I beg of you,

I implore you,

I make a plea on my knees,

Do NOT dress your cat up for Thanksgiving.


Give kitty the turkey gizzard,

not the hideous turkey costume,

and kitty will be your friend furrever.

Happy Thanksgiving to readers who celebrate the holiday! For the rest of the Melangites, I urge you to overload on carbs and sugar (with a little protein thrown in) and take a couple of naps on November 26th. Feel free to repeat that cycle a few times so that you have a reason to go to the gym on November 27th.

I am eternally thankful for good friends, loving family, furry critters, church community, a roof over my head, turkey in my mouth, and YOU, dear readers. Have a lovely Thursday, no matter what you have on your plate.


That is a great question.

I wish there was a pat answer.

I feel peace hiding, trembling, afraid to show its face of late. ISIS terrorist attacks in Paris and Beirut, and the bombing of a Russian airliner over Egypt, have the world’s humanity on edge – fearful, filled with anxiety, and witness to suffering.

From NBCNews.com“SAINT-DENIS, France — A woman blew herself up early Wednesday (November 18) as an elite police unit raided an apartment while hunting the suspected lynchpin behind the Paris terror massacre.  The status of Abdelhamid Abaaoud, a Belgian jihadist thought to have played a key role in last Friday’s assaults that killed 129 people, was unclear.”

From CBSNews.com“Twin suicide bombings struck a southern Beirut suburb that’s a stronghold of the militant Shiite Hezbollah group on Thursday evening (November 12), killing at least 43 people and wounding scores more (239) in one of the deadliest attacks in recent years in Lebanon. They targeted civilians, worshippers, unarmed people, women and elderly, they only targeted innocent people,” Hezbollah official Bilal Farhat told the AP, calling it a “satanic, terrorist attack.”

From TheGuardian.com“A homemade bomb brought down the Metrojet airliner over Egypt’s Sinai desert last month (October), the Kremlin has said, confirming for the first time that the plane was destroyed by a terrorist act. The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, vowed to find and punish those responsible and ordered an increase in airstrikes on Syria as ‘inevitable retribution’ for the attack that killed all 224 people on board, mainly returning Russian holidaymakers.”

This hate-filled group vows to carry out future attacks in the United States and elsewhere. Their motive is certainly not one of peace. ISIS has drawn in thousands and thousands of followers from around the world by use of social media and with the promise that their terrorist ideology is somehow valid. (I say ideology rather than “religion” because I will not subscribe to blatant abuse of religious faith. Murder and torture cannot be part of any religion – not of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, or any other religious organization. It cannot be an excuse or reason for terrorism.)


I ask again, where is peace?

Does anyone know?

How do we help the solidarity of non-violent, loving people be front and center in the news, rather than horrid images of corpses, of terrorists behind cowardly masks, or of Syrian children forced from their homes due to conflict? The latter is especially troubling to me. With the Paris attacks, these innocent children and their families are now the subject of panic and paranoia rather than attempts to give them peace and a home. Of the 12 million Syrians who have fled their home, half are children. Since the Syrian civil war started, 240,000 people have died, 12,000 of them children. And, yet, we have turned on them, refusing to let them cross borders or live in certain countries. I am disheartened that states’ leaders within the United States (Wisconsin included), in an attempt to squelch any attempts by terrorists to enter the country and plan further attacks, advocate a push-back of Syrian refugees. I say that’s exactly what the terrorists want. They are winning the battle of fear, hands down.

Does the world need to be on high alert?

Yes, probably. Many in the U.S. are reliving the agony of 9/11 in their minds with the attacks in Paris, concerned that it will happen here again.

Do the world’s governments and military need to find a way to stop or slow down terrorism?

Definitely, yes. I don’t advocate burying our head in the sand. Our governments have to do something.

How does the rest of the world help fight terrorism and hatred?

Peace, love, and acceptance without question. There is no organization, no power, no religious fanatic or terrorist that can overcome those words. Stand strong in them. Throw away the anxiety, fear and paranoia. Do not let the terrorists, or anyone, win that war. Be the human that wins the war for the army in white hats. Yes, that sounds too easy, too simplistic, cheesy and bleeding heart-ish. But I say to you that we can win the war of Peace vs. Terrorism by asking ourselves how we contribute toward the hate that is permeating our world.

