Something to be passionate about

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May your choices reflect your hopes and not your fears

– Nelson Mandela

So……………. My choice is to advocate for the African Elephant. This reflects my hope.  My hope is that we can stem the tide of death and destruction by warlords in Africa. My hope is that we can give enough attention and love to the subject of African Elephants that they will grow in numbers for the first time since 1979.

When I was in High School there were 1.3 million elephants in Africa.  Nothing to worry about.  I had plenty of time to get there and see them in all of their majesty.  Fast forward 30+ years and there are only 475,000 left in Africa!  At the rate of one being killed EVERY 15 MINUTES………….. they will all be gone in 10 years.  This is my fear.  But as Nelson Mandela put it I need to have my hopes reflected and not my fear.  So my hope is that this will become a global issue.

Because it is.  The ivory is now being traded for ammunition by Warlords. The Warlords then sell the ivory for MUCH MORE than they were giving away in ammunition.  Then as the ivory goes up the food chain it becomes more and more valuable and those making the most money: Isis, Kony, others who would wish for our death and the death of thousands in Darfur for no apparent reason.

It is here that I must adhere  to the quote by Nelson Mandela.  My wish for the world is peace.  My choices will reflect peace, love and sustainability in Africa.  Sustainability of family, sustainability of the natural resources – both animal and human.  My choices will reflect love and peace. My choices reflect the hope that when I finally get to Africa the elephants will be there for me to see.  I am so blessed to live here in the US in a relatively calm, peaceful place and I am giving my attention, and prayers to the people and the elephants of Africa tonight when I go to bed.  Please send some of your prayers to reflect your hope the Elephants and the people of Africa will know peace, prosperity and long lives.

Namaste

Some links to get you started:

Game Rangers International

Game Rangers International Elephant Orphanage

Donate

 

 

 

 

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Experience the Beauty of Nature

Nature is so beautiful

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This is the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA!

Friday June 26, 2015 : A day I will remember always!

Today was a monumental day.  I awakened to the news that the Supreme Court ruled that Gay Marriage is legal in all states.  That a ban on same sex marriage by any state is unconstitutional .   That brought a tear to my eyes!  It was very long awaited by many, including me, but that was not the most important thing that happened today in my life.

I will need to go back a few years to tell this story.  When I say a few years I mean 44!  Forty Four years ago I lived in Harlan, Kentucky and went to Harlan High School.  When I say Harlan High School I mean a school that housed grades 1-12 and had around 600 kids.  The year was 1971.  I was 13 years old and very interested in being a good girl.  I went to church. I read the bible.  And I believed that all people are children of God. To me that meant that all people are the same.  That meant that it didn’t matter where you were from, who you love, what color your skin was…………we were children of God. We came here as pure positive energy. We stayed that way until something happened to perhaps disconnect us from Source/God/the Church or we were taught something that was not true from well-meaning but misguided adults.

In Harlan at that time it was considered normal for the black people to go to the black church and white people to go to the white church. Once, when the black church flooded, our minister invited the black people to our church. It was REALLY empty in church on Sunday.

My parents never talked about race in our house. They weren’t prejudiced in anyway. I never heard bad references about black people or an others but my parents weren’t the sort of folks to rock the boat in any way.   Not bad people. Just not the nonconformist their daughter was about to become.

I met black people at school. I met them in the store my Dad managed. I met them at football games. Some kids had created an underground society where we were all the same. I also think it was due to the fact that many of the boys were in choir together and that bonded them as youngsters so thank you to the director of the choir. My first memories are of sneaking out at night, walking down an old mining road and meeting my friend Julie (another nonconformist!) Julie and I at times had BLACK boyfriends. My first LOVE was black! GASP!

As the years went buy I always fought for the underdog. Perhaps because I didn’t fight for my first love and I! As those things go it probably wouldn’t have mattered. I have no idea. Regardless…………. I went next to live in Chattanooga, Tennessee. NOT actually Chattanooga, We lived in Hixon. Our church was in Red Bank, Tennessee. Home of WHITE people. My Dad was transferred to Chattanooga. Again we joined a church. I was really excited about that church because the minister always talked about his black friends downtown. Our youth group went to see a Christian band on Lookout Mountain. They were Fabulous!!! We went back very excited and asked if they could come to our church. The church authorities said yes. We were thrilled. But we had left out one major fact. A fact that never occurred to us. The band was BLACK! Ooops! They wouldn’t let them come.

