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 221 June 23, 2018

This week was a week of visiting with some very special family and friends!

Loren’s and my week began with spending time with Loren’s Mom and sister. We took Mom for brunch near where a new annual classic car show in town added an unexpected out of the ordinary element to the day. Later I was glad that I could help out by washing windows for them, which was much appreciated. Then Loren and I enjoyed a delicious dinner with a group of his long time friends which included great conversations, the evening of which regrettably I neglected to capture a single photo.


The next day we drove Mom around her childhood neighborhood in Oakland, California. She seemed so tickled to see her high school and the house where she had lived just before her marriage. She reminisced, crooned “Hello House” commented on the home’s landscaping, and, asked to return to see it once more before we left that neighborhood.

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The next day Loren and I arrived at DMV 15 minutes before it opened to find a long line had already formed, all with heads bowed toward cell phones. We spent nearly 6 hours in all there to reactivate the registration for our van, persevering through to success!


From there Loren and I drove to Monterey for an overnight stay. We had a really good visit with cousins of mine, near the setting of Steinbeck’s depression era novel, Cannery Row. It was delightful to have the opportunity for both a dinner date followed by a mid-day through evening spent together, with lots of memorable and meaningful conversations in a modern era setting of surf and marine life.

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From there, Loren and I had to split up again for our third period of extended time apart during our Journey. He dropped me at a BART station to reach San Francisco airport in time for my overnight flight to New York through Chicago, while Loren will remain in California. I slept well on the flights so had good energy after my brother picked me up and reunited me with Loren’s van, newly maintained thanks to my very dear bro. After he returned to his job, I visited the cemetery where close members of our family are buried, and worked until satisfied with clearing lichen and encroaching grass from their headstones. 

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My brother and sweet sister-in-law have again opened their lake home to me. It is so peaceful here. This time I have seen a large fish swimming along the water’s surface, heard bullfrogs, seen fireflies as well as a group of geese swimming noisily in formation.

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This week too my brother and his family invited me to enjoy a BBQ with them at their home, which was wonderful. I also had the opportunity with a dear friend to hike through Lasdon Park and catch up over lunch.


Then, the biggest event of my week was the privilege of attending my younger niece’s High School Graduation ceremony.

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When my brother and I first arrived to reserve seats for the outdoor ceremony, my brother conveyed by text to my older niece that she was spontaneously invited by the band leader to add her immense talent on the flute to the band’s offerings to the event. She was delighted to sit with two other musicians who she knew from her high school band days who also each had a sibling graduating this year and who were similarly tapped to fill out the winds section.  


The evening finished with photos and a beautiful family dinner. The weather could not have been more cooperative to enjoy the ceremony outdoors, including dinner later with views of the Tappan Zee Bridge that spans the Hudson River.

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Living 3000 miles away for so many years of my adult life makes participation in and witnessing some of the special events in my brother and his family’s lives that much more precious. And, with technology, Loren too has been able to join me here this week.  

