SYW: Cooking (or not), Driving, Saguaro Cacti, & Childhood Memories

Di at Pensitivity 101 is subbing for Melanie’s Share Your World challenge this week.

  1.  When you’re on holiday, do you prefer self catering or a hotel/B&B?
    On road trips, I will pack a cooler with necessities for picnics, such as bread, cheese, fruit, and beverages. But we rarely use them. It’s just easier to go to a restaurant. The last time I remember having a picnic on a road trip was the day we went to Devil’s Tower in eastern Wyoming, five years ago. After visiting the monument, we found a picnic table near the entrance to the park, and I set out our picnic fixings. It was about 6 p.m., and just as we were starting to eat our picnic dinner, it started to rain! We finished our sandwiches quickly, then headed back to the car just in time before it started to pour!
  2.  Do you have a favourite meal you cook for yourself or order when out?
    We live at a senior community, and one reason we moved here was so we wouldn’t have to cook anymore. We get our own breakfast together and for lunch, eat salad or leftovers from dinners the night before in the dining room. In the evening, we eat in the dining room, and I must say the food is usually quite good.

    That said, my husband makes great omelets, customarily on Saturdays, but it could be any day he feels like doing it! The omelet always contains tomatoes, onions, kale (from a friend’s garden), sometimes luncheon meat, and cheese. It might have other veggies, like broccoli. We have freshly squeezed orange juice (this is done at Mariano’s supermarket, we just buy the bottles of it!) and either a bagel, a muffin, or toast. That is the most elaborate meal we cook for ourselves these days!
  3. In the current fuel crisis, have you made a conscious effort not to use the car unless absolutely necessary?
    I think about it sometimes, and I at least drive a Prius (hybrid), but we don’t drive a lot anymore. We are both retired and our regular trips consist of to and from a golf course weekly (my husband, with his Subaru Forester), doctors’ appointments and shopping, usually in neighboring suburbs, and some activities I do with friends in the city we used to live in, which is only five miles from here. It takes several weeks, usually a month, for my gas tank to get low enough to buy gas. I get 50 miles to the gallon, which is better than most cars on the road in the U.S.!

4.  If you were to compare yourself to a plant, what would you be?
I’d be a saguaro cactus. I love these majestic giants and sometimes they have many arms in a variety of positions. They look awkward sometimes, and I can relate!

GRATITUDE:

I am lucky to have a lot of happy memories from my childhood. Please share one from yours.
Most of my friends during childhood lived in my neighborhood in our hometown in southern Wisconsin, so we played together outside when weather permitted. We’d ride our bikes, go to our local beach (a man-made pond with a sandy shore), or play in the woods behind our houses. In the summer, we’d stay out as late as our parents let us – it was perfectly safe then, even after dark. In the winter, we’d go to each others’ houses, but usually ended up at mine. If one of the kids left a scarf or hat at my house, I’d smell it and then I’d know who it belonged to!

CFFC: Everyday Necessities

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week has the theme you make use of every day – ordinary but useful objects.

Necessary meds
My feet – they walk and exercise every day!
New keyboard for my computer
Art supplies – I am making homemade cards.
What’s in my drawer necessities
The obvious and probably most used necessary item in my house!
My husband calls our cat his “sanity saver!”

Lens-Artists: Maximalism vs Minimalism

Lens-Artists’ challenge this week is maximalism/minimalism. As explained in the post, this can mean different things, but reading it made me think of all the ostentatious, Baroque-style churches I have seen in Europe vs the much fewer simple (usually modern) ones.

Note the difference in these two photos that I took of altars at the Jasna Gora Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa in Poland (above-maximalist) and the new church of Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial in Berlin, Germany (below-minimalist).

Each has its own kind of beauty. The first was built in Baroque style, which featured many intricate details and elements, while the second was built in the 1950s and in which the focus is on the many small panes of blue stained glass. Each has a fascinating history. Click on the links above to read about each of them.

Maximalist can mean a view of an entire scene with flowers while its counterpart, minimalist, focuses on one flower.

SYW: Happy Valentine Birthday

It’s Valentine’s Day Monday, so Melanie’s Share Your World questions are all about this day of love.

Which traditional Valentine’s Day  gift would you rather receive: chocolates, flowers, or a card with a personal message?

