We are three sisters united in our search for the divine - in food, libation, literature, art, and nature. This blog will capture the true, sometimes decadent, at times humorous, and every so often transcendent adventures of the Salvation Sisters.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum and Really Excellent Chocolate and Vanilla Ice Creams

My Traveling Tales by Michelle

    If you are not familiar with The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, I suspect that to an outsider such a destination might sound like a rather drab way to pass a day. You might feel differently if the name for the "number one tourist destination" in Tucson included the words zoo and botanical garden. Over the twelve years that I have lived in Tucson, I have visited the Museum approximately twice a year and it is safe to say, that on every visit I have encountered something new. In addition to the 230 animal and bird species that live on the grounds, the Museum continues to add new exhibits, including the recently opened Warden Aquarium.

A Harris Hawk is easy to identify by the white on their tails.
All the raptors fly free and are not tethered in any way.
The "Raptor Free Flight Show" is scheduled twice daily from late October through mid April.

   Before you embark upon visiting the Museum, it is worth spending some time in front of your computer reviewing the museum's website to discover what is on the upcoming schedule, including "behind the scenes" opportunities, such as: zookeeper for a day, a private tour of the Warden Aquarium as well as the hummingbird habitat. For the more adventurous, like my sister, Juliette there is a private tour related to reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates (also known as snakes, lizards, frogs, toads, spiders and insects) that live in southwest. These tours are offered by appointment only and require an additional fee.   
   If you happen to be visiting in the summer where the temperature is often in the triple digits, consider visiting the museum on a Saturday, the only day of the week when the museum is open at night. The Cool Summer Nights events run from June through August. In the heat of the day, many of the animals are not visible, choosing dark secluded places to take a siesta during the hottest part of the day. In addition to the animals being more active after dark, the museum features special events each Saturday night. The themes vary from learning how to capture lightening storms in photography to music programs to astronomy. Check the website for the current schedule. Plan to arrive in time to see the sun sink into the mountains as it sets. I have witnessed the most incredible, intensely colored sunsets while visiting the museum.
   If you happen to be going at night, or even in the day for that matter, and you have children with you, be sure to discuss a plan on what to do if someone gets lost or left behind. This happened to us one night. Our friends' daughter lingered at the Life On The Rocks exhibit and everyone else moved on. Thankfully, the little girl stayed put and didn't leave. It took about 15 very long minutes to find her. When she saw her dad she began sobbing uncontrollably and could not be consoled with hugs and kisses and kind words. The only fix was ice cream. It's true, ice cream makes everything better.
Life On The Rocks exhibit.
Much to the girls' chagrin, I insisted that they wear substantial hats (borrowed from me) on
such a sunny day. This is my Wes Anderson inspired shot. The film director 
always seems to feature quirky characters and binoculars.
The elusive coati finally needs to quench its thirst.
   To make the most out of your visit, pay particular attention to your clothing and sun protection. The Museum, on average, has 87 days a year at a temperature of 100°F or higher. I prefer to wear lighter colors, with shirts that cover my shoulders and all items that I choose are made of cotton. Closed toe walking shoes are highly recommended, especially if you are participating in a summer nights program. Be cognizant that not everything that slides and crawls in the night is in a cage. Open toed shoes are fine for Las Vegas but you'll be on a walking path in the desert.
   Sun screen should be liberally applied to face, body, hands and feet, especially if those feet are wearing flip flops (I know that there will be people that ignore well intended shoe advice). In fact, sunscreen is so important that it is offered for free in most restrooms at the museum. I'm one of those gals that is particular about brands. Also, it is better to get everyone lubed up before you go, if nothing else for convenience, and to make sure that all the bits are covered. Slather it on. Oh, and I almost forgot to recommend that you wear a hat. You can probably tell that I'm not a sun worshiper.

