a gwen update

Someone turned two months old a few days ago, and wow, where did the time go? I thought it moved fast with Ellie, but with Gwen we appear to have created a full-fledged rip in the space/time continuum. Sorry if anyone’s stuff got sucked into a black hole as a result–but just look at this face! Totally worth it, right?!?

Happy baby

Seriously, I would have ten more kids if I didn’t have to carry them for nine months and if it was guaranteed they’d be as easy-going as our Guinevere. We’ve been lucky with both our girls (good sleepers!) but Gwen’s temperament reaches a whole new level of cool.

She’s growing like a weed. At her last appointment she measured 25 inches long–in case you’re not familiar with average infant measurements, that translates to really freakin’ long. This explains why her 3-6 month sleepers are getting snug at the feet. Obviously it’s too early to tell if this will have any impact on her full-grown height, but I think someone has a future in basketball.

Many people say she’s starting to look like me, but I don’t see it. What I do see is Ellie–lots and lots of her. It’s almost like we have twins, but three years apart:

Ellie, two months oldGwen, two months

What they share in similarity they make up for in different personalities–Gwen is more mellow, Ellie, more active; Gwen is talkative, Ellie, cuddly; Ellie hammed it up for the camera (even as a baby!) but Gwen doesn’t quite know what to make of it. I have to remind myself not to compare them too much, because doing so serves no useful purpose (and could get me in trouble when they’re old enough to call me out on it.)

Ellie adores “her baby” (as she calls her) and it’s becoming apparent that Gwen adores her “big sissa” just as much. She watches Ellie dance and sing and bounce around, taking it all in with rapt attention, rewarding Ellie’s antics with big grins and coos. I can only imagine the trouble we’ll be in when Gwen can keep up with her…

… yeah, we’re screwed. But at least she’s cute. 😉

cowabunga, and so forth.

Holy moly, where have I been?  Lost in my own head somewhere.  But I’m popping out of my narcissistic stupor for a moment to say, “Hello, Internets!”  And because I know you missed me, it’s time for another edition of…

What is Caro thinking right now?

  • I found the perfect underwear.  They’re simple, they’re comfortable, and they’re the granny-panties of my dreams.  Every time I put them on, I feel like my butt is getting a big, soft, warm hug.  I mean, wouldn’t you hug your butt if it was physically possible?  Sure you would.
  • I celebrated a birthday somewhere toward the end of January, and I spent most of it moping.  However, I did remember to treat myself to an online shopping spree of epic proportions.  And then I celebrated by slathering myself with Philosophy’s Vanilla Birthday Cake and Buttercream Frosting body washes.  My shower smells like a bakery, which helps me forget about the fact that I have too much gray hair for a 24-year-old, and that I still can’t wash away that unsightly bathtub ring.
  • Bonus points if you got the TMNT reference in that last sentence.
  • A certain popular video game expansion pack that was released a couple weeks ago has given me a reason to live play WoW again.  Sheara will get to level 70 if only because she needs a flying mount to be able to fish the highland lakes in Terokkar Forest.  No, really.  Raiding?  What?  I pay 15 bucks a month to fish!  Level 66 and counting.
  • All hail the mighty Tax Refund!
  • Three letters:  Dee Vee Arrrrrr.  That’s right.  The S.O. and I finally joined the 21st century and signed up for digital cable, complete with DVR.  When he was little, my brother the bird bladder (sorry J!) would sit down with the rest of the family to watch TV, and five minutes into the show he’d say, “Mum, pause it, I need to go to the bathroom.”  My mother would respond with, “You can’t pause television, silly.”  Now, eighteen years later, my bro’s bird bladder dreams have been realized.  Who’s the silly one now, huh!?!  HUH?!?!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be in the living room, obsessively pausing and rewinding 24.  Just because I can.

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visualize whirled peas

I’m not much for resolutions, but I did make one promise this year.  One promise, and I think it’s the key to all the promises.

I promise to be nicer to myself.

I’m going to remember what it feels like to be comfortable in my own skin (not just in body, though that’s a big part, but in mind and spirit, too).  Because there was a time in my life where I was much more appreciative of my strengths, and less debilitated by my weaknesses.