Flowers with a card and chocolates!

Do you like romantic movies?
Yes, some of them. Actually, my husband is a lot more into rom-coms than I am. He watches the same ones over and over when given the opportunity!

Is Valentine’s Day only about romantic love? Or is it a good occasion to celebrate friendship as well?
It’s both. And actually it’s a day to have a birthday celebration too! (See below)

How do you deal with unwanted romantic attention?
Hahahaha! I wish!!

GRATITUDE SECTION (As always, optional)

Share one or two of your favorite memories of your special loved one if you’d like.
My husband, Dale, has his birthday on Valentine’s Day. Today he had a very special Valentine birthday! In the morning, he presented me with a very LARGE Happy Valentine’s Day bag. In it were two gifts for me for Valentine’s Day as well as a mushy card (he always gets those!). I had not even had the chance to wrap his birthday gift yet, but when I returned home from a book discussion group, he had gone to a doctor’s appointment, so I was able to get his gift ready. But he had a real surprise in store for him! First, he got several cards and phone calls wishing him happy birthday. The doorbell rang and it was one of our friends from our senior community delivering two beautiful cupcakes (they must have been from Mariano’s – this supermarket is known for its elaborately decorated desserts) along with a card from him and his wife! Dale was sheepish!

The cupcakes from Mariano’s!

We had an early dinner reservation because I had arranged for my brother-in-law’s barbershop quartet to come serenade him with a singing Valentine, and it was to be their last singing Valentine of the day! I had to make up an excuse to have dinner so early, so I told Dale I had to go to church for a rehearsal and he didn’t suspect anything. Before the quartet arrived, six of us were settled at our table set for seven. (The 7th was for my sister, who arrived late.) These were all friends or friendly acquaintances of ours, but especially friends of my sister’s. One of the women has a walker and on it she had brought a beautiful bouquet of roses for the table and a box of cookies to share with us, as well as a bottle of wine! So we had quite a celebration, even before my brother-in-law’s singing Valentine arrived! The guys presented him with a red rose (which he left on our table!! 😦 ) and sang three romantic songs, ending with Happy Birthday.

Oh, and I almost forgot – Dale got a call from our son during dinner to wish him happy birthday and they had a long conversation. This was very special because our son never remembers to call us on our birthdays. He has really turned over a new leaf!!

So we had a very memorable and fun celebration. And we still have the cupcakes to enjoy on another day!!

The quartet singing to Dale (who is on the far right of this photo). In the middle is Sally, the woman who brought the wine, cookies and flowers for the table. On the far left is my sister Mary.
The quartet poses with Dale, with the rose in his mouth! My brother-in-law Elmer is on the left, wearing a black mask.

Here is a barbershop quartet (not Elmer’s!) singing Let Me Call You Sweetheart, a standard for singing valentines.

CFFC: Blue Is My World

Cee ends her color series for her Fun Foto Challenge this week, with the color blue.

Sky and clouds at sunset, Arlington Heights, IL
Glass art at the Moorings, Arlington Heights, IL
Still life: Produce in a blue bowl – I took this photo to use as a model for a still life painting I plan to do.
Dale playing games on his cellphone, March 2020
Bundled up and masked, February 2020
Immersive Van Gogh exhibit, Chicago: Starry Night

Monday Window: The Summer of Frida

The Summer of Frida is my theme for this week’s Monday Window hosted by Ludwig Keck. People in the Chicago area – especially in the suburbs of Glen Ellyn and Wheaton – are going gaga over Frida Kahlo, the Mexican artist who painted a variety of subjects reflecting her experience and Mexican culture, as well as many self-portraits meant to portray her own thoughts and feelings.

“Frida in New York” (1946), photo by Nicholas Muray

At the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, the theatre on campus built a brand new gallery in 2018-19 specifically to house an exhibit of 26 Frida Kahlo works borrowed from the Dolores Olmedo Museum in Mexico City. After negotiating with the museum for the exhibit, they planned for it to take place in the summer of 2020.

We all know what happened in 2020 – Covid-19 – so the exhibit was postponed, and opened with great success and fanfare on June 5, 2021. It will run until early September.

Dale next to the “2021” that is painted in Mexican style at the museum. If you look carefully, you can see that the style and colors of the painting on the numeral 1 are different from the other digits – that’s because the original number was “2020” and they had to get a different artist to paint the number 1.

