Learn Something New Every Day!

Archive for December, 2013

Topic U: UNTIL


It is such a nice little word.  The dictionary definition explains that until works as both a preposition and a conjunction. Both basically look to time:  before, continuance to a specific time, and up to a certain point or time.  Simple. Nuetral. But this dictionary definition does nothing to capture the magic of this little word.

Until captures the mood, the feeling of any situation with which it is associated.  It helps accentuate the connotation being implied.  Consider these examples:  A young boy has gotten into trouble and hears from his mother, “Just wait until your father gets home!”  The dread, the anticipation, the worry take over as the time ticks away.  Now, same boy, but he is waiting for a dad returning from military, a dad bringing home his favorite dinner—pizza!—or waiting to head out on vacation.  Now, there is hope, anticipation, excitement.  The situation provokes the emotion, but it comes forward because of the great little word until and a fairly quick resolution of the wait-time involved.    

Sometimes the mood is merely persistence or endurance, putting in the time, especially when there is not a quick resolution in sight.  Consider these phrases:  until you grow up, until you’re older (not quite the same as maturity!), until you get a job, until there is enough money, until you understand or make a commitment.  Extending this sense of time to suggest that things will never change or will rather always stay the same is another job for the word until.   This feel is captured by phrases such as until the cows come home, until I die, until the end of time. The best phrase of all showing this ongoing sense of time is, “I will love you until the twelfth of never.”

Do you have a favorite until phrase?

BTW:  I will keep working on my A-Z Topics until I have completed them.  Fortunately, I have until my birthday to really be done.  Until then, I will keep moving on!  Besides, I would never finish until I figured out a Topic U.  Wonder where my topic idea came from?!

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“I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.”   Mother Teresa

“An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”   Martin Luther King, Jr.

“A woman is like a tea bag. You never know how strong she is until she is in hot water.”   Eleanor Roosevelt

“We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves.”   Dalai Lama

“A person with a new idea is a crank until the idea succeeds.”   Mark Twain

“The brain is a wonderful organ; it starts working the moment you get up in the morning and does not stop until you get into the office.”   Robert Frost

“I believe in everything until it’s disproved.  So I believe in fairies, the myths, dragons. It all exists, even if it’s in your mind. Who’s to say that dreams and nightmares aren’t as real as the here and now?”   John Lennon

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”   Nelson Mandela

“Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.”   Theodore Roosevelt

“War will exist until that distant day when the conscientious objector enjoys the same reputation and prestige that the warrior does today.”   John F. Kennedy

“I love a Hebrew National hot dog with an ice-cold Corona—no lime.  If the phone rings, I won’t answer until I’m done.”   Maya Angelou

“Some people die at 25 and aren’t buried until 75.”   Benjamin Franklin

“Until justice is bling to color, until education is unaware of race, until opportunity is unconcerned with the color of men’s skins, emancipation will be a proclamation but not a fact.”   Lyndon B. Johnson

“Make sure you never, never argue at night. You just lose a good night’s sleep, and you can’t settle anything until morning anyway.”   Rose Kennedy

“We don’t believe in rheumatism and true love until after the first attack.”   Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach

“You can’t be truly rude until you understand good manners.”   Rita Mae Brown

“An optimist stays up until midnight to see the new year in. A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves.”  Bill Vaughn

“The truth is, no one of us can be free until everybody is free.”  Maya Angelou

Topic T: The Wonder of Trees

 “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago.  The next best time is now.”   Chinese Proverb


Trees are incredible.  Really.  That’s all there is to it. 

