Knitting by Judy @ 10:39 AM

Friday night. For many people the work-week is over and it’s time for a bit of amusement — maybe a movie or dinner with a friend or a date. Or a bit of knitting in front of the TV. Me? I take my car apart.

OK. Not the whole car. Just a bit of it.

I drive a 2005 Prius. And I love my car. Love it. It’s my favorite car ever. I love the way that I can run practically the whole car from my cozy-covered steering wheel. There’s just one thing it doesn’t have: an iPod dock (those were added in the next model year). When I bought my car, I didn’t have an iPod so I didn’t really care. Then I got an iPod, and thus began the search for some way to listen to it in the car. I finally settled on an FM transmitter. It worked pretty well, but had disadvantages. I could only use the iPod controls to change songs, etc., which is probably not all that safe when going 70 mph down the freeway. And, if the station faded, so did the iPod. After spending 20 minutes sitting in a rest area trying to find a station that would work, I decided that maybe I should look for another method.

this is how it looked before
this is how it looked before

The problem, of course, is finding an after-market solution that works with the stereo, doesn’t mess up the gps navigation, and allows the steering wheel controls to change songs, etc. For some cars, there are tons of after-market products that do this. For the Prius, there are only a few. My choice arrived this week. So when Friday night arrived, I gathered up the necessary tools and set to work.

Estimated time to install: The guide said about 30 minutes, so I figured one hour would be sufficient. I’d read through the instructions and it didn’t look that tough.

Tools needed: Long Phillips screwdriver, regular screwdriver, mirror, iPod doohickey and all its cables and parts, iPod.

Step 1: Remove glove box and set aside. Mama always warned me about directions that start out like this. But really, it turned out to be pretty easy.

Step 2: Using fabric-covered screwdriver, gently pry top of vent cover away from dashboard to unclip, then remove vent cover. Again, not so bad. I was on a roll.

the bane of my existence
the bane of my existence

Step 3: Using long Phillips screwdriver, unscrew the bolt at the top of the scary-looking white box covered with scary-looking wires. (The blue arrow is pointing at the location of the bolt.) Be careful not to mess up any of those wires, or lose the bolt, or any other bad thing. Unscrew bolt. U.n.s.c.r.e.w bolt.

Step 4: Admit that the standard-length Phillips screwdriver I had was just not long enough to get the proper amount of leverage on a bolt that must have been tightened using force approaching that to be found at the center of the earth. Remember that the Phillips who gave his name to this style of screwdriver was actually a resident of Portland and ponder that little bit of synchronicity while searching through tools, finding only standard screwdrivers that are longer than the original Phillips. Curse.

Step 5: Search for tool kit containing socket wrench, not finding it. Vaguely remember that I gave said tool kit to #1 Son, and he took it when he moved out. Curse.

Step 6: Replace vent cover, pressing firmly to engage clips. Replace glove box.

Step 7: Drive to big-box home improvement and hardware store. Purchase smallest possible socket wrench set containing several sizes of sockets and extenders, just in case (on sale! and yes I will use it for other things). Return home.

Step 8: Remove glove box and set aside. Remove vent cover and set aside. Using 10mm socket wrench with 6″ extender, remove bolt at the top of the scary-looking white box with the scary-looking wires. Put the bolt safely in a cup holder. Slide the white box gently to the side, out of the way.

the object of my desire
the object of my desire

Step 9: Find the empty port on the back of the stereo where the adapter for the iPod doohickey will be plugged in. It’s circled in the picture. And, yes, the mirror I’m holding is on the handle of a hairbrush. It’s the only one I had that was the right length and that I could get at the right angle. Note that it’s a tight squeeze to that port.

Step 10: While holding the end of the iPod doohickey plug between two fingers, squeeze right hand through vent opening and attempt to plug the wire into the port. Stretch a little further. Squeeze a little tighter. Twist and turn that plug to get it at the right angle. Reach!

Step 11: Realize that the sharp pain in the side of my thumb is probably not something I should ignore because the edge of the stereo enclosure has apparently cut my thumb and reaching further will cut it again. Withdraw right hand. Wrap kleenex around thumb. Curse.

Step 12: While holding the end of the plug, squeeze left hand through vent opening and reach for the cursed port. Feel the plug go in the port. Rejoice!

