Slice of Life: Cute Dogs, Healthy Food and “Rebel Makeup”

I’ve been reading lots of articles with blogging advice, and it seems I’ve read some advice against personal posts, but I enjoy reading other bloggers’ personal journal style posts and also vlogs of a similar format. I still plan to provide a variety of content, but you’ll have to let me know if you enjoy this type of post.

On Saturday, I went shopping at Ulta, the beauty supply store. It was my first time, since the pandemic started, shopping at any store other than a grocery store or pharmacy. I had run out of eye makeup and was looking for the same products I bought the last time. Earlier, I had purchased a Smashbox set of three eye colors. I couldn’t find the same product and, even looking over all the brands, I couldn’t seem to find a set that wasn’t basically all earth tones. I like a little bit of color, nothing berserk, but a little bit of lavender or green, to go with hazel eyes.

What I ended up buying will sound berserk, because I bought a larger set of eight colors all with rebellious names. The set is called “Punked” and the colors have names like Headliner, Anarkissed, Soft Punch, Destroyer, Punked, Studded, Riot Girl and Combat Boots. It was the only set I found that was close to the colors I wanted, but I don’t think it looks nearly as rebellious as it sounds.

Does this look rebellious to you?

And here I am, wearing a combination of Soft Punch, Destroyer and Combat Boots. Am I a rebel girl or what? It amuses me that I wore such innocent looking colors with such crazy names, but on a more serious note, at a time where there has been quite a bit of rioting and possibly anarchists, I have to wonder why the company would market their products this way.

This morning, I accompanied Dad to his doctor’s appointment at the Rutgers University Hospital in Newark. He and I both suffered bites from a dog in mid-August. Dad’s injury was much worse, and he had two surgeries, one to close up the wound on his hand with artificial skin and, later, a skin graft. This was a follow-up appointment with his surgeon.

University Hospital

We’ve been using Uber to get back and forth to appointments, mostly because I’m not comfortable driving to the city. Today, we had a driver, Bennie, who was fantastic. He waited for us to buckle up and said he would go when we were ready. He asked us if the temperature was right and if we had enough leg room. This is now my ninth Uber ride, and no other driver has been this courteous or asked us these questions. He was also genuinely warm and interested in us. When Bennie chuckled after Dad said he couldn’t find the buckle, I knew we had a different sort of driver.

He complimented us on our garden, and this prompted a discussion between him and Dad on gardening and other subjects that lasted the whole ride.

Our fence garden

I gave Bennie five stars on Uber and a compliment, but later, when I tried to give him a tip through the app, found I couldn’t do it. Sorry Bennie! Maybe, the compliment and tip had to be done in a certain order, but I hope the compliment benefits him in his driving business.

Dad in the waiting room

I meant to bring both a physical book and a Kindle with me to entertain me in the waiting room, but I left in such a hurry that I brought neither. So, I spent my waiting room time on Pinterest on my phone, pinning photos to my Flowers, Beautiful Places, Nature, Butterflies, Animals, Fashion History, Healthy Recipes and Transportation boards. Transportation is my board for anything transportation-related that is not a car, although it may include a few cars that are quirky like amphibious cars or bubble cars or Isettas. This was an interesting Transportation pin today.

Photo found on Pinterest, from Imgur

This mom found an interesting way to transport three kids. I suppose it isn’t technically a bicycle, but what is it? A quadricycle?

On Pinterest, I also found a recipe for lunch, a salad with cucumber, radishes, scallions and cottage cheese. We already had the radishes and scallions from our CSA and just needed the cucumber and cottage cheese.

Before we left the hospital, Dad, unfortunately, showed me a photo of his unbandaged hand which, instead of looking pink and flesh-like as he described, had quite a bit of black scab. I wasn’t ready to see that.

We headed home and, after texting some doggy care clients and taking some garden photos, it was time to head over to walk my little Maltese friend, Janie.

Janie

Janie likes to greet me by turning herself in excited little circles when I come in. I then lift her up, and she will proceed to kiss and kiss my face. I like exuberant doggy affection, but I don’t really like to be licked on my nose and mouth area, but now that I’m wearing a mask in her building, this area is covered.

Though Janie is tiny and has tiny little legs, she’s an energetic walker and our route is just a little short of a mile. We always walk past a pretty gazebo and fountain in her gated community.