That was the end of formal religious worship for me. I read and read and read about so many things. I tried to learn everything I could. I decided that love is the answer. LOVE everyone. Black, white, gay, straight………….. good and bad. I loved them all. My Mother said I was always bringing home strays!

When Barack Obama first started making speeches I loved him. When he made the Red States Blue States speech I loved him. Then he was elected. I don’t have any problem with one thing he has done as President. I just wanted more. I wanted him to take on race. I wanted this country to become the country I saw in MY dreams. One Country Under God, Indivisible with Liberty and Justice for ALL.   ALL. Every person living in this great nation with Liberty and Justice for ALL.

Today we took a couple of great steps toward that. Gay Marriage is legal. And today in a Eulogy that was given by President Barack Obama our Country is once again called to be the UNITED STATES. Not the White STATES or the BLACK STATES or the HISPANIC STATES…………….. the UNITED STATES of America.

I watched the Eulogy and cried. Then I called my dearest friend in the world – Bertha*. Bertha who knows EVERYTHING about me and EVERYTHING I have ever done in this world. Bertha, the one person I can trust ALWAYS because she is my friend. And she is Black. So perhaps I should have started this blog with:   44 years ago I met this girl in school. Her name was Bertha Henderson **. She IS BLACK. She is sweet. She is beautiful. She is smart. She is a college graduate and she makes this world better every day because she is in it!

Thank you Mr. President and thank you Supreme Court Justices. Most of all………….thank you Bertha for always being my friend.

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* My husband thinks I need to mention that I called Bertha and we were on the exact same wavelength and when I called and Bertha picked up she immediately said “ARE YOU WATCHING THE EULOGY?”

** and I think I need to mention that my friend Bertha was in the first class that went to Harlan High School as an integrated school.  It seems unimaginable that they would not let a sweet, smart, amazing person like Bertha to go to the same school as I did because her skin was a bit darker than mine!

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Summer Reading for Teachers

Attention Teachers!  While you are sitting outside enjoying your summer, please give some thought to bringing your class to the Rialto Square Theatre next fall. Thanks to a generous donation by  Midland States Bank the Rialto has a Children’s Matinee Series designed just to meet your needs and hopefully make your life easier!  Each show meets the Illinois State Standards for Education.  There is a teacher’s guide for each show that you can use to seamlessly add the show into your curriculum.

 I am Jack

I am Jack  October 29, 2015

I am Jack Youtube video

The first show is I am Jack.  This is a perfect show to end October/Anti-bullying month.  Jack is a smart, funny, 11 year old boy who’s being badly bullied at school. What starts as an off-the-cuff joke during a handball competition soon turns into a set of circumstances whereby Jack is no longer safe on the playground. But with the use of self-expression through photography, Jack begins to make sense of his world, of his relationships with others, and most importantly, with himself. This excellent one-man show explores the often-overlooked insidious taunting and teasing that bullies are so adept at inflicting on their victims and the roles that family and schools can play in responding to this topic. Jack takes us on a touching and sometimes comical journey as he moves from victim to victor.

MatheMagic!

Math is amazing!   November 4, 2015

Internationally acclaimed magician and educator, Bradley Fields, captivates students with his magic illusions, and turns them on to the history, the power and the beauty of the language of math!  With large multimedia projections, stage illusions, comedy, and audience interaction, MatheMagic!®  promotes math skills and problem solving through visuals, history, language, and world-class entertainment.  Kids travel back to ancient times and meet Imhotep the Magician, (whose secret was really math), Zeno (whose paradoxes inspired Newton) and, of course Pythagoras and his famous theorem.  By integrating math concepts with vocabulary, geography, history, and everyday problem-solving, students of different interests, abilities and learning styles are able to relate to math in new ways.

Kids leave the theatre enthralled, with a renewed sense of wonder, and the enthusiasm to discover the Magic of Math!

Mathemagic.com site

Teacher’s Guide for Mathemagic (c)

Junie B's Essential Survival Guide to School

Junie B’s Essential Survival Guide to School               November 17, 2015

Now that JUNIE B. JONES has been going to school for over one-and-a-half years, who better to write the book on EVERYTHING you need to know? From bus rules to band-aids, carpools to cookies, Junie B. and friends deliver the definitive word on surviving and thriving in style. With a jillion tips, tricks and trip-ups, Junie B. shares her hard-won expertise and shows us all how school is sometimes scary, sometimes super-fun, and ALWAYS something to sing about! An all-new musical adventure based on Barbara Park’s popular book.

