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Do you speak to the dead?
Have conversations in your head?
Tell them things you've done today?
Wish they hadn't gone away?

Do you say: "Hi Roz" when you handle a sea shell that reminds you of her?
Do you say: "Something a bit special," when buying a plant that Molly would have loved?

Do you remember them, not in big ways, but in little ones. Shared memories, little habits, things you wear?

"Rosalie would have loved that dress," I think, though it's more than a decade since my sister died. Her children are separate people to me now.  Loved for their own sake's rather than for her.  They don't remember, apart from tiny fragments - they were too young when she died.  Aunty Gillian holds memories for them: photographs, stories, a mother who loved them.

Oswin, Molly's great-granddaugher, won't remember her either, though she toddled through Molly's home and paddled in the stream in her garden. 

Yet, sometimes, she asks me "Whose was that?" and I know I must have told that this flower and that came from Molly's garden.

She plays with the miniature tortoises that Molly collected, and if, one should get lost or broken, I shall regard it as a small price if these things come to be loved by another generation.

Time flows in one direction only, but sometimes, we can dam a corner of the stream and preserve a little memory here and there.
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 British Columbia is a rare example of a region with a carbon tax.

They make it popular by sharing out the revenue from the tax as a  reduction in other taxes.

It appears to be working.  CO2 emissions have fallen, both directly and relative to the rest of Canada.

Their economy is also doing fine relative to the rest of Canada, in fact, slightly ahead.

The only fact I can't find data on is whether they are shifting pollution elsewhere (by importing stuff that involves producing a lot of CO2 rather than making it at home).  

Sadly, it excludes aviation.

BAsically, I think it's an idea definitely worth trying elsewhere.  A group of Republican senators tried, but I don't think they've had any success.  However, I do find it reassuring that there are Republicans who are concerned about climate change.

Climate change should not be a party issue - it affects everyone.

Gardening

May. 23rd, 2017 11:43 am
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 I glanced out of my front window just now and a passer by pointed to my rockery (which is currently a mass of flowers) and gave me a double thumbs up.

That was a really nice moment.
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 An old favourite Tom Lehrer song, with two video versions for you.  Blake's 7 and Dr Who (Missy)



Blakes 7 by Mary van Deusen



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 WE don't really have any idea of how Summerian was pronounced or sung, but I love the sound of this recreation.


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 Forget Brexit and the current economy.  Look further ahead.  

The planet is currently projected to be 3-4 degrees warmer by the end of the century.  Some recently estimates put it as high as 7C over pre-industrial levels by then (new positive feedback loops)

I've just been comparing manifestos.

(Don't take my word for it, look here - https://www.carbonbrief.org/election-2017-what-minfestos-say-energy-climate-change )

In essence, the Conservatives want to get every last bit of oil out of the North sea, frack for shale gas, expand airports (while claiming to lead the world in fighting climate change...)  Note that our emissions have only fallen in recent years because we effectively export our carbon emissions by importing carbon-intensive products. When imports are added in, our emissions are still rising.  They won't allow any onshore wind power, apart from on Scottish islands.  No mention of carbon capture and storage.

Labour - ban fracking, want to have a lot more renewables, mention CCS, want to work onzsero-carbon heating for houses, but they still want to use North Sea oil and expand airports.

Lib Dems - want Cabinet position for Sustainability and have specific legislation intentions for green stuff.  Would reduce energy bills by improving insulation rather than capping prices. No fracking, restore subsidies for renewables.  Support CCS and want zero-carbon new homes.  Help establish new industries in areas where oil is a major employer.  Will not increase net number of runways in UK (I sense some weasel wording there)

Greens - what you'd expect.   But most of us won't have a Green candidate with a decent chance.

Basically, if you want your children and grandchildren to have a world that is not  headed like an express train for environmental collapse, your best bet is to vote Lib Dem.  If you don't have a decent Lib Dem candidate, vote Labour.

We live in one of the richest countries in the world.  If we don't make serious attempts to slash carbon emissions, then how can we ask anyone else to?

