Review of “In The Shadows: High School Horrors” by H.R Hyacinth

In the Shadows

The old adage applies: “Be careful what you wish for”.

Emma Mayweather is tormented on a daily basis by Rachel Conniver, the school bully. And for what? Stupid things, of course, like not wearing what other girls wear or not having her hair in a particular style. Instead of making waves, though, Emma simply avoids Rachel, preferring to spend her free time in the company of the school’s water heater in a largely-unused room at school. To her, the quiet and shadows are a comfort. In her words, “I feel safe in the shadows, with only the dust bunnies and a few occasional spiders as company. Spiders might be scary and ugly, but (they) don’t bully me…”

Unfortunately for Emma, the cocoon she has built around herself is about to be shattered. Rachel has cooked up the ultimate torment, one that is displayed before most of the school…and on cellphone screens everywhere. Forced to witness this display, Emma collapses in despair and humiliation.

After a night of hoping and wishing never to see what she witnessed ever again, or the smirks on the faces of her schoolmates, Emma gets her wish–she wakes up unable to see at all.

Thus begins a journey–one that leads her to discover her own strengths, and to be able to see, without her eyes, just what is important and what isn’t. The people she has known for so long surprise her, as her images of them are shattered and she finds that there is more love out there than she ever knew possible.


This book still gives me goosebumps as I write this review. What surprised–and pleased–me the most is just how the best in people can come out in times like this. The least surprising is that it actually happened. Having been a victim of bullying myself, the trauma and terrorizing of the quiet and out-of-the-ordinary types was something I could readily relate to.

And, yes, the book is a true story–embellished in places, as noted by the author.

Emma was, of course, my favorite character, but not because I saw my own high school life reflected in her. I loved her because of her generous heart and her forgiving attitude. The dedication at the beginning of the book sums Emma’s attitude up nicely:

This is dedicated to the bullies…I didn’t let you beat me.

Another thing I should mention: Portions of the proceeds of the sales from this book are donated to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, and to The New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

PS: This book is best read by people aged 16 and up, as per the author.

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Review of “Beyond the Realm of Night”, by Jane Dougherty

Jane Dougherty Book3

The armies have amassed. The heroes of memory have joined the battle against Abaddon and his demons, both fighting for possession of Providence. It would seem obvious which way the citizens would sway, once the gates were opened. After all, they’d seen the menace, witnessed the evil.

But the leader of their salvation is…a mere girl? A female?

The lessons of the “Wise God” run deep and strong, and the idea of a simple “swoop-and-save” becomes irrelevant in the face of obstinacy.

This is not, however, the biggest obstacle Deborah faces. The hardest lessons to learn, and the biggest evils to conquer, originate within herself.

Jealousy, bitterness, fear of failure–these must be conquered before Deborah can lead her army to victory.

Abaddon knows this–and exploits it as much as he can…


I have been waiting to get  my hands on this book ever since reading “The Subtle Fiend”, the second story in the “Green Woman” series. Throughout the first and second books, and ancillary short stories profiling the lives and fates of individuals in Providence, the author has drawn her readers into a fantastic story, one that clashes the drear bland existence of a tyrannical government with a colorful, exciting world that is mere myth to those who plod along in the greyness of survival.

I liken this last offering to being cast adrift on a sea of evil. Together with those populating the adventures Ms. Dougherty has given us, we ride the waves of victory and wallow in the troughs of despair. On and on through the night, we catch glimpses of the shining goal that is the Garden; the Earth returned to its virgin green innocence.

But the journey is hard and frustrating; we see the shore, and then it is taken from us.

Eventually, our boat touches that land, and we escape to terra firma, joyful in the knowledge of the safety of that brave new land.

However—a word of warning to those who dare to venture too close to those dark waters again: the tide is quick and treacherous…










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Review of “The Adventures of Kyle McGerrt: Hunt for the Ghoulish Bartender”, by Charles Day


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The old Indian chief had all good, vengeful intentions in mind when he cursed Bart Shires with his dying breath.

However, instead of creating a mindless monster that would eliminate its own race, Bart becomes even worse: an intelligent ghoul that can propagate and run an entire army of his own. And his tastes go beyond the people of European descent–ol’ Bart hates everyone, except as unwilling dinner guests. From a gang of heartless outlaws to a gentle Baptist preacher, he does not discriminate when it comes to killing and destroying.

