Poetry Friday: In Defiance of Snow

Each Friday, I am excited to take part in Poetry Friday, where writers share their love of all things poetry. Tricia Stohr-Hunt has the Poetry Friday Roundup today at The Miss Rumphius Effect. Drop by and see what poetry morsels are offered this week.

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After a mild start, winter has arrived in the Midwest. We’ve had some warm days sprinkled through January and February, but we’ve also been dusted with snow several times. Now snow is back in the forecast early next week. Don’t get me wrong, I still get excited when the snowflakes begin to swirl, and would feel cheated out of winter if we had now snow at all, but I get just as excited about the first signs of spring.

Yesterday, I was surprised to see the green blades of daffodils already poking through the earth underneath the tree in the backyard. Even though the tree branches are still bare and more winter weather is on the way, spring is coming. I wrote this haiku to remember:

Green blades slice skyward

through cold, dark earth, defying

clouds that threaten snow.

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It’s Monday! What are you reading?

It’s Monday! What are you reading? Is a meme started by Sheila at Book Journey. Kellee and Rikki at Unleashing Readers and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts gave the meme a kidlit twist. It’s a great way to reflect on what you’ve read and reviewed the last week and plan what you want to read next. Join up with us and discover what good books other people are reading.

IMWAYR 2015

 

I haven’t finished very much this week, but I’ve been reading lots of different texts–magazines, websites, newspapers. As you can see from my books below, I’m in the middle of quite a few books, too. I’m also trying to get back in the habit of writing regularly in a journal. I even managed to write a poem for Poetry Friday this week:

I finished…

The Anatomy of Curiosity by Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton, Brenna Yovanich – While I read the first two selections, I sometimes wished I could see the before and after drafts of the stories–or at least of particular sections. Brenna Yovanich provides multiple drafts of a story about drowning as she explores how she starts with an idea (in this case, events that happened in her real life) and develops it into a work of fiction. In between drafts, she shares her efforts to work through the process to get to the truth of the story. Each of the three writers have a completely different writing process, and I learned much from each of them.

I’m currently reading…

Learning to Walk in the Dark by Barbara Brown Taylor – I’m rereading this book since my Bible study group has chosen to read it. We had a good first discussion over our own experiences with both physical darkness and the portrayal of spiritual darkness. One of the things I enjoy most about this group is that we bring such different backgrounds with us and learn from each other. Even as I reread, I am still fascinated by facts about darkness that I didn’t know. Did you know that there are three different moments of twilight?

Keeping the Sabbath Wholly by Marva J. Dawn – The chapters I read this week focused on the act of resting–not only physical rest, but also emotional, spiritual, and social rest. All are interconnected (and connected with ceasing from last week). It hit me today just how much the choices I make for one day each week can impact the rest of the week. I am exploring practices that help me to cease and rest on the Sabbath (observed on Sundays in my faith tradition). The one that has helped me the most is physically putting away work-related things on Saturday evenings. I pack up the computer and papers and shut the door on them. I am amazed at how putting them out of sight helps me not to fret over them on Sunday.

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater – It has been so hard for me this week as I read with my daughter because I know what’s coming. I keep biting my tongue to keep myself from saying, “Pay attention. This part is important later.” I don’t want to give anything away. We finally read the chapter where the biggest revelation was made. (She almost guessed part of it, but was still shocked at the complete revelation.) I was impressed that she was able to catch it through the haze of medication she was under from getting her wisdom tooth cut out.

Raising Chickens for Dummies by Kimberly Willis and Rob Ludlow – Did you know that chickens don’t have teeth or taste buds? Even so, they can be picky eaters (like toddlers or teenagers), picking out their favorite foods and not eating a well-balanced diet. In addition too reading about what to feed chickens, my husband and I attended a workshop on raising backyard chickens and selling eggs. We aren’t interested into getting into the egg business beyond eating them ourselves and sharing with the neighbors, but we did meet several local people who own chickens and who offered to give us tours of their coops as we prepare for our own chicks.

