VETERANS DAY

veterans_1
So how do you say Thank You to people who have given their lives and sacrificed so much so that the rest of us can be FREE? We have this day called, Veterans Day to do just that. But it never seems like enough.

Our Heros, men and women, who have given up so many different things in their lives, so that we all can have the freedoms to be and do as we wish, deserve so much more then a simple Thank You on one day.

Do not pass by one of our VETS without Thanking them for their duties and sacrifices. Tell them how much you appreciate their sacrifices for all of us!

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Are YOU Truly what YOU say YOU are?

I have heard more often these last couple of years, on how this person is this, and that person is that. Take for instance a local Birder. They will get up on a soap-box and proclaim how they belong to this Bird Group and that Bird Group. They will tell you about their “LIFE-LIST” of spotted Birds. The will most likely show you pictures of all the different Birds they have seen. Some will be Rare Birds, and many of the shots will be extra special shots of extra special birds. But are they real Birders?

I am by no-means picking on Birders. This applies to Mushroom Hunters, Bikers, Nature Nuts and many other Forest Groups. I have had many, many conversations with all types of various Outdoor Group members, who proclaim to be the ultimate in being that specific Outdoor individual. But are they?

I have thought very hard about this question. I used to wonder if I myself was a true Birder, or Mushroom Hunter or Naturalist. Since I do not belong to any of these specific Outdoor Groups, have a Degree in any of these things, or have spent a lifetime focused almost solely on these specific subjects. This made me question whether I was truly any of these things.

Then I realized that most of the people that actually claim to be these Outdoor things, such as a Birder…..really are not. A Collector maybe. A gatherer of Bird pictures or sightings, but not really a true Birder.

You see…….If one claimed to be a real Birder (or any other specific Outdoor enthusiast, this person would first and foremost have to be concerned with the Habitats and Natural Resources that cause these critters or Life to exist and thrive.

A Bird population needs quality Habitat, Food sources and these days…..protection from the many hazards MAN puts into the Birds world. You cannot truly be a Birder and then pollute the habitats Birds need to survive. You do not let Invasive Species like the Autumn Olive grow untouched, and say you are a Mushroomer, as the Autumn Olive chokes out the very Habitats that support a healthy, annual Mushroom growths.

This goes for almost every specific Outdoor living thing. Before you tell anyone that you are a Birder, Naturalist, Mushroom Hunter, or any other Outdoor enthusiast,please first tell me when was the last time you participated in an Invasive Species removal or Clean-up. Or how often have you done this kind of Habitat protection and Clean-up. Tell me a little something about what it takes to produce successful nesting and reproduction of annual youngster.

If all you can do, is show me some pictures, or tell me how many spotting adventures you have been on, or what is your total “Life-List” of Birds, Mushrooms or Wild Flowers you have spotted or collected………then do not go any further. You are as much a Birder, Naturalist or Mushroom hunter as my Doggie, who loves to run the open Forest and is excited by everything he discovers there. It all does NOTHING in helping these species flourish and reproduce, by making sure the Natural Resources are taken care of and are healthy.

I know this will not be a popular way to look at things for some people. Because it is always easiest to just go out and have fun in the Parks. It takes a true love of Mother Nature to give back regularly and help all these species reproduce each year, and migrate, to and from healthy environments.

If you are not doing these things…..believe me…….very soon all these species, Birds, Plants Trees and the diverse habitats that help produce the variety of Birds, Mushrooms and Outdoor life, will disappear. Then What? Barren Parks of Invasive Species? What will You claim to be then?


We all NEED Mother Nature

I have written about how a healthy environment leads to healthy living for everyone. I have also written about how important things like Clean Water and an ecosystem that is diverse and full of different species, all interconnected with one another. Including us humans.

This last year I have been very ill on and off and it has caused me alot of time indoors. I thought I could just wing-it and adapt for a bit while I recouped. Write about the critters, birds and environment. Make some new Maps, etc. But I discovered that this kind of adapting is not as easy as it is said.

My whole life, like many of you out there, has been various life adaptations. It is the way of life. All new things are not just easily encompassed into our lives. We must adapt, embrace and adjust to many new things. Some of which we do not choose for ourselves.

I have found the confinement indoors, just barely tolerable. I have adapted to everything that has entered my life, my whole life. But being confined indoors. or should I say, “Not being allowed into the Natural world”, has been almost unbearable.

