Life springing forth

Cold creeps along, snatching the warmth from life within;

It fights to keep life – to look for light of day.

It was there not long ago, as the birds sang and nature aglow.

Navel oranges ready for consumption in late fall and early winter

In the cold, the orange comes forth to yield its fruit,

The juice within; the taste that sweetens the mind.

Leaves relax, awaiting time to renew;

Absorb the sun, the rain, the warmth that departed.

Orange blossoms breaking out in pre-spring

Awake sweet tree; stand tall; bloom forth and invite that which shares in your beauty; multiply as Creator ordained.

Your blooms bright, you spread forth, ready to start new life again.

Japanese plum tree begins new growth from a dormant life

Too, Japanese plum, once living in another place,

Planted anew, will you live?

You wait, and you pause, waiting for that time.

Awww, I see you develop – the green enveloping.

In time you grow, move beyond just being still, wondering your life call. 

Now absorb the light, warmth from the sun, soaking moisture through your roots.

Will you soon show your colors, spreading your blooms too?

I’m glad you lived, and growing too.

You can’t wait to show others, you too can produce.

It won’t be long and blossoms spring forth – yielding plum – fruit through strife. 

Japanese plum recovered nicely from an replant; preparing to yield this season.

These were my thoughts this weekend as I saw the orange tree budding.  The Japanese plum (originating in China) was replanted from another place in my yard to a place where it could have more sunlight.  It lay dormant with no leaves until the tiny shoots began to form.  Now it is really growing.

What about our lives? Do we lay dormant awaiting the warmth and glow of the sun? God is certainly there to bring us forth to new life as his love envelopes us, shining upon us, encouraging us to spring forth – trusting Him and bringing forth the fruit of life.  

Blessings along the Way!

Ron

Has spring sprung?

As most of you living in the northern hemisphere are still experiencing cold weather, at least in the south (particularly in Florida) we are experiencing warmer weather – like in the 80s. 

So, my thought is?  Has spring sprung, although it’s not officially spring?  Just don’t tell the natural environment and the lizards. 

Peach tree blossoms in February

We have now passed on from the pine and are encountering the oak pollen.  Lot’s of sneezes to go around.  Lot’s of car washes too. 

I wondered if my peach tree of just over a year was even alive since the leaves fell in the fall and it didn’t look well. Now it has wakened.  I just had to take a picture and tell you about it. 

Those still shivering should know – it won’t be long – although you may have plenty of snow. 

Blessings along the Way!

Ron

President for a time

We in the U.S. had a special day on February 18 to honor our presidents.  No doubt all have made profound impacts on the nation, some more than others. 

Thousands of books written about Abraham Lincoln

A holiday was originally established in 1885 in recognition of President George Washington.  It became known as Presidents Day after it was moved as part of the 1971 Uniform Monday Holiday Act, celebrated on the third Monday in February.  The holiday was an attempt to create more three-day weekends for the nation’s workers.

The Uniform Monday Holiday Act also included a provision to combine the celebration of Washington’s birthday (February 22) with that of Abraham Lincoln, which fell on February 12. Lincoln’s Birthday had long been a state holiday in places like Illinois, and many supported joining the two days as a way of giving equal recognition to two of America’s most famous statesmen.

While several states still have individual holidays honoring the birthdays of Washington, Abraham Lincoln and other figures, Presidents Day is now popularly viewed as a day to celebrate all U.S. presidents, past and present. (https://www.history.com/topics/holidays/presidents-day)

I appreciate each leader who was chosen by our nation to lead in various times – good and bad.  Of course, I favor George Washington, our first president, along with Abraham Lincoln, our 16th president. 

Animated figures of each President of the United States at the Hall of Presidents, Disney World, Orlando.

When I think of the presidents, their sacrifices and their significance to United States, my mind naturally reflects on Abraham Lincoln. He was elected to the position in 1860 during one of the toughest times in U.S. history – just before and during the Civil War when thousands upon thousands of fellow citizens lost their lives while being at war with each other – the Union (North) versus the Confederacy (South).

Just think, where would the U.S., and the world, be today if the Union of states was dissolved?  The concept would have Washington, D.C., being replaced by a more northern city as the national capital while the Confederacy’s capital would be somewhere in the south. 

While the Union prevailed, there would need to be a tremendous healing. I would like to go into detail about the nation’s struggles, and the challenges ahead, but my thought for the moment is to highlight something that triggers my emotions – President Lincoln’s assassination. 

As the Civil War was ending and the nation embraced hopes of uniting as one, tragedy struck.

Photo of Ford’s Theatre photo taken in Washington, D.C. by Mathew Brady, between 1862-1875
Modern photo of Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C.

President Lincoln had decided to celebrate the renewed hope of the Union staying together by spending an evening out with his wife. 

After hearing of the president’s plans to attend a play in Ford’s Theatre, a group of conspirators finalized their murderous plan they hoped would revive the Confederate cause.   

