Kuro The Cat; SIA With A Postcard

My post for this SIA is a bit late because I’m just now writing it! Normally, I try to compose them the night before and schedule them to go live early Monday morning.

But I was so tired yesterday that I probably wouldn’t have been able to write a coherent post, even if I tried. And since I’m off from work today, I felt that it could just wait.

So, with that bit of housekeeping out of the way, let’s get to the good stuff.

It’s another SIA challenge and this time, my blogging friend, Salazar, over on 14 Shades of Grey, chose quite a cool piece, with an even cooler name (I think anyway). It’s called Kuroki Neko by Japanese artist, Hishida Shunso. Check out Salazar’s blog in the link above for more details and for an image. It basically depicts a black cat sitting on a tree limb with autumn leaves hanging above it.

I feel that the title is very appropriate for this painting. I did a little searching to see what the literal translation meant and now I understand why it’s named this. I already knew that “kuro” means “black” in Japanese (thanks to me reading the graphic novel series, Shoulder-A-Coffin Kuro, an awesome series by the way; check it out!). The suffix, “ki” means “tree” or “wood”. And “neko”, as you’ve probably already guessed, means “cat”. So the title, “Kuroki Neko”, literally says “black wood/tree cat”, which I think is pretty darn cool.

Here’s what I went with as far as an outfit goes.

Kuroki Neko SIA 2

Like I told Salazar when I submitted my photos, I was trying to go for a more “preppy look”, without looking too business-like or too formal. And I got tired of my more “casual looks” all of the time, so I wanted to sharpen things up a little. I brought out my suit jacket and pants, which I think look great together with any Polo-like shirt, which you see in gray here. Without the tie and dress shirt, it’s more of a “business-casual” look, which is what I was going for.

And I know, I know; brown shoes with black dress clothing; a big “no-no”. But this is for SIA, so I can do whatever I want, thank you. Since I don’t have any brown clothing, I brought out my trusty brown shoes to sort of match the brown tones found in the painting. Overall, I think I pulled it off pretty well.

And as an added bonus, I created a postcard (using my newly discovered black postcards) especially for this SIA, which you can see below.

Kuroki Neko SIA 3

Kuroki Neko SIA 1

Black Cat, Dark Night

Since I obviously don’t have any accessories, I went with the next best thing. I had the idea to make a more Halloween-like postcard for some time, using the black postcards. Basically, I was going to put a pumpkin or two in the picture. But since I made this after Halloween was over, I decided to leave the pumpkins out and just have the focus on the cat. I tried to make him semi-creepy looking to mimic the look of the cat in the painting without copying it. I’d say that I succeeded. The perspective of the *ahem*, “wall” that he’s sitting on, is a little off, but I did this rather quickly so it’s understandable. And I’m still trying to familiarize myself with the oil pastels, which is what I used to create this postcard. Overall, not bad.

That’s all for now! Be sure to check back in on Salazar’s blog this Wednesday for the round-up. It should be fun to see how many different interpretations you all come up with!

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SIA: “Angel Applicant”

It’s SIA time again and this time it was Erin’s turn to curate. She chose the painting, Angel Applicant by Paul Klee. You can see and read more about it on Erin’s blog over on Loop Looks.

This one is right up my alley because of the grayish/black tones that make up the entire painting. So it was pretty easy for me to put together a simple outfit, which you see below.

Angel Applicant SIA 2

Pretty easy, right? My usual, everyday attire never fails me. 😛

However, since the painting calls for more grayish tones than black, I decided to add something to incorporate that.

Angel Applicant SIA 1

Angel Applicant SIA 3

I think that the bag totally fits, right?! It totally matches the color scheme of the painting, not to mention my own. 😉

One of my friends and co-workers made this for me for my birthday as she noticed that my old bag (the one that I often use to carry all of my books to and from the coffee shop) was falling apart. And for a while, I was using grocery bags to carry my books in; not very attractive looking…

But the bag is rockin’ awesome! It has an extra thick lining inside so it keeps my books dry as a bone on rainy trips out to the coffee shop, or wherever else I go with my “mini-library”. It so totally suits me in terms of color, design and practicality. Triple plus! 😀

So that’s it for my portion of SIA. Be sure to stop by Erin’s blog this Wednesday on the 25th for the round-up and see how everyone else interpreted this piece. And feel free to participate! There’s still time!

