Category Archives: Hobbies

Magic

Stephen King-Camping-EcoCampPanchgani-Wordpress.com

I finished  “Dark in Death,” Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb’s #46 in the series a couple of days ago. It was wonderful to totally immerse myself in the unusual world and vivid characters, re-reading ALL 46  of them in preparation for the “Leverage in Death” paperback due out in December that I preordered.

I feel lucky to be surrounded by many wonderful books, some of which are teaching me things, such as how to grow things in my greenhouse; others which allow me to enjoy favorite worlds and forget any problems I might have; still others which stimulate creative juices with pictures and descriptions of art techniques I’d like to try, plus recipe books supplying delicious meals I can try to replicate while trying to eat healthy.

They are, indeed, magic.

 

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Once You Learn to Read

Frederick-Douglas-EbookFriendly

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Love of Reading

Goodwill Librarian via Cathy Ruggiero

 

There are two new books coming out in paperback in the J.D. Robb/Nora Roberts “In Death” Series.  I’ve received one of them, and preordered the one that becomes available this December.

I’ve been having a wonderful time diving into the series again, reading from the first book, until I’ve read them all again. There are 47 in the series now, and I’m re-reading #33 now, “New York to Dallas.”

I know and love the characters. I am fascinated by the strength, yet humanness of the people. I wish I knew them in real life.

I feel rich in books right now, with 12 more to enjoy before I’m introduced to #46 and await #47. I’m so lucky to be able to open books, dive in, and try to absorb what they have to offer!

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I’m Having So Much FUN!

 

I’m having so much FUN this afternoon! About two months ago I saw an ad on Facebook (I know, but there it was) for a “light box” or “LED tracing board.” Since I’m currently trying to learn new techniques for adding fur and feathers to animals, being able to trace a few outlines and distinctive features of drawings or pictures I like and then being able to concentrate on the techniques for making feathers and fur more realistic in various media seems like a wonderful idea.

It doesn’t mean that I won’t continue to try to draw the animals and birds from scratch as time goes on, but – to be honest – I’m intimidated and it will take a while to work through that. With the light box or tracing board, I can bypass my insecurities, learn, and have fun!

 

This gives you an idea of what I ordered. It came today and I’m like a kid in a candy shop. It’s ultra thin and you plug it into your computer. There are three intensities of LED light settings.

I hooked it up, then ran upstairs to get my sketch book, tracing paper, carbon paper, pencils, plus my “Keys to Painting Fur & Feathers” edited by Rachel Rubin Wolf, and plopped down in front of my computer. I’ve now traced a bird and am now using carbon paper to transfer it to my sketch book. I have the outlines of two drawings I did years ago already in the sketch book. When I get several sketches (tracings) added, I can then concentrate on the suggestions for adding feathers to these beautiful creatures in colored pencils, watercolor, pastels, acrylics, pen & ink, and mixed media.

Here is my drawing of a kingfisher

And my drawing of a parrot

and this is the first step in the tracing of another bird I found that I like. This is being transferred to my sketch book using carbon paper.

I know this isn’t easy to see, but you can get the idea of what I’m doing.

I have to stop and get lunch for us now, but I’ll get back to this ASAP. :0)

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Practicing!

Kurt Vonnegut via GrowingBolder.com via Cathy Ruggiero

My friend Debbye Hughes, who was dying of recurrent metastatic breast cancer, got angry with me because I was afraid to even try to draw, paint, or do anything artistic. She looked at me, sitting in her bed, paintbrush in hand, and said, “Who CARES if your work never gets off your own refrigerator door? Who CARES if others don’t like it? JUST DO IT!!!!!”

That was in 2000, and I started painting, crafting, trying to draw, experimenting with all kinds of things that gave me joy. I started a website with the wonderful help of my son who designed my website to show my own stuff and then expanded it for me so that I could add the work of others. He helped with the the business, end, too, and I enjoyed 17 years of association with some of the most creative, talented people from all over the world I’ve ever known. I made friends long distance. I worked my heart out trying to do all I could with the tiny budget I had to promote all of our work. I wouldn’t give up the opportunity I had for anything.  I shut down my website, Creative Artworks, last year, and put my stuff on ArtFire and Etsy.