Bighorn Sheep as viewed from the upper deck.
This sweet doe wandered over to me to say hello.
The mountain lion is the iconic symbol of the Museum. As a family, it is
the 4th largest cat predator. Fun fact: mountain lions do not roar as
they are more closely related to house cats than to lions.
   In the hotter months, the unpaved Desert Loop Trail that leads to the Javelina exhibit and the Coyote Ramada, can feel like a hiking trip gone awry. In 2009, a Dutch visitor encountered a wild Javelina on a walkway near the Javelina exhibit, of all things. Whoever thought up the saying, "ain't nothing nice about nature", might have been thinking of Javelinas. The Dutch man put himself between the frightened Javelina and his two even more frightened daughters. Dad protected his girls but the family finished their day at the hospital. The javelina disappeared in the wilds beyond the museum and was not found.
   It is not unusual for odiferous Javelina families - ranging in packs from 10 to 50 members - to appear at night in suburban neighborhoods searching for food. What is one person's trash is a Javelina's comeuppance. Last summer there was a Javelina family romping in my neighborhood park, just steps from my house. We hopped in the car and drove to see them, staying safely inside while we got a better look.
   I always carry a water bottle with me even though there are several drinking fountains and refreshment stands scattered throughout the park. If you have small children that are walking on their own without aid of a stroller to rest tired legs, you might want to all together avoid the Desert Loop Trail. There's plenty of exciting things to do without wandering down that long and meandering dirt trail that offers little relief from the sun, at least in the hotter months.   

The playful otters can be viewed below ground and above.
A beaver prepares for an afternoon nap in a cool cavern visible through glass.
Now if folks would just stop poking the light.
   One of the frequently asked questions at the museum relates to whether any of the animals have tried to escape. This following quote extracted from the museum's website speaks volumes about beavers: "There have been a few escapes over the years. Probably the most famous was a "beaver breakout" which took place a number of years ago. One night, the beavers left their pond, waddled through the bighorn enclosure and escaped into the desert. The next morning Museum people followed their tracks, which headed west and before long stopped near a set of coyote tracks. Swirling beavertail prints in the sand showed how the beavers had made an about-face and headed back to the safety of their pond. They never attempted another escape." 
   I wonder how the coyote(s) fared. I read in the paper not too long ago that a beaver killed an eastern European man in Belarus. Insert your own inappropriate angry beaver joke here. The moral to the story is don't mess with beavers. They can be incited to violence and deadly when provoked. Other than that, they are really cute, especially for being a rodent.

King of the hill for a mere few minutes until the matriarch shows herself.
The Prairie dogs are overflowing with personality and are entertaining to watch.

Two miles of walking paths meander through the park leading visitors to each exhibit.

This thistle reminds me of Horton Hears A Who.
   I am decidedly a fan of Desert Museum, but in general I must admit that I'm not particularly fond of zoos. In the late '90s when my daughter was a toddler and we lived in the Bay Area, I decided it would be a fun outing to visit the San Francisco Zoo. The memory that I cannot shake was visiting the polar bear exhibit. I felt overwhelming grief for the polar bear who appeared downtrodden and utterly miserable. To this day, I would swear under oath that he was shedding tears. I don't feel overly connected to animals like my sister Juliette who is the Doctor Doolittle of our family. And yet, that day, I connected with the polar bear in a way that I have not experienced before or after. I am not prone to crying, but my reaction was so intense and so vivid that I was flooded with emotion and I began weeping. When I managed to pull my watery gaze away from the bear I saw that our au pair from Germany was also weeping as was my daughter. We were all transfixed by the bear. As I have written before in the blog, I don't have a great capacity for remembering, but I do clearly recall that sad interaction with a despondent bear who was far, far away from home.
    If you have a difficult time with zoos, I suspect you will like the Desert Museum, just like I do. In fact, the Desert Museum, founded in 1952, set precedence for housing animals in enclosures that resemble nature. My hope is that for animals that cannot return to the wild, that they can live in a zoo like the Desert Museum and that visitors can learn from the scientific and educational programs so people can better understand and appreciate the Sonoran Desert and its inhabitants. And, commune with nature where humans can cohabitate with predators. A favorite novel that explores the subject of predators is Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver, a former resident of Tucson.

Lantana lends beautiful color to the desert. Not just purple, but yellow, and red, too.

