It was a mucky and murky morning meander.


(How I love alliteration!)  This morning just didn’t go right from the get go.  I got up and heard the weather report – yes … it was foggy, just as predicted, and yes … it would clear up, maybe mid-morn if we were lucky.  I was grateful, once again, that I had seized those two sunny days last weekend and claimed them for a marathon walking-and-photo-taking session.

I peered out the front door around 8:45 a.m. and the pavement was still damp and the trees and bushes had water droplets on them.  I came back to the computer and noticed I lost my internet connection while I was away – great.  Actually, I was not done, and was still responding to comments to yesterday’s post, so that was just plain annoying.  I decided to just shut it down and go, but there were eight updates.  Would I ever get going out into the murky morn?  Finally, almost an hour later, the updates were done and I decided I should hightail it before the computer gremlins made even more mischief.  I grabbed a couple of Ziploc bags of peanuts and headed out.

There was only one other person at Council Point Park and that was Todd, the weekend jogger.  I saw his car, yet I never saw him on the path.  I looked around for squirrels and they were similarly absent, even Parker.  Did the dregs of the fog deter them from coming down from their nests for a visit?

I started along the trail and the asphalt was still wet from Friday’s rain and then the subsequent fog.  Surprisingly, since it was 35 degrees, there was a thin veil of ice on the Creek and black ice on the pathway.  I felt my feet slide a few times, so I thought it might be more prudent to walk on the soggy grass.  My sudden movement raised the hackles of a half-dozen Canada geese and a couple of them got rowdy and flapped their wings, and one even hissed with its bright pink tongue aimed in my direction.  They then decided I wasn’t worth the aggravation of ganging up on me and stopped their collective hissy fit.  “Wait a minute!  I meant no harm and I’m certainly not intruding in your space” I growled to none of them in particular, but they waddled off in a huff anyway.

A group of crows were high above and cawing loudly – they were making quite a ruckus, and, despite the tree branches being bare, I didn’t see a single crow so I had no idea where they were, or what was getting them so agitated.

Harry, the resident heron, was up in a tree.  He was positioned way inside the dead branches, and there was no use in pulling out the camera to take his picture as he just blended into the tree’s dead wood, so the dull sky and his blue-gray body just became one big blur.  “You’ve off the hook Harry – no photo sessions today!” I called out as I passed him.

I had to walk almost the entire loop before the word got out that the Peanut Lady had arrived and was looking for takers, then the word spread quickly because soon there were furry bodies scrambling all over the path, and headed toward me.  Parker was not in the bunch so he must have been slacking up in his nest.  “That’s better” I told them as I tossed out peanuts, and added “I was hoping I didn’t have to summon you down!”

I emptied most of the Ziploc bags with the eight squirrels, but had to save some peanuts for the other side in case any squirrels were over there.  There were none, and, unbelievably I walked in that second loop without seeing a single soul, human or otherwise.

I wanted to spotlight another memorial tree today.  You’ll recall back on November 23rd I wrote about Brian Skinner’s memorial tree which had not one, but two, Christmas wreaths, both in a red-and-white color combo.  One wreath had a hockey theme so Brian might have been a Red Wings fan, or “wing nut” as they are called.  It was very festive.

There is only one other tree at Council Point Park that sports Christmas décor and it belongs to Earl “Butch” Paryaski.


Every year this tree is decorated with old-fashioned glass bulbs and nostalgic-looking ornaments.  I picked today to mention this memorial tree since Mr. Paryaski passed away 15 years ago on this date and tomorrow would have been his 79th birthday.  I found out his information simply by Googling his name and landing on the “Find a Grave” site.

These ornaments sure do shimmer against a gray and lackluster background don’t they?











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A corny love story.


Sharing the love at the holidays, or any day, is what life is all about, whether the objection of your intentions is human, furry … or in this case, feathered.

I didn’t get a walk in today because it was rainy – basically, it was weather for ducks.  So, instead of venturing outside, I hunkered down in the house and did the Christmas cards, a chore I usually tackle over Thanksgiving.  I just kept putting it off.  I finished the cards up and had them in a plastic bag waiting in the mailbox for when Jenny, our mail carrier arrived.

