Thursday, November 30, 2006

You know...

You know the neighbor kids have been over visiting when all the M&Ms are gone from the bowl of communal trailmix. ( I make it sound like they broke in like hoodlums and stole my chocolate- not so. They came and played with Stanne.)

You know you have something to blog about when you play a game of air hockey with your 83 year old grandfather-in-law at a demo table at Sam's Club. And he beats you. 2-1.

You know your husband has a very bad chest cough because when he laughs, he sounds like a heavy smoker. Eeegh.

You know your bathroom painting project has gotten out of control when you find yourself looking like a sweaty hobo/terrorist/walking fashion faux pas ( wearing 80's safety glasses and a pillowcase tied around the lower half of your face as a mask --because you can't find your do-rag that your step-uncle Scott gave you as a wedding gift) scraping the popcorn off the ceiling. Messy.

And I don't make up pointless lies. So the part about the do-rag from Scott N. is the truth. One of my favorite wedding gifts of them all!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

What's the deal with John Wayne?

I hate it when neighbors come to your door and your teeth are feeling thick and fruzzly with sugar after eating several pieces of candy. You feel like you can't really smile at them because you don't want them to be shocked and repulsed at your grody, coated teeth and you can't exactly be like, "Come back in five minutes after I've brushed my teeth!" And we only see or talk to these people for five minutes like once a month or once every two months, so it's like we're still on the "getting to know you" footing...where impressions are still being formed, even after a year of living nearby. And it seem like every time I encounter them, I get nervous, and so things don't flow...and then I get even more self-conscious. ARGH. Every time, it's SOMETHING - whether my hair is sticking out all funny or I'm wearing ratty clothes because I'm painting, or something. I know it shouldn't matter what they think of me, but for some reason, it does matter to least a little bit. I feel like they will always think I am weird and inferior. And there is nothing I can do about it. It's not like I want to claim I'm NORMAL...because I KNOW I'm not and I'm okay with that. I just want everyone ELSE to be okay with that too. But whatever. "The fear of man is a snare" and all that. Man- all that because I didn't brush my teeth. I think too much, I think. "Neurotic" is the word I'm looking for here.

I watched a John Wayne movie the other night with Grandpa. John Wayne was playing a man who fights out of control oil well fires. I just have to say, perhaps he does a good job in other movies, but in this one he was The Cheesiest Actor EVER. In short, this was not a shining example of why he was so popular. As Brad would say, " He was phoning it in." It was entertainingly awful. He's like this squinting, grinning, wooden, giant, caricature of himself that can hardly get his lines out in a believable fashion. Bogus. Odd how big stars can get away with being mediocre more than regular people.

Liar, liar...

Brad is the king of falsehoods. Let me 'splain.

This morning, he told me that his boss has a miniature horse at home ( a real, live creature) and that this mini-horse has been bred to be strong " like a burro", and in fact his boss has brought in pictures of himself riding said creature. I thought it was a bit odd- but why should I not believe that? I mean, he sounded totally casual. But a moment later, he laughingly confessed that his boss doesn't really ride the mini-horse, but he DOES have one. Whatever.

Later, as we were out doing errands, I saw a car that looked like Nate's and I commented b/c I thought it might be him. But it wasn't. Brad said that Nate has been renting out his car, for $20 a day to his neighbors, whose vehicle had been impounded "or something." I totally believed him AGAIN. Why?! I don't know. The thing is- it's not like he says things TOO casually, because that would be a dead giveaway. He says it like he's just remembered to tell me some really unusual, interesting news. I'm not getting why he loves to make up total lies that have no purpose. He says that it's like shooting fish in a barrel. "It's not like I mean to lie; it just sort of flows out of me..." But the thing is, he can't stand it for more than five minutes and he feels compelled to tell me that he's lying.

Another example of his bizarrity - not his lying bizarrity- but his obsession for truth telling...We saw this commercial the other day for IHOP; they were promoting some new special thing and the commercial showed this waitress bringing out a plate of comestibles, surrounded by a frenzied crowd of reporters - mostly a bevy of photographers, bristling with all kinds of lenses. Brad immediately pointed out that some of the lenses couldn't realistically be used for that kind of thing because " those lenses don't focus on anything closer than five feet." It just struck my funny bone. To be precise, it struck my roll-your-eyes-and-marvel-at-the-weird/needless -attention- to- detail bone. It's kind of like when we're watching a movie that is supposed to take place a hundred years ago, and a train comes along in some scene, and he says something like," That's totally wrong. That train wasn't made for another forty years..." So now, whenever I see a train in a movie, I automatically shout, " That's not real! Anachronism!"


