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    52 ODES TO JOY: S.U.N.S. EXPLORERS

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    “The JOYrontologist” is saluting joy-seeking explorers this Columbus Day holiday. As we raise flutes of Prosecco and chow down on veal pizza (recipe below),...

    52 ODES TO JOY: HEART IN HAND

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    “If we all just lend a hand, we can lift some hearts.”—Melody Minagar  HEART IN HAND is a centuries-old symbol of compassion and a willingness...

    52 ODES TO JOY: S.U.N.S. DINERS

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    “When do we learn that the world, like any diner worth its salt, is open 24 hours a day?”—Daniel Handler  American diners are the perfect...

    52 ODES TO JOY: FUN FREEDOMS

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    Remember when America was all about freedom-loving fun and people fought for “The Right to Party?” Even in 1773 (evening of December 16), our...

    52 ODES TO JOY: S.U.N.S. ZINE

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                                                            ODE TO JOY-ZINES                                    A self-pub, a journal, a dream board, a zine;                                    All the positivity one might glean.                                    For you and by you,...

    52 ODES TO JOY: S.U.N.S. DADS

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                                                                          ODE TO MY DAD                             Dad, I’m glad you were one of my favorite parents,                             Even though we disagreed about most sermons and nearly...

    52 ODES TO JOY: THE 1-HOUR S.U.N.S. JOY LIFT

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    NEVER TRUST A GERONTOLOGIST UNDER 70! Please hear me saying that playfully. However, I’ve done my 70 years and spent much of it studying...

    52 ODES TO JOY: S.U.N.S. SUMMER

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                                                                           ODE TO SUMMER                                                   My longtime favorite season is summer.                                                   Though fall, spring nor winter is a bummer.                                                   At 70, this thought’s not a...

    52 ODES TO JOY: YOUR HERO MEMO

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                                                            AMERICAN HEROES by Cheryl Alexander (American poet, Cheryl Alexander, about her ode to heroes: “This poem is dedicated to all the heroes in our...

    52 ODES TO JOY: S.U.N.S. AGE JOY LIBRARY

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    I LOVE LIBRARIES and I have a dream of a beautiful, FREE, public one with happy colors, patron-selected seating, art murals, craft/study/activity areas, cubbies,...

    52 ODES TO JOY: SIMPLICITY POSITIVITY

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                                                                 When I get the urge to purge,                                                              I first put on some music.                                                              A little more punk and a little less dirge,                                                              Then...

    52 ODES TO JOY: ZEST FOR ZZZ

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                                                                    ODE TO ZZZ                                                      ZZZ are A-okay methinks,                                                      Each regarded with great esteem.                                                      A long sleep or just 40 winks,                                                      To doze, perchance to...

    52 ODES TO JOY: FLANEUR JOY

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                                                                        ODE TO WANDERLUST                                                  I long to walk there, maybe there and then there.                                                  More joy-filled I’ll return, you may surely trust.                                                  In my...

    52 ODES TO JOY: BLOOMIN’ JOY

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                                                                    ODE TO BLOOMING                                                 Stealthily, they commanded the hill,                                                 Though no cannons nor bombs were booming.                                                 No movement detected, all seemed deadly still.                                                 Then,...

    52 ODES TO JOY: BEGIN AGAIN & AGAIN

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                                                                  ODE TO REINVENTING                                                   Any given day can be a time to start over,                                                   It just takes hard work, luck and good intention.                                                   So,...

    52 ODES TO JOY: YOU & JOY BIRDS

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                                                                    ODE TO JOY BIRDS                                                   The singing kind are such joy birds,                                                   One rarely hears a whiner.                                                   Chirping, tweeting, hummingbirds                                                   Make a fine day...

    Ben South and the ‘perpetual gift of curiosity’

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    CULLMAN, Ala. - Over the course of its history, Cullman has been home to many great creators and artists in all mediums. One hometown...

    52 ODES TO JOY: FOUR, JOYFUL SEASONS

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                                                                  ODE TO FOUR, JOYFUL SEASONS                                                          Spring is joyful, then there is also this,                                                          Summer is such sunny bliss.                                                          Autumn is a sweet molasses...

    52 ODES TO JOY: THE FUN, S.U.N.S. USA PLANTRY

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                                                           ODE TO A PLANTRY                                      Old Mother Gantry went to her pantry,                                      Looked angry, then trashed it all, blankly.                                      She restocked as a fun,...

    52 ODES TO JOY: The Fun S.U.N.S. Longevity Diet

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                                                                          ODE TO A FUN, HEALTHY DIET                                                                           Try as I might,                                                                           A fun, healthy diet                                                                           Seems an oxymoron in daylight                                                                           And a darker mystery...

