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By the Numbers: Blog Posts and Newspaper Columns

By the Numbers: Blog Posts and Newspaper Columns

This is my 500th blog post. It took me six years to get here, about 83 posts a year. It was not a race at all, just stating facts.

But for a gal who has written over 1600 newspaper columns over the course of about 32 years, that is a good deal more than the 52 columns per year I averaged writing for Another Way. I wrote just about all of those 1600 columns, (only using guest writers maybe 40 or 50 times) for vacation or just because I think readers enjoy hearing other voices from time to time. For some of those writers, it was their first time being published, and I liked that.

For most of 2018, I shared only the newspaper columns on my Finding Harmony Bog, not posts written specifically for the blog. How do those differ?

When I’m writing a newspaper column, I try to keep in mind the wide audience of a typical daily or weekly newspaper: usually a range of political persuasions, and an array of religious bents from nothing and agnostic to deeply Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, and Evangelical. I suspect there are Muslim and Hindu or Buddhist readers but I don’t hear from these very often. I usually try to include some faith aspect but not always—and always strive to contain a solid takeaway or thought to carry with you. I want readers to feel like it is worth their time to engage.

But the main difference between what I share on the blog and in the several papers (4) which Another Way is still in, is recipes. My column is not a cooking column. So on the blog, especially from 2013-2017 or so, I shared over 113 recipes—every week for a short while! And while I enjoy cooking and trying new recipes and photographing them, that takes time and effort and expense—investing in new spices or sauces or various flours (such as for gluten free items for my grandson with Celiac). I would say what draws new people to the blog are recipes: they go searching for recipes online and stumble across my site; what draws people to Another Way is its more inspirational focus.

Over the years, the most popular blog posts are either recipes or those with compelling titles. Of these five most popular titles over the years, four contain a recipe.

Another frequently viewed recipe, especially in summer: Midget Sweet Pickles: Pure Paradise in a Pickle.

Looking ahead. Like many other bloggers, I also blog to attract an audience especially for any future books that I may still write. They used to say writing a book is one half inspiration and one half perspiration. But successfully publishing a book these days is almost 100 percent platform or marketing: how many readers do you have, how many can you draw, how many reviews can you get on Amazon within the first couple months of publishing. Does the cover and title grab people either online or in the store? Can you attract big name endorsers or a worthy foreword writer? How many “influencers” do you have—that will share info about your book online—in social media to their friends and so on. So not only do you need to write beautifully, correctly, movingly—but you must market diligently, intelligently, and perfectly—if you want to make money or at least pay for your efforts.

Knowing all this, I intend to forge ahead writing a memoir with stories from working for the Mennonite church in its communication efforts for the general public for the last 40 some years. Most of my years in that work has been in outreach media—radio broadcasts, TV documentaries, radio spots, and print efforts—not internal church communication. Who would buy or read a book like that? I’m not sure, but I know that storytelling, done well, is what I will aim for.

So, I also hope to continue writing the Another Way newspaper column for as long as newspapers pay me for it, and work on this memoir thing.

I invite your feedback and comments on any of the above! Thanks for reading and please respond to the poll.



Before the Parade Passes By

Another Way for week of February 1, 2019 – Before the Parade Passes By

The Playbill when I saw Carol Channing on Broadway.

Playbill for Broadway High School, Va.’s production of the beloved musical.

The news that Carol Channing died last month brought to my mind seeing her wonderful performance in “Hello Dolly” which I enjoyed with several colleagues in New York City around 1979 or 80.

When she came down a sweeping stairway onto the stage, she not only owned the stage, but the whole theater, captured by her charisma, charm and beauty. Doing some math, I figured out that she was the same age then that I am now. I was born 30 years after her. At 5 foot 9 inches tall and with spikey heels, no wonder her presence and name, enthralled us all. A 67-year-old woman (when I saw Channing) captivating a crowd—night after night and year after year—is pretty amazing. She reprised her role in the 1990s for a final run on Broadway.

