Cashews, Chocolate, Clowns and Other Topics

Melanie B. Cee created 11 questions to fulfill the requirements for the Sunshine Blogger Award and has opened them up to whoever wishes to answer them. So here they are, followed by my answers.

1. Have you ever made a decision that changed your entire life?


A “selfie” my son took at Mont-St-Michel in France

Yes, (and at the risk of sounding cliché) deciding to have a child. I was in an unhappy and lonely marriage. I became convinced at the ripe old age of 32 that I could never get pregnant, so at the time of the month that I calculated I was most fertile, I “seduced” my husband. And guess what? I got pregnant! Although our son’s coming into the world propped up our marriage for a couple of years, when he was six, we got divorced. I was a single mom for a few years, then remarried – this time happily. My second husband had a daughter from his previous marriage, so we ended up with a “blended” family and contented ourselves with that since we didn’t want to have a child together by that stage in our lives. However, my son did change my whole life because he will always be a part of it. And because he often calls me to ask for money! :-}

2. What time of the day do you feel the most energetic and what do you usually do in those moments?
Afternoons. That’s when I get my butt over to the fitness center, take a walk or clean up the house or whatever. I like evenings, which is when I multitask: doing some artwork while watching the news shows on TV. (I guess “listening to” the news shows would be more accurate.) Two of my drawings and two mandala coloring book pages show how I spend many evenings.

3. What could you spend all day talking about?
Travel. Where I’ve been, where other people have been, and travel plans for the future. There are a lot of other things I could talk about for a long time (I’m known as being a person who talks too much!) but travel was the first thing that came into my head.

4. If you were a band, what type of music would you play?

lindor truffles

Lindor truffles are one of my favorite candies!

Some sort of international fusion with a good beat. Musicians that are classically trained but are versatile enough to play different kinds of music and to experiment with different instruments. When I was younger, I wanted to be an ethnomusicologist!

5. What’s your favorite type of candy?

Almost anything with chocolate in it. But please no peanut butter! Peanut butter belongs on a sandwich, not in sweets!

6. How do you feel about clowns?
I think they are – or should be seen as – funny. My motto for this is: “Make Clowns Funny Again!” They were never meant to be scary and then horror movies made clowns – and DOLLS – frightening. That was, is, a terrible trend! Clowns (and dolls) should be entertaining and fun. Wouldn’t it be marvelous to recapture that childhood innocence that made us curious and delighted by the world?!clown

7. What have you forgotten? If you can remember it….
I forget stuff all the time. It’s getting worse as I get older, but because I have ADHD, I have always had memory problems. The good thing about this is that the experience has made me develop strategies to remember things – post-it notes and Google calendars are my saviors!

8. What’s an obscure food that you’ve eaten that most people have never tried?
Cashew fruit (or “cashew apple” as it’s called in English, although it bears little resemblance to an apple) – it’s rather fibrous, but some people can make a rather tasty juice out of it. There are also several recipes online. I tried it when I lived in northeastern Brazil, where the “largest cashew tree in the world” is located. Note: the cashew nut that most people are familiar with is just at the floral end of this fruit. I’m posting a photo so you can see what a cashew looks like.
cashew apples

9. What’s the most creative excuse you ever made up?

I can’t remember (that’s not the creative excuse – but it’s a fact).

10. What’s the worst topping to put on ice cream?

Is there such a thing as a peanut butter topping? If not, I guess I’d say gravy!


11. What’s the worst song lyric you ever heard?
Because it’s the Christmas season, holiday songs fill my head. I heard a terrible Christmas song on the radio the other day, but I told Dale to change the station halfway through – I think the title was something like “Candy Cane Lane.” It was probably the worst Christmas song I’d ever heard.  But here’s one I really don’t like that our community choir had to sing in our concert last week. These are the words but the melody wasn’t much better!
At Christmas Time – words by Clara B. Heath
At Christmas time! At Christmas time!
At Christmas time, we deck the hall
with holly branches brave and tall.
At Christmas time, we deck the hall
with holly branches brave and tall.
With sturdy pine and hemlock bright
and in the Yule log’s dancing light
we tell old tales of field and fight.
At Christmas time! At Christmas time!
At Christmas time, we pile the board
with flesh and fruit and vintage stored.
At Christmas time, we pile the board
with flesh and fruit and vintage stored.
And mid the laughter and the glow
we tread a measure soft and slow
and kiss beneath the mistletoe.
At Christmas time! At Christmas time!
At Christmas time!
emoji with tongue out

SYW: On Respect & Heroes, Beauty vs. Morality, Social Media, and Perfection

It has been awhile since I have participated in Share Your World. It’s usually because I’m busy and don’t catch it; occasionally I can’t relate to the questions. Anyhoo, here are my responses to this week’s Melanie’s Share Your World (SYW).

