Month of LoveLoveLove, #14-15

Continuing with things I love for Paula’s February Love challenge, here are my days 14 and 15.

Feb. 14: I love…Dale. Valentine’s Day is a special day for me, because it is my husband’s birthday! I married my valentine 25 years ago, and we’ve been together for almost 30 years total! For our 25th anniversary (last November) we had planned to take a round trip cruise from the Caribbean to the Amazon, but of course it was cancelled due to Covid. We will go in 2022 instead. Years ago, I bit Dale with my travel bug and now he loves it as much as I do!

He can be very sentimental at times, much more so than I. He loves joking with puns, but he has used some of them so many times that other family members have to tell him to stop! Dale is a former high school history teacher in the inner city of Chicago, and retired after 33 years. Since then, he’s had more time for his favorite pursuit – golf! In the winter – especially this pandemic winter – he gets bored!

Imitating a stone statue behind us, in Scharding, Austria, 2019
A bite to eat after touring the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam
We had a fantastic suite in our hotel in Amsterdam in 2018. Dale is checking Facebook, as usual!
Being the only Jewish person on a Christian trip to Israel in January 2019, Dale proudly posed in front of the Golden Menorah in Jerusalem.
We took pictures of other couples, and they took photos of us while waiting for the Sound and Light Show to start at the Abu Simbel temples in Egypt, Jan. 2019.

Dale turned 77 yesterday, and a few unexpected health problems have arisen lately. Still, we hope to enjoy as many more years together as we can!

Feb. 15: I love…animals. I have already written about my love for cats, but we took a safari in Tanzania in 2018 that was the most unique and memorable trip of my life so far! During this pandemic, we are homebound, but we are lucky to live on a beautiful campus with two small lakes. Every spring and summer, I enjoy watching the swans, ducks, and other fowl that visit our lakes. I’ve also made friends with a couple of the dogs who I see on my walks (when the weather’s warm enough!).

CFFC: Homophones & Homographs

English is such a crazy language! I’m glad I don’t have to learn it as a foreigner! We have many words with more than one pronunciation (homographs), and many words that sound alike but are spelled differently (homophones). Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week plays on the theme of red: a pair of homophones RED – READ; a pair of homographs READ (present tense) and READ (past tense); and another homophone pairing: READ and REED. So here are my REDS, READS and REEDS.

RED: (adjective) a bright primary color

Partial view of a park from a large sculpture with a red hole in the middle
An inviting little table at an Airbnb apartment near Paris
Our neighbor showed off his new toy: a snazzy, shiny, red sporty car!
An intelligent take off of MAGA (and red like MAGA hats!). I saw this sticker sign in Chicago.

READ: (verb) past tense of read: I read an entire book yesterday. But I have not read any of the books in the two photos below, which are written in other languages.

I wonder who has read these sacred Islamic books?
I wonder how many ancient Egyptians read The Book of the Dead in hieroglyphics?

READ: (verb) present tense. I like to read every day.

What book do I read in this photo? I don’t remember!
Sometimes I read magazines.
No one can read this book (except the pages I’m sitting on!) – it is a stone monument to the Russian author Pushkin, in St. Petersburg.

REED: (noun) any of several species of large aquatic grasses, such as those pictured below.

February Love Me

Yikes! I have a few days to catch up for Paula’s February Love Me challenge! Here are 3 more, in no particular order…

Feb. 6: I love…ice cream! Even though it is winter, and quite cold here, I can’t resist the temptation of ice cream once in a while!

Ice cream in France

Feb. 7: I love…art. I love to visit art museums whenever I can as well as do my own artwork! I just finished the book Frida in America by Celia Stahr, a new biography of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo focusing on her years in the United States with her husband, Diego Rivera. While reading the book, I explored her artwork on line and, although I was quite familiar with her work, I discovered a lot of her paintings I hadn’t known about before. I also love mural art wherever I find it – and usually stop what I’m doing to take a picture!

Claude Monet, Bordighera, 1884, oil on canvas; exhibition at Chicago Art Institute, Oct. 2020
My artwork: Painted Bunting, sharpie and pastels on construction paper, January 2020

Feb. 8: I love…traveling. Anyone who reads my blog even occasionally knows how traveling is absolutely the thing I love most to do! And while traveling, I engage in one of my favorite hobbies, photography, and when I come back, I engage in another favorite activity, writing (or blogging). Below is a gallery random sample of travel photos from 2018-2019. There are no travel photos from 2020 due to not being able to travel during the pandemic! I have two international trips booked for 2022 and hopefully we can do a road trip in the fall of this year.

