Category Archives: personal life stuff

Lots of stuff going on….

As usual, June is flying by. Between MisCon and 4th of July, it always seems like I’m flying around getting things wrapped up for the end of the school year and then jumping into summer stuff. It’s no different now that I’m working online instead of in a classroom. OTOH, I’m less tired from working online, so that’s a win.

The late spring meant we’ve been dragging on getting the garden running and getting in the wood. But at last, we got the garden finished off in early June and it is happily growing at our friend S’s place in Clatskanie. This past week in Enterprise, we did get two loads of wood hauled, plus horse show stuff…

But there’s so much to blog about and I keep putting it off because, well, who wants to spam the linkage? I’m thinking now that I need to write some things but just not publish them. The alternative is not blogging at all…and I am discovering that I really don’t like that option, either.

So yeah. Time to start writing blog posts and timing them. I will post one soon talking about the two short pieces I have available on preorder right now. I also want to post about politics, because I’m contemplating a few things. I also want to write and post something about a few things I’ve been considering about writing process that has solidified to some extent by now. And then I also want to blog about the horse.

Meanwhile, I’m putting this one up. Hopefully we’ll see a flurry of posting soon.

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A breather between stories

It seems like I’ve been flying around dealing with stuff since Netwalking Space got finished, not all of it about the writing. Among other things, I had the day jobbe online work to keep me busy for three days this week, and then I participated in a book giveaway which ended up giving me a rather nice addition to my email list. Good stuff to do, but time-consuming.

And then there was the day lost to stomach objections. This happens once in a while, and it laid me flat for a whole day. Ugh. But the weather has turned, and I’m thinking a lot about writing stuff and art stuff as we’re getting close to bazaar season. IOW, STUFF.

On the other side of things, the Portland house is now mostly painted except for touch-up work. It’s pretty, but not as nice as the Enterprise house (IMO).

One of the things that happened last weekend was a second go-round at the Wallowa Valley Farmers Market in Joseph. I sold a couple of books and discovered in conversation that I am most likely THE science fiction and fantasy writer in Wallowa County. So, hmm. That makes for a nice piece of publicity–Wallowa County’s Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer.

And then there’s the election. Please, dear God, can it just go away? I have this dreadful feeling that 2016 is going to be too damn much like 1980 and 2000 for my liking, including the almost-20-year bit. Either that or 2016 is going to be a nasty set-up for major ugliness in 2020. Neither really works for me. Yes, I know it’s probably extinction burst of some attitudes, and we do seem to be making progress, but really. I’m fed up with the Purity Brigade on the left that whines and fusses about their presidential election choices, but doesn’t do squat in between those presidential years to organize and put together some real grass roots forces for significant change from the bottom up. I’ve spent too damn much time on Facebook griping at people who clearly haven’t spent time in the political trenches, can’t be bothered to do political organizing, but don’t like their choices.

If you don’t like your party’s choices? Then DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. Get involved.

But for God’s sake, with the Supreme Court at stake, don’t mouth sanctimonious platitudes about how your vote really isn’t going to get Trump elected if you decide that Jill’s your girl because HRC ain’t pure enough. For the record–you’re wrong. And don’t whine at me that you don’t like any of your choices if you haven’t spent time working for candidates at the local level and put in time organizing. Look, damn it. I worked for Jerry Brown in 1992. I tried to collaborate with people in the 90s to bring about some significant organizing change. The same people moaning about the Clintons being centrists and dragging the Democrats to the right had NO INTEREST in doing the grunt work to change things from the bottom up. The strategy of voting third party to bring about change is worthless, and only gives power to the 1%. Period.

Ah well, hopefully all will be well in November. But I’m worried. And I’m tuning out a lot of politics because I know how I’m voting, I’m not changing my vote, and there are too many people I know who seem to have lost all common sense when it comes to Trump. ARRGH.

And with that, I’m done with the political rants. Oh well, it’s helped me figure out who I don’t want to deal with on Facebook. Sigh.

