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…

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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.
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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.
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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.
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Afterwards we had a good hike on a nearby trail.
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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.
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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!
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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 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. 
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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. 
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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.
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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…
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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. 
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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!
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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!
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Happy 4th of July!

Week 144 December 31, 2017

It does not seem like a whole week could possibly have passed by, but it was a full week! We left New York after a special brunch with cherished family there, and drove to Pennsylvania to stay with a dear friend. She and I have known each other since Junior High translates to: Middle School, days.
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It was fun to reminisce over several other visits we have had over the years, thanks to some of her precious photos displayed in frames. 
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When Loren and I left, we had a twelve hour drive to our AirBnB just outside of St. Louis. After our host learned of our intention to visit the Harry Truman Library in Independence, Missouri, he made sure that we were also aware of the National Winston Churchill Museum in nearby Fulton. Seeing this was also of interest to us, so we changed our plans for the opportunity to spend time learning more about Churchill’s life and work. We later arrived in Independence in time to see a little of the Truman Presidential Library before it closed for the day.
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Our AirBnB in Independence was in an historic neighborhood, in walking distance to what was Truman’s home. We began early the next day with a visit there, which is part of the National Park system, and, extremely affordable courtesy of Loren’s Senior Pass! We then spent what was left of the day seeing the rest of the extensive Truman Library.
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Speaking of historic, that is what we are experiencing this week – from seeing images and reading so much about WWII at Churchill’s memorial and at Truman’s Library, the AirBnB common area also had a sobering poster of the south New York City skyline from sometime between late 1970 but before September 11, 2001. 
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As with our visit to President Carter’s Library in Atlanta in 2015, we learned so much more about Truman’s presidency than we were aware of, giving us much more of an appreciation of the challenges and important decisions he faced. Both Truman and Churchill faced struggles early in their personal life until they discovered that their talents allowed them to excel through service in their military.
Loren and I have now left Missouri behind, arriving in time to ring in 2017 tonight with dear cousins in Nebraska. Somehow, for the first time, I hear them pronounce their state name as ‘nBraska’! Maybe I always heard them say it that way, and I am just clearer in that I want to convey it here. But also for the first time I understand what their 4H club name means and that is definitely worthy of conveying here too.
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We have already had a few laughs together and look forward to many more before we drive south to Texas from here. Until then, it is delightful to spend time with these precious family members and see their appealing and festive holiday decorations.
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In conveying the message of the season in the words of Truman, May there be Peace for All Time,
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and, wishing you a Happy 2017, with an idea from another wall hanging from our  Independence AirBnB showing street signs proclaiming, “Your Life” vs. the one not taken, which is “No Longer An Option.”
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Week 143 December 24, 2016

Hello, we hope that you too had a great Christmas!
This post is a little late as this week Loren and I visited for four nights in the Province of Buenos Aires, Argentina. We stayed first at an AirBnB for two nights in La Plata. Our host had two adorable sibling kittens named Cobre, which means Copper, and Felicidad for Happiness, who were entertaining. Loren was able to practice speaking Spanish, however, in Argentina there is a dialect spoken that is different from what we learned in school. For example, “You” familiar, is said, Bos here, not Tu.
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Two more nights were spent at an AirBnB with a family and their dog, Athena, in Lujan, said Loo-han. The father is quite an artist as a hobby. The elder son is talented in playing the guitar, while his girlfriend likes to sing. The younger son is playful and fun.
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We were all anticipating Navidad – Christmas, but, for us from the Northern Hemisphere, it felt unusual as it is summer and calor – hot, during the day in Buenos Aires. We had several laughs trying to translate certain ideas. We learned more of the dialect, for example, Sho, rather than Yo for I, and, Cashe, instead of Calle for street. As the mother spoke no English I was inspired to try a bit with my limited Spanish too. When Loren asked their word for Nun, they taught us it is Monka. When queried if the masculine would be Monko? The father quickly said, “No, no monkey!”
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We were privileged to celebrate the older son’s 16th birthday, with this family hosting a traditional BBQ. At the start of the evening his parents, his aunt, uncle, Loren and I shared a traditional communal drink. It is called Mate, which Loren wondered if it was marijuana? No! It is a little like coffee or tea, served in one metallic cup with a special – usually silver, straw. This is one aspect of our travels that Loren and I most appreciate – to be able to spend time with the local people to learn more about their culture. And this family appreciates opening their home to travelers, for their sons to learn more about the larger world in their own home environment. 

