The Changing Seasons: June 2020

The Changing Seasons, sponsored by Su Leslie, is a monthly challenge where bloggers around the world share what’s been happening in their month. If you would like to join in, here are the guidelines:

The Changing Seasons Version One* (photographic):

Each month, post 5-20 photos in a gallery that you feel represent your month
Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots.
Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so that others can find them.

*Click on the above link to find out an alternate version (VERSION TWO).

June 2020 was a month of continued Covid-19 restrictions, finding ways to keep pleasantly occupied, and the appreciation of nature.

There were flowers that bloomed, on campus…

…and off, in nature preserves we visited to get away for a few hours.

I had fun modifying some of my flower photos with a software called SnapSeed!

There has also been wildlife to watch on campus, mainly birds.

Scenes in forest preserves:

Because Illinois has begun to lift restrictions a little, we are now allowed to gather in small groups, so I got together with three friends as well as with our daughter & son-in-law. Most special was to be able to play with our grandcats again! Our kids are currently renting our house, and planning to buy it next year; meanwhile, they’re making changes to suit their tastes!

And, of course, there’s no place like home, with our cat Hazel, and our family members with “Covid hair”!

Book Challenge: Classics, Cover Art & Personal Reading

Day 28: Classic novel you haven’t read but plan to: I looked up my “want to read” books on Goodreads, and right at the top was Middlemarch by George Eliot. There are 57 books currently on my “want to read” list on Goodreads! And instead of reading them, I read other books that interest me at a particular time.

Day 29: Book cover you love: That’s a hard one! Some books are great but their covers are awful. Yet I suppose people may be attracted to a book by its cover art. The cover I love is a book I have not read, but the cover art is by Gustav Klimt. It is a biography of the artist, Gustav Klimt: 1862-1918 by by Gilles Néret.

Day 30: Book you are reading right now: I’m just starting 11/22/63 by Stephen King. This is not one of his usual horror books and is the book that will be reviewed in September at one of the book groups I am in. It is a very long book (!) about a time traveler who tries to prevent the assassination of President Kennedy. In order to read it, I am putting aside The Twelfth Transforming by Pauline Gedge, a novel of ancient Egypt set in the time of the “heretic” king Akhenaten. (I’m obsessed with ancient Egypt right now – it takes my mind off the pandemic and Trump.) This is also a long book, but it’s on my Kindle and the Stephen King book is from the library.

Thank you, Sandman Jazz for this June challenge!

LAPC: Surprise!

We have so many surprises in life. Unfortunately, it is rare for me to get a picture of it – such as the swans on one of our lakes mating! Another resident here, a wily older man from Germany, took a series of pictures of the swans’ mating ritual – before, during, and after – close-up! I’m not that clever, I guess.  So at first I was hard pressed to think of photos I had taken that represent surprise, which is the topic of Lens-Artists’ photo challenge this week. I noticed several participants had freaky nature photos, which I don’t.

Still, nature often does provide more subtle surprises. I call this photo “Hostas with a hostage” – because they’ve completely surrounded a flower pot!

Every day that I go to our community garden, I take a look at others’ gardens and sometimes take photos. I took the “before” picture as an example for my daughter how to plant marigolds around your garden to protect it from squirrels, etc.  I took the photo ion early June.

Then a few days ago, I noticed how fast it grew – it doesn’t look like the same garden!

Is this normal? I don’t know, but we have had a good balance of sunny and rainy weather this month. Nature always surprises me. When I went to the nursery to buy plants in mid-May, I saw this unusual flower – it looks like it is wearing a bonnet!

A safari always brings surprises – you never know what you are going to see and every safari is different. On our Tanzanian safari, I had almost given up seeing a leopard closer up than this:

Then, on our last day in Serengeti National Park, we were bumping along a dusty road when suddenly our driver turned around and sped back to the spot where we’d seen the leopard in a tree. He’d been notified that there were “spots below” (code for leopard on the ground). The leopard had gotten up from her nap and came down the tree, where she looked around at all the tourists gawking at her.

Seeing no danger, (all the humans were “contained”), she then leisurely ambled past all the safari trucks, including ours.

Another big surprise we had in Tanzania was seeing groups of boys alongside the road, who were undergoing a monthlong puberty ritual. Our guide told us this was very unusual to see, since the Maasai only undergo this ritual every three years – the boys are aged about 12-15.

These boys paint their faces white and wear black during the monthlong ritual in which they go from being boys to men. They have to spend a month living communally, away from their families, and are not allowed to associate with anyone in their village except each other.

Surprises come in many forms. Sometimes you can be driving along a country road, as we were, in north central Iowa, when we came across “Pinkie.”

And I love coming across unusual sights walking around the city of Chicago.

