Friday, August 3, 2012

Golden: Meeting Aidan



"I think that I am on your street." I looked out of the window to see a lovely blonde precariously balancing a tray while leading a Golden Retriever and talking on her cell phone zoom past our corner. "Wait! Stop! Back up! Look up!" I leaned out of the window and waved like mad. I could see Aidan's smile blossom from a far and with a "Hooray!" I ran down to open up the front door to let her inside.

I remember writing to Aidan on her wonderful blog Conjugating Irregular Verbs pretty much immediately after we first came into contact asking "When can we meet?!". She had somehow stumbled upon my Haunted series and we clicked right away. And she  lives in Montpellier! A mere 40 minute drive away! Alas, these things take time. There are children to be wrangled (Aidan has three beautiful ones) and schedules to be balanced. Six months later, it all came together.


Although I am shy, I knew that Aidan and I would get along and it felt wonderful to not be even the slightest bit nervous, just excited. And I wasn't the only one! Within minutes our words were over-lapping and we could barely finish one thought because it sparked off several others. There was so much that we wanted to cram in we were practically hyper-ventilating! Although we eventually settled down to a fine lunch of the crisp pissaladière that Aidan had generously baked, the five hours we spent together passed far too quickly and we were literally still chatting in the parking lot as she was loading up the car to head home.


But I wasn't the only one that was thrilled. As previously mentioned, Aidan brought along her one year old Golden, Clementine. The meeting of our two beloved puppers was just the icing on the proverbial cake. Oh, how she tortured Ben! She chewed on his ears until they were a soggy mess and pounced on his back until they rolled into the furniture. And he loved every minute of it. Goldens seem to have an innate recognition for other Goldens and they quickly formed a big brother/little sister bond. Unfortunately, it was way too hot to take them on the stroll that I had imagined (32°C/90°F) but we did manage to stop off at the new gelato shop with dollops of salted caramel for Aidan, beet and cucumber for me. Surprisingly, Clementine was less than thrilled when I offered for her to lick the bowl for the last crimson stain of beet! I wonder why...


Aidan's writing is open, honest and so funny, just like her wonderful self. Now I know firsthand and I am so thrilled to have made a new friend. I have to say it has been a pretty fabulous week as far as connecting due to the internet and thank you to all that were so supportive about Wijnand Boon's peace-walk. Such positive experiences. Let's hear it for the joy of discovery!


Bon weekend! 
For those of you in the Northern Hemisphere, summer is running at an Olympic pace so let's make the most of it...















50 comments:

  1. Hello Heather:
    Gosh, we are out of breath just reading this post!

    What fun you two bloggers had and puppy love too, this has to be just the most perfect of times!As you say, the internet can be a powerful tool and when it connects like minded individuals, then it really is at its very best for the miles of separation can simply disappear in an instant!

    Yes, Summer is marching on and the nights are noticeably drawing in. You are absolutely right to urge us all to make the most of these golden days!

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    1. My dear Hattats, I should have known that you would have seen that the evening light is changing too. Isn't it wonderful? Bring on the autumn!

      And yes, it was a bit of a crazy scene at first between the dogs going absolutely bananas and Aidan and I like two breathless kids on a playground! I am not even entirely sure what was said during those first few minutes, so crazy was the scene!

      Of course, for it to be in the fabulous category, one also needs good food and wine and we had that as well. Aidan's tart was addictive--I couldn't stop eating it! Onions, anchovies, capers, garlic on a crisp crust. I served a salad with artichoke hearts (I can't seem to get enough of them this summer), sun-dried tomatoes, red peppers, pine nuts and goat cheese and we both quaffed a bit of white Cairanne (and as we are NOT French we didn't have to serve it too cold!). Lovely.

      I believe that Hungary had a medal in swimming, yes? Well and perhaps others but that was the victory I saw. Wondering who you cheer for?

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  2. Oh my goodness, look at those happy, panting puppies! I can't believe how much they look alike - I guess there are only light Goldens in France? I'm SO glad that you had such a great time connecting with your friend - hopefully you can get together again in the near future! But beet/cucumber gelato?? That's where you lost me! (ew!).

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    1. Heehee. Wacky but wonderful! And so was my time with Aidan. I wish you were still here--you would have LOVED all of it Sister. Ok not the beet gelato but everything else!!

