Week 272 June 15, 2019

Hello from New York! And, Happy Father’s Day tomorrow to all our family and friends who are Fathers!

Before leaving California last Saturday night, and after packing up our belongings at our AirBnB, Loren and I enjoyed a delightful meal out with special friends who we made at the AirBnB where we stayed just 3 days shy of a full year. 

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While we were in the restaurant, we received a text message that our flight leaving San Francisco airport that evening was delayed. It was long enough to interfere with our connecting flight and to cause us to be late for our scheduled rental car pickup. We called the airline only to find it would be at least a two hour wait time to speak with an agent…

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A dear friend had offered to drive us to the airport, and we only pushed back our ride with him by half an hour to have enough time to speak with an airline representative at the airport. I am grateful we went early and had the delayed flight because, when we arrived at SFO, I discovered I had forgotten my ID. Loren was kind to me about all the effort it took for us with round-trip public transit and Uber rides to retrieve it. We were also able to rearrange our rental car pickup time. When we returned to the airport, our flight had been further delayed due to severe thunder storms in Georgia. We had actually needed most of that extra time. We ultimately left San Francisco 4 hours late, spent 4 extra hours in Atlanta, and arrived safe in New York 8 hours later than scheduled. I smiled on seeing an advertisement from the amusement park of my youth at the airport. 

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As Loren said, “It was a journey just trying to leave!”

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Fortunately Loren and I had both been able to sleep some on the overnight flight. We rented the car, and drove to Pennsylvania to arrive at my junior high school friend’s place where we had a lovely visit. We extended our stay an additional night, to make up for how late we had arrived. We played cards together and I put together an easy puzzle which nearly had me feeling like I had visited the Jersey shore.

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While in Pennsylvania one evening, we went to a local bar to watch the NBA Finals’ Warriors vs Raptors Game 5. This lounge had 10 televisions, with 8 of them showing the basketball game. Loren and I were thrilled when our team won!

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On returning to New York, Loren and I enjoyed a wonderful Mexican dinner with my brother, his wife and their younger daughter. The waiter prepared our guacamole to order at our table. Similarly he prepared a fiery table-side display for my niece’s desert.

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The next day I drove to the upstate village where my father had said his father was born. My brother and I have known little about my father’s side of the family because his parents both died young. I had driven my father to this town once in recent years before he died, but I had not learned much from that trip. This time I stopped at the Village Clerk’s office and was rewarded with seeing the handwritten record of my grandfather’s birth. Now I know the exact month and day of his birth – in addition to the year which I had previously learned from his headstone – as well as the names of my grandfather’s parents. Then I went to the village cemetery and was fortunate to find not only my great-grandfather’s and great-grandmothers’ tombstones, but also this great-grandmother’s parents tombstones. I was so touched to find these special ones’ graves.

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On leaving the area, I was treated to a great blue heron sitting on a rock in a pond on the side of the road, and just had to snap its’ photo. That evening Loren and I were sorry to see our Warriors lose the Finals to the Raptors in Game 6 of the series. Our team had suffered several injuries in the post season, and another key player had to leave that game due to an injury, dashing the team’s dreams of wining a three-peat championship.

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There have been other aspects of nature that also caused me to pause to snap a photo this week – from a colorful bush that reminds me of Australian eucalyptus, to the density of dogwood blossoms this season, to a cardinal and bluejay on adjacent tree branches.

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The next day Loren and I had an hours-long lunch date with another dear friend of mine. She brought photos of she and me from before I had moved to California. I was shocked to be reminded how I had looked thirty years ago when we had visited Cape Cod together one summer. That evening Loren and I went to see The Secret Life of Pets 2, which was as amusing as my recollection of the first Pets film that I had caught most of during a long flight some year or so ago.

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Today, we had another wonderful time with my brother, his wife and their younger daughter, in driving to and taking a guided tour of historic West Point. We learned its location was strategic at the time of the Revolutionary War to take advantage of a particular narrow passage of the Hudson River, preventing the British to pass between their ports in New York and Canada. It was a lovely day and we were grateful for the information imparted to us with the high caliber of our tour guide – might I even label her a guidess?

