For the last day of Becky’s April Bright Squares, this is a (double) rainbow, a perfect and complete arc that we were treated to yesterday evening at 7:00 after a brief storm blew through our area. Afterward, just about all my friends that live around here posted their rainbow photos on Facebook! I mean, WOW! This was a spectacular sight! A fitting end to a very BRIGHT month! Thank you, Becky!
This is my first time participating in Hammad Rais’s Weekend Sky challenge!
It’s been a bit difficult to capture the sunset where we live – our house faces north and a row of houses blocks the western sky. But before Daylight Savings started, I would take walks in the late afternoon and sometimes be lucky to capture a beautiful sunset. These were taken on March 5, when the ponds were still partially frozen and remnants of February snows still remained.
Day 19: Mail I almost always send holiday cards through the mail. Usually they are late, but this year I’ve mailed them all before Christmas! I order my cards from Shutterfly and couldn’t imagine what to send in this coronavirus year! The one I chose was amusing & appropriate, I thought – it just said “Well, That was CRAZY! Happy 2021 (finally)”. It included four photos, one a selfie of me and Dale in masks, one of Hazel, our cat, and two scenic. (I am unable to copy and paste it here and I used up all the cards!) I had Shutterfly print our return address on the back of the envelope, so sending them was easy! I only had to add my half-page letter, address, stamp, seal, and mail!
Day 20: Toys
Day 21: Snow We haven’t had any (yet)! But here are some photos from last winter.
Day 22: Night Last night, for the first time in 800 years, Saturn and Jupiter were to line up in the night sky, and we would see them as one brightish light near the horizon. We were going to go to a park after dark to look at this phenomenon, but alas! It was cloudy!
What I like about night at Christmas time is all the holiday lights that brighten up the darkness when the days are short and the sun sets before 4:30 p.m.!
What’s the tallest building you’ve been to the top of? Sears Tower (now officially Willis Tower, but Chicagoans still call it Sears Tower) – 104 floors! I went up by elevator but my 78-year-old brother-in-law climbs the stairs to the top once a year! Amazing!
What do you do to keep fit? Not enough, especially now with Covid + cold weather. I try to walk every day or most days. I try to get to the fitness center as often as allowed (3 days a week, 1/2 hour a day) and usually choose the stationary bike. I’m starting a new fitness program from New Zealand (called “Otago”) tomorrow for “older adults” to help with balance and reduce risk of falling. It has several types of exercises to be done each day.
What’s your jack-o-lantern carved to look like? I haven’t carved one in several years, for three reasons: 1. I’m really lousy at this and usually just was able to carve a rudimentary face with triangular eyes and smiling mouth with a couple of teeth sticking out. 2. My son is grown and moved out, and I’m retired from teaching, so there’s no incentive to do it. My husband has no interest. 3. When I used to put jack-o-lanterns on my front porch, either the squirrels got them or kids who had a thing about “smashing pumpkins” (isn’t there even a rock group with that name?) would steal them and smash them in the street.
