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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. Deep Ellum

Deep Ellum began in the late 1800's as a neighborhood on the east side of downtown Dallas.  The area has gone through changes that corresponds with the history of Dallas.

 The name "Deep Ellum," was originally called ,"Deep Elm" because its located by Elm Street and the pronunciation led to its current name.
 It was one of the first commercial districts for African-Americans and European immigrants.  Henry Ford selected Deep Ellum as the site for one of the first automobile plants in 1914.  It created many jobs so people built homes close to the plant.

It has one of the largest selection of commercial storefronts from the early 20th century.

Robert S. Munger built his first cotton gin factory in a series of brick warehouses along Elm Street and Trunk Avenue in Deep Ellum in 1888.  It became the largest manufacturer of cotton-processing equipment in the United States.
The industrial complex was converted to loft apartments in 1997 and the community keeps growing.
Adam Hats moved into the four story building in 1959 added to the growth of the community.

Now it is home to many wonderful places to eat.  Serious Pizza will provide hand tossed, yummy crust with your favorite toppings.
Savor the smells as you walk in the door.

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2. Travel Tips at the 2016 Dallas Travel Adventure Show

Travel Tips at the Dallas Travel Adventure Show were everywhere.  Over two hundred booths had experts about how to have the perfect vacation.  The booths were arranged by country so it was convenient to see the choices from that area of the world.  The minute I stepped into the showroom I could hear the stomping of feet.  I went to the stage where live dancers displayed a unison of graceful movement as they represented their culture through dance.  I thought what a great way to begin a travel show, I have something lovely to photograph.

 A travel show is a wonderful place to ask questions.  Since I like taking photographs I was interested in travel tips about photography.  Photo Enrichment  Travel Company gave a great tip.  He said get out early to take photographs when the locals are going to work, taking their kids to school and the lighting is great.  I checked out his website and the photographs are spectacular.

  A section about Africa caught my eye because Zulu Nyala provided an opportunity to stay at a wildlife conservation refuge to protect Rhinos and other animals.  What a great way to take some fantastic photographs of wild animals and help them at the same time.

 China Tour.com said you could take a twelve day tour with the added bonus of the Yangtze River Cruise for 1699 dollars.  However when I asked more questions it was not available in the summer when I have more time off.  Some of the adventures on the tour was to hike on the Great Wall, take a tour of a Pearl Factory, visit Summer Palace on the UNESCO World Heritage Site, and view Tienanmen Square.   On the menu was Peking Duck for dinner.  I'd have to skip that meal because I love ducks.  Another Tour of China gave us a wonderful Travel Guide for free.

Rick Steves, our family hero gave a travel tip;   avoid crowds and don't travel in the summer.  I think he's right because some of our best vacations have been on spring break.  Venice was wonderful in March because it wasn't hot and little waiting in lines.   Rick said sit at a bench and discover the locals.  One of my favorite things to do in a country is just watch the people.  He also said to pack light.   All the husbands in the crowd looked at their wives with a glare.

 One of Rick's requirements for his tours is carry a small suitcase or backpack.  I'll have to work on that one.  I like to take a big bag so I can stuff souvenirs in it.  I't also reassuring to know I have enough clothes for two outfits a day.  One for day and one for evening attire when you go out to dinner.  I'm not sure how that could be possible in a small bag.  I guess you bring everything in black.  Even if I don't agree on the small bag advice Rick was a very enjoyable speaker who has a passion for history.  He said taking an art history class opened his eyes to culture in a new way.  His guide books are filled with fascinating stories that make the place you visit so much more interesting.  Rick Steves engages people because he is honest and wants everyone to have a terrific travel experience.

A highlight of the travel show was to see the cultural dancers move with joy.  I think a wonderful travel tip is to take the time to stop and listen when something amazing is happening even if it isn't on
your schedule.  You can feel it in your bones that what you are witnessing is full of energy and life.

Watching the dancers lift their dresses with the rhythm of the Spanish music reminded me of our trip to Spain last summer.  All of a sudden there was a band marching in the streets of Granada.  Sons were holding hands with their mothers as they got out of Mass.  A statue of Mary was raised to the sky as a sign of respect and adoration.  I cried it was so beautiful to watch the procession of people and life.

