On a white Friday

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There are a lot of things going on around me these days, both in my private life and in the world around me. But as I write this today, looking through the windows of my living room, most of the issues of interest have lost their importance when seen in the context of the snowstorm that is now visiting Jerusalem. Last week I wrote about the dust that descended upon us… the difficulty of breathing… the depressing brown and yellow skies. Since then, we had a good rain that washed the city clean, and then a couple of days that were cold but clear. The air was a pleasure to breathe, and the visibility was perfect. But all the while, there were warnings on the radio that the snow was coming. And then it came.

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We had a few days to stock up on supplies, and to get ready. And now it’s here. Nechama does enjoy watching it all through the window, but she has no interest in going outside. And though I wanted to step outside and get to meet it intimately, the first try was a bit much for me. It was very cold and wet and slippery. The snow got into creases I didn’t even know I had… tried to pet my camera, and tickled my spine. Sneaked into my boots and gave me cold feet. So I went back in, and waited for the calm after the storm. The problem is that it looks almost docile when seen through the window. But it can be fierce when you face it. Finally, the sun peeked between the clouds, and I went out for a second time, for a nice little walk.

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the path from the park to my house

Still, there is something miraculous about the snow, as I mentioned a year ago. Especially in Jerusalem, which is not really equipped to handle such weather. Most of the shops are closed. The transportation is crippled. And for a few days, there’s a break in the routine. For a few days, people have to make do with what they have at home. Last year we had a serious electrical outage as well, and so many of our gadgets stopped working. The heating stopped and we had to stay warm with the help of blankets. And illuminate our rooms with candles and torches. But even so, it was a wonderful adventure. This year, the electricity has been reliable, and aside from a complete shut down of transportation, everything seems to be working well.

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But let me tell you of the picnic basket I found the other day. It was after the big rain, and while we were waiting for the snow storm. And it was found near the trash bin on the street, not far from the grocery store. A place where many people walk by. It was an old fashioned basket. Not made of plastic, but of woven straw… I opened it, and looked in. There was a nice collection of books… some of them, art books, methodically arranged. And a few video tapes. It reminded me somehow of the basket found by the Egyptian princess, within which the baby Moses was found. I could imagine the owner of those books, having realized that he or she no longer had room on his shelves for any more books, but not wanting to throw them in the trash, packed them carefully in the basket in the hope that some young student would find the basket and rejoice at the discovery of the books. It was a moving sight.

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Another image of this last week was the conjunction of some beautiful tulips that Chana brought over last Friday, warning me that they were beautiful but wouldn’t last long. Yet they are still beautiful after a week in my over heated home… and next to them, a bottle of tequila that my daughter Rivka brought when she came to visit, bearing enchiladas to cheer me up. The tequila was brought to get me into the proper mood to eat Mexican food. It was just right.

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eating an enchilada, Rivka

A blogging friend of mine, Corina, has posted that on this day, the 20th of February, a thousand bloggers plan to write about compassion, in concert with the United Nations World Day of Social Justice. So I would like to join the thousand, and ask that we have compassion for the snow. Here today and gone tomorrow… The snow first comes to us with pristine beauty… a pure white cloak that covers our world. And usually winds up looking like mud, and treated like an eye sore. Let’s remember that all of us are here on a temporary basis. And by the time we’re ready to finish our term, we’ve usually been stepped on a few times, and left a few puddles behind us. So here’s my vote of compassion for the snow. May you enjoy a warm and comfortable winter, with a bit of adventure to keep your spirits up.

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doesn’t snow look best with blue skies above?

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73 responses to “On a white Friday

  1. Beautiful post and lovely images. Yes, gifts come in all shapes and everywhere if we just keep our eyes open

  2. Ha ha, I like your comment that we are like the snow! Another delightful post.

  3. I am so happy now 🙂 You are here. Snow… in there… I can’t imagine, I will say but I can see now because of your photographs… We had and have snow too in Istanbul. The first day everybody was at home… 🙂

    The picnic basket with full of books made me excited. What a nice way to give someone as a gift….

    Snow and blue sky amazing….. Thank you dear Shimon, have a nice and warm weekend,kisses for lovely Nechama 🙂 Love, nia

    • Thanks so much, Nia. It is always such a pleasure to see you. And I’m happy to know that we enjoyed snow at the same time. The snow is clearing up now, buut we’re still having cold wintry weather. And I’ll certainly deliver your kisses to Nechama. Best wishes always.

  4. The snow figure lounging on the bench made me laugh. What a nice surprise to find the books in a basket. The snow and blue skies are lovely. I do like the comparison of being born white and new and ending muddy and used… here’s to being used to make snow angels, in snowball fights, to water gardens.

    • Yes Judy, the sculpture in the snow has become more interesting since I was young. Last year I saw a number of igloos that really surprised me. And just the other day, I saw a natural formation in snow that was already a bit dirty… but it looked to me like two birds looking at each other. I’ll have to find some excuse to post that shot. Snow angels sound very good. All the best to you.

  5. Beautiful, as always…such an amazing gift, the basket. I treasure the serendipity of my life! Keep your footing, Shimon!

    • Thanks Kathleen. Yes, it is wonderful to encounter the serendipity of life. And after I fell last year in the snow, I have been very careful this year. But thanks for the reminder.

  6. I heard that you were getting snow. It seems to be happening more and more often. Stay warm.

    • So far we’ve had two snows this year in Jerusalem, but I don’t know if it’s more than other years, Edith. Last year, it managed to cut off services for quite a few years. But I think that we forget quickly, and get surprised every time. Thanks.

  7. It is always a pleasure to hear from you, and I especially enjoy your diverse variety of photographs. I do hope that whatever is happening in your private life is being resolved satisfactorily. It can be very trying to find yourself mired down with ongoing issues, whether medical or otherwise, but I try to remind myself that the passage of time has a way of altering the landscape of our lives. Only two years ago this month, I was experiencing quite the adventure, moving into a new home, and now I found myself quite settled and comfortable.

    If today is a day to speak of compassion, then let me add my thoughts to the subject. Lately it seems I’ve been drawn to demonstrate compassion towards those that are often misunderstood – the complainers and whiners of our society. I recently took part in a group discussion in which there was one person that kept bringing the conversation back around to their own circumstance, rather than staying on subject. Not only were they were recently widowed, but they had also just endured the death of their mother, all while losing their livelihood and their home. The pain she was currently experiencing emanated out from her in every direction.

    Most of the people in the group grew bored with her repetitive reminders of her present circumstances, with some even casting disapproving glances or pursed lips in her direction. I decided on taking the opposite approach, and instead, approached her individually and gave her ample time to share her entire story, blow by blow, painful detail by painful detail. Of course, this was easy for me to do, as there have been countless times someone has given me the benefit of hearing my own story. Some stories need to be told until they have no life remaining in them, and only then can they finally be laid down and given some rest. As I listened to her tell her story of pain, every syllable seemed to bring her some measure of relief.

    So, if today is a day for compassion, then I vow to make a determined effort to hear others when they are trying to tell their story, rather than turning away from them. Sometimes, it seems, we may have nothing more to offer than a willing ear, but if listening to someone tell their story might bring them some measure of comfort, then it seems the least I can do is listen.

    I mirror back to you the words that you shared at the end of your post: May you also enjoy a warm and comfortable winter, with a bit of adventure to keep your spirits up. I hear you, and enjoy the sound of your voice, and welcome anything you might feel like sharing with us. Stay warm, my friend. And keep your spirits up. Much love, Nancy

    • I really loved your comment, Nancy. And it reminded me of a comment I made elsewhere, on this subject of compassion. I do agree with what you say. And think that in compassion, as in so many other areas of life, we have to overcome preconceived notions. It’s tricky sometimes. Some of the people who most need compassion, are those who get on our nerves… or those who just don’t understand, and show a lack of sensitivity to others. We are often asked to get close to a subject to understand it better. But sometimes it helps to take a step back, and realize that there is something universal about all our longings and needs. Thanks so much for your comment.

  8. How beautiful Shimon, this has warmed my heart today.

  9. Compassion for snow? Now, that made me smile. An old wicker basket filled with well-loved items? Did you leave it the items there or find a good home for them? Just wondering. Tulips that kept their beauty for over a week? Wonderful.Life does give us blessings and trials, large and small. Be well, Shimon. You’re always interesting.

