Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Little Way of Ruthie Leming by Rod Deher

Rod Deher grew up in St. Francisville, Louisiana along with his sister Ruthie.  Though they grew up in the same small, southern town, their lives turned out very differently.

  Ruthie was a daddy's girl who embraced the Southern culture, heritage and tradition of her family.  She was one hundred and ten percent Southern girl, part tomboy, part Southern Belle.  She loved to hunt and fish with her dad and was popular at school.  She was pretty, vivacious, outgoing and confident.  She became homecoming queen, like her mother, and married her high school sweet heart.

She and her husband, Mike, settled happily down to raise their three girls in the town they were raised in, Mike working at the local fire department, while Ruthie taught at the elementary school.

Rod  was different.  He thought deeply, he was philosophical, questioning everything.  Ruthie believed life was to be lived and enjoyed, not analyzed.  Rod's journey took him from rejecting his Methodist upbringing to becoming an atheist, to converting to Roman Catholicism before finally joining the Orthodox Church.  Ruthie never left her church, never thought much about it.  God was there, He took care of you and you prayed to Him.  There was nothing to question or think about.

A turning point for Rod came his freshman year in high school.  While on a class trip, the popular kids decided he was going to be their target.  The jocks cornered him in a hotel room and pinned him down, threatening to pull down his pants in front of the giggling cheerleaders.  He cried to the chaperones for help but they stepped over him and walked out of the room.  In the end they let him go without making good their threat but Rod returned from that trip realizing that he wasn't going to be accepted in their small town high school with it's cliques and bullying. Life became harsh for him and when a gifted and talented school opened up in another town he applied and was accepted.

Ruthie and his parents didn't understand why he would want to leave and viewed it as a rejection of their way of life and a betrayal to their family.  This barrier would exist as Rod graduated from college, became a journalist, and moved around the country to various metropolises such as New York, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C.

The division between Rod and Ruthie was especially palpable.  Ruthie made it clear she resented Rod with an openly hostile attitude towards him.  He found out later that she had even turned her children against him by bad mouthing him to them.  What she refused to make clear was why.  A true Southern Belle, she refused confrontation.  Sweep it under the carpet and pretend everything's just fine.  Except it wasn't and the gap between Ruthie and Rod widened.

This impasse might have carried on indefinitely if Ruthie hadn't come down with lung cancer.  By the time she finally went to an oncologist it was stage four and had spread to other parts of her body.  The doctors didn't give her more than a year to live but Ruthie didn't know it.  Her determination not to think about this as she did with anything unpleasant caused  her to refuse any information about the seriousness of her condition.  She said she wanted people to enjoy their time with her, not wait for her to die.

This is actually where the book starts to become interesting.  The first part more or less reads like a eulogy from someone trying to come to terms with someone they loved.  Rod starts to examine his reasons for leaving.  He tries to engage his sister in telling him why she had so much hostility against him.  She would never discuss it.  In the hospital he confronted her by saying if he had done anything to hurt her that he was sorry.  She brushed his words off with a wave of her hand and kissed him on the cheek.

Ruthie soon died, leaving Rod as much in the dark as ever.  His analytical nature forces him to turn the stones over and over.  On the one hand his sister was loving and caring.  Many students from poverty and minority backgrounds gave their testimony- how Ruthie believed in them and encouraged them, inspiring them to excel.  A couple of them left to become professionals in big cities in other parts of the country.

The entire town turned out for her funeral.  If there was a most popular girl in town, it was Ruthie.  This got Rod to thinking.  How many people would bother to turn up for his funeral?  The showering of love and support for his sister and family led him to the decision to move his family back to St. Francisville.

On his return he made some startling discoveries.  His dad was glad he had left.  In fact his father wished he had left when he was a young man.  It turns out Rod's paternal grandparents never accepted their daughter-in-law and treated both his father and his mother abominably.  He put up with it for years because he believed that you stayed with "your people" regardless of how cruel they were to you.

The other discovery was finding out the cause of Ruthie's anger toward him.  One of her close friends confided in him that it was actually his treatment of Ruthie when they were young that was never resolved.  Apparently he had been something of a bully to his sister, mercilessly teasing and harassing her.  It reached a point where she hit a wall and let it stay between her and her brother.

