Friday, July 31, 2009

Magic Atmosphere





If you've been waiting for a sign. Here it is.



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Been busy with life (drive-in movie, new bike, murder mystery party, etc.) but will return soon when the weather isn't so fantastic.

I want to write about whether you write in the summer or not...I don't. In fact if you asked me how to begin a poem, I'd say, "I don't know. Good question." More on that later, but for now, enjoy your regularly scheduled summer already in progress.

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

a shooting star



I saw one of these last night. I was thinking about my stepdad and thought it was a sign.

I believe in signs. I haven't seen a shooting stars in years. Many many years. And then last night, one appeared.

I was feeling guilty because I just bought a new mountain bike and I spent more than I wanted to. My budget was $280 tops and the bike was $480. I was having buyer's remorse.

I was using some of the money I inherited from when my stepdad died. My mum said, "He would have wanted you to spend it something you really wanted, he would have been glad." Still, for some reason it's hard for me to spend money on myself like that.--when it's a want and not a need.

I was looking out the window and saying thanks in my head to my stepdad and remembering/missing him when the shooting star went by.

I know many will say "shooting stars happen" and "you're just connecting your thought with a natural event," and I am. But I know that star was his way of saying he's watching out for me, and saying "You're welcome."

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Heatwave

From the KomoTV website:


Record Check for the Seattle are:

A quick list of other records that might fall this week:

•Consecutive days at or over 90: 5 (Aug. 7-11, 1981). Current forecast: 4, Potential: 6
•Consecutive days at or over 85: 9 (Aug. 5-13, 1977). Current forecast: 9. Potential: 11
•Consecutive days at or over 80: 15 (July 30-Aug 13, 1977) -- Current forecast: 11, which stretches through the end of the extended forecast. Potential: ??? (Incidentally in the '77 streak, the 14th was 79, there were three more 80s afterward.
•Number of 90 degree days in a month: 7 (July 1958)
. Current forecast: 6. Potential: 7
•Number of 90 degree days in a year: 9 (1958)
. Through Tuesday: 5 with two more a slam dunk, and potential for a few more by next Monday. And there's still August and early Sept. yet.
•Hottest July on record (high temperature): 81.4 degrees in 1958. (If current 7 day forecast verifies exactly, our avg. this month will be 81.25)
•Seattle daily records: Wednesday: 95, Thursday: 94. Friday: 93


Currently, at 10 am it's 93 in Seattle.

I know many aren't enjoying this weather, but as someone whose body temp runs a bit low, I've been loving it. Of course, my home & yard stays pretty cool,so it hasn't been too bad here, for which I'm thankful.

Just trying to stay hydrated.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Fantastic Essay by Michael Schmeltzer at Relief

Michael graduated from my MFA program with me and since graduating, we've both been working on balance of work, writing, living, family, etc.

As alums from Pacific Lutheran University's Rainier Writing Workshop (RWW), we've been writing essays for our own MFA newsletter Soundings, to help the upcoming graduates with life after grad school.



Here's a snippet from Michael's essay--

4. So How Do You Juggle Life?

Despite the failures, despite the failures, despite the failures…

I didn’t juggle life after graduation. I let the balls drop, too overwhelmed to lift my arms. I left my job, ignored my friends, neglected my role as husband. The only thing I did was write.

I don’t recommend this. Some things remain irretrievable to this day.

John Berryman once said, “The artist is extremely lucky who is presented with the worst possible ordeal which will not actually kill him. At that point, he’s in business.” I never felt lucky, but in retrospect I think he has a point. It would be wise to mention not all business is good business, though.

Writing itself requires sacrifice. All of us cut open our veins to the page, kill our darlings, etc. We spend time and money honing our skills, developing our craft.

But the writing life…that requires a different set of sacrifices...

____________________

It's a wonderfully honest and thoughtful essay.


You can read the whole essay here: The MFA Owner’s Manual: Juggling Life After RWW by Michael Schmeltzer



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Confession Tuesday


***Photo from a small church in Alaska

Dear Reader, it's that time, confession time and I confess I'm not as bothered by the heat as others and we're havin' a heatwave, a tropical heatwave, the temperature's rising... Yesterday driving to get yet another pet for the Agodon zoo (this time a guinea pig named Chica), the temp outside read: 101F. I wish I had my camera to take a photo of it.