Postcard Post: “Eclipse”

If you’re a US reader, then you probably knew all about the hype of the total/partial solar eclipse that occurred here a few months ago. Or even if you live outside of the US, you probably heard about the eclipse happening here back in August.

Being a total astronomy nerd, of course I was all over this. I’ve waited over 20 years to experience a solar eclipse, the last one occurring way back when I was in elementary school back in the early 90s. Ancient history, right?

Well, after all these years of waiting, I finally got to see, or at least experience, this astronomical astonishment, and is one that I will always remember.

I was one of the few who didn’t have the fancy eyewear that everyone was going crazy over from NASA to protect my eyes from the eclipse while viewing it. But that didn’t stop me from viewing it SAFELY. Using a simple technique that was demonstrated by my science teacher way back in the day, I was able to project an image of the eclipse onto a sheet of paper so that I could view it without risking total blindness by actually looking at it. To see how I did this simple but effective technique (it’s really simple to do), look here.

Anyway, I was so stoked about the eclipse happening that a few days before it occurred, I had a dream about it, which was pretty wild when you think about it. Goes to show that I’m a true nerd when it comes to astronomy as how many people can say that they dream about such things and can remember them afterwards? And this is how this first postcard came into being.

Dream Eclipse

To the best of my ability, this is exactly what I saw in my dream; an orange-like sky, parts of my apartment building and railing and of course, the eclipse in the sky. It was a surreal kind of dream on a number of levels, one being why the sky would be orange colored during a solar eclipse? The simple answer: It’s a dream. It’s not suppose to make sense. I just thought that it was really cool to have a dream about such a rare event like this and to be able to recreate it as a postcard. It’s definitely something that I’m going to remember for the rest of my days. 😛

The next postcard is also on the solar eclipse and is the result of a new technique that I’m trying out. I’m using a black postcard instead of a white one. I had this idea several months ago when I thought of doing another nighttime cityscape but didn’t want to take the time to try and paint the whole background black, which uses up a lot of black paint. So then I thought that if the background were already dark, that would save me time and effort. So thus, the black postcard was “born”. And because watercolor paint (my usual medium) would not show up very well on this dark background, I instead used oil pastels to create the image that you see below.

Eclipse

This more closely resembles what I saw using my primitive viewfinder (minus the color) during the eclipse. And the sky of course wasn’t completely black as seen here because we weren’t in direct line for the moon to completely pass in front of the sun, but as I said above, I wanted to experiment with the black postcards and this was a great first experiment I’d say. The only thing that bothers me is the white lines I used to try and show gradation of the sun’s corona. Oil pastels can be somewhat difficult to use and I haven’t used them in a while so this looked a little more sketchy than I wanted it to be. But not bad for my first time on a black postcard. I look forward to using more of them for nighttime scenes in the future.

So there you have it. It’s been a while since I posted any new postcards on the blog so it felt good doing this, particularly on a subject that I’m most interested in. Hope to get more postcards up and running as we get deeper into the fall season. Look for them!

Okay, and I need to add a little something extra here. I just celebrated my 34th birthday last Thursday, and while I’m not into parties and that sort of thing, I did get a cake out of the deal and that’s good enough for me. Take a look. Enjoy!

Birthday Cake 2017 - 2

Birthday Cake 2017 - 3

Birthday Cake 2017 - 4

 

SIA: “Galaxy”

Hey there, it’s SIA time once again. And this time around, we have a special presentation for you. My blogging friends, Salazar, Jen and Erin, liked my recent idea I had to present a piece that is located at my job, the Akron Summit County Public Library; a wall mural painted by local artist, Julie Hogarth, called Galaxy, seen below.

Mural 5

Mural 6

Mural 10

To give you a quick overview, in case you missed last week’s post (see here), the wall is located in the children’s area (where I work), and was painted for our new “tween” space that’s currently underway and in hopes that the full project will be completed before the end of the year.

Jen, over on Librarian For Life And Style, was kind enough to host this marvelous piece (thanks, Jen!) on her blog so be sure to go check it out.

So, moving on, for this SIA, I came up with a simple outfit.