When I opened the front door, I remembered Grady, the gray squirrel, might be hanging around, hoping to catch sight of me, (and if not me, a few peanuts anyway).  I looked for Grady, but I did not find him.  In good faith, I put several peanuts on the front porch and scattered more in front of the house.  When I looked outside many hours later to ensure the mail carrier picked up the cards, those peanuts were all gone.  Yay Grady – you’ve got our routine down pat!

So, back to weather for ducks … and the general topic of ducks.  I’ve teased you with the promise of a few tales from last weekend, by mentioning some of the nice people I met in my marathon walking-and-picture-taking sessions at five different parks.   This little tale is about a couple of kindred souls who were feeding the ducks at Elizabeth Park.

I spent about five hours at Lake Erie Metropark on Saturday morning.  When I arrived, the grass was covered in frost and it sure was cold.  Over the course of the morning and early afternoon, the sun came out and melted those crystallized grass blades, and, since I was layered up and the sun was shining, it actually became rather pleasant.

After Lake Erie Metropark, I decided to head over to Elizabeth Park, which is just six miles away.  I drove over the vehicle bridge and was about to head to my usual parking spot, when I spied a group of ducks clamoring around a man and woman.  I quickly found a parking space so I could watch what appeared to be a feathered friend feeding frenzy.  I parked the car and hurried over to watch.  What I saw made my  heart melt.


The bigger ducks, the white Pekins, and also the Mallard Hybrids, because of their size, had the advantage and were nuzzling the woman’s knees and she was petting them, while her companion was busy tossing out food.  I got closer and told the couple that just watching the scene made me smile, so I asked if they would mind if I took a few pictures?  “No problem – enjoy!” was their smiling answer.   So I settled in, camera in hand, to watch the action.

The woman and I struck up a conversation while the man was busy doling out dried corn to the ducks.  They lunged to get it, and pretty soon there were probably sixty ducks, of all different sizes, heads bent to the grass, enjoying their treat.  They continued to circle the couple, pressed up against their legs, and enjoying the friendly pats on their backs or the top of their heads.  Little quacks of satisfaction were being emitted and their feathery butts were wiggling back and forth, as they tried to squeeze in between their brethren to access either the precious corn wedged between the grass blades on the hill, or perhaps for a soft stroke by a human hand.

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Four buckets of corn having been tossed out and the van door closed up tight, the man joined our conversation.  I sure wish I had gotten their names as we had the nicest visit.  While the ducks were eating up the corn, they told me that they made a daily trip to Elizabeth Park, right at this spot.  The ducks know their van and when they see them pull up, they all run up the grassy hill to meet the couple on the sidewalk.  That made me smile.  They told me as soon as the ducks finish their corn, they will turn around and waddle back to the water’s edge, where they’ll plop into the water, or perhaps sit along the shoreline and preen.

Of course I told them about Parker and his friends and we compared notes of interacting with our feathery and furry friends and the pleasure we each got in doing so.  The man laughed and said that they keep their supply of corn in the back of the van and have thought of building a ramp for the ducks to just go up the ramp so they could access their treats.  The pair and I continued visiting, while one by one, the corn having been eaten, the ducks waddled back down the hill, just as the woman had predicted they would.

We stood talking a little bit longer and the ducks saw their benefactors lingering, so they turned around and started back up the hill again! The woman bent down to talk to them and said “were you late to the party, or are you coming back for seconds?”  They wiggled their bodies in anticipation, much like your dog would do when it saw you, or if you held out a treat in your hands.  It did not matter that they had enjoyed one treat already – they were game for a second helping!  So, I laughingly apologized for making them linger and having to feed those ducks a second time, (although I knew in my heart that it was no hardship for them to do so).  The woman waved her hand in a dismissive motion, saying “oh, why not – let’s give them some more corn” and the man returned to the van and came back with heaping buckets full of corn which he tossed out in every direction.

I am disappointed that my photos were not stellar as I recorded this labor of love … it was late in the day and I never took into consideration the angle of the sun and the shadows, as I usually take my photos much earlier in the day.  But the images are recorded in my mind to play back when I want a smile – I hope your mouth will turn upward as well when you read this post.

