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!
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!
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!!
Melanie’s Share Your World for this first week in December has some interesting questions.
What really turns your stomach? (politicians aside) Cockroaches. They are the most disgusting species on Earth!
(Although I am in complete agreement with Fandango’s response to this question, I’m not going to write the same thing. I made a comment on his post.)
What would YOU do with the immense amount of ‘garbage’ in the world, if there weren’t dumps or barges (Sorry New York/New Jersey) where it was taken to be processed? This is a relevant question about an urgent problem worldwide! It’s also a difficult dilemma. They used to ship plastic for recycling to China, but China isn’t accepting it anymore. I have heard that only 15% of recyclables actually get recycled. So is it worth doing it? Yes, because there are innovations happening all the time that might lead to more of it being truly recyclable. And it makes me feel good. Our society is moving inexorably toward a “green” society in spite of delay and resistance, and while a few people might invent something or lead the way, all of us can do our own little part.
Meanwhile, I recycle whatever this city’s recycling service allows. I don’t compost now because I don’t really have a place to do it since we moved to a senior community, although some residents do. I take reusable bags to the supermarket and do not accept those flimsy plastic bags most of them use. (If I forget my bags, I insist they use paper.) I also take mesh bags for vegetables and fruits and try to stay away from single-use plastics. I cut any discarded plastic rings so animals don’t get caught in them. I could do a lot more, and I’m working on it (and working on my husband to do it too!)
What’s the oddest container you’ve ever gotten a gift in? I don’t remember if I ever did – I guess it didn’t make a big impression on me if I did. However, a few days ago, I got a large, bulky FedEx envelope (the recyclable kind! 🙂 ) which turned out to contain two duffel bags on wheels and two water bottles from our tour company to use on a safari I booked!
Do people behave differently during Christmas (insert your own holiday or festive season)? Do they try to be better? Do you donate something (money, clothes…) to charities? Do you give something to homeless people? Some people are more generous during the holiday season – it seems to be a time when we think about giving donations to our favorite charities. One year I actually made three kinds of Christmas cookies – that is not my normal behavior at all!! So I guess that to the first question, I say yes, but with reservation, because the same sh** is still going on in this polarized country.
I do have a few favorite charities, and I send a donation to them at this time of year, but not only at this time of year. But I can’t give to even 1% of the charities that solicit money in my mail every day. So I say a definite “yes” to charity-giving.
I don’t do anything for homeless people currently. I was/am the coordinator at my church to get volunteers to work at our local homeless shelter, but since Covid arrived, those shelters are closed (and with the stimulus money they got, they are putting people up in hotels). People have given me interesting suggestions for giving to people that approach my car when I’m at a stoplight, such as buy a bunch of McDonald’s gift cards to keep in my car or carry with me and give them to homeless people, so I know they will use it for food. I haven’t done this, though!
GRATITUDE SECTION (As always, optional) This is an allegedly joyful time of year. How do you, personally, FEEL? Lazy! My husband is Jewish, so during Hanukkah, we light the candles each night and since it was earlier than usual this year, I refrained from any kind of decorating for Christmas until it was over. Well, it’s been over for almost a week and still I haven’t taken my new Christmas tree out of the box, set up my creches, or addressed holiday cards. It’s Saturday so I should probably make some time for some of these things today, but here I am blogging on my computer. But I’ve been so busy lately that blogging is a rare treat!!
How do you feel about sharing your computer or phone password with your partner? I think it would be confusing having to switch back and forth, and also, my husband has visited web sites that I don’t want to have anything to do with. This kind of browsing leads to a lot of spam in his email accounts, and some of it really offensive to me. He is not doing this so much now, but sharing would also mean that I would sometimes want to use the computer when he is using it. I have a lot of projects, artwork, and writings on my computer that I want to have exclusive access to.
As for passwords, we do share those sometimes, or make slight alterations when we use the other’s passwords.
