SYW: Cooking (or not), Driving, Saguaro Cacti, & Childhood Memories

Di at Pensitivity 101 is subbing for Melanie’s Share Your World challenge this week.

  1.  When you’re on holiday, do you prefer self catering or a hotel/B&B?
    On road trips, I will pack a cooler with necessities for picnics, such as bread, cheese, fruit, and beverages. But we rarely use them. It’s just easier to go to a restaurant. The last time I remember having a picnic on a road trip was the day we went to Devil’s Tower in eastern Wyoming, five years ago. After visiting the monument, we found a picnic table near the entrance to the park, and I set out our picnic fixings. It was about 6 p.m., and just as we were starting to eat our picnic dinner, it started to rain! We finished our sandwiches quickly, then headed back to the car just in time before it started to pour!
  2.  Do you have a favourite meal you cook for yourself or order when out?
    We live at a senior community, and one reason we moved here was so we wouldn’t have to cook anymore. We get our own breakfast together and for lunch, eat salad or leftovers from dinners the night before in the dining room. In the evening, we eat in the dining room, and I must say the food is usually quite good.

    That said, my husband makes great omelets, customarily on Saturdays, but it could be any day he feels like doing it! The omelet always contains tomatoes, onions, kale (from a friend’s garden), sometimes luncheon meat, and cheese. It might have other veggies, like broccoli. We have freshly squeezed orange juice (this is done at Mariano’s supermarket, we just buy the bottles of it!) and either a bagel, a muffin, or toast. That is the most elaborate meal we cook for ourselves these days!
  3. In the current fuel crisis, have you made a conscious effort not to use the car unless absolutely necessary?
    I think about it sometimes, and I at least drive a Prius (hybrid), but we don’t drive a lot anymore. We are both retired and our regular trips consist of to and from a golf course weekly (my husband, with his Subaru Forester), doctors’ appointments and shopping, usually in neighboring suburbs, and some activities I do with friends in the city we used to live in, which is only five miles from here. It takes several weeks, usually a month, for my gas tank to get low enough to buy gas. I get 50 miles to the gallon, which is better than most cars on the road in the U.S.!

4.  If you were to compare yourself to a plant, what would you be?
I’d be a saguaro cactus. I love these majestic giants and sometimes they have many arms in a variety of positions. They look awkward sometimes, and I can relate!

GRATITUDE:

I am lucky to have a lot of happy memories from my childhood. Please share one from yours.
Most of my friends during childhood lived in my neighborhood in our hometown in southern Wisconsin, so we played together outside when weather permitted. We’d ride our bikes, go to our local beach (a man-made pond with a sandy shore), or play in the woods behind our houses. In the summer, we’d stay out as late as our parents let us – it was perfectly safe then, even after dark. In the winter, we’d go to each others’ houses, but usually ended up at mine. If one of the kids left a scarf or hat at my house, I’d smell it and then I’d know who it belonged to!

CFFC: Everyday Necessities

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week has the theme you make use of every day – ordinary but useful objects.

Necessary meds
My feet – they walk and exercise every day!
New keyboard for my computer
Art supplies – I am making homemade cards.
What’s in my drawer necessities
The obvious and probably most used necessary item in my house!
My husband calls our cat his “sanity saver!”

SYW: The Golem, Sufferings of the Natural World, the Death Penalty, and Today’s Blessings

Another Monday, another Melanie’s Share Your World! I have not participated in several weeks, although I think there are a few unfinished ones in my Drafts.

QUESTIONS

What mythical creature would improve the world most if it existed?  (If you don’t know, just choose something that you think would improve things.   
The golem is a creature of Jewish folklore created from inanimate material, such as mud or clay, brought to life to serve a particular purpose. It originated in the 1500s in Prague. In some stories, the golem was created to defend against anti-Semitic attacks. Based on the news I’ve been watching this evening, there is a dangerous rise in anti-Semitism and the growth of the “Christian nationalism” movement, which to me smacks of Nazism. (Congress member Marjorie Taylor Greene, I am convinced, would have been an ardent supporter of Adolf Hitler.) So I think we need to create a golem – a gigantic one – to guard against anti-Semitism and perhaps other ethnic and racist attacks as well.