Enjoying great food is another travel tip people don't have a hard time following.  A live cooking show was demonstrating how to cook exotic Polynesian food.  In Spain a platter of assorted meats were cut from hanging hams.

You don't have to go to Egypt to ride a camel.  The travel show provided an opportunity to ride on the back of a camel.
I think trying new things is a very important travel tip.  Sometimes it takes courage to get on top of a live animal and there is a degree of trust the guide will keep you safe.  Watching other people do it first gives some reassurance you won't fall off.  
Watching the camel eat was enough of an adventure for me.  I enjoyed just seeing the exotic camel upclose. I think travel adventures should be something you feel comfortable with.  

Some people plan their entire vacations around great places to scuba dive and snorkle.

  At the Dallas Travel Show you had the opportunity to see what's it like to  breathe underwater.  It's an experience people will always remember.  Memories make life special.

Rock climbing in exotic places like Nepal is a delight to some.  Children enjoyed rock climbing at the Travel Show as they reached new heights.  Didn't Mary in the Sound of Music sing a song about climb every mountain.  
Traveling is a way to find your inspirations.  What makes you smile?  What makes you wonder?  Come to the Travel and Adventure Show in your area and discover your next tourist destination.

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3. Dallas Travel Adventure Show Cultural Dancing

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4. Fort Worth Stock Show Rodeo 2016

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5. Birds of Prey Show at Eagle Fest in Emory, Texas

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6. Eagle Fest in Emory, Texas

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7. Eagle Fest 2016

Rains Country Eagle Fest celebrated twenty one years of enjoying Texas wildlife.  The community opened Rains High School as a place for vendors, families, and wildlife photographers to enjoy a beautiful Texas winter's day.  The goal was to find eagles nestled in bare trees. A bus from the high school took us to Lake Fork. A comfortable barge was awaiting us.

 Our barge tour had a discussion to if we really saw an eagle.  I want to believe we did.  Birds naturally camouflage themselves to hide from predators.  Even if it wasn't an eagle it felt like a glimpse into the life of nature on a cold winter Texas day.
Our barge captain was a volunteer from the community.  He steered his boat into waters with tree stumps.

  Occasionally we heard a thump, thump as his under boat was dragging things beneath the water.
Photographer's eyes were collectively looking for eagles perched on a limb of a tree.   
"Oh look, right between the branches.  I see a bird with a touch of white."
  There was evidence of birds making nests in tall trees.  They enjoyed the Texas sun as it beamed down on all living things.  

The sun shined on fishermen catching Texas Bass.  They grow big in East Texas Waters.  It'll be nice for dinner, pan fried with a little butter. 

The sandy shoreline had layers of earth settling over time.  Colors of copper, and light tan mixed with rock and roots was soothing to the soul.

We spotted a nest in the top of a lone tree.  Was an eagle sleeping inside the nest?  
Waves of color swirled in the wake of the barge.  The sky and lake merged into a mass array of pale blues, deep greens, and purple hues.  
Docks built over the blue waters wanted to touch the glassy surface.
Paths of wood connected nature with humanity.
Long lenses stretched to capture the beauty of nature.  
Was it a hawk, eagle or other bird of prey?
As nature lovers sat on the bus to view photos taken. there was a spirit of calm to witness the beauty of winter in Texas.
Coming back to Rains High School there was a Birds of Prey Show by the Blackland Prairie Raptors explaining how wild birds survive in the area.  I recognized this owl who had come inside our living room to perch on top of our oil painting.  Screech Owls like to live in the same place over time and nest in large Red Oak Trees. 

Vendors were selling fur pellets and interesting things of nature.
I purchased lovely products from Life is Fragile.  It reminded me of the duck feather just flapping on my window pane for several days.  She shared her story of how God helped her overcome addiction.  I loved her message of hope and redemption.  
 Thank you Emory, Texas for giving us a glorious day of discovery.

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8. 120th Fort Worth Stock Show Traditions and Improvements

Fort Worth Stock show celebrates 120 years of tradition.  More than one million people will visit the rodeo and grounds.

