A to Z Reasons to Smile - "Z"

Each day this month I've been sharing a list of things corresponding to the alphabet letter of the day that encourage and uplift me, the little things that make smile. I hope you'll join me, and maybe add some of your own in the comments! 
~Photo Credit: Papa Bear~
"Z" Things That Make Me Smile... 

Zebra - I'm starting off my final post for this year's A to Z Challenge with the classic "Z is for Zebra.".  The adorable zebra above resides at the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center near Glen Rose, Texas, along with a host of other wild creatures, many of them exotic.  We spent a weekend at a cabin on the Paluxy River a few years back, and our drive through the wildlife center was definitely the highlight of the trip.  We purchased feed for the animals along with all the other visitors, and despite the necessary warnings not to feed them directly from our hands, the animals were well aware that the vehicles passing through contained people with food to share, and they thought nothing of walking up and sticking their faces in the truck window for a hand out.  It was a blast!  This gorgeous guy seemed to be checking out his long eyelashes in our mirror before moving in for some treats.

Zodiac - Whether you believe in astrology or not, it's fun to read the traits of your sun sign and see if you think it accurately describes your personality.  I am a pretty close match to my sign of Aquarius, and a strange lot we Aquarians are.  I never met one I didn't like!

Zucchini - My grandmother grew zucchini squash in her garden, as did my mother, and I've done so too. They thrive in our summer sunshine here in Texas as long as they get plenty of water.  I love zucchini in all forms... batter fried, saluted, steamed, roasted, in casseroles, and even in zucchini bread... delicious!  They can easily be grown to immense proportions, but truthfully harvesting them when they are small makes for better eating.

Zoos - While I'd much rather observe animals in their natural environments than in a zoo, I still enjoy going to good ones and I think they serve a purpose in educating and advocating for the animals who live there, as well as helping to prevent extinction of animals that have become rare. The best zoos have habitats as close to natural as possible, and I swear that I could spend hours watching giant polar bears swimming so gracefully in their icy pool on the other side of the glass window!

Zero - We tend to think of this number as meaning nothing, but it can be looked at in a much more positive frame too - having zero reasons to be unkind, zero excuses for not doing your best, zero tolerance for cruelty, zero waste, zero trash left behind when visiting natural places, and especially zero things you find wrong with yourself!

Zigzag - Yes, I know this name is associated with rolling papers and so do you, but I'm thinking it in more of a decorative frame of mind... like the ric rac ribbon trim that once frequently adorned home-sewn items.  Zigzag is not only a pretty design pattern, it's also a fun way to walk with a friend, and sometimes an unintentional manner of walking if you've had too much to drink! 

Zoom - Ahhh the joys of the zoom feature on iPhones and iPad when it comes to old eyes or even just tired eyes wanting to see the text they've received, or read the latest E-Books they've downloaded.  Also great for zooming in on a GPS map or a satellite photo of your house!!

Ziploc - What a clever little invention Ziploc bags are!  More uses than I have the energy to list here including food storage, to make ice packs, and to tote cosmetics in a suitcase.  The benefit is being sure that you've successfully sealed the bag, as opposed to early Baggies which were press-n-seal or required the use of a twist tie and weren't leak proof at all.  Word of advice here... do not attempt to go through airport security with a small Ziploc bag of beach sand in your carry-on tote.  Who knew it would create such a commotion with security regarding what that baggie actually contained! :=)

Zorro - If you are my age, you probably fondly remember Zorro as being a masked swordsman on a beautiful black stallion on Saturday morning television who was one of the original caped crusaders taking on the bad guys, however zorro is also the Spanish word for fox. :-)

Zillion - A number or amount so huge that it cannot be counted.  There is one thing I'm quite certain there's a zillion of - that would be the blessings in our lives, the reasons to be thankful!  You can make a daily gratitude list from now until you pass to the spirit world, and if you're truly seeing how many blessings you have, you will never run out of something to add to the list!  No matter how challenging and difficult and even painful it can be it times, all in all life is GOOD, be thankful! <3
 
Please leave a comment to let me know you stopped by, then click HERE
to check out what lots of other folks have to say about the letter Z.

A to Z Reasons to Smile - "Y"

Each day this month I'll be sharing a list of things corresponding to the alphabet letter of the day that encourage and uplift me, the little things that make smile. I hope you'll join me, and maybe add some of your own in the comments! 
~Photo Credit~
"Y" Things That Make Me Smile... 

Yarn - Brightly colored balls of yarn, just begging you to begin a new needlework project!  For those who crochet and knit, passing up a yarn store without bringing home just a little bit more yarn is next to impossible, it's addictive, and results in awesome gifts. Needlework is great relaxation therapy too.
My forbids love yarn too, and have a blast tangling it into a pile of "spaghetti"! :-)

Yucca - Common in these parts, wild-growing yucca plants provide natural beauty against the dry brown landscape.  We have one in our front yard that continues to get taller and wider each year, and it is ever so pretty when it blooms!

Youth - Ahh, the idealism and exuberance of youth!  It makes me smile to remember how grown up and wise we were back then.  It wasn't until a decade or two later that we realized we weren't half as smart as we assumed we were. :-)

Yahoo Mail - I've been using Yahoo mail for lots of years, and I'm probably the last hold out who isn't a fan of Google mail.  (We use Google mail at work and I think it's a clumsy pain.).  Over the years I've had several Yahoo email addresses and not to long ago I stumbled across one I'd forgotten about which contained some photos and early blog posts that I thought had been lost. Yahoo!!

Yards - Memories of green grass yards bordered by flower gardens make me smile.  If I could have one fantasy fulfilled before I leave this world, it would be to have a pretty green lawn and garden spot again someday, preferably in a greener, milder climate.  We are hoping to make that happen!

YouTube - What an amazing thing YouTube has become!  You can find a video of almost any song you can think of, and a tutorial on how to do almost anything from trimming your bangs to cleaning your cat's ears, to repairing your car or re-wiring your house!  A couple weeks ago Papa Bear had vacation days, and I came home from work one day to find him out in the shop with his tablet propped up beside him, and a YouTube video of how to install electrical outlets, lights and switches.  We finally have ceiling lights, and plenty of power outlets for every project and piece of power equipment we own... no more running extension cords from the house... YAY!  Me... I'm happy when I can find a video of an "Oldies" song from my youth. :-)

Yin/Yang - The two basic aspects of Taoist philosophy, they represent opposite energies that are meant to balance each other.  I love the concept of achieving balance in life, those days of swinging wildly from one extreme to the other are largely over, and the calmness of feeling centered is a wonderful place to be.  Here's a chart of Yin and Yang corresponding energies that you might find interesting...

