April Squares: No Foolin’!

Becky’s back with her square challenge for the month of April! The theme is top. Becky says:
We have five idioms, to choose from;
On Top of the World – summit, crown, peak (tiptop) or uppermost part of something.
Under the Big Top – topping or covering (or if you are really lucky a circus!)
Room at the Top – first or highest in position
Cherry on Top – something made even more wonderful by becoming square
Top and Tail – or maybe you’d prefer to play around with word combinations such as top dog, top stitch, top hat, top secret, top knot, top drawer or top dollar!

On Top of the World: Or so it is for my cat, Hazel, who has lately developed a habit of sitting on the tops of chairs. Here she is on top of our recliner. Sometimes, when I’m sitting in the chair and she gets up there, she tickles me by licking my head!

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Maybe this fits the idiom Top and Tail as well!


Fan of…Swans

Jez has an open-ended photo challenge, Fan of….  You can end this phrase in any way you want to whenever you want to.

Right now, swans are what I have to look forward to. The only time I leave the house is to take walks around the campus of our community. We have two ponds, one small, one large, and every March, a pair of swans for each pond are brought in. We get to witness their entire life cycle. Swans mate for life so the pairs they bring have already chosen a mate. The male will then make a nest, and the female will take 2-3 weeks to lay her eggs. Then the incubation period, where they take turns sitting on the eggs, lasts 35-41 days. Yes, I’ve done research – what else is there to do??

One of the pairs this year is rather placid. When we walk by the small pond, they are usually just gliding around on the far side.
The other pair is far more interesting so I look forward to seeing them every day as we walk by the big pond. So much that I have named them! I call the male Sidney, and the female Celine.  I have taken many photos of them, except when I saw them actually mating! I was so fascinated that I forgot to get out my phone until they were done. Afterward, they did some loving gestures, like the classic heart:
It’s sometimes hard to tell them apart – the male supposedly has a larger black knob on his beak, but I can’t discern the difference from where I stand. Swans can be very mean if they feel threatened. In fact, when they first came, Sidney & Celine swam around the pond like this:
They were afraid of the humans walking around the pond then, and puffing up their wing feathers make them look larger and thus more threatening (supposedly).
Now they do this mainly when Canada geese are around. Sidney, especially, will swim along the edge of the pond with his feather puffed up and the geese know better than to approach any farther!

Occasionally Sidney will get out of the water and waddle up the hill to chase the geese. 20200324_153837
Swans are ungainly on land, but later in the season we will see them more often out of the water with their cygnets. Sometimes, Sidney sends the geese flying and squawking to the top of the residential building. Other times, the geese just walk along near the water’s edge (but not too close!) as the swan continues following them, gliding along the shore.
Having seen the swans mate, I’m counting the days until Celine lays her eggs! I calculate somewhere around April 7. Meanwhile, the swans are working on the nest. This is mainly the male’s job, but I’ve seen her sitting on a pile of trampled grasses with Sidney next to her. Perhaps he wants her approval of the job he’ s doing!

Today I noticed there are nesting materials in two places, so it’s unclear which they will use.  (“Gee, honey, I like this one a lot, but the other nest is great, too!”) Whichever they don’t use, probably one or more of the many duck couples will claim.

So this is why I’m a fan of swans! But I admired them and photographed them eagerly when we were in Europe last summer and I could get much closer.
Watching our swans become parents and the cygnets growing up is something I really look forward to! Meanwhile, seeing them is the highlight of these sequestered days.

CFFC: Pick a Topic #3

This is the photo for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge Pick a Topic #3. She suggests:
Public transportation, bus, RV, trees, bird, whale, tent, grass, bridge, water, white, green, window, or come up with your own topic.




People boarding a bus in Tanzania
Tour buses lined up next to Jewish cemetery in Jerusalem, Israel


Gull on the Jordan River


Blue Whale on Route 66 in Oklahoma

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Lens-Artists #90: Distance

Lens-Artists #90 photo challenge invites us to explore the theme of distance, especially the ways in which we are practicing physical distance from our friends and neighbors: we are all in this together despite needing to avoid each other physically. Please share with us the creative ways you’ve found to address your need to connect while keeping your distance. Have you found interesting and productive ways to pass the time? Are you enjoying comics/funny stories or do you find the situation too serious for jokes? The Lens-Artists team hopes our weekly challenge brings at least a small opportunity to look away from the news for a bit to connect with the rest of us. We look forward to hearing your thoughts and seeing your Distance images – whether related to the COVID-19 crisis or not. Be sure to link to my original post, and to use the Lens-Artists TAG. 

I have chosen photos I have taken in my restricted universe this month. Since my husband and I live in a senior community, we have certain advantages, such as meals delivered to our door, and a nice campus where we can walk and appreciate nature. My favorite thing to do is to walk over to the two ponds (here referred to by the unimaginative names of “East Lake” and “West Lake”) to watch the swans. Every year, two pairs of swans are brought here in March to mate, nest, and raise their young. They are taken back in October, when their cygnets are grown. They are brought here partly to scare off the Canada geese, which some do more aggressively than others.

