Carriage Trade

Chapter Six

We settled into a comfortable pattern, working from home when we could so one of us was with the boys as much as possible. By the second week of July, Mary asked me if I had seen the ad placed in the local advertising paper, that month, that advertised student riding lessons given at the University's Equine Studies Campus, just two miles out of town. There Uni students were earning Summer money by offering riding lessons to adolescents in morning and afternoon sessions. She and Lou were considering enrolling Beth and wondered if our boys would be interested. I thought it would be fun for the boys, but Mary also said that she and Lou were thinking of purchasing a pony for Beth and maybe two horses for themselves. She said they both had riding lessons in their teens and sometimes went to a riding stable in Granby and spent a few hours there riding and that in the backs of their minds they thought of that when they made the effort to purchase the farm they now lived on.

When I told David about it, he was excited, saying he missed riding and he thought it would be a good family thing to do with the boys after they had been taught properly. We discussed the possibilities and all three boys were excited to be able to learn to ride, even if we didn't live on a ranch or anything. I could see another two horses and three ponies in our future, I also knew that the barn at Lou and Mary's farm had twelve stalls.

Three days later all the arrangements had been made for all the children to take the morning riding lessons, riding to their class with David most mornings, and Lou picking them up at noon since she was not teaching Summer school this year to be with Beth during the day. Lou was the one who found out about the sale in a few weeks that was going to take place at the University's stables. David and I talked horses and ponies with Mary and Lou and we all decided to "stock up" at their barn. Lou knew, through talking with one of the instructors at the stable the University ran, that there was always one of the students assigned to the stable there, looking for lodging at the beginning of a semester. The ladies had the idea of taking in a college student boarder in exchange for barn duties, having the student take care of the barn and their horses in exchange for rent.  They thought with the right person, or maybe a couple, 8 horses and ponies to care for would be a reasonable exchange for rent. I spoke up and said we'd be able to contribute $300.00 a month and that might make the deal even sweeter.

We hadn't had any responses to our advert on the stable bulletin board, but I guess it really didn't matter, as friends of Ken and Ben came to visit them as they too had mustered out of the Air Force, and had also decided on the University for their degrees. The two women, Allison and Dana, had served with Ben and Ken at their last deployment. They too were a couple and when Ben and Ken found out they needed housing they asked them, since they were from a farming county in Iowa, if either of them had any experience with horses. The women laughed and told the men that both of them were raised on riding stables and had even met at a local riding event when they were teens. Their parents had encouraged them to keep their relationship private and the women felt that joining the Airforce after high school would provide them not only the chance to serve their country, but to earn the right to attend college on the GI Bill. It would afford them the opportunity to live away from home and keep their relationship a secret from those they grew up around.

Once the guys knew about their past and that they hadn't found a place to live yet, they thought to let David and me know about them, so that is how Dana and Allison became residents at Mary and Lou's farm and took on the care of the residents to come at the barn there. They accompanied us to the University's facilities to help all of us choose horses and ponies that would be under their care.

We adults, had not told the boys or Beth about getting our own ponies or horses, we let them continue their lessons, and soon we were told the month's lessons were over and they had learned all that the instructors were able to teach them at their ages, so we arranged the delivery of our stock and we also had their tack,  feed and hay delivered. That Friday at the end of July was a fun one, for instead of everyone getting ready to set off for the University stables, we were getting the boys ready for a short ride to the farm where we promised them a surprise. Once there we gathered with the ladies and we eagerly awaited the first delivery, the hay and the feed sacks. Allison and Dena had taken control of the unloading, already having prepped the stalls and the storage areas, cleaned out the tack room and generally made the barn a welcoming home for the new arrivals on the next truck, which was the first of the two horse vans to come.

The activity and the items already delivered had certainly caught Matty's attention and he asked me if we had done what he thought we had done, and I smiled and nodded at him, but whispered to keep it a secret for just a little while longer. He wrapped his arms around me and I thought we were going to have a weepy kid on our hands, but he perked right up when the first of the horse carriers arrived in front of the corral at the barn. This was the van with the ponies in it and I was surprised when two unfamiliar horses were also led out and Lou explained that she had negotiated a deal with the University and she had gotten a great bargain on two more horses, for Allison and Deana's use.