    • So glad to have shared a smile with you, Myra. That’s my greatest gratification. And as much as I enjoy and admire the wonders of the internet and computer, books are still the key to transcendence.. of both time and space. Last night I heard about a book that both my daughter (living in another town here in Israel) and a granddaughter (on an adventure in India right now) are reading. I have just bought the book And now we are together for moments of the day, reading the same pages, each in his own place. Thanks for your comment.

  10. Shimon, I’m happy to hear you’ve managed some snowy outdoor adventures and made surprising discoveries, too. And how wonderful that your daughter and friends share lovely treats to warm the body and spirit. Sending love to you and Nechama, Shimon. I agree: snow is amazing, and anytime nature stops our carefully planned rhythms and invites us to focus on her miracles and beauty I consider a gift, indeed. 🙂

    • It is a gift, Kitty, and a wonderful drama. And I do enjoy a very sweet life with the help of family and friends. It seems sometimes, that the biggest challenge is not to take things for granted… not to become unfeeing by way of routine. Thank you so much for your comment.

  11. I do hope all is well re your personal life.
    Oh….how I LOVED your snow, especially the snowperson sat on the bench, that’s brilliant! I have never seen one like that before. How tranquil it all looks, I do like snow, so very transforming.
    Talking of no heating and candles had me thinking about my beautiful old boat, it was always magical in candlelight.
    That picnic basket is a marvelous find, what did you do with it?
    It’s good to hear the girls are spoiling you, long may that continue,
    Ha! I loved your take on snow, our fleeting, temporary time here and compassion, you could read paperbacks into that alone. Marvelous post Shimon, I did enjoy it.xxx

    • Yes, that snowperson on the bench was quite a find… and in the park right behind my house. I loved it too. I can imagine that you do have moments of homesickness for that wonderful boat. What a treasure it was. I love candlelight too. I can still enjoy it and do. As for heating, I find I need it more than in the past. So it’s quite a challenge without it. But still it’s possible, using older devices. Regarding my personal life, my dear Dina, for a while there, I was really suffering. But things are getting better now. Life has its challenges, and as we grow older, we lose some of the strength that we were able to rely on in our younger days. I left the books there, and joined the contributor in hoping that the right man or woman would come along, and really appreciate them. I have a large personal library, and have gotten to the place, where I only add another book if I really have to. It’s hard to find space for them anymore. Thanks so much for the comment. I do enjoy our connection. xxx

      • Ahhhh, sorry to hear you have been suffering, I am sending positive vibes to help sort whatever the problem was. I hope you are keeping snugy and warm, and fit and healthy now. Huge hugs to you. Look after yourself my friend.xxxxx

  12. Your chilling- out snow person has the right idea….what fun!
    Your interpretation of the picnic basket did evoke a memory of the vault of books in Shadow Of The Wind. My other thought was a security one: bags, baskets, cases etc left unattended. I like my first thought better and am, like you, interested in the raison d’etre behind it.

    Snow is very beautiful, though is a transient love. People living in USA are rather fed up with the number of heavy deposits of snow they have had this year. The icy,glittering love has overstayed her welcome there.

    It is good you did not go out to battle with the arrival of the icy conditions and that you waited till Madame Snow had calmed and settled. The manner in which you made your rendezvous was much safer and very pleasing.

    • I loved that image of the vault of books in Shadow of the Wind. It reminded me of some book stores I know, and a number of back rooms in the National Library here in Jerusalem. This basket had a lighter mood to it. Though I agree with you, here in Israel we’ve become wary of unexplained baskets and packages. But this time, I felt a kinship to the basket from the moment I first looked at it. And your right, menhir… almost everything in this life has a worth that is influenced by availability and portion. Even too much of a good thing is not all that good. Hope your recovery is going well. My best wishes to you.

  13. PS. I was given a bunch of tulips neRly a week ago, which are doing very well, some have now fully opened yet. They are like a breath of spring.

  14. Thank you for sharing your pleasant day with us, Mr. Shimon. The snow looks calm and beautiful. What an enjoyable dinner!