CFFC: Animal Art

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week has the topic Non-Alive Animals. Of course, any representation of an animal has a real animal in mind as the artist creates it. But the rendition may be very close in appearance to the real animal, or it may be whimsical, or abstract. It all depends on the craftsman’s talent and point of view.

It was hard to choose photos for this post – so many to choose from! Everywhere I go, locally or abroad, there is animal art. Animals have been subjects for every kind of art imaginable for thousands of years…

Such as the first known painting in the world, a painting of Egyptian geese on papyrus at the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities in Cairo,

and the god Horus, usually represented as a hawk, at the Temple of Horus in Edfu, Egypt.

Also at the Egyptian Museum is a throne of King Tutankhamun, whose tomb was not found until 1922, with most of its grave goods intact – it hadn’t been subjected to many tomb robberies!

This elaborate throne contains many symbols and images of gods, such as twin lions on the front. One of ancient Egypt’s sacred symbols was the scarab beetle, depicted in the cartouche on the front of the arm; the hieroglyphics within the cartouche generally are names of kings, so this may have been Tuthankhamun’s. Embracing the throne of either side are the wings of the vulture, a bird considered to be a protector of kings. In this case, he represents the king-god himself, wearing the double crown of Upper and Lower Egypt.

The ancient Chinese civilization also had many animal representations, one of the most common being the guardian lion. This one is in front of a restaurant, House of Szechwan, in Des Plaines, Illinois.

Generally depicted in pairs, guardian lions stood in front of imperial palaces, tombs, temples, government buildings, and the homes of the wealthy. The concept was to show the emotion of the animal, in this case ferocity, as a symbol of protection.

Deriving from this Chinese custom, there are people today who have a pair of lions as lawn ornaments, like this one in Des Plaines. He might look more ferocious if freshly painted!

Here are another example of a Des Plaines lawn ornament, this cute little bird sitting on an orb.

There were many whimsical animals on display for sale or as decoration in the charming small town of Poulsbo, Washington, north of Tacoma.

In Evanston, Illinois, there is a little known museum called the American Toby Jug Museum, which we discovered during Chicago’s annual Open House in October. Toby Jugs are ceramic figures, usually depicting well known persons, but also animals. The history of the toby jug, or philpot, dates back to 18th century potters in Staffordshire, England and was popularized by colonists in the United States. The top of each toby jug has a spout for pouring, but nowadays, these figurines are primarily for ornamentation or collections.

After the wedding we attended near Poulsbo, Washington, we spent a day in Tacoma before returning to Seattle for our flight home. There is a beautiful Museum of Glass there, which has many objects designed by the famous Dale Chihuly, but there is also a fine collection of glass sculptures by other artists, such as this beautiful horse.

Horses are the subject of many works of art, including statues of famous heroes mounted on horses in many European cities, but I am only including two 2-dimensional renditions, one a drawing of a palomino I drew a few days ago, and another one at a short film display at the Ij (Eye) Museum in Amsterdam.

While in Amsterdam, we visited the Oude Kerk, the oldest building in Amsterdam, founded circa 1213 CE. Under the seats of the choir were unique carvings – some rather bawdy! – including this one of a pig.

Most people love animals, and there are many examples of whimsical animals to delight human sensibilities. In the gardens behind Melk Abbey in Austria are some cute creatures, mostly fantastical combinations of human and animal, but there was this turtle:

In Passau, Germany, which we had visited the previous day while on our Viking European cruise, while walking around town on our own, we came across a dachshund museum! Big and little dachshund statues were in front of it.

Who could resist being delighted by several painted cows in the town across from Mont St-Michel in France? Here is one of them, my personal favorite (I love that bright blue udder!).

Our daughter loves Hello Kitty, and for her bridal shower, Hello Kitty was the theme! I bought these as party favors.

Some animal sculptures are cute,

At Mount St. Mary Park in St. Charles, Illinois

but some can be a bit intimidating!…

Giant spider at Pappajohn Sculpture Park in Des Moines, Iowa

and some are reminders of favorite movies, such as this groundhog in Woodstock, Illinois, where Groundhog Day was filmed.