I love playing in my art room. The problem is that I have to set an alarm now so I don’t lose all track of time!  I just love experimenting with color, texture, and different techniques. I’m like a little kid with finger paints taking joy in the process.  Most of the time I make a mess. It just doesn’t turn out the way I envisioned it.  That doesn’t matter, though. I’m doing something I love. I’m practicing!

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What is a Bookshelf?

Bookstr via Cathy Ruggiero

“Dark in Death” by J.D. Robb (Nora Roberts) will come out in paperback in August. I’ve preordered it, standing on one foot and the other trying to be patient.

I’ve decided that, since I’ve only read the series one time, I’ll begin with the first and re-read all 45 preceding the newest one.  Nora has created a world of truly interesting, admirable people that I would love to actually know, so I’m looking forward to diving into their unique world again.

I hope that you, too have at least one bookshelf that has authors who take you into another dimension, too.

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Mother, May I?

Healing with Art via Cathy Ruggiero

 

I planned to make glorious mistakes in my art room yesterday, since it was raining and I couldn’t work outside. Somehow, I couldn’t give myself permission to ignore some of the things that were staring at me inside our home that have been needing my attention. I ended up cleaning up the kitchen, getting the filing under control in the office, playing with the dogs, and the afternoon was gone.

I have a lot of fun in my art room. Much of the time I just enjoy looking at the nice supplies I have, thrilled at the potential! Sometimes I simply play, trying some new techniques, stirring the pot, getting my juices flowing.

I love it when I get an order for custom handmade cards, note cards, or stationery. I can combine my love of art supplies – all the colors – and smells – and FEELS – with the joy of playing, coming up with designs I hope my customer will love.  When I have an order, I drop everything else and concentrate on creation, my customer’s wishes foremost in my mind.

At times like THIS, when I don’t have an order, it’s harder to allow myself to take time off. I almost feel I’m playing the old childhood game of “Mother, May I?” I’m trying to convince myself that playing is essential, that no one cares if the living room has been vacuumed yesterday, today, or tomorrow, and that I get no ‘points’ for crossing everything off my ever-growing list. There is a strong inner voice, though, that keeps repeating what a slob I am – that I should have a clean, well-organized home at all times….

I think I will try to SQUASH that mean little voice  – maybe just for a while this afternoon – and let the joyous part of me play in the paint!

Mother, May I?

 

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Inside Plans for the Day

ABSTRACTS by Sabina via Cathy Ruggiero

I’ve been fighting with my to-do list – it seems like for weeks now – not making much headway. Since today isn’t a good day to spend outside in my veggie garden, weeding my flower planters, or weed-whacking, I think I’ll take at least a bit of time this afternoon and play in my art room!

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Magic

Alice Hoffman via TitleWaveforBooks via History Books via Cathy Ruggiero

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The Wonderful Adventure of Books

Goodwill Librarian via Cathy Ruggiero

I’m reading The Whisperer by John Grisham.

As usual, it grabs me on the first page and then I spent the new few days trying to get SOMETHING done besides reading it. I love falling into a world totally unlike mine with complex, engaging characters dealing with something compelling. If you need anything today, I’ll be sitting in my chair, coffee on the table on my warmer, reading. :0)

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Reading for Pleasure – A Quality of Life Thing

The Writers Circle via Cathy Ruggiero

Our lives have been fairly stressful lately with lots of challenges and changes. The result of all this effort is that our lives are improving, slowly but surely, but I’m finding I need to escape awhile each day to maintain what is left of my sanity.

I’m enjoying the last in the series “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” by Anne Brashares right now. I can dive into the books, losing myself in the process, cares falling away like leaves in the fall. I emerge – reluctantly – when I need to – feeling refreshed. I wish that everyone could enjoy the act of reading for enjoyment.

After I finished school – getting my Master’s Degree as a Reading Specialist – I couldn’t. I would pick something up, unconsciously tensing up, reading as though I would be tested on whatever I was reading later, mentally taking notes to be regurgitated whenever asked. I almost lost my love of reading because of years of reading what I HAD to read. Kind of an indictment of the school system, isn’t it?

I regained some of that joy when I began teaching. I loved sharing my joy with my students, many of whom had such frightening lives daily on the north side of Tulsa, Oklahoma, that they didn’t have any interest at first. I taught them phonics by singing a stupid song and playing my guitar. They loved the singing and the movement, and learned that letters make sounds, working together to make short words, and then combining to make longer ones. Once the magic of the printed word on the page made sense, the ‘light bulb moment’ showed in their bright eyes and wide grins.

