Monday, December 29, 2008


this is the week between. most noticeably, between christmas and new years. and i am still between jobs, and have been for quite some time now.

so last week was delightful in more ways than i can count. i love having something to look forward to! planning the christmas menu, looking up recipes online, wrapping presents, choosing silly stocking stuffers for guests that are visiting (two college guys from india stayed over on christmas eve, and Everyone at my house gets a stocking on christmas morning!). and having my friend danelis here with me to share in the planning and shopping and wrapping just made it perfect! :)

of course we spent most of the day on christmas eve baking goodies of all sorts. then we went to the christmas eve service at church, and an open house afterwards at the posey's. then in the morning it was fun to surprise the guys with stockings (chocolates, and soap and disposable razors and microwave popcorn - goofy, i know), and "santa" even left them a present under the tree. we all had a ball opening presents and watching the kids and their excitement!

keith and his family came in the afternoon and we had a yummy dinner. the kids played and played and it was a great day all around. i think i spent the whole next day sleeping!

so, i'm enjoying this week of between. i will enjoy a new year's eve celebration with my dear friend jim, as i have for the past few years. lucky for me, there is no boy to disappoint by my desertion of him for new years, as i am currently "between" in that category as well. suits me just fine, as i am still content to wait for the one and only one worth having. haven't met him yet...

Saturday, December 20, 2008

a house, full

they're here! danelis and nabin and nadin and neisha have arrived at my home. they've been in india for the past several months and they are staying with me until they find a home of their own. they arrived late last night and danelis and i stayed up till the wee hours of the morning, talking and laughing and catching up. we finally forced ourselves to go to bed, knowing that we will have days and weeks of time to share.

i woke up the the pitter patter of little feet running around the upstairs of the house. of course, i rolled over and went right back to sleep. they are still adjusting to the time change - it can take a while - so they are up and wide awake well before the sun!

when nadin (age 4) was asked what he thought about the christmas tree, he responded, "there are no presents underneath." of course. at 4 years old, what is the point of having a christmas tree if there are no presents underneath? indeed.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


its a funny word. it sounds funny when you say it. it sounds funnier when you Have it and try to Say it! :) i have no other symptoms of illness. in fact, i feel quite good...

so my friends who have been in india for the past several months are back in the states now. they will be arriving at my home late friday night and will be staying until they find a place to live. i'm so excited that they are coming. excited that we will be spending christmas together. excited to have the company and hustle and bustle in my home.

i've been getting things ready for their arrival. cleaning out some drawers for them to use, moving some furniture around (thanks for your help, tim!), and making beds. i've got kids books on the bottom bookshelf, and a big bag of stuffed animals for them to play with.

my voice has two days to heal. 'cuz when they get here, we've got almost a year of catching up to do!

Sunday, December 07, 2008


have you ever been with a friend on their birthday and had them say to you that they knew this would probably be the last birthday they ever had? two people i know had birthdays yesterday. my nephew turned nine and i doubt that the end of his life ever crossed his sweet, happy mind. and reva turned i don't even know how old, but not old at all, and she knows this will likely be her last.

the best thing about the day was the surprise snow. reva said, and i certainly believe her, that her daddy (who died in january) asked God to send reva snow for her birthday so that she would know he was thinking about her. and God said yes! yea God! thank you daddy. the best gift of all.

peaceful, calm, quiet, clean, beautiful snow. just enough to make everything white for an afternoon. enough to make one happy to be alive for one more birthday...

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

a different plan

yesterday morning, when i woke up on december 1, my plan for the day was to drive reva to roanoke to meet the speech pathologist to help figure out what kind of communication device was going to work best for her, as her speech is getting more and more difficult to understand.

we were supposed to leave at 9am, and neither of us were looking forward to the circumstances of the day, as they were just another glaring aspect of her a.l.s. and we would rather have been doing anything but going to see yet another doctor.

at 8:45am, the lady called and the devices didn't come in and could we reschedule the appointment for next week instead? well, there was a little bit of frustration until we decided to go to cracker barrel for breakfast instead, and then that changed the plan of the whole day. yummy comfort food in front of a great big fire place with a best friend - what's not to love?

after a lingering breakfast, and a stroll around the gift shop looking at the christmas trees and decorations and ornaments, we headed back out into the cold. the sky was clouding over, looking possibly stormy, but the heater in the car worked and we were warm. as we were driving north, crossing the james river bridge from lynchburg to madison heights, the raindrops started pinging and it was rain and sleet and then it was just sleet, bouncing off the pavement in every direction like tiny styrofoam balls with static.

we stopped at cvs to pick up a prescription for reva's mom and dropped it off at her house. then reva came with me back to my house. my christmas tree is up and lit, and i haven't found the ornament box yet, but it still looks really nice. and i had put out some other decorations that just make my cozy home feel christmas-y.

reva and i drank chocolate milk, and watched 27 dresses. she hadn't slept well the night before and she laid down on the couch to watch the movie and soon fell into a restful sleep. i paused the movie, laid my head down on the arm of my chair, and had a nap as well. when we woke up, we finished the movie and discovered we were hungry again and decided to go to our very favorite restaurant of all for indian food for dinner.

it was twilight and the clouds had rolled away and the sky was clear and you could see the remnants of the sun's rays going down over the mountains in the west. reva told me that i was her best friend and that this was one of the Best Days Ever.

the icing on the cake, for me, was the night sky on the way home - the blue-black sky with my very favorite sliver moon and venus and jupiter shining like bright stars right next to it. peaceful night. peaceful day. glimpses of grace and peace in the midst of disease.

God is good. all the time. even when i don't understand...

Sunday, November 30, 2008


and realizing there are lots of blessings to count.

my tree is up.
my house is warm.
i spent thanksgiving with friends, and family.
i passed my test.

and i have so many friends, i cannot count them all.
i am blessed.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

i did it!

i passed my test for my virginia real estate salespersons license!
i am So Happy!

Friday, November 21, 2008

things i'm smiling about...

its sunny and windy today and i'm sure my neighbor wishes i would rake my leaves instead of letting them blow into her yard, but oh well. (i'm not really smiling about that, but again, oh well).

nikki is coming to visit for the weekend and it's been a while since we've been able to hang out, stay up late, talk and laugh, so i'm really looking forward to having her here.

so that's it, really. not much to say. hope your day is sunshiny! :)

Friday, November 14, 2008

it's not accidental...

