SYW: Musicals, Memories, & Other Musings

Here is my take on Melanie’s Share Your World this week.

QUESTIONS

When you were a kid, did you eat the crusts on your sandwich or not?
Always, I love the crusts!

Are you a fan of musicals—why or why not?
Yes and no. It seems like every time I turn around, there’s a new musical out (What is Six?!). Some of the topics they take on are not necessarily good as musicals, but might make great plays or movies. (Believe it or not, I actually saw a production of Jane Eyre: The Musical. Not one of my favorites.) I prefer musicals that are written as musicals, not adaptations of books, like Jane Austen novels – a few of them have been made into musicals, and I didn’t like that at all. The songs can be a distraction.

When I’m watching a musical, I often get impatient when the characters break into song, because I want the story to continue. But some musicals are really great and a lot of fun. I enjoy some of the classics, like The Sound of Music, My Fair Lady, or West Side Story. I also enjoy singing along to the familiar songs while listening to a CD. I have not seen Hamilton yet, mainly because I don’t want to pay $200 for a ticket, but also I’ve heard that it’s best to “preview” the songs, to have time to understand the lyrics. I probably wouldn’t do that, and as a result, I wouldn’t “get” the songs. But I’d still like to see it. However, I don’t rush out to see every single musical or remake of a musical. Really, I’m not sure politicians or historical figures are good subjects for musicals.

The thing is, I do really like opera, although some are more interesting than others. But in opera, they sing all the time and there are usually subtitles, even when it’s sung in English. I guess I see opera as a whole “experience” while going to a musical is like going to a play or a movie. But now, I’ve taken to watching operas from the Met on a movie screen. The seats are far more comfortable and the theatre is a short, easy drive in my car!

Is it difficult to do what you do? (for a living, hobby etc.).  If you’re retired, what you ‘did’ previously for a job can be substituted.
Yes, at least my second career – teaching – was very difficult. Some situations were easier for me than others. I didn’t really like or succeed at being a regular classroom teacher because there were too many things to remember, especially non-teaching things, like checking my email every morning and taking attendance. I really loved, and I think excelled at, being a resource teacher – that is, taking kids out of their classrooms and working with them in small groups. I think the kids liked it too. Being a bilingual teacher, sometimes the foreign-born kids were overwhelmed in the classroom with all their American peers, and my classroom was more culture-affirming and comfortable for them. For me, it was more relaxed, less rigid. My groups were usually 4-10 students, that I would have during literacy block – about an hour and a half per grade level. So I was their reading and language arts teacher, one with knowledge of their native language and culture and trained in teaching English as a Second Language. I was also a resource for classroom teachers who did not know how to teach English as a Second Language. I enjoyed the collaborative and reflective aspects of teaching.

But I really struggled being a classroom teacher. Classroom management, for a person with ADHD, can be very difficult. I was always misplacing things, so I didn’t have them when I needed them. Although I wrote detailed lesson plans, I didn’t always follow them as I should have. I spent hours every night preparing for my classes or grading papers. I would say I worked about 70 hours a week! (Which is worth a couple of summer months off, don’t you think so?)

My 4th grade students (2009) performing a Reader’s Theatre play for their peers

Besides the difficulties keeping up in the classroom, there were always school politics. If your principal was a jerk or didn’t like you, your school year could be hell. Some principals have favorites among the teachers, who then would form a little clique and act superior to other teachers. I even had one principal use my classroom aide to spy on me. Administrators are under a lot of pressure these days, due to their schools having to perform well on standardized tests. And of course, the special ed and bilingual students always were at a disadvantage taking those tests. The principals were also under scrutiny and beholden to superintendents and school boards. Not an easy task, and these days I wouldn’t want to go up against a school board! Some of the parents are crazy! Anyway, I tried to understand what principals were up against, but some principals were just terrible. A few were very good and sympathetic, and those teaching years were the best – at least I was less stressed.

It takes a certain type of person, one who is organized and doesn’t get flustered easily, to be a good teacher. I think I was good, as I said, with small groups, but not as a classroom teacher. And I’m sure it has gotten worse for teachers since I retired seven years ago, not better.

What’s the best concert you’ve ever been to?  (Doesn’t have to be a rock concert either).

That’s a hard one! I’ve been to many great concerts, so it’s difficult to say which was the best. I do remember rock/popular music concerts better than classical concerts; I went to very few actual rock concerts. Classical concerts? There are too many to remember. The best popular music concerts were those at which I could hear the music and liked it, and where there were no disturbances like drunk people throwing up near me. I liked seeing Pete Seeger and Arlo Guthrie, and some of the Celtic bands made me want to get up and dance!

