Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge

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Highrise, London

Each week Cee challenges bloggers to share black and white photos based on a theme. This week she’s asking us to share any black and white photos we like — a total free-for-all. It’s open to personal interpretation so I expect even more variety than usual.

I found photos from my trip to London in 2016.

For more black and white photos from this week’s theme click here.

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At the British Museum

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At the British Museum, London

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Ancient Mask, British Museum

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Weekend Coffee Share

wordswag_15073188796611453091488Weekend Coffee Share is a time for us to take a break out of our lives and enjoy some time catching up with friends (old and new)!

If we were having coffee, I’d comment on the curious weather we had on Saturday. We got snow, considerable snow, Saturday afternoon and evening. It kept coming down and that night it was sticking. I guess we had over 3 inches–and it’s almost May. I wasn’t so put out since it didn’t make driving worse for me. I stayed in, turned on the fire and enjoyed Trading Spaces.

I’d mention that I attended a playwriters’ group at the Skokie Public Library. We gather to read out 10 pages of each others’ work. It’s good to hear a play read out loud and the group is very convivial and helpful.

I’d recommend the book How to Get Rich in Rising Asia, for its unique structure and point of view. Also, I think it really captures life in Southeast Asia.

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I’d tell you that Friday I returned to yoga at my library. I hadn’t been in months. I usually work at noon on Fridays and it’s just a bit tight to get from my library to work. I probably make more of the time issue than I need to. Another excuse is the winter weather. I felt great after going and realize I need to make this happen.

Then I went down to the Art Institute of Chicago to see the exhibit of Hokusai’s famous wave and other prime ukiyo-e (i.e. woodblock) prints. This exhibit focuses on how each print can differ though it’s made from the same block. Sometimes later printmakers added features; sometimes the coloring differed; sometimes sunlight faded a print. I was surprised that the great wave print was smaller than I imagined, but when you think about it the printing press equipment was probably a factor. Also these prints were made so that middle class people could afford them. Thus they’re probably the right size for a home.

I’d mention that I’m enjoying watching Flambards, one of my first favorite British TV imports. Set in as George V is taking the throne in 1910, Flambards focuses on a teenage orphan Christina who’s sent to live with her grouchy, tempestuous uncle and her sparring cousins. Trust me it’s a delight.

This week I want to market my play Dora McDonald: On Trial and start a new writing project.

Weekend Coffee Share

wordswag_15073188796611453091488Weekend Coffee Share is a time for us to take a break out of our lives and enjoy some time catching up with friends (old and new)!

If we were having coffee, I’d ask you about your Easter and how you’re liking the spring weather. I’d then tell you how happy I was to discover a new tradition, Polish Easter Basket Blessings, which I saw on Saturday. The Poles’ baskets contain symbolic items (explained here). The ceremony was short and a lot of people turned out in their finery.

I’d share that I had a nice Easter despite not getting to church early enough for a seat in the sanctuary. Later I had brunch with my brother and his family. Since the weather was warm and I needed to burn off some calories, I went on a walk at a park not to far that’s got a small lake.

On Wednesday I was amazed by the technology at the Amazon Fulfillment Center. If you’ve got one near you, you can go on a free tour.

Thursday afternoon I attended a fashion show at Talbots to see the spring offerings. They had wine, sparkling water, and some sweets on hand. If I hadn’t given up sweets for Holy Week I sure would have indulged. I satisfied myself with a glass of sparkling wine. The show was well done and though they offered a discount, there was not pressure to buy. Nonetheless I did splurge on a blue and purple dress for Easter. I needed something colorful.

I’ve been watching the DVD of an old (1979) British drama Flambards. I remember seeing it in the ’80s and loving it. While the production quality is low compared to what we see to today, the drama is every bit as engaging. Someone should remake it.

Blessing Easter Baskets

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I recently learned of a Polish custom of getting Easter baskets blessed. The church just north of me had a sign about this ritual, which was held today at 1:30 pm. Even though the service was in Polish, I decided to go.

Over 200 people attended the event, most dressed up and brought traditional baskets like the one above. Other baskets were contemporary. The tradition is to put your family’s Easter Day food in the basket and have the priest bless it the Saturday before Easter.

The service I attended was short and sweet with some dialog between the priest and the congregation, the priest talking and then families bringing up their baskets and the priest spraying holy water over the baskets.

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This ceremony was outside and the priest blesses all the baskets together
rather than one by one as I saw.

Each item in the basket is symbolic. According to one article, “The baskets themselves are decorated with flowers, ribbons and greenery and lined with or covered by linen, which is often embroidered. The linen is symbolic of the shroud that covered the body of Jesus in the tomb.

“Foods in the basket and their symbolism include:

  • Salt representing wisdom, purity and preservation. It reminds us to flavor our dealings with others by the example of Christ.
  • Butter, often in the shape or a lamb — the Lamb of God — is symbolic of the goodwill of Christ that we should have toward all things.
  • Babka the sweet, eggy Easter Bread, often round and always topped with a cross symbolizing Jesus — the Bread of Life, the Risen Lord and the sweetness of life. Other baked goods, including lamb-shaped pound cakes, might also be included.
  • Bread, often sourdough rye bread, the staff of life.
  • Kielbasa, symbolic of God’s favor and generosity. Eastern European traditions contend the sausage links are a reminder of the chains of death that were broken when Jesus rose from the dead.
  • Bacon and/or ham, symbolic of the overabundance of God’s mercy.
  • Horseradish — as in the Passover meal — this bitter herb symbolizes the harshness of life and Passion of Christ. In the the Polish Easter tradition, horseradish is sweetened by mixing it with red beets — cwikta.
  • Cheese including Pascha, cottage cheese, goat cheese or cream cheese, a symbol to remind Christians to show moderation for all things.
  • Eggs, usually brightly decorated, symbolic of spring, new life and Christ’s resurrection from the tomb.
  • Wine, the drink of the Passover meal and Las Supper. Wine gladdens the heart and helps us enter into the joy of the resurrection and its sparkle reminds us of the glory of Easter.
  • Chocolates in the form of eggs, bunnies, jelly beans or sugar lambs are 20th-century additions to the baskets, symbolic of the sweetness of life.
  • Candle representing Christ as the Light of the world.”

Reference

New Castle News.(2019). “Polish Easter baskets filled with tradition.”Retrieved from http://www.ncnewsonline.com/news/lifestyles/polish-easter-baskets-filled-with-tradition/article_10db325b-b0bc-5ca4-ab5c-6c092086f7a5.html on April 20, 2019.

Pilsen Murals Walking Tour

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Yesterday my friend Maryann and I enjoyed a walking tour around the Pilsen neighborhood, which is full of colorful murals. The Chicago History Museum organized the tour. The guide was knowledgeable and able to handle some trouble makers like the guy, who when the guide was briefly giving his bio blurted out “who cares?” (Luckily he didn’t continue to be so obnoxious.)

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We learned about the neighborhood, which was first settled by Bohemians and other Eastern Europeans. We learned the difference between graffiti (by artists and by gang members) and murals. We learned about the history and imagery of many murals in the neighborhood. The tour was 90 minutes but if it was twice as long we wouldn’t have seen everything.

The tour will be offered, rain or shine, again on May 11th by the Chicago History Museum. I bet they’ll have one a month while the weather’s good.

Tickets: $20