What is the greatest struggle you’ve overcome? (This isn’t meant to be invasive, just use general terms if you’d like. Or if not, feel free to pass on the question. That’s allowed too). Living with ADHD – a lifelong struggle. BUT…My life has been pretty good and happy; the main struggles I had were in adulthood – parenting and teaching. I was smart enough to get through my school years by figuring out my own coping strategies; I had no idea that I had any sort of disability. But in adulthood, I realized there was something not normal about me compared to other people and eventually was diagnosed with ADHD. Parenting was a challenge: I had (have had – it’s still ongoing although it’s better now) a lot of problems with my son’s mental illness, which affected his education and his adult life and my inconsistency and difficulty in coping with his problems while living with ADHD (both mine and his). Teaching because it was much more challenging than I thought it would be. I was well into middle age when I got my teaching degree. When I was finally diagnosed with ADHD, it explained a lot of my struggles but didn’t really make them any better, except that I stopped being so hard on myself. Teaching with ADHD is a huge challenge – having ADHD affected my memory (especially short-term memory), my ability to be consistent, my penchant for losing (misplacing) things I really need at the moment I need them, maintaining order in my classroom, etc. A lot of colleagues would throw out a casual comment that they ‘must have ADD’ because they kept misplacing things – they had no idea what actually living with it was like every day.
If heaven is real and you died tomorrow, do you think you would get in? Why or why not? (this is purely speculation, no bias if you don’t believe) Yes, I’m pretty sure I would get into heaven (although I don’t believe in it as a physical place where one goes after death), because in spite of the things I have done wrong, maliciously or not, I am basically a caring and compassionate person. That said, to me the idea of ‘heaven’ is what remains in the memories of those who survive me. Do they remember me with fondness or animosity? I am pretty sure that my father went to ‘heaven’ because no one ever says a bad word about him. He was an exceptional man, a compassionate person, and a great dad. And conversely, those who go to ‘hell’ are those truly evil individuals that people and history have judged harshly – Hitler and Stalin come to mind.
What makes you feel like you really need to be alone? When I need to get things done that no one can or should help me with. For example, if I am working on a photo book of our trip to France, I need to have a large block of time undisturbed. Sometimes I get so busy with activities and other commitments like volunteer work, exercising, or housework, that the days fly by and I never have the time I crave to work on my computer projects (blog, photo books, writing, transcribing letters, working on photos, etc.) or to finish a book I don’t seem able to make progress on.
GRATITUDE SECTION (as always, optional)
Do you have any traditions around this time of year? Not anymore. I used to always stay home on Halloween to greet the little goblins and superheroes that came trick-or-treating, and to give out treats equally to all. I sometimes would put on my witchy costume and get into character. I didn’t like to be out on Halloween because sometimes older kids would vandalize houses where no one was home, or steal Halloween decorations from my front porch. Now that I live in a senior community, there are no trick-or-treaters, although the last couple of years we spent in our house before moving here, the trick-or-treaters had really diminished in number. Sign of the times, I guess.
Since I am retired, I don’t get into the spirit of Halloween anymore, because I’m not seeing the excited faces of the children in my classroom and I no longer participate in the fun activities we used to have at school with the kids. In fact, Halloween and Day of the Dead are the only time of year that I miss teaching.
On this Monday Memorial Day, Melanie presents us with some food for thought questions for Share Your World.
What activity instantly calms you? Art, both the pictures I create myself, and those that I color. Both are very relaxing and because I’m good at it, it is usually quite satisfying. I attend a weekly art workshop, where women from our senior community go and do whatever they want to do in their artwork. We admire each other’s work and give each other encouragement. There are two retired art teachers who help us learn new techniques.
What’s the most spontaneous thing you’ve done lately? I can’t remember – my short-term memory is terrible. I don’t tend to be spontaneous in big ways.
