Walking in Place

2

September 23, 2017,Prescott- 

Several readers have, over the years, expressed a preference for my travel posts.  While I greatly enjoy visiting places old and new, there has been an increase in responsibilities and commitments, hereabouts, since my return from the East Coast, at the end of July.  Not the least of these is my work with autistic teens, a veritable payback to all who have guided me, over the past several decades.  There are also two major public events here in town, in October:  Hope Fest (October 14), a celebration of faith, which I will be assisting for the third consecutive year and, a week later, the Festival of Light and Unity- commemorating the Two Hundredth Anniversary of the Birth of Baha’u’llah, on October 22.  As the Baha’i calendar is a lunar construct, the Birth of His Herald, al-Bab (The Gate), is observed the day prior to that of Baha’u’llah.  This year marks 198 years, since al-Bab was born and we will observe that event, as well, on October 21.

My friendships being wide-ranging these days, several events tend to converge on given days. So, today, largely devoted to Prescott Stand Down, an event dedicated to serving homeless veterans in our community, took up much of the day.  I was later able to make further progress on clearing my backyard and 3-4 more hours of concerted effort ought to get the job completed, for this year.  Tomorrow, two events at the American Legion, two Baha’i activities and an hour or two helping a good friend move, will keep me honest and productive.  This coming week, there is a gathering, of one sort or another, every night.  Looking ahead to October 14, that day will see me at two other events, in addition to Hope Fest.  Life is never dull.

With regard to travel, Fall Break will be here, in two weeks.  I am in between going to Joshua Tree and Lake Cachuma, California, or down to Superior, Globe and over to Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument, for 4-5 days (in which case, the California trip gets done over an extended Presidents’ Day weekend). My spirit guides will advise me, on this matter, as with so many others.

Yes, I do get 7-8 hours of sleep a night, as well as a 30-minute power nap, most afternoons.  Stay tuned.

Sixty-Six, for Sixty Six, Part LXIII: My Dream Pack

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September 18, 2017, Prescott-

A writer whom I recently began to follow has written, of late, about the concept of the Dream Pack- essentially, a way of life, place, group of close people which, collectively help each being realize the fullness of his/her particular dream.

The outpouring of love I have felt today, in person and online, brings me to reiterate what I have said on occasion, in the past.  People have come, gone and, in a few instances, returned.  I have found places, near and far, which bring me inspiration, for a time, and while some have lost their allure- others have drawn me close.  My way of life remains pretty much the same, though the accent, of late, has been on service, rather than a trail-side regimen.

My Dreampack , then, is large and varied:  My son, in Korea, is a phone call and an ocean away.  My siblings are a mere continent apart from me.  I have a nephew, in Los Angeles, who is a full schedule, or two, distant.  Mother is East Coast-bound, but will get a letter a week from me, and will respond, when she can, with reassurance that she is just fine, and inspirational comments.  My solid network of friends, in the Prescott area, and across Arizona, make it certain that, if I feel lonesome, it’s my own doing.  The same is true, all over North America.  I am never far, when in my car, from someone who at least has time for a cup of “joe”, or tea, or Jamba Juice.

There is a teen boy, who I am sponsoring, across the Pacific.  Someday, I will visit him.   My Dream Pack is large and varied, and includes kindred souls in the Philippines, South Korea, Australia, India, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Tanzania, Iran, Russia, Romania, Italy, Spain, Germany, Luxembourg, Belgium, Netherlands, Scotland and beloved France.  Yes, that’s a lot of turf, for one who lives on a shoestring, but since when has that been an impediment?

My Dream Pack has been a series of Chinese boxes, opening up to yet another, and a series of amazements, (yes, I just made up a word), which will continue.  The Universe is endless in its provision of many kinds of wealth.

Harry Dean Stanton and Henry Barnwell

4

September 16, 2017, Prescott-

Yesterday, the Divine called back two very different souls, whose influence on me was indirect, (I never met either man), but extraordinary. Harry Dean Stanton was a party animal, a singer and character actor, par excellence.  Henry Barnwell was a man of the cloth, and a family man, as well as a community bulwark, par excellence.

Harry Dean was someone people saw in movies, for nearly six decades,  and while many couldn’t remember his name, the man was ever familiar.  He had a Festival, as well as an award, named in his honour, by the City of Lexington, Kentucky, near the town where he was born and raised.  Harry Dean was the first winner of the Harry Dean Stanton Award, in October of last year.