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When the evening turned to well after midnight, Google Translate described what they were then saying as, “The night is in diapers.” We finally understood this to mean, “The night is young!” And, they meant it! The boy and his friends who had already arrived before we went to bed, went out to town to celebrate, at about 3am…
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On our last day in Argentina, we went with the family to visit at the home of the aunt and uncle who we met the previous evening. They have two rescued owls which are among my favorite birds,
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and a rescued pigeon! We had a lovely visit with an additional friend there and the sons of the aunt and uncle. The older one’s girlfriend gifted us with a lovely Christmas ornament that she had made by hand.
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Then we bid a fond farewell to this lovely family after we returned to their home. 
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Loren and I then had a nearly a two hour drive to the airport, for a 5 hour overnight flight.
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This was followed by a change of planes in Miami on our way to New York for Christmas afternoon and dinner with my brother and his family. My older niece’s beau was able to share this special time with us too. Santa brought my younger niece her first car, and she is beside herself with delight in it. We so enjoyed watching the movie, Elf together, which is competing with Polar Express for Loren’s and my second choice, after It’s a Wonderful Life of all time favorite holiday movies. After dinner we watched a recording of Loren’s favorite Golden State Warriors competing with the Cleveland Cavaliers in basketball, which had a disappointing outcome for us Californians. Despite that, it was another wonderful, memorable family gathering for us to cherish!
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Now Loren and I wish you a very Happy 2017!

Week 140 December 3, 2016

We Wish You Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah!! Hope You have a Wonderful 2017!!!
It is already December. This week has mostly been one of reloading our van – sorting, storing, packing and preparing for our next adventure – in Antarctica! While in New York for most of this week, we continued our practice of daily Bikram yoga classes in Yorktown Heights. It was hard to bid farewell for now to the wonderful community of people there.
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We also had the delight of a spontaneous lunch date with my brother and his wife at their lake house, and, thoroughly enjoyed our evening dinner date with them, and their daughters. Here is a treasured photo from Thanksgiving of the girls, with us – can you see me in the background and Uncle Loren’s reflection in the mirror? Now their home and front lawn are already decked out for Christmas…
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Loren and I had a special dinner too with friends in New York City. Before we met them at their home, we walked the blocks from Grand Central, going by The Chrysler Building. I could not resist a traditional hot pretzel while we passed by so many other outstanding City attractions… like St. Patrick’s Cathedral, sparkling from a recent cleaning.
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New York brings to mind a line from from Silver Bells: “City sidewalks, busy sidewalks, dressed in holiday style,” with the tree at Rockefeller Center all set to be lit, framed by the already twinkling angels with golden instruments, and, buildings trimmed in ribbons and lights.
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The busiest building that we saw was across the street from cordoned off Trump tower, where a peaceful protest progressed.
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We then walked through a part of Central Park to see one of Yoko Ono’s tributes to John Lennon, a permanent meditation area named Strawberry Fields with a mandala featuring “Imagine” and bordering benches.
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We finished the evening with our friends at the “breast table” in the house – that is not a typo, we had a great time at a table beneath a bigger than life work of body art, with our waiter helping to make the evening more memorable. Then Loren and I enjoyed more city views as we walked back to Grand Central for our train home.
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Now we have had an early morning flight requiring us to rise in the week hours to arrive in Florida for a week. Here we are visiting a few of our dear family members and friends. As we drove from Floridian ocean to gulf, we had a view of this sunset as we crossed a bridge, also reflected in a nearby car’s side mirror – it is almost duplicated by the brake light of the car in front, but not quite.
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Outside our AirBnB near Tampa, we found these fun paw prints that shine at night, a fun way to represent our own footsteps as we continue along on our amazing world journey.
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PLEASE NOTE: for the rest of this month, it is possible that we may have limited internet access, so, please check back again for when we are next able to post to this site.