The Hermitage is the largest art museum in the world, located in St. Petersburg, Russia. It was formerly the tsars’ winter palace. There is no way you can see this entire museum in one day, but what there is to see is more than paintings and sculptures. There are ceilings, floors, tables, thrones, clocks, fountains and more. “Art” at the Hermitage encompasses architecture and any other form that beauty may take.
As very young children, our hands were used to explore things – babies are very tactile explorers. At her first birthday party, my grand-niece Rosemary explored a blueberry pie, first by touching the rough surface of the crust…
…next by digging her hand into the cool gooey blueberry inside…another new sensation!
…and finally by putting her fingers into her mouth to taste this intriguing substance.
As we age, our hands grow along with us and are used for many things: typing on a keyboard (as I am doing right now), create a painting or sculpture, play a musical instrument, signal to people (victory signs, thumbs up, and others not so nice), even talk – the deaf community has its own language, ASL (American Sign Language) to communicate with their hands.When we meet someone, we shake their hands. When we want to express our heartfelt thanks, we might put our hand over our heart. We embrace our loved ones and caress our lovers with our hands.
When I think about it, it’s truly amazing what we can get our hands to do. A secretary who can type as fast as her boss can talk, or a pianist playing a concerto, or a teacher, her hand gripped around a piece of chalk or dry erase marker, as she illustrates or writes something on the board for her students, or a florist using his hands to shape a bouquet just so. So much do we rely on our hands to perform tasks that we become frustrated when our fingers refuse to cooperate!
Hands can be adorned with rings, henna or bracelets.
In old age, hands can fail us: they may become misshapen with arthritis or just not work as efficiently as before. The veins in the back of our hands become more prominent as do the bones of our joints. Age spots may appear on the skin. One of my favorite pictures of my mother is this one, taken on her ninetieth birthday, her wrist decorated with a corsage. Her hand is as expressive as the look on her face.
When I think of fun, I think of the exuberance of childhood – children find it easy to have fun! Fun means different things for children, adults, and cats…
Recently, I was at a birthday party for a grand-niece’s first birthday. In attendance were her aunt and uncle and their son Alex (age 2). Alex never has trouble entertaining himself. Here he was running around the house, with two pink balloons, singing a song with words something like, “Nah, nah, nah!”
Fun for my cat is chasing a laser light.
As for me, I have fun being with friends and family. My husband and I are in a dinner group which meets every month at a different restaurant. In June, they celebrated my birthday at Chevy’s, a Mexican restaurant in Schaumburg. People celebrating birthdays at that restaurant are given a sombrero and a small dessert with a candle. However, I was more interested in a luscious large dessert and willing to pay…
These are examples of the fun moments I like to remember.
On our short trip to Indiana in June, we visited Indianapolis and Columbus. Indianapolis has an eclectic mix of architectural styles, and Columbus is famous for its architecture (it’s rated 6th in the country for innovative architecture, superseded only by 5 large cities).
WINTER MORNINGS: CHILLY VIEWS FROM THE WEST (FRONT) SIDE OF MY HOUSE IN ILLINOIS
7:44 a.m., February after a snowstorm: The morning light filters through the trees and settles on the fresh snow. Although someone from my house has been outside (because of the footprints), it’s too early to have shoveled the walk. However, someone across the street has and a neighbor has already left for work, before the snow plows come through.
A month later, at 6:08 a.m., the golden full moon sets behind our neighborhood.
SPRING MORNINGS: NOSTALGIA, UPPER KAUBASHINE LAKE, WISCONSIN
9:00 a.m. on an early June day, I admired the stillness of Upper Kaubashine Lake in northern Wisconsin, a view I had seen many times for the last 50 springs and summers. This was to be my last morning at this beautiful place. My siblings and I were getting too old and our lives too far away to take care of the place.
As I gazed out at the lake in my bathrobe, with a cup of coffee in my hand, I saw a mama duck herding her little ones. They had no doubt awakened much earlier than I had and were ready for their daily fishing lessons.
