Monday, July 29, 2013

My New Partner

The rest of my house is a mess and I have absolutely no intention of cleaning it until tomorrow but yesterday, I cleaned the studio from top to bottom wiping down all the surfaces including the blinds, window sills and baseboards, and moving the furniture to vacuum in every nook and cranny including the desk chairs, the love seat, and the fabric dust on the serger and sewing machine. And then, I set up my new partner - an air purifier - right next to the sewing machine.




After one extremely negative comment regarding my over-talking about my allergies, I've avoided mentioning them on the blog. And I understand. It does get rather old rather fast but what most people don't realize is how severe and disabling they are. I can't just take a pill and they are increasingly limiting my choices not only with food but with what I can do and where I can go because I'm reacting to more and more smells. Just a whiff and I get a sudden and viscous headache, severe shaking, the urge to throw up or feeling like I'll pass out, itching all over but especially on my face, swelling in my hands and feet, a cold sweat, stomach cramps, nausea, and crying... all of which are rather embarrassing and extremely frustrating especially in public.

If you've been reading the blog for a while, you know that I quit my job at Fabricland because of my reaction to the finish on the fabrics. Crying while cutting fabric just doesn't work. It isn't pretty and it isn't professional and that was okay at the time because with my own stash, the fabrics are prewashed the minute they come into the house and - up until last week - there was no problem. And now there is.




All of the garments for my daughter were sewn from polyester spandex blends. As the week progressed, I felt worse and worse and was shaking so badly it was difficult to line up the fabric edges and pin them together. Because this had never happened to me in the studio before, I didn't start to figure it out until my son commented on Wednesday that the studio smelt funny and on Thursday, when I came down in the morning, it hit me like a wall. I think the off gassing was influenced by the predominance of synthetic fibers combined with steam and pressing. Either way, it wasn't working.

I finished the garments on Saturday and packed up all the yardage and remnants and then cleaned the studio thoroughly on Sunday. By the evening, I was starting to feel somewhat better. It's VERY scary. I can handle the thought of sewing with natural fibers only - even though they are far more expensive - and rarely in the bargain center - but I cannot handle the thought of not sewing at all. It's how I breathe so... the windows are open, my new partner is turned on, and all prayers for healing are being gratefully accepted. And then... as if that was not enough...




... my trusty Bernina - which I bought used twenty years ago - and is probably close to thirty years old - has been struggling to maintain tension and stitch length. She went to the shop a year ago and shortly after started acting up again and the situation has worsened to the point that seams are puckering and pulling up. At that time, she was gone for five long... and painful... and I never wanted to go through that again... days so I bought a back-up machine.

On Sunday, I pulled it out and set it up. I'm grateful to have it and it's not at all the machine I'm used to. The Bernina is a solid, mechanical machine with metal parts. This one is computerized with plastic parts. It feels cheaper, sounds tinny, and doesn't reverse in zigzag which is a stitch pattern I use extensively for bra work HOWEVER... it actually is a good machine and, after a long and loyal life, the Bernina needs a tune-up and to be retired to second machine status. I'm lucky to have this new one. I bought it for this exact reason. I own it, it's paid for, it works, and I imagine I'll get used to it within a few weeks.




It fits in the cabinet - sort of - I'll need to adjust the height somewhat as it's sitting about 3/8" too low but I'm glad it fits in the opening. At first, I thought I'd need to buy a new template but this one from the Janome I had years ago works great. It's broken at the back but a piece of tape will do the trick if it causes a problem. Right now, it's sitting securely without it.

My friend Lorraine sews on an industrial machine. When she was here yesterday, she told me that industrial machines are ergonomically designed for less stress on the body. They are set further back in the stand with working room in front, resting spaces for the arm, and no need to tip your neck. That makes sense.

After she got back home - 1 1/2 hours away - she emailed the measurements. Her needle is 8 1/4" from the front and mine is 8". That should be good although I might try pushing the machine even further back in the opening as I have another template that could be cut to fill a wider gap. I'll try both positions when I'm sewing this week - something for me - because I've finished all of the garments for Jessica. Along with two trial runs that didn't work out, I sewed three knit tops and a skirt. They're all going in the mail this afternoon.

I enjoyed sewing these for her and I found it stressful. There's a reason I don't sew for other people. I think from now on, when I am willing to sew for someone, someone I love very much, that someone will need to be in the studio. I definitely need a body ! ! ! !