Galaxy SIA

The turquoise T-shirt (which has the company logo of the place where my mom works) I think works great for much of the painting’s blues and greens that I see in it. I can’t help but think of the outer planets, Uranus and Neptune (the sky and ocean color planets respectively) when look at both the mural and my shirt. I can’t think of a better comparison for these colors than that. I think that it’s a perfect match.

And of course, this wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t include a picture of myself standing in front of the wall! And I’m wearing my classic black attire so I’ve got the “galaxy” part covered in there as well.

Me In Front Of Wall Mural

So there you have it! There’s still time to participate! Just snap a photo of yourself wearing an outfit that you feel that best represents Julie’s work here and send it off to Jen (see her blog for contact info) by October 10th to be included in the round-up on Wednesday.

I’ll be there. Will you?

SIA: “Galaxy” Wall Mural

It’s time for another SIA challenge! And there’s something a little different that I’m doing with this particular post. While I usually leave the intros to these to my blogging friends (Salazar, Jen and Erin on their respective blogs), I decided that I wanted to help present this particular one for a couple of reasons. 1) I personally took the photos of it. And 2) I’ve gotten written permission from the artist that created this beautiful work that you are about to see so I have no worries about putting pictures of it on the blog. We’re good to go!

So with that short explanation, let’s get to it!

Our challenge for this week (hosted on Jen’s blog at Librarian For Life And Style) is a wall mural, Galaxy, painted by talented artist, Julie Hogarth, and is located none other than the place where I work at; The Akron Summit County Public Library!

I am proud to say that I have worked for this organization for 11 years now and have been working in the children’s department (where this is located) for a little over a year and a half. Go me!

Anyway, to give you a little background info, my co-workers and I recently shifted a good portion of our collection around in order to make room for our newly formed “tween” space, which is what you see here.

Mural 1

Mural 5

Mural 2

Mural 4

Mural 6

Mural 11

Before our wall was painted, the space harbored our children’s collection of DVDs, CDs and audiobooks. Moving all of that material was a lot of work, let me tell you! Thankfully, we didn’t have to physically move the shelving out as well (thank you maintenance department!), but still, quite a huge task on our hands. A good portion of our summer was spent doing this.

Now that all of that is behind us, we are working on furnishing the space for our pre-teen patrons and by the end of the year, it should be complete, with carpeting, furniture and other cool stuff to really liven it up. It should be exciting!

So, back to the SIA portion. If you are feeling inspired by this very colorful piece, put together an outfit that you feel that best represents the artwork and send it to Jen (see her blog for contact info) by October 10th to be included in the round-up the next day, Wednesday, October 11th. Hope to see you all there! Get inspired and get moving!

 

 

September Book Reviews 2017

It’s time for my latest book reviews. It’s been a while since I last did these, due to my hiatus over the last few months, but I’m slowly getting back into my routine.

I just have two books to present this time around. And my reviews will be fairly short for each book as it took me several months to finish them. But I’ll give you the gist of what they are about and you can read them for yourselves to get the full stories of both.

The first book is a children’s fiction called The Crystal Ribbon by Celeste Lim.

The Crystal Ribbon Cover

It’s a historical fiction (of course!) story, set in the early 1100s A.D. in China, during the Northern Song dynasty, according to the author. It tells the story of an 11 year old Chinese girl named Jing, who basically is “sold” into marriage for money to another family (the Guo family) that treats her like a slave. She is married to a 3 year old boy of the Guo family (the only one in the family that likes her and treats her with any sort of respect and dignity), but is regarded mostly as a servant rather than a bride, particularly by the two evil sisters in this family. It made me think a little of Cinderella while I was reading it. The evil sisters make a conscious effort to make Jing’s life as miserable as possible. They commit mischievous acts and make it look like Jing caused them, which usually results in her being punished by the sisters’ parents, particularly by Mrs. Guo.

At one point, Jing is ‘accused’ of stealing from one of the sisters and is severely punished by Mrs. Guo. Consequently, Jing is sold again, this time to a place called a “chinglou”, which, from the sounds of it, is basically an ancient Chinese version of a modern day strip club; entertainers of men in Jing’s own words.

