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!!

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)

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.

CFFC: Two- and Three-Wheels Around the World

Cee continues her transportation theme in her Fun Foto Challenge with motorcycles, tricycles, and bicycles.

LAPC 99: The Old and the New

Amy of Lens-Artists invites us this week to show old and new with our photos and stories.

On our last trip to Brazil, we spent our first week staying with friends in the southern city of Curitiba, which has well over 1 million inhabitants. The city has grown a lot since I was last there in 1979! In this photo, the juxtaposition between old and new can be seen in the Centro Histórico (historical center), with Portuguese-style buildings from the 18th and 19th centuries dwarfed by modern skyscrapers.

We then spent about a week in São Paulo. Every Sunday, a major avenue, Avenida Paulista, is closed to motorized traffic; pedestrians and bicyclists have the street to themselves on that day. Being a major street, Avenida Paulista is lined with ultra modern architecture, but there are historical monuments there also, which visitors can explore. At the far end of this avenue is the Casa das Rosas, named for its rose gardens, a Victorian mansion that has become part of Brazil’s historic patrimony. Behind this partial view of the house, a glass blue skyscraper rises high.

In São Paulo’s downtown, old and new live side by side, above and below. These 19th century buildings, which can be admired for their colors nd wrought-iron balconies, now house modern stores on their lower levels.

Two years later, we were in Egypt, where we saw many monuments of its 3500 year old civilization. The Egyptians are both proud of their heritage and dependent economically on tourism. This modern apartment building is decorated with motifs of ancient Egypt.

While visiting the ancient pyramids in Giza, just outside the city of Cairo, we also took in a museum housing a restored ancient boat belonging to one of the first pharaohs. These boats were buried in pits next to the king’s tomb because the ancient Egyptians believed he would need his boat to travel to the afterworld. While the pyramids and the boat are ancient, the hexagonal Giza Solar Boat Museum which houses the ancient boat is quite modern looking on the outside, in contrast with the 3,500 year old pyramid behind it!

We visited the mortuary temple of Hatshepsut, a woman who ruled as pharaoh for nearly 20 years during Egypt’s 18th dynasty. I took this photo of my silly husband with his Nikon camera hanging down over his chest, posing with two Egyptian guards dressed in traditional garb in one of the temple’s sanctuaries.

Every one of the monuments was swarming with cellphone-toting tourists snapping photos.

South of Aswan is the city and monument of Abu Simbel, which is less touristy, because many people do not want to take the two-plus journey there to see the twin temples built by Ramses II. When the Aswan High Dam was built in the 1960s, it caused a lake to form south of the dam, which flooded previously inhabited areas. Because of its historical value, a huge effort was made, before the dam could be built, to remove the ancient monuments that would otherwise end up underwater. Ramses II’s temple and the smaller temple next to it he had built for his beloved wife Nefertari were divided painstakingly into sections and lifted 200 meters higher where a cliff had been carved out for its placement to look at much like the original location as possible. In the old position, Ramses II’s architects had cleverly created an inner chamber in which there were statues of the pharaoh and two gods, which received direct sunlight for 45 minutes on only two days of the year – his birthday and his coronation date – February 22 and October 22. One of the gods, Ptah, remained always in shadow, for he was the god of darkness. When the monuments were raised up to the higher cliff in the 1960s, the sun’s rays no longer illuminated the statues on those two dates, but close – they now shine upon the statues for fewer minutes on Feb. 21 and Oct. 21, only a day earlier.

Several of Egypt’s ancient monuments, including the temples at Abu Simbel, now have a special light show for tourists, which project colorful images onto the outer face of the monuments starting at twilight. As the images are shown, there is narration to accompany them in several languages that you listen to with an earbud attached to a small transmitter. New technology is juxtaposed with ancient buildings by using them as a “movie screen” for the images. During the projection of the images, it is difficult to make out the shapes and features of the statues behind them.

Beginning of the show, just after twilight
These projected images are from photos of actual Egyptian paintings, used to tell the history of this ancient civilization, as well as from photos telling the story of the project to move the monuments to their current location.

In Israel, where we traveled after our tour of Egypt, there are also many ancient places. Much of the original wall of Jerusalem and its gates still exists; millions of tourists and residents enter those gates on a daily basis. Here are some young Israelis dressed in their military uniforms about to enter this ancient gate.

In Gethsemane, there is a garden with ancient olive trees. One of them is exceptionally old – dating from the time of Jesus and is believed to possibly have been a young tree when he leaned against it to pray on the eve of his crucifixion. In order to protect it, a fence now surrounds it.

Finally, while on a boat tour of the canals and harbor of Amsterdam, I took this photo of Amsterdammers in a boat shaped like a Heineken barrel, about to pass under a medieval bridge.

Monday Window: Windows With Grates

For Ludwig’s Monday Window Challenge, I am looking back at a cruise we took to the Panama Canal, stopping at several Central American Pacific ports on the way back. All these windows have grates. One of them, however, was taken in Jerusalem last year.

León, Nicaragua
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Antigua, Guatemala
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The purple sashes were there because it was Holy Week.KODAK Digital Still Camera
Actually, I think these windows have shutters, not grates.
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Todos Santos, Mexico
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Jerusalem, Israel
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CFFC: Yummy!!!

