Holiday Season: Enjoying the Lights of Las Vegas

This week in the #Lens-Artist 128 Photo Challenge, Ann-Christine has offered us the opportunity of posting about the holiday season. Terri Webster Schrandt had a delightful post about Holiday Lights on #Sunday Stills.

“It is the beautiful task of Advent to awaken in all of us memories of goodness and thus to open doors of hope.”

Pope Benedict XVI

Our Holiday Season’s decorations and lights are downsized this year mostly because of our move rather than COVID 19. A month ago the Ingrao adventurers moved 500 miles from our beloved friends in California to Prescott, AZ.

Vince, Marsha, Kalev, Moji and Nutter Butter Ingrao have been staying with Vince’s sister Cindy, Snowbella, Florabella Ingrao in a two bedroom condo, which we found before we moved. We close on our new home on December 23, and our belongings arrive in January, which leaves no time, no ornaments and no lights to decorate this year.

So this year will be very different. We will attend a Christmas Eve service at our new church. On Christmas we will have dinner with Cindy and the five animals, who have learned to coexist in peace. We will light the last candle on the advent wreath, the candle of love, eat lasagna, salad, and a special chocolate delight Cindy is planning and watch Christmas movies. We might drive back to downtown Prescott and catch a last glimpse of the lights there.

“This is the season when people of all faiths and cultures are pushing back against the planetary darkness. We string bulbs, ignite bonfires, and light candles. And we sing.”

Anita Diamant

Holiday seasons with no small children in the family have been an opportunity for the elder Ingraos (that’s us) to explore unknown traditions. Last year at this time we hosted our blogging friends from Australia. One of the highlights was a trip to Las Vegas for nearly a week. They had not been to the mainland before so this was a holiday treat for all of us.

#Las Vegas Holiday Season

We marveled at the intricate work it took to build these scenes from flower petals. It was like the Rose Parade standing still for us to admire up close. Here is a close up shot of one of the horses. He’s so lifelike you can imagine that the fuzz between his eyes is a cloud of hot breath.

“I like to compare the holiday season with the way a child listens to a favorite story. The pleasure is in the familiar way the story begins, the anticipation of familiar turns it takes, the familiar moments of suspense, and the familiar climax and ending.”

Fred Rogers

Glamour from fairy tales of the past intrigued visitors from all over the world as we mingled in awe of the grandeur. I expected to see Cinderella step out of the carriage. But she did not. She was probably at home waiting for the prince to find her shoe and return it.

The millions of petals making up the coat precious Coca Cola polar bear roused up a lot of “Ahs from the crowd.”

Symbols of the holiday festivities, a nutcracker with his back to the elf and ballerina all stood poised ready for action – or animation.

We walked to and from the Bellagio from our hotel at Polo Towers. It turned out to be much farther than it looked on a map. Outside the weather was not frightful for a late December night, but it was chilly. The Eiffel tower changed colored lights on a timer. I tried to catch several rounds, but the rest of them washed out.

Vince saw something that captured his attention and stopped to take a picture unhindered by anyone in his way. The streets were closed except for the police and a few people that snuck outside of the barriers at intersections. Yet, there was no pushing or shoving. Every one carried on together civilly before COVID 19.

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.”

Oprah Winfrey

Justin Beaver, who came all the way from Australia to play with Manny, our teddy bear, was super disappointed in us. Sometimes Manny doesn’t want to go along with the older Ingraos and this was one of those time. If you’ve ever seen a temper tantrum, you probably recognize the scene. Manny needs to have a talk with Oprah.

Mrs. Eternal Traveler did not seem overly concerned with Justin either. She got caught up in the lights and action of the Las Vegas night life.

“The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.”

Buddy the Elf

Justin complained to Glen about it, but Glen told him to buck up and change his attitude then snapped his picture. Justin started singing.

Justin sang to Vince, but Vince walked away, looked down at his shoes, and pretended he didn’t notice a singing beaver trying to get his attention. Justin turned his back on him and stared at the lights waiting for the fireworks. It was getting late and past his bedtime. Manny texted him a picture of all his toys.

Justin wished he could have stayed behind and played with Manny. He thought about what his dad said. Justin sang his song again, a little louder.

“Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love.”

Hamilton Wright Mabie

Several of the young men waiting for the fireworks noticed Justin.

“Aw isn’t the beaver cute?” the young men shouted to each other as they looked back at Justin posing for his blog back in Australia. “Listen, he’s singing his little heart out!”

Justin felt better after people paid attention to him.

The holiday season is about love not about getting presents or even about eating until you are sick.

Remember the hated little tax collector, Zacchaeus in the Bible who sat in the tree waiting for Jesus to come by? We learned that day that God pays attention to us even if others dislike us. He knows us all by name. He loves us, no matter what.

