Love in the KC Music Community. From Tom’s Dashboard!

Everette DeVan is a Kansas City Star!

Since resigning from full time employment, Marla and I have focused a portion of our energies on music. Marla has been studying piano and I have been practicing guitar and, now, harmonica. In addition to learning new skills we are enjoying the local music community by attending Blues shows at BB’s Lawnside BBQ, rock and blues at Knuckleheads, Jazz at the Phoenix, musical Vesper programs, and the monthly offering of Spirituality and All That Jazz at Unity Temple on the Plaza. Cover charges range from $4 to $15 so it hardly diminishes the 401K. We have also volunteered at the Folk Alliance International Conference held the past 2 years in KC and will be here again on 2/14/18. Next on our agenda is visiting the Green Lady Lounge that offers Jazz seven nights a week on two stages. There is no shortage of venues to enjoy the local and visiting musicians in Kansas City.

Starving Artists

As you may know many musicians would fall in the category of “starving artist.” Some are full time musicians who perform and give lessons. If they get gigs three nights per week, at $200 per performance, that adds up to just over $30,000/year without benefits. With that low stipend it is difficult to put away money for a rainy day or for retirement. This is quite different from the internationally famous musicians and singers who visit KC, like Billy Joel or Taylor Swift, who’s stadium concert tickets sell for $100 to $500 and more.

Benefit for Everette DeVan

Today we attended a benefit for Everette DeVan at BBs. The event featured Kansas City notables from the blues and jazz communities. Everette, a graduate of the Colorado Conservatory of Music, has been a shining staple of the Kansas City jazz scene for 40 years on piano and Hammond B3 organ. Unfortunately, as mentioned above, a career in music does not lead to a financial nest egg.  And Everette is in need of a liver transplant ($575,000).   We do not know the details of his financial situation, but assume the medical expense may be covered by Medicare, but with his illness, he can not perform to make a living to cover expenses. (Or, given the health care system in the US, he may need to cover at least some of those expenses also).

The benefit performance by over 20 musicians, young and old, was an outpouring of love for Everette and demonstrated the bond among the musicians in the local community. All of the musicians had played with or learned from Everette over the years. The music was full of warmth, caring, and energy. Even though we are predominantly consumers of music, the event made us feel part of the music community, and we were energized by the experience.

Why not get out and support your local musicians. They give their heart and soul to their music, and you and they will benefit from it. There are a couple of Go Fund sites for Everett online, we know Eboni and her site but it appears to be dated. Here it is:

And we wish that we had more information to give you on how to help him!

Here is Everette playing his heart out on a Hammond B3 organ!

As always this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge





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“Alaska More Than An Adventure” to be Published in the Spring

This cover is a work in progress!

Sneak Peak!

Below is a sneak peak of the book before it is published! The book will be titled, “Alaska More Than An Adventure.”  It’s goal is to function as a beginner’s guide to RVing and Cruising in Alaska — including hundreds of color photographs.

Tom and I have visited Alaska about eight times and rented motorhomes twice,  with Marla lecturing on several cruise ships over the years.

Let’s Visit Some of the Towns in the Kenai Peninsula

Driving South on Seward Highway toward the Gulf of Alaska


What a drive this is! I think one of the best in Alaska!

Crossing the Kenai Peninsula is like floating through a wonderland. The Kenai River is massive and sparkling clear. People who like to fish or adventure in the water will be stunned by its beauty of Kenai Fjords National Park or Kenai National Wildlife Refuge.

You can go south to Seward, east on Portage road to Whittier (the Chugach National Forest) , or west on the Sterling Highway that will take you to the Kenai Spur Highway going north, or continue on Sterling until you reach Homer. Take your time and enjoy the scenery and wild life along the way. If you see someone stopped along the road, you know there has been a sighting.

This bear is in captivity but I have photos of many in the mountains!

Driving South on Seward Highway

Turnagin Arm







I love Turnagin Arm. Take your time as you wind around this great geological site. The views are breath-taking and the air is so crisp and clean you will feel years younger than you are! It deserves a lot of attention on your trip. The tide goes in and out and sometimes Turnagin is full of water and other times fish are stranded as the water flows out to the sea to reveal a sea of mud.

Stop at Potter’s Marsh and walk the wooden walkway through natural surroundings that welcome all types of birds and fish. We have seen Sockeye Salmon by the hundreds here. Just down the road at Bird Creek Fishing you might run into combat fishers hoping for a mother load of salmon!

Combat fishing is very dangerous!

Take time to visit the Potter Section House Railroad Museum. You can visit an old train with a rotary plow that used to plow through the snow. Skagway also features a rotary plow which can be viewed if you book passage on a cruise ship floating through the inside passage.


If you are hungry, sit and eat lunch at Beluga point where whales have been seen. Sit quietly and wait for Nature to find you.

This is a photo near Turnagin.

We have visited Alaska during the salmon runs and witnessed combat fishing down the streams flowing out of Turnagin. Hundreds of people stand side by side and, sometimes, three deep as they throw their lines into to catch one of the golden fish. Last time we were in Alaska a fisherman threw his hook into someone’s ear. As blood dripped down this fisherman’s face, people tried to free the hook. With no luck, he went off to the emergency room at a hospital.

More to come later ….

As always this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge.

Posted in Alaska, Alaska More Than An Adventure, Camping, Gold Mines, Hubbard Glacier, Juneau, Ketchikan, Mendenhall Glacier, Motorhome, National Parks, Recreation Vehicles, Rving across America, Save on your next Cruise, Skagway | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Ghost of Katrina, Jefferson Davis, and the Beach

Two Hurricanes and the Angry Gods.

This white beach goes on for miles and miles.

It is ironical. We should have been enjoying Buck Island at Tamarind Reef Resort on St. Croix, USVI. Hurricane Maria thought otherwise and plowed down everything it could on the island. In December, only 30% of the island has electricity and about that percent has clean drinking water. Instead we headed for Waveland, Mississippi to camp as close to the beach as we could. But it was quiet in Waveland, too quiet!

Waveland after Katrina.

In 2005 Hurricane Katrina hit Waveland, dead center. If you remember, New Orleans was in the news. We heard only briefly about Mississippi. “Katrina’s storm surge was a wall of water 20 – 35 feet high moving at 80-100 MPH.  When the surge came ashore, it swept clean the first few lots along the beach.” See


Driveways along the coast lead to open fields.