When the second van had delivered the rest of the horses and the tack, we adults went to help put that away, labeling the wall hooks and storage bins with each horse's name so it would cut down on adjusting straps and belts each time a mount was fitted out. Meanwhile, the four kids were at the corral fence watching the animals getting used to the corral and their new surroundings.

Once we were finished in the tack room we went to the kids and asked if they had picked out a favorite yet. Luckily, they had each picked out a different one, so we told them that would be the pony they would be riding starting tomorrow, even though it was a short trip, we wanted the animals to get settled from their trip across town. The six horses seemed to be quite content to be here and the ponies didn't seem to bother them at all. Deana and Allison had given each of the kids a treat to give their ponies to start their bonding, and we adults did so as well.

We spent Saturday at the farm and Ben and Ken stopped by to see how their friends were settling in. We made a big picnic lunch and we even let Ben and Ken ride our horses in between taking breaks and filming the boys and Beth on their ponies. We had noticed, of course, how well the youngsters all rode, and it was clear they had paid attention during their lessons. By dinnertime, the boys were about done, and we had a "grooming party" for the animals and we all pitched in to help get the grooming done and the tack replaced in the tack room.

The rest of the Summer flowed on and it seemed to go quicker when we all were enjoying the horses and ponies so much. We still took the boys on canoeing adventures every couple of days, but their new favorite thing was riding the ponies and swimming in our pool. On August 15th Mr. Wilkins called to tell us our adoption hearing was slated on the family court docket for the 18th, at nine in the morning. If everything worked out, we would still have time to register the boys at their new school with their new names.

For some reason, Mary and Lou were not pushing to advance Beth's adoption, and I wondered if it was a monetary situation, but then they had spent some money on the pony and horses, so I just out and out asked her one day at work. She laughed and told me that they had discussed this just after the first visit with Beth, that first weekend they had her to their home to find out if they were all compatible. They had shown Beth on the calendar how the visits were all spaced out on the weekends, which included our wedding weekend, and counted out on the calendar the next ninety days and when they got to the end of the ninety days it was September fifth, Beth's birthday, and the Friday of the beginning of the Labor Day Weekend, a great time to celebrate both the birthday and the adoption.

I could now see why they were not pushing for an earlier date, and they had explained to their lawyer what significance that Friday had for Beth, it being her birthday. They already were on the family court docket for their preferred date and Mary told me that with Lou working for the school department they didn't anticipate any problems when it came time to change Beth's school records. Their thinking was it was so early in the school year that they didn't think it would even be noticed by the other kids in her classroom.

It was though, important to our boys, especially Matty, who had turned into the mushy cuddle bug he was now, and I wouldn't do anything to change that. Yes, he was protective of his brother and Eric, and he didn't play favorites, but the guy who threatened us not to hurt his brother was the one we didn't want to disappoint now.  David and I took them to get suits for the hearing, but we told them the jackets were optional, they really didn't need the suit jackets, but when we were all ready to leave the house, Matty ran back upstairs and grabbed the three boy's suit jackets, telling David and me that if they wore their suit jackets we'd all be dressed alike and then we'd look more like we belonged together. Good thinking for a nine-year-old.

When the boys were all through security (you never know just what two six-year-olds and a nine-year-old will stuff into their pockets within five minutes of dressing them, there were three big metal paper clips from our home office, two of my ballpoint pens, one of David's tie clips he had been looking for when we had dressed before dressing the boys, the buckle of a belt I had thrown away because the webbing had started to fray, Matty had a pack of chewing gum, the kind with a foil wrapper around the sticks, and the six-year-olds had chocolate bars wrapped in foil in their new suit jackets that they had just gotten on before we left the house). They set off all the buzzers and the two guards on duty were treating it like a scavenger hunt. Then we were allowed to go to our hearing room to meet Mr. Wilkins and Mary from the DCFS office. She had a big smile on her face and we guessed correctly that she had been behind us and then when she saw the delay, we were causing she had scooted to another entrance to get in.

She and Mr. Wilkins spent a few minutes explaining to the boys that the judge would most likely want to talk to them in another room for a while before anything got done, so answer him nicely and truthfully and everything would go smooth. When the judge came in, Matty dragged Davey and Eric over to him and he introduced himself and his brother and his newest brother (Eric) to the judge even before the poor guy had a chance to sit down. The judge took it all in stride and for the sake of the court reporter, he declared the hearing started and he took the boys into the adjacent room.

