The countdown continues for wrapping up Becky’s April Squares with the subject top.
When hippos are submerged in the water, which is much of the day, only the tops of their heads and noses stick out of the water – they have to breathe, after all! Sometimes, though, you just see the top of their backs making them look like rocks! At hippo pools there are generally a great number congregated and submerged in this way.
My plant snap app identified this flower as scilla lilio-hyacinthus. The flowers are delicate, somewhat bell shaped, with two or three per stem. I don’t think I’d ever seen this flower before. I found it growing just outside the entrance to the main building of our community.
This is a John Lennon song that I never heard before, and it fits this week’s theme for Song Lyrics Sunday with the prompts Alone/Confined/Depressed/Isolated/Restless/Solo . After listening to several other songs that fit the prompt, I chose this one because I have always been a big fan of the Beatles and John’s solo career.
Words and Music by John Lennon
People say we got it made Don’t they know we’re so afraid Isolation We’re afraid to be alone Everybody got to have a home Isolation Just a boy and a little girl Trying to change the whole wide world Isolation The world is just a little town Everybody trying to put us down Isolation I don’t expect you, to understand After you caused so much pain But then again, you’re not to blame You’re just a human, a victim of the insane We’re afraid of everyone Afraid of the sun Isolation The sun will never disappear But the world may not have many years Isolation
Isolation was included on Lennon’s first solo album in 1970, John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, released on the Apple label. It is the last song on Side One. The song is about Lennon’s feelings of vulnerability, dissatisfied with the way his life was going. The Beatles had broken up and he was feeling disillusioned with fame, especially because he and his wife Yoko Ono were the subjects of attacks. At the time, he was full of insecurity and self-doubt, feelings brought on by his extensive drug use. In Isolation he found release, inspired by Primal Therapy which he experienced in the summer of 1970, guided by Dr. Arthur Janov. The song was recorded in September-October 1970.
In the first verse, he is saying that even though he and Yoko have everything, they feel as lonely and isolated as everyone else. The second verse alludes to the couple’s political activism and the way people reacted to it caused even more isolation. The third verse is more generalized to include all those who have caused his pain; he absolves them because they are only human, and all of humanity is victim of insanity at times. The fourth verse generalizes even more, putting people’s fears of each other and even the sun into the context of a universe which may be permanent, but our planet may not be, this last concept illustrated by the song’s abrupt ending.
The pain the song addresses is enhanced by musical dissonance, especially the use of semitone, or half step, intervals. Musicologist Wilfred Mellers called Isolation an “Anglicized version of Negro piano blues.” The instrumentation starts with just drums, played by Ringo Starr, and piano, played by Lennon, as back up to his vocals. As the song becomes louder and more emotional, an organ, also played by John, is added. There is also a bass guitar played by Klaus Voorman, a German artist and musician who designed the covers of albums of the Beatles and many other bands. The mood of isolation is enhanced by silences incorporated into the sad melody.
Several covers were made of the song, including by Marianne Faithfull and Snow Patrol (a northern Irish-Scottish indie rock band) in 2005. Harry Nilssen, Joe Cocker, and Matthew Sweet, among others, also recorded the song. Johnny Depp and Jeff Beck have released the newest version, in April 2020.
Lens-Artists’ theme for this week’s photo challenge, in these pandemic times, is At Home.
Here in our quarantined community, we do get out and walk around the campus, but these photos have been taken within the last month inside our house.
In an effort to entertain us, the activities directors at our senior community are airing videos on our close-captioned TV stations. This was one of them – the Chicago Symphony Orchestra playing Beethoven’s 9th Symphony!
We do spend most of our time in the room with the TV these days, because it’s also where our computers are and where all my art supplies are. Sometimes when we are watching the news, I’ll just listen to the news while drawing. Here’s a recent drawing – I’d been wanting to do a swan on black paper.
Here’s my husband, Dale with our cat, Hazel, sitting on the couch watching something on TV the day after the symphony.
Last fall a friend gave me a bagful of daffodil bulbs. I had too many to plant in one spot, so I did an experiment, planting some on the east side of the house, some in front (which gets little sun), a few in a pot on the back patio, and a few in a raised bed of mulch with lots of pine needles. Obviously, the ones on the east side of the house bloomed first.
Next, one daffodil bloomed in the patio pot. But a late snowfall last week knocked it over!
Fortunately, the snow melted quickly and it popped right up again! None of the other daffodils have bloomed – just the leaves have come up!
Since we spend so much in the room with our electronic entertainment, here’s another view of that room – which, like many of my interior photos, has my cat in it!
The only plants I have inside are a perennial geranium, and an orchid plant. The orchid has been blooming for two months – recently half the blooms fell off, but there are five left. The geranium and the orchid sit on the window sill over my kitchen sink.
