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Musical Musings #3

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It’s time for another Musical Musings, and this month, the subject is songs that remind me of my parents, my sibling(s), and my childhood. This should be fun! Also, I’m guessing it’ll be long. Because music. And family. You’ve been warned.

We’ll start with my dad. When my parents split, there were the weekend visits with my dad, and that meant car rides with the radio tuned to one of three things. Lions football, Tigers baseball, or country music. He’s a big country music fan–but you know, only “real country–not this new horse shit they have nowadays”. (Random thought alert: having spent many of my formative years surrounded by cow shit, I always wondered why he seemed to consider horse shit so much worse. I’m gonna have to ask him one of these days.) 

And while there are a ton of songs that remind me of him the biggest are probably The Gambler by Kenny Rogers and Ring of Fire and I Walk the Line by Johnny Cash. They always make me smile. Oh! And Delta Dawn – the Tanya Tucker version. I bet I can still sing that. Not gonna try, though.

There are so many songs that remind me of my mom, I don’t even know where to start, after all, she’s the reigning queen of Wildly Inappropriate Bedtime Songs. For instance, we got a lot of protest songs as lullabies well as other songs you wouldn’t normally sing kids like Brandy or The Eagles’ Take it Easy, Carly Simon’s You’re So Vain, The Beatles’ Lady Madonna and Eleanor Rigby, Gordon Lightfoot’s The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, pretty much all of John Denver, Carole King, and Simon and Garfunkel, but especially Cecelia. My brother, Tim, loooooooooved that song. But the two songs that probably most remind me of my mom are the Peter, Paul, and Mary covers of Where Have All the Flowers Gone and Blowin’ in the Wind and Don Mclean’s American Pie. You know…for those feel good bedtime vibes – lol. But, I think I get my love of sad songs from all of our Wildly Inappropriate Lullabies. And you know what? I’m good with that.

I have four siblings, so buckle up.

My brother, Tim, is closest to me in age, and when we were younger, we fought. A lot. But when we got along, we had some music in common. Like, I bet if pressed, we could both still sing the entire libretto of Jesus Christ Superstar. (Random side note: Probably the best birthday present I ever got [even better than the signed Brian Froud print] was when Tim surprised me with tickets to a really great touring production of JCS in the early 90s.) But without fail, the song(s) that always make me think of Tim, without fail, is the entire Guns N’ Roses’ Appetite for Destruction album.

When it first came out, I loathed it–probably just to be contrary because he loved it so much. Fast forward to me moving 500 miles away, shortly after getting married. My husband was finishing up his final year of college, and one night, we were at the bar where he was on a pool league. Some bastard started playing Mr. Brownstone on the jukebox, and I was suddenly so homesick and missing my brother so much, I went into the bathroom and cried.

I’m gonna wait here a sec while that sinks in.

I sobbed overfucking Mr. Brownstone. In a super dodgy bar bathroom. In the U.P.

After that, I may have gotten my own copy of Appetite for Destruction. I am nothing if not nostalgic. You guys oughta know that by now.

I’m happy to report that Tim and I still have some music in common–like Hamilton. We went to go see it in Chicago with our kids (and our sister) a couple months ago. And in theory, we’re going to see Les Miz this year, too!

Next up is my brother, Martin. Now, Tim and I are a bit older than our younger siblings, so sometimes, when our mom was teaching night classes, we’d be on deck for singing Wildly Inappropriate Lullabies at bedtime.

I’ve got several songs that remind me of Martin. Puff the Magic Dragon is a big one. One night when mom was singing it to him, he started wailing. Sobbing like he’d lost his best friend. He realized at that point that Puff is a fucking depressing song. He started sobbing for my mom to fix it. So she had to make up a new, happier verse to finish the song with. Poor Cait was in high school before she realized that no one outside our family knew there was fourth verse.  My kids think there’s a fourth verse, too.

All the Mumford and Sons songs remind me of Martin because he’s the one who introduced me to them. (Yay, Martin!) But the song that always makes me smile and think of him is Turn Down for What. The year that song came out, he was constantly in my face shouting, “Turn Down for What!” He’d begin or end phone calls that way. It was constant. And annoying. But like most things, Martin, it made me laugh.

