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I love to be entertained. I’d say it’s one of my favorite hobbies. I love a good book, a well-written television show, and everything about going to the movies. Harry Potter, Hunger Games and Mad Men are my most recent loves. I couldn’t wait for the next book, that next episode, the next film. But each has come to an end and this last year I found myself a little depressed.

I’ve tried all sorts of replacements: DivergentHunger Games reworked; The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo– shock value;  and the worst yet- ABC’s Once Upon a Time– the Lost writers trying to fit the Lost blueprint into the popular fantasy genre, not to mention the horrendous special effects. I had almost given up.

Then a ray of light, hope in the midst of my despair! Downton Abbey.

I happened upon this little historical fiction on PBS’s Masterpiece Theatre right before New Year’s Day. Because I was highly disappointed by the BBC’s The Hour last year, I didn’t expect much from Downton. I thought I’d try a few episodes while my husband watched the 10,000 bowl games that I care nothing about.

Well, right off the bat- The Titanic sinks and the Earl of Grantham is left with no heir to his title, his money, and Downton Abby, a fictional estate in Britain’s North Yorkshire. The story follows the Earl, his three daughters, his American millionairess wife, and his meddling mother played by Maggie Smith. As the aristocrats grapple with the antiquated world around them- dealing with issues of inheritance, different classes in a changing society, and love and marriage, a parallel but very separate society in the servants’ quarters tackles the same issues.

The things I loved about Season 1:

The writing is superb– Each storyline is well developed and relevant. Each character is intriguing and vital to the plot. Mary is selfish yet endearing. I feel sorry for Edith and hate her all at the same time. I am appalled by O’Brian and equally repelled by Thomas. I cheer as the love develops between Mr. Bates and Anna, and hope that Matthew can figure it all out before the War begins. There are many characters, many story lines, and no lack of action. This show never slows down.

The art direction is fantastic– Highclere Castle in Hampshire is used  as a setting and could not be a more perfect and beautiful backdrop as the drama unfolds. The costumes are equally as stunning, bringing to mind the 1998 film, The Titanic, (sans early/cheesy computer generated special effects) and giving Mad Men a little competition in the television period-drama category.

The Season Finale puts both the writing and the art direction together beautifully. The excessive and dated aristocratic society come face to face with its absurdity as World War I is announced- announced during the most beautiful and lavish garden party- complete with linen-clad guests, white roses and a mint julep.  It’s a story for the eyes as well as the heart.

The things I hope for Season 2:

Better character development- Season 1 left me disliking Thomas so much that I couldn’t believe in him. He was too evil, too mean, and too selfish. The writers even managed to weave in a thread of humanity for O’Brian but left Thomas as terrible as ever. What bothered me the most about Thomas’s characterization was that he is the only homosexual character. I was troubled that the only gay character was the only completely horrible character- and I long to see him made real. To my relief, the beginning of Season 2 provided Thomas some depth, and the beginning of a back story which might prove to help.

The unrequited love story lines- I’m so over the unrequited love story lines and so tired of all the whining. I just get so Twilighted out and wish people would just say how they really feel! The relationship between Mr. Bates and Anna begins to take a very intelligent and intriguing turn in the Season 2 premiere that I applaud. On the other hand, the Matthew and Mary love story that is based upon the “I love you but I just can’t say so” mentality wears on me. My hope is that the writers are developing Mary’s character- maturing her and allowing her to show some empathy for Matthew’s fiance- instead of just creating the inevitable drawn out love affair that we expected for Season 2.

All in all, I can’t wait for Sunday nights. Thank you PBS for a wonderful surprise. How did I miss this one for so long?

I dare say that all of The Tiger Lilies readers will enjoy Downton Abbey too- you will not be sorry- at least until the episodes end.

Also, if you dig what I dig, check out this blog, YABookBridges.com. There is a post about Vixen, a book series set in 1920’s Chicago. I know I’m going to check it out.

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Dental Chair Confessions

This post won’t have any photos, it won’t be warm and fuzzy, and it sure won’t be PC, but it will be honest. And maybe a little graphic.

So my dental history is something that I’ve kept quiet because of the Shame. My teeth are like rotting bones in the grave of my mouth that opens up once or twice a year to scare dental professionals. I guess it’s appropriate that my most recent visit to the lucky Edmond dentist was in October.

