Jubilant Community

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The Weekly Photo Challenge theme this week is “Jubilant“.  I’m sharing the abundant flowering of a clematis I bought three years ago at WalMart. In its first year it had less than five blooms.

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Thinking it wasn’t feeling too much at home here, I nestled it among good things; roses, lilies, shrubs. I gave it the proper light and good old-fashioned fertilizer. And I remained … waiting.

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In gardening of any kind there is so much waiting!

In its second summer it was just a scraggly green bush. Cute. But so shy! And so I waited another year.

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And it finally opened up!

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And blossomed unimaginable!

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 No more shyness. No more hesitation.

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 In fact, as the quote says, it is a perpetual astonishment. We are nearing June and it’s full of buds.

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The vine is branching out beyond. But it’s still connected to home. Through the wind and rain it’s held tight.

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It’s all become its own little community. The vine gently weaves a pattern with the flowers. Together they reside. Yet the tender flowers are never destroyed. Nor is the vine ever suffocated by the broad, expansive flower.

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Look how they cling to each other as good friends. Neighbors. Caring for, looking out for each other. And the seed pods are so abundant that next year I’ll need to add another trellis. This community is growing! Good neighbors do that.

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Good neighbors promote growth. And speaking of neighbors …

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What ever happened to being a good neighbor? Watching out for, protecting, sharing, loving, being kind?

Different, but dwelling together?

Whatever happened to “community”? Real community. Real people rubbing shoulders with real people. In the earlier photo, the clematis is neighbors with the lilies, roses, and shrubs. All different. But look how beautiful together.

Today there are all these “online communities” and believe me, I’m all for them.

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But sometimes I wonder if we’ve forgotten how to be with real people. We sit in our temperature-controlled environment and pluck away on the keyboard or our smartphones and call it community.

And another thing I see as I scroll through social media is how easily it is to be unkind. Words filled with so much venom. I wonder would they be that way if they were face-to-face?

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Somehow, I think not.

There’s an abundance of words and opinions nowadays. And I am definitely a free-speech warrior. But imagine the human—the actual real live person. Think about your words before you type. And work toward a jubilant display such as this. Nurturing beyond just existence. Nurturing to grow.

Good neighbors.

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Can we not do this? Whether online or in person, is it so hard to do?

Peace, Alexandria

 

 

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Best Buds |Weekly Photo Challenge: My Happy Place

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When I saw the photo challenge titled “Happy Place” the words that immediately came to  mind were “travel destinations”—places that invoke that glorious feeling of combined rest and joy, one definition known as “happiness”. I thought of places I’ve been (North Myrtle Beach).

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or places I’ve dreamed of going (Moorea).

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When I went to Acadia National Park (above) I thought, “Oh, now this it. This is the ultimate, the place to unwind, to get away.” I was happy!

However, travel can bring its own stresses, as we all know. The planning, packing, and getting to-and-from can be tiring. You’ve heard people say, “I need a vacation from my vacation!” 🙂

a rainbow in the sky."

It can feel like chasing the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow,

Moon Shadows

or trying to truly capture the presence and majesty of another breathtaking moonrise,

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or that ever elusive butterfly.

But when you’re in immediate and desperate need of joy, finding a happy place cannot always be found by thumbing through travel guides for yet another trip or even dreaming of those places.

It’s times like that I totally forget a happy place that lives right out my front porch. Most of the time I find I’m looking beyond it, rushing past it toward some goal, the “next thing”, that place called “when I finally get there, I will be happy!”

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I forget the happy place staring straight at me. It’s a place where they’re straining their necks to grab me, to get my attention, to make me stop in my haste to happiness and see that they are what I really need;

that they live, they thrive, they exist to make me happy! (I’m convinced they serve no other purpose.) They are my never-ending friends, through every season, through every joy, through every sorrow. They are constant and oh, how I take them for granted!

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They remind me that we both endure some thorny paths and sticky situations,

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that I’m not the only one out there feeling so alone,

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drowning in life’s demands,

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and kind of hanging by a thread,

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or in need of a hug;

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that while we pass each other everyday in the coming and going, we can still rise and hold our head high, together, and shine in the sun!

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You see, when you have best buds you can find happiness no matter where, no matter what. 🙂


I write this in honor of my friends and family, my “best buds”. Thank you for being just a phone call away. I always miss you.

Peace, Alexandria

 

Hydrangea Joy | Weekly Photo Challenge: Vivid

Hydrangea Joy

Vivid

Grand

Generous 

Abundant

Joy-giving

Smile-maker

Favorite flower

Enjoy!

Peace,
Alexandria

Fragile, Handle With Care | Weekly Photo Challenge: Broken

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“Words and hearts should be handled with care, for words misspoken and hearts when broken are the hardest things to repair.” ~ Unknown

Ever do this? Say something then feel the immediate twinge of regret? You wish, how you wish, you could somehow take them back. But they stick like glue. Sometimes they are just casual, oh so casual, “I didn’t really mean it.”

