Tag: nancy (Page 1 of 22)

A Single Sheet of Paper

She stops me, this incredible woman and artist I now know as Miki Willa, and tells me a story . . . this story:

“I knew what to do,” says Miki, “because I’ve watched Nancy express herself through pen and paper, though art.”

The Little Paper That Could

These are Vanessa’s marks. These size of the paper is about 3″ x 5″, while the size of the meaning is limitless, unmeasurable.

As Though That Isn’t Amazing In and Of Itself 

In 2014, when Kathy Loomis mentioned that there were still spots available in the Dorothy Caldwell workshop in Louisville. I put my name on a chair. Never one to sit still, I took In Our Own Language 3 along to work on during “down times”. Dorothy saw me stitching and asked me to kick the next day off by talking about In Our Own Language 3..

After the following morning’s impromptu presentation, a woman sitting behind me my now-friend Rosemary Claus-Gray suggested I write a book about my collaboration with Nancy to give other families hope and encouragement to find ways to communicate with their loved ones that don’t involve the spoken word. She even wrote the foreword to nudge me to get started.  Though I haven’t written the first word, I hold Rosemary’s foreward in a safe, special place so I can find it when I do shove all else aside and write this book. It will happen, Rosemary, I promise, Thank you for listening to your intuition and making the suggestion. And thank you, Miki, for changing lives with a single sheet of paper.

Quilts on Display at Sacred Threads 2019

2 women stand beside a quilt of the Buddha

Miki and Jeanne stand in front of Miki’s quilt Meeting the Buddha on the Path (48″ x 34″) on display at Sacred Threads 2019. When arranging ourselves for the photo, Miki placed me so that the Buddha’s hand touched my shoulder because the Buddha’s raised hand is a blessing offered. (And you thought the Buddha was doing “rabbit ears” behind me!) Ever since Miki told me that, I offer a silent blessing when waving to someone.

2 women stand beside a black quilt covered with colorful doodles and a little girl's white pinafore (dress)

Miki and Jeanne stand with Jeanne and Nancy’s quilt, Playground of Her Soul.