What are we doing that exacerbates ill will and prejudice toward others? Are we treating our fellow humans as we want to be treated? Are we being judgmental and unwilling to help those in need? Does our fear of the unknown create negative feelings toward others? Are our actions and spoken words that of peace and good will toward all?

I am able to admit that I haven’t always answered those questions with positive answers. At various points in my life, I’ve called people names, I’ve judged, I’ve avoided offering help to others, and I’ve been fearful of people that I viewed as “different.” I’m positive that most of us have succumbed to the messy human behavior that is the antithesis of peace. It comes from our free-thinking brains. We allow ourselves to be high-jacked by the negative views and subliminal messages of strangers, family members, the media, politicians, peers, and co-workers, and the willingness of our own human brain to either kowtow to those views or to ignore them. We don’t always fight the battle for peace because we’re afraid of the conflict, afraid to take a step forward.

Why? Why don’t we resist? How do we, as individuals, find peace?


Resistance is not futile. It is in each one of us to fight. We all have the ability to find peace in ourselves and with others. So, I ask you…

Love your neighbor, no matter what. They may not be very friendly or never pull weeds, but there’s a story behind their faces. Consider that their lives may be going through rough times and that a kind word from you could make a difference.

Be kind to all people, no matter their race, religion, sexual preference, number of tattoos or status. If you want to be treated with respect and kindness, you have to give it in return. Don’t be fearful of what you don’t know about someone. Talk to them, learn their story. Put yourself in their shoes. Educate yourself about people and cultures that are different from you and yours.

Volunteer at a soup kitchen or any organization that helps humans in need. It puts the volunteer in a place of understanding and empathy. Don’t brag about it. Just do it.

Avoid jumping on a negative or hateful bandwagon. My mother used to ask me, “If your friend jumped off a bridge, would you jump off a bridge too?” That was always in response to a whine of, “Well, so-and-so, gets to do that.” Let that question swirl around in your head the next time someone pounds their angry fist or points their accusing finger and tries to get you to join their army. Is that what you really want? Do you want to jump off a bridge with them?

Laugh. Have a positive mindset. Tell everyone you feel great and they are awesome. Encourage. Sing a happy song. Give your heart and mind a reason to feel peace.

Don’t hold a grudge. Don’t give the finger to the slow driver ahead of you. Don’t scream angrily at your children or your partner or at the guy at the service counter who is not the reason why you’re having a bad day.

I could go on, but I imagine you get the point.

So, where is peace?

Peace resides in all of us. Peace only hides, is fearful, is hateful because we let it. We encourage it. We let it fall into the hands of those who would strangle and bury it. Let it be our mission, one-by-one, to bring peace to ourselves so that we can bring true peace to the world. If we let our anger and hate grow, no one will ever sing John Lennon’s song again.

Ghandi is correct. Hate and retaliation blinds us. Peace will come out of the shadows if we nurture it, encourage it, practice it.

Practice it, my friends, and the answer will lay at your feet.

Hello Royal Subjects!

It’s your lovely Queen!

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Yes, I am lovely. The human constantly calls me “pretty girl,” but I snub my nose at that moniker.

I am not and will never be a peasant in a short dress and leather boots.

I have my dignity, you know.

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Ummmm…well, never mind.

You know, there are  times when a Queen has to let go and show belly.

To show she’s humble and one with her people.

And trap the human into a rub. (I say “trap” because it’s an excuse to have a snit when she rubs me there.)


I blame the showing of the belly on the Court Jester.

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He continues to have no shame.


Do you know what he will do for a piece of the human’s roast beef?

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Well, for goodness sake, I do believe he smells something…

The Jester will go out to the humans and vocally beg until they are beaten down (in other words, he won’t shut up).

They raise the white flag.

He eventually gets the beef.

As for my royal countenance, I don’t beg.


No really.

I only express my pleasure in receiving special treats from the humans by bleating praise upon them.

