Friday, February 26, 2010

That's The (Human) Spirit ...

Are you all still here? More to the question, am I all here? 
If you remember rightly from Wednesday's post (what I hope was Wednesday's post as I'm clearly not here to check), I am currently galivanting around skiing and signing the final sale of La Fontiane, our house in Provence. All going well of course! And, skiing aside, between petrol strikes, incompetent real estate agents, bullying pseudo buyers and  very dodgy property lawers, to the eye of the average Ange, all is most certainly NOT going WELL! 

But let's not be pessimistic ;-) 
We're not BEATEN YET!

There is always a solution. One requiring resolve (even if I'm shaking on the inside I'm not meant to show it, right?), determination, stamina and  arming myself with large doses of a keen sense of humour, to this day not readily available over the counter in chemists across France. Meredy - can one administer your blog intravenously??? I have been asking myself this for the last week or so... Sigh. Not to worry! I have a secret weapon anyway. I have in fact spent the last few weeks incognito working on this piece... order to steel my resolve and boost my will.
It is inspired by Helen Keller, sitting up there at the top of the page, a woman who continues to inspire the entire world through her example of staunch courage, integrity and resolve in the face of many odds (OK - we'll  choose to ignore her initial terrifying temper tantrums cos all kids go through them, and she never got any of Meredy's rainbow cake to help her feel better... n'est ce pas?).

As she (Helen, not Meredy) so astutely said:

No Pessimist ever discovered the secrets of the stars
Sailed to an unchartered land, or 
Opened a new Heaven




This is for Elizabeth Avedon, another inspiring and talented woman.

Now - full of optimisim - I say see you Samedi 
because all will, of course, be well!
'Now don't you worry about that my goodness gracious me ;-)'

PS I am surely missing your blogs immensely as you are reading this and will be back to dropping round as soon as I am home and equipped with an unfaltering and dedicated internet connection... In the old farm house at 1700m altitude, we are just lucky to have a heated room, a bathroom and lighting!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Something thrilling every day...

"YOu're going skiing?" you say. 
"Up to the French Southern Alpes in a tiny village called Allos?
My my, that sounds WONDERFUL!"

And of course it will be fabuleux to catch up with my sweet messmonsters and watch them whizzing past me as I feebly cry out, 'Wait for Mummy! Don't go so fast! DON'T BREAK A LEG!'
... IF, I ever actually arrive!

You see, there are nation-wide petrol strikes happening in France. Now don't you worry there possums. I'm well used to it by now. In any given year there are at least 4 or 5 country-crippling transport strikes that take the French population and any one else vagabonding through the French countryside hostage. However, other than a lot of indignant hot air blowing and general grumbling at the inconvenience, plus a bit of finger wagging to emphasise the exasperation level, your average Frenchie would never forgo their constitutional right to strike - even if that means watching struggling small businesses go under while big multi nationals and or public sector companies complain about poor pay and health benefits etc, ad infinitum. Yes - Strikes are almost a national sport in France, bringing out the same fervour and animosity in the population that other countries save for Rugby matches and your average Olympic games events.

A good transport transport-halting strike happens (nearly always at holiday time, most often Christmas) at least once every year, when it will get the most media attention and of course, have the greatest effect by leaving families stranded in other countries or cities. Of course, this can have the secretly coveted side effect of providing extra days off work but leaves hotels perplexed as to how to cope with emergency double bookings, and hand waving, irate non-French speaking tourists like 'Strines,' Kiwis and ...Markins!!

 I believe some strike attempts were thwarted this year as snow and ice stopped nationwide, indeed international travel before resident strikers even had a chance to whip out and polish last year's slogans... This has obviously left them strike-deprived and I'm most surprised they aren't off on worker's compo because of it!! But ... as it turns out, conveniently in time for me to pop off skiing, they're back in force with a vengeance!