Monday, November 27, 2006


Not to create a glut on the market of our blog or anything, but I thought I'd mention another notable bit o' news, as I take a break from painting. ( I'm on the second coat of primer and the fumes are getting to me a little bit. I wish there was some way I could encode this so Mama couldn't read it because I KNOW she's going to worry about me. The next time she talks to me, I KNOW she will say, " You need to wear a mask or put a fan in there or something..." Duly noted, Mama. I have the exhaust fan on...)

I comPLETEly failed to mention that we had my cousin KJ staying with us last week for a few days as she was on her break from college. She got here on Tuesday night around 11:00 and promptly made her presence known in the neighborhood by sounding off her car alarm. Okay- it was an accident. I thought it was hilariously funny. But then I wasn't in bed trying to sleep. And I wasn't out there trying to figure out how to make it stop! Ah well. Poor dear. She told about it on her own blog, so I will not repeat the account here. Suffice it to say, it stopped. Woe betide any gangster who tries to abscond with her vehicle. Mmmm - abscond. What a good word.

We had a really nice, relaxed visit: pie making and shopping on Wednesday, family festivities on Thursday and general slothfulness on Friday. Well, actually, she went over to my parents' place on Friday afternoon and spent the rest of her weekend blessing their socks off.

It was great fun to have her around. I really enjoyed hearing about her college and all the associated adventures and experiences. (I think in some ways, I would like to spend the rest of my life going to school. Taking classes is just so much fun. Of course, I am selectively forgetting all the pressure and papers and exams.) It was also fun to go thrift store shopping with her! And tossing the ol' pigskin around in the backyard on Thanksgiving Day would have been woefully inferior without her. One of my most favorite times was when I roped her into singing with me for church. Heh heh. It was so nice because I sang my song to her on Friday morning and she rustled up a harmony in no time (out of thin air b/c I didn't have any sheet music, as usual) and away we went. Easy as pie. Mmmmm- pie...what a good food.

Thanks for gracing us with your presence, KJ!

Fending Off an Attack

Fending Off an Attack
Originally uploaded by bradleypass.

Here I am attempting fruitlessly to fend off an attack by Stan. He's going through some sort of stage where his love language seems to be the inflicting of pain. He will clamp down with his mouth and front claws and proceed to pummel with his hind claws. And he purrs all the while.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

'Tis the Season... have eggnog! Mmmm...I love this stuff. I was thrilled to glimpse a bottle of said beverage in the grocery store a couple weeks ago. Since it's only around for a limited part of the year, I POUNCED. It reminds me of living with Mrs. B. during my college days. Around the holidays, we would each have a frosty, glass mug full of the stuff as we prepared dinner in the evening...complete with freshly grated nutmeg on top. Ahhhh...nothing like that cold, thick, creamy, eggy, completely unhealthy drink.

I wish I had a nutmeg grater. And a nutmeg...nut...thing.

Today I had a great game of badminton with D.T. at youth group. What a blast! Badminton RULES! Also- had some really fun games of frisbee and fewtboll.

Thursday, November 23, 2006


As I made my Thanksgiving list this morning in my churchy notebook, it was interesting to compare it with the one I made last year at this time in the same notebook. Some of the things were the same- and not just the good old standbys like friends and family and God. For instance, last year AND this year, I have listed that I am thankful for avocados and the local Christian radio station. Weird. Last year, I listed that I was thankful for a new nephew born in 2005: Arthur. And this year, I have another new nephew on my list since last Thanksgiving: Drew.

One of the first things on my list this time was my summer job. I have spent much of my time down here looking for a job, and learning lessons of trusting, waiting and contentment, but there was actually a period of about three months when I was gainfully employed full time! One happy side effect of so much unemployed time was that I got to take many trips this year; I didn't even realize how much traveling I have done recently until I sat down this morning to make my list.

