Faith We Follow

“There was a crash.  The knife came down, barely missed my eye. Blood everywhere…”

I can almost hear Mum’s voice.  Wish I’d paid more attention to details.

Her tales often commenced with all six of us.  img_8482

Pearl, Ruby, Peter, Dan, Beatrice, Elizabeth …  

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“All six of us” (1976).  Seated (left to right): Beatrice, Pearl, Ruby, Elizabeth.  Standing (extreme left): Peter, (extreme right): Dan, the brothers-in-law behind their wives -(Left to right: Prins, Sub, Prince, Selva)

Mum:  So all six of us climbed into Babby’s cot with the cake Alice baked.  We found it on the kitchen table.  Just as Petes lifted the bread knife and said, ‘Let’s have a piece’, the cot collapsed.  The knife came down on my forehead.  It narrowly missed my eye.”

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Alice, the family retainer who helped cook and keep house, the hapless victim of boyish pranks.

Peter and Dan – Petes and Danma to us nieces and nephews – youthful villains.

Baby Elizabeth was Baba.  Babby to the next generation.

Me: (doing mental calculation) But Mum, if Babby was say … five, and you … eight, the others would have ranged in age from eighteen and under.  How could all six of you have squeezed into a baby’s bed – with a cake and knife?

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Gifted teller of jokes and stories,  writer, mimic par excellence.  Mum loved to laugh.    

 Mum’s a storyteller, not a mathematician.  It’s how she remembers …

Mum:  On Sunday evenings we had family prayers.  On our knees.  They went on forever.

Her eyes are brimming with memories …

Mum:  We quietly slipped away into the kitchen to have a feast.

Me:  All six of you …

Mum: Poor Alice.  No one listened to her protests.  The patties were for the visitors.  She made lovely patties.  We ate everything we could find and crept back to the living room, knelt down and folded our hands.

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They did!

Me: And No one noticed?

Mum:  No.  And E.T.S Aunty was so impressed by our piety,   we all got  toffees.  She said we were good children!

E.T.S Granny (always known by her initials), Grandpa’s widowed sister, frequent visitor, devout, determined lady, given to eloquent, lengthy prayers.     

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Lo-o-ong prayers

Mum:  One Sunday evening, Geo Uncle came to visit.

Me: At prayer time?

She’s chuckling …

Mum:  Petes used a coat hanger to start Uncle’s car.  We all climbed in.

Me:  All six of you …

Mum:  He drove to Geo Uncle and Malar Aunty’s house.  We ate all the goodies Malar Aunty fed us and drove back home again.

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George  (Geo Uncle, poet, man of letters) and Malar Perinpanayagam on holiday in hill country with Beatrice (Mum)  She spent a lot of time with them in their early married life.

Me:  And their eyes were closed, they were still praying?

I’m laughing with her …

 Mum:  He never knew!

Me:  And Malar Aunty?

Mum:  I don’t think she ever told him.

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Lest we forget!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Shadrach Samuel Esquire, aspiring businessman aged 32, won the hand of Miss. Mercy Newton of Chundikuli, Jaffna.  As legend has it, the friends of the sixteen-year-old bride called out over the fence as she walked past the schoolyard of the local girls’ school, on her way to church to be married.         

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Miss Mercy Newton, second daughter of Charles and Rose Newton of Chundikuli, Jaffna

Shadrach and Mercy set up home in Colombo, sleepy metropolis of colonial Ceylon.  

He founded the iconic engineering firm, Samuel Sons.  

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Samuel Sons, founded 1922.  70th anniversary commemorative mug.  Uncle Peter, an artist, designed the logo.

                                 

 

 

 

The union produced six children.

  A seventh, Mum remembers as Bertie, succumbs to an untimely demise as an infant …                                                       

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Shadrach & Mercy Samuel and offspring.  Left to right:  Ruby, Pearl (seated), Dan (seated) and Peter.  Baby Beatrice held by Dad.  (Elizabeth was born a year or two later)

Grandma Mercy died in her sleep at age 33.  Cause of death unknown.

Mum recalls asthma and a family history of heart disease  …

Rajes Aunty, seventeen-year-old bride, moved in with new husband, Thurai Perinpanayagam (Grandma Mercy’s cousin) to help take care of a brood of children, some of them almost her age. 

