Friday, January 11, 2019

I Might be 12

I went to go see Spiderman: Into the Spider-verse.

You might want to go, too.

Yes, the theater will be filled with tweens munching loudly on popcorn.  Yes, you might be the oldest person there.  And yes, it's an animated film that's rated PG.  BUT THE ANIMATION IS AWESOME!  It's like a comic book has come to life.  And the story is good, too, even if you aren't a Marvel or Spiderman fan.

SONY Pictures Animation
If you need any more convincing, it has a 97% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.  A.O. Scott of the New York Times wrote, "It's a movie for everyone. And, as I was saying, [it's] a lot of fun." Rolling Stone Magazine called it a "...gorgeous take on the Marvel superhero" and the "Greatest Spidey Movie of All Time."

Go have some fun at the cartoons and be awed by this new kind of animation, while you have a few laughs. It's clear the animators took their job seriously because they created something original.  They also didn't take themselves too seriously because there are snippets snuck in here and there where they are having WAY too much fun with the visuals.  

Did I say the animation is awesome?

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Therapy Team Test

Sweet Bella passed her therapy dog obedience test today!  There was an obstacle course to maneuver, scenarios in which she had to refrain from greeting someone, others in which she could say hello, a "pat down" during with the evaluator touched her all over, even giving her tail a tweak (to mimic what might happen if she visits children) and more.  The other dogs there had been in a six week course to prepare but I thought Bella, given her temperament, intelligence, and her history as a former guide dog, could pass without the additional instruction.  She was a super-star. She wagged her tail the entire time and won everyone over. I'm so proud of her.  She seemed to enjoy the whole experience.

I passed too.  I had an oral exam of the rules and was evaluated as a handler.  I've since learned that Bella could have passed and I could have failed.  Apparently, that kind of scenario has happened.

Next step: three observations "in the field".  I'll keep you posted.


Friday, January 4, 2019

My new nephew!

In mid-October, my sister-in-law had an emergency c-section.  The baby, their first, wasn't thriving in the womb.  Born 10 weeks early, Owen weighed only 2 pounds at birth.   And that wasn't the last of his struggles; he even had to overcome MRSA.

And now he's home!  It's marvelous.  I held Owen for the first time on New Year's Eve.  We're all over the moon the he's doing so well.

Monday, December 31, 2018

It's Beginning to Look a Lot like 2019

The Pacific Ocean coast
It's December 31st.  My heart is full after spending Christmas with my family.  The fun continues with weeklong visits from my in-laws, one of my brother-in-law's and his family from Michigan, and my youngest daughter's friend from New Zealand.

With all the excitement heading our way, I'm taking this little bit of free time to reflect on the past year.  It went by quickly, as I'm sure it did for almost everyone over the age of 40.  At the start of the year I listed the following goals:

* increase my quilting --  I didn't finish as many things as I'd hoped, but I was thrilled to be juried into the Dinner @8 exhibition that premiered in Houston.
* docent training -- I was excited and honored to be the docent trainer for two exhibitions this year at the Katonah Museum of Art: Long, Winding Journeys about Islamic visual traditions expressed in contemporary art and Outrageous Ornament: Extreme Jewelry in the 21st Century.  I love learning about and sharing the stories of all the artists and their work.
* more people pictures -- Yeah, I didn't make any progress on that goal except that I did remember to take family pictures at Christmas.  At least I didn't forget that.
* blogging -- This year I posted more than I did in 2017, but not as much as I'd originally hoped.

My girls and I
I'm still working on some of my goals for the new year, but I know these are on my list:

* Continue to create, in all the ways that are meaningful to me.  That means I'm going to adjust my thinking.  I'm going to try not to feel like my needlepoint is taking away from my quilting or that my quilting is taking away from my photography.  They're all important and good for me.

* Continue to docent.  I'm so thankful I started doing this five years ago!

* Make time for exercise.  Yes, I'm still young, but I'm getting too old to ignore my health.  Exercise has to happen regularly.  I have to make time.  No excuses.

* Say yes when I can to new things and/or experiences.  This past year I tried not to be afraid about trying new things.  For example, I said yes to playing on a tennis team, even though I'm new to the sport and didn't know any of the other ladies.  Believe it or not, I didn't die.  In fact I had fun, got lots of exercise, and made new friends.  Now I'm looking forward to next year's season.  Who knows what next year might bring!

* Continue as the NY SAQA rep.  This might be a subset to the "say yes" goal above.  Last September I agreed to be the NY SAQA rep.   I really didn't know what I was getting into.  I've learned a lot already,  have met many interesting people and it's been fun.  I'm hoping that 2019 brings more of the same, plus more activities with my fellow New Yorkers.  I'm hoping to attend the conference in San Jose in April.  Is anyone else going?

