Everyone’s Favorite, Part#2

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Us six siblings and our two vehicle caravan drove off the ferry at Little River terminal, Vancouver Island. Continuing our ocean-side holiday, we crossed the city of Courtney, to Kingfisher Resort and Spa. Because of our short stay, I booked partial-view rooms here.

To our surprise, partial-view meant that a beautiful landscaped and manicured lawn was between us and the building which offered the full-view rooms. The unique part was, that building was terraced into the bank, so from our particular patios we could still see the ocean over it.

The next day we drove to the west side of Vancouver Island, which is open to the Pacific Ocean. A region with spectacular views and well known for wave watching and surfing.

Long Beach, is one of my favorite on this side. It’s ten miles of sandy shore and rolling to roaring waves depending on the day. The best part is, you pass right by it going to Tofino, our night’s destination.

All of us had been to Tofino before, yet Mister and I had never stayed there because it’s a doable day trip from across the island. Oceanfront accommodations at this end can be pricey, but this time we all splurged for rooms at the seaside, Best Western Tin Wis.

Tofino’s weather can be wet, but we went prepared. Our packed rain-gear came in handy when we walked the Hotel’s beach that afternoon and the next morning. (This beach is pictured in, “Pre-Book Accommodations or Wing-It”.)

The sister-in-law fulfilled her dream to waltz in the ocean with my brother. Even though, her mid-calf rubber boots filled with icy water in waves that splashed higher than their knees.

The town offers many small interesting shops, and there’s no shortage of fantastic seafood restaurants. There are also whale watching tour companies based there.

Before heading back to the east-side of the island, we also visited Uclulet where we walked the scenic Pacific Rim Trail and of course shopped a little.

Our next stay was at, Beach Club Resort, in popular, Parksville. The long wooden boardwalk out front of this resort is great for those who want to stroll and not get their footwear dirty. For shell pickers the shallow shores mean a huge beach becomes exposed when the tide is out. (Pictured in “Watching The Tide Roll Away”)

Since our last two accommodations were at busy, touristy spots, I searched for a, off the main path, but still on the water location for our next two nights.

When the GPS had us exit the Trans Canada Highway onto a road that wound down through about eight miles of country side, I began to doubt my travel agent skills.

The road hadn’t reached sea level when the town of Cowichan Bay started and we arrived at the parking lot of our accommodation. It was so unassuming that if we had been winging-it, we may have passed it by.

We took no pictures, and neither Mister or I can remember exactly what it looked like from the front. I vaguely recall a simple earth-tone two story building with little to no windows, other than the glass lobby doors.

But, walk through those sliding doors and beyond the reception counter there is a sitting area, furnished and cozy like a living room. The eye catching feature though was the wall of windows where we got our first view of the bay and marina.

Oceanfront Suites at Cowichan Bay ended up being a little piece of heaven we all enjoyed. A place each of us say we would re-visit in a heartbeat.

I booked kitchenette suites in case we felt like cooking a meal, (which we didn’t). The suites were spacious with separate bed and living rooms, both areas had patio doors which opened to the bay. (The picture above is from our room.)

From our couches or beds we could watch Sea-Lions swimming in the marina and I saw on the news that shortly after we left there, Killer whales came right into the bay. Too bad we missed that.

When we went down to the swimming pool level, and stepped outside we were shocked by the size of the place. It didn’t match the impression we got from the front parking lot.

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It isn’t new but was clean, well-kept and updated. We encountered friendly staff and great food from both its restaurant and the pub next door.

The town of Cowichan Bay, offers a candy and ice cream shop, a general store, a bakery, a whale watching tour company. These and more little shops, and all just a short walk from the hotel.

If you’re planning to visit Vancouver Island, and you don’t mind staying minutes from city conveniences, we highly recommend Oceanfront Suites at Cowichan Bay.

Its location on the coast is great for doing day trips to many of the popular tourist places. Or, if you’re looking for a comfortable and quiet place to relax with stunning bay views, this place should be a serious contender.

This is post 2 of 3 on our Vancouver Island trip.

