Recyclart

Every once in a while I have to do something creative. I wish I could engage in artistic pursuits more often, because it makes me feel alive and whole. Every time I make something, I wonder why I let so much time pass between projects. The experience is so fulfilling. But, you know, there’s so little time…

I am in the middle of a project that I’ve been working on sporadically for a few months now, and I guarantee that I’ll be blogging about it when it’s done. But in the meantime, with a little help from Lyn, a friend I’ve made through this blog, I’ve stumbled upon an incredible website that I’ll definitely be consulting before all future endeavors. It’s called www.recyclart.org.

This website is a treasure trove of exciting ideas. On its home page, it describes itself as “Creative ideas based on repurposed, recycled, reused, reclaimed, upcycled and restored things!” I’m getting excited just by browsing. I especially love the idea of combining two of my passions: art and recycling. I suspect it’s going to be my source of inspiration for Christmas gifts for years to come.

The website itself is a cool set up, because not only can you search by categories, such as clothes, garden ideas, and home décor, but you can also search by materials. For example, I looked up projects that you can make out of old books, and I found instructions for making clocks, Christmas ornaments, origami wall art like the kind shown below, a stool, a floating book wall, and a bed frame. How cool is that?

From this site you can learn how to make a pendant lamp from lace doilies, furniture from pallets, planters from license plates, benches from truck tailgates. You can even make baskets out of old t-shirts.

Okay, I need to back away from my computer before I get so jazzed up that I commit myself to about a decade of creativity. I tell you what, though, I’ll never settle for something mundane and off the shelf again.

Recyclart

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N-N-1 Again

There’s an interesting project that’s been floating around in the blogosphere, thanks to my friends Anju and Norm, who write the blogs This Labyrinth I Roam and Classical Gasbag, respectively. It’s called N-N-1, where the first N stands for the number of participants, the second for the number of photos (they should be the same), and the 1 stands for one time. They thought it would be interesting to see what people all over the world were doing/seeing/experiencing at the same point in time.

Basically, you take a picture within a designated timeframe, and then write 50-200 words about it. You turn it in to the designated host (which this time happens to be Natalie, from the blog Wild Rivers Run South). You don’t have to be a blogger to participate, but if you are, when you turn this in to Natalie, give her a link to your blog and/or website as well, and she’ll include it.

Sound interesting? I know the deadline is rather short for this one. Entirely my bad for not posting this sooner. Here’s Natalie’s information in her own words:

Miss Anju and Mr. Norm asked me to host the next N-N-1. With some fear in my heart, I accepted. But because of the person I am, I want to make this one slightly different.

We have done themes before, and I like them, so this time let us do the theme “Season Changes.” The theme is voluntary, so you are not required to stick with it. Secondly, rather than be forced to take your picture on a specific date and time, or even just a specific date, you have a three day window to take the picture.

Now for the details:

Take your picture sometime between Thursday, May 2nd and midnight on Saturday, May 4th. Send your picture, a bit of writing (no more than 200 words of prose or poetry) to me at ngarvois@gmail.com no later than midnight on Monday, May 6th. Oh! All times are local to where you are. I’ll put all of the submissions together and post them in my blog, wildriversrunsouth.wordpress.com, and send you a link so that you can reblog the post if you want to. You do not need a blog in order to participate. If you know somebody who would like to participate, please let them know.

I hope you’ll participate. It’s been a very fun and eye-opening experience in the past. I’ve shared two of them on my blog, here and here. Check ’em out, and contact Natalie!

Images around the world

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Holiday Markets

I’ve always thought that the quintessential Christmas experience would be going to a holiday market in someplace exciting like a village in Germany or France or something. I kind of feel as though we Americans are relative newcomers to the whole holiday thing. Nouveau célébrants.

It would be exciting to experience tables upon tables of crafts that have been created for generations, and eat traditional foods that I’ve never heard of before. All while wearing a beautiful, heavy sweater knitted by a half-blind, arthritic little old lady who doesn’t speak English. And I’d be wearing ear muffs for the first time in my life, too. And a furry hat with matching boots. And mittens. Not gloves. Mittens.

But one really shouldn’t overlook the holiday bazaars that we have right here at home. They’re amazing as well. Recently I went to a Christmas Night Market right here in Seattle, and there were hundreds of booths full of hand blown glass, paintings, jewelry, ornaments, clothing, and food galore.

I didn’t buy much. I’m trying not to accumulate stuff. But I have to say that if I were in one of those families where you buy something for even the distant cousins, a holiday bazaar would be my venue of choice. Anyone can go to Walmart. But supporting a local artisan so that he or she may make a living from some unique craft is special, indeed.