Statistics about adult reading are depressing. I guess too many people are working so hard to make ends meet and take care of their families they think don’t have time for reading.  My heart goes out to them because a good book could help them deal with their situation so much more easily.

As soon as I finish the last book in the series of the Traveling Pants, I found two more books by Anne Brashares that I haven’t read yet, and then I’ll dive into another Jack Reacher book by Lee Childs. What are YOU enjoying today?

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Calvin and Hobbes Mailbox Decoration

I think this is my favorite of the many mailbox decorations we’ve made. It makes me feel good when I see it. This is the back of the piece. you can see where I’ve tried to incorporate the mounting bar into the design.

Calvin and Hobbes is a daily comic strip by American cartoonist Bill Watterson that was syndicated from November 18, 1985 to December 31, 1995.

 

This is the front. The piece is about 2-1/2 feet tall and about the same wide – 3 feet + with the mounting bar and tail. We grabbed the design from the net. My husband translated the picture into code that the computer-guided torch on our CNC table can understand and cut out. We used a transparency and overhead projector to mark the bare metal for painting. I then painted both sides and then sprayed a clear protective spray on it. I hope this decoration gives people a warm feeling as they drive by our home.

 

Calvin and Hobbes by Sarah, Quotesgram.com

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Permission

The Eric Carle Museum of Pictures

It’s funny. Ever since I finished cleaning out years of accumulation in my art room, I’ve just looked at it, been pleased, and moved on. It’s almost as though the room belonged to someone else. I didn’t want to mess it up.

Today, since it’s too windy to even THINK about working with peat moss or vermiculite, I’m giving myself permission to play. I don’t know that I’ll come up with anything, but IT’S OKAY TO PLAY.

I hope that you have found something fun to do today, too.

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Reading and Children Quotes – Take 1

Family Read-Shutterstock-Northern Virginia Magazine

 

“Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.” — Frederick Douglass

“To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark.” — Victor Hugo, Les Miserables

“There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate’s loot on Treasure Island.” — Walt Disney

 

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Frightening Statistics

Vintage Books and Anchor Books via Ann Gilstrap

After I got my Master’s Degree as a Reading Specialist back in 1492, I didn’t want to read anything for awhile. I had been under so much pressure to read things I didn’t want to read and be ready to spit out the information in whatever form required for a LONG time. I found that, even when I tried to read something for pleasure, I read it as if I would be tested on it.

As I taught school at the elementary level on the north side in Tulsa for 8 years, my students have a need to learn to read at first. Their lives were such that books and reading just didn’t make the cut on what was important. I finally learned to break through that, using my guitar to teach phonics, and tossing all the rules I had just learned out the window, opting for common sense approaches. My own love of reading again broke through as I began convincing my students that they could develop a life-long love of reading.

I cannot go a day without reading. I LOVE the Internet. It’s such a good source of information, and you can learn most anything you want to if you’re willing to put in the time and effort to judge your sources. I could spend hours on YouTube. After reading and getting some background, actually watching demonstrations or explanations help make the new skills your own.

I read and follow recipes – trying to fill our lives with good-for-us low-carb food. I’m a lousy cook and have no talent for coming up with things on my own, but using the creativity of others, I can find a good recipe to try (low-carb peanut butter cookies will be tried soon), get whatever ingredients I need, and make the recipe that day (often to the delight of my husband).

I read to try to find out what’s going on in the world. I’ve learned that there is a lot of mis-information out there provided by really biased folks with axes to grind, but if I keep looking, I can find more reliable sources and then can judge for myself what is important for me to know and what the facts are.

Mostly, though, I read for FUN. I am the happy owner of a lot of books that I enjoyed reading, and now enjoy re-reading. I also love ordering new books for my Kindle. I can dive into a world that allows me to leave whatever might be bothering me behind, immersing myself in a world of interesting people doing things I’d never dream of doing personally. I emerge, feeling rested and happy.

I don’t want to believe the statistics above. I feel sad that so many people are missing such a rich source of learning and happiness.  This would be something I would want to try to change – if I had the chance.

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Ends and Beginnings

Pinterest

I’ve just finished re-reading all the books by Robert B. Parker – there are 40+ books in the Spenser series, plus the Sunny Randall series, the Jesse Stone series, a couple of books for youth, and then the “western” series of 3 books. I’ve had a wonderful time immersing myself in his world for the past few weeks and now – I have to admit – I’m feeling a bit bereft. I love his world, no matter the series or characters.