This is the gorgeous bloom of a spindly ocotillo cactus. Its hidden green
leaves appear with the onset of rain.
   I learned from the museum's website that on average most of the nearly half a million visitors per year only stay between 2 to 3 hours. Huh? There is so much to see and do that it is easy to spend an entire day. What we typically do is arrive midmorning and proceed directly to the Hummingbird Exhibit. After we say goodbye to the hummers, we head to lunch at the self-serve grill. I usually order the Tostados Grande (I make this version at home) and the kids vacillate between choosing a freshly grilled cheeseburger made to order or a giant slice of hand tossed pizza. The food is actually good and there is nice variety between specialty sandwiches and wraps, Sonoran Cuisine and salads. If the weather is pleasant, you can sit on one of the open or covered patios. There is also a large air conditioned indoor dining room with floor to ceiling windows that capture the beautiful landscaping or the expansive view of the desert and mountains. After lunch you have the rest of the day to leisurely enjoy all the attractions without hearing someone in your crew whine, "I'm hungry."
   During the summer months, the Ocotillo Café is open for dinner on Saturday nights and reservations are recommended. By the way, Ocotillo is pronounced Ock-oh-tea-oh, not Ock-oh-till-oh. It never fails to amuse me when I overhear a tourist "slaying" the word. That's okay. When I was in France butchering the French language, the locals were openly bemused by my failed attempts. What goes around comes around. Back to the fine dining restaurant. The menu is regionally focused. Try the Prickly Pear Margarita or the Prickly Pear flavored iced tea.

The shrubby Cholla cactus can be quite mean, littering the ground with 
barbed nodules. Watch where you step.
I'm drawn to the whimsical nature of the mallow flower.

Tall saguaro cacti flank blooming prickly pear, a traditional food of the
 Tohono O'odham.The prickly pear has three edible components:
the paddles, flower petals and fruit, referred to as a pear.
     Prickly pear cactus are abundant in the Tucson area and many people get into the spirit of living in the Sonoran Desert by harvesting the fruit in August and preparing jam or syrup or other sweet treats. The juice is used by many restaurants in town to make a specialty margarita. I've always been a little leery to work with the prickly pear fruit due to the protruding needles, but perhaps this year I'll take one of the classes offered at the museum that provides instruction on how to prepare the fruit.
   I remember when my daughter was small, she and her best friend Maggie decided during a dinner party that they would take it upon themselves, unbeknownst to me or Maggie's mother, to harvest prickly pear fruit to make jam. Yes, this does fall under the category of "What were they thinking?" Maggie's mom and I were busy putting the finishing touches on dinner when the girls made a dramatic, teary-eyed entrance into the kitchen. Little hands were full of tiny stickers. That night I learned the Elmer's glue trick thanks to Maggie's mom. We flooded the girls' hands with Elmer's glue and waited for it to dry. Once the mass was solid, the girls could peel off the glue thereby removing the stickers. The famished girls were not first to the table that night but they did eventually eat dinner with tender, red, aching hands holding heavy utensils. Maddie sums up the tragic experience in three words: "It was horrible!"
   When I reminisced with my husband about our daughter's experience, Jay reminded me of a similar story involving his mom and brothers. The family moved from Wisconsin to Arizona in the mid 1960s. Joan was an amazing cook and could be quite adventurous in the kitchen in her younger years. Upon moving to the desert she was inspired to make prickly pear jam, so she loaded up her mischievous sons and boldly drove into the desert on a hot August day to harvest pears. The carefully collected fruit was placed in the back of the station wagon. The car didn't have air conditioning, so the windows were rolled down all the way for the drive home. The wind caught the fine needles on the fruit, and like down on a thistle spread throughout the car and got caught in skin and upholstery. Jay said the needles nearly ruined the interior of the car. The family members felt poking needles for months afterwards which were angrily plucked from skin and fabric and then discarded.
A Great Horned Owl meets an adoring public. This bird is a silent flyer,
the better to catch its prey.

I captured this photo with a 50mm lens, which means I was so very close to the hummingbird that
I could have reached out and touched him. He gallantly cooperated for the close-up portrait.
The hummingbird exhibit is always the first stop for me and I spend a good
deal of time watching the birds.

    In addition to the Hummingbird exhibit, I like to take my time slowly wandering through the walk-in aviary. There are benches to take the load off and I enjoy sitting a spell watching the birds go about their daily business. The birds are fairly tame because they encounter nearly 2,000 visitors a day. On the afternoon that I took the photos of the parrot, it got to the point where I felt like a stalker. Poor bird. He'd fly away and then I'd follow him. He seemed to enjoy the attention some of the time, but that's probably just me projecting my feelings upon him.
   Once upon a time there was a flock of parrots housed in a metal aviary in the Mountain Woodland's area of the museum. I questioned why the cage was empty and was told that the parrots had to be removed because wildlife neophytes (also known as idiots) were poking fingers through the bars of the cage. This situation falls under the category of things that make me say, "Hmmmmm." Sounds like a bad idea to me, but apparently some of those carefree, unsuspecting folks discovered the hard way that a parrot's beak can easily separate a finger from a hand. Repeat after me: for every action there is a reaction. That must have been a gruesome scene. Which leads me to share with you a fun fact that a flock of parrots is also known as a pandemonium. That's what ensued after the finger got bit off. Some people can only learn through experience, whereas smarter folks can heed warnings. Keep your fingers to yourself, especially around animals and birds. Whether wild or domesticated it matters not, unless directed otherwise by an expert.