Even if you buy nothing (in which case, leave your wallet at home so you’re not tempted), these markets are a great deal of fun. Something about being surrounded by creativity just adds another wonderful layer to the holiday experience.

Happy holidays, dear reader!

Bazaar

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A Cool Dream

I usually forget my dreams immediately upon opening my eyes. But sometimes they’re so fascinating I repeat them over and over in my head until I can write them down. This was such a dream.

In it, I was a writer. (Big stretch, right?) But I was living inside what I wrote. For example, if I wrote of a lush, green forest, one would appear around me. (Yes, I dream in color.) I could conjure butterflies and birds and deer and flowers.

I sat at my writing desk and I created three dimensional, living, breathing art. It was really exciting. It felt as though I was conducting an orchestra and painting a picture at the same time.

And then, I got writer’s block. So I wrote about a coffee table book, and one appeared on my writing table. It was a big, thick one, full of glossy photos. All I had to do was open the book and look at a photo, and I’d be inspired to write about it. And so the creativity continued.

I can’t describe the feeling of contentment and joy I was experiencing. It makes me happy to think that I’m now in a place in my life where such positive dreams are flowing out of my subconscious. It was a creative, problem-solving kind of place. I could have lived in there forever.

And then my dog Quagmire kicked me in the ribs and I woke up. The magical world popped like a soap bubble. Even so, I gave Quag a big good morning hug. That dream made me feel really empowered, but my dog makes me feel loved. So that’ll do quite nicely.

Fantasy Forest

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That Moment When You Realize You Have Horrible Taste

Hi, my name is Barb, and my curtains don’t match. My pillowcases don’t match my sheets, either. And some of the pants I wear to work are patched because I refuse to spend money on something that’s just going to get greasy. I’ve had pretty much the same hairdo since high school, and no one else seems to dress the way I do. I can’t be bothered to be trendy. I’d rather spend my money on travel.

I don’t wear makeup, I’ve never had a manicure, and I watch a lot of reality TV and true crime crap off of Youtube. I collect rocks. I also collect misfits.

I really ought to vacuum my car, but since I don’t even bother to wash it, what are the odds of that? And I’m sure my neighbors would say that my yard is in desperate need of attention.

The reason I appreciate my friends and loved ones so much is that they are willing to look beyond that surface stuff and see who I am. Underneath all that tacky sloppy stuff is a warm heart, a loyal friend, an intelligent woman with a killer sense of humor. I’m kind and compassionate and creative. And my dog loves me.

I admit I probably don’t make the best first impression. But I’ve always appreciated those people who are willing to delve deeper. Thank you all for that.

bad taste

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N-N-1 October 31, 2017

This was a fun post to write, because it took a village. In an atmosphere of increasing divisiveness, people from all walks of life, from all over the world, got together to do one thing: Take a photograph at 6 pm (their time zone) on the 31st of October. If you’re mathematically inclined, in N-N-1 the first N stands for the number of participants, the second for the number of photos (because those numbers should be the same), and the 1 stands for one time. These photos were sent to me, along with 50-100 words about them, so that we could share them all with you.

What I love most about this project is that we are all seeing different things at the same point in time. The world is so varied and nuanced, as are our lives, and yet we are all part of the human race. Thirteen responses from four different continents and six different countries, all working together. I feel very proud of us right now.

So without further ado, here are the photos we came up with:

IMG_2924

This first one comes from me, Barb Abelhauser. I took this on the Fremont Bridge in Seattle, Washington, USA. This was not the photograph I had expected to take. It was my day off, technically, so I should have been relaxing. But I got called in to work. This is the most hectic drawbridge in our system, but it makes for some interesting photos. In the foreground is the bell we used to use to signal the boats back when technology was slightly less technical. It almost looks like a space ship is descending. I think most Seattleites would agree that if a spaceship were to descend anywhere, it would be in the Fremont neighborhood.

I hope you’ll continue to visit my blog, www.theviewfromadrawbridge.wordpress.com.

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IMG_20171031_180109

This one was taken by Cris LeCompte, during his visit to Fargo, North Dakota, USA. He said it was taken “twelve minutes before sunset and 32° F. Located at the end of the street of 1950’s houses is the Congregational Church reflecting the designs from the 1970’s. The next hour found trick or treaters knocking on the doors.”

Cris is actually the realtor who helped me buy my house in the Seattle, Washington area. If you live around here and need a realtor, I highly recommend him! www.RealtorCris.com

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ElainePic

This photo is by Elaine Lorefield who hails from Kentucky, USA. She writes, “This is an old window from my house. I did the beveled glass work about 30 or so years ago. I had all the windows replaced a few years ago and this one has been sitting outside my back door ever since, slowly deteriorating. Time passes. Nothing endures forever, but the process of deterioration can be unexpectedly beautiful. It still makes rainbows when the light is just right even as it disintegrates.”