So, as you read this I will be somewhere in the middle of a 5h + adventure, amusing myself immensely with the petrol gauge on my trusty little car. But you all knew I LOVED adventure, didn't you!! This time, fate may throw me together with some other lovely people on the side of the road somewhere; or if I'm luckier, in the comfort of a petrol-depleted gas station. People who, like me, will not be able to fill their car up and move along to their desired destination. I meet people under the strangest circumstances so I am most curious to see how this is going to turn out. An adventure it will be none the less !! I know I will make it to Aix en Provence on the car's current level but after that ...Where? Mind you, there are worse places to be stuck in than Aix! Maybe I could hitch from there to Jeanne's deluxe Provence spa and health retreat!!

Of course there are many thrilling things to do in France other than wagering bets on how far your car can get on a tank full of petrol. The above image offers yet another example!
 Now get your specs out possums, or click on the image to make it bigger because one vintage American magazine has seriously confirmed my theory that something even more thrilling than wearing a haute couture Chanel gown into Ladurée happens in France Every. Single. Day. Strikes notwithstanding! Of course, I do not imagine that chiming out '11pm' at the top of the Eiffel Tower every evening would be quite as thrilling after a month or so (you know, a job's a job after a while ;-) as driving into the sunset with a clear destination in mind but never in fact knowing where you may end up... or who with... But that depends entirely on what constitutes your 'thrill' criteria then doesn't it?

I'll let you know my personal verdict on that when I get back ... if I ever get back!

So just in case ... I mean, you never know... I had better tell you about THIS!

For ephemera lovers and artists everywhere ... LaWendula at her blog Woven Letters hosts a wonderful theme-based paper swap every month in which I have taken part twice. This month I was lucky enough to be paired up with Jennifer Black a very talented mixed media artist from Texas who creates the most amusing and delightful cards from her original artworks. Amongst the HUGE envelope of 'stuff' that she sent me - the above pieces were just three of the pages she had added. There are other ones that just cracked me up just as much that, if I ever make it back to Toulouse, I promise to share with you.

Now, thanks to Jennifer, I know that wherever I am between Toulouse and Allos I will never really be alone. We will all be together.  Listening in awe to that lovely little man thrillingly chiming out 11pm for the whole world to hear from the top of the glittering Eiffel Tower...

Why, I may even chance upon some Markins!!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Paint my Love ... yellow!

"You know, the more I think, the more I feel
that there is nothing more truly artistic 
than to love People."
Van Gogh

I know I wrote this not long ago...
when I made my first attempts at painting Brismod's
favourite quote.

But I think Mr Gogh is seriously onto something there so 
I'm bringing it back.
Along with the 'final product.'

Nothing like positive reinforcement...
to chase away the winter greys.
(I'd say blues, but blues don't bother me ;-)

I mean, someone who used such cheery colours
Must truly have loved people...

Do I normally paint yellow?
Oh my lordy wordy wordy no!
I mean EVER!
I'm a blue and white only girl - 
spattered from time to time with a little orange 
and just maybe a dash of red. 
But never yellow. Funny that.
(Maybe it is due to the time that, in some weird burst of 80s glee, I bought myself a canary yellow indian cotton top and skirt. My gay flat mate's only comment at the time was, 'Honey, if you insist on making me wear my raybans  inside ...' Well... I could take  my sunshine somewhere else so to speak ;-)

So no, No yellow since then!

Yet it still most lifts my spirits.
Thanks for the challenge Brismod ;-)

This is the coffee cup I found inside the 'paint my love' tin...
So another designer obviously shares the convictions of Van Gogh
and Mme Fun & VJs
Hope you don't mind wearing your sunnies inside!

What effect does colour have on you?
Coffee anyone?

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Saturday, February 20, 2010

Inspirational Invictus

 William Ernest Henley, was a real life inspiration,
who reputedly inspired more than one not insignificant other ...

From the age of 12 Henley suffered from tuberculosis of the bone which resulted in the amputation of his left leg below the knee during either 1865 or 1868-69.According to Robert Louis Stevenson's letters, the idea for the character of Long John Silver was inspired by his real-life friend Henley. Stevenson's stepson, Lloyd Osbourne, described Henley as "..a great, glowing, massive-shouldered fellow with a big red beard and a crutch; jovial, astoundingly clever, and with a laugh that rolled like music; he had an unimaginable fire and vitality; he swept one off one's feet". 