Twelve years later most of the lots facing the beach (Gulf of Mexico) are empty from Waveland to Biloxi. It is an eerie sight! Lonely pylons out in the Gulf look like sticks thrown to earth by some great and angry god.  The storm surge reached I-10 some ten miles north and plowed down all that it could in its path. We

Support beams echo the ghost of Katrina as you walk the beach. You wonder, what did they support?

are so lucky that the State of Mississippi rebuilt Buccaneer State Park so that we could enjoy the gorgeous beach!

The Beach Boulevard sign still stands!

We hope that St. Croix will be rebuilt enough for us to return next year!

Jefferson Davis

Early portrait of Jefferson Davis.

Neither Tom nor I had studied the life of Jefferson Davis, first and only president of the Confederacy. (He also served as a Senator from Mississippi in the US Senate.)  So we visited “Beauvoir,” the last residence of Davis, discovering a home, two guest-houses, a large museum, and a Confederate cemetery. Included with our ticket was a tour of his home. Donna Barnes, an ordained minister guided us through each room of the main house. With the zeal of an evangelist, she pointed to Davis’ bed, “This is where he slept!” Or, “This is where he sat!” “This is where he bathed!” She seemed to be in the presence of the Divine as she told us several of the places where Jefferson “read his bible!” He was loved by all! During his time at Beauvoir, he wrote several books, among them “The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government.”

The lovely home of Davis.

Our enthusiastic guide, Donna Barnes.

We had mixed emotions about our trek through the property and museum. What about all of those 600,000 boys that lost their lives in the Civil War? Why wasn’t Jefferson imprisoned for life for his deeds? Of course, the more you read about him, you discover that many people came to his rescue and supported him after the war.  He was a very lucky guy!

Jefferson Davis Museum.

Inside the very spot where Jefferson Davis sat.

After visiting Beauvoir, we learned that Sarah Ellis Dorsey bequeathed the property to him. Our guide said that he purchased it! Sarah was a constant companion of Davis until she died in 1879. Varina, second wife, for a time, also lived at Beauvoir.

It is interesting to read accounts of the lives of these people. Some stories are written like a hagiography and others tell a different and more complicated story.  Jefferson was ill with Malaria most of his life along with other chronic diseases. And he may have been a bad-tempered recluse who had bouts of depression. After losing his 140 or so slaves, he was left penniless after the Civil War. Jobs alluded him! And he could not run for Congress again because he had lost his citizenship. There is so much more!

It is so sad that all of these people had to die!

Cousin Charles

Lunch was too short with cousin Charles.

Today we caught up with my world-traveled cousin Charles. He drove in from Pensacola, Florida and we met in Biloxi, Mississippi.  Our homes were only a mile apart when we were children. Our fathers were brothers. Charles worked at Bower Roller Bearing Company with my dad. It so good to hear him talk about my dad. Apparently when he asked Joanne to marry him, Joanne’s father asked my dad about the trustworthiness of Charles. Said my dad, “He’s the best of the Selvidge’s.” Unfortunately Charles’  beloved spouse Joanne passed away over two years ago! It was a fine lunch with a great cousin!

As always, this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge

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Mississippi Blues Pilgrimage

Mississippi Blues Don’t Make You Blue!

Who da’ thought that tooling down to the Mississippi coast would be such a learning experience!


My little friends who wondered who I was?

Our first stop on our way to Buccaneer State Park in Waveland, Mississippi was Dardanelle State Park in Arkansas. We know this place. It is peaceful and even more peaceful this time of year. Arriving at sunset I hurried to break out my camera for a shot of the gorgeous rays on the water and the mountains. Luck was my friend. Two children were trolling the lake in a Jon boat. Their silhouettes were breath taking. As they came close to the shore I said to them, “This is so beautiful.” One of the young boys replied, “Yeah, and we got a lot more places even more beautiful than this around here.” The other boy said, “You ain’t from around here, are you?” I asked them how they knew that I lived somewhere else. “You don’t talk like us.” I said, “How should I talk?” And they replied in unison, “Southern!”

Cotton Fields

The bales of cotton were like pieces of candy in the fields.

Our trusty motorhome took us across fields of harvested cotton for hundreds of miles. Along the edge of every road and highway were puffs of cotton that clung to the weeds. It looked like snow but at 70 degrees we knew it could not be snow. Bales of cotton lined the side of the road ready to be transported. I reasoned, “If cotton was really worth anything, people would be picking up all the cotton along the roads.”

On a beautiful sunny day as we crossed Arkansas, the skies were suddenly

This photo was taken from a petition asking to ban the burning of fields in Arkansas. My photo was not quite as close to the action.

filled with black smoke. For many miles we could see fire in the fields at least six feet high. What a hazard! We supposed the burning was intentional because we could find no alerts on the Internet.



Shack Up Inn

We planned to investigate Clarksdale, Mississippi because Tom has enrolled in a weeklong intensive harmonica class there in April of 2018. We left the highway and crept through some narrow streets only to discover that we could not visit downtown because the overpass was one foot shorter than our RV. We will save this adventure for another day when we rent a car. Tom did find the Shack Up Inn where we will be staying in April. It is a working plantation with refurbished sharecropper shacks and has become a blues destination!


BB King lives on in his museum!

Indianola, Mississippi was our next stop. Here they have built a $16 million dollar museum dedicated to the late B.B. King, the blues singer and player. It was top-notch and more than enjoyable to learn about his life. Orphaned at four years old then living with his grandmother for another four years, he found himself alone when she died. Finally a relative came to his

Our RV parked outside the BB King museum in Indianola.

rescue when we was a teenager and sent him to school. The museum did not mention if he had studied music formally.  His notebook demonstrated that he understood chord changes and keys!

He led a wandering life.  During his career two marriages failed as he dedicated his life to music. When he died in 2015, he had fathered 15 children and gladly paid for all of their educations. King’s music is legendary around the world and Mississippi has dedicated September 1 as BB King Day. This place is a must-see if you visit Mississippi.


Andrew Jackson stands proudly in front of the old city hall!

