The Adventures of Moose & Bear

It’s been a flurry of activity, even more than normal around the Knitting Sarah homestead over the past week. We had a visit from some very special out-of-town friends over the weekend which was extraordinary and wonderful — I’ll get to that recap soon. Today though, I have a different, yet also very special story to share.

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While scrolling through social media, Mr. Knitting Sarah showed me a picture. One of his co-workers has a small family farm that primarily raises pigs. They had bred their farm dogs — who work their pastures, helping protect their animals from the area wildlife — and had puppies for sale.

We’ve been flirting with the idea of a second dog for a while now and have been watching rescue and shelter ads online for the right fit. Since we have a great family dynamic with Moose and the kids, the fit was our primary concern. We would happily remain a one dog house, but we felt that both Moose and kids were at the perfect age to welcome a new addition. So we waited and we watched. And months passed. We popped into local shelters from time to time. Nothing really felt right though.

We came to adopt Moose when one of Mr. KS’s co-workers had a sister who had a small farm and had bred her beloved lab to keep her line alive. Moose had been held for a family member who then decided against taking on another dog. We felt great supporting the small farm and I’ll never forget the day he waddled out to meet us, all paws and fat belly and ears. He was and is, truly, the perfect dog for us.

Monday night, though, the picture Mr. KS showed me of a little black pup with white mittens, well, it stopped both of us. Something about this pup’s calm eyes and focus on the camera said, “I’m chill. I’d fit right in with you.” The whole similar situation of a family farm, beloved pets, etc, echoed our good experience with Moose. Mr. KS messaged his co-worker asking all the relevant info and set up a time to go meet the little guy.

At work yesterday, Mr. KS got a little more info on the pup from the owner and we became pretty optimistic that he was going to be the right fit for us. We also learned that he was ready to go home right away, so my day quickly turned into getting ready for a 7 week old puppy. Getting his food, a collar, some flea treatment (since he’d been living in the barn), a couple bones to chew on, and a vet appointment set up for him while also getting through our school day and then setting the kids loose to clean the crate up (which we have from Moose, but haven’t used in years) and do some beginning puppy-proofing. My girl, who has been asking for a puppy for at least 2 years, vacillated all day between excited chatter and tears of joy. By the time Mr. KS got home from work, my introverted self was exhausted!

And so the time came to meet the pup. I was all nerves, of course, because that is me. First we met the pup’s mama, a Newfoundland/German Shepherd mix and just about the friendliest, sweetest dog you can imagine. She actually reminded me a fair bit of Moose’s mama. And from the pasture, the pup’s dad, a Great Pyrenees gave a couple hearty woofs. We went into the barn, mama leading the way to her pups. And they we came to stall FULL OF PUPPIES. This is about the time when my heart and head exploded.

We watched the whole litter and the one we’d picked was definitely one of the most mellow, relaxed, easy-going personalities. He liked saying hi to his mama, didn’t mind being picked up, and mostly just looked ready for a nap. Yep. This was definitely our dog.

We carried him out to the car and mama followed along. We gave them a minute to say good-bye and we thanked her and promised to take good care of him. The two times I’ve been a part of this transition, it always strikes me as a kind of a heart-breaking moment. Mama dog is so stoic & pup never quite knows what’s happening, but both times I’ve felt a connection and understanding with the Mama.

He rode on my lap for the 20minute ride home. He cried a little, but mostly he just drooled excessively so that my sleeve was soaked. And then he threw up. Seeing as though this guy is 7 weeks old, just left the only home he’s known without his mama, and was with strangers in a car (which is also probably a first!), I’m not going to blame the little guy. I’m exhausted and stressed out just thinking about it!

Nevertheless, we made it home and he met Moose in the driveway. Tails wagged and, having made the acquaintance, Bear laid down in the middle of the driveway, exhausted. We carried him inside — to go up stairs is still a bit of a puzzle — and Moose gave him another sniff test…

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He looked around a bit…

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And then he basically lost all energy and kind of just went flat.

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He did eventually make it close to the dog bed…

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It seemed a little too much for him to try to get his giant paws up onto the bed, but eventually he flopped over.

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Aside from a few minutes of crying when he went into his crate, he didn’t make a peep all night. I finally went in and retrieved him at 5:30 this morning.  I was not expecting that!