The last piece was Simplicity 2058 using this black with green circles print. We'd intended to use it for a top but then The Slapdash Sewist posted her dress from the same fabric and we decided that such a powerful print might not work well in a top for Jessica. I'm glad. The skirt is FABULOUS. It's a shaped, flirty, silhouette that would make up beautifully in a lot of fabrics. I traced the pattern in my size too - LOL.

My daughter is 5'6" tall with a 17 1/4" center back length. She likes her tops 24" long and her skirts 25" long which is absolutely PERFECT. Patterns are drafted to those proportions. I didn't have to make any length adjustments. With the skirt, I cut on the lines and sewed. So different from me. I'm not quite 5'4". My center back length is 15 7/8" and my top length is 23". I have to take length out above the waist and add it back below the waist which is a LOT more fiddling. If (when) she sews, she'll see how lucky she is to have her height and proportions.

This morning, my friend Patti is bringing over her latest stack of creations. I'm in awe of that woman's out put ! ! ! and so grateful to spend time with her each week. It's inspiring. After that, I'll look for natural fibers in my stash and decide what I'm going to sew next - possibly another Marcy dress in linen.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - natural fibers

37 comments:

  1. Glad to hear that you are taking care of your allergies. Though my allergies are different than yours, they do make me feel miserable when they kick in. I have said if we get another place, we will have a hepa filter put in so the air is well filtered. We had special filters put in one of our furnaces and I was amazed at how much dust it picked up.
    How nice for your daughter to have new clothes. One of the things I hate about sewing for others is the lack of the body to fit the clothes on to. One reason I am getting out of it after this summer.

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    1. We have a special filter in the furnace for pollens. That helps but we may consider changing it to one that removes chemicals. The air purifier I have we bought twenty years ago when Howard first became ill and it's quite powerful. The room is improving steadily.

      LOL - you keep saying you're getting out of it. Let me know when you're actually out. I'm cheering for you.

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  2. "After one extremely negative comment regarding my over-talking about my allergies..."

    oh, fiddle on them! i know that people don't like hearing about other people's health problems, because i have them big time. A lot of people don't want to have to think about death, disability, not being able to work, etc. Lucky them, and shallow and self-centered them too. You are not forcing anyone to read your blog, and if they have something they really need to say they are welcome to go start their own. As it says right along the top, this is the Myrna blog. /rant off

    oh, i'm excited about the DD package! I have pretty similar vertical measurements and it does make sewing much easier. And that does look like a great skirt - don't you love being able to "audition" fabric, etc. online?

    i would feel very sad if my Bernina had to retire, so i feel ya. But very very smart of Myrna to have another machine waiting in the wings! The last time i had my machine serviced the shop provided a replacement machine for the 2-3 weeks, it was great but i spent about half an hour cleaning the thing before i used it. i finished a pair of jeans with that one, so i was psyched!

    Best of luck with the air filter. My mom finds they are very helpful. And have fun with your next project for you!!! Happy Day! steph

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    1. I think it is important to talk about things for the sharing of information. There are so many helpful comments today. I'm grateful. OTOH - it's good to be reminding that you might be wallowing. I don't want to do that.

      I'll be waiting to hear how the clothes fit Jessica. Just showed them off to my friend Patti and now I'll wrap up the box and get it to the mail.

      After Howard's work has - finally - settled their contract situation, I'll take the Bernina in and see if they can replace the tension gauge or stitch regulator or both. Whatever it takes. LOVE that machine.

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  3. Oh people with seriously negative comments can go stuff themselves. Write for yourself, no one says they have to read it. I like your balance of life and sewing and as someone who has allergies (granted far less severe than what you are experiencing) I like hearing about how you are coping with that too.

    That's really neat information on the differences between industrial machines and home machines. Kind of silly they don't make the home machines better for us, it makes sense.

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    1. I'm glad you enjoy the balance of life and sewing. I don't imagine I could write any other way. It's how I think.

      There is enough room in the opening to push the machine back another 2" and it's so easy to see that I'm going to give that a try before I decide which template to go with. The difference between home/industrial probably has to do with set in a cabinet and portable. With the home machine, we can set it back further on the counter top if we choose. It's probably more of an awareness that it might actually work better further back.

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    2. Fair point about being able to adjust a portable machine on the table. I do position mine a little farther back than it looks like some cabinets would position a machine. I just sew on a metal desk so it's deep enough to have some options.

