Day 19: Mail I almost always send holiday cards through the mail. Usually they are late, but this year I’ve mailed them all before Christmas! I order my cards from Shutterfly and couldn’t imagine what to send in this coronavirus year! The one I chose was amusing & appropriate, I thought – it just said “Well, That was CRAZY! Happy 2021 (finally)”. It included four photos, one a selfie of me and Dale in masks, one of Hazel, our cat, and two scenic. (I am unable to copy and paste it here and I used up all the cards!) I had Shutterfly print our return address on the back of the envelope, so sending them was easy! I only had to add my half-page letter, address, stamp, seal, and mail!
Day 20: Toys
Day 21: Snow We haven’t had any (yet)! But here are some photos from last winter.
Day 22: Night Last night, for the first time in 800 years, Saturn and Jupiter were to line up in the night sky, and we would see them as one brightish light near the horizon. We were going to go to a park after dark to look at this phenomenon, but alas! It was cloudy!
What I like about night at Christmas time is all the holiday lights that brighten up the darkness when the days are short and the sun sets before 4:30 p.m.!
What’s the tallest building you’ve been to the top of? Sears Tower (now officially Willis Tower, but Chicagoans still call it Sears Tower) – 104 floors! I went up by elevator but my 78-year-old brother-in-law climbs the stairs to the top once a year! Amazing!
What do you do to keep fit? Not enough, especially now with Covid + cold weather. I try to walk every day or most days. I try to get to the fitness center as often as allowed (3 days a week, 1/2 hour a day) and usually choose the stationary bike. I’m starting a new fitness program from New Zealand (called “Otago”) tomorrow for “older adults” to help with balance and reduce risk of falling. It has several types of exercises to be done each day.
What’s your jack-o-lantern carved to look like? I haven’t carved one in several years, for three reasons: 1. I’m really lousy at this and usually just was able to carve a rudimentary face with triangular eyes and smiling mouth with a couple of teeth sticking out. 2. My son is grown and moved out, and I’m retired from teaching, so there’s no incentive to do it. My husband has no interest. 3. When I used to put jack-o-lanterns on my front porch, either the squirrels got them or kids who had a thing about “smashing pumpkins” (isn’t there even a rock group with that name?) would steal them and smash them in the street.
Do you have hope or have you lost it? Bad day to ask (Monday, although I posted this Tuesday) – it has been a very depressing day in the news. On days like this, my heart feels heavy and I feel completely hopeless. Normally, I am fairly positive about life. *The U.S. Supreme Court now has a conservative majority of 6-3 thanks to the hypocrisy of the Republican Senate who pushed through Trump’s ultra-right-wing nominee one week before the election, when people have already been voting early all over the country. The Supreme Court is so politicized now, it’s no longer functioning as a “check” on the other branches of government! *Cases will be coming before this Supreme Court within weeks that may possibly take us backward by making abortion illegal and repealing the best health care system we’ve ever had (ACA, also known as “Obamacare”) with nothing to replace it and people dying every day from coronavirus. *Another fallout from this is the increased possibility of an election decided by the Supreme Court in Trump’s favor. If the presidential election is close, if Biden wins by a small margin, Trump will surely intervene to contest the results. He’s been saying for weeks that the “Supreme Court will decide the election!” He’s polling at 43-45% nationally, way too high for comfort, in my opinion. If the Democrats don’t win a majority in the Senate, it won’t matter if Biden is elected president – they will block every legislation from the House and override the president’s veto on their (Republicans’) legislation. On the other hand, if the Dems take the Senate, they will play hardball with the GOP in the Senate and with Trump if he is (God forbid) reelected. There are several Senate races that are very close and it is possible the Democrats will win, but they also have to retain every seat they currently hold! *Today or yesterday Trump signed an executive order in which loyalty will be considered when deciding whether to hire applicants for federal government jobs. Disloyalty will be cause for dismissal. An official from some obscure government agency quit today because of this, and wrote a letter which was released to the press stating his reason for quitting. We are moving dangerously close to a dictatorship. *Then there’s the new spike in coronavirus cases, which seems to be happening everywhere, but in this country especially. Today it was announced officially that the Trump administration’s policy toward Covid-19 is to do nothing to stop or curb it, and just wait for a vaccine. Trump has been lying about that too, saying the vaccine will be available “in a matter of a few weeks.” He’s also saying “we’re turning the corner” when there are more cases than ever and some hospitals’ ICUs are filled to capacity. *Due to the spike in cases in our area, the governor has imposed new restrictions, including no more indoor dining at restaurants. This is sad for me because weekly lunches with friends have been my only chance to see them and I looked forward to it every week. I’m not saying the governor was wrong to do this, but it is hard especially now that the weather is getting colder. *It snowed today, earlier even than last year when we had snow on Halloween. It quickly melted, but I had to get out my winter coats, which turned out to have been mildewed during their storage in a bag at the top of my closet! Meteorologists are predicting lower than normal temperatures in the next couple of weeks, with a few days respite in between.
