Thursday, February 28, 2013

A Pair of Shoes by Van Gogh

A pair of boots 1885 by Vincent Van Gogh

In my visit today to the Mafre art museum, which incidentally was free entrance, the one that caught my interest most among the Impressionist paintings, was the above painting.  I liked its  simplicity and familiarity.  The shoes or boots looked torn and tarnished, recently worn and worked in.  As I have read,  the purpose of this painting was not to show the utilitarian use of the shoes, but to make the mind speculate the mystery of whose shoes they were.  It is puzzling to look at Pair of Old Shoes because what a person sees is a still-life of someone's work boots, but what he or she does not see is the man that just took them off.  However, not only was Van Gogh portraying absence in in this work, but he was communicating the concept that poor people live and die - some ignored and unnoticed their whole life.

In Pair of Old Shoes, he wanted the audience to understand that having compassion on the poor and the simple was so very important.  After looking at this painting, one is left with an experience of absence, and Van Gogh's hope was that these humble emotions would provide a motive for others to take notice and act charitably to the suffering and ignored world around them.  Source:  IDS 302 Project.

It seems to me that Van Gogh's hope is still a valid one to these days.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Convert Food Scraps into New Meals

In many occasions  waste food remains perfectly re-usable. There are simple ways of how to use them for other types of food.

It is very interesting to learn how to take advantage of those remains and leftovers that oftentimes go to the trash before they have to. Small tips handed down from grandmothers  are worth keeping  in mind.

One of the mostly used example, is to make delicious croquettes or patties from the remains of chicken, beef or fish.

It is also very common to use leftover meat from a stew or a soup by adding  tomatoes and peppers to the meat.

Also leftover vegetables, or legumes can be turned  the next day into a  tasty mash.

On the other hand, when the eggs from the fridge are about to expire, a good idea is to cook them and prepare for the next day menu a few eggs stuffed with tuna. Also, as referred with eggs, there is nothing like scrambled eggs to take advantage of the most varied of food remains.

There are many options that can be made, with the remains of meals to keep them out of the garbage.

Source :  Páginas Amarillas Cantv

Friday, February 08, 2013

Creativity with Dogs

The last Chinese Madness for their dogs. A new trend has emerged in the upper class of China where people are turning their pets in  miniature version of animals or dying them with crazy colors. It is acclaimed in a huge industry, in which the panda is the preferred model. They are spending a huge fortune in professionals, dyes, barbershops, accessories...  mainly for  Panda Puppies!

And who would say he has seen all?

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Short Visit to LA California

Recently this year, I  went to attend the 89th birthday celebration of my mother, Mary, who lives in Los Angeles in California, with my brother.  It was a great celebration, specially considering that my mother at her age is still healthy, perky and very sociable unlike many of her age.


We celebrated her birthday with a lot of activities during almost a month that I was there.  We shopped together for the clothes she had to wear, we had a lot of fun going to different places together, dining out, watching Broadway show of the Dream Girls, visiting the Arboretum gardens, and a Latin American museum called LACMA, went to see the space shuttle Endeavour in the Science Center and watched a movie in Imax in 3D,  but most of all we had a lot of bonding together with friends and relatives.  I also joined her activities in the Day Center where she enjoys socializing a lot while getting to dance, exercise and have a free lunch in pleasant company.  Likewise, I was there to see what she does to improve her arthritis in her right hand with physical therapy exercises.

Everyone seems to adore her because of her warm smiles and her camaraderie.  We had two different celebrations one with the relatives and close friends in a grand buffet dinner  and the other in the center where she herself arranged for  lechon, Chinese noodles, cake and coconut dessert to be served to more than 35 people, while the Center prepared a special program for her with poems, songs and dance.  These are truly some memorable moments for her.

Usually, I get to move around accompanied by either a relative or a friend and it was really fun to go shopping in LA.  Not only because there are different things that we do not usually find in Europe, just like  the toilet accessories that coordinate with the towels, the shower curtain, the toilet seat and all others.  The prices are much lower than those in Spain.  There are varieties of clothes with brand names that are at affordable prices, and I like the Liz Claiborne in particular, which in Madrid are so expensive and found only in El Corte Ingles, or some other boutiques, but in LA, a blouse can cost from 20 $ or even below.  Likewise to mention are the wrinkle and stain proof shirts and Levi's trousers which sell so cheap compared elsewhere.  I also love shopping in Chinatown, where for 10$, you get 5 tee shirts with good quality.  And my, oh my, the chocolate are so varied and cheap. 

Sometimes, I take the bus when nobody is available to take me out.  The bus stop is just a few blocks away from where my mother and brother live, so there is no fuss.  But then, being a public transport, everyone can take it, like the homeless and those with carts carrying plastic bottles to sell, which is very common there to earn money. There are also several handicapped persons in wheel chair or walker that are frequent users.  If you are lucky, you do not get to be delayed by them.  I was lucky, I did not coincide with them but once and I had 4 rides, each ride costing only 1,50$ which you should carry in exact change, otherwise you lose money or do not get to take the bus at all.  It is a different experience and quite safe.  The problem is when you cross the streets, you have to be very careful because there can be the reckless drivers who can hit you and run away  without even helping you to get up and much less take you to a hospital.  I heard of  the case of one of the Filipinas undergoing physical therapy for more than a year and still not get back to normal condition, because she was hit by a car as she was looking for her husband's car.  Although, the car was not running fast, she had the misfortune of having fallen so badly that she damaged her left arm and for some time had it in a cast.  The car driver, Filipino at that,  although identified, had no insurance and had no money so there was only the promise to pay, but has never happened.

LA has a  good climate and it does not get too cold for it to snow.  While I was there, and being in winter time, I wore only a light jacket or a sweater and  sometimes even none of those but a long sleeved shirt.  The LA people hardly dress up even when they go to the Broadway shows, and in the streets, you hardly see elegantly dressed up people.  But everyone seems to have a ready smile, to hold doors for you to walk in and to respond for directions quickly, when required.

American food can be pricey, but it is the Asian food that is within everyone's reach.  Cocktail bars and lounges are not very typical in most restaurants and cafes are also quite uncommon.  Markets for tropical fish are found mostly in Chinese supermarkets, while in the Mexican markets, they provide a lot of marinated meat and chicken ready to be cooked for tacos and fajitas.  Fruits are not commonly served for desserts.

Well, it was fun living new experiences and visiting the family.  There are always reasons to come back.