SYW: Breakfast, Clever Answers to Mindless Questions, and Cat Preferences

Monday = Melanie’s Share Your World! I haven’t posted much lately, but I always look for Share Your World!


This week’s questions:

Is cereal soup? Why or why not?

What an odd question! Of course cereal isn’t soup, unless you like soggy cereal drowning in a bowl of milk! Actually, I rarely eat cereal with milk anymore – I usually use yogurt instead. I have cereal with fruit & yogurt for breakfast a few days a week. Soup makes a good lunch in the winter. Another difference between soup and cereal is that usually cereal has some sort of sweetness to it, while soup tends to be salty.

What are some interesting ways to answer everyday questions like “how’s it going” or “what do you do”?

How’s it going? “Going? Going where?”
What do you do? “Lots of things – eat, sleep, make love, read, exercise, go to work, sleep late, travel. Which one are you asking about?” (I might select a couple of these depending on my mood.)

But I never have a clever response to anything like that – I don’t think of clever things on the spur of the moment; sometimes I come up with a good response an hour later when I’m in my car. However, I do want to be honest sometimes when someone asks me, “How are you?” I usually say, “fine and you?” But what if I said something like, “I feel like sh** this morning, how about you?” I mean, do people really want to know how it’s going or how I am? It’s just a mindless greeting. I prefer greeting people with a smile and “hello!”

What was your favorite toy growing up?

It wasn’t really a toy. Paper and crayons/pencils. I always loved to draw, and I would write and illustrate little books. As I got older, I preferred journaling or writing romantic stories, but added drawings as well.

If you have a pet, and you could ask it three questions, what would you ask?
Every animal has its own personality and preferences, and Hazel is no exception! I would like to ask her about some of her idiosyncratic preferences:

  1. What makes you choose one place over another to take your many cat naps?
  2. You change your mind so often regarding what food you prefer, so what kind of cat food do you really like? (I know what people food you like!)
  3. Why do you only want to sleep between Dale’s legs when he’s sitting on the recliner (and not when I’m there) but in bed, you always sleep between my legs and not his?
Hazel sleeping blissfully on my bathrobe (which is soft and plush)

Attitude of Gratitude Section (Always Optional)

What’s one simple thing society at large could do to improve our world? Wear a mask and believe what doctors tell you!

Selfie: Dale & I wore our masks at Millennium Park.

CFFC: What Noses Smell

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week continues with the senses. This week it is the sense of smell.

Swan noses are two thin parallel slits on their bills.
Cows smell the grass and feed they eat.
20191127_145217 (2)
Cats’ noses…
20200125_191913smell everything they encounter as they explore anything new….
…a birthday cake or
…someone’s jacket.
Cats are especially attracted to the smell of catnip, a plant in the mint family with a pungent smell. Pet stores sell little toys stuffed with catnip – Hazel’s was a carrot that we tied to her scratching post. Catnip is the marijuana of catdom!!
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Noses may be displayed in artwork, such as on this tapestry entitled “Processional Nose” at the Eye Film Museum in Amsterdam.
Human noses…

are also attracted to certain smells. Some research indicates that humans may choose their mates by the person’s smell (unconsciously, of course).

What could be more wonderfully sweet than the smell of lilacs in spring?
Many flowers have a pleasant fragrance, perhaps to attract pollinators.
Spices also have strong smells.
A smell unpleasant to most people is cigarette smoke – yet smokers and those who live with them don’t smell it at all! Their noses are desensitized to the smell that permeates everything they own. (This photo courtesy of Google Images)
Delaware moves closer to raising smoking age to 21 - WHYY
However, we associate some smoke smells with family barbecues.
20170710_192031Like certain songs, many odors, such as smelling a certain cuisine, can invoke memories. Many foods have strong smells, whether one appreciates them or not.
What smells can you conjure up looking at these photos?
Words associated with smell include:  smell, stink, odor, rotten eggs, fragrance, perfume, scent, aroma, smoky, musty, garlicky, acrid, reek, funky, malodorous, fetid, whiff, inhale, putrid, rancid, stench, odoriferous, sweet-smelling, flowery, redolent, pungent, bouquet, balm, savory, spicy. (Notice how many words we have for bad smells, less for good smells!)

April Squares 26: Hippos

The countdown continues for wrapping up Becky’s April Squares with the subject top.

When hippos are submerged in the water, which is much of the day, only the tops of their heads and noses stick out of the water – they have to breathe, after all! Sometimes, though, you just see the top of their backs making them look like rocks! At hippo pools there are generally a great number congregated and submerged in this way.
Mama hippo and baby!
Which are rocks and which are hippos??