You don't have to be a cowboy or cowgirl, you just have to appreciate western heritage.   People will enjoy a midway full of enticing food and shopping for custom cowboy boots.  They come in all colors and styles for a comfortable fit.  Grandbury High School 16 year old, Daniela Cortez won the grand prize for the cover of the stock show program with a painting of cowboy boots.  She is the first blue winner for 2016 Show.  She wants to become an art teacher to use her talent to help children. The idea came from her mother's love of western fashion. Many students enter the art contest of talented artwork.

The Stock Show creates a hundred million dollars to the  economic wealth for the city of Fort Worth. About 4000 FH and FAA High Schools participate in the events.

 The legendary stock show contains  31,160 entries from 44 different states.   Twelve hundred  professional atheletes will compete in rodeo events.

The show opened January 15th and will run for 23 days, closing February 6th.  So plan ahead to get your rodeo tickets.  The price go from $20 to $28 dollars and will give you admission to the grounds.

 Parking cost $10. Visitors can take a $5 dollar shuttle leaving from Billy Bob's.  If you want to see all the amazing animals grounds, tickets are only $10 for adults and $5 dollars for children.  If your little one is under 5, they are free.

A new arena is planned to open the fall of 2019 and will be ready for the 2020 stock show. It will be built to seat 12,000 ti 14,000 people.  Ed Bass is the Stock Show Chairman and led as a leader to plan for future stock shows.  The improvements will cost $450 million dollars.     Original barns were  built in 1948 so they needed some updates.

 Cattle Barn 2 renovations are a prototype for future improvements to Cattle Barns 1,3, and 4.  The Swine and Sheep Barns will be finished by 2020 this year.   The new lighting  and ventilation help improve on the health of the animals.  Individual circuits to every stall were added for a vast improvement.  This is helpful when you need electricity to shave your sheep for the show.  They want to look their best.

The city of Fort Worth  and facilitates will share the cost.  They work as partners to improve a one hundred and twenty year tradition of fun.  

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9. Grandma and Black Eyes Peas

It's been a southern tradition to eat black eyed peas to ring in the new year. If we weren't together on new years day my mom would always ask,

 "Have you had your black eyes peas yet? It's suppose to bring prosperity,"

"Yes, mom," I answered.  I really don't believe in luck but God's grace, however it is interesting how traditions get started.    It turns out black eyed peas are suppose to look like coins.  During the Civil War in December of 1864 food was scarce but a common food to eat was  black eyed peas.  The peas came  to the south from West Africa brought on slave ships. Black eyed peas had been domesticated in Africa 5,000 years ago and made there way into the diet  all over the continent. Everywhere African slaves involuntarily arrived, black eyed peas followed.    Today peas are also eaten in Central America, Caribbean and Brazil.

 Peas are flavored with collard greens which symbolizes money in many cultures. They also bring good health with fiber, protein, calcium and Vitamin A.  Eat them with cornbread because they look like gold.    George Washington Carver encouraged people to plant black eyed peas because the plant adds nitrogen to the soil.  They are also drought tolerant and free of pests and disease.  My grandmother grew black eyed peas in her Oklahoma garden.  She loved to fry up bacon in a cast iron skillet and then listen to the black eyed peas sizzle in the pan.

My son Michael listens to his 94 year old grandma.  She has wise sayings and good cheer.   She says,
"Michael it's so good to  see you."  her eyes beam just seeing his smiling face and gentle voice.  Grandsons are God's gift to us. New Years is a time to remember traditions and give friendly hellos. Happy New Year Grandma Palmer.  

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10. New Years Eve Times Square

My family and I had the privilege of being apart of the festivities at New Years Eve Times Square last year.  My admiration for the NYPD grew as I saw how much preparation came before the big event.
About one million people come to see the Waterford crystal ball drop.  Party goers are screened with hand held metal detectors twice once they enter pens where they must stay.  There are fourteen access points to enter the celebration.Thousands of officers won't be celebrating New Years Eve with their family because they will help with security.  They perform their job without complaining.

