Saturday Surprise … A Sad Story And A Small Journey

Good morning, friends, and welcome to the …weekend-2It’s been a long and ugly week, hasn’t it?  I saw the sunshine for all of 7 minutes on … I think it was Wednesday, or perhaps Tuesday.  Haven’t seen it since.  Perhaps I scared it off when I started shrieking, “BRIGHT LIGHT … BRIGHT LIGHT!!!”

I have to tell you a sad story that crossed my path this week.  No couple gets along all the time, but most couples who truly love each other manage to work through their problems.  It seems that if a couple stays together for, say 30-40 years, they aren’t likely to split for any reason other than death.  But the couple I’m going to tell you about today are the exception.  They were together, as best anybody can figure, for around 90 years, and yet their relationship dissolved.

Both Bibi and Poldi were born in Switzerland in 1897 and became a couple during the Roaring Twenties.  They later relocated to Austria in the 1970s.  They shared a love of many of the same things, such as tomatoes.  They seemed to have everything going for them until suddenly they began having troubles.  Just a little spat, but unusual for them.  After all, this was a couple that had made it through the Great Depression, two World Wars, and the millennium. Surely one little spat wouldn’t do them in.

They tried counseling, and eventually a temporary separation, with Poldi moving into his own bachelor’s pad after Bibi bit him one day in 2011, drawing blood!  But the counseling didn’t work, and the ‘trial’ separation became a permanent one.  Today, they live in side-by-side matched condos, but rarely even see each other.matched-condosDid I mention that Bibi and Poldi are Galápagos tortoises?

Bibi-Poldi

The spat that dissolved a 90-year love affair

Bibi and Poldi reside at the Reptilienzoo Happ in Klagenfurt, Austria.  It is a sad story, but also a fascinating one, and I encourage you to read the entire story at Atlas Obscura!

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Poldi is looking for Bibi

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Bibi loves her tomatoes!

Now that I’ve broken your hearts, let’s hop aboard the Filomobile for a quick jaunt, for there are a couple of things I really want to show you!


kelpies-1Welcome to Helix park, in Falkirk, in Scotland, and these two impressive statues are the Kelpies, sculptures that form a gateway at the eastern entrance to the Forth and Clyde canal, and the new canal extension built as part of The Helix land transformation project.

According to sculptor Andy Scott:

“The original concept of mythical water horses was a valid starting point for the artistic development of the structures. took that concept and moved with it towards a more equine and contemporary response, shifting from any mythological references towards a socio-historical monument intended to celebrate the horse’s role in industry and agriculture as well as the obvious association with the canals as tow horses.”kelpies-2kelpies-3

Pretty impressive, don’t you think?


While we’re on this side of the big pond, let’s hop over to Belgium and visit La Balade des Gnomes.  What, you ask, is that?  Well, it is a bed-and-breakfast, but a rather unique one, for it has ten themed rooms, no two alike.  Let’s take a look, shall we?Trojan-horse-exteriorThis is the exterior of the most famous suite, a stand-alone, two-story building in the shape of a Trojan Horse. The Trojan Horse suite has its own motorized drawbridge entrance.

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The horse’s head is a room that can be moved around by levers inside. The whole building gives the feeling of being within a mythical, medieval, wooden, post-apocalyptic mobile home. There’s also a jacuzzi tub, as an added bonus.

Other rooms include the Macquarie Island room where your bed is a boat which appears to float on real water and there is a real beach with real sand in your room. The suites are filled with wooden toadstools, starry skies (glowing on your ceiling) and crooked windows.

This one is the Legend of the Trolls room …

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Personally, I don’t think I would enjoy spending a night here, but I thought it would be fun to see!b-b-1

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Um … thanks, but no, I really don’t think I could sleep with those … things … above my head!  The price isn’t bad as these things go, although it is out of my budget … 134 €, or about $151 USD.


Well, folks, I know it was a short jaunt this week, but it’s getting late and we all have things we need to do this weekend, so we better be getting back.  I do hope you enjoyed the little trip, and we’ll take a longer journey soon … perhaps even next week!

Have a fun and happy weekend … by the way, Happy Family Day to my Canadian friends and enjoy your long weekend!

Saturday Surprise — Weird Buildings And A Cute Kitten!

