Category Archives: Images

Summer 2017

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Coffee is still one of my most Favorite Things……

Coffee time is my most favorite time of day…. and for me that can be anytime of day….. I enjoy my espresso, cappuccino, my cups, my flowers and ambiance around my coffee time as much as anything….

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final 6.jpgIt has been awhile …. hummm 6 years?   Just thought I’d say Hello… a lot has happened in 6 years.  I’ll post a couple of images…. a picture is worth a thousand words….



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The simpler side of life…..

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The simpler side of life….. +Pretty in Pink..

Sometimes, our world is so complicated, busy and one might stop to wonder if the joy of the moment is really cherished at all or is it the busyness that we cherish most.

I saw a quote and fondly place it here….

“One of the greatest titles we can have is “old friend”. We never appreciate how important old friends are until we are older. The problem is we need to start our old friendships when we are young. We then have to nurture and grow those friendships over our middle age when a busy life and changing geographies can cause us to neglect those friends. Today is the day to invest in those people we hope will call us ‘old friend” in the years to come.”  ∫unknown


Even when you live next door, it can become difficult to find time to enjoy the company of someone or spend some quality time.  So it just magically all came together, impromptu, everyone was available and we just pulled a bunch of food together had a cool new wine to try and a wine tasting to plan for November…. So we just did it.

Here are some images from our social around food and wine….  We had a delightful time, shared stories and caught up on one another’s lives.

Various cheeses…but by far the most popular was Lemon Zest Cheese..yummy

Artichoke & Jalapeno dip

Lime & Cilantro Shrimp

Grilled steak and Grilled Chicken with Teriyaki




I made a light little dessert of crushed Pistachios layered on bottom, then mascarpone cream, fresh blue berries, topped with strawberry and mint… put them in refrigerator and topped with a dark chocolate almond Bark … served chilled and so easy!

I don’t know where time goes sometimes, but it does disappear quickly… the best I can offer is to capture these slices of life as little memory jogger to slow down and spend a moment in the moment.

Short and Sweet….. as always,  many more images in the slide show…kick back or multi-task while you watch them flicker by…. Enjoy and Share!

Always FaithFul – Marine Devil Dogs

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Semper Fi – Marine Devil Dogs

The term “Devil Dog” is a very common nickname for all Marines and “Devil Dog” is historically a well-accepted term of endearment, as a title of honor.

The “dog” in the phrase is usually associated with the bulldog, in line with the original 1918 poster, such as the English bulldog being a common mascot in the Corps.

However, Dobermans play a significant role in the history of Marines.

The Marine Corps had the first large dog unit in the nation’s history to see action against the enemy.   As early as 1935, the Marines were interested in war dogs.

The first Marine War Dog Training School was at Quantico Bay, Cuba on January 18, 1943, under direction of Captain Samuel T. Brick.  There were 14 Doberman Pinchers donated by the Doberman Pinscher Club of America.   Another war dog training facility at Camp LeJeune, NC recruited dogs for the armed services in 1943.

Being a photographer, I find it so fascinating and moving that we have so much history documented in pictures… sometimes in places you would not expect.  Often times, the photographer is not really welcome but then later, almost always, it’s a blessing to have those captured moments in time that we chronicle photographers love to get…. As you know, I fondly refer to them as “slices of life”.

But I too have had my share of people politely and rudely asking me to just go away and not capture that moment…. I try to be respectful and walk away and then I always feel bad when later they ask me for images I don’t have because I honored  their request…And, and…. on many occasions, those same people have come back years later, asking me  “do you have any images of that “special” moment?  … people always want to hold on to a cherished moment in time and the ONLY way to do that is thru images… cause a moment waits for no one.   I try my best to capture as much as I can as often as I can…. It is my passion and when I am most happy.  People sometimes think I’m a nut job and cannot possibly imagine what joy there is in some of the pictures I take/make… I can’t explain it… but I’d be lost without my eyes in the viewfinder.

Back to the Devil Dog story….

The Dobie’s were tattooed on the inside of the right ear.  Their number recorded in a service record book, along with their call name, breed, date of birth and date of enlistment.   Detailed notes were maintained for type of training received, when they qualified for obedience, scout, messenger and/or special work.

The Dobie’s had to be at least 50 pounds and stand 20 inches high at the withers.   Dogs who failed the test for any reason were sent home.

Dobie’s begin training as Privates; they were promoted on the basis of length of service.  After 3 months, Dobie became a Private First Class, 1 year – a Corporal, 2 years a Sergeant, 3 years – a Platoon Sergeant, 4 years – a Gunnery Sergeant and after 5 years a Master Gunnery Sergeant.  The Dobies could eventually out rank their handlers.

In the early days, the Dobie handlers were just out of boot camp and no prior experience-handling dogs was required.   Each Scout dog was assigned to one handler.   Each messenger dog was assigned two handlers.  All dogs went thru intensive obedience for 6 weeks.

The dogs were taught to heel, down, crawl, come, stay – on both voice and hand signals.   During training no Marine was allowed to play with another Marine’s dog.

Following basic training, Marine dogs were divided up for specialized training:

Messenger dogs were taught to carry messages, ammunition or special medical supplies from one handler to another handler, avoiding all other men.   They were subjected to overhead rifle and machine gun fire and explosions of heavy charges of dynamite and TNT to simulate actual battlefield conditions.

Sentry dogs were trained to warn troops of the approach or nearness of any other humans.    Dogs usually alert to the presence of strangers by barking.  Not many sentry dogs were trained by Marines as they were combat troops and not generally used in the rears.

Scout dogs were trained to alert troops of the enemy and not to bark or tell the enemy where the troops were.  The dogs signaled the detection of strangers in different ways but not by barking.  Devil Dogs were trained NOT to bark.

They become know as SDOD  “Silent Death On Duty”

Dobie’s were trained to detect the presence of the enemy and if necessary attack but the Marines did not want to risk the Dobie’s in an attack, they had weapons for that.

During World War II, a total of 7 Marine War dog Platoons were trained at Camp LeJeune, NC.  All of the dog platoons served in the Pacific in war against the Japanese.

