éléphant d’Afrique

This is part of a project to make a vintage look using my photography from my recent trip to Africa.  The little chameleon photo was taken by my daughter.  We had a wonderful photo safari together!

This herd of elephants walked right around our Toyota touring rover. It was quite exciting to say the least.

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Stephanie and Wayne’s Africation 2018

At the Shiduli Lodge, South Africa

I’m halfway across the Atlantic Ocean at 33,000 feet, cruising along at 507 knots (about 581 mph) in the main cabin of an Air France B777 aircraft.  My daughter, Stephanie, and I are returning from a 9 day trip to South Africa where we ventured out on 5 amazing safaris then also made the trip up to Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana to see the worlds largest waterfall, Victoria Falls. Stephanie and I are celebrating her academic achievement of getting her Masters Degree in Education.  Her degree is focused on Teacher Leadership and she’s an excellent leader, indeed. And yes, I’m a very proud father.

This all started about two years ago, after she and her work associate had kicked around the idea of furthering their education, Stephanie was challenged by her school principal to move from the 2nd Grade to a 4th Grade teacher position, which she wasn’t real happy about.  She was a team leader at her grade level and was very well respected in that position. She was comfortable where she was and felt like there may have been some other unspoken motivations to move her into a tougher grade level.  Although she protested at first, she found that the move was actually quite rewarding.

Stephanie is a single mom and has been a full time, experienced teacher now for eighteen years.  She’s divorced and has had many struggles with her ex who is quite unpredictable (that’s as nice as I can put it ). She’s fought to keep possession her house and manages her tight budget very well. Along with that, she has raised a very athletic, healthy 13 year old boy who plays football, basketball and just about any other physical activity you can think of. Somehow, she’s kept her sanity throughout all of this and is still a positive, loving woman.  She’s a real go-getter. But being pushed out of her comfort zone to take on a new teaching position at school and learn that whole new curriculum was not what she was really looking forward to. At any rate, she accepted the position and has found it to be equally rewarding. It’s also had a secondary effect. She decided that she’d like to have a bigger presence in school administration and perhaps some day become an Assistant Principle (who tend to focus on student behavior and discipline) or a Principal (whose focus is policy and administration).

So in the summer of 2016, Stephanie decided to get her Masters Degree and put herself in a position to be promoted.  She enrolled in an on-line computer based Masters program that allowed her to keep teaching and to study from home.  It took two long years including the summer semesters to complete her studies.  She wrote her thesis in March and April and to my surprise and great honor, she asked me to proof it for her!  It was quite a document – more than 20 pages of text, charts, and referenced materials – and I read it all.  As a father, you know that going to school means you’ve got to have a pretty good head on your shoulders but reading this material that was presented by my own daughter, well, I was quite astounded.  This was pretty heady stuff – teacher leadership, motivation, what works and what doesn’t, and the references to back it all up. Again, this was a very proud moment for me – to get to read what my daughter had studied and what she plans to do with it. Then this year, in May 2018, Stephanie graduated, earning her Masters degree.

To celebrate her amazing achievement, I told Stephanie that I’d like to do something special for her and I made her a proposal.  I wanted to lift her up out of her strict, daily routine at home and go somewhere where she’d have to disconnect from her busy life and be immersed in something that would broaden her horizons as well as reward all of her hard work.  I had accumulated enough travel miles to be able to fly us anywhere she chose.  So I asked her where she would like to go or what she’d like to do.  She told me she had never even thought of something like that so she’d need a little time.  Yea! She liked the idea!

After a few days, I called her again to see if she’s come up with any ideas for our trip.  She said she’s been really busy at school and with her son so I said, ‘How about this: You think of 5 places you’d like to go right off the top of your head – ready – GO!”  And she did.  It was the craziest list I’d ever heard. It was:Tahiti, South Africa, Laos, Malta, and something like Borneo.

