Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge continues with a color theme, this week the colors of our flag (whatever that happens to be). Here are some photos featuring the red, white, and blue (and sometimes other colors as well!).
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!!
What is your opinion of the state of health care in your country? Adequate or inadequate? What could be done to improve it? Hoo boy! This is one that has been highly and hotly debated in the last several years! How to get all Americans good health care while at the same time letting insurance companies run the show? It ain’t gonna happen! We need what Europe has: “free” health care for everyone – I know it isn’t really free, but it is run by the government and taxes pay for it, with the wealthy paying much more than the average worker. There are people who combine travel with medical needs, going to Spain, for example, to have hip replacement surgery which, even for Americans who don’t pay into their system, is many thousands of dollars cheaper than having it done here.
The United States has an excellent medical system; by that, I mean that it has the most advanced technology and research, and perhaps the most highly trained medical personnel, but, as we have seen in this pandemic, the “excellence” is spotty – concentrated in some areas, very inadequate in others. It is not evenly distributed and even with sophisticated equipment, many hospitals lacked basic PPE for all medical personnel when their hospitals were flooded with Covid patients. Many more people died than would have if hospital staff had everything it needed to treat them.
People (especially children, it seems) come to the United States to have some advanced procedures done that aren’t available in their countries, and they get special visas to stay in the U.S. for as long as their treatment lasts. Doctors Without Borders sends well-trained American doctors to poor countries to help people who have little or no health care. We hear about both of these efforts, but until Covid-19 hit us hard, the deficiencies of our health care system were largely unknown by the general public, (except, of course, people who already had had horrific experiences dealing with the cost and availability of health care). We did hear about people dying because they didn’t have insurance and couldn’t pay specialists who could help them. This is a travesty, revealed especially once “Obamacare” (Affordable Care Act, or ACA) was being debated. President Obama clearly wanted to make health care more affordable and more equitable, but because of the influence of big pharma and corporate insurance lobbyists, the middlemen – the insurance companies – were allowed to administer the program. When I retired, I had the option of a COBRA policy from my school district, which I would have to pay for. I compared the cost of that policy with what I could get of equal value from the ACA. Registering for the ACA was initially less expensive, so I dropped the COBRA, meaning I could not later get it back. My medical insurance from my employer ran out in August of the year I retired, so I got a Blue Cross Blue Shield “silver” policy – a deductible that wasn’t prohibitive and a “reasonable” monthly premium of about $550. It was difficult to be responsible for this entire cost, (even though the premiums are calculated on a sliding scale according to your income) since I was no longer working, but I figured that I only had to have it for a year and 9 months and then I could get Medicare. In January of the following year, only four months after my employee insurance benefits ran out, the monthly premium of my BCBS silver policy went up by more than $200 a month. Now it was higher than the COBRA would have been, but I was stuck with it. The following year, it went up again – this time to over $1,000 per month! Fortunately, I turned 65 in the middle of that year and was then eligible for Medicare, but even so, the cost was nearly prohibitive for those first six months. I imagined what it was like for people in low-wage and no-insurance jobs; although they had subsidies from the ACA, their costs must have gone up too. I heard horror stories of dilemmas far worse than what I experienced. So, while the ACA did make medical insurance affordable for millions more people than before, there were millions of people that still couldn’t afford it. The ACA was and is far from perfect.
I believe health care is a right, that should be available to all. That is why I am in favor of a single-payer system. However, with the innate distrust of the government that is embedded in American culture, I don’t know when or if it will ever become a reality. Perhaps another entity could administer it, so it wouldn’t be associated with a government “welfare state.”
What are two words that describe you best? scatterbrained intelligent
Do you have a morning routine? If so, what it’s like? Yes, we get up around 8 am, and go to the kitchen, where Dale gets his coffee and I warm up water for tea. We each get a banana, and sometimes a small piece of cheese. Then we sit in our living room in front of our fireplace (in cold weather seasons) or on our screened porch (in warm weather) and read. Unfortunately, this is so pleasurable that we let it go on too long before we really start getting ready for our day, which, 5 days a week, starts with an exercise class between 10 and 11 am. Then we have a proper breakfast, take our morning meds, get dressed and go.
What’s something that really makes your blood race? Wishing I lived in a country that values its children more than guns.
Do you enjoy singing festive songs during *insert festive celebration that you observe to replace “Christmas” if it’s not relevant to you * Christmas carols or songs? Yes, of course – because it’s only one season a year. I also like to listen to the radio station that plays all Christmas music during the month of December. By New Year’s Day, I am sick of all these songs and want to go back to “normal!”
Feel free to share something that brings peace to you. Knowing that my son is OK, taking care of himself and no longer using drugs & alcohol. Until 6 months ago, worrying about my son was a constant stressor, but he has managed to finally get out of his rut and do the things he needs to make progress in his life. He calls often, sometimes with problems that frustrate him, but we always talk it out and he realizes his problem isn’t unsolvable. He is surrounded by people who care about and support him. He is a joy to be with now!! I look forward to spending Christmas with both him and our daughter and son-in-law.
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!!
If you had the power to strike one person in your life permanently speechless, who would it be? (Real names aren’t necessary, vague descriptions are fine… and yes, this is being asked in fun and not to be mean). Donald Trump
If you could relive your childhood over again, what’s one thing from this modern world world today you’d want to take back with you? My computer/word processor. Writing would have been so much easier! Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple are the standard colors of the rainbow. Name something you love (or greatly admire/appreciate) for all six major colors of the rainbow! (Sorry indigo, you’re just blue-purple. Hot pink? You’re too flashy!) Red: apples and tomatoes – because they are delicious to eat! Orange: Zinnias and Dahlias – they are pretty and bright! Yellow: bananas – I eat one every morning! Also daffodils – because they are the harbingers of spring. Green: trees & grass – the primary color of nature Blue: sky – because it means the sun is shining! Purple: my parka which used to be my sister’s but she passed away and I got many of her clothes – it still reminds me of her! All 6: M&Ms (except purple, which is brown instead). I love to sort them by color and eat them one by one.
