An Eastward Homage, Day 2: Broken Stuff

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My flight to Newark, from Phoenix via Charlotte, started inconspicuously enough.  We flew out on time (11:40 PM) and I got about four hours of sleep on the first leg of the trip.  My seat mate was a quiet young lady, also concerned with using the dark stretch of  the route for a restorative sleep.

We got to Charlotte on time, and I enjoyed a light breakfast.  Leaving the Queen City, though, was definitely an exercise in patience.  Technical safety issues plagued the lead flight attendant, and it took an hour to get her situated in a flight-worthy jump seat.  No one squawked, for after all, everyone needs to both feel and BE safe- on any public transport.

The delay gave me another hour of sleep, and the flight itself, still another forty-five minutes’ worth of shuteye.  My seat mate for this leg was a very pretty, engaging young lady, M, who is an artist living and working in Manhattan.  We discussed the September 11 memorial and agreed that a Gift Shop, in such a place is a bit questionable, and certainly difficult to pull off.  Time will tell on that last point, but it is not my idea of a proper memorial.

We left Charlotte an hour late, so we arrived at Newark an hour late.  Then, the conveyor belt bringing our luggage to the carousel, broke.  It took about twenty-five minutes to get it up and running again, but this break down in the system got very old, fast.  M had enough on her plate, and I was getting very tired and wished for one thing:  My motel room in Parsippany, and hot running water.

“Not so fast!”, said the Universe.  After I had my luggage in hand, including the “carry-on” that I checked-in, for the Team, at the last minute on Tuesday night, it was time to go get my rental car.  Of course, the Advantage Car agency is NOT at the Rental Car Lot.  It is at  Wyndham Gardens.  It was amazing, the way one thinks all similar companies ought hang together in one spot, but it seldom works that way.  There is always at least one outlier.  Advantage is a nice agency, and gave me a lovely nearly new compact car, for which I asked.  One thing on which they were off was the set of directions for getting on I-78 West.

I never did get on the 78.  The 1 & 9, secondary highways that somewhat parallel the 78, got me to NJ Highway 7, which got me to  Hwy 23, then back to the 46.  I had nothing pre-arranged today, but I am still concerned with there being a striving for accuracy in direction-giving.  The directions I was given had me headed to the Holland Tunnel.  Granted, the Wyndham Gardens is off the beaten track, as Newark area hotels go, but hey, if I can navigate to Red Roof Inn,  in Parsippany, with no GPS- the car rental people can give accurate info.

It ended well, though.  I enjoyed a great corned beef Reuben at Clifton Bagels and Deli, en route to Parsippany, reveled in my return to humanness, once at Red Roof Inn, and had one of the best Fujien-style Chinese meals in memory, at Qin Dynasty, next to Red Roof Inn.  The cook threw bits of well-cooked squid in with my cashew chicken, bringing back fond memories of our Jeju days.

Tomorrow, after paying  early morning respects to Baha’ullah, on the 122nd Anniversary of His Ascension, I will head down to Vineland, NJ, in mid-morning, and visit with Penny’s Mom and sister for a spell.  Their spirits are up and down, as might be expected, but they are far from broken.  Northeast Jersey, you aren’t broken either- so believe in yourselves, and get it together!

An Eastward Homage, Day 1: A More Timely Departure

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This morning began as most days do:  Prayers, errands and reading the paper, over coffee.  The usual stuff took on more urgent tones, around 9:30, and there were bills paid for June and July, brief visits to a couple of friends and last-minute mailings of various items.

I made the walk to Hassayampa Inn, and a rendezvous with the airport shuttle, in plenty of time this afternoon.  This gave me an excuse to photograph the Hassaymapa’s lovely east courtyard garden.

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The shuttle ride was smooth and swift, and provided a chance to hear the insights of a local pastor/psychologist.  Like me, he is urgently concerned with the mental health and well-being of  the surviving Prescott Hotshot, and of the families of the men who were killed, nearly a year ago.

Sky Harbor Airport was crowded and bustling, at 6 PM.  I passed through security without fanfare, though a book I had just finished, “Touch the Top of the World”, by Erik Weihenmayer, got lost in an unguarded moment.  Whoever has it now is in for a treat.  Erik, a blind man, has successfully climbed peaks as disparate as Everest, Mt. McKinley, Aconcagua, El Capitan and Kilimanjaro, with various teams.   His story should prove inspiring to anyone, regardless of one’s personal challenges.