Really, there was!  I swear!

See, I have what I like to call a case of the “shoulds”.  I’m pretty sure most of us have these, actually, to varying degrees.  But I think mine got out of control.

“I should go grocery shopping.”
“I should call my mum more often.”
“I should eat less and exercise more.”
“I should have gotten a better education.”
“I should be working at a better job.”
“I should take more photographs.”
“I should be more outgoing.”
“I should be more adventurous.”

I’ve piled all these expectations on myself – some of which are reasonable (“I should shower every day” – my co-workers probably appreciate this one, and I do, too!) and many of which are not so reasonable (“I should be perfect” – oh, c’mon, perfection can’t be that hard to achieve, right?).  So I guess it shouldn’t come as a surprise that lately it seems I’m drowning in a lake of guilt – guilt for not calling friends, guilt for not eating well, guilt for parting my hair on the left instead of the right, guilt for not being smarter, thinner, prettier, more academic; you name it, I’ve probably felt guilty about it.

I’m going to point out the obvious here:  Too much guilt hurts.  Eventually you start feeling guilty for feeling guilty!  Which makes you feel even more guilty!  Shit!

Last summer I came to a point where I said to myself, “Self, you have everything your little heart could possibly desire.  You have a beautiful life with a wonderful person and two crazy cats, you live in a beautiful house, and you have a stable job that has excellent benefits.  Slap on a white picket fence and you’re living the American dream!  So why, for the love of god why, can’t you just sit back and enjoy it?”

Guilt.  Because I’m trying to meet impossible standards and I haven’t accepted myself for who I am.  And feeling restless and unbalanced inside means feeling restless and unbalanced about everything else in your life, too, no matter how good it is.

So, I declare this the year of getting back to good.  I’m not even sure how I will keep this promise, but the other morning I looked at myself in the bathroom mirror and said, rather quietly, “I like you.  You’re okay.  You’re doing just fine.”  And I’ve repeated it every day since, whispering it to myself as a mantra when I start to feel anxious or overwhelmed.  Reassurance that I don’t have to be perfect, that I can just be me, and that’s enough.

And it’s funny how forcing yourself to let go of some of those expectations really lightens the load.  Enough to, say, start eating healthier, without really having to think about it.  Or wanting to take photographs again.  Or redesigning your Web site for the first time in nearly a year, which is exactly what I did this week.  Not because I felt obligated to, but because I wanted to.

There’s a lot to be said for letting things go, for giving up expectations that may have outlived their usefulness, for letting life wash over you instead of paddling frantically against the current.

I like you, you’re okay, you’re doin’ just fine.

And lo and behold, I am.

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the obligatory year in review

I think I’m ready.  The stockings are hung, the tree is trimmed, and the office is overrun with high-calorie carbohydrates.  Bring on Christmas Chaos 2006!  We spent yesterday at my in-laws, and I can’t even begin to describe the joy that is hearing a three-year-old repeat, thirty-seven times in two minutes, “I WANNA OPEN ANOTHER ONE I WANNA OPEN ANOTHER ONE I WANT IWANT IWANT” at top volume.  Seriously.  It’s moments like this that remind me why birth control is a beautiful thing.

It’s been a hectic year, and I attribute that to coming down off the college trip and learning how to navigate the “real” world.  College came with a lot of firsts – first apartment, first self-sustaining job, first pet, first car, first 2 a.m. breakfast at Denny’s where you’re too drunk to get to the restroom without hanging on your (equally drunk) friend.  You know, the things that really matter.

But leaving the academic safe haven (well, almost – I still work here, after all!) also came with some pretty significant (if not drunken) firsts, too.

Memorable events in 2006:

  • The S.O. and I celebrated our 6th year together, and I figure another year where we didn’t kill each other is always worth a mention.  I kid, I kid.  I am continually amazed that we are so good together, and I couldn’t ask for a better friend and companion, especially in my most blanket-flingy moments.
  • I landed my first full-time professional job.  This was probably the most significant of all the years’ events, and also the most difficult adjustment.  As much as I want to be a starving artist, I don’t actually like to starve, and it’s hard to argue with money, benefits, and a Malaga with your name on it.
  • I spent a couple months in counseling, which was a major first for me.  Now I’m not sure why I ever shied away!  Counseling is wonderful, especially for people like me, who like to talk about themselves.  It’s like blogging, but to someone who HAS to listen to you!  Because it’s their job!  Sucker!
  • Photography and I had a falling-out, which hasn’t resolved itself even now.  Unfortunate, because I was pretty darn good at it, too.  Hopefully there will be a time in the near future when I can pick up a camera and not feel guilty of abandonment.
  • I broke my damn foot!  Ow!

