SYW: Animal Talk and Questions to End the Holiday Season

Share Your World is a weekly set of questions hosted by Melanie at Sparks From a Combustible Mind.

Do dogs ‘talk’ (communicate) with their own species? (credit to Marilyn of Serendipity)
Not just dogs – I think the members of every species communicate with each other. It’s not necessarily with their voices. Dogs are known to leave their “calling cards” by peeing on trees and lawns. Doing this is like sticking a post-it-note up on a public bulletin board for all to see. Anyone who has a pet knows the different kinds of sounds they make. If my cat hears the sound of a cat fight, she is immediately on alert – her tail and fur on her back puff up. Dogs bark, whine, growl and make other sounds to express themselves; cats meow, caterwaul, purr and make funny, soft noises at animals outside; loons have a variety of calls. Many people have heard recordings of whale “songs.” So yes, I think dogs, like other animals, communicate with their own species as well as with others.


Photo courtesy of Google Images

Have you ever had to work on Christmas Day?
No, fortunately not! I have never been in a job that requires someone to be on call all the time. Our daughter, whose birthday is on Christmas, is not so fortunate – I told her she was lucky never to have to work on her birthday, but in fact, she did used to when she had less seniority at her job as an apartment building manager.

If someone gifts you something that you immediately loathe, do you pretend to really like it anyway or are you brutally honest about your opinion?
I don’t loathe any gift and always try to show my gratitude for receiving it. I received, this Christmas, a gift from a friend – it is a small wood burning set. Original, I’ll give her that! She said it’s because I am “branching out” in my creative crafts – I’ve been drawing and painting more lately, that’s true. But don’t give me anything to burn! I will either cause an accident to myself or others, or at the very least mess it up. What I usually do with gifts like this that I have no use for is to keep them to give to someone else later, someone who doesn’t know the original gift giver!

Which popular drink, found during the Christmas season most often, is called “milk punch?”
Spiked eggnog perhaps? I have never heard the term “milk punch” so I’m just guessing.

How many ghosts show up during “A Christmas Carol?”

Are you all about the holly and jolly or more about remembering the alleged ‘true’ meaning of Christmas?
Both. Christmas, like other holidays, is a time for celebration with friends and family. So that’s jolly, at least among my family and friends. The holly – decorating. Yes, I do that. But I also always put up my main creche along with all the small ones I’ve collected from around the world. Right after Christmas, I put away all the wrapping paper and cards, but the creches stay up until January 6. This is a remember that Christ is the reason for the season.

Please share a memory or thought about the holiday season if you’d like, whatever kind of celebration you may observe.
In spite of my husband being Jewish (and we do light the menorah each night of Hanukkah), s
omething we, like many people, do is the tradition of driving around looking at lights. We actually haven’t done this for a couple of years, but this year we did, just Dale and I. We moved during the summer so we now live in a different community, and we decided to check out the holiday lights of Arlington Heights.


The entrance to North School Park in Arlington Heights, which has a lot of things that are lit up for Christmas.

North School Park also has dreidls and Hanukkah decorations on display!

Some Arlington Heights house decorations

This house is near where we live and is really over the top! They fill their yard (in front and on the side) with those blow-up figures, of every type and description. I think they add more each year. This year, they had three dragons alongside their house!

We (Dale, me, and our kids) used to always go to a neighborhood on the northwest side of Chicago called Sauganash, but after doing that for several years in a row, we realized that although the rich people who live there do decorate their houses and yards lavishly, they don’t change them much, so year after year we saw basically the same decorations and we stopped going there. While we are driving around, wherever it is, we tune our car radio to a station that dedicates about 6 weeks (just after Thanksgiving to just after New Year’s Day) to playing holiday songs, mainly popular tunes, not religious ones. We sing along with the ones we like and complain about how often they play the ones we don’t!

During my childhood, my family used to drive around our home town to admire decorations. There was one street that was famous for its original decorations, particularly one house, which did something different every year, so it was always a surprise. One year we went there and saw that that house had no lights up on the house, or any other decoration except a big lit up sign in the front yard that said SCROOGE. I’ve never forgotten this!

Sculpture Saturday

Mind Over Memory has a photo challenge called Sculpture Saturday. Here a few photos of sculptures I’ve taken over the last few months.


Rocking horse light sculpture, North School Park, Arlington Heights, IL (this park has a wonderful holiday lights display every year).


Modern art sculpture somewhere in Chicago – taken during our Open House Chicago 2019 tour


Sculpture at Buddhist Temple in Chicago – taken during Open House Chicago 2019.



Taken at the Chinese pagoda at Chinese Reconciliation Park in Tacoma, WA

Chicago Botanic Garden’s LIGHTSCAPE

Last week, my husband and I went to the Chicago Botanic Garden’s holiday light extravaganza, called Lightscape. We had to purchase tickets online in advance, and reserve a specific entry time. Many of the dates were sold out, particularly weekends, but I was able to register for 7:15-7:30 on Thursday, Dec. 19. Once we entered, we could stay as long as we wanted until closing time at 10:30. Of course, we didn’t stay that long. Fortunately, it was a relatively pleasant evening, although we were glad we had dressed warmly.