The only man he fears, the only rival that is untouchable, is a 16-year-old kid by the name of Kyle McGertt. And that boy is fixin’ to ride into town in the very near future. Protected by one-half of a special gold medallion, Kyle is safe, as long as it is around his neck.

Ghoul or good guy—who will it be? Much rides on each one’s cleverness—and who has the medallion in the end.


Charles Day has invented a page-turner here. A very nice twist on the traditional Western novel, he introduces characters that are straight out of the 1800s, but mixes in a bit of magic as well. The descriptions are well-written; the reader can almost smell the whiskey and sweat, the dust and the heat, of this remote Western town. The characters are fairly typical Western-novel inhabitants, and as in many Westerns, they are background for the main characters. Yet the reader can definitely cheer the hero and curse the villain—there is no doubt who is who. In many ways, this book is very much like a 19th-century version of the TV show Grimm, where an officer of the law finds himself fighting creatures that had heretofore been considered mythical.

What I really liked was the introduction of the little girl, Mary. She seems the innocent little six-year-old orphan, but there is just the right amount of tension, where she might be something other than her outward appearance.

Perhaps we will find out more about her, and see where she fits into the game, when Mr. Day’s next book in the series, Curse of the Earth Monster, is released.

I for one am looking forward to it.

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Review of “Roly-Poly Monster Goes to the Zoo”, by Charity Tober


Three-eyed pandas!

Feeding the pink…whatever-it-is…at the petting zoo!

Monster meatball subs, and ice cream for dessert!

Then a zoo-train ride, and a new friend from the gift shop.

Roly-Poly Monster has had the best day of his life. And it was thanks to his parents, who’d planned this outing just for him.


If I had little ones, this would be the perfect book for them. The words are easy to understand, and would also be a terrific story for those who are just learning to read. I loved the family ambience, and the love that was evident among the main characters.

What really sets this book apart, however, are the illustrations. The artist, Andrew Tober, did a wonderful job of creating this monster world. The animals and monsters are friendly, beautifully rendered, and their colors are uncomplicated and cheerful. I loved the “movement maps”, meaning the dotted lines that showed Roly-Poly’s trail from one place to another. It really is like following a small child through the zoo. There is a map of the zoo train’s trail through the exhibits too; it would be fun to help a child follow this track to the different areas and animals.

This is the second Roly-Poly book Ms. Tober has published, and I hope she has many more to follow. Great writing!

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Review of “Fantacia: The Beginning”, by Ruth Watson-Morris


The Powers That Be have decreed it, so it must be true.


It seems that enough people believe it; the ships leaving for Titan are full of escapees. But here’s the thing:  those people are only on the voyage out because they are the Best and Brightest.

Among them are Fantacia and her family: partner Drakos, son Orion (with his dog, Shadow), daughter Sky, and granddaughter Emmina. They are part of the last group to leave, carried away from the supposedly doomed planet and all they knew and loved.

Having arrived on Titan, a lot happens to them in a very short time. Fantacia and Drakos are assigned to the task of searching for artefacts, especially a book called The Book of Demons. Incantations from its pages can destroy worlds and obliterate entire universes.

Fantacia knows where this book is, and is concerned as to why others would want to find it. Her questions are answered by some bizarre turns of events that change her family’s lives forever.

Angels and alien worlds are pitted against demons and the undead, as the battle rages for the ownership of the book that holds the fates of galaxies between its pages.


The first book in The Voxian Series, this has set the groundwork for what will surely be a fantastic tale. From winter-choked Earth, to sterile Titan, to bounteous Vox, the author has created very real and believable worlds that bring us easily into the story.

The reader is introduced to a wide panoply of characters (fortunately, they are all noted in an index in the back) that settles into the reader’s heart right away. Not only does Fantacia’s family set up house on Titan–and, later, on faraway Vox–but they find their way into our lives as well. Happy-go-lucky Orion, perplexed but loving Fantacia, grumbling but kind-hearted Drakos, the mother-child relationship between Sky and Emmina–they all become the characters we all cheer for–memorable, heroic, and loving. This goes beyond their own family, and when their alien relatives are introduced, the circle only becomes wider. It is this love and faith in each other that sets the stage for the good they do beyond what is necessary for their own personal survival.