Several times during the next twenty minutes we heard the boys laughing and twice we heard a louder and deeper laugh from the judge. When the three of them came back into the hearing room they were like long-lost pals and the judge got three hugs, one from each of the boys. The judge had one question for me though, he wanted to know where I came up with comparing raising a child to growing a pine tree on the top of a mountain. I told him that it was in a story I had been editing for The Story Lover's Home, a story written by Art West, when I first worked with my cousin to learn the editing- business I now owned, and it stuck with me. When I saw Matty awed by the bigness of the world when we were at The Summit House, and I saw the pine tree seedlings next to a huge Pine tree on that mountaintop, I had tried to let Matty know that if something that small was tended to and cared for, that seedling could grow big and strong too and be able to withstand the harsh weather and the clumsiness of the hikers, too.

The judge nodded several times and then said it was a really good analogy and he hoped he'd have many times to use it himself. Without missing a beat, he rapped his gavel on the table top and pronounced all three adoptions granted and the boys to carry the last names of Weston-Blackmer, without the hyphen, as Matty thought that was silly. The three boys crowded around us to give hugs and kisses and then all three went to the judge and he got the same treatment, as did Mr. Wilkins and Mary.

By the time all the new paperwork was ready the boys had taken off their suit coats and once the new birth certificates were in hand and a signed and sealed copy of each of the three adoption decrees safely tucked into my suit jacket inner pocket (David had the new birth certificates in his inner suit pocket also) we were on our way home. Our sons had said they were hungry again, I guess their breakfast was long gone by then.

Before everyone had changed out of their suits, we took more pictures, we hadn't had time before we left for court. We did a kids group, and then Matty took some of David and me and then we set the digital camera David had and we let it take some of the group of us all together, some cute and some serious. On the small screen of the camera, they all looked great, but David said he had a veteran on campus that could possibly do something with one of the group pictures. He did let me download all the pictures into my computer before he took the memory cards to school with him on Monday.

So that Friday night, to celebrate the triple adoptions, we took the makings for hamburgers and cheeseburgers to Lou and Mary's, where we rode for a couple of hours with the ladies before we all helped in the grooming before moving up to the patio by their kitchen and starting the grill. The boys were telling their friend Beth about the adoption process and their talk with the nice Judge. She acted like she was committing everything they told her to memory, and in a few weeks, she too would have her day in family court. Of course, Mary and Lou had questions too and we told them that we were so afraid of being assigned to some homophobic ass who would make us all suffer, but when we had told Mary, our caseworker that, she had replied that those judges who displayed any signs of being against gay adoptions had been weeded out several years ago in our area and we had nothing to worry about in that regard. We were pleased to be able to pass this on to our hostesses.

We had a spate of new authors and publishing houses requesting our editing services in August and we had to bring in three of our part-timers to get out manuscripts due for publication in the Fall so their publishers could have time with them, and among the part-timers was a young grad student I had only met at Chuck's funeral. He was quite a strapping lad and in talking to him during the day I found out he was the oldest of the four boys in his family and had been kicked out when his conservative parents found out he was gay. Through friends, he was able to keep in touch with his younger brothers, but no attempt had been made by his parents to remain in touch. He had put himself through the first four years of college and upon his graduation he had received a letter from his deceased grandparents' lawyer informing him of a trust fund set up by them to be paid out to him upon graduating from college.

The trust was for a quite sizable amount, five hundred thousand dollars, and he was using the money earned by the trust to pay for grad school, and when he attained a teaching position, he would be able to purchase a home to settle in, one where he'd be able to visit with his three teenage brothers in.

Brad had an easygoing manner about him and whenever he had time, he said he liked to go to Forge Pond in Granby to canoe. He shared an apartment here in Amherst with another grad student and they had already had a few flare-ups, mostly about the roommate bringing girls home for the night and not even warning him about overnight company wandering around the apartment, usually in their underwear. He didn't think he was going to renew his month to month rental agreement at the end of August. That week we had to add two more part-timers and then I thought to ask David if he thought he'd be able to use the other four bedrooms on the second floor of the main house for veterans in the Fall. He caught on right away, asking if I already had someone in mind for a room and I told him about Brad and his living conditions.