Walk through the aviary to see a variety of birds in a natural habitat featuring
 mature trees and a man-made stream.

Mrs. Roadrunner fusses over building a nest and uses her beak as a tool to transport the feather.

   One of the more difficult exhibits for me to adjust to is the reptiles house where visitors can see eye-to-eye with a variety of rattlesnakes, Gila monsters and other vemenous things that go bump in the night. All the reptiles and critters are displayed behind glass but depending upon your comfort level, the tour can still be disconcerting but nonetheless very interesting and educational. The exhibits are done in such a way where the viewer can see just how well the snakes and insects blend into their environments, often rendering them almost invisible. There are exhibits outdoors where lizards live in walled areas and are easy to spot such as the following beautiful - yes beautiful to me - lizard in the photo below.

I pursued this lizard for awhile waiting patiently for him to cooperate
with his portrait. He finally gave in.

Yes, you can touch the gopher snake, if you wish. I opted for the side of no.

I won't be planting this tree in my yard. The red insects swarmed
the tree and made a loud humming noise.
   Without fail every trip to the Desert Museum ends happily with a soft serve ice cream cone procured from Phoebe's coffee bar located next to the Mountain House gift store. When we are all hot and tired at the end of the day, soft-serve ice cream is the perfect pick-me-up. It's a tradition and it will stay a tradition. For good reason. Forever and ever. Amen.
Our favorite thing: chocolate and vanilla swirl soft serve ice cream
cones enjoyed while sitting under the covered patio.
   Inspired by our visits to the Desert Museum, my goal for this post is to make homemade ice cream that is similar to soft serve ice cream. There is a particular mouthfeel to soft serve ice cream that I find appealing. I know I am not alone. Soft serve ice cream also achieves its particular texture because it has a considerable amount of air whipped into it, which is a natural byproduct of making ice cream at home with inexpensive equipment.
   The key here, which was a revelation to me, is adding nonfat milk powder to the vanilla ice cream. It acts in the same manner as adding cocoa powder to the chocolate ice cream. The consistency changes, but in a good way. Both flavors turned out thick and creamy without compromising the homemade consistency. Because the powder helps to reduce iciness in the ice cream, as does the addition of a small amount of alcohol, the prepared ice cream will easily keep in the freezer for two weeks making it an excellent dessert to make ahead for a dinner party.
   I had an unsuccessful experience using cornstarch in the past. The cornstarch was supposed to give more of a premium quality to homemade ice cream, but for lack of a better description, the final outcome just seemed gummy. For any recipe that calls for cornstarch, I would swap the same amount with the nonfat milk powder.
   According to my research powdered espresso will act the same way as cocoa and milk powder. I'm intrigued with trying my hand at making a cappuccino flavored ice cream as it is one of my favorite gelato flavors, but for today we'll stay focused on making really excellent chocolate and vanilla ice creams, which taste great served side by side in a frosty glass. You can make your own swirl.

Really Excellent Chocolate Ice Cream

Sunday, July 21, 2013

A Visit to Iron Horse Vineyards and No Bake Cheesecake

My Traveling Tales by Linda

This no bake cheese cake just might be the most delicious that you have ever tasted.
It is quick and easy to make and is perfect to pair with sparkling wine.

The stunning view from the outdoor tasting bar at Iron Horse Vineyards, Green Valley, California.
Iron Horse is renowned for their excellent sparkling wines.
   I used to pass by the turn off to Iron Horse Vineyards on my daily commute until this past year when I moved a short distance to Petaluma. I had visited the vineyards once about six years ago, but I have a renewed interest in wine tasting lately because my friend Amy is the new Wine Specialist at the Whole Foods Market where we both work. Amy is on fire to learn all she can about wine, so we have been on tour to the producers of the wines she is selling from her shelves. It has been fun getting out and taking advantage of the sights and tastes of the amazing area in which we live.  This week we headed to Iron Horse Vineyards near Sebastopol, California.

