Doña Maria de la Luz

cross your path

10/08/2015 Yesterday morning Carmen and Marilyn were dropped off at my house by Alex, we loaded up the car, sprayed more bug repellent on us on top of the already sprayed bug repellent (I mean, we were jungle bound), Marilyn and I loaded our walking sticks into my car and we set off to meet Nidia at the Roatan Culture Village. We were going to see Doña Maria, the lady we went to see last week but she wasn’t home. I had a bag of stuff for her, shampoo, creme rinse, body soap, air freshener, some plastic cups, laundry and dish soap and some dish scrubbers, plus a used pair (new condition) of Keen sandals for her. Nidia had some flip flops and 3 dresses for her too. She had also asked for some black water dye because she wanted to color her hair. However, she was in for a big surprise. Nidia had arranged for her to get her hair done at Sophiestication Salon and Spa in Coxen Hole. They graciously said they would give her a hair color and cut and mani, pedi for free.

The walk in to her place is challenging in the beginning because there are some very steep, uneven steps carved into the side of the hill. I was so grateful for the walking stick Bill made me that morning, it makes up for not having 2 good knees.

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I didn’t even notice this tunnel the first time I went there. Nidia said it doesn’t go back very far.

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Painting on a twig wall

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Part of the old Culture Village, the bar area was quite large. Love the stools!

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This place must have been amazing.

We  made it to her house, obviously earlier than she had expected us. She was stoking the fire in her mud oven when we arrived. We started getting out the goodies we had for her and showing her what we brought.

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Here she has on her Keen sandals. They will be great for her walking through the jungle to the spring to get water.

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You can’t help but fall in love with her, what a sweet lady.

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This is what her hair looked like before her salon treatment and she is modeling a new dress.

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Nidia and Marilyn with her.

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She was husking corn and said she wanted a corn grinder to make her own corn meal or flour.

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Her broom

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Marilyn with Doña Maria

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Shoe tree

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Entrance to her bedroom. Her new cups and shampoo and creme rinse are on her shelf. The orange bag has her 3 new dresses in it, new  shoes in the black plastic bag.

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Her kitchen. This makes me realize so much about the excess that many people live with, thinking it gives them a better life. It does not.

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She went in and changed before we walked down the hill to my car, bound for the beauty shop.

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Marilyn and Carmen, obviously I didn’t get the blue memo.

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Even more obvious that I got no memo when she changed into blue also. She lost the lock for her front door and ties it closed now. I need to get her a new lock.

We were ready to go to town and she led us off the mountain. At one point I yelled to Nidia, “Why is she running?” She moved so fast down that path and when it came to the stairs I think she jogged down them. I remarked to Marilyn about it and Marilyn tried to make it sound reasonable that she did it so easily because of a lower center of gravity. Yeah, maybe that’s it. We got her buckled in the front seat and off we went to Sophiestication Salon at Plaza Mar.

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She seemed slightly overwhelmed at first. Rightfully so, she was in a room surrounded by mirrors and all she saw was herself.

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They were getting ready to do her hair so the 4 of us went shopping again. Marilyn and Carmen got her metal forks and spoons, a new knife (her old one was so dull Marilyn said you could fall on it), coca cola, meat and cheese, sugar and a container to keep it in, a ladle and some condiments. Remember, she has no electricity or running water. I got her some beans, corn flour, bread, rolls, clothespins and clothesline and a few other things.

We took that stuff to the car and went back to see how she was doing.

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Her hair had all the color on it and they were giving her a pedicure. Look at her expression. Priceless.

Remember, this woman lives in the jungle, she doesn’t even own a mirror, let alone beauty products. Despite the fact that she is probably in the sun much of the day she has exquisite skin, especially for a lady her age.

Marilyn and Carmen and I went to Super Islena looking for a corn grinder and a bucket with a lid. No corn grinder in the several places we looked but Carmen did find a nice lidded bucket to keep the rats out of her beans and flour. We went back to the salon and her hair was being combed out and straightened. SHE LOOKED LIKE A DIFFERENT WOMAN.

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Getting her nails done

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Marilyn admiring our new friend.

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The ladies at Sophiestication Salon worked miracles that morning.

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Just beautiful.

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With the lovely ladies from Sophiestication Salon.

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The transformation

This is the real shocker though, what a change in her looks. She was so thrilled.