Teacher’s Guide for Junie B

A Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol      December 15, 2015

A Christmas Carol captures both the humorous and touching moments of the classic story with witty dialogue and fresh new songs, conveying Dickens’ original message that the holiday season should be a “kind, forgiving, charitable time,” a sentiment which still rings true today. “A thorough delight! Inspired, funny and intimate.” The New York Times

A Curriculum Connections: Literature Based Communication, Language Arts, Social Studies, Music, Fine Arts, and Character Skills

A Holiday classic returns with a musical combining the funniest – and most touching – part of the Dickens’ classic with witty dialogue.

“A thorough delight, inspired, funny and intimate.”

  • Laurel Graber, The New York Times

Teacher’s Guide

circus

Super Scientific Circus                                                       January 27, 2016

The Super Scientific Circus starring Mr. Fish and Trent the Mime, proves that science can be fun and funny.  Alternately assisted and foiled by the comedic antics of Trent the Mime, Mr. Fish uses amazing circus skills imvolving  boomerangs, bubbles, beach balls, bull whips, and magic to introduce the principles of friction, inertia, centripetal force, aerodynamics, sonic booms, air pressure, and ultraviolet light.

Teacher’s Guide

harriet

Harriett Tubman    February 10, 2016

Commemorate Black History Month at The Rialto with this inspiring production.  This classic is a tribute to the great American who freed herself and hundreds of her people from the bonds of slavery.  As Harriet and her friend Sarah Bradford, narrate her adventurous life, we share in the joys, sorrows, and challenges faced by this brave woman who changed the world through her courage.

Teacher’s Guide

Very Hungry Caterpillar

Very Hungry Caterpillar           March 1, 2016

THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR AND OTHER FAVOURITES includes the story of THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR’s metamorphosis into a beautiful butterfly; the fanciful account of LITTLE CLOUD’s travels through the sky; and THE MIXED-UP CHAMELEON’s discovery of his own unique nature. Directed and designed by Jim Morrow, who ranks among Canada’s most esteemed puppetry creators, the triple-bill show incorporates evocative original music by Nova Scotian composer Steven Naylor, and innovative “black light” staging techniques which highlight Morrow’s stunning puppets and props. The work follows closely the books from which they are adapted, providing a new generation with a seamless entry into the world of theatre and music.

Teacher’s Guide

Alexander, Who's NOT NOT NOT NOT Going to Move

Alexander who’s NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT going to move       April 7,  2016

Alexander has just received some really bad news. His dad has taken a job in a city a thousand miles away, which means that he and his family are going to have to move to a whole new city. And even though his mom says, “Wait, you’ll like it,” Alexander already knows that he’ll hate it. He can’t bear to leave the people and places he loves, so he decides that he won’t move. First he tries to live with three different neighbors. Then he tries to build a tent so he can live by himself. Then he decides he’ll hide so that his parents’ll never find him, but that doesn’t work out either. With a little help from his mom and dad and even his bossy older brothers they help him to understand that home is “where your family is, where you’re with the people who love you best of all.”

If you are interested in any of these shows please contact the Rialto Box Office at 815-726-6600.      If you book before August 1st you will receive a discount of $1.00 off per ticket.  So your tickets will only be $5.00 if you purchased the early bird tickets.

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Onions on the Grill w/Bullion and Butter

I got this recipe from the lady at the checkout at Sam’s Club.  She said a man going through the line that afternoon told her that was what he was going to do with his onions. 

Start with some large onions.  Take off the skins and cut a hole in the core.

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After you have a hole in the core put in a bullion cube or a 1/4 teaspoon of Better Than Bullion.

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Then cut a bit of butter and put it on top of the onion.

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Wrap the finished onion in foil and put it on the grill for about 45 minutes. 

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Unwrap and ENJOY!  This was really good!  I might add more bullion next time.

Enjoy!

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Photography Classes are paying off……………

Bokeh at the Key West Butterfly Conservatory

Bokeh at the Key West Butterfly Conservatory

My first assignment for my Photography Class was to take photos in Manual Mode on my Digital Canon T3i.   I understand…………………. this is a baby camera!  I WILL purchase a better body when I learn to use the one I have well.  Right now it would be a waste of money.

First up: Bokeh    So right after this class ended I took my camera, a 50mm lens and did my very best to take some up close and personal photos of butterflies and plants.  This is some of what I got that day and a couple of days later at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park.

Getting better at Bokeh everytime

Getting better at Bokeh every time

Phalic Flower

Flowers in the Conservatory

As I keep practicing………… I will post more.  I have found I love nature so much more than photographing people!   EXCEPT my Grandson’s!

My Favorite Boy

My first and Favorite Grandson………… Because he is my oldest Grandson and I have had more time to love him!

OH WAIT…… I didn’t take this! Introducing: Mini Mason!

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Just a Few Photos……………. Dry Tortugas National Park…..One of the MOST BEAUTIFUL Places on EARTH

I have been to the Dry Tortugas twice and I need to go back one more time.  I need to camp there. I need to spend the night on a secluded island with just a few other people.  I need to see the stars from this magnificent place.  Until then………… I will just share a few photos.

dry tortugas 049 dry tortugas 052 dry tortugas 018 Dry Tortugas 124 Dry Tortugas 103 Dry Tortugas 078 Dry Tortugas 088  Dry Tortugas 093

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Opportunities Everywhere I look!

Don't get on a bridge to Nowhere!  Make every day count!
Don’t get on a bridge to Nowhere! Make every day count!

I am having a bit of trouble focusing on just one thing these days.  There are so many amazing opportunities out there that I can be a part of!  So where to start?  I am helping a friend put some things on Ebay to ease myself back into the swing of daily listings.  I am taking classes that will hopefully help me with this site and with my photos in general.  I am speaking twice this month on play in nature.  I have an idea for a cookie business. And then, there is my number one idea, to combine one of my most beloved projects into a business.( this one has to remain a secret!) 

All so exciting!  I hope you will check back for updates on these projects.  In the meantime………………know that life is meant to be fun!  Go out and experience all that you can everyday no matter where you live or what you do!  If you don’t like your situation: CHANGE IT!  What is the definition of Insanity?????  Doing the same thing every day and expecting a different outcome!

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Cookie Cutters That Will Last for Generations

Ecrandal Cookie CuttersI am a huge fan of cookies that are artistic expressions.  There are people out there that do their work on cookies and not on canvas.  The Cookies look so Beautiful!  I have a board on Pinterest that has 719 pins of these types of cookies. 

There are many cookie artists out there that I admire for different reasons.  One is Ali Bee’s Bake Shop.  She has some of the most beautiful and creative cookies I have ever seen.  Some of my absolute faves are the old fashioned LARGE Christmas Ornament Cookies. 

She is magnificent!  Look at the detail!  There are lots of tutorials on her site as well.  So that leads me to my actual subject of this post. 

Because of these fabulous cookies I started making a few here and there.  NOT as beautiful as those by any means.  And because of that I developed an addiction to buying cookie cutters!  I was not able to find the BIG ones anywhere and finally saw something about Ecrandal.  This is a magnificent cookie cutter business.  It is owned and operated by a family and each cookie cutter is made by hand by a real person here in the United States!  When they ship the cookie cutters they come with a personalized note!!

Cookie Cutters 025I was so pleased to get this note.  It made me think they  LIKE me!  It made me think that not all businesses are impersonal.  The most fabulous part of this is that the cookie cutters are sturdy, hand-crafted and will last forever!  You can make cookies with your kids and then pass them down or buy them a set. 

I will post pictures if I ever actually make these cookies.  I should have time this year to at least give it a try and hopefully make them beautiful.  Happy Baking Ya’ll!

 

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Things are ALWAYS Interesting in the Alzheimers Patient’s Mind!

WHAT?

So what would you think about this if you found it?  This is a daily occurrence in my household!  I don’t know where the misfire of brain cells happens but sometimes all is well and sometimes I find LOTS of random things in weird places.  I have NO idea where the playing cards are.  I also have no idea why the Long John Silvers Vinegar is in the card box.  I don’t know why the lid to the pot was in the dog food bin, nor do I know why my shoe inserts were in the buffet in the dining room.  I don’t know why EVERY PEN we ever had ended up in a box next to the kitchen table or why the scissors go missing ( all 4 pairs) and end up in a secret ( not so secret now that I know where to start looking).  There are hundreds of stories like this.  I am sure you have some too if you have a parent with alzheimers.  Feel free to share them here!

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