“I’m going to Jackson, I’m going to mess around,” sang Johnny Cash. The Jackson stop was not planned  but after reading about the town, we decided to stay two days in order to walk its streets. On the fly, we rented a car, and began our lonely tourist discovery. I say lonely because Jackson is the state capitol but hardly anyone was enjoying it. The streets were empty.

Ruth Cole introduced us to the old Capitol and nearly talked us into moving to Jackson. What a lady!

Jackson is an anomaly. Part of the city is thriving and the other areas are dying (or dead). The old and new capitols, war memorial building and old city hall, are handsome flowers on the streets where they reside. But more than half of the town is empty. Ornate skyscrapers and storefronts are boarded up. If you wanted to shop, you had to visit a museum store! Mold covers sidewalks and buildings. Streets are in need of repair!

They would not let us inside the gate to take a picture of the governor’s mansion.  I had to squeeze through the bars to take it.

We stopped to take a photo of the governor’s mansion and a white-shirted man holding a folder stopped to talk with us. He was the economic development person for the city. He asked about our visit. We told him we were interested in Jackson’s history and architecture and some of the museums. He talked to us about the difficulty of Mississippi’s past and the new civil rights museum that was about to open. He was so kind.

The War Memorial was so unusual spouting all types of instruments of war!

One of the main reasons we stopped in Jackson was to visit the International Museum of Muslim Cultures. “It is the only one in the United States,” barked the brochure.  We wondered how a museum like this could be in Jackson? We soon found the

Sculptures adorn the War Memorial  building. I would love to study it!

museum.  The building in which it is housed is the failing Art Center which has been neglected for at least a decade. We made our way up the stairs to the museum. No one was at the door. We peeked in at a few exhibits that looked like high school projects and determined that we knew more about Islam than the museum. This was such a disappointment for us!

Inside the old capitol. It is gorgeous!

The old 1937 Greyhound Bus Station is a treasure!

This is a Methodist Church. It looks like the Parthenon, built in Greek Revival style.  The Baptist Church covered three whole city blocks. It was like they were competing to determine which church would spend the most money on a building. I wondered if anyone worshipped in them today?

Tax-base Eroded by White Flight

We were sad that the Civil Rights Museum had not opened yet.

Later we discovered that after the schools were forced to integrate, light-skinned people moved away from Jackson and enrolled their children in private schools. This eroded the tax base and quality of education. Without taxes the city of Jackson could not be maintained. And, I had never thought about private schools being an escape from African Americans. I thought it had to do with religious beliefs!  Racism is everywhere!

More later on our Mississippi holiday!

As always, this blog is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge

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Camping Along the Danube on a Viking Longship!

Tom called the Captain the “Warden” and our Cabin “The Cell!”

The sun and warm breezes followed us as we crossed Eastern Europe. Today it is drizzling while we float through the Iron Gate (locks) area with archaeological evidence of peoples dating back to the Romans. Multi-colored leafed mountains on both sides wave at us as we paddle for the fjord ahead.

Here is a map of the exotic cruise (in purple). Budapest to Bucharest! We visited all the cities marked on the map including Veliko Tarnovo, Vidin, Belogradchik, Osijek, Kalocsa, Belgrade, Bucharest, and more!



Viking Cruises plan and orchestrate trips very well, even down to the last day when they picked us up at our hotel (with boxed breakfast in tow) in Bucharest at 4:30 a.m. There are included excursions for every day.   They add shorter excursions (extra cost)  if you think you will be bored or can’t spend a whole day on a bus or you can’t walk very far.

The Viking Lif

King Decebalus greeted us as we paddled the Danube!

The Viking Lif hosts 180 passengers and about 80% of them have traveled the world for a very long time. We met a second woman who had traveled to more than 100 countries! Our first woman was in Turkey.  Last night we talked with a man who had traveled to Afghanistan and Pakistan for his job.

Many passengers are in their 80’s. There is plenty enough room for everyone on the ship except in the staterooms. Twinkers and Hillary (our beloved canines) share a bigger space than we did. When we arrived on the ship, I wondered if Tom would fit into the shower. It is 50% smaller than the one on our RV. If you ever book a cruise on Viking, choose a suite so you can breathe! Tom calls the room our cell!

Sewer Gas

During the first four days of our cruise sewer gas escaped from the shower in our room.  Tom complained several times and they told us that the design of the longboat was problematic.  Finally they gave us another stateroom but it also smelled–but less!  The smell made us nauseous.  If you cruise on a Viking ship book a cabin on the second or third floor!  Some passengers knew about the problems because they had been on Viking ships in the past.  They booked a higher level cabin!

Ocean Cruises versus River Cruises

While on ocean cruise ships (not river boats), many sea and land adventures are offered. And if you don’t want to choose an excursion there are plenty of drivers waiting at the dock to take you anywhere. We usually rent a car or hike the towns where we dock. There were no cabs (or anyone other than chartered buses) waiting at our docks for this ship.  I asked one person working on the ship if he was getting off the boat and he said, “There is nothing here to see!”

A salad in Bulgaria. They serve salads without dressing!

Viking prefers adventures of the mind, eyes, and stomach. When we visit a town (all 180 of us) we are taken to “free” places such as churches, synagogues, (no mosques) with a local guide. We had never been on tours that were so large with so many people. Sometimes we listen to classical or Christian concerts. On a farm in Osijek, Croatia horses danced, sat, and played coy for us! Here we learned how the locals defended themselves with horses and whips that sounded like bullets.

Local pottery to bring home!

In Bucharest we were fed some type of chicken stew with a warm Pepsi or wine, your choice. It felt as if they were throwing feed at cows. Women pushed five foot carts in between the tables.   The best thing about this meal was the ice cream.

The same meal was served at a very nice restaurant in Serbia. It tasted like leftovers! Feeding 180 people is a challenge!   We never dreamed that everyone would go on all the excursions together!

Lace was sold everywhere but who would use it today? I saw loads of lace like this in China?

Culinary Delights

Cooking, wine-tasting, opera, and specialty foods fill in the hours. Last night on the ship our dinner was a Taste of Serbia. I thought most of the food came out of cans because we attend Serbian Fests in Kansas City with real fresh food. And a lot of the food on the ship seemed as if it had been pre-cooked, stored in plastic, or frozen.  The beef stew tasted slimy with lots of salt.  It was probably pre-cooked in plastic bags — like those you can buy at Walmart.  Rarely did we enjoy lunch or dinner. Breakfast was okay.

