SYW: Laughter, Music, Soaring, and Conservation

Melanie has some great questions this week for Share Your World!

QUESTIONS

How do you tell if someone has a sense of humor? 
If they laugh a lot. I know a woman who has the most unique laugh, and when I hear that laugh across the room, I know it’s her. She laughs often and when I’m with her I try to say funny things so I can hear her laugh!

What sort of music do you prefer?
Prefer: Right now, classical, but my tastes change sometimes. I also like rock, especially the Beatles (I have the Beatles Channel on my XM radio in the car). I like folk, blues, and world music of all types. This month, I’m hearing a lot of Celtic music! As for jazz, I only like certain kinds. I like big band and Dixieland but not “improvisational” jazz which just goes on and on. I get tired of it. But usually I choose classical or certain vocal groups, such as the Angel City Chorale (this group sings just about anything).

Thoughts on gravy or ‘sauce”?   Yea or nay?

I like some sauces, especially salsa if it’s mild (my digestive system doesn’t tolerate anything spicy) and has fruit like mango added to it. Gravy is okay, I don’t use it unless the meat is really dry – too many empty calories!

Would you enjoy a hot air balloon ride?

I’m not sure…I have had opportunities to go on them, for an additional cost, during tours when I’m traveling. But my husband is afraid of heights and absolutely would never go on one. So unless I had someone to go with, I probably wouldn’t. I guess I’m neutral.

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GRATITUDE SECTION (As always, optional)

What do you think is widely taken for granted?  

The goods and services we enjoy in our society. We never thank anyone for the water that automatically comes out of our faucets when we turn on the tap. We don’t thank anyone for the electricity that powers our lights and electronics. I am reading a fantastic book, Braiding Sweetgrass, in which I found out that many Native American tribes thank everything they use – the animals they kill and use every part of, the trees which provide so much more than just shade, and plants that provide them with food. Saying grace before a meal is a good – but, I fear, dying – custom. It seems the more we have, the more we want and the more we take it all for granted. This is, I’m afraid, is what makes people reluctant to conserve – to reduce, reuse, and recycle – in order to save our precious resources.

SYW: Strange Growths & Music, Horrible History & Food…and Thoughts of Travel

Here are Melanie’s questions for her Share Your World this week.

Questions

What’s the strangest thing in your refrigerator?
Cottage cheese that’s been in there since last summer. I imagine some strange things are growing on it by now! When I clean the ‘frig (and that should be soon!), I’ll throw it out without releasing the strange beasties!

Would you rather hear the music of Johann Sebastian Bach played by a barbershop quartet, or a heavy metal band? Barbershop, no question. First of all, I don’t like heavy metal – it gives me a headache. Second, I’m used to barbershop because my brother-in-law sings in a barbershop chorus and quartets, so I’ve gotten to like it. And it’s much easier on the ears that heavy metal! But – just symantics – barbershops don’t “play” music, they only sing; their music is by its nature a cappella. I imagine their version of Toccata and Fugue in D minor would start something like this:

Leads: Ba da da! Ba da diddle da da!
Baritones: Da da da! Dee dum dum da!
Basses: Doo doo doo! Doo doo doodle doo doo…

You get the idea…don’t you?

The Arlingtones performed at North School Park in Arlington Heights, Illinois last summer.

If you could erase one event from history, which one would you erase? The Holocaust
(although there are many other ‘good’ candidates, the Spanish Inquisition and the Crusades among them).

If your food is bad at a restaurant, do you say something? I send it back, hoping to get a better replacement before everyone else has finished eating and are ready to leave.


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GRATITUDE SECTION (as always, optional):

On one side of the earth we’re facing upcoming spring, and on the other autumn.   What positive or uplifting thought do these changes bring to you? Thoughts of renewed travel: to Europe this spring, and to Australia & New Zealand in the fall (when it’s spring down under)!

(OK, I could have said something like the beauty of the cycle of life or anticipation of flowers, but after 2 years stuck at home, travel is the most positive and uplifting thought I can think right now!)

Trivial Thought for the day: The word “queue” is just the letter Q followed by four silent letters.

FPQ #159: Love Is All You Need

Fandango’s Provocative Question this week is as follows:

If there are only three things in life that truly matter, what do you think they are and why did you choose those three?

My answers are all about love, which leads to all else that truly matter.

