SYW: HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Melanie has holiday-related questions this week for Share Your World.

  1. 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!
  2. 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!
This house in Rolling Meadows, IL won the annual Daily Herald (local newspaper) holiday decoration contest in 2020.
Partial view of the same house
  • 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!!

SYW: Graveyards, Scary Books, Black Cats, and Multiple Dimensions

Here it is, the end of the week, and I am only now getting around to participating in Melanie’s Share Your World!

Here are her Halloween-themed questions:’

Name something you wouldn’t want to run into in a dark forest or in an abandoned building  (yeah it’s a retread.  But there are new participants to SYW too who probably never answered it)
Anyone with a gun, knife, or other weapon. On the other hand, I wouldn’t go into a dark forest or abandoned building by myself for fear of running into such a person.

Do you believe in multiple dimensions or worlds?
Yes. There are definitely other “worlds” (planets) outside our solar system – several have already been discovered. With the number of stars just in our galaxy alone, I think it is highly probable that life exists on many of these planets. As for multiple dimensions, some scientists are exploring the idea of multiple universes or life mimicking our own in some other dimension. Don’t we already have at least four dimensions? And I remember the rock band The 5th Dimension. That’s enough proof for me!

Would you ever go to a graveyard at night?
I don’t know why I would do that, although I do enjoy exploring graveyards & cemeteries in the daytime. There are so many stories of past lives to contemplate there.

Graveyard in France

What is the most frightening book you’ve ever read?
I tend not to read really scary books. I’ve seen a few very scary movies, but they only last a couple of hours while typically I take at least a week to read a book – and I like to read before I go to bed!! I once decided to join a Halloween book group which was reading Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill. I think I had read 20 pages or so and had to stop because it was too creepy and scary for me! I have never tried to participate in a scary book group again!

BONUS QUESTION (just for silliness’ sake!)

 If you could have a spooky Halloween pet (black cat, owl, bat, rat, wolf), which would you pick out of the five choices? No contest – a black cat. I love cats!

GRATITUDE SECTION (As always, optional)
What are you grateful for?  
My “tortie” cat, Hazel, who is mostly black!

If: It’s Hypothetical (SoCS)

If is a preposition at the beginning of a clause supposing something. In many European languages, “if” requires a verb in the subjunctive tense, because it is speculation about something that hasn’t happened (yet) or an alternative or hypothetical scenario. In English, the subjunctive would be thus: If I were...

But nowadays, most people say “If I was” so the subjunctive is falling into disuse. But it is very much alive in the Romance or Latin languages as well as many others. Learning what comes after “if” in Spanish means I have to think of how to conjugate the verb that follows. After a while, it becomes a habit: “Si quisieras” (if you want…) sounds right and I feel proud of myself for remembering to use the subjunctive! I was brought up in a highly literate family, my parents requiring us to speak properly – we would get corrected if, for example, we said “Me and Joe are going to the concert.” Commonplace nowadays, but not right. It sounds sloppy, ignorant. An “if” clause, however, would perhaps not sound so dissonant, because it has become acceptable not to use “were” as a subjunctive verb.

Also, most verbs in English don’t have a different form for an if clause: “If I wanted” is the same form of “want” as would be used for past tense in any context. I would wager that most people who read this may not even know what I am talking about! (Subjunctive? What is that?) If you study French, or Portuguese, or Italian, for more than one college semester, you will definitely have to learn it!

“If I were hoping to go on a cruise” is actually correct, but often now you will utter “If I was hoping to go on a cruise.” It still sounds dissonant to me, but it doesn’t bother me because I don’t use the subjunctive as often as I used to. Sometimes I forget all about it. I guess English speakers think IF is enough to signal a hypothetical event. Eventually it will be so rare that saying “if I were” will sound strange.

As for going on a cruise…I’m ready to go! No ifs, ands or buts about it!

(My attempt at stream of conscience writing this week for the SoCS challenge.)


SYW: On Art, Freedom, Money, & Gratitude

It’s a new week, and here are Melanie’s new (?) questions for Share Your World. I do feel as though I’ve answered some of these before, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing!

QUESTIONS

What are you most proud of in the last year?

The artwork I have done. I wish I could say that during the pandemic lock-down, I did artwork every day, but that would not be true. I meant to, but didn’t do it…

Even so, I have produced a number of drawings and watercolors during the past several months, as the rules loosened and we could form a small art group again. I even gave my niece one of my watercolors for her birthday! She had actually asked me to paint “something green and with a waterfall in it,” so that’s what I did.