Too bad Ruthie didn't follow the Biblical mandate that if your brother has something against you, go and make it up with them before offering your gifts to God. (Matthew 5:22-24)  But Ruthie was good at not delving too deeply in anything.

Reading this book reminded me of all the Ruthie's I've known in my life.  It's almost as if they play a role.  Everything stays on the surface, no one is ever let inside.  It's a game of pretend that things are fine when they're not.  It's so destructive because no one is allowed to deal with issues that hurt and cause division.  Healing is never allowed to happen because no one is allowed to admit there's anything wrong.  And yet the hurt still comes out.  It's not as if Ruthie hid her resentment against her brother, she only refused to admit it was there.

I guess I find myself siding with Rod.  Of course he is the one telling the story and Ruthie isn't here to defend herself, but I also spend a lot of time thinking things over, questioning and arguing topics in my mind.  I don't understand how someone can be content to glide along the surface and never dive deeply into their life.

In the end Rod sees the pros and cons of both kinds of lifestyles.  People who stay home are surrounded by life time friends and family.  They always feel loved and are never alone.  Those who leave are subject to more isolation but they also experience the richness and variety of culture, people and places that can't be achieved when one never lives anywhere but one place. 

One choice offers a sense of belonging and familiarity, the other offers variety and an increased appreciation of life outside our own boxes.  One is narrow but the other can be lonely.  Especially if you're an outsider trying to break into the clique of one of those small towns.  I couldn't help thinking as Rod described his attraction to the family-like atmosphere of his home town that those family-like feelings don't always extend to people "not from 'round here."

I think Rod wrote this book not simply to memorialize his sister, but to work through his own journey and to find closure for his complicated relationship with his sister.

The Little Way of Ruthie Leming is not an exciting read but it is a thought-provoking one, especially for those of us who have lived both the parochial and cosmopolitan life.  Or have had tempestuous relationships with family members.

$11.04 on Kindle

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Florence: Day one

Our hostel in Rome

Hello to all:
 By the time we left Rome I felt as if I had been there for a month.  It was sad to leave.  But we left knowing we had done Roma. We took a train to Florence and got here yesterday afternoon.

On the train riding through Tuscany

  We were looking for our guesthouse on Fra Bartolomeo.  It was the Michelangelo Studio (everything here is the Michelangelo this or that).  We were across the street when I found the building number.  I walked up to the door wondering which button to push when a voice came out of the wall and said, "Zecond floor,"  and the door buzzed.

I wasn't sure who the voice was talking to, so I just stood there when the voice said, "Zecond floor," and buzzed the door again. 

 This time I opened the door and walked three flights up stairs to meet the man behind the voice. He was an elderly gentleman. He beckoned me to come inside but I told him that I had to tell my friends.  He said, "Zey are comink.  Zey must uza this."

He pushed a button on a cage that went down to the bottom floor.  It came up again with Lisa and Derek and the luggage inside.  Ethan had climbed up the stairs.  This elevator was so small and narrow that Lisa and Derek had to stand sideways to fit in it. 

I refuse to use it but Derek gets in it every time.

Lisa later told me that they were standing on the other side of the street when the man called to them from the window to come up.

We all wondered how he knew who we were.  He is very nice and, according to Lisa, makes a killer cappuccino.  He made her two this morning and tried to persuade her to have a third but she demurred.  I didn't have one because I went to the supermarket and bought three meals worth of food for the price of a couple of breakfasts here.  I would like to try one of his cappucino's, though.

Derek and Lisa's son, Ethan, tower over a European car.

The best restaurant we've been to so far is a hole in the wall around the corner from our room.  Last night I had the Penne Deco which was incredible and twice as much as I needed (I ate it all anyway) and today I had the Linguine alla finghi e porcine (linguini with mushrooms and pork).  Fantastic.

 Perseus with the head of Medusa in the Loggia del Lanzi in the Pilazzo de Signoria in Florence.  This was an outdoor museum with a number of famous statues.

I have been indulging in a totally carb diet here and am swimming in my clothes because we walk 7 or 8 hours a day. 

The Rape of the Sabine
 Woman at the Palazzo

Back then "rape" meant literally "raptio" "to abduct".  The history is the Romans kidnapped the Sabine women after their king refused to give them women to marry.  The Romans then took the women anyway, but offered them full status as the wife of Roman citizens.

