SYW: Haircuts, Flowers & Weird Stuff

Melanie’s thrown me for a loop this week! But I’ll take a stab at her weird questions in this week’s Share Your World! (Thanks for the challenge of thinking “outside the box!”)

QUESTIONS: 

What would be the worst “buy one get one free” sale of all time?
Mastectomies.

Have you ever gotten a really bad haircut?  Do share!
Not “really bad” but let me just say…radical. I’ve had my hair long (a little past my shoulders) since I moved to this senior community a year and a half ago, and I was sick of having to wear a ponytail whenever I exercised (or afterward) when I get all sweaty on my neck. I usually have my hair cut before going on a trip, but since that didn’t happen last year, my hair just got longer. So I finally decided I would get a short haircut. I’ve had them often enough before and usually am pleased with them while they last. I figured it would be my Easter haircut.

I couldn’t go to my usual salon, where I knew some of the stylists, because it closed about 6 months ago with a change in management. Since I had a gift card for that chain, I went to another one, closer to where I live now, but that I’ve never been to before. I thought I could show the stylist a picture of me with short hair from my Facebook photos, but when I looked for them, only a few showed up. I looked in my cellphone camera archives – nothing. So I showed her a photo of another friend of mine with short hair! (Later I realized that – duh – I had my purse in my lap, and always have paper & pens in there, and I draw pretty well, so I could have drawn it but I didn’t think of it then.)

I always have to take my glasses off during a haircut because they get in the way, and I didn’t think anything was amiss until I heard the buzz of a razor being used ON MY NECK! By then it was too late, and now I have hair shorter than I have ever had in my life that I can remember. At first, my head felt cold – the weather was still chilly in late March, and I had to go around wearing scarves over my head. And every time I look in the mirror, I look like a boy! Now it’s starting to grow out a little bit and I’m used to it, so I just smile and say “thank you” when people compliment me (which almost everyone has done).

Here are before and after pictures…

Me about a year ago, which is about how my hair was last month when I got it cut.
A selfie I took the day I got my haircut – this is the “nicer” of the two selfies I took, because I’m smiling.

The best thing about my haircut is now I can wear my earrings again!

Isn’t Disney Land and Disney World (and all the variants) just a people trap operated by a mouse?
Allegorically, yes. They are definitely people traps!

What if Batman got bitten by a vampire?   What would happen? 
The vampire would get Covid-19 due to the exchange of body fluids, since the virus originated in bats.

What do you want your final words to be if you could choose?
I’ve done everything I wanted to do in my life and I’m satisfied. I love you all!

GRATITUDE SECTION (as always optional)

Please feel free to share some gratitude! 
I’m grateful for spring flowers. These photos were all taken within the last two days.

SYW: On Parenting, Teaching, and Punning

Melanie always has some great questions on her weekly Share Your World!

SYW Artic Ice

QUESTIONS:

What should you get rid off, that would make your new year better, and why? (Don’t say Covid-19, we all want to get rid of the dang virus.)   
Stress. I am a worrier by nature, but I wish I didn’t have things in my life that cause me a lot of stress. I should meditate but I don’t take the time. I don’t mean the virus, which actually isn’t a source of stress for me right now. I’m used to it. The most stress I experience is dealing with my son. He has a lot of problems due to mental illness (depression, anxiety, extremely low self-esteem) which has led him to “self medicate” – i.e. getting drunk and taking drugs. Right now, he is struggling to stay sober. He has trouble holding jobs because it is hard for him to get up to go to work, and when he’s depressed, he sleeps a lot and misses work altogether. He has applied for disability but it will take years for him to get it.

I try to stay upbeat and encourage him. Lately there’s been reason for hope but he could fall back into depression any time triggered by the smallest things. The other day he got angry at the cashier at 7/11, who was rude to him. This is something we all encounter and just have to deal with it. But he gets so upset that he can’t calm down right away. Yes, he has learned techniques in rehab to help him calm down, but he forgets about them at the moment he’s becoming angry and anxious.

I just want to have my retired life to enjoy with my husband. I love my son, but he is always a source of stress.

 What’s the most daring thing you’ve ever done?
Zip-lining in Costa Rica. I’ve written about this before. So I will say, changing careers. When I was in my 40s, I was bored with my job and wanted to do something more meaningful, to contribute to society. I decided to go into teaching. I didn’t think it through well enough, but on the other hand, I didn’t really know what the state of public education was by the late 1990s. Talk about stress!! I struggled because I wasn’t great with classroom management, but I had other strengths, such as being bilingual, being enthusiastic and intelligent, and having compassion. I got my first teaching job when I was 50!

