Thursday, October 28, 2021

10 Questions and Answers

 On Swap-Bot, there is a swap with ten questions. Below are the questions and my answers.

In one sentence, how would you describe yourself? 

I am a creative, introverted person who loves my family, learning, and volunteering that helps people in need, animals, and the environment. 

Meeting Olivia in China a couple of days before we formally adopted her. 
November 2003.

Three generations of women and girls are in this photo.

What’s your favorite way of travel? 

Domestically, I enjoy driving. Driving gives me an opportunity to go at my own pace, explore backroads and places off the beaten path, and visit people and places I couldn't do if I traveled by airplane or train. 

Sophia and Olivia are at a farm stand in Rhode Island.
We drove throughout six states in New England in September 2011.

Internationally and to further domestic destinations, I enjoy flying. It gets me to a destination quicker so that I can spend more time enjoying the place I want to visit rather than spending time on a boat/cruise ship. 

We flew to Alaska in April 2019 for Sophia's graduation trip.
It made sense to fly for this trip rather than driving from Minnesota 
and then going through Canada to get to Alaska.

What is your favorite book? 

My favorite book is actually a children's book called Miss Rumphius. Written by Barbara Cooney, this story is actually based on a real person - Hilda Hamlin - who was often called "The Lupine Lady." 

Hilda is partly responsible for the beautiful lupines throughout Maine’s countryside in early summer. She is from Bristol, England, and arrived in the United States in 1904, at the age of 15. She attended Smith College, married, and had three sons. 

In 1929, however, she left her husband in Paris, and returned to Smith College to audit classes and live in Christmas Cove, Maine, during the summer. It was during this time (she was now in her sixties) that she began planting lupine seeds imported from her native England. (They are used there primarily to stabilize the soil) 

Every August, she cut lupine stalks and shook out their seeds over wider and wider spaces and land.

Soon she began putting seeds in her pocket when she walked to the post office and strewed them along the roadside. She spread the seeds in secret, rarely telling anyone about her obsession with lupines. Although some of her friends knew, the majority of people never knew she did this. 

Miss Rumphius ends with these words: “You must do something to make the world more beautiful.” I have tried to do this - well before reading this book. This book, though, reinforces one of my goals in life. 

One of many trees I've planted at our farm. 

The other reason why I like this book is that there are some strong, positive themes in the book - the most important one being that every person has to determine what they want to do with their life, and they can have a long-lasting impact on the world. Other themes in Miss Rumphius are female independence, singleness, and the impact that travel can have when learning about cultural diversity.

Sophia and I playing gongs at an event in St. Paul.

What was your first job? 

My first job was when I was 12 years. I was a babysitter making about 75 cents per hour. 

The wage I received for one hour of babysitting in 1978.

Eventually, the rate when up to $1 per hour. If I received $1.25 per hour - I felt like the family was very generous. 

How are you feeling right now? 

I am feeling tired for some reason, despite getting relatively good nights of sleep. 

How has 2021 been for you so far? 

2021 has gone by way too quickly, especially these last few months. This is Olivia's senior year of high school/homeschooling. She's taking three PSEO courses which are preparing her for college next year.

Olivia at the pumpkin patch on October 1, 2021.

Sophia is a junior in college already and will be traveling abroad from the first week in January to the first week in May. 

Sophia at the Twin Cities Corn Maze on October 9, 2021.

I had hoped to do way more with the girls this school year, yet the days seem to be slipping by.

What country would you like to visit? 

I would like to visit Iceland someday to see the waterfalls.

What is your next dream holiday destination? 

We will be going to England and Scotland for Olivia's high school graduation trip. Paige has frequent flyer points and hotel points so the majority of the airline tickets and hotels are covered. The last time I was in England was with my parents and sister when my sister was studying abroad. It was my senior year of college - so 1988. I've never been to Scotland so I'm excited to see what that country is like. 

What would you like to know more about? 

I would like to know why one of my dogs (Cooper) is losing his fur. The vet says allergies. However, he has been on allergy medicine (Benadryl and Apoquel) since the Summer. He also has been on medication for a skin infection (too much scratching) and a steroid. 

Cooper in June 2021.

I feel like it is something other than allergies or a seriously bad case of allergies that are not responding as much as it should to medications. 

What do you try to do consistently?

I try to walk the dogs when the weather is good. With four dogs, I take them in groups of two. Typically, Cooper and Scooby walk together, and then Aspen and Danny walk together. Each walk is about 45 minutes long, so it works out to be about 90 minutes of exercise for me. The dogs get about 2 or 2.1 miles of walking per day, and I get about 4 to 4.2 miles each day. 

Danny and Aspen are on a walk on October 27, 2021.

For the most part, Spring, Fall, and early or late Winter are the best times to walk the dogs. The heat and humidity of Summer is too challenging for the dogs as is the snow and ice on the dogs' paws during the mid-Winter. The Winter temperatures, as well, can get dangerously cold on some days. 

Scooby and Cooper are on a walk on February 24, 2020.

With those exceptions, walking the dogs is something that I enjoy and that I aim to do consistently.  

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Composer Study - George Frideric Handel

George Frideric Handel, a German-British Baroque composer, was born on February 23, 1685, and died on April 14, 1759. He was well known for his oratorios, anthems, concerti grossi, operas, and organ concertos. 


