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!”)
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…
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.
Frank has some great questions this week for Truthful Tuesday about one of my favorite subjects: books and reading!!
Do you consider yourself an avid reader? Not “avid” but enthusiastic, for sure! (Avid is a woman in one of my book groups who checks out ten books a week and finishes them all! I actually have a life outside reading!) I grew up being encouraged to read, and I read a lot of the books kids, particularly girls, read in those days. But I wasn’t a great reader because it took me a long time to read most books. I avoided classes and majors that required a lot of reading, to my detriment. I now know why: I have ADHD, and get distracted, so if I’m not totally engaged, I will forget what I’ve read by the time I get to the end of a page or am thinking about something else and not what is on the page.
When I was in my early 30s, I resolved to become a better reader, and set a goal for myself of 12 books per year – doable, only one per month, but more than I had been reading. One of the authors that inspired me to read more was Jane Austen, and I read all of her books as well as some “spin-offs” and “fan fiction.” My resolve to read 12 books a year put me on track to read more and regularly. Especially after I retired, I’ve been reading more and more. Now I have an account on Goodreads, which has a reading challenge every year. I set my own goal (which is now 40 books a year) and am conscientious about achieving it! I’m also in two book groups, so I read different types of books.
What was the last book you read all the way through, and how long did it take you? Unmarriageable, by Soniah Kamal, picked by a book group I participate in. This book is Pride & Prejudice updated to Pakistan in 2000-2001. Being a Jane Austen fan, I found the story highly entertaining. It took me 4-5 days to read it. If I really love a book, I will spend hours reading, neglecting my blog for days!
Are there any books that, try as you might, you just haven’t been able to bully your way through? I’ve been trying to get through a book of speeches by Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I read a page or two, then go back to another book I’m reading (I often read more than one book at a time) that I enjoy more. I’ve been on page 204 for weeks. I want to finish it, but I don’t know when and if I will.
Have you gotten vaccinated for COVID-19 yet? If not, are you planning to? If you have, or are planning to, how do you think your life will change afterwards? If you’re not planning to get vaccinated, why not?
Yes, I got both doses of the Pfizer vaccine in February. I was lucky because of where I live. Seniors had priority and many senior living communities contracted with one pharmacy or another to have their staff and residents vaccinated. That’s what happened here. We were strongly encouraged to get the vaccine, and 97% of our residents and 77% of our staff got it.
I had no reaction after the first dose. After the second dose, the next day I felt a general malaise. No particular symptom, except headache, but just sort of achy and yucky all day. This was easily alleviated with a nap and Tylenol for my headache. At first I thought it was because I had exercised heavily after the vaccine when I found the fitness center nearly empty and had the machines to myself as well as time. So, I expected my legs to feel achy and weak, but it was more likely a reaction to the vaccine.
I think everyone should get vaccinated unless one has medical counterindications. In my opinion, the fear and distrust of the vaccine is silly. We’ve watched our political VIPs and celebrities get vaccinated on TV to encourage people, but unfortunately, everything about Covid has been politicized in the U.S., so there is a swath of people who refuse to get vaccinated, wear masks, etc. A lot of people, close to a majority here, don’t trust the government period. It doesn’t help that over 20 states have either never had a Covid mitigation strategy and have kept their economy going full speed, in spite of spikes and super-spreaders of the disease, or just arbitrarily decided last week to lift all mitigation because their governors have declared Covid to be “over.” No, it is not! Whatever people say about Illinois, I am glad we live here because our governor has been very sensible and cautious in his approach to controlling the pandemic. But I get angry that other states have the right to do nothing and their citizens can travel to other states and infect other people. At this rate, we’ll never beat the pandemic!
However, the good news is that, since the last week in January, a much more serious and effective national strategy has been implemented and we are now AHEAD of the goals set by the Biden administration in terms of number of people vaccinated. In fact, in a total reversal from last year, we are performing ahead of other nations in vaccinating our population! Yesterday, it was announced that since our supply of the various vaccines will exceed our population’s needs, we are going to share some of it with other countries, such as Canada and Mexico. We are on track to have every adult fully vaccinated by the end of May. Those who don’t get the vaccine will still benefit from “herd immunity.”