Isn’t it astonishing how much goodness happens when we pay attention?

~~~~~~~

Right this way for more 70273 Project videos.

Sacred Threads or Bust

little girl's white dress with sash sewn over a black quilt filled with colorful stitched scribbles

closeup of the white dress sewn onto a black quilt covered with colorful stitched scribbles

As many of you know, I stitch the marks of my sister-in-law Nancy in my spare time. I’m tickled to tell you that Playground of Her Soul, stitched selections from Nancy’s first five sets of drawings,was recently juried into the Sacred Threads exhibit (don’t you love the name?) and will be headed to Herndon, VA where it will be on exhibit from July 11 – 28, 2019. Do make plans to visit because it promises to be be an amazing exhibit. And let me know when you’re going ’cause if we’re there at the same time, I sure would love to call you “Sugar” to your face.

The 70273 Project Special Exhibit at Sacred Threads

There will also be a Special Exhibit of a few quilts from The 70273 Project on display there, and since it’s within spittin’ distance to Washington, D. C., please let me know if you know anybody who’s connected with the U. S. Holocaust Museum. Barbara Hollinger, Curator of Sacred Threads, had the good idea for me to invite people from the U.S. Holocaust Museum to see The 70273 Project quilts on display there and to hopefully get the ball rolling towards an exhibit at the Holocaust Museum.

Visit the calendar for more information about the Sacred Threads exhibit and more. Hint: if you click in the upper right hand corner of the page where it says “view as” and select the option for a “list view”, it makes it easier to find things. At least for me it does.

Eye Contact: Making a Connection

If you’d like to be a part of Sacred Threads, there’s still time. When The 70273 Project was a Special Exhibit at the International Quilt Festival in November 2017, Barbara Hollinger had a Special Exhibit of the most exquisite wind chimes right next door to us. We met, Barbara and I did, and as we talked about the importance of meaningful conversations,  we both had a flash image of eyes. You know how it goes, we shared goosebumps and descriptions of what we were seeing in our mind’s eyes, and Barbara took that exchange home with her and made it part of this year’s Sacred Threads exhibit. If you’d like to make and send some cloth eyes, here’s how.

Shattered

orderly black and white blocks become black and white lines skewed and scattered. pink collar from a little girl's dress adorned with pink ribbon roses lays on black and white blocks.

Shattered / 24″ w by 27″ h / January 2019

Artist Statement

Nancy was born into a family of engineers. It was a world of perfect order, straight lines, black and white. If you followed the formulas, the blueprints, the textbooks, you got to where you wanted to go. There was safety, predictability, and the future was bright.

When teenagers hung three year old Nancy by the neck from the swing set, the world went sideways. Lives were shattered. Order became chaos. Black and white grids became shards. The formulas led to nowhere familiar or comfortable.

It was a fissure of stability and security.

Nancy is my sister-in-law. Today she is in reasonably good health, content with whatever she has, and smiles more than she frowns. She has a vocabulary of about 12 words, and 6 of them are the word “love”.

In June 2012, Nancy began making marks, and since June 2012, I stitch her marks.* Though she gives no indication that she understands our collaboration, it has deepened our relationship in ways I never dreamed possible and opened my life in ways I never dreamed imaginable. Nancy is my Wise Woman, and I am a better woman because she is in my life.

*The drawings you see on the shards are some of her first drawings.

A closeup of Shattered

Another closeup of Shattered

Personal Note and The Particulars

I love emails that begin with “Congratulation,” like the one I received a week or so ago telling me that Shattered was juried into the Fissures Exhibit at the Emerald Art Center / 500 Main Street / Springfield, Oregon. The exhibit opens on Tuesday, March 5, 2019 and closes on Saturday, March 30, 2019. From 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. On Friday, March 8, there’s the Artist’s Awards Presentation and reception that’s part of the 2nd Friday Art Walk. If you can attend, let me know ’cause I just might be cooking up a road trip and would love to meet you there.

Nancy Responds to Our Collaboration

A question I am frequently asked  is “What does Nancy think about you stitching her drawings?” And the answer is: “I haven’t a clue, not an inkling.”

She doesn’t give any verbal or physical indication that she understands or even recognizes that I am stitching her marks, that we are in collaboration. My only indicator is how our relationship has changed since June 2012 when she began drawing and I began stitching her drawings. In the 39 years I’d known and loved Nancy prior to June 2012, I was an aside existing in the shadow of The Engineer (a.k.a. Andy) because you see, Nancy has always loved Andy more than I love pocketbooks. “Andy, Andy, Andy,” she would say through her face-sized smile, her love and adoration due in part to the natural bond of affection and in part from her Mother’s influence. Mrs. Chambers – or Mama C as I often called her – talked adoringly of Andy, and Nancy followed suit. Though it stung at times, I always understood that Mrs. C’s first concern was for Nancy’s well being. She knew that Andy would always be in Nancy’s life, and regardless of how many years we had on the books, I was still a question mark that she couldn’t afford to invest in wholeheartedly.

Nevertheless, Mama C knew I loved Nancy with every nano-inch of my heart. She made that obvious. When the institution where Nancy lived contacted Mrs. C asking permission to sterilize Nancy (at least they asked, right?), she invited me to lunch to talk about it. When it was time to move Nancy to another facility, she asked me to go down and have a look then let her know my thoughts. When she was in the hospital and couldn’t attend Nancy’s Parents’ Day, I assured her we would go, and when she was on her deathbed, I told Andy that the best gift we could give his mother was to go visit Nancy, take her some strawberries and cookies “for the friends” like Mrs. C. always did, then go back to the hospital with reassurances, stories, and photos of Nancy’s well being. Yes, it didn’t take all that long for Mrs. C. to believe my assurances that Nancy would always be taken care of (something Mr. C. didn’t invest in until he was on his dying bed), and while maybe there was no doubt about that, I would never be blood kin. I get that.

