dearanonymousfriend

Ramblings from a would be writer

Taking a Trip Back in Time…

We transferred back to the states in spring of 1979 from Japan.  We had lived there three years and it was one of the best places we had lived.  We met friends, we started our family, we became Christians there, and we grew up there.  I call those years my ‘college years’ as I never went to college and I spent the years in Japan at the age where I could have been studying in school.

We moved to Maine in early June of 1979.  Hubby worked sixty miles from where we lived.  He got up early (and I did too),  and after cleaning the house and doing chores, I felt lonely.  I knew people, but, it was early in our tour there so I had not discovered the joy these ‘new’ people would bring to my life.

One morning I was moping around the house missing my friends from Japan.  I was lonely and miserable and was crying off and on.  I was in the United States, people spoke my language, but I felt out-of-place.  I wanted to go back to Japan.

That morning, as I cried and prayed, I felt like I learned a lesson from God.  It was like He showed me a scrapbook.  This scrapbook was filled with pictures and mementos.  The lesson learned was this, the people and experiences I had in Japan would always live in my heart and mind.  They were like a scrapbook I could open.  I could remember and enjoy the memories, but, I could not live there, I needed to focus on the present and where I was.

From that time on, I have often thought of that lesson.  I have tried to live my life, focused on the present.

Today I have opened that scrapbook often.  My sister posted a picture of the first house she lived in after getting married.  It was the home where she started her family.  I looked at the picture and thought of the laughter we had when we visited there.  I remembered my oldest daughter taking her afternoon nap on the hammock that used to hang on the front porch.  I smiled and thought of several other memories of that time.  She had found the picture of the house on the web and that got me thinking of finding some of the places we have lived.

My first thought was to go to Japan.  I ended up finding a blog with pictures of the area we lived in Japan, Nagai, or Admiralty Heights.  It was wonderful!  Immediately, I was transported back in time.  Seeing the wide roads in the housing area that were actually airstrips for the Japanese airforce  in World War II.  We could see Mt. Fuji from our living room windows and our bedroom window.  That was our view each day, seeing the sun rise and the sun set with that magnificent mountain always in view.  Seeing the pictures brought back the memories of the people there.  Thanks to Facebook, we have been able to be in touch with one another again.

Finally, I realized that a year ago today we moved our furniture into this house.  I posted that picture and then said, I never want to move again.

As I thought about that, I chided myself, for being so adamant.  We do not know what the future holds and saying things so definitive puts a box around your life.  If I had not had a spirit of adventure 41 years ago, my life would have been so different.  I could not have written anything in this post.  For, my world view would have been vastly opposite of what it is now.  Each of our lives is an adventure and journey.   We all have scrapbooks in our minds filled with moments that our memories are made of.  The adhesive may be yellowing and lifting off of photos that are fading, but those memories are still clinging there.

I have been so blessed in this life.  Starting out from a small town in Northwestern Pennsylvania, I have traveled and met some incredible people along the way.  I have smelled things I could never had imagined.  I have seen sights I didn’t know existed.  I have been so blessed.

There is a quote from the movie Hook that is a conversation between the old Wendy and Peter that goes like this:

Granny Wendy: So… your adventures are over.

Peter Banning: Oh, no. To live… to live would be an awfully big adventure.

I have had an awfully big adventure and I am waiting to see what is next…  Thanks for stopping by today,  DAF (Cathi)

 

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A Blustery Day…

I love winter.  I really do.  I love the cold, the wind and whatever is thrown at us in precipitation.  Snow, rain, ice, it’s all wonderful.

Today is a blustery day.  Yes, I know, I live in the south.  It can’t be that blustery.  But, yes, it is a blustery day today.

I just came in from walking our dog.  The moon is bright in the clear sky.  The flags on the porches are all blowing straight out, like they have been starched stiff.  The wind is whipping around the cul-de-sac and down the hill (well, as much of a hill that can be found here in the Lowcountry).

As I walked up the hill, I thought how blustery it is.  I chuckled because I know there were times in my life that I would consider this weather a hot spell.  So, as I walked our little Shugo, I thought of the different places I have lived and the blustery days I have experienced.

Being born and raised in Northwestern Pennsylvania, I know what cold is.  I know what snow is.  I have fallen on ice walking to and from school, uphill, downhill, two miles along.