According to Wikipedia, "Handel received his training in Halle and worked as a composer in Hamburg and Italy before settling in London in 1712, where he spent the bulk of his career and became a naturalized British subject in 1727. He was strongly influenced both by the middle-German polyphonic choral tradition and by composers of the Italian Baroque. In turn, Handel's music forms one of the peaks of the 'high baroque' style, bringing Italian opera to its highest development, creating the genres of English oratorio and organ concerto, and introducing a new style into English church music. He is consistently recognized as one of the greatest composers of his age."

He was quite ambitious: Handel started three commercial opera companies to supply the English nobility with Italian opera. Wikipedia states, "In 1737, he had a physical breakdown, changed direction creatively, and addressed the middle class and made a transition to English choral works. After his success with Messiah (1742), he never composed an Italian opera again. His orchestral Water Music and Music for the Royal Fireworks remain steadfastly popular." Messiah is, by far, among the most famous oratorios in history. 

Towards the end of his life, he was almost blind. He died a very rich and respected man, and was given a state funeral at Westminster Abbey. For a period of 30 years of his life, Handel composed more than 40 opera serias. 

Since the late-1960s, people have become more interested in Handel's music. Winton Dean, a musicologist, wrote, "Handel was not only a great composer; he was a dramatic genius of the first order." His music was admired by Classical-era composers, especially Beethoven and Mozart.

Olivia listened to four pieces by Handel, and her comments about them are noted below.

- I feel like it is something that it is a bit of a march
- Maybe it is something that would be played during a funeral march.
- Now it changed. This would be the part that would be played while the coffin is being lowered. 
- It is an interesting piece. There are a lot of instruments in it. 

- I have heard this. We have sang this on occasion at church.
- It is a little fast-paced for me.
- (As a side note, this was the song played at the end of my Dad's funeral - Olivia's grandpa). "I don't remember that." 
- I don't see it as a funeral song. Maybe that is the point, though. 
- If there were not words to it, I would listen to it. 

The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba - from the oratorio Solomon (1749)
- It definitely sounds like they are preparing for something. 
- The pace of the song is fast.
- It's a happy, rushed mood.
- I think I like the first song - Sarabande - the best still. 

- Definitely sounds like something I've heard.
- It sounds like the first one with the instruments used. 
- It sounds like something you would hear at a dance.
- This is a nice song. 
- There's some repetition. It makes it easier to learn how to play. 

Friday, October 15, 2021

Poetry/Poet Study - Anne Sexton

During September, Olivia learned about Anne Sexton and read six of her poems. 

Anne Sexton (born Anne Gray Harvey; born on November 9, 1928 and died on October 4, 1974) was an American poet known for her highly personal, confessional verse. In 1967, she won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry for her book Live or Die.  

For much of her life, Sexton suffered from severe bipolar disorder, with her first manic episode taking place in 1954 (when she was 26 years old). After a second episode the following year, she met Dr. Martin Orne, who became her long-term therapist at Glenside Hospital. Orne encouraged Anne to write poetry. Through her work, Sexton wrote and disclosed her struggles with mental illness. Sexton also included important yet overlooked topics that touched on the overall experience for a woman. 

Below are six poems written by Anne Sexton and Olivia's thoughts:


Inside many of us
is a small old man
who wants to get out.
No bigger than a two-year-old
whom you'd call lamb chop
yet this one is old and malformed.
His head is okay
but the rest of him wasn't Sanforized?
He is a monster of despair.
He is all decay.

He speaks up as tiny as an earphone
with Truman's asexual voice:
I am your dwarf.
I am the enemy within.
I am the boss of your dreams.
No. I am not the law in your mind,
the grandfather of watchfulness.
I am the law of your members,
the kindred of blackness and impulse.
See. Your hand shakes.

It is not palsy or booze.
It is your Doppelganger
trying to get out.
Beware . . . Beware . . .

There once was a miller
with a daughter as lovely as a grape.
He told the king that she could
spin gold out of common straw.
The king summoned the girl
and locked her in a room full of straw
and told her to spin it into gold
or she would die like a criminal.
Poor grape with no one to pick.
Luscious and round and sleek.
Poor thing.
To die and never see Brooklyn.

She wept,
of course, huge aquamarine tears.
The door opened and in popped a dwarf.
He was as ugly as a wart.
Little thing, what are you? she cried.
With his tiny no-sex voice he replied:
I am a dwarf.
I have been exhibited on Bond Street
and no child will ever call me Papa.
I have no private life.
If I'm in my cups the whole town knows by breakfast
and no child will ever call me Papa
I am eighteen inches high.
I am no bigger than a partridge.
I am your evil eye
and no child will ever call me Papa.
Stop this Papa foolishness,
she cried. Can you perhaps
spin straw into gold?
Yes indeed, he said,
that I can do.
He spun the straw into gold
and she gave him her necklace
as a small reward.
When the king saw what she had done
he put her in a bigger room of straw
and threatened death once more.
Again she cried.
Again the dwarf came.
Again he spun the straw into gold.
She gave him her ring
as a small reward.
The king put her in an even bigger room
but this time he promised
to marry her if she succeeded.
Again she cried.
Again the dwarf came.
But she had nothing to give him.
Without a reward the dwarf would not spin.
He was on the scent of something bigger.
He was a regular bird dog.
Give me your first-born
and I will spin.
She thought: Piffle!
He is a silly little man.
And so she agreed.
So he did the trick.
Gold as good as Fort Knox.