Overall, it was a year of complicated (and sometimes disappointing) life lessons.  Hopefully the new year will find me with the poise, grace and maturity of an Adult-with-a-capital-A.


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because everyone else is doing it?

I will preface this by saying that I’ve already received the Christmas gift that was at the top of my list, which was for the S.O. to find a new, permanent job.  He’d been a temp at his last department for over a year and half, and when we got a positive call regarding the new job last week, we were, as they say, totally stoked.  All that finger-crossing really paid off.  So it’s already a happy holiday for us, and I couldn’t truthfully ask for anything more.

Regardless, t’is the season to spend money, and if I had a rich benefactor (I’m taking applications!) who wanted nothing but to shower me with gifts on Christmas Day, this is what I would ask for:

  • A laptop lunch box.  I want to try the bento thing for myself.  Having individual compartments for each of my lunch items appeals to my obsessively organized side, and this Lean Cuisine crap needs to stop.

  • A series of Sims 2 expansion packs.  I own the Sims 2 game, but I’m way behind on my expansions.  Currently I’m missing Nightlife, Pets, Open for Business, and the various “Stuff” sets. One cannot live on World of Warcraft alone, and I’m not ashamed to admit that I still love playing doll-house.
  • Subscriptions to various photography magazines.  I was going to include  JPG in that list, but it appears they’re already sending a free subscription for my being a former contributor.  Yay, free stuff!
  • An Apple iPod Nano, in pink, with companion Klipsch iGroove iPod shelf.  Let no one accuse me of having cheap taste.
  • Copious quantities of Stretch Island Fruit Leather.  I think I could give up chocolate if I had enough of these. Well, maybe not, but this fruit leather is still pretty tasty.
  • Anything from Philosophy that smells like yum.  The Candy Cane Suitcase set would do, or possibly the God Child set.
  • Chocolate Whipstick lip balm from Lush.  Chocolate and lip balm, two of my favorite addictions rolled into one.  ‘Nuf said.

Now that I’ve had my greedy moment for the day, it’s time to shop for everyone else.  What a pain… shopping for myself is so much easier!

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romance 101 or how to shut me up

It’s a mild November evening, and we’re in the car, on our way home from work.  We’re having this wonderfully engaging discussion.  I’m really into it.  I love that after six years together, we can still find new things to talk about.

You pause for a moment and look at me, with a fondness in your eyes that is usually reserved for certain intimate bedroom moments.  It’s the smile of a man who’s looking at the woman he loves, and he knows it, and he wants to tell her.  And I’m ready to listen.

“You know…” you say, comfortably, reaching across the gear shift to take my hand, as you’ve done so many times before.  Your palm is warm, familiar, reassuring.  I smile, waiting, knowing that you’re trying to find just the right words.  And you always do.

“You know… I really don’t mind that you talk so much.”

I love you, too, baby.  I love you, too.

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Confession time:  I am not perfect.  Yes, yes, I know it comes as a shock, but just ask any of my friends, or better yet, the S.O.  I’m flawed.  I have my moments… moments in which I truly believe the only cure for my behavior involves a straight jacket and a padded cell.  What keeps me going is that those moments are, thankfully, few and far between, and in hindsight, some of them are quite amusing.

Last night was one of those times.  For reasons the Internet doesn’t really need to know about, it’s been one of “those weeks.”  Suffice it to say, sometimes things pile up.  The holiday season is good for that, after all!

So, by Sunday evening I am in a state.  Frustrated, tired, stressed, etc.  The S.O. and I decide that it’s time for bed.  But when we get up to bed, we have (*cue dramatic music*) an Argument.  What the argument was about, I can’t say, not for privacy reasons but because I honestly can’t remember what it was we were arguing about in the first place.  For the sake of filling space, let’s call it cat food.  We had an argument about cat food, which left me fuming and, of course, not talking to him.

