New Mental Health Regimen

For every 5 minutes spent searching for, and reading, the terrifying news we all need to be responsible to know about now, balance it with at least 5 minutes (maybe 20) of searching for, and reading some, of the amazing good news happening all over the world right now.

Writing you from Ground Zero in Washington State, USA., I know the Bad News all too well so I am determined to add to the good.

I spotted a couple great items around here yesterday.

First, for all the struggling local parents whose working lives revolve around and depend on their children being in schools that are now closed (some for weeks), one neighborhood is doing this creative thing.

Social distancing friendly scavenger hunt

Since the only safe get outside activities include walks, I have a proposal to inject some fun! (Borrowing this from a friend out of state). Daily window scavenger hunts! Tomorrow, let’s do Shamrocks (a day late, but who cares!) Basics: 1. Put the thing in a window on the front of your house. 2. Call it exercise (walk) 3. Call it math for you kids (count the [shamrocks] each day. 4. Call it art class the day before: make a [shamrock]. Let’s see if we can find a bit of joy. If you see someone else counting on your walk, wish them luck, from 6+ feet away!

 

Another has organized a group sponsoring Food Trucks from all over to come to suburban neighborhoods (from all their gas station parking lots) to bring Meals for whole families. This both feeds folks who can’t find open restaurants, and helps support the many local food truck businesses.

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And of course, SPRING just keeps happening, relentless and unstoppable…thank you Nature!

Social Distancing??? An Essay (or a journal entry…don’t know which)

This will be a mixed media post with stuff to look at, to listen to, watch, and to read (later, if you wish). I hope it inspires, informs and tickles you.

 

I wrote this in a note to a friend today…

We are living the pages and chapters of future history and philosophy books.
I hope we learn the abundant lessons in our faces right now…for the sake of our grandchildren, and theirs, and theirs….
(Lyrics at bottom of page)
I do understand all the steps and precautions we are needing to take in our communities, our countries, our planet during this Pandemic. I live in the USA’s Ground Zero, and I myself, am in three of the highest risk categories, so I appreciate people being thoughtful in their proximity to me.
But…
Social distancing?? What the hell! Hasn’t technology already been giving us too many tempting examples of that? It’s easier (faster) to text or email someone than to call them. Parents are freaking out about the damage caused by too much screen time for their kids. AND, Distracted driving statistics are horrifying!
Distracted driving deaths

Roughly, nine people are killed and more than 1,000 injured daily in accidents in which at least one driver was distracted

Heck, there are even patronizing (but wonderful) commercial campaigns on TV against too much social distance created by technology. My favorite is the one where the mom secretly trips the household electrical circuit, shutting off the video games, and forcing the kids to go outside to play basketball. Or the one with two couples, out to a fancy dinner, never looking up from their phones…while texting each other!

 

Many, many years ago now, I was asked to write a review in the Pre and Peri-Natal Psychology Medical Journal, of a book called Untouched by Mariana Caplan. It was a powerful description of what we, as a species, needed to consider in light of the rapid changes happening in human contact, brought about by the age of technology.

Here’s the review, in case you want to read it later…

https://www.questia.com/library/journal/1P3-1380835931/untouched-the-need-for-genuine-affection-in-an-impersonal

(The book has since been re-published under the title To Touch is to Live: The Need for Genuine Affection in an Impersonal World by Mariana Caplan)

 

My feeling today is even though we may be more distant physically, touching each other and looking into each others eyes less, we are potentially, miraculously and profoundly more “in touch” with each other than ever before. 
Or at least we can be.
I have not hugged my best friends in years, but I can tap my phone a few times and be right in the same room with them, face to face, while still 5285 miles across the planet. How amazing is that???
Believe me, I am NOT saying this phone contact is anywhere nearly as satisfying as a bear hug, a snuggle on the couch, or a meaningful look into their eyes, but I have to admit, the alternatives are fairly tolerable….as long as they are balanced by the occasional in-person visit.
And now…”Social Distancing”??? I get it. I hope it saves us, but I feel compelled to issue this precaution. If we have to do this for very long, it can (and will) become the norm for a whole species, making all of our former natural, tactile, kinesthetic expressions of human affection, respect, comradery, kindness, and love seem foreign, suspect, improper, and even dangerous. (Whew! What a sentence! What a THOUGHT!)
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the main photo I use in my therapy practice…
In an exhausting attempt to keep myself grounded in my deepest spiritual beliefs during this global (and personal) crisis, I search each and every day for new perspectives on all of this.
I am including below, some things I have found online (thank you technology) that have been comforting as well as enlightening to me during my already extended period of being “grounded”.
I love reading what Joan Borysenko has to say about things. She is a Harvard Medical School trained cell biologist and licensed psychologist…and one of the more spiritual people I know. She wrote this a few days ago:

Since last week, a lot has happened regarding the novel coronavirus. With the sharp uptick of cases, and the projection that a majority of Americans could be infected, we are now being directed to prepare for the likelihood of staying home much more.