And then ... if another man can spend 27 years in a prison cell, on an island, FORGIVE, and go on to lead his country with dignity, whether he in fact read 'Invictus' or not... Well - I think there's something in that for all of us (Chenille) don't you? ;-)

Traduction littérale
Out of the night that covers me,
    Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
    For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
    I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
    My head is bloody, but unbow'd.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
    Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
    Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
    How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
    I am the captain of my soul.

Depuis l'obscurité qui m'envahit,
Noire comme le royaume de l'enfer,
Je remercie les dieux quels qu'ils soient
Pour mon âme indomptable.

Dans l'étreinte féroce des circonstances,
Je n'ai ni bronché ni pleuré
Sous les coups de l'adversité.
Mon esprit est ensanglanté mais inflexible.

Au-delà de ce monde de colère et de larmes,
Ne se profile que l'horreur de la nuit.
Et pourtant face à la grande menace
Je me trouve et je reste sans peur.

Peu importe combien le voyage sera dur,
Et combien la liste des châtiments sera lourde,
Je suis le maître de mon destin,
Je suis le capitaine de mon âme.

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Thursday, February 18, 2010


Bon. C'est fini??? OVER IT NOW!
('bacteria denied access'  zone)

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Victory belongs to the most perservering!

Napoléon Bonaparte!

As the house comes out of a veritable quarantine battlefield for the second time this winter just in time for two weeks school holidays I hold clear this image in my head!! 

Looking around I can see the housework, the 100 page report I have to edit, the 5 lamps I have to finish, the three artworks for the winners of my competition which are awaiting their final brushstrokes, and the hearts I wanted to paint and post for Valentine's day ... 

But victory is nigh! 
Like Napoleon, this little warrior shall not be beaten by the dreaded lurgy.
Yesterday I decided it was time to show my bronchitis just who's boss.  After pelting it with essential oils and a good dose of copper, I forced it onto my mountain bike where we battled it out in an hour long ride through ice and snow. I came back clearer in mind, if not in body...ONYA Napoleon. Nothing like a bit of Corsican Toulousain sunshine to strengthen the troops' morale!

And who would not appreciate a bit of English sunshine?
(especially the English ;-)
Look! I got some from Jeanne at  A Collage of Life.
~Sunshine Award~
'The Sunshine Award' is "awarded to bloggers whose positivity and creativity inspire others in the blogging world." 
My instructions are as follows: 
1. Post the award on the blog.
2. Pass the award on to 12 fellow bloggers.
3. Link to the nominees in a post.
4. Let nominees know they have won this award by commenting on their blogs.
5. Share the love and link to the person from whom you've received this award.

Jeanne, I'm sincerely touched. This is just the day when these supportive awards really do some good for the morale. I have also been the lucky recipient of another from Faerwillow at Serendipity, but I will have to save that for another moment as there is rumbling from up above which means the messmonsters are preparing their comeback  in force... No time to lose! Finish this post before the small stuff are upon me!

Right then, instead of nominating 12 other bloggers (Hehe I love to change the rules of a game and as I'm pretending to be Napoleon today, I invoke my right as divine Emperor to do so!) I'm going to suggest you go straight to the 'followers' on my side bar, and take the time to click on 12 avatars that you don't already know. 


Because those that are 'beside me' for my journey bring me sunshine every day - there's nothing like knowing people out there love you enough to 'enlist' to listen to your ramblings...

Behind every avatar there's a real person. Maybe someone who could bring you some sunshine. Now let your own heart guide you ... 


As I rise, still coughing and hacking, to the battle cry from above, I wish you this: 
May you find the strength to perservere and win your own battles today also!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Tout ce que j'ai pu écrire... l'ai puisé à l'encre de tes yeux
Francis Cabrel

Seeing it's nearly Valentine's day ...
I thought I would share the words to one of my favourite French love songs
by someone who is arguably one of France's most loved singer/songwriters, Francis Cabrel

And seeing it's all about writing, and ink, and love ...
it just had to be accompanied by the very blue black ink 
within whose depths I love to lose myself so often
Which is like a love affair in itself you know... At least it is to me...