I fell further in love with “Hello Dolly” as a musical when my oldest daughter was in the primary company of dancers for our local high school’s production of the long running Dolly. Our middle daughter also played flute for long evenings of rehearsal and production. Their high school, fittingly named Broadway, was among the first in our area to put on stellar quality productions that rivaled the real Broadway in many ways: set, programs, costumes, acting and singing.

I was just as mesmerized with my daughters and their friends for the opportunity they had to participate in such a fun and beautiful production. For all the years of their high school experiences, we looked forward to musical weekend as if we were heading to the real “42nd Street.” I must also add that the town and high school were not named for New York City’s Broadway theater reputation, but its own long ago past as a slightly rowdy town, i.e., the “broad” or easy way of life that leads to destruction.

The storyline of the musical concerns one Dolly Gallagher Levi who is a widow, a strong willed and opinionated matchmaker still mourning the loss of her beloved husband. She is hired to find a mate for one wealthy Horace Vandergelder (don’t you love these names) and travels to nearby Yonkers, New York to meet the eligible bachelor. In the process of many plot turns and surprises, she falls in love with him herself and decides she needs to get on with her life, “before the parade passes by” as she sings in one song. “I’ve gotta get in step while there’s still time left. … I wanna feel my heart come alive again …” All the while, she looks for a “sign” from her departed husband, Ephram, that this will be okay with him.

Meanwhile, in real life, the same week Carol Channing died, a 40-something young widow friend shared on Facebook, that to her amazement she was feeling ready to get married again, something she never, ever thought she would do. Her departed husband, Russ, a former close colleague of mine, totally felt she would eventually do just that. They discussed this as a couple while his battle with cancer appeared to be nearing an end. To his everlasting credit, Russ himself laid the groundwork for Kendra to be able to move on.

Now she and a new soulmate are preparing to marry and in anticipation of that, she and her children are moving to a different house. Her first husband’s parents and her own parents came to clean out Russ’s shop in the garage, which I’m sure brought back many memories for all of them. But I know this new couple feel God’s hand in this love they’ve found for each other, after both lost their mates to illness.

Let your hearts come alive again, friends. That thought can apply of course to many situations: those making a fresh start at a new school, job, community, church, or retirement facility. It can also apply to new goals and aspirations: taking up a new hobby, pastime, or friendship—or reviving an old one that you seldom take time for anymore. Take time—before the parade passes you by.


Did you or your children participate in musicals or other theater memories? I’d love to hear your highlights and stories here.


How are you feeling the need to “join the parade” — or not! Comments also welcome on this theme.


For a free booklet, “Walking Through Grief and Loss,” send your request to or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at a week after newspaper publication.  









The Life of an Amish Boy, 1945 (part 2) – guest columnist Merle Headings

Another Way for week of January 25, 2019

The Life of an Amish Boy, 1945 (part 2)

Guest column by Merle Headings

Editor’s Note: This is part 2 of a guest column by Merle Headings, a long-ago friend of columnist Melodie Davis, whose family went to her church when she lived in north Florida. Last week he wrote (dictated to Deven Eileen Lewis) about a month his family spent in Sarasota as a boy, and this week about his normal life in Amish country of Ohio.

When we got back from Florida, it was time for my younger brother Chester and I to go back to school. Surely leaving Florida was the worst idea my family ever had.

School did not go well for me. I had missed a lot of school and got behind in my work, plus I made it worse by not doing my work right to begin with. My third grade teacher, Miss Greaser at Canaan School, had us doing some coloring and I did not take the time to be neat. Miss Greaser asked me, “Is this the way they did it in Florida?” I looked up at her stubbornly and said, “Yes.” Boy was that the wrong answer!

School wasn’t the only thing I had to come back to after my tropical paradise. I was milking cows again both morning and evening in the bitter cold. I can still remember laying my head against the warm cows as I milked in that freezing cold barn.

That spring, Mom and Dad started talking about moving from our farm in Plain City, and we would no longer have cows to milk. Dad found farm land for rent on the south edge of Columbus, and an old gas station no longer in use. Dad told us that we were going to fix up the gas station and live in it. This was outside the Amish/Mennonite area and it meant traveling 18 miles every Sunday to the Beachy Amish Church.