February Love #3-4

I have to catch up again with Paula’s Month of Love, with the challenge to post something I love every day of this month!

Feb. 3: I love…books. I used to be in 3 book groups – it was hard to keep up and still have time to read other things. I gave up the two library book groups because it got too difficult to access the books and Zoom meetings after Covid quarantine kept us from in person meetings. In the meantime I’ve joined another group here at our senior community, and I’m still in one at our church. I post all my books on Goodreads. There is a challenge every year: you start the year pledging to reading the number of books of your choosing. Last year I pledged 35 and read 45. So this year, I’ve pledged 40 and will probably go beyond that again! I always read a mix of fiction and non-fiction in a variety of genres. My favorite genre is historical fiction.

One reason I haven’t been blogging much lately is because I can go an entire day never turning on my computer, instead preferring to sit near the fire and read for hours!

Feb. 4: I love…cats! I take photos of cats wherever I go. Here is a sample of cats I’ve seen or loved as pets.

SYW: Lawlessness, Adulthood, Conspiracies & Beautiful Places

Melanie has some new thoughtful questions this week for Share Your World.

QUESTIONS:

If the government offered to suspend all laws, and law enforcement for 24 hours, letting you (and everybody else) do whatever you wish… Would you be in favor of it, or not?

Absolutely not! There are already enough gun-toting, crazy fanatics out there (and a few in Congress!) ready to make trouble without giving them one more incentive!

What would be the creepiest thing you could say while passing a stranger on the street? (We’re suspending the whole social distancing and Covid involvement in this scenario)

I’m not a creepy person so the only way to scare someone (if that were the objective) would be to act like a lunatic. I’ve had creepy things said to me, but I can’t imagine myself saying those things to others.

As a child, what did you think would be great about being an adult, but isn’t as great as you thought it would be?

Getting married and having kids. Don’t get me wrong – I have enjoyed both, but there have been plenty of hardships and bad moments. I wanted to have two children and teach them to be good human beings, and feeling proud when they graduated from college and started their careers. I thought I would never get divorced because I would find the right person, my “soul mate.” I also imagined myself having a perfect career. In the end, I got divorced from my first husband and married again when it was no longer feasible to have more children. I had only one child (although I gained a stepdaughter, but I didn’t raise her) and he has suffered many problems due to mental illness. He has had plenty of dead-end jobs but to this date has never fulfilled his career ambitions. I didn’t either, really. I wanted to be a writer or an international journalist. The closest I have come is blogging about places I have been internationally! (And the pay isn’t very good! 😉 )

What, in your opinion, has been blown way out of proportion?

Conspiracy theories. Not the fact that they are reported on, but the fact that so many people actually believe in them. If you really stop and think about some of these wacko scenarios, do you think they sounds realistic? Hillary Clinton running an underage sex trafficking business out of a pizza parlor? It just doesn’t sound plausible at all. Or the idea that the entire Democratic Party is part of a “deep state” plot to turn the United States into a communist country and control the people. Really?? Think about the vast number of people that it would take to pull this off without being caught. Or to promote the lie that the coronavirus is a hoax and mass shootings didn’t happen. Not only is this hurtful to those who have lost loved ones to Covid-19 and mass shootings, but imagine what it would take to actually pull these fake scenarios off, and never having anyone involved in them defect to the other side. Hundreds of scientists would have to have been coerced into promoting the idea that a fast-spreading virus is a hoax and that they (the Democrats, of course) would have to mount some incredible scenes of people in hospitals being tended by harried medical workers and stories they would have to tell about their feelings when they lost patients. Climate change is a hoax? So people are going to believe one or two fringe scientists instead of an entire body of thousands of scientists who can prove climate change is happening? Then one “outsider” (Trump) comes along to “take back” our country from these horrible Democrats who have no compassion at all, just ambition. It just doesn’t make sense.

Of course, there is never any proof for conspiracy theories but much damage has been done because an alarming number of people believe in them and a few feel it is their job to do something about it.

Gratitude Section (Optional as always)

Where is your ‘happy’ place?  

Sightseeing in a place that inspires awe. In other words, traveling to foreign lands or being privileged to see places that make me grateful to be alive.

