It’s All Maya!

If Life is an illusion, then why do I keep banging my head against the wall?

Si la Vie est une illusion, pourquoi je n'arrête pas de me taper la tête sur les murs?

It’s All Maya! header image 3

Aguas Calientes, A Stepping-Stone To Machu Picchu

November 27th, 2016 · By Lynn

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Getting off the train, our first look at Aguas Calientes.

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The Statue of Inka with the symbolic condor and puma.

After a few days in Ollantaytambo, Patrick and I headed to Aguas Calientes. I had read that A.C. was a town that was under-whelming and overpriced. A place you had to be if you wanted to go to Machu Picchu, so I was prepared not to be impressed. Instead, I found the small town charming. I think a lot had to do with the scenery and knowing that we had traveled all this way to see Machu Picchu, and we were now at the foot of it. The energy and excitement was palpable for those of us who hadn’t reached our destination yet, but we knew it was hovering above us not far away.

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Patrick ready to leave on the PeruRail to Machu Picchu.

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Waiting to purchase my bus ticket.

There are two trains that take you to Aguas Calientes, or as the town is now called Machupicchu Pueblo, either PeruRail or Inca Rail. Patrick and I opted for the first. Train tickets are best bought ahead of time online to play it safe, just like tickets for Machu Picchu. The MP tickets can be printed out at home, but even though you purchase your train tickets online, you have to pick them up at different locations in Peru. Patrick and I got ours at the station in Ollantaytambo.

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Great view all around.

We had a quick lunch of beef empanadas and a pisco sour before getting on the train. The seats were comfortable and the large windows, even on the ceiling, were perfect so you didn’t miss any of the spectacular Andes Mountaintops as you traveled through the countryside. The change of scenery from the Sacred Valley to the start of the lush Amazonian jungles was interesting to see as well.

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Mmm! Almost as good as Mexican pepitas.

The train personnel wore uniforms much like you see on airlines and they too came down the aisle serving a small snack during the trip. We had tea and cookies on our way to A.C. and juice and a bag of choclo (big roasted Peruvian corn) on our way back to Olly.

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Patrick comparing noses.

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Now that’s a cute tourist information stand…if only someone were there to talk to.

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So this is where we’ll catch our bus.

We had booked a hotel right near the train/bus stop so we could be ready to catch the first bus up to Machu Picchu at 4 a.m. We left our bags in our room and went straight to the bus stop to buy our tickets. It was the only thing we couldn’t purchase ahead of time online. Afterwards, we wandered the streets of this small pueblo. The population is only 1600 and everyone lives off the tourist trade, but when you have millions of people coming through every year to visit Machu Picchu, why not?

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Should we climb up or go back down?

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The Plaza de Armas.

Patrick and I had our worst meal and one of our best meals in Peru in Aguas Calientes. We had heard about a restaurant called the Tree House. It’s not really in a tree house, but you have to climb up the street to the Plaza de Armas and then climb some more to get to it. When we did, we were disappointed to see that the menu was more international than Peruvian. We decided to go somewhere else instead. Unfortunately, elsewhere was not a good choice and we would’ve probably been better off at the Tree House.

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Hmm, maybe this empty restaurant is trying to tell us something.

It was happy hour and all the restaurants were offering two pisco sours for the price of one. What more could anyone ask for, right? Well, a lot more than what we got. The restaurant we ended up at looked inviting, but the food was bland and the service was horrible. We should’ve known what was coming when we ordered our pisco sours and were given all four at one time. The first drink was great, but the second one was no longer chilled and the ice had watered down our drink, so it wasn’t as good as the first.

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I forgot what kind of soup this was. Oh, right – bland soup.

We started off with a soup and were still eating when the waitress arrived with our main course. She had both our dishes in her hands and although she could’ve set them down at the empty table next to ours, I had to help her by making room for them at ours. The same thing happened with dessert. If you’re in a hurry, this is the place to be, but Patrick and I wanted a nice leisurely dinner. The waitress, however, wasn’t having any of it. I could understand if the place was packed and she wanted to turn the tables as quickly as possible, but the restaurant was almost empty. When we got the bill, there was a 15% service charge which most Peruvian restaurants don’t include. No surprise they would do that, from the service we got, I doubt if anyone would leave them a tip otherwise.

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Great view, great service, and most of all, great food.

The next day in Aguas Calientes after an entire morning and afternoon visiting Machu Picchu (more about that in my next post) we were exhausted. Our train back to Ollantaytambo wasn’t until the evening. We were tired and hungry and we didn’t care where we ate. We stopped at the first restaurant we saw and ended up having a wonderful meal. The view of the mountains and river was great and the food and service was excellent.

