Fall, indeed, has fell.

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PROCLAMATION:

Be it known that on this 29th day of September, in the year 2015, I did don a sweatshirt for the first time since storing it last winter.  

Because while out running errands, in thin t-shirt, floppy shorts, and flip-flops, I came this close to freezing my buns off.  Pretty sure the temp was only in the high 60s, so …  And the breeze was chilly on the balcony, in the shade, so hey, sweatshirt weather, fall is here!

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Halfway up the block I had to peel out of it, but it happened!  It’s official, my favorite season is gracing us with its presence.  I’ll shed the flip-flops by first snow.

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The wagon, in its autumn sweetness, was a part of my farm for as long as I lived there and many years before.  I don’t know where it is now, other than in my heart, but I still love it.

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Various and sundry nonsense … everything about the season brings it to the surface …

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Still savoring stories …

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Remember this photo from the other day?  My Great-aunt Nora, my grandmother, and my Great-aunt Ruth in the middle dressed in white.  Christmas 1917.

Now we have this — taken same day, same location, when Ruth’s daughter Myrl was around two years old and my Uncle Ed maybe seven or eight and already missing his right eye.  Until my dad came along several years later, they would be the only children of their family generation.  There were eleven years between the two brothers, so they didn’t become friends until they were adults.

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Ruth’s life took twists and turns from early on, and at no time did she adopt the quiet lifestyle of her two sisters.  She instead embraced the 1920s, transitioning quickly from the chaste white dress to flapper gear more suited to The Party, wherever it happened to be.  RuthA happy Ruth …

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My grandma, who lived past 95, told me endless stories about life in the late 1800s and on, but I don’t remember her going into detail about why Myrl was raised by her Aunt Nora instead of her mother.  There are bits and pieces we could combine in formulating answers, but as in all things there are nuances to be taken into account.  Fortunately I have an inside track and a fact or two at my disposal.  1) As far as I could discern, not having really known them until they were what I thought of as old, my grandma and Great-aunt Nora, having been raised in challenging circumstances brought about primarily by their alcoholic father, were straight-laced to the max.  2) I heard mention of drinking when Grandma did talk about Aunt Ruth’s life, which would probably have required the equivalent of endless come-to-Jesus talks, but their objections to her lifestyle tell us nothing about Ruth’s feelings or her capacity for maternalism.  My guess is that Grandma and Aunt Nora offered to keep Myrl at every opportunity and gradually made that a permanent arrangement, Nora thus getting the child she never had despite two marriages (more stories, kids), and Ruth getting what she, maybe, wanted in the first place, which was simply the freedom to be.  That’s the trouble with photographs … they can tell us only so much.  Ruth was the baby, spoiled and indulged by her older sisters, and she came along just as social mores were evolving ahead of the more devil-may-care attitudes of the Roaring 20s.  The comparative drudgery and boredom of her growing-up years no doubt quickly lost out and fell away in the face of NEW, FUN, HAPPY, EXCITING!  By the time I was conscious that I had a Great-aunt Ruth, she was older, ill, married to the last of a series of hard-drinking men, although Uncle Erv did treat her like she was made of glass.  Her laugh, which she never lost, sounded like that same glass breaking, and I instinctively loved her.  Life ended up costing her dearly … but that’s a story for another day.  

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Mesa, Arizona, in the late 1990s.  Me holding Merle’s dog Su-Ming, my dad, and feisty Merle, who at some point shed the old Myrl and moved on under her own terms.  She was a party girl like her mama, but smarter about it, turning the discovery that her husband was a serial cheater into a flush retirement.  By this time Uncle Ed had passed away, so Daddy and Merle were the only remaining direct connections to my grandparents and their era.  Merle loved to laugh, she loved people, she loved family, she loved her little dog … and everything was “Oh, kid!” followed by delighted laughter.  My favorite story was about the times a neighbor would pick her up from Aunt Nora’s house and then go get her mother.  As Aunt Ruth was walking to the car, dark-haired little Myrl would giggle and shout at her “You tan’t fit, Roofie, you got too big a BUTT!!”  

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There are a million ways to make life work and it’s a bonus to come from hardy people who knew about some of those ways.  I’m in their debt but that isn’t how they saw it — they were simply surviving, in the end doing as well as anybody at that and hanging onto a healthy sense of humor through it all.  They’d be genuinely happy to know they left a mark.