    52 ODES TO JOY: LAUGHTER

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                                                              LAFF EVRY DAY!                                      Laff, laff for your brain and your heart.                                      Laffing makes you strong.                                      Laffing makes you smart.                                      Laffter is good for...

    52 ODES TO JOY: A JOYFUL LONG LIFE

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                                                            Too Young to Be Seventy—by Judith Viorst* Deep in my heart I believe I’m Too young to be seventy. There are times when I’m wearing my...

    52 ODES TO JOY: THE FOUR GARDENS to GROW JOY

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                                                                   AN ODE TO GARDEN JOY                                      A book and a glass of wine in a garden is all I need;                                      A sip, the sunshine,...

    52 ODES TO JOY: BOOK JOY

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                                            ODE TO BOOK JOY                             Books are magic transportable.                             Free libraries make them quite affordable.                             It is well-known but still reportable,                             Libraries need us...

    52 ODES TO JOY: S.U.N.S.

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                                                    ODE TO S.U.N.S.*            Smile-making is thinking and doing, all positively done.            Uniting is connecting with someone and with everyone.            Neighboring is sharing and...

    52 ODES TO JOY: SPELLBINDING

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    ODE TO SPELLBINDING                                                      Hocus pocus, fully focus.                                                      Cast off the spell of the phone,                                                      And fully succumb to the joy zone.                                                      Presto, change-o, feel...

    52 ODES TO JOY: NEIGHBORING

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    ODE TO NEIGHBORING                                          Neighbors come in lots of flavors;                                          Lovers, haters, givers, takers.                                          Not to belabor, though no message greater,                                          Love all neighbors on...

    52 ODES TO JOY: UNITING

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                                                                  ODE TO UNITING                                  (Dedicated to John Lennon and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.) I have a dream and I’m inviting All to end the fighting...

    52 ODES TO JOY: SMILE-MAKING

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                                                   ODE TO SMILE-MAKING When you’re smiling, the muscles it takes are 17. But, when you’re scowling, it takes 43 and looks so mean. When you’re smiling,...

    52 ODES TO JOY in 2022

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    Ode to AMERICAN JOY-GIVERS My country ‘tis a sunny land of joy-giving heroines and heroes, Like Don Ho, Quentin Tarantino, Edgar Allen Poe and Rudolph Valentino. And,...

    365 AMERICAN JOY-GIVERS for 2021: The Holiday Island Birthday Party

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    “Let’s get away from sleigh bells. Let’s get away from snow. Let’s make a break this holiday, dear, I know the place to go. How’d ya...

    365 AMERICAN JOY-GIVERS for 2021: The Creating Joy Birthday Party

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    “Where flowers bloom, so does hope.” These words, spoken by U.S. First Lady Lady Bird Johnson, inspire all to create joy and cultivate optimism...

    365 AMERICAN JOY-GIVERS for 2021: The Starry Starry Night Birthday Party

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    “Starry Starry Night” by Vincent van Gogh, one of the most joy-giving paintings in the history of art, is a major crowd-pleaser at MOMA...

    365 AMERICAN JOY-GIVERS for 2021: The Wonderful World Birthday Party

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    “The Wonderful World of Disney,” a hugely popular television show on Sunday nights for 25 years, gathered America around a tribal fire for magical...

    365 AMERICAN JOY-GIVERS for 2021: The Life as Opera Birthday Party

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    “Opera is when a guy gets stabbed in the back and, instead of bleeding, he sings,” wrote American joy-giver, Robert Benchley. Another music critic...

    365 AMERICAN JOY-GIVERS for 2021: The Carnegie Hall Birthday Party

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    How do you get to Carnegie Hall? PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE. Only the most-accomplished performers play Carnegie Hall. Built in 1891 by the philanthropist visionary...

    365 AMERICAN JOY-GIVERS for 2021: The O Happy Day Birthday Party

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    “Oh Mickey, you so fine.” At “The O Happy Day Birthday Party,” we’ll see ya round like a doughnut with Mickey Mouse, Georgia O’Keeffe,...

    365 AMERICAN JOY-GIVERS for 2021: The Stars and Stripes Forever Birthday...

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    Royal Princess Grace Kelly grew up in a charming two-and-half-story American Colonial-style house at 3901 Henry Avenue, Philadelphia, PA. This is our destination for...

    365 AMERICAN JOY-GIVERS for 2021: The Trick or Treat Birthday Party

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    The invitation for “The Trick or Treat Birthday Party” this Halloween weekend suggested fun costumes inspired by the American West—“YEEHAW, y’all come as your...

