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Grandparent: A Parent of One’s Father or Mother

            When you read the definition for grandparent it is just that, a definition. It is just a cold fact with no emotional attachment. Yet, there is no relationship as unique as that between a grandparent and a grandchild.

If you are a grandchild in the United States of America, the perfect day this year to spend time with your grandparent is September 8, 2019, which is National Grandparents Day. In 1978 the first Sunday after Labor Day became an official holiday to recognize the contributions grandparents make to the younger generation. It is the perfect day for grandchildren to let their grandparents know they are loved. Several other countries (Canada, The United Kingdom, France, Germany, Poland, Australia) also have their own designated day to remember grandparents.

What makes this relationship so special? A grandchild represents the continuation of a family’s genealogy. Grandparents provide an all-consuming sense of security. There is an abundance of hugs and kisses given freely. Grandparents enjoy doing activities with their grandchild; time spent together at theme parks, at zoos, on cruises and on camping trips require lots of walking and stamina. A hidden benefit is grandparents are more inclined to do what is needed to be healthy so they can continue, as they age, to be able to remain active.

Some of the best memories created together are made at the grandparent’s home. Grandma is busy in the kitchen making a batch of cookies. Grandpa is preparing his secret barbeque sauce. Old picture albums, 8mm movie films, and slides are retrieved from the closet and looked at together. They are never viewed quickly because a story to go with each one is told in great detail. Stories about the family’s history make the pictures come alive. There is nothing better than those about family secrets to hold a grandchild’s attention, stories their parent have never heard. The best stories are ones about a parent that can be used, if needed, as leverage by the grandchild who is on the edge of their chair taking in every detail. Time together is also spent putting puzzles together and playing board and card games. How amazing it is that the grandchild usually always wins!

A grandparent feels honored when asked to talk about their life memories. Hairstyles, clothes, transportation, minimum wage, jobs choices, and television shows were completely different when this older generation was growing up; the world was a different place. These past memories need to be told over and over again so they are not forgotten by the younger generation. It is the grandchild’s responsibility to pass the stories down to their children.

             Watching a grandchild grow from an infant to a toddler to a teenager to an adulthood who possibly will gift them with a great-grandchild provides grandparents with a reason to keep-on-keeping-on. With each family event, another one follows that they do not want to miss. Be sure to include them if possible.

            Your grandparent’s stories are your genealogy; you will never find their memories on GRANDPARENT’S DAY                 by Denise V

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The Many Meanings of Love

According to one popular magazine, there are seven types of love. Agape is universal, unselfish love that is concerned for the welfare of others. Ludus is playful or uncommitted love. Eros is romantic love. Pragma is practical love founded on reason or duty. Philautia is self-love, emotional appraisal of ones worth relative to others. Philia is a love of a friend founded on goodness and shared goodwill. Storge is love between parents and their children. For all of these different categories, the English language uses one word, love.

In the ancient Indo-European language of India, Sanskrit, 96 words are used for the one American word love. Ancient Persian has 80 words to express the emotions the English language lumps into one word, love.

In Spanish there are a number of expressions for emotions ranging from casual to binding affection. The word for romantic love would not be used to describe how much you like a taco.

The German language has a variety of romantic expressions for the word love; one is serious and another is casual.

In Filipino Tagalog mahal when used with kita means ”I love you” and can be said to extended family members, friends, and romantic partners. Mahal used alone can express feelings for expensive gifts, etc.

Japanese culture rarely uses their word that expresses formal love. The casual word for love is used often to express feelings for food, music, etc.

Even the Bible when translated or revised to English used the word love where in Hebrew and Greek there were several words used to describe the feelings. The Hebrew Testament used three verbs (ahev, ahav, ahavah) to denote various emotions English expresses with the word love. The Greek Testament used two words (agape and phileo) to distinguish very different feeling. Again, the English language uses the word love.

            When compared to other languages, English might overuse the word love, but it is a word that makes us feel good when we hear it. Sometimes, we just can’t get enough of a good thing!

romantic love

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Celebrating Bacon

            People are always looking for a reason to party and the best parties include lots of food and drink. Hosting an International Bacon Day celebration is a perfect reason to plan one. It is celebrated on the Saturday before Labor Day in the United States of America. (Do not confuse it with Bacon Day celebrated in the USA on December 30.)

Months in advance people get busy creating dishes containing bacon; dishes to satisfy the pallet from the first meal of the day to the last bite before bed. The gathering might be hosted at one home with the host doing all the cooking. Others party at one home, but everyone brings a different bacon dish. Friends might get together and plan a full day of eating and socializing by traveling from house to house. Everyone is given a map and the time the next host will be welcoming guests. The day begins with breakfast at one home, then moving on to another home for a morning snack, next traveling to another home for lunch, followed by an appetizer at another friend’s home. The group once again travels to another home for dinner, and evening drinks and dessert are served at the last home. Of course, bacon in some shape or form must be included on the menu at every stop.

For breakfast a simple meal of eggs sunny-side up with bacon slices and toast could be served. For the more adventurous a bacon and egg casserole with spinach and cheese along with a small bowl of fresh fruit might be the breakfast menu. A bowl of hot oatmeal with bacon bits and a drizzle of maple syrup or honey on top makes a nutritious start to the day. Another menu idea is to serve pancakes with bacon. It’s quick, easy, and delicious.

For the morning snack a small salad with bacon bits and apple slices or peanut butter and bacon on crackers is a protein rich snack before lunch.

Menu selections for lunch are endless. Hot German potato salad with bacon in it served with a BLT sandwich is a great option. A baked potato covered with sour cream, chives, cheese, and bacon bits is quick and easy to make. For people wanting a change from the basic loaded baked potato, they can offer a baked potato drizzled with maple syrup and bacon toppings.

For an appetizer, the host could serve asparagus wrapped in bacon or scallops wrapped in bacon. Both can be broiled or put on the grill to add a little extra flavor to the dish. Bite size crackers with cheese and bacon or with bacon and a slice of tomato or cucumber or avocado make delicious appetizers too.

For the main dinner course, depending on how much the host wants to spend, two excellent choices are steak wrapped with bacon cooked on the grill or a juicy bacon cheeseburger. A side serving of grilled vegetables goes well with both entrees.

Later in the evening bacon ice cream could be served for dessert. Bacon homemade candy is another light dessert alternative. Both could be served with a rye-whisky cocktail or a tall glass of German ale.

Don’t shy away from celebrating if you are a vegetarian or a vegan. There is soy bacon that can be used in all the recipes mentioned here. If you are invited to a party where real bacon will be served, make servings for yourself with soy bacon and take them with you. Then, you can enjoy eating and socializing with your friends without compromising your dietary preference.

The phrase, “bringing home the bacon” is defined as to earn a salary, but on International Bacon Day it could refer to literally bringing home the bacon!

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Be Aware of the Bee

            Every year the third Saturday in August National Honey Bee Day is celebrated. Are you wondering how you can recognize the honey bee this year on August 17? You certainly can’t buy a honey bee a treat like you would for a domestic pet. You also can’t adopt (financially contribute to its care) a bee for a year like you can a wild animal in a wildlife habitat.

But, here are some things you might consider doing on National Honey Bee Day: (1) Instead of using sugar, use honey. It’s tasty in tea, baked goods, on pancakes, toast, and even in salad dressing. Honey comes in a variety of flavors, each determined by the plants the bees pollinate. (2) Invite a local beekeeper to be the brown-bag lunch speaker at your workplace. (3) Invite a beekeeper to talk with school students about the value of becoming a beekeeper and the current environmental concerns the honey bee is facing today. (4) Show your support to your local beekeepers and purchase some locally grown honey. (5) Give locally grown honey as a gift to a special friend, neighbor, co-worker or family member. (6) Spread some local wildflower seeds to promote pollination.

            The honey bee is a tiny insect that can deliver a powerful sting if you swat at it or damage its hive. If you move slowly around bees and don’t disturb them, they will continue with their daily activities, oblivious to your presence. It is best not to provoke them because many people are allergic to bee stings and, if stung, getting to the closest emergency room is essential.

Honey bees might be small, but they provide a huge contribution to our food supply. Without them we would not have the variety of healthy fruits and vegetables we love to eat. We are dependent on bees to pollinate everything from A to Z (alfalfa which is used to feed dairy cows, almonds, strawberries, etc.) Only one statistic is needed to confirm how dependent we are on the honey bee; this one insect is responsible for more than one-third of the food we eat!

Just as we enjoy the beautiful colors and scents of various flowers, so does the honey bee. Sweet scents draw bees and they busily move from plant to plant spreading pollen. So, by planting flowers in containers and in the ground, we can do our part to keep the pollination cycle going. The honey bee needs the nectar from the plants for their survival. Without the honey bees pollinating abilities, many nutritious plants wouldn’t reproduce.

On August 17, 2019, remember it’s National Honey Bee Day. It began in 2009 with a proclamation issued by Thomas J. Vilsek, the Secretary of Agriculture at the time. He proclaimed it as an official day to remember beekeepers, beekeeping clubs and organizations and to remember the value the honey bee makes to our life cycle.

May we all do our part to make others aware of the bee!

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A Day For Lefties-August 13

If you are a “people watcher” it probably doesn’t take you long to recognize someone who is left-hand dominant. You have observed the frustration on their face when they use a serrated knife; the cut is crooked instead of straight. At a restaurant there is always the game of musical chairs going on; a lefty cannot sit to the right of a right-handed person without bumping elbows. A sure give away if someone is left-handed is when using scissors; they have to turn them upside down. Writing or drawing the old-fashioned way using pen or pencil is another awkward endeavor. To do this without smearing the paper is a true accomplishment. When someone crosses their body with their left hand to turn on the cold-water faucet, you know they are southpaws. Our society makes things for the majority and the majority of people in the world are right-hand dominant.

                Since only about 10 percent of the world’s population is left-handed, you might wonder why we need an International Left-Handers Day. It’s a day to make the other 90 percent aware of the frustrations the other 10 percent face everyday to perform routine tasks. By drawing attention to these inconveniences, hopefully manufacturers will design things for left-handers too. Some companies already have seen the need and are making things specifically for left-hand use. There are several websites where these items can be purchased. If you have a friend, co-worker, or relative that is a lefty, a gift from one of these sites would be an excellent purchase and one you know the recipient will gratefully use.

                When you look at all the items designed for left-handers, if you are right-handed you will realize how frustrating life can be at times for southpaws. There are measuring cups (with the measurements visible when holding it with the left hand), coffee mugs (the design can be seen when holding it in the left hand), manual can openers (needed on camping trips and when the electricity is out), corkscrews (must have for wine drinkers), scissors (every day use),  vegetable peelers, and knives of all sizes and variety of uses. For the little lefty who is just learning to use a fork and spoon, you can get a set specifically designed for them. For left-handed school (including college) age children, you can find a vast assortment of notebooks, scissors, pens, rulers, and a manual pencil sharper (rotates counter-clockwise). There are books for left-handers to learn guitar chords, stitchery, and golf. The technology world has stepped up to the plate and designed a left-handed mouse and keyboard.

                                Southpaws are found in every occupation; politicians, actors, singers, business magnets, and sports. Do you recognize the names Bill Gates, Ronald Reagan, Judy Garland, Tom Cruise, George H. W. Bush, Paul McCartney, Barack Obama, Dorothy Hamill, Whoopie Goldberg, Lisa Kudrow, Mark Spitz, Oprah Winfrey, Luke Perry, Time Allen, Caroline Kennedy, Carol Burnett, Goldie Hawn, and Angelina Jolie? All of them are left-hand dominant (and this is a short list).  Not a bad group of people to have something in common with if you are left-handed.

                On August 13, if you are right-handed why not try doing the things mentioned in the first paragraph with your left hand. It would be a fun exercise and a way to learn how the other side of the brain works!

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Waterfalls-Above and Below

            Who doesn’t love to look at and listen to a waterfall. They are created when rivers plunge over the edges of cliffs crashing to the ground below. No two waterfalls are exactly alike; they vary in length, width, and power. People become mesmerized when viewing Angel Falls in Venezuela, Victoria Falls in Africa, and Niagara Falls in the United States and Canada.

