The Last February of Love Post

We’ve finally arrived at the end of this short month, which has seemed at least as long as any other month! This means the last day of Paula’s Month of Lurve challenge.

My final love is games!

Feb. 28: I love…to play games! It can get out of hand when I spend half a day playing games on my phone! But I prefer games I can play with others – good old-fashioned Scrabble or Scattergories or other board games. Games we used to play with each other as kids. I always think of my dad when talking about games, because there is no one who loved to play games more than he did! So I and my siblings grew up with a love for games. We had educational games that helped us learn things, like state capitals and countries of the world as well as the usual Parcheesi, etc. It was a way of sharing time together when we’ve exhausted all conversation topics – or to look forward to at the end of the day. One of my sisters lives in this senior community with her husband, and we often get together to play games. Most days there’s some kind of game going on in our community center.

Word games are my favorite, and I have several different ones on my phone: Words With Friends is my favorite, even though there are inconsistent rules about what words are acceptable, and they have some made up words. I like this game because it’s the only one I play with other people, and it’s like Scrabble. I also have Wordscape, Word Stacks, and Word Scroll.

Some games are good to keep one’s mind sharp, although I don’t believe that crap in ads about games that your IQ is based on whether you score well on their games! I added a few additional games recently, including one that hones geometry skills.

This challenge has been fun, but also challenging since I often had a hard time keeping up! Thanks, Paula, for hosting it!

Month of Lurve #27

For Paula’s second to last day of her challenge February Love Me, I am getting low on topics (lol!), but I now turn to media…specifically TV.

I wanted to say movies – who doesn’t love movies?? But I realized that there is something on TV that I love more than movies.

Feb. 27: I love…TV miniseries! Most of them are on PBS but not all – we no longer get HBO or Starz or Showtime, but we do have Netflix, which has many of its own original miniseries. Some miniseries last only a few weeks, while others run for several seasons. The most famous of these is probably Downton Abbey, which I followed diligently, and couldn’t wait for the next season to start! PBS has a lot of really good miniseries, most of them British. But Netflix has Unorthodox, Anne With an E (based on Anne of Green Gables), Ratchett, and more. Some of them are “feel good,” some are funny, some are profound, and others are historical or maybe mysterious. I like being able to follow the same characters every week in my living room. Below are a few of the miniseries I have enjoyed regularly.

This is actually the trailer for the Downton Abbey movie, not the series.

Love Me Do!

What would life be without friends? So my love on Feb. 26 for Paula’s month of lurve goes to…

Feb. 26: I love…friends! I have friends pretty much all over the U.S. and in Brazil because I have lived in several different places and in my high school there were students from all over. I have come to think of some of you as my blogger friends, reading your posts and commenting, and you doing the same! But I am dedicating the collage below to good friends, even though we have seen little or nothing of each other during this pandemic! All the more reason to appreciate them!

I also love the Beatles!

Loving S Words

Catch-up time for Paula’s February Month of Love challenge!

And what do you know?? All my loves for this post start with the letter S, which is the subject of /Lens-Artists Photo Challenge!

Feb. 23: I love…sunsets (and sunrises, although I’m hardly ever awake for those! 🙂 ).

Somewhere at sea
The wires are unfortunately visible, but I like this sunset against Chicago’s skyscrapers.
I took this on a walk a few days ago – it’s not quite sunset, but the sun is low in the sky, casting shadows from the tree.
Sunset from an airplane
Sunset in Tanzania

Feb. 24: I love…spring! I already included summer as one of my loves, but the spring is special too, because it is the season of hope and anticipation. The cycle of life begins, emerging from winter snow and cold, producing new life in flora and fauna. Last spring, I took photos of my daffodils on the side of my house in March, from shoots to blooms.

Fruit trees bloom.
And my garden was newly planted.

