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Madly Approaching the End of the School Year

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The school year is always busy, but by this time of the year I'm going warp speed.

We are working on our spring musical; this year it's The Jungle Book. So, in addition to keeping up with academics. we are rehearsing, building sets, and making costumes ~ wolves, elephants, monkeys, vultures, a snake, a panther, a tiger, a jackal, and a boy who needs much more than a loin cloth, partly because Mowgli is being played by a girl. I like the children to have an active role in all parts of production, so in addition to building flats and sets, I am teaching them to cut out the patterns, pin, and use a sewing machine to make their costumes. They are doing a great job and the performance is going to be awesome!

Making Vines

Working on Flats

Shere Khan's Costume is Done

Next week, we spend our school days at the theater, and that Friday is opening night. Everyone is pumped.

If that was all we were doing, that would be busy enough, but with faculty meeting and parent conferences this week, and board meeting and committee meetings, I have put in two 12 hours days, as well as two days of 'regular' hours which included trips to the fabric store after school.

No rest this Saturday. The great news is that we got a garden grant from Whole Foods to help with the cost of our school farm garden and chicken coop. As part of the grant, we need to have a Garden Party (should be fun) and Whole Foods will send a representative to grill hot dogs and vegetarian hot dogs, and provide other snacks for the party. We will be making stepping stones for the garden as one of our activities.

We hatched chicks in an incubator in the kindergarten. They are so stinkin' cute!

I saw this idea on Facebook and thought it might be a fun activity for the children at the garden party. If I get it together to get the materials, I'll make it one of the available activities.

Because I have been so tied up with meetings, I have not been able to get my step goal in. I've been getting in walks when I can, though. I suspect next week I'll get my steps while in working in the theater and rehearsing the children.

So 6 weeks left to go. In addition to the spring musical, we have a swimming field trip, a concert field trip (Black Violin ~ looks exciting!), spring testing, our own band/orchestra concert, graduation, and our three day end of the school year camping trip.

I think I can, I think I can, I think I canů.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

IUHRYTR 4/29/2014 5:25AM

    You always come through, Chris, and your students learn so much from you. emoticon -- Lou

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TRAVELGRRL 4/27/2014 12:09PM

    CRAZY but fun, fun, fun! Enjoy!!

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OCEANWIDE 4/23/2014 7:38AM

    Wow, well that is what I call a busy schedule !
Loving the costume production pictures, although it is a lot of work, I always loved making costumes and building sets, so I hope you're having as much fun as I used to when I helped to do it at the local school !
Good luck with everything !

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MARY1313 4/22/2014 6:15PM

    yep, warp speed is about right!!!! Slow down!!! LOL

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DDOORN 4/19/2014 10:50PM

    Wow! Such festive, creative efforts! You're a true trooper and such an asset to your school!


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CATHYGETSFIT 4/19/2014 6:51AM

    Whew! You make me tired just thinking about all you have to do. lol I know you'd have it no other way though. emoticon Those kids are lucky to have such an awesome teacher like you. I wish I would have had teachers like you when I was in school. Hope you, your hubby and your feathered/fur kids have a Happy Easter! emoticon emoticon

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MEOWMAMA3 4/18/2014 7:08PM

    I always love to read about your activities with the kids. Once upon a time I did really involved projects....BT: Before Testing took over and the evil ones banned fun from the land of learning.

I miss the Spring chicks. My grade partner handled them every year. We're going out for breakfast next weekend. She's also retired.

The kids learn SO much from your special style of teaching!

Hang in there and you will survive the whirlwind!!!
emoticon emoticon
p.s. I had a Siamese cat named Shere Khan when I was a kid.

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OLDERDANDRT 4/18/2014 3:58PM

    I know you can, I know you can, I know you can!! You thrive in all this wonderful activity and those children!! Chris, you're going to be a busy, busy gal here till school is out, but I think you'd have it no other way!!
Happy Easter, my friend!! Be blessed ! And know you Are a blessing!! (((HUGS)))

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FIFIFRIZZLE 4/18/2014 11:39AM

    You know you can! What a whirlwind of joyous activity.

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ROCKYCPA 4/17/2014 9:38PM

    What wonderful activities you have for your kids!