Dad fixed up the gas station which consisted of one bedroom that, to my nine-year-old eyes, did not look like much. Dad told us he would build us boys a nice bedroom. Well, that nice bedroom turned out to be a 10 by 20 foot chicken house that he built on wooden skids so that later he could move it to use as an actual chicken house. He pulled it up to the station’s back door. That was our new bedroom with no insulation and no heat. We woke up some mornings to find snow had blown through the cracks and settled on our beds.

For two winters, we all slept in that that cold bedroom and according to Mom, no one ever got the flu or even a cold. They slept at one end of the chicken coop and Chester and I slept at the other end, with three-year-old Elton in the middle to stay warm.

Chester and I were happy since we no longer had chores to do mornings and evenings. Our happiness, however, was tempered with a fair amount of anxiety since we had to go to a new school. That first day of school as Chester and I walked just 1000 feet to the school building, the increasing feeling of dread that came over me with every step became almost palpable by the time we reached the entrance. I had never excelled at my old school. I had myself in such a state that morning that it was a wonder that I made it to school at all.

Merle and his eventual wife, Verna.

But my anxiety quickly transformed into excitement! It turned out that my old school back in Plain City was far more advanced than this new school. It wasn’t long until I was number one in my class. This gave me a sense of pride and accomplishment that I never felt before. It lit a fire under me and I stayed number one for the entirety of my days at that school.

We did help drive the tractor in the fields my Dad farmed. It just so happened that this field bordered my school and one day after school my teacher, Mrs. Bishop, saw me driving the tractor. Well, this chance encounter could’ve gone a couple of different ways, but Mrs. Bishop said, “Is there anything you can’t do?” Those six little words lifted me up and I’ve never forgotten them!


What a great reminder of how much a few words of praise can mean to a child–or anyone!

Try it!


What are your memories of praise from a teacher?

Comment, here, or send stories to me at or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at a week after newspaper publication.  

Amish Boy’s First Trip to Florida, 1944

Another Way for week of January 18, 2019

Amish Boy’s First Trip to Florida, 1944

Guest column by Merle Headings

Columnist’s note: Many northern Amish spend the holidays or coldest months of a northern winter in the south. My friend Merle Headings (no longer Amish) remembers how excited he and his family were to make their first trip. This is the first of a 2-part guest column as told by Merle to Deven Eileen Lewis.

Photo taken the same year as the trip to Florida. Thanks to Merle Headings for this precious photo.

It was 1944 and I was nine years old. My family and I lived in an Amish community in Plain City, Ohio. My parents, Abe and Orpha Headings, were farmers who had three boys; me, Merle, nine; Chester, seven; and Elton, three.

We had five churches in our community. Three were horse and buggy Amish, one was Mennonite, and our church was Beachy Amish. Preaching and singing during church was in High German, which meant I understood very little. Our church was like horse and buggy Amish churches except we were allowed to have cars, (as long as they were painted black) and we used electricity. I remember when Dad bought a 1939 green Dodge and the bishop gave Dad two weeks to get the car painted black.

At home I got up early every morning before school and headed to the barn to milk cows, and then again every evening after school. That was my life until my parents began to grow restless. Some of the Amish within our community were beginning to travel to a small town in Florida called Sarasota. I was ecstatic when my parents announced that we were going to Sarasota for a month.

There were plenty of obstacles: we were in the middle of World War II, and all gasoline was rationed. You had to have government stamps in order to buy gas. Second, you were not supposed to go out of state in your car, so we couldn’t drive our car to Sarasota.

This did not deter Dad. He soon found we could travel by train, which we could get 100 miles away in Cincinnati, Ohio. My mother’s brother agreed to do our chores and even drove us to Cincinnati in our “black” two-door car.

We boarded the train while it was still dark. The train was noticeably warmer than our black Dodge. My eyes first fell on the seats, which were covered in red velvet with a delicate design etched into the fabric. I ran my fingers softly across the top of the chairs. The windows were big and we could soak up all there was to see.