The first Marine Dog Platoon consisted of 48 enlisted men working in pairs as handlers for the 21 Dobermans and 3 Shepherds, plus 6 enlisted instructors and Headquarters personnel.    It was under the command of First Lieutenant Clyde A. Henderson, a Cleveland High School Teacher, who had been a Doberman fancier and amateur trainer for a decade before the war.

Because of the Dobie’s keen sense of smell and hearing, they could detect the presence of men several hundred yards away. In one instance, the dogs detected the presence of Japanese troops one half mile away.

The Dobie’s handlers always had help digging their foxholes; the other Marines always wanted the handler and their dogs nearby.

No unit protected by one of the dogs was ever ambushed by the Japanese or was there ever a case of Japanese infiltration.

During the Guam campaign fourteen dogs were killed in action and ten more died from exhaustion, tropical maladies, heat stroke, accidents, and anemia from hookworm. All were buried there on Guam, at what was to become the first War Dog Memorial years later.

The most outstanding incident of the First Marine Dog Platoon’s record on Bougainville came on November 14, with Andy (a Dobie) and his handlers as the principals. Andy was the Doberman who had led the Raiders inland on the first day: he was popularly referred to as “Gentleman Jim” because of his aristocratic demeanor and aloofness with the other dogs.

A Marine force up front ran into stiff Japanese resistance that day of the action. Andy’s two handlers, Privates Robert E. Lansley and John B. Mahoney, volunteered to take their Dobermans and seek out the enemy strong points.

They had complete faith in Andy’s ability to spot whatever was out there. The three moved beyond the lines into the heavy foliage. Andy was about 25 yards out front, when he stopped short; and looked to the left and right, the way he always alerted. The two soldiers crept up along a little trail behind Andy and saw two machine gun nests, one of each side of the trail. The two handlers started shooting, Lansley threw two grenades and when it was all over, eight Japanese were dead. The wiping out of the machine gun nests by Andy and the two handlers permitted that entire sector of the line to move forward.

More than 1,000 dogs had trained as Marine Devil Dogs during World War II. Rolo, one of the first to join the Devil Dogs, was the first Marine dog to be killed in action. 29 war dogs were listed as killed in action, 25 of those deaths occurred on the island of Guam. Today, the U.S. Marine Corp maintains a War Memorial (created by former 1st Lt. William W. Putney, who was the veterinarian for the dogs on Guam; and funded by public donation), on Guam, for those 25 War Dogs that served and died there during WW II.

Many people aren’t aware that Dobermans were used in the war. Their service to us in history only makes the Doberman breed even more special.

Here is a quick War Dog Memorial Video for the Dobie fans out there.  (8 minutes but really amazing)

You can also check out this previous post on the Doberman pinscher soldier for more information and pictures of the lessor known heroes .

Doberman Military Service—doberman-full.html

I came upon a lovely lady that does sculptures and befriended her, chatting for quite some time.   She is widely known for her war dog memorials.   She has many limited editions and commissioned sculptures.  She is on the video for the dedication of the Always Faithful statue at the Guam Memorial.

On Aug 26, 2010, at 2:54 PM, Susan Bahary wrote:

Hi Cass,

It was lovely speaking with you last week. I was at a horse show exhibiting my dog and horse pieces when we spoke. Just want you to know that I finally got to open your e-mail on my computer and see the links you sent. Love your photographs, from the nature shots to the adorable, Dobie’s to the patriotic images!

Best Regards,

Susan Bahary

The Doberman is my breed of choice,  I love them….

They are gentle, smart, low maintenance and the biggest hunks of love you’ll ever find.



I share my life with a Doberman,

A protector and a friend-
Intelligent and daring,

Devoted to the end.

So sleek and quick,

On constant watch,

A dog that earns your praise-

Yet with a heart of purest gold,

And gentle, loving ways.

So noble and reliable,

A winner from the start.

When I saw a Doberman,

I quickly lost my heart.

Poet: Unknown

 I’ve researched Devil Dogs and collected notes, images and information for several years now, and dedicate a blog post annually for respect to Man’s Best Friend.  I’ve tried to credit where I can, often the images are so old and so small with no reference as to where they came from and I wish I knew who the photographer was…. hint:  a reason to put watermarks or branding…it follows the image hopefully for years  and sometimes I would love to know more about these brave men or women photographers that took these action shots and how the image got preserved all these years….. and give credit where credit is due… duh!  How cool that would be to me!  I feel like sometimes,  while there are many heroes  to honor in our world, most often, the “photographer” is by far the least appreciated…. they are preserving the legacy of and for everyone else, but no one preserves the legacy of the person that captures, creates, savors and personalizes the moments to cherish and remember… why is no one curious of them but little ole me?  They are humans making a huge contribution, often big sacrifices, little pay, little recognition and yet they still do their job with amazing enthusiasm…. think about it at least for a nano-second.   Just Saying….imagine what the world would look like without images… without photographers… would you miss us then?   Take a moment to appreciate an artist today!  Make my Day!   🙂  be pawistive!!!!

As always,  the slide show has many more images than in the post…. scroll forward or back with the arrows… or relax and watch history pass on your screen while you are on a telecom…. or sip a nice dark roasted coffee!


From a Former Marine Devil Dog:

On Sep 6, 2011, at 3:48 PM


Semper Fi! Awesome photographs, awesome story and awesome video. I noticed that the Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Carl Munday, Commandant from 1991 to 1995, was the keynote speaker at the dedication of the war dog memorial. I meet General Munday at a Khe Sanh Veterans reunion in 1993, the year before the war dog memorial was dedicated. He was the executive officer of 3/26 at Khe Sanh in 1968. Munday was a fantastic Commandant of the Marine Corps. Oorah!!!



Peaches and Mascarpone Cream

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Oh what a delightful little desert we made this morning.

We had this at one of our local restaurants with some friends recently and Marty said,  “Oh that’s easy to make” so while I set up my props…. He was mixing away with his giant Kitchen Aide mixer.

We had gathered fresh peaches at the local farmers market on Sat and they were ripe and juicy.

I thinly sliced the peaches and made two servings for us.

It was delicious!

We have enough Mascarpone Cream filling for three more with three more peaches.

It’s is light, fresh and not too rich or filling.