Should the death penalty be re-instated?  Why or why not?
First of all, the death penalty is still alive and well in some states (Texas comes to mind). Where I live, in Illinois, it was suspended about a decade ago after a group of Northwestern University law students discovered that several men on death row had been wrongly convicted and were actually innocent. The governor, a Republican, in light of these revelations, suspended the death penalty, and it is still inactive in this state. Several other states have also banned or suspended it, but it’s still active in many states. Most “civilized” countries banned the death penalty long ago.

Morally, I am opposed to the death penalty, particularly because it disproportionally affects black people, especially men, who are incarcerated at a far higher rate than white men. Our justice system is imperfect, and as the Northwestern students proved, there are innocent men on death row; in fact, innocent men have been executed even though their cases contained a lot of doubt about their guilt. Also, the death penalty is not a deterrent to crime (this has been shown to be the case through research, regardless of what death penalty advocates would have us believe), so why have it? It is a barbaric vestige of medieval times.

Another problem with the death penalty is its financial cost. Lawyers of people on death row generally try to appeal their clients’ cases multiple times. This costs taxpayers money. It is less expensive – and, I believe, a worse punishment – to sentence someone to life in prison with no possibility of parole. Sometimes, prisoners who have been incarcerated for a long time do good things in prison to improve themselves – some have even obtained college degrees in prison! Also, there are some who become pastors who minister to their fellow prisoners. In my opinion, these prisoners that have shown themselves able and motivated for self-improvement have proved they have been rehabilitated and could be released. The prison system in our country is awful, and there is a lot of big money interests behind it. Meaningful prison terms can sometimes be served in service to others or in learning to work on farms or ranchers, for example. The prisoner learns a skill that can be useful to him (or her) after release.

Spontaneity Or Stability?

I yearn for both.

Can a dog/cat suffer? What about an ant? What about a plant? What about a bacteria cell?  Why do some humans think we’re the only species that does suffer?  Your thoughts?

I know that animals suffer – just as we do; after all, humans are animals. Anyone who has owned a pet or has contact with animals knows this. Plants, perhaps also. Trees that have had disease struggle to recover, but little by little wither and die. When I neglect my garden, I can see the plants suffering from lack of water and care – such as removal of weeds that grow around them and threaten to choke or smother them. If lack of water, they show their suffering with wilted leaves, which perk up amazingly well after a good watering or a couple of good rains!

I have no idea why some humans think we’re the only species that suffers. Perhaps it’s to justify their cruelty to animals or their sense of superiority and dominance over the earth. Some use the Bible to “prove” their claim that other species don’t suffer and that humans have the right to dominance over all creatures. The Bible, however, also says the opposite, telling us to take care of nature. (Read Psalm 8, one of my favorites.) I have heard people say that because an animal doesn’t cry out in pain during labor and giving birth, it means the animal doesn’t feel pain. This makes no sense! Animals in the wild can’t afford to cry out while in the pains of labor, for it may attract predators.

In 2018, I blogged about animals in zoos suffering from what is known as “zoochosis.” Anyone who has witnessed a cheetah walking incessantly around the perimeter of its enclosure or has seen a lone elephant just standing or listlessly swaying due to loneliness because it is the only elephant at the zoo, has seen animals suffering. Fortunately, zoos have become more sensitive to this and have endeavored to create larger enclosures that mimic the animals’ natural environments. Also, they don’t usually keep single elephants.

GRATITUDE SECTION

What are two things that have brightened your day today?

  1. Reading to a fellow resident in my book group. She has low vision and cannot read the book we’ll be discussing, even with large print. So my sister and I are taking turns reading to her. We all get together and enjoy hearing (and reading) the book together. I enjoy reading aloud and would do it for any resident under whatever circumstances.
  2. Learning the benefits of the Power Plate machine for a variety of conditions – today we had a workshop at the fitness center, where one of the instructors demonstrated its benefits. Then I used it to massage my feet for six minutes!

GREAT questions this week, Melanie!

We All Scream for Ice Cream! (FPQ #171)

I haven’t participated in Fandango’s Provocative Question lately – mainly because I haven’t been on my blog much lately – but this question I cannot resist because it is about my favorite subject: ICE CREAM!