  1. Self-love. If you don’t love yourself, you will not have the capacity to truly and selflessly love others, and you will probably have a miserable life. Self-love (or self-esteem) involves self-care: taking care of your physical and mental health and seeking help when needed; searching for work that really suits you and that you like; it brings out loving characteristics, such as kindness, respect, honesty, gratitude, and the ability to smile every day. Self-love allows you to feel gratitude for things great and small that you have or that happen to you. Self-love also is genuinely accepting love from others.
  2. Love for others: friends and family. I am lucky to have a wonderful extended family that loves and supports each other, and we are also financially secure. I am blessed for that! But even without actual kin, you can create a family of sorts with the people that love and care for you, perhaps a group/organization you belong to, or people who share your residence, or just your friends in general. Love for others, though, goes beyond these relationships. It is also caring for people you don’t even know, people who live in other countries, compassion for those who are suffering, nearby and far away. There is too much hate in our world today. Love for others means being kind toward others, showing respect, being honest, helping and showing interest in others. Love for others is non-judgmental; it’s about showing gratitude for others’ gifts, support, love, and care. If more people spent their time loving others, instead of hating or putting people down, this world would be a much better place! We might even have peace all over the world – imagine no more war!
  3. Love for Earth or the natural world. I am reading a very good book right now, called Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer. The author is a Native American (Potawatomi) woman who writes about loving and showing gratitude for the gifts we receive from others, especially from the land. She shows how the natural world gives us gifts every day, which we would appreciate if we just stopped and looked around: every living thing, as well as non-living things, is here for a purpose and each has its own work to do to provide gifts to other living things, including ourselves. We are part of the web of life of this planet and we should not take it for granted.
  1. Love for Earth means taking care of it – this is the home of everyone and every thing we know, and it’s the only one we have – as of 2022, we cannot move anywhere else! Climate scientists are issuing dire warnings that we must curb our reliance on fossil fuels and the emission of greenhouse gases. Already the planet has heated up to the point where we are seeing more natural disasters: flooding on coastlines as the sea level rises, wildfires that destroy everything in their path in areas with prolonged drought, hurricanes which have increased in number and intensity due to the warming of the oceans, avalanches where excessive rainfall causes the eroding of the soil, and many others. It will soon affect us all, especially our children, grandchildren, and successive generations who will continue to live here. And scientists warn that eventually it will be an unpleasant place to live.

    To love the Earth, we must stop polluting air, land, and bodies of water. Increasingly, medical scientists are finding that many forms of cancer are caused by breathing polluted air or drinking polluted water. Also, the land is home for many animals who share this planet with us and we are trashing their homes! A sixth massive extinction is taking place right now, and it is being caused by human activities. Even if you are a person who really doesn’t care about people outside your circle of family and friends, every creature on this planet has a purpose – plants and animals that feed us, species that provide medicines which can cure many diseases (and we haven’t found them all, so some may become extinct without being able to provide us with its gift of healing medicines), and the removal of which disrupts the food chain, either in minor or major ways – we can make predictions but cannot say for sure how serious the impact of altering any particular food chain will be.

    People who show love for the natural world work, if they can, to advocate for cleaner ways of living, for finding solutions to problems such as how to provide fuel to heat people’s homes, provide energy for cars, machinery, etc. A great lover of the Earth is the Swedish young woman Greta Thunberg, who has turned her local protest at her high school into a worldwide movement. But there are many ways to love and show gratitude toward the natural world, including recycling, reducing what we use (such as single use plastics), and reusing what we can. It includes walking outside on a pleasant day and appreciating the beauty of the flowers (if they are blooming where you are) or the cycle of life, in which each season has its purpose to perpetuate future seasons. It includes having gratitude for the (hopefully) fresh air we breathe, for the coolness of a stream we dabble our toes in, for the sun that warms us and the moon and stars which cheer us.

SYW: Happy Valentine Birthday

It’s Valentine’s Day Monday, so Melanie’s Share Your World questions are all about this day of love.

Which traditional Valentine’s Day  gift would you rather receive: chocolates, flowers, or a card with a personal message?

Flowers with a card and chocolates!

Do you like romantic movies?
Yes, some of them. Actually, my husband is a lot more into rom-coms than I am. He watches the same ones over and over when given the opportunity!

Is Valentine’s Day only about romantic love? Or is it a good occasion to celebrate friendship as well?
It’s both. And actually it’s a day to have a birthday celebration too! (See below)

How do you deal with unwanted romantic attention?
Hahahaha! I wish!!

