On Toasting April


April is here. For us in the northern hemisphere, it’s a time for showers and spring flowers. Leaves return to the barren trees and green grass emerges from its slumber. Migrating birds return to the summer home they share with year-round residence, and day and night air fills with familiar sounds that have been absent.

April is also a time for celebrations – a month to increase awareness about cancer control, Cesareans, irritable bowels, alcohol, autism, math, habitats, multiple births, heartworm, Parkinson’s, stress, pet first aid, testicular cancer, sexually transmitted diseases, DNA, genomics, & stem cells.

April is a time for month-long promotions about greyhound adoption, amateur radio, car care, welding, community spirit, home improvement, card & letter writing, facial protection, landscape architecture, safe digging, and rebuilding.

April is a month to appreciate couples, frogs, military children, decorating, holy humor, guitars, jazz, humor, kites, poetry, straw hats, and smiles.

April is a time to celebrate Food Month while cherishing culinary delights as soft pretzels, cranberries & gooseberries, grilled cheese sandwiches, BLTs, tomatillos, Asian Pears, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, pecans, and soy foods.

April celebrates Knuckles Down and provides 30 opportunities to issue a Twit Award.

April always starts with All Fools Day. I love this classic video that aired in the UK on April 1, 1957. (Start at 30 seconds) Enjoy – and good luck with finding a fool today.

On Ushering in 2014


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Believe it or not, no alcohol is associated with that video!

I recall watching the Mummer’s Day celebration from Philadelphia on New Years’ Day. After all, there’s something about a band of saxophones, banjos, and accordions with extraordinary outfits that capture my fancy. Yes, I am a Mummers-want-to-be from afar. However, nobody does this song better than a Mummers band.

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Once again, nobody in that video was influenced by alcohol. For those wanting more Mummers, here’s a melody of tunes with better sound quality.

How is your final week of 2013?

Following successful handbell ringing on Christmas Eve, we had a low-key Christmas Day afternoon with my father-in-law. A few days later, the three of us traveled cross-state to my sister-in-law’s home for the weekend – thus why you haven’t seen me. Meanwhile, we continue with preparing to sell our home and packing for the whenever-it-will-be move.

Glad to see that readers have been enjoying my Exploring series. Given the mid-week holiday, three more posts will finish the week before I return to my routine.

Given a new month and a new year, your calendars are eagerly anticipating new entries, so enjoy this bountiful list of celebrations!

(2014) Year of Crystallography, Year of Family Farming, Year of the Horse, Year of Small Island Developing Status

Month-long celebration for January include polka, soup, hobbies, eye health, book, hot tea, volunteer blood donor, life, Ok to be different, personal self-defense, wheat bread, candy, swapping soup, reaching your potential, oatmeal, letter writing, bath safety, get over it, bald eagles, mail order gardening, stamp collectors autism awareness, creativity, crime stoppers, bread machine baking,

(Wed) Guapo Surfing Day, Bad Hangover Day, Bowling Day, Copyright Law Day, Commitment Day, Ellis Island Day, Euro Day, First-Foot day, Global Family Day, Polar Bear Plunge Day, Bloody Mary Day, Surnames-Beginning-with-Z Day, Bonza Bottler’s Day

(Thurs) Buffet Day, Swiss Cheese Day, Motivation and Inspiration Day, Personal Trainer Awareness Day, Science Fiction Day, Cream Puff Day

(Fri) Chocolate Covered Cherry Day, Festival of Sleep Day, Drinking Straw Day, Humiliation day

(Sat) Spaghetti Day, Dimpled Chat Day, Tom Thumb Day, Trivia Day, Braille Day, Hypnotism Day, Free Flower Basket Day,

(Sun) Whipped Cream Day, Bean Day, Bird Day, Second-Hand Wardrobe Day

Hope everyone has a safe New Years’ Eve, and cheers to good health and spirits for 2014! Happy New Year!

