Archive for September, 2018

Flight 93- A Day of Bravery.


This boulder marks the site where Flight 93 ended the journey.

I was driving a pick up towards southern Armstrong County , Pennsylvania. I was delivering  signs for a bridge repair job. I turned the radio on to hear of a plane hitting one of the World Trade Towers in New York City. Suddenly, the reporter exclaimed of a second plane striking the second tower. I remember looking at my friend and saying, “We are under attack!”

The faces of those 40 brave individuals.

Yes, that day was one of fear and wonderment as to what was next to occur. Soon words were heard of a third plane at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.  Time would continue with reports of a plane going down in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. We would learn of bravery among the passengers taking

People leave items for closure.

this plane down to prevent a fourth hit to an unknown position, possibly the United States Capitol building. The crash was eighteen minutes from Washington D.C.

That evening all of America was glued to the televisions attempting to understand what had happened this day and by whom.

Eventually, we would learn of the Islamic terrorists being the culprits to such tragedies. As I type this the events occurred seventeen years ago on September 11, 2001.

Today, we visited the Shanksville area to see the Fight 93 memorial.

The day began rainy, but at the time we arrived at the site the rains stopped and blue skies and some sun began to be the norm.  Laurie and I visited the visitor’s center which is a museum. Very little of the jet was discovered with the impact of over five-hundred miles per hour. (563 MPH) The massive fireball could be seen for miles. Thirty-three passengers and seven crew members passed away in an instant. The four terrorists died too.  The probable target was the United States Capitol building. Their bravery and willingness to act with a plan that meant certain death was heroic. I must admit the wet eyes happened periodically as we traveled about the site with thoughts of that day. Little else was found at the site because the fire destroyed so much.                                                                                                                                         

A tower under construction is one where forty chimes will be placed. Workmen were present at this memorial. The tower is called the TOWER OF VOICES!

At the visitor’s center one has the opportunity to pick up phones to listen to the frantic calls of that day. Laurie picked one up and quickly returned the phone. I wasn’t as brave. I knew what would happen to me.

We walked this bridge over a wetlands.

Later we walked the 1.7 mile trail and ended up at the actual crash site.  The memorial construction and mowed grass in the field makes it easy to see the flight path of the 747 jet.

We walked away saddened  to realize such an event could easily happen again under a lapse in security or intelligence.  A sad reminder is how so many of the young people of today do not have any realization of that terrible time in our history.

God bless America!


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I bet the three men known as the Three Stooges would be very surprised to see the longevity of their shenanigans still being enjoyed today. The three men I am talking about were Moses Horwitz (Moe Howard) his brother Jerome (Curly Howard) and Louis Feinberg( Larry Fine).  I have laughed at those old jokes for many years. They had completed many short films and a few movies. A recent movie about the Three Stooges was made I believe in 2012. There was as a cartoon series about them, too.

Laurie and I went to see the stage show known as the same name, The Three Stooges.  Interestingly, Curly’s grandson was , also, part of the show.

The three along with others utilized many of the original Three Stooges skits into a storyline to save a vaudeville-like business. The original stooges received their start in Vaudeville many years ago. In fact, they did a show locally in the town of Vandergrift, Pennsylvania. The place was known as the Casino Theater. This building has been renovated and has various shows and concerts today.  I live approximately twelve, or so, miles from the Casino Theater. We attend events there regularly.

We weren’t sure what kind of show we were to see, but admittedly we were laughing throughout. I even laughed and smiled periodically while traveling home. The three managed to work a pie- throwing skit within the show. The famous Curly shuffle and foot maneuvers were great to see.

Yes, those three men, along with third brother, Shemp, (Samuel Horwitz) have made people laugh for generations.

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Land stage of the Red-Spotted Newt.

We sure had a lot of rain stemming from the movements of Tropical Storm Gordon. I can’t say exactly how many inches of water fell, but a local paper had over five inches of moisture on Armstrong County. The creek below the house rose over its banks  and as write this entry the yard is very soggy. THERE WILL BE NO MOWING THIS WEEK! On Monday I saw a gobbler behind the house and a ‘possum at night. I haven’t seen my rabbits since the rain began to fall. Did they float downstream?