Have you ever stumbled on a hidden treasure like this when you’ve pre-booked an accommodation?

Gorilla Tape Saves The Holiday

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A recent fall journey began with an evening rain shower that turned to snow during the night. By morning enough white stuff accumulated to require a snow-brush and ice scraper to clean off T.C. (our van), but the roads were bare and all participants woke raring to go.

Taking a road-trip while the beautiful fall colors are out is so worth leaving shorts and sandals behind and packing bulkier and a bit more clothing. Mister and I love to travel at this time of the year.

The luggage stowed inside was for two siblings (myself and one of my brothers) and two outlaws (our spouses). Not to worry, there was more bags than what you see above by the time we returned. (Insert Smiley face here).

Us four have traveled together before. To Las Vegas and last summer we explored the Washington and Oregon coast. This time we headed to Canada’s west coast and Vancouver Island. Our numbers increased to six though on the second day when one of my sister’s and her husband met up and joined us.

The weather system that brought the overnight snow was small, so it wasn’t long into the drive before even the fields and ditches were bare again.

Unfortunately, the trip started like no other; it started with a bang, and not a good kind.

An hour and a half after we set out two animals appeared from nowhere, and as a pair they ran across the highway in front of us. Mister slammed on the brakes which gave the lead one just enough time to escape, but nothing could be done to avoid hitting the second.

Tears filled my eyes as I walked back to check the animal lying motionless on the pavement, knowing very well its state. I apologized to it and hoped death came in an instant so it suffered no pain.

Within seconds Mister appeared behind me and pulled the body out from the path of oncoming traffic. I’m not sure I could have done that.

No humans were injured. The van’s under shroud was ripped off, and a good portion of the front end was either cracked, or broken. Lucky for us though, the air bags didn’t go off, the headlights remained intact, and although the air conditioning radiator was dented T.C. ran fine. Damages were all cosmetic.

Nothing could change what happened, and with a highway not being the safest place to hangout we all got back inside and headed for the next town.

Mister and I stood in the mall parking lot while he made the appropriate phone calls. My brother ran into a store and bought a roll of Gorilla tape. It was needed to hold dandling and vibrating pieces safely in place, so we could continue on our way.

As a side note, this was our first time using Gorilla tape, and we were impressed by its strength and staying power through rain and winds.

My superstitious nature kicked in often during the next fourteen days as I worried about the, “Bad things happen in three’s,” theory. Then, I would hear my mother’s words, “Things happen for a reason.” Perhaps that delay saved us from a more severe incident, we will never know for sure. With us all safe at home now, I can report any other mishaps were minor compared to our start.

I intended to post sights and finds on my blog while on this trip, but the ocean always beckoned for me to spend my spare time strolling the shores.

Truth be known, I need little encouragement to do just that.

The only writing I did while on the road was in our daily travel journal. This is a practice I’ve done for years now. We enjoy looking back on the information, to reminisce, or use it to reference things when revisiting an area.

Do you keep a travel journal?

Can superstitions unsettle you?

Have you ever had a rough start to a holiday? If so, did you continue or turn back?

 

Sailing, Boat Names, and Seven Dwarfs

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Last week began with our extra beds occupied and a house filled with laughter during a sibling sleepover.

Monday I had my first sailboat experience as a passenger on the 21 foot, “Huhn Wetter” captained by my big brother. He trailered her to our lake for a couple days visit.

The sailing adventure was extra special because there was five siblings onboard. To bad the other two stayed ashore.

It was also Brother’s first official day of retirement. What better way for him to start a new chapter of his life than giving many of us our first ride on his pride and joy.

Have you ever walked a dock reading boat names?

They Intrigue me, and I often wonder the reasons behind them.

Names usually represent someone special to the owner, a favorite quote or cliché, or they may reference a goal, a dream or a destiny.

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“Huhn Wetter” is named in memory of our mother. These two German words were one of her favorite muttered curses. A habit passed down from her mother and one shared with her sisters.

Why would anyone use curse words to name their boat?

Hold on, I’ll explain.