    365 AMERICAN JOY-GIVERS for 2021: The Tonight Show Birthday Party

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    (Announcer): “From ‘Television City’ in beautiful Burbank, California—It’s ‘The Tonight Show Birthday Party’ with Johnny Carson and this week’s special, joy-giving guests: singer/songwriter Katy...

    365 AMERICAN JOY-GIVERS for 2021: The JOY to the Max Birthday...

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    The Reynolda House Museum of American Art in Winston-Salem, NC is our destination for “The Joy to the Max Birthday Party.” Completed in 1917,...

    365 AMERICAN JOY-GIVERS for 2021: The I Love Saturday Night Birthday...

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    We are in Bedford, New York about an hour north of Manhattan for “The I Love Saturday Night Birthday Party.” Set amid 250 acres...

    365 AMERICAN JOY-GIVERS for 2021: The Twistin’ Party

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    We are twistin’ and turnin’ on a plywood structure built atop a barber chair. This gyrating contraption was created in the early days of...

    365 AMERICAN JOY-GIVERS for 2021: The Breakfast at Tiffany’s Birthday Party

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    Breakfast at Tiffany’s is now a literal “thing,” not just the title of a Truman Capote novella and an Audrey Hepburn movie. Inside Tiffany...

    365 JOY-GIVING AMERICANS for 2021: The Playin’ With Fire Birthday Party

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    When fire-hot lightning strikes sandy beaches, naturally occurring glass sculptures are often created below the melted sand. Sandy beaches surround all sides of Seattle,...

    365 AMERICAN JOY-GIVERS for 2021: The Whatcha’ Got Cookin’ Birthday Party

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    We cruise through acres and acres of red dirt, northern Alabama cottonfields to our destination for “The Whatcha’ Got Cookin’ Birthday Party.” In the...

    365 AMERICAN JOY-GIVERS for 2021: The Crazy for Loving You Birthday...

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    America has loved “Grandma” Moses and her art from the moment we saw one of her joy-giving paintings. For “The Crazy for Loving You...

    365 AMERICAN JOY-GIVERS for 2021: The Ringy-Dingy Birthday Party

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    It’s late-August and we are cooling off with the joy-giving, cool kids on a giant ice ring at “The Ringy-Dingy Birthday Party.”  The United States...

    365 AMERICAN JOY-GIVERS for 2021: The Singin’ in the Rain Birthday...

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    “We’re singin’ in the rain, just singin’ in the rain. What a glorious feeling, we’re happy, again. We’re laughing at clouds, so dark up...

    365 AMERICAN JOY-GIVERS for 2021: The Bon, Bon, Bon Appetit Birthday...

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    We are inspired to greater heights by each of the 365 American joy-givers celebrated in this series, but for “The Bon, Bon, Bon Appetit...

    365 AMERICAN JOY-GIVERS for 2021: The I Can Do Anything Better...

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    “Anything you can do, I can do better. I can do anything better than you…No, you can’t…Yes, I can. No, you can’t. Yes, I...

    365 AMERICAN JOY-GIVERS for 2021: The Giant Steps Birthday Party

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    “Destination Moon” is our destination for “The Giant Steps Birthday Party.” We are being given a preview of this exhibition which promises to be...

    365 AMERICAN JOY-GIVERS for 2021—The Funny Papers Birthday Party

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    We’ll see ya in the funny papers collection of the National Museum of American History for our next fun, birthday party. Located on Constitution...

    365 AMERICAN JOY-GIVERS for 2021: ‘The Nanu-Nanu Birthday Party’

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    This week, we’re in San Francisco at a luxurious, Victorian residence located at 2640 Steiner St. for “The Nanu-Nanu Birthday Party.” This was the...

    365 AMERICAN JOY-GIVERS for 2021: The Elements of Style Birthday Party

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    The most famous “kettle hole” in America is the setting for “The Elements of Style Birthday Party.” It was formed by retreating glaciers 10,000-12,000...

    365 AMERICAN JOY-GIVERS for 2021: The Greatest Birthday Party on Earth

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    “Ladies and gentlemen, children of all ages…welcome to “The Greatest Birthday Party on Earth!” The circus is about to begin!  Let our joy-givers lead you...

    365 JOY-GIVERS for 2021: The Yankee Doodle Birthday Party

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    This week, we are in Manhattan’s famed Duffy Square between Broadway and Seventh Avenue for “The Yankee Doodle Birthday Party.” The décor centerpiece is...

