“Autumn that year painted the countryside in vivid shades of scarlet, saffron and russet, and the days were clear and crisp under harvest skies.” ~ Sharon Kay Penman, from Time and Chance

Autumn Enveloped, Spring Grove Cemetery &; Arboretum, Cincinnati by David Ohmer

“The heart of Autumn must have broken here,
And poured its treasure out upon the leaves.” ~ Charlotte Fiske Bates, from “Woodbines in October”

Saturday afternoon, partly cloudy, hotter and humid, 85 degrees.

Any day now we’re going to get a break in the weather and have nice fall temperatures. Any day now.

Corey is working on the fence again. Somehow, the goats and horses have all found ways to escape from the pasture, which I know is frustrating the hell out of Corey. At the moment, Beric and Daisy are in the back pasture, and the rest of the goats and the two horses are in the large pasture, or at least they’re supposed to be. At the moment, they’re on the front porch.

Autumn Reflection Spring Grove Cemetery & Arboretum, Cincinnati by David Ohmer (FCC)

Early this morning, after letting all of the dogs out, Freddy returned smelling of skunk. Fortunately he seems to be the only one who was sprayed directly, but boy did he get the full treatment. It was hellacious. I sprayed him with one of those dog calming sprays that I keep on hand, but that was only a temporary measure until we were out of bed. Corey gave him a bath, and that seems to have taken care of the eau de skunk.

“Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.” ~ George Eliot, from a
Letter to Miss Lewis, October 1, 1841

Anyway, I had something in particular in mind for today’s post, and it’s an offshoot of my griping about the hot temps, but in a good way, if that makes any sense at all . . .

Climate experts (weather.com) say that 2019’s warmer than usual September means that leaves will change color across the U.S. about a week later than usual. I was unable to download the interactive map showing nationwide fall foliage peak dates, but I did manage to capture two dates showing peak time in our area, which is supposed to be somewhere between October 26 and November 2. Corey’s mom likes to try to catch peak foliage, so I’m hoping that this tool will be of value to her.

2019 Fall Foliage Map & Nationwide Peak Leaf Forecast (10-26-2019)
2019 Fall Foliage Map & Nationwide Peak Leaf Forecast (11-02-2019)

Apparently, each year since 2013, smokymountains.com publishes this interactive map for those looking for peak leaf viewing around the country. Wes Melton, a data scientist and CTO with smokymountains.com, told Travel + Leisure:

“The predictive fall leaf map helps potential travelers, photographers and leaf peepers determine the precise future date that the leaves will peak in each area of the continental United States . . . We believe this interactive tool will enable travelers to take more meaningful fall vacations, capture beautiful fall photos and enjoy the natural beauty of autumn.

Although the scientific concept of how leaves change colors is fairly simple, predicting the precise moment the event will occur is extremely challenging . . . The major factors impacting peak fall are sunlight, precipitation, soil moisture and temperature. Although we cannot control Mother Nature and ensure 100 [percent] accuracy, our data sources are top-tier and each year we refine our algorithmic model achieving higher accuracy over time.”

Moving the slider at the bottom of the actual interactive map (found here), will display the best opportunities for when and where leaves will be near peak, at peak, and past peak in the coming weeks.

“How beautifully leaves grow old. How full of light and color are their last days.” ~ John Burroughs, naturalist

There’s nothing quite like a hike in the Blue Ridge Mountains in autumn. It’s something that I first began doing right after Caitlin died, and I’ve tried to do so as often as possible over the years since, in particular along Skyline Drive, the historic 105-mile National Scenic Byway, which traverses Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. There are nearly 70 scenic overlooks along this north-south route. I have stayed several times at Skyland Lodge, which is located at the top of the drive. Go here to see available lodging in and around Shenandoah; I would recommend the cabins for a more rustic experience.

A view of Skyline Drive in late fall (NPS image)

Another beautiful route for viewing fall foliage in the mountains is the Blue Ridge Parkway, which traverses 469 miles through 29 Virginia and North Carolina counties and spans the southern and central Appalachians. The Parkway links Shenandoah National Park to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Lodging here is varied and includes B&Bs, lodges, cabins, and hotels, among others; we stayed at Peaks of Otter Lodge the year I was pregnant with Brett.