My new read is “Bunker Hill”, by Nathaniel Philbrick.  This will keep me enthralled, during several flights in the days ahead.  Sky Harbor at night is a different place.  As happens elsewhere after hours. those waiting for night flights gather as a sociable family, of sorts.  The insular crowds of the daylight hours have gone on, and the Redeye Crowd are pumped for their flights into the morning sunlight, or California midnight, as the case may be.

I whiled the waiting period away at Olive and Ivy Marketplace, a nice little deli and pizzeria.

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Well, kids, it’s time to put this computer away, and mosey on down to the gate.  The Queen City, Charlotte, NC, is next on the itinerary, then on to Newark, and a day or two in the familiar climes of the Garden State.

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It Wasn’t the Women’s Fault

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“There’s a killer on the road.  His brain is squirming like a toad.”- Ray Manzarek, “Riders On The Storm”

I love women; always have.  Even when they were girls, I thought they were beautiful.  My Mother was my first best friend, and I tried to be hers.  My relationships with girls and women ever since have been friendships first, and, in about five or six cases, they were more than that.  The friendship, then and now, is the, most important element.  It is what held my marriage together, even when I was making a mess of my life, in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, and it was what gave Penny some semblance of quality of life, in her declining years, later in that merciless decade and in the first fourteen months of this one.

I’ve had friends of both genders, and of all ages, before and since.  Beautiful women are among my best friends now.  There is no romance, to cloud the vision, and when a few of my women friends have started seriously dating, I am among the first to cheer them on. It’s a happiness thing, a means of some fulfillment.  More important to me are their dreams, their goals.  Don’t get me wrong.  If someone special comes into my life again, it’ll be just fine.  This is not a priority right now; that’s all.

It was therefore with profound shock that I read and viewed news reports of the carnage in the Isla Vista area of Santa Barbara, on Saturday.  The deranged assailant/killer blamed rejection by women- in a pseudonarcissistic rant, which fooled no one. Santa Barbara was, and is, one of my favourite places in California.  I was last there in 1997, but keep abreast of  more seemly events there, through an online friend who has ties to the area.  It is, like many places in our modern society, a fast-paced and sometimes anonymous community.  When making connections, one must be patient with those around you.

I am somewhat of an outlier, myself.  I do not blame anyone else for that.  I live comfortably, I make friends more easily than I used to.  In my youth, I did not have women throwing themselves at me.  I was considered “an individual” by those of the elite who were thoughtful.  I was seen as a bit weird, by the rest.  That was never something for which I cast blame on others.  We all rail at our plights, now and then, and I did, just before meeting Penny.  Figuring that it was the way I was going about meeting people that was the problem, helped me right my social sailboat.

So, buying expensive clothing and driving a BMW didn’t work for Elliot Rodger.  Is anyone surprised by this?  If anything, it confirms what one of my beautiful friends from the early 1970’s had to say- “No personality, no date.”- Lisa was gorgeous, but never shallow.  Apparently, neither were the three young victims in Isla Vista.  My condolences to the families of the dead.  My entreaties to the Elliots who are still out there:  It is not the woman’s fault if she doesn’t find you attractive.  Each of us has a personality, and the tools for determining whether chemistry exists between us and others.  No personality match, no relationship.

This Memorial Weekend

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Memorial Day this year has a special poignancy for me, with the departure of my father-in-law on May 7.  We have traded Father’s Day, my in-laws’ wedding anniversary and his birthday for this special day of remembrance.  I am grateful for every year he was within earshot, a phone call away or a shoulder to lean on- though never to cry on.  Now, he gets to see us from a different realm, a more distinct vantage point.

Memorial Day has somewhat gone the way of other “Holidays” in America.  We are bombarded with offers we “can’t refuse”, many are expected to work through the weekend and others just seek a chance to unwind, in their usual manner.  There is nothing wrong with relaxation.  We all need it.

It has been gratifying, though, that in communities both large and small, people seem to be returning to things that matter most during this weekend of reflection.  Yesterday, I went to the Phoenix area a day earlier than I had planned.  The young grandson of a long-time friend had died, in a tragic accident, the weekend before, and yesterday was his memorial service.  Such a vibrant, vital child was now with the Holy People and several hundred people came from all over Metro Phoenix, and beyond, to show their love.

