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Night of 1,000 Jack o’Lanterns

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From Night of 1,000 Jack o’Lanterns

This weekend from Thursday through Sunday the Chicago Botanic Garden is holding the Night of 1,000 Jack o’Lanterns. I got tickets in advance which turned out to be essential since it’s sold out for all days.

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The event is well planned. Our time to enter was 7:45 pm and though we arrived at the gardens on time the line to enter was long, so we should have come earlier. After parking, and we lucked out that they directed traffic so well that we must have hit the period when those who came at 5:30 had all left so we got to park in the lot nearest the visitors’ center. After entering we found long lines, but they moved swiftly.

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Sea Monster

Once inside we were delighted by Halloween music and dozens of jack o’lanterns, large and small. Well, huge and mid-size is more accurate. The “small” jack o’lanterns were the size most families buy and the big ones were perhaps 3 feet high. The jumbo ones were carved by artists and were grouped by themes. Themes included musicians, Chicago sports, Flora of Illinois, Fairy Tales, and Classic Halloween.

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After about an hour we reached a fork in the paths. One side led to the exit and the other to the model train exhibit. Though I’ve seen the model train exhibit, which consists of models of American sites like the French Quarter in New Orleans, the Hollywood sign or Wrigley’s Field, we decided to go again. I’m so glad we did. They’d decked out the buildings made of twigs and the trains with ghosts, goblins, witches, pumpkins and such.

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Then after exiting the model train exhibit we got to see two more themes of jack o’lanterns: Fairy Tales and Classic Halloween.

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Tickets are sold out. For members they were $12 and for non-members $14.

Parking for members is free and it costs $25 for non-members.

 

 

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Rounded 2

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From Night of 1,000 Jack o’Lanterns

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1. Each week, we’ll provide a theme for creative inspiration. You take photographs based on your interpretation of the theme, and post them on your blog (a new post!) anytime before the following Wednesday when the next photo theme will be announced.

2. To make it easy for others to check out your photos, title your blog post “Weekly Photo Challenge: (theme of the week)” and be sure to use the “postaday″ tag.

3. Follow The Daily Post so that you don’t miss out on weekly challenge announcements, and subscribe to our newsletter – we’ll highlight great posts. Add Media photos from each month’s most popular challenge.

Just a Few Wonderful Posts

Intercontinental Hotel: Lijiang

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Adjacent to Lijiang’s Ancient Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Intercontinental hotel offers style, comfort and outstanding service. All the villas are modern and comfortable with rooms and architecture based on local ethnic crafts and culture making the Intercontinental an ideal place to stay, especially if you can pay with points. I really hated to leave this sanctuary. It would be an ideal place to come to finish editing a writing project.

The service was friendly and efficient. The staff all seemed genuinely eager to help. There were always enough staff with fluent English on hand to help.

The food in the executive lounge was beautiful and ample. I was upgraded to an executive room so I could have afternoon tea, cocktails and appetizers and breakfast in the lounge. They always offered a choice of Chinese and Western fare.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Face

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This week  bloggers are challenged to post photos that embody the word:  Face.

Some good photos:

Touring Seoul

When Tanis and I visited Seoul we saw lots of young women in traditional hanboks, which gave our tour an extra sense of history. Above I’ve added a video of two Korean vloggers who explain that if you come in traditional dress, you get in free.

Another tip: As we exited the subway we passed a group of high school students volunteering to take tourists around Gyeongbuk Palace. I’m so glad we accepted the offer. Jin, whose English was quite polished, gave tours once a month to further his English and deepen his understanding of history. The tour was more than just your run of the mill “Look to the left, look to the right.” Whoever devised the tour included lots of Q and A so it’s very interactive and exceeded my expectations. It’s absolutely free.

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Tanis (center) with two Korean women

Travel Theme: Interior

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Peace Hotel Lobby

Peace Hotel Lobby

Humble Administrator's House, Suzhou

Humble Administrator’s House, Suzhou


Ailsa of Where’s My Backpack invites bloggers to post travel photos each week. This time she’s given us “Interior” for a theme because the first week of August is Simplify Your Life Week.