...the people that come into our lives. i'm more and more convinced of this. i met a new friend a couple of weeks ago...we've exchanged emails and chatted online several times. technology being what it is these days, some "online" acquaintances come and go very quickly, without ever nearing "friend" status. but this one became a friend. and now he is a face-to-face friend. and i think that God knew i was going to need this person in my life.

with my dear friend reva, who is like a sister to me, having been diagnosed with a.l.s. last week, i've been in a bit of turmoil. i think she is still in shock about the whole diagnosis. i took her up to uva this past wednesday to see doctors and therapists and for three hours we met people who basically implied, "i'm sorry, but there's really no hope. prepare for the worst." we know that means she is dying. i don't want to watch another person i love die.

before i left on wednesday morning, i had an email from my new friend and he wondered if we might meet for coffee or something that day. i popped him a quick email to let him know i'd be out of town, taking my friend with a.l.s. to uva for the day. and when i got back home, his reply was waiting. he lost a dear friend to a.l.s. so he gets it. he knows. he understands, first-hand, how i feel. and isn't that what we all want? someone to understand and empathise.

it's not accidental, the people who come into our lives...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


my tummy hurts
and i have a kink in my neck
and my eyes are sleepy
because they wouldn't sleep last night.

will be better...

Sunday, November 09, 2008


my friend, reva, went to the neurologist at uva yesterday. he'd done some tests, and she went for the results. he asked her if she knew what a.l.s. stood for. she told him, "angel, left stationary". and they cried.

reva, truly an angel, whose body has fought against her in one way or another, all her life. it's already started. in her hands, her arms, and her throat. and it's happening fast.

i hate it. Hate It. HATE IT! what in the world? so i'm angry today. angry that God allowed this to happen to her. (don't worry, He is big enough to deal with my anger.) its just One More Thing that doesn't make sense. i'm not looking for answers. i don't need an explanation. i just need to talk about it.

i don't want to watch another person i love die in front of me.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

it's nighttime

and i'm actually sleepy.
today has been filled up and overflowing.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

drunk on laughter

so i'm staying here in va. beach at my friend debbie's house for a couple of days. tonight we met karen and had a "girls night out" at the movie theatre. you would think that would be the highlight of the night, but not so.

when we got home, we interrupted dave's recorded football game. poor guy. he had no idea what he was in for. i think it might have started when debbie started spinning murphy. murphy is the cat with a stub of a "happy tail". he was lying on the floor, sprawled out with legs and legs flailed out to the side, taking a little nap, as cats are inclined to do. i'm not sure if murph woke up on his own or if he had help, but next thing i knew, debbie was spinning murphy around on the hardwood floor...round and round...faster and faster. when she stopped, murphy's little head is kindof twitching back and forth, obviously because the cat is so dizzy it can't focus. we found this quite funny. and we hadn't even been drinking.

so then debbie says, "do you think that the centrifugal force of the spinning causes brain damage?" i told her i didn't know, but if she called the vet and asked him, he would probably have an opinion. and the situation went from quite funny to hilarious. we discussed filming it and sending it to afv, but decided it wasn't quite That funny. we also considered that if murphy didn't like it, he would get up and walk away. so debbie did it two or three more times. nevermind that the poor cat was so dizzy, it probably couldn't have gotten up and walked away to save it's life... what are cats good for, if not a good laugh, right?

so her husband dave is standing behind the couch, watching us and smiling. he had picked up fuzzy, the other cat, and was snuggling her patiently. lucky fuzzy. i guess cats can be good for snuggling too, occasionally. anyway, he wasn't really laughing. did i mention the patient part? yes, he was standing there patiently. waiting. "for what?" you ask. well see, when we had come in from the movie, he paused the football game. and since i am company, he politely asked us about the movie, etc., etc., making conversation and being a very amicable host. after the spinning incident got us started, he began to realize that he was Behind the couch and the remote was on the arm of the couch. juuuust out of "polite" reach. so while debbie and i are cracking ourselves up, polite dave is smiling and nodding his head, all the while wondering just how he is going to commandeer control of the living room, especially the remote, and his football game.

unfortunately for dave, debbie and i are expert mind readers, and we were on to him. and when he made a comment about the speculated, upcoming nuclear hit va. beach was likely to experience in the near future, we decided to torment him a bit longer. it wasn't intentional. it just happened. he mentioned that he would like to be here when it happens, as opposed to richmond, because then he would be incinerated, as opposed to dying a slow, painful death from the fallout effects of nuclear disaster. debbie wisely inquired, "why here or richmond, and not kansas?"

don't even get me started on kansas. have you ever driven across kansas? Longest Damn State In The Country. it looks exactly the same, no matter where you are. seriously. texas takes less time to cross than kansas. why would anyone want to go to kansas? that would be my Last choice. and then...

debbie said "shampoo". not initially funny. but it does have "poo" in it, and if you're in *that* state of mind, it doesn't take much to make one laugh. well, for some reason, when debbie started thinking about what she would want to have were she to survive a nuclear attack, the first thing that popped in her head was shampoo. not food. not water. Shampoo. dave suggested that a map to kansas might be more useful and, well, that was just too much. we're talking "laugh-so-hard-my-belly-hurts!" of course i had to remind her that if she were to survive, she would likely lose all her hair as a result of the fallout, and then what would we do with 20 cases of shampoo?

obviously, you would have to have been here. thankfully, we were. like i said, poor dave. at least he was actually laughing by the time it was all said and done. it's likely that he was just laughing at us, but either way, laughter is the best medicine. and we're drunk on it!

now, a simple quiz to test your reading comprehension...

if a cat is lying on a hard wood floor and you spin the cat really fast,
1. wouldn't it run away if it didn't like it?
2. does the centrifugal force cause the blood to rush to its head?
3. does it cause brain damage?
4. will the vet call peta on me if i call and ask him?

