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Monday, December 5, 2011

Dec 3 Hike at White Lake Natural Resource Area

Before our outdoor club committee meeting this weekend, we hiked around White Lake Natural Resource Area in Blairstown, NJ, about 15 miles from the Delaware Water Gap.  It was a beautiful day, cold enough to pep us up but not freezing.

Here's one photo, showing the lake at sunset:

You can see more photos of the hike on our Flickr page at

Sunday, November 27, 2011

So How Was Our Thanksgiving?

Inquiring minds want to know!

It was an extended celebration full of family and relaxing fun.  On Tuesday, David drove down to Falls Church, VA, with a whole car full of Thanksgiving dinner makings, overnight bags, and such.  He arrived that afternoon and had a chance to babysit little William Haoren while Weina went to a doctor's appointment.

Kathy came along by train after work, arriving around 7:30 pm.  We had a nice dinner with Weina and Matt.  Kathy pulled the short straw for Tuesday night, so she pulled the midnight shift to feed little William and give Weina a chance to get some much-needed sleep.

On Wednesday, Kathy and I took Bubu for a walk over to the Eden Center, a shopping center next door with lots of Vietnamese shops, and got our usual Vietnamese coffees, then strolled back to Oakwood where the kids live.  That day, we all focused on giving William lots of stimulation.  Kathy took Weina grocery shopping while David babysat, then David drove Weina to do some other shopping while Kathy babysat.  Matt had to work all day.  Here's William enjoying a little tummy time:

Wednesday night we enjoyed a quiet dinner at Matt and Weina's apartment.  We rented our own apartment on a lower floor in their building so that whichever of us wasn't pulling "baby duty" could sleep in comfort, but most of our waking time was spent at M&W's.

Thanksgiving was a very sunny day.  David had pulled baby duty that previous night, so Kathy was able to get up early and put our 22 lb. (!) turkey into our oven to start baking it for the party later that afternoon.  The turkey came out of the oven -- a beauty! --

-- and we all took our dishes over to the party.  Matt prepared a cornbread dressing (YUM!).  Kathy's favorite dish at the party was the pumpkin orange cheesecake with caramel pecan sauce (she stole David's favorite), and David's was Matt's cornbread stuffing. Over 75 people from Matt's agency showed up at the commons room at their apartment complex, and all brought potluck contributions.  There was far too much to eat:  we had FOUR turkeys and one of them didn't even get carved.  We sat at a table with a friend of Matt's named Charlie, his girlfriend from MIT, and Charlie's mom.  Charlie is going to a pretty remote country and is spending his time between now and his leave-taking learning an exotic language - similar to Matt's current training in a world language.  William enjoyed the party by sleeping through all the uproar and generally taking in stride all the admiring comments.  We're not sure how many kids attended, but it looked like maybe 15-20 kids.

Friday dawned early as usual with William wide awake at 6:30 (as usual) and all of us convening at 7:00 am for breakfast.  Matt had to work.  Kathy had nighttime baby duty the previous night.  After our daily trip for Vietnamese coffee, Kathy and David prepared for Kathy's brother Steve, his wife Lea Ann, and their 5-year-old Ryan to visit for a Mexican birthday lunch for Kathy in our apartment.    Ryan loves Bubu and spent the whole visit chasing Bubu around the apartment.  The feeling was NOT mutual.  However, after a little lunch (here's an action shot) --

-- David took Ryan and Bubu our on a long walk to a park and rails-to-trails path near M&W's apartment complex.  Both Ryan and Bubu did great, and Ryan held the leash the whole way!  We found a small stream and Ryan succeeded in throwing at least 15 stones into and across the creek without getting his new shoes soaked.  Matt got home from work in time to see Ryan & parents.

We all went baby shopping for William, after which Weina & Matt took us out for Kathy's birthday dinner, and we went to her favorite Falls Church area restaurant, Tommy Thai.  The food is very tasty.  Weina had to feed William just as we arrived, but little William gave her peace and we had a wonderful, quiet dinner.  The waitress overheard Kathy mentioning her birthday and brought out a surprise birthday cake for Kathy!

