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The Case of the Stolen Stollen October 24, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Food & Drink, Humor, Word Play.
Tags: , , , ,
25 comments

Mystery Ride5bMy maternal grandfather loved puns, crosswords, and word play . . . like Toyota = Toy Auto.

He also loved Stollen Bread and received a loaf from my mother every Christmas for as long as he lived.

When I read Nancy Curteman’s post on Global Mysteries about The Isle of Guernsey, it struck me that the ingredients for a Guernsey Gache sounded like those for Stollen Bread.

I wondered whether the similarities stemmed from German occupation of Guernsey during World War II.

Could it be The Case of the Stolen Stollen?

There’s a mystery for Miss Marple!

Aah . . . that’s better!

ACK! I said the C-word and it’s not even half-past Halloween.

Puts fingers in ears and hums “LA~LA~LA~LA~LA” to drown out premature mention of the advent. :mrgreen:

Even The Grin Of An Ordinary Guru October 23, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Gratitude, Happiness, Health & Wellness, Humor.
Tags: , , , ,
33 comments
Cheshire_Cat_Tenniel

Happy Birthday to my Ordinary Guru

Life often conspires to teach us what we need to know.

Some lessons seem negative because our vantage point is limited.

We are lost in the trees.

Once we move farther along the path, we see more of the forest.  Our changed vantage point provides clarity.

With expanded cognition, we find that the “negative events” we resisted resulted in valuable lessons and navigational aids:

* Perhaps we learned to be patient and allow life to unfold.

* Or we shifted our perspective from malignant thoughts of certain doom to benign thoughts of light and laughter.

* Maybe we gained proficiency with a valuable life skill, such as living in the midst of uncertainty without gravitating to worst case scenarios, wild imaginings, and dire predictions.

Anything, even the grin of an Ordinary Guru, can be a nudge in the right direction.

A shortcut to becoming who were were always meant to be.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Four Glitches & A Tumor ~ Part 2 October 22, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Health & Wellness, Humor, Life Balance.
Tags: , , , ,
62 comments

Continued from Four Glitches & A Tumor . . .

Two months later, I arrived in pre-op for surgery at 5 a.m., wearing a green hospital gown. Despite the early hour, I was peaceful and chipper . . . even without my customary cup of coffee.

The nurses urged me to focus on the serious nature of coming events. “We need you to read this Release carefully. It addresses the risks of surgery.”

I nodded. “I know all about the risks. I’m a medical malpractice attorney.”

“Really? And you’re not worried?”

“Nope.” Then I gave them my best grin. “If I’m going to die, I’m going to die laughing.”

Cheshire_Cat_Tenniel

After deciding I hadn’t left my marbles at home on the bedside table, they had me sign the requisite forms and continued to prep me for surgery.

Glitch #3: Picture a tree with a single trunk and many branches. Most parotid gland tumors are located at the base of the trunk, along a major branch of the facial nerves, making it fairly straightforward to excise the tumor without damaging the nerves. With a well-placed tumor, surgery lasts 1-2 hours. My surgery lasted 6 hours because the tumor was hanging around the branches of smaller facial nerves.

The surgeon (for whom we had waited patiently) worked patiently on his patient patient.

Due to his care and concern, I am not a drooler. I emerged from surgery with all facial nerves intact. He even did a fat graft to pad my face to ensure it would not look lopsided. He was worth the wait.

But the waiting wasn’t over yet.

Glitch #4: Once out of Recovery, my surgeon admitted me to the Intensive Care Unit. The next day, after restless morphine-induced sleep, I asked about the tumor. “Was it benign?”

“I don’t know.”

“What? You don’t have the pathologist’s report yet?”

“I have his report. But you had an atypical tumor. Given the unique cell make-up, the pathology department’s not sure whether it’s benign or malignant. They’ve sent your slides to teaching hospitals around the country for additional input.”

“My tumor’s on tour?”

He grinned. “Yup. It’s gonna be a star.”

After 3 days in the ICU, I went home.  No report.

A week later, I went to the surgeon’s office for follow-up.  Still nothing. “Once they reach consensus, I’ll let you know.”

Two months later he called with a verdict worth waiting for . . . Benign!

Aah . . . that’s better!