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Mmm! My enchilada and gucamole was as good to eat as it looked.

Their menu was both Peruvian and Mexican. I decided to try the enchiladas for my main course and I wasn’t disappointed. I didn’t even need a frozen margarita, I was more than happy with a chilled pisco sour. Patrick went for a Peruvian dish (he can’t remember what he ordered) but he too was a happy camper.

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Beautiful colors of Peru.

Dinner over, it was time to catch our train back to Ollantaytambo and thanks to the Red Headed Traveler (you can read more about it on her blog) we had no trouble finding the train station. No one mentions that you don’t catch the train back at the same place as you arrived. Instead, you have to go through the entire marketplace to get to the station platform for your return trip. The market is filled with all kinds of crafts, jewelry, and souvenirs so you can do your last minute shopping before you catch your train. Hmm.

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Yes, there’s a boulangerie de Paris in Aguas Calientes and the owner is from Normandie!

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A little girl and her dog going to mass.

Maya Muses: All in all, I think if you go to Aguas Calientes with an open mind, you’ll have a great time. Just sit back and enjoy the locals and the scenery.

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Modern apartments and spectacular view in Aguas Calientes/Machupicchu Pueblo.

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Peru Here We Come!

November 10th, 2016 · By Lynn

 

Part One: Ollantaytambo

First of all, let me say, this was the best trip I had ever taken. The reason wasn’t only the gorgeous scenery of the Andes Mountains, or our lifelong dream of seeing Machu Picchu, but in large part it was due to the people of Peru. They were the nicest people I’ve ever met anywhere in the world. For me, that’s saying a lot when you know how much I’ve traveled.

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My photos don’t do the mountains justice.

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The sky changes constantly.

During the two weeks in Peru, we stopped hundreds of people asking for directions, asking if they could take our picture (No selfie sticks for us!) asking where we could find x, y, or z, talking to waiters, shopkeepers, bus drivers, the police on the street, etc., and through it all, every last one of them went out of their way and over and beyond the help we were asking for. If they didn’t know the answer, they stopped someone else on the street, or they called a friend on the phone and asked them if they knew.

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Patrick hanging out with the locals.

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Did we really invite you to the wedding or are the two of you wedding crashers?

On the bus in Lima one day, I asked a woman about a certain church we wanted to see, she didn’t know, but before long we had a conversation going with 6 or 7 people all trying to help. A gentleman got on his phone and called a friend to find out where the church was located. The consensus was it wasn’t in a good neighborhood and everyone suggested we get off the bus and take a taxi there. When we got off, a woman got off with us and told us she would get a taxi for us so we wouldn’t be overcharged. Things like  this happened over and over during our trip.

But, let me go back and start at the beginning. It took Patrick and I three plane rides and a 2 hour taxi ride to reach our destination of Ollantaytambo. We flew from Paris to Madrid where we had a long layover, which gave us the opportunity to visit with one of my oldest and dearest friends. Years ago, I lived in Madrid, so it was nice to be back.

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Arriving at the airport in Madrid.

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The Andes Mountains coming into view.

From Madrid we flew to Lima and from Lima to Cusco. Most people stay in Cusco to acclimatize to the altitude, but that’s a no-no. Cusco is 11,152 ft. (3,399 m.) above sea level and many people get altitude sickness. The best thing when traveling to Peru and to the Mecca of South America, Machu Picchu, is to go straight to the Sacred Valley and there’s no better place to stay than Ollantaytambo.

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The Sacred Valley seen from the ruins in Ollantaytambo.

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Walking around the Inca ruins.

The elevation in Ollantaytambo is 9,160 ft. (2,792 m.) so it’s a little better to adapt to the altitude than in Cusco. This beautiful little town hidden away in the Sacred Valley was our favorite place in all of Peru. Most people go to Machu Picchu from Cusco, but oh what you’re missing if you do!

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A few ladies and a child hanging out at the local marketplace.

Olly with its mountains and ruins, its people and town square, its children and dogs that play in the streets (more about the dogs later) is all that and more. We fell in love with this place from the moment we arrived, but let me backtrack a little once again.

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The main square in Ollantaytambo.

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Kids running on their way to school.

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Bienvenidos a Cusco!

