SYW/HP: On Haunted Houses, Crowded Concerts, Bell Bottoms, Cockroaches and More…

I’m ready for another Share Your World Meets Harry Potter! The Harry Potter questions this week are inspired by The Goblet of Fire, but you don’t have to be a Harry Potter fan to answer them. These questions come from another blogger, Roger Shipp, who is collaborating with Melanie and her Share Your World, which are the second set of questions.

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Roger’s Magical, Mystical Questions:

  • Many local regions, especially rural areas where I live, have haunted houses. Have you ever spent the night in a house that was supposedly haunted? Anything ‘strange” happen?
    No, the closest I came was when my son was a little boy and we would take walks together. The route we usually took passed a 2- or 3-story, dark gray house on a large lot. It always seemed dark and that no one lived there. My son had already made up a monster, who plagued his dreams. So I told him that the monster was actually nice and wanted to make friends. Even so, he was spooky and so was that house. That house became the monster’s house!
  • The Quidditch Cup (riding broomsticks while chasing a small ball) was a huge sporting event in the land of Hogwarts. What is the largest sporting event (or concert, etc.) that you have ever attended?
    Not being a sports fan, I doubt the crowds were as big at the Packers games I attended as the concerts I went to.

    The biggest might have been when a friend and I went to see the Beatles in concert – we were in the 104th row of an old stadium in Chicago. From our vantage point, the Beatles were about an inch tall and we couldn’t hear anything they played because most of the girls (including my friend, but she tried to restrain herself for my benefit) were screaming. I think I heard later that the Beatles sometimes just pretended to sing because the screaming was so loud no one could hear them – so why waste their voices?

    The other times there have been huge crowds when I was attending were at Ravinia. Ravinia is an outdoor concert venue with a bandshell and stage in front located in the north suburbs of Chicago. They have a schedule of performers starting in June and ending in September, which they mail out to people. (Needless to say, there wasn’t a schedule this year.) People pay much less to sit on the lawn and it has become popular to bring snacks, wine, tables and chairs (Ravinia also rents these out) and share with one’s friends during the concert. The largest concert I ever attended there was last year, when Ringo Starr and his band were at Ravinia. We tried to go early but the crowd was already so huge that it was hard to find a patch of lawn for our folding chairs. If you wanted to get up for something, you could not help but step in other people’s set-ups. I ran across several friends there while I was walking around – they weren’t together nor did they know each other, and I didn’t know they were at Ravinia that night. I wanted to see Ringo and his band but anytime I lingered near the bandshell, guards shooed me away. At least no one screamed!
This is a fraction of the crowd we could see from our spot on the lawn.

This was the set up of the people next to us.
  • When you go for a swim, do you prefer an ocean, the seaside lakes, or a pool?
    I enjoy the ocean because it is warm, but prefer a bay where the water is calmer. Since I rarely go to a beach, except when on vacation, the rare times that I swim is in a pool. I don’t like it much because afterward my hair smells like chlorine.
  • Ron Weasley received a horrid robe to wear as formal wear to the Christmas dance at Hogwarts. Tell about the most ‘ghastly’ fashion statement that you have ever made.
    It was probably in the late 60s, when everyone (including me) wore inside-out sweatshirts, long strings of beads and huge bell bottoms. But I have to say, I still like bell bottoms better than straight-legged pants!

    Muggle Questions (from Melanie):

What is the last song you sang along to?
I’m not sure – there’s always music in my head, and sometimes it isn’t what I’d like to have repeating ad nauseum, but I think the last one I sang along with the recording was Old Man River a couple of days ago.
What was your scariest nightmare about?
I can’t remember it anymore, but I screamed out loud and it woke both me and Dale up.
What food do you crave most often?
ice cream, cookies, chocolate in general
What’s your grossest bug story?
The grossest and most horrible bug I’ve ever seen is a giant cockroach. Any cockroach, really. They usually appear where I least expect them and they run incredibly fast.

When I lived in northeastern Brazil with my first husband, we had all our personal effects shipped to us, and they arrived in these huge boxes, so we had large cartons sitting around the house for quite awhile. One day I was sitting on the couch in our living room and I heard a scratching noise. I went to look for the source and found a giant cockroach climbing up one of the boxes! These cockroaches lived in the grass in the surrounding area, which is why I never, ever, laid anything on the grass there. We also had a cesspit, and had to get it cleaned out occasionally – of course, that pit was crawling with them. It makes me shiver to think of even now. I thought of downloading a picture from Google and posting it here, but I can’t bear to even look at a picture of those horrible things!!

