Those of us over 50 most likely remember the old TV series Candid Camera – I can still remember the last line of its theme song: “Smile! You’re on Candid Camera!” Nancy Merrill’s A Photo A Week challenge this week is candids. I offer my submission, first with two photos taken of family members at my grand-nephew’s birthday/going away to college family gathering (that’s him in the second photo); and a few animal candids of wild and domestic furred or feathered friends.
Our cat had been sleeping behind some propped pillows on the bed – she’d never slept there before, and she seemed a bit surprised and perhaps annoyed that we found her hiding place!
Feb. 5: Yesterday, I wrote that I love cats. Right now, most of my cat-love goes to my one cat, Hazel. (The rest goes to my three grandcats, who I don’t get to see very often these days!) Hazel has been with us since Christmas 2013 and is now almost 10 years old! She has her moods, but usually is good for some nice fur-fluffing, and sleeping between our legs, especially in cold weather. In the mornings, she likes to lie by the fire, joining us with our morning coffee/tea.
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.
What’s a relationship deal breaker for you? At this point, I would say smoking. I was married to a smoker, which I endured for 20 years. Dale, my current husband, doesn’t smoke, thank God. When you are not around smokers, you become sensitive to the smell of smoke on them and everything they possess. Smokers and those who live with them become unaware of the smell. My son smokes now, and after spending a couple of hours with him yesterday in his apartment, my hair, clothes, and coat were all permeated with the smell of smoke.
Do you believe in extra-terrestrials? Yes, in the vast universe with innumerable stars and planets, how could we be the only “intelligent” beings? It’s logical that there are intelligent beings on other planets, a few of them anyway. We are made of “star stuff” – the matter and energy that the birth and the death of stars create in a constant cycle. We are carbon-based life forms. Other planets may have evolved life forms that are carbon-based or something else. There are many factors that have to come together to generate life, so it’s a miracle in itself, but certainly not unique.
In the morning, do you hit the snooze button on your alarm (sometimes repeatedly) or do you leap out of bed, ready to face the day? Since I am retired, I rarely ever use my alarm clock.
If you came back in the next life as an animal, which animal would you choose to be? (and even if you don’t believe in that, let’s suspend belief for a moment just to have a little fun) Some kind of cat. They sleep a lot! I would not want to be a house cat, though, because nowadays cat “owners” don’t let them go outside. If I could go outside, I would definitely be someone’s cat, because I could enjoy the natural world and come home to whatever love and attention I myself decided I wanted. My humans would feed me and if I didn’t like the food, I could glare at them and they would bend over backward to find food I preferred. When I wanted, I could jump on my human’s lap and purr while being stroked and scratched on the back of my neck. I could curl up in a ball and my fur would warm me. I’d never have to be cold! They would play with me, laugh at my antics, and love me just as I am.
GRATITUDE(Participation is always optional) I am grateful for orchids in the winter! After many months of being dormant, my orchid plant grew a new stem with little buds all along it. Now those buds are beginning to bloom, and cause me delight when there are no other flowers to feast my eyes on at this time of year!
What do you plan to work on this year to make it better than last year (personal goals, physically or mentally, or all three)? I am wary of making resolutions, which I never follow through on. Although I am maintaining my weight, I would be healthier if I lost a few pounds but I keep ordering desserts and cannot give up chocolate! That said, I pledge to work on becoming healthier by eating healthier foods (within the limits of what they provide here, but there’s always salad on the menu) – and I’ve mostly given up red meat so far – and working on being fit. I have let myself go somewhat during the pandemic, but I regularly take walks or spend half an hour (the limit right now) in the fitness center, and I can do fitness classes on line.
I also pledge to motivate myself to work on my writing projects (family history, personal history, and blogging), do more watercolor to become better at it, and enjoy life as much as possible!
Here are Melanie’s questions this week for Share Your World. Nothing heavy or controversial this week!
What would you enjoy if you could do so without someone getting annoyed with you for enjoying it? It MUST be something you aren’t supposed to enjoy because it is “bad for you”. Playing word games on my phone, according to my husband! I have ADHD and years ago, a therapist told me never to get a phone with lots of apps because they would distract me too much (I had a Blackberry at the time). Sure enough, he was right! I have been known to waste an entire morning playing games on my phone, and when I come back into reality, I realize I haven’t even gotten dressed yet and it’s noon!
I’ve been trying to be more mindful about this and having some success. It is “bad” for me because these games are addicting and my eyes get sore from staring at the phone screen for so long.