That’s not begging or shamelessness.

I have dignity, my subjects.


Victory!  Forget the sad times. This week’s photo challenge is all about revelling in a win.


There are days when the victory comes in breathing, in being alive,

having the opportunity to stand under a hot shower on a cold autumn day,

or allowing the first steaming cup of vanilla caramel coffee to warm the innards.

The victory intensifies when a typical Friday the 13th conjures a laugh

and the knowledge that the black-cat day doesn’t last forever.

Victory is in the ability to stand and type…

Nay, to stand. Upright.

Greatness comes in appreciating the victories, small and large.

In celebrating,

in being awake,

and tossing the sad times out with the dirty bath water.

Victory is yours, my own, forever in the grasp of a mind’s eye.

Blazing, sapphire blue skies.

Warmer-than-normal November days.

Crispy, crunchy fall air.

Gold and yellow and brown leaves that land upon the earth.

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The path reaches for two feet and grabs hold.

It pleads a midday walk.

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There is little resistance. The feet say “yes!”

The senses feel, hear, as the eyes shut for a moment.


Travelling geese sound their alert and jar the feet awake.

Bicyclists, joggers and fellow pedestrians pass by.

The smallish breeze whispers gently upon a woman’s face.

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The sunlight of forgotten daylight savings lowers.

The shadows are deeper, darker.

It’s time to turn around, to cross the bridge,

to welcome shorter days, cooler weather, and Christmas trees at Costco.

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Daily Post Photo Challenge: Ornate


Inside the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. (This is one of those times that I wish I had a “real” camera that took stunning photos..or I had taken the time to make adjustments to the phone’s camera settings.)

The Basilica is the largest Catholic church in the United States and North America, one of the ten largest churches in the world, and the tallest inhabitable building in Washington, D.C.

For a few extra photos from inside and outside the Basilica, click here. The main church is filled with ornate paintings and statutes at every turn; however, my inner Catholic-raised decorum and the sanctity of church held me back from snapping a plethora of pictures inside. If you love to explore churches and are ever in the D.C. area, this is a must-see. I hope to go back again, take a tour, and spend more time exploring.

Mom speaks words of wisdom and she doesn’t know it.

It’s wisdom for her daughter.

To let it be.

I’ve been reticent to write about mom for several weeks. Her dementia has been in a darker place of late, filled with anxiety and worry and sadness. It was only this past Thursday, when I paid a special visit to the woman who still clutches the ratty black sweater, that she seemed in a better place. Mom appeared more alert than she had been, she complained about the food (always a good sign), and asked if I had met a man so I could get married and have children.

Mom? I’m too old to have children.

“Oh? How old are you?”




“Did your brother get married yet?”

No mom, not yet.

“He should get married. It’s a sin to sleep together without being married. Why doesn’t he get married?”

I don’t know, mom.

This brought a chuckle to my heart as I hadn’t heard it in a while. If you’ve read prior posts about mom, this is one of our recurring conversations. It was good to see the feistiness that continues to exist somewhere inside this woman’s psyche. However, my own inner being was quietly speaking, “You can’t make it happen, mom. Let it be.”

Let it Be

Prior weeks had not brought any chuckles. I was concerned that sundowning or another UTI (she had one over her birthday week in August) was causing mom to have moments of excessive anxiety over money and being alone. She would generally call me mid to late afternoon, several times if I didn’t answer, leaving the occasional message of “Hello? Hello?” One of the aides called me one afternoon as I wasn’t able to answer mom’s call due to being involved in a project at work. She asked if I would call mom right away as she was positive someone stole money from her purse. An excessive amount of money. Mom wanted the aide to call the police. The aide was unable to calm or reassure her that nothing was taken from her purse. Mom has an occasional habit of digging in her checkbook, trying to make sense of it, pulling her checks and register out of her wallet, and then telling me that her checkbook is “a mess.” I’ve let mom keep her checkbook in her purse so that she has some semblance of independence. Whether or not she can do anything with it doesn’t matter. Having it in her hands does.

When I called mom about the so-called missing money, she was in a terrible tither, her voice wavering. She was sure that someone stole $2,000 from her wallet.

