Just One Person … and Many Ducks (Sweden)

We took our first cruise in 2015, on the Baltic Sea, stopping at interesting historic ports, such as Tallinn, Estonia and St. Petersburg, Russia, as well as some of the major Scandinavian capitals. I captured this wonderful scene in the town of Sigtuna, Sweden, which has a renowned boarding school and is often a destination for church retreats.  The name of Sigtuna comes from an old English word for town (tuna), which was originally a Viking word.

After a wonderful lunch and a tour of the historic parts of town, learning about runic stones and mythology, visiting a 13th century church, and seeing a scary-looking contraption that was put on people who were jailed for drunkenness at the Town Hall, we were free to walk around on our own. We strolled down the street with lots of souvenir shops. Then we headed down to the lake on a sloping street past picturesque houses (some quite large) with pretty gardens. Along the lake was a park, including a spiral path with a faux runic stone in the middle, a miniature golf course that used tiny versions of local buildings for the holes, and many ducks who hoped for tidbits from an old couple sitting on a bench. There were lots of ducks in the lake as well, and this little girl on the lake shore trying to attract them. She was the picture of innocence and inquisitiveness of childhood and I loved her black hat! She is just one person (with many ducks!) in Sigtuna.

Here is a gallery of photos taken in Sigtuna.

Lens-Artists #84: Narrow Passageways

Amy at Lens-Artists this week invites us to explore the topic of narrow.

In my travels to “old” places – places built when there were no cars or crowds of tourists -I explored (or declined to explore) many narrow streets and other passageways.

Places like Old Town Tallinn, Estonia (where I got lost due to sidewalks and streets so narrow that I lost sight of our guide!)…
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A van that is nearly as wide as this street in Old Town forces all pedestrians to the narrow sidewalk on the left.100_0371
There were also narrow witches!
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In Stockholm, Sweden, I tried to imagine returning home to one of these narrow alleys on a dark afternoon in winter!
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Dale ends our bike ride through Stockholm coasting down a narrow cobblestone street.
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Stockholm, like many European countries, also has tall, narrow buildings.
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Even older is Old Jerusalem, Israel…Like elsewhere, vehicles have the right of way, squeezing pedestrians to the wall.
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Some of these climbing narrow streets are divided between steps and ramps.
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Watch out for motorcycles coming through!
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In ancient Egypt, clearly people were smaller to fit into narrow passageways into pyramids and tombs.

Dale and a few other adventurous souls (such as this woman from our group emerging from a pyramid) did go down these narrow steps into a now empty room in the Queen’s tomb in Giza. I took one look and decided to wait outside!
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Tourists descend a long narrow hallway covered with inscriptions and paintings to reach the tomb of Ramses IX in Valley of the Kings. These hieroglyphics declaim the deeds of the king during his reign, and there are also symbols of gods to accompany him to the afterlife.
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At the Chateau of Caen, France, a narrow stairway leads down to…where??
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On Omaha Beach, in Normandy, are the remains of WWII German bunkers, which I declined to enter, also reached through narrow passages and stairways. (I’m glad I didn’t go in – my son’s photos show empty rooms with an inch of rainwater covering the floors!)
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On the way back to our Airbnb farmhouse through the Normandy countryside, we drove down the narrow roads of villages, flanked by houses on both sides.
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A car in front of us navigates a sharp corner into another narrow street.DSC00482
A lot of traffic in Amsterdam travels its canals, which narrow on approach to bridges.
DSC00587Floating traffic jam!
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Bridges have these traffic signals indicating when it is safe and permissible to proceed (or not!).
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The day after our tour of the canals, we went to the “red light district” where we were told not to take photos of the sex workers who lived on either side of these narrow alleyways. Probably also not a good idea to photograph potential clients – good thing this one came out blurry!
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In Amsterdam, we stayed in an Airbnb 2nd floor flat, with a narrow stairway winding up to it. That was one of our son’s obligations to us for paying for his trip – carry our suitcases up and down! The stairway was so narrow and windy that he had to carry the suitcases one by one in his arms!
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Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Future

Lens-Artists’ Photo Challenge this week is to depict the topic of future. How can I take photos of something that hasn’t happened yet? Of course, that is impossible, but I can photograph potential and anticipation: the changing of seasons, children growing up, construction sites where buildings are being built on their current foundations.

