Puppy-Girl-Approved Reflection of 2020

Sunday Stills Challenge  

“Retrospective shows our year in words, photos, stories, and other creative endeavors. Share your good and bad, your best and worst, and what your hope is as 2021 begins.”

Terri Webster Schrandt

As strange as it was, it may have been one of the busiest year of our lives. I love what Terri said about the year in her challenge post talking about the game-changing done by COVID 19.

“…If this was a sci-fi movie, the plot would demonstrate the resilience of humanity as we navigate through these unprecedented times.” 

Terri Webster Schrandt

Lens-Artists Challenge #129 – Favorite Images of 2020

Tina Schell’s posts reminds me that I don’t need to be so wordy, I can just share my favorite pictures – even that would be 12 pictures, and I have way more than that to share. Donna had a great idea when she displayed her pictures and grouped several together by month.

Also Included Are:

This post is way too long. Take your time or skim, either way thank you for reading and being part of my Always Write Hobby Blogger Family this year. You are the some of the bright spots in my 2020 tapestry. It was a memorable year with the good and bad woven so tightly into the design that you couldn’t unravel it with the sharpest stitch remover.

January 2020

We brought 2020 in with a bang in Las Vegas with our blogging friends from Australia, Carol and Glen.

Las Vegas Fireworks welcoming in 2020

We only has a short time with them, but squeezed in a trip to Hoover Dam, sights on the strip on New Year’s Even, a trip to the pawn shop of the famous Pawn Stars, and downtown Las Vegas.

We drove home to California and had time for only about an hour in the Sequoia National Park.

Days after they left, I had my final surgery following nearly a year-long bout with breast cancer. Vince was scheduled for eye surgery for cataracts in February and Scardy, our 19-year old cat had successful surgery for nose cancer.

Marching along the timeline of life, you have no way of knowing the the line is going to break two months down the road. Looking back we are so grateful that we got all those medical issues out of the way when we did.

Vince finished building a walkway and bridge in the garden. Puppy Girl inspects all his work and gave her approval. This picture is in black and white for Cee’s Black and White Challenge Outside Your Home.

Bridge over no water at Bellavista, our home in Elderwood, CA

February – Supposed Alien

After his successful eye surgery, Vince and I took one last trip to Las Vegas in which we occupied our time hiking around the gorgeous Valley of Fire. This upstanding statue kept his feelings well hidden. Surely those tears did not come from a volcanic eruption!

March

On the night of our Woodlake Awards Banquet, before the pandemic officially started, we found out that two Kiwanians were quarantined with possible COVID-19. We were stunned, not just that they were sick, but that they were condemned to stay in their home for two weeks. Kiwanians stepped in to bring them food and groceries. Even so, I could not in my wildest dreams have foreseen what was coming. Within two weeks everyone holed up in their homes during the California Lock-Up.

Our son was supposed to visit us at the end of March and he called and canceled. I was shocked and a little perturbed at the time. It only seemed logical that if everyone stayed home for two weeks, the bug would get fed-up and die out.

I stayed home except to walk around Bravo Lake with my friend Sally until the pandemic blew over, which I assumed would be soon. Sally made us masks which I wore when I went out and eventually got used to breathing through it.

April – the Month of Hope

Hope evaporates
Like steam off a cup of tea
Yet life continued

Written for Tanka Tuesday Hope.

roses at Woodlake Rose Garden

May – Month of Mechanical Mess-ups

When our air conditioner died, it disrupted COVID-19 from first place upsets. Washing lettuce from our garden supplied most of our excitement and coolant during May.

cleaning lettuce for entertainment

I grew up in Indiana and then Oregon without an air conditioner. At a family reunion my seven-year-old self overheard an adult relative who shall remain nameless because I don’t have the slightest idea who said it, “Look at poor Marsha, she sweats just like her mother.”

I was upset at her insulting, though accurate diagnosis even though it was supposed to sound like sympathy.

Fast forward nearly 30 years when my first husband and I moved to California we lived in an adobe house with a swamp cooler in the hall ceiling outside the only bathroom. That was important because of my hair and the nature of swamp coolers, which blow hot wet air when the temperature rises over 90. My thin wisps whipped around my face into my eyes, stuck to my contacts and made me cry ruining my carefully applied makeup and my hairdo every time I left the bathroom.

I digressed to supply and explanation for how supremely important air conditioning is in my life. When the AC could not be replaced in a timely manner because of the COVID slow down, a couple of people suggested that we needed a swamp cooler. LOL

June – Month of Real Estate Transaction

Vince retired from real estate because of his bad hearing in January, but that did not stop the transactions. We sold a rental in March – a miracle we thought because of COVID-19. As it turned out COVID-19 had turned everyone into real estate tycoons including us. This was our second transaction – a replacement rental for my IRA account. It rented as soon as it was completed, and has been a blessing in our life.