So Nancy was obvious in her love for Andy and tolerated me. That’s how it went for the longest time. Then came June 2012 when the drawings and stitchings began, and since then there are signs that Nancy, too,  believes I do and always will love her. I am included in her love talk. I am now considered a “pretty good girl” (Nancy’s highest compliment). She wants to hold my hand when we go walking. She turns to talk to me when we’re in the car. Our togetherness is decorated with signs that I have gained her trust and love, and I credit it all to art.

As to what she thinks about our collaboration, as to her response to seeing her drawings in stitch, I haven’t a clue, so yesterday I asked Andy to show her In Our Own Language 3 on exhibit at the Ross Art Museum on the campus of Ohio Wesleyan University while I recorded her reaction. Have a look, and let me turn the question back on you. What do you see? What’s your interpretation of her reaction? What do you think she thinks / how do you think she feels about our collaboration?

 

In Our Own Language 3 at the Ross Art Museum in Ohio

Y’all know I haven’t had a minute’s regret about launching The 70273 Project. Not a single minutes much as a nano. And yet . . .  a few months ago I found myself going splat.

Splat, I tell you.

I lost myself in the forest of systems and forms and communications and tallying and spreadsheets and planning.  I was putting in the hours, but I just couldn’t catch up – something that wears heavily on an accomplishment-oriented gal – and the next thing you know, I caught myself mourning.

Yes, mourning.

I mourned the loss of my sense of humor. I mourned the loss of my creativity. I mourned the loss of my Self. Never one to stew in a vat of victim-flavored self pity for long, I started poking around, and when I found a Call for Entries for an exhibit at the Ross Art Museum called See My Voice, I sprang, took photos, completed the application, and mashed the Submit button. Several weeks later, the email came: 2 out of the 3 pieces I submitted were juried in!

Meet In Our Own Language 3

 

and Apocrypha 4

For those of you who don’t know, since June 2012, I stitch the drawings – the marks – made by my sister-in-law Nancy. Every time we visit her (about every-other month), The Engineer and I leave a box or two (10ish reams) of paper and bring home the drawings she’s made since our last visit. I bring them home, archive and title them, then I set about stitching. Once I’ve stitched every drawing in a set, the piece becomes part of the In Our Own Language Series. This third piece contains 274 stitched drawings. Apocrypha 4 is a single drawing from her first set of marks.

Taking 3 of the 5 days we had at home between trips, The Engineer and I scampered up to the Ross Art Museum in Delaware, Ohio for a look-see with our own eyes. It was worth it, y’all. It was  totally worth it. Not only were we accepted, our pieces hung with some exquisite pieces of fiber art created by some prestigious Makers . . .

Like Susan Shie, for example, of whom I’ve been a long-devoted fan
(And for the record, I’m pointing, not touching.)

And Maria Shell.
Color me another long-time devotee.

and Nancy Gamon: Prospecting

and Jo Thomas, Bittersweet the Rose

and Linda Strowbridge, Splintered

and Tasha Owen, Carnival

and Claire Murray Adams, Anonymous Makers
to name a few.

And though I’m certainly not looking for things to do, I’ve begun 2 more pieces that are yet to be titled and must be completed by this fall. But don’t you fret. I promise not to let The 70273 Project run completely off the rails. I’ll just pull 2-3 all-nighters every week, and y’all, losing the sleep will be totally worth it.

Totally.

Click here to read more about In Our Own Language 1

Here for more about In Our Own Language 2

And here for more about In Our Own Language 3

Then there’s In Our Own Language 16 in which we took a bit of a detour

Spending Thanksgiving with Nancy

My vision of a daily diary quickly
disappeared in an unceremonial poof
as the days grew long and full. Here are the highlights  . . .
Animals are usually quite leery of Nancy,
scurrying to unimaginably small hiding places.
I was very proud of Mother’s cats
who didn’t run from Nancy,
but got up close with their curiosity.

Our daughter’s cats were not . . . well, they behaved
like cats usually behave around Nancy.

Our 1.5 year old grandson Calder Ray
(Handfull, I call him. I’ll explain later – it’s not what you think)
simply accepted Nancy as she is without  curiosity or question.
Here we see him plopping himself down
in front of her in the restaurant’s waiting area,
talking to her about getting comfortable
by taking his shoes off.
Nancy talks a lot about shoes – her shoes.

We made it to North Carolina  around 2 in the morning
(way past Nancy’s bedtime),
and that could be why she didn’t understand
that I wanted her to
sit on the toilet not the bathtub.
She wasn’t hurt,
and I did manage to grab both of her arms,
breaking her fall
so she didn’t hit her head.
But goodness, what a way to
kick off Thanksgiving week.

Nancy, who loves her bling and doesn’t usually
share her necklaces with anybody,
seemed quite willing to let Handfull
explore his feminine side with her new necklaces.

We interrupt this blog post to share a shameless adoring Grandmother
(I think I want him to call me Sugar) moment.

We take Nancy with us (almost) everywhere – to see Santa,
to the Christmas Tree
Lighting at the Village Green,
to breakfast in Highlands.
(But not to the grocery store because
her mobility is such an issue,
and she is unable to operate
a motorized cart,
and not to Asheville on Wednesday
because it was a long day
filled with much movement.
She spent the day with our friend Debbie
where she could enjoy some quiet time.)

Handful spent a lot of his exploding
vocabulary on Nancy last week,
showing her the waterfall outside the door,
then climbing up to chat
with her about this and that.

Nancy wasn’t interested in putting puzzles together
or drawing – perhaps because
of the constant commotion – but she seemed
to have a big time, as my Daddy would say, anyway.

On the drive down the mountain from
North Carolina to Georgia Saturday night,
Nancy made a Real Big Mess in the backseat,
something she found quite funny,
even 24 hours later.
Perhaps it’s because it’s unexpected
or maybe it’s because she does it so seldom,
whatever the reason,
when Nancy laughs, everybody around her laughs.

After picking her up eight days ago, we deliver Nancy
back to her home in Florida yesterday,
and after a 72-hour nap,
we’ll begin making plans for Christmas.

