Down the Hall on Your Left

This site is a blog about what has been coasting through my consciousness lately. The things I post will be reflections that I see of the world around me. You may not agree with me or like what I say. In either case – you’ll get over it and I can live with it if it makes you unhappy. Please feel free to leave comments if you wish . All postings are: copyright 2014 – 2017

Archive for the category “Beauty”

A Treasure

YESTERDAY WAS JUNE THE 6TH AND I WROTE ABOUT D-DAY AND WORLD WAR TWO, but that date holds additional meaning for me.

June the 6th was also my mother’s birthday. It was and, in my heart and mind, always will be.

I’m an old man now and my parents passed away a long time ago. Both of them were born in 1911. Yesterday would have been my mother’s 106th birthday.

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Sunrise Monday Morning

IT’S 6:45 AM AND I AM IN MY USUAL WRITING POSITION – a corner table at Starbucks – with coffee and a pen. Like most other mornings I start off by checking the online news to see what mischief the world has been up to overnight, and then I look at my mail and lastly, Facebook.

What I see on Facebook is usually enough to launch my day and give me something to write about – but not today. All of my friends and acquaintances are either still asleep or busy monitoring their blood pressure.

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Fiction Saturday – “And Pull The Hole… Continued Chapter 35

Fiction Saturday

Chapter Thirty-Five

 

pull-molinas-waitingIt was time to take care of present business and to move on to whatever the future might bring. She climbed the stairs to the second floor of Molina’s building and stood in front of his door. She was tired. She was spent physically and emotionally. The constant stress of waiting for a bullet in the back was pushing her toward the edge. She opened the door to Molina’s studio and walked up to the speaker hanging on the wall.

“I’m back, Molina. Get out here,” she shouted.

“I’ll be right there, Señorita. One moment, please,” came the tinny-sounding response.

She dropped down into one of the wooden chairs and felt all of the air leave her. She closed her eyes as she leaned her head back against the green-painted wall. Sleep was all she really wanted right now. Sleep, a long soak in a warm tub, a massage and maybe a good long cry.

“Señorita? Miss Lovejoy?”

She jerked forward, disoriented for a second or two. Then her instincts took over and all of her senses were focused on Ernesto Molina who was standing in front of her, his hand on her knee.

“You are alone?” said Molina,

“For the moment, yes.”

 “Very well, come with me, Señorita.”

Molina led her back down the hall into the studio where they had done the photo shoot. There was a large plastic shopping bag sitting on the bed, the kind of bag you can buy for a dollar in every shop in Tijuana. The comforter had been pulled down and the bag was resting on the white silk sheets that Molina favored.

“I have everything you’ll need, Señorita—a complete package. Please, let me show you. I’ve done an excellent job, if I may say so myself.”

Standing beside the bed, Molina showed Laura each of the fake documents he had created. He took pleasure in pointing out the details that made them look totally authentic. None of the items looked brand new. All were more or less worn—lived-in, he called it.

“If you will notice, Señorita, I even put in a few customs stamps on both passports. It looks like you and the Señor have been to Ireland and England a few times. It adds a touch of realism.”

He was like a proud parent showing off his children to an appreciative stranger.

“Also, as you requested, Miss Lovejoy, all of the negatives.” He held up a sealed Manila envelope.

Laura was silent throughout Molina’s show. She didn’t know if what she was buying was really as good as he was claiming. It all looked real to her, but would it hold up under scrutiny?

brass-bed“Everything you asked for is here, Señorita. Very authentic, very first-rate and also very expensive.”

Laura took her eyes from the bed and looked at him. “You want your money now, don’t you?”

“Yes, please, it’s been a very stressful day for me.” Molina took a handkerchief from his pocket and wiped his brow. He was sweating.

Laura shook her head and said, “You don’t know the meaning of the word, Molina.”

“How are you planning to get back into the U.S., Señorita?

“We walked here, we’ll walk back. Why do you ask?”

Molina looked at her, somewhat astonished.  “Let’s be honest here for a moment, if we may. Señorita, if you are in need of my products then, obviously, someone is looking for you. Am I right?”

