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Magical Moment 628, "Home is Where the Bread is"

One of the best things about visiting home, is spending time with not only the people that you feel most comfortable around, but at the places you feel most comfortable in. One of those places is my Grandma's house. She's lived there with my Grandpa since I was born, and I myself spent 6 years of my life calling that house, "home."
If you asked any of my siblings or cousins, they would tell you that one of the staple memories of our childhood, are the squirrels. They've been lovingly hand-fed for decades by my grandparents. I remember my Grandpa even naming some of them... Bertha and Clyde. Well, Bertha and Clyde have gone on to produce many generations since I was 4, but they all still know right where to get their daily meal. From my Grandma's own hand. When I went "home" last month, it was good to see that some things never change.
With me, this guy was kind of tentative. But when it's just my Grandma, she has to block the doorway with her body…

Magical Moment 627, "Shadow"

A few weeks ago, I assisted my family in around the clock care for the family dog, Shadow. He had been diagnosed with canine lymphoma and was getting close to his final days. We made an effort for someone to be nearby at all times in case of an emergency.
Though Shadow was in his final stages, our family was only beginning to understand that after 11 years, inevitably we would no longer see his powerful, wagging tail when we entered the house, or hear his deep bark that a stranger would mistake for ferocious, but would soon learn it was only a friendly ‘hello.’
I began to think about these things one day as I ran the bike trail. The song “Awake My Soul” by Mumford and Sons came on my iPod. And my thoughts turned to my Sheltie of 14 years, Duchess, whose passing broke my heart 4 years ago. There is no easy way to lose a pet or any loved one and I wondered how my family would get through Shadow’s passing.
I came to a fork in the road - either go back home, or run an extra 3 miles - that da…

Magical Moment 626, "Thailand - The Leftovers!"

Well, it's been a busy couple of weeks! Since my last post, I have made a trip home to Nebraska, quit my jobs, and moved with Eddie to southern Georgia! We are here temporarily until Eddie completes a training course. While he is hard at work with training, I am exploring the music scene down here and have high hopes for our 7 month stay. :) So, I apologize for not getting around to as many posts as I wanted.
I wanted to finish up sharing about our Thailand trip with some "leftovers." These are pictures I wanted to share that made me smile, that really didn't fit into any other category of religion, elephants, etc. ~~~
On our plane ride to Bangkok, I excitedly read the electronic tour guide on my airplane screen. I was a little bummed to find out that at a little over 5'8, I may have trouble with the shopping.... "Unless you are a tall western woman." Hmmm.
One late night, our exhaustion forced us to have pizza delivered to our hotel room. It came with no l…

Magical Moment 625, "Thailand - the Elephants"

Needless to say, my favorite part of our Thailand vacation, was our week long volunteering at Elephant Nature Park!
The logging industry was banned in Thailand in 1989, leaving thousands of elephants unemployed. These elephants are now used for tourism. You may have heard of elephant shows featuring the animals playing soccer or painting pictures with their trunks. They are no doubt amazing to watch, but the sad truth is that these elephants have gone through a series of torture and abuse to "break their spirit" by their trainers. This short clip is very hard to watch, but it will give you an idea of what the elephants in captivity in the country of Thailand go through.

The only elephants in Thailand who do not endure this, are the very few baby elephants who are first generation born in "safe captivity" at places like Elephant Nature Park. Every other elephant at this park has been brutally abused. Some have been blinded by their owners, legs broken and never proper…

Magical Moment 624, "Thailand - Music and National Parks!"

We stayed in the city of Chiang Mai for a few days at a hotel near the Tha Phae Gate, which is the remnants of the ancient city that dates back to the 1300s. On Sunday evenings, this gate is the beginning of an enormous walking market. This mostly caters to tourists and is a chance for them to see and purchase authentic souvenirs made by the local people. Eddie and I got the chance to go 2 different Sundays. It goes for miles and we never even got to all of it. (click to enlarge)

Here, we witnessed some pretty interesting things. At one point, a loud speaker announced something in Thai. Suddenly, the thousands of people that filled the streets stood to their feet in silence. We realized they were playing the Thailand National Anthem.

We saw and heard so many interesting musicians in Thailand. I wished I could have recorded them all. Left: This man stopped his traditional Thai song when he saw me with a camera and began playing jingle bells...way to read to your audience, my fellow street m…

Magical Moment 623, "Thailand - the Temples!"

The Buddhist religion is an enormous part of Thailand's life and culture. We saw more temples than I could keep track of. They're beautiful and ornate. Most are open to tourists to visit. They ask visitors to cover their knees and shoulders and remove their shoes out of respect. (click to enlarge)

Another interesting aspect were the numerous Spirit Houses that were kept in businesses, homes, even open fields and roadsides. It was explained that these houses are more or less tributes to ancestors and those who have passed on. You will always see water bottles, meals, even beer or fried chicken sitting on these Spirit Houses as gifts to those gone. They may be to passed away loved ones, or to unknown spirits. If someone is building a business, they will also make a spirit house in tribute to whoever lived and died on that land before them, though they never knew them personally. 
This was a large Spirit House by our hotel in Bangkok
These workers take a break near a small Spirit Ho…

Magical Moment 622, "Thailand - the Markets!"

We got our first true taste of Thailand in Bangkok. We knew we only had a short amount of time here and wanted to make the most of it, so we went straight from the airport to Taling Chan where we visited a floating market. This cab ride was most interesting because our awful American pronunciation of "Taling Chan" did not register with this cab driver. He made several cell phone calls (while driving through the terrifyingly chaotic streets of Bangkok) to friends who had a better understanding of English, and finally we made a connection!
We were mesmerized when we arrived and wandered around (suitcases and all) through the Taling Chan Floating Market. Here we met a Thai woman working at a stand who spoke impeccable English. She kindly offered to keep our bags safe with her while we explored unhindered. Of all the scary stories we'd heard of Bangkok, thefts, and scams, she certainly proved there were exceptions to that stereotype.
Floating markets are numerous throughout Th…