Lunch Buffet on the Lif.

Beer, wine, and soft drinks are free flowing and free at every meal. Plus, you can buy a liquor package that will allow you to drink any spirit 24 hours a day. (A lot of people spent their time on the cruise drinking and they were over the edge!) In between meals they greet you at the door with Hungarian specialties or some unknown blue or yellow alcoholic concoction.

They played music for us, danced for us, sang for us, and took care of us. We have been on scores of ships and  have never met such gentle and helpful people. This is reflective of their captain (the warden) who appears also to be a kind and gentle soul. My favorite person on the ship was Pedro, the piano player.  He was from Portugal.  I recognized that he was playing music from the same Fake Book (Song Book) I use.

As we marched into dinner these guys played for us!

WIFI went up in Smoke!

This trip was very challenging! While the longship of Viking claims it has WIFI, it flickers on and off. It is so unstable that I could not post any blogs. Their WIFI is suspicious too. Sometimes it appeared that I was trying to enter a Spanish porthole and at other times it is French or Hungarian or whatever! It was like a puff of smoke floating across the Danube.

Ocean Cruises versus River Cruises, again!

Before the cruise I made several calls to Viking. No one could give us any info about times at port or when the excursions ran before our cruise. They even changed the date of the first excursion which messed up our flights.  (I thought this was odd.) The lack of information was frustrating because we would have liked to have toured more on our own. We never knew how far a town was from a port and we did not know the names of the ports (If they were cities!) ahead of time. Ocean ships always have port times posted and list the name of the port where the ship would be docked.

The lounge area on the Viking

The planning and control on the Lif was too much for us! (I know I am just droning on here!) One passenger told us that we were on this trip twenty years too soon! Within a couple of days, the cruise began to feel like a jail. They dictated when breakfast, lunch, or dinner would be served. (On ocean cruises you can dine at any moment because food of some type is always available!) We were obliged to attend a briefing on rules for the next day’s activities right before dinner. And there were lots of rules!  Then on the excursions we rarely had a few minutes of freedom.

Fake Information from Guides

The guides spouted propaganda just like this image of a model in a soldier’s uniform in Bucharest.

I became frustrated with a couple of the guides whose knowledge of religions was about “zero” but they kept spouting inaccuracies. A few passengers were talking about the guides who had trouble with “real” facts. I guess this is the Trump Age with Fake News everywhere!

(Dr.) Larry our Room Attendant took care of all of us!

Both Tom and I contracted diseases on this trip. I became ill in Budapest with what, I believe, was Strep Throat. Don’t worry, I brought antibiotics with us. Tom became ill about the same time we boarded the ship and the rest of the passengers on the ship followed with their own versions of respiratory and intestinal disturbances. I believe he has had some type of flu, even though he had a flu shot.  (Three weeks later we are still recovering.) We began to worry when his fever was very high. The bed was his companion for almost two days. We do not remember a trip when both of us became ill so quickly. These are joys of traveling and flying next to very sick people!

We met a few women who were traveling by themselves.  They told us that they like the planning, cultural events, and security that they find on Viking cruises. Some people had cruised eight times on Viking!  You don’t have to worry about anything and, especially, you don’t have to make many decisions about what to eat or where to visit.  It is sort of like cruising on a floating assisted-living island!

Maybe you would like a Viking Cruise too! Everything is planned down to the millisecond!

As always, this blog is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge






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The Sins of the Brothers, Sons, Uncles, Cousins, and Fathers

Paddling  Through Eastern Europe.  Where am I?

Where am I?  Kalocsa or Puszta, Hungary?  Where am I? Osijek or Vukovar, Croatia?  Where am I? Vidin or Belograde, Serbia?  Where am I? Russe, Bulgaria or Bucharest, Romania?

One sight on the Danube as we paddled along!

Budapest is a vibrant city but as we sailed the Danube across Eastern Europe the faces and towns changed. They talk of the wars, especially the war in 1991 between Croatia and Serbia. We hear about the Ottomans, WWI, WWII, Civil Wars, and …. We pass by ruins. We hear about the killing of brothers and neighbors and friends!



Mass Murder on a Grand Scale

Synagogue with Jews!

Yesterday we were taken to a lovely Synagogue complex in Novi Sad, Serbia.  I asked the guide about its name. She said it has no name. It has no name?  Huh? The synagogue has a name but no one remembers it. (I found the name of Beit Hatfutsot?)

The town elders assassinated the Jews and destroyed the Jewish quarter.  Upon their land they built white businesses and a theatre. Apparently less than 10% of the Jews survived the Homeland extermination. Serbs killed them where ever they could find them and dumped their bodies in the river. (This killing of Jews in WWII had also happened in Budapest earlier in the century. There is a monument entitled “Shoes” along the Danube.)

Holocaust Monument! Iron Shoes along the Danube in Budapest. The Jews were killed but the shoes were kept because they had worth!

We drove through Vukovar, Croatia with tears on our faces. They did not stop the bus to allow us to take pictures of the houses that still lay in ruins.

This Vukovar pic was taken off the net. It looks like Syria today, doesn’t it?


Another shot of the city in the 1990’s.


See website:

Serbs destroyed 90% of this small town in what they call the “Homeland War” in the 1990’s. They say is was a massacre. Every other house and business is in ruins. The Serbs told the people to leave because they were taking over their town, their businesses and residences. A few thousand remained to fight the Serbs and try to protect their homes. In the end, like Syria, nothing much was left of the town and the Serbs went home. Their greed ended up killing 5,000 people, according to our guide. All of this violence did not mean too much to us as we traversed the town. How do you take sides in a war?

She sang Christian hymns! It sounded like chanting!

After this heart-wrenching sight we went on to a the Holy Cross church in Osijek, Croatia which is in the center of Croatia.  The church itself looked like a place where furniture (altars) had been collected and stored to protect them.  Nothing seemed to fit its structure and there were many different pieces of furniture with varying colors and styles.  We were treated to a concert by a young lady who had won singing contests! And then taken out to a courtyard where there had been a fort?