We discussed the pros and cons and decided that if he wanted it, the room that Mary had rented, the one double room that had a private bathroom attached, might work for him. The next day during work I invited Brad to look the room over, giving him the key and telling him what David and I had agreed was a reasonable rent for the room. I was working on another of Mr. West's stories for The Story Lover's Home when Brad came back down and said it would be perfect, could he begin moving in this week? He brought in his first and last months' rent the next day and during his lunch hour, he began to move upstairs. During this, he got to meet Ken and Ben up there and soon the three of them had all Brian's belongings from his packed car unloaded into the room.

I learned they went out to dinner that night and followed that up with a few hours at a mixed crowd gay-friendly club in town. That started a friendship between the couple and Brian, the couple trying to fix Brian up with single guys they knew, but they hadn't been in town that long themselves. Brian was of the opinion that he had all the next school year to find "Mr. Right" and he wasn't looking for a "Mister Right Now".

That weekend we asked Ben and Ken if they wanted to go to the reservoir canoeing with us and they mentioned that Brian might like to go with us, so he tagged along too, getting to know David and the boys. He fit right in with everyone, but he enjoyed hanging with the boys a lot, he said they reminded him of his brothers when they were young. He had such a good time that he asked to be included in our future boating trips. We had no problem with that, the boys thought of him as a big brother who happened to live in the big house next door, Ben and Ken were more like Uncles to our boys.

Brian fit right in, occasionally coming to the farm and riding with us too, the girls also liked him and had also tried fixing him up but again he was looking for just the right guy, whoever that turned out to be. I gave him credit, he did try some of the other couples suggestions, which made for a pretty active social life for him those last weeks of August, but he really did like spending time with our boys, and they with him, and Brian became our go-to guy when we needed a sitter so David and I could also get out for a date night ourselves once in a while.

The business was going great guns until later in the Fall, but it was good to get back to the five of us regulars in the office again, the part-timers were getting involved with their own school work and our boys were beginning classes at their new school, which actually started two weeks before Beth's adoption by Mary and Lou. All four of the kids were assimilated into the school with no problems at all. The boys were proud of their new names and they found out soon enough that there were several adopted kids in each of their classes, and many of them were in same-sex parent families.

At least this first year in the new school system all our boys would be in the same school building, Matty had told us that last year he was in a grade school in the city and Davey and Eric were bused to a special preschool on the other side of the city. Here they could all ride to school together, see each other during lunch, and ride the bus home together. Once home they came to the big house and I had a small alcove in the old dining room fitted out just for them, with three student desks and a computer set up for them to do homework on, not that Davey or Eric had much homework in the first grade, but Matty did in his fourth grade class and he had a bunch of editors to help when he needed it.

I was so blessed to not only have found my second mate, but one who shared my dreams of having a family. We had so much to be thankful for and I wanted everyone around us to be just as happy as David and I were.

We had spent the Columbus Day long weekend dividing our time between the canoeing, and catching the beginning of the Fall foliage change this second weekend of October, and riding at the farm with Lou, Mary, and Beth. It was on our way home from the farm when I asked David to pull over. There on my side of the car, the passenger side, I was looking over the rolling fields outside my window toward the Mount Holyoke range across the river, maybe twenty or so miles away. The field in front of me was bordered on all sides by a fieldstone wall and the remnants of a once proud farmhouse that had reigned over this property for over a hundred years, but was now a burnt out wreck that had been sitting since a devastating fire over eight years ago. Beyond the far stone wall was a barn constructed with a fieldstone facade and remnants of a couple of corrals or paddocks. The owners of the property must have finally had it with the tax bills on this unused property and put it up for sale, because a local Realtor's sign now hung from a post at the entrance drive for the former homestead. The sign said there were 60 acres of land in total and I went to the infobox on the sign and retrieved a data sheet on the property.

In the five minutes, it took us to drive back to the center of town the boys were asking what that was all about, as I think David was wondering also. As the boys ran through their showers, Davey and Eric getting help from their older brother, David and I sat at our home computer and saw on Google Earth the whole property laid out before us. The property was surrounded by protected lands maintained by the state, so no subdividing it into public home sites, so the price of the property reflected that. It also did not have public utilities, like electric or public water services, so a septic system and leach field would have to be resurrected from back in the late 1800s or the early 1900s, again this was reflected in the price. It would make building there very expensive, but the more I thought about it, who had to build from scratch? I mean David and I owned outright a beautiful large home that was actually hidden behind the building I worked in. There was a very large lot behind us that connected to a street that was very wide, and the more I rambled on, the more David got excited about living in our own house, out in the countryside, just five minutes from everything we needed, my work, and David's too.