Yesterday - Thinking about yesterday makes me smile, even though some of those memories aren't the best.  Why?  Because I see how far I've come since then and how very blessed I am!

Yo-yos - Papa Bear perfected the art of yo-yo tricks as a child, and has retained those skills. Whenever we go to Cracker Barrel and the guy who demonstrates toys has his cart out, he knows to hand the yo-yo to Papa Bear for a little showmanship.  Papa Bear is still a kid a heart... and I love that about him!

You - You make me smile... yes, you do!  The most fun part of blogging is knowing that someone else is likely to drop by and read the drivel that you've written.  It's the sharing and the wonderful friends I've made here that makes it so rewarding!
 
Please leave a comment to let me know you stopped by, then click HERE
to check out what lots of other folks have to say about the letter Y.

A to Z Reasons to Smile - "X"

Each day this month I'll be sharing a list of things corresponding to the alphabet letter of the day that encourage and uplift me, the little things that make smile. I hope you'll join me, and maybe add some of your own in the comments! 
Xanthous Dream by Peter Doonis
"X" Things That Make Me Smile... 

Xanthous Things - They always make me smile!  Xanthous is the name given to the bright egg-yolk shade of yellow you see in the flower photographed above.  To me, xanthous equates with sunshine and joy. I love it!

Xi - Why does this word make me smile?  It's not because it is the fourteenth letter of the Greek alphabet, it's not because in the capitalized form of XI it is the Roman numeral representing the number eleven, it's because it's an extremely handy word to play in Words With Friends when you draw an X and want to avoided getting stuck with those ten points! :-)

Xeme - An xeme is a wonderful little split-tailed gull.  Where would you find them? Near the beach of course!

Xacto knives - I love these awesome artist's tools with chiseled points and razor sharp edges that enable delicate cuts when you are crafting, sculpting or painting.

X-rays - I think that x-rays are fascinating, and I love the opportunity to view my own.  It's like getting to view yourself inside out, though I do find all that void space inside my skull a bit troubling! ;-)

Xeriscaping -  Landscaping and gardening that reduces or eliminates the need for supplemental water, and it's something that's so important here in West Texas where we still see individuals and businesses expending huge amounts of ground water to maintain lush green lawns in a climate that wasn't designed to sustain them.  I love green grass, but I love having drinking water for our future even more.  When I see a yard or business front that has been creatively xeriscaped to be attractive and welcoming it makes me smile because they care!

Xerox machines - Ok, we all know what a Xerox machine is, but did you know that it was named for the xerographic process that makes those copies we print by the hundreds and thousands in our offices every day?  The capability of these machines is awesome, and I'm not sure how we would function without them.  I'm sure you're all aware of some pretty creative things have been photocopied from time to time!

Xigua - Most of us eat a slice of xigua now and then.  What is it?  Xigua is the Chinese name for round watermelons. :-)

Xanadu - Historically, this was the original capital city of the Kublai Kahn's dynasty in China.  Some of us know it better as the setting for Orson Wells novel Citizen Kane which is alleged to have been based on William Randolph Hurst and the famous Hurst Castle located in California. To many, Xanadu brings to mind a place of over the top opulence.

Xenophiles - I must admit to being a xenophile.  In fact I've been once since I was quite young.  I admire others who share this predisposition. What is a xenophile?  Google it! :-))
 
Please leave a comment to let me know you stopped by, then click HERE
to check out what lots of other folks have to say about the letter X.
 ~*~*~*~*~*~*~
This post is also being shared at Two Shoes Tuesday this week -
Come on over and link up your "X" post!
 

Two Shoes Tuesday #128 - X-rated or X-Ray or "X"

Two Shoes Tuesdsay
Welcome to Two Shoes Tuesday...  a place for those who love to write!

There are two word prompts to choose from... you can use whichever one inspires you. You are not required to include them both. You do not have to include the prompt word, but please use it as the theme for your post. You are welcome to write a post for each prompt word, if you like. Posts unrelated to either word prompt will be deleted from the link list.

Your contribution must be in the form of an original poem, essay, or short story (fiction or non-fiction), and it must be a new piece - not something drawn from your other writings or archives.

Your link must go directly to your post for Two Shoes Tuesday, and somewhere in the post you must provide a link to Two Shoes Tuesday.  It doesn't need to be big or fancy, just a text or logo link at the end of your post will be fine. You can add a link anytime through next Monday. 

Please take some time to visit as many of the other TST participants as possible during the week, we all love feedback on our efforts!  Feel free to email me at jts.2000@yahoo.com if you have any questions.

The April 28th writing themes to choose from are X-RATED or X-RAY
or any word that begins with "X"
(for those who are participating in the A-Z Challenge :-)


Please remember that the THEME of your post must be related to the prompt
 you choose, rather than it just appearing as a word somewhere in your post!

A to Z Reasons to Smile - "W"

Each day this month I'll be sharing a list of things corresponding to the alphabet letter of the day that encourage and uplift me, the little things that make smile. I hope you'll join me, and maybe add some of your own in the comments! 

"W" Things That Make Me Smile... 

Waffles - Papa Bear and I both prefer waffles to pancakes, and we have them on Sunday mornings fairly often.  My son gave us a Texas-shaped waffle maker for Christmas a couple years ago - fun! :-) There are all kinds of other things you can make with a waffle iron too - Google it!

Wind Chimes - When I was young my father went on a business trip and brought back something for each of us. My gift was some beautiful glass wind chimes that tinkles as the breeze blew through my bedroom window.  I've been in love with wind chimes ever since, though we need ones that are a bit sturdier here, as the "breeze" often blows across the deck at 20-30 miles an hour, sometimes more!

Wi-Fi - How sweet it is when we can find free Wi-Fi while traveling!  I have my own portable hotspot too, and of course our iPhones can also be used as hotspots for our other devices. 

Whale Songs - While not really songs in the traditional sense, the sounds these amazing mammals make are hauntingly beautiful when recorded underwater.  You can find all kinds of recordings of "whale songs" on the Internet, and each species of whale has their own particular sounds.