“Yes, of course.” She wondered where this was leading.

Molina shook his head.

“Then, Miss Lovejoy, walking through one of the most watched border crossings in the western hemisphere is suicidal. Frankly, I’m very surprised you got this far.”

“We’re fine, thank you,” she said, not believing it herself. She just wanted to pay him and get out of there.

“I can get you back across the border, no problem. I have established an underground railroad of sorts,” he said. “I can get you both back right under the border.

“Under—a tunnel? Are you serious?” she said, genuinely surprised.

“Actually, I have several tunnels, yes, and all I have to do is simply open a file drawer and get you a ticket. I’ll even drive you to the ‘station’ if you’d like.”

“For an additional charge, of course,” Laura said.

“Of course, Señorita, I am a businessman,” he said, ignoring the sarcasm in Laura’s voice.

“I’ll pass, Molina. Let’s settle up and I’ll be on my way.” This was making her nervous.

“As you wish, Señorita, but if you come back later, the price of the ticket goes up.” He shrugged, as if he was adding of course.

“You don’t ever take no for an answer, do you, Molina?” She started to gather up the documents off of the bed.

“Rarely, my dear. After all, many times a person says no when they really mean yes.” He moved closer to her.

“Like I said before, Molina, do you want your money now or not?”

“Have it your way Señorita. Please, yes.”

She moved away from him and started to undo the buttons on her blouse to get at the money taped to her body. Molina’s eyes narrowed.

“Señorita, I normally deal strictly in cash, but I’m not against a little barter.”

He moved close to her again, reached out and grabbed her belt, licking his lips.

“Get your hands off me.” She pushed him away.

“Oh, Señorita, don’t be coy with me. Let me show you what a real man is like. Not that pale rabbit you had with you earlier today.” He moved in again. This time he was not going for her belt. He smiled and his right hand flew out and slapped Laura hard across the face. She stumbled and backed away several steps. Her hands closed into fists. As Molina stepped toward her again, Laura lashed out and hit him square in the nose with a hard left jab followed by a right cross to his jaw. He reeled back and fell to the floor. Her uncle, Salvatore “Sammy the Bull”  Gravano had taught her that combination when she was nine years old.

“Don’t you touch me. Do you understand me, you little pig? I’ll kill you right here,” she said. They were both breathing hard.

She moved toward the bed to finish getting her merchandise. Molina gathered himself and sprang to his feet, putting himself between Laura and the bed.

“You want to get to my bed, Señorita? Let me oblige you.”

He charged at her. His momentum knocked Laura off her feet and they both fell to the floor. Molina punched her hard in the stomach. The bundles of cash dulled the impact, but it still made her gasp. She tried to get to her feet, but Molina was faster. He jumped up and grabbed her from behind, around her waist, and lifted her off the ground. He spun and threw Laura onto the bed, on top of her new identity. She bounced on the soft mattress and before she could react, Molina leaped onto the bed, covering her with his body.

“Stop. Stop it, you cheap little ape,” she hissed at him.

He slapped her again. She felt the heat rising in her face.

“I’m not a cheap anything, darling, and neither are you. We are both very expensive.” He laughed, thinking that he had her right where he wanted her.

As his left hand held her down on the bed, his right snaked inside her blouse. The fear she was feeling left her and rage poured in to take its place. She punched him hard in the face again. He stopped his groping to hit her with his fist. She could taste blood in her mouth.

He smiled at the look on her face and said, “You might want to put some ice on that later.” He was enjoying this, she realized, and that had to stop.

She hit him again, aiming for his eyes with her knuckles. As he recoiled from the pain she pushed with all her strength and managed to roll them both over. She was now on top.

She looked down at him. He was grinning again.

“Ah, now you’re getting into it, eh, Laura Lovejoy?” He wrapped his legs tightly around her waist.

“You could say that.”

He laughed. “Kiss me, Laura. Besame.”

She also laughed and started to bend low over his face. Molina closed his eyes and relaxed. His smile closed into a kiss. He never saw her reach down, lift the cuff of her jeans, and pull at the tape on her calf.

“Ernesto,” she whispered

“Yes, cara mia?”

He opened his eyes just in time to see Laura driving the ice pick downward. He didn’t have time pull-icepickto scream as the tempered steel shaft skewered through his left eyeball, punched through the thin orbital bone, and plunged deep into his brain. He was dead before Laura pulled the ice pick out and jammed it into his right eye.

Then she  vomited on him.

 

***

 

The taxi with Davis and Tomás screeched to a halt outside of Molina’s building. Davis jumped out and headed toward the door.  He saw Laura slumped against the wall inside the lobby.

“My God, Laura, what’s happened? Are you alright?”

“Let’s get out of here. You’re going to have to help me.” She looked pleadingly into his eyes. “Help me, Davis.”

Tomás rushed over to them, took Laura’s left arm and scooped up the plastic shopping bag. Together he and Davis half-carried Laura back to the taxi.

“Tomás,” said Laura. “Let’s get out of here. I’ve got to think.”

“Good God, Laura, what happened? Your face…?”

“Molina tried to–he got out of hand.” She was not going to allow herself to cry. “I won’t take that from anybody.”

“I’ll kill him,” Davis said. “Tomás, wait here.”

“No!” she cried out. “Don’t do it. There’s no need…there’s no need. Tomás, I paid you to give us a tour, so drive.”

Davis’ anger faded as his concern for Laura grew. He took a handkerchief from his pocket and tried to wipe Laura’s swollen lip and jaw. She pulled away.

“No, I’m fine, please. I love you, but I’ll be fine. Give me a few minutes and then let’s head back to the border.”

“We can’t,” Davis answered. “The border is closed. There was a gun battle with the police and some drug smugglers. The whole place is shot to pieces.”

Laura closed her eyes. She went inside herself to look for more strength, more resolve and more personal anesthesia. Her all-too-human engine was running on fumes. She slumped back in the seat. Her mind was struggling to think rationally, to go over the lessons of her past that might help them. She was looking at everything that had happened to her, everything she had seen and heard. She knew that the answer was filed away somewhere inside her memory. After about thirty seconds, she opened her eyes and leaned forward.

“Tomás, Turn around. Take us back to Molina’s.”

Tomás did a U-turn and had them outside of Molina’s building in minutes. On the way, she told them about the underground railroad and the “ticket” that Molina had tried to sell her.

Before they got out of the cab, she needed to prepare Davis for what he was about to see.

“I need you to come up with me to help find the tickets. They are somewhere in his office.”

        “You think Molina will still sell them to us?” Davis was not anxious to see Molina again. He was still angry enough to want to hurt him for what he had tried to do to the woman he loved.

“Davis…Molina is in no condition to bargain. I need your help, but I want you to understand and forgive me for what you’re going to see up there.”

Tomás said a silent prayer, thankful that she had not asked him to go upstairs with them.

“To hell with Molina,” said Davis. “Let’s get those tickets.”

Tomás waited in the cab wondering again what he had gotten himself into with these two strangers.

As soon as they walked into Molina’s studio Davis understood Laura’s words of warning.

Molina’s body was sprawled face-up on the bed. His eyes were two black, oozing holes. The bedspread and sheets were soaked with his blood. It was an ugly death.

“Jesus, Laura.” Davis was stunned. It looked like something out of a cheap slasher movie, only this was for real.

“Davis, we don’t have time. You can get sick later. He said the tickets were in a file cabinet.”

pull-fike-cabinetsThey looked everywhere in the studio. There were no file cabinets anywhere. Davis saw a frosted-glass door by the far wall. He tried the knob and it opened into a back corridor. Across the hallway was another glass door and it was open. He could see a workbench, a draftsman’s table and two rows of five-drawer file cabinets.

“Laura, back here. File cabinets.”

She hurried toward his voice.

“Bingo,” whispered Laura. “We’re looking for tickets or something that mentions a railroad of some sort. Let’s get started.”

Starting at opposite ends of the first bank of file cabinets, they rifled through folder after folder.

Ernesto Molina’s files contained blank documents of all sorts, from at least a dozen countries. He was able to create new identities in such detail that it would make real people look suspicious to the authorities.

Laura pulled out files, flipped through, and discarded them on the floor. She noticed alphabetized folders holding copies of documents and negatives. Half of the infamous missing persons in North America were in that file cabinet. Laura stopped when she saw her name typed on a protruding tab—not Laura Lovejoy, but Beverly Deltino. It contained another set of her photos and negatives. She took the folder and slipped it inside the bag holding her documents.

Halfway through the third file cabinet Laura grabbed a folder with a label marked “Ferrocarril.” Inside she saw sheets of paper, signed by Molina. At the top of each sheet was a line drawing of an old-fashioned steam locomotive.

“Davis, I think I’ve got it. Did you ever take Spanish in school?”

“I had two years in high school. Let me see it.” She handed him the folder.

Davis scanned the papers as he searched his memories of Mrs. De La Vega’s class in eleventh grade.

“It’s a permission slip. ‘Let the person with this ticket travel through the—something. I don’t know this word—ferrocarril means railroad. I’m sure of that. Here’s an address for the estacion. It looks like a ticket to me.”

There were a dozen copies, all signed, in the folder. Laura took two and stepped over to the worktable. She plucked a pen out of the coffee mug pen holder and carefully printed her new name in the blank space provided. She then printed “Davis Lovejoy” on the second sheet.

“Now, let’s get out here,” she said, as they headed for the closest exit.

They opened the door and found themselves on the landing outside of Molina’s studio. Davis looked at the door they had just used. Stenciled on the glass was “Geronimo Morey—Abogado.”

Laura never stopped to look. She was already halfway down the stairs to the street. Davis took the steps two at a time to catch up with her as she crossed the sidewalk and reached out for the door handle on Tomás’s cab.

“Tomás, do you know where 162 Avenida de Negocios is located?

“Sure, Señorita. It’s right up by the border. Lots of warehouses and small maquiladoras, little factories, not much there.”

“That’s where we’re going, quickly,” she said. “When the people at the railroad hear about Molina, they’ll shut it down.”

Driving as fast as he could without killing anyone or getting pulled over by one of Tijuana’s many motorcycle officers, Tomás took his cab through the city’s side streets near the border. They were less than a half-mile from the carnage at the San Ysidro crossing.

to be continued 1

 

 

I Need A New Shirt

THE RAVAGES OF TIME HAVE TAKEN THEIR TOLL ON MY WARDROBE. At least on the part I care the most about – my Hawaiian shirts. The rest of my clothes are there solely to avoid public prosecution, frostbite, and scaring animals and the rest of the population. I do have jeans that have holes in them and shoes that have outlasted their laces, but I cannot allow my Hawaiian shirts to paint me with a colorful deterioration.

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Don’t Panic

 

“I REFUSE TO ANSWER THAT QUESTION ON THE GROUNDS THAT I DON’T KNOW THE ANSWER.”

— Douglas Adams

I wish that more people would adopt that practice. As each day slops over into the next I become more and more exhausted by people who think that they have THE answer to, not only every question that people ask, but also to the questions that nobody bothers asking.

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Throwback Thursday from February 2016

Throwback Thursday from February 2016

What’s In A Song?

Columbus 4.gifA COUPLE OF WEEKS AGO my wife, the lovely and thought provoking, Dawn, posted a question on Facebook that made a lot of people stop and think.

She asked for, “Songs / musical pieces that bring you to tears or grab you and won’t let go.” 

That was not as easy a request as I first thought.

I am a music lover. My tastes range through just about every genre that you can think of. What I have playing in the car could make you scratch your head. I have Hard Rock, Opera, Country, Oldies, Jimmy Buffett, Broadway, Blues, Pop, Classical, Jazz, and even a Folk number or two. I usually have it going in a Random Mode, but if one song or artist hits a nerve I slide into Repeat Mode.

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Happy Half-Birthday To Me

live1MY MOTHER-IN-LAW JUST HAD HER 96th BIRTHDAY a couple of weeks ago. 96! Me? I’m just happy I made it through the weekend. I’m a “One Day at a Time” kind of guy. When I was a little kid, fresh out of the oven, there was speculation that I wouldn’t survive to adulthood. There are days when I still think they might be right.

 

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Coffee And Cake At 7 AM

cake1ONE OF THE MORE INTERESTING PARTS OF THE HOLIDAY SEASON – maybe the most interesting part – is taking time to observe the children. Take a moment to watch a three year old when they first see all of the colorful and glittering lights.

I never knew eyes could be that big.

The look on the face of a Little One must be similar to when the first self-aware humans looked up at the night sky.

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I Have Not Done This Well

new2OK, WE HAVE CHRISTMAS OUT OF THE WAY. The eggnog has been thankfully disposed of until next year. Christmas carols are over until Thanksgiving – except on the Hallmark Channel. New Year’s Day kind of takes care of itself with football, aspirin and drawn shades. I guess our next societal obligation is the making of New Year’s Resolutions. I suggest doing that before going out on New Year’s Eve. Doing it after that carries the danger of it being a product of desperation, shame, and physical pain.

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Throwback Thursday from December 2015

Throwback Thursday1“Coffee With The Morlocks”

 

TIMESBlue Hair Gif HAVE CHANGED. THE WORLD HAS MOVED ON. I have been left behind. But, really now!

I was up early today. It just happened. So, naturally I crawled down to St. Arbucks earlier than usual. It’s a different place at 7:30 in the morning. It’s like a scene from “The Time Machine.” At 7:30 the Morlocks are out and the Eloi arrive later.

 

It started with me standing in line behind a woman who hemmed and hawed, deliberated and mused before ordering a “tall” black coffee.  (At St. Arbucks, a “tall” coffee is just a hair bigger than a thimbleful.) At first I thought she was doing a “Sophie’s Choice” kind of thing. I’ve gotten mortgages quicker than her decision on a cup of coffee.

After I got my order placed with the young lady, whose eyes told me that she had already downed a half-dozen shots of espresso, I shuffled to the other end of the counter to await delivery.

Most of these people order “Half Decaf, Half Caf, Soy milk, Pumpkin Pie Spice, Sugar-free, with 12 pumps of Hazelnut, Frappuccino,” sorts of things. I order “Iced Coffee with a hit of cream, Thank you.”

As a result, they may be standing there for five minutes while the mad scientist/barista fills their order. While they are huddled in anticipation my coffee is ready in about 12 seconds.

This morning, as I burrowed my way through the twitching mob to get to my coffee, I saw proof that I belong to a different generation.

Standing by the counter was a woman in her mid-30s by my guess. She was dressed for work – a sharp looking gray business suit, low heel, sensible, shoes, and tortoise shell rim glasses. She had the Corporate Executive look going strong. Her brown hair was in a short, stylish, coif. It was also half blue.

Blue.

The back half of her hair was brown, but the front half was a nice, sort of, Robin Egg Blue.

This is a gal who has two lives.

There is her 9 to 5 life with the brown half of her hair along with the gray business suit and then there is the 5 to 9 life with the blue front half calling the shots.

At 11 AM I see her leading a Board of Directors meeting deciding on next quarter’s stock dividend.

At 11 PM I see her playing lead guitar in a Neo-Goth, Heavy Metal, Steam Punk, Dance Band – all the while dressed in Peek-a-Boo black leather lederhosen and seven inch heels.

Visualizing all that at 7:30 AM was a bit rough on me. It was a good thing that I found a seat quickly.

I know that things have loosened up a bit in the corporate world with regards to acceptable dress, make-up, and even tattoos, but where is that line in the sand anymore? As recently as ten or fifteen years ago, anyone showing up on the job with blue hair would have begun their day by putting on a paper hat and firing up the deep fryer.

Oh, well.

Time marches on. Things change. What used to come under the heading of “Anything Goes” in my Wild Oats days would be looked upon today with the question, “Are you, like…in a cult or something?” And I’m sure that in a few years folks will snicker at the gal with the blue hair as looking “quaint.”

But I’ll bet that, in the days to come, it will still take forever to get a cup of coffee when the person in line ahead of you has all the decision-making powers of a squirrel.

