Happy Things for 2015: Bloggers Unite in Flood of Gratitude

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Christmas scene – Greenville, South Carolina

50 Things that Make me feel Happy and/or Grateful:

my 2 daughters
my 2 grandsons
my wife and her family
spicy food
fresh fruit
.
artichokes
kite flying
skiing
hiking
my health
.
travel experiences
education
being appreciated for my volunteer activities
exercise options
being able to drive – sightseeing
.
memories of past friendships
a few good friends
being loved
books
libraries
.
the internet
the ability to write
clean air
clean water
trees
.
blog friends
sufficient resources to live comfortably
to be of service to others
to teach those willing to learn
to learn from those willing to teach
.
basic handyman skills
good vision
technology
television
movies
.
comedians who share their humor
irony
good writing
science and new discoveries
gummy bears
.
the ability to still be amazed
action and adventure movies
a good book
being able to communicate in another language (Spanish)
homemade cookies
.
a good cup of coffee in the morning
home-cooked meals
retirement
dogs — I like dogs
unexpected phone calls from friends

If you’d like to join in, here’s how it works: set a timer for 10 minutes; timing this is critical. Once you start the timer, start your list. The goal is to write 50 things that made you happy in 2015, or 50 thing that you feel grateful for. The idea is to not think too hard; write what comes to mind in the time allotted. When the timer’s done, stop writing. If you haven’t written 50 things, that’s ok. If you have more than 50 things and still have time, keep writing; you can’t feel too happy or too grateful! When I finished my list, I took a few extra minutes to add links and photos.
To join the bloggers who have come together for this project: 1) Write your post and publish it (please copy and paste the instructions from this post, into yours) 2) Click on the blue frog at the bottom of Dawn’s Post. 3) That will take you to another window, where you can paste the URL to your post. 4) Follow the prompts, and your post will be added to the Blog Party List.

A Carolina Tale

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Photo of Reedy River from S. Main Street bridge, downtown Greenville, SC.

In the category of “You Learn Something New Every Day,” I learned some interesting American lore rooted here in my new hometown of Greenville, SC.

PoinsettJust south of Greenville City Hall in front of the old County Court House (now the M. Judson Bookstore) on S. Main Street sits a bronze statue of Joel Roberts Poinsett (1779-1851). Born in Charleston, SC, son of a wealthy physician, Poinsett was a physician, statesman and diplomat.

He was educated in Connecticut and in Europe, where he traveled extensively including Russia and the Middle East and became fluent in several languages. He returned to the U.S. where President James Madison named him ‘special agent’ to Chile and Argentina (1810-1814, 50+ years before the U.S. had ambassadors). He returned home to be elected to the S. Carolina House of Representative (1816-1819). He was elected for two terms to the U.S. House of Representatives (1821-1825).

Poinsett resigned his seat in Congress when President John Quincy Adams named him the first Minister to Mexico (an appointment turned down by Andrew Jackson).

Poinsett’s interest in science led him to discover La Flor de la Noche Buena (the Christmas Eve flower). He brought specimens back to the U.S. where it became know as the Poinsettia.

In addition to further public service as Secretary of War in the Cabinet of President Andrew Jackson, Poinsett also was a cofounder of the National Institute for the Promotion of Science and the Useful Arts, a group of politicians advocating for the use of the “Smithson bequest” for a national museum that would showcase the most significant items from American history, which eventually became known as the Smithsonian Institution.

Note: A block further south on Main Street leads to a bronze statue of Charles H. Townes , (1915-2015) who was born in Greenville, SC. Widely recognized for his work as an inventor and a physicist, in 1964 Townes was awarded a Nobel Prize in Physics with Nikolay Basov and Aleksandr Prokhorov for contributions to fundamental work in quantum electronics leading to the development of the maser and laser.