Foggy river hillside

This morning was in the fifties, but the humidity must have been up for my time afield was damp. I was exploring additional lands within a local state game lands.

Monarch Caterpillar

I arrived fairly early once I saw the weather forecast. No rain they said. Well, I felt something wet falling several different times throughout the morning. The wetness must have been my imagination, I guess! Thick fog moved about during the morning whenever weather conditions were just right.



Old rusty gas shanty

The exploratory mission had me seeing some areas I had never been before. High hills, steep hills bordering the Allegheny River and some deep valleys. I saw lots of Autumn Olive  trees loaded with berries. Those berries will be relished by everything from small birds to bear in short order.



One interesting discovery were five different Red-Spotted Newts along the rim of the steep hill. The newts are the land stage  and they will become aquatic later. I saw six or so deer throughout my morning jaunt. I only saw one squirrel. A Cooper’s Hawk fluttered from a high tree. At one site I saw vultures flying around, but five were settled in an old snag trying to keep dry enough for future flights.

Field of Goldenrods.

I saw a few Monarch Caterpillars on Milkweed stalks. I guess they survived the deluge well.


Fog over the Allegheny River


White Snakeroot


On a sad note, we must remember the terrible disaster that occurred this day seventeen years ago. The Twin Towers were struck by terrorists. The Pentagon was struck by terrorists and the saving of some planned attack by the terrorists due to the actions of very brave AMERICANS on Flight 93.  WE must never forget!!!!

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By Larry A. Smail

When one hears the word, “mystery”, or secret, the immediate thought goes to suspense of an unknown subject. Also, it must be remembered the normal scenario features someone knowing of a specific bit of information while others do not have the knowledge. However, any mysteries will no longer be a secret once that knowledge has been told to others through the one originally having the secret.

The Bible has various mysteries as well. In any situation of a Biblical secret the one holding onto the mystery is the Lord, and the mystery will only be revealed when God deems the time is right for the next stage of the plan. These mysteries are very different, in so much, as God’s mysteries are spiritual in nature.

One Bible verse I often refer to comes from Deuteronomy 29: 29, where Moses through the words of God spoke the following: “The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things that are revealed belong unto us, and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.” This particular instance was to the early Israelites under Moses’ leadership. However, this remained true all through scripture. In brief, the Lord will not expect anybody to come to a belief or understanding of anything of spiritual aspects until the information has been revealed via his prophets, the Word, or in these cases, described here, through Paul, the Apostle of the Gentiles!

The entire book of the Bible is a book of transitions over many years with secrets, and mysteries revealed when the time was ripe for a fulfillment. The next step in God’s plan brings about the knowledge needed to understand for the next stage of events. Abraham. David, and all of those of times past would not have known Christ was to die on the cross or be brought back to an eternal life from the grave. All they were required to know what was revealed to them at their time of life. Prophetically they wrote of Christ’s events, but they had little, to no, understanding as to what was meant. They wrote as inspired by the Holy Spirit. An example is how the Pharisees of Christ’s time knew the prophet’s words but couldn’t put it all together about that man named Jesus! Hence the rejections!

This study deals, primarily, with Paul’s words through his writings. This great man was chosen from all Judaism to become the message bearer to the Gentiles, and even the Jews if they were willing to hear, and believe the gospel as preached by Paul. This one man received the mysteries via the RISEN CHRIST! (Galatians 1: 11-12 states this important fact. Paul declared he didn’t receive this gospel from man, he wasn’t taught this gospel by man, but he received this gospel through the RISEN CHRIST.) It needs to be understood that this change in direction came to be only after the Nation of Israel and the Jews rejected Christ with no chance of Israel repenting of killing the Messiah. The final rejection seems apparent after the stoning of Stephen. Biblically, that stoning of Stephen is the turning point of God towards the Nation of Israel. Immediately after the stoning, the Holy Spirit brings another zealous Jew named Saul into the story. Saul hated anything, and everything about the man, Christ! Of course, Saul would become PAUL, the Apostle to the Gentiles! Approximately, forty years later Israel ceased to exist as a nation at 70 A.D.


