Take a walk in Blue Bell Woods listen to the sounds around you, of bird song and bees. Smell the flowers and the scent of Spring in the air. Every year is a new beginning and every day a blessing

"Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts." (Colossians 3:15a NIV)I would love to hear from you, if you don't have a blog you can still comment, join google it's free. I appreciate hearing from you.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Fall is starting to show.......................

Maybe its the cooler days, maybe its because I can't wait.........I love this cool air. I love the milder weather.
Today we took the kids to the park after we had been to Mennards and got some garden stuff. We went and picked up Laura and Reina, Gerry had the day off. We headed to the park. The kids were excited and Gerry watched them while Laura and I went for a walk.
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We left them to play and took a short walk. I took some pictures as I always do.
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There are a lot of berries and if this winter is anything like last one the animals and birds will need them. Choke Cherries, Holly berries and then Blackberries and Raspberries. The Blackberries only just beginning to get ripe.
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The golden time of year, the Black Eyed Susan, the Goldenrod and then the Queen Annes Lace. So beautiful
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Then we see the Sumac is beginning to grow, its so beautiful close up. I love it when I find something extra in my pictures. See that little critter peeping out?
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Later the Sumac will turn the intense rust colour but its new right now and a pretty shade of deep rusty pink.
Well, we only took a short walk. Things to do and it was lunch time. So home we went. Tristen went home with Grandma and Reina to spend the night. They both wanted to keep playing so now for a quiet evening and I am catching up on my blogs.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Exploring old farms.........

Reina said "What adventure has Nanny in store for us today" to Laura. Well, I had found something interesting and thought it would make a nice day out. There are a lot of old farms in Northern Michigan that have been bought up by the National Park Service. They are now maintained and well kept, restored if needed and the history preserved. I found we are allowed to explore around them, just not go in them. So...........I thought why not. Laura likes old houses and the kids would love the woods and fields so off we went.
Could not find the road. It was plain as day on the map we had.
So we went into Frankfort and had lunch and rethought things. We stopped at Betsy Lighthouse because it was on the way.
Have to let the kids loose now and then when it gets too loud in the car.
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So back in the car and a more careful look this time. Turns out that the road was not where it was supposed to be. We just took another road and ended up where we needed to be. In the process we found a beach we didnt know about. So, alls well that ends well. We found our farm. The farms we were looking for were built in the late 1800s probably soon after the area was first settled. The lumber barons had moved into the area and it was all forests and the pure unsalted water of Lake Michigan. The walk to the Treat farm was 1/2 mile through beautiful woods. The original buildings still there. They had farmed the land but water was an issue, even so close to all that fresh water. Every time they dug a well the sand filled it in. They found ways to collect the water they needed. Most of the people who settled the area were German or Bohemian at that time.
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Then we saw the outbuildings and the lovely white farm house on the hill overlooking what was once farm lands and now is wildflower meadows. I could imagine the children playing in those woods and climbing the hills to the lake beyond. Mainly though it would have been very hard work.
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The material I had read said to not miss the view from the top of Old Baldy. That was a treck across the fields of wildflowers to a path of sand that led straight up through the woods. The sand was so hot. We struggled up. Laura made it to the top. I about died, I got almost to the top, had to rest and could just not make the last huge step up. My body was just too weak and shaky by then. It was almost heatstroke but not quite. I know when to quit. I was tempted to rest and plunge on but it meant getting into shade so If I had to go back may as well just start on back. Laura sent for the camera and took some shots of the spectacular view.
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The view one way was of Lake Michigan and the other way was the forest and farm lands,
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Well I slid back down into the shade and the sand felt so good that I just went the rest of the way down on my bum, just to cool off. It felt so good. It was really hot by then, really hot. Crossing back over the fields it was wonderful to get back into the woods. Laura had a look around the house while the rest of us cooled off. Sitting under a tree in the meadow the smell was divine. I could have laid down and slept, the smell of the grass and the flowers. The sound of the birds, I could have sat there all day.
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After we recovered and took a slow walk back through the beautiful woods, we decided on ice cream. So off to Empire. As we sat eating our ice cream we noticed fire engines across the way. I went and asked if the kiddo's could have a look at their stuff. There were two very cute young firemen and they said yes. There were four engines sitting there while they washed the floors in the fire house. So the kids piled out and got to get into each one in turn and were told their purpose. The highlight of Tristens day.
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Tristen was enthralled and the young man let him climb up and close the door for him. Proud as punch he was
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They saw the inside of the emergeny ambulance, Reina said "So is this like what Alex was in" and yes it was so that was a sober moment as they chewed on that piece of information. (Alex, Tristens mother and Reina's sister who died)
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After that we headed to Glen Haven.
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We stopped and admired the view and we decided we were so lucky to live in such a beautiful place as this. On to Glen Haven where we stopped at the Blacksmiths for the kids to watch him. After the fire engines Tristen was not impressed.
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I was more interested in the Barn Swallows who had a nest above where we stood I have seen the Blacksmith before. We try to make these outings interesting and educational. Reina learned to recognise a Beech tree by its bark and leaves this time out.
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We took a look at the beach, it was packed. Well it was a hot day, but oh boy, our beautiful beach that we love to enjoy to ourselves. Full of people. Ah well..........summer will come to and end and we will have it back. I don't like to sit in the heat anyway. So with that we headed home. Tired but happy with our day out. Kids were tuckered but not enough to refuse a spin at the park on the way home.
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Well Laura and I were whooped apparently they still had energy to burn.
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Saturday, July 19, 2014

