Week 245 December 8, 2018

This week was a whirlwind, with many more cherished memories made. At the beginning of the week we were still in New England, staying with a dear Bikram Yoga studio owner and her husband in their warm, inviting home. It is always fun to have a dinner date out together with them. During this visit to their house, one of their cute kittens climbed right up on my chest as I was working on my laptop…

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It is always heartwarming when Loren and I can introduce our friends to each other. This week, while having coffee with a Bikram Yoga teacher friend, we were even able to reconnect longtime friends who had lost touch. When we mentioned that we had stayed overnight in her same home town with friends who we had met in Italy, she asked with who…  and we had a nice telephone conversation to facilitate reviving their connection. Then Loren had a private Bikram Yoga lesson, picking up tips to improve his practice.

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We also had dinner with a dear friend, her husband and adult son. She had moved to New England some years ago now and it was good to catch up with her again. We had fun too with the family’s lively puppy.

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Then Loren and I drove to back to New York, stopping near Albany to stay overnight with good friends. They indulged us in my wish to visit Cherry Hill, an historic home that was showing a play about World War I called Dutch. I had no idea that the event would also include period snacks and tea sandwiches along with a complimentary historic WWI era cocktail. I chose the French 75 while Loren and our friends each had a Sidecar. In addition, we were treated to a Virtual Reality clip, a precursor part to the live play. While other audience members had their VR experiences, we toured the historic home. In the end, I believe our friends enjoyed the whole experience as much as I did!

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In the morning before our departure we joined them in attending their church service, which included celebrating the 1st Sunday of Advent, then we had a delicious brunch out afterwards. 

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From there we headed to Connecticut for an evening visit with cousins… it is so nice to be able to see and catch up with so many family members and friends who we do not get to see very often.

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The next day Loren and I returned to Albany where my younger niece is in her first semester of college. We had time to stop at the Capital Region Welcome Center before taking her for a lunch date, then stopping to see her dorm. I have no idea how she became such a mature 18 year old already? She was just celebrating her Sweet 16 yesterday and was a 6 year old soccer player the day before that, or so it seems…

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As if that is not enough, my older niece is now living in her own home! That evening we visited with her and her delightful beau, seeing their lovely home, decorated for the holidays. Then we enjoyed an evening together which included playing in a trivia quiz contest over dinner at a local restaurant, making more treasured memories to savor. We actually won one round which will give them a discount on their next meal there.

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On our last full day in New York Loren and I awoke to what became a gorgeous day.

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After we took a Bikram Yoga class, Loren joined me on a driving tour to a few of the places of my childhood memories. For example I drove on Buckout Road, which in my youth was a narrow, winding, hilly road where as a new driver I and my friends sometimes went for joy rides. It was not to be on Buckout Road so much this time, as it was to find the nearby property where the last farm in White Plains had been located. This has a special meaning because my grandfather, who was the estate attorney for the owner, had tended the farm for a brief time after his client died, so that it could be properly and judiciously closed down. It is now the site of a local community garden.

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I also drove by the house that my grandfather had built himself to sell to raise the cash to take my grandmother on their honeymoon. They bought a car, drove to California in 1928, then sold the car to take the train home to New York. One event they often recounted was how my grandfather was testing out how fast the car could go and was pulled over and given a speeding ticket in Pennsylvania. Aha! It is my grandfather who I inherited my lead foot from! The current owners of the house he built have it a lovely color, which is the same color that my grandparents home in a different neighborhood had been painted when I was a child. Then, we drove by the Washington Headquarters of my childhood. As we drove around the east coast, it dawned on me that while it is a familiar sight to me, it is not something we would see in California or other places west.

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That evening we enjoyed another wonderful dinner visit with my brother and his wife, just the 4 of us, which was extra special, though I regret not capturing the evening with a photo… Now Loren and I have returned to California, to stay in the same room in the AirBnB where we had been staying since June. We have already had a couple of visits with Loren’s Mom and sister, and especially enjoyed the remaining fall colors in their backyard.