Coming up…

While still waiting for my books to come available on Overdrive, I made it to our local library and found Gregory Maguire’s After Alice. I had planned to start it while waiting during my daughter’s wisdom tooth surgery, but I couldn’t focus. I flipped through magazines instead and found a new recipe I copied down to try later. I even found a book I’d like to get for Anna’s graduation, but didn’t have time to write it down, so I hope I can find a book by Patrice about auto maintenance for women. I’m going to be out of town in meetings four days this week, so I hope I can squeeze in some time with Alice.

What books are you reading this week?

Disclosure: I participate in the Amazon Associates Program. If you decide to make a purchase by clicking on the affiliate links, including in the linked picture above. Amazon will pay me a commission. This commission doesn’t cost you any extra. All opinions are my own.

Poetry Friday:

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The big blizzard mostly missed us last weekend, but we did get to enjoy a bit of snow from its fringe as we went with my daughter on a college visit in Evansville. While the university cancelled classes for the day, the Scholars Day visit continued on through the snow. As always, I loved watching the snow transform the drab winter world into a wonderland. Here is the poem that has been percolating every since our first snowfall this year.

Grey clouds squat low in the sky

like old women sifting snowflakes

that mute the colors and blur the edges of the world.

Grey clouds whisper secrets

that blow through the sky,

swirling snowflakes that hide the drab debris of winter

under a white blanket.

Grey clouds laugh in the sky

like old women tucking the world in close

and wrapping it in quiet wonder.

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Catherine has the Poetry Friday Roundup today at Reading to the Core. Drop by and see what poetry morsels are offered this week.

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

It’s Monday! What are you reading? Is a meme started by Sheila at Book Journey. Kellee and Rikki at Unleashing Readers and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts gave the meme a kidlit twist. It’s a great way to reflect on what you’ve read and reviewed the last week and plan what you want to read next. Join up with us and discover what good books other people are reading.

IMWAYR 2015

 

Last week was filled with appointments and college visits. This week coming up is looking to be just as full. I am glad, though, that I managed to keep the sourdough starter warm enough to stay alive and make a couple of loaves this weekend. We enjoyed some snow last week, but the brunt of the big blizzard missed us. I hope those of you who got snowed under are finding a way to dig out!

I finished…

Birdwing by Rafe Martin – This retelling of the fairy tale of the swan brothers picks up where the fairy tale leaves off. From the fairy tale, six brothers were turned into swans. Their sister wove shirts of nettles to turn them back into humans, but she didn’t finish the last shirt. The youngest brother was left with one wing once he regained human form. Ardwin–that youngest brother–struggles to find his place in the world. When he fears his father might cut off his arm to make a political alliance, Ardwin escapes the palace and begins a journey of discovery. Along the way he meets people who accept him or fear him (including a witch, a magician and a goose girl) and he finally learns what strengths and gifts his wing brings him. I loved this exploration of a fairy tale that I’m not as familiar with.

I’m currently reading…

My America: A Poetry Atlas of the United States, selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins and illustrated by Stephen Alcorn – This week I visited the South (where I grew up) and the Midwest (where I currently live). I love how a few lines of words can capture the soul of a place–or at least a glimpse of it.

Learning to Walk in the Dark by Barbara Brown Taylor – I’m rereading this book since my Bible study group has chosen to read it. I’m looking forward to some interesting discussions. Taylor challenges conventional notions of darkness. (How often do you hear someone describe darkness as good rather than fearful or evil?) I am also fascinated by what she learned about darkness. Did you know there are three different twilights that measure the coming of evening? I didn’t.

Keeping the Sabbath Wholly by Marva J. Dawn – This year I am exploring the practice of keeping the Sabbath, and Dawn’s book is the first I’m reading this year. The book is organized into four weekly themes with daily readings for each. This past week focused on the theme of ceasing–from work, productivity, worry, control. It’s hard for me to let go even for one day, but I am learning the gifts of Sabbath as I try it out and reflect.