GRATITUDE SECTION

Looking back over your life, what is one thing you’re grateful for?  One thing you really regret?
I’ll do the regret first – I regret not getting into a profession earlier or even preparing for one during my years ass an undergraduate in college. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, except that I really liked writing and drawing. The work I did for 20 plus years I put in the category of “a job” – not a profession. Teaching was the one profession I went into, when I was a lot older and more mature. I went to grad school and got my MA in teaching, and did further coursework to become a bilingual/ESL teacher. I wish I had done something like speech pathology – I never really understood what that was and if I had, I might have taken that path. Anyway, it’s all water under the bridge!

I am grateful for many things, but the most important one is my family. Although my siblings and I bickered sometimes, in the most important things we supported each other. We never fought over money or our inheritance as some families do. No one tried to take more than was due to them. When I was in my first marriage, and especially when I separated from my ex-husband, my family really supported and helped me with their love and understanding. They have been so welcoming to my stepdaughter and her husband, integrating them into the family as full members, not adjuncts. My stepdaughter, who was an only child, suddenly gained a whole lot of cousins, aunts and uncles! She really appreciates that and knows a lot more about what’s going on with my nieces and nephews than I do!

I have been very lucky to have the family I do!

A family gathering in my #2 sister’s dining room

Lens-Artists: Maximalism vs Minimalism

Lens-Artists’ challenge this week is maximalism/minimalism. As explained in the post, this can mean different things, but reading it made me think of all the ostentatious, Baroque-style churches I have seen in Europe vs the much fewer simple (usually modern) ones.

Note the difference in these two photos that I took of altars at the Jasna Gora Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa in Poland (above-maximalist) and the new church of Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial in Berlin, Germany (below-minimalist).

Each has its own kind of beauty. The first was built in Baroque style, which featured many intricate details and elements, while the second was built in the 1950s and in which the focus is on the many small panes of blue stained glass. Each has a fascinating history. Click on the links above to read about each of them.

Maximalist can mean a view of an entire scene with flowers while its counterpart, minimalist, focuses on one flower.

SYW: Morality and Bananas

I’m finally getting around to this week’s Share Your World!

  • Questions
  • What’s the most useful thing you know? Compared to many other seniors I know, I’m pretty good at navigating my computer, including knowing how to do spreadsheets, social media, texting, researching online (and being able to find the more reputable websites), etc. I also do all my writing and storing my photos on my computer. When our community had to learn how to get on “Caremerge” – a community website that has all kinds of information about happenings and also residents’ email addresses, etc. – it caused a lot of anxiety. I would say that even now, only about 25% of the residents here know how to use it. I also have downloaded a variety of games and my Kindle library on my phone and tablet. The games do mesmerize me sometimes, so I lose track of time and don’t get other things done (such as doing this blog!).
  • What impact do you think it would have on the world if bananas were illegal? It would greatly disrupt my life – I eat a banana every morning with my morning tea! Bananas are a good source, although not the only one, of potassium. Many people in Latin America would lose their jobs picking and preparing bananas for shipment. In Costa Rica, some live near the plantations, in modest houses their employer provides for them, so they would lose their homes too! I think someone would start smuggling them, like drugs, so that people could keep working on banana plantations. That would employ more people – the smugglers and sellers in the countries the bananas are smuggled to. But hiding drugs in shipments, or even on one’s person, is much easier than bananas would be – can you imagine hiding a banana under your clothes? It would get all smushed and get all over your clothes and skin – yuck!
  • What social stigma does society need to just get over? Mental illness, addiction, and LGBT individuals, as well as racism (which is not exactly a social stigma but we still need to get over it).
  • Do you prefer the moral viewpoint of consequentialism*, which focuses on the consequences of actions, or deontology,*  which focuses on the innate rightness or wrongness of the actions themselves?  Thanks for the helpful definitions! Consequentialism is like saying, “by any means necessary” and that seems immoral to me. Sometimes it’s necessary to try a variety of means to achieve a goal, but not every possible option is appropriate: such as impinging on the freedom of others or violence, or just outright killing people to get one’s way. In light of what Russia’s leader Putin has decided to do in Ukraine – make war, killing people with no provocation – to get his way, it’s a very extreme example of how “by any means necessary” is used. I think Putin’s philosophy is “by any means necessary.” Trump believed in this too – whatever he has to do to get his way, he will at least try to do.

