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!

SYW: On Butt Calls, Snowbirding, 5-Second Rule, & Bernie Sanders

Here are Melanie’s Monday weekly Share Your World QUESTIONS:  (an “odd” basket full today)

Have you ever ‘butt dialed” someone?  (‘butt dialed’ means have you ever made a phone call that you weren’t aware of making, because the buttons on the phone got pushed by your sitting on them (in your pocket) OR having something in your handbag press against them?)
Geez, who hasn’t? I’ve gotten them several times too, and it’s usually the person I most recently talked to who stuck their phone in their pocket and some movement dialed my number again.

If you were given 1000 acres of land, what would you do with it?
I can’t even conceive of how much that is. (I’m not good with area measurements.) But let’s say it’s large enough to build a manor house with outbuildings, and a large manicured garden – i.e. an “estate.” I would NOT do this, although I’ve been known to drool over properties I’ve seen on the road or in a magazine.

It depends where it is. If it were somewhere abroad that is beautiful and the kind of place I’d like to visit, I would probably build a modest house with a garage on it, maybe a pool too (depending on the climate in the area), and go there every year to spend several weeks exploring the surroundings and other countries. The rest of the time I would rent it out through Airbnb or something like that.

If it were in a poor country, I would probably donate it to the city or state or country through a reputable organization that would use it for whatever is needed in the community.

If it were in the U.S., I would want it to be in the Southwest, so I could build on it, have a cactus garden, and spend my winters there – I’d become a snowbird!

What’s the funniest thing you’ve seen on-line recently? 
I enjoyed many of the pictures people posted using the Bernie Sanders at the Inauguration meme inserted in them. In fact, I now have a crocheted Bernie, made by a friend, and it sits on my mantle above the fireplace. Maybe I’ll take it out with me and photograph it in various locations.

Have you ever eaten something off the floor?  ‘5 second’ rule applies or not (the ‘5 second rule’ is that if you pick up the dropped food within a set time frame, it’s still ‘clean’ and you can safely eat it)?
Oh, yes, I do that all the time! Imagine wasting a succulent tomato or a piece of the only chocolate chip cookie I allow myself to have each day! Although at the beginning of the pandemic, I was so paranoid that if something dropped on the floor, I would immediately throw it away and sanitize my hands. I also throw it out if I’d given it to the cat and she rejected it after sniffing and maybe licking it. Also, it depends on how clean the kitchen floor is. Needless to say, I don’t pick up liquids (except to clean up).

Thanks to Fandango for this cartoon.

GRATITUDE SECTION (always optional)

Feel free to share your gratitude with everyone in the form of a quote, a thought or an image.
I am grateful today for my family, especially my son, whose birthday is today!

LAPC: The Objects of My Every Day

P.A. Moed is the host for this week’s Lens Artists Photo Challenge: Everyday Objects.

I bought this little metal sculpture of a javelina at a street fair in Tucson, Arizona. Its home is in front of my fireplace. One of my cat’s toys is under her chin right now. (My cat’s favorite toys are balls that she rolls around the house until they get stuck somewhere.)
This is one of my ‘Covid-19 pandemic’ pictures. Our food is delivered to our door every day and often includes either bananas or oranges.
Another ‘Covid-19 pandemic’ picture – we had accumulated several masks and a pair of plastic gloves that had been sitting around forever, so I found a little basket to put the masks in. Now we always know where to find a clean mask!
I originally took this photo for another photo challenge – maybe favorite snacks?
Another pandemic picture from early in the lockdown – our TV set, mounted on the wall, tuned to our community’s closed caption channel which that day was broadcasting a concert by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
An everyday object – a pencil – in an unusual place: stuck in a display of evergreens.

Here’s a gallery of some things I’ve photographed in the past.

On the Hunt for Joy: Pastimes

Cee’s On the Hunt for Joy photo challenge this week has the topic mix play with every day.