As a psychologist, I am always looking for hidden opportunities within life’s inevitable difficulties. One possible opportunity I see, is to become more mindful of how we react to fear and uncertainty… and to cultivate greater resilience and gratitude for the good things in life.

This immediately made me think of the song Resilient by Rising Appalachia. I post this song often. It is one of my main themes these days. Worth a listen (and a viewing) again.
Pump up your volume and watch it standing up. See if you can do that without bursting into movement yourself!
Then, this also crossed my path. It is actually the thing that shook me out of my own personal “wide spread panic” and got me to remember that the way I was seeing what’s going on in the world was not the only way to look at it.
Blush.
And me, all the time preaching about Chosen Perspectives!!
It came from Facebook (which I am not on) and it had a name on it so I’m going to credit that person.

Amongst all the fear and confusion, there’s this…❤️ a different perspective …

There is so much fear, and perhaps rightfully so, about COVID-19.

And, what if…

If we subscribe to the philosophy that life is always working out for us, that there is an intelligence far greater than humans at work…

That all is interconnected.

What if…

the virus is here to help us?

To reset.
To remember.

What is truly important.

Reconnecting with family and community.

Reducing travel so that the environment, the skies, the air, our lungs all get a break.

Parts of China are seeing blue sky and clouds for the first time in forever with the factories being shut down.

Working from home rather than commuting to work (less pollution, more personal time).

Reconnecting with family as there is more time at home.

An invitation to turn inwards — a deep meditation — rather than the usual extroverted going out to self-soothe.

To reconnect with self — what is really important to me?

A reset economically.

The working poor.

The lack of healthcare access for over 30 million in the US. The need for paid sick leave.

How hard does one need to work to be able to live, to have a life outside of work?

And, washing our hands — how did that become a “new” thing that we needed to remember. But, yes, we did.

The presence of Grace for all.

There is a shift underway in our society — what if it is one that is favorable for us?

What if this virus is an ally in our evolution?

In our remembrance of what it means to be connected, humane, living a simpler life, to be less impactful/ more kind to our environment.

An offering from my heart this morning. Offered as another perspective. Another way of relating to this virus, this unfolding, this evolution.

It was time for a change, we all knew that.

And, change has arrived.

What if…

Gutpreet Gill

 

Thanks for reading this today. More than ever, I’d love to have you comment…share your own experience…connect with others about this.

Last thing about practicing Social Distance

 

 

 

Lyrics to above songs:

Climbing to Safety by Widespread Panic

You tell me love, has always scared you
Like the things under your bed
Baby, we can walk on water
Like some junkies swore they did

You call me on the phone, you say that it is crucial
Stick your fingers in your ears ’til they explode
It’s just business, and it rolls along as usual
Must grab each others collar, we must rise out of the water
‘Cause you know as well as I do that it’s no fun to die alone

After all that I’ve been through, you’re the only one that matters
Climb to safety
You never left me in the dark here on my own
Climb to safety
I can feel the water rising, let me be your ladder
Climb to safety
I promise you’ll be dry and never be alone

After all that I’ve been through, you’re the only one that matters
Climb to safety
You never left me in the dark here on my own
Climb to safety
I can feel the water rising, let me be your ladder
Climb to safety
I promise you’ll be dry and never be alone

Yeah, climb to safety
Ooh, climb to safety, safety
Yeah
Climb to safety

 

Resilient by Rising Appalachia
I am resilient
I trust the movement
I negate the chaos
Uplift the negative
I’ll show up at the table
Again and again and again
I’ll close my mouth and learn to listen
These times are poignant
The winds have shifted
It’s all we can do
To stay uplifted
Pipelines through backyards
Wolves howling out front
Yeah I got my crew but truth is what I want
Realigned and on point
Power to the peaceful, prayers to the waters
Women at the center
All vessels open to give and receive
Let’s see this system brought down to its knees
I’m made of thunder, I’m made of lightning
I’m made of dirt, yeah
Made of the fine things
My father taught me
That I’m a speck of dust and this world
Was made for me so let’s go and try our luck
I’ve got my roots down down down down down down deep
I’ve got my roots down down down down down down deep
I’ve got my roots down down down deep
I’ve got my roots down down down deep
So what are we doing here
What has been done
What are you gonna do about it
When the world comes undone
My voice feels tiny
And I’m sure so does yours
Put us all together we’ll make a mighty roar
I am resilient
I trust the movement
I negate the chaos
Uplift the negative
I’ll show up at the table again and again and again
I’ll close my mouth and learn to listen…

Cee’s FOTD (Flower of the Day) Challenge 2/3/2020 Primrose

Hmmm. Is it called “re-blogging” when you copy and paste from an old post, but then edit it like crazy for the current post??