Wildflowers - Papa Bear often surprises me with a handful of wildflowers he has found in the yard, or on the way home.  One time he collected a little bouquet for me of several different kinds while we were walking in the Lincoln National Forrest near Ruidoso, New Mexico.  Sweet memories!

Wild Turkey American Honey - Drinking alcohol is something we do rarely anymore, but I absolutely love Wild Turkey American Honey bourbon - so smooth and sweet, and best served ice cold!  We keep a bottle in the fridge, purely for medicinal purposes - I have been known to develop a slight cough at bedtime on occasion. ;-)

Words With Friends - Yes, it's a great time-sink, but it's also great brain exercise and I never tire of playing with an assortment of friends, some of whom kick my butt on a regular basis but I keep trying!  It's also really good for a one-minute work break when I'm feeling over-stressed.  Sudoku is the other brain-exercise game on my phone and tablet, and I have to admit that I enjoy Dice with Buddies (generic Yahtzee) and am still looking for more partners to play with. It takes no skill at all, and is a great pass time at night when I am too tired to think.  I am not one to just sit still while watching TV with Papa Bear, have to do something with my hands.

Waterfalls - From the tiniest falls tumbling over rocks at the head of a stream, to the huge beauties found at Niagara Falls and on even grander scales throughout the world... there is nothing quite as awe-inspiring to witness, and to experience the mighty thunder of roaring water!

White Christmas - Being raised in South Dakota where winter always meant snow and lots of it in the old days, the hardest thing for me about Christmas in the Southwest is the usual lack of snow, though it has happened a few times and it's pure magic when it does!  It will never seem quite right to be walking outside in just shirtsleeves or a sweater, and Christmas lights don't sparkle quite the same without snow.  My ideal winter would last from Thanksgiving to New Year's Day each year, and the rest of the year would be 72-75 degrees... it's fun to imagine how nice that would be!

Wisdom - Wisdom is defined as having knowledge, experience and good judgment. I've managed to acquire a little in my old age through years of being foolish and experiencing the consequences. Sometimes that's the best way to learn a lesson, especially if you have a rock-hard head! :-) Wisdom isn't just about knowing, it's about what you do with what you know, how you manifest it in your life. I smile when I meet someone who has acquired some wisdom along the way and enjoys sharing those stories!  Everyone has their story... take time to listen and you just might gain a little wisdom too!
 
Please leave a comment to let me know you stopped by, then click HERE
to check out what lots of other folks have to say about the letter W.

What Is Success

~Photo Credit~
We hear so much talk about "success" and "successful" people, and I find myself pondering exactly what that means.  In newsworthy terms it usually refers to someone who has a successful career defined by how much money, power, or fame they have managed to acquire, and yet we often discover that deep down they are not happy people who are at peace with themselves.  So are they really successful at life?  We also know that fame can be fleeting, the power structure can change overnight, and wealth can evaporate quickly.  If you attain these things and then loose them, does that make you a failure?  Are you less of a failure if you've tried and failed than if you've never tried at all? 

Some people feel that they are total failure at life on all fronts, and to me that is tragic.  Maybe we need to redefine the way we evaluate our lives and what is important.  Just as the quote below says, "The only thing that really counts is to never, ever give up." For me, if you get up each morning with even a tiny bit of hope, determined to take on another day and see what you can make of it you are a success.  If you take steps to better yourself in even one small way you are a success.  If do anything to ease or brighten the life of another you are a success.  While it's good to set goals and experience the joy of achieving them, life in itself is more than a high bar to reach or some status to attain.  It's about the experience... the mystery... the journey itself!  Success just might be learning to appreciate what each day brings us, the lessons we learn, the people we encounter, and most importantly, to end each day being at peace with ourselves and our lives. 
~*~*~*~*~*~
I'm linking up with Patricia's blog hop In Other Words
 where the creative writing prompt this week is the following quotation:
 
"Success is never permanent.  Failures are never final.
The only thing that counts is to never, ever give up"
- Author Unknown

 

A to Z Reasons to Smile - "V"

Each day this month I'll be sharing a list of things corresponding to the alphabet letter of the day that encourage and uplift me, the little things that make smile. I hope you'll join me, and maybe add some of your own in the comments! 
~~Photo Credit~
"V" Things That Make Me Smile... 

Violets - Born in February, violets are my birth flower, and I have loved them always, especially the very tiny ones like those pictured above.  Violets grew beneath the row of hedges that bordered the sidewalk of the school I attended, and I used to think of them as tiny hidden fairy flowers just waiting for me to find them!

Voices of My Children - To a mother's heart, there is nothing in the world sweeter than the voices of her children, whether they are small or grown.  Nowadays it's mostly by telephone, but I can feel the smile spreading across my face as soon as the call comes in and I hear my son or daughter on the line. On the rare times we are together, their shared banter and laughter is precious music to my ears.

Vernal Equinox - The official First Day of Spring, usually falling on March 21st. One of two times during the year that the length of daylight and night are equal - hence equinox. I celebrate the season markers and we all look forward to Spring and the renewal of life!

Vanilla Candles - There are very few scents my allergies will allow me to enjoy without causing headaches and an irritated throat.  Vanilla is somehow soft enough that I can tolerate it if used gently, and it smells so wonderful!

Velveteen Rabbit - Do you remember the children's story "The Velveteen Rabbit"?  It has a sweet lesson about life and being loved that adults can also appreciate.  It's one of my favorite children's books.

Volkswagen Vans - Once in a while I'll see an old Volkswagen van on the road, and they always make me smile - bringing back memories of the old Hippie vans painted with peace signs and flowers.  Those were the days my friend. :-)

Valentines Day - Some people think that Valentines Day is for lovers only, and feel left-out if they don't have a special someone with which to celebrate the day.  I don't see it that way, I think it should be a day to celebrate all kinds of love, and to exchange greetings and signs of affection with anyone and everyone who is special in your life!

Vacations - Ok, show of hands here... is there anyone who doesn't smile at the thought of taking a vacation?  For me it can be something as simple as a weekend in the mountains, or a cabin at lake, but of course my favorite vacation spot is near the ocean beach.  I love road trip vacations best, but destination trips that require flying can be pretty amazing too.  We wish we could travel more, maybe someday.

