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Storytelling is based on the word, being an honorable person of integrity is based on your word.
– Jesse Williams  
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  Volume No. 17 Issue No. 8 August 2020  

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  The summer of 2020
  By Mark Stoller

   Mark Stoller moved to Falcon in 2007. He and his wife, Andra, both U.S. Air Force veterans, enjoy life with their daughters, extended family and adopted rescue dogs in Latigo. Mark savors the privilege of his wife and daughters being his muse for topics, people to meet and places to investigate.
We are in July, the year is half over, and I honestly don’t know whether to say, “Already?” or “Thank goodness.”
   
   Of note, we recognize July 4 as the 244th anniversary of our independence. It would be nice if we could ignore all the politics and rest on the common denominator of being American.
   
   In our current state of cultural flux, I suspect we don’t exactly feel like the “United” States, but we do enjoy our freedoms. This includes the First Amendment and the unfortunate ability of folks to say a lot of stupid things.
   
   Anyway, another good thing about July is we’re definitely into the summer season. It’s time we enjoyed more sunshine and warmer temperatures.
   
   Speaking of sunshine, I read how European scientists have drawn stronger links between patients with severe cases of COVID-19 and an associated vitamin D deficiency in their body. If you can’t get outside for natural vitamin D from the sun, pick up a bottle of Vitamin D3 to take daily.
   
   COVID-19 is still lurking out there — Texas, Florida and Arizona all had spikes of over 3,200 positive COVID cases, in each state, in one day. I would guess the numbers have increased as of the NFH publishing date.
   
   Let’s turn our focus to summer fun.
   
   School is out, travel restrictions have eased, and it’s time for outside activities and vacations. Country Living posted an article titled, “68 Fun Summer Activities for Your Best Season Ever” with some really great ideas to try for yourself.
   
   I remember childhood summers being centered on riding bikes around the neighborhood, building forts, playing baseball in the Knothole League, playing catch with my dad, and working in the yard with my parents.
   
   While the yardwork was never interesting, we would listen to Marty Brenneman and Joe Nuxhall give the color commentary on the Cincinnati Reds over the transistor radio while we bagged grass and clippings. Those were the days when the Cincinnati Reds were known as the Big Red Machine, with Pete Rose, Johnny Bench, Ken Griffey, Davey Concepcion and Joe Morgan.
   
   Teaching young ones how to catch, throw and hit a baseball is an inexpensive and backyard activity for anyone to do this summer. The days are longer so you can play in the evening while it’s still light, and no one is at risk for catching the ball with their face because it’s too dark to see.
   
   Picnics are another fun activity for the family and invited friends. The website Cheapism just ran an article written by Lacy Muszynski titled, “Old School Summer Recipes We Secretly Love.” In another slide show article, she identifies about 35 recipes I remember having at family and church picnics as a kid.
   
   Oldies but goodies include Texas sheet cake, homemade ice cream, Ambrosia salad, Waldorf salad, pineapple upside down cake, three bean salad, tuna noodle casserole, deviled eggs, cheese balls and jello salads of every shape and mixture. Why anyone would put cottage cheese and pineapple together in jello is beyond me — but it seemed to be the thing back in the day!
   
   I understand we can look forward to movie theaters opening again in July. Sixteen major films across the genres will be released. Of the 16 releases, we look forward to seeing “Mulan,” “Bill &Ted Face the Music,” “Wonder Woman 1984” and “A Secret Garden.”
   
   On one hand, we could remember the summer of 2020 as one of face masks, chaos and virus.
   
   Instead, I offer that you make memories of how you and your family played baseball, baked new recipes, started a garden, or made a huge mess roasting hot dogs, shrimp, and marshmallows over your aunt’s ornamental fire pit. (Shhhhh. We are almost done cleaning it)!
  
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