A lot of spectators were there when we were – it was quite crowded, and on the dark path, it was inevitable that we would accidently run into someone. There were lots of children running, also, who also ran into people, including us. Everyone was nice about it, though – there was a general understanding that there were crowds, it was dark, but with patience, we would be rewarded with spectacular light shows.

I’ve been to Chicago Botanic Gardens often enough to understand the basic layout and the types of gardens that are showcased in different areas. Each of these designated areas was used by the artistic light companies to showcase to best advantage each particular light display. The path through the exhibit was marked and one only had to follow it to see everything.

Entrance to the exhibit was through this arc of changing colors of light – it’s hard to see but there is a bow on the top, to resemble a giant light wreath!

These photos were all taken at Lightscape.  Overall, it was a fantastic show and definitely worth the price of admission + parking!
This brilliantly lit Christmas tree was surrounded by trees with multicolored lights, like the one in the photo above.
This part was called “Singing Trees.” As carols played, the trees lit up according to the tone and pitch of the music. I have to admit, though, that in these photos, the trees look like giant Daleks (“exterminators” on the Dr. Who series)!
Looking across one of the ponds to the Japanese garden, with the red lit trees reflecting in the still water.
In the warm seasons, water tumbles over these rocks to form waterfalls. These strings of flowing white lights are meant to resemble waterfalls.
Lights in the form of snowflakes on the path leading to…

…pink “cherry blossom” trees.

I took a video walking through hanging curtains of light that pulsated and changed colors.

The tulip garden

This realistic looking “carpet” was projected onto the path.

Dale took this photo of me standing on the “light” carpet – my coat was transformed into an amazing technicolor dreamcoat!
Cathedral of Light

It’s no wonder that this “cathedral of light” was used in the advertising for this event!

A rainbow of pulsating, moving lights covered a large (normally) grassy area, which I recognized as the place where crowds lay on the ground to watch the solar eclipse two years ago!

This was the last thing in the exhibit.
One of the coolest photos I took was in the parking lot on our way out – the border of the Botanic Garden was marked by a series of trees, whose branches were traced in brilliant white lights. We had seen this from the road when we were entering, but couldn’t get close enough for a good photo, until we were leaving.
The lights were actually brighter than in this photo, but I took it without flash, without changing the ISO setting. I like it because all the details of the tree can be seen.
I hope you enjoyed this photographic tour of Lightscape at Chicago Botanic Gardens!



Song Lyric Sunday: Christmassy Music

I found this song on YouTube and really liked it. In doing research on it, I found out that it was composed and sung by British composer Leigh Haggerwood in 2010. He wanted to bring back the spirit of Christmas that he felt was lacking from the UK charts for decades. He was disappointed by the annual non-festive songs and when he was writing My Favourite Time of Year, he recollected his own childhood in the early 1980s. The melody is catchy and upbeat, which “weaves up and down the major scales of Eb and Bb.” It also has traditional Christmas sounds such as chimes and harmonies.

The video is set in Victorian England, filmed in Shropshire which gave it an authentic recreation of the period. In the video the street becomes “Florin Street.” Haggerwood had trouble promoting the song at first because it wasn’t coming from a major label. It gained prominence through social media. After its release in December 2010, in August 2011 the United States Army Band asked for permission to arrange the song for their Christmas concert at the DAR Constitution Hall in Washington D.C. After that, it was requested for TV and radio shows, and Haggerwood  received requests to perform it in schools, churches, choirs, orchestras, theatres and youth groups.

You can listen to the entire album Christmas Songs by the Florin Street Band on YouTube.

My Favourite Time of Year lyrics: 

Lanterns lighting up the town,
Peace on earth is all around,
Everything is calm on Christmas Eve.
There’s goodwill in the air tonight,
Angels sing by candle light,
Their voices carried on the wind.
When carol singers gather round,
When I hear that festive sound,
I wanna join with them and sing!
They sing a merry song and we all sing along,
A festive melody that tells us Christmas time is here.
See the stars tonight; they’re shining bright,
‘Cause it’s Christmas time
and it’s my favourite time of year.

Deck the halls with boughs of holly,
Give me mistletoe; it’s the season to be jolly,
Wrapping presents, writing cards,
helping decorate the tree,
But there’s one thing that makes it all for me.
When carol singers gather round,
Angel voices fill the town,
It’s like the world is joining in
(Noel, Noel, Noel)
They sing a merry song and we all sing along,
A festive melody that tells us Christmas time is here.
See the stars tonight; they’re shining bright,
‘Cause it’s Christmas time and it’s my favourite time of year.

Christmas Eve,
Still believe,
So excited,
Can’t sleep,
When the morning comes,
Church bells ring,
And he’s been
They sing a merry song and we all sing along,
A festive melody that tells us Christmas time is here.
See the stars tonight; they’re shining bright,
‘Cause it’s Christmas time and it’s my favourite time of year.
And it’s my favourite time of year
(Noel, Noel)

Song Lyric Sunday
Dec. 22, 2019