Good Saturday morning, friends!  Come in out of the cold and join me for a cuppa before you head out on your weekend errands.  I was really hoping we could take a journey today, have an adventure, but I’m still not quite up for it.  I thought about having Jolly take you, but … well … while I adore the little guy, he’s even more directionally challenged than I am, and I was afraid I might not see you again for a month!  But I did find a couple of fun things for us to start the weekend.

Ever hear of Frank Gehry?  No?  I hadn’t either, until I came across some strange-looking buildings and found that they were all designed by the same architect:  Frank Gehry.

Frank GehryFrank Gehry is a Canadian-born American architect, residing in Los Angeles.  A number of his buildings, including his private residence, have become world-renowned attractions. His works are cited as being among the most important works of contemporary architecture in the 2010 World Architecture Survey, which led Vanity Fair to label him as “the most important architect of our age”.

Let’s take a look at some of his buildings …

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Fred And Ginger, Prague, Czech Republic

The Fred And Ginger or The Dancing House in the Chech Capital is one of the most controversial works of Gehry, because of the audacity that he had when he thought of and implemented the idea of building two modern, dancing buildings that don’t fit in with their classical surroundings. Yet unusual shapes have enriched Prague’s old town and now it’s iconic. Oh, and the name ‘Fred and Ginger’ was chosen because of the dancers Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers that inspired Frank Gehry.


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Museum Of Pop Culture, Seattle, Washington

This massive construction looks like it’s melting under Seattle’s mellow sun, yet it’s far from that. This sheet-metal covered structure was inspired by the rock music and the energy that it embodies. Gehry even admitted that the preparations included buying and putting together guitar pieces in order to create a form which would inspire the soon-to-be the museum of pop culture.


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Marqués De Riscal Hotel, Elciego, Spain

A small Spanish Town in a region that is famous for its wine today is probably even better known for something way more extravagant. It’s yet another boundary-breaking Gehry’s work and it’s a luxury hotel that looks like something that would make Don Quixote forget about windmills and start preparing for a much bigger battle.


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Stata Center, Cambridge, Massachusetts

The full name of this building is “The Ray and Maria Stata Center for Computer, Information and Intelligence Sciences” and it’s was designed for none other than the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It was built in the place of Building 20, a place which was surrounded by legends and local M.I.T. folklore. Since 2004 the Stata Center has attracted so much attention that it’s become a legend of its own.


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Lou Ruvo Center, Las Vegas, Nevada

This work is not a museum, nor a concert hall, in fact, it’s something quite to the contrary. It’s a center for brain health, or as the full name goes The Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health. Lou Ruvo is a businessman from Las Vegas, who lost his father due to complications of Alzheimer’s disease. Therefore he initiated the project and in 2010 it became reality.


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Vitra Design Museum, Weil Am Rhein, Germany

Despite having completed many cutting-edge projects all over the world, this one was the first in Europe. It’s a museum that exhibits furniture and interior design pieces and solutions, yet it’s the building itself that attracts the most attention. It’s special in more ways than one – it was the first time Gehry said yes to curved forms in his project. The result speaks for itself.


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Guggenheim Bilbao, Bilbao, Spain

Even though It looks like something where Ice King from Adventure Time would live in if he had a house in Spain, Guggenheim Bilbao serves a big purpose – it’s a museum of modern and contemporary art which in itself is a piece of art. Named as one of the most important works of architecture in the last decades by numerous experts, this building has many reasons why it’s unique. This construction was so successful and well acclaimed that it started attracting tourists to the city of Bilbao. Lots of tourists. During the first 12 months since the museum opened, tourists generated $160 million for the local economy. This building basically revived an entire city. This economical phenomenon even received a name – the Bilbao Effect.


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Biomuseo, Panama City, Panama

Biomuseo, an ecology museum, was yet another step for Gehry, as this was his first project in Latin America. Panamanian politicians started talks with Gehry about realizing his works in this location in hopes that this would eventually create a “Bilbao Effect” and attract more tourists and investments. The bright colors, which is not a typical characteristic of Gehry’s work, were chosen to represent the rich nature of Panama.


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Dr. Chau Chak Wing Building, Sydney, Australia

In 2015, Gehry’s influence reached the seventh continent when he finished his first project in Australia. It’s a business school building of the University of Technology Sydney and it’s estimated that in order to create an unusual brick building like this one, they had to use around 320,000 custom-made bricks.