I internalized the above truth at a young age because Mom appreciated trees. Grandma’s house had pear trees in the back yard.  The tree in our back yard sheltered squirrels and birds that we always fed.  The one in the front was good for climbing.  The picture above the couch was of a trail through some trees.  Oh, it always looked so peaceful and welcoming.  Mom’s favorite poem was even “Trees” by Joyce Kilmer, written in 1914.  I was quite young when I committed that poem to memory.  I have memories of Mom reciting it too!  

kilmer poem

aspen trunks blue skyYes, I always saw trees as special.  It was a given that trees were friends, symbols of life and hope, and eventually a connection to the spiritual.  As I got older, it became clear there is even more to know about these marvelous living organisms.  The facts show how integral trees are to life on earth, to our very existence.  Trees live just about everywhere.  They give us food, shelter and shade.  Without trees, we would not have fruits and nuts to eat, a fire burning in the hearth, or buildings to live in and paper to write on.  And we would run out of oxygen pretty quickly too.  

path thru oaks

one tall redwoodThe actual details are pretty impressive:

  • There are over 23,000 different kinds of trees in the world.
  • About one third of the United States of America is covered by forests.
  • According to a recent forest inventory, there are almost 247 billion trees over one inch in diameter in the U.S.
  • A tree can absorb as much as 48 pounds of carbon dioxide per year and can sequester 1 ton of carbon dioxide by the time it reaches 40 years old.
  • One large tree can provide a day’s supply of oxygen for up to four people.
  • Each year, one person uses wood and paper products equivalent to a 100 foot tree 18 inches in diameter.
  • Over 5,000 products are made from trees.
  • In one year, an acre of trees can absorb as much carbon as is produced by a car driven up to 8700 miles.
  • Trees provide shade and shelter, reducing yearly heating and cooling costs by 2.1 billion dollars.
  • The tallest species of trees in the world include the Coast Redwood, Giant Sequoia, Coast Douglas Fir, Sitka Spruce and Australian Mountain Ash.
  • Trees are some of the oldest living organism on earth.  Live Oaks can live to be over 500 years, many giant sequoia trees are 2,500 years old, and some bristlecone pines are thought to be over 5,000 years old.

reflection 2

pink tree along I-5pink fruit buds close upBut what truly impresses me about trees is their beauty and variety.  The many shades of green in the leaves are remarkable, and—by contrast—they showcase the white and pink blossoms of spring and the red and yellow leaves of autumn. Then there are the evergreens that demonstrate perseverance and constancy.  One tree can stand alone in a field or overlook a cliff, or it can crowd together with others in a forest dense with growth. Even when they die, they decompose and help new life spring forth.  Following a path through the trees as sunlight filters through the boughs is magical.  Standing next to a Giant Redwood or Sequoia reminds us just small we are in the scheme of things.

Bishop 1

New Growth

green leaves 1

one varigated leaf



palm trees

sitting in the shade

fallen log with robin

fallen log and new growth

Lone pIne monterey

Lone pine tree

pine trees

mid tree trunk

path thru redwoods

redwood trunks

Fallen Log, Petrified Wood, Petrified Forest, AZ

Fallen Log, Petrified Wood, Petrified Forest, AZ

Yes.  Trees are incredible.  Really.  That’s all there is to it.

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“You can live for years next door to a big pine tree, honored to have so venerable a neighbor, even when it sheds its needles all over your flowers or wakes you, dropping big cones onto your deck at still of night.”   Denise Levertov

 I frequently tramped eight or ten miles through the deepest snow to keep an appointment with a beech-tree, or a yellow birch, or an old acquaintance among the pines.    Henry David Thoreau

“Us sing and dance, make faces and give flower bouquets, trying to be loved. You ever notice that trees do everything to git attention we do, except walk?”   Alice Walker in The Color Purple

“I never saw a discontented tree.  They grip the ground as though they liked it, and though fast rooted they travel about as far as we do.  They go wandering forth in all directions with every wind, going and coming like ourselves, traveling with us around the sun two million miles a day, and through space heaven knows how fast and far!”    John Muir

“The groves were God’s first temples.”    William Cullen Bryant

“God has cared for these trees, saved them from drought, disease, avalanches, and a thousand tempests and floods.  But he cannot save them from fools.”   John Muir

“For in the true nature of things, if we rightly consider, every green tree is far more glorious than if it were made of gold and silver.”    Martin Luther

“There is always Music amongst the trees in the Garden, but out hearts must be very quiet to hear it.”   Minnie Aumonier

“The tree is more than first a seed, then a stem, then a living trunk, and then dead timber.  The tree is a slow, enduring force straining to win the sky.”   Antoine de Saint-Exupery

