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!!

FPQ #108: Do We Need a Special Day to Celebrate Love?

FPQ

Fandango’s intro to this week’s Provocative Question: Valentine’s Day is just four days from today. This coming Sunday is a day that people in love all around the globe — well, okay, in the United States, for sure — celebrate love and romance. So my perhaps not so provocative question this week is all about Valentine’s Day, how you feel about it and how you plan to celebrate the day.

Here’s my question….

How do you feel about Valentine’s Day? Do you consider it to be a special day, one where you express your deep love and appreciation for your significant other? Or is it just a commercialized “Hallmark Holiday” where you feel pressured to spend money on cards, flowers, candy, jewelry, and/or expensive dinners in order to stay on the good side of the one you love? Either way, what, if anything, are your plans for Valentine’s Day this year?

I do believe in Valentine’s Day as a way to celebrate our love for others. Some people need to be reminded to remember loved ones or to say “I love you.” Those who don’t express themselves well verbally can get a card and a small gift. My husband, Dale, used to get me flowers every year.

Actually, Valentine’s Day isn’t like other “Hallmark holidays” – it has a long history, although the facts are a little uncertain. One story says that Valentine was a priest during the Roman Empire. Emperor Claudius II forbade young men from getting married because he thought unmarried men made better soldiers. The priest thought this was unjust and continued to marry young lovers in secret. He became a martyr (either this priest or another religious figure, the Bishop of Terni) when he was imprisoned for performing these secret marriages. He was held in the home of a noble, and there he healed the noble’s daughter of blindness, which caused him to be considered a saint. Before he was tortured and put to death on February 14, he sent the girl a note signed, “Your Valentine.”

St. Valentine – downloaded from Google Images

Whatever the story or legend, Valentine’s Day began to be associated with love during the Middle Ages, and St. Valentine became one of the most popular saints in Europe. When selecting a date to celebrate this saint, some believe Feb. 14 (originally Feb. 15) was deliberately chosen to correspond to the pagan holiday of Lupercalia, celebrating the Roman fertility god, Lupercus. Unlike Valentine’s Day, however, Lupercalia was a bloody, violent, and sexually-charged celebration of animal sacrifice, random matchmaking and coupling to ward off evil spirits and appease the god of fertility. To learn more about St. Valentine and Lupercalia, go to the History Channel’s website page about the history of Valentine’s Day.

There are what I would call Hallmark holidays (like “Sweethearts’ Day” and “Grandparents’ Day”), but Valentine’s Day is not one of them.

However, I have a special reason to “believe in” Valentine’s Day as a special day – it’s Dale’s birthday! So I have a special valentine all of my own!!

Dale and me in Amsterdam, January 2018

It’s not necessarily fun to have a spouse with a birthday on a special day like Valentine’s Day. It’s hard to get restaurant reservations for that special birthday dinner, and some places have special menus and the cost is higher! If you’re like me, who tends to forget to do things until the last minute, you’re out of luck calling around to get reservations on the actual day of Valentine’s Day. I look for that special combo Valentine’s Day birthday card, and I can usually find one or two. But generally, I give him two different cards and a gift more appropriate for his birthday than the token gift I would give for Valentine’s Day.

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A popular Valentine’s Day gift is candy. Especially if you are a woman looking for something to give your spouse or boyfriend, candy is usually the default. But neither Dale nor I need to have such temptations in the house! I could get flowers for him – after all, why shouldn’t a woman get flowers for a man? Men like flowers, too, at least most of them seem to. But if I got him flowers and he decided to surprise me in the same way (since candy is a no-no), we’d have too many flowers and it would seem more like an even exchange than something special. I think this is why neither of us bothers to buy the other one Valentine’s Day gifts anymore. I have to find a gift for him anyway.

It used to be a double whammy when I was teaching, because invariably there would be a Valentine’s Day party for the kids, and parents would bring in all kinds of goodies that I generally found irresistible. That would be after hustling the night before to sign a Valentine’s Day card for each student from the packs of 10 or 12 that I’d bought at a store. I didn’t usually worry about providing treats, because parents usually did that, but I generally would get at least a bag of candy so I could give one or two pieces to each child along with the card.

