Solbit’s Argentinian find: bathroom humor!

Dear Nicalai,

I’m am so sad today.  We have begun our trip from South America back to the US.  We’re waiting at the Trelew airport for a flight. Trelew is in Patagonia.  Papa is in the Men’s room.  He went there to get away from my whining again and again, “I want to stay here!”  Even after our wonderful seven months living in Ecuador, Peru, and Argentina, I’m not yet ready to go home.

Papa just came back from the Men’s Room.  He saw me still pouting to Nona, but he returned anyway. Right away, he found a way to cheer me up with some bathroom humor.

“Solbit, you have to look at this photo that I just took in the restroom,” he said enthusiastically.  “Papa, I’m not sure that would be appropriate,” I replied, even before Nona could close her dropped, disapproving jaw.

“Don’t worry,” he said, “I didn’t go low with my iPhone camera. You’ll appreciate this and so will Nona.  Nona, close you mouth and look here.”  Then he exposed his big iPhone 6 screen for us to see. “This is what I saw when I was standing in the bathroom and turned my head,” Papa explained.

Papa said he felt like “The Eyes of Trelew” were upon him, just when he needed his privacy!

Papa said he felt like “The Eyes of Trelew” were upon him, just when he needed his privacy!

“For just a fraction of a second, I thought a woman was staring at me through her sunglasses, and then I started to laugh, because I realized I’d been fooled,” Papa laughed, and we did too. “That is funny!” Nona exclaimed, “I wonder if there’s one in the women’s restroom?”  She and I checked.  There was! That one is a big mirror made to look like a man’s sunglasses though. Nona and I laughed again, and I almost forgot to be sad.

Papa said that the mirrors in the Men’s and Women’s rooms weren’t just “bathroom humor” but also art.  “Art?” I questioned, “in a bathroom? I don’t think so.”  Nona jumped in, “Oh, sure, art can be found almost anywhere.  Remember the mural outside of that pizza shop in Buenos Aires, Solbit?”  I did remember that painting of movie characters. Check this out.

Right there at the pizza shop was Don Corleone and Darth Vader.  Wonder if either of them liked pizza? Does Darth Vader eat or is he just a machine now?

Right there at the pizza shop was Don Corleone and Darth Vader.  Wonder if either of them liked pizza? Does Darth Vader eat or is he just a machine now?

Oops, our plane is here. We have to put the computer away and board. I’ll have to finish this email another day.  Stay tuned…..

Our art appreciation continued when we arrived at our next stop, Washington, DC.  Nona and Papa took me to the Phillips Collection — they collect art there.  We saw this amazingly detailed portrait called, “Mercy,” by Whitfield Lovell.

A fine portrait doesn’t need to be in oil paint on canvas. This dignified image of a man who was made a slave is in charcoal and on wood.

A fine portrait doesn’t need to be in oil paint on canvas. This dignified image of a man who was made a slave is in charcoal and on wood.

I guess art can be found in many different places and can be created out of many different things.  For another example, look at this.  Papa said he thought it was oil paint on canvas, and he’s right.

Nona really liked this ballpoint pen and crayon portrait by his wife, Sally Michel. I do too.  Hey, I have a ball point pen and crayons. Maybe I’ll try being an artist!

Nona really liked this oil on canvas portrait of Marsden Hartley by Milton Avery.  I don’t have canvas or oil paint, but, hey, I have a ball point pen and crayons. Maybe I’ll try being an artist!

Well, as you can tell, we’re back in the USA.  Although I’m sad to have left South America, I’m pretty happy eating great food at Uncle Tom & Aunt Barbara’s home on Capitol Hill, and we can just walk to the free Smithsonian museums on the mall here to see more art. It’s not South America, and I do miss hearing Spanish, but I can’t complain. Bye!

I’m your friend.

Love,

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Solbit

November 20016

*New reader? Get oriented below.

  • You may be asking yourself, “Who is Solbit?” Solbit is a fictional character, but she is a real plastic dinosaur, sent to us unsolicited in a package we ordered from Photojojo. So, she’s a plastic jurassic. Solbit is short for the four names given her by our grandchildren: Sparkle, Orangie, Lulu, Breakit. We tend to use her given names for when she’s been naughty. Thank you for visiting Tales of a Plastic Jurassic. Solbit likes company and hopes you’ll come back.
  • You can learn more about Solbit at her About page and in the earlier posts, “Solbit: How I Got My Name” and “Solbit: How I Got to Travel.”