Week 177 August 19, 2017

I have had one foot in family genealogy this week, the other foot in packing and preparing to again leave the United States. It has been a very full week. Loren and I took a break from packing to see part of a Bruce Springsteen tribute band concert in a local park while we were still in New York. We arrived to find little parking, but a policeman I asked who was standing near several cars parked near “No Parking” signs said they were “Overlooking the signs for a couple of hours, so long as cars are not blocking traffic.” “Great,” I thought. We spent less than an hour enjoying our picnic dinner, only to find a ticket on our car when we left! We decided to stop in at Police HQ to complain, and, later that evening the officer called to say that he had ripped up his copy of the ticket. Nice!
Our final errands included having Flu shots… thanks to my cousin who insisted we should have them. Have you had yours this year? We read this in an email from an MD: “Patients who don’t get the flu vaccine have more heart attacks, strokes, and other serious illnesses.” That said, the wildlife we saw in New York included: bat, muskrat, and wild turkey. I must mention how Loren was keenly aware of the multitude of cicada singing and cricket chirping – pointing out sounds I rarely notice for their continual background presence throughout my childhood. Farewell, New York, for now.
After a last evening with my brother and his family, we rode in an Uber taxi to JFK airport. Here we found our packing work had paid off: Loren’s checked backpack was an allowable 21kg, while mine was just 18kg – less than 50 and 40 lbs respectively. I was grateful for the onboard movies as I could not sleep on the overnight flight. I enjoyed United Kingdom and Wild. I highly recommend them both! A gorgeous Mediterranean day greeted us at the edge of Lisbon, Portugal. From the airport we took a bus to walking distance to our AirBnB – which is coincidentally off Rua de Sao Jose – San Jose Street.
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We checked in, then quickly walked the several blocks to arrive just in time for our scheduled e-bike tour. Lisbon is similar to San Francisco in that it is near the ocean and hilly in parts. It was my first electric bike ride. It was dangerous -only- in that I would like to have my own e-bike when we return home. The appeal is for the boost it has for climbing hills. On our outing, guides Yann and Philippe took us and four fun young adult Persians who now live in London, to our first miradouro – terrace with a view: Senhora-do-Monte. We also rode up and down through the very, very narrow streets of Alfama – the oldest section – meaning neighborhood, because it survived the 1755 earthquake, and resultant fires and tsunami. We also saw other less noteworthy sites of their Lisboa.
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Loren pre-booked several outings for us to start off being in Europe again. The next day we took a Walk, Food and Wine Tastings tour. I learned so much more, and spent the good part of a day with another great group of people. I especially learned from our guide Pedro (said P-eh-dro, not the usual Pay-dro, or P-a-dro), about the Carnation Revolution, Portugal’s recent nearly completely nonviolent coup to end the longest dictatorship of the twentieth century. The event is memorialized by the 25th of April bridge, designed like San Francisco’s Golden Gate because of its ability to withstand ‘quakes. I was also introduced to The Lusiads, an epic poem of Luiz de Camoes to celebrate Vasco de Gama’s discovery of a sailing route to India. And, we learned that Nossa – meaning, to us, or, Saúde – health, are the ways to toast our Portuguese drinks.
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Over the course of a few hours we had the equivalent of a progressive meal – beginning with tasting Portuguese coffee. Fortunately a dear cousin’s friend had warned us of the strong espresso and pointed us to a lighter alternative called Galone. This we had with the bakery’s best pastry. We also tasted Ginjinha – Cherry Port, served with “Romeo and Juliet” which a square of white cheddar-like cheese topped with a square of cheerful marmalade made of quince fruit, which provided a delectable sweet and savory complement to the wine. Later we enjoyed a glass of Bohemia – an historical beer. We finished with a glass of champagne to go with dishes of shrimp and tasty beans.
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That evening, Loren and I saw a Fado performance. The advert describes it this way: “Fado is Portuguese and was born in Lisbon. A symbol of the nation, it tells stories of the sea, the people and nostalgia.” Another quote, more melancholy, that was displayed during the performance by Domingos Goncalves Castro also touched us:

   You ask me the meaning of
   Nostalgia, to you I say
   Nostalgia is what is left
   When all has passed away.
The next day we had a tour to Sintra, which we already knew had mixed reviews: Lord Byron in the 18th century wrote that the town was, “Perhaps in every respect the most delightful in Europe.” Maybe that was the case then. A friend of ours who visited more recently suggested it is, “Crowded with tourist buses, warnings about pick pockets, and very noisy.” I think our experience was in between those two reports, and, again we had a lovely group of co-travelers with our competent and very knowledgeable guide, Filipa escorting and educating us. We first visited Parque Pena to see the elaborate castle there. Then, we walked through Quinta do Regaleira – I wish my grandfather had been there, as it is full of Freemasonry symbols, and included an “Initiation Well.”
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We also stopped at Capo da Roca, where the R in the Portuguese language is pronounced much more like an H, to see the westernmost point on continental Europe. Last, we were at Cascais, (said Cash-case) to soak up a walk along the beach with gelato. Loren and I later finished our day with pork ribs that simply melted in our mouths and Bacalau – a type of cod found only in these Portuguese waters. To conclude our week, Loren and I rode a tram to nearby Belém to see the magnificent Jerónimos Mosteiro – Monastery.
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Afterwards, we had a snack of famous custard pastry that a friend had suggested we try, at Pasteis de Belem. And, after that, we saw the Tower of Belém, for another miradouro.
Sadly our guitar concerto at a church that evening was canceled due to a car accident, so we hope to go tomorrow instead. Our trip to the cathedral was not all in vain as we saw two different memorable views of the setting sun over the 25th of April bridge.
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I have enjoyed hearing the calls of what must be a neighbor’s exotic bird – our AirBnB apartment butts up against buildings on either side, and our windows and outside patio are very close to the neighboring buildings on the opposite side of a quite narrow street. So, the echoes of muffled conversation and other sounds are quite delightful and entertaining – except when dogs fight or a neighbor has a party, like was the case this past Friday night. Wishing you Boa Noite – Good Night, for now!