To this day, Rajes Aunty occupies a special place in all our hearts.

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Looking good!  Aunty Rajes Perinpanayagam celebrates 90 years (2015)  Husband and I made a detour on a summer road trip, to attend the surprise party at her son’s home in Connecticut

The siblings grew closer to one another.                         img_20150805_222918

All six of us …  

Grandpa Shadrack never recovered from his loss.  Well meaning aunties and clucking grannies suggested umpteen prospective brides to grace his hearth and mother the children.

Mum:  He always said, “There was only one woman for me.  God who took her away from me will take care of my children.”

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Grandpa’s was. (Photo of picture hanging in friend Evelyn’s home.  Painted by her niece.)

Me:  Do you remember her, Mum?

Mum:  Of course!  She was slim and pretty, darling, gentle, soft-spoken, a lady through and though. Always simply and tastefully attired. She was an artist, she painted beautifully.  I remember whenever she baked a cake, she let me stir the batter and lick the spoon.  I got a new dress every year, for my birthday.  She cut it out herself and made me turn the wheel of the sewing machine for her.  She used to call me Pambaram.

Me:  Pambaram?

Mum:  Because I was a tomboy.  I could never sit still.  It means spinning top in Tamil.  She played the piano.  On Sundays, all six of us would stand ‘round and sing hymns.

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Tomboy Beatrice.  How she was allowed to pose for a formal picture dressed like this is a mystery.

Me:  It must have been awful after she died.

Mum:   We had Daddy.  We loved him. He was strict, of course, but such a kind, generous man. He helped everyone.  Babby and I secretly called him Dixie Daddy from a song on the radio hit parade.  We giggled every time we said it.

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Dixie Daddy!
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Super Daddy Samuel …

 

 

 

Me:  Did you miss having a mother, Mum?

Mum:  Of course, darling.  On the day she died, I  asked God why he took my mummy away.  I was six.  Babby was only three.  I made up my mind to eat all my vegetables and grow strong, so I would be fit and well and never die and leave my children all alone.  But we had each other, it was a happy home.

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All six of us …

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Picture of Dixie Daddy on Mum’s autograph album
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1954.  Grandpa’s signature in Mum’s album:  S.C. Samuel.  He wrote:  “Let kind thoughts, words, wishes and deeds and the spirits thereof be ours and of those around us.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Church was an important part of family life.

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St. Paul’s Milagiriya, Colombo, where the Samuel family worshiped and most of the children and grandchildren (myself included) were married.  (Mum and Dad in bridal car, Beatrice’s wedding, 1961)
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Dad at St. Paul’s after morning service on his 80th birthday (2016)

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And faith.

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Malar Aunty wrote in Mum’s album in 1955: “Behind life’s darkest clouds, God’s love is always shining …”

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As cousins, we have childhood memories of our mothers and aunts talking for ages on the phone.  Cousin Dileeni and I often recreated these conversations – to loud applause and gales of laughter – at family-gathering kid-concerts, 

“How are you, dear?” ” Did Alice come today?”  “Can you believe the price of sugar these days?”

They couldn’t do without each other.            

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Sisters:  (Standing left to right) Pearl, Ruby, Elizabeth.  (Seated)  Beatrice

Time marched on. 

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Pearl and Sub (Dr & Mrs J.T. Subramaniam)
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Ruby and Prince (Dr & Mrs R.P. Rajakone)

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pearl and Ruby married their doctors.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peter and Dan sailed off to the United Kingdom to pursue engineering degrees.

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Dashing sportsman, artist, dreamer.  Uncle Peter (left) engineering student in  England. (1950s)
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A brilliant mind.  Uncle Dan (front left),  also engineering student, England (1950s)

   

             

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Uncle Dan never married.  There were whispers of a mysterious Swedish lady who  broke his heart.

         

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mum kept house for Grandpa and played doting aunty to a growing circle of adoring nieces and  nephews.

They called her Bety …

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The tribe of Samuel grandchildren at Mum and Dad’s engagement party.  Waiting to be born: Sister and Me, and Shiro (Babby’s daughter)

Tragedy struck again.  Grandpa Shadrach died unexpectedly, after routine surgery.  He was only 63.  Mum was 19 years old, Babby just 16.        

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Newspaper clipping.  Obituary notice.