David pulled nightly baby duty Friday night.  Saturday, we all enjoyed a quiet day at home with Matt & Weina.  David took them shopping.  Before dinner, Matt, Kathy and David went to buy some beer at an AMAZING beer deli in Falls Church and picked up some scrumptious peanut butter ice cream.  Since Weina stayed home with William, she got hers with a waffle cone and I'm sure enjoyed eating it in front of the rest of us after we had finished ours.

That evening, Katie joined us by Skype and had a chance to coo at her little nephew.  Maggie was on the video call too, so all of us had a chance to completely confuse Maggie about where those voices, calling her name, were coming from.

Katie had had a nice Thanksgiving at home with roommates and friends.  She roasted a superb turkey:

-- and, given the scrumptious onion soup Katie made for us when we visited her earlier in November, we really wished we'd had a chance to sample that turkey too.

Today is Sunday.  We all got up early (Kathy handled nightly feeding) and started the day with tomatoes and scrambled eggs (Matt cooked).  Weina & Matt had a brunch scheduled with Charlie and his girlfriend (see above), and we wanted to beat the holiday traffic, so we left early.  Even as long as it was, it was all too short a visit.  We picked a route home that avoided all the congestion on US 95, driving up through Gettysburg instead.  Now we're at home, we've finished our chores and are just hanging out, enjoying a little of the beer we bought in Falls Church, and watching a little football.  Go Eagles!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Re: Tummy Time

What a beautiful boy he is!  :-))
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
In a message dated 11/23/2011 11:08:44 A.M. Eastern Standard Time, writes:
William preparing for Thanksgiving

Tummy Time

William preparing for Thanksgiving

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Friday, September 23, 2011

Berlin Fiddlin' Festival

Due to rain we convened in the local school cafeteria (I mean

Monday, September 19, 2011

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Jammies in the Trailer

Tom and Eileen just hanging out in the RV on our trip to Assateague:
Working hard at vacation.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

All Moved In

Matt, Kathy and Weina at lunch in the new home in Falls Church.
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Thursday, July 7, 2011


Arrived Oak Grove in Hatfield @ 1:30 pm. Tucked Chuck in. We're on our way home.
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Trip Home

Departed Harrisonburg/Shenandoah KOA @ 7:40 am headed for Oak Grove in Hatfield, present ETA 1:30 pm!
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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Touring the Shenandoah Valley

Today we became tourists, driving around the Shenandoah Valley.  We stopped at Luray Caverns, which were quite spectacular.  Here are two photos, the first of an underground pond in the "Dreamland" section of the cave, and the second the "Wishing Well."

After the Cavern, we stopped in the Luray Valley Museum across the street, which was really quite a good history museum for this area, and, as it represents the history of Virginia and the colonies, those larger regions as well.

We finished with a trip along Skyline Drive.  The views were grand, but many similar to one another, and with the hazy weather not spectacular.  The only notable event was that a Park Ranger stopped to see if we were in trouble when we pulled the truck over to unscrew our huge rabbit ear antennae due to a 12'8" clearance limitation in the tunnel.  He was a little bewildered why we took the trouble, since in fact it turned out the tunnel had plenty of clearance.  Oh well.

This was our last day of the trip, but for our drive back to our home Oak Grove campground in Hatfield.

A Hike in George Washington National Forest

On Tuesday, we took advantage of the unexpected sunny weather and hiked up to the ridge in the George Washington National Forest next to our campground.  We actually had a number of surprises.

First, we encountered a turtle in the middle of the path:

Then, we discovered blueberries along the path!  Here's Kathy in Blueberryland:

And finally, as we headed back down, a huge beetle flew in and hitched a ride on Kathy's backpack:

This was almost too much adventure for one day!  We cooled down with a swim after the hike, and then celebrated the good weather with a campfire and grilled veggies and pork chops with Moroccan rub.  The blueberries we picked were reincarnated this morning as pancakes.  Yum.

