A beautiful Saturday morning at Pine Acres sitting at my campsite watching Mojo toss his half-chewed tennis ball in the air for himself…..a time to visit with family and friends.  I pray all of you are well.  We certainly are!  Thank you, dear friends, who continue to drop me a line now and then.  Your words of encouragement and caring are very special to me.  I look forward to the days when a big abrazo (hug) is in order.

Days at Pine Acres are flowing so quickly!  My new position as cook is a lot of fun…..a lot of work and pretty fast-paced, but so much fun!  I still get my shifts as store clerk and enjoy that as well.  The college kids have all started back to school, so our staff list is dwindling.  Good-byes are always hard, especially when Pine Acres may not be part of my itinerary for some time again.  This summer has been spent working with some wonderful young people.  I know they all have great futures ahead for them.  I wish you all the best.

A few little side trips to mention:  a visit to Hampton Beach, New Hampshire, a tasty experience at a Chinese Hot Pot meal with our Chinese student, Joey, a couple of other small local eats, and a few days at camp with my little grandson, Joakim.  Hampton Beach was crowded, even mid-week.  There is no other word for it, other than mobbed, intense, busy, populated………there must have been a million people there.  It is a huge white sand beach with great swimming and body surfing, if you don’t mind bumping into people everywhere!  The shops and restaurants are right across the street and entertaining for browsing slowly, but again, if you don’t love crowds, then don’t bother.  My feelings adapt to the situation at hand…..so crowds are ok as long as they are temporary and I know that relief in sight!

One evening this week Joey called and invited three of us to join him for dinner at the Shabu Hot Pot restaurant in Worcester.  What a great eating experience!  Joey obviously was able to converse fluently with the staff, ordering special items for us and showing us how best to enjoy the meal.  Not only was the food delicious; it was absolutely beautifully presented.  There were two stock broths, one spicy, one mild, on the heat panel in the center of the table.  Surrounding this pot were platters of vegetables, mushrooms (some I had never seen before), seafoods (scallops, shrimp, squid, white fish), meats (lamb, beef, chicken, and pork), rice, and noodles.  There was also a plate of seasonings for our individual sauce bowls.  Joey showed us how to flavor the broth we ladled into our individual bowls. I recognized garlic and chives, but the other two condiments were a mystery – delicious, nonetheless.  Once everything was cooked and eaten, the broth was outstanding as a delectable finale!

Two small restaurants brimming with local flavor are Hot Dog Annie’s, that has been around for 65 years, and the Clam Pot.

Lastly, my very best times are time spent with my precious little Joakim.  Swimming, kayaking, and eating!

Moments of grace:  I am ever thankful for the warmth of relations, whether family or dear friends.  The serene beauty of all nature has to offer may be best shared with someone, but solitude brings pleasures of its own.  The quiet, the gentle breezes, the whiffs of smoky fires, the endless stars on dark nights…….life is GOOD!  Thank you, Lord, for my many many blessings.

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