The king married her
and within a year
a son was born.
He was like most new babies,
as ugly as an artichoke
but the queen thought him in pearl.
She gave him her dumb lactation,
delicate, trembling, hidden,
warm, etc.
And then the dwarf appeared
to claim his prize.
Indeed! I have become a papa!
cried the little man.
She offered him all the kingdom
but he wanted only this -
a living thing
to call his own.
And being mortal
who can blame him?
The queen cried two pails of sea water.
She was as persistent
as a Jehovah's Witness.
And the dwarf took pity.
He said: I will give you
three days to guess my name
and if you cannot do it
I will collect your child.
The queen sent messengers
throughout the land to find names
of the most unusual sort.
When he appeared the next day
she asked: Melchior?
But each time the dwarf replied:
No! No! That's not my name.
The next day she asked:
Spindleshanks? Spiderlegs?
But it was still no-no.
On the third day the messenger
came back with a strange story.
He told her:
As I came around the corner of the wood
where the fox says good night to the hare
I saw a little house with a fire
burning in front of it.
Around that fire a ridiculous little man
was leaping on one leg and singing:
Today I bake.
Tomorrow I brew my beer.
The next day the queen's only child will be mine.
Not even the census taker knows
that Rumpelstiltskin is my name . . .
The queen was delighted.
She had the name!
Her breath blew bubbles.

When the dwarf returned
she called out:
Is your name by any chance Rumpelstiltskin?
He cried: The devil told you that!
He stamped his right foot into the ground
and sank in up to his waist.
Then he tore himself in two.
Somewhat like a split broiler.
He laid his two sides down on the floor,
one part soft as a woman,
one part a barbed hook,
one part papa,
one part Doppelganger.

Olivia's thoughts:

- At first it sounded like it sounded like the devil on your shoulder. After listening to more of the poem, it was like listening to a modern story or a modern take on the fairy tale. 

- The Jehovah Witness part stood out. Also the line "Gold as good as Fort Knox" and the part about where she would die and wouldn't see Brooklyn. I wasn't expecting them. I didn't think it was set in the U.S. - with the Jehovah Witness and Brooklyn. It was interesting and something new.



You always read about it:
the plumber with the twelve children
who wins the Irish Sweepstakes.
From toilets to riches.
That story.

Or the nursemaid,
some luscious sweet from Denmark
who captures the oldest son's heart.
from diapers to Dior.

That story.

Or a milkman who serves the wealthy,
eggs, cream, butter, yogurt, milk,
the white truck like an ambulance
who goes into real estate
and makes a pile.
From homogenized to martinis at lunch.

Or the charwoman

who is on the bus when it cracks up
and collects enough from the insurance.
From mops to Bonwit Teller.
That story.

the wife of a rich man was on her deathbed
and she said to her daughter Cinderella:
Be devout. Be good. Then I will smile
down from heaven in the seam of a cloud.
The man took another wife who had
two daughters, pretty enough
but with hearts like blackjacks.
Cinderella was their maid.
She slept on the sooty hearth each night
and walked around looking like Al Jolson.
Her father brought presents home from town,
jewels and gowns for the other women
but the twig of a tree for Cinderella.
She planted that twig on her mother's grave
and it grew to a tree where a white dove sat.
Whenever she wished for anything the dove
would drop it like an egg upon the ground.
The bird is important, my dears, so heed him.

Next came the ball, as you all know.
It was a marriage market.
The prince was looking for a wife.
All but Cinderella were preparing
and gussying up for the event.
Cinderella begged to go too.
Her stepmother threw a dish of lentils
into the cinders and said: Pick them
up in an hour and you shall go.
The white dove brought all his friends;
all the warm wings of the fatherland came,
and picked up the lentils in a jiffy.
No, Cinderella, said the stepmother,
you have no clothes and cannot dance.
That's the way with stepmothers.

Cinderella went to the tree at the grave
and cried forth like a gospel singer:
Mama! Mama! My turtledove,
send me to the prince's ball!
The bird dropped down a golden dress
and delicate little slippers.
Rather a large package for a simple bird.
So she went. Which is no surprise.
Her stepmother and sisters didn't
recognize her without her cinder face
and the prince took her hand on the spot
and danced with no other the whole day.

As nightfall came she thought she'd better
get home. The prince walked her home
and she disappeared into the pigeon house
and although the prince took an axe and broke
it open she was gone. Back to her cinders.
These events repeated themselves for three days.
However on the third day the prince
covered the palace steps with cobbler's wax
and Cinderella's gold shoe stuck upon it.
Now he would find whom the shoe fit
and find his strange dancing girl for keeps.
He went to their house and the two sisters
were delighted because they had lovely feet.
The eldest went into a room to try the slipper on
but her big toe got in the way so she simply
sliced it off and put on the slipper.
The prince rode away with her until the white dove
told him to look at the blood pouring forth.
That is the way with amputations.
They just don't heal up like a wish.
The other sister cut off her heel
but the blood told as blood will.
The prince was getting tired.
He began to feel like a shoe salesman.
But he gave it one last try.
This time Cinderella fit into the shoe
like a love letter into its envelope.

At the wedding ceremony
the two sisters came to curry favor
and the white dove pecked their eyes out.
Two hollow spots were left
like soup spoons.

Cinderella and the prince
lived, they say, happily ever after,
like two dolls in a museum case
never bothered by diapers or dust,
never arguing over the timing of an egg,
never telling the same story twice,
never getting a middle-aged spread,
their darling smiles pasted on for eternity.
Regular Bobbsey Twins.
That story.