Step 13: Remove hand. Watch plug fall out. Curse.

Step 14: Repeat step 12, but this time ram that puppy home like there’s no tomorrow.

it works!
it works!

Step 15: Carefully move the scary-looking white box back into position, but don’t bolt it down yet.

Step 16: Plug the iPod doohickey cable into the other end of the adapter now attached to the stereo, and run the cable out the side of the vent cover, over where the glove box should be.

Step 17: Connect the iPod cable to the iPod doohickey and plug in the iPod.

Step 18: Cross fingers and toes.

Step 19: Turn the car’s auxiliary power on. The iPod will appear in the device list as MD Changer. Navigate to the iPod and test the functions. Some simple programming may be required.

Step 20: Follow the instructions for the simple programming, which turned out to be actually simple. Watch the iPod and it’s playlists show up on the nav screen. I swear that this song came up totally randomly, but it was pretty fitting I think. (For anyone who wonders, that’s Harry Nilsson.)

Step 21: Play with controls to make sure everything works. Rejoice.

put that puppy to bed
put that puppy to bed

Step 22: Turn off car.

Step 23: Move scary-looking white box covered with scary-looking wires back into place.

Step 24: Using 10mm socket wrench with 6″ extender (I can be taught), replace bolt, being careful not to drop it or tighten it too tightly (not too much fear of that).

Step 25: Carefully replace vent cover, pressing firmly to engage clips but being careful not to squeeze or bend cable. Put the iPod doohickey inside the glove box and then carefully replace glove box, being careful not to bend or squeeze cables, etc.

Step 26: Fasten the iPod doohickey securely inside the glove box. Coil cables and store neatly. Close glove box. (I would show you an after picture, but it looks just like the before picture.)

Step 27: Cross fingers and toes. Turn on car’s auxiliary power and make sure everything still works. Breath a sigh of relief.

Step 28: Put tools away.

Step 29: Enter house, telling surprised cats I rock!

Step 30: Add ice to martini shaker. Apply vodka and vermouth. Shake. Pour. Drink.

Total elapsed time start to finish, including trip to big-box store but excluding 2nd martini: 4 hours.

Being able to run my iPod from the steering wheel while it’s safely tucked away in the glove box: priceless.

Knitting by Judy @ 9:47 AM

tree planting
tree planting

Yesterday morning a tree was planted in my Father-In-Law’s memory by the 10th Mountain Division Association. I managed to snap a picture with my cell phone of my Mother-In-Law wielding a shovel before I picked up my own shovel and started planting. (sorry for the craptacular photo. My cell phone has a horrible camera. Even with much Photoshop tweaking, this is the best I could get it.)

Barney loved to ski and loved quaking aspens. I share the latter fondness. Aspens have been one of my favorite trees since I was a little girl. They would turn such gorgeous colors in the hills during the autumn. And I just love their rustle and the dance of their leaves in the breeze. But I digress…

Ordinarily one tree is planted for each of the honorees. But there were two aspens for Barney — a larger one, and a tiny little one-foot baby. (You can just make out the baby in the lower left of the picture.) Barney, we were told, loved to ski in Colorado way back when. There were many aspen trees, and he had to ski between them, which he thought was lots of fun. So the two little trees were planted side by side. So Barney can ski between them.

It was a lovely ceremony on a beautiful, perfect fall day — the kind of day we’re supposed to have here in October.

happy iPod sock recipient
happy iPod sock recipient

And, lest you think I’ve been idle on the knitting front while PI did the yoyo server thing, I have actually been knitting up a virtual little storm.

OK… a small storm.

A colleague at work saw my little iPod Nano sock and wanted one. I had a couple of long teleconferences on Thursday. Voila: iPod sock and happy recipient.

I used the Claudia Handpainted Sport Short in Boot Camp that was part of the goody bag at the Floating Knitting Retreat. That was wonderful yarn to knit with — soft and smooshy and great color. The requestee had asked for something that went with black, and camo fits the bill fairly well, I think. It’s a stealth Nano!

I’ve also been frantically knitting away on the second Babies & Bears sweater, which pretty much needs to be finished… today. Eek! 😯

Must keep knitting, must keep knitting…

Knitting |Techie Talk by Judy @ 8:29 AM

new toy
new toy

I hate being sick. I take it very personally. And this is that icky thing going around that has settled in my chest and just doesn’t want to let go. I just keep thinking that if I could actually breath it would be so much easier to get better, eh?