We then loop around the community center in my town. We come down a hill past a football field. Lately, there are children playing on the field when we walk past, and Janie always wants to pull towards the field to meet some kids. But today, as we had a different schedule, we didn’t see any.

We then circle around past the police station, fire house and Department of Public Works and then up the hill and back into her gated community. I only brought one bag with me, and Janie did a second poo right in front of the police station. I thought I’d best do my civic duty right within sight of the police station and found a pile of takeout napkins in my purse for the cleanup. At least, a tiny dog has tiny poos.

Janie back home again

On my way home from walking Janie, I stopped at the store for the cucumber and cottage cheese and also bought some kosher salt and apple cider.

I passed through these floral and gift sections on the way to the produce.

I’m liking orchids more and more.

Warmies

I like the hamster. These stuffed animals are called Warmies and are microwaveable. I’m not sure if they are for sick kids or chilly kids, but they are, evidently, made for some extra comfort. I think even adults would like this, if they could get by without looking or feeling too foolish.

Even though I pinned the lunch recipe, it was simple enough that I didn’t consult it later. I just made my own version of it. I sliced one cucumber, four large radishes and one large scallion and combined with the whole container of low fat cottage cheese and plenty of salt and pepper. It was pretty tasty and healthy too.

Radish and cucumber salad

We watched an episode of Food Network’s Chopped with a healthy eating theme while we ate our lunch. After lunch, I cleaned up, loaded the dishwasher and helped Mom get several new westerns on her Kindle. She’s been reading all sorts of westerns lately, sometimes nonfiction like a book about Dodge City written by someone who lived there in its Wild West days.

For the rest of the afternoon, I studied to prepare myself for launching a business in SAT tutoring for the verbal section. I have this pile of material to look through.

After this, it was time to prepare dinner. We got some very curious string beans from the farm through our CSA. I’ve never seen, cooked or eaten beans that looked like this before.

They are flat, somewhat white and streaked with purple. The information from the farm didn’t identify them as anything other than string beans, but information on a future delivery listed “dragon’s tongue beans.” When I did a Google image search for dragon’s tongue beans, it matched what we have. They look exotic enough to be dragon’s tongues but taste similar to green beans. I snapped these and steamed them.

I also roasted an acorn squash (in a 400 degree oven for 25 minutes) which we had with some Smart Balance spread, brown sugar or Splenda and cinnamon. Our protein was grilled chicken breast with Stubb’s Barbecue Rub. Lately, also, I’m enjoying some Bubly sparkling water.

We watched an episode of the Netflix series Virgin River during dinner. It’s a drama featuring a nurse and midwife who moves from L.A. to a rural small town in California. There is all sorts of drama, multiple story lines, and each episode ends with some sort of cliffhanger. We are enjoying it so far.

And that was my day … until now. What was most interesting? Would you eat a dragon’s tongue bean?

Wordless Wednesday — Garden Photos

So, maybe this isn’t a completely wordless post, just almost wordless. Dad planted several varieties of flowers in what he calls the “fence garden,” and they’ve really flourished. They are all deer resistant. We have marigolds, ageratum and celosia. There are a few more varieties, and we have forgotten the names of them, so if you recognize some unnamed flower varieties in these photos, please name them in the comments.

A Collection of Beauty and Inspiration

A charming painted house in Denmark by Audrey Smit

Check out this gorgeous photo from the New York Botanical Orchid Show 2010 by Jessica Jenney. There are so many beautiful blooms arranged prettily around what looks like an architectural folly. You can buy the print on a pillow, tote bag, phone case and more at fineartamerica.com.

Interested in fashion history? Here is an interesting decade-spanning collection of women’s dresses, from the Edwardian era to the late ’60s, on display at the Hillwood Mansion in Washington D.C.

An adorable vintage-style kitchen found on Pinterest. I love all the colors. It’s colorful without being gaudy. Now, the trends are stainless steel, white walls and neutral colors.

Read about how a San Francisco man helped to repopulate his area with the California pipevine swallowtail butterfly.

Some adorable miniature sculptures of animals: mice, birds, frogs and more from artist, Fanni Sandor.

Take a look at these quirky buildings in Paris.

Monet’s Garden, photo from NPR

Read about Eugene Boudin, a man who inspired Monet.

Photo from https://blog.wellappointedhouse.com

View some gardens with a variety of full blooming hydrangeas in a palette of pretty pastels.