Do you have hope or have you lost it? Bad day to ask (Monday, although I posted this Tuesday) – it has been a very depressing day in the news. On days like this, my heart feels heavy and I feel completely hopeless. Normally, I am fairly positive about life. *The U.S. Supreme Court now has a conservative majority of 6-3 thanks to the hypocrisy of the Republican Senate who pushed through Trump’s ultra-right-wing nominee one week before the election, when people have already been voting early all over the country. The Supreme Court is so politicized now, it’s no longer functioning as a “check” on the other branches of government! *Cases will be coming before this Supreme Court within weeks that may possibly take us backward by making abortion illegal and repealing the best health care system we’ve ever had (ACA, also known as “Obamacare”) with nothing to replace it and people dying every day from coronavirus. *Another fallout from this is the increased possibility of an election decided by the Supreme Court in Trump’s favor. If the presidential election is close, if Biden wins by a small margin, Trump will surely intervene to contest the results. He’s been saying for weeks that the “Supreme Court will decide the election!” He’s polling at 43-45% nationally, way too high for comfort, in my opinion. If the Democrats don’t win a majority in the Senate, it won’t matter if Biden is elected president – they will block every legislation from the House and override the president’s veto on their (Republicans’) legislation. On the other hand, if the Dems take the Senate, they will play hardball with the GOP in the Senate and with Trump if he is (God forbid) reelected. There are several Senate races that are very close and it is possible the Democrats will win, but they also have to retain every seat they currently hold! *Today or yesterday Trump signed an executive order in which loyalty will be considered when deciding whether to hire applicants for federal government jobs. Disloyalty will be cause for dismissal. An official from some obscure government agency quit today because of this, and wrote a letter which was released to the press stating his reason for quitting. We are moving dangerously close to a dictatorship. *Then there’s the new spike in coronavirus cases, which seems to be happening everywhere, but in this country especially. Today it was announced officially that the Trump administration’s policy toward Covid-19 is to do nothing to stop or curb it, and just wait for a vaccine. Trump has been lying about that too, saying the vaccine will be available “in a matter of a few weeks.” He’s also saying “we’re turning the corner” when there are more cases than ever and some hospitals’ ICUs are filled to capacity. *Due to the spike in cases in our area, the governor has imposed new restrictions, including no more indoor dining at restaurants. This is sad for me because weekly lunches with friends have been my only chance to see them and I looked forward to it every week. I’m not saying the governor was wrong to do this, but it is hard especially now that the weather is getting colder. *It snowed today, earlier even than last year when we had snow on Halloween. It quickly melted, but I had to get out my winter coats, which turned out to have been mildewed during their storage in a bag at the top of my closet! Meteorologists are predicting lower than normal temperatures in the next couple of weeks, with a few days respite in between.
Feel free to share something you’re grateful for! Images and photos or poems, essays or free writing (stream of consciousness) pieces are all acceptable! AND you don’t have to do this part, it’s always optional! Two things! 1. Some former art teachers are forming an art class, mostly people from our art class that was discontinued last spring. It starts tomorrow, so I’m looking forward to it! 2. The fall colors have been very beautiful this year, much better than the last few years. Here are a few photos I have taken on our campus recently:
On a cold day in December in Arlington Heights, IL, a flock of Canada geese walked on frozen pond…
There was no sitting on a bench on a snowy day at the end of October (and on that day it was warmer in Anchorage, Alaska than it was in Chicago!)…
Overall, though, it has been a mild winter so far in Midwestern USA.
While only five months before, there was a heat wave in Europe and in Vienna, people lined up for water.
Our Viennese guide pumped water from a hydrant.
Preparing this post has made me think of climate change, which is upon us all, as we enter a new decade. 2019 broke records for heat worldwide, as had each of the previous three years, and in the early summer of 2019, at least, this heatwave was acutely felt in Europe where people are not used to air conditioning. Later in July, a second heatwave swept across Europe, where the temperature in Paris soared to an unprecedented 43ºC (109ºF). In recent weeks, out of control fires due to hot, dry conditions have plagued southeastern Australia, where koalas are falling out of trees severely dehydrated and many have died if not immediately rescued. And all the while, ice is melting at both poles. Climate change is an existential threat to all living things on this planet. There’s no denying the facts of science. All nations need to take strong action now.
In mid November, I was walking around our campus on a frigid day, and noticed some blobs on one of our frozen ponds. From a distance with the naked eye, it looked like ducks frozen in place with their heads sticking out of the water. Of course, I knew it couldn’t be that – probably clods of dirt, but how did they get into the middle of the pond?
I didn’t have my camera with its zoom lens with me, just my cellphone, so I took a couple of pictures, which basically reproduced what I was seeing with my own eyes. It didn’t get me any closer to figuring out WHAT was on that frozen pond.
Here’s the image I took with my Samsung Galaxy:
What I found curious is that the blobs all had white streaks behind them, as if there was something just below the frozen surface.