Shadrach and Mercy united in death, buried side by side ….

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Together forever, Shadrach and Mercy (Anglican Section, Kanatte Cemetry, Colombo)

Mum and Babby clung to each other –

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Beatrice and Elizabeth outside Westholme, Kinross Avenue, the sprawling family home by the sea
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Babby wrote in Mum’s autograph album:  “There’s no friend like a sister, in calm or stormy weather …” (Signed: Beth)
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Babby, an artist like her mother, probably painted this page for Mum
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Mum’s signature on her autograph album.  Her maiden name.
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Dr Elizabeth Samuel.  Congratulations!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peter took over the headship of the firm.

Elizabeth attended medical school. 

Mum ran the family home for Uncle Peter, wrote wonderfully imaginative short stories that were published in the newspapers, taught Sunday School and created exquisite cakes for nieces and nephews, an abundance of relatives and friends. 

The artistic, thespian, writing/storytelling genes run strong in this family line …

 

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Grandpa was a man of faith, a praying man.

His example rubbed off.  Mum was a staunch believer in the power of prayer. 

I remember Sunday evenings with Mum at the old piano of her girlhood (now situated in her own home), singing the same beloved hymns she sang as a child.

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Mum taught Sister and Me this hymn

I remember us as little girls – Sister and I – kneeling by our beds as Mum taught us to pray.  I remember Mum reading from a book of devotionals, holding hands with Dad, Sister and Me (in our tiny school uniforms) and sending us off for the day with a prayer.

Sister and I often made fun, called her Saint Beatrice.

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Mum learned from Grandpa Shadrach. 

They prayed, things happened …

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Hanging in our home

               

   

   I learned from Mum.  

   Much older now, I’m an ardent              believer in  the mountain-moving        power of prayer.

     Faith we follow …

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Worked for Grandpa.  Worked for Mum.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Just dialed long distance to talk to Babby – godmother, second mum — in Bethesda, Maryland. 

The pain of missing Mum is less when she and I talk …

Babby is the only one left.  She feels it badly.

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Elizabeth (left) and Beatrice (Babby and Bety).  Mum adored her baby sister.  Babby and Mum were close, right to the end of Mum’s life.

 

Asked about the size of the cot.  Says she slept in it till she was around eight years old. 

All six of us?  

It must have been a humongous piece of baby furniture!

 

 

Called Rajes Aunty some months back, posed questions about the family tree.  She snail-mailed  handwritten details from New York – 

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Appetizer.  Found the Newton/Perinpanayagam connection.  Thank you, Rajes Aunty!

Excited, more curious than ever!

Saw a picture of an ancestor on Facebook recently.

The Perinpanayagam connection, circa 1834  …

 Fascinated.  Impelled to dig deeper into the family tree. 

Mum’s second cousin, Thavo (Geo Uncle’s nephew), e-mailed more puzzle pieces from New Zealand –

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A snippet from a fairly lengthy document put together by Uncle Geo’s brother, Stephen Edgar R. Perinpanayagam.  

Cousin Thavo remembers the Noddy cake Mum made:  ” For my sixth birthday in 1959.  It had Noddy’s car and house and even had 2 milk bottles outside the house” …

Discovered that Grandpa Shadrach and Grandma Mercy were distant relatives.

An exhilarating peep into the past.

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It was misty this morning in Toronto. 

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View from front door

Much brighter/warmer in the land of our birth.

Alas for ugly politics, economics:  the clans are scattered worldwide.

Appetite whetted.  Must know more.

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So which came first, the chicken or the egg?
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The pictures fascinate me

 

 

 

 

 

 

These roots go deep.

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Stay  tuned.  More stories to come as more dots are joined.

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Until then,

sincerely

PS:  If you happen to be a branch/ twig/clipping of the Samuel/ Newton/ Perinpanayagam family trees and have old pictures/information, I’d love to hear from you. 

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… grandchildren AND great grand children!

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And I’d be delighted to share what I’ve gathered, with you.  

Thank you!

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All pictures in this post are clicks on Ipad and phone.

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Aloha Sweet Things!

Meet  Sharyn Stone, my friend.  She and husband, Jeff, live the enviably idyllic barefoot life at Huelo Point Lookout Bed And Breakfast (www.maui-vacationrentals.com), in Maui. 