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Old women are merely little girls with wrinkles …

The  recent photo sorting with my sisters has yielded much treasure, all of which I appreciate infinitely more than the first time I saw those pictures.  Some I’d never laid eyes on before, and I do a little dance over each one.  We’ve tossed bags full of bad pics — exceptionally bad pics of blurry armpits and floors and the back end of a cat — that nobody ever bothered to weed out, but we’ve glommed onto anything of interest, everything that sparks memories and smiles.  Today’s little collection has been making me smile all morning, so I’m sharing …

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My great-grandmother, Caroline Fuhrman Dierking (looking outward), and her sister Emma.

On the back, in my grandmother’s handwriting:  “Caroline Fuhrman, my mother, was born in Germany.  The family emigrated to America in 1872, with eight sons and two daughters, my mother being one of them.  Aunt Emma was born in Atchison County, Kansas after they came to America.  My mother and her sister loved each other very much.  This is at Aunt Emma’s Camp Creek home in Atchison County, sometime around 1920.”

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DugoutCaroline Fuhrman married Louis Dierking and after living northeast of Emporia for a time, they moved to this dugout northwest of Bushong in 1894.  Several sons were lost at birth or in childhood, but daughters Nora and Clara (my grandmother) survived, and after the move to the dugout, Ruth was born in 1896.  

This photo was taken when my dad, brother and grandmother went to a Camp Creek family reunion in 1966, and shows the house my great-grandfather Louis Dierking built onto the front of the dugout.  Pretty sure the horses, and whatever other livestock they had, lived in the lower part made from rock.  

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The daughters of Louis & Caroline Dierking, Nora, Ruth & Clara, Christmas, 1917

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Ruth Dierking Cox in 1920 — clearly things had changed a bit in three years’ time,

although my grandmother’s comment was

“I believe her car was a Studebaker.  Always breaking down or out of fix.”

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And now we’re back to sweet Great-Great-Aunt Emma, with pretty little Colleen, who was in some way my cousin, and 2-year-old me with my naked doll and a scowl.  Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 1949.  Life is both long and unbelievably short.  



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Forget throwbacks …

Throwback Thursday offends my sense of independence so here’s one for Friday — the house where my paternal grandpa was born, near Corydon, Indiana.  In the picture are my great-grandparents George and Salome (Sally) Wagner, my grandpa John, his sister Annie and brother Otto, and their half-sister Teena (always called Teenie, although she never was).  I’d heard stories about the house “all my life,” and when I was in college I drove my grandma there as part of a road trip to visit relatives in several states.  Grandpa had died several years earlier, and on her own after more than 60 years married, Grandma was in want of an adventure.  On the Indiana leg of our trip we took our time locating the house, and found it beautifully cared for by its current owners, much to my grandma’s relief.  The descriptions and tales from my relatives made the yard and outbuildings feel sweetly familiar to me, and the cistern at the bottom of the slope out front where my Wagner kindred stored their perishables was still being fed by the same ice-cold spring.

We humans are so connected to our roots.  Whether we understand it or not, there’s a longing for where and what we came from. Other than not having Grandpa in the car with us, the trip with my grandma was a full-circle experience.  And driving her cross-country broadened my knowledge of her, her life, and her family relationships.  This was highly beneficial for a college girl who didn’t know quite everything yet.

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This is getting ridiculous …

I can’t write, I might as well face it and move on.

It isn’t that I can’t write, I know how, but the words have all gone somewhere else.  Things come to me but I don’t make it to the end of the first sentence and the orphaned drafts are starting to rack up bandwidth.    I have pressure behind my eyes from needing to write something that doesn’t suck, but I sit here every day and do nothing but procrastinate.

Yes, I would like some brie with that whine, be right back …

Wrote that a week ago, walked away from it, looked through some old photos that same afternoon and wrote this.  On Facebook.  Just like that, shazott.  Learned something about myself that’s been knocking around in my head all week, and when it settles into a shape and forms sentences, I’ll share.

So from a week ago …

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Did you get the memo saying PLEASE, NO THROWBACK HUMPDAY PHOTOS??  Neither did I.

This one has layers. Start with where the truck is parked. The blue spruce snuggled up to the passenger side was brought from Colorado, by my grandparents, as a seedling back in ought-whenever because that was perfectly legal then. It grew to many, many feet tall and almost as many feet wide at the base until one day in a storm it simply came out of the ground and assumed a horizontal position, landing on and against the house but wreaking minimal havoc. (Back-story: My grandparents’ house is to the right, where we see part of a roof.)