in the event of a nuclear attack, where would you rather be?
1. ground zero; instant incineration
2. close enough to feel the effects; then die a slow, painful death
3. kansas

in the event of a nuclear attack, what would you most like to have if you survived?
1. shampoo
2. pork and beans
3. a map to kansas

which state takes longer to drive through?
1. texas
2. kansas

Saturday, November 01, 2008

capricious cali craves creativity

opalescent ocean offers oblation

wet water weakens worries

grey gulls glide gracefully

supple sand shovels splendidly

fabulous friends frolic fearlessly

giggling girls grin glowingly

sparkly smile stays swimmingly

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

i'm sorry, i can't make it

so on thursday, a friend canceled for coffee.
and on friday, my friend canceled her weekend visit.
and on monday, the mid-week visit was canceled.
and on tuesday, another friend canceled for coffee.
and today, my friend canceled for lunch.

i understand. really, i do. but i don't have to like it.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

really big pots and racks

so when i woke up this morning and went into the kitchen to make coffee, i lifted the lid off the apple butter. it had cooled off plenty and i decided to give it another taste. my suspicion last night was that it was a bit too sweet. well, not much you can do to take sweet out of something, and honestly, can a fruit topping be "too" sweet? but the verdict stands...too sweet.

i looked at the last ten big apples i had left from my jaunt to the apple festival last saturday and decided that the best way to solve this problem was to make another batch with less sugar and then mix the two when they are done. so the second batch is in the crock pot and i anticipate that the house will start smelling all apply here in another couple of hours.

i must say that i'm very proud of myself for conquering the Finger-Severing Santuko. for those of you who know my propensity with knives, i have finally learned how to wield the beast properly! i dont think i need to be afraid of it any more, though i still have a healthy respect for it.

now, about canning. i was planning on canning the apple butter today (before i decided to make a second batch). so while i was drinking my coffee, i pulled out the better homes and gardens new cookbook to read up on the process. i've not done it before, but how hard can it be?

the cookbook talked about filling the jars and putting them in a big pot with a rack in the bottom and boiling them. well, i have a big pot. i don't have a rack. how necessary is the rack? i thought to myself that my grandma probably didn't have a special pot with a special rack just for canning. so i pulled out my grandma's cookbook to see what i could find. the first "vintage" cookbook i checked has a copyright of 1953 and it said the same thing: use a canning pot and canning rack. moving on. next cookbook has a copyright of 1963 and it said to write the u.s. department of agriculture and get their "home and garden bulletin #8: home canning of fruits and vegetables" for only 20¢. *sigh*

i've been told that i'm ingenuitive so i headed back into the kitchen and pulled out my big pot. i usually use it for making soup. it's a big pot. makes a lot of soup. now, i just need to find a rack of sorts to sit the jars on, and it must fit inside the pot. my first idea was my steaming basket. it fit in the pot and it opened up, but it didn't open all the way so it wasn't flat. i decided it wouldn't work for boiling jars. and after looking through all of my gadgets, i realized that i didn't have a second idea.

at this point, i've decided that i Do have to have a pot and a rack to do this. off to the store.

did you know that canning is a "seasonal" activity? in my mind, it's still october, and apples are still in season, and people are still making apple sauce and apple butter. but No, it is the End of canning season, which means that the stores are clearing their stock of canning supplies. the bad thing about that was that if i need more jars, i'm out of luck, because they are all sold out. and that the racks they had left were too big for my big pot. but that the big canning pot, with rack, was on Clearance! so, now i have a new pot. it's a Really Big Pot and i have no idea where i'm going to store it, but now i can can my apple butter.

so now, i just need to perfect my grandma's biscuit-making talent, 'cause there's nothing better on biscuits than apple butter!

Friday, October 24, 2008

desert rain

even the crickets have gone to sleep, but i'm awake, as i have been often at 2 a.m. these past months. much of my wakefulness has been restless, whether it has been in the daytime or the nighttime. you wouldn't have been able to tell by looking at me...the restlessness has been primarily internal.

i've spent the past 20 months journeying through the desert, figuratively. but lately, it's been different. finally, rain came to the desert.

when it first starts raining in the desert, it touches the surface. you see it. you feel it. but it doesn't go deep. know it's good, and you know it was needed, and it is so good to feel something other than dust on your skin. but when the desert has been without rain for a very long time, it's skin is broken and cracked and dry. and while the rain calms the dust, it rolls off the surface. it doesn't soak in. it doesn't heal. it's just water. just water. just. water.

water might be what started it all. we take water for granted where i live. every home has a source of water for immediate use and consumption. most homes have many. sinks, tubs, toilets, spigots. yes, i included toilets. because the water there helps keep bacteria and disease away from us. we don't really think about why we need water at all.

in july i went to meet some people who were doing something amazing. a group of 17 people were taking the summer to ride their bicycles across the united states. they were doing it for blood:water mission. their goal? to increase awareness and raise money to help build 1,000 clean-water wells in africa. and by having clean water, it will help eliminate disease, hence, clean blood. that's when it started - when i went to meet these people.

when the desert is without rain, it doesn't change much. walking on the hard soil is like walking on rocks. you can hike for days and a quick wind will erase the dust of your footprints. when the ground is dry, it's not affected by you. and things will still grow, as they've acclimated themselves to that terrain. it's not unlivable.

the desert of my soul had become hard and cracked and dry. i'd lost my ability to feel much of anything. that's one of the beauties of the desert. not feeling can be welcome. not feeling can be a relief. not feeling is a way to protect yourself. from what, you ask? simple. from feeling. because when your soul is hard and cracked and dry like the desert, and you don't feel, you protect yourself from pain. from things that hurt. and who doesn't want that?

but when it rains in the desert, you start to feel. the rain washes the dust away. and slowly, very slowly, the rain stops rolling off the top and starts sinking in. do you know what happens when water and dirt mix? the shape of things starts changing, and you get mud. mud is messy. mud is dirty. mud is unpredictable. when dirt is hard and cracked and dry, you know you can stomp all over it without much of a reaction. but mud? squish. splash. ooze.

it's not a pretty thing, but it's been raining in my desert life since summer and now i'm all muddy and gooey and oozey on the inside. the rain has been sinking in and my life is changing, because i'm feeling again. high highs and low lows. the happy times are happier and the sad times are sadder. but that's the way it is in real life.

amazing the things you start to notice when you allow yourself to feel. and what i've noticed is people, and how blessed i am to have so many of them in my life. how necessary they are in my life. and how much fun it is to play, in the mud, with your friends! so the restlessness is part of the rain, the mud, the feeling. restlessness is not bad. it's part of the healing.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

a bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck…

what’s a girl to do with a half bushel of apples?

