Month: November 2015

WPC: Transition

Transition describes my life in the last year.  Therefore, for this Weekly Photo Challenge: Transition, I am including a photo or a few for the transitions that have marked my life since last December.

I lost my mother last December (see my Elegy for Mother on Feb. 21, 2015) and in June the family got together to bury her ashes and remember her.

The urn with Mother's ashes sits next to her covered grave.

Singing and praying at the burial
Singing and praying at the burial
Burying the urn
Burying the urn

Dad's grave is decorated with a flag for his military srvice.At the memorial, I had set up posters I’d made of my mother’s life.
Black & white posterColor collage poster
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On June 12, I retired from my working life  (See my Ode to My Ex-Work Day posted on June 11), the last 14 having been in the teaching profession. Here I am on my last day of work (I’m on the right, with my co-worker Elia Pimentel on the left):

20150612_124348The picture above and the following picture were taken at a last-day luncheon in the cafeteria. There was a cake for those staff members who would be leaving:
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Of course, it was a transition for the students too, who would now transition to the next grade level. In our 1st/2nd grade classroom, the students prepare for summer vacation.
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My last view of the primary wing of the school, where I had worked my last two years:
Good-bye, Winston Campus Elementary! My last view looking back at C Wing.
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Also in June, my family sold the summer home in Wisconsin that we had owned for 50 years. June 13-15 were my last days there, as we prepared for the transition to a new owner:

Last view of the main cottage, from the pier.
Last view of the main cottage, from the pier.
Small cabin
Small cabin
Emptying the porch
Emptying the porch
Emptying the bedroom we'd stayed in
Emptying the bedroom we’d stayed in

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The beautiful transition from summer to autumn, with the fall’s brilliant colors, reminded me that life constantly changes, that our world is always in transition.

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Some transitions are joyous occasions, while others are bittersweet.

Word of the Week: portmanteau

This week’s word is portmanteau. It has two meanings. The first comes from combining two French words: porter, which means “to carry” and manteau, which means “mantle” or “cloak” – in other words, clothes. So the first definition of portmanteau is a large suitcase to carry your clothes in.

portmanteau

Notice that the end of “porter” was cut off when combining it with manteau. This may serve as an example of the second definition, which is “to combine two words to make a new, related word.”

portmanteau2Examples in English:
smoke + fog = smog
breakfast + lunch = brunch
It’s different from a compound word, which combines two words together in their entirety, e.g. sunflower, raindrop.

Two more examples: information + commercial = infomercial
situation + comedy = sitcom

Can you think of any others?

portmanteau-examples

You can make up your own portmanteau words – maybe they’ll go mainstream!!

portmanteau-cartoon

The web site dictionary.com says that the second definition of portmanteau was created by Lewis Carroll (real name Charles L. Dodgson, born 1832, died 1898) for the kind of words he invented for “Jabberwocky”(1872): (noun) “two meanings packed up into one word.”

 

Cee’s Fun Photo Challenge: Orange and Green

Cee’s Fun Photo Challenge: Nov. 17, 2015 – orange and green
There are so many possibilities for this topic because this has been one of the most beautiful autumns here in Midwestern USA that I can remember. I took many walks on which I took lots of pictures, and my husband and I also took a road trip to southwestern Michigan in October. Here are some of the orange and green highlights:

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A bench in Saugatuck, Michigan
The Owl House - I liked the sign!
“The Owl House” – Saugatuck, MI
Colorful houses with colorful tree in front
I like the vibrancy and variety of colors in this photo; for this challenge, focus on the trees in front: one orange, one green.

Saugatuck Dunes State Park

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Saugatuck Dunes State Park
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Decorative pots in front of art center in St. Joseph, MI
Sun filters through canopy of an autumn maple
This tree in Des Plaines was partially turned – so it has both green and orange.
Close-up maple leaves
Maple tree in front of my house – close up

Word of the Week: swot

ClassicWords-logoI chose this short word, “swot”, because I came to know of its existence while playing Classic Words Free, a version of Scrabble, on my android this week. My opponent is the computer and it tells me if a word is invalid. When I have letters that don’t quite make a word I know, I make up a word that sounds like it could be a real word, and let the computer tell me if it’s legit or not.

ClassicWords-gameboard

 

So it was with the word “swot”: I was building off a “T” in the top line, three spaces away from a triple word score. I tried various combinations of the letters I had, making sure one of my tiles covered that red square (so I couldn’t use the words STOW or TOWS). And if I was going to get a triple word score, I wanted to use my “W”, my only tile worth more than 1 point. SWOT seemed like a word, although I’d never heard of it. The computer accepted it!

So here it is, a definition of this little word “swot”:

(Pronounced like “swat”)

Definition 1: A variant of “swat”

(British slang)
Definition 2: (verb) To study or work hard (used without object; swotted, swotting)
Definition 3: (noun) a student who studies diligently, especially to the exclusion of other activities; grind.
Definition 4: hard study or hard work; strong effort

Origin: (1840-50)  variation of “sweat”

(The origin of the word “swat”, however, is older: 1790s – a variation of “squat”.)