Belgrade, Serbia

While Belgrade needs a facelift and seems to be in decline. It’s shopping area was stunning!

The next day we visited Serbia and spent the afternoon in Belgrade. Immediately we understood what the Serbs had done. Belgrade has magnificent buildings similar to Budapest. You could see a long history of wealth and power on every street, unlike the country hamlets in Croatia that we visited. Like a child who wanted the toys of others, Serbia made a land-grab. Our guide in Belgrade protested that NATO sent bombers to Belgrade and destroyed parts of the city. We were shown a quadrant that stood destroyed like a holocaust monument to the past. She lamented the death of 4,000 children and civilians. But that bombing stopped the Serbs in their greedy path according to some.

On the Prince Michael’s shopping street, little girls and old men played for tourists hoping to make a little cash.  I have never seen little kids play toy pianos for money!

They were quite the hit on the mall!


Novi Sad, Serbia

Lovely Novi Sad, Serbia. A Thoughtful Guide in the Square!

A sadness covers the faces of many people as we visit country after country. Our guide in Novi Sad, Serbia said, “We don’t look backward, and we don’t look forward.” We live day by day and hour by hour! We are not planning because another war could come any time. I kept thinking about what she had said. I think the people are still grieving about the wars.   How do you ever stop grieving for all the atrocities done by your brothers, fathers, cousins, or your family?


Bucharest, Romania

This is not my photo. I wanted you to view the grand area created by the Communists. It is overwhelming to experience. It is called the Palace of the Parliament!

There is more. Bucharest, Romania rivals Budapest in its grand stature but it needs some redecorating. They are trying to renovate block-long apartments constructed by the Communists.  Communism under Nicholae Ceausescu re-ordered the lives of the people until they went over the edge and assassinated him. Massive buildings line the crowded streets. I felt like I was entering an arena of a God. This man murdered thousands with his strict approach to allocation of resources, and was said to be the cause of a civil war that also killed thousands.  To build his monumental valley, he uprooted and destroyed whole communities.  Some say that he tore down 30 churches.

According to the Economist, “The government (Romania) is in the midst of liberalising the economy, opening up new sectors (most notably, energy and telecoms) to competition and investment. Economic growth is at 4.1%. Wages are rising fast. Adjusting for prices, Bucharest’s GDP per capita is above the EU average. Indeed, the average Bucharest resident is comfortably better off than the average resident of Manchester.”

More than ugly apartments. You find these in all Eastern Europe Countries! I would tear them down! They remain symbols of tyrants!

And while there are great sites like the Parliament, the practical side of running the city seems to be lost.  There are nine cars for every parking spot. Roads look like parking lots and people park wherever they can, even in empty lots.  We saw people driving on the medians. We did not see motorcycles or bicycles.  This is a big-car city that is as large or larger than Budapest.  At sidewalk level, almost every building is covered in graffiti. Over and over I kept reading “fascist” on sidewalks and walls.  As you walk the city, you feel a harshness in the air. You see a determination in the eyes of the people. An employee in the Sheraton Hotel assured us that it was safe to walk the downtown area.  Interesting? We did not ask him if it was safe!

People do not respect the property of others in Bucharest!



As we landed in country every country, I noticed a pronounced nationalism. The countries are no bigger than many of our states. We are facing our own issues of nationalistic ideologies these days with the president. Does it matter in the USA whether you are from Ohio or New York? Yes, there are regional differences but we do not have the need for a specific local identity, do we?

Even within the countries people take on regional identities? It is helpful that these countries are working toward membership in the European Union. It may mitigate  the nationalism we felt as we crossed borders. Tom argues that people need identities because they have been conquered by so many outside forces. Those who have survived hold hands and wave a proud flag.

With almost every guide the speech was “superlative.” This bridge is the third largest, or this building is second in weight next to the Pentagon, this was the first, best, most beautiful, most important, most intelligent or brilliant, filled their speeches.

St. Sava in Belgrade. It is just an ugly  shell to be finished!

When we arrived in Belgrade, Serbia a guide took us to an unfinished Serbian Orthodox Church, St. Sava.  She said it was the largest on earth. I asked, “What about St. Sophia in Istanbul.” She retorted that it was a museum now and her church was three meters higher!

St. Sava  pales in the shade of  St. Sophia but in her mind it was the largest and best on earth!

Hagia Sophia has to be the largest Greek Orthodox church! It was turned into a mosque!

As we entered the church, we were stunned by the state of ruin or as she said, “It is in a constructive stage.”

Notice that church and state are together in this image in  St. Sava, a Serbian Orthodox Church.

But, the basement was finished with fabulous painted icons on the walls and an iconostasis (altar) where services were held for the locals.

There was no way for a handicapped person to enter this space.  So people on our tour just waited at the top of the steps.



Pollution is Highest in The Balkans.  The Sins of the Fathers.

You wonder about pollution after the wars?  We experienced very dark skies (polluted air), crumbling buildings (asbestos?), and traversing empty dusty farmland. The European Environmental Agency has done studies and concluded that 90% of European countries have dangerous levels of toxins in the air.

“East European countries, including Bulgaria, Poland and Slovakia, were found to be the most exposed to particulate matter, largely, it is thought, from coal and wood burning.

Particulate matter remains a serious threat to health, because no threshold for PM has been identified below which no damage to health is observed. In western, central and eastern Europe it has caused 430,000 premature deaths,” it said.

We have traveled to the war-torn countries of Cambodia and Vietnam and there we heard of the bombs and pollution in the soil from the wars.  As we criss-crossed Eastern Europe, you know that it has the same issues. And you wonder how the pollution is affecting you?  Eastern Europe is a bread basket much like the midwest is for the USA.  Is it migrating into the food that is grown?


One of the goals of this blog is to bring people to places they might not have visited.  I usually write with an upbeat and positive pen about our travels.  The current blog introduces you to the REALLY difficult side of traveling.  You become more informed and it changes your life in ways that you never dreamed!

As always, this blog is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge







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Forget Paris! Head for Magnificent Budapest

“From Budapest to Bucharest!”

“Budapesht.”  Yes, this is how the locals pronounce it!

The Parliament is an overwhelming neo-Gothic building that is several blocks long!

