Do you think psychic abilities exist? Yes, and I even know of a psychic octopus. I think some people have a high degree of sensitivity and connectivity to others. There are people who know when something has happened to one of their children, for example. I also believe some people can communicate with spirits. I don’t think that, in general, people can predict the future. But the psychic octopus did!
In the summer of 2010, we were in Spain during the World Cup, which was taking place in South Africa. The Spanish team was doing very well and everyone was super excited. During the semi-finals and finals, there was an octopus named Paul – he lived in Germany, I believe. On the evening before each of the semi-final matches, two little flags would be affixed to the side of two containers in which there was the favorite octopus food, mussels. Each contained a few mussels and both were placed in Paul’s tank. Every game – and this is really true – Paul would eat the mussels from the container of the winning team, that is, the team whose flag was attached. Unfailingly, he predicted every game. Sometimes he might take a mussel or two from both containers, but always selected the majority from the winning team’s container. And, the night before the final, his food selection predicted that Spain would win. By now, nearly everyone believed in the octopus. And, in fact, Spain DID win the World Cup final – it was the first (and so far the only) time they won this coveted award.
After the game, people poured into the streets from the bars where they’d been watching, and there was an all-night party in the streets of central Madrid. A few days later, the team members arrived home from South Africa, and all along the Gran Via (a wide thoroughfare in central Madrid) people gathered, wearing red and yellow – the colors of the Spanish team (and flag) – to wait for the bus that would bring the victorious players down the avenue for the benefit of everyone’s adulation. One of the things people wore were yellow octopus hats! Because Paul had predicted their victory, he was inextricably linked to the 2010 World Cup.
How would you describe peanut butter to someone who didn’t know what it was? A very sticky substance combining pureed peanuts and butter, that you use to spread on bread or to add flavor to a stalk of celery. (My dad had a hilarious joke about peanut butter – well, it was hilarious to watch him tell it, as it required some “acting.” But his description while telling this joke would give the person a pretty good idea of what peanut butter is like!)
Why does an octopus squirt ink? To protect itself from predators – the ink hides it from view and may be an irritant to predators.
Who are two of today’s greatest entertainers in your opinion? (can be actors, musicians, singers etc) I always am reluctant to answer this type of question, because my tastes are out of the mainstream for the most part, and I don’t even recognize the names of the current mainstream of entertainers! However, Stephen Colbert of A Late Show is one we watch regularly, and he got us through 4 years of Trump! In a similar vein, I also like John Oliver, who takes on serious subjects but he always gets a few laughs out of me and I love his accent!
GRATITUDE SECTION (always optional)
Please feel free to share a moment of gratitude in your life! The unseasonably warm, beautiful weather we have been given the last few days – flowers are blooming and I’m wearing sandals and short pants!
Do you enjoy skiing or ice skating or if it’s warm where you are, hiking or enjoying outdoor sports? I have never been good at sports of any kind, really. However, as a kid I did go with my siblings or friends to local skating ponds. We all had ice skates. I would get cold pretty quickly, sooner than the others. The best part was going home and warming up our frozen feet in front of the fireplace, while drinking homemade hot chocolate!
One of my sisters and my brother used to downhill ski, and my sister got pretty good at it. I was always confined to the “bunny hill.” I wasn’t very good at stopping which of course was a problem since I sometimes stopped by running into someone or something! Good thing I wasn’t going very fast. However, every time I went, I did experience momentary exhilaration during my descent down the hill. More fun for me was sledding – that was a popular pastime among my friends in the neighborhood. Also making snowmen or snow forts. For a short time, I enjoyed cross country skiing, but I didn’t pursue it enough to get very good. But at least stopping was a lot easier! Again, I always looked forward to warming up back inside afterward with hot chocolate.
That said, I really have never been a fan of winter. I don’t tolerate the cold well. As an adult, it’s nothing but inconvenience and drudgery – cleaning off the car to go to work or before going home. And then shoveling. My husband would get on his snow blower, but my job was to clear the porches and steps. Sometimes we had to use the shovels to chop a layer of ice under the snow.
Admittedly, there are many opportunities for beautiful photography in winter. I have a great collection of photos of icicles and scenes of freshly fallen snow.