Since I am retired, most things I spend time doing are things I like to do. I blog a lot about photography and travel, but not so much on my private pastimes. 

A few years ago, the coloring book craze for adults was big. At the time, I acquired several coloring books, but put them aside for a few years. Now I am doing them again, mainly while “watching” the news – instead of looking at a talking head, I have fun with gel pens, markers and colored pencils! It softens the news for me: things will be okay if I can sit here and color. I prefer designs and patterns rather than actual scenes. 

Shields 6-3-20 (gel pens & markers)
Flower Promenade 1-21-20 (markers)
Triangulation 4-28-20 (gel pens)

I also like to play word games on my cellphone (classic time waster!) I regularly do Wordscapes, Word Stacks and Words With Friends.  I was playing so many Words With Friends games that I decided to limit who I play with to people I actually know. 

Words With Friends – this one is my favorite because I play with other people.

Sunday Writing Prompt: What Nonsense!

Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie has a Sunday Writing Prompt, which today is “Uncontrollable Nonsense.”

Oscar Wilde

Menagerie suggests:

Some potential options

Write a poem or story using a lot of metaphor that sounds like nonsense but has a much deeper meaning.
Write something that is actual nonsense, means nothing.
Write about the day to day nonsense you have to put up with from other people.
Write about an argument or confrontation you had that degenerated into nonsense.
Write about a person who is full of nonsense and drives you crazy.
Write about a romantic situation that completely turned your life upside down and made you feel as if you had lost your mind.

While all of these options are great ones (which I may pursue later), I have always wanted to follow my phone’s suggested words when I am writing a text. I started a series of texts by writing a word, then let the word suggestions (which I picked at random) lead me where they would. Here’s what I came up with:

Where’s your father now, huh man? You know what to expect to spend Friday night at home. Forget about your accident and your future will be a replica of a Nubian.

What about your brother-in-law that was the last one to come over to our church? Why do we need a ride to a hospital where you are going to have a baby?  I thought you could get me involved with this guy and you have to do something else that would get us together for a while.

I’m going to take you out to the airport by the time we come here for the next day or so. Please confirm that the FBI director has been in contact with Europeans and other animals. What would happen if the weather was too bad for me and my pretty face? Always be careful about how many people are definitely candidates for president and then you will need to get to see the gargoyles.


The words in boldface type are the ones I used to get the sentences started. There of course was some choice on my part as to where I let it go, but I always chose from three suggested words and tried to pick words that were first, second, or third at random or which I thought sounded the most bizarre or ridiculous.

The interesting thing about this is that the phone has some of these words (especially the more unusual ones like candidates, Nubian and gargoyles) already in its memory because I have used them in the past, whether in a text, on a Facebook post, etc. Although I don’t use these words in my everyday vocabulary, I’m sure I have used them in Facebook posts during my travels or when I comment about politics. It was quite funny what the suggestions were!

(BTW, I didn’t actually send this text to anyone, but if I had, it would have gone to my husband who already knows I’m crazy!)

SYW: On Broken Hearts, Cellphones, Typing Books, Snakes and Virtual Choirs

It’s Monday! Time for Melanie’s Share Your World!

What can you break even if you don’t touch it? (yes there is a real answer to this. I’ll reveal it in the next week sometime. Still, answer how you would like – no right or wrong answer)
A heart. All it takes is a “Dear John” letter! Or nowadays, just a text saying it’s over. 

What’s the most useful thing you own?


My husband, Dale, is very useful.

The first thing that comes into my head is “my husband.” He’s very useful and I don’t know what I would do without him. But I don’t “own” him.

