Forgotten Cookies

I’ve been making these cookies since the 1980s and they are still a family favorite. The recipe was given to me by a sweet elderly neighbor, Helen Peters. I think of her each time that I make them which includes today. They are easy. Give this recipe a try!

Forgotten Cookies

2 egg whites at room temperature
3/4 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1 cup of chopped pecans
1 cup of semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven at 350 degrees. Line cookie sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper.

Beat egg whites until foamy. Slowly add sugar and continue beating until mixture is stiff. Mix in vanilla. Fold in nuts and chips. Drop by teaspoon onto prepared cookie sheet. Place in oven and immediately TURN OVEN OFF. Leave overnight. Makes approximately 2 dozen cookies.

Behind the Scenes

Friends

Most of us, if not all, have friends. There are many kinds of friends and we need all kinds. Some we party with, with others we may share our deepest secrets. There are those who call and check on us if they have not heard from us in a while. Some help us fix things and if we are lucky there is at least one who provides us with a delicious meal now and then. All are needed. All are valuable and precious. We strive to be the kind of friend others need.

Recently I’ve had an opportunity to appreciate “behind the scenes” friends. They are precious people in our lives who may even be related to us and they give quietly with no thought of repayment. 

A few hours prior to an event recently I saw men and women working hard arranging tables, chairs, and decorations. I saw linen tablecloths being steamed and candles being lit. People were delivering food and drinks. It was hot. Each person was red-faced and sweaty, but it was an act of love. These are friends who should never be overlooked, working without fanfare, giving of themselves. 

Fred Rogers, a.k.a. Mr. Rogers said when he was scared his mother always told him to look for the helpers. That was good advice. Many times we must look behind the scenes to find them. 

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“I get by with a little help from my friends.” John Lennon

Theme photo in title by Pixabay

 

On the Day I Die

A poem written by John Pavolitz

On the Day I Die

On the day I die a lot will happen.
A lot will change.
The world will be busy.

On the day I die, all the important appointments I made will be left unattended.
The many plans I had yet to complete will remain forever undone.
The calendar that ruled so many of my days will now be irrelevant to me.
All the material things I so chased and guarded and treasured will be left in the hands of others to care for or to discard.
The words of my critics which so burdened me will cease to sting or capture anymore. They will be unable to touch me.
The arguments I believed I’d won here will not serve me or bring me any satisfaction or solace.  
All my noisy incoming notifications and texts and calls will go unanswered. Their great urgency will be quieted.
My many nagging regrets will all be resigned to the past, where they should have always been anyway.
Every superficial worry about my body that I ever labored over; about my waistline or hairline or frown lines, will fade away.
My carefully crafted image, the one I worked so hard to shape for others here, will be left to them to complete anyway.
The sterling reputation I once struggled so greatly to maintain will be of little concern for me anymore.
All the small and large anxieties that stole sleep from me each night will be rendered powerless.
The deep and towering mysteries about life and death that so consumed my mind will finally be clarified in a way that they could never be before while I lived.
These things will certainly all be true on the day that I die.
Yet for as much as will happen on that day, one more thing that will happen.
On the day I die, the few people who really know and truly love me will grieve deeply.
They will feel a void.
They will feel cheated.
They will not feel ready.
They will feel as though a part of them has died as well.
And on that day, more than anything in the world they will want more time with me.
I know this from those I love and grieve over.
And so knowing this, while I am still alive I’ll try to remember that my time with them is finite and fleeting and so very precious—and I’ll do my best not to waste a second of it.
I’ll try not to squander a priceless moment worrying about all the other things that will happen on the day I die, because many of those things are either not my concern or beyond my control.
Friends, those other things have an insidious way of keeping you from living even as you live; vying for your attention, competing for your affections.
They rob you of the joy of this unrepeatable, uncontainable, ever-evaporating Now with those who love you and want only to share it with you.
Don’t miss the chance to dance with them while you can.