Raven Hill.............

I try to find things to do with Tristen that are fun and sometimes educational. So what I was looking for was a place that handled animals and things that may be local. Could not find anything but found this place. It is called Raven Hill. It is a place to educate and amuse. So off we went. East Jordan is about and hour or so from here. We had wanted to go up to the farm market because Tristen and Reina wanted to go. They had remembered the tractor that they could play on.
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We missed our turn so stopped at Friske Orchards to see what they had while the kids played for a bit. They had been in the car awhile and time to let off steam. So then we gathered them up and set off for East Jordan. We stopped for lunch. I had a mushroom swiss burger (so did Laura) and it was very good. Kids had grilled cheese and frys and Tristen ate it all. Unusual for him.
SO we got directions while we were there and had no problem locating Raven Hill.
First off we got to see the reptiles. We happened to be there when they had a few other people so that made a nice group. The lady was knowledgeable about her charges. Chequers a corn snake. She was peach and cream rather than brown and cream like our Michigan ones are. Apparently they are colour coded to the soil.
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The snakes are all rescue situations, so they have them usually until they die. The Python we held was a small one but was heavy. There is another in there that is bigger but is cranky apparently because it had been abused. SO he stayed put
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I could not believe that Reina would not touch the snake but held the spider.
After we looked at all the animals in there we let them look around the science section. Tristen liked the musical instruments. He also liked the skulls and things.
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There was much to see and do there. We went on the trails and that was all about the surrounding trees and nature.
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They set up culteral exhibits and that usually is accompanied by lectures but not that day. We just went on our own. The kids loved the one room school house. I pretended to be the school marm. They had to ring the bell outside. I wonder if long ago little kids always wanted to ring the bell?
There were a lot of things we didn't do because it was too hot. After the hike we were rather thirsty and tired. Some of the cultures were Egypt, Easter Island, Native American and African among others. Then on the way back a path through time. That is a dinasaur foot that Tristen is standing near. They have skulls through the ages and other exhibits. Not the best but for kids they are amusing.
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On the trail besides mosquito's we found Raspberries and Blackberries. The Raspberries were ripe and delicious. I bet they get a lot of bear in there, yummy. These were by the old Caboose,
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When we had enough we took the two track off into the woods imstead of going back to the main rd. Its fun to do that. We stopped again in East Jordan, there is a glass blowing workshop there. I usually stop in if I can and we were lucky that they were working. SO the kids got to see how glass is made and blown. It was hotter than heck in there. Tristen told the man he had a very boring job. Whoops. I usually buy something but I was good.
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We went back a different way, along the shores of Lake Charleboix there must be some very rich folks living around there,by the look of some of the homes. We stopped again at Friske orchards and the kids got ice cream and we got coffee and scones, then it was off home all tired out from a fun and active day.
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Monday, July 14, 2014


I was contacted by a reporter the other day. Via email at first, he asked for my phone number and I refused. Well we all know better than to give out stuff by email right. Well he said he was from the London Telegraph and I could check his credentials. SO I did........I then gave him my number and he phoned me. Then began a very unusual conversation. His newspaper had been contacted by a lady in Japan. She had found an old autograph book that had been signed by some POW in the camp near her home. Yes, one of those men was my father. Harry Hines. So here is the article.