Yes, Fandango’s Provocative Question #171 today is:

What is your favorite ice cream? Please list not only your favorite flavor, but also the brand that is your favorite. Please be specific.

Let me give you an example of what I’m looking for. I like Cookies and Cream ice cream (which flavor inexplicably didn’t make Ally Bean’s published list). And my preferred brand of Cookies and Cream ice cream is Breyers. But my very favorite flavor and brand of ice cream is Stephen Colbert’s Americone Dream from Ben & Jerry’s.

Whenever anyone asks me what my favorite food is, I say ice cream. Ice cream, to me, encompasses classic ice cream, gelato, sorbet, and frozen yogurt. I am partial to flavors that involve chocolate and/or coffee, but I have always thought my favorite ice cream is peppermint ice cream, especially when it is topped with hot fudge sauce, because peppermint and chocolate go so deliciously together!!

But lately, I’ve branched out because there are so many wonderful flavors and combinations out there. I love Ben & Jerry’s and also Haagen Dazs. If I am splurging and come across some Ben & Jerry’s, I’ll look for a combination of flavors I prefer, such as chocolate/dark chocolate (preferably with chocolate pieces blended in), coffee, caramel, or a sorbet such as raspberry (my favorite sorbet flavor). The one Fandango posted looks good and I have probably had it before because I not only love B&J’s ice cream, and ice cream with pieces of cone in it, but I’m also a fan of Stephen Colbert!

My husband and I live in a senior community and very early on, I learned that the ice cream flavors offered for dessert here are really great. Most of the time, they have the basic flavors as well as coffee, so I will often choose that, and it’s great, but they also have some other very popular and scrumptious flavors, like mint chocolate chip or roadrunner raspberry (vanilla with ribbons of raspberry and big chunks of chocolate), “hazelnut” – which is actually dark chocolate with slivers of hazelnuts, and dark chocolate raspberry – this is my new favorite! We have a mini-mart here which sells pints of some of the best flavors, and they are all made by Hershey. Not what I would have expected, and also not as healthy in terms of ingredients (they use high fructose corn syrup), but they do have some interesting flavors such as those I’ve mentioned above.

If I’m in a tropical country, or a place that I can get tropical flavors, I also love coconut, mango, and passion fruit ice cream/sorbet. In Brazil, I used to order doce de leite com flocos, or dulce de leche (a sort of caramel flavor) with chocolate pieces.

So you see, it is really hard to pin down my MOST favorite, but peppermint is always a great choice for me as well as dark chocolate anything or mocha – chocolate/coffee mixed in some combination. OK, I need to stop writing this and go to the freezer to get my dark chocolate raspberry ice cream for dessert! YUMMMM!

Cappuccino crunch – rare to find, but I snatch it up when I can get it!

SYW: Blog Ennui, Doppelgangers, Fire, & Sweet Potatoes

We are back from a two-week vacation in Europe! I have not had time to work on my blog since we got back. But as soon as I came to my blog, I looked for Melanie’s Share Your World!

Here are her questions for this week, some of which, I must say, require some pondering!

Do you become discouraged by the annual “Blogging Ennui” phenomenon that comes around every year?    (it’s early this year IMO) (blogging ennui means (to me) a distinct slow down in writing and participation, which lasts an indefinite period of time).
I’ve had blog ennui for many months now, actually. Sometimes I’m not sure if it’s worth writing, and I’m often busy with other things. There are a few challenges that I like to do, and wish I did on a more regular basis. I have gotten to the point that I mostly ONLY do challenges, because the posts I do on my own get few readers. I wish I could say (as I used to) that I only do it for myself, but I have an ego and like to be recognized, so that is why I stick to challenges that get a lot of readers, some of whom will read my posts.

If you were in a room filled with you and your doppelganger (someone who looks exactly like you do.  Supposedly everyone has at least one out there in the world)  and 2 billion dollars, what would you do?   What do you think your doppelganger would do?