There are some Conservative policies I support, but I have a granddaughter.  She will live in the world that we are a creating.  It's going to be hot - our only hope is to try and keep it to just 2C rise -1.5C is already a lost cause.




busy...

May. 20th, 2017 08:39 am
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 Sorry to be so quite.  I'm not really sure where the time is going, but I rarely have time to read or knit these last few weeks, let alone write.

We're looking after Oswin a lot this week, but that will reset to normal soon.  Lot of time on work for Wimborne Minster Folk Festival.  Sorting out insurance, accommodation for children's dance teams, checking health and safety stuff, chasing up teams who haven't told me how many performer's wristbands they need, already starting to look at a few early things for the festival after this one.

Lots of morris stuff. Just sorting out bookings, making tatter jackets, teaching kids, dancing, practicing music.

Dancing in Winchester today.  Oswin's coming too.
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 I'm knackered.  May bank holiday weekend is the top time for morris and maypole bookings, but dancing, playing and calling maypole dancing two days in succession is really exhausting.

Still, the Saturday maypole group were definitely above average. Managed a decent plait (which isn't as easy as it sounds).  Admittedly, I used a simple 'cheat' plait in which the odds and evens move alternately, but if you let everyone move together, then the ones who have internalised the pattern speed up and overtake the slower ones and create a toplogical disaster.

It's only safe to let everyone move if they are ALL experienced dancers and hence move strictly in time with the music, as that synchronises their actions.

If anyone out there has a group of adults (minimum of 8, max 24) who would like to spend half a day to a day learning how to do complex maypole dances as a team, just let me know.  It's something I'd love to teach...
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 If anyone would like to see a wide selection of longsword dances, try my Pinterest page -https://uk.pinterest.com/judithproctor/longsword-dances/

Some are picked because they are good examples from other countries, some show details of a move that is almost impossible to understand from a written description, some are old traditional dances and some are excellent modern ones.
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My fledgling longsword team is slowly gaining people.  We have two figures of one dance and one figure of a second dance at a reasonable level now.   (a 'figure' in longsword is equivalent to a whole dance in any other tradition)

Southern Star Longsword dancing 'Yorkshire Pudding' at Wimborne Model Town.  this was the first public performance for many of the side, and only the second time out for the rest of us.  This is a dance I wrote for the days when we only have four dancers.  (We had six on this occasion, but I didn't keep the video of the six man dance as it had several mistakes in it!)  



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 I'm going to be pretty croaky by Sunday evening.

Today I'm teaching maypole and longsword dancing at a local school.  I do this every year on Wednesday afternoons in the run up to Wimborne Minster Folk Festival.  The children will perform on Saturday at the festival and they always do me proud.

Saturday, I'm calling maypole at the Dorset Venison Fair for two half hour sessions.

Sunday, I'm calling maypole at a private event at Rockley Park and teaching a longsword workshop as well.

May bank holiday weekend is always a busy time.  We turned down a request for May 1st as we knew we'd be knackered by then.  (We being Anonymous Morris, who will be dancing at the two weekend events)

The catch is that calling for dances, even using a mike, always leaves me with a rough voice.   Time to get out the glycerine!
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 Thomas the Rhymer is a character who exists in ballads and folklore. He is taken by the Queen of the Elves to Elfinland and lives there for seven years.
 
Kushner has taken the traditional tale and given it her own twist and it works really well.
 
I loved this novel for many reasons.   Firstly, I love the use of language.  The language is not obviously archaic, nor is in rhyme or anything like that.  Yet, there is a flavour to it that feels slightly apart from everyday English and part of a folk tale - without me being able to put a finger on how the writer has achieved this.
 
Secondly, I love the old couple who give Thomas shelter from the storm at the start of the novel.  They are very much individual characters and very believable.  They have no children of their own, and Thomas develops the habit of dropping by at irregular intervals, using them as a stable point in his wandering life.  They welcome him, give him his share of the work to do, listen to his songs and stories and give him affection that has no conditions set upon it.  (for a travelling harpist/singer, life is lived on the edge - people always want his music, but the rich in no way consider him an equal)  They aren't fooled by his tall stories (Thomas has a habit of exaggerating his importance), nor do they fail to be aware of his womanising habits, but they also see his strengths.
 
