Saturday, April 30, 2016

Animals, Sisterhood, Family and God

During the month of April I learned a lot of things. I found many unusual animals during my A to Z BloggingChallenge. A very interesting one is called an echidna.  I wonder if you can guess which animal it most resembles. If your curiosity is raised check out my post, E is for Echidna

Did you know it is possible to have joy and grief at the same time? I found it to be true as I was with my mom during her last days on earth. I wrote about it in this post – Life Can Be Hard.

More and more I'm realizing how we women are really a sisterhood linking arms across all barriers, joining together in solidarity and love with a desire to encourage one another wherever we are in our lives. These April articles at SheLoves by Michele Morin and Lisha Epperson, and my own prayer for unity inspired by Lisha's words speak of that sisterhood.

Now that spring is here I am reminded how much I enjoy sitting on the porch swing listening to the birds, the chimes, the carpenter bees... Wait, not so much the bees.

The importance of family has come back to the forefront of my mind. It's a priority to make time to be with those you love, because you don't know how long you will have each other. In my mother's things I found a small, lined journal with a Bible verse on each page. She had not used it, so I am now using it to record prayers and thoughts sometimes in response to the verse written there. Here is what I wrote in the front of it:

This will be my special prayer journal, for my mom, Gay Sanders, was a prayer warrior.

With sickness, losing my mom and dealing with all the legal stuff that comes afterward, this has been a difficult month. Often people have been very kind and helpful and I have had patience. Other times I have been frustrated and tense, complaining about all the red tape and wondering why people make things so hard.

But then I am reminded that God is always with me, giving me strength and peace. He forgives when I fail and His grace is always abundant. I am blessed with family members who care and are always ready to help when they can.  Both my mom's church family and our own church and friends have blessed us with their words and actions. They have shown much love. The following verse has definitely been true for me as I've walked through this month.

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
(Psalm 46:1 KJV)

What about you? What have you learned during the month of April?

I'm linking up with:

Z is for Zorilla

The zorilla is also known as a striped polecat or African polecat. Now I thought a polecat was a skunk, but a zorilla is actually related to the weasel.  They do put out a smell when threatened but I read that it was not as bad as that of a skunk. This was the only picture I found free to use, but zorillas are usually black with white stripes going down the back.

I'm not quite sure why it got the name zorilla since it comes from the the Spanish word zorro which means fox. They live in Africa and are fairly small animals. They stand about 6 inches tall at the shoulder and including the tail are about 28 inches long. Their weight range is from 1 - 3 lbs.

(Zorilla or striped polecat)

Zorillas have very sharp teeth and eat small rodents, insects, snakes, birds and other small prey. When they are first born they can't see or hear and are pretty vulnerable. By the time they are 33 days old they have teeth. The mother stays close by until they are full grown which is when they reach 20 weeks of age. They may be small animals but are territorial and aggressive. 

Zorillas also make several different sounds when communicating with each other. They have been known to growl in warning, use high pitched screams when they are about to release their toxic spray, and use a vibrating scream which moves from high to low if they are about to surrender to an enemy. The young ones have their own sets of sounds to convey feelings of alarm or happiness.

You can find more information at WikipediaKruger National Park, or Animals Town.

Day 26, the final day of the A to Z Blogging Challenge!!!!!!

Friday, April 29, 2016

Y is for Yak

The yak is in the same family as cattle, oxen, bison and buffalo. They are very large animals standing up to 7 ft. at the shoulder and can weigh over 2,000 pounds. Females are about one third the size of males. 

They have long, shaggy fur which helps to keep them warm. They also have thick, sharp horns that are useful for breaking through snow to get to the food below. Of course they are also used in self defence.

Yaks live at elevations up to 18,000 ft. where there are mountains and plateaus. They love the thick grassy areas and also eat flowers and herbs. They are herd animals with up to 100 in a group made up mostly of females and the young ones with only a few males.

They can be found in Tibet and in the southern part of central Asia in the Himalaya area. There may also be some living in Russia and Mongolia. There really are not many wild yaks today. 