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Caught up in the devastation the Second World War 16-year-old Yoko Koshida found solace from air raids and food shortages in her music.
But the piano pieces she played at her window also brought comfort to a very unlikely audience – a group of Allied prisoners who gathered to listen through the barbed wire of their Japanese prison camp, just yards away.
So grateful were the men that following the Japanese surrender, they visited Yoko’s home, bringing her family gifts of desperately needed essentials. Before leaving, several of the PoWs signed their names in her autograph book, along with messages of goodwill, with one expressing the hope that “England and Japan can be friends”.
That encounter between supposed enemies stayed with Mrs Koshida – now aged 85 – and when she recently stumbled across the notebook she resolved to find the men she had played for decades earlier.
Her first step was to contact POW Research Network Japan, which catalogues the POW camps in Japan and the men they held.
Mrs Koshida also enlisted the help of The Telegraph, which – following its own investigations – can now reveal what became of the prisoners to whom her music brought such comfort.
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(Harry Hines)
The incredible story began in March 1945, after Yoko and her family left their home in Tokyo, where the firestorms unleashed by American bombing raids on the city killed between 80,000 and 130,000 civilians.
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The family found refuge in the city of Yokohama, in a house overlooking prisoner of war camp 14B. This held around 120 POW’s from Britain, the United States, Australia and the Netherlands captured by the Japanese.
Now a widow, Mrs Koshida, said: “I was very frightened when the prisoners were first brought here because they were all very tall and I had never seen a foreigner before. They were not aggressive at all; they were very quiet”
She recalls that the men, who were forced to work in factories, spent their spare time growing vegetables, though they were not above stealing from her father’s crop of cucumbers, tomatoes and aubergines.
“My father said they were starving, just like us, so he didn’t make a fuss,” she said.
Mrs Koshida, who hoped to go to music college, would practice every day, the pieces she played drifting through her open windows and down over the prison blocks. “One day, I noticed from the window that there were three men sitting on the roof of the barracks,” she said “The next day, there were a few more people with them – and the day after that there were dozens of them.”
Forbidden to communicate with the prisoners, Mrs Koshida did not wave or make eye contact with the men, but after a while she began to recognise a few of her regular listeners.
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Former British prisoner of war Harry Hines before his capture (JULIAN SIMMONDS)
Within days of Emperor Hirohito announcing Japan’s surrender on August 15, Allied aircraft began dropping food and medicine onto the camps, and one evening the men brought round tins of food as gifts for her family. Mrs Koshida said: “The bell rang and my father went down to the door. He came back with some cans of food. The prisoners wanted to give them to me because of my piano playing and they told my father that we were all friends now.”
When Allied forces arrived on August 30 to take away their men, the men made a point of returning to her home with more gifts, handing over sugar, soap and more tins of food. “They were excited,” Seized by a sudden impulse she grabbed her autograph book and asked the men to write their names and addresses.
The yellowing pages of her notebook still clearly show the names of Harry Hines, of Luton; a T. Taylor, of Ponders End in Middlesex, and Leonard Patrick Sheaf, of Enfield, Middlesex; along with that of an American from Georgia and an Australian POW from Tasmania. Mr Sheaf and Mr Taylor penned brief messages for the teenager.
“Thank you for a very nice evening. I hope to see you again. Hope England and Japan [can] be friends,” wrote Mr Sheaf. Beneath Mr Taylor’s name was written August 30, the date of their departure, and the message: “This war was a very bad thing for everyone. I would very much like them to come back and to see them again.”
Mrs Koshida said. “The war was over, they had survived and they were going home now.” Sitting at the same Mason & Hamlin grand piano she played all those years ago – still positioned by a window overlooking the site of the camp – Mrs Koshida added. “I hope they have survived all these years and, after the terrible time they had, that they are all well now. I still think I could play them some Chopin if they were able to return.”
Inspired by her wish, the Sunday Telegraph set out to discover what became of the three British PoWs who signed that autograph book and their story of capture, imprisonment and liberation is as inspiring as her own.
Records show that Mr Hines, who was born in 1917, served in the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment, having joined as a reservist before enlisting as a Sargeant in 1939, on the outbreak of war. The regiment has been expecting to be posted to the Middle East, but when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbour in December 1941, Mr Hines and his comrades were redirected to the defence of Singapore.
It was here, in February 1942, in what was one of the worst defeats inflicted on the British Army, that Mr Hines was captured by the invading Japanese.
Mr Hines’s daughter Janice recalls: “He had become separated from his regiment and at first my mother believed he was killed when Singapore fell.”
In fact Mr Hines had been taken to Omari POW camp, near Tokyo, before being transferred to Yokohama’s camp 14B. The ordeal left its scars. He was frequently beaten by guards and the poor prison diet, consisting mainly of rice, left him with lifelong stomach problems.
