British Home Child Day on September 28

The snow has been coming down steadily since last evening and this morning there was a thick blanket.  It’s beautiful, but it is also a bit overwhelming as one anticipates the many months of darkness and cold.

The weekend, however, held many blessings.  I spent the past months contacting people, media and organizations about the importance of recognizing that on September 28th each year, we are to remember and recognize over 100,000 children who were brought to Canada to serve as indentured servants across the nation.  My great grandfather was one.  This year marks 150 years since the arrival of the first of these children.

Those who know me are familiar with my story, but I really did want to share the images of a special event that local descendants of BHC hosted at the Forest Lawn Public Library, yesterday afternoon.  It was a blessing to meet so many more descendants and to chat with them after the presentations and during the exhibition.

I really enjoy my friendships in this group, including Bruce, Hazel, Connie, Donna and Anna and really appreciate all of their hard work and their dedication.  I am also grateful to my daughter, Erin, who attended but who also dragged chairs around, assisting where she could and Kelly, Hazel’s daughter, for her wonderful support in loading, displaying and just generally being helpful and included.

Five descendants shared their family narrative with the large group of people who came out on a dreary bad-weather day.  Every generation was represented and questions were thoughtful and engaged the panel.  There was lots of time for socializing and connecting with one another.   A very special artifact for the group in Western Canada, of course, is the Memory Quilt that was lovingly constructed by Hazel.

As I drove home late in the afternoon, I felt grateful for the presentations and grateful for the people I worked with.

In the evening, I turned on my porch light, but unlike other nights, I took a moment to pause and think about the injustice that was perpetrated on so many innocents.  I hope to, over time, help in educating the public about this part of Canada’s history.

The Beacons of Light, in recognition of 150 years included the lighting of the Calgary Tower and last night’s lighting of Reconciliation Bridge.  Thanks to Bruce Skilling for his photograph of the bridge.

Photo Credit: Bruce Skilling

Photo Credit: Bruce Skilling

 

If you would like to be included in our contacts, have any questions at all or would like to suggest venues and activities, we’d love to hear from you.  You may contact me through this blog or through the e mail connected to this blog.  We also invite you to peruse our Facebook page, although our group is primarily made up of descendants living in the west.  We are most agreeable to helping you with your research questions.

Finally, I will try to post Mayor Naheed Nenshi’s remarks.

BHCGI British Home Child Group International 2019 (2)

Reconciliation Bridge lit up for the Sunflower, symbol for the BHC and Child Migrants Photo Credit: Bruce Skilling

Waiting for permission to use two other photographs of Beacons of Light.

Yogas chitta vritti nirodhah

Yoga is stilling the fluctuations of the mind”

This, borrowed directly from a beautiful relation’s blog post this morning.

Several events unfolded yesterday that were totally out of my control.  These events did NOT happen to me, but happened to two of my children.  As every mother knows, when things spin out of control for a child, it is a natural outcome to want to swoop in and save them from the experience and the outcome.  Even at not intervening yesterday, I was thrown into a ‘spazz’, as Alyssa writes.  I haven’t learned in life to ‘still the fluctuations of my mind’…but as I read these bits this morning, I certainly can see the value in doing so.

So, thank you for the words and as this morning feels full of calm, it is easier for me to look back over yesterday, with a clear perspective.  I am thankful for conversations with Adrienne and with Karen.  I am grateful for the engaged presence of Shawn.  I am thankful for a full night of sleep.  It is a celebration that I rolled over and looked at my clock lit up in the darkness of morning, to discover that indeed, I had slept until 6:30, instead of a week-long frustration of 2:00 am wake ups.  I apologize that I went a little off grid yesterday and was a grumpy-pants with some of the peeps in my life.  Today is a new day.  And I hope that when, next time, there are circumstances beyond our/my control, that I will climb up onto that strong branch and look down upon the situation, with a degree of separation.

The Bald Eagles have left their typical routines at the edge of the Bow River and both juveniles are absent.  It is very quiet as autumn approaches.  Here are the last photographs of Mr. who after a summer of raising two juveniles on his own, is remarkable and held, by me, in high regard. Here are the last photographs of the juvenile that really resisted leaving his home, the nest and its territory.

Mornings are darker and the sun fades earlier.  I am experiencing some loss of the rich sights and sounds of summer.  With the full moon, I feel that I am entering the next season and I am assured that it, also, will be beautiful.

