Category Archives: Monday’s For Me

Monday’s for Me #46 ~ Here Comes Santa Claus

It is at this time of year that I always reflect back to those Christmas’ of my childhood. If you have read any of my blogs you would know that I didn’t have the best upbringing. My mother and my sister Mary, both had mental problems so some of my memories have been tainted by these two.

My Dad always tried to make Christmas special. He would always ask Mary and I what we wanted Santa to bring us, and we always gave him plenty of ideas. Mary was 4 years older than I so the things we were interested in were so different. This was a good thing! She had a habit of “claiming” anything I received if she liked it so I always tried to ask for something that I knew she wouldn’t like.

There are 19 days between Christmas and my birthday, so this event happened when I was almost 6 years old. On Christmas Eve I was excitedly watching out of our bedroom window, hoping to get a glimpse of Rudolph leading the sleigh. Mary was annoyed because she said that I was letting in too much light by holding the curtain open and I was keeping her awake. She blurted out, “You now, there is no such thing as Santa. Dad and mom buy all of the toys and put them under the tree before we get up in the morning. They just lie about it”. I was devastated!

The next morning I didn’t come into the living room with the same enthusiasm as I had in previous years. My Dad kept asking me what was wrong, but I refused to talk. My mother and sister eagerly opened their presents and my sister gushed over the items “Santa” left her. I just quietly opened my presents and didn’t even glance at what was sitting under the tree. I finally told my Dad what Mary had said about Santa and he was really mad. He started yelling at her, telling her that she had been allowed to believe until just a couple of months ago, and she had no right to spoil the fun for me. My mother of course, came too Mary’s defense.

By the next year, I had gotten over it so I played along and told my Dad I only wanted one thing for Christmas, a Barbie doll with wigs! I was hoping and praying for one. About two weeks before the big day my parents went to visit a neighbor that lived a few houses down the street from us. While they were gone, Mary pulled the step stool out of the closet. In the living room we had one wall that had a large floor to ceiling closet in it. There were two large doors on the bottom and two separate smaller doors just above them. Mary used the stool to reach the top closet, and she began pulling out all of the things “Santa” was going to bring us. Sure enough, there was my Barbie with wigs! Instead of being excited, I felt kind of cheated. Christmas was never the same after this.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

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Monday’s for Me #45 ~ A Different Way To Get Groceries

Growing up I never realized how lazy my mother was. My sister and I did all of the house cleaning and most of the cooking. I remember using a stool to be able to reach the clothesline. When we were younger, we had one of those wringer washers and I remember having a problem with that one. I was probably about 9 before we got an electric one.

My Dad had to do all the grocery shopping. He and I would go on Friday evening to the Lucky Store, carefully picking up everything that was on the list. I used to look around and wonder why there weren’t more men shopping. My Dad stood out like a sore thumb, pushing the cart and filling it with our next weeks bounty. I didn’t really mind it because I was away from my mother and sister, and I got to spend time alone with my Dad. We would get home, cart in all the paper bags of food, then he and I would put it away.

When we moved to Missouri, when I was 12-years-old. The tradition continued for about the first 2 months. The stores were different, the food was different, and the shopping experience was very different. We are talking about 1967, and Missouri was way more traditional than Arizona ever was. Women were actually rude to us when we would go to the grocery store. I could see my Dad’s face turn red from embarrassment when some woman would make a disparaging comment. Of course, it made me mad, even though I didn’t understand why they said the things they did. We moved from the small town (about 800 people) we originally moved to and my parents bought a house in Independence. I only remember going shopping there once.

Later that week, walking down the hill to the house, I saw a large delivery truck in the driveway of the house. I got there in time to see two men with a large dolly taking, what I thought was a very large refrigerator inside. I knew better than to ask my mother any questions, so I waited until my Dad got home from work. He explained that it was a large capacity freezer and that we were buying a half a cow and a pig to put in it. You can probably guess….I was so confused. What in the world was he talking about?

It was about this time when my mothers mental illness became very evident. We always knew things weren’t right, but now we couldn’t deny it anymore. She went crazy, tearing up the house, screaming to the top of her lungs. She stated that there was no way she would eat meat that was delivered, then she ran to the kitchen and tried to push the freezer over. Thankfully she wasn’t strong enough to move it. She then did what she always did and locked herself in the bedroom. I just ran to my room and hid.

