Category Archives: Slice of Life 19

#SOL19: Writing Matters


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Writing:

A connectedness

A relationship

An opportunity

A process

A product

Two sides of a coin.

Can be used to learn or

Can be used to demonstrate learning.

Is thinking out loud

Typically on paper.

Thoughts

Sometimes painfully etched

Sometimes spewing out voluminously

Faster than any ability to capture.

Can be long

Or short,

Traditional

Or creative,

Personal

Or public,

With form

Matching the purpose,

Reveling in the need

To create,

To rise like a phoenix,

To leave shadows,

Whispers in the wind,

Songs in the air.

Writing . . .

a compulsion

a living/breathing requirement

a necessary component of life

What purposes do writing serve?

Consider these:

  • The Magna Carta
  • The Articles of Confederation
  • The Declaration of Independence
  • The Constitution
  • The Bill of Rights

What do they stand for? 

Why were they written? 

Why do they matter?

A survey of Americans resulted in a list of these Top 10 Milestones in US history.  Do you agree?

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Writing Matters.

In.So.Many.Ways

I am missing the #TCRWP Writing Institute. It’s hard to not have #TCRWPEnvy so I revisited some notes from last year’s Writing Institute to consider for my own writing this summer.

In last year’s keynote, Lucy Calkins addressed levels of writing workshop.  Link 

Where are you?

“Level 1:  Start and Stop.  Do a few days of minilessons.  Do a few worksheets to ‘master the skill’, and then back to some stale writing. No investment. It feels like pulling teeth.”

“Level 2:  The Good Student Writing Workshop filled with compliance. Open any notebook and you will find that students are doing the work. Safe work. They respond to all school assignments, but they never take any risks and share themselves.”

“Level 3: Passion and intensity flow through the notebook, drafts and published writing. There are notebook entries that do not come from a response to day to day instruction.  Students want to write. It’s an ALL IN Writing Workshop.”

What level was your 2018-19 workshop? 

What is your goal for 2019-20 workshop? 

Where will you begin?

(And don’t forget to follow #TCRWP this week for highlights from 1200+ Writing Institute participants!)

(#cyberPD – Welcome to Writing Workshop by Stacey Shubitz and Lynne Dorfman)

Celebrate that your journey has begun and focus on Learning!




Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Kelsey, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum from Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers and readers here.

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#SOL19: What Counts?


What do I read?

Mail, Blogs, Tweets, Chapters . . . and Books

I have always envied those who kept a list and reported out like Regie Routman here, here and here. Currently many are reporting out #BookADay now on Twitter or Facebook. For more information about #BookADay created by Jillian Heise in 2014 go here.

So during the winter break I decided one goal of mine was going to be to “celebrate” my reading in 2019.  And of course that would mean that I had to keep track of it somehow. So being ever mindful of this quote, I’m tracking my reading. (Note the key word: I)

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William Bruce Cameron

 

We aren’t quite to the midpoint of the year, but here is what my reading life looks like through most of May  . . .

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Search for a “balance” with NF labels a la Melissa Stewart

I’ve written about reading goals before here, but I found that round chart didn’t have enough spaces for my book count.  Holding on to one single list has not been helpful. I create stacks of the “done” books and record them every two, or three or four weeks. Based on my records thus far for 2019, I believe that I can confirm that I am a voracious reader.  But are there other ways to display the data as I think of students who want to make sense of their own reading lives.

So again this week, I saw a tweet that caught my eye about reading circle graphs and I replied. And then the learning began when Steve Peterson (@Steve1Peterson) replied with the fact that Excel and Google Sheets could make radar graphs.

And the same data above looks like this.  Fiction = 72, Nonfiction  = 52, Professional  = 50.

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This graph is quite interesting.  Having all professional books in one category quickly made it into an outlier in this format.  Five of the 10 remaining categories were in the 20-ish category with four in the single digits and only one category reporting a zero. (Radar chart)

No external pressure other than the public announcement.

No public accountability required.

No summative assessment.

Just recording a snippet from my life . . .

I am Wondering . . .

Is my reading varied enough?  

Varied enough? The good news is that I still have time to have a mid-course correction.  I will purposefully pick up some titles for those four single digit categories.  (And I am already plotting to combine some so that I will have fewer gaps – Yes, manipulating the categories.)

What does not show in this data?