After listening to someone who had recently been to Budapest, I thought the town would be run-down and out-of-date! My friend was out of her mind when she told me about her thoughts of Budapest!  Thank goodness we heard “good” reports from others! We came in four days early to enjoy Budapest before our river tour  on the Viking Lif.

Here is Tom pondering the founder of Christian Budapest next to the Parliament. Statues seem to be on every street!

St. Matthews, so gorgeous!









You can’t snap enough photos to capture all of the beauty of this city. It was named the second most beautiful city in the world by Flight Network. Paris is ninth! (I could add Valencia and Barcelona, Spain to that small list.) The 1.7 million city is influenced by Greek, Moorish (and Turkey), Art Deco, and Neo-Gothic architecture and cultures. The breadth and sheer variety of buildings is rivaled by few cities in the world. It reminded me of Istanbul and Ankara in Turkey. One passenger on our ship told me that I would love Vienna too!

What a gorgeous synagogue!

Theodore Hertzl, one of my heroes, was born near the Dohany Street Synagogue in Budapest. He dreamed of an independent state for Jews and his dream came true after he died. “If you will it, it need not be a dream.” This is the largest and most opulent synagogue that we have ever seen. Some suggest that only the New York City synagogue Temple Emanu-El is bigger! Its facade is adorned with pick and green bricks and reminded me of the Duomo in Florence.

Here is the  inside of the synagogue. This reflects the wealthy of the Jews at one point in history.

People in Budapest are affluent, earning more than twice the average of other EU countries. Everything seems to run very smoothly, almost a million people use mass-transit every day. There are buses and trams and under ground trains. Very few people use motorcycles, some use bicycles, but most drive big cars! There are bicycle lanes everywhere. The locals and city officials love their dogs. We saw no strays and every few blocks there was a dog part!

The locals follow the rules. They wait for the lights to change, stop when crossing a street, and place their refuse (not on the street) but in bins, even cigarettes. If you hand them the wrong change, they don’t cheat you and they even stop and give you directions in Hungarian–that work!


Great shopping at the indoor market!

Some of the best sights include St. Matthews Cathedral, St. Stephen’s Cathedral, the Parliament Building, Memento Park (Statues torn down after the fall of Communism. See the website: ),  Castle Hill, Margaret Island, The Ferris Wheel in the middle City Square, and every street in town!!!

To view the fantastic sights you can hoof it, ride a tram, bus, or underground train.  Or, you can rent a bicycle, a one person electric car, a scooter with twelve inch-wide wheels, or a Segway.  Or, you can book a bus tour to anywhere!

So huge, St. Stephen’s Cathedral!

The owner of the bed and breakfast where we stayed, Wahab, was originally from Chad and had been a professor at the University of Bengazi before Libya fell apart. Wahab is an electrical engineer who chose Budapest as the best place to raise his sons and provide an education for them. There are 40 colleges and universities in this remarkable city. And education is free!  He purchased some property to create the Evergreen, the bed and breakfast, so it would generate funds to pay for necessities for his sons’ education. How smart!!

Inside of St. Stephen’s Cathedral! Stunning!

The Hungarians have been through hundreds of years of wars and atrocities, siding with Hitler at one point, and saved by the Russians who tried to destroy their culture. They have only had a democracy since the 1990’s so it is almost unbelievable to see the progress they have made in creating a wonderful and welcoming city.

We were sad to leave Hungary. If we choose to live in another country, it would be high on the list. They have free health benefits. I may return to Budapest to share additional photos in another blog!  There was so much to see and digest!

This is like the long boat that was our home for almost two weeks, the Viking Lif

I thought you might like to see how Hungarians view Trump. And this t-shirt was a tame one!

As always this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge

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Forty-Two Years Later…. From Tom’s Dashboard!

Munich in 2017!!!!

Day One


Glockenspiel is going full speed!  Old Town Hall is massive!

It took only 42 years. After my sophomore year in high school in 1975, at age 16, I participated in an exchange program with a Catholic girl’s boarding school in Altotting Germany, located between Munich and the Alps. Frau Graf organized the event. We toured Southern Germany/Bavaria for one week, then lived with a family for three weeks. School was in session so we attended or were expected to be in attendance, along with our host. What an experience for a 16 year old! There was international travel, German beer, and girls. This trip created an interest in visiting new countries and since then I have been to over 70 countries for work and vacation.

Frauenkirke! Wow!

On a business trip to Poland two years ago, I considered adding a stop in Munich/Altotting but Poland itself provide enough interesting sites, so I decided to leave it out of the itinerary. When I learned that an International Conference and Symposium on Lameness in Ruminants was being organized by Dr. Andrea Fiedler (one of the strong women everywhere) for 2017, I decided to submit a paper. It was accepted so now I am back in Munich.

Another bloody Kirke!

It has changed. I do not have very specific memories of Munich other than visits to the old city with the town hall/Glockenspiel, a few churches, the Olympic Stadium (Munich Olympics in 1972) and a visit to the Dachau WWII concentration camp. It was the largest city we visited during the trip in the summer of 1975.

A Road Sign in Bavaria!

The city today is swimming in tourists. There is a very strong international bent to the crowds with Africans and Asians in sizable proportions. While visiting the old town/city center with massive and ornate Catholic churches on every other corner I am amazed at the number of Muslim women among the crowd of tourists. Some of them were fully covered with the slits for their eyes covered by sun glasses. Where was my camera?

Just use your credit card and leave the bike wherever you land!

Munich is very easy to navigate with an excellent network of buses, subways, trams and trains. Bikes are everywhere and are available to rent via a simple use of the smart phone (see photo). After a stroll through the very large and lovely English Garden (large city center park with lakes, trails, Chinese tower and beer gardens ), I headed for the city center and the old town hall. The Glockenspiel was doing its performance on a cool September morning upon arrival. I wandered about, visited the Frauenkirche (strong women everywhere) with its twin domes; St. Michael’s Church where a noon time service including organ music was just ending; St. Peters Church*, with gold and gold leaf adorning the many status and icons; Viktualienmarkt (traditional food market) and a required visit to the Hofbrauhaus.

* I had not planned this to be an ABC tour: Another Bloody Church. Marla has taken me to many of these over the past 35 years, (ABC, ABT (temple). ABM (mosque)) so I guess it is now part of my DNA.

Are you hungry?

