Hello from Sunday night

Well then!
I’m feeling terrifically accomplished and successful and even am getting this post up on Sunday night! :D …although I’m hopelessly behind on commenting, visiting and replying to my comments. Boy, blogging is hard work. And to think that today I told Robbie that he really has to have his own website to showcase his brilliant designs. (What a rotten girl I am making more work for him!)
He said his YouTube and his forums were enough for now…unless I want to write his blog posts! 8O

But it’s been a wonderful weekend round here for us. C and I went climbing on Friday, instead of our usual Wednesday, and I was very pleased that I got to the top of two of the easier routes. (And to think I was doing this on cliffs 30 years ago. Oh well, I’ll work up to it again.)

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Saturday I stopped at my favourite nursery, Southlands, and had to take a photo of these brilliant signs Thomas put out. Yes, that’s my cart, those are my beautiful plants…hands off you pleb! LOL

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There was a plan to go to Costco. You know, that soulless, breathless, black hole of a box store, but neither C nor I could face it and so, citing hunger as our excuse, we drove past it to Ikea…OK, another soulless, breathless, black hole of a box store, but much more fun!

We had a little lunch and then walked thru it sitting on all the furniture, testing it for comfort and exploring all the rooms…(you know you love doing that)…

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…and having a general gigglefest. At one point, we made a video of C riding one of those huge shopping carts and bumping into the stacks of prefab boxes and sent it to R. Made him laugh.

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And then, we drove in exactly the opposite direction from Costco and ended up at the George Reifel bird sanctuary!

I’ve been worried about the world’s bees these past few years, and was so pleased to see the hawthorns, and all other blooms, buzzing with bees.

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We were so happy to see babies at the Reifel! Can you resist the yellow, baby bums? I can’t. So far one pair of Canada geese have three chicks and one pair of wood ducks have fine. The breeding cranes lost their first egg clutch to a bastard mink, but they are sitting on a second egg. Fingers crossed.

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While I was up in the observation tower, I heard a strange bird call. No idea what it was, so decided to go investigate. The marsh is wet and boggy and no way to get off the paths, but I met a birder, an older gentleman, who told me it was probably a Virginia Rail. Then, on the way back, we met the sanctuary biologist, (who took a shine to C), who sang the call back to us and told us that the Virginia Rail chicks are much cutter than the Canada geese chicks. Impossible we said. He said, “take the goslings, multiply that by cuteness X 100% and make them a ball of grey-black fluff and give them legs which are miles too long for them.” Oh man! Now I want to find one!

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And then for something completely different! By 4pm, Costco was out of the equation, but groceries still had to be bought, so we had to stop at the store and I found this sexy thing! I took some photos for Robbie and put one up on Instagram. My son commented, “Eewwwww…Plymouth Prowler…C’mon mom!” and tagged me on a “real” rat racer! :D I’m like “what?” :D And had to tag him back on some brilliant photos I took of some rat racer earlier in the year. “Better” he said. :D

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Saturday night C and I heard fireworks and ran upstairs to the studio and watched a lovely display on the downtown waterfront. Lucky us!

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Sunday morning I had a decision to make. I stopped at an antique shop on Saturday and found a beautiful journal. Someone who had a laundry business in 1949, then pasted pay stubs over the laundry lists in 1960. I love that waste not want not mentality and thought some of these pages would be wonderful as a canvas for some paintings. So I could paint. On the other hand, there were all the seedlings I still had to plant waiting on the porch…and a whole week of rain ahead and a garden show to get ready for.

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So planting it was, and gardening, and then, because one thing leads to another, then cleaning out the garage and organising the silversmithing bench.

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I had an inspiration.

Last week, I asked my friend Margot, (who has two horses), if I could have some straw for my strawberries. She told me that she has a whole hay bale that her boys won’t touch and I can have it. We made a date for today and I drove over to the stables.

My biggest mistake was bringing C along who immediately ran up to General for a nuzzle.

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And then to Levy. Last time she saw them was in Princeton.

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Margot and I moved all the hay bales off the one General and Levy didn’t want and put it into the back of my Highlander, and I looked around for C.
Where was she? At the end of the paddock making friends with the Clydesdale!

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Oh boy there’s a lot of hay in a bale! But I spread it around my strawberries, arround the raspberries and blueberries…

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…and then around the garlic, kale, peas and potatoes too.

