Thursday, June 29, 2006
Yup! It's that time for our annual drive to the Hart Family Cottage in Michigan for the Fourth of July holiday reunion. Yaaaay!
Donica, Amy, Nicholas and I (sans Mark, who had to change plans at the last minute) will leave in a rented mini-van around 6p this evening, driving through the night the 850 miles from Atlanta to Horseshoe Lake.
We always stop outside of Chattanooga, TN, to pick up the prerequisite fireworks for our Big Bang night (probably Sunday this year). We always switch off drivers (and sleeping). We always stop at the cemetery to honor Mom and Dad. And we always stop at the roadside fish shop near the lake to pick up smoked whiting. Even Nicholas knows this is a Tradition.
Once there, we'll be totally in R&R mode. No Internet connection (except minimally on Donica's laptop for work--no rest for the weary!). No blogging. No e-mailing. Just lots of gabbing, resting, watching, absorbing, eating, laughing, reading, swimming, playing, taking pics...and BEING.
Anyway, happy holiday wishes to everyone who celebrates July 4th or any other such event this weekend. God willing and the creek don't rise, we'll be back on the 4th.
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
Then I get to the heart of the matter! Each and every time I ask myself the same question: what's the point of all this fuzz?! What's it there for?
So, of course, I had to do my research! Did you know that this globe variety is one of 3 types of artichokes in the daisy family Asteraceae (which is our first clue) and is a species of thistle (our second clue). That layer of "delicate feathery growth crowning the heart" is the thistle--the immature florets--fibrous and inedible and, if you're not careful, can get everywhere, making quite a mess.
But ahhhh. When you get to that feathery mess, YOU know what comes next: THE HEART OF THE MATTER. So I've decided that THAT is definitely the point of the thistle! To let you know, after all the effort, that you have finally arrived.
I'm guessing there's a Life Lesson there somewhere!
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Now I realize why in soccer and T-ball seasons thus far there's no scoring for his age group. These kids can't handle losing yet. It's supposed to be about PLAYING, of course. Learning and finessing the game. Everybody wins/loses when there's no score (have you noticed?).
So when do athletes "get over" losing? Do they ever? What about these World Cup games right now. We hoot and holler when "our" team wins; what a let-down when they lose. You should see me when it comes to Michigan football, though I've actually become much more blasé about it by now. This is BIG STUFF if you're fanatical about sports.
BTW, Nicholas is not usually shirtless, so you'll appreciate this sidebar. He had just tried on a black Hard Rock Cafe t-shirt from Oslo that Donica had brought home for him. His first question once he saw it (with some cool, crazy guitar player on it) was, "Mommy, when does school start?" Amy needed him to take it off right away so she could wash it and have it ready for our trip to Michigan on Thursday. He was then shirtless the rest of the evening!
Some things you just can't top. I guess winning is one of them. Hmm. At what age do we learn about Win-Win situations? Or does that ever happen in sports, just by the nature of the game!
Monday, June 26, 2006
But for now, here's Stockholm. Besides the coming-and-going shots as we sailed in and out, this Stockholm album is divided into two main parts: Gamla Stan (the Old Town) and the City Hall, which hosts the Nobel Prize banquet every December 10.
Upstairs from the Blue Hall (which is not in fact blue, but was originally planned to be painted so), along one side of the wall (the Blue Hall is high-ceilinged and has nothing above it), is the Golden Hall, pictured above. It's adorned by more than 18 million crystal and gold mosaic pieces featuring motifs alluding to the history of Sweden. It's also where the dance is held after the banquet! The date of the banquet, BTW, is always held on December 10, the anniversary of Alfred Nobel's death.
All of the above took place on a 3-hour morning tour, to be followed in the afternoon by a canal boat tour. You don't want to know how it happened that we totally messed up and missed that excursion (so don't ask!). But because it was raining and we were already tired, it was probably for the best. The Stockholm album already has 190 pics. Thank God we didn't make the canal tour, right?!
Once again, enjoy! (Remember that you can just look at the thumbnails and then pick-n-choose any you might want to enlarge.)
Sunday, June 25, 2006
Here's the list of the top 25 nouns: time, person, year, way, day, thing, man, world, life, hand, part, child, eye, woman, place, work, week, case, point, government, company, number, group, problem, fact [emphasis mine].
Notice that 4 words related to time are in that top-25 list.