Who knows when the Eternal Travelers will leave Australia especially now that they have a new grand baby. This was a holiday season of lifetime.

What are you doing this year, or do you have a special holiday season?

Don’t forget to join in with the Lens-Artists and Sunday Stills this week because next week they are going to be celebrating. Speaking of which, a new #WQWWC comes out Wednesday. You can check out the topic now and be ready with more celebration. Tie them all together!

Never Niggled to Share Precious New Prescott Memories

#Prescott Walk #3

Amy, today’s Lens Artist Challenger asked us to write about our precious memories. Since my memory spans nearly 70 years, and fortunately it’s still working, it would take a lot of sorting to lift out the most precious ones. Instead of taking you on a wild goose chase back through the years, I will share some of the new precious memories that Vince, his sister Cindy, and I are making in Prescott, AZ.

Each day is a new adventure for the three of us adrift in a town of 44,000 with no friends or family to draw us here.

Saturday night barely two weeks before Christmas, Vince and I left home before it got dark. When we reached the corner of Courthouse Square, the fun and beauty popped into view. If I didn’t already live here, I’d want to move.

Prescott Memories – Almost Never Niggle

Niggled to drive downtown
A cold day
To take pictures 
Of Courthouse Christmas lights.

Sunset, orange clouds welcome
Silhouettes of western buildings
Thousands of lights
Climb trunks, celebrate in the branches.

Lighting children’s faces
Reflecting the colors for 
Their parents to share on Facebook
While grandparents write loving comments.

Statues posing backlit by
Blue, red, green, yellow, white
Tree trunks riding side saddle
Angels keeping watch.

66 words

Experimenting with filters, I found this glass filter blurred the lights enough to draw attention to the sky. It looked like it was going to storm, but except for a few raindrops, the sky was colorful but quiet.

“Sunset, orange clouds welcome silhouettes of western buildings.”

This torn edges filter erased the beautiful sky but gave our new memory an old-fashioned look like something out of a fifties magazine.

This young man raced the fire engine, which added excitement to an already thrilled crowd. The filter done in Photoshop was my attempt to give the photo a newspaper look. I’m sure many people shared a similar picture on Facebook tonight.

Some of the trees not only had their trunks lit, but had blink white lights to resemble snow flurries in their leaves.

“Thousands of lights climb trunks celebrate in the branches.”

This statue came under debate in my last Prescott walk. Vince and I thought that the horse stood on the man. My friend Anne Leueen suggested that the horse stood beside the man rather than on him. I’m still not sure.

“Statues posing backlit by blue, red, green, yellow, white.”

Visitors and residents of Prescott gather at the Courthouse. Except for the police presence during the day, it seems more like a city park than a place to try criminals.

This picture also has a magical Photoshop spell cast on it. Maybe you can guess which one. My precious memory fails me on this one. 🙂

“Angels keep watch.”

This post is written in response to the following challenges:

Invitations

  • If you host a writing or photo challenge or know someone who does. I would love to highlight your challenge with an interview.
  • If you write with quotes, join me on Wednesdays for Writer’s Quotes Wednesdays. It’s been exciting to meet so many people who have loved this challenge in the past.
  • Do you write or love stories? Join us for a monthly Story Chat and the follow-up discussion that takes the story to the next level. I love what readers bring to the stories. WARNING!!! The discussions may change what you think.

#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

Lens Artist Challenge #122 Sunshine

We take sunshine for granted, but nothing is more beautiful and more beneficial to life. Thank you Ana, Lens-Artist Guest Host for this lovely theme, “The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow.”

The photos below come mostly from the tiny ranching community of Elderwood outside of the the small town of Woodlake, California. One picture comes from Sedona, Slick Rock, and one from the coast.

No matter where we are, there are times that the beauty of sunshine takes our breath away and gives us the sense of well-being at the same time. The quotes are mostly from Goodreads. Where do you find your best quotes?

“The sun is a daily reminder that we too can rise again from the darkness, that we too can shine our own light.”

S. Ajna

“If your life is constantly full of sunshine where each day is transformed into beauty and each worldly gift is yours to use, then you are one of a few.”

Byron Pulsifer
Bravo Lake in Woodlake, CA

“Ô, Sunlight! The most precious gold to be found on Earth.”

Roman Payne

“Sunlight makes the world come alive, so have a day filled with sunshine.”

Anthony T Hincks

“If you have extra to spare, share some of your sunshine with others. Those who are in a dark place may just need that small break in the their clouds to see some sunlight again.”

Christine E. Szymanski

“Look at the bright side of life and the bright side will look at you. The reflections we send out always return.”

 Ron Baratono

“It is within the sunshine of positive outlooks that we can feel the warmth needed to surpass the shadow of life’s challenges.”

Natasha Potter

“Sun will also retry to shine tomorrow then why not you.”

Rajesh Walecha

To see more entries this week, visit Ana’s website.