  15. It will be some months before my tulips bloom. You’re lucky! Enjoyed your post about snow. We have been almost, but not quite, shut down by snow. One of the largest in years, and temps were to -13 last night. I’m happy I was in a warm bed for that. Mary has had to park her car up at the top of the hill to our hollow and either walk home or ask our neighbor to come deliver her, using his pickkup which is able to conquer the hill. We are lucky. Some people are not able to leave their houses, but then, there are some who feign the ability to leave, knowing the government will pay them regardless. Sad. I do remember my first drink of teequila. It was on a night dive on Bonaire. I was just coming to shore and while standing in seawater up to my waist, a good friend handed me a bottle and said “take a swig of this, it’ll warm you up”! I’ll never forget that impact the tequila had on my virgin tongue and throat! Of course, now tequila is my favorite alcoholic drink.
    Be well Shimon

    • Very good, Bob, to learn your taste in things, and especially to discover your favorite drink. I too, remember my first taste of tequila. It was in a bar in Mexico, many years ago. The music was enchanting, and I was meeting new friends while traveling… And there was rock salt stuck on the lip of the glass, and I believe I got a lemon to such on while enjoying my drink. I loved it at once, and soon learned to drink it without the salt and lemon. And though tequila is available in our country these days, there is a terrible shortage of Mariachi music, and I’m homesick for it. As for snow… we usually get it in small portions… just enough to scare us a little… and thrill us a little, and then it’s gone. Thanks for your comment.

  16. Oh your final paragraph did make me laugh:):)

    How strange to see snow where you live, and definitely enjoy it from the window like Nechame….it’s way to slippery to mess around with.

    The red tulips are glorious and all the Mexican trimmings and booze…fantastic….and so the best thing to do is stay in and enjoy the above.

    I love the story of the picnic hamper with books. How lovely that was found by you and written about on your blog….
    Have a wonderful weekend.
    Where daughter, Christie lives in Boston, they have about 8ft of snow on the ground!!! Janetxx

    • It makes me so happy when something I write brings a smile to your face, my dear Janet… or when I can give you a laugh. Isn’t that the whipped cream of our communications… Those tulips are wonderful… and Rivka is always able to surprise me with her treats and dinner delights. Of all my children, she is my most regular visitor, and still manages to surprise me all the time. I can imagine how difficult it is for Christie with that sort of a snow storm. I hope she still had electricity and warmth through the worst of it. As long as the home is comfortable, it’s not so bad at all to have a little break in life. I’ve been enjoying your watercolors so much recently. My very best to you. xxx

  17. I always ask myself how s.o. can get rid of books 😦 I use to get a very deep affection to books, which they remember me a lot of my foregone days… I still have a lot of books nicely arranged inside boxes in my attic… one day I will get them out and star to read them another time!
    Well, now you have inherited a lovely picnic basket… soon spring will be here again! Tomorrow we will have again snow here as well: my daughter snow man (the last week’s one) still outside the garage door… a bit’ slimmed from the sun… I guess tomorrow Sara Luna will have to rebuilt another one! Have a lovely Sabbath, dear Shimon :-)c

    • Books can definitely be a problem, these days, Claudine. I used to have books lining the walls of my home, and I was completely surrounded by them… and loved them more than any other decoration or art. Now I try to limit them to just part of the house. But they do take up a lot of room. Thank you for your good wishes, and hoping that the snow will never be worse than a plaything for your dear children. My best to you and your family.

  18. What a lovely post. I feel like I have just spent a wonderfully cold and invigorating day with you. The picnic basket–a wonderful surprise! Take care, Shimon. Stay warm!

    • Very glad you enjoyed the post Loisa. I’m very spoiled and keeping myself quite warm these days, except for my walk each morning, which is necessary for health. But it does seem a good winter.

  19. There is snow in Ohio too. I hope you don’t have our frigid temperatures, though as this morning it was -15* F. We are covered wtih snow and expecting another 7″ tomorrow. Can Spring be far behind? I’m hoping it appears soon.

    • No, our cold is not quite that bad, Bev. But having experienced such temperatures in the past, I can point to one of the advantages. The air gets very dry when it’s that cold, and so the cold doesn’t penetrate the body quite as fast. Hoping it will warm up a bit soon, where you are. And yes, spring is getting closer for all of us. With my best wishes, and thanks for the comment.