And with us, the pups are part of the process.  Raleigh was supervising the entire process,

Quigley is not as hands on, she will go take a nap and come out when there might be some dishes to wash…. She’s excellent at prepping the bowls for the dishwasher.

Recipe we used…

Mascarpone Cream Filling by Martha Stewart ©2004


Makes 3 cups

  • 2 cups mascarpone cheese
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream


Beat mascarpone and sugar on medium speed in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk until combined. Add cream; beat until stiff.

From Martha Stewart Weddings, Summer 2004

Peaches and Mascarpone Cream

Serves 2

2 large peaches

Martha’s mascarpone cheese

1 teaspoon Almond
 (just added touch… I like a hint of Almond)

Slice the peaches using a paring knife, I left skins on peaches.

Beat together the mascarpone, almond, sugar and cream. Add however much cream you would like to get a desired consistency. I go for a thicker cream consistency.

Layer the peaches and cream in a bowl or glass. Enjoy at any time of day!

Enjoy and share!

Collaboration Kitchen With Mitch’s SeaFood

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Tommy Gomes, the Son of a Portuguese fishing family and a Fisherman himself from San Diego, started Collaboration Kitchen on a bet.  Someone bet him he could not do it…. Tenacious Tommy took the bet and we are all happy he did because once a month, local folks get to experience a tasty meal prepared by one of San Diego’s finest Chefs right in the warehouse floor of Catalina Offshore Products.

Ticket sales are sold out lickity split!  Monarch School for homeless and at risk kids are the beneficiaries from Collaboration Kitchen Fund Raiser.

Let me show you how it works, around 100 + people show up with their chilled wine and get to tour the giant refrigerated rooms and deep chest freezers, lobster and shrimp tanks, see oversized scallops and a huge packing and distribution facility for Sea Urchins.  Basically see the freshest seafood and learn all about it from one of the most knowledgeable sources I’ve ever met.

A Chef and his/her team is in the designated kitchen area, cutting, slicing, dicing and getting dinner prepped.    There are plenty of things going on behind the scenes a good hour or more before guest arrive.   Specialty Foods brings over lots of fresh local farm produce for the evening meal.  Video and camera crews are setting up to film the experience.

The Chef demonstration begins and everyone is ready with hearty appetites because you are going to get a 6-7-course meal.  When the Chef needs a little extra prep time, Tommy pulls out fresh fish and slices up sashimi and the line forms.

An interesting bit of information shared this evening was about Fish Pearls…

Sometimes used for jewelry ….

July featured Mitch’s Seafood, a local place Marty and I go to probably 3 times a week.  It is a simple little restaurant by Point Loma Seafood and we sit on the deck overlooking the fishing boats come in.   It’s dog friendly, so we often take our Dobie’s or meet other dogs there as well.

Also Veni Delights from Venissimo Cheese, which is one of Marty’s favorite stops.

On to the evening in July where Dan and Tommy entertain us with banter back and forth of informative dialogs about local sustainable food sources.   This is a show and tell evening…. There are no Teleprompters and its just good stuff!   Where ever the conversation goes… one of them will go to the freezer and pull out a demonstration with that particular fish, crab, sea urchin.  There is no lag time happening at this event.   You are eating no… you are grazing non-stop the entire evening… and you leave with a belly full of healthy foods.   Many times the recipes are shared as the Chef prepares the meals and answers questions so people can make this at home.    *all recipes in amounts suitable for 2-4 diners

About Mitch Conniff-Chef/Owner Mitch’s Seafood

 | Featured Chef

Mitch Conniff is the chef/owner of Mitch’s Seafood in Point Loma. Mitch’s is a casual, waterfront Seafood restaurant specializing in the freshest, locally caught seafood. The restaurant was opened under the premise that good local seafood should be available in a laid back environment, simply prepared, showcasing the bounty of our coastal waters.


Besides Mitch, the restaurant is owned by a duo of fisherman that supply much of the fish for the restaurant.  

Prior to opening Mitch’s Seafood, Mitch Conniff was the Sous Chef/Banquet Chef at JSix restaurant in downtown San Diego, one of the local leaders in the Slow Food movement. Prior to that he was the Executive Chef aboard the sportfishing vessel American Angler, departing from San Diego on long range fishing trips down the Baja Coast.


Mitch has been an avid fisherman since early childhood and his years cooking aboard the boat were spent catching and preparing a wide variety of fish and learning as much as possible about our local waters and fisheries. Before embarking on his adventures at sea Mitch honed his seafood skills at Steamer’s Grillhouse, a well known seafood restaurant in Los Gatos, CA.


Salmon and Summer Corn Chowder


  • Two pounds fresh wild or sustainable farmed Salmon cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 2 ears fresh summer corn shucked
  • 1 cup cooked white beans (any variety will work such as Navy, Cannellini or Gigante or try a fresh shelling bean like cranberry beans or fava found at Specialty Produce or Local Farmers Market
  • 2 Leaks diced
  • 5 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 2 cups white wine
  • 4 cups chopped fresh tomatoes or peeled canned tomatoes roughly chopped
  • 4 sprigs time
  • 1 bay leaf
  • A few drops hot sauce
  • Chopped parsley or chives for garnish
  • Olive Oil for Sautéing and a little to drizzle over the top of each bowl.


Sweat the leaks, onion, garlic and celery in large pot.  Add Corn, bay leaf and thyme and cook for a minute longer then add wine and bring to a boil and reduce by one third.  Add tomatoes and beans and simmer lightly for half hour to combine flavors.  Turn off heat and adjust salt and pepper to taste, add hot sauce.  Add salmon with heat turned off and cover the pot.  The salmon will gently cook in about 5 minutes.  Serve the stew with a little chive or parsley over the top and drizzle each bowl with a little high quality extra virgin olive oil.   * For a different take on this dish you could also substitute some or all of the salmon with smoked salmon giving the dish a taste like you added bacon or smoked sausage.

BBQ Oysters



Shuck oysters leaving as much brine in the Oyster as possible.  Spoon a small amount of Garlic/Smoked Paprika Butter into each oyster.  Arrange Oysters on grill so that none of the oyster liquor or butter drains out, using aluminum foil under the oysters if necessary.  Cook for about 3 minutes allowing the oysters to poach in the butter and pick up the smoky flavor.  Do not overcook the oysters or they will become shriveled up and chewy.