There was no sleeping that first day on the train, except for my little brother Elton. We were simply too excited and looking forward to warmer weather in the south. With our eyes glued to beautiful mountain scenery, we quickly found that when the train went around a curve, we could see the steam engine ahead and smoke. Traveling through Georgia, we saw shack houses with smoke billowing out of chimneys, and began to smell the pine trees! We had never smelled anything so fresh and clean.

We arrived in Sarasota late in the evening, the final leg traveled by bus. We didn’t really know anyone. The first time we went to the beach, I was amazed when I saw the pristine white sand, and looked out over the water that had seemingly no end in sight. There were oranges and grapefruit aplenty that you could buy with very little money! Back in Ohio, they cost too much and were nothing compared to the oranges that we picked right off the trees.

During our stay in Florida we ate a lot of oranges and went to the beach as often as we could. Back then Sarasota was not very big, with only two traffic lights compared to the hundreds today. So when we weren’t lazing about on the sand or cooling off in the water, we were having a grand time driving from Sarasota to the muck farms east of town. Once there, we bought the best celery and other veggies.

I was so happy to be in Florida where there seemed enough sunshine to warm up the whole of Ohio. [More from Merle to be continued next week.]

My mother, Bertha, holding me as an infant, probably on a Sunday dressed up for church. My Dad, Vernon plus big sisters Linda (Pert) and Nancy, l to r. My little brother, Terry, was born four years later and lives in north Florida.


One reason I (Melodie) loved Merle’s description of their trip to Florida in 1944 is that my own parents followed the trend among certain Mennonites and Amish and went to Sarasota for their honeymoon in January of 1946. Five years later, I was born there when they spent six months back in their beloved paradise.


The interest in starting Mennonite communities and churches in the southeast continued for many years, and is described in Roots & Branches: A Narrative History of the Amish and Mennonites in Southeast U.S. 1892-1992 by Martin W. Lehman, Cascadia Press.


Any early trips you recall as a child? Send to me at or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at a week after newspaper publication.  

Cultivating Conversations: Spread Sweetness

Another Way for week of January 11, 2019

Cultivating Conversations: Spread Sweetness

We didn’t have any children or grandchildren home the weekend before Christmas, none on Christmas Eve, none on Christmas Day. They came later in the week, including the weekend of Dec. 27-30. When children are grown and live a distance and have families and activities of their own, that is how life goes.

While we had plans for Christmas Eve and Christmas afternoon with friends and relatives, I thought it would perhaps be a good time to seek out others who were finding themselves alone over the holidays, rather than sit home and pity ourselves. So we spent several hours over three days visiting older friends who don’t get many visits.

Richard and Jean Hogshead.

We had conversations I will cherish. Jean, from our church, lost her husband Richard five years ago. He had been a great source of information for my husband as they worked on various projects around church. When our children were just toddlers and Richard was already in his 70s, he climbed up on our house to help put on a new roof. Jean had some thoughtful questions about how things were going at church; she is not able to attend much anymore, instead attending services at the retirement home where she lives in an independent apartment.

We chatted with Margaret—her son was my husband’s best friend and best man at our wedding. Sadly, he died suddenly a number of years ago. We also reminisced about her husband who died five years ago, just a week before Christmas. She talked about how the first day he was in the hospital from a heart attack, she held Elwood’s hand and asked him to squeeze it if he knew she was there. He did, and just that small—and only—communication is treasured by Margaret. So she has had a rough and painful time, but has a positive spirit as she gets together with other friends, relatives, and a granddaughter.

Bolling is another friend in his mid-90s from church. He never had any children. So his visitors are few and far between—a niece lives a state or two away and comes to see him when she can. So after his Christmas dinner at the lovely family-type dining room in his care facility, we popped in. He still has a good mind and enjoys reading, although he is slowing down. He loves to visit and also asks about various folks at church. We told him Jean wanted to talk with him sometime so we hope to make that happen in the near future.

Martha and my mother, right, enjoying a laugh at the wedding reception for our daughter Tanya.

