thankfulness/z, zoos


Zoo Parc Beauval

Zoo Parc Beauval (Photo credit: JoyTek)


Zap, Zebra, zero, zipper, zeal, zealot, zit, zoo.

Boy, “z” is hard. For one thing, I’m on the train home from Chicago and don’t have the option of the internet to find words beginning with “z”.  So I’m having to wing it.

But I do like zoos, so zoos it is. Now I realize that there are some people who have an issue with zoos and I understand the logic. In a perfect world, animals should be allowed to roam freely in their native environment. But it’s also true that many animals are being slaughtered by those who are interested only in profits. I particularly love elephants and they are almost extinct due to man’s greed. So I’m grateful to those who’ve understand this and have tried to protect certain species.

Without zoos how would so many children, especially those who are limited in travel opportunities, ever get to see gorillas, lion, tigers, giraffes, elephants, etc.?  Books aren’t enough. Television isn’t enough. They need to watch and observe. I’ve been to many zoos, here in the United States and elsewhere.

However, I’ve never been to what I consider would the best “natural” zoo-Africa. Of all the countries I’ve visited, that’s the one I’ve wanted to see the most. I associate zoos with Africa although many of the animals we see in zoos are from India, South America and China. I just like Africa. So I tell myself if I ever get there, I’ll see all the wild animals  there are to see, even if I know I won’t. I mean really, a panda in Africa. I don‘t think so.

I like watching the monkeys cavort and pick fleas off each other and I really like watching gorillas. They, too, are being slaughtered mercilessly. The movie “Gorillas in the Mist”, will give you much insight into the gorilla and also the greediness of man.

What I don’t understand though are those people who think a wild animal can be trained as a “pet”.  There are numerous reports of privately owned wild animals turning on their owner. The animal is often killed even though it was simply doing what a wild animal does. How foolish to hold an animal responsible for what a foolish owner does.

Anyway, I hope you get to visit a zoo if you haven’t already. Not only are they educational, they’re fun

Yea!!!  I did it. A blog a day during the busiest time of the year isn’t easy. What was I thinking? There were often many different choices for some letters. Sometimes I purposefully didn’t choose the obvious, like love for “l” or family for “f”.  Sometimes, I chose something I really had to work hard to write about because I like to challenge myself. Sometimes it was painful, like yesterday. Sometimes I had little choice. (By the way don’t you find it strange that the closer you get to the end of the alphabet, like with x, y, z, the fewer the choices? I mean seriously, why? I don’t who created the alphabet but I wonder why an “x”, “y” and a “z”?  I did find words starting with “x” very interesting because many of them had some sort of reference to the color yellow.)

I am thankful for so much more than what I wrote about-God, family, friends, my old house, “teeny-tiny cabin”, my church. I’m thankful for hobbies and interests. I’m thankful for choices and challenges, hurts and hugs. For cappuccinos and travel. For work and play. If I tried to list every little thing I’m thankful for, like when it rains and the drops of water bead up on my Lady’s Mantle like little pieces of diamonds, I would probably be writing for weeks. 

Lady's Mantle after a rain.

Lady’s Mantle after a rain.

(I’m thankful that I was led to start a blog. (I wish I could be thankful that I’ve got it looking the way it should with all the bells and whistles I find appealing on other blogs, but I’m just not there yet. Probably need to upgrade. I love letters and words. I love reading. I even love dictionaries so balogging is a natural fit for me. I’m thankful for that, too.)







Today I’m thankful for yesterdays. Not all yesterdays. Just like all tomorrows won’t necessarily be something to be thankful for, not all yesterdays are either. But at least tomorrows hold promise. Yesterdays only hold memories. We can’t rewrite memories. Or can we?

Our past is our past, the facts of it, but not our interpretations of it. I’ve looked back at a lot of my yesterdays, even the ones I’d rather forget, and have come to understand how they’ve contributed to who I am. Without my yesterdays, I wouldn’t be who I am.  Without my yesterdays I wouldn’t have hope that I could handle my tomorrows.