Asian Pear Marinated BBQ Yellowtail Collar


  • 2-3 Yellowtail collars cut into individual servings (each collar should provide 1-3 servings depending on how hungry you are and whether you are eating dish as an entrée or an appetizer.
  • Asian Pear Marinade (recipe follows)
  • Quick Pickled Sesame Cucumber (recipe follows)
  • 2-3 Green Onions thinly sliced for garnish


Marinate Yellowtail collars overnight, reserving about 2 cups of the marinade for basting. Prepare a barbecue for grilling over medium flame.  Remove collars from marinade and let sit at room temperature for about ½ hour before cooking (this allows the fish to come up to the temperature which allows more even cooking and it also allows the marinade to drain off a little which will reduce barbecue flare up which can scorch the fish).   Grill the fish over the medium flame turning after about 10 minutes and grill for 5 minutes more basting with the reserved marinade a few times to glaze the fish.  You are looking to get nice charred grill marks on the flesh, but not overly blacken or burn the fish.  Which can happen easily due to the high sugar content in the marinade.  Grilling yellowtail collars is unlike grilling or cooking just about any other part of the fish in that you can cook it for a longer period of time without it drying out.  It is akin to cooking a chicken thigh or drumstick due to the fact that you are cooking it on the bone and it’s higher fat content.  It also contains muscle like a chicken thigh or leg which requires a little more cooking time to breakdown, but due to it’s higher fat content it becomes tender and luscious as it cooks.  Once the fish is cooked brush it with some of the reserved marinade, sprinkle with the green onion and eat with the pickled cucumber and rice and a little hot sauce to taste. Dig in with your hands and eat the collars like a drumstick or ribs and leave the knife and fork for another meal.

Asian Pear Marinade


  • 2 twelve ounce cans Asian pear juice (available in the Asian department of supermarket or at Ranch 99)
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • 1 cup Rice wine vinegar
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 3 tablespoons Ginger Grated
  • 2 tablespoon (or more if you like) of Sambal Oleck or Sriracha Hot sauce
  • 3 green onions thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons toasted Sesame oil.


Combine all ingredients thoroughly

Quick Pickled Sesame Cucumbers


  • 1 pound Japanese or English cucumbers (peeled if you prefer, but personally I do not) cut into ¼ inch thick rings
  • 4 cups rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2-3 tablespoons crushed red chilies
  • 2 tablespoons Toasted Sesame Oil
  • ¼ picked Cilantro Leaves


Combine all the ingredients except the cucumbers and whisk together to dissolve the sugar and salt. Pour the marinade over the cucumbers and toss together to ensure the cucumbers are evenly coated.  Let sit a minimum of four hours until the cucumbers are slightly softened pickled.

Fish Tacos    |     White Sea bass (or any fish you want)


  • 8 2-oz pieces of white seabass
  • 1 pound shredded green cabbage
  • 16 white corn tortillas
  • Salsa Fresca (combine diced tomato, red onion, cilantro, jalapeno pepper, lime juice and salt, let sit for ½ hour before serving
  • Mitch’s seafood garlic lime crema (recipe follows)
  • Paprika, salt and melted butter with lemon and garlic in it for grilling the fish


Prepare a grill or grill pan to medium hot and brush fish with seasoned melted butter and season with paprika and salt.  Grill fish basting with butter while it cooks.  Fish will only take a few minutes to cook depending on the size and thickness of the filets, so be careful not to overcook it.  Meanwhile heat the tortillas on the grill until soft.   Using two tortillas for each taco put a little cabbage in the tortillas, place the fish inside and spoon a little salsa and the crema over the top and enjoy with a squeeze of lime and your favorite hot sauce.

Mitch’s Seafood Garlic Lime Crema


  • 2 cups Mexican sour cream (available in pretty much every supermarket now, but you can also use regular sour cream)
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • Salt to taste


Combine all ingredients and mix thoroughly.


Venissimo Cheese was founded by Gina & Roger Freize in San Diego, California, in 2003. But it almost never opened! The owner of the retail space was not interested in splitting a larger space nor leasing a little wedgie to an unknown business in an unknown industry (who wants to buy just cheese)?  After spending months calling & faxing reasons to let Venissimo in, Gina overheard that the owner would be at the site on a certain day. So she snuck in with a cheese plate to let the product speak for itself. Needless to say, the owner was convinced & agreed to the deal the very next day!  Venissimo Mission Hills opened its doors on January 17, 2004.  Roughly three years later, Venissimo opened its second location in Del Mar.  It’s third shop in Belmont Shore opened in November 2008 & its newest location – complete with an Academy of Cheese (AoC) – just opened in downtown San Diego in September 2009! 

Bucherondin with Edible Micro Flowers

A classic French chevre (goat cheese), aged only two months, with mineral notes and chalky texture at the tip and tangy flavor with a silky texture near the edible rind.

Lamb Chopper with Dried Cherries

Organic sheep milk Gouda from cypress grove cheese in Northern California, silky smooth and rick in pure sheep milk flavor.

Gorgonzola Dolce with Honeycomb or Fruit Nut Crostini

A sweet (dolce) blue from Lombardy, Italy, creamy & dreamy, classically enjoyed as a dessert.

Collaboration Kitchen 7/10/11 – Mitch’s Seafood & Venissimo 

Mitch Conniff Chef/Owner Mitch’s Seafood in Point Loma“Sustainable Seafood and the Consumer”

Venissimo CheeseMission Hills 619.491.0708 | Del Mar 858.847.9616 | San Diego 619.358.9081

Sometimes, they even cut and package take home bags of fresh fish for sale at the end of the evening.

A great evening for a wonderful cause put together by good people.  Catalina Offshore donates all the seafood and all the produce donated by Specialty Products to support Monarch School.

100% of proceeds will go to San Diego charities through Fruit of the Soul!

A good thing and a wonderful time!   Enjoy! Comments welcome!  Nice one  of  course!