On Virginia and Santa Claus

Interfaith graphic by Justice St. Rain (Bahá’í Community) of Interfaith Resources

Interfaith graphic by Justice St. Rain (Bahá’í Community) of Interfaith Resources

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.

Yes, Virginia, when I was your age, I believed in Santa – then I questioned – and then I did not believe for a long time – but I was older when I realized Santa Claus is real.

Yes, Virginia, we link Santa Claus to a Christian holiday, but because of Santa, many celebrate Christmas who aren’t Christians.

Yes, Virginia, Santa is important because he is a spirit for all of humanity. He’s not White, Black, Hispanic, or Asian … He may be all of those or whoever someone wants him to be because Santa is for everyone.

Yes, Virginia, we link Santa Claus to St. Nicholas (a Christian saint), but the gift of giving and kindness is important to not just to Christians, but to Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Hindus, Atheists, Agnostics, Secular Humanists, and all the religions of all the people throughout the big, wonderful world.

Yes, Virginia, some loudly complain about a war on Christmas, buy they do not give Santa much credit.

Yes, Virginia, in the spirit of Santa Claus, I want to give gifts to my readers and anyone who visits this post because I believe there are so many good people throughout the world – and kindness is something all of us have in common.

Yes, Virginia, I want anyone to take as many gifts under this tree as the they want – as long as they tell me in a comment – and they can return as often as they want for more! Yes Virginia, giving is important.

To my fellow Christian friends, Merry Christmas – and we also know what else we are celebrating – and that is important to us to remember.

To all, may the spirit kindness of the holiday season touch each of you … and thanks for all of your doses of Santa kindness that you deliver to my little corner of the world throughout the year and in the time to come.

Yes, Virginia, Santa is about Peace on Earth and Goodwill to All!

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Many of us are grown up now, but Michael Buble shares a Grown Up Christmas List through clips of classic movies about the holidays.

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This Bing Crosby classic song is a wonderful tradition.

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Lights are one of the joys of the season, so here’s a house serving as a background to an acoustic guitar version of The First Noel by Trans Siberian Orchestra

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Several years ago, Lynn (Composer in the Garden) wrote Father Time, and this is a good opportunity to share her spirit of the season.

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To many, handbells are a sound of the season. Here is a fast-paced version of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen with interesting techniques that our choir is playing Christmas Eve. (Start at 1:15 in the video)

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Here’s some Christmas flavor from a local legend. Like her famous nephew George, the late Rosemary Clooney’s roots are Cincinnati. Her Christmas Mem’ries will rekindle your memories.

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I find Where Are You Christmas? by The Piano Guys to be special music that is fitting for this post.

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… and their Carol of the Bells is outstanding.

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For the dancers in the crowd, a spin around the floor to the Christmas Waltz promises to deliver smiles.

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A post like this must include on piece of humor, thus so cheers to the Star Trek spin on a holiday favorite.

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A Fire for You (John Boswell) delivers beautiful music to for the Winter Solstice and the season.

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The universe is a spectacular place, and its wonders continue to amaze me. Enjoy a trip through the universe through the Hubble telescope accompanied by a piano version of Oh Holy Night.

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Manheim Steamroller’s version of Silent Night is not only one of my favorite joys of the season, it is also very calming and accompanied by beautiful images.

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For those wanting to celebrate the sounds of Christmas through voices, Andrea Bocelli and Katherine Jenkins are wonderful together … and yes Virginia, I believe.

On the AFA Holiday Gift Party

Welcome to my Christmas/Holiday Party for my friends, their guests, and whoever stops by the holiday gathering!

I’ve never done a post like this before, but it was fun to put together. Below the image are gifts for many of the faces here and bloggers I visit. These people come not only different parts of the world, but from different cultures and belief systems. They are Christians, Jews, Muslim, Atheists, Agnostics, and others, yet each of them is part of a global community of goodness – so peace and goodwill to all!

