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Archive for the ‘Dogs’ Category

Blue-footed boobies like to show off their brightly colored feet. And they do so in a Hokey-Pokey kind of way. I got to dance with one. — Wikimedia photo

If I listed all the things I still want to do in life, I would have to reach the ripe old age of 699 – at least. Besides, I’m not sure I would want to do that. My wrinkles already have wrinkles, and knowing that I only have limited time left on this planet energizes me.

I’m thankful that I’ve crossed off quite a few priority items on my bucket list, like taking an African Safari, rafting the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon, sky diving, getting a tattoo, exploring this country in an RV with only a canine companion and meeting Maya Angelou.

Well, actually meeting Maya was never on my Bucket List. It just happened because I was at the right place at the right time – a reporter in a city Maya visited.

The truth is many of the best things in my life have not been on any bucket list. I treasure the time I danced with a blue-footed booby in the Galapagos. I was hiking with an Audubon group and was alone in the lead when I came across the dancing booby. I knew I was invited to join him by the look in his eyes.

Now how do you put something like that on a bucket list?

Realistically, I know I’m not going to see or do most of the remaining things on my bucket list – like revisiting the calm serenity of Lake Moraine in Canada.

Instead of whining about it, or perhaps after whining about it I should say, I’ve started a non-bucket list of simple joys, like sitting with a friend on my third-floor balcony and watching Tucson’s spectacular sunset.

If I look hard enough, I can find something that would never make a bucket list quite often.

I’ve always wanted a canine companion, but how could I know that I would get the one dog I needed to bring balance to my life.

The whimsies of nature are also surprising and delightful. One of my best moments was watching an osprey catch a fish only to have it snatched by a bald eagle. Now who would have thought to put that on a bucket list?

Yup. I think I’m retiring the bucket list for the non-bucket list, which is more doable for old broads like me.

Pat Bean is a retired award-winning journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, enthusiastic birder, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon (Free on Kindle Unlimited), and is always searching for life’s silver lining.

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   Joy is watching cacti flowers bloom in the Sonoran Desert. – Photo by Pat Bean

  A few years back I started listing things that bring me joy, then the list got put away and forgotten. I came across the notes this morning, however, and thought I would share some of the things I wrote down back then.

 Joy is getting up in the morning and putting on Helen Reddy’s I am Woman, Hear Me Roar, and loudly and off key, singing along with her. It gives my day an extra boost.  

Joy is watching a sunset from my third-floor balcony window as it goes from a pale glimmer into an explosion of oranges, reds and purples. It’s also watching a sunrise out my back window while still in bed. It’s a paler version of the evening show, starting with a golden glow that then turns the sky briefly pink.  

Joy is books and magazines that take me to faraway places, engage my brain and teach me something new every day.

Joy is having a 14-year-old grandson cheerfully carry a large load of groceries up to my third-floor apartment, then baking his favorite lemon cupcakes for him in return. That was seven years ago. Today I have my groceries delivered, so Joy is the smiling delivery person because I tip adequately.  

Joy is my Spirit Players group that reads a play once a month, such as Alice in Wonderland in which I got to read the part of the White Rabbit. Just for the record, joy is not Covid, which halted this and several other activities in my life.

Joy is a hot bath in a deep tub hot enough to turn the skin pink and send warmth and ease all the way down to my bones

Joy is solving and fixing a computer glitch all by myself — after an unsuccessful hour on the phone with a computer expert.

Joy is watching a sliver of moon shining down like the Cheshire Cat on me and my canine companion as we take our O-dark-hundred first walk of the day.

Joy is sitting in a rocking chair or on a couch and holding one of my recently-born great-grandchildren. I’ve gotten to do this with six of my seven. Dang covid kept me away from the last, who lives in Florida.

And finally, Joy is the sights and sounds of nature that even an old broad can enjoy without going far from home. Joy is all around. We just have to look.

May you all have a joyful day.

Pat Bean is a retired award-winning journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, enthusiastic birder, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon (Free on Kindle Unlimited), and is always searching for life’s silver lining.

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Now who in their right mind wants to be found when they are exploring this beautiful country we live in. Photo of my parked RV taken by me while exploring the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area in 2010 with my canine companion Maggie.

Or Else Its User is Dumb

I missed two zoom meetings recently, and didn’t notice I hadn’t received my normal 2 p.m. phone call from a son until about 6 p.m. – which had him calling my granddaughter to make sure I was OK.  And this is not the first occasion that I’ve let time run away from me.