Before arriving in Olly, our taxi driver who picked us up at the Cusco Airport asked us if we wanted to stop and visit the town of Chincheros. We were tired, but not tired enough to pass up the opportunity of this little detour. We were taken to a market that sells handwoven crafts (purses, scarves, shawls, gloves, etc.,) made from alpacas.

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The beautiful color fabrics of Peru.

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All the colors are made from natural materials.

Notice the guinea pigs in their little pink house. They’re not pets, for Peruvians they’re one of their favorite things to eat!

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Two alpacas hanging out just so you don’t think someone is pulling the alpaca over your eyes.

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Patrick trying on a scarf/hat for two. Can you picture us wearing that in Paris?

Let me just say, everyone tells you everything is handmade. That may be true, but I honestly could not tell the difference from the machine made products sold all over Peru (which happen to be half price) than those that are handmade in Chincheros, so buyer beware. That said, we did leave with a bunch of gifts for family and friends in tow.

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We continued on our way enjoying the spectacular view.

We arrived in Olly 32 hours after leaving Paris. Yes, we were exhausted, but the breathtaking scenery made us forget all about how tired we were. We got to our Airbnb located on a small side street not far from the marketplace. Our host, welcomed us with a hot cup of coca tea. He said it would help with altitude sickness, but we were lucky and never experienced any problems during our trip.

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View from our Airbnb.

We didn’t want to waste any time, so we dropped off our bags and went out to discover our little town. We had a late lunch at one of the local restaurants on the main square. Patrick ordered a medium bottle of Peruvian beer, large by anyone else’s standards.

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The ruins visible in the distance.

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Lunch at the little restaurant on the square.

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Mmm, my Pisco Sour!

I got my first taste of a Pisco Sour, their national drink. Believe me, it wouldn’t be my last. To be honest, I drank at least two or three of them every day while in Peru. Step aside frozen margaritas and Kir royals, my new favorite drink is the Pisco Sour.

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Bright colors everywhere, but red is the color of Peru.

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Lovely cobblestoned streets.

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Pinkuylluna storehouses. The Incas sure didn’t want just anyone getting to them.

Lunch revived us and we wandered around the tiny cobbled stoned streets and ended up climbing up to Pinkuylluna to see the Inca storehouses which was on our list of things to do. Little did we know this would be the first of many climbs during our stay in Peru.

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“Patrick, are you sure you want to go up there?”

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“Yeah, look it’s a piece of cake.”

We had a wonderful view of the valley, the ruins, and Ollantaytambo.

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Lovely, but the sun was starting to go behind the mountain.

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“Are you sure you want to go higher?”

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“Yep, we have to see the storehouses, don’t we?”

Although it was still early, Patrick and I were still on Paris time, so by six in the evening we decided to shower and rest a bit before dinner. The only thing was, it was 1 a.m. in Paris and we were exhausted. We fell asleep almost immediately.

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Our room was nice and cozy.

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The view from our window.

We didn’t wake up until early the next morning. The sun was shining, as I pulled back the curtains…

Maya Muses: We definitely weren’t in Paris any longer!

Photo Credits: All personal photos

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Ten Quotes For Writers Taken From Janet Reid’s Blog

September 27th, 2016 · By Lynn

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Janet is much more than a literary agent working at New Leaf Literary in NYC. She moonlights as the QueryShark and is a champion for writers traveling on this arduous road toward publication. Among her followers, and there are many, she’s also known as the QOTKU (Queen of the Known Universe). A title well deserved. No doubt she would be queen if the universe was made up of writers and plenty of alcohol.

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I’ve been following Janet’s blog for years now. It’s part of my daily routine like writing and drinking wine and if you’re serious about being published, then go visit her blog. This extraordinary lady has a new post every single day! What follows are ten quotes by Janet Reid, agent extraordinaire. (French accent, please.)

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1. Great art can often be accompanied by an unquiet mind.

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2. Really good novels don’t have everything on the page. Really good novels are like spiderwebs: the filaments, words, are important, but the space they create, the unspoken is what makes it beautiful.

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3. Every writer works at their own pace.

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4. So often writers add adjectives thinking they’re making things sound better, more descriptive, but forgetting that adjectives are like salt. A few good grains make the pasta perfect. Too much and you’re tossing the noodles and starting over.

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5. Rushed manuscripts are often rejected manuscripts.

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6. Sure you want to have correct syntax and spelling, but more important than that is you want to have writing that makes people feel things…Good writing evokes powerful emotion. Good grammar evokes satisfaction. Know and respect their roles. They are not the same thing.