Speaking of Iowa, our biggest surprise on our 4-day trip there happened when we checked into our hotel in Mason City for the night. The concierge asked us if we wanted to see the band American English in concert that night. The tickets were free and American English is the best Beatles tribute band in the country. They were to play at the Surf Ballroom, a famous concert venue in Clear Lake, Iowa (about 20 miles from Mason City), known for the event “the day the music died” when Ritchie Valens, Buddy Holly and “The Big Bopper” Richardson played their last concert before being killed in a plane crash.

So we said, “Why not?” and spent a completely unexpected evening in a crowded theatre where people were dancing in the aisles and singing along. It was great!

Selfie of me and Dale having a great time with people of our generation!

SYW: Evidence vs. Belief, Happiness vs. Sadness, and Gravity

I love Mondays when Melanie issues a new Share Your World!

SHAREYOURWORLDSTARHANDS

Questions:

Must we have evidence to know the truth?
Yes. However, people have different ideas of what constitutes evidence. For example, if someone commits a crime and goes to trial, it is up to the jury to examine the evidence presented in order to assess whether the person is guilty or not. Many times, prejudices get in the way and the person – especially a person of color – may be subconsciously judged which taints the evidence. Juries are supposed to be selected carefully in order to minimize that, but as we all know, our system of justice isn’t perfect.

On the other hand, there are people who don’t believe in God because they say there is no evidence. How can God’s existence be empirically *proven? Some would point to the wonders of nature as evidence. Some would point to the Bible. But neither of these are empirical evidence. And for many people, it’s not just blind belief either. I myself have struggled with faith for years. I am a strong believer in science and the scientific method, as well as in empirical evidence. However, I do believe in God, but I cannot prove his/her/its existence. I may have a different concept of what God is, and I do not believe in many of the dogmas or tenets of Christian belief, yet I call myself Christian. Bill Maher, of HBO fame, seems to believe that if you believe in God, you are stupid or naïve. (This is one of the reasons I stopped watching his show, even when we had HBO.) Some of the most brilliant minds in history also have had faith in a god. But I don’t want to write a treatise on the evidence for the existence of God.

So, we get back to the question, which I answer with another question: what constitutes evidence?

How much control does a person have over their life?
Not total control, but one does have the ability to deal in different ways with the things that happen that are out of one’s control. I do not believe there is some supreme being controlling our movements like a marionette. There are things that happen that are out of our control. What we do control is how to react to those situations, and what we can learn from them. Sometimes it’s just “shit happens.” Other times, there is a lesson to be learned as far as how to handle the shit that is happening.

After professing my belief in God, I must say here that God (as I perceive him/her/it) does not intervene in our lives. Sometimes, I say, “that was a God moment,” meaning a mini ‘miracle’ has happened, but not that God is controlling that moment.

What is gravity and how does it work?
Gravity sucks.

Can a person be happy if they have never experienced sadness?  How about vice versa?
I don’t believe there is such a thing as never experiencing sadness. Everyone experiences sadness. There are degrees of sadness, and happiness, I suppose. But I do think we appreciate happiness more if we have a memory of sadness to compare it with, and vice versa.


Gratitude:

Please feel free to share a song, a poem, a quote or an image or photo to show what you were grateful for during this past week.    (Optional as always).
I am grateful for the small things of “opening” – such as:
I am grateful that the Arlington Heights library is open again.
I am grateful that I was able to gather with three friends in person last week.
I am grateful that I, along with every other resident in our senior community, was tested for COVID-19 and the results were “negative.”

I am grateful for ducklings!

*It was pure coincidence that while writing this, I realized I had also fulfilled FOWC!

Book Challenge: Bad Guys, Strong Women & Ancient Civilizations

3 more days of Sandman Jazz’s Book Challenge.

Day 25: Book villain you actually love: This was a hard one! I finally came up with Severus Snape, from the Harry Potter series. That is, I THOUGHT he was a villain, working for Voldemort. Of course, this turned out not to be the case, so he wasn’t really a villain, but he seemed like one long enough to qualify, in my opinion!

Alan Rickman as Severus Snape

Day 26: Biography you think everyone should read: I don’t read many biographies, but I think everyone (especially white men) should read a book about a strong and influential woman or person of color, to understand a different perspective. The two I recommend are actually autobiographies: My Own Words by Ruth Bader Ginsberg, and Becoming by  Michelle Obama.

Day 27: Book you read every year: I don’t! There are too many books, too little time! So I will say The Bible, because I have not read it from cover to cover but I read bits of it frequently. I’m not a particularly pious person, but I do attend church and often there is something in the Bible reading that I want to explore more about. And there certain parts I enjoy reading over and over. Right now, I’m slogging through the Book of Exodus, more for historical context, sort of a reference book. I’m interested in ancient civilizations. 

Moses & Aaron plead with Pharaoh Ramses II

All images courtesy of Google Images.