i went to an apple harvest festival today, and well, i just couldn’t help myself! somehow it took me back about 20-something years, to my first autumn in virginia. we moved to roanoke the summer i turned 14. i didn't know then that i'd end up living here longer than in any other state.

it was probably a saturday afternoon, and my parents took us to an apple orchard to pick apples. we spent the next several days peeling and coring apples, and mom made applesauce and apple butter...pies weren't really her thing.

so today, when i set out to spend this brisk fall saturday outdoors, i stumbled on an apple festival. like i said, i just couldn't help myself! i have great plans for these apples. plans reminiscent of my mom, and my grandma. apple butter and pies.

but that apple festival didn't take up much of the day, so my friend and i decided to drive west...towards the blue ridge parkway. we found the perfect campground, right next to a babbling brook. too bad the temperature is supposed to be 38 degrees tonight, or we just might have popped a tent and stayed! probably the best thing about the campground was the little cafe right across the brook that serves hot coffee and breakfast!

cameras in hand, we did our absolute best to capture the day. the trees have just begun to change. there were some amazing reds and yellow, and the colors will only intensify over the next couple of weeks. we drove down a road that was off the beaten path (hey, the gate was open and we didn't see a sign that said "authorized vehicles only"); we took pictures of moss and berries and leaves; we climbed big rocks.

we made a big loop...west to the parkway, south to the peaks of otter, east through beford, goode, and forest, and then north through lynchburg back to madison heights.

the apple pie came out of the oven about an hour ago. should be the perfect temperature to cut and eat.

so yeah, i'm done here for now... :)

Thursday, October 16, 2008


i've been sitting around lately.
trying to find projects to keep me busy.

consequently, doing a lot of thinking.
that's what happens when i'm left alone with myself.

we weren't created to be alone.
and i'm not talking about being lonely. that's not it.

i was once asked to consider the difference between solitude and alone.
and the past couple of months have taught me a lot about those two things. they're not the same, you know.

my first response, when faced with the two, was that they were the same.
i like being alone. i need solitude. it's necessary for survival.
and after a few months of mostly solitude, i've experienced the difference.

i'm solitary by nature. i do need it. it is necessary.
i have not been working, which is daily contact with others, whether you want it or not. i discovered that i have gone entire days (sometimes a couple) without talking. i laugh when i answer the telephone at 3pm and someone asks me if i just woke up because i haven't actually used my voice that day yet. i've gone days without stepping outside, because there was nowhere i needed to go or nowhere i needed to be. and given the choice to stay home or go hang out at barnes and noble with coffee and a magazine, i most always chose stay home. i enjoy solitude. it is not lonely. it is contentedly being alone.
solitude is a choice.
solitude is the choice i usually choose.

and after months of solitude,
after months of being alone,
i realized that i had stopped choosing. alone had chosen me. and alone is not a choice.
alone is when you realize that there are not people in your daily life. it is when you realize that, even though you don't want to be constantly surrounded by people, or activity, there is a marked absence of people or activity...and you didn't choose this. when i had roommates, i wasn't alone. when i worked with other people, i wasn't alone. when i choose to be integrally involved with other people, i am not alone.

of course you know that you can be in a room full of people and be lonely. the absence of alone does not ensure the absence of loneliness. but i do think that alone is the opposite of solitude. one chooses you...the other you choose. and i think loneliness happens when alone chooses you.

i realized that somewhere along the way, i let alone choose me. because of the circumstances of my life, it happened quite easily. the people in my life that i am closest to do not live nearby. i haven't really tried to make connections with the people i know who live locally. and even though i am fortunate to have deep, amazing friendships, i've realized that i need people here, in my everyday, to do life with.

solitude is still necessary, but it is temporary.
i need people in my everyday.
it's time for me to move my life,
not just my home,

and i've finally chosen to do something about it...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

section 65: arlington national cemetery

this week, hbo has been airing a documentary on section 60 at arlington. this is where the soldiers from operation iraqi freedom are being buried.

it is right across the street from section 65, where my papa and mama are buried. at both of their burials, it was winter and the ground was frozen, and there was ice everywhere.

after mom died, i went to arlington relatively frequently. i would sit on the ground and sometimes talk, but mostly just be. sometimes papa and i went together. i know that he went a lot more than i did. but i went whenever i wanted to. and i seldom cried. i didn't need to, i guess. it was comforting somehow.

after papa died, i moved away. i've been back to northern virginia many times since then. i've driven past the cemetery many times. i've only gone back inside once.

in december 2006, papa said, "next year for christmas, i want to take a wreath to the cemetery and put it on sara's grave." in january 2007, he was buried with sara. in december 2007, i took two wreaths to arlington.

and i don't know if i can go back. being there, seeing the headstone, was not comforting any more. it broke my heart all over again.

the flag that covered my papa's coffin hangs on my wall...white stars on a field of blue. i miss him.

Friday, October 10, 2008

chloe sabine delta ludlow

yes, i'm a new aunt again. isn't she beautiful? i just love her. she was born on monday morning, 8 lb. 8 oz. and healthy as can be.

it's amazing.

so pure.
so precious.
so pretty.

Friday, September 12, 2008


so, on tuesday i was thinking about moving furniture... i've lived in my house for just over a year now, so i guess it's about time for some major rearranging of furniture! i'm not really sure why i decided i wanted to move it all around, but once i get an idea like that in my head, there's really nothing else that will alleviate the mental rearranging except Actual rearranging. so i called my friend tim yesterday and asked him if he had any time over the next few days to come over and help me move some stuff around. he's kindof used to it, i think, since we've known each other a long time and he knows how i am. :) he's coming over tomorrow (or maybe saturday) and i've been trying to do as much as i can to get ready for the "big move." i anticipate that it will take a good day to get things all settled back into their new places. it's a lot of work, but i'm excited about it...

i got to see keith & mercedes & zebulun & zahara a few days ago. the new baby is due at the end of this month and we're all pretty excited about that. they are moving furniture too, getting things ready. ooh, maybe that's what started it all... :) yes, i blame them!

i've finished the course i had to take for my new job. i've been waiting for Two Weeks for my final exam to arrive so i can take it. hopefully it will come tomorrow... and after i pass that, i have to take a state exam. this process is taking Way Too Long in my opinion, and just when i think it's nearing the end, i find out that it's gonna take another couple of weeks. seems like it's been that way for almost a month now! meanwhile...

on the way back from my aunt vondie's funeral, i stopped at my mom's friend's house in charlotte, n.c. for an overnight and ended up staying five overnights! her family kept asking me to stay, and i kept staying. it was nice to be "mothered" for a few days. then she came up to visit for labor day weekend and we had a great time! it was almost like having my mommy come visit and see my little home... :)

i guess that's about it for now...