Concludes tomorrow with . . . Even The Grin Of An Ordinary Guru

Four Glitches & A Tumor October 21, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Health & Wellness, Humor, Life Balance.
Tags: , , , ,
52 comments

“You have a parotid gland tumor.”

The doctor’s words hung in the air as we reviewed options:

(1) Have surgery to remove the tumor, or
(2) Do nothing and allow the tumor to grow, possibly impacting facial nerves.

As a medical malpractice attorney, I knew all the things that could go wrong during surgery. But as a litigator, I relied on my facial nerves to convey subtle nuances to the jury.

Caught between a rock and a hard place, we opted for Door #1.

Surgery.

Glitch #1: The surgeon we hand-picked wasn’t available for at least 2 months because he was moving from one teaching hospital to another.

My husband and I decided our preferred surgeon would be worth the wait . . . as long as the tumor wasn’t malignant.

Glitch #2: Due to the tumor’s proximity to facial nerves, the surgeon couldn’t perform a needle biopsy.

Great. We agreed to wait it out “in the dark.” Odds were in favor of it being benign, but . . .

Once home, the initial numbness began to wear off, replaced with worry and anxiety. I tried to calm myself by making plans.

“I’m going to have to call everyone I know before going under the knife.”

“Why?”

“To say good-bye . . . just in case.”

So much for calmness. Blind hysteria set in and I started to cry.  My husband allowed the scene to register and then he . . . grinned. He grinned! There I was, on the verge of imminent disaster, and he was laughing at me.

This was NOT the kind, caring, and compassionate man I had married.

I made a mental note to rewrite my will and change the beneficiary of my life insurance policy from him to someone else.

Anyone else.

Well, anyone other than my surgeon; I didn’t want to create a conflict of interest for him if he had medical malpractice insurance premiums coming due.

I glared at my husband and ex-best friend. “What are you smiling about?”

He didn’t even blink. His grin never wavered.  Proof that my tumor had already destroyed facial nerves essential to glaring, staring, and/or giving someone the “stink eye.”

Ignoring my ire, he spoke. “I just took what you said to its logical extreme.”

“Meaning?”

“You should probably call everyone you know every morning.”

“What for?”

“To say good-bye . . . just in case.”

“What are you talking about?”

His grin grew two sizes as he said, “Well . . . you never know when you’re going to be hit by that proverbial bus.”

Cheshire_Cat_Tenniel

I looked at his Cheshire grin with simmering resentment, annoyed that he had full use of his smile muscles.

Then his words sunk in and I burst out laughing.

“You’re right! I could die tomorrow on the way to work. Or next week by running into a brick wall. Or the week after that while caught between a rock and a hard place.”

“Exactly! Why get worked up now over surgery that’s not even scheduled?”

As we relaxed into the moment, I knew I would be all right . . . no matter what happened. Instead of dwelling on the “black cloud of uncertainty,” I had the time of my life that summer.

Aah . . . that’s better!

To be continued tomorrow . . . Four Glitches & A Tumor ~ Part 2.

Wry Observations on Dry Politics October 19, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Fun & Games, Humor, Life Balance, People.
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33 comments

After my grandfather retired, he ran for the State Legislature in Vermont and served a few terms as Town Representative for Hartland.   While serving, he peppered letters to my dad with wry observations on otherwise dry politics.

Margaret & Walter at my parents' wedding, 1955

Margaret & Walter at my parents’ wedding, 1955

1956

8/5 ~ Hartland: “The date is closed for filing for Town Rep.  No one else filed as far as I know.  I ought to be able to win I guess.  To lose, I would have to fall on my face or die.”

9/13 ~ Results of primary on 9/11.  “The total vote was 155. Senator Aiken received 145. Representative Prouty received 144. Walter Hatch received 140. I had expected to win but had expected there might be more who would not vote for me.”

11/7 ~ Results of election. “Hartland had a big turn-out to vote. Some 75% of the clerk’s list. The total vote cast was 595. I got 452 out of a possible 500. That needs explaining. Max Rogers only had 500 Representative ballots printed. The last 95 could not vote on Town Representative. So politics is over for a bit.”

Damon Hall ~ Hartland Vermont

1957

1/1 ~ New Year’s Greetings with exuberant good wishes and details of his new suit for Montpelier.  “I have bought a new suit in reddish brown gray.  It is said to look well with gray hair, a little thin, you know, on top.”

1/12 ~ Montpelier:  “I am now officially a member of the Honorable General Assembly.” Details of 1st week.  “As ever, your “Honorable Dad.”

6/13 ~ Montpelier: “We are nearly through with our work in the House except for such bills as come from the Senate.  They are behind us with their work again this year.”

1958

9/2 ~ “Politics are getting hotter.  I still have no contest, but the Senate race and Lt. Governor are interesting.”

9/10 ~ Hartland: “Dear Richard & Barb, etc.  The “etc.” is also important.  I have been watching the TV for two or three evenings.  Last night was the VT and NH Primaries.  Of course, I had to sit up for that.  The vote was light I would say.  Too bad people don’t take more interest.  I think they would sit up and think some if they lost the right.  It was quiet here in Hartland.  No contests.  Out of a total of 214 ballots, I got 203.  Of course, these are Primaries.  As you know, the real election is in November.”

11/6 ~ Hartland: “I will write to give you the results of the election. With a total vote cast of 384, I had 352. Stafford (Rep.) for governor got 260 while the Democrat candidate polled 111. Since no one was running against me, I got quite a few votes from Democrat voters. State wide, we have a democrat for the lone Representative to Congress for the first time since before the Civil War.”

Governor Robert Theodore Stafford (in Public Domain)

1959

1/16 ~ Hartland:  “We are off to a flying start in Legislation activity.  Robert Stafford is our Governor.  I worked for his election so was satisfied.  On Thursday, the retiring Governor gave his farewell address before a formal Joint Assembly with the Supreme Court in attendance in robes, etc.  After lunch, we met again in like manner to hear Gov. Stafford’s address.  Committee assignments were read Thursday. I am on the State and Courts Expense Committee.  I do not know all the types of bills we have to process.  The Chairman is a man named Lawrence.  I liked his reports in the last session but did not get to know him then.  Today I read over a part of the Attorney General’s Report.  It is a 200 page book giving opinions of the past 2 years and cases he tried, etc.  I figured I better know something of his thoughts because we will have to work with him in our committee quite a lot.”

5/24 ~ “Legislature is in its last days but may last a week or possibly two.  It is a split session and I expect to work some in October or November getting some bills ready for Jan. 12 1960 when the final part of this session will meet and eventually close.”

9/6 ~ Hartland: “I have to be in Montpelier the 21st for as long as committee meetings last thereafter.  I am quite interested in the outcome of the coming visits between Russia and the U.S.  I expect both lies and bluster mixed in with honey ~ for peace.”

12/13 ~ “It is 10 minutes walk to the dome. Ray Heyser, the House Speaker, was in town and ate dinner with 6 or 7 of us. After dinner, Ray cornered me and grinned and said, “How are you getting on, Walter? How do you like the committee I put you on?” I told him I hoped I was doing all right. He went off with a wicked gleam in his eye. And so we go. “

Vermont State House, circa 1870

1960

1/31 ~ Hartland:  “The third week of the session is over and we are getting on quite well.  The first big bill #386 passed the house and senate and is back in the house with minor amendments. The second #392 which dealt with consolidation of departments is through 2nd reading.  There was an attempt made to amend it to death.  We upset the amendment and I did some of the talking against it.  I orated in my best form that:

“No one should as a public servant be appointed for life. We want no Kingdom of Education!  Let me point out: an indefinite appointment may perpetuate a poor policy equally as a good. I hope you see fit to defeat the amendment.”

Very dramatic.  And with those short and simple words, I sat.  Well I have rambled on and I hope you can get at least some of the picture of what happens as you make a law.  We have got a good committee if I do say it and we were all happy Friday night but trying hard not to appear smug.”

8/26 ~ Hartland:  “Louis Springer is filed to run for Representative also, so we are in a contest.  It is friendly so far.  I encouraged him to file and let the voters decide it Sept. 11.”

My grandparents' home in Hartland Vermont, circa 1972

My grandparents’ home in Hartland Vermont, circa 1972

9/13 ~ Hartland: “We vote today. News later.” “8 PM ~ I just returned from the hall. I seem to have won in the Town Representative count: 133 to 118 for Springer. Unless someone files by petition, I will have to work in Montpelier again this Winter.”

11/14 ~ Hartland:  “I was disappointed when Nixon lost and by so little. However, we have to live and not wring our hands.  Here in town, Stafford won over Meyers and Keyser is governor.  Hartland had a big vote out ~ 644 (72%). My vote was 558 as I had no one running against me.  We went to Montpelier and got a place to stay engaged.”

1961

1/4 ~ Montpelier: “Here we are again “under the Dome.” Tomorrow is Governor’s Ball. We may go and watch awhile. And so it goes.”

State House, Montpelier Vermont (in Public Domain)

1/11 ~ Montpelier: “Roy Lawrence read Committee appointments this morning. Evo is chairman of State and Court and I am Vice Chairman. You can see I will soon be Governor or something. Probably something.”

3/19 ~ “Our committee has requests in various bills for pay raises of $2,100,000 per year.  Revenue is off just now so I fear we will have to use a knife and pare them down some.  Not so pleasant to do.”

7/10 ~ Hartland: The 200 Year Celebration.  “Margaret is mailing a parcel for Nancy. And tomorrow back to the snake pit.”

7/25 ~ Montpelier: “I thought we would close the session this week but the senate is stalling (11 to 2 for lunch today). I visited the Senate afternoon session. It ran exactly 20 minutes. It was a stall session. Most people in both houses are disgusted but it is not easy to force the Senate leaders.”

7/31 ~ Montpelier: “We are really on our final week. I shall be glad to be out of it. A few people are cleaning out their desks as far as possible ready to leave tomorrow.”

1962

7/27 ~ Pavilion Hotel, Montpelier: “I am called to a Special Session to consider 4 matters.  It was nice to see everyone and I have had some good visits.  I talked with the Governor a few minutes.  I presume I will be up here into next week.  It depends on the Senate.  It is a lot of in fighting done with a smiling face.  I have kept a lot of notes on what I have learned in various ways.  It is as interesting as “Advise and Consent.” ”

Pavilion Hotel, Montpelier VT (in Public Domain)

8/7 ~ Montpelier: “We are still tied in a reapportionment deadlock with the Senate. It is a power play. The cost is about $25,000 per week while it lasts. I expect you are back home. We had a nice visit at the lake.”

8/15 ~ Hartland: “The Special Session of the Vermont Legislature has passed into history. It was an interesting session and I expect my last.”

1963

1/12 ~ Hartland: “I have been watching the start of the 1963 Session in the papers. I don’t feel too much of an itch to be there. I believe I am getting lazy.”

Aah . . . that’s better!

The Tie Salesman October 18, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Fun & Games, Humor, Joke.
Tags: , ,
32 comments

IMGP3157bWhile crossing the Afghan desert, a fleeing Taliban terrorist saw something off in the distance.

Desperate for water, he hurried toward the oasis.  There, he found a frail old man standing at a small makeshift display rack, selling ties.

The terrorist asked, “Do you have water?”

The salesman replied, “No. No water. Would you like to buy a tie? They are only $5.”

The terrorist shrieked, “Infidel! I do not need your over-priced western adornment. I spit on your ties. I need water!”

“Sorry, I have none – just ties – pure silk – and only $5.”

“Pahh! A curse on your ties. I should wrap one around your scrawny neck and put you out of your misery . . . but I must conserve my energy and find water!”

The salesman nodded. “It does not matter that you do not wish to buy a tie from me or that you hate me, threaten my life, and call me infidel. I am bigger than any of that. If you continue over that hill to the east for about two miles, you will find a restaurant with the finest food and all the ice-cold water you need.  Go In Peace.”

Cursing again, the desperate Taliban staggered away over the hill.

IMGP3155b

Several hours later, he crawled back, almost dead, and gasped . . .

“They won’t let me in without a tie.”

Aah . . . that’s better!

Chickpea Chocolate Chip Cookies October 16, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Food & Drink, Humor, Vegetarian Recipes.
Tags: , , , ,
40 comments

This recipe comes to you courtesy of Nancy (“Keep moving!”) Tex:

They say it’s your birthday
Happy Birthday to Ya!