My phone, which I also use as an alarm clock to remind me of things like zoom meetings, and when to take my clothes out of the washer and put them into the dryer, and for timing my writing, was out of order. But I didn’t discover that until I tried to call my son. Instead of ringing through, a message came up saying the device had no Sim card, and then said I should update the phone and reboot it. I did, and I, miraculously, had phone service again.

This is the second time in a month it’s done this to me. Did I mention that I actually hate smart phones. They’re not so smart, or else they have a dummy for a user. I’ll let you decide which.

I used a simple flip phone almost forever. I even went back to one when I retired from the traveling life. My son had bought me a smart phone when I was traveling because he wanted to know where I was at all times. I’m blessed that he loves me, but when you spend most of your life coming and going as one pleases, being tracked takes some getting used to. It also irks me that my children suddenly think I’m old and can’t take care of myself.

Meanwhile, what everyone else is doing on their phones today, I continue to do on my computer. The screen is larger and easier on old eyes, and I know how to use it, something I can never get the hang of with smart phones.

My children jumped at getting cell phones when they first came out, even when they were as large as breadboxes. I didn’t get my first cell phone until my work finally demanded it, and paid for it.

 Maybe I that’s why I kind of think of cell phones like a kind of ball and chain. I didn’t always want to be found. 

I don’t carry one in my pocket when I walk my dog, which my son says I should do. And I often forget to take it with me when I run errands. I’m trying to change that because I realized that if my car broke down, I haven’t memorized any phone numbers but my own — because they’re all stored in the $#&*@ smart phone.

Pat Bean is a retired award-winning journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, enthusiastic birder, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon (Free on Kindle Unlimited), and is always searching for life’s silver lining.

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Living Alone, Well Almost

Scamp on my bed waiting for me to get dressed to take him on his morning walk.

Does a Dog Count?

The number of people living alone is increasing, up noticeably since 1990, I recently read.

 Not surprising to me, as it’s how many of my friends live. I’ve now spent exactly half of my 82 years living alone. And I love it. While I have married friends who are quite happy sharing living quarters, I also have married friends who envy my lifestyle.

Looking back, I now think I’ve aways wanted to live alone. It’s amazing what you discover about yourself as you grow older, like why I sabotaged my own search for a true soul mate after I divorced the man I had married when I was just 16. He certainly hadn’t been that soul mate my heart so desired.

But wanting to live alone doesn’t mean that I don’t want people in my life. As Barbara Streisand said, and I believe: “People who need people are the luckiest people in the world.”

Perhaps it’s selfish, but I want to eat when I want to eat, go to bed when I want too, whether it’s 7 p.m. or 2 a.m., and be alone when I want to be alone.

One realization that I’ve always felt this way came to me when I realized that in my visualization of a lifetime dream of traveling this country full-time – which I did for nine years in a small RV – no other person was ever with me.

Well, I did have Maggie during my travels. And now I have Scamp as a canine companion. Maybe technically, I don’t live alone. And while I can go to bed anytime I want, Scamp demands that I wake up with the sun to take him for a walk.

Instead of being grumpy about this, I realize he’s my balance to a better life. I need to get up, and I need to keep moving.  

The truth is, each of us, has to find what works for themselves. There’s no one right way.  I feel blessed because I have found what works for me.

Pat Bean is a retired award-winning journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, enthusiastic birder, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon (Free on Kindle Unlimited), and is always searching for life’s silver lining.

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Happy holidays to all.

          It’s that time of year again. The time when I start thinking about resolutions for the New Year – even though I’ll probably break them before the first week of January has passed.

          The past two years, 2020 and 2021, haven’t been particularly great years for me because of Covid, but then that’s true for just about everybody. And being retired, 82 and with a small but adequate fixed income, I’ve fared far better than most. So, I’ll quit my whining and look for the silver linings.

          That’s harder this morning because the virus reared its ugly head and stared me straight in the face. My granddaughter and I had planned a road trip to Whitewater Draw two hours outside of Tucson to watch sandhill cranes. That was canceled because my granddaughter was with a friend who had been exposed to the virus. Since she loves me, she canceled our outing.

          Sh-ee-t! (I was raised in the South so this is how my favorite consternation word comes out sounding) I’ll be eating the picnic lunch that I had already prepared for the trip by myself today. Of course, there’s a silver lining with that. I won’t have to cook.

          Meanwhile, I love my own company and sharing that solitude with my canine companion Scamp – so I never feel lonely. That’s two more silver linings right there.

          But as a mother and working woman who once never had a moment to spare, I have now become the sole CEO of my own life. And while at my age, one has learned to let a lot of things go, I still want to make my days meaningful. Time, which passes so silently – and quickly – is very precious to me.