A few days ago, I was taking photos of my closet for another photo challenge, Becky’s April Squares, and who did I find in there? Hazel, of course! I think when she jumps on a shelf in the closet, it probably means she doesn’t want humans around. Her look is one of surprise, annoyance, or both!
She likes that we are home a lot these days, but there’s such a thing as too much togetherness!
In this photo, she’s perched on the back of a chair on our screened porch. She loves being out there, for the fresh air and to watch the squirrels and birds! This was another late snowy day! Since taking this photo, I’ve moved these all-weather chairs outside on the patio, since recently Dale bought a little “bistro” table for the porch at Costco. I’m hoping it will soon be warm enough to sit out there and read or eat lunch.
We are fortunate that a walk around the entire campus of our community is one mile, so we do walk outside every day that the weather is decent and usually do two rounds. That is when we have a chance to see our friends and neighbors that we miss seeing a lot more often! It also gives us a chance to watch the progress of the swans. The other day, the female “Duchess” (as she’s been named by a majority of interested residents) was off her nest completely. Five eggs! They should be hatching in mid-May, and probably several of our resident ducks will be venturing out with their little ones too!
So we have plenty of space to live out this quarantine without it being too onerous. I feel sorry for friends who live alone! We have our meals delivered to our door and here’s the most alarming thing – the amount of Styrofoam we are accumulating! A fellow environmentally-conscious resident has found a place that recycles it (which is rare), so we are now collecting the containers instead of throwing them away. I suppose she’ll take them to the recycler when quarantine is over – hopefully the end of May!
There are lots of different kinds of flowering trees, and this looked to me like a dogwood or maybe apple blossoms. I looked it up with the Plant Snap app on my phone and found out it is a pear tree! It is a young tree so I don’t think it will yield pears yet, but the blossoms are pretty!
Mind Over Memory has a weekly invitation for sculpture photos. Last year, when we got home from our trip to the Middle East, we visited the Egyptian exhibit at The Field Museum in Chicago. These are sculptures – or sculpted wooden mummy cases. Royalty in ancient Egypt would encase their mummified loved ones in several of these cases. The wooden ones might be painted, while others were made of bronze or glass.
Small sculptures of gods would also be buried in the tomb to offer protection in the afterlife.
Topical Tropical Trinity questions are about your interests, your passions, your hobbies and activities and about living your life in general.
Each weekly game will have a fixed ‘subject’ and ask you two basic questions – and one three fold question.
Today’s Questions for Topical Tropical Trinity are based on .. “Lockdown Limbo” Q.1 How long have you personally been in lockdown – when was the last times you were out and about and will you automatically return to your life post-lockdown?
My husband and I live in a senior community, which declared lockdown (stay-at-home) the week of March 17. I’m don’t remember if the governor declared it that week or the next week. We have a new routine which took a couple of weeks to adjust to. We get our news from staff and exercise classes on TV – we have 2 close-captioned TV channels here.
I’ve only been “out” (off campus) a couple of times since then. It doesn’t seem that long though. The last time I was somewhere other than here was not for a good reason – I found out my son had OD’d on pills due to depression, and had been in the hospital, but was released. We went to his residence and pounded on the door and yelled his name until he answered. We had to find out how he was. He was OK, but this stay-at-home order is making life very difficult for him. He suffers from depression, a diagnosis he’s had for many years, which has made it hard for him to work steadily. He last worked for Uber, but he doesn’t want to do that now and have “random people” in his car. So he’s stuck at home and is getting bored with watching movies. (Things are really bad for him when he says he’s sick of watching movies!)
When this is all over (if ever!), I will resume my former life but it won’t be terribly different. I will start doing meetings with friends live instead of on Zoom, and I’ll go back to my book clubs, church and choir. When we take walks around here, we see some of our friends doing the same, so we stop to chat while standing on opposite sides of the road. (One friend carries a large umbrella – he’s figured out that the length of the umbrella plus the length of his extended arm is the mandated 6 feet!)
Q.2 Are you happy with your progress so far and your ability to stay sane? [Alternative question – When did you pass Go on the Insane journey – how is that going for you?] Both Dale and I still have our wits about us. Dale spends a lot of his day watching Facebook videos. They are very eclectic musically, and sometimes very humorous. I read, write, blog, draw, do housework (Dale does that too), and try not to snack much – I’ve been able to keep my weight and have actually taken off a few pounds by eating only two normal sized meals a day, plus a reasonably healthy snack. We watch special programs the social directors provide – old movies, lectures, Cirque du Soleil, funny videos. We go out and walk around campus every day. Nature continues its march into spring, so I have a lot to delight me – green grass, flowers, and the mating of our resident swans. In May, I’ll start my garden. Since our community has most things we need – meals, exercise equipment, parties and other activities in “normal” times – we are not finding life so different. And the social directors have contests and games for us too! When the cygnets will be born is one of the contests – I said May 20, but now I think it will be earlier.