Vegetable Beef Soup - The best very best comfort food on cold winter days!  How well I remember coming home to find Mom's vegetable beef soup simmering on the stove, so much of the food we love is tied up with good memories.

Visits - I have at times been accused of visiting too much with people who come into our law firm seeking our services.  The idea is to hurry them along so that we can be productive, sigh.  I agree that we can't spend hours chatting, but I feel like the short amount of time that it takes me to connect with someone while obtaining their Intake information, to help them feel comfortable and like they can trust me to understand and relay their issues, is well worth it.  In truth, I think we all need to take more time to actually sit down and visit with our family members, friends, and the people who come and go in our daily lives.  We all crave that interaction, there is so very much we can learn and share. I always feel so good after I have taken the time to have a real conversation with someone, I feel that for that short while our souls connected.
 
Please leave a comment to let me know you stopped by, then click HERE
to check out what lots of other folks have to say about the letter V.

Two Shoes Tuesday Prompts for April 28th

Two Shoes Tuesdsay
 
Welcome to Two Shoes Tuesday...  a place for those who love to write!

There are two word prompts to choose from... you can use whichever one inspires you. You are not required to include them both. You do not have to include the prompt word, but please use it as the theme for your post. You are welcome to write a post for each prompt word, if you like. Posts unrelated to either word prompt will be deleted from the link list.

Your contribution must be in the form of an original poem, essay, or short story (fiction or non-fiction), and it must be a new piece - not something drawn from your other writings or archives.

Your link must go directly to your post for Two Shoes Tuesday, and somewhere in the post you must provide a link to Two Shoes Tuesday.  It doesn't need to be big or fancy, just a text or logo link at the end of your post will be fine. You can add a link anytime through next Monday. 

Please take some time to visit as many of the other TST participants as possible during the week, we all love feedback on our efforts!  Feel free to email me at jts.2000@yahoo.com if you have any questions.
 
The April 28th writing themes to choose from are:

X-RATED or X-RAY
 or any word that begins with "X"
(for those who are participating in the A-Z Challenge :-)

Please remember that the THEME of your post must be related to the prompt
 you choose, rather than it just appearing as a word somewhere in your post!

A to Z Reasons to Smile - "U"

Each day this month I'll be sharing a list of things corresponding to the alphabet letter of the day that encourage and uplift me, the little things that make smile. I hope you'll join me, and maybe add some of your own in the comments! 
~Photo Credit: Papa Bear~
"U" Things That Make Me Smile... 

Underground Caverns and Caves - When visiting my children in Tennessee we did a walking tour of Ruby Falls Cave at Chattanooga. At times the passages were very narrow and a challenge to my claustrophobic tendencies, but eventually you arrive at the magnificent waterfall chamber you see above, and it's breathtakingly beautiful!

Upside-down Cake - Papa Bear likes to help think of words for my lists.  This was one he came up with, and then we debated whose mother made the best pineapple upside-down cake.  Ahh, the sweet memories of childhood! :-)

USA - Home Sweet Home!  Not without it's share of flaws and follies, but I am ever so thankful that I was born here... freedom is a gift far more precious than we sometimes realize.

Underwear - Whether it be kinky, crazy, colorful, or downright sexy, underwear can be fun and definitely give you something to smile about.  I had a friend who used to announce occasionally that she was wearing matching red undies, and we always knew that she was going to be in best form that day!

Unchained Melody - A hauntingly beautiful song written in 1955 and performed by various artists through the years, with very my favorite being the Elvis rendition he did in 1977 just six months before his death.  If you haven't heard it, check it out on YouTube.

Unci - Pronounced "oon-chee", this is the Lakota word for grandmother. Grandmothers are near and dear to all of us, and in the extended tiospaye (family) system of the Lakota people, they often play an important role in raising and teaching their grandchildren.  Seeing a beloved unci with her takojas (grandchildren) always makes me smile. <3

Ukulele - My father served in the Navy during WWII, and one of the mementos packed away with his uniforms and things from those years was a ukulele.  How I would have loved to see him play it when he was a young and dashing sailor!

Unplugged Music -  I will always be an aficionado of unplugged music - my favorite songs from the 60's and 70's performed acoustically, with out the screaming amps and electric guitars... beautiful!

Uncouth Behavior - If you know me really well and I feel comfortable in your presence, you might agree with Papa Bear that I can be a bit uncouth at time... and relish in doing so.  I guess it's a bit of inner rebellion coming out, or maybe more of a "let it all hang out" attitude.  Being uncouth can be freeing, as long as we remember the appropriate time and place for such conduct. :-)

Unflappable People  - I so admire unflappable people, those who keep their cool when life is hurling thunderbolts in their direction, and step forward to take the lead when panic overtakes a group.
 
Please leave a comment to let me know you stopped by, then click HERE
to check out what lots of other folks have to say about the letter U.

A to Z Reasons to Smile - "T"

Each day this month I'll be sharing a list of things corresponding to the alphabet letter of the day that encourage and uplift me, the little things that make smile. I hope you'll join me, and maybe add some of your own in the comments! 
"T" Things That Make Me Smile... 

Tarantulas - I find tarantulas fascinating, I love their fuzzy bodies. :-)  This one was discovered crawling up the side of our house one afternoon!  While I'm not a fan of regular spiders, tarantulas are cool, and they are big... this one was over three inches, and I've seen much larger ones.  

Texting - Texting has provided us with the ability to communicate briefly and instantly, and that's the way I love to interact.  I exchange frequent texts with Papa Bear, my children, my sisters, my niece and a few other folks that make my heart smile.  There's always time to exchange a line or two, yet it doesn't steal big bites of what little free time I have... perfect!

Tiggy - Our beautiful "orange" kitty... she is also Gracie's littermate, and was born here from a rescue mommy.  She is a big girl, larger than either her father or her mother, and has fur as soft as a rabbit.  Papa Bear reminds me that I was dismayed by him choosing  the "plain orange kitty" from the litter of ones with beautiful markings as the one he wanted to keep. But I am so glad he did, she has a wonderful, peaceful nature, and loves to sneak into our bedroom for some cuddle time at bedtime.