He influenced me, by confirming that it is alright to have friends of even the youngest generation, and that it was not disrespectful to be a friend, but not a  worshipper, of one’s elders.  He pointed out that, while having a relationship with someone many years one’s junior was okay, it was even money as to how the romance would end.  He learned this from direct experience.  I’ve found his assessment to be absolutely on point, as well.  Harry Dean’s party-heartiness is not something I chose to continue, past the age of thirty.  It didn’t hurt him much, but I was not born to be a booze hound.  Nonetheless, the cool cat ruled, over much of the Hollywood scene.

Henry Barnwell was a Bishop, a nonstop social activist, and a man committed to breaking the cycle of broken families, especially in the Black community of Phoenix.   He was a child of broken marriage and made sure that he and his devoted wife did not follow suit.  Their four children are lasting beneficiaries of their parents’ insistence on Family Night and regular dinners together.

Phoenix, and all Arizona, are the lasting beneficiaries of Bishop Barnwell’s constancy, in the matters closest to obtaining and maintaining a codified and de facto equality of all people.  He met with the most reactionary public figures, on the same level as with those who agreed with him on civil rights matters.  He would call people whom he wanted to bring together for the public good, and sometimes as early as 5 a.m.  Few, if any, hung up on him.  None were viewed, by Henry, as strangers.

His influence on me was to affirm that reaching out to those with whom one disagreed was the most correct and most natural thing that could happen, in a truly civilized society.  He would never write anyone off, in perpetuity, and that remains my goal.   He would also never write off a desired outcome.  The work continued, despite a struggle with dementia, until Henry breathed his last.

I continue to strive to be as relaxed and nurturing around others as Harry  Dean Dean; as caring and dedicated to helping others, as Reverend Mr.  Henry Barnwell.  May they both be victory-bound!

What Would I Do In Portugal?

4

September 11, 2017, Phoenix-

What would I do, if I went to Portugal?

I’d sit on a hilltop,

in Braga,

and ponder what made

the Bishop of that city,

issue a screed against the Guarani,

who stood between his country

and control of the Rio de la Plata Basin.

I’d visit the Fish Markets,

in Lisboa,

Porto,

and Coimbra,

and listen to the banter

of people who rise early,

and bring Omega 3

to the masses.

I would stand

in the grandeur of Evora,

and reflect on the

temporary nature,

of all save God.

What would I do, if I found myself in Zanzibar?

I would pay my respects

at memorials to those

who freed the people

from servitude.

I would befriend the common folk,

be they Waswahili, Arab or Indian.

I would book passage on a dhow,

from Unguja to Pemba,

spend three days on each island,

saving Stone Town for last.

What would I do, if called to China?

Macao would be first,

because of the School of Nations.

I’d not visit the casinos,

being averse to monetary gambling.

Shanghai- the Bund is being overshadowed,

by those great Chinese structures

and systems,

which Pu Yi envisioned,

when he turned the country over,

to Sun Yat-sen.

I would gladly walk,

from the Great Wall’s fastness,

in Beijng,

to the field of the terracotta warriors,

in X’ian,

if the authorities were inclined

to let such a thing happen.

I would stand at the Potala,

inside the Forbidden City,

and within the Stone Forest,

as my spirit soared,

from the energy

extant in each.

What will I do, in my forest town,

over the next two years?

I will serve those

who only seek

to meet each day,

with wonder and a smile.

I will follow the promptings

of  my Creator,

which are not found,

only in carefully arranged stones,

or  in the pronouncements

of this body of personages

or of that Enlightened Soul.

I will use this time,

to inculcate

the spirit-set

of making each act

a holy act.

I will love.

Wide Murals and A Long Market

8

July 23, 2017, Paducah, KY-

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This old river town, now also a regional hub for the Confluence- (people in Cairo, IL refer to Paducah as “town”), has two places that drew me back, all the way from last year, when I passed this way after dark, and ended up in Marion, IL.  The first is the Ohio Riverfront.  Middle America has done well, in making the most of its waterways, both the great rivers and the Great Lakes.  Retaining walls are accompanied by walkways and adorned by murals.  Public events, ever with music, are a given- especially in summer.  This is Paducah, named by William Clark, who gave the local Comanches the name Padoukas- a corruption of the Kaw term for them: Padoka.

The Ohio is joined by the Tennessee River, not far from here.    Then, as you may recall, the Ohio itself conjoins the Missisissippi, a few miles further west, at Cairo.  Thus, one might set sail in Huntsville, Alabama and make one’s way clear to Billings, Montana, or Wichita, Kansas, with clever navigation.