"Leave the worrying to the NYPD," said James O'Neill, chief of the department.  "People should feel safest this New Year's Eve because we're there."

The bomb squad will sweep hotels, theaters, construction sites and parking garages.  They also will patrol the subway station.  They will rely on a network of thousands of security cameras blanketing lower Manhattan.  
Carrie Underwood, Luke Bryan, Wiz Khalifa, Demi Lovato and Charlie Puth will be among the musical guests to perform this year.
Security Officers will be on horses to maintain the crowds.
Sanitation crews will come after the show to clean up from 2016 celebration.  They will get rid of 50 tons of garbage including confetti, party hats and other leftovers from the party goers.
Thank you New York Police for keeping everyone safe.

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11. Jesus is the Greatest Gift

Jesus is the greatest gift mankind has ever known.  Isaiah 9 6-7  For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given and the government shall be upon his shoulder. and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I  am the light of the world.  If you follow me, you won't have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life."

John 14:27  "I am leaving you with a gift.....peace of mind and heart.  And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give.  So don't be troubled or afraid.  Jesus came to love us.

lohim or Elohay is the first name for God found in the Bible.  It's used throughout the Old Testament over 2,300 times.  Elohim comes from the Hebrew root meaning strength or power.  Genesis 1:1  In the beginning Elohim created the heaven and the earth.  The name describes one God.

Elohim is combined with other words to describe different characteristics of God.
God of the Beginning Deuteronomy 33:27
God of Justice  Isaiah 30:18
God of Forgiveness Nehemiah 9:17
God of Heights Micah 6:6
God Who is Near Jeremiah 23:23
God of My Strength Psalm 43::2
Holy God Leviticus 19:2
Living God Jeremiah 10:10
God of Gods: Deuteronomy 10:17

El is another name used for God in the Bible showing up about 200 times in the Old Testament.

The Lord who revealed Himself as YHVH The Lord our Maker Psalms 95:6.   is revealed as Jesus Yeshua in the New Testament.  Jesus presents himself as the "I Am"

Romans 10:9  Paul declares," if you confess with your mouth Yeshua as Lord.... you will be saved.
Romans 10:13  Paul quotes the Old Testament  Joel  2:32.  Calling on Yeshua Jesus as Lord is the same as calling Him YHVH because Yeshua Jesus is YHVH Lord the Messiah foretold throughout the entire Old Testament.

Jesus the creator, the eternal Son of God, who lived a sinless life, loves us so much that He  died for our sins, taking the punishment that we deserve, was buried, and rose from the dead according to the Bible.  If you receive Jesus as your Savior declaring Jesus is Lord you will be saved and spend an eternity with God in heaven.

Let all within us Praise His Holy Name.  Glory to God in the Highest and Peace on Earth Toward Man.    Christ divine.  

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12. Happy 94th Birthday Mom!!

We celebrated the ninety four years my mom has been blessed to be on this earth.  The highlight of the day was seeing her grandson Alex.

 Her eyes beamed when he walked in the door and sang Happy Birthday to you!

"I love chocolate cake,"  she delighted.  "I think I'll have a little more," as she grabbed the spoon.  I was so happy she liked it.  I remembered chocolate was her favorite because every holiday she'd bake her Chocolate Sheath Cake recipe by scratch.  She used real Hershey chocolate with creamy butter.

"Do I blow out the candle? "She asked.  I kept saying, "Make a wish, make a wish,"  I knew she always liked to do that on her birthday.  But this year she just blew out the lit candle.

I brought her pink long stem roses because she loves flowers.  She kept pointing to them,
"Aren't they pretty."  She always had a pink rose bush growing in her backyard and she'd look at it through her kitchen window.  Birds love to play in her bird bath.