Do you give to charities or homeless that you might encounter, during this time of year, more than you do otherwise? I get more solicitations at this time of year but I have to pick & choose. I have a few charities that I give to consistently. As for homeless people, I don’t usually give homeless people money on city streets, but here in the suburbs, there are certain intersections where individuals go between the cars waiting at a red light to try to get money from motorists. Sometimes I give, sometimes I don’t. More recently, I did. How generous I am depends on how secure I feel in terms of money. Right now I have some to spare.
In normal times, I get volunteers from my church to either provide food or work at a homeless shelter site. Different churches take turns every week manning these sites and serving food that is donated. But of course, right now these shelters are closed, so I feel sorry for those people who depended on them.
What is the most enjoyable activity you engage in during December? Is it a tradition for you and your family? I used to love decorating the Christmas tree. I have a lot of ornaments that I have acquired over the years, souvenirs of different places and different times. After I persuade Dale to put on the lights, I play Christmas music while decorating the tree.
We haven’t had a tree the last couple of years – last year we had just moved and we needed a smaller tree which we didn’t get; and the year before that we were overseas at Christmas. So this year I really want to find a tree – real or fake – that’s about 4-5 ft. tall for a good price so I can enjoy those ornaments again.
I also love getting together with family for dinner, gift exchanges, Christmas cookies, and carol singing! Here’s a collage from Christmas 2016:
What changes will C-19 bring to your festive celebrations this year? Thanksgiving was a preview of holidays to come – the two of us sat at our little table alone and ate the Thanksgiving dinner we ordered for dinner here at our senior community. Afterward, we connected with several family households on Zoom, to chat and play games. I think Hanukkah and Christmas will be the same. The weird thing is that this year I’ve bought more “real” gifts than I have in the past – usually I give gift cards because I have no imagination, lol! So now I have to mail those gifts to people I would normally see. For our kids, we will probably go to their houses and leave gifts on their porches, and they will most likely exchange gifts with us then. (Besides, we usually give them cash.) But we probably will get together with my sister and brother-in-law, who live in this community too, at least on New Year’s Eve, which is our traditional wine and game night. We usually play Scrabble. If we do Zoom, we’ll have to do a game like Categories that doesn’t require any shared equipment.
GRATITUDE SECTION(Optional of course):
Please share a good will wish for the world!
There is good news on the horizon: vaccines for Covid-19, and for Americans, a new administration with actual leadership will be taking office in January. In light of that, my message is:
There is light at the end of the tunnel. May it arrive in 2021! Until then, stay safe, stay healthy, listen to scientists, and count your blessings during these dark times.
Cee’s new photo challenge that she puts out every Wednesday is On the Hunt for Joy. This week the topic is Jump for Joy. Cee says that for this topic, Here are a few ideas to get you going. Anyone jumping, hopping or skipping trampoline exercising for fun animals who jump or hop throwing things Tip from Ingrid Fetell Lee: Jump for Joy: The photographer Philippe Halsman took photos of everyone who was anyone in his day, from Marilyn Monroe to Audrey Hepburn to Richard Nixon, and he always made them jump. He believed that jumping helped people drop their masks and release the joyful self inside. To get the same effect, jump on the bed, bounce on a trampoline, or do jumping jacks.
Exercising for fun: German teenaged girls doing a dance routine in Würzburg Video: Samba on Avenida Paulista in São Paulo, Brazil:
Nancy Merrill’s A Photo a Week challenge this week is the word quintessential. She writes: “According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, quintessential means perfectly typical or representative of a particular kind of person or thing.”
Typical Chicago? Skyscrapers, Sears (Now Willis) Tower, Navy Pier, Chicago River, architecture…
Chicago skyline, including Willis Tower
Chicago skyline with residential neighborhoods: brick apartment buildings, bungalows…
Chicago at night, from Navy Pier with its famous Ferris wheel; Lake Point Towers loom in the background.
Urban park: Maggie Daley Park
Architectural wonders, 19th century to 21st…
And of course, the Chicago River!
Oh, one more thing: pigeons! There are pigeons everywhere in Chicago! On a cold November day, a few gather around the Eternal Flame to keep warm.
And who can forget the 2016 World Series Champions, the CHICAGO CUBS!! (Sorry, White Sox fans.)
These are the familiar, quintessential sights of the city I’ve grown to love (except in the winter)!