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WATERMELLEN 4/17/2014 9:00PM

    Your school and your style of teaching is every parent's ideal -- how lucky your kids are!!

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New Family Member, Leo = Cuteness Overload

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Two kittens showed up under our deck. Since we live out in the country, it is a place where irresponsible people dump their unwanted pets. There was a little gray kitten and a little orange kitten, but very frightened and hard to catch. The gray kitty probably came to a disastrous end, since he disappeared. One day, I came home from work to find Mike sitting in the garage with the little orange kitten. He had already named him Leo, the perfect name for little Leo the Lionhearted.

Poor baby has skin and bones, terrified, and had a huge abscess that covered most of his head.

With extensive medical care, and good nutrition, his health was quickly restored. He went from a lethargic, depressed looking kitty, to a spunky playful one. The ball he is playing with is one that my niece knit for Stella.

Even Stella knew he needed extra TLC.

Both Leo and Tovi are very close to the same age. They started bonding right away. Leo loves to stretch out on the couch next to Tovi's house, and Tovi will go over to talk to him. Now that Leo is a 'teenager' he sometimes gets a little overstimulated by Tovi. I never leave them alone together.

He's not fully grown yet, but he is getting big! One of his favorite toys is a rocking chair. He can spend hours carrying his toys onto the rocker, and making the chair rock.

Love that kitten!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

WATERMELLEN 5/18/2014 9:06AM

    Lovely pics, lovely story: what kind people you are!!

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IUHRYTR 4/29/2014 5:27AM

    Thank you for caring and taking in the little fellow, Chris. The picture of Stella and Leo is precious. emoticon -- Lou

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    I have the same rocker. My favorite chair!

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FIFIFRIZZLE 4/14/2014 4:09AM

    That is one very lucky little kitten!

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MERRYMARY42 4/13/2014 7:53PM

    it was very fortunate that someone dumped it so close to your home, good things happened to both parties, (I mean you and the kitten ) emoticon

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CHALLENGER15 4/13/2014 6:50PM

    How adorable! I like all of your pets.

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LMB-ESQ 4/13/2014 3:11PM

    Oh he's so cute!!! How fortunate he was to have found you! And Stella makes such a wonderful big sister. :-)

How old and how big is Leo now? We also adopted a little orange kitten who was found wandering alone by a friend of my son's. He is officially my son's cat and they are totally bonded. He was teeny tiny when he came to us at barely 5 weeks old, and now he's 8 months and he's HUGE! And not done growing yet! He named him O.J. Haha... two fun names for two fun kitties!

I'll look forward to reading about all your furbabies' (and featherbabies!) adventures as they grow together!

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CATHYGETSFIT 4/13/2014 2:58PM

    Awww! So cute! We have the same problem out here where we live too. People come out here and dump their unwanted pets. It makes me so mad that people are so irresponsible. I'm glad Leo came to your home and you nursed him back to health. I'm also glad that Leo has made friends with Tovi and Stella. Thank you for caring for and nursing back to health what used to be an unwanted kitty. emoticon emoticon

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ONESPOTLEFT 4/13/2014 2:49PM

    congratulations emoticon on you adoption of the stay

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OLDERDANDRT 4/13/2014 2:20PM

    Welcome to beautiful Leo!!! Oh my, how handsome can you get?!?! I have a feeling, from what you said about him having an abscess on his head when y'all found him, that that's why he allowed himself to be caught (or just was caught) and his sibling got away b/c it was in better health????? Maybe. We can only hope it's doing fine, maybe in an obscure feral community.
Needless to say, you're family has expanded in quite a wonderful way!! And Stella, what a loving mother figure for Leo!! Sweet! I knew she'd be a good mother type!! She has you to learn from!
Have a great Sunday and thank you so much for sharing this info and lovely pictures of your new family members!

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MEOWMAMA3 4/13/2014 12:54PM

    Leo found the right house to wander to! He is adorable, so glad he and Stella are buddies! I love that he hoards his toys and rocks the chair! My Manley (the black one) loves paper mousies and will fetch them about 6 or 7 times and carry them back, then he takes them to the water bowl and washes them and brings them back sopping wet. He loves those magazine renewal cards, one of them makes 2 fabulous, dippable mousies! He also drowns his catnip/fabric mousies, he drowns them and leaves them to soak....or make catnip tea! Kitties are the best! Thanks for being a Meowmama Shero!!!! (for so many reasons!)