The main problem is that after I started teaching, I was diagnosed with ADHD. I’ve always had it, but never knew what it was, until I was having my son diagnosed and realized that I had all the characteristics of ADHD. Symptoms are exacerbated as people get older and due to a heart condition, I cannot take stimulants, which are the most successful medications for ADHD. People with ADHD tend to get distracted easily, have difficulty multitasking, staying focused and remembering all the things a teacher needs to remember throughout the day. I wrote detailed lesson plans, very well thought out, and put all kinds of helpful hints and reminders to myself in them, but when I was in the classroom, I would sometimes lose my lesson plans or forget to consult with them. A major characteristic of ADHD is forgetfulness.

At the same time, administrators were putting a lot of pressure on teachers because of President Bush’s No Child Left Behind policies. Success or failure were determined by standardized tests; schools that were not performing well lost their funding (which makes no sense – those are the schools that need the funding the most). So principals were hyper critical of every little thing and I had the bad luck to have really terrible principals. Not all the time – my most successful years I had wonderful principals, but these were not the majority. When you end up with a resume that has a lot of jobs listed, that is a red flag for administrators when they are hiring. At the end of my career, I could no longer get teaching jobs, so I worked as a substitute for awhile and then took a low-paying job as a program assistant. I found that financially I was able to retire when I was 63. I decided to retire because the pay was so low, it was hardly worth it. I had been working mainly so that I would have health insurance. So my plan was to take the school district’s COBRA insurance for 18 months, then get insurance through the ACA until I turned 65 and could get Medicare.

I confess that I do not miss teaching at all. I don’t miss the kids, but I do remember them fondly and am proud of my accomplishments and successes.

Does your family have a “motto” – spoken or unspoken?
Not really – but if we did, it would be something like “a pun for every occasion.” There is never an inappropriate time to use a pun! I didn’t used to be a punster, but my husband is notorious for his bad puns, and it has rubbed off on me. I grew up in a family with a particular sense of humor. My father always loved puns and jokes.

On a scale of 1-10 how funny would you say you are?  (this does not mean ‘smell’ or looks; because this is a judgment free blog!) 
If 0 is not funny at all and 10 is the funniest, my husband informs me that I am a 7. That is pretty good – I would give myself a 5! Sometimes I am too serious and need to lighten up. On the other hand, I see humor in little things or situations and as I said above, I’m learning to be a punster!

GRATITUDE SECTION

Tell everyone something that you found personally lifted your spirits!  
I know I said this last week, but this time I have a photo – orchids blooming in winter!

Truthful Tuesday: Hobbies & Obsessions

Truthful Tuesday

Welcome to another edition of PCGuyIV’s Truthful Tuesday! Here is the question for this week:
With the exception of blogging (assuming it’s a hobby and not your profession), do you have any unique hobbies or pastimes?

UNIQUE?? Hmmm….I don’t think any of my hobbies are particularly unique. I like to write, draw, blog, read, garden…these are not exactly unique.

I thought of the collections I have. I do have several collections: cats (images, figurines, etc. – I always try to buy a cat sculpture when I travel), Mexican alebrijes (little figurines of animals, carved out of wood and intricately painted), creches (Nativity scenes – I have about eight of them so far, from different cultures), photo albums (I used to make them by hand, now I do it on Shutterfly – and for what? They take up room and when I die, no one will want them and they’ll get thrown away – but this year I love them because we can’t travel due to the coronavirus and it’s nice to look at the albums I worked so hard on when it’s cold and dreary – like today – I can “travel” back in time), “refrigerator” magnets (which are not on my refrigerator, they’re on my file cabinets – I buy magnets everywhere I travel), and it looks like I will soon have a collection of unique face masks!

A collection of some of my animal figurines

I decided to ask my husband, who always thinks of things I never come up with. He said, “You’ve become an ancient Egyptophile” which is true! We went to Egypt two years ago and since then I’ve developed an obsession with ancient Egypt. I made two photo albums on Shutterfly (because I had too many photos I wanted to include for only one), I have researched historical fiction about ancient Egypt and bought a lot of books from Amazon, as cheaply as possible, because most are no longer available at libraries. Libraries tend to cull books that were written over twenty years ago and not in demand any longer, unless they are classics. Apparently ancient Egypt was a fad in the 1990s, because nearly all the books I’ve gotten were written at that time, and most of the authors haven’t written anything new. (I vaguely remember my mother getting all excited about “King Tut” because items found in the tomb of Tutankhamun were in a traveling exhibit at museums around the world – perhaps that’s when it was.)