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  3. Blogging is fantastic on so many different levels - when I started I never dreamed I would meet people, isn't it fantastic? Tell me, after eating Aidan's baking, do you think she includes everything in her published recipes, or does she keep back a secret ingredient ? :) Bisous! To both you girls and the puppies!

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    1. Bisous right back at you Liene. And Aidan's secret ingredient is...Aidan! She cooks from her heart and you can taste it. And I know for certain that Aidan is not a girl to lie so there you go! It was sooooo very good. Remi and I finished it up at the apero and I am embarrassed to say that I was fighting him for the last bit even though I was the one who had eaten it for lunch. Oops!

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  4. Heather,
    Thank you so much for this lovely post. And for such a wonderful day spent with you in your beautiful apartment hiding from the heat and sharing secrets. I loved meeting you, as you know, and am so thankful that our blogs have given us the opportunity to connect. You and Ben are at the top of my happy list! Clementine hasn't moved today, exhausted from her wild abandon, puppy escapades.
    And the salty caramel ice cream was divine. But not as good as your beet sorbet. It really has got me thinking. Look for a recipe soon.
    So much love to you and Ben,
    Aidan xo

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    1. Hooray! Aidan, Ben and I are pretty darn pleased with ourselves to be even in the top ten of your happy list because holy cow do you have a lot to be happy about! I loved meeting you too, also as you know! I went on and on to my Mom today. So fantastic to meet a new friend, someone you just appreciate SO much. That isn't something that I take for granted in the least at our age--or any age actually.

      And I love Clementine! I actually missed her today! Ben alas is in a similar state as she is and has slept all day. Each time I took him out he would do his business and when I suggested more of a walk he looked at me like "you are kidding right?" :) I cleaned up the hugest pile of dog hair--all probably from Ben that Clem chewed off!! We need to start that sweater company...

      I know you will not only nail but improve the beet sorbet recipe!
      Gros bisous Aidan and much love to you and yours...

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  5. I must say, between this post and Sara Louise's, I'm so jealous of these Provence meet ups!!! You ladies know how to have fun! I'm glad you two hit it off!

    Have a lovely weekend - and yes, summer is speeeeeeeding by! Let's make the most of it.

    Cheers!

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    1. I am still shaking my head in wonder of how you got dissed by Cupcake Vineyards, Ella. You were robbed, I tell ya, robbed!

      And yes, having lived both in Paree and here in Provence, I have to say people definitely know how to have a good time here. Fix a broken washing machine? Not so much. But have a blast, definitely.

      Bisous!

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  6. What a happy meet up. How lovely to find another kindred spirit! An clearly Ben agrees, he and Clementine are quite the pair! Beet and cucumber sorbet? Wow. I doubt I'd find that at the corner grocery store - or even at our favorite ice cream shop. Only in Provence! Happy summer weekend, Heather! XO

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    1. Jeanne, I know that you would appreciate Aidan--she just recommended 'Tigers in Red Weather' to me! Hoping you have a lovely and fun weekend too!

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  7. Your blog reminds me of happy holidays in Provence. Hopefully when OH's health is better I may get at least one more. Here in N England I have just noticed the nights are drawing in and we still have to have a summer. We are in Olympic fever here for another week, happiness is another medal of any colour.

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    1. We are all caught up in the Olympics too and I am delighted because I have TWO countries to cheer on! :)

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    2. That's odd! It looks as though my reply didn't "take"--just to say that we are right there with you with Olympic fever. And sending good thoughts for OH's health.
      Bon weekend!

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  8. It's so funny to me that all the way over here in Ann Arbor I thought to myself "oh I know who Aidan is" because I read both your blogs! Cracks me up. It's like I'm there (which I was a couple of weeks ago!), but now I'm here again. The dogs are too adorable!

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    1. Liza, did you enjoy your visit? I hope that you did! And yep, we are all linked, which is wonderful!

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  9. I love when stuff like this happens.