The next day, which was Saturday, my mother never came out of her room. My Dad asked me to come out in the yard, and we started planting a vegetable garden. He told me it was easy to grow things here because it rained a lot, we were no longer in the desert. I was fascinated. I couldn’t wait to watch it all grow and to eventually eat it! That afternoon another large truck arrived and two men carted in package after package of wrapped meat. That’s when I finally asked, “Where is the half cow and pig?” I thought my Dad and the two delivery men were going to die from laughter. After they left my Dad explained that you can buy the meat from the farm, and they package it for you. So, all those butcher paper squares contained the cow and pig.

By the end of the summer we had raised all of the vegetables we needed and my Aunt came over and showed me how to can them for future use. We had 4 peach trees in the yard, and she and I picked as much fruit as we could, and we canned those also. It was amazing to me. The best part of this whole experience was, for the next two years, Dad and I didn’t have to make a weekly grocery run. We just had to go pick up a few items that we couldn’t raise or pull out of the freezer. I can still remember how good the food tasted and how much fun I had gardening and canning.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

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Monday’s for Me #44 ~ My First Date

Because of my upbringing, I was left with little knowledge about life outside my family. My sister was 4 years older than I, but she had never had a boyfriend nor been on a date. If you have read any of my other personal life blogs, you would know it was because she was so mean. My only glimpse into the life of a teenager was what I viewed on TV.

We were living in Independence, Missouri. I was 13 years old and in 8th grade in Junior High. It was near the end of the school year and the School was having a dance to celebrate. I loved to dance. I would spend hours with my friend Bonnie making up dance routines. We would spend our Saturday’s watching American Bandstand and practicing the moves. We even took dance in gym class during the second semester.

When I heard about the dance, I never dreamed I would get asked to go. Bonnie was seeing a guy named Ted, and he had a friend named Brad. They were both 9th graders. When Ted asked Bonnie to the dance he asked if she thought I might want to go with Brad, and we could all go together. So it was set up that we would go on a double date. I was so excited. Brad was a tall 15-year old with blonde hair and green eyes. I could barely say “yes” when he officially asked me out. None of us had a drivers license so Ted’s sister offered to drive us.

Friday night came quickly, and I was a bundle of nerves. There was one problem that I had not been aware of, Brad was a Mormon, and he didn’t dance! When we got to the school, I found myself standing on the sidelines watching all the dancing. This was a genuine sock hop because everyone entering the gym had to take their shoes off. Then I noticed that Bonnie wasn’t dancing either, and she had a look on her face that I am sure was a mirror of the one on mine. She walked over and said “Let’s show them how it is done!”, and she grabbed my hand pulling me out to the dance floor. We spent the next hour and a half dancing and having the best time.

At the end of the night we met back up with the boys, and we got into the car for the drive home. Ted’s sister suggested we stop at the fast food drive in where the boys bought us a burger and onion rings. I had never had onion rings before, and I was hooked. I don’t remember the conversations but I do recall the knot I got in my stomach when Bonnie leaned over and asked me if I was going to kiss Brad goodnight. Suddenly, I felt sick! When we got to my house Brad got out of the car so I could get out and I hurried to the front door with him fast behind me. I said thank you for the nice time and tried to open the front door, but it was locked. I started to panic, I did not want to kiss this guy! So I started pounding on the door and I could see my mother peeking out the window, and she was laughing. I just stood there knocking and pulling on the door handle. Finally, my Dad came and unlocked the door and let me in. When I turned and looked out the door I saw the car pulling away. I was angry and humiliated by what my mother did, but because of her mental illness I new not to mention it.

A girl never forgets her first date, especially when they are as strange as this!

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

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Monday’s for Me #42 ~ Winterhaven

When you live in the Sonoran Desert, you have to make adjustments to some of the “standard” Christmas traditions. Like snowball fights! Unless you want to make the trip up the 9000+feet tall Mount Lemon to play in the couple of feet of snow that peppers the mountain in December and January. Caroling is another tradition that had to change a bit. I wrote in a previous blog about the last Christmas we spent in Tucson when I was about 12 years old. I received both a bike and a swimsuit as gifts and I put on the suit and went outside to ride the bike. Because of the warm winters, we couldn’t wear coats, scarves or gloves to go caroling. Although I loved hot chocolate, it was always too hot to really enjoy it.


Me at age 5 with
“wreath” in window.

One of the main traditions that everyone had to adapt to our weather was decorating the outside of our houses My mother took one of my hula hoops and cut holes in it to string blue Christmas lights on it. She then wrapped silver tinsel between the lights. She hung it in our enormous front window, and we plugged it in a night. Regular live wreaths dried up within days. We also had an aluminum Christmas tree with the color wheel. When my parents first moved to Tucson when I was 11 months old it was December 3rd. They bought a real tree and only had it up for about a week before it was totally dead! Hench, the aluminum one. Granted my mother was a very lazy person, and she probably forgot to water it, but once was enough for my Dad.