New rental house in Visalia, CA

Food is always a priority on my list. Our air conditioner still wasn’t working as the weather heated up and the restaurants stayed closed because of COVID-19.

One of our best friends invited us over for dinner and air conditioning several times a week. One couple baked pizza on Wednesdays for pick-up and donated a large part of the proceeds to the Woodlake Food Pantry. June wasn’t euphoric, but it was a time of getting creative and grouping together to get through the crisis.

July – What Else Could Happen?

My blogging friend Terri Webster Schrandt actually came to our home in the short interim in which the air conditioner worked, and the flood hadn’t started. Even though a raccoon bit me in the middle of the night, I was raring to go on a photo journey the next day to Sequoia National Park.

Realtors, even retired ones, invest in real estate. Vince got a call from a builder friend of his asking if we would sell the vacant lot next to us. We had left the acre fallow for twenty years rather than one year every seven as the Old Testament required. At that rate it should be productive for another 140 years.

We sold the lot and the next Sunday Vince invited another realtor friend over to “look at” our house and update the estimate on how much it might be worth. She also listed the rental where Vince’s sister lived, and Cindy moved in with us.

In the meantime, I kept occupied blogging and taking in five of our neighbor’s 50+ feral cats in to the vet to be fixed. They came back missing part of an ear (and other parts, too). That’s how you can tell they are fixed. Another five we caught/trapped and carted off to new homes. That was not super successful.

Neighborhood Healthy Feral Cat Colony

August – More Mess-ups

Some of you have read these sad tales of our air conditioner flood before, so I won’t repeat them. All these catastrophes kept our minds off COVID-19.

Looking in through a window at our flooded room

By the end of August we had endured all the paper work of two more real estate transactions. Our upmost need was to find a place for Cindy and her stuff to live besides our tiny cabana. Vince still wanted to move to Prescott, AZ, so we embarked on our fifth transaction and bought a condo for Cindy – in Prescott. Good thing she wanted to move with us! Now we had to uproot!

September – Septic Upwelled – AGAIN!

You’ve read our cat stories of Snickerdoodle and Tex. They were untroubled by our turmoil. By September we were itching to move. Vince still wanted to get a few more things perfect before we listed the house, but our realtor Patty urged him not to wait to list the house. So we sold the house, our sixth transaction for the year, and then dealt with the septic problems.

Snickerdoodle above, Tex below, my sunglasses for perspective

October – Giddyup

On a more upbeat note, Patty and Jesse took the three of us to a Dave Stamey outdoor concert as a thank you for listing Cindy’s condo. We felt safe and joyful as we sat in family groups in the open air enjoying the famous cowboy poet. Here is a short video for your euphonic enjoyment.

Open Air Dave Stamey Fundraiser in Elderwood, CA

Another positive event of the month was the honor of hosting one of the Carrot Ranch Rodeo Contests.

November – Goodbye

“Never underestimate the power you have to take your life in a new direction.”

Germany Kent
Last view of Bellavista, our house for nearly 20 years.

The garage sale was long over. The movers had loaded the last of our furniture and boxes. It was empty. I took pictures of every room, but no wall hugging pictures. I was alone and I don’t have long enough arms to do selfies.

Vince had gone the day before in a UHAUL with all of Cindy’s things.

Brave or stupid, Jesse agreed to drive Cindy to Prescott in her car and they left early in the morning as the movers arrived. I have never been more grateful to anyone in my life. But the dangers of COVID-19 still raged in our county as they flame now in Arizona. Like Patty and I, they traveled nine hours in a car together and I believe that God kept them both safe.

I said goodbye to our home of nearly twenty years and went three miles up the road where the animals and I spent the night at Sally and Mike’s Bed and Breakfast, Running P Ranch. Smart move!

December – New Beginnings

Bridge at Tanglewood Hills Cindy’s new home

My life if full of new beginnings now. Besides the fact that I am in a new place, one of the tools that has kept me sane and healthy over the last 9 months is blogging.

The series of interviews of so many blogging challenges on the web got me started with a purpose for my blog. By supporting challenges I can share my photos and my stories, meet friends, and have fun.

The series ran its course and then Story Chat sprang up with Hugh Roberts’ The People Under the Stairs. What fun that has been! In less than two weeks you will read “A Postcard from the Past” by Anne Goodwin.