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    1. You most certainly would have loved the food involved (minus the anchovies of course!). ;)

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  10. A wonderful story of kindred spirits (human and canine) discovering each other-I'm very glad you four found each other!! Very little delights me more than watching dogs play. Did you get any photographs of Ben and Clementine in action? Glad you are keeping Ben inside in high heat. It's supposed to reach 98⁰ F here tomorrow (after a mild summer up until then), so we'll limit outside play to early and late. (Like you, I'm a redhead!)
    Maybe we'll search for Olympic water events during the day. Have a lovely weekend! Fondly, Leslie in Portland

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    1. Leslie, we redheads have to stick together. We are special. ;)

      And I did take photos of the rumpus which are all blurry and a little video with me shrieking in excitement in the background as if I were doing a play by play of the 50m swimming final! Speaking of, I am bumming that the swimming is nearly over, now we are on to track and field which is not nearly as interesting in my book!

      I am letting Ben tell me how much outdoor time he wants in this heat (as we live in town his walks are on hot pavement) and as he is a smart cookie, that means not so much!
      Wishing you a lovely weekend Leslie!

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  11. Hello Heather

    Your meeting Aidan and Clementine and hitting it off is marvelous news.You lunch looked delicious and such a wonderful idea to eat in and have uninterrupted time together, without he waiter hovering and looking at his watch.
    It is great that you are so near and can do it all again. My Aunt Helen, who was my mentor, always said "keep making new friends" The blog world has provided us with so much joy and friendship. I loved Liza's comment above, she summed it up so nicely when she said she knew exactly who Aidan was when she read your opening comments.

    Have a glorious weekend

    Helen xx

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    1. Your Aunt Helen's advice was so wonderful and is something to keep in mind!

      Aidan had said to me before hand "I want to bring something" (isn't that lovely?) and when she suggested the pissaladiere, it just seemed perfect to stay in, especially as it has been so hot and Remi was away on a shoot so it was just us girls (and Ben).

      And I think you know how grateful I am for the blog world for introducing me to so many amazing people--like yourself.
      Gros bisous,
      H

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  12. Just love it when blogging leads to things like doggy play dates!!!

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    1. Especially as the concept of doggy play dates is not exactly in the French lexicon. ;)

      Hope you are not wilting from the heat, Elizabeth--bon weekend!

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  13. It's so wonderful when a virtual friend becomes real! Looks like the four of you had a fun and delicious afternoon -- love seeing those happy doggie faces, too! I'm off to visit Aidan's blog...

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    1. It is Ann, I really agree. And the puppers happiness only magnified our own!

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  14. Well, as usual....you're lucky in your encounters, Heather.

    Herve's off on a trip, so I'm here alone this weekend. As ever, that means I don't bother with cooking (although I'll certainly start doing that later today when I pick up the seventy-five pounds of tomatoes I reserved), and I just wear anything out of the work-clothes bin. One not particularly politically-correct friend has described the look as "an unsupervised, retarded adult". His phrasing's not the most sensitive, but the point has been accepted.

    In any case, I looked pretty raggedy yesterday afternoon when I had my own surprise encounter while thrashing around with an inadequate weedeater down by the road. A neighboring (I assume) couple stopped to introduce themselves. This is the SECOND time since we moved to this posh little town/village that I've found myself wondering why these folks are barraging me with questions about the Affordable Health Care Act before finally mentioning that I "don't have much of an accent". I told them that I wasn't the French epidemiologist they'd all-too obviously heard about and were eager to meet (well, I didn't say the last part, although I thought it). I said I was an artist. They asked if I was "VISITING" (what?!?). I said no, I actually lived here.....and the man looked at me and brightly said "Really? Well, you must be doing pretty well!Good for you!".

    At that point, I decided that he'd just given me permission to dislike him as thoroughly as I'd been inclined to do during the first five minutes of our meeting. I told him "Oh, it's a GREAT deal. Herve's going to let me have one of the bedrooms in exchange for doing the cleaning and some of the yard-work. I can use the kitchen, too. It's pretty good for an artist!".

    He and his wife believed me. They expressed their certainty that I would enjoy my "stay" here and asked me to tell Herve how VERY MUCH they looked forward to having him over for drinks. So much for "a stranger is just a friend you've never met". I was really hoping they would offer to pay me to trim their lawn, but they didn't go that far.