Thursday Doors: Door Art

Norm’s Thursday Doors is a weekly opportunity to share photos of doors with other door lovers! This week, I’m dipping back into my archives to present doors that are part of, or surrounded by, street art. (Check out my earlier post for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Murals.)

Black Cat Alley, Milwaukee, Wisconsin: This alley near downtown Milwaukee has become a place for street artists to share their art. This mural includes a door to a formerly industrial building.

A converted warehouse complex in Lincoln, Nebraska has become an artists’ co-op, its outside walls decorated by local artists.

Cuba, Missouri is located on the famous Route 66 and a popular stop along the historic road. There are many murals throughout the town, depicting historical events (including the Civil War) and scenes of daily life.

Pontiac, Illinois is one of the first, or last, stops on Route 66 (depending on whether you are taking the historic road west or east), and as such caters to Route 66 tourists. Besides murals, there is a museum/shop containing all kinds of Route 66 memorabilia and you can visit the bus-converted-to-home of possibly Pontiac’s most well-known native son, Bob Waldmire, who traveled the Mother Road and lived in his bus-home for several years in the Arizona desert.

Whether real or painted, a door is still a door!

For mural/graffiti/street art connoisseurs, Beco do Batman (Batman’s Alley) in São Paulo, Brazil is a must-see. “Graffiti artists” have covered this residential neighborhood – walls, streets, doors, windows, anything paintable – with art!

A restaurant entrance near Batman’s Alley
Courtyard gate
Garage door
Garage door/store entrance gates
This is more graffiti than mural art – the entrance in particular is covered in pure graffiti.
More graffiti

Street artists in São Paulo find “canvases” for their artwork in many other places as well. These are found in the vicinity of Ibirapuera Park, a large park with museums, bike paths and other amusements.

CFFC: Murals

For Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge with the topic Murals and GraffitiI have a wealth of photos in my archives, because I love photographing public artwork! I include here a sampling of each location. Note that I have blogged about most of these places before, so there will be some duplicates. 

Tucumcari, New Mexico: A town I had never heard of before has apparently achieved renown due to at least two songs about the town, and a novel set there. It’s a stop on Route 66.

Cuba, Missouri: This small town on Route 66 is famous for its murals, depicting historical scenes and events, and scenes of daily life.  Many are scenes of the Civil War, but I have not included any of those here. Cuba is a “must-see” for any Route 66 trip!

Pontiac, Illinois:  one of the last (or first, depending on which way you go) along Route 66. In Pontiac also is a good-sized museum and store selling all types of Route 66 memorabilia. 

Because of its prominence on Route 66, there are miniature cars all over downtown Lexington, each with a different artist’s painting.
Local historical figures

Black Cat Alley in Milwaukee, Wisconsin is an alley flanked by old industrial buildings, which has been converted into a “canvas” for local mural painters! Located in the downtown area, it is easy to get to and I would recommend it for anyone visiting Milwaukee that has an interest in mural art.

Lincoln, Nebraska is a surprisingly interesting city. I had never been to Nebraska before our 2018 road trip and since we like to visit capital cities, we spent a day there. There is a section of town we discovered by accident while finding our way to a restaurant recommended online. Across the street was an old warehouse converted into an artists’ co-op workshop with interesting art on the outside walls.

Denver, Colorado:  We stayed at a fantastic Airbnb in the artsy part of town. On Tennyson St. (where the first of these photos were taken), they have weekly art fairs during the summer season.

Sidewalk art/graffiti in downtown Denver

Dubuque, Iowa – near the Mississippi River Museum

Des Moines, Iowa

In Amsterdam, Holland we took a private boat tour on the canals and harbor. We discovered several trailers painted in vivid colors.

Brazil is very rich in culture and teeming with artists of all kinds. The more famous ones display their art in galleries and museums. However, the street art is amazing, painted by very talented “graffiti artists.” In the city of São Paulo, there was literally art everywhere – you could barely walk one block without seeing street art.

Ibirapuera Park is a large park in Sao Paulo containing small art museums, walking paths, and refreshment stands. This mural was on the wall outside a public restroom.
On another wall outside the same restrooms
On a street near Ibirapuera Park
Under a bridge near Ibirapuera Park – graffiti art and a homeless person’s possessions

For connoisseurs of “graffiti art” (although most of it is much more beautiful than graffiti), there is a neighborhood in São Paulo called Beco do Batman (Batman’s Alley) – wander its cobblestone streets to see an explosion of beautiful and/or humorous murals and sometimes political statements. The first two photos were taken outside Beco do Batman proper, which is residential – and we needed lunch so these were our view from the small café where we ate.