First, in January I went to Michigan to visit L. In April, Brad, Dad, Grandpa and I went to Louisiana for a couple of days to visit the U.S.S. Kidd. In May, we went down to Florida for Jeff and Fritter's wedding. In August, I went up to New England for Sarah's wedding. In September, we went to Fairwood to celebrate the Feast of Harvest and were hugely encouraged during that time. And then in October/November, I went to England to visit K and fam. I am thankful for all those opportunities and the protection that God provided as I traveled.

I'm thankful for Brad's job, being married to Brad, having Nate and Penny living nearby, that there IS a heaven, yardsaling with Penny, eggnog, no terrorist attacks, financial blessings, a neighborhood pool, Sam's Club, my bathroom, artichokes, God's lessons in stripping even good things away so that I can't lean on anything but Him, and the powerful times of prayer we've had as a group at ODC which have strengthened me, given me vision and provided an anchor in storms.

God has blessed me - and us- so much this year and I really want Him to know that I appreciate his blessings.

I wish you all a very happy and THANKFUL Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

We hardly knew ye, Denny Schaffer...

I have had painting the downstairs half bath on my mental list of things to do for a very long time now. And I wanted to get it done by Thanksgiving - kind of an arbitrary deadline. So yeah- I started stripping flowery wallpaper on Monday and of course, everything took insanely longer than I planned and so here I am on Thanksgiving eve, with the sink still in the garage, the toilet disconnected and floating around the bathroom and the mirror and cabinet in the dining room...and the walls covered with one measly coat of primer. Ah. That's all well and good because my REAL deadline is when my sister L and her husband K and nephews E and D come for Christmas. Ha!

Before and after pictures will most likely be posted. If there IS an after.

I was listening to a lot of talk radio while I slaved away in the bathroom. I mostly listened to WGST- a local radio station here in Atlanta. They carry Rush Limbaugh but also have a couple of locally produced shows. One host that Brad and I have come to know and love is named Denny Schaffer. He's a Christian conservative and has a great personality. Perhaps he isn't the most articulate of talk show hosts, and sometimes a bit crass, but what he lacks in those areas is more than made up for by his passion and heart. He gets worked up into a frenzy over things. You guys think DJ is bad...Denny is like DJ on...on...SOMETHING. He's a bit irreverent and completely transparent. And, of course, he's hilariously funny. People would start their calls by saying, " How are you?" like everyone does when starting a conversation ( it's just part of breathing " How are you?" and no one really cares how you are, you just have to say it...) and he would cue up this little song clip of this ultra cheerful, silly little ditty, from a cartoon, I think:
" I'm super!!! Thanks for asking!" It just cracked me up every time. Listening to "Denny Radio" is part of our morning routine.

Or, "was" I should say.

Because his stupid station PULLED THE PLUG ON HIM! I was listening to him yesterday and the program ended at the usual time, and later in the day, the station announced a new line-up of programming. I guess they sprung the news on him that morning after the show that he wasn't going to work there anymore. I was stunned. I felt like someone I knew had died. It's so sad! It's just like he's dropped off the face of the earth. I immediately emailed the station manager and "gave him what for." In a nice way. But a disappointed and "I'm- not- going -to- listen-to-your-station-anymore-....except...maybe...for Rush" way. Man- that is just heartless- right before the holidays! What were they thinking!?

I remembered earlier in the show, he was commenting on a colleague at the radio station who was retiring that same day and said something about "that must be nice. The news anchor guy was there in the studio and said something weird like, "Be careful what you wish for..." and Denny was like, " No- not that I wish I wasn't working here. I just mean that it must be nice to have your career behind you and now you have more time..." or something like that. And it came back to haunt me later. I wonder if that news anchor knew what was going to happen. Traitors. Backstabbers. ( Claire goes into her best Captain Haddock rant...) Landlubbers! Ostrogoths! Pirates! Ectoplasms! Vandals! Vultures! Okay- so his ratings weren't the best. Good grief- he's only been in this town for a year! Give him a chance, people! I mean- come on! I liked him!

He even had a vlog!

No one can replace Denny. Least of all some silly syndicated show. Blaerrgh.

DENNY! WE MISS YOU! Where aaare you??? Maybe I should do a new song, " I've never met you, Little Denny Schaeffer...."