Feel free to share something you’re grateful for! Images and photos or poems, essays or free writing (stream of consciousness) pieces are all acceptable! AND you don’t have to do this part, it’s always optional! Two things! 1. Some former art teachers are forming an art class, mostly people from our art class that was discontinued last spring. It starts tomorrow, so I’m looking forward to it! 2. The fall colors have been very beautiful this year, much better than the last few years. Here are a few photos I have taken on our campus recently:
This is a tough one to write about, since my favorite season is summer – it would be a lot easier to list 5 things I LOVE about summer. But since this is Dr. Tanya’s topic for her 5 Things challenge, this week, here goes…
1. Humidity – I would love to live in a drier climate. It can be a mild day, but I still sweat due to the high humidity here in Midwestern USA!
2. Extreme heat – temperatures in upper 80s and above. I just have to stay inside an air conditioned house in those conditions. I admit, though, that I didn’t mind it while traveling in Europe last year during a heat wave – maybe it’s less humid or maybe I was just having too much fun to care!
3. Bugs, especially mosquitoes and stinging insects. This is the one thing that every summer brings, and one of the few things I don’t like about this season.
4. Excessive air conditioning – I realize it’s highly desirable to have air conditioning, but many buildings have cranked up the air conditioning so that I feel cold – after all, we are wearing summer clothes, we don’t want to freeze in a restaurant! Hotel rooms, too – I hate their air conditioning – it’s usually noisy and I don’t sleep well in air conditioned rooms.
5. Getting into a hot car that’s been sitting in the sun – I can open the windows a little bit and put a sunshade over the windshield while it is parked, but these things don’t help too much – and if I’ve left a water bottle in there, the water is warm, ugh!
In the past, at the top of my list would be “sunburn” – but I don’t get sunburned anymore. My lifestyle has changed and I tend to protect myself, if needed, with sunscreen, but mostly by wearing a hat! And I just don’t go lie on beaches anymore – skin cancer is too much of a risk!
I so rarely get a photo of a rainbow – or at least a decent one! Rainbows are so ethereal and fleeting – one has to really be in the right place at the right time to see one! Therefore, I always consider it a special moment when I do get a photo of a rainbow, the subject of Nancy Merrill’s A Photo a Week.
The most recent photo I took of a rainbow was strictly by chance – I was taking a walk in our community last month and sprinklers were on. In the mist, I saw a rainbow and fortunately my camera was handy. Not very scenic, though.
However, the rainbow photos I’m most proud of were taken three years ago on our trip to the Dakotas. (If they look familiar, it’s because I have posted them before.) We were on our way back into South Dakota from a side trip to see Devil’s Tower in Wyoming. We’d taken a picnic for dinner, but had to rush because it started to rain. For a while, we were driving through pouring rain. Then the storm let up and South Dakota greeted us with a double rainbow! Sometimes we could see the fainter outer rainbow, other times no – but the rainbow stayed with us for several miles.
Cee’s black & White Photo Challenge this week has the topic clouds. This is an interesting topic, because one of the things that makes cloud pictures spectacular is color – especially sunsets. I tried and rejected several photos because they just didn’t have appeal without the color. Others, however, look even more dramatic in black & white! So here’s what I chose.
I’ll start with clouds seen from above (through an airplane window).
I got some dramatic sunset photos in black & white when I looked for strong contrasts between the clouds and the sky.
Sometimes, what attracts me to take photos of clouds is the variety of shapes. It can be especially dramatic in the wide open spaces on the prairies of North Dakota…
…or a sunburst over the open waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
More subtle effects over the pond on the campus of our community.
In this photo, the clouds are reflected in the rippled surface of the water.
Sometimes, instead of a prairie, a dramatic landscape – such as majestic mountains – enhances the photo, offering a dramatic contrast between land and sky.
The official title of the following song is Both Sides Now. But this is a pretty rendition with ethereal moving clouds. Although the song was written by Joni Mitchell, who sings it here, it was first recorded by Judy Collins, which was the first version of it I heard.
A NEW CHALLENGE! Here’s what the host, Su Leslie, has to say about it:
“About The Changing Seasons The Changing Seasons 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 The Changing Seasons Version Two (you choose the format):
Each month, post a photo, recipe, painting, drawing, video, whatever that you feel says something about your month
Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!
Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so others can find them.”
Here is my contribution for January 2020:
Family and friends:
Left: Colorful family members – my brother-in-law in lederhosen and my grand-nephew (we were at his house to celebrate his 18th birthday) in a flamingo suit we bought him last year; Right: Friends we rarely get to see nowadays, at dinner in a restaurant called Nando’s, which features Afro-Portuguese and South African cuisine.
Top L: our cat, Hazel; Top R and Bottom: Two of our four “grandcats” (our daughter’s cats), Freddie (being held unwillingly by our daughter) and Stevie.
Our senior living community as it looks in this relatively warm January 2020: At right is my car during the only major snowfall we’ve had this month (which is very unusual, but we have had brutally cold as well as mild Januarys these past several years – none has been just “average”, I guess a result of climate change. I’ll take the mild winters any time, though!).
I love to draw and am taking an art class, which has inspired me to renew my artistic output! For the leopard cub I used a special technique, using dark Sharpies so it bled through the paper, then used the back side to color in with pastels. At right is a portrait I did in art class. We are focusing on portraiture this session.