Thursday Doors in Red

I have not participated in Thursday Doors for awhile, in spite of my passion for doors! However, due to the pandemic, I haven’t had a chance to photograph any doors. So in keeping with the (new) host Sherry, I have delved into my archives for some red doors – and I’m sure I have posted some of them in the past, but never together!

Miltenberg, Germany
Miltenberg, Germany
Somewhere in northern Belgium
Somewhere in northern Belgium
Paris, France
Mont St-Michel, France
Des Plaines, Illinois, USA
Des Plaines, IL, USA

L-APC: A Change of Scenery During the Pandemic

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #140 is called A Change of Scenery. This week’s host, Wandering Dawgs, says:

I have the honor of hosting this week’s Lens-Artists photo challenge. If you are able to do so, we are challenging you to get out and look for a change of scenery. You don’t have to go far from home. It can be in your neighborhood, town, or even a car ride away. Maybe there is a nearby park you haven’t been to in a while, or maybe you’ve been wanting to try a different route on your walk, run, or bike ride. If you are unable to get out right now, we’d love for you to browse through your archives to feature images from places you have visited in the past when you needed a change of scenery.

We have made a few day trips into the city of Chicago and out to the western and northern suburbs. Here are some “changes of scenery” that we experienced during the pandemic.

In April, we got into the car and just drove. We ended up in Woodstock, IL (where Groundhog Day was filmed). We turned right at this bridge to get to the town.

It was early in the pandemic and few people were out. Woodstock’s downtown has many historic buildings, including an opera house turned theater where musicals and plays are performed. This photo shows the historic town hall – the little building to the right was the original town hall!

In May and June, we visited natural wildlife areas, hoping to get some good photos of birds and other wildlife. We went to Cuba Marsh Forest Preserve twice.

We also went to Volo Bog wildlife preserve, but saw mostly frogs and some pretty flowers, including some wild irises.

In September, we drove out to the western suburbs to see a few places we had read about in the local newspaper. In Wheaton, we explored “Cantigny,” the estate of Col. Robert McCormick, named for Cantigny, France where McCormick had shown exceptional leadership and bravery during World War I. He and his wife are buried on the estate, above the scene of the gardens and pond.

The Inverness Town Hall is notable for the four silo-like towers that dwarf the building itself.

Twice in the fall we visited St. Charles for a sculpture park there. The first time it started to rain before we had seen all the sculptures, so we went back a second time. The main attraction is a sculpture of the Humpty Dumpty-like Mr. Eggwards, who sits on a stone fence alongside the park.

The Chicago Art Institute had reopened with an extended stay of a Monet exhibit, but we went on the one day of the week that it was closed! So we went to nearby Millennium Park instead, and took in the Art Institute on another day. Although it was a beautiful sunny day, we saw few people, because it was during the autumn surge of Covid-19. Most people were not venturing out in order to avoid crowds – which we avoided too, since there weren’t enough people there to be a crowd! Here is the famous “Bean,” our nickname for the Cloud Gate sculpture. Usually one can walk around and under it, but it was roped off.

Now that spring is here, we will soon be venturing out again to explore more of our environs. Since we are fully vaccinated, we may even risk a 2-3 day weekend trip!

CFFC/CMMC: Oranges & Holes

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week has the topic of hole/whole. And for her newest challenge, Cee’s Midweek Madness Challenge, the topic is orange.

Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah is a wonder of geological formations called “hoodoos.” These orangish sandstone shapes were carved over millions of years through water and wind erosion. Besides being orange, look carefully to see the holes!


Another beautiful national park in Utah is Arches National Park, named for the many arches carved by nature into the orange rocks. The first picture below is an iconic image, which many people have seen on calendars or posters. I had to use my telephoto lens to get a good shot of this beautiful arch, because without an arduous climb we could not get very close to it! The second photo is another of the park’s arches, which form a type of hole due to erosion, out of the whole rock!

Pumpkins, when they carved, become jack-o-lanterns for Halloween. At night you can see the light of the candle glowing through the holes!

