Refugee Sponsorship (and cats, and lego)

July 25, 2020 at 3:01 pm (Daily Awesomeness, general life, With a list)

On the 13th of June (although, as usual in 2020 time, it feels like a million years ago) I switched my rationality off and wrote a big list of stuff I WANT. It ranges from the tragically unattainable (“I want Syria to be okay”) to the obviously psychological (“I want to stop feeling like God is mad at me”) to the shockingly complex (“I want to be a good parent”) to the financial fantasy (“I want a second storey on my house so we can see the mountains”).

A lot of entries are financial fantasy, if I’m honest. (A friend said to me the other day, “You know what your problem is? You’re not rich. I recommend you get rich.”) At the moment our whole household is bent towards replacing our air conditioning system (a really nice—and expensive—system which unfortunately for our finances is necessary for my health). It’s a horribly familiar feeling to be unable to afford medically helpful stuff (like a CPAP machine).

Moving on. Here are some items on the list that are of note:

I want my cats to do their business outside so I never have to deal with it… but at the same time, to be prevented from hunting native birds or animals.

Our yard is narrow (maximum about 3m from the house to the fence) but it wraps around three sides of the house. The main back door leads into a nice area in the corner between two of those sides, where a parent can sit and see the whole yard except for a narrow weed-bound strip that is 1.3m wide next to a windowless wall. We call that bit “the junk area”, “the jungle” (weeds grow over 6 feet there), or “the cat zone” because when the weeds are reduced and there’s bare dirt or mulch, it’s a perfect outside cat toilet.

Zipper likes it, and I’m confident that as Zoom grows bigger she’ll use it too (at the moment she’ll only go outside if there’s a human nearby… or sometimes she’ll follow ZIpper, but not far).

So the first part of the above wish was always relatively simple. The second part, not so much. I’m aware of a product called the ‘Oscillot‘ which basically just attaches to the top of a fence and flips the cat back down to the ground when they try to jump out. It’s simple and brilliant but costs around $50/metre and our yard is long. Then I saw a home-made version of this $700 deluxe cat enclosure:

The thing that inspired me was the very wide holes in the netting. Could we possible hook large pieces of netting between our house and the fence? That would enclose the space without making it too shady or too vulnerable to strong winds (which rip through more solid materials). Since that epiphany we’ve put shadecloth (which we already had) over the cat zone and we’ve mostly dealt with the weeds (and put newspaper underneath to hamper their growth—the shadecloth itself will also make it a less appealing area for weeds). So this dream is looking much more plausible. And we can do it bit by bit, section by section, until it’s done. In theory.

I want a bigger house, so Louisette has more room for her toys and I have more room for my ideas.

Even as a baby, Louisette has always obsessively arranged her favourite toys around her on the floor. This is… not ideal for anyone else. But I recently found out that people with ADD have an odd relationship with object permanence. Yes, technically they know that people and objects still exist when they’re not directly in front of them… but then again, sorta not.

Louisette will often take 6-10 trips from her bedroom to the living room in the morning, bringing out a large number of her toys and arranging them very carefully around her as she watches TV. It helped a LOT to give her an ancient laptop so she can watch TV in her room (and yes, I know that’s terrible parenting). But a few weeks ago we decided to go all-out on supporting her style and we let her have the entire converted garage for herself (sort of… there are still lots of bookshelves in there, and a spare bed). So that’s 6m by 3m. It includes a massive desk (1 metre by 2 metres) which is where the laptop lives AND a-l-l her lego. (One of the few rules I gave her was “No lego on the floor – ever”). So she watches TV and plays with lego (or does art, or plays with her other toys, or whatever). She also has a ‘babies’ area, a ‘Barbies/dollhouse’ area, and a ‘Doc Macstuffins’ area. Plus lots of open shelving.

She is thriving, and she almost never brings toys out to the living room. It’s only been a few weeks, and her room looks incredibly messy at first glance… but it’s arranged and rearranged and played with in very specific and orderly ways. And her lego creations are incredible. It perfectly mixes her inventing ability with her imaginative ability, and lets her both express herself and problem solve at the same time. She’s an 8 year-old lego master.