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Tomorrow we look forward to spending Father’s Day with my brother, who is a great Dad to two beautiful young women.

Week 243 November 24, 2018

My thanks this week are especially for all our family and friends, and we hope and wish that you each had a wonderful Thanksgiving Day with your dear ones!

Loren’s and my week began with still staying at my brother and sister-in-law’s lake house in New York. We never tire of seeing the effects of the stars and precipitation interacting with the elements of nature, like neighborhood cats and migrating Canadian geese, in and around the lake. It is so often awe inspiring. 

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We were soon off to visit a special friend of mine from childhood and her daughter, who live in Pennsylvania. She had prepared Loren’s favorite – her eggplant parmesan, which we thoroughly enjoyed. Then we learned that she had planned to cook a turkey with all the trimmings that go with it for us to also enjoy together! So Loren and I had the privilege of celebrating Thanksgiving twice this week, for which we are very thankful!! Not only were we appreciative, her cat has recently developed somewhat of a voracious appetite, and surprisingly yowled and paced to have some of the turkey too. After our eating, we enjoyed playing a few rounds of the rummy version May I together.

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My friend had remembered from when I had visited briefly in July that I had been interested in seeing an episode of A Crime to Remember, which my brother had alerted me portrays the murders of my grandfather’s sister and brother-in-law from before I was born. My friend had kindly arranged to have it available to watch, so we viewed the episode together. It was a more somber experience than what our smiling faces in the photo below reflects. On a happier note, she showed us a medal that she has, which commemorates her grandfather’s placing second in the New York State Division of the Spring Century bicycling race in 1909. If we calculated correctly, he was either 13 or 14 years old at the time. Both a tragedy and a treasure from events of over a half century and a century ago. In the end it was hard to bid our farewells for now…

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We returned to the lake house and were again enthralled with the changing scenery just outside our windows which must be kept closed for the unseasonably early cold spell… 

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Our Thanksgiving day began with a nice brunch with my family at the Veteran’s Home where my sister-in-law’s father lives, but where was my camera?! Then Loren and I took advantage of the gorgeous blue skies and an error of mine with our GPS that brought us close to the cemetery where so many of my family’s graves are located, including those of my parents. Afterwards Loren and I drove back toward the lake house stopping to see the two privately owned Frank Lloyd Wright architected residences that can be more easily viewed from the road when the leaves are down. What was interesting is that the design of so many of the neighboring homes in this particular area seem to have been influenced by FL Wright’s style. 

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Then Loren and I returned home to finish up my contribution to the Thanksgiving dishes. We were going to my brother and sister-in-law’s in the evening so that my one niece who had to work and her beau could join us for dinner. And what a delicious meal it was! We were joined for dinner by a neighbor family, and we all stayed for hours afterwards visiting. 

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One of my nieces has a new tattoo, I am thankful too that she has a good reminder for an alternative to fear.

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Week 223 July 7, 2018

Happy Belated Heat-Waving-242nd-Birthday USA! From the east coast to the midwest, I have encountered potentially record setting temperatures and humidity. As well, I drove through deluges of rain, saw streaks of lightning and exciting fireworks, all while or on my way to visiting with very special family members and friends.

Loren enjoyed a hike with some long term friends in California, and otherwise has been visiting and helping care for his Mom this week.

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I began the week still in Pennsylvania, thoroughly enjoying seeing my good friend and her daughter, eating her incomparably delicious homemade eggplant and catching up on seeing movies, like Shrek, Into the Wild, and Eddie Murphy and Ben Stiller comedies. 

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Then, in making my way closer toward California, I stopped next in Ohio where I spent a wonderful overnight with dear friends. Our memorable visit included a walk in their neighborhood, delicious dinner, a game of Canasta in which lady luck visited me, and, a great breakfast, all affording memorable and meaningful conversations.

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Driving further west from there, I camped where I witnessed a beautiful sunset. My site’s picnic table also faced an RV named the same as one of my favorite songs, Imagine.

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Now I am at Loren’s cousin’s in Nebraska. I arrived in time to join her for a potluck dinner and fireworks display at a neighbor’s on night of the the 4th. It has been so fun to see her,  

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one of her daughters, her brother, her son-in-law,

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and her granddaughter and grandson, during my short visit. And, she has adopted her granddaughter’s bottle-fed kitten, who is a mischievous hoot!