Read about Edward James, an English surrealist artist, and view photos of his dreamy, unusual structures in the middle of the jungle in Mexico. You could call them buildings, but they have no walls and have staircases leading to nowhere.

I Should Have Known I Was an Animal Lover When …

Currently, I am a professional pet sitter and dog walker, a bit of a change from former work I’ve done. I watch mostly dogs and cats, but, very recently, cared for a cockatiel, pet fish and even tadpoles. I’ve also given some care to backyard chickens.

I began reflecting on my former experiences with animals, and I realize I have quite a collection of interesting stories of my childhood pets, encounters with wild animals and more. Earlier, if you had asked me to describe myself, I would have told you that I was a writer, a dreamer or a creative person. All of these are true. I don’t know that I would have included “animal lover” in my description.

After all, I was an English major, not a veterinary science major. There was quite a gap in my life in which I wasn’t under the right circumstances to have a pet. I haven’t consistently been involved with animals in a major way, but there are little snapshots from my life that now indicate to me that I have always been an animal lover or had the potential to be so.

I should have known I was an animal lover when …

1) My Family Rescued a Stray Dog and Gave Her a Forever Home.

My dog, Trixie, with my cat, Frisky.

Lots of people have adopted rescue dogs and that is very honorable, but the story of my childhood dog is more unusual. She found us, more specifically, she found my three older brothers and my cousin while they were hiking at a reservation in New Jersey. She was an abandoned puppy, a mutt of some sort — the vet thought she was part fox terrier and part cocker spaniel — and was consisting off a diet of wormy acorns. She just began hanging around my brothers and cousin, and when Mom came to pick them up, she couldn’t resist her. We took her home, named her Trixie, took her to the vet, got her registered and dewormed, and she was ours. She was an energetic, bouncy, squirrel-chasing dog even to the end of her life.

Around the same time that Trixie found us, we took in a gray tabby cat named Frisky from a friend of ours. Unfortunately, we didn’t have Frisky long before he was hit by a car and died. Trixie and Frisky were friends though and voluntarily slept in the same bed and would eat from each other’s bowls.

You will notice in the list below that I’ve illustrated everything with stock photos. This is because, for most of my life, neither my family nor I were prolific photographers. Before I go on with my animal stories, I thought I would share a couple of photos from my youth where I am enjoying animals.

Nine-year-old me with my Aunt Linda’s dog Laddie
College-age me with my Aunt Lorri’s cat

2) I Had a Caterpillar, Frog, Toad and Even a Clam as Temporary Childhood Pets While on Vacation in the Adirondacks.

Photo by Byron Burns on Unsplash

My family took several woods and lake vacations when I was growing up. On one of these trips, when I was about nine years old, vacationing at Schroon Lake in the Adirondacks, I collected some unusual pets during the time I was there: a green caterpillar called Dumb Dumb, a toad named Teddy, a frog named Freddy and even a clam I called Herbie.

Dumb Dumb received his insulting moniker, because I was frustrated when he would not crawl on the stick I so handily offered him. I was discovering nature all around me, and I wanted to capture him.

It was my dad who discovered Teddy, the toad. He rowed my mom and me across the lake, and we found Teddy on the opposite shore. Dad scooped him up and put him into the rowboat. Back at the cabin, Dad created a little habitat for Teddy, pulling up moss and other natural materials to line a cardboard box we kept out in the screened in porch. This is one of the best childhood memories I have of doing something with my dad.

Later, Teddy gained a roommate, Freddy, the frog. The amphibian apartment didn’t seem to suit Freddy as well as it did Teddy. He seemed to need more water than the tuna fish can swimming pool we had. He also had longer legs than Teddy and was a good jumper, so he often made his escape.

Herbie, the clam, whom I kept in a Kool-Aid can filled with water, turned out to be a pretty boring pet. He did absolutely nothing. You are probably wondering 1) why I wanted such a strange pet as a clam and 2) if there were clams to be found at the lake, why didn’t we just eat this one? We had already been told that this variety of clams was not good for eating. To explain what was going on in my nine-year-old brain, I was hoping that Herbie would not be so boring and would do something like open his shell once in a while. That did not happen.

All the animals were released at the end of our trip, except for Dumb Dumb whom my friend and I buried by the swing sets. I remember seeing Teddy and Freddy hop off in opposite directions. It looked like they were not going to live out “Frog and Toad are Friends.” Sigh.