A brief history:

-One of my front incisors (a baby tooth) was brown, so my parents had it removed.  During that visit to Dr. Joel, he put some citrus flavored toothpicks in my mouth and I barfed all over the dental chair.

-I’ve never gone to the dentist without them declaring loudly and proudly that I have a cavity. They caught another one. Yay!

-I hallucinated when I had my wisdom teeth pulled and cried for my mother.

-I went on a flossing kick my freshman year in college and when I returned to the dentist over Christmas break, I had EIGHT cavities.

-I then stopped getting my teeth cleaned until I got married in 2006. The hub’s incessant flossing and Sonic-caring almost drove me to drink. Finally, I broke down and went to the best dentist of all time- Dr. Richardson. He made me feel like a real person, not a leper.

-Unfortunately for my teeth, we moved to Oklahoma in 2010 and I had to find another dentist. Cue the crazy looks, gasps, and the donning of the surgical masks when I open my mouth. It’s not contagious people!

So here I am at 31, in a dead-sweat at the dentist and hoping that it will be over soon. After the first dentist mysteriously no longer took my insurance anymore, the second dentist agreed to fill two cavities for me after seeing my x-rays. I went in on Tuesday and the nightmare began.

First, I asked for the gas, because I thought this might help my anxiety. But alas, it’s just like watching the surgery totally drunk. About half way through, I went back to plain oxygen. The dentist kept saying, “Oh, more decay.” “Wow, more decay.” “Just a little more decay.” Then, (God knows why she did this) but she showed me her work with the smoking drill; she let me take a look with a hand mirror. After I almost had a cardiac arrest and I kept myself from throwing up, she explained that my shell-of-a-tooth, soon to be filled, would probably need a crown in a year or two. Then, eventually a root-canal.

A few things about this bothered me- 1. Why just leave a shell of a tooth? If it’s that bad, why not pull it? 2. And why, if I will need a crown in a year or two, why not just go ahead and crown it now? 3. The irony was just too thick to ignore. Such a Royal Name: a Crown. Why not call it what it really is: a permanent patch over that cesspool of bacteria in my mouth.

After an hour an a half of drilling and filling and bite-blocking and gassing and nausea and panic, It was all over. But, hooray! “The decay was so bad, I’m afraid you will need to have two other molars refilled next week.” Oh, and to add insult to injury: “No sodas, not even diet.”

Right, asking me to give up Diet Dr. Pepper is like asking an Oreo to give up the creme filling. It’s like telling Romeo: “No Juliet.” It was just more than I could take.

I left there defeated and feeling disgusting. Never mind that I brush twice a day, floss at least weekly, and get my teeth cleaned (almost) every six months. I’m destined for dentures at 45.

I head back to the dentist on Tuesday for two more fillings; I’m sure they won’t be my last. I guess I’d rather my teeth be terrible than my eyes, my back, or my brain. But it sure would make me feel better if someone else out there felt as awful as I do when leaving the dentist. A shared confession might provide a little relief- the kind of relief I felt when Christina Aguilera finally put on a few pounds too.

Oh gosh, anxiety attack- what if I pass this on to my child? Tiger Lilies to those of you who have “never had a cavity.” (Said in a snotty, I’m so great, high-pitched voice.) Don’t feel so proud, you jerks- I’m convinced it’s all genetic.

It Begins. Couch to 5K.

For various reasons, I haven’t worked out in over 18 months. I’ve tried to get back on the treadmill a few times, but with no success. Now that my little guy is big enough to survive the flesh-eating bacteria that is probably crawling all over the gym nursery’s floor, I’m going to try the Couch to 5K training program. This is a training schedule that is designed for those of us that have literally been “on the couch” and now want to run a 5K. (30 little minutes, a 3 mile run)

So here is my motivation:

#1 My cousin, who has two children, is currently running her brains out and I’m competitive.

#2 I get winded picking my child up from the crib.

#3 Vanity strikes again; I’m all flab.