But Mr Hines managed to rebuild his life after the war, marrying his childhood sweetheart Irene Seabrook on his return and returning to his job as a lathe operator for an engineering firm in Dunstable, eventually rising to the position of company buyer.
In 1946 Harry and Irene had Janice, but for several years Mr Hines was haunted by his wartime experiences.
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Former British prisoner of war 'Joe' Taylor aboard a ship after the war (JULIAN SIMMONDS)
Janice Schaub, now married and living in Michigan, said: “My mother said that when he first came back he was an entirely different man. When the first jet planes started to fly overhead he would dive under the table. To him they sounded like the bombers.”
But for all his suffering Mr Hines bore no ill will towards Japan and its people.
“My father lived a life without hatred,” said Mrs Schaub, 68. “He always judged people by their character rather than their nationality. He remembered Japan as a beautiful country and in later years had even planned to go back, because he wanted to see Mount Fuji.”
Unfortunately Mr Hines died at the age of 67, in April 1985, before being able to fulfil his ambition.
His comrade 'T. Taylor’ was, we discovered, Thomas 'Joe’ Taylor, who was captured with his regiment, the Royal Engineers, when the Japanese invaded the British colony of Hong Kong, in December 1941.
Mr Taylor later told his family how he suffered terribly from the cold at camp 14B, having been issued with just one blanket. After the war he stayed in the Army until 1957, when he went on to work for the Foreign Office, coordinating security at embassies. This saw him posted around the world, including Cuba, China and Nigeria, with his wife Hazel, who he married in 1953.
But his favourite posting was, surprisingly perhaps, to Japan, where he served at the British embassy from 1976 to 1979. Mrs Taylor, now 92 and living in Hampshire in a house filled with Japanese prints and decorative dolls, said: “He was very fond of Japan in the end. He got on very well with the people. In fact we made more friends there than anywhere else.”
Mr Taylor never told the Japanese he met that he had once been their POW. His widow, who remains in contact with several of the Japanese friends she taught English during their stay in Tokyo, said: “He didn’t hold any resentment against the ordinary Japanese.”
The story of Mr Sheaf, the third Briton in the group, remains more of a mystery. In the autograph book Leonard Patrick Sheaf gives his address as one in Enfield which records show a man with the same name shared with his father Leonard, mother Alice and brother Patrick before the war.
But Mr Sheaf’s son John, 41, said he knew nothing about his father being a Japanese POW. “I’m sure its something he would have said. We always thought he’d been evacuated to Northern Ireland as a teenager and joined the merchant navy after the war. We don’t know anything about him being in Japan” he said, adding however: “Funnily enough he was a great fan of Japanese culture. He liked how respectful and honourable they were.”
The question remains whether any of the men told their loved ones, on their return to Britain, of the girl who played the piano? It seems not. But their families can easily imagine the comfort her playing brought. “It must have been something for them to really look forward to each day,” said Mrs Schaub. “Something as nice as that.”
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Well that was the article. We talked about a lot more and there is much more to tell.
In brief my father was caught when Singapore fell, he was kept at Changi prison before being shipped (on the death ships) to Japan where he was for a time in Omari. He apparently spent the Spring and summer of 45 in the camp near Yokohama.
If you read the comments to the article some people take issue that those particular prisoners did not hate the Japanese. They assume they were not misstreated, but they were. My dad was beaten on more than one occasion. He told me that he was kept at bayonet point while holding a chair straight out in front of him for a very long time. They were starved and ate rats. He was ducked in a barrel of water, being held under. Some of the Japanese were cruel that is true. The last camp was a little bit better it seems and he worked in a factory for a short time. That is where he heard this lovely lady playing her piano. The other camps were not so easy, if that one was indeed easy. He told me stories but not many. Mainly stories of human interest. Some were not so nice but he said it was War, and it is war that is the problem. He said the Japanese people were no differnt to us. Some soldiers were just men doing what they had to do, others were indeed brutes. So were the Germans. So were we and so today we have that same type of man in our military. Cruelty has no nationality. He taught me to judge people by charactor not nationality or religion. My dad was a good man. Many of the things he saw and did haunted him. He felt some things were unforgivable and it was when he learned about our Saviour Jesus Christ, and how He died that we should be forgiven for those unforgiveable things, that Dad finally found peace with the war years. He wanted to go back and see that beautiful country in peace time but died before he made the trip.
The next picture is of my Dad and two brothers who also served in that war. Their other brother Cecil was still getting out of the army on this occasion, pictured in this picture.....Harold Hines, Harry Hine and Alan Hines I am still trying to identify the other man. My grandmother must have been a saint, she had army men billeted in her home, they had a German POW living with them. She always had a stew pot on the stove. Food was short for them too but she managed all the while her sons, all but one son was away at war. What a time that had to have been.
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Saturday, July 12, 2014

