From Torture to Bliss

I love entering competitions. I’ve won several things just from the odds of how many I enter, I won 2 tickets to see Oklahoma! at the Artscape Theatre and on Friday after work we were in a rush to get back to the city before the curtain lifted. We were pleased to see we had front row centre seats, the best ever. We could peer right into the orchestra pit. The cast was pretty good and the singing not bad. The dancing was very good. The cast was small kids right up to the older members and there were a few big cast productions. It really entertained.

Saturday I decided to finally bite the bullet and book in for laser to deal with my body hair. Shaving is just a pain with my hip as I’m just not as bendy as I used to be. Waxing is what caused the issues on my legs. So the dermatologist told me to try laser. I took a few pain pills and Norm dropped me off. I had booked 2 hours. She managed both legs and bikini but oh lawdy it hurt. Kind of the same pain as a tattoo. It was like a mixture of someone snapping a rubber band on your skin and a jolt of electric shock. But I just kept picturing smooth skin. The therapist first slathers on ice cold gel, your skin turns into goose pimply chicken skin. Then she zaps you. Throughout she snaps photos of before images. I made her promise they don’t land up on BigAndBouncy.com or something similarly horrific.

Then she draws all over your skin with a pencil – sort of like a pattern maker. Then I started imagining she was like the guy in Silence of The Lambs and she was sizing me up for a jumpsuit.

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I keep telling you I have a twisted brain.

I was best when we were chatting, it distracted me. It was 2 hours of torture. Really horrid. And it cost about 1000 bucks an hour. And I need about 16 hours so all in it will be an expensive venture. But I’m over the constant hair battle a hairy woman has to deal with. So I’m just going to bear the transition.

Saturday evening was dinner with my friend Drew and his wife Anne.

I’ve worked with Drew before and we really got on and his wife sounded cool and their kids are similar ages so we thought we would all 4 maybe get on. We are also all big foodies so we have a lot in common. They live over the hill in Noordhoek so we agreed next time we would come to their side. We all got on well, I can see us becoming good friends.

We went to Cheyne’s and I felt happy to get to have his food again. We had the line fish, the firecracker crayfish and the chilli salt calamari which were all amazing. I so love the saltiness of the sauce and the rich creaminess of the tempura battered crayfish. The calamari was tender and with a nice bite from the chili. Again I loved the cucumber and mint noodles under the game fish and the fish was nice and firm. They told us it was kingklip, but it tasted different than the previous week but the waiter assured it was the same. The flavour was the same but the fish was a slightly less rigid texture. I didn’t ask last week what the fish was so maybe it was! Both were very nice, just different.

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For mains we again had the teriyaki pulled lamb pie, the crispy chili beef, the ribs, Crispy Aubergine tempura and the potato and coconut deep fried dumplings….it was all so divine I only got a pic of the dumplings. We had 2 portions of these, so light and crispy and flavorful. The cardoman coming through strongly and the creamy coconutty sour sauce gives it just the punch it needs.

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For dessert Drew had the Irish coffee, Norm and I cappuccinos and Norm had the last blonde chocolate fondant in the kitchen and the rest of us had the brioche with bananas, toffee sauce and peanut butter ice cream. It’s one of my faves. I wanted the fondant but they ran out, but I love the banana brioche so no huge disappointment.

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We got home late Saturday and heard a noise in the kitchen, one of the animals (most likely a cat) had brought in a mouse. It was not tiny and Norm kept insisting I come in to help him catch it. We operate a catch and release home. At one stage we managed to get him to run out from under the washing machine except Norm missed him and he ran between my feet. Oh my word I screamed like a lunatic, hopping around bouncing off the counters, I knew I would be more of a hindrance than a help, but Norm needs to have people hovering around when he plays hero. So I complied. Eventually we caught it but it jumped out of the box before we could get it outside and Pixie grabbed it. It then just lay there. Twitching. I told myself it was just scared so we put him under a bush where the dogs couldn’t get him and hoped he recovered. I can’t bear to check. I’m sure nature will take care of things but nature can be cruel.

Today we have gone to a jazz event put on by a friend Lee. Her Dad and his band performed at Spiro’s and it was brilliant. We were seated just outside the room with the band so Norm wasn’t overwhelmed by the music and we could all communicate. A few different people sang so it was a cool vibe. I really enjoyed it. We had lots of cocktails.

