Thursday, December 30, 2010

Unpacking

The curve of a handle, the turn of a cup, the flowers on a vase, the trim on a towel, an old cup opaque by dust… beautiful yet vain…some of my thoughts as I am unpacking eight large cardboard boxes that have been sitting idly by for two years in a closed storage room. Eight large cardboard boxes holding heirlooms and little things I have collected through the years. Memories of a little boy who ran to a sand bucket to play with a GI Joe, mementos from my daughters’ wedding years ago, an inherited 70 year old crystal goblet with a braided stem long gone out of style, a cute little bird house, and termites.

Running to empty out these boxes before the termites do, and reduce everything to dust… I know I am exaggerating but the Word does say “not to gather up treasures where moth and rust do destroy,” and may I add, earthquakes do, too. I wonder about these things that I had gathered up where moth and rust do destroy. They are lovely, but they don’t last. To think of all the care and effort we invest in them. Some of them out last us and then some of them will not. We look at them, associate them to prior experiences, and we attach a sentimental value to an object, because we want to remember an experience we treasure or a beauty reflected in them, but they break, get tarnished, and bind us to a past that is gone. We fret when we lose these items, but when they break we somehow get over it and keep on living, don’t we?

Having been separated from these things for years has helped me be more objective and somewhat surprised, too, as I have unwrapped each one. Some I don’t deny reminded me of someone, while others brought laughter, but none tears. These years have detached me from these objects, which I very much needed, so I could look at them a little more objectively, as I considered why have I kept this or that. Why have I kept this which I have been able to live with out for some years? On the other hand, why I wanted this in my life again? Perhaps I want it as a reminder of a sweeter side of myself, which I had forgotten.

Then I ask myself do I need these reminders? What is it that they are reminding me of? Just how many of them do I need? Can I live without them? Questions, questions, questions...to live sensibly we need to ask.

Well those that remind me and my family of our mutual experiences will definitely stay, in moderation. Those that connect me to my ancestors and family history, will also remain. Then those that reflect who I am and my sense of beauty and humor also have a place, but not in exaggeration. Truthfully, now that I know I can live without these things, I know I can reduce and share.

Things have some sort of significance if we associate them with an experience and yesterday, the experience was visiting Mami. The “objects,”my mom and my daughter, Rosangela, and my self. I was part of this picture.


Mami doesn’t remember much these days. She remembers the fleeting memories of smiles and the joy of someone coming to visit. The good feeling that someone has remembered to come and reminded her that we are valued for who we are and not for how we perform. That we can laugh, smile, and reminisce together for a little while is enough for now. Enjoying this while it lasts is more valuable than a thousand trinkets no matter how lovely they may be.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Walking in Old San Juan on Christmas Day

 
 
 
 

It was cloudy, breezy and cool. A perfect day to be walking around El Morro with my daughter, Rosita, her husband Kendall, and their friends from MSU. A wonderful Christmas gift.
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Friday, December 24, 2010

An Earthquake in Puerto Rico

Oh my God... talking to family at my sister's condo in Laguna Gardens, right across the street from the Luis Muñoz Marin International Airport. So there we were about to celebrate our Noche Buena, Christmas Eve, celebration...everybody thinking about having a wonderful dinner of pasteles, ham, arroz con gandules, when all of a sudden it seemed like someone had grabbed the rattan chair and was shaking it back and forth. I held on to it, but realized as everyone recognized what was going on that it was an earthquake.

My niece's little boy was sleeping in a room nearby. My niece grabbed her little boy and we decided to step outside and wait outside for a while until we had some idea that we weren't going to have an immediate aftershock. While we waited we conversed about what everyone had noticed. Some noticed the horrible rumbling that preceded the earthquake. My niece and her husband noticed that swaying and creaking of the door, as they were just coming into the building. Fortunately, it was only a warning, but no real damages.