Angel Falls is the world’s highest uninterrupted waterfall. It plunges 3,212 feet (three times the height of the Eiffel Tower) into the Devil’s Canyon. It is so well hidden in the jungle it was not discovered until the mid-1950s. Traveling to Venezuela to see Angel Falls should only be attempted by the adventurous. Visitors are required to have proof they have gotten a vaccination for yellow fever. It is best to go between December and April. The Falls is located in the Canaima National Park which can only be reached by plane. Excursions to the Falls leave from the park where lodging is located also.

Victoria Falls is known for producing the largest single sheet of flowing water in the world. It is 5,604 feet wide and 354 feet high. Because of the thundering sound from the Falls and the heavy mist, it was given the name “the Smoke that Thunders” by the original inhabitants of the area. The best time to visit the Falls is between June and July.

Niagara Falls can be seen from the United States and Canada. Viewing is free and the Falls are easily accessible from Niagara City in the United States and Niagara City in Canada. The cities seem to be built around the Falls. The Niagara River flows into three separate Falls that people refer to as Niagara Falls. The Horseshoe Falls is on the border of the two countries and is the most powerful waterfall in North America. The American Falls and the Bridal Veil Falls are located in the United States. The combined flow rate for the three Falls forms the highest flow rate of any waterfall in North America that has a vertical drop of more than 160 feet.

Waterfalls that we are privileged to view and hear are located above the earth. Recently scientific equipment has discovered there are also powerful waterfalls located under the oceans; these cannot be viewed, at least not at this time.

            Separating Iceland and Greenland is the Denmark Strait. Scientists have discovered a powerful waterfall located under the strait. It is the world’s highest underwater fall (11,500 feet). Scientists estimate it has a flow rate exceeding 175 million cubic feet per second. That’s a lot of power! It is 100 miles wide. The water temperature on the eastern side of the strait is always much colder than on the western side. When the two temperatures meet, the colder water moves under the warmer and creates a downward flow moving over a huge drop in the ocean floor. Because it is located 2,000 feet under the strait’s surface and plunges to a depth of 10,000 feet (nearly a two-mile drop) it is not detected from the water surface.

            Scientists are continually discovering things people never thought existed. Maybe there are waterfalls on other planets!

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Tea for Two

Today, all over the world people drink tea. Tea is grown in 34 countries in Asia, Africa, South America, and at one commercial tea plantation in North America. Half of the tea production in the world comes from India. The three basic teas, (green, black, and oolong) come from the Camellia Sinensis plant. It is the oxidation time and processing steps that differentiate one tea from the others. The type of soil, geographical location, and other plants growing near the tea bush are all factors that determine the taste of the tea. So, all green, black, and oolong teas do not taste the same. Tea has less caffeine than coffee; but, just like coffee, you want to drink it in moderation. Store tea in an airtight container and place it in a cool, dry, dark place away from coffee and spices that can change the original flavor of the tea. It can be served hot or iced, loose or in tea bags.

Iced tea originated in the United States. In 1904 at the St. Louis World’s Fair on an extremely hot day a tea merchant could not get anyone to try his hot tea. People were looking for a cool, refreshing drink on such a warm day. The vendor added ice to the tea and his sales sored! The United States is the only country where iced tea is popular today. In fact, 85 percent of the tea served in the United States is iced tea and can keep for up to one and a half days.

Tea bags were another spontaneous American contribution to the tea industry. In the early twentieth century a tea merchant put samples of tea in small gauze bags. He intended for his customers to take the loose tea out of the bags and make their tea as usual. Instead, they put the gauze bags down into their tea pots. The tea bag was invented! It was not until the 1970s that tea bags became popular in the United Kingdom.

Green tea requires no fermentation time. The leaves are picked, broken, and then fired in an oven. The finished product is greenish in color and has a delicate taste. Many people give green tea credit for improved health concerns. Some say it has lowered their blood pressure, improved their cholesterol, lowered their risk of cardiovascular disease, and lowered their risk of getting type 2 diabetes. Others feel it may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disorders. Because of the powerful antioxidants in green tea, it might prevent certain cancers. Green tea may inhibit the growth of bacteria and some viruses. This can lower the risk of infection and lower the chance of getting cavities and bad breath.

To make black tea the leaves need to be fully oxidized before they go through the heat process and the drying process. The shelf life of black tea is up to two years if it is stored correctly. Like green tea, black tea has possible health benefits. Blood sugar, cholesterol, and high blood pressure might be lowered. Gut health, immune system health and the reduced risk of heart disease, cancer, and stroke are possible benefits of drinking black tea. To improve brain-focus and alertness, black tea is recommended.

Oolong tea is a semi-fermented tea. It is a lighter color than black tea and has a fragrant, fruity flavor.  Some possible health benefits are: It can help boost metabolism, help with type 2 diabetes, help lower high cholesterol, reduce the risk of cancer, and help to improve heart, brain, bone, and dental health. Oolong tea helps with inflammatory disorders and can improve skin.

Although the word tea appears in the names of herbal teas, scientifically herbal teas are not teas. These drinks are made from a variety of different plants with different nutritional values. Some of these are chamomile, peppermint, orange, etc.

The next time a friend stops by, think about serving tea for two!
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Solve One Problem and Create Another

            Wind turbines produce energy without polluting the environment. While driving on a flat piece of road in many states in the USA, wind farms can be seen for miles. The United States Department of Energy (DOE) has set a goal that by 2030, wind energy sources will produce 20 percent of the electricity needed in the United States. The goal also is to have wind energy facilities in almost every state (including Alaska and Hawaii). Currently there are approximately 50,000 wind turbines in operation in the USA which provide about 8 percent of the country’s energy-generated usage. The production of clean energy is sorely needed and welcomed, but with the solving of one problem another problem is sometime created. The good thing is the problem has been recognized and research is happening to find a solution.

With the use of wind turbines increasing, bird fatalities are increasing also. Experiments are being conducted to minimize them. One study that researched turbine lighting found no difference in the number of fatalities if the turbine was lit or unlit. The conclusion is that light has nothing to do with the fatalities. One down. The height of the turbines is also being studied. Raptors and some land birds that fly during the day hours, do so at a much lower altitude than previously thought. Thus, birds colliding with the blades. Newer turbines are taller in height than their predecessors. The blades are now in the “flight zone” of nocturnal migrating birds. Low turbines cause fatalities in the day hours; tall turbines cause fatalities at night. What is the answer? With continuing research, hopefully, the problem will be solved.

Another concern is the impact the turbines have on the bird’s habitat which it depends on for survival. Birds search for food in open habitats while in a soaring flight. When soaring, birds cannot maneuver well and are unable to avoid collision with the turbine’s blades. Before this problem was identified, turbines were located in open areas. Studies to identify bird habitats are being done to avoid siting turbines in their areas.

            Wind turbines are also the enemy of bats. Bat fatalities are caused when the bat collides with the blades. Barotrauma involves tissue damage to air-containing structures (like lungs) caused by rapid or excessive pressure change. Near the edges of the blades, air pressure changes. This has been attributed as a cause for some of the fatalities. Research has found that many bat species can be spared if the blades are prevented from spinning in low-wind conditions. Another research group is working on using an ultrasonic acoustic deterrent. They hope it will cause bats to avoid this loud sound that the bats can hear, but humans cannot. The sound would be emitted from the turbine.

As the turbine industry continues to learn more about how birds move across the landscape, may they be successful in designing and placing turbines so we can have an abundance of clean energy and our loved flying creatures (birds and bats) can be safe.

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I Want To Do What He Did

            Life is full of lots of firsts; first man on the moon, and first man to reach the summit of Mount Everest!

            To reach the summit of Mount Everest and make a successful descent takes unimaginable stamina. That is what New Zealand born Edmund Hillary had. He was born in the town of Auckland on July 20, 1919.  He married twice. His first wife and a daughter were killed in a plane crash in 1975. With his first wife he also had a son and another daughter. He married again in 1989. He died at the age of 88 on January 11, 2008, in the city where he was born.

            When Hillary was 16 years of age, he went on a school trip to the mountains. Although he lacked coordination, he topped his peers when it came to endurance. While in college at age 20, he challenged himself by climbing to the top of Mount Ollivier located near the Southern Alps. Over the years, he continued to test his endurance by doing many high-altitude expeditions. One such climb was on January 30, 1948, when he reached the top of the highest peak in New Zealand.

            In 1953 Hillary took on the endurance test of his life; he would attempt to reach the summit of the highest mountain in the world, Mount Everest. To reach its peak is an accomplishment many people before 1953 attempted unsuccessfully. The mountain is 29,035 feet high and the rocky summit is covered with deep snow the entire year. The winds can reach 200 mph and the temperature can be minus 80F. Because the body needs to adjust to the high altitudes, the climb cannot be rushed. A normal climb takes 40 days. To support their families, there are locals called Sherpas who carry tents, food, and other necessities to the high camps. Climbers can select one of 18 routes; some begin in Nepal and others begin in Tibet. Climbs are only attempted between May and November; this is referred to as the summit window. It is during this time that the winds are calmer and temperatures are warmer. To survive the bitter cold temperatures, climbers wear thick, puffy suits filled with goose feathers. To get a firm grip in the snow and ice, they wear spikes on their boots. To prevent falls, each climber must carry an ice axe and climbers are connected by thin nylon ropes. The air is so thin, the majority of climbers use bottled oxygen on the climb. The meals consist mainly of rice and noodles. Climbers will burn over 10,000 calories a day and lose 10 to 20 pounds on the expedition.

            Since May 29, 1953, when Edmund Hillary and his Sherpa Tenzing were the first to reach the mountain’s summit, others have been successful. Over the years, better gear and weather forecasting have contributed to successful climbs. Today, 68 percent of all expeditions have at least one climber make it to the summit. Even though there are many success stories, deaths due to exposure to the elements, altitude sickness, falls, and avalanches have occurred. Even with the best equipment and weather reports, unforeseen occurrences happen.

            Being the first to reach the summit of Mount Everest only made Hillary continue to challenge himself. In 1958 he reached the South Pole. In 1985 he reached the North Pole. This earned him the distinction of being the first man to reach the top of Mount Everest and both poles. This first by Hillary, opened up a new challenge for adventurers from all over the world; it is called the Three Poles Challenge.

Sir Hillary earned a place in history for establishing many firsts; each one started a following of others who want to do what he did!

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Caught on Camera—-NOT!

                Do you have your StickerTalk camera dots? Better yet, are you using your StickerTalk camera dots? The most effective way to prevent someone from using malware to take over your webcam is to cover the lens. That’s it; cover the lens! The inexpensive camera dots need to be on laptops, tablets, cell phones, and televisions (any electronic device that has a webcam).

                I use them and today I found out they are worth a million dollars for the peace of mind they give me. I received an email that said I had been recorded using my webcam and it would be sent to all the names in my address book. If I didn’t want this to happen, I needed to send money. I was able to just laugh because I knew they could not have made a video of me from any of my electronic devices because I have StickerTalk camera dots covering every lens. The laugh was on them!

                One of the morning shows had a “good” hacker demonstrate how easily he could record videos and take pictures from one of the host’s phone. The host was mind boggled to say the least when the realization hit that the phone’s webcam had been breached so quickly and easily. Illegal hackers are doing this all day long and, unfortunately, making lots of money because of their scare tactics.

                I had to be educated about the importance of camera dots (I am over 29), but once I realized their benefit I gave them to my family, friends, the staff at my doctor and dentists’ office, the people I worship with, and young teens and college students (who realized the importance without me explaining it). I did have to explain the purpose of the dots to people who really do not understand terms like data breaching, phishing scams, ransomware, remote access, malware, etc. They use their webcam often to communicate with family and friends and never thought about the camera being used to spy on them.

                Because camera dots do not stop someone from hacking into your electronic devices, make sure you have a good security suite software on your laptop. The suite needs to include antivirus, anti-spyware, and firewall software. Be sure to keep the software updated.

