Today is National Coffee Day so of course, that got me thinking about some of my special coffee moments.

One of my memorable coffee moments would be years and years ago while I was camping with my Girl Scout troop. In the morning after we finally got the fire started and water boiling in our old tin coffee cans I was finally able to pour water over my Folgers dipping coffee bags. It certainly does not sound like a memorable experience but after spending a night in a sleeping bag in cold and damp tent, that coffee was probably some of the best and most cherished that I have ever drank.

Another greatly appreciated coffee experience was after a long night flight to Sydney. After arriving at our hotel and being unable to check in because it was too early in the morning, we walked several blocks to McDonald's. McDonald’s, never one of my favorite places, but again that first cup of coffee seemed like we had made it to heaven.
While I was in Bali on a coffee plantation, I got to see a Civet, then drink Kopi Luwak better known as cat poo or monkey butt coffee; now that was a great coffee moment. I never thought I would be able to afford even a taste of the most expensive coffee in the world, yet there I was at a plantation where it was grown.
And there is nothing like sitting on a sunny porch overlooking the Atlantic Ocean drinking your morning brew and watching the dolphins cruise the shoreline looking for their breakfast.

Another special “Coffee Moment” was when I landed for a layover in Addis Abba Bole International Airport. I didn’t drink a cup of coffee there, I inhaled my coffee; the fragrant aroma permeated the air in the airport. I will never be able to think of Ethiopia without a strong desire to have a cup of coffee!

And call me crazy but another special coffee moment is when I one way or another win a Starbucks gift card!! LOL


“Coffee is far more than a beverage. It is an invitation to life, disguised as a cup of warm liquid. It’s a trumpet wakeup call or a gentle rousing hand on your shoulder … Coffee is an experience, an offer, a rite of passage, a good excuse to get together.”                             ~ Nichole Johnson


For those of us that love our brew, java, joe, mud, cafe, coffee or whatever name you call it by, we know that life is better because of coffee!
 
 
Fall or autumn has officially arrived here in Ohio. I am not sure why anyone enjoys fall, I certainly don’t; it is even more dreary and gloomy than our usual weather. The sun is moving south making our days shorter, the birds are headed south too and the snowbirds are making arrangements to do the same.

It is a season to prepare for our cold snowy winters. It is a time to cover the patio furniture, put away the cheerful wind chimes and close the swimming pools.

It is also the end of our already short boating season, a time to bid our boating friends a good and hopefully short winter and to wish them a Merry Christmas.

Add all of that to the fact that fall also brings on seasonal allergies from falling leaves and dead plants. Allergies that bring us joyous days and nights of stuffy noses, itchy eyes, coughing and sneezing.

There are a few people that claim they enjoy fall saying “it is so pretty with the yellow, red and orange leaves.” But they all will turn dismal brown and besides spring and summer flowers are even more colorful and they don’t need to be raked!

So tell me again why people believe they “like” fall?
 
 
Sometimes plans need to be followed through regardless of the weather because of their importance, not because of a monetary loss. Plans and events like participating in the Susan G Koman race for the Cure go on regardless of the weather, no excuses.

If it is important you find a way instead of finding an excuse.

This past weekend despite a dreary rainy morning I was proud to walk through the streets of Cleveland Ohio with my friends in support of the breast health, education, treatment and cancer support program.
Our team along with thousands of other participants donned their rain gear and fulfilled their commitment to walk or run at the planned event.
The event went on because... Some people don't have the time to wait for the storm to pass, for them we must learn to dance (walk/run) in the rain!
FLASHBACK
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Hooray for Team Bessas!!
 
 
About eighteen months ago I began the process of converting to vegetarianism. First I stopped eating red meat and mammals from my diet and eventually I stopped eating fowl. I continue to eat dairy, eggs and fish so I guess technically I am a lacto-ovo-pesco vegetarian.

This change which seemed to be very easy for me has seemed to be troublesome for others. Everyone seems to be worried about "what will Marsha eat?" Trust me Marsha eats plenty, which is obvious by the width of my girth around my waistline.

But we do not live in a "chicken or beef" world. Giving up dairy will never be an issue for me because even as humans we breast-feed milk to our babies. So to me it is silly to give up milk products from other mammals.