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It was a private event with a cover charge for the band and you could then just order off of the regular menu.

Norm and I had the fillet steak and it was a delicious cut of meat, really tender and perfectly cooked.

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Retha had the stuffed calamari and Pierre the grilled sardines.

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For dessert we had the custard baked in phyllo pastry with ice cream drizzled in honey and the baklava with ice cream. Both were delicious.
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And a great day was had by all 🙂 I hope you enjoyed your weekend?

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The other benefit is the charities that Lee sponsors. She is such a generous hearted woman.
The cool thing about Hout Bay is the sense of community. We had several people recognize us from Face Book and come chat. We all bought The Big Issue from our local HB seller who has been on the route for 17 years. We all know his face and buy where we can.
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I love the sense of being a village, recognizing people you have never met just from pics of some common friend or a common group. I love that.

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Itinerary of Gastronomic Delights

The girls came back from George for Norman’s birthday and we planned a few days of casual celebrations with friends and family rather than a big birthday party as Norm didn’t want a fuss.

Thursday was his actual birthday and he was taking me to the periodontist so we got back to Hout Bay quite late so we popped into Pirate’s Steakhouse which was his choice for takeaways. We went home and ate and he finished a bit of work, then we watched a movie and had chocolate mousse cake.

Friday after work we met our friend Greg at Peddlar’s On The Bend for dinner. When we arrived we saw that half the room was decorated as if for Christmas. We were told there was a ‘Christmas in July’ theme and some large group was having a party. We asked if we could sit further away as I didn’t fancy the chaos but I was told that they had no other table available, despite there being many empty around us at that moment. I should have been advised they had rented out half the venue when I booked as it was incredibly noisy and annoying, I would have booked elsewhere if I had known.

Anyway, as always the food was excellent. You can count on a consistent standard of food there since the restaurant branded as Volare.

I had the Caesar salad, I can honestly say this is the best I have ever eaten. They met all of the criteria of the traditional Caesar but added a few twists, they made a sort of bowl type arrangement with the cucumber slices, even though a traditional recipe doesn’t cater for cucumber, it worked. The creamy dressing was nicely distributed, there were crunchy small bacon tidbits, boiled eggs, small homemade croutons and some smooth bone free bits of anchovy. And proper cos lettuce. Really, just perfect.

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Norm had the Caprese Salad and Greg had the Prawn Cocktail. Both looked fresh and lush and the boys enjoyed them.

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For our main course Norm and I both had steaks and chips and ordered a side of their delicious garlicky spinach to share.

We were asked which sauce we wanted and were given a long list of options, and we both chose mushroom. I was surprised to see a charge of R38 for sauce, I hadn’t noticed it was extra and the way it was offered by the waitress made it sound as if it came with the steak. At R165 a 280g fillet I think it should come with sauce. Especially such a tiny portion of sauce.

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For dessert we chose to share the Banana and Chocolate beignet: chocolate centered banana donuts with cappuccino ice cream. These should have been more donut less banana as they were slightly stodgy. A beignet cooked properly is light. We couldn’t finish them.

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The best beignets in the city are still from Beluga in my opinion.

The noise really made us want to exit so we had a coffee and made our goodbyes rather than lingering.

Saturday I had a hair appointment so I trundled off to the CBD to Mop Hair in Bree Street. It’s such a lovely venue.

20140720-171231.jpg Thembi gives amazing head rubs so it’s a pleasurable day, I had a relaxing cut and colour.

That night we were doing our main celebration and as you can see I’m so happy I popped a leg.

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Lily’s and Cait’s beaus Josh and Vic were joining us at Cheyne’s Hout Bay my favourite venue of all. Cheyne is a master.

We ordered a bottle of La Motte Sauvignon Blanc and settled in. We decided to pair off into 2’s and share 2 starters each pair. We ordered the Firecracker Crayfish, it is lobster in a crisp tempura batter. I always have this I adore it, it’s wonderful.

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We ordered a new starter we have never had, pan fried line fish on a bed if cucumber and basil noodles.
Oh.
My.
God.
This was divine. Tender and moist, solid piece of fish with a nice firm texture. Just amazing and I loved the noodles! It was an exceptional piece of fish perfectly prepared.

