CMMC: Up Close and Personal

Cee’s Midweek Madness Challenge this week has the topic close-up or macro.

Hazel doesn’t really like me getting this close for a photo. She seems to be sleeping, but one eye is slightly open!

Center of Queen Anne’s lace

Taken from our balcony on our river boat cruise on the Rhine: apparently this swan is used to getting up close to humans (probably wants an edible tidbit!)

At a Buddhist temple in Des Plaines, IL

Our niece got into the shot I was aiming for.

Sometimes you run into (almost literally!) an unexpected subject. This caterpillar was hanging from a single thread – probably weaving its cocoon.

Sometimes it’s hard to tell what I’m taking a picture of! Take a guess!

I took this selfie when I was about to go outside for a prolonged period in February – rather frightening! With my glasses on, wearing a mask caused my glasses to fog up and I could barely see!

A piece of a multitude of faces, taken at Morton Arboretum’s display of sculpture by Daniel Popper. (See my blog post in PPAC #4 for more!)

Thursday Doors: Cairo’s Islamic Art Museum

I am finding photos in my archives that I have never blogged about before, some suitable for Norm’s Thursday Doors challenge. We were on our own our last day in Cairo, because we were going to Israel to join up with a tour group there. On recommendation, we decided to go to the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA).

In 2014, there was a car bombing intended for the Cairo police headquarters across the street, which severely damaged the building’s façade, and destroyed over 20% of the museum’s artifacts. Personal photo of Gerard Ducher; link to license: .

The MIA in Cairo is considered one of the greatest in the world. It has an extensive collection of rare wood and plaster artifacts, as well as metal, ceramic, glass, crystal, and textile objects of all periods, from all over the Islamic world and representing different periods in Islamic history ranging from the 7th to the 19th centuries CE. The collection occupies 25 halls in 2 wings, one wing organized by period and the other organized by category. The MIA displays about 4,500 objects, but their total collection equals approximately 100,000 artifacts.

These photos represent only a small fraction of the items on display, but they were ones I found especially beautiful or significant. And, of course, featuring doors!


Ceramic tiles from Iznik, decorated with floral ornamentation. Turkey – Ottoman Empire, 16th century CE.


Ceramic tiles with under glazed decorations based on inscriptions, human, animal and floral motifs. Iran, 11th-15th century CE.


Two table chests, made of wood inlaid with ivory. Turkey – Ottoman Empire, 18th century CE.



Ceramic Mihrab with carved under glazed decoration. Iran, 14th century CE.


Cabinet of painted wood, decorated with ceramic tiles. Egypt – Ottoman Empire, 17th century CE.


This and photo below: Stucco façade in shape of a Mihrab. Egypt – Mamluk, 15th century CE. Marble portico. Egypt – Mamluk, 14th-15th century CE. Marble fountain. Egypt – Mamluk, 14th-15th century CE.



Wooden door, assembled “tongue and groove,” inland with ivory, ebony, and bone. Egypt – Ottoman, 16th century CE.


Marble door, decorated with floral and geometric designs; gift from the king of Afghanistan, 18th century CE.


Wooden pulpit, (Minbar), brought from the mosque Tafar al-Higazlya, 1348-1360 CE. Egypt – Mamluk, 14th century CE.



Wood plated door with copper revetment, bears the name of prince Shams al Din Sunqur al-Tawil-al-Mansuri. Egypt – Mamluk, 14th century CE.


Ceramic tiles, painted under glaze. Egypt or Syria, Mamluk, 15th century CE.



Information obtained from:
Wikipedia: Museum of Islamic Art, Cairo





April Square Tops: Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Since it is Good Friday, I thought this “top” would be appropriate – it is the dome inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem,  which was built on what is believed to be the site of both the crucifixion and the tomb where Jesus was buried.
20190114_111307 Church of the Holy Sepulchre
The church as it stands today is the same church that was built in the 12th century in the time of the Crusades. Here are some more photos I took there.


Entrance to the courtyard of the church


Courtyard outside the church



Lots of tourists file past the elaborate altar.


It was the most ornate church I had ever seen.


The church has several chapels and altars.
Within the church are the last four stations of the cross on the Via Dolorosa, the route Jesus walked carrying the cross.




Stairway to the lower level


Sculpture Saturday

Mind Over Memory has a photo challenge called Sculpture Saturday. Here a few photos of sculptures I’ve taken over the last few months.


Rocking horse light sculpture, North School Park, Arlington Heights, IL (this park has a wonderful holiday lights display every year).


Modern art sculpture somewhere in Chicago – taken during our Open House Chicago 2019 tour


Sculpture at Buddhist Temple in Chicago – taken during Open House Chicago 2019.