Today we went to the Academia Galleria.  It has mainly medieval art and the David, plus several unfinished sculptures by Michelangelo as well.  It didn't take an hour to see the entire museum, which was disappointing. Mostly a lot of beautiful medieval art and David.  At least we saw the David.  I think maybe the Vatican spoiled us.

We were not allowed to use our cameras in the Academia so I can't show any photos.  However, Michelangelo's David (of David and Goliath fame) is easily accessible on the internet.)

Portrait artist near Amo river in Florence

I could have stared at the David for hours.  I did look at it for several minutes, walking all around it a few times.  There's so much to notice.  The muscles, the veins, his hair.  Even his feet and nails.  Each angle made the statue look different.  And...not that I was looking that hard....but I noticed that the model for Michelangelo's awesome statue...well....he wasn't REALLY Jewish.  

    Did you know that Michelangelo created David out of a block of rejected marble?  Anyway, after all these years I'm glad to finally get to see it.

The following photos are of the Basilica di Santa Maria del fiori which means St. Mary of the Flower

View of Florence out of  the bell tower of the Basilica

We also went to the Basilica di Santa Maria di Fiori, which is a gigantic church.  We climbed up the bell tower and walked around the inside which was huge.  Also walked across the famous bridge.

As we were passing through the Piazza della Signoria a huge procession was taking place.  

Men all dressed up in medieval costume with horns and drums.  Very solemn.  I wondered what was going on.  The procession lasted a long time.  Who was coming?  The pope?  A cardinal?  A bishop?

No!  Four soccer teams getting ready to play tonight.  They came at the end of the procession. 

Some of them were friendly, taking time to stop and kiss some of the younger, prettier women in the crowd before continuing the march through the square.

Tomorrow, Lisa and Ethan are taking a motorcycle tour through Tuscany and Derek and I are remaining to walk around Florence to see whatever interests us.
Take care to all!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Rome 2nd day: The Vatican

St. Peter's Basilica
Yesterday we spent eight hours traveling through the Vatican.  Can't even describe it.  Highlights were the medieval art and the Raphael rooms.  The greatest was the Sistine Chapel.  I felt tears come to my eyes.  I couldn't tear my eyes away from it:  Adam and God reaching out to each other; Adam and Eve's temptation and expulsion of Eden, the whole side wall showing the Final Judgment.  (No photos were allowed in the Sistine Chapel so unfortunately I don't have any to show.)

 Medieval Art in the Vatican

Ancient Roman remains from Sepulcres

 Derek helps keep my blog "g" rated

 View of the City out of a Vatican window

The Discovery of this ancient statue sparked and inspired the techniques of the high Renaissance sculptors

Then there was St. Peter's Basilica. 

 If I lived in
 Rome, I believe I could go to St. Peter's every single day and stare at Michelangelo's Pieta for an hour.  The place was crowded but looking at Mary with the dead Jesus on her lap, all I could hear was an intense silence.

 Michelangelo's Pieta

Beneath the main floor of the Basilica is a whole underground chapel with the remains of different popes and saints and purportedly the remains of St. Peter.  Maybe it's him.  Who knows?

In the middle of the day my friend, Lisa,  became so tired she sat down on the floor.  A guard came up staring at her.  Finally he said, "Signora!"

Lisa just stared at him.
He stared at her.
Finally he said, "Get up!"  and walked off.

This was followed by the not so funny excursion when we found out we had to walk from St. Peter's all the way around Vatican City back to where we entered just to collect our back packs.  That took forty-five minutes alone.

 When we got there the guard gave Lisa her back pack and said, "What's this?"  pounding the backpack with his finger.

Just then the back pack started crowing.  It was her phone alarm.
The man looked at her and said, "All day!"

For some reason she hadn't turned it off correctly so the guards got to hear her backpack crowing for eight hours.

Finished the day at a very nice café and watched the people go by.  Returned home very, very, tired.

Today we're going to the Colosseum.  Tomorrow we leave for Florence via a train ride through Siena.

 Tiny car.  These are common in Italy

Sunday, July 14, 2013

My Life Without God by William J. Murray

     I got this book because I am deeply interested in how someone arrives at their personal beliefs and deeply held convictions.  I had read somewhere that the famous atheist, Madeline Murray O’Hair’s son had become a Christian so when I learned of this book I wanted to read his story.  In a nutshell, let’s just call it a crazy trip.

