Rainbow Carrots! Who Knew?

As a beautiful Easter Day came to an end, thoughts of a painting I did last week comes to mind. The first time I saw carrots other than the usual orange carrots I found them fascinating and I wanted to learn more. Did you know there is actually an England’s Carrot Museum?

Did you think the original carrot was orange? Nope. Carrots were originally purple and yellow and originated about 5000 years ago in present-day Afghanistan. It’s thought the mutations and natural hybrids derived from both cultivated and wild varieties of purple and yellow carrots producing an orange “mutant” carrot.

Around the 16th century, the Dutch took these mutant orange carrots and created a sweeter orange “western carrot.” It’s is said these were invented by Dutch growers to honor the House of Orange, the Dutch Royal Family.


Step-by-step colorful carrots watercolor

Color means everything when it comes to carrots:

• Purple carrots (usually orange inside) get their pigment from an entirely different class, the anthocyanins. These pigments act as very powerful antioxidants, grabbing and holding onto harmful free radicals in the body. Anthocyanins also help prevent heart disease by slowing blood clotting. These originate in Turkey, and the Middle and Far East.

• Yellow carrots contain xanthophylls, pigments similar to orange beta-carotene, which help develop healthy eyes and aid in the fight against macular degeneration. They may also be useful in preventing tumors associated with lung and other cancers. These came from the Middle East.

• Red carrots contain lycopene (another form of carotene). a pigment also found in tomatoes and watermelon; lycopene helps in the fight against heart disease and some cancers, including prostate cancer. These were originally from India and China.

• White carrots, by their very nature, lack pigment but may contain other health-promoting substances called phytochemicals. One would say there are the least healthy of carrots. They originate from Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan.

• Orange carrots contain beta-carotene, with some alpha-carotene, both of which are orange pigments. The body converts the high content beta into Vitamin A, essential to the immune system for general well-being and healthy eyes. These carrots originated from Europe and the Middle East.

The next time you are out shopping try a rainbow bunch to add color to your meal, and a colorful boost of health-giving properties.

 

 

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Artful Whispers

After my January Newsletter, a friend sent a text to say, “Nooooooo, no, no, no the subhead is not representative of you or your art! Your work is gentle, more like a whisper!.” Thank you, Barbara, I appreciate honesty and heartfelt opinions. I still think @Play in the Studio was clever and I do have fun there but I also agree the colors were too bright for the kind of art I produce and the whole thing was a bit much, so it’s gone. In its place, my new subhead is Artful Whispers. This feels good to me. Below is my first attempt at straying from my norm, still florals but less detail. This work will evolve. For now, it’s is a start. So, what you think? Leave a quick comment at the bottom of the page, please.



Thoughts of absence . . .

While pondering this newsletter, the word absence was forefront in my mind. There is no one I know who hasn’t suffered loss. It is far too frequent since I’ve gotten a little less young. In the words of Anne Lamott, “Grace finds you exactly where you are but doesn’t leave you where it finds you.” The only way I know of walking through the difficult times with any semblance of grace is to look for the blessings. There are always blessings.

Less than a year after moving to Georgia little Miss Bella developed an enlarged heart. Of course, I knew she had a huge heart but that wasn’t exactly what her Vet meant. The procedure of choice was Chinese medicine along with traditional medicine, and her natural vitamins. About six months later we added acupuncture. Initially, her acupuncture visits were weekly, then every two weeks. The difference was amazing! The past two years every three weeks kept her active. We were back to walking regularly although her walks were shorter.


She was seldom peppy when we arrived for acupuncture but she strutted out of the clinic with her head held high and those long white tail-feathers that nearly touched the ground swished side to side looking like the little princess she was.

Moving into our fourth year in Georgia and what soon would be her twelfth birthday she developed a cough, especially noticeable when she got excited. When the grandsons stopped by they understood the importance of calming her instead of encouraging her to play.

My late husband passed before Bella’s first birthday. On January 25, she decided it was time he had the pleasure of her company. She made me laugh and looking at her always brought a smile to my face, they are missed.

8 Lessons I learned from Bella:

1. At about six months old we met a trainer in the park and she learned all of her commands quite quickly and performed them brilliantly, of course. After each lesson, the trainer would say, “Well, she isn’t ready for group lessons.”
I learned with a little determination you can do most anything you put your mind to or convince those in charge that you’re not ready to do..

2. She learned to fetch at a young age, on her terms – she taught me the treat had to be in my hand before she would budge to fetch even her favorite toy. I was allowed to throw the ball/toy three times. If she didn’t receive a treat after the third time – I didn’t get the ball – somehow that seemed fair.
I learned life lessons come from unusual sources and in rather small packages.

3. On our walks, she learned to sit at crossings, without being told, until given the command to cross.
I learned sometimes it’s okay to follow the rules carefully.

4. If the doorbell rang or someone, in her opinion, was too close to the house she barked until she was sure I was OK with the visitor.
She taught me that when you have a job, you take it seriously.

5. Occasionally she redecorated the water closets. Tearing tissue was a fave pass time when she wasn’t getting enough attention. Actually, that did get her noticed. Eventually, it made me laugh.
I learned when you get bored it’s time to do something fun.

6. I left her with a dog sitter when I traveled for work. She greeted me with great enthusiasm upon my return. She then sat dutifully staring at me with those enticing black eyes, turning her back to me she peed. The first time I raised my voice and scolded her as I scrubbed the spot on the carpet. Twenty minutes later she had diarrhea. I remember thinking, “What an unusual coincidence.” It happened twice – After that; she loved going to airports but wasn’t crazy about being stuffed under the seat on the plane. Occasionally, a steward would let me put her in my lap if she was covered so no one could see her. Umm, do you think this qualifies as spoiling her?
She taught me I was trainable and I never raised my voice to her again.

7. Begging was first class, she adoringly starred at her victim, seldom did anyone not succumb to that but when it happened she retreated under the table and slept.
That taught me that when life doesn’t always work out like you want, it’s okay to take a nap, hence the late newsletter.

8. When you get tired of your food . . .

She taught me that everything tastes better with blueberries.

The more I learn, the more I find I must learn. For those times when she had enough, I learned there was a lesson. These were times of beauty and importance for both of us if we were to live in a symbiotic relationship. (Maybe they weren’t all times of beauty.)

Bella lived life as if she understood brevity. She was full of love and spread that love to nearly everyone she met. (Except a salesman who tried to come onto the property, she chased him off. She strutted back to me like a prize pony.) Her love is still wrapped around my heart like a lasso.

Celebrating Bella

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Nostalgic Painting

Painting requests often lead me in search of things I normally might not come across. Often this makes for interesting reading and I get to paint things I may not otherwise have considered painting.

A Nostalgic Painting

Several years ago my first grandson graduated from college with a teaching degree. After teaching teens at risk, the opportunity arose to teach fourth grade English and math in South America. An offer he couldn’t resist, he was off to Ecuador for a year.

After returning to Indiana he purchased his first home. It was a 100+-year-old house with lots of character. After settling in he came to visit us in Georgia. We talked about his home for a while


then he asked if I would paint something for his living room. I was delighted and I asked if he had a subject in mind. Josh had seen a painting in Ecuador of a Tree of Life and wondered if I could paint something similar.

While researching I found a multitude of styles for a “Tree of Life” so I asked if he could text a photo of the one that had caught his eye. Since he needed a somewhat large painting (36″H x 48″W) I then asked if he had an idea of where his tree might be planted. A place that meant something to him and that he wouldn’t tire of seeing every day. Without hesitation, he said, “Indiana farmland would be nice.” Then I asked if there was anything he would like to see in that field, maybe something that conjures pleasant memories. His first response was, “grandpa’s tractor.” This was great direction and he didn’t think about it, he went with what first came to mind. Our first thought is seldom wrong.


The painting was delivered in time for the Thanksgiving holiday in Indiana with family and friends – just a week before my shoulder surgery. The work was painful but the joy of creating a painting for my grandson far out-weighed the pain.