    As for doggie rendezvous? Later, yesterday afternoon, yet another couple came by....with 2 prancy, skittish, rather over-primped, not very-bright-looking west highlands on leashes. I already knew, via the grapevine, that four couples in this town own 1-3 west highlands (I have two, plus a cairn, as you know). They knew who/what I was (this is a very small place, a grid of only six small streets of historic houses). They were, to be sure, very pleasant and welcoming in a burbling sort of way. Unfortunately, the wife, in a fit of bonhomie, suddenly suggested "We have to have a WESTIE PARTY! We can all come over and let our Westies play!!!"

    I was hot, tired, and (obviously) not at my diplomatic best. I took another quick look at their obviously-pampered dogs (matching, red&black tartan collars?) and, without thinking, blurted out "Oh God...that'd be an awful idea...I'm afraid my dogs would attack these dogs of yours in a new york minute."

    They both stared....and the woman's mouth dropped open as she exclaimed "Well, I never!...". I considered I/my social-reputation was getting chewed-up in the great maw of Karma for disliking the previous couple so much.

    In any case, that was my day of Meeting & Learning to LIKE (!) new folks and their dogs. I'm glad you had better luck at the business.

    Fortunately, I'll be spending all day and night in the kitchen, processing tomatoes and, one hopes, avoiding social fiascos for at least 24 hours. Given that we plan to live here for at least another 25 years, Herve would probably prefer that I not handle any social-introductions when he's not here to referee the proceedings.

    Level Best as ever,

    david terry
    www.davidterryart.com

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    1. My dear David, I hope that you will excuse the condensed version of a response here: this was a knee-slapper. Literally. While you often give me the just absolutely gorgeous gift of making me laugh (and yes, as a former actor I can confirm that dying is easy, comedy is hard), I absolutely guffawed and slapped my knee at this one. Ooh, I can not wait to hear about the moment when the first couple realizes that you aren't exactly visiting...you gave Remi a hearty laugh as well. Merci my friend. But now I will suggest:
      Good luck with your tomatoes.
      Please for goodness sake, stay inside.
      Bisous to your killer Westies...
      H

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    2. Oh, Heather....most of my dogs are just fine.....but the oldest female (who RUNS the pack) simply hates any dog that comes into her orbit without first rolling over on its belly. I'm lucky actually....I've never had to train the younger males....she bites and attacks the HELL out of them if they even think of peeing or shitting in the house (which is her QUEENDOM!, thank you...). and she doesn't like strange dogs.

      Oh, well,....there could be worse problems in the world. I should add that I've panted or drawn Kate at least ten times, and all those small picures have sold for at least 700 bucks. She has more than earned her keep hereabouts ( I think I've made about 10,000 bucks off pictures of her...no kidding)....and she IS quite lovely, although not of the stupid, American "round face westie" type that shows up on dogfood cans and christmas cards.

      well....I grew up with terriers and know how to live with them. In case you wonder?....they're VERY different from your sort of sweet, mild-mannered dog.

      Level Best as Ever,

      David Terry
      www.nasty-tempered, smallmen&small dogs.org

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    3. David, if there is such a thing as reincarnation, I hope after I die to come back as a fly on your wall. My life as a fly would be short, but it would be worth it. (And hopefully you wouldn't swat me before I got in a few good laughs.)

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    4. Good one Judith.

      And David, back to something I wanted to ask earlier: 75 POUNDS of tomatoes? That you RESERVED?

      Not to mention a French phrase that you undoubtedly know already: "tel chien tel maitre"... ;)

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    5. Well, I'm making a wonderful, "spicy tomato confit".....basically a relish from my pals, Karen & Ben Barker's cookbook for the Magnolia Grill (they're both James Beard award-winning chefs). Folkjs seriously LOVE this stuff (which is supposed to be a condiment, but someone at the table always ends up eating all of the jar. I can 100 or so jars each summer. As for "reserving" the tomatoes?.....For the first time in 20 years I don't have my own, large vegetable garden (courtesy of moving in late June), so I order and buy from a fellow who owns a very productive organic farm up north in the county.

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    6. P.S. In regard to my anecdote about the snotty-boots neighbors? I spoke with an old college friend (who's married to my college room-mate, a surgeon) last night. they live in Mountain Brook, an exclusive enclave of Birmingham, Alabama.....where NO ONE does his/her own yardwork. She told me that John mows their lawn with a push-mower (he enjoys the exercise), and "I don't know HOW many times people have stopped their cars and tried to hire him to mow their lawns".