The exhibit is expected to draw large crowds, so one must buy tickets online with a specific date and time for entry. Already reservations have come in from 48 states and 6 other countries! Not wanting to lose the opportunity to capitalize on this event, the suburban communities of Glen Ellyn and its neighbor, Wheaton, have decorated their downtown areas with festive “papel picado” (colorful banners of crepe paper with designs cut in them), large pots of colorful flowers (Frida Kahlo loved flowers, which figure prominently in her work) and by painting images of the artist on the windows of stores and restaurants.

This downtown Wheaton street is blocked off to traffic and tents have been erected to have outside seating for several restaurants. We didn’t eat outside because the weather was too hot! Note the colorful flower pots and “papel picado” crepe paper banners.

I have a good friend who lives in Wheaton and is a Spanish professor at the college, so after we toured the exhibit, we went to downtown Wheaton for lunch, where we saw several of these windows.

My friend Sandy and her husband taking a selfie in front of one of the windows.
This pizzeria is across the street from the restaurant where we had lunch.

Frida Kahlo was born in Coyoacan, Mexico in 1907 to a German father and a Mexican mother. Her father was a photographer, so there are many photos of Frida and her family. At school, she was studying the prerequisites for medical school but in 1926, on her way home from school, the bus she was riding in was in a serious accident when it collided with another vehicle.

Frida’s drawing of the accident

Frida was thrown to the ground and suffered serious injuries from which she never fully recovered, in spite of having several surgeries. While in a body cast, she began to paint on it, thus initiating her career as an artist.

A replica of one of Frida’s body casts that she painted on.

She broke her pelvic bone, and fractured her back in three places, the result of which she was almost always in pain, and was not able to birth a child.

At the age of 20, she married the famous muralist Diego Rivera, and spent time in New York, San Francisco, and Detroit, where he had commissions to paint murals. Diego said of Frida that she was a better painter than he was! Anyone who sees the beauty of her subjects, and the intricate details and symbolism in her paintings would tend to agree!

Coincidentally, there’s a new biography out by Celia Stahr, called Frida in America. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in knowing more about Frida Kahlo and her work. Several of her works, mainly those painted while she lived in the United States, are featured in the book.

CFFC: Old vs New

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge has a great topic this week: Old vs New. In keeping with Cee’s order, the old is on the left, new is on the right.

People

Flowers: Black-eyed susans

Cats: my grandcats

Tall man-made structures (ancient Egypt, modern Chicago)

Pink vehicles

Big churches (Cologne Cathedral, Moody Bible Church)

Art (Rembrandt, Warhol)

SYW: Money vs Love, Music, & Mythical Animals

Yesterday was Monday, and Melanie has posted a new set of Share Your World questions.

QUESTIONS: 

Which would you rather throw away: Love or Money?
Money, of course. This was the theme of the Beatles’ song Can’t Buy Me Love.

Do you believe you should do one thing a day that scares you?
No, what an odd question. Why should I do something I’m scared of every day? I’m retired and enjoying life. Scary moments will happen, no doubt, but I’m not going to put myself into a position to be scared voluntarily.

What’s the last thing you do at night?
Read. I sit in bed in my nightwear and read a little or a lot from the book I keep next to my bed. Whether it’s a little or a lot depends on how tired I am and how engaging the book is.

If you could own a mythical creature (unicorn, phoenix, etc.), which one would you pick? (A nod to the soon ending 2021 A-Z Blogging Challenge, my topic this year “Mythical Creatures”) 
I would choose either a unicorn or a phoenix, because I could ride on either one. The phoenix would take me soaring through the sky; the unicorn would gallop through meadows, fields of flowers and on the beach. All along the way, I would take stops to pick a flower or feel the water on the beach between my toes.

On the other hand, SOME people prefer dragons.


