Monday, March 23, 2015

The other camera


After a lot of consideration, I joined Instagram in January. I wasn't sure what to expect; I'm sort of apprehensive about most social media, having waved the white flag at Facebook almost two years ago. Frankly, it made me feel unhappy. I began to dread logging in, so one day I just stopped. Maybe a draconian approach, but I felt better immediately and I haven't looked back. In recent months, I'd entertained the idea of tiptoeing back into the social-media pool; Instagram seemed like fun, from what I could see on some of the blogs I read. Bloggers were connecting with each other and sharing things in a slightly different way. I know there is a lot of talk about bloggers migrating lately. I know, I know. It's a problem. But I'll get back to that in a minute.


Let me say this first: I'm happy to report that I like it there. For one thing, I'm enjoying using my phone's camera more often, which is something I'd wanted to do for a while (I dabbled in it last fall, publishing a post with only camera photos, which was a real change of pace for me). I'm not great with my phone's camera, but the filters and editing tools on Instagram are useful. I like being able to upload a photo, finagle it a little, add a caption if I want, and shoot it out there for the world to see. I like that. It's quick and easy.


I've always been big into photographing the minutiae of my day, and of the world around me. I keep my Nikon in the kitchen so I can grab it any time, taking a photo of my cooking, the food on my plate at the table, the small Bears' work at the kitchen counter. Sometimes I stroll around the yard, snap-snap-snapping away until I realize I've taken 47 photos of the same unfurling bud. Or I get into my mountain-snapping pose on the brick steps outside our bedroom, leaning back into the rickety screen door as old as me, cobwebs in my hair and apple-tree twigs poking my neck to capture that Sandia sunset I'm always on about. I've been a shutterbug since I was a teenager; I bought my first camera, a Kodak Ektralite 110, when I was fourteen. Me and my cameras, we're thick as thieves. I don't pretend to be an awesome photographer; I'm just having fun. I practice and I think I get some good shots now and then. It's a part of my life I really love.


Blogging has given me a place to share my photos, which are plentiful. When my children were younger, I made photo diaries: I would take a picture every few minutes throughout our day. I liked doing this because it was a record of daily life at that moment in time. My life was pleasant enough, and I knew this, but it seemed very, very hard sometimes, between diapers and feedings and colic and reflux and naptimes and the general feeling of being "stranded" at home with really little ones. I think my photo diaries were partly a response to this sense of being ground down by motherhood: if I could add something thoughtful - artistic, even - to my day, I felt a little more connected to the world outside, to people who combed their hair and ate sitting down. I used to be one of them. I could remember it! My photo diaries did help me. I still look at them sometimes. I feel reassured that I wasn't as big a mess as I thought I was; everyone was clean, fed, dressed and usually pretty happy, contrary to some of my memories. Life was hard but good.


I'm very glad to have started a blog because I love to write. I love it even more than I love taking photos. I'm glad that blogging allows me to do both. I feel like I've found a good little niche for myself as a blogger; I can't believe how enjoyable this has been! I've made wonderful connections with other bloggers and I get to have my own little space to share whatever I like, the things that make me happy and excited and inspired.

I do think that Instagram would have worked well for me during those spit-up years, though. I would have used it a lot. I used Facebook the way I'm currently using Instagram: quick snapshots of the daily routine. But on Facebook, I was clever; I wrote sarcastic, pithy commentaries about dirty diapers, leaking breasts, toddler tantrums, sibling squabbles and a very stupid dog (when I had one). I was a little caustic, actually. On Instagram, I'm nice. I share pretty things. But I assure you, all is not pretty in my world. I'm just like you, I promise. If I have a complaint about Instagram, it's this: I'm less than three months into my membership and I'm already sick to death of perfectly-staged photos of food, craft supplies, furniture, shoes. You name it, and it can be arranged gorgeously.


The best Instagram post I've seen yet was from my friend Leanne. She shared a photo of a mess her son made on the carpet. I think there were lentils and dry penne pasta involved. It was real life and I liked it. I haven't shared anything like that yet but I will. I almost shared our new toilet seat this weekend. Pure joy in my heart, I tell you.


But so far, I've stuck to prettier images. I'm still learning the ropes and gaining followers and I think I'll hold off on toilet-related posts for now. I like to take photos of things as I see them, just whatever is around me. Color is key; I really like to photograph ordinary things which happen to be colorful. I like to capture some of the foods we eat, like a delicious pepperoni pizza made by the Bear. I like to play around with yarns and embroidery floss. I've noticed the beautiful colors of the equestrian roping supplies at the feed store. The sunsets and blossoming trees and, a few weeks back, snow-covered berries are all catching my eye. It's the same stuff I photograph with my big camera, for the most part. The everyday things that make up my world and bring me joy and wonder. Sometimes I use both, the DSLR and the smartphone: I have both in my bag and I take a photo of everything twice. I look like a tourist in my own city but I don't care: I have a record and that's what I came for.

I'm no good at selfies, no good AT ALL.

Now, about those bloggers who prefer Instagram...I do have an opinion on that. First, let me say that I get it. I understand that blogging is maybe not the coolest game in town anymore and people are looking for the next big thing. There have been people "discovered" via Instagram, and they're making money now and attracting adulation. I have no problem with people making money with their online pursuits; heck, if someone offered me a good opportunity, I might take it. But I'm not really in it for that. I love blogging and I find much fulfillment in it. I also realize that Instagram is quicker; blogging requires a little more planning, maybe. That said, I don't see how Instagram could fully replace blogging. I can't speak for anyone else, but blogging, for me, is a passion, whereas Instagram is a pastime. Do you see the difference? It doesn't fill my cup the way blogging does. My friend Gillian once explained to me this way, when I was dithering about joining Instagram (and I'm paraphrasing; she's brilliant and she probably said it better): "Instagram is like saying hi as you pass a friend on the street, blogging is like chatting with them over a cup of tea." She speaks the truth, people. Listen to her.

**********

If you're so inclined to find me, I'm thistlebear on Instagram. I'd love to connect with you over there and I hope you'll still check in here too. I'm not going anywhere.

All photos in this post were taken with my Moto X smartphone via Instagram.

46 comments:

  1. Oh my goodness! Every word that you have written is is exactly what I would have written if I had penned this post. I waved goodbye to FB at the end of Jan because it just made me feel unhappy and yucky. The very minute I deleted my account I felt better, like a weight had lifted off me and I have not regretted it at all. I totally agree with you and your friend on blogging. I love blogging and cannot imagine not having a platform to write and record the small happy joys of life. I joined up with Instagram about two weeks ago after resisting for over a year - social media phobia too ;) It's nice and I am enjoying it as I love photography, but it would never replace blogging for me.

    Fabulous post - now I'm off to find you on Instagram :)

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  2. What a lovely post Jennifer. I like to take lots of everyday shots of life as well, it's always nice to look back at the little moments. And I have records of days from when the boys were little too. I know what you mean about dozens of photos of perfectly styled things though, it can be a little overwhelming. Like you, I'm a fan of words along with my pictures. I keep albums at home, and the best ones are the ones with a few lines of text as well. Glad you're enjoying Instagram, I shall look forward to seeing your pictures there. CJ xx

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  3. This is really interesting Jennifer. I have a FB account,which I have zero interest in, I only have it because I wanted a FB page for my blog, and you can't have a page without a profile, or so my son told me! X

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  4. Hi Jennifer !
    I completely agree with you about the difference between blogging and IG. They cannot replace each other - blogging takes time and gives "deeper" social contacts, Instagram is quick, a bit more superficial, but also fun ! I try to use them as complementary things - IG when I have not much time and still want to share something, Blogger when I have the time, and feel a need to get more feedback on what I want to share.
    And as for making photos, same here :-). Always a camera at hand. Like you, I need to take photos - for me, it makes my past more "tangible". A visual proof for memories in my head....
    Xxx

    Ps - I like your IG feed !!
    Pps - why would you say you're not good at selfies ?? That is a cool selfie !!


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  5. I've yet to sign up for Instagram, I've not ruled it out yet but I'm just not ready for the perfectness? feel of it all. What Gillian says feels so right & it would be useful for quick garden shots. Well I for one am glad you are still continuing to blog xx

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  6. I haven't signed up for Instagram or facebook I am just not into technology.

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  7. I know just what you mean, I love reading your blog and it gives an insight into your life in a way that I don't think Instagram can xx

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  8. I agree with your friend's comments on Instagram, and I truly can't imagine it ever completely replacing blogging. Perhaps the blogs that are simply a series of photos, but the ones that tell stories, give instruction, or feel like a conversation? Never.

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  9. I agree about blogging. It feels like a the modern version of a diary for your creativity and daily life. I've had instagram for a while but tend to post on it when i want to take an 'instagram style' photo with some of those gorgeous filters. I haven't linked my blog to it yet as I've only used it for friends and family.

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  10. I can see the plusses and minuses in both mediums for much the same reasons as you shared here. I don't have the sort of phone that I can use to do IG and that is why I have not joined it. Gillians thoughts were very true I imagine! xx

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  11. Hi Jennifer...
    Long time no see...
    I have followed you on Instagram...
    Looking for ward to your fabulous pics!!
    Enjoy your week...
    Cheers!
    Linda :o)

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  12. so pleased you're not going to go to instagram and stop writing, so many of my blog friends have done that, I don't have a phone that can take photos and therefore can't join.
    I only use my facebook account these days as both the children's scout/guide groups use pages to let you know what's happening each week, so if I don't check fb we end up in the wrong place........ actually we still sometimes end up in the wrong place but....................

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  13. Happy Monday Jennifer. I know absolutely nothing about Instagram. Zilch. Zero. Nada. But I really enjoy blogging and the wonderful friendships I've made and have no plans to stop. I've never done the "in" or popular things anyway. :-) As for Facebook, it has allowed me to reconnect with people I graduated with over 35 years ago and stay in touch with family that live far away. However, some of the "stuff" on there is downright depressing. I wish I could get rid of all of that. I'm so happy you have so many pictures of your children's wives. You will always cherish them.
    Blessings,
    Betsy

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  14. Fully understand you and I too always have my camera and phone and snapping away at anything I like and I am also on instagram but only post the occasional pic as still learning how to use it lol As for blogging, it is my way of diarizing what we do in our life each week and I enjoy this and on the days I want a break, I do just that and don't log on xoxoxo

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  15. You and Gillian are absolutely spot on. I liked the look of instagram from Marianne at Ladybird Diaries but decided not to signup in the end as there was no way to have a look round without creating an account. I might think about giving it a go again as I quite like the idea of trying filters.

    Blogging is what does it for me. I love the pictures people use to illustrate their posts as they help tell the story or add a dimension, but for me it is the stories of their lives that they choose to share that I love. It is the realness of people sharing that makes blogging so enjoyable and the opportunity to add context.

    I used to love the smart colour matched staged pictures when they were new to me but now I do find them very homogenous. And as for the pretentiousness around 'curating' of pictures kind of leaves me a bit cold as a lot of the context is driven from the picture-perfectness of them. Or maybe that is just an excuse for my awful photography...!

    In the end though its horses for courses and maybe I need to try it before creating an opinion.

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  16. Beautifully written Jennifer and I agree with all you've said! Gillian's words ring so true for me too ... I'm enjoying IG to a point but find it can be very time consuming to keep up with everything and everyone and their postings and comments etc.. As you are probably aware I have been very inconsistent in my blogging these past months but have no intention of stopping, rather, I've been trying to get and keep a balance, and this has been a bit tricky of late. Hoping to see more of you soon, and keep on with your lovely writings xo Joy

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  17. I love photography, but I don't have a smart phone so no instagram for me. Also, I'm afraid it would take to much, which is a problem with anything computer related for me. Someday I may change my mind though!
    I loved what you said - "photographing the minutiae of my day". That is you for sure, and you are so good at it - I love that here!

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  18. I have a Facebook account that I deactived over a year ago. I found that it just didn't make me happy anymore. On a rare ocassion I activate it (like today) just to see what everyone is up to, but it's really just a total waste of time for me, and it doesn't make me happy. I think I leave deavicted from now on. I do enjoy Instagram though, and have for almost the past two years. I'm happy you joined! But Facebook and IG do not and will not ever replace blogging in my book. Gillian explained it perfectly! Your selfie looks great! I usually only get like half my face when I attempt one! :)

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  19. I totally agree with you on your thoughts about Instagram! And your friend Gillian summed it up perfectly. I love IG for a quick hit, but it certainly can't replace blogging. To me, my IG photos are just one second snippets of my life. Blogging takes a lot of my time AND yours and is much more personal and detailed. Facebook...still on it; still have a love-hate relationship with it.

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  20. Ah yep! She said it perfectly! First off I just want to say that your photos up there are divine! I do so love the color that you capture in your shots! And I think your selfie is fantastic! I signed up for Instagram but have done nothing with it.....not sure if it is for me or not....Facebook isn't either but blogging is. I like to connect and hear people talk Like you I may just get sick of looking at perfect pictures all the time without the story. So maybe I will try it but for now this medium is perfect for me even if it isn't the "coolest" thing around! Happy week my dear friend! Nicole xoxo

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  21. I'm so glad we're not going to lose you to Instagram. I do love your little colourful shots though and your selfie is lovely - I could show you a bad selfie! We have the same radio as you (only in black) and I'd kill for a pair of those stripy tights! Wishing you a great week and I look forward to reading many more of your lovely posts. x

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  22. Somehow I signed up for Instagram not long ago although I have not figured out how to use the system yet. I have a minimal presence on FB to stay in touch with family and friends, but I love investing time in blogging pursuing my interest in the arts and interacting with other folks who have similar interests. I admire what you shared and how you shared it in this post, Jennifer. :-) Thanks! xx

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  23. Hear hear Jennifer. I love to blog, for both the photography and the writing, but am only getting into Instagram a little. As you say, it is good to use the phone camera, and connect in another way. I do enjoy your pictures and posts on Insta, but of course, we all want you to keep on blogging too! Beautiful collages!

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  24. i think your selfie is wonderful! i love your photos & once upon a time i used to take lots of photos too, with an old brownie, can't remember what model great little camera & wished i never traded it in on a digital which got broken, some years back now. i take photos with my phone too, it's all i have, when i first got it they were wonderful pictures, not so much now, can never get the light right or they come out blurry.
    always enjoy reading your blog, i have FB but no instagram, not likely to get it anytime soon either.
    hope you keep up the wonderful writings & photos
    thanx for sharing

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  25. I am not on FB or IG. I don't have a camera on my phone so can't join in nor would I want to, I have read a lot about it being a bit too perfect. That said I know that many have migrated to both these places, at first I was a bit miffed as the conversation seemed to change. But as in real life friends move, things change, and perhaps it's a good thing as it makes a little more room for everyone?

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  26. I've never tried Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, in fact, I've never even used the camera on my phone. I do wish that digital cameras were around when my kids were young though, I've got so many more photos of them since we went digital than when we had to get films developed.

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  27. Hey Jennifer,
    Aww bless you! I have photographed my shoes too.....
    I think you are a great photographer. You have an eye for detail that doesn't need the faff of artfully arranging a twig and some shells. You don't try and fool us with your photography either. And the colours are so sharp. I struggle with that. I enjoy instagram. I have connected with some really lovely people, which surprised me because I thought the instant idea of it all would render that void. I think you see a different side to me on there as opposed to the blog. Maybe because it's instant, and I am a process in the moment kind of person? Anyway I'm glad that you are there too. And your selfie is lovely. You are such a smiley, pretty girl .
    Leanne xx

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  28. I'm fairly new to Instagram too, Jennifer. Like you, I'm quite enjoying the experience, although I do worry that people are going to get tired of seeing my pictures of mountains, trees and teapots. I know there is a lot of talk about Instagram replacing blogging, but they really are two different creatures. To me Instagram is about photos accompanied by a few words, and blogging is about words accompanied by a few photos.

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  29. i have yet to jump on the instagram bandwagon.. but with everyone talking about it i feel like i too should probably join in.. still not sure..
    i like your pictures.. lots of cookies and pancakes.. mmm

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  30. I love your grid photos - and your thoughts. I do agree that I would have loved it in the baby days too!

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    1. I'll definitely find you over on instagram!

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  31. I agree with you and Gillian ... no fb for me, no smart phone so no ing... I like blogging and being in contact with all of you ... thanks for your words!

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  32. I have an instagram presence....but most definitely not a passion as so many do....and for all the reasons you named above (plus, my phone is an ANCIENT one and the photos are yuch!) But, from all the lovely photos on Instagram, I don't feel I've had a chance to really really meet the photographer...the connections just aren't the same as in blogland. I'm just so glad you're sticking with the blog....I'd miss you TERRIBLY!!!!!!

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  33. I have IG but just don't get the hang of it.. maybe because I don't try to figure it out. But I do sure like blogging. Will show my finished blanket tomorrow. ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

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  34. I'd share a cuppa with you anytime, Jennifer. Thank you so much for popping over to mine and leaving your lovely comment. I really loved reading this take on social media. I'm not on IG so can't follow you there. I am reluctantly on FB because I have family and friends overseas and it is a wonderful way of keeping in touch, almost instantly but I do think it encourages narcissism in a big way. I love the first pic of this latest post. The material is lovely. What are you going to do with it?

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  35. Interesting post Jennifer. I enjoy using Instagram and enjoy 'seeing' you on there too. In fact, I would say that at the moment, I'm enjoying instagram more than I enjoy my blog. I love taking photos...although I am definitely one of those people who likes to style her photos! I just enjoy taking pretty pictures! I love the quickness of Instagram as well and I've found a really friendly and inspiring community on there. I know that there are a lot of people who have given up their blogs in favour of using Instagram only....and i admit that times I'm tempted to do that as well. Maybe because I enjoy the photography part of Instagram/Blogging much more than I enjoy the writing. Ive waffled on a bit....sorry! Anyway, I love seeing your lovely photos on Instagram. Have a great week.
    Marianne x

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  36. Jennifer,

    Really enjoyed this discussion on the differences between blogging and Instagram, as you see them, and what they mean to you. Personally, I like both Gillian's and your own definitions of these two social media venues; they're quite catchy and true!

    Beautiful mosaics, and selfie. I'm not on Instagram, so I'll stick around here, since it's perfectly cozy and fun.

    Poppy

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  37. lovely post dear
    i am following your blog, please follow back. thanks
    http://melodyjacob1.blogspot.com/

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  38. I am a blogger through and through. But then I am always the last one to join the party and am always the last to pick up on something new. I seem to have an account on Instagram but can't recall how to do a thing on it. I frankly only have so much time and I chose that time for my blog but I can see how your time would be easily spent on Instagram. Good luck over there.
    Meredith

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  39. Very interesting post Jennifer. Lovely lovely photos! I especially like the selfie x

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  40. A great post I keep toying with the idea of instagram, but have so far resisted, like you I always have my camera near by.
    Clare x

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  41. I think Gillian hit the nail on the head Jennifer, although I'm a member of instagram I don't use it much, maybe because I find a phone too small to enjoy browsing that much it's usually a quick glimpse for me I haven't yet managed to get into it. I love facebook because there are so many great craft groups I love to follow, I enjoy blogging because I like big, it's easier to see all those lovely pictures and an easier medium to work on. :) xx

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  42. Lately if I find a blog that hasn't been updated in months I check for a link to IG and nearly always it's clear that that's where the blogger is hanging out now. I miss their words. And I'm really glad that blogging still fills your cup. Me too.

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  43. I know just what you mean about the baby years - I think Instagram would've been a godsend and a lovely way to reach out and connect with people in those crazy years. And imagine having a smart phone during night feeds!!! The luxury. I totally agree with you - blogging is where my heart lies (even though I've been a terrible blogger lately) whereas IG is a bit of fun. I met you through blogging after all! Thank you for your kind words. xx

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  44. I just recently got on Instagram myself, but I just don't get it! I don't see what all the fuss is about. If you find me there (I just followed you so you should see that), you'll see I've only posted one picture. I just don't think about posting there, and anything I'd want to share I've probably already shared on my blog. I'm going to stick with it for a while. Maybe I'll learn to love it as so many other people do.

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  45. An interesting post and discussion, Jennifer. Words have always meant much more to me than images, which is why I love blogging so much, especially those blogs which haves something distinctive and worthwhile to say, rather than just being a collection of photos. That's probably why I haven't noticed any of my favourite blogs disappearing to Instagram.

    I don't have a smartphone and am not on Instagram or Pinterest and probably never will be. However, I joined FB last summer and really enjoy it. I have a relatively small group of friends and am careful about privacy, so find it a nice place to exchange news informally and instantly. I've also just joined Twitter, but that is church-related and I don't post personal stuff.

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Thank you for leaving a comment. It's so good to hear from you! I don't always have time to reply but I try to answer questions when I can.

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