If you would like to join in (everyone’s welcome!) here’s what to do:

  • Create your own post and title it Travel theme: Interior
  • Include a link to this page in your post so others can find it too
  • Get your post in by next Thursday, as the new travel theme comes out on Friday
  • Don’t forget to subscribe to keep up to date on the latest weekly travel themes. Sign up via the email subscription link in the sidebar or RSS!

 

Please click to see more Interiors.

More Photos of National Day

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Street Life

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Pingyao

Xinjiang

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Kathmandu

Kathmandu

1. Each week, we’ll provide a theme for creative inspiration. You take photographs based on your interpretation of the theme, and post them on your blog (a new post!) anytime before the following Friday when the next photo theme will be announced.

2. To make it easy for others to check out your photos, title your blog post “Weekly Photo Challenge: (theme of the week)” and be sure to use the “postaday″ tag.

3. Follow The Daily Post so that you don’t miss out on weekly challenge announcements, and subscribe to our newsletter – we’ll highlight great photos from each month’s most popular challenge.

Other great photos:

Fill the Void

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The most intriguing film I’ve seen in a while is Fill the  Void, an Isreali film made in 2012, which kept me fascinated on my flight back home. Fill the Void is a quiet, dramatic film that focuses on a Hassidic (some reviewers refer to the community as Haredi, but the distributor calls it Hassidic) community in Tel Aviv.

In this very traditional world, we meet Shira, an 18 year old woman who visits a grocery store with her aunt to get a glimpse of a young man she may marry. Courtship is very much a communal, supervised, discussed activity within this society. She’s pleased with this earnest young man and eager to marry as her sister Esther has. Esther is older and stunningly beautiful, clearly the center of Yorchay,  her husband’s life. However, life takes a cruel turn when Esther dies in childbirth. The Shira’s parents often care for the baby and when Yorchay’s mother announces that he’s considering remarrying and moving to Belgium, Shira’s mother hopes to convince him to marry Shira instead so the baby will always be nearby.

Outsiders like myself will wonder how anyone could even consider asking Shira to sacrifice like this. Shira is shocked at the prospect of perhaps replacing her sister in marriage, but the shock is held at bay as are all big emotions in this society. It’s not that the community denies them, it’s just that emotion is expressed and considered very differently, which makes for a very powerful film. Robert Bresson‘s idea of never letting the characters run wild with emotion so that the audience will feel it more, works here.

What unfolds is a careful, respectful story about characters whose traditions may seem archaic, but truly still work for them. Shira’s torn between what to do. She envisioned a  different life and she’s little experience making such decisions. It’s not a family that disregards her wishes or forces Shira to bend to theirs. In fact, it’s interesting how thoughtfully this community works to see that wisdom and justice prevail in all matters brought before the rabbis.

Directed by Rama Burshtein, an orthodox female director, the power of the film lies in its silent moments and thoughtful characters. It’s a world where people consider other’s happiness and tradition as much if not more than their own. There’s no such thing as a snap judgement in this society which manages to continue in the midst of a world that moves at breakneck pace. I found the acting superb and the view into this rarely seen world fascinating. If you watch it, you’ll realize the beauty of a traditional community that’s easy for us to dismiss.

Thanksgiving in Jinan


Yes. I’ve just returned, completely sated, from Thanksgiving at the new Hyatt in downtown Jinan. The food was plentiful and so scrumptious. Probably a hundred dishes easily. I don’t want to tell you about everything I tasted as my gluttony would be fully exposed, but there was salad, several soups including curry pumpkin, which I didn’t try, and young pigeon, which I did. Turkey, ham, roast beef and duck, sauces for all, pastas, including lasagna, roasted vegetables, steamed vegetables, hot pot, sushi, cheeses galore, breads, rolls, sausages, Chinese foods. Any gourmand would be pleased.

Then for dessert there was pumpkin pie, pumpkin cheese cake, pumpkin mini loaves, chocolate souffle, chocolate mouse, chocolate tarts, chocolate cakes. Fruits baked in a wide array of pastries or wrapped in crepes. Gelato – six flavors. Fruits – melons, plums, pears, grapes, apples, citrus of every sort.

I’m so glad the Crowne Plaza’s staff didn’t know what Thanksgiving was. The Hyatt was the place to come.

Also, Thursday was Ladies’ Night in the bar so the women got free cocktails and we all enjoyed the singer and piano player in their chic bar. Tres bien.

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