I’ve never gardened with hay but figure it can go two ways, either horribly wrong or brilliantly successful, (or somewhere between). There’s only one way to find out. :D

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While I was cleaning out the garage, C came by and found her professional fire hula hoop, (which will never be lit again), and gave it a whirl and left it outside. After spreading out the hay, I had a go with the hula hoop. WHAT FUN!
OK, now I want to hula hoop every day. Very surprised that I can keep it going for longer than two seconds together!

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And as a brilliant finish to this lovely weekend, at the end of the garden, past the strawberries and blueberries, under the Japanese anemones, I found a lovely display of lily of the valley. I collected a small handful and had a search for the perfect vase.

Really, what else could you ever put in this little vintage treasure?

Now on my bedside table for sweet dreams. :D

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Drawing challenge: Coat, the von Alemann coat

I was so happy when Patrice called this week’s drawing challenge: coat, and, for me, this started with a book.

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Not just any book, THE BOOK. One of the most precious books I have, the book of my family, the von Alemann family.

The book used to belong to my grandfather, and has study notes written in his handwriting. There are also study notes in the handwriting of others.

The book is written in high German, and begins in 1281. Somehow, over the years, there grew a small collection of odd things in the book, like a pressed edelweiss and beech leaf between the halves of a Czech receipt for bread, along with the usually kept death and birth certificates.

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There are property documents, and locks of hair, and names. Loads and loads of names; centuries of names.

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A few names keep repeating. Here, the death certificate for my grandfather’s father Lord Emilian Karl von Alemann; before him his father, Lord Wilhelm Johan Karl, and after him my grandfather Lord Karl Emilian Maria, and my son is also named in a fashion after this tradition of repeating names: Jonathan Karl (he has the full right to use the Lord title).

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It’s funny how it goes. So comfortable for me, like a warm coat. My coat of arms. The image passed down thru centuries. The family which started the entire Alemannic world. My world.

I started this DC on a sheet of music with the title Prelude. It felt like homage to all those who came before me.

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I drew my Germanic von Alemann family crest, I drew the Czech lion, the lion of my childhood.

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I gilded the Czech lion with copper leaf; that warm golden pink light of Prague.

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And there we are. I think this little piece of art might end up collected in the book for future generations to puzzle out.

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Later, Chloe and I put on our family crest rings. We looked thru the book for a while longer, and then I closed the book and put it back in the safe.

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Thank you for a lovely and touching DC theme dearest. x

But the fun is only starting. Pop over to Patrice’s for links to everyone who is clever enough to slip their coats on in this weather. :D

Round here, and a little gardening

Oh boy, I’m really having to THINK to pick up my camera these days. But I’m trying to get my garden in some sort of order to look lovely and welcoming for the Art in the Garden show at the end of May.

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The tulips are on their last hurrah, but haven’t they been spectacular this year? I’m so glad for happenstance. Last fall I had to return over 40 blighted red tulips, but all the nursery had in exchange were white ones, so I had them, and planted them all over the garden. They turned out to be so beautiful. I love white flowers and think old Vita definitely was onto a thing or two.

Robert has been sending me photos of the tulips I planted last Sept at our garden at West Cottage, and they look so lovely and colourful. I deliberately chose the brightest colours because R loves big bold and bright flowers. I miss my English garden. I hope your tulips are spectacular where ever you are in the spring-time parts of the old globe.

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Chloe has been promoted from art teacher/in charge of social media to art teacher/course writer/social media maven/branding expert/personal assistant/coffer purchaser, and still is pursuing her own interest, like designing a set of graphics for t-shirts for two upcoming music festivals and is pretty busy round the clock. We all miss her company and some of us in the household have taken to sleeping beside her to get in on some C attention.

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And I’ve hit the garden with vengeance. Just like last year, I figure and hour or two per day should get me to show garden status in the next month.

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But it’s not all work. Our lovely friend Katie came for a visit and a chat. And we spent a lovely couple of hours catching up. Also, I did a little bit of plant buying. The autumn crocuses and spring bulbs, which are in full force just now, will die down in the next month and leave bare patches, so a few annuals are in order. On this year’s plant list are lovely things such as calendula, bee balm, pinks, nicotiana, asters and rocket snapdragons.

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Morgan loves to be in on all the gardening and conversation.