LAPC 99: The Old and the New

Amy of Lens-Artists invites us this week to show old and new with our photos and stories.

On our last trip to Brazil, we spent our first week staying with friends in the southern city of Curitiba, which has well over 1 million inhabitants. The city has grown a lot since I was last there in 1979! In this photo, the juxtaposition between old and new can be seen in the Centro Histórico (historical center), with Portuguese-style buildings from the 18th and 19th centuries dwarfed by modern skyscrapers.

We then spent about a week in São Paulo. Every Sunday, a major avenue, Avenida Paulista, is closed to motorized traffic; pedestrians and bicyclists have the street to themselves on that day. Being a major street, Avenida Paulista is lined with ultra modern architecture, but there are historical monuments there also, which visitors can explore. At the far end of this avenue is the Casa das Rosas, named for its rose gardens, a Victorian mansion that has become part of Brazil’s historic patrimony. Behind this partial view of the house, a glass blue skyscraper rises high.

In São Paulo’s downtown, old and new live side by side, above and below. These 19th century buildings, which can be admired for their colors nd wrought-iron balconies, now house modern stores on their lower levels.

Two years later, we were in Egypt, where we saw many monuments of its 3500 year old civilization. The Egyptians are both proud of their heritage and dependent economically on tourism. This modern apartment building is decorated with motifs of ancient Egypt.

While visiting the ancient pyramids in Giza, just outside the city of Cairo, we also took in a museum housing a restored ancient boat belonging to one of the first pharaohs. These boats were buried in pits next to the king’s tomb because the ancient Egyptians believed he would need his boat to travel to the afterworld. While the pyramids and the boat are ancient, the hexagonal Giza Solar Boat Museum which houses the ancient boat is quite modern looking on the outside, in contrast with the 3,500 year old pyramid behind it!

We visited the mortuary temple of Hatshepsut, a woman who ruled as pharaoh for nearly 20 years during Egypt’s 18th dynasty. I took this photo of my silly husband with his Nikon camera hanging down over his chest, posing with two Egyptian guards dressed in traditional garb in one of the temple’s sanctuaries.

Every one of the monuments was swarming with cellphone-toting tourists snapping photos.

South of Aswan is the city and monument of Abu Simbel, which is less touristy, because many people do not want to take the two-plus journey there to see the twin temples built by Ramses II. When the Aswan High Dam was built in the 1960s, it caused a lake to form south of the dam, which flooded previously inhabited areas. Because of its historical value, a huge effort was made, before the dam could be built, to remove the ancient monuments that would otherwise end up underwater. Ramses II’s temple and the smaller temple next to it he had built for his beloved wife Nefertari were divided painstakingly into sections and lifted 200 meters higher where a cliff had been carved out for its placement to look at much like the original location as possible. In the old position, Ramses II’s architects had cleverly created an inner chamber in which there were statues of the pharaoh and two gods, which received direct sunlight for 45 minutes on only two days of the year – his birthday and his coronation date – February 22 and October 22. One of the gods, Ptah, remained always in shadow, for he was the god of darkness. When the monuments were raised up to the higher cliff in the 1960s, the sun’s rays no longer illuminated the statues on those two dates, but close – they now shine upon the statues for fewer minutes on Feb. 21 and Oct. 21, only a day earlier.

Several of Egypt’s ancient monuments, including the temples at Abu Simbel, now have a special light show for tourists, which project colorful images onto the outer face of the monuments starting at twilight. As the images are shown, there is narration to accompany them in several languages that you listen to with an earbud attached to a small transmitter. New technology is juxtaposed with ancient buildings by using them as a “movie screen” for the images. During the projection of the images, it is difficult to make out the shapes and features of the statues behind them.

Beginning of the show, just after twilight
These projected images are from photos of actual Egyptian paintings, used to tell the history of this ancient civilization, as well as from photos telling the story of the project to move the monuments to their current location.

In Israel, where we traveled after our tour of Egypt, there are also many ancient places. Much of the original wall of Jerusalem and its gates still exists; millions of tourists and residents enter those gates on a daily basis. Here are some young Israelis dressed in their military uniforms about to enter this ancient gate.

In Gethsemane, there is a garden with ancient olive trees. One of them is exceptionally old – dating from the time of Jesus and is believed to possibly have been a young tree when he leaned against it to pray on the eve of his crucifixion. In order to protect it, a fence now surrounds it.

Finally, while on a boat tour of the canals and harbor of Amsterdam, I took this photo of Amsterdammers in a boat shaped like a Heineken barrel, about to pass under a medieval bridge.

