5 Italian Foods: Deliziosi!


It’s been quite a while since I participated in Tanya’s 5 Things challenge. The topic this week is: Italian food!! My favorite cuisine! It’s even a bit difficult to choose ONLY five of them!

  1. Gnocchi with Vodka sauce
Bowls filled with comforting gnocchi alla vodka, Parmesan, and basil.
I love gnocchi with whatever sauce is put on it, but I am partial to “vodka sauce” – I don’t taste the vodka, but it’s a wonderful tomato based smooth sauce!

2. Gelato: This is the Italian word for ice cream, which is my favorite food, but somehow the Italians (or wherever it is made in their name) have it just perfect – rich, creamy, flavorful! I also like the sorbets.

Espresso Gelato
This is a photo of espresso gelato – coffee ice cream! I love it! Since I cannot drink coffee anymore, this ice cream is a delicious way to get my “coffee fix”!

3. Pizza – Who doesn’t love pizza? It is such a versatile dish – a variety of toppings, a variety of crusts, the combinations are almost endless! If you ask me what kind of pizza I want, I would say spinach (for deep dish), Hawaiian (pineapple and Canadian bacon, usually topped with barbecue sauce), margherita (tomato and cheese) if it’s very thin crust, and sausage and onion if ordered from a certain local pizza place.

Mugs Pizza and Ribs | Chicago


4. Shrimp or Chicken Alfredo – I rarely order this because the alfredo sauce has about a gazillion calories (more than many other Italian foods, but most Italian foods are very caloric), but I still love it!

5. Risotto, if it’s prepared properly!

Overhead shot of prepared shrimp risotto in grey bowl with spoon.
This is risotto with shrimp – one of my favorite kinds!

SYW: On Clothes and God, But Mostly About Hazel

Here is Melanie’s Share Your World for this week.

Okay we’re flipping things over this week with three rather silly questions and one philosophical one.

What would be much better if you could just change the color of it?
Half of the clothes in my closet – I like some of the things I rarely wear, because I don’t have a matching blouse or pants. Then I forget about that particular item until I get totally bored with what I have to wear and find it again. If it’s really a weird color I can’t do anything with, I will regretfully give it to Goodwill.

Do You Think Cats Have Any Regrets?
No, I don’t think they can think on that high a level. This is a serious answer for a somewhat silly question! My cat, for sure, is content with her life right now.

Do you ever count your steps when you walk?
No, I have a Fitbit that can do that for me. I used to really keep track of that, but not anymore. I always, however, count stairs whether up or down. That makes me focus on the stairs so that I don’t get distracted and trip or fall. It can also be really useful, for example, in our old house, if we were carrying something that blocks our view and so not able to see the stairs. I knew there were 15 stairs from the first floor to the second, and 12 steps from the kitchen down to the basement.

Is there a supreme power?  (you choose over what, and please be respectful)
That is a tough one. I believe in God but not as a “supreme power” per se. I don’t think God exists as a human-like being somewhere, controlling everything we do. Humans invented God. I believe that God’s presence lies within ourselves – we are our own supreme power, whether or not we recognize it. It’s complicated and I’m on a “faith journey.” Without getting into a long theological treatise, I will leave it at that.


GRATITUDE

Please feel free to share some gratitude with everyone! 
I’ve just been “in love” with our cat, Hazel, lately. She is such a well-behaved kitty and follows us around a lot, just to be near us. She’s not a lap sitter – she prefers what she is doing in the above photo – getting comfortable between someone’s legs, preferably on the recliner. Hazel was a godsend for us during the pandemic. She is 10 years old and life is good!

Watching a nature program with us on TV
Peeking out from one of her favorite catnap places – my computer chair!

SYW: On the Nature of the Universe and Balloons

Melanie gives us some philosophical questions for this week on Share Your World!

QUESTIONS

Is there inherent order in nature or is it all chaos and chance?
I believe there is inherent order, in terms of the rules of nature or of the universe, but also chaos, or randomness.

In nature, the main thing that establishes order is adaptability. Tree leaves and humans have visible veins, which are necessary because liquids and nutrients flow through them. There are some really fantastic creatures on this planet who have adapted to their environments in weird ways. In the universe, I believe there is order in terms of rules, although we have not discovered them all yet. It’s amazing how Einstein’s theories – particularly of relativity – have since proven accurate as scientists have developed ways to analyze celestial phenomena.

