Showing posts with label mbgphoto. Show all posts
Showing posts with label mbgphoto. Show all posts

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Spring in Full Bloom

Spring Trees and Bushes


Last month when spring was just beginning, I shared with you my tips for early spring walks.  Now that spring is in full bloom, I will review some of my favorite spring flowers and flowering trees and bushes.  I hope you enjoy my photographs and a bit of facts on each of the types of blooms.


Lilac Bushes


Lilac bushes are my very favorite spring bloom.  I love the beautiful purple flowers and the fragrant blooms.  Here is a photo from the lilac bush in the corner of my yard.  This bloom is just starting to open and I was able to capture it right after a rain shower while there was still drops of water on the leaves.



Lilac bushes are very easy to grow and take little care other than good soil and sunshine.  They are a deciduous bush that blooms for about two weeks in late spring or early summer.  The most common color is a light lavender shade but they are also have bushes that are a darker purple, burgundy, white and shades of pink.

Red Bud Trees


I love the look of red bud trees in the spring.  In the midwest, where I live, you can see them dotting the wooded hillsides as you drive down the highways.  There are also a lot in our subdivision.  The photo below is one in my neighbors yard.



Redbud trees boast beautiful clusters of lavender-pink flowers in the early spring.  These flowers last for several weeks and then are replaced with delightful heart shaped leaves.

Redbud trees are easy to grow and need well drained soil and full sun or light shade.  The grow well in USDA Zones 4-8, and should be planted in early spring.  There are several different varieties of redbuds so you will want to choose one that is best suited for your area.

Here are a few more photos from spring blooming trees.  They are shots I took at a park and I'm not sure of the type of trees, but I thought they were quite beautiful.




Tulips 



I love tulips.  For me they are the perfect spring flower.  There are lots of tulips in my neighbors yards when I go on my daily works and they always bring a smile to my face.



Here is a card I made from one of my tulip photos.

When I searched online about tulips, I found several interesting facts.  Tulips are part of the Lily family and the petals are edible.  Most tulips sprout a single flower but there are a few varieties that have up to four flowers on one stem.  There are actually 1000's of varieties of tulips.

Did you know that in the 1600's tulips were considered to be quite valuable in the Netherlands.  In fact some cost as much as houses.

The beautiful blooms from tulip bulbs last only about 7-10 days until they start to whither and die.


Spring Annuals


 


One of my favorite spring annuals is the pansy.  This cheerful little flower is ideal for that time of year when you will still get cold mornings and possibly a little frost.  They bounce right back after a brief cold spell and florish until the really warm weather sets in.  I love having a pot of these flowers on my porch in early spring.  They are a favorite flower to photograph too.  I always think they look like cheerful little faces looking toward the sun.




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Thursday, April 8, 2021

Book Review: A Splendid Ruin by Megan Chance

 

A Splendid Ruin


I just finished a wonderful historical novel by Megan Chance and I couldn't wait to start this post and review it for you.  The novel takes place in San Francisco before and after the historic earthquake of 1906.

Plot Synopsis


The story unfolds as May Kimble, whose mother has died, leaves New York and travels to San Francisco to live with relatives she didn't even know existed. When she arrives she finds her relatives living in luxury and she is introduced to a life she only dreamed existed.  Her cousin Goldie takes her under her wing and introduces her to society and everything about San Francisco.  Goldie helps her shop for a new wardrobe, introduces her to all her friends, and takes her to see the sights of the city.  For the first time May wears beautiful gowns and attends balls.



As the plot continues to unfold May sees that everything is not what it seems and she may be in real danger.  She wonders who she can really trust and must use her wits to survive a possible terrible future.  How will she escape?  This is a compelling novel that shows just what a human being must endure in order to survive.

Main Characters


This book is full of interesting characters.  Of course there is May who is a talented undiscovered artist. 

May's relatives the Sullivans are certainly interesting.  Goldie the cousin who is all about being in societies limelight.  Uncle Jonny  is so generous to May, but is there an ulterior motive?    Aunt Florence  is May's mothers sister.  Why is she so ill she cannot visit with May?  There are so many questions May wants to ask her about her Mother and Father.  In the Sullivan household are several servants and one in particular, Shinn, is a big help to May.

