I Saw The Sign

I don't even know where to begin with this blog right now.  So I'll begin with a summary of the places I've been this year.   I won't include my New Mexico trip in March.   In May I had the wonderful experience of going to a wedding of a long time friend and meeting up with some of my other awesome friends of the past decade.   So I will begin there.  

St Louis-1

I don't have the Missouri welcome sign because we had tire trouble and had to switch vehicles!


This was a four day trip - not a lot of time for play but we did get a day's sightseeing in!  I also finally visited Cahokia near St. Louis.  

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We stayed the night in Evansville, Indiana and stopped to see the Angel Mound site in the morning.  

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This is as we were coming into Louisville, Kentucky.  Saturday morning we did some sightseeing in Louisville!  This was on May 13th.   

Nashville Tennessee -1

No Tennessee signs here either, but we drove through on that very long day home to Oklahoma so we could both go to work on Monday.  

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So fast forward just a few weeks later to June (not even a month later).  My Sister and I embarked on our Great Northern Journey.  Again, no signs from Kansas but we were there. 

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On this wonderful day we exited Northern South Dakota near Belle Fourche.   

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And cut across Wyoming on our way to Montana...


Montana has been on my "list" for a long time! I've been to all the states in the continental west.    That day we visited The Little Bighorn Battlefield, The Devil's Tower in Wyoming and stayed the night in Spearfish South, Dakota before visiting The Badlands. 


Just one more...After this vacation I returned home for a few weeks before my sister and I left to visit Colorado to attend the Sting/Peter Gabriel Rock, Paper, Scissors Tour at The Pepsi Center in Denver. 

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We had an adventure in Colorful Colorado and drove up Pikes Peak! So there are many photos to come but this was the easiest way to explain my absence from this blog.   

Inspirational Post With Flowers and Stuff

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Insert Inspirational Quote Here.... There might be a few that inspire me below...  

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I don't need inspiration transposed on my images.  I don't need peaceful nature when I share these images.   I have already found what I need when I create these images, during the moment I'm chasing the light.  

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I don't need anyones opinions. I don't need your approval or disapproval of my words or my images.   I don't need a business from my images.  I don't need to be bothered.  

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I don't need to go "viral"  - I don't need a 100,000 fans.   

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I do not need to educate others. I do not need to teach people about photography.  I do not feel obligated to photograph anything for anyone anymore.   I've tapered working for others down.  It will not continue. 

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I am taking my skill back.  That is also the thing about being an educated.  Just because I am educated it does not believe that I am obligated to share my knowledge with the world.  I like educating - that is why I do it.  But I do not owe my skills, abilities or talents to anyone.   I do not have to shoot and share or post these images.  I enjoy sharing them because I realize not everyone has the space to spend time outdoors like I do.   

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“We are on strike against the dogma that the pursuit of one's happiness is evil. We are on strike against the doctrine that life is guilt.” -Ayn Rand 

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“Learn to value yourself, which means: fight for your happiness.”
― Ayn Rand

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“I could die for you. But I couldn't, and wouldn't, live for you.”
― Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead

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“A creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, not by the desire to beat others.”
― Ayn Rand

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“Rationalization is a process of not perceiving reality, but of attempting to make reality fit one’s emotions.”
― Ayn Rand, Philosophy: Who Needs It? 

Get tired of writing... find some Rand quotes.   It works.  Now back to housework, laundry, cleaning out the fridge and possibly a short nap before a walk at the farm.  A side note.. Trump and Clinton are terrible Presidential candidates.  What is wrong with you America?   

Life With Dogs

Photography when done for my own happiness is a form of mindfulness. It's a meditation.   But, often when I'm shooting for others it is stress, anxiety and the desire to perform and please people.  

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The days I want to escape the most are the days when the puffy cumulous clouds dot the sky and the earth is green.   The dogs were eager to ride in the truck.   It was a new way to ride. 

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I'm continually torn between running as a business or quitting and doing this hobby only for myself.  This art, this craft, this skill that is photography. 

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My favorite people in the world are dogs. 

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Their first ride in the back of the truck out to the farm.  Don't worry they were safe and we weren't going fast at all.  

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Everyday is a good day if you're a spoiled dog.  

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Music, being in the country, dogs, and traveling the things I love.  Oh, and photography of course.   I'm glad I found this hobby it has profoundly affected how I see the world.  