The elf below has the gifts. (Quite the helper wouldn’t you say?) There is an order in the listings, but you may have to look around.

If your name isn’t listed, I apologize – so open one of the Grab Bags at the end. Your choice!

Because others want to know what you got, please tell about your gift in the comments. You never know, someone may want to trade with you! After all, I don’t believe there are duplicates.

I encourage everyone to comment about the gift of others. After all, parties involve good conversations.

If you see someone who you know and they haven’t arrived, please notify them to drop by for their present because I didn’t use any ping-back methods as a reminder.

FYI: Different entertainment will appear in the comments throughout the day.

A reminder to stop by for annual Christmas Eve treats of wonder. After all, it will be the one-year anniversary of the 2012 edition that was Freshly Pressed.

Positive cheers to all in the spirit goodness for the season … and thanks for reinforcing my belief system that there are many good people in the world.

Don’t forget to get the T-shirt before you leave. It’s at the end of the post.

DogElf

Thanks to Russell Deasley for this

Al @ A Mixed Bag
Alex @ Things I Love
Alisha @ AbTwixt
Angela @ Mind Margins
Annie @ World According to Cuttlefish
Amy @ Bumble Files
Archon @ Archon’s Den
Audra @ Unfettered BS

Brenda @ Friendly Fairy Tales
BuddhaKat @ BuddhaKat
Bulldog @ The Photographic Journey of the Bulldog

Carrie @ The Write Transition
Catherine @ Always a Redhead
Cathy @ Large Self
Cayman @ Drinks Well with Others
Cindy @ Cindy Knoke Photography
Claudine @ Giovannoni Claudine
Colline @ Colline’s Blog

Debra @ Bagni di Lucca & Beyond
Debra @ Breathe Lighter
Deborah @ Airports Made Simple
Deborah Closet Monster
Don in Mass
D-Fae @ Among the Crystals, Dragons, and Fae

Eleanor @ How and the Hell did I End Up Here?
Elyse @ Fifty-Four and a Half

Fasab @ Fasab
Frank @ Trail Life Hike

Georgette @ Georgette Sullins
GFB at GingerFightBack … with special guest Oily George
Guapo @ Guapola
Gull @ The Magnifique Way

Hansi @ The Blithering Idiot
Hood @ White Lady in the Hood
Hudson @ Hudson Howl

Isadora @ Inside the Mind of Isadora

Jackie @ Breathing to Write
Java Girl @ Java Girl’s Life
Jeff @ Drunken Cyclist
Jim @ The JAR Blog
Jim W @ Still Skeptical After All These Years
Joe H @ London Survival
John in Athens @ The Daily Gaff
John E @ Commentality – Lotsa Comments
John H @ Fiction Favorites
John Phillips @ Is It Possible to See It All
Jules @ McCrabass

Kathy Sister-in-Law
Kathy @ Reinventing in Ecuador
Kayjai @ Kayjai
Kimberly @ Words 4JP

Lame @ Lame Adventures
Laurie @ Pride in Photos Photography
Le Clown @ Clown on Fire
Leo @ Doggy Style
Les @ Best Bathroom Books
Lizzy @ Lizzy Cracked
LouAnn @ On the Homefront
Lynn @ Composer in the Garden

Maddie @ Breezy Books
Madhu @ The Urge to Wander
Marina @ Art Towards a Happy Day
Mark @ Mark Armstrong Illustrations
Melanie @ Our View in Iowa
Mo in Mass
Moe @ Whatever Works
Mouse @ Philosopher Mouse

Nancy @ Conversations in Faith
Nia @ Photography by Nia
Noeleen @ Words Fall From My Eyes

Patti @ Learn Something Everyday

Rachael @ Yo-Yo Dyne
Raye @ Jots from a Small Apartment
Rebecca @ Clanmother
Renee @ Renee Johnson Writes
Resa @ Graffiti Lux and Murals
Rich @ Brainsnorts
RightAngle
Robin @ Breezes at Dawn
Robert @ Yelling Quietly
RoSy @ Sharing Me Myself and I