The story really picks up when Jing escapes the chinglou, with the help of a spider, whom she met earlier in the story, that weaves a thread that enables her to do this, and meets up with a nightingale named Koko (who escaped from the Guo family) and a boy named Kaizhen, who holds a great secret, which is subtly revealed towards the end of the story and holds the key to Jing returning home to her family.

There are little sketches throughout the book (drawn by Jing’s little brother) sent to her as letters, which are really cute, that she receives while living in the Guo’s household.

Overall, I felt that the story was well written with a good enough plot, though it was pretty one dimensional. It felt like the typical kind of story with the main character facing multiple challenges, both physical and psychological; trying to find his or her own way, meets key element characters that help him or her in their pursuit to become a better person, faces a powerful enemy that needs to be defeated (in this story’s case, it’s a huge demonic tree) and finally finds the happiness and joy that they were seeking in the end. In short, this story was pretty predictable. I could easily see this being the next animated Disney film and would probably score pretty well, rating-wise. Eat your heart out Mulan!

Really, the only thing that I didn’t like about this book were the constant use of foreign words that were not clearly explained. Words like “jing” and “chinglou” are not exactly modern day words from what I gather. But seeing them enough in the text as I read, I was able to use context clues to figure out what I thought they meant. I figured out that the word “jing” probably means “spirit” or some other astral projection-like being that can be either good or evil, as the author briefly has her characters discussing whether or not some jing are deities or demons.

And as I mentioned above, I’ve concluded that “chinglou” is a sort of ancient Chinese “strip club” where men go to be entertained.

A decent story overall. I give it a 4 out of 5.

The second book I have to review is called Suits by Nina Godiwalla.

Suits Cover

It is a non-fiction telling of the author’s experience while working on Wall Street in New York; her struggles and challenges both in being the only woman at the time working there, as well as being an American born Parsi, having to juggle her own family values with those of America.

Nina describes just how demanding the job she held at Morgan Stanley, a huge financial firm in New York, was for her; the long hours that she put in, the frustrating moments of having to deal with upper management, as well as her own co-workers in that most of them just seemed to see her as “just one of the guys”.

But besides describing her experience in corporate finance, Nina also talks about her home and family life in her book and how she came to be who she is now. To me, these moments were the best to read as they felt very humble and “down to earth” as she talks about her childhood experience with her family and school life. I really like how she makes references to American “pop culture” icons; TV shows like The Price Is Right game show, which her grandma never missed, As The World Turns and Dallas.

One of my favorite references that she made was playing Super Mario Brothers in her youth and how she would even use that as an excuse to be late for school in the mornings! Now I’m not a gamer by any right. But even I can admit that I played my fair share of Mario games when I was little and can remember being “killed” often by the array of enemies that the game threw at me before reaching the end of the level.

Reading this is what truly brought Nina’s book to life for me; that she openly admits her likes and dislikes and is not afraid of what others think about them. It feels real, which to me, makes the best kind of reading. Being able to relate to readers by sharing similar stories, particularly those when you are a kid, really helps connect both author and reader, and makes you want to cheer the author on as you read their story. And like I have done with other authors that I have read before, I found myself cheering for Nina as well while reading her story, particularly towards the end. I think you will too as you read her story, which I highly recommend that you do.

So I give Suits a 5 out of 5.

That’s it for this month. Now that I am back on a more normal reading schedule, I’ll be posting reviews on a more regular basis. I have some good ones to present for October’s reviews so I look forward to sharing those with you in the coming weeks. Be sure to check out my friend, Salazar’s blog, 14 Shades of Grey, to see what books she has been reading this month. They sound pretty interesting!

Until next time, keep on reading!

How Many Differences Can You Find?

 

I didn’t realize this until I uploaded this photo for this week’s SIA challenge, hosted by Salazar, that I wore the exact same outfit for another SIA challenge a while back called On The Road, which was also hosted by Salazar. As you can see below, the photos look almost identical, except for the missing plants in the current one.

Variations In Violet And Grey SIA The Flower Seller SIA

It almost feels like one of those goofy “how many differences can you spot in these pictures” kind of puzzles; the ones you see in magazines. I can spot at least 3, not counting the plants. 😉

Anyway, as I said above, Salazar over on 14 Shades of Grey, hosted this SIA challenge, and she picked the painting, Variations In Violet And Grey by James McNeill Whistler. Done in watercolor, it depicts a busy town of people going about their business. I love how the artist used simple dabs of color to show “movement” within the painting. It has a sort of “sepia” kind of look to it, which I think is very appropriate for a painting of this nature. Painted in 1885, it sort of gives you that feeling of being “back in the old days” before color photography was even a reality.