Why I’m for Bernie, by Jeff Kaplan

florence for bernie

This guest post was written by Jeff Kaplan.  Jeff and I met at an organizing meeting for supporters of Bernie Sanders. Jeff wanted to share his thoughts on why he was supporting Bernie, however he did not want to start his own blog so I offered him a place to make his words heard.  If you would like to guest post and are a supporter of Bernie Sanders for President I hope to hear from you.  Florence for Bernie

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I have been following Berniefor a long time, since he was elected mayor of Burlington, VT.  He calls himself a democratic socialist.  I call myself the same.  Socialists are used to dwelling on the political margins.  So Bernie is a rare creature, a successful American politician who is a socialist. How can this be?  It turns out Bernie’s socialism is pretty gentle.

As mayor, and as a congressman…

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Scotland’s Inchcolm Abbey and Rosslyn Chapel

Flashback Friday: Two years ago today, we were exploring the countryside in Scotland. This was part of what I still refer to as the ‘ABC Tour.’

Applecore

Inchcolm Abbey on a perfect Scottish summer day Inchcolm Abbey on a perfect Scottish summer day

The ABC Tour (Another Blessed Church) continues with a day trip by bus and ferry to the Inchcolm Abbey (‘Inch’ being the Old Celtic word for island). It is unseasonably warm for Edinburgh, so we chose the perfect day to be on the water for the 45 minute boat ride out into the Firth of Forth. As we approach the island a local grey seal bobs his head above the water’s surface to check us out.

Boat dock and the Firth of Forth from Inchcolm Abbey Boat dock and the Firth of Forth from Inchcolm Abbey

Inchcolm Abbey is where monks lived and studied as far back as the 12th century. Nowadays it is also the favorite nesting place for a thousand seagulls, plus a few puffins and other migratory birds. The grass bordering the pathways along the half-mile long island is strewn with windblown white feathers from the nearby nesting sites…

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My How You’ve…Changed

Reflections

Before Mike and I lived in any new city, on any continent, we researched the area as best we could on the internet. We tried to find other expats who lived in the area so that we could ask them pointed questions about life in that city. We located grocery stores, bakeries, fresh markets, the local library, banks, and transit centers on a city map. If possible we also tried to locate information on crime statistics in a certain city.

Because we were heading back to Olympia, Washington, and we had only been away for seven years, we figured we knew enough about the area. Thus, we did no prior research. Before arriving we had planned to find something to rent in or near the downtown Olympia core.

Somehow, somewhere and without many people noticing, downtown Oly became a not-so-nice place to live. They even managed to turn my much-loved…

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The Fleecing of America, or Where Did All of Our Money Go?

Part 2 in a series of stories about getting reacquainted with living in the United States after three years abroad.

Applecore Too

I believed the reports from the Bureau of Labor Statistics that the U.S. inflation rate has held at around 1-2% for the past five years. However, I noticed from our trip abroad to Sicily in 2012 that one U.S. dollar was worth about .80 Euros, and on our most recent trip through Europe in 2014 one dollar was worth about .72 Euros. That is a 10% loss of the purchase power of my dollars in two years. Something is not right.

Shortly after our return to the U.S., I had a conversation with a friend of mine who was trained as a financial advisor at Morgan-Stanley. I told him I noticed a discrepancy between what my dollars were worth and what our government was telling me about the inflation rate. I mentioned also that my wife and I both were experiencing severe sticker shock¹ at the price of basic…

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The Duping of America

I created a new blog, Applecore Too, where I will post stories about things other than my travel experiences. This is the first post on my new site. It is an opinion piece about the United States based on my perspective having traveled on four continents over the past three years. Check it out and let me know what you think.

Applecore Too

Yes, America, we have been duped. Language is one way we are manipulated through mass media. Deep divisions between groups are often the result of stereotyping. We use words like weapons on one another to reinforce these stereotypes. The people on the left are labeled liberals, socialists, commies, takers, bleeding hearts, and libtards. When religion creeps into the conversation, a lefty is often called godless, atheist, and anti-Christ. People on the right are labeled nut jobs, homophobes, racist, greedy, mean-spirited, and enemies of the poor. Through the prism of religion, a righty is often called Bible thumper, faithfool, and Christard. There are also derogatory terms especially for Muslims and Jews. We have all read and heard them – towel head, raghead, Hebe, Yid, Kike.

Within the safety of our private internet world, we freely throw out verbal bombshells to retaliate or to provoke. Pick a topic – climate change, gun…

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