Taken at the Chinese pagoda at Chinese Reconciliation Park in Tacoma, WA

Thursday Doors: Passau Walking Tour

The German city of Passau is located in Bavaria very close to the Austrian border, at the confluence of three rivers: The Danube, the Inn and the Itz. It was the last German city we stopped at during our cruise last June-July. We arrived at Passau on the U.S. Independence Day, July 4.  This post is my contribution to Norm’s Thursday Doors 12/12/19.
Passau has a population of about 50,000, of which 12,000 are students at the local university. A devastating fire in 1662 destroyed most of the city, which was rebuilt in Baroque style.

Passau is known for its cathedral, St. Stephan, which has five organs! One of the organs is in the attic and the five can all be played at the same time.  The organ(s) has 17,774 pipes and 233 registers, and it is the 2nd largest pipe organ in the world. We attended a concert showcasing this amazing sound after our walking tour. Concerts are held daily between May and September.


In this square behind St. Stephan Cathedral is a statue of Maximilian I, the first king after Napoleon.

A cathedral door and details20190704_09093920190704_091011


Same door from the inside

Baroque décor characterizes the interior of St. Stephan.


The main organ is in the traditional place in the back of the cathedral.


The priest used to say mass from this golden pulpit, but now stands behind a podium adorned with the eagle of St. John (photo below).



We went out into a courtyard beside the cathedral.
In the courtyard are some extra panels and artifacts from the church.


This angel head fell off during a fire in the church. It gives a perspective of the true size of the sculptures in the church.

We continued downhill from the church on the cobblestone streets of Old Town.
The city has been plagued by floods for centuries, due to its location at the junction of three rivers. On June 2, 2013, the old town suffered a severe flooding after it had rained for several days. The photo below shows how a street of Old Town looked on June 3.

Peak elevation of floods as far back as 1501 are displayed on the wall of the Old City Hall.DSC01738


This glass door is for 16 and 18 Hell Alley! The narrow street gets its name from its proximity to the river.


Looking down Hell Alley, also known as Artists’ Alley, which is lined with small shops and cafes. 

Hotel Wilder Mann

This pharmacy is one of the oldest in Passau. It is painted green, which was the “code” color for pharmacies in times when many people were illiterate.
The Dom Museum entrance – this museum displays artifacts, relics and history of St. Stephan Cathedral.


This door at the former bishop’s palace was deliberately built above the ground. It now belongs to the Dom Museum.

Baroque architectural details adorn the ceiling of the palace.
Passau has a Daschsund Museum! These sculptures are outside the entrance.

“Coffee and love are best hot!”
20190704_103351I found interesting that this shop door has a nativity scene above it.
The sign on this Baroque decorated door advertises a one-bedroom apartment within.


Religious statues high up on exterior walls of Old Town are seen commonly in towns throughout Bavaria.

Prominent above the city is Veste Oberhaus, a fortress founded in 1219.

Information for this post obtained from:
author’s notes
Wikipedia article Passau
TripAdvisor The Höllgasse




Thursday Doors: Two Chicago Churches

I am entering this post into Norm’s Thursday Doors, as part of my tour of Chicago’s places of worship. Today I feature two Roman Catholic churches, St. Edward Church and St. Gregory the Great Church, both on the north side.

We visited St. Edward Roman Catholic Church during Open House Chicago, having put it on my “must see” list because it contains a painted replica of the Bayeux Tapestry. We had seen the original in Bayeux, France only a few months before.20191019_11582320191019_115850
St. Edward’s take on the story of the tapestry focuses on Edward who had been king of England and his benevolence as king. He was very pious and supposedly saw visions and cured people by his touch, which later earned him the status of a saint in the Roman Catholic Church. Edward was childless and William of Normandy was his cousin.

In Normandy, France, we didn’t hear much about Edward. There the emphasis was on William, Duke of Normandy (also known as “the Conqueror”), who invaded England in 1066 and took the English throne from Harold, who had succeeded Edward as king.  Harold did not have long to rule: he became king in January of 1066, following Edward’s death, and William’s invasion, known as the Battle of Hastings, happened later that same year.
The replica was painted in oils on the ceiling of the narthex of St. Edward Church by Mae Connor-Anderson and is about 75 feet long. It is not complete, containing only 24 scenes and the Latin inscriptions were removed. The 24 scenes tell of St. Edward’s role in the events that led to the Battle of Hastings in 1066.
The merger of the Saxon and Norman cultures created a new culture from which the English language evolved. Government was a mix of Norman and Saxon traditions.
St. Edward Parish was founded in 1899 and its current church building was dedicated in 1940.

This is one of the doors from the narthex leading into the sanctuary. There are several of these which all have the same design.
Confessional and confessional door

The stained glass windows throughout the sanctuary depict many important events in Christianity and the life of Jesus Christ. The pair pictured below depicts the birth of Jesus and his presentation in the temple with Simeon.