I’m reading an interesting book now called, “The Residence – Inside the Private World of the White House “- covering the Kennedys through the Obamas through the memories of the huge staff that not only works there, but feel an intense loyalty to whomever is living there, as well as the house itself, and all it stands for. The book is by Kate Andersen Brower.

The next thing I’m going to dive into is a re-reading of all of the Lee Child books in the “Jack Reacher ” series. He has created a fascinating, smart character confronting complex issues.

 

My husband and I laughed when the first movie made from the series starred Tom Cruise. Jack Reacher is supposed to be 6’4″ and lanky, kind of scruffy looking. And then there’s Tom Cruise. I have to admit that once we got over the appearance of the character we had in our heads, Tom Cruise did a good job of playing him in the movie.

I’m looking forward to re-reading the Lee Child books. It has been several years, and he has one that we just bought in paperback to add to the list!

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Cure

http://www.belcastroagency.com via books rock my world via cathy ruggiero

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Cats and Flowers

One of my dear friends ordered two sets of hand-painted, personalized thank you notes recently – one with a cat theme and the other floral. I’ve had more fun doing this!

 

My friend knows my work. The cats will be silhouettes and cartoony and the flowers I paint are mostly ones that never were – except in my own mind. I’m spending a bit of time each day playing in my art room, trying to create thank you notes that will bring a smile or two.

Spending time there working on a project, trying to bring order out of chaos, or just experimenting, is just about the best time there is for me. The years fall away. Aches and pains fade. I’m totally absorbed, bopping to my music, surrounded by fun materials, with the only limitations my own imagination and ability. HEAVEN!

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Call

J.D. Salinger via thebookaholiccat.blogspot.com

There are two authors in this category for me – Nora Roberts, both for her romances and her J.D. Robb/Eve Dallas In Death Series; and Robert B. Parker. I’m now in the process of rereading his Spenser books, of which there are 40. I’m on #13 “Taming a Sea-Horse.”  Some of them have been read so many times that they’re falling apart, so I’m ordering ones in better shape to keep my collection intact.

Both of these authors have given me countless hours of pleasure with interesting characters I feel I know and care about. I can dive into a book and leave current worries behind. I feel so lucky to be able to read for pleasure.

When I was about 3 my family was all together one day in the living room. My mom was working a New York Times crossword puzzle and the daily cryptoquote. My dad was reading a book on archeology. My older brother was reading a comic book. I was sitting on the floor in the middle of the room looking at each of them in turn. I suddenly shocked everyone by saying, “I wish to HELL I could read!” There was silence after my brother’s gasp at my language. My parents were torn between washing my mouth out with soap and listening to the desperation in my voice. The desperation won, and my mom sat down beside me and began teaching me to read.

The school system tried to kill my love for reading and almost made it. By the time I got my Master’s Degree as a Reading Specialist, the last thing in the world I wanted to do was read something. For years I read as if I would be tested on it, or would have to write a paper about it. There were a couple of years where I read in order to prepare for teaching, but couldn’t read for pleasure. When I realized what I was doing, I made a conscious effort to get back the gift my mom gave me so many years ago.

I tried to give the gift to others, in the classroom and then in my own reading clinic. I only stayed in the public school system for eight years. I was constantly in trouble for using unorthodox methods, such a playing the guitar to teach phonics to my first graders, or giving out paper certificates under a tree on the playground on Fridays for good work that week. The clinic was a joy. My partner and I changed a lot of lives. We had children cry because they realized they weren’t ‘stupid,’ that they had just missed something they needed in order to make sense out of what they were seeing. We convinced one wonderful young man to go to college. He came back, several years later, thanking us for helping him become a park ranger. We did everything but make a profit, and so we had to shut the clinic down after three years. I feel lucky that we touched several lives.

I find it hard to imagine a life where reading isn’t an integral part, whether learning how to do something on the net, finding out about something interesting, following directions to cook a new dish, figuring out how to put something together, or the simply joy of escaping into different worlds, vicariously visiting places, meeting fascinating people!

I’m not sure what I would SAY to Nora Roberts or Robert B. Parker. I would probably be tongue-tied, trying not to sound like an idiot. Suffice to say, I would say a very sincere, “Thank you” for making my life so much richer.

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