Week 176 August 12, 2017

You may notice a tiny different look to our blog this week – tiny, but with a big change in viewing our site. I discovered “Categories,” thanks to a friend who asked for a way to see only the posts from when we were in Ireland. So now you, too, if you want, can select a Category like Alberta, Europe, Italy, New York, or South Africa, for example, to see what we wrote for when we were there. Just scroll down on the right side under Where In the World Have We Been? for Categories organized by Continent, then Country, and where applicable State/Province or Territory.  Then just click on whichever one you want to see.
In addition to making that change, this week included other highlights. First, we celebrated my brother’s wife’s birthday with a fun dinner out, just before my brother and his family left for a vacation in Florida. This is the first time that Loren and I have been in New York for her birthday. We have now, fairly recently, been here for both their daughters’ Sweet 16s, my brother’s 50th, and now a special day of hers. Very special!
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Next, I reached out by email then phone to another cousin who I had never met. I learned about him from contacts made through research in Albany, New York about my family heritage. I am so glad that I talked with him! He is a third cousin, once removed as I understand it – meaning that he and my mother have the same great-grandparents. This cousin actually has their Bible from 1865 which documents family Marriages, Births and Deaths. He lives in Louisiana, so it will be some time before we can visit in person.
This week Loren and I attended a UU Sunday Worship Service which was different, in that it included several good reminders for attending to the health of the mind, and, how to live in the present moment to stave off worry and regret – using positive humor. Three mantras I took away are:
   Your life is your garden, your thoughts are the seeds.
   If you life isn’t awesome, you’re watering the weeds!
   this moment
   this breath, and
   The grass is green, right here.
Speaking of UUs, we received from a dear friend brother this link to “Wonderful World” a video collage in memory of the beauty of our friend’s photography. We were invited to  feel free to forward the link for others to enjoy:
Otherwise our week included running errands, hiking – when the weather permitted, and Bikram yoga classes, which included my first silent class in a long time. One day an errand took us to Yonkers, said Yahn-kiz if you are a local. I have not been there in probably 30 years or more. When we passed by Nathan’s, Loren indulged me in turning around for a nostalgic hot dog lunch. He agreed, it was yummy, just like I remembered!
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Then, we stopped at a lemonade stand. I remember a motivational speaker once saying, “When you see kids with a lemonade stand, stop and buy something. It helps them start to develop their entrepreneurial skills.” So I try to do that when I can, paying forward from when people stopped for my childhood lemonade stand. This particular one had choices – lemonade or yummy sweet iced tea. Loren captured the moment for posterity…


On one of our hikes I went off trail to photo a sunset – sometimes my photos do not do justice to the scene. Nonetheless, it was worth it though because when I looked down I noticed pachysandra growing. This is a ground cover that I have such fond memories of my Mom cultivating and tending it amidst our front yard shrubbery when I was a wee one. Another nostalgic moment this week.
The wildlife we saw on this hike included a hawk flying near us – with effort – because it was carrying a rabbit off in its claws! We had noticed that the geese had left the lake since we returned last week, now we have enjoyed a pair of ducks in their place.
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And, near a school playground where we hiked, I was happy to see the US map, given our  recent travels across the states. And, we were privileged to receive some of the bounty of the summer gardeners who were pulling the remains of flat-leaf- and curly-kale, as well as Swiss chard. We have enjoyed kale chips, kale salad, and a veggie side dish this week!
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What else we saw that was inspiring were four helpful charts along the trail for identifying butterflies, trees, flowers and birds of the world or North America. How nice!
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Otherwise, travel planning, sorting and beginning packing rounded out our week. After nine months in the US, it is amazing that we will again head overseas next week. In our planning, we have had to remember to decipher hours and days from the notation that most of the rest of the world uses. For example time is expressed with the 24 hour clock, so 1600 hours is 4pm, and, days come before months – like 1/10/17 is October 1st, not January 10th. We could not have a lovelier place to be working on our plans! Even if every day is not gorgeous, it is usually peaceful. We will very much miss our time here.
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I will finish with what one of my cousins wrote a year ago:
“Will you ever return? … One saying goes ‘If you stay away more than 3 years you will never return,’ Soooo come home soon! … Please save Asia, India, China etc. for your next trip before travel fatigue takes over. We miss you and love you both. I have already had my say.”
Thanks dear cousin! I wonder, does our eight month sojourn in the US count for coming home? We did spend two months in California, just not in our own house… If all goes as we hope, Loren and I will see Egypt, India, Oceania, and southeast Asia this time, after Portugal, Spain and Italy again. We expect to be returning to the US in two years or so…