But there is also chaos. When a star explodes into a supernova, for example, its matter is flung outward in all directions, and where it ends up is random. Sometimes a supernova becomes a quasar. Also, several planets in our solar system have had wayward asteroids crash into them, including Earth, but I find it amazing, or sheer dumb luck, that an asteroid has never landed on a highly populated area. Now scientists can predict asteroid trajectories and may have ways of deflecting them.

Why have so few Milky Way supernovae been observed over the last millennium?
A supernova (Image from Google)

Another random thing that happened was the formation of our solar system and the development of life on Earth. By the method of accretion, the planets were formed (which likely is the order of how planets develop elsewhere as well), but why some matter adhered to one planet or another is somewhat random, and ultimately determined by gravity.

I have seen science programs about the evolution of life on Earth and how it all began. Earth has the right circumstances for life as we define it, due to its optimal position in relation to the sun. Astronomers call this the “Goldilocks zone.” It is located in a zone that the sun’s rays are neither too hot nor too cold for life to develop. At the same time. gravity had to be just right to develop magnetic fields around our planet, which protect us from damage by ultraviolet rays. Using this premise, astronomers a few decades ago (when I studied astronomy) estimated the likelihood of life as we know it developing in other solar systems by discovering whether a planet was in the “Goldilocks” zone.

Since then, however, I have learned that life on Earth got started by a somewhat random process. It is disheartening, in a way, for those of us who would like to know for sure that advanced life forms exist in other solar systems, that life could just as easily have failed to evolve. Fortunately, it did or I wouldn’t be sitting here writing this, and I do believe that whatever chance circumstances existed for life to develop or not, that there must be advanced life on other planets. There are millions of galaxies, all with their own groups of stars and solar systems, so it can’t have been impossible that we are the only “advanced life” in the universe. That is, unless you believe in divine creation, which I do not. (I believe in God, but not as an entity that formed the planets and different life forms. Perhaps “God” helped nudge the unlikelihood of life into the real possibility of life.)

What is infinity?
Infinity is something that human minds can not really conceptualize. If we believe the universe is “infinite,” that means that the universe is never-ending. Theoretically, scientifically, infinity exists, but it is not something that we can fully understand, because humans are limited by experience and the ability of our brains, all based on the finite-ness of life as we know it.

Infinity is most often found in mathematics. Pi, for example, is often expressed as 3.14 but the digits beyond that go on infinitely, with no end. Click on the image below for a link to an interesting article about infinity.

https://www.livescience.com/37077-infinity-existence-debate.html

Does observation alter an event?
It might. Someone may perform a dance or a song perfectly during dress rehearsal, which is supposed to mimic the actual performance, but not perform as well when an audience is looking at them. If we know there is police surveillance on a particular stretch of road, we drive more carefully and observe the speed limit. In physics, which I really don’t understand, according to Wikipedia: the observer effect is the disturbance of an observed system by the act of observation. This is often the result of instruments that, by necessity, alter the state of what they measure in some manner.” The Wikipedia article goes on to mention a common example: when you check the pressure in a tire, you can’t help but release a little bit of the air in the tire, so the pressure slightly changes. No matter how negligible, there is still change. We can’t usually observe it, though!

Do you like balloons? 
Yes and no. Balloons are fun and pretty aesthetically; adding balloons to an event makes it festive. However, they are made of plastic and we have enough plastic pollution already to not justify people releasing a bunch of balloons into the air to memorialize someone, for example. Mylar balloons, in particular, are wasteful both in material and the helium used to make them defy gravity by floating above our heads.

Mylar helium balloons at my niece’s birthday party

However, I am not a curmudgeon. Balloons are not even in the top 1,000 products that produce plastic pollution. I say let’s continue blowing up balloons for fun and celebration! 

I have never ridden in a hot air balloon, although I had the opportunity a couple of times during my travels, and I don’t think I ever will. They don’t feel stable enough. They do look pretty, though!

I could have taken a hot air balloon ride in Tanzania. I opted out.

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.