    Deontology, on the other hand, is a study of the moral issues of duty and obligation. Although I will not study this field, I have my own moral code, which I think is a good one that many people share. But plenty of people don’t. That is, it is good to have rights, but with rights come responsibilities. During this pandemic especially, we have seen many examples of people who have forgotten (or don’t give a rat’s ass) about the responsibility they have to society as members of that society. Their rights end where the next person’s begins. Imposing mitigation measures and vaccination to stop the spread of the coronavirus are the scientifically based and moral thing to do. Is it really necessary to attack flight attendants because you don’t want to wear a mask on an airplane?? It’s uncomfortable and inconvenient, yes, but it won’t kill you. And people who have gotten all their vaccinations, but refuse to get the COVID vaccination, really irritate me. A medical issue that affects all of society has been politicized. And once again, members of society ought to comply with getting the vaccination if we ever want to get control over the disease. No one complained about getting vaccinated against smallpox or polio – although many anti-vaxxers today don’t want their kids to get vaccinated against childhood diseases such as measles and mumps. I think we live in a very selfish era.

/ˌkänsəˈkwen(t)SHəlizəm/
noun
PHILOSOPHY
noun: consequentialism
* the doctrine that the morality of an action is to be judged solely by its consequences.
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de·on·tol·o·gy

/ˌdēänˈtäləjē/

noun

PHILOSOPHY
* the study of the nature of duty and obligation.

GRATITUDE SECTION (As always optional)

Please feel free to share something good that happened to you in the past week.

Tuesday (Twosday), 2-22-22 (this date has sparked a lot of discussion – we will not have another date with all the same digits again in our lifetimes!) was my son’s birthday. I invited him over for dinner here and afterward we came back to my house so I could give him the birthday present I got him – a Kindle! He has started reading more (he’s never been a big reader, although he has many books) and he wanted to be able to download books onto a Kindle because he doesn’t have much room where he lives now. I don’t get to see him much, but every time I do, lately he’s been a delight to be with.

I’ve been keeping a gratitude journal this month and every day I’ve written something down (with some repetitions!). Here’s what I wrote for my son’s birthday (and read to him when he was here):
I am grateful to be a mother, mother to a son who despite his many difficulties is kind, intelligent, and handsome. I am grateful that his survival instinct got him out of his lonely isolation, fueled by drugs and alcohol, to a better place, Now he is surrounded by others, he works out problems by himself and even takes others’ advice! Happy birthday, Jayme!

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: Grammar, Genets, Sibs, & Alter Egos

Monday Melanie starts 2022 with the following Share Your World questions:

What frivolous, but annoying thing that people do be considered a sin (crime)?  
And how should violators be made to repent (be punished) for it?   

Confuse possessives with plurals by adding an apostrophe where it does not belong!!This is extremely common these days. Don’t they teach grammar in elementary school anymore or were these people asleep in class? It should be a crime, punishable by having to spend a whole day in a grammar class in which the attendees would write out many examples of both plurals and possessives, using all the rules for making plurals and possessives in the English language.

Cake’s is not a word, although the supermarket would have you think so! What belongs to the cake? Frosting? A message written on the top? No. They mean simply “more than one cake” which is a plural. The rule in this case is to add an “s” to the end of the word, NO APOSTROPHE! I have a dear friend that makes this mistake all the time and it drives me crazy!! But I don’t tell him about it because he would feel I am just lecturing him in my teacher mode! At the very least, he’d be embarrassed and since I only see his writing in emails, I’m letting it slide. There is one common exception to this rule which confuses a lot of people: its and it’s. “Its” is the possessive. (Its paws, its timing, etc.) “It’s” is a contraction of “it is.” If it doesn’t make sense to substitute “it is” where you’ve written “it’s” in a sentence, then correct it by removing the apostrophe.

Imagination IN and impracticality and logic aside, if you could pick one animal to have as an exotic pet based solely on how cute and adorable it is, what would it be?

A genet. I had never heard of this species until I went on a safari trip in Tanzania, and at one of the lodges, the owners had genets (they left food out for them so the genets would hang around) who would crawl out onto the rafters and stare at the people below. They look like cats, which is probably why I like them so much, but they are not cats. However, they are so CUTE!!

A genet looks down on diners at Ndutu Safari Lodge.

Do you have any siblings?  If so, where do you rank in birth order?  And do you think either of these facts contributed to the person you became?