Olivia's thoughts:

 - Sounds like that was told INto the Woods - that Cinderella story. Instead of the step-sisters cutting off their toe and heel, it was the stepmother who did that.

- It was also weird that they don't mention how the dad died.

- I like the analogy of where the prince was almost like a shoes salesman. That was funny. 

- This version is interesting. I don't love it, but it's not bad either. 

- I imagine the Grimm version did the same with painting more graphic images.


Jesus Cooks

Jesus saw the multitudes were hungry

and He said, Oh Lord,

send down a short-order cook.

And the Lord said, Abracadabra.

Jesus took the fish,

a slim green baby,

in His right hand and said, "Oh Lord,

and the Lord said,

Work on the sly

opening boxes of sardine cans.

And He did.

Fisherman, fisherman,

you make it look easy.

And lo, there were many fish.

Next Jesus held up a loaf

and said, "Oh Lord,

and the Lord instructed Him

like an assembly-line baker man,

a Pied Piper of yeast,

and lo, there were many. 

Jesus passed among the people

in a chef's hat

and they kissed His spoon and forks

and ate well from invisible dishes. 

Olivia's thoughts: 

- Okay...that was just a little weird. They got the whole part about praying to the Lord for help, but I don't think they had cans of sardines or chef hats.

- There was a weird part about "Abracadabra." It's not what you are expecting God to say. You also aren't expecting God to provide things out of thin air. 

- Depending on how religious some people are, some people may find it funny and others might find it. really offensive. I found it funny, but just a little strange. 


Jesus Dies

From up here in the crow’s nest
I see a small crowd gather.
Who do you gather, my townsmen?
There is no news here.
I am not a trapeze artist.
I am busy with my dying.
Three heads lolling,
bobbing like bladders.
No news,
The soldiers down below
laughing as soldiers have done for centuries.
No news,
We are the same men,
you and I,
the same sort of nostrils,
the same sort of feet.
My bones are oiled with blood
and so are yours.
My heart pumps like a jack rabbit in a trap
and so does yours.
I want to kiss God on His nose and watch Him sneeze
and so do you.
Not out of disrespect.
Out of pique.
Out of a man-to-man thing.
I want heaven to descend and sit on My dinner plate
and so do you.
I want God to put His steaming arms around Me
and so do you.
Because we need,
Because we are sore creatures.
My townsmen,
go home now.
I will do nothing extraordinary.
I will not divide in two.
I will not pick out My white eyes.
Go now,
this is a personal matter,
a private affair and God knows
none of your business.

Olivia's thoughts: 

- Well...this was maybe a little weirder than the last one. (Why?) Just the whole fact that Jesus was dying and he was carrying a normal conversation with the people there. 

- It was strange how this poem was written. I know when he was on this cross that he was okay with it. 

- I guess it makes sense that he doesn't want the townspeople there. 

- I still like the other one - the cooking one - better.


The Witch’s Life

When I was a child
there was an old woman in our neighborhood whom we called The Witch.
All day she peered from her second story
from behind the wrinkled curtains
and sometimes she would open the window
and yell: Get out of my life!
She had hair like kelp
and a voice like a boulder.

I think of her sometimes now
and wonder if I am becoming her.
My shoes turn up like a jester's.
Clumps of my hair, as I write this,
curl up individually like toes.
I am shoveling the children out,
scoop after scoop.
Only my books anoint me,
and a few friends,
those who reach into my veins.
Maybe I am becoming a hermit,
opening the door for only
a few special animals?
Maybe my skull is too crowded
and it has no opening through which
to feed it soup?
Maybe I have plugged up my sockets
to keep the gods in?
Maybe, although my heart
is a kitten of butter,
I am blowing it up like a zeppelin.
Yes. It is the witch's life,
climbing the primordial climb,
a dream within a dream,
then sitting here
holding a basket of fire.

Olivia's thoughts: 

- Definitely sounds nicer than the last one. 

- Interesting that she would yell at the children to get out of her life. I would think that an older lady would say to get off her lawn, but not out of her life. 

- How well does she know them to tell them to get them out of her life? I would think you would need to know someone well enough to tell them to get out of your life. 

- The way that she said her voice was like a boulder. I've never heard anyone describe their voice like that. I have no idea what that would sound like. Maybe deep and heavy. That's all I can think of. 

- Hair like kelp - she has a hair full of seaweed. It reminds me of sandmen that you make on the beach and you'd throw seaweed on top of their heads for hair. I can just imagine her hair. 

- I think everyone has an old lady who is grumpy who lives near them...a grumpy elderly lady more so than a witch.



Blessed snow,

comes out of the sky

like bleached flies.

The ground is no longer naked.

The ground has on its clothes.

The trees poke out of sheets

and each branch wears the sock of God.

There is hope.

There is hope everywhere. 

I bite it.

Someone once said:

Don't bite till you know

if it's bread or stone.

What I bite is all bread,

rising, yeasty as a cloud.

There is hope.

There is hope everywhere.

Today God gives milk

and I have the pail. 

Olivia thought:

- The title sounded nice until you got to the part about bleached flies. Not such a lovely thought. 

- The "each branch wears the sock of God" - I've never heard that before. I don't get it, so I don't really like it. 

- The whole "don't bite till you know what it is" part - is, I don't know. If people bite into chocolate, there is a potential to get something you're not expecting - a fruit, coconut, a nut. There is something inside the chocolate that you're not expecting. 