(I wanted to say “chocolate” but he doesn’t really get annoyed about that. My body does, though!)
Is it okay for men to wear the color pink? Of course. This assigning of colors for boys and girls is so silly. When I was pregnant, I didn’t want to tell anyone what the sex of my child was, because I didn’t want to get lots of clothes in the same color. Since my child was a boy, it wouldn’t have been as bad as if I’d had a girl. Even so, I stayed away from “baby blue” to decorate with. Babies like BRIGHT COLORS!
Anyway, Dale’s favorite color is purple. Is that unmasculine? I’ve seen men wearing pink and they look quite spiffy!
Can you curl your tongue? Yes. I think it’s genetic.
What, in your opinion, is the best room to put a fireplace? Whatever room is below the chimney!! Of course, the living room. Before central heating, people who could afford it had fireplaces in many rooms. We now have a gaslit fireplace (so no flue, no mess) that we push a button to start and stop. It’s so nice to sit in a comfy chair in front of the fireplace and read. Every house I’ve lived in that had a fireplace, it was in the living room. I wouldn’t want it in the bedroom for two reasons: there would be the danger of falling asleep while it was lit, which could lead to a disaster; second, I don’t like the bedroom to be too warm. I like being under warm covers but if the room is warm, I get hot and can’t sleep. And there’s a third reason: Santa Claus coming down into the bedroom would be unseemly and we would see his gifts before Christmas morning!
I’m grateful that no one I know and love has died from COVID-19. I’m grateful for being able to Zoom with friends and family. I’m grateful that we will soon have a sane president. I’m grateful that a vaccine is coming. I’m grateful for having a nice home, a good husband, and good friends.
Monday = Melanie’s Share Your World! I haven’t posted much lately, but I always look for Share Your World!
This week’s questions:
Is cereal soup? Why or why not?
What an odd question! Of course cereal isn’t soup, unless you like soggy cereal drowning in a bowl of milk! Actually, I rarely eat cereal with milk anymore – I usually use yogurt instead. I have cereal with fruit & yogurt for breakfast a few days a week. Soup makes a good lunch in the winter. Another difference between soup and cereal is that usually cereal has some sort of sweetness to it, while soup tends to be salty.
What are some interesting ways to answer everyday questions like “how’s it going” or “what do you do”?
How’s it going? “Going? Going where?” What do you do? “Lots of things – eat, sleep, make love, read, exercise, go to work, sleep late, travel. Which one are you asking about?” (I might select a couple of these depending on my mood.)
But I never have a clever response to anything like that – I don’t think of clever things on the spur of the moment; sometimes I come up with a good response an hour later when I’m in my car. However, I do want to be honest sometimes when someone asks me, “How are you?” I usually say, “fine and you?” But what if I said something like, “I feel like sh** this morning, how about you?” I mean, do people really want to know how it’s going or how I am? It’s just a mindless greeting. I prefer greeting people with a smile and “hello!”
What was your favorite toy growing up?
It wasn’t really a toy. Paper and crayons/pencils. I always loved to draw, and I would write and illustrate little books. As I got older, I preferred journaling or writing romantic stories, but added drawings as well.
If you have a pet, and you could ask it three questions, what would you ask? Every animal has its own personality and preferences, and Hazel is no exception! I would like to ask her about some of her idiosyncratic preferences:
What makes you choose one place over another to take your many cat naps?
You change your mind so often regarding what food you prefer, so what kind of cat food do you really like? (I know what people food you like!)
Why do you only want to sleep between Dale’s legs when he’s sitting on the recliner (and not when I’m there) but in bed, you always sleep between my legs and not his?
Attitude of Gratitude Section (Always Optional)
What’s one simple thing society at large could do to improve our world? Wear a mask and believe what doctors tell you!
Do you like or dislike surprises? Why or why not? It depends on what kind of surprise it is. If it’s a Christmas or birthday gift, yes, I like surprises. I like the surprise of my husband getting me flowers for Mother’s Day.
Some surprises are not fun, though…the 2016 election, for example, was a very nasty surprise – and more so because we were on an airplane during the election returns, and heard the news of Trump’s victory from a fellow passenger when we landed in São Paulo – it kind of put a damper on our vacation. Another “surprise” might be finding out that my mammogram showed a mass, or to test positive for Covid-19. Those kinds of surprises I DON’T like!