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THRIVE2DAY 4/13/2014 12:33PM

    God bless you for nursing Leo back to health, once unwanted but finding love in your family!

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DDOORN 4/13/2014 10:41AM

    We most definitely have a huge soft spot for our kitties! Have adopted a number of them...currently running with 4! :-)


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TRAVELGRRL 4/13/2014 10:23AM

    What a lucky cat to have "adopted" you! We live in the country too and have a dumped kitty ourselves...she is nearly 10 years old now, fat and sassy!

I hate irresponsible pet owners, and there are PLENTY of them around here. One of my PET PEEVES.

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YMWONG22 4/13/2014 10:21AM

  Cute. It is fortunate that Leo was taken care by you.
emoticon emoticon emoticon

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New Family Member, Tovi

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Since last I was on Spark, two new feather and fur kids have joined our household.

The sad news is that my sweet parrotlet Emmitt died while I was in San Francisco this summer. I was heartbroken; he was such a wonderful little bird.

In August, little parrotlets hatched at the bird farm, so I reserved one. It was hard to wait for him, but I would go visit him when I could. He was such an adorable baby, it was hard to leave him there, but I had to wait until he graduated to solid foods.

See what I mean?

Now he is 8 months old and a cuddle bug. He loves to snuggle into my hair while I'm reading, and loves to give me kisses.

He is already becoming a good talker. So far he has "pretty bird." "good boy," "what's up?" and "night night" in his repertoire. I think I hear him practicing "bye bye" but he hasn't said it very clearly yet.

Tovi and I just went back to the bird farm and bought a little Easter basket for him.

It's filled with all kinds of fun stuff for a mini parrot!

Not long after Tovi joined our family, a kitten adopted us, but he gets his own blog post. emoticon

Tune in next time!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

IFDEEVARUNS2 4/24/2014 10:33AM

    So sweet.

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FIFIFRIZZLE 4/14/2014 4:13AM

    A dear little bird!

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MERRYMARY42 4/13/2014 7:56PM

    how nice, I alwwys thought I would like to have a parrot, right now I have no pets at all,

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MEOWMAMA3 4/13/2014 12:56PM

    Sorry you lost your Emmitt :(
Welcome to the family to Tovi! So pretty!

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WATERMELLEN 4/13/2014 9:14AM

    Ever since I read the Enid Blyton books as a little girl I've longed for a parrot like Kiki -- it's wonderful that you've adopted another and of course how lucky for Tovi to join your household!!

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TKADEEPBREATH 4/13/2014 8:40AM

    That is so cool. I love birds but have never owned one. Two dogs and a cat seem like enough for now. ....

Take care, Jan

emoticon emoticon emoticon

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THRIVE2DAY 4/13/2014 8:13AM


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JSTETSER 4/13/2014 6:59AM


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PONYFARMER 4/12/2014 10:04PM

    I am anxious to see the new kitten. emoticon As for the newest member of your family, he is adorable. What a sweet, sweet boy and already talking, so clearly smart as well.

emoticon BTW, love his little ducky in his Easter basket. I have several as I sort of collect them, because they are just so cute.

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OLDERDANDRT 4/12/2014 9:23PM

    I'm so sorry about your Emmitt. My condolences, sweetie. But welcome to your new little Tovi!! What a beauty!! ( of course he is my favorite color!)
Hope you've been having a great weekend, so far!! Enjoy your Sunday!! (((HUGS)))

PS Tummy rubs to Stella!!

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DDOORN 4/12/2014 9:18PM

    Ah how you extend your heart to ALL God's creatures, don't you...?!? :-)


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LMB-ESQ 4/12/2014 9:01PM

    So sorry to hear about Emmitt :-( Your new little boy is cute!

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FISHGUT3 4/12/2014 8:51PM

    love those furry/feathered friends

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Frustrated and confused

Friday, April 11, 2014

I decided it was time to get serious about losing my winter weight, which has been stubbornly staying happily in place around my belly all winter. This is not because I have been sedentary. With the exception of when I had the flu, I have been getting in 4 - 6 miles 5 days a week (10,000 - 15,000 steps), the other two days if and when I can, but I'm often tied up with meetings.