The Anatomy of Curiosity by Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton, Brenna Yovanich – This week I read Gratton’s story “Desert Canticle.” When Gratton writes, she begins with a world–in this case a desert world with magical IEDs. I was fascinated with how she uses elements of world building to develop and reveal character and plot and how the smallest of details can show so much about a world, both the created world and the real world.  Now I’m eager to create a world to learn what I can discover about both the story I am writing and the world I live in.

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater – My daughter still says she doesn’t like it, but she still asks me to read every night and often begs for “just one more” chapter. She may pretend to be asleep, but she still laughs at the right parts (even though the book is strange and mysterious, there are many funny lines) and asks questions. I love the chance to reread at a slower pace and appreciate just how brilliant this book is. I’m eagerly waiting the fourth book in the series which will be out this spring.

Raising Chickens for Dummies by Kimberly Willis and Rob Ludlow – This week I’m reading about housing my (future) chickens. Who knew there were so many choices for coops, shelters and runs. While the little coops at the local farm store are adorable, I don’t think they are very practical. While it is too cold and snowy to get outside to build much, we can start drawing up plans and supply lists.

Coming up…

I rediscovered the joys of Overdrive from our library last week, but the two books I wanted I had to put on hold. I hope they will become available soon. Meanwhile, I think it’s past time for a trip to the library to what books they have on the shelves!

What books are you reading this week?

Disclosure: I participate in the Amazon Associates Program. If you decide to make a purchase by clicking on the affiliate links, including in the linked picture above. Amazon will pay me a commission. This commission doesn’t cost you any extra. All opinions are my own.

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

It’s Monday! What are you reading? Is a meme started by Sheila at Book Journey. Kellee and Rikki at Unleashing Readers and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts gave the meme a kidlit twist. It’s a great way to reflect on what you’ve read and reviewed the last week and plan what you want to read next. Join up with us and discover what good books other people are reading.

IMWAYR 2015

The past week was quite slow. Cold and snow invited us to snuggle in with mugs of hot chocolate and books and movies. I even–finally–got to watch the movie version of Paper Towns with my daughter and one of her friends. It’s been a while since I’ve read it, so I enjoyed the movie much more than the girls, who kept pointing out all of the differences. Over all, though, the movie captured the spirit of the book pretty well.

Blog posts this week:

I finished…

Searching for Sunday by Rachel Held Evans – Even though my faith journey has not been as fraught with struggle as Evans was, I found myself nodding in agreement with much of what she writes. I read with a pen in hand so I could underline lines I want to come back to or that struck a cord. I read quickly because I wanted to find out what she would say next, but this is a book I will go back to and read again, this time slowly, so I can ponder.

Unlearning Church by Michael Slaughter (new edition) – Not just in church, but in many places I’ve been involved, I get frustrated when people do things because that’s the way it’s always been done. I used to drive my mom crazy with my demands for a better reason. In the context of church, Slaughter gives plenty of compelling reasons why every church should seek to grow into its ministry with its own unique character driven by the Spirit, NOT copy what has been done before. My  mind is reeling with ideas to think about–and to share with my church.

I’m currently reading…

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater – I finally talked my daughter into letting me read this one aloud to her. I know she’s going to like it (sometimes mom’s approval is the kiss of death for a book recommendation), but she resisted. At first she stifled her snickers in her pillow as I read. Now she is commenting on the characters and asking questions and even asking for one more chapter…

Raising Chickens for Dummies by Kimberly Willis and Rob Ludlow – This week I’m learning about different breeds of chickens. My primary interest is in having laying hens for eggs. My husband is more interested in raising chickens for meat. It looks like we’ll be looking for a duel purpose breed–hens that lay (but not quite as much as those breeds used for commercial eggs) and that grow enough meat to make butchering worthwhile (but grow more slowly than broilers). I’d one day like to try raising chicks (my husband not so much), so I’d like a breed that tends to be broody at least occasionally. Now we’re waiting for a break in the weather to start construction.

My America: A Poetry Atlas of the United States, selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins and illustrated by Stephen Alcorn – I finished my tour of the Northeast and have headed down the coast to the Southeast. I grew up in North Carolina, so many of these poems are like a visit home. Each section is preceded by a quick look at facts about each state, and I am enjoying reading the interesting fact about each state.