My earliest memory of Christmas was a place called Winterhaven. It was a newer subdivision in the northwest part of town. They decided as part of the celebration of the last house being bought that they would encourage all of the homeowners to decorate their yards. There was newspaper article written about it and that year, every night in December, hundreds of cars drove through the neighborhood to look at the sights. The next year they encouraged people to park and walk through. Although our family really had no traditions to speak of, this was one thing my Dad insisted we do every year. I looked forward to it every year because most of the people changed their decorations each season, each time trying to out do their neighbors!

I normally don’t add a lot of photos to my blogs, but I found out today that they decided to not decorate Winterhaven this year and the board also decided to not do it again. It is so sad to see it disappear after over 60 years of tradition. So I hope you enjoy these photos from the late 50s to mid 60s.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

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Monday’s for Me #41 ~ I’m Sorry You Feel That Way!

This blog is going to be a little different. Instead of a story about myself, I am going to address something that happened last week. I have posted 40 of these type of blogs since February and I never thought someone would respond to them in this way.

I received a message from one of my followers on my twitter account. This person has been following my blogs for over 5 years, and we have had many delightful conversations over that time. I think that is why this particular message bothered and confused me. She asked me, “Why do you think anyone wants to read these childish stories? I thought this was a Genealogy Blog?” I probably read her question 3 times before I could even begin to write a response.

I went back and looked at the blogs I first posted and I did include this statement “The purpose of this blog is to document the stories of my life. When I am gone my children, grandchildren and great-grandchild will have the memories of my life written by me. I am excited to begin this journey.” I personally consider this to be a Genealogy blog.

Granted, I haven’t included that opening for the last couple of months but even though I didn’t, I thought it was pretty evident that my “childish” blogs were Genealogy based, as they were intended to be passed down for the future generations. I guess, her comment bothered me more than I thought.

I responded politely, and thanked her for her input, but I guess my hurt feelings did eventually get a hold of me. I also included that now, because of writing this blog I have a great start on a book that can be passed on to my descendants. I then asked her if she can say the same. Yes, I hang my head in shame for being petty.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

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Mondays for Me #38 ~ Take it to the Bank!

I loved school as a child. I loved learning, I loved reading and writing, I loved recess, but mostly I loved just being away from home. My home life wasn’t the best and this was my escape. I was fortunate enough to have a great 5th grade teacher, who recognized my situation and showed me extra attention and kindness. When anything came up at school that required each classrooms’ participation, Mrs. Holman always picked me for it.

During the second week of school we were informed that one person from each grade would be chosen to be the “banker” for that grade. There were 3 classes per grade so it was a big deal to be chosen. I don’t know how it was determined who would represent a grade, but I was chosen for mine. I was so excited, even though I had no idea what I was going to be doing. Within a couple of days we had the first meeting of the “school bankers”. I learned that our responsibility was to go to all 3 of our grades’ classrooms and give a talk about why it was important to save money. Then we informed the kids that they could open their own savings account and on each Friday they could bring their money to school and “deposit” it in the bank. The perk for me was all 6 of the “bankers” got to go to the large Valley National Bank building in downtown Tucson, AZ. We were to take a tour of it and learn about money.

On the day of the trip to the bank, we all wore our best clothes. To be honest, when we pulled up to this 11-story building I had big butterflies in my stomach. However, once we went inside, they disappeared! There was so much to look at, especially all the people. We got to go behind the counter and watch the tellers give and receive money. We toured the safe deposit box room and along the way, the guide explained what everything was and its purpose. Then we were herded into the elevator, and we rode it to the 11th floor. All of these floors were just offices, but we did get to look out the windows. What a treat for a bunch of kids who had never been in a tall building before!

Then came the best part. We returned to the main floor and met the bank manager. He escorted us to the elevator once again, only this time we went to the basement. There was an enormous, round, metal door with a large lever on it. The manager opened it and we got to go inside. We were in the bank vault where all the money was kept. We viewed how they banded and stacked the different denominations of bills and coins. The manager reached into a drawer and pulled out a bill. He told us we were getting a special treat because very few people got to see what we were about to see. He then pulled out a 100,000 dollar bill! It was passed around, and we all got to hold it and look at it. It was a great day and experience.