                Here are some other security prevention tips you should do: If your webcam is external, unplug it when you are not using it. Go to your webcam settings and enable notification so you will know when your webcam is in use. Do not click on attachments or links in emails, text messages, or social media that you do not recognize. If you use a wireless network, be sure you changed the default password that came with the router. When you go to cafes, hotels, airports and other places that offer free unsecured public Wi-Fi hotspots, resist the urge to use them. Hackers can easily get access to your electronic devices through unsecure sites.

                If you don’t want to get caught on camera unexpectedly, use camera dots!

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Escape Between The Pages

Books provide entertainment, information, and emotional escape. Today they can be found everywhere in various formats. Before the 1800s, books were available to the educated and the wealthy who had small libraries in their homes. Private book clubs called subscription or membership libraries were popular with the wealthy. They were funded by membership fees or donations. Books could be borrowed freely by members; nonmembers had to put up collateral to borrow a book.

Today people can read a book on electronic media or printed on paper with either a soft or hard cover to bind it into a book format. The readers who select the old-fashioned way love the feel of holding a book. They love the smell of the paper. They love the maps, diagrams, and pictures many books contain. They love when a book has a list of characters showing the lineage of a family. They love being able to decide what they will do with the book when they finish reading it; do they want to keep it, trade it, or sell it? They can also donate them to a thrift store, senior citizen center, or nursing home so others can enjoy them. Electronic books are the choice for most young people, but the not so young have discovered this modern access to books user-friendly. Selections are as numerous as in a brick-and-mortar store. Best sellers are usually downloaded for a fee, but older books along with some new releases are available free. For those who would rather have a book read to them, books-on-tape can be purchased or rented.

Avid readers love to visit a bookstore just for the warm fuzzy feeling they get when surrounded by books. For others though, walking into a bookstore can be overwhelming. Before them are continuous rows of never-ending books. No worries; the bookstore is set up with the customer in mind. There are tables suggesting books to read at the beach or on a cruise (they are light reading and romance novels). Travel books on almost any country featuring exotic places to venture to in pursuit of warmer or cooler temperatures are grouped together. Cookbooks full of quick and easy dishes, backyard BBQ recipes, and entertainment ideas are strategically displayed usually by the bookstore café. The novice gardener can find books full of tips on when, where, and what to plant. Gardeners or want-to-be gardeners can find information on organic vegetable gardens and organic pest control. The same goes for those who are interested in planting a flower garden. For animal lovers, there is a book about their favorite that covers everything they need to know from A to Z. Sports enthusiasts will find an abundance of books covering famous people in their sport, the history of the sport, how to play the sport, the rules of the sport, etc. History lovers can find books on the time period that holds their interest. Whatever the topic, a bookstore will have it covered!

Let’s not forget about the public library. This is a great way to read a book for free! Be prepared though to add your name to a waiting list for that just released best seller. This is a great option if you have patience and will power. Then, you can spend the money you saved by not buying the book on your favorite things to snack on while you’re reading.

Get lost in the characters of the latest best seller, and leave your worries behind!

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Charleston Tea Plantation

Charleston, South Carolina, welcomes thousands of visitors every year. The City Market, plantations, and the riverfront are popular tourist attractions. If you are looking for a one-of-a-kind unique experience in North America though, take time to visit the Charleston Tea Plantation located on Wadmalaw Island. It is a short scenic drive from the busy city.

If you are fortunate enough to visit the plantation in April or May at the time of the First Flush (the first cutting done after the plants have awakened from being dormant), you will have the opportunity to taste a tea with a unique flavor. This tea is only available once each growing season.

For a small fee, you can take a trolley ride around the plantation providing you an up-close view of the tea bushes and the history of the plantation. The trolley is available January through December, but only during the harvesting months, April through October, will you see the “green giant” and the workers busy in the fields. The “green giant” is a blend between a cotton picker and a tobacco harvester and is the only one of its kind in existence. The “green giant” cuts off the tops of the bushes and collects the leaves, doing the job of 500 laborers. The plantation prides itself in not using pesticides or any chemicals.

Inside walking tours of the processing plant are available throughout the year. If you visit during the harvesting months, you can see the leaves going through the processing steps.  The first step in processing the leaves is placing them on the withering bed.  Then, they are put through the Rotor-Vane where the leaves are torn into tiny pieces and crushed. Fermentation, also referred to as oxidation, is the third step for making black tea. After 50 minutes this step is complete. Green tea is not fermented. After oxidation, the leaves fall from the bed to a moving belt where they go into a 250-degree oven for 20 minutes. After drying, the shriveled leaves pass across various size screens where they are sifted to ensure all stalks and fibers are removed. To remove the tiniest impurities, the leaves pass under static electricity rollers.

The plant nursery is open year-round to visitors. Here new 5-inch plants, created from existing bushes on the plantation, are treated with tender loving care. It takes five years for each plant to reach maturity. Once mature, each bush will be productive for hundreds of years.

Hot and cold tea are available in the gift shop for sampling. There are several flavors available and you will want to taste them all before deciding the ones you want to take home to enjoy with friends. The American Classic, which can still be purchased today, was the original tea produced on the plantation. It was the first tea ever to be made with 100 percent tea grown in America. It can be said with confidence, “this tea is American made.”

So, on your next trip to Charleston, take time to taste the tea, Charleston Plantation Tea that is!

Tea A Brief History and More by David Bigelow

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How Will My Garden Grow?

Decisions, decisions, decisions so many decisions to make about having a veggie garden. What will I plant? Where will I plant? What do I need to prepare before planting? If you are a beginning gardener, these are questions you need the answers to before you get your hands dirty.

The first step is to do some important research. Purchase a book for beginning vegetable gardeners. Or, save your money (spend it on plants) and look on the internet. You need to find the zone you live in so you can see what grows in your area, when you need to plant it, how much sun it needs each day, how much water it needs and when, and what you need to do to prepare the soil for your selections. Plants vary in the ground nutrients they need to be productive. You treat them right and they will give back.

You have done your research and are ready to get started planting, but wait; you need to make one more decision. Are you going to plant directly in the ground, make some raised beds for your plants, or use containers? The amount of ground and where it is located will help you with this decision. If you do a ground garden think about how much sun will the area get during the growing season and be sure it is close to a watering source. Raised beds can be built on a wheel base so you can move the beds in or out of the sun as needed. Containers can also be placed on a wheel base for easy moving. An advantage of a raised bed is you can build it to a comfortable height for you personally so you do not have to bend over and end up with an aching back. If you decide on a raised bed or containers, be sure they have drainage holes in the bottom. Line them with small rocks to retain some of the water though. 

Here is one of the best uses for white vinegar; put it in your garden as an insect deuterate and a weed killer. Insects are turned off by the odor and weeds just do not like it. Yet, your plants will thrive! (Use vinegar in your flower garden too.)

Something else you have around your home that you can use to keep your plants healthy is eggshells. Bugs, especially slugs and snails, hate eggshells. The ragged edges keep them away as they are afraid to climb over them. Wash and let the eggshells air dry thoroughly. Then, break them up and place them around the plant. Think of them as a protective wall keeping the unwanted invaders away from the valuable treasure. (Use them in your flower garden too.) Your plants will get nutrients from the eggshells to keep them healthy. The eggshells will decompose so you will need to keep replacing them.

If you like to help the environment, there are two things you can do when gardening. First, get a covered container to collect rain water in to use for watering. You can buy rain barrels at a local home improvement store or garden center. You can also look on the internet and make your own. Second, you can make your own organic compost which will be full of good things your plants will love. Composting is a great way to recycle table scraps.

So, if you spend time caring for your garden, how will your garden grow—healthy, healthy, healthy!

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Flying Pigs?

In the United States there is a FLYING PIG MARATHON that has been run in Cincinnati, Ohio, since 1997. In the 1800’s Cincinnati had the nickname “Porkopolis” because of the meat packing industry and all the stockyards there. During this time, pigs could be seen running through the downtown Cincinnati streets to the stockyards. In the 1980’s, sculptures of various animals started popping up in cities across the United States. Tampa, Florida, has turtles; Whitefish, Montana, has moose; Beaufort, South Carolina, has shrimp; Smithfield, Virginia, has pigs; and Cincinnati, Ohio, has FLYING pigs. These sculptures were the inspiration for the name of the marathon.

Where did the saying “when pigs fly” come from and what does it mean exactly?  It is not known for sure where or when the saying originated. Many give credit to Germany and others to Scotland. Why pigs? Well, think about it. Take a minute and envision a pig. Pigs instinctively root in the earth, a habit that cannot be broken. This is a sure indication pigs belong on the ground not in the air. Now, put a pair of wings on the pig. Will those wings be able to get a bulky, 600-pound pig in the air? Even if the wings are enormous, they will not keep a pig in the air flying over roof tops. It is definitely an impossibility. Today, “when pigs fly” is a saying used mainly in the United States. It is a humorous way to say something is never going to happen (it is impossible). In the United Kingdom the saying is “when pigs might fly” or “when pigs may fly.” Whichever phrase is used, it means the same thing; it’s an exaggerated comparison suggesting something is completely impossible. In Romania they say, “when the pig shall fly” and in Finland the expression “when cows fly” is used. The most common expression in French to say something is physically impossible is “when hens will have teeth.”

The saying, “when pigs fly” appears in books and movies. Lots of children’s books have the phrase as their title. There is a “when pigs fly” board game and a flying pig game app. “When Pigs Fly” is even the title of a song. Flying pigs decorate various jewelry pieces such as a necklace, ring, brooch, and bracelet. People love to collect flying pigs and they can be found in all sizes, colors, and materials. Flying pig signs decorate the walls of houses, offices, eateries, and shops. They can be seen in yards, on coworker’s desks, in every room of the house, in restaurants, and on bumper stickers. Flying pigs decorate baby clothes. Men can buy novelty neckties with winged pigs on them. Women can dress in various styles of clothing decorated with flying pigs. Flying pig fabric can be purchased so anything that can be made out of fabric can be made with flying pigs on it (cushions, quilts, stuffed animals).

Look around and you might see a flying pigs!
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Is it Football or is it Soccer

During WWI, as the story goes, on Christmas Eve 1915 there was a temporary truce between English troops and German troops. Out of nowhere a football (soccer ball is the term used in the USA and will be used in this blog) appeared and these two countries put their political views aside and played soccer! What an example of European’s love for the game!

                Today, soccer is played and watched all over the world. Some people claim it is the most popular sport in the world. This thought can be reasoned by the fact that the 2018 Men’s World Cup was watched by 4 billion people around the world (this is about half the population of the world). Soccer has a following of loyal fans who feel pride for their country and passion for the sport. True soccer fans spend hours collecting and trading World Cup stickers and cards. They will spend hours leisurely looking at them and searching the internet for ones they want to add to their collection.

                Soccer is an easy sports game to understand. The game has two 45-minute halves making each game 90 minutes of playing time. The objective is to get the soccer ball into the opponent’s goal as often as possible in that period of time. With each goal made the team earns one point. Players are not allowed to use their hands; they must kick or head the ball into the opponent’s goal without moving the ball consecutively themselves. There are 11 players per team and, as in all sports, various positions (goalkeeper, defenders, midfielders, and forwards). Learning the basic terms like offsides, corners, penalties, and yellow and red cards will make watching the game more enjoyable.

The (FIFA) Federation International de Football Association sponsors grants and programs to provide its affiliates financial and logistical support. The FIFA has the responsibility for organizing the major international soccer tournaments which include the Women’s World Cup and the Men’s World Cup. Because of the large number of qualification matches, they are held every four years.

Eyes around the world are currently watching the 2019 Women’s World Cup. They are anxious to see which country will be the best in the world. The next FIFA Women’s World Cup will be held in 2023. The host country has not been selected yet. Some countries that have submitted bids are: Australia, Brazil, Colombia, Japan, New Zealand, South Africa, and South Korea.

                The first FIFA Men’s World Cup to be held in three countries will be in 2026. The continental United States, Canada, and Mexico have been selected to host the event. Sixty games will be held in the United States. The cities selected are: Los Angeles, San Francisco Bay Area, New York City, Kansas City, Denver, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Nashville, Boston, Cincinnati, Miami, Orlando and Seattle. The 10 games Canada will host will be held in Edmonton, Montreal and Toronto. Mexico will host 10 games in three cities: Monterrey, Guadalajara and Mexico City.