I’d invite my other me to take a trip around the world with me. Then I’d keep enough to have a comfortable life and give the rest away to friends, charities, or political candidates (since there is no limit to what I can donate to get my candidate elected – I would fill the Congress with solid Democratic majorities, as well as the presidency!) The charities I would donate to would include those that help those suffering from poverty, war, and climate change. And organizations working on climate change and saving environments around the world! As for my look-alike, I can’t say what she’d do with the money, since we only look alike but don’t necessarily think alike. Maybe after we’ve traveled the world together…

A building is burning. You have time to either save a child trapped inside or a valuable painting which you would then sell, using the money to save 20 children from starvation. What would you do and why?

I have a terrible phobia of fire – I can’t even light a regular-sized match! – so I would not go into a burning building under any circumstances (or if I were in the building, I’d save myself and get as far away from the fire as possible). I’d rather save starving children with some of the 2 billion dollars I am getting to share with my doppelganger!

What’s your opinion of yams or sweet potatoes? I love them, and they are a healthier option than regular potatoes. I especially like mashed sweet potatoes and sweet potato fries!

Please feel free to share an image of something that makes you smile!

Hazel never ceases to make me smile!

SYW: Shopping, Drawing, Questionable Music, & Awful Jobs

I really like the questions Melanie has presented in Share Your World this week! So here goes!

QUESTIONS

In your opinion, what do you buy way more of than most people? I asked my husband what he thinks I buy too much of, and he said “nothing.” And in truth, he has to convince me that it is OK to buy something I really want but I am reluctant because it’s expensive. I often want to buy some new clothes but I don’t really need them and I think it’s wasteful of resources to buy excessive amounts of anything. I should shop at resale shops!

Which workers have the worst jobs?
The jobs most Americans won’t do, but are much in demand, are often done by the lowest paid workers. They do the drudge jobs, including working in fields of large agricultural farms, bending over in the hot sun for long hours; cleaning toilets; factory work where there is dangerous machinery or an assembly line processing meat products (separating the organs and guts from the ‘good’ meat). These jobs are stressful, have long hours, and no job security. Here is an interesting article about the worst jobs in America: What are the worst jobs in America?

Opinion.  John Cage is a composer who composed a piece named 4’33” for any instrument. The performers are instructed not to play their instrument for four minutes and thirty-three seconds. Is this music or is this art?  A combination of the two?   Neither, it’s stupid.  Your opinion?
I have seen this “performed.” I thought it was weird. In college I had some music nerd friends who really got into this avant-garde type of music. John Cage was a preferred composer among these people! But not for me!

How good are you at drawing? I am pretty good. I have been drawing all my life. I’ve only recently started learning how to paint. But drawing is still my forte. Here are some of my personal favorites, ranging from 1973 to 2022!

Which one do you think is the oldest? (Some of them are dated.)


GRATITUDE SECTION (as always optional)

Feel free to share one amazing thing you’ve experienced (any time frame).

Travel – each trip more amazing than the one before. I was amazed on my first safari, seeing wild animals roaming free, and no further than a few yards from us! They amazed me with their natural behavior and their antics – a mother cheetah playing with her cub, elephants playing in the water, lions and giraffes mating. There’s nothing that can compare with being among these creatures who share the earth with us.

Cheetah mom & cub, Ndutu-Serengeti, Tanzania

On the other hand, I was also amazed – gobsmacked! – by visiting the ancient Egyptian monuments and realizing that they have endured thousands of years! The famous pyramids and sphinx were created over 4,000 years ago and yet they still stand! And visiting tombs and monuments where I got to see beautiful artwork – carved on pillars and walls of monuments, sometimes with the paint still visible, and the beautiful, colorful artwork in the ancient tombs. I just find it so amazing that these things have endured for more than 3000 years and we can still visit them. The Ancient Egyptians did create these tombs and monuments to last for “millions and millions” of years, but thousands is already very impressive!

From the tomb of King Ramses VI, Valley of the Kings, Egypt. Photo credit: Mohammed Fathy.

SYW: From Productivity to Personhood

Here are Melanie’s questions (and my answers!) this week for Share Your World.

QUESTIONS

Are you more productive at night or in the morning? Do you think it’s possible to change and get used to another schedule? I’m not really a morning person. I am more active at night, usually – perhaps it’s because I realize I have things to do and here it is evening and I haven’t done them yet! Yes, I think it is possible to adapt to another schedule, which I would like to do. There is an exercise class at 9:00 am on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, which is right now too early for me, but if I stop staying up so late, I should be able to get up an hour earlier so I can go to that class! So I should try to move back my bedtime incrementally. (But here it is 11:18 pm and I’m just starting to blog!)