So here’s how it all went down; Couch to 5K, Day 1:

Last night at a baby shower I was finishing my second cookie and a Pioneer Woman stuffed mushroom when my two new friends, Courtney and Rebecca, invited me to come “jog” with them at Gold’s Gym. “Gold’s Gym?”, I asked as I licked my fingers, savoring the last bite of cream cheese. Oh right, I’m a member of Gold’s Gym- although the last time I darkened that door, it was Aspen Gym. (I believe the changeover happened months ago.) “I’d love to actually get a little bit out of my 15 year, $100,000 membership!” I joked.

But now I was in- so the baby and I headed out this morning to Gold’s. (That’s what the “regulars” call it.)

Upon arrival, I dropped my baby off in the sea of infection (the nursery) with reluctance but determination. A few of the 40 kids in there were screaming, but the two teenage girls behind the desk seemed un-phased so wished the baby luck and didn’t look back.

I climbed up on the treadmill and informed my two new friends that it wasn’t personal, but I wouldn’t be talking with them anymore. I would have to concentrate to breathe and that talking would complicate that endeavor. The Couch to 5K training guide explains that on week one, you should alternate 60 seconds of running with 90 seconds of walking for 20 minutes. So I skipped week one, naturally.

Week two alternates 90 seconds of running with 2 minutes of walking. I could do this. After all, I’ve run one marathon and two half marathons in my life, this would be easy. Right. Cue the following: head spinning, side cramps, blurred vision and gasping for air.

Half way through, I decided that if my son had a problem and the sea of infection called, I would need access to my cell phone which was on the floor. As I left the treadmill to retrieve the cell phone, Courtney thought I had fallen off. (Evidence of how taxed I probably looked at this point.) I assured her that I was fine and continued my 90 seconds/ 2 glorious minutes alternation.

I began playing little mind games with myself to keep motivated. (This is something I’ve always done as a runner, keeping myself going when the going-gets-tough.)

First, I found the prettiest 20 something in the place, who was wearing an OSU hat, and pretended that we were in a contest to see who could work out the hardest. This motivation lasted only so long.

Next, I turned on some tunes to get me pumped up. Unfortunately, I had to borrow my husband’s iPod shuffle because mine was not charged. I endured a few Journey songs sprinkled with maybe a Led Zeppelin number until a Black Eyed Peas song finally came on. Even Boom Boom Pow began to drag and I had to find something else.

By this time, I saw the creepy, and mustached 50-something giving me the eye from the elliptical machine across the way. (Or maybe he was just concerned about me, but either way, he took a quick look.) This one helped because now I was running from him. 

All in all, it finally ended when Courtney’s daughter brilliantly needed something from the nursery. Courtney’s name was called over the loud speaker, and I was off the treadmill.

Thankfully, I finished the Couch to 5K “Day 1” and made it to my car without passing out. Tiger Lilies to all of you that have worked out post-baby. It’s damn hard. Here’s to hoping “Day 2” is a little easier.

 

Sunset at Deason Manor

So here is the follow up to my previous post, The House that Matt Built, Part I. We have finally finished some of the other rooms in the house and so… here is the “unveil.” I’m not going to write as much detail on this post, but if you wanted any information on where we found some of these items, tile, carpet, light fixtures, etc. please comment on the blog and I’ll get back to you.
Also, thanks for all of your comments on Part I. I have adjusted the living room bookshelves, per your input, and have included the updated results at the very end of this post. Thanks to everyone for your feedback!

Back Porch Furniture, maybe it will cool off and we can actually sit out there!

Plants before the Sun took their lives

Ta-Da! We actually have a dining room table!

Master Bed with my purple pillows!

I give all the credit to Stacy Nance, Stacy Nance Interiors.

My favorite light fixture, in the Master.

My "office." We call it the "Nook." (Off the Master)

Check out the Rough Neck Paddle, thanks to my thieving Grandad. (circa- 1939.)

Master Bath

My side.

Master Shower

Master Shower

Guest Room Bathroom

Guest Room Shower

Guest Bath

Baby's Room

My favorite room.

Shower Curtain- West Elm

Kid's Bath

Lil Momenti Rug in Kid's Bath

New and Improved

Whew. Thanks for letting me show off all of Stacy’s hard work. (Although I do take credit for the nursery.) Maybe in 2020 we will have some pictures of the actual guest room and Matt’s study. I, unfortunately, did not make room in the budget for those two spaces, but it gives me projects for the future!