Chihuly piece at Museum of Glass in Tacoma

Orange foliage with “holes” between the leaves!

I keep this (whole) water bottle next to my bed.

It has a hole in the top where the straw goes in!

Saucy Questions & Spicy Answers

The Chocolate Box – 18 Questions – This is from A Guy Called Bloke, better known as the guy who loves to ask questions.

The Once Every 6 Weeks Saucy and Spicy, Sugary Sweet and Sour Game

Game 2 – Season 1 (Does this sound like it’s all about either food or sex? That’s what attracted me to play this game!)
February 2021

What is your reaction and interpretation to ……….. “Oooh l say that’s a big one!”
Usually a fish – like a record-breaking muskie. (I spent all the summers of my youth in northern Wisconsin. That’s what people do up there – they fish and hope to break the latest record.)

Are you more introverted, extroverted or ambiverted or if you prefer ‘lean more towards’ ambiversion?
I like that word – ambiverted. That does describe me.

Do you think you honestly know ‘hand upon heart’ what members of the opposite sex actually think?
I don’t think men are so different than women in what they think, in terms of love or relationships.. However, they do tend to think about different things than women if my husband is typical of the average male, which I think he is. Part of it is cultural conditioning too, so that men tend to prefer sports or tinkering with their cars, etc. Also when they are together, they don’t go into their personal lives as much as women. And they don’t always think about the way women think about casual sexual overtures. (I’m thinking of Andrew Cuomo, who is now facing sexual harassment charges, which he denies. He didn’t think of it as harassment, apparently.)

Which is more appealing of these two attributes only – brawn or brains?
Definitely brains, although physical appearance is undeniably important especially for initial attraction. I mean, people who are not physically attractive have to work harder to get the opposite sex to get interested in them.

What are some of your strangest quirks?
I make weird noises just for the hell of it, or to drive my cat crazy. She’s on to me already, however, so I don’t faze her anymore. But my husband shakes his head and mumbles something about the eccentric woman he married. Anyway, I’m pretty good at making strange noises – I’ve got quite a repertoire! I can also imitate animal noises so well that I really do freak out any domestic animal (cats or dogs mostly) that happens to be around.

What or when is the dirtiest you have ever been [your interpretation]?
I was trying to write a novel for NaNoWriMo, expanding on a short story I’d written years ago. My daughter and I took a “writing weekend” by ourselves at a hotel, and stayed in separate rooms to work on our novels. I wrote for HOURS. I got to the point of writing a sex scene, which turned out to be quite, um, graphic. Actually, there were several sex scenes that happened one after another, but one of them in particular was really detailed. After I wrote it, I was sort of embarrassed but I know there are authors who write this kind of stuff a lot – but I don’t read it. And to this day, I can’t read that scene I wrote without feeling kind of shocked.

By the way, I never finished the novel. (There didn’t seem to be a good way to proceed after that to continue to hold readers’ attention…)

Do you prefer to give, receive or take away?
I like them all, but lately giving stuff away is much more a part of my life. I am at that stage of life where I’m downsizing and letting go of lots of things I’ve accumulated that I considered so important at some point in my life. The easiest thing to do is to give them to others who will appreciate and make use of them.

Have you ever eating edible clothing?
No, what do you have in mind?? If it’s chocolate, I’ll be right over!!

Do you like it saucy or just enjoy a good sauce?
Depending on what “it” is. If it’s food, I prefer sauce.

Have you ever performed the naughty or nauighties in the car, your car, a car, any car?
Sort of, yes – I was 18 working at my first summer job, and my boyfriend was visiting. I was staying at our family’s summer home in northern Wisconsin and I had been driving my grandmother’s car for the summer. We drove down some back roads that wind around the lakes and countryside and stopped in a small clearing, and after the, well, what we did in the car, we couldn’t find the key! Worse is that it had gotten dark by then! We were groping around for it on the ground and since it was just a single key with no key ring or anything attached, it was like finding a needle in a haystack. We were saved by a quirk that some cars had at that time: there were cars you could start without a key – the ignition stuck out a little, and if you could turn it, the engine would start. That’s what I did, so we got back home. (There were no cellphones in those days to call for help, of course.) But I did have to tell my mother about the lost key and my boyfriend’s face turned so red when I made up a lame excuse about what happened. I’m pretty sure my mom figured out what we had been up to!