It has taken nearly a year after surgery to get back in the studio with any regularity. It feels SO GOOD! What’s next: Grandson #2 requested a painting and the subject isn’t even close to Indiana Farmland but then he lives in Georgia.

Zentangle

As therapeutic as Zentangle has been during my healing process, my focus has returned to painting and flowers are beckoning. I’ve learned my current physical limitations. No more than 3.5 hours before the pain begins. Limiting as it is, all the more reason I need to focus. I’m excited to be setting a regular painting schedule. It’s been a long process.

Below is how my Tangling has changed in the last year or so. The addition of color was fun and the more free-flowing I got with my strokes the happier I was.


Any questions – ask away in the comments section below!

A Paws to Reflect

Happy Winter Everybody!


We had a cold spell in Southern Georgia, it even snowed! Yes, Snow! The snow stayed in the grass for a few days and the funny thing is that grass got really hard and it made a crunching noise under my paws. Ouch, ooo, ooo, ooo. It wasn’t comfy. Oh, how I miss snow.

There’s a magical beauty in falling snow. But I have to tell ya, in Colorado when the sun was shining and the snow was falling it was dazzling, like falling diamonds. I remember bouncing in and out of the snow. Sometimes it was deeper than I was tall. Actually, that’s not too deep. When I got cold I would stop, raise my right front paw and mom, she is so smart, knew exactly what to do! Get me the heck into the house! The snow just makes my winter complete and so do you. Yea for snow!

Ta ta for now,

Little Miss Bella, ex-Snow Bunny

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Morning Pages vs Mourning Pages

Julia Cameron is one of my favorite authors. In previous posts, I have spoken of Julia’s practice of writing Morning Pages. Below is a short video, just a bit over 2 minutes, of Julia explaining why this writing results in such positive changes in one’s life.

I must say when I don’t let anything distract me before my feet hit the floor in the morning and I take pen and paper in hand, I find my days are more relaxing and I am focused without the chatter running around in my mind. My writing pad and pen are going on my nightstand tonight so I don’t forget. Write your Morning Pages for a week or so – you’ll be so glad you did. Enjoy!

Morning Pages

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A Special Garden

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In the Studio

In July of 2015, I had the pleasure of painting for one of my favorite interior designers, Gina Lane-Olsson, in Colorado Springs. The owners of the home were delightful and I would be painting a mural full of flowers. To top it off, Little Bella was invited to join me! It just doesn’t get a whole lot better than that for me. This particular project turned out to be especially memorable because it was the last mural I painted before and since the accident.

D’Ann’s Garden

This home was actually the carriage house on a large estate. Gina did a fantastic job in keeping the aesthetics of the nearly one-hundred-year-old home. There were several beautiful paintings that had touches of vivid primary colors hung on off-white walls surrounding deep blue sofas and an extraordinary oriental rug to tie it all together.

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To keep harmony with the colors in the paintings and furnishings, I chose Iris’, geraniums and morning glories to enhance the fireplace. Several little surprises were added to give a truly personal touch.

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Included in D’Ann’s Garden is an array of lighthearted critters; a hummingbird symbolizing the enjoyment of life. The dragonfly carries the wisdom of adaptability in life, creating joy. Two ladybugs were added to represent the owners of the home. Three blue butterflies look as if they just took flight from the large vases standing regally in arched alcoves that flank the fireplace, they are representative of their three children. Throughout the garden of iris’ and geraniums twelve small ants scurry about representing the homeowner’s grandchildren who frequently grace this home.

Of course, there is always a bee – to remind me to never give up.

Fun for the Guests

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The story, as I remember, goes like this . . . In the early 1900s, it seems the city of Colorado Springs did not allow farm animals at the edge of town. The owners petitioned to change their minds to no avail.  When the current owners read of their dilemma in the original deed they thought it all seemed a bit unfair so D’Ann decided to create quarters (of sorts) for the animals. You can tell by the names of the rooms that someone has a creatively playful mind. Of course, each room is accessorized with the appropriate animals.