The English Duke/Earl of Somewhere-Or-Other had just honeymooned at Huelo Point with his fourth (fifth?) bride when Husband and I visited just before Christmas 2013.

Picture breathtaking, heart-stopping paradise.

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Sharyn at Huelo Point Lookout, Maui, Hawaii. (Bed and breakfast owned and operated by Dr. Jeff and Sharyn Stone)

First met Sharyn on the internet (gasp!) on a writer’s website, Fanstory.com

We each discovered our Writing Twin.  (Never thought to meet one in this lifetime.)

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Not really!  Uncannily related in many ways, tho’ ..
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Same fave novels as girls, same fave plays, poems, same passion for theatre.  Incredible serendipity.
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Husband with Jeff and Sharyn, Huelo Point Lookout, Maui

Sharyn is everything I’m not, the very opposite, possibly, as regards general outlook and life philosophy and yet …

We call each other Twinnie!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This bio in her blog says it all –

ABOUT: SHARYN STONE

Getting older and, for the most part, having a blast!

IT’S NEVER TOO LATE TO LIVE YOUR DREAMS. YOU KNOW THE OLD SAYING … ‘IF NOT NOW … WHEN?’

I guess I’m all about following one’s dreams—even though, sometimes, those dreams change into others and we have to make that adaptation—but I have no intention of dying with my “music unsung”!

See what I mean?

 I’m half her height (mildly exaggerating), and  NOT a blonde bombshell– but I’ve no intention of dying with my “music unsung” either!

Sharyn posted on her Facebook page shortly after the dawn of 2017

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Old Girls Looking … What??  

That’s Sharyn all right!

Her dream’s coming true.

Tickets, anyone (click here)?

One-woman musical. A bittersweet, poignant, sometimes irreverent look into life as she’s lived it. Script, lyrics and acting by Sharyn Stone, storyteller par excellence, poet, playwright.

She sang and played for me from the show’s musical score, over the phone last month, just before Christmas.  

Almost picked up my feet and danced.

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Had the privilege of reading an early draft.

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Reading material on endless flight en route to  Sri Lanka

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Sparks of brilliance.  Definitely going places.

Felt it in my bones …

 

 

This is Sharyn with her adorable sidekick, Joyce Romero (82 years young) and the comment accompanying the email she sent along with the picture –

and you thought leaf blowers were for the GARDEN??? Think AGAIN TWINNIE!

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The wind-blown look.  Sharyn with Joyce, posing for OGLH poster (on her neighbour’s Harley).

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That’s for sure!
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No way.  Not those two!
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Old Girls, the demure version
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She most certainly is!

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img_20160505_095939         Aloha, Sweet Things!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A peep into the final scene of Old Girls (with permission, copyright Sharyn Stone):

STORYTELLER/SHARYN: What’s that old guy looking at? (Speaking to “old guy”) Yes? Do you need the machine

MIME/MALE GYM MEMBER, OLD:  No, no thank you. It’s just that … well … I’ve been watching you for months now. You’re beautiful.  And I just want to say how great it is to see Old Girls like you …     Oops – that didn’t come out right

STORYTELLER/ SHARYN: Oh, ya think?

MIME/MALE GYM MEMBER, OLD:  Old girls … like you … looking … Hot! And I don’t mean … sweaty. You are seriously … HOT. On the INSIDE.  I mean …

The message?                                                    

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I’m not.

YOUTH IS A STATE OF MIND.

I agree.  One hundred percent.

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I’d rather not know.
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Go on!

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Congratulations, Twinnie!  

Thrilled for you.   

Your name in lights …

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So here’s to all the dreamers who DARE to dream –
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Buying coffee at  Tim Horton’s.  She let me take a picture of the caption.
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Clipping from Toronto Star
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Thankful for the ability to keep dreaming in spite of naysayers, sneering sceptics.  Despite what life’s flung my way –
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Tune out the dreamkillers … and run.
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 My friend Joan Adams wrote on New Year’s day –
Dream Again
… To each one who’s forgotten to dream.
Do you remember that old suitcase
Where  dreams were hidden and no longer seen?
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Used with permission, copyright Joan Adams, another internet friend from Fanstory (who lives within visiting distance.)

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I believe.

Happy New Year!
Until next time,
sincerely
 PS: All the pictures in this post are clicks on Ipad and phone.