A Photo a Week: Lining Up to Celebrate

On January 26, we happily celebrated the marriage of our daughter, Tamara, to her soulmate, Liam. It was a very eclectic group of friends that came to celebrate with our families. For Nancy Merrill’s A Photo a Week, here is my interpretation of her theme, Getting Your Ducks in a Row. These are the members of the groom Liam’s band. (Our new son-in-law is not in the photo because he was taking his own photo at the same time!)
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A few weeks later, four guys (my brother-in-law’s barbershop quartet) line up to sing a love song to my sister (who was having dinner with friends) on Valentine’s Day. They spend Valentine’s Day every year hiring themselves out to anyone who wants to have their loved one serenaded. But this one was free, because after all, it was my brother-in-law singing to his wife of 53 years! (My brother-in-law, Elmer, is the short bald guy on the left!)20190214_165859.jpg

Caturday?* Israeli Cats

*I am late again with my Caturday photos! At least this week I have an excuse: Dale was in the hospital since Monday. He had quadruple bypass surgery! We were both surprised, alarmed at first, but it was inevitable really. But I’ll leave that story for another time. Meanwhile, here are a few of the kitties we saw in Israel in January.

The first two photos are cats we spotted when we were walking around our Airbnb’s neighborhood in Rishon le Tsiyon, a suburb of Tel Aviv where we spent the first two days in Israel on our own.20190108_121907
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A few days later, after we joined our tour group, we were going into the Havana Village Restaurant for lunch on a windy, rainy and chilly day …
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…and saw this kitten on the steps into the restaurant. He was meowing loudly and when we reached down to pet him, he rubbed up against us with pleasure and began purring.20190109_130921
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A dog on the premises saw how much attention the kitten was getting from us and came over to investigate and get some petting for himself! (He was so cute, how could we not oblige?)
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If we weren’t spending the next 10 days on a tour, I would have liked to bring that kitten home! He was so loving!

FOTD: Random Act of Flowers

My husband was in the hospital this past week – he had to have quadruple bypass surgery! One day while I was visiting him, a man stopped by his room with a bouquet of flowers. He explained that the company he works for distributes flowers for hospital patients. The company is called Random Acts of Flowers. Here is the bouquet when he first got it. It is still pretty and sits on a living room table in our house.
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Posted for Cee’s FOTD 3/31/19.

Last Spiky Square!

For this last day of Becky’s Spiky Squares month, I am posting another photo taken in the desert greenhouse at the Chicago Botanic Gardens. I found this month’s challenge to be fun and interesting. I didn’t have a chance to participate as much as I would have liked because, well, LIFE intervened!
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My spiky desert photos have a message: Don’t squat down in the desert unless you have made sure none of these spiky plants are underfoot!

FOTD: Bouquet

At a Google Photos workshop at the library a few nights ago, I learned how to make an image “pop” – an enhancement feature that makes the colors just a little more vivid.  (I can use my photo software too, but this feature on Google Photos is better – more subtle.)
This is a bouquet of roses, gladiolus, a dahlia and a gerbera daisy I had on my dining room table.
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See more signs of spring at Cee’s FOTD 3/29/19.

Spiky Squares Month: “Mr. Spiky”

When you look at this photo of blazing stars in my garden, you won’t think it looks very “spiky” – but there is a story behind it!
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When I started my garden a decade ago, I planted some seedlings that I bought at a plant exchange at my church. I had no idea what this plant was going to be, because either it wasn’t labeled or the person manning the plant exchange table didn’t know what it was. All I knew was that it was a native perennial, which is what I wanted.

It started to grow but didn’t produce flowers right away. The first year it was just a green stem with spiky leaves sticking out from it (no, that is not what the plants surrounding the flowers in this photo are – that’s a different plant entirely!). I had no idea what it was or what it was going to look like so for that first year, I simply called it (affectionately, of course!) “Mr. Spiky!” The second year, the leaves grew longer and a stalk shot up that was covered with these purple flowers. That is when my neighbor told me its name was “blazing star.” Like many non-bulb perennials, it spreads! In the past couple of years, blazing stars have been appearing in various spots in my garden, such as in the middle of another plant as in the photo above.