So I guess I will say my cellphone. Cellphones have become indispensable, because they do so many things that we’ve come to depend on. If something happens to me, I can call someone for help. If I remember something I wanted to tell someone, I can just send them a text, so that they can read the message and answer at their leisure. That way I don’t have to write myself a note to remind me of what I need to tell them. If I want to listen to music, I can go onto YouTube on my phone. When I exercise in the fitness center, I have a dance workout playlist on my phone to keep me going. When I am out for a walk, and I see something photograph-worthy, I can use the camera in my phone – not necessarily the best photo, but I can at least have a photo of that thing.  And sometimes the photos are high quality! If it’s a flower or plant I want to identify, I just go on my Plant Snap app on my phone. I also can go on Facebook to find out what people are talking about. There are a lot of legitimate criticisms of Facebook, but personally, I love it! It really helps me stay connected to people, especially now.

samsung galaxy s7

I’ve never felt the need to update my Samsung Galaxy S7.

When I ask Dale something like, “What’s the weather supposed to be tomorrow?” he answers, “Wouldn’t it be nice if we had a little device we can use to find things out?” He’s telling me, in other words, look it up on your phone!  Sometimes I have a burning desire to find out something, such as how many coronavirus cases there are in Brazil, whether all swan eggs hatch on the same day, or who were the pharaohs in ancient Egypt’s 18th dynasty. You know, important stuff like that even if totally irrelevant to what is happening at the moment! If I’m bored, I have my cellphone I can play games on. I like word games like Wordscapes, Word Stacks, and Words with Friends. I also have jigsaw puzzles, Spider Solitaire and Sudoko. (I could even read my Kindle books on my phone if I wanted to, but I prefer reading on my tablet.) So there’s plenty to keep me occupied – IF my cellphone has enough charge and I can access a charger if necessary!

Finally, my phone has become extra important in this pandemic era. I can attend book groups at the library, church services and coffee hour afterwards, celebrate family members’ birthdays and other get togethers by using Zoom! I don’t feel so isolated when I can at least “see” my family and friends in a long-distance meeting.

(Even so, if all else fails, I always carry a couple of pens and a small pad of paper, just in case I forgot my cellphone or it needs charging. That way I can at least doodle or draw something I see nearby.)

Come to think of it, WHERE did I leave my phone? It probably needs a charge…

What’s The Silliest Reason You’ve Ever Gotten Into A Fight With Someone Over?
I borrowed a typing book (yes, this was in the time when we used typewriters!) from a co-worker. I noticed a lot of scribbling in it, but I thought, who cares. So when I wanted to give the book back, she wasn’t at work, so I left it on her desk. The next time I saw her was in the elevator. She seemed really crabby. I said, “Did you get the typing book back?”
She answered very angrily, “It’s written in.” Written in? Is she talking about the scribbles that were already there?  I said, “That scribbling was already in there.” She said nothing, so I tried to make a joke. “Maybe your little sister or brother got hold of it and scribbled in it.”  She wasn’t amused, but said, “I don’t have a little sister or brother.” Then she exited the elevator very abruptly and walked quickly back to her cubicle. She never talked to me again. Fortunately, she wasn’t more than a friendly acquaintance in the first place, so no loss! Still, it irked me for a long time that she accused me of scribbling in her typing book, when she must have known it was there already.

I’m sure I could come up with a better story than this if I didn’t have such a bad memory. The strange thing is that I even remember this particular incident. It was so unimportant, but somehow it got stamped in my memory!

If You Were A Snake, How Long Would You Want To Be? No, size does not matter.
I’ve always wanted to know what it would be like to slither. So I’d like to be long enough to really experience slithering…through grass, across sand, maybe even in water, or onto a big rock to sun myself.snake
By the way, I would be a harmless grass snake, like the one pictured here. I would want people to like me!

Gratitude and/or uplifting? Please share. We can all use some of those.

The other day, I wrote a post for Fandango’s Who Won the Week challenge about virtual choirs and how I find them uplifting. Their singing makes me grateful for the basic goodness of people.


Note: Photos of Samsung Galaxy S7 and snake are courtesy of Google Images.