Bittersweet memories . . .

By the way, since I always get this confused, I thought that I’d offer a clarification: The Blue Ridge Mountains (Eastern US) are part of the Appalachians (eastern counterpart to the Rocky Mountains), which are a system of mountains forming a barrier to east/west travel and extending 2,000 miles from Newfoundland to central Alabama. The Great Smoky Mountains (SE US) are a subrange of the Appalachians and a part of the Blue Ridge Mountain Range. Shenandoah National Park is in the Shenandoah Valley, which stretches 200 miles across the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains. The Allegheny Mountains are part of the Appalachians.

  • Mountain range: series of mountains
  • Mountain system: group of mountain ranges
  • Subrange: seen as parent-child relationship (Appalachians parent to Blue Ridge child)

Got it? Me neither. More later. Peace.


Music by September’s Birds,”Honey, You Don’t Know”


Autumn

All day I have watched the purple vine leaves
Fall into the water.
And now in the moonlight they still fall,
But each leaf is fringed with silver.

~ Amy Lowell

 

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“Doesn’t it make you shiver? | There’s a fearlessness I envy | In the simple soft wavering dark.” ~ Alicia Ostriker, from “Ohio Evening”

Spring Grove Cemetery & Arboretum, Cincinnati by David Ohmer FCC
Johnny Appleseed Statue, Spring Grove Cemetery & Arboretum, Cincinnati by David Ohmer (FCC)


 

These things float around in my head
Like a boat that cuts its motor
In the middle of a lake,
Where under a full moon and no wind
The singing of the crickets far away
Goes up and up like a curtain of beads.” ~ Alicia Ostriker, from “Ohio Evening”

Monday afternoon. Cloudy and humid, 73 degrees.

Cooler temperatures have me longing for fall—red and orange foliage, mountain trails, the smell of loam and cold spring water, crisp apples straight from the orchard, wildflower honey. Ah me. I don’t know if I’ll make it through a real post today, so I’ll just start musing and see where it takes me, okay?

So Corey heard from the landowner, and it doesn’t look promising. The owner wants to sell outright, no lease to buy, and that’s perfectly understandable; also,  the other family that is very interested in the property told him that they can have the financing by March of next year. So if we want this property, we need to sell one of these houses so that, we hope, we can secure a new mortgage for the property before March 2015.

Did you get all of that?

Tofukuji Temple, Japan by Ari Helminen FCC
Tofukuji Temple, Japan by Ari Helminen FCC
Even though this image has a copyright symbol on it, it was listed on the photographer’s site as being creative commons

In essence, unless we sell something, we’re not going to get my dream property. And the bummer is that we just cannot put our house on the market without doing some work on it. I refuse to take a loss on this house, which might seem stubborn, but it would seem too much like a failure.

Here’s what we need to do to put it on the market:

  • Rip up the old carpet and make the floors look presentable
  • Install a new back door
  • Replace all of the windows
  • Gut the kitchen and install new cabinetry and tile
  • Paint everything
  • Replace a couple of interior doors
  • Have central ac installed
  • Replace three ceiling fans and install new lighting in the kitchen
  • Finish the bathroom

“And you are left in the end with all that pain cannot take from you.” ~ Carole Maso, from Beauty is Convulsive: The Passion of Frida Kahlo

It actually isn’t a whole lot, and we can do everything except for the AC, and if we do the work, I think that we can get everything done for between 20 and 30K.

I mean, the boys and I can work on the painting while Corey is out. If we’re not staying here, then we don’t need to install the expensive door that I had picked out, and we can save on the kitchen cabinetry as well. Doing a kitchen is not nearly as hard as doing a bathroom; I know this because I’ve done the kitchen in this house before (my ex and I). Installing cabinetry takes a level and two people to handle the cabinets.

Oregan Trail in Autumn by Ian Sane FCC
Oregon Trail in Autumn by Ian Sane (FCC)

Corey has said that he never wants to take on another renovation project himself, having been almost defeated by the bathroom gut and reno; he says that he would rather hire someone to do it, but I think if it means the difference between getting and not getting this property while we wait for funds to do the work, he may see it my way. At least I’m hoping he will. This is one of those situations in which it would be nice if his brothers lived closer so that they could chip in a day or two of help, especially his brother Chad, who is incredibly handy and seems to just know how to do anything.