Cee, at  https://ceenphotography.com/2020/02/02/fotd-february-3-2020-primrose/ challenges us this week to have faith that Spring is actually on its way. It’s been a long, dark winter for me this year. I’ve been wondering if it would EVER get light and bright again.

But yesterday was one of those winter days in the Pacific Northwest that some of us selfishly keep secret from the rest of the country.

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What I woke up to…

If people knew how absolutely gorgeous it can be up here, and how worth all the gray it is, we might be over-run with tourists, or experience even more of the population explosion inspired by Starbucks, Amazon and Microsoft!

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I mean, what do you call this kind of winter sky BLUE??

At this time of year, when it’s only light out for 7 hours or so, I can’t think of anything more optimistic than a Primrose! They show up in the dead of winter. They are relentlessly cheerful! And they presumptuously assume they will be back again next year!

I first learned about them from my best friend’s mother, Lucille, who each year would fill her front door area with these welcoming little splashes of color. When she could no longer make it out to plant, one of us would do it for her…right up until her final year.

I watch for the first batch to show up every year, in my yard…

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There’s this year’s first, amidst uncleared winter debris…

But I also watch at my grocery store (I know, I know) and this year, they are already here!

 

10 for $10.00!! Pretty cheap so I always load up. You’d think because they are a perennial I wouldn’t need to replenish my own garden each year. I don’t, but still, I can’t resist. there’s always some little spot for another one. Some of mine are 6 and 7 years old!

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One year I had an idea.

I live on a long, very unusual, dead end street that’s a country-like oasis in the middle of a ritzy city. (When I moved here over 45 years ago, there were only 3 other houses and we all had horse acreage! Now there are 25 homes!)

Though our peaceful country lane has built up over the years, we have scored big-time in wonderful neighbors. Most everyone knows everyone and we all watch out for each other.

On that one year, we had just lost one of our earliest residents, a dear, sweet gentleman. He had an unexpected heart attack. In my search for something supportive to do in his honor on this somber occasion, I kept thinking of the story of Johnny Appleseed.

I headed for the grocery store…and then late that night, the houses on the lane gone quiet, I sneaked out to plant a Primrose in every single yard, in honor of our sweet neighbor. Almost everyone figured out I was the Primrose Fairy, because they knew how obsessed I was with these hearty little flowers, but I don’t care. I kinda like my reputation of being the oldest (and maybe strangest) neighbor on our street.

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And to this day, each year, when the first Primroses show up, to honor the memory of Arul, always a smile and kind word for his neighbors, I take one down the lane to his widow. He was truly a Peach of a guy!

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I have also made a habit of welcoming the new neighbors to our street by leaving them a surprise Primrose to plant or just enjoy for a while. I just left two more this morning. Now that I’ve been here the longest, I like sharing the history of our street with the newcomers.

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So now, I give you the Primrose (and remind you of the story of Johnny Appleseed).

Thanks for reading and please comment if you like.

 

 

FOTD – February 3, 2020 – Primrose

A Photo a Week Challenge: Open Topic 10/26/19

So the whole Time Marches On thing is in my face right now…well, the face of my whole neighborhood, actually.

My chosen theme for this Open Topic Challenge from Nancy Merrill is Experimenting with Telephoto Photography. I’m hoping it can help me see more clearly into the distance (and the future)… and maybe understand it better.

When I bought my home in 1976, there were only 4 other houses, all with horse acreage,  on my long dead end street. Now there are 25 homes…and although, we still have a few chickens, there are certainly no horses. I’ve seen a lot of changes in the 40 plus years I’ve lived here but the trend now seems to be for a builder to come in and tear down anything from the 1980’s and before, and build these whopper new giant homes. I’m only partially complaining. We’ve gained a wonderful new group of neighbors, and luckily, all of our lots are still over-sized enough to accommodate a 3,000 to 4,000 foot home fairly well.