The Christian pastor said it well- We know not why such an early death happens to a young child, but as a gardener chooses a variety of flowers for his bouquet, so does the Heavenly Father choose those of different ages as His angels.  We prayed, hugged one another, cried and laughed at remembrance of this beautiful child’s antics.  In the end, after a satisfying meal, nearly a hundred balloons were released into the air, in his honour.    The loss of a child is always jarring, horrifying, yet the send-off for a soul can be magnificent, and this was so.

I drove off, after the service, and paid private respects at Penny’s gravesite, and at nearby tombs of two other Baha’is:  Kenneth Jeffers, and the little boy’s great-grandfather, Bill Karnes.  Three undaunted teachers of our Faith, laid to rest in a triangle within several hundred yards of one another, and now they are circling around us all, in the spiritual realm.  The Messengers of God promise us this and it seems so, every day as I arise and every night as I get ready for sleep.

Today, I focused more on service close to home, pulling a dead tree branch back from its overhang over our north wall, where it jutted into our neighbour’s parking lot.  So, one less eyesore and safety hazard is in the way of honest people trying to earn a living. I made some progress on clearing brush and weeds along the wall and in front of the wooden sheds.  More needs to be done tomorrow afternoon, once Memorial Day itself has been observed at our Citizens’ Cemetery and in front of the VA Hospital, and I have visited some hospitalized patients there.

Time is now getting short, before I head off to what amounts to a memorial month- World War anniversaries in France and Belgium, a visit to my paternal ancestral city of Rouen, France and walkabouts in cities large and small in Germany and Luxembourg, as well as the aforementioned countries.  Part of my mind and heart will be watching what goes on here in Arizona, as the fire season continues to play out, in Flagstaff, Sedona and other towns.  My heart goes out to those who lost loved ones in Isla Vista, near Santa Barbara and to those dealing with extended flood emergencies in the Danube Basin.  I will have more to say about the UC shootings tomorrow.  Be safe, my friends and readers.

Time, Times and Half A Time

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Rev 12:14″ And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.”

It has been just shy of a year, since one of the most horrific events to befall my adopted town took place on a remote ridge:  The Yarnell Hill Fire, which claimed the lives of 19 Wildland Firefighters.  Every family left behind has suffered unimaginable grief.  A widow, just shy of 30 years of age, has the task of raising four children, albeit with a strong, emotionally-supportive extended family and an upstanding Faith Community.  For the past seven months, she, and they, have dealt with a bureaucracy and its supporters, whose mantra has been “Life happens.  Make do with what you have.”

Fine words for those who may have suffered through the Depression, by taking in laundry, picking weeds or digging ditches, but the world has changed a tad.  Much water has gone under many bridges.  The issue in this case, though, is that while all the crew members worked equally as hard as the next, only some, by the interpreted letter of the law, were well-tended by the system.  The rest were to find other means of support.

After 1 1/2 days of hearings, the regulatory authority in this case determined, by majority vote, that the young widow and her children were indeed entitled to full benefits, under the appropriate system.  Our system may be slow, may often need careful, patient action to correct its mistakes, but today is proof that it works.  Today is proof that, even in our times of instant gratification-or-nothing, not giving up is essential.

On a far different note, I came home and read a  lengthy rejoinder to a comment I had made, relative to the Islamic Faith.  The author cites chapter and verse to show that Islam is inherently evil, and that anything said to the contrary is naive and “PC”.  I will obviously have to do a lot of research before responding to the innuendo, just as the legal team which prevailed in this week’s hearing had to do an enormous amount of work, in righting  a serious wrong.

Saint John the Divine, in the passage above, alludes to a desperate soul getting assistance from unlikely sources, and in a most unexpected way.  Those with a stake in an established system will naturally do all they can to guard that system- be it a governmental structure, or a code of beliefs. We must also bear in mind that many a misguided set of beliefs or codes of regulations themselves are rooted in correcting both real and perceived injustice. The needs of the  weak, the suffering, and the pure in heart, however, have a far more powerful set of allies to meet them.  It just takes longer to address them fully.

I also note that another young family, on the other side of the country, received word that THEIR anxiety and difficulties will now also be relieved- on a long-term basis.  Time, and time again, we seek relief.  Never give up!