“Huhn Wetter,” translated means, “Chicken Weather.”

Yes, our mother had a real potty mouth. (Smiley Face)

Sailing has no history amidst our immediate family, so my brother is sure when he bought this boat he heard our mother curse his new hobby. She wasn’t a water fan, and she always worried about us kids’ safety.

The gang woke on Tuesday to clouds, wind and a coat wearing chill, so the boat stayed in the marina. Three of us girls went beach combing for driftwood in the morning getting quite a haul for a sister’s lamp making project. By the afternoon the boys suffering with cabin fever went out and worked on the boat trailer.

Wednesday once the morning fog cleared, and the sun came out, Captain Brother, his wife, and I went for another sail. He had me man the rudder while he raised the sails. Once done he surprised me when I went to move for him to take over, and he said, “Nope, she’s all yours.”

He explained how to make slight shifts in the boats course to catch the breeze instead of us swinging the sails, and how to watch the dangling string on the front sail as a guide. I steered for a spell, and even managed a turn, but when we caught stronger winds and picked up speed, I chickened out and handed her back to her rightful captain.

Mister and I own a pontoon boat which we’ve enjoyed for years, and I doubt we would ever trade. Now, I can understand though what about sailing appeals to my brother. It’s the peace and quiet. Here’s to him for learning the skill.

I would consider learning the craft if the mast was maybe 6’ high making the sail’s surface small enough that the boat would stay rowing speed slow. Something about being at the weather’s mercy and being so tall when the boat lists that would take me time to get use to. No matter how many times the brother says they wouldn’t sink even if they fill with water. Laying over or flipping really doesn’t sound fun to me, either.

Since the sleepover had seven participants, I thought it would be fun to match each of us to a Disney’s Seven Dwarf character. It got complicated though. I could have assigned, Sleepy, Sneezy and Doc, but none of us are Bashful, and if I labeled someone Grumpy or Dopey, I would get in trouble. Plus, all of us qualified to be, Happy, so it wouldn’t have been fair to choose only one.

Could you match your siblings to any of Disney’s Seven Dwarfs?

Have you ever been on a sailboat?

Family, His Side & My Side

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Grand-puppies Cooling Off

Road Trips will always be one of my favorite things to do. The distance traveled, or the destination isn’t what’s important, it’s who I will see when I get there.

I won’t bore you with details of how busy we are, other-than we rarely unpack our suitcases these days.

Two of our many trips so far were Family Reunions.

One on my side.

When my parents were alive, they would have whoever could make it of us siblings and our families together at Christmas. Since their passing though, to avoid worrying about winter road conditions, us kids plan a yearly, June reunion.

Out of five children, four of us are close and we visit each other numerous times a year. Sadly, a brother for reasons unknown has stopped communicating with the entire family. We have reached out, but he seems content replacing us with his wife’s family. Back to the topic though.

Reunion hosts change from time to time and this year it was a three-hour drive for Mister and I.

The gathering is a BBQ or potluck style meal open to, nieces, nephews, and their families. Not to brag, (smiley face) but Mister and I had four generations in attendance.

Special to this year, the four of us siblings and partners stretched it into a fun two night sleepover, under the same roof.

There was a downpour the night before the gathering but the day was clear and sunny. The turnout was good, and it’s always great to see those we don’t see often.

The next reunion was on Mister’s side.

Mister’s mother was one of fourteen children and their family tradition is a reunion every three years. Again, different families host, and so the location varies, but it’s always in British Columbia because that’s where the majority who attend are from. We hosted the previous one and this year’s which was last weekend, both at the same venue in B.C.’s Okanagan Valley.

There is a bit more to this reunion with rented facilities, a gathering Friday night, Saturday during the day is occasional activities, and a catered supper. Then Sunday morning is a catered breakfast. We left Thursday morning to pickup keys, touch base with the caterer, etc.

The son, his wife, and fur baby rode with us with the men sharing the 10 hours of driving. The oldest or her family couldn’t make it but our daughter, her husband, and their fur baby met us at the hotel Friday afternoon.

Although, this was the first reunion with none of the original aunts and uncles alive it was a great time with over 60 people in attendance. The weather was hot, hot, hot and unfortunately British Columbia’s interior is in havoc with hundreds of raging forest fires. None were in the immediate area where we were, but our thoughts and prayers are with those affected.

We said our goodbyes until next time after Sunday’s breakfast and hit the road. The last 45 minute drive home from this 4 days away had extra stress when warnings binged on phones and emergency alerts interrupted radio programs, the area where our home is located was under a tornado warning.

We have weathered two serve hail storms in the last 6 years, both which wrote off numerous of our vehicles and required new roofs, siding, windows, and damages too many to list.

No matter how much you tell yourself that there’s nothing you can do about mother nature’s fury, a part of me wanted to get home fast, yet part of me was afraid of what we would find when we got there. Thankfully, all was well at our place, but unfortunately some nearby areas weren’t as lucky receiving golf-tennis size hail stones.

I will close this post with a short list of things I think about family and gatherings.

F – Fond memories, fun times, and food.

A – Always there for each other, even and maybe more so as we age.

M – Missing those who have passed or unable to attend functions.

I – Informal.

L – Laughter. There should be a T for teasing.

Y -Yellow belly sap suckers, because I just couldn’t think of anything related to family that started with a Y.

What would you have used that starts with Y?

Oh, “yappy” would have worked for us.

Do your families do reunions?

Country Life

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What’s that noise?

Faint rustling followed by squeaks and gurgles of a baby fussing came from the feed and tack stall next to the booth where Mister and I sat at the horse event. Exchanging an knowing glance with my husband I went to investigate.

Pictured above is what I found. Our daughter with this sheepish look sprinkling hay on her little brother who was supposed to be asleep.

Our family often jokes about the saying, “Were you born in a barn.” Although not born in one, our kids spent a good portion of their childhoods in either a barn, an arena, or outside and nearby while we did our chores.

Four legs, manes, tails, and everything horse best describes our daughter’s likes.

For a few years, a spring horse took center-stage in our bay window. She spent endless hours in that saddle, her stare focused outside, and her eyes glazed with little girl daydreams.

The toys that entertained her while indoors were all horse related. My Little Pony’s, Lego stable sets, and the jeep, horse trailer and horses for her Barbie’s. Even the multi story, upright, Barbie house Mister made her, of course, had a floor level barn included.

She was happiest outside, even if just watching the horses eat or roam the pastures. As an adult, she still spends her spare time outside with her horse or in the barn.

She recently posted this picture and description on Instagram. (@candie214)

Pretty sure this is why I like watching people ride, I spent hours on those tires.

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If you look close, you’ll see the small child saddle I’m riding in so I could take the edge off “Dr. Pepper” before she rode.

In her I see the younger me. Doing barn or farm chores was, and is, rarely considered work and when given a choice they trump household chores.

To us horses aren’t a hobby, they are a lifestyle. Location has changed this for me since I live at a lake resort now, but it’s still her way of life.

This is “Nugget” Her current, young, Quarter Horse Gelding she’s training.

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We were blessed as parents to have children, especially teenagers, whose passions meant they were happy at home.

Our son’s interests changed from horses over time and if you haven’t already, check out my post, “Our Version of a Norman Rockwell” for a glimpse into what makes the male’s of our family tick.

Did you have a childhood passion?

Do you still enjoy it?

Never Too Old

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I doubt, I’ll ever be too old to wonder if my parents would be proud of me and us as a family. Whether they’re still here, on earth, or not doesn’t matter. We shared a closeness, and even though gone for decades, they remain in my thoughts and I still miss them every day.

Family bonds meant the world to my parents and I’ve followed their belief.

I’m sure, when they look down on us siblings and our families it pleases them, and they smile because we still get together.

With today’s world of social media, I think our mother would have enjoyed the ease of sharing pictures and keeping up with family members. I’m sure computers would have intimidated and frustrated her, but I bet she would have kept up with a few simpler sites and tasks. Dad, I can’t imagine doing more than maybe playing games and googling from time to time. Mister’s parents, I doubt would have had interest in internet technology.

As parents, we wish for our children’s safety, health, happiness and hope they find love. For people to treat them with kindness and respect and for them to treat others the same. For family to get along and be there for each other.

Stature and possessions are accomplishments but more importantly pride should cover how one handles life, and people.

Enjoy family and friends while they are alive, don’t wait until they pass to appreciate them.

As an adult do you still think about whether your parents are proud of your actions and choices?

 

Everything into a Pot

 

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Hosting meals for family or friends is a great joy, but not being a cooking enthusiast anymore means strategic planning. Sometimes, I spend more energy racking my brain for easy foods to serve than I do with preparation. I suffer flashes of guilt because of my low luster entrees, but I’m thankful people still come over.

While our kids grew up, I put effort into cooking. Meals had plenty variety, were tasty, hearty, lots of homemade this and homemade that.

The family seldom did, or had reason to complain, except the night of the “Tuna Casserole”. The only uneatable dish I’ve made, one for the record books and still remembered. Dreadful music played in my head, and my stomach churned as I typed its name. (smiley face)

Who is at the table, is far more important than the food served.

My goal remains that no one goes hungry while at our home. Now though, menu choices are pretty basic, and meals are simple. And yes, sometimes when the kids stay over, for breakfast I tell them to help themselves to whatever they find.

Presentation holds little importance. Items often get served in cooking pots or casserole dishes. You won’t find both salad and dinner forks on our table, and if the meal doesn’t require a spoon, one won’t get placed beside your plate.

When company is coming, I like to have things washed, peeled, chopped and prepared in advance. If I can’t, our smaller, open concept home means no separation from visiting, anyway.

Last weekend for a birthday gathering, I threw multiple veggies into a pot with a ham bone in the morning. When our guests arrived, I finished it with homemade flour dumplings and, viola, lunch was ready to serve. The big steaming pot sat in the middle of the table and everyone helped themselves.

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Note to self. I often use green cabbage in soups, but this time I had purple in the fridge. It made for a weird color tinge, but added nice flavor.

Unfortunately, not all my siblings were in attendance for this get-together, but it was fun and a wonderful afternoon. If you leave out the part where the boys beat the girls in cards.

I Love Family Time!

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This summer, our daughter gave me a dessert recipe, I’ll quote her, “It’s real easy, Mom.”

Well, I made it, but good grief, what was she thinking? The fresh rhubarb had to be chopped in the morning so it could sit a few hours in sugar. I had to remember to stir it now and again. Then, I had to melt butter, boil and thicken a sauce, plus mix ingredients in one bowl and others in another.

That night when we talked on the phone and she asked how it went, I explained that was not my idea of easy. Easy is one bowl, mix a few things together, bake and serve. A little exaggeration there.

Don’t get the wrong idea, we eat the majority of our meals at home, so Mister and I share cooking duty, it’s just not my thing. I do the clean-up afterwards though, because I enjoy washing dishes.

I like to think I passed on some skills to our children before I tucked my enthusiasm in a drawer.

They are all accomplished cooks. I can’t take credit for what the oldest has learned, but our daughter and her husband get creative and experiment with a wide range of ingredients and dishes. The son enjoys more basic foods like his father, but he’s not intimidated by a new recipe or to add his own flair.

I failed to pass on my joy of dish washing to any of them though, but that’s all right. When visiting their homes, they cook, I do the dishes.

Do you enjoy cooking? Would you rather bake or make a meal?

What is your, go to, meal to cook? Mine is; barbequed pork chops (which Mister does all barbequing) microwave baked potatoes and lettuce salad. The most popular meal I serve to company is, pork roast with potatoes and carrots all cooked in one roaster.

Name two foods you could live without. I wouldn’t miss avocado, and blue cheese.

West Coast Wonderful

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Spectacular Shorelines

 

Tomorrow will be the first of two, long, tiresome legs of a coming journey. The thought causes a twinge of an expected ache in my lower back and butt. Excitement mounts as the hours tick closer, to the point where the last nights sleep in my bed becomes restless.

Prior to departure is a week if not more of preparation and sleep deprivation. The, I got to run to a store for that. I better start a pile of what not to forget. Oh, I might need that but where the heck is it? Wash clothes and then don’t wear items that might get packed. Arrange who will water plants and cut lawn.

A couple days before we leave it’s time to Google the weather for where we’re headed. Next is decisions and the actual packing. Layers, it always ends up layers. If I take that skirt I’ll need different shoes. If I take extra shoes, I’ll lose valuable clothes space, what a dilemma. I rethink my choices knowing I can be more efficient with mixing and matching. Time to empty the suitcase and start over.

Does this silly routine sound familiar? Who else starts a holiday with a similar process?

I sometimes think, “Is the trip worth it?” then scold myself. Stressing about the extra effort doesn’t last long because I’m grateful for travel opportunities. Whether one or numerous nights away, whether a near or distant destination, a trip is a trip and I cherish them all.

Of course, not every vacation is uneventful, minus challenges or mishaps. Our family has a motto for life though, which came years ago from my mother, “See the best in every situation and simply enjoy. Things happen for a reason. Delay’s put you where you need to be.” Some most remembered and talked about past holiday adventures involve, vehicle breakdowns, travel delays, last minute plan alterations, or unexpected weather.

It’s also normal for me to mourn the end of a trip. A fairly fresh feeling as it’s been mere weeks since returning home from the latest special excursion.

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My Travel Companions

Exploring the Washington, Oregon coast was not new to my husband and I, but we’ve never had the pleasure of enjoying the sights with my oldest brother and his wife. A fun two week, 4334 kilometer road-trip, spent appreciating glorious scenery and each others company.

We strolled beaches, boardwalks, and interesting small-town streets. A unexpected bonus was stopping at roadside pull-outs to whale watch, and yes there are pictures to prove this fish story. (I point that out because of a trip where only I saw a whale and which our kids still believe was a rock formation.) During this recent drive we spotted deer, elk, mountain goats, bighorn sheep and even a black bear. We photographed sea lions, seals, amazing views, lighthouses, and waterfalls. After a GPS programing issue, we made our sternwheeler reservation with only minutes to spare and relaxed on a river cruise. Who knew Oregon state has two towns with very similar names. Of course, we shopped, we ate our fill of clam chowder soups, and we relentlessly teased each other, but most importantly we laughed and laughed often. What more could one wish for? Thanks again to our travel companions for the wonderful time.

We proved you’re never to old for pipe-dreams. Visiting quaint ocean-side towns and breathtaking areas the four of us discussed where we would relocate after winning a big lottery. When we toured marinas and shipyards, the huge ocean crafts compared to our familiar lake vessels left us in awe. We picked out which yacht for my husband and I and which sailboat for my brother and his wife would fit into our new imagined lifestyles.

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Gang Leader

My brother found this little guy at one of our stops and he became our trip mascot. A squeeze of his paw when we started a drive triggered a rough gravelly rendition of “Born To Be Wild”. I shared a performance video of this with our kids and our daughter replied with a sassy text, “So you guys are born to be wild, travelling in a mini van, going to fabric stores.” She gets her sarcasm from her father. (Here would be a great place for a happy face emoji.) Our son teased us less, probably because only last year he experienced one of these madcap, minivan trips with us four. A post covering that adventure will appear in the future. In our defence, it was only one fabric store, and we had a purpose. It’s difficult to find nautical prints living in the prairies. I needed some such material for a quilting project and my brother needed a curtain for his sailboat. 

Lesson I learned

Road trips with siblings once you’ve become an adult can be less traumatic. Being the youngest child of five, two of those being brothers pretty much explains my sediment. At least I’ve outgrown my fear that mountains are sleeping monsters waiting to eat little girls. A tale and little joke both my brothers found entertaining

Are you a organize ahead type of traveller or the day before throw a few things into a suitcase and that’s that?

Has anyone else travelled with siblings and enjoyed the excursion?

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Thanks in advance for your support.