Of course I ended up with even less room to move/breathe, because I’m the only tidy person in the house (Chris also has ADD, and Tim appreciates tidiness but he’s 6 so there’s only so much self-regulation he’s going to do). Oh well. It’s not like the escape room is operating at the moment anyway, thanks to COVID-19.


I want to know refugees are looked after and welcomed, not just into safety (in Australia) but into living communities.

I want to know I’m making a difference.

I want my ‘good ideas’ realised.

I want to help Indonesian refugee families (but I’m also super shy and awkward).


If you’re one of the three people who regularly follow this blog (I’d say “Hi Mum” but my mum isn’t one of you), you’ll recollect my ‘castle’ idea from here and here. Basically, I wanted to build a big beautiful house (that looks like a castle, with lifts in the square towers for disabled access) in which to live while also providing short-term accommodation for disabled Indonesian refugee families. Because they’d be in ‘my’ house, I would find it (relatively) easy to support them with stuff like social events, English lessons, driving lessons, play dates with my kids, babysitting, some unskilled paid work (eg gardening/cleaning) to fill in gaps while they looked for regular work, and so on.

Well it looks like the core part of the castle idea—which is not the castle, but assisting refugees—might be coming true as early as 2021.

In 2018, The Refugee Council of Australia, Save the Children Australia, Amnesty International Australia, the Welcome to Australia initiative, Rural Australians for Refugees and the Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce joined to form the Community Refugee Sponsorship Initiative. The entire idea is that non-profit groups of at least 5 people commit to looking after the financial, emotional, physical, and cultural needs of a refugee or refugee family.
That is EXACTLY what I want to do (and given my shaky health, being part of a committed group is clearly a good idea).
Now, obviously looking after the financial needs of an entire family for twelve months is not a simple or cheap commitment. Even ‘just’ raising that kind of money is going to be really difficult. (If the refugees are able to work, and to get that work quickly, great! But that’s by no means a given, especially if they’re disabled and/or have limited English. And the whole world is reeling economically already so it’s not exactly a good time.)
Send me an email at if you’d like to help financially. I’m asking a lot of people for $100 each, and have had only one ‘no’ so far so I’m well on my way to my first thousand.
And I’m limited in my helpfulness because I’m at my best in my own home but it’s unlikely the refugee family will be able to travel easily, especially at first. Which leads me to a smaller but still impossible dream: to find an investor to rent out the house next door to ours. It’s not technically for sale yet but I’ve been talking to the owners about this for a while and they’re likely to put their house on the market in the next 6-12 months. If a friendly investor bought it, perhaps I could negotiate to use it as a refugee house (so the refugees were nice and close to me). Maybe I could even commit to organising ‘bridge’ payments between groups of rent-paying refugees so the investor was literally better off for working with me.
Easy, right? Plausible, maybe? Why not?
(Are YOU interested in helping refugees and making money doing it? Or do you know someone that’s been thinking about buying a property to rent out to people? Email me…
Anyway, so that’s where things are at for me right now. Certain impossibilities are falling neatly into place. Others remain.

And Zoom jumped into the hammock with me (and TJ) the other day, so that was a win.

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I’ll tell you what I want, what I really really want

June 13, 2020 at 5:14 am (general life)

The biggest personality difference between Chris and I is that Chris is so calm that if he was any calmer he’d be dead, and I am so stressed that I basically vibrate 24/7. We have a ‘stone and feather’ kind of relationship where he is strong and steady and I might be fragile but I can FLY.

I want things. Not just in a capitalist way, but also in an almost spiritual way. While a lot of people struggle to come up with ideas, or to follow through on ideas, I am very bad at letting go of ideas. And I have plenty. Even if, magically, everything on this list came true, I would definitely find something else to want. It’s my nature.

Sometimes, it’s worth writing down what you want, even if it seems impossible. So that is what’s happening today. Some of these things are more possible than others. Some are obviously self-serving and/or motivated by some kind of deep-seated psychological issue. Oh, and Louisette is mentioned a lot (while TJ isn’t) because TJ is doing great in every area and Louisette is mostly great but there are threats to her happiness on every side (mostly because of her ADD).