So more sensible states are now starting to cautiously “open.” There are many variants of the virus, some more virulent than others, which are circulating around the world, so we can’t celebrate totally yet. School districts, with restrictions in place in classrooms, are starting to have students go back to school in person. Teachers and other school personnel were given preference for the vaccine. Restaurants are opening, as well as other venues, with reduced sized clientele.
Our daughter and son-in-law, who are in their 30s/40s, have appointments for the Johnson & Johnson single dose vaccine next week, and so in a few weeks we’ll be able to visit each other again. Our senior community is slowly bringing more in-person activities back: our dining room will open, by reservation only, next week. A Great Decisions group will be reconvening in April. An art workshop is now being allowed, and more people (15-20 instead of 5-10) are being allowed in the activities that are already meeting. However, in spite of our high percentage of vaccination, we are still required to wear masks and stay socially distanced. A lot of people, including us, don’t wear masks outside on campus, unless we stop to talk to others we encounter. In public we do, though.
As for life after Covid, I am not worried. My husband and I are going to take a road trip in the fall regardless of what the status of the disease is (although we will avoid states with high infection rates). Also, we plan to take some 4-day trips in the summer to visit relatives in the Midwest.
At the beginning of 2022, we are planning a delayed cruise to the Amazon. Right now that area is a hotspot of infection, but I feel confident that this will improve by the end of the year. If not, then we’ll postpone again. Later in 2022, we still plan to go to Australia & New Zealand, and I don’t anticipate any problems by then. I guess we have to stop postponing renewing our passports!
I think life will change post-pandemic in society in general in several ways. Long term problems have taken on greater urgency due to the pandemic, or the pandemic has showed us that we cannot ignore them anymore. I think President Biden, a moderate, has moved a little leftward, due to the urgency of problems exacerbated by both the pandemic and the 4 years of Trump, such as climate change, poverty, access to affordable health care, racial inequity, and hate crimes. Currently his administration is laser-focused on overcoming the pandemic and getting needed funds to people and institutions that need it. Anyway, I believe we will see more movement on solutions to problems that have long festered.
I think – or hope – also that people will emerge from this crisis with a greater appreciation for things that they have taken for granted: family, education, clean air, nature, and simple things like having lunch with friends or hugging our kids.
I personally am looking forward to a couple of live art events, “Immersive Van Gogh” in May and a Frida Kahlo exhibit at a regional community college in June. My husband and I are members of an organization that provides ushers to plays and concerts, and I’d like to get back to that, but I don’t know how long it will be before theatre and concert venues go back to normal.
Remember, WEARING MASKS WORKS! It’s the best way to avoid infection.
If you could throw any kind of party, what would it be for? (Covid considerations are suspended for this question) A carnaval party – I’ve always wanted to go to one of those (or throw one, in this case). Carnaval takes place at the beginning of Lent and ends on Ash Wednesday. It’s sort of like Mardi Gras in New Orleans, but in Brazil it lasts for four days during which people party all night and sleep during the day. There are parties and samba parades, the bars are full, and there is lots of drinking and merry-making. Carnaval music is heard everywhere with its strong percussion beat and familiar tunes. Even though I’m not young enough to have the stamina to dance all night, I’d dance as much as I could, then I’d watch a show of professional samba dancers (who would be hired for the occasion), while enjoying the music and sipping caipirinhas.* Everyone would have a good time, because Brazilian parties are the best!!
Is a picture worth a thousand words? Elaborate. Words can evoke pictures in the mind of the reader if the writer is good enough. For me, pictures and words are two separate things, but which belong together. In a blog, especially, a writer should include at least one picture. That is what people are used to nowadays, in this era of social media and non-stop visuals – selfies, memes, cute puppies or kittens, whatever. Sometimes it’s easier to post a photo, like I did above, to explain a concept instead of trying to describe it. If I just wrote “carnaval dancers” and then went on to describe what I meant in detail, most people would not read it! My blog is not a novel. So I either post my own photos, or find one on Google, as I did above, showing the colorful costumes and happiness that shows in the photo. They look like they’re having a good time and for sure, their audience appreciates their performance!! All it needs now is video and sound, but I’m not going to go that route this time.
