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Viewing Blog: Ducks In My Pool and other stories......, Most Recent at Top
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Why are stories important? How have they shaped our thinking and view of the world? Come follow my stories and see what we have in common. Ducks In My Pool, is about a family of ducks who chose our backyard as a safe place to build their nest. For over ten years ducklings have hatched and swam in our pool. I realized God gave me a metaphor through the ducks to show His love and safety as I trust in Him.
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1. Thanksgiving Praises

Rejoice always: pray without ceasing: in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.  I Thessalonians 5:16-18

Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving:
Colossians 4:2
Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God ,even the Father;
Ephesians 5:19-20
I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.  My soul will make it boast in the Lord, The humble will hear it and rejoice.  O magnify the Lord with me.  And let us exalt His name together.
Psalm 34 1 -4
And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them saying, "This is My body which is given for you, do this in remembrance of ME. And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying "This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.
Luke 22:19-20
May my prayer be counted as incense before You; The lifting up of my hands as the evening offering.
Psalm 141:2
do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers;
Ephesians 1:16

Bless the Lord O my soul, And all that is within me, bless His holy name.  Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget none of His benefits; Who pardons all you iniquities, Who heals all your diseases.
Palm 103 1-5

Happy Thanksgiving!!!!

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2. Caring for the Elderly by Sandra Kent

My mom will be 94 years old in December. People say she looks seventy. She has never dyed her hair and I think it still looks healthy.  She has a spark in her eye that says I've lived a good life.  I had a husband who loved me with three children to raise.  She adores her two grandsons who are now in their twenties.

 She is in a facility that gives her 24 hour health care. She has taken good care of her body most of her life and has never had a serious illness.  But when your body is almost ninety four years old it's going to hurt.  The doctor says her heart is still doing fine. Her mom's heart was the same way.  I say it's the Scottish side of the family.  The McPherson's live a long life.

The question is how to make her feel comfortable?  She doesn't like taking pills.  So when she got an infection a shot was the best solution.  The pain pills make her loopy.  She always did crossword puzzles to keep her mind sharp.  She tries to go down to the dining room for her meals.
The meals are the highlight of her day.  There's a backdrop of Texas Cowboys herding cows to eat by .Fort Worth is part of  wild west history.    She sits with her roommate who is from Bosnia.  She doesn't speak English but she has the warmest smile.  I feel I know her intimately even though we have only exchanged small words like," Hi how are you doing?"  She says," thank you," if I give her a treat.  I have no idea what she has lived through but she is nice to my mom and that's important to me.

They share a common window to let the sunlight in.  The cactus is always blooming with an amazing pop of yellow.  Her pink and black teapot that matched her kitchen is a reminder of her home with green leaves growing in the water.  I grabbed the pot from her windowsill kitchen window.  It overlooked a wire for hanging laundry.  Stay at home moms hung the sheets to dry to save electricity.  Every penny was important.   Her home was built in 1956 the year I was born.  It was a time in the United States where children could play in the street and cars would stop for a game of kickball.  I brought her a McDonald's Happy Meal one day and she saved the toy from the box.  Little things bring her joy.   My mom's bed is the closest to the window so she has a view of a beautiful courtyard.

When I visit I stroll her around the halls with her wheelchair.  There are sights to see like yellow canaries in their nest.
They come out to say tweet, tweet.
Little things break the monotony.  Bingo is another favorite thing to do.  Now I point to the numbers and she puts the marker.  Lately she says I can't make it today.  She lies in her bed and listens to her roommates TV.
When I come to visit she always mentions the photographs on the wall.  They are a reminder of her past.  My favorite photo is the black and white one of my mom with a backdrop of white Oklahoma Snow.  She looked beautiful with her dark hair and hazel eyes.  She remembers things like the Chatty Kathy doll I had as a child. She says it's still on the top shelf in your bedroom.  I think why does she always mention the doll when I talk to her on the phone or come to see her?  Maybe it's a way of remembering the times she raised her children.  She's a link to the past.  

As Thanksgiving approaches there will be many loved ones being cared for by facilities. My mom wants to see her home one more time so on Thanksgiving the plan was to pick her up and take her there.  But when I called today she said I don't think I can make it.  Her body is fragile  with age.  She doesn't want to get hurt.   Life is fragile.  Every day on earth is a gift from God.  

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3. Cottonwood Art Festival in Richardson, Texas

The Cottonwood Art Festival is an art lovers tradition located north of Dallas in a community called Richardson.  It is rated as one of the top art festivals in the United States and a jewel for North Texas. It feels like a neighborhood festival with so many people bringing their dogs for a stroll or their children in the stroller viewing the colors from a child's perspective.  There's a lot of stimulus for the young and old because 240 artists from areas all over the United States come to share their creativity.
The competition is fierce for artists to even show their talent because they compete with 800 submissions.   A jury decides who comes to the Cottonwood Art Festival.  The artists compete in several categories: 2D Mixed Media, 3D Mixed Media, Ceramics, Digital, Drawings, Pastels, Fiber, Glass , Jewelry, Leather, Metalwork, Painting, Photography, Sculpture and Wood.