Immediately called my daughter in Salinas, but her voice message came on, so I called my other daughter in Rochester, NY. It was the smartest thing I did that night because, about 10 minutes later all the phone lines were jammed. If I had wanted to call a few minutes later, I wouldn't have been able to get through. Just happy its over!

Two places we checked right away were: Seismic Network as well as the US Geologic Survey. Both offered in depth graphs and information about seismic activity around the world and in the Caribbean.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

On a More Positive Note

I played Wii for the first time and had a blast! My stitches hurt a little from so much fun and a little bit of excessive walking but the truth is I really enjoyed playing Wii. I can see why some people are so into it.

My niece got it and it came with about 12 games. Bowling, tennis, basketball, 100 pin bowling, just to name a few. It also came with two hand remotes.

There were several things I liked about it from the get go. Starting with the fact that you personalize the event by creating your own avatar which you make look like yourself down to your favorite color, skin tone, eyes, shape of face, etc. Of course you can use your imagination or improve the original.

Then the games require physical activity, but not an excessive amount. In other words you don't have to be an Olympic star to participate. If you can use the hand remotes and had some coordination, you can play. When bowling for example, you always have the perfect ball, not like in real life, when you often can not get the right ball or they are often chipped. Not to mention the cost of bowling for a group of four. Real bowling might not be able to compete with this "virtual" game, when it comes to costs.

Finally, I liked the playfulness of the programs. When you were bowling you could hear the pins falling while others were bowling around your lane, or you could see non participating friends sitting in the background as you and your match were playing, as well as, total strangers bobble heading around or doing silly gestures on adjacent lanes. It was fun, and worked well to add a lot of endorphins from an excessive amount of laughter.

Going to sleep happy. Almost as clever as our family bingos.

Dysfunctional

Christmas and people protesting, police using tear gas, and clubs at the University of Puerto Rico. Dysfunctional...aggressive, confrontational, and both sides are antagonistic and I don't hear a voice of reason in the whole thing. Not one voice of conciliation.

On the contrary, I hear agitation, voices insulting people in leadership, broadcasters exposing, and rightfully so, the excessive force and police brutality. In fact, some people called these hardliners, repetitions of voices from the past. From the 1970's when there were riots at the University of Puerto Rico. I would know. I was there. The power plays are the same, different players, different issues, but same struggles.

I don't like it. No one likes it. It smells of trouble. It smells of violence. It smells of disgust.


Stop it. Step back. Slow down.


Are there no peacemakers in this country?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Flip flops

Flip flops, open toe sandles, sleeveless blouses, cool breezes, hammocks, palm trees, aquamarine water, crashing waves...temperatures in the eighties. Is it a dream? No, it's Puerto Rico!

It also means, family, parrandas, tukki tukki de los palitos, pernil, pasteles, arroz con gandules, laughter, smiles in public places, "hola Doña Elba" from my neighbor Irvin, adding,"cuando llego y hasta cuando se queda?", always wondering how long I will be around. Creches in the Mall next to snowy Winter scenes, lights in the condominium, my white metal artificial tree, perhaps a trip to El Yunque, a quick rain shower, lunch at La Facciola, Felices Pascuas written in lights in Trujillo Alto and Carolina, poinsettias everywhere, Christmas Eve at Christian Community Church, saying hello to old friends, and maybe sometime stretching my feet in the sand! This year all this wonder also includes my daughters and granddaughters, a very content son in law and a very happy me!

Puerto Rico here I come! FELIZ NAVIDAD!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Gates with and without them

 

When I was in Puerto Rico in the summer students went on strike and the campus was shut down. Can you believe these gates that are seen here were taken down recently to keep the campus open. The students would not be outdone and barricaded the entrances. Later on these were taken down classes were held.

This picture is for a friend. Hope she likes it.
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Stopping for trees

 



Leaves in beautiful autumn colors. Not in the Blue Ridge nor the Okefenokee Forest, but right here in Central Florida. These particular trees can be found on North Road, a back road that connects Longwood to Altamonte Springs. I can't tell where exactly this is as far town wise, but there they sit right in front of the 1st Baptist Church. Breathtaking. I had to get out of my car, because I stop for trees.