Feb. 25: I love…singing. I never had good manual dexterity to play an instrument but I’ve always loved to sing. When I was a young adult and needed a spiritual outlet, I turned to singing by joining a community choir. After moving to Des Plaines, I joined the choir at First Congregational Church and still participate in that! It’s rather hard during the pandemic to do group singing, but we use Zoom and a music software called Upbeat to practice and then record the pieces we sing. So I’d like to end with a song about singing (with a virtual choir that may also use Upbeat software!):

Month of Love #21-22

Getting into the groove again with Paula’s Month of Love. Although I must say, I’m glad February is a short month, because I’m running out of things I love, mainly because my categories were too general in the beginning. But today is a special one..

Feb. 21: I love…photography, although I am not very good at it. I belong to a photography club here at our community, along with Dale, who is a better photographer than I am, but he doesn’t do much with his photos. My love for photography started when I was in junior high school. I had a Brownie camera and took lots of photos of my friends doing goofy things. I had enough to fill an album! Part of the fun of photography, for me, is making photo albums and scrapbooks. When I got to high school, I met a guy that was a serious photographer (he rarely went anywhere without a camera around his neck), and we became friends (and eventually more than friends, but I digress…). My school had a darkroom and this friend taught me how to develop my own photos. By that time, I had purchased a better camera – an Olympus SLR and did mostly black & white photography because that was what I learned to do in the darkroom. We never used color in those days. B&W was considered appropriate for “serious” photographers. I only bought rolls of black & white film, usually the one that had the most photos, which I think was 36. Then I would close myself in the darkroom to first develop the film, and then the photos.

I took this photo in high school and developed it myself.

In college, I was able to mount a small darkroom in the small bathroom of a two-bedroom/2-bathroom apartment I was renting with friends. I didn’t have enough room for film developing, so I took my film to a camera shop, where they developed the film. Then I processed the photos in my tiny darkroom.

After that, I stopped doing my own film and photo processing and began to shoot mostly color. I put many photos in scrapbooks/photo albums. Many of them deteriorated over the years, which is a shame. Now there are companies that sell high quality photo albums with non-acid paper. Meanwhile, I’m scanning the old ones.

In late 2006, my Fuji SLR stopped working and I graduated to digital. Dale had been using a digital camera for three years already, and he took photography classes, which were mostly about how to use Photoshop software.

I am proud of some of my photographs and if I were to get fancy photography software, they would probably look even better! I keep telling myself I will someday. Now, however, I have two cameras – a Sony alpha 68 with a detachable telephoto lens and my cellphone, which is often enough. When I travel, I take both cameras, but on occasion I leave my Sony behind in the room wherever we are staying, because I’m sick of carrying it. It is actually astonishing how high quality the cameras are in top-of-the-line cellphones these days. We recently purchased small Zoom lenses to attach to our cellphones. Still, for fine photography, I still prefer my Sony, so I can take photos like this:

On safari in Tanzania: A mother cheetah chases her cub – they were wrestling until Mom had enough and chased her cub (which is exactly what he wanted her to do)!

Feb. 22: I love…my son, Jayme, whose birthday is today! He is 36 years old and has had – and continues to have – many problems in his life due to mental illness. However, he is good-looking, kind, intelligent, and creative. He writes poetry, and after our trip to France in 2019, I gave him my old camera because the photos he took on the trip were fantastic! He has good observation skills and an good eye for how to frame his photos. He loves music and movies and has an eclectic taste.

Here’s a gallery of his life: clockwise from upper left: age 2; kindergarten picture; age 8 or 9, with his cousin Eric and a doe; 8th grade picture; at his sister’s wedding 2019; high school sophomore year picture

February Month of “Lurve” – #16-20

Whoa! I have five days to catch up on this challenge, Paula’s February Love Me!