~~~~~~~

Were we living in Germany in 1940,
Nancy most certainly would’ve received two red X’s,
been called a “useless eater”,
and declared “unworthy of life”.
What a drab world it would be without Nancy,
Brad, Robby, Rachel, Kevin
and my other friends with disabilities in it,
and that’s one reason I’ll be making
more blocks, quilts, Middlings, and Minis for The 70273 Project.
Join me?

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Diary of a Week with Nancy: Day One

Saturday, 17 Nov 17
Fayetteville, GA
3:30 a.m.

The alarm clock goes off. The Engineer and I dress and make our way to the Atlanta airport. We are flying to Florida to fetch Nancy today and bring her home for Thanksgiving.

9:00 a.m.
Arriving at Nancy’s house, I ask her for a hug and get a two-armed hug instead of the usual lean-in-my-direction with her upper body. She’s ready to “go home for Thanksgiving.”

10:15 a.m.
Andy drops Nancy and me off curbside while he goes to return the car. As I toss the carry-on over my shoulder (I make it sound so light and easy!), freeing up one hand to roll the checked-bag while the other hand holds onto Nancy, Wayne Friday, a Southwest Sky Cap, leaves his station and walks over to the curb. He takes the suitcase then tells Nancy and me for us to stay where we are while he goes to get a wheelchair “’cause I can tell you need one.” He is gone several minutes, then returns smiling with a wheelchair in hand. As I struggle to get Nancy seated  in the wheelchair as expeditiously as possible so as not to hold Wayne or any other customers up, Wayne assures me he will wait as long as possible. He is calm, kind, and patient. I want him on my Committee of Jeanne.

He checks the three of us in, then pushes the wheelchair inside the terminal and down I don’t know how far to the elevator he says Andy will surely be taking. “This way,” he tells me, “you can see him right when he gets off the elevator and you won’t have so far to walk.”

“You can’t leave yet,” I tell him, “because I have absolutely no money for a tip, and if anybody ever deserved a tip, it’s you, Wayne Friday.” He chuckles and says, “Just keep flying Southwest. That’s more than enough.” When Andy gets off the elevator, just as Wayne promised he would, we walk back to Wayne so I can leave $10.00 in his hand. It’s not nearly enough, but all the cash we have. That with the letter I intend to write will have to do.

11:05 a.m.
We arrive at gate 120 and position Nancy’s wheelchair just behind the sign that says “Preboard Area.” Twenty minutes later, two women come – one pushing her wheelchair, the other walking hers – and get in line behind Nancy, but only for a few minutes, preferring to sit directly in front of the gate agent’s desk instead. He tells them that while they don’t have to go back to the Preboard Area, they will need to move because there’s a plane landing in a few minutes and people will need to go right through where they are sitting. Perhaps fearing they’ll be forgotten, they don’t budge.

