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Welcome!

Part 4 – These rocks rock.

March 23rd, 2009

Hard to believe all this came from a single day’s digging.  I’m getting the knack of using the sun to bring out the beauty of these crystals in the pics below.

The latest discoveries are really amazing.  Check ‘em out.

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Crystals Part 3, First Revelations

March 19th, 2009

The first oxalic acid bath is complete and while some of the stones need another, I’m posting pics of a few that are complete.

My camera doesn’t really do them justice, probably more because of my limited expertise as a closeup photographer than the limitations of the camera, but somehow blaming the equipment feels better.

It’s so amazing to gaze into the water clarity of some of these buried treasures that we dug out of the Arkansas clay.  To see them emerge from the dust and rust to show their stuff is awe inspiring.  Even the tiny ones have amazing personalities upon closer inspection.

If you’re looking for a field trip that will bring you together and restore a sense of wonder in our relationship to Mother Earth, this is an idea to consider.

While these clearly aren’t museum quality pieces, most of them are really beautiful and all are completely unique.  Not bad for a single day on the mountain.

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Crystals Part 2

March 9th, 2009

This is another of my “where the heck are the snakes in this?” posts, but the Arkansas crystal hunting trip has been a significant sideline lately.

Quartz is far more common than diamonds (though not as much so as a certain cartel would have us believe) and therefore not worth much per carat, but the reason that it’s so pricey to own a large,  unusual or exceptionally intact specimen is not only the rarity of such an occurrence, but the pain in the posterior it is to bring a collected specimen to market readiness.

Seriously, this is a lot of work.  Detailed, methodical, repetitive and time consuming.  Given my personality, I really shouldn’t be having as much fun doing it as I am.

The clay doesn’t just wash off.  Stones that were soaking must then be dried so the clay contracts and another power washing session can remove more.  These deposits prevent the acid bath that will follow from getting to some of the rust that prevents the natural clarity from coming through.

Not only that, but I’m trying to end up with usable clay sediments as a byproduct, because of its healing properties.  Seriously, Joan took a nasty cut from one of the crystals she found and it bled only briefly, healed over by the end of the afternoon, and never hurt at all beyond the initial cut.

A nearby newbie miner asked John the guide for a band-aid after a cut.  We heard him tell her, “It won’t stay on for more than a few minutes of digging.  The clay will heal it.”  It’s true.

Here are some pics of this stage of the cleaning process.  Pieces that were barely identifiable under all that mud and clay are beginning to show their stuff, and the next drying stage is underway.

Crystals

March 7th, 2009

Between snake shows this time of year (off-peak for Snake Removal but also Blue and Gold Banquet season – to a Cub Scout, I’m a rock star) we were talking with our friends Randy and Joan about Arkansas.

Julie and I have long been drawn to the unique geometric beauty and energy resonance of quartz crystals.  About 70% of the Earth’s crust is quartz in its myriad forms, and we’ve recently discovered life forms on the planet that are based on silicon (like quartz) not carbon.   In many traditions, Mother Earth is alive – and very conscious.  These beautiful stones really seem to clearly if subtly prove it.

Joan had been to Arkansas on a couple of occasions to visit one of the mines that is open to the public wishing to dig for these little gems.  I realized that the window of great weather for such a day on a mountaintop might not last (it’s getting warm fast) and a couple of days later we were on the road.  We traveled North of Hot Springs to one of the mines located there, and spent a whole day digging in the dirt.  And the mud.  And the clay.  Very fun indeed.  Julie was as happy as a lark digging away at her pile of tailings from the mine below.

The trick to finding these little treasures, many of which are quite small but still beautiful, is to be slow and patient, stopping to soak in the nature around you from time to time.  That was right down her alley.

The mine charged a flat fee per visitor to leave with whatever they could dig up and carry off.

So it was that we drove back to Dallas with a couple of boxes of rocks covered in red mud.  This begins the second discovery of each item, as you clean them off in preparation for a diluted acid bath to remove the iron oxide and reveal the clear or white crystalline structures beneath.   As of today, we’re past the first washing and into the second soaking as the pics below will show.

Turns out oxalic acid is hard to find in Dallas, but all the rock shops were closed as we left Arkansas.  I may resort to muriatic instead, but it’s more dangerous to work with so we’ll see.  I’ll post some after pics once the cleaning process is complete.