Not Europe. Not Australia, Not China or Viet Nam.  All of those are pretty hot travel destination these days. Nope.  Those are the ones she chose.  I told her I’d call tomorrow for her final choice.  Overnight, I thought to myself that all of those places require at least 12-14 hours  ( or more) of air travel.  And I always thought that Tahiti would be more of a romantic destination to go with your spouse or fiancé and not necessarily your daughter.  I held my breath and called the next day. She said she had always wanted to go on a safari so therefore she chose South Africa!

I was quite happy but I had to ask, ‘why not someplace like Costa Rica or Guatemala for the jungles, the animals and the much shorter flight time?’  She said, “Dad, I can afford to go to Costa Rica. I can’t afford to got to South Africa” Well, that settles that. It was going to be South Africa!

So, there it was – a safari trip to South Africa.  We got on-line and found several travel packages offered by TravelZoo.com and FriendlyPlanet.com but ended up finding the package we liked and in our budget range at TravelDiscounters.ca.  We chose to add the side trip up to Victoria Falls too which up’d the price a bit but was well worth it.

At the Chobe National Park, Botswana

We did 9 days all together – safaris, Victoria Falls, shopping, relaxing, bird watching and getting to know the wonderful people of Africa.  What was so nice for me was to get to spend all that time with my daughter and let her know just how special she is to me.  It’s very hard to get that kind of quality time with Stephie when she comes home from a busy school day, takes care of her son, drives him to all of his practices and games, does all the house chores, studies and preps for the next school day. But I had her all to myself. It was amazing that even sitting together on the plane or busses, we never got tired of each other.  We didn’t get under each others skin either.  We got along magnificently!

I’ll wrap this up by saying again how very proud I am of my daughter. She’s a very special person and I’m so glad we got to do this -just me and her.

I love you, Stephanie!  Celebrate!!

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Enchanted

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Wobble Drop and Twerk

Strange things happen to me. I don’t know why. It baffles me sometimes too.  Maybe because I don’t discount these things and forget them as nonsense.  Maybe because I try to stay alert for the unusual and interesting things in my life and not zone out or just stumble through life. I want to experience everything that enters my world.  Saturday night, it happened again.

First off, you have to know what The Wobble Dance is.  It’s a popular line dance at almost every dance bar out there – Country Western dance hall, Swing Dance venue and at almost every wedding reception you’ll ever go to.Take a look at this video if you’re not familiar with it but don’t get lost in some video tangent for an hour while you follow the next video and the next video and on and on. Come back and continue reading after you get the drift of the dance I’m talking about:

Ok, so – I was at The Big Texas dance hall Saturday with my new friend Anita. She’s an awesome dancer and we danced all night. Still getting to know each other.  Great dances and loads of fun.  So during the music rotation, the DJ played a few Line Dances and eventually, he played The Wobble.  Anita chose to sit this one out but being the crazy dance fool that I am, I headed out and joined in the crowded dance floor and got my ‘Wobble’ on.  The floor was full of dancers, young and old, short and tall, skilled and not so skilled. It’s all fun. You just watch the people in front of you until you get the steps down, then have fun by adding your own flair as you repeat the steps a thousand times during the song.

So I’d gotten the pattern down, I began adding my own little swagger with some hips and shoulders going and I make my 1/4 turn rotation to end that phrase and begin the next series of wobble moves.  As I make my first bunny-hop forward though, I hear what sounds like a heavy wooden block hitting the wooden dance floor next to me – as if someone had dropped a 4×4 block of wood – solid and heavy with the sound that wood makes when it hits the ground.

I turned to my right quickly to see what had happened and there on the floor next to me was a sexy, gorgeous blond gal in short white shorts and boots, down on her hands and knees twerking away like some stripper who answers to the name ‘Cheyenne’ at the Centerfold strip club down in Houston. I mean, she was sprawled out there on the floor, legs spread wide, her white shorts flipping up and down in her doggy-style position. And, being the honorable man that I am, I took my one look, thanked God for this lovely creature having solo sex on the floor next to me, and went back to grooving on my own very cool wobble dance moves.