11:35 a.m.
I take Nancy to the bathroom where women don’t wait for me to ask for help. They simply see what I need, and they do it, all the while offering me reassuring words as I apologize for inconveniencing them. I didn’t know until we had everything off that Nancy wears two pairs of disposable underwear, and I only brought one. There’s nothing to do but go back, fetch another pair, then find our way back to the bathroom.

On our second trip to the restroom, a plane has arrived, so there’s a line. The woman in front of me holds the hand of her young daughter, and when it’s finally her turn, it’s the handicap stall that becomes available. “You go ahead,” she tells me with a smile as she steps aside to let me pass.

Now our first trip was to the handicap stall at the far end of the bathroom where there is a sink and room for the wheelchair and my mother’s family. This stall is mere steps away. It is much smaller, and when I finally manage to get me, Nancy, and the wheelchair inside, I am sitting on the toilet with my feet on the arms of the wheelchair, the feet of the wheelchair touching the toilet, and not nearly enough room to close the door. Though it disrupts the flow of things, I open the stall door, stand Nancy up, then push the wheelchair out. I catch the eye of a woman and ask if she’ll roll the chair over to the little cubby I spy. It’s a small bathroom, and to leave the wheelchair just outside the door would mean nobody could enter or leave the entire bathroom. “Of course,” she says with a smile, and when I open the door to leave, I’m greeted by the same smiling face. “I thought you might need help again, so I waited on you,” she tells me. I resist the urge to  kiss her.

On the way back to the gate area, we twice navigate our way past a woman who is leaning on her baby’s stroller, texting while she walks in leisurely, mindless circles, oblivious to the presence of anybody else. Three men stand in the middle of the aisle – also texting – their carry-on luggage on the floor beside them. For a moment, I wish the wheelchair came with a “wide load” sign, flashing lights, and maybe even the back-up beep of a golf cart. We must get past them to get back to Andy. I scout out options for other routes, there are none. In response to my, “Excuse me, please,” one grumbles, one signs audibly, and the other does nothing.

1:00 p.m.
I find the spot for my boarding assignment A55, leaving Andy (who has a higher boarding assignment in the C group) to board with Nancy. Eric, the gate agent, motions for them to board first because we were the first ones in line to Preboard. He notices, he remembers, he boards in order of arrival. I’ll write two letters to Southwest – Eric gets his own.

1:25 p.m.
Comfortably situated in the first row of seats, we get to hear and see Flight Attendant Bingo (“After four girls, BINGO, we have a boy!”), and that right there is worth the price of admission. He is firmly in control of this flight with reins we are happy to leave in his hands because he is so darn fun and pleasant. Friendly, really, affable. He greets every person – not every fifth person, not every time he happens to look up, but every single person –  as they board the plane as though welcoming us to a party at his home. He notices the bling of princess attire (we are in Orlando, you know), the hats of fellow veterans, reads the t-shirs on the young boys. This is going to be a good flight.

3:15 p.m.
We arrive in Atlanta, and because Nancy moves at the speed of frozen molasses, we wait to let just others get off first. Every passenger makes a point to smile and say “Thank you” to Bingo as they leave. It changes the air we breathe, all that gratitude. Yes, Bingo set the tone for the fight, and he is pitch perfect. I’ll write three letters.

Bingo frequently glances out the door to assure us there’s a wheelchair waiting for us. He even offers to hold up the line so we can get off, and we tell him we’d prefer to wait a little longer so as not to back things up. Finally it is time for us to get off, and just as Nancy’s foot crosses the threshold separating airplane from jetway, we spy a woman take her seat in the waiting wheelchair while her husband gets behind her to push, and off they go in a great big hurry. Bingo hollers after them, but they don’t even look back. We get Nancy completely off the plane and stop. It’s the only thing we can do. As they exit the plane, the pilots tell us they’ll make sure somebody brings back a wheelchair. Nobody does.

A female gate agent comes out and says Nancy will have to walk because there are no more wheelchairs. “It’s a long walk,” I tell her, “this could take a while.” I turn around so I can take both of Nancy’s hands in mine and walk backwards down the jetway, guiding her and alerting her to inclines and speed bumps. Though I know she’s anxious for us to get off the jetway so they can have an on-time departure, the gate attendant never says so, slowing her pace to match ours, holding onto Nancy’s left elbow as we make our way towards the terminal. Eventually, we make it to the gate area, and voila – there’s a wheelchair waiting on us . . . in the gate area . . . at the end of a l-o-n-g jetway.

