SYW: On Being Better, Love, Memories, Death & the Composition of a Baseball

A new set of questions this week from Melanie’s Share Your World!

QUESTIONS    (Going DEEP on these today)

Are human beings required to better themselves and will doing that make them happier?
Required? No, no one is required to do anything in their life, but it’s better that they achieve their potential, which will be a contribution to our society and human existence in general. I think if a person works hard to achieve something, or meets a goal, (s)he will be happy with what was achieved; so collectively, people who strive to be the best they can be will be happier and more confident in themselves.

Is it easier to love or to be loved?
Depends on who is doing the loving! If one who loves another is always having to give, give, give and the other gives little in return, that can’t be an easy emotion to deal with. Love ultimately requires work, while being loved requires nothing. So being loved is easier, but both are needed.

Outside traumatic brain injury, can memories be completely erased?
I don’t know. I do know it’s possible to “block” traumatic events in one’s life – such as a history of child abuse. A person may block such memories for self-preservation and to forget those terrible events to be relieved of suffering, having nightmares, etc. But I guess these memories aren’t really “erased” – a good psychotherapist may succeed in bringing a patient’s blocked memories to consciousness in order to confront them to aid in healing.

Is there such a thing as a good death?
Sometimes. If a person has been suffering a lot or has no quality of life, or “alive” due to machines but in a vegetative state…then yes, their death could be considered “good” because it alleviates their suffering. When my mother was suffering from dementia and could no longer really communicate – and she was a person who loved being sociable, to talk on a variety of subjects, reading and writing – I used to pray for God to allow her life to end.

Perhaps we can also say that a human monster (like Hitler) who has caused terrible suffering and death of innocents, also had a “good death,” in that the world is better off without him!

Or perhaps a “good” death is simply death free of pain and prolonged suffering – such as dying in one’s sleep or very suddenly with no pain involved.

Anyone’s idea of a “good death” is really subjective.

and one ‘silly’ one because the former questions were fairly serious:   What do you imagine is inside a baseball? 
Some stuffing – cotton, or fibers of some kind. Maybe a ball of string? I’ve never thought about it before.  But your question made me curious, so I looked it up.

GRATITUDE SECTION

Feel free to share something uplifting this week!  

SYW: Holiday Cookies, Drinks, and Magic

SantaSYW

Melanie has a new set of holiday-related questions for her weekly Share Your World.

  • What is your favorite type of cookie (they’re called biscuits in Europe I believe)?
    If you mean Christmas cookies, it would be a tie between the sugar cookies in different shapes with frosting and a brownie with peppermint candy frosting (not technically a cookie, but my niece makes these every year as part of her gift of cookies).

    Outside of holiday season, it’s homemade chocolate chip cookies fresh out of the oven!
    I don’t bake cookies in general, so we buy Tates – their chocolate chip cookie is thin and crispy.
We buy boxes of Tates like this at Costco. At other places, they come in smaller bags, but there are more varieties.
  • If you could choose one age and remain that forever, what would it be and why?
    65 – young enough to still have the energy and drive to travel and explore new things, and also be eligible for retirement and Medicare.
  • Do you have a traditional drink during the holiday season?
    Not this year, because we are not gathering as usual with our family, but normally it is Jolly Jolt. Jolly Jolt is basically warm apple cider with cinnamon cloves. My sister prepares it in a large coffee pot and everyone helps themselves! This year, I suspect it will be Cooper’s Hawk’s Winter Red wine, which we have a bottle of in our garage – also best heated.
    NV Cooper's Hawk Winter Red, USA, Illinois - CellarTracker
  • Are you able to still believe in holiday magic as you did when you were a child?
    No, not really. Warmth, maybe, magic, no. When I was a kid, holidays like Christmas were always extremely exciting. We kids got to do the fun stuff, like picking out and decorating the tree, helping put up the creche, and singing Christmas carols. As an adult, there’s the work side of it – things don’t magically happen! I do very little decorating, except to put up my collection of creches and hang a Santa Claus on the door. Usually I have a Christmas tree but haven’t had one for the last three years. I do more decorating if we’re having guests.

    The most magical and exciting moments during my childhood were early Christmas mornings. My dad put up a portable screen so we couldn’t see into the living room until my parents got up. So we kids would climb partway up the stairway to peek over the screen to find our stockings and all the presents my parents had added during the night. This is what I think about when I’m asked about holiday magic!

    Now I look forward to simple gatherings of families and friends, noshing, drinking Jolly Jolt and playing games. It gives me warm feeling, but not the magic of childhood.