What does concern me is that the data does not show my growth.  This year I have made a conscious effort to read more graphic novels, cartoons, and even narrative prose. Those books are represented in the totals for F and narrative NF but not as separate categories because they are not separate genres.   

What else?

The data also doesn’t share my frustration that tracking my books read over a year is cumbersome.  It’s easy to make a “pile” when reading at home.  But when I’m not there where and when do I record the data?  Do I really only have one list?  NOPE!  I have some post-its with some scribbles, some lists in my Kindle app, and who knows what else!

The lesson here was to give myself grace. My list does NOT have to be perfect.  The data is for me. It’s not a “controlled study” so error is fine.

So my final advice to myself . . .

Take a breath.

Take another breath.

LET IT GO!

NEXT!

Where, why, and when might giving yourself “grace” free up positive energy? 

When could you TRY something without trying it “forever”( so you have room to modify to match the needs)? 

When will you commit to JUST being the best that you can




Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Kelsey, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum from Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers and readers here.

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#SOL19: A Performance


The music and slideshow ended with a flourish, the curtain slowly rose, the house lights dimmed, and the director appeared. Show time.

The anticipation was over.

The audience quiets as we are welcomed and encouraged to share our appreciation with applause, whistling, and noise of our choice. Encouraged. Perhaps even challenged by her, “Let the performers know what you like!”

And so it began. 64 acts. Music that I sometimes sang the words to. Music that I cried to. And music that I’m still not sure of the words. Music, motion, and costuming designed for specific effects.  An orchestration of performances, directors, stage hands and groups of children on a Sunday afternoon.

Where?

A dance recital. The second performance in as many days.  Short glimpses of student work spaced out over 2 hours and 40 minutes for 320 minutes of performance. I wondered how they kept the attention of the adorable little “lions” in between their dances.

I applauded for the students when they were older and completely in sync; yet I also applauded for the children who were so excited to dance that they “did their own thing.”  I chuckled at the friend who guided another into the right spot. I commiserated with the child who just stood there the entire first routine but managed to “dance” during her next appearance. I heard one counting “five, six, seven, eight” for her group as the music ended abruptly.  Appearances mattered. Matching outfits, accessorized with bows and jewelry.  Variations quickly stood out. Those who “lip synced”. Those who were a step too fast. Those who were a step too slow. A slip. A fall. A gap in the staging. And yet, it was POETRY in colorful motion.

A splashy intro with a large group.  Varying sizes of groups. Partners. Solos.

Hmmhmm. You know where I am going with this.  What did it resemble?

An environment . . . an auditorium – not where they practiced.

A spotlight and dimmed auditorium . . . stage fright anyone?

Special outfits . . . not what they wore for practice.

And I have it on good authority (great niece) that some outfits “itched.”

Performing alone . . . an off-stage assist, but no one on stage except the performers side by side.

Immediate feedback . . . applause and yelling (and some that was not heard over the music).

At least 3 separate distinct measures . . . distributed over time (total of 6 over the two days)

No one single “gotcha” moment for anyone on stage!

Progress? What to measure?  How to measure?

Could be measured from the FIRST time they attended dance class (summative), or from the first dance class this year (summative), or from the first performance to the 6th, 10th, 12th, etc. Video performances are easy to review in order to notice and name a few specific behaviors.

Symmetry from the audience view? There were times when the line straight down the center of the stage was perfectly in sync. Beautiful moments.

What is most important?

Skills?

Habits?

Collective effort?

Same measure for all?

Cut points? Averages?  Growth? A portfolio of video examples?

NOT high stakes . . .

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What qualities of instruction readied them for this performance?

What qualities of assessment could perhaps better serve education?

When do we “applaud” all students for their learning? 

When does the pleasure and enjoyment of the participants matter?




Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Kelsey, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum from Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers and readers here.

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#SOL19: Who’s Doing the Work?


Who’s Doing the Work?

Seven little bodies.

Three coaches.

Wouldn’t that be a lovely classroom ratio?

Met at the beginning

With a high five

a personal greeting

by name

and definite eye contact.

Personal Greeting.

For 45 minutes

A delightful mix:

Whole group

and individual work.

Teams

and individual work.

Familiar groupings?

Skill work:

“Knock the cones over with your ball.”

And they did.

Formative assessment & feedback from the coaches.

“Return to base.”

“Reset the cones.”

“Return to base.”

And again.

Knock the cones over with your ball.”

“Feet.”

And they did.

Formative assessment & feedback from the coaches.