Hmm. So now the question I ask myself: is it TIME I'm obsessed with when I take these pics or is it the "structure" of time?
Friday, June 23, 2006
The pics in the Copenhagen album ("only" 148 this time--better than 225!) are essentially in the order of the walk. We bought a book of the city and I've been able to label almost everything except the one big-steepled church that has no name (in the album, that is). I couldn't for the life of me find anything on the Internet that helped. Maybe Gustav knows?? [6/28 Yay! Gustav figured it out: it's the Nikolaj Kirke. This particular link will show you how huge it is!]
As you see, the entire day was overcast and rainy--the only day of the cruise with that much needed camera protection. I actually love skies with attitude. I even love the rain except for when it comes to taking pics. I did my best and rolled with the punches.
At the end of our canal tour, our little boat sailed alongside our ship and gave us a great vantage point for taking pics of our "home away from home." She's one pretty lady, I'll have to say! And here she is is, docked and holding steady till we left a few hours later.
Thursday, June 22, 2006
This week's Tuesdays Photos theme is DUCKS. And I had to drive 20 miles to find these! I had asked my hairdresser on Tuesday where I could find ducks and she told me of a little lake where they supposedly have hundreds of them--"all the different kinds that are so pretty," she said.
I say "supposedly" because you can't prove it by me! I did go but, in her defense, probably went at the wrong time. Ducks were nowhere to be found at 5p on that little lake. But I did finally find these two love birds who were hanging out in the shade by a dock. Made the whole trip worth it!
Speaking of love birds, I pick Donica up at the airport today, back from Germany! Yaaaay! While we "put up" with our times apart, we hate when we're on different time zones. Arrgh.
In the meantime, who's gonna win the USA-Ghana soccer/football game in the next couple hours? You know how I feel about that Ghana team! I just may have to be a traitor for a day....
Addendum: I remembered a little ditty my brother Nelson used to repeat often. Here it is:
- C D E D B D ducks?
- M R not ducks!
- O S A R! C D E D B D wings?
- O I C M – M R ducks!
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
Okay! This wasn't my initial plan for the retelling, pictorially, of our recent cruise, but I've decided to do this piecemeal as each photo album is finished. It'll be easier for you, if you want to take a look, rather than having all 6 albums at once. And it'll give a break in-between albums. I do NOT expect anyone to go through all the photos because there are too many. This Oslo album alone is 225 pics! My suggestion is to open each album as it comes and just scan the thumbnails or pick-n-choose what you want to see. This is really more for Donica and me, as a memory of our trip.
We first went to the Holmenkollen Ski Jump (on our shore excursion) and got a panoramic view of the city. But from there we immediately went to Vigeland Park, the culprit for so many of my photos. I've chosen this one scupture to give you a taste of what this incredible artist (Gustav Vigeland,1869-1943) did in his lifetime. One section of the park is in granite sculptures and the other in bronze, depicting the cycle of life. On the 80 acres, there are 192 sculptures with more than 600 figures, all modeled in full size and all nude. I would go back to Oslo for this park alone. It absolutely stunned my Soul!
From the Vigeland Park we went to the Viking Museum, where you'll see a few pics of the 2 ships. Literally next door (we could have walked there!) was the Open-air Folk Museum where you'll see a whole set of buildings from various districts around the country, depicting what life was like hundreds of years ago. The Gol stave church,orginally built in 1200 AD, is the museum's greatest national treasure. The house pictured here, with grass on the roof, is a typical dwelling.
After our excursion, and while Donica headed off to the Hard Rock Cafe, I went back to the pier and did my own tour of the City Hall area at the neck of the port as well as of this Akershus Fortress across the street from where our ship was docked. It's the fortress that has never been conquered and was built circa 1300 AD. I actually took this photo from the balcony of our room on the 10th deck of the ship shortly after we docked in the morning. It made sense, then, to take pics of the ship from the fortress, which was just as fun, later in the afternoon.
One of my favorite photos of the time in Oslo was this one of these two girls at the fountain. I don't know if they're school girls or sisters but I like what they symbolize: standing side-by-side, both looking in the same direction, viewing the same thing. Whether it's all of us around the world watching the same soccer/football games, or the same world news, or the same full moon, I like that we are brought together by common threads that show how similar we are than different.
