28 thoughts on “Our Daily Thread 6-14-19

  1. We had a very nice last day of school, everything went well and I allowed enough time at the end of the day for hugs. Then this evening I was just sitting here and realized that I totally forgot about giving them a tour of grade 1, especially led by the students. We do that every year and even though I gave a tour of kinder to the preschool students, I totally forget about giving my students a tour.

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  2. Good morning. I enjoyed watching the header slowly unfold after I opened the blog. Nice pictures, Cheryl.

    I was up and about in the middle of the night. My brain wouldn’t shut down thinking about the baby shower 3rd Arrow and I are throwing tomorrow to start the welcome party for our granddaughter/niece, as yet unborn, but due next month already!

    (Yes, for those of you discussing the other day how many blog grandchildren are on the way, you can add our little one to the mix.) 🙂 And also, btw, congratulations, Peter, Mumsee, Kim! (Did I miss anyone?)

    Last evening 3rd Arrow and I figured out which games we’ll do at the shower. My mind was all abuzz later (around 1:30 to 3:30 am, lol) about which order to play them, what game materials to bring to the shower venue, which prizes to give for which games (we have enough prizes for three winners), what to do in case of a tie, how to keep people occupied during one game in which each person’s turn is short but the whole game takes quite a while, etc. etc. etc.

    I’ll write more game-playing details in my next comment so that this one doesn’t get monstrously long. I’ve never given a shower for anyone, so any tips, on the games or anything else, are welcome. 🙂

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  3. It’s probably obvious what the header collage is, but I’ll explain it a bit more. This is the metamorphosis cycle of the monarch butterfly, everything except mating (I’ve never seen monarchs mating). Every one of these photos was taken in my own backyard up a few hours north (still in Indiana). They aren’t all the same insect, since I had quite a few caterpillars on my milkweed and couldn’t keep track of any one individual.

    The milkweed, common milkweed, were “volunteers,” which means they planted themselves. Once I realized what they were, I left them to grow, knowing they would probably bring monarch caterpillars to my backyard. Common milkweed sends down a taproot the first year, but doesn’t blossom the first year. New plants grow up the next year, and they produce flowers. That second year I got a few caterpillars, but didn’t see any become butterflies. The third summer, my older daughter (who had married and moved out) came back one day to do the gardening, because that was something she loved to do, and she pulled up all my milkweed, some of it quite tall! But it grew back. One plant got rather tall, but I had two or three other plants that never got very tall after they had to regrow. But those few plants got more than 20 monarch caterpillars, which is a lot. (Not all grew to maturity, but at least two did, which is also a lot–an excellent percentage.)

    Follow the cycle starting on the middle left, which is a female monarch laying an egg on my milkweed. I was able to see where she put the egg and go out later and see it (they’re really tiny), though I didn’t have a camera good enough to get something that tiny, unfortunately. But just above the photo of her laying an egg is a different photo, greatly enlarged, of a monarch egg ready to hatch (you can see black at the top, and that’s how you know it’s ready to hatch) and then a new little, first-instar caterpillar to the right of the egg. Monarch caterpillars have five instars, or growth stages, shedding their skin between each one. I’ve photographed all five, but didn’t include all five in the collage. Moving up and clockwise, top left is a second instar, and that one is likely to have come from the egg the female monarch laid. I only had one on my plant at that point, the first year they laid any eggs. Next to it is a fourth instar that was quite a unique individual, crawling all over the place, mostly on top of the leaves (they usually crawl underneath) and eating flowers as well as leaves (they usually eat only leaves). I think, but am not sure, that that individual survived to become an adult male.

    See, right in the middle of the top, a caterpillar hanging upside down in sort of the shape of a J? That is the classic posture for a caterpillar forming a chrysalis. That photo and all the other photos are from the third year, and all of the same insect as it formed its chrysalis and then came out. That one is a female–you can’t tell sex in a caterpillar without killing it, but you can tell sex in the chrysalis and the adult butterfly. The photo to the right of her is the chrysalis a few minutes old, not yet hardened and not yet its final shape. Then, hardened, then the day before she came out of the chrysalis with color showing through.