Feb. 16: I love…my house. We moved here in August 2019, a compact, pristine little house (it’s actually a duplex) waiting for us. Everything is new & modern, nothing is malfunctioning (and if it does, we call maintenance who comes to fix it right away and we don’t have to pay for it), there are no stairs, we have a tiny screened porch and a patio with an elevated plot next to it where we can plant whatever we want, and adequate storage space. I think this house is the most satisfying thing about living in this senior community. I was so sick of our old house – nearly 100 years old, it had old plumbing, poor water pressure in the shower, and three levels. The washer & dryer were in the basement, and our bedroom was on the second floor. Now when I want to wash clothes, I just go from my bedroom to the washer & dryer unit off my kitchen. There was always something going wrong at our old house and we had to replace the roof twice. We don’t need to worry about any of that here!

Of course, we had to get rid of a lot of stuff, but I didn’t mind that. It was good to downsize!! The only drawback is having only a one-car garage, so one of us has to park in the driveway.

We live in the house on the left – the red Subaru is Dale’s.
View from the window of our second bedroom, which we use as our entertainment center – TV and computers are here.

Feb. 17: I love…my family. I grew up with three sisters and one brother, and both parents. We were not a dysfunctional family, we got along for the most part. My brother was really mean to me when we were children, and my oldest sister was kind of bossy too, but still we were a remarkably cohesive family. Now my parents are deceased, one of my sisters is also deceased, but we all have kids, and most have grandkids. I love and cherish my large extended family!

Our daughter gave us this photo in a frame. These are the members of my family who were there. But there are many more.
This photo was taken in 2007 (also in a frame) when we gathered to celebrate my mother’s 90th birthday. She is in the middle of the first row, wearing a black & teal outfit.

Feb. 18: I love…my knickknacks. I have a lot of small figurines and other knickknacks that I have accumulated during my travels, or sometimes they were gifts. I have a lot more than pictured below!

Still life of five random things I have collected over the years! In back is a little round box that opens into a traditional neighborhood scene, from Cuba; at left is a black clay turtle, which also has a whistle; and a Mexican alebrije – a seal made from copal wood and then brightly painted with beautiful designs! On the right is a circle of Peruvian figures made from clay and painted in traditional dress; and a snake I bought at a craft fair, because I just liked it.
Maybe you have seen a meme on social media of a cutout photo of Bernie Sanders at Biden’s Inauguration, placed in other photos. He was sitting near the back and was hugging himself in the cold. A friend crocheted this figure of Bernie for me. She also makes mittens (full size, that you can wear!). Bernie Sanders himself has capitalized on his meme by having it printed on T-shirts for sale; all the proceeds go to Meals on Wheels of Vermont.
This is Josephine (Josefina), a javelina made out of metal by an artist in Tucson, Arizona. I am doing a series of photos with Josephine in various random locations. Here she is on my piano keyboard! (A javelina is a type of wild pig native to Southwestern USA.)

Feb. 19: I love…coloring. A few years ago, there started to be coloring books for adults on the market. They were promoted as being relaxing. You can find coloring books of anything from scenes from Outlander to Cats with Hats to Amazing Mandalas and geometric designs. It is really calming, so I tend to do it while watching the news! I bought several sets of gel pens, which are my favorite medium for coloring, but I also use colored pencils a lot – which are good for doing shading in the pictures – and markers. I like experimenting with different color combinations and it also helps me to color small details without going outside the lines – a good practice for when I need a steady hand for doing water colors or drawings. Here is a sampling:

Feb. 20: I love…walking. Walking is my favorite type of exercise. I like walking outside especially, because I can appreciate the nature around me, and it’s possible to find small things to admire, something I can’t do if I’m riding a bike, for example. I walk in any season as long as the weather isn’t too cold – it’s really the wind that keeps me inside!

On the walking path of our campus, a few days ago.
On our campus – I liked the shape of this autumn foliage!
At Cuba Marsh in spring
Duck on a pond with water lilies, at Chicago Botanic Gardens last July

Month of LoveLoveLove, #14-15

Continuing with things I love for Paula’s February Love challenge, here are my days 14 and 15.

Feb. 14: I love…Dale. Valentine’s Day is a special day for me, because it is my husband’s birthday! I married my valentine 25 years ago, and we’ve been together for almost 30 years total! For our 25th anniversary (last November) we had planned to take a round trip cruise from the Caribbean to the Amazon, but of course it was cancelled due to Covid. We will go in 2022 instead. Years ago, I bit Dale with my travel bug and now he loves it as much as I do!

He can be very sentimental at times, much more so than I. He loves joking with puns, but he has used some of them so many times that other family members have to tell him to stop! Dale is a former high school history teacher in the inner city of Chicago, and retired after 33 years. Since then, he’s had more time for his favorite pursuit – golf! In the winter – especially this pandemic winter – he gets bored!

Imitating a stone statue behind us, in Scharding, Austria, 2019
A bite to eat after touring the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam
We had a fantastic suite in our hotel in Amsterdam in 2018. Dale is checking Facebook, as usual!
Being the only Jewish person on a Christian trip to Israel in January 2019, Dale proudly posed in front of the Golden Menorah in Jerusalem.
We took pictures of other couples, and they took photos of us while waiting for the Sound and Light Show to start at the Abu Simbel temples in Egypt, Jan. 2019.

Dale turned 77 yesterday, and a few unexpected health problems have arisen lately. Still, we hope to enjoy as many more years together as we can!

Feb. 15: I love…animals. I have already written about my love for cats, but we took a safari in Tanzania in 2018 that was the most unique and memorable trip of my life so far! During this pandemic, we are homebound, but we are lucky to live on a beautiful campus with two small lakes. Every spring and summer, I enjoy watching the swans, ducks, and other fowl that visit our lakes. I’ve also made friends with a couple of the dogs who I see on my walks (when the weather’s warm enough!).

February Month of Lurve, #11-13

Playing catch up again with Paula’s February Love Me challenge. I have just begun to realize that I should not make my categories too broad, or I will run out of topics!

Feb. 11: I love trees. Winter, spring, summer, and fall. I love trees during them all!

Feb. 12: is Lincoln’s birthday, which makes me think of another thing I love: history! One of the things I most like to do when traveling is to see historical places. I stood next to the Great Pyramid on the Giza plateau in Egypt and felt awed – that structure was built around 2500 BCE! It’s about 5000 years old and it is still standing! Until the Eiffel Tower was built, it was the tallest manmade structure in the world. I imagine the labor it took, moving huge blocks of stone to the site and placing them in exactly the right spot so the pyramid would not collapse. (Click on photos to see closer up.)

In Israel, visiting the places where Jesus himself had walked gave me goosebumps! (Click on photos to see full size)

In Normandy, France, we visited the city of Bayeux where we visited the museum that displays the original Tapestry of Bayeux, which tells the story of William the Conqueror and the conquest of England. This tapestry was made by hand by many artisans in circa 1100 CE. This embroidered tapestry is 70 meters long! We could not photograph the original tapestry, which was very fragile, but I did take a few shots of replicas they had on display in the lobby.

More recent history is also interesting to me. In Normandy, we visited the D-Day beaches and Overlord Museum. At Omaha beach, we saw the vast American Cemetery where 9,387 soldiers who participated in the D-Day invasion and subsequent battle were buried.

Feb. 13: I love writing. I have always enjoyed writing, and when I was a kid, I wanted to be an author or a journalist someday. Alas, life takes many twists and turns and there is always the road not taken. Then I was going to write a novel and I did research to find out how to get an agent, sell a book to a publisher, etc., etc. and it was just too stressful for me! So now it’s just a hobby. I’ve been in and out of writing groups and I do keep a journal, which is not really a diary – it’s more my musings on whatever I’m thinking about or reading about. Sometimes these journal entries turn into stories or essays or even poems. I’ve written letters to my local newspaper, which generally get published within a week. And then, of course, there is this – my blog. I’m not as regular at it as I wish I were, but on the other hand, I have a lot of other interests that keep me busy too.

Actually, I am slowly working on a book, which I intend to self-publish through a POS. It’s about the ancestors on my dad’s mother’s side. I’ve written six chapters, which has been really interesting, because I come across things I wanted to know – I have questions about how things happened, so I do research and find out all kinds of things I never would have known about. I have great admiration for my ancestors, who emigrated to America in the early 1800s. Their journey was quite an adventure! I have laid this project aside for far too long, and should get back to it soon. And it even ties in with my love of history!!

Love Me February 9-10

I’m trying to keep up with Paula’s monthlong challenge to blog every day this month something we love, by posting every few days! Here are 9 and 10, and I am not putting these in any particular order – I write them as I think of them.

Feb. 9 I love…summer. Long days, sunshine, warm weather, vacation, all of it.

Feb. 10: I love…music. I have a varied taste and go through periods of favorite genres. When in the car, I like to listen to the Beatles challenge on XM radio. For background music, I prefer classical, which is currently my favorite genre. I like jazz, blues, rock (oldies mostly – my generation’s rock music is now in that category!), big band, movie soundtracks, folk, religious, world. My second favorite genre is world music – music from around the world. I have spent quite a lot of time in Brazil over the years, and got to love their music – samba music, bossa nova, Brazilian rock (some of it – they have metal, like everywhere now, which I don’t like). I also like humor, when it’s well-done (listen to the last song below).

In fact, there are really only two genres of music I don’t much like: rap/hip hop and metal. Metal to me is just noise, but my son loves it. Rap/hip hop – it may be because ethnically I am not part of the culture. Back in the 1960s, there were wonderful soul groups like The Supremes (RIP, Mary Wilson!), Gladys Knight and the Pips, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, etc. Most soul music was great to dance to. Actually, I do like some hip hop/rock that gets me dancing – that is the case with a lot of Latin American pop music nowadays, which I do enjoy. And I do respect rappers for what they do – how they can improvise rhymes on the spur of the moment, and do that for a 5 minute song. Some of the danceable hip hop tunes I got to like while taking Zumba classes.

Other international music I particularly like is Celtic/folk, traditional music from Latin America and from Africa. Sometimes I get to like a particular type of music after I traveled to the area where it comes from. Usually it’s discovering something I hadn’t heard before, but I found out about several popular groups while traveling – La Oreja de Van Gogh in Spain, for example – I love their music. I don’t need to understand the language to appreciate the music, although it helps if I do. Music is an international language, that can be appreciated anywhere, but some music contains the soul of its people – blues, African songs, Celtic, etc.

Below are a few of my favorite (short) musical pieces. All have special meaning for me and give me tremendous saudades (a Portuguese word with an approximate meaning in English as melancholy, nostalgia, longing).

Enjoy the music!

My very favorite bossa nova song, because it brings back a lot of memories!

This Scottish song about a young man going off to war is kind of melancholy but it is one of my favorites.

My favorite international band is from Spain, La Oreja de Van Gogh. This one is more animated. Their music gives me so many saudades because I used to listen to them a lot.

Angel City Chorale is a choir I’ve known about for many years. They do religious, pop, and foreign language songs. I had never heard this one before, but I like it because of its African beat and language.

Here’s another one from Angel City Chorale that most will surely recognize. You don’t hear anything at first but keep listening! Originally sung by Toto, I had this song in my head the whole time we were in Tanzania*, so that is what it reminds me of! They also do Beatles and Beach Boys medleys, among others.

*I wanted to find out if you can see Mount Kilimanjaro from the Serengeti – you can’t.

And to end, here is a new release from Randy Rainbow. I LOVE this guy – he is so talented – he has a great voice and writes new humorous lyrics to well-known songs. Warning: This has a definite political slant.