Paul, in 1 Corinthians 15: 51, was dealing with concerns of Corinthian believers on the resurrection message. Some were having doubts and misunderstandings over the resurrection. Paul was attempting to reinforce his message of resurrection via letters. This chapter goes into great detail of resurrection. This chapter (Verses 1-4), also, gives the GOSPEL TERMS to the Corinthian Gentiles. The verse is one of the best examples of the GOSPEL OF GRACE FOR SALVATION. The words state; …I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also you have received, and wherein you stand; by which you are SAVED, if you keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless you have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received; how Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again on the third day according to the scriptures.”

Beginning with verse 51, Paul wrote of the MYSTERY of resurrection. He began with: WE shall not all sleep, but WE shall all be changed. (Note the pronouns “WE” used here. Paul always wrote to believers. That is important to remember. He told these believers that WE shall not all die, but WE shall all be changed. Paul believed the time of this event was just out ahead because of the terrible times they were witnessing with persecution.)
Paul continued, stating this event will happen in the twinkling of an eye at
the last trumpet. In other words, this event will be fast! He added, the trumpet will sound, and the DEAD WILL BE RAISED IMPERISHABLE; (Gospel believers who had died would have a bodily resurrection back to life.) and WE shall be changed! (Note the “WE” pronoun again. Paul was including himself here as one who would be changed.) He then added the mortal nature will be changed to immortality. (Those believers living at this time will be changed from a corruptible body to a glorious body.) This knowledge, as preached by Paul, wasn’t revealed with detail for it wasn’t time. If Israel would have believed Christ’s ministry, and later the apostles’ message, they would have had their King, and kingdom. If that would have happened, then the words of Exodus 19: 5-6 would have become reality. Those words of Exodus state that if the people of Israel would have obeyed God’s voice they were to become a nation of priests to take the message of God to the Gentiles.

This message of above is furthered verified with Paul’s words in Romans 11: 25. Paul wrote of wanting his Gentile readers to understand the MYSTERY, how Israel had witnessed a hardening of the heart, and mind. They rejected Christ, and now were in a time of disbelief, and falling away from God’s grace. (However, although they fell away it must be remembered God’s promises to Israel were still in place at Paul’s time, and are, still in the ready.) This hardening will remain upon the nation until the time of the Gentiles is fulfilled. The Gospel of the Kingdom will be preached again to the Jews, and then Israel will be saved. (Mathew 24:14) The stage of Israel’s salvation will occur at the end of the Time of Jacob’s trouble of Jeremiah 30: 7. (Often referred to as the Great tribulation.) The stage of Christ’s second coming is falling into place. The time of the Gentiles is winding down.

Paul wrote in Romans 16: 25 of an important MYSTERY. The RISEN CHRIST revealed how long this particular MYSTERY was hid in time. Paul wrote of his gospel which is THE BELIEF IN FAITH OF THE DEATH, BURIAL, AND RESURRECTION OF CHRIST! (Gospel of salvation is found in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, and Romans 10:9-10.) Paul continued of the revelation of the MYSTERY which was kept secret for long ages, but now is disclosed, and through the prophetic writings made known to all nature…to bring about the obedience of FAITH… The book of Romans is the book of Christian doctrine revealed after the rejection of Christ, and his kingdom message.
The Nation of Israel continued the rejection after the cross, and the resurrection! This is where Christianity is at
NOW!!!! One usually hears that to be saved you need to believe that Jesus died on the cross. That is a true statement, but salvation is more than simply believing that fact! One needs to believe with FAITH Jesus actually rose from the grave to have salvation!!!!! The cross gave every person on earth the opportunity to be free of their sins; however, they need to acquire that fact. BUT, to be truly saved they need to believe the resurrection for salvation!!! Look at the reality in this example. I am sure many atheists may believe a man named Jesus did die on the cross. However, that is where it stops with them. They view the man as just a man. Since, the man who died was a man; he in no way could have risen back to life. The gospel of Grace is a two-part faith of believing Christ died for our sins on the cross and to believe with faith he rose in a glorified body at the resurrection. True salvation comes from faith through true believing with both the cross and the resurrection. (This truth cannot be emphasized enough!)