The antique deed has been mounted and framed and is proudly displayed in the upstairs corridor.

How fun is that!

From the Desk of Miss Bella

Well, look at this, someone is going to let me talk this time. Where do I start? Oh yes, please, if you don’t mind, be sure to address me as Miss Bella now. That is what y’al call we girls in the south.

Halloween is a big deal in our neighborhood. Between 6-9 PM Halloween Night the city police barricade the streets. People drive miles from neighboring towns to Trick ‘r Treat here, even mommies and daddies dress-up. There is a decorated golf cart parade, too!

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This year mom had way too much fun getting some of the boys ready for Halloween! Did I mention mom has six grandsons! Yep, six, now that has been a source of merrymaking. One of my really good new friends is Tammy. She thought I’d be cute as a butterfly. What do you think? It was a night full of excitement and I liked the attention but I did get a wee bit tuckered-out.

Ta ta for now, your old friend Miss Bella
I don’t mean I’m old — I just mean we’ve been friends for a long time 😉

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A Fresh Look from A New Place

Greetings from luscious, flowering, humid Georgia. Bella and I made the trek from Colorado to Georgia and what an adventure it has been. There are many things to love about Georgia (besides my younger son and grandsons). There is an impressive display of flowers and flowering trees nearly year round. The architecture is like something out of Gone with the Wind and in February the tulip trees are magnificent. Actually, I’ve read that Gone with the Wind was inspired by the architecture in this area. Movies and TV series are currently filmed here.

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Journey to a New Studio

Gratitude and joy consumed me as I reminisced of nearly thirty years of friendships, personal growth, and life changes in Colorado. The entire time I was packing I never doubted I was being guided in this direction.

From previous moves, I learned that a sense of lightness and clarity follow each downsizing. And so . . . a simpler life and a simpler look for my newsletter. Soon a simpler website and a simpler blog.

The final preparations were complete. The next day I would begin working in my Georgia studio but first, a couple things were needed from the “Toy Store,” you might call it the Art Store.

As I got in my car a smile crossed my face remembering how much time and loving energy I put into my little studio space. As I passed in front of a small white car waiting at the red light I saw another car that had been hidden from view. It wasn’t slowing, no time to get out of the way. I grabbed the steering wheel in hope that I would protect my back, no time for thought as to what might happen to other parts of my body during impact.

After surgery for a three-quarter tear in my rotator cuff and a severed bicep on my dominant shoulder there was six months of physical therapy. Now I sit in my studio, happy to be here. Countless times over the last several months I stopped in. Sometimes just sitting and staring, sometimes I made supply lists or splashed paint onto watercolor paper with my nondominant hand uncertain what I might do with them.

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As difficult as it can be I believe it behooves us to find the gifts, you know, the good things that might not have happened otherwise or things that were put in place to help us through tough times ahead.

What if . . .

While surfing the internet a few months before the accident, I came across a fun little art technique called Zentangle. As I watched the testimonial videos one convinced me there was much more to it than drawing. Off I went to Rhode Island to become a certified teacher. Over 100 students from around the world were in attendance. And I thought it was going to be a little workshop where I would learn to help others work with issues around creativity.

After the accident, I awakened the following morning with the words “The Tangled Spade” in my head. Without hesitation I added a board with that name to my Pinterest account.

My recovery was helped in many ways by knowing this simple technique. It was a way of being creative with a much appreciated benefit – while focusing on drawing there was a reprieve from pain.

At physical therapy, I met a gal who had had back surgery. She was learning how to walk again and was still in pain so I told her about Zentangle and asked if you would be interested in trying it. She claimed she wasn’t an artist but agreed to try. Our first session ran way past the hour I had allotted, when we finished she was amazed at how well she did, when asked what her pain level was she said, “Oh, I haven’t even thought about it but I don’t have any right now.”

Today was our third session. While putting things away she said, “I had no pain the entire time we were drawing.” Perhaps this is the reason I took the Zentangle certification.