No, mom, no one stole money from you.

“Yes, they did. I had $2,000 in my wallet.”

Mom, I was there two days ago and you did not have that much cash. Your money is in checking and savings.

“Are you sure? I thought you said that’s how much money I had in my wallet.”

We continued with a very difficult conversation with me attempting to calmly explain the status of her assets and mom wanting to insist that someone went into her purse and took money out. The aide had told me that she was upset about this since the morning hours, carrying her purse with her to lunch and keeping it close by at all times. After a lengthy conversation, mom finally calmed down and accepted the word of her daughter that no crime had been committed. With subsequent visits, mom has barely made mention of the security of her purse, which has been a positive sign. I considered taking her checkbook home, where I might convince mom it’s safe, but I quickly nixed that idea. She would forget by the next day that I had taken it home and for several weeks would be calling to report her checkbook missing. I know this because it happened with her savings book. I took it home with me for ease in some of her banking processes, but mom called for weeks to tell me she could not find the book. The fact that I have her savings book has either finally cemented itself under the gray hairs or she has completely forgotten its existence as she very rarely speaks of it.

So, with respect to the sanity of said daughter, the checkbook stays. I say, let it be.

Another type of phone call has occurred the last three weeks. A little something to instill feelings of guilt and break my heart.


Yes, mom.

“When are you coming to visit? You haven’t been here in a very long time. I’m LONELY.” *she said with a quiver*

I’ll be there this coming weekend.

“What’s today?”

It’s Monday.

“How many days until you are here.”

A few mom (I was avoiding an exact number). I have to work this week and then I will be there.

“That’s a long time. I’m lonely. I have no one to talk to.”

Bad daughter had been on vacation and the last two visits had only been long enough to take care of financial business, deliver a few items of necessity, and have a 30 minute conversation. I have worked on not feeling guilty about the length of visits when the rest of life is full, but that conversation had me in tears. Thankfully, I was able to stop on Thursday, on my way home from yet another computer training session. Mom had a visitor and I found a smile. I’ve had many pangs of guilt over the years of taking care of mom and dad – Am I doing enough? Should I call more? Should I visit more? – but I have slowly learned that it’s important to let it go, let it be. It’s simply that mom’s emotional, quivering voice is difficult to overcome. I feel sadness for her, for her situation. I want to fix it. And that’s the worst part. There is no fix. I’ve said this before…if I could only give her vision, hearing, or a sound mind. One of those three, although I would lean toward the sound mind. On a recent visit, in between vacation trips, mom didn’t remember Evan, her husband. (The aides at assisted living relay that she’s been calling for her husband and asking his whereabouts. One aide said she tries to choose her words carefully when telling mom that Evan passed away over three years ago.)

Mom bore confusion when I changed the subject matter and began to talk of her mother.

Your mother was a good cook.

Mom stared, unknowing.

Do you remember your mother? She was an excellent German cook. Do you remember the dishes she used to make?

A spark of memory appeared. “Yes, she made goulash.”

And weiner schnitzel. Do you remember?

Another blank stare. And then…

“Are any of my brothers or sisters here?”

No, they have all passed away.

“Aren’t you my sister?”

I’m your daughter, Mary.

“Oh…I thought your name was Josephine (the legal name of her sister, Jeanne).”

I didn’t say anything. Let it be, Mary.

Another lesson from mom – there are times when dementia’s truth is the truth. One cannot argue it or deny it. It is bold and unwavering and will wag its finger at you. It beckons me to hold reality from or lie to my own mother in order to squelch confusion, anxiety and worry. At some point, I want to nod my head and say, “Yes, it’s Josephine, I’m here. Yes, your son finally got married. Yes, I found a man and I’m pregnant.”

Perhaps not that last sentence, but you understand, right?