“It is not so much for its beauty that the forest makes a claim upon men’s hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air, that emanation for old trees, that so wonderfully changes and renews a weary spirit.”   Robert Louis Stevenson

“He who plans a tree plants a hope.”  Lucy Larcom

“The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit.”   Nelson Henderson

“Trees are the earth’s endless effort to speak to the listening heaven.”  Rabindranath Tagore

“If you would know strength and patience, welcome the company of trees.”   Hal Borland

“A tree never hits an automobile except in self defense.”   American Proverb

“Only when the last tree has died and the last river has been poisoned and the last fish has been caught will we realize we cannot eat money.”   Cree Proverb

“God writes the Gospel not in the Bible alone, but also on trees and in the flowers and clouds and stars.”   Martin Luther

“I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes.”   e. e. cummings

“The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.”   John Muir

“A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself.  Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people.”   Franklin D. Roosevelt

“The trees are God’s great alphabet:  With them He writes in shining green across the world His thoughts serene.”   Leonora Speyer


(Pun intended, sorry!)

 Science Kids

North Carolina State University

Trees Are Good

Travel Theme: Birds (A Few of My Favorite Things)

Where’s My Backpack? is the blog that hosts a weekly travel theme.  This week, the travel theme is BIRDS.  The following is my submission on this theme.  To see how others have responded, visit Travel Theme: Birds.

Birds: A Few of My Favorite Things

I have always liked birds, but I became a “birder” when I moved to Corpus Christi, Texas, and a friend introduced me to bird watching.  With binoculars and field guide in hand, I would catalog the birds I saw.  My life list back then had more than 100 birds recorded.  Eventually I drifted away from taking official birding trips and stopped adding new entries to my life list.  But I still love birds and notice them wherever I go.  And I delight when I see a new species for the first time. 

Western Gull, Monterey, CA

Western Gull, Monterey, CA

laughing gulls 2aMy favorite birds from living in South Texas were Laughing Gulls.  They are not very unique down there, but they were different than the gulls from Southern California.  Besides, their name was apt:  their calls really did sound like they were laughing and cackling and chortling.  Every time I would travel to Padre Island, flocks of Laughing Gulls would come around, looking for popcorn or chips.  They were always quite fun!  And if we did not feed them quickly enough, they would dive bomb us. They would even invade the blankets when we looked away, pulling things apart looking for food.  

This video lets you hear them laughing!

laughing gulls 3

feeding gulls

I also used to travel quite frequently to Ashland, Oregon.  And when I did I would always visit Lithia Park.  It is a great city park with a babbling brook, hiking trails, and gorgeous trees and flowers.  It also was home to some swans and a variety of ducks.  I was especially intrigued by the Mute Swans, noting that they reportedly mated for life. Although the specific swans have changed over time, Mute Swans have been a part of the park’s Upper Duck Pond for at least 70 years. 

Here are some photos of the Mute Swans from one of my visits:


swan side view

swan wings

swan upclose

The Mallards and Wood Ducks visit Lithia Park often as well:

female mallard


wood duck

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 “I once had a sparrow alight upon my shoulder for a moment, while I was hoeing in a village garden, and I felt that I was more distinguished by that circumstance than I should have been by any epaulet I could have worn.”   Henry David Thoreau

 “Use what talents you possess: the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best.”    Henry Van Dyke

 “No bird soars too high if he soars with his own wings.”   William Blake

 “In order to see birds it is necessary to become a part of the silence.”  Robert Lynd

 “I don’t feed the birds because they need me; I feed the birds because I need them.”  Kathi Hutton

“Birds have done great jobs for the progression of humanity:  They kept alive our love for freedom and they insistently motivated us to reach the skies, to reach the stars!”  Mehmet Murat ildan

“I hope you love birds too.  It is economical.  It saves going to heaven.”  Emily Dickinson

TOPIC S Santa: One of the True Spirits of the Season

santa kneelingDon’t get me wrong.  I am not saying that Santa is the reason for the season.  The birth of Jesus Christ and the love, hope and forgiveness that brings is the reason for Christmas.  That glorious birth is why we celebrate.  If the love and hope of the season could be shared and experienced every day, this world would be a better place.  Merry Christmas!