Monday, July 4, 2011


Arrived Harrisonburg/Shenandoah KOA and settled in @ 7:00 pm. Hooray! Happy Anniversary to us!
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Departed Cochran Farm, Rineyville, KY @ 7:01 am headed to Harrisonburg-Shenandoah KOA, eta 5pm
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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Tortoise and the Hare

We'll get to today's theme in a moment.  In the meantime, we woke up at 6am and decided to go out and check out the stream, Shaver's Fork of the Cheat River.  We fished for 2 hours or so.  Here's a photo of Kathy and the stream and the forest and the mountain and the foggy foggy dew:

After fishing and breakfast, we cleaned up a little, loaded our bikes on the truck, and headed into town for a scrumptious lunch and then a 3.5 hour bike ride on a rails-to-trails path in Elkins, WV.  It was a beautiful ride, level, through farmland and forest.  About halfway "there" an older couple dressed to the nines in spandex WV Mountaineers bicycle duds, riding their expensive road bikes, blew by us with barely a grunt.  Maybe 4 miles later we caught up to them.  They had a problem with one of the bikes.  We asked if things were okay, and they said, "Maybe not."  As we passed them, Kathy pointed out, "The Tortoise and the Hare."  There was some satisfaction in that!  :)  We reached our destination, rested, turned back, and when we reached where the other couple had broken down, the guy was doing CPR on a bicycle and presumably his wife had pedaled back to get their car to haul the bikes home.  Meanwhile, we finished our ride and had a wonderful time.  A total of 26.4 miles on a beautiful day.  Here's a photo of David and the bikes resting along the way:

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Rv at night

A Quieter Day

Here are two more sedate photos:  one of David at the dinner campfire, and one of Kathy at a campsite we found, near a beautiful waterfall, on our hike today.

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Three Wise Men

So here's the story of the Three Wise Men.

Dave'n'Kathy woke up Monday morning, realizing that it had not been a bad dream, but indeed they were still boondocking at the back of Hidden Springs Campground, with Great White and the as-yet-unnamed 5th wheel trailer stuck in the mud.  Around 7am we called our emergency roadside service and by 8:35, these two unnamed dudes in big towtrucks showed up, and indicated by the snarl in their lips and their unintelligble grunts that they already knew we were idiots and that this would be a debacle.  So we led them down the camp road to our rigs and, in their own country way, confirmed that their suspicions were correct.

With this, a hellacious, furious storm of activity was unleased, and they whipped out chains, hooks, cranks and winches.  After excoriating us, "Don't you know that you NEVER unhitch your truck from your trailer if they're in trouble!?!" they proceeded to yank our 15,000 lb. truck out of the mud and straightened it out and had David back it under the trailer hitch.  We hitched!  Unfortunately, this was just the beginning.

I should take a moment to describe for you the Three Wise Men.  Chuck is the first Wise Man.  He was the one we encountered as we drove in dismay to the back of the wrong campground.  He handles maintenance and lawn mowing.  He's a retired big rig truck driver (little did we know how significant that would become).  Chuck took us under his wing and let us set up our rig for the previous night on Sunday, and greeted us in the morning with the most solicitous, "Did ya call 'em yet? Ya can start the generator if ya want."  More musical words never were spoken.  Frank was the Second Wise Man.  Frank owns the campground.  Chuck called Frank once Chuck realized we were in desperate straits (Kathy says, "Deep Doo Doo").  Frank hustled over Sunday night and supervised Chuck's vain attempts to yank our 15,000 lb. truck out of the mud with his little Ford F150.  Frank said we could stay the night for $20, but he really didn't want to take any money from us.  We didn't meet the Third Wise Man until this morning.  His name is Rick.  He's a local fisherman who has an RV at the campground, and he couldn't resist coming over and kibitzing.  However, Rick proved to be most helpful and calming with his suggestions.

We've decided that in this Mythology of the Open Road, the Three Wise Men deserve places of great honor. They stuck with us through thick and thin all morning, as the Doleful Twosome yanked and hauled and cursed and scolded us.  Eventually, the Twosome became a Onesome as the second got another emergency tow call.  Onesome tried everything he could think of.  Eventually, he hooked the back of our truck to his winch and pulled our truck, which pushed our RV, up out of the mud - BUT NOT ALL THE WAY.  We fishtailed and got stuck.  So now it got down to the shortest of short strokes.  Onesome pulled out the final trick in his bag.  He said he was going to have to winch the rear of the trailer and haul the truck and trailed out from the trailer's hitch.  Mind you, this trailer hitch is rated for 3,500 lbs., and the combined weight of the two monsters is about 31,000 lbs.  Kathy and I turned white, but we knew his wisdom and agreed.