I now have a completely different understanding of not getting connected with Mother Nature. I used to just think it meant an individual was missing out on some wonderful things by not experiencing the Natural world, critters, wildlife, Trees, flowers, birds, water and the whole thing. But I now see that it is way more then just missing out on those things.

As I have sat at times, for weeks, in the house, I have learned what Nature deprivation is truly all about. It is not just an inconvenience, or something bothersome. It is the total removal of such important input, that I now wonder how those who do not get at least some outdoor experiences can even survive and have a well rounded existence.

Yes……there are those with absolutely NO CHOICE in the matter, and I have and will continue to try and show them what I can, when I can, the beauties, wonders and growth Mother Nature has to offer all of us.

But for those who DO have a CHOICE, and do not use it, I now understand why there are so many problems in today’s world. Without input from the Natural world and Mom, there ends up being a huge hole in ones existence. How do you understand all aspects of what is happening in the world without understanding and experiencing Nature in some way?

I now see that there is a place in each of us that NEEDS to be filled with Natural things of some manner. Maybe something different for each of us, but still that experience is NEEDED by each of us.

GO GET OUTDOORS!  Do it now! It doesn’t matter what it is, just DO IT. Hike, Fish, Bird, Geocache, just sit by the lake. Do It with respect. Do not Conquer anything in Nature. Save that for the Sports field or Race course. DO NOT disrespect MOM. She keeps us all alive in so many different ways. And I now personally understand just how much she is needed in every ones life. A Healthy respected Mother Nature, is a healthy respectful Society. The connection is direct.


INTERCONNECTIVITY

I just finished an article on what are the most important things needed for a healthy Planet and lives here in Michigan. It was a very informative research time to do this article. I just did not guess at what I personally thought should be done to have a better Michigan and Planet. I dug pretty deep, read quite a bit of Scientific studies and compared notes from many learned people who deal with these things on a daily basis.

A repeating fact kept ringing through my research. INTERCONNECTIVITY. The fact that Everything is interconnected in some way or another. Most of the Natural world is deeply interconnected to be able to survive and flourish. It all needs the other things that make up Nature to survive.

In fact……..I was impressed and a bit frightened by the fact on just how dependant almost every living thing was to everything else. A Flower needs the sunlight and rain to grow. It needs the help of the Bees and insects to pollinate and reproduce. The other plants and trees around it die and produce the nutrients to help feed that flower and help it flourish. And these are just the surface things that Flower needs to survive, grow and multiple.

Removing almost any one of even those basic things will disrupt the Flowers world completely. May even cause the death of that Flower. The death of that Flower will then affect the other plants, insects and life growing around that flower. This INTERCONNECTIVITY is everywhere in the Natural world and life.

But is the most overlooked common denominator in the world! Nothing is an island upon itself. You cannot just say……I will take away these trees and this particular habitat will remain the same. IT WILL NOT.

During my research for the previous posting on what are the most important things for life on our planet, this fact kept returning over and over again. I wasn’t looking for it, nor was I trying to make this observation a theme for anything. But through my research, it would always end up being the prime fact on the destruction of a species, the needs for another species to flourish, or the reason why our Grandiose Plans as mear mortals, would many times fail. We disregard the most common and needed fact in life and the Natural world. The Interconnectivity of all that is there. It takes many things to produce one in Nature. Remove one of those things and you maybe removing not only that one thing (a Flower) but you maybe destroying an entire ecosystem, or special habitat.

The prime reason we have a Department of Natural Resources here in Michigan and every other state in the USA is to look after these intrigue inner connections a healthy and flourishing habitat needs to grow, reproduce and remain healthy. Our Department of Natural Resources jobs are not to find Fun things for us to do in the Natural World. It is not here to try and control the Natural world with an arrogance that Man can rebuild or reconstruct Nature in his own image, his own way, while disregarding the direct connections between all life in the Natural world.

I am not picking on our DNR. I am concerned that the main focus of an Agency we have hired and pay for, has lost it’s way and no longer truly understands the INTERCONNECTIVITY of the Natural World. That should be their only focus and understandings. We can always create a State Department of FUN if need be. Please return to your assignments at hand. They are far more important and needed then a new Water slide, Bike Path, Racing course or any other Nature entertainment. The health of our Natural Resources reflects on the health of our Society. They are all Interconnected.


