Journey 273: Food, Fun & Friendship

It was a beautiful journey today, through a pleasant day, that culminated at my sister Linda’s house. She invited me and our new friend Paula over for dinner. She provided lasagna, corn and baked potatoes. I brought salad, fruit and a small cheesecake. Paula brought the DVD, Talking to Heaven, a film based on the life of intuitive, James Van Praag. What a great evening we had, eating a meal together, chatting and watching the first half of the DVD, which is a mini series.   

 
And although the movie was good, detailing the life of a man who finds himself, reluctantly, gifted with amazing intuition, the real joy was hanging out with these two beautiful and authentic women. Linda is always great to offer her home as a place to gather. We are both eating with more deliberate attention to consuming healthier foods. Rather than grab fast food, she offered to cook.  It was fun to combine our offerings to make a scrumptious meal. It was a casual help-yourself kind of gathering and we settled into comfy spots in the living room to eat, chat and watch the DVD. Linda is not only my sister, and was my first friend. I appreciate both of my sisters so much, and my brother too. Sibling love is such a special kind of relationship, a cross between best friends and got-your-back family. 
 

And I appreciate Paula as well. The CS Lewis quote applies perfectly to that new friendship. We met by “chance”…which really means, our paths were drawn together, as we walked along, without planning on our part. We recognized kindred spirits in each other and have become friends. She shares a love of animals with Linda and their friendship is growing as well. How fun that we’ve all connected. I look forward to many future lunches and dinners and times of just hanging out. The ability to fully be oneself with another, gifts, quirks and all, is a blessing and I’m grateful for both Linda and Paula. 
 

Paula not only brought the entertainment for the evening, she surprised us with gifts that she made. I love her creativity and her thoughtfulness. The vases she made, with flowers tucked within, are gorgeous and mine is already on display in my house, as Linda’s is in her home. Friendship means so much to me and I am thankful for these two companions who are traveling alongside. What adventures await us?! 

   

Journey 267: New Restaurant, Old Friend

I had a particular journey planned for today. My intention was to pick up my granddaughter Aubrey from school and that the two of us would have afternoon tea while watching the new Cinderella movie on DVD. However, that is not the journey that unfolded  this afternoon. On this gorgeous day, Aubrey and I ended up at a local park, where she was joined by a friend from school. It was a wonderful afternoon spent outdoors. I considered watching Cinderella this evening, anyway. What I love about my journey is living out the statement, “Open to everything, attached to nothing.” Before I left the park, Greg contacted me to say a friend was in town, whom we had not seen for 30 years. Would I want to go to dinner? Yes….yes I would!

After taking Aubrey home, we made arrangements to meet at Joplin’s newest restaurant, Texas Roadhouse. Perfect! A first, combined with the reconnection of a dear friend from my youth. My journey took care of itself. With high anticipation, Greg and I met Jerry at the hotel where he was staying, and walked across the parking lot to the restaurant that features hand-cut steaks, grilled pork chops and chicken and tender ribs, all in a friendly, western themed atmosphere. We had a 20 minute wait, but that was okay. There were ample places to sit while we waited. Snagging a bag of in-the-shell peanuts, we settled on a bench outside, and used the time to catch up.

    Gotta love a place where you can throw peanut shells on the ground!

I met Jerry in the little town of Noel, MO, when Greg and I were dating. I was 16 years old and Jerry about 19 and Greg 22. Jerry’s grandparents and an aunt and uncle lived in Noel. He spent the summer in that sleepy little community and then attended college for the next four years at John Brown University, in Siloam Springs, AR. Greg attended John Brown as well. That summer was a time of hanging out and talking about life and figuring out the next step along our paths. Mine was easy. I was still in high school. But I benefitted from my connections with these older friends and they were all great to include me in their activities. Alas, I was the only one with a curfew!

But what fun we had over the next few years. College and ministry and meeting new people, weddings and graduations, and embarking on new adventures. Jerry met his bride, Susan, while in school. The four of us got together often. Life took us in different directions eventually. Greg and I to Joplin, MO. Jerry and Susan to the Oklahoma City, OK area. Our families grew, as children arrived. And after a couple of impromptu visits, when Jerry and Susan happened to be near Joplin, we fell out of touch.