Still, Santa is associated with Christmas.  He is a secular symbol that helps spread the good cheer of this holiday.  Santa’s roots stretch back to a 4th century Greek priest, St. Nicholas, who was known for giving secret gifts.  But today, when the image of Santa comes to mind, most westerners see a big guy in a red suit with a hearty laugh and big belly.  He is cheerful, friendly and generous.       

One of Rockwell's Views of Santa

One of Rockwell’s Views of Santa

Coco Cola's Santa

Coco Cola’s Santa

This view of Santa has evolved over time.  Washington Irving mentions St. Nicholas in print in 1812.  Clement Moore wrote “Visit from St. Nicholas” in 1822.  Norman Rockwell started drawing his various views of Santa about 1920.  In 1931, Hanlon Sundblom was commissioned by Coca Cola to present Santa in its holiday advertising.  Some variation of this view of Santa—as a real person not someone in a costume—has become the norm since then.  

What bothered me this year was the claim by some news commentators that Santa must be a white man.  There is even a report that a teacher told a student to take off a Santa hat because the kid was black and thus could not be Santa.  Come again?!  People making such judgments have got to be crazy. Santa is not somehow exclusive to only a few.  Santa is goodness, kindness, generosity and hope. That he is often dressed in a red suit is not really the point.  Santa represents the magic and wonder of the season—and is not limited to any one literal person.  This view is not a new revelation.  The New York Sun Editorial shared the truth about Santa in the now famous “Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus” back in 1897.  Just the other day, A Frank Angle did a great job adding to the commentary.  

For me, the truth is that Santa exists!  No, not as a literal person. And no, not as the guy dressed in a red suit and playing Santa at parties and street corners throughout December.  Santa is the secular image of Christmas, but he is also so much more than that.  Santa is a symbol of love and hope, an encouragement of generosity and kindness, a belief in magic and tradition and sharing.  As a kid, it is fun to believe in Santa and to watch expectantly for his arrival.  Slouching towards Thatcham offers a great post on what this expectation looks like in the 21st century.

Once the truth about the presents being delivered all over the world in one night becomes known, Santa still exists.  At that point, the older kids get to help keep the secret for their younger siblings and friends.  That is fun too.  And eventually, as adults, many of us take on the role of Santa. For me, the most fun of Christmas has always been playing Santa for my parents and other special people in my life.  But the manifestation of Santa is not just at Christmas.  There is a little bit of Santa in every donation to Salvation Army, in every helpful hand offered by the Red Cross, in every comfort provided via churches and synagogues and mosques across the land, in every random act of kindness perpetrated to friends and strangers.

The Spirit of Santa is in all of us, or at least could be if we choose to embrace love and hope and magic.  Santa is not limited by race or nationality.  Santa can be young or old, male or female, and any color of the rainbow.  Santa does not even have to wear a red suit and say, “Ho, Ho, Ho!”  All Santa has to do is be loving and caring and generous. Santa encourages all of us to be good all year long.  Santa reminds us there is wonder and love in the world.  If more of us would believe in Santa and act accordingly, the world would be a better place. 

Besides, as one sign I’ve seen advertised states:  

santa underwear

I believe!  I believe!  How about you?

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 Merry Christmas!  May Santa live through you throughout the new year!

You Can’t Buy Christmas!

NOTE:  This is a post for those of my readers who celebrate Christmas!  For everyone else, “Happy Holidays!” 

You Can’t Buy Christmas!

I love Christmas.  The joy, the wonder, the fun of the season.  Putting out the decorations. Practicing family traditions. Singing Christmas carols. Attending a candlelight service. Spending time with family and friends. Wishing for peace for one and all.  Telling all my friends—regardless of their faith—“Happy Holidays!”

But I am weary too. 

Advertising has been attacking on all levels—mail, online, radio, television—since October.  Crazy sales encourage people to buy more, spend more.  Shopping seems to overtake the lives of so many, especially since Black Friday and the all-hours-special-deals that continue on, every day.  Many are buying gifts because they feel obligated, not to show their care for those special to them.  Christmas carols blare from speakers everywhere, and some radio stations are reaching the stage where some play holiday tunes 24 hours a day.  Christmas movies lose something when they are played over and over and over again for weeks and weeks before the holiday.  All this hectic commotion inevitably triggers editorials and news stories complaining that people are saying “Season’s Greetings!” instead of “Merry Christmas!” Others complain that some government officials put up a holiday tree, not a Christmas tree.