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We had ordered 3 portions of our favourite potato and coconut dumplings with hot and sour coconut cream but Cheyne gave us a few complimentary ones. They seemed a bit doughy last night, they are normally really light and fluffy. They seemed just slightly undercooked. 3 seconds difference. Fragile little bites of heaven, I’ve gone on about these before!

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Aubergines tempura were also plentiful as I ordered 2 but I’m sure we had at least 3!

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For our second course we shared pulled lamb teriyaki pie. I’m not a lamb fan but Norm is and I knew being pulled lamb it shouldn’t be fatty and I was right, it was delicious and almost crispy, like Mexican carnitas. It was so tasty.

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We had family favourite crispy chili beef. We love this dish.

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We had a dish of chicken wings as well and the kids had a few other things which I didn’t take note of, it was too chaotic!
Cait and Vic went off to a party and the rest of us ordered coffees and desserts. The birthday boy chose the Apple Pie with Sour Cream ice cream and Lily had the blonde chocolate fondant with vanilla ice cream and a chocolate truffle. I had the banana brioche which was a toasted brioche with sliced banana and drizzled with toffee sauce, topped with a scoop of peanut butter ice cream. So so delicious.

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Norm loved his pie as well.

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You can see for yourselves that Lily enjoyed hers.

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The fellas had a few whiskeys and then we headed off home designated driver at the wheel.

It was a stunning night. It was the first time we met Caitlin’s fella so it was notable. We had good conversation and a lot of laughs. Norm noted that none of the men are tattooed and between the women we have a total of 9. Funny how the world can be upside down from the conventional.

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This morning was the final in our itinerary of gastronomic delights. We had lunch bookings at Ragafellows our tried and true fave. The lovely Julie greeted us at the door and we settled in, ordering a round of cocktails and beers.

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For starters we ordered a few things to pick at, the crispy calamari with chunky aioli, the kofta meatballs and the fish croquettes, all of which were perfectly cooked and flavored.

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For my main I had the cheddar, bacon, pickle and jalapeño burger and Norm the pulled pork chorizo burger,

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We were so over saturated with food, but it was exceptional as always and the potatoes were great, brown and crispy. Lily had dessert which everyone helped her eat and Cait and I had Kailua Dom Pedro’s while the men had coffees. We had a lovely weekend.

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Highs and Lows

This weekend started out rather dismally. Friday afternoon I went to see my GP as I have a few random things going on with my body which I have been ignoring, but the latest symptom is swelling in my mouth which interfered with eating. For a foodie that was the impetus to get me to the doctor. I listed my symptoms and he examined me, then he told me he thinks I have a stress induced auto immune disease. He showed me images of severe cases which, quite frankly, freaked me the fuck out. The pics were of my same symptoms amplified by 10. He said it could also be a vitamin deficiency or hepatitis C. It can also be a systemic reaction to the metal in my hip replacement. So he has told me to get to a dermatologist ASAP and he’s done loads of blood tests to try and identify the cause. He’s put me on an intense vitamin B complex, given me drops for my eyes and cortisone for my lesions.

I was so depressed and upset all evening after I got home, crying on and off for hours. I barely slept that night, and spent all day in bed yesterday alternating between total fear and feeling sorry for myself.

We were invited to our friend Wendy’s birthday on Saturday night at Spiro’s in Hout Bay, but I was so tired from lack of sleep and worry that I didn’t feel at all keen on going. But we are the sort of people who always try to fulfill any commitments we make, and I also thought it would help to get me out of my own headspace to celebrate someone else’s happiness, so we got ourselves ready and went.

I am so glad we did! It was just what I needed. Norm said he hasn’t seen me that happy in a while. I think the 4 large strawberry daiquiris helped keep me smiling, but it was so much fun to just dance, dance and dance. The venue looked lovely and the music was pumping and I had a sidekick in Erika. Unfortunately all the pics I took of the 2 of us are too dark (see reference to excessive cocktail consumption) so I stole one of the venue from the birthday girl.

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The staff all came and did a funny birthday dance and we all joined in.

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I really enjoyed myself and we finally toddled home with me very tipsy. I woke this morning with a thumping head and a mouth as dry as Ghandis flip flop. We were booked with friends to go to lunch at Quentin’s at Oakhurst but woke to a message from my friend that she had someone try to steal her car so we rescheduled. I was both disappointed and relieved. Disappointed in that I have heard amazing things about his food and the venue, relieved in that I am hanging so bad I don’t think I would do the food the justice it is due.