Other characters of interest include Ellis Farge, an architect who admires May's artwork and Stephen Oelrichs, an attorney and Goldie's former fiance. Then there is Alphonse Bandersnitch, a writer for the society pages of the newspaper.  Don't you just love that name?  Bandersnitch is not his real name and everyone is trying to guess his identity.  He does a great job of remaining anonymous even while attending all of the society happenings around town.

Recommendation


I could go on and on talking about the book, but I don't want to spoil it for you.  Let me just say it is full of mystery and intrique with lots of twists and turns.  I recommend this as a must read!



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Thursday, March 25, 2021

Review of The Shadow Box by Luanne Rice

Stoningham Connecticut





If you are looking for a thrilling mystery with an interesting mix of characters this book by Luanne Rice is the book for you.  Along with a great story the book also explores spousal abuse among unlikely people.

The Author


Luanne Rice is a New York Times best selling author of 35 books.  She loves to write about nature  and the sea and bases many of her novels on her home state of Connecticut.  

I had read her books before and really enjoyed them so when I picked up The  Shadow Box, I knew I'd find a good novel and I was not disappointed.  This was another of those books that I was hooked from page one.  


Basic Plot


The setting for the book is the Connecticut coast and specifically a posh enclave called Cataount Bluff.  It is an area occupied by five luxury homes whose owners have long standing roots in the community.

The main character in the book is Claire Beaudry Chase, an artist who makes unusual shadow boxes.  Her husband, Griffin, is a very well connected man who is going to run for governor.  One of Claire's shadow boxes depicts a figure that could point to Griffin as a participant in a decades old crime and could hurt his political future.

The men of Catamont Bluff belong to a secret society called the Monday Club.  There are also other members of the small and secretive society and they all stick together no matter what.

When Claire is attacked in her garage and left for dead the plot unfolds.  After her attacker leaves she is able to escape and hides out for weeks while she tries to solve the crime.  While she is in hiding she discovers that another women who has worked as a decorator for several of the families has been found dead on the same day Claire disappeared.

Questions Claire trys to Solve


The book has lots of twists and turns and lots of questions to be answered.  Who can Claire trust?
Her husband has much of law enforcement in his pocket so she doesn't know who to turn to and is forced to stay hidden.

Claire hears about Sallie, the other woman who died, and wonders if that is connected to her disappearance.

Are the other  members of the enclave involved?  They are all very close and all working hard to make sure Griffin is the next govenor and able to help them in their businesses.

Are Claire's two stepsons Ford and Alexander somehow involved?

Who was her attacker?  Claire feels sure it was Griffin and yet he had on a mask and it all went so fast she isn't sure.

A Must Read Book


To find out the answers to the mystery you will need to read the book.  I am sure you will find it as intriquing as I found it.

For  more information on the Connecticut coast here is a review I wrote about Stoningham.  It includes my photos from a trip there. Stoningham Connecticut




 




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Thursday, March 11, 2021

Photography Tips for Early Spring Walks

 

Crocus are a First Sign of Spring

I am thoroughly enjoying my early spring walks.  The weather is warming up and buds are on the trees.  The crocus are blooming so I know that spring is on it's way.  In reviewing information for this post I came across several poems about crocuses.  On this post I will review my tips for photographing early spring and also share a poem I discovered.


Crocus Poem


I found many different poems about crocuses online.  Some were older poems and many were new.  Here is one that spoke to me and it is old enough that it is now in the public domain.  It speaks to how I feel when I see my first crocuses of the year.



Camera for my early spring walks


This year I received a new iPhone for my birthday in February so I've been busy exploring the features that it has in the camera and editing features.  It is a iPhone 11pro, which has three cameras and some amazing editing features for a phone.

  1. 12MP regular camera | 26mm f/1.8 | Optical image stabilization
  2. 12MP ultra-wide camera | 13mm f/2.4 | 120-degree field of view
  3. 12MP telephoto / portrait lens | 52mm f/2.0 | Optical image stabilization

I have found that the camera takes some really great photos and decided to use it exclusively for this review.  The added benefit is that I can carry it in my pocket during my walk and easily pull it out to take a photo when I see something I want to shoot.