I want a jacuzzi and an easy-access lap pool. Both at my house, or as close as possible.

I want a building that looks like a castle. It doesn’t have to be mine; I just want it to exist. In Canberra, because of me. And to be able to go and visit it in some capacity at least once. Maybe for the Conflux Speculative Fiction Festival?

I want a disability-friendly evac centre (or several; one in each major area of Canberra at least).

I want to know refugees are looked after and welcomed, not just into safety (in Australia) but into living communities.

I want to know I’m making a difference.

I want my ‘good ideas’ realised.

I want to be out of debt.

I want to be able to give away money; lots of it. Often. To writers, artists, disabled people, single parents, my own family, people of colour, and refugees (especially Muslims and/or LGBTIQA+ folk).

I want to write. Pretty much every day.

I want to be a good parent.

I want to stop feeling like God is mad at me.

I want LGBTIQA+ people to stop feeling like God is mad at them.

I want LGBTIQA+ people to feel safe and welcome at all church events.

I want my house to be both clean (bathrooms, kitchens, etc) and tidy (toys etc).

I want Louisette to be safe from bullying, and to have close friends at school.

I want the kids to go to a Christian high school (ideally a reformed BCC due to the location, and existing friendships).

I want Climate Change to be acknowledged by politicians and public figures as the most crucial challenge of our time, and for the world to change dramatically in order to deal with it.

I want lots of solar panels on my roof, and double glazed windows, and excellent AC – ie a house that acknowledges and deals with Climate Change (and my specific temperature needs). And I want that for every house in Australia and Indonesia and the US and China and the world.

I want deliberate stupidity and harmful lies to be illegal, and prosecuted, particularly when it comes to Climate Change, COVID-19, racism, asylum seekers, immigrants, and the sick/poor.

I want my cats to do their business outside so I never have to deal with it… but at the same time, to be prevented from hunting native birds or animals.

I want to not push myself so hard I get sicker.

I want a second storey on my house so we can see the mountains.

I want a bigger house, so Louisette has more room for her toys and I have more room for my ideas.

I want to recoup my losses from Murder/Magic in the Mail (ideally by selling all the stock I have, but magically without exhausting myself putting the packs together).

I like running the free pantry but I want more cash for it so we’re not losing money.

I want to help Indonesian refugee families (but I’m also super shy and awkward).

I want Aboriginal Australians to be safe, and to be healed from generational trauma.

I want Muslims to be safe and welcome in Australia.

I want LGBTIQA+ people to be safe, physically and emotionally, in Australia and around the world.

I want women to earn the same amounts as men, and to do the same amount of household work, and to be allowed to be intelligent, and to be respected by medical professionals. Even when they’re fat, or disabled, or mentally ill, or pregnant, or mothers.

I want disability access to be standard for all new houses, and for disabled people to have the housing and support they need.

I want disabled lives to matter as much as non-disabled lives. Ditto fat lives.

I want to stop being phobic of my kids (and of kids in general).

I want to not be so tired, or so anxious.

I want to be cured of sleep apnea. And migraines. And HS. And sweatiness.

I want my house to be a place friends and family want to come to.

I want to be a mother hen, but not to become overwhelmed by others’ troubles.

I want my marriage to be better (it’s already pretty good).

I want to travel (and for my body to be able to handle it), especially to see our Hong Kong family.

I want Hong Kong to be safe from China’s looming chokehold. Tibet, too.

I want Syria to be okay.

I want off-shore detention centres closed down, and all asylum seekers processed quickly and fairly, and refugees welcomed into Australia rather than left to die at sea or in their home country.

I want the Rohingya people to have a home.

I want USA Republicans to stop believing Russian troll farms and other sources of lies (particularly their own leaders).

I want Christians to be known for their love, not their hate and/or stupidity and/or casual evil.

I want to feel special.

I want to use my brain.

I want to feel loved.

I want to be a better writer.

I want to be much less overweight.

I want my eyes to work properly, and see better.

I want Louisette to be able to say full sentences without getting distracted and mentally checking out.

I want new, fully functional iphones for me and Chris and our friend whose phone is broken. [Edit: He has a working phone now.]

I want to enjoy healthy food.

I want to do God’s will.