Julie & Robbie Frans | Environmental Chefs

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Julie & Robbie Frans | Environmental Chefs

I was photographing a Grand Opening Event for a local restaurant and in come many of the chefs I typically work with.  I was overjoyed to see familiar faces and by now the crowd was large and loud but I worked my way over to greet them with my camera in hand.  I was introduced to a new person,  Julie Frans.  We immediately hit it off and it was one of those occasions where you just bounce from one topic to another so quickly, while excited that you have so much to talk about to this person you just met.

We quickly discovered that we were both going to Hawaii in the next couple of weeks and it was shocking to realize we were going to the same Island of Oahu…. And the exact same dates… Get Out!  How can this be?   Well we immediately decided we would get together while we was there, they would prepare a meal, I’d photograph it along with family.   Oh and did I mention, Julie’s husband is a Chef too?

They have two adorable small kids, a boy John about 2 ½ and a little girl just a crawling age ….and her name is “Cassie”…

OMG, it just was amazing the things that continued to pop up in the conversation that made you think the universe sometimes does just bring people together for a reason, a season, or a lifetime…. We just never know.

Over the next few weeks, Julie and I corresponded to make sure we had all the information, dates and arrangements made before we left for our trip so it would go smoothly while we were all on vacation.   Early Thursday June morning, I left for the airport to catch a direct flight to Hawaii; my husband had gone earlier and was already on his way there.  I had dropped off the pups and now waiting patiently, relaxed with plenty of time to spare.  I hate travel, so feeling relaxed was a good thing, I was a bit worried about my gear cause I took lots since I had two working jobs there and the airlines are no longer the friendly skies of days gone by.   While I was rocking and playing with my ipad, I see a couple with two small kids … yep, it was Robbie & Julie with John and Cassie.   We were on the same flight.

Once in Hawaii, vacation started mixed in with some prior work commitments so while it’s a laid back tropical Island, we did keep a rather hectic pace.  I was out photographing early before sunrise each day and then I’d meet up with Marty for Breakfast somewhere.   Saturday was my photo shoot at the Frans home and we were going over for dinner and sunset.

It was a lovely drive to get there and on a part of the Island I had not yet been to.   They had such a lovely home with a fabulous view, Julie’s parents were there as well, along with other siblings, and it was a Wedding event that brought the whole family to the Island.

It was so fun to see two chefs work together while also managing little ones, a balancing act you could see they had managed to get under control quite well…of course the Grandparents were also there picking up any slack with the kids. Julie’s parents, Kathy & Jim were equally nice and fun to visit with.

I begin to learn more about how they met and backgrounds.  Robbie was super friendly, it was my first time meeting him and they were so hospitable.   Robbie was from Grand Rapids, Michigan and I had been to Mackinac Island and it was fun to chat about that cute place.   Robbie told us he went to school in Denver, Colorado… Well that’s where I had my USAF technical training, so we chatted about Denver, which I also dearly loved.

They made us drinks and we proceeded to get acquainted.  My senses were in overload!

There were views, beautiful family, adorable kids, and glorious foods being prepared…. And great stories being shared.  It was amazing!   We also learned we were at the Hawaii beautiful Farmers Market at exactly the same time that Sunday morning!

Robbie landed a job as a private Chef aboard a 110’ yacht for a US Ambassador.    He traveled all over the world with this family as well as studying foods throughout Europe, specializing in healthy, low fat but delicious tasting and gorgeous presentations.

He met Julie at the produce stand at Chino Farms.  He proposed to her with the diamond tied to a purple mustard green, if that doesn’t say “creative” wait till you see some of the foods!

Julie got her culinary education at UC Santa Barbara in 2000 and then worked as a private Chef traveling aboard private and charter yachts for several years.

She returned to San Diego, her hometown, in 2005 to realize her dream was providing luxury gourmet dining experience for people in their homes. She started her own business, Dining Details, a catering business that provides quality Chefs to homes and businesses throughout San Diego.

Clients can choose from Seasonal Menus and Dining Details provides the recipes so the guest can make their own meals later as well.    She also created newsletters and cooking clubs to teach the importance of organics, whole foods, healthy lifestyles and the business continues to grow and sprout up new services such as Chickpeas | Healthy Kid Food.

Chickpeas provides Mom Cooking classes, cooking for kids with allergies and baby food making to name a few.   Julie and Robbie work with local schools for school lunch catering and consulting services.   They have an on line ordering system so the parents can click and order special menus for each child.  They work with the parents for cooking demos for the kids and summer camp programs.     Julie has request for several book projects and so far she has not had the time to do them but has the ideas clicking in the back of her head.

With two small children and owning their own busy catering business, they rely heavily on family to help with the kids and juggle schedules.  Julie was back at work 4 days after Cassie was born.   She was telling me how sometimes it would break her heart to hear John cry and say “Mommy go work now” and they started to re-evaluate what they wanted and how they would go about getting that so that their new family life could become their priority and not take the back seat to the business daily demands.

Robbie will be returning to work as a private chef for a family in Miami that he worked for previously.   He will begin working with them late July early August and Julie will join him in October with the kids.  This will give them time to sell their home belonging, arrange for relocation housing in Miami and tidy up the business ends.   The 1750 square foot Dining Details rental kitchen in El Cajon, has been picked up by Chef Julie Darling of “Just Call Us – Catering, Volunteers and Kitchen Rentals”.   Julie Frans will continue to create recipes, write newsletters, develop her blog and start those books that she has so many requests for.

This change in their lifestyle will allow Julie to be Mommy first, continue in her school lunch programs and remain active in the food industry.  Since her family lives in San Diego, she will come back to visit frequently and keep the catering business and staff running thru their website on line business.  She can manage these activities from anywhere and she said little 2-year-old John said “Mommy stay home?… Yea!” and that brought such relief and a smile to her face to think she will have the opportunity to raise her own children, spending quality time with them while being able stay active and connected to her passion which is to participate in the local food movement and it’s impact on children.  She has many ideas on how she will follow that dream.

While I think this is such a wonderful thing and a very smart thing, I will surely miss my new friends.  We enjoyed them so very much and had a delightful visit in Hawaii.