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


my aunt, vondie, died this morning. she survived breast cancer. she survived brain cancer. she died of lung cancer. she lived for about a month after she found out, and it had already spread everywhere. she was not old. only 62 or 63 or so. she was my mom's little sister.

there were 10 children in my mom's family. five of them are dead. three of them died of various types of cancer. i hate that word. i hate that disease. i hate that God allows it to take people away from me.

i am driving to south carolina tomorrow to see my cousins. a handful of us who were joined by mothers who were sisters are now joined as cousins without moms. so, we will be together...the cousins. that is a good thing.

because we are not supposed to do life alone. we are supposed to do life together. especially the hard parts. it's all about community. i have lots of thoughts on that lately, and hopefully i can share them sometime soon.

stay tuned...

crickets, cicadas and dogs

it's almost 1:00 a.m. and
i am out on my screened porch
sitting in the big, oak, double rocker
listening to tonight's sounds.

it's august in virginia.
if you know anything about august
in virginia, you know about the humidity.
you know it's so thick you can hardly breathe.
you know it's so hot you don't dare step foot outdoors
unless you absolutely must.
when it's august in virginia
it's often 90 degrees at midnight.

well, not this august.
they're talking record lows this august.
i've stepped foot outdoors,
and it wasn't because i absolutely must.
i'm wearing jeans
and a long-sleeved shirt.
anything less and i'd be chilly,
wanting a blanket to curl up in!
at 1:00 a.m., it is 63 degrees outside.

this august, things are different in virginia.
all kinds of different in my life
and somehow, still the same.

i love nights like these.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

halfway through wednesday, first week in august

the last few weeks have been interesting, that's for sure! after meeting the ride:well team in roanoke, and learning about blood:water mission, i've had a renewed sense of passion for uganda and my friends over there and the ministries that they are involved in... clean water is something we take for granted here and it's so much more vital for good health that i think we realize...

i've also had a renewed sense of God in my life these past few weeks. i knew that spiritual things in my heart were desert dry...i guess i just didn't realize how long they had been that way. looking back, it probably started about a year-and-a-half ago, when my daddy died.

i've been thinking a lot about "purpose" in my life, and how what i do on a daily basis reflects this. the biggest part is probably figuring out what that purpose is, and it seems like it should be something big, and worthy, and noble, but i can't figure out a big, and worthy, and noble purpose for my life. i wrestled with this for a few days, and i finally realized/remembered that God doesn't usually show us the future of our lives, and somehow knowing the "big" purpose is kindof the same as knowing the "future" and i think few of us are fortunate enough to ever know what that is.

so my purpose, for now, is to be who God made me...the best me i can be, for Him...and to love the people in my life and show them that Jesus loves them and to remain in fellowship with Him (yes, even during the desert times). i feel fortunate that i have a sense that it's "raining" in my spiritual "desert" life, and i feel a renewed closeness with Jesus, not just as my savior, but also as my friend. i know he loves me...but you can love someone and not particularly LIKE them from time to time. lately, i feel like He actually likes me.

regarding purpose, i believe i'm right where i'm supposed to be, and when something is supposed to change...when different action is required...God will let me know. i don't have to have "big" purposes for my everyday.

Monday, July 21, 2008

blood:water mission

last night i drove to roanoke with my friend tim to meet the ride:well bike tour riders as they are raising money and awareness to build wells in africa to provide clean water. it's amazing. the video explains the mission...

many of you know that africa is a place i feel passionately about. i've been to uganda twice and i left part of my soul there. it's such a simple thing that we take for granted - water - but for many africans, just getting it is often a day's work. i'm sure i have way more to say about meeting the team last night, but for now, watch the video. then go to to give.

Saturday, July 19, 2008


the wild grape vines are taking over my side yard.
usually i ignore them.
just like i ignore the poison ivy on the other side of my side yard.
sometimes i glare at them from a distance.
yesterday, i glared at them up close,
as they appeared to be drowning another tree.

when i moved here, i was told that the trees on my side yard were plum trees.
the drowning tree, however, looks to me like a peach tree.
at least the leaves do.
there are no peaches on it.
probably because it was drowning.

so today, i put on my gardening gloves, picked up my loppers, and headed towards the wild vines.
i started by pulling.
did a bit of hacking.
lopped a couple of stubborn vines.
and did a lot more pulling.
and yanking.
and tugging.

there is a BIG pile of wild grape vines
on the ground in my yard now.
it could be bigger, but i did as much as i could
and cut some off down low,
that way i can pull them out more easily
when they've died.

on the other side of my yard i sprayed the poison ivy.
i sprayed about a month ago and it killed a lot of it off.
it takes about three weeks for the stuff to die.
but i hate it way more than the grape vines.
so good riddance.

after the grape vines, the loppers and i headed to the front.
i have these big, ugly, scraggly azaleas growing in front of my porch.
the flowers aren't even pretty when they bloom.
i want to dig them up and put them in the burn pile
(with the wild grape vines).
but several friends think that's not a good idea.
so i decided to trim them back...
give them some shape...
and give them a second chance.
i don't think their second chance is going to last
more than a week.
they're still ugly.

i want pretty flowers growing in front of my porch.
that's my plan.
it's a good one.