I really like this article titled" Why Creative People Sometimes Make No Sense" 

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Pumpkin is insane.  Sister is odd and the Puppy may be taking after Pumpkin.  lol 

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My blog could almost be called life with dogs.  After teaching all day I don't feel like writing when I post images.   I barely have time to do this, as I'm still fulfilling obligations that I've already had.  

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I need to go to bed, but I'm making a birthday cake for my second child who is about to turn 18 tomorrow.  When people tell you "they grow up so fast" it is very true.  

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The do enjoy themselves. 

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There will be no photographing of the Indian Paintbrush.  

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"Here let me hold your hair while you photograph that flower."  


There are a lot of dog pictures on my blog.  Dogs are a huge part of my life.  My big dogs, my little dogs, puppies, my sister's dogs ... I love dogs.   When I was small my Aunt Billie took me to get my first puppy, a Collie which we named Lassie.  Then for the rest of my childhood we had and raised Collies,  yes, we were the "pure breed" dog breeder family that so many people today get outraged about.  The outrage annoys me because I had a childhood of puppies. Not just one puppy for a  year or two but years of puppies to love and adore.  Raising animals teaches you compassion and love.  I also had chores, I had to care for the dogs after school as I got older and I showed dogs for 4H.  My friends who breed and raise purebred dogs love their dogs more than most people I know.  I am constantly seeing pictures of their children with their dogs and puppies.   I realize there are horror stories about people who don't care for their animals but that can be anyone, right down to the people who "rescue" animals.   


Since he was adopted right before Easter his name is The Easter Buddy... which goes well with his new Sister

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I got a few shots of Pumpkin this afternoon playing ball and the other dogs.  


I mean how precious is he?  Super precious.  I can't wait to get home and cuddle my little boy.   


He's so hard to shoot he won't stay still most of these shots are not totally in focus.  He's a little stinker.  

Easter Buddy and Big Sister -1

And awed, Sweet little Buddy meets his Big Sister.  

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Here is my Ozzie boy with the new boy.  

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He is a noble old dog.  We call him "Old Man" though, most of the time.   


Carlsbad Caverns

So we did a super quick trip to New Mexico over Spring Break -  and by quick I mean like 36 hours quick.   We drove to New Mexico on a Thursday evening and home on a Friday night, but we still went to a place we have never been before but always heard about.   So I spent the day looking at the weather and checking different state parks and places within four or five hour drives that we could go to but since it was St. Patricks Day I also knew that I really didn't want to be in downtown Dallas or Tulsa that night.   After watching the weather Carlsbad was our destination of choice, my husband's suggestion and it was a good one.   

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We left the house at four thirty or so and made it to Carlsbad around midnight.  Of course New Mexico is in Mountain Time so I'm not really sure what time it was by the time we arrived. 

New Mexico Carlsbad trip 2016-1

I haven't been to New Mexico since 2010!!!  When I went to a National Endowment for the Humanities workshop up in Colorado at Mesa Verde.  It has been a long time and I love New Mexico it is one of my favorite places.   I can't believe it has been six years since I've been out there already.   

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So we make it to Hobbs and I get to drive from Hobbs to Carlsbad.   Which was a decent little drive.   We arrived at the hotel and went to bed for some much needed rest after our 463 mile drive.   

Carslbad to the Caverns Highway-1

It's pretty flat until you get to the mountains,  and you only get to the mountains near the caverns.  

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So you drive up the mountain and eventually arrive at the visitors center. 

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It was incredibly windy when we got to the top of the mountain to go into the visitors center for our self guided cave tour.   

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This is probably a REALLY, REALLY GOOD IDEA.  If you are in horrible shape and don't like walking uphill this is not the national park for you.  Also, small children, good luck with that.  If you want to carry them and hope they aren't scared of dark places.  I consider myself in "decent" shape and this cave hike kicked my butt.   It takes three to four hours and the hike back out is brutal and uphill.  The hike down isn't too bad, but it is one of the most incredible places that I've ever been to.  

New Mexico Carlsbad trip 2016-1-7

They weren't kidding.   

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As you enter it is truly other worldly.  I used a tripod and a 15-30 2.8 lens on a Canon 6D,  I still struggled to get the shots that I wanted out of these caves.  Of course it was so packed with tourists it is truly difficult to enjoy America's National Parks sometimes because they are always relatively crowded.   

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Now for the pictures inside the caverns.   

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I hope to have some more time at home now which will allow me to catch up on everything that I'm behind on.  