We do have the prospect of a pretty hunting season ahead. I’m hoping it will be cooler and feature fewer yellow jackets, as I’d just as soon be able to sit down and eat without having to resort to the pickup cab. Or do reading or writing work in camp without having to hide in the pickup cab. Or manage deer/grouse carcasses without having to fight the yellow jackets. One sting this year is plenty.

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On the way through winter

I’ve kind of fallen behind on posting chapters for Netwalk’s Children and Pledges of Honor, but I have to wonder just how many people are seriously following along. It’s hard to say, but at least posting what I have has kept me going on the blog. It’s not that I don’t have things to write–I have lots–but between writing essays, taking a class, and doing stuff as well as keeping up with the horse, I find myself at the end of the day thinking that there’s things I should have been scribbling on the blog but haven’t. Oh well, that’s the way it flows.

The house in Enterprise is proving to be quite cozy. The other day I felt totally crappy and wanted to lie down and read. It was a snowy day, so I opened the bedroom curtains and lay in bed, read, and looked up to watch the measured drift of snowflakes. We’ve not had a heavy snow since mid-December, and temps have been hovering around freezing. Perfectly tropical. But we’ve been getting occasional snow showers, enough to keep the depth at about three inches here and close to a foot out in the pasture at the barn. It was quite comfy and cozy lying there and reading with snowflakes. Yeah.

I’ve called this place a hobbit house, and considering it’s kind of built into the hillside, yeah, I guess it is. In any case, even when the temps have been down around 0 F, we’ve kept warm with just our little soapstone wood stove. We let the fire burn down at night, but even in the 0s it doesn’t get cold enough for the furnace to kick in (set at 60). Guess the triple-paned windows and additional insulation makes a big difference, as well.

We have a handful of mule deer hanging around the house. Don’t see them every day, but often enough to know they’re our local crew. At least one is a little buck. When I saw him the other day he’d lost one antler. The muleys look good and healthy in this neighborhood, but a handful that hang out down the street look rough and not-so-good. The whitetails don’t appear to be quite as healthy as the muleys.

Then we had a flock of about twenty quail move through. They first clustered around the base of the pine tree, then found the grain I’d scattered for the birds and scratched it up quite effectively. Another big flock is hanging out at the barn. They’re awfully cute.

Mocha is wintering well. I think she’s continuing to put weight on. I can’t see ribs on her, even after riding with her coat packed down. The cold doesn’t appear to bother her, neither does getting damp. She’s looking relaxed and happy, and marches right out when I saddle her up for a ride in the snow. We’re talking about digging out the horse trailer and hauling her to an indoor arena once a week to start legging her up for spring riding. I just have to overcome my nerves about driving on packed snow and ice. Everyone else does it, so I just need to adapt as well.

I’m putting together some ideas for craft work. I’m not certain how well it will work but I’m going to be playing with things. I’ve also come across some inexpensive books and will be reviewing them.

Overall, we’re just having a quiet January. I have a nasty IBS flare popping up that apparently was triggered by drinking holiday dairy-free nog with stevia. Apparently stevia and I don’t get along. Who knew? I’m also taking an online class to renew my teaching license, putting together a memoir/Self-Publishing for Beginners course for the spring, and venturing into creative nonfiction. I’m also plugging away on the first draft of Beyond Honor.

Which, to follow that line–Pledges of Honor is selling well while Netwalk’s Children isn’t moving at all. Sigh. But yay. I knew that Pledges has a market. Non-European setting fantasy with a strong female lead? You betcha. But still, it makes me sad for Children. On the other hand, who knows what could happen in a year or two?

So that’s enough for today’s ramble. See you all later.

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Of Wind, and Grass, and Fire….

Too many years ago I wrote a review of Norman Maclean’s Of Young Men and Fire, about the deaths of fourteen firefighters in Mann Gulch in 1949, using the title above. I was experimenting with a particular voice, thinking about trying to break into creative nature writing. That little review is one of the pieces I kinda like, more of a mood piece reacting to the work rather than an out-and-out review where I mused on the likelihood that those of us going out to the woods could get caught in a similar situation.