One last thing: I heard on the news last night that Norway has created a "doomsday vault" that will hold 3 million of the world's crop seeds, carved into a frozen mountainside. "Its purpose is to ensure the survival of crop diversity in the event of plant epidemics, nuclear war, natural disasters or climate change, and to offer the world a chance to restart growth of food crops that may have been wiped out."
I knew I loved Norway the second I laid my eyes on her! Enough reasons to last a lifetime!
Monday, June 19, 2006
Duh! Duh! Duh! Sometimes I amaze myself over what I DON'T notice.
AHA! Duh! So, putting two and two together, it appears that some countries indicate your mode of transportaion upon arriving. We rode the train from Germany into the Czech Republic last year when we visited Prague. And yes, I noticed the trains (for both countries) but still didn't put two and two together.
All our stamps coming back into the USA do NOT have a mode of transportation. Nor do our stamps into the UK. But France and Germany have the plane icons.
So, here's the question: if you DRIVE into the Czech Republic or another "icon country," does the stamp have a car? And if you WALK across the border, does it have a person? Ok, some of you who travel a lot, please get out your passport and check.
Inquiring minds want to know!
Sunday, June 18, 2006
Actually, gazing globes have been an important part of gardens, spiritually and aesthetically, since the 13th century (if you want to talk about dating something!). Even European kings chose them for their gardens as magical/mystical pieces, believed to "ward off bad things like disease, evil spirits, attackers, and even ghosts" or, in some legends, to keep the witches away from one’s home.
"It has been said that many kings from the regions of France to the Netherlands demanded gazing globes in their palace gardens. They were thought to have brought prosperity and good luck to any who owned one." Once they were a status symbol in America, signifying wealth and success. Now they're in gardens all over the world. So much for history!
Just for the halibut, if you want to see LOTS of "blue balls," click here (but be forewarned, there's noise). My son Mark, who's a computer programmer, sent this to me awhile back. He said, "It's easy to stare at this page for 10 minutes before you realize how much time has passed." (Hint: the pattern repeats itself 3 times vertically, so just stare at one third of the page.)
And then stare at the gazing globe, in case you have something to ward off!
Thursday, June 15, 2006
From the hotel we walked into Duesseldorf's Old Town where Matt took a shot of James and me with a tower from an old waterfront castle (on the Rhine River!) and the St. Lambertus Basilica in the background. See, James really ISN'T short. Matt is just really tall :)
All in all, we were together, walking around and eating lunch, for 2-1/2 hours. This astonished me because I found out that they, too, will be flying to the States tomorrow--to Miami. So they had miles to go before they sleep tonight. I really felt honored to have so much of their time!
I then walked around on my own for the next 2 hours, just before it started raining. Of all my photos (who, ME?!), I picked these to show you something unique about this lovely city. James says there are maybe 10 of these "statues" in the city that sit/stand atop kiosks. The first one, of the man with the camera, is right outside the train station! He's taking a picture of YOU when you walk out! As you can see, they are so life-like, you do a double-take! Seriously!
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
Today I start another circuitous route back to Atlanta from Hannover, this time via Duesseldorf by train this morning, arriving at noon. I meet up with James and his partner, M, at my Inter-City Hotel next to the train station, and from there will walk into Old Town for lunch together. Another blogger rendezvous! I then plan to spend the afternoon and evening exploring Duesseldorf before I go to bed and wake up tomorrow for my early flight to Atlanta.
In the meantime, World Cup fever is everywhere in Germany! Yesterday, while I waited for Christina outside the Hannover train station, Tunesia and Saudi Arabia fans were heating things up. After a little fan rally, they walked into the train station for their ride to Munich for their 6p match. By now we know it was a 2-2 draw.
Donica stays behind in Hannover, flying home next week. Her original ticket often gets changed for work but also gets paid by work! If I could have changed my ticket to coincide with hers, we'd be out almost $800 because of the World Cup shenaningans, instead of the typical $50-75 change-fee. Needless to say, we left things as they are!
Okay. See you soon from Atlanta, watching the World Cup there at much earlier hours than while in Germany!
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
Ghana, in white, started the game. I was quite amazed at myself because I think I probably saw 95% of all the plays! Usually I prefer watching sports on TV because I get so distracted by everything else in stadiums. But not this time. Our vantage point (in the yellow section--see ticket above) was so perfect at all times. I found myself glued to the ball. And my 12x optical zoom came in handy once again!