That Friday after lunch, we were set up in the cafeteria with each grade having our own table. The children filed in and came to their grades table with their money in hand. My job was to “open” an account for them by putting their name on a saving book. I then took the money and wrote the amount on the first line, and then gave the book to the student. I counted all of the money from that day and place it in an envelope with the amount written on the outside. When we all were done, we took them to the Principals office. We did this each week, adding the new amount to the individual books until the end of school, when we refunded the children’s money. The average payout was $9, which was a lot of cash in 1966. I learned a lot during this process, the most important one was how and why to save money. Oh, I have had a great story to tell about handling a 100,000 dollar bill for all these years.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

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Monday’s for Me ~ “A School Field Trip”

Back in the “dark ages” when I was attending elementary school we only went on one field trip each year. Because of that, the teacher would try to make it very special. I vaguely remember most of them, but my 4th grade one left a lasting impression on me.

My first grade teacher was also my fourth grade teacher. I really liked her, and I was thrilled to find that I would be in her class again. All of the other teachers told their students at the beginning of the year where they would be going, however, Mrs. Woods just kept telling us to wait and see. The months passed by without even a hint of where we were going and all of us kids speculated as to what we would be doing. Then, at the end of February in 1965, Mrs. Woods told us that in one week we would be going on our field trip. The cheering was deafening, and one girl actually started crying.

On March 2nd, we all wore our best clothes to school. I was so excited I hardly slept the night before. All of the children sat quietly in our seats watching the hands on the clock edge towards 10. I don’t think I had ever been in a classroom that was that quiet before. At the stroke of 10 we lined up at the door and walked to the school bus that was waiting for us. I lived 3 blocks from school so getting to ride the bus was a thrill. It took a little over 20 minutes before we arrived in downtown Tucson, and we pulled up in front of the movie theater. We all let out a yell when we saw the words on the marque, “Now playing, “The Sound of Music”!

We all filed into the building, and we walked down what seemed like a mile long aisle. I ended up in the very front row and I sat in awe as I watched all the singing and dancing. I loved it. When we were on our way back to school the girls were trying to sing some of the songs we had heard, but we had the lyrics wrong. That didn’t really matter though because we had such a good time.

Many, many years later, my daughter and I would have girls nights at home. We would rent a couple of movies and buy snacks, then we would pull out the bed on the sofa and watch them. They were always musicals, and we would sing-a-long and have a great time. I had fallen in love with musicals way back in 4th grade, and I have Mrs. Woods to thank for that.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

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Monday’s for Me #36 ~ “A Hard Days Night!”

My Dad hated everything about the Beatles, their music, the lyrics, and especially their hair. He would take my sister and I to the mall to buy 45 rpm records about once a month. He wouldn’t let us buy any by this group. My mother had a way of bullying my Dad into doing what she wanted, and what she wanted was to make my sister happy. So finally he gave in and let her buy a couple of them.

The year was 1964, and the Beatles first movie had just come out. In July that year the movie, “A Hard Days Night” featuring the Beatles, began showing at the Drive-in. My sister really wanted to go see it, so after a couple of weeks my Dad surrendered to her wishes and said we could go. I really didn’t like the Beatles, but I loved going to the drive-in. We would take sodas, pop popcorn and buy candy to snack on. We would also bring two foldable lawn chairs for my parents and pillows for my sister and I to lean back on while sitting on the hood of the car.

It was a Friday night, and we were getting things ready to go. I helped carry everything out to the car, placing it all in the trunk. I hate waiting, even as a young child, so I stayed by the car, hoping everyone else would hurry. It was starting to get dark out. As soon as I saw my sister come through the back door I opened the back car door and jumped in! My sister got in the other side and then my parents opened the front doors. When they did, the dome light came on up on the roof. It was then that I happened to look at the floorboard. There between my feet was the largest tarantula I had ever seen!

I jumped out of the car, screaming to the top of my lungs. My Dad rushed around and used his handkerchief to scoop up the intruder. I was hysterical and I refused to get back in the car. After about 5 minutes of stern talking, my mother and sister “convinced” me to get back into the car, and we went to the movies. I spent the entire night checking every corner of the inside and outside of the car to see if there were more “spiders” hiding somewhere. I had a miserable time.

Here it is, 56 years later, and I am still scared of spiders. It doesn’t matter how small they are, if I start screaming my husband comes running to kill the dreaded monster! I blame the Beatles for my fear of arachnids on that first Hard Days Night’s!