One of the thrones found in Tutankhamun’s tomb

I also subscribe to the online Ancient History Encyclopedia, where I look up things I want more background about, and I’ve even made lists of the pharaohs, women rulers in ancient Egypt, and timelines. Actually, I have recently become interested in ancient history in general, which I never studied in high school or college. The Egyptian civilization is the oldest of all of those long gone civilizations, and it lasted three thousand years, more than any other, I think. It is amazing that we have been able to learn so much about them. They left so many writings, monuments that contain writing, tombs that have been preserved for centuries. They were a proud, egocentric people, and did want to leave behind their life histories for posterity. We know quite a bit about their customs and culture, but of course there are many gaps and lots of speculation. Every so often, some archaeologist uncovers something new that sheds light on a missing piece. Tutankhamen, for example, was not an important or long-lived pharaoh. His reign started when he was 10 and he died at 19. He is so well-known to us because his was one of the very few tombs that was found intact due to its location underneath another tomb. There used to be a lot of speculation that “the boy king” was murdered, but in the 2000s, they did a DNA test on his mummy and found that he died of malaria. At least, that’s what our Egyptologist guide told us.

Statues of female pharaoh, Hatshepsut, at her mortuary temple. She ruled for 20 years, but preferred to be depicted as a man in her statuary.

I wonder if two millennia from now, what will be left over of our civilization that people in the future will be interested in? Everything nowadays is so fleeting, temporary – much of what we’ve written and done will be lost; we don’t build many monuments these days, and everything we buy is not made to last. If we don’t destroy the planet before then, perhaps someone in that far distant future will find elements of our cultures that they will try to piece together.

We have an expression when we want to say something is not a strict rule: “It’s not written in stone.” That describes our attitude today, I think! The ancients, however, DID write in stone! We have sent samples of our culture out into space for extraterrestrials to find. But who will find us? And will they want to?

I realize I’ve strayed far from the question, but it’s more of a justification for this obsessive “hobby.” I don’t know how long it will last, but it’s definitely Covid-19 driven! Lots of time to read and immerse myself in the lives of people – real and fictional – who lived along the Nile River several millennia ago! It makes the time we are stuck at home a lot more interesting.

Truthful Tuesday: Work to Live or Live to Work?

I have strong feelings about this week’s topic for Truthful Tuesday by PCGuyIV, so I have a lot to say to answer these questions, based on my own experience!

The old adage says, “If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.” Today’s questions stem from this bromide. Don’t worry if you aren’t currently working. The questions can easily be answered, and are likely better answered from a reflective standpoint.

  • Do you now or have you ever been employed doing what you love?
    The first 20 years of my working life, I worked in clerical positions, primarily in export shipping and freight forwarding. I didn’t love these jobs, but some were better than others. I enjoyed being able to use my skills, such as being able to use one of the two foreign languages I speak, and there were some other things I enjoyed, but usually I was somewhat bored and I felt I wasn’t really contributing anything meaningful to myself or society. That’s why I decided to change careers and become a teacher.

    I would say that I actually loved my job for about three years out of my entire working career. These lovely three years occurred primarily when I was teaching and I had the ideal working environment: my principal liked and supported me, I got along with co-workers and they respected my opinions, I was working with small groups of students that came to my classroom, and I was doing what I best at. Sometimes I would be at school preparing for the day, and as I wrote on the whiteboard the schedule for the day, I would have a feeling of exhilaration: there I was, writing the date in Spanish and English, something simple like that, because I was good at what I did and I loved using Spanish in my job as well as teaching English to Spanish speakers. This feeling of exhilaration would sometimes wash over me when I was sitting at a table working with three or four kids on reading. I felt like I was really making a difference, I was doing something to help those kids by teaching them to read! When I saw a child make progress in an area difficult to him or her, teaching was the best job in the world!

    During my three best years, I did projects with my students that were really enjoyable, and as long as I taught the curriculum and my lesson plans fit the standards, I could expand on it as I wished. I was great help and a good resource for the classroom teachers that my students were in. The kids felt comfortable with me because most of their day was spent in a classroom with native English speakers and that could be intimidating, even when they were competent in spoken, non-academic English. Although I did encourage them to do their work in the language of instruction, with me it was okay if they preferred writing in Spanish at first instead of English. I also tried to make connections between the two languages and we drew on their native culture whenever possible. I told all my students to be proud to be bilingual and not to give up their native language even if their academic work was mostly in English. I told them that being bilingual would help them get a better job in the future. (If I had not been what is considered bilingual, I doubt I would have ever gotten a teaching position in a public school system.) It was clear that I loved and respected their culture, and knew something about it.