Thirdly, Thomas himself is an engaging character.  He has his faults, but like the old couple, you come to see his better side as well.  

Thomas comes to love a girl who lives not far from the old couple, but when offered the chance of sex with an elven queen, Thomas hesitates not.  She takes him back with her and a curious relationship develops.
 
This is Elfinland the way I feel it should be (I was reminded a little of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norell - though, of course, Thomas is the older book).  Time is out of joint and humans can become very tired and drained.  It can be beautiful and yet distorted.  Nothing is as it seems and elven politics are complex and superficial all at once.
 
Kushner weaves another Child ballad into her narrative and it's likely that when you reach the end of the book you will be hitting You Tube to listen to Martin Carthy singing the song that Thomas writes in the book after encountering a human ghost in Elfinland.
 
 Of course, being the teller of tall stories that he is, Thomas has real trouble getting anyone to believe him when he finally returns to human lands.  He also has a gift from the Queen that is a bit of a mixed blessing...
 
This is a book that I will definitely be reading again.
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I enjoy Dorothy Sayer's novels about Lord Peter Wimsey and was willing to try out a writer continuing the series, but this one didn't really work for me.
 
I was looking forward to the prequel of how the Attenbury emerald mystery was solved, but the writing style of the first half with it's first person recollection  of events in the past told by Wimsey and Bunter felt clumsy and not like a Sayers novel.  When events moved to the present and later events befalling the emeralds, the style felt more familiar, though I did notice that the characters tended to quote from books that would probably still be familiar to modern readers (eg. Pooh bear and Alice in Wonderland) rather than Sayers wider range.  (you may regard this as a good or bad thing depending on your preference)
 
The solution to the plot relied on a horrendous number of coincidences, which I guess I can't really complain about given that Sayers was almost as guilty in Clouds of Witness....
 
However,  I'm not currently inspired to try any more of Paton Walsh's Wimsey novels.

If anyone wants a free paperback copy, just ask.
watervole: (Default)
 If you share my love of folk traditions, then you'll love this post by Selenak.  Many people are familiar with Russian decorated eggs, and I showed you Czech ones the other day, but the German painted egg tradition is different again.

At  Easter, the wells are decorated with garlands of hand-painted eggs and greenery.  The designs are usually pictorial rather than abstract and cover a wide range of themes.  There's very little repetition and the effect is lovely.

PHotos

Apr. 12th, 2017 10:29 pm
watervole: (Default)
 It's taken setting up an account on Flickr to do it, but I can now share my decorate egg photos - http://watervole.dreamwidth.org/629427.html

I used to link to my google photo album, but you can only view it from Google+, which is pretty useless.

Even better, Flickr picks up all my tags and comments from Picassa!

Now I've worked out how to do it, here is a gratuitous photo of Southern Star, taken last Sunday.  Our first proper dance out at Wimborne Model Town.


watervole: (Default)
 So many of my friends have moved to DW, that there's a bare handful of people left on LJ that I regularly read.

If  la_avispa, and vjezkova, start posting on DW, then I'll probably kill my LJ account and read everyone on DW.  I'm getting far more comments on the Dreamwatch posts.

I know la_avispa has a  DW account, but I don't know if you're going to start cross-posting or not. I guess the Russian language speakers on LJ may be a plus for you.

vjezkova - do you fancy going on DW and cross-posting (you can set it up automatically)

aunty_gillian,  Graham M and Bill Hay, you may want to swap to reading my DW account, just in case this one does close. I'll warn you if it happens, but you may want to be premptive.
watervole: (Default)
 vjezkova on LJ introduced me the the Czech method of decorating eggs.