Anatomy of a Curiosity by Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton and Brenna Yovanich – Have you ever wondered what goes on in a writers head as they go from idea to story?  These three writers generously share their writing process with the specific example of a story they’ve written. Not only do they share how they developed the idea, but they add notes in the margin of the story that explains choices they made in the drafting or revising process. So far I’ve just read the first story by Maggie Stiefvater. I’m looking forward to the next two as well.

Coming up…

Well, it looks like I have plenty of books to finish, but I am most excited about rereading a book from last year–Learning to Walk in the Dark by Barbara Brown Taylor. I drove my family crazy with my constant talking about it, so I am glad to have a group to read and discuss it with this time around!

Disclosure: I participate in the Amazon Associates Program. If you decide to make a purchase by clicking on the affiliate links, including in the linked picture above. Amazon will pay me a commission. This commission doesn’t cost you any extra. All opinions are my own.

Poetry Friday: Fun with Magnets

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Do you remember when Magnetic Poetry first hit stores way back when? I loved the idea from the first time I heard of it and have had several collections over the years. A few weeks ago I dug out some old kits to play around with. At the time my fridge was covered with papers and calendars and photos, so I dumped the words on the dining room table and started creating poems on an old cookie sheet.

Here are the poems I created that day. I let the words take me down a strange and winding road.

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magnetic poem 3

 

magnetic poem 4

 

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Unfortunately, I don’t have space to keep words strewn across the table or even to prop up cookie sheets against the walls. So this morning I cleared the old schedules from the fridge and moved my favorite coloring pages (from my daughter and nephews and husband) to the side of the fridge to make room for magnetic words. Poems are already appearing and rearranging on the fridge, and so far I’m the only one home! I can’t wait to see what else might be created once everyone else gets home!

Keri has the Poetry Friday Roundup today at Keri Recommends. Drop by and see what poetry morsels are offered this week.

The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown

I don’t remember where I first heard of The Weird Sisters (Berkley Books, 2011) by Eleanor Brown, but it has been hanging out on my Amazon wish list for some time. This year for Christmas, my dad gave me this book, and I am glad he did. I fell completely into the story of these three sisters and didn’t want to come out.

The Andreas family is decidedly eccentric, but I think I would fit right in. Much of their childhood was shaped by their father, a brilliant professor obsessed by Shakespeare. He named each of his daughters after a character from the Bard’s plays. When words failed them, they followed their father’s lead in quoting Shakespeare lines to express their thoughts. No one in the family is ever without a book. The three Andreas sisters have now  returned home to Barnwell, Ohio, to help care for their mother, who is battling breast cancer. Each daughter also brings home a secret failure that is bound to be discovered now that they are all together under one roof again:

  • Rose (Rosalind) is a homebody who has finally found her true love. Her fiance, Jonathan, invites her to join him in England, but can she leave? Won’t her family fall apart without her there to pick up the pieces. If you haven’t guessed, Rose can be quite bossy, but she means well.
  • Bean (Bianca) fled small town Ohio for the glitz and glamour of New York City, but the city has sent her home with her tail between her legs. She is mortified at her choices that led to her ruin, but lashes out at anyone who suggests she should confront her demons.
  • Cordy (Cordelia) is the beloved baby, who never quite grew up. She’s spend the last years travelling the roads, following bands and crashing wherever she can find a spot to land. When she discovers that she is pregnant, she returns home but isn’t brave enough to share her news with her family.

Brown deftly weaves together the stories of the three sisters,both past and present, with an unusual choice of point of view–first person plural. It took me a while to get used to it, but in the end I loved how the collective consciousness of the narration tied together the lives of the three sisters. Even when they tried, they could not escape their shared past, and in the end, that shared history brought them together and freed them to choose their own futures.

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

It’s Monday! What are you reading? Is a meme started by Sheila at Book Journey. Kellee and Rikki at Unleashing Readers and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts gave the meme a kidlit twist. It’s a great way to reflect on what you’ve read and reviewed the last week and plan what you want to read next. Join up with us and discover what good books other people are reading.