Shimon @ The Human Picture
Snoring Dog @ Snoring Dog Studios
Spiced Charlie @ Hotly Spiced
Sue @ Dreamwalker’s Sanctuary
Sun @ Simply Charming
Suzanne @ A Window in the Woods
Sylvia @ A Day in Paradise

TBM @ 50-Year Project
Tim: Mr. Marching Band
Tom M @ Within the Spheres

Val @ Tilted Tiara
Vanessa @ Vanessa Chapman
Vivika @ My Guilty Pleasures
Victoria @ Vix Views

Weebs @ Madame Weebles
Wine Wankers @ The Wine Wankers

Grab Bag 1
Grab Bag 2
Grab Bag 3
Grab Bag 4
Grab Bag 5
Grab Bag 6
Grab Bag 7
Grab Bag 8
Grab Bag 9
Grab Bag 10
Grab Bag 11
Grab Bag 12
Grab Bag 13
Grab Bag 14
Grab Bag 15

Thanks for attending. For those who don’t understand the T-shirt reference, click here.

Courtesy of Victoria @ Vic Views

Courtesy of Victoria @ VixViews

On the Season for the Crazed

Shopping, Christmas cards, parties, cooking, cleaning, travel, visitors, and more can turn the holiday season into a crazed whirlwind. Consider the later-than-normal Thanksgiving for Americans, and then top it with a death in the family, it is safe to say that the holiday craziness is shorter for us – although I’m not sure if that’s good or bad.

The purpose of this post is to provide several videos for the crazed season. Enjoy.

I have said for many years that the Christmas season doesn’t officially start until I see the Norelco commercial with Santa riding the triple-header. Yep – I’m thankful for YouTube, so the season has begun for me.

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Even though I didn’t shop on Black Friday and avoid malls/major shopping areas on weekends, this annual search for gifts makes me laugh. FYI: I have been picking gifts for my regulars, more to come.

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With the season for the frantic, this fast handbell rendition of Wizards in Winter by the Raleigh Ringers (one of America’s premier choirs) is one of my favorite holiday favorites. After seeing this video for the first time several years ago, my wife said she found watching to be exhausting. Watch the high-bell ringers on the left (especially toward the end) as they hold two different bells in each hand.

On Thanksgiving 2013

To us in the USA, Thursday is Thanksgiving, which has been a Federal holiday since 1863. Although it’s associated with time with family, bountiful feasts, football, and parades, it’s also a time for giving thanks.

There is much for which to be thankful, and many times many of us tend to forget the simple things as food to eat, shelter, clean water, warmth, clothing, and many more. Although it’s a difficult time for our family, I took a little time to put together a simple list for me.

I’m thankful for …

… what should be an exhaustive list

… having a good, kind, gentile, and gracious mother-in-law

… the beautiful full moons, but also when its absence accentuates the stars

… for the ability to pick good friends

… the many caregivers

… the ability to travel

… thinkers and those willing to learn

… volunteers and community agencies reaching out to help others

… all the daily conveniences we take for granted

… those who work to make life safe

… customer service employees who really try to be helpful

… growing up in a small town when small towns were still vibrant

… being about to enjoy many types of music

… the many positives my wife brings to my life

… a supplement to help those with lactose intolerance

… the ways people step forward to help others in need

… college and universities, especially Bowling Green State University, the University of Cincinnati, and Cincinnati State Technical and Community College

… fresh herbs that enhance the meal

… having relatives in Europe

… soft toilet paper

… the grocery store clerks who smile

… the internet being a great learning tool

… anything that makes me smile and/or laugh

… pets as we miss ours

… freedom

… all the ways bloggers share their passions and skills

… the many nice bloggers I encounter as they reinforce my belief that the majority of people in the world are good

… WordPress and its community

… being about to write Happy Thanksgiving to all

I’m thankful for The Piano Guys.