- Not everyone would agree that when you see snow, you see hope. Most people don't like snow. For me, I don't know if snow brings hope as it brings me joy and happiness. 

- These poems are different than what we've read in the past. They are all different, but in a good way. If there were a bunch of the same ones, that would be boring. The fact that she can tell a story, but as a poem, was fascinating.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Artist/Picture Study - Ansel Adams

Ansel Adams (February 20, 1902- April 22, 1984) was an American environmentalist and landscape photographer. He was best known for his black-and-white images of the American West. 

According to Wikipedia, "Adams was a life-long advocate for environmental conservation, and his photographic practice was deeply entwined with this advocacy. At age 12, he was given his first camera during his first visit to Yosemite National Park. He developed his early photographic work as a member of the Sierra Club."

He helped found Group f/64 which is an association of photographers who like "pure" photography with the use of full tonal range and sharp focus in a photograph.  

Later in his life, the United States Department of the Interior contracted with Adams to make photographs of national parks. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1980 for his persistent advocacy and work which helped expand the National Park system. 

He also was a key advisor in creating the Museum of Modern Art's photography department which secured photography's institutional legitimacy. Adams helped coordinate the photography department's first exhibition. 

In addition to his work in New York at MOMA, Adams co-founded the Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona as well as helped found Aperture, a photography magazine. 

Olivia studied six of Ansel Adam's photographs in October 2020 and shared what she remembered about them. I forgot to post them at that time, so I'm doing that now...a year later. 

Frozen Lake and Cliffs, Sierra Nevada, Sequoia National Park, California, 1927

Olivia remembered:
- In the picture, you see some really big cliffs, but you don't see the top of them. 
- There's a lake in front of them. It almost looks like the water goes to the cliffside.
- There's snow at the bottom of the cliffs, and it looks like it also is sitting on the very small beach.
- There's ice with a little bit of snow sitting on top of the lake. 
- The way the snow is sitting on the beach, you can see the little ridges where it goes up and down. It kind of gives it a staircase kind of look.
- The cliff that is to the left of the snow is narrow at the bottom and gets wider at the top. The rocks at the top are kind of pointed like teeth, so it makes the rock pillar look like a tower. 
- The snow looks like it is going back into a canyon or an opening. 
- The cliffs look like they have been made into sea caves at the bottom.
- When you look at the lake, you can see the ice and snow on top. Because the water is black, it looks like you are looking at the ocean. When you look at an iceberg and water, you can't see everything, but you can see the line where the iceberg and water meets. You know that that the iceberg is bigger than what you see in the air - or above the water. 
- There's a part of the cliff that kind of sticks out in a triangle. One wall kind of goes in by the canyon. The other part of the wall is forming a sea cave. It reminds me of the funny building in New York that is in the shape of a triangle. 
- There's no color. You can see the blacks, whites, and grays. It shows the texture and definition. It gives depth perception. 
- It was a cool photo.
Woman Winnowing Grain, Taos Pueblo, New Mexico, 1929

Olivia remembered: 
- In the picture, there's a big pueblo and in the shadow of it on the left is a woman. On the right side, also in the shadow, is this big wooden structure. 
- The woman is dressed in a shapeless gown that has a rope tied around her waist. It kind of looks like a hospital gown, except it isn't open in the back. She's also wearing pants that look a bit long - like they are bunched up around her ankles or they are that way naturally.
- She has a big, long scarf tied around her head, and she is holding a metal bowl above her head. She's pouring the grain out on a piece of cloth or hide that is in the sun. 
- The pueblo is very big - it looks like there are multiple layers. There are many doors and windows. Some of the doors and windows have wooden frames around them.
- The window that is next to the woman has wooden shutters around it. 
- The ceilings or roofs of the pueblo look like they are made out of the same material - like clay or mud. They are tall or rounded at the top - like chimneys. They may also be pillars - shortish ones - on the roof. 
- There's a clothesline that's on one of the lines that is on the left, but you can't see where it is tied to. On it, is a little dress for a baby or a tiny, short young kind. It is white. 
- At the very top of the pueblo, is the wooden rafters. They are on the inside, but they stick out. There's some on the top level. 
- The wooden structure that's on the right is very tall and one of the support things going horizontal, looks like it has been shaped into a stake (it is pointy at the end). It also looks like there is a platform. It could be the structural beams for another pueblo. 
- There's also a wooden ladder made from trees, leaning on the rooftop of the pueblo.
- It looks like it is maybe the middle of the afternoon or the morning, where the sun is shining. Also, because the woman is putting the grain out, it would suggest that it is morning so the grain can dry throughout the day, when it is the hottest. 
- The ground looks very dusty, so it probably hasn't rained for a bit. 
- The woman's clothes, if it wasn't black and white, look like they would be colorful and light-colored. 