Our intention today was to visit MAM (Museum of Modern Art) in the morning and then take my sister-in-law to Sugarloaf. We got sort of a late start, however, so when we got to MAM it was already close to lunchtime, and my husband’s stomach does not like to wait!
We stopped at the courtyard outside the museum to look at a photography exhibit. While there, I noticed a young boy who was quite entranced with an interactive installation in the shape of a square box frame full of colorful strings. I took this series of photos of the boy trying it out:
We asked at the museum if there was a café or restaurant nearby and were told that the museum has its own café in the back of the museum. Trying to find it, however, we ended up stopping for a minute to watch a group of young people with percussion instruments playing a batucada:
I would have stayed there listening to them longer, but Dale was anxious to have lunch. We were on the wrong side of the museum (it turned out) to find the café so we wandered, looking for some sort of eating establishment.
We crossed some streets and ended up at nearby Cinelândia! This area is named for the number of movie theatres one can find there, but it also has some beautiful historic buildings and monuments.
We ate at an outdoor restaurant, where I indulged in way too many fries! Having lunch rested us, so we walked back toward MAM and entered the museum.
(See separate post.)
After viewing some interesting and sometimes bizarre exhibits, we went back outside and followed a walkway past a pond to an entrance to the museum shop, where the (expensive) items for sale were artworks themselves. Next to the store was the café!
It being a nice day, there were a lot of people in the park behind the museum. We saw kids on stilts and tightropes, graduates of the college of veterinary science posing for pictures, lovers walking hand in hand, murals, and of course, the beautiful view of Sugarloaf from Flamengo.
It seemed sunny and relatively warm when we got out of the car at the Jardim Botânico (Botanic Garden).
On Eliane’s advice, though, I kept my windbreaker with me, tying it around my waist and sure enough, dark clouds soon hung ominously overhead.
We took the path toward the main structure, a 3-dome glass greenhouse. Along the path were various colors of petunias, nothing spectacular. Landscaped hedges formed concentric triangles on either side of the path. It was more crowded than I expected, but the weather was decent and it was the day before a national holiday.
We entered the greenhouse and climbed the stairs to the upper level. It was OK, but not very impressive really. Eliane told me she’d never been here before, and she seemed to have the same opinion as I did about the place.
Off to one side was a sort of pretty alcove with bright colored flowers so we headed there.
Even though it had started raining lightly, no one ran for shelter nor stopped their activities. On the sloped lawns, kids were running around and teenagers played ball.
We walked back toward the car and passed a group of young guys throwing and running with an American football! I expressed surprise at this, but Carlos said American football was developing a fan base here. Some people watched the games on satellite TV and now Curitiba has two football teams of its own! American teams are invited to come to play a game with these teams and help them improve their technique.
It seemed to be clearing up some, so we headed to the Rua das Flores (Flowers Street), a pedestrian street closed to traffic in the center of town. I was happy about this, because it had been one of my favorite places to walk when I last stayed in Curitiba, in 1979. Since Dale and I sometimes noticed different things, I’ve included some of his pictures as well as mine. Most of the photos speak for themselves. If you visit Curitiba, I strongly recommend taking a stroll down Rua das Flores as part of your itinerary.
Since there was still a bit of rain, we went to another mall – a smaller one, less fancy than Patio Batel. Although Dale and I both initially refused, we were easily persuaded to order sparkling wine, which they call espumante. I tried to get online, but all the nearby WiFis were locked! Carlos said it was maybe a new policy because the mall had just changed ownership and was now owned by an American company.
We didn’t have anything scheduled today until an interpretive hike at 5:30 pm. We went to Karstens – a restaurant at the McKinley Chalet Resort – for breakfast and I ordered the continental buffet for $13.00 (Full buffet, which Dale got, was $18.00). I was in the mood for oatmeal, which I covered with brown sugar and dried cranberries. I wanted a pastry but all they had were hard scones with raisins and mini lemon poppy seed muffins, that common type you find in supermarkets. I asked one of the attendants to look into it, thinking they had just run out of pastries, but she didn’t do anything – anyway, nothing more was put out so I had to be content with oatmeal and mini muffins. For $13, that was a total rip-off!
We decided to take a free shuttle to Denali National Park and go to the Visitors Center. Then at 2:00 we could go see the sled dog demonstration. We had to be at the shuttle stop for that at 1:20.