What’s your favorite zoo animal? This is a hard one for me…a few years ago I wrote a post about zoochosis, which is used to describe animals’ repetitive behaviors in captivity. For example, a leopard or a cheetah that repetitively paces the perimeter of its enclosure is suffering from zoochosis, meaning it is bored and frustrated with being cooped up. Zoos are much better these days about giving animals space and observing the animals for such behaviors, a sign that they are not healthy and intervention is needed.
In other words, my “favorite” zoo animal (animal in captivity) is difficult to name. After going on a safari in Tanzania in 2018, I resolved not to ever go to a zoo again. Of course, I’ve gotten over it and have been to zoos a few times since then.
I like the big animals, especially the big cats (or small wild cats), giraffes, and elephants. However, I prefer to see them in their native environment. Often when I’m at the zoo, these animals are asleep. When we went to the San Diego Zoo in 2017, I wanted to see the koalas, because the Chicago zoos don’t have koalas, or at least you can’t see them close up. At the San Diego Zoo, there’s a platform so you can see the koalas right in front of you while they are up in a eucalyptus tree – that is, in fact, where they spend most of their time. Seeing them close up was quite a treat! I also like to watch the monkeys – they don’t seem to be bothered with their artificial environment and it’s fun to observe their antics!
What three things do you think of the most each day? What I’m going to do that day, what I’m going to eat that day, and what the weather is like – i.e. can I go out for a walk or read sitting on the porch? (I have such a hard life – can’t you tell?? ;-D )
Because of Covid-19, we select what we want to eat from a weekly menu and it gets delivered to our house, so I have to look at what I wrote down that I’m having for dinner that day. Knowing what I chose for dinner that day helps me decide what to eat for lunch.
Some days I just want to spend a lot of time reading, while other days I prefer to work on a photo book on Shutterfly or blog. Sometimes I’m in the mood for watching something on TV. I think a lot about being organized and putting my scheduled activities in my calendar because I often forget something and plan something else for the same time.
4. When, if ever, is taking a human life justified? In self-defense (when one’s life or loved one’s life is threatened) – this may seem broad, because some people consider “threatened” to be when someone walks on their lawn or comes up to their house and rings the doorbell. I do not think it is justified in such circumstances. In the last several months, police brutality toward Black people has been in the forefront of people’s minds, because of the unnecessary deaths of George Floyd and Brionna Taylor, among others. These cops were not being threatened. They just abused their power and should be prosecuted.
Sometimes a person may feel threatened due to past circumstances, such as a woman whose husband has been abusive toward her or her children, and it is understandable (though not laudable) that she would seize an opportunity to kill him, even if he weren’t threatening her at that particular moment.
Also, it is somewhat justified to kill during wars, but not civilians and not even some wars which are completely unnecessary. World War II was a justified war with a clear enemy that invaded other nations’ sovereignty. During the Vietnam War, there were some incidents that the media brought our attention to, of massacres of civilians and burning their towns, such as the My Lai massacre. This is only one example of atrocities committed during wars, which are not justified under any circumstances.
If one considers abortion the “taking of a human life” – which is controversial – then I also think it is justified according to a woman’s particular circumstances, which range from being unable to raise the child or being afraid of losing her job, to extreme cases like rape, incest, or when the life of the mother is in danger if the pregnancy continues. I am “pro-choice” because I think it is a private matter between a woman and her doctor, and I don’t presume to judge whatever situation she is going through. That said, I do not approve of abortion if the fetus is already viable – that is, can survive outside the womb, usually the late 2nd trimester or later, UNLESS it is a threat to the life of the mother. A fetus in the early stages of development does not feel anything yet so doesn’t suffer during the abortion. That said, really I don’t like abortion at all, at least not for myself. I could never have done it – I know I would have regretted it all my life if I had. When I got pregnant, I considered it as an option but my circumstances, while not ideal, were not dire, and I knew that I really wanted to have children. So I think it is a matter of choice.
Another controversial subject: the death penalty. I am totally against it. It is a barbaric custom that belongs to the past and I am ashamed that it is legal in my supposedly modern, civilized country.
Attitude of Gratitude Section (Always Optional)
Do small miracles exist? Yes, if one sees them as “miracles.” They are the unexpected joys that people feel blessed or grateful for. I like to watch nature shows on TV, and I find it miraculous how various species have adapted to their environment – like fish living in the deep ocean who can produce their own light. I feel awe toward the wonders of nature. We are so blessed to have this beautiful planet that provides us with such bounty. Let’s not ruin it!!!