Archive for the ‘Humor’ Category

Panic and exhilaration at full gallop

May 3, 2017

I had been yearning to be back on a horse for years. Memories of my time as a teenager, biking to the new stable where they eventually allowed my friend and me to take out horses on our own, have nudged at my subconscious. Even knowing that I would not be accorded the privilege of riding without a guide, the appeal of being in close contact with these beautiful, temperamental beings held a strong appeal.

The feeling of cantering around an open field back then felt timeless. Our hour and a half evaporated. We knew the woods and fields and could pace our ride to have enough time to enjoy the scenery, away from everyone else.
There were ten of us who signed up for the horseback excursion from our hotel in Patagonia and the estancia (large ranch) was clearly well drilled, sizing helmets and readying horses. Several of our group were first timers, and the bulk of the ride was casual walking through lovely woods on one side of the steppe. It was greener here than the arid stretches surrounding the hotel and the glacial lake it bordered.

At one point, the guide asked me if I would like a little gallop before meeting up with the group again. “Sure!” I responded readily, imagining the easy going rhythm of a canter. He signaled one other person from our group and myself to follow the gaucho off to the left.

Once the others were around the bend, without so much as a howdy do, the gaucho took off like a shot, at a full gallop of 340 miles per hour. I was sliding around in my slippery hiking pants and quick- dry panties literally breathless within seconds! We slowed to a walk around a steep curve where the trees hung low and needed to be held aside and then just as abruptly were off at break neck speed. My horse, who had been antsy from the beginning, insisted on bolting past my fellow group member and I wondered whether he had wings that would unfold or was merely applying the after burners.

The saddle was unlike any I had ever ridden, without the horn of a western style, but more bulky than the traditional English saddle. There was a hump in front that I was relieved one could grab in order to keep a seat on the turbo charged beast who had sensed a return to the barn.

Having managed to remain in the saddle I can say that it was exhilarating. I relayed my panic and glee to my family and my husband was quick to point out that he recalled a certain adventure in Colorado where we had traveled to regroup after my mother in law’s death. With one guide for our group of two dozen, the guide asked whether I would mind being in the lead for a bit while he went back to check on the others.

“Happy to do it!” I assured him. As my husband tells it, within moments I had coaxed us into a gallop (we were trotting) and he was horizontal on his horse, managing to stay on by dint of his thirty year old strength. He feels his terror matched my mild hysteria at zooming warp speed with a horse who did not even speak English.

Fair enough. Justice is served. My karma has been balanced. Perhaps the next time I ride, I can achieve a happy medium of pace: walk, trot, breezy cantering and a dollop of galloping at the end when the horse and I are both ready.

A nod to the nap

August 31, 2016

Summer is THE time to hone one’s skill in the Department of Nap. I have never been prone to this practical and invaluable skill, and I am trying to make some headway into this seemingly unbreachable fortress.

There is no doubt about the restorative properties of the Nap. It can mean the difference between a struggle through the evening and being able to greet it cheerfully. My husband has the capacity to snooze on demand, and while this may come with its own downsides, I wish to be able to call it up when the situation warrants, without fear of incoherence and disorientation upon awakening. Even in college when I would regularly play ping pong until 2 a.m., and then trundle out of bed for an 8 a.m. class, I could not dally in Dozeland during the day.

Lately, I have found that Nap comes looking for me the day after I have been up in the middle of the night for some time. I have tried to infer some correlation between what I have poured down my gullet and any subsequent wakefulness, and have eliminated caffeine, meat and most dairy from my feed. Add in a couple hours biking and swimming and this typically ensures a pleasant forty winks, as long as it is also cool in the bedroom. My primary care physician describes sleep as becoming more fragile as we move through the life cycle. I like this description, as it suits so well. If I have set the stage properly, I generally enjoy my six-seven hours of z’s even with brief forays to pee if I surface. I have also learned not to sweat the times when I’m wakeful from 1-3 a.m., but instead try to enjoy the quiet, and get in some needed reading that I have missed from the day.

I’m not taking this lying down. I realized that this occasional night wakefulness has actually paved the way for my budding expertise in the area of the Nap. Interrupted night’s slumber, plus full workday or workout and voilà! We’re talking droopy, unplugged and battery reset kind of siesta. No lightweight catnap. Nothing to snort (or snore) about.