Then after the festivities at school, I’d go home and…there’d be candy or possibly a birthday cake. Fortunately, I am not teaching anymore, and being retired, it’s our job to sit back and let the kids do special things for us! In fact, our daughter has already warned us that she plans to make her dad a cake this year, which she hasn’t done the last few years. (But she’s all domesticated now that she’s married – she or her husband often cook special dishes for us.) That said, instead of being able to get together and share it, she’ll probably have to drop it off over the fence of our complex and we’ll be stuck eating the whole thing! I shouldn’t complain – everything she cooks is great and often quite innovative, but I seem to be in a perpetual struggle to lose weight!

My brother-in-law celebrates Valentine’s Day every year by performing “Singing Valentines” with his barbershop quartet. I don’t know if they will do it this year, but I will miss seeing it in our community dining room (which is closed due to Covid). Anyway, it’s a great surprise gift for someone’s special sweetheart and the group earns quite a bit of money that day!

Whatever the case, although we should celebrate love every day, I think it is a wonderful thing in these always challenging times to have at least one day called Valentine’s Day.

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Song Lyrics Sunday: Spices

Jim Adams’ topic for this week’s Song Lyrics Sunday is spices/seasonings.

Thanks you, Jim! I get to report about one of my favorite songs as well as many of my favorite spices which are in the song!

I grew up with the Beatles, Rolling Stones, the Doors, and Simon and Garfunkel. While I love many of the latter’s songs, my favorite is Scarborough Fair/Canticle. It conjures up memories, emotions, places – it gives me goosebumps! I like the juxtaposition of the two songs and how they work so well together.

Lyrics:

Are you going to Scarborough Fair? Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme.
Remember me to one who lives there, she once was a true love of mine.

Tell her to make me a cambric shirt (On the side of a hill in the deep forest green).
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme (Tracing a sparrow on snow-crested ground).
Without no seams nor needlework (Blankets and bedclothes the child of the mountain).
Then she’ll be a true love of mine (Sleeps unaware of the clarion call).

Tell her to find me an acre of land (On the side of a hill, a sprinkling of leaves).
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme (Washes the ground with so many tears).
Between the salt water and the sea strand (A soldier cleans and polishes a gun).
Then she’ll be a true love of mine. (Sleeps unaware of the clarion call).

Tell her to reap it in a sickle of leather (War bellows, blazing in scarlet battalions).
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme (Generals order their soldiers to kill).
And to gather it all in a bunch of heather (And to fight for a cause they’ve long ago forgotten).
Then she’ll be a true love of mine.

Are you going to Scarborough Fair? Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme.
Remember me to one who lives there, she once was a true love of mine.

Known by its refrain of spices “parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme,” Scarborough Fair is actually a traditional English ballad dating from the 18th century. Its based on an old Scottish folk song The Elfin King. It was performed or recorded by a number of musicians, including British folk song collector and singer A.L. Lloyd in 1955 on his album The English and Scottish Popular Ballads. Paul Simon learned it from Martin Carthy, an English folksinger, in 1965. Carthy had learned the melody from a songbook by Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger and included it in his 1965 album Martin Carthy. Also, Bob Dylan borrowed some of the melody and lyrics from Carthy’s version for his song Girl From the North Country, which appeared on four of his albums.

Canticle is a reworking of the lyrics of an anti-war song called The Side of a Hill, written by Simon, and set to a new melody by his partner, Art Garfunkel. They then brilliantly weave the two songs together.

Scarborough Fair/Canticle was the lead track on Simon and Garfunkel’s 1966 album Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme and was released as a single after appearing on the soundtrack to the movie The Graduate. The copyright for the song was listed on the album only as Paul Simon & Art Garfunkel, which was resented by Carthy, who thought the “traditional” source should have been credited. The rift remained until 2000, when Simon invited Carthy to perform a duet with him at a concert in London. Simon performed the song with the Muppets when he was guest star on The Muppets Show.

For more details about the history of Scarborough Fair, see the Wikipedia article of the same name.
For a discussion of the musical structure of Scarborough Fair/Canticle and its place in popular music of the 1960s, see William Hume’s 2018 article.

RDP: Nations of Allies

The Ragtag Daily Prompt today (1/25/20) is nation.

The blogger, Marilyn Armstrong, who wrote about the state of our nation said it much the same way as I would, so I won’t repeat the sentiment, but instead provide a link to her blog.

For my contribution, I remember more valiant days in our history.  I am posting photos I took at Arromanches, France, at the site of Port Winston, an artificial harbor important during D-Day and the Battle of Normandy. The flags represent the Allied nations during World War II who contributed to the liberation of France from the Nazis.