The Rule of Three

Omne Trium Perfectum. Everything that comes in threes is perfect. In fact, three seems to be the magic number. Think about it: The third time’s the charm. The Three Little Pigs, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, The Three Musketeers. The Tricolon Crescendo. The Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.

Lately, as I’ve been counting my blessings, I’ve come to find that there are three types of friends that everyone needs to have: 1) An Old Friend  2) A Mentor Friend and 3) An Everyday Friend.

So here’s a Tiger Lily Tribute to this Trio.

1) My Old Friend: Carrie

When I wanted to quit at White Rock

Although I have many “old friends,” Carrie fits the “Old Friend” blueprint perfectly. To begin, she and I have very similar foundations–an absolute must-have in old friend-credentials. In fact, Carrie and I  grew up next door to each other. Our fathers have similar personalities and we both swear our mothers could achieve Sainthood when they finally depart. We both have a brother and a sister, and we both had black toy poodles growing up.

But having similar foundations is only one characteristic of a good old-friend blueprint. The next characteristic is acceptance. While old friends may start with the same foundations, their exteriors may begin to look very different over time. What becomes important in old friend-construction is the acceptance of these differences, and in time, these differences create a beautiful symmetry. Carrie’s an artist and I have a degree in technical writing. She loves to cook and I love to have it catered. She’s a great listener and I’m really good at talking about myself. But as old friends, we are great together.

We find the same ridiculous things hilarious and don’t mind making fools of ourselves at any time– just ask our husbands. We both dream a little bigger than we should and both get disappointed when those dreams don’t become reality. We can be ourselves, our true selves, around each other, and still like one another at the end of the day.

So here’s to Carrie! Someone who is just like me, not at all like me, and likes the real me all the time.

2) My Mentor Friend: Traci

Traci is second from the right. (Next to me.)

Although people always talk about needing to “find a mentor,” I think the real mentor-mentee relationships just become. It’s not something you can officially force, it’s something that just manifests one day. This happened to me in 2003 when I interviewed for a job with Pfizer. The clouds parted, the doves sang and I was paired with Traci for the field-ride portion of my interview.

She was so poised, so talented and just one tiny step ahead of me in life. It was the perfect timing and a perfect fit.

I started out learning about business from Traci, but quickly began learning a lot about life from her. That poise I saw in her the first day we met was not just a Pfizer thing. She’s taught me about make-up, skin care, hair dos and nail polish. I’ve learned about literature, cardiovascular health and even how to raise a son. Traci will always be teaching me something and I will always be learning and making her laugh at my inexperience. It’s a great friendship to have when you need some advice from someone whose been there.

Traci, thanks for being my Mentor Friend. Here’s to spilling my hot tamales during the sex scenes and you shaking your head while hiding your snicker.

3) My Everyday Friend: Stacy

At Mount Magazine

Stacy and I became friends thanks to Theta- our college sorority. It sounds so cliché, but we truly are just like sisters. We like all of the same things, we do everything together and see or talk to each other almost every day. It’s that everyday friendship where we can ride in the car together without talking and neither of us is uncomfortable in the least.

Stacy makes the perfect Everyday Friend because for one, we live so close to each other. Her house is about a two-minute drive from mine and we both burn up the road in-between the two. Secondly, Stacy is loyal to the core, despite my flaws, which she knows probably better than anyone. Loyalty is essential in an everyday friendship because you will inevitably know the good, the bad, and the ugly. And lastly, Stacy and I have the best talks- and all the time. We talk about everything and I never doubt she is authentic. I honestly don’t know what I would do without her.

Here’s to my everyday friend. You are someone I’m so glad to be around all of the time. I’ll probably text you about this later.

While I’m lucky to be able to say that these three ladies aren’t my only friends, I’m also lucky to say that my life couldn’t be more perfect because of them. I highly recommend abiding by The Rule of Three when it comes to friendship.

Don't worry, we're about to Manage some Mischief.

I had the time of my life at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. After Matt denied my request to celebrate our fifth anniversary at Hogwarts, a.k.a. Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida, I easily convinced my sister that we needed  a “girl’s trip,” and fast.  After only a day of planning, Reagan and I had secured a hotel room, plane-park-and express pass tickets, and child care for our children. We were off like a Nimbus 2000.