 People often ask me why I converted. Have you ever witnessed a mother moose with her calf and how protective she is of her baby? Or have you watched a mother goose with her goslings or a mother hen with her chicks? After close observation I knew that they had feelings and emotions like humans. I had to stop eating them. Maybe if I continue to watch Finding Nemo I may eventually have to stop eating fish too!
These animals are essential on our earth. They enhance our lives and bring enjoyment. Countless people go out and feed the ducks at lakes and ponds near their homes.  Children everywhere love the excitement of feeding baby animals at parks and zoos. Photo safaris would be non-existent.

And even though I easily find things to eat that meet my dietary requirements what really bites my butt is when someone asks if you have dietary restrictions for example a tour group or airline and they don’t follow through with the request. Don't ask for my diet preference and then provide me with a meal that I am not comfortable eating. When I submit a vegetarian diet please do not serve me beef stroganoff.

I am flexible and have made my choice but don’t ask if you don’t want to know or don’t plan on fulfilling my request.
 
 
In the United States and Canada Labor Day is celebrated on the first Monday of September. The federal holiday is also celebrated in approximately 80 other countries around the world, however many countries celebrate the holiday on other dates. Labor Day was instituted in celebration of the hard work of the workers that help to make their country strong and prosper. Today however it generally signifies the end of summer, the beginning of the school year and a day of increased retail sales.

Many of us will celebrate a day off from work with barbecues and picnics. But let us not forget those that work in the service industry. Many service industry workers like doctors, nurses, policeman, fireman, military personnel, restaurant workers and retail sales clerks are working on this Labor Day. They do not get the day off to celebrate with picnics and barbecues. Today for those that are working I salute you for your service.
"It is labor indeed that puts the difference on everything."~John Locke

“There is no labor a person does that is undignified; if they do it right.”~ Bill Cosby

“Work is no disgrace; the disgrace is idleness.”~ Greek proverb
 
 
ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has been all over the television and the Internet via social media. Individuals, corporations and celebrities alike are participating in the challenge, although many participants probably don’t even know what ALS, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) is. Despite knowing anything about the condition it is amazing what the media can do for a charitable cause. And while the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is for a very worthwhile cause it is also somewhat foolish and wasteful.

Now I know I'm going to take a hit on this for my negative reaction and opinion to the challenge but it is wasteful.

Water is a very precious commodity and is a commodity that many of us take for granted in our daily lives. Recently Toledo Ohio and its surrounding area had the importance of water brought back in to the forefront of their lives with the toxic algae bloom that occurred in the western portion of Lake Erie. Are they now dumping water over their heads? When just several weeks ago they were at stores trying to purchase water or were standing in lines to receive free water.
California is in the midst of severe drought conditions and is under water usage restrictions and water conservation policy. Are residents of California dumping water over their heads?

Millions of people in Africa walk miles daily in search to find pure drinking water. Are they dumping water over their heads?

 I am certainly not opposed to fundraising for any worthy cause, I personally know of a man that passed away from ALS. And while the challenge has raised millions of dollars let us move on to a more appropriate and less wasteful a way of making money for worthy causes.

I challenge the world to find a less wasteful way to make money for ALL charitable causes.

 
 
What is it about water? Is it because our body is about 70% water or that we can't live more than a few days without water that we are so attracted to it? Even animals know the importance of water and migrate to it.

Water is a precious commodity all around the world. If you look at homes located along any coast or shoreline on any body of water including rivers, lakes and even ponds, they are always more expensive to buy than homes that are located inland.

If you see a house with a built-in swimming pool or hot tub they too are more expensive to purchase.

People’s vacations often seem to revolve around cruising, boating or vacationing on the beach. Even people who say they don't like to go to the beach or go boating tend to migrate somewhere near water, perhaps a mountain cabin along a stream.

Some people say watching the waves or hearing running water is relaxing. Spas often have fountains or play music that portrays the sounds of trickling water or rain showers. Water soothes the restless soul but its movement also reminds us that we are alive and are meant to move.

So bring on the water and let’s move!
 
 
It is Shark Week and everyone's excited, their hearts are racing and the adrenaline is flowing. I'm excited too, not so much to watch but I want to be in water with them. Anyone that follows my blog or website regularly knows that I have a passion for sharks. And I wish the media would stop that damn “Jaws” theme music!