Anyway, if we start on this work next month, I honestly think that we could be finished by December, and then we could put the house on the market.

Am I not being realistic? Maybe. But this means too much to me to just sit back and accept that we cannot do it.

“A thousand dreams within me softly burn.
From time to time my heart is like some oak
whose blood runs golden where a branch is torn.” ~ Arthur Rimbaud, from “Evening Prayer,” trans. Wyatt Mason

As far as putting the house on the market, I have no idea what the market is like in this area at the moment. I haven’t been in touch with any of my realty contacts in years, so I don’t know if the market is a buyer’s or a seller’s or no one’s. I know that the market has rebounded since the crash of 2007, and I know that it isn’t inflated like it was in 2004-05. Other than that, I have no idea if we can even sell this stupid house.

GE Eastman House, NY by Lisa Cook fcc
GE Eastman House, NY by Lisa Cook (FCC)

I really don’t want to think about it any more at the moment. Let’s see, in other news . . .

I’ve been eating everything in sight for the past few days. No idea where that’s coming from unless it’s stress. It’s stress . . . it’s always stress . . . I throw up . . . it’s stress . . . I eat too much . . . it’s stress . . . I can’t sleep . . . it’s stress . . . I sleep too much . . . it’s stress.

Sheesh. Whatever.

Later this afternoon I’m picking up Olivia, and she’ll stay with me until tomorrow. At least I have that to look forward to. A few hours with le bébé, and almost always it puts me right as rain, even though it leaves me exhausted . . . it’s stress . . .

More later. Peace.

Music by Luke Sital, “Nearly Morning”

                   

So Much of the World

So much of the world exists
without us

the mountain in its own steepness

the deer sliding
into the trees becoming
a darkness
in the woods’ darkness.

So much of an open field
lies somewhere between the grass
and the dragonfly’s drive and thrum

the seed and seedling,
the earth within.

But so much of it lies in someone
standing alone at the edge of a field
with a life apart

feeling for a moment
the plover’s cry
on the tongue

the curve and plumb
of the apple bough
in limb and bone.

So much of it between
one thing and another,

days of invitation,
then of release and return.

~ Gregory Djanikian

“The wreckage of stars — I built a world from this wreckage.” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche, from Through the Circle of Dionysian Dithyrambs, trans. James Luchte and Eva Leadon

Fall on the Merced by puliarf FCC
Fall on the Merced
by puliarf (FCC)

                   

“I keep remembering—I keep remembering. My heart has no pity on me.” ~ Henri Barbusse, from The Inferno (L’Enfer), trans. Edward J. O’Brien

Sunday morning. Partly cloudy and mild, 66 degrees.

I am forcing myself to sit here and make an honest attempt at a post. I make no promises. It’s not that I don’t have anything to say, more that I am in the midst of one of those times in which linear thought is hard. It is much easier to focus on the fact that the furniture should be polished, or perhaps that I should clean the light fixtures—inanity over creativity.

Fall Foliage in Central Park2 NYC by Alakan Dude FCC
Fall Foliage in Central Park, NYC
by Alaskan Dude (FCC)

But I will eschew the temptation to wander into mindlessness.

Perhaps it is better if I approach this as a random thoughts post and see where takes me. So . . .

  • Corey’s ship is due in port this evening. They had to reroute to go around a storm. He is supposed to be in port for five days.
  • He is coming home to sad news: His grandfather died last night.
  • I never really had a grandfather. My mother’s father was in a nursing home, and I only met my dad’s father that one time when we were in the Philippines. The only thing I remember about him was that he was a short man who did not smile.
  • During times like these, I miss my father, miss how much he loved his grandchildren. He would have adored Olivia.
  • I’m not sure if I’m going to be able to finish this as I am filled with longing and grief.

“We are dancing in the hollow of nothingness. We are one flesh, but separated like stars.” ~ Henry Miller, from Tropic of Capricorn

  • I’ve never read Tropic of Capricorn. I don’t know why. I knew someone once who had met Henry Miller at a party. I was so naive at the time that I thought he was talking about Arthur Miller.