I was already suffering from a mysterious pre-trip dizziness, (which the genius doctor at the after-hours clinic diagnosed as a possible brain tumor) but it didn’t matter, I was going to Florida. I packed only the essentials: a messenger bag, a visor and granny panties. And if these items weren’t enough to classify this as a “girl’s trip,”  for our pre-Park fare, we bought wine and cookies at the local grocery store. We had a great night-before carb load and were ready for an early morning.

Reagan and I woke up at the crack of dawn to get to the park early. Upon arrival, my dizziness lost its battle to an intense adrenalin surge as we raced to the back of the Islands of Adventure Park. Entering The Wizarding World of Harry Potter was surreal. I’m not making this up: the Castle, the Hogwarts Express, Hogsmeade etc. is breathtaking. We later learned that Universal Studios spent an estimated $200 million on this creation, and I am here to say, every penny was well spent.

Hogwart's Express

Platform 9 3/4

Entering Hogwarts

After entering the gates of Hogwarts, you are instructed to stow all of your belongings in a locker in order to ride, “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.”  Stowing all of your belongings is mandatory. This should have been our first clue. Then, as we walked through the Herbology Greenhouse Three, the following sign was posted:

See the stick guy vomiting over the side of the boat?

I’m pretty sure whatever  potion they slipped us had a little bit of Tiger Lily in it. We were about to be motion sick out of our minds.

But before the nausea ensued, we walked through the Hogwart’s corridors, past Dumbledore’s office, and through the Griffyndor Common Room. Right before you get on the ride, Harry, Ron and Hermoine appear from underneath the invisibility cloak in the Great Hall. They explain that we will be flying through the grounds of Hogwarts, and that we should beware of a dragon that Hagrid has let loose. At this point in the line, the 13 year-old in front of us began to panic, and Ron made the Great Hall actually snow, by accident, of course.

Talking Portraits

Dumbledore's Office

Griffyndor Common Room

At this point in the line (probably about 75 minutes into our wait) I was feeling impervius to motion sickness. And even as the Sorting Hat warned us of the dangers of the ride, Reagan and I boarded our enchanted bench.

The Sorting Hat

After four minutes of the coolest ride I never experienced, (about two seconds into the simulation, Reagan and I both closed our eyes– tight) I silently willed myself onto the moving walkway that led to the end of the ride. Reagan and I walked side-by-side without a word, through Filch’s Emporium Gift Shop and straight to Moaning Myrtle’s bathroom. We were both concentrating really hard on not puking our guts out. (If only we had a Purple Puking Pastille.)

It only took about a half an hour before we were ready for the Dragon Challenge Roller Coaster. To get on this ride, you walk along a path laced with banners for the Tri-Wizard Tournament. After passing through the Champion’s Tent, which showcases the Triwizard Cup, you then choose whether to ride the Hungarian Horntail or the Chinese Fireball Dragons. We chose the Hungarian Horntail and quickly found ourselves in the midst of a levicorpus spell.

Banners leading to the Coaster

Champion's Tent

It was after The Dragon Challenge that we had to the leave The Wizarding World all together. After a good hour of complete still-ness, and a few bottles of water, we went back for more. The last, and only ride in The Wizarding World that we really enjoyed was Flight of the Hippogriff. It’s a kiddie roller coaster that won’t put your equilibrium in check- if you even have any after the previously mentioned rides. And as a bonus, while waiting in line for this kiddie coaster, you pass right by Hagrid’s house.

Hagrid's House

Look closely to the right and you can see the Hippogriff flying right by.

By day two, we were back to just “hang out” in Hogsmeade. This was probably my favorite part of our trip. We had a Butterbeer, sat on the patio at the Three Broomsticks, bought some candy at Honeydukes, had a laugh at Zonkos, and watched some lucky kid get chosen by his wand in Olivander’s Wand Shop.

It may look cold, but it's June in Florida.

Fantastic.

Inside Honeydukes: Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans; we also bought a few chocolate frogs.

Inside Zonko's. They had Extendable Ears but no Love Potions.

Darn kid. It should have been me.

And although we were pretty upset that Olivander picked some little kid over the two of us, we bought our own wands before leaving. I chose a replica of Hermoine’s wand and Reagan chose a generic wand– or, excuse me, it chose her.