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7. It’s a novel. It’s FICTION. You get to make it all up. You’d no more limit yourself to “what’s true” in a novel than you’d limit yourself to “what’s real” in a paranormal romance.

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8. You can query too soon; you cannot query too late.

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9. Errors are better than inaction.

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10. All the words in the query; which ones you choose and how you string them together: that’s YOUR voice…And it’s not just diction (word choice) it’s the rhythm of the sentence…That’s what you’re trying for. That’s why you revise. Voice is found in revision. It’s found in saying the sentences out loud. It’s found in the first million words of practice. It’s found in knowing the rules so you can break them with elegance and beauty. It’s found in knowing a lot of lovely wonderful words so you use the perfect word, not the almost-right word, or worse: the over-used word…Voice is who you are. Not who your characters are.

Maya Muses: Janet is a wonderful writer herself and I’ve told her a number of times in the comment section of her blog she should write a book. She’s also talented in writing humorous dialogue. If you want to read some of Janet’s hilarious misadventures with the Duchess of Yowl (a very hoity-toity cat) go over to her Facebook page. I guarantee you’ll laugh.

No, don’t thank me, if we ever meet up, a frozen margarita or two (no salt) will do.

Photo Credits:

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The Tale of TrumpelThinskin

August 4th, 2016 · By Lynn

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Once upon a time there was a man who lived in a tall glass tower in a large kingdom. This man believed he was the greatest and he surrounded himself with gold and marble and many fine luxuries, but the man was unhappy. He was bored and when he was bored everyone around him suffered, none more than his servants.

One really bad day, his most faithful manservant said, “Why not become the ruler of the kingdom, then you won’t have time to be bored?”

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I don’t get it, I’m already great. And see my hand, big I tell you, big.

The man thought about this, but he didn’t want to rule the kingdom. He knew nothing about it. But, the seed had been planted and he liked the idea of winning, of being number one in all the land. So on a whim, the man threw his hat into the ring.

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“I won’t win,” he told the manservant. “How could I possibly beat all those statesmen who know what they’re doing and I haven’t a clue? Still, it’ll be interesting to see how far I can go.”

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Darling, you can rule and I’ll be your speech writer.

The man began his campaign and the servants were happy the man was occupied, especially his wife, who was nothing more than a servant herself, but with benefits. What the man, however, didn’t see coming was the people in his kingdom were taking him seriously. They began to rally around him, to admire him. For the first time, people who weren’t paid to do so, were listening to him. This stroked the man’s inflated ego to no end.

The man began to realize he could win; he could become the ruler of this kingdom. And because the man was a narcissist this delighted him, but the man didn’t really want the task. His life had been one of ease where people served him and not he the people. So the idea of winning frightened him and he summoned his faithful servant.

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They’re like sheep.

“I’m in a bind. Yes, I’m in a bind.” The man told his servant. “The masses are like sheep, like sheep. They don’t think, they follow, and there’s enough of them to elect me. What should I do? What should I do?” The man loved the sound of his own voice and therefore often repeated what he had already said.

“Do you want to rule the kingdom or don’t you?” his manservant asked.

“No! Well, yes…well, no? I don’t know!” The man thought about all the responsibilities awaiting him if he did win and he thought about all the leisure time on the golf course he would miss. “No, I don’t want to be the ruler. What am I to do?”

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The servant smiled. “It’s simple, sire, show them who you truly are. Tell them what you really think. Don’t hold back. Surely, that will stop the masses from supporting you when they know your true heart.

“Brilliant!” the man said. “Brilliant

And so the man gave speeches and did his best to turn the people against him:

1. “Part of the beauty of me is that I’m very rich.”
2. “The point is, you can never be too greedy.”
3. “What do I know about it? All I know is what’s on the internet.”
4. “It’s freezing and snowing in New York – we need global warming!”
5. “I alone can fix it.”
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6. “Laziness is a trait in blacks.”
7. “I know nothing about David Duke; I know nothing about white supremacists.”
8. “He’s not a war hero. He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”
9. “I always wanted to get the Purple Heart. This was much easier.
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10. (On foreign policy.) “I’m speaking with myself, number one, because I have a very good brain and I’ve said a lot of things.”
11. “Why can’t we use nuclear weapons?”
12. “And Brexit? Your position?”
“Huh?”
“Brexit.”
“Hmm.”
13. (Asked if he would start a war with China.) “Who knows?”
14. “Vladimir Putin is not going into Ukraine, OK, just so you understand. He’s not gonna go into Ukraine, all right?
15. “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending the best. They’re sending people that have lots of problems…They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
16. “I will build a great wall – and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me – and I’ll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great, great wall on our southern border, and I will make Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words.”
17. “I’ve been treated very unfairly by this judge. Now, this judge is of Mexican heritage. I’m building a wall, OK? I’m building a wall.”
18. “Happy Cinco de Mayo! The best taco bowls are made in Trump Tower Grill. I love Hispanics!”
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19. “(I) Donald J Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States, until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.”
20. “…I was down there and I watched our police and our firemen down at 7/11, down at the World Trade Center right after it came down.
21. “I watched when the World Trade Center came tumbling down. And I watched in Jersey City, New Jersey, where thousands and thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down. Thousands of people were cheering.”
22. “I do know what to do and I would know how to bring ISIS to the table or, beyond that, defeat ISIS very quickly. And I’m not gonna tell you what it is…”
23. “I would bring back waterboarding and I’d bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding.”
24. “The other thing with the terrorists is you have to take out their families, when you get these terrorists, you have to take out their families.”
25. “Torture works, OK folks?”
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26. “Women who seek abortions should be punished.”
27. “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her — wherever. ”
28. “Look at that face. Would anyone vote for that?”
29. “You know, it really doesn’t matter what the media write as long as you’ve got a young and beautiful piece of ass.”
30, “If Ivanka weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her.”
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31. “How stupid are the people of Iowa?”
32. “We won with poorly educated. I love the poorly educated.”
33. “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.”

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What I say is what I say.

Still, the more outrageous the man became, the more the people wanted him. The megalomaniac part of the man got caught up in the whirlwind and now he really did want to rule the kingdom.

But have no fear, only half of the kingdom was blinded by the man. The other half was just as unhappy with the maiden who had risen up unfairly and had slain a knight in shining armor.

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Recount, I demand a recount. Don’t you get it, there was no contest. You lost before you even began.

The people of the kingdom were saddened. What choice did they have for a ruler? A thin skinned man who could blow up the entire kingdom, or a lady they couldn’t trust? With heavy hearts they chose the maiden who was the lesser of two evils, but two evils nonetheless.

And so, the people of the kingdom, without a truly beloved leader, were destined to not live happily ever after for the next four years. (…and maybe longer.)

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Could it get any worse than 2016? Yes, it can.

Maya Muses: The End.

Photos Credits: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

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What’s Going On?

July 15th, 2016 · By Lynn

A beautiful rendition to the 1971 song, What’s Going On (sung by Marvin Gaye back then) that talked about all the problems that were going on in the world. Unfortunately, it’s even more fitting today in 2016. (Lyrics at the end of my post.)

What’s going on? It’s a question I keep asking myself more and more. Why are we going from bad to worse? How did we, as a human race, get to the point where we kill people by any means? Where we shoot, bomb, crash a plane, use a truck to run over and kill people who were doing nothing wrong. People who were just doing their jobs, journalists writing and poking fun, people having a good time at a rock concert and dancing, or people on their way home after watching fireworks, celebrating their independence. Why are people being killed simply because they’re black, a minority, have a different religious belief, gay, an officer…a child. My God, what is going on?

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Yesterday, Patrick and I went to watch the fireworks at the Eiffel Tower. There were over 400,000 people sitting on the grass at the Champ-de-Mars listening to a concert and waiting for the firework display. There was a moment while I was sitting there that I thought, how easy it would be for a terrorist to blow himself up and kill hundreds of people. I didn’t dwell on it, but the thought crossed my mind.

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When we got home last night, we saw the news and what was happening in Nice. Ten children were killed among the 84 dead and over 200 injured; how more innocent can you get than a child? Tonight as I write this post, there’s a military coup going on in Turkey. Every day there’s more and more upheaval, or does it just seem that way to me?

Years ago we thought things were bad: political assassinations, the Vietnam War, fighting for La Raza (the people), for civil rights that should’ve been rightly given — not fought for. Our parents said their times were worse: the Depression, the Holocaust, WWII. Growing up, we were taught the future would be brighter and better for us than the lives our parents lived. The same was true for them with their parents, but what about young kids today? What kind of life or future awaits them when an evil cancer that began on September 11, 2001 has slowly festered over our entire planet? Will the young live better lives in the future? I hope so, because what we’re witnessing is a world that’s becoming a sad and scary place.

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Maya Muses: Even so, I refuse to be afraid to live, refuse to not go about my life as I choose without fear that something bad can happen, because to do so would mean I am no longer living my life, no longer free. I hope everyone else is doing the same. We have to keep the faith that things will get better.