I do miss my church and library friends, however. And I can’t wait to be able to travel again! Will my reunion in Arizona still take place in June? What about our cruise to the Amazon next November? Right now, I have no idea.
I did get a feeling of dread earlier this week when our governor announced lockdown will continue through May. Our state has had more than 20,000 cases of COVID-19 and the death toll keeps rising, although Chicago isn’t suffering as much as New York. The good thing is that he’s allowing some businesses to open, including golf courses, so that will get Dale out of the house!
The alteration in our routine means never going out without masks, (fortunately I know people who make them), calling in our dinner selections by 2 pm and having it delivered to our door. The most alarming thing is the amount of Styrofoam we’ve accumulated and the amount of time I spend wasting time!
Q.3 Have you started a new hobby? Not a new one, I’m just trying to get back into my artwork (I miss my art classes!). I think about trying to take up the piano again, but keep resisting. Meanwhile, I have projects I’m trying to get done, because I have no excuse not to! I’ve already completed one, which was organizing and labeling the things in our linen/bathroom closet.
Actually, I have started a new hobby – I’ve downloaded a new game onto my phone called Wordstacks, and have quickly gotten addicted. I spend way too much time on games and puzzles on my phone. I also am reading more, because it doesn’t matter really when I go to bed or wake up.
When was the last time you talked to the toilet? [No to the toilet not in the toilet] I don’t talk to the toilet – I don’t have to because I talk to myself a lot, carrying on full conversations with me, I talk to the cat, to my husband, of course, and to some inanimate objects, but not the toilet. This has always been normal for me.
If you share the house with others – either animal or human – how is the extended home time coming along with loved ones? Too much togetherness, I guess, but I think in general it’s been more bearable having someone else living with me. I pity the residents here who live alone! Our cat is overjoyed at having us around all the time. She can now beg for scraps from our dinner again, and we aren’t constantly leaving to do activities. Dale is the one who ventures out to stores to buy groceries about once a week. I’m looking forward to him going golfing again because he sometimes becomes demanding!
I think the change hasn’t been as onerous for us as for others, such as our kids. We are retired so are used to fluidity in our routines and we don’t have a workplace to go to or income to lose. I mentioned our son; our daughter and her husband are working from home, but our daughter still has to go into Chicago three times a week on public transportation, so she won’t let us come near her or her husband, or our beautiful grandcats! They moved into our old house when we moved here, so they’re renting from us. They are especially grateful now, because they each have their own “office” in different parts of the house, and they can chill out on the deck out back. Our daughter said if this had happened when they still lived in their apartment, she would have killed her husband by now! Both love to cook so sometimes they deliver food to us, which is a treat!
Are we in a “new normal” era? Some people say yes, others say no. We have been experiencing this stay-at-home edict for over a month now, and our governor just extended it to May 30! And since 95% of the world is under some kind of stay-at-home order, I can’t help thinking, what is the new normal?
In our current reality, it is normal to:
See people walking around, working, talking, even teaching exercise classes wearing masks.
Get lots of ads on our phones for masks in a variety of colors and patterns – masks have become fashionable!
Become an expert at Zoom.
Hear daily statistics on TV with the updated number of cases of COVID-19 and number of deaths.
Listen to entire news shows dedicated entirely to the pandemic and continue watching several of these shows back to back.
Get a lot of coloring pages done.
Accumulate an immense amount of Styrofoam that our meals come in.
Play games on our phone a lot, (and those that I play with respond quickly, because they are doing the same thing!)
Download more game apps onto our phones or computers.
Think about all the projects I could be working on while sitting in a recliner playing games on my phone.
Go for weeks without having to take time to decide what to wear.
Go for walks mainly to see friends and neighbors to stop and chat with, and then stand on the opposite side of the roadway when we do.
Give people a very wide berth when passing them.
Drink wine every day.
Only read newspapers that come to the house three days later, in order not to risk touching the wrapper it comes in.
Throw away any bit of food that falls on the floor even if it’s within the five-second rule.
Ask “where did the time go?” because it’s afternoon and I feel like I just got up.
Find delight in the small things that otherwise might go unnoticed.
It is by no means certain that when this pandemic is over, life will go back to normal (i.e. the way it was before). There are lessons to be learned here, both for ourselves and for our country. I’m not sure what will result from lessons learned (if lessons are learned). But I do think in our future “new normal,” people will find a way to greet people other than shaking hands, we will appreciate much more the warm company of our family and friends, and have new respect for pizza delivery drivers. And for me, I’m looking forward to being able to travel again!