Thanksgiving Hangover and a New Holiday Season ~ by Darlene Kuncytes


Well, we did it. Thanksgiving is over. Black Friday is done, and we are now in full on holiday mode!

This year is going to be different than any other before. The holidays are so special for so many different reasons, but this year we are living in a different reality. One most, if not all of us, have never faced before.

That being said, it doesn’t mean that it has to suck.

I always take time on Thanksgiving to reflect on all the things I have been thankful for throughout the year, and I will admit that this year it has been a little tough.

But I still found some!

I got up each morning this year.

I continued to write and to work and was able to talk with friends and family. I am so grateful that I can say that.

So, let’s remember to enjoy the season as much as we can. There are so many things we can still do to make is special! Video chat with loved ones and sing carols!

Pile into the car, grab some hot chocolates and drive around to see the lights. It’s a safe way to enjoy the beauty of Christmas!

Don’t send out cards this year to the people you talk to. Instead, how about sending those Christmas cards to a retirement home? That small gesture might just mean the world to someone. 

Yes, things are going to be hugely different this holiday season. But we can do our darnedest to make sure that it is STILL a wonderful, magical time of year! 

Don’t you think we all deserve it?

No matter what holiday you celebrate, do something to make it mean something this year. 

More than any other year, we need to do something that might just inspire someone. 

Be safe. Be happy. And know that we will persevere! 

We kind of rock like that! 😉

Have an amazing holiday season!
Love and kisses! 

Pictures courtesy of Google 

Aviation Through the Eyes of a Photographer ~ Keely M. Flatow


(c) Keely M. Flatow
I am a photographer. For me, photography is more than a hobby, it’s part of who I am. I consider myself a visual artist who uses a camera as a way to express my joy and passion for aviation. 

I love everything about airplanes. The sleek shapes, curves, angles, and the way the wings attack the air as they depart from the runway and take to the freedom of the sky.

(c) Keely M. Flatow

I see airplanes as more than just machines. They each have a unique spirit and personality all their own. I have a special affinity for vintage WWII airplanes, but especially the C-47 Skytrain or “Gooney Bird” as it’s affectionately called. Don’t get me wrong, I love the heart-pounding, ear-splitting roar of four B-1 engines in full afterburner, but it doesn’t make me swoon like the throaty sounds of two radial engines and propellers cutting into the air!

(c) Keely M. Flatow
I didn’t much spend time around vintage planes until I moved back to my hometown of Missoula, Montana from Washington, D.C. in May 2019. I lived and worked in D.C. for 10 years after serving 12 years on active duty with the Air Force where I lived all over the world. Just two months after moving home, I started volunteering for the Museum of Mountain Flying and met the most special C-47 in existence (in my humble opinion, anyway) that became my personal inspiration and photographic muse. When she was born, she was known as NC24320, and later bestowed the name of Miss Montana in honor of all the Montanans who fought and died in WWII. She shares her name with another WWII Veteran B-25 flown by a Montana native and pilot whose grandson is now Miss Montana’s captain and President of the Museum . Miss Montana’s touching and incredible story is much too long to share here, but I highly recommend reading about her in the book, ‘Every Reason to Fail’ by Bryan Douglass. I promise you’ll be moved and inspired! I even had the opportunity to fly in a WWII veteran B-25 Maid in the Shade and got to shoot photos from the cockpit and nose pod as it flew over my home in the Bitterroot Valley. It was an experience I’ll never forget! 

(c) Keely M. Flatow
I love being a visual artist. It’s my goal to find new ways to see old aircraft. I want to bring the planes to life and connect the public with these beautiful machines. We must keep them alive and flying to be a visual reminder of the brave men and women who fought and died for their country in conflicts around the world. 

(c) Keely M. Flatow

So far in my photography career, I’ve found an enthusiastic audience with both plane lovers and those who connect on an emotional level with my art. I hear from veterans and their families how much they appreciate the way I present the history and heritage of vintage aviation. Even if they don’t like planes or air travel, they tell me they feel the connection to the aircraft through my work. It’s my mission to show that these metal veterans of the air deserve honor, respect, and dignity for their service to our country.

