EM’S RWP: My Birthday

Last Thursday was my birthday (June 2). It was also the day of our senior community’s first variety show in many years. We had some real talent! Some of the acts were very funny, including the Walker Sisters, who ended the show. This got a lot of laughs from the audience!

I was in two dance numbers, comprised of some of the members of our Zumba class.

I’m the one who looks like she’s going to fly off the stage! This is actually a still photo from a video.

My brother-in-law sang in a barbershop quartet. He’s the one on the far left, with a mustache.

Then, yesterday, we hosted a birthday party for him and me, which was also a smashing success! We both have early June birthdays, and this was a landmark birthday for both of us. The whole independent living community was invited and we also had family members. We served hors d’oeuvres and cake.

My nephew played the keyboard. We received SOOO many cards and edible gifts (chocolate, primarily), although we didn’t ask anyone to give us anything. It was a lot of fun! Since yesterday, I’ve received calls from residents to thank me for hosting this party.

I ordered these t-shirts for us to wear at our party!

SYW: Happy Valentine Birthday

It’s Valentine’s Day Monday, so Melanie’s Share Your World questions are all about this day of love.

Which traditional Valentine’s Day  gift would you rather receive: chocolates, flowers, or a card with a personal message?

Flowers with a card and chocolates!

Do you like romantic movies?
Yes, some of them. Actually, my husband is a lot more into rom-coms than I am. He watches the same ones over and over when given the opportunity!

Is Valentine’s Day only about romantic love? Or is it a good occasion to celebrate friendship as well?
It’s both. And actually it’s a day to have a birthday celebration too! (See below)

How do you deal with unwanted romantic attention?
Hahahaha! I wish!!

GRATITUDE SECTION (As always, optional)

Share one or two of your favorite memories of your special loved one if you’d like.
My husband, Dale, has his birthday on Valentine’s Day. Today he had a very special Valentine birthday! In the morning, he presented me with a very LARGE Happy Valentine’s Day bag. In it were two gifts for me for Valentine’s Day as well as a mushy card (he always gets those!). I had not even had the chance to wrap his birthday gift yet, but when I returned home from a book discussion group, he had gone to a doctor’s appointment, so I was able to get his gift ready. But he had a real surprise in store for him! First, he got several cards and phone calls wishing him happy birthday. The doorbell rang and it was one of our friends from our senior community delivering two beautiful cupcakes (they must have been from Mariano’s – this supermarket is known for its elaborately decorated desserts) along with a card from him and his wife! Dale was sheepish!

The cupcakes from Mariano’s!

We had an early dinner reservation because I had arranged for my brother-in-law’s barbershop quartet to come serenade him with a singing Valentine, and it was to be their last singing Valentine of the day! I had to make up an excuse to have dinner so early, so I told Dale I had to go to church for a rehearsal and he didn’t suspect anything. Before the quartet arrived, six of us were settled at our table set for seven. (The 7th was for my sister, who arrived late.) These were all friends or friendly acquaintances of ours, but especially friends of my sister’s. One of the women has a walker and on it she had brought a beautiful bouquet of roses for the table and a box of cookies to share with us, as well as a bottle of wine! So we had quite a celebration, even before my brother-in-law’s singing Valentine arrived! The guys presented him with a red rose (which he left on our table!! 😦 ) and sang three romantic songs, ending with Happy Birthday.

Oh, and I almost forgot – Dale got a call from our son during dinner to wish him happy birthday and they had a long conversation. This was very special because our son never remembers to call us on our birthdays. He has really turned over a new leaf!!

So we had a very memorable and fun celebration. And we still have the cupcakes to enjoy on another day!!

The quartet singing to Dale (who is on the far right of this photo). In the middle is Sally, the woman who brought the wine, cookies and flowers for the table. On the far left is my sister Mary.
The quartet poses with Dale, with the rose in his mouth! My brother-in-law Elmer is on the left, wearing a black mask.

Here is a barbershop quartet (not Elmer’s!) singing Let Me Call You Sweetheart, a standard for singing valentines.

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.

LAPC: The Lazy Days of Summer

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #104 is about summer. Ah, summer! My favorite season of the year! Even with the distancing measures of Covid-19, I can enjoy the summer. (Imagine if the shelter-in-place had been in the winter – we’d REALLY get cabin fever!)

Two recent photos of our senior community that represent summer:

Daisies wet from the automatic sprinklers
A vigilant mama duck keeps watch over her young offspring.

Memories of summers gone by: on this day in …

Tourism in Europe: a group of tourists in Budapest (July 8, 2019)
A summer birthday party on a friend’s patio (July 8, 2018)
A week with family in northern Wisconsin – we rented two cabins on Lower Kaubashine Lake (July 8, 2017)

Flowers in bloom everywhere:

Gardens at Schoenbrunn Palace, Vienna
Schoenbrunn Palace gardens, Vienna

In summer, people like to be in and around water.