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  4. Myrna - so sorry that you haven't been feeling well. Good that you figured it out (I imagine that sometimes it's hard to identify exactly what is triggering them). Still...I'd be scared and sad too. I love to sew. Hope the air purifier helps. Someone commented about furnace filters. My boy has seasonal pollen allergies and that seems to ramp up his allergy to the dog (which we, of course, figured out after we bought her), so "in season" we change the filters in the furnace and have a small purifier for his room. This plus some allergy meds for when it's extremely bad seems to do the trick for him.
    Enjoy your day with your friend. I agree about sewing for others - with my Mom visiting, it's much easier to fit her. Hope you have a good day today!

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    1. Thanks. Eventually I'll get it figured out. We have the "pollen" filter on our furnace now and it does work great.

      Patti only stopped by for a visit. Usually about two hours. We get together once a week so she'll come over next Wednesday and meet my friend Caroline who will be down visiting for a week. It's wonderful to spend time with friends.

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  5. You know, not that it's any of my beeswax, but what you are describing sounds more like chemical sensitivity than allergy to me. Spandex is latex, and lots of people - including me - are sensitive to latex. Allergy pills don't help with chemical sensitivities.

    A book about chemical sensitivities I treasure is Solving the Puzzle of Your Hard-to-Raise Child, available used on Amazon for under fifty cents [the hard-to-raise child being myself!]. Another one is The Highly Sensitive Person. Books don't solve everything, but they can shed a little light on things.

    Other chemical sensitivities of mine: nutrasweet [panic attacks, tunnel vision], all scented products [headache, irritability], MSG [weepiness]. I work to live clean, and I do pretty well.

    Thanks for talking about what's bothering you. That's what we're here for, dearie.

    Pamela

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    1. LOL - you can mind my beeswax any time. Your comment is very helpful. I learned a few years ago about the connection between some pollens and foods and now I'm learning about connections between foods and chemicals. I am deathly allergic to shellfish and very reactive to kiwi and banana which are all associated with latex. I now request no latex for medical and dental procedures. The connection is interesting. I will check out the book. Thanks.

      Another thing I find interesting is the hormone connection. All of my allergies have developed at times of hormone shifts and - if it isn't too much information - my cycle disappeared for ten months and then came back with a vengeance two months ago and since then, my reactions have been really bad again. Not. Fun.

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  6. Your blog; your rules. I would block the person who made the "extremely negative" comment.

    Pamela's comments re: chemical sensitivity make sense. Good luck on figuring out what works!

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    1. Thanks for the encouragement. It's greatly appreciated. The positive comments far outweigh the negative ones and I find that as unfriendly as they may appear, there is either a positive intent behind them or a message I might need to hear.

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  7. I would completely ignore negative comments. Does the person not think that this gets old for you, too??? And you can not escape it by choosing just not to read the blog!

    Sorry to hear that you've been having problems. I think talking about it helps in some ways. Certainly helps the blog to be more authentic!

    I have to say, that I was wondering about the allergy thing when you were talking about taking up hair coloring. I was remembering the issues you had at the Fabric Store, and thinking that hair coloring smells would probably be even worse! I was wondering if the allergies had gotten better, or you hadn't connected the dots there yet.

    But because you hadn't talked about allergies recently, I decided to keep my mouth firmly shut, being as it's none of my business. But I was being a little worried about the hair coloring decision. And was happy when you decided against it.

    Sorry about your Bernina, too. Hard to say goodbye. Interesting also about commercial machines being set up differently. I wonder how/why it evolved that home machines are different.

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    1. LOL - this is definitely getting old for me. I'm hoping at the end of menopause it all settles itself out. Talking about it helps if only for the support and tips. YES YES.

      I was worried about it with the hair too. The thought occurred to me this morning that there could be a real need for a scent free salon. There's an interesting marketing advantage IF you could but so hard to do. I can tolerate this smell and not that and everyone's would be different.

      Hopefully the Bernina can be fixed. I think the industrial/home differences are set in a counter and portable and adjustable to personal preference so us home sewists can actually move the machine forward or back to a comfortable position. I just hadn't though about back being more comfortable.

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  8. I have chemical sensitivities to harsh cleaning supplies, polyester batting when I am quilting, and the big one is commercial carpeting. When the carpeting is being installed my eyes start watering, I get itchy and if I am around it too long my throat starts closing up. So far when I leave the building things get better. I believe it is a combination of cutting the carpeting and he glue used. It takes at least five days after installation for me to be in the building.