Lake Near Muir Pass, Kings Canyon National Park, 1934

Olivia remembered:
- In the picture, there is a lake and a shoreline. The shoreline is reflected into the water giving it an appearance that the shore is bigger than it actually is.
- There are some mountains and cliffs. It looks like it could be early Winter or early Spring.
- It appears the first part of the shore (where it is lighter and more snow) looks like a ridge. Then there's a hill and cliffs behind it. 
- The area kind of looks like it could be an old site for a volcano. It is very also looks like it could be a gravel pit. 
- In the lake, it looks like it might be a reflection, but you can't see where it is reflecting from. It makes it look like there are big rocks in the water. 
- It kind of has the same texture as the mountain and cliffs - lots of smaller crevices and cracks in it. 
- The way the shore is reflecting on the lake, it makes it look like there are ducks on the lake. 
- Looking at the light of the picture, it looks like it was taken in the middle of the afternoon - so like now (it's 2:05 p.m. on October 7th).
- It doesn't have any blacks. More like dark grays to white for the snow. 
- One of the patches of the snow is in the middle of the shore. It kind of looks like it is in the shape of a "T." 
- It kind of looks like it could be another planet - it looks so barren. There are no trees. You don't see any sign of life. It could be Mars. 
- In the water, with the rocks, some of them kind of rise up a bit. Because there isn't a gradual incline, it kind of looks like an underwater cliff. Kind of like if you stepped off the edge, it would just drop. 
- In the left corner, at the bottom, looks like there would be big, flat slabs of rock. They look very smooth, except for on the top.

Detail, Juniper Wood, Sierra Nevada, 1936

Olivia remembered:
- In the picture, there is a part of a tree. The tree looks like it is a dead tree. It's very bleached and the whitest part of it looks like it stems from a knot in the tree and goes up.
- It is kind of in the shape of a round-ended - kind of a bone, like where the joints connects, like on the femur and where it connects on the kneecap. There are not two points where it connects, though, just one.
- All along the tree are these ridges - maybe the bark that goes up. They are pretty straight. They look like they are fairly deep - either because of the light or because they are deep.
- There are a couple of spots where there are pieces of the wood sticking up or out. 
- You also see a couple of splinters - very think slivers of wood that are sticking out. They probably would give you a splinter. 
- There are a few cracks - small ones and big ones - that go along the ridges and along the white part of the wood.
- At the bottom of the rounded end, there are little pieces of white wood that looks like they were being chipped away - except they are still there.
- That area - the wood looks smooth and worn - like the elements have beaten it or someone sat on it a lot - compared to the rest of the wood where it is rough and natural-looking. 
- You can see a lot of texture in the photo because of the way the shadows fall. 
- The ridges look like they are perfectly straight or pretty close to being perfectly straight from going from the top to the bottom.
- There's really no black in the picture. It looks mostly dark gray to white. 

Roots, Foster Gardens, Honolulu, Hawaii, 1947

Olivia remembered:
- In the picture, there are a bunch of tree roots that look like they could be big boa constrictors or pythons. 
- The way that the tree roots are growing is the way that the snakes would move. 
- Also, looking at the texture in some area, gives the feel of snakeskin.
- The picture looks like it was taken in the morning because the top of the roots is darker and you can see where the water has dripped down on the sides. 
- There is a bunch of Creeping Charlie - just the leaves of it - growing around the roots. It makes it look like there are a lot of little lilypads.
- At the very top of the picture, near the trunk, there's a bunch of mossy grass that's dry. It could have fallen down from a nest. 
- There was also a thing of grass growing in the roots. 
- The Creeping Charlie gives the forest floor a blanketed look and it looks very peaceful.
- You can see the shadows where the tree roots split off from one another. 
- The tree roots look very big - like you could sit on them.
- They have a very interesting way of spreading out. The bark of the tree roots match the tree.

Leaf, Glacier Bay National Monument, Alaska, 1963

Olivia remembered:
- In the picture, there are three kinds of leaves and some pine tree needles that are still on the tree.
- It looks like they were just frosted from the weather. 
- One of the leaves and the one that is in the middle, appears to be a maple leaf.
- The one in the upper left corner looks like it could be two leaves next to one another or poison ivy leaves. 
- The needles are from a pine tree - they kind of look like a white pine because they are very long. 
- Underneath the pine needles on the left side of the picture, there's another leaf and it is much darker than the other ones. It also looks like it is full of some small holes. 
- Also it has a much smoother texture and edging. It has more of a rounded touch than the other leaves that are more jagged.
- On the bottom of the picture, you can see three points and tops of the maple leaves. 
- In the right upper corner, there looks like there's a part of a tree branch. It looks like a twig covered with pine needles. 
- The center of the maple leaf is darker than the rest of the sides. I don't know if it is because some of the frost is melted, or if the leaf below it is putting a shadow on it. 
- You can really see the veins on the maple leaves and those in the left corner. You can definitely see the center veins and the others ones going to the points on the leaves. 
- All the medium-sized veins have small needle-like veins.
- It looks like the leaves on the left have not turned fall colors. It looks like they still have color - that they are green.
- Again, this photo was done more with blacks and white. 

Monday, October 11, 2021

Artist Study - Elisabeth Vigee Le Brun

Elisabeth Vigee Le Brun "may be one of the most successful women artists of all time." She "excelled in a genre that was both exceedingly popular and competitive.  Her portraits of women and children were of particular merit. Her fame, which was almost unrivaled in her own time, survived well into this century. 

History's judgment of Vigee Le Brun has been, on the whole, less than favorable. The fame she enjoys derives largely from the fact that she was the artist most consistently patronized by Queen Marie Antoinette of France. 

Le Brun was born in Paris during the reign of Louis XV. She was the daughter of a minor portriat painter, Louis Vigee, and a hairdresser of peasant origin, Jeanne Maissin. Her father died when she was only 12, but he can be credited with instilling in her a love of painting.

At the age of 19, she was licensed as a master painter by the Academie de Saint Luc. In 1778, the young Mme Le Brun was called to Versailles to paint her first portrait from life of Marie Antoinette. 