Repetition:

“Return to base.”

“Reset the cones.”

“Return to base.”

“Once more.” 

Transition warning.  Activity will be ending.

Knock the cones over with your ball.”

And they did.

Formative assessment & feedback from the coaches.

Scrimmage time:

Two teams

Attempting to score

Two teams

Alternating possession

In patterns of threes.

With a transition warning before the final time.

Little athletes helping set up the environment

Always moving,

Always with a purpose for actions,

Four year olds learning soccer with drills and scrimmages

And perpetual action, feedback and coaching!

As a grandmother sitting in the stands, I was mesmerized.  These coaches had children athletes of varying knowledge, skills, and developmental levels, practicing and working together.

Was it perfect?  No.

Were they learning?  Yes.

How could I tell?  Each repetition improved. Each round of applause fueled their excitement.

Athletes doing the work.

Coaches could have reset the cones, but they didn’t because it was one more opportunity for the athletes to move. One more opportunity for the athletes to “do the work.”  No scaffolding required. Just part of the expectations.

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Why does this matter? 

What work are your students “doing for themselves”? 

What work can they do independently? 

What work should they be doing independently?

What work has “transferred” because you have taught the work to independent levels? 

Check out your “suppositions” as you reflect on this year’s learning and plan for “Who’s Doing the Work” next year!




Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Kelsey, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum from Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers and readers here.

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#SOL19: Celebrate!


“Almost 90 cards. So close. Can we count the card sitting at your sister’s?” (The goal was 90.)

Of course, I agree.  Doesn’t every family have one member that keeps time in a different fashion?  Later arrivals?  Later mailing dates?

I’ve written about my family before.  One of my favorite posts is this one with a few of our Christmas traditions.

A family that celebrates:

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Our family

Descendants of Grandma Ruth

But as time has marched on, change has been happening.  We communicate by family Facebook, my immediate family and the Ruth family.  We hold tight to our Christmas celebration as we lose elders and gain littles.  And we have added “Cousins” meeting monthly.

Yesterday was special as the Ruth cousins celebrated Aunt Janie’s birthday.  Of course the 5 sibs were the first ones there . . .

BEFORE the scheduled time!

They may be the elders but EARLY is how they roll.

I don’t have a picture of the cake or the honoree.  But use your imagination!

A cousin’s breakfast at 7 in the morning complete with birthday cake.

Currently the eldest of the “Baby Ruths”;

With 5 siblings – two brothers, their wives, and a sister;

With all 5 children celebrating again with cousins;

(With the possibility of 50 first cousins . . . )

The second oldest cousin up from Danville;

Five Droll cousins;

A Jenn cousin;

A cousin from Frances and Emily’s family;

My sister and I . . .

And even a cousin of the honoree!

Eight families represented . . .

Twenty three was the count .  .  .

Celebrating a 90th birthday . . .

Celebrating the joy of a Mom, Sister, Aunt, Godmother, Cousin . . .

Stories, past and present;

Conversations;

Perusing pictures;

Connecting times and places.

So many reasons to celebrate family, fun, and food!

What family birthdays do you celebrate? 

What makes family time extra special? 

What are your favorite stories?




Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Kelsey, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum from Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers and readers here.

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#SOL19: 100% Guarantee


“How was your stay?”

“Do you need anything for your travel? Water?”

Those are questions that I hear often at a hotel chain with 100% guarantee. And not just at check out. Reminders of the daily events.  Check ins. A call from the front desk to see if I have everything I need. A call initiated by the hotel. Daily conversations.  Helpful staff. Friendly staff. And always, there is a survey to rate the services used – products and processes.

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What is the daily guarantee at schools? 

1.  A kind, warm welcome by name 

Being met with a “We’re glad to have you here at school” attitude sets the stage for a day of possibilities. Welcomed. Every. Day. In spite of or despite the events between the last visit, a warm, gracious welcome is extended to every student every day. This is especially important when many schools now have more formalized processes for school entry with buzzers and cameras as the daily norm.

2. Formative Assessments

Check ins. In the moment. “How did that go? Thumbs up? Across?  Down?” Instruction that changes based on the information received from the learners. An expectation that learning is not a “one and done event” but involves processes and practices with time to improve and learn. A collection of unobtrusive assessments and observations.

