Sunday, August 31, 2014

Stories for the Bus

    ( A cloud traveling over a hill)

   When I ride the bus, I always bring along a book to read. The problem, however, is that the bus is an extremely distracting place to be. There are interesting sights to see outside. Whether it be the pretty view from the bridge or the interesting people roaming around downtown. There are also interesting things to witness inside...more interesting people! And when they are inside, I can sometimes overhear conflicts, stories, extremely personal phone conversations that probably should not be had on a bus and other interesting tidbits. This makes reading difficult. I read a couple of pages, get distracted, and by the time I am back at my book, I've lost my place. This is why I decided to start reading graphic novels and comics on the bus instead of books. If I loose my place, it is easy to find where I was. I just have to remember the last picture. It is not a perfect solution. Reading comics on the bus  has it's own set of challenges. Mainly that certain pictures could give the wrong idea of what sort of content I am reading.
   I've read two graphic novels recently that were very interesting reads. Both of them had similar themes: Family, identity and how we hide ourselves or are forced and pressured to hide ourselves by others.

  'Julio's Day' by Gilbert Hernandez is not just about a day, but about a life, and it is not just about Julio, but about the people who surround him. Julio's story also tells the story of the 1900's and the amazing changes that can happen in such a short amount of time. It is a story about friendship, family, loss, and about the different ways people cope with loss. The story has elements of the surreal, which only serve to make the story seem all the more real. In real life, distant memories feel strange and surreal sometimes.

'Unterzakhn' by Leela Corman is a story about twin sisters. Like Julio's day, the story starts when the two sisters are children and follow them through adulthood. Life treats them differently, pulling them in different directions which in turn pulls the sisters apart. It is also a story about the different ways women found independence in a time when it was a very difficult thing to accomplish.

(A boat traveling over a lake)

Friday, August 29, 2014

That One Dream about Sea and the Wharf

  I love wharves because there is something surreal and dreamlike about them. They are solid structures that jut out into the moving sea. All around, I can hear the sound of jostling waves, but the wharf remains unmoved. It was this wharf in California where I saw the sea lions, and their comical yet mournful bark echoed around in the air. The voices of the sea lions mingled with the squawk of the seagull, the swoosh of the surf and the chatter of the tourists. The sounds of the wharf are not it's only dreamlike quality. The abundance of bright and jolly colors that coat the wharf also make it seem otherworldly. The colors of the wharf are simultaneously saturated and deteriorating. Signs and buildings are painted with bright colors to attract the tourists, but the humid salt air wreaks havoc on the color.

     Now that I've looked over the photos I took at the wharf, it seems as if I was quite fascinated by the seagulls. I would have thought I'd get enough of them living in Seattle, but apparently not! On one of the rooftops their was a young gray seagull meeping at a plastic owl. I was worried that she had lost her mother and was trying to adopt the plastic owl to take care of her instead. Poor thing!
  Next to the wharf is a sandy beach where I went swimming in the sea. I haven't gone swimming in the ocean in a very long time! It was nice to be immersed in the ocean again. I could feel the loose strands of seaweed brush up against my toes or tangle around my ankles. The waves were very gentle and I peacefully bobbed on them. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Amazing Sea Lion

   I was at the ocean where I watched the sea lions underneath the wharf. They hollered, hooted, arfed and barked.
   The life of a sea lion: He lazes around in the afternoon sunshine; He flops into the refreshing sea and splashes about while chasing fish here and there; He is back underneath the wharf, lounging around some more; He sings jolly sea lion songs with his buddies, and the songs go like this "arf, arf, arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrf. Bark bark arf." What could they be singing about? Lost loves living underneath far-off wharves? Close encounters with sharks? How the sea lion is the grandest of all sea mammals?
  I love watching the sea lions. They are so amazing. Can you imagine being as big as a sea lion? On land, mobility looks miserable. They are forced to do a shuffling waddle that surely must be uncomfortable since their body basically has to scrape against the surface they are moving over. But once they are in the water, they are free and graceful like dancers. Their massive weights hardly matter. They can move in any direction as the water laps around them. It must be frustrating to know they can move with such grace but are forced to move slowly and clumsily on land.
  But, it turns out being a sea lion isn't just about singing love-filled sea shanties, and splash-frolicking through beautiful seaweed forests. No, not at all! While observing these majestic creatures, I witnessed a tense situation: A sea lion encounter that could have easily turned into a sea lion brawl. Sea lion one, we'll call him Eddie, waddles along two wooden planks underneath the wharf. Sea lion two, we'll call him Hershey, is sitting on the plank that Eddie is waddling toward. Hershey is like "HELL NO EDDIE! Stay away from me!" Eddie, ever the diplomat, retreats. Here it is in graphic visual detail!