Solbit Sees Tricky Art

Dear Nicalai,

We saw some tricky art yesterday. We went for a walk in our neighborhood in Quito.  What could be more boring, right?  Wrong.

Only a few blocks from our hostal, we found a little neighborhood park surrounded by colorful buildings.  Some painters went wild, but just with color, not playing tricks on us.

When we go for walks, we expect to be surprised, and, rarely, are we disappointed.

When we go for walks, we expect to be surprised, and, rarely, are we disappointed.

“Wow, I wonder who lives here?” Papa wondered aloud. I replied, “I don’t know, but they sure love colors.”

All around the little public square the buildings are painted bright colors, some with intricate patterns.

All around the little public square the buildings are painted bright colors, some with intricate patterns.

Then, after a walk around the square, I learned a new word “trompe l’oeil,” when Papa tried to sit down at this table.

Papa walked over to that chair on the left, backed into it to sit down, and -- surprise -- hit his butt into the wall.

Papa walked over to that chair on the left, backed into it to sit down, and — surprise — hit his butt into the wall.

That’s when Nona told me about the painters’ trick. “Trompe l’oeil” refers to a way of painting to “trick the eye,” and Papa’s eyes were definitely tricked by that painting on the wall.  Even Nona — a painter herself — has made these trick paintings.  She painted a floor canvas and made it look like a carpet was crooked.  People who walk on that painting try to straighten the rug!

Oh, hey, this is really cool news.  It’s not just human beings who trick the eye with art.  Nature does it too.  Nona took this photo of a creature with a big eye that got on Papa’s shirt.

On first glance, you might think that's an animal with a big eye, but look again. It's a pattern on a butterfly's wing!

On first glance, you might think that’s an animal with a big eye, but look again. It’s a pattern on a butterfly’s wing!

I wonder if that butterfly knows the word “trompe l’ceil” or speaks French? It sure knows how to make a tricky picture on itself.  Papa says the artist for that butterfly’s wing is “Natural Selection.”  That’s a weird name.  Who wants to be named “Natural Selection?” Maybe some artists would like the name.

I discovered that butterflies and I have something in common. We both like bananas.

I discovered that butterflies and I have something in common. We both like bananas.

Butterflies, Nona, and I — we girls — like bananas, and Papa hates bananas.  I wonder if that’s just Papa or if its all guys who don’t like bananas?  Guys would be missing out on a good thing if they all hated bananas the way Papa hates them.

Now you can see how our ordinary walks get me to thinking about all kinds of interesting questions that I didn’t have when I started my walks.  I have come to the conclusion just now that bananas and walks are good for me and, probably, for you too.  Bye!

I’m your friend.

Love,

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Solbit

June 2016

*New reader? Get oriented below.

  • You may be asking yourself, “Who is Solbit?” Solbit is a fictional character, but she is a real plastic dinosaur, sent to us unsolicited in a package we ordered from Photojojo. So, she’s a plastic jurassic. Solbit is short for the four names given her by our grandchildren: Sparkle, Orangie, Lulu, Breakit. We tend to use her given names for when she’s been naughty. Thank you for visiting Tales of a Plastic Jurassic. Solbit likes company and hopes you’ll come back.
  • You can learn more about Solbit at her About page and in the earlier posts, “Solbit: How I Got My Name” and “Solbit: How I Got to Travel.”

Solbit chooses art

Dear Nicalai,

“The naked woman behind Nona!”  That’s how I answered Papa’s question, “Solbit, what was your favorite experience here at The Getty today?”  Yeah, that had to be the best.  Although, even better might have been if Nona had taken his suggestion.

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Reclining Woman by Aristide Maillol

After he took this photo of her and the naked woman, he said, “Now, take off your clothes and lie on your hip like her, and I’ll get both of you in the same pose.”  But, she didn’t take his suggestion.  Instead, she said, “Your pushing your luck, Buster! Let’s move on.” I like it when Papa asks me questions like that.  He’s not doing it like a teacher to get me to learn something.  No, he asks because he is really interested in what I’m thinking and how I experience things.  I like that. He also asked me, “And what was your least favorite experience here at the Getty?”  That was easy to answer.  “That poor little frog being caught in the boys fingers. He wants to get away so much, but the boy won’t let him go. I felt so bad for the little frog, but we couldn’t help him. Could we?” “No, Solbit, we couldn’t change that sculpture to let the frog go,” Papa explained, “but I bet the artist would be pleased that his sculpture made you feel like that.”