I’ve received some recent e mails from my friend that fill me to the brim with the love of nature.  It is interesting and I do contend that one needn’t go very far in order to enter into the mysteries of the natural world.  And so, I share these words, without permission to illustrate that point.  (sorry, friend)

One day. “You would have liked the view from my kitchen window. As I unloaded my groceries I thought of you.  Blue jays came calling.  Flying among the shrubs and trees.  Perhaps finishing off the few apples, raspberries and saskatoons that are still on the branches.  If i took pictures there could have been some good ones.”

Another. “So, I cleaned bathrooms, quick vacuum, suppers ready and now im going to watch tennis.  But this morning there were lots of robins.  Don’t they leave, shouldn’t they be gone.  And a couple of flickers eating ants in my lawn, good thing, but they do stir up the roots, not so good.”

And finally. “Went out to my gardens today with the intentions of moving some lilies around.  My tiger lilies in front are too tall and some Asiatic in the back get hidden.  Planted them with good planning at the time, i thought, but the ways of gardening you need to change things.  However, the ground was a bit too wet.  Did pick mushrooms, again, in my lawn.  Heard Mr. Hole the other day say mushrooms in the lawn are a good thing!

Deadheaded a few perennials and cut down most of my delphiniums as the leaves have now turned brown.

Lots of perennials still in bloom, fall asters beginning to blossom.   Sending a couple of pics.  My primula is back in bloom again.  It is one crazy plant, blooms for about 3 months in spring, rests for a couple and then starts again.  None of my other primulas do this.  So, don’t know if its location or variety and of course haven’t the tag anymore.  Even with the summer blooms gone there is still so many shades of green to enjoy.

And, wished you were here to identify a bird that was out the whole time with me.  Googled and think it was a downy woodpecker.  Cant say I’ve ever seen one in my yard like that before.  White breast, black and white feathers and no everyone is was not a magpie.  Rat a tat tat on my bamboo stakes the whole time.  Bamboo is strong, I would have thought its beak would get sore.

Still lots of robins and blue jays in the gardens.  And everyday a lone flicker comes to eat the ants.  Wonder if it is the same one and why doesn’t it tell its friends to come feast at my place.  So, I have put up with ants and aphids in hopes that the birds can live without my use of pesticides.”

I feel blessed with the beauty of these descriptions of ordinary moments, that truly ARE extraordinary!  Thank you, friend, for taking me to the peaceful sanctuary of your garden through words.

Now, I’m posting just a couple of your photographs, without permission.  Get back to me if you wish me to remove any/all of your creative material.  I’m celebrating your connection with nature and the beauty of your garden this morning.

Photo Credit PT

Photo Credit: PT

Today, I’m going to try to be more mindful.  I’m going to demonstrate calm.  I hope that I can be here, in a healthy capacity, for those who need me.

Light and Cake

Happy Birthday, Nigel!!

I’m doing some back-peddling.  I’ve not been much for writing the past week or so, but I’m pulling out of the doldrums.  (Maybe because of the seven hours of sleep last night.)  I have no idea.  I’m just going with the ebb and flow.  I’m being grateful.  I began the day with a short Vimeo shared on social media by artist, Tim Schumm.  He’s been quite the adventurer in life and when I see his photographs, paintings and such, I feel a real connection with the more adventurous spirit that was my youth.

This is the video he shared.  If you have 16 minutes, watch it.  It made a difference for me today.

I felt a change inside at the conclusion of the movie.  I made a decision to be more patient and to be grateful.  Additionally, I decided to focus on kindness.  So, where yesterday, I felt a tad ‘flat’, today I gained purpose.  I also felt prepared to celebrate the lives of those who have died over the past few years without focusing on missing them.  And so, I feel as though today I was going somewhere instead of traveling nowhere…I felt, a little bit, as though I had left the doldrums.

And so, I sit to write…

Happy Birthday, Nigel!  August 23rd…and we are so grateful you were born!  Former student of mine, smart cookie, amazing chef, artiste-extraordinaire, husband to beautiful and big-hearted Angela, philosopher, literary scholar, gamer, connoisseur of music, all round good person….we are so grateful you were born!  This evening, I am celebrating our friendship.