Where IS Waldo? (Waldo, for those unfamiliar with him, is a cartoon character featured in many “find Waldo” images and puzzles) You can see him in a book You can see him by a brook You might see him in a tree Or on a sailing ship at sea! You may see him in a park You may see him on an ark Or maybe he’ll be right next to you On your next trip to the zoo. You can see him in the air You can see him anywhere!
What’s the best part of waking up? My morning routine: tea and a banana while reading in a comfy chair in front of the fireplace (in cold weather) or enjoying the morning air on the porch, also with tea, banana, and book. ( I can’t drink any kind of coffee anymore and would never desire Folgers in my mug!)
Would you rather be covered in fur or covered in scales? (Wee disclaimer. I’m certainly not advocating the slaughter of creatures and the use of their skins for clothing or accessories. No! This question is a ‘grow your own’ type question…if you had an option of your own skin being made of fur OR scales, which would you choose?) Definitely fur, so that people would pet me and cuddle with me. Who wants to cuddle with a snake or a fish?? Also, because of where I live, I am more in need of fur to keep me warm. Scaly animals have trouble surviving our winter climate!
*caipirinha – a Brazilian drink made with cachaca (sugar cane based alcoholic beverage), lime, ice, and sugar
GRATITUDE SECTION (Always optional)
Feel free to share your gratitude for our world! I’m grateful for the GOOD NEWS about beating Covid-19! The American Rescue Plan has been passed, and soon Pres. Biden will sign it – this is a comprehensive bill, the biggest legislation to benefit ordinary Americans since the ACA. On the vaccination front, today in the U.S., almost 2.9 million people were vaccinated, way more than the president’s goal of 1 million per day. Cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are down. Sure, there is bad news too but I am very grateful for the good news, and the fact that soon we will be able to get together with small groups and families without having to wear masks, etc. My husband and I have had both doses of the Pfizer vaccine and the majority of my friends have either been vaccinated or have appointments. In Des Plaines, a mass vaccination site was opened in the former K Mart building – they can vaccinate 3,500 people per day! And in Chicago, the United Center is being used to vaccinate up to 6,000 people per day.
It’s question week for me, and every week I look forward to Melanie’s Share Your World. Following are her questions for this week.
Is every piece of truth worth telling? (credit to the magnificent Cyranny for this one) No, not at all. Sometimes the truth is brutal. Telling someone they are fat, for example. It may be the truth but you don’t say it. Instead, you find a way to compliment that person with another (hopefully) true opinion, such as “I love your outfit!” or “That shirt looks great on you!” Can an opinion be the truth? It is if it is your true opinion! 😉
Important truths, however, must be told, brutal or not. Such as the fact that Joe Biden won the U.S. election for president. Such as Trump won’t admit defeat due to his pathological narcissism, which is why he continues to maintain that he won, and that makes him dangerous. Such as OANN and Fox have been lying to you. Who and how these truths ought to be told is another matter. If you want people to believe you are telling the truth, you must be believable to them. A left-leaning activist should not be the one to address the right-wing about what is the truth and what is not. It’s not just politics – people tend to believe what fits their own world view; this has been shown through study after study. Why do you gravitate to certain news sources rather than others that are also readily available? How do you know who is telling the truth? What if it is all a huge conspiracy? There are people who tend to believe conspiracies, but I am not one of them. And personally, although it’s interesting, I don’t really care why Oswald killed Kennedy. The fact that he did it is what determined the future.
I try to be objective when hearing people who claim to be truth-tellers, like the media I choose to watch or read (because those sources fit my world view, I guess – but I think it is more than that). Some things just don’t ring true. Giant conspiracies that would involve coordination between thousands of people across the globe just are not believable. The view of one scientist who is a friend of your brother’s wife’s cousin that climate change isn’t happening doesn’t hold up to the vast majority of scientists in the world who maintain that it is and we must do something about it. Take a moment before forwarding that Facebook post to think, does this sound like it’s true? There are ways of investigating what is the truth and what is not, and the process of learning this should begin in middle school when kids begin to do a lot of Internet surfing and research. Lies are disseminated when social media users feel drawn to a particular concept or meme, and then forward it to others they know who basically think the same way they do. We are all guilty of this, without exception, I think. But I have always had a streak of skepticism in me, and if it sounds too bizarre or ridiculous to be true, I check the source and then fact-check the information, if it’s important enough to me.