Most yaks are domesticated and can be used for pulling heavy farm machinery. They also are kept for meat, milk, butter and fiber. Even their droppings are dried and used for fuel. They are also useful for carrying loads through the mountain passes as shown by the picture above.

Yaks can walk soon after they are born. They are weaned and become independent at the age of 1 year but are not full grown until they reach the age of 7 or 8. Their life span is about 20 years.

You can find more information at Wikipedia and a-z animals.

This is Day 25 in the A to Z Blogging Challenge. Only one more day to go!

I'm also linking up with #LiteracyMusingMondays.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

X is for X-Ray Tetra

This interesting fish got its name because of its skin being so translucent you can actually see its backbone. This, along with its silvery-yellowish scales make a good camouflage when in dense vegetation or water shimmering from the reflection of the sun. Their size is only about 2 inches and they can live up to 5 years.

X-ray Tetra are small schooling fish that live in the Amazonian coastal waters of South America, more specifically near Brazil, Venezuela, Guiana and Guyana. They are able to live in fresh water and can adapt to brackish water. They are found in the section of water between the bottom and middle.

Another interesting thing about the X-ray Tetra is its bony internal structure. It is a Weberian apparatus which defines as 
"(in certain fishes) a chain of small bones and ligaments connecting the inner ear with the air bladder." 
It is used to pick up sound waves which accounts for their acute sense of hearing. X-ray tetra are pretty peaceful, getting along well with other species that share their space. 

Their diet consists of small crustaceans, worms and insects. The biggest threat to the X-ray Tetra is water pollution.

You can find more information about them at Wikipedia, One Kind and a-z animals.

This is Day 24 of the A to Z Blogging Challenge.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

A Taste of Coffee

There is something special about sharing a cup of coffee or tea with a friend or family member. We almost always want to have a cuppa while we visit. It seems to help make it a relaxing atmosphere where we can laugh or cry together, pray together, catch up on the latest news or just sit together in silence. Let's pretend we are sitting on the porch swing enjoying the outdoors as I tell you about my journey with coffee.

When I was a child, every morning as I came into the kitchen, I would smell the coffee. It was such a tantalizing aroma, I thought it must be a very delicious drink. My mom liked it black and piping hot. My dad wanted it to cool quickly so he could drink it right away with his breakfast and then head to work.

Every day I asked my dad to let me taste it and every day the answer was a no until one day he said I could have a sip. I remember the wide mouth, light blue plastic cup he used. In would go the coffee and then milk and sugar. I think he used a lot of sugar. I carefully lifted it to my lips and took a sip expecting to relish the taste.

Guess what? I did not like it at all.

To tell you the truth I think it was because it was so sweet. It certainly did not taste like it smelled. From that day on I decided I didn't like coffee. Even after I was married I would hardly ever drink it. While my husband had his coffee I would drink a glass of milk. Once in awhile I would have a cup of coffee if it was being served with a dessert, but only rarely did I enjoy the taste.

Sometime after my second child was born I began to acquire a taste for the dark liquid. I always put milk or a little dry creamer in it and a little bit of sugar until my sister-in-law introduced me to half and half. After that I didn't want anything else in it. I began drinking coffee most every morning with a little half and half and no sugar. That is the way I still like it today many years later.

What is it about coffee that so many people must have that first cup in the morning?

Is it the caffeine or does it just become a habit we can't do without? I usually only have one cup a day, but sometimes will make exceptions. Our taste in coffee has evolved over the years. My husband and I tried several kinds and for a long time our favorite was Folgers Columbian. Nothing else would do.

That was before we tasted organic and fair trade coffee.

We have a local roasting company called Leopard Forest Coffee Company. Even their decaf tastes good. We always buy the beans and grind our own. One of our favorite flavors is Highland Mist which is a blend of dark and medium roast. My husband has it almost every day except for occasionally trying other flavors. I will have it when we are out of my favorite. 