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Mr. Charli-Doll Goes to Washington

I was talking with Grandpa the other day and the subject of Charli-dolls came up, as it often does. He mentioned the fact that through the years, he has sent Charli-dolls to various presidents. It just made me smile to think of the White House Gift Opener as they encountered the present from Grandpa. I wonder if somewhere in the bowels of some archive building, those Charli-dolls still exist, or if they have been thrown away long ago or devoured by some hungry staffer. Hmmm. President Reagan liked jelly beans, so maybe he ate the jelly bellies. And it made me wonder- what other unusual things show up in the White House mail?

Grandpa hasn't made Charli-dolls for several years now and I'm sure the current President Bush hasn't received one. I suppose it's time for us to continue the tradition and send the White House a doll. After all, Christmas is coming!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

It's been an interesting week, folks

Wednesday marked a first for me: I met someone in real life that I have only met through blogs.

I won't use her real name and I don't know if I can use her whole blog name, so I'll just call her Soj and those of you who know her will be all, "Ah!" and those of you who don't, it doesn't make a smidge o' difference. I met her through the blogosphere perhaps a year and a half ago, and we have visited each other's blogs and commented back and forth.

She was coming through our area on business and so we emailed each other and set up a time to meet. To tell the truth, I was a little nervous. I've never met anyone that I've only had contact with online. I just didn't know how it would be. Honestly, I felt a little shy. Yes, me, shy. I got up and vacuumed my house that morning, Soj, just for you. Okay not the whole house. And I have to say, I think our vacuum cleaner is on its last legs. Or wheels. Or whatever. Or maybe I just need to change the bag. ANYWAY...

Poor Brad has come down with a nasty cold. I feel guilty b/c I think it might be from me- I came home from England with an all consuming head-cold and he was fine for a week and a half, so I'm not sure if it's really from me or from a co-worker of his...but anyway...He was sort of in a fog that morning and did not feel his best. But he met Soj and was able to be here for about half an hour or so before he had to leave for work.

She brought me a gift- a bouquet of lollipops! It was all so charming...I was going to take a picture of it, and then I absentmindedly let Stan play with the ribbon that tied it all together, and that was a mistake. Stretched out and shredded. Wah.

She brought a friend with her, Becca, and we all had a marvelous time talking and getting to know one another. We went out for lunch and coffee, and came back home, to be mauled by an extremely hyper Stan. That cat actually DREW BLOOD from me. I think he was super excited by the visitors.

Anyway, it was so interesting and fun to meet her. She was taller than I thought she'd be! I was taller than she thought I'd be! It was strange because I don't do terribly well making new friends - because I have known most of my friends most of my life and so my skills in that department aren't super strong. But it wasn't exactly like making a new friend...because I sort of already knew her a little bit. Very cool.

We took some pictures but at this point, I won't be posting any as there were some problems with them...I think Brad would be apalled if I posted a picture with red-eye... I know he can correct some of the problems, but he is terribly busy and awfully sickly right now, and I don't want to wait until he fiddles with the pictures to blog about this...because if I put off posting any longer, this week will fade into the murky past. SO perhaps at some future point, a picture may appear - either on the blog or on Flickr.

And then the next day, Thursday, Grendpeppy moved in. Okay- Grandpa. That is: Pass. As in: Charlie. Of Charli-doll fame. ( I just like saying "Grendpeppy" because it's an Andrew-Deep Thoughts thing and it makes me smile.) Grendpep is now inhabiting our downstairs apartment. ( I would say "basement" but that would give the impression that he's living amongst gray cement walls lit by a naked lightbulb with spiders and cobwebs. But it's actually a finished basement and quite nice and aside from the fact that it doesn't have a kitchen, I might not mind living down there myself.) So far so good. It's been a while since I've lived with an octegenarian.

The adventure has begun.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

The Happy Hollisters and Nasty Ol' Punkin

Just wanted to show you my Happy Hollister's "smuggler edition" book...

Also, while I'm posting pictures, I figured I'd pass along this photo of autumn beauty. I think my pumpkin looks a lot scarier now than he did on Halloween. I guess next year I'm going to carve my pumpkin two weeks ahead of time so he'll look extra horrific for the day itself. Originally, he was supposed to be the face of Fluffy Puff Marshmallows ( see Homestar Runner) but now I think he looks kinda like a toothless, malevolent old man. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Judging a book...