We utter them right off the top of our head, just because we need to talk–oh, how we need to talk,  to say something—oh, how we always need to be saying something.

Sometimes they are tinged with hints of sarcasm—just enough hint to hurt.

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Sometimes we lash out in anger. And that’s the worst kind—so far from kind.

And then there’s the so unkind kind that cuts … deep, sometimes scarring to permanence—like a car that’s been wrecked and declared totaled.  Total damage.

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If we would but look into the eyes, we would see the heart of each.

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But no, we shrug away, whispering, “So what.”

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Our culture actually takes pride in telling someone off. We hang on to the brash words of reality television and celebrate the celebrity spewing trash-talk. Bullying is a problem among our children. It’s like we celebrate hate.

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What have we become?

Yes, conflict is part and parcel of life. But my mother used to say “Fight nice.” The word hate was so repulsed it was never allowed in our home, under any circumstances. Not even an “I hate brocolli!” was permitted.

Words can build or destroy. Choose them wisely—choose to soothe, heal, protect, build.

Happy

Why not declare to say, today, words tinged with, dare I say, … love?

And if you have nothing to say, it’s perfectly okay to just say nothing.

“Even fools are thought wise when they keep silent.” ~Proverbs 17:28a

Spent, or Well-Spent?

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” ~Plato


This is my contribution to the Weekly Photo Challenge with the theme “Broken”. I chose to use the theme in the context of “words”, which can break and shatter as powerfully as they build and heal.

Our modern world is filled with an abundance of them. Sometimes even one sentence can wreak a force as destructive as a volcanic eruption. (Think Twitter with its mere 160 characters. It packs a powerful punch, doesn’t it?)

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Our WordPress community continues to be a safe haven for words, a place where thoughtful expression is wrapped in respect for everyone. I’ve found it to be thus far, and I hope it continues.

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“Let your speech be always with grace.” ~Colossians 4:6a

Peace,
Alexandria


For other interpretations of the Broken Challenge, I hope you’ll take some time and visit here. You’ll enjoy the endless creativity of WordPress photographers, both amateur and professional. Enjoy! 🙂

2014: So, What’s New?

image“It’s time to rise and shine. Wake up and make the day mine. In this brand new world. I’m at the starting line.” ~ Unknown

In these United States the main form of modern communication is now text or email. Being a culture on the mega-move, we’ve gradually resorted to a number of cliché’s to reduce wordy material or communicate big ideas in as few words as possible.

Our language is woven with phrases like “please summarize” and “just cut to the chase”, or “say it in a nutshell”. (Origin: Pliny tells us that Cicero asserts the whole Iliad was written on a piece of parchment which might be put into a nutshell.)

My personal favorite is the latest method of email to my manager: “Bullet points only, please.” I like that she adds “please”. 🙂

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This is what I see when I think “bullet points”. 🙂

But for someone like me, it’s all highly problematic. Words fill my mind from morning to night, desiring a written home. But time constraints wisp them away, gone forever. Plus, brevity must be accomplished lest I lose all you wonderful folks to the land of Rip Van Winkle!

I try to be brief but what’s a girl to do who can ping a life lesson from something so simple as a solitary tree? One glance and I’m off!

Lo, How We Age

“Oh, oh, oh I could write, from morning to night, words flood my brain, like torrents of rain, but minutes skip past, and they’re out with a blast, of wind-tossed aloft, and cannot be caught. But I do catch a few, to share here with you.” That’s from yours truly here. 🙂 See what I mean?

But my annual report arrived from WordPress. Total visits. Top posts. Countries. So, bullet points it is! Hence the title “What’s New?

First, what’s new is record-breaking traffic:

  • 15,000 views, up from 2013 and over twice the 2012 traffic.
  • Grand total: Nearly 39,000
  • 136 countries. Thank you very much for stopping by, whomever and wherever you are!imageimageTop Five Posts:image
  • 1. Christmas Reflections This holds first place since published in December 2012. It’s a personal favorite of mine and the starlight on the photos were a glorious accident with an iPhone lens that was probably smudged! Take a look and see what you think!I2. Thanksgiving Reflections Another post from 2012 and it remains at the number two spot since published.
    ThankfulnessBoth of these are ever popular during the holidays and can be found on the first page of Google and Yahoo search engines during the holidays. How do you suppose that happened??? I don’t rightly know but I’m not complaining!