When one thinks about it, wouldn’t you rather think about your yesterdays? At least, for the most part, they hold no surprises, although I think all of us have moments that suddenly break in on us and open a window to a past memory.  Sometime we call it déjà vu. That uncanny feeling that we’ve been here before, done this before but can’t for the life of us remember who, what, when, where, how. But we know.

Sometimes that déjà vu shows up when we react in an extreme way to someone or something. There is a word for me that often catapults me back many years. No matter to whom the word is directed, whether it’s in a movie, a book or a conversation, it takes me back to a young teen-age girl.  

My mother wanted me to have all the fun she felt she had missed. I was a constant reminder of her unfulfilled dreams. It never occurred to her that what I did or didn’t do had nothing to do with her that.  To this day, she allows circumstances and people to determine her joy.

I am my mother’s daughter.  At times I have followed her example by letting people and circumstances determine my joy. 

This post is about being thankful for our yesterdays-and I am.   

We all have some painful yesterdays but we all have hope for our tomorrows also. If your yesterdays include periods of depression or if you’re worried that your tomorrows might, don’t be afraid to look back and neutralize some of those painful memories. Try to reinterpret them in a way that doesn’t excuse or condemn the perpetrator but frees the victim-you. Depression quite often gets a foothold because we’ve let the past fester.  

 Today will be your yesterday soon enough so make today count.





Yellow green

Yellow green (Photo credit: Wikipedia)




Today I am choosing xanthochroism. To say I had limited choices with the letter “X” is redundant. Of course, I could have cheated and used “XOXO” but that would be, hmmm, well, cheating.

So what is xanthochroism?  It is the abnormal coloration of feathers in which yellow replaces the normal color, as in certain parrots. It is commonly due to lack of the dark pigment with which yellow forms green.

Yellow-green is my very favorite color. I am thankful that the color exists. It is the accent color I have in most rooms in my house. If I were brave enough I would paint an entire room that color. But alas, I’m a coward. There isn’t much more to say about my choice today except to say that yellow-green looks great with a seafoamy blue-green. It’s a beautiful combination. I’ve decorated our little bunkhouse in this color combination.

It is stunning when paired with red for Christmas. I just purchased some bottle trees in this color. I’ve been taking out my Christmas decorations and I can certainly tell it’s my favorite color.

That’s all I’ve got.  It is “X” after all.

Chicago, Chicago, that wonderful town.

Well, we have no free Internet here at hotel. We’re too cheap to pay so I’m posting from my phone again.

As you can probably guess from yesterday’s post, I haven’t bought anything yet. Almost positive it won’t be clothes anyway. My thrift shop clothes are fine by me. I’m actually finding better quality than what’s in the stores these days unless I want to spend around $80.00 for a sweater, which I don’t.

Here’s the interesting thing though and it’s very appropriate for this month of thankfulness I’m doing. When you’re truly thankful for what you have, it’s easy to not get caught up in wanting everything you see. Yesterday, while shopping the Magnificent Mile, I realized just that. It was totally freeing.

That’s not to say I won’t buy something. There’s a store in Watertower Mall that carries books called “Story People”. ( I would give you the author’s name but I don’t remember it. You can google the title and it will show up.) It’s a wierd series and is not a novel or a non-fiction. It’s more a book of truisms combined with colorful weird cartoon-like people. I’ve wanted it for a couple of years. I think it’s because a number of years ago I created some sketches of weird creatures that really appeal to me bit I’ve never known what to do with them. I think I might try to develop a story-line for my “people” as well.

Plus, I have to buy a hat. Left mine on the train and Chicago is really cold in the winter. Did I tell you, I lived here for a couple of years when I was eighteen. That’s a story in its-self- how a young, inexperienced and totally trusting young woman lived two years in a big sophisticated city and left unscathed. I’ll tell you about it sometime soon. Chicago has brought back lots of memories.

Anyway, heading out now although why I’d leave a gorgeous hotel room with ten foot ceilings that is bigger than “Teeny Tiny Red Cabin”, I’ll never know. Remember, please overlook any errors. Working on a minuscule screen isn’t easy us I can’t review first.