Over a period of 12 years, she worked in Italy, Austria, Germany, and Russia. When she returned to Paris permanently she had earned and invested a tremendous fortune. This allowed her to live in comfort for the rest of her life. 

The Marquise de Pezay and the Marquise de Rouge with Her Sons Alexis and Adrien, 1787
National Gallery of Art

Olivia remembered:
- In the picture, there are two women and two kids. 
- The woman on the outside in a blue shiny dress. It looks like satin and when light hits it, it changes color. Her hair is darker than the woman in the middle, but her face makes her look older. 
- The woman in the middle is probably wearing a silk dress too, and it is striped. It is the same style as the previous one. 
- The older child has her arms wrapped around the waist of the woman in the middle. Her hair is more lighter and looks gray, but her face makes her look more youthful. 
- The youngest girl is kind of half on the lap of the woman. She is wearing a white dress with what looks like a purple sash around her waist. 
- The background - it looks like they are on a balcony, and the balcony has roses. It looks like the country is Greece. It looks like it is Greece, except the people aren't dressed in traditional Greek dresses. 
- The sky is quite dark and it gives it a very gloomy look. 
- The bonnets that the women are wearing are strange. They are wrapped around their heads and there are long ribbons down their back. They are just weird. 
- There looks like there is part of a mountain in the background.
- All their cheeks are very rosy. 
- The woman in blue's hand is reaching out towards the younger child. 

Julie Le Brun, 1787

Olivia remembered:
- In the picture, there is a girl wearing a green dress. She has a handkerchief over the top of her head. It looks like it is big enough to go around her whole head and be tied into a little bow.
- She is holding a mirror that has a wooden frame and has details painted on. 
- Her face in the mirror and the way she is holding it do not match. 
- In the mirror, she is looking head on - like she is holding it right in front of her face, rather than how it should be with showing the side of her face.
- The hair that is peeking out of the cap is soft - like baby hair. It is really fine. Her hair is brown. The back of her head looks like there is curly hair.
- On the dress on the arms, there is lace. 
- She has another handkerchief across the front of her dress in a criss-cross style. 
- The whole picture seems to be kind of white or greenish. 
- The cheeks are very rosy.
- In the mirror, I don't think she was smiling very big. The same with the other one. You can't really tell though because her head is tilted. 
- The background is a greenish-brown. Really unattractive. 

Countess Bucquoi, 1793
The Minneapolis Institute of Arts

Olivia remembered:
- In the picture, there is a woman dressed in red. She has a red skirt with a red vest-top, that is possibly long-sleeved that is over a white long-sleeved shirt.
- Again, she has a turban - but not a turban - on her head. You can still see her hair. 
- She has a shawl that is from the silk fabric. It's a lighter, orange-ish red. It's an odd red. 
- There looks like there would be some gold detailing on the edge - like a pattern. It's not real gold...more like gold string. 
- The way her hand is held up - it isn't under her chin, it's to the side. 
- I don't know what she would be reaching for because there's nothing in that direction except plants. 
- It looks like she is next to a water source. 
- A waterfall is in the background.
- The white shirt has a ruffled collar. 
- She looks like she is on some sort of couch or chaise. There are some leaves that are hanging over the side of it. 
- She looks like she is somewhere tropical. 
- The back of the dress is like - you know the stepsisters in the original Cinderella where you have that flat part where you can rest something on it - it's poofed out like that. It looks like there is a bow on it too.
- You don't see much of the sky. It is like a grayish-blue. It looks like it rained and that a rainbow should be coming out, but there isn't. 
- There is a tree in the left-hand corner.  
- There looks like there are mountains in the background. It almost looks like it should be Hawaii for some reason. 
- The cheeks are very rosy. 
- Her hair is brown and gray. It's curly. Almost all the hair in the paintings has been curly. 

The Children of the Baronne D'Esthal, 1772

Olivia remembered:
- In the picture, there are two kids. One looks like she is between the ages of 8-10 and the other looks like she is 6-7.  
-The older one is wearing a red dress with white lace and trim and she has a sash. It's a lace trim.
- She is wearing a black hat with two black feathers and a white feather. It is a very poofy hat. 
- She looks like she is helping the younger one. 
- The younger one is wearing a green dress that is made from satin or silk. She, too, has the white lace trim on it. 
- The older one's dress looks like it could be velvet because it doesn't have the shine to it. I don't think it is cotton, though. 
- The younger one has a white bonnet with pink flowers along the edge of it. 
- They look like they are playing with cards and some paper. 
- There also is a box that they are making or looks like it had the cards in them. 
- Both of their expressions look very serious. 
- Again, the cheeks are very rosy. 
- The necklines seem oddly low. There's also nothing there. 
- It's a plain tan/brown background. It's a boring color. 
- The lace around the older one's neckline also looks like it has flowers on it.
- One of the cards looks like it could be a 6 or 8 of diamonds or hearts because it's red. There also looks like there could be a Jack, Queen, or King. 
- You can't see their hair really. You couldn't see what color hair they had. It looks like they would have light-colored hair, though. 