If you have no idea what Zentangle is, here’s a peek. The top left photo (below) is my “Tangled Spade.” The others are some of my first tangles. Let me know what you think — leave a comment below!

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Not yet able to paint with the detail I once did, I’m trying a different-to-me style of watercolor. There are only a couple finished but several in my mind’s eye. If I come close to my vision I’ll be sharing soon.

Questions? Talk to me I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below!

Wishing you beauty everywhere you look,

Mickey

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PS: Well, just look who seems to be contemplating another article. Watch out world, you know there is no holding her back and she’s been through a lot since our move. We’ll see you next month!

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What will the This Year Bring You?

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Questions to Ask Yourself for a Better Year

Things to ponder • Things to implement

An Incredible Gift from Louise Hay

What shall I now release from my life?
What or who no longer works for me?
What am I holding on to that holds me back?
What thoughts or beliefs belong to the old me?
How am I being unloving to myself?
What do I believe that really works for me?
Am I ready to let go?
What is going on in my life that is terrific and wonderful?
Where am I being very loving to myself?
Where am I most content?
What do I want to bring to my life?
How do I want the next year to be?
Who do I want to bring into my world?
How do I want to look?
What image do I want to project?
How healthy do I want to be?
What changes can I make to feel healthier?
How prosperous do I want to feel?
What kind of world do I want to live in?
How much love am I willing to experience?

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July Newsletter

Being Thankful for All That Was

This is the third post in the series of my experiences after reading and completing the exercises in Julia Cameron’s books, The Artist Way and The Vein of Gold. To reiterate this all took place in the mid to late 1990’s.

Continuing to do many of the exercises from The Artist Way and to meet with my VOG group each week, the transition was amazing. Two weeks after writing our song we were to write a prayer and embellish the paper. Somehow writing a prayer was much easier now because I was and will be forever grateful having moved through an intensely traumatic portion of my childhood.

At this time in my life I still find it mind-boggling how a relatively short period of time in one’s life can cling into adulthood. Many of us take our emotional aches and pains to the grave, such a heavy burden to carry. I won’t say it was easy to move through those emotional blocks that held me back but when you realize it isn’t necessary to carry that load, life is easier and more beautiful.


Another item I found in my copy of The Vein of Gold, non-dominant handwriting. I’m unsure if this was part of Julia’s book but nonetheless thought you might find it interesting.
If you are unfamiliar with non-dominant hand writing here is a quick synopsis.
1. Quiet your mind.
2. Write a question on a piece of paper with your dominant hand.
3. Be still and listen to whatever pops into your head.
4. With pen in your non-dominant hand write what you hear. Do not edit.
5. Wait to hear if there is more.


There is no need to be an artist to benefit from Julia Cameron’s work. The only requirement is a need to make a change for the better in your life. And when you’ve finished her exercises your mind will be more open and a warm heart will be just the beginning your gifts to come.

Now I need to grab another of Julia’s books. Not sure which, I’ll know it when I see it. You see I’ve had a dream for over a year and haven’t made the leap of faith needed to fulfill it. Wish me luck! It’s time for more growth.

Ooooooo, a Boo Boo

The email read, “help me fix my big boo boo” This is a short video of a simple little project gone wrong and the solution. You can read the full story here.

Dear Mickey,
I found you on Facebook and love your art. I am having a little problem with one of my paintings and thought I would like to have your opinion. I just finished an acrylic painting of scenery from a photo I took while I was on vacation. It was a bit cloudy that day so my pallet was mostly blues, greens and several shades of grey. It looks dull and cold. I don’t like the feeling of coldness. What would you suggest. –Liz D.

Hi Liz, thank you for a great question and the compliment. My personal opinion is, you don’t have to paint exactly what you see in your photograph but if choose to keep it as you saw it that day it sounds as though you captured your subject accurately.

If you choose to change the feeling you could warm your colors by painting some highlights with warmer tones of greens and greys. A slightly warmer environment can be created with the use of a honey-gold color. It warms your painting. Accenting with touches of rose/pink with your cool greens will give you a slightly warmer atmosphere.
If you are feeling a bit more adventurous you can add a warm focal point and continue those colors throughout your painting adding warmer greens and accents of lavender, orange or even reds will give you a very warm atmosphere.