    365 AMERICAN JOY-GIVERS for 2021: The Accent on Fun Birthday Party

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    When we arrive at “The Accent on Fun Birthday Party,” we hear women speaking in the next room. Judging by all the accents, it...

    Where my dad taught me: A photography series

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    This spring at a yard sale, St. Bernard Abbey was selling some outdated student desks. My dad had been a professor at the college,...

    365 AMERICAN JOY-GIVERS for 2021: The Printer’s Ink Birthday Party

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    Hearst Castle, aka “San Simeon,” is a National Historic Landmark in California built on 40,000 acres of privately owned, Hearst family property. All the...

    365 AMERICAN JOY-GIVERS for 2021: The Borscht Belt Comedy Birthday Party

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    Ladies and germs, STOP ME if you’ve heard this joke. “Three Jewish mothers are sitting on a bench, arguing over which one’s son loves...

    365 AMERICAN JOY-GIVERS for 2021: The USO Show Birthday Party

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    The USO (United Services Organization) was created early in World War II to provide “home away from home” for everyone in our military. The...

    ‘Brother Joseph, Brother Joseph!’ coming this Sunday

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    CULLMAN, Ala. - The Ave Maria Grotto at St. Bernard Abbey has earned its place as one of the top must-see tourist destinations in...

    365 AMERICAN JOY-GIVERS for 2021: The West Less Traveled Birthday Party

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    John Wayne’s last movie, “The Shootist,” was scheduled for filming in El Paso, Texas but “The Duke,” changed the script to move production near...

    365 AMERICAN JOY-GIVERS for 2021: The Bossypants Birthday Party

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    This week, our “BOSSYPANTS Birthday Party” is in a factory in Queens, New York City. Hey now, don’t be so bossy about it, this...

    365 AMERICAN JOY-GIVERS for 2021: The Wonders of America Birthday Party

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    America has many natural wonders: our national parks and forests, majestic mountains, giant Redwoods and Sequoias, Louisiana bayous and the Florida Everglades. And, thanks...

    ‘A community arts event unlike any you’ve ever attended’: Cullman playwright...

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    CULLMAN, Ala. - Mother's Day 2021 will be the online debut of a new "community arts event" from the mind of Cullman-based playwright Ben...

    365 AMERICAN JOY-GIVERS for 2021: The God Bless America Birthday Party

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    We’re partying at 167 West 12th Street in New York City, in the cookbook-lined library of The James Beard House. Mr. B was “The...

    365 AMERICAN JOY-GIVERS for 2021: The Leaves of Funny Grass Birthday...

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    The Great Lawn of Central Park in the middle of bustling Manhattan is the setting for “The Leaves of Funny Grass Birthday Party.” At...

    365 American Joy-Givers for 2021: The Good Ship Enterprise Birthday Party

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    The setting for “The Good Ship Enterprise Birthday Party” could have been on the Good Ship Lollypop with Shirley Temple or another good ship,...

    365 AMERICAN JOY-GIVERS for 2021—The April Shower of Stars Birthday Party

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    The lush, verdant setting for our “April Shower of Stars Birthday Party” is in Kentucky. Loretta Lynn proudly hails from this state, but instead...

    365 AMERICAN JOY-GIVERS for 2021: Betty, Bette and The Boys Birthday...

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    You might have anticipated the setting for the “Betty, Bette and The Boys Birthday Party” would be one of Hugh Hefner’s swanky mansions or...

    365 AMERICAN JOY-GIVERS for 2021: ‘The Winners Circle Birthday Party’

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    Brooke Astor was known as “The Queen of New York.” Her beloved country house, “Holly Hill,” in Briarcliff, New York is the regal setting...

    A Round of Applause for 365 American Joy-Givers in 2021: Fred...

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    We are headed to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to celebrate this week’s American joy-givers birthday party in a recreated set of the popular WQED children’s television...

    A Round of Applause for 365 American Joy-Givers in 2021: The...

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    “The Greatest Party in American History” may have been the famous “Black and White Masked Ball” created by author Truman Capote, which he hosted...

    A Round of Applause for 365 American Joy-Givers in 2021: The...

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    The party tent is a giant, transparent, “Lawrence Welk” bubble inflated over a lighted, chessboard-inspired dance floor. The air is fresh and fragrant with...

    A Round of Applause for 365 American Joy-Givers in 2021: The...

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    The playful “pop-up party tent” is designed by the artist many critics believe to be “The Greatest Architect of Our Time,” Frank Gehry. He...

    A Round of Applause for 365 American Joy-Givers in 2021: The...

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    Howdy pardner, make yourself comfortable. This midwinter birthday party is beautiful but casual. We are surrounded by the grandeur of Ansel Adams’ large-scale, black-and-white...