Haul.  Winch.  Creak.  Groan.  Slide the wheels sideway.  Crunch the bike rack (but don't worry, it wasn't harmed).  And we slid sideways up onto the road, without cracking the frame of our RV.  Great White heaved a sigh of relief.  At this point, Onesome told us we were on our own, and we had to figure out how to BACK THAT CONTRAPTION OUT OF THE CAMPGROUND.  Accepting the inevitable, we agreed, paid him off, and sent him on his way.  I should remark, however, that in fact, we were tremendously grateful to him, and you could see the relief on his face, as we all realized that he hadn't destroyed our RV in saving it.

Now down to the real business.  Onesome left around 10:30.  Now Kathy and Dave and the Three Wise Men worked on backing the rig out of the campground.  I won't bore you with the technical details, but we moved about 3 inches an hour, it seemed, dodged one stump, three BIG trees, and three RV canopy frames - and that got us only halfway out of the campground.  Finally, Chuck (remember, he of the big rigs) finally could contain frustration no longer, and asked Kathy if David's ego would prevent David from letting Chuck do the driving.  "No way! Go for it, Chuck!"  So Chuck took the wheel and, as smooth as butter, that monster contraption eased its ways out of the campground, onto the road, across the road, and eased into position, and Chuck simply said, "Now you're on the open road!"  David wanted to pay Chuck for his efforts, but Chuck refused.  Frank took David aside and recounted to him how Frank had taken Chuck in after Chuck's retirement.  Chuck had been in ill health and penniless and Frank just gave him a home and a job.  David asked Frank if Frank would take money to help continue to care for Chuck, and Frank agreed.  There were also huge hugs among manly men, not to mention a sense of accomplishment.

Remember Rick?  He guided everyone past those stumps, trees and canopies.  Kathy offered him a big beer and he graciously accepted.

Chuck led us out to THE CORRECT CAMPGROUND, and we bade him goodbye.  As we thought about the whole experience around the campfire this evening, we decided to christen the 5th wheel trailer, "Chuck" in honor of that man of few words, infinite patience and unimaginable big rig skills who save the rig from permanent Purgatory in Hidden Springs Campground.

Here here, Chuck, and here's to the Three Wise Men.  We toast you as we enjoy our campfire and our anticipated dinner of grilled Ahi Tuna steak and veggies, as we gaze upon Great White the truck and Chuck the trailer and continue discovering the Mythology of the Open Road.

Home Sweet Home

We finally made it to our INTENDED campground - one day late. The story is long and will await another chapter this evening. We have lots of errands to run.
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Shaver's Fork of the Cheat River, Bowden, WV

The morning after the night before; waiting in Paradise for a tow truck. How Kathy wishes she had her fly rod.
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Sunday, June 26, 2011

Ed & Gail Hit the Road

Where should we start?  How about at the beginning.  We got out of Hatfield okay, no foibles.  However, as we approached the historic Cumberland Gap, I think Daniel Boone farted and blew out the air intake hose on our truck's engine.  Actually, the clamp looked like it had been removed by our truck mechanic to get at something and replaced, but not tightened, so the hose wasn't tight enough, and the pressure of pulling 31,000 lbs. up over the Cumberland Gap just was too much for Great White.  We heard a "whoomf!" and suddenly the truck would only go 5 mph.  We crept up to a rest stop, opened the hood, and there was the hose, flapping in the breeze.  Luckily we have wrenches, and we hooked the hose back up and REALLY tightened the clamp, and off we went again.

Don't think that's the end of the story.

Our campground is/was about 5 miles East of greater metropolitan Elkins, WV.  We got there fair enough, but as we approached the campground, all of the very carefully solicited directions we got from the campground went awry.  We found ourselves driving down a back road, called the campground, and the guy insisted we were right there, just go back over the bridge and turn right into the campground.  So we did.