“Recalculating…” – Maps vs. GPS

Truthful Tuesday

It’s Truthful Tuesday time again and the question this week is as follows:

When it comes to navigation in unfamiliar territory, do you shun technology, relying on traditional maps and written directions, or do you leave the atlas behind letting GPS and Google Maps guide the way?

We always have a road atlas on hand when we go on road trips to get an overall idea of the route, mileage, etc. When I plan trips (I do the planning, Dale does the driving!), I use a road map so I can map out where to go and how to get there. That way, we can wend our way through a state and see a number of things without having to backtrack. I use the Internet as well as guide books to plan where to go.

However, we use the car’s GPS system (in my car; in his car, we use Google maps on his phone) when we are on the road to make sure we don’t get lost.

This is good because Dale and I have had arguments in the past when we used paper maps – I would tell him to turn right but for whatever reason he turned left because he didn’t believe me. I WAS LOOKING AT THE DARN MAP!! And I was a good navigator too. But when walking, I tend to get mixed up using the GPS on my phone and am better off with a small paper map of the area. I’m thinking of the times we tried to find restaurants in Sao Paulo which were close to where we were staying but somehow the GPS disoriented us and we ended up going somewhere else we happened to find when we were lost getting to the place we were looking for. In Tel Aviv, we stood on a street corner with the phone GPS in hand, arguing about which way we were supposed to go to get back to our hotel after exploring a shopping mall.

I don’t have that problem with road maps or most of the time with the GPS in my car. However, we have gotten lost when the GPS didn’t know the way! Once we were going from Highland Park to Highwood, two north suburbs in the Chicago metro area very close to each other, but the GPS led us way out of the way and after driving for about 20 miles, I said, “I don’t think this is right.” My sister had said the restaurant where we were meeting was five minutes from the place we were coming from. It wasn’t a brand new street address, either, so I don’t know what “Jeanie” (which is what we named the GPS voice on my car) was thinking. The only other problem with GPS systems is that we may enter an address, the official address of the place, but we end up on a busy street with a wall next to us, and we know the place we are going is behind that wall, but where is the entrance?? The entrance is not always the same as the address.

Therefore, I recommend having a paper map if possible as well as the GPS. Locally, the GPS usually gets us where we need to go, even if sometimes Dale takes what he thinks is a shorter way (and turns out usually to be wrong). And imagine if something happens to the phone or the car and technology isn’t available? This can happen in remote areas when there is spotty Wifi service, and then the GPS may not work at all.

My favorite GPS system is Waze.

Wazeopedia - For the Community, By the Community

It’s a free app for your phone and works best when there are two people in the car – one to drive and the other to look at Waze. People can input problems they encounter on a road – police in vicinity, car on side of the road, traffic jams, etc. It also identifies red light cameras so you can follow the speed limit when you are near one! I recommend it for anyone who does a lot of city driving. You can earn points and eventually choose your own Waze avatar!

It’s much less nerve-wracking to have a GPS in the car one is driving than depending on a map and nowadays we can usually count on any rental car we get having one. The GPS in our rental in France was great, once we figured out how to use it – it was very counterintuitive and each time we got it right, we couldn’t remember what we did the next time we got into the car! That GPS voice was British and announced everything in meters and kilometers, of course, but I loved her – we dubbed her “Eleanor.”

Syrup or Sirup?

In downstate* Illinois, along Route 66, is the little town of Funks Grove, known primarily for its maple syrup (sorry – it’s sirup!). This small place near the beginning (or end, depending on where you start) of Route 66 is a little over two hours’ drive southwest from Chicago, about 146 miles.

Since we started our Route 66 tour in L.A., this place was near the end of our route. It is the subject of my contribution to Becky’s January Square Up Photo Challenge today. This sign inside the little store tells the story of why it’s spelled sirup instead of syrup.


License plate of the owner’s car!

The sirup produced here is pure and there are a variety of selections. We bought a bottle of the original as well as a bottle mixed with brandy! Both were yummy!

*In Illinois, and especially in metro Chicago, “downstate” is everywhere in Illinois that is not in the Chicago metro area! (Even Rockford, which is due west, is considered “downstate.”)