Here's my opinion: Ghana appeared to outplay Italy all over the field except at the goal, where it counts (alas!)! I found myself saying, "Come on, Ghana! Come on!" And did you hear the crowd yelling "Ghana! Ghana! Ghana!" more often than for Italy?! Don't know how this showed up on TV, but that's our perspective.
But Italy did in fact win, as you all know by now. I had thought I wanted them to win...then found myself really rooting for Ghana. Hard to explain it. It was just a feeling in the air. Maybe they WILL win one of their next games...maybe against the USA? (Not to be a traitor or anything!)
One of my favorite sights of the entire evening was this little girl having a total blast with her parents, kicking the ball back-n-forth at the FanFest area prior to the game. Like I always say about Nicholas, you have to begin somewhere...and sometime!
But maybe that was the point! Maybe that's what this is all about. The world coming together and making friends in such a way that we all end up entwined. And no racism!
Here's a little photo album (45 pics) of our most memorable night! Enjoy, if you want more.
And speaking of the world, I'm off now for a morning rendezvous in Hannover's Old Town with Christina. Tomorrow I start my trip home, via Duesseldorf, rendezvousing with James. I'm so lucky!!
Several of you have totally surprised me by wishing me Happy Birthday (in the comments of my last post) before I even woke up here in Hannover. You are awesome!! I have a big grin on my face. What a way to start my day. Thank you!
June 13, 1945. Yup. Sixty-one (61) smackeroos for moi!
BTW, Cristo and his wife, Jeanne-Claude, (of The Gates fame), were also born on June 13, but 10 years earlier. I get pretty giddy about that, since they're so soulful to me.
I also just found out from the ephemeris that I was born on a Wednesday. Never knew that.
Don't know if you've seen these fun magnets for the trivia related to your year of birth but here are both mine and Donica's, 13 years apart. Look at the difference between a gallon of gas AND milk...and between them then and now. Something seems terribly wrong with that picture. Were cows harder to come by than oil back then?? And now??
For me, age is a "handle" or a bridge in communication and learning about each other. I noticed that it was important to give you the ages of the special people on our cruise. Why? The only thing I can come up with is that it gives me an important context--of history, maturity, experience, expectation. Does that mean I stereotype people because of their age? I hope not.
Anyway, Happy Birthday again to all us Geminis. Soon it'll be you Cancers (Donica!) taking a bow.
[We dropped into bed at 11:57p last night after Italy's soccer win over Ghana. Yes, I took lots of pics and will save that post till tomorrow since...well, um...since only today's my birthday and soccer will be here forever, right?!]
Sunday, June 11, 2006
I had the same experience with weathervanes in Tallin, Estonia, though probably not as tall. If I had zoomed in on them more, I would have lost the entire length of the image details. Plus, it was a hazy day. But what a fun discovery at my finertips!
Friday, June 09, 2006
I'm sorry, but you just CAN'T be in Europe right now and NOT (yes, that's a double negative!) get into the World Cup 2006 football/fussball games starting today and lasting a month. Soccer by any other name.
When we left the London Stansted airport after our cruise on Wednesday, there were signs and photos and brochures and pamphlets everywhere. One brochure in particular was about Avoiding Penalties: "Nazi salutes are illegal and anyone caught making them will be arrested. Goose-stepping will get the same response. Keep your distance or move away from any fans who appear to be acting in a provocative or violent way."
DUH! I guess it needs to be spelled out!?!
Hannover's first game of the tournament is next Tuesday, June 12th, for which we have tickets (see #2 on map). I actually feel guilty about having them since so many GERMANS would give anything to get them. But it's all by "lottery" and Donica made 3 tries before getting hers. The tickets are actually connected to our passports, which we have to show upon arrival. Apparently there is a transfer process possible to another person and you can find tickets on eBay going for astronomical prices (one ticket for the final game in Berlin on July 9 is already at $3500). Donica and I jokingly said we could have paid for our cruise!
BTW, the DHL courier who brought the tickets to our front door in Atlanta a couple weeks back was so excited to hear about our game. He used to play soccer in college. I told him I'd take a souvenir back to him. Hmmm. Wonder what it'll be! What would YOU want if you were he?
Anyway, assuming the USA doesn't have a chance at winning, who are YOU rooting for (if you care)? Inquiring minds and all.