Fast forward to that summer, he and he’s awesome fiancée were getting married and asked me to officiate the ceremony. So, I got my internet minister’s license (like you do when your brother asks you for a favor) and helped plan the wedding. His wife didn’t know what music to pick for the recessional, so I said, “We could always do, Turn Down for What.” Because she’s awesome, she thought it was hysterical, she also wanted to keep it a secret from Martin. So we surprised him with it at the end of the ceremony. The look on his face was one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen. He recovered nicely, though, and danced his way back up the aisle.

Then, there’s Andrew. When he was little, he looked and acted so much like Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes that I bought him a stuffed tiger.  He had asthma and had to have nightly nebulizer treatments–so many, that he burned out a nebulizer. And like all junk in our house, it ended up in the garage where he cracked the casing off it and attached jumper cables to it and a car engine and jump started it.  He was that kid.

I have a couple songs that remind me of him. One is John Denver’s Country Roads. He loved that song and wanted mom to sing it to him every night. Or me. Or Tim. When he got married a few years ago, he surprised my mom by having the DJ play it for their mother-son dance. It was the greatest thing ever–even though I suspect most of the guests were confused. Especially, when the rest of us got up and sang along. Then, he also had the DJ play Carole King’s Tapestry so we could dance to it. If I was putting him to bed, he always asked me to sing that to him. And yes, I cried my eyes out when he wanted to dance with me to that song. Incidentally, I now sing it for his daughter when I babysit her.

That brings us to Cait (of Texts from Cait fame). Trying to narrow Cait down to a song or two is going to be next to impossible, but I’ll give it a go. Meatloaf’s Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad will always remind me of Cait. And Tim. Because when it was his turn to put the kids to bed, he’d rock Cait to sleep, and I’d hear him singing Two Out of Three to her. And it was honestly the cutest thing ever. And it was just as damn cute when he sang it to his own kids.

But there are so many songs that remind me of Cait, like Part of Your World from The Little Mermaid, because she thought the line bright young women, sick of swimming was pregnant women, sick of swimming for years. And sometimes we still sing it that way. And nobody karaokes Janis Joplin like my baby sister. Cait’s Piece of My Heart is amazing.  Then, there’s the entirety of Fleetwood Mac musical catalogue. Not to mention all the 60s girl groups. And literally everything Cher ever sang. Also, Cait does a brilliant Cher impression. Jess Jarman was treated to this phenomenon once upon a road trip. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention her love of Bowie. But I think I have to go with ABBA’s Dancing Queen for Cait. She adores all the ABBA, but Dancing Queen is her go-to song forever. It cheers her up when she’s in a bad mood. It makes her even happier when she’s in a good mood. And whenever I hear it, I think of Cait.

Okay, the last topic is childhood–which is tough since, with the exception of Part of Your World, all of the songs here remind me of my childhood. But…if I had to pick just one, it would be Sonny and Cher’s Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves. I know – wildly inappropriate on so many levels, but when I was little, it was my very favorite song ever. And also, I wanted to be Cher. Never was a little pudgy blonde girl so disappointed.

I realize this was probably far more than you bargained for when you started reading, so…sorry? But anyway, if you’re still with me, what songs remind you of your fam and childhood? Share!

And be sure to check out the other bloggers’ song memories. Deelylah, Kris, Paige, Gwen, oh, and my friend, Amanda, likes to play along with these Musical Musing prompts, so she blogged, too.

Texts from Cait – Part Twenty-One

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So, I’m recapping here because I can’t use the actual texts since you know…personal information and all.

But anyway, Cait sent me an image of this check she wrote to my mom with the hashtag, #achievementunlocked. She owed my mom for some student loan payments my mom made when Cait’s bank was being shitty about moving money around.

The actual amount was $665, but unable to pass up this opportunity, Cait insisted that my mom add a $1 service charge.

So she did.

I fucking love my family.

 

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

This summer has been crazy-busy. Like usual. I’m not sure how that happens, but as much as I’m longing for a break from the school year chaos and I think that summer will be full of relaxation and lazy days, it never really is. I’m not sure how that happens, but I usually hit the ground running and I don’t really stop.

There was our amazing Writers Retreat that I already blogged about.

The month after we home from that, we went back to the UP for our annual family vacation. We go with my dad, stepmom, one of my brothers and his fam, my two stepbrothers and their fams, and it’s a great time.

The lake we stay at is really peaceful and great for fishing. Not that I do that now that I’m not forced to. (Childhood vacations involves mandatory fishing for five hours a night.) But I love hanging out by the water and watching the sun rise and set. I also like a nice adult apple juice in my floaty chair in the lake (slathered with ALL the SPF Vampire in the world) while I visit with my SIL. I also (kind of ) learned to kayak. I’m terrible at it, but it’s fun, and I’ll do it again next year.

There was also much discussion of Broadway musicals. One of my nieces is utterly addicted, and it’s pretty much the most adorable thing in the history of ever. Needless to say, there was much singing of Hamilton by me and said niece and my nephew.

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Look how cute the cabins are and how peaceful the lake is!

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No filters – just a Upper Peninsula sunset progression our second night there.

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These ducks were my writing buddies. I just happened to catch a great shot of them landing.

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Our last night there. sigh

We went swimming in Lake Superior, which while chilly, wasn’t horrifyingly cold, but we were on the southern shore which is always warmer, and that was a blast. Lake Superior is my ultimate happy place. I love it up there.

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Lake Superior at Grand Marais

A week or so after we got back from the UP, I went to the airport and picked up my girl, Jess Jarman, and we had a glorious ten day visit. We hung with Jenny Trout and went out to supper with Jen, Jessica De La Rosa, and Kayleigh Jones. We also went to see one of my brothers compete in a local Highland Games competition. And we died in the godawful heat and humidity. But here’s my sweet boy doing his beast thing.

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Jess and I wrote at the super hipster coffee shop.

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We got new tattoos – here’s mine!

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Write day and night like you’re running out of time. 

We had date night at The Melting Pot – we decided we’re doing all cheese next time.

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In other summer fun news, I won an award! Well, technically, my book did! The Professor’s Student tied for first place with Lauren Gallagher’s  book, Kneel, Mr. President in the Passionate Plume contest!

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Check out the gorgeous charm Passionate Ink sent the winners! It’ll look so pretty on my bracelet.

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Write day and night like you’re running out of time. 

Let’s see…in other news, I finally figured out how to knit cables. They ended up being not nearly as difficult as I was afraid they were. I may get this sweater finished, yet.

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I finally got to see Billy Joel in concert! And better still? I got to go with Jenny Trout and her daughter, and it was fucking magical! I’d go see him again in a heartbeat.

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And last, but not least, I officiated at an amazing beach wedding on the shore of Lake Michigan. At some point, I may blog more about it. It ended up being an incredibly profound experience because of the people involved.

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Those are pretty much the highlights of the last few months. It’s been a great summer.

So…this happened.

My baby, Corwin, graduated from high school this year, and we just had his graduation party. One of my SILs made his cake and suggested that Corwin come up with the artwork instead of going with something generic.

Behold…my favorite graduation cake ever!

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See? Looks just like him.

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Wordless Wednesday: Happiness

Just a few of the things that make me happy. Breaking the rules (as usual) with a few captions.

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One of my awesome nieces enjoying a rainy day in the best way possible. This was taken a few years ago, but whenever it rains in the summer, I think of M, and it makes me want to dance in the rain, too.

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Retreat happy feet!

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Writing retreat happiness!

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Monk Muffins make me super happy! So does this monk. He’s my favorite.

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My family makes me wildly happy! (Me, the Mama, and Cait)

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More family happies. (Me, Matt, Killian and Corwin.)

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Fancy kitty feets make me happy, too.

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Rocks make me happy.

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Lake Superior makes me happy.

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Babies make me happy. 

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Ridiculously beautiful sunrises make me happy, too.

What’s on your happy list? Click the other bloggers’ names to find out what’s on theirs.

Jessica

Kris

Kellie

Gwen

Paige

 

Flash Fiction #10 – Family

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It’s time for another song-inspired flash fiction, and I have the feeling that everyone is going to hate me for picking this song, because it’s depressing as fuck. But whatever. I like songs that are depressing as fuck. This one is called Family by Noah Gundersen. Here’s the link if you want to hear it. And here’s a link to the lyrics.

 

“Beer me.”

I stared at my brother, Michael. “Seriously. You’re pre-gaming? This is a family reunion—not a high school football game.”

“Gonna drink until I’m happy to be here.”

Handing him a can of beer, I said, “In that case you might as well just shotgun that entire cooler, lay down and let alcohol poisoning do its work.”

He actually had the decency to look chastised but ruined it by adding, “What? It’s not like you want to be here, either.”

Swallowing back the tears I refused to cry, I turned back to the counter and chopped potatoes that were still too hot from having recently been boiled. “Look, either make yourself useful in here, or go find somewhere else to drink.”