In 1 Corinthians 4:1, Paul reminded the Corinthian believers that he, and them, as believers in Christ, are stewards of the MYSTERIES of God. The gospel believers were, and are, to tell of the revealed MYSTERIES as set forth from the RISEN CHRIST to Paul. So, these MYSTERIES revealed by the RISEN CHRIST to Paul are to be delivered to the people as doctrine.

Paul wrote of his understandings of the revealed MYSTERIES, and faith, but he added that without love he would have nothing. This can be found in 1 Corinthians 13: 2.

Notice in Ephesians 1: 9, Paul wrote of Christ revealing to him wisdom, and insight, and the MYSTERY of HIS WILL to his purpose set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time to unite all things… (This will happen at the second advent.) Paul is verifying he had been given this wisdom, and insight for the time was right in God’s plan through the RISEN CHRIST!

Paul added in Ephesians 3: 2-9 of the stewardship that was revealed to him (Paul) and given to them (The gospel believers of Ephesus in this case.) how the MYSTERY was revealed. The MYSTERY was not revealed to men of past generations. (Those of the past didn’t receive the truth as preached by Paul because it wasn’t time to have it revealed.) The MYSTERY spoken of here was how the Gentiles are fellow heirs now. (This is a result of Israel’s 4.
rejection of Christ as their King.) The Gentiles NOW after this new direction or revealed MYSTERY are members of the same body, and partakers of the PROMISES in CHRIST because of the gift of grace through the gospel. Again, where is the gospel as preached by Paul found? Two of the primarily places are in 1 Corinthians 15: 1-4, (See above.) and Romans
10: 9-10. This gospel of salvation for us today was preached after it was
revealed to the Apostle Paul after the cross; after the resurrection, and after
Israel gave up its opportunity to believe who Christ was! (The disciples of Peter, James, John… were to have Israel repent of unbelief, and accept that the man they crucified was, indeed, their Messiah, and King.)

Ephesians 6: 19, has Paul, once again, boldly proclaiming the gospel which was a MYSTERY, and revealed to him by the RISEN CHRIST. Paul added that “HE” (Not the twelve disciples.) is the ambassador in chains as he declares the gospel boldly, as he ought to speak.

In Colossians 1:25-27, Paul wrote of becoming the minister according to the divine office which was given to him for the believers to make the Word of God fully known, with the MYSTERIES of the ages, but made manifested to the saints. (Manifest means to be made clearly evident, and the saints are the believers in scripture.) To them, the saints, God made known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of the MYSTERY which is Christ in You! Christ is the hope of glory!

Also, in Colossians 2:2 Paul is encouraging the hearts of the Gentile believers to have all the riches of the assured knowledge of God’s MYSTERIES of Christ in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom, and knowledge!

Paul wrote in 2 Thessalonians 2:7 of the events prior to the second coming of Christ. He wrote of the man of lawlessness. (What we would call the anti-Christ.) Paul added the MYSTERY of lawlessness is already at work. Paul goes on talking about this lawless man. God sends a strong delusion causing many to perish because they refused to believe the truth

(Paul’s truth is what? The truth is the gospel of grace for salvation.)

Paul in 1 Timothy 3: 9 and 16 wrote of the MYSTERY of the faith, and the
need to hold to that faith with a clear conscience. He added of confessing the MYSTERY of out religion. That MYSTERY is: Christ was manifested in the flesh and vindicated in the Spirit….

1 Corinthians 2:7 confirms of the wisdom of the MYSTERY of the hidden
wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glorification…

The MYSTERIES were revealed to Paul, the Apostle of the Gentiles by the RISEN CHRIST.