Big truths should and must be told, but small ones are up to the teller. Will telling the truth in this case just hurt somebody’s feelings or will it make a difference in their decision-making? If the former, don’t tell it; if the latter, one probably should. Withholding the truth should never be an excuse, only a reason.
Whom do you miss more Freddy Mercury or Prince? (if you don’t know who those people are, just skip this question. It’s cool). I know who both of them are, but Freddie Mercury is not dead. He lives on in the body of one of my grandcats, an orange Maine coon mix who is very frisky, naughty, and loveable!
If you could only email or text people for the rest of your life (no other form of communication), which would you chose? Email might be more practical, but it is also slow and easy to miss in the slew of emails I get on a daily basis and don’t have time to read. I love texting and prefer it even to speaking on the phone.
Would you prefer to work the midnight shift at a really creepy out of the way motel OR work alone for eternity? Thank God I don’t have to make that choice!
Bonus question because yes, these are a weird bunch (no worries – I did Bushboy’s yesterday!) this week: What’s one secret you’re still keeping from your immediate family? (no details required. You could say something like “The lost weekend in 1982”. You can also answer “Why I NEVER keep secrets from my nearest and dearest!”). That I never really loved my first husband. At least, I’ve never told my son (whose father is my ex) that. This may be an instance in which telling the brutal truth is not a good idea. I believe that when parents separate, it’s best not to always trash the other parent to the kids; be honest but try to be positive too.
GRATITUDE SECTION (always optional)
Please feel free to share something uplifting that you’ve experienced so far in 2021. I wouldn’t call it uplifting but I am grateful for it – Dale and I have had both doses of the Pfizer vaccine against Covid-19 with its 95% effectiveness rate! We both had a few symptoms: I felt general malaise for a day, with headache. I took a long nap complemented with extra-strength Tylenol. Now we both feel fine!
Have you ever ‘butt dialed” someone? (‘butt dialed’ means have you ever made a phone call that you weren’t aware of making, because the buttons on the phone got pushed by your sitting on them (in your pocket) OR having something in your handbag press against them?) Geez, who hasn’t? I’ve gotten them several times too, and it’s usually the person I most recently talked to who stuck their phone in their pocket and some movement dialed my number again.
If you were given 1000 acres of land, what would you do with it? I can’t even conceive of how much that is. (I’m not good with area measurements.) But let’s say it’s large enough to build a manor house with outbuildings, and a large manicured garden – i.e. an “estate.” I would NOT do this, although I’ve been known to drool over properties I’ve seen on the road or in a magazine.
It depends where it is. If it were somewhere abroad that is beautiful and the kind of place I’d like to visit, I would probably build a modest house with a garage on it, maybe a pool too (depending on the climate in the area), and go there every year to spend several weeks exploring the surroundings and other countries. The rest of the time I would rent it out through Airbnb or something like that.
If it were in a poor country, I would probably donate it to the city or state or country through a reputable organization that would use it for whatever is needed in the community.
If it were in the U.S., I would want it to be in the Southwest, so I could build on it, have a cactus garden, and spend my winters there – I’d become a snowbird!
What’s the funniest thing you’ve seen on-line recently? I enjoyed many of the pictures people posted using the Bernie Sanders at the Inauguration meme inserted in them. In fact, I now have a crocheted Bernie, made by a friend, and it sits on my mantle above the fireplace. Maybe I’ll take it out with me and photograph it in various locations.
Have you ever eaten something off the floor? ‘5 second’ rule applies or not (the ‘5 second rule’ is that if you pick up the dropped food within a set time frame, it’s still ‘clean’ and you can safely eat it)? Oh, yes, I do that all the time! Imagine wasting a succulent tomato or a piece of the only chocolate chip cookie I allow myself to have each day! Although at the beginning of the pandemic, I was so paranoid that if something dropped on the floor, I would immediately throw it away and sanitize my hands. I also throw it out if I’d given it to the cat and she rejected it after sniffing and maybe licking it. Also, it depends on how clean the kitchen floor is. Needless to say, I don’t pick up liquids (except to clean up).
GRATITUDE SECTION (always optional)
Feel free to share your gratitude with everyone in the form of a quote, a thought or an image. I am grateful today for my family, especially my son, whose birthday is today!