As a result, I am accumulating a decent portfolio of my artwork. The pieces I am most proud of I will gladly display for viewing if an opportunity arises.

Besides these free-hand works, I did a lot of really nice coloring pages. Maybe that sounds silly, but there are coloring books for adults and I set myself high standards! I’ve had many of the books for several years, but didn’t do much with them until this past year. I used gel pens, colored pencils, watercolor pencils, or markers, depending on the picture.

If you see a puddle on the ground, do you walk around it or give in to the child within and splash about?

I walk around it, although right now the rain puddles are welcome because we really need rain! We need enough rain to make puddles impossible to avoid! We have been down 8 inches of rain this spring compared to last year, and normal would be 6 inches more than we’ve had. It finally rained last night and today the sprinklers are on!

Do you feel free? Why or why not?

I do benefit from the freedoms afforded to me as a U.S. citizen, good health, and enough money to live on and to travel. So I do consider myself to be “free.” However, we all have our burdens, which hamper our freedom because they tie us down in some way. It’s very liberating when a burden is lifted from my shoulders!

I also feel that the freedoms given to us in the Bill of Rights are not completely unlimited. My freedom ends where another person’s begins. It is not a “freedom” issue, for example, to disobey a mask mandate, just as one has to obey traffic laws, or suffer consequences. Part of living in a society that provides us with many benefits is being responsible to other people living in that society. They have the same freedoms the rest of us do. I don’t have a problem with accepting these responsibilities nor do I think I am not free as a result.

To be totally “free”, perhaps one would have to live alone with no one around to impose rules. I don’t want to live like that.

What life skills are rarely taught but are extremely useful?

Money management. My dad tried to teach us how to manage money, but he didn’t succeed very well with me – probably because I wasn’t listening! However, I did learn on my own how to make a budget and make sure I had enough income to pay my expenses. Even so, I wasted a lot of savings because I didn’t plan for the future.

I think there are a lot of young people who never had a class on money management. But what if they win the lottery or get hired to be on a major league sports team? Suddenly they have a lot of money, but not necessarily the skills to make sure they don’t lose it! Some lucky people take having money for granted, and they blow it all on get-richer schemes or lavish entertainment. Tales of riches-to-rags are as prevalent as tales of rags-to-riches! For most people, having enough money takes hard work and sacrifices.


GRATITUDE SECTION (always optional)

Please share some gratitude with everyone!   There are lots of reasons just now I think!

I am grateful for my legs. Although I have arthritis pain in my knees, my legs can still take me where I want to go.
I am grateful for my arms, which finally can be used to hug people again!
I am grateful for my hands, which are used to take photos or create nice pictures, and to write.
I am grateful for my eyes, which, although severely myopic, let me read books and see the world.
I am grateful for my brain, befuddled as it is. I have put it to great use in all the intellectual pursuits of my life. Since I am expressing gratitude, I will not list its shortcomings!
I am grateful for my ears, which can listen to music, such as one of my favorite songs performed by Cat Stevens…

SYW: A Depressed Dreamer Makes Someone Cry

Here are Melanie’s Share Your World Questions this week and my responses.

QUESTIONS

Would you rather be a super nice person and be depressed all your life, or be happy and a total *sshole?  (Credit goes to Cyranny for this question, aired on one of her “Cyranny’s Quickies” posts.)
I would like to rebel as some respondents have, and try to recombine these choices. But, having a loved one who suffers from depression and because I’m reading a book about the subject in order to understand it better (the cover of that book appears below), I do not see “depression” and “being nice” as a dichotomy. Yup, here I go, taking this questions perhaps WAY too seriously! But that’s what happens when I’m involved in something that is really a very complex question. So please forgive me for overthinking this seemingly binary choice!

I definitely would not want to be an a-hole in any condition and I doubt it would make me happy. Although I suppose there are plenty of happy people who are oblivious to the fact that they are cruel jerks – or they just don’t care. It wouldn’t be me, though. I have too strong a moral compass and always feel guilty when I treat someone badly.

That said, it is perfectly logical to be both nice and depressed. For one thing, very few people are depressed “all the time.” Depression comes and goes. When someone is in a deep depression, they often isolate themselves, cut themselves off from friends and family. People close to them see the warning signs and then may try to intervene.