You can follow more of my work on Instagram:@keelyf29 and contact me there for prints if you’re interested. My website will launch soon!  


Ruffle Your Feathers ~ by Grace Augustine

Feather, the component structure of the outer covering and flight surfaces of all modern birds. Unique to birds, feathers apparently evolved from the scales of birds’ reptilian ancestors. The many different types of feathers are variously specialized for insulation, flight, formation of body contours, display, and sensory reception. ( )

In today's society, feathers are used for crafts, as adornments on fabric, and as pillow filling, though not so much the latter with the synthetics that are available today.

Native Americans believe that if a feather is on their path it is a gift to them. It is seen as energy from the life form who dropped it. Once the person is given a feather, the person must cherish it and care for it. It is to be displayed in the home, not stuck away in a drawer or closet.

I have a love of feathers, and quite a collection. I have one that is especially sacred to me. When this particular feather fell upon my path, I consulted a couple Native American friends who told me the ritual that needed to be done. It was sacred. I felt the spirit of the animal and could almost hear it.

Each bird species holds special traits that are gifted to the human who comes upon a feather from that bird. Here are some examples:

Crow tail feathers: a symbol of foresight are usually given to young boys.

Hummingbird: Love

Raven: Creativity and knowledge

Falcon: Healing, motion and speed

Eagle: This is the most sacred of all feathers. 

United States law recognizes the unique significance of eagle feathers in Native American culture, religion, and tradition. The eagle is a highly protected creature under U.S. law, but special exceptions are made to allow Native Americans to possess, pass down, gift, and acquire eagle feathers within specific conditions. 

An eagle's feathers are given to another in honor, and the feathers are displayed with dignity and pride. They are handled with great regard. In fact, if an eagle feather is dropped during a dance, a special ceremony is performed before picking it up again, and the owner is careful to never drop it again.

The eagle feather is also used to adorn the sacred pipe because it is a symbol of the Great Spirit who is above all and from whom all strength and power flows. When a feather is held over a person’s head, it is a blessing, wishing bravery and happiness. Like many Native American symbols, some even choose to tattoo feathers on their bodies to help them on their journey or to tell their story. To wave it over everyone present means everyone is wished peace, prosperity, and happiness. ( )

I have collected feathers for many years. Big ones, medium sized, small, very small, black, brown, white, orange.  In all of those I have been gifted, I have yet to have a cardinal or blue jay gift one to me.

I am always so excited when I see a feather! Every time I go outside, there is one at my feet, on my way to my vehicle, or even inside my car (I don't ask how that gets there)

I can remember driving down the interstate on a summer day with the sunroof open. A red tail hawk flew through the sunroof, perched on my shoulder for not more than 3 seconds and flew back out. (I had the claw marks in my shoulder to prove its presence!) It was an incredible moment.

I pay attention to the birds. Before August 11th when the derecho hit,
there was a grove of trees to the east of my apartment. Owls hooted at night. Hawks and falcons of various sizes flew through to land in the trees. Blue jays, cardinals, juncos, sparrows, robins, wrens, and some I've never seen took up residence in the branches. 

The next time you see a feather, pick it up. Examine it. Hold it and connect with its spirit. You may receive a message meant just for you.

To read my other posts, please click HERE to be redirected to my members page.

All photos are property of Grace Augustine and may not be used without permission.

Un-Girly Bridal Showers ~ by Ruth Ross Saucier

A good friend of mine (let’s call her Sherie) was throwing a bridal shower for her soon-to-be sister-in-law, Connie (not her real name, either). As a friend of both of them, I was invited to the shower held by the groom’s mother.  It was typical. Attended by both the mother’s generation and the bride’s friends, all the women there were mature. Still, we played silly little games like scrambled words that related to the kitchen, that sort of thing. Tame. Ordinary. Very sweet. No surprises.

Sherie, however, was also hosting a bridal shower for Connie. From the second we left the first shower, Sherie vowed she would never do anything so lame; she had to do something more inventive.  More fun. More grown-up. Agreeing to that, I ended up in charge of games.