SUMMER MORNINGS: I LOVE SUMMER MORNINGS!
It is my daily custom during warm months when I first get up (between 7:00 and 8:00 a.m.) to grab my cup of coffee and a light snack and sit on the deck at the back of our house, dressed in my bathrobe, and read for awhile out of whatever book I am reading. Sometimes, when I know it’s going to be a hot day, I try to take a walk as early as possible. On July 20, I was well on my way when I stopped to snap a picture of lilies and hibiscus bushes.
Walking to church around 9:15 a.m. on summer Sunday mornings, I pass this lovely garden and the colorful chairs that the residents of the house arrange on their lawn every summer.
AUTUMN MORNINGS: A REFRESHING TIME TO TAKE A WALK
8:30 a.m. in late September – a spider has been up all night, no doubt, creating this giant web. See her? She’s right in the middle of the web, just in front of the green leaves in the bottom center of the picture.
Autumn is a wonderful time to take 3-day road trips. Last October we went to Saugatuck, Michigan. The streets were nearly deserted on an October Saturday morning at 9:15 a.m. as we strolled down the main drag. The shops hadn’t even opened yet! Saugatuck is a lovely, photogenic town on Lake Michigan, in the southwest corner of the state of Michigan.
Morning brings the promise of a fresh new day and during every season, morning has its charms.
Last December, hoping to escape the winter cold in Illinois, we took a trip to Tucson for a week. But the cold came with us – not in the form of snow, but rain, wind, frost, and temperatures at freezing level! Meanwhile, back in Chicagoland, people were enjoying unseasonably warm temperatures in the 60s (F)!
One of the most interesting towns we visited was Bisbee, in the mountains south of Tucson, a former mining town which is now something of an artists’ colony. The pictures of doorways (for Thursday Doors feature) below attest to that!
Back on the main drag:
We finally went to the mine, but had missed the last tour.They only run tours until 3:00 pm in the winter.
A couple of retired miners showed us the entrance to the mine and the small coal train that goes into it. They told us that the weather gets cold here every year and it isn’t unusual for it to snow. The mine had a museum also, and we were happy to linger there and warm our cold hands!
Last weekend, after our four days in St. Paul, Minnesota, my sister, her friend, her daughter and I made the long drive home back to the northwestern suburbs of Chicago. It’s about a 5 1/2 hour drive if you drive straight through, with no stops. Of course, that would be nearly impossible for most people, and we needed several breaks.
Most of the drive is through Wisconsin, which has a network of waysides along all major highways. Trucks park on one side and cars on the other, with the facilities in between them. These waysides are quite nice – most have picnic tables, some kind of historical information, and some greenery. I decided to take a little walk while the others were using the facilities at this wayside north of Janesville, Wisconsin. It was after 8 pm and the sun was setting.
Getting away from the mowed lawn and picnic tables, there is a bit of prairie and trees.
I thought of monarchs when I saw this milkweed plant. Monarchs have become increasingly scarce with the decreasing number of milkweed plants, which are necessary for their survival, due to development and controlled landscaping. More people have become aware lately and milkweed is being deliberately planted and cultivated again. I didn’t see a monarch butterfly, but this little bug is about the same color as a monarch!
I took a picture of this long chassis on the back of a truck, carrying some kind of pipe or coil, I think. I’d never seen one so long.
I watched as the sun went down behind the trees behind the trucks, casting a golden hue which tinges the side of the one cloud in the sky.
As I was heading back toward our car, I noticed a couple of trees that seemed to have some kind of memorial at the base of their trunks. I went over to take a look.
There was a plaque that had been placed by the local union.
I wondered about these workers who had lost their lives, and found it amazing that people were visiting the wayside and leaving flowers and stuffed animals for them. Were these donors relatives who made the trek to the wayside to leave tokens of their love, or were they given by random passersby who happened to stop at this wayside?
I’d never seen anything quite like this before, not at a wayside. It just goes to show that any place is worth exploring, even if you have only a few minutes. You never know what you might find!