 It's located in a beautiful North Texas setting on a canal of water.
Ducks are swimming as if to say come and enjoy the creativity of minds.  It's a river of art waiting to be explored.
The first artist that caught my eye does wonderful things with the medium of clay and color. Randy O'Brien  finds pleasure in exploring infinite possibilities in ceramics.

  He has done thousands of clay tests to achieve his goal.  He melts different materials at different temperatures to achieve his results.  
The glazes he uses takes his work a step further from a 2 dimensional surface to a 3 dimensional surface.  

Elizabeth Dunlap awakens the soul as she uses glass and metal to create sculptures of art.  
A combination of steel, aluminum, copper, brass,and bronze are her canvas for sculptures she creates.  
 Glass is the main focus of her creations because it acts like a backdrop to color.  Her pieces sparkle with individuality and luminescence.  Love and light are her goal as each person takes home a piece of energy.
Time clicks as Martin Design Works creates artistic expressions of time passing through space.  Martin works with his wife to display a gallery of wall clock art.  Although Martin repeats styles they are never exactly the same.  His color palette varies with the time piece.  I  loved it so much I bought the wall art for my husband to celebrate his 35 years with the same company.  
Creative art sparkles with colors of the rainbow as you stroll the lanes of Cottonwood Art Festival.
Thank you Cottonwood Festival Volunteers who help sponsor a wonderful event each year.
Artists pack up at the end of the day of creative expression.  It's time to carefully pack each precious item so the next festival will be successful.  

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4. Super Blood Moon Eclipse Sept. 27 to 28

Super Blood Moon Eclipse

The world unites as eyes look up to the sky.
People talk it's special
It's a family event as binoculars point to the sky
I hear neighbors chatter in the distance.
Look, I see the moon is changing.
It's a rare event
The next time this happens is 2033

I remember when our world turned 2000 AD
My sons were 10 and 9
I visualize the table of party hats and sparkle confetti
The anticipation as the countdown started
People feared the computers would stop

September 27 and 28 feels like that
A countdown to something that doesn't happen very often
Some say it's a warning
Keep our earth safe
Some say if you look at past events
The Timeline says there's a change in history

Our hearts cry out;
Dear God  let famine stop
Dear God let disease stop
Dear God let poverty stop
Dear God let war stop

We all want peace
We all want a home
We all want a family we can call our own
We all want love
We all want a place to call home

It's the Northern Hemispheres's Harvest Moon or Full Moon nearest the September equinox.  It's the Southern Hemisphere's first full moon of spring.  The full or harvest moon is also called Blood Moon because it presents the 4th and final eclipse of a lunar tetrad or four straight total eclipses of the moon spaced apart at six month intervals or full moons.

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5. Advancing Hubbard Glacier Viewed From The Celebrity

On our Celebrity Millennium Alaskan Cruise this summer we saw the fastest moving glacier in Alaska, the Hubbard Glacier.   Nasa says it has been  growing or advancing into Disenchantment Bay for 100 years.  The thickening of the Hubbard is bucking the worldwide trend of shrinking glaciers.

The loud speaker came on to announce our ship is close to the fast approaching glacier. It is 76 miles wide and plunges 1,200 feet into the depths of the Disenchantment Bay.

With anticipation the guests awaited as the fog lifted to unveil the massive chunks of flowing ice.
It was as if a mighty force blew and the clouds vanished.

We started to get a closer look.  It is 300 feet above sea level.

We passed floating chunks of ice.
We passed beautiful green mountains with ice carving out valleys.  It's home to brown bears, moose and black tailed deer.
We were watching for seals, whales and otters catching fish in the cold ocean waters.
The sun came out and reflected  the outline of majestic lush green mountains.
Finally we saw the massive Hubbard Glacier with blue hues of color.

Captain Kostas was so excited he invited the crew to join the guests to see the glorious sight.  He said this is the best view he has seen in a while.

  Hubbard Glacier originates in the Saint Elias Mountains in Canada and flows a 76 miles, ending in Yakutat Bay in Alaska.
It takes 400 years for the ice to traverse the length of the glacier so the ice at the foot is about 400 years old.
The Hubbard Glacier calves off icebergs the size of a ten story building. Calving is when the ice breaks off.   It was dramatic to watch the ice fall into the cold ocean waters.  Ships must keep their distance for safety.
It seemed Captain Kostas was so thrilled with the weather cooperating we stayed a little longer so everyone could take a great photo.   It felt the Millennium was doing donuts in the waters.
Everyone was out taking photographs.  Some had elaborate lenses to capture the beauty.
All generations appreciated the wonderful sight.  It was as if nature united everyone.