Truthful Tuesday: Hobbies & Obsessions

Truthful Tuesday

Welcome to another edition of PCGuyIV’s Truthful Tuesday! Here is the question for this week:
With the exception of blogging (assuming it’s a hobby and not your profession), do you have any unique hobbies or pastimes?

UNIQUE?? Hmmm….I don’t think any of my hobbies are particularly unique. I like to write, draw, blog, read, garden…these are not exactly unique.

I thought of the collections I have. I do have several collections: cats (images, figurines, etc. – I always try to buy a cat sculpture when I travel), Mexican alebrijes (little figurines of animals, carved out of wood and intricately painted), creches (Nativity scenes – I have about eight of them so far, from different cultures), photo albums (I used to make them by hand, now I do it on Shutterfly – and for what? They take up room and when I die, no one will want them and they’ll get thrown away – but this year I love them because we can’t travel due to the coronavirus and it’s nice to look at the albums I worked so hard on when it’s cold and dreary – like today – I can “travel” back in time), “refrigerator” magnets (which are not on my refrigerator, they’re on my file cabinets – I buy magnets everywhere I travel), and it looks like I will soon have a collection of unique face masks!

A collection of some of my animal figurines

I decided to ask my husband, who always thinks of things I never come up with. He said, “You’ve become an ancient Egyptophile” which is true! We went to Egypt two years ago and since then I’ve developed an obsession with ancient Egypt. I made two photo albums on Shutterfly (because I had too many photos I wanted to include for only one), I have researched historical fiction about ancient Egypt and bought a lot of books from Amazon, as cheaply as possible, because most are no longer available at libraries. Libraries tend to cull books that were written over twenty years ago and not in demand any longer, unless they are classics. Apparently ancient Egypt was a fad in the 1990s, because nearly all the books I’ve gotten were written at that time, and most of the authors haven’t written anything new. (I vaguely remember my mother getting all excited about “King Tut” because items found in the tomb of Tutankhamun were in a traveling exhibit at museums around the world – perhaps that’s when it was.)

One of the thrones found in Tutankhamun’s tomb

I also subscribe to the online Ancient History Encyclopedia, where I look up things I want more background about, and I’ve even made lists of the pharaohs, women rulers in ancient Egypt, and timelines. Actually, I have recently become interested in ancient history in general, which I never studied in high school or college. The Egyptian civilization is the oldest of all of those long gone civilizations, and it lasted three thousand years, more than any other, I think. It is amazing that we have been able to learn so much about them. They left so many writings, monuments that contain writing, tombs that have been preserved for centuries. They were a proud, egocentric people, and did want to leave behind their life histories for posterity. We know quite a bit about their customs and culture, but of course there are many gaps and lots of speculation. Every so often, some archaeologist uncovers something new that sheds light on a missing piece. Tutankhamen, for example, was not an important or long-lived pharaoh. His reign started when he was 10 and he died at 19. He is so well-known to us because his was one of the very few tombs that was found intact due to its location underneath another tomb. There used to be a lot of speculation that “the boy king” was murdered, but in the 2000s, they did a DNA test on his mummy and found that he died of malaria. At least, that’s what our Egyptologist guide told us.

Statues of female pharaoh, Hatshepsut, at her mortuary temple. She ruled for 20 years, but preferred to be depicted as a man in her statuary.

I wonder if two millennia from now, what will be left over of our civilization that people in the future will be interested in? Everything nowadays is so fleeting, temporary – much of what we’ve written and done will be lost; we don’t build many monuments these days, and everything we buy is not made to last. If we don’t destroy the planet before then, perhaps someone in that far distant future will find elements of our cultures that they will try to piece together.

We have an expression when we want to say something is not a strict rule: “It’s not written in stone.” That describes our attitude today, I think! The ancients, however, DID write in stone! We have sent samples of our culture out into space for extraterrestrials to find. But who will find us? And will they want to?

I realize I’ve strayed far from the question, but it’s more of a justification for this obsessive “hobby.” I don’t know how long it will last, but it’s definitely Covid-19 driven! Lots of time to read and immerse myself in the lives of people – real and fictional – who lived along the Nile River several millennia ago! It makes the time we are stuck at home a lot more interesting.

Kinda Square: Markets

I’m back after a bit of a hiatus from blogging and participating in this challenge, so this time I’m including multiple photos for Becky’s October KindaSquare challenge, because there are many different KINDs of markets around the world!