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It’s evening now and the sun is beginning to fade. Rain is forecast and it’s a good thing too, the garden can use it. Chloe is still working and Milo is doing his longest cat in the world impression in a bid to get fed early. My friend Julie asked me about the windows. “How do they stay clean?” she asked. Oh boy, they so don’t, and you should see the nose prints!

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All is calm and lovely round here, and, as the sun sets, I’m looking forward to a couple of hours of climbing with the Clover tomorrow.

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Stalking my heart’s desire (warning, this post has gone to the birds)

I found an opportunity today to drive way across town, and end up with a couple hours free in the George C. Reifel Bird Sanctuary. I haven’t visited since this last time.

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Oh what luck! This is such a wonderful place, where one can get this close to the birds. Close enough to count the drops on the drake’s back! :D

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And the animals are so tame that one doesn’t need a super telephoto lens.

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A marshland/delta/ocean view location, ideal for all sorts of wildlife.

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Like beautiful wood ducks.

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And American wigeon.

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And pintails. Er…excuse me?

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Ah, there you are. :D

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And, of course, the ubiquitous Canada geese.

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Who are a bit neurotic and bitchy right now, hissing up a storm.

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This is about the safest distance…unless you have bird seed in your pocket. It may be mating and egg time, but everyone is friendly for the bird seed!

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And the sanctuary provides loads of nest boxes in all kinds of habitats,

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So whether birds like trees, or marsh, or even for the do-it-yourselfers, there’s a nest, or materials for a nest really close at hand.

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And many are already being occupied, like this one in the middle of a pond has been claimed by a pair of purple house martins.

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I climbed up the three story tower to have a good look around.

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It’s 360% from up here!

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And up close and personal down there.

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But the real reason I came, the real object of my heart’s desire, are those magical sandhill cranes.

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A few are resident here. Last year they raised a couple chicks, but sadly the chicks disappeared and never grew to maturity.

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I’m hoping for a better outcome this year.

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Bye for now.

:D OK, now I’m just writing silly lines to justify sticking one more picture into this post. But if only you know how many pictures I want to post and stop myself, you’d be impressed! :D

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A random roundup for Friday

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There are times when I see something and it’s just so lovely that I have to take a photo. These things are usually everyday ordinary things, like this little escapee/volunteer pansy up against the blue pot, but the everyday things are magic to me…you know, that common magic I sometimes go on about.

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Speaking of magic, who can resist sunlight dried towels and sheets. Oh it’s the best, isn’t it? That fresh smell. I never use fabric softeners or dryer sheets, too toxic, but I always marvel at how companies try to mimic what is easily done freely…and non-toxicly.

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I opened all the windows to air the house out, including the windows in my studio. Downtown looked sparkly across the water.

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Morgan immediately jumped out onto the roof and walked around to the skylight and jumped in thru the skylight onto my drawing desk. Milo ran around like a mad cat in thru the front door and out the back door ad infinitum.

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And on my drawing desk are birds! Birds and more birds. I was so happy that my FB friend Diana suggested I draw a Mockingbird and then Melodye asked to use it to illustrate her writing. Morgan comes around and jumps up for a cuddle and I can’t paint! She knows it and sniggers.

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The other day I found a brand new pair of retro climbing shoes at the thrift for $6! Chloe urged me to buy them. I had a second thought about that because that meant that I was probably committing to climbing! Oh, what the heck, we’re only young….er…as long as we feel like it. :D

I’m nowhere near this spider monkey child of mine, but I was pleased with being able to reach the top of the easier routes and very pleased with my muscles!

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I cleaned up the patio table. Time for an alfresco…something!

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In the morning I usually have a couple bed-ferrets invade my bedroom.

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I love it. :D

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Photo challenges: Early bird and Wet

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I’m actually a big morning person. An early bird. This comes form years and years of competitive figure skating and being on the ice every morning by 6am. Early mornings have become a life-long habit.

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I love watching the sunrise from the beach. Watching it reach its way between the houses, boats and rocks.

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And each time I make the effort and stay to watch the sunrise, at first I might be alone, but soon there’s a few more early birds…

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…and soon after that, many. :D

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For WordPress: Early Bird and Photo Friday: Wet

Visiting the Bloedel Conservatory

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Some days, when one is in a mad rush, it’s important to say, “Stuff this for a game of soldiers” to oneself and stop for more than two minutes together.