Games for women who were past the age of blushing brides. Games that were fun. Inventive. And perhaps a bit bawdy, because Connie was a nurse, and we knew from firsthand experience that nurses were neither shy not easily embarrassed. What could we do?

Taking a cue from the first shower I decided to create a scrambled word game.  What could I use as a theme? George Carlin had just released a follow-up to his famous comedic bit, “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television”. Go ahead, Google it; he changed comedic and legal history with this bit. He was also arrested for saying those infamous words in a show in Milwaukee in 1972. His follow-up to the first seven words bit included words that were much worse and a whole new level of vulgar.  The follow-up bit is more difficult to find today, but then I had Carlin on videodisc.  The words I didn’t understand, I left out; but that left a wide range of highly ribald vocabulary that I could ascertain by context and guesswork. Very enlightening, even for nurses!

For a second game, I had heard about a contest where guests blew up balloons and then burst them.  That seemed a starting point, but how could I dress that up for a bunch of mature nurses at a wedding shower? When I saw the long balloons on a rack at Party City, I had an inspiration.  Guests would not only blow up a balloon, they would blow up three balloons: one long and two round. (Go ahead, I’ll give you a minute to visualize this.) Then they would take a rubber band and tie the three balloons together, two round and one long. Lastly, they would have to sit on the balloons to break them.  (Go ahead, I’ll wait.) First one to break her balloons wins. Got it?

Everybody was laughing hard when the game was explained. Then they started to blow up the balloons. They blew and they blew and they blew.  They laughed and kept puffing.  They turned red- and purple-faced, nearly passing out. After ten minutes, NOBODY had managed to blow up a single balloon; what was happening?

The room filled with sputtering and laughing; most were lying on the floor and trying to catch their breath. After ten minutes more of puffing and gasping, a few had managed to inflate a balloon, and others were slowly collecting their sets of three.  

By the thirty-minute mark, we had a room full of women bobbing around the room, howling and shrieking, bouncing on their suggestive balloons and ricocheting off each other. By the time someone finally got all three balloons to break, wheezing laughter and exhausted demands for explanations filled the room.

I had no explanation.

Then somebody grabbed the bag the balloons came in and said: “Hey! These are helium quality balloons!”

Tough buggers, those helium quality balloons! 

[Highly recommended party game, but only for respiratory-abled individuals.]

For more posts by this author click:  Ruth Ross Saucier Author Page

Hitting a Brick Wall? ` by Lexa Fisher


I usually don't think of a brick wall so pretty as the embossed pattern above from one of my fellow card makers. This example inspired me to challenge myself to see what I could do with cards that start out as empty brick walls. Along the way I also looked at a few examples of brick sayings--hit the bricks, gold bricking, and hitting a brick wall.


Hitting the bricks with my first attempt provided a much needed warm-up opportunity. My favorite card supply shop closed last January and I was a little rusty from the lack of camaraderie and inspiration. Starting simple, I colored bricks using a stencil my husband designed and made on one of his 3D printers.

My second card has raised bricks that were done with the stencil and tinted modeling paste. My husband shares his 3D creations on Thingiverse and this is his most often downloaded design. Sounds like other card creators like Thingiverse.

My card making muscles are warm now, so my next card used the Glaminator to create a shiny red brick wall. Another tool I pulled out was my Cricut to cut out the letters J and Y. 



Here's where I recalled the phrase "to gold brick", meaning to cheat or swindle. My first idea was to use gold glitter for the bricks. A lot of crafters hate working with glitter, and I'll admit that after this trial I've had my fill for the year :) 

Then I switched to gold leaf--still a bit messy, but not as much as glitter, and it's not something to be used during allergy season! It may look like you're pulling out a tiny pinch, but it really fluffs up and  breathing on it will send it all over the room. Here is a card made with gold leaf.

That's enough designing with bricks, so I'm hitting the yellow brick road to make other holiday card creations!

Photo by Akshay Nanavati on Unsplash




Thanksgiving Hangover and a New Holiday Season ~ by Darlene Kuncytes

  Well, we did it. Thanksgiving is over. Black Friday is done, and we are now in full on holiday mode! This year is going to be different th...