SYW: Psychic Octopus, Famous People and Peanut Butter Jokes

Melanie has come up with a new set of questions this week for Share Your World.

QUESTIONS: 

Do you think psychic abilities exist? Yes, and I even know of a psychic octopus. I think some people have a high degree of sensitivity and connectivity to others. There are people who know when something has happened to one of their children, for example. I also believe some people can communicate with spirits. I don’t think that, in general, people can predict the future. But the psychic octopus did!

In the summer of 2010, we were in Spain during the World Cup, which was taking place in South Africa. The Spanish team was doing very well and everyone was super excited. During the semi-finals and finals, there was an octopus named Paul – he lived in Germany, I believe. On the evening before each of the semi-final matches, two little flags would be affixed to the side of two containers in which there was the favorite octopus food, mussels. Each contained a few mussels and both were placed in Paul’s tank. Every game – and this is really true – Paul would eat the mussels from the container of the winning team, that is, the team whose flag was attached. Unfailingly, he predicted every game. Sometimes he might take a mussel or two from both containers, but always selected the majority from the winning team’s container. And, the night before the final, his food selection predicted that Spain would win. By now, nearly everyone believed in the octopus. And, in fact, Spain DID win the World Cup final – it was the first (and so far the only) time they won this coveted award.

After the game, people poured into the streets from the bars where they’d been watching, and there was an all-night party in the streets of central Madrid. A few days later, the team members arrived home from South Africa, and all along the Gran Via (a wide thoroughfare in central Madrid) people gathered, wearing red and yellow – the colors of the Spanish team (and flag) – to wait for the bus that would bring the victorious players down the avenue for the benefit of everyone’s adulation. One of the things people wore were yellow octopus hats! Because Paul had predicted their victory, he was inextricably linked to the 2010 World Cup.

How would you describe peanut butter to someone who didn’t know what it was? A very sticky substance combining pureed peanuts and butter, that you use to spread on bread or to add flavor to a stalk of celery. (My dad had a hilarious joke about peanut butter – well, it was hilarious to watch him tell it, as it required some “acting.” But his description while telling this joke would give the person a pretty good idea of what peanut butter is like!)

Why does an octopus squirt ink? To protect itself from predators – the ink hides it from view and may be an irritant to predators.

Who are two of today’s greatest entertainers in your opinion?  (can be actors, musicians, singers etc)
I always am reluctant to answer this type of question, because my tastes are out of the mainstream for the most part, and I don’t even recognize the names of the current mainstream of entertainers! However, Stephen Colbert of A Late Show is one we watch regularly, and he got us through 4 years of Trump! In a similar vein, I also like John Oliver, who takes on serious subjects but he always gets a few laughs out of me and I love his accent!

GRATITUDE SECTION (always optional)

Please feel free to share a moment of gratitude in your life! 
The unseasonably warm, beautiful weather we have been given the last few days – flowers are blooming and I’m wearing sandals and short pants!

Square & Bright: Cars So Bright

Becky’s chosen a cheery topic for her April Squares challenge: anything bright, however you interpret it!

Earlier today, we took a walk and I noticed my neighbor, Gail, had been out for a spin in her red Mustang – her “lady toy” – because it was sitting in the driveway.

My own car is in our driveway (we only have a one-car garage), and today, looking at the sun reflected on the hood, I saw not one, but TWO suns! How did that happen?!

On a sadder note, our fitness director quit, and her last day was Tuesday. Several residents from our community lined the street in front of the gatehouse to say good-bye. Although she was crying (her mood wasn’t bright and sunny), her car certainly is – mustard yellow?

Weekend Sky: Late Winter Sunset

This is my first time participating in Hammad Rais’s Weekend Sky challenge!

It’s been a bit difficult to capture the sunset where we live – our house faces north and a row of houses blocks the western sky. But before Daylight Savings started, I would take walks in the late afternoon and sometimes be lucky to capture a beautiful sunset. These were taken on March 5, when the ponds were still partially frozen and remnants of February snows still remained.

Buffleheads in Black & White

Bird Weekly has as its topic this week Birds in Black & White (Monochrome). Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge is Anything in Flight (or capable of flight).