          That’s why I’ll be spending the next few days making a list of my New Year’s resolutions. I want to write more, learn more and be more. But I especially want to spread a message of kindness, which I believe the world is sadly in need of these days.

          Will you help?

          Pat Bean is a retired award-winning journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, enthusiastic birder, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon (Free on Kindle Unlimited), and is always searching for life’s silver lining.

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I can’t count the number of Lassie books, movies and TV programs that have left me in tears. How many of you young oldsters remember this photo? And who the young boy is? And did you know that Lassie was usually portrayed by a male dog.

A Good Old Girls’ Club in the Making

I haven’t seen a movie or television show that has left me crying in at least a couple of years. Now, you should know, when I make this statement, that I have cried a water tank full of tears over the years, beginning with books like Lassie, Where the Red Fern Grows, and Black Beauty to a couple of Marvel movies.

Surprise of all surprises, the crying jag was restarted with Wednesday’s night’s episode of The Challenge All Stars, Season 2.

Now I know that people consider this peace-loving 82-year-old a bit strange — for someone who doesn’t like conflict, nastiness and mean people – because I’m a fan of both Survivor and The Challenge, whose weekly episodes usually display all of these traits.

I excuse myself because the participants are all playing a game, like Poker, in which dirty tricks, lying and outwitting your competitors are all allowed –Actual hitting gets you expelled from the game. I love the outdoor adventures and competitions. And amazingly, I also find memorable minutes of good sportsmanship and of finding some good in even the meanest people.

I’ve watched every episode, so far, of Survivor. I came late to The Challenge, but have watched as many episodes as have been screened.

So, what, you might ask, made me cry in The Challenge. It came at the end of a combined puzzle and weight-pulling competition, where one of the two female competitors simply wasn’t strong enough to do the weight-pulling, The other woman, by the way, outdid even the two men who competed in the same competition earlier, which, of course, thrilled me.

When the female winner finished, she went over to her competitor, and said “Come on, we’ve got this.” She then helped her pull her weight to the finish line so the woman could finish strong. It was one of the best female support actions I’ve ever seen. Even some of the bystander competitors even had tears in their eyes. (Just to note, I have seen men support their losing competitors in similar ways many times.)

But both these two women are mothers – and not so young anymore. The All-Stars episodes brought back players from 15 or more years ago. I found it very inspiring to see women staying active and supportive of their gender. Perhaps it’s the start of a good old girls’ club to compete with the good old boys’ clubs that have been going strong for way too long.

Pat Bean is a retired award-winning journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, enthusiastic birder, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon (Free on Kindle Unlimited), and is always searching for life’s silver lining.

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Scamp, all zonked out after a round of ball chasing

Like Dorothy Martin’s cats – I’m currently reading her take on life in the cozy mystery Trouble in Town Hall – my canine companion Scamp makes sure I lead a balanced life. I thought about that this morning as we took our 6 a.m. walk around my apartment complex.

Scamp is an almost three-year-old Siberian Husky/Shih Tzu mix who is finally learning my only speed these days is slow. I make up for it by extra walks and lots of soft-ball throwing down my hall, lasting until he gives out and doesn’t retrieve the ball.

Scamp’s the most social dog I’ve ever owned, and a handsome fellow who charms almost everyone he meets here in my large apartment complex. Most of them stop to say hello and give him an ear scratch, which makes his day. Some even carry treats especially for him.

Because of Scamp, I’ve come to know a lot of people I wouldn’t have otherwise.

 I also have to get up and get dressed to walk him every day, whether I feel like it or not. By the time we get back from our walk, I’m ready to face the day.

If I didn’t have Scamp, I would probably sleep in and stay in my pajamas all day. Sounds lovely, but I think taking a walk, enjoying the birds and flowers, and smiling at my neighbors is much healthier for this old broad.

Later, when Scamp curls up in my large recliner beside me while I read, the human need for touch is fulfilled. They say petting a dog or cat reduces blood pressure, and since I’ve had to take high-blood pressure pills for 40 years now, this has to be a good thing.

My vocal cords also get daily exercise because I talk to Scamp. And he never disagrees. He simply tilts his head and gives me a questioning look, as if to say: Oh. I understand.

And sometimes I read out loud to him – like Qwillian does with Koko in Lillian Jackson Braun’s Cat Who books.

Come to think of it, a lot of fictional characters have pets that make their lives better: like Tank, in Tinker Lindsay and Gay Hendricks’ Tenzing Norbu’s murder mystery series; or Nick and Nora Charles’ dog Asta in Dashiell Hammet’s Thin Man novel; or Little Orphan Annie’s dog Sandy.

I guess you could day Scamp and I are in good company.

