily was always heard AND seen. Her wide eyes and large smile readily admitted to mischievousness. She had no patience for fools; she still doesn’t. She and her husband have made life fun for their 3 sons and 1 daughter, all beautifully raised to be respectful of their elders. My husband and I always enjoy hilarious times when we visit with Lily and her family, no matter how infrequently it may be.
  • The youngest, Pat, will always have a special place in my heart because she and I share the last rung on the family “ladder.” My husband is glad that he’s becoming better acquainted with his youngest sibling, 13 years his junior. Again, it’s nice when older age “levels the playing field.” My most vivid memory of Pat as a child of 2, was when she climbed onto my lap upon our first meeting. While I chatted with others in the family, getting to know them better, she kept trying to put her hand inside the front of my shirt. I’m sure I was blushing, as I kept trying to stop her. I think my husband finally came to my rescue, taking his sister into his arms. I thought she was cute then, I still think she is now.

my in-laws have always been generous, and loving…hugmamma.