From there I went to Norfolk, VA.  We lived in a small cheap beach apartment the winter before we were transferred to Japan.  We would turn on the wall heating unit before heading to bed and wake up in the morning to see a mound of sand gathered on the floor around the heating unit, which was stone cold….  Youth and young love made me think this was wonderful!

In Japan we lived on a converted WWII Japanese airstrip.  We lived in occupation era Navy houses.  The view was incredible, Mt. Fuji and Sagami Wan (bay), but our house was one all by itself at the end of the runway and we had nothing in front of our house except open field.  The wind would whip up and buffet that little house and it would almost knock me over every time we left the house in the winter.  Of course, now it most likely wouldn’t move me at all, since I was young and skinny back then.

From Japan, we went to Maine.  Need I say more about knowing what cold is like?  When the temperature rose to  O degrees we thought it was spring!  I loved the winter in Maine and the other two seasons, July and August.  It is heaven on earth and I would move back there in a minute.  Snow, ice, wind chill and all.  It is truly God’s country.

From Maine we thawed out in San Diego.  I know you are thinking, no bluster there.  You are right for the most part, but, living there as long as I did, I saw some frost, and even a hint of snow.   And, we went for a 40 minute ride to the mountains to experience our wind and cold.  The last Valentine’s Day in California, hubby and I actually took a ride in the mountains and got snowed in up there.  It was cold and windy and very snowy outside the beautifully warm bed and breakfast we landed in.

So, I have decided blustery days happen everywhere.  Those days that chill you to the bone.  Where you come inside and think of warm drinks and warm jammies.  Tonight is like that and I am very content and happy that my hands got cold as did my cheeks while I walked our dog.   Who knows, I may decide he needs to go back out again, just so I can enjoy this winter feeling.

~ DAF

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Wishes…

When I had my first child, we didn’t have much to spend in the way of nursery items.  We bought a crib on the base and someone gave us an old changing table that only lasted until we moved back to the states where some friends bought us a new one.

The nursery  was part of the dining room, with the room dividers being the china hutch right beside the changing table.  The crib was up against one wall and the dining room table against the other.

I made a wall hanging above the crib out of burlap and then for the door of the pantry, which was half pantry, half baby closet, I wrote out lyrics to a song I had heard by Bill and Gloria Gaither.

I had long forgotten about the song until I was holding Little Miss one day while we were there.  I was looking at her and thinking about her and her life.  I had prayed over her, but it didn’t seem like enough to do.  Suddenly the words to this song came to mind.

So, today, I would like to share the words to this song on this blog.  They are lovely words that speak how I have really prayed for my daughters, their spouses, and now for my grandchildren.

I wish a strong and good conclusion to my daughter’s lives and I wish each word for my Little Man and Little Miss.  Enjoy.

“I Wish You”
I wish you some springtime,
Some “bird on the wing” time
For blooming and sending out shoots;
I wish you some test time,
Some winter and rest time
For growing and putting down roots.
I wish you some summer,
For you’re a becomer,
With blue skies and flowers and dew;
For there is a reason
God sends ev’ry season:
He’s planted His image in you.

I wish you some laughter,
Some “happy thereafter”
To give you a frame for your dreams;
But I wish you some sorrow,
Some rainy tomorrows,
Some clouds with some sun in between.
I wish you some crosses,
I wish you some losses,
For only in losing you win.
I wish you some growing,
I wish you some knowing,
There’s always a place to begin.

We’d like to collect you
And shield and protect you
And save you from hurts if we could;
But we must let you grow tall
To learn and to know all
That God has in mind for your good.
We never could own you,
For God only loaned you
To widen our world and our hearts.
So we wish you His freedom,
Knowing where He is leading;
There is nothing can tear us apart.

Lyrics by Gloria Gaither / Music by Bill Gaither / Copyright © 1977

Thanks for stopping by, DAF

 

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Sammy, Max and Sparky…

I am not a cat person.  When I was younger, I thought that maybe I was.  I worked for the Army Veterinary Corps for a few years while we were living in Japan.  It was a great job, I would do the office work typing up certificates during clinic hours and on off hours I worked as a scrub nurse, helping out during surgeries.  It was a job I just fell into and I loved it.  I got bit by a dog once.   It wasn’t bad, and it was a one time experience.  However, I received at least four cat bites a day.  After the first couple of weeks, I decided I may not be a cat person.  By the time I left that job, I knew I was not a cat person.  There is nothing wrong with cat people, most of my dearest friends are cat people.  I’m not though.