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I can't even caption these photos because they do not do it justice.  It is a place that you can only imagine if you see it and experience it.  A photo does nothing to help you understand the vastness.   

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I'm trying to show you the images that are in focus more but I felt like I was battling shooting in this not quite dark situation on crowded pathways.  

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We hiked a total of two miles in the caverns  but four round trip and that is all underground.  It is impressive.  I can't explain or tell you what it is like.  You need to go see it for yourself.  

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These were all shot at 15mm, ultra wide but you really can't tell can you? 

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New Mexico Carlsbad trip 2016-1-8

See the trail going through the bottom of this room.   

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So it was time to hike out and I didn't take any photos on our brutal hike out.  Mainly because the 15 year old decided we should "jog" out, or walk very quickly.  It didn't bother me to leave because I really don't like enclosed places that much!   But I was definitely sore the rest of the weekend. 

New Mexico Carlsbad trip 2016-1-12

Just beautiful.  Other worldly.  

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And as today is Easter, this photo is symbolic to me because it reminds me of so many Native American emergence stories of how they came out of the middle place.  Emerging from the cave just as we as humans emerge into this world from the womb.   I sure was glad to see the light and go back to the outer parts of this earth.  


Sad Papaw's Cookout

Last night I was chatting online and one of my friends said she was driving up to Oklahoma from San Antonio to go to Sad Paw Paw's Cookout in Purcell.   Well, I've vaguely read posts or tweets about Sad Paw Paw and how he had a cookout and only one of his Granddaughter's made it.   But I haven't thought much of it.   So I decided not to be lazy and got up this afternoon and went to meet my friend at the interstate to ride up to Sad Papaw's Cookout.   I thought it would be an adventure and something to do, and hey I got invited somewhere!  

Sad PawPaw Cookout in Dibble Oklahoma-1

So the photo above sucks.  I know it.  It's okay.   I forgot to change my ISO settings for a while.  Dumb move but it's not the first time and it won't be the last.  They will get better, I promise.  

Sad PawPaw Cookout in Dibble Oklahoma-1-2

That was the food line...  my friend and I got in the Meet Papaw line.   Now the directions said Purcell, and I expected this shindig to be at Purcell, but we turned off and kept going east, and I realized we were almost to Dibble.   When we moved back to Oklahoma from Kansas in 2005, the first job I was offered was in Dibble.  I always regretted leaving that job despite the commute because I loved the community and my coworkers.   

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Look at that grill!  It was quite a cookout!   

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I don't think I have ever posted about Dibble?   I am certain I haven't.  Dibble is a little town that is in-between Blanchard and Lindsay Oklahoma off of Highway 76.   

Sad PawPaw Cookout in Dibble Oklahoma-1-6

The line was probably an hour or an hour and a half. I didn't keep track, it was nice outside.  

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When you work in a community you never forget that connection.  Especially as a teacher, just like I'll always be a "Dibble Demon"  even if it was briefly.  And ten years ago!  What has happened with my life!  I worked here in 2005 and 06.  This is the first event I've attended since I worked here and I didn't even know I was going to Dibble.   So, I think this was a wonderful thing.   People coming out to show someone that they matter.   Sometimes the internet is amazing.   

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These guys were from Texas, up for a basketball game.   Which, how about those Sooners?  My school rocks.   

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The line behind us. 

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The hosts of the cookout made sure the dogs had water while we waited in line.  

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This little guy is adorable!  

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We finally made it in the tent and I finally realized that my ISO settings were off.  

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We also got to have a burger with Pawpaw!  

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This was fun.   I bet he was a tired man after the day was over!  It's pretty amazing how one post can turn viral.  

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It was about our turn... 

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My friend came with gifts.   

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And her family!   

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I think I missed this one?  

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Oh yeah... Buzzfeed was here! Here is Tamerra Griffin and her post "I Went To Papaw's Cookout And It Was Kind of A Blast"

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I'm glad Sad Papaw doesn't have to be sad anymore, I hope he has an awesome experience with his internet fame!   

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One of me up here...   I didn't get a shirt, but that's what cameras are for...  I have pictures of the shirt but I can officially say that I've "been there, done that."  

Trade Offs

So one of the subjects I teach is Economics.   One topic of economics is "trade-offs"  whenever you choose one thing over another it is a trade-off.   Just like having a full time job, family and long commute, that is a trade-off that I make five days a week.   So because I'm writing about my trade-offs right here let me tell you what I did this weekend.  Part of my schedule is driving my daughter to work and picking her up which is two hours a day all weekend.   That, of course is worthwhile because she is working full time and building a work ethic.  

