Square & Bright: Cars So Bright

Becky’s chosen a cheery topic for her April Squares challenge: anything bright, however you interpret it!

Earlier today, we took a walk and I noticed my neighbor, Gail, had been out for a spin in her red Mustang – her “lady toy” – because it was sitting in the driveway.

My own car is in our driveway (we only have a one-car garage), and today, looking at the sun reflected on the hood, I saw not one, but TWO suns! How did that happen?!

On a sadder note, our fitness director quit, and her last day was Tuesday. Several residents from our community lined the street in front of the gatehouse to say good-bye. Although she was crying (her mood wasn’t bright and sunny), her car certainly is – mustard yellow?

February Month of “Lurve” – #16-20

Whoa! I have five days to catch up on this challenge, Paula’s February Love Me!

Feb. 16: I love…my house. We moved here in August 2019, a compact, pristine little house (it’s actually a duplex) waiting for us. Everything is new & modern, nothing is malfunctioning (and if it does, we call maintenance who comes to fix it right away and we don’t have to pay for it), there are no stairs, we have a tiny screened porch and a patio with an elevated plot next to it where we can plant whatever we want, and adequate storage space. I think this house is the most satisfying thing about living in this senior community. I was so sick of our old house – nearly 100 years old, it had old plumbing, poor water pressure in the shower, and three levels. The washer & dryer were in the basement, and our bedroom was on the second floor. Now when I want to wash clothes, I just go from my bedroom to the washer & dryer unit off my kitchen. There was always something going wrong at our old house and we had to replace the roof twice. We don’t need to worry about any of that here!

Of course, we had to get rid of a lot of stuff, but I didn’t mind that. It was good to downsize!! The only drawback is having only a one-car garage, so one of us has to park in the driveway.

We live in the house on the left – the red Subaru is Dale’s.
View from the window of our second bedroom, which we use as our entertainment center – TV and computers are here.

Feb. 17: I love…my family. I grew up with three sisters and one brother, and both parents. We were not a dysfunctional family, we got along for the most part. My brother was really mean to me when we were children, and my oldest sister was kind of bossy too, but still we were a remarkably cohesive family. Now my parents are deceased, one of my sisters is also deceased, but we all have kids, and most have grandkids. I love and cherish my large extended family!

Our daughter gave us this photo in a frame. These are the members of my family who were there. But there are many more.
This photo was taken in 2007 (also in a frame) when we gathered to celebrate my mother’s 90th birthday. She is in the middle of the first row, wearing a black & teal outfit.

Feb. 18: I love…my knickknacks. I have a lot of small figurines and other knickknacks that I have accumulated during my travels, or sometimes they were gifts. I have a lot more than pictured below!

Still life of five random things I have collected over the years! In back is a little round box that opens into a traditional neighborhood scene, from Cuba; at left is a black clay turtle, which also has a whistle; and a Mexican alebrije – a seal made from copal wood and then brightly painted with beautiful designs! On the right is a circle of Peruvian figures made from clay and painted in traditional dress; and a snake I bought at a craft fair, because I just liked it.
Maybe you have seen a meme on social media of a cutout photo of Bernie Sanders at Biden’s Inauguration, placed in other photos. He was sitting near the back and was hugging himself in the cold. A friend crocheted this figure of Bernie for me. She also makes mittens (full size, that you can wear!). Bernie Sanders himself has capitalized on his meme by having it printed on T-shirts for sale; all the proceeds go to Meals on Wheels of Vermont.
This is Josephine (Josefina), a javelina made out of metal by an artist in Tucson, Arizona. I am doing a series of photos with Josephine in various random locations. Here she is on my piano keyboard! (A javelina is a type of wild pig native to Southwestern USA.)

Feb. 19: I love…coloring. A few years ago, there started to be coloring books for adults on the market. They were promoted as being relaxing. You can find coloring books of anything from scenes from Outlander to Cats with Hats to Amazing Mandalas and geometric designs. It is really calming, so I tend to do it while watching the news! I bought several sets of gel pens, which are my favorite medium for coloring, but I also use colored pencils a lot – which are good for doing shading in the pictures – and markers. I like experimenting with different color combinations and it also helps me to color small details without going outside the lines – a good practice for when I need a steady hand for doing water colors or drawings. Here is a sampling:

Feb. 20: I love…walking. Walking is my favorite type of exercise. I like walking outside especially, because I can appreciate the nature around me, and it’s possible to find small things to admire, something I can’t do if I’m riding a bike, for example. I walk in any season as long as the weather isn’t too cold – it’s really the wind that keeps me inside!