Week 175 August 5, 2017

I first want to say how nice it always is to hear from our family and friends, thank you for following us on our blog and keeping in touch with us! We appreciate hearing comments like, “You both have such a gift for sharing what your eyes see and your minds interpret,” and other encouraging and supportive words. Thank you! We especially love learning about what is going on in your lives, it helps us to keep feeling connected with you as we travel on this journey of ours.
We began this week still near Albany visiting dear friends with their newest family member – their cute dog. The doggie’s favorite toy is the adorable Lamb Chop from our childhood memories of the Shari Lewis show. I want to point out that in New York, this city’s name is pronounced All-bany, unlike the Albany of California that I hear pronounced more like Owl-bany. 
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Our friends’ brother and his wife came over too and we enjoyed their refreshing homemade sangrias, then we had a delicious BBQ dinner all together.
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And, as always, they have such beautiful plants growing in their lovely yard.
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Loren and I had a late night discussion with our friend about life and her beliefs on spirituality and scripture, which we always appreciate and gave us more to reflect on. Then we enjoyed a lovely Sunday Brunch with both of them with a beautiful view overlooking the Hudson River to bid them our fond farewell.
On the way back to Mahopac, Loren and I visited 8th President Martin Van Buren’s home,
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and learning some about the history of his day.
Afterwards we had a good hike on a nearby trail.

Now we are back at my brother and sister-in-law’s lake house, enjoying the new blooms here. We had a fun BBQ with them and their girls, but where was my camera?

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A major appointment this week was for Loren’s new crown, to address the integrity of his tooth that broke in mid-July. I am excited too that I submitted the paperwork for my pension! Small as it is, I earned every penny of it, and am grateful to begin receiving payouts at 60 years of age. The rest of the week has been devoted to hiking, daily yoga and looking at family history. The wildlife we saw included an owl, bats, snapping turtles, a few fawns, a rabbit, and a squirrel.
What is taking most of our time is planning, firming up minor travel details – like confirming our upcoming hike on the Camino, attending to loose ends – like obtaining more vaccines and travel medications, taking care of DMV records, car insurance, computer care, banking, IRS, etc.! In addition we are beginning to sort out our belongings and pare down again to just our backpacks and daypacks for when we leave the United States. We hope you are enjoying your August too!

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. 
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.
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…
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.
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,
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…