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Martinpic

My friend Martin Hunt sent this picture from Canada.

“This where I live. Cyberspace and my mind. The physical location is nice little apartment in Vancouver. The actual location is spread all over the planet. My love lives in Skype and Second Life. Second Life has been a place where I’ve learned a lot. I’m an old guy now and I’ve had a pretty active and adventurous life. I like where I am now as much as any place I have ever been. ”

To see more of his cool photos, along with his philosophical essays, visit his website at www.simulat.ca.

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Halloween October 31 2017 Bangkok

This, from Anju Lavina, in Bangkok:

“Thailand loves Halloween. They don’t really need an excuse to dress up, but if you’re going to give them one, they’re going to take it to the next level. Unfortunately, Thailand has been on a year-long mourning period for the death of the late King Bhumibol who was loved beyond measure. For a whole year, we have had to wear black in memoriam. Halloween has been cancelled, but the spirit of trick or treat remained. This is a photo of mannequins showing off the latest in mourning fashion, while also managing to look somewhat spooky!”

Visit Anju’s blog here: https://thislabyrinthiroam.blog/

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Mr Politician

Norm Houseman, the originator of the N-N-1 concept, had this to say:

Mr. Politician

Why Mr. Politician? Well, it began when our twenty-one-year-old granddaughter, Macey, was three or four years old. She was visiting us around Halloween one night. Our doorbell rang and I went to see who was calling on us on that dark night. It wasn’t the night for Trick or Treating, and we weren’t expecting anyone. I opened the door and found a local politician who was out soliciting our vote in the upcoming election. I assured her that we would cast our vote for her and she left.

Later, when Macey was leaving, I said to her, “Be careful, there are politicians out tonight.”

Macey looked up at the new Halloween windsock hanging on our front porch. She asked, “Is he a politician?”

I looked at it and said, “Yeah, he’s a politician.”

For the next year or so she equated politicians with things spooky. Cindy once found her looking under a bed with a flashlight. When Cindy asked her what she was looking for, Macey whispered, “Politicians.”

Ever since then, Mr. Politician has been an honored Halloween decoration at our home.

Norm is in Lafayette, Indiana, USA. Check out his blog here: https://classicalgasbag.wordpress.com/

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KarenPic

This picture comes all the way from Australia. Karen writes:

My TIME wall in progress!!

Once completed it will represent countries I have lived in and countries that are special to me.

Writing this has made me think about TIME!!

All the cliches come to mind, here are a few:

The TIME of your life

TIME marches on

TIME will tell

TIME can be a great healer

TIME flies (when you are having fun)

The sands of TIME

TIME is money

BUT

Money cannot buy TIME!!

Karen Swanepoel

Gold Coast, Australia

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FigPic

This scary picture comes from FigBash Snook, who was attending the 10th Annual Bristol Zombie Walk, in the UK.

“Once a year, the undead converge in Bristol. Over 600 zombies shambled their way from College Green to Temple Meads. I had no idea there were that many of us; perhaps the apocalypse is closer than I thought!”

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CharliePic

I have to say that this photo makes me very nostalgic. Taken by my friend Juan Carlos Garcia Romero, in Guanajuato, Mexico, it reminds me of the time when I lived there at age 19 and attended this amazing festival.

Here’s what he wrote, which I’ll humbly attempt to translate, below: “La parte representativa de la realidad virtual es a través de las imágenes mediante ellas mostramos una historia en base al contexto que existe detrás de una sola imagen como es está fotografía.  Muestra de ello, es la lechuguilla o gorguera  que formo parte de la moda de los usos y costumbres de la sociedad del siglo XV en Europa y fue el antecedente directo para la elaboración y  transformación del cuello de las camisas y blusas como prendas de vestir. Sin embargo, poetas, dramaturgos y novelistas hicieron uso de ello.  Hoy en día, la imagen de la lechuguilla se mostró solo como un adorno decorativo y cultural del XLV Festival Internacional Cervantino  (FIC) en diferentes plazas y edificios de la ciudad colgaron esa imagen. Mientras que alrededor se desarrollaron eventos de música, danza, teatro, poesía, ballet, cine, etcétera.  Un panorama difícil de analizar pero fácil de percibir es aquel que vivimos a diario las personas que vivimos en la ciudad, en donde solamente una pequeña parte de los turistas son los que en realidad asisten con una finalidad cultural.  La otra parte, solamente viene a tomar en las calles de la ciudad. Para ellos, el festival es venir a ensuciar la ciudad, o ponerse hasta atrás.”