Saturday, June 21, 2008


i did more than nothing today...and i'm still not ready for sleep!

the pies look so pretty, and smell so good, and i can't wait to share them tomorrow! keith and mercedes and zahara and zebulun; ellen and garth; and tim and heidi and aaron, alisha and kyle are all coming over for lunch tomorrow! :) happy, happy me!!!

yesterday i opened some files on my computer that i had not opened in over a papa's genealogical files. family tree stuff. stories about my ancestors. stories about my mom and dad, written by my daddy. aunt joyce wanted to have copies of some of that stuff, so i opened it up and looked at it for maybe only the third time since papa died. we printed out just papa's side of the family, with names, dates, and stories, and it was nearly 500 pages long! so much information. so much family. it's a bit overwhelming when i think about it all. i come from such a long, amazing line of people, and still, at 41 years old, i'm already an orphan. aunt joyce told me today that to her, i'm like one of her kids. i'm glad about that. but somehow, tonight, it has intensified the "lonely" and "alone" of my life. this doesn't bother me often, but tonight, it kindof does.

i'm glad that tomorrow i will be with family. surrounded by lots of people. i hope that it doesn't mean i'll feel even more alone after they all leave, but it probably will.

the level of joy is proportionately as high as the level of pain is deep...

it is good to do nothing all day...then sleep!

i love summer vacation ! :)

today i am going to bake two rhubarb pies, with rhubarb from canada, using my grandma ludlow's recipe.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

so, it's been a while, hasn't it?

first i had a lot going on, then lots of nothing going on...but i'm back now :)

i finished the school year! the last couple of weeks were certainly filled to the brim, helping my students prepare for their s.o.l. tests (yes, that is really what they are called - it stands for "standards of learning" although what you're thinking as a definition for those three letters might more accurately describe the way they felt about the whole thing...!). after testing was over we were pretty much done teaching for the year, but still had 5 more days of school left. how do you occupy 7th graders when they know nothing else counts towards their grade for the rest of the year? that was not fun. but we made it through, with some math-related videos i found online, and lots of yearbook signing, and a couple of assemblies and a field trip to the north carolina zoo where it poured down rain all day long. then there was finishing final grades for the year and doing report cards and packing up and cleaning out my classroom. it's officially done, and i made it! i must say, i am HAPPY not to be going back to school next year.

i left town on the last day of school and headed east, to suffolk to visit karen and her family, and to va beach to see debbie and her family. i enjoyed days of sleep, laughter, sun, water, more sleep, more laughter, etc., etc., you get the idea. :) then i headed over the chesapeake bay, up the eastern shore, and i ended up in delaware to visit nikki (on her birthday) and her family. we had about three days of catching up to do, so we did! and then down to no va to see sandi and her family and (another) debbie and her family. traveling was a good way to celebrate the end of a long school year...

on june 10 i picked up my aunt joyce (dad's sister) from the airport and she has been here with me. this is her vacation and we have been hanging out here at mirembe hollow, reading, watching movies, talking, sleeping, putting puzzles together, working in the garden, sitting on the porch...basically anything that requires little to no thought and sounds like fun to us! :) she will be here until the 24th.

so i've officially lost 40.5 lbs. and am still feeling good! i've hit the part of the process where it is simply "slow and steady wins the race." i am still having trouble drinking as much liquid as i'm supposed to (no, alcohol does not count)! so i'm trying to make a purposed effort to drink more.

well, that's about it. you're all caught up now. have a peaceful day...

Saturday, May 17, 2008


i've been on "real food" for about two weeks now. i like real food. my first meal was at olive garden. i was craving something cheesy and pasta-y. i got five meals out of that one trip!

so i can basically eat anything i want, just less of it. the focus is on protein though. eat that first, and if there's room left over, i can fill it with something else. so do you know why the focus is on protein? because if i don't get enough, my hair will fall out. yep. not like i have enough hair to lose any. so, there's my motivation!

weight wise, i plateaued, i gained a little, i lost it again, and it's going down, much more gradually. but down is good. and slowly down is good too. i'm still losing centimeters and inches. i have no hips and i have no butt. never did. and that's causing problems in that i'm constantly having to hold my pants up. once they slide off the roundest part of me (my tummy), there is nothing there to keep them up!

i was feeling like my tummy was just not getting smaller at all, but i tried on a couple of blouses and sweaters that were previously too tight, and yea, they fit! :)


there are only two weeks of school left! i'm so so glad to be almost finished with the school year. so incredibly glad, that i'm pretty sure i'm not gonna do it again next year. i interviewed for the "teen living" (a.k.a. home ec) position for next year. there's NO way i'm doing math again next year. i should find out this week whether or not i got the job. and when they do offer me the job, i'll say...

Monday, May 05, 2008


i had my second follow-up visit today via phone. it went very well, as i expected it would. i got to start "real" food today, 4 days early! yipee!!! so of course i spent the day deciding what i wanted to eat for dinner tonight.

i picked olive garden, and went with two of my friends. i had two bites of salad, two small bites of breadstick, one small rigatoni (1 in. x 2 in.), and three medium shrimp. i'm happy as a clam! and stuffed, probably more than i should be, but oh, yum! of course i've got at least four more meals out of my leftovers!

still no weight change. this is why they tell us not to weigh ourselves every day. so i'm stopping. i won't weigh again until next week. my body is re-adjusting to food, and i'll give it proper nutrition in the mean time. i wasn't so good about that in my "former" life.

only three more instructional weeks of school and one "field trip, etc." week left! i can hardly wait!!!

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

it's been a week since my last post...

mostly because i feel there is no news...

well, not NO news, just not great news. i haven't lost any more weight since i started on "mushy" foods and i'm a little bummed about that. my clothes are still getting bigger though, so that's good. i talked to my friend suz who had similar surgery 6 years ago and she said that the same thing happened to her. since i've started back on real food (not just liquids), my body is still getting used to how much food it will be getting and my metabolism is adjusting. once it realizes that this is the way things are gonna be now, it will accept it, and then start dropping weight again. yea!

meanwhile, i will focus on my non-weight related successes! more clothes in the "give-away" pile.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

32 pounds and counting!

well, i can hardly believe it, but i am practically 1/3 of the way to my goal weight and it's only been 5 weeks! it seems unreal. in an amazingly good way. i know that there's still a ways to go. i'm up for it!

i got to start my soft-food stage today...two days early! yea! i had egg salad and chicken salad for dinner. of course they were "finely mushed". there are so many more options now! :)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

i think i can safely say

that winter is over.

i told someone this weekend that this blog was only about my surgery, and my healing. but i think i lied. i think it's more.

if i invited you here, and you chose to come, or if you've stumbled across this page of words and you keep reading, then it might be because you want to know me.

my style is unedited.

it's nice to see you here.

i made it through another winter. some of you know how hard this can be. i love the way books or movies, or sometimes a song, or just a line from a song can touch me. i just watched a quirky movie - dedication - and it touched me. i was about a very broken person, and a close friendship, a death, a winter, a cemetery, and a love.

i'm still waiting for that last one.
my love.

i've had my friendships.

and the past several years have been years of death.
mom. aunt ruth. dad. aunt margie. grandma.

the winters have been long. cold. dry. painful.

the cemetery is arlington, where the tombstones line up in perfect rows like trees in an orchard. but trees are alive. cemeteries are dead. cold. snowy. icy. sad. my heart breaks all over again when i go there, so i can't afford to go often. my heart, i've discovered, is still healing.

i want this to be my year. my year for physical healing. my year for emotional healing.
my year for love.

i don't want to be broken any more.