I have to confess, here, that I’m probably the last person on the entire planet to own an MP3 player. I just never saw the advantage of having one. That is until last week at the Floating Knitting Retreat where Cat had one of the new iPod Nanos. It was so tiny and cute. And she had knitting videos on it. I must have one of those, I said. A green one.

Now that’s a use I can understand!

Then I remembered that I had a couple of gift cards to Costco, and I hadn’t decided yet how I was going to spend them.


I’m sure you know what happened when I got back. I dithered for a couple of days, then… I caved in to the inevitable.

Isn’t it cute? And, look! There on the screen! That’s Lucy Neatby talking about lace. And I can store all of the podcasts I listen to in it as well. And listen to knitting podcasts in the car.

I’m hooked. Now I wonder how I even lived without this before.

I noticed on the Apple website that you can buy little socks to keep your Nano in. We don’t need to buy no stinkin’ socks! I exclaimed (or words to that effect). I whipped out my trusty Addi Lace needles and whipped up a little iPod sock from some of the Jaegger Trinity left over from Rowan Margaret’s Silken Slippers. My little Nano is very happy cradled in silk and cotton — and an added plus is that the sock stretches enough to also accommodate the earphones. Eventually I want to make a felted cozy for it using the double-knitting techniques I learned last week from Lucy. But for now the sock works very well.

The Particulars:

  • Yarn: Jaeger Trinity (40% silk, 35% cotton, 25% polyamide / 50g, 200m per skein) in colorway 431 (Sage)
  • Needles: one pair 24″ Addi Lace, US#2
  • Pattern: none. Made up as I went along. Started with Judy’s Magic Cast-On along the bottom, and knit straight in 1×1 ribbing until it was long enough.

Food |Knitting |On The Road by Judy @ 2:46 AM

our off-shore meeting “room”
our off-shore meeting “room”

The gallery with the pictures should be working now. I’m guessing that those of you who couldn’t open it are using IE? For some reason Firefox wasn’t affected by my spelling error. Oops.

Anyway, here’s the tale of what I did last week, jaunting around the San Juan Islands with a bunch of crazy knitters.

I picked up my roommate, Tricia, along the way to Friday Harbor. Miracle of miracles — I was only about 10 minutes later than we had arranged, although I couldn’t seem to actually get on the road when I had planned. Traffic was light on Sunday. We planned to catch the 2:40 ferry from Anacortes to Friday Harbor, and we made it in plenty of time. At the ferry terminal, we ate sandwiches and chatted with a few other knitters while we waited. On board the ferry, we met other knitters. Hmmmm… there seemed to be quite a few of us all heading in the same general direction!

At the hotel, we were met by Cat and Lucy. Cat had little goody bags for us with Treking XXL, Frog Tree Alpaca sportweight (mine is blue), two colors of Claudia Handpainted, a sample of Crystal Palace Maizy, notecards, and a cool little folding ruler that folds in 1-inch increments; and an envelope with our itinerary; and a sign-up sheet for the ferry shuttles in the morning. I signed up for the early shuttle every morning because that would be easy to remember. But Cat insisted that as soon as I got to my room I should also write it on my itinerary to make sure that I didn’t forget, because time, tide and the inter-island ferry waits for no knitter. She was really insistent. So insistent, that I actually did write it on the itinerary when I got to our room — which was a pleasant suite with two bedrooms, two baths, a small living room with a faux wood stove (gas) and a kitchen.

Tricia and I ate at the hotel. The restaurant was pricey, but the food was very good. We both had salmon with a hazelnut pesto and mixed veggies that were excellent. The waiter was nice eye candy, but inattentive.

The hotel also offered free breakfast. By the time we left I had finally sort of figured out the waffle maker. Sort of. We shared the breakfast room with a bevy of construction workers who were working on one or the other of various projects that are springing up all over the area. And knitters, of course. There were knitters everywhere.