I want our house to be big enough to comfortably host large-ish gatherings (30-50 people) and/or to host a family or two during disasters.

I want to be well enough to wear fancy clothes.

I want to look good in fancy clothes.

I want someone else to run my escape rooms and make money for them and us. I want to be able to poke my head in sometimes.

I want Chris to be happy. (Which he is, mostly.)

I want Chris to work closer to home (or at home).

Things I want that I already have:


2 great kids

2 cats, including a kitten

A house

Peace in my country

The ability to vote

Nice sunsets

Good friends (for me and Chris and the kids)

Many books to read

Many books to write


Published novels

Writer friends

Non-writer friends

Friends with/without kids

Some pretty clothes

Some comfortable shoes

The ability to shop sometimes, both online and not

Loads of chocolate and lollies and brie

Lots of great TV and a comfy couch

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May 16, 2020 at 5:36 pm (Cat pics, general life)

I’m still alive, but spending a bit more time in the real world, which is not a bad thing. Thanks to Zoom, life is pretty good.

She is handling a leash and harness very well, so the other day Louisette and TJ and I took her into the backyard.

During the outside time she was mostly getting used to the usual smells and sounds of our neighbourhood, so it was the perfect time for Operation Hammock Kitten.

Sure, she doesn’t look comfortable. But that’s because of being outside rather than anything to do with the hammock. She’ll need to stay on the lead outside for many months to come, but she has no fundamental objections to the hammock so this is a win.

Then of course the kids each wanted a turn:

I’ve also been doing a foolish and irresponsible (but fun) thing, which is that when Zipper is very well settled and Zoom is sleepy, I pick up Zoom and move her over into a snuggling position with Zipper. Zoom doesn’t mind this at all; Zipper is not such a fan.

I know I shouldn’t push it, but it amuses me. (And Zipper doesn’t freak out and kill Zoom, which is of course important too.) Zoom has been with us two and a half weeks, and she’s looking distinctly rounded in the middle so I’m slowly cutting down the amount of food I give her.

Oh! And we solved the litter box problem by giving Zoom a second litter box. Strange but true. It was inspired by doing some reading and discovering that some cats prefer to have one litter box for solids and one for liquids. Zoom definitely uses both boxes for both (and Zipper has been pointedly adding her contributions too), and now I have two litter boxes in my tiny bathroom… but no more accidents. So, good.

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How am I?

May 11, 2020 at 11:16 pm (Fully Sick, general life, Mental illness, Mum Stuff)

First, some kitten content. Specifically, a rambling video of Zoom (and sometimes Zipper) playing.

And now for something completely different. The rest of this blog entry will be all about how I’m coping. Feel free to not read it.

Some restrictions have been lifted, and schools will be taking kids back from next week. It’s clear that a vaccine for COVID-19 is still a long way away, and that governments are under considerable pressure to pretend things are normal and safe before they actually are. A lot of people have been sharing a graph of the deaths from the Spanish Flu, showing a much bigger second wave (and then a rather large third wave as well). Others are pointing out that the restrictions are getting lifted not because things are safe out there, but because there is currently room for more patients in the ICU.

Also, I have diabetes (and an auto-immune disease or two) so my chance of dying is considerably higher than the norm.

Also, those who recover from COVID-19 are just beginning to discover that it has left them with major long-term health problems. Being familiar with long-term health problems, I really really don’t want more.

So no, I don’t plan to send the kids back to school, even though it’s so terribly hard to have them here. They’ll stay home for at least the rest of this term. Although I do plan to arrange some playdates—carefully. My family had a Mothers’ Day get-together yesterday and we joined them after lunch (on the basis that sharing food is extra hazardous), but didn’t see Chris’s side of the family. We’ll visit them for TJ’s 6th birthday day next month, and this coming weekend he’ll have a “party” with precisely 2 friends (held outside, while at the same time Louisette has 1 of her friends over, and they play together inside).

But. Still no school, and for a long time.

Zoom is, obviously, a fantastic source of fun, amusement, and cuddles. Feeding her three times a day (down from six now) is a bit of a hassle, and cleaning up her constant weeing in my bathroom is… not great. But as far as mental health goes, she’s an enormous plus.