    Every source I looked at to see how long it took a butterfly to come out said one to two weeks or some version of that. She took 23 days and I almost gave up looking every day to see if there was color! The big photo on the right, bright color with raindrops, is the morning she came out. It rained all morning, and she came out in early afternoon (which is also unusual–they usually come out in the morning, sometimes before daylight).

    The bottom row is her freshly out of the chrysalis, pumping fluid into her wings and then hanging to dry. Her abdomen gets thin as her wings get full of their fluid, and then she ejects the rest of the fluid. It was only a few minutes for all that to happen; I was actually surprised how quickly it went.

    The middle photo is her hanging next to her chrysalis waiting to finish drying, and the extra fluid is on the leaf under her.

    Isn’t God’s creation grand?!

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  4. Notes on the games:

    We’ll do “Diaper Bag Shuffle” first, I think. It’s a game where you put a dozen or so common baby items in a diaper bag, and each guest takes a turn feeling inside the bag (without looking), then writes down whatever s/he thinks is in there. The site where 3rd Arrow found the description of that game suggested two minutes per person, but that will take about an hour to do that one game! So I plan to double up — after the first person gets done with her one minute of examining by feel the contents of the bag, the second person will get her minute to feel the contents while the first person gets one minute to write down what she felt.

    In other words, two things are usually going on at once — one person feeling, one person writing. That’ll shorten the total game length almost in half.

    Guests will also be given a baby-item word search they can do when it’s not their turn during the diaper bag game. Or they can just sit and chat. But some might not feel comfortable doing that, so I thought I’d provide something else to do as an alternative during the wait times.

    We’re also going to do a game called “Baby Sketch Artists.” Everyone gets a sturdy paper plate, which they need to put on their heads and then draw a sketch of a baby with the hand that isn’t holding the plate in place. Best sketch wins. I have a feeling this will generate some laughter and fun. 🙂

    I thought about what might happen if we get a tie in the Diaper Bag game. (The winner[s] is [are] those who get the most content matches.) I’m thinking that if we have a two-way tie, each will get a prize, using up two of the prizes we bought. The remaining prize will be for the winner of the Sketch game.

    If we have a three-way (or larger) tie, then we’ll have a “guess pregnant mommy’s belly circumference.” Closest guess (maybe to 1/4 inch?) wins the tie-breaker.

    Which would use just one of our three total prizes. As would be the case if only one person had the highest number of matches to begin with.

    So we might or might not still have one more prize left, and we may or may not have played the guess the belly size game already. If we haven’t used it as a tie-breaker, we’ll play it to give away the third prize. If we haven’t, we might put some little mark on the bottom of one food plate, and whoever gets that will get the remaining prize. If there is no remaining prize, we’ll just skip telling people to look for a mark on the bottom of the plate.

    Does that all make sense? Do you see why I couldn’t sleep for two hours last night? 😀

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  5. Did you guess that the sketch gets drawn on one’s own paper plate atop one’s head? Yes, you’re right; I forgot to mention that, but you already knew. 😉

    And, of course, the diaper bag and contents are given to the expectant parents at the end of that game. 🙂

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  6. The header is lovely, Cheryl. I showed it to my mother and Second, who thought it was beautiful and very impressive, and to Tiny Niece and Sixth Nephew, who were enchanted with it. Both little ones know the story of The Very Hungry Caterpillar well, and Tiny Niece said the pictures were just like the story. Sixth Nephew is just starting to say words, and he was fussy this morning, both wanting and not wanting to eat breakfast. He wandered over to see the picture on my laptop and was so delighted with it, he stood still to stare at it, which allowed his mother feed him the rest of his breakfast. His speech is a bit indistinct, but he definitely said “Butterfly” when he saw the centre picture.

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  7. I talked with 3rd Arrow a little this morning, after I wrote all this (she was still sleeping or in the shower and didn’t know I’d been up in the night, pondering these things).

    She’s thinking it would be better to just have the three games we’d planned (Diaper Bag Shuffle, Baby Sketch Artists, and guess the belly circumference) and have only one winner per game. So, we’d need some sort of way to break a tie, if that happens, as we will probably just stick to the three gifts we’d planned as prizes.

    Any ideas for a good tie-breaker? Flip a coin?