I walked home as quickly as possible to get my husband and my camera. It was close to sundown already and I didn’t know if the phenomenon would still be there the next day, since the temperature was supposed to rise above freezing, so I suggested we drive over to the pond (which Dale calls “Swan Lake” when the swans are on it). We both brought our cameras and stood on the bank near the water’s edge. I fitted my zoom lens onto my Sony and magnified it to 300mm, the highest it would go. In the tiny image I could see on the viewfinder, I still couldn’t tell what it was.
Now, a couple of weeks later, I’ve finally gotten around to downloading the photos I took that day onto my computer. Here’s what I discovered:
The blobs were clumps of wet leaves that had blown into the pond just as it was freezing, creating the effect we saw. The white streaks around the clumps seem to indicate that due to the leaves, the freeze was slightly thinner in those spots; perhaps a few leaves had frozen just below the surface.
Meanwhile, here is another cellphone photo I took that day, of the other pond on campus. I liked the wavy ridges that appeared on its frozen surface.
Stream of Consciousness Saturday is a weekly writing challenge hosted by blogger Linda G. Hill. There is a simple prompt or theme and you just write whatever comes into your head – no editing! Except typos. I rarely participate in Stream of Consciousness Saturday, but as I was reading other participants’ contributions, I decided to try it. When I read the prompt – “dream” – my mind immediately began thinking of song lyrics. Also vacations.
Somebody spoke and I went into a dream.Dream a little dream of me.Dre-e-e-eam, dream, dream, dream.Michigan seems like a dream to me now. All of these phrases from songs came into my head when I thought about dream. Perhaps it’s because I’ve just done a post for Song Lyrics Sunday and have listened to a lot of songs. I personally dream of taking a trip to somewhere warm, far from this frigid Midwestern November. Today would have been my ex-husband’s 70th birthday, but he died at 54, and our relationship seems like only a dream to me now. I read old journals and look at old pictures of us together and I can’t believe I ever loved that man and whether I did or not, I spent 20 years with him. Ironically, he was born and raised in a tropical country but hated the heat – and was always willing to go out and shovel snow! I, who was born and raised in Wisconsin, have had quite enough of snow and cold.
Michigan seems like a dream to me now – I don’t have many memories of Michigan but the sentiment is how I feel about the past. Past relationships, past destinations, they are all dreams to me now. I am still blogging about our trip to Europe last summer even though that too seems like a dream. It no longer seems real – but the pictures tell me it was. I enjoy immersing myself in those memories. It’s hard to imagine now that while we were there, Europe had a heat wave that to us Midwestern Americans felt like a normal summer, but the Europeans normally don’t have such hot weather. Hot weather – that too is a dream as I sense how cold my hands are typing this. My present is what I live every day and dreams are what enter my mind at night. I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas – well, yes, but I never dream of a white November! Maybe after Christmas, a trip to somewhere warm might be nice! One can always dream!!
Fotunately, the snow itself is practically only a dream now: for a few days, nothing melted because of below freezing temperatures, but now, nearly a week later, only small patches of snow remain to remind us of our Veteran’s Day snowstorm!
Lens-Artists’ weekly photo challenge #70 has the topic monochrome. Monochrome can be either black & white or varying hues of the same color.
Normally, to create a black & white photo, I use my photo software to change it from color to B&W, since I do virtually all my photography in color. In this photo, however, I didn’t have to. It was after dark and the tree was lit from the side, so I got this spooky effect.
There was not much color in the original of this photo, either, but I did have to modify it to be completely monochrome. It was taken on Halloween, when we had an early snowfall, accumulating to over 3 inches! Fortunately, it is gone now.
This photo is a detail from the top of a box, created by a resident of our senior community.
While many of the flowers we saw in the gardens of the historic bishop’s palace in Wurzburg, Germany, were bright and colorful, it was clear these sunflowers were being affected by the heat wave that had lasted for over a week in late June. The heat wave ended up lasting for about two weeks, with no relief in the form of rain. Every day was sunny and cloudless, and HOT.
Temperatures that would be considered normal for much of the United States in the summer are rare in Europe, where summer temperatures are usually in the 70s (well under 30ºC). The wilted look of this sunflower is how many of us felt!