The Visitors’ Center is quite extensive and one can spend quite awhile there. There was a display of works by previous years’ artists-in-residence.
There were exhibits on the flora and fauna of the park, with life sized statues of animals such as a Dall sheep and a moose.
KODAK Digital Still Camera
KODAK Digital Still Camera
In the middle of the room on the main floor was a 3D topographical map,
KODAK Digital Still Camera
KODAK Digital Still Camera
KODAK Digital Still Camera
surrounded by native artwork and artwork depicting the park’s landforms.
KODAK Digital Still Camera
KODAK Digital Still Camera
KODAK Digital Still Camera
KODAK Digital Still Camera
I had gone through the display on the history of the park and had started reading about the native peoples of the area when Dale persuaded me to leave so we could have lunch. Afterward, we took a short walk before going to the shuttle stop for the sled dog demonstration.
The dog kennel and training center was only a few miles from the entrance to the park. The kennels were open yards with dog “houses”, each labeled with its owner’s name, most of whom were either sleeping on top of it or alongside it. They were all leashed. We also walked along an area with a chain-link fence, where there were a few other dogs. One who was lying next to the fence Dale bent down and petted his fur.
There was also a pen with 5-week old puppies, who were lying in a heap, asleep.
Not all the dogs were sleeping, however. When we arrived, the dogs knew there was going to be some action. Huskies who are used as sled dogs are bred to love to run. They enjoy nothing more than being hooked up to a sleigh and taking off. During the summer, of, course, they cannot use sleds, but they have training vehicles with wheels. Six dogs were selected to train that day, for us to watch.
When the dogs were selected, the other dogs in the kennel went ballistic – barking, jumping, pacing. They all wanted to get into the action! There was one that we could see from where we were sitting in some blocked off bleacher seating (we were told to keep our hands feet and all objects behind the barrier) who barked and leaped as high into the air as his leash would allow. We saw him shoot upward into the air, then down again, then up again, then down again. He was like a kid waving his arm and jumping up and down, saying, “Pick me! Please! Pick me!!”
In the fall, the growing puppies are taken on walks so that they are exposed to new terrain and challenges they could face on the trail. This is a good time to get a sense of their personalities. While they are still pups, they are observed by their handlers who notice particular personality traits. Leaders, followers, pullers – each require certain characteristics, and like all animals, each dog is unique. When the dogs are half grown, they are sometimes allowed to run alongside the training vehicle to see where they naturally feel comfortable: are they hanging around the dogs in the back? Do they run to the front to be first in line? These behaviors also help determine which position a dog will fit into best.
Each position in line is made for certain dogs. All of the dogs are highly intelligent, but they have different personalities. Who loves to explore and lead the way? Who gets tired first? Who has a lot of energy and just wants to keep going and going? These are traits that are observed during the pups’ training in order to select the best position for each dog. The lead dogs must be able to calculate danger and avoid it in a split second, able to make the decisions those in the front of the line need to make.
The dogs in the rear are those with the most physical strength. They are the ones who bear the most weight of the sleigh and all its contents.
Traditionally, the native Alaskans used sled dogs to pull their sleds from place to place to hunt, fish, gather food, or go from one settlement to another. The famous race, the Iditarod, immortalized in children’s literature by Balto, requires tremendous stamina to run for hours across the cold, snowy landscape for many days. The Iditarod takes place every year and covers hundreds of miles over a period of a few weeks. It is a test of physical strength and endurance. In Denali National Park, however, sled dogs are used by the rangers to accomplish tasks deep inside the park that need to take place during the winter.
Examples of the tasks that the Denali sled dogs accomplish are written on an informational sign at the entrance to the sled dog kennels. Sled dogs hauled more than 10,000 lbs. of building materials, such as lumber and steel cables, for a suspension bridge completed in 2010, . When the project was completed, they helped haul out the crew’s summer camps. Sled dogs assisted the installation and maintenance of remote sound monitoring stations, which were placed in various areas of the park. When a researcher wanted to begin a project to learn about the wolverine population in Denali, the sled dogs hauled remote camera stations necessary to learn the size and habit of the wolverine population.
Note: Once again, I am late with this feature! I had computer problems yesterday, so here is Flashback Friday on Saturday!
