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Tag Archives: Hiking

Why I got my feet wet in the Sipsey in January (and maybe why you shouldn’t)

I opened my Facebook and there was the invitation.  It was for a hike to a place I regard with awe and wonder.  My mind started to whirl with anticipation, questions, and a quick – “Hey babe, will you go with me on this one?”

I guess all of this group have this itch to hike and then we find others with that same itch and all sorts of fun ensues.  However, the Sipsey Wilderness is a really big and rugged place.  I had reservations about this impromptu hike and by the next morning I have a backup hike in mind in case this isn’t a safe adventure.

Lots of planning goes into hiking – for safety reasons.  There are plenty of places that I go that require very little thought at all.  Greenways are like that.  I read the map at the site and go as far as I want.  The Sipsey requires a little more than the casual reading of a trailhead sign.  In fact, trailhead signs might be rare or non existent.

Cell signal is also rare.  Which means I have to invoke the BestFriendOutdoorsmanBruce (BFOB) rule.  He is THE guy we call to let him know where to send a RESCUE.  I’m not exaggerating about this… I told him we would be done by 5 pm, sunset, and that it might take an hour to get back to him by cell.  He set an alarm to call us by 6 pm.

So, into the Sipsey we went on no trail to chase waterfalls that were running nicely after our recent rainy weather.  Besides having to refer to only a single Alltrails recording, crisscrossing the creek was the first issue we tried to remedy.  We walked, tip-toed, or threw out rocks to step on.

None of us is fond of slipping.

Mud and mushy leaves was the second issue.

Again, none of is fond of slipping.

Then my husband slid down a short hill – but was fine.  I was behind him and I tried to go down backwards with my hands on the ground.  I still slid – into what I call the superman yoga position – on my belly.

Laughing.  Always laughing.  It’s a wonder I didn’t eat some mud.

I turned to cross the creek and decided to wade into the water – boots submerged – and I just called out “I’m done fartin around, I’m getting in.”  Before you knew it everyone had damp or soaked feet.  It was glorious, fun, and childlike.  I guess at our age that’s adventurous.

So what’s the point I’m making?  You shouldn’t follow this example EXCEPT we knew we had enough smarts between us that we would all be getting out before dark.  No one was risking hypothermia by wading through the creek in January.

There is safety in numbers and there is fun to be had with these new friends of ours.  And, as always, we have BFOB to send a rescue.

~Have the adventure, make the friends, eat the bread, and drink the wine~
 

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Who am I? Who are you?

Today I’m just plugging along…finishing laundry, washing dishes, and tearing apart dismantling my stove top to clean it.  Because, well, it needed it and I hadn’t used a screwdriver in a very long time…

stove

And wouldn’t you know … I’m writing too… when my hands are dry anyway …

And I’m writing things about myself, in order to pull out the good things today instead of the negative…

Who am I?

I’m a human, a girl, a wife, a mom, a writer, an artist, a crafter and a genius.

But in this world of ours, this isn’t a competition – this is who I am and most days I’m good with that.

I’m also organized, thoughtful, and caring.

I love coffee, Oreos, and chocolate cake.

I love hiking, driving, skydiving, watching birds, watching movies and reading – yes, even the dictionary!

So, what about you???  Who are you and what do you like???

 
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Posted by on March 18, 2014 in Life, in general, Writing

 

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Vegas, Baby ; )

Red Rock Canyon

The thought began in Winter, amongst the brisk morning air here in the South – and YES, it gets very brisk!

The idea was also being dreamed about by a friend in the {dreadfully} frigid Midwest.  It was all about an excursion to some place WARM!  A chance to see each other after a very LONG 20 year gap between visits.  Our thoughts combined to form a trip to Las Vegas – where it would be warm in the Spring AND there would be friends there to visit as well!  What a winning combination …

I longed to DRAG {rescue} my frozen friend from Minnesota for a little sun, hiking, dining out, and socializing with former high school friends.