These mysteries were not preached by the twelve after the cross. The disciples were law-keeping Jews. The church mentioned in early Acts was a Jewish church of Jesus-believing Jews. Much evidence is in scripture stating or alluding to this fact. The disciples were doing what they were commanded to do, and that was to go only to the Jews. (Matthew 10: 5-7 tells the reader that Christ told the disciples to not go to the Gentiles, but only to the lost sheep of Israel.) However, Peter towards the end of his life wrote of grace salvation as preached by Paul. BUT, Peter wrote those words to those believing Jews in exile after Stephen’s murder in Acts 8: 1. (Also, see 1 Peter1:1, and 2 Peter 3:1.) Peter was shown of the grace transition when the Lord “encouraged” the visit to a Gentile in Acts 10. However, some twenty years after the cross the disciples, including Peter, were still practicing Mosaic Law, but preaching Christ was the Jews Messiah, and the need to believe that fact. This evidence can be found in Acts 15, and Galatians 2 at the Jerusalem Council. The Jewish believers, including, at least, several of the disciples wanted Paul to insist on law (Works) over grace to the Gentiles! The Book of James still preached of works. That is another study.

Peter, in 2 Peter 3: 14-18, gave Paul’s wisdom credence. He mentioned of Paul writing to the exiled Jewish believers and wrote of Paul’s wisdom with all his letters. This is proof of Peter’s knowledge of Paul’s writings.

The new direction to the Gentiles came about because Israel refused to believe who Christ was. The Lord began another transition through, the Apostle Paul. Israel would fall from God’s grace in 70 A.D. We, as Gentiles today, can be grateful for this.
I am available to explain as needed.

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Original thumbnail ideas.

The painting process, I have found, can be very interesting, at least, for non-artists wishing to understand how a painting

Original concept of reclining ‘cat. I felt this format was too crowded.

turns from ideas to completed art. For this reason I am doing a blog entry to show some of the stages with explanatory text.

The idea for the painting, “Wykoff Run Bobcats came from a contest entry form I had received from the Pennsylvania Game Commission. Their interest was to select a painting to add to their “Working Together For Wildlife” print series. I imagine you may have figured our by this time the painting was to be a colored piece featuring a Bobcat or Bobcats.

Bobcats are native to Pennsylvania and have been increasing in numbers in recent years. I am thankful for that fact.

The wildlife prints are sold by the PGC. (Pennsylvania Game Commission) Proceeds from the  sales of the prints go to wildlife research and management programs.


Original reclining ‘cat on a horizontal format.

At first I wasn’t thinking of doing a painting as an entry. I do not attempt annually to do a painting, but I have entered some over the years. And I have actually placed with a few. Last year in 2017 I did a Snowy Owl but failed to win.

A little encouragement from an artist friend of mine made some thoughts come into my feeble brain. I did five thumbnail ideas. My interest in painting a Bobcat painting intensified. Soon I roughed in a reclining ‘cat on the size of fifteen inches by twenty-two and a half inches in a vertical format. I wasn’t feeling anything with the first idea. The plan, to me,

Rough sketch to size.

seemed congested. I rough sketched another reclining Bobcat on a horizontal format and I liked the way the sketch was going. I roughed in two Bobcat kittens.

I laid a piece of notebook over the head of the Bobcat and fined-tuned the sketch some. I began thinking I may be onto something here. I placed another piece of notebook and traced through with details this time.  I liked where this going. I added details with the two kittens. Later I changed the one kitten’s head with a slight inquisitive tilt. I liked that, too. I felt I was on the way to a completed painting now.


Head tracing to begin detailing.

A few days later I spent time hiking in the Wykoff Run area of the Moshannon State Forest near the Quehanna Highway. Besides hiking , photographing and fishing I was looking for additional inspiration and sketching opportunities to finalize the background thought process I had done with the original concept.

I was on my way with this idea so I prepared Masonite with three coats of white gesso with some light sanding in between each coat. Using a T-square I placed light pencil lines on the Masonite to locate edges of painting. I actually placed lines from the contest size of fifteen inches by twenty-two and a half inches, however, I made lines to eighteen inches by twenty-four inches. I was going to paint the painting to the larger size, but white matting

Detailing features on notebook paper.

would cover the extra painting.


As stated, I spent two days in the Moshannon State Forest and Quehanna Wild Area. I studied many rocks. The area has places inundated with rocks from small to as big as a house. I had plenty of opportunities to look them over and the various vegetation that may be found on them.

Sketch from the woods.

I made some sketches of rocks. Later the first day I made a quick sketch idea using previous thoughts and made another rendering to work with while at the jeep. Note the changes from the earlier sketches concerning background.