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The preacher man was too busy singing, to introduce himself, but he is apparently a local fixture, as many of those in their lawn chairs said they’d be at his gospel festival, a few days into August.  He covered all the timeless classics, and got me to croak along, on a few of them.

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The triptych mural, on Paducah’s floodwall, covers different aspects of the river’s heritage.  This one, of the riverboat, looks at a period of time that fascinated me, as a child.  The gamblers and the roustabouts of the early river communities were among my favourite characters, on shows like “Daniel Boone.”

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River traffic made Paducah prosper, in the mid-Nineteenth Century, even into the beginnings of the Rail Era.  The solid buildings still maintain a bustling downtown.  Even on Sunday evening, when most everything was closed, I got a sense of the city’s vitality.

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Every Midwestern town, it seems, has a gazebo, and Paducah is no exception.  This gazebo spawned its own park, and Garden Club.

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Should I pass this way again, I would make certain to come when the long Market Hall is open.  Growing up with Boston’s Faneuil Hall, I am perfectly content spending hours in a public market.

Along Broadway Street are some ever-enticing abstract murals.

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Lastly, this evening introduced me to St. Clair Court, the site of a three-story wooden hotel and theater, across from the Market.  It was destroyed by fire, in 1895.  Adjacent to it is this brick and mortar wonder.

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So, there is a taste of one of Kentucky’s interesting river towns.  Like any region, the Ohio Valley would offer a full experience to the discerning and curious traveler.  Alas, I must head westward, though through other interesting areas, to my own exhilarating Home Base.

NEXT:  A Tale of Two Campgrounds

About The Change

12

August 25, 2017, Prescott-

I looked into the online face of a young woman,

in the context of a friend’s defining

the difference between

helping,

fixing

and serving.

The girl’s eyes asked

only for service.

She needed no help.

She did not ask,

nor needed,

to be fixed.

Her face said,

“If you offer this service,

I can find my own wholeness”.

I have upgraded my blogsite.

Righteous Bruin has retired.

Sagitarrian Seeker has taken his place.

The semblance that I might know

a bit more than my fellow travelers,

was present in the former title,

and as kind and loving,

as the Bear has tried to be,

his mission was based

on a falsehood.

I will always love,

and be grateful for,

my old online persona.

Seeker, wide-eyed,

open to growth,

wishing to destroy nothing,

will build upon

the foundation laid

by Bruin.

So, the anonymous lady,

looking out at me,

while nuzzling her horse,

may rest assured,

that whatever honourable service

my friends need done,

will be accomplished.

Along this road,

I invite one and all.

Seek your own truth,

and may we embrace it,

together,

in our own way.

 

 

Fortresses and Myths

4

July 22, 2017, Lexington, VA-

I stopped, overnight, in a town I love:  Harrisonburg, home to James Madison University, to two young couples, who I love as if they were my own children, and to another young lady, whom I also love like a daughter, but who has become a bit estranged, over the past year or so.  I visited the former, at their establishment:  Artful Cafe (formerly known as Artful Dodger), in the heart of downtown H’burg.  Readers might remember this place from my 2016 excursion.  They were coasting, on Friday night, saving their energy to lovingly greet participants in the Shenandoah Pride Festival, which was today’s big event.  I stopped by, again this noon, on my way out of town, and purchased enough cold brew coffee to keep me happy, on the way to Lexington.  The definitely straight young husbands were bare-chested, in solidarity with the Pride group-who, ironically, had not a bare chested person among them.  Their wives sported rainbow bandanas, as their contribution.  Me?  I am very happy with my woman-loving self, and I accept other people’s sexuality, without casting the judgement that belongs to the Creator alone.

I spent about thirty minutes with my Lost Angel,

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J filled me in on her life, of the past two years and, more importantly, of her dreams for the next few.  She seemed a bit embarrassed to not have any great achievements to recount, but you know, just seeing her and knowing that she was essentially okay, was more than enough.  J, and the other four kids, are people who I just want to see happy, as I do with my son and his lovely girlfriend.

I headed south, on I-81, with Charleston, WV and beyond on my radar screen.  Then, I saw a sign for Stonewall Jackson House, as Lexington loomed ahead.  I know, “He betrayed our country!”.  There are those who beg to differ, so being an admirer of some OTHER aspects of his life, I left the highway and drove past the formidable fastness of Virginia Military Institute, where Stonewall was an instructor, prior to the cataclysm.