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Boy with Frog My “let it go” thoughts didn’t help.

Isn’t it odd how a piece of cold stone, shaped by hand, can turn on an emotion in me, even though I know it’s not real? How can art do that?  It made me think too.  I thought, if I had fingers and a hand, I wouldn’t do that to a helpless frog, and I wondered what makes that boy do that? As we drove to our next destination, Papa asked me, “Solbit, if you could take home anything that you saw today at The Getty, what would it be?” Another easy question to answer: “I’d take the Central Garden.”  Nona jumped in, “Me too!”

Robert Irwin’s not just any gardener but like many a gardener he’s an artist.

Robert Irwin’s not just any gardener but like many a gardener he’s an artist.

Papa laughed, “Well, girls, I hate to tell you, but I don’t think it would fit into the trunk of our Honda Civic.”  “No, but a girl can dream, especially when she’s in California, can’t she?” I replied.  “Dream on, girl,” Papa said, and we sped up Route 1 on our way to San Jose. I’m your friend.

Love,

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Solbit

March 2015

*New reader? Get oriented below.

  • You may be asking yourself, “Who is Solbit?” Solbit is a fictional character, but she is a real plastic dinosaur, sent to us unsolicited in a package we ordered from Photojojo. So, she’s a plastic jurassic. Solbit is short for the four names given her by our grandchildren: Sparkle, Orangie, Lulu, Breakit. We tend to use her given names for when she’s been naughty. Thank you for visiting Tales of a Plastic Jurassic. Solbit likes company and hopes you’ll come back.
  • You can learn more about Solbit at her About page and in the earlier posts, “Solbit: How I Got My Name” and “Solbit: How I Got to Travel.”

Solbit Sees Trash Turned to Art

Dear Nicalai,

When’s the last time you looked a broken pieces of a plate, a cup, a saucer, or a bowl, and you didn’t think, “Trash?”  Well, I just saw thousands of pieces of broken pottery and tile, and guess what I thought?  “Art!”

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Trash or Art, it all depends on what you do with it, right?

Isn’t that pretty?  Doesn’t it invite you to look at it and enjoy it? Yet, if you look at it carefully, you’ll see that it’s made up of “trash,” broken pieces of ceramic.

Holy mackerel, I just remembered the last time I didn’t think “trash” when I saw broken pieces of ceramic!  I’ll bet you remember too. It was when we were in Bangkok at one of the Buddhist temples.  Yeah, remember?  Nona even put that in one of her blogs, “The Look: Gaudi; The Materials: Chinese; The Location: Thailand.” Here’s a photo of it.

They used broken pottery that had been thrown away for this Buddhist temple.

They used broken pottery that had been thrown away for this Buddhist temple in Bangkok.

Look how similar that one is to what we found here in Barcelona.

Remember our friend Betsy, who went with us on our walking safari in Tanzania.  I thought of Betsy when I met this cute little fishy, because Betsy knows the names of all the fish in the sea, and she probably could have told me what kind of fish this one is.

Don’t you think our colors match, the fish’s and mine?

Don’t you think our colors match, the fish’s and mine?

Who would think that you could take flat tiles of many colors and turn them into a giant salamander? This is Gaudi’s famous piece, also known as “The Dragon.”

Just break a bunch of colorful flat tiles to make all kinds of curved surfaces.

Just break a bunch of colorful flat tiles to make all kinds of curved surfaces.

The more I look at this sculpture the more I wonder: is it a salamander or is it a dragon?  I wish I had thought to ask when we were there.

Anyway, I learned that this kind of broken tile art is called Trencadís or pique assiette. Most often, the artist uses already broken pieces of ceramic, found and collected from trash heaps. We went to Parc Güell to visit the Monumental Zone where we saw a lot of Antoni Gaudi’s work.  Here’s another example.

Recycling trash to make art appeals to me.

Recycling trash to make art appeals to me.