Randy took care of the dog, the cats and the horse for us, and we really had a blast learning to dig for buried treasure.  It is really amazing to realize that the crystal you’ve just dug out of the clay may well be seeing the sunlight for the first time in a couple hundred million years or so.

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Sedona

February 19th, 2009

Julie and I were both drawn to make The Big Detour, so I guess it’s time I came out about the reasons why.

Many would call it the metaphysical and spiritual capital of North America.  There’s even an old saying, “God created the Grand Canyon, but he lives in Sedona.”  Having been there, we concur. Going through the area on the way back from California was well worth the extra effort and expense, and it’s one of the most beautiful places we have ever seen. Sedona is also, in many ways, our kind of town.

I don’t know how much it comes across on my site, but an affinity for metaphysics has been a big part of who I am for most of my life. I was raised in a very spiritually centered environment (I was actually born in the small campus hospital of a very parochial university) and early on I began to explore within and beyond the belief system I inherited. I never disavowed most of what I was taught in those days, except the concept of exclusive access to the truth granted to any one consensus of outlook.  I’ve merely embraced a broader spectrum.

You see, I believe in magic.  Real magic.  Otherwise known as science we haven’t figured out yet.  Sometimes because of science we think we’ve got nailed but don’t yet know we’ve got wrong.  History’s full of that.  It’s subtle and often difficult or impossible to prove, but I’ve seen and felt it many times.

That may sound a little cryptic but that part of my life has never been done justice by attempted verbal narrative. Suffice it to say that so far it has morphed into certifications in Usui Reiki (recently) and Alphabiotics (since 1990) in addition to projects in shiatsu, remote acupressure (Julie’s horse taught me that one) meditation, shamanism, ESP, EFT, etc. Without question, it was the underlying reason Julie and I were drawn together.

If you do a search on Alphabiotics you’ll get lots of positive hits and a few negative ones, because it has come under attack several times.  Mostly at the hands of chiropractors who are trying to debunk how much better it works, or say that it’s really chiropractic. It is not, in several ways. Quite a few of my classmates were DC’s, and they certainly knew the difference. It’s a difficult technique to learn, and the chiropractors were generally surprised to find that they didn’t have much of an advantage over us laytypes.

It’s not a cult as the new age watchdog sites will tell you, and the stuff about the only big court case against someone doing this work fails to tell you how long ago it was, how outside the mainstream of the work the practitioner was and how little this all has to do with Alphabiotics today.  It fundamentally reunites matter with spirit and left brain with right, with a resulting dramatic decrease in stress and its side effects.

I’m results oriented – about all of this. If it works, it works. I could go on for hours with the stories of people I’ve known, including close friends and family members, who have seen amazing results with this less invasive and more effective modality. My own story was one of a skinny kid who kept locking up with a muscle spasm (usually left trap muscle) that rendered me incapable of holding my head up quite straight, made it hurt to move and hurt almost as bad not to move. Dr. Virgil Chrane, with that first alignment in 1980, opened a window to a new world for me.

As for Reiki, learning Alphabiotics makes your fingers learn things your verbal side can’t begin to address. I’ve always preferred to end an alignment with an aspect of BEST (bio energy synchronization technique) because it cemented the left – right hemisphere balance, and it let me tune in to the new relaxed and centered energy of the participant.  A very palpable sensation.

As Julie and I learned more about equine acupressure (from a great lady we met from East Texas, which led me to the discovery of the remote variant) we came across the subject of Reiki quite often. I had been the recipient of many sessions over the years from Reiki Master Maji Phillips in Arlington (we’ve traded work on each other over the years) but it had never occurred to me to ask her if it was something I could learn. When I inquired about the process involved, she said yes, and Julie and I became certified level 1 practitioners of Usui Reiki last year.  We underwent level 2 training and attunements in February.   This field has always had a remote version, so the match was perfect.

Julie is really amazing at it.  It’s fun to watch as her horse goes all mushy when she works on him, and the dog, the cats, the squirrels and the cardinals all move in very close to soak up the energy.  As for me, my new abilities in channeling Ki have taken what I can do for a participant to a whole new level, to say the least.

