Humans have been creating and building things for thousands of years. Some are monumental and awe-inspiring, some are fun or functional, and some are ugly. Everywhere people go, they leave behind something, carelessly or with a purpose.
On a recent trip to Poland, we spent a day and a half in the southern city of Krakow. Krakow is a vibrant city with a well-preserved Old Town and full of interesting public art! Here are four of my favorites and most well-known.
In the main square of the old town, was this head. “The artist’s gift to the city of Krakow, 2005” read a plaque (which I translated with the help of Google translator). The artist is Igor Mitoraj and his bronze sculpture (created in 1999) is called “Eros Bendato.”
Nearby was a wooden pole with colorful birds, called “Emaus tree.” A sign in English explains that the Emaus tree “refers to the traditional trees of life” which were found at the stalls of the annual fair in Zwierzyniac on the 2nd day of Easter. The Emaus tree could be a nest with figurines of chicks or a bird mounted on a stick decorated with leaves, usually made of wood. The tradition of making this ornament dates back to pre-Christian times when it was believed that the souls of the dead came back to life as birds who sheltered in tree branches. It also symbolized nature coming back to life in the spring.
A “fire breathing” dragon is a popular site for children, located below the wall of Krakow’s castle. Every evening at 6 p.m., this dragon is supposed to “breathe fire.” I don’t know exactly how it works and our guide didn’t explain it, but the day we were there, no fire issued forth from the dragon’s open mouth, disappointing this crowd of expectant kids.
We visited the old Jewish quarter, where the Steven Spielberg movie, Schindler’s List, was filmed. Nearby is an art installation consisting of tall, stark chairs, each representing 100 Krakow Jews (about 6,700) who were killed in the Holocaust. The artist and the installation’s title are on the sign below.
Do you ever feel more excited about getting the package in the mail, rather than the item that’s in it? Sometimes. It is fun to shop online because I get the package in the mail and that’s exciting.
What is the difference between your ideal self and your real self? (i.e. what attribute or physical feature would allow you feel the ideal ‘you’?) It would take many pages to thoroughly answer this question! Physically, I’m okay except I need to lose about 15 lbs. I would be more my “ideal” self if I didn’t have ADHD. My life would have taken a different trajectory if I had had the self-confidence to make decisions and be happy with them. For most of my life, I didn’t know why I was the way I was – low self-esteem, forgetful, lack of consistency, always losing things. I got distracted in class so I didn’t do as well in my classes as I might have. I didn’t get a diagnosis of ADHD until 2007, when it was too late for me to take the most effective meds (because by then, I had a heart problem). But at least I understood myself after that, and I was nicer to myself.
I now am relatively satisfied with my life. I think that happens often to people when they enter their senior years. I am not going to be a famous author and my teaching years are over, so I will never have the chance to be a much better teacher. But being retired, I do a lot of things that I want to do and no one judges me. I have come back to a childhood interest, which is art. I sing in two choirs. I am in two writing groups and 3 reading groups. I write my blog when I feel like it. I travel and look forward to upcoming trips. I have lots of new friends in the senior community where my husband and I live now, and I love the little house (basically a duplex) where we live. I have everything I need and want (well, mostly).
If you found $2,000 on the ground and there were no witnesses, what would you do with it? I once found $100 on the grass outside a restaurant and carried around that $100 bill for months. I was going to just spend it – after all, there was no way to trace whose it was. But when I talked to my sister, she said whenever she found money, she would give that same amount to a charity. I thought that was a good idea.
Much as I would like to just use the $2000 for a trip, I would probably feel compelled to donate at least part of it (I’m more selfish than my sister!). So maybe I’d use half for my travel fund and give half to a worthy cause.
Are you ever morally obliged to take action? Under what circumstances? If you witness a crime, you should report it, or if possible, intervene to stop it (without endangering your life). But at least report the crime to the police.