I was fortunate and had both my parent with me on the farm 7×24, and I have fond memories when little knowing they were always there.  I guess I never really understood why have kids if  you just had someone else raise them and miss all those special moments? In a wink …then they are gone…  It really is the parent’s who are ultimately responsible for their own children I believe and the best way to do that is to spend quality time learning what it takes to be a parent to each little unique creatures you’ve created… Some say it’s the most prestegious job on the planet…a gift per se. I always admire people that cherish the position of parent,  teach them how to make and keep friends…but “Mom” “Dad” that’s a pretty special role if done right.. and it take wisdom, time, and unselfishness to sometimes be strong enough. Not an easy task but rewarding if early stages are firm and consistent… I always thought a good test to see if you could do it was raise a dog… with their short lifespan, you get to see the fruits of your labor.

I know on a much smaller scale with my Dobie’s, each one is so unique and different, I have to learn what works and what doesn’t with each personality and take the time and patience to develop the best qualities in them so they are pleasant to be around… so I think this is definitely “A Good Thing”!

I will miss you guys and will always remember fondly that beautiful Hawaii day.


Greek yogurt marinated lamb slowly roasted on the grill topped with an herbe salsa verde

Aloha! Enjoy and share a note.  Many Thanks  as I do my best to “capture the moments, freeze a little time…it’s what I do!”

Figs the Forbidden Fruit

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Figs have become a fascination with  me.  While l I don’t recall ever having them as a kid, my husband, who grew up in Southern CA, will get them when they are in season.   I remember as a kid having Fig Newton bars and then during the years when I bicycled a lot,  I’d get the whole wheat fig bars and have them for my quick energy snack.  But as a raw fruit, it’s a little bit new to me.   It’s not un-common to have a fig tree here in Southern CA.  So might as well figure out what to do with them I suppose.

I’ve come to realize that the fig is an ancient fruit, many believed forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden.  According to the California Fig Association, figs are an incredible versatile dish that can be made into chutney, jams, jellies, spreads, salsa, baking, appetizers or just slice ’em and dice ’em.  I guess I had no idea they went much beyond fig newtons… ha!  Got to love sometimes living a sheltered life on a farm.  You eat what you grow and we did not grow figs.  We didn’t buy much food from the store and Fig Newton were one of the things we did get store-bought.

I found several recipes that interest me while these magically little fruits are in season,  some of my favorites are the ones that blend salty taste with the sweet such as prosciutto or bacon  wrapped figs, another is in an Arugula Salad with a vinaigrette dressing.    Cheeses I found have a nice flavor with Figs.  I love cheese and it seems you can eat them cold with an appetizer plate of variety of cheese or melted and slightly baked with the figs and served hot.

My iStock image

My iStockPhoto image

A fruit and cheese platter with some herbs would pair well with white wines,  but then I enjoy a light refreshing white wine in the summertime.

My iStock image

My iStockPhoto image

Some red wines are good  choices such as zinfandel for these bold flavor combinations of blue cheese or stronger flavored cheese and figs.   I generally have a supply of  Raincoast Crisp crackers on hand and one of the flavors even has fig in it.

My iStock image

iStockPhoto image

Another thing I learned, is figs just don’t last long.  So what ever you plan to do with them,  better have all your ingredients and be ready to whip it up cause you only have a couple of days tops and that seems to be a stretch from what I’ve found, maybe I’m just busy and time slips away but seriously,  I need to get a platter ready to serve for a nice sunset.

This is just a short little teaser for things to come with figs while they are in supply here in Southern California,  I will be trying a couple of recipes … here is one that sounds like I will try soon:


  • 4 to 6 regular smoked bacon slices (2 1/4 to 3 1/2 ounces uncooked)
  • 12 small fresh ripe figs, such as white or Calimyrna, halved lengthwise
  • About 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/3 cup (about 1 1/2 ounces) crumbled mild herbed goat cheese
Preheat the oven to 350° F. In a medium heavy skillet, place the bacon slices in a single layer and cook over low to medium-low heat, turning as needed until just beginning to brown. Transfer to a paper towel to drain. Cut each bacon slice into 4 or 6 pieces.
Arrange the figs on a baking sheet, cut sides up. Brush the cut surfaces with balsamic vinegar. Place a piece of bacon on each cut side. Top with a small crumble of cheese. Bake until the figs are warmed, about 8 minutes. The cheese will not melt but may toast a bit. Serve immediately.
Let me know if you try this before I get to it and tell me what you think!  Enjoy!

My iStockPhoto images 

Three Chef Delight at OliveWood Gardens

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I watched, camera posed as Chef Julie and her dog,  Camie (a gentle black lab) meet and greet the 3rd grade group, welcoming them into the OWG kitchen to participate in preparing a meal with three experienced chefs.

Chef Julie is telling the kids to ask for help in putting on their aprons as she hands out the aprons to this particular group of kids.   I remember hearing one little kid saying “I can put my apron on all by myself, I don’t need any help”  and Chef Julie replied,  “I know you can, but we need to learn how to ask for help as we go thru life so this is a little exercise in helping one another”.

I smiled to myself, thinking what a nice thing to teach these young kids cause I doubt any of us get thru life without asking for help at some point in time and also learning to give help to another is something that may be becoming a lost gift with our “me-centric” society.

So the kids come bouncing and laughing into the kitchen to meet the other chefs,  Chef Caron and Chef Tommy.

Brief intros are given by Chef Julie;  Chef Caron is a food writer for a variety of magazines and Chef Tommy is a life long fisherman who now sells fish commercially to local restaurants and business for healthy meals,

and me, a Photographer who loves capturing picture stories… it’s fun to watch the kids as they hear about each of us and I remember when I was a kid learning what someone did may spark ideas in my brain putting a journey into my head that just  might be something I wanted to grow up and be someday… it’s so cool  to see the little mind-wheels turning as the introductions are made and almost always someone has a question or two… they are listening, studying each of us and curious to understand or compare what they already knew,  one kid’s Dad was a fisherman… it’s so cute!

Each kid has to march by the sink to wash their hands and then around the counter to find a seat at the bar where they will be given the kitchen rules.   Once their hands are washed, they are not to continue petting Camie,  I remember one little girl being afraid of dogs and Camie is so sweet and gentle,  a trained therapy dog,  she obediently lays down once the kitchen work is started.