Philip Roth advises napping to be embraced so completely that one changes to pajamas and snuggles beneath the blankets to more fully take advantage of this delicious passage. I worry that this extreme measure will catapult me into a full on two hour bout of unconsciousness which will then TOTALLY wreck any hope of shut eye at night.

So I’m starting small. During my week on Cape Cod, after a walk through the dunes and a late lunch, I managed not once, not twice, but three times to have a tėte à tėte with the sandman while parked on a sun saturated lawn chair overlooking the ocean. Each time thirty lovely minutes elapsed before I could utter chocolate fro-yo and I found myself only slightly discombobulated and full of energy for voicing my opinion about dinner options. How soon, what to make, what kind of music to accompany.

Ah, Nap. You’re within my grasp. Soon it will not be just during movies that you ask me to visit. Soon it will be my choice to ask for your elixir, your rejuvenating brain massage. If logs really do sleep well, I’m all for emulating them. Rest easy, Nap. I’m coming for you.

Blown away by the Manta Ray

June 8, 2016

Off the coast of the big island of Hawaii, we don wet suits, snorkels and masks and splash into the salty Pacific. As dusk approaches we make our way the short distance from the chartered boat to the raft, grabbing the red handles that ring the structure in order to float with legs stretched out.

Within minutes a twelve foot Manta Ray swims into view not four feet away, its wings flapping fluidly as it banks left and swims off. “Argglg!” I exclaim through my snorkel. Even though we are expecting them, the appearance out of the depths is still startling, as is their size of up to sixteen feet from wing tip to wing tip. Within several minutes there is one after another looping up in front of us, gigantic mouths wide open and gills spread to filter and catch as many plankton as possible. We see their gray and sometimes spotted top and white belly as they make several circuits in a row and I am in awe of the acrobatic and graceful arc that they carve as they repeat this choreography. My eyes grow wide and I am wonderstruck at their size, elegance and utter grace. They come within inches of our outstretched bodies, and several times I’m certain that one of their wings will brush against me.

Suddenly a shout pierces the air. “SH*T! OH SH*T!” It is the teenager from the family of five. “MOM, IT’S SO HUGE!” he bellows at the top of his lungs. At first I am annoyed, worried that his screaming will scare the Mantas. It quickly becomes evident that this is not the case as more of these enormous creatures make their way to the lights from the raft, which attracted the plankton. The boy cannot contain himself. Any veneer of teenage cool has vanished as he continues at volume ten: “MOM, IT’S SO CLOSE. THEY’RE AMAZING. IT’S LIKE A BALLERINA DANCE. SH*T!” Now it is pee-your-pants funny. And the joy that is unselfconsciously bubbling up from him is contagious.

His voice booms utter astonishment mixed with a touch of fear, as he is completely overcome with these toothless and stinger-free giants. I cannot even fathom how he can keep his mask underwater while his mouth is above water to narrate his flabbergasted observations. Anything I try to say comes out in a garbled mush. My husband, who is immediately to my right does not even hear him at all, we find out later. My 26 year old daughter is in between the kid and me and is as tickled as I am.

Even as we are reverent, and silently witnessing the majesty of the moment, there is a part of all of us that feels exactly like this fifteen year old. We all want to scream and shout and wiggle all around and it is just our desire to interfere as little as possible (and our snorkels) that help us to remain silent. For every moment that I am speechless, he is broadcasting the magic with his natural megaphone.” SH*T! OH MY GOD! IT’S A LITTLE SCARY BUT THEY’RE SO COOOOOOL!” Honest and pure, life giving and hilarious, unadulterated WONDER.

I am IMMENSELY GRATEFUL that the unbridled enthusiasm of this awestruck teenager was PRESENT to enhance our reverence of these magnificent animals of the sea. They will remain forever favorites, coupled with the neon lit expletives provided by our young friend.

When the chickens come a-callin’

April 18, 2016

Saturday was a day of unusual relationships. It started with a bridal shower at which I was meeting the bride for the first time, and ended with greeting our daughter’s (newly ex) boyfriend’s family who had flown in from Scotland. But neither of these was the most unusual.

When I arrived home from the shower I was greeted by one leaping dog, who insists on demonstrating her enthusiasm in this way until I get her to settle down. But where was her slightly shyer sister?

I spotted her in the middle of the yard, and she appeared to be munching on something. “Oh NO!” I screamed and went tearing out to the yard at break neck speed. Our seventeen pound peanut of a rescue was pecking at a downed hen. She looked gleeful and I couldn’t spot any chicken parts, but it was clear that the hen was expired, inert, an ex-hen. The break neck speed had evidently been in reference to the hen.

I turned tail and careened inside where my husband was already lacing up his shoes to dispose of the unfortunate clucker. “Nooooooooo,” I wailed, even though I knew it was too late to save this feathered friend. “Nooooo.” Twice before I had caught Livvie with a chicken in her mouth, and had raced outside screaming bloody murder to um, stop the bloody murder. And despite the plethora of flying feathers, both times a hen had waddled away swiftly. Our dogs stay within the bounds of their underground fence, so each time the hen was visiting our (h)enticing, insect ridden yard.

Our sanguine neighbors were unperturbed. “That’s Mother Nature,” and then “That’ll teach her to go in your yard.” I was dubious about the learning curve of the hens and imagined one arriving back at the coop. “Guys, do NOT go over there when the four leggeds are out. Man, they are FAST, and their bite is way worse than their bark. I lost a whole patch of feathers back there. How’s a gal supposed to relax and lay eggs after that?”

I felt terrible that our previously shy and shakingly terrified terrier had hit her stride and was aggressive with the chickens. I know how upset our neighbors have been when hawks, owls or coyotes have picked off their brood. Having just seen Zootopia, I ponder the question of how we overcome our savage tendencies. I am just as struck by how deep this streak can run.

I wondered how much dinner the little carnivore would eat after her live snack, but she ate normally, and our daughter commented that she looked remarkably unbloody. The meaning of this struck home the next day when watching Livvie (aka Chickenhawk) playing with Fred, our fifteen pound kitten. She was jabbing at him with her mouth the same way she does with her sister dog, or us. My husband’s words came back to me, now that I could hear them. “She was pecking at the (unresponsive) hen, trying to get her to engage.” It’s possible that Livvie was playing, but was just too rough, and the faint hearted chicken was literally scared to death.

Our neighbors have talked about clipping the wings of the chickens so that they don’t fly over the fence. I hope this helps. Even with the complete understanding of our egg collecting friends, it does not sit well to have their animal population so impacted by ours. I am grateful for their perspective and will consider whether it’s possible to train the chicken chasing gene out of our feisty young dogs.

A Leprechaun’s Improvisation

March 17, 2016

On the evening of March 16th, when Kate was eight or nine, she greeted me when I returned home from work around 8 pm. “Guess what,” she cried. “I’ve put my boots under my bed so the leprechaun will leave me treats.” What ho? This was a new one in my world. “Someone at school told me about it. Isn’t that great?”

I hesitated just a moment before replying, “Yes, how fun is that?” I was feeling for the hard working leprechaun who had so much to do and might not have enough treats in his coffers to fill the boots of so many children. Tall boots to fill, that.

She went to bed happily while I considered the options.

There were no more outings scheduled for the evening and I scanned our cabinets. We often bake and have homemade cookies around, but not then. I found an item that I have not bought before or since: Drake’s coffee cake packages. There was one left and I snuck it into Kate’s boot, lest the leprechaun suffer some untoward delay. And then I did something completely uncharacteristic of me. I left the empty box in the cupboard.

I am a dedicated and prompt recycler. When a box of something is finished, I crush and add to the recycle bin. Nothing lingers unattended in the kitchen, as the clutter which is already loud threatens to overtake if I don’t feed the recycle bins promptly. I’m not sure exactly what my thinking was here.

The next morning Kate arose and came downstairs holding the coffee cakes triumphantly. “Look what the leprechaun brought, “ she crowed. A cloud passed over her face and she walked very deliberately to the cabinet and stretched onto her tippytoes to reach the fated box. I cringed as she opened it and looked inside.

“The leprechaun took our Drake’s cakes.” she sounded perplexed. I opened my mouth to protest and offer an alternative solution…(Dad ate it last night…the dog pushed a chair over and made his way into the box…a hardy herd of ants carted it off together..) An instant later her face brightened and she declared, “What a smart leprechaun he is. He had not been expecting me to put my boots under the bed. It’s the first time I ever did that so he just used what was here.” Satisfied and pleased, she bounced off to get ready for school.

I sat in awe of her creativity and conviction in her beliefs. Once again I am shown how we create our reality. Certainly I was relieved that it met her expectations. I was grateful that she orchestrated this whole event and established a new tradition. I will be eager to see what lands in my boots on March 17.

Loving the Leap Day possibilities

February 29, 2016

Why should frogs have all the fun? The concept of Leap Day has always captured my imagination, named in such a way as to invite boldness, a time to try out a new behavior or idea, a designated opportunity to bring freshness to life.

This quirky day, designed to bring synchronization between the solar and calendar years, dates far back in history. Julius Caeser (hence the Julian calendar) instituted the extra day to compensate for the roughly extra quarter day each year that separates the two calendars. However the actual difference is slightly less than a quarter day. It is eleven minutes and fourteen seconds less. In my growing respect for how small increments create big change, it is not surprising that these minutes would eventually throw the calendar off course by a full day, and it is Pope Gregory XIII who is credited with adjusting the formula to eliminate a leap year three times out of every four hundred years. (hence the Gregorian calendar) The rule is, a century year cannot be a leap year unless it is divisible by four hundred, thus 1700, 1800 and 1900 were not leap years, but 1600, 2000, and 2400 all are. With this method, it will take 3,000 years to give one extra day. How this conundrum will be handled?

Some of the traditions around Leap Day include the dated Irish tradition that women could propose to men on that day. It is also sometimes called Bachelor’s Day and in European countries the understanding was that (upper class) men who refused a woman’s proposal on February 29th had to buy her twelve pairs of gloves (supposedly to hide the embarrassment of not having an engagement ring.) This does conjure tremendous fashion possibilities, and certainly lots of business for the glovers of the time. Yes, this is what glove makers are called. Today they would move to Virginia, which is known for Glovers. Would they give twelve pairs of the same boring white gloves, or would it include leopard, red, blue, rainbow, and stripes? And would they include hats to match the gloves, or would that be considered gauche? These are the questions that vex.

I propose that Leap Day be considered a personal opportunity to break free of the mundane, to celebrate initiative and reward inventiveness. Employees should be given the day to research new material, to seek new business or to sit still, whichever is most unfamiliar. I love that this day occurs to pay homage to inexactness, to the effort to coordinate and to create a common language by which (much of) our world speaks of days and years. It is a public declaration that we honor the sun around which we cycle each year, and over which we hold no sway. We cannot move or change the sun, we can only adjust our own behavior and measure to accommodate our relationship to it.

What an important concept to remember and reminds ourselves about. It is a piece of structure around which our most creative selves can and do emerge. It is within a framework that our most striking achievements develop. Everyone’s Leap Day will look different, but may it be a time for adventures as large as visiting a new country to as small as changing up our morning routine to try a new cereal or coffee. It feels good to stretch ourselves. We need to have faith that possibility lies within our capability. What better invitation than a day named for this jump?

Driving for Distraction

July 10, 2015

I have always loved to drive. I grew up learning on VW Bugs and Toyota Corollas, so standard transmission was, well, the standard. I knew it was time to switch to automatic when driving in rush hour traffic on I93 into Boston with one hand on the wheel and one hand desperately trying to keep our antsy two year old in her car seat. Not fair to use my knee for steering and this was well before cell phones were a threat to safe driving.

When the same daughter got her license and needed a car to get herself to a school with no bus service, I realized I could make the shift back to five on the floor. When we visited the Subaru lot I was thinking Impreza, and maybe even a new car, of which I had only ever bought one. We test drove both the Impreza and its sportier version when I spotted a bright blue WRX. My husband insists that he was the one who suggested I try it. Either way, one spin around the block and I was hooked. This turbo charged beauty is HAPPY. No delay in pick up- it has plenty of zip plus all wheel drive and the 5 speeds I was looking for. I was sold.

I had no idea that I was joining a Young Men’s club. My daughter’s friends, did, evidently. As do the guys who change the oil, or the random people who give a thumbs up at a stop light.

Pulling into the gas station the other day, I had to back up a little to let a woman out. There was enough room for the QE II to pass through, but she seemed annoyed that I was not backing up even further (and launching myself into the street). I pulled up to the pump and the guy swiftly leaned down. Uh-oh, I thought. Maybe I had been rude and there was only room for a much smaller ocean liner to pass by me.

“What can I getcha, my Subaru Sister?” he asked brightly. I wasn’t being scolded! We were bonding! I must have looked a little bit dazed, but said “Fill with Premium, please.”

“What year is this?” he asked. Had I made the wrong choice?

“It’s a 2008; I got it in 2011.”

“Oh, the first year they made this body. It’s narrower than the later ones. I have a 2015, the one year they didn’t make a hatchback. See? It’s right back there. Check it out! So what was that you wanted?”

“Premium? Filled, please.”

“Yeah, that’s what I put in mine.”

We chatted a few more minutes about how much we love our cars and how much fun they are to drive. I feel a little like an imposter because I don’t know anything about stats, I have not suped mine up, and I don’t even drive particularly aggressively. (Says me. My husband used to call me Emerson (Fittipaldi) because of my penchant for, um, efficient driving.) I have started to own that I should just expect comments of comradeship from the young men with whom I come into contact who enjoy cars. I don’t have to worry about the fact that they are my daughters’ ages. We are just sharing the simple appreciation of a well made car that we can afford that offers a driving experience pleasure. As well as handling well in the snow. In my book, the ideal marriage of form and function. Now if only I could put the top down……

To Pill a Mocking Cat

March 14, 2015

If you live with a cat, especially an older one, you may know that the way one describes administering medication to a feline is “to pill” them. Yes, it is an active verb, perhaps more accurately described as a contact sport.

It starts out innocuously enough, with a text to my phone from CVS that Bob or Daphne Stafford has a script ready for pick up. I have long since stopped grumbling about being a secretary for my cats. Now I just swing by, have their date of birth at the ready and pick up their drugs. Sometimes I mention that it’s for a cat, as Phenobarbital and Prednisone might look like a tricky combination for a 10 or 11 year old child.

Bobcat recently had a cardiac event, which necessitated an additional trio of medicines. I stare in a combination of wonder and horror at the cabinet which holds his arsenal and finally bought am and pm medicine cases to help keep them straight. It used to be so simple. I could stuff his one pill into a treat and he was grateful to gobble it down; he would even purr in anticipation. The stuff for his arthritis was dumped into his food, and although not thrilled about this arrangement, hunger always prevailed, and down the hatch it went.

Two months ago, a quarter of a pill was added to his regiment, and Bob decided that this one could not be disguised in a soft treat. He would eat around it, or drool it out of his mouth, leaving a trail of evidence on his way to sulk underneath the bench, or hurl it out of his mouth. His previously secret target practice means he is able to land these tiny bits on shirt collars, eyebrows, or camouflaged into the carpet for later disposal.

This latest round of prescriptions made my eyes pop, and my fingers wince in anticipation. One is liquid, and easy to squirt into the corner of his mouth, one is small, and acceptable in a treat, but the third is the size of Wyoming. We learned that they were designed for dogs to be chewed, so they are like biscuits. For Great Danes. Liver flavored. I need to cut it into literally dozens of pieces. The best way to get them into the animal is for my husband to get him in a gentle (but firm) headlock while he is lying down (the cat, not my husband). Then he can pry open the cat’s locked jaw, creating an open gullet for me to shower the flavored bits of cardiac functioning assistance. This is a much less efficient option on my own, as I am lacking the extra hands needed to hold him steady, and can only employ a gentle knee or elbow as I contort him and myself into the most favorable way to impart the gift to him. A lean 21 pound cat can bring remarkable force to bear when he puts his mind (and claws) to it.

I wonder that he still likes me at all, subjecting him as I do to twice daily torture, but Bobcat does not hold a grudge. He still purrs when we walk in the room, assured that our attentive ear scratches are on the way. I’m grateful that he can separate out the pill adventures from this repertoire and that we can remain TV buddies, and spooning champs.

And so we toil with pilling the cats, trying to balance what it right for the furry creature while retaining most of our digits and bank account. It’s all part of the learning, part of the love and care for a fabulous feline.

The joy of leaf blowing

November 23, 2014

I don’t believe that my husband was intentionally keeping me away from our leaf blower. Quite the opposite, in fact. I’m sure he would have been thrilled had I woken up one weekend morning asking whether it was gassed up and ready for use. In the division of labor that had been in effect regarding yard work, he was Leaf Blower Guy and I was Rake and Drag the Tarp-full to the Woods Woman.

This year, however, he is shoulder deep in our kitchen renovation, thereby leaving the task of leaf removal to me. Last weekend being a quintessential autumn weekend, I asked where to find the blower. He dropped what he was doing and promised to get it ready. A few minutes later he reappeared peeling off layers of clothing and muttering under his breath about some hose that had come loose, dousing him in gasoline. It was not a straightforward fix.

Undaunted, I headed out with the rake and my best whistling tunes. Our neighbor spied me and my slow progress against the tide of leaves in our yard, and offered up his industrial strength leaf blower. He showed me how to control the strength of the blast, and how to refill it, and helped me strap it over my shoulders. I was off! Hearing the noise, within minutes my husband appeared, thinking I had decided to use our own blower, unheeding of the fact that I would reek of eau de gas. He burst out laughing when he saw me, declaring that I had a huge ear splitting grin on my face.

I was not aware of this; I was just amazed at the power at my fingertips. Like a magic wand, each way I pointed it, the leaves would dance their way toward the spot. How incredibly satisfying. The blower would have relocated chipmunks and squirrels with no problem, but fortunately there were none in my path.

As I wove my way around the yard, creating piles to be carried off later, or sending streams of leaves into adjacent woods, I realized I had found my new vocation. I could rent myself out as a leaf blower and do this all day for weeks. Hours of delight with such tangible results.

Although the blower could remove layers of moss, create divots, or worse, one thing it did not budge, I realized, was bear scat. It took a moment to realize what this dense substance was, but no other animal around was large enough to leave gifts like this in our yard. Could the afternoon get any better? Evidence of our bear friend decorated several sites on the grass, thereby disproving the adage about where a bear, well, you know, eliminates.

I was out until night descended, reluctant to give up my fun, although comforted by knowing I would get another crack at it the next day. After first raking and then spending a happy hour blowing off other work on Sunday, I ran out of gas and returned the tool to our neighbor. Saying goodbye to my new buddy, I felt some releaf about what I had accomplished. And I could dream of new ballets to choreograph in red, yellow and orange with the magic of the leaf blower.

Meg Stafford can be reached looking at catalogues of yard tools at

Not Standing on Ceremony

September 29, 2014

Weddings are always a reflection of the people starring in the ritual- large or small, formal or casual, with varying emphasis on music, food and presence of a religious tone. The wedding we attended on Saturday at the Crane Estate in Ipswich was no exception. What did take me completely by surprise, however, was the way in which the ceremony was conducted.

The bride and groom were the daughter of the Vice President and the son of the President of the company where my husband has worked for 22 years. They’re both close to 30, and everything about the wedding was driven by their preferences, their choices.

“Uncle” (at 80, actually the groom’s great uncle) became licensed to preside, and anyone connected with the company knew how this translated. For the many (among 400 guests) who were not so well acquainted with Uncle’s charms, what unfolded was nothing short of mind blowing.

Uncle’s demeanor was that of someone hosting perhaps a family reunion cruise ship talent show; he was informal, familiar, telling stories about the couple’s families, the company, letting us know when he was tired and would like to sit. In the middle of one story it occurred to him that he should sing a song. Impromptu, in a lovely baritone, he began, but after a few lines, could not remember the words. He asked for assistance when he lost his place in the program, and was happy to receive help about the timing of inviting the two people to do readings to take the mic. They each spoke for a minute or two, and the couple exchanged vows that they had written. In the middle of the marital pronouncement, he interrupted himself to announce that he remembered the words to the song. Our eyes popped imagining a digression at this point, but he refrained from singing a refrain.

We laughed, we looked uncomfortable, we dropped our jaws in disbelief at what we were witnessing. The two families, though, were clearly loving it, comfortable, welcoming. As my husband pointed out repeatedly, he is a known raconteur, and this was a conscious and deliberate choice.

The couple had invited a level of personalness and humor to what, judging by the storybook cover, had appeared to be a formal occasion. I had read too much into the grandeur of the Great House set atop 2,000 acres that rolled down to the sea.

They knew that they were getting 45 minutes of stand-up, delivered with love from someone they hold dear. They were confident that no matter where the service wandered, it was based in the heart, and would end with a legal and delighted pronouncement of their status as husband and wife. The rest of us were honored to be extras in the movie of their creation.

Meg Stafford can be reached at

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