Toby- The "toddler" of our kitty clan, Toby is an incredibly handsome boy, adorable clown, a love bug, and a brat that refuses to take "no" as a directive.  He is already nearly as big as Tiggy and he's just a year old, so has more growing to do.  He came home with us from a PETsMART adoption day for one of the local shelters as the 60th birthday gift of my choice, and God willing, he will be around to grow old along with me. Papa Bear and I both believe that he was meant to be our kitty.

Truffles - Heavenly little chocolate balls that come with a wide assortment of delicious melt-in-your mouth centers!  It doesn't get much better than that, when it comes to sweet treats!  What's your favorite kind?  It would be hard for me to choose just one!

Trustworthiness - This is so very important to me.  Trust is such a fragile thing - easily broken and extremely difficult to repair.  People who prove themselves to be trustworthy always make me smile. It is something we should all strive to be.  If  you can't be trusted with the small things, you definitely should be trusted with big things!

Trees - Trees have been my friends since I was young. I have always sensed their spirits and found peace and comfort sitting on the soft ground at their feet. I love their Spring buds, their soft Summer canopy of green leaves that provide shade from the hot Texas sun, and their beautiful Autumn colors.  Even their stark naked branches in Winter look pretty against the soft blue sky.

Tiny Houses - A relatively new phenomenon that has captured our attention and left us contemplating such an arrangement as a possible retirement plan.  We love the downsizing to life on it's simplest terms, free of all the clutter and things we really don't use all that much.  Mobile tiny houses are the coolest, as you can easily hitch them up to the truck and tow them down the road to a new place to stay for awhile! My favorites are the whimsical ones that resemble old Gypsy caravans. There is a weekly TV show called Tiny House Nation that features the building of tiny houses for various customers. I watch it an fantasize about parking my tiny house near an isolated stretch of sandy beach. :-)

Turtles - Turtles are cool critters!  From the tiniest baby garden turtles to giant tortoises, they are amazing and fun to watch as they trudge along toward their intended destination.   The townhouse I once rented came with them in the yard and flower garden, and I can also attest to the fact  that they love dry cat food and seem to spend a great deal of time making baby turtles. :-) 

Truth - Is there anything more critical in a relationship than being truthful?  If I find out that someone is dishonest I generally choose to have nothing more to do with them, it goes back to the trust thing - you can't trust someone who doesn't tell the truth.  We also need to remember that half-truths are not really the  truth at all, they are an attempt to deceive or distort the real picture.  I can deal with the truth, no matter how harsh it might be, but please don't hide it from me!
 
Please leave a comment to let me know you stopped by, then click HERE
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A to Z Reasons to Smile - "S"

Each day this month I'll be sharing a list of things corresponding to the alphabet letter of the day that encourage and uplift me, the little things that make smile. I hope you'll join me, and maybe add some of your own in the comments! 
"S" Things That Make Me Smile... 

Son - My amazing son, Ian!  He's an air traffic controller for the Dept. of Defense, but to me he's still that sweet little boy with the huge loving heart for his Mom.  I am so very proud of the man he's become!

Sanctuaries - I love beautiful churches - from small rural structures to large cathedrals, they are places of peace, meditation and worship, and one can always sense the Spirit that dwells within.

Sparkly Things - I have a penchant for brightly colored sparkly things, something about sparkles makes me smile.  Must be my childlike mind. :-)

Sophie - The beloved matriarch of our kitty clan.  Sweetest little kitty God ever made!  I wish we could clone her.  A rescue kitty with some  Maine Coon blood, she's a beauty... see her picture over there in the sidebar!

Sushi- My daughter introduced me to sushi and I love it! Papa Bear shakes his head and calls it "bait" :-)

Sunrise & Sunset- The most beautiful times of the day here, with our wide open spaces and the sky painted in brilliant colors - God' masterpieces!

Sisters - I am the middle child with an older sister and a younger one.  They both live in the Midwest so I rarely get to see them but we text back and forth each day and have gotten a lot closer than we used to be.  Sisters are good to share with!

Seashells - Searching the beach for tiny treasures - great fun and great exercise with all that bending and stretching to pick up shells.  We look so cute walking along the shore with our yellow plastic buckets like a couple of little kids :-)

Stars - Is there anything more magical than twinkling stars in the inky black night sky?  I like to believe that they are windows where the souls of those we love can look down on us and we can gaze up at them.  <3

Silence - To some it may be strange or uncomfortable, but to me silence is the beautiful absence of noise that heals my spirit after a day or week of non-stop ringing phones and dealing with people. When I am home alone I most often sit in silence, it is even more soothing to my soul than music.
Please leave a comment to let me know you stopped by, then click HERE
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A to Z Reasons to Smile - "R"

Each day this month I'll be sharing a list of things corresponding to the alphabet letter of the day that encourage and uplift me, the little things that make smile. I hope you'll join me, and maybe add some of your own in the comments! 
"R" Things That Make Me Smile... 

Roses - I love roses, who doesn't?  Yellow roses are sure to make me smile, but my very favorites are the Sterling Silver roses pictured above.  They are actually pale lavender and just gorgeous!  I once gave my mother a Sterling Silver rose bush for her garden, she loved it too.

Red Dots - If you have cats, you surely have a "red dot" laser light for them to chase, and chase they will... across the floor, over the furniture, and up the wall!  It's great exercise for them, and so very entertaining! :-)  Sophie, however, chooses not to play.  She's wondering when the others will realize that they will never ever capture that red dot!

Road Trips - I love road trips!  Having Papa Bear to share them with makes them even better yet! Exploring new places is a fun adventure, revisiting old favorites is pretty nice too!

Rolls - Both breakfast rolls and dinner rolls fall into the category of yum!  The smell of rolls baking in the oven can drive you crazy with anticipation of good things to come. :-)

Rabbits - Cotton tail rabbits are a common visitors to our yard, lunching on the variety of wildflowers, weeds and grasses.  If you make a movement, they will freeze in hopes of going unnoticed.  I once bottle fed a baby rabbit whose mother had been killed, when he got old enough we released him at the same spot where he had been found.  He stopped and looked at us, and then quickly hopped off toward others that were nearby.  It was such a precious moment.

