Precious Pets Sometimes Don’t Win Popularity Contests

This is our precious pet “tortie”* cat, Hazel. I captured her in a mellow moment sitting on the living room carpet near her scratching post. I was glad that she cooperated for this photo by letting me get her close-up.
We adopted Hazel from a shelter at Christmastime 2013. I have always loved cats, and had had pet cats before, but not for the last 20 years, because my son was found to be allergic to cats when he was a child. However, by 2013, he had outgrown this allergy and was ready to move out of our house anyway.

We fell in love with Hazel when we first met her and since then we have been very close. She is very affectionate (when she wants to be) and sleeps between my legs most nights except in the summer. When we first get into bed, she goes first to my husband, purring and curling up as he rubs her, even her belly, but then she bites him – affectionately! After that, she leaves and comes back to sleep between my legs when she thinks I am asleep or at least settled for the night. She follows this bedtime routine about 300 nights of the year!

We enjoy watching her in her antics, especially when she is stalking a bug, such as the colorful moth that had posed on a screen.
Hazel had not been a popular choice at the shelter due to prejudice against “tortie” personalities – this is an extremely independent breed and often does not submit to affectionate gestures from humans, but people had not taken the trouble to get to know her! When she was brought to the shelter, she was pregnant and gave birth to six kittens, for whom she was a devoted and affectionate mother. Her kittens were adopted quickly, but she remained at the shelter for two years! However, Hazel quickly won our hearts and I think we won hers!

*”Tortie,” for the cat-uneducated, is short for “tortoiseshell,” which refers to the breed’s coloring, a mixture of black, tan, and a little white. More than 90% of “torties” are female.

Posted for Lens-Artists –  Precious Pets, Weekly Prompts Photo – Close, and Word of the Day Challenge – Popular.

Friendly Friday Photo Challenge: Leaves

S.t.P.A. has a photo challenge called “Friendly Friday Photo Challenge” and this week’s challenge is leaves. This is my first time participating in this challenge!

I took this photo at a local park in Des Plaines in June.
Since this was taken, I have moved! I know live at a senior community in Arlington Heights. Here are a few photos I took in the community gardens.


I’m not sure what this person is cultivating, but to me the leaves look like lettuce.


A dahlia and a squash peek out from behind these leaves.


My main focus here was the raspberries, but the jagged leaves are also interesting.

A Photo a Week: Texture

Nancy Merrill’s photo challenge “A Photo a Week” this week has the topic texture.

Nancy writes: We usually think of texture as a tangible, touchable thing, but it is so important when creating images. When shooting babies, I like to include textured blankets and wraps to enhance the look of the that baby-smooth skin. The face of an older person with lots of wrinkles gives character and backstory to a simple portrait. The textures found in nature provide light and shadow contrast, as in my closeup of some corn on the cob we were soaking before putting it on the smoker. She goes on to mention that photo software programs may have effects to add to a photo to create a textured look.

I unfortunately do not have sophisticated photo software, so my “textured” photos are all naturally captured.

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A textured restaurant sign

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Several textures here: the smooth embossed surface of the table, the shiny wine glass and the woven strands of a placemat

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The screen provides the texture for this picture.

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Textured veins of a petunia; also the browned edges show the flower’s wilting state.

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Layers of texture: the smooth wavy petals, the jagged stamens, the inner bumps of the seeds. Also it had rained that day, making the inner layer glisten.

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Foot of an aging woman, showing bulging veins with toes resting on the textured surface of a mat on top of a rug.




Thursday Doors: Cologne Cathedral

Cologne Cathedral is the most noticeable building as you approach this city on the north Rhine River, with its Gothic spires soaring high above the landscape. At 157 meters (515 ft.) ir the third tallest twin-spired church in the world. The towers for its spires make its façade the tallest in the world.
From the river it is quite imposing, close as it is to the riverfront.  DSC00868
20190627_223155This Catholic cathedral is the most visited landmark in Germany, with 20,000 visitors average per day.

It is the seat of the Archbishop of Cologne and of the administration of the Archdiocese of Cologne. It became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996.


Front main entrance

Details above front door:


The cathedral’s official name in English is the Cathedral Church of Saint Peter (in German, Hohe Domkirche Sankt Petrus).

Inside the main transept:



Front doors from the inside

Construction of the cathedral was begun in 1248 but was halted, unfinished, in 1473. Work did not recommence until the 1840s (!) and was completed according to its Medieval plan in 1880.
20190627_154133When construction began in 1248, the site had been occupied by several previous structures; from the 4th century CE (AD) on, these were Christian buildings.

Legend has it that Kris Kringle (Germany’s Santa Claus) would take naughty kids to the cathedral, where he would punish them and if they resisted, he would drop them off the South Tower! That must have been a great incentive for children to be good! Visitors can go up the South Tower today – that is, when Kris Kringle is not around!!

Tower details:


Model of the finial o top of the Cathedral towers in original size: 9.5 m high, 4.6 m wide

DSC00911.JPGIn the 19th century, there was a resurgence of romantic interest in the Middle Ages, and with the original plan for the façade having been discovered, the Protestant Prussian Court gave its approval for the cathedral’s completion. The Court provided a 3rd of its cost to improve relations with its growing number of Catholic subjects.

Stained glass:

On August 14, 1880, the completion of the cathedral was celebrated as a national event, 632 years after it had been begun! It was the tallest building in the world until the completion of the Washington Monument four years later.

As in most large cathedrals, there are relics and burials. Many graves were discovered during the excavations in the 19th century.


Door to a crypt

Although the cathedral suffered 14 hits by Allied aerial bombings during World War II, and was badly damaged, it nevertheless remained standing in a city which was mostly destroyed.

Repairs of the war damage were completed in 1956. Repair and maintenance work is constant due to wind, rain and pollution which eat away at the stone, so there is almost always scaffolding on some part of the cathedral.*
As we were leaving, I saw this most unusual door on one side of the cathedral.DSC00910
Both inside and out, the Cologne Cathedral is the most impressive and magnificent cathedral I have ever seen!

Posted for Norm’s Thursday Doors, 8/29/19.

*Historical information was obtained from the Wikipedia article, Cologne Cathedral.


City: Budapest

On July 8, we visited the last city on our river cruise. If we could have taken more time in Budapest, Hungary, I would have liked to see more of it – well, there’s always the next time! This is what I tell myself every time I have to pass up something on a trip in order to see something else.

Dutch Goes the Photo this week has the theme of City.  I am only posting here the photos that show the city overall; I will post more of Budapest in a later post.

Budapest is really two cities – Buda on one side of the Danube and Pest on the other. In the morning, we went to Buda, but the first photo is of Pest, looking across the river. That large white building in the middle with the orange dome is the Parliament building.
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Ferris wheels seem to be fashionable in cities these days! I took this photo on a bus tour of Budapest.
Jewish Quarter street scene, Budapest

CFFC: Roofs in Europe

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week is roofs.

I found the old buildings of Europe to be great photographic subjects, and their roofs were among their unique features.

Mont-St.-Michel, France
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On the Rhine near Braubach, Germany
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Old entrance gate at Miltenberg, Germany
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Nuremberg, Germany
Roof with a cupola and a weather vane, Regensberg, Germany
Roof with statues, Vienna, Austria