On the train, off the train and into the l-o-n-g line for the elevator that will land us at baggage claim, we find ourselves behind the woman and man who took Nancy’s wheelchair. The man (her pusher) makes his way to the front of the line and informs people that his ride is waiting on them upstairs, and when nobody will let him break to the front of the line, a miracle occurs: the woman stands, hoists her bag, and the two of them walk back to take the escalator to baggage claim, leaving the vacated wheelchair sitting empty in line.

5:30 p.m.
We pick up our daughter, get a quick bite to eat, then drop Andy and Nancy back at the house to enjoy (I use the term lightly, as it turns out) the second half of the Georgia Tech game while we run an errand. Once back, I sit and try to write this post, but my brain is screaming for sleep, threatening to post unintelligible nonsense, so I prepare the photos then sit and stare at the screen until 9 p.m. when we can give Nancy her bedtime meds and call it a day.

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Time for Nancy to Blow Out the Candles Again!

It’s that time of year again – the day for Nancy to blow out the candles on her cake! If you’ve poked around this blog, you know who Nancy is, and if you’re at all familiar with The 70273 Project, you know that I was stitching Nancy’s drawings when The Idea came and whispered to the ears of my heart. Since Nancy is a woman of few words, I think we’ll celebrate today in photos.  Click on the photos and get to know Nancy, if you’re a mind to. I’ll be surprised if you don’t leave this post smiling and feeling a little lighter. Nancy does that for folks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy birthday, Nancy. May you have many, many, many more.

~~~

P.S. I want y’all to know that when I called to order flowers for our Nancy, the owner of the shop told me about her brother who is 1 year older than Nancy, disabled, and lives right down the street from her. Can we say “small world” one more time?!

Living Gratitude

To all who brighten days with laughter, kindness, and thoughtfulness,

To all who spill goodness into the world at every turn and opportunity,

To all who keep a respectful, open heart to those with differences large and small,

To all who shine light into the darkness,

To all who dare to think for yourselves and allow others to do the same,

To all who help commemorate the 70273 precious souls,

Thank you and Happy Thanksgiving from The Engineer, Nancy, and me.

Our Little Houdini

Nancy24Marh16c

Hospital Room 534
Orange City, FL
Wednesday
3/23/2016

Nancy is not as alert today as she was yesterday, though I think her tongue is receding in size. Tired of the catheter, she simply wiggles her way out of it, leaving it on the side of the bed. They decide to leave it out, and I am not sorry about that decision.

I  kick some serious ass today, and I feel really, really good about it. Boot one doctor, despite being told by many that it couldn’t be done. Put others on notice. Have an eyeball to eyeball with one particular nurse, and it goes so well that within 5 minutes of my little treatise about both of us being on Team Nancy, she was wheeling me in a reclining chair, pillow, and blanket. Without me asking.

Undoubtedly the best part (aside from booting the asshat doctor) . . .

mittens

Around 4 am I sit in my recliner, stitching. My feet are up and my chair is positioned about an arm’s length away, facing Nancy. In one sure and swift move that takes less than 90 seconds, our little Houdini wrestles her hands out of the protective mittens – without disturbing the velcro binding, mind you – and yanks that tube from her nose.

I fetch Nurse CeeCe who comes into the room and takes her position in one side of Nancy while I position myself on the other side.

“Did Jeanne do that?” CeeCe asks Nancy, giving a curt nod in my direction.

“Yes,” Nancy says, waiting a beat before busting out into a full body chortle. She laughs about once every 17 years, and let me tell you, the sound of her laugh spreads to those around her quicker than poison ivy on a hot day in a wrestling ring.

The three of us keep laughing, and every time we stop to catch our breath, I say “You pulled that tube out your own self, and you’re blaming it on me,” and the chortling starts all over again.

Three women, laughing their heads off at 4 o’clock in the morning. It is one of the sweetest moments of my life, one I will carry tucked into my heart forever. The sound of Nancy’s laughter is delightful in and of itself. And the cognitive connections she makes to enkindle that laughter – that astonishing element of surprise because sometimes I  don’t give her enough credit – well, wow.

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