St. Gregory the Great Roman Catholic Church has been serving the north side of Chicago since 1904, when immigrants from Luxembourg petitioned for a new parish. Its congregation today comprises many immigrant and ethnic groups.
Although it was one of the sites open to the public during Open House Chicago, my visit there was with a friend for a concert by International Chamber Artists, who perform there often. The music director at the church arranges these and other concerts and is a fine musician himself.

St. Gregory is absolutely gorgeous inside. It was built in the 1920s in Norman Gothic style. It has a lavishly decorated ceiling and an intricate white reredos* behind the altar. The pulpit, shrines and stations of the cross were all hand-carved in Germany. The windows are made of English and jewel glass.

The door at the front of the church…
was not actually where we entered. Because we were ushers for the concert, we had to arrive an hour early to help with the preparation for the concert. Here is the door we entered.
You will notice that this and other doors in the church have small windows with diamond shapes in them.
The main sanctuary with its colorful and intricate decoration.
The main altar, with its white reredos in front of the back wall.20191103_144204
Shrine to the Virgin Mary, common in Catholic churches (St. Edward has one also, pictured above).
Inside the front entrance door
Confessional and its door

An inner door – I noticed that the diamond shapes all had pictures, symbols or Greek writing inside them.
I began to look at these more closely and saw a variety of pictures, each one unique.
On the church’s web site is their mission statement and that, guided by the Holy Spirit, they are committed to:
*Celebrating and sharing God’s goodness by providing beautiful experiences of prayer and worship
*Providing opportunities for people to grow in their faith, hope, and love
*Extending the healing of Christ into the lives of all people so that they may come to know and share in the love Christ has for our world
*Offering opportunities for fellowship, hospitality, and service
*Evangelizing (spreading) the Good News of Jesus Christ through experiences of the fine arts

Of the two churches, I found St. Gregory to be the more beautiful and it has more interesting doors, but I enjoyed looking at the paintings of the tapestry panels at St. Edward, which were explained in a booklet the docents were giving out.

*What is a reredos? Promounced “RARE-eh-dahs,”according to Miriam Webster online, it is an ornamental wood or stone screen or partition wall behind the altar of a church. The term’s first known use was in the 14th century.

St. Edward Church – publications obtained at the church
St. Gregory the Great Church – the church’s web site and Open House Chicago web site.

Thursday Doors: Walking Tour of Regensburg

July 2-3, 2019

We arrived in Regensburg by bus, where our new ship was waiting for us. We had been on the Viking Gefjon up until our arrival in Nuremberg, but the ship could not proceed south on the Danube because of a broken lock! So a sister ship, the Viking Sigyn, which was coming north, became our new home for the rest of the trip. All the passengers on each of the ships were transferred from one ship to the other, retaining the same stateroom number. Although the staff was different, our activity director, Alex, made the switch with us.  Because of this unusual situation, we arrived in time to do some exploring along the waterfront in Regensburg before it got dark, and we stayed docked there overnight.

For Norm’s Thursday Doors, please join me on a walking tour in the medieval center of Regensburg! Founded by the Romans in 179 CE, it is one of Germany’s oldest towns and is the 4th largest in Bavaria. Its original name was Casta Regina, which means “Fortress by the River Regen.” It was lucky to be spared major bombing during WWII, so many of its medieval structures remain intact.


The stone portion of this wall is the original from medieval times.


Our guide shows us what remains of this town gate – the dark colored areas are what still exists from the original structure.


More of the (reconstructed) medieval wall that surrounded the town.


Entrance to Villapark, 1.5 hectares, which was planned and begun in 1856-57 and was restored in 2013-14 according to the original plan.

The 12th century old stone bridge was used during the Crusades on the route to the Holy Land.

Porta Praetoria – another section of the original medieval wall

I could totally relate to this sign! 😀
Cobblestone street in the “old town.”
This building is called “Goliath House” due to the painting on the side. The Schindlers (of Schindler’s List fame) lived here at one time.
Patrician building – the patrons, or rulers, of the town would build a tower that was the highest in town. A new patron would build a taller tower. These towered buildings would house the city government – the rathaus, or town hall. This pink tower still stands but it is not the most recent. It is now used as a student dormitory!
Here is a wonderfully delicious doorway to walk through!
Lots of construction was going on in the old town when we were there.
Looking across a street (with limited access due to construction) at two doors for the “price” of one! Probably noisy at the time for the inhabitants of nos. 3 and 5!
Take a little rest or…
…shop for jewelry and pet a friendly dog!
This is Neupfarrkirche, built on the site of a destroyed Jewish synagogue after the Jews were expelled from the city. It is now an evangelical church.
King Maximillian had protected the Jews but when he died in 1519, the town destroyed the synagogue and drove the Jews out. Inside the church is an exhibit about the church’s history and the Jewish community of Regensburg.