What’s the biggest vehicle you’ve driven?  If you don’t drive, what’s the biggest vehicle you’ve ridden in? This is wimpy, I know, but the largest car I’ve ever driven is a station wagon or small SUV. I have recently started driving my husband’s Subaru Forrester for short distances in decent weather, but I still prefer my Prius!

My Prius during a snow storm. I would not drive Dale’s Subaru in weather conditions like this!

What songs would be played on a loop in hell?  (Suspend disbelief for this one, it’s cool not to believe in Hell, but let’s use our imaginations to answer.  Of course one can always skip the questions they find odd too.  And yes, I took into account that individual tastes will influence individual choices.) Advertising jingles – they are very repetitive, loud (ads are louder than the TV shows that air them), annoying as hell, and somehow stick in one’s mind. I think that would be the worst thing to listen to on a loop in whatever hell one may end up in!

(Deep and chewy philosophical question):     What does it mean to be a person?  What constitutes “personhood?” (there may be some diverse opinions, but we’re all mature adults in here, so be respectful of others please). I think of a “person” as a human being. I don’t refer to animals such as pets as “persons,” although some people do. All humans are “persons” (or people – is that the plural of person?), no matter their race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or whatever. Every human is equal to every other. Some are nicer than others, but that doesn’t make them less than persons. However, just because a person is a human being doesn’t make him or her superior to other animals. We think we are more intelligent and more important than other animals, but we have a lot to learn – a humbling prospect!


GRATITUDE SECTION (Always Optional)

How were your spirits (mood) over the past week? 

It’s been a hectic and sort of dreary week. The weather has been lousy overall for this time of year. My daffodils are starting to bloom, while we get snow and hail! I was feeling really blah this morning, but I felt better after being in the swimming pool and hot tub this afternoon!

I’ve been busy working on Earth Week (April 18-22) activities here at the Moorings, as head of the environmental concerns committee, so everyone looks to me to figure this stuff out! I hope it will be a success though! Stay tuned!!

HAPPY EARTH MONTH!!!

SYW: Amazing Books, Amazing Sandwiches, Amazing Ukrainians

It’s time I got around to participating in this week’s Share Your World! (And thank you, Melanie, for providing us with these weekly questions!)

QUESTIONS

What very common thing have you never done? 

I have never watched Seinfeld, Game of Thrones, Friends, or most other mainstream TV shows. (I’m a news and PBS junkie!)

Are we morally obligated to be charitable, if we have the means to?

Obligated? No. But the “morally” descriptor makes me think yes, sort of. I think wealthy people who spend everything on themselves are selfish and, in a sense, immoral.

What is the most amazing fact you know?

Amazing? I learn new “amazing” facts almost daily! I think it’s amazing that the Ukrainian people are fighting back against Russia so fiercely and completely in the face of such utter destruction of their homes, livelihoods, and risking their own lives. People who never would have thought of themselves as heroes a month ago are now doing heroic acts, such as staying in Ukraine in order to get needed food and medical supplies to people who have lost everything instead of fleeing themselves. It’s amazing that Zelenskyy is still alive and not in hiding. It’s amazing that Poland has rallied to take 2 million Ukrainian refugees and is already teaching the young people Polish. It’s amazing that people will fight so strongly to retain sovereignty and democracy. I don’t think all Americans appreciate the freedoms we have, that they are willing to advocate censorship (banning books and disseminating lies) and rally behind a man who clearly admires Putin because he himself would love to be a dictator. On the other hand, there are Americans who, like their predecessors in the Abraham Lincoln Brigade in the Spanish Civil War, are going to Ukraine to volunteer to fight alongside Ukrainian soldiers. That’s amazing and heartening too!

What’s your favorite sandwich and why?

I rarely eat sandwiches these days. I like Reuben sandwiches, but I also really love cheeseburgers. I now indulge in an occasional veggie cheeseburger, or other non-beef iterations.

Please feel free to share something you find inspires you.

I just finished reading a book that really inspired me, Braiding Sweetgrass. Native American culture is truly so wise. I highly recommend this book!

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.