 It’s easy to waste so much daylight in the days before you die.
Don’t let your life be stolen every day by all that you believe matters, because on the day you die, much of it simply won’t.
Yes, you and I will die one day.
But before that day comes: let us live.

 

Theme photo in title by Pixabay

 

Black & White

Her wardrobe is almost exclusively black and white, but I did not notice this over the several months that I had known her. In fact, it wasn’t until that day when I was looking deeply into her eyes. She was grieving the death of a family member and needed someone to listen to her sorrow. 

While she spoke of her loved one’s last hours tears brimmed over her lower lids and as I watched in empathy I almost expected her dark eyes to stain the tears and leave a trail on her cheeks. Her eyes were inky black. Solid black so that I could not discern the pupil from the iris. It was then that I noted the contrast of her white hair. At 78 she was beautiful in black and white. 

“When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight. Some of you say, ‘Joy is greater than sorrow,’ and others say, ‘Nay, sorrow is the greater.’ But I say unto you, they are inseparable.” Khalil Gibran

 

Theme photo in title by Pixabay

Nancy

Marilyn, Helen and Janet – Friends of Mine

I have a lovely neighbor who I’ve known for five years. Her name is Nancy. For some reason each time I think of her I think her name is “Marilyn.” She doesn’t look like a Marilyn and I have no idea why this thought comes to me. 

Several years ago I met a very nice friend of my daughter’s and her name is also Nancy. I immediately started calling her “Helen.” She does look like a Helen, I think, but it is not the name her parents chose for her.

Last year a met a friend of a friend whose name is . . . you guessed it, Nancy. Guess what I thought her name was? “Janet,” I called her Janet in emails about our meeting. I still think of her as Janet. Since she is a Viet Nam vet I’m very glad that she is so pleasant and understanding.

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After much thought, I believe I have figured out what is wrong with me concerning this name. As I shared in a post on October 26th of last year, once I was Nancy. 

https://crookedcreek.live/2017/10/26/halloween-then/

Theme graphic in title by Pixabay

 

Cats 2

Elliott

Perhaps I should have known something was up when the person who was fostering Elliott insisted that she would deliver him to us in spite of our plans to pick him up. She also discouraged my naming him Zack. She assured me that he knew his name as Elliott. I had thought that Zack and Zoe would be so cute, but I didn’t want to confuse him, so I agreed that he would stay Elliott. As it turned out I don’t think he knew his name for about a year after he came to live with us.

When he was delivered our friends, Mike and Debbie were visiting. I thought the least upsetting for Elliott would be to turn him out of the carrier and into a room where he could be alone without us humans around, so we put him in an upstairs room with food and water and closed the door. In about an hour I checked on him to find that he had chewed or clawed a large piece of trim from the door frame in an attempt to get out. This was just the beginning. 

Dysfunction

When Zoe spotted this stranger in our midst she retreated to the top of our spare refrigerator in the basement. She practically lived in that private loft for the next couple of years. When she did venture down to eat or use the litter box Elliott wasn’t mean to her, but he stalked her. He followed her closely as she scratched and hissed at him. At times she made horrible screaming sounds and at others, she cursed in a low guttural growl. He was just a guy confused by his lack of popularity with this feline housemate. But, Elliott was a lover! He jumped into our laps, he cuddled, he purred. In spite of his concern for Zoe, my husband, Raymond, bonded quickly with Elliott. 

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Within a few days, we took Elliott to the Shelbyville Road Veterinary Clinic to become an established patient where our pets had been cared for about ten years . Unfortunately, the examination revealed that Elliott had a heart murmur. During a later ultrasound, we learned that he had two septal defects, a.k.a. holes in his heart. We were devastated, not knowing what that meant for his long-term survival. The doctors would monitor his condition and advised us to keep him from becoming overweight. 