The PERFECT Picture

 

I get many, many pictures sent to me or posted on the various Hiking Michigan sites On-line. BEAUTIFUL pictures! But what makes these pictures beautiful? Is it the details in each picture? Is it the perfection in the control of the Camera and it’s settings? Or even the placement of the things that make up the picture?

All of these things do play a certain part in that PERFECT picture, BUT……it is that undefined “THING” that truly makes a picture Beautiful to me. That undefined thing maybe something as simple as the Outdoor spot itself. Or a Bird that is doing more then just sitting there. The Birders seem to be the most critical of their work.

Yes……it is great to see every feather on that close-up shot of a particular bird. BUT….seeing that same bird landing on the edge of a Feeder, or grabbing that insect in mid-flight tells so much more. For me, those are the most beautiful shots.

A couple of local Birders who post regularly, many times, will capture a Bird image as I described, yet still have much criticism of their work. It is great to always be working for perfection in your Camera abilities, but many times, these two individuals have already done that. I am talking about Dr. Bob and new friend Kim.

osprey-in-flight-w-sigHere is a recent picture of an Osprey, flying overhead, carrying some fresh grass to line it’s nest for the evening sleep. It would be one thing to get the picture of the Osprey itself……but to capture an image of it carrying fresh grass for it’s nest, and what kind of grass it traveled almost 2 miles to get special for it’s nest, makes this one of those PERFECT images to me. Beautiful in it’s form, and informative in what it is doing. Kim did an excellent job at grabbing this picture in a moments notice, after spotting the Bird from a distance, Identifying it, setting her Camera up, and then getting the shot. PERFECT!

DrBobHere is one of my many favorites from Dr. Bob. He waited for that moment when the Egret was about to make his dive for the fish below. You can see the intense concentration, the beauty in the stance of this bird. No……we cannot count every feather in this bird, but the perfection in this picture is what the Dr. captured in that very moment of the Egrets hunt. This IS a perfect picture. I know Dr. Bob would disagree. He would have many reasons on what is wrong with his picture. I guess this is Bob striving for better Photography. But in the world of capturing a moment in time and teaching us all a little something about a hunting Egret, This is a PERFECT picture.

 

Michael

So what did Michael shoot here in this picture? I do not see anything specific here. No Dragons or anything specifically overwhelming going on. But there is a feel to this spot by the Lake. He Bushwhacked quite a distance to find this spot. Just the feel of the land and the Lake draws you into this place. And that is what makes this shot a PERFECT picture.

I can understand the goals that many Photographers have at getting better at their craft, or mastering their Camera equipment. But they should not forget that the beauty and perfection is not always in the details of what the Camera has captured, but in what the Photographers eye has seen and then put in the picture for all of us to experience. I consider each of the pictures above, to be an “Experience”. And that is a huge part of the PERFECT picture.

Dr. BOBs Bird Blog               KIMs Nature is My Therapy Blog


Seniors Discounts

As many of us get up there in years, one of the benefits are some of the discounts that local businesses give to us. A good friend of ours, Leeann, posted this on Facebook, and we thought it was worth re-posting here:

Keep this list and send a copy to your senior friends and relatives.

As I was waiting in line behind an older gentleman at Wendy’s recently, I heard him ask for his senior discount. The girl at the register apologized and charged him less. When I asked the man what the discount was, he told me that seniors over age 55 get 10% off everything on the menu, every day.

Being of ‘that’ age myself, I figured I might as well ask for the discount too.

This incident prompted me to do some research, and I came across a list of restaurants, supermarkets, department stores, travel deals and other types of offers giving various discounts with different age requirements. I was actually surprised to see how many there are and how some of them start at the young age of 50 .

This list may not only be useful for you, but for your friends and family too. Dunkin Donuts gives free coffee to people over 55 . If you’re paying for a cup every day, you might want to start getting it for FREE.

YOU must ASK for your discount !