Then there’s the truck, a fixture of my childhood. It was gray and pretty wonderful, and when my dad drove it to town with the first cutting of wheat to test for moisture content, the gray-dust-covered elevator guys motioned him to drive the front wheels onto the lift, because of course there were no hydraulics under the bed … and then they raised the front of the truck high enough for the wheat to pour out the open tailgate in the back. Which was pretty freaking high to a seven-year-old and he only let me stay in the cab with him once, but not because I cried. I’m pretty sure he decided Mother wouldn’t approve.

Which brings us to the watermelons. Big, dark green, full of luscious red fruit, and juice that ran down our chins and made everything stick to our hands. Every summer, a truckload like this and far more came from my grandpa’s big patch in the middle of a section, next to an irrigation engine. The melon patch was raided one night by a couple of carloads of high school kids — the four girls dropped the four guys off and drove around the section (a square mile), stopping to let their boyfriends stash gunny sacks full of melons in the car trunks. My dad, Grandpa, and a couple of the neighbors, alerted by the sudden rash of traffic in the middle of nowhere, ambushed them in mid-haul, blinded them with spotlights, and panic ensued. The girls drove off, the boys lost their shoes in a field covered in Texas Tacks, and the whole thing ended up in court. My grandpa didn’t mind a melon going missing once in a while, but he held a big feed for the whole township every year and it made him mad that these guys had stolen more than thirty of his prize watermelons and deliberately destroyed a goodly number of the rest just for the hell of it. But it infuriated him even more when he asked the ringleader’s name and the kid said “John Wagner.” That was my grandpa’s name and he thought he had a bona fide smart-ass  in front of him. True story, though, and Big Daddy was an attorney — with the same name. I understand it got fairly comical during the hearing but my grandpa never cracked a smile.  Fun and games. Told you. Layers.

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Moving on …

Life progresses in loops and whorls, never backtracking but occasionally slipping into neutral.  Gearing up again and finishing a few things is always a thrill, so we’re celebrating the fact that after eighteen months and a half-dozen or more 600-mile round-trips, the condo is EMPTY — and if there are still two things there for other people to get, nobody told me about it, I know nothing.  We’ve re-listed the property with a different agency and an agent who from all indications is a winner — selling the heck out of the town in all price ranges and she’s fabulous to work with.  Keep a good thought for us — this is the last piece of the “Move” puzzle and the only one that didn’t drop into place right away, due entirely to the housing market there.

Rainy and chilly today and we’re in recovery mode.  Kim turned gray at one point yesterday while we were hauling stuff up the stairs, and I’m perpetually not much help at all, in fact “if you need to sit down that’s great but you can’t stand there” is mostly what it’s about for me.  An inhaler fixes his problem but not so simple with mine such as they are.  And Madison, for the first time in our experience, got carsick on the drive home.  Riding in her backseat bed, watching the landscape roll by, head on her paws, making eyes at us and smiling … when we turned around again she was curled in a ball looking like a sad bedraggled little weasel.  Luckily we caught a break in that she never did upchuck the googly bits we shouldn’t have been sneaking her from the road-food bags, and happily this morning her lethargy and ennui have passed.  She’s doing tricks for treats again, and she’s had a bath — there was really no choice, she’d picked up so much dust and dirt while she was “helping” she looked radioactive.  The little mop is sleeping it off now, after giving me the stink-eye about the bath — she loves them but didn’t appreciate shivering and considered us hard-hearted, I’m totally sure.

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May ye’ be completely ate up with the luck o’ the Irish!

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Little St. Paddy’s road trip.  May your day be filled with green beer and laughter …

A man stumbles up to the only other patron in a bar and asks if he might buy him a drink.
“Why, of course,” comes the reply.
The first man then asks, “Where you from?”
“Ireland,” replies the second man.
The first man responds, “You don’t say, I’m from Ireland too! Let’s have another round to Ireland.”
“Of course,” replies the second man.
Curious, the first man then asks, “Where in Ireland are you from?”
“Dublin,” comes the reply.
“I can’t believe it,” says the first man. “I’m from Dublin too! Let’s have another drink to Dublin.”
“Of course,” replies the second man.
Curiosity again strikes and the first man asks,”What school did you go to?”
“Saint Mary’s,” replies the second man. “I graduated in ’65.”
“This is unbelievable!” the first man says. “I went to Saint Mary’s and I graduated in ’65, too!”
About that time in comes one of the regulars and sits down at the bar.
“What’s been going on?” he asks the bartender.
“Nuttin’ much,” replies the bartender. “The O’Malley twins are drunk again.”

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It’s throw-back Thursday, let’s throw pictures …

Don’t ask about the migrating pile of paperwork, I don’t want to talk about it.  Spoiler alert: today’s list doesn’t look discernibly different from yesterday’s, subject closed.  And if it mattered I’d feel guilty or something, but as the boss of me I’m shockingly indulgent — all the hurry has leaked away and it’s heaven.