The little girl continued to watch Camie as if she was going to jump up from her sleep and attack her, she even asked Chef Julie if the dog would bite her and Chef Julie assured her that Camie would not.   By the end of the kitchen hour – she was hugging Camie and completely smitten by the gentleness a good dog brings to the atmosphere and attitude of the room.

The Pledge: I won’t get this exactly verbatim and I should as many times as I’ve heard it myself, but I’m busy capturing all the shinny little eager faces that I hear it in the background and haven’t committed it to my own memory… but it goes something like:   Raise your hand and repeat after me please: I solemnly  promise to raise my hand to speak and only one conversation will be going on at a time and I promise to take at least one bite of the food today before I say No Thank You I don’t like that, and I really really really mean it.. Today’s menu is fresh Garden Gazpacho and fresh shrimp.

All the kids repeat and giggle as they site the pledge….

and the kitchen work begins!  Chef Caron asked for help to chop garlic and gets the energy of the room going with enthusiasm, many of the kids had never used a chopper and Chef Caron demonstrated how you could really get rid of any anger or mad feelings by pounding on the garlic chopper,  the kids laughed and cheered as the volunteer made minced garlic pounding their tiny fist onto the chopper.

Next someone needs to shuck and cut the corn,  chop up tomatoes, peppers, onions, parsley and cilantros, squeeze limes….

one by one the ingredient was prepared by a volunteer child and they watched with wide-eyed amazement as a Garden Gazpacho came to life in minutes….

They had many questions or stories of their own to tell if they helped in their own home kitchen preparing meals.

Chef Tommy taught them how to peal and devein shrimp,  the difference between frozen and fresh,  how to smell the ocean and not fishy smell…

Thumbs up or down on the meal they prepared was amazingly positive and if someone was not so sure,  the Chefs added a squirt of lime or hot sauce and that usually did the trick.

Each group had a designated Compost Commander to help with putting the compost from today’s meal onto the OliveWood garden compost pile for use in the garden.

On this particular day,  it was the first visit to OWG from this school and the groups were divided into kitchen meal planning, garden identification of plant parts and a tour of the 116 year old Walton Home which is the OliveWood Garden House.

There were six (6) groups that would come thru the kitchen so by the end of the day, the chefs, tour guides, photographers and all general helpers were exhausted for sure.

The tour around the house was a favorite of many of the kids because the house is an old victorian style home with secret passages and stain glass windows, trees that reach beyond the upstairs windows to allow you to see the birds, flowers and the beauty of nature at it’s peak.

One of the new words they learned in the home tour was “symmetry” as the house was built with a sense of harmonious balance and proportionality, meaning that the house shape on one side or floor mirrors that of the other half or side.  The human eye naturally finds beauty and appeal in Architecture symmetry.

In addition to the design, they loved the old stairways, squeaky wooden floors,  old fireplaces in almost every room,  the old style toilets with the water tank on top and a chain pull.

Stories were told about the Walton family and how one of the sons had cancer and they grew all the fresh foods from the gardens and provided him with the healthiest of fresh foods and he is now 23 years old and living a life free of cancer.

They loved looking at the old paintings, many done by Mrs Walton and the rooms had artwork on the walls in the children’s room that displayed many of the things you would see around the house and farm.

They played the game of “I SPY” led by one of the older children, Cerise,  working at OWG for summer camp.   The younger kids were completely mesmerized by the stories of the house and Walton family.  (I used fisheye lens for interior and most of the images I left with the fisheye distortion)

Off in the gardens,  they have many new words to learn as they explore the grounds and find things they can eat from the garden.  They are taught to identify what part of the plant is edible into Roots, Stems, Leaves, Flowers, Fruits or Seeds.

As they do a sort of Easter Egg hunt for these Six elements of the plant parts they can run to a big chalk board and write the name on the board.

Lots of discussion is going on around all this and the kids are like little sponges…absorbing everything and sharing it back to their teacher and Miss Cass (me) or who ever is there at that instant.

I smiled to myself so frequently as I listened and watched.   I had a 300mm lens to get away from them and still capture moments because I found the kids are fascinated with my camera gear and want to be in the photos,  Model Releases are done in advance so they are fully aware that there may be TV crews and camera crews around and are all too eager to smile for the camera but sometimes it can create a little “ham” in the group and he/she is not paying attention. So, once I’m introduced and they know who I am,  I prefer to just become a fly on the wall and capture my moments in a more subdued or low key style, hopefully getting “real moments” as opposed to too many “overreactions or exaggerated” faces geared to the camera.

It was an EXCELLENT day and most all the kids were so interactive and eager to try everything, but there is always a few who are not as adventurous and a little bit of creative talent is needed from the Chefs and OWG volunteers.

I notice that these picky personalities are developed very early in years… we are already quite set in our ways at such an early stage of life… funny, how sometimes an experience like today can give them a new perspective and maybe change their lives in a positive way forever…. we may not always know how  we impact or influences others behavior… Role Models are very valuable!

This day was an experience I know ALL these kids will remember the rest of their lives,  it’s so unique, fun and educational and with a few little clever maneuvers the Chefs were able to develop a complete attitude adjustment turing a “no-way” into “can I have seconds” with healthy, yet yummy food experiences.

I’m so happy I grew up in the country and had all this every day but city children don’t get to see live chickens roaming around, gather eggs, pick tomatoes and eat them right then, pet a dog and dig in the dirt.

Combine that with some of the finest Chefs from San Diego that volunteer each week at OWG and you have a moment in time that Will Be Remembered the rest of their lives.. I guarantee it!

There are tons of images in the slide show (well 347) and I encourage you to watch it rather than your favorite TV show…. if it does not bring a smile to your face to see all these kids excited about learning where food comes from and how to prepare it… you are just having a bad day…

…but I bet it will still bring a chuckle or two.  Take a moment and enjoy these slices of life… it was small space and really low light and I wanted to fire for action, so I shot a very high ISO and sometimes the grain shows but just look beyond that for the beautiful moments.   it took me over 7 hours of post production just to get thru a 6 hour power shoot with dozens of kids  and many fun ones left in the folder but over all…..Priceless!