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    7. Spicy tomato confit? Those are three of my favorite words all together. I will need to look up the recipe although I have the sneaking suspicion that I am far too lazy to make even one batch let alone 100 jars. I am simply too hot to consider anything that requires boiling. So we are eating a fair amount of salad. So much that I might turn into a rabbit.

      And I have to say that your hoping that the chipper couple "Good for you!" would hire you was my favorite part of your story...would love to see the expression on the Bama folks faces when they realize that they are trying to hire a surgeon...

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  15. You introduce us to the most interesting people Heather...that is one of the things I love about your blog. I must go off an meet Aidan...as I did Wijnand and many others before him. I hope someday that I can stroll down your street and do the same..or better yet, you can come to Saigon and stroll down Cherry Blossom Road...I will be waiting. :)
    Best wishes for a lovely weekend Heather..

    Jeanne xxx

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    1. Oh merci, Jeanne. I was so touched by this. How I would love to! My goodness. In other times, I took the plane like other folks take a bus but now...well, it could be something to plan and save for--how wonderful it would be to explore Saigon with you!!!
      Gros bisous,
      H

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  16. I enjoyed reading your description of you and and Ben's meet up with Aiden and Clementine. I love Aiden's blog so it was double fun reading about your time together. Have a great week.

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  17. Such interesting encounters! (I need to get out more!)


    And this post has made me terribly hungry (I have tilapia and fresh dill from the Farmer's market in the fridge; time to make a good meal), and also made me miss our beloved mutt. Dreadfully. Part retriever, part who-knows-what.

    But if we get another rescued dog (much as I would love that), how could I pick up and go to France again (dreaming, dreaming, dreaming) - and enjoy some encounters with fascinating people - such as yourself?

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    1. Ooh my, not feeling so fascinating this Sunday morning after a late night...but thank you...

      Well, if you are going for a short trip then you would just board her/him with some lovely person who would spoil your pupper as much as you do. We found the nicest couple who met while volunteering at the local ASPCA! Needless to say, I feel just fine about leaving Ben with them. And if for longer (!), then you would just bring the pupper with you. Having a dog, changes everything in life. But you know that. ;) As for getting over here, you are one smart tomato so I fully believe in your powers of selling ONE of your clients a in France that you need to research...

      And finally, tilapia plus dill sounds wonderful. Why can't we get fresh dill in France?
      xo,
      h

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  18. Here I am in hot, sweaty, Brooklyn where our car was towed because it committed the sin of being a hair's breadth over the designated parking area while wearing an out-of-state license plate. Poor husband spent the day dealing with that while I was at my conference.

    Where I too had the chance to meet up with several folks I only know from online contact. What fun! And Heather, I stopped in at Le Fanion, which has beautiful pottery and other treasures from your part of the world. Sadly, Claude Noelle was out of town. But I did meet the two bloggers who first brought her to my attention!

    And now I shall reply to David, who has managed to make me laugh out loud, even thought I am too hot and tired to do so!

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  19. Oh no, really Judith? That is the LAST thing that anyone should have to deal with on a visit to NY. Your poor husband and poor you! But it does sound wonderful that you are meeting so many people--plus a trip to Le Fanion. How I wish that I had been there with you...And you met Tish?! Very jealous of that!

    Hope the rest of the weekend goes smoothly...

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    1. Not to start inaccurate rumors. I met Caryl and Maryl from Second Lives Club, who have run two posts about Claude Noelle.
      We are back home safe and sound.

      Wish you had been there too. You would have loved meeting all the inspiring women there.

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  20. Ben looks like he is in heaven! Loved this post and especially all the comments...especially the one about the surgeon mowing his lawn. I too have been mistaken for 'the gardener' many times. I just play along.

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    1. Really, Cindy? I find it so funny! Just goes to show how people like to put others in categories in their mind, doesn't it? And Ben was in heaven...for the first couple of hours and then he got a little cranky! :O He finally had to tell Clementine "Enough!".

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  21. What a wonderful post! How exciting to meet friends that you talk to through your blog! I'm hoping to be able to do that one day….thanks for sharing all of your adventures with us!

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    1. Carolyn, I really recommend it if you can make it happen. My friend Judith just came back from a BlogHer conference in NYC and met a ton of people all in one swoop!

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