Why do we seem to respect the dead more than the living?
Perhaps we take the living for granted, which is a shame. However, I have been to many memorial services in which I have found out more about the deceased’s life than I had ever known before when (s)he was living. Another reason may be that we respect true heroes. A hero is a person who sacrifices his/her life (if necessary) for others. Thus, we have men and women who have served in our military, fighting wars that supposedly are to help keep us free. (I disagree that most modern wars have done that, but that is another topic entirely!) Heroes are firefighters who may lose their lives while putting out fires or afterward, or leaders who have done something extraordinary – such as Abraham Lincoln. The point is, many heroes die in the act of heroism, which is often how we find out about them.
Still, I don’t think I respect the dead more than the living. The dead are gone and likely are unaware of whether or not their graves are well-maintained. I think it is more important to respect the living – each human being on Earth has something to offer and deserves respect, for what they do or just because they are alive.
show respect.jpg
I admit, there are a few people that I really do NOT respect. One currently occupies the White House. The other is a man with a toad face who is Majority Leader of the Senate. In spite of the message in the graphic, I don’t respect people who constantly lie or who are hypocrites. Most other vices, though, I will tolerate and respect the person anyway!

Why is beauty associated with morality? Or not? (a few weeks back I asked a similar question, but the key word was MORTALITY, not MORALITY).
I have never associated beauty with morality, at least not physical beauty. Perhaps the beauty that “shines from within” because a person lives a moral life makes an association between the two, but I don’t feel beauty and morality are associated. Someone may be very beautiful – physically attractive – yet act like a total A-hole. And I see beauty in nature, so there’s no real “morality” there.


Kim Kardashian is famous mainly because she is beautiful. But what have the Kardashians done to deserve fame? Do they live what I would consider a “moral” life? Probably not, because I see them as caring too much about money, status, and looking beautiful.

Have gadgets and apps taken away emotions?
No, I think they have intensified emotions, at least in the case of social media. People get very upset by negative posts or comments on Facebook, for example. When someone really makes you irate, you go so far as to “unfriend” them!! Social media can make or break someone’s day emotionally. When I travel, I post photos on Facebook and always look to see how many “likes” I get for that day’s post!

Gadgets – such as our cell phones where we can engage easily in social media or texting – can be devastating to a young person who is the victim of cyberbullying, or publishing lies that circulate through Facebook, Instagram, etc. and can be harmful to one’s reputation. Cyberbullying evokes emotions such as fear, anger, shame.
On the other hand, I have found social media and texting to be very positive for me. For my nieces and nephews, and for my son & daughter, social media is the main way they communicate. I have gotten to know – and therefore grow closer – to some of my nieces who live far away so I don’t see them much, but follow their lives on Facebook and Instagram. I coo over the photos they publish of their new babies, and laugh at their antics that they immortalize in their Facebook posts. Then when I actually see them, I feel I know them because I have been accompanying their lives! I know when my own kids are in a good mood by reading their Facebook posts.  I also like texting because I have a bit of phone phobia. I would rather text than call someone, so I tend to communicate more with friends or family members who text. My son got me into the texting habit – texting is his main way of communicating with us, his parents. If he calls us at 4:00 a.m., it is unlikely we will answer the phone because we are asleep, but a text message can be read anytime and answered at one’s own convenience.

So I would say that overall, our reliance on apps and gadgets have increased our emotional volatility. We see, we react immediately. We meet and fall in love online. We cherish the photos our families post online and travel vicariously with them. Our apps, especially social media, therefore, influence our emotional ups and downs very much.

And a GPS app that leads me astray makes me feel very FRUSTRATED!!

Is there a perfect life? What’s your version of a perfect life if you care to share?
If I had the life that I, sitting here in front of this computer, imagine would be the perfect life, I doubt that it would really be perfect. For example, I might say that the perfect life would involve traveling most of the time. However, while engaged in that life, surely I would find something imperfect about it – I find accommodations inadequate, I miss being home and seeing my kids and my cat. There’s always something one can complain about! If I could dream about the perfect life, I would not imagine the problems that perfect life would create. And therefore, it wouldn’t be perfect!


My cat lives the purr-fect life!

If you’d like, please share something uplifting or for which you are grateful.
I am grateful for the life I have, the advantages I have been blessed with. I am grateful for my imperfect life! (Who needs perfection? It would be so boring!)


I am grateful for: having a son, being close to my son, being retired so I have time to do the things I want to do, being able to travel to see the beauty around the world.

Question Fun: On Adventures, Travel & Explorations

I know I’m late for this one, but I just didn’t have time to do it before now, and then I saw “Bipolar Barb”‘s answers and got inspired. This is one of my favorite topics, so please forgive me!!!

Welcome to Question Fun The Twice Weekly Game!
An easy game, and more so if you love questions! Each game has a topic, and then there are 23 questions relating to the topic – they can be visual, musical, personal, professional, topical, serious, thought provoking, fun, weird and even wacky – the questions will cover all fields and there is no structure to follow, so it could orderly one day and completely random the next time you play!
Today’s topic is ………….. Adventuring, Exploration and Travel/ling

What are five [in your eyes only] top quality Adventure films?
Instellar – In a future where humans are struggling to survive, astronauts venture into space through a wormhole to search for a new home for humankind.
Contact – a young woman takes a spaceship to a planet in another galaxy, not knowing what she will find or if she will even get there.
The Martian – The ultimate adventure that could plausibly take place in the next 100 years! An astronaut is left for dead on Mars by his crew members, who return to Earth. He must learn to survive Mars’ hazards until he can communicate with Earth and be rescued. This was a good movie, but the book was better!
Armegeddon – NASA discovers that an asteroid is going to hit Earth and sends a crew to land on the asteroid and divert it. OK, this film is not “top quality” but it  is actually a real possibility – it is against all odds that Earth has not been impacted by a devastating asteroid since the time of the dinosaurs.
The Lost City of Z – the only one of my five that takes place on Earth and is really true! It’s the story of a writer who traces the route of past explorers into the Amazon jungle to find a “lost city” known as “Z”, a possibly mythical place but whose legend has endured to this day. To get there, he faces many hazards and possibly death, since none of the explorers of the past returned from their expeditions.
In all of these films, characters face the unknown and the probability of not returning home alive. [Please provide links and say why you think they are]
What would be your ideal Adventure [not holiday – Adventure]? 
to be an archaeologist or help a team of archaeologists excavating ancient Egyptian ruins (I mean for real, not like Raiders of the Lost Ark!)
If you were planning your Adventure of a Lifetime which is the best season for you to go? Winter, early spring or late fall in a warm climate or southern hemisphere because I hate the cold.
What kind of activities do you enjoy doing and what would you never do?
I like to explore new places, then write about it, reading, photography and being in nature. I would never go hang gliding, mountain or rock climbing, skydiving or ziplining. (I did go ziplining once, in Costa Rica – never again!)
If you could live anywhere in the world for a year out of the answers below, where would you choose? The forest.
What are three great adventure quotes?
These are the answers “Bipolar Barb” gave, but they are great and I couldn’t come up with anything better. 

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” — Eleanor Roosevelt;
“Keep reading. It’s one of the most marvelous adventures that anyone can have.” — Lloyd Alexander
“Until you step into the unknown, you don’t know what you’re made of.”
― Roy T. Bennett
America is named after?
Amerigo Vespucci
Who reached North America first out of the following peoples? Spanish, British, Vikings, Portuguese
Vikings – archaeologists have found evidence of Viking habitation in Canada from back in the 12th century or earlier. They were master sailors and conquerors.
What was Christopher Columbus’s aim of his second voyage to the New world? Probably to rape & pillage and steal all the gold. Really, I don’t know, but that is what he and his men did. They wanted to find “El Dorado” – a city made of gold.
What happened to the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan? It is buried under Mexico City.
What was the most exciting Adventure you have ever been on? Four days hiking/backpacking in the Grand Canyon
Where in the world have you had the most fun exploring as an adult?  I guess I have to say Scotland, because it is one place that we set our own agenda – we weren’t on a tour. It was in 1999, and my mother was with us. She had ancestors in Scotland and we explored some of the places that were part of their history.