When someone suffering from depression is NOT depressed, however, he or she seems like a completely different person! When they are not depressed, people who suffer from this mental illness are often quite nice people. Why, you may ask? It may seem like a contradiction, but actually it isn’t. Because there is such a contrast between the depressed and normal states, these people tend to appreciate life and other people more when they are feeling ‘normal’. They feel things acutely and tend to be very sensitive. They are often empathetic (that is, when they are not depressed). They know what it is like to suffer greatly, and know that during their normal state, they should enjoy life and accomplish as much as they can, because they also know that the darkness and isolation – the abyss – will return. The best time for them to seek help with their mental illness is when they are feeling good, because during depression, they can hardly get out of bed, much less do something constructive. When they are depressed and thus miss an event they looked forward to attending, they feel really bad about that, and know that most people at the event probably didn’t expect them to attend, but would have been pleasantly surprised if they had showed up. They live with a lot of guilt, but they usually take that out on themselves, not on other people. (It’s true that the suicide rates are much higher among depressives than non-depressives.) They do invariably hurt people, but usually unintentionally, so you can’t say they are fundamentally a-holes.

So if I had to choose, I would rather be nice and depressed. First of all, the depression doesn’t last forever, and nowadays there is plenty of help for depression, in the form of medications and therapy. New drugs are constantly being put on the market that improve on earlier ones, because medical understanding of depression constantly improves. If one medication doesn’t work, there are others, and different combinations, to try.

Believe me, I don’t desire to be depressed! I wouldn’t wish that on anybody! But as you have posed an either/or choice, this is my reasoning for choosing depression and being nice.

Have you ever made someone cry?
Of course – even though I’m nice and not an a-hole, I am not perfect! I’m sure I’ve made my son cry, but I can’t remember the last time that was.

Are you a dreamer or a go-getter?
I’m a dreamer and unfortunately, not a go-getter. It would be better to act on my dreams, and to some extent I have, but I am not one of those assertive, in-your-face types.

If you were in a band, what instrument would you play?
Probably the piano, because it’s the only instrument I have ever learned to play. But instruments don’t have to be external – I consider my voice an instrument, and so I would be the singer. I sing much better than I play the piano anyway.


GRATITUDE SECTION

Do you feel gratitude is necessary? 
Yes, or rather I feel it SHOULD be necessary. Everyone should feel gratitude about the good things in life, or the people who have touched them. It is necessary for ME, anyway, to feel gratitude. I try to stop and count my blessings or appreciate my life in some way every day.

I greatly appreciate the following song and am grateful that John Lennon gave us his talents until his tragic death in 1980.

Pharaohs’ Golden Parade

Last Saturday, April 3, 2021, Egypt celebrated in a big way the transferring of 22 mummies from the old Museum of Egyptian Antiquities to the new museum, The National Museum of Egyptian Civilization, located in Fustat (part of Old Cairo), which was the first capital of Islamic Egypt. Egypt’s president and other dignitaries were witness to the Pharaohs’ Golden Parade which included an extravaganza of music, dance, and light show to celebrate the event. Some of the performances were projected on a screen behind the orchestra and chorus, because they had been pre-recorded at three important sites of ancient Egypt: the plateau of Giza (which is the site of the three large, most famous pyramids, constructed in the 25th century BCE, as well as The Sphinx); Saqqara (site of the step pyramid of Djoser, a first dynasty pharaoh – a few centuries older than the pyramids of Giza); and Deir al-Bahri (site of the beautiful temple of female pharaoh Hatshepsut).

The event began at 6:30 pm local time in Tahrir Square, recently renovated for the event, including the erection of a broken obelisk built by King Ramses II in the middle of the square, surrounded by four ram-headed sphinxes brought from Karnak Temple in Luxor.

The mummies of pharaohs and a few well-known queens were transported in specially made vehicles meant to resemble the boats on which pharaohs (who were considered gods) traveled to the afterlife.

The entire event can be viewed on YouTube and it is quite spectacular. Watching it, I was struck by the look of pride on the faces of the Egyptian children, who started the program, and of the Egyptian president (once he took off his mask).

I am including here a video of The Hymn of Isis, sung by Egyptian soprano Amira Selim, backed by a choir and orchestra, which was part of the program. I like this particular video because the words being sung in the ancient Egyptian language are displayed, followed by their English translation. The words are taken from inscriptions on a temple to the goddess Isis, from the Greco-Roman period. More information can be found at Wikipedia: Pharaohs’ Golden Parade.

I was pleasantly surprised to hear of this event, because when we were in Egypt 2 years ago, we were told that the new museum probably would take another 10 years to complete! We drove past the building, which was pointed out to us. Now I have another reason to revisit Egypt!