Justin's Birthday-1

Oh yeah Saturday my "Baby Boy" turned 15.  Boy time flies my first blog post for him was when he was ten and a photo of him driving the tractor that I posted in 2011 has kind of went wild online.   

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So we have a 15 year old.   I can't believe it.   My oldest is visiting my alma-mater today and looking at college for her future and my oldest son will be 18 soon.   

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After we had cake I drove to Sulphur to check out some of the hiking trails at the Chickasaw National Recreation Area.   I just get restless and need to get out and do something.   This was about the closest place and I had wanted to check out the hiking we usually go in the middle of summer and go swimming.  

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I'm slowly getting back on track with exercise, but it seems like things come up to mess up my schedule it's frustrating.  I will never be great at dieting but I can exercise.  

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I'm continually stressed this year. But it is good to get outside.  

Chickasaw National Recreation Area February 20 2016-1

Besides swimming at the falls there are lots of great trails here.  I find something new every time I visit. 

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So no housework was caught up on this weekend. I traded that time for a chance to go to the park.  

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A quick hike to a spectacular view. 

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Definitely worth the time for  a short hike.  

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But I can't forget the creek. 

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Or the bridge...

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On the way home.. I've passed this a million times always vowing to stop someday. I finally did. No some of these aren't the greatest shots... but that's okay.  

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I hate seeing the turbines, but they did add a little extra to this shot.  

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I finally made it home by the time the sun was setting...it was a beautiful sunset.   Now I have to go to bed because I have a long day tomorrow.   

Grandma's Trunk

A deeply spiritual woman who lived her life in the spirit of the 19th century.   My Grandma was a throwback to a simpler time.   She was 41 when my father was born in the late 1930s.   She was sixteen when the Titanic sunk.  President Grover Cleveland was in office when she was born.  She lived through WWI, WWII, The Cold War and Vietnam.  She left me her trunk that she had as a girl.  The eldest of ten children, her mother was a teacher and her father was the Justice of the Peace in Umpire Arkansas for sixty years.  She, like so many in my family was a teacher, but a teacher in a one room schoolhouse.    She married my Grandfather in 1922 after a courtship of where he rode his mule eleven miles to meet her. She had five children with my Dad as the youngest.  

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Her school books all over 100 years old now...  

Grandma always wore her long black hair in a bun.   She was not a small lady, but she always wore a dress and smelled of Noxema for her Eczema.  She made homemade cornbread every single day.   She always cooked for us but I remember it was often interesting.   She watched Jeopardy every single day.  She kept lemon drops and ginger snap cookies.  I remember staying the summer with her and I remember her letting me go through her trunk, which was just magical to me.  

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Bootsy liked the trunk too.  

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I know she shaped me because she was living history.   A sunbonnet was on her head when she went outside.  She kept her skin out of the sun, she had that strong southern drawl and whenever we came to visit in Oklahoma she would be awake until we arrived, even if it was three in the morning.   So my faded memories of my Grandmother are refreshed with the sound of her voice that I got to relive thanks to a cousin who sent me a copy of her telling her story.  

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Opening the trunk strikes you with the musty, old book smell.  Old worn and faded cloth, filled with old newspapers, and tidbits of her life.  Keepsakes, like baby clothes and a rattle that was my fathers.  School work from her children.  Letters from her sister.  

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This is a cry for the importance of vaccinations... 

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The odds and ends from decades ago, really resemble the stuff that I tuck away... old bank statements, random unimportant things.  Things that we all need that unite the past and present. 

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 A letter from her sister, a newlywed.  

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 Arrowheads, ceramic figurines, old pocket knife...  just the odds and ends that ended up in Grandma's trunk. 

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 Letters from sisters...  

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Her black hair was once auburn, this was the hair she saved after brushing and a woman made it into a hairpiece for her.  I remember her telling me this story. 

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This 1922 article is pretty upset about women wearing pants and foregoing the hosiery.  I think it was as great idea, myself.  My Grandmother was 26 in 1922.

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1922 wasn't a good time to be enforcing prohibition for this man.

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My Dad's baby rattle.   I have more images but this is just a few to put up tonight.  

Grandma Sharp from Joy Franklin on Vimeo.

 This is still one of the best gifts I've had.   To be able to hear the loved ones that you've lost is priceless. I love having images but I believe we should record ourselves and our family because someday the sounds will be as important as the images.   

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