On the walking path of our campus, a few days ago.
On our campus – I liked the shape of this autumn foliage!
At Cuba Marsh in spring
Duck on a pond with water lilies, at Chicago Botanic Gardens last July

WWE #27: West Lake Tales

A lot of my photos lately (only with my cell phone, unfortunately – I don’t generally take my big camera on walks with me) have been taken at “West Lake” – which is more of a pond, but here at our senior community it is called a lake. In these pandemic times, the most active scene around here is at West Lake (and sometimes East Lake, which is even smaller), with a variety of water birds engaged in their daily activities, oblivious to pandemics, lockdowns, and social distancing.

If you watch long enough, or happen to be there at the right time, life dramas may unfold in front of your eyes.

About 10 days ago, staff members from our community “escorted” a duck family from a nearby school (where apparently the duck goes to nest every year, only this year, no one is there to provide food and water for her & her chicks) to our campus.  I wasn’t there to witness this, so I don’t know how many ducklings there were at the time, but by the time I saw them, there were merely two wee ducklings – and they were REALLY small! I took this photo of the little family and was surprised to see daddy duck still hanging around, which isn’t common for ducks. The tragedy is that, while I haven’t seen them lately, I’ve been told there is only ONE duckling now!
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There is actually what I call a “bachelor club” of drake mallards, about 7 or 8 of them, since the females are off nesting somewhere.  So perhaps we can look forward to seeing more duck families soon.

We also had two families of Canada geese – here is one of them. Note Sidney (“Duke” as he’s officially named), West Lake’s male swan, lurking nearby looking threatening.
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And here comes the drama – Sidney’s mate, Celina (“Duchess”) is currently sitting on her five eggs, which should hatch within a week from now, and Sidney is determined to claim the entire lake as their own.  Here he is chasing one of the geese out of the pond.
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Unfortunately, the above family met a tragic end – Sidney killed every one of their goslings! Another walker from our community told us she had seen him kill one of the babies. And we saw one of the bodies floating in the water…

Although Canada geese are a nuisance, I was glad to see that there is another family on campus, which wisely hangs around East Lake, where the swans (who are not nesting parents-to-be) leave them alone.

We often see one or another of two visitors to the lake – a heron and an egret.
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Dale and I had a discussion about whether the above was an egret or a heron. I thought it was too large to be an egret, but Dale said its color and black legs indicate it is an egret. It turns out we were both right – egrets are a type of heron, and this is evidently a member of the “Great White Egret” species.
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This is unmistakably a great blue heron, and it often visits our lakeshore.  We try to be very quiet to get close, but both the heron and the egret always fly away to the other side of the lake before we get very near.
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I suppose I will have to tough it out and lug my camera around with me, since the cygnets should be arriving very soon!

Photos by Jez’s Water, Water Everywhere challenge

 

SYW: On Baking Cakes, Sandwiches, Sunshine and Gratitude

It’s Monday, which means a new set of questions in Melanie’s Share Your World.

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QUESTIONS:
Can you bake a cake?
I can, but I don’t. I think I have baked a cake only once or twice in my life. There are lots of places where I can buy really good cakes which is a lot less work for me! I also know many good cake bakers whose cakes are delicious! They enjoy doing it, so why not indulge them? Also, I prefer ice cream cakes, and I don’t know how to make those (except to put a scoop of ice cream on top of a piece of cake!).

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One of my favorite cakes – molten chocolate lava cake!

What’s one thing that can instantly make your day better?
20190421_133315Sunshine and warm temperatures! When I can wear a lighter jacket…take a walk in the neighborhood…look for signs of spring, like buds on trees and green plants beginning to push up out of the ground (I am seeing small buds, but nothing coming up out of the ground yet.)

We have had a mild winter, which is fine with me. I wish every winter were like this one. Thinking that makes me feel a little guilty – I’m basically advocating for climate change, and I know that winters like this are not what is best for our Midwestern ecosystem. But if it were up to me, I would never have lived in this area – I much prefer warmer climates. Instead, because there hasn’t been enough freeze, there were probably be lots of bugs around here this summer. On the other hand, every season has its beauty – even the winter. When there’s been a fresh snowfall, I ideally would like to dash out and take a few splendid photographs, then go back inside and read by the fire.

When you were a kid, did you eat the crusts on your sandwich or not?
Yes, I did. Sometimes the crust is the best part!