This morning — as will be most days for a good long while — was all about playing and eating and training and house training. It’s kind of exhausting.

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He had another car ride to the vet where he got a clean bill of health, his first vaccines…

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And another nap.

For all that he’s been through in the last 24 hours, he’s done great though. And, under the guidance of his big brother Moose, he’s definitely going to be an asset supervising Knitting Sarah headquarters.

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And there is no doubt he’ll be providing many more stories for y’all to read. Stay tuned, The Adventures of Moose & Bear will soon start rolling in!

 

All The WIPs and One FO

After finishing my sweater, I’ve found myself shying away from the thought of finishing… anything.  As someone who is usually very methodical in my craft — first you start, then you work through the project, then you finish, and finally start a new project — it’s been a weird mindset in which to find myself. Thankfully, it’s not ledto a wild foray into startitis, but it has resulted into a few new WIPs.

I’m tantalizingly close to finishing this pair of socks…

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Just a little ways to go on the foot and then the toe and this pair will be done. I’ve been plinking away at it since mid-summer, so it’s time to mosey toward the end of this project one of these days.

Shortly after finishing my sweater, I started this shawl project…

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It’s a new-to-me construction (who knew there was such a thing — lol!) as I am knitting in a circle! As so many new techniques are, it was a bumpy start, but I seem to be cruising now. I have no idea how far I’ve left to go before I hit some cool lacework, but I’m kind of slowly working my way into this project. I’m still debating another knitting project as I have yarn wound for hats and really could use some extra hats, especially with holiday company coming in a couple weeks. I think I’ll attempt to finish up the socks and then move on to hats. I don’t want to get too crazy with this multiple projects at once thing!

In spinning news, I’ve been very driven to work on singles. I’m definitely in a “fill the bobbins and worry about plying another day mode.” And so that’s exactly what I’ve been doing with the exception of my latest Top of the Month Club

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Mary Ann from Three Waters Farm and I found ourselves curious how it would look as a traditional 3-ply and really there’s only one way to find out. Spin it!

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It just turned out beautiful! Add it to the list pile of yarn I want to knit into hats!

In the great game of “fill the bobbins” though, I’ve got singles for Nest‘s Damaged Goods…

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Three Waters Farm’s Multifarious Ruse…

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These are all set to ply.

On the wheels — because I’ve been splitting time between my Jensen Tina 2 & Schacht Reeves — I’ve got an Inglenook batt in a braid (I think) in the Hazelnut colorway happening. I’m probably 1/3 of the way through the fiber I have…

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And Three Waters Farm’s Maple Leaf Rag is almost finished.

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Seriously, 5 minutes and I’ll be done with this. I’ve not yet decided what spin will come next on this wheel, but you probably won’t be surprised to know I have some ideas.

It’s really quite weird to not be focused in on finishing anything in particular, especially right before the holidays when most are feverishly knitting on holiday gifts. I have to say though, I’m finding it very refreshing! I’m not sure how long it’ll last — it may end when I hit “publish” on this post! — but I’m going to enjoy it while it does!

 

Early Christmas Gifts, Trail Cam Discoveries, And Some Knitting & Spinning, Too!

I hope each of you celebrating Thanksgiving had a wonderful holiday and got to spend some quality time with friends and family. Since Mr. TKS works on almost all the holidays, we are generally hosting my parents and a few others and this year was no different. I’m not much of a cook so I have always been a little terrified of the big holiday meals, but after taking the reins since our move I’m now to the point that I kind of enjoy the cooking. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve still got a long way to go until I can start bragging about my holiday meals, but I’m no longer just overwhelmed by the prospect. I find that getting more familiar with some of the recipes to the point that I don’t mind incorporating some news things has lightened the stress level quite a bit and made it much more fun.

Alas, part of my learning curve — because the learning curve is ever-present — this year was a reminder not to use a mandoline while trying to have a conversation.

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Yes, I managed to slice a bit of my thumb off. It bled an alarming amount which is the main reason for the giant bandage. In reality the cut was pretty small and while I opted to take that night off of knitting and spinning, I was back at it the next day.

In fact, I grabbed a new pack of fiber to test out the ol’ liquid bandage remedy.

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What a pretty way to recover! This is Vivid Choosing on Falkland from Three Waters Farm and it’s sheer delight. I’ve got just one small nest left to spin of it, so clearly I’ve been flying! After the long sweater spin, it was fun to just spin to spin.