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My interest in Thomas Jonathan Jackson, though,was not in his military exploits, but in his creativity and in his foresight.  His garden was decidedly Jeffersonian, incorporating many of the ideas put into practice at Monticello, including drip irrigation and organic crop rotation.  As you can see, he did make every square inch count for something.  The scarecrow was a “falcon”.

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Stonewall also, to the consternation of Lexington’s other citizens, believed Black people should be literate, and taught his “house servants” to read the Bible.  I would not be surprised to learn that this action of his actually led to his being coerced to join the Confederate Army, whose cause, despite his ferocity in battle, he only tepidly supported.  He died at the hands of one of his own sentries, which could very well have not been an accident.  Saddest of all, his own sister, an Abolitionist, declared him “dead to her”, upon the secession of Virginia and his being recruited by Robert E. Lee, in 1861.

TJ was a man of culture, and did foresee the end of slavery, war or no war.  He believed in the universality of learning, and maintained a progressive home.

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Satisfied that I had confirmed my suspicions about the decent side of Colonel Jackson, I headed west, across the Mountain State.  At a rest area, off I-64, east of Beckley, WV, I took a photo of the Blue Ridge, and found what looks like another being, inserting self into the view, gazing northward.

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Being far from alone, then, I continued on, into more rain and made it to Olive Hill, KY, before stopping at Spanish Mansion Inn.  More about it, and the Ohio River, in my next post.

 

Charlottesville

0

August 13, 2017, Prescott-

It’s rather ironic, that my journey series has reached the point where my next few posts will be about Antietam, Harpers Ferry, Harrisonburg/Lexington and Olive Hill, KY.  I did not visit the seat of the University of Virginia, this time out.  It is my late wife’s alma mater and Charlottesville is the first place where Penny heard about the Baha’i Faith.  There is a strong Baha’i presence there, to this day.  Were my fellows in faith to be given charge of this weekend’s gatherings, they may well have had white and black extremists cordoned off in one area, as was done at a Baha’i gathering in Orlando, several years ago.  It taught more than a few of them the absurdity of their positions.

Fear has a lot to do with what went on, on both sides.  Fear makes people do prudent things, like staying aware of their surroundings, watching where they put their hands and feet, not picking fights with those who could seriously cause harm.  Fear also can make people do stupid things, like assume a person, who has certain physical features or styles  of dress/adornment, is dangerous or argue a point, that they know is ridiculous, “could possibly be right.”

I believe every life matters, too.  I believe it is right to learn from history and that it is wrong to try and erase history.  There was once an emperor of China, who tried to expunge the record of every ruler who came before him.  He wanted to rewrite history, in his own hand.  It’s said that history is written by the victor, but that didn’t turn out so well, for said Emperor.  Others kept records, then, and others will keep records, now.  Those who remove our statuary are not being honest with children.  They are no better than those who gave short shrift to the legacies of people of colour, over a nearly 200-year period.  History needs to be full and balanced, if we are to learn from our errors, as a nation and as a species.

I am very saddened by the needless and premature death of Heather Heyer.  This wanton act of murder had nothing to do with a certain number of Antifa members being mixed with the anti-Nazi protestors.  Ms. Heyer was not with Antifa, nor was she “bused in by George Soros.”  She was a Charlottesville resident, employed as a paralegal.  It had everything  to do with the killer’s being an impressionable young man, of questionable emotional stability, being influenced, to some degree, by the words and taunts of a good number of Ku Klux Klan and Nazi Party members.  The reactions of many of the alt-right protesters does indicate they were not out to kill those who confronted them.  The obscenity-laced comments filling the air- on You Tube videos- did, however, set some people off, including the errant driver.

It’s  long past time to start serious, but respectful and frank dialogue.  Let’s do it, anyway.  It’s long past time for the President to set a strong tone of domestic leadership, aimed at getting differing sides together, peacefully,  but nose-to-nose, if necessary.  The air needs to be cleared of the noxious.  Citizens, however, as was said this evening, at a candlelight vigil here,  also need to set the moral tone, at their level..  No far-off politician can do all the heavy-lifting, nor should a local demagogue be allowed to stir up the passions of one segment of the populace, as happened in Charlottesville.

I am not any kind of supremacist.  I am not any kind of ideologue.  I have lived long enough to know that we lose, mightily, by excluding any group, based on any physical characteristic, faith or creed.  So, on we go, without the vivacious young paralegal, who just wanted to love her community.