Stopping by woods on a snowy evening...on an autumn evening...and miles to go before I sleep and miles to go before I sleep..
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Thursday, December 09, 2010

Having fun with Bubbles

 
 
 

My latest painting, Bubbles.
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Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Look at what I found!

 
 
I found a cluster of brightly colored trees with radiant oranges, greens, yellows, and reds. All of these lovely trees are on my way to work. Aren't I fortunate?
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Saturday, December 04, 2010

Finally Christmas

 

Stepping forward in faith and healing. Finally being able to put up some Christmas decorations which I so love. I don't know where I put my artificial pine wreath. It's probably underneath my bed in a plastic bag in a place difficult to reach. So I had to make do with what I had available. I had made some wreaths recently out of Jasmine vines and put them to dry in my back porch, so I attached a gold color ornament and a big outrageous bow, and this was the result. =)
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Friday, December 03, 2010

Want to learn more about Hanukkah?

Well, I have always wanted to travel to Israel and I am going to start saving. Just yesterday, I went to the official Israel Tourism website and started exploring the possibilities. They are endless and wonderful and awe-inspiring, but along the way I discovered something for this holiday season.

They have a link for a Hanukkah or Chanukah page where they let you learn more about the history of Hanukkah and at the same time enter you to win a trip to Israel. Now wouldn't that be wonderful! Oooooohhhhh, I could just imagine my self walking down the cobbled stoned streets so filled with history, then visiting the empty tomb, walking through and meditating in the Mount of Olives, sketching the walls, praying at the Kotel, touching the Sea of Galilee or the Jordan River, visiting a kibbutz or dancing to Hava Nagila. Dreams.

Well, it doesn't hurt to dream and perhaps win, too!

Call me old fashioned

This might come as a shock seeing how "youthful and outgoing" I am, but I am old fashioned. Recently, I had a ex-student, one of my best, who is now in college address me by my first name. He had always called me Ms. Vazquez and that seemed fine but seeing I don't teach him any more, he called me by my first name. It bothered me.

Bueno, so what should he call me? Soy Latina and by the way, so is he, from Colombia. I know people are very respectful there, so I have to find something that will work for both us. He could call me Señora Vazquez. In Puerto Rico where I am from, they address an older person with don or doña before their name. For example, don Manuel, doña Gisela, or don Miguel de Cervantes. Here in the United States, older ladies are addressed as Miss ____ or by their title and last name, as in Miss Fair. I don't want the Miss ____ but I would appreciate the Doña before my name if used with genuine respect or consideration.

Don't mistake the plain doña or doña pela, (saying doña alone), with respect. That is not respectful. You just don't say hey, doña. That is a slur; it's like saying hey old lady. Even in The Waltons, reruns that are being aired on Inspiration Network, when Grandpa calls Grandma, old lady, it sounds at the minimum rude not to say demeaning and jarring. An example of familiarity breeding contempt.

You put yourself at risk, I guess by just mentioning it. It's such a fine line. But it is a fine line which I am drawing in the sand. We are losing so much consideration and respect by the minute because of our society's worship of youth, that they forget there is value in reaching our older years. I always emphasized the need to address older folks with respect and always learned so much from them.

So okay, if you are a teenager or young person, and not one of sisters or cousins (¡valga la aclaracion!) it is proper for you to still call me Ms. Vazquez, doña Elba, Titi ---- or Miss Elba. Remember when you show respect it only brings respect towards you in return.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Lumber Truck vs Greyhound Bus Accident

Just today I read about a horrible accident on I 95 near Charleston South Carolina. The bus had left Orlando for New York. The bus driver unfortunately lost an arm in the incident I hate to report. Poor man. Twenty-three bus riders were also injured and taken to area hospitals.

That logging truck reminded me of the many logging trucks that I saw drive past me on Route 84 in Georgia and never considered that a log might come loose until I took this picture. For some reason it was then I realized that it wasn't such a good idea to drive so close. Frankly, I think these logs should be encased in a netting or with something that would keep them in place.