    I don't know if polyester fabric fabric is manufactured in the same way it was in the 1960's and 70's. The fabric store I went to back then the owner was having problems with her eyes, her two employees did not. She started going blind and was considered legally blind. She was told that it was from the fumes of cutting polyester fabric everyday for years.

    Those of us with chemical sensitivities have to be aware of them and stay away from what is causing the problems.

    I think it is important for you to talk about your problems for the rest of us to be aware. You never know when it can affect you or someone you know.

    Thank you.

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    1. Yes... all that and more. Thank you for understanding. I definitely do not want to go blind. That's so scary. I imagine I'll be leaning more toward natural fibers from now on or at least spacing my synthetic projects.

      Along with the change in my cycle that I mentioned in an earlier reply, we also had vinyl flooring installed in the studio and that has a certain smell and glue that is most likely a part of the problem. Hence the filter and the window open. URGH!

      It is good to talk about it especially with people who don't think you're crazy; they understand.

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  9. Myrna, I hope the air purifier helps and you feel better soon. I'm partway through a book called Super Immunity by Joel Fuhrman (MD if that makes a difference). I mention this because in the book, he talks about a patient of his who eliminated her allergies by following his heavy-on-vegetables diet. It may be of interest to you.

    And I agree with the other comments: your blog, your rules. Negative people can hang out elsewhere.

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    1. Interesting what you're saying from the book. I'll see if I can get a copy of it. Have you read about the blood type diet? I mention it because I'm a type A and A's often have autoimmune issue, are allergic to the foods I'm allergic to, and should eat a mostly vegetarian diet. What you're saying goes with that and is certainly worth investigating. Thanks.

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  10. Egad - that's horrible M. I hate the smell of certain fabrics but I've never had such a reaction. I do understand the interplay between nausea and headaches though, so I fully sympathize. On the topic of the machine, I will say that you're always ready for any occurrence between 2 machines and 2 sergers. Very smart.

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    1. LOL - but one of the sergers is living nine hours away right now. Hopefully the Bernina can be fixed.

      I sympathize with your headaches. It's so not pretty.

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  11. I love the clothing that you have been making for your daughter.
    It always makes me feel good if I can make something for my daughter that she will like. She asked for placemats last year and received them for Christmas. It is always fun when we are invited for dinner and she uses the placemats.

    ALWAYS your blog...your rules.
    Allergies and sensitivities to man made products can really cause life threatening reactions.
    Several years ago I knew a family with three little boys with extreme allergies. They never opened the house up at all. They had a furnace filter that electrically 'killed' or eliminated allergens. It worked!
    If you have both types of allergies...and that is what it seems to be, then you will have to find different methods to protect yourself.
    A former co-worker had to totally build a new home from scratch to eliminate all the "things" she was unable to be in constant contact with. No rugs. No curtains. No wallpaper. You name it, if it was a problem for her it did not go into the house. It worked!
    Take care of yourself. Prayers going out to you.
    Karen W. in S.W. Ohio

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    1. I'm mailing the box to Jessica this afternoon so I'll be interested to see how they fit. Hopefully good enough that we just need to fine tune when she gets here.

      My husband is reactive to burnt fuels including candles and gas and wood fireplaces and exhaust. When we were researching what was wrong with him, we came across someone who had built an environmentally "safe" house. It's amazing what can be done and so wonderful.

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  12. S good that your son's nose led you to the source of the problem. I've found that when a sensitivity is triggered that the body remains on high alert, at least for a time. So (on the dangerous terrain of unasked for advice) it might be wise to just use natural fibers for a while at least. A little TLC for oneself goes a long way .... Elle

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    1. I agree with you. I'm sticking to natural for a while. It's like a flight or fight reaction. The whole body is on adrenaline overload and your stress hormones are not having fun. I appreciate the advice. Not a problem.

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  13. Sorry to hear about your chemical sensitivities--I have them, too. I had a drapery/upholstery business for a year and decided to quit because all the different foams and fabric treatments were sometimes debilitating for me. Especially bad were the fabrics for commercial projects, which are required by law to be treated with flame retardants, and often are treated right before they come to the sewer. It sounds like you did the best thing in removing the source of the irritation--glad to hear it continues to improve.

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    1. I know exactly what you're saying because I react the most strongly to the upholstery and drapery fabrics in the stores, sometimes even to finished furniture. How wonderful that you could shift. Hard but at least you (I) had that option.