I’m grateful for Facebook, because recently we all connected there. A couple of weeks ago, Jerry contacted Greg to say he passes through Joplin, on business trips, occasionally. Tonight, he took the time to reach out and say he was here!

We began catching up as we sat outside, and then continued after we were seated at a booth within. We paused in our stories long enough to order dinners, which were delicious. I had a grilled pork chop that was so tender and seasoned perfectly. The staff was friendly and the service great.

texas roadhouse grilled pork chop

As wonderful as the meal experience was, the real journey tonight centered around friendship and bonds that never break. It was amazing to hear where life and the Divine have led Jerry and Susan, who have five grown children and five grandchildren. It’s been an exciting adventure for them, that continues on. I appreciated Jerry’s views on life and his great attitude. From our youth, I remembered his big heart, his charming smile and his beautiful singing voice. He still possesses all three. We finished our meals and walked back to the hotel, where we sat outside, enjoying the mild temps, laughing over stories, old and new, and joyfully picked up the threads of our friendships.

What a fun evening. I am grateful for Jerry and for friendship, for memories and new opportunities for growing those relationships. And I am grateful for the flow of life and Divine direction, which never fails to surprise and delight me. It’s all about trust. And staying open. I am loving this journey.

 

Journey 244: Jimmy’s Egg

I’ve always thought it would be fun to eat at different restaurants and do reviews on the food and service. While the experiences of trying new foods and new eating establishments would be wonderful, I don’t think I am objective enough to be critical. I look for what’s good, what’s unique, what works in each restaurant, rather than any negatives. Yesterday, I got to try an established restaurant in Arkansas that was new to me. Today, thanks to a spontaneous lunch invite from my friend, Garen, I had the opportunity to try a restaurant that is new to Joplin and unfamiliar to me.

jimmys egg

Jimmy’s Egg, located at 1611 S Range Line in Joplin, recently opened. What a fun name! I figured out the chain restaurant offers an assortment of egg dishes, for breakfast and lunch. I knew nothing else about the franchise. Launched from Oklahoma City, OK, in 1980, Jimmy’s Egg, named after the original founder Jim Newman, specializes in cracked-to-order three egg omelets and scrambled skillets, cups of coffee and freshly baked breads and biscuits. Also on the menu are pancakes, French Toast and Belgian waffles. And for lunches, freshly made salads, hamburgers and sandwiches. The restaurant is open daily from 6:00 am to 2:00 pm.

Loc Le, who was a Vietnamese refugee seeking asylum in the US, purchased the single restaurant from Jim. Loc and his wife grew the business to 14 restaurants in the Oklahoma City metro area. In 2008, Loc joined with Garfield’s owner Jim Burke, launching the franchise, which now has 23 locations in Oklahoma, Missouri, Texas, Nebraska and Kansas.

I was expecting more of a fast food type establishment, but Jimmy’s Egg is a sit down restaurant, with friendly staff and a great menu. Garen and I both elected to have breakfast for lunch. I zeroed in on the Farmers Scrambled Skillet, a delicious combination of scrambled eggs, ham, bacon, onions, peppers, cheese and homestyle potatoes, and a side of homemade cinnamon raisin bread. Garen opted for a Mexican omelet. with sides of the cinnamon raisin bread and biscuits and gravy. I might add, that neither of us had eaten anything yet when we had lunch!

It was a great meal, with a very cheerful, attentive server who kept our water and tea glasses filled. We had an assortment of salsas and sauces to try with our eggs. The restaurant was clean, with that still-new look, and busy, with plenty of booths and tables for seating.

I appreciated Garen’s invitation. And as always, I appreciated Garen! We chatted and caught up with each other’s journeys, which is valuable enough. However, Garen offers insights, suggestions and stories out of his heart and his experiences, which I find priceless. He is an amazing companion to journey through life with. And adventurous to look for new restaurants to try, new foods to savor. Great qualities in a fellow traveler, and great choice in a restaurant today!

jimmys egg scrambled skillet

Journey 84: Tolkien Reading Day

Tolkien Reading Day

Today, March 25, is celebrated each year by the Tolkien Society, as a day set aside to honor JRR Tolkien’s life and work by reading passages from his books. The Society began this practice in 2003. March 25th was chosen because in the Middle Earth history, that date marks the downfall of Sauron with the destruction of the one ring.