     Before I review this book I want to make clear that I am not trying to prove any points about atheists or Christians.  There are plenty of nice atheists in the world and more than a few nasty Christians.  This needs to be understood before anyone reads this post so they don’t arrive at the conclusion that I’m saying, “See what a monster Madeline Murray O’Hair was?  Atheists are all horrible people!” 

   As I said, I wanted to read one man’s journey from atheism to Christianity.  What was his starting point?  Why did he believe what he believed?  What happened to change his views?  Where is he now?

    Through this process we learn a good deal about the person who initially influenced Bill Murray’s world view and beliefs.  That would be his mother Madeline.

   Madeline had Bill while serving in the Woman’s Auxiliary Corps during WWII.  The father, William Murray, was an officer and not the man she was married to.  Her husband J. Roths agreed to stay married to Madeline and adopt Bill as his son.

    Madeline refused to do this and chased down Murray Sr and did everything in her power to get him to divorce his wife and marry her.  This he never did but she named her son after him anyway. She also changed her last name to Murray even though they never married (she added "O'Hair later after she married Richard O'Hair).  Bill Jr. met his biological dad only once in his life.

    Madeline later had another son out of wedlock.  She often told Bill that his half brother Garth’s father would have married her but only if she got rid of Bill.  “I would never do that, Bill.  I love you.”

     This sounds noble, but in fact it was Madeline’s way of inflicting guilt on her oldest son.  This was a tool she used a lot with him and everyone else connected with her. 

     Life in the Murray household was filled with constant fighting and tension.  The T.V. was always on and the volume set at the loudest setting.  People screamed at each other over it.  Bill’s grandparents and Uncle all lived in this house together with him and his mother and half brother.   

     He remembers that as a baby, his brother was only touched when picked up to be fed.  Otherwise he was kept in his crib.  To get attention baby Garth would hit his head against the bars of his crib. 

     Madeline was as uninvolved with his own life. He didn’t even know she was his mother, even though they lived in the same house.  He referred to her as “Madeline” until he was eight when she informed him that she was his mother and should be called, “mom”.

    And that was the house Bill grew up in.  Loud noise, fighting, and a baby hitting his head against the crib.  No peace.


       Madeline and her father constantly fought and at times, Madeline could get violent, hurling plates and knives at her father.  She seemed to have a maniacal hatred against him.  She even studied ways to murder him so it would look like a heart attack.  But instead of doing it herself, she urged young Bill to do it.  This was while he was still in middle school.  “If you loved me, you’d do it,” was her constant harangue. 

  The point became moot.  Worn down by the incessant harassment and fighting.  Madeline’s father finally had a heart attack on his own and died.  At first Madeline was crass about it, “Get the cheapest coffin.”

    Later she became consumed with guilt.  For the rest of her life she would visit his grave and talk to him.  She also became involved in séances and the occult, which is ironic for an atheist.

    Madeline was deeply involved in the Communist party of America.  She was head of the local chapter.  She tried to become a Soviet citizen, even moving her family to Paris to obtain a Visa but was turned down.  Later she tried to become a Cuban citizen but was refused that as well.

   One morning she arrived at Bill’s school to pick him up.  She heard the class recite the pledge of allegiance.  She asked her son, “Do they always do this?”

    He replied in the affirmative.  When she discovered that they also prayed and read the Bible she became enraged.

   The rest is history.  Bill relates the incident from his own point of view.  When Madeline complained to the head of the school, they removed Bill from the class during prayer and Bible reading but she told Bill to sneak in.  She wanted her case to be based on the fact they were forcing her son to be subject to prayer and Bible reading.  She made him keep a daily log of every time they mentioned God or anything religious.  When she read the textbooks she became elated.

   “They teach as if the Bible stories were fact.  We can sue them for this as well.”

    Madeline had boundless energy.  She called every newspaper and TV station.  She got plenty of media attention.  And then the financial support came rolling in.  She had found her mission.

    And Bill?  He got to be the object of taunts, shunning and bullying.  His life became hell. He finally had to change schools.

    The rest of the book is an interesting study of how someone can purport to be for a cause (as in Madeline’s case to eject religion out of the public arena) and really not care at all about that cause.  What did Madeline care about?

    Herself.  Her own glory.  Receiving nationwide attention.  And making lots and lots of money.

