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)

Square Up: Abandoned

There were some buildings in downtown Des Plaines that were going to be demolished in order to build a new mixed-use complex. I snapped a few photos of these boarded up and locked up buildings.

Vacant buildings, once someone’s home or workplace…

…now abandoned.

Once a thriving community of monks and pilgrims in Egypt, now bricked up.

This is day 15 of Becky’s January Square Up challenge.

Square Up: Old Houses

Dale and I are getting ready to sell our house. We moved to a retirement community in August of 2019, and shortly afterward our daughter and son-in-law moved into our house. They have been renting, but are now ready to buy it. They have done a lot to fix the house UP. Part of this was transforming the rooms with their own décor, but there have been some plumbing problems, too, because it’s an old house. (Guess who had to pay for the plumbing upgrades???)

You might say our old house, built in 1924, is a fixer-UPper, and I have no doubt that if we had tried to sell the house on the market, we would probably have to do a lot more renovations than we are getting away with. So, in honor of old houses that are worth saving, my contribution to Becky’s Square Up challenge today is fixer-uppers.

If the people who live in these houses were trying to sell them, they would be considered fixer-uppers!

This house has been continuously occupied as long as we lived in our old neighborhood in Des Plaines, but it has grown battered over the years – definitely a fixer-upper!
Unfortunately, I only have a photo of the doorway of 804, because I was taking pictures of doors decorated for Halloween at the time, but you get the idea!
Obviously (or hopefully!), no one lives in this house. Is this a fixer-upper or is it a lost cause? It looks as though someone has already begun to tear it down.
Many Dutch live in houseboats along Amsterdam’s many canals. I’d say this boathouse is a fixer-upper, but it looks like someone lives there – perhaps they’ve fixed it up better inside!

Below is another photo of this houseboat, which I couldn’t make square.

All I can say is, if the resident of this houseboat ever tries to sell it, (s)he will have to work on fixing up the exterior as well!

Upstairs Downstairs

Years ago, there was a popular Masterpiece Theatre series called Upstairs, Downstairs, examining the lives of the British upper class (who lived upstairs) and their servants (who lived downstairs). The popularity of that series inspired more recent series on this subject, including Downton Abbey.

From the Vault: 'Upstairs Downstairs' Was The Original 'Downton Abbey' |  Tellyspotting
Principal cast of the 1971 British series Upstairs, Downstairs

Those of us who had young children in the 1970s or later cannot have been completely ignorant of the popular children’s series Sesame Street. There was a silly series called “Monsterpiece Theatre” with a sketch entitled “Upstairs, Downstairs.” It showed the Muppet Grover climbing a staircase while a deep voice intoned, “Upstairs…” and as he went back down again said, “…Downstairs.” I think Sesame Street was made to appeal to parents as well as their children. Many of its sketches and songs have stuck in my mind to this day – and now my son is 35!

A similar sketch, in which Grover and Kermit discuss opposites up and down.

So even now, when I think about staircases, I can hear that voice in my mind, proclaiming in a serious, deep voice, “Upstairs…downstairs.”

So for Becky’s January Square photo challenge with the topic UP, here are some squares of stairs (hey, that rhymes!) going up.

Carol’s Cheerful Selfie Challenge #1

Carol Carlisle at Light Words has started a new challenge – posting selfies! This is how she introduced the challenge:

CCSC is an opportunity to share a photograph you have taken, that you were in somewhere. Maybe even by accident, or intentional. There are all kinds of selfies, the simplest is getting in the way of the camera. I’ve given up trying to get out of the way when attempting a window photograph.  Of course there’s where your toes get in the way.

Anything Counts as a Selfie as long as you’re the one holding the camera. Some examples of Selfies and why you take them:

  1. A photo of you doing something special. Boy I’m proud
  2. Creating a memory. I was here doing this…
  3. A photo of you in a mirror ( hair cut, new hat, should I get this dress?
  4. An image where you only catch part of yourself (my toes get in flower shots more then I want.) sometimes it’s cute
  5. Photo with you and one other person even a whole group of friends (screen shots of zoom groups count )
  6. Just your finger pointing something out.
  7. An I.D. Picture
  8. Selfie from archives are welcomed

The Prime Directive is HAVE FUN.