The Humane Society did the right thing and offered to take Elliott back but it was too late. We loved this cat in spite of all the trouble he brought with him. We were hooked on Elliott. Even Zoe was becoming a little more tolerant even though reclusive. A few years later when we moved to a condo she lost her basement sanctuary and has never been as happy. In fact, she has had a couple of stress-related illness, but she is resilient. She has managed to tolerate this big clumsy roommate for ten years now. 

And, that presents another challenge. Zoe is thin. Elliott is not. Leaving food out all the time is necessary for her, but detrimental to his need to be on a limited calorie diet. So, we continued our dysfunctional ways, loving both cats and trying to provide equal attention and devotion. 

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My Point?

If I have one, I suppose it is that pets are a big responsibility. They require our time and a fair amount of work. They also deserve humans who are knowledgeable about their needs and compatibilities. It is not enough that we care and that we want to rescue at-risk animals. We need to be well informed of their needs. We owe them the same love and devotion they give to us. 

We have done our best to care for both of these cats, but if I am honest I know that Zoe was much happier as an only cat. We didn’t know that at the time we adopted Elliott, so we’ve tried to be responsible to both of them. Now as I care for them alone, I do my best to give them what they need.

The Best Part

We have adapted to the changes in life, a cat added, a smaller home, the loss of a caregiver and we’re still a family. Zoe still curses. Elliott still stalks. But, we have love. 

The cats do yoga with me most mornings. Elliott sleeps with me at night. We have neighbors and relatives who care for them if I need to be away for a few days. I would not take anything for my two cats regardless of the work and expense. They have made my life happier and I trust that is mutual. 

 

Part 2 of 4

 

Theme photo in title by Kate Puckett Elliott

 

WALK

 

Out of Darkness

Yesterday when my alarm blared, the morning was cool and extremely foggy. As I lifted my sore body off the warm bed it was impossible to decide which of its parts was more painful. Two days ago I took a hard fall and was lucky to find nothing broken as two nice folks helped me to my feet. Brisk walking two to three miles or more a day has been my main exercise for the past few years. I generally avoid sidewalks, keeping to the nature trails in the nearby Parklands. https://www.theparklands.org/Parks/Pope-Lick-Park  I should have stuck to that plan because once again my walk had been rudely interrupted by concrete here in my neighborhood. 

During the past two painful days, I had tried to decide whether I would be able to keep my commitment to participate in the “Out of Darkness” walk sponsored by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention* (AFSP).  I was pre-registered and looking forward to walking with the group I had recently joined, so I decided to give it a try and I am so glad that I did, even though I did not quite make the entire course. 

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Almost 600 people were gathered at the Waterfront Park here in Louisville to raise funds for suicide prevention and to promote education about suicide awareness. Tens of thousands more walked across this country. It was humbling to be in the company of so people who had been touched by suicide. We walked in remembrance. We walked in unity with survivors. We walked simply to give support, both emotional and financial.

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Walking is good exercise, even for the clumsy, but walking in collaboration with others for an important cause was worth the extra effort it took yesterday. 

Earlier this year I wrote several blog posts on the subject of death and on March 1, specifically about suicide. It is a tough subject to discuss and I will always be grateful for the person who allowed me to post the eulogy that she gave for her mother who died in December of 2014 as the result of suicide. I hope that you will read or re-read that post, https://crookedcreek.live/2017/03/01/death-suicide/ because the words written by Laurie Lamb Ray more clearly express the need for suicide awareness than I ever could. Her heartbreakingly candid account of her Mom’s depression provides a window on this subject we scarcely encounter. Yesterday I walked for Laurie’s Mom, Marilyn, and for my cousin David, both of whom I sincerely miss.

 

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Our Team

 

 

https://afsp.org

 

 

2017

Tonight’s Halloween Party

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Our hosts – Dianne and Floyd, Allison with her Papa’s guitar, Kate surprised us by #1 driving down from Indianapolis & #2 red hair rather than her recent blue, and there were many cute kids of all ages including “Michael Jackson.”  We missed Charlotte and Elizabeth and several of our other regulars tonight. 