Only it wasn't our campground.  Nope.  As we drove back into the campground, Kathy observed that it looked like some backwater campground from "Deliverance."  And then we hit the end of the drive, at a small house.  Hmmm.  How do we get out of here?  Chuck came out of the house, a shambling 70-something, who told us we could drive over his grass and then back up and turn around.  Sure.  We drove over the grass and promptly the whole rig, truck wheels and all, got mired in soft ground.  Whirrrrr.  That's the sound of the wheels spinning ineffectually in the mud.

To make a long story short, Chuck and his boss Frank, the owner of the campground, brought over their 4-wheel drive pickup to try to haul our 31,000 lbs. of lard out of the mud, and it had the expected effect.  We were able to unhitch the truck from the rig and "rock" it out of the rutted mud, but couldn't get it out of the soft ground before it got stuck again.

Say us to Frank and Chuck:  "Thanks, guys, but tomorrow's another day.  Can we camp overnight here and we'll call Good Sam Emergency Roadside Service to save our sorry asses in the morning?"  They said, Sure, and we gave Frank (the boss) $20 bucks for the overnight campsite, who said it should go to Chuck because he's going to have to repair those hellacious mud ruts in the back yard.  So Chuck got the $20.  We hooked up our generator, powered up the RV, slid out the slides, and concentrated on dinner.  Kathy cooked while David schlepped down to the stream to get some questionable water to flush our toilet (no water, mind you). 

And here we sit.  We popped a really delicious beer from Iron Hill Brewery, had our steak and salad, called Katie to listen to her inevitable guffaws, and settled in to check e-mails and post this chapter to our little adventure book before going to bed.

I know, I know.  All those comments about Mickey and Goofey's trailer adventure.  All those remembrances of Lucille Ball's "Long Long Trailer," and so on.  But, hey, we're at home, we're listening to Bob Dylan, and we're going to get a good night's sleep and fight another day. 

No photos because we were too busy getting the truck out of the mud to snap action photos.  We'll take one in the morning and post it eventually, once we find out where civilization is.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Kathy Roughing it in the RV

Katie and Deb, that's the "Castle" cast @ ComicCon she's watching.
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Friday, June 24, 2011

Kentucky Wedding Trip 2011 - Here We Go!

On Sunday, we leave on our first real RV trip.  That day, we'll drive to Shaver's Fork Campground in West Virginia.  We plan to stay there three days, fishing (weather permitting) and otherwise bumming around and messing with the truck and RV.  On Thursday, June 30, we depart for Kathy's Aunt Dot's place in Rineyville, KY, near Fort Knox.  Kathy's cousin Billy and his wife Rosie will be our hosts.  We'll enjoy four full days of wedding festivities for their son.  Afterward, we'll head back to the Harrisonburg/Shenandoah Valley KOA campground in Virginia.  Rain or shine, we'll stay there July 5 and 6, and then head back to our RV nest at Oak Grove Park in Hatfield, PA on July 7.  Stay tuned for more blog entries as we progress (or not)!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Boulder Field Hopping at Rug Rat Camping 2011

Here's a video of the whole gang hopping out and back on the Boulder Field at Hickory Run.  It even has a little "rock dancing" sequence toward the end.  We won't name the dancers, but you know who you are!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Kathy Receives Her Rug Rat Camping Scrapbook

2011 marked the last annual Rug Rat Camping.  Started as early as 1987 by David, Katie and Matt, the annual Memorial Day Camping expanded in 1993 to include Kathy, and then, within a year or two after that, the Millers (Tom, Eileen, T.O. and Jen).  Around 2001, the camping trip was officially renamed, "Rug Rat Camping" in honor of Vicki, Mike and Nick, who began their annual trip with us.  Nick was only 4 years old - hence the "rug rat" name.  For 10 years, the Millers, Vicki, Mike, Nick, Kathy and David have made the annual trek to WT Family Campground in the Poconos.  This year was our last.  In honor of the occasion, Jen and Eileen made a scrapbook for Kathy and presented it to her.  This is the video of the presentation, on Sunday, May 29, 2011.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Goodbye to Rug Rat Camping...