Somehow, I do not think God really cares what seasonal greeting we utter, if it comes from the heart with the true intention of sharing the love, hope, and seasonal lessons of tolerance.  I also bet He is rather dismayed by the onslaught of commercials and sales that seem to bring out the worst in people.  How can all that hawking of the season be celebrating Christmas?  Instead, all this focus on commercialism is overwhelming.  For me, it undermines the true meaning of Christmas as it seems to forget the wonder, joy and fun of the season.

Two years ago, Pope Benedict lamented the loss of the Christmas Spirit as well:  “Today Christmas has become a commercial celebration, whose bright lights hide the mystery of God’s humility. . . . Let us ask the Lord to help us see through the superficial glitter of this season, and to discover behind it the child in the stable in Bethlehem, so as to find true joy and true light. . . . Let us strip away our fixation on what is material, on what can be measured and grasped.”

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I really love Christmas.  I give presents and watch the same special movies every year.  I hold an Open House and enjoy seeing family and friends to celebrate the season.  I don’t bake, but I love that my sister does.  I do have special goodies that are part the annual celebration—and I eat too much.  I love when I find the right gift for someone special.  I hum Christmas songs throughout the day—and read special Christmas stories at night.  Some years I even send Christmas cards.

Merry Christmas

But I also need to remind myself each year to slow down, to focus on the message of the season not the trappings, and to really appreciate the Christmas lessons of love and hope.  I need to re-learn each year the lesson Grinch stumbles upon at the end of his story:  “Christmas doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more.”

So, right now, with a little more than a week until Christmas, my gift to you is a reminder to slow down and enjoy the holiday.  Hug those you love—and tell them you love them.  Put more time into being with your family than in shopping for them.  Have fun.  Marvel at the promise of the season.  Really celebrating Christmas is the best gift of all.

This first video can be reached via the following link.  It is really fun–these kids will help you remember the fun of the season.    A Great Lip Syncing Performance


Part of a Great Community (blogging award)


I feel truly blessed.  I started my blog several years ago and was immediately impressed with the caring and support that were evident as part of the WordPress blogging community.  I follow many fellow bloggers and appreciate those who follow me as well.  I have been given blogging awards in the past and was even fresh pressed onceLast month, I was honored again when Fat Purple Figs named me a recipient of the Liebester Award.    

liebester award

This award is dedicated to building the blogging community by showcasing blogs that are valued and visited, so others can discover them as well.  If you have not visited Fat Purple Figs yet, please do so as she shares some creative and thoughtful comments about life.  As a nominee for the Liebester Award, I need to answer questions, share some facts about myself, and name eleven other bloggers as nominees. 


1.  What’s in a name…tell me about the name of your blog and what/who inspired it?

My blog’s name—Learn More Everyday—is actually the theme for my life.  I have always considered myself a life-long learner and encouraged learning in others.  In fact, I have been involved in education my whole life, first as a student, then as a teacher and administrator.  However, I always recognized that the best learning takes place everywhere, not just in the classroom.  You can learn from experience, people, books, problems, opportunities, everything!  In fact, if you stop learning, you stop living life to the fullest.  Thus, my motto:  Learn More Everyday!

2.  Do you blog anonymously or openly under your name? Why did you make that choice?

I blog openly under my name.  I am basically a private person, so the decision to blog included some thought about what sorts of things I would write about.  If anything were so private that I would consider not attaching my name, then it would not be something I would post at all.

3.  Is your blog secret from your friends and family? Why did you make that choice?

My blog is not a secret from anyone.  Most of my close friends and family know about my blog and read it, at least occasionally.  If others do not, it is their choice not my decision to keep my blog a secret.  Since I am not writing anything that is incredibly private, I welcome anyone to read my blog and see any photos I post.  I include a link to my blog as part of my signature line on my email, so anyone I communicate with can decide to explore my blog or not.