While attending the play, Our American Cousin, at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C., Lincoln was shot in the head as he watched the play.  He died the following day at 7:22 a.m., in the Petersen House opposite the theatre. (Wikipedia)

Images from Library of Congress and National Park Service

Lincoln was the first American president to be assassinated, and Lincoln’s funeral and burial marked an extended period of national mourning. More extensive details are found in myriads of documents, archives and publications.  Wikipedia’s link is https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assassination_of_Abraham_Lincoln.  If you visit Washington, D.C., it is worth going to Ford’s Theatre for an in-depth understanding of events.

The images above show how the theatre was restored close to it’s original configuration when President Lincoln was shot. The old door with holes is the original door leading to Lincoln’s box. Some thought the hold was drilled by the perpetrator to ensure the right moment for attack but the family of Ford’s Theatre mentioned Henry Ford, owner, drilled the hole.

The images of the Peterson House across the street from Ford’s Theatre show where Lincoln was taken after being shot, and where he died. The bed is not original but a replica at the same location in the house just inside the house entrance hallway under the stairs. Lincoln was tall and had to be placed on the bed at an angle.

I ask, why does one take the life of another?  Why does one despise – to the point of murder, civil, national leadership such as a president who wants freedom for all; one who prayed and worked endlessly for a Union of states (the United States of America) for the common good and freedom of humankind? 

We may have differences and disagreements, and yes we do, but we need to be peaceful and civil, working toward the common good of a free society under the rule of law, allowing individual freedom to flourish.  

Love and protect freedom; respect life; respect the position of leadership working for the common good, even when we disagree with decisions.

Blessings along the Way!

Ron

Race Traffic – Safe Drive

“Ready, set, go”, or “drivers, start your engines.”

For those traveling Interstate 95 in the U.S, particularly in northeast Florida, you will encounter an extra amount of traffic.  Daytona 500’s speed weeks are this week and the big race – Daytona 500 in Daytona, Florida  – is Sunday. 

Front view of Daytona National Speedway stadium

You’ll notice not only extra traffic but people driving like they are in the race itself, going excessively over the speed limit and darting between other vehicles with drivers trying to drive safely. 

I appreciate our law enforcement doing what they can, but they can’t be everywhere.  SO!  Please drive with extra caution and please don’t let the less responsible ruin your travel plans, nor prevent you from “arriving alive.”  https://www.flhsmv.gov/safety-center/arrivealive/.

Florida Highway Patrol website image to highlight “Arrive Alive.”

Most people don’t realize they can call *FHP or *347 while in Florida to help with an emergency on the Interstate, or to report a hazardous condition.

Also, for those traveling in the Daytona area please be aware of an increase in pedestrians and bicyclists as thousands of people walk, bike and drive the area.  Florida Department of Transportation’s “Alert Today, Alive Tomorrow” emphasis overall and specific traffic safety at https://www.alerttodayflorida.com/

For more information on the Daytona 500 races, the website is https://www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com/Events/Responsive-Event-Calendar.aspx.  (“Drivers, start your engines” is a common phrase used at NASCAR races by a special guest to tell drivers they may start their engines for the race.)

A good source for free traffic information is https//FL511.com

Drive, walk and bike responsibly.

Blessings along the Way!

Ron

Sweet Pete’s

I’m sorry I have to provide another tempting post but I need to share with you about another sweet shop with wonderful décor – Sweet Pete’s.

Peruse these mouth-watering treats with me and capture the smells and taste in your imagination.  You can even make your own candy – and you can indulge in a tasting tour. 

Statue of Peter Behringer at the entrance.

Peter Behringer, owner of Sweet Pete’s, was raised in the chocolate industry. In 1985, when he was eleven years old, his mother opened a family chocolate business, which grew to encompass 32 locations and a large production facility.

After college, Behringer applied his experience in the industry with an on-going education to further hone his chocolate and candy making expertise.

In 2010, Behringer decided to strike out on his own and opened Sweet Pete’s candy shop, located in a whimsically decorated historic home. He quickly went to work, using his confectionary expertise to make the majority of Sweet Pete’s candy by hand.

The rest of Pete’s story is at https://www.sweetpetescandy.com/pages/about-us

Ice cream parlor and party porch upstairs

After appearing on The Profit, Sweet Pete’s opened a new Jacksonville, Florida location in the historic downtown Seminole Club, a building that dates back to 1903 (shown in the photos). The notable location, which hosted a number of well-known visitors such as U.S. Presidents Teddy Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy, sat vacant for ten years until Sweet Pete’s and Lemonis renovated the property.

“This new confectionary emporium is a vast 23,000 square feet, making it one of the largest candy shops in the United States,” states Sweet Pete’s website.

Happy Valentines and any other celebration you wish! Enjoy and eat responsibly. 🙂

Blessings along the Way!

Ron

Sweets Week

Photo of a photo in a Dairy Queen promoting the popular treats.

Since this week is an emphasis on love, sweets, flowers and cards – commonly know as Valentines Day, I figured I should at least post something about sweets, right?

Dairy Queen image of their Cupid Cake. I just have to have some.

Just imagine sitting there in a quaint, relaxing environment with your sweetheart, special friend or just by yourself – tickling your taste buds with some smooth, sweet, soft, flavorful ice cream – even if you’re in the snow. 