Moving Seamlessly

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The young firefighter described his, and his unit’s, work, over the course of a year, as moving seamlessly from one set of tasks to another.  This is what I admire most about so many of those who have taken on difficult, dangerous and often thankless, unappreciated tasks as their life’s work.  The unit in question works under an administration which seems to neither understand nor care much for those under its charge.  That administration is getting a rather long overdue education today and tomorrow.

I have said in the past that, even as I have good friends in every living generation, I am finding I relate best to Millennials.  The sense of commitment to a better world is just below the surface among all ages, yet nowhere is the energy and drive to truly create a functioning and equitable global society stronger than it is among teens and twenty-somethings.  Gen Z (those fourteen and under) seems just as promising, so this could be a confirmation that the world, towards which so many have striven,  is on its way, even as so much that is rotten needs to be cleared out.

We may not move forward with absolute seamlessness, and there are plenty of non-angelic types among the younger generation, but as I move about the city of Prescott, around Arizona or across the country and to other parts of the world, I sense there is a purposeful mien among the youth.  It goes beyond idealism, which, if left to stand alone, becomes cynicism and gives way to creature comforts, drug abuse and paranoia. Maybe, with the current younger generations, the lack of time-honoured opportunities which many of us enjoyed as youth, has forced self-reliance, group action and innovation to the fore early on in their lives.  Certainly, technology has helped greatly, in that regard.

I have come under a lot of fire from many of my fellow Boomers and from several Gen-X’ers recently, for my past few posts.  I can’t share their cynicism, though, and while contemplating the rest of my life, I can only see good things for the human race, in the aggregate.  Those of my contemporaries who agree with my assessment have been equally vocal, so maybe I, too, am moving seamlessly from one day, and one set of tasks, to the next.

Choices

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I listened to Tape 10 of the series, “The Eleven Forgotten Laws”, last night.  It was entitled “The Law of Sacrifice”.  The premise is simple:  To get one thing, one must give up another.  I find the  basis for this applies in just about all aspects of life.  Let’s look at three examples.

There is a restaurant menu- Seven items appeal, but of course today, for this meal, only one may be chosen.  Of course, the only thing that is directly “sacrificed” is the ability to eat the other six items at this sitting, unless the restaurant is buffet-style.  Some may moan that their money is being sacrificed, but compensation is not the same thing as giving up something.  The restaurant, generally speaking, deserves to be paid for its fare and service.

When one gets married, it is only fair to the spouse that romances with others are no longer a part of your life.  Of course, there are those in Swinging or Open Marriage relationships, but they’re like the buffets- not the usual situation.  One’s spouse, and you, are deserving of respect and fidelity.

The last reflects my life, at present.  When one is drawn to travel, it could be for any number of reasons.  The same is true of those who elect to stay at home.  There are many events going on, in the place(s) you choose to visit.  There may well be many events going on, simultaneously, in the place you call home.

My point is, be comfortable with the choices that get made.  They are yours- and as such, will draw both praise and criticism.  No one knows what’s best for you better than you do.  While life goes one, fully, as it should, in your absence, it works best when the response to “We’ll miss you!” is “Thank you, and I look forward to your stories and photos of all that will have happened here, while I was gone.”

Bob Proctor and Mary Morrissey encourage us to be glad that we have free choices, which are indicative of an abundant Universe.

Dystopia

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I have a propensity for watching TV shows and films which have a dystopian theme:  Revolution, The Black List, Person of Interest, Game of Thrones, Hunger Games, Divergent, Ender’s Game.  I mainly like to see how the protagonists solve their dilemmas, though in too many cases, the choice is “Blam, Blam”.  Revolution got old, and formulaic, so it’ll be consigned to Hulu after one last episode.

Dystopia, the collapse of all we know and either love or hate, the primal turn to either a Lord of the Flies mentality, a Glengarry, Glenross or 1984 mindset, or both, seems to be much on everyone’s mind.  Despite my fascination with these shows, however, I don’t see an actual, full-blown dystopia as the long-term wave of the future.  Yes, we may very well endure a stretch of trials and tribulations, which won’t lend themselves to a quick return to “Business as Usual”, but I believe there will emerge something far better.

People are bound to notice that there are those who are building a better, more organized and less officious civilization from whatever ashes to which the old systems lead.  Some won’t want anything to do with it, but most will, over a period of decades.  I have had several iterations of my own life, in which, as Baha’u’llah, Founder of the Baha’i Faith wrote “Poverty is followed by riches, and riches are followed by poverty…” His meaning is that material possessions come and go, but He is emphatic in saying that we will always have what we need.