4.  What is your favorite word and why?

When I was nine years old and saw Mary Poppins for the first time my favorite word was Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. Heck, I even knew the lyrics for all three verses!  But now that I am older and maybe a little wiser, I have a simpler view of the world.  Now, I cannot help but think how much better off our world would be if we all practiced a little more kindness everyday.  Thus, my favorite word is KINDNESS.

5.  What is your least favorite word and why?

Well, this is not an easy question.  I think, for me, it is a tie:  HATRED & IGNORANCE.  Many of the problems in our world—prejudice, intolerance, injustice, even war—are often an outcome of hatred or ignorance.

6.  What is your favorite smell and why?

The lovely fragrance of fresh flowers always catches my attention, especially lilacs now because those flowers remind me of my mom. Or at this time of year, burning leaves, a Christmas tree, or even the waft of cinnamon from a fresh-baked apple pie are welcomed scents. However, freshly baked bread is still my favorite, as of today anyway.

7.  What is your least favorite smell and why?

Several smells compete for this title too.  A kid’s poopy diapers, a wet dirty dog or a dead fish that is a bit too old are smells I try to avoid.  But the worst is burned popcorn!

8.  What is your favorite taste and why?

A good quality piece of sweet and luscious dark chocolate as it slowly melts in my mouth.  Yummy!

9.  What is your least favorite taste and why?

Well, people who know me might think that my answer would be bananas or peas, because I really do hate eating those.  But it is as much the texture of those items combined with the taste that has them on my do-not-eat list.  But others are even worse:  cod liver oil, the taste of a fish oil capsule when it breaks open in your mouth, that chalky junk you need to drink in the hospital before tests are run, liver and onions even though I like onions!  I am not sure which is the worst.  You pick one.

10.  Who you are you when are not blogging?

I think who I am in my blog is basically who I am.  I am always an educator—it is just a habit of mind to seek out learning and to encourage it in others.  But I am also a friend, daughter, sister, niece, lover of animals and nature, and a helper whenever possible.  I am also a reader, writer, photographer, teacher, and a care giver.  I think these different aspects of myself surface periodically in my blog.

11.  Tell me a secret that nobody would know about you?

Well, it is not a secret really, as some folks know about it.  But it is not something I scream from the roof tops or write about on my blog.  The last 3.5 years have been a challenge for many reasons, including long term recovery from surgery and the death of my mother.  But these years have also been a challenge financially.  But matters are improving, I avoided bankruptcy, am expecting a great 2014, and am better able to give gifts and donations this holiday season.  So I am very grateful—the last three plus years make me value the good times right now even more!

HERE ARE ELEVEN OTHER THINGS YOU MIGHT NOT KNOW ABOUT ME, shared in no special order.  Please note that no one said you wanted to know these things:

1.  Some days, I get my news from The Daily Show and The Colbert Report.  Well, and sometimes The Onion.  Not so good, I know—but at least the news is not so depressing that way.  A little saving grace: At least they are not my only sources for a full week! 

2.  I recently took a Quiz that answered the question, “How Millenial Are You?”  I am not sure what it means, but my score on a 1-100 scale was 54. 

3.  I watch TV too much.  Well, I have it on a lot, always have, ever since I was a kid and enjoyed watching it in the afternoons after school.  But even now, as an adult, if I am home, the set is on.  I do not literally watch it all the time, but I like the sound of it and use it as background for whatever else I am doing. 

4.  I like science fiction enough to watch (and enjoy!) tacky movies such as Godzilla and The Adventures of Buckaroo Bonzai across the 8th Dimension.  A few weeks ago I even watched the end of Star Trek: The Movie.  Now, that’s pretty bad!

5.  Unlike Penny from The Big Bang Theory who exclaims there is no difference between Star Trek and Star Wars, I prefer Star Trek.  In fact, lately I have been watching episodes of Star Trek Voyager every night on my Kindle, to help me fall asleep. 

6.  Eating healthy all the time is not easy!  Are we sure that bacon, pizza, ice cream, and fried chicken are not recommended food groups? After all, wine and dark chocolate are really good for us, right?  I think the scientists are keeping things from us again.