What’s Going On

Marvin Gaye

Mother, mother
There’s too many of you crying
Brother, brother, brother
There’s far too many of you dying
You know we’ve got to find a way
To bring some lovin’ here today, eheh

Father, father
We don’t need to escalate
You see, war is not the answer
For only love can conquer hate
You know we’ve got to find a way
To bring some lovin’ here today, oh oh oh

Picket lines and picket signs
Don’t punish me with brutality
Talk to me, so you can see
Oh, what’s going on
What’s going on
Yeah, what’s going on
Ah, what’s going on

Father, father, everybody thinks we’re wrong
Oh, but who are they to judge us
Simply ’cause our hair is long
Oh, you know we’ve got to find a way
To bring some understanding here today
Oh oh oh

Picket lines and picket signs
Don’t punish me with brutality
C’mon talk to me
So you can see
What’s going on
Yeah, what’s going on
Tell me what’s going on
I’ll tell you what’s going on, ooh ooo ooo ooo

Photo Credits: 1, 2, 3

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I Admit I’m Addicted To The Two Cs – Crack Cocaine? No, Candy Crush!

July 10th, 2016 · By Lynn

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I can’t stop playing.

Is there a rehab where I can slowly withdraw? Or a Candy Crush Anonymous where I can stand up and say, “Yes, I’m addicted.” I don’t think so, but if there were I’m sure Patrick would’ve sent me to one of those places by now.

The whole addiction came about slowly. In the beginning I would play my five lives and if I didn’t pass a level, or my five lives were used up, it didn’t matter. I would wait a day or two before trying again. Back then, there were less boosters available so it was harder to advance. Once a day was all you could spin on the Booster Wheel and all you got was one bonus. Today, in addition to the wheel, there are Treasure Chests, 3 or 5 in One, Sugar Drops and more.

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That pot at the end of the rainbow is pure gold.

Candy Crush is the most popular app game played in the world. Over half a billion people have downloaded it and 93 million people play every day on every continent in the world, even Antarctica. King earns over $850,000 a day, over a billion a year!

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They haven’t gotten a penny from me.

That said, if more players were like me, they would be out of luck. I’ve reached their final level several times. Right now I’m on level # 1686 (there are 2515 levels at the moment) and I’m proud to say I have not spent one single penny on the game. Oh, there have been times when I was frustrated on a hard level and came close to winning with just one more jelly or fruit to get rid of, but I ran out of moves. Still, I wasn’t about to spend 99 cents to finish off the game. Why, what’s 99 cents, you ask? My thinking was, if I did that, it would become a habit…a very bad habit.

The only time I play is in the evening when Patrick and I watch television and it depends on what we’re watching. That’s reasonable, don’t you think? (Patrick, of course, has a different opinion.) He has a hard time understanding how I can multitask, but I tell him I don’t need to watch the TV screen every second when we’re watching a news channel or a documentary, I can do both. It’s one of those women are from Venus and men from Mars thing.

Okay, to be perfectly honest, that last paragraph may not be completely true. I do play if I’m in the waiting room at the doctor’s office, or I’ll play when I’m standing in a long line at the grocery store. What can I say? It makes time go by so much faster.

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I blame it on these primary and secondary colors.

Maya Muses: Thanks to me, I’m not the only one addicted in my family. Oh no, I had to drag my (soon to be) 94 year old mother down with me. Just two days ago she told me over the phone that something was wrong and she had to wait thousands of minutes before she could play another game.

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Mum playing Candy Crush on her iPad.

I had my brother fix that glitch right away and then he started laughing.

I said, “What’s going on?”

Bob said, “Mum forgot all about you being on the phone, she’s already playing her Candy Crush.”

Oh well, there are far worse things to be addicted to.

Photo Credits: Google Images and Personal Photos

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Strolling Along The Flooded Seine

June 7th, 2016 · By Lynn

When Patrick and I decided to take a walk along the Seine this past weekend, we weren’t the only ones who wanted to see how high the Seine had risen. Half of Paris was out taking photos.

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People standing on the Pont au Double.

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And watching le Zouave du pont de l’Alma.

Bridge after bridge, there were people looking at the river. The last time it had flooded was in 1982. I remember going to a party on a péniche back then and the only way to get there was to take a small boat from the quai to get on board.

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Still, flooding this year and and the one 34 years ago were nothing in comparison to the Great Flood of 1910.