    A Round of Applause for 365 American Joy-Givers in 2021: The...

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    What great AMERICAN JOY-GIVER said this? “Let me tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women...

    A Round of Applause for 365 Joy-Givers in 2021: The Bright...

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    Thomas Edison, one of the American joy-givers whose birthdays we are celebrating this week, was called “The Wizard of Menlo Park, New Jersey.” That...

    A Round of Applause for 365 American Joy-Givers for 2021: The...

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    Illustrative (il-lus-tra-tive) adj/ serving as a true example, designed to illustrate/ “Freedom from Want” is a work of art, cherished by Americans as being one...

    A Round of Applause for the Joy-Givers: Up & away birthday...

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    Do you recall the ecstatic joy you felt when you watched the historic news video of real-life hero Captain Chesley Burnett "Sully" Sullenberger successfully...

    A Round of Applause for the Joy-Givers: A books & birthdays...

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    Dolly Parton greets you at the door with a big, warm hug and the first words out of her mouth are, “I love that...

    A Round of Applause for the Joy-Givers: A party with American...

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    You sense the joy the minute you enter the room. HOORAY FOR THE JOY-GIVERS! This is a party to celebrate the birthdays this week...

    A Round of Applause for the Joy-Givers: 365+ American joy-givers of...

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    HOORAY FOR THE JOY-GIVERS! Last year in the first, joy-challenged months of the pandemic, the weekly “A ROUND OF APPLAUSE” series was launched to...

    A Round of Applause for the Joy-Givers: The most joy-giving joy-givers...

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    HOORAY FOR THE JOY-GIVERS! We always need more smiles, music and laughter. This fun series salutes those seriously unsolemn people, places and things that...

    A Round of Applause for the Joy-Givers: Letters to Santa Claus

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    HOORAY FOR THE JOY-GIVERS! We always need more smiles, music and laughter. This fun series salutes those seriously unsolemn people, places and things that...

    A Round of Applause for the Joy-Givers: Holiday cocktails and mocktails

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    HOORAY FOR THE JOY-GIVERS! We always need more smiles, music and laughter. This fun series salutes those seriously unsolemn people, places and things that...

    A Round of Applause for the Joy-Givers: Central Alabama Theater and...

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    HOORAY FOR THE JOY-GIVERS! We always need more smiles, music and laughter. This fun series salutes those seriously unsolemn people, places and things that...

    A Round of Applause for the Joy-Givers: Pollyanna and Forrest Gump

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    HOORAY FOR THE JOY-GIVERS! We always need more smiles, music and laughter. This fun series salutes those seriously unsolemn people, places and things that...

    A Round of Applause for the Joy-Givers: Rockabilly

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    HOORAY FOR THE JOY-GIVERS! We always need more smiles, music and laughter. This fun series salutes those seriously unsolemn people, places and things that...

    A Round of Applause for the (Cullman County) Joy-Givers: Monks’ Bread

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    HOORAY FOR THE JOY-GIVERS! We always need more smiles, music and laughter. The “local” version of this fun series salutes those seriously unsolemn people,...

    A Round of Applause for the Joy-Givers: ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic

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    HOORAY FOR THE JOY-GIVERS! We always need more smiles, music and laughter. This fun series salutes those seriously unsolemn people, places and things that...

    ‘Holiday Harmony’: Local artists collaborate on community project

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    CULLMAN, Ala. - Local artists Ben South and Seth Miller recently collaborated to create a piece of art in hopes of raising money to...

    A Round of Applause for the (Cullman County) Joy-Givers: Jesse Priest

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    Jesse Priest will be LIVE at Southern Eats (221A Second Ave. SE, Cullman) at 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 7 for an open-to-the-public tasting of...

    A Round of Applause for the Joy Givers: The Blind Boys...

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    HOORAY FOR THE JOY-GIVERS! We always need more smiles, music and laughter. This fun series salutes those seriously unsolemn people, places and things that...

    A Round of Applause for the Joy Givers: Kinky Friedman

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    HOORAY FOR THE JOY-GIVERS! We always need more smiles, music and laughter. This fun series salutes those seriously unsolemn people, places and things that...

    A Round of Applause for the Joy Givers: Duchess Donuts

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    HOORAY FOR THE JOY-GIVERS! We always need more smiles, music and laughter. This fun series salutes those seriously unsolemn people, places and things that...

    A Round of Applause for the Joy Givers: Dinah Washington

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    HOORAY FOR THE JOY-GIVERS! We always need more smiles, music and laughter. This fun series salutes those seriously unsolemn people, places and things that...