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Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris, France

Fondation Louis Vuitton is a museum and a cultural center that rests in Paris, surrounded by the Bois de Boulogne park. It took 3,600 glass panels and 19,000 concrete panels to form this armada-looking structure. It opened in 2014 and is the most famous addition to the Parisian art world in the XXI century, where pieces by artists like Andy Warhol or Roy Lichtenstein are exhibited.


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The Fish, Barcelona, Spain

Yes, it’s what it looks like – a colossal abstract fish. This eye-catching sculpture was presented to the world back in 1992, during the preparations for the Olympics that took place in Barcelona later the same year. It’s made of metal plates so the humongous fish reflects sunlight and therefore changes its colors and looks even more vivid in real life.


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Marta Herford, Herford, Germany

Martha Herford was a textile factory, but with a touch by Frank Gehry, it was transformed into a contemporary art museum. An art museum that looks like it was built out of clay. On Mars. By aliens.


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Binoculars Building, Venice, Los Angeles, California

Originally known as the Chiat/Day building, it didn’t take long until people started referring to it as the Binoculars building. And it’s not difficult to see why. The whole building is more than the giant binoculars, which, actually, are an original artwork by Claes Oldenburg and serve as an addition to the building itself.


Well … what did you think?  Some pretty wild architecture, eh?  What was your favourite?  Maybe in our travels one of these days we’ll visit some of them and see them up close!  And now, because you all know how I love animals, and also for the younger readers who were likely bored by the tour of the buildings, I end with an adorable video about a kitten named Churro the Purro, born with deformed back legs, and how he overcame his disability to become a beloved family member.

Have a fun and safe weekend, my friends!

*Header image is The Iac Building in New York.  No sparkly and shiny sheet-metal in sight, which automatically made The Iac Building stand out from other creation by Frank Gehry. That’s why it’s said that above its resemblance to the sails of a ship, it’s conceptually closest to an iceberg. And indeed it looks like one, resting in the ocean that is New York.

Saturday Surprise — Snow Monsters and Jingle Trucks!!!

Hello friends, and welcome to Saturday Surprise.  I had hoped we could travel this week, but it has been frigid here all week, and I have managed to contract a bit of a chest cold, so I’m afraid we’re stuck indoors today.  But … I found some really cool things to show you anyway!

This first one I thought worked well with the theme of this week’s Polar Vortex …


Snow Monsters

High against the slopes of Mount Zaō, in central Japan, the cold, moisture-laden winds from Siberia slams into creating a natural wonder that brings thousands of tourists every winter from all over Japan. The tiny water droplets that the strong wind carries freezes against Mount Zaō’s pine trees and their branches forming icicles. These icicles grow nearly horizontal, owing to the strong winds, over which falling snow settles creating towering, grotesque white figures that the Japanese call “snow monsters” or juhyo.

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A specific combination of strong winds, low temperatures and snowfall on evergreen conifer trees is required for snow monsters to form. Juhyo forms at a few other places in Japan, but Mount Zaō is the most accessible.

juhyo-night

A phenomenon similar to juhyo is observed in Finland at the Riisitunturi National Park. The Finnish call it “tykky”.

Riisitunturi National Park is situated in the southern part of Finnish Lapland near Posio, in Finland. The park covers an area of 77 square kilometers and represents the fell and hill landscapes in Koillismaa, characterized by colourful hanging bogs. Being part of the large taiga forest zone on the northern edge of Eurasian continent, the park is covered, for the most part, with candle-like spruces and thick moss. The air gets relatively more humid as one goes up, and during winter the moisture condensates on the trees, turning them into “tykky” – the Finnish word for the accumulation of hard snow and frost on trees. The mountain tops, although just 400 metres above the sea level, experience low cloud cover and mist, combined with moderate winds, so the ice and snow stick to the trees and a thick layer accumulates during winter, especially during the months when the sun is low in the sky. Most trees cannot bear the immense weight of the snow, and bend over into sharp curls. Some trees break down.tykky-1tykky-2tykky-3tykky-4


Those were all really interesting and unique, but let’s take a look at something that doesn’t involve snow for a few minutes, shall we?

Jingle Trucks

A typical Pakistani truck driver spends more time with his truck than he does with his wife. Which explains why he wants his 10-ton six-wheeler to look like a new bride.