And then the thing hit the street on July 5th 1994. The day before fourteen firefighters on the South Canyon fire on Storm King Mountain in Colorado died in similar circumstances as the firefighters in Mann Gulch. The timing rocked me back a wee bit, but I guess it only had a meaning for me as we went camping through another dry, hot summer with high fire danger.

Time passed. We got too busy to do a lot of camping, and started focusing on other things. Woodland fire was a concern but only as it affected specific events, plus we went through several cool summers.

Now we’re back in a long, hot, dry summer. We’ve moved back to a rural community where fires can affect our lives not just by air quality but whether we can go out to the woods to harvest firewood, where we travel, and possibly even where the horse lives. We notice things like how green the grasses are under the trees and how many little burn scars by the interstate are new since the last time we drove through.

We survey the horizons, and pay attention to wind patterns and cloud formations in the hope that lightning will bring rain. Most of all, we think about the autumn rains to come.

But the rains are still at least six weeks out. That’s a long time when the world around you is a tinderbox.

Six weeks or more of thinking about wind, and grass, and fire.

Hopefully thinking is all I’ll have to do about it.

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Bad Horse Falls…or why I’ve been silent

Wow. It’s been over a month since my last posting. Not for lack of interest, simply because there’s been a lot of travel between Enterprise and PDX, which means less-than-optimal access to the LiveJournal blog mirror when I’m not in Enterprise. Then, when I’m in Enterprise, I’ve been going great guns…okay, I was going great guns until July 11th. Since then I’ve been hobbling around.

What happened? Well, Mocha and I went to a show at the Fairgrounds on a dreary, drizzly day. We didn’t realize how slick the footing in the arena was, so when we went out to do our first large fast circle in reining, Mocha was ready to run hard. Except that she slipped and we fell hard and fast on our right sides. It was one of the quickest falls I’ve ever had on horseback. Usually there’s a moment of Wil-E-Coyote hang time giving me a moment to relax before hitting the ground. Not this time. Wham. Hard. One minute we were going about 20-25 mph, the next we were on the ground, with about half my lower leg under Mocha. Near as I can figure, I got partially thrown out of the saddle, which was good.

The aftereffects? Let’s just say we were both lucky. Mocha and I both sprang up at the same time. She trotted off with a “what the hell just hit me?” bewildered look and I hobbled around hollering “I’m all right!” as I headed for her, relieved that she wasn’t limping. At least I could put weight on my right leg so I knew it wasn’t broken, just a bad sprain. BTDT. The judge caught Mocha, told me I was DQed (hit the ground), and I climbed up on Mocha to ride back to the trailer. No way I could make it back on my own and we both needed that short session in the saddle to help banish any future riding worries.

Back at the trailer, I pulled off my show boots and wrenched on my lacer packer boots because I knew they would give that ankle more support. Hubby helped me untack Mocha while she stuck her nose in the trailer opening, clearly ready to go home. She loaded nicely for him and was thrilled to get back to her home and pen.

Three weeks later, we’re both still achy and sore. I’ve been on her twice, working at a walk because she’s still stiff and needs light work to help get past the issues. The first week and a half with the ankle was difficult and painful, but having had an even worse sprain in my past, I kinda knew how to manage this one. Even so, I’m at the stage where the darn thing just plain aches at times and there’s not much to do for it.

But it could have been worse. Looking at the pattern of mud I had to knock out of the saddle skirts and the pattern of mud on stirrups, boots, and helmet, I don’t even want to think about what sort of contortions my leg went through when we hit the dirt. I’m just grateful I didn’t break something, and that I don’t have osteoporosis which would have made that more possible. Mocha is gimpy and sore, but she works out of it so we’re back to reconditioning and rebuilding strained muscles. At least she’s happy with her new home now.

Anyway. I am going to start experimenting with writing posts in batches, and scheduling when they go up. It’s a Grand Experiment made crazier by the vagaries of the LJ-WordPress interface. We will see how that works.

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We can haz interwebs niow

As of today, we now have Real Internet in Enterprise. Not hotspot, not coffee shop, but our very own Real Stuff. It involved stringing cable from a dish mounted on the house and all, but…yeah. Hello, we’re back.