Now, I can’t sleep when I’m angry, but the S.O. has the ability to just forget everything, shut off, and go to sleep no matter the circumstances.  It’s pretty amazing, really, that he can do this… and boy, nothing pisses me off more when he does!  So when I sense that the S.O. has fallen asleep, I’m even more aggravated, and I want to put some space between us.

I’ll go downstairs!  Harrumph!  Because my sleeping on the uncomfortable couch with the ultra-thin afghan will totally show him I mean business!

I drag my pillow and afghan downstairs, get myself all set up on the couch, but – guess what – I’m still pissed.  And when I hear the S.O. start to snore… I get really pissed.  I mean, how DARE he ask me to compromise my principles on cat food, and how DARE he sleep when I’m so angry?  The nerve!  So I do one of those things that probably qualifies me for the padded cell, at least for the limited destruction factor…

I throw a glass candle holder at the wall.

The candle holder actually wasn’t my first victim of the evening.  At first, I threw the TV remote, but it only bounced to the ground.  No muss, no fuss, no fun!  I also threw a blanket, but you can imagine how unsatisfying that was.  Here you are, raging mad and ready to crack skulls, and the blanket flies in the air for all of a foot and a half, landing at your feet with a pathetic *whoosh*.

That’s right, fear me.  Just call me the Blanket-Flinger.

No, I wanted something with a bit more punch, and unfortunately the little glass candle holder was in my line of vision.  As I was rearing back to throw it, I had a momentary fear that it would bounce, too, or worse… that I’d miss the wall.  I have a really pathetic throwing arm and no sense of aim.  But thankfully, the candle holder did, indeed, hit its intended target, and made this wonderfully satisfying crunching sound as it shattered into pieces all over the floor.

Huzzah!  Take that, anger demons!  The power of broken glass compels you!

Or… not so much.  Because even though the candle holder sounded pretty good going down (it was loud enough to wake the S.O.) I still felt pretty rotten.  On top of being frustrated, angry, stressed, and tired, I’d also destroyed something I kinda liked, and now I was left with a mess to clean up.  Good going there, champ.

So I slam my way into the kitchen to get the broom, tossing aside half-unpacked boxes of Christmas decorations like they were so much fluff… the kitchen looks like a small-scale rendition of Godzilla, if Godzilla were a woman on her period.  Rarrr!  Rarrrrrrrrrrr!  Destruction!  Rarrrrr!

At this point I also decide I need to take down the Christmas lights.  You know, the Christmas lights I spent all day untangling, testing, adjusting, re-adjusting, repairing, replacing, putting up, etc.  I spent all. flipping. day. on this project.  But the lights all have to come down now, because I am She-zilla, and hell hath no fury, etc.  So, I rip all the lights off the windows, and I’m slowly losing the battle to get them off the staircase banister (boy, I really wired those suckers on there!) when the S.O. comes down the stairs.

He looks confused, to put it mildly.  And no wonder!  Because at that point, I realize what I must look like.  I am butt naked (yes, you read that correctly), yanking with all my might on a string of Christmas lights that’s solidly attached to the banister, and I’m pretty sure said banister is threatening to give way.  I can only imagine that the look in my eyes is that of a crazy person, and I wouldn’t be far from the truth.

But that’s not the best part.  Not by far.

At that moment, the S.O., who has been watching me quietly all the time I’m struggling with the stupid lights, speaks up.

He says, in the most sincere, confused voice I’ve ever heard, and I quote:

“Are you mad at me?”

I’m pretty sure my brain short-circuited, because I stopped mid-tug, turned around, and went back to the couch, where I sat down, and stared blankly at the wall.  The S.O. heads back upstairs, and I decide it’s time to do a quick mental recap of the evening so far.

Busted glass?  Check.  Boxes overturned?  Check.  Doors slammed?  Check.  Christmas lights flung all over the place?  Check.

So… he can’t be serious.  He didn’t just ask me that, did he?  I mean… all this breaking stuff and slamming things around… didn’t I make it clear?

And, wait a minute… what was I angry about again?