Speaking of the sweater, I finished!

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My Tecumseh sweater is done and drying! I bound-off the final sleeve Sunday night and put it in the bath straight away. I’m not sure yet if I’ll need to lengthen the sleeves, so I left whatever ends I’d yet to weave in as is just in case I do want to add on some length. The sleeve length was close, so I’m guessing the relaxation brought about from the bath will do the trick. Usually I just knit them longer and roll the sleeves, but I thought I’d try something a little different this time. We’ll see how it looks in a few days — with the colorwork the drying is going to take some time!

Beyond these two projects, I’ve been working on my sock blank socks a bit, wrapping gifts, and — oh yes! —  I must not forget, I got an early Christmas gift! I went to run the dishwasher after dinner on Saturday night and apparently it have given up the ghost. We tried some troubleshooting, but it’s quite old and it was just fried. So in one of the world’s most exciting (is there sarcasm there, I’m not sure…) surprise joint Christmas gifts, Mr. Knitting Sarah and I treated ourselves to a new dishwasher! Try to control your enthusiasm!!!

I grew up in a house where we had no dishwasher so for 18 years I was a designated dish dryer while my sister washed. Maybe it wasn’t all 18 years because once I had a job and other obligations in high school I don’t think my parents expected much dishwashing out of me… but you get the idea. In any case, I don’t take it for granted and I fully recognize the dishwasher as a “want” not a “need” when it really comes down to it. While I may be a little sarcastic about my excitement for my Christmas gift, I am indeed very thankful for it. Perhaps the most exciting part, however, is that my dishwasher will no longer be called the “Quiet Partner” — I don’t know why, but that name has always been weirdly disconcerting to me. The new one will have a “name” that’s a bunch of numbers and letters — I’m much less creeped out by that!

And in one final bit of news from the Knitting Sarah homestead, I checked our trails cameras today after almost a week of not touching them and in between a zillion pictures of squirrels and deer, look at what I found!

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At first I thought it was our friend the Red Fox, but my friend asked a furbearer biologist she knows and was told it’s actually a Grey Fox. The good news is it’s a fox in the yard again (because YAY!), but the bad news is that Grey Foxes and Red Foxes don’t generally share territory, so as long as this guy is around, we aren’t likely to see our friend the Red Fox.

And that, my friends, is the latest from Knitting Sarah HQ. I hope your holiday was grand and that you are all recovering, enjoying leftovers, and maybe relaxing with some knitting & spinning, too!

Counting Blessings.

The kids and I decorated for Christmas yesterday. I know, I know, it’s early! I don’t really have any Thanksgiving decor though so putting up Christmas felt like the festive thing to do. As soon as I started bringing up boxes, the kids went bananas for it, so it was a total win.

Having done most of the cleaning yesterday, I took an hour or so this morning to dust and give a little shine to my spinning wheels and spindles. My holiday company will start arriving today so this was my last opportunity to do so before things got busy. The sun slowly came up. Big, fat snow globe flakes of snow started to fall. In that quiet moment, I took a deep breath and counted my blessings. I am thankful. For family. For friends. For my home. For the cold November blue skies. For the sun shining. For the big, fat snow globe flakes of snow. For my beautiful spinning wheels. For the friends I’ve made through craft and all I’ve been able to learn from it. For all the experiences of the past year. I’m just so very thankful.

This Thanksgiving I hope that you each get a quiet moment to take a deep breath and count your blessings, too. Some days they are harder to see, some days they are as blinding as the morning sun, but they are there. And they are many.

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Life Lessons From A Red Fox

Today we awoke to our second snowfall, the first that actually lasted beyond the sun breaking through the clouds for more than an hour. There’s probably still an inch on the ground, but it is melting in the bright sunshine. I really do love winter. As soon as there is snow on the ground, the whole world changes color because the light is so different. Everything looks crisp and defined in this light. The world becomes all hard lines and blinding lightness. It is the same world I strolled through in summer, but somehow it’s also totally different.

As I look at our outdoor thermometer, I see that in the sunshine at midday it is reading 28°F and the winds are due to pick up, potentially bringing some more snow tonight. It’s cold. And while I have a warm house and plenty of wool to keep me warm, I can’t help but think about a special someone…

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I shared an image of this Red Fox at the beginning of October and I think it’s time I share his story.

I’d spotted this fox around the neighborhood a handful of times during the past year — once loping across the street, once chasing a rabbit in an open lot — you know, doing what foxes are supposed to do. In early October when it slinked into our yard, though, it was almost certainly suffering from sarcoptic mange. Nearly blinded by its swollen eyes and clearly starving, it was resorting to stealing sunflower seeds from our ground feeder.

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Its posture and body language were all wrong.

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It was clear that it was desperate — with eyes almost completely swollen shut, we assumed hunting was difficult if not impossible. With winter coming, things were not looking good for its survival.

Mr. Knitting Sarah shared a photo on his social media and had feedback from some biologist friends for courses of treatment that might help. He dug further and researched treatment plans and then set about getting the inexpensive medicine available at our local farm store.  We set up a dosing calendar based on helpful instructions from a red fox rehab center. Since we wanted to remain hands-off (I’m not interested in wrangling sick wild animals) for our safety as well as the animal’s, we opted to inject food with meds for treatment. We set-up trail cameras on our feeding stations to be able to monitor them, making sure the fox actually was getting the meds. We’d talked about getting trail cams for a while to see what kinds of animals were coming through our yard at night and this was just a good reason to finally do it.

Because treatment needs to happen over a 3-6 week period to effectively treat mange, the key is that you have to get the fox to return regularly. I don’t think this one had an iPhone on which I could set an alarm, so per instructions we set out his favorite foods daily — a mix of wet & dry cat food and a couple cut up hot dogs. The hot dogs were key as they were his favorite. In the early days, I’d refill the stations if I knew he’d been through to make sure there was always food available.

When dosing day rolled around, I would be in the kitchen carefully hollowing hot dogs, injecting them with the appropriate dose of medicine, and then placing a couple pieces of dry cat food inside to soak up the meds in case the piece of hot dog should happen to fall over. Then I’d set the medicated “fox dogs” around the yard and wait, hoping that he’d take them and hoping I’d be able to get a glimpse of him to observe his appearance and body language for comparison.

Sure enough, he came back. And like a good patient, he took his meds every time.

Over the course of the next month, we watched carefully and we set food out and we dosed on schedule. At first, the images taken at night would catch eye shine in just the one eye and he’d return multiple times each night with that same insecure posture.

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We were ecstatic with each successful dose and I read vehemently about the progression of the healing process for this disease. I promise you that at this point, I know way more details about sarcoptic mange and treatment for it than I ever thought I would. Within a couple weeks, we started to see him spacing out his visits a bit and the eye shine of the second eye started to show up, first a little slit and then…

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Both eyes wide open!

His slink became more like prancing punctuated with the occasional leap and pounce. We started to get images that indicated the fox was pushing the feral cat that stopped by sometimes off the food station instead of skittishly ducking away from it. I even watched it once scare off a bunch of deer!

One evening, our red fox friend popped by just before dusk and we were astonished — our scraggly friend had transformed into this much healthier looking canine!

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Still  a little skinny maybe and his tail was taking its time growing back in, but his posture and body language was so much better.

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His winter coat was coming in nicely…

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It looked like an mostly healthy fox! He pranced around looking in all his familiar spots for his fox dogs just long enough to for Mr. KS to catch these photos. He was on his way, leaping and bouncing like he was walking on air until he was out of sight.

The last evening we caught a picture of him was October 30th. I’m wondering if the hub-bub of trick or treating on the 31st paired with the feral cats who were occasionally dropping by to take advantage of the feeding stations made it competitive enough that with his improved health he finally had the incentive to move back out into wilder terrain. We’re right on the edge of town, so it would make sense as he has a lot of fertile hunting grounds just a little farther afield. Of course it could be that the mange came roaring back. It could be that some other predator or the cold proved too much. We might never know.

I do know, however, that when you have a very big heart and you’re a little bit of a control freak, this kind of investment can be taxing. I started out very resistant to the whole endeavor, afraid to be hurt or disappointed or to fail, and only got involved because Mr. KS pushed me. I’m glad that he did. As time went by and I saw the fox’s health improve though, I realized that it wasn’t about making sure this animal survived  the winter (although that was and is the hope). Each easy meal and each successful dose of meds gave this animal an extra day; a day that was better than his last, a day he likely would not have had otherwise. And that was… meaningful.

It is easy to go through life and in the hustle and bustle forget just how precious each day is. It’s easy when we aren’t struggling, to forget what it means to struggle. It’s easy to take good fortune and good health for granted. And it’s easy to not recognize just what an impact you can have on another’s life with just a small investment of time. These are the life lessons I learned from our Red Fox and that is… meaningful.

I hope that our Red Fox friend is healthy and pouncing and prancing and leaping in a place that makes him happy. I hope his belly is full and his coat is warm. I hope that maybe someday I’ll see him again. But most of all, I’m thankful for the days we had each other because for as much as he needed us, I think there is part of me that needed him.

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O, Transience!

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I wanted to share this little blast from the past today because last week this little peanut turned 11. Where does the time go?! My parents came into town for the last half of the week to celebrate and we did it up right with some good quality family time and a cake from which we are still recovering…

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My girl — who in her mind is definitely the female version of Owen Grady, velociraptor wrangler of Jurassic World — created it. In case it’s not clear, she insisted we carve the cake into a hill-like shape and that it must have a “water feature” complete with truffle rocks. The gummy bears, of course, are the victims of this fierce predator and the red frosting and sprinkles, the carnage. It is weird that something so gruesome is also literally so insanely sweet. And I don’t care what anyone says, gummy bears should not be on a frosted cake, but I declined to tell the cake artist that. It was her day and her cake, after all.

Like birthdays, the march of time is relentless in its journey forward toward winter. Most of the leaves are down now and the temps have cooled off considerably. This is the time when most people start to skip their walks and hikes and stay cozy indoors, but not us! As is a family motto, “There is no bad weather, just poor clothing choices!”

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We are truly spoiled where we are that there is no shortage of trails to explore and most of the time we get them to ourselves. That means, plenty of time and space to examine the world around us.

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In all it’s weird…

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And wonderful glory, changing daily before our eyes. Even the greyest of days, even when it’s 40 degrees and spitting cold rain…

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There’s so much to see and enjoy. Trust me, it may look like a barren field, but there are loads of wonders out there!

At home, I’ve started exploring a new avenue, too…

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The support spindle! Isn’t this a pretty one?

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It’s a spalted maple “acorn” from Maine Fiber Tools. I’m still 100% thumbs when trying to use it, but I’ll keep at it. I’ll crack the code someday!

When not fumbling with the support spindle, I’ve been working on a spin for my mom…

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She was looking for something black for a neutral scarf and we found some battlings, procured from an LYS that has since shuttered its doors and a dyer that no longer dyes wool. I don’t know why, but it seems like another quiet reminder of the passing of time, how things change and evolve on all levels of this world.

I’ve also picked up a sock project that’s been on the back burner, simmering since July. I’ve knit on it here and there over the months and then I finished all the way to the last stitches on the toe a couple weeks ago… and couldn’t find my darning needle! The shame and horror!

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Alas, I tracked it down (finally), finished the toe, wove in my ends and started sock #2.

As always, the sock knit is an essential road trip must-have, so it rode along with me yesterday when we took the kiddos up to the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum for their annual Birds in Art Exhibit.

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As a former student of art history, I’m always amazed how the lingo rushes back when you stick me in an art museum. This exhibition we find particularly good for our family because just like art helped me to better understand history way back when, the birds are an easy access point into viewing art for our kids.

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We are able to discuss the different media and subject matter and how to read the labels on the works of art. The hands-on exhibits provided by the museum are, of course, a favorite for our very hands-on crew. I certainly appreciated that they had a silk screening set-up out for touching since trying to explain to an 11-year-old what “a giant squeegee-like thing” is when describing silk screening is not super effective without a visual. So much for technical art lingo!

In any case, outside the museum, well, autumn was still whispering in some places.

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And this theme of time passing, kept presenting itself; from my girl’s birthday, to the seasons, to using familiar and learning new skills in my craft. It’s so important, the ebb and flow of all things, always on display, always evolving from one iteration to the next and setting us in motion.

O, transience! I am reminded to look for and celebrate the variance within the expected, to let go and welcome in what looks different than that to which I’ve grown accustomed, and to honor each changing moment as a step in this grand journey.

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