I downloaded this image from Bing, but this was a place in Scotland that we just happened to see when we were driving, so we stopped and explored! Well worth the visit!

When in Rome, one does as the Romans do; however, when on a sandy beach, one does ……….. ? Build a sand castle.
Whilst out and about exploring on an adventure, what is the scariest thing that has happened to you? I was almost kidnapped at O’Hare airport when I was 16, and also, in Mexico City, I got into an unmarked car whose driver claimed it was a taxi. If it hadn’t been for the alertness of the friend I was with, God knows what would have happened.
Of the following choices which would you prefer to explore?
Well, a forgotten city is sort of like a ghost town, which can be fun to explore. Ghost towns usually have great photo opps!
A sunken city – I would love it if it is no longer “sunken.” (Tenochtitlan is buried under Mexico City; many Egyptian ruins were buried under sand, but no longer. Do these count?)
A lost city – if it’s lost, how can I explore it?
An uninhabited island – that would be fun to explore also, as long as “uninhabited” includes dangerous animals!
uninhabited island.jpg
Why did you pick your option above, what appealed?
Sunken cities are archaeological goldmines, and I love learning and speculating about life in the distant past.
Would you rather swim with sharks or dolphins? Are you really expecting anyone to answer “sharks”? Dolphins, of course.
What’s the worst piece of travel advice you have ever received? It never really gets cold in Israel. WRONG!!
What is on the top of your bucket list? Going on another safari, perhaps in South Africa; visiting China; a cruise of the Greek Islands. In 2 1/2 weeks we are going to Europe, and while I am in France, I will visit Mont St. Michel, which I can then cross off my bucket list!
Best musical track you can think of for each of the following: exploration, adventuring or travelling? [Please provide links]
City of New Orleans by Arlo Guthrie (traveling)
Africa by Toto (adventuring – safari!!)
This Land Is Your Land performed by Pete Seeger (exploring – there is so much variety in this country!)
How many countries [or States/Counties] have you visited – please list. I’ve been to 42 U.S. states, I think: New York, New Jersey, California, Arizona, Texas, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Georgia, Nevada, Colorado, Idaho (very limited), Utah, Washington, Oregon (very limited), Montana, Wyoming, New Mexico, Nebraska, Kansas, South Dakota, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee, Kentucky, Alaska, Hawaii, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina (limited), South Carolina, Florida, Massachusetts, Vermont, Minnesota, Maine (only Acadia NP), District of Columbia, Maryland, Michigan, West Virginia. (I need to take two trips: Northeast and deep South!) I only counted states that I actually visited, and not states that I’ve driven through while on a road trip. My rule is I at least have to get out of the car and see something.  Oh, I have also been to Puerto Rico which is part of the United States, but it isn’t a state (yet).
Countries: Canada, Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Cuba, Costa Rica, Colombia (only Cartagena), Brazil, Peru, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Russia (St. Petersburg), Finland, Sweden, France, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Austria, Spain, Italy, Netherlands, Egypt, Tanzania, Israel. In other words, NOT NEARLY ENOUGH! There’s a lot of world left to see!!!
Three items you simply could not travel without? Phone, notebook & pen, water bottle
water bottles.jpg


SYW: On families, rooms, olives, and space travel


I like to participate in Cee’s weekly Share Your World, that is, if I can think of something interesting to say! So here goes…

Which tastes better: black or green olives?
Neither – I don’t like olives. This may sound weird, but the “best” olive I ever ate was a raw one, right from the tree! When I lived in Northeastern Brazil, we had an olive tree in the yard of our rental house. When the olives ripened, I decided to taste one to see if it was any better than the ones that have been pickled. It was a little better, but it was very fibrous and bitter and I would never eat another one. Now at least I understand why olives have to be pickled to be palatable to most people.olive trees

What’s your favorite room in your home?
Either my “office” – messy as it is – or the deck in back of the house. The deck isn’t really a “room” but it’s my custom to sit out there in the morning with my coffee and read. (I love retirement!) I do this every morning if the weather is dry and not too cold. Over my head are large branches of a silver maple. I like to look up into the leaves or watch the squirrels.

My office is where I do most of the things I like to do – write, organize and edit my photos, blog (all on my computer) and work on other projects, such as painting or coloring intricate patterns in a coloring book. I keep all of my writing projects here – my travel journals, my collection of my dad’s World War II letters to my mom, the research for my book about my ancestors – as well as my art projects and my books (I have shelves of books I haven’t read yet). My office represents my world of opportunities!


My shelf of children’s books I can’t bear to part with!

What fictional family would you be a member of?
A happy one! Most fiction deals with some sort of conflict, so often the families in stories are dysfunctional. No family can compare with the real one I am lucky to have.

I think it would be exciting to be on the Starship Enterprise from Star Trek Next Generation. That isn’t exactly a family in the traditional sense, but the Enterprise is large and there are many people living there that we don’t see on the screen. There are whole families – children, parents, and grandparents. I imagine what it would be like to live, study and work on a spaceship with the type of advanced technology that you can get everything you need and want on board. You can create entire environments on the holodecks to explore and provide entertainment. You can “beam” down to different worlds and then rematerialize safely back on board the Enterprise if your life is threatened down there! I truly believe there is advanced life on other planets and like to fantasize about meeting them (I hope they’re friendly)! Maybe I should try to learn Klingon…Star_Trek_The_Next_Generation_365_cover

What did you appreciate or what made you smile this past week?
My son came over this past week, in a happy frame of mind! It’s rare to see him so calm and attentive. He needed some medications and finally got to see a new doctor so he could refill the prescriptions. We were able to have a nice conversation about things other than being broke and asking for money! He is an Uber driver and is making goals for himself to work more hours and other things in his life. He finally is used to living in an apartment alone, which was very stressful for him at first. It was good to see him being so positive!


Jayme on Mother’s Day

Cee’s Share Your World: On ice cream, keeping cool and cell phone use

Here are my answers for Cee’s weekly Share Your World.

Since we are approaching the hottest part of our summer in the northern hemisphere, what’s your favorite ice-cream, frozen yogurt or sorbet flavor? (Those of you who live down under I’m sure you remember what it is like in the hot summer months).
I always say my favorite is peppermint, but I also like just about any flavor with chocolate in it. I also love some of the tropical fruit flavors: coconut, passion fruit and mango sorbets. Ice cream or frozen yogurt – it doesn’t matter. I like them all! I also like toppings on my ice cream: usually hot fudge, but also sometimes you can get m&m’s, colored sprinkles, chocolate chips, etc. When I am really splurging, I load my sundae with those too!

B&J ice cream

Ben & Jerry’s is one of my favorite ice cream brands, because there are so many innovative flavor combinations. However, it’s too fattening, so I usually opt for Halo Top brand.

ice cream flavors

This photo reminds me of Mariano’s supermarket in the summer, where they have a lovely selection of delicious ice creams and sorbets!

How often do you people watch?
When I am somewhere with nothing much to do. I used to do it more often, and unfortunately, I now too often let my electronics distract me. I should do it more often to get ideas for stories and photos. In fact, a lot of my people watching is behind the lens of a camera (or cellphone) to capture just the right moment!No-Cell-Phones-at-the-dinner-table-cover_uydltv.jpg
If you had a choice which would be your preference salt water beaches, fresh water lakes, ocean cruise, hot tub, ski resort or desert? This is a very tough question! Because it is hot and humid here right now, I would love to jump in a lake or a cruise ship swimming pool! I love walking on the beach, but don’t like to swim in the ocean really. I love the desert, though, and it is my favorite environment – the stark beauty of the desert really appeals to me.

What did you appreciate or what made you smile this past week? Feel free to use a quote, a photo, a story, or even a combination. My cat, Hazel… 20180714_175036
…and the little boy in this photo as he runs through the fountain in Denver. His expression is priceless!SONY DSC

NOTE: The photos of ice cream and couple in a restaurant were downloaded from Google Images. All others are my own.