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
~~~~~

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:
DSCN9129

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.
2692015268271
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.
~~~~

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

~~~~

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.

20151025_090148
20151022_163012

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:

20151012_092009
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

20151012_112810
Saugatuck Dunes State Park
20151013_122736
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.

DSCN3952

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.

DSCN3939DSCN3949

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.

Stockholm by Bicycle

Stockholm, Day 2 – August 15, 2015

Every day someone on the ship's crew changed the carpet for each day of the week on the elevator.
Every day someone on the ship’s crew changed the carpet for each day of the week on the elevator.

Although I had been the one to suggest it originally, it was with considerable trepidation that I went out on the dock with Dale and Elmer to find our tour. I hadn’t biked at all this summer, so I was really out of shape for bike riding. Our tour guide, Joachim, was waiting for us with a dozen or so bicycles, each equipped with a helmet, which we were required to wear, and a water bottle.
Joachim worked for Stockholm Adventures, a tour company that provides biking, skating kayaking, sailing, motor boating and snow shoeing experiences for the adventurous traveler. He showed us how to adjust our helmets. Most bikers here do wear helmets although it is not mandatory, except for children. I recalled our guide on the canal tour last night saying that Swedes like to be safe.
.
Joachim showed us how the bikes work. The main brake is the coaster brake – stopping by pushing the pedals in reverse. There’s a hand brake also, but only on the left side. On the right handlebar was the gear adjustment – there were seven gears.
.
The first thing we faced on our route after leaving the pier area was a long and fairly steep incline as we rode over a bridge, one of many connecting Stockholm’s 14 islands. Needless to say, halfway up I had to get off the bike and walk. I was grateful for having a crew member, a young Dutch woman, stationed at the rear of our group, yet found myself compelled to apologize to her every time I couldn’t keep up with the others. Dale later told me that he hadn’t gotten up the hill without getting off his bike either, and the same was true of several others.

View from lookout shortly after crossing the bridge.
View from lookout shortly after crossing the bridge.

There aren’t a lot of hills in Stockholm and those we encountered weren’t usually very long, but I did struggle to get up many of them. We stopped often to take pictures at lookout points and other places of interest which Joachim told us about.

Large square in commercial area
Large square in commercial area

20150815_022513The nice thing about being on a bike tour is being able to go places that buses can’t, and being in the open air. Stockholm is very bike-friendly and encourages the sport as an ecologically friendly way to get around. There are bikes everywhere, something I’ve noticed in most of the places we’ve been. Stockholm has an extensive network of bike paths throughout the city, allowing bikers to feel safe riding on busy city streets. There are connecting bike and walking trails through parks and other areas.

20150815_02420620150815_02423320150815_024341It was Saturday, so the traffic wasn’t heavy anyway, and if it weren’t for festivals and other special events going on in the city, there would likely be fewer people out and about – it’s the last weekend of summer before school starts, and many families and friends like to spend sunny, warm weekends at summer homes outside the city on the archipelago. (In fact, we’d seen many such houses between Helsinki and Stockholm, and the scenery reminded me of northern Wisconsin – which I suppose is why the upper Midwest has the largest number of Scandinavian immigrant descendants in the USA!)

Kayakers on Lake Malaren
Kayaker on Lake Malaren
The boats in this marina are all made of wood.
The boats in this marina are all made of wood.

Swedes are sun worshippers, understandable for a people who live in a northern climate where winters are extremely cold and dark – although they don’t get as much snow here as we do, because of ocean currents. Their lakes and rivers do freeze over, though, so it’s no wonder that skating and ice fishing are popular winter sports. And kids here are required to learn to swim.

While it seems that in the U.S. we continue to build more prisons, Sweden has been closing some of theirs.

Sweden has closed some prisons, including this one; it is now a school.
Sweden has closed some prisons, including this one; it is now a school.
This building housed wardens of the prison; now it is a hotel.
This building housed wardens of the prison; now it is a hotel.

Below, a path through a park. I was worried we would be taking the path to the left – fortunately, we didn’t!

20150815_031456Below, view from a bridge:
20150815_032107 20150815_032128This crowd of people are gathered in the park for a swim meet.

20150815_033458We made a rather lengthy stop in front of city hall.

In front of city wall, with statues and fountains
In front of city wall, with statues and fountains
Courtyard within the grounds of city hall
Courtyard within the grounds of city hall
Looking toward the lake through the arches
Looking toward the lake through the arches

20150815_035807On the left bank of this river is the royal palace.20150815_040917Nearby was a statue of a folk musician.20150815_043042There was a festival in town that weekend. We rode among some of the props.20150815_041320Fellow bikers

20150815_041826“I don’t see a hill, I see a possibility.”
I pondered, and rejected, the notion that Joachim would take us into the old part of town – with its narrow, cobblestone streets full of tourists. However, I was wrong – Gamla Stan was the last area we rode in before returning to the dock! The tourists there seemed rather perplexed by not one, not two, but more than a dozen bike riders invading these narrow streets, forcing them to get out of the way.