It’s been a busy month here, without a lot of writing. We pretty much finished cleaning up the house in Portland for son and roommate, and now have lots of boxes to move. Meanwhile, up here in Enterprise, we’ve been painting and organizing, and are now starting to get somewhere. The house feels like home, even with loads of boxes around.

Writing hasn’t really been getting done, not until the past two mornings where I’ve dashed off 800-1000 words. I think I needed processing time and down time because the back-and-forth nonstop hustle in Portland and Enterprise was getting to me. But Miscon, and then friends coming to visit kind of gave us a break.

Dealing with Mocha has also been an ongoing challenge. She aggressively did not like the change and spent a good four weeks fighting it. Between not eating and pacing, she lost weight and condition. We had to modify Portland travel plans to come back and work with her, putting on a blanket and holding her with a rope at her manger so she’d eat her hay. While there were pigs on the place that distressed her, there’s been enough deliberate crossings-of-boundaries attempts to tell me that scared and frightened horse was now angry horse. So it’s been a long, slow progress of reestablishing training basics. Lots of groundwork–nothing fancy or showy, just lots of walk, whoa, back, pay attention to me, focus, yield, respect my space type of things. And all of it went to pieces around the pigs, who are penned next to the arena.

It all came to a head over the past week. First, Mocha was resistant with the new farrier. She’d start slipping into the old relaxed mode, and then he’d do something different and that would get her all tensed up again and resistant. A couple of times, he just reached under her neck and hugged her into him. He’s a big cowboy type, certified and works with a vet clinic. At last he thumped her in the belly. After that, I put a chain over her nose and between the two, she stood. The barn owner suggested that maybe the big line of sprinklers was bothering her so we made a pilgrimage to the sprinklers and she got a good look at the world.

She was a much quieter horse after that.

But. The next day, she pitched a huge hissy fit at the hitching rail. Now this rail is solid, a hollow iron rail set into concrete posts. I tied her up at a safe short length. She wanted to eat grass, and set about fighting the rope and trying to stretch it out. When she couldn’t do that, she started pawing and stomping at the mats, then leveraging herself around. She couldn’t whack the rail with her right hip like she really likes to do, and I wasn’t set up for this fight. She got poked in the butt with an apple picker a couple of times when she wouldn’t listen to the cue to move over. She would stand when being handled, but if I went out of sight to get something, she pitched a fit. What she needed was a long session of being tied until she remembered her training to stand quietly, but for whatever reason, that day wasn’t it. So I waited until we had a few moments of relative quiet, discussed the situation with the barn owner via text, and got clearance for what needed to happen.

Which happened the next day. I came prepared. Made sure the space was set up safely, then…tied Mocha and let her blow up. She pawed with both fores, tried to kick the post once, slammed her shoulder into the rail, screamed, and just threw a tantrum. But a very slow, careful, deliberate tantrum. That’s the thing. She never lost her head the whole time she fought that hitching rail. Never did anything to throw herself, kept her movements careful and calculated, never pulled back on the rope, just thrust her head down but very carefully not under the rail. Pushed things enough to search out possible weaknesses but not enough to hurt herself. Classic example of a trained horse having a complete and total meltdown.

Every time she calmed down slightly I’d go over and rub her head, feed her a treat, then walk away to see if she would start fighting and fussing again. I didn’t just want her to stand tied, I wanted her to stand tied when I was out of sight for a long period of time. It’s not safe otherwise and I foresee the need for her to stand tied to a horse trailer in the future. But there was more to it than that. This was one of the first lessons she was taught in her home barn. She needed to remember this fundamental lesson and grasp that even though we had changed locations long-term, the basic rules still held. I had come to realize that until she grasped that concept, we were going to have problems.

At last she quieted and I could see the change in attitude. So I put a long heavy lunge line on her and let her graze for a while, then walked her out to the sprinklers.

Things changed after that blowout. Since then, she’s been more relaxed. I can walk to the car and she’ll look for me but not fret. We’ve had several good encounters with the pigs. She’s still tense and looky in that corner, but today she startled them at one point and she realized she’d made them move and that changed her attitude. She’s had a massage treatment that she clearly enjoyed. She remembers more of her old routines though I’m still getting passive resistance at times–I’m going to be working on reinstalling manners in her for a while, it seems.

