Hello Friends and Family,

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Maryland, My Maryland

This week finds me in the place of my birth — or at least only one county away — visiting my parents in Salisbury, Maryland. The flight out here was mostly uneventful — albeit an hour late because of the late arrival of our aircraft. The most significant aspect was the new boarding procedure now implemented by Southwest. In case you haven't heard, they still have the A-B-C boarding groups but with the addition of a number on your boarding pass, assigned when you check in (either online or in person). People with numbers A-1 through A-5 board first, A-6 through A-10 second and so on. They have small towers at the gate to allow you to gather with your subgroup.

The only strange thing is that I did my online check-in at the earliest possible time (24 hours in advance) and was assigned A-55. I was curious how so many passengers could have gotten ahead of me in the electronic queue. I talked to others in my subgroup and they had the same story. Well, it seems that Southwest is reserving A-1 to A-15 for any of the rich folks (do any rich people fly on Southwest?) who paid full fare and want to upgrade for special service. For a modest fee (depends on what they paid for their ticket), they can get a drink coupon and one and a half flight credits rather than just one — plus they get to board the plane first. I did not notice any takers (must not have been any rich people on my flight).

The drive from BWI to Salisbury was also uneventful. My parents were still up when I arrived (very unusual for my Mom who generally cannot keep her eyes open after 9:00). They are doing well — especially considering that they are both in their 80s. We visited for a short while before we all retired to bed.

The next day illuminated why so many people love Autumn in temperate climes. My jaw dropped to see the color of the leaves. They are at their peak right now. What incredible timing! There are wordsmiths far better than I who have described the beauty of Autumn color. Therefore, I will let my photos do the talking for me.

Duck DecoyOn Saturday, there was a small event at the Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art. Their website describes themselves as "The most comprehensive collection of wildfowl carving in the world invites you to explore this unique, indigenous North American art form from antique working decoys to internationally acclaimed contemporary sculpture and painting."

The museum has many examples on display of decoys that were made, first by Native Americans, later by settlers, then commercial hunters and most recently by artists. I was initially surprised at the lifelike appearance of the oldest decoys (reconstructions on display) — even more duck-like than later models. But then when you think about the fact that the lives of Native Americans depended on their hunting skills and that they had many years to refine their techniques (before the arrival of the Europeans) — then it makes sense that they were good at it.

The example pictured here is by a contemporary artist and is on sale in their gift shop. These artists are also gifted and able to make lifelike feathers carved out of wood.

Back to the "event", they had a number of other artists displaying and selling their crafts. One of the ladies made these wonderful dolls with clay heads, hands and feet — and fully dressed with such incredible detailing.

HummingbirdAnother artist makes truly lifelike birds — here, a hummingbird. I can almost see it feeding at my hummingbird feeder back in Phoenix.

Quilts Also on display and available for purchase were numerous quilts made by a friend of my mother. She does wonderful work too.

There were many other artists and craft people — stained glass artist, knife maker, wooden pen turner and on and on. Wow — all this and I have only been here three days!

 Life is good.

 B. David