Marie Antoinette, 1778

Olivia remembered:
- In the picture, there is a woman and she is wearing this really floofy dress that has a lot of bows on it and it looks like it is made out of silk. There are at least four layers that are on top of it. It looks like they are tied up with tassels that below on drapes...those really big tassels. 
- The tassels and detailing are gold or have gold detailing. 
- She is standing next to a table that is covered in a red velvet tablecloth with gold detailing at the bottom. On the table, there looks like there is a blue and gold cushion. 
- On the cushion is a carousel or some sort of decorative little thing. Next to it, is a vase with flowers that are pink and white. 
- In the background, you can see a bit of the sky and also what looks like a big, green curtain. So, I think she is standing on a balcony or near a balcony.
- To the left of her, there is what looks like part of the chair that is covered in the same fabric as the cushion. And, for some reason, the carpet is some being color that is covered with flowers. The flowers are very dull in color. 
- Her hair - it looks like it could be a wig or not. I think it is a wig because it is a gray...a dark gray. On her head is a hat and it looks like it is kind of like a turban. There are blue-gray and white flowers. In the middle, there looks like there is a white one. 
- She is holding a rose or flower in her right hand. On the dress, there is a big white bow in the front of her dress and on each of her sleeves. 
- The dress looks like it is an off-shoulder one. 

Julie Le Brun as Flora, 1799

Olivia remembered:
- In the picture, there is a young lady wearing a white dress. It has a red scarf that is draped over her left shoulder and is under her arm, and is blowing in the wind. 
- On top of her head is a wicker basket full of flowers. Also on her head and in her hair are three red handbands that match the color of her scarf. 
- She appears to be standing on some sort of cliff, as the ocean in the distance seems a little bit down. 
- You can also see some mountains in the background. 
- The sky is blue, but there are a lot of clouds. 
- To the right of her on the ground is a little shrub. Sadly, there are no animals in the shrub. 
- She has a gold armband around her upper right arm and another one on her lower left forearm.
- There is gold detailing around the top part of her dress. 
- One hand is balancing the basket on top of her head. The other one is hanging down. 
- Her cheeks were the rosy red. She's also quite pale. 
- Did I say her hair is dark brown? (No.) Well, it is. And curly.
- The wreath looks like it is made from olive branches. 
- It looks a Greek setting because of the background, her dress, and her armbands. 

Monday, October 4, 2021

My Favorite Photos - September 2021

 Below are some of my favorite photos from September:

Olivia was accepted into Bethel University at the beginning of September. This is her top choice, so she is very happy.

Olivia and I - along with my brother (Jim) and one of his daughters (Addy) - went to Chalk Fest in Maple Grove. 

The chalk drawings were larger than I anticipated and many were three-dimensional.

The one below caught my eye because it is unusual. 

This month, Olivia finished another barn quilt. I helped her with the sketch because it is a different style and much more complex than what she is used to doing. 

The roses have been blooming throughout September. This is a tea rose that I got from Walmart that is for our growing zone. For $8, it was a good deal. 

This is another tea rose...also from Walmart. This one and the one above are very fragrant. 

I like this photo because I got Aspen with one of her stuffed animals - Bunny - that she carries around. They are like her security toys. She also brings them to us when we return to the house after being gone - whether it is 5 minutes or 4 hours.

On September 11th, I coordinated part of the Taco Daze community event. This one was, by far, the best one - according to many people who commented about the event online and in person. One highlight was seeing two Huey helicopters that were flown in the Taco Daze parade. There was a select group of people who were able to see this one take off from a friend's backyard. Almost everyone had cell phones and were doing videos of the take-off. 

At Taco Daze, Minnesota Armored Combat came out to do some demonstrations. It was really impressive to watch how they fight with big swords.

Sophia, in the middle, along with two of her suitemates, took a break from college and helped with the set-up as well as attending the Taco Daze. It was really nice to have them all at home.

Another highlight of the day was watching the firemen's waterball competition. Opposing teams used the water from their hoses to move the silver, metal container to the other team's side. 

To kick-off the Taco Daze parade, I worked with a pilot who had contacts with a group of veterans are pilots. They agreed to do a flyover and then in the last pass over, one of the aircraft would veer off in a different direction t show the missing man formation. 

Sophia, her suitemates, my sister, and I all had a chance to sit in a Huey helicopter that flew over the parade route. It was in the Vietnam War, was damaged, and sold. A veteran who is a pilot bought is, refurbished it, and flies it now. 

The next day, Sunday the 12th, my sister and I went to parade in Osceola - a nearby town.  This unusual costume caught our eye.

On September 15h, Olivia and I went to Bethel for the opening of their science building. We both really enjoyed the event. Our favorite part was seeing the green roof on top of one of the buildings. 

This is a blurry picture, but it is a picture of Bailey galloping through our pasture. It was the last evening she was with us. The following day she and Hoss went back to the Minnesota Hooved Animal Rescue Foundation. Hoss's hooves exceeded what we could provide for him, and our vet and farrier couldn't figure out what was going on and why he was having trouble walking. 

It was a very difficult decision, yet we knew it was the right one since they were a bonded pair. 

This is another photo of Hoss and Bailey together. 

A brighter day happened later in the month when Olivia was accepted into the College of St. Benedict. 

Last week, Olivia and I went on a short hike during "Blue Hour" - the period of time when the sun is below the horizon, yet there is still light. The sky takes on a darkish-blue - almost an indigo appearance.

This is the road in front of our pasture and driveway. There are telephone lines and tall tree silhoutted by the remaining light.

Looking southwest, we could see Venus.

My final photo of September is of my favorite oak tree. It is in the west pasture. Did a visual search on the SEEK app, and it came back as a white oak. Olivia is standing near it and her image gives an idea how large and majestic this tree is. 

It's interesting for me to go back on photos that I took during the previous month and get an idea of what I want to document and remember.