    Or other thoughts?

    This is outside of my skill set, and daughter’s never done this sort of thing, either. She’s better at such things in general, though, than I am, but we’ve had little time to connect, with both of us being so busy the last several months.

    Back to school with 5th and 6th Arrows now…

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  8. Thank you all for your kind words of congratulations. I alternately feel elated that I passed, and terrified about what comes next 🙂

    Chas, as Cheryl said, the exam information pamphlet made it clear that it was possible to fail in the first 75 questions, so that is why I was uncertain as I was not feeling confident about how I answered questions.

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  9. Caterpillars, Diaper Bag Shuffle and ice hockey. Something for everyone today so far 🙂

    Happy school vacation, Jo.

    We’ve been waiting all week for the county to post the more detailed city-by-city homeless numbers and I see they’re still not up this morning. Sigh. I have two other stories I’m working on, but this will be the big one involving several of us so we’re stuck on standby until those numbers show up. The earlier in the day they come, the better for us, of course. Worst-case scenario is that they post late in the day and we’re stuck working way past our usual hours.

    Not sure if I’m working from home or am going in — I worked in the tiny office all day yesterday and again was just left with this uncomfortable, closed-in feeling, both physically and mentally, to the point where I could hardly wait to just get OUT of there at the end of the day.

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  10. We were chuckling over the St. Louis Blues Stanley Cup win this morning, as we have a first cousin once removed who is quite a rabid Boston Bruins fan and who had been gloating (in good humoured fun) over the Bruins’ defeat of the Toronto Maple Leafs earlier in the playoffs. We knew his friends who were Leaf fans would be verbally sparring with him over the Bruins’ defeat – Leafs fans tend to not care who wins the playoffs after the Leafs have been eliminated, just so long as it is not the team who defeated the Leafs.

    But, while Toronto’s hockey team was soundly defeated once again, southern Ontarians who are sports fans (and there are a lot who are, including most of the people who live in the house where I rent) were rejoicing over a victory in basketball, as the Toronto Raptors won the NBA championship: https://www.cbc.ca/sports/basketball/nba/nba-finals-raptors-warriors-devin-heroux-championship-1.5174741

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  11. The weather is perfect today. I should get out and pull some vines while it is so low in humidity. Right now I am doing backed up laundry. I do not understand how only two people generate so much laundry. But then again, it has been awhile . . .

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  12. Beautiful day here, as well. Husband and twenty two are out strengthening the sheep pen so the ram can’t keep knocking out walls. They are using railroad ties.
    Seventeen boy is off with a friend where he spent the night after fishing
    Seventeen daughter is off to OUI.
    Eleven and thirteen have started in their seventh grade math books, because they wanted to. And doing some Bible and science, because they enjoy it. And a bit of history. They are on summer hours so only do what they want to do.

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  13. I thought you might like this.
    The Jubilee: Mobile Bay’s Summer Seafood Phenomenon
    Every summer, an extraordinary event hits the waters of Mobile Bay, but you better get up early to catch it.

    By Rick Bragg
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    Jubilee in Daphne, AL 1950s

    This jubilee took place in Daphne, Alabama, in the mid-1950s. COURTESY OF DAPHNE HISTORY MUSEUM ALABAMA
    He can try to tell it to you, tell how Mobile Bay goes calm and slick just before dawn, how the tide pushes in beneath a gentle easterly breeze that just smells different—like salt. He can tell how the mixing salt water from the Gulf of Mexico and fresh water from the Mobile-Tensaw Delta to the north just fracture somehow in that great, warm, stagnant pool and a heavier, saltier layer, low in oxygen, sinks to the bottom of the bay.

    He can tell you how the living things there, some of the best seafood in the world, feel that water go bad and seem to panic and swarm to the shallows and even pile up on the brown sand of the Eastern Shore. He’ll tell you how some old fishermen, who felt it all coming, will see the water writhe to life, and shout out a single word: “Jubilee!”

    He can tell it, can try to make you see it, but you have to be able to imagine, says Joey Gardner. People who can’t imagine can’t believe in such as this, not until they see it come ashore with their own eyes. And even then, he says, “It’s more like a dream.”