You will be pleased to know that I made the ferry shuttle every single day except the last. The last day nobody made the ferry shuttle because the shuttle broke down. A person had to be flown in from the mainland with the parts. But if the shuttle had been running, I would have been there on time. Everybody made it on the ferry on time all three days — I’m sure due to the sheer power of Cat’s willing us on board. 😉

Island Wools
Island Wools

The first day started a little later, to give us all time to recover from our journey the day before. The inter-island ferry is an absolutely charming mode of transport. It’s a smallish ferry, and obviously well loved. Many of the tables hold half-worked jigsaw puzzles brought on board by commuters who work them during their regular journey. We took over one end of the ferry, which included a large area with seats on the sides that was perfect for a class, with tables available for overflow. You can see one of the puzzles in the first picture on the table to the far left. The table on the right was usually laden with goodies, lest we become faint from hunger and no longer able to wield needles and yarn. The first day, lunch was catered and included one of the best chicken salads I’ve ever had. And Cat brought home-made cookies that were just awesome and I think helped more than one knitter make it through the throes of unfamiliar knitting techniques.

Lucy taught on day 1. Lucy is nutty and fun and I learned a ton from her about double knitting and other techniques. As I said before, I’m planning on a pair of socks with little pockets. I love the pocket for a Nano idea. Of course I still need to get a Nano. But I see one in my future.

Pocket for a camera card is another good idea, though. In all of the vacations I’ve taken my camera on, I don’t think I’ve ever either recharged it or had to swap batteries, although I always carry one. And I can snap a lot of pictures before I need to swap cards. I don’t think I’ve every had to do that, either. I really do like my camera.

We floated around and double-knit until the ferry made its rounds a couple of times and arrived back at Friday Harbor in time for dinner. We ate in town at a fish-n-chips place that I would not recommend. It was the only food in the whole trip that I could truly say was fairly horrible.

After dinner, we all shopped at Island Wools, a charming little shop with tons of yarn – several of which I haven’t seen down here much. I showed admirable restraint by limiting myself to just a couple of skeins of Maizy (sock yarn from corn — whodda thunk it?) in Miami Nice (great name). Tricia and I went back on the afternoon of the third day, and I realized that there were a few other little things I needed, like one of the Lantern Moon black sheep measuring tapes.

Orcas Island and the Orcas Hotel
Orcas Island and the Orcas Hotel

Day two was the long day. We caught the early ferry for a day of sock knitting with Cat. I started a pair of baby booties, and worked a little bit on the Coriolis socks. You can see the booties in the last picture. Cat is a fun teacher. She tells stories that really help one remember the techniques. I think I finally get why dividing the rpi into the number of stitches around the instep gives the length of the foot after the instep. I think. Just don’t ask me to explain it.

At Orcas Island we gathered up our belongings and disembarked for a wonderful lunch at the Orcas Hotel. We took over one whole dining room, and the Hotel served a wonderful sandwich and soup buffet.

I realize that this is starting to degenerated into a foodie description. But, really, this was what it was like: knit and eat and knit some more and have a little snack and knit and time for a meal and knit. Really.

I continued to work on the baby booties as we floated around Puget Sound on our little ferry. The ferry only made four stops: Friday Harbor, Orcas Island, Shaw Island and Lopez Island. We saw each multiple times, but never walked off at Shaw or Lopez. They look like nice islands, though. Perhaps another time I can visit them as well.

The baby booties are double-layered, but not double-knit. (hmmm… it occurs to me now that it might have been fun to try that!) I used Seasilk left over from LT’s moebius for the inner sock, and some Jaeger Trinity picked up at Island Wools for the outer sock. The Trinity has very little give in it and is very grabby. Knitting it on wooden needles was not as easy as I had hoped. My gauge was also a little wonky. But here’s hoping for a baby with rather large feet. 🙄

After some discussion about where to head for dinner, Tricia, myself and several others just ended up at the hotel. I had soup (very good) and salad (mostly cheese). We turned in early. Knitting is hard work.

blooming tea
blooming tea

The final day was a short knitting day. Cat explored moebius knitting with those who were interested. The rest of us kept knitting socks. Lunch was catered on board — chicken salad wraps. It was yummy. And there were Cat’s cookies to snack on, lest we become faint, etc.

We arrived back at Friday Harbor early in the afternoon. Tricia and I did a little shopping at Island Wools, where we were given directions to the best beach on the island.

Then we walked down the block to a gourmet kitchen shop — sorry but I don’t remember the name of it — where I did a bit of damage to my wallet. Oh, there was a lot of wonderful things there! I found a fig-hazelnut butter. And chalk licorice – a treat we had enjoyed on board – think Good & Plenty for adults. And they had some blooming tea, so I was able to procure some after having seen it on Bobbie’s blog and thinking I just had to have some. It’s so pretty. One of the knitters told a wonderful story about the beauty of blooming tea and some hard-bitten ranch hands that I will not attempt to repeat because I’m sure I would not be able to do it justice. I am enjoying mine a great deal. I’m so glad that I had a clear tea pot for it to bloom in. I’m not sure what the mermaid on my trivet thinks of having a very hot teapot balance on some tender portions of her anatomy. She looks a little surprised. But hopefully she is enjoying the beauty.

After buying out the gourmet shop, we drove all the way around San Juan island. Our first stop was at American Camp. As well as relating some of the history of the area and the best place to see, the ranger told us the scenic route to Roche Harbor — dirt roads, but good dirt roads. And it was a beautiful drive from there up to Lime Kiln Point. We visited the lighthouse there and stretched our legs.

Wescott Bay Sculpture Park
Wescott Bay Sculture Park

From Lime Kiln Point, we drove up to Roche Harbor. We passed the alpaca farm, but since it was after 5:00 we didn’t stop, figuring that they were probably closed. I think we figured wrong, unfortunately, But we did enjoy looking at what’s left of the lime factory in Roche Harbor and at the old buildings. And the new condos and retail buildings that are springing up everywhere.

On the way back we stopped at the Wescott Bay Sculpture Park. It’s several acres of sculptures — over 100, I think. They are just scattered around in the field, in amongst waist-high grass and weeds. There are paths mowed through the field, though, so it’s possible to walk around and look at the art. I was particularly struck by the object in the picture above. I believe it’s called Feathered Phoenix, but I could be mistaken. All of those gears and arms and such move in the wind so that it’s constantly in motion and revolving and changing. I took a little movie of it also, because the thing was just fascinating. There were many other lovely sculptures, too. We didn’t get around the whole field because it started to rain, so we packed it in.

On the way back to town, we saw Mona the camel.

Dinner was at a very nice restaurant right next to the ferry terminal, where we all met as a group. We were joined by Cat’s daughter, Jenny, and grandson, Charlie. Cat was very much the proud mother and doting grandma — as she should be because Jenny is a lovely young woman and Charlie is a cute as a button.

The next morning Tricia and I were up extra early and got in line for the ferry back to Anacortes just in time to make it on. We stopped at Wild Fibers in Mt. Vernon on the way home, and I scored some very nice sock yarn that I will tell you about at another time.

And now you are up to date. Since arriving home, as well as fighting technology I have finished the baby booties I started on the ferry. I’m fairly pleased with the results. Hopefully the intended recipient will be as well.

Rowan Margaret’s Silken Slippers
Rowan Margaret’s Silken Slippers

The Particulars:

  • Yarn:
    • Inner slippers: Sea Silk (70% silk, 30% Sea Cell / 100g, 400m per skein) in colorway Rose Garden a tiny bit of a skein left over from another project.
    • Outer slippers: Jaeger Trinity (40% silk, 35% cotton, 25% polyamide / 50g, 200m per skein) in colorway 431 (Sage)
  • Needles: one pair 24″ Addi Lace, US#2 (inner); one pair 16″ Clover Bamboo, US#3 (outer)
  • Pattern: Rowan Margaret’s Silken Slippers from New Pathways for Sock Knitters: Book One by Cat Bordhi
  • Modification to pattern: None. I actually followed the pattern as written. My gauge is a little different than Cat’s, though, and my slippers turned out bigger.

Knitting |On The Road |Techie Talk by Judy @ 2:27 PM

So… Is Mercury retrograde or something? I tell you, gentle reader, I have not had a happy couple of weeks in the techie arena.

fun-house hallway
fun-house hallway

The hotel that most of the Floating Knitting Retreat participants stayed at promised free internet access with computers available and everything. The picture shows the hallway at the hotel. Looks like a fun house or house of mirrors, doesn’t it? One could actually walk down the hallway in a straight line, but it took a bit of mental effort because turning left and right and left and right just seemed natural. I didn’t dare have a couple of drinks and then brave the hallway. I can’t imagine what that would be like.

But I digress.

Computers were available. The interweb, alas, rarely was. Twice during my 5-day/4-night stay I was actually able to see that I had email, and who the email was from. I was never allowed to actually read my email, or respond to it. The rest of the time, IE refused to respond, leaving the hotel guests frustrated. Rebooting didn’t help. Talking to the computer didn’t help. Yelling at the computer didn’t help. I had a serious email jones going by the time I arrived home on Thursday afternoon. I nearly ran to my (lovely, new, working) computer and booted up. All was fine until I tried to read my email. No internet connection.

This can’t be happening, I thought. I tried everything I could think of. No internet. But wait! I have another working computer! Swiftly I booted up #1 Son’s computer. No internet. 😥

I decided that I just might, maybe, require a tiny bit of geeky assistance. So I called my DSL provider and talked to a very nice woman in India who, fortunately, spoke excellent English and was able, over the span of a 30 minutes or so, to test my line, verifying that the modem that has served me well for many years was, actually, as dead as Marley’s doornail. These things happen. They would be able to send me a new one in a week or so, she told me. ACK! 😯 There followed a philosophical discussion in which we covered the meaning of the terms will not support and will not work when applied to modems, and how those terms really don’t mean the same thing. Because I was not going to wait for another week for internet access. You don’t understand, I told her. I can’t read my email. Nice people think I’m ignoring them. I can’t write about anything. My readership will be down to people who come here via mistaken searches for strange terms unrelated to knitting. A week is not acceptable. She replied, in perfect British-accented English, words to the effect of You’re on your own. Have a nice day.

I threw my coat on. I was sure that the local computers-r-us-type store was still open. They were. And, lo and behold, there was a big display of modem/router combo boxes with my DSL provider’s branding. I snatched one up and ran home and plugged everything in and set up the security. When I tried to browse to any site, I was redirected to a page that told me to reactivate my account. Although I could actually (miracles never cease) remember my password, it would not reactivate. I got #1 Son’s computer connecting wirelessly to the router. It would not activate either.

Cat & Lucy on the ferry.  How cool is that?
Cat & Lucy on the inter-island ferry.
How cool is that?

Figuring that it was their brand and so they couldn’t just leave me hanging, I called tech support again. This time I spoke to a very nice young man in India who spoke perfect, British accented English, who told me his name was Harry, which I am sure it was not. Never fear, Ms Becker, Harry said. I can help you with that. And he did! It was click here and check this box and a little reboot. And I have email! And I have the internet! And I can write and read and browse and catch up! And my connection is fast! Fast and stable! And, no, I don’t think these are too many exclamation marks! ❗ ❗ ❗ I will mark your problem solved now, Ms Becker. Sorry you had to call us twice.

Ahh……. [vast relief]

But you did not come here to read about my techie woes. (Is Mercury going the right direction again?)

The last few days were full of Cat Bordhi and her amazing sockitecture, Lucy Neatby and double knitting coolness, beautiful scenery, wonderful knitters, and the neatest little ferry you’ve ever seen.

Look! In the picture! That is Cat introducing Lucy, who taught us wonderful things about double knitting, like how to double-knit a completely invisible pocket. And a cool new way of doing a standard bind-off in one motion. Lucy is nutty and wonderful and I’m sure has forgotten more about knitting than I will ever know. I plan to eventually order every single one of her DVD’s. In Lucy’s hands, even simple things like, well, binding off, become new territory to explore. And double knitting is magical and exciting. And all of Lucy’s stitches are happy ones.

we got used to this kind of scenery very quickly
we got used to this kind of scenery

I’m already planning a pair of socks with little double-knit pockets. I don’t know what I will do with them, but won’t they be cool?

Cat carried around a little iPod Nano with chapters from Lucy’s DVDs loaded, and she let me play with it a little bit. Now that is a use for an iPod that I can really understand! I think I’m going to have to get one. A green one. And I can watch knitting videos on it.

But I’m telling you things all sort of out of order, aren’t I? And already this is a long post.

Tomorrow I will post a blow-by-blow of the whole retreat sans techie side trips. For now, I do have some of my pictures sorted and in a gallery. The people-pictures (as Mama used to call them) are in the front, and the scenery pictures are towards the back.

I had a wonderful time and met many wonderful people and enjoyed myself enormously. And I’m glad to be home. And have everything working.

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      (John Muir)
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