Our plan is to incorporate these modalities into a primarily equine practice that will address the fact that a horse will benefit far more from a Reiki session if the owner receives one too, and since I work on humans and can offer the additional option of an Alphabiotic alignment we’ll be offering an unprecedented combination in the field. Come to think of it, any animal/owner situation could benefit from this.

What does all this have to do with snakes? Actually, the snake is the ultimate example of a spinal column, and my understanding in both fields has been a healing influence on my animals – and provided deeper insight into my work with humans.

So on the way home from California we stopped for the night at the home of my friend Dale and his wife Heidi, and left Phoenix determined to take the scenic route. Funny, as soon as we exited 179 Maggie the Magellan GPS unit thought we were lost. When we reached Oak Creek Village just outside Sedona she thought we were still two hours away. That route starts to turn beautiful pretty fast, and as you enter the canyon it gets really breathtaking. There’s a lot of road work being done in the area but it wasn’t all that much trouble and should be really great when it’s done.

You know you’re in Sedona when you start to see the crystal shops, the healing centers, the jeep tour offices and the incredible backdrop of the landscape all around you. How to describe it? A little like being in the Grand Canyon, only someone let you build a pretty little town and actually live there.

We’re thinking about it.

We hiked the energy vortex known as Bell Rock, and I’ve never seen Charlie the dog happier. I had been worried that at 16 this was going to be a hard trip on him, though he has always loved to go along and would, every time we pull out of the driveway, if we let him. He can’t hear very well and is nowhere near as fast as he used to be. It was a matter of carrying him up steps and into the van the whole trip, but by the time we were leaving Sedona on the trip to Flagstaff he was leaping from stone to stone and going up inclines he would have completely avoided two days earlier.

We spent two nights in Sedona (thanks to Dale, we stayed in a killer resort condo) and are determined to make more of them happen very soon. Great food (most notably Ken’s Creekside Gourmet and APizza Heaven, which was) and all of that incredible scenery. Plus, gorgeous weather – in early February. Sweet. If you’ve never seen it, consider this our highest recommendation.

So how to live there?  Well, there are stables in the area and trail horses need even more TLC from dealing with all those tourists than most I’m sure. They’ll love Julie. I’d be the only Alphabioticist in town (the next nearest is in Scottsdale) and lots of those tourists would want to add the new Sedona Serpentarium to their list of stops when they visit.

I could still do big road shows, and could even do stuff as small as parties, scouting events and libraries in the surrounding area, including Sedona, Prescott, Flagstaff – and Phoenix.

We could even learn to be Cards fans.

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On the Road

February 9th, 2009

This one was really grueling. 3175 miles in 8 days. Stops in Glendale AZ, Glendale CA, Anaheim, Huntington Beach and Laguna Beach, CA; and on the return trip in Quartzite, Glendale – and during our Big Detour through Sedona,  Flagstaff and Albuquerque. It was my privilege and responsibility to be traveling with Julie, Charley (the dog) Alley (cat) four lizards and a dozen snakes.

We rented a big passenger van this time, thinking we’d need the extra space and some room for one of us to sleep while the other drove. Bad idea. 14 mpg on the highway (ouch) and the seats weigh a good 200 pounds each. There’s hardware to remove if you want the floor space too. Worst of all, we were told it had rear climate control, when it in fact had only rear FAN control, and all of the airflow was concentrated on the driver side, so managing the resulting rear temperature zones was extremely problematic the entire trip.

Speaking of which, the departure from Dallas went normally (read late) enough, but a bit west of Weatherford the antenna began to ice up. Shortly thereafter we saw the first of a dozen 18-wheelers we would find lying on their sides as the stretch of I-20 before us was a solid sheet of ice all the way to Odessa.

Among these big rigs who seemed to have forgotten that the rubber side is supposed to stay on the bottom, the last was stretched all the way across both lanes ahead of us. I eased down the left lane past at least a dozen more trucks lined up down the right, and cautiously approached the front of the line. As the overturned rig finally came into view (hard to see with the rubber side pointing toward you in a heavy freezing rain at night) I carefully got out of the van to investigate. The ice under my feet was at least an inch thick. The driver was just climbing out and I was able to confirm that he was okay and 911 had been called.

I then checked to see if there might be a way I could sneak past his cab, going somewhat off the road, to escape. The other drivers said, “We would if we could!” and helped guide us around him. I’ll bet everyone else was trapped there for at least a couple more hours. As it turned out, we didn’t have the time to spare.

