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Monthly Archives: October 2013

Halloween!

IMG_0305BOO!  Guess who?  It’s me, Darq.  Happy Halloween!

Ready for Halloween  - https://jewelsofthesky.wordpress.com/

DARQ:  Say, Catherine, what do you think of my Halloween outfit?

CATHERINE:  As usual, you look beautiful in your black witch attire.

DARQ:  I wasn’t after beautiful but mysteriously and wickedly sexy.

CATHERINE:  Okay, with the mask on, you look mysterious, but wickedly sexy?  Nope. That image is marred by the green, alien face on your caldron.  By the way, what’s in that caldron?

DARQ:  I have no idea.  Agent G filled it with candy.

CATHERINE:  We talking about the bald-headed Agent G?

DARQ: That’s the guy.

CATHERINE: I wouldn’t put it past him to give you alien eggs instead of candy.

DARQ: That thought occurred to me, too.  That’s why I’m not touching the things.  You want to taste one and find out if it is candy or–

CATHERINE:  Not in your life!

DARQ:  Well, is there anyone reading this blog post who would like to venture a guess as to what the egg-shaped things are in my caldron? The first person to comment here on or before midnight EST November 1st and correctly identify the “eggs” gets a $5 Amazon.com gift card.  HAPPY HALLOWEEN–Hope yours is spooktacular!

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Posted by on October 29, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Homeward Bound

Arid New Mexico @ 2013 www.CatherineEmclean.com

Arid New Mexico @ 2013 http://www.CatherineEmclean.com

DARQ: I’m reporting on the last leg of what Catherine calls our “grand tour.”  After leaving Las Vegas,we headed through the desert southwest to Lake Havasu City to see the London Bridge.  Why anyone would transport a bridge across the Atlantic Ocean to the middle of a desert, dig a canal under it, and fill that canal with water from the Colorado River boggles my mind, but that’s what they did.  Of course, Catherine and her husband made a stop to see the bridge.  Those black specks on the left lower forground are pigeons.

London Bridge, Lake Havasu City @ 2013 www.CatherineEmclean.com

London Bridge, Lake Havasu City @ 2013 http://www.CatherineEmclean.com

Then it was on to Flagstaff and The Grand Canyon (which was “the major” destination of the trip).

Grand Canyon pendant? Yes, I've got it right here--see? - Darq  @ 2012 www.CatherineEmclean.com

Grand Canyon pendant? Yes, I’ve got it right here–see? – Darq @ 2012 http://www.CatherineEmclean.com


Catherine and her husband didn’t drive themselves about the canyon area–they took a tour bus tour and had a great tour guide–I listened in.  You see, I was chauffeured about by my Men In Black escorts. And, of course, I was incognito–the invisibility gadget I wore insured no one saw me. And no one noticed the guys in their suits because they, too, wore an invisibility gadget.

At any rate, Catherine took way too many photos–par for the course for her, right? LOL.  Here’s a sampling–and, of course, she took more still life photos then she did of the canyon itself.  Not that I minded, mind you. It was a very nice day for we could see all the way across the canyon to Utah (a hundred miles away–or so the tour guide said).

The Grand Canyon @ 2013 www.CatherineEmclean.com

The Grand Canyon @ 2013 http://www.CatherineEmclean.com

"Paw Print" clouds over  The Grand Canyon @ 2013 www.CatherineEmclean.com

“Paw Print” clouds over The Grand Canyon @ 2013 http://www.CatherineEmclean.com

Character Tree at the edge of The Grand Canyon @ 2013 www.CatherineEmclean.com

Character Tree at the edge of The Grand Canyon @ 2013 http://www.CatherineEmclean.com

"Daisies" growing under a Ponderosa Pine, Flagstaff Arizona KOA @ 2013 www.CatherineEmclean.com

“Daisies” growing under a Ponderosa Pine, Flagstaff Arizona KOA @ 2013 http://www.CatherineEmclean.com

Rocks along a Grand Canyon lookout area @ 2013 www.CatherineEmclean.com

Rocks along a Grand Canyon lookout area @ 2013 http://www.CatherineEmclean.com

Despite the triple digit heat that grips such arid environments in summer, life clings to life, and next on this road trip we traveled through Scottsdale and Tucson.  But the huge saguaro cacti–awesome!

Saguaro cactus, Scottsdale AZ @ 2013 www.CatherineEmclean.com

Saguaro cactus, Scottsdale AZ @ 2013 http://www.CatherineEmclean.com

Catherine took the photo above, turned around, and spotted a critter–a bird, a roadrunner. I still don’t get the joke–there was no Wile E. Cyote chasing it.

I also got to see barrel cactus in bloom and prickly pear.  We have nothing like this on my homeworld. Simply beautiful (okay, so it’s a prickly cacti, but it’s the flowers that counts, right?)

Barrel cactus blooms @ 2013 www.CatherineEmclean.com

Barrel cactus blooms @ 2013 http://www.CatherineEmclean.com

Purple Prickly Pear @ 2013 www.CatherineEmclean

Purple Prickly Pear @ 2013 http://www.CatherineEmclean

Our next stop was the White Sands–it isn’t sand but gypsum.  That’s Catherine’s husband standing at the corner of their camper.

Spotting a "smoke signal" cloud above the dunes at White Sands, NM, @ 2013 www.CatherineEmclean.com

Spotting a “smoke signal” cloud above the dunes at White Sands, NM, @ 2013 http://www.CatherineEmclean.com

And a little farther down the road we came to Catherine’s most-desired stop– Roswell, NM.

The sign says it all. Roswell NM @ 2013 www.CatherineEmclean.com

The sign says it all. Roswell NM @ 2013 http://www.CatherineEmclean.com

Alien-green works for me!  Don't you just love my shoes? -Darq  @ 2013 www.CatherineEmclean.com

Alien-green works for me! Don’t you just love my shoes? – Darq @ 2013 http://www.CatherineEmclean.com

Of course, I tagged along (invisibly) when Catherine and her husband went to the UFO Museum in Roswell.  And let me tell you, I was shocked. No self-respecting alien would go unclothed in outer space (and if you tell me they wore green space uniforms–no way will I believe that.  I’ve flown in outer space, remember.)  Nor are any species green–after all my race has been scouting and trading among planetary systems for quiet some eons.  You humans have such vivid imaginations . . .

UFO Museum display, Roswell NM @ 2013 www.CatherineEmclean.com

UFO Museum display, Roswell NM @ 2013 http://www.CatherineEmclean.com

But this item in the museum was a hoot–

Too too funny! Placard in UFO Museum, Roswell MN @ 2013 www.CatherineEmclean.com

Too too funny! Placard in UFO Museum, Roswell MN @ 2013 http://www.CatherineEmclean.com

I also have to say that Roswell had it’s quirks-

When Catherine saw the sign, she asked our campground host about the dairy cows.  Seems there are 100,000 of them in the area and their milk goes into making cheese for Domino’s pizza. (It’s shipped nationwide to the stores.)

Now, as we left Roswell, I looked long and hard across the flat, arid landscape, and although I spotted lots of farms, I didn’t see dairy cows en masse.  So where were they hiding? And, Catherine was adamant that I not make any  “alien” jokes about cows and UFO milk.

Our trek then took us through Texas.

Yeeeee-ha! Texas!  @ 2013 www.CatherineEmclean.com

Yeeeee-ha! Texas! @ 2013 http://www.CatherineEmclean.com

We visited San Antonia, the Alamo, the Buckhorn Saloon, took a tour of the San Jose Mission, and rode a barge on the canal called the River Walk.  Of all the cities we visited, I liked San Antonio best.

The Alamo monument. Optical illusion of background hotel superimposed onto the monument. This is the actual photo--it has not been manipulated in any way. @ 2013 www.CatherineEmclean.com

The Alamo monument. Optical illusion of background hotel superimposed onto the monument. This is the actual photo–it has not been manipulated in any way. @ 2013 http://www.CatherineEmclean.com

San Jose Mission, San Antonio TX @ 2013 www.CatherineEmclean.com

San Jose Mission, San Antonio TX @ 2013 http://www.CatherineEmclean.com

Flower of Barcelona found in Scottsdale AZ to San Antonio TX @ 2013 www.CatherineEmclean.com

Flower of Barcelona found in Scottsdale AZ to San Antonio TX @ 2013 http://www.CatherineEmclean.com

We left San Antonio for home. Crossing the Mississippi, the countryside views changed dramatically.  Gone were the flat plains. Gone were the immense skies.  Gone were the 90 degree plus temperatures.  And, crossing into Pennsylvania, Catherine and her husband better appreciated the terrain of home which is blanketed with green trees and grasses.

So, that’s the wrap-up on the trip of a lifetime.  And I’m glad to be back in a cooler clime.

DARQ-signature

 

**** HALLOWEEN is coming.  Stop back on Oct. 30 (Halloween Eve) and see Darq in her Halloween costume — trick or treat?

To be notified of updates to this blog, follow, orjoin atStarscape Fiction.

All photos by Catherine E. McLean * http://www.CatherineEmclean.com   @ 2013 All Rights reserved

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Posted by on October 27, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

What happened in Vegas?

Oasis RV Resort, Las Vegas -Our "shade" tree. @ 2013 www.CatherineEmclean.com

Oasis RV Resort, Las Vegas -Our “shade” tree. @ 2013 http://www.CatherineEmclean.com

DARQ:  We arrived in Las Vegas for the week and the wedding of Catherine’s niece. First thing we did after getting the air conditioner on was to unloaded the china–oops–I think Catherine forgot to mention that her sister (the mother of the bride) wouldn’t trust the transport of that china to a commercial carrier. The china had belonged to their mom. So Catherine and her husband stacked the boxed china in the camper’s bathtub and hauled it 2,514 miles to Vegas. It arrived unscathed despite all the 9% grades with twisty-turns coming off the Rocky Mountains.

We got in a side trip to the nearby Fire Valley. It lived up to it’s fame of sunset rays flaming the red rock formations. (Do consider clicking on a photo to enlarge it.)

Fire Valley, NV at sunset @2013 www.CatherineEmclean.com

Fire Valley, NV at sunset @2013 http://www.CatherineEmclean.com

Of particular interest to me, however, was the “Atlatl” formation (below). You see, Atlatl is my husband’s name, but you knew that because you read JEWELS OF THE SKY, right?

Atlatl formation, Fire Valley NV @2013 www.CatherineEmclean.com

Atlatl formation, Fire Valley NV @2013 http://www.CatherineEmclean.com

Suffice to say the bride was beautiful on her wedding day.  It’s a complicated explanation, but the short of it is that Catherine ended up taking almost 300 photos as the “unofficial after-wedding photographer.” I’m still not quite sure why she kept mumbling throughout the evening that it was easier taking photos of still life than the bride and groom.

Glass flowers, some with 3 ft. diameters, hang from the ceiling of the Bellagio, Las Vegas NV - @ 2013 www.CatherineEmclean.com

Glass flowers, some with 3 ft. diameters, hang from the ceiling of the Bellagio, Las Vegas NV – @ 2013 http://www.CatherineEmclean.com

And, you know Catherine, she found lots of sill life to photograph– from the wedding cake to the glass flowers hanging from the ceiling of the Bellagio. And the  couple had her take snapshots, at night, by the Bellagio’s water fountains.

And no trip to Vegas would not complete without a side trip to Hoover Dam and Lake Mead.

Lake Mead, NV - white rocks indicate how low the lake was due to the severe drought - @ 2013 www.CatherineEmclean.com

Lake Mead, NV – white rocks indicate how low the lake was due to the severe drought – @ 2013 http://www.CatherineEmclean.com

I also had a blast with Catherine and her husband when we went to the Mob Attraction at the Tropicana. It’s an interactive museum that tells the story of the mob in Las Vegas. Next time you see Catherine, ask her about her red Fedora hat–

Red Fedora-Mob Attraction souvenirs, the Tropicana, Las Vegas NV @2013 www.CatherineEmclean.com

Red Fedora-Mob Attraction souvenirs, the Tropicana, Las Vegas NV @2013 http://www.CatherineEmclean.com

Now, if you’re wondering how I fared in “sin city,” well–

My escorts, the guys in black, that’s agents G, I, D, and B, said I didn’t need to be incognito-invisible because I would blend in with the Mexican and Native American Indian people in the area, as well as visitors from other countries. The one night G and B took me to a fancy dinner and for drinks afterwards (I did not get drunk, well, Catherine said I was tipsy, but what does she know? She wasn’t there.).  And we took in a show.  The next night I and D took me down the boulevard to see Vegas all lit up.  We went to the casino s where I got to try my hand at blackjack and craps. They loaned me a hundred bucks. I lost almost all of it on what they called a one-arm-bandit, then I won back the rest at blackjack.  I was $2 ahead when I called it quits at 0500 hours, earth time.

My last night in Vegas, the four guys tried to teach me poker, somehow they wouldn’t accept this as a winning hand–

Darq's winning hand? @ 2013 www.CatherineEmclean.com

Darq’s winning hand? @ 2013 http://www.CatherineEmclean.com

Well, that’s all for this Sunday.  Our next stop is Flagstaff AZ and the Grand Canyon.

TO BE CONTINUED next Sunday. . .To be notified of the update, follow this blog or join me at Starscape Fiction.

@2013 by Catherine E. McLean

All photos by Catherine E. McLean * http://www.CatherineEmclean.com   All Rights reserved

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Posted by on October 20, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Rocky Mountain Heights

DARQ: Catherine’s still asleep so I’m jotting this entry all by myself, that is, if I don’t lose the Internet connection.

Anyway, it’s been an interesting week.  The flat land of Kansas gave way to the flat land of Colorado and then, Whoosh! Denver and the wall of towering, bare peaks that Catherine called the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains.  Awesome sight.  But, excuse my laughter, Catherine made the KOA campground reservation for west of Denver, in Central City–and didn’t know until we got to the very top of the mountain where the campground was that we were 9,000 ft. up!!  The air was thinner but, wow, the sky so blue, the sunsets gorgeous.  Here’s one of Catherine’s snapshots of the adjacent mountain tops the evening we arrived:

Mountaintop sunset, Colorado Rockies, @2013 www.CatherineEmclean.com

Mountaintop sunset, Colorado Rockies, @2013 http://www.CatherineEmclean.com

Catherine said it’s not the best of photos, but, yoi!, I like it!  Okay, so the best sky photo she took from the mountain top is this one taken at 7 a.m.

Nor a Rorschach inkblot but an actual cloud, Colorado, @ 2013 www.CatherineEmclean.com

Is this a Rorschach inkblot? No, it’s an actual cloud! Colorado, @ 2013 http://www.CatherineEmclean.com

The moon is that tiny dot up in the right corner.  But it’s the cloud’s shape that’s fantastic–Catherine called it a dragon.  I called it a bat.  John thought a rabbit was riding the bat.  What do you see?

Now,  I’ve flown my Pytak starfighter at high-speed vertical descents, but going slowly, crawling downhill off this mountain and down the Rockies with sharp-turn-back curves on 9% grades for miles on end? Even I was terrorized by the descent!

Looking down on the road that led to the 9,000 ft. mountaintop where we camped, Colorado, @ 2013 www.CatherineEmclean.com

Looking down on the road that led to the 9,000 ft. mountaintop where we camped. (Purple Ironweed in foreground), Colorado, @ 2013 http://www.CatherineEmclean.com

  And then it was downhill on an the interstate . . .Taken from inside the truck's cab: Cantilevered, 2 deck Interstate, Colorado river (L), miles and miles of winding roads going downhill toward Utah.

Taken from inside the truck’s cab: Cantilevered, 2 deck Interstate, Colorado river (L), miles and miles of winding roads going downhill toward Utah.

with views like this:

Near Vail CO, for scale, look at the tiny vehicle and gas-well tank at lower right. @ 2013 www.CatheirneEmclean.com

 There was also one interesting rest stop en route to Moab.  It had a pond.  People were fishing in the pond, but Catherine and John wouldn’t let me fish. Okay, so I didn’t have any fishing gear with me and I did have to stay invisible . . . (sigh) . . . and we had miles to yet.Interstate rest stop en route to Moab, UT @2013 www.CatherineEmclean.com

However, Catherine had the camera out and was happily snapping photos and didn’t realize until she saw this picture on her laptop that the mountain and clouds mirrored in the water.  Her subject, of course, was the dried grass against the water/cloud background.  I rather like this photo.  Do you?Reflections, Colorado, @ 2013 www.CatherineEmclean.com

Reflections, Colorado, @ 2013 http://www.CatherineEmclean.com

We finally reached Moab  where we visited the Arches National Park, the LaSal Mountains, and the Coral Sands.  Earth sure has some interesting geological sites. Catherine took well over 400 photos of rocks, rock formations, and what she called her “geometrics”–which she used for greeting cards to the men on her birthday card lists.  Here’s a sampling:

View from camper doorway, Moab UT @ 2013 www.CatherineEmclean.com

View from camper doorway, Moab UT @ 2013 http://www.CatherineEmclean.com

Red rocks of Moab UT area, @ 2013 www.CatherineEmclean.com

Red rocks of Moab UT area, @ 2013 http://www.CatherineEmclean.com

Arches Nat'l Park, Utah, @ 2013 www.CatherineEmclean.com

Arches Nat’l Park, Utah, @ 2013 http://www.CatherineEmclean.com

Verigated small stones en masse, Utah, @ 2013 www.CatherineEmclean.com

Verigated small stones en masse, Utah, @ 2013 http://www.CatherineEmclean.com

Wilson's Arch, Moab UT, @ 2013 www.CatherineEmclean.com

Wilson’s Arch, Moab UT, @ 2013 http://www.CatherineEmclean.com

We left Moab and headed for Las Vegas, where it was as hot as the deserts of my homeland–and the terrain changed to desert, reminding me of my homeland-planet.  But you read JEWELS OF THE SKY, and know that, right?  :))  Oh, by the way, Catherine had to snap this photo at 60 mph because her husband wouldn’t slow down nor stop. It was just too hot and we did want to get to Vegas before sundown.

Terrain north of Las Vegas, NV, @ 2013 www.CatherineEmclean.com

Terrain north of Las Vegas, NV, @ 2013 http://www.CatherineEmclean.com

Next Sunday, I’ll be reporting from Vegas. But before I turn off this laptop, I’ll leave you with one of Catherine’s flower-photos. A thistle that was growing at 9,000 ft. and is 2″ across, with a bumble bee that she didn’t see until she put the photo onto this laptop to view.  Talk to you next weekend.

Thistle growing at 9,000 ft., with bumblebee, Colorado Rockies, @ 2013 www.CatherineEmclean.com

Thistle growing at 9,000 ft., with bumblebee, Colorado Rockies, @ 2013 http://www.CatherineEmclean.com

 TO BE CONTINUED . . .To be notified of the update, follow this blog or join me at Twitter by clicking here.

@2013 by Catherine E. McLean

All photos by Catherine E. McLean * http://www.CatherineEmclean.com   All Rights reserved

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Posted by on October 13, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Where in the USA is Darq today?

Vegas Trip MAP plain

DARQ:  Due to the sporadicness of getting WI-Fi connections as we travel, this will be a brief report.

CATHERINE mutters under her breath: “You brief? Yeah, right!”

IMG_0024

John: Stupid GPS. We are not lost. Now, silence you two.  Let me read this map.

DARQ ignores Catherine and her husband: We’ve headed west all week. Since Catherine and her husband have made many trips through Ohio and Indiana, they saw no need to stop and be tourists, and in truth, neither did I.  So, our first really nice stop was Kansas City where we went to . . .

Fort Osage, Kansas City, Kansas

Fort Osage is a recreated trading post. I can’t believe how primitive Earth’s people were.  A wood fort?  Indians and their canoes made out of a trunk of a tree? Shackles and a whipping post–

CATHERINE:  They were called floggings posts back then.  IMG_0110

DARQ: Right.  Floggings and whipping posts . . .  Anyway, what was more interesting was the river.

IMG_0026

Missouri River, Kansas

 

The wide Missouri.  The fort was built on a bluff overlooking the river. And, of course, Catherine had the camera out taking pictures of her favorite subject (other than me)–flowers.  Like this one–

Showy Partridge

Showy Partridge

 

 

And then we were back on the road, traversing over the Missouri a number of times.  Boy that river sure did snake about!

And Kansas was flat. Flatter than flat . . .

 

Kansas farmland.

Kansas farmland.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CATHERINE: But the sky was really awesome, Darq.  Multiple layers of clouds, including storm cloud-puffs cruising low.

DARQ: But not much rain.  I’m thankful for that!  Anyway, miles and miles, hours and hours of nothing but flat, flat, flat.  When do we get to Colorado?

CATHERINE: When we get there. Oh, look at that–windmills!

Kansas Windmills 2013

Kansas Windmills

TO BE CONTINUED . . Where will Darq be next Sunday?  Stop back and find out.

To be notified of the updates to this blog, follow Darq and Catherine with Twitter by clicking here.

All photos by Catherine E. McLean * http://www.CatherineEmclean.com

@2013 by Catherine E. McLean – All rights reserved. 

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Posted by on October 6, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Road Trip!

IMG_0021CATHERINE:  Darq, what are you doing with all my maps and the tour-guide books?

DARQ sets her cup of tea down: I’m looking at all the places you’re going to be traveling on your vacation.

CATHERINE: It’s not a vacation.  We’re going to my niece’s wedding.

DARQ:  You’re just using that as an excuse to do The Grand Tour of the West and the Grand Canyon.

CATHERINE: It’s a great excuse for a once in a lifetime trip. Pity the Men In Black won’t let you come with me and my husband.

DARQ smiles.

CATHERINE:  Why are you smiling like that?

DARQ: Because the guys have okayed me going with you.

CATHERINE:  What!  No way.  They wouldn’t want the publicity of a Wysotti Indian from another planet drawing every wacko in the nation to mob us.  And…And I don’t want a caravan of black vehicles front and back of our camper the whole way.  No, you have to be joking.  Right?

DARQ shakes her head:  No joke.  And no caravan of black vehicles.  No news leaks. No wackos.

CATHERINE: Then how are the guys in black handling you traveling with us?

DARQ:  They show up only in the big cities we visit or places where you park the camper for several days.  I get to go sort of incognito.  Besides, they gave me an energy aura that will make me invisible when we go to the tourist spots.

CATHERINE plunks her butt down across the table from Darq and says:  How did you mange to convince them to let you go with us?

DARQ, flashing a grin at Catherine:  Seems Agents V and W have family in Kansas City.  M and S are natives of San Antonio. As to Vegas, well G, I, D, and B figure I’ll need company since you’ll be involved in the wedding that whole week you’re there. They promised me a great time at the casinos.

CATHERINE:  Oh, good grief–don’t you see what the four in Vegas are up to?

DARQ frowns:  What do you mean?

CATHERINE:  Vegas isn’t called sin city for nothing.

DARQ:  You mean they have some ulterior motive?

CATHERINE: Exactly. Gambling. Women. Drink. What if they cause another debauchery hoopla like other government guys have done?

DARQ:  Never thought of that, but I can handle myself.

CATHERINE:  I’m not worried about you–it’s THEM.

DARQ:  I’ll take a few precautions and stay in the camper if anything goes awry.  How’s that.

CATHERINE:  I don’t know–

DARQ:  Look, I really want to see this great country of yours. We can work things out, can’t we?  Play it by ear?

CATHERINE sits up straighter and smiles:  Okay. That sounds like a plan.  And speaking of plans, one stop is Roswell.  Do you think you can persuade the guys in black to let me see Area 51 and Hanger 54?

DARQ:  You want to go there, to Area 51?

CATHERINE:  I’m a sci-fi writer. I can’t miss out on a chance to see the place.

DARQ: Okay, I’ll see what the guys say.  No guarantees.

CATHERINE: Right.  So, have you seen the big map with the route marked?

DARQ:  Yes, it’s in here somewhere . . . IMG_0041

TO BE CONTINUED . . .

Where will Darq be next Sunday (Oct. 6)? Stop back and find out — To be notified of the update, follow this blog or join Twitter by clicking here.

@2013 by Catherine E. McLean

All photos by Catherine E. McLean * http://www.CatherineEmclean.com

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Posted by on October 1, 2013 in Uncategorized