Happenings in March Family and Camping
2019 is a big milestone year for my three daughters. Kaity is turning 16, Elissa turned 18, and Grace turned 21. Kaity’s birthday is this month, and not only is she hitting her sweet 16, but she’s also going to be getting her driver’s license. She’s in a health science academy program that helps people develop careers in medicine, and I’m very happy that she can drive herself to and from school – especially when her clinicals start. I’m not sure exactly if that’s where she’s headed in life, but she’s very excited to be in the program, and I’m happy for her. I also learned just recently that Yellowstone National Park was established almost 150 years ago on March 1. Thinking about the park made me think about when I was in the Boy Scouts. We would do a lot of canoeing on the Brazos River, plus many pioneering activities such as building monkey bridges or zip-lines out of logs and twine. We also used to go rifle shooting, and once in a while we got together out in the woods for a mountain man campout. All the scouts and leaders would sleep outside, and we’d do ”outdoorsman” activities during the trip, like hatchet throwing, black powder rifle shooting, and having a chili cook-off. Boy Scouts was a lot of fun! I’m not sure if my troop still does this (I do know it still exists!), but when I joined the troop we’d get together and go camping once a month, rain or shine, hot or cold. The only time we wouldn’t go on a camping trip was if there were “While we were still making our plans, my eldest daughter, Grace, heard the word ‘camping’ and the next thing we knew, we were staying at a really nice hotel for the whole trip.”
One of the last times the whole family decided to go camping was last year. Our plan was to camp up in the Great Smoky Mountains, take in the scenery, and enjoy some good old family time together. While we were still making our plans, my eldest daughter, Grace, heard the word “camping,” and the next thing we knew we were staying at a really nice hotel for the whole trip. Truth be told she was planning the whole trip and discovered that the only campsites available involved cold showers, so we didn’t protest too much. Besides these two trips, I haven’t gone tent camping or enjoyed much of a mountain man life. I know my younger self loved spending time outdoors in the woods and sleeping in tents and hammocks, but I definitely would prefer to stay in a hotel now. I’ve been there, done that, and I’m not sure if I’d do much of it anymore. Even with that being said, I wouldn’t mind going out once in a while, especially with a camp trailer.
some safety issues that we had to consider. We’d go to all sorts of places, such as Fort Sill in Oklahoma where we toured the base, and another just outside Houston. One year, we even went hiking in the mountains of New Mexico at the Philmont Scout Reservation. The Philmont trip was during one of its two (I’m not sure how they managed that) 75th Anniversary celebrations. We had a great time walking the trails, looking at the Anasazi petroglyphs, and climbing some of the most iconic mountains around – Old Baldy and the Tooth of Time. We only hiked on the side of Old Baldy but went up the Tooth of Time. It was a great trip. Although I haven’t gone on any recent camping trips, I’m always happy to think about the time I spent as a scout and how much fun I had. The last time I slept in a tent was when I took Elissa and Kaity to the Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas. We were all pretty excited to dig for diamonds, though none of us found anything. The three of us camped out in tents and slept in some hammocks that I rigged up for us, a trick I learned back while I was in the scouts.
I hope all of you have a wonderful March!
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THE CURIOUS CASE OF THE DISAPPEARING FLAGS An Inside Job
Determined to find out who was to blame, police put up surveillance cameras and recorded the goings-on in the cemetery. As they watched the tapes, sure enough, they saw one of the culprits sitting atop a gravestone with an empty flagpole in front of him. It was a groundhog.
Theft is a serious matter, made even more grave when the victims are fallen war heroes. Such was the situation that stumped police in Hudson, New York, in 2012. The crime was first committed in July of the previous year. Flags had been placed around the graves of soldiers in Cedar Park Cemetery — only to go missing right around Independence Day. Veterans groups and locals were outraged and mystified by the crime. Some worried that a hate group was to blame, as the missing flags had adorned the graves of Jewish soldiers. Veterans worked to replace the flags, one by one, and right the wrong. No culprit was found, and the community moved on — until the following July, when the mystery repeated itself. Like the year before, flags were placed on veterans’ graves in honor of Independence Day, and again, they went missing sometime in the night, this time taken from the graves of African American Civil War soldiers. Cemetery caretaker and veteran Vincent Wallace was appalled, as was the rest of his community. “I just can’t comprehend the mindset that would allow someone to do this,”Wallace said. When retirement approaches, you may be thinking about the freedom you’ll enjoy after putting in your last nine-to-five. It’s a culmination of years of hard work and a cause for celebration! Before you get to celebrate, though, it’s important to consider what kind of support you might need down the road. With our generation living longer than our parents, there’s a possibility that we may require additional support services. You and your spouse may not know if either of you will need in-home care, but considering this possibility and the financial factors that come with it can help you better enjoy this exciting phase of your life. In most cases, neither Medicare or Medicaid covers in-home care. There are some exceptions, like home- and community-based services that are state and locally funded and cover those who qualify through Medicaid. If you or your spouse are veterans and meet the requirements, you may be eligible for aid and attendance benefits. These benefits are paid for by the VA in addition to a veteran’s monthly pension. It may cover the costs of in-home care for veterans who require the aid of another person or are housebound. Visit Benefits. va.gov to learn more. Still, you may not want to rely on qualifying for one of these services. Consider adapting your estate plan to include designated in-home care. Meet with your attorney to review your living trust and see if it addresses a caregiver.
Apparently, the wooden flagpoles attract groundhogs, something other groundskeepers have experienced as well.