Thank you, Angela, for the lovely barbecue in Nigel’s honour.

Tribute to a Friend

“Later I will tell him: our courage comes out in different ways. We are brave in our bold dreams but also in our hesitations. We are brave in our willingness to carry on even as our pounding hearts say, “You will fail and land on your face.” Brave in our terrific tolerance for making a hundred mistakes. Day after day. We are brave in our persistence.”
― Kyo Maclear, Birds Art Life: A Year of Observation

My dear friend, Bobbie, lived bravely, passionately and his spirit transcends everything that bound him to the earth…I love you and my life has been incredible because you have been here for me…for us.  No words for now, but I’ve sipped coffee this morning in the quiet of the house, Max at my feet, revisiting our friendship.  These are, in part, moments along the way.  But, we spent most of our friendship looking out at others and beauty.  So, I can not possibly share all of the immensity of that.  Know that you were loved, my beautiful Bob.

ACAD third year…and we gathered to celebrate spring.  I will forever be grateful for meeting you.

After meeting you, you were a part of every celebration.  My children love you.  My friends love you.  And we became family, all of us.

Bob is found written into so many journal pages…a few appear in this post.

I will let Ed know…

Gatwick Airport, before the train.

Oh, the places we have seen!  Angel Glacier, beautiful hikes…so many hikes…walks…galleries…Paris, Giverny, London…Argenta…road trips…books, art, family, friends.

I am blessed for having Liz, Janet, Bronwyn, Peter, Artemis, Cedar…I am blessed for the circle of love.

Two Ladies and a Little Boy Go Tenting: July 30, 2019

The morning I took my tent over to set up in my grandson’s back yard was the last day I saw Mrs. alive at the river.  I didn’t know it then, but the female Bald Eagle’s beautiful and peaceful time with me at the Bow River’s edge would be her last and so I will always treasure the archive of photographs my readers might enjoy, here.

I kind of chuckle about that sentence as I leave it behind in my first paragraph, imagining that anyone at all might read the thoughts or passage of time shared by a 64 year old woman.  I feel some days as though I am still a young girl who marvels at the beauty and rich loam of the mysterious gully across from my home on Market Street.  I don’t feel different and yet so many years and so many places have gone by!

When in doubt about how a camping trip might be arranged between a Gramma and her Grandson, it is best not to let the logistics interfere with the experience, and so, sometimes you just have to go ahead and make things happen.

Little did I know that a tent would simply provide yet another way for trucks and diggers to be celebrated.  In the tent we went with the big yellow trucks…and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

Thank you, Linda, for our tea and snacks. Steven and I headed out to a very busy construction site.   Once returned, Gramma rolled up her sleeping bags and packed up her tent and was on her way.  A call for severe thunderstorms that afternoon, made this call, the safe call.

The river is no longer silty and the clarity of the water in the morning, allowed beautiful hues of turquoise and green to shine through.  Max is always my trusted companion on these early morning walks.

First things first…the fly sheet goes down.  ‘Say fly sheet, Steven.’

‘Fly Sheet’.


There was an orangy-yellow glow to everything that evening at the river.  I watched two beaver for almost a half hour before walking north west and finding Mrs. quietly observing her world from above.  That night I confirmed that her talons on the left had damage.

 

Many Springs 2019

A beautiful walk and picnic today at Many Springs with my dear friends and family.  Throughout the hike, I was thinking about our sister-friend, Wendy, who died this past year.  I also thought deeply about my brother, John. His son was able to join us on this Father’s Day and I felt such heart ache for him.  I didn’t talk about anything that was going through my head though, and instead, made a real effort to frame my thoughts around internal monologues such as,

Wendy would say…

“This day is incredible.”

She would say…

“This picnic is fabulous.”

My brother would say…

“Thank you, Sis.”

I held a lot in today, but that’s alright.

In past years, whenever one of us would pop our heads out of the shade of some bush, asking, “What is this one?”,  Wendy would come back quickly with the name of the flower, or would look it up in her reference information.”  We are always going to miss this and so much more.

I’m grateful for the rituals that we share and for the many memories we have collected, as friends and family.  While I didn’t allow the emotions to surface, I felt them all and that too, is very special.

Some of the brilliance of this day is captured in these photographs, but not all.  We all missed our friend, Darlene, today.  She was also in our hearts.