WordLover

CCY Theme: Leading Lines

Cee’s Compose Yourself Photo Challenge this week is about leading lines. These are my contributions:

Photos taken on the Baltic Sea in August 2015:

The ship's wake, leading out to the horizon in the sunset.
The ship’s wake, leading out to the horizon in the sunset.
Sun rays over the sea
Sun rays over the sea
The Rafael loggia at the Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia
The Rafael loggia at the Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia
Nyhavn, Copenhagen
Nyhavn, Copenhagen
The Round Tower, Copenhagen
The Round Tower, Copenhagen
“Durchgang” – small passageway lined with houses and gardens, Lubeck, Germany

Illinois and Michigan, USA:

Warren Dunes State Park, Michigan
Warren Dunes State Park, Michigan

S curve leading lines:

This leading line is an
Winding path into the park with its bright colored trees, Des Plaines, Illinois
Where does this dune path lead? Saugatuck Dunes State Park, Michigan
Where does this dune path lead? Saugatuck Dunes State Park, Michigan

WPC: Ornate

The word for the Weekly Photo Challenge this week is ornate.

The first thing that immediately comes to my mind when I think of the word “ornate” is Catherine’s Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia. Like many royal palaces, this is a showcase of luxury, with room after room of walls decorated with gold. This style was particularly fashionable during the Baroque period, during which the majority of Catherine’s Palace was constructed.

This large hall was used for receptions or balls.
This large hall was used for receptions or balls.

KODAK Digital Still CameraThese pictures are just representative of the many ornate Baroque decorations found in this palace. The outside of the palace was also done in ornate Baroque style.

KODAK Digital Still CameraWith this display of luxury, I could see why the Russians had a revolution!

One of the rooms of Catherine’s Palace is “The Amber Room”, where photography was not allowed. This room is decorated from floor to ceiling using pieces of amber in various colors. This is a beautiful example of ornate at Catherine’s Palace. (Note: I downloaded these pictures from Google, since we were not allowed to take pictures in the Amber Room.)amber room wall

Amber tabletop
Amber tabletop

On the other hand, ornate does not have to mean “ostentatious”. When I was in Spain in 2010, our group of students visited Granada in the south, particularly the Moorish palace La Alhambra. This palace has been preserved for centuries due to European cultural sensibility, recognizing that such beauty should be preserved for future generations. The Muslims believe that nothing endures forever, except Allah. For this reason, their palaces were not made to be preserved for posterity. Furthermore, they did not “show off” their wealth like the European royals, such as the Russian czars. The outside of the palace of La Alhambra was not ornately decorated – it was stately and formidable, but the walls were plain, completely free of decoration. It was only when you were invited in that you would see the beauty of design.

Below are some pictures I took inside La Alhambra, exquisite examples of ornate.

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A sentence in Arabic "There is no victor but Allah" is repeated hundreds of times along with other repeated designs on ceramic tiles in The Throne Room of La Alhambra.
A sentence in Arabic “There is no victor but Allah” is repeated hundreds of times along with other repeated designs on ceramic tiles in The Throne Hall of La Alhambra.

The Throne Hall was the most important part of the palace, in which important meetings were held and important visitors were received. On the lower part of the walls are beautiful ceramic mosaics. Each mosaic is made up of smaller cut pieces, each one a solid color. In the middle of the wall are messages in Arabic, from the Koran. One of them says ¨”There is no other victor than Allah” which is repeated over 5000 times in the Alhambra. The Throne Hall is the most original part of the palace, that is, it contains more of the original designs and architecture than anywhere else at the Alhambra.

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Detail of ceiling. The ceiling of the Throne Hall is totally original, and it dates from the latter part of the 14th century. It is all made of wood, with cut pieces in mosaics to resemble a heaven full of stars. This represents the Islamic concept of "seventh heaven" (from which the saying is derived). In Islam, when you die you go to first heaven, then to 2nd, then to 3rd, etc., until you get to 6th heaven. To get to seventh heaven, which is Paradise, you must break through the stars and enter Paradise.
Detail of ceiling. The ceiling of the Throne Hall is totally original, and it dates from the latter part of the 14th century. It is all made of wood, with cut pieces in mosaics to resemble a heaven full of stars. This represents the Islamic concept of “seventh heaven” (from which the saying is derived). In Islam, when you die you go to first heaven, then to 2nd, then to 3rd, etc., until you get to 6th heaven. To get to seventh heaven, which is Paradise, you must break through the stars and enter Paradise. Allah dwells in Paradise.

Ornate is a totally human concept, I think. In nature you do not find examples of ornate. Nature’s beauty is in its majesty, color and simplicity. In fact, it is in nature that I find the the most wondrous beauty of all.