Sunday, December 9, 2018

Puzzles For My Dad

Growing up I was given puzzles to solve by my father. He loved doing math puzzles and I could tell he was disappointed when I couldn't solve one. To him figuring difficult games was a fun challenge. To me, not so much!

Yesterday at the Museum of Nature &Science one of the exhibits was called Brain Tease? Yes Please. I entered the Mindbender Mansion to see what kind of puzzles were being displayed and immediately my father came to mind. He would have loved all the wacky, puzzling world where brains come to play! (In Italics; brochure wording, not mine).

Blocks of geometric shapes, numbers, rings and ropes, trivia, plus many other displays I did not get to because large crowds were gathered around the tables. I did see some books that I know my father would have loved and I am almost sure the one I took a picture of was in our house at one time! The Zebra puzzle was more my speed but it looked very difficult.

I must have a little bit of my Dad in me because I do like word puzzles, it's just those math mind twisters I do not like! As I left the mind-boggling area, I knew what I would give my Dad for Christmas, if he would still be alive!

Saturday, December 8, 2018

The Closest I Will Ever Get To Cuba

Scrolling through my Facebook a blurb about Seniors Traveling to Cuba popped up. That tickle of excitement stirred within me but I knew I would not travel to Cuba.  A few weeks later I saw that the Denver Museum of Nature & Science had an exhibit about CUBA! Today I decided to go see the exhibit, because I knew it would probably be the closest I would ever get to Cuba.

The brochure advised me to "take a trip to the Caribbean's largest island nation without a plane ticket!" So I did. What color, what music, what dancing, what an old car, and what great photography. The plaza had sidewalks where I could wander and look into a cigar store, a place of worship or sit at tables with Cuban food or games.

The game of choice in Cuba is Dominoes and they are different than ours because they have more spots.

 After watching some dancers who reminded me of Hawaiian Hula dancers because of how they moved their hips and a cha cha dancer with long hair I realized that Cuban music can be quite lively! 

The four dishes on the table were malanga (from root family)  fritters, black beans and rice, ajisco stew, and guava con queso and my guess is that these are popular dishes.

Catholicism is the leading religion in Cuba but there are many other such as orisha (Santeria) and Jewish, Protestant, Muslim, Mormon, and 7th Day Adventists.

Wandering through the streets of Cuba, looking and listening, I really felt as if I knew more than ever about Cuba. I then headed to the IMAX theater to watch a documentary on Cuba and enjoyed learning about the coral reefs, the ballet school, tobacco and sugar cane plantations, and carnival with lots of fireworks, dancing, sports and history!

"I don't want any thing
from Cuba.  I want them
to be free and enjoy the
things I enjoy."
Gloria Estefan

Wednesday, December 5, 2018


Honesty implies refusal to lie, steal or deceive. Watching television and some of the court shows I have seen, no one seems to be honest even if a person swears on the bible. Some maintenance men take advantage of people by charging more than the repair costs. I was at Sprouts and my bill came to eighteen dollars and twenty-two cents. I counted out the money but when I got two dimes out of my coin purse,  I noticed they were two Mexican pennies. Same size and color as the American dime. I wondered if I had been duped or if had been an honest mistake? Those coins really did look like dimes and I had accepted them as ten cent coins.

Yesterday I heard a story of true honesty and it made me feel good that there are still people around who believe in being honest.

I went to a friend's home and a young woman was telling a story. I will paraphrase her words.

 I cannot believe what just happened to me.
I was at Kaiser and happened to go to the
bathroom and took off my ring to wash my
hands. In the commotion of talking to my 
mother and a cousin, we left the restroom and
when I got home I realized I did not have my
diamond ring. I rushed back to Kaiser 
and inquired about the ring. No one seemed
to know anything about it. I prayed to St. Anthony,
and had made up my mind that my beautiful
ring with my children's names behind each 
diamond was gone.

Just then a doctor came by and said that his 
patient, who did not speak English, had given
him a ring because she did not know what to do
with it. He brought the ring out and it was 
the lost ring.

He called the patient out of his office
and told her that the ring belonged to me.
I threw my arms around her and 
thanked her in the one word I know in
Spanish. I told her "gracias," many, many times!

Someone asked the lady why she had
turned the ring in to the doctor and her interpreter
responded , "She says she didn't know what to do with it 
and gave it to her doctor 
because it was the right
thing to do."

I looked at the beautiful ring that seemed like a interwoven ribbon covered in diamonds and when the young woman told me it was probably worth more than a car, I said, "Well you can thank St. Anthony also, because he had a hand in finding your ring!"

"Be a reflection of what
you'd like to see in others.
If you want love, give love,
if you want honesty, give honesty,
if you want respect, give respect.
You get in return what you give."

Tuesday, December 4, 2018


In the middle of Los Angeles, California, I was surprised to see a rail car that takes people down a  steep hill. There are two orange cars that travel on the same tracks and pass each other as one goes up and one comes down. The Funicular in Los Angeles has been around for one hundred and seventeen years, though it was out of commission for a few years.

A funicular, also known as an inclined plane or cliff railway, Is a cable railway in which a cable attached to a pair of tram-like vehicles on rails moves them up and down a steep slope, the ascending and descending vehicles counterbalancing each other. Funiculars of one sort or another have existed for hundreds of years and continue to be used for moving both passengers and goods.

I felt as if I was at an amusement park as I rode the small car with about fifteen other persons down the steep hill. The good thing is that it saved us a few blocks of walking. After visiting the Museum of Contemporary Art, we walked to the small orange building to buy tickets for the Angels Flight ride.

My granddaughter and her friend from Canada sat across from me as we slowly moved down the hill.
It was fun being tourists while on vacation!