    Fall Foliage by C E Kent FCC
    Fall Foliage
    by C E Kent (FCC)
  • When I think about how much I thought I knew then that I didn’t actually know, I cringe a little inside.
  • It’s too bad that we cannot go through our whole lives with the surety of knowing everything that pervades our youth. The years strip us of this blissful ignorance and replace it with the weight of knowledge.
  • I was so self-assured in my 20’s, so completely certain that I knew more than the next person. I feared nothing and no one. What happened to that person?
  • I remember after I had been in my new job at the medical school for a bit and had made friends, I asked one of them why she had been so cold to me in the beginning. She replied that I scared the crap out of her. I was completely taken aback.
  • It took the death of Caitlin to humble me, to make me realize that everything that I had thought I knew and believed simply wasn’t true.

“… this is the wreath of love, this bed of thorns
is where I dream of you stealing my rest,
haunting these sunken ribs cargoed with grief.
I sought the peak of prudence, but I found
the hemlock-brimming valley of your heart,
and my own thirst for bitter truth and art.” ~ Federico García Lorca, from “Wounds of Love (Stigmata of Love)”

  • I stepped outside a few mornings ago and realized that the air was beginning to smell like fall, the aroma that resembles mountain water and dead leaves, a commingling of smells like no other.

    Autumn in Kyoto by Daily Picture FCC
    Autumn in Kyoto
    by Daily Picture (FCC)
  • I have an ongoing battle with autumn: It has always, always been my favorite season, and it has always, always been the time of year in which I find myself helplessly, hopelessly depressed.
  • By last night I knew that I was already in the midst of a major depressive episode; as I lay immersed in the hottest water possible in my new tub, I had a sudden sense of being completely overwhelmed.
  • When this happens, anything and everything can set me off: a song, a smell, a sound.
  • I applaud those of you who never feel this way, and I am completely astonished that not everyone feels this way.
  • My skin feels foreign, too small for my body, too taut for my emotions.
  • And I just want to be far away, preferably in the mountains, where there is enough air, where the walls do not contain me.

“Skin, though it takes pains to remember caresses, is marked by the road that pain takes.” ~ Rosmarie Waldrop, from Driven to Abstraction

  • My antidepressant does help, some, but nothing can help completely. I think that many people think that antidepressants are cure-alls; they are not.
  • I resisted going on medication because I thought that I would not be able to feel, because I liked my extreme highs and lows. Let me back up a bit—the first antidepressant I tried (and I tried many) completely numbed me. Who wants to feel nothing? Certainly not I.

    Autumn in the New Forest by MarilynJane FCC
    Autumn in the New Forest
    by MarilynJane (FCC)
  • I view my medication as a large band-aid—it protects me from harm, but there is still a wound under it that takes time to heal.
  • It’s strange really, how I have come to know the precise second an episode has arrived, as if it has rung a bell or announced itself somewhere in the recesses of my brain. I suppose after all of these years it makes sense that I would be so attuned.
  • But back to my initial resistance: having felt the extremes for all of my adolescence, I battled attempts to fix me in my 20’s. I suppose that is a natural response, not to want to be dependent upon something, to want to be able to fix things without the benefit of drugs. It’s a battle that I still fight, actually, looking at the pills in my hand for my various ailments, wondering what would happen if I just stopped.
  • But I don’t. Age has allowed me, at least, the wisdom to recognize that I will probably take pills until the day I die.

“A brief parenthesis in chaos.” ~ Thomas Lovell Beddoes, from “Insignificance of the World”

  • I remember sitting in my first psychology course in high school, the very moment I was able to put a name to what was happening to me, when the teacher began to describe manic depression (as it was called then), the extreme highs and lows, the split second changes between the two.

    Autumn in herefordshire by apdk FCC
    Autumn in Herefordshire
    by apdk (FCC)
  • I told no one.
  • I really don’t know why I’m rehashing this; it’s not as if I haven’t mulled over this again and again and again.
  • But then, I don’t really know why I do a lot of things, at least, not when I feel like this.
  • Nothing seems to make sense, and everything is hard.
  • Everything is hard.
  • Everything is hard.
  • If only chocolate really were a cure.
  • Thanks for tuning in.