Lens-Artists #90: Distance

Lens-Artists #90 photo challenge invites us to explore the theme of distance, especially the ways in which we are practicing physical distance from our friends and neighbors: we are all in this together despite needing to avoid each other physically. Please share with us the creative ways you’ve found to address your need to connect while keeping your distance. Have you found interesting and productive ways to pass the time? Are you enjoying comics/funny stories or do you find the situation too serious for jokes? The Lens-Artists team hopes our weekly challenge brings at least a small opportunity to look away from the news for a bit to connect with the rest of us. We look forward to hearing your thoughts and seeing your Distance images – whether related to the COVID-19 crisis or not. Be sure to link to my original post, and to use the Lens-Artists TAG. 

I have chosen photos I have taken in my restricted universe this month. Since my husband and I live in a senior community, we have certain advantages, such as meals delivered to our door, and a nice campus where we can walk and appreciate nature. My favorite thing to do is to walk over to the two ponds (here referred to by the unimaginative names of “East Lake” and “West Lake”) to watch the swans. Every year, two pairs of swans are brought here in March to mate, nest, and raise their young. They are taken back in October, when their cygnets are grown. They are brought here partly to scare off the Canada geese, which some do more aggressively than others.


Watching the swans on East Lake from a distance.

Keeping one’s distance from a swan:


The swans on West Lake are more interesting to watch. Here the male approaches the shore to threaten a goose to stay away. He puffs up his wings to look bigger and therefore, more threatening. The goose did not dare come any nearer. 

One day residents were invited to sing patriotic songs outside next to West Lake. A lot of the staff was there and some residents came out on their balconies to sing along. Those of us physically present tried to keep about 6 feet from others. I prefer to call it “physical distancing” rather than “social distancing” because we are still social! The times we look forward to are taking walks and encountering others doing the same thing, so we are able to socialize with our friends. It is our only substitute for the camaraderie we shared at the dining hall, the fitness center and the many activities normally offered here.
Since all activities are cancelled, the staff has started a daily schedule of fitness classes, meditation, a morning meeting, spiritual programs, and video programs on the two closed-circuit TV stations, now called WAMS. Sometimes these are videos they’ve strung together, such as short clips of dogs and babies or sports bloopers, and last week our music director played a piano concert.

The biggest treat was yesterday, when they broadcast a recording of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra performing Beethoven’s 9th symphony. Sublime!

Because of the opportunity to go outside and take walks, and the connection with others via video or phone calls, I don’t feel cooped up — thank God this didn’t happen in January when it was often too cold to go out!! Also, I have my blog, I read, I finished a photo book of our trip to Israel last year, and keep busy with other projects. This afternoon, my writing group had a virtual meeting via Zoom. Also, I do feel we are all in this together – not just here, but all over the U.S. and the world! We will get through this!

I have a feeling, though, that this forced isolation will get tedious by the middle of April. And it will probably be May, at least, before we can get our normal lives back. But the one being in our house who loves that we are home all the time is our cat, Hazel!

Tanzania Safari: Out at Sunrise on a Windy, Dusty Day

Feb. 10, 2018

We had an early morning departure on our game drive this morning – 6:30 with no breakfast. We’d take boxed breakfasts to eat during the drive. Because we were up before dawn, we saw a lovely sunrise.1024.JPG


Vehicle tracks crisscrossing an open area with Lake Ndutu in the distance, as the sun rises.

We were with Livingstone again and only five passengers. Three members of our group had left even earlier to go ballooning over the Serengeti (cost: $616 each!). This morning’s drive was somewhat disappointing. I guess I shouldn’t complain about seeing 2 male lions, …


This lion didn’t seem to mind the dust stirred up by wind and a vehicle driving by.


Although Lake Ndutu wasn’t far off, the injured lion decided to stop for a drink at a muddy waterhole.

…several zebras, …


A group of zebras, consisting of a female with two foals, were standing near the watering hole – they seemed thirsty but didn’t dare approach while the lion was there.

… 4 female lions,


This lioness satisfied her thirst and then walked over to a field to join her sisters.


Three lioness sisters


One of the lionesses rolled over in the grass to scratch her back.


Aaahhh! That feels good!


sisterly love

SONY DSC…a cheetah running away in the distance, wildebeest, and several birds.