Hermoine's wand. It has a vine on it that signifies loyalty.

Reagan's wand.

Overall, I would say we had the time of our lives. It is so fun to see the books come to life, and I had the best company and Harry- Potter-expert in my sister as a tour guide. I would venture to say that this is one of the places I would think about if Expecto-ing my own Patronus.

The House that Matt Built is finally done. Put a fork in it. Complete. Fanito!

Now we enter the “decorating” phase of this project, a phase that Matt has been waiting for since we started this little project in August 2010. Insert wry smile and wink here. I have about a zillion photos to share and then I’d love some feedback. (Please post your comments to my blog. Pretty please.)

First, it has to be said that Stacy Nance, with Stacy Nance Interiors, helped me with quite a bit of the house. Stacy has a great eye and a very clean style. Her own kitchen was recently featured on COCOCOZY for those of you that love this design blog.

We will start with part of the kitchen. I love just about everything about this space. The paint color is: Sharky Grey from the Martha Stewart collection at Home Depot. We went with non-textured walls throughout the house and a white ceiling to make the rooms look bigger. Non-textured walls seem to be something of an oddity in Oklahoma; most people prefer textured.

Kitchen: Appliances- GE and Capital; Granite- Marble Designs

Kohler sink in white, Delta faucet

Below is a picture of one of the granites we chose for the kitchen. I really really really wanted white marble for the majority of the countertops, but after 3,000 people advised me against this for the kitchen, Matt and I began hunting for a granite that looked like marble. We found Brazilian Arabescato that looks similar to marble, but because it’s granite, should be less likely to stain and chip. We love it.

Granite: Brazilian Arabescato, Marble Designs

Range: Capital, Hood: Designed by Stacy Nance, Stacy Nance Interiors

As you can see in the photos, we do not have anything on the countertops. Through the last two moves, I have become much more minamalistic than before and I am trying not to clutter any of my spaces. But what should I put on the countertops? Or should I put anything?

Backsplash Tile: Southwest Tile and MarbleHardware: HardwareResources.com

Next, here are the breakfast area curtains. Stacy picked out this fabric and we had these roman shades made at Vu’s Fabric in Edmond, Oklahoma. Vu is a genius, and I would recommend working directly with Vu. If she’s not in the shop the day you go in to have something made, go back another day.

IKAT fabric: Fabrics Unlimited OKC, Made by: Vu's Fabrics

Breakfast area light: Shades of Light

Ceramic Tile: Classic Tile and Marble OKC

Now for the living room. Because Matt and I are not Vanderbilt descendants, we decided to use almost all of the furniture from our old house in the new one. You will see the Norwalk sofa from our last house and some aluminum tables from I.O. Metro. Additionally, there is a piece of art above the mantel, some pillows and a few accessories that we transported from Little Rock.

View from the fireplace

View from the kitchen

Sofa: Norwalk, Ottoman: Red Chateau- OKC

Light fixture: Shades of Light

Sofa: Room and Board, Lamps: TJ Maxx

Sofa table: Mathis Brothers, OKC

Pink/Orange Pillow: Mathis Brothers, Geometric Pillow: Fabric- Fabric Factory OKC and Vu's Fabric, Work: Vu's Fabric

Wingback chairs: Z Gallerie

Mirrored Bamboo Table: Wisteria, Rug: Rug and Carpet of OKC

Concrete surround: ProCast in Marlow, OK

The concrete surround for the fireplace was a big decision for us. When traveling last summer, we went to a gorgeous hotel in Half Moon Bay, California. We got the idea for our fireplace and a window seat you will see later from this hotel. See the pictures below:

The only problem with our concrete surround is that we were hoping for a different color. We’ve contacted a faux finisher to paint the surround a different color but can’t pull the trigger. What do you think? (See the two color options below.)

Current color: buff, New colors: light grey and charcoal

So for the last photo of “The House that Matt Built, Part I,” we have one more question. I really like these built in book shelves, but right now I dislike what I’ve got in there. I’d like to have photos of our wedding and the new baby!, but it looks strange to me. Any suggestions? 

Silver Frames: Pottery Barn

Stay tuned for Part II. Thanks for indulging me!

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