On top of having to maintain a top speed of 40 mph for all of those miles, the rain was freezing on the windshield faster than the defroster could keep up with. We had to stop about every 30 miles to let the melting catch up. The antenna just got thicker and thicker. At a few points we had to use a canned de-icer to free the wipers when they froze over too thickly. We only lost traction once, but that brief moment will sure put your heart in your throat. I was carrying very precious cargo.

We thought the extra space in the big van would facilitate a sleeping area for one of us in the back while the other drove, but this night would have none of that. The dog liked it though. More room to stretch out than he was used to.

Beyond the ice we took a short, fitful, shell-shocked nap together (which helped a little) and made our way through New Mexico and Arizona. An old friend of mine lives north of Phoenix in Glendale, so we stopped there for a brief break and headed off for the other Glendale – the one in California and the site of my first interview.

Ryan Ray still has the show up on http://ryanray.com. We were scheduled to be there at 5pm for a 6pm show. We arrived at that very spot at 4:55. It was entirely apropos to do a show under conditions of sleep deprivation in front of a logo that says, “Wake Up!” Check it out – it’s very California. The full name is “Wake Up! Explore Your Passion” and Ryan was interviewing me as an example of someone who gave up the normal career path to pursue a dream. Tell me about it.

Then followed the trip from Glendale to Anaheim. I’m not sure which was worse, the ice – or the 5. Californians are generally a very friendly bunch – until they get behind the wheel. More aggressive than Dallas, more even than Houston. Almost apocalyptic. After that of course, a hotel room about three hundred yards from the entrance to Disneyland is the perfect peaceful and serene environment for recovering from 30 hours of low-level ambient trauma.

Loading in is a pretty big deal for us. It takes four trips with the four wheel dolly at least. If someone raises an eyebrow I just offer, “What can I say? We pack heavy.” That always works.

That was Wednesday night, and fortunately all I had on the books for Thursday was a late morning meeting with Tania (she was awesome) to hammer out the last-minute details, and a quick late afternoon introduction to the meeting of the museum’s board of directors (including Anaheim’s Mayor Curt Pringle) featuring Aussie the Carpet Python, Capone the Tegu and yours truly. That left more time for recovery, including a great meal of sushi and miso to help reset our nerves.

Friday I did something I don’t normally agree to do. Three shows in three hours. I need time between to reset and regroup, but the logistics demanded the schedule we did, and I’m nothing if not a team player. But when the last kid left (I let them greet me and pet Neon on the way out) I had to admit that I was really wiped.

Soo, I loaded up the van again (they all needed a water dish rotation, and that’s easier to do in the hotel room) and got that and a few more details squared away. A quickie nap and we were off to Huntington Beach to do Real Orange for KOCE, followed by a fast trip to Laguna Beach to put those animals in Chris Trela’s office so we could see that marvelous production of “Around the World in 80 Days” at Laguna Playhouse. Great stuff.

Saturday was a bit less hectic, with shows at 11, 1 and 3 for the general public. Julie was there to help with video and after show interactions. Hope the annual show idea works out. We love Muzeo and would be thrilled to be involved in what is bound to be a great future for this innovative approach to the fostering a local interest in the arts.

Then it was Sunday. We got mostly packed up and Chris treated us to brunch at a bakery/café in Downtown Disney. Perfect weather, excellent meal. I’ve always understood why people live in California, I just remain somewhat confused as to how.

It was of course, the day of The Big Game (I understand you can’t use the S-Word without written permission from the NFL these days) but the ticket cues at The Resort were very full. By the time we were on the road again, it was almost game time. We averted a complete mess on the 19 (thanks to Chris again) and took the 57 to the 10 (that’s how they say it there) and we were off – headed East.

We found The Big Game on an AM radio station, but that began a big AM surfing series as we crossed Eastern California, otherwise known as the lunar surface. We got a leg up on that problem from a great guy named Ed that we found at the California Visitor Center in San Bernardino at the 10 and Route 66. He downloaded and printed a list of stations across the regions we were headed through while we browsed the excellent info exhibits. They’ve really put some effort and money into revamping their Info Centers. This one is first class.