Pat Bean is a retired award-winning journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, enthusiastic birder, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon (Free on Kindle Unlimited), and is always searching for life’s silver lining.

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An Alexander Kind of Day

It may look like a dark day, but the sun is out there somewhere. — Photo by Pat Bean

I cried as a kid because other kids made fun of me, because I didn’t have a boyfriend, because I foolishly married the first one, because my kids were sick or had been hurt, because after the divorce I couldn’t find my true soul mate, at Lassie movies, because my teenagers had minds of their own, because I made a mistake at work and got yelled at.

I really could go on and on.

But then my kids grew up, I had great friends, and I realized I was my own soul mate and a dog was much easier to live with than a man, even if I liked or even loved him.

I came to appreciate not having to listen to music or TV programs I didn’t like, of being able to get up on a weekend morning and go exploring only where I wanted to go, to eat cold fried chicken or listen to audible in bed at 2 a.m. without earplugs, to not have to cook if I weren’t hungry, to not having to share a bathroom, and simply to enjoy having some solitude.

Suddenly there were no more tears, well except at sad movies — but those tears dry out before the movie’s credits end.

While I don’t miss the reasons for my other tears, I realized this week that I do miss the feeling of release that flows through the body after a crying jag ends.

That’s because I experienced one. Like Alexander, I had A Horrible, Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. And I cried about it.

But, as Annie predicted, the sun came up the next day.

Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, enthusiastic birder, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon (Free on Kindle Unlimited), and is always searching for life’s silver lining.

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Scamp: What do you mean that I snore?

          There is something warm and comforting about having a warm body lying next to you that makes sleep come easy and feel safer. But it’s been some time since I’ve had a regular human bed companion – which is probably why my dogs are allowed on the bed.

          I’ve been a single, happy, free spirit now for over 30 years, so given that dogs’ lives are shorter than humans, I’ve slept with four dogs. The first after my divorce was Peaches. She was a golden Cocker Spaniel and five years old when I got her. We bonded on sight. She was my protector and enthusiastic hiking companion – and would have given her life for me.

She would always go to sleep at the foot of my bed, but would creep slowly up toward its head. I would awake with her nose just inches from my face, her eyes telling me she needed to go outside. .

 Maggie, a black Cocker Spaniel with a mischievous bent, came to me after a year of being abused. At first. she was afraid of almost everything. It was a full year before she felt safe. But then, she decided she was queen of the castle and it was my duty to give my live for hers.

 I loved her very much, and she and I spent the last eight years of her life traveling the country together in a small RV.*

She, however, was the least satisfactory of my bed companions. She would always curl up next to me when I went to bed, but if I were restless during the night, and I usually was, she would huff that she was going to go sleep on the couch. And so she would.  

Pepper came next, a black Scottie-mix, whom I got when she was only four-months old. I hadn’t wanted a puppy because of all the work I knew puppies required. I thought about that when I saw her barking and running around in an animal shelter yard. Nope, not for me.

She had other ideas.

I was sitting on a bench when she saw me. She ran over, jumped up on my lap, locked my blue eyes with her shining chocolate ones, and emphatically communicated that she was going home with me. And so she did, but she also zapped my fears about puppies right out the window.

Pepper already knew her potty was outdoors, and understood the meaning of the word “No!”  Unlike Maggie, she loved pleasing me and was the perfect sleeping companion. She would curl up next to me, forming her body to my shape, reforming it again and again, without complaint, each time I changed positions.

Her only fault was that she fooled me into thinking I could adopt an eight-month-old, 18-pound Schnauzer-mix – or so the shelter personnel, who also erroneously listed him as female, said.

I don’t know if he had a gender change or what, but he was clearly an unneutered male, and as rambunctious as a teenage boy when I brought him home.

I named him Scamp, which fits him perfectly. I had him neutered and house trained – never once did he hit a puppy pad that I had carpeted my floor with – within a hard month. But he’s still a big adventurous wild one. His saving grace is that he is friendly and loveable.

When he kept growing, my daughter had his DNA tested and it turned out that he is 50 percent Siberian Husky and 37 percent Shih Tzu with not a single gene of Schnauzer.  He is now almost three years old, and weighs 40 pounds. He’s also a cuddler and thinks he is a lap dog.

Scamp sleeps beside me on top of the covers at night, a warm presence that comforts my body. The first glimmer of dawn — be it 5 a.m. in the summer or 7 a.m. in the winter here in Tucson — is his alarm clock.

If I’m not stirring when the light creeps into the room, he begins a low moaning. Then begins a routine of kisses and hugs and scratches before he finally convinces me to get out of bed and take him for his morning walk.