Posted for Becky’s Spiky Squares Month (March 2019).

FOTD: Snowdrops

My snowdrops are full up! I’ve noticed more of them around the neighborhood this year also.  Snowdrops are special because they appear on average around the first day of spring, so they are one of nature’s first flowers of the year. These are in my garden:
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I saw a plethora of snowdrops scattered along someone’s fence today while I was out walking.
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Posted for Cee’s FOTD 3/28/19.

Journey to Egypt, Part 13: Cruising the Nile & Visit to el Hegz Island

December 28, 2018

I was looking forward to the next portion of our trip – a 5-day cruise on the Nile, aboard  a 16-passenger dahabeya – in other words, a private ship for our OAT group of 14 people including our guide plus 14 crew members! This dahabeya, called Aida, is one of only two such boats owned and operated by Overseas Adventure TravelAida is the newer of the two and has only been in operation for a few months.20181228_121014d
You know how a new car has a “new” smell? Well, the Aida had a “new ship” smell – primarily of the wood used to build it. It was wonderful! Even more wonderful was that shortly after we boarded, we were served lunch in our private dining area!

Before lunch, we had time to freshen up in our staterooms – there are only 8 or 10 of these and each is named for an Egyptian goddess. Our stateroom was #4, named Hathor.
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I had not slept well in either hotel we’d stayed in up until then (this often happens to me in hotels) so I was very tired. First thing I did when we got into our stateroom was curl up on my bed and take a nap!
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Within a half hour, it was time for lunch. Aida has a small dining area with a panoramic view of the Nile and surrounding countryside.

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I took this photo from the ship’s lounge looking toward the bar. Behind the bar was our semicircular dining area. All meals were buffet style.
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In the lounge were comfortable sofas and chairs and each end table had an outlet with two USB ports! Needless to say, WiFi was available on board, though the reception wasn’t always great.
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Display case at the back end of the lounge

We cruised for a few hours to el Hegz Island on the Nile’s east bank, where we docked and went ashore. Here are some views from Aida‘s deck while we were cruising.

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Another dahabeya with its sail aloft.

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El Hegz is an island with mostly farms, but there is also a small village. We were given a tour by one of the farmers.

Transportation on the island is by bike or donkey, although there are a few motorized vehicles.
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The residents are very proud of their water sanitation and storage system which provides them with always fresh water. The water is piped onto the island and then goes through a sanitation process before it is stored in large tanks.
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The vegetation is lush and there is a canal and irrigation for crops.
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They grow bananas, sugarcane and other crops. The bananas and sugarcane are cash crops. Others, such as vegetables, are for consumption by the local population.

Scenes of village life
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We made our way back to Aida as the sun was about to set.
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Although we got back on board, the ship moored for the night off the island.
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Another dahabeya came along. This type of boat does have sails, but usually the crew of Aida did not use them, because that would require a lot of tacking – zig-zagging across the river, which would have delayed us. For this reason, usually we were towed by a tugboat, because dahabeyas do not have motors.
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The sunset over the west bank of the Nile was gorgeous!
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Caturday on Sunday! Joia (1976-1992)

I did not have a chance to post my Saturday cat photo yesterday. Then today I was looking through a box of very old photos – from the early 1980s! I found several of my (half) Manx cat named Jóia, who died in 1992. Here she is in 1984.
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This must have been in the winter, because her coat is very thick! Manx cats often have a “double coat” of fur. I had to brush her a lot in the spring because she shed like crazy! Brushing helped keep spitting up hairballs at a minimum!
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Here she is curled up with a paw over her face, as if to say, “Leave me alone! I’m catnapping!”