At this point, I come to the realization that being angry is exhausting work, and I’m tired.  What I really want is a hug, and a kiss, and to be told everything will be OK in the morning.

No really.  That’s all.  This, “Well, Duh!” Moment brought to you by the letters ‘F’ and ‘U’.

Feeling properly humbled and about twenty kinds of stupid, I slowly climb the stairs.  I get into bed.  And the S.O. is more than happy to hug me and kiss me and tell me everything will be OK, because that’s the kind of guy he is.

You know.  Good at humoring the crazy person.  That kind.

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happy hobbles!

So, it’s been a few days… done some stuff… and I have nothing relevant to say.  Time for another scintillating edition of…

What is Caro thinking right now?

  • I busted into my first Diet Coke at 9:43 a.m.  If that’s any indication of how this day will go, I should go home.  Oh, and there’s a stain on my shirt.  Which is, surprisingly, right-side out.  The shirt, not the stain.
  • There are new-job-vibes in the works for the S.O.  My fingers have been triple-crossed for a full day now.  They hurt, and it’s hard to type like this.  New job, please come through, preferably soon, so that I can uncross my fingers.  Thanks!
  • I’m so glad for this NaBloPoMo thing.  Not because I’m participating (bwahahaha, the thought) but because I haven’t been for want of new material from some of my favorite bloggers since the beginning of November.  Please don’t leave me, NaBloPoMo!  Work is damn near unbearable without you.
  • In that vein, I’m tempted to start a new blogging event of my own.  Let’s call it… iBlogNazi.  In order to participate, you must blog every single day for the rest of your life, solely for my personal entertainment.  If you forget to blog, I’ll send out a vicious army of squirrels to nibble on your toes, and then you’ll have something to blog about, wontcha?  Dance, minions!  Dance!  … What, you don’t think it will catch on?
  • I’m adding a subscription to JPG Magazine to my Christmas wishlist.  You can still vote on photos for the next issue if you haven’t already.  *hint hint*
  • Thank you, Pilgrims, for coming to America and growing food and dying and sharing a meal with the indigenous peoples, all so I can have a four-day weekend and eat myself into a tryptophan oblivion.
  • And finally, to leave you in the spirit of the upcoming holiday, a joke by yours truly:

What does a turkey with a broken foot say?

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weekend recap

Happy Halloween, Voxers!

I’d been meaning to write about our Boston trip, but MMS caught up to me.  Unfortunately there are no documentary photos to go along with this, as I never got a chance to buy film for my Olympus XA-2 point-and-shoot, and I didn’t want to drag the big, digital Pentax *ist D around.  Apologies, though this entry is not entirely without illustration.

I have to admit, I went into this trip feeling ambivalent for a number of reasons:

1) It’s a long drive from Bangor to Boston, and we weren’t familiar with the area at all.  We actually stopped and spent the night in Portland, waking up early Saturday morning to head south instead of doing the whole trip down in one night.  This wasn’t the original plan, but was a good idea nonetheless.  We got lost in Boston even in daylight, so trying to navigate the neighborhood at midnight would have been hell.

2) I’m not a city girl, and the S.O. is even less a city boy.  We’re country mice.  I love the idea of living within walking distance of everything you could possibly want to do or see, but the crowds kill me.  2-3 days in the big city and I’m ready to see wide open spaces again.

3) I knew that we’d only have a short amount of time to explore, and while I certainly wanted to see some sights, the original reason we were there was to see my friend and her future hubby.  I hadn’t really thought about it until she brought it up, but we hadn’t actually seen each other in three years!  Where the hell does the time go?  Anyway, rushing around from one stop to another like regular tourists wasn’t going to work, ’cause there was much catching up to do.

4) Finally, we planned this entirely at the last minute, and spontenaiety is not my strong suit.  The fact that we went through with it at all is a tribute to the S.O.’s patience and my own ability to hold my silly nerves at bay.  I think I did particularly well considering I only flipped out at traffic once – a giant truck came flying up on our right side, and at the time I didn’t realize we’d moved from a two-lane high-way to a three-lane.  I thought said giant truck was trying to pass us in the breakdown lane, and this meant certain death for us in our tiny little Golf.   I’m such a dork.