20150815_043750 20150815_043814 20150815_043818 20150815_044247 The cobblestone streets made the ride bumpier and in places, more challenging. One of the last streets Joachim took us down was a turn to the left where there was an archway and then downhill. I kind of squealed when I took the plunge, but made it safely. At the bottom, we got off our bikes to wait for the others (only one person could realistically ride down that street at a time). I wanted to take a picture and when I lifted my cell phone and snapped the picture, I realized I got a great picture of my husband Dale coming down that narrow passageway!

20150815_045009On this 3 ½ hour bike tour, I admittedly was the slowest and weakest rider, although no one seemed to care. One of the older men in the group said he was impressed that I was able to keep up at all, considering I hadn’t biked for awhile. To keep me going, he kept reminding me of something Joachim had said early on, when we confronted our first hill: “I don’t see a hill, I see a possibility.”

The rest of the day
It would have been nice to end the tour in Gamla Stan, where we could all relax and have lunch at an open air café, but we had to ride back to the dock so we could return to the ship. If I weren’t so tired and sore after the bike trip, I might have been up for returning into the city; instead, we went to Lido for lunch and mostly relaxed the rest of the day. The ship left port in late afternoon, and we took some lovely pictures of the archipelago with those summer houses we’d been told about.

20150815_112119_1

Stockholm’s Great Scandal!

August 14, 2015 (Stockholm, Day 1)

When we left Sigtuna, we returned to Stockholm to visit one of its more than 80 museums.

The Vasa Museum’s centerpiece is a ship that sank in 1628, 23 minutes into its maiden voyage! It was not pulled out of the canal until the 1950s, when the technology to do this had been developed, then it was reconstructed and the museum housing it opened in the 1990s; the museum was actually built around the reconstructed ship, and from outside you can see where the mast juts out above the roof.

Inside, the museum has six stories, each surrounding the reconstructed ship, so that you can see it from various levels, and also see the exhibits on each floor.

Front of the Vasa Museum. The mast can be seen rising above the roof.
Front of the Vasa Museum. The mast can be seen rising above the roof.

There were interactive exhibits telling the story of what happened – Britt called it the “great scandal” of Stockholm.

The reconstructed ship
The reconstructed ship

King Gustavus Adolphus wanted an impressive war ship built with two gun decks, brass cannons, and loaded with ornamental woodwork, colorfully painted.

Replica of the colorful decoration on the back of the ship
Replica of the colorful decoration on the back of the ship (this is a to scale model of the Vasa).
Decoration on the back of the ship Vasa (without the color)
Decoration on the back of the ship Vasa (without the color)

KODAK Digital Still CameraHe hired the best engineers, both Dutch, to design and build it; however, the king’s specifications made the ship too heavy. It didn’t have enough ballast, so it sat high in the water,

This diagram shows how high the ship sat in the water.
This diagram shows how high the ship sat in the water.
Model of the ballast
Model of the ballast

and the two cannons were too heavy for the ship, whose width was too narrow – the engineers knew this, but were compelled to follow the king’s orders. After the ship sank, an inquest was held. Many crew members, most of whom survived, were interviewed and it eventually came down to the two engineers. Their testimony revealed who was really to blame: the king. The engineers were not prosecuted; they’d done what they had been ordered to do. Obviously the king could not be prosecuted so the result of the trial was that “no one” was at fault!

KODAK Digital Still CameraKODAK Digital Still CameraKODAK Digital Still Camera

One section of exhibits shows how the ship was pulled out of the water, including a model of a diving bell.

KODAK Digital Still CameraAfter we left the museum, our bus passed a bar called Skeppsbar – this was the very same bar where the skipper on the Vasa went to drown his sorrows by getting drunk after the disaster!

More on the Vasa can be found at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vasa_%28ship%29
and New Clues Emerge in Centuries-Old Swedish Shipwreck.

New Wednesday feature: Word of the Week

I’ve decided to try again to maintain a weekly feature. I’ve changed the day of the week from hectic Friday to more relaxed mid-week Wednesday, and the topic is simple: a word that I come across that I find unusual or interesting enough to share! I hope it will increase my vocabulary, and yours!

So here goes…

This week’s word is: UXORIOUS (pronunciation: uhk-sawr-ee-uhs)

Dictionary.com‘s definition of this word: (adjective) doting upon, foolishly fond of, or affectionately submissive toward one’s wife.

Origin: Latin 1590-1600; < Latin ūxōrius, equivalent to ūxor wife + -ius -ious

Vocabulary.com gives this explanation:

A man who dotes on or really adores his wife is uxorious. Your uxorious grandfather, for example, might plan your grandmother’s surprise birthday party months in advance.

Uxorious goes back to the Latin root ūxor, “wife,” and it came into English in the 16th century. Uxorious is usually negative, a way to show that a husband has too much concern for his wife or is submissive to her desires. It’s also an increasingly dated, old fashioned word, as a husband is considered uxorious if he lets his wife “control” him. There’s no corresponding adjective you can use of a wife “controlled” by her husband.

Here is a quiz:
A man might be considered uxorious if:

  1. He urges her to travel.
  2. He laughs at her foolishness.
  3. He gives her an hour long massage.
  4. He tells her how to budget her money.

I think it would be better to revive this word with a positive connotation and let it apply to either spouse: If you are really devoted to your spouse and want to be with her or him all the time, you are uxorious!

A uxorious couple?
A uxorious couple?