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All the leaves are brown …

single leaf

… and the sky is gray,

I’ve been for a walk,

On a Winter’s day.


desolate looking

The opening part of this song [“California Dreamin’” by The Mamas & the Papas] just tells it like it is on a gray and cold Winter’s day.  However, I need to pinch myself to remember Winter is not here yet, despite how it looks or feels outside.

Well, it seems as if I’ve been absent from posting in this forum for weeks and really it has only been four days.  I know I was behind in commenting and reading blog posts – it is all because last weekend I went on a mission of sorts.

Three weather stations predicted our weather would turn ugly starting tonight with sleet and rain, and continuing all through the upcoming weekend.  It is pouring as I write this post.  So, I bemoaned the fact that another weekend would be lost to ugly weather, and decided to take advantage of last weekend’s back-to-back sunny days.  It didn’t matter that the wind chill hovered in the teens when I went out – it was sunny and dry and that was all that mattered.

So, I layered up and made the most of those sunny days and meandered around five different parks.  I walked 6 ½ miles each day, maybe closer to 7 miles on Saturday.  I took tons of pictures – way too many pictures in fact.  Admittedly, it is too easy to click away a second or third time just because the seagull took a different pose on the boardwalk railing, or maybe even wiggled an eyebrow at me (if indeed seagulls have eyebrows).  I cannot tell you how many different photos I came home with last week as I studied Harry the Heron’s feather configuration which, thanks to the wind, gave him a definite punk rock look.  Back in the days of using a film camera, two entire days of walking and picture-taking would never yield an eighth as many images as I took over the course of these two days – I am still sorting them out and hope I don’t forget any of the little stories that are going to accompany those photos!  I made it my mission to enjoy those two days to the fullest.

The sunny weather brought out a handful of folks who preferred a walk in the marsh to a trudge through the mall.  I went to five different parks over Saturday and Sunday and met some nice fellow nature lovers and will share some conversations and nature-related pictures I took over the next few weeks … how about I intersperse those posts with some Christmas posts?

I hate being inconsistent and doing three posts in as many days, then no posts, but I was scrambling the past few days as well.  My boss was in meetings all day Monday, so I went off on errands and grocery shopping, making it my mission to finish any running around for the rest of this year.

I made it back to Council Point Park yesterday and today, though this morning I barely made it there on time to get back to work.  My alarm did not go off this morning … oh, it wasn’t broken, I tested it later today.  I just forgot to pull it last night.  (And how many years have I been getting up to an alarm clock in the morning?)  So, I scrambled to get ready and out the door, not very well put together, but I don’t think the squirrels care … at least they didn’t let on they noticed!

I have a new trick up my sleeve with my furry pals.  I knew last week I’d be going to Lake Erie Metropark, Elizabeth Park, Heritage Park, Bishop Park and Dingell Park and would not be there to feed them, so last Friday I showed Parker and his pals a new place where I can stash peanuts … the water fountain at Council Point Park has never worked and so I dumped some nuts in there for them.  The cement base that supports the water fountain is porous enough for tiny paws to climb up and hold on, then the platform up top is perfect for sitting and eating those peanuts.

drinking fountain and stubby

You must give our squirrels friends some credit here … it took me just ONE time of having Parker and his buddies watch what I did with those peanuts.   I did this exercise again Tuesday morning, and this morning, the peanuts were gone and they were waiting by the fountain for me.  (Better than waiting in the parking lot.)

drinking fountain whole

Also, every day I have been saving a couple of peanuts to toss to a little gray squirrel in the neighborhood just before I come into the house after my walk.  Since I ran errands on Monday, I returned home to find this gray squirrel sitting on the porch patiently awaiting my return.  I felt so badly!  Obviously he was waiting for me to return from my walk and I was several hours later than my usual time.  He had a sad face and I went scurrying into the house for a treat for him.  I am always a sucker for a cute squirrel and he got about ten peanuts … yesterday and today, he was waiting when I returned from walking so I guess we have established a rapport and routine between us.  I just bought six more bags of peanuts at the grocery store Monday, some peanuts which will be destined to go to this guy who I think I’ll name “Grady” as that name works nicely with “gray squirrel” and “Go-Getter” doesn’t roll off the tongue so well.