~But~

I heard the gears grinding about a week after we talked by phone about going on this nice trip …

I felt the pressure she was straining under in her words …

I knew ticket prices were about to change when I began to hear her utter the real insecurities from her mouth.

She was living in fear – and had been for YEARS

So, I ordered a ticket for one, reserved a car, made hotel reservations for just my own room, and started making plans for things to do while in sunny Las Vegas.  And just so you know – Las Vegas has more to offer outside of downtown that you could ever imagine …

I’ll tell you about that trip after I say something about fear …

{It’s a trap and it’s full of Satan’s lies ~ Plain and simple}

But fortunately there is a WAY OUT.  There is an ULTIMATE rescue and sometimes it comes from an old friend who really wants to spend time with you and somehow starts a spark that propels someone to get some help – again.  Only, this time, her help was better than ever imagined.

She struggled with social anxiety, agoraphobia occasionally, and was then diagnosed ADHD at age 45.  Professional testing, medication and counseling were involved and she felt like a new person.

I’m so glad I asked her to go to Las Vegas with me.  I was sad that she didn’t go, but God had WAY bigger plans than two chicks hiking in the wilderness sucking down bottled water and chewing on granola bars.

So, my big lesson in this was it’s ok to go it alone, and to get past the disappointment of not having a close friend accompany you.  And most IMPORTANTLY … it’s ok to come clean to your best friend and ask for help.

{It’s ok, to leave it in God’s hands and be healed}

Well, now I’ll tell you some fun things I did in Las Vegas… I have 3 former high school friends there that I was only able to see during the evening hours due to their work schedules.  But I got some advice from them on what to do out in nature during my daytime hours.

Wow, Nevada has a beauty that doesn’t come in gold, glitz or lights.  It doesn’t sing, dance or cost much money at all.  It’s called nature – as in God’s creation – and it was spectacular!

I hiked 2 days in a row at a place called Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area.  Here is one of the websites for it including a trail map:

http://www.redrockcanyonlv.org/

They have a wonderful visitor center complete with a gift shop and an outdoor educational area for adults and kids and the entrance fee to the park is nominal – It had to be less than $10 entrance fee for a place with a paved road, several parking areas and hiking trails, and quite frequently a great view of Big Horn sheep!

I also visited Valley of Fire State Park… which is probably a one hour drive from North Las Vegas.  Here is their website:

http://parks.nv.gov/parks/valley-of-fire-state-park/

I can honestly tell you, I didn’t see enough of this place.  WHEN I go back, I will leave early, and see more, more, more of this area specifically.  I only had time to see the windswept sandstone areas (called the Bee Hives) and the petroglyphs which are near the visitor center.

What I didn’t realize, was that although I was drinking plenty of water, I was somewhat “on fire” myself.  I didn’t know I was sick, and was at the doctor 3 days after arriving home with pneumonia AND the flu! 

While enjoying my stay in Las Vegas, I took 2 of my friends to a Big Daddy Weave concert, we ate at some fun places recommended by my friends and had a luxurious birthday dinner at the Wynn Hotel, based on a conversation I had while hiking with a waiter that works there.

Course, I’ve saved the best part for last… I also planned ahead and reserved an exciting tandem skydiving jump with Skydive Las Vegas.  After that, my friend drove me to see the Hoover Dam.  While skydiving, you can see Lake Mead and the Hoover Dam and it’s one of the highest jumps you can make in the U.S.  A mere 15,000 ft.  And I had the wonderful opportunity of being the last one to board the airplane …

So, when you’re the last one ON …

DCIM100GOPRO

You’re the first one OFF! 

skydive2

skydive 4

Yeah, I’d TOTALLY do it again!

No Fear

 
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Posted by on January 23, 2014 in Life, in general, Travel, Writing

 

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Five Minute Friday ~ Tree

lorax

“Yes I am the Lorax who speaks for the trees, which you seem to be chopping as fast as you please.”

I’ll admit it, I’m a tree hugger.  I love trees.

I love to stomp through a nice forest and traverse their roots.

I love the leaves in all their colors through Spring, Summer and Fall.