Truthful Tuesday: Chronological vs Non-Chronological

Truthful Tuesday

PCGuyIV’s Truthful Tuesday this week prefaces , then asks the following question:

In this day and age, it’s hard to imagine a one-and-done story line, as even books and movies that started off as one-off stories have turned into multi-part franchises, and film series we thought were done have gotten fresh material added. Star Wars comes to mind specifically. The first movie was presented almost as a stand-alone with the thought that sequels might happen, but no guarantee. After the first three movies were done, that seemed to be all. Then the prequels, for better or worse, happened, and now there are three more sequels, two ancillary movies, and related TV shows. With all that said, this week’s question is all about sequels, prequels, and tangents.

Regardless of the media, when it comes to stories, do you prefer those that are perfectly sequential in their writing, such as the seven original Harry Potter books or Frank Herbert’s Dune series, or do you find stories that skip around in the timeline, such as the nine central Star Wars films to be more entertaining?

I prefer sequential, but flashbacks or time changes are OK when they are done well, in literature. In movies, these time switches are more confusing. In this I’m referring to time switches within one book or movie.

When movies or books are in a series I enjoy, then I anticipate any of those that come after. But sometimes, it just seems like a movie studio’s way of capitalizing on a successful film, especially when the sequels or prequels are weak. The ones that come after the original usually are not as good and it’s as if the screenwriters can’t come up with anything new. But if the sequels/prequels enhance or add to the story being told, then I’m all for it. I loved all the Harry Potter movies and thought they were pretty faithful to the books. I also liked the original Star Wars trilogy, but then lost interest with the prequels,, although they weren’t bad. I guess I prefer sequential, or chronological in time.