I read this morning that there are currently six generations of people alive today. The G.I. Generation was born in the years 1900-1924. This generation is disappearing, but a few of them are still living independently in our senior community!

Mother facing the empty shelves

My mother, born in 1917, sat in her empty apartment in 2009 contemplating her future – the last chapter of her life – as we, her children, packed up her possessions in preparation for her move to assisted living. The empty white walls and shelves represented the end of her independence. (She died at the end of 2014.)

The Traditionalists/Silent Generation was born during the Depression and World War II, 1925-1945. Baby Boomers, the largest generation, were born 1946-1964 (this is my generation).

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Members of three generations – my husband, Dale, was born in 1944 and grew up in the 1950s and early 1960s. Behind him is me, born in 1952 – a Baby Boomer. In back, that smiling, handsome young man is my son, Jayme, born in 1985 – a Millennial, because his generation reached adulthood in the 21st century. Every one of us has a future to look forward to, although Dale takes it less for granted than Jayme. Dale and I look to the future as one of travel and pursuit of our own interests in our retirement years. Jayme – assuming he lives as long as we have – will see a very different world: one with altered climate, perhaps shortage of food and hopefully, a more enlightened government that invests in renewable energy. Will his health be compromised from smoking during his young adulthood? Will he quit before that? Will he find the love of his life, get married and have children? Will he publish a book of poems? I wonder about his future when I look at his face. HOPE is always a projection of the future!

Generation X is those born between 1965 and 1979. Millennials were born between 1980 and the late 1990s. Finally, Generation Z (because we don’t know what else to call them yet!) are the kids of today: born in the last years of the 20th century to the 2010s.

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A member of Generation Z is filled with wonder and delight at the ducks around her. She hopefully can look forward to a long future ahead.

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Mason (in lime green hoodie), holds his younger brother, Max, (my grand-nephew) as they watch fireworks over a lake in northern Wisconsin. I have already seen their future – this was taken in 2014, and Mason is no longer a child – he’s in high school, and Max, age 2 or 3 in this photo, is now a second grader.

Each of these generations had or have a future. The older ones have already fulfilled their potential – their hopes and dreams either completed or frustrated. The future they looked toward is now.

In the political arena, I see the youngest two generations as our hope for the future. These are the kids of Parkland High School, who are turning eighteen and have registered to vote; they are 18-year-olds all over the country who are signing up to vote fueled by the passion of their peers, peers such as the survivors of Parkland who saw their classmates gunned down at school, or such as Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old face of the movement to deal with climate change. We need their passion nowadays! We older folks can continue to march and protest Trumpism; we can show our concern for climate change and help in various ways. But it is really these younger people that carry us into the future.

Hope for future reflected in participants in a flash rally (including us – that’s me in the photo at left) in downtown Arlington Heights, that Robert Mueller would be allowed to do his job and discover damning information that would implicate Trump. What has Trump got to hide? Much of that is still to be uncovered – will the future bring us the full truth?

The future is my 50th high school reunion in June. Sedona, see you soon!
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The future for an artist is an empty canvas.
20200212_001230Nature is a good place to look for the promise of the future.

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I was taking a walk on a chilly (but not horribly cold) afternoon last week and took this photo of a tree rising out of a sheen of ice on a retention pond. Later, when I looked at it in large size on my computer, I noticed a lot of white specks on the branches and realized, the tree is budding already! This has been a very mild winter and plants have been fooled into thinking it’s almost spring. Already we see the future on this tree – a future of blossoms and green leaves.

All species are equipped to reproduce, so that their kinds will continue. Flowers have fertile interiors, filled with the pollen needed to spread its seeds. The flowers’ colors and fragrance are designed to attract insect species to spread their pollen. Few orchids are red, because bees cannot see that color. And flies prefer flowers that are brownish, resembling decay.

To look into the center of a flower is to see the future – or the promise of it!