     People from all over wrote her letters of support enclosing checks for huge amounts of money.  People bequeathed their estates to her.  She had apparently touched a raw nerve with a certain segment of society and they wanted her to succeed. Years later, when Bill was a part of her American Atheists Association he wrote these same people asking them to join him in creating positive change in the name of atheism, such as creating atheist chairs in universities or hospitals.  The response was vile, to say the least.  Apparently Madeline’s supporters weren’t interested in producing anything positive but seemed to be a bunch of malcontents whose only interest was in tearing down religion.

   Madeline Murray O’Hare is an interesting study in someone who, in my opinion, had to suffer from some kind of narcisstic personality disorder.  She had limitless amounts of energy, rage and hatred. It’s possible that she was sexually abused.  Bill mentions that in his mother’s office at her atheist headquarters, she had hundreds of figurines of animals copulating.  They covered her bookshelves and desk.

    She never stopped trying to figure out ways to keep herself in the public eye.  Her main tactic was to sue religious figures.  She sued everyone from Billy Graham to the Pope.

    By this time O’Hare’s outrageous antics had outlived their usefulness and she was starting to become irrelevant to most Americans.  She still had her supporters but they were dwindling.

     And what did Bill do after he served his purpose?  He supported his mom for a while but mainly he wanted to get out of her clutches and away from the stigma of being her son.  His own life journey was a head long tumble into alcohol and drug abuse.

    He doesn’t white wash his own self absorption or how he used people for his own gratification.  This was primarily through getting women pregnant.  His first wife, he married for this reason, at the age of nineteen.  The marriage didn’t last and he eventually handed the raising of his daughter, Robin, to his mother.  He knew it was the wrong thing to do, but didn’t want to be saddled with raising the toddler himself.

      Years later, when Robin was still a young girl, his brother, Garth, who was twelve at this time, pleaded with Bill to take them away from his mother.  Bill knew the situation was bad with heavy fighting, alcoholism and abuse rampant in his mother’s home but his own interests were more important to him. 

    Later, when his daughter was a teenager he tried to reestablish a relationship with her but it was too late.  She wanted nothing to do with him.  He writes all this with remorse because both Robin and Garth eventually became partners with Madeline in her American Atheists Association.

     The rest of the book describes Bill meandering from one job to another combined with sleeping around and abusing drugs.  His turning point came when he got a job at an airline with a man, Tom, who reminded him of his mother.  This man purposefully flew planes that were substandard.  Twice this cost the lives of a plane full of people.

     Bill knew why these lives were lost but because Tom was wealthy and had connections no investigation was ever held. 

    By this time, Bill was going to Alcoholics Anonymous and trying to follow the twelve-step program.  Part of this is relying on God.

    God?  Does He even exist?  Bill was pondering this while driving home from the airport, right after a close friend was killed in a plane wreck he knew could have been prevented.  He had a flash:

       “Tom ran Universal Airways the way my mother ran the Society of Separationists.  Whatever doubts I may have had that there was distinct evil in the world were snuffed out by Tom Evans....

       I was not a model of virtue, of course, and now had a very serious problem with alcohol.  I drank with Tom, and one night after he chugged a pint of brandy, he tried to molest one of the girls who worked with Val (his then wife).  Because of the amount of money Tom paid me, I looked the other way.  I hated him for what he did, and I hated myself for letting him get away with it.

     One day, while driving home from work, the truth struck me.  I thought, 'There has to be a God because there certainly is a devil.  I have met him, talked to him, and touched him.  He is the personification of evil.  I’ve seen him in the lives of people I’ve known.'" (pg. 285)

     This was the turning point for Bill Murray.  He didn’t have a sudden, irreversible leap into virtue, but it was a slow steady climb. 

      “Within days my life and attitudes began to change...I no longer intensely hated my mother.  Now I really wanted to be able to love her, whereas before I had only wanted revenge.  I began to see my mother for what she truly was, a sinner, just like me...

    ...The only thing in my mind that was left undone was to apologize.  I wanted to apologize to Susan (first wife) and Robin, to Valerie and Jade (second wife and daughter).   I wanted to apologize to my country for robbing a part of its heritage of righteousness by participating in the prayer and Bible reading case...”