RDP: Dancing, Yeah!

Ragtag Daily Prompt today is Dance.

A Sunday afternoon on Avenida Paulista, São Paulo, Brazil: Ballet and…

…political protest batucada: “Fora Temer” – a protest against the vice president (Temer) who took over for Pres. Dilma Roussef after her arrest.

Panama Canal Cruise – in Mexican town of Tuxtla Chico, Chiapas
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KODAK Digital Still Camera

Panama Canal Cruise on board m/s Veendam: Mexican dancers
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Verde Valley School 70th anniversary: Saturday night dance

On the Hunt for Joy Challenge: Jump for Joy

Cee’s new photo challenge that she puts out every Wednesday is On the Hunt for Joy. This week the topic is Jump for Joy. Cee says that for this topic,
Here are a few ideas to get you going.
Anyone jumping, hopping or skipping
trampoline
exercising for fun
animals who jump or hop
throwing things
Tip from Ingrid Fetell Lee: Jump for Joy: The photographer Philippe Halsman took photos of everyone who was anyone in his day, from Marilyn Monroe to Audrey Hepburn to Richard Nixon, and he always made them jump. He believed that jumping helped people drop their masks and release the joyful self inside. To get the same effect, jump on the bed, bounce on a trampoline, or do jumping jacks.

Exercising for fun:
German teenaged girls doing a dance routine in Würzburg
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Video: Samba on Avenida Paulista in São Paulo, Brazil:

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Beach volleyball on Copacabana Beach, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Little jumping guy – Av. Paulista, São Paulo:

Animals that jump:
Cats jump
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Hazel playing & pouncing

Impalas jump
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One Word Sunday: Feet in Nature and Art

Debbie at Travel With Intent has a weekly photo challenge called One Word Sunday. This week the theme is feet.
Kitty feet!
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Egyptian geese feet
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Camel feet
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My feet – on a beach in Rio de Janeiro
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I’m sad to say…here’s what one of my feet looks like now! 😮
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I’ve actually done several drawings of feet – this is one of them.

20190812_223132 Ballet Feet (c1970)
“Ballet Feet” (circa 1970) – pencil on drawing paper

 

 

 

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Nostalgic

The subject of Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #75 is nostalgic. I feel nostalgic for places that I used to go to, such as our family’s cottage in northern Wisconsin. We sold the cottage in 2015, which had been in my family for 50 years, because it was no longer possible or feasible to manage the place from far away. But for many years, that beautiful place was a relaxing – and inexpensive – vacation.

Dale used to love to fish there, off the pier and in the rowboat. He would stay out there for hours. This photo is from July 2013.
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Our lake had a couple of pairs of loons which nested somewhere across the lake. Their calls echoed over the lake as they communicated with each other and even with loons on nearby lakes. I got to know what each of their distinct calls meant – danger/fear, looking for company, and just “I am here.” It was a treat to see them get relatively close to the shore, so that I could take a photo like this one in July 2014.
a pair of loons! They have been getting so close to the dock.
At the cottage, I always felt close to nature and sometimes I would sit on the screened porch during a thunderstorm, watch the black clouds covering the sky, listen to the falling rain, feel the cool, moist air and smell the earthy freshness that rain brings.
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Another place that I have visited several times is Rio de Janeiro – I always spend at least a few days there every time I go to Brazil. Most of the times I’ve been there, I’ve stayed with in-laws or friends in Leme, at the far end of Copacabana. Just looking at this photo makes me feel nostalgic.
20161123_190534And when I am there, I always insist on taking the cable car up to the top of Sugarloaf in late afternoon, and watch the sun set. And as I look over that beautiful scene – the colors of the sunset and the lights coming on in all the neighborhoods I can see from there – I always get tears in my eyes and promise: I will be back. And so far, I’ve kept that promise, but of course I never know when it will be my last time there. I took both the photo above, of Copacabana Beach looking toward Leme at the far end from the bar at the top of a hotel, and the photo below, at sunset on Sugarloaf, in November 2016, during my last trip there.
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These places I love, and the people, scenery, smells and sounds associated with them, give me what Brazilians call saudade, which is roughly translated to nostalgia, but it is more than that: it is sweet sorrow, it is happiness and sadness, love and longing, all at the same time. You can have saudades even when you are with the people and in the places which invoke it. Because you know that life is fleeting, that the moment you are experiencing is just that – a moment. Saudade reminds you not to take life for granted.