With books, I prefer sequential – most of the time, authors write sequels that move the characters forward in time, even if each book can stand alone. I’m thinking of certain mystery series, such as Tony Hillerman’s novels about Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn, cops on the Navajo Reservation. They were more believable that way. If they were static in time, I don’t think I’d like them as much, even though I didn’t read them in strictly chronological order. There are many classics, too, that I got interested in based on the first book and can look forward to reading the sequels – such as Little Women and Anne of Green Gables, as well as Outlander (although this last series got tedious after awhile, and the books kept getting longer. I had trouble keeping track of all the characters.). As a kid, I loved the Laura Ingalls Wilder “Little House” books, which I read in order. I enjoyed accompanying the lives of Laura and her family, and finding out how the characters changed over time and the experiences they had. I have never read a “prequel” in a series of books, but I don’t think I’d like it as much.

~~~

Here are the first 8 books in the Outlander series. I have read them all, over a period of 20 years, but I had trouble getting through the last few. Too many characters to keep track of, like when a character is introduced in a scene in one book and then pops up in another book later on. My memory can’t keep track of all these people! Also, I got tired of Gabaldon’s writing style, so I tended to read the really long later books in spurts – when I got annoyed with either the writing style or the myriad of characters, I’d put it aside and read something else for awhile…which may account for why I can’t remember all the characters and their significance to the story line. (Sigh!)

Looking up images for the Outlander series, I’ve learned there is a NINTH book which came out this year! Should I read it? I probably will, eventually. (I hope the title means the series will come to an end.)

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FPQ #122: No Remorse, No Regret

Fandango’s Provocative Question #122 is about REGRET.

FPQ

Lucille Ball, the American actress and comedian, was quoted as saying…

“I’d rather regret the things I’ve done than regret the things I haven’t done.”

For this week’s provocative question I’m going to ask you to think back upon the life you’ve lived so far. And as you do so, consider this week’s question:

What is your biggest regret in life?

I suppose I could name several “regrets” I’ve had in my life, or the “biggest regret”, but I understand why I made the decisions I did at the time. So, I prefer to think of those things as mistakes, or the “roads most easily taken” without thinking ahead.

Me, a long time ago

I understand myself a lot better than I did when I was young. I was always beating myself up for stupid things I did or said, but I am nicer to myself these days. I like the way my life is headed now, in spite of being a “senior citizen.” Actually, being a senior citizen, except for reminders that my body is slowly falling apart, is quite nice. People at this age are much more forgiving, and more accepting. Every day, I look forward to traveling again, pursuing hobbies I enjoy, and relishing time with family and friends.

So I have “no remorse, no regrets.” Easy come, easy go!

SYW: On Games, Grief, Regret, & Truth

These are the questions and my responses for Melanie’s Share Your World this week:

QUESTIONS

What did you learn the hard way?
How difficult teaching was for a person with ADHD.

Which activities make you lose track of time?

Wood Block Puzzle Game - Free Offline APK Download | Android Market


Almost anything I’m engaged in! Especially, though, games I play on my phone. Most are word games, but I also have two different Solitaire games, and a “wood block” game, where you fit pieces of different sizes and shapes into a grid. This last game is the most addictive! I could play it, mesmerized, for hours – I don’t know why!

The best thing I can do if I want to accomplish several things in one day is to stay away from these games until I have a lull in the evening, or am waiting at a doctor’s office, for example.

Why do we seem to think of others the most after they’re gone?
Sad, isn’t it? Grief makes you linger on the one you’ve lost, and regret reminds you of all the things you wish you had said or done for them, but didn’t. I think we take others for granted. If they are a regular part of our lives, it just seems like they’ll be there forever. I hope the pandemic has taught us that we should value our time with loved ones and say and do everything for them that we can to show our appreciation.

Is it possible to know the truth without challenging it first?
Hmm, this is a difficult one. Many people claim to know the “truth” due to what they’ve been taught, and they’ve never been exposed or challenged by other ideas. They may have their “truth” confirmed by other people around them who think the same way, but how can they know they are right? If one is really convinced of the “truth,” that person doesn’t feel the need to go beyond that. They just hang onto reinforcement of that truth.

So yes, one can claim to know “truth” without examining that truth, but I do think that only by being exposed to other “truths” and examining them in an objective way (if that is even possible) can one feel secure that the truth is what one believes or has been brought up to believe.


GRATITUDE SECTION (always optional)

Please feel free to share your gratitude with everyone!   We can all use a boost in spirits from time to time!
Here’s a sentiment I can relate to!

SYW: On Annoying Commercials, Nasty Food, and the Creative Process

“Monday Melanie” has given us a new set of questions for her Share Your World challenge!

QUESTIONS

What’s the worst commercial you’ve recently seen (or heard)? Why was it so bad?
This is a hard one because so many are terrible! Most annoying are the Liberty Mutual ads. I would not recommend this company to anyone due to their ubiquitous, stupid ads! Everyone I talk to hates their commercials as much as I do. Also ads for intimate products, like tampons or sanitary pads.

Since you crossed off “recently”, the ads for Folgers Coffee were awful. In one ad, a person says, “Is your coffee grounds for divorce?’ I mean, how tacky!! Another really old Folgers commercial bragged about the “crystals” in its coffee. Who wants crystals in coffee?? Just give me pure, finely ground coffee, please! No additives!

What takes a lot of time but is totally worth it?
My hubby says, “love.” Awwww!

So I will say something else: the creative process of seeing a project through to the end. I spend long hours and weeks completing photo albums but I love doing it. I can say that a lot of my blog posts fall into this category as well. They’re time consuming, but fun to do. I’m in an art workshop – same thing. The camaraderie of other people who love art is part of it, but also dedicating 90 minutes a week to painting or drawing something is calming and fun, even if it takes weeks to finish it or to come back to. I’m in a writing group – same thing again. I have written a lot of things, and some of them are quite good, others not so much, but it’s worth the time because it is the creative process that is totally worthwhile, especially when producing a finished product I can be proud of!

Have you ever smiled at a stranger and then wished you hadn’t? Why or why not?
Yes, but only because the stranger stared straight ahead and made no attempt to smile back. So rude. Fortunately, where I live now, everyone – whether we know them or not – smiles and says hello!

It’s good to be able to see smiles again after over a year of wearing masks!

What do you think is the nastiest tasting food?  (This one might be a recycled question.  It’s familiar to me anyhow)
Olives. They’re so bitter.

GRATITUDE SECTION (as always, optional)

Are you at peace with yourself?   Your world?   Please share, whether you said “yay” or “nay”! 
Yes, pretty much. Most of the horrors of my life – the failures, dissatisfying experiences, vindictive people – are behind me. In the senior community where I live, we are all retired and we do pretty much what we want and like to do. Most people are friendly and pleasant to be with.

There are many problems in this world, and a few in my life, but I am overall happy and without regrets.

Gratitude Quotes