Most of the other sea lions, however, had a more 'sharing is caring' outlook. They are so cute when they snuggle together.

Look at these cute fellows!

I watched them swimming in the water too. When these two swam by, the little girl next to me squealed with delight and said "Look at those two lovebirds!"

And here's a guy swimming solo, enjoying the wild and fancy-free lifestyle of an unattached bachelor.

I even got to see a sea lion baby! Talk about adorable! She is cuddling with her mother.

I will end this post with a couple of sea lion themed popsicle-stick jokes:

What do you call a citrusy sea creature?
 .... A Vitamin C Lion.

What is the most important position in the underwater circus?
.... The sea lion tamer.

What was the number one country hit under the sea?
.... Blame it on your sea lion, cheating heart.

How do the baby marine animals learn their alphabet?
..... by singing their "A, B, C-lions!

What does the skeptical sea animal say?
...."I'll believe it when I see lion it."

I could keep going with these jokes, and I really want to, but for everyone else's sake, I will restrain myself. 

Friday, August 8, 2014

The Wonderful Cormorant

  What happens to the cormorants during the Summer? They must be out there somewhere, but I only seem to notice them in the Winter. Maybe because so many birds fly South, they stand out against the bleak, bird-less landscape. Cormorants always cheer me up during the Winter. On sunny days (or more likely sunny moments during a cloudy day) I see them in the middle of the water, standing on a buoy with wings outstretched. They look like they are embracing the sunshine. Or like they are members of some ancient religion that worships the sun.
   When I was little and would spend my time pondering over which animal would be the best to turn into, I usually settled on a duck. I liked that they seem to feel equally comfortable in the air, on the water and on land. Ducks do not have the same lousy limitations that us humans have. But if I had known about the cormorant back in my childhood, I am sure I would haven chosen this bird instead to transform into if given the choice. They do not merely float on the water, but dive deep into, like a bird momentarily transformed into a fish.
  Another thing about cormorants- they are goofy. They are not graceful or dainty like most birds. Their looks are wonderfully strange.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Bones and Other Lost Memories of Our Home from a Long, Long Time Ago

  A couple of weeks ago there was a random and wonderful rainstorm on my day off. I know it makes me a grouch, but I do not like hot weather and am looking forward to the cool breezes of Autumn. There is still a lot I like about Summer- late sunsets, evenings outdoors (when the temperature has cooled a bit and the outdoor air feels glorious) and fruit salads to name a few. But when I look at the weather report and see day after day of temperatures in the high-eighties and sometimes even nineties, it makes me cringe! So the rainstorm was a joy!
   I spent the day at the Natural History Museum. I love going to museums on rainy days. I like escaping to a cozy spot where I can spend some time engulfed in the other world the museum offers. I like when I happen to walk past a window, hearing the rain outside, which makes the inside world seem all the more like a haven, and like it's own separate world.
  The last time I went to the Seattle Natural History Museum was several years ago right after I came back from D.C. This was a bad idea. I had just spent a week exploring the free museums at the National Mall, including the Smithsonian Natural History Museum which is an absolutely amazing museum. Boy was I disappointed by our little museum. The Smithsonian was still too fresh in my mind for me to fully appreciate the museum Seattle had to offer.  But during this visit, I really got to appreciate our Natural History Museum. It was fun looking at all the different natural specimens and dinosaur bones.

Here I am, hamming it up for the camera, pretending to fly in front of the bird wall.

Here are bones, birds, bugs, rocks and other interesting specimens:

Monday, August 4, 2014

Sunshine and Picture Books

  One thing that I think is a great Summer activity is laying out a blanket on a nice patch of grass while perusing through art books. I got a stack of interesting picture-filled books recently from the library.

( I just noticed that Little Big Books and A Map of the World share two of the same editors. Obviously I like these two people's tastes!)

Unusual Creatures:

'Unusual Creatures' is a book full of awesomely illustrated animals. And as the name suggests, not your average animal, they are quite unusual. I like the giant salamander because I think I saw one once in some one's front yard. The leafy Sea Dragon seems like a beautiful creature. I wonder why there are not more animals that have evolved to resemble plants. It seems like a good method of camouflage.

Little Big Books:

 I love illustrations from children's books. I love that they are full of whimsy, story and imagination. I find this sort of art very inspiring.

A Map of the World:

  When I am using a map to actually try and get somewhere, maps stress me out. But appreciating the beauty of maps as pieces of art is fun. Also, maps inspire the imagination. It is fun to look at them and imagine going to the places depicted.

Fritz Kahn:

Fritz Kahn's illustrations are so cool! They are very scientific looking without always being true to science. Although that is not to say that all his science themed illustrations are inaccurate.