Baby animals start out so small…

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Our grandcat, Freddy, when he was still a kitten. Look at the hair in his ears – what breed was in this shelter kitten? Only the future would tell…Now he’s six months old with the bushy tail of a Maine coon cat!

and in the wild, their parents can only hope that their future includes reaching adulthood!

 

CB&WPC: Taking Sides

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge this week is sides of things.

Whose side are you on?

I’m not sure I’d want to be on THIS guy’s side – especially its bad side!

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Sculpture at Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Climbing up the side of this pyramid might be tricky, not to mention slippery!

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Glass pyramid at the Louvre, Paris

I’d rather be on this animal’s side than in front – whoa, watch out!

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Rhino sculpture, Musee d’Orsay, Paris

I’m on your side, lions! (My, what big teeth you have!)

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Lions in front of a house, Des Plaines, IL

I’m definitely on the side of these newlyweds on their wedding day!

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Our niece’s wedding, Port Gamble, WA

Being on the side of a dahlia lets me see the unfolding of this lovely, delicate flower.

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Dahlia, Port Gamble, WA

This side view is one of my best and most favorite photos.

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My cat Hazel, at home in Des Plaines, IL

Birds’ eyes are on the sides of their heads – and this one is giving me quite a stare!

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Gull, Sweden

Give me the evil eye, but don’t worry – I’m not going to steal your worm!

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I forgot the name of this bird! Tanzania

I hope you enjoyed my journey of taking sides. And remember, I’m always on your side (hopefully with camera in hand)!

 

 

CFFC: Things People Play With

The topic this week for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge is Things People Play With. (I apply the term “Play with” rather loosely! 🙂 )

Discarded Barbie
Lost Barbie
Leaf and Ducks – Sweden
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Carnival Ride and Blow-up Slide, Des Plaines Fall Fest
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18th century doctor’s tools, Des Plaines Fall Fest
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Blocks, Des Plaines Fall Fest
20180916_155037_001.jpgVisitors try out a saw used to cut logs to make boats, National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium, Dubuque, Iowa
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Stingrays – you were allowed to put your hand in and touch them if you washed your hands before and after! (National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium, Dubuque, IA)
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Electric guitars and drums – band Size of Sadness, Chicago
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Having fun painting at Bottle and Bottega, Park Ridge, IL
Mary paints a tree, Angela a dragon

Serene Blue Sky Days

Who doesn’t love a blue sky accenting colors of the objects below, the sun shining down on us and feeling the warmth? When I think of Serene, I think of nature, and when I think of nature, I usually prefer Blue Sky Days!

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On the Baltic Sea near Helsinki, Finland

 

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Sunset on a clear night over serene waters (near Finland)

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Amazing clouds streak the blue sky on Upper Kaubashine Lake, Hazelhurst, Wisconsin

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Summer day on the lake, Sigtuna, Sweden

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Sunset over Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, as seen from Sugarloaf Mountain

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Sabino Canyon, Tucson, Arizona

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Pink clouds at sunset with rising moon, Upper Kaubashine Lake, Hazelhurst, Wisconsin

Join the fun at WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge and Nancy Merrill’s a Photo a Week Challenge!

Sigtuna, Sweden: Runic stones, a church, and Lake Malaren

August 14, 2015 (continued): Sigtuna, Sweden

Sigtuna, the oldest town in Sweden (founded 980 AD), is not far from the airport. It has a renowned boarding school and is often a destination for church retreats. The name of Sigtuna comes from an old English word for town (tuna), which was originally a Viking word. Its history before the 11th century is recounted in old Norse sagas. Its population is currently about 8,500 inhabitants.
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First things first: Lunch
First stop: an inn or house where tables were already set with glasses, tableware, napkins, bread, and plates of salad in a large dining room. Soon after we got there, two more tour groups from the Eurodam arrived to have lunch with us.
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After the salad and bread, we were served an entrée: chicken breast over julienned vegetables. For dessert we each got a wedge of chocolate cake that was like eating fudge! We could help ourselves to coffee or tea. On shore, I always had coffee when given the chance, because the free coffee on the ship was American style (to get good coffee I had to pay for it!).