It's done with melted wax crayons.  I used a scent burner with a tea light to provide heat and once I'd got some empty tealights, I used them to put wax in and just put them on top of the scent burner to reduce the mess (and retain wax for next time).  You apply the wax with a pencil with a blob-headed pin stuck in it.  Takes a bit of practice.  The wax must be warm, not just melted and it's best if you touch it to the egg, pause for a moment and then do the draw move.  (I'll link to a video further down, but the voice over is in Czech)

Here is my second attempt (the first attempt was done with Oswin and consisted mainly of blue dots all over the egg)





Video - the beeswax is optional (I asked Vera) 

watervole: (Default)
 Chatting to the lady next door  who has a small pear tree.  It had one pear last  year when it had 12 the year before.  She had no idea why.

After discussion I discovered that she'd transplanted it from her mother's garden last year.  So transplant shock would account for a lot of it.

However, when I suggested adding some garden compost, she was surprised at the idea that it might need feeding....

She's no idea how to prune it either.  Fruit trees only bear fruit on horizontal branches - you have to prune regularly to get a good crop (I don't even have a fruit tree, and I know this, but my mother in law probably told me as she lived in an area with lots of orchards.)

She also didn't know that the flowers were where the fruit would eventually appear.  I was a bit flummoxed by that one.  I thought fertilisation of flowers was school biology level.

So, how much of what I assume to be general knowledge, is actually general knowledge?

How much do you know about where apples and pears come from?


watervole: (Default)
 I'm seeing a large number of people shifting over to Dreamwidth as they don't like the new LJ terms of service.  Some are using it as their main journal and cross-posting, others are deleting their Livejournals and only using Dreamwidth.

If you're moving over, I would suggest importing your journal content to Dreamwidth  BEFORE abandoning it. (assuming you want to keep your old posts)

IF you look on the Dreamwidth 'profile' page, under the 'organise' tab, you'll find the 'import content'.  As long as you can remember your LJ password, you can import your Livejournal and comments in total. (there will probably be a delay as a lot of people are importing at present)

I'm 'watervole' on Dreamwidth as well.
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 Interestingly enough, I'm now thinking twice about the iron tablets.

Following up on a couple of comments people made, I decided to do a bit more reading.

Liquid iron supplements can stain the teeth, but not tablets, so that wasn't an issue.

However, the interesting question is the causes of iron deficiency.

I eat a diet with a reasonable amount of beans, green veg (veg box and allotment), brown rice and a small amount of red meat, so should have enough.  Therefore, it was either the pain from the pulled chest muscles that was causing the tiredness, or, if I am actually anemic, there is probably an underlying cause.

In people over 60 (and I'm on the good side of that by fewer years than I'd like...) one of the potential causes of anemia (once you rule out several that are unlikely to be me) is bowel cancer.

My mother-in-law died of bowel cancer that was diagnosed too late.  She was diagnosed as anemic and put on iron tablets for a couple of years, but it's clear from the NHS website that she should have been tested for bowel cancer at that time.

I would be extremely angry about this, except for the fact that she had gone blind.  Her quality of life had dropped dramatically and she was bored to tears.   She had an active mind and was no longer able to read the book she loved, do her cryptic crossword or even garden reliably.  I nearly cried when I realised she'd planted half her cyclamen upsidedown.  Her garden was her life.  The cancer gave her an escape from a life she no longer wanted.

(brief pause while I cry.  It's eleven months since Molly died and I still miss her.  I have many of her plants growing in my garden and I tend them with loving care)

Back again.  To cut a long story short.   I should stop taking the tablets and if I find I'm getting tired again, I should visit the doctor and get a blood test to see if I'm actually anemic, and if I'm actually anemic, whether there is an underlying cause.

So, let's do this scientifically.  

I'm going to stop the tablets today and see if I continue to improve.


watervole: (Default)
 Fingers crossed,  I seem to be getting better.

I've had a lot of problems since my last bad asthma attack  (you have to be me for a bad asthma  attack to be an automatic forerunner to pulled muscles)

Firstly, the weather is getting warmer and that means fewer people burning wood in their stoves, so that pulls the air pollution down a bit.

Second, the pulled muscles are healing up - stretches help, and I'm now well enough to start exercising to build up my strength again.