Hope this helps,

Mickey

Bella’s Insights


Hi gang, I’m back with yet another adventure. How lucky can I get! You’ll never guess where I got to go, F I S H I N G! What a day, mom said it was in the 90’s whatever that means. All I know is it was hot. Mom and I caught a trout. Dan put it in some wire thingy and stuck it in the water. I might add, cold water. Mom took her shoes off and went in and excitedly said, “Come on Bella.” I put one paw in and headed for dry ground, geeesh, not funny.

Mom was turning a little pink so I took her to a shady spot and we talked with some nice people visiting from Oregon. When we got back there were four fish in that wire thingy. Pretty cool how they just swim into that thing. (Dan wouldn’t like that I said that.) Then the sky was getting dark so it was time to head home.

When we got home mom fixed some snacks and put them on the deck. A little later I heard her say, “Where’s Bella?” “Just guarding the cheese, mom. Heh, heh. Too bad they got out here so soon, I was about to do a little taste-testing. You know, just to make sure it was safe for her.”



That night it got really windy, oh my, I hate the wind. Mom put my Thunder Shirt on me. What a relief. The next day I was exhausted from the stress of all that wind. Mom said it was only 61 degrees so I got to keep my thunder shirt on and I dozed in front of my window all day.

The Exhausted Adventurer,
Bella

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Help Me Fix My Boo-Boo?

A Simple Little Project Escalated

Last month I received an email from someone I had met at a networking event several years ago. The subject line read, “help me fix my boo boo?” Renee explained that she had hung several antique bows that had belonged to her husband’s grandfather on a wall which had a faux finish. She had a party planned and thought a different look for the room was in order.

When she took the bows down and patched the nail holes she found she couldn’t match the faux finish. What began as a simple project escalated into an area about seven feet wide and five feet tall. My experience has been that it is next to impossible to touch up a faux finish. The tinted, translucent paint for faux finishes becomes darker with each coat. Unless you can stay within the confines of the damaged area the adjoining edges appear darker. Renee reapplied the base coat to the area in hopes that she could blend in the faux finish. That so seldom happens. As I saw it she had three choices:

1.  Repaint the entire wall a solid color

2.  Paint a solid color and apply a new faux finish

3.  Have a mural designed to hide the “boo boo”

This couple was so fun to work with. When asked if they knew what they wanted. The wife looked her husband questioningly. He grinned and said, “Yes, but you won’t like it.” Hesitantly, she smiled and asked what his idea was. He replied, “Well, there’s a bathroom on the other side. I’d like to see a window with a woman taking a showing.” With a smile on her face she replied, “You’re right, I don’t like your idea.” So he looks at me and asked, “What do you think?” Oh boy, had to think quickly. Said I, “That might be more appropriate in the bedroom.” What a mischievous grin on that guys face.

Given the rural setting of their home I suggested a Colorado scene with 8-12 foot aspen trees flanking the area in question. The husband was a rock climber so I put a couple of climbers on the rocks. And to show you what a cool wife this guy has; she called one morning and asked if I could hide a nude in the mural. Something that wouldn’t be noticed unless coaxed to look.

In one of the last conversations I had with Renee she mentioned that they like to name characters in paintings so I dropped her an email to find out what the names were. Here is her response: “RE names: with a nod to our childhood, Highlights magazine, the climbers names are Gufus and Gallant. The wood nymph is really an Indian maiden (who knew?) named Little Bare. The furry animal is Marvin the Marten, and the bumblebee’s name is Dumbledore.
Oh, to live in a normal household…
I love the painting every day!
Renee”

 

See if you can spot the characters in this short video. (Sorry I didn’t take a photo of the bee.)
Photo of Colorado Mural by Mickey Baxter-Spade

Got questions or comments? – I’d love to hear them!

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@ mickeybaxterspade.com

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