Here are most of our tribe:  Vicki, Mike, Eileen, Kathy and Nick, in front of our steadfast Big Blue and the little pop-up, just home from camping this year.  It's the last of the Memorial Day Rug Rat Camping expeditions and we're sad to see them go...

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Memory Lane

"Liz and Mag might not have any recollection of this, but Mike and I did a long loop down Hwy 99E and back up Hwy 99W on Saturday, looking for antique stores and other places of interest. On our way from the Aurora Antique Mall to the Donald Cafe for lunch, I drove us down Boones Ferry Road, past Nellie & Ryan's property ~ their house is gone and a new one is in its place ~ and down Feller Road to our old place. Amazing. It looked like it was on its last legs in the photos of us as kids, but it is still standing, looking very much the same with the exception of new (architecturally incorrect :) windows. "

: : : : : : : : : : : :

Kathy and I visited the Aurora house several years ago.  It certainly didn't have new widows then; in fact, it seemed some windows were left broken.  And it was quite rundown and sorrowful looking.  If it weren't for a car parked next to it, I would have thought it was abandoned.  That, of course, was not my memory of it.  Yes, the husk was there in the form of the house, but the nutritive part of the memory was not.

T.S. Eliot writes in "Burnt Norton," the first section of his poem "Four Quartets," about this experience of returning to a place you experienced as a child and the emotions and ruminations it can call forth:


Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future,
And time future contained in time past.
If all time is eternally present
All time is unredeemable.
What might have been is an abstraction
Remaining a perpetual possibility
Only in a world of speculation.
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.
Footfalls echo in the memory
Down the passage which we did not take
Towards the door we never opened Into the rose-garden.
My words echo Thus, in your mind.
But to what purpose
Disturbing the dust on a bowl of rose-leaves
I do not know.
Other echoes
Inhabit the garden. Shall we follow?
Quick, said the bird, find them, find them,
Round the comer. Through the first gate,
Into our first world, shall we follow
The deception of the thrush? Into our first world.
There they were, dignified, invisible,
Moving without pressure, over the dead leaves,
In the autumn heat, through the vibrant air,
And the bird called, in response to
The unheard music hidden in the shrubbery,
And the unseen eyebeam crossed, for the roses
Had the look of flowers that are looked at.
There they were as our guests, accepted and accepting.
So we moved, and they, in a formal pattern,
Along the empty alley, into the box circle,
To look down into the drained pool.
Dry the pool, dry concrete, brown edged,
And the pool was filled with water out of sunlight,
And the lotos rose, quietly, quietly,
The surface glittered out of heart of light,
And they were behind us, reflected in the pool.
Then a cloud passed, and the pool was empty.
Go, said the bird, for the leaves were full of children,
Hidden excitedly, containing laughter.
Go, go, go, said the bird: human kind
Cannot bear very much reality.
Time past and time future
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.


The rose garden we revisit in older age isn't the same rose garden we experienced as a child.  Oh, it may still be there physically, but the voice and laughter, the tears, the original human experience, have left it.  So then what IS that place we remember?  Is it so much the physical location, or is it the experience we had?  Of course, it's the experience.

And, reaching for that experience, aren't we to always be disappointed because, residing only in our memory, it is not the same as it originally was.  It's now a reflection, a shadow, a whisper -- rather than a fleshy fruit, a smell of laundry drying on the line, a loved one's voice suddenly calling, a dear arm around our shoulder.

And do we want reality (even if different than it once was), or do we want merely to live in that shadowy dream?  If we want reality, then we must either turn away from asking that memory to fulfill us (recognizing that we will still always have it) and find those dear, beloved experiences in new places; or we must go back and live among those physical presences again - changed as they are - and create a new reality with new memories and experiences.

"What might have been and what has been point to one end, which is always present."

Sorry for waxing philosophical here, but Leslie's note just triggered it!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Hannah's Espresso Mocha Cookies!

Words are not necessary. They're as yummy as they look, Hannah. Guess which of us made the regular size cookies and which of us made the BIG cookies? Thanks for the recipe. Love, Kathy + David
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Friday, January 14, 2011