She’s young. Very sexy and hot. Blonde. Probably mid 20’s. Cowboy boots. Tiny, white short-shorts. Legs…I mean LEGS!  Those long, tall, Texas legs that girls have down here.  Probably skunk drunk. Most likely trying to impress her new cowboy boyfriend.  Plus she seemed to imply by this improvisational move that she was doing down there on the floor, that she had some advanced degree of knowledge of how the human species can modify the traditional mating ritual and that she could do more than just the unstylistic missionary position in bed.  She could twerk. Cool. She’ll be popular with the guys, I’m sure.

As I make my next 1/4 rotation and begin the next repetition of the wobble with my bunny-hop forward, again I hear that same sound of the heavy block of wood hitting the dance floor and…she’s down again!  Sprawled out and twerking away again!  It’s her cowboy boot’s heels – that’s what is hitting the floor and making that sound. Those wooden heels and -I guess her knees too- that hit the floor and make that heavy knock of wood dropping on wood.

So, again I’m thinking to myself, ‘One look. Thank God for these unexpected blessings in life. Turn and keep dancing’. I’m doing everything right and most likely scoring points with Anita as I’m sure she had seen all of this happening too.  Good boy.  Eyes straight ahead.  Stop looking at the sexy, drunk blonde next to me on the floor twerking away.  Good boy.

So, I return to my Wobble Dance, get my groove going again by adding a few dance footsteps and a little more arms and shoulders. Fun.  Just dancing.  As I was doing these moves, out of the corner of my eye, I see her swing an arm out in my direction and kind of snap a finger and point at me.  I look at her face and she’s giving me a great big smile of approval and then points down to my feet.  She saw that I could dance.  In dance language, gesturing to a body part like your hips or in this case, my feet –  means that the person liked the moves you just did and is encouraging you to add some more, or step it up another notch.  And being the pretty proficient dancer that I am, I answered that call with a little more foot shuffling and some cool chugga-chugga side moves with my hips and shoulders.  Nothing unusual or out of line but you know, just having fun dancing back with her.

In my head, just like in the movies, I’m imagining that at this point, the crowd begins to separate, the spotlight is finding us on the dance floor and this chick is kind of diggin’ on Wayne-o-rama. The smoke machine starts to fill the place with smoke.  Neon blue and fushia colored rays of light shoot above our heads.  She’s mid 20’s and I’m, well ….ok, this is my dream sequence, ok…so I’m thinking that I’m this handsome, middle aged, cool rockin’ daddy, a sexy son of of a gun as well…also in, shall we say, in my late 20’s as well (Shut up! This is my dream sequence!) She’s probably thinking, ‘Hey, this is a pretty cool dude out here dancing next to me’.  And in my brain, all of those crazy hormones begin to cloud my rational thinking and my inner John Travolta is about to come out.  I make my 1/4 turn, add a little more hips and maybe, just maybe, I might have bent down a little and did a quick twerk back at her.  I’m not sure. I may have.  Not saying I did. Not saying I didn’t.  But I might have.

What she’s actually thinking though is probably more along the line of ‘Hey! Paw Paw’s busting’ a move here. He’s got a little game for an old dude. He’s a safe, crusty old bald guy who I can play with and not worry about him trying to grope me like the rest of the cowboys in this meat market. I think I’ll give him a thrill and flirt with him a little bit. Tease him so he’ll go home and hump up on grandma tonight.’  That’s probably more what she was really thinking.

Do you know how you feel when you think you’re dancing really good but you’re drunk and you’re not really dancing all that good but everyone is laughing and watching you so you still think you’re dancing good?  Ever had that happen?  Well, between the two of us, that’s probably what’s happening.  The folks along the railing in the bar were probably watching this thinking to themselves, ‘Oh my Gawd! That drunk girl is embarrassing the shit out of us and that old man is thinking he’s cool enough to hang with it. Oh Gawd! Someone throw some ice water on them and make them go sit down’

But that didn’t happen.