Mom does speak words of wisdom to me in our interactions and in her emotional anxiety. Wisdom in how to have patience and converse with someone who doesn’t remember yesterday; how to look at the elderly and those with dementia and Alzheimer’s with understanding and empathy; to nod agreement with a woman who denies a red sweater that she’s had for many years; wisdom in how to be unconcerned when someone clings to something that you would have thrown away long ago; to give grace to someone who can’t stop complaining about crappy food; to never give up what you love…to taste it until the last drop; to have persistence and keep fighting, fighting, fighting. And when there is nothing you can do, nothing that can change what today is about, to let it be.

“Where will I live when I die?” That was mom’s question to me today, during our visit. She was talkative and fairly alert, that being one of her seriously-delivered questions.

What do you mean, mom?

“You know, where will I live? What city?”

In Oshkosh, right next to Evan.

“Oh, where does your brother live?”

In Virginia.

“Why doesn’t he live closer?”

Because he works there.

“When is he getting married? What is he waiting for?”

*long pause*

Did I tell you that I went dancing Friday night?

Some things I have to let be.

Postscript: Mom has been doing much better. The aides tell me she’s keeping the door to her room open, sitting at the lunch table longer, and has had periods of greater independence. The brandy manhattans are a little less regular and she’s switched from sweets to salty snacks. (She needs to lose weight, you know.) I haven’t had an anxiety-ridden phone call in over a week and it appears that mom is in a calmer place. I hope and pray it stays that way for a while.

Wednesday afternoon will be a tough one for Gibbs and Ziva.

Their annual trip to the vet begins around 3:30 pm, dependent on the human’s agile ability to get them into their pet carrier.

During this trip, the two will sing the song of their people and stress over the odor of unknown feline and dog butt. The authorities will poke, probe, and weigh the chubby Queen and her svelte court jester. Both will bear the humility of a needle shoved into their skin. They will cry an aria from Pagliacci, shed excessive hair, and refuse to get back into their carrier for fear of the painful ride home in the four-wheel contraption.

On that note, a reading from the sad cat diary is in order…

Funny, the diary didn’t mention anything about a trip to the vet, but I have a feeling someone is going to puke three times upon their arrival home.

I will make Gibbs and Ziva attempt a purr by petting them with two hands.

And ensure them that the nice authorities will negate their sadness with a treat and promise of a better tomorrow.

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This week, show us something careful — a photo taken with care, a person being careful, or a task or detail requiring care.

During a climb up Craptree Falls in Nelson County, Virginia, careful was constantly on my mind. Careful of the tree roots, careful of the mud, careful you don’t miss a step, careful of the rocks. I spent most of the time looking down as I was walking, only looking up when I could stand still and feel two feet firmly planted.

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“One day, we will have a world where a chicken can cross the road without being questioned about his or her motives.”


Chicken Lion

Or cross the road without being chased by a black-and-orange striped beast.

In case you are wondering where I’ve been…

I’ve been running with the chicken.

Penance for vacation.

I’ll write as soon as I make it to the coop.

If I make it to the coop.

I’m fixing to leave again. After two days of “catching up” after the Washington DC trip, the bags are packed for a long weekend in Door County and fall festival. It will be the last days of vacation, the ones that I need to savor. They will go fast.

Before I leave, though, I wanted to give you the Reader’s Digest version of the past week…where I’ve been, what I’ve done, the miles I’ve walked…through words and photographs that I’m too lazy to clean up in any way.

Day 1:  I passed up the opportunity to buy Christmas presents for Joanne and M-R and a freakin’ journal for myself.

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Instead, I chose to spend money on the metro, a visit to the largest Catholic Church in the U.S., and dinner at a brew pub with a friend.

These are photos of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

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Norm and Dan would have had a “field day” with the doors. The main entrance was gorgeous (click on the photo for an enlarged view). This church is connected to the Catholic University and is a site where Pope Francis held mass during his recent visit to Washington. I stayed for the 5:15 mass (mom would be proud) and then unashamedly headed to the brew pub for eats and a golden refreshment.

Day 2: Since my brother, the girlfriend and I were leaving later in the day for a Nelson County weekend, I went for one of many walks to the Y and a workout. During the walk back, I stopped at the local farm-to-table diner and had the BEST huevos rancheros ever. I wanted to lick the plate.

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Then I took a nap.