Mother zebra (who appears to be pregnant) and her foal




Common drango


Marabou storks

It was quite windy and therefore quite dusty on the roads. David remarked that the weather resembled the dry season. Besides the lions, zebras and wildebeest herds, we saw a gouged out dead zebra (even the vultures had left). SONY DSCThen David received over the radio a report that the balloon trip had been cancelled because it was too windy. We turned back toward the lodge to pick up the three who had returned to the lodge. Only one of the three ended up coming with us, and out we went again.  The wind continued strong, and we kept the windows closed most of the time, although the top was open.

We rendezvoused with the others and had our breakfast in a field free of predators. 2-10 picnic breakfast
A few female elephants with young calves crossed our path.


The elephants like to stir up the dust. Sometimes they spray dust on themselves, possibly to get rid of insects.


Foraging elephant calf



This calf tries to catch up with mama.


He found her!

Soon I found myself just wanting to return to the lodge. The wind and the dust were too much. Livingstone was driving rather slowly – probably being cautious due to low visibility because of the dust – and it seemed we’d never get back. Was he even on his way back? It was past 11:00.

We got back around noon (we actually got back before Elias’ group) and met up with those who stayed behind in the lounge area, engaged with their electronics. We had lunch at 1:00 pm, during which we had an interesting conversation about haiku, the end of the trip, and American politics. There is not a single Trump supporter in our group. We are all progressive Democrats! Afterwards, we returned to our cabin.

I took a shower, washing off all the dust from my body and my hair. Tonight I’ll wear clean clothes. I decided not to go on the 4:00 pm drive today!

What I did do was finish the drawing I had started the previous afternoon in my Mindful Travel Journal. I sat on the little veranda of our cabin in my purple bathrobe with my colored pencils spilled out on the chair beside me. Dale was off somewhere or taking a nap.Sketch - in front of cabin at Ndutu Safari Lodge

Predators and Prey in Ndutu-Serengeti

Feb. 9, 2018

The first thing I saw this morning was a yellow weaver tending to his nest, just outside the main building at Ndutu Safari Lodge.

Yellow weaver finishing its nest

On our morning drive, we saw some lions – first a female pair, one of whom is pregnant and the other wears a collar. There is an interesting story about this 5-year-old lioness. SONY DSCLast July, on the Internet there was a story of a leopard cub being nursed by a lioness as if it were her own. The lioness lived in the Southern Serengeti and was tagged – it was the one we saw today! SONY DSCI didn’t hear any details about the story, but apparently the leopard cub had lost her mother and the lioness had lost her cubs, because she was lactating. So the handlers gave the leopard cub to the lioness to nurse, which she readily accepted.

The pregnant lioness, probably the sister (litter mate) of the other


The pregnant lioness’s face was covering in tiny flies, which she made no attempt to bat away. Right after I took this picture, she lay down on her side, the bugs still crawling on her face!

After we moved on, we saw several other animals – some predators and some prey – including buffalo,

a group of male Grant’s gazelles,

two gazelles sparring

some zebras,

SONY DSCand a martial eagle in a tree.SONY DSC
Not long after seeing the lionesses, we came upon some male lions. One was a mature adult with a full mane, SONY DSC
while the other two were young – one of them had a mane which still amounted to little more than some extra tufts of hair on his neck. These two were most likely brothers – lions often hang around with their litter mates; the brothers cooperate in seeking prey and guarding territory. They were just lying around, same as the females – they may have gotten a meal during the night.SONY DSC
And speaking of meals, we next encountered a pair of jackals,SONY DSCand a group of hyenas.SONY DSC

This many hyenas together generally indicates that there is a possible meal nearby, and soon afterward, we came upon a large group of vultures, so we knew they were feeding – or about to feed – on carrion. SONY DSC

Actually, all these animals were waiting their turn, because a Marabou stork was picking the last meat off the bones.
SONY DSCProbably a young wildebeest, Livingstone said. All that was left was a skull picked clean and a rib cage the birds were getting the last morsels of meat off of. Then the bones would be left to dry up, adding to the scattered bones that litter the area.

The animals that feed on carrion definitely have a pecking order, although the major spoils go to whichever animal found it first. Soon we came across a couple of hyenas eating the remains of a young wildebeest, with the buzzards waiting impatiently nearby.SONY DSC
Whenever the hyenas took a break from eating, the vultures moved in. SONY DSCOne of the hyenas finally got tired of this and yanked the carcass away and had its fill. SONY DSC

SONY DSCWhen it was done, the hyena simply walked off, and the vultures took over to pick the remains clean. SONY DSC

SONY DSCThe afternoon drive was very different and at times a bit scary, at least for me. We were with Livingstone again but with different people in the truck with us.