So that “sums it up”, “in a nutshell”. 🙂

“O God, I could be bounded in a nutshell, and count my selfe a King of infinite space.”~ William Shakespeare

Farewell Fourteen!
Alexandria

Inside the Thorns {A Poem for You Today}

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When life gives you thorns …
“Lift your hands toward the holy place, and praise the Lord.” Psalms 134:2

DSC_0842When life gives you thorns …
“One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today.” ~ Dale Carnegie

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“A single rose can be my garden… a single friend, my world.” ~ Leo Buscaglia

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“Some people are always grumbling because roses have thorns; I am thankful that thorns have roses. ” ~ Alphonse Karr

Lo, How the Rose Enduring

Mystifying, life defying,
Wrapped inside the
deadly piercing.
Delicate, yet
Strong emerging.
Not weathered torn.

But …

Beauty dazzling,
Lightly rising,
Fragile petals,
buds reach praising,
Inside eye
of dreadful storm.

Shall we fare less
inside our thorn?

DSC_0857“When life gives you thorns, grow roses.” ~ Alexandria Sage


I marvel at the rose, how that beauty thrives with the near clutches of thorns. The life of this fluorescent beauty doesn’t just ho-hum grow up. It is pricked by those thorns it’s entire existence, yet it not only thrives, it blooms. Delicate and bold. Tough and tender.
As life pricks us, may we learn to grow–not hardened by hardship–but strong, malleable, generous, kind, compassionate–the qualities of true beauty.
Peace,
Alexandria


Poem by yours truly. 🙂
Photos taken with Nikon D60 with AF-S Nikkor lens 18-55 mm. No post-processing, editing, or cropping.  It’s the same rose, different views.
Perspective matters, doesn’t it?


Related Articles:
Weekly Photo Challenge: Endurance
yi-chin ling: much of enough comes
The Silver Leaf Journal: The Struggle to Endure

EverSpring

The Vernal

“Everything is blooming most recklessly; it it were voices instead of colors, there would be an unbelievable shrieking into the heart of the night.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters of Rainer Maria Rilke

After the darkest, frigid, snowiest, iciest winter I think I’ve ever endured, finally came the day when spring began its gradual, grand entrance.

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“It’s spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you’ve got it, you want — oh, you don’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!” ~ Mark Twain

And it seems one of the most beautiful I can remember. The flowers are abundant, dripping in buds, and more colorful; the grass greener and lusher than I think I’ve seen in years.

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“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant; if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.” ~ Anne Bradstreet

And my soul mirrors the unfolding—my song called hope.

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“Spring shows what God can do with a drab and dirty world.” ~ Virgil A. Kraft

I’ve endured many winters. But not just the season called “winter”. There’ve been other types of winter, winters more unbearable than the actual season. They are winters called “heartache”, “loss”, “tragedy”. And when you think about it, these winters can hit at any time.

Raise Me Up

“That God once loved a garden we learn in Holy writ,
And seeing gardens in the Spring I well can credit it.”
~ Winifred Mary Lett

Tragedy knows no season, no night, or day. Blustery winds and downpours rush in with no forecast, no warning. Blizzards can chill your heart any day, any time.

First Rose

First Rose of 2014

“The beautiful spring came; and when nature resumes her loveliness, the human soul is apt to revive also.” ~ Harriet Ann Jacobs

But spring reminds us there is always hope, that “the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” {Lamentations 3:22-23}, and thatGod is our refuge and strength, a very present help in times of trouble.” {Psalm 46:1} and “when you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you.” {Isaiah 43:2} 

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So welcome spring with its promises of hope. Real hope springs from the Eternal One, and yes, it does take faith to turn to God. But He is the EverSpring that arrives in the midst of every winter. He really does show up.

Peace, Alexandria


This is my contribution to the Weekly Photo Challenge with the theme “Spring”. Though some of my perennials did not survive, others returned with a force so powerful that each day takes my breath away. I’m out taking lots of photos so I’ll be sharing Spring with you the weeks to come, maybe into summer. 🙂

 

Dances with Daffodils

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“Awake, thou wintry earth
Fling off thy sadness!

Opening Numbers

Fair vernal flowers,
laugh forth Your ancient gladness!” ~ Thomas Blackburn

Within

“O Love-star of the unbeloved March,
When cold and shrill,

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Forth flows beneath a low, dim-lighted arch
The wind that beats sharp crag and barren hill,

Best Friends Forever

And keeps unfilmed the lately torpid rill!” ~ Sir Aubrey de Vere Quotes, Ode to the Daffodil

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“Friendship is a shiny thing, a steady beam of light
A lantern on a lonely street, a song far in the night

Singular Beauty

A smile,  a touch of loving hand,
a quiet moment on a hill
And, oh, what a happy little child bringing home a daffodil.” ~ Unknown

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“She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,

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 And whispered to her neighbor:
“Winter is dead.”  ~ A.A. Milne

Happy

Like many this year, the street views outside my window have been winter barren in the most extreme sense of the word. The branches of my beautiful trees faced me everyday, some days covered with ice, some with snow, days filled with grey. And just when I thought they’d faced the worst, there came more. Storm after storm after storm.