3. Two way communication

A variety of forms for feedback – nonverbal, oral, and verbal. Questions and concerns are addressed. The process for dealing with questions and/or concerns is shared and consistent. Agreement is not the goal. Building understanding. Deepening commitment to common goals. Listening to diverse opinions. Listening to understand. Not just rules and “thou shall nots” handed down as edicts. Everyone is asked for input.  Everyone is included. Input from all!

Expected?

Nothing new? 

But are those expectations for all levels of interactions? 

Students? 

Teachers and staff? 

Families? 

Community?

How are all voices heard?

How are all voices valued?

How do you know?  




Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Kelsey, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum from Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.

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#SOL19: Milestones


What milestones do you recognize?

There are many throughout a year:  birthdays, anniversaries, and remembrances.

What about summative milestones?  Which ones are important?

So a bit of Jeopardy here.

Answer under “Milestone” for $100:  All 5 remaining children of Bob and Mary. (my parents)

Answer under “Milestone” for $200:  9 grandchildren of Bob and Mary

Answer under “Milestone” for $300:   1 great grandchild of Bob and Mary

Answer under “Milestone” for $400: Katarina Britane Rose last night

Answer under “Milestone” for $500:  3 “kids” with 4 degrees in two generations

Commercial Break:  Do you know what the theme is?  Even if you are not a family member, can you make a guess about what this milestone is?

And the Bonus Round:   Link


It’s a common topic and as you can see above, there’s a high frequency in my family.

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This post last year has links to six other posts with some topical story.


Did you get every question right?  Let’s check . . .

$100: How many living children are college graduates?  (5/5 or All – some multiple, multiple times and would probably involve higher math or algebra)!

$200:  How many grandchildren are college graduates?

$300:  How many great grandchildren are college graduates? (Keeping in mind that these 15 kids range from 22 to 3 months!)

$400: Who was the most recent graduate and when?

$500:  How many doctors in the family?  (3 have 4 doctorates.  PhD, PhD and M.D., and PhD)

Bonus Round:  What is “Pomp and Circumstance”?

Would it surprise you to know that this is one of my most favorite songs?

I wrote about it 5 years ago as a system of “reading” unlike words but filled with symbols and cymbals, figuratively and metaphorically. Link

What do I value?  Education!   

And what a celebration!  But that also means on the road!


What summative milestones do you celebrate? 

What traditions surround those celebrations?




Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Kelsey, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum from Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.

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The well-deserved graduation bling:

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#SOL19: In Retrospect


I was ecstatic.

When reporting on my ancestry, I said I was from Czechoslovakia.  Sometimes I spelled it – showing off just a bit because it was a six syllable word.  But most of the time, I just wanted to beat classmates to it and tell my version first. I was in third grade.

My heritage. Mom’s side and Dad’s side. Bohemian. Czech. Others. But probably 75% Czech.

My goal:  To be proactive.  I don’t remember if anyone in my third grade world knew where Bohemia was and ever mentioned it to me.  But my goal was to end it before it began.

“My family is from Czechoslovakia.”

 

Why did it matter?

The joke of the day then was always about “Bohemians.” It was the 60’s. More recent iterations have been “dumb blonde jokes,” “midgets” or ethnic variations.”  (We were short on entertainment as tv watching was rationed and phones still had party lines.)

Jokes.

Just jokes.

A common one was: “How many Bohemians does it take to screw in a light bulb?”

Iterations readily found online include:

How many Bohemians does it take to change a light-bulb? Five. One who does it and four who would chat about that the old one was much better.

How many deputies of Kénikrát (Bohemian parliament) does it take to change a light-bulb? Absolute majority. The opposition thus could not propose a bill to screw it in the other direction.

How many Bohemian cops does it take to change a light-bulb? Eleven. One stays on a table, four move around the table, next four move in an opposite direction to prevent nausea of the first four, one checks the service box, if the current is on, and commands it all.

How many Bohemian clerks does it take to change a light-bulb? Five. One writes an application form to screw off the old bulb, the second stamps it, the third writes an application form to screw a new one in, the fourth stamps this and the fifth, after few hours of argumentation if there are correct stamps, would exchange it. (Retrieved from IllBethisad wiki – link)

How bad was it?

So many terms come in varying shades. How do we navigate in these times without getting carried away? These definitions from Intermountain Health Care seem to make sense to me.  

rude – inadvertently saying or doing something hurtful

mean – purposefully saying or doing something that hurts someone once or twice

bullying – intentionally aggressive over time and often involving an imbalance of power

So the intentionality matters.  Multiple events over time matters. The perceptions of the “wronged individual” matter.  It’s possible that rudeness could develop into meanness over time and as specific behaviors became habituated.  Yet I don’t know if one could become a bully without being aware of the hurt they were causing.

Was it rude?  mean?  a case of bullying? 

With the passage of time, it’s hard to say. 

I still have that gnawing, churning feeling in my stomach when I hear jokes that demean any group of people… even by profession!

What I do know is that we must be more aware.

It’s not okay to let incidents pass by. It may be the first instance that I’ve heard that comment, but what if it has been long standing behavior by the speaker? 

How do you differentiate between “rude, mean, and bullying”?




Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Kelsey, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum from Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.

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#SOL19: Family Traditions


“I just picked up two dozen, ” Mom said. “If you need some before tomorrow you will have to stop by.”

I relayed the message on to my sister Sherry.

But  . . .

Two dozen?

JUST two dozen?

There would be twelve of us. How many would we need?

It would be inappropriate to run out of such a signatory heritage dish at a family holiday dinner.

We drove to Cedar Rapids to the  bakery and picked up another dozen and a half. After all, it was 24 hours until our dinner.  We would be hungry before then and holidaying at the hotel rules out our own baking.

We MIGHT have ordered some extra that we consumed during our travel as well . . . but that story will stay in the Ford Expedition!

All in all we celebrated with blueberry, cherry, rhubarb, cream cheese, and pineapple . . .

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KOLACHES!

What traditional family dish have you eaten recently?

(And yes, astute readers . . . I just wrote about them last month here!)




Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Kelsey, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum from Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.

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#SOL19: What do you rate?


The plate looks gorgeous. Colorful. Artistically arranged. White space. Yet organized. How well did it match my expectations when I placed my order?

Do I dive in?

Confirming and correcting my prediction?

Do I admire?

Savoring the physical attributes before it is consumed?

Do I snap a quick picture and send it off?

I take a picture but don’t send it anywhere.

Dinner

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Prime rib, baked potato &                corn on the cob

 

I have a friend who often uses snapchat or messaging to share her dining cuisine. It’s not a typical go to for me. But sometimes, I think, “Wow. I should take a picture of that.” It’s not that I am thinking of an award for cooking but awards have been on my mind.

Do I fill out surveys about food and service at restaurants?  Sometimes.  How consistent are my ratings from each time to time? And is the criteria the same?  That goes to reliability and validity.  How critical are these ratings?  Are they contextual?

How does this apply to life?

Awards:  Who is included?  Who is excluded?

Who gets nominated for the CMA Entertainer of the Year?  There were 5 male candidates? Why only men?

Part of the criteria is crowd size in large venues, meaning tours, so if women are not out on the road for long tours . . .  criteria is not met.

Wow!  Criteria for audience rating the winner is . . . audiences putting their bottoms in seats at concerts. So different from having a captive audience where the buses deliver students to school.

What about books?

Books:  How do you rate them?

Informal rating? Formal rating?

In your head?  On Goodreads?  On Amazon with formal reviews?

How do you share your response to books?

Book Rating:  What works for you? A? B? C? 

A.

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B.

   MUST READ!

   REALLY, YOU MUST READ!

   DESPERATE, YOU MUST READ!!!

C.

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My Goodreads account consists of mostly books rated 5 with a few 4’s sprinkled in.  Does that mean that all books I read are automatically that good?  I’m sure that you will be disappointed but books that would be below a “4” or “5” star rating on Goodreads, just don’t get entered. Selective memory?  Or was it once a conscious choice to only include the top books.  But you wouldn’t know that unless you knew my methodology for reporting. A bit erratic!  A bit unplanned. My concession to compliance and using someone else’s rating system.

Daily life decisions: Using skills and strategies steeped in literacy. Determining importance. Predicting. Confirming predictions. Re-predicting. Aligning expectations with the “real” thing. Comparing and contrasting. Developing criteria. Communicating.

How do your students rate their books? 

How do your students share their response to books?

What do they prefer?




Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Kelsey, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum from Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.

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Added:

And yes, the vegetarians in my family would rate the meal pictured above as a -10. The devout pork producers might rate it a 0. The poultry eaters might rate it a -5.  And then you all who hate any medium rare meat might not have gotten past the “shudders”!

It all depends on perspective . . .

and your own definition of a quality meal!

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