My absolute favorite coffee flavor is Jamaican Me Crazy which has a blend of caramel and hazelnut. It is also roasted locally at a place called West End Coffee Roasters. I have it every morning with a little half and half, though sometimes I get the real cream off the top of the gallon of raw milk we also purchase through a local food exchange known as CAFE. It stands for Clemson Area Food Exchange and we are able to get lots of local food through them.

Over the years we have used a variety of coffee makers. 

They included electric and stove top percolators, 12 cup drip coffee makers and those that make one cup at a time. We have even had it made in a pot over a campfire. Our current favorite way of making coffee is with an Aeropress. The taste is oh so smooth and you won't find any grounds in the cup. On top of that it is one of the simplest ways to brew coffee. 

My husband heats the water to a temperature of 180 deg. F, then pours it into the chamber and stirs for 10 seconds. Then he inserts the plunger and applies gentle pressure for about 30-60 seconds and voila! You have espresso or you can add more hot water to make a regular cup of coffee. You can make it a latte by adding hot milk rather than extra hot water.

Mostly I don't like sweet coffee except when it's a Peppermint Mocha latte. They're the best! Occasionally I will enjoy a frozen coffee drink but for the most part we like our coffee strong and hot!

What about you? Do you like coffee? What is your favorite kind and how do you brew it? Do you like to have a cuppa when you visit?

I'm linking up with
#wholemama where the prompt this week is COFFEE.

W is for Wildebeest

Did you know that the wildebeest and the gnu are the same animal? I learned tonight that the gnu was given the Afrikaans name, wildebeest, because it has a menacing appearance. It actually is a member of the antelope family.  

Both male and female grow horns which are sharp and curved. They can weigh up to 600 pounds and can reach a height of 4.5 ft. at the shoulders with a body length of about 8 ft. With large shaggy heads, strong upper body and thin legs, they look like they are made up of several different animals. The wildebeest can live up to 20 years.  

They move in herds on the grassy plains and open woodlands in eastern, central and southern Africa. Sometimes they graze with zebras in mixed herds. Every year they travel around 1,000 miles as they migrate following the rain in order to have the best grass. Some wildebeests do not migrate but are nomadic and some have a small home range. Those that do migrate cover about 30 miles a day.

Newborn calves weigh about 45 pounds and are able to stand within minutes of birth. In just a few days they are ready to travel with the herd staying close to the mothers. Because they travel in large herds, they are better able to protect themselves from attack by predators like the crocodile, lion, cheetah and others.

You can find more information at Wikipedia, National Geographic and a-z animals.

This is Day 23 of the A to Z Blogging Challenge.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

V is for Vicuna

The vicuna is the smallest animal in the family that includes camels, alpacas and llamas. They stand 3 ft. high at the shoulder and weigh about 150 pounds. Their length from head to tail is about 5 ft. To me their head looks sort of like a deer. I think they are beautiful animals.

The vicuna lives high in the Andes of South America at altitudes up to 15,000 ft. The grasses are tough, but their teeth are able to handle it as they are continually growing like those of rodents. The temperature is fairly warm during the day but can drop pretty low at night. The vicuna has thick hair that traps layers of warm air so they will stay warm. 

They are highly valued for their wool, but can only be shorn every two or three years. This makes it very expensive to buy. They are also considered the national animal of Peru. Their feet are well suited for the rocky terrain. Because they walk on the soles of their feet, they are able to flex their toes which enable them to grab onto the rocks and pebbles on the hillside.

Vicuna are very shy animals, but have acute hearing so usually know when danger is near. They live in herds with 5 -10 members which usually include one male, several females and young ones. They defend two territorial areas, one for feeding and one for sleeping a little higher up for better protection.

More information can be found at Wikipedia, Blue Planet Biomes, and Ultimate Ungulate.

This is Day 22 of the A to Z Blogging Challenge. Only 4 days left!