My family and I will cherish the memory.  Thank you Captain Kostas for guiding the ship and keeping us safe.  
In May 1986 the Hubbard Glacier surged forward blocking the outlet of Russel Fjord and creating Russel Lake.  All that summer the new lake filled with runoff so its water level rose 82 feet or 25 meters.  At around midnight the dam began to give way,  Water gushed through the gap and caused the second  largest glacier lake outburst flood in recorded history.  It was the force of water flow of 35 Niagara Falls.  It shows the force of power water and ice can have.  
People lingered to cherish the act of nature.  
It was time to say goodbye.
As the mighty Millennium left a wake of white bubbles to say we were here.  

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6. Salmon Fishing in Ketchican, Alaska

It was a glorious day of salmon fishing on the bay of Knudson Landing in Ketchican, Alaska.

Tony greeted us with a friendly hello.  Instantly I knew he was the perfect sea captain, guiding us with every step of our adventure.  
He had been fishing for thirty seven years and was the age of my husband. They had a common bond of same month and year  Fish -n- Fun was the name of the boat to guide us in Alaskan waters. He had the latest gear of finding where the fish was located.

The depth of the ocean went to 184 feet,  The orange spots told the boat where the fish was located.  
He gave us a lesson about what not to do.  I quickly made the decision to let my two sons and husband do all the fishing.  
He told of a time a guest got caught with their hand in the reel.   It was a bloody mess.  He said you just have to treat it with respect.  He guided the boat with a remote control in the back.  
I was glad to find that out as no one was steering the boat at the helm.  
It was time to bate the hook of krill.  
He gave expert instructions how to cast the reel.  It was important  to let the drag out to loosen the tension.  A mechanism on the gear controls how much leeway the fish has to bite.  
The ball of metal or weight allows the line to be stable.  It acts like an anchor for the bate.  
The equipment on the reel showed the proper amount of line to be let out. 
The same was done for all four fishing lines.  It was now time to wait and see where the fish were biting.
We waited to see the pole moving back and forth.  
Alex, our oldest got the first bite.  He grabbed the reel to pull up tight.  The skill is to snag the fish without letting it go.  Tony was ready with the net to make sure it was not lost.  

It was a beautiful Pink Salmon We'll ship it home says Tony.  Okay says my husband as the thrill of the first catch went through the bones on everyone on board.  
It was time for my husband to have a nibble.  But in Alaska it's not just a nibble but a big bite.  The battle between fish and man started and Jim pulled hard.  His muscles turned the round device as his arms pulled up to master the fishes movements.  The fish fought hard but couldn't over come the mighty pull of the line against his fins.  

The struggle was worth the fight because we landed a large Pink Salmon.
Now it was time to re-bait the hook and try again.

Michael cast out his reel to the ripples of ocean water. 
Michael got a bite and the battle was on.

Michael caught the largest Pink Salmon of all.  

Tony got the bait ready for more catches.
More were caught.  

Alex and Michael imitated Tony and started to use the net to capture fish.

Michael and Alex kept catching more fish.
There were times of waiting as we watched other boats.
Each became more confident as the expertise flowed.

I caught another one.  
It's time to set home.  It was a glorious day of fishing.  
We saw a butterfly in the middle of the ocean waters.  I said every time you see a butterfly you can say, God loves you.  

It was an amazing day of working together for a common catch.
We got to shore and counted 19 Pink Salmon.  

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7. Wedding Sparklers

Wedding Sparklers

Families and Friends gather together
Holding Sparkles of Light
Lined in rows of celebration
To honor the bride and groom

Anticipation rises to see
The white flowing gown
A beautiful smile of happiness
Showing hope for the future
I picked the right one

Everyone is lit
Hold your wands high
Get ready they're coming
All heads turn
All eyes are in focus
All hearts are one with love
For the newly married couple.

They are holding hands
Walking side by side
Their smiles are in unison
Every step flows with love
Holding each other tight
In a sweet embrace

Our Commitment

We said our vows
Our commitment is real
With deepest joy
I receive you into my life
That together we may be one.

I promise you my deepest love
My fullest devotion
My tenderest care.
I promise I will live first unto God

I will lead our lives
Into a life of faith
Hope in Christ Jesus
Honoring God's Guidance
By His Spirit
Through the Word

Throughout life
No matter what may lie ahead
I pledge to you
My life
As a loving
Faithful  husband

My Devotion

With deepest joy
I come into my new life
As you have pledged
Your life and love
I too give my life
As in the church
In her relationship to Christ
So I will be to you

Loving you
Caring for you
Ever seeking to please you
God has prepared
Me for you

I promise to be
Faithful to you
I will
Strengthen you
Encourage you
I pledge my life
as a

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8. Love Never Fails - Brandon Heath

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9. Beloved 'Amazing Grace' Story Takes on Broadway - US - CBN News - Christian News 24-7 - CBN.com

Beloved 'Amazing Grace' Story Takes on Broadway - US - CBN News - Christian News 24-7 - CBN.com

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10. Emeril Lagasse's Talent Shines in Vegas

Only in Vegas do you get to choose from so many fine restaurants.  Hotels specialize in famous chefs to get customers to pick their dining experience.  We weren't disappointed in Emeril Lagasse's New American eatery, Table 10 and Delmonico Steak House at the Venetian.