I’m the kind of person who would do really well living alone and isolated for months at a time. But that’s not my situation at all. I have one kid who I barely see (luckily for my ability to care for her), and one who wants to be with me, talking with me, for most of his waking hours. So the funny, clever, energetic TJ is… a lot.

My plan for schooling is to set up and loosely supervise the half hour Zoom classes each kid has, plus a little bit of writing practice for TJ (he practises reading with Chris at night). He’s not missing friends too badly (in fact he refuses to speak to them on Zoom), and he’s so obsessive about computer games (including educational ones) that he’s way ahead on both reading and maths.

For Louisette, I plan to do some reading with her each day, and to keep up with her maths assignments.

I’m reasonably happy with how things are going with TJ, but I’m quite far behind with Louisette (who is the one who needs more schooling).

Having said that, one or two good days with Louisette could catch us up on the maths stuff.

So maybe I’m doing well after all. It doesn’t feel like it. I have an alarm set for 9:30am so I can be dressed ready for TJ’s 10-10:30am class (if I remember, I set up Louisette to do Cosmic Yoga at the same time). Then I typically fall asleep until my alarm goes at 1pm and it’s time to put my bra back on ready for Louisette’s class. But a lot of times lately I fall back asleep either during or after Louisette’s class, and I don’t do anything directly with her. Oh well.

Having written it down, I’m not all that far away from my goals. And sure, I’m not getting much done lately, but that’s life. I have tired/useless periods and I have other times when I do well. All I really have to do is wait until I have a good day and hope it lines up with a good day for Louisette.

And I’m missing doing writing, which is a good sign.

Wish me luck, and health. I also had a phone call today about my Disability Support Pension application, which means I had to focus on all my physical and mental issues. It’s exhausting, because I usually try not to think about stuff directly. And I suspect it will lead to more forms, which is terrifying and difficult. Oh well. One step closer, presumably.

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The Virus Diaries: Slowing Down

April 26, 2020 at 3:41 pm (Cat pics, Fully Sick, general life, Mum Stuff)

I’ve been blogging daily since beginning self-isolation on March 15th. I’m not technically running out of things to say, but I am running a little lower on the urge to blog. So I’ll stop doing daily blog entries soon.

It will be a long, long time before my kids go back to school. For me, that’s the main thing (assuming my loved ones and I continue to avoid the virus… which is a lot more likely the longer I keep the kids home). Term 2 officially begins the day after tomorrow and I get panicky whenever I think about it. Ugh. And it’s very likely that there will be a second wave of COVID-19 starting exactly 2 weeks after schools open. Yuck.

Anyway, here’s Zipper being annoyed at me for taking a picture.

Don’t panic if I don’t blog tomorrow (or even for the next week or two): it’ll be laziness, not illness, that stops me.

Art of the day: Have you tried interactive fiction? It’s like those Choose Your Own Adventure books from the 80s, but these days it’s usually digital (which gives it a glorious flexibility eg you can choose your gender) and sold as apps. There’s a huge amount of fantastic content available from Choice of Games (and their unofficial label, Hosted Games, which has published me several times).

My stories are the pirate adventure Scarlet Sails, the magical steampunk tale Attack of the Clockwork Army (which happens at the same time as my third steampunk novel, and features some of the characters), and the cozy murder mystery Death at the Rectory. I’ve also been part of two group-written games, the retro scifi comedy Starship Adventures, and the portal adventure Lost in the Pages.

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The Virus Diaries: Social Distancing is a Skill

April 25, 2020 at 12:10 pm (Cat pics, Fully Sick, general life)

It is really really hard to stay 2 metres away from people in public. It feels rude and even a bit insane. I’m not good at it, and my kids are terrible.

We’re all going to be a lot better with more practice, and there are a lot of things (like shaking hands) that will feel icky forever (which, according to Dr Fauci, is a good thing).

Correction: some people will get a lot better. Others will give up.

There’s considerable social pressure in both directions, and not in a political way—in a “getting through the day” kind of way. It’s a relief for me to stay at home where I don’t have to think about it until/unless I open the front door. But I’m trying not to give up the rest of the time.