  20. Lovely piece yours. The last paragraph reminded me of this.

    ‘A few light taps upon the pane made him turn to the window. It had begun to snow again. He watched sleepily the flakes, silver and dark, falling obliquely against the lamplight. The time had come for him to set out on his journey westward. Yes, the newspapers were right: snow was general all over Ireland. It was falling on every part of the dark central plain, on the treeless hills, on the Bog of Allen and, farther westward, softly falling into the dark mutinous Shannon waves. It was falling, too, upon every part of the lonely churchyard on the hill where Michael Furey lay buried. It lay thickly drifted on the crooked crosses and headstones, on the spears of the little gate, on the barren thorns. His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.’

    • Thanks so much for your generous comment, Katzenjammerz. To be compared with Joyce is more than I could have possibly hoped for. I remember discovering him in my student days, and falling in love with his prose. Good to see that some still remember him.

  21. I think my grandson, Anderson who is almost 5, agrees with your idea of compassion for snow. When it snows here and the snow gets piled up and ends up dirty and brown, he says to me “Nana, let’s get all the snow and take it home and wash it so it will be pretty again!”

    • That’s a very amusing idea from Anderson. And I hope he enjoys snow cones, and also making sculpture out of snow. Snow is a wonderful material that helps to teach children that things don’t have to be permanent for us to enjoy them… especially art things. Wishing you all a very pleasant winter.

  22. As I sit by the window typing this, the snow is falling. Looking at the cars in your photo, I anticipate we will get less, but there is an unknown because the ice-rain line is close … which could mean a period of ice. It’s been a cold winter for us, but nothing like last year’s brutal cold. Even with the current snow, we haven’t had that much – then again, compared to Boston the the northeastern US, this is nothing. Tequila? Not my drink of choice … use it in a margarita? … oh yes, I’m there!

    • Yes, a margarita is a lot of fun, Frank. And I would be glad to join you for one of those. Usually, one of the stages of our snow experience, whenever it comes, is ice. And last year, I fell because of that, and my knee hurt for about a half a year. I was beginning to think that the pain would stay with me for the rest of my life… but it did finally go away. Probably pinched a nerve or something like that. Ice is hard to deal with. My sympathies to those in the north eastern US. But spring will be coming soon… and with it, rebirth. Thanks for the comment,

      • I don’t think anyone anywhere deals with ice well. Meanwhile, I can’t imagine the amount of snow in the NE US. Simply can’t imagine. Good that to know the knee healed.

  23. I thought of you when I saw the news. I imagined you would enjoy the visual opportunities, the novelty. I too have always appreciated the break that a snow day brings, or a power outage – it reminds us that all we build is fallible, that we are small and that can feel so good. The picnic basket – wow, what delicious discovery. Love the way the clouds echo the snow in the last photo. Best to you!

    • Thanks so much, bluebrightly. Yes, there’s nothing like gaining a sense of perspective from a confrontation with the power of nature. I do like those breaks… and enjoy the snow especially because it’s so beautiful visually. Actually, I found a few beautiful pictures after this post was published… and I hope I’ll find a way to include them in future posts. Very good to hear from you.

  24. A lovely post Shimon with some lovely photographs. How nice that the picnic basket was left for someone to find. I do hope it went to a good home. I’m off to Iceland this week where there is an awful lot of snow just at the moment. For me this is a big novelty. When I was a child we had snow in winter. Now this is very rare indeed. Have a good week Shimon!

    • Hi there Chillbrook. Hope you’re having a splendid time in Iceland. I remember hearing, many years ago, that Iceland is the place where there is a lot of greenery, and Greenland is the place where you only find ice. If that is true, I hope you’re enjoying some of the lush greens as well as the snow which is there right now, and looking forward to seeing the pictures you’ll send back from there. It’s been a very full week for me, and sending you my best wishes for a very good vacation.

  25. I would never have thought of enchiladas in Jerusalem, I don’t know why. I definitely enjoy mine with a glass of wine, or maybe tequila in a Margarita. In California we rarely see snow, and I am sure everything would come to a complete halt if it did snow. It was good you could just relax and enjoy the cold and snow, and that you have compassion for it too.