My trees wear beauty in any season, any weather. But this winter, one of the worst ever, tested them. I’d peek out the window everyday and my stately trees stood staring, branches outstretched, as if to say, “When is enough? How long? This seems never-ending.” And me, warm inside, unable to soothe, joined their song of longing. It seemed to linger forever. They bore the stark beauty of winter proud. And we waited as one. Drawn in, still, preparing for the day of green. And then the day came.

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Cold, frozen ground gave way to green, gave way to buds, gave way to these yellow lovelies pushing through, popping up out of the ground.

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Yes, the days remained cold and windy and gray, but one day the sun shone bright. And I could no longer contain myself. Leaving a sink full of dishes, the rays irresistible, I ran out and joined all of them. I threw a blanket on that frigid ground and got under them, over them, and around them in a contortion of child’s play, smiling and laughing among a sea of yellow dancing. And hmmm … was that birdsong I hear? Ahhh … just a little more time, my friends, and we’ll be dancing with the sun on our back and spring in our step!

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“Daffodils that come before the swallow dares, and take the winds of March with beauty … ” ~ William Shakespeare

This is but one view of  life on my street. On the last post I promised you daffodils. As you can see, I kept that promise! I hope you enjoy. 🙂

Happy Spring! Alexandria

{Photos taken with Nikon D60 with Nikon DX AF-S Nikkor 55-200mm lens, in RAW mode. If you want any metadata you’ll have to contact me. Thought if you clicked on the photos you it might be there, but not so. I recently took another photography class and this is the first roll-out of photos using full manual mode and applying some of the new techniques. As per usual, there is very minimal, if any, post-processing–nary a crop except the first one. Most are completely untouched. What do you think?}

Other street views I enjoyed:
My Cyber House Rules
Beyond the Brush
Thoughts and Entanglements
Blogagaini
Depth of Feelings
Life in the Foothills
Find Later Photography

 

LifeLines | Weekly Photo Challenge: From Lines to Patterns

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“Life forms illogical patterns. It is haphazard and full of beauties which I try to catch as they fly by, for who knows whether any of them will ever return?” ~ Margot Fonteyn

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“Nature uses only the longest threads to weave her patterns, so that each small piece of her fabric reveals the organization of the entire tapestry. ~ Richard P. Feynman

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“It will be very interesting one day to follow the pattern of our life as it is spread out like a beautiful tapestry. As long as we live here we see only the reverse side of the weaving, and very often the pattern, with its threads running wildly, doesn’t seem to make sense. Some day, however, we shall understand. In looking back over the years we can discover how a red thread goes through the pattern of our life: the Will of God.” ~ Maria Augusta von Trapp

The past summer I did some mission work in Guatemala. The facility was neat and clean but fairly simple and slightly barren. The place faced the constant threat of active volcanoes and earthquakes. During a brisk walk to get supplies for my task one day, my eyes were struck by sudden brilliance.

In the midst of stark barrenness, among the scaffolds and rebar, as well as environmental threats, there it rose. A stunning, strong Bird of Paradise in full bloom.
It reminded me that amid the tangles and briars of life, against all odds, God can take any thread in our lives and weave it into a tapestry of hope. Nature continually faces the unpredictable with grace and resilience, and emerges strong and beautiful.

If God does this with His creation, will He do no less with us?
“The way to break a pattern of negativity is to face anything negative with love.” ~ Molly Friedenfeld
Peace, Alexandria

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This is only one of many wonderful photo interpretations of the Weekly Photo Challenge with the theme: From Lines to Patterns

Inside the Thorns

DSC_0835

When life gives you thorns …
“Lift your hands toward the holy place, and praise the Lord.” Psalms 134:2

DSC_0842When life gives you thorns …
“One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today.” ~ Dale Carnegie

DSC_0836When life gives you thorns …
“A single rose can be my garden… a single friend, my world.” ~ Leo Buscaglia

DSC_0828When life gives you thorns …
Some people are always grumbling because roses have thorns; I am thankful that thorns have roses. ” ~ Alphonse Karr

Lo, How the Rose Enduring

Mystifying, life defying,
Wrapped inside the
deadly piercing.
Delicate, yet
Strong emerging.
Not weathered torn.

But …

Beauty dazzling,
Lightly rising,
Fragile petals,
buds reach praising,
Inside eye
of dreadful storm.

Shall we fare less
inside our thorn?

DSC_0857“When life gives you thorns, grow roses.” ~ Alexandria Sage
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Another contribution for NaPoWriMo 2014.
Poem and photos by Alexandria Sage. Photos taken with Nikon D60 with AF-S Nikkor lens 18-55 mm. Photos have no post-processing, editing, or cropping.  It’s the same rose, different views.
Perspective matters, doesn’t it?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Weekly Photo Challenge: Inside

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