So you can either stop here or scroll down and listen to the song ... 
the words are underneath for all you budding French speakers, 
with a vague translation for those of you who aren't!
The video's nothing special: just an old door with "je t'aime" randomly scrawled on it ... 
LOve that !
L'Encre de tes Yeux

Puisqu'on ne vivra jamais tous les deux
Puisqu'on est fou, puisqu'on est seul
Puisqu'ils sont si nombreux
Même la morale parle pour eux
J'aimerais quand même te dire,
Tout ce que j'ai pu écrire
Je l'ai puisé à l'encre de tes yeux

Je n'avais pas vu que tu portais des chaînes
À trop vouloir te regarder j'en oubliais les miennes
On rêvait de Venise et de liberté
J'aimerais quand même te dire,
Tout ce que j'ai pu écrire
C' est ton sourire qui me l'a dicté

Tu viendras longtemps marcher dans mes rêves
Tu viendras toujours du côté où le soleil se lève
Et si malgré ça j'arrive à t'oublier
J'aimerais quand même te dire,
Tout ce que j'ai pu écrire
Aura longtemps le parfum des regrets.

Et puisqu'on ne vivra jamais tous les deux...

Here's the vague translation ...

Because we'll never live together
Because we're crazy, because we're alone
Because there's so many others 
Even convention's on their side
I'd still like to tell you that everything I've ever written
I drew it from the ink of your eyes

I hadn't noticed you were wearing chains
I was so busy watching you I'd forgotten my own
We dreamed of Venice and of Freedom
I'd still like to tell you that everything I've ever written
It's your smile that wrote it for me

You will often walk through my dreams
Always coming from where the sun rises
And even with all that I still manage to forget you
I'd still like to tell you that, everything I've ever written
will long wear the perfume of regret

Now, I'm going back to my love affair with my ink ... 
see you on Sunday for Valentine's day!
And more inky blue Francis Cabrel

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Stand up and speak the truth...

One of the things that most strikes me about Nevin's blog, 
apart from her very exquisite art, 
is this photo on her sidebar...
This has been my guiding principle over the last couple of years or so.
Not that I witnessed a violent act in a dark alley or anything... It's nothing more horrific than  that little inner voice of my own that's gently but firmly fighting its way out of a Burberry style cocoon and a corresponding conventionality that I find far too restrictive, albeit inherently well-meaning. I dream of Tibet while Beaker and social circle dream of Venice. I dream of sledding in Greenland while  Beaker et al envision balmy golf days at club Med... Was I alone on this Earth to wish for such things? Tant Pis! Alone I would be... 
Then Jeanne, another astute woman, sent me this: 

February 8, 2010
The Real You
Virgo Daily HoroscopeYou may feel an intense need to express yourself more authentically today and let others see the parts of your personality you have previously kept hidden. A down-to-earth mood can inspire you to let your guard down in front of close friends and relatives in order to see how they will respond to the new you. You will likely be happily surprised today to discover that the people who care about you most are neither shocked nor put off by your revelation. This can be a good time to meditate on what you enjoy most about your relationships and contemplate why you felt driven to veil your true nature.

When we let others see who we truly are, we come to realize that the people we care for will appreciate us no matter the nature of the idiosyncrasies we exhibit. Many individuals are loath to share their true preferences, opinions, and values because they fear they will be rejected for their honesty. Yet it is only when we are willing to risk this rejection by being ourselves in the presence of the people we care about that we discover which of our peers love us for who we are. Those that would prefer we wear heavy masks of conformity quickly retreat from our lives, uncomfortable with the new freedom we exhibit. And we are liberated from the need to hide ourselves behind conventionality. Your willingness to appear authentically before your loved ones today will help you understand how deeply others care for you.

Jamie Ridler asks us on Wishcasting Wednesday 'Where do you wish to travel?' 
Apart from Tibet, Greenland and the South Pole I would have to say me!