Anyway, as is usually the case, I had absolutely nothing to worry about.  We had a great time and did quite a bit, all things considered.

First things first, shopping!  Because you can’t visit the big city without getting mall-ed at the mall (hah-hah).  We braved the weather and headed out to the monstrousity known as the CambridgeSide Galleria.  The S.O. drooled himself silly at the Apple store (iPods) and Borders (Sony’s new book reader), while my friend and I shopped for clothes (mostly for her, some for me).  I found the best scarf and hat at Old Navy, and thoroughly enjoyed my very first Cinnabon.  Yes, I said my first – I was a Cinnabon virgin until last weekend, and I didn’t know what I’d been missing.  I probably should have stayed in the dark, because if they ever bring Cinnabon to Bangor, they’ll have to roll me out of the store like Violet from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

But I digress.  After the shopping spree our legs and feet were quite sore, so we lunched at the California Pizza Kitchen, then headed to the science museum to catch an Imax movie about Greece history.  I’m almost embarrassed to admit that I was also an Imax virgin (giving my friend a second chance to look at me incredulously and say, “You’ve never what?!?”).  The movie was okay, but the experience itself was a riot.  Now I want to see all my favorite films on a 180-degree dome screen, just for the novelty factor.

After the film, we visited the Body Worlds 2 exhibit.  It was interesting, though I enjoyed it more for the art sculpture than for the human anatomy lesson.  I understood that these were real human body parts, plasticized, but everything still looked… well, like plastic.  I really had to admire the amount of work that went into each of the sculptures, though.  It’s an artform in its own right.

After the exhibit we crashed at my friend’s place, ordered take-out, and talked until all hours.  The next morning we got up early and headed out around 9 to explore Harvard and Harvard Square.  Taking the T was easy-breezy, and the S.O. only got panhandled once!  Good times!  I enjoyed my very first (so many firsts!) chocolate croissant from Au Bon Pain, then we wandered over to the Harvard Museum of Natural History (free admission to local residents, so my friend got us in at no cost).  I’m pretty sure I visited this particular museum as a child, but I didn’t realize it was so huge.  So many exhibits!  I particularly enjoyed the minerals exhibit, the glass flowers exhibit, and the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology.  I think we spent a good two hours wandering the place and still didn’t see everything, but by that point we needed to think about lunch, since the S.O. and I wanted to head back to Maine around 1 or 2.  I did stop at the museum’s gift shop before we left and bought a souvenir – Cranky – the most awesome little wind-up toy.  He’s currently sitting on my desk at work, holding up my tag from the natural history museum in his left paw.   I’m in love with him, and now I want an army of crazy wind-up toys from Kikkerland.

We also stopped at the Lush body shop in Harvard Square, where I almost lost my sense of smell from sniffing all the fancy soaps and washes and cremes.  Mmmm.  After fifteen minutes there, everything smelled like cocoa butter – my hands, my clothes, my S.O. (rawr!).  When we told him we were going to the Lush shop, the S.O. thought we were talking about a liquor store, and it might as well have been just that!  A place to get drunk on smelly stuff, mmmm, smelly stuff.  I passed on purchasing anything then, but I might have to order some Chocolate Whipstick lip balm.

Finally, we had a long lunch at UNO’s before it was off into the wild blue yonder.  All around, it was a great trip.  We didn’t get a chance to do everything I wanted (we never made it out to the pastry shops in the North end, and I would have liked to have spent more time at the museums) but I expected that much.  Next time we’ll have to take a couple days off from work and do a long weekend in the city, now that we know a bit more about the area firsthand.  Thanks to everyone who recommended things to see and do!

A quick gaming update:  The S.O. and I missed it since we were out of town, but our guild finally defeated Ragnaros on Saturday; this was only their second serious attempt, but they got him, even though half the “regular” raiders were off at Halloween parties or touring Boston (*ahem*).  Now we can officially say we’ve cleared Molten Core (though I’d like to see it for myself sometime soon!)  Since it seems the Burning Crusade expansion won’t hit the shelves until January 2007, it looks like we’ll all have a shot at trying Blackwing Lair as level 60’s.  Mmm, more dragons.

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