Of course, there’s the evil side too–but even these characters, with rare exception, seem redeemable throughout the story. Ms. Watson-Morris has done a great job in making these characters, if not lovable, at least understood in light of their circumstances. And that is not easy to do.

There is a great deal of entertainment value in the story, and a series that I will definitely follow.

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The Mother of All Relays–done again!


Done and done again. One more year for 4000+ participants, either running from the slopes of Mt. Hood or walking from the middle of Portland–not to mention the volunteers, everyday citizens along the route, police and  security officials–all those who made this yet another fantastic event.

For our team, “Sleepless in Seaside”, it was one unmatched by any in our seven-year history as participants. Except for “The Year of the Really Big Blisters”, at no other time have we had such a rich and colorful adventure. Our three new team members now know that what we told them at the outset was no exaggeration.

Our team was slotted to start at 3:00AM (yes–in the morning), and after our usual Keystone-Kops rendition of “Find the Start Line” (I hate driving in the city, and none of us can ever remember precisely how to get to the  beginning of this event), we got there in time–with time to spare for such things as Dutch Bros. Coffee and checking out the freebie booths. (How the homeless folks under the Hawthorne Bridge got any sleep that night is beyond me.)

Amy took off with the first group, and the race was on!

And we were back in the van, and the driving debacle resumed. Half the fun of starting the event in the dark is figuring out how to get back across the Willamette so we could follow Amy. Did I tell you I hate driving in the city? There was no experience this morning that changed my opinion at all…

We got on track, and Amy finished her leg. Paul started, we took off–and no one waved us onto the correct road further on. I’m glad I looked to the left–and recognized the road we usually take – as we passed it. Did an Oregon U-turn–which consists of pulling into a convenient parking lot and heading back. At 3:30AM, every parking lot is convenient. And Paul and someone else walked two blocks past that same road, and would have been heading who-knows-where if a police officer hadn’t put them right.

More fun further on. As the sun was just coming up, we pulled the van to the side of a busy highway to wait for Claire, our third walker. She passed us, we cheered and gave her water, and jumped back into the van.

Which then proceeded to NOT go.

The battery was done…

The van behind us was willing to help with the problem, but didn’t have jumper cables. I ran along the road, asking every van that was parked there–there were about eight or twelve by then. Finally found some–but it still took a ton of time to even get the cables connected. Reason being, our van’s engine compartment was designed by a sadistic clown with a real hatred for motorists. Stupid fuse box is built on top of the battery–which is also installed SIDEWAYS, so that it takes someone with really tiny hands to reach around it. We thought for sure that Claire would be waiting for us at the relay exchange, wondering what had happened to us, because this was taking forever. I have to thank the angels who not only finally got the engine going, but the darlings of the team “Treasured Chests” who waited patiently for us to finish up using their cables.

Claire got to the exchange about five minutes after we pulled in, which was a wonderful surprise. The handoff was made, and off we went again.

My leg was 7.68 miles, pretty much a straight, even shot along the highway from St. Helens to Scappoose. For being ten pounds heavier than last year, I still made pretty good time. Everyone passed me, but that wasn’t unexpected. My shoes must have been too loose, because my toes were ramming up against the ends of my shoes. So when I reached the relay exchange, I had a charley horse and my toes were asking for a divorce.

Thankfully the weather was very agreeable this year, so we didn’t have to battle the usual heat. Some years are excruciatingly hot–but this was a nice, mellow day. For those of us who are more sensitive to heat as we get older, this was a godsend.

I will, however, be losing two or three toenails. Meh, they’ll grow back. They always have in the past. Just not as pretty…ish…

The dreaded gravel leg finally got Paul–but I think it was a combination of things. His back had already been griping him somewhat, then there was the long uphill trek. The gravel miles in shadeless heat would put anyone out – but this time, it was worse. He made it, and in decent time–but it wasn’t his usual conquest. I think I will train this year to take that sucker myself. Unless he wants to kill it mercilessly next year–wouldn’t blame him.

There was a guy doing the entire route himself, from Mt. Hood to Seaside–just himself. No van support, no team–just relying on the beneficence of the runners, walkers, and volunteers. Whether or not he paid to be in the event, I have no idea. But he didn’t have a number–just the word “solo” on his race bib.

We met up with the other half of our team with little or no trouble–quite the feat, considering it was dark yet again when our group finished with our legs. Finding each other this easily is highly unusual–in the past, we’ve had quite the scramble. A huge, grassy field, hundreds of vans, people milling about in the dark, no cellphone coverage–it’s a miracle we found each other as fast as we did. Our vans had Christmas lights around the top, but so did many others. It’s tricky finding the right configuration of lights. All vans have some sort of decorations–from sublime to outlandish–but in the dark, not all of those decorations can be seen. Talk about a field of lost souls!

Our last walker met the second-half team’s first walker, we piled into the van, and took off for Seaside, the house, and some decent sleep.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I slept eleven hours straight…

The town was hopping already by the time we got out of the house the next morning. When we were finally able to contact the other half, we got their estimated time of arrival, and decided to have a sit-down breakfast. (Actually, it was closer to a brunch, it was so late.)

We also found out that our other fastest walker, Rick, had pulled a muscle and was being carefully watched and escorted by the rest of the team. So while we were at breakfast, and mid-way through our meal, when we found out he was 1 1/2 miles from the finish line–we thought we’d have plenty of time to finish up.

Not so–we got a call not all that much later, saying that he was at the finish line and waiting for us!

We made a wobbly, ouch-ridden beeline to the beach–we were up the street about a quarter of a mile–and encountered another miracle–we could find the other half of our team once again! With thousands of people in about three acres of sandy beach and booths, this NEVER happens.

Disappointment #1 this year–there were no professional photographers. But there were plenty of people happy and willing to take our group picture for us with our cellphones. Still, it just wasn’t the same.

The half of the team that had just finished the race limped on to the vacation house and rested, while those of us who were bright-eyed and in minimal pain wandered around town for awhile. Not for long–those pains from the day before came to visit again. So we went back to the house and reconnoitered with our teammates–those who were awake, anyway.

Dinner that night was at our usual place–Fulio’s in Astoria–and it was as wonderful as always. They gave us our usual room in the back – where we couldn’t infect the normals, I’m sure – and we had a rousing good time. All the fun you can have without actually getting up from your chair.

Five of us walked to the beach festivities that night, expecting to see fireworks. It was a little over a mile from where the house was–and it seemed a lot further than that, especially on the trip back. There was the usual live band and beer garden (I did NOT go in–aren’t you  proud of me???), but Disappointment #2 soon reared its ugly head–no fireworks this year. Major bummer! We still don’t know why that was cut–I’ll have to check the website at some point.

The next morning, my toes were okay, but my knee had swollen to twice its size. Made getting around a bit tricky.

Then the van’s battery wouldn’t work again. The neighbor brought a battery over, but apparently that didn’t work. We pulled the other team van up next to ours, and they got the battery jumped with a couple of wires. I didn’t know that was possible! Dangerous, though, I’m sure.

We bought jumper cables at a Napa Auto Parts store, then went on to breakfast. The thought was that, if needed, we could jump the van again after breakfast, with safer equipment.

Breakfast at Pig ‘n’ Pancake was marvelous. These people are pros! Every year, summer swells this town to four times its size at times. And those servers never miss a beat! Kudos to them for the work they do.

The van started, but was sluggish. We searched around for a mechanic, but not an easy thing to find on a Sunday. We ended going back to Napa Auto Parts, where we bought a battery, and our team member Oskar took parts out of the engine compartment and replaced the battery. Thank goodness for people who know what they’re doing!

Nothing much else happened – we went back to the house and packed our stuff, then headed to home. At this writing, Paul’s flat on his back, I have my swollen knee elevated, and daughter Meghanne is ready to head out and do it again. Ah, the resilience of youth!

I didn’t take many pictures this year, so I apologize for the almost 100% text of this blog. And I am sure the other van had plenty of adventures, but I don’t think they were quite as exciting as ours. Oskar tried to run a couple of team members over, there was an enigmatic joke about Cinderella that they were all snickering about–other than that, I don’t think there was anything outlandish. Not like our van’s, anyway.

Since I have been asked to order the pizza for dinner, I will now close this blog and do just that. Our weekend, in all its lumps and glory.

We’re sore and tired–but WE DID IT~!

Happy trails!


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Brazil – Part II


Time for the next entry on the trip to Brazil. My last blog only covered four days–this story may take a couple more chapters. We did so much in so little time–and missed out on a few because of the shortness of the visit.

Monday morning, we stood outside of the hotel and waited for the kids. Looking up and down the street, I realized I was going through a change in my perceptions, as far as the language was concerned. At first, all of the signs and forms of communication in Portuguese was exciting and interesting–then a pall came over it, because there was no escape. It was getting to the point where I wanted to shut down around 5pm–just close my eyes and not see any more words I couldn’t read. But of course that wasn’t going to change–the difference had to come from me. By the time we left the country, the communication was getting easier–there were times when I could follow almost all of a conversation–just from what I was learning and getting used to.

We have a real reason to learn Portuguese; after all, our son expects to stay there until he earns his doctorate, which means another four years. Besides that, his possibly-future in-laws might be coming to visit next year–maybe even bringing the kids with them.

Once we got into the car, we drove to Blumenau, a German colony, about an hour and change from Florianopolis.


It wasn’t a really huge tourist spot, but it was fun.


We had lunch and bought souvies–sure is nice to have people with us to translate. Everyone spoke Portuguese, not German, in case you were interested. The only difference, really, was the last names on the businesses–predominantly German.

We visited a few museums, once we could find them…

The first was a Beer Museum:

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A lot of the info was in English, which was a welcome sight. Joe liked to translate the rest for us, with Joana right there to make sure he got it right. When he seemed to be getting tired of the headwork, Joana just picked up the thread. They make a great partnership.

There was a lot of old equipment, as well as a lengthy history and info on beer-making. I really enjoyed it.

Not far from here was a mausoleum/museum dedicated to Dr. Herrmann Bruno Blumenau, who founded the city in 1850. I didn’t realize it was a mausoleum until we’d been through it–I guess I was too distracted by the wild capybara that wandered past the front of the building:


Then there was the Fritz Muller Museum, a man who was a correspondent of Charles Darwin, and a scientist of flora and fauna in the Santa Catarina area of Brazil. Pickled critters, stuffed critters, bones, etc. I loved the displays of rocks and shells. The taxidermy treatments of the animals were definitely amateur–they looked like someone used marbles for eyes, and then just gave up.

We found a café (Joana likes her afternoon coffee), then made the long drive back. We made a return trip to the stables, where we had ribs and Caipirinhas – Brazil’s national cocktail, made with cachaça (sugar cane hard liquor), sugar and lime. Marcus makes them strong–on an empty stomach, it wasn’t long before the world was doing silly things.

Joana rode Sheikh, and we could tell that horse had a lot of trust issues. But she really let him know who was boss. What a beautiful horse! He’ll be wonderful once he gets comfortable with where he is.

Tuesday started out the usual way–with breakfast in the hotel. The Brazilians love 80s music–almost all of the music that came over the loudspeaker was 80s music done by secondary players. Same singer, different songs from different bands. A nice backdrop of sound for the morning.

This day (Tuesday), we started out with a trip to another fort.



Fortaleza Sao Jose da Ponto Grosso


Hell’s Phone Booth–have you ever seen a creepier one?

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The path to the fort itself was treacherous, in my opinion. Rectangular slabs of concrete, spaced inconveniently apart, and placed at a tilt. I was always afraid I was going to slide right down the hill. But we finally got into the fort without incident–phew!

The views were fantastic, as the pictures will attest.

We made it down to the beach too, where I picked up some shells and rocks. Anywhere I go, I do this. They go into a bag, and they come home, and they get stored…why do I do this??? …Coz they’re purty…

We drove to the coast–where, exactly, I don’t know–and had lunch there. The kids were hoping we’d be able to get a certain type of drink in coconut shells, but it was the wrong time of the year for it. Bummer.


We visited a turtle sanctuary, which was a nice diversion. There was a tour group of kids there, which added to the energy in the place. When the employees fed the turtles (some smelly grass stuff), one of the four huge turtles in the pool just hung back until the others lost interest, then had the whole feast to itself. Clever critter!

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Joana had a dental appointment, so we waited for her at the hotel–one of the only times we had a slow spot in our trip. When she got done, we headed back to the house, where we had dinner, roasted pinhaos, and drank much beer. Nelson presented us with various types of meat, including pigs’ feet. I considered trying them, but there was way too much fat, even for me. There was plenty of other food to eat, so I didn’t go away empty.

On Wednesday, after another good night’s sleep and the usual breakfast, we went over to Beidar Mar Shopping for a cup of chocolate espresso at Kopenhagen’s. We then went to the Universidad’s campus to have a look at a mural that covered three sides of a building there.


It was fantastic–very native in its creation. We took a lot of pictures of it, but of course I couldn’t put all the pictures on here.

Our next stop was visiting Joe’s workplace–a lab situated several miles from the campus. He showed us the stuff he was working on, explained the procedures, and introduced us to his professors and co-workers–pretty impressive stuff they’re all doing. Some are propagating various plants to find ways to keep the species alive, others are working on finding ways to use the plants for other purposes. I’m not clear on everything…

After a brief stop at Joe’s apartment–which was a really nice place–we went to an ecological garden nearby. It really was just a preserve/park–not a real tourist area. We walked through the area, while a group of monkeys followed us for a bit. We were able to get pictures of them, finally…they moved so fast.


I’ll be darned if I can remember the name of this type–I think it’s “mico”.

When we got back to the house, things were in turmoil. Miro and Kito had gotten into a fight, and Luke got hurt trying to break it up. Joana got them cleaned up, but it took awhile, and it made us miss a party we were supposed to have gone to. Nelson knew of another place (both places were quite a ways away), so we jumped into his truck to get to it. We got to see a lot of countryside and hillside, and drink in the beautiful rural areas that I’m betting most tourists miss.

Unfortunately, the place Nelson had in mind was closed.

So we drove back to the stables. Visited Joana’s horse again–always a pleasure. She went for a ride, and we stayed back at the “man cave” (my name for the central social area of the stables).

I was feeling homesick all of a sudden–it came on without warning, and at that point, I would have been glad to go home. But the feeling disappeared after a few more of Marcus’ potent drinks.

Back at the house–because there were no restaurants open before 7pm!–we chatted as Joana replaced some hardware in her computer. I about fell asleep a couple of times.

Finally, we went out to meet Joana’s mom at a Brazilian barbecue restaurant. This sort of service is something to be experienced–totally different from what I am used to.

The customer can go get salads and side dishes from a buffet, but the meats are served individually. Waiters take skewers of cooked meat out of the kitchen area, and carry them table to table. They describe what the particular cut is, and if the customer wants some of it, they shear off a piece, which the customer grabs with a pair of tongs. There’s beef of all sorts, lamb, chicken hearts (I like ‘em), pork, etc. This goes on the whole time the customer is seated. Then the dessert is brought along the same way. Barbecued pineapple is wonderful!

Our last day, we toured the southern part of the island–just a short trip into a small-town coastal area. We did a little beach-combing, and found a dead penguin. The shops we wanted to visit weren’t open, so we just drove back the way we came. The houses were interesting in places. In one spot, there was an Arabic-style house…


…across from a castle:


Wonder if their conversations ever turn to the days of the Crusades…hmmm…

We stopped off at a little restaurant for lunch…and caught a glimpse of a toucan. A live one–yay!

Through heavy traffic, we made our way back to Beidar Mar Shopping, where we went to a coffee shop. We were right beside the movie theatre, so we bought some sweet popcorn. Really good! Like kettle corn, but even sweeter. I could only eat a little of it, then I had to stop.

Back at the house, Paul showed Joana how to make calzones. Nelson had asked him to show him how to do it, but it was an unspoken agreement that it was Joana who would be doing the work.

I found a deck of cards and played solitaire while the kids and Paul did the work–after all, the kitchen is only so big. Joana came over and got another deck, and also started playing when she wasn’t busy. Soon Joe sat down and I let him have the cards. Nelson and Paul decided to put their two cents’ worth in too, so it turned into a group participation thing. It was fun, but unexpected. (Joana’s mom was off somewhere, and came back later in the evening.)

After dinner, we said our good-byes, went back to the hotel, and packed most of our stuff.

Our last day, we shoved the luggage into Joana’s car and headed for one more tour. First, though, we went to the plaza and park in front of the church we’d gone to–there were some merchant booths set up there–and picked up a few hand-made things.

We drove to the southernmost part of the island, where we bought some more souvies, then the kids drove us to the airport. The flight(s) home were hell, and I’m glad to be shut of airports for awhile.

And now we are home, and beginning to plan for the trip we want to make next year:

Scotland and Italy!

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