  Twenty years after the prayer case Bill wrote two letters of apology.  One was to the newspaper in Austin, asking the people of that community of forgive him for helping to build the American Atheist Center in their city.  The second was to the people of Baltimore where the prayer case took place.  He quotes his letter to the Baltimore paper in full in his book.

Today he heads many ministries, concentrating on working with people in former Soviet countries. He has many interesting insights on the former Soviet Union.  He contends that the Soviet Union was never a world power but a third world nation with a big army.  He said the strongest currency in circulation there was the U.S. dollar.  Ironically he is allowed to talk about Jesus Christ in public schools, public parks and other venues in Russia and the former satellite countries, something his mother’s lawsuit prevents him from doing in his own country.

     When his mother was asked on TV what she thought about her son’s conversion she replied that she had a “post natal abortion” and had nothing more to do with him.

     He ends his book by sadly stating:

     “I have not seen my daughter Robin for more than a decade.  Like my mother she refuses to speak with me.  Like my mother and brother she has tremendous wealth which has been created from donations for the atheist cause.  The three of them live together, work together, take all their meals together, and vacation together.  They see nothing outside their own little family unit.  The lives of my brother Garth and my daughter Robin are dedicated to the survival and worship of my mother.”

   This book was published in 1992.  Little did Bill or his estranged family know of the horror that awaited them just a couple of years later.

     This is not in the book but for those of you who don’t know, Madeline Murray O’Hair, her son, Garth and granddaughter, Robin disappeared in 1995.  Their bodies were found on a Texas ranch a year later.  They had apparently been tortured to death and their bodies dismembered.  A former employee and two accomplices were charged with the crime.

     And that is the story of William J. Murray.  The book is a worthwhile read for those interested in the life of the son of one of the most controversial characters in American history and also learning the life story of that controversial character.

I got this book for free at

$7.69 on Kindle

Related links:

My Life Without God book reviews on



Wednesday, July 10, 2013

European Trip Rome: Day one.

I've spent the last three weeks in Europe.  I've adapted e mails I sent family and friends while there and have added my photos that go along with the trip.  I will be posting a mid week travelogue of my time.  This week is my first day in Rome. 
Hello! Yesterday, super busy!!  After breakfast we went to the church, San Pietro, and saw the Moses. 
 I couldn't tear myself away.  St Peter's chains are also there in view under the altar.  But for me the Moses was tremendous. Michelangelo considered this his most perfect sculpture.  Can you see the muscles and veins, the weight of his beard.....the horns reflect the Glory of God that Moses encountered while on Mount Sinai.  And to think this great work of art is in an unassuming church hidden away in a back neighborhood...we almost couldn't find it...local Italians didn't know what we were looking for.

 Chains of St. Peter

 From there we went near the Colosseum and looked at Roman ruins.  Really just walked around and stepped into whatever historical sight we wanted to look at. 
The ruins are behind this interesting couple.  Do you know how they do it?  I do.
 Went to another Cathedral, had Michelangelo's Risen Christ.  The Cathedral was called Mary of Minerva and has the bones of St. Catherine of Siena under the main altar.
  Of course all these churches are lined with altars up and down on both sides and in the cross sections.  Each altar is enclosed in a separate chapel flanked by loads of paintings and sculptures.  Incredible.  Lisa said she had never been in such a beautiful Cathedral before.
Across the road was the Pantheon.  I think this is where St. Paul addressed people about the unknown God. Never mind, that was in Ephesus.  But it was a pantheon just like this. It is now a church and, even though round, has separate chapels and altars circling it.  The artist Raphael is buried there under one of the altars.
One of Raphael's paintings at the Pantheon
We walked on to the famous fountain de Trevi. 
Incredible.  It's the whole back side of a building. 
This is another famous fountain. I can't remember the name.
What was funny to us is how difficult it was to find any information on anything.  There's no signs or plaques telling you what things are.  I'll have to look a lot of stuff up later.
This is the famous Trevi fountain.
We ate at the Piazza Novana.  Food was great.  Service, meh.  Waiter sarcastically thanked us for our generosity when we gave him a four euro tip.  Everything is very expensive. 
But the Cathedrals and Pantheon were free.  Interesting.

Today we leave for the Vatican.  We may stay the whole day there.  We walked our legs off yesterday.  The good thing is that Derek and I crashed and didn't get up until this morning.  Feel much better.
These photos are all my own.