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Loren and I spent our first full day back in California starting the day with a Bikram Yoga class, then paying a visit to the UC Berkeley Botanical Gardens on a day with more gorgeous weather. Our docent guide pointed out that this is the only Botanical Garden in the world where on a clear day you can see the Golden Gate Bridge in the far distance.

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Even though the temperatures in northern California are in the 40’s and 50’s, we were still surprised to find that it felt cold out to us, given that we had just returned from weather in the teens, 20’s and 30’s. I hope you are keeping warm this winter!

 

Week 244 December 1, 2018

Loren and I started this week in New York at the lake house, graciously offered to us by my brother and sister-in-law for our stay. The day was clear and chill, with ‘Ol Jack leaving frosty reminders of his overnight escapades, until Ageless Sol – or Helios, or simply Sun, melted his doomed icy sparkles into droplets of water, to soon disappear.

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Meanwhile, from inside her own home, my sister-in-law texted how she was enjoying her coffee with my Thanksgiving gift of macaroons…

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We then spent a day in the financial district of Lower Manhattan with her, my brother and their younger daughter.

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We opted not to visit the top of the Freedom Tower, as the weather was too cold and the views would be too limited. My sister-in-law and I did briefly go inside to see the spectacular new building next door, which turned out to be a stunning entrance to the subway station that includes an abundance of glitzy shops.

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We spent the bulk of our day at the 9/11 Museum & Memorial. It was quite moving. Sadly, the photos of the events seemed all too familiar even though it has been over 17 years already since that tragic day. To put it in perspective, my younger niece was just an infant.

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This wall represents the color of blue that the people of New York chose for how they remembered the sky on that particular morning before the first plane struck the South Tower. Behind the wall the remains of many of the deceased repose. The Virgil quote honors their deaths with:

   No day shall erase you from the memory of time.

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We finished our great day together with a delicious meal out, in time to reach home before the predicted major rainstorm was to arrive. New York has had an excessive amount of rain this fall, and we have noticed overflowing ponds and fields that attest to their recent presence.

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The next day Loren and I drove north to New Hampshire to visit a couple who we had met while awaiting a train in Italy a couple of years ago. The weather warmed up to 38 degrees outside which seriously felt warm to us – in other words, we did not need our coats between our car and their home, even later into the evening when we retrieved our luggage from the trunk! The next morning we delighted at the magnolia buds outside our bedroom window, though, we felt the cold when we went outside again…

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After a leisurely breakfast with these delightful friends, we were off to visit near Concord with my wonderful cousin! Unfortunately her husband was away on business, but we throughly enjoyed our visit with her and her mother in their beautiful home.

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The weather app on my phone gave no notice of the 1-3 inches of snow that she was certain from her local weather report would arrive overnight. How right she was!

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Remarkably, the birds seemed not to mind the cold or snow as they continued to visit her generous feeders.

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My cousin later toured us with a drive around the area. In Henniker we lunched overlooking the Contoocook River which feeds into the Merrimack, the lower end of which is familiar to us from previous visits in Massachusetts. Later, in nearby Concord, the capital city of New Hampshire, we stopped outside the State House, as well as at some of the shops recommended by our friends. We too can now endorse the bakery and bookstore on S Main! It was another wonderful visit, for which we are most grateful.

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From New Hampshire we worked our way south to visit the gracious owner of a Bikram Yoga studio and her husband. Before we reached their home though, we enjoyed a wonderful catchup visit with another special friend who met us nearby for a good hike on Osgood Hill. Then, Loren and I attended the 4pm Bikram Yoga class. 

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We finished our week with a morning Bikram Yoga class, followed by a luxuriously long coffee date with a fellow yogi. At 82 she is a remarkable woman, seeming more to be a vibrant 42 than her actual age. I am disappointed that I neglected to capture the occasion with a photo to share. I will remember next time! 

 

Week 222 June 30, 2018

While Loren has spent each day of the past 2 weeks with his mother in California, taking her to sit by a local lake on several occasions and visiting with a few friends, for me there were several highlights while I have been on the east coast. I left New York for New England, stopping to see my older niece on her job in Connecticut. I was so proud to see how professional and personable she is with the elderly population who she works with. She invited me to join her in a rendition of Heart and Soul, the piece I taught her to plunk out on a piano when she was just a little one. We then switched places and I was also impressed with how much she has learned to embellish the top part!

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Next I drove off to have lunch with a cousin-in-law who lives father north in Connecticut. We had a nice visit and I met the newest addition to her household – a rescue basset hound, coincidentally named Cali! Then I arrived at my friend and Bikram Yoga studio owner’s home in Massachusetts. She and her husband were already off to Boston to celebrate their wedding anniversary, and as there were no other visiting teachers there that night, I enjoyed cooking my dinner alone that evening. I was up early to take the first morning class, then I made my way towards New Hampshire.

A dear cousin of mine has been diagnosed with cancer and had decided to downsize her home. But just a brief few weeks before the move her husband had unexpected open heart surgery to repair a faulty valve, and his doctor limited what he could do physically. Given the fortuitous timing of my visit, I was able to help in a small way with settling them in to their lovely new home.

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Her daughter was also supportive with caring for my cousin’s mother overnight and providing sumptuous dinners, twice at her nearby home nestled in the woods and once delivered to my cousin’s home. My cousin and I were both delighted to hear the call of the whippoorwill on two of the three nights of my visit, the first night they were either not active or at least not noticeable due to an overnight storm. And she, her husband and I shared great conversations over the several breakfasts and lunches that she prepared. 

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One treasure for me while helping to unpack my cousin’s mother’s books was in finding a booklet of short stories and a few poems that our great-great-grandfather had written that I had never seen before. I was able to make photos for myself and other family members. I also found a meaningful travel quote on the front of one of her photo albums, as travel is a love that my cousin’s mother, my cousin, her husband, Loren and I all share. 

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I returned to Massachusetts to take my studio owner friend’s class, which always has such inspiring images around the studio. We had a nice evening together though we missed her husband as he was out of town on business. I was up early to take the first class of the morning, then she and I also had a wonderful visit over breakfast.

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I drove to New York mostly through another storm in time for an appointment to have our van’s windshield replaced. Can you see the crack that developed over a harsh winter? I was unable to stop into the Apple store while they worked on it as I had planned.More importantly I was also in time to celebrate my brother’s birthday dinner out! We missed my older niece as she was at home, ill in bed. That night I found the moon that my cousin’s husband said would be full on the 28th was indeed full as it was beautifully reflected in the lake near where I was staying.

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At the beginning of this week I realized that the 2 mosquito bites on my arm, and the new ones that appeared above and below my lips – which I wondered how I had not felt the pests in those places – were not mosquito bites at all but another bout of poison ivy reaction, like I had 2 summers ago in New York. Everything I have read says that the blisters may develop as long as 72 hours after contact with the plant’s oil – meaning 3 days, however, I am so allergic that small spots still continue to appear at this point now 10 days later. However overall it is improving and diminishing….

After a morning yoga class, I spent a brief time planning for my cross country drive to California. Now I have driven 4 hours of it to visit a dear junior high school friend and her daughter who live in Pennsylvania. 

 

Week 174 July 29, 2017

This week’s highlights began with my teaching a Bikram yoga class in Merrimack Valley, Massachusetts. That evening Loren and I watched the 1937 movie Snow White with our hosts and studio owner, their two beautiful young nieces, and another visiting yoga teacher houseguest. It was endearing to see it together. I always enjoy catching up with familiar other instructors when I visit, both those who are local and other traveling teachers, one who I first met when taking class in Edinburgh Scotland, as well as meeting others new to me each time that I come to visit.
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Another day I “did a double” – I took 2 90 minute yoga classes in one day while Loren visited a coffee shop during the second class. I do love this Bikram style of yoga! After our last class at this studio for now, our dear owner friend led a half hour long meditation group which was also delightful. At her suggestion – knowing we were heading to Springfield, Massachusetts – we visited the brand new Dr. Seuss Museum and its Memorial Sculpture Garden. What a trip down memory lane for us, with a little inspirational quote for our ongoing travels!
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Afterwards we sought out another Peter “Wolf” Toth Whispering Giants Trail statue, making it another of several we have seen in different states. Loren and I spent this night at an AirBnB where we had a lovely evening talking with the home owner. One thing we learned is how the name Mohammad spelled with “ad” at the end is the Pakistani version of this name. 
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What had brought us to Springfield was to see the Basketball Hall of Fame, where we spent several hours the next day immersing ourselves in its history and glory.

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Then, we drove to Mount Holyoke College. My father’s uncle had made a generous donation in 1951 when he died. So, Loren indulged me in looking over the lecture rooms in Cleveland Hall, which was built from his gift at this impressive campus.
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After we returned to New York State, we stopped at the Albany Rural Cemetary to see the graves of my great-great-grandparents and their family plot. For the first time, I also found the graves of my great-great-great-grandparents nearby. And, for the first time too, we stopped to see President Chester Arthur’s grave, in the same cemetery.
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Many small towns surround the cemetery that I had heard my grandmother mention so many times – Loudonville where she was born, Menands, Niskayuna where her grandmother was born, Renssalaer, Watervliet – such familiar names yet at the same time such foreign places to me.
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Then Loren and I spent another full day at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. I kept looking for but did not find my favorite NY Yankees from my young adulthood – Thurman Munson, Lou Piniella, Bucky Dent, Willie Randolph, and others from their memorable team – who should all be honored, in my opinion! Who I did find were “Goose” Gossage, Rickey Henderson, and some of my father’s heroes. What we also found was the complete video of Abbott and Costello’s hilarious Who’s on First routine…
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On the way between our campground and Cooperstown, which are both in and among rural farmland and lush rolling hills, Loren decided we should stop at the middle-of- nowhere yet impressive Opera house to see what was playing. It was incredible that the opera I have been most interested in seeing – Porgy and Bess, was playing that evening. What a treat it was to see it, making another most memorable time. This troupe of actors sang their hearts out. Rain had chased away all the other campers, leaving our entire loop of the campground all to us that night. then in the morning we were able to convey our appreciation for the performance directly to a few of the actors as we all ate breakfast at one of only two local cafes in the rural area.
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Now we are near Albany, visiting dear friends and their newly summer-shorn West Highland White Terrier, as well as their son and new daughter-in-law. Whenever we visit, our friend – a culinary school trained Jill of many Trades, outdoes herself in making appetizing meals. It is such a pleasure to spend more time with all of them again.
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Week 173 July 22, 2017

Our biggest highlight this week was seeing my cousin again in New Hampshire. She and her husband treated us to another wonderful stay at their home, and, we had a delightful time together. From delicious meals, great conversations, gardening, a dunk in the pool, a dinner out,

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to celebrating a sibling cousin’s birthday with their sibling – my cousin and cousin-in-law, and, their Mom too,
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and, a potluck dinner with my cousin’s friends to talk about Portugal travels,
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to just hanging out in their comfy home and yard. All wonderful times!
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In addition, Loren and I attended Sunday service at their neighborhood UU church. Later Loren and my cousin’s husband had a hike up Mount Major with grand-dog, Sully while my cousin and I had a great visit together. A meaningful memorable long weekend in all!
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Afterwards, Loren and I camped a couple of nights on Lake Winnipesaukee. We stopped to see another of Peter “Wolf” Toth’s Whispering Giants Trail statue at Opechee Park in Laconia. Then the weather was perfect for a boat ride on Squam Lake, where On Golden Pond was filmed, and, where we saw nesting loons. Then we went for a hike up West Rattlesnake mountain for a different view of the lake. Another gorgeous day made for a fun half day kayak ride on the lake, with a picnic lunch on one of the islands. Here we learned the name Winnipesaukee means “Smile of the Great Spirit,” to Native Americans.
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Before leaving New Hampshire, Loren and I visited The Loon Center, where we learned more about this protected species. Also, we had a good hike out to see another of their nests. I must mention how during our nights camping and a few times during the days we were fortunate to hear their unique seeming doleful calls. Very special treats!
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Last week ended and this one began with me reciting the wildlife we had seen in New York, and I am surprised at the list I can now share about the different wildlife we saw while in New Hampshire: loon, wild turkey, what we had thought was a wolf crossing the road in the dark of night but later learned from our Massachusetts friends was more likely a Fisher when I described how much more like a hyena it had seemed in my bright headlights because of its hunched back – another learning on this amazing journey of ours, and, three deer – who had long white tails that stuck straight up as they ran, looking almost like the tails were wagging on tall, graceful dogs…
Now we are in Massachusetts, taking yoga with our dear studio owner friend and her fabulous community. It feels good to be back in the hot room since I had not taken a yoga class since my extreme reaction to the poison ivy…
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Week 139 November 26, 2016