Have you ever skinny dipped or taken part in naked mud wrestling?
Skinny-dipped, yes. It was in the lake at the abovementioned summer home. My mother skinny dipped every morning, so once I went with her. We went down to the lake with our bathing suits on, and took them off in the water. Before we got out, we squirmed into our wet suits.

Are your more of a sweet or a sour person?
I prefer sweet and sour! (Ether the combination is great, or you never know what you’re getting when you come into contact with me.)

Where would you find the Sea of Tranquility?
On the moon – but it’s not much of a sea, since there’s no water on the moon. Perhaps it’s how the Dead Sea will be a few years from now when it dries up completely. (The Dead Sea’s ratio of salt to water increases every year and it is expected to dry up sooner than previously thought, due to climate change.)

What five items could you buy at a supermarket which would make the cashier give you an uncertain if not just weird look?
Contraceptives – i.e. condoms (which is the only kind of contraceptive you can buy in a supermarket), which would probably cause a stir considering I’m not young anymore. Then stocking up on only the most caloric comfort foods they have – big chocolate donuts, a cake with the inscription “Happy Divorce” (especially coupled with the condoms), lots of chocolate sauce (which has multiple uses), and a case of cheap wine. Those young cashiers have no idea how much fun old people are capable of!

Ok, you have been arrested and no one one knows why – what would your friends think you had done?
They wouldn’t be able to figure it out. I’m not sure even I would know what I had done – I’m such a law-abiding citizen!

Oh dear, for some bizarre reason you find yourself in an insane asylum how can you convince those in charge you don’t belong there?
I’m thinking “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” type of place, right? I’m not sure, but I definitely wouldn’t display my weird quirks like making the strange noises I mentioned in a previous question! Maybe I would sing religious hymns to them, and act very pious.

You have two outfits but only one choice – which do you choose to wear for the day of the following …. skin tight flesh coloured body suit OR a very holey oversized long tee shirt?
Probably the skin tight flesh-colored body suit. At least I could exercise in it. But the holey T-shirt? People in my community might not approve.

What is a whack when used in relationship to the term ‘out of whack?’
Whack would be what is normal, whatever the expected function or action or thought might be.

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.

L-APC Checks and Stripes

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge this week has the topic Checks or Stripes.

Mosques have striped carpets where the worshippers line up to pray. (Cairo, Egypt)
Blinds in a friend’s apartment (Des Plaines, IL)
Stripes on steps (Des Plaines)
Fences are striped. (Chicago Krisha Society)
A fence with both stripes and checks – at The Church of All Nations in Jerusalem
Bottle Tree Ranch near Victorville, California (one of the sites on Route 66)
Seats in ancient amphitheatre in Caesrea Maritima, Israel
Woven striped design on my bottle holder that I bought in Peru
Beautiful inlaid (some of them checked) designs on small tables & other items in Aswan, Egypt
Stripes and Checks in a coloring book (photo modified)

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.

Syrup or Sirup?

In downstate* Illinois, along Route 66, is the little town of Funks Grove, known primarily for its maple syrup (sorry – it’s sirup!). This small place near the beginning (or end, depending on where you start) of Route 66 is a little over two hours’ drive southwest from Chicago, about 146 miles.

Since we started our Route 66 tour in L.A., this place was near the end of our route. It is the subject of my contribution to Becky’s January Square Up Photo Challenge today. This sign inside the little store tells the story of why it’s spelled sirup instead of syrup.


License plate of the owner’s car!

The sirup produced here is pure and there are a variety of selections. We bought a bottle of the original as well as a bottle mixed with brandy! Both were yummy!

*In Illinois, and especially in metro Chicago, “downstate” is everywhere in Illinois that is not in the Chicago metro area! (Even Rockford, which is due west, is considered “downstate.”)