My translation (apologies in advance): The representative part of virtual reality is through images. Through them we tell a story based on the context that exists behind a single image, such as this photograph. For example, the lechuguilla or gorguera (collar) that formed part of the fashion of 15th century society in Europe and was the direct antecedent for shirt collars of today. However, poets, dramatists and novelists made use of it. Today, the image of the lechuguilla was used as the logo for the XLV International Cervantino Festival. It appeared in different squares and buildings of the city. The festival included music, dance, theater, poetry, ballet, cinema, etc. Those of us who live in the city where only a small portion of the people who actually attend the cultural events. Each year the town swells with tourists, who only come to check out the city, leave it dirtier than it was, and then leave it behind.

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NataliePic

This picture was submitted by Natalie Garvois, from West Lumbago, Nebraska. She included a poem.

Some houses need to be avoided.

Each year Samuel, Corrine’s father,

And yes, he is still alive,

Tries to lure young Trick-Or-Treaters

To his door.

 

There he does his best

To scare the puddin’

Out of sugar hungry youngsters

By dressing like a ghoul

And waving a butcher’s knife.

 

Many children leave his door

Crying and screaming.

Sometimes they leave

A trail of urine in their wake.

What a guy.

Check out Natalie’s blog here: https://wildriversrunsouth.wordpress.com/

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EllisPic

The picture that gets the award for being taken at the highest altitude definitely comes from Ellis Johnson, who had this to say:

“This photo was taken on a flight from New Orleans into Dallas while we were making our approach at 6pm local time.  My trip to New Orleans was with my childhood best friends as a last hurrah and at this point all I wanted to do was be at home snuggling with my wife. When I took this, we weren’t sure if we were going to make our connection to the flight to Seattle so I was geared up and ready to make a run to the next gate but had to take a moment to appreciate this beautiful sunset and view.”

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Amy Pic

Amy Sassenberg (who also did the photography for my first book) told the story behind this picture:

“I was supposed to be at a Harvest Festival with my family who were dressing up as the cast of Wizard of Oz, but the flying monkeys threw a wrench into the mix and I was left alone, putting the finishing touches on my makeup and costume as the good witch.”

She was in Huntington Beach, California at the time. Check out more of her writing and photography at Behindtheblues.com.

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PrincessButterPic

And finally, we have this delightful contribution from Princess Butter in California:

“I could have been a hero. I could have been soup, pie, or even a gluten-free spaghetti. But I am here. Being a villain. I am hanging here, bidding my time. I have been sitting out since four days, looking at these people walking by, and this odd girl clicking my pictures. You have subjected me to such gloat and abuse. I am just waiting. Tomorrow, when you pick me up, we will see who has the last laugh. Forget the orange flesh, say hello to the blue-green mossy ball of squish. Bwahahahahaha!”

Check out Princess Butter’s blog at www.asplashofmylife.wordpress.com.

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20171104_180423

I decided to add one last submission, from my friend Steve in Jacksonville, Florida, simply because this made me cry. He writes, “This is my 1800 picture. It’s Michaels car. I was wishing he was in it.”

He’s been going through a lot recently.

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Many thanks to all who participated! And thank you for allowing me to be the host this time around. I’m looking forward to the next N-N-1!

Public Art as a Yardstick

I love the fact that I’m now living in a city where public art is the norm. I often pass by sculptures and murals here in Seattle, and they never fail to make me smile. It’s always a pleasure to have a bit of beauty and humor or a dash of whimsy injected into one’s day. I love having my thoughts provoked and my perspectives challenged. And some of these sculptures kind of feel like a part of my family now.

I used to live in Jacksonville, Florida, where public art was rather thin on the ground. It was often viewed as too controversial, or not in keeping with family values. (Though I wonder if their statue of Andrew Jackson astride a stallion still stands? I bet it does.)

Some artists in Jacksonville have been known to go rogue, I think, out of sheer frustration. They’d paint any flat surface they could find. Sadly, they always seemed to be quickly shut down and/or painted over.

Allowing art in one’s city takes a certain level of political courage. (And I’m not talking about historical monuments and statues, here. That’s another debate entirely.) There will always be people who don’t like a particular piece, or they will misinterpret it. It is easier to offend than to delight or inspire, it seems. It’s a confident city council that allows self-deprecation and social commentary to be out in the open, for all to see. It’s a brave mayor that doesn’t see creativity as a threat.

I think one of the many factors one should consider when deciding where to live is the amount of public art in the city in question. That will tell you much about the quality of life that you will experience in that community. It will tell you a great deal about the maturity and emotional health of the municipality as well. These are considerations you should never overlook. The ability to express oneself is the hallmark of civilization.

Crane

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