But at least things are on track. I’ve more thoughts about the move, but stuff is going to be happening for the next few days. We’ll see how it all shakes out.

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Adventures in moving households

Not a lot of fancy words today, just keeping up with things. I have pix but don’t feel like wrestling with WordPress and LiveJournal to make them happen today. Maybe later, and I’ll put some up on Facebook.

We are well and truly into the transition process where we’ll be spending at least half of our time in Wallowa County. This past week saw the first big step–loading up the horse trailer with furniture and boxes. It’s been eleven years since our last move, and dang, we’ve got stuff. So culling is happening.

This was the first Big Drive with the loaded horse trailer as well. Since I’m going to be driving the horse when we move her, I’m getting my practice hauling furniture for two trips first. After this trip, I think a horse will be easier. Maybe.

We started out by overloading the trailer and having to stop, unpack part of the truck’s load. Added to that, I locked the trailer brakes once driving through Gresham–rainy day, driver cut in front of me, yow. Guess the trailer brakes were set right. But after those two things, the rest of the drive chugged along easily. We came up with a name for the truck–Dakota Bob Herman, don’t ask me why or how but the truck is now Dakota Bob Herman. Anyhow, Dakota Bob motored along pretty steadily up Cabbage Hill and then down Minam Hill into Water Canyon along the Wallowa River quite nicely. Even with a full load the trailer wasn’t pushing the truck. Weren’t going very fast, but then that’s how you drive with an older pickup with mileage pulling a fully loaded horse trailer.

Arrived in Enterprise without incident, and had to resort to four wheel drive high to back the trailer into the driveway. A minor drawback of living on a hillside. Unpacked, and then we decided we were tired out and painting wasn’t happening this trip. I managed to keep a respectable word count going on Netwalk’s Children from my desk which was temporarily set up in the living room. Breaks my heart to be writing with a Wallowa view. Not. At the same time I was following the expansion of the Sad Puppy drama while staying within the limitations of my personal hotspot wifi connection. Ah well, at least I got into the mindset adequately enough to write a decent teenage drama scene (between teens, that is, with one being whiny and the other one wanting to deck the whiner but refraining Because Responsibilities).

We also got out and hiked a short distance up the East Fork Wallowa River trail. I would have liked to have gone further, but I’d turned my ankle the day before on the basement stairs. No harm done beyond bruising, but the ankle was tender and I didn’t want to overdo. Beautiful day with lovely views of Wallowa Lake, and no one else on the trails. Things are just starting to pick up for the summer around Enterprise and Joseph, but it’s not quite tourist season yet.

In the evening we went to the last Fireside reading of the season at the Fishtrap House, just three blocks from our house. There were three featured writers and four open mic writers, all pretty decent stuff with a mix of poetry, essays, and fiction. Wind seemed to be a dominant theme; not surprising since it’s been a windy late winter and spring in the County. I also ran into another new farrier moving into the area. Husband left before I did; I lingered to visit further and then walked home listening to frogs singing under a half starry, half-cloudy sky. Down on the highway the red and blue of police lights suggested that maybe someone had caught police attention….

Anyway, the house looks different now with furniture coming into it. Just a few more pieces of renovations left, couple more trailer loads, and the Mocha move to go. Because of obligations and commitments back here in Portland we’ll be back and forth for a good two or three years or more, depending on the situation.

Today’s drive back was somewhat hairy. Once we climbed out of the Minam we ran into strong wind. It wasn’t too bad in the Grande Ronde valley, but as we climbed the Blues, we encountered not just stronger winds but rain which transitioned to sleet and then snow. Not really fun with an unloaded horse trailer, but I just took it slow and easy. As we came down off of Cabbage Hill the wind hit even harder, and we fought that thrice-cursed blow all the way to Cascade Locks, with very little reprieve. I drove with one eye on the road and the other on my gauges, and it was telling that when I was in the lee of the wind, I could maintain my speed at 500 rpms less than when bucking it head on. At times it was a fight to keep going at 50 mph without taxing the vehicle or gobbling much more gas than it did. But we did it.