Here's my picture's link.

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_rmPgE3sxZIE/TOdbJluSxWI/AAAAAAAAGYM/IOJfyqkiKgY/s1600/1015001050.jpg

Thursday, November 25, 2010

An Operation Put Off Too Long

Laparoscopic surgery should come with a warning. Really! I had laparoscopic surgery two years ago for a Gall Bladder gone bad. It had to go and this surgery was the least invasive operation with the shortest recovery time. Both of these factors were enough to convince me that this was the way to proceed. But don't be fooled any operation comes with its share of side effects. Queasiness from anesthesia to more severe reactions, as well as the use of pain killers that can be addictive or downright nauseating are all factors to be recognized.

Nevertheless the use of laparoscopic surgery is the best choice. No doubt. What you need to watch for is how you live after this surgery. If I had a megaphone I couldn't speak louder. Don't try to be a superhero or superwoman.

You now have a fragile spot and it is in your belly bottom area. The surgeon had to cut through not only what is visible on the outside, but the padding that holds your internal organs safely. As a result that muscle wall is weaken. So if you try to lift something that is heavy you just set yourself up for a hernia. In my case an umbilical hernia which is the case for many other people.

I got the hernia and it wasn't bothering me so I put it off, until I realized it had expanded. Big mistake. Get the procedure done while it is still an easy fix and don't delay. I delayed and had to have a more complicated surgery and be hospitalized for over two days. Fortunately my dear daughter Rose came down to be with me, and because of God's goodness and her care, I am doing better and better by the minute.

So what did I learn?

Realize that your body has been affected.
You are no longer a kid.
Things take time to heal.
You don't have to be a superhero.
Ask for help.
Wait.
Don't delay and
Be thankful always.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Homersville, GA off Route 84






These are pictures from my trip to SC via GA, namely, I wanted to try a new route, so I took I 75 and went the long way. it was long and lonely until I made a stop in Homersville. I just couldn't by pass Ron's store in Homersville. I was treated so graciously by Ron whose creativity and joy exudes out of his workshop and overflows into his front lawn. I had to stop and pick up some pumpkins which I shared with my friends, almost family in Charleston and Camden. Here's Ron's store, be sure to visit!
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Friday, November 19, 2010

El Yunque

 
 
 
 

These pictures would go well with that poem I wrote the other day.

Here's the poem again:


El Yunque

Chugging cars up rounded hills honking
full of silver lined Yagrumo leaves
birds shrieking like long whistles
flying over lush green Yuquiyu
flowing with gushing streams that
splash against my skin
with chilling water
and coquis sing
as it rains while
I am sitting on a boulder
feet in the flowing water
with gold at my feet
I am wealthy
I am rich
as I breathe
the fragrance of white delicate ginger
which drapes me in as a
Taino roams in the bushes,
searching for his sacred past.
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Driving through El Condado

 
 
 
 

I finally found the adaptor for my sandisk that is on my cellphone. It took a year. Here are some pictures I took last year. I especially love the Miami building because I worked there for a year when I worked with Tony Tours eons ago.
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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Writing Poetry in Class

Today, my students and I were exploring the use of imagery. To make the concept more understandable, I created a graphic organizer with all the senses on the left, and they had to choose an outdoor place to make come alive with imagery. Once the chart was filled we had to choose phrases from the chart to create a free verse poem. What luck!!

It was something I love to do...write. Of course as a teacher, I had to model it. To think, I was being paid to do something I so love. So there I was thinking about a beautiful outdoor place, so for my first chart, I wrote phrases describing El Yunque, and used those phrases to write my poem. They got to see me write it, cross out, replace words, add adjectives, delete others, and they loved the result! They were inspired, so I hope to put up some of their poems, too!