As the name of the painting suggests, viewers see various shades of gray and violet in the painting. I personally saw more gray than violet so that’s what I went with. How would you go about in interpreting this painting because you all that are reading this post are going to participate, right? 😉

There’s still time. Send your photos to Salazar by the end of Tuesday, September 26th and be a part of the awesome round-up on Wednesday!

SIA: growARTS Painting #3

I’m still trying to get back into my normal blog writing, which is difficult to do when one has been away from it for a while. So I am slowly trying to get my rhythm back and stay on a fairly regular schedule.

And what better way to start off my blogging schedule than with my most recent SIA challenge?

Erin over on Loop Looks, is hosting this latest challenge, which is right up my alley. She’s presenting another GrowARTS project for our SIA challenge and you can read more about the program here.

I said above that this SIA was right up my alley. Why? Because the main subject features a cup of morning java; coffee!

While I haven’t been a drinker of coffee for very long (my very first experience with it was quite a negative one!), I’ve come to really like the steamy hot beverage in the morning. It’s especially nice on those frigid, freezing mornings when the temperature outside makes you want to stay in bed.

So I’ve come up with a great interpretation that captures both the colors in the painting as well as the contents of it as well. Check it out below.

Grow Arts SIA 4(a)

Grow Arts SIA 4(b)

Grow Arts SIA 4(c)

Those who have been reading the blog for a while and have seen the SIA challenges that I’ve posted will notice that I went all neutral for this one; no black whatsoever. While this is unusual for me, the call for a more “neutral” look was needed for this challenge I feel. My sweater most closely resembles the color of the coffee cup in the painting and my khaki pants are a nice close 2nd. The buttons on my sweater nicely mimic the coffee beans seen in the painting. And to bring it all home, I even used my favorite coffee mug with coffee inside as a nice added prop to make the photos complete.

As far as SIAs go, this one I think, is one of my best and favorite ones of all time. I was really happy in how these pics turned out and I admit how much fun I had in setting up for my mini photo shoot. I even heated up the coffee in my cup so that after I got done taking the pictures, I could have some! 😛

And that’s it for this post. Be sure to check back on Erin’s blog this Wednesday, September 13th, for the full round-up and see how others interpreted this awesome painting. And before I forget, as an added bonus, everyone who participates in this SIA challenge by submitting an outfit photo to Erin, will be eligible to win this painting that she purchased herself! I’m sure that it’s a great painting to hang on your wall, so why wouldn’t you want to participate? There’s still time!

 

 

It’s A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood

If you’ve grown up watching Mr. Rogers as I have, then you’ll know where I got the title of this post from. And it fits for what you are going to see here and for what I want to say.

I’m back friends. Yep, you heard right. I’m dusting off the ‘ol blog here and am ready to pick up where I’ve left off before summer started. So that means more regular posts will be popping up again; postcards, book reviews, SIA photos, and whatever else that I wish to present to you all.

After doing some VERY deep thinking, and taking the very wise advice of a good friend, I am determined to make next summer a great one and to once and for all, put the past behind me. What happened to me is of little importance. What is important is that I will begin to focus more on the present rather than the past and to find the joy and happiness that perhaps was always in front of me, but never saw.

As I am finding out more and more, life doesn’t always give us what we want. It may even give us a lot of what we don’t want, in fact. But we make the best of it with what we do have and enjoy the experience and adventure along the way. 😛

So that is all I have to say for now dear friends. I hope that you all will continue to read and be a part of the blog as I continue to help move it along. There would be no Post Card Purposes without all of your support. Thank you very much.

And now, some photos that I took recently that I hope you will enjoy. It really was a beautiful day in the neighborhood when I took these. 🙂

St. Bernard's 1

(Above) St. Bernard’s Church in the background, located across the street from The University of Akron. You can see part of the business building off to the far left.

UA Campus

Main walkway of the university campus. The academic library (Bierce) can be seen on the right. Check out the flower beds along the walkway. 🙂

Flowers 3

And speaking of flowers, I’m growing a few in some flower pots on my balcony (what I call my “mini garden”). Aren’t they beautiful?