 

Since the end of 2013, Dale and I have had Hazel, our cat, as part of our family. But for 20 years before that, I did not have a cat, primarily because my son had asthma and was allergic to cats, which was sad for me because I love cats. Amazingly, he outgrew both his allergies and his asthma, and anyway, he no longer lives with us, so we were able to welcome a shelter cat into our home at Christmas time that year. Prior to 1993, I had pet cats for much of my life, and I remember them with nostalgic fondness.

From left to right are Kirry (a male Manx, my family’s pet cat during most of my childhood), Joia (1976-1992, a female half-Manx;  I was with my first husband then and she traveled from Los Angeles to Wisconsin to Brazil and back), and Blackfoot (female tabby, 1993 – I had this cat only briefly before having to give her up because my son developed asthma).


I have developed nostalgia (or more accurately, saudade) for all the places I’ve been and the happy times I have spent in them. That is one reason I love photography – the photos I take tell the story of my experiences and invoke memories I would otherwise have forgotten.

Beautiful Sunsets

Dutch Goes the Photo has a Tuesday photo challenge and the topic is sunsets.

Beautiful sunsets are everywhere, but the most beautiful I have seen are when I am traveling – which I guess is logical, because although I do have photos of pretty clouds and sunsets at home, my view is usually obstructed by buildings, trees, and other suburban fixtures. Being in wide open spaces is where I have watched the sun set in awe.

I can never forget the sunsets I’ve seen from Sugarloaf Mountain in Rio de Janeiro – every time I go to Rio, it is a must to go up in the cable car in late afternoon and watch the sunset from up there. On my most recent trip, in Nov. 2016, here was the view as the sun set around 7:00 pm. I am only including one, although I took several beautiful sunset photos that afternoon.
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OK, just one more!
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Another wide open space where I have witnessed many awesome sunsets is at sea, while on cruises. In Oct. 2017, we were on a cruise from Boston to Montreal, so this sunset was over the North Atlantic, off the coast of eastern Canada. I like the different patterns of the clouds in this photo.
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Often when people think of sunsets, they think of Africa, which is famous for amazing sunsets on the open savanna. When we went on safari in Tanzania, I saw this for myself.
This one was taken at Tarangire National Park.
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Here’s another one I took at the southern Serengeti:
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The sunrises in Tanzania were amazing too (we saw many, as we were up very early each day to go on game drives), but this is a post about sunsets!

In France, we drove to Mont-St.-Michel and got there in the late afternoon, so we admired the sunsets and saved our visit to the island for the next day.  I like this photo because of the fence, but the sun set to the west, not over the island of Mont-St.-Michel, which is reached via a long causeway when the tide is low.
20190618_214400Finally, sunset over Jerusalem – we arrived late on a January afternoon, and enjoyed the view of the old city from Mt. Scopus. (This is not the best photo of the city, but it is a pretty sunset.)
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Finally, closer to home, sunset reflected on the Mississippi River north of St. Louis, MO
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A Photo a Week: The Beauty of…

Nancy Merrill’s A Photo a Week challenge this week is Beauty.  This is a difficult one to choose only a few photos, for the Earth is full of beauty, natural and manmade! So I am going to choose some of my favorite “beauties” from my photo collection.

Beauty of a sunset: Rio de Janeiro, from the top of Sugarloaf. Every time I go to Rio, I make time to go to the Sugarloaf late in the afternoon, taking the cable car up to the top. I like to watch the sunset from there, and little by little, the beaches grow dark and lights begin to wink on. And up there, I see this view.
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Beauty of Sedona, Arizona: Everyone nowadays knows about Sedona, right? It’s been “discovered.” But back when I was a teenager, I went to a private high school there with the majestic Cathedral Rock as a backdrop. Few people even knew Sedona existed then. I still think Cathedral, viewed from the campus of Verde Valley School, is the most beautiful sight in Sedona. I took this shot late in the afternoon last June.
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The beauty of a national park. That’s a hard one! I love national parks and find great beauty in all of them. I should post a picture of the Grand Canyon or Yosemite here, but they are iconic. Instead I chose a scene at Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah, which we visited last June. I had always wanted to see it, but never had a chance until last year.
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I have to include one more, which was taken in 2016 at Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska.
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All these beauties are majestic scenery. I appreciate beauty on a macro level also: an animal, a flower, etc. This is a beauty of a flower – the lotus – which is sacred to many cultures. I took this shot last July when the lotus was in full bloom.
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The beauty of a cat (my Hazel, of course!)
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The beauty of a tree in autumn
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I thought of including manmade beauties, but that would take too long – I find beauty in almost everything! Besides, the greatest beauty in the world is the beauty of nature.