If people receive a purple heart for bravery, what would other color hearts represent? (Example yellow heart = cowardice) Red heart = love and compassion for others Yellow or orange heart = optimism in the face of adversity Blue heart = calm, keeping one’s wits about oneself. Green heart = advocacy and contribution toward improving the environment, helping our planet; such as an innovation that contributes to a reduction in plastic waste, for example. White or pink heart = volunteerism Rainbow heart = tolerance, acceptance; extraordinary acts to create diversity in our society
What is the bravest thing you’ve ever done or witnessed someone else do? Another hard question! I guess in my case it would be making the decision (and following through) to change careers. I was comfortable & competent, but bored, in what I was doing for a living. When I remarried, it became possible to think about finding a career in which I could use my skills in a more meaningful way. I went into teaching because I felt that what teachers do is so vital; every time I walked into my son’s school, I felt a surge of excitement, like something important was happening there. I did it in spite of advice from my husband and others, in spite of knowing it would be very challenging and difficult for me due to my ADHD, in spite of a it being a time of great tension in the field of education due to increased pressure to show student success through standardized tests (or losing funding if scores were not at a certain level. Remember “No Child Left Behind?” What a disaster!) Bilingual and special ed teachers were especially stressed because our students tended NOT to get great scores on these tests. We were watched more closely and there was little tolerance for mistakes or non-traditional classroom techniques.
GRATITUDE SECTION (Always optional)
How do you show gratitude to the people you respect? First, by thanking them, hugging them or maybe sending them a card. But mostly by being generous, doing things for them, giving them a gift I know they would particularly like. For example, I have a friend of many years, since our sons were little and playing together. She has been through a lot in her life, including the loss of her husband to cancer and her son to an overdose. She sacrificed much of herself for her son, who had disabilities that were difficult to deal with. She has always worked, and even now cannot afford to retire. She always shows her caring toward others, calling when someone she knows is in difficulty, or visiting someone who is homebound. Unlike me, she has never had a chance to travel abroad except to Canada. She is a very Christian person – I mean strong in her faith, more so than I, so when there was an opportunity to visit the Holy Land with a group from our church, I knew how much she wanted to go, and I paid for her trip. I had the money and the trip was fairly inexpensive. Otherwise, she could not have gone. It made me so happy to see her enthusiasm and awe about everything she experienced while we were in Israel.
I don’t do generous things for people very often, not because I don’t want to, but because I don’t remember to do so. Therefore, when I feel strongly that a generous act – something I have the ability to do for someone else – would help a person I love and respect, I do it if they let me.
I used to be impatient and often didn’t bother to understand others, but I think that as I have aged, I have become a better person in that way. I wish I were more of a risk-taker, so I could do much more for others, but I’m not; I’m too comfortable and selfish about my own life and what I want. I’m not a person who jumps to volunteer for a big project, but now I look for opportunities to help someone I care about, in some small, individual way.
I always look forward to Mondays, when Melanie issues a new set of questions for Share Your World. Her questions this week are quite thought-provoking, so I’d better get started!
What do you believe but cannot prove? The existence of God. God is seen differently by people; there may be almost as many ideas of God as there are believers. For me, God is within each individual and in nature. God is a force rather than an actual being. But I do believe in the power of prayer, so I guess sometimes I believe – when it’s convenient – that God does “listen” to prayers and perhaps helps things happen (or not). It is a comfort to me, at least, and it also is a comfort to others to know that people are praying on their behalf. In fact, there have been scientific studies of the power of prayer, and what was concluded is that knowing that a community of people who care about you bolsters your will to get better (or improve whatever the situation is). People are saying that they support you and are concerned about your suffering. It can actually motivate people to fight harder against a disease like cancer.
Do animals have morals? Exclude human beings from the equation please. Why exclude humans? Are we any more moral than animals? Sometimes I think not!
Anyway, I don’t believe animals have morals, not really, although some do have compassion. Having morals requires one to be able to imagine different scenarios and outcomes, and to be able to judge others’ actions. I am not convinced animals can do that. However, there is much about animals – particularly the most intelligent ones – that we don’t know. Dolphins have been observed helping people in trouble. Elephants also help each other when one is in distress. Whales use a complex system of sounds to communicate with each other. I always marvel at the natural world, because animals have developed adaptations to all kinds of environments and situations. But I don’t think that they can imagine the future or alternate situations. Possibly chimpanzees or gorillas, but only in a limited capacity.
People often pose the question of what makes humans different from other animals. It is our brain’s capacity to reason, analyze, synthesize, and imagine. Unfortunately, these capacities do not necessarily lead to better behavior than an animal might display. We make choices, often the wrong ones, which affect not only our own lives, but also the lives of others, including animals.