    These feelings of contentment sometimes happened outside of those three years in which I was truly happy, but three years out of 12+ years of teaching is only 25% of the time – the teaching profession is brutal these days! The other years either I had a principal that didn’t support me or didn’t care, I had either too much to manage or too little control over what I did, and/or I felt that I wasn’t appreciated or respected by the administration or my colleagues. I was only a mediocre classroom teacher – there were too many things pulling on me, I had to keep track of more tasks and more kids than I could manage well. With small groups, especially when they came to me in my classroom that was set up for their needs and mine, I was a better teacher and happier too.

    But I have to say, when I was able to leave the profession and retire, I was very relieved and grateful. I hardly ever miss teaching.
  • Do you agree with this saying (If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life) or is it a bunch of poppycock, and why?
    Doing what you love is still work. Even those three ideal teaching years, I worked very hard – late nights planning and grading papers, early mornings preparing for the day, and I only allowed myself one day on the weekend to completely get away from my work. Ask the health care workers on the front line taking care of Covid-19 patients if they don’t consider what they are doing as work! Most people are not lucky enough to spend their working life doing what they love, and even when they do, it’s still a lot of responsibility. You can’t just take the day off because you want to. Sometimes you will be doing that part of your job that you love, when something you don’t enjoy so much imposes itself on you and you have to take care of it because that’s part of your job too. I don’t believe there is anyone on Earth who loves every minute of every day of their work – not even workaholics!

    In an ideal world, we would all work less hours, have more leisure time, and the work we did would be fulfilling and a contribution to society. We would be respected for our labors. However, living in a country which values work so much that there isn’t even a law requiring employers to give their workers vacation time, this adage has even less chance of ever becoming reality!
Teachers 2' Art Print - Kimberly Allen | Art.com | Teacher appreciation  quotes, Teacher quotes inspirational, Teacher appreciation week quotes

FDDA: I Scream…

Fandango has a special challenge for the month of August called Fandango’s Dog Days of August. Every day this month, he posts a theme to get our creative juices flowing! Today’s topic is “favorite food.” I know I’ve written about this before, but I don’t think I’ve had the opportunity to really extrapolate about my favorite food, which is…

ice cream!

My favorite food is ice cream. It’s part of why summer is my favorite season. I actually have more than one favorite food – I could name a favorite in each food category but right now I’m staying with ice cream.

This ice cream dessert is called “schaum torte” – the ice cream sits on a meringue, and there’s both hot chocolate sauce and strawberries to put on top.

My favorite flavor of ice cream is peppermint. The problem (if you can call it that!) is that peppermint is often associated with Christmas, so it’s sometimes hard to find peppermint ice cream in the summer. I sometimes eat ice cream in the winter, but not very often.  Ideally, the peppermint ice cream should have hot fudge sauce on top. Skip the cherry and whipped cream, just hot fudge sauce please!  And then, if available, I like to put some kind of embellishment on top, such as sprinkles, m&m’s, little bits of brownie – in fact, if the ice cream is ON TOP of a brownie, that’s even better! Because next to ice cream, brownies are my favorite dessert! 

We used to have a restaurant in our area, called Baker’s Square, that specialized in pie.

It's been a slice: Patrons bid farewell to La Grange Bakers Square ...

But on their menu, they had brownie with ice cream on top listed in their dessert menu.  So I would ask for that – I didn’t really expect peppermint ice cream, vanilla was okay – and would ask for fudge sauce on top if possible.  When the waitress brought it to the table, it was really yummy because the brownie was WARM, as if it had just come out of the oven! Too bad they closed their restaurants around here, because nowhere else serves brownie with ice cream on top quite the way they did.

But I digress…back to ice cream!  While I do prefer peppermint, I like a lot of other flavors, too – chocolate, coffee, fudge swirl, mint with chocolate chips, you name it. One thing I do NOT like in ice cream is peanuts or peanut butter! I hate peanuts and I don’t like peanut butter used as a sweet – save it for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches!

I also find sorbet very refreshing in the summer, as well as frozen yogurt. These are usually considered “healthier” options – less calories, anyway – than regular ice cream. Anyway, I lump all three together as “ice cream” when referring to my favorite food.

Ralphs - Halo Top Mint Chocolate Chip Light Ice Cream, 1 pt
This entire pint is only 330 calories!