Because most the windows in my house face North, it doesn't get too warm in my home. No A/C. Yesterday when it hit over 90 we finally took out our fan. But even outside, I like the heat. I tend to run cold (I think it has to do with my very low blood pressure) and tend to wear sweaters when others wear tanktops. Whatever it is, I feel for the warm people of the area who are not happy with the weather.

But I'm already rambling, let's get to the confessional--

I confess I believe doing things in many small but focused spurts.

I will ignore the yard for weeks, then spend 5 days focused on it and forget it again. I think these small blurts of energy used in a focused way can produce big results because they don't overwhelm me. If someone said, "Clean up the entire yard" I'd want to pass out. But if I think "I'll clean out the section with the lavender, or the veggie garden, I'm okay.

I do this poetry and my mss as well. I will see my mss in sections as individual "chapbooks" and well, I know I can create a chapbook. Just as I know I can write a short story, I can write a series of linked short stories, which then becomes a novel.

I think this works for everything, including saving money. $5 can be a latte, or put it away 2x a week and there's an extra $40 a month.

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My golden retriever, Buddy Holly, is currently wearing the "cone of shame" because he has a hot spot on his tail and won't stop chewing it. He is knocking everything over with it including us. Poor guy. Only 2 more days!

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My friend Marty is coming over to write with me today and I'm excited about that. I'm making us fruit salad and we'll sit in the poetry barn and hope to be inspired.

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I want to rename the poetry barn something a little nicer. I also call it "the shed."

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I confess I really connected with a line from the family movie "Because of Winn-Dixie" (which has Dave Matthews in it for all you DMB fans). The line was said by Cicely Tyson's character, "There ain't no way you can hold on to something that wants to go, you understand? You can only love what you got while you got it."

I think much of my fear in life results from fear of loss. So I'm going to remember this.

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I confess I think we're all more broken than we let on. And I think the goal is not to see our chipped areas or our scratches, but how we are useful.

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I confess I work on this a lot. And it's another thing I try to remind myself.

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I confess I need to be living more simply and am working towards this.

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I confess I think you're wonderful.



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Photos from My Alaska Trip

What they were serving for dinner one night on the cruise. I passed on the "sauteed unicorn" as I like my mythological creatures living.



Glacier Bay





Fishing Orca Whale, taken from the ship. It was absolutely amazing to watch.


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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Confession Tuesday

Dear Readers, it's been 2 weeks since my last confession. Since sin has been spoken on this site. Forgive me. I have been away and floating. A cruise to Alaska with my family. We saw more whales from the boat than I've ever seen. Amazing.

But it wasn't all perfect, er, I wasn't always perfect. Let me confess...


I confess on the last day of my cruise an English man told me I was snapping my gum in his ear. Seriously. We weren't that close, so I'm guessing he had superhero hearing.

I confess that after he he said that I said, "Okay." Then proceed to snap my gum even louder. I apologize (and confess) I have the defense-mechanisms of a 16 year old girl and that I don't like to be told what to do. The Buddhist in me should have just recognized the moment for what it was, two tired souls waiting in line, but the troublemaker in me seemed to speak louder.

I confess sometimes my troublemaker speaks louder than my Buddhist.

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I confess that there were moments of absolute perfection on the cruise. Like seeing an orca whale so close to the boat I was able to get a nice photo of its tail with my cheap little camera. I confess I got more photos of the splash than the tail.

I confess in the excitement of wanting my camera, I left my daughter with a stranger.

I confess I didn't realize it was a stranger at the time, but what a saw was a man dressed exactly like my husband (khaki cargo shorts, blue t-shirt-- so it seems everyone was dressed this way once I noticed it).

But what I saw was my daughter standing next to this outfit aka "my husband" so I said, "Oh good, you're with dad, I'll go get my camera" and ran back to my room. When I returned, I bumped into said husband, and was surprised to find he was actually a very nice stranger-photographer man who was photographing the whales.

My daughter later told me that the photographer was explaining all about how orcas fish and what the whale was doing.

I confess when it comes to my daughter, I tend to see people I do not know as hazards/threats/pedophiles and I really need to change this belief, especially as she gets older.