Because of the interview with Colleen Chesebro, I started learning and using poetry in my writing. I’ve met so many interesting people through her blog. She invited me to restart one of her challenges, Writers Quotes Wednesdays Writer’s Challenge, #WQWWC.

Another interviewee, Yvette Prior honored me with an interview. Next week Yvette will host the #WQWWC topic “Persistence” on Priorblog. I can’t wait to hear what she has to say about it. Please join in on her blog next week. I will post a response to her challenge right along with you, and will visit your responses along with her.

Searching for shapes at Willow Lake in Prescott, AZ.

Thanks for taking the time to read this long post. Please visit some of the other participants when you visit Sunday Stills, Lens Artists, Cee’s Fun Fotos Challenge, and Becky B’s Square Up as well as Tanka Tuesday. And don’t forget to check out #WQWWC on Priorblog next Wednesday.

CFFC: Catching People Unaware in Downtown Prescott

Courthouse Square in downtown Prescott (pronounced Pres – kit) effervesces with interesting people walking around just before Christmas, trying to take their own pictures, watching and listening to bands practice for New Years’ Celebrations, playing ball. Just relaxing. Here are just a few of them.

Posing for Mom

Celebration adds a note of gaiety, festivity, hilarity to our lives. After all, Jesus rejoiced so fully in life that He was accused of being a winebibber and a glutton. 

Richard Foster The Celebration of Discipline

Mom was probably wanting to send a Christmas email or greeting to the grandparents. The kids had done some elaborate preparation for the pictures. They seemed to be having fun together.

Marsha’s Busted – They Caught Me!

Mom There’s a Stranger Taking My Picture

Far and away the most important benefit of celebration is that it saves us from taking ourselves too seriously. 

Richard Foster

Even animals can be a little paranoid and in need of a celebration. This little guy reminded me of our dog – clingy! 🙂

Play Ball

People of our time are losing the power of celebrationInstead of celebratingwe seek to be amused or entertained. Celebration is an active state, an act of expressing reverence or appreciation. To be entertained is a passive state – it is to receive pleasure afforded by an amusing act or a spectacle…. Celebration is a confrontation, giving attention to the transcendent meaning of one’s actions.”

Abraham Joshua Heschel

My husband saw his chance as the ball rolled toward him. He rolled it back. The toddler’s grin widened to the size of the sidewalk.

Missed it – Again!

Rooted

“Man’s celebrative and imaginative faculties have atrophied.”

Harvey Cox

This guy never moved the entire time we walked around shooting pictures. I decided he must want his picture taken.

You Looking at Me?

“A million dollar question everyone is asking these days is what I am going to do with rest of my life. It is really really very Indefeasible thought. Let you keep it very simple by just being amazing today.” 

Rajesh Goyal

Two girls in blue hair took their service dogs for a walk. I’m not sure what the service was, but the girls had their 100% loyalty. After they crossed the street another lady met them and was asking strangers to ask to go pet the dogs. I guess I’d already broken the ice and the dogs passed with flying colors. Celebration time!

The little service dog was not to sure that this was a celebratory moment. But he was going to do his duty and protect his trainer. It’s not obvious, but he put his paw on his mistress’ foot and gave me the look.

These photos were taken in response to the following challenges. For more great entries click on the links.

#Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: “Watch Out for Pricks!”

To be absolutely clear, Cee didn’t actually say that. She invited us to post about trees and leaves. Even though I don’t want to touch them, all the prickly needles we find in the desert are actually leaves.

Prescott Walk #4 Willow Lake

Vince loves tee shirts that say the naughty things in good fun, and this saying came from one of them he didn’t buy. The writers were not joking about finding a lot of prickly things in Arizona. It is desert, after all.

Have you ever let your mind drift as you strolled on the bottom of a lake? Willow Lake has seen much higher days, and so this tree has been underwater. Judging from the looks of it now, being thrust underwater wasn’t a particularly pleasant experience. Written for #Three Things Challenge #448

“A cold wind was blowing from the north, and it made the trees rustle like living things.”

George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones

Unlike Woodlake, where they don’t know whether or not they should prune the roses because it hasn’t been very cold yet, Prescott is not having that problem. Today on our mid-afternoon walk, I wore two jackets and felt quite comfy in spite of the cold wind. The sun was bright, but not warm. The views of the Granite Dells with a frame of tree needles was stunning. Written for #WQWWC #3 – Winter

Unlike the Wisconsin Dells, “the Granite Dells is a geological feature north of Prescott, Arizona. The Dells consist of exposed bedrock and large boulders of granite that have eroded into an unusual lumpy, rippled appearance. Watson Lake and Willow Lake are small man-made reservoirs in this formation. [1]

This blackened dormant tree silhouetted against the rock formation shows what looks evidence of former fire damage as that is a major problem in Arizona as it is in California.