But sometimes heartbreaking things happen in the process….especially to the old growth trees! I have addressed this before and here is an example: Tree

https://chosenperspectives.com/2016/10/05/tree-daily-prompt-from-chosenperspectives-10-5-16/

Right now there is a wonderful little red and white farm house, barn, and matching well on the lot behind me facing the next street over. It’s been there since the late 1940’s. They are about to tear it all down (of course) and are building an 8,900 square foot house with a huge wall (not a fence…a WALL) around it. (None of the older homes in our neighborhood have fences. It’s wonderfully wide open.)

I should also say we live on a fairly tall hillside, and many of our homes have western views (if only partial) of the Olympic Peninsula and mountain range…beautiful!

 

Back to my complaining about so-called Progress…

So this McMansion builder, who is going to level the cute red farm house, first came in and took down 6 or 8 HUGE, beautiful trees along the western border of the property…assuming for the VIEW, right?? But I had to go over there and see just exactly what view would be worth murdering all those trees!

What follows is my telephoto experiment.

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If you look very closely, just beyond the treetops, you can see our “downtown” area.

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a blend of Bellevue and Seattle’s high rises….

Here’s what’s most interesting to me. Remember, I am experimenting with telephoto photography, using the feature on a relatively inexpensive Canon point and shoot.

The whole time I am taking these pictures, I think I am shooting the Bellevue Skyline.

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closest shot of Bellevue I could get that day…

But I am actually capturing a blend of downtown Bellevue and the Seattle Skyline some eleven miles west of us.

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I loved watching this sunrise reflection get bigger and bigger

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And when I got TOO close, I accidentally got this shot! (which I kind of like!)

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It was hazy that day, so all I could see clearly, in my clearly biased view, was that this builder guy had killed all those trees so his buyer had a view of our famous, rapidly growing, “tech-centered” city. All I could see was the combination of two city’s massive, view-blocking high-rises!

Then, later that day at Sunset, I got this shot…Bellevue, Seattle AND the Olympic mountains, which are 65 miles away (as the crow flies).

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Oh……OK, at least from another person’s perspective, maybe I get it…….

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https://nadiamerrillphotography.wordpress.com/2019/10/26/a-photo-a-week-challenge-open-topic/

When snow is a foreign experience…

First, let me say it is so beautiful…at first…

But on my side of the Cascade Mountain Range, in Washington state, when it snows, the population panics and everything screeches to a freezing halt!!

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Schools and businesses close. Stores sell out of staples (no milk or bread for miles around.) Cars that have slid or become stuck are simply abandoned where ever they are…in the middle of roads or even freeways.

Since Super Bowl Sunday, we have had no garbage pick up and only a single mail delivery!

All these things are a pain in the ____!

But it’s not a hurricane, tsunami, fire, tornado or war!! So we have to keep it all in perspective.

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been trying to focus on the amazing and delightful parts of it all. (The best thing for me is that we have not lost power!) There is so much to look at, it’s like being on an exotic trip or moving to a new part of the country!

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Oh, there is still ordinary drama! Who will win the steep hill that is our neighborhood’s long, dead-end street? Will it be the kids (of varying ages…including their 40’s) who are dying to get out their sleds and snowboards, as has always happened in the past with our rare snowfalls here? Or will it be the exceptionally kind and thoughtful neighbors, who get out their rarely used shovels, snow-blowers, and SALT, so they can clear our street for any necessary traffic.

This year the salt and snow-shovelers won. They were out there clearing the “perfect ski run” long before the No SCHOOL today kids even woke up!

I mean, they cleared the whole street, a couple of city blocks long…with SHOVELS…so all of us could get safely in and out of our neighborhood!!!

Also, I have been delighted to be able to continue feeding the seed birds, the hummers, and my crows.

I have fed my crows every morning for 35 years! Here’s my morning routine. I CAW and they come. This one Crow waits for me on top of a pole every morning until I say “Good morning. Here’s your breakfast.” And then I dump out yesterday’s leftover cat food scrapings, or a scrap of bread. He calls his Murder buddies and they all compete with the squirrels for the leftovers. Their favorites are dry cat food…and french fries!

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Then there are the intrepid seed eating birds. Not much stops them. They can empty the feeder in a day or two at certain times of the year.

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a short discussion before lunch…
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This guy doesn’t look too happy (or healthy). Finches tend to give each other conjunctivitis and I fear this fella might have it.
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And this one ate spilled seeds under the feeder, but was down there way, WAY too long. I hope he made it. This was on our 17 degree day.