OK, that’s it, no more Halloween talk. . . . at least not for a long, long, time. All I had to do was put on that lame tee shirt and I’m still tired! 

Hope you all had a fun and safe Halloween, too. 

NOW

Halloween 21st Century Upgrade

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In 1999 Dianne married Floyd Bynum and soon after they began to host a Halloween party each year.  They sensationally exceed anything we did back back in the day.        

Their Open House is always decorated inside and out with lights, color, frightful moving objects and sounds. They create original costumes and outdo themselves with festive and sometimes scary food. 

Since the party is always on Halloween night regardless of the day that falls on, we get to enjoy Trick or Treaters who come to the door in droves. I love to see the kids of all ages with creative costumes ranging from preschoolers dressed as their favorite cartoon characters to teens, sometimes dressed as TV personalities or political figures.

This annual party is for friends, neighbors, and relatives of all ages. When October begins I start looking forward to what imaginative invitation will be received. These are a few of my favorites. 

Some of my costumes over the years have included a bag lady, “cereal” killer, camouflaged hunter and the wolf who ate Grandma, but these days I make do with a Halloween tee.  Speaking of costumes here are just a few: 

 

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If there was a prize it would have to go to Kate as Garden Statue from “Dr. Who”          Photo by Allison Puckett

 

 

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Kate as Corpse Bride                              Photo by Allison Puckett

 

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Photo by Allison Puckett

 

 

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Elizabeth as Cleopatra

 

It’s a little late to plan a big party this year, but if you are not tired of Halloween you have through Sunday, November 5 this year to take in the Louisville Jack O Lantern Spectacular at Iroquois Park. I promise you that it is worth the effort. The display of artistic pumpkin carving must be seen to be believed. Check it out! http://www.jackolanternlouisville.com

                             Jack O Lantern Photos by Allison Puckett

HAPPY HALLOWEEN EVERYONE ! ! !

THEN

Halloween Then

Country in the 40s

The earliest memory I have of Halloween was when we still lived on Crooked Creek. Trick or Treating had not been heard of back then, or at least not in rural Anderson County. I am surprised to recall going to a Halloween Party at Mt. Vernon Baptist Church. I have no idea whether this was a regular event because I only remember that one. Even some adults were dressed in costumes or “false faces” which is what we called masks. I told my mother that I wanted to dress up as Nancy, a little girl in the daily comics. I always looked for Nancy in my grandfather’s paper, but only after he had finished all the sections. I learned very young that nobody messed with Pappy’s Courier-Journal which he read each day from the front page to the back.

 

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Nancy By Ernie Bushmiller 

 

My mom agreed and I have no idea what we came up with for a costume. All I remember is, and this part is hauntingly vivid, she hung a sign around my neck that read simply “Nancy.”

Town in the 50s

We moved to Taylorsville when I was around seven years old, and I’m not sure Mom was any more creative by then, but I certainly recall being introduced to the Trick or Treat tradition by my new friends. What a dream come true that a bunch of kids could put on false faces and go from house to house for hours collecting free candy! This town life was proving to be incredible! Such innocence.

The Burbs During the 60s

As we all know, time passes swiftly and soon I was the mother of kids to dress up for Halloween. Raymond and I lived in a new subdivision in Jeffersontown and it was the perfect place for our two young daughters to go out begging for treats. What fun we all had! In our family, Halloween became a time almost as celebrated as Christmas. We planned ahead, decorated, stocked up on candy to hand out and of course let our girls decide who or what they wanted to be on that scary night. Their dad and I would take turns going out with the Trick or Treaters or staying at home to hand out treats to the many children who rang our doorbell.

After a very long search today I was able to locate and scan pictures of Dianne and Allison on two of those years when they were still quite young. It is interesting to note that the oldest, Dianne, dressed up as a princess both years. Do we see a pattern here?

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Amid all these happy memories one particular Halloween stands out that went awry. Our youngest, Allison, who was always quite . . . we’ll say, “active”, ran toward a neighbor’s door, tripped over a bike and ended we up at the old Kosair Children’s hospital where she received a few stitches in her chin. For years she showed off the scar as a badge of her fierceness.