A pool party at dusk on a hot day in August (Des Plaines, Illinois)
Drinks on a boat with friends during a late June heat wave (Amsterdam)
Traffic jam on an Amsterdam canal

Hunt for Joy Challenge: Say Cheese

Cee Neuner has a new weekly challenge entitled On The Hunt For Joy. This is the second week and the theme is Say Cheese. She says,

“find some photos of you smiling and feeling joyful, or find some photos that brings a smile to your face or brings you joy.  Tip from Ingrid Fetell Lee [who is the inspiration for this challenge]: ‘Studies show that our expressions can influence our emotions. So when you’re feeling down, try faking it ‘till you feel it by smiling, doing laughter yoga exercises, or looking at a photo of yourself taken at a particularly joyful time.'”

I selected photos that represent happy times in my life. The first is me having a fun moment with my son when he was a little boy, circa winter 1988.Jayme & Katharine Villa-Alvarez
A wedding photo taken when I married the man I love, Dale, in November 1995.
Katy & Dale wedding picture - 11-19-95
Playing around with the photo software on my computer in my classroom at Anne Sullivan School. This was one of the happiest years during my teaching career, 2009-2010.
Me from PhotoBooth
Here are some happy times traveling.

DSC_0967-Laclede, StLouis

Me with fish band sculpture, Laclede, St. Louis, MO (2016) – I include this because of the interesting & humorous sculpture.

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You may recognize this as my profile picture on WP. I’m smiling because we were in Monterey, CA (2015), one of my favorite areas in the U.S.

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Relaxing on deck with a margarita during our cruise to the Panama Canal (2017).

1-29 enjoying a snack at Rijksmuseum

Relaxing with hot drinks and pastries after a few hours looking at art, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam (2018).

Finally, one of my “shared” birthday celebrations – my brother-in-law and I have birthdays nine days apart, and he is 10 years older than I am.  (They spelled my name wrong at the bakery – it’s Katy, not Caty! 😦 )
Elmer & me - joint birthday celebration

 

CFFC: First Birthday party

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge for this week is Events. Last weekend my husband and I attended a first birthday party for our grand-niece, Rosemary. My niece (Rosemary’s mom) told me that 60 people had been invited – all family!  Probably 40 at least were in attendance at this special event. Most of the attendees were on her husband’s side; there were only 15 members of her (our) family there.

Last time I saw Rosemary, she was a tiny baby that I held in my arms. Now she’s an active one-year-old, walking and inquisitive about everything. Somehow I think she knew the party was for her because all these relatives were crowding around her when she ate her birthday pie and when she and Mommy opened gifts.

After everyone had gathered, noshed on hors d’oeuvres, had drinks, and chatted for awhile, it was time for dessert. For Rosemary, that meant her first blueberry pie, which had a number 1 candle on top. She felt the crust first, then dug her hand in. Yummy! (I don’t think I was the only one hoping that we wouldn’t be sharing that pie with her!)

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After that, while we ate our own dessert, Rosemary had her clothes changed, and when she returned it was time to explore: my husband’s feet! Funny, that big toe wiggles up and down! I’d better check it out…

She was also fascinated by the pink balloons that were floating around.  Hmm, it feels different than a ball – it’s squishy and it stretches!

Rosemary explores a balloon - the texture, how she can pull its 'skin' apart

Her favorite gift was a book that made animal sounds.

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It was a fun day, but that one-year-old surely was exhausted afterward! So were we!

 

FLASHBACK FRIDAY: Jordan the Boy Scout

My grandnephew, Jordan Sweet, turned 17 this past Wednesday. We have spent time with his family celebrating his birthday every year for several years now. Unfortunately, other commitments keep us from being able to celebrate with him this weekend.

In recent years, he has combined his invitation for us to celebrate his birthday with his Boy Scout pancake breakfast, which happened to occur on the weekend that he was having a family birthday party! In 2011, I took pictures of the event.

Cook Marcia Sweet welcomes us to her son Jordan's pancake breakfast!

Cook Marcia Sweet welcomes us to her son Jordan’s pancake breakfast!

Jordan in his Boy Scout uniform

Jordan in his Boy Scout uniform

Bagpipe players were the entertainment at the pancake breakfast. (After all, it was the weekend before St. Patrick's Day!)

Bagpipe players were the entertainment at the pancake breakfast. (After all, it was the weekend before St. Patrick’s Day!)

2nd cousins Grace (age 1 1/2) and Jordan (13 on his birthday)

2nd cousins Grace (age 1 1/2) and Jordan (13 on his birthday)

Within a couple of years, Jordan became an Eagle Scout. His project was to create a library at a center for foster children, since he loves to read more than just about anything else. We are so proud of the young man he’s becoming!