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Traffic signs almost immersed in water.

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Why is everyone on the other side of the bridge?

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Patrick was more interested in things being sold by the bouquiniste.

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Do they need a boat to get to the boat? I think so.

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Those weeping willows and other trees used to be above ground…

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…like this.

In all the years I’ve lived in Paris, I can’t remember a crazier year as far as the weather goes. We went from winter to summer without spring. You have to feel for the tourists who’ve come these past few months imagining springlike weather only to find it cold and raining day after day.

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I wonder how long before I can sit under that lamppost again?

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The sun trying to peak out and the Eiffel Tower barely visible in the background.

All during our stroll and taking photos, it was gray and cloudy, not the best scenario for snapping pictures. Then when we were leaving to go have a drink at one of our favorite cafés, wouldn’t you know it, the sun decided to make an appearance.

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Maya Muses: I wasn’t about to go back and snap more photos, not when it was time to sit and have a before dinner drink. I know where my priorities lie.

Photo Credits: Personal Photos, le Zouave, and le Zouave 1910.

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Emoji Babies

May 13th, 2016 · By Lynn

Maya Muses: This video is too cute not to share. Enjoy!

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Where The Hell Is Matt? Here Dancing With Us!

April 10th, 2016 · By Lynn

 

Before leaving for our wonderful week in Uzès, Patrick and I went to dance with Matt Harding during his 2016 world tour. Matt had emailed me a week earlier to let me know he was going to be in Paris — one day only. He had chosen four sites around Paris: La Défense, Montmartre, Bellville, and La République.

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Patrick using his selfie stick for the first time.

Patrick and I decided to go to La Défense. We arrived a half an hour early hoping there wouldn’t be a large crowd. In some cities there had been so many people in the video you couldn’t see anyone. That’s why I decided to wear my white knitted hat so I could be seen. Or, at least, so I could see where I was when I looked back at the video. Patrick decided to put on his Pittsburgh Steelers cap. When we got there we saw a small group of ten people standing around.

Right away we knew this was the group who had come to dance with Matt. There was a guy dressed up in a blue dog suit and a girl with a peach tutu on even though the weather was cold. We looked at each other and didn’t have to say a word, we knew what the other was thinking. There goes our smart idea of him wearing a Steelers cap and me a white hat so we could stand out.

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Matt getting organized.

Matt arrived at noon on the dot with his videographer. He had matured in the eleven years since he filmed his first video. He was a lot taller and slimmer than I had imagined. He was around 6’2″ and a really nice guy. By this time our little group had doubled. It was lunch time and a guy stopped and asked Patrick what was going on. Patrick told him we were going to dance with a guy who had made his crazy dance famous on YouTube. The guy’s eyes grew big, “Matt, c’est Matt?” He was thrilled he had stumbled upon the scene and he could dance with Matt.

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Let’s see, let’s see!

By this time we had doubled in size once again and were now around forty people in all. Matt told us, “I didn’t set the bar very high when it comes to dancing, so do your own thing.” They videoed us moving around trying to imitate him and then we did a little choreographed number as well. Before we knew it, the videographer said it was a wrap.

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Oh, there I am.

Maya Muses: Matt hung around afterwards so people could take a video and photos with him. Patrick and I are glad we did. All in all, it was great fun. I couldn’t stop laughing and looked like a fool, but I didn’t care. I had a great time.

Now we have our fingers crossed he’ll choose the video we’re in to put on his main 2016 world tour.

Photo Credits: Personal photos and video

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A Food Lover’s Week With Cook’n With Class Uzès

April 1st, 2016 · By Lynn

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The Cook’n With Class school in Uzès

Patrick and I recently spent a week in Uzès with Cook’n With Class and what a week it was. Imagine spending seven days in the south of France with great food & wine, good company, beautiful surroundings, fun and instructive classes, and plenty of entertaining and extra-curricular activities. Yes, they were all part of our week and more.

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Getting ready to start the day.

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Are you ready? Paulina and I are about to take off on a tour of Uzès with the school’s scooter.

On Sunday, Patrick and I took a train from Paris to Nîmes in the morning and 3 hours later we had a taxi waiting to drive us to Uzès, a lovely little town tucked away in the Languedoc region of France. There were four of us: Tara, a Canadian girl, Jake, a reporter originally from Texas, Patrick and moi. We were taken to Les Olivettes, a lovely bed & breakfast hidden in the countryside just minutes outside of town.

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The view from my window.

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Our home for the week.

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Heated swimming pool, but it was still cold outside.