We are very thankful this week for more memorable visits with several people who are so special and for the mainly moderate sunny fall weather, but with regrets again of not taking more photos…
Continuing this week in Massachusetts, we are thankful for friends and their family…
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…for cousins in New Hampshire, and their family and friends for a special birthday…
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…for attending an especially touching Unitarian Universalist Sunday Service in New Hampshire for the week of Thanksgiving… for seeing the wonder of the first snowfall of the season while sharing two more memorable days with cousins in their lovely home…
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…for a meaningful visit with cousins in Massachusetts, including catching up on twenty years of joys and sorrows since we last visited together…
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…and, a sweet visit with cousins – one our age, and age 90 and 93, in Connecticut…
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…for more Bikram yoga classes in New York, and, for a fantastic Thanksgiving with precious family and their neighbors.
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Now, on the day following Thanksgiving, I must mention how very thankful I am for all the wonderful times we have enjoyed over these last few weeks in New York, New England, and New York again. As well, I have such deep gratitude for special visits with family members and friends old and new, on our more than two and a half years of travel in parts of the United States, Canada, Europe, Africa and Central/Eastern Europe, so far. I just tallied the visits of our journey, and – depending on whose definition of countries you subscribe to, Loren and I have now visited 44 countries together over the 25 years that wehave been together. We feel so blessed to be realizing our extended travels dream!
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Week 138 November 19, 2016

We spent more most memorable time with family and friends this week, enjoyed all the more for the mainly beautiful sunny fall days. I was enthralled with the festive fall colors all around us. I only wish I had taken more photos…
Let me start though with a lovely memory from last week of a great walk we had with my older niece after studying together for her New York Board Certification exam for Music Therapy. She subsequently passed it. Yay!
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This week our memories span from continuing to be in New York, walking, talking and eating with friends in Albany, 
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to celebrating their son’s recent wedding,
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to sharing a delightful Mexican meal with family in Westchester County,
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and, from taking Bikram yoga in New York, to seeing cousins in Massachusetts. This is my photo of a clip of one of them on local television for her work in the Presidential campaign in Massachusetts, and their kitty and the ocean view from their home.
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Then, from taking Bikram Yoga in Massachusetts, which included celebrating the studio owner’s newly published book for Bikram instructors, The Toolbox, and having her senior-most student who’s yoga story is mentioned in the book autograph it,
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to visiting over dinner with friends along with the studio owners, to having breakfast with a teacher who came and taught at my teacher training, and, to seeing a little bit of early American history commemorated in honoring the Marquis de Lafayette.
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Last but not least to staying with friends in their beautiful new home and seeing their new surroundings in Massachusetts! 

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It has felt like we have enjoyed several little pre-Thanksgiving celebrations with each visit. Loren and I wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving this coming week!

REPOSTING in Progress: Weeks 2 to 109

This place holder is for the entries from our original blog to be added, eventually. Please check back – this re-creation is a labor of Love and will take a bit of  t-i-m-e- which, while still traveling, we do not always have a lot available to devote to this.

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