It would bring a big smile to my face if you left a nice note just letting me know if it maybe touched you in some way, or you enjoyed it….Thank you in advance!

Home Grown Tomato Sandwich

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Being from a farm in the south, I grew up on Peanut butter and banana sandwiches and sometimes Tomato Sandwiches…. well today seemed like a good day for a fresh Tomato Sandwich.

Marty has planted tomato plants 2 years now and we get these large beautiful vines and sometimes little yellow blooms but no tomatoes….this year I trimmed the vines back and we got a couple of tiny tiny little tomatoes that took about 3 weeks to ripen and did not taste much better than the ones from the CA grocery store.

He came home with some fresh tomatoes from Linda, his Admin, that her husband had grown in their yard and he was overflowing with tomatoes. We can only image that maybe the weather is not warm enough along the coast? Marty thinks we don’t get enough sunshine but we actually get full sun all day where the tomatoes were planted…. Nonetheless, we have a bowl full of pretty tomatoes that are tasty from Linda and I decided I’d make myself a tomato sandwich.

There is a number of things I’ve learned to add to this simple but delightful light lunch, sometimes I make a Tomato | Basil | Bacon, sometimes, a Tomato | Avocado | Cilantro, but today what I had on hand was Tomato | Sweet Onion | Cucumber | Basil with Tzatziki yogurt & cucumber dip. I added a little organic mustard from Trader Joes and toasted my Multi Grain bread and had a wonderful quick and light lunch!

Add my bubble water with some mint and cucumber in it and it was as refreshing a Popsicle

Thanks Linda for the Tomatoes!


Oh where were the dobies today?   Well Raleigh, now 18 months old… has graduated from his night time crate to a full size dog bed…. he’s doing great!  But the bed came today so both dogs are fascinated with it….

Quigley who already has her own bed,  had to be first on the pups new bed….just like kids!

Enjoy!  Got to run to an appt now!


Sustainable lifestyle…. here’s one way..

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Sorry I’ve been traveling, super busy and NOW I have a lot of things to tell you about!   While I like to “chronicle”, I’ll be playing catch-up in no specific order…. I  do  hope you enjoy and share with me the delightful experiences I’ve recently had!  And trust me, there was always a good meal around the corner!
What do you do when one door closes?   One person just looks for another door to open….
Corey Butts, from Baltimore, MD came to San Diego working as a Personal Trainer with Lava Sport & Fitness center.
Lava being an upscale posh place to workout, learn boxing and feel the ocean breeze… went out of business along with many small businesses in this economy, especially hit hard in California.
During this time,  I personally found Corey to be of strong character, honest and fair.  My husband and I had prepaid annual membership to Lava  and prepaid personal training sessions,  Corey honored the remaining personal training on his own time to prevent our loss from the abrupt closing of the gym.
(I loved those “big ass fans”)
Corey had opportunities with other local gyms but decided maybe it’s time to do his own thing!
Corey found himself a partner, Steve Orosco, and together they started working hard to build a “Boot Camp” Ocean Breeze workout.   When you just look at Corey & Steve,  you know they are fit and in shape… you don’t get that level of fitness from just jogging from time to time.  These guys have a balanced approach to their body and mind.  They eat healthy, workout smartly, utilizing cardiovascular and weights, they add a fun aspect to their training and combine that with a San Diego outdoors and you have MOTIVATION!    or

Here in San Diego, we are lucky enough to have temperatures ranging from 68º-80º,  360 days a year, seldom rains and surrounded by Pacific Ocean waters….
well Corey chose to put his gear in the back of big SUV and go to the client!
He is targeting anyone with a desire to be healthy, look good in their clothes and enjoy the outdoors for starters!
BMorFit Boot Camp will allow you to work at your own pace but it is a hearty bite of fitness challenge.
These guys are are building relationships and  networking with Susan G. Komen for the cure and Corey has visions of gaining new members from the already fit communities of San Diego such as Navy folks and Firefighters.
He also wants to be involved with the “get rid of obesity in kids” school programs that many of the local chefs I already work with are doing.   I’m hoping I can help bring some of these wonderful folks together to champion their efforts with more local sustainable support such as BMorFit can do for their body and minds… a positive alternative to violence and school drop-outs.
Fitness has been proven to provide the healthy motivation to avoid fast foods, drink lots of water, build confidence, treat your body like a temple and become competitive in healthy good way.
In the early 1990’s I had my own small Corporate Fitness center, while going to CSLB Studying Exercise Physiology, in Long Beach, CA and my focus was career people with little time to exercise.   I was able to bring in resources from the community to assist in providing an overall balanced approach and view to healthy lifestyles.   Dogs also help keep you “in Check” for fitness…
But-Of-course my dobermans are always fit, well trained and role models for the kids and adults to see what the long term benefits of that can do for you!  Since a big dog only lives 11-14 years generally,  having one be ideal weight, with lots of exercise all the way to the end of their life is possible to see in our lifetime and realize the benefits right before your very eyes.
I am excited for Corey and he is not only practicing what he preaches… he’s such a pleasant person to work with and be around.  He is gracious and kind and gives back to each individual that helps him along this journey, no matter how insignificant it may seem at the time, his vision allows him to show real appreciation and gratitude.   It is truly wonderful to be a part of the ground floor of an upcoming success story!
BMorFit is now on Facebook, Twitter and Yelp, check it out, pass the word along and come join in the California Sun Work Out!
Remember to hydrate!
While Summer is a great time to eat local and healthy… in Southern California, it’s Summer every day!  No excuses even if you are looking for one,  you can bike to the riverbed, workout on the grass facing the water…. life choices are all about YOU!
Corey is also part of a family owned restaurant business, Cueva Bar, on Adams Avenue in San Diego.
 Cueva Bar has healthy salads, delicious dessert, craft microbrew and a great selection of wines along with home made empanadas, flat breads and music!   Oz and Jo moved to San Diego in 2009, Oz likes to cook and Jo loves to bake.   Corey married to the twin sister of Jo, all four can be found at their restaurant creating a unique atmosphere on Adams Avenue!
Check it out!  Enjoy!

Esmeralda, the longest sailing tall ship ports into San Diego this morning!

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