2.) I Rescued Three Gerbils from My Dog.

Photo by Silje Rosenberg on Unsplash

I never had any pet rodents, although my older brothers tell me funny stories about some pet mice they had before I joined the family. One of these is so funny that I will add it as a little story extra. I did get to take home my class pet gerbils for one weekend when I was in the fourth grade. I had my dog, Trixie, then, but I was not at all worried that this would not be a good mix. The gerbils would be in their cage, right?

Trixie was so excited to see me carry those gerbils through the back door into our kitchen. She bounced up and down like she was made out of springs, bumping her head into the bottom side of the cage in my arms. That bump triggered a whole domino effect of crazy events. The cage door popped open. Three little gerbils made their escape and ran for their very lives towards my bedroom. I did not know what Trixie would do if she caught a gerbil, but I also didn’t want to find out. I raced Trixie, who seemed part greyhound at times, towards the bedroom and managed to catch all three by their tails before she did.

3.) I Picked Up a Cool Orange Salamander in the Poconos.

Photo by Tyler Donaghy on Unsplash

There isn’t any outstanding story connected with the orange salamander. At 14, I didn’t collect him as a pet, even a temporary one. It was just a moment of awe, where I plucked him off the tree where he was clinging, held him in my hand, admired his pretty color and put him back on his tree.

4.) I Found a Living Purple Starfish at the New Jersey Shore.

Photo by Mathis Jrdl

Similar to my salamander moment, I was amazed when, as a teenager, I found a small, living, purple starfish at a New Jersey beach. I had found dried starfish at souvenir stores before but never a living specimen right there at the beach. I was with a youth group. Another friend and I named him Sammy. We knew we had to throw him back into the ocean, but we were reluctant to do so immediately. We kept him by us in a bottle cap full of water for a little bit. He spilled out of the bottle cap somewhat, but it was a wider cap than some and was enough to keep him going so we could appreciate him a little longer before returning him to his ocean home.

5.) I Brought a Baby Turtle to a Chapel Service.

Photo by David Leveque on Unsplash

As a college student, I made a surprise discovery one time walking across campus. I stepped over what looked at first to be a dried leaf. Doing a double take, I realized it was a tiny baby turtle. I was on my way to a Christian ministry meeting, but I couldn’t ignore this little guy. I also remembered an interesting fact. Pet turtles were one of the few pets that, according to the student manual, were allowed in the dorms. So, I picked up the turtle and took him to my meeting where he was awed over by all the other students there.

Right after the meeting, we had an evening chapel service, since we were in the middle of a Bible conference. Attendance at chapel was required, and there were students there at the chapel entrances to check your name off the list, keeping track of attendance. Now, I had a dilemma. I knew I didn’t have time to go back to the dorm before evening chapel, and I had this cool little turtle I wanted to keep. So, I brought the turtle to chapel. I had to let him go while we stood up for the singing portion of the service, and I kept a close eye on him as he slowly meandered across the pew.

I named him Fred and got advice from a professor friend in the science department – I was a nanny to his children – on how to care for him. Unfortunately, Fred was not with me long, and I suspect I didn’t understand enough about caring for turtles and he wasn’t getting enough food. Still, I loved my time with Fred.

6.) I Fed a Wild Chipmunk from My Hand.

Photo by Alexander McFeron on Unsplash

My family continued the lake vacations even in my post-college years. After my brother Dan moved to Maine with his wife and family, lakes in the Portland area became a favorite vacation spot. On one vacation, we stayed at Raymond Pond. The owners of the cabin we rented talked about a wild chipmunk they named Chippy which they had tamed somewhat to eat seed from their hand. They kept bags of seed in the screened in porch and encouraged us to try it ourselves. We did, and it was great fun to have Chippy feed from our hands as we sat on a rock a little distance from the cabin.

One morning, Chippy hit the jackpot, discovering where we stashed all the extra seed. I discovered him in the porch, both cheeks filled to bursting with seed. I tried opening the door to let Chippy outside again, but the excited chipmunk got disoriented and confused and ran further into the cabin instead. I chased the poor excited thing, opening doors for him and trying to get him outside, as he ran around, spitting out a trail of seed wherever he went.

My Sister-In-Law Caught Me On the Floor Cuddling and Playing with Her Dogs.