Somehow, this special day has escaped my notice, until this year. I was delighted to discover the celebration last week and looked forward to spending time reading in one of my Tolkien books. I had originally intended to read in the Silmarillion, a collection of stories that tells the history of Middle Earth before the time depicted in The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I realized late this afternoon that each year has a different theme, for Tolkien Reading Day. This year’s theme is Friendship.

Í chose to read instead from The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, near the end of the book. The chapter I chose is titled Many Partings which tells of the breaking of the Fellowship. Cozy inside while storms moved through the area, a cup of hot tea nearby, I enjoyed my soulful journey back to Middle Earth.

In the final Lord of the Rings movie, we last see the Fellowship together at Minas Tirith, the White City, shortly after Aragorn has been crowned king. The next scene we see is one of the Hobbits returning to the Shire, riding in as princes, grown and changed from the Hobbits who excitedly began their adventure together 13 months before.

In the book, there are several chapters between those two scenes. In Many Partings the Fellowship leaves Minas Tirith as a “great and fair company.” Queen Arwen accompanies her King and husband. Legolas and Gimli continue to ride together on their horse. Eomer bears home the body of his uncle, King Theoden, who fell in battle. Eowyn and her betrothed, Faramir are part of the company. As is Elrond and his sons, and Galadriel and her husband, Celeborn. The Hobbit friends ride their ponies. And Gandalf, as always, oversees the whole group. These are the key characters from the story, from the Fellowship, minus Boromir, who fell protecting the Hobbits before the Fellowship broke into three groups.

They have long journeyed together, and for a short time, they continue to. Back in Rohan, King Theoden is laid to rest, in a great and honoring ceremony. Eomer is crowned king and his sister Eowyn and Faramir announce their upcoming marriage. It is a very touching moment when Eowyn looks into Aragorn’s eyes and  says, “Wish me joy, my liege-lord and healer.” With such grace, he replies, “I have wished thee joy ever since I first saw thee. It heals my heart to see thee now in bliss.” Arwen remains in Gondor, to await her husband’s return. She withdraws into the hills to speak words of love and sorrow to her father, Elrond, whom she will not see again. Choosing to be mortal, she gives Frodo the gift of passing into the West, when the time comes.

The first good-byes, the first parting, and the rest of the party continue on. Stopping by Isengard, the group checks on Tree Beard, an ancient Ent. Merry and Pippen especially are sad at this good-bye, as they spent much time with this strange fellow who looks like a tree. Legolas and Gimli depart, set on an adventure of their own, their friendship entering into legend.  A short distance beyond, Aragorn takes his leave of the Fellowship. This was a difficult parting, as Aragorn had been the guide for the Hobbits through many perils, and their friend.

Near Rivendell the Lady Galadriel and Lord Celeborn turned toward their home, knowing that their time in Middle Earth is drawing to a close. At last arriving in Rivendell, the Hobbits rest for a time, reunited with a very elderly Bilbo, who sleeps and wakes to eat and visit for short periods of time. Frodo fears he will not see his uncle again, but Elrond assures him that in about a year, he will personally escort Bilbo to the Shire.

The chapter ends with only Gandalf and the Hobbits continuing on, bound for the Shire. There was great sadness in the many partings, and yet what amazing, life changing adventures the Fellowship shared.

I was very thoughtful as I read this chapter. I am so very grateful for all who have traveled with me on my own journey, serving as my friends, as my guides, as my companions. Some I have already said good-bye to. Some still walk alongside me. There are those who were destined to walk with me for a short time and now, no longer do. I am thankful for those traveling companions as they challenged me, made me grow, or offered encouragement along the sometimes difficult path. I am who I am, because of the journey, and because of those who have walked with me and those who continue to. I know there will be more partings. It is the nature of the journey. The nature of life. I want to hold all in gratitude.

In honor of this great author, and the friendship theme, I offer these words of Tolkien, as spoken by Elrond as the Fellowship departed from Rivendell the first time:

“You will meet many foes, some open, and some disguised; and you may find friends along your way when you least look for it.”