Monday, April 21, 2008

doing well

i had my follow-up appointment with my surgeon up in reston today. he said i'm doing extremely well. he's really proud of the progress i've made. my incisions are healing beautifully (don't worry, i won't make you look!). he gave me pictures of my surgery. don't worry, i won't make you look at those either! so i'm feeling incredibly great! i get to start eating "mushy" food this week and i'm psyched about that. this will be when i really find out what my "limits" are as far as how much i can eat. i need to be careful not to eat too much...that's what makes some people sick. so this next phase will be about me really listening to my body and stopping when it's full without taking another bite! i can do this!

i went to my old church yesterday and that was great. it was like going home, seeing so many of my friends. then went downtown and out with a couple of friends last night. i discovered that my "new" stomach is still going to let me have a drink every now and then, and i must say, i was happy about that too. :) that's not always the case after this surgery! of course, since there isn't much room, i certainly don't have to worry about too much alcohol!

i made it back to madison heights by 6:00 tonight. as good as it was to be back "north" hanging out with my friends, it's good to be home. back to school tomorrow...only six weeks left! :)

Saturday, April 19, 2008

i'm smiling again today...

feeling good. my total is 27 lbs., and it feels good!

i'm back up in no. va. this weekend, hanging with my friend debbie. today was decadently lazy, sleeping till 10:30 and then hanging at starbucks for an hour nursing a tall mocha. it's never taken me so long to drink such a small coffee before! :) i love it though... then we went shoe shopping...what girl doesn't love that?

i hit a lull around 5:30 and thought i needed a nap. i drank a protein shake, and that pepped me right back up again. i've had no pain meds since thursday and i'm doing great. i see the doc for my post-op follow up on monday (that's really why i'm up here) and i expect a glowing report! he will certainly be getting one from me!

i'm going back to my "home" church, gateway community church, tomorrow morning. no one knows i'm's a surprise! i'm so excited! :) i have so many friends will be so fun to be there!

life is good. my life is good, because God is good! and it just keeps gettin' better!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

okay, today kicked my butt.

it actually started yesterday afternoon.

you see, the pain meds i'm on have been known to "stop you up" after a while. that's not been a problem for me before, but this time, it had been about 5 days and i thought i better do something about it. the doc recommended milk of magnesia for it's mildness, so after i got home from school, i had a gulp. well... about an hour later i had the extreme opposite problem, and that lasted pretty much all night long and part way through today. not so fun with a classroom full of kids. needless to say, i'm feeling that all of my insides are cleaned out - what a way to detox!

so somewhere in the middle of last night's drama, i decided that i didn't need any more pain meds, i could "handle" the "discomfort", as it wasn't really "pain". just before lunchtime today, i came to my senses, popped another dose of meds, and felt much better for the remainder of the afternoon. i'm home now, but completely exhausted. and ready for another dose of meds. i always tell my friends, "your body can't spend it's energy healing your incisions when it's fighting pain. take the meds! there's a reason they gave them to you!" so i'm gonna take my own advice.

and then, i'm going to bed!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

school today went just problems at all!

i took pain meds in the morning, but didn't need to take any more throughout the day, so that was good. it's good to be home, resting, but that's usually the case, regardless of having had surgery! :)

i'm officially down 24 lbs! woo hoo!

Monday, April 14, 2008

i'm three days out of surgery

i decided to take today off since i didn't know how i'd be feeling, so i'm home.

i switched to a lower dose of pain meds this morning when i woke up. i didn't wake up as much in the night, and the pain was less severe. i'm still feeling really good! i anticipate that i'll be using just tylenol for pain tomorrow.

i've officially lost 20 lbs. i weighed 264 at my pre-op appointment on march 10th and today i weigh 244. sue, at dr. pinnar's office, took measurements of me at my pre-op, and i'll be seeing her next monday, april 21, for my post-op. i anticipate that she will measure me again, and i'm really eager to see those results! how my clothes fit is a much truer measure of progress than any scale!

i was able to start back on protein drinks yesterday. of course, they are much smaller than before! this helps to ensure that i get the proper nutrition i need.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

it's saturday night and i'm back home already!

surgery was friday morning, about 11am. the docs said i did really well. they said that my low carb/high protein liquid diet did exactly what it was supposed to, and shrunk my liver down nice and small so they had plenty of room to work. i got up to my room around 2pm and nana, my wonderful nurse, got me settled in with pain meds. i took a little nap and then got up for a walk down the halls. i was, and still am, amazed that i am not in more pain than i am.

i did quite a bit of walking today (they say it's really good for me). i was feeling so good that suzanne and i went to trader joe's to get some yummy soups for these next two weeks of liquids. then we stopped at target and got my scrips filled. and then we headed right on back down to lynchburg! i was home by 7pm. i took my pain meds, and i'm obviously feeling well enough to be hanging out, typing away on the computer!

thanks so much for all of your prayers...i am confident that is the reason i am feeling SO AMAZINGLY well! i don't look like i just had surgery. i'm able to walk at a normal pace. i've been able to drink plenty of liquids which is often very difficult during the first 2-3 days. God is orchestrating an amazing healing in my life and i'm so thankful and excited!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

it's thursday evening before surgery!!!

everything at school is ready for my sub tomorrow and monday. the teachers on my team sent me off for surgery with well-wishes for a speedy recovery and a thoughtful gift card. it's nice to know that i've made friends at my new school this year!

i have lots of folks praying for me...thank you!!!

i'm so excited. surgery is at 10:30 tomorrow morning...

i'm ready!