The friends we are staying with have cats.  Three of them.  Sammy, Max and Sparky.  I remind myself daily that I am not a cat person.  They are bothersome, I have memories of cat bites.

These three cats are all rescue cats.  Max was the last one to join the brood.  We heard that our friend’s son found him and brought him home until his friend came to pick him up.  Their son has been married for seven years now.  His friend still hasn’t shown up.  Max still has all his claws.  Max is vocal.  Max is weaseling his way into my heart.  He makes me smile.  But, I am not a cat person.

Sammy was found half starving.  He was brought in to get a good meal and when our friend’s daughter moved into her own place, Sammy was going to go with her.  She has been married for almost six years now.  She has two dogs and two cats, and yes, Sammy is not one of them.

Sparky I have known for seven years.  The friends we are staying with are a firefighting family.  One winter day their son was inspecting the fire engine.  He heard a faint cry.  He looked all over to see where the cry was coming from.  He found Sparky half-frozen into the wheel well of the fire engine.  It took several hours to free him and warm him up.  Thus his name, Sparky.    Sparky and I became friends several years ago.  I like his personality and his tenacity.  I tell him often that I am not a cat person.  He understands.

The cats live in the family rooms downstairs, they sometimes venture up to the main floor and have a stand-off with our Shugo.  The cats are leery of this dog.   Our dog would just like to play with them.  That’s why I am a dog person, they like to play.  The cats have nothing to do with him.  They arch their backs and growl at Shugo.  Shugo just whimpers and tries to get to them.  It can turn into a circus if we let it.  We don’t, and the cats are smart enough to retreat back downstairs.

So, this has been my life the past few weeks.  I talk with the cats, tell them I do not like cats and pet them to make certain they understand that although Sparky and I can be friends, I don’t have to like him.   I will feed and water them and care for them.  But, I am not a cat person.

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Belated Birthday Wishes…

Two days ago marked the 35th year of being a mother.  I cannot believe I have been a mother for that long.

Thirty seven years ago, I was told that I had a very slim chance of having children.  This news did not disturb me as I knew that I serve a God who can do the impossible.   I knew that He was able to give me children even if modern medicine did not think it possible.

Thirty five years ago I received the impossible from God.  Our sweet girl came into this world and the world has never been the same.  I am thankful it has never been the same.

She is a mixture of both her dad and me, but, I think she favors her dad more.  She has his wonderful brown eyes and her grandmother’s cheekbones.  She is tall and graceful.  Her hair is a mass of natural curls that have tangled all her life.  They used to be a cause of great frustration for me, but now, I think they are beautiful.

She has some of me in her also.  She snort laughs.  She has a temper. She trips over imaginary objects that suddenly appear in her path.   She is tenacious (yes, that also means stubborn).

Mostly, she is herself.  She has faced obstacles and has moved on.  She doesn’t know the definition of quit.  I am proud of her.

This week I have often paused and thought of the past thirty-five years.   I have seen much growth, in her and in me.  I have seen her grow from needing constant care, to growing up and away from me.  I have dried tears as an infant, a toddler, over skinned knees and skinned hearts.  We have cried together, in anger and in joy and just because.

So, happy birthday Sweetie.  You were an answer to prayer all those years ago, and today, you are still an answer to my prayers.    May this year hold all the blessings your heart can hold, and may the only tears that fall be tears of joy.

 

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Winters in the Past…

I have lived with many types of winter.  Each one is wonderful in itself, but my favorites have been the ones with snow and ice and gray skies.  I miss those winters.

Growing up in northwestern Pennsylvania, we had good winters.  Sometimes they would arrive early and stay late.  I can remember wearing winter coats under Halloween costumes and wearing snow boots with the costumes also.  We had snow and if we were lucky we had snow days where we could miss school and stay home and play outdoors.

When I married we moved to Norfolk, VA.  The winters there were a shock to my system.  First off, there was the smell of the sea air that attacked my senses. It was cold in a different way.  The gray skies were not the comforting skies that I grew up with .  The snow was more like a heavy frost and yet the city would come to a halt when there was snow.  I really did not like the experience of winter in Norfolk.