    • Unfortunately, Mexican food isn’t that popular here in Jerusalem. We did have two Mexican restaurants some time back, and I used to visit them, taking family and friends with me to enjoy the fare. But there weren’t enough customers, and eventually both of them went out of business. Since then, we’ve had to make our own Mexican food, and my children still like it. I traveled in Mexico about 50 years ago and loved the country. The people were very warm and gracious, and reminded me a little of my own country. Thanks for your comment, Angeline

  26. I love that basket with the books! You’re right: It’s so much like Moses! We used to have one until recently, but I think we sold it at one of the ‘car boot sales’ we do here in England for people who want to get rid of things they don’t need any more, a bit like a flea market.
    I hope you’re keeping warm and comfy at home. It’s blowing a gale and raining here as I write. Take care.

    • I had the good luck to visit Mexico a number of times in the 60s, and just fell in love with that country and with the warm people. There was something about it… I’m not sure what… that reminded me of our country. Unfortunately, Mexican food never really caught on here. For a while, we had two Mexican restaurants here in Jerusalem, and I used to take the family from time to time, to enjoy the food. But both of them closed down eventually because of a lack of public interest. And now we have to prepare the food ourselves if we want it. But I do love the food. Glad you liked the post, Angeline.

  27. A delightful post, Shimon. I hope that basket of book went to someone who would treasure it. Love the snowman on the bench. Keep warm. 🙂

    • I too, hope that the books found their appreciative reader. As it happens, I have more than enough books. But I love them dearly. And they’re an important part of my life, whether printed on paper or digitally published. Thanks for the good wishes.

  28. Gosh it looks cold with you. But how magical is the snow person frozen to the bench, and that very fine basket with its books. Tulips and tequila – so many good things, Shimon.

    • Yes, the cold does get to me at times. If I’m exposed to cold for too long, I start feeling sad. But my home is heated very well. And after a nice walk in the snow, I enjoy looking out at it through my large windows, and enjoying the winter scenes. It’s been a very beautiful Winter so far. Thanks for the comment, Tish. Really liked your recent pictures.

      • I don’t do too well in cold either, but it’s good if one can focus on the splendour of things around us, and that is something you do so well. I like the way we can share our different land- and townscapes, and the bits and pieces of our lives.

  29. A picnic basket filled with books? A veritable feast for the mind! A loaf of bread, a jug of wine, and — what? Proust? Kafka? Shel Silverstein? No, not Silverstein. No one ever would give away Silverstein. At least, they shouldn’t.

    Snow is wonderful. Not only is it pretty, it quiets the world. It’s like hanging draperies in an empty room. It muffles and softens the sound. I do like the snow sculpture on the bench. When we received a heavy snow some years ago, some artistic sorts built a snowman on the Galveston seawall, a snow surfer. The statue he’s next to is a memorial to the 6,000 who were killed in the great hurricane of 1900. It’s a beautiful expression of compassion, too.

    • No, no Shel Silverstein. And I agree with you… it would be very hard to give his books away. Have you heard any of his songs? I picked up an album of his many years ago, and just love it to this day. Afterwards, I discovered that he had written songs for other artists as well, and tried to collect them, though I’m pretty sure that I haven’t heard them all yet. He was a wonderful artists. And also drew some very humorous cartoons. But the songs are what captured me. I would love to see that statue of the snow surfer. Sounds very good. Thanks for the comment, shoreacres.

  30. So much good cheer in this lovely post Shimon! The news reports had me not only excited for you but also looking forward to your views which are so rewarding, compassion and celebration with enchiladas and tequila, excellent!

    • Thank you for taking part in my excitement. And yes, it was very exciting. It’s been a good winter so far, with two snow storms. And of course, life goes on with all the pleasures and pains. Glad you enjoyed the post.

  31. Thank you Shimon. It was good hearing frm you. Jeruselum doesn’t look much different than Connectiut. Have a Happy Pesach

    • And thank you very much for your good wishes, Barbara. You can see here, just how far I fell behind, in answering my comments. But I never give up. I keep trying to catch up.

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