It’s Monday, and Melanie has put out a new set of questions for Share Your World. Fittingly, this week it’s all about love and romance.
In your opinion, do May/December (older partner with much younger partner) romances ever work? I think they can, if there is real love between them. I know people are often suspicious that a woman marrying a much older man, especially if he’s rich, do it for the money. (Why did Melania marry Donald Trump?) But I believe in love, and love can occur between people of any age or gender.
What physical action or gesture do you find romantic? Hmmm, without getting pornographic here, I guess I would say when he comes up behind me and gives me a shoulder massage.
What is your idea of a romantic dinner? Just the two of us in a quiet café, preferably in Europe, with plenty of time to wine and dine.
Is ‘love’ a real ‘thing’ or merely a physical chemical response and brain activity pulling our emotional strings? Of course it’s real – all emotions are real, but each has a physiological component. I have heard that people are attracted to each other due to pheromones – unconsciously they are attracted to the way the other person smells – but I think it’s more than that. It’s biological (love leads to procreation of the species), physiological (certain chemical reactions occur – I’m not sure, but the movie Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About Sex pretty much sums it up!), psychological (the people involved are ready for a relationship – and for love to succeed, one must have self-love first), and emotional (you can’t stop thinking about the other person, you feel happy even on a bad day, you go crazy at the sight of the objection of your affection, etc.).
So the short answer to the question is “both.”
How do you show your loved ones that you love them? By doing things for them that they don’t expect, such as things you know they want or need, but they haven’t asked for it. Listen when they have something to say, and take their advice. Also small gestures, such as hugs and laughing at their bad jokes!
If the government offered to suspend all laws, and law enforcement for 24 hours, letting you (and everybody else) do whatever you wish… Would you be in favor of it, or not?
Absolutely not! There are already enough gun-toting, crazy fanatics out there (and a few in Congress!) ready to make trouble without giving them one more incentive!
What would be the creepiest thing you could say while passing a stranger on the street? (We’re suspending the whole social distancing and Covid involvement in this scenario)
I’m not a creepy person so the only way to scare someone (if that were the objective) would be to act like a lunatic. I’ve had creepy things said to me, but I can’t imagine myself saying those things to others.
As a child, what did you think would be great about being an adult, but isn’t as great as you thought it would be?
Getting married and having kids. Don’t get me wrong – I have enjoyed both, but there have been plenty of hardships and bad moments. I wanted to have two children and teach them to be good human beings, and feeling proud when they graduated from college and started their careers. I thought I would never get divorced because I would find the right person, my “soul mate.” I also imagined myself having a perfect career. In the end, I got divorced from my first husband and married again when it was no longer feasible to have more children. I had only one child (although I gained a stepdaughter, but I didn’t raise her) and he has suffered many problems due to mental illness. He has had plenty of dead-end jobs but to this date has never fulfilled his career ambitions. I didn’t either, really. I wanted to be a writer or an international journalist. The closest I have come is blogging about places I have been internationally! (And the pay isn’t very good! 😉 )
What, in your opinion, has been blown way out of proportion?
Conspiracy theories. Not the fact that they are reported on, but the fact that somany people actually believe in them. If you really stop and think about some of these wacko scenarios, do you think they sounds realistic? Hillary Clinton running an underage sex trafficking business out of a pizza parlor? It just doesn’t sound plausible at all. Or the idea that the entire Democratic Party is part of a “deep state” plot to turn the United States into a communist country and control the people. Really?? Think about the vast number of people that it would take to pull this off without being caught. Or to promote the lie that the coronavirus is a hoax and mass shootings didn’t happen. Not only is this hurtful to those who have lost loved ones to Covid-19 and mass shootings, but imagine what it would take to actually pull these fake scenarios off, and never having anyone involved in them defect to the other side. Hundreds of scientists would have to have been coerced into promoting the idea that a fast-spreading virus is a hoax and that they (the Democrats, of course) would have to mount some incredible scenes of people in hospitals being tended by harried medical workers and stories they would have to tell about their feelings when they lost patients. Climate change is a hoax? So people are going to believe one or two fringe scientists instead of an entire body of thousands of scientists who can prove climate change is happening? Then one “outsider” (Trump) comes along to “take back” our country from these horrible Democrats who have no compassion at all, just ambition. It just doesn’t make sense.