We moved overseas after living in Norfolk.  Mostly we did not see snow while living in Japan.  Although, there was one year where we did get a decent snowfall.  It was exciting.  I remember leaving the store after getting groceries and seeing snow flurries.  I was thrilled.  It continued to fall and accumulate.  We got about five inches and I was in heaven.  My best memory of that snowfall was having a friend who grew up in Hawaii call to ask me how to make a snowman.  She had two small children and wanted to take them out to play in the snow and she wasn’t certain how to make a snowman.  I stifled my laughter and asked if she knew how to make a snowball.  She replied that she did know how to do that.  I told her to make a snowball and roll it around until it was large enough to be the bottom, then to repeat the process two more times, making each ball a bit smaller.  She succeeded and was thrilled with her success.  Her children thought she was a genius and I still laugh at that.

From the land of not much snow we moved to Maine.   Maine was the perfect place for someone who loves winter.  I love Maine.  I loved the cold, the snow, the ice, the wind chill.  It was all wonderful.  I would move back in a minute.  But, alas, hubby is not as keen on snow as I am, so that’s not going to happen.

After Maine we lived in southern California for almost 27 years.  I learned to appreciate the winters there.  The winters appeared with a nuance.  There was a certain feel in the air and you knew winter had arrived.  Coats would appear and sweaters.  Sometimes we would actually need to put the coats on, most of the time we didn’t.   The mountains were a half hour from where we lived.  In the winter, we would get up, look outside towards the mountains.  Often hubby would say to me, “It looks like snow in the mountains.”   This would be followed by his taking a personal day off.  We would take our girls to school and head to the mountains to play.  We would drive around the snow,  have a late breakfast or early lunch up in the mountains and get back in time to pick the girls up from school with the tell-tale signs of leftover snow on the car.

Moving to the south we have had snow a couple of times.  The first year we were here we had three inches fall.  I was so excited!  The dog experienced it first hand and he fell in love with the white stuff also.  It didn’t last long, but, each year since I hold out hope for snow.  I look at the clouds and sniff the air.  The past week or so, it could have snowed, it smelled like it could and looked like it could, but, no snow for us.

Winter is one of my favorite seasons.  It is a time where you can dress warmly and snuggle under blankets.  It is a time that is refreshing and brisk.  I am enjoying this cold weather we are having.  I think on the winters of my life and am grateful for all the different types I have lived in.   What is your favorite winter memory?  DAF

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Winter Walking…

My mom died in 1966 in the fall.  That winter, walking to school was a chore.  My older sister at the time was a sophomore in high school, my younger sister was in fourth grade and I was in the sixth.

The three of us would walk together until my younger sister and I headed up a hill to our school and my older sister would continue to walk down to the high school.

I remember the walks to school, the early cold mornings, gray, icy, snowy.  I remember some of the conversations along the way.

It wasn’t until recently that I had a conversation with my older sister about those walks.  She mentioned that they were hard times for her.  She wanted to cheer us up as we walked.  She did a good job, since obviously, I don’t remember them being hard except for the cold weather.

One of the things she would do is sing.  The song that reminds me most of those times is ‘California Dreamin’ by the Mammas and the Pappas.  I hear that song today and I am transported to walking to school.  I can picture a bend in the road and I can remember every detail.

It’s amazing to me how music can transport you to times and seasons.  You feel, smell, think and remember with clarity where you were and what you were doing.  How you were feeling and what you were thinking.  I love that!

California Dreamin’ made me want to go to California.  I remember at that young age determining that I would make it one day across the country to that magical state.  I always pictured myself as a single girl in Los Angeles.  Living a glamor filled life and meeting one celebrity after another.

I did make it to California.  My first encounter to the state was San Francisco, where hubby and I spent four days before heading to Japan to live.  I fell in love with that city.  The hills, the water, the food.  I could still eat my way through San Francisco, enjoying each hill and view.

What I didn’t realize in my young dreaming days was that I would live in that magical state for almost 27 years.  It wouldn’t be a glamorous life as a single, but a loving life with children and a husband.  I saw some celebrities through the years and I met a baseball player who struck me dumb and all I could do was nod my head and smile.