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In a few years, innocence gave way to suspicion and worry, after reports began to surface regarding all kinds of perverted “tricks” being played by adults. The TV news warned of poisons and sharp objects being imbedded into candy and other treats. At that point, parents began to ban eating anything collected until they had carefully examined each item. It even came to the point where local hospitals were x-raying the treat bags as a free service. In spite of this Halloween has survived and is still a fun time for most families with small children.

The truth is, we like to scare and be scared. We like a time to pretend we are someone or something else, maybe someone daring like a superhero or frightening such as a vampire or serial killer.

Did you Trick or Treat as a child? If so, what was your favorite costume or memory?

CHANGE

Change Happens

Depending on our age we may have seen tremendous changes in our lifetime. I doubt that change is as evident to younger adults or that they have time to give it much consideration in their busy lives. As a retired person though, I have time to contemplate such trivial topics. This subject came to me yesterday as I walked past a soccer game and observed young parents dividing their attention between their kids playing on the field and the screens of their smartphones. I thought back many years to when I watched my children playing and while my mind may have wandered (ok, it did wander) I would not have been distracted by an electronic device as we are today. As I continued walking it dawned on me that because of these ubiquitous phones we no longer need to wear a watch, although we are likely to be wearing an activity tracker that includes the time along with our number of steps, miles, heart rate and other data. The same is true of alarm clocks, maps, calculators, newspapers, cameras and so much more made redundant by this one small gadget.

I might have first genuinely appreciated the changes that a lifetime can hold while talking to my stepfather when I was fifty or so and he was in his eighties. We were in the milking barn at his dairy farm and he was sitting comfortably in a leather recliner watching an automatic feeding system advance food to each cow patiently waiting in her stanchion. As the conveyor belt moved food and hay down the length of his modern barn I recalled my childhood seeing my father in his small barn where he did everything by hand including milking each cow twice a day. This was change, this was progress, but it still made me a little sad.

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Is change Good?

Overall, change is good though, right? For the most part, I believe that it is, but we cannot deny that with progress has come loss. In my own lifetime, certain things come to mind that I wish I could experience again, for example not only being with Dad as he worked the farm, but wading in Crooked Creek with its sandy bottom and creepy crawfish, swinging with my cousin, Pat, on our grandparents front porch, riding my bike all over town with my best friend, Jeanie. Those years of innocence and discovery are the ones I miss most from my youth. I also miss the simplicity of my daughters’ childhoods growing up in a subdivision filled with other young families where they played outdoors with friends and each day held new experiences. We cannot go back, but I am grateful for memories of each phase of life. I may be through making scrapbooks, but I’m not through making memories even though they are peppered with jokes about age, lamenting the loss of height and trying to keep up with medical appointments.

I refuse to be intimidated by change, by technology or by the things that have been lost over time. Change may not always be welcome, but it is inevitable.

How about you? What are your thoughts about change? Again, more to come!

“The secret of change is to focus all of yor energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”  Socrates

 

Part 1 of 4

 

Photos by Pixabay

Seasons

“The coming and going of the seasons give us more than the springtimes, summers, autumns, and winters of our lives. It reflects the coming and going of the circumstances of our lives like the glassy surface of a pond that shows our faces radiant with joy or contorted with pain.” Gary Zukav

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Inertia

When I ended the last post I stated “more to come!” with an exclamation point no less. I was excited to go forward and begin our second year in Crooked Creek, but that was three weeks ago. There are times that no inspiration comes. I want to write but cannot seem to start, much less complete anything meaningful. It is not that I do not have ideas or opinions (you know I have opinions), but that I am overcome by inertia. That is the best way I know to describe my chronic depression. It is a bit like I imagine being stuck in quicksand would be, wanting desperately to move, but not being able. Something very powerful holds me back with arms of steel. I know I need to act, to move but it is extremely difficult to do and so much easier to sleep instead. During these past few weeks, I have not taken my daily walks at the park that I enjoyed all summer. It is not possible to explain the reason, or whether there is a reason. Every single act takes all the power I possess, whether it is to prepare food, interact with friends or show up for appointments. Daily life is fatiguing during these times as is the effort of trying to appear as though nothing is wrong. 