Later, after packing a small suitcase, the three of us headed to Nelson County, arriving at our B&B a bit late. No matter, the gracious hosts were well-known to brother and girlfriend and had our rooms ready and waiting.

Day 3 & 4: Cider, three-mile climb, Thai food, beer, gracious hosts, Montpelier.

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Nelson County, Virginia, specifically Hwy 151, is known for its cideries, breweries and wineries. I was treated to a flight of fabulous cider at Bold Rock. This is a very cool place and I could have sat in front of the fire place all day with a good book and a glass or two or three of cider. Delicious and inviting.

The next part of this day was a climb up Crabtree Falls on a trail that often looked like this:

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I looked at my feet most often when I was climbing up and back down the trail. One needs to look where they are stepping on this trail, although it didn’t seem to be an issue for the many children, dogs and senior citizens that I passed. The views on the way up and at the top were beautiful and breath-taking.

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Our hosts at the Acorn Inn suggested a Thai restaurant to replenish calories spent on our hike. The only caveat: The Thai owner can be a bit crabby.

She was.

But the food was so splendid and our constant exclamation of “This is wonderful! Excellent!” turned the crabbiness into a smiling, talkative woman who suddenly felt a need to tell us her life story. She’s hysterically funny when she gets going.

Saturday night, brother took us to Devil’s Backbone Brewery. Another nice place, but it was packed to the rim. In the field next door, a bluegrass music festival was being held the entire weekend. We could have sat outside (if it had been warmer) and listened without purchasing a ticket. The crowd was a bit much so we left after one beer.

The next morning, after breakfast, I took a photo of our weekend abode.

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The hosts are an artist/photographer and her Holland-born husband who loves to ride his bicycle on the Blue Ridge Parkway and in different countries. He’s headed to South America next, with his wife as his support on four wheels.

We were given a tour of “the barn,” where the bicyclist keeps his tools, she has her studio, and there is additional space for guests. The entire complex consists of the main house, an inn, a cottage and the barn. This is a European B&B…not overly fancy, but the hosts make everyone feel very welcome. I would go back in a heartbeat.

We said our goodbyes late on Sunday morning and headed to Blue Mountain brewery for lunch and bourbon barrel pumpkin beer. I was the only one to bite on the latter. I don’t usually like pumpkin beer, but this stuff was delicious. It kept me busy while we waited for our table and an Oktoberfest menu.

Yes, Heather, they were having Oktoberfest in October. Not on the same level as the one in Appleton, but it was in the appropriate month.

I also met fellow Packer fan, Jamie, from New Jersey. He was chasing his grandson, who was decked out with Packer apparel. Jamie is teaching his grandson well.

The last stop of our weekend was James Madison’s Montpelier.

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We were in the second-to-last tour group of the day, so had little time to explore afterwards. The grounds are beautiful with a huge green lawn in front and a garden and trail through a very old grove of trees behind the house. The story of James Madison, his family, his wife, and the house is very interesting. I won’t bore you with a history lesson (because you can look that up on Wikipedia), but it’s worth the trip and price of admission.

Day 5 & 6: If you saw the previous Wordless Wednesday post, you know that I visited the Holocaust Museum on Monday. I didn’t take many pictures as I felt it somehow disrespectful to the victims. It’s sobering and chilling.

Monday evening ended after an outdoor German barbeque (compliments of the German deli) with the girlfriend’s family and my brother and I. No pictures, it was dark by 7 pm and I was too busy feeding my face and having a conversation with a few Pittsburgh Steeler fans.

Packers rule, by the way.

Tuesday morning, I said goodbye to brother’s girlfriend, who put me up the entire time I was in Washington. I also said goodbye to her dog, Odin, a Norwegian Elkhound. He’s a good dog, albeit a bit shameless when he wants belly rubs.

The Washington Monument bid me adieu as the plane lifted above the clouds.

That’s it. The end of the Washington, D.C., vacation. It was a good one and went by too fast. Isn’t that the way it always goes?

PS: I know this is not exactly a Reader’s Digest streamlined post. My apologies, I take after my dad when I tell stories.

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From the Holocaust Museum, Washington, D.C.