The rough drawing to size at the jeep.

Now using tracing paper I traced over the drawing I made from the jeep after I came home. I cleaned-up the roughness and detailed shapes better. I am ready to transfer this rendering onto gessoed-covered Masonite. The painting is about to begin.

The cleaned-up rendering ready to transfer.


Image lightly transferred to a prepared panel.

I began to paint on the panel. The style  of painting I perform, at this time, I jokingly call the “slapping stage.” In simple terms of describing this stage I mix up some paint and rapidly slap the paint on. This, to me, establishes some form and depth to the early painting. The paint you see in this example was completed in one hour. I know this for I listened to two half hour interests on the computer.  I may slap more on before settling down to serious detail work.


Refinement of detail. This design has approximately 7 hours of painting time at this stage.


The painting with approximately 10-11 hours of work


All of the background and rocks are close to 80% completed. I “slapped” more paint to get the feel of the cats.


Background is about 90% complete. I have begun to detail the cats. Notice the kitten on right. I slapped some paint to make the kitten bigger. Detail of cats is about 20% done.


The following two photos of the painting shows more detail on the ‘cats. Note some changes on the females left leg. I wasn’t happy with the way the leg was so I changed it to allow her paw to dangle over the rock, too. Also, note that I completely changed the positioning on the one kitten.  I realized something wasn’t feeling correct, so I roughed the kitten in  as you can see in the photo. I suppose I still cluttered the art, but I guess I try to capture much into a painting as I see the wild.


Redo rough on the kitten. Detail on big bobcat is about 60% completed…maybe a little less.




More detail work and the kitten is almost done, but I see some probable changes. I changed the positioning of the left leg on the mother ‘cat.


The painting matted to size.



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Good Morning Fog

September 1st and I am heading out for a walk about a local game lands. I wanted to make a circle around the property to beat the coming humid conditions and rising temperatures.

I spotted a familiar puss as I entered into the game lands. I stopped the jeep to talk about twenty minutes to my friend, Frank “Muskie” Maus. he was walking the roadway. We caught up on a few subjects and we went our merry ways.                                                                    

The humidity was already making some early morning fog which made for my eye glasses to steam up quickly.  I noticed how the wildflower season is quickly coming to a close. the goldenrods will be in full bloom shortly and many Asters are in flower.  White Snakeroot and Boneset are in blossom, too. The frost season could come anytime now, but not next week. The weather people are talking of some ninety degree days  for next week. Also, the Yellow and Black garden Spiders always are late in the summer to build their intricate webs.

I saw two turkeys and a Gray squirrel on today’s venture.

Yellow and Black garden Spider






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I had an early appointment in Natrona which allowed time to hike afterwards. I chose to hike on the Todd Nature Sanctuary lands to enjoy some woodland times. I arrived on site about 7:30 in the morning.

I followed a number of marked trails throughout the property. There are many older and larger trees scattered about with some fallen  logs as some

Indian Pipe Trail

trees age and succumb to death. A ravine flowing through the land features a beautiful waterways known as Watson’s Run. Much of the watercourse has big rocks surrounded by mature hemlocks. Another waterway is called Hesselgesser’s Run. These two streams intersect with small waterfalls. A walked one trail to the end. The trail was called Ravine Trail since it meandered back and forth across the Watson’s Run. In fact I stepped in water deep enough to fill my boot. All other times this stream was flowing with much lesser water.

A favorite place for me is the pond. There are lots and lots of frogs located here. Other visits have yielded herons and ducks, but this trip was void of birdlife.

Another trail is called Polypody Trail. There are a few large moss-covered rocks on site with Boulder ferns growing about. Many mushrooms and fungus were spotted since the summer of late has had much water and humidity. I wish I knew more of the species at times. I know I am passing up on some species that are edible, but I have enough uncertainty to not try them. the Sheepshead Mushrooms will be emerging soon and I know that specie well-enough to consume.

  I spent over two hours hiking and enjoying the sites. Lots of orb spiders with webs crossing across the trails at face-level.









Check out the colors and patterns


Hickory Nut hulls


Hazel Nut


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