Gratitude section: I’m grateful to be alive and reasonably healthy! And I’m grateful that 2020 is almost over!

10 Favorite Feelings

I found this challenge on Melanie B. Cee’s (sparksfromacombustiblemind) blog and it struck me as interesting. This challenge comes originally from Xandria, a blogger I didn’t know before. 10 favorite feelings? Could I really find so many favorite feelings? (That is, not feelings I have that I don’t like, but ones I love to have.) When I started writing them down, I found that I could name MORE than 10 and barely had room on the post-it note for them all to fit!

“Feelings” can be interpreted in different ways, as I saw reading some of the participants’ posts for this challenge. I am going to use emotions as my basis for writing this. My blog’s name, Wanderlust and Wonderment, are two of the feelings I love most! But I will name 10 more here.

  • 1. gratitude:  I feel grateful for all I have – a good family, a nice place to live, the opportunity to travel and explore my interests. I try to stop for a moment every day, at least once, to appreciate the good things in my life.
  • 2. anticipation: Whenever we decide to go on a trip – planning, envisioning what it will be like, the places we’ll go, packing, on the airplane taking us to our destination. One of the best things about traveling is anticipating it before it happens!
  • 3. fascination: I am fascinated by many things, sometimes things I never thought I would have any interest in. When I travel, many things fascinate me: the swans who swim close to the cruise ship, the distinctive architecture of a place, the way wines are made, the meaning of hieroglyphics, etc. There is so much to learn and absorb in this world!
  • 4. awe: I enjoy reveling in the miracle of things large and small. I feel awe standing in the cathedral in Cologne, Germany, and I also feel awe watching nature unfold in my garden – watching the shoots of the first leaves push up out of the ground, the growth – getting taller and fuller, the buds that appear, and then the flower that opens up to the world. I feel awe at how that flower propagates, the delicate wings of a butterfly, how nature always repeats its cycle, no matter what humans are doing in the meantime.  Awe at the animals – so close – on safari. Twice I have visited places where my ancestors lived – I mean, the actual land or the actual house they lived in. I felt awe to be standing in the same place my 3-greats grandmother stood.
The awe of seeing a giraffe close up in its natural environment. Giraffes are truly awesome!
  • 5. relief: The feeling that washes over me after I’ve been worried about something or someone, when it turns out to be okay. I worry especially about my son, who struggles with many things in life. I call him, he doesn’t answer, so I leave a message which he doesn’t reply to; I send him a text to find out if he is all right…and finally I receive a reply, “Don’t worry, Mom! I’m okay!”
  • 6. love: I fall in love all the time – not just with a romantic partner. I love my cat, and feel this love whenever I look at her sweet, beautiful face staring at me. I love places I visit. I fall in love with countries. Also, yes, the “new love” feeling I had when I met my husband-to-be and realized he’s the one! When you’re in love, the whole world seems beautiful!
  • 7. saudade: This is a Portuguese word that means “sweet sorrow” (when you have to leave someone or some place that you know you will miss dearly), longing, sort of nostalgia, but also the feeling you have when you look at someone or something that you’ve been waiting to see and here it is in front of you. Saudade is often translated as nostalgia, but it’s more than that. I think “sweet sorrow” is a better translation. The word comes from the time of slavery in Brazil, when the slaves were brought over to that country and what they felt when they thought about their homeland.  It’s what anyone feels when they are forced to leave the place they belong and the longing for home.  It’s not just nostalgia because you can feel saudade for a person, a place, a thing, even when you are with them!
  • 8. accomplishment: I think there is no better way to feel good about yourself as when you have a feeling of accomplishment. Accomplishment upon finishing a really well-written term paper; or admiring a drawing I just completed and it looks exactly as I want it to be; accomplishment when finally understanding a difficult concept. Anyone can say to you, “you are wonderful, you are smart” or whatever, but when you accomplish something yourself, then you know you can be proud of yourself.
  • 9. absorption: What I feel when I am totally engrossed in a book that I really like. I don’t want anyone to tear me away from it! I also get absorbed in writing my blog, making a photo album, drawing an intricate picture. I feel kind of dizzy and disoriented when I have to leave whatever I’m absorbed in!
  • 10. excitement: the rush I feel when I am traveling and come to the realization, for example, OMG, I’m really in PARIS! Or, excitement while looking at ancient Egyptian monuments that have survived for 3500+ years! 
It was exciting to be among these monumental pillars in Karnak, Egypt.

Top o’ the Morning!

