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Even the Address is Gone

by Nancy McDaniel

I don’t get out to the suburbs very much. Physically, and attitudinally, they are far removed from my current life. I really just go out when it’s time to visit my step-mom every now and then. But I was invited to a bridal shower, at a golf club “out there.” (Turnabout is fair play, I guess. I used to make fun of suburban friends who thought the city was just “too far to drive.” Have I become a reverse version of them now?)

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A Trio of Peaceful Pachyderms

by Nancy McDaniel

The first thing you notice about him is, of course, his immense size. But then you see his eyes: lovely, kind and liquid. His name is Jabulani, which is Zulu for “Happiness.” He is an adolescent male elephant, whom I met and fell in love with in Botswana.

An Elephant in My Former Life?
I have often said that I believe I either was an elephant in a former life or will be one in my next. I am hopelessly attracted to them. They are intelligent animals, with a strong and complex social and family structure. When left undisturbed, at their best they embody many of the characteristics I most admire in humans: loyalty, sensitivity and gentleness. I personally believe they have a sense of humor as well.

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But It’s Just a House…

by Nancy McDaniel

It wasn’t something I planned to do. I just happened to go to a board meeting in a new (to me) and magical neighborhood. I saw the house with a For Sale sign and that’s how it all started. My life was turned upside-down and became a “looking-at-a-new-house episode” of the past three weeks. It was an emotionally turbulent and extremely thought-provoking time for me.

“I Will Never Sell My House. Not EVER”
Despite what some people think (and I might wish), I am not a person who embraces change easily. I worked at the same company for over 28 years, have lived in the same house for over 26 years and stayed married to the same (wrong) man for nearly 10 years (well, so I figured that one out sooner. Maybe I just liked the job and house more. In fact, I once took a six-month leave of absence from my job because I was very stressed out. Finally I realized, when the time off wasn’t making me feel any better, that it wasn’t the job that was stressing me out; it was my marriage. Duh!)

My ex and I bought a house in an up-and-coming neighborhood (it wasn’t even listed as a “fixer upper;” it was already “fixed up”… sort of) in 1975. There was still some gang activity in the area, mostly just graffiti (oh, and the shooting at Uncle Frank’s, the hot dog stand a couple of blocks away. But they had THE best hot dogs and Polish sausage, so we went anyway, but just during the day).

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Beach Musings

by Nancy McDaniel

Back on the beautiful beach on Florida’s Gulf Coast, I walked. And thought. And thought. And walked some more. It’s quite lovely here and I am bored out of my mind. The city girl in me rebels against resort-ism. The wilderness girl in me rebels against the over-the-top trappings of extreme affluenza. So, as usual, my mind raced and raised questions I hadn’t thought about in a long time. If ever.

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Alone but Not Lonely

by Nancy McDaniel

Gabriel Garcia Marquez wrote of “the restorative idleness of solitude” in his excruciatingly beautiful novel, Love in the Time of Cholera. I was profoundly struck by the poignancy of those words. How beautifully, if incongruously, they flowed. However, it was more personally important to me, how apt they were in describing a certain phase of my life.

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Meeting Dr. Ian Player

by Nancy McDaniel

How many of us are fortunate enough in our lives to meet someone who has been a true hero of ours? Not a known hero such as a parent who selflessly raised us safely and successfully. Not an unknown but “everyday” hero such as a firefighter who risks his or her life everyday to protect us, but a larger-than-life hero whose books are twinkling stars of words that light up the pages and whose accomplishments in the natural world make life better for all of us. Even for those of us who don’t even realize it.

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Angels in Fur

by Nancy McDaniel

An important thing to know about me is that, as a child growing up in the suburbs, I was a “dog person.” And nearly everyone I knew was also a dog person. “Cat people” were different; I didn’t play with them (neither the people nor their cats). Actually, I thought I hated cats. That seemed to be the politically correct opinion to hold in my homogeneous, affluent suburb. It may well have even been a question on the mortgage applications for houses in 60’s Hinsdale:

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