There was more evidence of death: a half-eaten zebra surrounded by vultures and a Marabou stork, who apparently had had their fill, letting the jackals move in.

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Here on the southern Serengeti we saw large herds of migrating wildebeest. Those at a distance looked like an army of ants moving along in a line.
We saw a herd much closer, walking on the shore of Lake Ndutu.

SONY DSCThe lake was in their migratory path, so they would eventually have to cross it, many accompanied by their young alongside them. They chose a relatively shallow area to cross.SONY DSC
Even so, some of the calves, in spite of their mothers’ proddings, would probably not make it – either getting lost in the crowd, unable to keep up with the herd or make it across the water.   Finally, late in the day, we saw a wildebeest calf, abandoned and alone. There was no sign of the herd. We knew that calf would not live to see morning.
SONY DSCWe search for, hoped to see leopards. Where would a leopard be in late afternoon? In a tall tree, high up – it would need a strong, thick branch that was more or less horizontal.

Meanwhile, I added to my list of animals I have seen: two owls in a tree, making low, short hoo-hoo sounds; SONY DSCan eland close-up;SONY DSChippos out of the water and close enough to see their faces;

and various other birds.


Secretary bird

I think Livingstone got lost or tried to take too many shortcuts – he not only cut across flat plains, but also down washes and up the other side, rocky banks, over thorny bushes. Every time we approached some harrowing driving challenge, I held on tight and tried to look away. At first it was funny, but eventually I became annoyed. All this extreme bumping and jostling was not good for my sensitive stomach right now. 987.JPG
I trusted his driving skills, just felt that it was unnecessary to do so much off-road jostling and bumping.

But then as the sun began to go down, I realized he was in a hurry – we were supposed to be out of the reserve by sundown. I think we made it with only a couple of minutes to spare!SONY DSC

Coming up: More of the beautiful wildlife around Lake Ndutu in the Southern  Serengeti!

Tanzania: Twiga* Time!

Feb. 8, 2018

We left Ngorongoro Crater, driving around the south and west of its rim, on our way to Ndutu Lake and the southern Serengeti, passing several Maasai villages along the way.

On our way to Olduvai Gorge (see my post dated April 3), we came across some giraffes and zebras on an embankment.2-8 giraffe
This female bends her long neck to reach the tender leaves of a small tree.
She splays her legs a bit to reach down to the grass.
She gets a good mouthful and chews!
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Meanwhile, a male giraffe grazes nearby.SONY DSC
Another female doesn’t appear to notice the male coming toward her, but looks up at us.dsc04083.jpgOf course she knows he’s behind her.  Perhaps she’s being coy.SONY DSCIt’s clear he has something other than grazing in mind.SONY DSCHe gives her a little nuzzle.SONY DSC
He decides to try his luck – now is his moment!
Alas, he was unable to finish – the female moved away!

A little later, we saw a group of females with one calf (walking behind its mother).
I hope you have enjoyed this little story of the giraffes!

I’d never heard the sound a giraffe makes, have you? Click here to watch a short video.

*Twiga – Swahili word meaning “giraffe.”





New Life and Danger in Ngorongoro

Feb. 7, 2018

705The wildebeests (also known as gnus) in the crater don’t take the long migration of the Serengeti, but they’re always on the move to find better grassland. Large herds of them migrate from one side of the crater to another. Most of the time, you also see zebras migrating alongside the wildebeest herds. They have a mutually beneficial relationship with the wildebeest – the zebras can remember the route, while the wildebeest can smell water.SONY DSCIt’s calving season and many wildebeest females had newborn calves alongside them – the mother of this newborn was still expelling the afterbirth.SONY DSCAnother one gave birth (we could see its legs hanging down) in a field near the road. DSC03898 (2)There seemed to be a sort of “gnu nursery” over there, where several newborns were either lying down or trying out their legs. SONY DSC

SONY DSCThe newborn we’d seen being born tried to nurse, but his mother wouldn’t let him – she kept nudging him forward to get him to walk. SONY DSCShe knew there was danger nearby: several hyenas lurked on a hillside, keeping their eyes on the herd for easy prey.
2-7 hyenasA short time later, several hyenas passed us, two with traces of blood on their muzzles and paws – they’d had their meal!

We saw two kinds of gazelles – Thomson’s gazelles are the smallest …SONY DSC

SONY DSCand Grant’s gazelles are larger, about the size of impalas.
SONY DSCGazelles are a subgroup of antelope in which both male and female have horns. That is how you know impalas are not gazelles.  Another non-gazelle antelope is the eland, quite a bit larger than impalas.