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Left to right: Netherlands, Czechoslovakia (now Czech Republic), Norway, Poland, Canada, Belgium, United Kingdom, United States of America

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On June 6, 2019 – the 75th anniversary of D-Day – there was a major commemorative event, including the presence of many national leaders, including Trump (I’m glad we were there almost two weeks later instead!). Attendees were given (or they purchased, I am not sure) small crosses with paper flowers attached which they could leave at the base of monuments, write someone’s name, etc. These little crosses were still there when we visited on June 17.
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D-Day was the combined effort of several nations, primarily the British, Canadians and Americans. The site at Arromanches is the location of Juno Beach, one of the British invasion sites. The mission that became the Battle of Normandy, which lasted about a month, was successful only because of the perseverance, bravery, and sacrifice of the forces who fought at the cost of many casualties.

Thursday Doors: the Würzburger Residenz, Würzburg, Germany

June 30, 2019

On a walking tour of the city of Würzburg, Germany, we first visited the palace of the Prince-Bishop, known informally as the Residenz. The palace was built in Austrian/South German Baroque style, with some influence of the French Style, commissioned by Prince-Bishop of Würzburg, Johann Philipp Franz von Schönborn in 1720 and completed in 1744.

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This is only one façade of this magnificent palace.

When he moved into the first palace constructed, the prince-bishop (these leaders were head of not only the government but also the Church) thought it was rather small – he had fancied something more like the Palace of Versailles outside Paris or Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna.  Having won a lot of money in a court case, he used the funds to build an edifice that would show off his power and importance.20190630_141042
He was supported in this endeavor by, among others, his uncle the Archbishop of Mainz and his brother who was Imperial Vice-Chancellor of Vienna from 1704 to 1734. These supporters had influence among architects and artists of the time, supplying the project with men of renown to design and decorate the building.
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We were not allowed to take photos inside the building, only outside, but I got some splendid shots of doors, facades and gardens outside.
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When Johann Philipp Franz died, his successor, Christoph Franz von Hutton, had no interest in such an opulent palace and ordered all work on it to cease. Work began once more under his successor, including the gardens, and was finally finished in 1744.
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Inside we viewed the remarkable frescoes by Venetian painter Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, whose techniques make his paintings appear to be 3D.

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This photo, downloaded from Google Images, shows a partial view of Tiepolo’s ceiling fresco.

The palace was heavily damaged by Allied bombing during WWII and restoration has been ongoing since the end of the war. In 1981 the Residenz became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.20190630_141119.jpg
We wandered through the magnificent extensive gardens in back of the Residenz.

From there, I could get better shots of the back of the palace.
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I even found an “ex-door”!
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It was very hot that day – we were in the middle of a heat wave in Europe – and there was no air conditioning inside the building! After our free time wandering the gardens, our tour group gathered on the front steps of the palace, where a group of teenage girls was practicing some sort of choreographed dance. They were in the shade, but even so, their energy on such a hot day was amazing!

I always enjoy witnessing an activity like this informally done by locals – something tours don’t really show you. Würzburg has several other tourist attractions, including the lovely Cathedral, which I will feature in next week’s Thursday Doors!

Historical information was taken from the Wikipedia article Würzburg Reidence.
Photo of Tiepolo’s fresco and the grand staircase from FAB Senior Travel.

 

Thursday Doors: Cologne Cathedral

Cologne Cathedral is the most noticeable building as you approach this city on the north Rhine River, with its Gothic spires soaring high above the landscape. At 157 meters (515 ft.) ir the third tallest twin-spired church in the world. The towers for its spires make its façade the tallest in the world.
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From the river it is quite imposing, close as it is to the riverfront.  DSC00868
20190627_223155This Catholic cathedral is the most visited landmark in Germany, with 20,000 visitors average per day.

It is the seat of the Archbishop of Cologne and of the administration of the Archdiocese of Cologne. It became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996.

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Front main entrance

Details above front door:


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The cathedral’s official name in English is the Cathedral Church of Saint Peter (in German, Hohe Domkirche Sankt Petrus).

Inside the main transept:

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Front doors from the inside

Construction of the cathedral was begun in 1248 but was halted, unfinished, in 1473. Work did not recommence until the 1840s (!) and was completed according to its Medieval plan in 1880.
20190627_154133When construction began in 1248, the site had been occupied by several previous structures; from the 4th century CE (AD) on, these were Christian buildings.
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Legend has it that Kris Kringle (Germany’s Santa Claus) would take naughty kids to the cathedral, where he would punish them and if they resisted, he would drop them off the South Tower! That must have been a great incentive for children to be good! Visitors can go up the South Tower today – that is, when Kris Kringle is not around!!