Yesterday, I participated in a great yardsaling adventure with Penny, Katie and my mother. Spirits were high, as well as temperatures. Not that we were feverish, but the outdoor temperature was up in the low 80's, I think, at one point. In November! The whole Southern balminess thing still surprises me, even after a year. I got a chair and matching ottoman for a mere fifteen bucks at the first yardsale. It's a tad oldish and there are a few spots and such, but on the whole it is a very sound, comfortable chair and pretty good-looking. I got it for our basement apartment, which is soon to be inhabited by Grandpa/Uncle Charlie/Mr. Pass.

At the next yardsale, I found some Happy Hollister books. As a child, I read this charming, archaic, corny, wholesome series about a family of sleuthing children- kind of junior Hardy Boys, except there are three girls in the family. They seem to run into adventures and mysteries everywhere, and the bad guys are always brought to justice, mumbling about how everything in their nefarious schemes was going well until "these prying kids showed up and ruined everything." Anyway, I bought four of these books, including the pilot episode, which introduces the Hollister family, as they move to the town of Shoreham. ( What is it with books of this ilk and the way they name towns? Bayport? Shoreham? River Heights? They all sound like cheesy subdivisions. But then, if I'm getting into criticism of this genre, town names merely scratch the surface of the campy iceberg.)

The books were a little tattered, but I thought it would be nice to have them, for sentimental value, and perhaps someday, our future children might like to read them.

I was leafing through the first book today, and found a few pages that looked as though they had been stabbed. Whatever. I kept going and suddenly found that someone had carved out a rectangular space through several pages, from page 17 - 44 to be exact, as if someone had been intending to smuggle something within the book. I was annoyed - I wish I had seen that before I bought it- but I was also a bit intrigued. What is the story behind this tale of tome mutilation? Was it the act of some child, just being mischevious? Or is there a darker story involved? Should I have the book exorcised, to cleanse it from a shady past? If this was the instrument of sketchiness, I have to admire the genius of whoever used the book- who would think of suspecting a Happy Hollisters book of containing anything untoward? It's a deliciously ironic little scheme.

I asked Brad if he had ever read the Happy Hollisters. He said, "No, it's against my religion." Okaaaaaaay. Clearly, three years of marriage isn't enough to plumb the depths of all our differences.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Tales of a Traveler

I'm home again, safe and sound. Here are a few pictures from my trip to Cambridge. I didn't actually get a lot of good ones, sadly. I struggled with the camera quite a bit, but I'm afraid I'm just not a natural photographer. If I had photographed everything I wanted to, I probably wouldn't have had much time to do anything else.

The day after I posted last, I came down with a strange sickness that reduced me to heaving up into the trash, and left me utterly useless. Great! It is just the WORST to be sick away from home and I felt bad to be endangering the household and inconveniencing everyone, although Karena was super nice and took care of me... I got over it by the afternoon but I was pretty miserable and desirous of death for a few hours. And then I was afraid to eat for a day- and subsisted on dry toast and gingerale. Poor Lexie came down with it a couple days later...You can just pray that it ends there and that nobody else in the house catches it!

It was fun to get to know Lexie and Arthur a little bit. Lexie is super creative; she will occupy herself by the hour drawing, cutting up paper, taping bits of paper together, and making things. I was the recipient of a gorgeous piece of paper jewelry- a bracelet of priceless green and white construction paper with an exquisite little clasp of string. Sadly, I think I left it in England, along with my sunglasses.

Arthur is extremely musical. He can really carry a tune perfectly; his repertoire consists mostly of "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" and variations on this tune. It is so rewarding to have him charge up to you and happily attack your leg like a little bear.

Karena and I spent some good, quality time together over the week and we went to all sorts of great places, including shopping at the outdoor marketplace, lunch at a tea room, visiting the Fitwilliam Musuem...etc. I loved the Fitzwilliam and ended up going twice- hurray for free admission. I skipped the Egypt stuff and the armor and ancient things and instead, spent most of my time on the European art: fabuloso. The incredible things I saw - in the museum and also around Cambridge- just fed a great, big beauty hunger in me.