What is your favorite ice cream place?  I have many. 

While traveling recently along the U.S. eastern coast, I came upon these signs in a Dairy Queen where we stopped to enjoy this special treat. Dairy Queen is one of my favorite treat stores because of the soft ice cream, smoothness and flavor.  Plus, they’ve been around awhile – satisfying the elder and youth alike. 

While at this particular DQ I noticed old photos on the wall so I decided to capture some of the history with my camera. I delight in seeing images and information from earlier years.  It sort of takes me back in time. 

Wow! If only we had these same prices today as years ago. I could eat to my heart’s content.

Check out this timeline that were posted on the DQ wall:

1938 Americans discover McCullough’s softer and tastier ice cream called “soft serve.”

1940 “The cone with the curl on top” lights up for the first time in Juliet, Illinois.

1949 Shakes and malts are added to the cones, sundaes and take-home pints.

1953 The first Dairy Queen opens in Canada.

1955 The Dilly Bar is introduced to popular acclaim.

1961 The 3,000 store chain launches Mr. Misty, pioneering the      “slush” drink business.

1968 The Buster Bar debuts.

1971 The “scrumpdillyishus” Peanut Buster Parfait” arrives with phenomenal success. (This writer even uses this term today to reference something very tasty)  😊

1979 Dairy Queen debuts in the Middle East

1980 “We treat you right” theme line is introduced

1981 Dairy Queen menu now includes signature frozen cakes and logs.

1985 The blizzard treat makes a spectacular debut.

1991 The first Dairy Queen opens in Mexico.

1992 Dairy Queen debuts in Beijing, China.

1996 The first DQ location opens in Thailand.  There are more than 160 stores operating there today.

1998 DQ is purchased by legendary investor Warren Buffet.

2004 The MooLatte drink premieres and is an instant hit

2006 The first US/Canada Miracle Treat Day occurs

2007 A new DQ logo is unveiled.

2010 The 6,000th DQ opens in Shanghai, China.

2015 The DQ system celebrates its 75th Fanniversary.

Today – DQ continues to operate with great food and treats in more than 6,700 stores worldwide

I must admit I have savored ice cream in many places around the world. I have never been disappointed; however, I still like the soft, fluffy texture of the DQ. 

Maybe we’ll just take a little trip to the local DQ on Valentines Day.  How about you?

Blessings along the Way!

Ron

Cuddly Pandas

There are only a few around the world, but doesn’t everyone enjoy the panda? 

We had the opportunity to see them at the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington, D.C. recently. 

According to the National Zoo in Washington the giant pandas are native to central China and represent the vulnerable species.  “As few as 1,864 giant pandas live in their native habitat, while another 300 pandas live in zoos and breeding centers around the world.”

The Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute is a leader in giant panda conservation. Ever since these charismatic bears arrived at the zoo in 1972 (National Zoo), animal care staff and scientists have studied giant panda biology, behavior, breeding, reproduction and disease. These experts are also leading ecology studies in giant pandas’ native habitat. The Zoo’s giant panda team works closely with colleagues in China to advance conservation efforts around the world. (National Zoo)

The current giant pandas belong to China.  Mei Xiang and Tian Tian arrived at the National Zoo on Dec. 6, 2000.  Unlike Ling-Ling and Hsing-Hsing before them, they are on loan. In exchange, the zoo contributes funds and expertise toward conservation efforts in China.

The zoo reached an agreement with the Chinese government stipulating the pair could live at the zoo for 10 years in exchange for $10 million. On Jan. 20, 2011, Zoo Director Dennis Kelly and Secretary General of the China Wildlife Conservation Association Zang Chunlin, signed a new Giant Panda Cooperative Research and Breeding Agreement, which stipulated giant pandas Mei Xiang and Tian Tian would remain at the Zoo until December 2015. 

Apparently there are ongoing negotiations concerning how long the pandas remain at the National Zoo.  Currently, they are scheduled to live there through 2020. 

The National Zoo website provides excellent information at https://nationalzoo.si.edu/animals/giant-panda.  You can see live videos of the pandas and their activities.  Volunteers observe panda activity and habits each day from their control room. 

The three pandas at the National Zoo in Washington are:

Tian Tian is a male born on August 27, 1997, at the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda at the Wolong National Nature Reserve in Sichuan Province, to Yong Ba and Pan Pan.  Born to Tian Tian are Bei Bei and Tai Shan (Wikipedia)

Mei Xiang is a female giant panda born on July 22, 1998, at the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda in Wolong, Sichuan Province.  Mei Xiang had six offsprings.  Current offsprings are Bei Bei and Tai Shan.  (Wikipedia)

Bei Bei is a male giant panda cub and is part of US-China relations panda diplomacy.  He will be sent to the People’s Republic of China at the age of 4. He is the brother of both Tai Shan and Bao Bao. (Wikipedia) Bei Bei’s parents are Mei Xiang and Tian Tian.

Can you tell the difference between Mei Xiang and Tian Tian?

Also, can a giant panda be considered a giant teddy? 

Blessings along the Way!

Ron