These trucks plying across Pakistan’s national highways and the neighboring country of Afghanistan are distinctively ostentatious. The entire trucks, from top to bottom, are a riot of colors. Lavishly painted panels containing a mosaic of birds, flowers, landscapes, saints, and actresses in hyper-saturated color palette adorn the exterior, while plastic flowers, draped beads, mirrors, ribbons and velvet grace the interior. The cabin is crowned by a custom built wooden prow wrapped in more kitschy artwork, while a string of metal bells dangle from the chassis all round the periphery. When the truck is in motion, these bells clang against each other like a new bride’s ghungroo. This is where the nickname “jingle trucks” come from—coined by US troops deployed in Afghanistan.jingle-1.jpgAnd it isn’t just trucks alone. Passenger buses, water tankers, transport vans, rickshaws, and even vendors’ pushcarts are psychedelically decorated with eye-popping colors. It’s like a rolling folk art, “a national gallery without walls, a free-form, kaleidoscopic exhibition in perpetual motion,” as Richard Covington puts it.

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The tradition of decorating trucks began sometime in the 1920s with the introduction of the long-distance Bedfords—a British-built truck with rounded cab and seven-feet high paneled sides that was to become the country’s most prestigious and dependable truck for more than half a century. Originally trucks were painted with each company’s logo so that illiterate people could recognize who owned the trucks. Gradually, these logos became more fanciful, flamboyant and competitive. By the 1950s, stylized murals and frescoes had begun to replace them. It was only in the 1960s, as the country’s economy boomed, the decorations became increasingly sophisticated to reflect the growing wealth of the drivers and the rise of a new urban class.

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It isn’t unheard of for a driver to spend the equivalent of a year’s worth, or more, of profits on truck decorations. According to a 2005 article, a basic painting and body job costs a minimum of $2500, equivalent to two years of the average truck driver’s salary. Some spend upwards of $10,000 outfitting their rigs.

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Truck painting is also a big business. In Karachi city alone, more than 50,000 people are engaged in this unregulated yet lucrative industry. Family-run workshops comprising of apprentices and highly trained artisans, and small shops selling all manners of outlandish ornaments and accessories crowd around truck yards.

Over the years, however, the business has changed. Now instead of meticulously hand painting each truck, mass produced stickers and adornments are used.

“Truck decoration is not stagnating; it is dead,” laments R M Naeem, an assistant professor at the National College of Arts, Lahore. “This is because truck painters treat their work as a source of livelihood. They do not have the time or the luxury to innovate; they repeat the same old patterns, images and icons over and over again.”

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Well, folks … it is the weekend, and I’m sure you have a million things you want to do.  I have certainly enjoyed spending a bit of the morning with you.  Keep safe and warm, and enjoy your weekend!

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Saturday Surprise — Sukeroku!

It’s funny, for I was reading a story written by a friend/fellow-blogger a few days ago, a children’s story, and I mentioned that all she needed now was an artist who could turn her characters into whimsical pictures to accompany her words.  Then this evening, as I was bopping around the internet, trying to decide with what I might surprise you guys today, I came across some of the most adorable pictures imaginable.  The Japanese artist is known only as Gotte, and his (or her– not sure which) little hamster, the subject of his art, is Sukeroku.  The pictures depict Sukeroku in everyday settings & situations, and they are absolutely guaranteed to bring a smile to the faces of young and old alike!  If you enjoy these, you can check him out on Twitter,  Instagram  or on the artist’s own website.

And by the way … Jolly was bored, so I let him create the captions …  jolly

hamster-1

WHEEEEE!!!!

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I’m late, I’m late, for a vewy important date!

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Yum-yum-yum … er … what?  Not supposed to sample da goods?

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zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

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Please, please, please … lemme drop it in da hole …

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Me Hamtaro!!!  King o’ da hamsters!

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Garçon … more bread please.

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Wanna help me build a fort?

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Mewwy Cwistmas!!!

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Sewf Portrait … d’ya think I’m any good?

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Chores … sigh.

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Gettin’ bootiful!

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I loves a scawy movie …     

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What kinda pie you want?

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Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

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Nite-nite … zzzzzz

Have a great weekend, my dear friends!!!  

Saturday Surprise — Let’s Go Places!

Hello friends!  No no … don’t take your coats off, for we are heading out on the Filomobile in just a second, as soon as I find my bloomin’ keys.  JOLLY!!!  Have you seen my keys?