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I confess when it doesn't come to my daughter I see people as kind and generous... except for the cranky English man who I saw as self-centered. Like myself.

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I confess when I heard that a husband murdered his wife on a cruise ship, I could actually understand wanting to strangle someone you are forced to share a small room with for 7 days.

I confess most of my days had strangle-free thoughts.

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I confess little of my cruise had to do with poetry, but I know some of the images will wind up in my poems.

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I confess I visited two old Russian Orthodox churches and lit a candle in one.

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I confess in St. Michael's by the Sea my mum made me dip my new cross she bought me into the holy water. I confess I dripped some on the floor.

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I confess that my husband and daughter want nothing to do with old churches on our vacations.

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I confess in the old church in Sitka, I told my mum to "go behind the velvet ropes and sit on the 200 year old Bishop's Throne and I'll take your picture." I confess she got a little nervous with my suggestion. And I confess, we didn't do it.

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I confess I have a bad habit of making inappropriate suggestions when we are in churches or traveling in general. I confess I never really want people to do what I suggest, but I enjoy watching people get nervous because they think I'm serious.

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I confess the troublemaker in myself tends to be my favorite in-house comedian.

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I confess I did not chew gum in the church.


Amen.

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Monday, July 20, 2009

Summer Reading Update--

Best book of the summer so far--

HIGHLY RECOMMEND--

Amy Tan's book of essays: The Opposite of Fate: Memories of a Writing Life

I'm loving this book. Amy is just one of the best writers around. She is honest and interesting and this book which gets a little more into her true family life, the making of The Joy Luck Club Movie and how fate has played into her life..or not (a subject I'm always fascinated about).

She just writes well and I find rarely do I get bored of what she has to say no matter what she is writing about. This is a rarity for me with writers, sometimes it's the subject matter that keeps me reading, but with Tan, it's what she says, how she says it, and what she thinks that keeps me reading. Wonderful book. I haven't skipped an essay yet!

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Also read:
Pam Houston's book of essays/memoir (A LITTLE MORE ABOUT ME). It's pretty good, but some essays are much better than others (I skipped a couple, sorry to say as Houston is a fav of mine too.)

**RECOMMENDED for Pam Houston fans


Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger's by John Elder Robison
: So far, I'm enjoying this. It really helps me understand what it's like to live with Asberger's. He has a very clear writing style that is quite observational and an understanding of how he learned to fit in as a child.

I would recommend this for any parent who has a child with this form of autism. Or maybe with any form.

Actually, I don't have a child with autism, but I find his story quite interesting in what he went through.

****RECOMMENDED


The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich
by Tim Ferriss-- I listened to this one and was surprised what a funny writer he was with a book like this. There are definitely some sections I found helpful to help me organize my life, but a few that didn't quite fit my world and I found myself tuning out.

This was a positive surprise for me as I just happened to pick this book up at the library because I wanted something to listen to as I cleaned before my vacation and there wasn't a very good selection of audio books.

I like his beliefs though, that life is about having experiences, not things and that we do not live to work. Also, the goal in life is not to be a millionaire, but to enjoy life.

Also, if you decide to get this book, I wouldn't recommend the audio version but a hard copy because he has lots of reference info and websites you may want to refer to again.

****RECOMMENDED

Just got-

My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey by Jill Bolte Taylor
(haven't started)

and

How we decide by Jonah Lehrer

___________________

Also, has anyone read GRAYSON (about the swimmer and the whale) and do you recommend it? I keep wanting to start this, but I'm a little nervous (I tend not to like books that involve real animals because I get anxious...) So it's been on my nightstand...tell me if I should read it or not.



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Sunday, July 19, 2009

Back!



Yes, my blog is open again and one Confession Tuesday short.

I have been in Alaska this last week and up and down the left side of two countries. But I'm home.

And caught up. Mostly.

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Oh and
I love this sign.

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Sorry I was out...



I missed everything last week. I confess, I was floating...literally.

More soon.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Tampa poetry Prize

Just received my rejection for the Tampa poetry Prize and I'm interested in that of the 10 finalists (and winner), only one was a woman- Frannie Lindsey, who is a remarkable poet.