Is there inherent order in nature or is it all chaos and chance? I believe there is inherent order, but we do not understand it completely. Science is constantly revising its hypotheses about the universe/natural world, as new discoveries are made. There is an order, but we have yet to really know that order. I read an article recently about scientists at Fermilab discovering erratic behavior by the tiny particles called muons. They have observed the muons deviating from whatever it is they do, which can alter scientific theories about how the universe works. It’s amazing that this tiny particle, whose existence has only been known for a few decades, can influence so much of scientific theory that was believed to be based on solid evidence.
Where is your least favorite place in the world? Somewhere that I’ve never been. Someplace cold and desolate. I probably will never visit places such as Antarctica or Greenland; I have heard that Antarctica, at least, is well worth a trip, and I would love to see the penguins. But I cannot imagine living through months of darkness and frigid cold day after day. Alaska is beautiful but I wouldn’t want to live there. So my “least favorite place” might be different depending on whether that place is my least favorite place to visit or least favorite place to live.
There is one place that I don’t think I would even want to visit – it’s the only place in the world that I can think of – and that is North Korea.
GRATITUDE SECTION (Participation Always Optional)
Feel free to share something about the seasons that makes you smile!
I am capable of smiling during any season, but I will focus on the current season of spring. I love flowers and they make me smile. Here is a poem I wrote several years ago about my garden, which is mostly about the flowers of spring.
HAIKU: THE GARDEN 4/26/14
Snow drops rise early to cheer the winter weary: delicate white orbs.
Crocuses give hope when purple flowers appear – spring will arrive soon.
Yellow daffodils herald the coming of spring with their bright trumpets.
Tulip leaves unfold, hiding their buds until May brings colorful blooms.
The lilac bush makes fragrantly scented flowers in lavender clusters.
The rose bush’s thorns keep gardeners at bay for red blossoms in June.
Aromatic herbs spice up the gardener’s meals; worthy of wild growth!
Gardeners’ reward is the harvest of summer: Beauty, fragrance, food.
Speaking of fragrance, lilacs are in bloom everywhere here! They are beautiful and smell heavenly!
This video has gone viral because it is so beautifully written and performed by two Canadian sisters, Cassandra Star (aged 10) and Callahan (aged 19) Armstrong. It uses the melody of Leonard Cohen’s famous song “Hallelujah” with words written by Kelly Mooney that tell the Easter story. The sisters originally recorded it as a gift for their grandparents as their grandmother battles illness and the family is separated for the holiday. Their grandmother is a religious person and has been unable to go to church since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. Listen and watch – the lyrics are printed on the screen as they sing.
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 empiricalevidence. 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.
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.”
*It was pure coincidence that while writing this, I realized I had also fulfilled FOWC!
Since it is Good Friday, I thought this “top” would be appropriate – it is the dome inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, which was built on what is believed to be the site of both the crucifixion and the tomb where Jesus was buried.
The church as it stands today is the same church that was built in the 12th century in the time of the Crusades. Here are some more photos I took there.
Entrance to the courtyard of the church
Courtyard outside the church
Lots of tourists file past the elaborate altar.
It was the most ornate church I had ever seen.
The church has several chapels and altars.
Within the church are the last four stations of the cross on the Via Dolorosa, the route Jesus walked carrying the cross.
When we visited Caen, France last summer, we toured its St. Peter church. Being a Catholic church, there was a carved Jesus on the cross in the front, behind the altar. I noticed something red between Jesus’ feet.
(Visited January 13, 2019)
This little “teardrop” Catholic church outside the walls of Old Jerusalem is called Dominus Flevit, which means “The Lord Weeps,” representing Jesus weeping about the future destruction of Jerusalem.
Here is the same window from the inside, framing old Jerusalem with the Golden Dome as a recognizable landmark.
The church is flanked on four sides with pillars, atop which are jars in the shape of teardrops.
The interior is very simple. The altar is not much more than a table and a cross, but set in front of the beautiful window overlooking Jerusalem.
Worshippers face the altar in front of the window.
Here are a few details of the interior: the dome, one of the stations of the cross, along one of the side walls.
There is a small building outside the church…
…which houses a necropolis, containing graves of Jews from the 1st to 4th centuries C.E.
There is also this plaque on an exterior wall of the church.