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A little Friday frivolity …


… (at the expense of my fine-feathered friends, a couple of Great Blue Herons).

Yesterday, en route to Council Point Park, it sure was blustery.  I saw Christmas decorations swaying with each gusty puff of air, and homeowner’s wind chimes were rattling away, swinging slightly and emitting a range of pleasant musical notes.

The Park is even windier than in the ‘hood due to the wide open spaces and I snuggled down further into my coat.  Sometimes the individual hairs on the squirrels’ furry tails were sticking straight up, as if they’d seen a ghost.  Ooh, that’s how wicked the wind was.

I was handing out peanuts to the left and right side all along the trail, when fellow walker Mike hurried over to see me and said “do you have your camera with you?  You’ve got to go back this way because the big bird is just sitting there on the side of the Creek, but not in his usual spot.  I’m on my second time around and he hasn’t budged an inch – go before he moves and you can get a picture!”

So, that was my cue to get going and I momentarily abandoned the squirrels (well kind of – they followed along behind me) and high-tailed it over to the direction Mike had pointed, while pulling the camera out of the zippered hidey-hole in my squall jacket.

Well I saw that heron, looking relaxed and just gazing ahead, so I turned around and scattered a few peanuts behind me to keep my furry pals occupied so I could take that heron’s picture.  I  sneaked, snuck … well, let’s just say I crept up behind this feathered fellow.  He didn’t see me and the gusty wind was lifting the feathers at the top of his head ever so slightly.  He definitely needed a little hair gel to tame those wayward feathers which gave him a punk rock look.

heron with ice in background

That Great Blue Heron gave me the side eye, first from the left …


… then from the right.


Mike was right – he never budged an inch!

I took a slew of pictures and moseyed back onto the trail again, and … if I didn’t spot another heron.


Mike didn’t say anything about TWO herons, so I wonder which one he sent me too?   Right away I pegged him to be the resident heron here at Council Point Park.  He was ankle deep in the cold water.

That heron looked around, the wind raising a tuft of feathers on his crest, giving him a rather comical look, just like his predecessor.  I inched slowly down the leaf-covered slope to hone in on him for a close-up picture, but he was wise to me, plus the crispy leaves underfoot crackled and made my presence known.


That heron shot a look at me, then let out a screech that could raise the dead, and he promptly flew across the Creek, clearly miffed at my presence.

I left the Creek bank, not quite with the same flourish and pizzazz as he did, but I climbed back up to the trail where four squirrels sat on haunches with sad eyes and rumbling stomachs and one squirrel chattered and looked disapprovingly at me from a nearby tree, as if I should not be taking care of any business, but squirrel business first!


I guess I should be glad he didn’t give me the cold shoulder like the herons.

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Fun in the sun with my furry and feathered friends.

tree reflections.jpg

It’s a good thing it was beautiful and sunny yesterday, because it sure made up for this morning’s blustery and bone-chilling 18 degree-wind chill and very gray sky.  But all was not lost in today’s dull and dreary day, because I managed to snag a few shots of the heron who was daydreaming and didn’t see me.  I got a tip from fellow walker Mike that “the big bird” was down near the water so I should keep my eyes peeled for him.  And I did and that adventure will be shared later.

This post is about yesterday’s trek – I wanted to crow about reaching my walking miles goal yesterday, so I held onto these pictures and my tale.  As you know there’s always a tale to tell.

Yesterday was cold as well, but not so blustery.  I got down to the Park and after doing the meet and greet with the squirrels, I set out on the trail.

I’ve been overfeeding the squirrels so they don’t have to go into their respective, long-term stashes and I’ve been giving them five or six peanuts apiece.  I try to drop a little pile for each of them, though that doesn’t always work, because sometimes one of them thinks I’m not doling out nuts fast enough and they raid the other squirrel’s nut pile.  I hate having to be the mediator, but sometimes it is necessary – kids!

Interestingly, it is not only the squirrels raiding each other’s peanuts.  From high in a tree, the Park birds have a perfect perch to gaze down on what is happening on the perimeter path.  You might recall in the Spring, there were a pair of cardinals that routinely swooped down and snagged peanuts from the pathway, with the squirrels sitting a mere foot or two away from those peanuts.  This misappropriation of peanuts caused consternation on the part of the squirrels.  I even went and bought safflower seeds to entice the cardinals to fly to the ground for those seeds, (a favorite of cardinals), to no avail.  This went on for a few weeks and I never saw another cardinal all Summer or Fall.

Until yesterday.

Yesterday, while the squirrels were feasting on their peanuts, I was feasting my eyes on two beautiful birds – a male cardinal and a blue jay.

First, from his high perch, the blue jay was eyeing the peanuts I had scattered for the squirrels.  He watched a squirrel enjoying that nut …

squirrel noshing nut before cardinal.jpg

… but decided not to pursue snatching one for himself since there were too many people on the path at that time.  But it didn’t stop that jay from glancing down.

blue jay in tree.jpg

I walked a little further down the path when Mike, one of the other walkers, stopped me, and, in a hushed tone, asked “have you got your camera, because look at that beauty in between the branches over there?”

cardinal in bush.jpg

The cardinal, just like the jay, was eyeing those peanuts on the path, but, as I inched closer to get a better picture, that cardinal nonchalantly turned his back on me.

cardinal in bush backwards.jpg

Shortly after snapping his picture, the cardinal, obviously braver than the blue jay, threw caution to the wind and swooped down to ground level and walked over to help himself to a peanut.

cardinal on path.jpg

The squirrel, who was suddenly minus one peanut, looked stunned!  If you could read his mind it would be “hey, what just happened here?”

squirrel hey what happened here.jpg

The blue jay remained, at the top of the tree and peering down at the commotion on the path, the commotion being squirrels, fellow walker Mike, me and a guy who came along with his two dogs.  I had the camera out and was freezing my fingers off anyway, so I asked for a photo with the dogs.  “Sure” he said, and HE complied, the dogs not so much.

guy and dogs.jpg

I moved along and stopped near the cement landing to take a picture of the vapor rising up off the water.

vapor on water.jpg

The mallards were paddling away, seemingly oblivious to the mist, which concentrated itself in some portions of the Creek, but not everywhere.  For example, across the way, the weathered trees cast an amazing reflection on the water …

tree reflections and ducks

… and that didn’t faze them either.

tree reflections and ducks1

It’s been ages since I took any shadow pictures at Council Point Park.  Do you remember how I’d rate the sunny days on a “shadow meter” sometimes?  The notion of rating a shadow is pretty hard to do with the sun so scarce these days.

I saw some spooky-looking tree shadows on the perimeter path.

spooky tree

I decided to try and get another picture of Parker and me and our shadows.  One of my all-time favorite pictures from the Park is this one of us from  back on March 5th of this year:

After I took the picture, I looked in the display window at my shot.  I had to laugh at my Long, Tall Sally shadow on the perimeter path.  Parker was busy noshing on nuts and his shadow was nothing more than a flicked tail and snout to the ground, but I look like I’m wearing stilts don’t I?

long tall sally.jpg

I noticed the sun’s rays were getting stronger, so I hung out with Parker, doling out a few more peanuts, (much to his delight), as I awaited a chance to get another shadow shot, but anything I took were just pale imitations of the shot back in March, as mentioned above.  Surely, there will be other sunny days down the road!

A little sunshine is good for the soul – I walked five miles and felt ready to take on the world.

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I’ve walked my socks off and …


today I reached my goal of 1,051 miles walked in 2018, one mile more than I walked in 2017.

My year-end goal is always to surpass the prior year’s total by at least one mile.  I thought I’d finish yesterday, but I didn’t push myself hard enough.  I know if we would have had better weather this year, I’d have easily done another 100 or more miles, because I missed so many walks due to the weather.  In the Spring, we had nine weekends in a row where it rained, and many of those weekend days it was a day-long torrential rain event.  And then there was the snow … we had a total of 62 inches of snow, which began in earnest in mid-December and lingered through early April.  I despised that Groundhog, believe me!

But I had a beautiful walk this morning.   I took a lot of pictures and will make a separate post about today’s trek to Council Point Park.  The sun was a real treat and it was shining brightly, making beautiful reflections on the surface of the Creek, and I got a few shadow pictures with Parker as well.  The vapor was rising off the water with the mallards swimming in and out of the mist when I first arrived.  It was frosty cold, a mere 28 degrees, so I returned home with not only a spring in my step, but roses in my cheeks.

The journey goes on – in fact, my new total as of now is 1,055 miles because it was a sunny morning, so I got five miles walked.  The weather is SUPPOSED to be favorable for about another week and there are 26 more days left in this year after all, so onward and upward to the next goal!

I’ll leave you with this quote:

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”~ C.S. Lewis


[Image of Christmas stockings by from Pinterest]

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I’m not going to write about today’s walk because it was abysmal.  After enduring three days of ugly weather in the form of freezing rain, freezing fog, torrential rain, then still more fog and rain, I finally headed out around 1:30 p.m. today. The sun was out, but I had to look twice, because that bright spot in the sky looked familiar … but the sun doesn’t come around here anymore, so I had to double-check.  I packed up some peanuts and stuffed them in my coat pockets and headed out in the 60-degree temps.  Nope, not a typo, it was almost tropical out there, and I do believe we got our long-awaited Indian Summer we’ve been clamoring for.  I won’t dwell on the fact that our Indian Summer is only here for about twelve hours, then poof, it’s gone again.

Halfway down to the Park, that sun that looked so promising as I peered out the front door, suddenly disappeared and a gray cloud hovered ominously overhead.  I said to myself “it sure looks like a snow sky, nah – too warm for snow, but don’t tell me it’s going to rain!”  I no sooner got the words out of my mouth, when the sky opened up and it poured.  I won’t repeat the words that I said that time, once it started pouring down on me, because I had no umbrella.  The weatherman had said the rain was done for the daylight hours.  I turned around and trudged home, with no pep in my step because I was already soaking wet, so what was a little more rain going to do to me?  The sun appeared again, even though it was still raining, and, after I arrived home and dealt with all the wet clothes, the sun came out full strength once again.  Did all that rain really happen or did I imagine it?  The least I could have gotten was a nice rainbow for my troubles.  Well, I was not going back out again.  No sir, you fooled me once, I won’t get fooled again!  I figured I’m chasing my goal, and I’ll make it … but it will be Tuesday now to reach that goal.

However …

A week ago today I had a delightful walk at Council Point Park.  Even though it was a gray day and there was a chill in the air, all my favorite feathered and furry critters were there and I got a six-mile walk done.  I’ve written about “Marsh Madness” and the mallards from last Sunday’s trek, plus I teased you about an upcoming post about the Canada Geese whose honking ruled the skies, just before they skidded in for a landing on the surface of the Creek, scattering a mess of mallards and the cantankerous heron.  Soon those geese regrouped and, though a few of them went hither and yon, there were seven geese that traveled in a semi-neat line down the Creek.  It was a sight to behold and my photos don’t do that beautiful scene justice.

As soon as I saw these geese in the water, I was reminded of the holiday song “The Twelve Days of Christmas” and I was racking my brain trying to remember exactly what the geese were doing … it gets trickier the closer it gets to the end of the song.  So, who was a-swimmin’ and who was a’layin’?  I had to consult my most-trusty source, Google, and it was “seven swans a-swimmin’, six geese a-layin’” … well I figured those geese just wished they were swans, thus they were seven swan wannabes and I made up my own word:  “swannabes”.

I followed those swans from their point of entry in the water, all along the shoreline of the Creek, trying to get as many of them in the photo at a time.  Some geese wanted to hug the shoreline and some drifted away from their leader, plus it was a wee bit tricky because the metal chain-link fence posts at the rear of the building across the Creek, kept casting a reflection on the water … so how does on capture all seven geese within those wavy reflection lines?   Well sometimes I had to compromise and get three in one shot, four in another shot.  Those little rascals quit playing follow the leader and strayed away on their own.  A couple of the geese had a little tiff as you see from the pink tongue a’waggin’.  And one goose got very lost and away from the maddening crowd … but eventually, you’ll see that they all regrouped and then headed toward the Detroit River.

It was a stunning lineup of Canada geese … enjoy my favorite pictures from this serene setting.

[Note … the caption editor was wonky tonight – some pics came out with captions; some did not, so I retitled the pics this way.]






























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