* Revamp my website.  There.  I said it.  My website is out of date and this will be a huge project, but something's got to be done.  Maybe I won't get the whole thing taken care of but I'd like to try.  First step: getting the current website files off my old computer.

* Blog more.  Could this is a subset of the creating goal? Maybe, but I'm going to keep it separate.  For me, it's about creating a consistent writing practice, organizing my thoughts, putting those thoughts down on paper.

* Give back. Now that I'm an empty-nester I have more time to do things for others.  To that end, I'm taking my dog, Bella, for a test in January.  The goal: that the two of us become a therapy team.  I'll keep you posted.  I've also been asked to be a part of my church's Mission and Outreach committee, the group that helps to designate funds for distribution to charities and organizes volunteer opportunities for Habitat for Humanity and the like.  I think I need to say yes.

It's time to sign off of 2018.  Fingers crossed for us all to have a peaceful, wonderful new year.

The redwood forest floor.  

Friday, December 21, 2018

Weekend in Miami: Wynwood Walls

Gorgeous street art; I unfortunately couldn't find the artist's name
Wynwood Walls is totally cool. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I'm so glad we went.  

In 2009, the late developer Tony Goldman thought the warehouses of the Wynwood neighborhood would be great canvases for street art.  Since that time, artists have beautified the walls of the buildings and Wynwood Doors, a fenced in area dedicated to the art style.

We visited a week before Art Basel Miami so some of the walls were being freshly painted by curated artists in the Wynwood Doors in anticipation of the event.  Others were already completed. All were amazing.  How do they do it?

Detail of wall by Tristan Eaton, 2017 (Wynwood Doors)
Street art; I couldn't find the artist's name
Dasic Fernandez, 2016 (Wynwood Doors)

Street art; I couldn't find the artist's name

Friday, December 14, 2018

A Weekend in Miami: Vizcaya

Completed in 1914, Vizcaya was the estate of industrialist John Deering, who built the mansion as an escape from Chicago winters.  Today Vizcaya is a museum, filled with the Deering's extensive art collection.  Each room was designed around architectural elements -- such as painted wall panels -- and antique furniture acquired on Deering's trips to Europe.  There are Renaissance tapestries and 17th century Venetian sculptures, paintings by John Singer Sargent (a friend of Deering's) and antique Japanese cloissone vases.  It's rather breathtaking.

The gardens surrounding the estate are lovely.  Though crafted to mimic the grand gardens in Europe, Vizcaya's gardens are filled with lush sub-tropical plants that thrive in the Florida weather.  

There's also a orchidarium to the side of the main house that's home to a variety of orchids, in patterns and colors I wouldn't have thought were real.

Located not too far from Miami, on Biscayne Bay, Vizcaya is worth a visit if you're in the area.  

Friday, December 7, 2018

A Weekend in Miami: The Everglades

My husband had business meetings and a dinner in Miami last Thursday. Thanks to an empty nest, I could tag along.  We explored on Friday and Saturday.  We'd never been to Miami and it was fun to discover all sorts of new things, from culture to wildlife, in the surrounding area.

Today I'm going to share some of my favorite nature pictures.  If you follow me on social media, you may have seen some of these images already.  I will confess to being swept away by the alligators we saw swimming through the wetlands and which also came right up to our airboat to check us out.  We also walked on a few trails in the Everglades National Park to explore further.  I didn't realize that each walk is designed to introduce visitors to a different micro-ecosystem within the park.

Here are some of my favorite pictures of wildlife.  I've never been so close to an alligator in its native habitat (meaning, not on a golf course or in a corporate center pond).  They seemed to be as intrigued by us as we were of them.  Some of the birds were skittish, but others let us get pretty close for photography. We explored throughout the day, right until dusk.

The marsh is really beautiful as the sun sets
Our guide didn't know this alligator, but he was a calm and curious fellow.  In my vain mind, I like to think that he was responding to my calling him a handsome, marvelous boy.
This is George.  Our guide said he was one of the dominant males in the area we were in.
I was pretty excited to get this picture of an osprey taking off from its nest.  If you look closely, you can see a bit of fish in its left claw.  Did you know that ospreys always carry their fish with the tail facing backwards?  Scientists think it's to make it's more aerodynamic.
The Purple Gallinule is a common wetlands bird in Florida, but I'd never seen one before.  Aren't the colors lovely? And look at those feet! They're about the size of a chicken: the bird, not the feet.
This is a green heron.  It's one of the few birds that uses tools.  It will try to lure prey closer by dropping or dragging a feather, twig, or insect in the water to attract a fish.  Pretty clever.

It was exciting to learn about and see wildlife we'd never encountered before.  I was snapping pictures like crazy.  Admittedly, I've seen osprey in New York, but never as up close.  A week later I'm still be scratching some of the bug bites I got, but they were totally worth it.  

Next up: culture / history at Vizcaya and art at Wynwood Walls.