I don’t usually get up early. Especially now – what’s the point? I can’t go anywhere anyway! I have a routine of getting up, getting a cup of tea (I can’t tolerate coffee anymore, although I love it), a banana and a piece of Babybel cheese, and then going to a comfortable spot to read and enjoy my morning snack. In warm weather, I like to sit on the porch and breathe the morning air. So it’s usually 10 a.m. or later before I get going with my day.

But when we travel with tour groups, we often have to get up very early, and on those occasions I do have the opportunity to appreciate the early morning, or Top o’ the morning, as the Irish say, (and in order to fit into Becky’s April Square Tops!)

So for Lens-Artists photo challenge#93 with the topic morning, I am posting some photos I took early in the morning while traveling, mostly with tours, in 2018-2019.

ON SAFARI
On safari, it’s a given to get up really early, so you can have breakfast and go on a game drive in the early morning when the animals tend to be more active. So every day, our alarm was set for 6 a.m. – when I hear that alarm tune on my husband’s tablet, I still think I’m in Tanzania!

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On the patio of our lodge at Tarangire – 6:48 a.m.

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Same exact time the next morning – what a view overlooking Tarangire National Park!

2-10 sunrise

After this beautiful sunrise in Serengeti National Park…

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…we had a picnic breakfast in the park!

DES MOINES, IOWA
My husband tends to wake up really early whenever we’re sleeping somewhere away from home. Sometimes he wakes me up too. Here we got a great photo overlooking the river toward downtown Des Moines. You can see the capitol building in the distance!

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From Best Western hotel room window, 7:12 a.m. in late September

EGYPT
We were in Egypt in the winter, so I often captured the rising sun between 8 and 9 a.m.!

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The Great Pyramid of Giza, at 9:46 a.m.

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View from our hotel room at the Sofitel Winter Palace in Luxor, 6:53 a.m.

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We took a 5-day cruise up the Nile, in an Egyptian style dahabeya. This type of boat doesn’t have a motor – it’s towed by tug or unfurls its sails, but because of this, we couldn’t travel at night. We docked at Besaw Island one night, and in the morning, the trees were golden in the light of the rising sun, at 6:58 a.m.

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At the end of the five-day cruise, we had arrived at Aswan, where we had to disembark. We had a long day ahead, so I took this shot at 6:24 a.m. at the breakfast table on board.

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The next morning, we were at a rustic lodge in Abu Simbel, where I took this photo from the patio, with a view of several islands on this part of the Nile. Since the Aswan High Dam was built, this part of the Nile is now a lake. 6:57 a.m.

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This was part of our view from Old Cataract Hotel in Aswan (where Agatha Christie wrote her famous mystery, Death on the Nile) at 7:20 a.m.

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At 6:22 a.m. the next morning, we were already on a bus which would take us to the Aswan airport, to fly back to Cairo.

ISRAEL
In order to cram as many sites as possible into one day, our tour company in Israel required us to be on the bus no later than 7:30. So we got up at 6 a.m. every morning, and went downstairs to breakfast between 6:30 and 7:00.

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We were on the road already when I took this photo of the Sea of Galilee receiving rays from the early morning sun, at 7:52 a.m. in early January 2019.

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The next day, I took this photo at 6:57 a.m. from our hotel room overlooking Tiberias and the Sea of Galilee, before we went down to breakfast.

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We traveled south toward the Dead Sea, seen here between 7 and 8 a.m.

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We were in Jerusalem for the last few days of the tour. This is at the Church of All Nations, at 7:50 a.m. We explored the outside first, and were allowed inside at 8:00.

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Only a few of the faithful are at the Western Wall in Jerusalem to say their prayers at 8:05 a.m. The women’s section is more crowded because it is a lot smaller.

EUROPE
On our European cruise last summer, we only had to get up very early a couple of days. Usually, we’d wake up and go out on the balcony of our stateroom.

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I must have had insomnia, because I took this photo as we were cruising into Vienna at 3:56 a.m. in early July!

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The sun was full up on this cloudy day when I took this photo. It was 8:55 a.m. and I was getting my first look at Budapest just before our ship docked!

Although when I’m home, I stay up late (I’m writing this after midnight! – I’m late, sorry, Becky!) and get up late the next morning, when we travel, even on days we don’t have to get up early, we usually do because we are excited! I cherish these last trips we took before the quarantine put a stop to my planning for the next trip, scheduled for this month! But we won’t be stuck at home forever, and I look forward to more adventures soon!

 

 

 

 

FOTD: Pussy Willows

Pussy willows aren’t exactly flowers, but I really love them! They remind me of my childhood – when I was a kid, my friends and I used to play in a woods behind our house. Beyond the woods, down a steep hill, was an old railroad track that was being taken over by nature due to lack of use. Pussy willows grew along that track and I would sometimes pick some and take them home to my mother, (who didn’t approve of me playing next to the railroad track!).