Week 172 July 15, 2017

Our week began with seeing a most complete rainbow over the beautiful Lake in New York as we were returning from a hike. 
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Another highlight this week included a weekend BBQ with my brother and sister-in-law at their lake house. Being in New York is invaluable for the memorable times we have been able to spend together, though this one will have to be stored simply in my memory, as I forgot to record it with my camera. So I will insert a copy of the professional photo I have from the memorable evening spent celebrating my brother’s birthday last month. 
This week too I discovered the difference between Eastern and Western Blue Jays. I kept insisting that the beautiful blue bird we were seeing was not a Jay as my sister-in-law said, as I was looking for the telltale black hood that I am used to in California. Later I looked online and found I was wrong. By the way, birds are not easy to photograph. Then, that evening I went to Urgent Care because my poison ivy reaction continued to erupt and had started to spread to my face. So, I am on a regimen of steroids and cortisone cream, and the rash has been abating since that began. We also enjoyed a FaceTime with Loren’s Mom and sister, and this time Loren recorded it with a photo. 
One evening Loren and I took a picnic to a popular summer concert venue locally where we heard Desert Highway, an Eagles Tribute Band entertaining us with tunes from our teen years. Fortunately the weather was nice that evening. Had it been the day before we would have been inside at a rain venue.
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We also took in a great movie, The Big Sick at a small theater local to the lake house – a true story with a lot of laughs and touching experiences. Well worth seeing in our view.
When it is not storming here it is incredibly pleasant and peaceful, though even the hours-long downpours can be lulling. Sometimes there is a cooling breeze when we sit on the deck, being entertained naturally by the sights and sounds of life around us. We often see kids off from school for summer, fishing on the few large rocks on the uninhabited opposite side of the lake. Sometimes neighbors in row boats, paddle boats or standup paddle boats float by. We also have seen a flock of 16 geese – or at times just 15 and just 1, and other waterfowl swim or fly low over the lake. As I write I must have seen 5 chipmunks – or the same one 5 times? – dart across the deck as if to say, “What about me? You forgot to mention me!” This prompted me to recall too that we had also seen some deer in the neighborhood in the evenings, as well as chipmunks. 
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We often hear the trills of song birds, the occasional barking of a dog or two, a few distant voices, and the croaking of frogs – these being especially prevalent at night. We also see numerous sparrows, Eastern Jays, a stunning Cardinal, hawks, herons, a couple of gophers, some scampering squirrels, and neighborhood cats – one a Tomcat for sure. It is idyllic here! We are so very grateful and feel so very blessed to have this place to stay.
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If there has to be a downside here, then it would be the raccoon who was unexpectedly caught in the gopher trap. Oh, and the alligator scare – yes, in New York, that had the neighborhood in a frenzy for a couple of days, We are fairly certain it turned out to be just floating algae, but there are certainly those who take on exotic pets, cannot care for them and just let them loose…
A last highlight includes having dinner with my sister-in-law’s father at the Veteran’s home. My camera forgot to come out for this occasion too, but it was after an especially intense thunderstorm earlier in the day. Fortunately Loren and I had taken our near daily hike earlier on this day. The Veteran’s facility is the same one where my father spent the last few months of his life. It was nice that both fathers were living here at the same time. I have a cloth bag that my father had hand decorated before he went to the Veteran’s home that I treasure, with the simple message that I consider learning how to do to be the entire purpose of life. On our way home the sunset was breathtaking.
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Loren and I are still in New York, leaving later for New Hampshire than we originally planned today, because last evening Loren broke a tooth. Thankfully my brother’s dentist could take him for an emergency visit in the morning. When we return to New York Loren will receive a new crown… While I sat in the waiting room, I was drawn to this Van Gogh image on the wall. 
I will finish this by saying how much we enjoy keeping in touch with family and friends, and that includes new friends who we have met on our travels, this family being from a memorable visit we had in Argentina with them opening their home through AirBnB.


Week 171 July 8, 2017

This week has been one of  torrential rains, dropping an incredible amount of rain… and on the bright side making the growing things very green! We were fortunate to have clear skies when we drove south to Connecticut to visit cousins. The elder generation are now settled comfortably in assisted living, but, sadly, for the first time they were challenged to recall who we are, other than recalling their age cousin, Loren’s father.
We had a lovely visit with the cousin our age, their daughter, and stayed overnight in her newly reclaimed and gaily redecorated guest room. Loren even had a swim in the Atlantic ocean while we were there.
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On July 4th Loren and I enjoyed being back at and on the lake in New York – first in our family’s paddleboat, then in their row boat. Maybe before we leave here we will have tried their standup paddle boat too. We were also entertained by booming and sparkling of fireworks displays around the lake, which occurred on many evenings this week.
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One day we had a leisurely lunch with a dear friend at a P.F. Chang’s, but where was my camera? When Loren and I returned to the lake I neglected to heed my brother and sister-in-law’s warnings and pruned back some of the vines that threatened to overtake the Pfitzer Junipers. However, I am now paying dearly for my indiscretion as I now have an extreme reaction on my right forearm to the poison ivy I encountered that they had told me was lurking there. It has been too many years since my last encounters with poison oak in California, and with poison ivy in New York many, many years before that, so this is a painful reminder that skin irritants can create such discomfort. I will spare you a photo, but think I will need to invest in some Benadryl and Calamine lotion so that I can sleep better tonight.
One morning I went to visit the Mausoleum which is the final resting place of my great-grandparents and a great uncle and aunt. On my way there though I had to pull over to capture photos of two unexpected but inspirational signposts. I later learned that they mark a neighborhood of 26 streets named for famed poets like Keats, and, Longfellow. 
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My great-grandmother Maude lived to be 100, I had the immense privilege to know her until I was 12 years old. Her only son, my grandmother’s brother was just shy of 100 when he died. I was impressed to learn that there are numerous famous people and their spouses laid to rest in this Cemetary too, for example Ed Sullivan, Joan Crawford, and Malcolm X, among others. Judy Garland was once here before being removed to California, and, Yul Brynner, John Lennon, Christopher Reeve, and Nelson Rockefeller, among other celebrities, were all cremated at this facility.
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Some of the inside walls are decorated with remembrances of what the Cemetary directors see as “individuals whose contribution to humanity will be remembered until the end of time.” I found them also inspiring.
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Otherwise, here in New York and one morning while in Connecticut Loren and I have taken Bikram Yoga classes, in between making travel plans for our next 3 months, while also taking care of routine car maintenance. We are staying indoors from the humidity, intermittent rain, thunder and lightening storms, and enjoying walks during periods of sunshine and comfortable days. I found this inspiring image on a neighbor’s trash pile.
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This time next week we look forward to visiting with cousins in New Hampshire…