Česky: Pitná voda - kohoutek Español: Agua potable

Česky: Pitná voda – kohoutek Español: Agua potable (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Water, warmth, wash, watch, watercolor, waves, wealth, weather, wheel, what, when, where, whole, window, winter, wisdom, wonderment, write.

Today was also easy. I’m thankful for water. I live in Michigan. We have more lakes than any other state. Yes, more than Minnesota.  And, of course, we are also bordered on three sides by the Great Lakes. We have a lot of water in Michigan.

Water is one of those natural resources it’s easy to take for granted. I don’t. I probably did at one time but no more. I’ve come to understand through documentaries and other sources that water is scare in the rest of the world and not just Africa. Even in Europe water is at a premium.  Ocean water is not fresh water and requires more purification which also means higher cost to the consumer.

We turn on the faucet and there it is-water. We think nothing of taking baths with the water filled to the top of the tub, or long showers. Can you just imagine the wonder a little child from a third world country would feel the first time he took a bath? It would be like Christmas.

Impure water is the cause of many diseases in other parts of the world. Many faith-based organizations have taken up the cause and encourage donations for the procurement of wells. I’ve taken a stand about the use of water in our home. Showers are timed. I have a timer and I know how to use it! We keep the water stream slow for dishes. The water is not left running when we brush our teeth. The water is not left running period. The toilet is not flushed every time it is used. There’s a saying that goes like this, “If it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown, flush it down.” That’s our standard. (Just so you know, these standards do not apply to guests.) We don’t do this because we’re cheap or can’t afford to do otherwise. For me it’s a show of support. It keeps me in touch with the realities that people in other parts of the world deal with every day.

I’m not a saint. When we travel, I do like to take a long, hot bath but even then I’m careful not to overdo. Just because I’m not paying for it doesn’t mean I can take it for granted. I follow the same standards when I am at someone else’s house as well.  Water is not infinite. We act like it is but it isn’t. If global warming is true, then the world could most definitely face a world-wide shortage.

Here’s an article from the British Broadcasting Corporation from June 19, 2012.

Shortages: Water supplies in crisis

By Roger Harrabin Environment analyst

Most countries will have to make do with the water they’ve got, but there are stark disparities

 Over the past 40 years the world’s population has doubled. Our use of water has quadrupled. Yet the amount of water on Earth has stayed the same.

Less than 1% of the water on planet blue is for humans to drink.

About 2% is locked up in ice. The rest is for the fish.

Seawater is only good to drink for humans who live near the sea and can afford the cash and the energy to take out the salt.

For most of the population this is not an option.

Desalinated water costs maybe 15 times more than regular water. It burns polluting fossil fuel energy, as solar-powered desalination is in its infancy.

Shortages: Resources running out

 No, most places will have to live with the water they’ve got.

Many countries are awash; they’ll be fine. Others are desperately mining fossil H2O that seeped into rocks during the last ice age.

And as underground supplies run dry, water shortage sets in.

Large parts of Africa, Asia and Europe, including the south east of Britain are categorised by the UN as facing water stress or scarcity.

And for all the UN’s recent boast about hitting drinking water targets, experts estimate that maybe three billion people worldwide still lack safe water to drink.

And it might get worse with climate change, although scientists’ projections of future rainfall are notoriously cloudy.

So is it any wonder I’m thankful today for water?







Hubby and I on way to Chicago via Amtrak. My first Amtrak ride. Thoroughly enjoying it. Looking forward to seeing Chicago during Holiday season. Have always wanted to do this.

I’ll be on my own during day as hubby will be working. I’ve already decided I’m having at least one cappuccino per day. Looking forward to shopping at Water Tower. We’re staying right on the Magnificent Mile. It’s funny that I mention shopping because I’ve never bought anything yet when
we’ve been in the Windy City. But I’m really going to try hard this time. There’s a reason.

Sometimes I get too anxious about money. Sometimes I think I don’t deserve anything new. Depression has a way of infiltrating every part of our lives but we never think it might be in such obscure ways.

So today, find a way to be good to yourself. Even if it’s only a cappuccino!