 

As long as I keep the Hummingbird food thawed, they come and fill up all day long. But on the nights I take the feeders in so they don’t freeze, the next morning, these guys are literally ON it, slurping away, before I even get it hung back up on its hook! That has been so fun, being that close to them. Wish I could hold the feeder and snap photos at the same time.

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waiting, not quietly, on the unused Bow-flex for me to bring out the feeder.

 

 

Here’s the other thing I have been enjoying. Each morning I bundle up and go outside on a quest to discover any fresh designs in the snow…foot prints, paw prints, claw prints…anything, even tire prints!

Foot

Paw

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Claw

Tire

I love the puzzles some of the prints leave. Like this set of prints that I thought was maybe a person, dragging their feet or a cane, or maybe a single animal low enough to be dragging its belly. But when I followed the trail…it split into TWO.

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It’s amazing how much nocturnal activity takes place that I never would have known about without the evidence fresh snow provides.

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Some are no surprise because I know they are out there. I just rarely see them.

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One night last Spring

One day I woke up to these. Unmistakably Raccoon prints!

 

This morning’s mystery was fascinating. Keep in mind we have NO large dogs in our neighborhood, not that any would be roaming free at night anyway. These prints are way too big for the occasional kitty cat that is out at night. And even too big for our local coyotes, who are rarely traveling around alone. SO what is it? A Wolf? A larger cat? (there have been Bobcat sightings recently…) AND, it left me an icky clue, marking the corner of my patio! No wonder my cats went nuts at 3 AM!!!

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We have a local Covey of Quail, and three of them have kept me completely entertained looking out my bedroom window. They are hysterical. They always scritch and scratch and throw clouds of dirt and seed shells out behind them when they are foraging under the bird feeder. But to see them dig that way, down through the powdery snow, was so cool. Every now and then, one would bury another, and there would be a split second squabble before they’d go back to digging again.

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Then there is the snow itself. I was married to the US Disabled Ski Team for a number of years, and some of those guys knew the names of 20 or 30 types* of snow!

Here is what we got for these record breaking days.

Don’t know the names of these but they were each so different from each other.

I just know we had a lot, over several days, so much that they were calling it Snowmaggeden 2019 on the news.

There is fun stuff to do with the snow…

 

And the occasional tragedy…

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My wonderful Italian Plum Tree!

And the snow came the day after I planted these…see the mounds under the snow? Still don’t know if they survived.

 

And of course, there is the huge mess at the end…but that will go eventually!

 

All in all, we stayed safe and warm, and it was an adventure to remember.

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*https://www.thoughtco.com/types-of-snow-3010035

 

PS Some of my neighbors and I collect tarps, heavy moving blankets, and flashlights using coupons from our Harbor Freight Tools store, for people living unsheltered.

I felt so grateful to be warm and dry, but never more frustrated on behalf of people living outside in weather like this.

Pull up a Seat Photo Challenge, Week 5

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I have not looked through all the former “pull up a seat” photos posted so maybe this “seat” has been done before. (By the way, THIS seat was just photographed two days ago, in the dead of winter here in the Northwest!! My Primroses think it’s SPRING!!!)

Anyway, here’s my story!

Many years ago, we had to replace a broken toilet. In the 3 days time this old “throne” sat hidden (we thought) out by the side of the house, waiting to be taken to the dump, our only mean neighbor reported us to the City for having an unsightly yard. (I was not her first “target”. Several others had been on the receiving end of her ire before.)

It’s not like we live in a gated community with a HOA (Home Owners Association) or anything. Our street was still in the country, with horse ranches until not that long ago. And, you had to come all the way onto my property to even see the toilet.

Anyway, the city launched a “public nuisance” charge against me, gave me three days to remove it, and threatened a $500 a day penalty if I did not.

Well, that just pissed me right off.

SO I researched, found some Architectural Digests and various landscaping design articles using old claw-footed bathtubs, and yes, toilets, as Yard Art.

I planted the bowl and tank of the former throne with lovely, long-stemmed flowers, alive with color, and placed the toilet prominently in my front yard for all to now see.

I put a bathroom reading style magazine rack right next to it with all the articles demonstrating clever uses for old toilets.

The City was stumped and the neighbor was furious.

I left it there for 3 whole weeks, just for good measure, and only removed it out of respect for all my other neighbors who now had to see it every day.

Hey, I am a proud Child of the Sixties. Do I know how to protest and rebel or what?

 

For your listening pleasure but be warned, this video has harsh images from the times back then…(only one I could find)

 

Pull_up-_a_Seat-Badge

Photo Challenge of places we sit…or might sit…or art about sitting