Instead, we made two more rotations of the Wobble  until she got herself pointed at the people on the outside rail again and Plunk!  There she goes again. Down on the floor. She dropped and twerked again! As a matter of fact, every time we rotated around, she dropped and hit the floor each and every time.  Even I have to admit that was a bit odd. Worse still, is that now that we had made visual contact and I had obviously turned her on with my own fabulous dancing skills, she was looking at me to help her up off of the floor this time.  So, I helped her up and the dancing resumed. Fun enough. Life is good. I’m the coolest dude on the dance floor.  I get a blurred camera close up and the movie fades to dark. The End. Roll the credits. But wait….there’s more.

The Wobble song ends and as all good dancers do, you hug each other and tell each other that you have fun.  But in this case, the DJ had put another really good groovin’ country tune on, and she latched onto me in a 2-Step embrace and….now we’re dancing in closed position, my hand around her back, her hand clasping my shoulder…and we’re dancing together!  And she won’t let go! She’s doing her Aggie Shuffle, which no serious dancer would ever do (snobs that we are) and which is virtually impossible to do anything with when you’re trying to do Western Swing with its Tuck Turns and lady’s spins and turns.  Nope, I can’t do ANYTHING with her.  She is strong and she is not letting go of me with either hand.  I can’t break free to swing her out and I can’t reel her in to stabilize her damn shuffle.  Impossible. So, I do what every good male social dancer does – we make the dance fun. My mindset is, I want the lady I’m dancing with to think that was the best dance she’s ever had and it was all because she was such a good dancer that it all went so good.  I want to adapt and quickly learn what I can do to make her feel that way too. It’s part of the game.  We’re out here to have a good time, not to have a dance lesson. So, that’s what I did.  We turned and spun. We urgh tried to do a ugh Tuck Turn but nope, that didn’t work. So we turned and spun and I tried to set her up for a lady’s Outside Turn and urgh …nope, no outside turn. She is glued and frozen in this frame and she will. not. let. go.

One time and one time only, I finally got her to let go and I tucked her under and out for a nice swing move.  Almost lost her.  She wasn’t steady on her feet, rather, on her boots. So I reeled her back in and she clamped on again. Locked on.  This time, she wouldn’t let go to save my life. So, I just smiled and enjoyed dancing her safely in our little space while doing a few nice turns and adding some fancy footwork here and there. And then it was done.  We hugged. Laughed. And walked proudly off the dance floor.

I’m thinking, ‘Uh Huh! That’s how a guy like me dances with a gal like her.  Separated by age and dance abilities, we had a great time and shared what only a dancer can experience when you have one of those amazing, unexpected dances that you’ll remember forever. She  was definitely glad that she got to dance with WayneToTheMax.  She’ll go home and write about me in her journal.  She’ll tell her girlfriends about this cool dude she danced with.  She’ll probably dream about me too.’

But most likely what she’s really thinking is ‘Thank Gawd that old dude didn’t drop me. He wouldn’t let go of me and he couldn’t even do the Aggie Shuffle!  I wonder why my knees are hurting. Where’s my boyfriend?  Where’s my beer? I bet everybody was turned on by my twerk. I wonder if I need to put on some more lip gloss? Why do my knees hurt? I bet all of my girlfriends wish they could have gotten out there and twerked like me.  I wonder if I got any text messages? I wonder who’s posted something on Instagram? What time is it? I gotta pee.’

I walked off of the dance floor and found Anita.  Remember this is just our 2nd date. She just got an ‘eyefull’ of Wayne. She didn’t reject me, though. Maybe she was still stunned by the whole thing.  Anyway, we’ll probably talk about it later.  But just then, the DJ put on another great 2-Step song…and off we went, dancing together for another hour solid.  Just me and Anita. In a tight, warm, safe embrace. Feeling her body pressed softly against mine. Romantically floating around the dance floor.

Without twerking.

 

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Strings No. 4

~~And what if I can’t, what if I can
What if you’re just an ordinary man
And I have been wrong, I have been right
I have been both these things all in the same night
So if I be wrong, if I be right
Let me be here, with you, tonight~~

–Lyrics from the song If I Be Wrong by Wolf Larsen

 

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ESensual Oils For Mature Men

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Gratitudes

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