The word shark itself strikes fear through most of the world population. But as a scuba diver I have been all around the world in water with sharks.  I get as excited seeing them underwater as I get agitated when I see them above water on a fisherman's hook or send lying rotting on a beach. I also enjoy hunting for those lost teeth that wash into beaches around the world. 
 I'm also proud to say that I have met one of the top shark researchers in the world, Taylor Chapple. I don't have anywhere near the experience that Taylor has but I am proud to say that I did obtain a shark certification while I was driving in Moorea, French Polynesian. In my eyes Taylor just might have the world's most perfect job.
Sharks are amazingly interesting creatures, even pet stores get a large interest in selling the little Bala Sharks and Rainbow Sharks for your home fish tanks. But unfortunately the media gives sharks a bad reputation; often referring to them as man eating killing machines. Humans are not a normal item on a shark’s diet. But when we enter their world sometimes things happen.

The media sensationalizes every time there is an incident involving a shark. But we don't hear as much publicity about the number of people that are injured or die by other natural causes such as flooding. More people died by flooding water related incidents then by shark water related incidents.

Hopefully after this annual shark week event people will have a greater understanding and appreciation for these magnificent animals and want to keep them around for future generations.
 
 
If you follow my blog you know that I travel, a lot I have traveled to many wonderful places but along the way sometimes there are issues or incidents. But the attitude in how you deal with the issues makes all the difference in the world.

Generally speaking if everything goes well and you have a wonderful time you don’t bothers to contact the supplier and let them know you had a wonderful time. But when something goes wrong everyone is quick to complain. Sometimes the anger is only in the moment and dissipates as time passes. But some of us contact the company and respond shortly after with some constructive criticism and suggestions.

For example, sitting in a formal dining room I should not be seated at a table with napkins that are stained and dirty. If I'm paying for housekeeping services I should not continually have bathmats to use that are ragged and torn. Or if I am on a tour that includes lunch, I should receive a lunch that is appropriate for my dietary preferences if they had asked previously if there were dietary restrictions. Or better yet when I pay for a hotel room and they take my money I expect to have a room available when I arrive.

I can continue to site multiple issues that I've had during my travels. Instead however I wish to tell you what I've done to help correct these issues for future clients.

While the issues are occurring I document the problems, I also notify the immediate supervisors of the situation and then when I return home I write a formal letter to customer relations.

In the letter I tried to avoid the blame game and instead site reasons why I felt the service was poor or improper. I also try to give suggestions as to what would have made me feel more comfortable in the situation and how I feel the problem could be corrected or changed for future clients.

I never forget to also tell them the positive or pluses about the trip or supplier. Consequently by following up with constructive criticism on multiple occasions I have been compensated. I have received cash back and vouchers toward future travel.

So when you travel if you encounter problems please contact the supplier. If they are aware of the problem they can hopefully correct it. Also let them know about all of the good stuff, in the long run it will help all of us to have a better experience when we travel with them. Thanks in advance for your help.
 
 
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A little hard to see from plane window but thousands of windmills!

Something’s are the perfect blend like yin and yang, black and white, old and new. Having just returned from a two-week trip to northern Europe and found most of the cities to be the perfect blend.

Prior to landing in Copenhagen Denmark it was obvious they were a progressive and innovative country. Windmills by the thousands were strategically situated around the city maximizing the wind’s strength. Later I discovered the country’s public transportation system was vast and efficient. They were definitely aware of the benefit of being self sufficient and less dependent on fossil fuels. Oh and did I mention bicycles? There were more bicycle riders than cars, again reducing their carbon usage. They are the best at utilizing the most efficient of manmade (supplied) energy!

Upon further exploration I found the country to embrace its rich cultural heritage with magnificent historic palaces and castles.

While in Germany we passed miles of solar panel fields, again a carbon free option for energy. And later I was again wowed by more splendid protected historic castles.

Why is it that in the United States we seem to be stuck in the middle? We have not preserved much of our heritage; we are more of a tear down and rebuild society. Plus we seem decades behind in energy saving technology. Our windmills and solar fields are few and far between. Our country has definitely not fully utilized the vast sunshine we receive in our southern states; nor have we gained the benefits from the wind from our coastal states.

My home town is nicknamed “The Windmill Capitol of the North Coast”.... We have three!

Let's get out of the mush of the middle and find a better blend. Support saving our heritage and encourage the use of more carbon free options, let us start to blend the old and the new.