More later. Peace.

Music by Noah Gundersen & The Forest Rangers, “He got away”


Steady Now

Although things vanish, are what mark our vanishing,
we still hold on to them–ballast against the updraft
of oblivion–as I hold on to this umbrella in a world of rain,

of heavy wet greens and grays dissolving into a new
atmosphere, a sort of underwater dulled electric glow
off everything, the air itself drowning in it, breath

thickening, growing mold. Yesterday I felt the smell
of grass greeting me as across a great distance, trying
to tell me some good thing in an underglaze of memory,

some forgotten summer trying to speak its piece. It is
the way of things and it never stops, never calls a halt–
this knocking and dismantling, this uprooting, cutting out

and digging down, so tall oaks and honey locusts are
laid low and drop to earth like felled cattle, shaking
the ground we’ve taken a stand on as if it were a steady

establishment, a rock of ages to outface ruin itself, not
the provisional slippery dissolving dissolute thing it is–
which we have against all the evidence set our hearts on.

~ Eamon Grennan

 

“We convince by our presence.” ~ Walt Whitman

Blue River Henry County Indiana by Julayne

Blue River, Henry County, Indiana by Julayne

 

“Every moment of light and dark is a miracle.” ~ Walt Whitman

“When I give, I give myself.” ~ Walt Whitman

Sings of Autumn U of AK campus JJ
Signs of Autumn, U. of Alaska Campus by Janson Jones

Earlier this morning when I let the dogs out, I stuck my head outside and inhaled deeply. Yep. Smells like fall.

Even though we don’t live in the country, so to speak, the air still has those fine seasonal permutations in which sounds and scents can be discerned. Today promises to be in the low 60’s and sunny, or so says my little weather icon. Part of me could live in clear and cool in the 60’s every single day of my life. Not hot. Not cold. Not gloomy. Not snowy.

Yet, there is still that part of me that aches for the tropics. Not so much the heat as the blazing sun and azure waters. Feeling the fine grains of sand beneath my feet and falling asleep to the sound of the incoming and outgoing tides. I find that very appealing.

People who are from this area know exactly how fickle the weather can be. It can be 80 degrees on Thanksgiving Day. It can snow five inches in the middle of March. We can go from a high of 86 on Monday to a high of 60 on Tuesday. Everyone talks about how wonderful it is that we have such mild winters, but that makes me yearn for snow. And as I have said before, spring is entirely too short: We virtually run through spring directly into summer in about two weeks. But fall does seem to last a bit longer, which is fine by me.

“The future is more uncertain than the present” ~ Walt Whitman 

I’ve had this feeling of late that I am coming to some sort of crossroads. Part of that feeling is probably due, in part, to the fact that we are now at a do or die time for Corey to get a job, and the outlook for him being able to get a job on a tug boat is looking extremely dim.

Forecasts for the shipping industry do not anticipate any kind of upturn in the industry until 2010. I just read about a strike by some tug workers in New York harbor because of hiring practices.

Fall FoliageSo we have been discussing alternative careers. I know and Corey knows that circumstances will probably make it more than a possibility that he is going to have to shift his career if he is going to get a job anytime soon, which makes both of us more than a little melancholy. He just finished those classes to get more endorsements on his Merchant Marine Document (MMD), and he is more qualified than he has ever been at any point in his shipping career. But there just aren’t any jobs.

My Captain is without a vessel. I really ache for him. I, too, know what it is like to be out of work (not the current circumstances of being disabled), but avidly looking for work, and getting nothing but the standard, “We’ll put your resume on file” response. After the first 50 times, it’s hard not to begin to turn inside and think that there must be something wrong with you.

Statistically, in this kind of stagnant economy, I think the old saying is that for every 100 resumes you send out, you can expect to get 1 interview. Bummer, huh?

But even though we are still on this see saw, I have this gut feeling that a change is coming, not exactly sure what kind of change, but some kind of change. Change can be good. Right? I should embrace this gut feeling. Right? Then why do I feel trepidation?

“Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.” ~ Walt Whitman 

Perhaps trepidation is too strong. Fear is too dramatic. Icky feeling in my gut is poorly phrased. What’s the word that I’m looking for? Agitation? Perturbation? Palpitation? Hesitation? That’s it: hesitation.