I found a little slice of Throw-Back-Thursday heaven … my mom’s cousin Chet … in the Philippines … WWII era.  Enjoy while I think of something to do with this mix of have-to-keep and need-to-toss that won’t go away.

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Yes. Most emphatically still here.

Anyone between 40 and 65+ gets this — once it starts you’ll do everything cheap and painless to make it stop.  And by it of course I mean aging.  I squandered at least 25 years’-worth of primo brain cells cursing every line, gray hair, and extra pound — “STOP!  STOP IT!!  STOP THIS RIGHT NOW!!!  GIVE ME SOME TIME TO MENTALLY PREPARE!!  {Interweave creative language of your choosing.}”

Over the years it’s inexplicably gotten more challenging to match up the two realities:  I don’t feel any older in my psyche, I’m in fact regressing and there are those who own evidence to prove it, but my exterior road map is relentlessly becoming more detailed, my once-blonde/brown/henna-ish hair has at long last come out of the closet as its own true amazing silver, and my late-life-acquired supplemental mass is stubborn and sneaky so I’ve decided to own it for warmth, comfort, and familiarity.

The rush in all of this is that it doesn’t feel like I’m giving up.  I only have to adapt to the kindergartener around my waist until winter’s over — it’s cruelly cold outside — and then I’m thinking I’ll work on it again.  Or … you know ….. just possibly not, really, not in any stressed-out sort of way.  Because even though my lines and veins are more visible now, I’ve survived to a point where this body’s pretty freaking okay for its years and experiences.  And I’m in love with my shiny silver hair that Shelby at the barbershop cuts for $10+tip and gives it a life of its own so that I might have 99 problems but my hair isn’t ever one of them.  (If I wanted to pull senior rank on her she’d cut it for $5 and probably say about her tip “Oh honey, that’s fine, go buy a coffee or something.”  But WTF, are you kidding?!  Baby Jesus, don’t ever let me get THAT kind of old!)  So anyway how truly awful could it be to haul around more pounds than my body was designed for?  Oh, wait … right … wasn’t taking the whole Life & Death thing into account.  So … you know … erroneous THERE, but …

Well, so I’m going with two out of three unless or until I can change, but meanwhile that tiresome head-voice has gone strangely silent.  After all those years of fighting my body … okay, it was a half-hearted effort at best … she and I are starting to feel like real friends.  Not like, hey I forgive you for being such a biotch and embarrassing me … just … hey … no forgivey-stuff required, I’m you and you’re me and we like each other fine and this feels good.  And wow, hey, look at all the options that just opened up!

“Having work done” was never part of my bucket list, and after having my face sliced and stitched up last month I can tell you that there’s no way I’d do it voluntarily just because things weren’t close enough to perfect.  The twelve women in the slideshow linked here are some of my best role models — I hope you’ll revel in their happy stories!

http://www.purpleclover.com/entertainment/3543-12-stars-say-no-to-plastic-surgery/

I love this woman like Kanye loves Kanye!

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We survived another week!

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President Barack Obama was here in Lawrence, Kansas, on Thursday, a few short blocks away on Mt. Oread.  The University of Kansas hosted him and I would have stood in line for hours to get a free ticket, and then for hours more to see and hear him, if my face didn’t look like a jigsaw puzzle and feel like rubbish.

As you know, there was no throwing it back on Thursday because the pitching arm was sleeping it off.  No Friday Funnies, because twern’t funny, McGee.  Which brings us to SaturYAY and a guest editorial, graciously loaned by my dear friend, playwright Philip Grecian.  Thank you, UncaPhil, for sharing your unadulterated thoughts with us.

(By the way, Kim and I love Lawrence because it isn’t just for Smurfs — everybody gets a say here, and plenty took advantage of that opportunity in reference to the president’s visit.)

And here’s Philip …

Been lookin’ over fboo today and see that an awful lot of ignorant people said an awful lot of stupid things while the president was in the area.

I understand if you’re a racist (and some of you are and think I don’t know it), and I understand if you’re a moron (Most of you aren’t. A few of you are, and demonstrate it regularly. I try to deal with you charitably).

Some of you are just blindly Republican (The thoughtful Republicans don’t spew hateful, stupid things. Some of you would be surprised how many thoughtful Republicans are actually reading this. I pray they’ll wrest some power away from the others. It could happen).