With Paul Simon, in “Peace Like a River”,  I see a glorious Day.

Trailheads and Paths, Issue 19: Arizona’s Mount Vernon

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Prescott’s Mount Vernon Avenue is an amalgam of much that makes the town a draw for those who seek a blend of nature and luxury. It starts with a series of Victorian Era homes, ranging from full-on elegance to well-built, lower middle class bungalows.  The road goes uphill steadily, then leads to Senator Highway, with its many forest camps and the rustic beauty of the Hassayampa resort area.

Five of Mount Vernon Avenue’s homes made up the conclusion of my historic homes tour on May 3.  Here are nineteen photos of this diverse street’s best offerings.

I went first to the Hedrick D. Aitken House, home to a storekeeper and his family.  “Hed” was one of the early members of Hassayampa Country Club, and is said to have golfed 18 holes, each morning before work.

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Here are two shots of the interior, a photograph of Mattie Tuttle Aitken’s aunt, and one of the current lady of the house, as “Mattie”.

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I net visited the Ralph Roper House, a Victorian Cottage, which was home to Prescott’s first dentist.

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The living room gives the lie to the name “cottage”.

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The present owner was laid back, preferring to sit on the porch and trade snarky barbs with some of the visitors.

I moved on, to the Hesla House, whose owners were very engaged in showing the house, dividing the visitors into small groups, and themselves dressed in Fin de Siecle garb.

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Here are some of the more interesting features of the Hesla.  First, it has one of the larger gardens along Mount Vernon.

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Wood-ringed bath tubs were rare then, as now.

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A Victrola provided the evening entertainment, before the heyday of radio.

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Dolls were serious works of art, as the Nineteenth Century drew to a close.

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Ceramic eggs, which I remember from my aunt’s house as a child, were another item of late Victorian decor.

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No Victorian home would have been complete without a chandelier.

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This view of  the Sanglier House, a Queen Anne Cottage, shows the vagaries of lighting a house naturally, at the edge of a hill.

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Carved animal heads, over a door, were the mark of the owner’s spirit.

 

 

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The last house on the tour was the Lodge-Hicks house, a bungalow.

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The decor was more reflective of the Forties and Fifties.

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The little jaunt was encapsulated by this bit of sage advice:

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Each resident of these delightful homes has followed this maxim, in their own way.

 

Trailheads and Paths, Issue 18: Goldwater’s Glittering Mansion

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Henry Goldwater, the brother of Barry, ran the mercantile interests of one of  Arizona’s premier families during his brother’s time in the national political arena.  Henry and his family lived in this Norton & Patton home, for much of the 20th Century.  It is a melange of stylistic features, suggesting a turret, without actually having one.

Here is a first view of this most grandiose of the Union Street mansions.

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Given its popularity that day, I spent some time waiting on the front porch.

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Those familiar with Senator Goldwater will see the family resemblance, in Henry’s countenance.

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The kitchen and dining room are wide open to each other.

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Being a true Arizonan, Henry favoured a large garden area, and a sizable guest house.

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You may notice the variety of art, from Classical Greek to Theravada Buddhist. Modern items crop up here and there, as well.

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Then, there’s an old cowboy hangin’ around.

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I am partial to old wooden tiles on tall houses like this.  They just add character.

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The view from the third floor can’t be beat, either.

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I always like a beautiful person, with a garland of flowers around her hair.

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Upon leaving the Goldwater Mansion, still a private residence, I came upon a classic car from the 1930’s.

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Next door, and to the east, is another old gem, now a law office.

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I walked a bit down Alarcon Street, and found the Gage-Murphy House, now an apartment building.  One of the residents let me inside for a bit, but I satisfied myself with a single photo of the exterior.

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The last place in this segment of the tour was Prescott’s premier Bed and Breakfast, Pleasant Street Inn.  It was first built in 1906, at the site of the present Prescott Police Station.  The house was moved to its Pleasant Street location in 1990.

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As it was still early for some of the inn’s guests, we stayed downstairs and walked through the dining room and kitchen.

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This potpourri of styles was matched by that of the last segment of the tour:  Five houses on South Mount Vernon Avenue.