86% Totality

On Monday, August 21, 2017, many people across this country were excited to get a look at the solar eclipse.  For the first time in generations, the total eclipse would pass over the continental United States! Some people made pinhole boxes, like we used to in school. Some trekked down to Carbondale or Makanda in southern Illinois to join the crowds viewing the total eclipse – we didn’t go because all rooms were booked, but we vowed to go in 2024, when it will cross southern Illinois again! Some used colanders or their hands to see tiny crescents. A friend in Texas took this shot.
colander eclipse crescents-Amie R

Another friend journeyed down to Cherokee, NC which apparently was also in the path of totality. Before the total eclipse, she took this shot of crescents coming through the openings in a tree canopy.  Then she got a picture of the total eclipse.crescent shadows-Marge Smtih

total eclipse-Marge SmithMy photographer cousin who lives in Wyoming in the path of totality took this excellent picture.DSCN0306

Here in the Chicago area, we had 86% totality, but that didn’t stop anyone from having a good time! I worried about a shortage of eclipse glasses – I looked online but companies were charging hundreds of dollars for them! Luckily, my friend Betty and I went to the Chicago Botanic Garden, which was partnering with the Adler Planetarium to sponsor an eclipse viewing event – we were lucky to find both parking and eclipse glasses, which were being handed out free one pair per family.


Happy me – I got eclipse glasses!!

The grounds at the gardens were crowded with people, who had brought lawn chairs or blankets to sit on (picnics were not allowed). The smell of cooking hamburgers wafted through the air as people stood in line to have lunch before the big event.

We attended a concert by a trio of musicians, one of them the composer of a piece written expressly for the eclipse. In his introduction, the composer said that, although we sometimes feel small, the eclipse lets us feel part of something bigger.


All around the outdoor concert venue, people had set up chairs on the lawn and were getting ready. I heard one woman tell another, just around noon, that the eclipse was starting: “It looks like a cookie with a bite taken out of it!”

A pair of teenage girls and a mother and daughter figure out how to take pictures using their cell phones with the glasses over them. (Not only could looking directly at the sun when not totally eclipsed can damage your eyes, it can damage cell phone cameras as well.)

This guy was ready to take some professional-looking photos. On the right is the rose garden, a waiting crowd getting settled.

Meanwhile, the flowers and plants had a lot to offer in terms of beauty while waiting.

Betty and I finally chose a spot at the edge of a tree, but with a good view. Clouds were gathering and people worried about the eclipse being obscured by a cloud cover.

I settled into a comfortable viewing position, lying down with my head resting on my purse, and holding my eclipse glasses over my regular glasses.20170821_131032

Part of the time, it was clear enough to see the full eclipse, and I managed to take this picture using my cell phone, holding the glasses over the lens, while Betty clicked the button.  At first, I thought it was just a yellow blotch with a reflection of the sun’s rays at the left,
but when I blew it up, I could see it was a perfect crescent!20170821_130602 (2)

Not bad for a cell phone!!

Soon afterward, during the period of 86% totality, a cloud cover began to obscure the sun, but the cool thing about it was that at first it was a thin layer of clouds and you could see the eclipsed sun right through it with your naked eyes!! I tried to take a picture of it but the clouds moved so fast. Still, if you look carefully to the left of the small light patch in the center of the photo below, you can see a faint partial crescent.

After that, the sun completely disappeared behind a thick layer of clouds – we’d gotten to see the best part anyway! So we got up and went to have salads for lunch and then admired some more flowers before going home.

I am keeping the glasses for 2024 – Carbondale or Bust!!


Photo credits:
Amie Rodnick
Margaret Smith
Katherine Murray
Katy Berman, blog author

A day wasted? But an awesome pizza!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

I should have remembered: doing routine errands in Brazil is much more complicated than back home!

We had a couple of pressing priorities today: 1. Replenishing our rapidly dwindling supply of reais, and 2. fixing our phones to be able to make calls within Brazil.  Our host suggested we go to Santa Cruz mall, about a 10-minute walk from the apartment building, where we could take care of both of these things.