Thirdly, I've been trying iron tablets to see if they help with the feeling of total exhaustion - I know I have low iron levels as I frequently got turned down as a blood donor (though I was told that I wasn't anemic at the time).  They may be helping, or it may just be the reduction in pain that's making me feel more energetic.

I managed three dances last morris practice (at intervals, not one after the other), before feeling wiped, and that's better than I've managed in quite a while.

I'm also making progress in the garden.  Several beloved plants are being rescued from a sea of ransoms or celandines.

Elephants

Apr. 1st, 2017 08:24 pm
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 Been a couple of weeks since I last posted, so here goes.

Because it's cute - have a baby elephant.


A baby elephant eats in a swamp in Amboseli national park, Kenya

He's celebrating the fact that China is shutting down it's ivory trade - http://www.itv.com/news/2017-03-31/china-shuts-down-a-third-of-ivory-factories-and-shops-ahead-of-formal-ban/
There's a risk that the trade may move underground, but this is still good news.  Reducing demand is likely to have more long-term effect than catching poachers (though both are necessary)

watervole: (Default)
 I've just finished this book.  It only cost a few pounds for the Kindle version, so it was worth what I paid for it, but I didn't enjoy it enough to buy the next in the series.

It's an urban fantasy featuring Dina, who is an innkeeper.   Innkeeper in her case means that she has a symbiotic relationship with a building that is semi-intelligent, can modify its shape, produce defensive weapons and various other tricks besides.

The task of an innkeeper is to provide a safe place for aliens visiting Earth.

Rather disappointingly (from my viewpoint) the aliens to date include vampires and werewolves.   I must admit that I've had too many vampires and werewolves and I get bored with attempts to use bad pseudo-science to make them believable.  I cannot think of any kind of twist on genetic engineering that will convince me a werewolf can gain large amounts of mass when it changes form.

The inn suffers from the same problem.  I love the idea, but the claim that it is advanced science that can't be distinguished from magic fails to convince me.

I'd rather have real science or pure magic.  One masquerading as the other just annoys me.

On the plus side, the novel is very well written with excellent descriptive text.  The characters are engaging (I particularly liked the mass murderer using the inn as a safe place.  Not a character I would ever want to meet, but well and entertainingly written)

If the book had had original aliens I'd probably have enjoyed it more.  However, what is a minus for me may well be a plus for others.

If you like your werewolves strong and with buckets of sex appeal and your vampires to be clannish, scheming and to have complex, devious politics, then I recommend 'Clean Sweep; to you.

Books

Mar. 16th, 2017 02:15 pm
watervole: (Default)
 As I'm recovering from the winter's asthma  and it's after effects   (fog traps air pollution and there is more pollution in winter due to wood fires, high air pressure, etc.  Asthma means a course of steroids.  Steroids lead to muscle loss. Hypermobility combined with muscle loss means that I inevitably injure some muscles while trying to regain muscle strength.  Muscle injury leads to chest pain, etc.)  the brain cells are returning and I'm reading more books.

I seem to be buying a lot of books recommended by or written by friends. 

Currently in the reading queue are: Clean Sweep by  Illona Andrews (recc'd by  ([personal profile] feng_shui_house), Bride of the Rat God by Barbara Hambley, (might have been http://sallymn.livejournal.com/ ), Thomas the Rhymer by Ellen Kushner (think that was a friend of a friend) and The Crimson Outlaw by Alex Beecroft.  There are some other recs that I need to go back to now I'm in a better state of mind.

Just completed 'Remnant Population' by Elizabeth Moon.  She writes excellent Space Combat novels, but this particular book is very different in nature.  It's the slow-paced story of an elderly woman who chooses to stay behind when her colony is evacuated to another world.  She's a very believable protagonist.  Aches and pains, a love of gardening and a good touch of bloody-mindedness.

Being on her own allows her to do as she wants and to throw off some of the social conventions that have irked her.   She can value herself on her own merits, rather than being subject to the whims and opinions of others.

It's also an alien first-contact story with a twist that I love (even while conceding it to be improbable)

I've read this book before, and I'm sure I
 will read it again.


watervole: (Default)
 Children have wonderful imaginations - unfettered by knowledge of what is possible.