Hey, I gotta go now.  I asked Nona and Papa to take me to the city dump to look for trash that I can turn into art, but they had a better idea. “Solbit, why don’t we take you to some pottery and tile shops to ask the shopkeepers if they will give you some broken pieces to make your art project?”  Great idea, huh!  Pretty soon, I’m going to be a broken tile artist! 

Also, I already know what I’m going to make.  I’m going to make a sculpture of my Moroccan friend, Tagine, and then cover it in blue-green broken tile. I’ll call it “Turquoise Tortoise!”

I’m your friend.

Love,

Solbit

P.S.  If you decide to make some broken tile art, please don’t break any of  your family’s dishes to do it.  OK?  Just recycle some trash.  Remember: Don’t trash art; Art trash!

October 2014

*New reader? Get oriented below.

*You may be asking yourself, “Who is Solbit?” Solbit is a fictional character, but she is a real plastic dinosaur, sent to us unsolicited in a package we ordered from Photojojo. So, she’s a plastic jurassic. Solbit is short for the four names given her by our grandchildren: Sparkle, Orangie, Lulu, Breakit. We tend to use her given names for when she’s been naughty. Thank you for visiting Tales of a Plastic Jurassic. Solbit likes company and hopes you’ll come back.

*You can learn more about Solbit at her About page and in the earlier posts, “Solbit: How I Got My Name” and “Solbit: How I Got to Travel.”

Solbit Can’t Say It, But She Likes It

Dear Nicalai,

Hi! Today’s the day we went to that place in Amsterdam that I can’t say, The Rijksmusem.  Even though I can’t say it.  I really, REALLY like it.  Look.

Nona studied architecture, that’s drawing buildings, and she said this is an amazing building.

Nona studied architecture, that’s drawing buildings, and she said this is an amazing building.

Well, I couldn’t say Rijksmuseum, but our friend, Bjorn, taught me: “rikes” and “museum.”  Now I can say it!  It’s not really hard at all.

Guess what?  René said that our timing is good for visiting here.  Know why?  Because the Rijksmuseum had been closed for restoration work for — get this — ten years!  A whole decade!  It re-opened only a year ago.  So, we’ve gotten here at the right time.  Lucky us.

New word: "stabile," another sculpture by Alexander Calder.

New word: “stabile,” another sculpture by Alexander Calder.

Inside is a famous painting by a famous Dutch artist.  Here I am with the painting; Kai suggested that I take a selfie, and then Papa helped me to take a kind of selfie.  As you can imagine, his little iPhone is way to big for me.

My "selfie" with the "Nightwatch" guys is a little blurry. Sorry.

My “selfie” with “The Nightwatch” guys is a little blurry. Sorry.

I know. It’s not too good, but I’m going to work on more selfies until I get it right.  Oh, I forgot to say, the painting is called, in English, “The Nightwatch,” and the painter is Rembrandt.

The museum had so many paintings to see that we had to stop to eat lunch in the cafe.  We sat looking at something Cat called a “mobile.”  It hung from the ceiling and the air moved it.

Mobile by, you guessed it, A. Calder.

Mobile by, you guessed it, A. Calder.

Nona explained that an American artist, Alexander Calder, made this mobile. I guess he enjoyed making mobiles, and he made so many that you can see them in many different countries. 

While they ate and looked at the art, Papa stared at a dessert, a green cake.  I think he was going to order a dessert.

Papa said, "too guey," and decided against dessert.

Papa said, “too gooey,” and decided against dessert.

When he found out the green was “gooey,” he decided not to have dessert.  What’s wrong with “gooey?”  Sugar and food coloring sound pretty good to me, but, then, I’m just a Plastic Jurassic.  What do I know about human food? Give me a nice piece of green plastic jurassic fern, and I’m a happy iguanodon.

I’m your friend.

Love,

Solbit

September 2014

*New reader? Get oriented below.

You may be asking yourself, “Who is Solbit?” Solbit is a fictional character, but she is a real plastic dinosaur, sent to us unsolicited in a package we ordered from Photojojo. So, she’s a plastic jurassic. Solbit is short for the four names given her by our grandchildren: Sparkle, Orangie, Lulu, Breakit. We tend to use her given names for when she’s been naughty. Thank you for visiting Tales of a Plastic Jurassic. Solbit likes company and hopes you’ll come back.

You can learn more about Solbit at her About page and in the earlier posts, “Solbit: How I Got My Name” and “Solbit: How I Got to Travel.”