I am the youngest of 5. I have three older sisters and one older brother. I’m sure it contributed to the person I became, because I tended to get away with stuff more often than the others. And I was the rebel, or “black sheep” of the family, so I think I made my mother rethink all of her child-rearing methods that she had developed raising four other children before me. Letting me excuse myself from dinner because “we eat so late” and I wanted to watch a TV show during that time. (Not sitting with the family during dinner was always verboten!) And letting the cat stay with me in bed instead of making him sleep in the garage. Things like that, I was able to get away with. Still, I fought a lot with my mother, but not my dad – he was always calm and hated conflict. Then my siblings, one by one, went away to school, and I ended up with only my brother, or alone, living at home with my parents. I think that had an effect also. I loved one of my sisters the most, and always wanted to stay up until she got home from school so I could see her right away. It was hard when she went away, because she served as a buffer between my brother and me. My brother teased me mercilessly, and I wanted that sister at home to comfort me, to distract me with songs or games.

We all have things that make us happy, but what makes you deliriously, giddily, tail wagging-ly happy?

I wish it were my grandchildren, but I don’t have any. It is my cat that makes me the most happy, although I wouldn’t say “giddy” – I love to watch her antics, to play with her, to hear her purr when I stroke her. Speaking of wagging, did you know that cats wag their tails? People associate wagging with dogs, but my cat does wag her tail by flipping it back and forth when she is content. It’s almost an unconscious gesture, because if I pet her when she is almost asleep, her tail starts flipping.

Who could resist a face like this? This is my adorable fur baby Hazel.

If you had an alter ego, who or what would it be?  Describe some fun or interesting things about them!

I don’t know if my alter ego would be male or female. I guess I would want her/him to have the skills and personality characteristics that are the opposite of mine. My alter ego would be confident, organized, and a risk-taker. (S)he would do things I would never do, such as ziplining, hang gliding, going on archaeological digs, and white water rafting. (S)he would be athletic and agile (unlike me) and be an excellent photographer. (S)he’d have a blog, far more exciting than mine, about traveling all over the world. At home, (s)he would have an awesome job: graphic designing, travel consultant, linguist or anthropologist, famous novelist or painter, architect designing eco-friendly buildings. (S)he would get involved in environmental projects that would really make a difference in preserving species from extinction or mitigating the effects of climate change.

I guess my “alter ego” would be damn near perfect!! 🙂 😀

What are some hopes or accomplishments you’d like to see happen in 2022?
My number one priority is for the federal government to really get serious about mitigating climate change, and that the population in general become more aware so they can pollute less and love our planet more! I have many other hopes, but I’m afraid they are just pipe dreams: Trump and his cronies get convicted for corruption, lying under oath, and deception of the public. Everyone gets vaccinated against Covid-19 so no new variants have a chance to take hold and wreak havoc. And a personal accomplishment would be for me to waste less time, so that I have time for all the things I “don’t have time” to do! And that the exciting trips I have booked for this year don’t get cancelled!!

CMMC: Pick a Topic from a Photo

Cee’s Midweek Madness Challenge this week is to find a subject in a photo she posted. Here it is:

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What follows are photos from my archives that fit the topic.

Boots

Boots for sale, Austin, Texas

Fall foliage

This is the only tree on campus that has fully changed color in mid-October!

Purple

Our fitness director poses beneath an arch of purple balloons to kick off Walk for Alzheimer’s at the Moorings.
(October is Alzheimer’s Awareness month.)

Mother/Mom (who is wearing purple!)

My mother (age 93) with her son-in-law Jim in his prairie garden

Bicycle

Mother and son enjoying a beautiful afternoon bike ride (Regensburg, Germany)

SYW: Life Challenges, ADHD, Alone Time, & Getting Into Heaven

Melanie has some interesting questions for this week’s Share Your World.

QUESTIONS

(Some just ‘off the cuff’ ones today)

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.

Kingdom Of Heaven Cartoons and Comics - funny pictures from CartoonStock

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.

A game at a Halloween party in a 2nd grade classroom (2010)

CFFC: White

Cee is doing a color series for her CFFC and this week’s color is white.

soap with bubbles
peonies
Swan
white lilies
Queen Anne’s lace macro
hydrangea macro
Flowering tree at Chicago Botanic Gardens
Waterfall – CBG
Snowy footprints
ceramics ready for decorating
leaves in frost
VW in Bethlehem
bride and groom
snakes
patio chairs in January