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

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Monday’s for Me ~ Early Saturday Mornings

When growing up in Tucson, Arizona I remember I always looked forward to October. I am sure most people will think it is because I was excited to go Trick or Treating at the end of the month, or because our 80 degree fall temperatures were finally arriving. Although I did look forward to these, I was most excited about the early Saturday mornings. With the “cooler” temperatures it was finally safe to venture out into the surrounding desert.

Twice in October my Dad would pack up supplies in the car, and we would leave our house about half an hour before sunrise, and head out of town. We didn’t have to drive too far because we lived just outside the city limits. He would find a secluded spot and park. This time in the morning the desert air was always cool and very clean. As he and my mother would unload the trunk, my sister would find a place to sit and I would scour the area for wood for a fire. Usually by the time I would return with the wood in hand, my Dad was digging a shallow hole. He would then fill the hole with the wood and light it, and we would sit around it enjoying the warmth of it.

After about 20 or so minutes, he would begin to pull out the ingredients he brought to make breakfast. We always had the same thing, bacon, eggs, fried potatoes and toast. There was something about cooking it on an open fire in a cast iron skillet that made it the best breakfast in the world! After we ate, my sister and I would explore the area.

One of my favorite things to do was find an Arroyo and run up and down the slopes. They are usually dry at this time of year so the bottom is always packed with sand. During the monsoon season the excess rain water would rush through them, bringing debris and treasures. I would spend what seemed like hours digging in the sand and finding small toys, colorful rocks and on occasion I even found jewelry. At sometime during this “dig” I would conduct a safety drill. I would be digging and suddenly look up and yell “water!” and I would run as quickly as possible out of the Arroyo. This may sound strange but in the desert when water starts running through a wash it travels at a high rate of speed. Every year we heard about someone either barely escaping the flood of water, or someone being killed by it.

We would end our time there by gathering around the campfire and roasting marshmallows. I always liked mine a golden brown. We would then pack everything up and head home. I don’t have very many “good” memories of my childhood so this one is extra special to me.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

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Monday’s for Me ~ Not Your “Normal” Family

On February 10th, 1991, my mother passed away. If you have read any of my previous blogs pertaining to my mother, you know that she had a lot of mental problems. She also had a lot of other problems as well, such as being a racist. In 1986 when I married my husband George my mother gave me a choice, “Either get a divorce or be disowned!” Why? It was because George is Hispanic. I chose him over my mother and that was the last time I saw her or heard from her. My sister who is 4 years older than I still lived with my Mother, having never married nor having children, so as a result she too disowned me.
I remember this day very clearly. My two younger children, aged 13 and 15 were home with me in the early afternoon. There came a knock on the door and when I opened it, there stood two policemen. I knew it was bad news when I looked at their faces. I had seen that look before when the police came to tell me my previous husband had died in an accident. After verifying who I was they told me that my Mother had died the day before and my sister wanted me to call her and they gave me her phone number. Although it had been several years since we had seen her we were all very upset.
I immediately ran to the phone and called my sister. When she answered, I told her I had received her message and I wanted to know what happened. All she said was “Mom died, I already had her cremated so you are not needed for anything, I just felt you should know” then she hung up. I called both my husband and our Pastor. They arrived at the house at the same time. It was a very trying evening.
Fast-forward to 1997. My oldest son had taken off on his own in 1990. When he came back into our lives in 1993 and this is when he found out his Grandma had died. They had always been very close when he was growing up. Four years later he decided to get in touch with my sister. I gave him the last phone number I had for her, and he called. To everyone’s surprise, my mother answered the phone! She proceeded to tell him that I had purposely lied to him to keep him away from her. This was typical behavior for her. Even though both of the younger children told him about the day the police came and I called my sister, he did not believe them. He promptly decided that he too would disown me. About a year later he came back and apologized and wanted back into my life. Of course, I said yes. He was afraid my mother would find out, and then she would disown him. I told him that she would never find out from me.
June 16, 1999, is another day I will always remember. I was sitting at my desk at work and I received a phone call from my son. He told me, “Granny has died!” To be honest, I didn’t know how to feel. My mother and sister had pulled a horrible prank on me before so I was very apprehensive. I called the Funeral Home where they supposedly took her and found out it was true. I had to make the 180-mile trip from our home in Mesa, AZ to the Funeral Home in Tucson, AZ to sign a permission slip for her to be cremated.

It is a difficult experience to lose a parent. My Dad died when I was 19, and I was devastated! My mothers’ mental illness had always put a wall between her and me because I loved my Dad, and she didn’t (This is another very long story). It doesn’t matter the relationship, she will always be my mother. Going through her death was bad enough the first time, but it was even harder the second time.


I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

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