Happy Birthday NT!

* * *

As I read NT’s post, When Chickpeas and Chocolate Chips Collide, I knew I had to give these healthy high fiber cookies a try . . . with a few modifications because I am (a) a lazy cook who (b) loves rum:

* The recipe called for natural peanut butter.  I hate measuring peanut butter. With a passion.  It’s so S~T~I~C~K~Y!  I substituted 3/4 c. roasted salted peanuts (ground up peanuts => natural peanut butter).

* The recipe called for vanilla extract.  I’m not a baker and don’t keep vanilla extract in the pantry.   I do keep rum around.  Rum => Yum!

Chickpea Chocolate Chip Cookies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine 1 1/2 c. chickpeas (15 oz. can, drained and rinsed) with 3/4 c. roasted salted peanuts.  Pulse in your processor until almost smooth.

Add 2 tsp. vanilla extract (or rum), 1/4 c. honey (or agave or maple syrup), and 1 tsp baking powder.  Process until mixture forms a dough ball.

Toss the dough ball into a bowl.

2014-10-13 16-37-17_0015

Add 1/2 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips.

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Fold the chips into the dough.

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Form into 1 1/2″ balls and place on greased or parchment-lined cookie sheet.

2014-10-13 16-46-09_0019

Tip:  Use an ice cream scoop to scoop up the dough.

2014-10-13 16-40-50_0018

Press the tops down with a fork.

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Bake for 10 minutes.  Try one to see if it’s done.

2014-10-13 16-59-21_0021

Press the tops down (again) and bake for 2 minutes more. Cool on a wire rack.

2014-10-13 17-05-31_0022

These are not quite as good as Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies BUT they are MUCH better for you.

They omit the empty calories (butter, white flour, and white sugar) and add in good-for-you protein and fiber from both peanuts and garbanzo beans.

Enjoy them.  Guilt free.

Aah . . . that’s better!

If you’re allergic to peanuts, you might try these with almonds and Amaretto or hazelnuts and Frangelica.

That’s Just Crazy! October 15, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Fun & Games, Humor, People, Travel & Leisure.
Tags: , , ,
30 comments

IMGP3167bWe watched a show on Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Those people are crazy.

They eat dinner at 10 pm . . . and that’s the Early Bird Special.

Even families with young children arrive at restaurants to dine at midnight.

That’s not the crazy part.

The clubs open at 2 a.m. and people dance til dawn.  Then what?  A quick yawn, shower, and off to work?

And that’s not the crazy part.

Folks there are big fans of plastic surgery ~ 1 out of 3 has had work done.

That’s not the crazy part.

IMGP3151bA high percentage of folks are receiving therapy for mental health issues.

But that’s not the crazy part.

Here’s the crazy part ~> they take their psychoanalysts on vacation with them!

How bizarre!

Maybe they bring them along to check for skeletons in the closet?

Or bats in the belfry?

Aah . . . that’s better!

Multi-Grain Medley & Squash October 14, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Food & Drink, Humor, Vegetarian Recipes.
Tags: , , , ,
27 comments

Minute Rice has a new Multi-Grain Medley of Brown Rice, Wheat, Quinoi, Rye, Oats, and Barley.

2014-10-13 18-01-38_0023

Intrigued, I picked up a packet ~ 6 grams of fiber per serving.  Awesome!  By way of comparison, plain white rice has a scant 1 gram of fiber per serving.

I haven’t bought Minute Rice since before Ronald Reagan was President, but I decided to give the Multi-Grain Medley a try because the idea of cooking up Brown Rice, Wheat, Quinoi, Rye, Oats, AND Barley seemed too time intensive.

In contrast, the Minute Rice Medley takes only a minute to heat and eat.

Multi-Grain Medley & Summer Squash

2014-10-13 18-08-22_0024

Saute onion, carrot, celery in olive oil.  Add sliced summer squash.  Cook until tender. Stir in 2 cups cooked grain (rice, barley, quinoi, or multi-grain medley).

2014-10-07 09-19-59_0001

Season with salt, garlic, and turmeric (or 1/2 c. of Tikki Masala).

Add a healthy splash of wine.  Toss in some raisins.  Let it simmer until the raisins plump.