Solbit’s Plea, “I Don’t Want to Live Underwater.”

Dear Nicalai,

Nona and Papa were packing, and I was pleading, “Papa, I don’t want to live under water. Let’s not go!”  I know what you’re thinking: Solbit never wants to leave where she is, and Solbit never wants to go to a new place. Well, that’s sort of true, but, believe me, this time is different. They said they’re taking me to a country where about a quarter of the place is BELOW SEA LEVEL!  I know what that means, wetsuits and scuba gear.

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So, this picture shows where they took me.  To the land of big telephones!  Just kidding.  Really, here’s where we went.

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Surprise: in Apeldoorn in the Netherlands!  I’m breathing air without scuba gear! I guess we’re in part of the country that is just a little above sea level.  Papa says that, where the country is below sea level, they use levees or dikes — long wide walls — to hold the sea water back.  No wet suits required.  Gosh, the towns and the countryside are beautiful here!  Can you see the magpie, the black and white bird?

Hohe Veluwe National Park

I thought everybody would have a boat! No, everybody has a bicycle!  Nona says that makes Papa feel very much a home.  You know how much time he spends on bicycles.

We’re leaving now with our friends Bjorn, Kai, Cat, and René, to go to a place I can’t pronounce.  Nona spelled it for me while I wrote this: R-I-J-K-S-M-U-S-E-U-M.  I’ll try to send you some photos from there.

I’m your friend.

Love,

Solbit

September 2014

*New reader? Get oriented below.

  • You may be asking yourself, “Who is Solbit?” Solbit is a fictional character, but she is a real plastic dinosaur, sent to us unsolicited in a package we ordered from Photojojo. So, she’s a plastic jurassic. Solbit is short for the four names given her by our grandchildren: Sparkle, Orangie, Lulu, Breakit. We tend to use her given names for when she’s been naughty. Thank you for visiting Tales of a Plastic Jurassic. Solbit likes company and hopes you’ll come back.
  • You can learn more about Solbit at her About page and in the earlier posts, “Solbit: How I Got My Name” and “Solbit: How I Got to Travel.”

Solbit Wishes for Strange Things

*New reader? Get oriented below.

Dear Nicalai,

You know what, I actually like strange things.  Papa said that can be a good thing.  So, I am going to wish for more strange things in my life.  Here’s something that looks a bit strange to me, but I like it.

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What do you think?  I like that someone collected onions. Tied them together, and hung them in a ring over the tile. Don’t you?  Also, the blue and gold have a calming effect on me.

So, I’m going to wish for wonderful tiles like these for my birthday!  Just look at them and enjoy them.

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Not all the tile patterns are the same.  Some have drawings in them.  We saw this one when we were in Madeira.  It has a drawing.

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Nona said to call a tile like this a “figurative” design, because it has a figure in it.  It figures that you would call it figurative, right?  We saw other figures or designs on sidewalks.

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Girl, somebody does a lot of hard labor to put down all those tiny stones in just the right places to make those designs.

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Still, don’t you think this looks a lot better than just plain concrete or asphalt, or even bricks?

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Going for a walk on these kind of sidewalks could cheer up your day, couldn’t it?  Nona says that these walkways can be a type of “public art,” and that public art makes my day better!  I think she’s right.  Hey, just imagine yourself walking or driving home and arriving at a driveway that looks like this one.

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If I ever have a home, I wish to put some strange things in it and around it.  For example, I’ll make a drive way like this one.  It’ll probably take me a long time, but that’s ok, because making it might be as much fun as walking on it.  Also, you could come by my place to look at it anytime, and it would be free. If that’s sounds strange, that’s OK, because, sometimes, strange can be good.

I’m your friend.

Love,

Solbit

September 2014

  • You may be asking yourself, “Who is Solbit?” Solbit is a fictional character, but she is a real plastic dinosaur, sent to us unsolicited in a package we ordered from Photojojo. So, she’s a plastic jurassic. Solbit is short for the four names given her by our grandchildren: Sparkle, Orangie, Lulu, Breakit. We tend to use her given names for when she’s been naughty. Thank you for visiting Tales of a Plastic Jurassic. Solbit likes company and hopes you’ll come back.
  • You can learn more about Solbit at her About page and in the earlier posts, “Solbit: How I Got My Name” and “Solbit: How I Got to Travel.”