“I’m glad we don’t have someone who has taken it upon themselves to desecrate the stones and the flags in front of them,” said Hudson mayor Bill Hallenbeck. “We can all rest a little easier knowing that it was a critter and not a human defacing our flags, especially those of the veterans,” added Hudson’s police commissioner.
Turns out Punxsutawney Phil has some very naughty cousins — ones who aren’t subject to the law.
Creating a Home Care Plan
TO LIVE YOUR BEST RETIREMENT
Talk to your family members and loved ones about the possibility that you or your spouse may need this service. While a family member may offer to step into that role, consider how easily they will be able to carry it out. Even a part-time caregiver could provide you with support and make your family members feel like they are not doing it alone. Planning for the possibility that you may need in-home care services can help make your retirement even more enjoyable. Knowing you’ll have a close helping hand can ease your family’s worries and even strengthen your bond.
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TAKE A BREAK
3 Ways to Honor International Women’s Day
On March 8, people around the world will honor International Women’s Day. Adopted by the United Nations in 1975, the holiday is meant to highlight the immeasurable accomplishments of women throughout history and draw attention to the ongoing struggle for global gender equality. International Women’s Day is celebrated differently around the world. Some nations, like Nepal, give all their citizens the day off. Most countries, however, including the United States, treat it as a normal day, at least officially. Even though we don’t have the day off, there are many ways for everyone to honor International Women’s Day this year. Here are a few of them. From major innovators, like Ada Lovelace, the world’s first computer programmer, to megalithic literary icons, like Maya Angelou, women throughout history have shaped how we live our lives. Whether you’re inspired by famous historical figures or the women in your own life, take the time to talk about that influence. Which women helped get you where you are today? What female leaders do you look up to? What are some lessons you’ve learned from them? Many of the challenges women face globally happen in the workplace. If you think your company has room for improvement in its treatment of women, now is a great time to do something about it. Even if you believe your company treats women and men equally, there’s no harm in empowering your colleagues to talk to give their opinions. If you’re an employer, this could mean giving women in your workplace an avenue to discuss issues, air grievances, and make suggestions. If you’re an employee, consider asking for such a forum. In either case, providing both public and anonymous avenues for women to express themselves is a great way for your company to take a step forward in fostering gender equality. TALK ABOUT THE WOMENWHO INSPIRE YOU MAKE ROOM FOR CONVERSATION IN THE WORKPLACE Regardless of your gender, March 8 is the perfect time to tune in to the larger conversation surrounding gender inequality, if you haven’t already. This could mean attending meetings or demonstrations in your town, reading works that capture the female struggle for equality, such as Roxane Gay’s“Difficult Women,”or seeking out blogs and social media accounts from gender equality activists online. International Women’s Day is about appreciating the contributions of women to society and envisioning a more equal world for the future. However, you decide to celebrate women this March, keep in mind that no matter who you are or where you come from, we all have the power to change our world for the better. JOIN THE CONVERSATION
ASPARAGUS AND AVOCADO SOUP
This hearty soup is the perfect meal for those late winter days when you think spring will never come. It can be made vegetarian by substituting vegetable broth for the chicken stock.
• 1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and cubed • Juice of 1/2 lemon • 1 tablespoon ghee or coconut oil • Salt and pepper, to taste
• 12 ounces asparagus • 1 tablespoon olive oil • 2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped • 2 cups chicken stock
1. Heat oven to 425 F. 2. On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss asparagus and garlic with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast for 10 minutes. 3. Transfer asparagus to blender. Add remaining ingredients and puree until smooth. 4. Season to taste and serve.
Inspired by CookEatPaleo.com
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From the Desk of Aaron Miller
The Curious Case of the Disappearing Flags Considering the Costs of Home Care Asparagus and Avocado Soup 3 Ways to Honor International Women’s Day
Getting the Most Out of Your Digital Home Assistant
Get the Most Out of Your Digital Home Assistant
you’re set. You can communicate in any room where another device is present.
What you can do, however, is make use of what you already have. Here are some ways to put your digital assistants to work without committing to a connected home. Both the Echo and the Home make excellent communication hubs. In the home, they can be used as a local intercom system. Do you have a few Echo Dots or Google Home Minis? If you do,
More and more people are welcoming in the Amazon Echo or the Google Home into their spaces. Everyone knows they make great Bluetooth speakers and can tell you the weather forecast, but they’re also capable of so much more. Digital assistants can do a variety of tasks depending on how much you want them to do for you. For example, if you want your digital assistant to be heavily involved in your daily life, you can use the Echo or the Home as the core of your “connected home.”You can connect numerous compatible devices to these assistants, including other Bluetooth or networked speakers, lights, thermostats, coffee makers, refrigerators, and even microwaves. Of course, therein lies the challenge — you must have compatible devices to make a connected home efficient. And let’s be honest: Many of us aren’t going to buy a connected fridge or Wi-Fi enabled lightbulbs just to get the most out of our digital assistants.
Your digital assistant can also make outgoing calls. As long as the device has access to your contacts (or the person you’re trying to contact has an Echo or Home), you can easily make the connection. Want to send a text message? No problem! You can dictate a text to anyone in your smartphone’s contact list and send it without ever touching your phone. Aside from communications, the assistants can handle calendars, appointments, emails, and more. You can ask for information relevant to you, like “When is my flight again?” Google Home can recognize your voice, or the voice of anyone in the house, and respond accordingly. There’s no worry that anyone’s calendar or appointments will be mixed up with yours. If you want to learn more, search for tutorials online. We’ve only scratched the surface when it comes to what these digital assistants can do for you.
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