                In the United States, the year 2026 might see parties for the Men’s World Cup Soccer games as popular as Super Bowl parties are now.

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Canada Day

July 1 is Canada Day.

            On July 1, 1867, the United States northern neighbor, Canada, remembers the day when the British North America Act stated that Canada would become an independent dominion of England. The Act combined the provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and the Canada province (which eventually was split into Ontario and Quebec) into one country. From 1879 to 1981, the event was called Dominion Day (some called it Confederation Day). In 1982 the name was changed to Canada Day.

            Canada has a federal Holidays Act which states that if Canada Day, July 1, falls on a Sunday, it will be observed on July 2. This leaves Sunday as a religious day.

            On July 1 each year, Canadians (if they live in Canada or not) express personal pride for their country. It is a day Canadians celebrate their nation’s history, culture, and achievements. If they are fortunate to be in Canada on that day, every community will have one or more ways to celebrate. Communities have parades, carnivals, festivals, barbecues, air shows, boat shows, fireworks, and musical concerts. Like all celebrations, there will be a large selection of food and drink; there will be something to satisfy everyone’s taste buds. Since Canada supplies about 80 percent of the world with maple syrup, people can find “something maple” in a variety of dishes. Maple syrup candy is a “purchase must.” The maple leaf, which is on the Canadian flag, is associated with Canada by people in countries over the world. On Canada Day people will find a large range of items with the maple leaf on them to purchase. Canadians living in Hong Kong, Mexico, China, and even the Canadian forces in Afghanistan gather together to celebrate their Canadian patriotism.

            This is one day Canadians proudly wear their countries colors of red and white; there will be a lot of red and white plaid and flannel. Children, and some adults, will cover their face with white face paint and strategically place a red maple leaf (sizes vary) somewhere on their face. Many will have temporary maple leaf tattoos on their arms and ankles.

            Since fireworks are illegal except on certain holidays, firework programs are an anxiously anticipated part of Canada Day activities. For safety reasons, it is encouraged people who want to see fireworks attend one of the many community displays. Individuals wanting to set off their own fireworks must abide by the regulations for their province and city. A number of types of fireworks are illegal (Roman candles, star wheels, cherry bombs) and in certain areas fireworks cannot be set off.

            Canada Day will be celebrated on Monday, July 1, 2019. It might be fun to celebrate Canada Day and then travel across the border to one of the northern states in the USA and celebrate Independence Day on Thursday, July 4. People can just add some blue to their Canada Day outfit of red and white. Why not make it a patriotic week! facts-about-canada-day-a-holiday-of-national-pride-for-canadians/

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World Sea Turtle Day

There seems to be a day for almost everything and the magnificent sea turtle has not been forgotten. June 16th is World Sea Turtle Day. Sea turtles are air-breathing reptiles which means they have to come to the surface of the water periodically. There are seven species and all are endangered.

Sea turtles are found in tropical or subtropical ocean waters all over the world. The only ocean where you won’t find them is the polar regions. Most of a sea turtle’s life is spent swimming in the oceans. Dozens of countries have the unique privilege of having their beaches used as the place the sea turtle will lay between 50 and 200 eggs. A unique thing about sea turtles is the sand determines the gender of the egg. If the temperature of the sand is cool, more males are hatched; if the temperature of the sand is warm, more females are hatched. The eggs incubate for approximately 60 days. It is very important that the eggs are not disturbed during this time. When the eggs hatch, hundreds of baby turtles race towards the ocean. Unfortunately, for many their life is cut short; they are eaten by various predators; crabs and gulls are just two of their enemies. Sea turtles serve a useful purpose, they help control the population of jellyfish, sponges, and other sea creatures.

The Leatherback is the largest of the seven. It is between 4 and 8 feet long and weighs somewhere in the range of 500 to 2,000 pounds. Leatherbacks eat jellyfish exclusively.

The Green sea turtle is right behind the Leatherback in size. It is about 4 feet long and weighs up to 500 pounds. Green sea turtles eat only plants. They act like a lawn mower keeping sea grass short so it remains healthy. The Green sea turtle is the only one of the seven that basks in the sun. It likes the shores of the Northwestern Hawaiian Island chain, the Galapagos Islands, and Australia.

The Loggerhead sea turtle can reach 4 feet in length and weigh around 400 pounds. It lives in the Pacific, Indian, and the Atlantic Oceans. From a human’s viewpoint, these sea turtles have an expensive appetite; they mainly eat crustaceans like lobster and crab. Loggerheads can be spotted from both coasts of the United States, but (in the USA) they only nest on the Atlantic beaches of Florida.

The Flatback turtle can weigh 200 pounds and reach 3 feet in length. It breeds and nests only in Australia. It lives in the tropical coastal waters of Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, and Australia. It feeds on soft corals, shrimp, crabs, and seaweed.

The Hawksbill sea turtle weighs up to 100 pounds and can get up to three feet in length. It loves to eat sponges (natural ones that live in the water). Look for them in coral reefs, rocky areas, lagoons, mangroves, oceanic islands and shallow coastal areas of the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans.

The Olive Ridley sea turtle is the second smallest. It weighs up to 100 pounds and 2.5 feet long. Although it is small, it has a big appetite; it likes variety (crabs, shrimp, lobster, etc.). It lives mainly in the tropical waters of the three oceans.

The Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle is the smallest of the seven. It is about 2 feet long and weighs about 100 pounds. Its favorite food is crab. It lives in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean as far north as Nova Scotia. It primarily nests in Tamaulipas, Mexico.

We hear about swimming with the dolphins; how abut swimming with sea turtles!

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How High Will It Go

Twirling has been around forever. Once upon a time, although It isn’t documented, somewhere a long time ago someone put something between their fingers and spun it around, tossed it in the air, and caught it; twirling was invented! Today, people twirl batons (some lighted and some with fire), spin knives, fire knives, rifles, flags, and maces (a type of club made of wood or metal).  Some of these are not for the faint-hearted.

Originally, very few women were twirlers. WWII opened the way for females and they quickly outnumbered men in this sport. As men joined the military, women took their place and they remain the dominate gender in twirling today. In recent years, more males are discovering the physical power and skill needed to be a competitive twirler. They are returning to this demanding sport bringing their own style with them.

Twirling is a sport that is a combination of several other sports. Along with mastering twirling skills, twirlers must learn how to march and do basic gymnastic and dance moves. Just like all sport competitors, twirlers put in long hours learning and refining their skills. They have to look graceful while doing something that is physically demanding to their body. Like skaters have to keep moving on the ice, twirlers have to keep what they are twirling constantly moving.  Gymnasts do cartwheels, backflips, splits, and illusions. Twirlers do these moves while keeping what they are twirling in motion. Skaters, gymnasts, and twirlers incorporate dance moves into their routines and have to be able to interpret music so the music and moves flow together. They make it look easy, but it isn’t.  

When it’s time for the competition, parade, or other event, twirlers perform in glittering costumes, simple outfits consisting of shorts or long pants and a top, or something in-between.  One constant is a continuous smile. Very few see the bruises, burns, cuts, blistered feet, and bleeding nails. Sore muscles are a norm and broken bones do happen. Like all athletes, the love of the sport makes enduring these things worthwhile.

The United States Twirling Association (USTA) and the National Baton Twirling Association (NBTA) sponsor twirling competitions. The World Baton Twirling Federation (WBTF) governs the sport on an International level. Competition categories include solo, pairs, and teams. Twirling is ahead of other sports as far as recognizing genders to be equal in sporting competition.  Males and females compete separately in solo (one baton). In two and three baton events they compete against each other. Judges score competitors on difficulty, variety of tricks, technique, gracefulness, showmanship, and routine flow. Participating in competitions provides an opportunity to make lasting friendships with other twirlers from all over the world. An added bonus is the possibility for traveling is endless.

Colleges and universities recognize the value this sport has to their institute and offer twirling scholarships. The website provides a list of colleges and additional information on scholarships. The website also gives the names of twirling organizations in numerous countries.

Twirling is a physically demanding sport done in countries all over the world, yet it is not an Olympic sport. Many who love to watch twirling would like to see it as an Olympic event. Maybe it will be in the future.
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All First Time Parents Feel the Same Way

The fun has just begun for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. On May 6, 2019, a baby boy was born to Meghan and Harry. They might be English royalty, but today they are experiencing the same emotions as all first-time parents. Immediately after giving birth, Meghan might have felt overjoyed with happiness, exhausted, and drained. How might Harry have felt? He expressed to the news media he, “was over the moon!”

May 6 begins the “bonding” of these three who are connected for life. Bonding (forming a deep connection) is pleasurable for infant and parents. Meghan, like many mothers, might feel she and her son started bonding while he was in the womb. With each kick, hiccup, and summersault, mother and son grew closer. Once Meghan and Harry held their newborn son for the first time, the emotion of love must have intensified. The physical acts of cradling and gently stroking their son will promote an emotional attachment. Infants, children, teens, and adults thrive on feeling unconditional love. A newborn is never spoiled by being held.

What might the first week Meghan and Harry bring their son home be like? Their life might be hectic at times, their daily plans changed within minutes, and they might yearn for eight or more hours of uninterrupted sleep. It is important that the three of them take time each day to bond. This is a special time for them to relax and hold each other and grow closer.

Their daily routine might consist of:  changing diapers 10 or more times a day, feeding their son every 2 or 3 hours and burping him (over time they will know how often they need to burp him and what position is best), and letting him listen to music, singing, and talking. While he is asleep, they will check on him often to ensure he is still breathing. Even though hiccups are normal and cause no discomfort to a baby, Meghan and Harry will probably hold their son to let him know they are there to protect him. All babies cry, sometimes they have a reason and sometimes the parents cannot figure out why. It’s those times Harry and Meghan might feel helpless and frustrated. It won’t take them long though to learn what soothes him. One reason a newborn will cry is overstimulation caused by too much commotion or activity. With all the visitors the first week, it will be important for Harry and Meghan to remember this and keep visitors to a minimum. When it comes to visitors, they might feel it in the best interest of their son to tactfully remind visitors to wash their hands before touching their little bundle of joy. Newborns have a weak immune system and are susceptible to infection.

Each day Meghan and Harry will be excited, proud, and anxious to see what new experiences this little person will bring them. By the end of the first week, their confidence with handling the daily needs of this love of their life will have grown.

Welcome little one from everyone at StickerTalk.
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Gardening is Good for the Soul

Everyone at some time feels stressed to the max and everyone has their own way of dealing with it. One of the best stress releasers is gardening. We all know the saying, “bigger is better,” but when it comes to a therapeutic garden, size does not matter. What is important is the time you spend working in it and enjoying it. At times we feel we have no control over our life. Sowing, weeding, raking, and trimming will give you a feeling of control, control over your garden. Gardening will become a satisfying experience.

Interacting with nature, brings a healing affect; it gives you physical and mental well-being. Some have the time and yard space to maintain an English garden with paths and lots of texture, fragrance, color, shape, sound, and possibly taste. Others with limited time and space find pleasure with maintaining containers or raised beds. They provide the same relaxing pleasure of texture, fragrance, color, shape, sound, and possibly taste found in spacious gardens, but on a much smaller scale.

Spend time moving the dirt around in your garden or container. Take those gardening gloves off and feel the earth between your fingers. Think about the texture, what is mixed in with the dirt like small rocks or an earthworm. Look for a hidden treasure as you sift through it; you might find an old button, a penny, a lollypop stick, or even a lost gold chain from years past.

Put your nose down into the center of the flower and take a deep, long breath. Take in the fragrance of each flower. Think about how different each flower smells; some have a sweet scent and others give off a musky fragrance. You need only to stand close to some flowers and their scent is so strong you can smell them from a distance. Others, you will get as close as you can to them, but because their scent is so faint there is hardly any frangrance.

Study the variety of colors. Yellow is not one yellow. Red is not one red. Notice how they vary in shade? There is pale yellow that seems almost white. There is bright yellow like the sun. There is lemon yellow, banana yellow, pear yellow, etc. Red goes from a deep almost black red to a light pinkish-red. There is bright red like a golden delicious apple. All colors have a multitude of shades. Look for them. Look at how they blend with each other and other colors.