IMWAYR 2015

 

We finally had our first snow of the winter. I woke up yesterday to a world wrapped in white and dropping temperatures. I snuggled in with a few good books and read the morning, afternoon and evening away while sipping hot chocolate and tea. I could get used to this…and I probably should since more snow and cold is forecast for tonight. I even got back into more regular blogging with a couple of reviews this past week. You can check out my thoughts on the two books below:

I finished…

Finding the Game by Gwendolyn Oxenham – I am so glad I got to travel around the world (vicariously) with Gwendolyn, Luke, Rebecca and Ryan as they looked for and found soccer games. These are not the soccer games played on perfect pitches by professional or even elite amateur teams. This is soccer played by people who are passionate about the game and who will play wherever and however they can. Soccer opens doors and connects these four young Americans with people around the world from city slums in Africa to rooftop fields in Japan, from a prison yard in Bolivia to illegal games in Iran. Did I mention games deep in the Amazon rainforest or on desert plains? It almost makes me wish I played soccer. Maybe I’m not too old to learn. Now that I have finished reading the book, I do want to find and watch the documentary, Pelada, that they produced from their adventures. Stay tuned for a full review coming later this week.

The Jesus Prescription for a Healthy Life by Leonard Sweet – Does the life of Jesus show us how to live a healthy life? Sweet says it does. I would love to incorporate many of theese ideas into my life this year. I don’t have to do them all at once, but I can explore them. Sweet combines stories about Jesus from the Gospels with the latest research from medicine and psychology. None of what I’ve read so far is startling or unexpected, but it’s good to be reminded of healthy choices as I start the new year.

The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown – This book was one of my Christmas presents this year, and it is even better than I had hoped. The three Andreas sisters–Rosalind/Rose, Bianca/Bean and Cordelia/Cordy–find themselves drawn back to the parents’ home in small town Branwell, Ohio, as their mother battles breast cancer. Each sister hides her own secrets that spill out as they reconnect and come to terms with each other and their past. There are so many things I loved about this book (come back for full review later this week), but how can I not enjoy spending time with a family obsessed with books and reading–and sprinkled with Shakespeare quotes.

I’m currently reading…

Searching for Sunday by Rachel Held Evans – Here’s another Christmas present. I’ve just started and am trying not to rush through it because there is much to think about. I first discovered Rachel’s writings through her blog and Facebook posts and was impressed with her ability to thoughtfully tackle difficult subjects without demonizing those who disagree. I’m surprised to learn in this faith memoir that she wasn’t always like that. I enjoy her thoughtfulness and wit as I read about her changing understanding of God and faith.

Raising Chickens for Dummies by Kimberly Willis and Rob Ludlow – After our delightful (at least I thought it was delightful) experience with Big Ben before Christmas, we are going to get chickens of our own. (We had to find Big Ben another home since we weren’t quite ready for chickens.) I grabbed this book back off my shelf (I’ve been trying to talk the family into chickens for a while) to began learning what I need to know. We’re currently planning a chicken coop and run and have signed up for a class through the county extension office. I hope to have some hens of my own by spring. Meanwhile, I can read and dream and plan and build…

My America: A Poetry Atlas of the United States, selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins and illustrated by Stephen Alcorn – I picked this book up from the prizes offered by our library’s summer reading program. Now I’m reading it for my daily does of poetry. Last week’s poems took me on a tour of the Northeast with stops in “Watercolor Maine”, “Islands in Boston Harbor,” “New England Lighthouse,” and “Gulls and Buoys.” Once I finish poems from the Northeast, I head down to the Southeast.

Coming up…

The next book I want to read is another Christmas present:  Anatomy of a Curiosity by Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton and Brenna Yovanich. I’m looking forward to more of their short stories and writerly insights. Did you know that Emma Watson has started a GoodReads book club of feminist reading? It’s called Our Shared Shelf (named by Twitter followers–the other suggestions were brilliant, too). the first book up for discussion at the end of January is My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem. It’s available as an ebook through our public library, so I’ll be downloading it to read. I love seeing my daughter’s excitement over it, too.