He said he'd leave it all to me to investigate, but he was interested in seeing the property and exploring that neat old stone barn.

Stone Barn

So, arrangements were made to walk the property with the listing agent, a young man who, as it turned out, was the son of Realtors in the Eastern part of the state who was doing his studies for his Master's in Education at the University and working part-time as a licensed Realtor. Along with us were Ben, Ken, and Brian, the boys having been dropped off at the farm where the ladies would keep them busy riding for the afternoon.

Brian and JC seemed to hit it off really well from the get-go. Most of JC's responses to our questions were directed to Brian and I wondered just what kind of arrangement JC thought the five of us guys had. We spent quite a bit of time at the old house site, and David and I decided that it wasn't the perfect placement for our house and we found what we thought was the perfect placement for it, about thirty yards from the old site and canted about sixty degrees so most of the back windows could take advantage of the sunsets over the distant mountaintops, and we would have a great daytime view of the old stone barn from the big windows on the back of the house. Our next stop was the old barn.

The old swing out barn doors opened sorta easily, but they definitely needed oil on their hinges and in the lock on the main door. Inside were plenty of stalls for horses and ponies, we counted fourteen, and at each stall was a tin lined wooden box, meant to hold the stall's occupant's feed, each animal's tack could be hung on big iron and wood brackets at each stall. In the back of the barn was a tack room, lined with wooden pegs to hold gear on and the loft upstairs was clean and dry. There was a heating unit located on the first floor that serviced the whole barn, and pipes and spigots for running water from the property's well. That would have to be tested to see if it was potable water or not. David asked if I was thinking of converting the structure into living quarters, and I laughed and told him I was, for the horses and ponies we now boarded at the girl's farm.

JC took us all on a tour of the few acres abutting the original farmyard and we saw some corral fencing that should be repaired or replaced and a few smaller outbuildings for tools or yard maintenance supplies, and off in the distance we could see a smaller wooden barn which JC told us was once used for the farming equipment like the tractors, hay wagons and tillers and even a snow plow attachment for the old tractor in that barn. He told us they had tried to start the tractor, but without success, but it was included in the sale along with everything else in that barn. It took us about 20 minutes to get to it, and indeed there was stuff in that barn, it had been apparently used to store a number of different things, including a number of now weathered pieces that had been in the house when the fire had occurred many years before.

On the walk back to where we had parked, David and I held back a bit so we could talk and we decided that we'd like to get the contractor who had built out our house to look this place over, since he had a relative who had moved quite a few homes in Granby some years ago and we knew he had prepared the new locations to be able to receive the buildings when they were moved and we'd like a quote from him before we went any further. Before we left, we told JC we needed to bring at least one other person to view the site, but we were interested in it. He told us the days he'd be available and before we drove off, Brian had made a date to see JC again, on a strictly nonprofessional basis.

By the fifteenth of October, we had an accepted offer on the old farm and workers were there getting a foundation laid which would give us a basement, well, under half the first floor anyway. It would give us a place for the utilities to be installed in, giving us another small pantry off the kitchen on the first floor, and all the solar batteries and connections, and the pump for the well and septic could be housed down there also. Workmen were also preparing our house for the move as well. The old carriage house would have to be cut in half to allow the large structure to be moved, but we were assured it wouldn't take too long to rejoin the two halves once they were placed on the new foundation. We had decided not to rent another place for the three months they estimated it would take for the house to be put right again, after all, we hadn't needed any of the extra three upstairs bedrooms in the big house yet, so we prepared to move into those, until after the New Year, providing the winter weather didn't hamper the work on the new property.

Because of the anticipated bad winter weather, we also had a new pool installed that would connect to the back of the house, once it was placed on the new foundation, by an enclosed sunroom type of enclosure, all solar powered so it could be used year-round. It was off to one side, so it wouldn't obstruct our new view. The cost of moving the carriage house, the addition of the pool, and having the solar heating installed in the stone barn and our house and the corrals repaired all cost us what the property cost us, one hundred and fifty thousand. It was another fifty thousand for the septic system and the well to be dug for our water system. All told the appraisal for our new home when completed was for over nine hundred thousand dollars, and we had only spent three hundred and fifty thousand, a good investment in our future and all paid out of our trust funds, only a slight twenty thousand out of capital, but it was worth it.