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Okay … c’mon gang … we’re going to visit some fun places today, for I am getting tired of sitting home and listening to depressing news, aren’t you?  Yes, Hugh, I promise to get you back in time to shovel your snow!shovel snowHop aboard … sorry, but I don’t have a working heater in the Filomobile, and cannot afford to get this one fixed, but we’ll be where it’s warm in just a few minutes …

For our first stop, we’re heading to Mexico!  It’s been some 40 years since I’ve been to Mexico, though I used to go several times a year.  One of my favourite things when I was young was cabrito from street vendors … what?  You never had cabrito?  Roasted goat meat … they slow roast it over an open fire overnight, then sell it from carts on the streets … never has anything tasted so good!

cabritostreet vendorSigh … memories.  But today we are heading to Hierve el Agua, located in the Mexican state of Oaxaca.  Hierve el Agua is Spanish for “the water boils”, or “boil the water”, and the name comes from the bubbling natural mineral springs that are found here, that run into bathing pools on a spectacular cliff-top location. When you approach Hierve el Agua, from a distance, you see what appears to be a massive waterfall frozen on the side of the mountain. But ice is impossible in this hot climate. These are actually mineral deposits formed over thousands of years as a result of the mineral-laden water spilling over the edge of the cliff and trickling down the rocky mountain side. As the water runs down the rock face, it forms large stalactites like structures similar to those found in caves.hierve el agua-1Hierve el Agua consist of two waterfall-like rock formations. These are formed on cliffs that rise over fifty meters from the valley floor, with one “waterfall” reaching down twelve meters and the other reaching down thirty meters. The twelve meter one is called “cascada chica” (small waterfall) and “flows” off a base which is about sixty meters wide. The other is called “cascada grande” (large waterfall), and extends down from a base with which is about ninety meters wide and eighty meters above the valley floor. The more easily accessible and more often visited of the two waterfalls is the “cascada chica”. It is also called the Amphitheatre.hierve el agua-2.jpgThe waters of the spring are over saturated with calcium carbonate, which is what gets deposited forming the waterfalls-like rock structures. The waters, with their high mineral content, are reputed to have healing qualities, and you will see tourists soaking in the waters in one of the natural pools at the top of the rock.hierve el agua-3

I want to run over to Austria in a minute, but while we’re on this side of the globe, let’s pop over to Mexico City, for there is something I want to show you …coyote fountainThis, my friends, is Fuente de los Coyotes, or Coyote Fountain, a bronze statue fountain portraying a pair of beautiful coyotes surrounded by jets of water.  Coyotes were once a common sight in this part of the Mexican valley. During the reign of the Aztec empire, what is now buildings and roads would have been covered in pine forest and scrubland where coyotes and other animals dwelt. What’s more, the coyote was an animal with much significance in the Aztec cosmovision.coyoteOkay, now let’s travel across the pond to Austria.  Now, who else do you know that will take you halfway ‘round the globe to show you … traffic lights???  Bear with me now, whilst I tell you the story behind the lights …traffic-lights-1It all started with the Eurovision Song Contest. Held annually, the contest sees overs 50 countries battling in front of a live television audience of over 180 million to have their song proclaimed the Eurovsion winner. In return, the winning country gains the rather dubious honor of staging the next year’s contest, though the cost of this would, in actuality, bankrupt many of the tiny micro-nations that compete.

Several notable recording artists have begun their careers here, including ABBA and Celine Dion. Eurovision is also loved for its high-camp costumes and performances, making it a firm favorite with Europe’s LGBTQ community.traffic-lights-2The 2014 Contest was won for Austria by Conchita Wurst, a drag queen with a surname that means “sausage” in German. Thrilled by this success, and eager to welcome Europe to its capital in 2015, the Austrian authorities commissioned three new diversity pictograms for Vienna’s traffic lights.traffic-lights-3These Ampelparchen show three different paired figures (straight, gay, and lesbian), each holding hands and surrounded by hearts. Originally intended as temporary, a Facebook campaign led to them becoming permanent, and today they can be seen throughout the center of Vienna. Indeed, the Ampelparchen have been so well-received that cities as far afield as Salzburg, Utrecht, Munich, Cologne, Hamburg, and London have all installed their own versions.

I love the diversity … the recognition of diversity, don’t you?