These pussy willows were for sale recently at Mariano’s in Chicago.
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Posted to participate in Cee’s Flower of the Day, 3/31/18.

CFFC: Safari Haiku

Note: I wrote most of these haiku myself and took all the photographs. The haiku “Photography” was written by Dale Berman (my husband); “On Safari” (with slight modification) and “Origins” were written by other members of our Tanzanian Safari group.  Posted for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Wildlife.

Wildebeest
Is it possible
that the gnu knew? Or was he just
a bewildered beast?

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Wildebeest is the Afrikaans name for gnu.

Zebra
Zebras’ stripes, black, white
Black and white and black and white
But no two alike.

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Baby zebras have brown stripes which gradually turn black.

 

Migration
Zebras know the route.
Wildebeest can smell water.
They move in tandem.

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Zebras and wildebeest are often seen together. They have a similar goal: to find the best grass for the season.

 

Lions
Are lions lazy?
They’re always lyin’ around.
First: hunt, eat; then rest.

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Female lions live in a pride with their cubs. Both male and female adult lions often hang around with their litter mates of the same gender.

 

Thomson’s Gazelle
Constantly swishing
black tail of Thomson’s gazelle
back and forth and back.

 

Genet
Whiskers and black spots
Curious big eyes, ringed tail
It is not a cat!

2-8 genet at Ndutu Safari Lodge3

This captivating animal is a carnivore which eats small prey, such as mice and lizards. Although cat-like, it is not related to cats. 

 

Impala
Graceful impala
Big ears constantly alert:
Predators nearby.

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Impalas are the most common gazelle seen on the African plains.  They are often seen in all-male and all-female groups. Only the males have horns.

 

Leopard
The elusive leopard
High in the acacia tree
Descends for a meal.

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Leopards can be hard to spot – they usually spend the day high in a tree.

 

Hyena
Ugly hyena
He feasts on young wildebeest
Bloodied and cackling.

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Hyenas are not dogs, but often work together to hunt their prey. They also feed on carrion.

 

 

Hyraxes
Small, furry creatures
Living in rocky kopjes
Elephant cousins?!

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Believe it or not, this guinea pig-sized animal is a distant relative of the elephant!

 

Ostrich
Ostrich on the plain
Long neck craning, pink legs run
Flurry of feathers!

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Male ostriches have black feathers and pink legs. Female ostriches have grey feathers and their legs are slightly lighter in color.

 

Giraffe
High above the ground
Ungainly shape yet graceful
Nibbling tops of trees.

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Giraffes grow to 17-18 feet. Their young at birth are 6 feet tall! 

 

 

Elephants
With mud-caked skin, they
Lumber on African plains
Their youngsters close by.
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Weaver
Pert yellow weaver
Weaving a nest to impress
He hopes she approves.

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Male weavers (see his head sticking down just under the nest?) make nests out of grass, twigs and other things they find. The female weaver will move in with the male that makes the best nest!

A watery life
Just their snouts protrude
out of the water to breathe.
Hippos in a pond.

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Hippos prefer to spend much of their day in the water. However, they can be seen on land looking for grass. 

 

On Safari
Dust swirls ‘round the truck
As more jeeps gather nearby
Big cats wish us away.
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Origins
We all started here
Herds migrate; hunters follow.
The bright continent.

2-8 Oldupai-map of sites where fossils of early man were found

The top two photos show an ancient buffalo skull and that of an ancestor of humans: homo habilis. The dots on the map show archaeological sites where hominin remains have been found.

Photography
Pictures were taken
Memories are kept alive
Trip not forgotten

2-13 group photo at Ang'ata Camp, Serengeti

Group photo taken the morning of our departure, including the staff at Ang’ata Safari Camp at Serengeti National Park.

 

 

 

 

CFFC: Happy

The theme for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week is Happy. Here is a slideshow of some happy memories of this year with family and friends.

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  1. My grand-niece, Sylvia, eating ice cream
  2. Dale & I at the Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD
  3. Rosie playing with her mom, my niece Julia
  4. My niece, Allie, gets kisses from her sisters on her wedding day
  5. My friend, Marcia, and I enjoy a walk in Maggie Daley Park
  6. Selfie of former co-worker, Sue (who I haven’t seen for a few years!) and I at a show by her partner’s band, the Stingrays

 

 

All pictures were taken by me or with my camera except Allie & her sisters.