The link below shows the phone my husband bought me from Amazon.  We have always had really good luck buying their renewed products.




Early Spring Photography




While walking in our neighborhood park, I noticed the way the grasses looked so beautiful against the bright blue sky. I took out my phone and photographed them from several directions.  I wanted to capture the way they looked in the sunlight so I tried all angles to find the best look.  The next week when I walked in the same park I noticed that the grasses had been cut down to get ready for new growth.  I'm glad I photographed them when I did.


Don't Forget the Buds




When you are photographing in late winter/early spring, don't forget to capture the new buds forming on trees and bushes.  They can make some great photos.  You will want to get in very close to capture all the details in the buds like the photo above of a pussy willow.



Buds on spring flowers poking through the ground can also make great photos.  These hyacinth bulbs are just poking through the ground.  I will be back to photograph them when they are in full bloom.


A Trip to the River




If you have water near you, they can also make some great early spring photos.  We had a hard freeze for several weeks in early February and when it finally got warmer the ice broke up on the river.  I took this photo down at the Missouri river where you can see the ice floating down stream.




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Thursday, February 25, 2021

Reviewing a Heated Dog Bowl for Birds

 

Carolina Wren enjoying the Heated Dog Bowl


I enjoy watching and photographing birds in my back yard.  In order to attract birds to my yard I know it is important to provide a steady supply of food and fresh water. 

For food I fill several different feeders with different types of food.  I love song birds so I make sure to put out a steady supply of black oiled sunflower seeds.  I also put out nyjer seed for the little finches.  I love to attract woodpeckers so I offer both suet cakes and suet pellets.

For water I have a birdbath which the birds love both for drinks and bathing.  This winter has been particularly cold and the bird bath water is always frozen so I searched for a good way to provide fresh water.  I know there are heated birdbaths, but they were a little out of the cost range I was considering.  I read on one of my bird groups that a heated dog bowl works great for birds and is inexpensive so I decided to try that.

Heated Dog Bowl


After looking at several sites I settled on this dog bowl.

                                  

This bowl had several features which I find works well.  At one quart it is a good size for my deck.  It is thermostatically controlled so that it only operates when it is necessary.  The bowl has an anti-tip construction and the cord is covered with a heavy duty protector.  It comes in several colors and I chose the bright blue because I was hoping to attract some blue birds and I thought that would look great in the photographs.

I have had the bowl for 2 months now and it has worked great.  It has really been tested the last two weeks when our temperatures have been below freezing the entire time and we've had wind chills in the -10 area.  The bowl has worked perfect and provided water for the birds in the chilling weather.  When it has snowed the snow just melts into the bowl.  I am very pleased  with my purchase and I think my birds are too!

Photographs of Birds at the Water Bowl


Here are some photographs of birds taken at the new water bowl.  First of all it did attract the Eastern Blue Birds I was hoping to get.  I love the way their coloring matches with the bowl.





Here are some of the other birds enjoying the water. The Robin looks pleased to have some fresh water and the Cardinal and House Finch also enjoy the water.  








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Thursday, February 11, 2021

Review of Historical Novel....West with Giraffes

Photograph my sister Julie took while in Tanzania

 

West with Giraffes is one of the best books I've read in a long time and I have read some books I've really enjoyed lately.  But you know how some books just resonate with you, well that is how West with Giraffes was with me.  I usually read before I go to bed for about 1/2 hour.  With this book, I would wake up in the morning thinking about the book and of course I had to make time to read more during the day.
 

                                      

Setting

The book is based on the true story of two Giraffes that are waylaid during a hurricane and end up on the docks in New York City.  They are met by two unlikely characters who end up driving them all the way to the San Diego Zoo.  The time frame is during the Great Depression and we learn some of the history of the era along the cross country drive.  It is based on the amazing story when two giraffes make headlines when they travel cross country.


Characters

The characters in the book are so real you feel as if you know them personally.  