Romantic Gestures - There is nothing sweeter than having your partner do little things to make you smile... a flower, a note tucked away for you to find, a chocolate on your pillow, and countless other ways.  It doesn't have to be a grand expensive gesture for it to be special.  It's just as fun if not more so, to respond with some romantic gestures of your own!  Papa Bear is a true romantic.  One example of many - I came out to my car one morning to head to work to find that he had tucked a pretty wildflower in the handle of my door.  What a sweet way to start my morning with a smile! <3

Rain - Ahhh, the gentle sound and sweet smell of falling rain... so very soothing! It doesn't happen nearly enough here in West Texas, so we appreciate it greatly when it does.

Rhubarb Cake - My mother grew rhubarb and used it for some wonderful baking - my favorite being rhubarb cake with cinnamon sugar topping to counter the tartness of the rhubarb.  Baking tip - using smaller stalks will result in more tender rhubarb, thicker ones have a tendency to be tough and chewy.

Roadrunners - We see them fairly often here, and they are just adorable as they run across the yard. They aren't very fearful of humans and won't flee if they see us standing their watching them.  A couple years ago we had a pair that was nesting across the road and visited our yard often.

Responsibility - People who behave responsibly make me smile.  Those who don't frustrate me and I'll avoid them if at all possible.  Behaving in a responsible manner is  a sign of  both intelligence and maturity.  It's nice to associate with people you know you can depend on. It's also very important to me that we take responsibility for our words and our actions and don't go looking for someone or something else to blame when things go wrong.  Own up! We all make mistakes, they are called learning experiences! :-)
Please leave a comment to let me know you stopped by, then click HERE
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 ~*~*~*~*~*~*~
This post is also being shared at Two Shoes Tuesday this week -
Come on over and link up your "R" post!
 

Two Shoes Tuesday #127 - Rattle or Risk or "R"

Two Shoes Tuesdsay
Welcome to Two Shoes Tuesday...  a place for those who love to write!

There are two word prompts to choose from... you can use whichever one inspires you. You are not required to include them both. You do not have to include the prompt word, but please use it as the theme for your post. You are welcome to write a post for each prompt word, if you like. Posts unrelated to either word prompt will be deleted from the link list.

Your contribution must be in the form of an original poem, essay, or short story (fiction or non-fiction), and it must be a new piece - not something drawn from your other writings or archives.

Your link must go directly to your post for Two Shoes Tuesday, and somewhere in the post you must provide a link to Two Shoes Tuesday.  It doesn't need to be big or fancy, just a text or logo link at the end of your post will be fine. You can add a link anytime through next Monday. 

Please take some time to visit as many of the other TST participants as possible during the week, we all love feedback on our efforts!  Feel free to email me at jts.2000@yahoo.com if you have any questions.

The April 21st writing themes to choose from are RATTLE or RISK
or any word that begins with "R"
(for those who are participating in the A-Z Challenge :-)


Please remember that the THEME of your post must be related to the prompt
 you choose, rather than it just appearing as a word somewhere in your post!

A to Z Reasons to Smile - "Q"

Each day this month I'll be sharing a list of things corresponding to the alphabet letter of the day that encourage and uplift me, the little things that make smile. I hope you'll join me, and maybe add some of your own in the comments! 
"Q" Things That Make Me Smile... 

Quartz - Quartz crystals are beautiful!  You can see the white quartz crystals in the wide band of this geode Papa Bear gave me, as well as in the center cavity. They look  very much like ice crystals on a window pane.

Quesadillas - Two flour tortillas with a layer of shredded cheese between them, then grilled on both sides until the cheese is melted and the tortillas are slightly crispy.  Many people add chopped green chilies too.  The lunch variety often includes shredded chicken or beef.  No matter which way you like them, they make an awesome snack - even better when served up with guacamole or sour cream!

Quotations - It's not secret that I love quotations. If you have the misfortune of being one of my Facebook friends, you'll soon discover that I post several each day to my personal page and others to my Josie Two Shoes page.  I share quotations that inspire and encourage me in hopes that they might do the same for someone else.

Quail - Common birds in these parts, they tend to spend a great deal of time on the ground foraging for food.  It's not at all uncommon to see a family of quail trailing across the yard with little chicks bringing up the rear.  So very cute!

Quillwork - I have a few pieces of beautiful quillwork jewelry given to me Lakota friends. The detail is amazing, and the fact that they were made for me makes them extra precious.  I have seen some amazing quillwork moccasins and regalia worn when attending "pow-wows".

Quality - It seems that in today's world quality is becoming  less common when it comes to customer service or goods purchased.  Corners are cut to do things quickly and inexpensively, and too often quality is sacrificed.  I would much rather pay a little more for something better, and I expect quality service or I'll most definitely speak to a manager.  I think it's equally important to speak up when we are pleased with the quality of goods or services, support doing it the right way!

Quarters - Not worth a great deal on their own anymore, though at one time they were.  When my some was just two years old he knew it took two "big nickels" (quarters) to get a Coke from the vending machine in our apartment complex. :-)  I've found that tossing all your quarters in a jar at the end of each day will count up to a considerable amount of change in a year... then use it for something fun! :-)

Quilts - I have four quilts that are very precious to me, as each was made for me as a gift. The very best one of all was done by the first and second graders at Red Cloud who traced their hands on squares of cloth and then decorated them with fabric paints and added their names. The teachers sewed them together and made the quilt.  Those children are now reaching 20 years old, and I have a keepsake that reminds me of when they were so very small! <3

Questions - Some people find asking questions annoying, others feel intimidated or get angry, perhaps because they are unsure of the answer or feel uncomfortable admitting they don't know. I see it differently - to me questions are a way of learning about life and about each other, if don't with tact, respect and caring, questions can help one understand. I love asking questions, and ran a whole series of interviews with other bloggers a few years back, it was great fun!   I do most of the intake interviews for our clients, either by phone or in person, and it takes a lot of questions to understand their issues and concerns.  I work hard at making them feel comfortable so they won't be intimidated by what I ask.

Quiet - Blessed quiet, how I've come to cherish it at the end of yet another noisy day of non-stop phones and interruptions!  When I am home alone the house will most likely be silent except for the sound of purring cats and the clicking of keyboard keys. :-)  It's important that we take time to listen to our inner voice for direction, and this cannot happen if we are bombarding our ears with noise!
Please leave a comment to let me know you stopped by, then click HERE
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A to Z Reasons to Smile - "P"

Each day this month I'll be sharing a list of things corresponding to the alphabet letter of the day that encourage and uplift me, the little things that make smile. I hope you'll join me, and maybe add some of your own in the comments! 
"P" Things That Make Me Smile... 