However, being hungover I needed food, so Norm and I decided to try a new place near home, it’s literally 5 minutes up the hill. We were lucky to go early as we got the only unbooked table available. The drive was straight up and I see why it is called Treetops!

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It is a cold day and we were glad the venue was nicely warm. It was full of large windows so it was lovely and bright as well.

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The menu isn’t extensive it looked like they just have a few things which are fresh and local, but once I saw the option of a sirloin beef roast I didn’t even look at the rest of the menu. It was just what my hangover needed. And I was not at all disappointed.

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The portions were massive! At R130 I thought it reasonably priced for what was on the plate. My only comment is I would have liked my Yorkshire pudding to be full of gravy. Under these slabs of beef was a pile of crispy roast potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower and carrots. The vegetables were al dente just the way I like them and the Yorkshire pud was crispy and light. The beef was so tender it barely needed a knife. It really was an exceptional plate of food.

Their contact details are below, do yourself a favour and book in for lunch soon.

Silvermist Mountain Lodge Estate, Constantia Nek
7800 Cape Town, Western Cape
Today 08:00 – 16:30
Phone 021 794 7601
Email silvermisteatery@gmail.com
Website http://www.silvermistmountainlodge.co.za
http://www.silvermistvineyards.co.za/

Norm is now snoozing on the couch, the doggies are cuddled up with me and I’m feeling less panicked about my health. Of course I could still be anesthetized with rum from last night. Or I may have just regained a bit of perspective on the situation. Whatever it is that is wrong with me, I am making moves to remove myself from that stressful situation which seems to have triggered it, I have great friends and a supportive family and a husband who is my rock. I’ll get through this.

As they say, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. And I know my own strength, I’m a ‘have a good cry and get on with it sorta girl’ I always find a solution.

Wish me luck. Xx
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Dim all the lights sweet darlin

Friday night and I’m sitting mostly in the dark, the room beautifully lit by candlelight everything looking soft. It’s pouring rain outside and has been raining sheets of water since this afternoon. The entire road is underwater, so much so that I had to leave my car in the city as I’ve just had new brakes fitted and I am a bit like Bambi on ice when trying to stop. Retha drives a big solid Mercedes and she drove us home as it wasn’t safe for me.

Here is a pic I blatantly stole from a Facebook group, photo credit goes to Charles Mercer. This looks like a waterside venue, but it is a street normally, not a river.

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The power went at about 11am Friday while I was at work and has been off since then, so 12 hours when writing this. I won’t be able to post until the electric gets the wifi going. Norm went to our fave Cassarechio for takeouts. I wasn’t very hungry as Retha, Emma and I had been to The Mount Nelson Hotel for High Tea.

I hadn’t been to the Mount Nelson in ages. It’s been around forever. The first time I went was about 1993 or so. I had just received my divorce papers after a very messy divorce. I was living in a log cabin on the lagoon in Knysna and working as a waitress in a cocktail bar…well a pub but I was channelling The Human League for a minute…it was called Crabs Creek. A fellow waitress and good friend and I went down to Cape Town. Me to mark the occasion of my freedom. Her to meet up with her sugar daddy. I now realise he was probably about 60 this sugar daddy, but to me back then he seemed positively geriatric. My friend looked a bit like Mae West and Dolly Parton had a better endowed baby. And then that baby grew up and spent all day rolling around saucily in a barn full of hay. But she was a lot of fun and up for anything. So we were treated by sugar daddy and had high tea and about a dozen bottles of very expensive champagne and then toddled off down Long Street, bought a bottle of tequila and went off to get a tattoo. I got a butterfly on my hip to signify my metamorphosis from repression to freedom and chose a swallowtail because that’s the national butterfly of my home state where I grew up. My friend got a fairy. Fairies were all the rage then. Anyway…..I totally digress.

I had thought I would be clever and park on the street by my office on Friday as it was supposed to rain. I had washed my hair and actually dried it for a change as I wanted to look nice for our tea. But I forgot both my umbrella and my jacket in the car as it was still dry when I walked into work. When I walked out it was into thick sheets of water. I was drenched to the bone by the time I jogged to my car even though it was just across the courtyard. I drove to Mount Nelson and didn’t realise I could use the valet parking if I wasn’t staying there and I had to get my umbrella out of the boot so again, more water. My hair went on the fritz as you can see below.