7.  Back in May, I started teaching writing part-time for the American Public University System. I am loving it.  Well, not the grading so much, but the interaction with students again, so directly, is marvelous.  It is enough fun that I am figuring I will keep at it even though I am officially contemplating early retirement. 

8.  I love Christmas and pull out decorations each year, but I have not put up a tree since my tree and lots of ornaments were damaged in the Northridge Earthquake (January 17, 1994).  Yeah, my tree was still up!  What’s it to you?! 

9.  I like playing games.  I am also fairly tech-savvy.  Still, the only electronic game I play is Solitaire.  It is much better than having to re-shuffle the deck all the time.   

10.  It seemed like a simple little task at first.  I needed to move and box and sort my books, so I could replace two of my bookcases with better ones, albeit one that were a bit smaller.  But then I found books I had not touched in about 30 years, and it seemed easy enough to give some away.  Well, I ended up giving away 20 boxes of books!  OMG.  I still have five bookcases full of books, and my kindle is filling up quickly.  I prefer to think that the books I gave away are really just finding new homes, as well as raising some money for the library via an upcoming Friends of the Library sale.  My home seems a little bit empty at times, but I am adjusting.

11.  Christmas is coming!  And the holidays are enhanced with all the great songs celebrating the joy of the season.  When I was 12, Christmas with Ed Ames was my favorite album.  Somehow—even back then—I really loved that a Jewish guy who played a Cherokee called Mingo on the television show Daniel Boone had created a terrific Christmas album.  “The Ballad of the Christmas Donkey” is still one of my favorites!


As Fat Purple Figs’ nomination blog explains, there are a couple rules involved with this Liebester Award:

As Nominees, if you “choose to play along, then please include the award photo in your post, answer the eleven questions I ask you below, share eleven other facts about yourself, nominate eleven bloggers for the award, and give them eleven questions to answer. If you don’t want to participate, that is fine. Just know that I am so grateful to have found all of your blogs.” If you do participate, provide a link back to the blogger who nominated you when you share the answers and comments that will help others get to know you a bit better.

I follow many, many blogs.  Some I found when I first started blogging and enjoy them whenever they post, no matter how frequently.  Others I find as each week brings me new visitors and comments on other posts as well as fresh-pressed picks.  Not every blogger will accept nomination, and that is okay.  What matters is that others may find their way to these blogs for a visit because of the nomination.  Enjoy!

In no special order, here are my nominees:

A Frank Angle, always thoughtful, provocative and funny with thoughts on science and religion as well as great videos and post series.

Around Dusty Roads, shares travel memories of locations near and far.

Flourish!  gives a positive view on life.

The Lantern Room, shares some great photos that help you see the wonder that is always there but often overlooked.

The Monster in Your Closet, thoughtful, insightful, and never afraid to tackle topics that touch on social concerns with compassion and courage.

Slouching towards Thatcham, provides insights of a proud dad watching his kids grow up as well as some thoughtful reviews of television and film.

de Wets Wild, offers great nature shots of animals in the wild from someone who cares.

Year-Struck, insights on life that are witty and thoughtful and always make me smile

Coming East, insights on life and family disguised as musings on everyday matters

Tricia Booker Photography, terrific photography of horses, nature, and her son

Explore Newness, some tips on how to add a fresh outlook or activity into your life


  1. What’s in a name?  Tell me about the name of your blog and what/who inspired it?
  2. How do you quickly describe your blog to others?  You know, the elevator talk for your blog.
  3. Do you have any tricks or tips that help keep you writing every day/week/whenever?  If so, please share some advice.
  4. When not blogging, what do you do?
  5. One way I try to find balance in my life is to keep a gratitude journal.  It keeps me focused on the good around me.  How do you maintain balance/sanity in life?  Share some advice for the rest of us!
  6. What is your favorite or least favorite book, and why?
  7. What is your favorite or least favorite movie or television show, and why?
  8. What was your favorite or least favorite birthday present, and why?
  9. What is your favorite or least favorite food, and why?
  10. What is your favorite or least favorite animal, and why?
  11. What is your favorite or least favorite anything, and why?  You know, keep this mini-series going.






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