GRATITUDE SECTION (As always, optional)

Share one or two of your favorite memories of your special loved one if you’d like.
My husband, Dale, has his birthday on Valentine’s Day. Today he had a very special Valentine birthday! In the morning, he presented me with a very LARGE Happy Valentine’s Day bag. In it were two gifts for me for Valentine’s Day as well as a mushy card (he always gets those!). I had not even had the chance to wrap his birthday gift yet, but when I returned home from a book discussion group, he had gone to a doctor’s appointment, so I was able to get his gift ready. But he had a real surprise in store for him! First, he got several cards and phone calls wishing him happy birthday. The doorbell rang and it was one of our friends from our senior community delivering two beautiful cupcakes (they must have been from Mariano’s – this supermarket is known for its elaborately decorated desserts) along with a card from him and his wife! Dale was sheepish!

The cupcakes from Mariano’s!

We had an early dinner reservation because I had arranged for my brother-in-law’s barbershop quartet to come serenade him with a singing Valentine, and it was to be their last singing Valentine of the day! I had to make up an excuse to have dinner so early, so I told Dale I had to go to church for a rehearsal and he didn’t suspect anything. Before the quartet arrived, six of us were settled at our table set for seven. (The 7th was for my sister, who arrived late.) These were all friends or friendly acquaintances of ours, but especially friends of my sister’s. One of the women has a walker and on it she had brought a beautiful bouquet of roses for the table and a box of cookies to share with us, as well as a bottle of wine! So we had quite a celebration, even before my brother-in-law’s singing Valentine arrived! The guys presented him with a red rose (which he left on our table!! 😦 ) and sang three romantic songs, ending with Happy Birthday.

Oh, and I almost forgot – Dale got a call from our son during dinner to wish him happy birthday and they had a long conversation. This was very special because our son never remembers to call us on our birthdays. He has really turned over a new leaf!!

So we had a very memorable and fun celebration. And we still have the cupcakes to enjoy on another day!!

The quartet singing to Dale (who is on the far right of this photo). In the middle is Sally, the woman who brought the wine, cookies and flowers for the table. On the far left is my sister Mary.
The quartet poses with Dale, with the rose in his mouth! My brother-in-law Elmer is on the left, wearing a black mask.

Here is a barbershop quartet (not Elmer’s!) singing Let Me Call You Sweetheart, a standard for singing valentines.

SYW: HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Melanie has holiday-related questions this week for Share Your World.

  1. What is your least favorite holiday side dish?  (for any holiday)
    Anything with raisins. Also, I am not fond of peas and pearl onions. I like onions, but it’s a dish that’s not worth putting on my plate with so many other more delicious choices!
  2. What is the ugliest or most tasteless decoration you’ve ever seen?
    Those over-the-top decorations with a million lights that light up the entire neighborhood! Also, it’s kind of incongruous to see Santa Claus flying down to the Holy Family in a manger!
This house in Rolling Meadows, IL won the annual Daily Herald (local newspaper) holiday decoration contest in 2020.
Partial view of the same house
  • What is a cherished or unusual (either or both) family tradition from your childhood?   
    Watching the black-and-white 1950s version of the operetta Amahl and the Night Visitors. My siblings & I watched it so many times that we practically memorized it! (You can find the 1951 version, the 1963 version and a newer version on You Tube.)
  • You’re walking down the street, feeling great — what holiday song would be playing in the background? All I Want for Christmas Is You.

GRATITUDE SECTION    (Always optional)

 Feel Free To Share Anything That You’d Like Today!   Wish Someone A Happy Holiday!  Our Moorings choir sang this to end our concert this year for the residents of our community. Of course, the video is not of us!! But it’s the same version we did. It’s a nice, upbeat song, so I wish you…and you, and you, and you, happy, happy, happy holidays!!

MERRY CHRISTMAS (or whatever you celebrate this season) AND HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL!!

If: It’s Hypothetical (SoCS)

If is a preposition at the beginning of a clause supposing something. In many European languages, “if” requires a verb in the subjunctive tense, because it is speculation about something that hasn’t happened (yet) or an alternative or hypothetical scenario. In English, the subjunctive would be thus: If I were...

But nowadays, most people say “If I was” so the subjunctive is falling into disuse. But it is very much alive in the Romance or Latin languages as well as many others. Learning what comes after “if” in Spanish means I have to think of how to conjugate the verb that follows. After a while, it becomes a habit: “Si quisieras” (if you want…) sounds right and I feel proud of myself for remembering to use the subjunctive! I was brought up in a highly literate family, my parents requiring us to speak properly – we would get corrected if, for example, we said “Me and Joe are going to the concert.” Commonplace nowadays, but not right. It sounds sloppy, ignorant. An “if” clause, however, would perhaps not sound so dissonant, because it has become acceptable not to use “were” as a subjunctive verb.