"Las Vegas has truly become the world's restaurant capital," said Emeril.  "Las Vegas has the best collection of celebrity restaurants and chefs of any city in the world."

Emeril began in Las Vegas in 1995 at  MGM Grand with the Fish House.  Now he has 13 award wining restaurants, with three in Louisiana,  He specializes in New Orleans cuisine with a creative approach to Creole.  How does a Massachusetts native learn how to cook excellent seafood?  Lagesse was executive head chef at the honored New Orleans restaurant, Commander's Palace from 1982 to 1990. He was only 23 years old when he started.   I have a self to text connection with the restaurant because I dined with my husband in the late 80's.  I remember every sight and sound of the magical night.  It was one of the finest places I've ever dined.  I even purchased the cookbook. So I was surprised to see Emeril was responsible for such wonderful food. 

 He passed his knowledge to Table Ten in Vegas.  

I ordered Crab Cakes because they are my favorite.  The menu said it was Emeril's specialty.  I was not disappointed because they were cooked to perfection.  It was just the appetizer but it was so rich I ate it as a meal.  I savored every bite of mouth watering perfection.  I have attempted to create crab cakes at home but they were nothing like this. 

We shared Emeril's New Orleans BBQ Shrimp with a rosemary biscuit.  He must have flown the Gulf Shrimp from Louisiana, it was so fresh.  Tim Doolittle, executive chef at Table 10 has mastered the art of creating wonderful dishes.  
Lagasse opened his first restaurant called Emeril's in 1990 located in the underdeveloped Warehouse District.  The menu had a combined flavor of French, Spanish, Caribbean, Asian, and Lagasse's native Portuguese cuisine.  His mother was from Portugal so I think a lot of who he is came from his mom. He worked in a Portuguese bakery as a teenager and discovered his talent for cooking.  He passed up a scholarship playing percussion because of his love for creating dishes as an art.  

  Emeril's was named best new restaurant of the year by Esquire magazine in 1992.  Then he created his first cookbook in 1993 called Emeril's NEW New Orleans Cooking.  This caught the eye of Food Network and launched his series Essence of Emeril.  It was the beginning of famous chefs becoming movie star status.   I grew up with Julia Child who was a favorite of mine as a teenager.  My mom and I watched together.  Emeril revealed his own personality by saying catch phrases like, "Bam," and "Kick it up a notch!"  

The next evening we ate at Delmonico Steakhouse at the Venetian. 

 It was a classic steakhouse with a Creole flair.  I had the fabulous Salmon with assorted peppers and crispy onions on top.  It had a unique blend of flavors with a fresh citrus sang.  My husband had the traditional steak.

He said it was tender and delicious with just the right seasonings.  
I took a pic of the elegant china to make the evening more special.

Cooking I believe comes from the heart and he seems to have a big one.   Emeril Lagasse's Foundation has distributed more than 6 million in grants for children's charities.  He started an outdoor classroom with gardens and fresh foods cafeteria.  It would be so fun for my students to have a field trip to sample fresh vegetables. There is a teaching kitchen at Edible Schoolyard in New Orleans.  Liberty's Kitchen trains at risk youth in the hospitality industry.  Each fall the foundation hosts a fundraiser called Carnivale du Vin.  Wish I could fly to New Orleans to attend and help in his endeavors.  He even contributed several recipes to the meal selection on the international Space Station.  Emeril Lagasse seems to have energy to try new endeavors with creativity and flair.  

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11. Teachers Pay Teachers Conference in Vegas

I just got back from a wonderful Teachers Pay Teachers Conference in Las Vegas.  It was a fantastic opportunity to connect with great teachers from across the country.  Each teacher had their own store of creativity.  It was fun seeing familiar faces with the store I had been purchasing from.  Over a thousand teachers came to collaborate with others.

A sign greeted us with a friendly, welcome.  They called us Teacher-Authors.  It felt good to be identified in that way.  Teachers do so much every day to meet their student's needs so sharing how to help students grow academically is a win win.

The first session was a meet and greet according to grade levels.  It was a chance to share ideas and meet other teachers.  
Everyone had a business card to share with one another.  It was a way for others to remember your store and visit it in the future.  

I met these teachers from Louisiana, and California. They were very sweet and eager to share information to help along the way. 

 One teacher said to categorize clip art so it's easy to find when it's time to create your product.  
The first session I picked was The SuperPowers of Powerpoint.  The teachers were enthusiastic presenters who dressed in superhero outfits.  Most teachers had their laptops so they could follow along with the presentation.  