RESTAURANTS:
Applebee’s: 15% off with Golden Apple Card (60+)
Arby’s: 10% off ( 55 +)
Ben & Jerry’s: 10% off (60+)
Bennigan’s: discount varies by location (60+)
Bob’s Big Boy: discount varies by location (60+)
Boston Market: 10% off (65+)
Burger King: 10% off (60+)
Chick-Fil-A: 10% off or free small drink or coffee ( 55+)
Chili’s: 10% off ( 55+)
CiCi’s Pizza: 10% off (60+)
Denny’s: 10% off, 20% off for AARP members ( 55 +)
Dunkin’ Donuts: 10% off or free coffee ( 55+)
Einstein’s Bagels: 10% off baker’s dozen of bagels (60+)
Fuddrucker’s: 10% off any senior platter ( 55+)
Gatti’s Pizza: 10% off (60+)
Golden Corral: 10% off (60+)
Hardee’s: $0.33 beverages everyday (65+)
IHOP: 10% off ( 55+)
Jack in the Box: up to 20% off ( 55+)
KFC: free small drink with any meal ( 55+)
Krispy Kreme: 10% off ( 50+)
Long John Silver’s: various discounts at locations ( 55+)
McDonald’s: discounts on coffee everyday ( 55+)
Mrs. Fields: 10% off at participating locations (60+)
Shoney’s: 10% off
Sonic: 10% off or free beverage (60+)
Steak ‘n Shake: 10% off every Monday & Tuesday ( 50+)
Subway: 10% off (60+)
Sweet Tomatoes: 10% off (62+)
Taco Bell : 5% off; free beverages for seniors (65+)
TCBY: 10% off ( 55+)
Tea Room Cafe: 10% off ( 50+)
Village Inn: 10% off (60+)
Waffle House: 10% off every Monday (60+)
Wendy’s: 10% off ( 55 +)
Whataburger: 10% off (62+)
White Castle: 10% off (62+) This is for me … if I ever see one again.
RETAIL & APPAREL :
Banana Republic: 30% off ( 50 +)
Bealls: 20% off first Tuesday of each month ( 50 +)
Belk’s: 15% off first Tuesday of every month ( 55 +)
Big Lots: 30% off
Bon-Ton Department Stores: 15% off on senior discount days ( 55 +)
C.J. Banks: 10% off every Wednesday (50+)
Clarks : 10% off (62+)
Dress Barn: 20% off ( 55+)
Goodwill: 10% off one day a week (date varies by location)
Hallmark: 10% off one day a week (date varies by location)
Kmart: 40% off (Wednesdays only) ( 50+)
Kohl’s: 15% off (60+)Modell’s Sporting Goods: 30% off
Rite Aid: 10% off on Tuesdays & 10% off prescriptions
Ross Stores: 10% off every Tuesday ( 55+)
The Salvation Army Thrift Stores: up to 50% off ( 55+)
Stein Mart: 20% off red dot/clearance items first Monday of every month ( 55 +)
GROCERY :
Albertson’s: 10% off first Wednesday of each month ( 55 +)
American Discount Stores: 10% off every Monday ( 50 +)
Compare Foods Supermarket: 10% off every Wednesday (60+)
DeCicco Family Markets: 5% off every Wednesday (60+)
Food Lion: 60% off every Monday (60+)
Fry’s Supermarket: free Fry’s VIP Club Membership & 10% off every Monday ( 55 +)
Great Valu Food Store: 5% off every Tuesday (60+)
Gristedes Supermarket: 10% off every Tuesday (60+)
Harris Teeter: 5% off every Tuesday (60+)
Hy-Vee: 5% off one day a week (date varies by location)
Kroger: 10% off (date varies by location)
Morton Williams Supermarket: 5% off every Tuesday (60+)
The Plant Shed: 10% off every Tuesday ( 50 +)
Publix: 15% off every Wednesday ( 55 +)
Rogers Marketplace: 5% off every Thursday (60+)
Uncle Guiseppe’s Marketplace: 15% off (62+)
TRAVEL / Airlines:
Alaska Airlines: 50% off (65+)
American Airlines: various discounts for 50% off non-peak periods (Tuesdays – Thursdays) (62+)and up (call before booking for discount)
Continental Airlines: no initiation fee for Continental Presidents Club & special fares for select destinations
Southwest Airlines: various discounts for ages 65 and up (call before booking for discount)
United Airlines: various discounts for ages 65 and up (call before booking for discount)
U.S. Airways: various discounts for ages 65 and up (call before booking for discount)
Rail:
Amtrak: 15% off (62+)
Bus:
Greyhound: 15% off (62+)
Trailways Transportation System: various discounts for ages 50+
Car Rental:
Alamo Car Rental: up to 25% off for AARP members
Avis: up to 25% off for AARP members
Budget Rental Cars: 40% off; up to 50% off for AARP members ( 50+)
Dollar Rent-A-Car: 10% off ( 50+) Enterprise Rent-A-Car: 5% off for AARP members Hertz: up to 25% off for AARP members
National Rent-A-Car: up to 30% off for AARP members
Overnight Accommodations:
Holiday Inn: 20-40% off depending on location (62+)
Best Western: 40% off (55+)
Cambria Suites: 20%-30% off (60+)
Waldorf Astoria – NYC $5,000 off nightly rate for Presidential Suite (55 +)
Clarion Motels: 20%-30% off (60+)
Comfort Inn: 20%-30% off (60+)
Comfort Suites: 20%-30% off (60+)
Econo Lodge: 40% off (60+)
Hampton Inns & Suites: 40% off when booked 72 hours in advance
Hyatt Hotels: 25%-50% off (62+)
InterContinental Hotels Group: various discounts at all hotels (65+)
Mainstay Suites: 10% off with Mature Traveler’s Discount (50+); 20%-30% off (60+)
Marriott Hotels: 25% off (62+)
Motel 6: Stay Free Sunday nights (60+)
Myrtle Beach Resort: 30% off ( 55 +)
Quality Inn: 40%-50% off (60+)
Rodeway Inn: 20%-30% off (60+)
Sleep Inn: 40% off (60+)
ACTIVITIES & ENTERTAINMENT :
AMC Theaters: up to 30% off ( 55 +)
Bally Total Fitness: $100 off memberships (62+)
Busch Gardens Tampa, FL: $13 off one-day tickets ( 50 +)
Carmike Cinemas: 35% off (65+)
Cinemark/Century Theaters: up to 35% off
Massage Envy – NYC 20% off all “Happy Endings” (62 +)
U.S. National Parks: $10 lifetime pass; 50% off additional services including camping (62+)
Regal Cinemas: 50% off Ripley’s Believe it or Not: @ off one-day ticket ( 55 +)
SeaWorld, Orlando , FL : $3 off one-day tickets ( 50 +)
CELL PHONE DISCOUNTS :
AT&T: Special Senior Nation 200 Plan $19.99/month (65+)
Jitterbug: $10/month cell phone service ( 50 +)
Verizon Wireless: Verizon Nationwide 65 Plus Plan $29.99/month (65+).
MISCELLANEOUS:
Great Clips: $8 off hair cuts (60+)
Supercuts: $8 off haircuts (60+)
 