Papa Bear - I think you all knew that my most favorite p-word could be none other than my most favorite person in the whole world - my beloved husband Papa Bear!  Some of you may remember that I had "Papa Bear" tattooed on my wrist for my 60th birthday. I am that certain that the love we share is an eternal bond. <3

Prayer  - Definitely the most important thing on this list, not only prayer, but the power of prayer. It isn't so important that we understand exactly what it is or how it works, but that we believe it does!  Time and time again I've seen miracles big and small happen because a few people offered prayers. That doesn't mean we always get what we pray for, more often than not I am praying for God's divine intervention and His will to be done, because He sees the big picture, and He loves each and person and creature more than we could ever know.

Purple - My most favorite color, it's also the color of my birthstone! The cover for the Surface tablet I am writing on is purple , and my mouse is purple too. :-)  I love all things purple, and I've learned that I am not alone in that.  In fact there is an entire catalog devoted to things you can purchase in purple - www.thepurplestore.com.

Pistachio Ice Cream - My friend Ivy encouraged me to try pistachio ice cream last year because it's her favorite.  Thanks to her, I am now hooked on it too - and that's surprising since I am a lover of all things chocolate, including chocolate ice cream.  This is even better - trust me - try it!!

Photographs - Photos definitely have the power to make me smile, they capture our best moments and turn them into memories!  I love our ability to share photos instantly with our cell phones and tablets now, and I often think of how much my mother would have loved the ability to exchange photo messages each day.

Peace - Peace begins within.  We have to find a place for it in our own souls, and our own lives and relationships before we can hope to achieve peace in the world.  I believe peace is possible, I believe that it is our deepest desire.  Imagine what could be accomplished if we all worked together for the common good!

Pope Francis - Although I am not a Catholic, I truly believe that Pope Francis is a humble and devoted servant of God.  I love not only what he says, but the way he conducts his own life as an example that all can follow.

Post-It Notes - These colorful little squares of sticky paper are lifesavers, having a poor memory and so many things to keep track of at work!  Various sizes adorn my desk and credenza, my computer monitor and sometimes my phone! :-)

Penguins - Penguins just make me smile in their tuxedo suits and funny manner of walking. If you've ever watched a video of the baby penguins sliding and playing on the ice just like human children, you'd be in love with them too!

Perseverance - Persevere is a directive that was revealed to me nearly forty years and, has served well all the years since.  For many of us, life has been all about persevering - about hanging in there when things get tough, enduring the struggles, and putting one foot in front of each other with the clear intent to survive.  I believe that we are each given the inner strength we need to persevere when it is required, even if we don't feel confident that we can.  Hold tight, hang strong, persevere!  Remain fierce in the belief that life brings twists and turns, and good will come around once again!
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Two Shoes Tuesday Prompts for April 21st

Two Shoes Tuesdsay
 
Welcome to Two Shoes Tuesday...  a place for those who love to write!

There are two word prompts to choose from... you can use whichever one inspires you. You are not required to include them both. You do not have to include the prompt word, but please use it as the theme for your post. You are welcome to write a post for each prompt word, if you like. Posts unrelated to either word prompt will be deleted from the link list.

Your contribution must be in the form of an original poem, essay, or short story (fiction or non-fiction), and it must be a new piece - not something drawn from your other writings or archives.

Your link must go directly to your post for Two Shoes Tuesday, and somewhere in the post you must provide a link to Two Shoes Tuesday.  It doesn't need to be big or fancy, just a text or logo link at the end of your post will be fine. You can add a link anytime through next Monday. 

Please take some time to visit as many of the other TST participants as possible during the week, we all love feedback on our efforts!  Feel free to email me at jts.2000@yahoo.com if you have any questions.
 
The April 21st  writing themes to choose from are:

RATTLE or RISK
 or any word that begins with "R"
(for those who are participating in the A-Z Challenge :-)

Please remember that the THEME of your post must be related to the prompt
 you choose, rather than it just appearing as a word somewhere in your post!

A to Z Reasons to Smile - "O"

Each day this month I'll be sharing a list of things corresponding to the alphabet letter of the day that encourage and uplift me, the little things that make smile. I hope you'll join me, and maybe add some of your own in the comments! 
~photo credit~
"O" Things That Make Me Smile... 

Owls - Majestic, amazingly beautiful birds! Alleged guardians of wisdom in some cultures and harbingers of death in others.  They fascinate me!

Oldies Songs - The music of the 50s-60s-70s that I grew up with never fails to make me smile. :-)

Omelets - Papa Bear makes the best omelets of anyone I know.  We have them weekly, if not for Sunday morning breakfast than for supper on a night when we get home from work tired and hungry.

Opals - Beautiful, fragile precious stones that sparkle with fiery light.  I have one opal ring that is now forty years old, a precious memory of long ago.

Overalls - Maybe its coming from generations of farmers or just my quirky nature, but I love a man in overalls and a work shirt or flannel shirt, there's just something down to earth and cute about that! :-)

Oyster Stew - This was a Christmas Eve tradition in our family when I was growing up. Not a favorite food of my kids, I didn't continue it, but it does bring back sweet memories of my Dad who loved it so.

Originals - People who aren't afraid to be originals rather than carbon copies of their peers, make me smile. I understand feeling the need to fit in as an adolescent, but as we grow older it's fun to develop your own identity, and promote what sets you apart and makes you special. We all have our own unique gifts to bring to the world!   I always chuckle when I see forty year old women out with a group of friends and their hair color, make-up and manor of dress is identical.  Be yourself... always!

Orchids - I love these exotic flowers once had a friend with a talent for growing them.  They whisper of tropical places far away from the dry brown landscape where we presently live.

Out of Town - Getting out of town - away from everything - all the cares and to do list items, feels wonderful.  Sometimes it's just the medicine a weary soul needs.  In fact that's just what we are doing this weekend.  The recent weeks of work have been particularly difficult for me, and I found myself feeling stretched to the breaking point, and more and more exhausted.  Papa Bear and I both took today off and headed to Lubbock for the weekend, a nice little get-away for some good food, fun and relaxation.  I'm feeling better already... I hope it helps!