Of course, there is never any proof for conspiracy theories but much damage has been done because an alarming number of people believe in them and a few feel it is their job to do something about it.
Gratitude Section (Optional as always)
Where is your ‘happy’ place?
Sightseeing in a place that inspires awe. In other words, traveling to foreign lands or being privileged to see places that make me grateful to be alive.
PC Guy IV poses the following question for his weekly Truthful Tuesday challenge:
Whether it’s soups, stews, or chili, are there certain foods that you consider “winter fare”, only suitable when the temperature dips low enough to turn the furnace on, or do you just eat whatever whenever?
I think it’s natural to prefer certain foods in winter, as opposed to summer, especially living in a climate with cold winters. It’s nice to hunker down with hot chocolate or apple cider to drink, and to choose soups for winter lunches. But I don’t like to give up on summer fare just because it’s winter. Dale went to Costco a couple of weeks ago and looked for Sangria – their brand is our favorite. Finding that they weren’t just out of it, but had actually taken it off the shelves, Dale asked an employee why and was told that “sangria is considered a summer drink.” OK, I can understand that – it conjures up lazy nights at outdoor bars or cafes in Spain following hot summer days – but we like to drink it all year! Apparently we weren’t the only ones to complain because within two weeks it was back in their wine selections!
Ice cream is another one – I do love ice cream in the summer and am more likely to have it in the summer, but if it’s on the menu as the dessert of the day, I will choose it no matter what the season!
I’m a member of a wine club that allows me two bottles of wine per month, and in the winter I sometimes get what is called “Winter White” or “Winter Red.” Of course these wines can be drunk chilled or at room temperature, but I like to heat them up and add a few cloves or cinnamon sticks!
In contrast, I hardly ever eat soup in the summer, but I have it almost every day for lunch in the winter – it’s easy and good. I love salads year round, and don’t mind fruits and vegetables imported from South America. Chili is great in winter too, although it’s rarely offered here; I’m not sure why.
But in the winter, what I most look forward to is movie night in front of our TV, with a winter snack of microwave popcorn accompanied by Mexican hot chocolate!* This hot chocolate is prepared with milk over the stove, stirring in a piece of a bar of chocolate usually flavored with cinnamon. I use a whisk when stirring to make it frothy! While normally I am content to have No Sugar Added Swiss Miss or hot tea in the evening, I’ve got chocolate bars made in Mexico on hand for those special movie nights!
I find it harder to lose weight in the winter than the summer. I don’t exercise as much (especially with limited access to fitness centers during the pandemic) in the winter. Perhaps it’s a sort of instinctual need to hibernate like bears. Put on a layer of fat and sleep the cold away!!
*You can find fancy recipes for Mexican hot chocolate online, but I make it very simply, the way I learned in Mexico:
2 tablespoons or approximate Mexican bar chocolate (easy to find in Mexican stores or ethnic aisles in supermarkets) Ibarra brand. (But any brand will do.) This bar chocolate has a grainy texture and is already flavored with cinnamon. (See photo below.)
2 cups of milk (I use skim – use whatever you prefer)
Using a small saucepan on the stove top, add the milk and the chocolate chunks over medium heat. Do not allow it to boil by constantly stirring with a spoon, until the chocolate is melted. Then use a whisk to froth the mixture.
“Blogging is a medium of words,” says Fandango to introduce this week’s Provocative Question. “All of us who blog are wordsmiths. We use words almost exclusively to express ourselves, to tell our stories, to weave our tales, to write our poems, to help others to understand and possibly even appreciate our perspectives.
In the real world, words can take on different meanings depending on context, inflection, facial expressions, body language, and other countless factors. But in blogging, such visual cues are, for the most part, absent. Thus, the challenge of conveying your intended tone and the underlying meaning of what you write can be daunting. It gets down to the age old writer’s dilemma. Is the content what matters, or how the content is portrayed or presented?
So, as we are all writers who use words to paint pictures, my provocative question is simply this:
In the context of blogging and writing, what do you think is more important: what you say or how you say it?”