The Art of Durability

10

July 19, 2017, Philadelphia- 

Whilst waiting for some family members to meet me at downtown Philadelphia’s Cafe Ole,

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A brief walk showed that this belonged to a museum and art gallery, the Center for Art in Wood.  I spent about an hour, in the astonishing museum, which showcases both the traditional plank art of northern Europe and several contemporary pieces, from around the globe.  Several variations use the root word, Mangle, meaning cut, as their base.  Below, is a Danish piece, called a manglebraette.

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Bear with me, I am taking the liberty of interspersing the traditional ware with contemporary pieces.  This one, by an American, Michael Scarborough, celebrates Buddhism.

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Australian artist, Ashley Eriksmoen, presents this Judeo-Christian piece.

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Who wants a wooden sheep?

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These Icelandic pieces are examples of that nation’s trafakefli traditional craft.

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Sweden’s variation is known as mangelbraden.

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Norway’s woodcraft, mangletraer, is displayed at the front of the exhibit.  Some pieces are in glass cases.

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Finland adopted the art form, as well, and is the easternmost country in which the mangleplank tradition took root.  Its form is called kaulauslandet.

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Surprisingly, it is the Netherlands which is credited with originating the art form.  Merchants of the Hanseatic League spread it to the Nordic lands.  The Dutch form is called mangelplanken.

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The variety, in both styles and uses, of woodcraft could capture one’s interest for hours, I think.

Here are a couple of other contemporary pieces.

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I will definitely be back here, next summer, at the very least as a customer-for one of the gallery shop’s more utilitarian pieces, while learning more about plank art.  I, who whittled as a child, could possibly fashion something of use, one of these fine days.

Sixty-Six, for Sixty Six, Part LXI: Brandywine’s Message

2

July 19, 2017, Chadds Ford- 

My nephew wanted to hit the trail, this morning, so after a few rendezvous snafus, due to differing GPS entries, we met at Birmingham Friends Meeting House, near the site of some of the heaviest fighting.  The battle raged here, on September 11, 1777.  Today, we were the only people on this little hill, south of Chadds Ford.  The Brandywine Valley, today, is better known for its wineries,  for the Wyeth family’s presence and for the Longwood and Main Fountain Gardens, than for one of the heaviest battles of the American Revolution.

Of course, without the battle, which showed the British victors that the war was far from over, it’s likely that all the beauty of this valley would be under entirely different auspices, today.  We spent the first forty minutes of our visit, in and around Birmingham Friends Meeting House and its Peace Garden. First, though, here are a couple of views of the area that was the battle zone, 240 years ago, next month.

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What is the province of grazing cows, today, was a harrowing encampment, for men on opposing sides, but all far from home.  The hospital where all, regardless of loyalty, would be treated for their injuries, was in this modest building- then and now, a Quaker Meeting House.

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Many of their fallen comrades would be buried, in a mass grave, on the south side of this cemetery.  Hundreds lie here, with no regard for their ideology. All were viewed as humans, by the farmers of Birmingham Hill.

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This plaque announces the Peace Garden of Birmingham Hill.

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Again, the serenity of the day- with the distant echo of muskets and cannonade.

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This verse, by John Donne, is one of several cogent quotes, placed carefully, throughout the Peace Garden.

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William Sloane Coffin also offers a simple comment on the world of today.

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A poignant expression of love, from a local farmer to his departed wife, signifies the ongoing daily life, around the battle and its aftermath.

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After time for reflection, we headed to Brandywine State Museum, and spent an hour or so there, before walking to Washington’s Headquarters. The museum offers detailed exhibits of muskets, British rifles (which were largely responsible for the Royal Army’s early successes) and cannonry.  It is, like the Museum of the American Revolution, a well-balanced institution.

In the nearby woods, this long-abandoned gazebo tells of how nature regards the vagaries of war.  It grows over the remnants, and challenges us to unearth them.

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This was Benjamin Ring’s root cellar.  Mr. Ring was the host to General Washington, and his troops, who camped in the fields.

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The Rings most likely stayed in this “servants’ quarters”, during the Revolutionaries’ encampment.

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Here is the main farmhouse, where the General and his staff planned what turned out to be an inadequate strategy.  Much was learned from the battle, though, and it was the hubris of the British, combined with French and Polish support for the Americans, which led to the rising of the Revolutionary forces, after Valley Forge.

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With this, my nephew was off to pick up his little girl, from pre-school, and I was headed to Philadelphia, after a fabulous lunch, at this bustling, somewhat friendly establishment.

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