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Along the drive so far, I snapped a few shots – *v*e*r*y* carefully so not my best – of favorite roadie entertainment: one among several heat=wave warnings, a couple of many moose and peace sign images on the windows of other vehicles,

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a unique, uplifting sign on an 18 wheeler, a city with a most important name, and, finally, on July 4th, a red cab and a white cab being towed by – what else? a blue cab!

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To finish this week here are my newest favorite quotes:
From Papa Francesco, aka Pope Francis’’ Happiness audio book:
   There is no future without peace.
And, three from Into the Wild, two of them from the main character Chris:
   The core of man’s spirit comes from new experiences, and
   Happiness is only real when shared.
the other from the character played by Hal Holbrook,
   When you forgive you love, and when you love God’s light shines on you.

Tomorrow I head west again, to stop overnight in Colorado…

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 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 169 June 24, 2017

Hello Dear Family members and Friends, thank you for checking in with us on our blog. Loren and I so appreciate you doing so and/or hearing from you by email or phone when you reach out to us!
We began this week still in the Ohio Amish country – mainly looking around Millersburg, Sugar Creek, and Walnut Creek, which this last one is identical in name to a SF Bay city…
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Then, we were off to Canton to see William McKinley’s Presidential Memorial and museum. This was a most special place to me, as I am a distant relative of this President with similar ancestral ties to Scotland. I had not remembered that Theodore Roosevelt had been his VP. I am also related to two other presidents, but this was the first of the three tributes that we plan to see. 
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We visited the First Ladies National Historic Site here too, which is partially housed in President McKinley’s wife Ida – nee Saxton’s home.
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In Canton, I noticed that we were driving on the Lincoln Highway again. We attended a UU Sunday service here, focused on the Summer Solstice, and, I was so touched to see an image that I have seen so many – hundreds? possibly thousands? of times at our home congregation. It piqued my interest to learn more about the artist and the meaning of the broader two images that I found in Canton.
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Then, on our way to Cleveland we found another Peter “Wolf” Toth Whispering Giants Trail statue, this one was in Akron. 
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We enjoyed the Cleveland area for four nights, and attended Bikram Yoga classes at an appealing studio each day. I was able to teach another class – my 112th one since I attended training when we first left home.
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Loren and I visited charming Chagrin Falls one evening and had a memorable dinner in the front window table at a small restaurant where the food is so excellent that reservations are recommended any night. We also had nice walks around the town beforehand and afterwards.
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One evening we were surprised to discover a home town brew from our own city served here in Ohio. We had never seen it before, and we now can recommend it!
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We spent one entire day – on the one day that includes being open in the evening hours – at the Cleveland Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. It was thoroughly entertaining. Highlights include seeing a video about making each of the Beatles’ albums, a 30 minute review of Dick Clark’s American Bandstand, and, a special U2 concert film shown in 3D in one of the theaters of the museum. It was also fun to visit the interactive booths where we could select tunes to listen to from our youth – there were so many bands whose music we remember – The Lovin’ Spoonful, Sly & The Family Stone, Jefferson Airplane, The Byrds, The Young Rascals, Buffalo Springfield, so many more. I enjoyed seeing clips of Diana Ross and The Mamas and The Papas, while Loren was impressed to learn more about Elvis, who was most popular before our time.
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We spent the good part of a day then driving toward Lebanon, Pennsylvania to visit a dear friend and her daughter. Can you tell that it would have rained on us off and on? We were once again on the Lincoln Highway memorialized on the side of this big barn,
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as we made our way to the remote farm field near Shanksville to pay our respects at the Flight 93 National Memorial, a moving tribute to one of the many heroic sacrifices made on 9/11/01.
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It is wonderful now to visit with these dear friends again. I have known my friend since we were 13… I just realized now how – with both my parents gone, she is among the people who I have known for the longest period of time in my life, even longer than my brother! And at 22 years old, her daughter challenges me with her ideas about the world in ways that enrich my own thinking. Thank you two for your love and this special time!

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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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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