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Several years ago I wrote a book of essays, A Smidgen of Irish Luck, about my trip to Ireland simply because I found extraordinary where there is ordinary, engaged in conversations in the oddest places and adjusted to the inevitable raindrops like a local.

Should I be surprised that a visit to the Emerald Isle would be so meaningful?

The book took off in popularity as everyone has a bit of Irish in them and can relate to a first-timer's passionate feeling for a sense of place.

I claim no Irish roots; yet I was inspired by the music, literature and general feelings of loving life I received as a visitor.

One about-to rain - afternoon a group of my fellow travelers and I were sauntering down a Londonderry side street taking in the multitude of sights when a cheerful couple of younger men beckoned us to come inside for a pint. They talked us to pieces with stories about the history of the pub and how it was a regular stop-off for American WW II naval men when they were ashore. The walls were covered from top to bottom with memorabilia from the States. "Go, Bruins." Two hours later we were leaving old friends behind after a delightful chat. We dodged the daily pouring of rain, too.

That's the story repeated over and over of my entire three weeks in Ireland.

It's a country that I long to return for deepening my well mentally and spiritually.

#Irishluck #Ireland #Cliffsofmohr #internationaltravel #smidgenofirishluck #Londonderry #Northernireland

The Cliffs of Mohr on a foggy Sunday morning

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Updated: Jan 25, 2019

Stop in to the Twig and Hollow Gallery, 65-67 Shethar Street, Hammondsport, New York, (Keuka Lake) to have a look around. It's a new fixture in town with a fresh, upscale look to it.

The owner - he refers to himself as the "Director of Operations" - is John Carroll, himself an accomplished photographer.

Currently on display ( January 18- March 31, 2019) are 37 portrait studies ( acrylic on board 20x24) by Sonia Gutowski while she was a patient at the Rochester Psychiatric Center ( now defunct). Carroll calls it "The 1st Annual Cabin Fever Show."

Twig and Hollow will be a participant in the Hammondsport Winter Stroll, Saturday, February 23, 5-8 pm, Keuka Lake Vineyards pouring.

Pictured below are powerful images from Twig and Hollow Gallery's first show of Ukranian photography in the fall.

#Hammondsport #Keukalake #FingerLakes #Newyorkstate #photography #Twigandhollowgallery #johncarroll #winterstrollhammondsport #keukalakevineyard

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If I hadn't witnessed the baboon trying to unzip the bottom of my tent in broad daylight, I wouldn't have believed the warnings from my guide about their shenanigans.

Baboons are notorious for sneaking in unlocked doors and through unsecured tent flaps to steal food and carry away underwear left out of a duffel.

I yelled, "Hey, stop it." It fell on deaf ears. My afternoon nap was over.

Little good did that do, for the baboon and his partners in crime came back in full force that nighttime howling in the trees making sleep relatively impossible. Boy, they were a noisy bunch and worse than the commotion from firecrackers going off in a residential street.

Often what eludes you finds you in the end.

Camping in the Okavango Delta region on flat ground with its broad vista where herds of zebras or elephants would pass by in the distance to enhance the scenery was an ideal ending to that portion of my trip to Africa.

As much as I went to Africa to view the animal and bird life, I became intrigued with the incredible sunsets basking everything in globs of golden glitter.

On the last day of safari, our guide, Oris decided we would try one more time to find the nearby leopard just before heading to the grass strip runway for our flight out of the bush in a single-engine plane.

We found the leopard rather easily, and he was awesome when he turned full-face to look back at us. Of all the animals on safari, the leopard was the most elegant and stylish in his movements in my opinion. Perhaps it is because I am a cat lover and I observed identical behaviors to his little cousin at home in America.

By then, I had had so many experiences with animals right near me that I had no trepidation and took photographs of the leopard as fast as I could get him from my vantage point.

That would have been enough excitement if we hadn't punctured a tire on the way pushing back out of the brambles and thorny bushes.

Oris saved the day with his quick tire-changing skill - the six of us stood on the side and posted guard duty, although I would suspect the animals kept their distance out of respect.

Once underway again, our truck raced along the side of the runway with a cloud of dust flying up covering us from head to foot as our plane came in for a landing with a new set of campers.

There were a lot of cheers and clapping for Oris when we hopped out and collected our duffels. We made it with no time to spare. Well, we didn’t have a bustling terminal to get through, annoying TSA security checks or tedious gate lines.

“I suppose you do that grand finale for every group that comes to camp,” I quipped trying to say something clever.

Oris looked at me and smiled with sweat pouring down his face.

Humor is best even in this situation.

Minutes later I was up in the sky looking down at the broad flat expanse of African land. I checked my watch and it was only 9 o’clock in the morning. #Africa #safari #tentedcamp #internationaltravel

Observing a leopard in his natural habitat

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