Then we visited Martha, our friend for the last twenty years. We met through our daughter and her granddaughter. When our daughter was in marching band in college, we loved sitting with Martha and her family in the stands at football games, and sharing parties afterwards. Martha was an LPN who cared for elderly patients in her home for many years. When her husband could no longer take care of Martha at home, she had to go to a nursing home. He was faithfully by her side every chance he got until he succumbed to various ailments last February. My husband always enjoyed visiting with him—they’re both great talkers—so now I usually stop by to see Martha alone when I’m out running errands. In this visit, when Stuart took hold of Martha’s hand to say hello, she grabbed onto it and didn’t let go. Even though she doesn’t open her eyes anymore and can only make a few sounds in response to questions, I know she knew she was holding Stuart’s hand. So our conversation with her was chiefly hand-holding, talking to her son, and hugs.

Holding hands and offering hugs are perhaps the best medicine we can offer. Even when these gestures don’t bring health, touch brings a lift to the spirit and sweetness to the mind and heart.

Again I will ask the question I have asked before in this space: who would enjoy your visit, phone call, text, or card? We may also be in these shoes someday. That is how life goes.


Who is special to you? Do they know it? 


Bonnie Annis writes: “Most of us crave love and acceptance. What better way to communicate that than by reaching out and touching someone?”

Do you agree or disagree?

Comment here or write to or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at a week after newspaper publication.  

Starting the New Year Well

Another Way for week of January 4, 2019

Starting the New Year Well

Do any of your goals for the New Year include drawing closer to God, or deepening your walk of discipleship?

Perhaps “disciple” isn’t in your active vocabulary of how you think of or describe your faith life. The early disciples who followed Jesus were kind of like students of a favorite professor or of a certain school of philosophy. Our learning should be lifelong, including actively following the teachings of Jesus.

Two books have helped me ponder these ideas, and look freshly at desires for my own life. One book is not published yet but that I had the opportunity to edit, called By The Way: Getting Serious about Following Jesus. The author’s name is Derek Vreeland, and while he has self-published a number of books, this is his first book by a regular trade book publisher which means getting the book out more widely.

The book is designed to help new believers or young people joining a church to be grounded in some basics—including things (as I told the author) that I have kind of forgotten or left by the wayside, even though I’ve gone to church faithfully all my life (well, there was that year or two in college where I wasn’t so faithful, like many others).

But even today, I tend to let good habits slide: reading the Bible, praying authentically, serving others, living what I believe.

One of my faith habits of the last several years has been participating in a very small group with “Morning prayers” at the office, begun by my former boss and supported fervently by my current one. So it’s not “time off” or letting our work slide, but it has become an important part of our work praying for other staff members, our board, authors, people who do contract work for us (editors and proofeaders), readers, and website visitors. It is also a chance to breathe deeply and focus on being in the presence of God. We use a book called Take Our Moments and Our Days compiled a number of years ago; it is patterned like an Anglican prayer book which gives you readings for every day and then steps you through various prayers.

I picked up a memoir that has helped me appreciate this prayer book and this practice even more, titled The Close: A Young Woman’s First Year at Seminary. It is written by Chloe Breyer, who went to a small Episcopal seminary in New York City known as General Theological Seminary. The word Close in her title referred to a part of campus that was like a cloister, a garden-y space in the city set aside for reflection and prayer.

Being Episcopal, the seminarians were expected to participate in prayer meetings at least five times a day: morning and evening prayer in a chapel with others, and then various prayers and sometimes communion or Eucharist, depending on the day of the week. She struggled at first with trying to keep track of the hymnal and multiple other books in the pew rack, as many as six. Finding the collects and readings and recitations and songs was at first distracting from actual prayer, but she wrote, “As my historical understanding [of Christianity] grows, I feel the power of a prayer spoken by centuries of Christian worshippers. Although I still doubt that God would find a lovely hymn more pleasing than an act of charity, more often now, I leave evening prayer feeling refreshed” (p. 107, Basic Books, Perseus Books Group, NY, 2000).

Her comment compares to my own experience with written prayers passed down through centuries, at first having almost zero appreciation and wondering how any could appreciate prayers that can become mere ritual or rote and not thought about at all. I grew up with spontaneous—always unwritten prayers.