Two SIAs, One Post

Hello. Yes, I’m making a “cameo” appearance on my blog here, mostly to ensure everyone that I’m still alive and that I haven’t abandoned my blog. Posts will be very sparse here on for a while; at least until summer is near over and I can start feeling more “normal”, whatever that is, heh.

But enough of the small talk. Let’s get to some SIA posts. I have two SIA photos to share this time around, as I missed posting about the last one that was hosted by Erin, over on Loop Looks. She already posted the round-up for her SIA choice, which you can see here, and I’m included in this one, before my unplanned “disappearance”. She chose this wall mural, “Sonoma”, which is where she went on vacation and was able to get a picture of it (how cool is that?!). The mural is a sort of graphic, which means there were many colors to choose from to go about in interpreting this piece. At first, I had no idea as to what I wanted to do with this one. But then Erin mentioned the words “graphic tee”, which automatically pointed me to my second graphic T-shirt that I own; my Captain America tee to be exact!

Sonoma Fremont Diner Mural SIA

Seeing as how the mural was a graphic image, I felt that my shirt was quite appropriate in interpreting this SIA challenge. And taking it a step further, I scored “bonus points” when ‘ol Capt. America’s theme colors matched up with the colors seen under the letters of “Sonoma”; I was like, “score!”. And hey, with the 4th of July happening tomorrow, even though I’m late making this post for SIA, it’s right on time for the holiday (good ‘ol red, white and blue).

And on top of this, this is my “summer look”, or at least the closest thing that I’ll come to having an actual “summer look”. I am not a “jeans” person and very seldom wear them. The same can be said for T-shirts, unless I’m in the privacy of my home. I scoff at shorts and flip-flops (neither of which I like and will never wear). So the fact that I even chose to embrace just a tinge bit of joy for summer, shows that I’m at least trying to make an effort to enjoy it; at least until August…

Okay, so now onto the next SIA challenge. This next one (which is the current one), was chosen by Salazar, over on 14 Shades of Grey. She chose an illustration by Chinese artist, Oamul, called On The Road. You can see it here. It depicts a flower seller on a bike that’s, well… delivering flowers! Salazar says that this is a common sight in Vietnam (and I can totally picture her on her bike, looking at this very cool illustration). Speaking of which, this is probably one of the coolest images that I’ve seen used for SIA, as the illustration is mobile (thanks to the ability of GIFs as they support animation). Very awesome!

So here’s my interpretation:

The Flower Seller SIA

Plain and simple right? My outfits are usually pretty banal as I usually don’t have much to go on with my wardrobe. But somehow, I always manage to get by with some other way to make a great photo. 🙂 My outfit is simple enough, as it matches what the seller is wearing; gray long sleeved shirt and black pants. But seeing as how there is “plant life” in the illustration, I felt that I should include that element into my photo, by putting our new house plants in the picture too. I’m not a pet person myself, but I do love plants and I love taking care of them (as best as I can anyway). Looking at this now, I wish I had included more of them in the picture as they are significantly “cut out” of the photo. But seeing as how our balcony isn’t that wide, this was the best that I could do. As I told Salazar when I submitted my photo to her, we have quite a few groves and “mini” community gardens in my neighborhood. One of these days (when I’m feeling brave enough to do it), I may venture out and try to take photos of me in front of those for SIA purposes. We will see…

So there you have it; my two SIA photos. Be sure to check in on Salazar’s blog on Thursday for the round-up. She gave us an extension, as many of us here in the US will be celebrating the 4th tomorrow. Still time to participate folks! I did. Will you?

One more thing to note. I know that I missed quite a few posts lately, such as my end of the month book reviews and my 1 year anniversary post (which didn’t post for some odd reason; guess I forgot to schedule it…). And postcards are pretty much non-existent as I haven’t done any new ones since May. As I mentioned before, posts will be very sparse from here on out, at least until summer is nearly over. Doing my best to stay strong, but some days are just too difficult to deal with…

Appreciate all of my loyal readers as I continue to work things out and hoping to get back on track once fall arrives. Please hang with me as I continue to work my way through this. Appreciate all of you!