What have you been reading this week? Anything good?

Disclosure: I participate in the Amazon Associates Program. If you decide to make a purchase by clicking on the affiliate links, including in the linked picture above. Amazon will pay me a commission. This commission doesn’t cost you any extra. All opinions are my own.

Poetry Friday: What Have You Lost? Poems selected by Naomi Shihab Nye

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I spent months with this haunting volume of poems selected by Naomi Shihab Nye. I decided to treat myself to a poem a day, a poem for dessert or in place of an after-dinner mint. Of course, some evenings got busy and skipped a poem, but the poems always called me back.

Each of the 140 poems in the anthology What Have You Lost? ponders and answer to the question. The poems range from whimsical (such as the opening poem, “Dedication” by Jim Natal:  “This is to poems that get/lost in the dark…”) to heartbreaking (such as   “On the Suicide of a Young Boy I Did Not Know by Jennifer Weinblatt: “What do I do with this grief/that is not min, this story/that is not a story but a real/life abruptly gone…”)

The losses include those that come from growing up and growing old, from waging war and fighting prejudice, from letting go and clinging tightly. The poems that resonated deepest in my heart were those of parents watching their children grow up. My daughter is a senior this year, and I am aware of time slipping through my fingers. She will still be my daughter next year, but things will be different.

Interspersed among the poem are black and white portraits taken by Michael Nye. Each portrait tells its own story–or at least suggests enough for me to get lost in creating a story to go with it.

I suspect I will dip back into this book at other times because I have found poems that I suspect will speak to me even more at other points in my life. I am also pondering those things I have lost and looking to capture them in a poem before I lose them forever.

Now that the first week of the new year is past, I’m looking for the next volume of poetry to provide me with an after-dinner poem.

Tabitha Yeatts has the Poetry Friday Roundup today at The Opposite of Indifference. Drop by and see what poetry morsels are offered this week.

Disclosure: I participate in the Amazon Associates Program. If you decide to make a purchase by clicking on the affiliate links, including in the linked picture above. Amazon will pay me a commission. This commission doesn’t cost you any extra. All opinions are my own.

Fool’s Girl by Celia Rees

Violetta appears to be the young and beautiful apprentice of a Fool, who entertains passersby on the streets of London, but appearances can be deceiving.. She is really of noble birth, forced to flee her homeland when it is attacked from without and betrayed from within. She and the Fool–Festus, who is not foolish at all–weaving a web to catch the playwright Shakespeare, who will provide the means for them to steal back the sacred relic at the heart of the country and one day return to rule their country.

Celia Rees has spun the story behind the story with The Fool’s Girl (Scholastic 2010). The young Shakespeare is still struggling to establish himself in the precarious theater world of England. He is captivated by Violetta’s story, which Rees lifts from Twelfth Night. (Or is it Shakespeare who steals the story from Violetta?) As Violetta and Festus reel him in, Shakespeare finds that he is no longer in charge of the story, but caught up in a web of intrigue whose strands are being pulled by the highest political powers. He must get every word and action just right, or it could be the end of the Globe Theater and more.

Even though its inspiration is from Twelfth Night, The Fool’s Girl is an original tale filled with romance and danger. The story roams from the beautiful shores of Illyria (where Violetta lives a charmed childhood before her country is ripped apart) to the slums of London (where Violetta is streetsmart), the village of Avon (where Mrs. Shakespeare rules the homestead) and deep into the forest of Arden (where Violetta discovers a mysterious haven).

Through all the twists and turns of the story, Violetta remains strong and determined. I love that she doesn’t just let fate unwind but takes control of her own destiny wherever possible. While she would love a happy ending with her childhood friend Stephano, she will not let romance interfere with what she knows is right. There is no taking the easy way out for this girl, but can she pull all the threads of her story together before the evil Malvolio succeeds in destroying her and all she loves once and for all?

Disclosure: I participate in the Amazon Associates Program. If you decide to make a purchase by clicking on the affiliate links, including in the linked picture above. Amazon will pay me a commission. This commission doesn’t cost you any extra. All opinions are my own.

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