The Old Man-  During most of the book Riley is called the Old Man.  He is the one who met the giraffes at the  dock in New York.  He works for the San Diego Zoo and he is tasked with meeting the giraffes and taking them to San Diego.  We get  to know him gradually as he makes his way across country with Woody.

Woody is a 17 year old orphan from Texas.  When his family is wiped out during the dust bowl tragedy he makes his way to New York City where he ends up on the dock when the giraffes land.  He hears they are headed to "Californy" and makes it his goal to somehow follow them there.  Woody's full name is Woodrow Wilson Nickel and during the long trip cross country we find that he is as endearing as his name.

Red is a young photographer with a secret who is determined to be published in Life magazine and claim her fame with her story about the giraffes.

The giraffes themselves really show their different personalities and become a wonderful part of the book.  All of the main characters are drawn in by a love of the beautiful animals.  They call the giraffes Boy and Girl.  Girl had been injured during the hurricane and they all had to stop often to treat her hurt leg.  She is the more aggressive of the two giraffes.  Boy is shy and more approachable.

This is a book that I would highly recommend.




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Thursday, January 28, 2021

Review of Folly-A Folly Beach Mystery Book

My Photo of the Morris Island Lighthouse

I just read a book that has all the elements that I find fascinating.  First let me tell you I am a photographer whose favorite subject is lighthouses.  I also enjoy mysteries. This book has all of those things along with a cast of quirky characters that make the book a real page turner.

Summary of Book

 I started reading this book and I was hooked on the very first pages when a photographer sets off to take a photo of the sun rising over a lighthouse.  It just so happens that this lighthouse is the Morris Island Lighthouse, a lighthouse that I too have photographed.  As he is walking down the path to the shore  I can vividly remember myself walking down that same path.  Needless to say my interest was captured right from the beginning.

In this delightful first book of the Folly Beach Mystery Series Chris is taking a month long vacation in Folly Beach South Carolina, a beach town near Charleston.  While Chris is on his first outing to photograph the lighthouse he hears shots fired and discovers a dead body.  The rest of the book is filled with Chris meeting the residents of the small town and discovering some delightful characters along the way.  

When Chris's first rental house is burned he begins to suspect that someone thinks he saw something at the murder site.  Chris does not know what it could be but he becomes determined in discovering who the killer is and why they are targeting him.

Along the way Chris meets a reporter who shows him the sights in Charleston and a love interest develops.  He also meets a quirky character, Charles who calls him "Mr. Photo Man".  

The book has lots of interesting people and wonderful descriptions of both Folly Beach and Charleston.  If you haven't been there they will make you want to go and if like me you've been to both places they make you long to go back.

The Book on Amazon

Here is a link to the book on Amazon.  I highly recommend it for a relaxing and fun read.  As soon as I finished I went and bought book 2 in the series and I can't wait to get started.



My Photos on Zazzle

Here on Zazzle are several of the photographs I took when visiting South Carolina.






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Thursday, January 14, 2021

Book Review of What It's Like to Be a Bird

Robin in my Backyard

 Are you ever curious about the habits of birds?  Did you realize that a bird's senses of vision, hearing, touch and smell many times surpass the same senses in humans?  Did you know that if you "ate like a bird" you might eat more than twenty-five pizzas each day?  These are just a few of the many things you'll learn about birds in the book What It's Like to Be a Bird.  


I received a copy of this book as a Christmas gift and have found it fascinating.  It is a rather large, coffee table type book that is full of information on the birds of North America.

The book is divided into three sections.  In this review, I will give you some insight into each of the sections.  The photographs I am including in this review are birds that I photographed in my backyard.


First Section: Introduction

Female Downy Woodpecker

  • The introduction section of the book is 32 pages full of information on birds in general.  This section talks about the feathers on birds, the senses of birds and how they relate to human senses.  There are sections on 
  • Food
  • Survival
  • Social Behavior
  • Movement
  • Physiology
  • Migration
an much more.  This area is full of interesting information.  Some examples include:
  • There are 11 thousand species of birds today and 800 are regularly found in North America.
  • Birds visual ability varies greatly between species.  Owls have great night vision  and Eagles see five times more details than humans and 16 times the colors.
  • Some birds spend their entire winter in the air, even sleeping while they fly.