In 1991, the Chicago Bulls were at their peak. That year began a three-year winning streak, known as the first “three-peat”, with an all-star team including Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippin. Michael Jordan was becoming one of the most famous people in the world. It was said his name was known even in remote villages in underdeveloped areas of the world.
I had been living in the Chicago metropolitan area for two years and I was infected with “Bulls fever” along with everyone else, even though I wasn’t particularly a sports fan. I had always liked basketball, but not enough to watch an entire game on TV.
At that time in my life, I was in transition. I had filed for divorce from my first husband a couple of months earlier, but he still lived with me – temporarily, while he looked for a job to support himself and an apartment to live in. It was a very awkward situation because I was looking at the future as full of possibilities and opportunities. A time to cast off old prejudices and resentments and to try things that were new and different.
A woman at my job was trying to set me up with a friend of hers, twice divorced and fighting a bitter custody battle for his two-year-old son. Stan (all the names of non-famous people have been changed) was the opposite of me: a sports fanatic, he enjoyed fishing, fixing things, country music, playing the guitar and writing songs. He was not intellectual, but was crazy and fun-loving. Fun was what I sorely lacked and needed more than anything. And I was drawn to Stan because we were both vulnerable. Probably not the best basis for a relationship.
My first Bulls game was on April 5, 1991. Stan and I double dated with my friend from work, Lisa, and her husband, Joe. They didn’t actually have tickets to the game, which were prohibitively expensive. Plenty of people with limited resources relied upon “scalped” tickets. If you got to Chicago Stadium early enough and cased the parking lot, there were plenty of scalpers around who would sell you tickets for a reasonable price.
Lisa and I waited in her car while Stan and Joe went to look for “the brothers”, apparently a couple of well-known scalpers. While waiting for the guys to come back, we gossiped about people at work – entertaining, but I began to get antsy. Where were they? I was worried the game was going to start before we got in! When they returned, they explained Joe looked like a cop known to “the brothers”, so they were scared off, and they had only managed to acquire two tickets in the upper balcony, seats one in front of the other. Doing the gentlemanly thing, they gave the tickets to Lisa and me, while they stood in the back. In spite of not having tickets, it was apparently easy to get into the stadium if you got in by 7:45. During half-time, Stan bought us hot dogs and cokes, while the two of them drank beer.
We had missed the first part of the game waiting to get tickets, but it was worth it. Watching Michael Jordan play from our view in the balcony was amazing – he was like a dancer weaving his way across the court, sidestepping the opposing team’s players. It was something I would never have noticed had I watched the game on TV. Slam dunks are highlight moments, and cool to watch wherever you are, but the subtleties of the game are easily missed without being close to the action. And there is always the atmosphere at the game, excited fans all around, shouting, waving banners and red & black pom-poms, the noise of the buzzers, the squeaking of the players’ shoes on the floor, and even the smell – indoor sports events have a particular smell, a combination of sweat, stale indoor air, beer – even the ball, the net and the floor exude their own odor.
The game got exciting toward the end, as the Bulls closed in on San Antonio’s nearly 20-point lead. Jordan was superb to watch and so was No. 14 (Craig Hodges), who threw several long shots (3 points each). However, San Antonio won the game 110-107. I didn’t care – it was close, exciting – FUN.
. The Bulls won their first championship title that year, with 61 wins and 21 losses in the regular season, 15-2 in the playoffs. It was their first NBA championship in their 25 year history, and they were the first team to go on to win 3 in a row – TWICE. Michael Jordan was voted NBA’s Most Valuable Player for the second year in a row and won his fifth consecutive top-scoring title, reaching the 15,000 point mark.
When we left, we passed by a souvenir stand and Lisa said, “Oh, look, Katy, they have the T-shirts you wanted.”
“Don’t be silly, I can’t afford a T-shirt,” I said and we kept walking.
As we crossed the street, I noticed Stan was no longer with us – he was back at the souvenir stand!
He came running up with 2 pennants, one for himself & one for me. From a guy like him, that was like receiving a bouquet of flowers! Stan was the type to never allow a woman to pay for anything on a date, and I realized he had spent $50 on me that day! I put the pennant up in my bedroom, and whenever I looked at it, I remembered that evening as one of the first days that I’d had fun in a long time.
To read up on this amazing basketball team, I recommend: