Thanksgiving Greetings


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When I was a child my aunt and uncle had a farm. I remember one year when I was 2 or 3, they brought a turkey to our house before Thanksgiving. I named it Gobble Gobble. I had no idea it was going to be Thanksgiving dinner. And they had no idea I was watching from the window as they killed it. I ran from the house to stop the execution, but I was too late. This is one of my earliest memories, by the way. I was an adult before I ate turkey. I preferred ham. The same uncle would let my sister and me "pick" our favorite piglet when a sow had a litter of pigs. We'd watch them grow up. I remember when I learned he'd taken…
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Strategy for Cyber Monday


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I have friends and relatives who wouldn't miss the after Thanksgiving sales. Not me. I don't even want to drive in the traffic. I've found I can get as good (or better) deals online probably anytime but certainly on Cyber Monday. I've been collecting catalogs and have started perusing them for things I might want to order as Christmas gifts. I've learned through the years to always check to see if there are discount coupons or coupon codes I can use. If the website doesn't show one, google the store name and 'discount coupon' to double check. Another trick I use is e-bates. I don't remember how I discovered this, but I've been doing it since 2007 -- when I remember. You sign in to e-bates, then go to the store…
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Missing Daddy


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It's been a year since the death of my dad.   Maybe because he was the last of our parents to die, it was particularly difficult for me. I did some individual grief counseling with a Hospice Counselor here and then a five-day intensive workshop on grief as well. While the therapy helped, I've concluded, it takes time and sunshine to overcome the profound sense of loss after the death of a loved one. My mom's been gone twenty-two years, and I still miss her.   Daddy died late in the evening of November 20th, but Hospice didn't arrive to pronounce him until early morning on the 21st. Therefore his DOD was officially the 21st--or so I thought. I found out earlier this week that his local family made the decision…
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Italy — Final post — What would I have done differently?


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Hindsight is 20/20. Don't get me wrong; our trip was great, but there are a few things I'd do differently if doing it over or if making recommendations for someone else. Therefore, I decided to make a list in case I have the opportunity to go back or if someone wants to use our trip as a guide for his or her own. I would have postponed the trip until after my dad's death. Of course. we didn't realize it was imminent. We had cancelled it the prior year due to the illness and eventual death of Hubby's mom. Looking back, I think I would have been happier had we postponed it again. But be careful with this one, because there's always something, some reason you can find not to go.…
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Day trip to Switzerland


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We took a day trip to Switzerland and, except that the driver drove 80 mph in the middle of curvy mountain roads, it was one of most fun days of the trip. The trip was set up by Kate, our local host for Stresa. We split the cost with the other two couples left in our "group" and got a private vehicle and driver. We called him Mario. He knew the roads well, but his driving scared the living daylights out of all of us. He drove us across the border. Then we took a train so we could catch another train to go up the Matterhorn Railway to a peak where we could almost see the Matterhorn. We needed Swiss clock accuracy to make all of our connections. If it'd been…
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Lake Maggiore in Stresa


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Leaving Venice was sad for several reasons. It was my favorite city for one thing, but we also had to say goodbye to our new friends, John and Beth who were returning to home. I think I remember they were taking a water taxi to the airport, but I could be wrong. If not, how cool is that? We had a great time with them, and really thought we'd stay in touch. Greg and John have e-mailed a few times, but I dropped out of the communication world when I returned home to find Daddy so ill and never reestablished the relationships I meant to keep from the trip. I offer amends to them and to our travel partners for the rest of the trip. The group dwindled after Venice…
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Venice — Where beauty and culture meet


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Of all the major cities we visited during our trip, Venice was my favorite. We only missed George Clooney's wedding by a year. Venice is a city of over 100 small islands, 150 canals or channels and over 400 bridges -- which means there is lots of water. In fact, Venice uses the many canals as streets. There aren't motorized vehicles in the historical district, not even delivery trucks. Deliveries arrive by barge on the canal. People walk or use water taxis, or Vaporetto (public water buses), or Traghetto (public gondola to cross the Grand Canal between bridges) or Gondolas, which are really just tourist traps and very overpriced and overrated. OK, yes we did one and the guy didn't even sing. Hubby did (of course) to the delight of all the other gondola passengers in…
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Florence — City of Culture & Fun


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Frankly, Rome was a bit much for me. I was overwhelmed much of time and found it difficult to comprehend its vastness. I was relieved when we left by high speed train to Florence. We traveled through the Tuscany Region. I don't know what I expected--to drink in the vineyards as we zoomed by or maybe a glimpse of Pisa, I suppose. But we went through lots of tunnels, and it was difficult to identify much of anything during our nonstop, quick trip. [caption id="attachment_8372" align="aligncenter" width="300" class=" "] relaxing trip[/caption]   Florence -- I loved it! My Impressions: Florence is also old, but less intimidating than Rome Florence was a journey into the Renaissance To me, Rome seemed decedent while Florence seemed to have class and dignity Florence felt…
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Italy — Ah la Delicious


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In Italy it's all about the food. Well, not really. There's the history, the culture, the art, the romance...but for today's post it IS all about the food. We decided at the last minute to see if we could find a cooking class to take. We found a "school" owned by the owner of the famous restaurant That's Amouri. He offered classes at the restaurant, at another location in Rome and at his country villa about an hour outside of Rome. Well, of course I wanted the villa experience. I called and they had two spots for the next day. We'd be joining three other ladies. Monica, the chef who taught us (not the restaurant owner) picked us up at our hotel and drove us to the villa of about…
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When in Rome…


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We spent our first day acclimating to Rome and woke up on Day Two ready to go. We put on our comfortable shoes and met our tour guide, Roberto, in the hotel lobby. (I have his card if anyone wants his information.) We did a six hour tour and got an overall impression of the city. He spoke excellent English and, more importantly, was a safe driver. There's no way I can tell you everything we saw that day. I'll give you some of my impressions: Rome is OLD. There's lots of traffic and no apparent lanes. It was pretty scary to watch. The streets are cobblestone and uneven. Though we saw many young women in high, high heels, I don't understand how they didn't break their necks. Take your sneakers.…
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