The tea was served in clear glass infusion type pot and they ask you to leave it for 3-5 minutes to brew. Then they bring a tier of savoury items – all manner of lovely finger sandwiches, tarts, cheese puffs and sausage rolls. Nice thin slivers of salmon and creamed cheese, rare tender roast beef and veggie wraps. All ever so delicate and dainty.

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We had our fill of savoury items then went off to the desserts table. It was so beautifully laid out and the flowers were breathtaking. It was so difficult to choose what to have!

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Emma, Retha and I all got on so well we all babbled away, interrupting each other, stopping and starting in a rhythm that only old friends can usually achieve. Retha and I clicked the 1st time we met, we are both tech industry geeky girls who love attending events and have a bit of a hippie spiritual side. And we make each other laugh. A lot! So it was cool that Emma just fit right into that pace.

As for the service it was as per any restaurant of that caliber, it wasn’t overbearing. There was always someone nearby you could signal but you didn’t think them annoying or obtrusive. The table setting was stunning little florals. The food was very attractive, especially the pastries and desserts. They were all very delicate and beautiful but it was all so much to choose from and none of it had descriptions. You couldn’t possibly try everything so it would be nice if there were little labels at least giving the names. I tried a lemony light creamy cheesecake, a bite of red velvet cake, a pink macaron, a strange thing I didn’t like as it tasted of passion fruit and a rich dark chocolate roulade thingy.

I sampled quite a few of the items on offer, but my fave hands down was the triangular peanut butter and chocolate one.

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Heaven!

Retha negotiated the torrential rain to get us all home safely and I settled in with Norm and the pups in the candlelight.

Saturday night:
It’s now 25 hours since the electricity failed and people are working on resolving it. These issues are due to the contractors who are building a path from the township to the school and putting in streetlights along the main road (yes our village has no street lights as ‘they’ do not want to spoil the village feel. If that’s the case ‘they’ should deal with the crime which I feel is exacerbated by the lack of lighting). The downpour has caused the new work to blow one of the supply thingies. (Switches? Boxes? Who knows).

Last night we didn’t mind too much as we chatted by candlelight and played silly games like ‘I spy’. Even that went a bit off kilter as things often do with us.

We argued. It went like this.
Norm: ‘I spy something beginning with ‘R”
Lisa guesses every single thing in the room then gives up while scratching head in confusion. ‘What is it then’ she asks.
Norm: a ‘red vase’
Lisa: ‘YOU DONT PLAY LIKE THAT U SILLY SCOTSMAN, you say ‘V’ for vase, not the colour! Ok it’s my turn and you play like this, I spy with my little eye something beginning with ‘P”
Norm: quick as a shot ‘painting’
Lisa: ‘yes, you suck I quit’
And that was that.

It was too dark for board games so we had limited options. This morning we spent all morning in bed as we couldn’t even make a coffee so why bother getting up as it was freezing cold. (Some advantages to no electricity *wink wink*.)

But as it is our 17th wedding anniversary it’s kinda messed up our plans. Here is the obligatory pic of us at our wedding. My daughters put the frame on so apologies for that! Haha.

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Sunday:
The electricity finally came on after 36 hours. We were due to go out to Cheyne’s on Saturday night to mark our 17th anniversary but we had no hot water and the alarm battery was flat so we couldn’t leave the house unattended and had to cancel. I was rather gutted about not being able to go out, but Norm spent the evening chasing people to close their electric gates and various other issues triggered by the electricity fault. He even flushed a criminal out of the bushes behind a neighbour’s place. My little Scottish Chuck Norris.

The dogs were cooperative this morning so we had a long lie in as it was so freezing cold. It actually snowed on Saturday night. People even attempted snow men. Bless.

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We then headed off to Ragafellows for a late anniversary celebration.

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We had a delicious meal and we were then treated to a complimentary dessert complete with sparkler.

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It has definitely been the oddest anniversary I’ve ever had, but it was spent with the man I love, we were dry and relatively warm and we coped. The weekend had a fabulous start and a great ending, the middle was all over the place but when has my life ever been smooth sailing!?
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