Monday, April 25, 2016

U is for Uakari

Doesn't this monkey look interesting? With such a red face you'd think he was embarrassed all the time. The reason for the red coloring is that the skin is thin and has many tiny capillaries filled with blood just below the surface. A pale face would indicate that the uakari was not healthy.

Uakari are pretty small as monkeys go. Their length is anywhere from 15-22.5 inches, with their weight ranging from 6.5-7.7 pounds. Their fur is long and thick. The color can be reddish brown, black or white. 

Uakari live in South America mainly in Brazil, Peru and parts of Columbia. They spend most of their time high up in the trees and usually live in groups of about 10 to 30, although sometimes there are as many as 100. Their tails are very short so they are not able to hang from trees as other monkeys. 

Uakari do not reproduce as often as other animals bearing only one infant every couple of years. Their diet includes mostly fruits, leaves, insects and some small animals. They have powerful jaws and can easily crack open a Brazil nut, which has a very hard shell.

This is Day 21 of the A to Z Blogging Challenge.

I'm linking up with #LMMLinkup.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Literacy Musing Mondays: The Magic of Books

Welcome back to another week of Literacy Musing Mondays! I had the honor of writing the guest post this week. In it I share with you my love of reading and how books have always been special to me. You'll hear about some of my favorite books and authors. The links I share are not affiliate but only there for your convenience. Hope you enjoy!

The Magic of Books
By Gayl Wright

Books have always been a part of my life from my earliest remembrances. I know my mom read to me a lot and taught me how to read before I ever went to school. My dad was an avid reader bringing home armloads of books every week from the local library. He usually took me with him and I remember eagerly looking forward to those weekly visits. 

My dad always took a long time finding books, so I would spend time perusing the shelves and then read while I waited for him. I think I read all the biographies in the kid's section and many of the fiction offerings. That was how I found Beverly Cleary's books, and I remember reading about the antics of Henry Huggins and his dog, Ribsy

Reading opened up a whole new world for me. 

Through my books I could travel far beyond the little suburban neighborhood I called home. I passed the joy of reading on to my children as we had reading time every afternoon. While I read aloud they would draw or color, sometimes trying to illustrate the story. As they got older we incorporated tea time into our afternoon reading. 

We devoured books and lived vicariously through the characters. 

One day on the Alps with Heidi, another day in Holland with Hans Brinker, or seeing through the eyes of Jo from Little Women. We traveled with Arthur Ransome's Swallows and Amazons characters, experienced the open prairie with Laura Ingalls Wilder, traipsed through Narnia with the Pevensie children, went on adventures with The Hobbit, and learned about life on Prince Edward Island with Anne of Green Gables. 

Reading teaches us about relationships between different people. 

In our reading we have good and bad examples that show us a lot about human nature and how to relate to each other. Some books that helped me in living out my Christianity in a natural way were those by the Scottish author George MacDonald. His stories are full of adventure but also truth. His characters were true to who they were and came alive in my mind as I was drawn into each story.

As an adult I still enjoy biographies and autobiographies. 

One book that is full of almost every emotion you can imagine is The Trapp Family Singers by Maria Trapp. Even though they faced many hard things, Maria still managed to find comical ways to describe some of them. While reading aloud to my daughters there were times we were all laughing so hard it brought tears and I could hardly keep reading. 

Other types of non-fiction books are also my friends.

Charlotte Mason and Ruth Beechick helped me stay focused when I started homeschooling. Edith Schaeffer gave insightful advice in the areas of prayer and hospitality. Books by G.K. ChestertonC.S. Lewis, and Os Guinness have been invaluable as they contain much food for thought. 

The most important book I have read and continue to read daily is my Bible. 

In it are true stories of faith, adventure, obedience and disobedience, miracles, and direction for all of life. This book tells me of God's love and forgiveness and hope. It teaches how he gives grace and strength and comfort. It shows me how to trust and remember that God is always with me no matter where I go. 

What about you? What books have made an impression on you?