Studying the leaves is also calming. Count the numerous colors of green. Look for the leaves with yellow or brown on them. Some might be spotted because of disease. When you discover new growth, rejoice knowing life is continuing.

Look at the pedals on the flowers. You will find some that form a tubular flower, some are spread wide exposing the seeds that will eventually drop to make new plants, others are wavy almost looking like lace, and still others fold over each other forming a tight ball.

Gently break a leaf off and listen to the sound; did it snap? Rub your finger nail across the leaf; did it sound rough?

Some flowers are edible. If you have some in your garden, taste them. Think about the flavor they leave in your mouth.

Find pleasure in your garden. Let it bring you calmness and peace.

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Gone Fishing

Bass fishing has become a multibillion-dollar industry. Professional fishermen are no different than other sports professionals; they are constantly looking for the best gear they can afford. Just like there are numerous tennis rackets and golf clubs to choose from, there is a large selection of rods, lures, reels, lines, and electronic depth and fish-finding instruments. Bass fishermen invest as much as possible in the type of boat they purchase to throw their line over. The industry sells specific boats designed exclusively for bass fishing. If that is too big of a ticket item, many will purchase a kayak with a trolling motor. Kayaks allow the fishermen to fish in places large boats cannot access.  Drift boats, canoes, and John boats are also used.

There are different types of bass, but it is the black bass, of which there are several species, that is considered game fish. The largemouth black bass is the most popular freshwater game fish in America. A black bass over 8 inches is classified as a largemouth bass. Insects, baitfish, treadfin shad, gizzard shad, and crawfish make up the main diet of the largemouth bass. The best time to fish for bass is when they feed which is at dawn and at dusk. (Smallmouth bass are under 8 inches and eat insects, baitfish, and crawfish.) Largemouth bass are native to the United States, Canada, and Mexico. They were introduced to Japan in 1925. Since 1925 other countries have imported them; they can now be found in 67 countries.

Bass fishing is a huge sport in North America and other countries. Russia, China, and France (plus Japan) are just a few of the countries where fishing for largemouth bass has become an established sport. Many fishermen still use the old-fashioned plastic worm for bait and it works well. Different fishing techniques are used to catch bass. Dragging is used with spinning and casting gear. The boat moves slowly and the fishermen can cover a lot of territory. This technique works well in deep water. The simple, yet effective, technique other fishermen favor is the drop-shot which can be done using all types of rods and reels. A third technique is called the shaky head. The bait is usually a plastic worm on a jig head with a long shank hook.

The world’s largest tournament-fishing organization is the Fishing League Worldwide (FLW). Its members are made up of the USA, Canada, Portugal, China, Italy, South Korea, and Spain.

Bass tournaments are held in 30 of the original 48 states in the USA. Many of the top bass professional sports fishermen from Japan and other countries travel to America to enter the tournaments there.  Tournaments are not only open to professionals; there are tournaments for beginners and youth also. The Bassmaster Classic is a world-wide competition (professional fishermen from Japan and other countries participate) and the winner is honored with the title of World Champion! 

If you are just looking for a relaxing day by the water, grab a tree branch, tie a thick string to one end, attach a worm to the other end, and toss it in the water over a river bank. There is nothing better than a day to say, “gone fishing”!

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What the Inside of Your Car Says About You

When people open your car door do food wrappers, soda cans, water bottles, etc., come tumbling out? Or, when someone opens your car door will they find a clean seat waiting for them? People will size you up by the contents of your car. Even if the outside has just been run through the car wash, if the inside is a mess you will be judged by that impression.

Various psychologists have come to the following conclusions of what the inside or your vehicle tells others about you. They might be correct or way off base when it comes to you personally; you decide.


Before a passenger can sit down, you have to take time to clear the seat of your personal possessions (clothes, books, laptop). You don’t value your personal things.


When using a vehicle for business and driving clients around (realtor, Uber), a messy inside could be a deterrent to customers, especially if this is their first time to meet you. A car cluttered with business paperwork and other business supplies leaves people thinking you are not responsible or efficient. Just taking a little time to make sure the inside of your vehicle is clean could bring you increased sales.


If the inside of your vehicle is full of food and drink containers, you are a slob and don’t care about your or others health and cleanliness.  Who wants to worry about sitting on a sticky seat or touching a fast food carton that still has half of a week old sandwich.


Every vehicle should have an emergency kit. Just make sure it contains items that are needed in a true emergency like bandages, alcohol wipes, first aid cream, and gauze bandages. If possible, keep the kit in the glove compartment or under a seat out of view. A tool that breaks the window (hopefully you will never need it) and a working flashlight are two things to keep in the front driver’s door compartment. Some people like to carry a blanket. If you are one of them, just be sure it is folded neatly and placed in a plastic container in the trunk so it stays clean. Do not stockpile canned or prepackaged food and water. If people see all this “stuff” in your trunk, they might think you are expecting dooms day to come any time.


Other items you do not want to keep in your vehicle are a toothbrush and toothpaste, soap, shampoo, deodorant, and other things that you can buy at the nearest store if needed. If you feel compelled to care one or all of these personal care items, be sure they are out of the sight of your passengers. If they do not know you, it might cross their mind that you are living out of your car.


If you are a procrastinator when it comes to “convenience” car repairs, you need to think about the impression you are giving to others. For example, if your driver’s side window won’t go down anymore because the motor needs to be replaced, get it replaced as soon as you can afford it. You might view it as an inconvenience to go to the repair shop and you will get it done when you have extra time, but others might view it as you are broke; never a good message to send even if it is true. Successful people look successful before they become successful!

Remember, your vehicle inside and outside gives people an opinion of you; take time to make it a good one!
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The Life of the Photinus Carolinus (Synchronous Firefly)


I see a light in the distance,

It is a small light.

On, off, on, off,

Never stopping.

I try to get closer,

It flies away.

Someone says,

“put the light in a glass jar.”

Someone says,

“That’s cruel.”

I say,


It’s a light,

Just a light.”

Someone says, “not just a light,

it’s a synchronous firefly!”

I belong to the beetle family. Some of you might call me a lightning bug. I live in the forests in the western Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina, USA, and the eastern part of the Great Smokey Mountains of Tennessee, USA. Seek me out in cove forests (dense valleys between ridgelines) near a small stream and an undisturbed forest floor covered with fallen leaves. You will never find me in developed areas or areas with any amount of lamination.  My home is in the deep, dark forest. My life begins as larvae and during this stage I feed on small insects and snails. After one or two years I reach maturity, stop eating, and become a synchronous firefly. This is when my life changes completely; people from all over pour into the forest to see the enchanting light show put on by other male synchronous fireflies and me. We fly between 2 and 6 feet above the ground displaying synchronous flashes to attract females. Depending on the temperature and moisture in the soil, this will occur any time between the middle of May and the latter part of June. Usually though, it takes place the last two weeks of May and the first two weeks of June. My life span as an adult is approximately 21 days, but these are busy and important days if my species is to survive. I flash, I mate, and I die. The female stays on the ground (she cannot fly) where she gives faint flashes, mates, lays eggs, and dies. My life is completed.

If you are interested in viewing the synchronized firefly, the best way to see this breath-taking display of flashing illimitation is on one of several guided tours. The Elkmont Campground in Smoky Mountains National Park in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, is probably the most popular one. Because of the tremendous annual response, the park has instituted a lottery system for reserved places. If you do not have one of the lottery spots, you will be turned away. There is a guided tour also out of Ashville, North Carolina. This one sells out six months or more in advance each year. All the guided tours require some moderate hiking at night. At times, it will be pitch black in the forest. Certain environmental factors will cancel the tour because the fireflies may not flash. This could occur on cool nights when temperatures are below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Earlier in the day if it rained and the evening is misty there is no guarantee the light show will take place. When there is a bright moon, the firefly show will start later than on crescent moon nights.

This light show is just another phenomenon of the wonders of nature God has provided for our enjoyment.
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Do You Have a Bunny Buddy?

Rabbits are popular pets. There are about four dozen domestic breeds to select from. Each breed has its own distinct characteristics. Rabbits range in size from 2-pound dwarfs to more than 20-pound gentle giants as some people like to describe them.

Owners of rabbits love to brag about how intelligent their pet is; just like any pet owner once they start sharing stories about their pet, they can’t be stopped. Many rabbits will respond to their name when called. Some recognize other words too. They are easy to litter box train; easier than cats rabbit owners will boast. Using repetition, rabbits can learn to do various things at their owner’s command (sounds like a trick performing rabbit).

Just like cats and dogs, rabbits come in a variety of fur types and colors. There are mixed breed rabbits too. These have very individual looks which might be why their owner fell in love with them. As they say, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” A mixed breed rabbit might have one ear up and one ear down. Others might have both ears out to the side. They must bring a cheery smile to their owner’s face each morning; how could they not?

For the safety of the pet rabbit (and the contents of the house) they need to have a cage or caged area in the home. But, to have a happy rabbit, it cannot stay in a cage all the time. All rabbits, no matter what their size, have lots of energy and need running room. They are quickly bored and must have things to entertain them or they will find a way to entertain themselves. For example, they like to chew and if not provided with ample toys they will chew on items their owner will not appreciate (table legs, shoes). Owners do not have to spend a lot of money on toys for their pet. Rabbits are happy with a simple cardboard carton or paper towel roll. Inexpensive baby toys, like plastic keys on a ring, will keep them busy for hours. Straw door mats that have not been treated with chemicals are a good purchase. Old towels or fabric will keep them occupied as well.

Each rabbit has its own personality. They can be aggressive, independent, or playful. Some just like to sit quietly and enjoy getting attention. Whatever the rabbit’s personality, they all require daily social interaction. One way to ensure they get this is to place their cage where people congregate.

Certain things will cause a rabbit to become highly stressed. One thing they don’t like is change. They do not want to be in unfamiliar surroundings so joining their owner on vacation is out of the question. They are definitely home-bodies! Small children can cause a rabbit stress also. When a small child reaches to grab a rabbit, the rabbit might become frightened and feel insecure. Seeing those outstretched arms coming at it, an alert goes up and the child is viewed as a predator. For this reason, it is important for adults to teach children the correct way to pick up a rabbit and carry it (specific instructions are on the web). If not, the rabbit could be seriously injured. The child also could be injured because a scared rabbit, acting in self-defense, might scratch or even bite this small human predator. With adult supervision though, children can learn how to lovingly treat a rabbit. As the child gets older, it will have a bunny-buddy for life.

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Piggy Wiggy Moves In

If you want a hypoallergenic pet that is not your ordinary cat or dog, think about a PIG! Before you run out and get one though, there are some important things to consider.

Let’s look at some positive things about owning a pet pig.  As stated before, pigs are hypoallergenic. They also do not shed which means less mess to clean up. Their life span can be up to 20 years. (This can be a positive or negative depending on the owner’s age.) Pigs need the mental stimulation of a typical three-year-old child. (Again, this can be a positive or a negative. If you already have a three-year-old in the house you might want to wait till that little person gets older.) You can provide stimulation by teaching them tricks. Pigs can learn to walk on a lease. Be sure to lather your pet in sunscreen on those daytime walks and take water to drink for you and your pet. Pigs are easily house trained.  If you already own a cat, pigs and cats get along well together. Pigs are social animals and hate to be alone. They will not bond with humans quickly, but they can eventually become your best buddy. They love to have their tummies rubbed and they love to snuggle. An annual trip to the vet for vaccinations and hoof trimming is all you need to plan for since pigs are generally clean and healthy animals. Be aware though, if the pig is allowed to get overweight, it can have leg problems.

The negatives to owning a pig are all things that can be worked with if you are willing to put in the time and make changes. Living in an apartment is a definite negative. So, unless you are willing to move to a place with a yard space for only your pig, forget pig ownership for now.  The reason for the outdoor space is because your pet pig, which does not sweat, needs to cool itself in a mud hole or a small wading pool. The mud also serves as a sunscreen. They have a natural instinct to root so they need to have a space of their own they can tear up. Pigs are territorial animals and will take over your home making it theirs. It is imperative to let the pig know you are the leader of the pack or they will become aggressive towards you feeling they are in control. Pigs do not like to be alone for long periods of time. If no one is home during the day you might want to get two pigs. If left alone inside a house they have been known to rip up carpets, eat drywall, and turn over plant and trash containers. They can learn to open the refrigerator and cabinets looking for food. Pigs love to eat! They love fruits and vegetables and your local livestock store sells food specially mixed for pigs. If you have a cat or dog, never leave their food where the pig can eat it. There is too much protein in cat food and dog food for pigs and it will be harmful to them. Dogs are a natural predator of pigs so think about this if you already own a dog or are planning to get one.

Be sure to check the zoning ordnances in your area to make sure you can own livestock as pets. Also, check to make sure there is a veterinarian close to your home who will treat pigs. Pigs do not do well when feeling stressed and can get pneumonia which can kill them. If your pig is not spayed or neutered when you get it, it is to your benefit to have it done. Females that are not spayed can develop urine problems. Plus, they can have their first litter after three months. Males that are not neutered will leave a musky scent on clothes and furniture.

After learning about the positives and negatives of having a pig for a pet and you still want to give it a try, look for your new pet at an animal shelter. Shelters make sure the pig is healthy and well-socialized before letting it be adopted. An older pig will have reached its full growth so you will know the size your pet will be when you leave the shelter. The normal size for a pig is 600 pounds. The reason so many people bring their pig to a shelter is because they find out mini in pig size isn’t really mini. They purchase a mini pig weighing between 20 and 30 pounds not knowing there are 15 to 20 breeds of mini pigs that range from 150 to 180 pounds when fully grown. If you purchase your mini pig from a breeder and they show you the parents who are still small, do not let the parents size deceive you. Pigs can have their first litter at three months of age, long before they are fully grown which can take up to five years.

Pigs are not the pet of choice for most people, but they make great companions for many.
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Saving Memories

My first camera was called a Brownie even though it was black. It came with a strap that hung around my neck and when I waked it bounced up and down. I would insert a roll of film, take 12 picture and take the roll to the store where they would develop it. Each picture was a mystery until it was printed. Unlike digital cameras today, there was no way to view the picture before printing.

I had a 10” by 13” scrapbook where I kept my pictures. I would dip a wooden popsicle stick into a jar of milky white paste, smear the back of each picture with a generous portion and permanently adhere the picture to the construction like paper in the album. Along with my photos I included memorabilia like napkins from various places, dried flowers from a neighbor’s yard, postcards from places I went and postcards from friends. There was a small braid of my hair, some of my school report cards, and articles and pictures I cut out of magazines. With the turn of each page I would see memories I wanted to remember and share with others. For each memorabilia I included a few sentences about it. Today this is called journaling.  I never knew what I was doing had been around for centuries.

In the 15th century in England people created what was called “commonplace books” where recipes, poems, quotes, letters, and other things the owner of each book wanted to keep indefinitely were housed.  By the 19th century, women were creating scrapbooks to document their daily life. Playbills, tickets stubs, and small trinkets were added to the items mentioned above that were saved in “commonplace books.”

Today, scrapbooking is a hobby extremely popular in the United Kingdom and the United States, with over 4 million scrapbookers in the United States alone. People spend billions of dollars on scrapbooking supplies like brads, ribbons, embellishments, stickers, glitter, and paper in all sizes, weights, and colors. An added value to the scrapbook is handwritten journaling. This opened up the need for journaling supplies. Scrapbookers insisted on archival quality materials and the business industry complied.

By the 21st century approximately 1,600 companies were making scrapbooking products. There are magazines full of scrapbooking ideas and retail stores specializing in scrapbooking items. Many of the stores provide a room for “scrappers” to meet together and share ideas and supplies while working on their scrapbook pages.  Scrapbookers can gather together to share their craft at conventions, retreats, and even cruises.

Some people contribute the growth of scrapbooking to the increase of interest in genealogy. People want to preserve their personal and family history for future generations. It’s like having a time capsule filled with things you want the future generations to know were important to you.

With the digital age here, computer generated pictures, journaling and printed scrapbooks are becoming popular with the younger generation.

If you scrapbook the original way or digital, on each page you are creating a little bit of you. There is no right or wrong to make a scrapbook. Be creative, be yourself, be the person you want others to remember. That’s what Mark Twain did. His scrapbooks contained souvenirs, clippings, and pictures of his travels.

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Should I Walk or Should I Run?

Walking and running are great ways to get up out of that chair and do something that benefits YOU. The one you choose depends on the benefits you want to receive and how active you are currently. Let’s explore each separately.


There is the “stop and smell the roses walker.” This walker does not follow a strict routine; the pace is relaxed and leisurely. The walker can stop to chat with others, take a coffee break, and plop down on a bench along the way and take in the beauty around them. The length and amount of time for each walk can be different. This type of walking relieves stress and calms the emotions.

The second type of walker is the “recreational walker.” They keep a steady pace when walking, but do not do it religiously on a set schedule; structure would take the recreation out of the activity. This type of walking, like the first type listed, can be done spontaneously. No specific outfit is needed so it is a great lunch time stress-releaser. A good pair of walking shoes are a must to prevent injury.

The “brisk walker” takes walking seriously. A set schedule is maintained and goals are set. Brisk walking is an excellent moderate intensity exercise for reducing health risks. Walking at a brisk pace for 45 minutes will help burn away the dreaded belly fat that accumulates around the heart and liver.

The last type of walker is the “racewalker” who participates in marathons. Like any competitive sport, racewalkers train constantly to be the best in their specific category of competition.

Overall, walkers experience few injuries. It is a low impact exercise so the knees do not take a beating. Walking done at a brisk speed and regularly can reduce the risk of hypertension, diabetes, and cholesterol. Walking provides cardiovascular health benefits too.


There is no such thing as a “stop and smell the roses runner” or a “recreational runner.” Running is serious business and cannot be done sporadically. There are “marathon runners” who thrive on the challenge of competition.  Training for a marathon requires discipline in all aspects of living. Long hours are dedicated to preparing for it. Diet restrictions must be adhered to daily.

Someone who is sedentary should start with brisk walking and advance to running. To prevent injury and to benefit from running, a regular schedule should be followed. Runners set personal goals for distance and time for completing that distance.

Because running is strenuous on the body, common injuries runners suffer are runner’s knee, hamstring strains, and shin splits. This is why they purchase the best running shoes they can afford.  Outfits specifically designed for running are another investment they make.

Running can aide in weight loss, reduce the risk of hypertension, high cholesterol, and diabetes. Running boosts energy levels, improves mood, and cardiovascular health.

Whichever form of exercise you decide on, the important thing is to get up from that chair and move!
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Smiles spread happiness! Smiles spread goodwill! Smiles spread the feeling of peace! People of every age, nationality, language, and race speak the universal language of a smile. These facts and other facts have been confirmed by studies conducted at several universities.

The brain does not know the difference between a fake smile and a smile that started in your heart. So, when you are not in a smiling mood, smile. Others will smile back. You will find your blasé attitude disappearing. This is because your entire body is affected in a positive way. Smiles tell your body: things are good, go ahead and relax, and there is no reason to be stressed. When your body thinks this, your heart rate slows down, your blood pressure lowers, and your brain feels happy. With each smile, the production of the stress hormone cortisol is reduced significantly. Smiling releases dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin into the bloodstream. These are good for you. In fact, endorphins are a natural pain killer. So, even though you don’t feel like smiling when you are in pain (who would), try to smile and you will find you can handle the pain easier. Sounds silly, but it works. Smiling also helps the immune system to function more efficiently with the release of neurotransmitters. Smiling can brighten your outlook on the future.

Another reason to smile is smiling can add years to your life. With each smile you exercise the facial muscles which lift the face; thus, smiles make you look younger and you appear more attractive. When you feel tired or depressed, a big smile will hide it from others.

People like to surround themselves with positive people. When you smile, people see that positive person; they see that person they want to be around and get to know better. They also see a confident person they can trust. They view a person who smiles as a fun-loving person and an optimistic person.

Smiles can be your friend in the work place. Your smile will make those around you feel comfortable and at ease. Smile when introduced to someone new. Smile when you are on an interview. Smile at your customers. Smile at business meetings. One thing to remember though, do not smile too much or at the wrong times. If you do, your smile will have a negative influence.

With the invention of the ultrasound, it was discovered babies smile in the womb. Why babies smile before birth has not been determined. Maybe they are thinking about all the pranks they are going to play on their parents! What is known though is, we do not have to learn to smile; smiling is a natural function.

We unconsciously smile when someone smiles at us. When you see an infant or young  child smile at you, you spontaneously smile back. The smile isn’t planned, it just happens. Smiles are contagious.  If you don’t believe it, just smile and watch others smile back!
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Not Your Ordinary Balloon

It doesn’t matter what your age is, what your social background is, or what country you reside in; everyone loves balloons! This blog is not about big commercial balloons that float high over skyscrapers in holiday parades. It is about balloons that are twisted into various shapes right before your eyes. They appear at numerous public and private events like parties, fairs, restaurants, hospitals, and assisted living homes. The audience is mesmerized by each twist and turn of the balloon. Unknowingly some hold their breath with each twist and let their breath out with each turn. They wait anxiously for the creation to appear in its finished form. Some in the audience cannot contain themselves and start yelling out dog, giraffe, flower, sword, etc., whatever they think will be the finished creation.

People who create art with balloons have several descriptive titles (balloon benders, balloon artist, and twisters, but the technical name is balloonologist. Whatever name you refer to them by, they are people who twist special modeling balloons into various sculptures. The sculpture can be made using a single balloon or multiple balloons; how many balloons are used to make one creation depends on how elaborate the shape. Twisters use Qualatex 260Q modeling balloons. The numbers tell you the balloon is 2 inches in girth and 60 inches long. Very seldom do you see a balloon bender using lung power to blow up balloons. It is quicker (and more sanitary) to use a hand pump. To really speed things up, many use a dual action pump which propels air when pushed in as well as when it is pulled out.

Serious balloonologists attend conventions where they can take instructional classes to fine-tune their skills. Balloon sculpturing is an art and, like all art, can be frustrating at times for the artist. The conventions provide a great way to form friendships with other twisters from around the world and share business information and concerns.

There are elaborate sculpture competitions. Participants come from Italy, Japan, Russia, and the United States. The balloon entrees can be very sophisticated. The sculpture can have sound. It can have button activated movement. It can have tape, glue, wire, paint, and other decorations attached. The balloon artist can select from numerous categories for the competition. The size of the balloon sculpture is one determining factor.

Today balloon art can be a high paying career. It takes years though to reach this level. Corporate clients pay thousands of dollars for high-end balloon twisting entertainment. There is a demand, like ice sculpturing, for elaborate balloon sculpture displays at various social and corporate events.

Balloon artists have shared their techniques by posting videos on the Internet.  They are fascinating and entertaining. A fun family activity could be to watch a video on how to make a sword or dog (these are good for beginners) and then make one together. A balloonologist in the making might just be discovered.
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Love Them or Leave Them-Snakes that is!

If you have a fear of ALL snakes, take your vacation or better yet think about moving to Ireland, Iceland, Greenland, Newfoundland, New Zealand or the Falkland Islands. Snakes are nonexistent there.

If you are okay with snakes in general, but apprehensive when you see one in the wild for fear it is poisonous, the Caribbean Islands and the islands located in the Pacific Ocean are good choices for you. They do not have venomous snakes on land, but there are poisonous sea snakes just off land areas located in equatorial waters. Another place to visit or move to is Madagascar. Ninety species of snakes have been identified in this country. Even though a small number of these are venomous, they are harmless to people due to the arrangement of their fangs. If you want to live or visit the United States, Alaska is venomous snake free and Hawaii has no native land poisonous snakes.

Australia has more venomous snakes than any place in the world and is home to nine of the top ten. It is the only continent with more venomous snakes than nonvenomous. So, if you have a fear of snakes, especially venomous ones, stay in the densely populated areas when visiting Australia.

The most venomous snake in the world is the inland taipan found in Australia. Because it lives in sparsely populated areas, it seldom comes in contact with people. Since the 1980s, the inland taipan has been called by many the fierce snake because of its powerful venom. The average length of the inland taipan ranges from five to a little over 8 feet. The female’s diet and amount of food available play a large part in her reproduction rate. After mating, she selects an abandoned animal burrow or a deep crevice in which to lay her one to two dozen eggs. They hatch in approximately two months.

One of the world’s deadliest snakes holds the honor of being the fastest land snake in the world and the second longest snake in the world. It is Africa’s black mamba. You can find black mambas in rock crevices, burrows, abandoned termite mounds and hollow trees. They like the low, open woodlands of South and East Aricia. During daylight hours they hunt for food or relax in trees enjoying the warmth from the sun. If you spot one, there might be others near. They have been seen traveling in pairs or small groups. Mating session for the black mamba is spring and summer. The female will lay 6 to 25 eggs at one time. She leaves them in a damp, warm burrow to never be seen by her again. After about three months they hatch and fend for themselves. The babies are between 16 and 24 inches long. When full-grown, they are 8 to 14 feet long and live up to 11 years in the wild.

North America has over 20 species of venomous snakes. Forty-nine of the 50 states have at least one venomous snake. Hawaii has no land venomous snakes.  It is extremely rare to see a yellow-bellied sea snake, which is highly poisonous, in the waters along Hawaii’s coast, but they have been spotted a few times. Alaska has no venomous snakes. The snake most feared in North America is the cottonmouth. It is the only semiaquatic viper in the world. It is a very strong swimmer and is found in and around waters across the Southeastern United States. The Cottonmouth snake mates once a year in the Spring. After three or four months, the eggs hatch inside the female and she gives birth to as many as 16 venomous juveniles. The juveniles range from 8 to 14 inches long.

Snakes, including venomous ones, are not aggressive unless provoked. If you know you are walking in an area where they live, keep a look out for them. If you avoid them, they will avoid you.
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What Zone Are We In?

Most of the countries in the world today, but not all, use standardized time zones developed in 1878 by a Canadian named Sir Sanford Fleming. He reasoned, there are 360 degrees of longitude. Longitude is defined as the angular distance between a point on any meridian and the prime meridian. Each hour the earth rotates 15 degrees which means in 24 hours, one day, the earth rotates a complete 360 degree circle. The International Prime Meridian Conference, consisting of 22 nations, met in Washington D.C., U.S.A. in 1884 to adopt an international standardized time zone. The longitude of Greenwich, England was chosen as the prime meridian and would have the distinct privilege of zero longitude. This was a logical selection since sailors for centuries had used Greenwich as the standard by which to measure an hour. Due to the curvature of the earth, the distance between the 24 time zones is greatest at the equator and is zero at the poles. Time zones gave consistency to noon being the middle of the day when the sun is highest in each zone. The terms noon and midnight would have the same meaning wherever the time zone was located.

Before the days of mass transit, the world moved at a slower pace. Time was set by the sun. When it reached its peak each day, clocks were set to Noon. Most towns had a “town clock” which was used by individuals to set their personal watches or clocks. Daily travel between towns required resetting of watches to conform to the time in each town. Railroad stops were based on the time at each location. This made train schedules confusing.

With the increased use of railroads to move people and products over long distances, it became essential to have a set time schedule for all locations and used by all train operators.  Arrival and departure times needed to be uniform for the safety of the railroads and the delivery of the train’s cargo (people, animals, produce, material). Britain was the first country (1847) to adopt a standard time for railway operators. It was followed by New Zealand (1868) and the United States (1883). This was before Greenwich Meridian Time was adopted.  By 1929 most countries were using a type of time zone. Nepal (1986) was the last to convert.

Even though it has been 135 years since the International Prime Meridian Conference, some countries today use variations of Sir Fleming’s time zone proposal. Here are a few examples. China has one time zone, but according to Fleming it should have five. In the Middle East and South Asia several countries use half-hour time zones. The North and South poles use Coordinated Universal Time.

The United States Congress made the four time zones (Pacific, Mountain, Central, and Eastern) in the continental U.S. mandatory in 1918 with the Standard Time Act. Today the United States with the addition of the states of Hawaii and Alaska and including U.S. territories cover nine time zones.

Because of the internet and real-time events, there might be a need for time zone changes in the future. Then again, some things can stay the same no matter what else is changing in the world. Only time will tell.,8599,1933079,00.html

What Zone Are We In?  By Denise V

Most of the countries in the world today, but not all, use standardized time zones developed in 1878 by a Canadian named Sir Sanford Fleming. He reasoned, there are 360 degrees of longitude. Longitude is defined as the angular distance between a point on any meridian and the prime meridian. Each hour the earth rotates 15 degrees which means in 24 hours, one day, the earth rotates a complete 360 degree circle. The International Prime Meridian Conference, consisting of 22 nations, met in Washington D.C., U.S.A. in 1884 to adopt an international standardized time zone. The longitude of Greenwich, England was chosen as the prime meridian and would have the distinct privilege of zero longitude. This was a logical selection since sailors for centuries had used Greenwich as the standard by which to measure an hour. Due to the curvature of the earth, the distance between the 24 time zones is greatest at the equator and is zero at the poles. Time zones gave consistency to noon being the middle of the day when the sun is highest in each zone. The terms noon and midnight would have the same meaning wherever the time zone was located.

Before the days of mass transit, the world moved at a slower pace. Time was set by the sun. When it reached its peak each day, clocks were set to Noon. Most towns had a “town clock” which was used by individuals to set their personal watches or clocks. Daily travel between towns required resetting of watches to conform to the time in each town. Railroad stops were based on the time at each location. This made train schedules confusing.

With the increased use of railroads to move people and products over long distances, it became essential to have a set time schedule for all locations and used by all train operators.  Arrival and departure times needed to be uniform for the safety of the railroads and the delivery of the train’s cargo (people, animals, produce, material). Britain was the first country (1847) to adopt a standard time for railway operators. It was followed by New Zealand (1868) and the United States (1883). This was before Greenwich Meridian Time was adopted.  By 1929 most countries were using a type of time zone. Nepal (1986) was the last to convert.

Even though it has been 135 years since the International Prime Meridian Conference, some countries today use variations of Sir Fleming’s time zone proposal. Here are a few examples. China has one time zone, but according to Fleming it should have five. In the Middle East and South Asia several countries use half-hour time zones. The North and South poles use Coordinated Universal Time.

The United States Congress made the four time zones (Pacific, Mountain, Central, and Eastern) in the continental U.S. mandatory in 1918 with the Standard Time Act. Today the United States with the addition of the states of Hawaii and Alaska and including U.S. territories cover nine time zones.

Because of the internet and real-time events, there might be a need for time zone changes in the future. Then again, some things can stay the same no matter what else is changing in the world. Only time will tell.,8599,1933079,00.html
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And the best in show is—these are the last word the judge says before announcing the top bird over all others in the show. Judging categories are Best in Class, Best in Section, and Best in Show.

If you have never been to a bird show, add it to your bucket list; you won’t be disappointed. Before the show begins, you can purchase toys, cages, food, and other bird accessories from vendors. There are baby birds and adult birds of all kinds available for purchase. It is a great way to introduce yourself to various birds and learn from the vendors about their likes and dislikes. The majority of the baby birds have been handfed so they are not skittish of humans. Most vendors will let you pick them up and hold them. If you are thinking of adding a bird to your family, be sure to ask the vendor to let you handle it. You need to spend time with the exact bird you are thinking of purchasing; birds of the same breed, just like other animals, have their own personality. You want to match the personality of the bird to your personality. Some birds are very active and noisy while others are quiet and subdued.  Birds for sale range from the finch family to the big parrots. If you want to try your hand at breeding, many vendors have breeding pairs for sale. Be careful though when buying adult birds for breeding. Find out the age of the bird as it might be past breeding age. Some times a vendor will sex birds. Again, depending on the method they use, it might not be 100 percent accurate.

Every bird in a show, is judged while perching in a special cage approved for shows. These cages are required. The back, sides and bottom of the cages are solid and usually made of wood. The front of the cage is wire. There is one perch in the cage. The floor of the cage has to be covered with noncolored seed and one water tube is required per cage. The size and type of bird determines the size of the show cage. The bird needs to be able to perch comfortably, but not able to fly around in the cage.

Show preparation begins three months before the show date. The birds spend several hours each day in their show cage to get acclimated to it. They are fed a high protein diet and sprayed with cool water every day which gives them healthy feathers. The feet are cleaned with mineral oil to keep them from getting cracked or dry. Care must be taken when applying the mineral oil to prevent any from getting on the bird’s feathers. Some shows require show entries to be banded.

Only birds that meet show standards should be entered in a bird show. The birds are divided into categories for judging. The judges are extremely knowledgeable about the show standards for each category. Birds are judged from crest to claw. Judges look for a well-balanced body proportion. They should not see any frayed or pin feathers (new growth). The bird’s feathers should be clean and tight. Tail feathers should be the proper length and there should be no missing feathers. Wings should lay flat against the body and not cross over each other. Eye position is judged and there should not be any discharge. Beaks cannot be overgrown or scaly. There should be no nasal discharge. Legs should be strong. Toes should have no abnormal bends or curves and no toes can be missing. Claws should be normally worn. Last but definitely not least, vents cannot be dirty. Overall, the judge is looking for the healthiest and best-groomed bird in each Class, then each Section, and last the Best In Show.

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The Perfect Job – Chocolate Taster

  By Denise V

If your entire body craves this delicious, creamy, and healthy treat, chocolate, you might want to pursue a career as a professional chocolate taster. Just as professional wine tasters have a specific procedure to follow to judge the quality of a fine wine, there is a specific procedure for judging the flavor and texture of quality chocolate.

A fun way to find out if this is the career for you, host a chocolate tasting party.

Here are the things you will need to do:

  1. Select a place in the house or outside that is quiet and relaxing for the tasting area.
  2. Have a minimum of four different brands of chocolate.  (Dark chocolate is the healthiest.)
  3. Store the chocolate in a dry, dark, cool place until you are ready for the tasting party.
  4. The chocolate must be room temperature when tasting begins.
  5. Serve the chocolate from the lowest percentage of cocoa content to the highest percentage. (When you read the ingredients on the package, the percentage of each ingredient is listed from highest to lowest.)
  6. Provide a small plate of apple pieces for each person so they can cleanse their palate before and between each chocolate piece.
  7. Prepare the score cards. Here is a sample card.

1)      Is the piece of chocolate
a. Shiny______________________
b.  Glossy_____________________
c.  Consistent in color___________

2)   Breaks with
a.  Sharp sound________________
b. Crisp sound_________________
c.  Clean Edge__________________

3)      Feels
a. Smooth_____________________
b. Even_______________________

4)      Aroma
a. Pleasant_____________________
b. Inviting______________________

5)      Melts in the mouth quickly_____________

6)      Tastes rich__________________________

7)      Smooth texture on the tongue__________

8)      Velvety texture on the tongue__________

9)      Grainy texture on the tongue___________

10)    Bitter or unpleasant after taste__________

YES TOTAL _________

Here are the steps for tasting chocolate:

  1. Begin by cleansing the palate with a piece of apple.
  2. Next, study the piece of chocolate. It should have a shiny, even, glossy surface. The color isn’t what makes one chocolate better than another, but it should be consistent. (Where the beans were grown and the technique used to roast them determines the color.)
  3. Break the piece of chocolate in half and listen to the sound it makes as it breaks. The sharper and crisper the sound, the better the quality of chocolate. (The higher the cocoa quality, the louder the snap sound.)
  4. Look at the broken edge to see if it has a clean break. The cleaner the break, the better the quality.
  5. Take time to feel the chocolate. It should feel smooth and even as your finger moves gently across it.
  6. Now smell the chocolate. As you rub your finger over the chocolate in Step 5, the chocolate might start to melt. As it melts the aroma is released.
  7. Place the chocolate in your mouth and let it melt. Do not chew.  Quality chocolate will feel smooth with a velvety texture while melting in your mouth. Close your eyes and concentrate on the flavors that come into your mind. Take time and enjoy this step.
  8. After the piece of chocolate has completely melted, pay attention to the last flavor that is lingering in your mouth. Quality chocolate will not leave a bitter or unpleasant taste. This last step is referred to as the finish.
  9.  Complete the tasting score card.

Repeat Steps 1 through 9 for all pieces of chocolate in the tasting.  When the tasting is completed, reveal the brands of chocolate that were in the tasting. Total the score cards and announce the winner.


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Choo Choo, All Aboard!

The world runs on rails and has since the 1800s. The first successful steam locomotive was developed in Great Britain. Today in countries all over the world, people and materials are transported quickly within and between countries. The train, not airplanes, brought about the world-wide need for standardized time zones.

The fascination with trains quickly grew and provided an excuse for model train sets. The first train sets that were mass produced appeared on the market as early as 1891 in Germany and quickly spread to other countries. As the train industry advanced so did the want for small scale models. Model train sets were on their way to becoming one of the most popular hobbies in the world.

Model trains started as a toy for boys that only wealthy families could afford. As technology advanced, model trains became affordable to the masses. Today though, railway modeling or model railroading (name various by country) is a family hobby. As soon as the youngest family member becomes mesmerized watching the train move over the oval or circle track, the privilege to be called a model railroader or modeler is theirs. The hobby of model railroading truly is for all ages.

Hobbyists have free-rein on how much money, time, and energy they decide to devote. Creativity is endless. When time is a concern and immediate enjoyment is the goal, many purchase inexpensive generic packaged sets. Others prefer to build or buy exact replicas of train cars and layouts (landscape) of real locations and periods of time. Still others let their imagination go wild and create a fantasy model train, and a fantasy layout taking place in a fantasy time period of the past or future.

The International Model Train Club has members in over 23 countries and on all seven continents. What a diversity of cultures! In the United States at least 36 of the 50 states have one or more model train clubs. There are conventions and rail-fan trips devoted to model railroad enthusiasts. Joining a club can give you an excuse to travel and it is a great way to make new friends. People from all backgrounds are drawn to this hobby. It attracted Winston Churchill, Walt Disney, Tom Hanks, Michael Jordan, Ed Dougherty, and others. The one thing that brings them together is the fun of building and watching model trains.

The love people have for trains can be seen in restaurants throughout the world. Many have model trains on display protected under glass. Some have trains running across a ledge to entertain their customers. Others have ingeniously devised a system where the train delivers the food to the table.

  There are train-themed craft breweries, many located in former railway stations or depots. The theme carries over to the names of their personal brews.  For example, there is the Boxcar Brown Ale, the Rail Spike IPA, the Station Master Wheat Ale, the Switchman’s Stash IPL, the Pullman Porter, the Rail Hopper IPA, and the Coal Train American Stout.

Looks like model railroading is here to stay!

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Express Your True Colors

What Is Your Favorite Color?

When someone asks you what your favorite color is, think before you answer. The color you name tells a lot about you, at least about your mood on that day. The color of the vehicle you drive, the colors of the rooms in your home, the color of the fabrics and furniture you surround yourself with, and the color of the clothes you wear do also.

            Take a minute and close your eyes. Now, envision yourself in one of these scenarios. You have an important event to attend tomorrow. You search through your closet for just the right outfit. You find it and separate it from other things so you can find it quickly tomorrow. Tomorrow arrives, you grab the outfit and say, “I can’t wear this.” A new day brings new emotions. You are in the local home improvement store shopping for paint colors for various rooms in your home. Before you decide, think about what emotions you want to feel in the room. The same principle applies when purchasing a vehicle. The colors you select for these purchases are governed by your emotions and your frame of mind at that time. That is why you might initially love a purchase and the next day or a week later, you wish you had selected a different color. If possible, avoid making an expensive purchase if you feel depressed or negative. That’s why people say never to buy a big budget item on impulse. Let’s look at some colors and learn what feeling and emotions people associate with them.

Warm colors like red, orange, and yellow stimulate.  Cool colors like blue, green, and purple relax.

            RED When you want to get attention and project an image of power and confidence, go with red. Red stirs up the feeling of excitement. It raises blood pressure, speeds respiration, and increases the heart rate.  

BLUE This color reflects stability, safety, dependability and trustworthiness. It has the opposite effect of red on blood pressure, respiration, and heart rate. As red raises blood pressure, blue brings it down. It also slows respiration and slows the heart rate. Blue is a cool shade and causes calm and relaxed feelings.

            GREEN Nature lovers are drawn to shades of green.  Green is restful to the eyes. It is a great color for large areas as it has a calming effect and helps you to relax and relieve stress.

            YELLOW If you want to feel and want others to feel happy, cheery, energizing, and uplifting yellow is the color to select. When you think of sunshine, you think of yellow; they seem to go together.

            ORANGE If you want to arouse excitement and fill a room with energy go with orange. This is a color seen many times in corporate conference rooms.

            GRAY This is a great color for a subtle effect. Gray allows other colors used with it to be noticed and to standout as the main color. If you want to blend in and not be noticed at an event, wear gray.

            PURPLE To give the impression of luxury and sophistication select purple. Light purples are also restful.

WHITE  This is the color of perfection. White gives the feelings of safety, purity, goodness, and innocence.

            BLACK To be perceived as independent, confident, strong, elegant, and sophisticated go with the color black. It also gives an impression of authority and power.

 So, choose your colors carefully.

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Watch Your Head

            If you are tall and sometimes wish you were shorter, you might want to think about some of the blessings of being tall.

One benefit of being tall is the ease of getting items on the top shelf of a cabinet. A tall person might have to stand on their tippy toes and stretch a little, but they are able to reach things on the top shelf without much effort. They rarely need to grab a stool or chair to stand on like people of shorter stature. An added blessing to this scenario is they don’t have to worry about the wobbly chair they are standing on breaking and bringing about an unplanned trip to the emergency room.

A second blessing of being tall is being able to see over the heads of others when attending a parade, lighting show, concert, or anything where a crowd of people might be standing in front of them. People of average height arrive at these events hours before they start hoping they will find a place to stand in the first row. Tall people can arrive a few minutes before the event starts and have an unobstructed view.

The taller a person is, the more they can eat because their body needs more nutrients to stay healthy. Tall people can go back for seconds without feeling guilty; what a blessing! This doesn’t mean though they can eat an extra piece of cake and it won’t add inches to their waistline. Too many calories mean more pounds no matter what your height.

In ancient cultures anthropologists say being tall was a sign of wealth and people with height were revered. Things haven’t changed much. Today, height is associated with greatness and dominance. There are highly paid professions where height matters. The National Basketball Association says the average height for a basketball player is 6 feet 7 inches. Male runway models are between 5 feet 11 inches and 6 feet 2 inches. Female runway models are 5 feet 9 inches to 6 feet. Litigators earn big salaries, and ones above average height are perceived by jurors as more believable because their height makes them appear strong and confident. This is especially true in the United States where tall people appear to have higher self-esteem.

There seems to be a day for everything; there is now an International Hug a Tall Person Day. It was started by a group on Facebook because they felt tall people do not get a lot of hugs. This group defines tall as 6 feet plus for men and 5 feet 10 inches for women. Because the majority of people who are of average height don’t know how to give a hug to a person several inches taller than them, the group provides hugging instructions. There is a debate about the exact date of this event; some people recognize February 11th as International Hug a Tall Person Day and others celebrate it on June 5th. What a blessing for tall people this is; two days a year devoted to being hugged!

There is a downside to being tall; tall people have to always be aware of the sign that says, WATCH YOUR HEAD.

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The A-1 Armadillo

Texas Flag Armadillo Sticker

If you live in the United States and happen to reside in Texas or one of the other Gulf Coast states, you have seen a short-legged mammal with an oval-shaped bony plate covering its back, legs, head, and tail walking along the side of the road.  Its plate is usually referred to as its shell or armor. The shell is a greyish-brown color with between 7 and 11 band-shaped breaks going around it. It has a pointy snout on a long head with small black eyes, long claws, and a tapering tail. This mammal species, the nine-banded armadillo, averages 2 feet 6 inches in length and weighs on average 12 pounds. The nine-banded armadillo has a life span of around 10 years in the wild and is the only species of armadillo found in the United States. It is found in abundance along the Gulf Coast because of the warm, moist climate, but it has been spotted as far north as the state of Missouri.  It was named the small mammal of Texas in 1995. The name armadillo is Spanish and means little armored one.

During warm months in the United State the armadillo is rarely seen. It leaves its burrow only at night in search of food. During the cooler months it can be seen in the day taking advantage of the warmth from the sun.

Ten percent of an armadillo’s diet consists of plants, small reptiles, and baby mammals. Most of the time it feasts on invertebrates like beetles, larvae, worms, termites, cockroaches, grasshoppers, ants, maggots, and snails. These delicious appetite pleasers can be a nuisance in and around a home so a pet armadillo might sound like something to consider getting.  Be aware though, an armadillo can be a carrier of the bacterium that causes leprosy in humans. You would have to handle it frequently or eat its meat to contract this disease from an armadillo.

The long claws of the armadillo are needed to dig a burrow where it lives to avoid extreme weather and predators. A burrow is between 7 and 8 inches wide and 15 feet deep. The armadillo likes to dig a burrow in forested areas and grasslands with porous, loose soil.

The armadillo has a variety of predators. These include cougars, coyotes, wolves, alligators, bobcats, and large raptors. When it comes to escaping its enemies, the armadillo is smart. If alarmed, it can move with surprising speed and quickly dig a shallow trench where it can hide. The predator will try to break the armadillo’s shell or grab its tail, but eventually it gives up and moves on to find another food source.

Man is also an enemy of the armadillo. Humans harvest them for their meat and shells. Thousands are killed each year by vehicles, some intentionally and some by accident.

The nine-banded armadillo likes to live a solitary life except during breeding season. A female armadillo begins to reproduce after one year and continues every year until death. Within the life span of one female, she can have up to 56 young.  Each birth usually produces four identical quadruplets.

If you live in an area where there are armadillos, take a minute to find its beauty.


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Straw or No Straw? You Decide

Plastic Straws Only Provided Upon Request Sticker

 You are planning to go on a picnic. You spot your grandparents straw picnic basket and think how much fun it would be to use it. You dust it off and open it up. Inside you see plates, cups, utensils, and food storage containers. Realization hits; you will need to bring everything home, wash each item by hand since nothing is dishwasher safe, and then place the items back in the basket. Grandma’s picnic basket is returned to its spot on the shelf and you get out the plastic cooler and plastic plates, cups, food containers, and utensils.

Did you know plastic as we know it today, did not exist until 1907 when the first synthetic plastic was invented. Because of the way plastics are manufactured, they cannot be truly recycled. You think you are doing a good thing when you toss your plastic items into the “recycle trash,” and technically you are because every little bit helps, but only about 9 percent is actually recycled. Most plastic waste ends up in landfills where it can take thousands of years to decompose. The USA National Park Service estimates that more than 500 million single-use plastic straws are used and thrown away each day in the United States. That adds up to 175 billion plastic straws each year. Thus, the need to reduce, reuse, recycle, and refuse. All over the globe countries are becoming aware of this increasing environmental problem.

Plastic bags, straws, utensils, cups and plates make life easier for many of us. But, if not disposed of correctly, they can cause injury to animal life as well as our environment.  For example, have you ever dropped a plastic straw into a body of water where sea turtles live? That straw might have ended up stuck in the nose of a poor sea turtle that cannot defend itself against these strange plastic objects that are invading its habitat.

Countries, large and small, are implementing changes to protect the environment from the harmful effects of single-use plastic items like bottles, cutlery, cups, carry out containers, and drinking straws. The UK and Europe are currently considering proposals to ban the use of various plastic products. India’s goal is by 2022 all single-use plastic will be banned.

Many countries have already implemented these bans. Rwanda is one of the leaders in realizing the harm plastic throw-away products cause. In 2008 the country banned plastic bags. In 2016 Morocco completely banned the production, sale, and import of plastic bags. England’s Queen Elizabeth currently does not allow plastic straws or bottles on the royal estates.  In the United States, California and Hawaii have taken action on banning the use of various plastic products. They are the environment conscious leaders in the 50 states that make up the United States of America.

Now that you know the facts on how harmful one-time use plastic items can be, maybe you will rethink using grandma’s picnic basket and have fun taking a step back in time.