Oswin (my granddaughter) will be three in April.  As yesterday had real sunshine, we spend quite a bit of time in the garden.  She's fallen in love with daffodils, especially the big yellow 'King Alfred' ones in my back lawn.   She interacts with her favourite flower as though it's a person.  She talks to it, turns its head so it can see what is happening elsewhere and keeps popping back into the garden to see it again.

After the stalk got bent through too much tlc, we snipped it with a pair of scissors and put it in a vase "so it could have a drink".  The vase was placed on the kitchen table next to some cress she is growing, so they could keep each other company.

Later in the day, she was pretending to be a daffodil.  As far as I could tell, the daffodil did exactly what little girls do, but who am I to argue!

Oswin takes a real delight in life -when we go for walks, we often run and jump on all the water meters, manhole covers, etc, in the pavement.  She's very good. I can trust her not to go onto the road without waiting for me to say it's safe.  We've drilled her very carefully in that one.

BTW, if anyone wants book recommendation for small children, her current favourite is the delightful 'Owl Babies', which combines realism with a lovely little story and a touch of humour.  

By realism, I mean that the illustrations actually look like owls and the owls do things that real owls do.
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 I recently read Will Hobson's translation of the Three Musketeers and found it a much better translation than the previous version I'd read.

The problem is that he doesn't seem to have translated any of the later books.

Does anyone know of a good modern translation of the later books? (you can get all six D'Artangan books for about £3 on Kindle, but  the translation is clunky to say the least and doesn't tempt me to buy it even at that price)
watervole: (Default)
 Good longsword session last night in spite of my voice being crap.

My possible new dancer did show up and she enjoyed herself.

Even better, her daughter did too.  Not dancing, but sitting down reading the library books. Her daughter has Down's Syndrome, but she was in her element sitting in the children's corner with all the picture books.

In spite of the usual problems of being a small group (the odds of being below critical numbers are high, as it only needs a few people to fall ill...) we managed to work on the new four man dance I'm writing - now called 'Yorkshire Pudding' -and progress further  on Lingdale - a traditional 6 man dance.

It's starting to come together, but once people master the basic moves it becomes important to work on the timing and that's where we still need to improve.

Not sure if any of you will be at Redemption this weekend, but if you are, come and join in the longsword workshop!
watervole: (Default)
 Two asthma attacks in a couple of weeks and the medication is sending my voice into the pits. Which is unfortunate as I'm teaching longsword tonight and doing  a couple of dance workshops at Redemption this weekend.

Still, dance teaching is one of the few things I'm willing to do even when my voice is shot to pieces.  Though it would be easier if I could persuade someone else to call the count when people are learning figures.

It's all about getting the feet to fit the music.  There's 16 beats in a lot of the tunes and each person's moves have to fit in with that pattern.

Left, right, left, right, hop on right, left foot over sword, hop on left, right.  

That's one person going over the sword in their left hand, starting outside the circle and stepping into it (lifting their own sword over their head and turning clockwise as they go).

That's 6 steps in total, so 6 dancers will do it exactly in 3 passes through the music. (three verses of Bobby Shafto in this case)

It's also a lot of calling, as they have problems getting the steps right on new moves unless I call them.

But, there's an outside chance we might have a new dancer tonight, so no way am I going to cancel!
watervole: (Default)
 So tired today. Asthma.  We had a bout of fog a week or two ago and that trapped all the polution and set off a bad attack and I'm still not fully over it.

Seems to be a lethal combination of diesel fumes and wood-burning stoves that's causing the UK to breach clean air legislation with appalling frequency.

Funny thing really - I used to think wood-burning stoves were a great idea.  That was before  I discovered how lethal the fumes are from the best-designed stoves, let alone the worst ones.  Wood fires are nasty things and bonfires that have random stuff tipped on them are worst of all.

I was out walking a couple of days ago and was reacting to a bonfire long before I actually saw it.

Let wood rot down in your garden if you can. Be nice to beetles. Only burn it if you've no other option.  Your lungs will thank you.

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Judith Proctor

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