We left our home in México city at 6am on April 11 along with our house guests and said our good byes at the airport as we were traveling on different airlines.  We arrived home in Melrose 14 hours later where the only living soul to greet us was Gerry, Jackson’s class pet mouse that he was caring for over the school’s spring break.  We were in bed before anyone else arrived home.

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This sign welcomed us to our daughter’s home in Melrose.

The first weekend was taken up with what Sandy refers to as “Marathon Madness Weekend”, running the BAA 5K at 8am then immediately walking up to Boston City Hall where we spend several hours stuffing goody bags for the runners in the bowels of the building.  This is Sandy’s 12th year volunteering and Jim’s 2nd.  BAA refers to the Boston Athletic Association which runs the Boston marathon and a few other races.

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It is always great returning home to Boston for marathon weekend.

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Boston Marathon finish line is now lighted!
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Saturday morning BAA 5K with friends.
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Boston Marathon finishing line but not the end of the 5K.
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A traditional after race picture on the steps of our Boston home.
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Volunteering for the BAA.  Stuffing goody bags to be given away at the pre-marathon pasta dinner in City Hall.
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Lunch break for the volunteers.  They give us the pasta dinner menu and BAA volunteer jackets.
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Ran into Rebecca and Adam while on lunch break.
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Preparing for a Sunday morning commemorative run along the Charles with the “sole sisters”.
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They were running so fast that the camera couldn’t capture them.

They don’t look so fast in that video though, do they?

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Marathon Monday did not start so well.  A 3am waterfall into our bedroom from the unit above.
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Water pouring “like a hose” according to our tenants through three lights like this in the ceiling.
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A few hours later we had heaters, dehumidifiers and fans going 24/7 for literally 7 days.

Marathon Monday, April 15 Jim was awakened at 3:30am by a phone call from our tenants informing us of the above mentioned flooding.  He gave them instructions to turn the water off to the building and headed into town to deal with the mess.  He found that a plumber had removed a radiator in the unit above us and had not capped off the steam pipes thus causing damage to the floor of the second floor and the bay window area of our bedroom.  The floor was salvaged with the equipment above but the ceiling, window treatments and the wall beyond the windows above were soaked and had to be removed necessitating new wallpaper for the whole large room, new window treatments, totally new room decor and displacing our tenants from the bedroom for the duration of the renovations which are still ongoing.  All of this has caused severe stress in our otherwise peaceful lives.

Melissa rocking the Marathon in her Colorado shirt
Melissa Conlon looking good at 15 miles.  Her mother was with Sandy.

While Jim was dealing with the flood Sandy went out on the Boston Marathon course with a whole bunch of friends to follow, support and cheer for those that we knew who were running.  We then both met up at our annual post marathon party.

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Our good friend Rick Jacques after running his 24th consecutive Boston Marathon.  Our annual Marathon party was once again hosted by our close friends Donna and Tom Quirk.
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Our “perfect stranger” friend Melissa Conlon who ran her fourth Boston and Brian Gerhardson who has run innumerable prior Boston’s but did not run this year.
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The traditional cake cutting by the days finishers.

Three days after the marathon we flew to Asheville North Carolina to spend a week with Bob and Gail MacAlpine and visit son Geoffrey and family who live in Marshall NC.

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First stop after arriving in Asheville was the Sierra Nevada Brewery for lunch.  Sierra Nevada has breweries in Chico & Berkeley California.  Asheville was their east coast choice for their third Brewery.  Asheville boasts the most breweries per capita of any US city.
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We had a great lunch and very tasty beers.

On Friday we spent most of the day with Geoffrey, Sofi, Bhavanii, Freya and our youngest grand child Gaorii Gertrude Wallin-Steen at their home in Marshall.  Since it was Easter weekend Sandy came prepared with eggs, dye and treats for the girls.