Photo by Brandy Bellini on Unsplash

It was on another trip to Maine when Dan’s wife, Dorothy, noticed me sitting on their floor playing with their two dogs, a yellow Labrador named Latte and a Sheltie named Schnookums. I was letting them lie over me, petting them, rubbing their bellies and lavishing them with attention. Dorothy’s reaction? “Susan, you need to get a dog!”

I Began Following More and More Animal YouTubers.

Photo from Erin’s Ark channel on YouTube

Even before I was involved with animal work, I somehow began subscribing to more and more animal channels on Youtube. That may have been partly due to the last point, that I began populating my fictional worlds with more and more pets and animals, so I used the videos for information and inspiration.

Here are a few of my favorites …

Topi the Corgi — Short little films starring Topi in almost human situations, sometimes featuring his long-haired chihuahua buddies.

Vlog After College — Ryan vlogs about his daily adventures, always with his Corgi sidekick, Gatsby.

Griffin Frenchie — The adventures of Griffin and his Frenchie roommate, Haru.

Crusoe the Dachshund — Little stories acted out by voiced and costumed dachshunds: Crusoe, Oakley and Daphne

Doug the Pug — Song parodies, costumes, spoofs, all sorts of fun things starring Doug the Pug.

Erin’s Ark — British teen, Erin, shares about how she cares for her pets: guinea pigs, gerbils, bunnies, cat and dog.

Hello Denizen — Fun channel with hamsters in miniature scenes, bunnies that fly planes, iguanas that go bowling with their tongues, etc.

Tiger Craft Squad — Very creative videos with hamsters, cat, bunnies, chinchillas, other animals, in adventures with remote control cars, Lego creations, mazes and more.

Peekaboo Parrots — Features several birds, but the star is a yellow Indian ringneck parakeet named Bowie who has a voice like Elmo and says such expressions as “Tickle, tickle.”

Mr. Max TV — Max is an entertaining cockatoo with attitude.

I Began Populating My Fictional Worlds with More and More Pets and Animals.

Photo by Marcus Wallis on Unsplash

Jack Donegal of the “Jack Donegal Mystery” series has a beagle named George, and Grace Darby, who will have her own mystery series, has a Corgi named Shelley. Gradually, neighbors, supporting characters and even suspects had pets and not always either dogs or cats. My story worlds have a lot of single people, and I guess I feel like single characters need pet companions. Also, doing comedic writing, animals seem to bring comedy to situations.

My brother, as a kid, bought a pregnant mouse and hid it until Christmas as a gift.

My brother, Bruce, apparently, walked himself to a store that sold pets among other things. There, he bought a mouse, a pregnant mouse, as a gift for my brother Tim. Bruce didn’t understand the mouse was pregnant. Maybe, the cashier didn’t know it either. Who sells a mouse to a kid though?

Bruce hid the mouse in its cage in his closet, since it was a Christmas gift. Before Tim could get a Christmas surprise, Bruce got a surprise when several blind, hairless baby mice began wandering around his closet shelf. They were so small, they slipped through the bars of the cage. Bruce had to wake up our parents and explain the situation.

Get To Know Me Tag

Here are some interesting questions I’ve answered to help you get to know more about me. I found most of these questions from other lists online. If you like, you can try and answer these questions for yourself.

  1. What is your favorite childhood memory?

Photo by Evelyn on Unsplash

I have a few, but some of these I have discussed in other blog posts (if not this blog site.) One Christmas memory stands out from when I was a junior higher. The youngest of my older brothers, Dan, was a college student at the time. I took a metal shop class that year and gave him a personalized desk organizer I had made in metal shop as a Christmas gift. I also got very creative with the letter I attached to it, supposedly a letter from Santa. It started out something like this, “Mrs. Claus, the reindeer and I have had a conference, and we decided that you deserve this.” Then, I proceeded to list his sins which included smacking his little sister on the behind and singing punk songs like “Smash Your Face.” Dan is the clown of the family, and the “Smash Your Face” song was his self-penned funny response to “Bang Your Head.” He read the letter out loud to the family and laughed until he cried.

2. Have you ever been to Europe?


Photo by Krisztian Tabori on Unsplash


Yes, I spent the summer between my junior and senior years of college teaching English in Debrecen, Hungary. That trip also included a little weekend in Vienna, Austria. The next summer, I taught English for three months in Riga, Latvia and also enjoyed a little weekend in Tallinn, Estonia. At the end of that summer, I spent a week traveling to different cities in western Europe, including Paris, a town in Normandy Beach, London, Brussels and Bruges, Belgium and Bruhl, Germany.