When George Bush was president I admit that I didn’t much care for him in the office and said so. Usually I waited till he’d done something that seemed…odd…or clueless…or thoughtlessly mean-spirited, and I’d comment. Usually making a little fun because, well, let’s be honest, he was easy to make fun of.

But, you know, my comments about George Bush…and comments made by others who didn’t like him much…were never as bone-deep mean and hateful and angry as what I’ve read here about Barack Obama. Some of you folks take my breath away with your hate.

And when I ask you why you feel that way…you give me some boilerplate FoxTrot talking point…one that’s usually made up out of whole cloth by some Foxy Barbie or Ken or dissolute Jabba the Huckabee. And if you’re called on it…if it’s pointed out that somebody just made up that “fact,” you’re quiet, retreat, and bring it up elsewhere on somebody else’s wall…like some extremist whack-a-mole.

Whaddya got? “Obamacare?” Wanna bitch about that? Hey, idiot, IT’S WORKING. Wanna talk about how we need to “Take Back America?” Yeah? From whom? He handily won office by vote of the majority. Twice. He reminded you of that, didn’t he?

Wanna talk about how he’s “ruining the country” and how you “can’t wait till he’s gone so we can put America back together?” Yeah? Really? Show me how he’s doing that. Jobs are up, economy’s up, we avoided a Great Depression–The Sequel. We’re better off than we’ve been in a long time.

So why all this palpable…hate?

Racism is all I can come up with…racism spiced up with a little party loyalty on steroids…a lot of “poor me” victimology…and a lot of foolish belief in the Murdochtrine of Fox News.

If George Bush had accomplished what Barack Obama has accomplished, you’d be building statues to the guy. And, except for a very few days when President Obama first took office (No, not two years…not 365 X 2. Do the math to see when Congress was in session during those 24 months), he did it with Congresspeople whose main raison d’être was to keep him–and by extension, the American people–from having any success at all.

And look what he accomplished in SPITE of that.
And just think what he MIGHT have accomplished beyond THAT, if the House, especially, had been working for the country…instead of for their exclusive club…and instead of for the Koch Brothers.

Just think.

For once.

If you are this clueless after all this time, you will always be this clueless. The world isn’t just passing you by, it’s passing over your head.

And you just sit there…engorging yourself with Fox News lies and Koch Brothers treachery.

I pity you.

So very much.

~ Philip Grecian

Finally over THAT hump …

Today was the day, kids — Quasimodo for the win!!  The cunning little Basal Cell Surprise has been routed, three cheers for the good guys!

Muy painful, but that won’t last long, right?  The eye will remain surgically closed for the next six to eight weeks while the graft (skipping right over the details here) establishes itself.  Meanwhile, functioning with one eye when I’m used to two is an adventure in staying upright.  Depth perception and a gyro are dicey for me on a good day, so all respect to people who manage to excel at this!

Wanna see what the MOHS procedure-thing looks like?  Holy cow, what a poor sport!

Okay, I’ll just post it for my aunt and that one friend …

DISCLAIMER: Possibly NSFW

WARNING: GROSS!!  ICKY!!

FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, CAN YOU NOT READ???

And yet here you are … lord knows I tried.

Sharing to say this:  IF YOU HAPPEN TO NOTICE AN ODD BUMP, DON’T IGNORE IT.

 

 

 

 


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Here’s a picture of Maltese puppies to make up for that! 

 

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The Monday (anti)rant …

There is no rant in me today, because the sun is shining and the doors are open and life is good.  I could find something to bitch about if I wanted to, but I haven’t found the want to.  I hope you don’t want to either, because look at this tiny green beast that reminds me of my little dog.  If you happen to have either one, you know exactly what I mean!

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Sunday scenic …

Sometimes I like finding nightmarish photos that creep me out, because it just feels so gosh darn good to know I’ll never have to set foot in those places.  I mean, work with me, universe.  Rehab has been mentioned, but I happen to know it doesn’t do any good unless the rehab-ee is on board with the whole thing, and it’s a perfectly harmless little habit.  I’m not giving it up, because when that Zen rush hits, it’s just too good.  Perspective is everything.

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Still slightly displaced …

… but here’s a Thursday Throwback while we wait — my Great-Grandma Cummings holding little me.  That, of course, was my I-am-so-done face, which may or may not resurface from time to time.  I love my GG’s wonderful outfit and her sweet face.  And after seeing this photo a kazillion times, I all-at-once get who she reminds me of — Mrs. Doubtfire!  I love that.  I love it so much.   

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In an odd sort of mood …

IN THE LAND OF ODD

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This — my 300th post on WordPress!

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