I use my own photographs for a lot of my products but many teachers are like artists when it comes to creating a page to explode learning ideas.  They choose a background and make layers of colorful displays.  As you can see it seemed easy for them to follow the teacher.
We took a break for lunch and went to the 5th floor to see vendors selling products for reading, math, social studies, and science.  I couldn't resist and purchased 50 percent off books for my second grade class.
I purchased some unique materials from Faceing Math enhancing math vocabulary.  
It was time to pick another session of learning.  There was so much to choose from, it was difficult to choose.  I decided to go to the session about blogging since its what I like to do. 
The panel gave many personal testimonials about their own blogging experience.  I remember a teacher said she blogs every Saturday because its a way to reflect about the week with students.  She seemed like a natural writer who needs to write as a way of expression.  Blogging is a way to market your store but it's also something fun to do.  

After a busy day of networking it was time to do something fun with my husband.  Now I know why there are so many conferences in Las Vegas, there's so much to do in the evening.
Just walking around the Venetian was a treat in itself.  It was so much like Italy I felt I was in Rome.  
We met this lovely couple who just got married.  They said I could take a pic so I captured their special moment of just starting the journey of partnership.  In Las Vegas there's a new story at each corner.
The stores are incredible to shop in.  This store sold glass items as a work of art.  
This statue from a store reminded me of my students and how I want them to be free to discover their  talents.
We dined at Table Ten, Emeril's restaurant with famous signature dishes.
I had the most delicious crab cakes I've ever had in my life.  The delicious crab meat was cooked to perfection.

After dinner we walked again to see life in action.

The next day it was a little harder getting up but I was eager to learn new things.  I went to the session about learning to draw digitally like a master.  I was interested to see what teachers could do and I wasn't  disappointed.
Many teachers design their own clip art to sell.  It takes layers of each stroke to design one picture.  
After the session teachers came up to ask questions.  It was a way to collaborate and share information.  
The next session was learning about instagram.  I am very new at this but I understand it's becoming like a new facebook.  It's going to take a while to get the  hand of it but at least I learned how to use a hashtag and shared some pictures.  I just prefer using a camera than a phone to take photographs. 

The session about taxes and copyright was very interesting.  The discussion became lively when people started giving personal experiences.  Teachers Pay Teachers is a community that wants to treat each other with respect.  If you  help someone else you help the community.  What a great spirit of collaboration.
To finish our Las Vegas experience we watched the Rat Pack.  They were a great way to end our trip.  They sang their hearts out and gave us a free CD so we can dance to  the tunes at home.  Las Vegas is a magical place to attend a convention.  I hope to go next year.

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12. Won Art and Seek Flickr Photo of the Week for Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain

I won Art and Seek Flickr  Photo of the Week.  It think I had a lot of help from above because the light shone at just the right time.  I always take a lot of pictures if I like something so I took several shots.

Here is the link to the contest.


The picture that won is from the Fabulous Sagrada Familia, a Church found in Barcelona, Spain.

La Familia Radience.

Gaudi was a genius when he designed the magnificent church.  I'd like to stay for a week, sitting in a pew,  just to see how the light shines at different times of the day.  Here is just a glimpse of it's glory.  

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13. History Behind 4th of July Traditions

Our country's birthday is celebrated with traditions dating back to 1776, the year the original 13 colonies declared their independence from England.   
 Families gather to say we love our country and want it to be strong and bold. 
Our neighborhood holds a parade of bikes and decorated wagons.

Children dress in red white and blue to represent our flag's colors.
The 13 stars represent the first colonies to settle on the eastern coast.  They formed a circle with a backdrop of blue.  The circle symbolized unity to show not one state had more power.  Balance of powers was the building block our our constitution.

Everyone loves fireworks on 4th of July.  We celebrate a day early at the Farmers Branch Historical Park open to the public for free at 6:30.  
It's a community affair Farmers Branch puts together with a tractor ride to take you to your destination.
Many people donate their time so Americans can have a great 4th of July.
A concert is held before the fabulous firework display of colors.  

Loud explosions of light dates back to America's one year commemoration on July 4th 1777.  The country had a year to plan for a party.  It was John Adams idea to Abigail in one of his many letters he sent to her.  They were a power couple and got the job done.  Adman's wrote:
"independence day ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God almighty."


In our family its a tradition to have homemade strawberry cake with fresh strawberries on top. Picnics are part of 4th of July with grilled hotdogs topped with a swirl of yellow mustard.
On the first day of independence John Adams and wife Abigail slurped turtle soup, poached salmon, boiled potatoes, peas for a veggie.  and pandowdy or apple cobbler for dessert.

In Texas, Mexican food is a favorite 4th of July and all year round.

Founding Fathers
  Let's say thank you to America's founding fathers;George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and James Monroe.  For a history lesson children can check out books from the library about their amazing lives and learn without them there wouldn't be an Independence Day to celebrate.  John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both died on July 4th  in 1826, the 50th anniversary of our country.  

 Happy 239th Birthday USA!!

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14. Momma Duck Came to Say Happy Birthday

It's July 3rd and Momma Duck came to say " Happy Birthday !".

  I hadn't seen her in a while so I was surprised she came.   My son and I were in the family room talking and laughing when I looked out the window to see her.

"It's Momma Duck ,"   I shouted.