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Grampy meeting our newest grandchild Gaorii for the second time while her older sister Freya looks on.  We first met Gaorii in January at less than one month old.
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Sandy prepared an Easter egg hunt and egg dying for Bhavanii and Freya.
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Freya with her cache of Easter egg finds.
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Bhavanii playing the violin we got her for Christmas.
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Egg remnants after dying and peeling.
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Gaorii is such a happy and contented baby, always smiling and interacting, especially with Grampy.

Friday evening the Steen family patriarch, Claude, had organized a family reunion with all four Steen brothers at a local restaurant. Thank you Claude & Donna

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A Steen family reunion, all four brothers: left to right around the table, Geoffrey, Freya, Sofi, Gaorii, brother David, Jim, Phyllis, brother Philip, Jonathon(Claude’s son), Claude, Donna, Sandy, Lynn(David’s wife) Andrew(Claude’s grandson) and Bhavanii.
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Bhavanii climbing a tree in the rain after our dinner.

While in Charlotte NC, en route to Asheville, we received a text from our friend Madeleine Leone that they were headed to Asheville exploring possible places to live.  We had some free time on Saturday to meet them at their hotel for lunch.

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Madeleine & Don Leone who lived above us in Boston for a few years.  We have met up with them in Florence & Rome.
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Saturday night we hung out with two of our favorite people, David and Jill Merrill.  Jill is Bob and Gail’s daughter.
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We attended their wedding, August 21 2004 and became close friends while they attended Dental School at Tufts over the next three years.
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Jill, David, Evelyn & Mitch.  They treated all of their families and us to an Easter brunch at The Country Club of Asheville.

After brunch we met Geoff and family at a local park for some play time and had a Méxican dinner with them.

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Freya playing with Grammy and a new friend in the sand box.

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Grammy with three of our six granddaughter’s.

Monday we drove to Geoffrey & Sofi’s home again which is in rural Madison County located within the township of Marshall.  Geoffrey built his home there about 10 years ago and has since added two small lofted bungalows which he rents out on Airbnb.  He has planted his one acre of land extensively with fruit trees, berry bushes and ornamental trees.  His specialty is agriculture but he is quite handy with doing almost anything.  He also puts on classes and seminars in areas which he has expertise.

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Sofi & Geoffrey’s acre of paradise with an outhouse for Airbnb guests, the small building on the right, and their main house in the center mostly built by Geoffrey.
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Freya is right at home in this rugged agricultural land.
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Beautiful downtown Marshall and the Madison County Courthouse.
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Two little gnomes.

On Tuesday we took a hike in the Cherokee National Forest at Flags Pond which is just over the state line into Tennessee.  We hiked with brother Philip and his wife Phyllis and brother David and wife Lynn.  We ended up in the wild flower filled woods below with a great picnic lunch provided by Phyllis.  The forest floor was in full Spring bloom mode and as always we learned a lot about the plant life from David, the biologist.IMG_8106IMG_2128IMG_8138

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A butterfly who was so swollen with eggs she was unable to fly.

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David in full teaching mode, as always.
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Jim’s younger brother Philip.

Our last full day in Asheville we took a drive to Kennesaw Georgia, which is just outside of Atlanta, to visit our good friend Lyle Herrmann and his wife Teresa.  Lyle was Jim’s roommate in college and has been very good at staying in touch with all of us.  Bob and Jim’s childhood neighbor Kathleen Smart also accompanied us on the 3 ½ hour drive.  We all enjoyed the visit and felt that it was well worth the drive.

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Lyle & Teresa.
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Teresa prepared us a great lunch.

On our return to Boston we had a Friday night party as we had Jennifer’s home to ourselves.  We invited friends that we had worked with 20 years ago at Boston Regional Medical Center before it closed in 1999.

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Sandra Rowe, Lynette Alameddine, Jan D’entremont, Sandy & Brenda Walsh, all nurses.
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Jim and Jo Twichell, a retired surgeon and good friend.
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We are ready for some warm weather.  Jim working on the blog at home in Melrose, note the blanket and jacket.

We are moving on, returning to New York City on May 1.

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A few more grandchildren pictures.

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This is how a little girl grows up tough, being manhandled by her older sisters.

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