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!!

CFFC: Nature’s Patterns

Patterns are everywhere in nature. Indeed, humans have imitated nature in creating patterns. Patterns in Nature is the wonderful topic for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week.

Flowers make many patterns.

I love photographing mushrooms, which appear in many shapes and sizes.

Tree branches, leaves and trunks make their own complex patterns.

It is always worthwhile to stop and admire small leaves and plants – often they surprise you!

Some animals have patterns on their skin, tail, or feathers.

Layers painted rock formations over millions of years. In Arizona, there are many examples of this, at the Grand Canyon, the Painted Desert and in Oak Creek Canyon in Sedona.

Frutas Exoticas!

I have learned about exotic fruits mostly from my travels to Latin America and living in Brazil. And they are delicious!! Dr. Tanya’s 5 Things topic this week is exotic fruits!!

  1. Part of the time I spent in Brazil was in the northeastern city of Natal, the capital of the state of Rio Grande do Norte. My now ex-husband taught at the university there. I didn’t have a job and although we had a car, he drove because I was petrified of driving in Brazil – I still am! So many afternoons I would lie in a hammock on our veranda and drink fresh fruit juices. (Tough life, eh?!) We made these ourselves – all you do is cut up the fruit and blend it in a blender. I guess it was more like a smoothie.

It so happened that our next door neighbor, separated by a wall between us, had a papaya tree that was right next to that wall. One day, it produced a large papaya which dropped from the tree into our yard! So we claimed it and ate it right away. (I never much liked papaya, but when it’s fresh, it’s wonderfully juicy and smooth!)

Brazilian papayas are much larger than the ones imported from Mexico that we have in the U.S.

2. Probably the most unusual fruit, at least for those of us who live in temperate climates, is the caju (cashew in English). All we get here are the nuts (which I love!) but they also have a fruit attached to them. The juice from the cashew fruit isn’t that great, but I’m including it here for its “exoticness” and because I like cashews!

Incidentally, the largest cashew tree in the world is in Natal! My ex and I visited it one day, and although I have photos of it in a moldy old photo album somewhere, I am posting this one downloaded from Google Images. (They’ve really modernized it by making paths through it – there were no wooden paths when we went.)

The cashew tree doesn’t grow tall – it just spreads out and looks like a small forest from the outside! When a long, snaky branch gets heavy and touches the ground, eventually roots grow underneath it, creating a new, “daughter” tree!

Here is the fruit, called an apple in English. Brazilians don’t usually eat the fruit, but they make juice out of it.

The cashew nut is easy to identify!

3. The carambola, or star fruit, is shaped like a star! You slice it as you would a kiwi, and eat the juicy slices! It is possible sometimes to find this fruit in American supermarkets.

4. Fruta de conde is a fruit not available here, but in Puerto Rico and other Central American countries you can find a variation of it, called guanabana. It contains large black seeds which are easy to remove as you eat the mild, sweet white flesh. Ice cream made from this fruit is wonderful too!

The Brazilian fruta de conde is rather small, about the size of an artichoke (which it sort of resembles from the outside!), but the guanabana of Central America is quite a bit larger.

5. For the last one, it was hard to decide between passion fruit and guava, both of which are absolutely wonderful! If you have never tried passion fruit juice, you can find it in the international section of your supermarket – sometimes – and you will develop a passion for this fruit too!

Maracuja, as passion fruit is called in Portuguese, is very popular to use in the most famous Brazilian cocktail – caipirinha! This drink is made with cachaça (very strong but kind of sweet alcohol), sugar, ice, and maracuja. It’s great with vodka or rum too!!

Four years ago, when my husband Dale and I went to Brazil, I ordered this drink several times, always with passion fruit, but you can get them made from most any fruit, including mango, lime (traditional), guava, etc.

Because it was a tie between passion fruit and guava, I will include guava too! My late sister-in-law lived in Hawaii, and when we went to visit her, I would pick guavas right off the tree in front of her house and bite into them! Guava skin is meant to be eaten with the fruit. My ex-husband’s grandmother made really good jam from guava.

I prefer the pink guava, but the yellow/white is good too.

There are many other fruits I could write about, (mango, jaca, acai, etc.) but this challenge was for 5 (or 6, ahem) things!

All photographs in this post were downloaded from Google Images.

CFFC: White, Off-White, & Cream

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge‘s colors this week are white and cream colored.

Village in Normandy, France
Memorial crosses at Arromanches, France for 75th anniversary of D-Day
Pots ready for painting, Poulsbo, WA
Comfortable seating at café in Poulsbo, WA
Wedding cakes at our niece’s wedding in Tacoma
Cheeses at Naschmarkt in Vienna, Austria
Holiday wreath in apartment building of our senior community
Holiday wreath
Snowy bush – February 2020
Swan and dead grass – March 2020
One of my daffodils – May 2020
Lily in June 2020
Swan with ruffled feathers
Inverness Village Hall with its unique four silos
War memorial, Inverness, IL
American cemetery at Omaha Beach, Normandy, France

CFFC: Green & Orange

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge continues with its color series. This week the colors are orange and green separately or combined.

These combos were taken at the Park Ridge Farmer’s Market.

My zinnias in the full bloom of summer

Ripening tomatoes

A tree in the process of turning into fall color

Lovebirds in Tanzania

Entrance to a restaurant in Luxor, Egypt

Two in Amsterdam

Two at the orchid show at Chicago Botanic Gardens

The Changing Seasons: September 2020 – Beauty and Weirdness

Marilyn Armstrong of Serendipity Seeking Intelligent Life on Earth has taken over a monthly challenge called The Changing Seasons.

The Changing Seasons is a monthly challenge where bloggers around the world share what’s been happening in their month. To join in, you can either:
 1. post 5-20 photos in a gallery that you feel represent your month. Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots. 
2.  post a photo, recipe, painting, drawing, video, whatever that you feel says something about your month. Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!

In either case, tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so others can find them. One thing that won’t change though. Include a ping-back to Marilyn’s post, and she will update it with links to everyone else’s.

Marilyn says, “For those of us who have participating in this challenge for years … since the first years when Baron Guzman ran the challenge, I think we have our own style on how to make this work. I could never use a single picture. I’m too indecisive. Especially given the rapidly changing climate we are experiencing, I think this is an important challenge.” Ditto for me about indecisiveness! So here’s my September photo gallery: Visits to kitschy or pretty places in our area (because we can’t travel), flowers, and season changes were the things that characterized September 2020.

Recycling styrofoam at Dart Co. in Aurora; sculpture called “Solitude”; Mr. Eggwards (Humpty Dumpty doppelganger); sunflowers at Cantigny estate in Wheaton; Tribune magnate McCormick’s house at Cantigny; outdoor BBQ stove at my niece’s house in Evanston; 4 silos surrounding Inverness Town Hall; Black Lives Matter billboard (a little bit of sanity in an area full of Trump signs on lawns); all that’s left of a factory in Grayslake, now in the middle of a park; kitschy Egyptian copies of statues & pyramid in Wadsworth, officially known as “Gold Pyramid House” (the pyramid isn’t gold right now because they had a fire); hibiscus flower after rain; rare red flower called “cardinal flower” (it disappeared within a day or two); zinnias in my garden; mini petunias in my garden; tree branches on the campus of our community; katydid (I feel an affinity – we share a name!); sunset in a nearby suburb; another sunset in a nearby suburb; West Lake (pond on the campus here) with its many ducks – most of them young adults (a few months ago most of them were ducklings).