Other animals besides hyenas, gnus and lions that were sighted today: a couple of rhinos  way far off; rhinos tend to stay away from the roads and other animals.
hippos, foraging on land…SONY DSC
but mostly submerged in the water – we could see their snouts when they came up for air.
Baglafecht weavers, who tried to steal our food while we were having a picnic lunch…
SONY DSC..and a jackal finishing off a meal with her pups.


En Route to Ngorongoro Crater

Feb. 6, 2018



Me relaxing on the porch of our tent-cabin at Tarangire Safari Lodge the previous day


After breakfast at Tarangire Safari Lodge, we departed for the three hour drive to Ngorongoro Conservation Area. We passed Lake Manyara, through the towns of Mto-wa-Mbu and Karatu, then stopped to pay our fees to enter the conservation area. We had boxed lunches that had been prepared by the staff at Tarangire Safari Lodge, which we would eat once we got into Ngorongoro Crater.

2-6 market outside Arusha

Market in one of the towns



Native arts & crafts for sale




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Sign in Hebrew (unusual in Tanzania!), which means Shalom (peace).


2-6 candelabra succulent

This large succulent is called “candelabra.”



These baboons were alongside the road near one of the towns. The female is grooming the male by picking little insects and burrs from his nether parts – note the look of relief on his face! I imagine him saying, “Ahhhh!”



Male baby baboon nearby examines a branch.

We were to spend four days in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, two of them at Ngorongoro Crater. This was the most scenic area on our safari.







2-6 view of bottom of Ngorongoro Crater

Scenic look-out on the rim of Ngorongoro Crater

SONY DSCAccording to Wikipedia, the crater was formed when a large volcano caved in on itself two to three million years ago. Fossil evidence at nearby Oldupai Gorge suggests that hominid species have occupied the region for up to 3 million years. Hunter gatherers were replaced by pastoralists, and the Maasai drove out these inhabitants in the 1800s. Maasai villages dot the rim of the crater.

Maasai boma (village compound)


In 1892, the first Germans arrived to colonize this part of east Africa and a few established farms in the crater.

Ngorongoro has two possible meanings. The Maasai told us it is the sound that a cowbell makes, but it is also a word for a cooking pot.

2-6 view from top of Ngorongoro Crater

View from lookout at the crater rim. The highlands, as the hills that form the crater are called, is a unique ecosystem, characterized by acacia forests.


2-6 acacia forest

Highland acacia forest

Ngorongoro Crater covers about 100 square miles and is full of wildlife.


2-6 wildebeest in distance-Ngorongoro Crater

Wildebeest herds on the crater floor can be seen from the rim.



In this view, you can see the large lake (mostly dry when we were there) inside the crater.



Dale took this picture of me at the scenic look-out. Other members of our group are on the right.



Entrance gate to Ngorongoro Conservation Area











CFFC: Tanzania Z’s

I’ve just returned from Tanzania! Just in time to contribute to Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge’s last letter of the alphabet, Z!

TanZanians…are Maasai, Chaga, and many other tribes. They are proud of their ethnic identities but are first and foremost Tanzanians.SONY DSC


Maasai village dancers


2-7 teachers at Maasai school

Teachers at a Maasai village elementary school

Zebras are often seen migrating with wildebeest. The zebras remember the route and the wildebeest can smell water.


Zebras and wildebeest migrate together.


Zebra herd


How many zebras are in this picture? Three? Four?

Of course, among the most popular residents of Ngorongoro Crater or the Serengeti plain are the big cats. Lions are often seen taking a nap (catching Zzzz’s).


Lioness with cubs. Some of the cubs want to play and explore but mama just wants to take a nap!



Tired male lion



Lions can sleep even with insects crawling on their faces!

Zinj archaeological site is part of Oldupai (aka Olduvai) Gorge, where the first fossil remains of ancient hominids were found. At Zinj, you can look down and find rocks with fossils embedded in them very easily. This is where Mary Leakey found the most ancient of man’s ancestors, “zinjanthropus,” or Australopithecus boisei. 2-8 Zinj archeaological site-Oldupai



2-8 spot where Mary Leakey found bones of Lucy

This marker marks the exact spot where Mary Leakey discovered bones of Australopithecus boisei, one of humankind’s most ancient ancestors.


2-8 fossils & modern bones-Oldupai

Old and new fossils at Zinj. Fossilized bones are dense and heavy. Modern fossils are light. In this picture are also pieces of granite which was commonly found here, and held fossilized remains of animals.


Stay tuned for upcoming posts about our trip to Tanzania!