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge continues exploring the senses; this week it is tasting.

We have 5 basic type of tastes registered by our taste buds: bitter, salty, sour, sweet and savory. Sometimes fat is considered a 6th taste.

The American diet contains a lot of processed foods, which add salt to them – salt is a preservative. So we eat too much salt, as well as fat and sweets. High-salt diets can cause fluid to build up in your body, especially if you have a heart condition like I do. A tell-tale sign is swollen ankles but also lots of coughing, the result of fluid build-up in the lungs. That is why I try to maintain a low-salt diet.

If we would stick to “real” food, that is, food provided to us by nature, we would be a lot healthier.

Garden tomatoes: Fresh tomatoes always taste the best! (citrusy: sour, also savory)20190817_193324
Baclava – Vienna’s Naschmarkt  (sweet – taste of honey)
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Vegetables and fruit for sale at Vienna’s Naschmarkt (mostly savory, some bitter)
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sweet & savory fruits!
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Breads in Israel – most breads are put in the salty category, but some, like pita bread, are classified as savory
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In Egypt, I fell in love with Middle Eastern food!!

We had a home-hosted dinner at the home of an Egyptian family in Luxor.

We also had a five-day cruise on the Nile on our own private boat with excellent chefs! Rice and peppers – definitely savory!
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A whole fish! – Nile perch (savory,  salty also)
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A New Year’s cake (oh so sweet!)
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Spices for sale at an Egyptian market – spices add flavor or heat to a dish, and some can be bitter.
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I don’t normally take pictures of food (except when traveling), but sometimes I can’t resist, like this savory shrimp appetizer at a restaurant!
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Holiday cookies from my church’s annual “cookie walk!” (Totally bad-for-you sweet, but the holidays are a time for celebrating!! Eat these in moderation!)
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I will end where I started – with fresh grown vegetables, from a local farmers’ market.

 

 

Thursday Doors: Bygone Doors & Gates

In my former home town of Des Plaines, Illinois, they are constantly putting up more condo buildings, especially near downtown where the commuter train station is. Last year, right around the time we moved to Arlington Heights, they razed a whole section of downtown buildings to make way for – you guessed it – yet another condo building! The bank on the corner was spared because of its historic significance, and our favorite Mexican restaurant survived also, but the only camera store around (and within walking distance of my house!), a good Italian restaurant and other businesses had to move.

 

Before any of that took place, however, I took photos of downtown Des Plaines establishments which are no more.

The first two are of doors that were already boarded up long ago, but now the building is totally gone.
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This karate studio at 1415 Ellinwood was among those businesses that were demolished.
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1411 Ellinwood was a store that sold all sorts of knickknacks or tchotschkies as they say in Yiddish.
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Other bygone doors and gate, now bricked up, can be found at ruins whose occupants have been gone for centuries.

St. Simeon – an early Christian monastery in Egypt, near Aswan – was first built in the 7th century CE, dedicated to a local saint. It was rebuilt in the 10th century CE and dedicated to St. Simeon. From here the monks traveled into Nubia with the hope of converting Nubians to Christianity. It was originally occupied by up to 1,000 monks. It was partially destroyed by the troops of Saladin in 1173. On the walls inside, you can find both Christian and Muslim symbols and writing.
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Canaanite Gate or Gate of the Three Arches, at Tel Dan Archaeological Site in Israel – it dates from the Middle Bronze Age (1700 BCE), and was the exterior entry archway in the mudbrick gate (only the outer arch is still visible). The city of Dan was named for the Israelite tribe, the Dan, who conquered it in the 11th century BCE. It was a station on the route from Egypt to Syria, and is mentioned as early as the 19th century BCE in ancient Egyptian texts, when it was known as Laesh.
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We visited the remains of a major synagogue dating from the 4th century in Capernaum, a fishing village on the Sea of Galilee which was occupied from the 2nd century BCE to the 11th century CE. This synagogue entrance was not bricked up – instead we were standing in the main sanctuary of the synagogue.20190110_120625
Jerusalem retains much of its ancient wall which originally surrounded it. There were several entrance gates into the city. The Golden Gate, which was blocked off in 1541, is the gate through which Jesus entered the holy city to celebrate the Passover. It is claimed that it will be reopened when Jesus returns to Earth.  In front of the gate and that portion of the wall is the Muslim cemetery.  In 66 CE, the year of the Great Jewish Revolt against the Romans, when the Second Temple of Jerusalem was destroyed, the city had a larger population that it has today, and most residents lived outside its walls.
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See a variety of doors, including his own doors on wheels, at Norm’s Thursday Doors 5/7/20.

 

Thursday Doors: Doors on My Travels

Because we’re not going anywhere right now, I have compiled a collection of doors I have photographed during recent travels for Norm’s Thursday Doors. In fact, I don’t think I’ve shared these doors before!  (Well, maybe a few of them.)

Three doors at the Louvre in Paris, France:
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Aswan, Egypt: Store fronts and stadium
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Lotus gate in Aswan
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Synagogue entrance in Jerusalem, Israel
20190113_101001d Synagogue door, Jerusalem
Church door, Vienna, Austria
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Courtyard, Vienna
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Store front, Vienna
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Schönbrunn Palace, Vienna
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St. Matthias Church, Budapest, Hungary
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Budapest
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