Chloe and I did just this the other day.

We stopped across town in my mother’s corner of Vancouver, to visit one of my most favourite places, The Bloedel Conservatory. A few years ago in danger of being phased out and dismantled… CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?…Vancouverites railed up in such huge numbers that this beautiful, tropical garden, with waterfalls and pools of rainbow fish, rescued airport smuggled lizards and geckos, over 200 free-flying birds, and over 500 species of tropical plant life, was saved.

I love greenhouses and, in many ways, being a gardener here would absolutely be my dream job, (if it wasn’t for the tourists…lol) But really, we don’t come here often enough. Each time we do stop by, we walk thru it from beginning to end, and then reverse from end to beginning and start over again, before we find a lovely bench to sit at, usually at a bird feeding station, and hang out for a few minutes. Only then, very reluctantly, we walk out the door, and only because we probably should not have stopped here in the first place. But for our sanity, it was the best decision of the week. :D

PS. First photo is across downtown to the North Shore and you can probably see my house in that photo. Probably about where the two orange cranes on the dock are, above them, if you divide the constructed area into thirds, then just below the first third. (Probably making no sense at all…lol)

Hello from Sunday night

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I’m feeling particularly happy this evening and I think it’s got to do with three things.

Thing one: Lilacs!!!

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Unfortunately, these are not mine. They are in a local park and so I can only bury my face in them but not walk away with armfuls.

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In my next life, you know, that organic farm of mine, I’m having absolute hedges of lilacs. White, deep purple and even the lilac ones. Single, double, every variety available.

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Thing two: Beverly the seal!
Oh my goodness! I just bought this signed beauty for an absolute minuscule fraction of the expected two or three grand that an original, signed Inuit soapstone carving should cost.

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Bev, (named after the kind lady who saved it for me at the end of a huge flea market), joins wrestling bears, beluga whale, Jade bear, Nunavut bear, bird, owl, and the iron water dragons, under my stained glass lamp, (which I made years ago), on the dresser in my bedroom, where I can look at them every day. It’s a very private little collections and I can’t believe how lucky I am to own these amazing, original works of art.

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And thing three: my art on ephemera
Loving the cowboy songs and the birds are coming freely and easily these days. There’s so much satisfaction in the work for me.

This is the newest one, an Eastern kingbird mother and young. The Western kingbird is up on FB and Instagram, but i couldn’t get my act together this evening to post a image of him, so just pop over to one of those if you’d like to see the Western beauty. Hopefully kingbird prints in the shop tomorrow.

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Hope your weekend was lovely and restful and you’re all ready for a fabulous week ahead. :D

Macaroons and the sweetest friend

Today I picked up Chloe just after she taught a particularly colourful art class to some 5-9yr olds (occupational hazard she said)…
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…and we headed to Williams-Sonoma to visit our friend Claire who was selling her gorgeous sweets there.
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She offered us some chocolate raspberry macaroons….
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…and we really only made one mistake…we tried them!
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Oh lord, have you ever eaten anything so delicious in your whole life? Naturally we bought a box, and, after running a bunch of errands…
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…found ourselves at home, at four-o-clock tea time, with a beautiful box of chocolate raspberry and pink lemonade macaroons.
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Chloe just asked if she could have the last lemon one! Oh so yummy. Thank you so much Claire.
If you should like to get to know our sweet friend, and you really should, not only because she’s lovely, but also because she shares recipes!!!
Claire’s website is here: Livia Sweets
Instagram: Clairlivia
Facebook: Livia Sweets
And the yummiest Pinterest: Claire Lassam

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Oh, and one last afterthought, I used Claire’s recipe for olive oil banana bread way back here with the promise of the moistest banana bread ever, and have never used another recipe. It’s that good!
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Drawing Challenge: Grass

Because little things are practice for big things, I decided to roll around in the grass at the house next door, (which is about to be torn down), and count the clouds! To me, little things and baby steps are key. They are a form of reassurance.

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Art: watercolours, inks, watercolour pencils on (shock) Arches white paper! :D

Come visit this lovely spring grassy group: Becca, Tammie, Renee, Marian, Ariane, Carole, Renilde, Viola, Nadine,  Eric, EmilyPatrice, Renee, and Melodye.