The whole family knows about Momma Duck so Michael immediately looked up to see.  She was swimming alone.   We think Daddy Duck died in October.  She had another male companion for a while but they seemed to be fighting the end of May.  After that she left.

She came to the same blue edged spa where her ducklings hopped out of the water to get dry.
I wonder if she is feeling hot in this July heat. She probably missed Daddy Duck and her ducklings.
 She showed her majestic blue wing etched in white as she flew off to reach the sky.  I feel it was a gift from God that she came to see me today.  God speaks to us through his creation.  He says I love you through the rustling of the trees.  He says I love you through a flock of birds flying free in the air.  

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15. Granada Sounds in Southern Spain

Traveling with my husband I had the pleasure of visiting  the southern Spanish city of Granada, Spain.  It is in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains in Andalucia.  Many visitors come to see the Moorish castle of Alhambra and the international music festival in June.  Granada is full of sights and sounds along the streets of old town, in the restaurants and open air concerts.
Getting There

We took a train from Seville and after about an hour we heard the voice of  a nice man saying, 

 "The train will stop and you will take a bus the rest of the way to Granada." 

  I saw this man working on the train so I'm not sure if this was routine or diverting a problem.

It was part of the adventure because the bus had better views than the train of golden sunflowers rustling in the wind.
  Andalucica  purple gray mountains sculpting the land of olive trees and sunflowers.
Spain replaced Italy as the top olive oil exporter to the United States and Japan.
Spain is one of the largest countries in southern Europe and ranks second in elevation.  Andalusia grows warm weather crops such as cotton, tobacco, and sugarcane.  You hear the sound of plantation owners of generations past carrying on the traditions of farming.

First we settled into our lovely Hotel Anacapri. It use to be a mansion so the lobby looks like a home with light coming in to give life to the plants and a soothing fountain gurgling Spanish water.  
Sunflowers of gold adorned our room.
We sat off to explore the city of Moorish architecture.  
We strolled along winding roads to find the Granada Cathedral.
There's a chapel where the royal Queen Isabella was buried with her husband Ferdinand. 
They gave permission for Columbus to set sail to America. 

The chapel played adoration music as followers contemplate their lives. 
The air was filled with the scent of fresh picked flowers and peace.  I didn't want to leave but it was time to explore new places in oldest part of the city.

Flamenco dancers were just outside the door.  The music comes from Gypsies who lived in Spain but it has become part of the flavor of Spaniards.  
Graceful movements express different emotions of joy and sadness.

The flamenco dress was an explosion of color as 
Spanish guitar guided their steps.
The sounds of a power tool cutting wood to make lovely furniture for Granada homes was part of the winding roads of culture.
It was time for shopping in Alcaiceria, home of the great Bazaar of Granada. It started with the exclusive right to manufacture and sell silk in the sixth century.  
I heard the sound of money clinging as I purchased turquoise placemats for our dining room table.

Next came the sound of a friendly waiter taking our order for paella and mixed salad.  Knifes chopped fresh vegetables cut locally.
Sitting at a square we heard the sound of children giggling as their parents watched with adoration.  
 We heard the whistle blow as the leader of a bridal party marched in unison of matching pink tutu skirts and bobbling balls, saying congratulations to your new life of marriage.

As evening fell below the Alhambra Moorish Palace music fell upon our ears.  Spanish guitar flowed Moonlight Sontana, a song I played as a child.  A lively man playing familiar tunes with his brass saxophone finished the evening of sounds.  Come to Granada to discover the sounds you might encounter on a June evening.  

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16. Barcelona Scooters Have Advantages Americans Can Learn From

Barcelona is filled with people who ride scooters and motorcycles. On a recent trip I noticed them weaving in and out of traffic with ease.  Drivers could be in a nice suite, dress, slacks, or the latest fashion.  They all have one purpose, get to their next destination on time.
Americans can learn from Europeans because to cope with high gas prices, scooters are everywhere.  

  In Barcelona, they swarm around cars like a  school of fish surrounding a whale.  Huge buses don't intimidate them.  They have an amazing since of perspective and can judge distances between large cars.
Riders look very fit and agile as they gracefully flow in the ocean of traffic.  
Why are they so popular?  They get amazing gas mileage.  The Honda Metroplitan 50 gets 100 MPG because it's so small.  Even the larger Honda Silverwing gets 52 MPG.  Another advantage is scooters are inexpensive compared to cars.  For example you can buy a Kymco Agility 50 for 1,599 new.  They are cheap to insure and maintain.  Insurance may cost 90 dollars a year for basic liability.  A motorcycle is higher at around 500 dollars for the same coverage.  
Many are free to park or almost free.  Scooters can park closer to your destination. They have handy compartments for storage.  
Another advantage is they look cool.  Scooters come in all colors but the red is a favorite.

Women carry purses just to their side.  

Cars seem to respect scooters in Barcelona because it has become a way of life.  
The new electric scooter is also an option.  Tourists may rent scooters as a fun way to see the city.  They cost around 30 euros for one day and 91 euros for three days of sightseeing.  
Always wear a helmet to stay safe.  
All ages ride scooters as a inexpensive way to travel.