While I had many adventures living there, I spend this winter day thankful for being where I am today.  I am thankful for my sister who kept her siblings going forward.  I am thankful for the memories that song gives me, how it ties my youthful past into my recent past.   I am thankful to be once more on the east coast of this great nation.

Music ties you to many things.   Thank you for talking a winter walk through my memories.  DAF

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Christmas Cookies…

I love cookies.  I love the smell of them while they are baking.  I love warm cookies out of the oven along with a cup of tea.  I love to eat cookies.  I don’t like baking cookies.  If I didn’t want my house to smell delicious I would never make them.

I have a love/hate feeling on Christmas baking.  There was a time when I loved the thought of making and rolling out and decorating sugar cookies.  The whole process was wonderful.  I looked forward to it all.  That was a long time ago.

When we lived in Japan, I taught English at a couple of schools in the area.  I taught the bulk of my classes at a small English school in a city that was several train stops away.  The Christmas I taught there, the interpreter told me that there would be parties the week before their winter break.  I was young.  Very young, in my early 20’s.  We had no children and I decided that, as a gift, from me, I would give each student a Christmas gift.  I made popcorn balls, bought Hershey candy bars(the large size), a candy cane, fudge, and made each student four decorated sugar cookies.   Each cookie was decorated nicely.  The trees were frosted with green icing, I put little ornaments on them and garland.  The angels had white wings with sugar glitter on them, their hair was piped on and they were beautiful.  Each cookie was different, but as perfect as I could make them.

Yes, I was insane!  That year cured me of any desire for the rest of my life to decorate Christmas cookies.  I made about 24 dozen cookies that Christmas.  That was just the sugar cookies.  I made other cookies for the house and parties and neighbors.

Of course, giving the students the goodies was  a total surprise not only to them, but to me.  I figured they would scarf them all down and it would be gone before I finished passing them out.  That’s what I always did in school parties.  But, these students were stunned.  They looked at their goodie bags like I had handed them gold.  They took out each item and oohed and aahed over them.  They showed each other the cookies and gently put them away.  They all questioned the popcorn balls and a few of them nibbled a bit on them, but, then rewrapped them and put them back.  That was their party.  They ate the normal things they had each brought, but, my donations were carefully taken home.  They were amazed, and to this day, some 37 years later, I can still remember their reaction.

That was the last year I decorated cookies.  I did a lifetime of decorating in one year.  I make sugar cookies, but I throw some colored sugar on them and they are done.

I wonder where the idea of baking cookies originated, anyone know?  I should google it, or something.  This year, I haven’t baked much.  I have done a batch of cookies, and hubby and I have had those, but, that will be it.   I am wondering, anyone out there, what do you bake for Christmas?  Do you do more candy than cookies, or is it a good mix?

Just some thoughts this week before Christmas Eve.  Thanks for stopping by, DAF

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When there is no tree….

Thirty five years ago, hubby and I were living in Japan.  We were waiting the arrival of our first child.  We were excited beyond words during that  time.
We were living in government quarters on an abandoned WWII Japanese airstrip.  The housing area was situated along two very long, wide roads which once were the runways for the Japanese planes.  Our house was situated at the end of the runways, the half circle area where the planes taxi from one strip to the other.  It was a beautiful place, as we had no neighbors, except the other side of our duplex.  There was a big open field in front of our house and looking out past the field, some farmlands and the bay that was below our area, was a magnificent view of Mt Fuji.  We were able to see this view from our living room and bedroom.  It is a view I will never forget.

The duplex we lived in was small.  It was a one bedroom unit.  We had a dining room where we usually put our Christmas tree.  That Christmas, 35 years ago we had no room in our dining room.  We had divided our dining room in half to make room for a crib and changing table.  It was crowded but cozy.   We decided to forgo all Christmas decorations, except for our nativity set.

We also decided to not exchange gifts, as we knew we would need money for the baby.  We were content with this decision.

A part of us missed the planning and shopping though.  I wondered how we would feel on Christmas day without the flourishes that go with the day.