I am including an example of three types of selfies. The first is the “partial leg selfie.”

Accompanying my leg is my grandcat Freddy, June 2020

The next could be called “in a mirror darkly.” This was completely unintentional, but I kind of like how it turned out!

At an exhibit of artwork by Parisian art students,, Musee d’Orsay, Paris, June 2019

Finally, a “full face” selfie – this is my favorite selfie!

Standing in front of the Mediterranean Sea at Caesarea Maritima, Israel, January 2019

CFFC: Dead or Wilting Flowers and Leaves

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week is photos of dead or wilting flowers and/or leaves.

We needed to get some raking done!
Wilted orchid
Hydrangeas that were once blooming in white turn green and brown as they die in the fall, without losing their shape!
Flowers gone to seed
These flowers have seen better days!
Sunflower sans petals
This leaf isn’t dead or wilting, but it soon will die because it has been ravaged by Japanese beetles (they are particularly ferocious this year), creating this “lattice” pattern.

FDDA: I Scream…

Fandango has a special challenge for the month of August called Fandango’s Dog Days of August. Every day this month, he posts a theme to get our creative juices flowing! Today’s topic is “favorite food.” I know I’ve written about this before, but I don’t think I’ve had the opportunity to really extrapolate about my favorite food, which is…

ice cream!

My favorite food is ice cream. It’s part of why summer is my favorite season. I actually have more than one favorite food – I could name a favorite in each food category but right now I’m staying with ice cream.

This ice cream dessert is called “schaum torte” – the ice cream sits on a meringue, and there’s both hot chocolate sauce and strawberries to put on top.

My favorite flavor of ice cream is peppermint. The problem (if you can call it that!) is that peppermint is often associated with Christmas, so it’s sometimes hard to find peppermint ice cream in the summer. I sometimes eat ice cream in the winter, but not very often.  Ideally, the peppermint ice cream should have hot fudge sauce on top. Skip the cherry and whipped cream, just hot fudge sauce please!  And then, if available, I like to put some kind of embellishment on top, such as sprinkles, m&m’s, little bits of brownie – in fact, if the ice cream is ON TOP of a brownie, that’s even better! Because next to ice cream, brownies are my favorite dessert! 

We used to have a restaurant in our area, called Baker’s Square, that specialized in pie.

It's been a slice: Patrons bid farewell to La Grange Bakers Square ...

But on their menu, they had brownie with ice cream on top listed in their dessert menu.  So I would ask for that – I didn’t really expect peppermint ice cream, vanilla was okay – and would ask for fudge sauce on top if possible.  When the waitress brought it to the table, it was really yummy because the brownie was WARM, as if it had just come out of the oven! Too bad they closed their restaurants around here, because nowhere else serves brownie with ice cream on top quite the way they did.

But I digress…back to ice cream!  While I do prefer peppermint, I like a lot of other flavors, too – chocolate, coffee, fudge swirl, mint with chocolate chips, you name it. One thing I do NOT like in ice cream is peanuts or peanut butter! I hate peanuts and I don’t like peanut butter used as a sweet – save it for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches!

I also find sorbet very refreshing in the summer, as well as frozen yogurt. These are usually considered “healthier” options – less calories, anyway – than regular ice cream. Anyway, I lump all three together as “ice cream” when referring to my favorite food.

Ralphs - Halo Top Mint Chocolate Chip Light Ice Cream, 1 pt
This entire pint is only 330 calories!

There is a relatively new brand of ice cream called Halo Top, which is sold in pints with the number of calories shown on the side in large numerals. So if it says “360” (but some are lower than that), that’s 360 calories for the entire pint! Of course, I never eat it all at once so I know the calories aren’t too high. Admittedly, Halo Top is not as good as Ben & Jerry’s, but that’s something I have sometimes been willing to sacrifice in order to “have my ice cream and eat it too!”