Amy takes in the view from Iron Horse Vineyards. You can see all the way to Mount Saint Helena.
   Iron Horse Vineyards, the famous maker of award-winning sparking and still wines, sits atop a hill that offers panoramic views of Sonoma County stretching out to Mount Saint Helena. They have been growing grapes in the Russian River Valley since the 1970s, and they are a part of the Green Valley appellation. This pastoral Russian River Valley location is just 13 miles from the ocean, and is cool and foggy much of the time. This I can personally attest to after having spent five damp years living on the Russian River. Their soil is a neutral-sandy loam with excellent drainage. These conditions add up to making a perfect combination for growing excellent Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes.

Lisa, at the outdoor tasting bar, sets us up with side by side tastings of the sparkling wine.
It is my favorite way to taste.
   Upon arrival in the morning, we met Lisa who poured wines for us to taste. We were early, and I think she was still a little sleepy from being up late the night before. Iron Horse had hosted their Sparkling Summer Seafood Soirée the previous night. Being lovers of all things seafood, Amy and I were sorry to learn that we had missed it. Lisa grew up on the East Coast, as did Amy as a child. They had fun chatting about lobster, clam bellies and oysters. All of which pair perfectly with sparkling wine.

Shucky durn! We missed the Sparkling Summer Seafood Soiree. (Sorry, bad pun!)
   Iron Horse makes a number of outstanding sparking wines. The classic example of a sparkling wine is Champagne, but this wine is exclusively produced in the Champagne region of France and many sparkling wines are produced in other countries and regions, such as the Russian River Valley. One of Lisa's suggested pairings with sparkling wine besides seafood, was cheesecake. And that got me to thinking about the cheesecakes that we sisters make.

The Iron Horse Summer's Cuvee, with hints of stone fruit, was my favorite.
   I posted my favorite cheese cake recipe previously, however,  I discovered Nigella Lawson's unbaked version a couple of years ago. We think it is perfect for summer since it is of a lighter texture. This cheesecake has received heaps of praise on the occasions that I have served it. It is delicious plain, or with a topping of fresh seasonal fruit. Berries are a perfect match. and so are fresh peaches. You can't go wrong pairing it with your favorite bubbly.

No Bake Cheesecake 

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Italian Street Painting Marin and the Salvation Sister's Garlic Bread

My Traveling Tales by Linda

One of the pieces of chalk art created by Cecelia Linayao at the 
Italian Street Painting festival in San Rafael, CA. 
Cecelia nears completion of her painting on Sunday afternoon.
"And it stoned me to my soul
Stoned me just like Jelly Roll
And it stoned me
And it stoned me to my soul
Stoned me just like goin' home
And it stoned me" ~ Van Morrison 

   On a blazingly hot weekend at the end of June, I attended the Italian Street Painting Marin event held in San Rafael, California. I had a "press pass" of sorts, since I was acting on behalf of one of the corporate sponsors, Whole Foods Market, as our photographer for the event. This allowed me early access when there was less of a crowd, although I did stay throughout the day on Sunday when the site was swarming with multitudes. I was pleased to see that the community turned out in force with kids in tow to view and participate in this amazing spectacle where mind-blowingly talented artists toiled under extreme conditions for two and and half days to create giant squares of public art. Included in this post are shots that I took of the activities that progressed over the weekend.
   Most people would never know that I am an emotional person at heart, since I tend to present myself as even-keeled and level-headed most of the time. But in this venue, buoyed up by the creative spirit of those around me, I was stirred to my core. The art itself, and the conjoined efforts of the group went straight as an arrow to my soul and pierced it with joy. In my state of amazement, I wanted to laugh and burst out crying at the same time.
   The pieces of art that were created I would liken to Aboriginal, Tibetan or Native American sand paintings... created just to be destroyed. Such was the case here. Artists threw themselves into their projects with gusto and guts, knowing full well that the paintings would be washed down the local sewer by the dawn of the next day. No monetary gain to be had in this effort, just artists doing what they are compelled to do, which is to create Art. To watch it unfold before my own eyes was indeed... extra-ordinary.  In fact, the word magical comes to mind.

Misson San Rafael Archangel was the site of the Marin Italian Street Painting Event this past June.
I go crazy for red!
The Goddess of Art pours magic and inspiration onto the site of the event in this popular mural.

An Artist begins her square on Saturday morning.
I snapped this shot early in the day. Music and dancing ensued later in the afternoon.
An energetic couple loved the Zydeco and danced vigorously in spite of the mid-day heat.
   I was taken with the work of artist Joyce Rietveld who is a landscape designer when she isn't painting. She said that this was her fourth show. I was intrigued by her tree tattoo, and she was as much fun for me to photograph as the colorful amphibian that she was working on.

Chalk artist and landscape designer Joyce Rietveld.
Joyce takes a moment to pause for a smile as she braves the heat and races
against the day to complete her painting.
   In the photograph below are my co-Team Members from Whole Foods Market. Alex is a very talented painter and musician. I like his work so much in fact, that I have purchased two of his abstract oil paintings recently, which I now have hanging in my home. I had seen the preliminary sketch that he had planned for the piece, and so I was very excited to see how the painting would come together. Alex is not experienced with using pastels, so there was definitely going to be a learning curve involved. I thought he and his co-artists did an admirable job. I loved the painting of the Marin goddess of the wetlands and mountains, who can harness the power of the Sun in her strong hands. Alex said the experience was rewarding in spite of the scorching heat, and he is looking forward to next year.

My fellow Team Members at Whole Foods Market (from the left): Felipe, Alex and Ethen
get hydrated in preparation for a long and grueling day in the heat.

Artist Alex Zelnick designed and painted a piece for the Whole Foods Market sponsored square.
Alex works in the local San Rafael store.

The chalk painting wasn't quite finished when I left in the late afternoon having wilted in the heat.
Alex persevered on solo for a couple more hours until the end of the day on Sunday... the final day.

   It was so interesting and fun for me to see this rooster being created by local artist Beth Renneisen take shape from the initial graphing process through near completion. The rooster emerged from the asphalt cocky and colorful.
Artist Beth Renneisen of Fairfax, CA makes her initial sketch on Friday afternoon.

Beth gets some support on Sunday afternoon... that rooster is looking ready to crow!
   Bruno Fabriani is an experienced street painter from Verona, Italy. Street painting known as Arte dei Madonnari in Europe, has a long and illustrious history, and this is Bruno's profession:

The Italian Madonnari have been traced to the sixteenth century. They were itinerant artists, many of whom had been brought into the cities to work on the huge cathedrals. When the work was completed, they needed to find another way to make a living, and thus often would recreate the paintings from the church onto the pavement. Aware of festivals and holy days held in each province and town, they traveled to join in the festivities to make a living from observers who would throw coins if they approved of the artist's work. For centuries, many Madonnari were folk artists, reproducing simple images with crude materials such as tiles, coal, and chalk. Others, such as El Greco, would go on to become household names. ~ Wikipedia

Many of the Madonnari painted madonnas, and that is how they received the title that has traveled with them into modern times. Bruno and I did encounter a bit of a language barrier, but I was able to obtain a business card and promised to send him photos.

Bruno Fabriani attended from Italy. He is a street painter by profession where they are called Madonnari.
Madonnari's got their name from painting Madonnas.
Bruno in the late afternoon on Sunday heading toward completion of his amazing piece.
   Traditional designs from other cultures were represented:

So beautifully in its simplicity and boldness!

I was so very sorry that I didn't get to see this Lady of the Dead completed.
    Animal paintings were very popular themes:

Seeing these colorful pastels laid out on the curb made my heart glad.
I was amazed at the speed with which this painting was finished. Beautiful!
I am always a sucker for the Pre-Raphaelites. This was a beautiful reproduction.
   As fate would have it, turns out that I was to suffer for my art as well. A few days after my shooting marathon at the Italian Street Painting weekend, during which I wielded not one but two cameras, I came down with a nasty case of "camera elbow". It sounds much more benign than it actually is. My elbow was hot and swollen and I had shooting pains down into my hand. Having to wash my hair with one arm and barely being able to dress myself was no fun at all. Thankfully, I was better in just a few days, and could resume sleeping. But knowing the outcome would be the same, would I do it all again next year? The answer is this... in a heartbeat.

A little girl finishes her square in the kid's art section.

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