(BTY-I’m posting from my phone on a moving train so please forgive the errors)


Vanilla ice cream cone I bought at Camp Manito...
Vanilla ice cream cone I bought at Camp Manitou-Lin for a $1 donation. I was sort of icey. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

thankfulness/V (the caption under the picture is not mine)

Vacation, valleys, valor, vanilla, variety, vases, vegetables, vehicles, velvet, veins, very, veterans, vibrant, victory, vigilant, vigorous, vilify, vindicate, visualization, vitamins, void, vows, vulnerability.

 It’s the Holiday season and I can think of no other flavoring that is used more than vanilla. I have always loved the flavoring and smell of vanilla so today I’m very thankful today for “vanilla”. The flavoring and the scent.  Did you know that women In Victorian times used to use vanilla as perfume?  (And Bath and Body Works thought they were original? Huh.)

I like vanilla in warm milk. I like vanilla ice cream.  I like vanilla pudding. While I like chocolate, vanilla is my favorite. A touch of vanilla in almost any cake, cookie or dessert recipe adds to the taste. It’s also great in tart recipes as it “softens” the tartness.  I love the scent of it so much that anytime I’m in Bath and Body Works, I buy Warm Vanilla Sugar in every product they carrya. Every woman I know loves it.

Maybe it reminds us of when we were little girls and we smelled cookies baking in the oven. Maybe it makes us feel “mothered”, especially if we never were. Did you know that smells can actually soothe us, energize us, makes us more mentally acute? What do you think is behind the success of the aforementioned Bath and Body Works? They have tapped into the psychology of smell and we’ve bought it hook, line and sinker. That’s not meant as an insult. Quite the contrary. I think it’s great. I love going in and smelling all the new “flavors”.

I’m copying this article directly from the Internet. It’s a really good explanation of what I’ve been saying and might even explain the “mothering” theory. What do you think?

The psychology of design: How to create an environment in which you will thrive

by Sally Augustin, Ph.D.


The Smell Is Right – Using Scents to Enhance Life (Part 2)

Scents influence us in predictable ways.

Published on January 13, 2010 by Sally Augustin, Ph.D. in People, Places, and Things.

The scents that surround us have a significant influence on how we live our lives. Specific smells have predictable psychological effects, as discussed in part 1 of this article – lemon improves our performance on cognitive tasks while peppermint has the same result when we are doing physical work, for example.

Researchers have also found that scents each of us individually classify as pleasant influence us in foreseeable ways:

  • When we smell a scent that we think is pleasant while we’re waiting somewhere, it seems to us that we’ve been waiting for a shorter time than if a pleasant smell is absent. If you know that you, or others, will be spending a lot of time on hold or in a linge, add a pleasant smell to your environment. 
  • We’re apt to linger in spaces that smell good – so scent is a way that you can encourage people to gather in particular sections of your home during a party.
  • Smelling pleasant scents also puts us into a generally good mood, which means we’re apt to be more creative and more interested in resolving disagreements genially as opposed to confrontationally.
  • Gamblers bet more money when they’re in a good smelling place, so, if you often lose at cards, don’t add potpourri to the den when the poker game’s at your house.
  • When we smell pleasant scents, we’re more apt to recall pleasant memories, which is good if you’re not feeling well or under stress – and you’ll generally report that you feel less pain when you smell a pleasant smell than you will when you’re not doing so.
  • We’re more confident when we are smelling a pleasant scent – so wearing that perfume or cologne you like is a good idea when you’re taking the law boards or defending your dissertation.
  • Scented spaces seem larger than unscented ones, and, as a bonus, those larger seeming scented spaces also seem cleaner and brighter than unscented ones – even if we don’t consciously register that scent – conscious registration is not necessary for the repercussions of pleasant smells noted above, either.

Smelling the same smell in two different places where you’ll be working on a project puts you in the same mood as in both spaces and calls the same memories to mind. If your home office and a workplace share an odor, it will help you work more effectively in both places.

What about unpleasant smells? They mobilize us to action – particularly to leave spaces. So, if your guests just don’t get the hint . . .




Vincent van Gogh: Blick auf Arles. April 1889 ...