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17. Sagrada Familia- Barcelona's Treasure

Sagrada Familia is a magical Catholic Church full of light and colors of the rainbow constructed by the famous Spanish architect, Antoni Gaudi to honor God.  He envisioned a visual narrative of Christ's life.

 Two million visitors come to Barcelona each year to see the amazing church, inspired by his religious faith and love of nature.   He  worked on the project for forty years knowing future generations would complete it. "My client is not in a hurry," Gaudi used to say.    It is suppose to be finished in the middle of the 21st century.  It was only twenty-five percent finished when Gaudi died. The last year of his life he actually lived on the site.
The construction began in 1883, combining Gothic and Art Nouveau forms.  It was inspired by natural forms  found in nature.  According to the philosophy, art should be a way of life.  
Gaudi left detailed instructions on how the work should be completed.  Computers have aided to the understanding of his complex thinking.  He studied the effects of light on nature.  He said the origin of all things is nature, created by God.  
There was a burst of color using the power of the sun's rays.  His belief in natural engineering helped shape the modern science of biomimetics.  Gaudi grew up fascinated by geometry and the natural wonders of the Catalonian countryside.  He struggled in many aspects of school and some say he may have had Asperger. Many students who are right brain visual think in a three dimensional way.  He made his plans for the church in three-dimensional

models rather than as conventional drawings.  The models helped his successors.  He understood that nature was created by laws of mathematics.  Design in nature explains the phenomenon of physics, bridging art with science.
"Nothing is art if it does not come from nature," he concluded.
The church  looked like a natural rainbow of green, blue, orange and red mixed together to create a bridge of truth.
Just below this stain glass window was the passion of Christ.

 Gaudi was very religious and wanted to show how Jesus died on the cross for our sins.   

A giant organ was placed behind the passion of Christ to play hymns of adoration.

Gaudi wanted to honor God with his creation.  

The outside of the church shows the nativity scene, one of the four facades.
It shows the twelve apostles who followed Jesus and continued his teachings after his death.
Gaudi's cathedral stands tall to reach the skies of Barcelona.  I think Gaudi would have been pleased to know so many visitors want to come and see a place of worship to glorify God.  

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18. Explore Granada Churches

I discovered many places of worship in Granada, Spain.  Iglesia de Santa Ana was celebrating mass on a summer evening in June with active members participating in a procession honoring Mary.  The church has been celebrating worship since 1501 when it was built by Diego de Siloe in a renaissance style.

Families came to practice their faith as traditions were past down to future generations.
Tapestries were held with strong arms to display honor.
Church members played their instruments
to the beat of the band marching step by step.
The procession passed across Plaza Nueva.
To the churches's courtyard in Santa Ana Plaza.

The colorful procession of lighted candles continued up River Darro.
Cars were decorated with ribbons and flowers.

Families greeted one another after mass.

Sons took care of their mothers.
It was a time of celebration of faith with pageantry.

The Cathedral of Granada was another expression of faith.  It was a Gothic style church built by Enrique de Egas.  On order of the Catholic Monarchs construction began in 1523.  It continued under the Renaissance masetro, Diego de Siloe, the same designer of the Santa Ann Church.  
Queen Isabella and Ferdinand wanted to be buried in the church. 
As I went inside the church had a sweet Spirit of peace.  
Fresh flowers were in display as floral aromas filled the space.
Each alcove had something special to share.
A church located in the Albecin  had been a prison, before it became a place of worship.
I heard nuns singing at around 12:00 in the church.  

There are many more places of faith to discover in Granada, Spain.  There are monasteries and  abbes waiting to explore.

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19. World Malaria Day

There is a global  effort to end the devastating disease called Malaria. Over 3.3 billion people in 106 countries are at risk. April 25 has been set aside as a day to call the world to help prevent, diagnosis and treat Malaria.  A half a million lives are lost to this preventable disease each year.  The youngest children under age five are the most vulnerable.

Community health workers are put into place as caretakers  of children who have been infected.
"During the rainy season like March, malaria cases rise,"  Makono a health worker explains.
"I see 30 children every day and 20 out of the 30 have malaria."  The child is given a three day drug intervention to treat malaria which saves lives.

Makono is from Malawi, Africa. He starts seeing mothers and their children as early as 6:30 in the morning.  He is one of 2,105 health workers supported by the Presidents's Malaria initiative through the U.S. Agency for International Development.

The good news about this disease is the reduction of deaths has declined dramatically because of the interventions in place.  Many are purchasing mosquito nets to help save lives.  Five million houses in thirteen countries have been sprayed with residual insecticide protecting over 18 million people.

As I enjoy spring in Texas I want to remember others who need our help.