Tolkien Reading Day Frodo

Journey 43: Friendship Strengthens the Journey

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Tonight I am blogging from a restaurant parking lot, due to problems with the AT&T tower near my home. No internet on phone or computer means I’m in the ridiculous position of driving around, checking my phone for a signal so that I can post.

Of course I could have used the lack of internet as an excuse not to post today and made up for it tomorrow. However, I have written and posted a blog 406 days in a row. I’ve blogged from Scotland, while at the homes of friends and family, late at night and while ill, tired or grieving. No faulty cell phone tower is going to trifle with me! It’s all part of my journey.

The journey earlier today was soulful, and taken while in the company of one of my dearest friends. Garen and I have known each other for 7 years, and met via a business organization. When we sat down together for the first time to get better acquainted, it was if we had always known each other. The connection was immediate and an easy friendship developed that has truly been a blessing to me.

We met for lunch, and our conversation was at times light and fun. Garen has a wicked sense of humor. He also possesses one of the keenest business minds that I’ve encountered and his ability to think creatively and expansively always inspires me.

I chatted about my journey, and my hopes, dreams and intentions for the immediate future, expressing two of my truths: “I am open to everything and attached to nothing.” and “Everything that shows up in my life is an ongoing conversation with the Divine.” I so appreciate Garen’s thoughtful responses and suggestions.

We talked about my desire to write, to teach through my writings, and to travel. He made a profound statement and asked a question, and both will shape my future journey. Garen suggested I look at where those three desires intersect, the writing, the teaching, and the traveling, and at that intersection I will find my purpose and my way of offering to the world. He then shared this powerful question with me, from the book, “Zero to One”, by Peter Thiel and Blake Masters: “What important truth do you know that very few people would agree with you on?”. The answer to that questions reveals my area of teaching, my gift to the world.

I have thought all day about what Garen shared with me. And I have expressed gratitude multiple times for this dear friend. We each make our own way in the world, seeking our own paths, learning from our own experiences on the journey. How beautiful it is when another appears on the path, walking alongside and saying, “I’m headed that way too. Mind if I walk with you for a while?” There’s increased joy and greater energy in a journey that’s shared, and a helping hand when it’s needed, a shoulder to cry on when grief appears, and encouragement through the challenging twists and turns on the path. I am very thankful for this fellow traveler and my sincerest desire is to offer back to him during his journey as well.

As John Lennon sang, “I get by with a little help from my friends.” I do more than that. I am enriched, encouraged and inspired with a little help from my friends. Thank you Garen, my friend.

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Journey 35: Dinner with Cate

Dinner with Cate taco bar

Getting to hang out with a dear friend and share a meal is a special part of the journey. Tonight I enjoyed a home cooked meal with Cate at her home. Even with the threat of winter weather and slick roads, I wanted to spend a couple of hours in the company of this cheerful, encouraging woman.

Cate prepared a wonderful dinner featuring a taco bar, Spanish rice and black beans. The spicy aroma greeted me as I entered Cate’s cozy home. She’s always been gracious in allowing me to take pics to document my firsts last year and my journeys this year. I love this picture of Cate filling her plate, her face lit up with a huge smile. What you can’t hear is the laughter ringing out as well. We laugh a lot when we are together, and chat non-stop. Because this was a celebratory dinner, for my birthday last month, Cate baked cookies for dessert. They were delicious, and also gluten free and made with coconut sugar instead of regular sugar. We both love hot tea, and had a cup with our cookies. What a perfect end to the meal.

Dinner with Cate

Cate is one of those friends that I can talk about any topic with, and we generally cover a wide range of subjects! Even though I was originally keeping an eye on the weather, I soon forgot about that as we finished dinner and carried our hot tea and the conversation into the living room. I really appreciate Cate. She has an amazing perspective on the journey, living as she does in awareness while fully engaging life. She brings a rich knowledge of so many subjects into the conversations along with a quick wit. And she is one of the most compassionate people I know. I am privileged to call her friend and to have her as a traveling companion on the journey.

dinner with Cate dessert and tea

And speaking of journey, she presented me with a hoodie tonight, that is perfect for this time of year AND has my word on it! “It’s the Journey” is proclaimed boldly across the front. Beneath those words, it says Kansas Explorers Club. I love that…an explorer’s club! Yes, I’m all in. After a delightful evening I opened the front door to head for home and discovered that it had snowed lightly. All was well, however. I made it safely home. It was a perfect evening, spent with a wonderful friend, and I left at the perfect time. That’s how the journey flows…beautifully.