What’s something your family would be surprised to learn about you?
I have never liked answering this question. I really don’t know, because my life is pretty much an open book. So I think and think and try to come up with some stupid thing, but it ends up that I’ve already told someone that already.

AND (of course)

GRATITUDE IS AN ATTITUDE!
Please feel free to share some gratitude from this past week (or month or year). This is purely optional of course, but it does tend to uplift everyone (I happen to think) to read some happy and/or joyful thoughts or view some uplifting pictures. Thank you if you do so!
The other day, it was mild enough to take a long walk outside. My husband suggested we walk the “back 9” of a golf course nearby that he will soon be playing. It was a nice long walk, so I got some good exercise. Here’s a photo I took at the golf course.
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I am grateful for the excellent rehab program where my son willingly spent 28 days. He seems to be on a much more even keel now, and he is eating normally, which he didn’t when he was using. He had lost weight and now is gaining some of it back (he’s not a large person to begin with!). Right now he has the medications he needs for his footprintsfooterlogodepression and anxiety, which help a lot. He has the basic services he needs. And recently, he transferred stocks he had held for many years – my parents had bought them to pay for college, but he didn’t complete college – into an investment portfolio with monthly dividends. I feel much less anxiety about him now, knowing that he is trying to get his life back together and that at least he has the money he needs to survive, but not enough that he won’t need to get a job. He’s working on getting a job, but meanwhile, he has what he needs.

Melk Abbey and Town

July  5, 2019

Today we docked at Melk, a town on the Danube known for its abbey, which sits on a cliff overlooking the town. A bus drove us up the hill to tour the abbey.

The Benedictine abbey was founded in 1089. A monastic school was established in the 12th century and the library soon became renowned for its extensive collection of manuscripts.

The Baroque abbey seen today was built between 1702 and 1736. Particularly noteworthy are the frescoes painted by Austrian artist Johann Michael Rottmayr and the medieval manuscript collection which includes a famous collection of music manuscripts.
20190705_093156 Frescoes in the library were painted by Paul Troger, distinguished by their pastel colors and dramatic sense of movement. We could not take photos inside the abbey but I took many of the exterior, with its views of the town and beautiful gardens.
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The abbey managed to escape a series of threats, such as dissolution under Emperor Joseph II when many other abbeys were seized and dissolved between 1780 and 1790, because of its fame and academic stature; and during the Napoleonic Wars. When Austria was incorporated into Nazi Germany in 1938, the school and a large part of the abbey were taken over by the state.

The school was returned to the jurisdiction of the abbey after World War II and it continues in operation to this day, with an enrollment of 900 students of both genders.

Melk Abbey has been mentioned or featured in several works of literature and films.

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Bad Ischl clock (c. 1810), made entirely from 10 kinds of wood, including pear, walnut, beech, linder, maple, ash, oak, Scotch pine, larch, and European spindle tree. After repairs in 1970, some metal parts were installed, such as the middle spring and middle bar.

Entryways (aka doorways)…

Looking down on the entrance to the abbey…

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Scattered around the gardens were whimsical sculptures of animals.

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Abbey mascot? I found this friendly Manx cat just chillin’ in the front courtyard of the abbey. She didn’t appear at all fazed by the crowds of tourists. I speculated that her home was one of the houses that are located on the hill just below the abbey.
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By the time I saw this cat, I had determined to walk back to the ship – it was all downhill and I could use the exercise. Dale didn’t want to walk, however, so I left him to take the bus back.

I was looking forward to taking a lot of photos of the town, which I did, but in the end, I got lost and ended up having to ask for directions and backtrack to get back to the ship.

On my way downhill, meanwhile, I saw restaurants and small patios wedged between houses on the hillside.
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As I descended, I passed through the main commercial area, lined with restaurants and tourist shops. And one shop that sold lederhosen!
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And there were a few interesting doors, to satisfy Norm’s Thursday Doors aficionados…
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Flower-decorated balconies…
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Sculptures and installations…
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The Tower of Babel at the Sommerspiele Melk, made of approximately 30,000 Bioblo building blocks.

Close-up of Bioblo blocks (including Bioblo doors! 😉 )
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Finally, I reached the bar/restaurant/souvenir shop where we had gathered to get on the bus at the beginning of the tour. (When I saw it, I remembered it…”Oh, yeah!!”)
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From behind this building, it was a short hike along the river dock back to the ship! What a relief!