Guess I'm on the right track...
And you?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

"Dingue dingue dingue de toi"

Pokemon said to me this evening as I was putting him to bed with a kiss, "Maman, je suis dingue dingue dingue de toi."
I sighed in pleasure and told him I was 'dingue de toi' too.
Then came the little voice again from underneath the covers, "Maman?"
"Yes Darling"
"What does 'Dingue de toi' mean?"

"It means crazy about you darling, Goodnight"
Giggles all round...
Sigh - what an inspiration...
Think I'll have to listen to that song again...

Ne croyez pas que... l'esprit s'apaise, il ne sera plus bon a rien et que vous ne pourrez plus rien faire.
Plus l'esprit est calme et concentré, plus il est capable d'agir.
Swami Muktananda
Avec un gros rhume, sport et agitation sont loin de mes capacités pour aujourd'hui. Le calme forcé me permet de travailler...
Par cette journée de février bien grise, j'écoute ma respiration et je retrouve le soleil à l'intérieur de moi.
Remarque, ça aide de travailler sur une citation de Vincent Van Gogh pour Anita.
Un artiste que je connais et aime beaucoup, je m'inspire des couleurs vives dont il est si connu pour écrire ses paroles...

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Monday, February 8, 2010

Real Lovely things

In our electronic age of blogs and the internet, I find something reassuring about handwriting. To my mind it is what makes a person real. Unique. So when I received this parcel of lovely things all the way from my gorgeous friend in the US, I sat there for 5 minutes just enjoying reading her hand writing:

Studying the flow of it. 
The waves, the feel, the colour.
Purely for the pleasure of reading it!
I'm not a graphologist though. 
I'm a calligrapher.
which means I love words and especially
what they look like once they've floated out of a writing instrument 
that has been held in a hand, that belongs to a person...
So once I was significantly convinced that she was real and not a figment of my Mac's imagination, I set about opening the box... 
I knew some things were coming for Mlle Mimi Charmante has a shop full of beauties from which I was enticed to buy for her Haiti fundraiser. How could you not?

But, Oooh lucky me, there were some extra goodies,
the likes of which I was not expecting at all!
Things as lovely as the hand writing...
Including notebooks... (for hand writing of course ;-), 
The date is now marked firmly in my Moleskine ...
Merci ma très chère Mimi Charmante pour tous ces trésors.
J'attends avec impatience ton arrivée chez nous!
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Friday, February 5, 2010

Colour: the green influence

Outside the fields are lush and rich under the pelting rain ...
Inside, Chickpea is under the weather.
So we made up some emerald green spirulina this morning 
to brighten the spirits
and strenghten the immune system.
Takes me back to my very first Spirulina at Atomic Café ...
Nothing like some colour therapy for mother and daughter
(she drank directly out of the jug)!

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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The girl who wore ORANGE - Nearly

If you don't like something, change it. 
If you can't change it, change your attitude
I was going to write a post about the 'The girl who wore orange (Christian Lacroix pants to chase away the winter blues).' But I watched 'Slumdog Millionaire' first. Full of orange and yellow and every bright colour in the rainbow. It's about ATTITUDE. And Luck. And Love. A winner. 1 in much more than a million. Too much for me for tonight.

My flippant Paris Episode on that girl who wore orange will have to wait for tomorrow. Can't do flippant straight after sad (insert more appropriate word here, I'm speechless), whether shrouded in a happy ending or not...

I share the same opinion as Maya Angelou. Normally, I'd concentrate on making my own world full of sunshine. At worst that makes us one less household to worry about on a global scale and at best maybe even an inspiration for others who in turn can inspire even more others, sort of like the butterfly effect... But tonight, that sunshiney world just feels like a very very inconsequential drop in that huuuuge ocean that we're all part of.

Full of gratitude that my messmonsters are tucked up safe and warm with cuddles and laughter, and they only want to kill each other once a day. Hopefully they will have 'enough' around and within them to have grown out of that by adulthood ;-)
Better go nurse the attitude so it comes back tomorrow
in full flippant force!
A domani

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

G.E.T Attitude et get 'taguée'

"G.E.T. Attitude!" Je vous dis.
Voilà les trophées pour les heureux gagnants
du Garonne Escalade Trophée
qui aura lieu à Pibrac ce weekend.