dinner with Cate Journey hoodie

Day 296: Sweet Carolines Treat with Cate

Sweet Carolines logo

This afternoon, my dear friend Cate and I had planned a trip to Galena, KS to visit a new ice cream parlor there with a unique twist. Due to a death in the family, that parlor is closed for a few days. We will save that adventure for another time! We decided to get together still, in search of a first, and met at the Gryphon Building in downtown Joplin to check out the new restaurant that just opened there, The Dining Car. We met at 4:00, only to discover that the restaurant didn’t open until 5:00.

No worries! We chose instead to enjoy an ice cream at Sweet Carolines Ice Cream & Coffee Parlor, also located in the Gryphon Building. I have been here once before, so to create a first, I tried something new. This wasn’t difficult, since Sweet Carolines serves 32 yummy flavors of ice cream!

I normally go for a vanilla based ice cream, such as pralines and cream, or blueberry cheesecake. I’m not a big chocolate fan. So today, I decided to go with a chocolate treat. Sweet Carlolines had several amazing looking selections. The helpful young man behind the counter let me sample a couple of possibilities. I settled on a waffle cone, with a single scoop of Pirate’s Plunder, a decadent chocolate based ice cream with chocolate covered pecans, mini caramel cups and swirls of thick caramel. Cate had pistachio with hot fudge sauce. Since she normally chooses chocolate ice cream, this was a different selection for her as well.

Sweet Carolines treat with Cate

The real treat today was getting to chat with Cate as we enjoyed our ice cream. When we get together we pick right back up on our conversation, as if we had just been chatting a few minutes ago. We met for the first time earlier this year, and yet we are like long time friends. Today we had much to catch up on and much to share about our respective journeys. We chatted long after the ice cream was gone! That is the sweetness of friendship and I appreciate Cate very much. When we at last left the ice cream parlor, we hit the “pause” button on our conversation. After all, we have two other places to visit in the near future, for firsts, and we will continue our visiting there!

Sweet Carolines treat  Pirates Plunder

Day 269: Afternoon Tea with a Friend

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What a special afternoon as my friend Cate joined me for the first time in my backyard garden, for tea. The day was gorgeous and the temperature mild. It was perfect for turning the bistro table into a tea table.

I’ve shared afternoon tea with family and enjoyed the experiences. What a treat to invite a dear friend to share a pot of Scottish Highland tea and all the goodies. I’ve told Cate about my work in progress in the backyard. I wanted her to see how the plants and flowers have grown and filled in the borders.

When she arrived we walked around the garden, Phase One, and I had the opportunity to share what the next phases will be.

The sun was still warming the brick patio, so we opted to move the table and two chairs into the meditation area, which was shaded. I dressed the glass and metal bistro table with a paisley shawl, in fall colors, and added rust colored cloth napkins.

While the tea brewed in the white porcelain pot, I brought out white tea cups and saucers, a small pitcher of milk, plates and silverware, and platters for the tiered serving set. We enjoyed cream cheese and cucumber sandwiches, Elven Lembas bread, another first…serving it with afternoon tea…butter and strawberry jam, pumpkin spice cupcakes and Walker’s shortbread cookies. It was a simple tea, made more special because it was served in the garden, and shared with a friend.

Cate and I spent an relaxed afternoon chatting over tea. I value her friendship and her wisdom, and appreciate her views of the world. What a privilege to have such an amazing traveling companion. I look forward to the continuing journey and more afternoons in the garden, savoring cups of Scottish tea!

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Day 253: Ahi Tuna Salad at The Eagle Drive In

 

ahi tuna salad e

This evening my dear friend, Cate, and I had a girls’ night out. In the spirit of true friendship, she is always willing to share a first experience. She selected The Eagle Drive In, as our place to meet for dinner. Great idea! I have eaten at this wonderful little restaurant once, late last year. I looked forward to another meal there and trying something new off of their interesting menu.