Second Section: Main Body of Book

In this section of the book the author tells us about over 200 different species of birds.  The author has two pages for most species and they include beautiful colored illustrations of the birds and are full of interesting facts about each type of bird.

One good example is the section on Finches.  The first page shows a beautiful illustration of a male and female House Finch building a nest.  The information says that these finches are aptly named because they have adapted to living around houses and often make their nests on items around the houses such as hanging plants and window ledges.  On the page with Goldfinches we are told that they travel in flocks almost all year and it is believed that some birds stay together in small groups for months or even years.

Third Section: Listing of Birds in this Book

In this last section of the book you find a list of all the birds that have been covered in the book.  It includes the page number for more information along with a paragraph summarizing that particular bird.

Here is some of the information included on the Northern Cardinal.  It tells that the bird is named for its bright red color which is like the cardinals in the Roman Catholic church.  The paragraph goes on to say that the Northern Cardinal is one of the most widely recognized birds in North America.  It adds a couple of interesting facts such as that it is common for male cardinals to feed the adult females.  In this way they are signaling their ability to find food.

This is a book I would highly recommend for anyone interested in finding out more about birds.
Here is a calendar I made of my backyard bird photos.  It is offered on Zazzle.
  



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Thursday, December 24, 2020

Review of Christmas Season 2020


 Christmas 2020 will soon be "Christmas past" and it certainly has been one for the books.  We will remember it as the year of the pandemic, the year without large family gatherings, the year of wearing masks, the year without Christmas parties, and the year of live stream church services.  And yet....it has not been a year without joy for me.  I may have had to look a bit to find it in other activities but as this Christmas season draws to a close I find  that I feel peace even in these crazy times.

Photographing our Decorations

I thoroughly enjoy my photography hobby and this year has given me a lot of time to take classes on photography and Photoshop.  I used some of my new found skills to photograph our holiday decorations.  Here are a few of my favorites. The first two are our tree and the outside of the house.  On both of them I used some new filters I learned how to use on a Photoshop online class.



The next two photos were made for a photography challenge on a group that gives us a weekly theme and we come up with creative ideas.  The theme for this week was "bubble wrap".



Watching Christmas Movies New and Old

I have enjoyed watching movies I have not watched for sometime and also I've found a few new Christmas movies to enjoy.  Last week fellow reviewer Sam Monaco wrote a review on Bing Crosby and White Christmas and it inspired me to rewatch that classic Christmas movie.  Here is a link to Sam's review. Bing Crosby

I also watched a movie that was new to me, although it came out in 2013.  It is called The Christmas Candle and has a delightful story of a minister who comes to a church in a small English village.  

The True Meaning of Christmas


The photo above depicts one of our Christmas decorations.  It is one of my favorites.  It is a cross that holds within it the scenes from the first Christmas.  As in every Christmas it is important to keep our hearts on the seasons true meaning.  

Luke 2:11

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”

King James Version (KJV)

May you and your family experience Peace and Joy during this Christmas and throughout the coming year! 



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Thursday, December 10, 2020

The Magnificent Dappled Sea Book Review


 
In this delightful historical novel by David Biro, a young boy from a small town in Italy is discovered to have leukemia and can only be helped by a bone marrow transplant.  The search for a donor brings up secrets from the past and stretches across the ocean to a rabbi in the USA.  I found this to be another one of those novels that I couldn't put down and wanted to keep reading.  It is also one where the characters come alive to the reader and linger long after you have put down the book.

Characters from the Book


  • Luca- A fascinating young boy who comes down with a dreaded disease.  Luca has a wonderful imagination and a "friend" he talks to that only he can see.  His parents were killed when he was very young and he lives with his grandparents in a small Italian village.  
  • Giovanni- Luca's grandfather who loves his grandson dearly, but is haunted by a decision he made years ago during the war when he found his son Paolo (Luca's father) and brought him home to raise him as his own.
  • Nina- A young nurse who is very dedicated and helps to lead the search to find a donor for Luca.  This search turns into a life changing event for her.
  • Rabbi Joseph Neiman- A rabbi in Brooklyn, New York who is struggling with his faith.  When he works to help a young girl in his community find a bone marrow donor, he has his own marrow tested and finds he is a match for a young  boy in Italy.  What secrets will be revealed to show how a young Catholic boy can have Jewish genes?  
  • Sarah- The wife of the rabbi who has very bad feelings toward anyone from Italy, where her grandparents were captured and sent to a concentration camp during the war.
  • Samuel- The son of the rabbi.  Samuel makes friends with the young boy from Italy.