The townspeople also destroyed the Jewish cemetery after the expulsion of the Jews. Some of their gravestones have been incorporated into walls.DSC01681
A Jewish community developed in Regensburg again when they were allowed to return in 1669 but they were not able to dedicate a new synagogue until 1841. It was demolished in 1907 for fear of collapse and another synagogue was built on a different site in 1912 when the Jewish population had grown to about 600.  The synagogue was destroyed in 1938 during Kristallnacht by the Nazis. A new synagogue has been under construction since 2018.

This is a “stumble stone” that tells the name of a person who lived here, that died in one of the Nazi camps.
Another No. 3!
We reached the Domplatz, site of the Cathedral of St. Peter.
20190703_111422.jpgThe Gothic Cathedral of St. Peter was built in the 1200s using whatever materials they had, so it is a patchwork of sandstone and limestone. Here you can see this “patchwork.”
20190703_111208The spires were not added until 1868 on the order of King Ludwig I, whose statue is in the Domplatz.

Under the cross in front is St. Peter in a boat.
Here’s a close up (you can see that Peter is holding an oar!):
The cathedral’s doors

The Cathedral of St. Peter has the largest hanging organ in the world.
Pope Benedict came to the cathedral during his tenure as pope.
Inside the cathedral are beautifully vivid stained glass windows, a number of statues and religious relics.

Continuing on our walk in the old town, there were many doors to admire.
Such colorful souvenirs for sale!

This is the entrance to a restaurant.
Altes Rathaus – old town hall (notice the patrician tower!)

Regensburg is a cultural center and has an opera house. This bodega serves wine and tapas. The mural is from the opera Carmen, the theme of the bodega. Carmen was staged here at one time.

The drinking age here for wine and beer is 16. To buy hard liquor or cigarettes, you have to be 18. If you want to purchase cigarettes from a vending machine like this one, you have to insert your ID for verification.
There is even a golf museum in Regensburg!
We entered a little church, Stiftskirche St. Johann

Regensburg is considered one of the top destinations to visit in Germany. Its medieval center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Sources for this post:
Author’s notes from July  3 visit
Regensburg on Trip Advisor
Attractions in Regensburg 
Wikipedia, Regensburg
Wikipedia, Regensburg Synagogue

Nuremberg’s St. Sebaldus Church

Nuremberg’s St. Sebaldus is a medieval church, built 1225-1273, and Lutheran since the Reformation. It takes its name from Sebaldus, an 8th century hermit and missionary who is the patron saint of Nuremberg. We visited this magnificent church during our tour of Nuremberg on July 2, 2019 as a stop on our Viking river cruise.20190702_110336
St. Sebaldus was originally built as a Romanesque basilica and in the 14th century several changes were made, including widening of the side aisles, making the steeples higher, and building the chancel. Two towers were added in the 15th century and in the 17th century it was remodeled in Baroque style. During World War II, the church suffered severe damage; undamaged areas of the old interior include the Shrine of St. Sebaldus and the stained glass windows.


The Shrine of St. Sebaldus can be seen behind the altar and in front of the stained glass windows. The windows and shrine remained undamaged during WWII.

The church contains beautiful religious art, both inside and out. Because this post is a contribution to Norm’s Thursday Doors, many of the photos below are of exterior and interior doors of the church.


A main entrance to St. Sebaldus Church



One of the public entrances is this one – note the modern reliefs on and above the door.


There are several reliefs of Biblical scenes on the outside walls of the church.

DSC01601More exterior doors:20190702_135723


This is a door to something, but not for people to walk through.

Shrine of St. Sebaldus

One of the things I found fascinating was the juxtaposition of the old and the modern inside and outside St. Sebaldus Church.


Diorama of the Ascension of Christ


Picture of medieval painting uncovered on one of the medieval walls


Ornamentation on the arches under the ceiling



Votive candles

There was an organ in the church by the 14th century, and another was installed in the 15th century. The main organ was built in 1440-41 by Heinrich Traxdorf and until its destruction during an Allied bombing raid in early 1945, it was one of the oldest playable organs in the world. The new organ was installed in 1975.




Monday Window: Miltenberg

This is my third post about picturesque Miltenberg, Germany, on the Main River in northern Bavaria. These are a few of the windows in this historic town.


There are many religious statues in alcoves and on walls of the old center of this Catholic city.


Church window – from the outside


Church window – from the inside



Flower boxes in every window add to their charm.


Monday Window is a weekly feature and photo challenge sponsored by Ludwig Keck.