"The camera makes
everyone a tourist..."
Susan Sontag

Sunday, December 2, 2018

The Red Seed

While walking with my daughter through the neighborhood in California, I found an odd looking pod. She told me that the pods are from a Magnolia tree and the pods get covered with red seeds. As we continued our walk she kept looking for a pod with red seeds to show me. She did find a pod with one red seed. It looked like a tiny red cinnamon candy and I brought it home to Colorado so I could blog about the unusual pod. I worried that I might get stopped by TSA agents while going through security but no one asked and the pod arrived safe and sound.

How beautiful it must be to have the whole pod covered with red seeds. I went to my favorite resource, the Internet, to find out more about the Magnolia tree. I found out that some seeds do not harm birds or squirrels, yet can poison cats or dogs. It depends on the type of Magnolia tree and there are quite a few varieties of the tree.

I have seen the white blossom in California and wondered if it was a Gardenia by the color and sweet smell. Every day I learn something!

Seeing the red seed and the many that are missing, I thought that with a little glue and some Skittles I could complete the pod with different color "seeds."  I would then have my very own Magskitolia pod. If I plant it, maybe I would soon have a tree with a variety of colored blossoms that smell like candy and the seeds would be good to eat!

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Termite Art

On my recent visit to California I visited three museums; Bowers in Santa Ana, MOCA and Geffen in Los Angeles. Some of the art work I saw was impressive and some left a large question mark in my mind. I like when I see a work of art and I understand what the artist is trying to convey. But, when I see art, even with a title, and I still don't get it, it tends to not be a favorite!

At the Geffen Contemporary Art at MOCA located in an old police warehouse, I was interested to see Manny Farber And Termite Art. Not because I knew the artist but because my son-in-law had studied photography in classes at the University of California San Diego taught by Farber. He painted bright, colorful pictures with lots of things floating on the canvas. By some of the things in the paintings I am sure that Farber had an odd sense of humor. Even though the medium is not the same, I found myself reminded of the author, Kurt Vonnegut.

"Farber had no interest in making political or social statements in his paintings.
 Instead, he aimed to capture how we live our lives. 
We work away just like the noble termite."
From the Internet

His artwork is of every day stuff in a world that can be understood. A mishmash of daily items cover large canvases. The artist began his career in 1942 as a film critic and continued as a writer, teacher, and artist until his death in 2008.

"A peculiar fact about termite-tapeworm-fungus-moss art 
is that it goes always forward, eating its own boundaries
and easily as not, leaves nothing in its path other than signs
of eager, industrious unkempt activity."
Manny Farber

Photography At Its Best

African Twilight, at the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, had tremendous photographs taken by Carol Beckwith, (Australian) and Angela Fisher, (American). The two photojournalists traveled to Africa and took pictures of Africa's vanishing life styles. The color and action in the photos were sharp and clear and I took photos of some of my favorites.

The elephant mask represents wealth and power of the king, a red dancer, Kulukulu mask is considered a powerful mask, a young man with courtship paintings on his body that represents guinea fowl, tall men walking entertain, and a young boy who has gone through an initiation ritual were the ones I liked. My favorite was the sunset picture.

Jewelry, feathers, beads, and mud were used to decorate their body by different tribes. A short video called Painted Bodies gave me more of an understanding of why bodies are painted. Reminded me of how men now tattoo their whole bodies. One comment made was that usually it is the woman who decorates herself in the modern world to attract men but in some of the African tribes it is the man who decorates his body to attract the woman. Don't some birds do the same thing with the male  having more colorful feathers?

Two of the largest earrings I had ever seen amazed me. They were not only large but looked heavy.

The two photographers have returned to Africa many times to take pictures and to document the art of body painting. Between them they have published fourteen books and have had photos in National Geographic. I found some videos of their work on the Internet and all I can say is that their work is a fascinating display of wonderful photography!

"White and red ochre body paint
 is used to decorate the face and body
 for many reasons. Oil, clay, chalk
 and plant dyes are used to form
 decorative patterns significant to
 a persons place in life.
 In some tribes, body paint
 is used more like clothes."
Beth Asaff

Friday, November 30, 2018

The Train

Metrolink in California shares the tracks with Amtrak and freighters. The row after row of freight cars rumbling on the tracks are covered with graffiti. This must be the artist's choice of canvas! As we waited for our train in Fullerton, noisy trains either whooshed by or briefly stopped to load passengers.

When our train arrived we rushed in and looked for  place to sit. There were no seats together and we separated to find seats on the crowded train.  Via our cell phones we communicated on where to meet  once we were in Los Angeles. Taking the train is a stress reliever because it is a fast way to travel without having to deal with a lot of traffic!

The scenery is not the greatest but I did see some interesting things along the way. Walls of fancy graffiti would end and there would be the fuscia-magenta bougainvillea. I liked the bridges we passed and made me think of a foreign country because they looked as if they were built a long time ago!

When we arrived in Los Angeles, some of us wandered through the elegant old station.
I remembered seeing the comfortable, individual chairs in movies. The floors glistened, the motif of what looked like a sea shell was beautiful, and people moved through the station admiring the clean station. Some people looked as if they had some where to go while others just seemed to be calmly waiting with their luggage!

We left the train depot and crossed a busy street and there was Olvera Street. The last time I had been to the replica of Mexico was about fifty years ago.  It seemed larger to me this time and it was fun playing the tourist and seeing La Placita Church: Nuestra Senora Reina de Los Angeles, 1781; the booths with goods for sale, and statues of King Carlos III and Antonio Aguilar.

After our tourist moments at La Placita of Los Angeles, we got on a bus that would take us to MOCA, Museum of Contemporary Art which will be my next blog!

"The basis of tourism is perception of otherness, 
of something being different from the usual."
Lucy M. Long