We have, I think, time for one more stop before we head home.  Are you hungry?  Since we are already in Austria, it seems a shame to miss these rolls, which I hear are delicious. buchteln-1In Austria, pull-apart rolls known as buchteln often house a dollop of plum or apricot preserves. But throughout history, bakers have studded the center of these brioche-like buns with various ingredients, from squares of chocolate to poppyseed paste to lottery tickets!  During the Biedermeier era of the 19th century, a time during which Europe’s middle class expanded considerably, buchteln were referred to as “lotteries” because of their play-to-win filling.

Though the yeasty treat originated in the Bohemia region of Czechia, today, Austrians consider the warm, fruit-filled style—often served fresh from the oven—a local classic. Bakers press jam in the middle, then place the dough side-by-side to create the finished bread’s pull-apart effect.  Let’s try a few, shall we?

Home cooks also turn plain, unfilled buchteln into a decadent dessert by serving them in a pool of vanilla cream. The fluffy rolls absorb whatever sauce they touch, so it’s best to avoid attempting this style with the ticket-filled version.buchteln-4Well, folks, now that our bellies are full, we better head home so you guys can get on with your weekend plans.  I’m so glad you made a bit of time to join me in this little jaunt here and there!  I will be hibernating for the rest of the weekend, as we are supposed to have an ice storm, followed by up to 9 inches of snow, and with sub-zero temps!  Have a safe and happy weekend, dear friends!

Saturday Surprise – Pothole Art!

Whew … finally, the weekend!  That first full week after a couple of short weeks and all the holiday hustle and bustle always seems longer than average.  Back to the grind, catching up, making up for lost time … Friday afternoon always seems like a long way off.  But, we all survived another week and now it’s time for a bit of fun, yes?  Jim Bachor is 52-years-old, lives in Chicago, Illinois, and is known locally as ‘the pothole guy’.  Now, you might think that’s not a very becoming nickname, but just wait ’til you see what earned him that title.  Jim is a professional artist, stay-at-home dad and former corporate branding executive who turns ugly potholes into mosaic art.  It was in 2013 when Bachor began filling potholes with a clever 16-by-24-inch mosaic, modeled on the design of the official Chicago flag but with the word “Pothole” through the center.pothole.pngIn a 2014 interview with the Chicago Tribune, Jim said …

“This started a year ago. I watched these pothole crews going up and down my street, and there was a defiant pothole in front of my house that was just staying, that wasn’t being fixed. I thought I should fill it in. So I waited until nightfall. I was paranoid about attracting attention, and because it was toward the center of the street, I wanted to be careful. My wife asked me if she should set aside money for bail. Our 87-year old neighbor, from his porch, served as my spotter. I mixed cement, poured it in the hole, let cars go by, poured some more. It worked great. The thing is, these mosaics would last forever if I could just control the canvas.”

Since then, Jim has taken his show on the road, filling in potholes in New York City with his mosaic tiles in a project he calls “Vermin of New York”pothole-2

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pothole-3.jpgBut last July, an interview with the New York Post gained him some unwanted attention by the city, and they began ripping his work out of the ground.

“It’s unbelievable. And they’re not just pouring concrete over it, they’re using a jackhammer to actually dig it up and that takes work.”

jim-bachorIt’s especially sad since each one costs Jim around $50 to create!  The city claims that the mosaics were a safety hazard — because drivers might be distracted.  Um … hello???  And the potholes that nearly swallow a car alive aren’t a distraction and a safety hazard???

At any rate, Jim has done several series of Pothole Art, mainly in Chicago, so let’s take a look at a few …

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Aretha Franklin

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I found a rather interesting interview with Jim, if you’re interested, and of course, he has a website!  On arriving at his website, you will notice a mosaic picture of an old fashioned ‘tv dinner’ that he has for sale … only $2,400!

And finally, in case you’re in need of just a bit of animal humour …

Have a great weekend, my friends!

Saturday Surprise — Winter Birds!!!

A fellow critter-loving friend of mine posted a few pictures of winter birds a few days ago on Facebook, and a link to an article featuring lots of such birds.  Some of them are so gorgeous that I knew right then I would share them for Saturday’s surprise!  It amazes me that these small, seemingly-delicate creatures can withstand the cold of winter, but somehow they do!