A couple of weeks ago, before the swans returned, my husband and I were taking a walk around our campus, and saw an interesting bird on West Pond, the larger of our two ponds. It was a group of six black & white ducks (or they seemed to be ducks), smaller than mallards, and they were diving birds, unlike mallards. They would dive and not surface for several seconds, then one by one, they’d pop up again. They reminded me of loons in that way, but I knew they weren’t loons. And also they seemed to have choreographed moves: they would swim one direction and then, all together, they would switch and go the other way. We had never seen these ducks before. I went home and searched on the Internet and concluded that they were bufflehead ducks. We grabbed our cameras with telephoto lenses and headed back to the pond.

After downloading the photos, I could see that they were indeed bufflehead ducks, which have somewhat enlarged heads, black & white with fluorescent green around their neck (which we couldn’t see in the photos – the birds were too far away). I concluded they were all males. Someone told me that they are often seen on Lake Arlington, about a mile north of here. So I guess they just decided to drop in and check out our pond! The next day, they were gone.

This was as close up as I could get with my 300mm lens. They’re so cute!
Taking flight in tandem

The great thing about these two challenges this week is that these ducks are basically black & white, so there’s no color missing in their plumage in these monochrome photos!

SYW: Neighbors, Mirrors and Make-Up

Monday = Melanie’s Share Your World!

QUESTIONS: 

How well do you know your next-door neighbors?   Do you like them?   (credit to Cyranny for the question)
I do know our next door neighbors, George & Gail, but not very well. We have not lived here very long. At our former residence, I knew most of my neighbors, partially thanks to their friendliness and partly due to the annual block party. My next-door neighbor was a horticultural landscaper and she helped me start and expand my garden. Our neighbors across the street invited us to their New Year’s party every year, as well as their daughters’ graduation parties. These neighbors, in particular, were ones that I’d always stop to talk to. So yes,, I liked them.

Do you have a full length mirror?  (credit to Sadje for the rest of the questions)
Yes. After we had lived here for several months, I got frustrated about not having a full length mirror, since at our old house, we had two of them, one on the second floor and one on the first floor. So we finally bought one when we were shopping at Target or Meijer. It’s now hanging on the outside of our bathroom door.

(for the ladies)   How long do you spend putting on make-up in the morning?
None. I don’t wear make-up and never have. Anytime I tried to wear makeup, it would get in my eyes and irritate them. But even if it didn’t irritate my eyes, I wouldn’t bother with make-up unless I had a really noticeable zit (which invariably happened on picture day at school!).

How many items of clothing are in your bedroom (or closet) and not hung up?
Usually none, except for clothes in the hamper. But right now there is an outfit I want to wear again, but I didn’t want to wear it to exercise today and I was going to the fitness center. Just a pair of pants and a shirt.


GRATITUDE QUESTION (as always optional)

Do you have a happy place?
Anywhere there are flowers and nature.

Here I am at Point Defiance Park in Tacoma in 2019, where we visited a beautiful botanic garden. This arbor was the entrance to it.

SYW: Speak Up or Shut Up, Luck, and Rocks

A new week has arrived and along with it, a new set of questions from Melanie on Share Your World. QUESTIONS:

Do you feel you ask enough questions or do you settle for what you know?
I like to ask questions. I am very inquisitive and I often go in search of information for answers. If I didn’t ask questions, what would I know? Questioning is vital to gain knowledge. This is why little children ask so many questions, Why this and why that? They have little knowledge and to get more, they have to ask why, although sometimes the adults don’t have answers.

That said, there are certain situations in which I do stop asking questions. If a very annoying person is chatting me up, for example, on an airplane or a bus, and I don’t want to talk to that person, I say what is polite and then turn away. Or when a meeting goes really long, and everyone is fidgeting because they want to get out of there, but I still have a question, I most likely bite my tongue and settle for what I know, with the thought of finding out the answer to my unasked question later or elsewhere.

Asking questions occasionally gets me into trouble; in fact, I lost a teaching job at least partly due to asking a question that my boss (the new principal of the school) didn’t like, because she thought it made her look bad.. She harbored a resentment toward me the entire school year and found fault with me even when I wasn’t doing anything wrong. She ended up not rehiring me and I wasn’t tenured. But I really did want to know the answer to my question and never really got one.