Many Springs 2007

Many Springs 2011

Many Springs 2012

In 2013, the great flood occurred and my mother died after a long struggle with Alzheimer’s disease.  I went home in June in order to stay with my father through the following months.  I watched the news of the flood from Belleville, Ontario.

Many Springs 2014

Many Springs 2015

Many Springs 2016

I didn’t take a photograph of the Sweetvetch (Hedysarum (sweetvetch) is a genus of the botanical family Fabaceae, consisting of about 200 species of annual or perennial herbs in AsiaEuropeNorth Africa, and North America.) that was dominating the walk today, but just now read that its roots are a very common and well-loved source of food for Grizzlies.

We didn’t spot any Western Wood Lilies today or Bracted Bog Orchids.

 

Yellow Lady’s Slippers

Blue Columbine

Aromatic Juniper

Wild Violets

Dodecatheon pulchellum, commonly known as pretty shooting star, few-flowered shooting star, dark throat shooting star and prairie shooting star, is a species of flowering plant in the primula family Primulaceae.

Paintbrush

Western Anemone

Losing Isabelle

*ALERT  this is a personal post.  If personal posts make you squirm, go no further.  While this post digresses at points, from its subject, this is what losing a person does to another.  Loss causes people to evaluate and re-evaluate mostly everything. Grief acknowledges in everyone, their humanity, both as it applies to the person who has died and as it does to the people left behind.

Since my brother died, this is what my family room work station looks like.

The Milk-Bone box contains treasures for a very special friend who was enduring invasive surgery at the same time as John was settling in at home, for as long as he could remain, as was his wish.  In tandem with these two life-jolting experiences, a dear friend of mine died, leaving me absolutely crushed.  Wendy was a huge strength for her circle of friends and for me and we were left, devastated. I continue to hold her husband and daughter in my quiet prayers.  I still have not posted that parcel.  It has, however, left the upstairs dining table, moved to the coffee table and then found its way here.

The photographs…well, I am meticulous about archiving and these are all that remain of the former stacks and stacks of loose photographs, a project in documentation that I began in 2007.  Apart from these, all photographs are sorted and stuck into over twenty albums containing archival paper.  All photographs, apart from those my readers see here, are documented.  Something about losing my oldest brother, set this chaos in motion.

Something clicked inside of me.  I don’t know if it was a click-on situation or a click-off situation, but, I’m just accepting what it has become.  A positive example is the switch that was turned on and found me back in my studio, painting.  And for this, I am very grateful.

Now, about losing Isabelle. (I am still ill-prepared to write a tribute for my brother, but one day, I will).  This is not a tribute to Isabelle as such, but a heartfelt response to the news that my first born has lost her Granny and I have lost a friend.

With the news about Isabelle’s death early on Thursday morning, I pulled the albums dated ‘late 1970s’ off of the shelf and I noticed an obvious absence of bric a brac or photographs.  This caused me an immediate sadness. I am left, in my mind, at least, experiencing loss (again) and want to reflect upon my time with Isabelle.  I find visual images really help me with that when I can not conjure up pictures in my head.  In this case, I have nothing to look at.

Through the loss of marriage and the pain of divorce, in anger and fear and incredible loss, it appears that I cut a chunk of my life away.  It looks very much like I did not have a camera, but I’m pretty certain I did.  If we look back at our lives, some of us selectively edit them, don’t we?  I think that is what is so interesting about memory.  We might, even to others, exaggerate a story of a memory that is particularly sharp within us.  Or, we might interpret the events in a slightly different way, forgetting related sadness or retelling in a way that might be more complimentary of our own behaviours.   Don’t we always, as characters in our own lives, wish to be viewed in best light?  Historical fiction is, by far, my favourite genre for just this reason.

One day I’ll write down the story about how I arrived at the place where I fell in love with and married Isabelle’s son.  Certainly, it is a story that even my dearest may not know.  But for this moment, and for the purpose of this reflection, I want to aim this ship toward the subject of Isabelle.

I have, in my belongings, only two photographs of Isabelle as I remember her in 1979.  I am sharing one of them here.

This photo is not, nor will it ever be framed and sitting on a mantel.  But, it represents a moment of complete and utter happiness, a wintry night in 1979.  And Isabelle was there.

