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: 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

Sunday Stills: Getting It Straight

Terri Webster Schrandt has a Sunday photo challenge, Sunday Stills. The theme this week is straight.

Apartment building (Woodstock, IL)

Here’s a place I’ve really been missing the last few months – the library! (Des Plaines, IL)

Under these floor tiles, several hundred people were buried during the Middle Ages! (Oude Kerk, Amsterdam)

Bridges: Pegasus Bridge (Normandy, France)

Bridge over a river on the border of Germany and Austria (near Scharding, Austria)

A tall house (Mont St-Michel, France)

Entrance to a graveyard (Merville-Franceville-Plage, France)

A straight and narrow street in Passau, Germany

Ornate fence in front of the World Museum in Vienna, Austria

CFFC: White Is…

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge continues with her color series and this week is WHITE.

Snow white
Flowery white
Bridal white (two weddings)
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Swan white
Architectural white (two styles in Amsterdam)
Somber white (American Cemetery, Omaha Beach, Normandy, France)
DSC00451Leisure white
Lawn ornament white
Prickly white
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Styrofoam white

Friday Fun: Center of the Dead

The Friday Fun challenge has the prompt “dead centre.” I am interpreting this as a “center for the dead.” Where do the dead hang out? In the cemetery (or graveyard), of course! This is a good theme for the recent “All Souls Day” and “Day of the Dead.” While in France last June, I visited a graveyard – which is what it is called if it is next to and associated with a church – in Merville-Franceville-Plage, next to our farmhouse Airbnb. I love to wander around cemeteries and speculate on the inhabitants’ life stories.

The church is no longer in use.20190619_203801.jpg
This plaque is at the entrance to the graveyard.
As I wandered among the graves, I didn’t always notice a connection between war and the people buried there, but their lives may have been touched by war. Probably most were parishioners of this church.

A few, such as the graves of children, are particularly poignant. This nine year old boy died in an aerial bombardment of World War II on April 20, 1944.
Baby Jeanne had less than one month of life. Her grave is well taken care of.

How sad, the abandonment of  Louis Bayard’s grave, an 8-year-old child…

Some of the graves were in a terrible state of abandonment, and were given this placard. I don’t speak French but I was able to figure out enough of it to interpret its meaning. It encourages someone to volunteer to preserve the grave. 20190619_205857.jpg
France being a Catholic country, it is not surprising that many of the graves contain a statue of Jesus on the cross.


This half-buried Jesus appears to be holding up a heavy gravestone.

Some graves were very old…
While many were in bad shape, some were well-tended.


Denise and Maurice Durel enjoyed long life, but she was 15 years a widow. She lived to be over 100 years old!



A well-tended grave next to a neglected one



Flowers continue to bloom on this crumbling grave.


Louise lost her husband when he was only 45, and she lived to age 94!

Lots of the graves have “souvenir” plaques and other items placed on them.

A woman in her 90s, who had the same first and last name, was buried alongside her parents, who died in their 60s. The grave’s in good shape, but some flowers would be nice!

Thursday Doors: On a Farm in Normandy

My brother and sister-in-law use Airbnb a lot when they travel. When they decided to book a place in Normandy, France for a family reunion, they needed a place that could accommodate all of us. They found a charming farmhouse on the edge of Merville-Franceville-Plage, and booked it for two weeks – the house sleeps 16 so the fam had to do a split shift!

We went the first week (June 15-21). After getting lost and finally finding our way there with the help of a local tourist bureau employee (our GPS had no idea!), we immediately fell in love with the place – it was charming!
For Norm’s Thursday Doors this week, I am posting the (rather plain) doors of the environs of our Airbnb in Normandy, France.

The doorway to the patio.
Next to the farmhouse were outbuildings, such as a large barn, whose only use nowadays, as far as I could tell, was storage of bicycles. The barn had several doors which varied in size and shape.
The property also had an old abandoned shack and the ruin of a taller building.

The window of the shack was boarded up.
The door was extremely dilapidated but nevertheless interesting!
One of the landmarks for finding the place was a church with a graveyard at the entrance to the private road. I went all around the church, photographing the doors, all of which were locked – the church apparently is no longer in use.

However, due to its plain style and the fact that it has a rooster at the top of its steeple, I am guessing it was a Protestant church.
The church and many of the graves had a look of abandonment, although some graves were new or well-maintained. (I go crazy taking pictures in graveyards, so I will include those in a later post!) Here are the church and its doors.

I hope you enjoyed “our” corner of Merville-Franceville-Plage!


Fields of Ancestors

Frank at Dutch Goes the Photo has a Tuesday challenge and the theme this week is field.

Last year in May, we took a road trip to the Dakotas. It was our first visit to North Dakota. Fields are ubiquitous in North Dakota – wide fields of planted crops or endless prairie.

Some fields harbor the secrets of the grave, the souls of ancestors. At the Son of Jacob cemetery, in a remote corner of east central North Dakota reached by a long strip of road surrounded by undulating grasses, one can visit scattered graves of Jewish pioneers who settled in this area more than a century ago. Most of their descendants have scattered, too – finding opportunities in larger communities, universities, or even fertile farms. Only the bones of their ancestors remain here, but some of their pioneer soul remains too.
A sign informs the infrequent visitors that this cemetery is built on a native prairie, much like the land the original settlers encountered.

Farther west, in central North Dakota, is the Knife River Indian Villages National Monument. At first, these fields seem completely empty – not even grave markers to indicate people are buried here.KODAK Digital Still Camera
Yet here were villages that harbored a sizeable population of the Awatixa, ancestors of the Hidatsa culture.KODAK Digital Still Camera
KODAK Digital Still Camera
Look closer across these fields with their tall grasses and unceasing winds and notice undulating mounds and large round depressions – these are the traces of a once thriving village, Awatixa Xi’e, full of earth lodges. When their houses collapsed, they left circular mounds and depressions, where hardened floors once were. KODAK Digital Still Camera
KODAK Digital Still Camera
The village was situated next to a river, which allowed the people to become more settled. However, it also exposed them to contact with the agents of change.
2017 Summer&Fall 195.JPGThe Awatixa died from European diseases or were absorbed into the European American economy, but the clues they left behind tell us about their lives.  This is a reconstructed earth lodge.2017 Summer&Fall 187.JPG
The interior of the dwellings looked something like this.

Archaeologists learned a lot by excavating middens, or trash pits. They found bits of pottery, bone tools, flaked stones, and a lot of bison bones. The Awatixa grew corn, a vital part of their sustenance. They built flat boats from which to fish or for transportation. A museum on the site contains artifacts and provides information about the villages in this area. Walking paths lead through the fields where the villages once stood.

The Knife River Indian Villages site is an interesting and informative place to visit for anyone who wishes to learn more about the peoples who came before us. Although only fields are left, the information provided allows the life of the Awatixa to come alive.

WPC: Weathered

WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge this week is Weathered.  Krista says that she looks at “these relics from the past and wonder what they’ve been witness to over the years…They’ve survived decades of sun, wind, rain, storms, and even floods.”

Here are my interpretations of weathered:

My mother on her 96th birthday:
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An old building at The Grove Nature Center, Glenview, IL:

Window of a ruined convent (Antigua, Guatemala):
KODAK Digital Still Camera

Old tombstone at Bonaventure Cemetery, Savannah, GA: