Pensé Que íbamos a Visitar Solamente Una Mesa Vieja, Pero en Realidad Hay Aquí Una Ciudad Completa, Part II: In Which There *IS* a Table

I am being dragged into another store, but I don’t mind this one at all. It’s a bookstore! And because it is an independent store and not part of a chain, the owners have felt free to stuff it full of interesting titles, and not just the mass-marketed rubbish that one can find anywhere. The human female is happy, because the natural history section is especially well stocked.

I think she’s hinting.

I have wandered into the children’s area and–Sweet Sif on a Cracker!

I don’t know whether to be horrified or intrigued… (page, page, page.) Actually, cover art aside, it’s a pretty decent child-level treatise on how various Midgardian beasts are constructed. I assume it’s only Midgardian beasts. I certainly didn’t see a depiction of the inner workings of a bilgesnipe.

Oh, now what’s this one?

Ah. It would appear that not all of the tomes are equally instructive. Or anatomically accurate.

Sigyn has joined me and–unusually for her–she is not really paying any attention to the books. Instead, she is looking at the jigsaw puzzles. This one is very whiney.

And now she is looking at the little dioramas in the center of the children’s room.

It is a very cozy-looking room. I think she is hoping the penguin will invite her in for tea. Or, since this is New Mexico, possibly enchiladas.

The rooms really are very detailed.

There is even mood lighting. I thinks Sigyn would very much like to live here!

I am fairly certain none of these rooms or their contents are for sale.

However, I have access to large sums of money, a great deal of magic, and a certain roguish charm. I can be very persuasive. If my beloved wants it, I believe I can make sure this day ends with the purchase of una mesa after all.

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Pensé Que íbamos a Visitar Solamente Una Mesa Vieja, Pero en Realidad Hay Aquí Una Ciudad Completa, Part I: A-Shopping We Will Go

The humans have proposed a day trip. When I heard them discussing it, I was under the impression it was just to the local furniture store to buy a table, but we are going to visit Old Mesilla, a town which, even though it is in a completely different state, is closer to the city we are in than the city we are in is to any other city in Texas. Sometimes Midgard just doesn’t make sense.

We are taking the long way there. Sigyn is entranced by the fields of cotton and the orchards of pecan trees we are passing, all watered by cleverly constructed canals that tap from the Rio Grande. I am busy planning how best to annex this territory when I launch my final push to take over the planet. From what I can tell, whoever controls the supply of three vital commodities—water, adobe, and Hatch green chilies—can be king in this part of the world.

We have arrived. It’s a small place, but apparently “rich in history.” Its main claim to fame is once having housed the notorious outlaw Billy the Kid. Well, now it has housed me, so it is even more significant.

There is a bi-towered church on the main plaza.

I know Sigyn would like to see inside, but unfortunately the doors are locked. That is fine with me. It doesn’t appear to be the sort of place that would welcome a Norse God anyway.

The human male wants to take some photos of the outside. I have other plans for his camera.

The square is surrounded by quaint little shops. Sigh. I just know I’m going to be dragged in and out of each and every one of them, but for my sweetie’s sake I will paste on a happy face and tag along. Besides, I might be able to find a good present for her. Yule is only three months away, after all.

This shop seems to be full of very… colorful knicknackery. Some of it is tasteful, if a bit religiously offensive to someone of my godliness.

I haven’t the heart to tell her that the little well is meant as a receptacle for holy water, not an observation post…

Great Frigga’s Hairpins! Such gaudy papier mache’ pussycats!

The human female’s mother is in the market for a new feline. But I do not think this is the sort she has in mind. Still, I might buy her one of these. She’d have to display it, out of politeness, and either one of them would clash wonderfully with all of her eagles and blue and white china…

And I might invite these fine fellows home for dinner.

We’ll have a jam session afterwards and all the neighborhood dogs will bark. It’ll be great.

Sigyn has discovered some more sedate companions.

Licking Sigyn on the forehead in 3…2…1. Slurp!

This next emporium has a selection of woven end embroidered items.

Those are so bright that I bet even the human female couldn’t manage to lose the glasses case in the black hole that is her backpack.

Jewelry store.

Store with spiced pistachios and local wine.

More knick-knacks.

Gallery.

And our penultimate stop, the building that used to be the jail that held that famous outlaw. There is some very touristy stuff here, as well as a little something that I think will need to make an appearance in the human female’s stocking

After all, Yule is only three months away…

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An Apple A Day Keeps the Sigyn at Play (Sigyn Speaks)

Can you guess what is happening here today? Go on, guess!

If you guessed “More food!” you are correct!

The human female’s mother has agreed to teach me how to make her special Apple Roses. With a cast on, it’s going to be a mostly hands-off lesson for me, but I’m enthusiastic nonetheless. Loki says it all sounds “a bit too girly” and that he’ll sample the finished product. That’s all right. Pastry and cloaks don’t mix very well!

We are starting with a nice, crisp apple.

This one’s an envy. Isn’t the color gorgeous? You could even make some yellow apple roses–or a combination of red and yellow!

First, you want to wash and core your apple. But don’t peel it! You want that color!

Cut each half into thin slices–about 1/8″.

You might end up with some pieces toward the outside of each apple half that aren’t very big. You can either eat those (yum!) or save them for the middles of the roses. Drop the slices into a bowl of water with a splash of lemon juice as you cut them. That way they won’t brown.

Microwave the bowl of apples in water for three minutes on high to cook them a little. You want the slices to be flexible, but not mushy. Not that I have anything against mushy apples! Applesauce is nummy! It’s just not what we are aiming for today.

We are using frozen puff pastry. If you have the time and skill to make your own, you are my new hero. When my arm heals, I may try making some. But store-bought is perfectly okay!

Roll out the pastry to about 1/8″ thick.

We are making six roses from one apple and one half package of pastry, so we want to cut each of the marked-out pieces in half lengthwise.

To start making the roses, first spread one strip thinly with apricot jam. If your jam is too thick or too cold, you can warm it up a little.

Don’t use too much jam or your roses will be soggy. : ( You want just enough to be “glue”!

Next, place apple slices overlapping on the top half of the strip, fold the bottom of the pastry up over the bases of the slices, then roll the whole thing up.

Isn’t that pretty! Don’t worry if your first try is a little wonky–mine was! It will still be delicious.

We are going to cook these in a muffin tin. Put a rose in every other space so the rose petals have room to spread. We’re spraying the cups we’re using with non-stick spray and filling the unused cups with water so that things heat evenly.

At this point you can sprinkle the roses with a little sugar if you want them sweeter and sparkly. You could also use cinnamon!

Bake at 375F until the pastry is crisp and golden, about 30 to 40 minutes. Let them cool for a minute or two before taking them out of the cups–any longer than that and they will probably stick!

Squeee! These are almost too pretty to eat! You can serve these warm or cold, with ice cream or whipped cream or a dusting of powdered sugar. You could tuck a rose or mint leaf in between the pastry and the petals, too, if you want to be really fancy.

Somehow, though, I don’t think these are going to last long enough for any embellishments, not with the way Loki is eyeing them!

Oh, no! I just realized I didn’t get a photo of the rolling-up process! I am so sorry!!! There are some good photos here, though we weren’t working from that particular recipe.

These were really fun and easy and yummy! I hope you try some of your own!

: )

Noms Make Everything Better

Sigyn is feeling better today, thanks in no small part to the human female’s mother’s cooking.

Every morning has started with a good breakfast. This is what she fed us our first morning.

Blueberry pancakes with REAL maple syrple and peppered bacon.

Last night, she cheered Sigyn up with fried rice, egg rolls, and spring rolls.

Sigyn really appreciated the sauce for the egg rolls, which was her favorite color.

No one made me a sauce in my favorite color. But then, I didn’t break my arm, and at least the soy sauce bottle has a green label.

It really is all about the food here. At breakfast, we are asked about what we want for lunch. At dinner, we’re reminded that there are cookies and ice cream and about four dozen options for breakfast. The human male and female have even pitched in with a will. They made tzatziki to go with the Greek meatballs for lunch, and they are planning fish tacos for one of the nights we are here.

And when we aren’t making food or eating food or talking about it, we are shopping for it. There are one or two things the human female’s mother needs, and Sigyn and I have tagged along to see what a different market looks like.

I am pretty sure the market back home doesn’t stock… this.

And I find that I am absolutely okay with that.

Oh, now this is neat! The human female’s mother has taken us to her local Asian market, since she needs to purchase some more of her favorite Korean coffee. Such places are always entertaining to look in, and this emporium is exceptionally well-stocked, well-organized, and very bright and clean.

Sigyn has found something she wants to try.

Evidently the pale pink sort we have at home is not brightly colored enough.

She also thinks that these look “fun”:

Dearest, did you read the fine print on the package? They’re not actually that color, and I doubt they have smiley faces.

The human male has acquired some ramen,, along with some dumplings to prepare for the human female’s mother to try later in our visit. The human female has seized upon a package of these. Are they cookies? Are they crackers? I don’t know— and neither does she, though I think she has hopes that they will taste like the sesame cookies the human male’s former student worker’s mother made for her once.

Uh oh. I can feel it coming on. I have been very, very good all day and the urge to do some mischief is just bubbling up inside me. I’m not sure I can control myself. . .

Augh! It’s like they knew I was coming!

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Plus ça Change, Plus C’est la Même Chose, Part II: Of Plants and Owies

Oh. I see we have to look at the outside of the house as well as the inside, to see if anything has changed.

For starters, the big mulberry tree that was in the backyard is gone. Sigyn, the human female, and the human female’s mother are all in mourning. Borer beetles, I think they said.

The “dwarf” arborvitae trees in front of the house are bigger than ever.

Never trust a plant salesman out to make a quick buck, unless you don’t mind having to prune things every year…

The pomegranate bush in the front planter is also still thriving.

Reddish flowers and good for dangling–in Sigyn’s book this is the perfect shrub.

The human female says the Virginia creeper vine that is swallowing the back of the house wasn’t quite so rambunctious the last time she saw it.

She says that tomorrow she’ll drag out the stepladder and trim it away from the eaves and windows. I think that is a very good idea. Not that I care about possible damage to woodwork and masonry from the vine’s sticky little aerial rootlets, you understand. I just like to sHaKe ladders when she stands on them, especially if she’s holding sharp tools while she’s up there.

Of the multiple four o’clock bushes that used to be under the bedroom windows when the human female was a sprout, only one remains.

Sigyn, I know the human female says they are pollinated by big, fuzzy, night-flying moths that look like hummingbirds, but do you really want to sit and wait to see them? There are hours and hours of daylight left.

It is getting warm out here! Shall we go inside and look at the houseplants? I don’t care if they’re real or artificial, as long as air conditioning is involved.

Hmm. New cactus in the kitchen window. New schefflera in the bathroom. Same old ficus in the den. And Great Frigga’s Hairpins! Hanging from the shower curtain rod is the same oak-leaf ivy that the human female had forty years ago!

It isn’t much larger than it used to be, but look how thick the “trunk” has become!

! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !

Later. Much later.

I think my heart rate has finally come back down to normal. I don’t want to spend an afternoon like this ever again!

I was just about to tell Sigyn to be careful climbing around in that ivy when she suddenly lost her footing or her grip or something and took a tumble right onto the tile floor! Even with my godly reflexes, I wasn’t quick enough to catch her, and we got to see a part of the human female’s natal city neither of us wanted to.

It’s a nasty break in her upper arm. I’ve been speeding the healing along with my magic, but she’s still going to be in a cast for a while.

I’m so sorry, my love. I just wasn’t fast enough.

The only good thing—if any part of this can be called “good”—is that it’s her right arm and she’s left-handed. The human female’s mother has administered healing hugs and is feeding her to “keep up her strength”. The human female, though, she’s going to pay. After all, it was her stupid ivy. Dangerous plants like that need warning signs or something. Just you wait, mortal. Revenge, served hot or cold, is one of my very favorite dishes, and I’ve been taking cooking lessons…

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Plus ça Change, Plus C’est la Même Chose, Part I: Inside

We are enjoying our stay with the human female’s mother. (Unlike her daughter, she’s a joy to be around.) The human female is wandering around, soggy with nostalgic sentiment, gazing at the home she grew up in. Sigyn, let’s tag along and “help” her play What is New and What is the Same as it Has Always Been.

The human female’s mother loves eagles. The big poster just inside the front door has been there for years.

The collection of eagle figurines still adorns a shelf in the dining room

Sigyn finds these little fellows to be quite friendly…

While the larger ones in the living room are a bit more intimidating.

Don’t you give my sweetie the stink-eye, you featherbrained fowl, or you will learn a different meaning to the word “bust.

The collection of decorative plates on the hallway wall is still there, though a teeny-tiny oil painting by the human female’s aunt has joined the ranks of round things.

Sigyn likes it because it’s “just my size.” If you like it, my love, I shall secret it away in my luggage when we depart.

The other walls in the house have lots of blue-and-white china plates. There is also a good assortment of tableware in the same color scheme—as well as a new, quaint-but-impractical pair of pointy shoes.

Sigyn, you should have had the flowery one.

The dining room table is also where one can usually find a puzzle book.

My sweetie is very good at simple substitution ciphers.

There is still a flock of photos on the table in the living room.

That one is of the human female on her wedding day. Her mother made that lacy dress, can you believe it?

The sewing machine music box is new.

Wind it up and the treadle and needle go up and down, while the wheel goes round and round. Clever.

The hoop-framed quilt blocks are still on the bedroom wall.

I think one of the human female’s grandmothers made them. The mania for cutting up perfectly good bits of fabric and sewing them back together seems to run in the family.

The printed-plush leopard rug is still on the door of the room we are staying in.

I understand that it is customary to manipulate the plush so as to give the feline “blind devil-kitty eyes”.

I am more than happy to comply.

Same old soup tureen on the hutch in the dining room, though time seems to have done for both of its handles.

The human female’s mother has been known to hide cash in here, so it is worth a closer look…

And finally, the bathroom, where the human female is seeing whether she can still find the “pictures” in the patterns on the tiles.

The raccoon is still above the sink.

Okay. Now I see him.

Supposedly there’s a horse in the shower.

You must admit, mortal, that’s a bit of a stretch.

But the fact that the human female has been seeing things that aren’t there since she was a gap-toothed brat in pigtails just goes to show that her mental instability is of long standing and has nothing to do with me, all rumors to the contrary notwithstanding…

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Making New Friends (Sigyn Speaks*)

I’m so excited!!! We are going on another walk around the neighborhood. There has been more rain than usual recently, and all the little desert wildflowers are blooming! Loki says they’re just “weeds”, but look!

This is caltrop. I really like this plant!

Ferny, fluffy leaves and sunny yellow flowers that draw loads of butterflies! What more could you want?

“I like that the fruits are spiny and stick in people’s shoes.”

This little Sida is yellow, too, and also has five petals, but the leaves are very different.

It and this globemallow belong to the cotton family. Isn’t that neat?

Nothing else is quite that color. The flowers can fade to purplish.

“I like plants with flowers that start out the color they mean to go on, like this nightshade. And it’s spiny. Bonus!”

I think there might be two kinds of bindweed here! One has white flowers

And one has pink.

That might just be natural variation, though. Either way, they’re good for dangling!

Loki thinks this dodder is a better vine.

“It’s parasitic, and therefore inherently cool.”

There are plenty of yellow composites out today. This paper flower is really striking! The petals turn pale and dry up–just like paper!

We’re not sure what this one is–but it’s fun to lounge around in!

Loki says he knows what this plant is:

“It’s a chili pequin. These little fruits are going to be hotter than Muspelheim. Let’s take some home and put them in the human female’s lunch…”

That’s not very nice! But we could look to see if any of these prickly pear fruit are ripe and take those. You can eat them fresh or make candy or jelly out of them, if you take the prickles off.

Oooh! What is this fun little plant?!

The flowers look like they are made out of crepe paper!

Hee hee hee! Our resident expert says it’s Heliotropium convolvulaceum. What a big name for such a dainty plant!

Oh, now here are some really pretty and unusual ones! They’re in the Nyctaginaceae or four o’clock family.

What looks like one flower is actually a cluster of several, and what look like petals are actually sepals!

Here’s another kind, with tiny flowers and grayish leaves:

We don’t have a key to the Chihuahuan desert plants with us on this trip, but they might be a sort of Allionia. Sometimes it’s fun not to know all the names and just appreciate the plants because they’re pretty!

Who knew the desert could be so bloomy!

: )

*With occasional interjections by your favorite diminutive Frost Giant

FINALLY, Some Different “Walkies”

Finally! The humans have been trying to break free of job, plague, condestruction, and various other entanglements for over a year, in order to go visit the female’s mother who lives in the faaaar western portion of the state. After a very, very long car trip, here we are in another time zone, in a different house, being fed a lot of good food and enjoying some different scenery.

The human female, in order to burn off some of the good food and revel in the different scenery–and the low humidity!–is taking a long walk in order to revisit the neighborhood where she grew up.

It is a very strange place. What is one to make of this inscription on the wall around the school?

Don’t look, Sigyn! There is a dead bovine in the middle of the thoroughfare!

The human female says those are just transitory aberrations and that some things never change. For example, one can still look between the houses and see the desert.

The Franklin Mountains haven’t changed.

They’re still there, at the end of every east-west street.

Ehehehe! Ow! I think I just sprained something laughing. I just asked the human female what their names are–and she doesn’t know. Umpteen years of living there, and she never learned which name goes with which peak. Oh, well. suppose it doesn’t matter. When I take over this planet, I’m naming everything after myself. Except the really pretty bits, which I will name after Sigyn.

Other things have changed. The human female went to elementary school here.

They have torn bits of it down and are rebuilding. Probably to get rid of her cooties.

The junior high school has been completely remodeled:

Likewise the high school, which is totally unrecognizable.

Apparently, as she got older, she left more and more contamination behind, and the only remedy was to tear down and start over.

This is the house where her family lived when she was born. Someone else lives there now.

I guess Baby Human Female didn’t have too many cooties, because it’s still standing and hasn’t changed much at all. It has a lawn, while many of the other houses have desert landscaping.

Except this one, which looks like some fantastic botanic garden run amok. There is not a square inch of unoccupied ground.

Sigyn is in love with it. Perhaps we can stop by again, my love.

(later)

It was interesting to see some different landscape plants for a change. We found some small trees busy dropping curious brown fruits all over the sidewalk.

(poke, poke, poke.) I don’t trust it.

The female says it is a jujube and we should taste it. I’m not going to try it, mortal. You want it tasted, YOU taste it.

“Tastes like a date”? I’ll just bet… If you’re still alive in eight hours or so, then we’ll talk.

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Well, Now We Know What “TS” *Really* Stands For.

For many years, the part of the University that handles parking permits, parking enforcement, and bus services was known as PTTSParking, Traffic, and Transportation Services. They changed that a while back, though, because students, faculty, and staff, universally pronounced this as “Pits”–as in, “Parking on campus is the pits.”

What was the new moniker? “Transportation Services“, or just “TS” for short. They spent Norns know how much on re-branding everything and splashing their new, swooshy “TS” logo on anything they could find. Their new slogan was rumored to be, “Combining and reducing bus routes to serve you better.” They were my favorite part of the University–after WorkDon’t and BAMN.

Still, though, parking usually worked. The humans had a transponder affixed to the windshield of their vehicle and, most days, they were able to get through the gates and park in their spot. Those who didn’t have a transponder could swipe their hang tag for admittance. If it wasn’t perfect, it at least made sense.

Well, just because the humans don’t go up on campus every day anymore doesn’t mean they never go on campus. There are old friends to visit and the library is still a good place to borrow books. They have a retiree permit, which lets them park for free* in the less desirable spaces in one of the garages.

I can’t, in good conscience, allow this convenience to continue! I shall have to confuse this process somewhat, and while I’m at it, I might as well bargle things up for ALL permit holders, right? At my urging, the PPTB (Parking Powers That Be) have decided that it is no longer cost effective to mail out hang tags to everyone each year. That’s right! No more hang tags! It’s all going to be done by phones and barcodes and checking license plates. Look–here it is in in an Official E-Mail:

It’s such an important change that I have made sure that the humans (who have no intention of going anywhere near the campus on a home football game weekend but who might approach the campus at some other point) have also received the information in an Official Mailing.

Along with the Physical Hangtag They Are Not Going to Receive.

Using your phone to park. Bar codes. Longer lines. Hangtags which both do and do not exist until you open the envelope and determine their state one way or the other.

So now we know. “TS” does not stand for “Transportation Services”, “That’s Stupid”, or even “This Stinks.”

“TS” is short for “Thanks, Schrodinger.”

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*For certain values of “free.” There’s a small annual fee.

It All Adds Up…

Some people think that I am very grudging and stingy. Nothing could be further from the truth! I learned long ago that there can be just as much mischief created by giving someone something as there is by taking something away. And sometimes it’s a combination of both that will do the job.

It’s no secret that it has been an expen$ive $ummer for the humans–AC woe$, not one but two in$urance deductible$ (one for the roof and one for the ceiling that fell in), $ervice on the male’$ car, broken window and $ervice on the female’$ car, a pair of expen$ively noi$y running toilet$, a trip to the denti$t each, and a $tring of doctor’$ appointment$. (To $ay nothing of the $tamp$.)

The human female, at this point, needs another bill like she needs another hole in her head.

Which is why I had one show up today. And it is everyone’s favorite kind of bill–one from the Health Care System. Their initials are BSW. Let’s just say that stands for Baffling, Slow, and—What?

Baffling, because the human female is pretty sure she doesn’t owe anything. The doctor’s office won’t even let one check in unless one pays the copay, and she always does. The service date on the bill indicates a simple office consult that should have been just the copay and nothing else. So why does the bill say she owes $9.67? That’s not even a round amount!

Hmm. The statement says she paid $10.33 (another not-round) amount for that simple office visit, when she knows she paid the $20.00 copay. Now she’s looking up her record online. (As if that’s going to help!) There’s one indication in one spot that she might owe $5.00. How does that figure in? Medical bills in this part of Midgard are just full of fictitious numbers that don’t add up. There’s the amount, the “adjusted amount,” the amount that insurance will cover, the copay, and then sometimes something left over… Or not. No, there’s nothing online that will solve this, and I’m pretty sure that EOB stands for Exceedingly Obfuscated Bulls@t…

Ehehehe! Light is beginning to dawn. Remember the Ugly Tax the human female had to pay the optometrist for measuring the distance between her beady little eyes? That was $9.67, wasn’t it? Perhaps that’s it. Perhaps the payment for that has not been credited to her account.

Fenrir’s Fleacollar! She’s getting serious! She has gone to the insurance carrier’s website (after trying her login, failing, and having to look it up) and started a chat with someone who may or may not be an actual person and not a ‘bot. The human female has asked “Amanda” whether the check for the $9.67 was credited to her account. Because, you see, if she paid $20.00 and the “system” still thought she owed $9.67, the difference would be the $10.33 the statement says she paid on her last visit. Never mind the $5.00, it would at least mean that she could just point out the check for $9.67 that was sent in.

Slow. Unfortunately, “Amanda” doesn’t have access to the financial information associated with the account, though she agrees that it is likely that the scenario described above is the case. The human female is asking whether, if she just sits tight for a while, things will catch up with each other and she’ll owe nothing? “Amanda” says no, she’d better pay it, or it could get turned over to a collection agency. She says that the human female is just going to have to call the medical service directly and ask someone there what is going on.

So now she’s calling the health service, and she’s on hold… Aha! A human! This human–we’ll call him “Keith”– after taking all of her identification information, including the very embarrassing street name that makes the human female cringe whenever she has to give it to anyone–has managed to pull up the record. And yes, he does note that there was a check payment of $9.67 back in July, but sometimes it takes a while for copays and other payments to register, so maybe that’s involved?

The human female, now assured that she does not owe anything at the moment, is ready to say thank you and call it a day, but “Keith” and I are not done. Oh, no, we are not!

What? “Keith” is now saying that not only does she not owe $9.67, she has a CREDIT on her account of $25.00, and if he applies that to the current bill, the human female now has a credit of $15.33.

Ta da! Migraine time!

$25.00? Really? That is one specialist copay and one regular one–are those from visits even further back? Maybe that early August one isn’t even on the radar yet? What does she really owe, if anything? Is she even? Ahead? About to be slammed with a bunch of other charges?

I’m not telling, because where’s the fun in that!

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