Rain set in from Hood River to Bonneville Dam, not exactly my favorite place to deal with it. But then the wind died down and Dakota Bob leapt ahead, freed from constraint. Home, and a fairly quick parking process. Getting better at backing. A pain reliever, a hot pad to deal with back spasms, and now off to bed. Then we do the trip again next week.

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Well, that was a birthday

I am now the same age as the last two digits of my birth year. Auspicious or what? I’m taking it to be a promising new development and plan to make the most of it. The day started out pretty well with my first email being the notice that Shadow Harvest is now live on Kindle. Let the promotional games begin….

I went onward to showers of birthday messages on Facebook. I have to love that part of Facebook because the birthday messages started the day before and they’re still trickling in, as people check their Facebook accounts. There are some things that social media does right and that’s one of them. Once again, thanks to everyone who shared. I couldn’t answer all the messages but I loved every one of them. Thanks, folks.

Mocha time was pretty anti-climactic, nothing big or dramatic there.

Then I joined a friend for a drink, plus a visit to a comic book store. We shared a few laughs and thoughts, then I came home. Had a lovely takeout dinner provided by the husband and just plain partied out (as much as one does as a member of Club 57).

So I’m a little slow and fuzzy this morning, but that’s okay since I am just plain waiting around for a serviceperson. Have some work to do, primarily promotional for Shadow Harvest, plus finishing off Alien Savvy, then plotting and planning for two short stories and a novel.

Onward.

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A weird summer moment

This summer has seen some of the worst air I’ve experienced since my childhood in the South Willamette Valley. While it’s never approached the intensity of the worst  field burning days, both DH and I have been enduring with sinus and ear blockages. Supposedly the pollen and dust count isn’t that high, but that’s not what our bodies are telling us–and it’s allergic exposure, not illness. Faugh.

Then yesterday turned brooding along with baking. As the temps approached 100F, clouds drifted overhead. Everything went quiet. I expected a thunderstorm but it never happened. Things were just–quiet. Silent. Waiting. No birds. Nothing moving, except the bees in the sunflowers.

The mood held at dawn today. Then we started getting occasional drifts of cooler air. The mood changed. The finches, chickadees, and bushtits showed up at the feeders. Two small woodpeckers (hairy or downy, whichever is the smaller) drum away at the tallest mullein stalk. The ominous mood that’s been hanging over everything has passed, hopefully banishing the heat for a time.

With any good fortune, the run to Spocon combined with the predicted possibility of rain and cooler temps will clear things out enough to settle the allergies. At least one can hope.

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Furlough weekend

It’s not often that I get time to go out and about in late October/early November, which is sad. In my opinion that’s one of the nicest times to cruise through the east side of Oregon, but…don’t often get the time to do it.

Not so this year. We had November 1st off, DH found a Groupon for a Bend-area resort–so off we went this weekend for a belated birthday celebration.

Friday was stunningly gorgeous, in a late fall East Side way.IMG_9391

It didn’t start raining until early in the morning. We went cruising up toward Bachelor, but the snow got a bit intense. We retraced our tracks to the Swampy Lakes trailhead and went hiking in about 2-3 inches of snow, with 4 inch drifts.

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We hiked nearly 4 miles. Combined with about 1 1/2 half miles on the Deschutes trail in the morning, we did pretty good.

Then, today, on our way back to Portland, we headed out through Mitchell and cut back through Condon and Wasco. Saw some nice stuff there, too.

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We also discovered this cute little pioneer park.

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Amphitheater and stage on both sides of the creek, a smaller stage facing the picnic area. Very cute.

We also saw the critters–wild turkeys in two places, including a flock of over 100; deer, elk, grouse, various raptors, and a bald eagle (at least one). A nice break was had by all.

And now time to push on to Orycon, Nanowrimo (though I’m continuing an existing work project), and other stuff. I’ve been poking at Scrivener and I have some project ideas incorporating pictures for ebook and CreateSpace chapbooks.

Contemplating it, anyway. Might not happen for a few months, but…had fun taking pictures for some of the projects.

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