Vincent van Gogh: Blick auf Arles. April 1889 Öl auf Leinwand, 72 x 92 cm, Neue Pinakothek, München Sammlung Mr. und Mrs. Paul Mellon, Upperville/Virginia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ukulele, umbrellas, unchanging, underestimate, understanding, unity, unique, unspoken, unusual, upbeat, uplifting.

I almost picked unity. But that sounded like what a beauty pageant contestant would pick to expound on for the judges were she given a choice. I can hear it now, “I just what unity in the world.” I don’t want to be predictable so I guess it really makes sense that I pick “unique”.  I’m thankful for the “unique”.  I like unique.

As we’ve gone through this renovation, I’ve learned that the pieces I still love are the ones that were never mass-produced. They are the ones that I don’t see in anyone else’s home. I’ve got some pieces I’ve had for many years and they still “work” in my home, precisely because they’ve stood the test of time. Like the big copper bowl that sits on the lower shelf of a table. Like the chamber pot I use in a bathroom for my wastebasket. The old sewing machine table that has a top that didn’t come with it which has been painted lots of different ways. Like the crocks that sit on each one my steps going upstairs. The pieces I’ve given away or are going to give away are pieces I’ve bought in department stores where there have been a dozen of them on the shelf. That must have been a period in my life when I was foolish enough to want my home to look like everyone else’s.  I don’t know what I was thinking. I’m glad I’ve found myself again.

I like unique people, too. Not necessarily eccentric although I’m learning to appreciate them as well. By unique, I mean people who aren’t afraid to be who they are. They don’t explain themselves. They don’t justify themselves.  They have no qualms about voicing their opinion when appropriate because they know how they feel about many issues. They aren’t worried about fitting in.

I like art that is unique, for sure. I would not have any art in my home that I could buy in a department store. I don’t like art that reeks of the predictable, like blue skies, green grass, etc.  Give me pink, purple, orange skies.  Give me purple or blue grass. Maybe that why Vincent Van Gogh. Not only is his art unique. He was unique. Well, no maybe he was eccentric.  I guess eccentric people are always unique but not the other way around.

I didn’t use to be this way. I used to like the predictable and ordinary. Maybe I was predictable and ordinary.  Who know? I just know I like unique and I’m thankful every time I find it.

(FYI: I don’t know why I had two posts published the same day. One of them should have been on the 25th. Or why “S” showed up before “T”. I do know the alphabet. J Anyway, hopefully everything is back on track. I’m glad I’m almost to the end of the alphabet. It’s getting awfully close to Christmas. We’re headed to Chicago on Monday. Husband working and I’m tagging along. What could be better than Chicago at Christmas? )



The Children of Israel Crossing the Jordan (il...

The Children of Israel Crossing the Jordan (illustration by Gustave Doré) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Sanity, saucy, scallion, scenic, schools, Scotland, sea, seeds, sensitivity, sequel, sermon, shabby, sight, silence, simple, sleep, smooth, snow, soft, songs, sun, spicy, spirituality, spirit, spots, standards, stillness, stone, strategy, strength.

Boy, there are a lot of words that start with “S”. I’m in a quandary-which to pick, which to pick. I love scenic spots. That would include Scotland.  I’m thankful for sensitivity in people.  I enjoy sermons. I like silence. I like smooth and soft things. I love the sun and spicy foods.  I’m thankful there are standards. I appreciate stillness. Strength is good. But I’m going to settle on stones. I know, strange. Stay with me here.

I like things in their natural state. Organic things. Stones certainly qualify. A stone is a stone is a stone. Sure, they be chiseled, painted on, cemented, or crushed but the essence of a stone remains intact. There is something eternal about a stone. They haven’t changed since the beginning of time. Stones cannot be recreated. They have only been created once.  