I love a cold, dark wintry day when the trees are black and stark and empty standing tall against a formidable sky.

I love them when they are covered in snow, moss, and fungus.

I especially love them when they shelter bugs and birds alike.

In my childhood days I spent hours climbing the trees in our yard.  I practically lived in the Maple out front and the McIntosh out back.

These days I’m happy to wander amongst them or to burn their dead wood for a campfire.

Then I relish the smell for days.

So, here’s the deal… Fridays are for fun.

Unedited writing that’s good for the soul – You are always welcome to join us…

http://lisajobaker.com/

 
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Posted by on November 15, 2013 in Five Minute Friday Flash Mob

 

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When the Landscape Changes

reddish orange maple

I swear I didn’t know it was there…

That tree in the back of the yard.

The VERY reddish-orange one.

It’s probably an odd thing to say considering that we have lived here for 9 years. But, really, I never noticed it before and it is REALLY beautiful!

This past Spring we had a large part of an old Sycamore tree taken down to keep it from falling. It was well over 60 feet tall and had already been relieved of 2 of it’s 3 trunks. It was tall, old, and wouldn’t look good toppled over the new fence or the pool.

So, because of that, an amazing thing happened …I acquired a new view of the trees that line the back of our property line.

And the view from my kitchen this Autumn is quite gorgeous … what a nice surprise while I enjoy my morning coffee!

Then it happened – a storm blew in that brought very little rain, but a WHOLE lotta WIND.

Shoot, those maples just can’t hold onto their leaves… Shame on them, why can’t they be like the mighty oaks?

How quickly the beautiful reddish-orange leaves can disappear – almost as quickly as they appeared.  Amazing how quickly the landscape can change – IF we don’t pay attention.

I love hiking and am trying to manage to go once a week because the woods are changing so fast.  That storm knocked many leaves to the ground this week and the freeze that occurred the week before?  Well, it fried more than its fare share of the tall, green plants.  So, each week, during nights and days that I wasn’t there, the woods kept changing.  That’s nature.

We, as humans, change too.  Our hopes and aspiriations and sometimes the nitty-gritty days of marriage change as well.  Especially when we aren’t paying attention and we are caught off guard by a huge storm that blows in.

Something I’ve been noticing lately is how a shift has been occurring in my marriage due to my physical issues.  These changes were forced upon me – meaning I didn’t see them coming – fought against them – succumbed to resistance in the change – then kind of threw my hands up in the air and pretty much wanted to quit.

Change happens and so does unbalance in relationships.  When this happens we need to address it and not be blind to it.

It’s time to address the shift of balance in my marriage.

~I’m no longer capable of some responsibilities~

~I need to rely on my husband to carry some extra burdens~

~I need to be thankful that he loves me and is so willing to accept the shift of control~

I hiked with a backpack yesterday and understood if I don’t shift the weight, change up the distribution, or tighten up the straps, I wasn’t going to make the whole trail.  It would hurt my neck and back worse if I didn’t work with the balance issue …

I WANT to:

ACCEPT my limits

ACT upon that knowledge and shift the weight

KEEP going down the trail

But first – I had to TRY…

{some days that’s the biggest challenge}

Shutting off the “What if” in my brain and try to see “What’s possible.”  Like … Laundry, Dishes, Writing, Hiking and occasionally remembering to defrost something for dinner!  (Energy to actually COOK it is a whole other deal)

Then, go to bed, wake up, and repeat.

I go to sleep thankful for my husband’s help and especially when he holds me at the end of the day and tells me “It’s going to be ok, we’ll get through all this.”

~Together~

~Performing the balancing act~

That is what gives me the chance to *sigh* at the end of the day.  I love this man so much.

~To have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part~

 
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Posted by on November 11, 2013 in Life, in general

 

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The Hike Full of Messages

prickly pear

It was the middle of June.  It was really hot.  I was bursting with frustration.

I knew I needed to stomp out some of those frustrations on the trail, but I never knew that day how much God was going to show up.  It felt like He wanted to shout to me from the hillsides, and boy, I heard Him loud and clear.  I mean, I felt like He was yelling in both my ears…not in anger but just clearly so I would know exactly what I needed to hear.

I was starting to wonder if the rocks were going to start to “cry out” so I listened.  Carefully, intently, and I stopped to take pictures and notes of what He was showing me.  I stopped and sat down occasionally and wrote the messages out.

Truthfully, if I hadn’t feared embarrassment (or feared being mistaken for a person suffering dehydration) I would have shouted back… “Slow down God, you’re talking too fast!”  “I need for you to give me a chance to write some notes AND drink my water!”

On this particular day of hiking I was looking over at the dry creek bed in my favorite canyon in Tucson and the dusty path that leads to the water’s edge.  I realized that the dry season was almost over.  Everything in the desert was withering, dying, and disintegrating.  It was waiting for the refreshment of the monsoon weather or it would soon die of thirst.

The late afternoons would soon bring in the rush of the wind, the huge and short-lived downpours, and the sudden filling of the dry washes with unexpected torrents of water.

When these monsoons happen…everything will grab at the thirst-quenching rain in order to survive to the next rainstorm – and further on to the next – until the desert heat finally subsides, rain comes more frequently and the plants resume their healthy appearance.  From the looks of some of those cactus that day… I’m pretty sure some wouldn’t make it.

cholla

The first few monsoons are usually spaced far apart – sometimes a week or two go by with the return of the extreme heat and the cloudless skies until another abrupt storm culminates over one of Tucson’s local mountain areas and let’s out a good downpour.  Everyone pretty much agrees – those downpours lift their spirits.  The best part is that the desert begins to emit a sweet perfume like none other.

God’s point for me was this… I was dry, withering, and was close to disintegrating in my walk of faith with Him.

God was showing me this as I walked and as I carefully examined the cholla and prickly pear that appeared gaunt and hollow.  They needed a refill and so did I.

I needed a refill of the Holy Spirit.  We all need this occasionally.  Part of that is our responsibility by reading scripture, praying, and seeking His will in our life.  But, sometimes we just get discouraged, lazy, or complacent.  It’s then that we begin to wander … yes, wander right into the desert.

But who knew that wandering into the desert would result in the promise of a refilling of the Holy Spirit?

Here’s the thing…

I am clearly, and somewhat impatiently, waiting for the monsoon to blow in.

To quench my thirst,

To fill me up,

So I can thrive,

Not just exist,

but really thrive.

Then, today, a drop fell… then a few more…

Someone shared a devotion and when I heard the message I knew there was more refreshment to come.

How appropriate that the devotion came from a book titled Streams in the Desert.

How appropriate that the message was about how God uses brokenness.  There isn’t much in me right now that doesn’t feel broken.

The hope was in this:  brokenness is useful to God and I daresay it is essential to being filled by the Holy Spirit.

Part of the poem in today’s devotion says:

“Love would I offer unto Love’s great Master,

Set free the fragrance, break the alabaster”

Withering and broken people, when drenched and filled by the Holy Spirit, then have the opportunity to become a beautiful fragrance.

Tomorrow, I hear, it’s supposed to rain.  I can’t wait!

 
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Posted by on October 15, 2013 in Life, in general

 

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Five Minute Friday – Rhythm

sabino roadcropped

My pace is even and the road is flat but steadily climbs uphill.  I trod along to the rhythm of my music.  My playlist contains upbeat songs that I use for cleaning, but also for hiking.

The sun is strong here in the beginning, but soon the high canyon walls will provide the shade I need to make it at least 6 miles.

I’m clearing the cobwebs from my brain by using the rhythm of something natural – my walk through the canyon.

My head feels clear and before I know it, God is speaking loudly through my surroundings.  I’m not sure why He chose to kick up the volume on this particular day, but I am hearing Him loud and clear.

I pause to guzzle my water, I type notes in my iPod, I walk on, then God speaks again and again.  Through the steady rhythm of my activity He accompanies me with His very own rhythm and His presence – pointing out more analogies than I can fathom or type out.

I use my camera to capture what seems to be the silliest things in my view finder.

I want to absorb each lesson He shows me here in the desert today.  He always knows where I am, but today He chose to match me step for step as I walked.  He knew I was ready for the big download of info He had for me.  

Be strong and courageous.

Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged,

for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.

Joshua 1:9 NIV

*Curious about Five Minute Friday?  It’s like a Flashmob for writers.*

A bunch of us, with a one-word prompt, write fearlessly for FIVE minutes and link up together. Join us!

http://lisajobaker.com/

 

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Arizona, or Another Trip Down Memory Lane

UNION1-615x287

The Union Public House

www.uniontucson.com

Going home to Pennsylvania is becoming a regular occurrence.  Arizona, on the other hand … now that’s a different story.

I spent 4 1/2 years living in the desert as a teenager – and graduated from high school there – before moving to North Carolina.  It’s been almost three decades since I moved, but I still have friends there.  And that means I needed a visit… so a little belated birthday trip to the Sonoran desert was an excellent plan for this year’s celebration.  A little sun, some hiking, some springtime desert blooms to admire, and at least one really good sunset.

And it was – {A really great sunset}

sunset3

Dinner out on Friday was a planned event.  Just ask Facebook.  In fact, it was so well planned that we accidentally had two postings for it.  Oops.  We all arrived separately, and not all on time… which meant we’d be waiting a while for our table, but it was a good way to start the dinner.  Warming up with conversation.

To begin with, there were four of us seated on a brown leather couch that was literally 12 feet long – we only took up the end and a small table.  We were waiting to be seated when someone started in on “Who was your first kiss?”  Or was it “Do you even KNOW who my first kiss was?”  Some drinks were delivered and an appetizer had arrived … and I knew – this was going to be an interesting evening.

Two more joined us and then the six of us were finally seated at our table on the patio.  Twenty-nine years had passed since I had seen most of them, and everyone was taking their turn telling their stories. The stories were varied – ranging from girly and giggly, shocking or sad.  Ups, downs, diseases, cures, surviving, and unfortunately…deaths of classmates.  Oh, yes, and that whole “who was your first kiss” thing came up again, complete with data phones, Facebook friend’s lists and trying to track down the “guy.”  I know who it is now, but my lips are sealed!

It started with the Swedish American, formerly a Ford’s model, who talked at great length about some very interesting life experiences.  She was a tag-a-long friend of one of my classmates.  Even the story of how the two of them met was great.  She was hilarious and interesting and I believe somewhat tipsy.

Without using any names, I’ll call one by her choice of entrée… she was “Miss chicken and waffles.”  She made me feel right at home and I think she had me laughing the hardest… A few years ago I found out that some of her family lived nearby in rural Alabama … which of course, just makes the world a little smaller … and “Miss chicken and waffles”  – well, let’s just say, I loved sitting next to her … she has the most beautiful soul.

The gathering was missing a few who promised to come, but I think it turned out perfect the way it was.  Sometimes just 5 or 6 make an excellent party… there’s more time to talk, share, and truly get to know people.  The infamous story of how two of us set the lab desks on fire with the alcohol burners in Physical Science class was told, and the laughter and fun was shared easily around this table.  Looking around, it almost seemed like a table of strangers…some of us barely knew each other.  But, common ground of the years spent in high school never leave you.  Maybe we just had one class together, but it didn’t matter at all.  We were there together that night, 29 years later … laughing, sharing, comforting and building on what we started all those years ago…

I find it appropriate that our school motto – Más Allá – translates into “Go Beyond.”  I think we accomplished that, by continuing beyond the campus of Canyon Del Oro High School as friends, nearly three decades later.

 
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Posted by on April 30, 2013 in Life, in general

 

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Five Minute Friday – Jump

sunset

Going…

sunset3

Going…

sunset4

Gone

*sigh*

Well, let’s just jump right into this week’s Five Minute Friday by saying… I’m at my desk writing already this morning and my fingers can’t keep up with my thoughts.

I was just visiting Arizona and came home and had to jump back in where life left off.  Laundry hampers full, fridge sort of half full, pantry in decent shape, and WHEW, am I tired!

Plugging along at the everyday work here at the house kept me from taking a 3 day nap – because I was exhausted from travel and hiking and talking and watching sunsets and walking at high altitude on Mt. Lemmon and eating.  {Boy, I had the best piece of pie at a restaurant up there}

But I’m done jumping around here trying to catch up, and it’s time to download all that has happened in that 5 day trip.  I finally have a clear schedule, and maybe a clear mind to type and reflect.  And I’m excited.

 Although… I’m wanting one more day … to bask in the sun, amongst the blooming desert, hiking Sabino Canyon, and laughing with old friends …

And another day living without the laundry, the threat of severe weather, or those pesky allergies …

Reality, then vacation, then reality …

Memories…into words…words on to paper…etched forever…

Jump up for more coffee and a shower and some food and more writing that needs to be done today!

Have an excellent Friday everyone!

*******

Curious about Five Minute Friday?  It’s like a Flashmob for writers.

A bunch of us, with a one-word prompt, write fearlessly for FIVE minutes and link up together. Join us!

http://lisajobaker.com/

 

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The Woods, the Hike and the Writer

writing rock

Hiking in the woods.

It’s something I do.

It’s something I love.

It might be hard-wired into my DNA because walking in the woods, or just being outside, has always been a constant in my life as both a child and as an adult.  It’s kind of like food – my body needs it or I get weak without it.

Recently, I had a great day hiking – well, truthfully, I’ve never had a bad day hiking – but a few weeks ago I had to force myself to get out and go to our local mountain so it was GOOD that I did it.

I chose a path that I’ve used many times, so I could just think and breathe and relax and not have to worry about the color of the paint markers on the trees.  Heaven knows I was not in the mood for a barely blazed trail with only its plastic flags, and a leaf-covered and barely-trodden path.  I really needed a no-brainer day to clear my cluttered mind because it was in chaos.

I had my ipod along for some music – that day the mood was James Taylor, Carole King, and some Carly Simon.  I knew when I got down the path to my favorite area, there would be a rock edge to sit on and time to write down some thoughts – and that’s what I was really in the mood for that day.  Sitting on a rock and writing.

The wind blew cold and pretty strong, but thankfully the sun was out because I was in need of its rays.  I was bundled up, with a scarf and gloves and I looked in the back of the truck and realized I left my rugged hiking boots at home.  No big deal –  I knew the path was well-worn and pretty smooth in most places – so I used the hiking shoes.  It wasn’t like I was going to turn around and go home, ya know?

By the time I got to the bluff I couldn’t write down fast enough all the things I noticed on my way in.

1st – Someone closed the bathrooms … Re-direct to a different parking area

2nd – I had to trek along the blue trail to get to my white trail

3rd – This meant, I would be going the opposite direction on the white trail

4th – Hey, wow, the paint on this side of the trees is REALLY bright

5th – Hey, it gets really muddy up here in spots!

6th – How about those secondary paths around the mud?  That’s convenient!

Re-directed, over and over…that’s what the day felt like.  Even when I had started the drive, I was reminded that I would have to take a kid to the University in order to use the car.  And at the base of the mountain, I realized I forgot to drop by the church to leave some papers there.

It was just one of those days …

Redirection is like change.  It can be irritating, or it can make you notice aspects of the trail that you would normally tune out.  It can make you more aware of what you normally do not see.

This day of hiking and re-direction was not lost on me.  I spend too much time lost in the everyday stuff which can get mundane.  It causes me to lose focus or my ability to notice wonderful things.

Two days later I was enjoying a really warm day that stood in stark contrast to the day I went hiking.  It finally reached 70 degrees.  I was again, very aware of what I normally do not see… It’s been a long winter!  I welcomed the warmth!

 
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Posted by on April 2, 2013 in Life, in general

 

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