Wherever you find yourself on this spectrum of prayer, know that God is as close as our most intimate, hidden thoughts and needs. God wants us to draw closer, however we experience both the Maker of the universe, and our soul friend who knows us better than we do ourselves. May it be so in the coming year.


I’d love to hear your thoughts, experiences of faith, and stories. Or what you’re reading in the new year! Comment here.
Books I mention: the first two are available now and the last one is available for preorder, publishing in June 2019.

Take Our Moments and Our Days

Take Our Moments and Our Days: Prayerbook

The Close (a memoir)

By The Way

Or contact me at or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at a week after newspaper publication.  



Looking Towards Retirement

Some surprise bookends a daughter bought for me a couple years ago, which I love.

Another Way for week of December 28, 2018

Looking Towards Retirement

It feels weird to be sitting here thinking back on my career, rapidly coming to a close. It is almost as scary of transition as getting out of college and sending out résumés looking for my first real job, which is what I began doing some 43 years ago on my Christmas vacation from college.

If I’m lucky, my life will be bookended with something like the 20-24 years I spent preparing to enter the work world, with (I hope) another two decades tacked on after leaving the old nine to five. But that very thought—that that’s all I might have left: 20 years, is bewildering, scary, undoing. Knowing how fast 20 years can pass is part of it.

Preparing for retirement has been a little overwhelming in terms of the paperwork, the legalese, the understanding how things work or don’t work, the jumping through the Medicare hoops, understanding donut holes and supplements, figuring out when it is best to start drawing Social Security, will I lose too much money if I don’t wait until I’m 71 (which you hear a lot of “experts” recommending these days).

First let’s clarify two things:

  1. I’m planning to officially retire from full time work the end of March 2019.
  2. I’m planning to keep writing this column for the foreseeable future, as long as papers keep using it. It was a very small side gig for me these last two years. So, no retiring from that at this point: with a sincere and grateful thank you to papers and readers!

I’m writing about retirement because so many of us baby boomers and beyond are here (are we the only ones reading print newspapers anymore?) and the struggles and aging issues are real.

My husband and I started going to retirement seminars and consultations about handling retirement money a few years ago and I felt like I was in first grade. What are they talking about? What language is this? How will I ever learn all this? Forget seminars: I need to go back to school! Will we do the right thing or get ourselves in trouble?

Two years back when my husband hung up his work shoes we faced a worrisome money decision with some of his retirement money. It was one of the most stressful couple of days we went through in recent years. I knew then and there I wasn’t cut out to play the stock market.

Now that I’ve announced my pending retirement, I’ve had all the feels: do coworkers think I’m treading water? Dare I even write about this? Am I losing my creativity, word skills, ability to think on my feet? Am I keeping up with the thirty and forty-year-olds? Are my slacks too wide-legged and over the hill?

It will be nice not worrying about these things and having more freedom to spend time with grandchildren, travel, visit my mother and siblings. But will I dry up?

And now I sound and feel like the mythical J. Alfred Prufrock (what a great name) fretting and stewing about minutia in some favorite lines of my pet poet, T.S. Eliot:

“I have measured out my life with coffee spoons …

I grow old … I grow old … I shall wear my trousers rolled. Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?” (From “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” by T.S. Eliot.)

And oh yeah: now I remember another thing I want to do as I enter a different era; I hope to resume reading poetry in the English literature textbooks I saved and have mostly never cracked.

I will also not soon forget the words of one of my four bosses after he took early retirement: “Don’t wait to retire. Retirement is wonderful, just great! You can do what you want to do.”

I’m looking forward to it but not without lots of questions, wonderings and worries. I know one thing for now, I will continue writing, because that helps me think things out. I will continue a life of faith, with God who has been faithful through so many other bewildering and happy transitions.


If you’re retired, how do you like your life? I’d love to hear advice and encouragement.

If you’re just starting out in a career or life, what do you hope to be or do in 40 years?

This is the last week to request the bookmark “Top 35 Books for Children” compiled by friends and readers. Or send your comments or retirement advice and stories to or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at a week after newspaper publication.  








To walk or tramp about; to gad, wander. < Old French - trapasser (to trespass).

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