The months we spent living out of the bedrooms in the big house were fun ones for the boys.  We used the big kitchen on the first floor and we often had "company" for dinner. Ben and Ken and Brian and JC were frequent dining companions and often kept the boys entertained during their winter break while David and I did holiday shopping or other errands. The boys got to see the crew loading half of our house at a time onto huge flatbed trucks and trailers for the trip to the new lot and we drove ahead of them, by using side streets to get there first, and all bundled up we sat on lawn chairs as the sections were unloaded off the carriers and placed on the new foundation. It was covered by a local TV station and the boys were thrilled to be interviewed on the news program.

We had invited friends and the younger boys' classmates to watch the unloading and we had a sort of moving party in the stone barn set up with refreshments for all and a place to warm up and still be able to watch the proceedings. All of our furnishings were in storage at a local moving company's storage warehouse and ready for delivery as soon as an occupancy permit was issued on January 20th of the new year, as soon as the ground thawed that year the new driveway was installed just in time to welcome our moving van and five days later, we were moving our clothing and ourselves into the moved carriage house. The boys said it was nice to be home again.

During the Spring we did move our horses and ponies to our own barn and Brian (along with some help from JC) took over the care of the barn and its occupants which now included two barn cats and two dogs which thankfully were housebroken, but who preferred to sleep in the barn for some reason. The two young men had hit it off from day one and were a happy couple, sharing many of the same classes as they worked this last year toward their Masters, along with David, Ben and Ken.

It proved to be a good move for all of us as the boys got a lot more room to roam which we allowed them to do as long as the three of them stayed together. We had bought Matty a cell phone, so he could connect with us quickly if needed and one or both of the dogs were with them constantly during the day. We spent a lot of time at home either riding or in the enclosed pool. The boys were now a year older and in the next school year would be advancing another school grade, but we had the Summer to get through before that occurred.

The weekend of the Master's Degree in Education graduation ceremony in early June saw a lot of excitement in our houses, both our own home where David was to graduate, and also at the big Victorian where all three of our current year-long resident grad students were preparing to receive their masters also, Ben, Ken and Brian (JC was also, but although he did spend many a night with Brian, he officially didn't live there). So, with five men in the family receiving degrees we, of course, had to have a party and we also had other things to celebrate. All five of them had received and accepted job offers from the schools they had practice taught at. David was to be the new Seventh and Eighth Grade English Teacher at the Amherst Middle School, Brian and JC accepting the new Algebra and Science Teacher positions respectively, and Ben and Ken accepted positions at the University's own grade school for employee's and some of the student's own children.

Our boys were suitably impressed with their Daddy's graduation regalia, especially the tassel on his mortarboard, but David didn't let that rest there, he took the boys to my desk in our home office and showed them my framed diploma and my graduation picture, with Chuck by my side. Of course, the boys wanted to know who the other guy was with me and David explained that Chuck had been my first husband and he had died a long time ago, before Daddy even met their Dad. The boys moved on to other subjects as David changed from his graduation robe and mantle into more comfortable clothing for the party, but later, as I was placing nibbles on cookie sheets for the party Matty came up to me and wrapped his arms around my waist and gave me one of his big hugs.

I had just freed my hands and wiped off the crumbs on a kitchen towel, so I hugged him back and rocked him a bit from side to side and asked him to what I owed the pleasure of his hug and he said he wanted me to know that he was sorry Chuck had died. I held him close and told him "Thank You Matty, but you know, if Chuck hadn't died, I never would have met David, and then I never would have met you and your brother and also Eric. I can't say I'm happy about Chuck's death, but I love your Daddy and I love you and your brothers, and I can't imagine my life without you all in it." He pulled on my chin, so he could give my cheek a kiss and told me that they loved me too and that he knew that I made them all feel loved and protected every day. We each took a tray out to add to the food tables out on the back patio that faced the barn and we joined the party, hand in hand.

That Summer I received a request through the publisher of the textbook Chuck and I had written several years ago. The request was from the Humanities department at another local college, wondering if I would participate in a symposium, they were trying to schedule for the Spring semester.


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