The Eagle Drive In, located at 4224 S Main Street, Joplin, has the look of an old fashioned drive in type diner. But their menu is anything but traditional. Yes, they offer gourmet hamburgers, the good old thick burgers with all the fixings. However, you can also try a bison burger topped with BBQ blueberry sauce or a black bean burger topped with mixed greens and curried mayo. The diner also offers steaks and seafood and a great selection of salads.

Tonight, opting for lighter fare, Cate and I both ordered the ahi tuna salad and split an order of The Eagle Drive In’s famous seasoned fries with Eagle dipping sauce. The salad was amazing! The ahi tuna was fresh and delicious, and plentiful, the slices piled on mixed greens. I savored each bite. And the fries were great too, crispy and seasoned perfectly.

If the meal was fantastic, and it was, the conversation was even more so. Over dinner Cate and I chatted….about the day, about friendship, about life. It is so good to have such an awesome traveling companion. Our journeys are very similar and yet we bring to the friendship our own perspectives and ideas. Joy shared is multiplied, and that is always the case when I get to hang out with Cate. I look forward to our continuing friendship and I appreciate all that I learn from this beautiful soul.

Day 210: Paper Making

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One of the most amazing benefits that I’ve experienced during this year of firsts has been making new friends. These wonderful people have so many gifts to offer to the world and it has been my privilege to learn from many of them. Tonight, I had fun with Cate as I made paper for the first time.

Cate is the first new friend that I made this year. We hit it off right away, having similar views on life and the world, and it is a joy to be traveling companions. Cate is resourceful, creative and lives life at a high level of awareness. I always love spending time with her. This evening, she invited me to her home for dinner and a lesson on paper making. We enjoyed a healthy and delicious dinner, that included Noosa yogurt and fresh peaches for dessert, easy conversation and much laughter. We caught up on what was going on in our journeys. And then it was time to make paper.

We walked around outside first, looking for natural finds to include in our paper. We snipped red and pink dianthus flowers and orange trumpet vine blossoms and dropped them into a glass bowl. We added bright green blades of grass, fuzzy seeds from a tall weed, purple and green poke berries and delicate silvery leaves from a dusty miller plant.

paper making ingredients e

Back inside, we each selected a piece of paper and tore it into small pieces. Cate saves scrap paper, tissue paper and other left over bits to reuse in her paper making. I thought that was an excellent idea! I picked out a blue scrapbook paper with white dots and added a small piece of lime green tissue paper with silver sparkles imbedded in it. The pieces of paper were dropped into a blender and about three cups of hot water added. I blended the water and paper until the pieces of paper had disappeared and there was a blue liquid in the container. I sorted through our nature finds and added blades of grass, an orange trumpet vine blossom and a couple of purple poke berries. This time I only blended for three or four seconds….just enough time to coarsely chop up the added material.

paper making blender e

This lumpy mixture was poured into a box that had been placed in water and to which a mesh screen, support grid and cover had been attached. This provided a mold for the paper to form in. I stirred the mixture with my hand to distribute the materials evenly and then carefully lifted the box straight up. The screen, support grid and cover unfastened from the box to allow the newly formed paper to rest on the table. I removed the screen and the support grid and began the blotting process, flipping the damp paper and removing the cover so I could blot the other side. I used a sponge first, to absorb as much excess water as possible, and then used blotting papers.

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Lastly, the paper was placed within a fold of material and I used a hot iron to complete the drying process. The procedure was simple but so interesting. I loved the surprise of seeing how the paper turned out, both in color and texture, as I moved from step to step. Cate did a great job of instructing me while allowing me to do it all myself. I enjoyed watching her create her own sheet of paper next, using scrap white paper and a dianthus flower, blades of grass and a dusty miller leaf. As I watched her work, the song “Happy” by Pharrell Williams popped into my head. I snapped a pic of Cate just as she embodied that song, a huge smile lighting up her face.  I failed to get a picture of her finished paper, but it was lovely!

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What a delightful evening and I got to take home my new creation. I’d like to purchase a paper making kit and experiment with colors and textures, using flowers, grasses and leaves from my backyard garden. I appreciated the paper making lesson from my friend Cate this evening and the shared meal and the great conversation. I intend to frame my beautiful piece of paper as a memento of this evening’s first. And perhaps include a quote from Jim Henson that seems so appropriate: “There’s not a word yet, for old friends who have just met.”

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