Alex sat by her on the bed as she kept asking him questions.  We all got into the party atmosphere by wearing Happy Birthday Hats!!!  
She talked of her boyfriend Jack who she met at the age of 85.  She said,  "Why did he have to die?  I guess everyone has to at some point." she sighed.  I got out one of the hundreds of letters he wrote to her.  He always left a romantic song at the end of the letter   I read it out loud.  You are my sweetheart Sweet Sue.  I love you.  I thought Jack would have liked it that she remembered him on her birthday.
She talked of my dad and over 50 years of marriage.
She was born in 1921 in Oklahoma City. She was raised on a farm where her job was to pick grapes every  harvest. She gathered  eggs quickly so she wouldn't get scratched by hens.   She has seen the dust bowl days, when her mom covered her face so dust would't settle in her lungs.  She remembered boyfriends she had so say goodbye to as they went off to fight in World War II.  
She loved her brand new red shirt with sequins.  She wore her new scarf with red roses on it.  She has a trunk full of memories.  Life is a little hard now at 94.  Her back hurts and it's difficult to move her tired muscles.  But on her 94th birthday the joy was in her eyes.  She felt loved.

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13. Meaning of Poinsettias at Christmas

I was in Home Depot buying my usual assortment of beautiful Poinsettias when the sales clerk asked me.
 " A lot of people have been coming into the store to buy Poinsettias but when I ask them what is the meaning for Christmas no one could tell me."

I answered, "I know the meaning."  She got the quick version since other people were behind  me to check out.  So here is the longer version of the meaning of this heavenly flower.  December 12th happens to be National Poinsettia Day.

The Poinsettia Flower is known as the Christmas Star and Christmas Flower.  It comes from a Mexican legend from the 16th century about a child who wanted to get baby Jesus something special for Christmas.  Maria or Pepita was poor and didn't have much money.  So she gathered weeds from the Mexican countryside to place at the church alter on Christmas Eve.  The people who attended mass that night witnessed a Christmas miracle.  The weeds turned into brilliant red and green flowers.  Jesus saw the child's heart of wanting to give and turned the weeds to something magical.  In the 17th century, Franciscan priests used the Poinsettia flower in their nativity processions.

So why do we call the Christmas Flower a Poinsettia.  It's all because of a man named Joel Roberts Poinsettia.  He was the first United States ambassador to Mexico in 1825,. He loved plants and thought this beautiful flower should be shared with others. He sent the flower to South Carolina where he began growing the plants and sending them to botanical gardens in 1828.  December 12th is National Poinsettias Day because of the death of Joel on December 12th in 1851. They became known as Poinsettias in 1830 when people found out who had first brought them to America from Mexico.
The flower symbolizes good cheer and success.  It is said to bring wishes of mirth and celebration.

The beautiful flower is also known as Winter Rose, Noche Buena  and Mexican Flame Leaf.  In Turkey they call it  Atakurk's Flower, named after the founder of modern Turkey.  Even the ancient Aztecs loved the flower and considered it to be symbols of purity.  It is native to Central America so this flower has been shared with many types of people.  The Aztecs used the flower for purple dye for their clothes and cosmetics.  The milky white sap was made into a medicine to treat fevers.  Today we call it sap latex.

The shape of the Poinsettia Flower and leaves are thought as a symbol of the Star of Bethlehem which led the Wise Men to Jesus.  The red colored leaves symbolize the blood of Christ.  The white leaves represent his purity.
What is even more special is the etching of the Poinsettia flower is on a sand dollar.  God with his infinite wisdom knew this flower would some day symbolize Christmas.  So he planned ahead and took this lowly shell to remind us all of the plan of Christ. On the other side of the sand dollar is the Easter Lily.  This flower is celebrated at Easter symbolizing Jesus resurrection.  The sand dollar also has five wholes to show his death on the cross.

  Jesus came to earth at a special time in history when God knew the timing was right.  He came to humanity as a child in a manger.  He lived a life on earth without sin.  But bore our sin on the cross so we might live with him forever.  All we have to do is believe in Jesus and follow Him.  He gives us the Holy Spirit of love, joy and peace this holiday   season.  If you open the sand dollar white doves fall out to show peace.

 The doves are in the shape of a star on the inside of the shell. Peace on earth, good will toward men.

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14. 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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15. 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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16. 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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17. 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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18. 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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19. 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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20. 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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21. 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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22. 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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23. Love Never Fails - Brandon Heath

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24. 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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25. 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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