Stones have been symbols for various religions since the beginning of time. I have a red bowl in my bathroom full of small stones. On some of the stones, I’ve written the word “remember”. This refers to the story about Joshua and the Israelites crossing the Jordan River. The heads of the twelve tribes were each to pick up a stone from the river as a reminder of God’s deliverance by cutting off the water from the Jordan so they could pass through. The stones were kept in their home. They were then to be prepared to answer the question from their children as to what the stones meant. They were to say, “Because the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord; when it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. So these stone shall become a memorial to the sons of Israel forever.” (Joshua 4: 6-7)

Joshua could have suggested any number of ways for the Israelites to remember crossing over the Jordan River.  He could have told them to simply pass the story on from one generation to another as was their custom. He could have told them to write it down. Instead he told them to pick up stones. I think it’s because a stone is a reminder of an Eternal God. It has substance.

Some Christian authors have suggested one should carry a small stone in one’s purse or pocket. The idea is to touch the stone throughout the day as a reminder of God’s presence. Or as a reminder for a new habit. Perhaps a reminder to give up a destructive one. My purse is really heavy so I haven’t gone that far. Another suggestion is to hold a stone during one’s prayer time. It’s a “grounding” thing. It reminds us that there are some things in this life that are everlasting.

When you get a chance, pick up a stone and think about the implications of holding something in your hand that is timeless, will never change and will never be recreated. It’s really quite soothing.



Travel Guides



Today I didn’t even to think about it.  I always knew what “T” was going to be just like I always knew what “P” was going to be (Pinterest).

Today I’m thankful for travel. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. A few years ago, the company my husband worked for was being sold. He had worked for the corporate office (located in Georgia) on a few projects over the years. They didn’t want to lose him so they offered him a job as a Forensic Accountant.  The schedule required two weeks out of town and two weeks home each month. Because the second two weeks was designated for the write-up of the audit and didn’t require his presence in Georgia, he was able to work at home (Michigan). 

After that first year of travel within the United States, the companies he was auditing were going to be sold and we were right back where we were the year prior. So-o-o-o he was offered the same position but now the travel would be primarily international. Whoa!  We never saw that one coming. We were really excited about the prospect. We planned that as soon as he had enough frequent flyer miles to purchase my ticket (that only took a couple of long trips) I would tag along a couple of times a year.  Within the first year I was able to go with him to Sao Paulo, Brazil and later that year to Paris. (I should add that his traveling got real old, real quick. I don’t know how we did it for ten years. It was a huge strain on both of us and took a physical toll on him.) We are glad that’s over. It was exciting but exhausting.

I’ve been fortunate to see a great deal of the world and it’s made me a better person.  I have a better acceptance of the uniqueness of various cultures because I’ve experienced them. I’ve seen the advantages I have because I live in the United States. I’m more acutely aware of all the freedoms I enjoy. I’m grateful that I live in a democracy, flawed those it is at times. I’ve seen the living conditions of the poorest of the poor on the way from airports to hotels and I am humbled. I’ve witnessed prepubescent   girls in some countries being treated as nothing more than chattel for older, pot-bellied men.  I certainly don’t judge the girls; I absolutely do judge the men.

I’ve witnessed some things we would all do well to mimic. Like how most of the rest of the world walks to where they’re going rather than drive. In the Netherlands, they bike-for miles and miles. People from other parts of the world seem to care more about their appearance in public. (One doesn’t see pajama bottoms in Europe and aerobic shoes are strictly for exercise.) Meals are eaten slowly, therefore food is enjoyed more and obesity rates are lower. Retail shops are closed on Sunday.  (How would we ever handle that here? We can’t even stay closed on Thanksgiving anymore. What’s next, Christmas?)

And of course, there’s the pastry.  OMG! I’ve eaten my way through many a patisserie.  No self-respecting pastry chef one would even consider substituting margarine for butter or milk for cream.  But because they take the time to really enjoy their food, they are satisfied with less. Cappuccinos in Australia, of all places, are the best I’ve ever had.    

If there are some of you reading this that’ve never been out of the country, find a way to see the rest of the world. Spend less elsewhere. Check out all the options. Don’t give up. I have never regretted that my husband and have made traveling such a priority. It has taught me more than any book.

Believe me; I know how fortunate I’ve been. Sometimes it seems like a dream. I have to look at my pictures to convince myself.  We haven’t traveled out of the country for over a year now and I’m getting itchy feet. We still have an insane amount of frequent flyer miles, so I’m keeping a suitcase ready to go.