Saturday, April 05, 2008

surgery is six days away

i started my liquid, pre-op diet yesterday. i can have any liquids as long as i keep my carb intake at less than 50 grams, and my protein intake at more than 60 grams. the nurse said this would be the "hardest week of my life." i kindof blew it off, knowing that i can do this. i'm quite determined when i set my mind to it. so i found protein powder at gnc that has zero carbs and 50 gm of protein! yea! i got one in vanilla, and one in peach mango. from what i've read, one of the hardest things about this liquid stage is "taste fatigue." but i can still have my coffee, so how bad can it be, right?

so, i find myself excited about the surgery. excited about letting go of this clutter, this weight, this unhealthiness in my life. i'm excited, but the excitement doesn't make it easy. i'm ready to do this. i'm looking forward to doing this. i'm trying to prepare for the hard parts of doing this so i can be successful.

have you ever noticed how in your life there are things that are unhealthy? sometimes they are habits, sometimes weight, sometimes people. and even though you can rationally explain all of the reasons why you allow these unhealthy things, you know that they need to be removed from your life, but you still can't quite let go. there's a comfort in keeping things the way they are, or have always been. you know what to expect that way.

so, i'm going to let go of the comfort of knowing what to expect. this is my adventure. out with the unhealthy, in with the healthy. this is my season...

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

it's really going to happen... yes, today it seemed real!

i told a couple of friends i'd write about my lap-band experience, and here i am, as advertised.

it started back in december when i went to see my back surgeon. i'd experienced several months of physical therapy, lots of tests, and medicine to make it all bearable. the diagnosis is degenerative disc disease and the tests determined that the discs in my lumbar spine are shot. so surgery seemed inevitable, with fusion likely. dr. subach said he'd like to keep me "comfortable" with p.t. and meds for as long as possible since fusion is so permanent and i'm so young.

young. *smile*
i'm not old, but i look so much younger than my 41 years that middle-aged women still call me "dear".
(what exactly is middle-age?).

i know i've digressed. it's my story. i'm allowed!

anyway, prolonging the inevitable seemed to be the best solution, with hopes of fda-approved artificial discs coming out before the pain in my back demanded fusion. so i went for a visit to the good doctor (and his p.a.). these guys always make me smile. as we were chatting, i think i asked his professional opinion about weight-reduction surgery. i have three dear friends who've had such great results, and i'm so tired of losing weight, feeling good, (okay, not tired about that part, actually, but tired of) gaining it all back again, and feeling achy and "old".

the good doctor said, "i know a guy." as it happens, the guy he wholeheartedly recommends had the honor of removing my nasty gallbladder about four years ago! i took it as a sign. well, the docs are up in northern va, and i'm in southern va. i decided to stay with the best and called to make an appointment with dr. robert pinnar.

the consultation was positive, and i left with a little pile of things to read, tests to have done, etc., as i considered the possibilities. i told my family and friends that i was getting a new body for christmas this year, but it just hadn't come in yet! after phone calls to the insurance company, denial from the insurance company, more phone calls (they aren't covering, but i know it's still the right thing for me), lots of prayers and loans from two dear friends, i called to schedule my surgery.

my pre-op appointment is monday, march 10. today i had all of my tests done in preparation for that appointment. my morning started with a "barium swallow test" where i had to drink nasty, goopy, lumpy, chalky liquid while they took pictures of it coursing through my system. the gag reflex is strong, but i was stronger. with the morning off from school (thanks, amanda, for subbing for me), i swung by starbucks on the way to my next appointment. there, they did an ekg and took four tubes of blood.

the pre-op tests are done. the results will be delivered to dr. pinnar's office in time for my monday morning appointment (thanks, dee, for subbing for me monday!) and then it's only one more month until...

...april 11

that's the day of surgery, but it's not the day the ("new me"? no. i won't be new, thought there are elements of that. how about "former me"? no. there are elements of that too, but that's just not it. oh, i know...), that's the day the "healthy me!" gets a super boost! yes, the healing has already begun! so april 11 is not the beginning, it's just the shot of adrenaline that will help me keep moving in a positive, healthy direction!

i'm excited! it's actually going to happen! i got a healthy body for christmas, and they're about to deliver it!

Monday, January 28, 2008

five years later...

and i'm still here.
when i began this blog, it was to help me get through the long, blank days that kept on going after my mother died. it was alarming how i could just sit and stare and the walls for hours, doing absolutely nothing else. i could pass entire weekends that way. and writing was what kept me sane, when i could actually do it.

so it's been five years. here i am, back in the world of typing out my thoughts for anyone to see. in 5 minutes, it will be the one-year anniversary of my father's death.

it affected me much differently than my mother's did. mom and i were close. so close. we were so much more friend and friend than mother and daughter, although that is a bond closer than any other. and when i became her caregiver, our relationship grew in a whole new direction. she needed me. she relied on me. i did for her, as an adult, what she did for me as a baby. cancer ate her body from the inside, out. it was terrible. but when she died, she did so with grace and with peace. that probably sounds weird, but it's the honest truth.

after mom died, i stopped. just stopped. stopped living. stopped doing. stopped dreaming.

i was allowed, for a season, to live in a world where i stopped, but the world kept on going around me.

and bit-by-bit, i started living again. God brought purposes to my life. not big purposes. little purposes. bite-sized ones. things i could do without too much pain or effort. things i could succeed in. those purposes were closely related to people, and they were a critical part of re-discovering myself.

one of the people who had always been in my life, who had allowed me to stop so i could heal, who understood how much it hurt, was my papa. and who would have guessed that this man who had known me every second of my life would become such an important part of it?

how many girls get to be grown-up friends with their daddies? not very many, i think. i was one of the lucky ones. would i have had this blessing, this treat, if my mom were still alive? probably not. i told papa once that the one and only blessing i could think of that came out of mom's death was that he and i got to be friends.

i miss him.

one year ago, january 29th, i was on the road between kampala and kabale, uganda when i got a phone call saying that he died. he had a seizure. it was unexpected. he was healthy. he was only 70 years old. and just like that, he was gone.

my last words to him, as i was leaving for the airport for a two-week missions trip, were, "i love you, papa!" he smiled at me, and said, "mmm, i love you too."

i hope to share some stories of the adventures papa and i had during those five years after mom went to heaven. right now, my abba is with his Abba, and i have to believe that i've got two daddies looking down, taking care of their little girl.


"it is good to remember that we need each other greatly, you and i, more than much of the time we dare to imagine, more than most of the time we dare to admit." - fredrick buechner

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