Also, most verbs in English don’t have a different form for an if clause: “If I wanted” is the same form of “want” as would be used for past tense in any context. I would wager that most people who read this may not even know what I am talking about! (Subjunctive? What is that?) If you study French, or Portuguese, or Italian, for more than one college semester, you will definitely have to learn it!

“If I were hoping to go on a cruise” is actually correct, but often now you will utter “If I was hoping to go on a cruise.” It still sounds dissonant to me, but it doesn’t bother me because I don’t use the subjunctive as often as I used to. Sometimes I forget all about it. I guess English speakers think IF is enough to signal a hypothetical event. Eventually it will be so rare that saying “if I were” will sound strange.

As for going on a cruise…I’m ready to go! No ifs, ands or buts about it!

(My attempt at stream of conscience writing this week for the SoCS challenge.)


Friendly Friday: Purple Haze

The Friendly Friday challenge is a bi-weekly all-inclusive challenge, meaning it includes photos, prose, poetry, or anything else related to the theme, which currently is PURPLE. My first entry is purple in music videos. Mostly in the genre of rock or pop, I have also included a children’s song and a video by Asian band (?) Ponzona called Purple Kiss. My favorite is Purple Haze, but that’s because it brings back memories of youth! It’s a rather eclectic selection, so I hope you enjoy it!

For more information about the Friendly Friday challenge, click here. The great thing about Friendly Friday is you can participate in each topic as many times as you feel inspired to!

SYW: On the Greater Good, Ferris Wheels, Violins & Trumpets

Melanie has a new set of questions today for her Share Your World challenge.

QUESTIONS

A mixed bag today

What do you think of the idea of the ‘greater good’ principle?
I think it is central for a just and equal society. Although we have “freedom” that doesn’t mean we can – or should – do whatever we want to. This is one of my major concerns about American society, that people confuse freedom and individuality. We have gotten so selfish and blame others – mostly the downtrodden – for our own inability to get ahead in life. There are things that living in a society compels one to do – to behave responsibility and with caring for others, whether or not those people are part of your family or social circle. Mask wearing during the pandemic was for the greater good. Some individuals would be inconvenienced by it, but overall, society will benefit – indeed, has benefited by the mask mandate.

Do you enjoy riding a roller coaster or other amusement park type ride?
I’m a wimp – the Ferris wheel is as daring as I get. Many cities have these gigantic Ferris wheels nowadays; I guess they provide riders a good view from the top. London, Sydney – probably many more – saw how successful it was in the city where it was invented – Chicago!

Which musical instrument is the most annoying to you personally?
There isn’t a particular instrument – it’s more the way that the instrument is played. I mean this in two ways: If the person playing the instrument isn’t very good or doesn’t have the “musicality” to play it, and the type of music or piece that is being played.

In the first instance, I would say violin or really any stringed instrument. If the person playing it isn’t very good, it sounds horrible. But I suppose that could be said about any instrument. In orchestras, there are a lot of violins – the stringed instruments are the most noticeable because the strings moat often carry the melody. I’ve been to concerts with a violin section that isn’t very good, and, in some pieces especially, it is really cringeworthy.

I have seen violins played in a variety of ways and in various types of music, and if the musician is good, it sounds fantastic. I think, however, that the violin is one of the most difficult instruments to learn well. I’m not just talking about classical music – I love ‘fiddling” and most of the fiddlers I’ve heard are real professional.

I have an eclectic taste in music; there are few genres I don’t like in general. I like jazz, but there are certain kinds of jazz that I don’t like, like when the piece gets very long with a lot of ad libbing and showcasing one instrument with lengthy solos. In these cases, it is usually the trumpet that I don’t like, because it can get very “screechy” when the musician is experimenting with it.

Would you rather have a vivid imagination or a photographic memory if you had to choose just one?
I already have a vivid imagination, but I have always envied people with a “photographic memory.” My memory has always been bad, but it’s deteriorating even more now that I’m getting older. So I guess I would like to have a good memory – it would have helped a lot during my working years, and maybe twenty years from now would help me stave off dementia!


GRATITUDE SECTION (always optional)

Feel free to share fun plans for this season that you might have.   Especially now that many places are lifting restrictions and travel is a bit easier.
I had hoped to go abroad before the end of this year, but due to my husband’s health issues, we can’t make any firm plans, so we are planning a road trip to the Northeast in October. We may cross into Canada if we have our passports by that time.