    Courtesy of The Estate of Pierce Stewart Foster

    “I was 5 or 6 years old the first time I saw it,” says Gardner, who has lived on the Eastern Shore of Mobile Bay since he was a boy. His grandmother warned him it was coming. It did every summer, at least once and sometimes two or three times, as the heat settled hard onto the Alabama coast and the water warmed to something like blood. “When the hurricane season arrives, the jubilee comes…and that’s when all the fish will come,” she told him. He said his grandma was a twin, and twins just naturally know things like that.

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    But it would last only a little while, an hour, even less. Then the ecology of the bay would just right itself, and that bounty of sea creatures (the ones not beached or gathered) would slip back into the safety of the brackish bay. The jubilee was like a gift, maybe even a blessing, the old people here liked to say, but you had to be quick to get your part
    of it. Late sleepers never ever witnessed a jubilee.

    He remembers the first time, how he woke to a great commotion in the usually quiet little city of Fairhope. People drove up and down the dark streets, shouting, mashing their car horns. Phones jangled. “Jubilee,” was all the caller had to say, and then the phone would go dead or be left swinging from the wall. People, half asleep and hastily dressed, hurried from the bungalows and cottages and old bayfront houses and down to the shore, bare-legged, with flashlight beams bouncing in the dark.

    “It was me and Johnny Miller that first time,” Gardner says. “His mama treated me like a second son. He came up out of the dark when we were in the yard and said, ‘So, you thought you’d slip off to the jubilee without me?’ I sure miss Johnny. Cancer. He was a good friend to me,” and then he goes quiet for a moment—the jubilee is how he marks time. “I remember I had a kerosene lamp, what they called a chromium lantern,” like coal miners used to wear. He recalls how they chased its circle of light down to the bay and played the beam across the shallows. The water, murky even in daylight, was teeming, alive.

    Flounder, some as big as hubcaps and in numbers beyond the counting, piled up like dinner plates in the shallows and on the sand itself, flopping, wriggling, so many that you could gig three at a time. Eels tangled into a twisted mass, so thick that a man could not plant his feet to scoop them up in a 5-gallon bucket. Catfish, thousands of them, seemed to be struggling, not to stay in the water but escape it, only to be gathered up by old women and laughing children with nets or even pots and pans. There were shrimp, rays, and other things that dwell on the bottom. But it was the crabs Gardner would never forget. “All of them were just fightin’ to get out of that bad water,” he recalls. “On the seawall, the crabs were crawling over each other. You could see them pile up, like they were trying to climb that wall. I thought
    it was the Judgment.”

    He is 66 years old now and has seen many jubilees. He has been the herald himself, tipping off newcomers, sharing the secrets and the lore. As with so many people here, it has become part of him. “I had a chance once to work for the railroad, the L&N. But you know how it is when you’re young and want to chase women,” he recalls. There was one lady whose mother, when she learned he lived here, made him promise to call her whenever the jubilee came. And a man can’t watch the water from a rail yard, of course. “I’ve been a carpenter and a plumber; I’ve driven a forklift and a bulldozer. I even worked at the paper mill,” Gardner says. He never made it on the L&N. But one or two mornings a year, he is a great fisherman with a bucket in his hand.

    “When you’re a kid here, you chase jubilees all summer,” says Tony Lowery, a marine biologist who grew up on the bay in Fairhope and wrote his graduate thesis on the jubilee. “We slept on the wharf and on the piers,” he says. They were waiting, watching for the early signs. “We would see the eels coming in, sometimes, and see flounder on the surface, like they were trying to lift their heads up out of the water.” He and his friends gathered more flounder than they could carry. “We cleaned ’em and put ’em in our freezer and had parties all summer, up and down the bay,” he says.

    Mobile Bay Jubilee

    There’s a scientific explanation for the occurrence, but it feels like magic. COURTESY OF THE ESTATE OF PIERCE STEWART FOSTER
    People who have lived here a long time say you could smell the flounder frying and crabs boiling for a mile or so. But it was never certain, never guaranteed. You could stare into the bay all night, all the conditions could be right with perfect timing, but then the wind would change or it would fail to materialize for no apparent reason at all. It was the chance in it that made it fun and has made that wonderment endure. “Even a ripple could ruin it,” says Mac Walcott, an architect and fisherman here.