There was a bit more walking around to admire the architecture then back to Hotel Leopold in Schwabing (up scale area) for a rest and dinner at Bavarian style restaurant/café where I enjoyed watching the people from my street side table right on Leopold Strasse.


Day Two

Nymphenburg Palace, Olympic Stadium, and BMW World

Just three mass transit connections and I am in the gardens of the summer home of Bavarian royalty. Nymphenburg Palace was designed as Munich’s version of Versailles just outside Pari. It is a beautiful palace adorned with paintings, statues, chandeliers, spacious gardens and plenty of water features. The stories of the occupants are filled with intrigue. Built with money from the people–the money that the church didn’t take– the opulence makes Trump look like a hack. The palace is famous for a wall of beauties, which I think should be labeled “all the girls I’ve loved before.” The tourist books do not explain why the paintings are there. In one room, they could be “Stepford Wives.” They all have the same face. The palace is also famous for the birthplace of Ludwig II, an eccentric prince who built many castles. More on him tomorrow.

With a new Japanese friend in Nymphenberg!!!!

I met a nice Chinese couple. He is a civil engineer, with a Ph.D. from France. They seemed to be enjoying themselves. With the construction boom in China that has been going on for over 15 years, I wonder how he has time to get away?


Nymphenberg is gorgeous!


Olympic Center. I decided to take a visit to this site from the 1972 Munich Olympics. The site had a novel use of tent like canopies that was unique at the time. It looks faded and dated now. Some young Mormon missionaries asked me, a heathen, to take their picture. I mentioned the tragedy of the Israeli athletes from the Munich Olympics. They knew nothing of it. Kids these days!

Next, was time for modern opulence and a walk through BMW World. BMers, Minis and Rolls Royces were all on display. Funny that at $500,000+ the Rolls seemed to have the same seat adjustment levers as my Chevy. Some nice slogans about riding and life were displayed with the BMW motorcycle exhibit.

BMW World with Tom in the picture somewhere!

Final notes. 1) Munich is a city of 1.5 million and a metropolitan area of 4-6 Million. It doesn’t seem so crowded. Must be the use of mass transit and bicycles. Three hundred thousand of the 1.5 million are not German citizens. 2) Inflation is everywhere. It cost $1.2 Euros to use the WC in the central station. I will probably water the bushes next time. (Just kidding!)



Day Three    Life of a King

Linderhof Palace!

King Ludwig II took over the thrown at age 18 and was removed at age 40. He is most famous for having a relationship with composer Richard Wagner, and for building three wonderful castles: Linderhof, Neuswanstein, and Herrenchiemsee. Only Linderhoff was completed. Today’s trip was a bus tour with Norma Blowey to Linderhof and Newschwanstein, with a stop in Oberammergau home to the famous Passion Play. The castles are located in the foothills of the Bavarian Alps about 2 hours from Munich. We traveled through lush farmland where the roofs of nearly all of the quaint farm houses are covered with solar panels. Linderhof is a small, but ornately decorated castle, with lovely gardens and water features. Rain did not dampen the experience!

In Oberammergau the citizens put on the Passion Play every 10 years in payment for the ending of the plague many centuries ago. Only citizens of this small town can be part of the 500 person cast. The play lasts 5 hours.

Neuschwanstein is the castle that inspired a logo for Disney. It is wonderfully situated in a rugged mountain with views across a lush valley. The castle is the most visited tourist site in all of Germany with 6000-7000 visitors per day. Our visit was no exception. The exterior views are fantastic. The interior is relatively simple.

Norma was a great traveler!

I was entertained during the 11.5 hour trip by Norma Blowey, wife of my good friend Roger Blowey, both from the UK. Norma told me her life story and explained how Roger became her boy-toy. They have been married for 45 years. Who would have thought relationships could work with the woman older than the man?


Days Four, Five, and Six

I attended the International Conference on Lameness in Ruminants, and presented a paper on the final day. It was a great opportunity to catch up with friends and colleagues from across the globe. This conference was attended by about 500 people. As usual there were excellent evening events including a gala dinner and party. After the closing of the Conference there was a tour of the Munich Residenz, home of the Bavarian Royal Family the Wittelsbach’s. Much of the Residenze was destroyed during WWII, but has mostly been restored.

Walking to my hotel from this tour I encountered three kilometers of Munichers enjoying a street fest. Some type of warm up for the upcoming October fest? In spite of a constant light drizzle Leopold Strassa was filled with people enjoying food, beer, music, dancing and various other diversions.



Pounding their way down the street!

Is this my new harpsichord?

As always this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge and written by Thomas C. Hemling!

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Find a Friend and Fall in LOVE!!

Pets ALWAYS love you!  It is Magical!

Jack sort of looked like this fella!

My first dog, “Jack” was a collie,. He had lots of fur and stayed outside in his own house. We were always friends until the dog-catcher came and took him away. My dad said that he was sick!

My life has always been filled with doggie friends. So, this year I decided I would learn how to volunteer at Wayside Waifs, a no-kill shelter for all sorts of pets. After taking classes, I became a dog socializer, then, cashier at Whiskers and Wags, and now also dog photographer. I wanted to be part of the effort to rescue animals.  Both of our pets are rescues!

What hoopla!

Last weekend I experienced a $35 bonanza Mega Match where all animals were up for adoption. Sometimes puppies can run $200 or more. Even at that price, Wayside loses money. They take a stray, give it medication or medical help. All pets are spayed and some have surgery because of wounds or an illness. Staff and volunteers at the Peace Academy, train pets to be with humans if they have problems. I have seen volunteers just sitting with a dog in its kennel, or holding a dog for a very long time. Someone told me that it costs more than $25 a day just to house the pets.

Dogs respond to all the love they receive!

Wayside has lots of services for pets and humans. I have talked with many people who come out to place flowers on their pet’s graves!

Here are staff just waiting to help everyone!

People lined up for a block, at least, to adopt their favorite dog. One woman told me that she was at the door at 5:30 a.m. We opened at 10:00. That weekend people adopted 241 pets at Wayside Waifs and 724 among all the shelters. SPCA and KC Pet Project worked together to make the event happen. There were hundreds of volunteers who logged in over 750 hours.

It was difficult to process. Only ten people were allowed inside the building at one time.