Gayl Wright makes her home in lovely Sunset, SC. Married for 41 years, mother of 7, grandmother of 13, she enjoys blogging, writing poetry, reading, creating art, interacting with people and spending time outside enjoying nature. She is learning to embrace life fully, observing details, finding beauty in unexpected places. Her goal in life is to demonstrate the existence of and to glorify God in whatever she does and to encourage others in the process. You can connect with her on her blog, Thoughts and Art from my Heart, also on FacebookTwitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

I would also like to announce that I am being welcomed as a new permanent host for Literacy Musing Mondays!


Now on to our weekly Literacy Musing Monday's linkup. First let's

Leslie@Forever Joyful
Mary @Maryandering Creatively
Tami @ThisMomsDelight

Now let's celebrate reading and learning by reviewing:

Last Week’s Top Clicked Post!

By Georgie Lee

Georgie discusses how she started her career trying to write for the movie screen. When she did not achieve success in the field, she did not let go of her dream to write. She just tweaked it and switched genres. Her story is very inspirational.

My Favorite Post of the Week:

Simply Tuesday: A Book Review

by Kristin at Love Mercy Walk Humbly

I have this book myself and have found it to be a great source of encouragement no matter what season you are in life. Kristin gives a wonderful review with some excerpts from the book. 

Remember to check out other hosts' blogs to see which posts from last week were their favorites.

Want to be the next to be featured! Just link up a post and if you are read the most, we will feature you. Also please make sure you link back to us so others will know about our link up and join in. We try to make it worth your while to linkup with us by promoting your posts across our social media networks. We also pin our most clicked and featured posts to our Pinterest Board each week!


Now, it is time to link up to the Literacy Musing Mondays hop! You will have until Saturdays at 12 p.m. now to link up! So come back often. :)

Linkup Rules:

  1. Include a link back or the blog hop button linked to this hop on your posts.
  2. Link up the urls to your posts not to your blog.
  3. Please remember this is a family-friendly linkup. Although we believe in the right for adults to read whatever they want to read, we prefer to read wholesome posts that feature literature that edify and uplift families. We reserve the right to delete any posts that are not family friendly. We love all kinds of literature and genres including family-friendly inspirational romances, fantasy, or science fiction. We do not welcome posts featuring books or written with excessive violence, sexual content, or cursing. These posts will be deleted.
  4. We also want to be loving community by supporting one another. Please make a point to do this this week! Visit the two posts before yours and at least one other blogger's post of your choice! I want to see lots of clicks on everyone's posts. I know as a blogger, you know how it feels not receive comments, right. :) Plus, you could be honored as our Top Commentor if you submit your report to Mary! Remember it is also nice to follow them on their social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook.
  5. Follow your hosts and co-hosts on their social media.
  6. Tweet about the link up too.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

A Prayer for Unity

For Five Minute Friday this week the word prompt is UNITE.  I had a few ideas of what to write about, but it wasn't until I read Lisha Epperson's offering for #GiveMeGrace that these words came to me. For all the sisters God has given me through friendship and love, in real life and online I pray this prayer.

May God unite our hearts
In love and peace
May we join each other
In praise to God

Fill us with your spirit
May we with grace
Move through this world as one
A sisterhood

Connect our hearts, oh God
In worship and joy
May we link together
In harmony

I'm linking up with:

T is for Thorny Devil

The thorny devil is the only lizard of its kind and Australia is the only place it can be found. They are between 6 and 8 inches long and can live from 12-20 years. Their weight is about the same as an average size mouse. They may be small creatures, but I wouldn't want to meet one.

Thorny devils change color depending on the temperature. You can see they are pretty spiky creatures. The spikes come in handy for protection from predators. Their diet is mostly ants, and they can eat several thousand in one day.

One of the most interesting things about these little devils is that they have a fake head on the back of their necks. When they are in danger they can just dip their real heads leaving the fake one to fool the enemy.

More information can be found at Wikipedia, a-z animals, and Wired.

This is Day 20 of the A to Z Challenge.

I'm linking up with the #LMMLinkup!