What I found out is this….  and a part of the story of the Grinch confirms this to me.  When the day dawned, it was still Christmas.  There was something in the air that spoke Christmas.  The air is different on Christmas day.  It is special.  I don’t know what it is, but it is a holy mixture of awe, faith, giving, sprinkled with pine scent and candy canes.  At least that is how I see it.  It is like the Grinch who discovered that although he took everything away from the Who’s, they still celebrated.  They sang and they rejoiced, even in nothing.  This made the Grinch’s heart grow, and he obviously returned everything.

In the passing of these 35 years, I often remember that Christmas where there were no outward signs of Christmas in our house.  I remember that the decorations are nice, the presents are nice, but the true gift of Christmas is the celebration of Christ’s birth.  We have tried through the years to do something for someone else during the holidays.  Most of the time, it was just having someone over to share our meal.  This is a small gesture, but sometimes those are the moments that scream the loudest.

Today, I was able to have several outpourings of love given to me.  All have made me realize the love that is in the hearts of people.  My heart is glad and I am blessed.  I hope that this season you will be able to recognize the special scent in the air and experience an unexpected gift of love.  Thanks for stopping by.  DAF

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On Missing a Way of Life… 31 Days of Observing…

31 Days Observing  
This morning I spent some time reading posts on my Reader section.   There was a post from Adopting James titled “We Know Jack”  (http://adoptingjames.wordpress.com/2013/10/18/we-know-jack/).
It was about the movie “The Nightmare Before Christmas”  (Tim Burton’s 1993 movie).   It was a great post to read, but what it did was transport me to Disneyland.  I could see the decorations that grace the Haunted Mansion in the park from Halloween until the beginning of the year.  The music plays while waiting for the ride and all through the ride.  You walk around the park for the rest of your visit humming it.  Sometimes it is a duet with the other themes of rides, so that it can become a cacophony of music in your head.
After reading this post, I was immediately homesick for a drive up to Disneyland.  For 27 years I was able to drive to Disneyland.  It  was less than two hours away.  No gps or maps were needed, I got in the car and drove. I know my way there.
This got me thinking, always a bit dangerous.   I miss that way of life.  I miss the way I lived when I was in San Diego.  I never thought I would say that.  I was glad to leave the west coast and move east.  It was a dream I held for at least 27 years while living in California.
I miss being able to meet friends for a walk and either have coffee or a meal afterwards.  I miss shopping at the malls with all the good stores there.  I miss meeting our dear friends for coffee and or dinner and movies on Friday nights.  I miss the mountains and the apple pies and apple picking there.  I miss knowing my way around like the back of my hand, knowing that if I am not certain where I am, if I head toward the water, I will eventually find out where I am.  I miss real Mexican food, with real salsa.  I miss it all.
Now, that all seems nice, doesn’t it?  I have to confess that, while in San Diego, I missed Maine.  I missed the coast and the rocky shoreline.  I missed the snowstorms, I missed the little military housing community I lived in.  I missed my friends in my neighborhood.  I missed the lobsters and the blueberry pies.  I missed Mt Desert and Bar Harbor.  I missed it all.
Finding a pattern here?  In Maine, I missed Japan.  I missed seeing Mt Fuji out my windows.  I missed the excitement of living overseas.  I missed the food and the smells and the noise.  I missed riding my bicycle everywhere.  I missed living in early occupation housing with all its challenges.  I missed my friends.
Yes, this is my observation today.  Seasons change.  Not just outside in nature, but in our lives.  Change is inevitable.  We can’t help it.  It happens.  For our growth, for our lives, because we serve a God who knows what is the very best for us.
I have spent the past several months missing our old house here in Charleston.  It was beautiful.  The neighborhood was idyllic.  It was comforting and I love it.  Our new place, I am grateful for.  I am learning also, that there will be things that I will eventually miss about this place too.  The way the wind blows through the tress in the backyard.  The ugly pond (more like a drainage ditch), that is home to three alligators.  I never would have been able to watch the gators swim around like I do here.  I actually enjoy watching them.  One loves to swim all day long.  One almost frolics in the water and the largest one makes the theme song from Jaws run through my mind.
Yes, the autumn of this year is upon us.  It has brought with it a cooler temperature, changing and falling leaves and most importantly, a changing attitude in me.  This is another season of my life.  Not perfect.  Not ideal. But, time that I will grow to enjoy and appreciate.  A time of learning and discovering.
Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. (Ecclesiastes 3:11)
thank you for stopping by today.  I appreciate your visit.  DAF
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