summer days..................

It's too hot and humid today, I was planning on working in the garden but.........well here I am instead. On Thursday Laura, Reina and Tristen went with me to Elk Rapids. There were so many places we wanted to stop but, not with kids. Laura and I need a day off by ourselves. I love the art galleries and the little boutiques and shops. The antique shops and all that..........instead, we packed their scooters and headed out. We got to Elk Rapids and got out the scooters, Tristen headed the wrong way......Reina headed for the playground.
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Its so pretty there and the water levels are up high.
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It was cool so we had no intention of them getting in the water and besides that we were going other places. Some people were making the most of it though
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We bribe them with playgrounds to keep them interested and there was one in each town we were to visit so........
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Wear them out is my motto
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we walked up to the park by the river and watched some baby bunnies while they rode around on their scooters again. They don't look small in the picture but they were, and adorable
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The river was calm and beautiful, some kids were enjoying it.........we went over the bridge so they could ride further
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The town was all dressed out with flowers. They have lovely small gardens that are well tended.
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A nice shady places to sit and rest while shopping.
We left there and went to Alden. I did a post on Alden when I went with Edna. We had lunch at the same place. The kids ate voraciously and Laura and I cleared our plates too. I had promiced to take then in a store where they had some really cool toys and gifts. That was where I got my glass last time. Well we left them choosing a toy while we looked around. The store meanders around in a circle of rooms so we could creep up on them from another direction to be sure they were behaving. Well we want to go back at Christmas time to shop, they stay open until January so we should be able to do that. We bought their toys and before we left we stopped in the Mill house gardens. I just had to show Tristen the skeleton. He hid behind Reina
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He was perplexed and had questions..........then off we went. There are lovely shops. We went in a couple but its hard with kids, so we didn't linger. IN this town they are nice enough to provide seating for those who wait.
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There is a butterfly garden and I always stop
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There is one shop I just had to show Laura. It is expensive and would not really fit in with our life styles. If I had an occasion to dress up then I would go in there. They have just wonderful things. Every single thing is a work of art. The shoes, flowers, bags, jewelry and beautiful boxes. We could not stop because, know, dirty fingers and all that. Had to make them "not touch" I am sure the attendents were very nervous and so were we. Still I had to show her. This shop picks fresh flowers for their door every day.
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We stopped at the park as promiced and we got ice cream. I think they were happy with their day. On the way home we took a detour so we could go look at Lake Skegemog. We took a dirt road. Look at these cool barns.
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What a great place to have a home and boy were there some big houses back there with gated roads. Then cottages along the lake as well. The road wound back through cherry orchards and we saw some Sandhill Cranes in among them. Later we were driving with open windows, we like to hear the birds etc and I was eyeball to eyeball with a mama deer and her baby. We didn't stop in time so by the time we backed up she had taken the baby into the woods so no picture
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She was the only deer we saw that day, and what a beauty she was.
When we left and were on our way home we stopped to check on Alexandra's grave. It was pretty good. We do need to go back and update the wreath. Maybe next week. She is looking pretty for now with the Day lillies blooming and the geraniums.
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The kids are getting tall and I can see him growing up with Reina and it's sort of sad that she is not here to see them. Reina is so much like's amazing.
Sharing with anything Blue Friday
The Dedicated House
I am also sharing with Inspire me Monday at Create with Joy
Thank you to all the lovely people who host these parties
Also partying at dear little red house's Mosaic Monday