So here is my poem:

El Yunque

Chugging cars up rounded hills honking
full of silver lined Yagrumo leaves
birds shrieking like long whistles
flying over lush green Yuquiyu
flowing with gushing streams that
splash against my skin
with chilling water
and coquis sing
as it rains while
I am sitting on a boulder
feet in the flowing water
with gold at my feet
I am wealthy
I am rich
as I breathe
the fragrance of white delicate ginger
which drapes me in as a
Taino roams in the bushes,
searching for his sacred past.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Fresh on ETSY.com

 
 
 
 

Please find "Autumn on Route 84" and an enhanced version on Grasses on ETSY.com at my store. I hope you will take a peek at my store. Thanks you.
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Painting Autumn

Painting autumn colors is like painting a wild scene...or a multicolored mosaic which individually makes no sense but as a whole is beautiful. Is life like this, too? Sometimes it isn't until we see the individual threads interconnected that we see the intricate design in the tapestry of our lives.

So then, I have been trying to paint fall colors and believe me it is not easy.

Good night!

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Circles, Rectangles, and Gouache

 
 
 

Having fun painting! Just sold "Little House on the Hill!" and plan to put these up on ETSY.com soon.
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Monday, November 08, 2010

Chasing Fall Leaves

 
 
 
 


I love nature and all things beautiful. There is something about fall foliage that reminds me of my youth in Virginia and I try to make a pilgrimage every year to see it. Being on a short budget doesn't make it easier, plus the fact that catching fall foliage at its peak is quiet tricky. Originally, I had planned to leave for up north at four in the afternoon on Friday but I stalled and didn't leave till 6. By the time I reached Gainesville it was quite dark and traffic was terrible on I-75. The University of Florida is in Gainesville and imagine a Friday night when everyone is looking for fun. After a couple of drivers made some very sharp lane changes behind me though I was easily doing 75 miles per hour, I realized I better go home.( I wasn't on the fast lane either.) So I meekly turned around and went back. Surprisingly the traffic wasn't quite as heavy going home.

I mostly rested all day Saturday. I almost finished reupholstering my love seat and did other household chores I had neglected. Then came the nagging thought that I was going to miss the autumn colors and who knew when I would get a chance to do it again.

So the more I thought about it, I decided that if I left very early in the morning I could feasibly make it to Valdosta by 12 hopefully and perhaps beyond if necessary. I just didn't want to overdo it. I thought what ever I drove up, I would have to drive down. On the other hand, I didn't want to spend money on a hotel if I could at all avoid it. So I decided, turn around time had to be at two, but earlier if I could make it happen. So I drove and drove. Sang and sang, listened to church services, "good old time religion," and was blessed. Very blessed and before I knew it I was getting to Valdosta. It was noon. I could have lunch or get off at Route 84 and search for autumn foliage for at least five miles and have lunch a little further north. That is what I did.

I drove through historic Valdosta which already has its lamp posts decorated for Christmas. These folks don't know that the loveliest part of town is just up the road a piece. I remembered a particular cluster of trees from my previous trip to South Carolina last month and I wasn't mistaken. There they were, all lit up. They looked like a flaming fire from way down the road.

That was my birthday present! The Lord gave it to me!! He made these trees, didn't He? Then He gave me a safe trip up and down I-75 with out one single mishap. In fact, when perhaps I was overstaying my welcome in a lonesome bog, a gray Georgia Police car pulled up and a handsome young policeman kindly asked me "Is everything alright?" To which I answered that I had stopped to take a picture and he said, "Okay, I just wanted to make sure there was nothing wrong." Now wasn't that nice? So I took that as a signal that perhaps I should move on, but nonetheless, I got a bunch of beautiful pictures and my birthday present. I am very blessed.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

New Paintings at Mijardinflorido at ETSY.com

 
 
 
 
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You can see these four painting on ETSY.com and I hope you will like one or two of them enough to take them home with you. My little studio is gettig a bit crowded and I need to find a new home for Leaves, Painted Desert, Floating Circle, and Little House on the Hill.

You can see them at my shop on Etsy.com/shop/mijardinflorido