    It happens in summer because that is when the bay is the most stagnant. The decomposing plants washed down from swamps and marshes feed microorganisms in the bay, which explode in population and deplete oxygen levels. “Anything
    that can’t float—that doesn’t have a swim bladder—will try to escape that ecological trap,” says Lowery. The oxygen deprivation creates a kind of stupor in the fish—a languor. They seem to wait to be taken.

    The jubilee is not an algal bloom, not like a red tide. There is no poison in it. It has been happening for as long as anyone can remember. Civil War soldiers who were scanning the bay for gunboats watched it by torchlight, amazed. The Mobile Daily Register told of the phenomenon in 1867, though it did not yet have a name. Once, before there were phones and car horns, the old salts would see the bounty approaching and ring a ship’s bell. People speak of it here with a sense of propriety—sometimes a little mysteriously, even wondrously—but almost all of them remember how their grandparents handed them a bucket (or a shrimp net) and marched them down to the shallows to glean. It was a little spooky, but it was
    also groceries.

    “I grew up with an old man—we called him ‘The Duke’—and he taught me a lot of what I know about the brackish water and the nature of fish,” says Jimbo Meador, a writer, fishing guide, and naturalist (among other things), who has been wading the Eastern Shore all his life. “Daddy hired The Duke in the summer to do odd jobs, but he also took care of me. We would go out in a rowboat and watch that tide so close when it was right for a jubilee. And when we saw it, we didn’t holler ‘Jubilee!’ We didn’t say nothin’. We gigged flounder in the head and sold ’em at the fish market.”

    His friend Skip Jones remembers a slightly more communal jubilee. “My grandparents lived in a house on Point Clear, and I moved into that same home,” says Jones, a builder, fisherman, and lover of old boats who has never lived very far from the water. Like Lowery, over the years, he learned what to watch for in the sky and on the surface of the bay. Whitecaps broke their hearts. The water needed to look like glass. “We kind of just knew, and we’d go wake the neighbors,” he says.

    Marine scientists say the jubilee occurs regularly only two spots in the world: It happens here in places like Daphne, Fairhope, Point Clear, and Mullet Point, and it’s said to occur far away in the bay waters off Japan. No one here knows what they call it in Japanese, but they’re pretty sure it’s not “jubilee.”

    The first printed reference by name was in the Mobile Daily Register, in 1912, when an old fisherman called the heaven-sent flounder and crabs a “jubilee.” It just seemed to fit, somehow. Such a thing, of course, had to have been pushed by the hand of God. The name jubilee is derived from the Hebrew word for a trumpet made from a ram’s horn, which was used to signal a kind of homecoming. In more modern times, it has become shorthand for a season of celebration. In African-American churches, it is a reference to the heavenly reward, a time of joy.

    It comes only in summer, mostly in August, usually once a year and may occur two or three or more times, always on the rising tide, before or at dawn, when the weather is overcast or the morning after a light rain. Some swear by a full moon. The scope and the makeup of the jubilee can change but rarely its duration. Often, just as soon as word has spread around, they are over.

    “I’ve been to crab jubilees and flounder jubilees,” says Gardner. Others seem to contain every bottom-feeder in the bay, sometimes even including small sharks.

    The jubilee is—as far as anyone can tell—mostly a natural thing, not something triggered by pollution. Though some people say that overbuilding here, like everywhere on the Gulf Coast, may have some effect. They say it seems like there are more of them now, not less. Others claim it’s due to the warming of the Gulf and Mobile Bay.

    Some people might not see the wonder in all of it, but they probably never spent five hours under the Alabama sun with a single line in the brackish water, praying for a croaker or a speckled trout.

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    “As a kid, it was a phenomenon,” says Jones. “I mean, usually, we were just trying to catch a couple of crabs on a line baited with chicken gizzards. Then we got up in the morning and there was a zillion of ’em. All these creatures you would normally work so hard to get ahold of—then, on a jubilee, here would come some guy pulling a skiff along the sand with 500 flounder in it. I remember once there was a family who came through the yard and said, ‘Is this a jubilee? Can we come?’ And they waded out into the water but didn’t have anything to put ’em in. I ended up giving ’em a bucket so they could empty the fish out of their pockets.”