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Our lovely room.

After being shown to our rooms, Patrick and I rested a bit before getting ready for the cocktail party that evening to meet the other students. Kat, a landscaper from Carmel, California was driving in from Marseille and Cat, a blogger who had a wonderful Irish brogue, was flying in from London.

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My own private library/sitting room.

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Getting ready for the cocktail party.

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Tara, Kat, Jake, Me, and Cat (pronounced Kit).

Each morning we began our day early. Breakfast started at 8:30 and the table was set with freshly baked croissants, pain au chocolat, nut bread, homemade fig jam, preserves, yogarts, ham and cheese, and a wide selection of teas and freshly brewed coffee. Who could resist? Not I.

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The bread is rising.

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How many hands does it take to make a baguette? Four if you’re just learning.

We were then picked up and taken to the Cook n’ With Class school located in gorgeous surroundings near vineyards and olive groves. A small museum and other specialty shops are also nearby the school.

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Poached pears in wine anyone?

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Voilà, lunch is served.

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Kat seems to be having way too much fun deboning that rabbit.

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This much wine, chef?

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No, this much.

Classes were always hands on as we measured, chopped, and prepped our lunch menu each day. The time went by quickly as both chefs, Eric and Patrick, were amusing and made each class not only a learning experience, but fun and relaxed as well. Afterwards when all the morning work was done, we were rewarded for our labor. Yes, that means we got to sit down and enjoy what we made. The food, cheeses, wines, and desserts were heavenly and there were moments of pure food bliss.

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Preparing salmon tarts.

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Mmm, now the best part, eating it.

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Come on, whip that cream.

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Piping macarons.

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Baking, then eating. Aren’t they done yet?

Eric and Yetunde who run the cooking school had arranged for other activities as well, so there was always something for us to do. Our visits included a trip to the marketplace, a vineyard, an olive factory, and a local farm. That in itself would’ve been more than enough.

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Ready to attack the marketplace.

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First stop, cheese.

But we were also taken to the Pont du Gard, an almost 2000 year old aqueduct, for a picnic and what better way to go than by a horse-drawn carriage. The view was spectacular.

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Our horse-drawn carriage.

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But let’s have some wine first.

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Preston holding on tight to the food.

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Now that’s a picnic basket!

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Everyone get settled and look this way…

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…now here’s the view. Oh yeah, and the Pont du Gard looks pretty good too.

There was a food & wine pairing evening with a sommelier. A six course dinner with 7 different wines. One of the wines was a Maury, Legend Vintage 1929. It was not only a pleasure to taste this sweet dessert wine, it was also a humbling experience to be able to drink a wine 87 years old.

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What course are we on again?

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Our 87 year old wine.

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Our bottle was #48 in a limited production of 658.

At the end of the week, Eric and Yetunde organized a cocktail reception for everyone with gypsy music. If you love the Gipsy Kings, you would not have been disappointed. (It was all in the family, the young guitarist in the group happens to be Manitas de Plata’s grandson.) Patrick somehow included himself as the newest member of the group because he grabbed a pot from the kitchen and joined the musicians in a song. It was truly a fun and crazy evening.

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Patrick no longer a chef; now a member of a gypsy band.

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Impossible to sit still, everyone was dancing.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the evening we dined at a one-star Michelin restaurant called La Table d’Uzès. The chef, Oscar Garcia, outdid himself. The 6 course dinner with champagne and 2 desserts (well 3, but who’s counting) were out of this world. Yes I thought I had died and gone to food heaven.

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La Table d’Uzès, a Michelin star restaurant.

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A wonderful evening of fine dining.

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The lamb was exquisite.

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Our first dessert was served.

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And because one dessert wasn’t enough, our second dessert.

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We finished off our dinner with an espresso or tea, so why not a little confiseries? Or what I call my little third dessert.

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Yummy!

Maya Muses: All in all, it was an amazing week and yet we did have time to relax by an open fire in the evenings and just chat with the other food lovers on this journey with us. If you ever have the chance to take this food experience, I absolutely recommend it. You won’t be disappointed. Just make sure you bring stretchy clothes because you will put on a few pounds. I did, but it was worth it. And now a strict diet to lose that kilo and a half that so ungraciously decided to join me on my adventure.

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Enjoying a nice fire in the evening.

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Good food, good wine, good company, what more can you ask for?

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Patrick taking his time tying his shoes. We didn’t want to leave.

Photo Credits: First Photo from Cook’n With Class. All the rest are personal photos.

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