Tower details:

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Model of the finial o top of the Cathedral towers in original size: 9.5 m high, 4.6 m wide

DSC00911.JPGIn the 19th century, there was a resurgence of romantic interest in the Middle Ages, and with the original plan for the façade having been discovered, the Protestant Prussian Court gave its approval for the cathedral’s completion. The Court provided a 3rd of its cost to improve relations with its growing number of Catholic subjects.

Stained glass:

On August 14, 1880, the completion of the cathedral was celebrated as a national event, 632 years after it had been begun! It was the tallest building in the world until the completion of the Washington Monument four years later.

As in most large cathedrals, there are relics and burials. Many graves were discovered during the excavations in the 19th century.
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Door to a crypt

Although the cathedral suffered 14 hits by Allied aerial bombings during World War II, and was badly damaged, it nevertheless remained standing in a city which was mostly destroyed.

Repairs of the war damage were completed in 1956. Repair and maintenance work is constant due to wind, rain and pollution which eat away at the stone, so there is almost always scaffolding on some part of the cathedral.*
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As we were leaving, I saw this most unusual door on one side of the cathedral.DSC00910
Both inside and out, the Cologne Cathedral is the most impressive and magnificent cathedral I have ever seen!

Posted for Norm’s Thursday Doors, 8/29/19.

*Historical information was obtained from the Wikipedia article, Cologne Cathedral.

 

Bayeux: Tapestry and Cathedral

The city of Bayeux, in the province of Normandy, France, has three main tourist attractions. The first is a famous tapestry that tells the events surrounding the Battle of Hastings in 1066, William, Duke of Normandy’s successful campaign to invade and take over England. William became king of England, later passing the throne to his son Henry. This tapestry is about 68.3 m/224 ft long and no photography of the actual tapestry is allowed. I was able to take photos of reproductions of sections of the embroidery in the gift shop.

A more accurate description is that the Bayeux Tapestry is “narrative embroidery” – it was hand embroidered on linen by various embroiderers in the late 11th century. It contains 9 panels of linen cloth joined together, containing text as well as pictures. It was commissioned by the Bishop of Bayeux (and William’s half-brother) for display in the Cathedral of Notre Dame of Bayeux, consecrated in 1077. (More information about the Bayeux Tapestry can be found at The Bayeux Tapestry: the epic adventure of William the Conqueror in 1066.)

The cathedral is the second main attraction in Bayeux, with its beautiful stained glass windows, a variety of interesting embellishments and details, and its variety of doors. Below are photos of the Cathedral of Notre Dame of Bayeux, featuring the doors for Norm’s Thursday Doors.
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The cathedral was built in the 11th-12th centuries in the Gothic style, and was dedicated in the presence of William the Conqueror in 1077. It was the first home of the Bayeux tapestry.

Approach to the front entrance:
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William and his beloved wife, Mathilde, are carved on the cathedral’s main doorway.
20190618_122008jThe main entrance from the inside:20190618_122459
One of the smaller doorways that flank the main entrance:
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Interior view:
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Spectacular stained glass windows:

The organ:
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The pulpit:
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Interior gate leading to the gift shop
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There are many carvings and interesting Norman-era embellishments in the nave. These were completed at the beginning of the 12th century.

The ceiling

Other statuary

Paintings

More doors
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Across from the cathedral is a small square.
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More doors and a gateway that we discovered on our walk back to our car.
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We passed this old-fashioned water mill.

We parked on the edge of Bayeux’s beautiful botanic gardens, and it is possible to reach the city’s center via walking trails through the gardens, but we were unable to spend the time to admire them, because we were on our way to Mont St.-Michel.

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This WWII tank was on display near the parking lot.

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FOTD: D-Day Garden Flowers

At Arromanches, Normandy, France, a garden, including flowers and sculptures, was created for the 75th anniversary of D-Day. These flowers constituted the “ground cover” of 1/2 of the garden.
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More of the garden:

On the left side, are the flowers and remembrance.

On the right is the stark reality of war, with obstacles, half-sunken ships, and sculptures only partially complete of the men who landed here.

Posted for Cee’s FOTD 8/10/19.