Here’s Zipper looking heroic, by way of inspiration:

Art of the day: I’m now reading the Old Kingdom books, so there’s at least one person following my own recommendations.

Mishell Baker’s Arcadia trilogy is amazing. The main character is severely mentally ill, and has attempted suicide before the books begin. So, trigger warning. But I find it strangely therapeutic as the book is crammed full of people trying to cope with an array of mental health conditions. Also it’s a cracking good story.

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The Virus Diaries: 3 things I want

April 23, 2020 at 11:14 pm (Cat pics, Fully Sick, general life)

A lot of people are talking about how the world will change post-pandemic. Here’s what I am most desperately hoping for:

*Way more funding and resources for the World Health Organisation and for various stockpiles around the world. And, frankly, for science in general.

*Very tight laws to prevent people spreading misinformation, especially politicians, news-based sites and shows, and those with a wide reach (such as celebrities and talk show hosts). Yes, free speech is important and must be kept free, but that needs to be modified by NOT rewarding lies. And it needs to be done in an apolitical way despite the fact that one side of politics is way more tolerant of lies (and has a stronger ‘bubble’ of repeated misinformation) than another. This will be really difficult and a lot of people will hate it, but it really really needs to be done.

*Massive worldwide improvement in environment stuff to combat Climate Change, including way less car and air travel. (Of course I still want air travel to be cheap, as I have close and beloved relatives in Hong Kong. But it’ll probably get way more expensive.)

*More people reading for pleasure. (I may be a tiny bit self-interested there.)

What do you hope will change once COVID-19 is done?

Art of the day: I’m not aiming for kids’ entertainment any more (although I often read and love young adult books). The Old Kingdom books by Garth Nix. It started as a trilogy: Sabriel, Lirael, Abhorsen and now has a prequel Clariel and a sequel Goldenhand. I think it’s best experienced in that order but it’s very hard to say.

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Farting My ABCs: Chapter 15 (the end!)

April 23, 2020 at 11:12 am (Cat pics, Free story, Fully Sick, funny, general life, Mum Stuff, My Novels)

In which Louisette attempts to merge with a bush, and TJ performs a fart dance.

Well, there you go!

Today, Zipper ALMOST managed to get her collar off. But instead she got it stuck around both her neck and one leg.

I laughed when I realised, which did not help matters as she fled into TJ’s room. We all backed off, and soon enough she was in her cat box ready to be caught and freed. She’s fine now—not that she deserves it, the little punk.

Art of the day: Er… how about Farting My ABCs? I’m tired; shut up.

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Farting My ABCs: Chapter 14

April 22, 2020 at 7:33 am (Cat pics, Free story, Fully Sick, general life, Mum Stuff, My Novels)

In which I make lots of farting noises while a neighbour (not pictured) attempts to garden.

I stayed up all night and DID finish The Floating City, and sent it off the the publisher, who very graciously let me know right away that they had it. I also saw the sun rise, and gave my kids a good morning hug before going back to bed.

And yes, I feel amazing.

I know what to work on next, writing-wise, but I plan to pause for a week or two and try to steer my creativity towards household things for a bit.

Art of the day: Only Freaks Turn Things Into Bones, which is actually a gothic picture book, and an utter delight.

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Farting My ABCs: Chapter 12

April 20, 2020 at 1:48 pm (Cat pics, Free story, Fully Sick, general life, Mum Stuff, My Novels)

We’re in the home stretch of the story now. Four more chapters, including today.

I’ve been running several errands in the local area because of the food pantry (fetching and delivering food). My driving is terrible lately; I’m fascinated by everything I see outside of my own house. And then I’m shaky for an hour afterwards—much worse if I actually interact with a human.

A lot of people are developing obsessive-compulsive disorder and/or agoraphobia at the moment. Fun!


I officially finished my post-sensitivity reader edit of The Floating City, my interactive climate fiction novel. I’ll spend some time playtesting through the endings and then officially submit it. It is FREE HERE… and if you spot any errors let me know via and I’ll add you to the thank-yous.

Art of the day: I’m re-reading The Girl Who Drank The Moon by Kelly Barnhill. It is heartbreaking and beautiful and kind and fun.

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