Watching the swans on East Lake from a distance.

Keeping one’s distance from a swan:

The swans on West Lake are more interesting to watch. Here the male approaches the shore to threaten a goose to stay away. He puffs up his wings to look bigger and therefore, more threatening. The goose did not dare come any nearer. 

One day residents were invited to sing patriotic songs outside next to West Lake. A lot of the staff was there and some residents came out on their balconies to sing along. Those of us physically present tried to keep about 6 feet from others. I prefer to call it “physical distancing” rather than “social distancing” because we are still social! The times we look forward to are taking walks and encountering others doing the same thing, so we are able to socialize with our friends. It is our only substitute for the camaraderie we shared at the dining hall, the fitness center and the many activities normally offered here.
Since all activities are cancelled, the staff has started a daily schedule of fitness classes, meditation, a morning meeting, spiritual programs, and video programs on the two closed-circuit TV stations, now called WAMS. Sometimes these are videos they’ve strung together, such as short clips of dogs and babies or sports bloopers, and last week our music director played a piano concert.

The biggest treat was yesterday, when they broadcast a recording of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra performing Beethoven’s 9th symphony. Sublime!

Because of the opportunity to go outside and take walks, and the connection with others via video or phone calls, I don’t feel cooped up — thank God this didn’t happen in January when it was often too cold to go out!! Also, I have my blog, I read, I finished a photo book of our trip to Israel last year, and keep busy with other projects. This afternoon, my writing group had a virtual meeting via Zoom. Also, I do feel we are all in this together – not just here, but all over the U.S. and the world! We will get through this!

I have a feeling, though, that this forced isolation will get tedious by the middle of April. And it will probably be May, at least, before we can get our normal lives back. But the one being in our house who loves that we are home all the time is our cat, Hazel!

Song Lyric Sunday: Touch

Jim Adams’ Song Lyric Sunday this week has the theme Touch/Feel – something we don’t get to do much of these days! No one wants to touch anything without cleaning first and we can’t touch other people unless we have 6-ft. long arms! So this theme is something that we currently miss.

However, I heard on TV a doctor saying that we do not have to practice physical distancing with our significant other, and that sex is fine as long as it is with the partner you live with!

I selected “Touch” by the Josh Abbott Band, a song about love and sexual desire. I had never heard of either the song nor the band before, having done a search on YouTube with “touch” and “feel.” I listened to it and found it pleasant, although not spectacular. I don’t generally listen to country music, but  for this challenge I like to learn something new.

Josh Abbott Band
A little longer, baby stay with me a little longer
I just want your touch again, to feel your body giving in
It’s pulling at me, my desire to make you happy
I want to feel your touch again
Let’s just lie here together chasing forever
I can’t get enough of your love
Brave and relentless, sweet and defenseless,
I can never get enough every time we touch
Can’t stop staring, my eyes keep taking off what you’re wearing
I just want your touch again, to feel your body giving in
You’re a bad liar, that smile gives away what you desire,
You wanna feel my touch again
Let’s just lie here together, chasing forever
I can’t get enough of your love, brave and relentless,
Sweet and defenseless
I can never get enough every time we touch
Yeah let’s lie here together chasing forever,
I can’t get enough of your love
Brave and relentless, sweet and defenseless,
I can never get enough every time we touch, every time we touch

Josh Abbott founded his country band while living in Lubbock, Texas where he attended Texas Tech University. In grad school, he formed the band with fraternity brothers Austin Davis, Neel Huey, and Andrew Hurt. They recorded a four-song demo, then Huey and Hurt dropped out to pursue careers and were replaced with Preston Wait and Eddie Villanueva. In 2008, they recorded their debut album Scapegoat. Caleb Keeter and James Hertless joined in 2010, and Hertless eventually left the band in 2018.

Their second album, She’s Like Texas, was released in 2010 and made the Top Country Albums Chart.

They released their third CD, Small Town Family Dream, in 2012. It was their highest charting album, debuting at #5 on Top Country Albums and sold 21,000 copies in the U.S. its first week. The second single from the album, “Touch”, was released in February and came out digitally on February 14. On the music video is the reality TV star Melissa Rycroft and her husband Tye Strickland, who was also one of Abbott’s fraternity brothers. “Touch” was also featured in the motion picture The Longest Ride, based on the novel by Nicholas Sparks. Small Town Family Dream was their most successful album and “Touch” has been their most successful single, reaching #41 on the U.S. Country chart and #8 on U.S. Bubbling.
small town family dream

Since then, they have released two more albums, both of which met with moderate success. Abbott’s themes are taken from his life experiences, such as his divorce (on the 4th album) and the birth of his daughter and the sudden death of his father one month into the making of the 5th album.

In 2017, they performed at Route 91 Harvest,  the scene of the Las Vegas mass shooting later that year.