There is a relatively new brand of ice cream called Halo Top, which is sold in pints with the number of calories shown on the side in large numerals. So if it says “360” (but some are lower than that), that’s 360 calories for the entire pint! Of course, I never eat it all at once so I know the calories aren’t too high. Admittedly, Halo Top is not as good as Ben & Jerry’s, but that’s something I have sometimes been willing to sacrifice in order to “have my ice cream and eat it too!”

Here at our senior community, when we were eating in the dining room, ice cream was always one of the dessert options, and they often had several flavors. When the waiter would come by to tell us about the desserts, all conversation ceased as we listened to the ice cream flavor choices! Occasionally they would have one of two very popular options – Roadrunner Raspberry or Peppermint Bark Moose Tracks (the moose tracks being chunks of chocolate mixed in). I don’t know how prevalent this last flavor would be in the summer – we moved here in the middle of August last year, so my 6 months of eating in the dining room (until the pandemic hit and we had to lock down) hasn’t been enough to know if peppermint bark moose tracks is strictly a winter flavor. Anyway, ice cream is rarely a choice of dessert now that our food is being delivered to our house, and when it is offered, it’s always vanilla.

Raspberry Roadrunner (it’s made by Hershey’s) is also a delicious flavor and I wish I had real hot fudge sauce to put on it. Sometimes it’s available for purchase at our Mini Mart, which is still open on weekdays.

The best hot fudge sauce was made at a place that had a restaurant, bar, sweet shop and boat dock, called Bosacki’s, in Minocqua, Wisconsin. 

Bosacki\'s Boat house, Minocqua Wi, Dining Boat Rentals

We had a cottage about five miles from there and I worked there one summer (in the kitchen), so their fudge and hot fudge sauce was a real treat – they would give you the ice cream in a bowl and serve it with a tiny pitcher of freshly-made hot fudge sauce! It was their “secret recipe” – also used in making their delicious fudge – so when they went out of business, that flavor experience was lost to me forever! However, one of the Bosacki siblings, Cathy, opened her own sweet shop where she sold the famous fudge, as well as jars of fudge sauce, but since we sold our cottage, I never go up there anymore.

But again, back to ice cream! Ice cream is a wonderful treat to have when we are traveling, because other countries have different flavors and after an exhausting day of sightseeing, it’s just the thing to recharge my energy!

Ice cream flavors at a shop in Mont St-Michel, France

In 2010, Dale and I went to Spain for a month under a study abroad program run by a local community college. We spent the mornings in Spanish classes and in the afternoon, we either had group sightseeing trips, or we explored on our own. We stayed at a dorm near downtown Madrid, so we walked everywhere. It didn’t seem like a long walk to the Prado and Reina Sofia art museums, for example, and en route we would cross plazas surrounded by colonial buildings and traverse narrow alleys, so there was always something to see. Being summer, the temperature in Madrid was always hot so people didn’t go out in the middle of the day – that’s siesta time, so we usually would wait until mid afternoon to go exploring.  To this day, if I were to go to Madrid, I would know exactly how to find the gelato place on the Gran Via! After walking around for hours, we’d be on our way back to the dorm and at some point I would be so exhausted, I couldn’t go a step further…and what do you know, that point was at the gelatería! After a soothing, cool ice cream sundae sitting outside under an umbrella, my energy would return and I could make it back home! (By the way, Madrid also has some excellent chocolaterías, where you get hot liquid chocolate to dip churros in, which are kind of like an elongated doughnut.)

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream! That’s what we used to say as kids in my family, and in late spring, we would begin hearing the tinkling of the ice cream truck as it meandered the residential streets of our neighborhood. Occasionally Mom or Dad would give us a quarter or fifty cents to buy something from the ice cream truck – what a treat! That incessant tinkling melody always takes me back to summertime in Janesville, Wisconsin. This is the one we always heard then:

But when I lived in Des Plaines, we would usually hear this one:

Here’s another saying: Whenever we were begging for a favor, we’d embellish our “please:”

Pretty please?
Pretty please with sugar on top?  
Which I changed to –
Pretty please with ice cream on top?
Pretty please with ice cream and chocolate sauce on top?
Pretty please with a hot fudge sundae covered with sprinkles and whipped cream?
Pretty please with a hot fudge sundae with sprinkles, whipped cream, and a cherry?
…and so on.

Well, I’d better end this because I just remembered that I have a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Boom chocalatta! cookie core ice cream in the freezer! *Smack!* OHHHH, so good!