Blue Hair 2

Terre Haute Couture

lsd1

Timothy Leary

I KNOW THAT YOU WILL FIND THIS HARD TO BELIEVE, but I am the man who put the “Haute” in “Haute Couture.” I am not the man who put the “Haute” in Terre Haute (That’s French for, “He’s the man who put the ‘Haute’ somewhere else.”)

I can make that confession about Haute Couture because I have kept a clear eye on Fashion trends over the past fifty years. I’ve watched what’s Hot in Haute.

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Welcome to Holland 

holland1A FEW WEEKS AGO I WROTE ABOUT A RETREAT we took in the Holland, Michigan area. It was an intensive week, but it was not all work and no play.

On Thursday afternoon we had some time off to relax and let our brains blow away the sweat. It was listed as free time so we decided to morph into tourists for a few hours. After stops at the local St. Arbucks for coffee and a mini-mart for a Dr. Pepper we headed into downtown Holland.

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The Name Game

f0bf7e046eb40ca7200c68cb9f6c806bI TOOK MYSELF ON A LITTLE FACT FINDING MISSION the other day. It was inspired by seeing a picture of the actress Tuesday Weld. Most men my age remember her from the TV show, “The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis.” She played the gorgeous blonde Thalia Menninger. After she left the show nobody cared about it any longer.

My research topic had little to do with the lovely Thalia, but more to do with Tuesday – and Wednesday and Thursday, etc.

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It All Depends On…

time1IS LIFE A SERIES OF EVERCHANGING ILLUSIONS? Can we ever be certain that things are as we perceive them to be? I’m not all that sure, Buckaroos.

When I was a kid, when dinosaurs still roamed the Earth, Time seemed to move much slower than it does now. Back then the span of time from Monday until Friday seemed to take forever. Each school day stretched out endlessly.

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Throwback Thursday from October 2015

Throwback Thursday 3

From October 2015

Leaves of…uh…Leaves

covered_bridgeIT IS THE LATTER PART OF OCTOBER IN INDIANA. The trees are at their peak of Autumnal color. The leaves I saw this morning were red, yellow, gold, and blue. Blue? That turned out to be a plastic bag stuck on a branch.

People come from all over to look at the trees and go “Ooh” and “Ahhh.” After that they eat lunch and drive away. They never stay to help clean up the leaves as they fall to earth.

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I Used To Tie One On

tie2I WAS LOOKING IN MY CLOSET YESTERDAY. It was like gazing into a Time Machine. There are clothes in there that I haven’t worn in years. Some don’t fit anymore. Some never did fit, and some I used to wear to work.

And then there are The Neckties.

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Throwback Thursday – What? I’m Sorry. What did you say? Huh?

Throwback Thursday 1From September 2015

What? I’m Sorry. What did you say? Huh?

Mr Bean asleep

 

 

WE STAYED UP MUCH TOO LATE LAST NIGHT. When the SF Giants are playing on the west coast the games don’t even begin until 10:15.

Do the math. I can’t.

I didn’t crawl under the comforter until close to 2 AM and my eyes popped open just before 7 AM.  I got up – stumbled to the bathroom – relied on a lifetime of aiming in the dark, and stumbled back to bed.

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To Each His Own

tat5ONE OF HUMANITY’S OLDEST RITUALS, aside from putting their names on the hedge clippers and putting the trash out to the curb, has been tattooing. Anthropologists have uncovered mummified remains around the world bearing crude tattoos.

How this practice began is a mystery, but I think the reasons then are the same as the reasons today – to frag off your old man and to be different just like all of your friends.

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If I Had A Pony

Dublin3SOME WINDOWS ARE BETTER THAN OTHERS. There are some windows where I can’t wait to close the drapes so I don’t have to see what’s on the other side of the glass.

I’ve stayed in places where the view outside the window was a brick wall or another window looking back at me. Those are the windows that get the drapes closed immediately.

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Returning

luggage_large_1xAs you read this we should, and I emphasize “Should,” be home in Terre Haute (That’s French for, “You have a ton of junk mail waiting for you.”) and dealing with the stresses and strains of jet-lag and culture shock. Hopefully our luggage has arrived with us, but I always feel a bit cynical about that.

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