We ate out at a couple interesting places - one was a Japanese noodle place- excellent,yummy food- and also at a vegetarian place, with great cuisine as well. The thing about the British is- their customer service leaves something to be desired. I almost fell out of my chair at one point when someone at the next table asked the waitress something about their bill as she was walking by, and she didn't even LOOK at them. She didn't even pause. She just kept walking and said, "It's on the table." The person had to get up and follow her to have their question answered. If that was in the U.S., her tip would have been mud! I was apalled! But Karena tells me that is pretty standard.

It seems to me that 95% of British people are above-average in ugliness. It kind of made me feel relaxed though. I didn't worry so much that I was having a bad hair day and that my teeth are crooked and my socks clashed with my shoes. I felt in a strange way that I belonged. I think I fit in well, on the whole. Although wearing the Red Sox hat may have made me stand out in a way. I felt like I was wearing an American flag on my head and it made me feel proud but it also felt as though I was wearing a sign: "Foreigner! Tourist! Alien!" The subject came up on my return trip to the airport, and I asked my taxi driver ( I had the same one from before) if he knew what my hat meant, and he said no. When I told him, he was puzzled as to why there was a B...I explained, and it made me smile, because I suddenly remembered being a small child and asking someone the same thing. I saw a man at Gatwick that had a Yankees shirt; there was a small second of recognition between us as he saw my hat and I saw his shirt and I smiled. It felt as though I had spent a week on a distant planet, surrounded by a different species of creatures and that suddenly, I saw a human again- maybe a pygmy or an albino, but a human nonetheless! Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

A postcard from England ( minus the picture, sorry)

I figure I better document the fact that right now I am fulfilling a life-long dream: I have finally made it to England. There is so much going on right now, so much to see and experience that it's practically a sensory overload...between the fantastic architecture of Cambridge, the sights and smells of the outdoor market ( which I have been to three times so far), the gorgeous countryside, the adorable little bookshops
( some of which seem like glorified closets), and of course the fascinating sound of English accents all around me. ( I just wrote a few postcards last night- and that line is almost straight from the backs of those postcards- sorry, recipients, for the redundancies...)

The jetlag stuck with me longer than I anticipated. I took off on Friday evening and got into Gatwick Saturday morning 2:00 a.m. according to my body- but 7:00 a.m. local time. Unfortunately, there were a number of small children on the plane so sleep was hard in coming. And I've never had anyone wake me up at such an ungodly hour for a boxed breakfast of airplane food- which was actually quite good as airplane food goes.

My taxi driver said that he had driven Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg in his car. "She sat right where you are sitting now!" Yep, me 'n Justice Ginsberg- birds of a feather. "Not"- as we used to say in the 90's.

It's been good to spend some quality time with my neice and nephew. I've taken pictures, but it's hard to get them to sit still long enough to get a good picture. And being a little more comfortable with the video camera, I find myself spending too much time figuring out how to get the still camera to do what I want it to...and then the moment is lost. Or rather, the nanosecond is lost. Lexie wants to see the picture immediately, and sometimes gets up to come see it before I've even taken it!

Last night I took Lexie around to do some trick or treating- as Sleeping Beauty or some such princess ( she is obsessed with "princessesses") - until a gaggle of hooligans in ghoulish masks overtook us and frightened her senseless. ( Another postcard line stolen...)So we went home. I was secretly a little glad to go home early; it was cold. Poor Lexie- I think she hasn't quite grasped the concept of trick-or-treating. She kept trying to GIVE candy to the people in the houses...I had to encourage her to TAKE the candy, not give it. I felt like such a bad aunt: what kind of message am I giving here: GET- not GIVE!

And today was Lexie's birthday: HUGE excitement! Presents! Cake! Balloons! Joy! Silliness!

This morning, I spent a few hours by myself walking around Cambridge, visiting churches, shops, and the Fitzwilliam Museum. Man- every INCH of this city is CRAMMED with beauty and history and charm. I just want to EAT it.

The whole driving on the wrong side of the road thing is much less of a weirding-out factor than I imagined. The fact that the roads are so narrow and that bikes are whizzing everywhere freaks me out a little more. I'm a little surprised I haven't been mowed down yet. And I would never survive driving here.

Well, there is lots more to say and many pictures to download, of course, but I will wait til I get home to post pictures, and who knows when you may hear from me again...