The Book on Amazon



Lessons from the Book


The book is a work of historical fiction, which contains lessons for us all.  The book challenges our identities and shows how as humans, we are really more alike than we are different.  This is a wonderful novel which I highly recommend.



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Thursday, November 26, 2020

Thankfulness in 2020

 



In this crazy year we call 2020, it is easy to find lots to complain about, but I would like to take a few minutes to reflect on those things for which I am thankful.  Won't you join me?

Family and Friends

I am very thankful for my family and friends.  During times when we couldn't get together we have family and good friends who have stayed in touch by phone call, texts, and emails.  At the beginning of April my husband and I spent 12 days in the hospital and we never missed a day without hearing from so many people that are near and dear to us.

Now that we are home, and our health is good, these friends and family continue to contact us.  When the weather was good and we could sit out on our deck with masks and social distancing our friends would join us.  We had several small groups gather and it was wonderful to see people.

My next door neighbor is working from home and we are able to take daily walks in the fresh air.  We often go to a park near our house.  I am thankful for Teresa.  Sometimes we bring our cameras and take photos along the way.





Technology

I am very grateful for technology this year.  It has allowed us to connect in ways we otherwise couldn't.
  • We have live streamed our church services every Sunday on our TV and it has been a great comfort to worship in this manner.  




  • Our church has increased online opportunities for Bible study and for prayer services.  They are available on Zoom, Facebook, and You Tube.
  • Zoom allowed us to have visits with our doctor while we were safe in our own home.
  • Zoom also allowed my photography club to meet so we could share ideas and connect with each other.  I had never used Zoom before and it has certainly been a blessing this year.
  • We also did a Zoom call with our family for my husband's birthday.

Books

I have always enjoyed reading books, but this year I am particularly thankful for the opportunities that a book brings.  Here is a quote that I think is very fitting.

           Reading gives us someplace to go
           when we have to stay where we are.
                         Mason Cooley

Photography

Hobbies are a wonderful thing to occupy your time.  I am very thankful for my hobby of photography.  It has certainly helped to keep me grounded this year and also to help me appreciate all that is beautiful in nature.

I have had plenty of time to take online classes in photography and various software programs.  I have spent hours honing my skills and this has brought hours of enjoyment to me.  

I have then taken the skills I have learned and visited "safe places" like my yard, my neighborhood, and nearby parks.  I am so thankful for all the time I have had to devote to my hobby this year.

Here are a few of the photos that I have taken. 






Today is Thanksgiving Day in the USA.  May you and your family have a blessed Thanksgiving.  May you take a few minutes to reflect on the things for which you are thankful.






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The Review This Contributors

Cynthia SylvestermouseCynthia SylvestermouseDawn Rae BDawn Rae BMary Beth - mbgphotoMary Beth - mbgphotoBrite-IdeasBrite-IdeasBev OwensBev OwensWednesday ElfWednesday ElfBarbRadBarbRadOlivia MorrisOlivia MorrisRenaissanceWoman2010RenaissanceWomanLou16Lou16The Savvy AgeThe Savvy AgeTreasures by BrendaTreasures by BrendaMargaret SchindelMargaret SchindelSam MonacoSam MonacoRaintree AnnieRaintree AnnieBuckHawkBuckHawkDecoratingforEventsDecoratingforEventsHeather426Heather426Coletta TeskeColetta TeskeMissMerFaeryMissMerFaeryMickie_GMickie_G

 

Review This is Dedicated to the Memory of Our Beloved Friend and Fellow Contributor
We may be apart, but You Are Not Forgotten

Susan DeppnerSusan Deppner

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