    Landlubbers might be a little squeamish—at first.

    “Imagine all this in 3 or 4 inches of water,” says Betsy Grant, who learned about the jubilee from Gardner, who promised to alert her when it happened. She grew up in South Carolina but moved to the Mississippi Gulf Coast later in life, and then to Fairhope in 2011. “I guess I thought it was a little creepy, but I got over that fast,” she says. The crabs she saves for gumbo. The flounder she grills whole with just salt, pepper, and a little olive oil. “Don’t overcook it, or it will turn to mush,” she says.

    It is a natural thing. The people here do not feel guilty or greedy. “I’m not going to just leave fish to rot,” says Grant.

    The jubilee is so odd and wonderful and—well—distinctive that the residents here have named pretty much everything they can after it, from trailer parks to a cookbook by the Junior League of Mobile. In the Fairhope area alone, you will find a local locksmith, a glass cutter, three churches, a hardware store, two dentists, a pet hospital, a body shop, a photographer, a movie multiplex, a cleaning service, and a pediatrician. There is also Jubilee Print & Design, Jubilee Flooring & Decorating, Jubilee Auto and Marine Interiors, Jubilee Head Start, and more.

    It’s so prevalent that some of the residents are reluctant to concede that they have never actually seen one. Some might try to lie about it to belong, like pretending to vote Republican.

    But there is a rigid local protocol surrounding it all. “I didn’t develop my jubilee network,” says Walcott. If someone calls to tell you about it, they expect to see you there, a bucket in hand. “If you don’t respond—if you fail to cultivate your sources—then the phone won’t ring at 4 a.m.,” he says.

    In most other places, that would seem like a good thing. But not here.

    Walcott recalls that in the 1990s, a local radio station reported that there was a jubilee happening in Fairhope at about 8 o’clock in the morning. “Traffic backed up for miles—for nothing. It was long gone. We called it the radio jubilee,” he says.

    The people who have lived with jubilees all their lives stood beside the line of cars and shook their heads. Tourists. Landlubbers.

    Walcott has his own favorite story of the jubilee—about a young man who lives for them, waits for them, but never takes more than he can eat. In a short essay, Walcott wrote that he believes, “fish should always swim ashore, and wait at men’s feet.”

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  14. Thanks, Janice. I actually did put a similar group of photos onto a poster, but I have yet actually to list any of my photos for sale. 🙂 Roscuro, thank you. That made my day!

    Re photos: The other day when my husband and I were at the lake, I saw a fish just under the water, and clear enough I could get its photo. So I did. And posted it on Flickr. It isn’t a very good photo, just an interesting idea: stand on shore and take a photo of a creature in another world. But somehow it got into Explore, Flickr’s site that shows off content from Flickr to people thinking about joining up, or something like that. As “Explored” photos go, it hasn’t done great–I’ve seen some with tens of thousands of views, presumably from getting into Explore. And everyone who has had a photo in Explore says “It’s never my best photos that get in there!” But OK, I got a photo in Explore, and it has now had more than 4500 views and 62 Faves (my next-most-viewed photo has less than 900 views, and my next-most-faved photo has 36 Faves). So I’d rather they would have chosen a bird, or butterfly, or wildflower, but if they want to put my fish on Explore, they can have it.

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  15. There is a thunderstorm brewing out there and it has suddenly grown dark in this forest! I set out early this morning for a breakfast coffee meetup with a dear friend. We do not meet up often enough but when we do it is a sweet time of fellowship encouraging one another in our walk with the Lord. 😊
    Well I purchased a park bench glider to give to husband for Father’s Day…now I have to put it together before he returns home tomorrow evening…hope I don’t have any leftover parts when I am done!! 😏 🛠

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  16. Crazy day for homeless stories. For those interested, our councilman is going on live w/Shannon Bream(?) on Fox shortly after 8 Pacific Time tonight.

    LA’s in an uproar.

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  17. Greetings! Today was the last day of VBS. I was able to watch the program. My son is not into singing and dancing in front of a crowd.

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