Here at our senior community, when we were eating in the dining room, ice cream was always one of the dessert options, and they often had several flavors. When the waiter would come by to tell us about the desserts, all conversation ceased as we listened to the ice cream flavor choices! Occasionally they would have one of two very popular options – Roadrunner Raspberry or Peppermint Bark Moose Tracks (the moose tracks being chunks of chocolate mixed in). I don’t know how prevalent this last flavor would be in the summer – we moved here in the middle of August last year, so my 6 months of eating in the dining room (until the pandemic hit and we had to lock down) hasn’t been enough to know if peppermint bark moose tracks is strictly a winter flavor. Anyway, ice cream is rarely a choice of dessert now that our food is being delivered to our house, and when it is offered, it’s always vanilla.

Raspberry Roadrunner (it’s made by Hershey’s) is also a delicious flavor and I wish I had real hot fudge sauce to put on it. Sometimes it’s available for purchase at our Mini Mart, which is still open on weekdays.

The best hot fudge sauce was made at a place that had a restaurant, bar, sweet shop and boat dock, called Bosacki’s, in Minocqua, Wisconsin. 

Bosacki\'s Boat house, Minocqua Wi, Dining Boat Rentals

We had a cottage about five miles from there and I worked there one summer (in the kitchen), so their fudge and hot fudge sauce was a real treat – they would give you the ice cream in a bowl and serve it with a tiny pitcher of freshly-made hot fudge sauce! It was their “secret recipe” – also used in making their delicious fudge – so when they went out of business, that flavor experience was lost to me forever! However, one of the Bosacki siblings, Cathy, opened her own sweet shop where she sold the famous fudge, as well as jars of fudge sauce, but since we sold our cottage, I never go up there anymore.

But again, back to ice cream! Ice cream is a wonderful treat to have when we are traveling, because other countries have different flavors and after an exhausting day of sightseeing, it’s just the thing to recharge my energy!

Ice cream flavors at a shop in Mont St-Michel, France

In 2010, Dale and I went to Spain for a month under a study abroad program run by a local community college. We spent the mornings in Spanish classes and in the afternoon, we either had group sightseeing trips, or we explored on our own. We stayed at a dorm near downtown Madrid, so we walked everywhere. It didn’t seem like a long walk to the Prado and Reina Sofia art museums, for example, and en route we would cross plazas surrounded by colonial buildings and traverse narrow alleys, so there was always something to see. Being summer, the temperature in Madrid was always hot so people didn’t go out in the middle of the day – that’s siesta time, so we usually would wait until mid afternoon to go exploring.  To this day, if I were to go to Madrid, I would know exactly how to find the gelato place on the Gran Via! After walking around for hours, we’d be on our way back to the dorm and at some point I would be so exhausted, I couldn’t go a step further…and what do you know, that point was at the gelatería! After a soothing, cool ice cream sundae sitting outside under an umbrella, my energy would return and I could make it back home! (By the way, Madrid also has some excellent chocolaterías, where you get hot liquid chocolate to dip churros in, which are kind of like an elongated doughnut.)

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream! That’s what we used to say as kids in my family, and in late spring, we would begin hearing the tinkling of the ice cream truck as it meandered the residential streets of our neighborhood. Occasionally Mom or Dad would give us a quarter or fifty cents to buy something from the ice cream truck – what a treat! That incessant tinkling melody always takes me back to summertime in Janesville, Wisconsin. This is the one we always heard then:

But when I lived in Des Plaines, we would usually hear this one:

Here’s another saying: Whenever we were begging for a favor, we’d embellish our “please:”

Pretty please?
Pretty please with sugar on top?  
Which I changed to –
Pretty please with ice cream on top?
Pretty please with ice cream and chocolate sauce on top?
Pretty please with a hot fudge sundae covered with sprinkles and whipped cream?
Pretty please with a hot fudge sundae with sprinkles, whipped cream, and a cherry?
…and so on.

Well, I’d better end this because I just remembered that I have a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Boom chocalatta! cookie core ice cream in the freezer! *Smack!* OHHHH, so good!