I am hesitant to embrace any kind of gut feeling that might portend a change for the better. After all, if you convince yourself that things are looking up, that’s about the time a grand piano falls from the sky and lands on your head.

Skyline DriveIs it any wonder that I really liked the story of  “Chicken Little” when I was a child? I suppose I have always been a glass half-empty person. I mean, if I won the lottery, after being incredibly excited, my very next feeling would be dread because of the taxes that I would have to pay. I know. I know. I’ve been talking about hope and strength and peace of mind, but the nudge side of me keeps intruding.

My ex used to call me a nudge, as in I could never let something go. I would keep nudging until it erupted or died like the proverbial dead horse on the front lawn. I’ve really worked on the whole letting go thing. I think that I’ve gotten much better. For example, whenever I used to get into an argument, I was never ready to apologize and move on. I do apologize now, and I actually mean it sincerely 99 percent of the time.

But I don’t think that I’ll ever get to the point at which I can say (truthfully) that I have let go of the perturbation at having been wronged by someone (other than Corey). I mean, I don’t openly dwell as much; truth be told, I don’t dwell to the point of internal agitation. But every once in a while, a memory of a situation in which someone has treated me badly will pop into my brain, and I will stew for a bit. I really wish that I could overcome the ability to remember past wrongs with such clarity. The rest of my memory seems to be getting fuzzier, but not the “Oh. I have been done wrong” part.

But I digress . . .

“Not I—not anyone else, can travel that road for you,/You must travel it for yourself.”  ~ Walt Whitman  

Crossroads. Fall. Right.

I do feel that I am coming to some sort of divide in the road, Frost’s two roads diverging. And I will probably take the path less trodden upon as it seems to offer more in the way of surprises. I’m just hoping that they will be good surprises, for a change.

Fall is my season of big change. Almost everything significant in my life has happened in the fall—good and bad. Job changes. School. New friendships. Losses. All in the fall.

I also find that I write more in the fall. I am planning to get back to my daily writing in October: posting everyday, getting back into my routine of writing about something, anything every day. Fall is also my time for poetry, perhaps because my psyche is has embellished upon it the memories of teaching literature classes to students who would groan audibly when I would mention poetry. By the second week, they wanted more. It’s all in the words, the ways in which we share them, the manner in which we connect with them.
sunset on skyline drive
Perhaps the change that I sense is the bounty that fall brings to my life. Perhaps not. Not being a seer, I have no way to tell. I just know that something is looming, just over the horizon. And I think that I am actually ready for it.

So I will pause and make myself cherish the coming days. Go outside more and breathe the air, watch the birds, listen to the geese as they fly overhead, and smell the leaves, the chrysanthemums, and enjoy my season.

I have used quotes from Walt Whitman in this post because his words have been echoing in my brain. In particular, there is one long quote by Whitman that is among my most favorite:

“This is what you shall do: love the earth and sun, and animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence towards the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown, or to any man or number of men; go freely with the powerful uneducated persons, and with the young, and mothers, of families: read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life: re-examine all you have been told at school or church, or in any books, and dismiss whatever insults your soul.”

I have included James Wright’s “A Blessing,” as it is one of my favorite poems, and it jumped into my mind as I was writing this post. Obviously, it was supposed to be here.

More later. Peace.

A Blessing

Just off the highway to Rochester, Minnesota,
Twilight bounds softly forth on the grass.
And the eyes of those two Indian ponies
Darken with kindness.
They have come gladly out of the willows
To welcome my friend and me.
We step over the barbed wire into the pasture
Where they have been grazing all day, alone.
They ripple tensely, they can hardly contain their happiness
That we have come.
They bow shyly as wet swans. They love each other.
There is no loneliness like theirs.
At home once more,
They begin munching the young tufts of spring in the darkness.
I would like to hold the slenderer one in my arms,
For she has walked over to me
And nuzzled my left hand.
She is black and white,
Her mane falls wild on her forehead,
And the light breeze moves me to caress her long ear
That is delicate as the skin over a girl’s wrist.
Suddenly I realize
That if I stepped out of my body I would break
Into blossom.

~ James Wright

                                                                                                   

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