3. Who is your favorite male YouTuber?

I like several, but I’ll say Brian Hull, because I’d really like to share his fun stuff with you. Brian is a voice impressionist who does impressions of characters from Disney, Pixar, Dreamworks and such. He even has some videos where he does his impressions at Disneyland or Universal Studios while conversing with the characters.

Other YouTubers I like are Caleb Hyles who sings Disney, Broadway and other fun things, Julien Neel who makes multi-tracking acapella videos where he sings all four parts, and some other crazy guys like Dude Perfect, who do all kinds of trick shots, Crazy Russian Hacker and Mark Rober who does crazy science experiments.

4. Who is your favorite female YouTuber?

I really enjoy Malinda Kathleen Reese and her Google Translate videos. In her videos, she sings songs that have been translated back and forth in multiple languages with hilarious Mad Lib style results. Here, Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You,” which was a bit sexual, becomes an innocent song about a nerd who just likes geometry and biology. There are a few random references to “loins” though. Watch for the “gradually watermelon” part, which became a catchphrase for her T-shirt merch.

I also enjoy Bailey Pelkman, a sweet singer who sings covers of many popular songs and some others who have been mentioned in previous posts such as Erutan, a medieval/Celtic style singer, the Mona Lisa Twins and Harp Twins.

5. Who is your favorite stand-up comedian?

Brother Dan introduced me to the genius of this crazy comedian, Tim Hawkins. He has hilarious but clean comedy, and I think I have probably seen all of his videos. In this short clip, he explains the differences between boys and girls.

One fun thing about Tim Hawkins is that he incorporates a lot of music in his acts. He plays guitar, does a bunch of song parodies and is pretty good at impersonating different singers and their voices and styles. Here, he sings a song perfect for coffee lovers.

6. Which sport is your favorite?


Photo by Eugene Lim on Unsplash

This is an interesting one. I like watching Olympic sports, and I’m probably like a lot of other women when I say that my favorite Olympic sports are gymnastics and figure skating. I guess I like “pretty” sports including some that have been debated as to whether they are even sports at all, such as cheerleading and synchronized swimming. I seem to like ones that are visually interesting and have some sort of acrobatic element to them, so I enjoy watching the diving in the Summer Olympics and skiing and snowboarding in the Winter Olympics. Also, some of the Extreme Sports like stunt biking, parkour and other things are interesting for similar reasons, and I sometimes look into these things for my mystery adventure stories, since they seem fitting for adventures.

7. Did you ever slip in public?


Photo by Rose Elena on Unsplash

My worst slips on ice were in the seventh or eighth grade. This was at a time when most kids walked to school. One winter school day, the sidewalks were extremely icy. Looking back on it, I think they really should have cancelled school. Also, at this time, it was not trendy to carry a backpack or book bag, so I was carrying a big pile of school books in my arms. I completely wiped out in front of a neighbor’s house, and my books went scattering everywhere. Just as I had gathered them up again, I wiped out a second time. The neighbor came out of his house to check on me.

8. Can you spell your name in Chinese?


Photo by Marco Zuppone on Unsplash

No, I can not. However, one of my good friends, Iris, is from Hong Kong, and another good friend, Jeannie, is from South Korea. One time when the three of us were together with our friend, Adrienne, Iris wrote my name out for me in Chinese and Jeannie did the same for me in Korean. They both wrote on the same slip of paper which I still have hanging in my room. If I really wanted to study the paper, I probably could learn to write my name in Chinese … and Korean too.

8. Do you like poetry?


Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

I do like poetry. My favorite poet is Robert Frost, but I also like sonnets by Shakespeare and Elizabeth Barrett Browning and romantic poetry from Shelley and Keats. I can’t say that I read poetry often, but I enjoyed studying these poets as an English major. Sometimes, I have gone for a hike, packing a snack and a poetry book, then enjoying both treats together once I was into the woods. It seemed fitting as a lot of poetry is nature-oriented. Of course, the Psalms are also poetry, and Psalms is probably my favorite book of the Bible.