There is part of me that wants to know if poetry is male/female experience or if gender doesn't matter... it seems when it comes to certain contests or certain judges, it does.

And I am included in that group, if you look at my list of poets who I connected with in early 2000 they were mostly (read: all) women. That concerns me, as poets, are men and women speaking different languages? Are we not connecting with each other?

My favorite male poets are Bob Hicok, Tony Hoagland, Ilya Kaminsky, and Li-Young Lee. I also like Matthew Dickman and Robert Hass.

Though, when I see 10 men and 1 woman in a poetry prize, it concerns me.

I'm not sure what to think. I think men are interesting and wonderful, but I think the same of women and sometimes (because I am one) maybe I find them more interesting. Maybe the men find men interesting. But... can't we all be wonderul together?

I guess I'm kind of feeling let down with Tampa, but life is life is life, should it be that big of a deal? I'm not sure.

I wish gender didn't matter, but sometimes it seems too. If I could just write that boy/frog poem. I'm joking. We are all humans. Those are the poems-the humanness-- I want to read.


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My Poem at DMQ Review

I don't think I ever mentioned I had a poem published here this spring and it's online.

DMQ Review - "Death & Birth in a Chinese Restaurant"

**A little something about the poem-- In 2000, when my daughter was born she swallowed amniotic fluid as was born not breathing.

Birth was probably the scariest time of my life, to have that happen and then all the things that happened to me (my blood pressure dropped before her birth to 70/40 and they thought I was going into shock, afterwards I was hemorrhaging...good times.)

As horrible as it all was, it helped me (as these events do) realize what was important in life-- not things, not status, not promotions, not money.

I have another collection in the works that goes a little deeper into these events and traumas, but I haven't submitted it yet or consider it completely finished. It's been nine years this August and it's still hard to write about and remember.


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Self Portrait With Poetry Book

I was reading Victoria Chang's blog this morning and she mentioned the Newsweek article and if poetry reading is declining. She thought that yes it is.

If I am considering this in my own life, the answer is sadly, "Yes, I am reading less poetry than I was 5 years ago." Honestly, I think the early 2000's were a great year for poetry. I bought so many books and I was so excited about what I was reading.

Here are poets whose books I purchased who I fell in love with-- Beth Ann Fennelly, Jane Mead, Christine Garren, Olena Kalytiak Davis (her first book, not her 2nd), Katrina Vandenberg (Atlas), Martha Silano, Susan Rich. All these incredible poets.

Then Tupelo had a great run on poetry-- Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Ilya Kaminsky, Patricia Fargnoli.

And then what happened? Did poetry change or did I change?

I kind of worry it was me.

You may have seen my posts asking (begging) for someone to share a new wonderful poet with me. But I haven't found him or her. Yet. I still have hope. But I want the book I drag around with me. I need that book.

I know some of the problem is I'm not a fan of a lot of the new work that is coming out. I know a lot of people love Ben Lerner, but I really did not get into his book. Someone told me I needed to hear him read before I'd love it. But I can't ask him into my home for a solo performance, so where does that leave me?

Then I told you about that terribly bad poet I discovered (with the name I wouldn't say) that had two books. Where did she come from and why was she published?

But there have been books this year (and poems) that I love. Where do I find them?

Crab Creek Review & Field publish my favorite poems (of course, I'm one of the editors at CCR, so I'm not surprised the poetry leans towards my taste.

Tracy K. Smith published DUENDE in the last couple years and I did love that book.

I didn't really love the C.D. Wright Rising, Falling, Hovering book even though I heard her read it and even though I bought it hoping to fall in love with it. But it went on to win awards and it was well crafted. So is it the books, or have I just become a finicky reader? I think I've become more finicky.

I did love Mary Jo Bang's ELEGY, but it was very hard to read because it was about the loss of her son. And Robert Hass's TIME AND MATERIALS was a satisfying read and is physically one of the most beautiful books I've seen with its red cover and birds.

Maybe I am reading a lot of good poetry, but unlike my younger self who would fall in love at the drop of a book, maybe my tastes have become a little more refined, or picky, or the poetry honeymoon period is over and I have to look at these lovers with their bad habits and ketchup stains on their shirts and see them as human and not as the gods I thought they once were.


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Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Confession Monday...Tuesday...Wednesday

I confess I started these Monday because I realize in summer, I completely lose track of what day it is in the summer.

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I confess that after I wrote them, I forgot about them.

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I confess I added more confessions on Tuesday and then forgot to post them again.

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I also confess I abandon poetry in the summer. Not on purpose, but it just happens. Life, outside living, family, friends, vacation, camping, bike riding, gardening, beach days, just take over. I read a lot during the summer, but never poetry. Mostly non-fiction.

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Speaking of non-fiction, I just finished Madness: A Bi-Polar Life. Some of the middle section seemed vague and redundant, but I also realize that the author had many fuzzy periods due to her manic episodes. Still, I think it could have been edited a bit more. The last sections improved though. Ultimately, I'm not sure I finished the book with a satisfying feeling as it felt as if something was not being said. There was definitely a feeling of information being withheld in there for me. But I did finish the book, which says a lot as I have no problem abandoning a book midway through if I feel it's not going anywhere.

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If you saw me today (Monday) you may think I've been in a fight as I'm completely bruised up. Some is from camping. Some is from mountain biking. But the most recent (and most visible) are from the 4th of July bbq I attended where I competed in the 3-legged race. I'm highly competitive and my husband and I made it into the finals. When we go towards the finish line, the other couple was catching up, so I dove.

Diving for the finish line is not a good idea when you are tethered and tied to another person. I landed on my shoulder (grass burns galore) and took my husband down with me (not good considering he just had knee surgery this year). I was actually highly amused and bruised, but not hurt seriously. I somehow strained my neck though and bruised the left side of my body. And hit my head. But we won. A reggae CD too.

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I think I am better at sports than I actually am.

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We're working on the next issue of Crab Creek Review and it has an incredible interview with Madeline DeFrees in it. We were up until 11 Monday night working on it.

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I got my new issue of FIELD and it's incredible. It's one of my very favorite poetry journals.

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I confess I drink a lot of lemon or lime seltzer water.

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I confess I get very annoyed when we accidentally buy tonic water instead and I yell "The quinine, the quinine!"
Yuck.

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I confess I've been busy, but think of you often.

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Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Confession Wednesday (??)

I confess in the summer I lose track of which day it is. I confess Tuesday came and went without me confessing. I confess I've been busier than usual and this business of being busy makes time move faster and makes my "to-do" list become a "not done" list.

Since I'm late, let's begin...


Something has been a little wacky in my life lately and I'm not sure what it is.

I don't feel centered or grounded. Something's up. It could be be because we've been so busy lately, but it feels different than that. I haven't been to yoga in quite a while and that was really a place where I sort of centered myself. Maybe it's a lack of connection to something greater, but I know something is off with me, but I just can't put my finger on it.

I realize that yoga needs to be a part of my life.

My friend hosted a mom/daughter slumber party and I was up until 1 a.m. playing RockStar. I got 100% in my vocals singing Survivor's Eye of the Tiger & Duran Duran's Hungry Like a Wolf. I'm not a good singer, but I know all the words.

Sometimes I think there's a large portion of my brain is being wasted because it is filled up completely with song lyrics.

I didn't have coffee until 10:45 am yesterday and I was amazed I didn't have a headache.

I went to go to our of drive-thru espresso stands only to find out they have converted it from normal espresso stand to "bikini barista" espresso stand. There was no way in Kansas I was taking my 8 year old daughter through a bikini barista stand, though honestly, she would have just thought they were in their bathing suits because it was hot outside.

I ended up getting my coffee from the Covey Coffee drive thru. It was owned by a smiling middle-aged woman in a yellow sweater and run by two fully-clothed young ladies. Plus there was an image of a bird on their coffee cup.

I always get a large black drip coffee. No cream. No sugar. In my small town, there's a stand where they are $1. Here I paid $2.19

Sometimes I look at my home and wonder how I acquired all this cr*p. I would like to simplify my life again. I read The Circle of Simplicity by Cecile Andrews every fall, but I need to make sure I take time to keep its lessons in my mind throughout the year.

Eventually, I would like to downsize. I'd like to rent a small cabin on the water or rent an apartment. Of course, this probably will not be until my daughter is out of school, but I realize I am not a big house, big yard gal. I am not my khakis.


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