A few close friends and of course, family members are aware of this lifelong struggle. I share it with you (readers) today in the hope that it will benefit you or someone you know. If you live with clinical depression please know that you are not alone. If someone you care about is depressed perhaps this will help you to understand their actions or lack thereof. Their lethargy, their cancellations, their lifelessness when you feel they should be excited has nothing to do with you. If they see their doctors and counselors and take prescribed medication then they are trying and likely to get better. Depression cycles, sometimes triggered by external events, but often without obvious reason. 

Seasons

Speaking of cycles, I find it hard to believe that it is October! Can you believe summer is over and we are well into autumn? The past couple of days I did some walking in my neighborhood but found it not worth the effort. Today I returned to my beloved Pope Lick in the Parklands and what a difference it made. Since I was last there flowers have changed, grasses have dried and leaves have fallen. I glimpsed only a couple of very small butterflies. A tiny squirrel was the only animal to show its face and I don’t think that was on purpose, but because of the necessity of gathering for the coming winter. The golden finches seem to be gone. Walnuts are ripe and thumping to the ground below. 

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The cool breeze and temperatures in the 60s made walking in the sunshine so easy. Before I knew it I had walked almost 3.5 miles and I was not particularly tired. It is important for me to remember today’s walk and the inspiration that being in nature provided. For me, it was more invigorating than a massage or one of those healthy kale smoothies or even church. Winter is coming, but the sky is still blue, the air is refreshing and there are weeks of majesty ahead before the next season which will have its own splendor. 

Finally, I must remember with Tom Brokaw, “In the seasons of life, I have had more than my share of summers.”

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“Expect to have hope rekindled. Expect your prayers to be answered in wondrous ways. The dry seasons in life do not last. The spring rains will come again.”                                        Sarah Ban Breathnach

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If you desire more information about depression you may want to read this blog post by John Pavlovitz: http://johnpavlovitz.com/2017/05/10/one-reason-to-keep-living-fighting-depression/

Year One

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Year One on Crooked Creek

On August 30, 2016, Crooked Creek, the blog, was first published. At that time I invited some friends and family to check it out. Good friends and family members did just that and I am so grateful for each one. In addition, readers who I did not and still, do not know are reading as a result of referrals or by chance. I am so honored to have each of you onboard and I thought you might be interested in some of the statistics that have been collected over the past year. 

Statistics

WordPress, the foundation I use (rent) for Crooked Creek, provides very detailed stats and I find these helpful as I write and post, but I will provide just a few here because they are probably less important to you. 

    • As of this date last year I had posted six times and had received 24 comments on those posts 
    • The most popular day was August 24 with 17 visitors and 49 views
    • July was the month with the most likes (35)
    • People from 28 different countries have read the blog
    • As of today there are 73 followers

Since this is my first blog, I do not know if these statistics are good or average or poor, but I am pleased nevertheless. I like to write, I love to share ideas, thoughts, questions, and stories and there would be little satisfaction without you, the reader. Another aspect of blogging that the stats do not reflect is the hard work and frustration involved. There are things the platform will not allow, changes that need to be made that are impossible and elements that I still do not understand. Some of the mishaps and mistakes are obvious to you and some are not, perhaps, e.g., I accidentally lost the photos of the last twenty or so posts. Some could be replaced and some were deleted permanently from my photo files so that revision of the posts was required. 

Obviously, it is worth the effort for me since we are now over one year in existence and this is post #51. I appreciate each of you and take seriously the time you take to read and comment on Crooked Creek. There is more to come!

 

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Thank You, Dear Readers!