Cactus,
conifer trees,
Willow deciduous, 
create a Granite Dells canvas,
post freeze.

Cinquain
Marsha Ingrao 2020
Written for Tanka Tuesday #203

#Lens Artist Challenge #126 Avila Beach

Patti Moed is taking us back to the basics for this week’s Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #126–namely, the ABC’s. She’s starting at the very beginning with the letter A.  This challenge runs from noon on Saturday until the next Friday.

The featured picture for the post was taken in Australia of a store window at night anticipating Christmas.

Sunset pictures at Avila Beach

I wanted to create a double exposure, so I went to the guided section of Photoshop and started playing. My edition did was too old and didn’t feature the double exposure effect.

It did have some other options. The first picture is a paintbrush effect. You just wave the magic brush across your picture to give it more of a painted look.

When I saw the puzzle guided feature, I had to try it. Most of you know that I am addicted to digital jigsaw puzzles. One of the steps in the guided instructions was to remove pieces. I’m not sure what you are supposed to do with them after you take them out, but I did what most puzzlers do – laid them on the picture until I could figure out where they went. Of course we all know where they go, but I didn’t figure out why we were supposed to remove them in the first place. This is not a puzzle you can play.

The two men playing here were my blogging friend, the Eternal Traveler’s husband whom she calls Mr. ET from Australia any my husband from America. It was wonderful to have them visit us for a week and travel in the US just before the COVID restrictions hit.

Both of these pictures work for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge Sunset to Sunrise started Dec. 1.

CFFC runs weekly challenge starting every Tuesday.

Have fun everyone, and don’t forget to check back with both of these challenges and visit some new friends and check in on some familiar faces as well.

#CFFC: White or Cream Colors Before COVID 19

Lens Artist Photo Challenge #124 Before and After

The entire world is adjusting to life after COVID. Now Vince plays free poker online and complains about it every time he does. “These people don’t know how to play.”

Vince in 7th heaven before COVID 19 got to play in a tournament in the Venetian.

Fortunately our friends Glen and Carol came all the way from Australia BEFORE the COVID lockdown. We had such a good time that they went back the third week they were in the US, and we went back in February. The clear blue sky contrasted so beautifully with the statue and the pharaoh’s head dress.

Because of the cooler weather, November through March or April were the best months to visit Las Vegas. Now travel is limited. Even though COVID had not reared it’s ugly head, when we went in February 2020, Vince was careful not to touch railings and to use hand sanitizer constantly.

These adorable polar bears visited the Bellagio for the winter. I’m sure they had to go home after COVID hit.

I just realized that I spent some worthless time putting white frames around all these pictures. So much for trying to impress you all with my Photoshop talents.

This next photo shows you how hot it gets in Las Vegas. This shade covering stands outside of the Shelby Car Museum. What interested me was the tree growing underneath the cover. The heat in the summer is brutal. I swore the last time we went in July for a Kiwanis conference that I would never do it again. It was easy to stay away this year. Because of COVID, Kiwanis put all their conferences on Zoom.

Finally, you all know I love history, but I was more interested in the contrast of colors in this picture of New York New York in Las Vegas. I think I was shooting for the doughboy on the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument, but I can’t tell you for sure that’s what it is. I’m making an assumption based on the fact there is a Doughboy Park in the Queens in New York and I think his clothing and weapon look more like WWI than WW2. Agree or Disagree?

Before the destruction that followed COVID, I don’t remember any statues in my lifetime – controversial or otherwise that were torn down by rioters or protesters in the United States. Vandalized statues are something we no longer have to imagine in the United States. As of July 22, there were 179 monuments ruined including a 120-year-old statue of an elk in Portland, Oregon. History will tell if this violent method of protest was more successful in bringing about racial equity than the marches of the 1960s.

Visit the Challenge Hosts & Leave Your Mark

I hope you enjoyed my whites and creams for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge, which runs from Tuesday through Monday. I barely squeaked in this week. Click to see some other samples of whites and creams and to learn how to submit your own photos.

CFFC runs weekly challenge starting every Tuesday.

Amy of the Lens-Artist team invited us to reminisce about life before and after COVID in Challenge #124. Check out her comment section to visit other contributors. Their challenge comes out each Saturday at noon.

Talk to Me

If you host or contribute to a photo or writing challenge, I would love to interview you and get the word out to other hobby bloggers. Contact me below or by email- marshaalwayswrite@tchistorygal.net