Figuring that I had been a bit careless about my diet in terms of eating sweets and maybe larger than necessary portions, I decided to get back to nutritional tracking and up the exercise a bit ~ not a lot. I have been eating vegetarian, and several days a week vegan, and working with the challenges of getting enough magnesium, potassium, and calcium. I cannot eat soy because of breast cancer risk in my family, so that adds one more challenge. I'm mentioning this because I track my food before I eat it to see if I am getting the nutrients I need, plus researching the best ways to get protein and minerals. My diet has been rich with leafy green veggies, orange veggies, peas, beets, bananas, apples, oranges; some days getting 10 or more servings of freggies a day. After struggling to get enough protein, I have added protein powder to my green smoothies, to boost protein and minerals in my diet.

I did eat some chicken today and a little piece of corned beef this week, to see if that made any difference in my protein and mineral count. Actually, it didn't ~ but I needed to experiment.

I have been eating a LOT of food, but also trying to lower my calorie consumption with the goal of losing those 5 winter pounds. My caloric recommendation on Spark is 1200 - 1550 calories per day. So I have been staying in the lower range, 1200 - 1300 per day, and getting in 5 - 7 miles at least 6 days a week. My weight loss goal was to lose a pound a week.

What floored me, was after a week of a very nutritious, careful diet, and wonderful walks on mostly beautiful days, not only did I not shed a pound, I gained a pounds. emoticon

Some people have suggested that it is muscle weight. It's not. It is muffin top enhancing fat. A friend suggested I was not getting enough calories, yet I am working on reaching the lower end of my calorie recommendation and cleaning up my nutrition.

So what's going on here? Ideas, anyone?

Whatever happens with my weight, I am healthy and content with my life. I will keep tracking and exercising. In the grand scheme of life, this is a very tiny aggravation. I thought you might enjoy this pic of someone who is undauntable. I took this photo on one of my walks. It was 9 F degrees, with wind chills of up to 30 below. This robin was happily taking a bath in the river. Inspiring, right?

Okay, this is an add on to this blog. I was taking my evening walk and noticing that the moon is almost full. I often gain a little weight during the full moon. So I looked it up. This article is interesting:

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

WATERMELLEN 4/12/2014 10:44AM

    Love that robin picture . . . and I bet he's at his early spring weight too, preparatory for all the work of feeding the first batch of babies soon.

You are eating healthy and getting lots of exercise: the weight will adjust, it has no choice.

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OLDERDANDRT 4/11/2014 10:26PM

    Chris, I think you need to watch your nutrition ( like you did for that week) only for a few more weeks! It'll take more than a week to see any loss, I think, regardless. One week, I think your body counts as only practice. I couldn't access the moon body article as they wanted me to sign up, but I totally regard some such as a definite possibility. In which case, you'll be seeing movement in the right direction as the phase of the moon changes! Or something like that! Perseverance is key! You'll pare it down without a doubt! Sounds like you are definitely doing everything right! (((HUGS)))

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RLLRKAT 4/11/2014 9:45PM

    I have another thought for you. What if this is the weight you are supposed to be? This is your body's way of saying "Hey! I'm in perfect balance right here!" I know that seems weird, but for many people, the suggested weights, BMIs, calorie intakes are just not correct for their individual metabolisms. I *should* be in the 120 - 130 range for my height, weight combo. I can tell you that 140-150 is where my body is comfortable and where I was at my most healthy and athletic. Anything below that I get cranky and my body begins to do weird things. Anything above that and I start having the same types of problems again.

Just a thought.

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KASEYCOFF 4/11/2014 8:28PM

    Hmmm... It would seem impossible in terms of physics: if calories expended are greater than calories taken in, you canNOT fail to lose weight. But (this is my thinking, now; be aware that I could be way off base) add an almost-balanced intake-outgo to an aging (no, sweetie, I don't know how old you are, but you're still breathing, so you're getting older, yah? lol) body and a slowing metabolism and... yes, I think the impossible becomes possible.

What to do?

1) Try more varied exercise. Walking is great, but can you go swimming once a week? Lift weights or do strength training once a week? And have a really good aerobic session once a week? Add those to your daily walks, and even if you don't do the other exercises every day, it might give the ol' metabolism a shot in the arm.