Santa Cruz mall was bustling with Christmas excitement, as young long-haired women dressed in mini-skirted Santa outfits handed our blue balloons to everyone who walked by.


Balloons on the ceiling!

Some balloons ended up on the ceiling!

There was a large glittering Christmas tree festooned with shiny balls and bows and a Santa’s Village where the old man himself was taking children – both young and grown up! – onto his knee.  The man in the suit was just as I pictured Santa:  a kindly man with white whiskers and round, wire-framed glasses.

We went to the electronics store, Saraiva, to take care of our phones where we were attended by a tall young employee who bent over backwards to help us, to the point of making me suspicious of him! He took our phones and began clicking here and there and looked things up and I didn’t know what all. I worried later that somehow he stole information from us that he would use in the future…but so far (five months later), nothing has happened!

Here’s what we found out:

Using your cell phone in Brazil:

If you have Sprint as your cell phone carrier, you are in luck! You do not have to buy a SIM card or as the Brazilians call it, “chip” (pronounced “sheepee”). Before you leave the U.S., have your phone “unlocked” and check to see what plan you have. If it’s an international all inclusive plan, you can dial from your phone directly while you are abroad. Start by pressing the zero key on your phone and hold it down until the plus sign (+) comes up. You must do this or it will not work! Then dial the country code (even to dial a Brazilian number, because remember your phone is from the U.S.), city code and number. (Needless to say, we didn’t know that Sprint offered this service until my husband called them later that day.)

These chips are easy to obtain in Brazil and only cost R$16 (as of Nov. 2016) which is R$1 for the actual chip and R$15 for credits that allow you to make fee-based calls. The problem most people run into is that the vendors will ask you for your CPF number (sort of like a Social Security number in Brazil). You may have to rely on the generosity of a Brazilian friend to let you use theirs. When you get the chip, (which generally they will install for you) it will come with its own phone number. That is the phone number assigned to you as long as the chip is installed in your phone. When giving out your phone number, that’s the one you should use.  Having the chip installed in your phone, however, might cause you to lose your Internet service, as it did my husband.

Our next task was to withdraw money from an ATM or currency exchange. Our friendly Saraiva employee took us downstairs to show us where the currency exchange place was. We had no cash, and they would not exchange using a credit card, so we were obliged to return to the apartment to get some, as well as our debit cards…

Left: Church on Rua Domingos de Moraes en route to Santa Cruz mall and metro.
Right: The apartment building where we stayed in São Paulo

Withdrawing money from Brazilian ATMs:

You should use your debit card whenever possible. In Brazil, the ATMs ask for a PIN number for both debit and credit cards. Since as far as we know, we don’t even have PINs for our credit cards, we had to return to the apartment to get my debit card in order to withdraw cash, which wasted about half an hour.  There are also currency exchanges, but the rate of exchange is not favorable, usually R$1-3 per dollar under what it should be.

Because we spent practically the whole day on these errands, there wasn’t time to go downtown as I had planned. We’d have to do that on Monday, and go to Av. Paulista on Sunday, when it was closed to traffic. The weather forecast for Sunday was sunshine and warm temperatures.

That night we went to a sensational pizza place for dinner. Quintal do Braz is famous because of the variety and creativity of its pizzas. The one we ordered and shared had an egg sunny side up and asparagus, among other ingredients! It was also just a short walk from the apartment building.

The pizza was excellent and full of good things, like asparagus and an egg!

The pizza was excellent and full of good things, like asparagus and an egg!

Quintal do Braz ovens

Quintal do Braz ovens

This is sangria, I think...not very good, weak.

This is sangria, I think…not very good, weak.

Quintal do Braz is always crowded. The first night we went, there was a line of people waiting for a table. It was about 8 pm!  One way to find out if a restaurant is good is to see how crowded it is with locals. This popular pizzeria definitely passed the test!