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Just as we were getting ready to leave Plaza Mar it started raining. We got into the car quickly so she didn’t get her new hairdo wet. This time Nidia took us in a different way (so thankful for my AWD Outlander) since it was raining and we had lots more stuff to carry for her.

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Guard shack

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Carmen blazing the trail and lugging a bag of goodies

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Marilyn with Coke and Nidia and Doña Maria behind her. Sorry it’s blurry, I was moving..

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A house on the way, lower level is mud walls.

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Nidia helping get her hair tied up so it doesn’t get wet.

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Marilyn putting her sugar in the critter proof container.  Doña Maria was so excited that we got her more things. We showed her everything and she kept thanking us. It really made for a fabulous day for this sweet lady.

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Nidia and Marilyn helping her to bend over so they could do her hair in a top knot on top of her head.

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Perfect!

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The 4 of us, Doña Maria has her hair covered with a towel

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She took the towel off for this photo.

She was so upset that she couldn’t offer us anything. She wanted to make us tortillas but we showed up earlier than she expected. She must have apologized to Nidia about it several times. It really amazes me that she was so worried about giving us something; she has no idea that she already did, something way better than any tortilla ever could be. Just the experience of spending a day with this amazing woman was so exhilarating. It made me realize that the fact that my kitchen isn’t done is not really a big deal, that no door yet on my pantry is insignificant. She has so little and is so happy.

We also found out that in the 8 years she has been on the island (she came from Olanchito on the mainland with her son and his wife, they were allowed to build a “house” on the land in exchange for being caretakers, his wife must be gone and her son is only there sporadically) she has never been to the east end of Roatan. We plan to take her on a day trip, maybe a boat ride, get her out and away from the jungle so she too can experience the beauty of this island.

Meeting Nidia has changed my whole path on this island. She gives of herself everyday to so many people, she gives her time, her energy and her love. If she needs to raise money for something she does it, with the goal clearly set in her sights. Nothing stops her, no person is insignificant in her eyes. She does so much for the children and the seniors on this island that just being with her has made me a better person. Now I get to share Nidia with my friends, Carmen and Marilyn. They have joined me on several events that Nidia has taken me to. I can’t imagine better people to hang out with and to help Nidia do what she does best, helping those who need help.

After we left Doña Maria we dropped Nidia off at her store and stopped at the new liquor store in town. We each bought a few bottles of wine and sampled some Bailey’s Dulch de Leche, ohmyyummy!! Dangerous stuff. By the time we left there it was POURING. We got soaked just getting in the car. We stopped in Los Fuertes and Marilyn found the corn grinder for Doña Maria in one of the stores. And we got more soaked. By the time we got to French Harbor the rain had subsided so we decided to drag our soggy semi muddy selves into Herbie’s for some lunch. We had a “fried” lunch and drinks and then headed back to Oak Ridge, where I dropped Marilyn and Carmen off. Alex was coming in the boat to get them and whisk them home.

Such a simply fabulous day with 3 fabulous ladies and sweet Doña Maria. Nidia, thank you so much for allowing me to be a part of what you do. I love you lots and look forward to more adventures!

****Just a side note: We are looking for donations for the Christmas party for the children. We need to buy about 1000 gifts and then get food and drinks for the parties and some Piñatas for the games. In the past, Because We Care did a food drive and supplied bags of food for the parents and toys for the kids right before the holidays. Last year it was evident that things were taking a negative turn. People were not thankful for what they were given, they were angry because they expected more or different or better. Because We Care works very hard to raise the money for these events and to finish weeks of driving all over the island and passing out things to some (not all) ungrateful people takes a lot of the fun out of it.

This year it’s just about the kids, that’s it. Santa will be available to pass out gifts to all the kids and if we can raise enough $$ we will throw a party for the kids on each end of the island. (The majority of the people we help have no cars or means of transportation). If you are interested in donating please email me @  ledfutt@gmail.com. I guarantee every cent goes to the kids on this island. 

Thank you.

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Setting limits

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09/29/2015 It’s been another quiet week here. We are happy to be able to enjoy the roof with the dogs. They seem to think it’s free for all time up there and go a little crazy. Until we get the pergola built, we have to wait until the sun goes down some or else we’ll melt up there. Speaking of melting, it’s been stinking hot and humid here.

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The Beach Boys and their roadies

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Barrio

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Highway brandishing his teeth. It’s all show and they know it and lick his gums when he does that. Sometimes I wonder if they are like Highway’s dental floss servants or something. Like the Remora fish on turtles..whatever.

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Andee, it’s baaaacccck! Very useful carrying things to the roof, my favorite gift ever..Thank you.

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MMMM, very very cold Dos Equis with some limes and salt. It goes down way too well.

We decided since we had such a boringly normal week we would hit BJ’s on Friday. If you’re an ex-pat and not been to BJ’s, you’re missing out. BJ’s is a wooden building on the waterway in Oak Ridge. The building is nothing, the view is fabulous, boats coming and going, cruising by, people headed home when going by boat is the only way to get there. Like many of my friends, boat access only. With only water access, it’s a different way of life. We arrived at BJ’s around 1.

I happened to have a petition that was being circulated on the island to try to get a good cop returned; he was rotated to the mainland. I wanted to get some more sigs on it so I took it there. I was successful in many ways that afternoon.

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The Banditos, the guy on the far left was a tourist who got up to sing.

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BJ herself, enjoying the music.

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Larry in the hat and Kelly, a wanabee Larry in the matching shirt behind him.

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My friend Carmen singing with the band, she’s good!

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Peggy and Alex, didn’t get to hear Peggy sing!

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#3 wine down.

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Betty and BJ. All of the photos at BJ’s are courtesy of Marilyn Northagen Poirier.

So this is my story:

#1. They had white wine, even if it was served in a jelly glass. Thank you Marilyn, you rock and thank you for taking proper wine glasses to the bar for them to use. I had a jelly glass full of wine.

#2. I got a full page of signatures on the petition. I had another glass of wine in a wine glass.

#3. I think I may have had another glass of wine after Marilyn and I got some exceedingly good news that caused us to act out on the pier.

#4. I danced several times in my bare feet, it was fabulous. I had another glass of wine and was drinking Kelly’s drink also.

#5. I believe I may have also guzzled the last sip out of Marilyn’s glass at some point before we Bill decided it was a good idea to leave.

#6. May have made plans for a party at our house, which is fine, but I didn’t remember when it was for.

We got home before 4 PM and I drank a bottle of water and went to bed and slept until 9 PM. When I woke up I filled a bowl with lettuce, put grated cheese and dressing on it and ate it. For dinner. I then drank more water and could not go to sleep. It sucked because I had the airport gig the next day and obviously I drank too much wine on an empty stomach. I had already slept 5 hours. Ridiculousness.

I now have self imposed limits.

On Saturday I volunteered to fill in for one of the greeters at the airport. I always enjoy my time spent there, getting to meet new people and talk to them about the island; it’s a fun afternoon. My friend Kathy had just arrived back on the rock and decided to wait until I was done and then I would give her a ride to her boat. (She lives boat access only) We had a great day in immigration, it went smoothly despite the fact that 2 planes landed 10 minutes apart. I met lots of fun people and hopefully made them feel welcomed to the island.

Kathy and I stopped at the grocery store on the way home and as soon as I walked in I saw people I had spoken with at the airport. They all said hello and a few aisles later I helped them pick out some booze for the week. I mean, obviously I would know this. I gave Kathy a ride to BJ’s and then came home w/ groceries for the party that we may be having. Only issue is that while at the store, my phone was dead. I always keep my grocery list on a program called KEEP on my phone. I could NOT access my list. I forgot shit.

That’s OK though because Bill had to go to ACE in the morning for something plus he was picking up primer for our other friends who were coming to dinner and live boat access only too. He stopped at the store and got what I forgot, which by the way was very minimal. AS IN, I remembered.

Sunday we busted our butts cleaning up around here, we were indeed having friends over. The house does get bad, there are things laying all over the kitchen island and the porch and house is a mess with dog stuff. BUT, when you have 6 dogs and a cat, you get special passes for hairy floors and hairy whiskers. It’s the hairy whiskers that get me all the time. Sunday was the eve of the blood moon and the lunar eclipse.

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Bill and I on the roof

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Brett, Alex and Bill

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Brett, the other half of Brett and Carmen

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Carmen, they are from South Dakota and now live here.

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They have an awesome water access home on the beach. Pretty sweet deal. I posted photos before of being at their place.

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Sunset over the North shore

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Sky over the south shore. All of these photos were also taken by Marilyn ..

We saw zip, zero, nada of the blood moon due to clouds. However, just when we thought all hope was gone, the clouds cleared away and we were treated to the eclipse. Of course, my camera was downstairs and I was ultimately too lazy to go get it. Just for the record, I only had 2 glasses of wine and then switched to water. A much better idea for me.

It was a fun evening up on the roof with great friends. It will be much nicer once we get it finished up there and have a few creature comforts..

On Tuesday I joined Nidia and her friend Lidia on a trek to go visit Doña Maria, who lives alone in the jungle. Nidia and Lidia had been to visit her not too long ago. She had a request for a few more items so we were going to deliver them. These photos of Doña Maria were taken when Nidia and Lidia went to see her.

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Peeling sugar cane with her machete

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Showing Nidia her church dress, she needs a new one.

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She also needs some new shoes.

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She LOVES Coke so they took her some and also some groceries.

We started our trek at the Roatan Culture Village, a place I never knew existed. It is an old resort that must have been pretty darn amazing in it’s day. We parked my car and walked through a gate and I was dumbfounded. There in the midst of the jungle is this eerily cool old resort. It is very run down, has had no visitors for some time.

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Roatan Culture Village, I’m not sure the name is really evocative of what went on here but it sounds educational.

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Huge old pool, there was also a kiddy pool off to the right.

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Lidia and Nidia

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Benches from a bygone era

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There was a pool (Billiards) hall, a dance hall and another small pool.

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Brightly painted benches

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A fabulous old building on the grounds

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The other pool with a submarine in it

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A good shot of the DEEPEST SUB TOUR @ 1/2 MOON BAY. I have been told this was made by Karl Stanley.

Karl Stanley (click on his name) lives on Roatan and he has done more for chronicling and capturing things below the sea than many who came before him. Marine Biologists from all over the world come here to go down in Idabel with Karl to 2000′ feet below the surface.  Check out his adventures here: https://fathomlessinnerspace.wordpress.com/2013/09/28/magical-mantas-and-pink-pyrozomes/

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The path to Doña Maria’s house

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Bridge # 2, wasn’t too bad.

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Welcome to the jungle

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This is the spring where Doña Maria comes to get water

We trudged all the way up to her house and she wasn’t home. Now, it’s not like she has a lot of places to go. She is 82 and lives in the middle of the jungle, alone. She has no electricity, no running water,no bathroom, no kitchen. She has a few neighbors further up the valley.

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Her mud oven, she is 82.

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Clothesline. Nidia said her son comes and stays with her every now and then, looks like she did his washing.

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Mud walls surround the mud oven

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This is her home. Her chickens live on the bottom floor and she lives above them.

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This is where she stores her dishes. She asked for a few plastic drinking glasses which we bought for her.

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She keeps the fire going all the time but gets it really burning when she is cooking.

We walked on up to her neighbors house but nobody was home there either.

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On the way to the neighbors

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This bridge was a little shaky

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The handrails were loose too

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Nidia was doing acrobatics on it

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Her neighbor’s home

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Blue tarp

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The back wall was all mud and sticks

Disappointed that Doña Maria was not there, we headed back down to my car. On the way we dropped the coke off at her house, kind of hid it as a surprise for her.

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We put it in the black bucket, I’m sure she will be thrilled when she sees it.

Our plans are to go another day, very soon. I bought her shampoo, cream rinse, soap, dish soap, laundry powder, toilet paper, some plastic glasses and a pair of used Keen shoes in great condition. Nidia has a few dresses and some slippers for her. Hopefully we’ll go soon! We didn’t leave the other things we got for her because we were afraid someone would happen by and take them so we will be going back and I will be taking a walking stick and wearing more bug spray for sure.

These last few photos are random shots so bear with me.

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My friend Kathy’s watchie took this photo of a snake in her yard. We all (ASS)umed it was a boa but turns out it is a rat snake. A big assed rat snake,

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Hello, I see you………………………..

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Yep, big assed snake

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Not to be outdone by Kathy and her big assed snake, Bill killed another Coral (poisonous) on our porch the other eve.

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Cactus growing out on my cactus

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weird

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Barrio and Highway, airing their stuff

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Facial deconstruction/reconstruction with eye removal

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More dried sweet potatoes

Brotherly love

Calling it a night. I organized 2 bags of dog collars after I got home from an early morning with Because We Care and CALM Ministries from Baton Rouge, LA. We passed out school supplies to 400 kids in Oak Ridge.

More on that later, didn’t feel it was appropriate with my confessions of too much wine..

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I wanted to nap, the Beach Boys wanted to party!