American-Goldfinch

American Goldfinch

American Robins

Annas-Hummingbird

Anna’s Hummingbird

Barred Owls

Black-Capped Chickadees

Blue Jays

Bohemian-Waxwing

Bohemian Waxwing

California-Scrub-Jay

California Scrub Jay

Cedar-Waxwing

Cedar Waxwing

Common-Grackle

Common Grackle

Common-Redpole

Common Redpole

Coopers-Hawk

Cooper’s Hawk

Downy-Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker

Eastern Bluebirds

Great-Grey-Owl

Great Grey Owl

Mockingbird

Mockingbird

Mourning Doves

Northern Cardinals

Northern Flicker (left); European Starling and Northern Flicker (right)

Snowy-Owl

Snowy Owl

Tufted-Titmouse

Tufted Titmouse

White-Breasted Nuthatch

Yellow-Shafted-Flicker

Yellow-Shafted Flicker

Aren’t they beautiful?  I hope they made you smile this Saturday winter morn!  Be sure to check out the website for some tips about feeding winter birds and winter bird photography.  Have a wonderful weekend, my friends!

Saturday Surprise — Holiday Humour

Since most of my recent posts have been a walk on the dark side, I decided perhaps you would enjoy a bit of holiday-themed humour.  I came across a few short poems and ‘toons that brought a smile to my face, as I hope they will to yours.


snowball-eeyoreSnowball
~ Shel Silverstein

I made myself a snowball,
As perfect as could be,
I thought I’d keep it as a pet,
And let it sleep with me.

I made it some pajamas,
And a pillow for its head,
Then last night it ran away,
But first – it wet the bed!


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snowmanOnce There Was a Snowman
~ Anonymous

Once there was a snowman,
Who stood outside the door,
He wished that he could come inside,
And run about the floor.
He wished that he could warm himself,
Beside the fire, so red,
He wished that he could climb
Upon the big white bed.

So he called to the North Wind,
“Come and help me, pray,
For I’m completely frozen,
Standing here all day.”
So the North Wind came along,
And blew him in the door,
And now there nothing left,
But a puddle on the floor!


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Xmas-toon-8And my very favourite one of all …

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Saturday Surprise — Squirrels!

I came across something a few days ago and thought it would be perfect for this week’s Saturday surprise, since with Christmas coming at mach speed, I am short on time this week and don’t have time to take you traveling in the Filomobile to exotic places.  What I came across was squirrels!  Let me explain …

Meet Geert Weggen

Geert Weggen

Geert is the one on the right.  I’ll let him tell you a bit about himself …

“I am a Dutch/Swedish international awarded photographer specializing in photographing Red squirrels. My work has been published wide abroad in newspapers, books, calendars, radio and television, and magazines.

6 years ago, there was a fox standing on my doorstep, and I immediately rushed back inside to fetch some meat. The fox would come back daily to get more food and I used that as an opportunity to take some photos.

By the end of a second week, the fox would come to the balcony where it interacted with various props I used for photography. Soon before late, a Russian bird paid me a visit and continued on doing so daily. Suddenly, my balcony had become a studio filled with nature props, cameras, mirrors etc. The bird followed me and I followed the bird with my camera, as it searched for hidden food in scenes that I had created. Some photos of this encounter were awarded and published.

Eventually, red squirrels appeared and they still come daily to my outside studio. Little did I know back then that it would become my living.”

Geert is the author of eight squirrel photo books and there are hundreds of his gorgeous pictures available to view online, but I picked a few of my favourites to share here with you this morning.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I did, and if you visit Geert’s website, you can see many more of these delightfully whimsical photos.

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And for an extra treat … how ’bout a short video …

Have a fun and wonderful weekend, my friends!

Saturday Surprise — Office Christmas Party

If there was one thing I dreaded even more than the Annual Review in my other life as an accountant, it was the office Christmas party.  I generally avoided them at all costs … as it was, I spent most of my waking time each week with these people, about half of whom I didn’t even like, so why on earth would I want to spend what little ‘free’ time I had with them, too?  And, as you probably all know by now, I have a stubborn streak about the length of a football field, so telling me that I must do something is the best way to ensure that I won’t do it.toon-Maxine-office-partyAs the season, I am told, is upon us, I thought it might be fun to indulge in a little Christmas Office Party humour.  And besides, we all need something to laugh about, right?party-1

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I went looking for funny stories about Christmas office parties, sure there must be many, but every one I found pertained to either people having sex with co-workers, or getting drunk and being disgusting, none of which do I find humorous.  And so instead, to wrap up Saturday Surprise, I give you this …