She held concern for me and did her best to take care of me.  In those years, we had very little and with her first grandchild on the way, Isabelle would appear at the door to our basement suite and pad pad pad down the stairs, arms filled with bags of groceries.  She welcomed us to many beautiful meals and shared in her traditions of Christmas baking.

It was Isabelle who showed me how to buy vegetables in bulk and who canned with me at my small gas-burning stove.

Once we welcomed my daughter into our family, Isabelle was a remarkable Granny and their bond remained incredibly close right up until the late hours of June 5th.  I find myself writing and deleting/writing and deleting so many acts of love that Isabelle demonstrated along my journey.  I suppose I want to keep them close to my heart and alive in my own memory.

I am grateful that my daughter has always put her family first and equally treasures her husband’s family.  This is a quality to be deeply admired in today’s world.  Bonding with family creates a fabric of love that is strong and endures pain and hardship.

With the loss of my marriage, Isabelle continued to embrace me.  We were able to continue to visit and to share laughs.  I will always be grateful for that.  We were two women who loved my daughter with an insatiable love and that will never go away.

I am very sad for Isabelle’s loss.  I pray for her family at this time and for her dear friends who enjoyed her company over all of these years.  Isabelle will have lessons to teach me through the coming days.  I will watch for them.

The first of these lessons is to, even in your pain, keep those photographs.  Put them in the albums.  It is too late to write characters out of the script of your life.  Shut the covers of the album and tuck them away, but know that one day, these will matter to you.  And you will be filled with a wisdom that carries you beyond resentment.

The river’s high this time of year.

 

 

Simple Gestures of Love

So many gestures have been made for me and my family the past while.  I don’t want to forget any of them.  As I set out on the journey of another day…the journey of an hour…I am taking pause for reflection.  I am saying, Thank You.

When everything slows down…becomes more simple…I notice more.  I see the love and the detail that goes into simple things and simple gestures of love; right down to the way a package is wrapped.

IMG_9119IMG_9120IMG_9121IMG_9122IMG_9123IMG_9124

 

 

A Morning at the River: March 4, 2019

Life is both brutal and beautiful.  It is impossible to sift out the bits, and take only the ‘good’ bits..  And while some contend that you can choose happiness, I beg to differ.  Life is about the entire spectrum of what life brings.  Some days, you just step out in faith.  Some days there is a bitterness that the warmth can not permeate, but you step out anyway.  This morning, was one of those for me.  And, look!  Mr. was waiting with a striking bunch of Magpies, with a brilliant blue sky as their backdrop.  Never before have I heard a Bald Eagle making sounds with the breaking of bones, much like you might here from a dog chowing down on a soup bone.  It was an amazing experience.

Though we need to weep your loss,
You dwell in that safe place in our hearts,
Where no storm or night or pain can reach you.

Your love was like the dawn
Brightening over our lives
Awakening beneath the dark
A further adventure of colour.

The sound of your voice
Found for us
A new music
That brightened everything.

Whatever you enfolded in your gaze
Quickened in the joy of its being;
You placed smiles like flowers
On the altar of the heart.
Your mind always sparkled
With wonder at things.

Though your days here were brief,
Your spirit was live, awake, complete.

We look towards each other no longer
From the old distance of our names;
Now you dwell inside the rhythm of breath,
As close to us as we are to ourselves.

Though we cannot see you with outward eyes,
We know our soul’s gaze is upon your face,
Smiling back at us from within everything
To which we bring our best refinement.

Let us not look for you only in memory,
Where we would grow lonely without you.
You would want us to find you in presence,
Beside us when beauty brightens,
When kindness glows
And music echoes eternal tones.

When orchids brighten the earth,
Darkest winter has turned to spring;
May this dark grief flower with hope
In every heart that loves you.

May you continue to inspire us:

To enter each day with a generous heart.
To serve the call of courage and love
Until we see your beautiful face again
In that land where there is no more separation,
Where all tears will be wiped from our mind,
And where we will never lose you again.

 

Tribute to a Friend

I asked Wendy, about a month ago, if I might write about her on my blog.  She said, “Well, what is there to write about?  But, yes, sure. That would be fabulous.”  ‘Fabulous’ was something that Wendy said…about good food, beautiful places, and even about a wild flower found along a trail.  As I pour over the myriad of wildflower images that I snapped along our various walks and hikes over the years, I selected these two because today, they seem to mark my feelings best and capture the magic of what a true friend is. The first flower is a wild orchid. We were always so excited when we spotted a variety of orchid….typically hidden and not very showy…just remarkably beautiful and tucked away in some rich loam under a bush, usually in the shade.