If you were to open the world’s most accurate fortune cookie, what would your fortune inside it read? You will lead a good life and travel a lot, but also bear the consequences of many of your decisions. Santa’s tired of people leaving him out cookies and milk on Christmas Eve night! If you really wanted to get on Santa’s good side, what would you leave out for him to eat/drink instead? (This question applies whether you celebrate Christmas or not. It’s just for fun, so imagination? Welcome! ) A good, cold glass of beer (Santa seems to be more of a beer person than a wine person), hot tomato vegetable soup, steak dinner, and a cup of hot chocolate!
GRATITUDE SECTION (Still optional)
What plans do you have for the upcoming holiday/celebration/festival season? Socializing in a party atmosphere with co-residents, even if we still need to wear masks! Also, going to plays and concerts again!
Day 23: Gathering We have been warned by Dr. Fauci and the CEO’s of our senior community, to STAY HOME and not go to gatherings! But we are sort of obligated to go to a gathering of seven people on Christmas Day. Our daughter and son-in-law are cooking and our son-in-law’s brother and niece have come from Florida for the holidays. (Probably not a wise thing to do this year, but there was nothing we could do about it!) Also our son will be there; otherwise he’d be alone for Christmas which would worsen his depression. So we are going to sneak out and employ mitigation methods while there – masking wearing, social distancing, etc. We had a COVID test last week and it came out negative. I may go and have another one done after this Christmas Day gathering!
Day 24: Presents Some people have the tradition of opening presents on Christmas Eve. My family’s tradition was to open just one gift on Christmas Eve, so I tried to choose wisely. In my favorite Christmas movie, Love Actually, there is a scene in which a family is gathered around on Christmas Eve to select one gift to open. We see the mother (who has already accidentally seen her husband buy a gold necklace at a department store) reaching for a small square box under the tree that she believes to be the necklace. Although she had just recently had a conversation with her husband about how much she loved Joni Mitchell, she tries hard to hide her disappointment when the gift turns out to be a Joni Mitchell double CD. Her husband, unaware of her knowledge of the necklace he bought for his secretary, smiles and says, “for your emotional education.” Holding back tears, she excuses herself and goes upstairs to her bedroom to cry.
Day 25: CHRISTMAS DAY! Food Traditional Christmas dinner food is a lot like Thanksgiving food. At this moment, I can hear Dale rattling around in the kitchen as he prepares his green bean casserole. We are sneaking out to go to our daughter’s house for Christmas dinner, because she and her husband are cooking and there will only be seven of us there. The main dishes they are serving are beef Wellington and ham. Meanwhile, my mouth waters just looking at the wonderful cookies my niece baked for us! This is her gift to us every year and I always look forward to it! There are standard holiday shaped sugar cookies, wreaths made with corn flakes and marshmallows (dyed green), and my favorite: chocolate brownies with peppermint frosting, which I have already talked about in a previous post for this challenge. Don’t they look scrumptious?!
And now the Countdown to Christmas is done! Thank you, Tourmaline, it was a lot of fun! I’d like to end with some holiday cheer:
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.!
What is your favorite type of cookie (they’re called biscuits in Europe I believe)? If you mean Christmas cookies, it would be a tie between the sugar cookies in different shapes with frosting and a brownie with peppermint candy frosting (not technically a cookie, but my niece makes these every year as part of her gift of cookies).
Outside of holiday season, it’s homemade chocolate chip cookies fresh out of the oven! I don’t bake cookies in general, so we buy Tates – their chocolate chip cookie is thin and crispy.
If you could choose one age and remain that forever, what would it be and why? 65 – young enough to still have the energy and drive to travel and explore new things, and also be eligible for retirement and Medicare.
Do you have a traditional drink during the holiday season? Not this year, because we are not gathering as usual with our family, but normally it is Jolly Jolt. Jolly Jolt is basically warm apple cider with cinnamon cloves. My sister prepares it in a large coffee pot and everyone helps themselves! This year, I suspect it will be Cooper’s Hawk’s Winter Red wine, which we have a bottle of in our garage – also best heated.
Are you able to still believe in holiday magic as you did when you were a child? No, not really. Warmth, maybe, magic, no. When I was a kid, holidays like Christmas were always extremely exciting. We kids got to do the fun stuff, like picking out and decorating the tree, helping put up the creche, and singing Christmas carols. As an adult, there’s the work side of it – things don’t magically happen! I do very little decorating, except to put up my collection of creches and hang a Santa Claus on the door. Usually I have a Christmas tree but haven’t had one for the last three years. I do more decorating if we’re having guests.
The most magical and exciting moments during my childhood were early Christmas mornings. My dad put up a portable screen so we couldn’t see into the living room until my parents got up. So we kids would climb partway up the stairway to peek over the screen to find our stockings and all the presents my parents had added during the night. This is what I think about when I’m asked about holiday magic!
Now I look forward to simple gatherings of families and friends, noshing, drinking Jolly Jolt and playing games. It gives me warm feeling, but not the magic of childhood.
Gratitude section: I’m grateful to be alive and reasonably healthy! And I’m grateful that 2020 is almost over!