Thankfully I’m a morning person. And thankfully I don’t have to sleep alone.

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Cat No. 3: The Covid Cat

          I moderate a writer’s chat group called Writer2Writer for Story Circle Network, an international writing support group for women. Each Wednesday, I provide a writer’s prompt.

          This week, wanting to inject a little silliness into the life of writers, who like all of us are living on Covid time, I asked them to have a conversation with an animal who could respond with words instead of just a nodding of the head.

          Below is what my oldest daughter, Deborah, who is a member of W2W, wrote. I laughed all the way through. So, to give a bit of time to dog lovers to go along with my promised 30 artful cats, I decided to share it. I hope reading it brings a smile to your face.

Nightcap with Whiskey and Kahlua

By Deborah Bean

Welcome to the world of a new senior citizen (me) and my two lovable dogs. Whiskey weighs in at 25 pounds and is a Schnauzer/Cocker Spaniel mix — a Schnocker that you have to imagine with a Scottish accent. Ten-pound Kahlua is an energetic, sometimes frenzied Jack Russell/Chihuahua mix – a JackChi. Ironically, re names, I’m a teetotaler.  

Me: (Nighttime, Take 395) Okay, Whiskey, bedtime.

Kahlua: (Scampers downstairs) I’m going, I’m going, I’m going.

Me: Whiskey, come on.

Whiskey: (Opening one eye) Harrrrumph. (Then he closes that eye)

Me: Whiskey, it’s time for bed.

Whiskey: Your bed be much morrrre comfortable. Just leave me be.

Me: Whiskey! Time for bed!

Kahlua: (Scampering back upstairs and starting to bark) Hey it’s bedtime. Time to go pee and then I get a treat! I like treats. Treats are good.

Whiskey: I be in a bed, ye frrrenzied Kahlueless. And it be comforrrtable. And Mistress, if ye please, get idget down tharrre to be quiet.

Me: Whiskey, it’s bedtime. Coooome ooon. (Grabbing his hind legs and pulling slowly, I work his body off the edge of the bed)

Whiskey: (Still not getting up) Hey! What be you doing? And keep yerrr bloody hands offin me prrrivates! (I gently slide him off the bed so his hind feet touch down before I pull him all the way off) And how, the now, did I get down herrre. Ye bloody well tricked me, ye wench.

Kahlua: (Racingdownstairs and back up a second time) C’mon, c’mon, c’mon! Time to go outside – then I get a treat! Treats are good. Don’t you want a treat Whiskey? And we’ve got a comfortable crate with pillows and blankies.

Me: Alright. Downstairs now.

Whiskey: I be strrrrretching. And yawning. And be ye sure ye don’t want me back in that tharrrre comfortable bed. I’d be keeping you warm all night.

Kahlua: (Racing up and down the stairs a third time) Time to go pee. I’m a good puppy. I know what to do.  Go outside, go pee, get my treat, and then off to bed in our crate.

Me: Whiskey, let’s go. It’s bedtime. Come on.

 Whiskey: (Grumbling all the way down to the kitchen door) And it’s a crrruel human ye be. Forcin’ me out of me comforrrtable spot. And now you sends me out into the darrrk to be a’peein.

Kahlua: (After making several circuits of the yard before stopping to go potty) I’m done. See, I went potty. I’m a good puppy. You love me because I know what to do. I’m loved, I’m loved. (Then races up the stairs to see the husband, barking all the way. He sends her back down as Whiskey saunters in from the yard. Kahlua is panting)

Me: Okay, into the crate, both of you.

Whiskey: (Giving me the evil eye, again) And, I be askin’, what will ye be givin’ me? Kahlueless over there may be willin’ but she be titched in the head.

Me: Of course. Here’s your treat. Now into the crate.

Kahlua: I got a treat. Treats are good. Now I’m in the crate. I’m a good puppy!

Whiskey: I’ll not be likin’ this a bit, but since thare be a treat, so shall it be.

Me: (Sighs) Why do I put up with this? It’s a good thing you’re such a snuggle bunny.

Whiskey: Hey! Who ye be besmirchin’ wit’ your bunny talk? It’s a fierce fighter I be — at least five minutes of the day. Hmph!

Me: Night puppies. Love you. See you in the morning.

Whiskey: Hmph! Well, at least there be comforrrtable blankets. Scootch over ye idget. Give me space.

Kahlua: (Snuggles between Whiskey’s legs) I did good! I said goodnight, peed, and went to bed with a treat. I’m a good puppy!

Whiskey: Quiet little beastie. I be tryin’ to sleep here.

          Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, enthusiastic birder, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon, and is always searching for life’s silver lining.

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