NOW, go out there and claim your discounts – – – – and remember —-
YOU must ASK for your discount —- no ask, no discount.
I Know everyone knows someone over 50 please pass the one on!!!!!

ALMA HIGHLAND FESTIVAL

Alma-WEBSITE

 

GO TO THE OFFICIAL ALMA HIGHLAND FESTIVAL WEB SITE HERE.

FestivalLOGOFor the last 46 years, the college town of Alma, Michigan, has sponsored the annual Highland Festival. Bagpipes, Scottish Dancers, Border Collies, The Highland Games, Tent Row or Scottish Crafts, the College Stadium Grand finale where every Pipe & drum core and Dancers all play and march together in the Stadium. It’s UNBELIEVABLE!

You do not have to be Scottish or Irish to have a FANTASTIC time at the HIGHLAND PipersTurn copyFESTIVAL. There is so much to do over the 2 1/2 days. Foods of all sorts. Scheduled activities morning til evening. Then there are smaller events through out town at local establishments. The College and the entire town play an active role in the entire festival. From the opening Parade, until the Grand Finale in the Huge open air Stadium. There is always something to do.

I have attended many of the annual Festivals, and NEVER get tired of the festivities, Music, Dancers, Crafts and everything else. A Picnic while you watch the Highlander Games outdoors. The telephone Pole toss is my favorite. 🙂

POLEToss copyThere are many places to stay at a reasonable price, either in Alma itself or in a couple of nearby towns, depending on the luxury and costs you wish to incur. Discounted Tickets are available right now only. Tickets can be bought for each individual day of the festival at the Festival itself. You CAN…..just show up at any day or time…..buy a ticket and have FUN!

GET DIRECTIONS TO THE AREA AND THE TOWN OF ALMA,Michigan here;

Directions

DOWNLOAD A SCHEDULE of EVENT ACTIVITIES in a PDF format here:

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