9. Which flower is your favorite?


Photo by Milada Vigerova on Unsplash

I became interested in orchids after seeing impressive displays in greenhouses at Longwood Gardens, New York Botanical Gardens and even at Duke’s Farm in my local area. Pinterest seemed to understand this about me before I did and kept recommending more and more orchid photos for my Flowers board. There are so many interesting varieties of orchids. Some of my reading has piqued this interest as well. I read a book called The Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean, which dealt with true crime, someone who illegally obtained the flower from protected land and some crazed collectors. Also, Nero Wolfe, the private investigator in Rex Stout’s mysteries, is an orchid grower and connoisseur.

10. Are you a foodie?


Photo by Nadine Primeau on Unsplash

I am probably a foodie by some definitions. I am pretty open to different kinds of cuisine, am almost constantly finding new recipes and have developed a somewhat sophisticated palate. I am really aiming to eat healthy, so I’m hoping to be a healthy foodie. Sometimes, “foodie” is meant to refer to a kind of food snobbishness. I don’t think that fits me as well. I can still handle some down homey, not so gourmet fare.

11. What song did you listen to last?

Above is the song I listened to last. The song is, apparently, from a Bollywood movie, and there are clips from the movie worked into the video. Neither the violinist nor the song were familiar to me until a few days ago when it showed up in my YouTube recommendations. I think it showed up because I follow other violinists on YouTube and because I’ve enjoyed the Bollywood dances on Wii Just Dance games. For some of the latter, I was curious enough to look up the songs and see the performances in their original context. I’ve never actually seen a full Bollywood movie.

12. What was your most awkward moment while visiting someone’s home?


Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

Here is another junior high story. Maybe, that is just the period when awkward things happen. A good friend of mine had me over for dinner with some of her extended family, not just her immediate family whom I knew but some aunts and uncles also. We had chocolate cake for dessert. As I was eating my dessert, I saw what looked like a big piece of unmelted chocolate in the center frosting layer. I put the whole piece in my mouth and quickly discovered it wasn’t chocolate at all but a piece of metal. I knew the metal was in the cake by some terrible mistake. I was a shy and introverted kid, and I was afraid of making a fuss over it and embarrassing the aunt who had made the cake. I don’t remember how everything unfolded, but soon, everyone knew what happened. Apparently, a part of the mixer had fallen off into the cake. One of the uncles was not afraid to make a big fuss and proceeded to tell me that I should wear the metal piece on a string around my neck, and when anyone asked, I could tell them the story about how I almost died. I thought this was rather funny, but I was afraid to laugh, because I don’t think he was intending to be humorous.

13. What is your favorite dessert?


Photo by Suhyeon Choi on Unsplash

I really enjoy chocolate and coffee flavors, so I like a really chocolatey dessert, something with coffee flavor like tiramisu or a combination of both such as a mocha cake. I also really enjoy cheesecake.

14. Do you like history?


Photo by Leora Dowling on Unsplash

I do. I’m not sure if I was always conscious of liking it when I was in school. I wasn’t fond of memorizing dates, but I’m glad now that I did and have successfully memorized a lot of important historical dates. I also have memories of struggling to copy down outlines in a high school history class and keeping up with the lecture at the same time. I do remember enjoying reading about Queen Elizabeth I and King Henry VIII in school. This kind of interest in royal history has stuck with me, and I enjoy watching history period movies on royals or reading books about them.

Now, I can enjoy learning about history in my own way and might watch a historical film or read historical fiction or non-fiction. I like antiques also and watch “Pawn Stars” and “American Pickers” on History Channel. The guys from these two shows, (Mike, Frank, Rick, Corey, Chumlee), are known in my house collectively as “the guys,” as in “Can we switch to History Channel and see if ‘the guys’ are on?” Sometimes, there are other guys on this channel like “Swamp Men,” but those aren’t the guys.

15. What’s the most silly thing you’ve done in public?


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This anecdote deals with Question 2 and my time in Hungary. During my time there, we visited a large public fountain outside one of the universities. Our group of seven teachers was accompanied by our translator, Edouard. Some of us had a desire to walk through the fountain, but we were hesitant. We realized it was a little bit goofy and didn’t want to commit a cross-cultural faux pas and be labelled as “crazy Americans.” When we expressed all of this to Edouard, who became a good friend to us, he jumped into the fountain first and led the way. We couldn’t be blamed if a native Hungarian took the lead. So, all seven of us paraded through the fountain, led by our kindly Hungarian friend.