He pushed off the doorframe he was leaning against, and set the can on the counter. “What do you want me to do?”

I don’t know. Stop being a selfish prick? Grow up already? I shoved a cutting board and paring knife his way. “Chop the celery.”

Sighing, he set his beer can down on the counter and grabbed the knife.

“Dude.” I nodded toward the sink.

Rolling his eyes, he washed his hands then began slowly, methodically chopping, as if he was forcing his hands to do things they usually didn’t.

We both stared at his hands. Or maybe he stared at the knife slicing through the stiff, green vegetable flesh, and I stared at his hands—the bruised and scabbed over knuckles, the scar that curved from the base of his thumb to the back of his hand. The one I’d found him trying to stitch with sewing thread by himself in the middle of the night when I was fifteen or sixteen.

He’d needed to go to the hospital, but he refused. He’d been too drunk to finish the job—and even if he hadn’t, he wouldn’t have been able to hold the skin together and stitch it at the same time. So I’d stitched it for him, trying not to vomit while trying not to let him bleed on my pajamas. Neither had been easy. When we were done, I’d put some antibiotic ointment and gauze on it and sent him to bed. I’d covered for him in the morning, too. I still wasn’t sure why I’d done that. Just like I wasn’t sure why I kept giving him chance after chance to break my heart.

I guess I hoped that one day he’d go back to being the brother I remembered. The one who was genuinely happy to see me. Who used to laugh at my jokes. Who used to tell me that everything would be okay and mean it.

Of course, I wanted those same things from my husband, too. And I was just as likely to get them. I blinked rapidly, trying to clear the sudden stinging in my eyes.

“You okay, brat?”

I looked away from his hands and back to the potatoes that were continuing to burn mine. “Yep. I’m good.”

“It’s been a while, but you’re still the shittiest liar I’ve ever seen.”

I didn’t say anything. There wasn’t anything to say. I just kept cutting potatoes into the giant, yellow Tupperware bowl, refusing to look at him.

Pulling the knife from my hand, he tugged me into his arms. I stood stiffly, until he smoothed his rough hand over the top of my head. For just a minute, I sank gratefully into his embrace, resting my head against his shoulder…missing him more than ever.

 

Well, that’s it for my attempt at flash fiction today. Click on the names of the other bloggers and see what they came up with.

Jess (Technical Note: Jess is having issues withe the blog again. Her post might be up later.)

Kris

Gwen

A Few of My Favorite Things: Holiday Traditions

I love the holidays – Christmas in particular. I’ll admit, I’m not big on going to church or anything as I’m not particularly religious, but I am a fan of Christmas carols. I’ll sing them in the car or sometimes in the house. And I love spending time with my family. And my friends. I love making and giving gifts. I even like baking cookies.

Tim Minchin sums up my feelings well in this song…

Some of my favorite traditions (in no particular order) are:

1.) Visiting my fam – especially my extended family with all my cousins and aunts and uncles. If we’re all there, it’s about 70 people under one roof. Of course, that was at last count – several babies have been born since then. It’s loud and hilarious and chaotic and I love it. I usually need a nap afterward, though. 🙂  We usually do four holiday gatherings, plus getting together with friends and the writers group. It’s…busy.

2.) Baking cookies. Every year, my sister and mom come over and we bake cookies with the kids while watching How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Die Hard. Those are our holiday baking movies.

3.) Making gifts. It’s usually knitting, sewing, pottery or cross stitch. I freaking love making things for people. 🙂

4.) A relatively new tradition is the creep my kid out with Weeping Angel tradition. A couple years ago I made Killian a weeping angel and wrapped it up and gave it to him as a “big deal” present. Last year, I made another one, and we decorated the tree like always – with the star. Then Corwin and I replaced the star a few days later with the Weeping Angel tree topper I’d made in secret and scared Killian again. Not sure what I’m gonna do this year…

5.) Cats in the trees. It’s not Christmas without Willow and Morrighan climbing the tree. 069

6.) Putting up the tree and other decorations. These are some of my favorites.

100_2014This Christmas castle is the last thing my Grandma made me before she died, and it’s beyond special to me.

100_2035These are the stockings I’ve cross stitched for our family and they get hung in the archway between the living room and the dining room. Each one is different. I started making the stockings because when we got married, my husband told me he’d never had a stocking as a kid. So I fixed that, and it grew from there. His was the first one I made. My skills have evolved some since then. 🙂

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100_2032 - CopySo that’s about it for favorite traditions. What are some of yours? Click the names below to find out the other bloggers favorites!