If you have cooked green beans hanging around, toss them into the mix.

2014-10-07 19-03-51_0004

Sprinkle some peanuts on top to add crunch factor.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Pragmatic Thoughts on Life & Death October 12, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Humor, Life Balance, People, Special Events.
Tags: , , , ,
49 comments

Much of my grandfather’s letters dealt with the day-to-day dramas of life in the Vermont legislature, keeping weeds out of his garden, chasing deer around during hunting season, and keeping up with Mother Nature’s efforts to paint a winter wonderland of white.

But he paid passing homage to the arrival and rearing of his grandkids and to the passing of friends and family:

1956

8/20 ~ “We are remembering October [Jamie's arrival] is not so far off and it won’t be long now. Tell Barbara it is OK to rush about with a wash cloth or something during the moving process but not to lift the piano. Let me know if we can do anything else.”

3D-Cow

1958

2/4 ~ “Dear Richard, Barb and “the Problem” ~ I was much interested in your account of feeding Jamie.  In learning calves to drink it was generally necessary to get them just a bit hungry.  I used to discourse on this to your mother and Aunt Lucy and get them quite indignant.  You and Marjorie were NOT calves!  I think Lucy thought me a bit brutal.  It wasn’t, it was just simple common sense.  The same basic strategy applies to all young creatures I think.”

My paternal grandparents with dad and Marjorie

My paternal grandparents with dad and Marjorie

6/29 ~ “As it is nearing July we will be looking for NEWS soon.” [My arrival]

7/20 ~ “We were pleased to get your call and the good news that everyone was OK. We expected it to be but it was nice to know it came and is over.” ["It came" = ME]

1959

2/26 ~ “Tell the children I think of them.  Possibly that will not mean much to Nancy.”

10/6 ~   “Margaret was quite worried over poor Nancy.  It must have been quite bad while it was sore.  [After spilling out of a run-a-way baby carriage, I required stitches in my tongue.]  It is wonderful how children get over such things.  I remember how worried we were when you upset your arm.  I was worried it might be stiff in the joint.  Lots of love and we will be happy to see you any time you can make it.”

1960

3/31 ~ “We just got a special delivery letter from Marjorie saying Louis Stevens died Sunday night.  She also said Douglas Bruce was born and that you called Aunt Pete.  [My younger brother's arrival.]  We were pleased to hear of it.  We could not feel too badly about Louis as he wasn’t enjoying life much at the last.  He told me he doubted if he would be there when I came home from Florida but he had had so many ups and downs it was a question.  I feel sorry but it is a relief for Rae, I believe, to know it is over.”

Doug's First Birthday

Doug’s First Birthday

5/21 ~ “We had quite a shock tonight. Mr. Hubbard, the minister, dropped dead with a heart attack. It was wholly unexpected. Margaret was very upset. He was erecting a flag pole at his place when it happened. So this is most of the news and tragedy. Like life is ~ some good ~ some bad. Come up any time if you feel like it.”

11/14 ~ “We still chuckle thinking how cute the children were at times.  I guess we would help spoil them if we were around all the time.”

12/23 ~ “Dear everyone, Probably I should write a line and throw in a few bright and salty remarks.  Douglas is too young for me to sum up yet but as far as Jamie and, especially Nancy, is concerned I have to say you are doing all right.  I have to grin internally every time I take a good look at her.”

C'est Moi!

C’est Moi!

1961

2/19 ~ “We enjoyed your letter and account of the kids.  I could picture what you meant ~ that is, the cross currents of your under-6 society.”

6/30 ~ “The sick people are as usual.  We are looking for news!” [Arrival of #4.]

7/16 ~ “I expect Barb is home and the problems in your home are different than those up here. Have courage, Barb, the first 100 years are the hardest. Hope baby will be good enough to sleep nights.”  [My younger sister's arrival.]

1962

10/15 ~ “It was 28 degrees this morning and sunny.  Hope everything goes well and that you can come up.  I realize it is quite a trip with children to consider but we would love to have you.  Margaret wants to see the children ~ not you! ~ the children!”

'Twas The Night Before Christmas

‘Twas The Night Before Christmas

 Aah . . . that’s better!

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