I think I am also morally obligated to do something to help the cause of saving our planet from the effects of human-caused climate change. I don’t do much – just small things, but I will write a letter to the newspaper to counter a denier of human caused climate change. If I ever get a new car, it will be an electric car. (Right now I drive a hybrid – a Toyota Prius, which gets 50 miles to the gallon). I belong to a committee to promote awareness about recycling and doing things to help the planet or our community to become more “green.” I recycle. My husband and I collect Styrofoam from people (which cannot be recycled in most instances) and then take a carload to a company that’s over 40 miles away, to recycle it. It’s the Dart Company, which makes Styrofoam. I tell everyone I know to save the Styrofoam containers they get and give them to us. Dart has four huge bins on the edge of their premises where people come to recycle their Styrofoam. It warms my heart to see that the bins are usually full to overflowing, which means other conscientious people are bringing their Styrofoam there too! There are many small ways that people can become involved – refuse straws & plastic utensils, don’t litter throwaway masks, recycle not just paper and the other materials that one’s community accepts, but also donate old clothes to resale places. Better yet, don’t buy new clothes in the first place (this is a hard one for me!). Compost if you can.
Reduce – Reuse – Recycle – Refuse
GRATITUDE SECTION Please feel free to share how last week went for you. Bright or not so bright spots?
Not so bright: I wasted too much time playing games on my phone, which is a strain on my eyes and I can barely read a book after that! Bright: I’m making birthday cards for my friends and have developed a sort of style for these cards. I am hoping to make a couple of sets to sell at a craft and vendor sale at my church. Here’s an example:
This mural on a building in Chicago was visible during Pride Month while driving on the Kennedy Expressway (I-90).
The Old Belmont Hotel in Chicago is now called “Belmont by Reside.” The ceiling of the parking lot is itself a work of art.
At the Chicago lakefront near Navy Pier, I once discovered a really cool sculpture, which most people don’t know exists. Sculptor Seward Johnson entitled it “Crack the Whip!” which is the name of a children’s circular game. The individual children’s expressions and the detail in their appearance is delightful and realistic. The child in front pulls the child behind him/her, who in turn pulls the next one as they run in a circle (or try to!). I thought to include photos of this sculpture would be appropriate for the theme of “going in circles.”
I really like the questions Melanie has presented in Share Your World this week! So here goes!
In your opinion, what do you buy way more of than most people? I asked my husband what he thinks I buy too much of, and he said “nothing.” And in truth, he has to convince me that it is OK to buy something I really want but I am reluctant because it’s expensive. I often want to buy some new clothes but I don’t really need them and I think it’s wasteful of resources to buy excessive amounts of anything. I should shop at resale shops!
Which workers have the worst jobs? The jobs most Americans won’t do, but are much in demand, are often done by the lowest paid workers. They do the drudge jobs, including working in fields of large agricultural farms, bending over in the hot sun for long hours; cleaning toilets; factory work where there is dangerous machinery or an assembly line processing meat products (separating the organs and guts from the ‘good’ meat). These jobs are stressful, have long hours, and no job security. Here is an interesting article about the worst jobs in America: What are the worst jobs in America?
Opinion. John Cage is a composer who composed a piece named 4’33” for any instrument. The performers are instructed not to play their instrument for four minutes and thirty-three seconds. Is this music or is this art? A combination of the two? Neither, it’s stupid. Your opinion? I have seen this “performed.” I thought it was weird. In college I had some music nerd friends who really got into this avant-garde type of music. John Cage was a preferred composer among these people! But not for me!
How good are you at drawing? I am pretty good. I have been drawing all my life. I’ve only recently started learning how to paint. But drawing is still my forte. Here are some of my personal favorites, ranging from 1973 to 2022!
Which one do you think is the oldest? (Some of them are dated.)
GRATITUDE SECTION (as always optional)
Feel free to share one amazing thing you’ve experienced (any time frame).
Travel – each trip more amazing than the one before. I was amazed on my first safari, seeing wild animals roaming free, and no further than a few yards from us! They amazed me with their natural behavior and their antics – a mother cheetah playing with her cub, elephants playing in the water, lions and giraffes mating. There’s nothing that can compare with being among these creatures who share the earth with us.
On the other hand, I was also amazed – gobsmacked! – by visiting the ancient Egyptian monuments and realizing that they have endured thousands of years! The famous pyramids and sphinx were created over 4,000 years ago and yet they still stand! And visiting tombs and monuments where I got to see beautiful artwork – carved on pillars and walls of monuments, sometimes with the paint still visible, and the beautiful, colorful artwork in the ancient tombs. I just find it so amazing that these things have endured for more than 3000 years and we can still visit them. The Ancient Egyptians did create these tombs and monuments to last for “millions and millions” of years, but thousands is already very impressive!