GRATITUDE SECTION (Always Optional)

I am grateful for my husband, Dale, who has been so good to me the last few days! I injured my left big toe last week, and he said I should get it x-rayed because it hurt so much. Then it started to get swollen and even more painful so on Sunday he took me to an immediate care clinic, where they x-rayed my foot and found I had a fracture! So now I am hobbling around in one of those special shoes you get from doctors’ offices when you hurt your foot, and I have to wear it for six weeks, and keep my toe “buddy bandaged” with the toe next to it. Dale has patiently driven me to places I normally walk to, he changed the bandage after my shower this morning, and he sewed a button on a shirt I wanted to wear. (He can sew, I can’t or won’t.) Yesterday I had to have my heart defibrillator replaced because the battery drained very fast – it shouldn’t have had to be replaced for at least 6 more months. The procedure was excruciating because they didn’t sedate me completely so I could feel some of the pain from cutting me open. Afterwards, they gave me Fentanyl for pain, but then gave me an even stronger pain killer called Norco. Just as it was taking effect, I was discharged! I could barely walk and since my stomach was empty, I threw up multiple times. I was given some graham crackers, but I threw those up too. When I got home, Dale helped me to the front door, and right in front of the door I threw up again! He helped me go to bed and while I slept he cleaned up the mess. Then he served me chicken noodle soup and toast. What a guy!

He has health issues of his own, and I am patient with him, but not like he is to me. I am lucky to have met and married him 26 years ago!

Month of Love #21-22

Getting into the groove again with Paula’s Month of Love. Although I must say, I’m glad February is a short month, because I’m running out of things I love, mainly because my categories were too general in the beginning. But today is a special one..

Feb. 21: I love…photography, although I am not very good at it. I belong to a photography club here at our community, along with Dale, who is a better photographer than I am, but he doesn’t do much with his photos. My love for photography started when I was in junior high school. I had a Brownie camera and took lots of photos of my friends doing goofy things. I had enough to fill an album! Part of the fun of photography, for me, is making photo albums and scrapbooks. When I got to high school, I met a guy that was a serious photographer (he rarely went anywhere without a camera around his neck), and we became friends (and eventually more than friends, but I digress…). My school had a darkroom and this friend taught me how to develop my own photos. By that time, I had purchased a better camera – an Olympus SLR and did mostly black & white photography because that was what I learned to do in the darkroom. We never used color in those days. B&W was considered appropriate for “serious” photographers. I only bought rolls of black & white film, usually the one that had the most photos, which I think was 36. Then I would close myself in the darkroom to first develop the film, and then the photos.

I took this photo in high school and developed it myself.

In college, I was able to mount a small darkroom in the small bathroom of a two-bedroom/2-bathroom apartment I was renting with friends. I didn’t have enough room for film developing, so I took my film to a camera shop, where they developed the film. Then I processed the photos in my tiny darkroom.

After that, I stopped doing my own film and photo processing and began to shoot mostly color. I put many photos in scrapbooks/photo albums. Many of them deteriorated over the years, which is a shame. Now there are companies that sell high quality photo albums with non-acid paper. Meanwhile, I’m scanning the old ones.

In late 2006, my Fuji SLR stopped working and I graduated to digital. Dale had been using a digital camera for three years already, and he took photography classes, which were mostly about how to use Photoshop software.

I am proud of some of my photographs and if I were to get fancy photography software, they would probably look even better! I keep telling myself I will someday. Now, however, I have two cameras – a Sony alpha 68 with a detachable telephoto lens and my cellphone, which is often enough. When I travel, I take both cameras, but on occasion I leave my Sony behind in the room wherever we are staying, because I’m sick of carrying it. It is actually astonishing how high quality the cameras are in top-of-the-line cellphones these days. We recently purchased small Zoom lenses to attach to our cellphones. Still, for fine photography, I still prefer my Sony, so I can take photos like this:

On safari in Tanzania: A mother cheetah chases her cub – they were wrestling until Mom had enough and chased her cub (which is exactly what he wanted her to do)!

Feb. 22: I love…my son, Jayme, whose birthday is today! He is 36 years old and has had – and continues to have – many problems in his life due to mental illness. However, he is good-looking, kind, intelligent, and creative. He writes poetry, and after our trip to France in 2019, I gave him my old camera because the photos he took on the trip were fantastic! He has good observation skills and an good eye for how to frame his photos. He loves music and movies and has an eclectic taste.

Here’s a gallery of his life: clockwise from upper left: age 2; kindergarten picture; age 8 or 9, with his cousin Eric and a doe; 8th grade picture; at his sister’s wedding 2019; high school sophomore year picture