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  14. I must add my voice to the other comments, that I am very glad that you have figured out a possible way to ease your symptoms. There are so many toxins that are applied to or a part of our everyday modern life, with unexpected results, and we are the "guinea pigs"... I say boo-hiss to whoever made negative comments about your very valid allergy concerns! I find that reading about not only the successful projects, but the challenges that my fellow bloggers find (and find ways to live with, what works for them and what does not) are what make "blogland" more real to me. I understand about not wanting to have the whole content be all about health issues, that is a different sort of blog than what you focus on, and I had to make some choices about that on my own blog when I was diagnosed with cancer last year... health concerns are a real and sometimes overwhelming part of life, but they are not the whole of our lives. By focusing on the creativity and artistry in life, it has allowed me to remember that the struggle of the body is only part of why I am here, that the struggle of my spirit to grow and develop is equally important, but that the two are joined. Hopefully your efforts to detoxify your home studio will be successful! I send you all my good wishes for increased health and artistry!!

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    1. I think it's going to take a lot of possible ways but I'm definitely working on it. Food and smells have certainly become a major issue in our time.

      Last year, when I was going through the lump thing, I chose not to talk about it much either. I wanted to focus on the positive because I do think - as you're saying - that one influences the other and I wanted all the positive energy possible coming my way especially as it was such the "year from hell". I could only take so much. Glad that's over.

      Thank you for the good wishes. They are much appreciated.

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  15. Ah, I was hoping that no mention of allergies for so long meant that your sensitivites had eased, sorry to learn that is not the case. Hope your strategies to take care of yourself begin to pay off quickly and that you (and your machine) are back humming along together soon. Like many other commenters I can't imagine why anyone would feel compelled to comment negatively about any content you choose to post; perhaps they were (clumsily) expressing concern rather than disapproval?

    Your journey brings so much joy and energy to so many - thank you

    Ceci

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    1. They hadn't gone away but they had gotten better for a bit and then I had another hormonal shift and... they're back with a vengeance. Sigh. Something will pay off eventually I'm sure. I'll keep working at it.

      A couple years ago, I read in a book about making the decision to "assume positive intent". The way in which the comment was worded made it extremely hard to do that. Impossible actually.

      What a lovely compliment. Thank you.

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  16. I am a great believer of a person's blog being their playground and you should be able to write whatever you want to. If anyone is not happy about that they have the option of not reading and moving on to the next blog. So poo to them.

    Will we get to see the items on DD? Love the look of that skirt.

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    1. LOL - and I do. For the most part. It was a not so lovely but definitely needed prod to go in a new direction. All is good. I will still talk about what I want to talk about and it was months ago.

      I'm not sure if Jessica will send pictures. I hope so. It depends on how well things fit but I'll let her know they're wanted.

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  17. It is your blog so write what you want. If people don't like it then they can stop reading. I have known a few nurses that are sensitive to latex. The more they were exposed to latex the worse was their body's reaction. Each exposure got worse and worse. When you handle fabric with spandex, you may need to wear non-latex gloves and a face mask to protect yourself. Glad that you are feeling better.

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    1. LOL - I thought about that exact thing yesterday - to wear a mask especially for the fluff coming off the serger. It wouldn't have to be forever or for every fabric but I think it could definitely help. Thanks.

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  18. I'd forgotten about the diet for blood type thing. My new sil is very into that concept....helped my brother tremendously with his allergies. And he says that he just plain feels better overall when he follows the diet for his blood type. He has more energy, his mind is clearer.

    I was thinking again about the negative comment/assume positive intent thing. It's hard to tell sometimes, and even if it's blatantly rude, you're correct that in thinking that just because it hurts your feelings doesn't mean that you didn't need to hear it either. As my mom always used to say, there's a kernel of truth in everything, you just have to find it.

    Funny how we come to care about our bloggers, as if they were personal friends. And our personal friends would share the good and the bad. We want to know if our friends are having troubles, even if we can do nothing to help...we can send good thoughts.

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    1. I first read about the blood type diet YEARS ago when my husband was first ill. We were trying everything to find an answer. It helped me more than him perhaps because I saw some validity right away since almost everything I was already allergic to was on my type's negative list.

      The phrase assume positive intent and the awareness that 99.9% of the time "it's" not about me have both been really helpful to moving through life. Sometimes it is about me and sometimes that comment was mean but as you said, there's often a kernel there to be aware of.

      It's great to be cared for and thought of as a friend. For many of us, we spend a lot of hours alone and/or in our studios and it's good to know that that support group is there. I appreciate it greatly.

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Thanks for commenting. I appreciate the feedback and the creative conversation.