Optimism - I would classify  myself as being an optimist for the most part, and I like being around other people who feel that way about life too.  I recently saw the perfect explanation - "People who wonder whether the glass is half-empty or half-full are missing the point - the glass is refillable."  That's what I believe!  No matter how wrong things sometimes go or how frustrated and defeated I might feel,  I start each new day with hope that it will be a good one and things will work out as they should.  If we believe it's possible, they can!
Please leave a comment to let me know you stopped by, then click HERE
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A to Z Reasons to Smile - "N"

Each day this month I'll be sharing a list of things corresponding to the alphabet letter of the day that encourage and uplift me, the little things that make smile. I hope you'll join me, and maybe add some of your own in the comments! 
~photo credit~
"N" Things That Make Me Smile... 

Neon Signs - Classic neon signs were beautiful works of art. They graced motels, caf├ęs, gas stations and the local bar.  There are still some to be seen if you are out and about at night, relics of another time.

Nature Walks - It's a proven fact that taking regular walks outdoors in nature improves not only physical health but also emotional wellbeing.  I think anyone who takes nature walks, even short ones, can attest to this. If you can drag yourself out the door, you will come home feeling better about life, and your soul will feel more at peace.

Needlework- I know how to knit, crochet, embroider, and cross-stitch, and I've done a little bit of crewel, candlewicking, and rug looping.  I love creating with all the beautiful colors and shades of yarn and thread!

Nut Bread - Be it banana nut, cranberry nut, date nut, apricot nut, raisin nut, or avocado nut bread - it's all delicious, and even more so warm from the oven with butter spread on it!

Nail Art - I love beautifully hand-painted fingernails!  I used to have mine done twice a month, but have since abandoned that in favor of other financial needs. My favorite design? Royal purple nails with flowers painted to resemble those you might find on a piece of fine china!  I love gold and silver sparkle highlights too.  One can never have too much sparkle! :-)

Nextflix - Movie watching simplified, whether you subscribe to watch downloads or receive overnight DVD's by mail, it's easy and inexpensive, and means you can have that popcorn in your pjs at home!  We try to always have a couple new movies on hand for the weekend.

Natural Beauty - Although I've always preferred it, the older I get the more I appreciate women who are comfortable in their own skin, aging gracefully and naturally without resorting to coal black hair dye or Botox, or mini-skirts riding high on wrinkly thighs.  Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes, all colors and conditions, and to my way of thinking God's gentle touch is so much nicer than our heavy-handed attempts to improve on our looks.  A little goes a long, long way!

Naps - Ahh, the luxury of babies and us oldies!  There is nothing more refreshing than a nice after-lunch nap, and I think it would be oh so nice if we could have a nap room at work!  There are actually Asian countries where such accommodations exist for power naps. But I'm talking more about the luxurious kind where you wake up when you are recharged and ready for more activities or a.pleasant evening shared.  I love mornings and evenings, warm afternoons not so much.

Nightlights - From the hallway or bathroom plastic plug-ins to the incredibly beautiful ones available today (check out Ibis and Orchid Designs at Amazon.com ).  Nightlight offer a bit of comfort and security in that they chase away the shadows and help us navigate dark hallways without tripping over wayward cats. :-)

Namaste - The definition of Namaste (pronounced Na-ma-stay) is both a physical gesture and a spoken spiritual salutation, which is the recognition of the divine spirit (or soul) in another by the divine spirit in you.  It is a peaceful, loving greeting that acknowledges our oneness. I wish that it was used universally.
Please leave a comment to let me know you stopped by, then click HERE
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A to Z Reasons to Smile - "M"

Each day this month I'll be sharing a list of things corresponding to the alphabet letter of the day that encourage and uplift me, the little things that make smile. I hope you'll join me, and maybe add some of your own in the comments! 
"M" Things That Make Me Smile... 

Miracles - I believe in miracles.. yes, I do!  I see them in my life and the lives of people I know every day.  Bottom line, God loves us and continues to work things out for good in our lives. Life itself is a pretty amazing miracle if you think about it!

Moss Roses  - Moss roses are the prettiest little flowers in a rainbow of colors that always make me smile.  My mom always had moss rose gardens when I was young, and I love them now. They thrive in our Texas heat.

Mittens - Mittens always make me smile.  I guess they remind me of the fun of childhood winters in Dakota where we would go through several pair in an afternoon of outside play in the snow, as they became too wet and were exchanged for dry ones.  On really cold days we wore two pairs at a time.

Margaritas - Margaritas are the opposite of mittens, but cause smiles just the same. They are adult reasons to smile, perfect for warm weather refreshment. The best ones we ever had were while sitting above the Riverwalk at a Cantina in San Antonio. We are by no means big drinkers as we grow older, and though they tasted quite tame we were laughing as we walked back to our hotel and found that we were weaving a bit!

Music Boxes - There is something magical about music boxes and the beautiful tunes they play with such tiny mechanisms.  I love the old traditional wind-up ones best of all. 

Meerkats - You just have to smile when you see a clan of meerkats - they are adorable, and it's  fascinating to watch their group behavior!

M&Ms - Do you have a favorite color?  Have you ever ordered special colors for a party or reception?  We all grew up with M&M's and the fact is they are just plain yummy fun... but they do melt in your hand, at least that colored candy shell does :-)

Monopoly - Many good times filled with laughter and friendly rivalry have been spent gathered around a Monopoly game, first as a child and then as an adult.  I'm competitive when it comes to board games, but don't let me be the banker... I've found it's rather fun to be unscrupulous and bolster your own stash of bills!!  My kids have forever banned me from being the banker, by the time they caught on I was nearly exploding from trying to contain my laughter! :-)

Magnets - Papa Bear and I collect magnets when we travel or do something fun. Our fridge is covered with little mementos of happy memories made.  Toby has decided that his job is to see how many magnets he can remove at night while we are asleep, and I have to admit he is good at it!  Sometimes it turns into a game of hide and seek and I have to search a bit for missing ones. :-)

Motherhood - "The hardest job you'll ever love."  When you are grown you begin to realize just how difficult it was for your own mother to carry out her role, and you come to cherish the memories once she is gone.  My son and daughter are the two achievements I am most proud of, but I give the credit all to them, I pretty much fumbled along doing the best I knew how.  One thing is certain though - they've always known how much I love them and always will!
Please leave a comment to let me know you stopped by, then click HERE
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