We managed to hear most of The Big Game. We were rooting for the Arizona Cardinals, so the game itself was a little stressful, especially when a channel would fade out during an exciting drive. By nightfall we were thinking rest stop and the one we found had an RV parked there, watching the game. We parked next to him and caught Arizona’s last big touchdown play on his big screen through the window. Sweet.

Our next stop was in Quartzite AZ for a meal. Too bad the rock shops you’d expect to find in a town of that name were all closed, but we found a great little bar and grille called The Yacht Club, which made a mean fish ‘n chips. The crowd was understandably subdued, but they had a lot to be proud of in their Cards for making it as close as they did. They almost won The Big Game, and our Cowboys who were expected to do that didn’t even make the playoffs.

By the time we made Phoenix, it was 4 am. A bed and a shower gave us the resolve to take The Big Detour. Sedona, AZ. I’ve always wanted to see the area – felt it calling to me, you could say. Extra rental fees, fuel, mounting incidental expenses and all – we were going.

That’s a whole other story. It’ll be my next entry.  Lots of pics.

Muzeo – Anaheim CA

February 7th, 2009

Wow.  These guys are a class act.

Brand new (only a year old) this museum of the arts is bridging gaps between the art lover and the uninitiated in ways few have ever thought of, and now I’m a part of that.  Very cool.

Like their current exhibit, “The Color of Rock” featuring the art of Philip Burke.   His vivid portraits of rock legends make compelling artwork meaningful to people who might not ordinarily seek out this kind of museum.

Their next exhibit will explore the world of movie monsters.  The big hall will be full of animatronics from Australia.  It starts later this month.

Meanwhile, they made the very bold move involved in hiring a snake handling comic magician (I prefer prestidigitating herpetological humorist) to perform at a museum of the arts.   On Friday they had sponsors funding local schools to see the show (three of them back to back – whew) followed by three shows for the general public on Saturday.   Responses were excellent, and there are discussions in the works for making this an annual event, with lots more schools getting to see the show and more time to generate excitement with the general public.

Director Peter Comisky was as congenial and professional as ever, and special kudos to Events Manager Tania Aguilar, who made everything go smoothly without breaking a sweat.  She is one sharp cookie.  I even got to meet Anaheim’s Mayor Curt Pringle, who is on the museum’s board of directors.   Great guy.

Julie and I were also treated to a night of theater after my fourth appearance on Real Orange, the nightly news show on Orange County’s PBS affiliate.  Good to see Ed Arnold (a recent Golden Mike winner) and co-host Ann Pulice again.  They’re a lot of fun – and very good at what they do.

My friend Christopher Trela (he was at the Discovery Science Center when we first played there) is now the PR Director for Laguna Playhouse in Laguna Beach, where we caught an absolutely delightful and consistently hilarious performance of Jules Vernes’ “Around the World in Eighty Days” done by five amazing actors doing 36 different parts.  It was wonderful.  Best time I’ve had at the theater in years.

That was on Friday.  The first interview was in Glendale on Thursday (at the end of a 30 hour odyssey that included an ice storm from Weatherford to Odessa, TX) for a thoroughly California show called “Wake Up! Explore Your Passion” with Ryan Ray.  His co-host was a psychic intuitive, he and his replacement tech guy were more than a little snake phobic going into it, and the whole thing was quite a hoot to do.  Check it out at ryanray.com

Then followed the drive from Glendale to Anaheim.   Californians are a friendly bunch as a rule – except when they’re behind the wheel.  Worse than Dallas, worse than Houston even.  Almost apocalyptic.   I swear three different drivers saw the plates and said, “Kill the Texans!”  They almost did.  We were pretty shell-shocked by the time we made it to the hotel.  When we move into a room, it’s a pretty big production, so by the time that was done we were almost too tired to sleep.

But we did recover, and we truly hope to be back here next year for a bigger and better event.

The long road trip included a pretty significant detour that I’ll report on in my next blog entry.

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Off to California again

January 18th, 2009

Yep, loadin’ up the van (one doesn’t fly with fourteen snakes, four lizards, a cat, maybe the dog…) and headin’ off to Orange County again – this time for Muzeo in Anaheim.  My old friend Peter Comisky from Australia, who was at the Discovery Science Center a few years ago when I did shows there, is now at Muzeo and I’m looking forward to working with him again.  Delightful fellow.