Week 170 July 1, 2017

Happy Fourth of July weekend! Loren and I began our week still at a friend of mine’s home in Pennsylvania, which in some ways seems to be ages ago. We had quite humid weather there which to me feels very unusual – more like the “dog days” of my childhood August’s than June’s. The sweltering was relieved by an entire day of on and off torrential rains. So, we spent that day indoors, enjoying our friend’s outstanding Italian cooking of eggplant parmigiana, tortellini salad, and pasta fagioli. In between we played cards – specifically a version of Rummy called May I. We finished off our last day together of this visit with my childhood friend and I watching True Lies with her cats, while Loren coached her daughter on speaking Italian, a good review for him.
From Pennsylvania, Loren and I drove to New Jersey where we visited President Grover Cleveland’s birthplace. This is the second of two Presidential museums we visited of distant relatives of mine, so it was quite special to find a hand made cross-stitch there by his first cousin, Anna, and, the cradle in which he was rocked to sleep. I had no idea that there is a United States $1000 bill, and that Cleveland’s image is on it. Did you know that?
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While in Jersey overnight I had to laugh at an old taunt from my New York childhood: “Whut ahr ya, ah Joisey Drivah?” when someone operating a motor vehicle made a faux pas. While actually driving in New Jersey this time, and within the span of less than 24 hours, we encountered exactly 3 Jersey drivers making ridiculous or dangerous choices with their vehicles… It is a good thing that I make it a point to drive defensively. Loren and I then arrived into New York City to attend a Sunday service at the historic Unitarian Church of All Souls on Lexington Avenue, for our first time there.
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Afterwards Loren and I drove upstate – I always smile at that word, remembering my first experience of a friend who had moved far enough south of my childhood home to say that she was coming “upstate” to see me when I was in High School. It taught me a little bit more about world perspective. But I digress. We drove to Westchester County for a most memorable evening in joining my sister-in-law and her daughters in celebrating my brother’s 50th birthday for his wish of a sunset dinner cruise on the Hudson River.
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Our evening featured fireworks near the Statue of Liberty and over the New York City skyline, which was all decorated for the current Gay Pride parade. We felt so fortunate that the weather was perfect for a night out.
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The next day, we enjoyed a lunch date with my brother and sister-in-law who came to their house on the lake where we are staying. Another highlight this week was when Loren and I watched the first annual NBA Awards night. Our own Golden State Warriors’ Draymond Green was presented with two awards, Klay Thompson won one, and our newest star on the team, Kevin Durant received one as well.
Loren and I then spent a full day in New York City, starting off with visiting President Theodore Roosevelt’s birthplace. In addition to some of the history of the United States during his presidency, I came away with two interesting tidbits related to his name – the Teddy Bear was named for him, and, his last name was originally Van Rosenvelt, Dutch for of the rose field. I had learned at President McKinley’s museum that as Roosevelt was VP he took over the office of President when McKinley died. At Roosevelt’s birth home, I learned that President Taft – the third of my Presidential relatives, had served in Roosevelt’s War Department. And, I learned that Roosevelt was beginning his political career just before Grover Cleveland served his first Presidency. In other words, Roosevelt worked closely with the three Presidents who are my distant relatives. Interesting!
Still in New York City, we visited the site of an Eleanor Roosevelt tribute at Riverside Park, then had a beer in the newly reopened Tavern on the Green in Central Park.
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Our evening that day was another memorable one, spent with good friends. We started with a Midsummer-Night-Swing Salsa lesson at Lincoln Center, and finished at Bricco’s Italian restaurant, where, along with numerous other women before us – our friend and I left our lip marks on their ceiling! Loren and I then dashed off to catch our last return train from Grand Central, and made it with just 4 minutes to spare.
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On my brother’s actual birthday, we enjoyed another celebratory dinner with he and his family, for another wonderful evening together.
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Loren and I finished our week visiting a little around the city where I grew up. As we walked around downtown, I pointed out the old Armory. Taking the time to read the plaque there, I discovered that White Plains, where I was born and lived for the first half of my life, was also where the State of New York was born – well, ok, proclaimed!
Happy 4th of July!