First I want to say that I straddle two blogging worlds: writing and photography. Writing and photography (art in general) are two consuming interests of mine, so I do some of both on my blog. I always intersperse written posts with pictures (even if they’re not my own*), which I explain below.
I didn’t think this question was particularly controversial until I started formulating a response. To me, writing is a lot easier than speaking, because (even though I do talk a lot, I admit) when speaking, I tend to blurt out what I want to say without thinking about it too much first. I know that is correctable by thinking carefully before I speak, but then whatever my thoughts were, I’ve forgotten parts of them and I don’t end up sounding as brilliant when I voice them as they sounded in my mind! My husband says writing doesn’t allow for nuance (such as tone and inflection) but I think it does. My husband is not a writer, although he reads a lot.
I think WHAT one says is ultimately the most important thing, but if it is not conveyed properly in words, its proper meaning may be lost on some readers. And there is something to be said for beautifully written pieces. Fine literature certainly is enhanced by the author’s style and some readers will gravitate toward certain writers for that reason. On the other hand, a poorly written book will turn me off to that writer even if I enjoy the story. Lots of times that means using very standard phraseology and clichés, making the story sound simplistic. The worst thing to me is bad grammar. I have read books in which it appears no editing was done. There are lots of misplaced apostrophes, one of my pet peeves, or commonly misspelled words are misspelled. Or things like “I got used of it” is wrong – it should be used TO it, but this is a common mistake. I accept such things if the author is writing the dialogue of a character that speaks that way, but not in the general narrative. Bad grammar and wording can so detract from the text that one can lose track of what the author is trying to say.
However, the meaning IS most important. I don’t want to read the elegantly written screed of a right-wing fanatic. If I don’t like the message of a particular writer, I will ultimately stop reading his/her work. People inject their writing with all kinds of hidden messages and subtext. Good writers do this. But in daily life, the words one uses matter. Then there is the general written message of most people out there – the stuff we read on signs and instructions in our every day life.
Someone made a serious blunder when coining the phrase “Defund the police.” I don’t think that is what they really meant. Yes, it’s concise and fits well on a protester’s sign, but its message is a real turn-off. Because my political beliefs are slanted to the left, I have heard the entire dialogue of the meaning behind this phrase. It should be “Reform.” It is the idea of taking some of the money that is poured into police departments with the expectation that the police can and should respond to, and appropriately handle, every conflict that might arise, born out of any number of society’s ills. The idea is really about how to use state and local funds to alleviate poverty, homelessness, drug use, etc.
Other written slogans are imbued with a particular subtext that the slogan’s originators want us to believe. “Pro-life,” for example, is used by people who oppose legal abortion. They are more accurately called “anti-choice.” I say this with no political agenda – I respect and understand their position, but anti-choice is more accurate. What they want is for women who get pregnant not to have the choice to abort the unwanted fetus, or at least for no public funding to be used for abortion. If they are truly pro-life, do they care about what happens to unwanted children after they are born, who may suffer poverty, neglect or abuse? I am not convinced that they do, because their sole focus seems to be on abortion. Many of them are right wing politically, who want smaller government, which usual means fewer public social services. Would pro-life people support transferring a good chunk of the defense budget to public education? That would save lives on both sides of the equation. Does that pro-life protester support the death penalty? If so, how can (s)he claim to be pro-life?
I know that I have deviated from the topic and injected even more controversy into it, but though I am using public slogans as an example to talk about meaning and subtext in writing, inaccuracies – deliberate or accidental – in writing are important. If one is writing a persuasive essay, it is necessary to provide reasons with as little bias as possible, if the writer is to convince readers of their point.
Sometimes the topic is good but the author rambles and repeats. No one is going to want to read past the first few paragraphs. I took a writing class once that was about writing for an online audience. The instructor advised us to break up our essays with photos because otherwise we will lose an audience that is used to a quick read, especially online. I myself am guilty of that, but if the writing is absorbing enough, I will continue reading. And to do that, the writer must draw me in and keep me interested – so although meaning is important, how one writes about it is important also because if you lose your readers, you will never convey your meaning.
So, bloggers (note to self)…
Be concise. Write what you mean. Mean what you write. Use visual images. Don’t ramble.** Show off your writing skills. Remember, writing is a balance between WHAT and HOW.
*All images in this post were downloaded from Google.