Lots of logistics to be worked out.  Julie’s horse Jake will be staying at the wonderful Stone Canyon Ranch in Glenn Heights, owned by our friend Dr. David McFadden. (Need dental implants?  Apparently he’s the man.  We’re talking the ranch that teeth built).  Jake has been part of a herd with only one horse for several months now, so we’re expecting him to enjoy having a little equine companionship again.

The dog question is probably the toughest.  Charley is the same age as my son Alex (his middle name – all his friends call him by his first name, Daryl) so he’s sixteen years old, and as much as he adores road trips I can’t help thinking it might be his last, and therein lies the rub.  Would the journey hasten his leaving us?  He can hardly hear these days, and his solemn duty is to guard Julie (ever since I told him to do so before a trip I made without her a few years ago) so would it be more stressful for him to have us out of sight for a week?  Big decision.

Given access to enough water and if they’re fed before we leave, the snakes that aren’t in the show can stay behind.  Of course, we can’t turn down the thermostat like normal people would, but that’s a cost of doing what we do.

The lizards are another matter so they’re coming along too – including the Bearded Dragon, the African Plated, and the Leopard Gecko that are not in the show.   Can’t wait to explain all that to the checkpoint people at the CA border, who always ask if you are bringing in any pets.

I have a friend in Phoenix so we can stay there on the way, but it’s a long haul to get there in one day.   It’s January, so in all probability everywhere we stop the van will have to keep running to provide heat or we’ll have to move everyone indoors for the duration of whatever stop we make.  It keeps things interesting.

Before the trip, there’s North Park Center Mall in Dallas next Saturday, and a photo shoot to do tomorrow.   That doesn’t leave much time to nail down the remaining details.  Come to think of it, back to work!

Christmas

December 29th, 2008

Hope yours was Merry.  Here’s a small glimpse into mine.

Twas the night before Christmas, and all through our house
not a creature was stirring, for sure not a mouse.
For the mice were all frozen, or deep in snake tummies
or fed to the Tegu.  He finds them quite yummy.

The Tegu was sleeping next to his heat source
and the dog was out cold, by the bedside of course.
For he likes to sleep right where your first step will fall
as his job is to track where we are, after all.

The cats were coiled up on their favorite soft spots
and the lizards were under their inverted pots.

The horse was outside, though I’m sure he’d come in
but was wearing his blanket to ward off the wind.
And his tummy was full of green apple and grain
so he stood there not stirring and dreaming of rain.

Yes he loves to get muddy – his favorite pastime
and enjoys what we go through to restore his shine.

Meanwhile back in the snake room, the pythons were calm
the amazon tree boa on his faux palm
where he snoozed and he snoozed, but with nary a snore
for a hiss is a hiss – and he says nothing more.

And the kingsnakes were royal, the ball pythons too
while the bullsnakes and milksnakes
helped round out the zoo.

As I looked all around me and took in the numbers
I thought for a moment my chances for slumber
that evening were slim – but I saw ’round the place
all these critters we’ve chosen to share in our space…
and a feeling ensued…
that I’d have to call peace.

So from our home to yours, though we know ours is strange
whatever may happen, however things change…
May the snakes in your life
and your sources of strife
find you always a bit out of range.

Daryl Sprout
SnakeEncounters.com

Dallas Show

December 24th, 2008

Several people have asked me about a show for the local public since I wasn’t at the Museum of Nature and Science this year, and I have one to announce.

I’ve done a show at this venue before but I have to call it a bit of an experiment, as speaking to people on two different levels of a busy shopping mall courtyard is a daunting task from both a viewing angle standpoint and for sound considerations.   This time I’ll take my own PA system, and possibly a second amp and an extra pair of speakers.   Maybe even a monitor or two.

The gig is for Bookmarks, the storefront that The Dallas Public Library system operates at Northpark Mall, Northwest corner of Central and Northwest Highway.

I love libraries and do a whole bunch of them every summer for reading programs across much of Texas.  This one is rare in terms of the size of the audience that could theoretically fit into the space available.   Come on out and say hello.  You might want to arrive early to get a good spot for the show.  It’ll be on Saturday, January 24 at 2pm.

By the way, as I write this it’s Christmas Eve.  Have yourselves a Holly Jolly one!

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