Song Lyric Sunday

Jim Adams’ Song Lyric Sunday this week asks for submissions containing one of the words Blossom/Cherry/Flowers in honor of the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington D.C.

Here is an “oldie but goodie” by Canadian band Skylark from 1972: Wildflower. As I was listening to it, it became familiar to me in the refrain “She’s a lady/she’s a child” and “she’s a free and gentle flower.” I remember liking the song but didn’t remember much more than that part of the refrain. It’s one of those songs that gets in my head but is frustrating because I can’t remember the rest of the song!

She’s faced the hardest times you could imagine
And many times her eyes fought back the tears
And when her youthful world was about to fall in
Each time her slender shoulders bore the weight of all her fears
And a sorrow no one hears
Still rings in midnight silence in her ears

Let her cry, for she’s a lady (She’s a lady)
Let her dream, for she’s a child (Child)
Let the rain fall down upon her
She’s a free and gentle flower growing wild

And if by chance I should hold her (If by chance that I should hold her)
Let me hold her for a time (Let me hold her for a time)
But if allowed just one possession
I would pick her from the garden to be mine (I would pick her from the garden to be mine)

Mm-mm-mm, mm-mm
Be careful how you touch her, for she’ll awaken
And sleep’s the only freedom that she knows
And when you walk into her eyes, you won’t believe
The way she’s always payin’ for a debt she never owes
And a silent wind still blows
That only she can hear, and so she goes

Let her cry, for she’s a lady
Let her dream, for she’s a child
Let the rain fall down upon her
She’s a free and gentle flower growing wild

Let her cry, for she’s a lady (She’s a lady)
Let her dream, for she’s a child
Let the rain fall down upon her
She’s a free and gentle flower growing wild
She’s a flower growing wild
She’s free

History of the song Wildflower
Wildflower was written by Doug Edwards and David Richardson in 1972. Edwards was a member of the Canadian band Skylark, which first recorded the song. Since then, it has been covered many times and recently has been sampled in several hip hop songs. Edwards composed the song after reading Richard’s poem.

Capitol Records signed the band and Wildflower was included in their first album, named simply Skylark. Donny Gerrard was the vocalist for the song, which was also released as a single, but was not successful at first. It was played on a single radio station in Windsor, Ontario, CKLW. Capitol then decided to release it in neighboring Detroit as a regional release, where it became a huge soul hit before crossing over to the pop charts nationally. Wildflower spent 21 weeks on the Billboard pop chart and became very popular in Canada also, where it reached number 10 on the RPM Top Singles chart. Total sales of the single exceeded one million copies, so it was included on Skylark’s second album as well. In the end, it was the only Skylark song that made the pop charts in the United States. Its peak position in 1973 was 65 on Australia’s pop charts, 23 on the Dutch Top 40, 10 on Canada’s RPM Top Singles and number 1 on RPM Adult Contemporary chart.

Several R&B groups and singers have covered Wildflower, including Color Me Badd, Hank Crawford, Johnny Mathis, Lisa Fischer, Gary Morris, New Birth, The O’Jays and Silk. New Birth’s version added a more instrumentally complex introduction and other enhancements, and became a hit in its own right, making the R&B singles chart’s top 20 in 1974.

Source: WIkipedia, Wildflower (Skylark song)

Meaning of the song Wildflower
Wildflower is about the struggles and emotions of young womanhood. The central character in the song is a young woman who has survived very difficult times, much harder than a woman of her age should have to bear. “Wildflower” alludes to the person being able to grow through her struggle without help. She has been alone and can hardly hold back tears because no one knows or cares about her pain.

The solution is for her to have a chance to let out her emotions and pursue her dreams without any fear. “Letting the rain fall down upon her” means showering her with love and affection. The singer expresses how precious she is, and if she gives him the chance, he will try to make her his. Her emotions are delicate and the writer warns others to be careful how they treat her. She needs to be free for awhile.

The problems she has suffered were not caused by her; she is a loving and caring person who is affected by other people’s problems, and wants to help solve them.

The writer of the poem, David Richardson, says he was inspired by a nurse he was dating. He found her on the brink of tears one night, because two of her patients that she had become close to had died that day. He listened to her as she let out all her pain.

Ultimately, the song focuses on the strength with which this woman faces her problems. It also urges people to be sensitive of the needs of others and to give them a shoulder to lean on in hard times.

Source: “Wildflower” by Skylark