Yesterday morning my sister-friend slipped out of this world and moved mysteriously into the next…and she did this without ever seeing my words written down.

I’ve decided to sit with thoughts of Wendy this morning, while the sun shines bright on the snow.  Somehow it feels warmer today.

I attended the concluding evening of a church mission that was hosted in our parish last evening, prayed for the peaceful repose of Wendy…for the journey that my brother is taking…for my family and dear friends.  The priest shared something interesting, once finishing up the Gospel reading about service…the one that’s read every Holy Thursday about Jesus bending down and washing his disciples’ feet… he said, serving one another does not always mean saying a whole lot…sometimes it means just sitting and being with the other.  So, this morning, I’m sitting with thoughts of Wendy and I’m not going to say a whole lot.

There will be a whole number of people who over the coming days and weeks, months and years, will talk about Wendy’s accomplishments because she was indeed, an accomplished woman, coach, teacher, political force to be reckoned with, orator, curriculum writer, baker, crocheter, wife, cadet…she was all of that and more, but this morning as I contemplate why the huge ache in my heart, I realize that it was the enduring presence that is Wendy, the friend, to me that I most celebrate.  So, I will not let this post be about anything but that, her love and wisdom and friendship.  What I wish to most strongly communicate is Wendy’s courage and fortitude and extreme vulnerability…those qualities that Wendy gave through her presence with me and with our group, affectionately named the Ya Ya sisterhood.

The other sisters; Val, Darlene, Carla and Cathy; had the blessed opportunity to work with Wendy some years before our first meeting.  It was Val who invited me to join in the regular gatherings with her circle of friends in order to enjoy food, drink, lively conversation and a hot tub now and then at Darlene’s.  I was a very vulnerable person at the time, digging deep in order to stay afloat, raising three children on my own, all the while trying to do a great job as a teacher. I am forever-grateful for the friendships that were established at the time and how they have continued to change my life for richness of experience, knowledge and love.

Our activities included regular hiking, gourmet dining hosted by Wendy and her husband Darren and wonderful daughter, Becca…basement movie gatherings and themed photo opportunities.  We consumed, voraciously, the times we had together, always rallying around the person(s) who was/were feeling most overwhelmed at the time, offered genuine support to one another, invaluable advice and resource-sharing.  Wendy gave me confidence.  She also had one heck of a sense of humour.  She was a straight-shooter and never muted a point.  Her determination and will was contagious.  We have, over the years, all benefited from her drive and her commitment.

Wendy had an ability to roll with the punches.  She lightly jested that she was much like a unicorn because her health matters that gradually grew to be insurmountable were uniquely challenging.  I admired how hard she pushed against every obstacle and I was inspired by the strength of her family and the love that the three of them shared.

On Monday, I sat watched Wendy enjoy a bowl of Thai Soup while I ate a Greek Salad in the Fanning Center cafeteria.  It was all so ordinary.  We said ordinary things with one another.  And, I’ve decided that this is what life is, a long string of ordinary moments.  It is right to enjoy each of those.  A cup of ice.  Saying hello to the other person in the elevator.  Advocating for support.  Leaning down for that embrace at “Good-bye”.  Laughing at the ritual of asking a complete stranger to take a photograph…

Late that night, my cell phone rang…I didn’t get it in time.  It was Wendy’s number on my phone.

I called back and Wendy didn’t pick up. I’ll always wonder what Wendy might have said.  More than anything, I will remember.

Oh what a treasure to have shared the mountain air with Wendy…fabulous food…nice drinks on a back deck, laughing and talking and looking up at the stars.  I will love you always, dear friend…and nothing will take these years from me.

It is 4:00 in the afternoon, on Valentine’s Day.  It has been a blessing to look over photographs and to think about all of the wonderful times we have enjoyed.  Good-bye, good and faithful servant.

These images are a small sampling and many moments are buried in my archives or sitting on some one else’s camera…but these offer the gist of a remarkable friendship.

Hikes:

Kath's Canon June 28, 2015 Flower Walk 073

 

 

 

Food…

 

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