KODAK Digital Still CameraRunic stones and mythology
At a park, Britt showed us stones with runic writing, which came from the Vikings. The runic writing encircles an illustration in the middle. For example, on one stone there was a cross, indicating that the subject was a Christian, and also a weapon. Plaques near the stones gave a translation of the writing. By reading them, I realized that these stones were like gravestones, extolling the virtues of important people who had died. However, it was fairly common for an important man to create stones about himself during his lifetime. One chieftain erected at least five stones dedicated to himself!
KODAK Digital Still Camera KODAK Digital Still CameraBritt told us about an ancient creation myth in which a god threw a giant into the air. The giant’s cranium became the sun; to keep it up there, the gods created the directions: north, south, east and west. The giant’s bones became mountains, his blood became rivers and seas. Eventually the gods fashioned the first two people out of tree trunks, and they were endowed with life, soul, and intelligence. Their names were Ask and Embla. Hell was a cold place of snow and ice – nothing else.
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Thor was a hammer-swinging god, associated with storms, thunder and lightning. The word “thunder” derives from the Norse word “Thor.” Odin was the god of wisdom, who learned from suffering. He was associated with healing, death, knowledge, and the runic alphabet, among other things.
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The ruin of a church
We saw a couple of these stones, then crossed the street to see the ruin of an old church. High up on one of the remaining walls was another runic stone. In those days, people would sometimes use stones with writing on them as building materials, not realizing their future archaeological value!
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Next to the ruined church was this cemetery.

Next to the ruined church was this cemetery.

KODAK Digital Still Camera KODAK Digital Still Camera KODAK Digital Still Camera KODAK Digital Still Camera KODAK Digital Still CameraSt. Mary’s (Mariakyrkan) Lutheran church
Next, we visited a now Lutheran church dated from the 13th century, which is in remarkably good condition, an example of brick Gothic architecture. It was renovated in the early 20th century and then again in the 1960s. Surrounding the church is a burial ground.

St. Mary's, built in the 13th century. Remains of another church have been excavated beneath it.

St. Mary’s, built in the 13th century. Remains of another church have been excavated beneath it.

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grave for the unknown

grave for the unknown

KODAK Digital Still CameraInside was dark and peaceful. The walls were painted with designs as well as Biblical figures and scenes. Light slanted in through the stained glass panes of arched windows.
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Prominent family buried here had one son and five daughters.

Prominent family buried here had one son and five daughters.

In front, to the left of the altar was the tombstone of a family, most likely a prominent one, with the couple carved on top. Next to the carving of the man was one child (a son). Next to the carving of the woman were five children (five daughters).KODAK Digital Still CameraKODAK Digital Still CameraKODAK Digital Still CameraKODAK Digital Still CameraWe then were free to walk around town – little shops along a couple of streets, the Town Hall, and off to the left, Malaren Lake, on which Sigtuna is situated. We went into the Town Hall, to see the contraption put on people who were taken to jail because they were drunk. There were two rooms inside – one room was lined with chairs, where people could wait for an audience with the officials. This room also had furnishings of a dining room and a green marble fireplace.The
other room would have been used as a jail for temporarily holding delinquents.

Sigtuna Town Hall

Sigtuna Town Hall

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The iron collar at left was put on the necks of drunks who were brought in to the jail.

The iron collar at left was put on the necks of drunks who were brought in to the jail.

After that, we strolled down the street with lots of souvenir shops.

KODAK Digital Still CameraKODAK Digital Still CameraThen we headed down to the lake on a sloping street past picturesque houses (some quite large) with pretty gardens.

KODAK Digital Still CameraKODAK Digital Still CameraKODAK Digital Still CameraAlong the lake was a park, including a spiral path with a faux runic stone in the middle, a miniature golf course that used tiny versions of local buildings for the holes, and many ducks who hoped for tidbits from an old couple sitting on a bench. There were lots of ducks in the lake as well, and I took a nice picture of a little girl on the lake shore trying to attract them.

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This illustration shows Sigtuna seen from the sea. Every inch of the shore is used for houses.

This illustration shows historical Sigtuna seen from the sea. Every inch of the shore is used for houses.

KODAK Digital Still CameraMiniature golf with a building that looks like the Sigtuna town hall!

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