From the moment the event kicked-off, volunteers and staff acted as if they were at a tip-off at a basketball game. Such excitement! Everyone was in a good mood! And Whiskers (the pet store) was packed for the two days I volunteered.

Here is a look at the store where I volunteer! Pam keeps it in good order and sparkling!



You can’t capture the anticipation of people who adopt a pet. There is so much happiness and hope. Before they leave Wayside, they have found someone to love and that pet is loving them back. It is magical chemistry!

Often I wish that children in state homes were loved as much as the Waifs that Wayside saves! There is so much care, and patience, and attention to the needs of the pets. But sometimes the adoption does not work.

Some apartment buildings do not allow Pit Bulls or Pit Bull Mixes. Or, apartments regulate the size of the pet or do not allow any pets. After a call to the apartment manager, adoptions are cancelled. People leave in tears but Wayside, often, gives them a voucher to return to adopt another dog.

The adoption process takes a long time. People during this extravaganza could meet and greet three dogs, one at a time. After choosing the dog, then they have to fill out paperwork so the counselor can determine if they would provide a good home for the pet. They have to answer questions like: Where will the dog  be housed when they are not at home? Where will the dog stay when they are at home? How long will the dog be left alone? Is the yard fenced, and so much more.

Everything was so well-planned. They even had special treats for the humans and animals!

People are more than willing to adopt pets recovering from wounds or heart worm disease or even a loss of a limb. Some dogs that seem fearsome because they are so large, are well-managed by new adoptees who love the breed. And how can anyone pass up adopting a kitty or a bunny?


This beautiful pet wanted to get out of jail fast!

How could you not want to take this dog home with you? Look at his eyes! You can see into his heart!







Wherever you live, why not drop by a shelter and talk to the animals. You might just fall in love with one of them! If you don’t live near Wayside Waifs in Missouri, just visit your local animal shelter. The sad eyes of the animals will break your heart! In the USA try the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) and in Kansas City there is always the KC Pet Project.  Cities and towns usually have shelters of their own that protect the pets too!

As always, this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge

Posted in KC Pet Project, No Kill Animal Shelters, SPCA, Uncategorized, Volunteering at an Animal Shelter, Wayside Waifs | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Flying Car is here! The Future is Now!

The Flying Car!  And, Minneapolis is a Charmer!

Here is Tom, Steve, and Dixie from left to right. Handsome aren’t they?

Heading home after a super duper holiday near Lake Superior we stopped to visit friends Steve and Dixie. We had originally planned to create a picnic for them, but they had something better in mind for us.

We parked our car at a Walmart parking lot near their home, canines all squared away, and they picked us up for an fast and furious afternoon. We toured their home and then walked across the street on a floating sidewalk across a pond to a farmer’s market. After purchases, we snacked on Dim Sum and then headed for downtown Minneapolis.

Such a peaceful place to walk! I had never walked on a floating sidewalk.

Such good corn and peppers!

We had no idea that greater Minneapolis-St. Paul included 3.8 million people. We thought it was about the size of the Kansas City area, 1.8 million. Once you get on the highways, you know that the population is big! We parked in a restored manufacturing area with loads of restaurants that faced the Mississippi River.

I guess I really had not thought of sharing OUR Mississippi River in St. Louis with Minneapolis.

I have been to Minneapolis a number of times but never to this spot!

What a treat to see the downtown area and to walk across the Mississippi on an old brick and beautiful railroad bridge. Clouds threatened us but the rain was kept away by all the sunshine coming from our guides. Sadly, the day had to end and we headed home toward Kansas City.


This is from our windshield. The picture is a bit distorted. They are only a few feet away and loud! Yuk!  I call it “trash” camping!

I think we might have stayed longer at our campground but it was a holy hell mess. When we pulled into our spot, there were tons of people camping in pop-ups and tents right at our door. Tom said it looked like Woodstock. In all of our 35 camping years, we have never seen such a packed campground. We visited the same campground last year in September and it was so beautiful and quiet. It looked like there were as many as 30 people at each site. Who was counting them?

We called around to determine if there were any other places we could camp in the Minneapolis area. They were all booked on a Saturday, and Walmart is not a place where we camp!

Steve is a Business Development Guy for the State of Minnesota. On one of his recent international trips with Dixie, he had the opportunity to see the future. They were given a tour of the new Aeromobil. Since Tom and I are not going to visit this area of the world any time soon, I asked Steve to write about his adventure. The following was written by Steve. Dixie took all the photos. I am also providing a link for you to Aeromobil itself.

“When visiting Bratislava, Slovakia in July, we were visited the showroom of Aeromobil, creator of a flying automobile.  Normally, they don’t give tours, but a friend helped to open the door for us. While it sounded at first like science fiction, Aeromobil is quite serious.
  The company is made up of top engineers from the automotive and the aerospace industries, many of whom we met and chatted with.  They have no illusions about their vehicle replacing ordinary cars. Their target market is financially comfortable flight enthusiasts who wish to drive their plane off the tarmac onto the highway.

Flying Car Showroom. You can stand in line!

The actual Aeromobil is dazzling up close.  It’s loaded with one-of-a-kind innovations, such as, ultra-light-weight materials, and it just looks cool.  When transitioning to a driving mode, the rear-mounted propeller simply folds up and the wings gracefully fold inward, all of which were demonstrated for us. 

Where’s the parachute?

The cockpit/cabin is fairly simple, with seemingly fewer gauges and controls than the average small plane.  That’s in part because of the advanced automation–they are already preparing for the driver-less car technology to come.  I don’t think that included pilot-less flight, but who knows?

Steve is really flying here!

Interested in buying one?  Next year, they will hire a sales team to offer the Aeromobil at $1.3m-$1.6m each. Deliveries are a couple years later.  I won’t be buying one, but I will remember fondly my chance to sit behind the controls.”

The Aeromobil would have really shortened our commutes to work.  Mine was 70 minutes and Tom’s was 50.  And, instead of meeting for dinner in Lees Summit, we could have gone to Jefferson City or who knows where?

As always this blog is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge.

Next installment will cover all the hoopla at Wayside Waifs recently.

Posted in Aeromobil, Camping, Flying Cars, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, Motorhome, Recreation Vehicles, Trash Camping | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment