SYW: Psychic Octopus, Famous People and Peanut Butter Jokes

Melanie has come up with a new set of questions this week for Share Your World.

QUESTIONS: 

Do you think psychic abilities exist? Yes, and I even know of a psychic octopus. I think some people have a high degree of sensitivity and connectivity to others. There are people who know when something has happened to one of their children, for example. I also believe some people can communicate with spirits. I don’t think that, in general, people can predict the future. But the psychic octopus did!

In the summer of 2010, we were in Spain during the World Cup, which was taking place in South Africa. The Spanish team was doing very well and everyone was super excited. During the semi-finals and finals, there was an octopus named Paul – he lived in Germany, I believe. On the evening before each of the semi-final matches, two little flags would be affixed to the side of two containers in which there was the favorite octopus food, mussels. Each contained a few mussels and both were placed in Paul’s tank. Every game – and this is really true – Paul would eat the mussels from the container of the winning team, that is, the team whose flag was attached. Unfailingly, he predicted every game. Sometimes he might take a mussel or two from both containers, but always selected the majority from the winning team’s container. And, the night before the final, his food selection predicted that Spain would win. By now, nearly everyone believed in the octopus. And, in fact, Spain DID win the World Cup final – it was the first (and so far the only) time they won this coveted award.

After the game, people poured into the streets from the bars where they’d been watching, and there was an all-night party in the streets of central Madrid. A few days later, the team members arrived home from South Africa, and all along the Gran Via (a wide thoroughfare in central Madrid) people gathered, wearing red and yellow – the colors of the Spanish team (and flag) – to wait for the bus that would bring the victorious players down the avenue for the benefit of everyone’s adulation. One of the things people wore were yellow octopus hats! Because Paul had predicted their victory, he was inextricably linked to the 2010 World Cup.

How would you describe peanut butter to someone who didn’t know what it was? A very sticky substance combining pureed peanuts and butter, that you use to spread on bread or to add flavor to a stalk of celery. (My dad had a hilarious joke about peanut butter – well, it was hilarious to watch him tell it, as it required some “acting.” But his description while telling this joke would give the person a pretty good idea of what peanut butter is like!)

Why does an octopus squirt ink? To protect itself from predators – the ink hides it from view and may be an irritant to predators.

Who are two of today’s greatest entertainers in your opinion?  (can be actors, musicians, singers etc)
I always am reluctant to answer this type of question, because my tastes are out of the mainstream for the most part, and I don’t even recognize the names of the current mainstream of entertainers! However, Stephen Colbert of A Late Show is one we watch regularly, and he got us through 4 years of Trump! In a similar vein, I also like John Oliver, who takes on serious subjects but he always gets a few laughs out of me and I love his accent!

GRATITUDE SECTION (always optional)

Please feel free to share a moment of gratitude in your life! 
The unseasonably warm, beautiful weather we have been given the last few days – flowers are blooming and I’m wearing sandals and short pants!

A Photo a Week: Candid Camera

Those of us over 50 most likely remember the old TV series Candid Camera – I can still remember the last line of its theme song: “Smile! You’re on Candid Camera!” Nancy Merrill’s A Photo A Week challenge this week is candids. I offer my submission, first with two photos taken of family members at my grand-nephew’s birthday/going away to college family gathering (that’s him in the second photo); and a few animal candids of wild and domestic furred or feathered friends.

Our cat had been sleeping behind some propped pillows on the bed – she’d never slept there before, and she seemed a bit surprised and perhaps annoyed that we found her hiding place!

Bodhi is a Tibetan spaniel (very much like lhasa apso).
A pair of swans preparing their nest – swans mate for life and both share the nest preparation duties. Tragically, shortly after this photo was taken, the male swan died!
A different pair of swans, a happy couple – they are always together!
I seem to have caught this Canada goose at an awkward moment!

Buffleheads in Black & White

Bird Weekly has as its topic this week Birds in Black & White (Monochrome). Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge is Anything in Flight (or capable of flight).

A couple of weeks ago, before the swans returned, my husband and I were taking a walk around our campus, and saw an interesting bird on West Pond, the larger of our two ponds. It was a group of six black & white ducks (or they seemed to be ducks), smaller than mallards, and they were diving birds, unlike mallards. They would dive and not surface for several seconds, then one by one, they’d pop up again. They reminded me of loons in that way, but I knew they weren’t loons. And also they seemed to have choreographed moves: they would swim one direction and then, all together, they would switch and go the other way. We had never seen these ducks before. I went home and searched on the Internet and concluded that they were bufflehead ducks. We grabbed our cameras with telephoto lenses and headed back to the pond.

After downloading the photos, I could see that they were indeed bufflehead ducks, which have somewhat enlarged heads, black & white with fluorescent green around their neck (which we couldn’t see in the photos – the birds were too far away). I concluded they were all males. Someone told me that they are often seen on Lake Arlington, about a mile north of here. So I guess they just decided to drop in and check out our pond! The next day, they were gone.

This was as close up as I could get with my 300mm lens. They’re so cute!
Taking flight in tandem

The great thing about these two challenges this week is that these ducks are basically black & white, so there’s no color missing in their plumage in these monochrome photos!

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 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 Love Me

Yikes! I have a few days to catch up for Paula’s February Love Me challenge! Here are 3 more, in no particular order…

Feb. 6: I love…ice cream! Even though it is winter, and quite cold here, I can’t resist the temptation of ice cream once in a while!

Ice cream in France

Feb. 7: I love…art. I love to visit art museums whenever I can as well as do my own artwork! I just finished the book Frida in America by Celia Stahr, a new biography of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo focusing on her years in the United States with her husband, Diego Rivera. While reading the book, I explored her artwork on line and, although I was quite familiar with her work, I discovered a lot of her paintings I hadn’t known about before. I also love mural art wherever I find it – and usually stop what I’m doing to take a picture!

Claude Monet, Bordighera, 1884, oil on canvas; exhibition at Chicago Art Institute, Oct. 2020
My artwork: Painted Bunting, sharpie and pastels on construction paper, January 2020

Feb. 8: I love…traveling. Anyone who reads my blog even occasionally knows how traveling is absolutely the thing I love most to do! And while traveling, I engage in one of my favorite hobbies, photography, and when I come back, I engage in another favorite activity, writing (or blogging). Below is a gallery random sample of travel photos from 2018-2019. There are no travel photos from 2020 due to not being able to travel during the pandemic! I have two international trips booked for 2022 and hopefully we can do a road trip in the fall of this year.

February of Love #5

Feb. 5: Yesterday, I wrote that I love cats. Right now, most of my cat-love goes to my one cat, Hazel. (The rest goes to my three grandcats, who I don’t get to see very often these days!) Hazel has been with us since Christmas 2013 and is now almost 10 years old! She has her moods, but usually is good for some nice fur-fluffing, and sleeping between our legs, especially in cold weather. In the mornings, she likes to lie by the fire, joining us with our morning coffee/tea.

For some reason, she prefers to drink from the toilet rather than her water “fountain,” which constantly recycles the water so it’s always clean.
One of my favorite photos of Hazel, sitting on the coffee table (where she wasn’t supposed to be).

Posted for Paula Light’s February Love Me challenge to post something you love for every day this month.

CFFC: Animal Art

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week has the topic Non-Alive Animals. Of course, any representation of an animal has a real animal in mind as the artist creates it. But the rendition may be very close in appearance to the real animal, or it may be whimsical, or abstract. It all depends on the craftsman’s talent and point of view.

It was hard to choose photos for this post – so many to choose from! Everywhere I go, locally or abroad, there is animal art. Animals have been subjects for every kind of art imaginable for thousands of years…

Such as the first known painting in the world, a painting of Egyptian geese on papyrus at the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities in Cairo,

and the god Horus, usually represented as a hawk, at the Temple of Horus in Edfu, Egypt.

Also at the Egyptian Museum is a throne of King Tutankhamun, whose tomb was not found until 1922, with most of its grave goods intact – it hadn’t been subjected to many tomb robberies!

This elaborate throne contains many symbols and images of gods, such as twin lions on the front. One of ancient Egypt’s sacred symbols was the scarab beetle, depicted in the cartouche on the front of the arm; the hieroglyphics within the cartouche generally are names of kings, so this may have been Tuthankhamun’s. Embracing the throne of either side are the wings of the vulture, a bird considered to be a protector of kings. In this case, he represents the king-god himself, wearing the double crown of Upper and Lower Egypt.

The ancient Chinese civilization also had many animal representations, one of the most common being the guardian lion. This one is in front of a restaurant, House of Szechwan, in Des Plaines, Illinois.

Generally depicted in pairs, guardian lions stood in front of imperial palaces, tombs, temples, government buildings, and the homes of the wealthy. The concept was to show the emotion of the animal, in this case ferocity, as a symbol of protection.

Deriving from this Chinese custom, there are people today who have a pair of lions as lawn ornaments, like this one in Des Plaines. He might look more ferocious if freshly painted!

Here are another example of a Des Plaines lawn ornament, this cute little bird sitting on an orb.

There were many whimsical animals on display for sale or as decoration in the charming small town of Poulsbo, Washington, north of Tacoma.

In Evanston, Illinois, there is a little known museum called the American Toby Jug Museum, which we discovered during Chicago’s annual Open House in October. Toby Jugs are ceramic figures, usually depicting well known persons, but also animals. The history of the toby jug, or philpot, dates back to 18th century potters in Staffordshire, England and was popularized by colonists in the United States. The top of each toby jug has a spout for pouring, but nowadays, these figurines are primarily for ornamentation or collections.

After the wedding we attended near Poulsbo, Washington, we spent a day in Tacoma before returning to Seattle for our flight home. There is a beautiful Museum of Glass there, which has many objects designed by the famous Dale Chihuly, but there is also a fine collection of glass sculptures by other artists, such as this beautiful horse.

Horses are the subject of many works of art, including statues of famous heroes mounted on horses in many European cities, but I am only including two 2-dimensional renditions, one a drawing of a palomino I drew a few days ago, and another one at a short film display at the Ij (Eye) Museum in Amsterdam.

While in Amsterdam, we visited the Oude Kerk, the oldest building in Amsterdam, founded circa 1213 CE. Under the seats of the choir were unique carvings – some rather bawdy! – including this one of a pig.

Most people love animals, and there are many examples of whimsical animals to delight human sensibilities. In the gardens behind Melk Abbey in Austria are some cute creatures, mostly fantastical combinations of human and animal, but there was this turtle:

In Passau, Germany, which we had visited the previous day while on our Viking European cruise, while walking around town on our own, we came across a dachshund museum! Big and little dachshund statues were in front of it.

Who could resist being delighted by several painted cows in the town across from Mont St-Michel in France? Here is one of them, my personal favorite (I love that bright blue udder!).

Our daughter loves Hello Kitty, and for her bridal shower, Hello Kitty was the theme! I bought these as party favors.

Some animal sculptures are cute,

At Mount St. Mary Park in St. Charles, Illinois

but some can be a bit intimidating!…

Giant spider at Pappajohn Sculpture Park in Des Moines, Iowa

and some are reminders of favorite movies, such as this groundhog in Woodstock, Illinois, where Groundhog Day was filmed.

February Love #3-4

I have to catch up again with Paula’s Month of Love, with the challenge to post something I love every day of this month!

Feb. 3: I love…books. I used to be in 3 book groups – it was hard to keep up and still have time to read other things. I gave up the two library book groups because it got too difficult to access the books and Zoom meetings after Covid quarantine kept us from in person meetings. In the meantime I’ve joined another group here at our senior community, and I’m still in one at our church. I post all my books on Goodreads. There is a challenge every year: you start the year pledging to reading the number of books of your choosing. Last year I pledged 35 and read 45. So this year, I’ve pledged 40 and will probably go beyond that again! I always read a mix of fiction and non-fiction in a variety of genres. My favorite genre is historical fiction.

One reason I haven’t been blogging much lately is because I can go an entire day never turning on my computer, instead preferring to sit near the fire and read for hours!

Feb. 4: I love…cats! I take photos of cats wherever I go. Here is a sample of cats I’ve seen or loved as pets.