Allez les jeunes...
J'y serai avec mon petit stand pour vous encourager
Bon - le but c'est aussi de leur offrir un trophée 
qui les inspire à se dépasser encore plus. 
J'espère qu'ils les aimeront...
Et c'est un grand jour!
Carotte, ma bloggeuse bricoleuse préférée m'a transmis un défi. Eukkkk - je dois raconter 7 choses sur moi - ce qui est plus facile en anglais (voir ici et ici), qu'en Français... 1.2.3 On y va et MERCI Carotte pour le coup de pouce ;-)

1 Après m'avoir expliqué les mérites de la pensée positive pendant toute mon adolescence, mes parents m'ont dit que je ne devrais pas devenir comédienne ni artiste car je passerais mes années à travailler dans un restaurant sans peut-être jamais devenir célèbre ou gagner mon "pain."
2. J'ai quand même payé mes études de commerce internationale en travaillant dans les restaurants... comme quoi ;-)
3. A 38 ans je me suis installée officiellement comme 'artiste' et bien que pas encore célèbre je suis super contente de l'avoir fait. Bravo 'la pensée positive!'
4. J'aimerais être vraiment végétarienne mais j'aime trop des sushis et le canard cuit...
5. Je voudrais apprendre le chinois, le tibétain et l'italien avant d'avoir 100 ans.
6. Je ris quand mon fils rote à table malgré tous mes efforts de rester sérieuse et le gronder. C'est cela d'avoir un petit dernier trop rigolo.
7. Mes enfants m'émerveillent tous les jours - avec eux j'ai l'impression que la vie est une éternelle leçon qui m'offre quelque chose à apprendre tous les jours.

Alors - à qui je passe le flambeau? 
Mimi Charmante car elle veut apprendre le Français
Lise artiste d'un grand talent à Bohemian Caravan
Hmmm - à qui d'autre? Faut que je refléchisse... 

Hey I managed to finish a project for Creative Every Day!!

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Monday, February 1, 2010

Elements of Real

"Time is an invention
Now is a reality..."
Bhagan Shree Rajneesh

I have personal proof of this. Very recent and believable proof too. Somewhere between today and last Thursday (date of my last posting), Time would have me believe that 4 whole days existed. 
That cannot possibly be true. 

In fact, I find this assumption completely preposterous and REFUSE to believe it! I think time was playing tricks on me, trickling through my fingers and flying by... Décidément, Mr Bhagan Shree Rajnees is right! There was no TIME at all you see. There were only successive NOW moments of Libellule's  swimming competition, oysters to be eaten with friends, the school lotto fundraiser, more friends with truffles and porcini mushrooms, runs in the forest, Bright Star ... (will put the video back in later...Gremlins got it!) Brocantes to be visited and girl guide meets. Somewhere in there I managed to squeeze in getting those 2010 cards out, housework, cooking, baking and cuddles with the messmmonsters.
But that was then and THIS is now...

In NO TIME at all over the next three days these gorgeous wine crates will transform themselves (with a little guidance from MOI) into 24 trophies to be given to the winners of the GARONNE ESCALADE TROPHEE; the fab local rock climbing competition for juniors.

(Go on - you're dying to know if I get to drink all the bottles aren't you now? ;-)
Then there are 3 more wooden pieces that have already been prepared and are awaiting final touches for the winners of my contest. They must be finished before Feb School holidays when the 'call of the ski slopes' will be too great for the family to resist.
And in case I still have a little time on my hands and ideas of doing housework manage to seep in through the cracks, I have a whole lot of little vintage pieces like these under my wing, that are in dire need of some brushwork and a little script to give them a new purpose and direction in life... soon for my ETSY shop
Tonight ... when all is quiet and the world has gone to sleep, or my world anyway, I shall sneak away from my brushes and escape into the world of YOUR blogs where time no longer exists.
Hope you're having a wonderful time... just don't do as I do and let it get the better of you!
That's all for NOW!
Love Ange

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