When did you fail to speak up when you feel you should have?
There was one incident that I still regret not having spoken up – or perhaps if I had realized sooner to put two and two together. I went to a party at a former coworker’s house one summer. When I got there, I was happy to see several of my former coworkers from the school I had loved teaching at, including the principal who I really liked because she had always been supportive of me. I had lost my job in that school district, because they reconfigured the schools into “grade level centers” and by moving people around, they could dispense with nine teachers. I was one of them because after three years, I wasn’t yet tenured. In Illinois teachers don’t get tenure until the end of their fourth year. I was telling the principal about my new job and how happy I was there, even though the pay was extremely low – I’d had to take a program assistant job, because I couldn’t find a teaching position except for substitute teaching, which I was tired of. The principal asked me several times if I was sure I really liked it where I was working, and I kept saying yes.

A short while later, I ran into the other ESL teacher I had worked with at that school and found out she had just retired. I didn’t make any connection at the time and it wasn’t until a day or so later that my dense mind figured it out! The principal had been trying to find out if I would be interested in going back to my former position, but I didn’t realize that at the time. She wanted me to replace the retiring teacher because they really needed a Spanish-speaking ESL teacher, which they lost when I was cut from the district. They had replaced me with another ESL teacher from another school in the district who was tenured.

I realized I should have said something – although I liked the program assistant job, the pay was so low that Dale and I were having trouble keeping a positive balance in our checking account, and if I could have gotten a teaching job in my former district, where I was really happy, I would have taken it. I thought about calling that principal and asking her if the job was still available, but I didn’t. I had convinced myself by that time that in spite of the low pay, I was glad not to have the responsibility of a teaching job. I could go home after work and not have to do more work at home to prepare for the next day or grade papers. I valued that additional leisure time. Even so, I know I would have taken that ESL position back if it had been offered to me and worked for several more years instead of retiring at age 63, when I acquired an inheritance after my mother died.

When was the last time you felt lucky?
A few days ago! Maybe “lucky” isn’t the right word. People have no control over what family circumstances they will be born into. I happened to be lucky to be born into a psychologically and financially stable family. The reason I felt lucky a few days ago is that, when hearing the news of the pandemic, of people who have lost their jobs and depend on the stimulus checks for their financial support right now, for people who have no money, I thought about how lucky I am – a retired, 68-year-old married white woman with a good husband and a wonderful home in a senior community (which most people would be hard pressed to afford). This community provides us with a lot of support during the pandemic and our monthly fee pays for maintenance, snow shoveling, etc. We’ve gotten ahead of others in getting the Covid vaccine, we have a housekeeper who comes once a week, and we don’t have to cook because our meals are delivered to us. We have a beautiful campus where we can walk and see our neighbors (when the weather is good), so we don’t feel so isolated. I thank God every day for my good fortune.

What is a boulder?
It is a large rock. When people talk about avalanches, they usually call the rocks that hurtle down the side of a mountain boulders. Boulder is also a city in Colorado, home of the University of Colorado.

Image result for main campus university of colorado

GRATITUDE SECTION (as always optional)

Feel free to share your gratitude with everyone!  See the answer about feeling lucky above. I am grateful for all I have. While people in Texas are suffering from lack of electricity and water during a freak storm, I am watching their distress on TV in my comfortable home. I am warm and don’t lack for anything. The employees of our community take good care of us.

Image result for gratitude

February Love #3-4

I have to catch up again with Paula’s Month of Love, with the challenge to post something I love every day of this month!

Feb. 3: I love…books. I used to be in 3 book groups – it was hard to keep up and still have time to read other things. I gave up the two library book groups because it got too difficult to access the books and Zoom meetings after Covid quarantine kept us from in person meetings. In the meantime I’ve joined another group here at our senior community, and I’m still in one at our church. I post all my books on Goodreads. There is a challenge every year: you start the year pledging to reading the number of books of your choosing. Last year I pledged 35 and read 45. So this year, I’ve pledged 40 and will probably go beyond that again! I always read a mix of fiction and non-fiction in a variety of genres. My favorite genre is historical fiction.

One reason I haven’t been blogging much lately is because I can go an entire day never turning on my computer, instead preferring to sit near the fire and read for hours!

Feb. 4: I love…cats! I take photos of cats wherever I go. Here is a sample of cats I’ve seen or loved as pets.

Countdown 2 Xmas: Mail Toys Snow Night

I’m back at Tourmaline’s Countdown to Christmas. Let’s see, where was I?

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.!