Jess

Gwen

Kris

Kellie

So Freaking Thankful!

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There’s that adage that you see all over Pinterest – or, at least, you do if you spend as much time there as I’m known to do, that says:

It’s not happy people who are thankful. It’s thankful people who are happy.

I think there’s definitely some truth to that.  I know that I’m happier and more content when I’m focusing on the good things in my life rather than the crap ones. However, that’s not always an easy thing to remember in the midst of a shit storm.

And in a lot of ways, there’s been a whole lotta shit this year. However, there have been amazing things, too. So I’m going to take a few minutes to talk about a few of the things I’m thankful for that have emerged this year that have far overshadowed the crap.

1.) My kids. If you’ve been here for any length of time, you know I’m crazy about my kids. They’re amazing individuals, and I’d think that even if they weren’t mine. I’m thankful that we can laugh and cry together, that they feel safe enough to tell me anything, that they’re bravely following their dreams even when it’s difficult, and frankly, scary, and that they’re kind and giving people.

2.) My husband. he drives me batshit crazy some days, but I’m more in love with this man than I’ve ever been. He’s a loving father, he works his ass off for us, he tries to make me laugh every single day, and he’s always willing to work shit out and own his crap.

3.) My family. I won the family lotto with my mom, sibs, SILs and BIL, nieces, nephews and cousins – dad and stepmom and aunts and uncles, too. Yeah, we drive each other nuts sometimes, but we’re always able to talk stuff out. I love that open communication is a thing in my family. I know it’s not in a lot of families.

4.) My friends. I literally have the most amazing friends on the planet, and I know how damn lucky I am. I honestly don’t know what I’d do without any of them. I don’t think a more supportive, loving, hilarious  group of people exists. And I’m thankful that they let me hang out with them – IRL and OL.

5.) Readers – whether you’re reading my books or someone else’s you’re making it possible for writers to follow their dreams and I love you guys for that.

6.) The courage to take chances. It’s no secret that I can be a timid chickenshit about a lot of things, but this year, I’ve made a lot of changes. Some were hard and hurt a lot – though I’m better off for them.  Some were scary, but so worthwhile.

7.) The little things that make life better, like: cats, therapy, crafting, Netflix, the internet, stories, laughter, music, sleep, clean sheets, tea, writing retreats, a cozy home, food in the cupboard, coffee, scented candles, ebooks, Ren faires, concerts, Lake Superior, changing seasons, chocolate covered strawberries, truffles, salt and vinegar chips, nail polish, lip balm, fingerless mitts, rocks, Skinny Pop, Costco, social media, Amazon Prime and a million other things I’m forgetting.

8.) I wrote this post a few days ago, and I realized this morning that I needed to add to it. I’m also thankful for the people in my life that have taught me some unpleasant but important lessons. Sometimes, for me, anyway, it’s necessary to learn things the hard way. These particular lessons were a long time coming, and I’m glad that I finally learned them. Without those particular people as teachers, I probably wouldn’t have.

What are you thankful for? Tell me in the comments! And click on the names below to find out what the other bloggers are thankful for, too.

Jess

Gwen

Kris

Kellie

Do you like the Peanuts? Do you like toasty quilts?

Do you want a chance to win a lovely, toasty, handmade Peanuts Christmas quilt?

(The answer is yes. Yes, you do.)

Here’s the deal. My wonderful brother, Andrew and his equally wonderful wife Anne, have been trying to start a family. Unfortunately, this is going to require IVF treatments. You can read more about their journey here.

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Amazing reader, Jeanne, graciously offered to donate one of her handmade, one of a kind quilts to help raise money for the cause. This is a Peanuts holiday strip quilt made with all different kinds of Peanuts fabric.  It’s reversible and will comfortably fit two underneath for cozy cuddling and holiday movie watching.

Here’s a link to the raffle. Any money raised will go to defray the costs of IVF treatments which are 10,000 dollars per attempt.

The raffle site would only let me put up one picture of the quilt, so I’m posting more here. Please check out these lovely pictures and consider buying a raffle ticket or two.

Here’s the front.

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Peanuts Quilt

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Here’s the back.

Peanuts Quilt Back

Peanuts Quilt Back 2

Peanuts Quilt Back 4

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