2) Personally, I think the calorie intakes on SP are too high. Sure, for the average 22-24 year old they work, but anyone over 35? Mmmm, not unless they're working out three hours a day with Madonna's toughest trainer. So give your diet another going over and see if you can still achieve the nutrients you need whilst shaving a few calories here and there.

I once read an interview given by Fred Astaire, then well up in his 80s, in which he was asked how he stayed so trim and fit. He said he danced - still - for an hour or two every day. He also said he ate light: many days he would have a boiled egg and a piece of toast, or some chicken and a salad. He never gained weight, but didn't lose any either, so it must've agreed with him.

Myself, I wouldn't mind eating light if I only wasn't so darned hungry all the time, LOL!

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SCOOTER4263 4/11/2014 8:02PM

    My two cents is that it's still too cold where you are (and where I am) to lose weight successfully. We may be technologically advanced, but our bodies are still pretty much prehistoric, and their goal has always been to bulk up in the fall, hang onto as much fat as possible in the winter and early spring, and shed it in the summer to feed babies, aid in mobility and carry out other activities - it didn't matter, since summer foods are in good supply.

It's not muscle, you're right - lifters would kill to gain five pounds of muscle. You could try a week of eating 2000 calories a day and see if you gain, lose or stay the same - sometimes you can "wake up" a sluggish metabolism that way and actually lose. There are some studies that support that idea. Ore you could just do what you're comfortable with - walking and eating lots of good vegetarian/vegan food - and see what happens in a few weeks. Don't over-think it and make yourself crazy.

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Spring Wild Flowers

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Winter was long and harsh this year, and spring late in coming. I usually find wildflowers blooming toward the end of March, so this is pretty late. I really love the first blooms of spring. Perhaps because they were so long coming, it feels like they are lifting my heart even more than usual this spring. On the last day of March, the skunk cabbage made its appearance. I love how sculptural skunk cabbage is. They look like little alien pods when they first start to unfurl their leaves.

Quite a few wildflowers were blooming this past Monday. Bloodroot flowers are like bright shiny stars.

One of my favorite early wildflowers is hepatica. It is such as sweet flower which dots the woods with blooms of many hues, white, pale pink, deep pink, blue, lavender, and deep purple. These were some lovely blue hepatica.

I found many trout lilies that were either pre-bud or just budding. I had pretty much given up on seeing any of these bright yellow beauties on this walk, thinking I would have to wait until this weekend to see any. But there were several in bloom at the base of an old moss covered log.

There were so very early, and very tiny, trillium. I'm not certain what the name of this particular trillium is. Feel free to post the name in comments if you know.

The toad trillium was almost, but not quite blooming yet, though. Encouraged by finding two trout lilies in bloom, I searched a little harder for a toad trillium in bloom, but without success. For this one, I WILL have to wait until this weekend.

And last, but not least, the sweet Dutchman's breeches. Many were not ready to bloom yet, but there was a nice display of blooms though out my walk.

What a lovely soul reviving walk!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

WATERMELLEN 4/12/2014 10:40AM

    Thank you! I appreciate the "preview" of what I can hope to see here in perhaps two weeks!!

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MERRYMARY42 4/11/2014 9:55PM

    great pictures and great blog, we went every spring looking for wildflowers with our Grandmother, she knew all the names, and always took a small shovel and bucket in case she found something she wanted to plant, memories,

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OLDERDANDRT 4/11/2014 1:57PM

    Ahhhhh!!! I can surely see how that beauty washes over your soul!! Looks so peaceful and lovely!
I do hope you are well ( and Stella, too)! Have a fabulous Friday and weekend!! (((HUGS)))

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IUHRYTR 4/11/2014 8:49AM

    Thank you, Chris, for a pleasant opening to my day. Your photographs are always entertainin, educational, and relaxing. i especially enjoyed the Dutchman's breeches -- they look like a flying formation. emoticon -- Lou

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DOR2BFIT 4/10/2014 11:10PM

    Wow! Good to hear about your adventures again! Yes, we had a tough winter in CT too- so glad Spring is finally on its way. Take care!

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PONYFARMER 4/10/2014 7:28PM

    Flowers always make me emoticon so thank you for blessing my day with those beautiful pictures of flowers.


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