Defeat Malaria

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21. Lees Legendary Marbles in York, Nebraska

It's worth the visit to see Lee Batterton's collection of over one million antique marbles.  You walk in the store to visually see jars of marbles neatly arranged on shelves. It's a museum of marbles ranging from rare hand made quality from Germany to machine made.
Lee loved to play marbles as a child because he was pretty good at it.  His large hands made him the best shot in his class.  The game became popular in 1907  A favorite birthday present was a bag of marbles for a dime.  Each marble was hand blown making each marble unique in color and design.  

Lee likes to go to Marble Shows to display his rare finds.  He began serious collecting when stationed in Germany.  His spare bedroom became a storage for the round balls of glass rainbows. He continued his hobby in the states going to auctions and sharing his love of the collection with others.  After forty years of collecting he decided to open up a shop so the public could have a chance to purchase the colorful gems.  Some marbles are so rare they date back to the 1700's.  Not all marbles are made of glass.  Other materials are clay, steel, ivory, wood, china, stone, and the most rare, paper.  

Lee's collectibles also include gold coins, trains, dishes, and antiques. 

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22. Wessels Living History Farm The Spirit of American Agriculture

Wessels Living History Farm in York, Nebraska captures the spirit of hard working farmers contributing to the breadbasket of American agriculture.  Learn about farming in the 1920's to present day.  David Wessel donated his land so generations could see the advancement of technology from plowing with horses to huge tractors run by computers.

A plow is a farm tool with  one or more heavy blades that breaks the soil to cut small ditches for sowing seeds.

Engine powered farm tractors made farming easier to plant more seeds.

John Deere was an American mechanic who invented the all steel one piece broad blade to cut through the soil.  He started his own company with his sons so farmers could partake in his innovations.
Enter the house with guided tours of what it was like to live on a farm in the 1920s

Farming was hard work with every member of the family having chores. Women tested to see if the pie was done by sticking their hand in the oven to check the temperature.
Women cooked on cast iron skillets and it took a strong scrubber to clean it.
The 145 acre farm features a red, timber framed barn, corn crib, machine shed, garage, chicken coop and a large windmill of the 1920's.

Learn what it was like to grind up corn into meal.

Live animals are fun for the children to discover.  
Visit a church where people came to worship.  Weddings are performed there.
Take interstate 80 and exit 353 to 5520 South Lincoln Ave in York, Nebraska.  The farm site is open from May 1 to October 31 Mondays to Saturdays from 9:30 to 4:30 and Sundays from 1:00 to 4:30. The farm can be rented for parties, reunions, wedding and other special events.   

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23. Seville The Cultural Capital of Southern Spain

Seville is the cultural capital of southern Spain because of its rich history. The Tartessians were primitive settlers who named the port Spal or lowland.  Romans, Visigoths, and Moors translated the name into their own language until it became Seville.  Each civilization  brought their flavor of architecture, food, and commerce.

 It was the only city in Spain on the edge of a navigable river but far enough away from the threat of pirates on the coast.

 It became the jewel in the Spanish crown after Christopher Columbus sailed from the port in 1492 to discover America. The first sailor to sight America and shout 'land ahoy", was from Seville.  After two months at sea Juan Rodriguez Bermejo was excited to see the land of San Salvador.  Amerigo Vespucci was another explorer from Seville who drew maps of his voyages to the new continent.  His maps were so important to spreading the news about the new continent, it was named after him.

  Seville became prosperous as a trade port of gold, silver and precious stones brought back from explorers.
Porcelain  tells the story of merchants prospering from Spaniards bringing back corn, potatoes, tomatoes, beans, cocoa, pineapple, papaya, cinnamon, vanilla and other foods which spread throughout Europe.  

Juan Sebastian Elcano was the first person to sail a ship around the world on September 22, 1522.  He wanted to prove the earth was round so it took him three years to complete the voyage.  
Sweet blossoms fill the air of generations of the past living their lives on a prosperous trade route.  The river allowed Greeks, Phoenicians, and Carthaginians access to foreign travel bringing riches even from the Orient.   

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24. Seville Spain

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25. Dining With A View in Granada Spain

Granada has some amazing places to enjoy delicious food with an incredible view.  

 Cafe Bar Al Candu has a fantastic view of the Alhambra, a Moorish Palace.

As the evening progressed the colors changed with the light.
Everyone was snapping photos from their table.
Lights reflect the ancient past.

For ten euros we had a three course dinner.  I chose humus as the first course dripping with fresh olive oil.

My husband had mixed salad with fresh vegetables.  Later came the tender chicken curie and scrumptious torte line.

It's a custom for the bride to invite friends to party before getting married.  She carries a whistle to guide her group to fun.  It added to the party atmosphere as they marched around.

Last came the creamy flan desert.
Three different musicians played in the background.  The gentle breeze kept us cool in Granada Spain.

The next day we ate at a charming restaurant right across from the Alhambra.  This was the view right from our table.
I ordered a local dish prepared with almonds and honey.  The chicken was so tender you could cut it with a fork.  I wanted to go ask for the recipe.
There were three terraces with a beautiful coi pond.  A celebration of local artists were having a viewing of their paintings.  

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