Author Topic: Hazel  (Read 124 times)

Offline rivergirl

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Hazel
« on: January 01, 2022, 12:54:03 PM »
We all know how important the first five is. I'm grateful for any feedback. I meant to post this in the first five as this isn't the whole first chapter. Oh well..

Chapter 1
March 1775

Hazel entered the mercantile with a little huff, ignoring the new table display of salt-glaze ceramics. She’d didn’t have time for shopping. Violet, her younger sister, jingled in just behind her. She could feel the girl’s smug expression. Her sister normally would have been tempted by a glossy sauce boat, but today she just wanted to embarrass her.
   “How do you do, Mrs. Hawkins?” Hazel said to the bespectacled woman behind the counter. 
   “Fit as a glove,” the shop owner said, abandoning a mound of grain on the scale.
   Violet joined her side at the polished oak counter. “It’s a short list today, ma’am.”
   “Oh? What brings the Robbins girls here? I’ve more Marzipan if that would please the Burgess.”
   Hazel glanced at the colorful candy jar presented like the imperial crown at the end of the counter. “It would please Father well enough, but I only need fabric.”
   Mrs. Hawkins’s face lit. “My dear Hazel, are you going to sew something?”
   “Heavens, no,” Hazel said, slightly amused. “I’ve no talent for that sort of thing. Betsy, the maid, has enough skill for both of us.”
   “Oh pish, such an attitude frightens suitors away.”
   “It’s not her attitude that frightens men,” Violet said. “It’s her tongue.”
   “What do I need a man for?” Hazel said, already appraising the shelves of fine silk and coarse muslins.
   “Go ahead, ask her,” Violet urged. “It’s the most ridiculous request I’ve ever heard.”
   Hazel eyed her sister, feeling her patience shorten. Violet was only eighteen and judgmental to a fault but at least was talented enough to sew hems, darts, and other feminine frillery nillery.  “Do you have any fabric that’s particularly quiet?”
   Mrs. Hawkins adjusted her spectacles. “What do you mean?”
   “See?” Violet said with a flick of her hand. “You’ve utterly confused her. A sensible woman never judges her skirt by its noise.”
   “It’s a perfectly valid question,” Hazel insisted.
   “We’ll have that pretty flowered fabric just above the brown cotton,” Violet said, pointing to the shelves.
   “Only if it’s very quiet.”
   “My lambs,” Mrs. Hawkins said. “You’re addling my brain. I don’t know what you mean by quiet fabric. None of the bolts have uttered a word all week.”
   Violet gave a haughty smile.
   “Mrs. Hawkins,” Hazel said exasperated, “you know very well I love to hunt. I’m looking for fabric that doesn’t rustle. I very nearly startled a fat buck yesterday with the swish swish swish of the most irritating damask.”
   “You startled a deer with your gown, you say?”
   “I nearly startled a rabbit,” Hazel corrected, “a male one.”
   Violet leaned over the counter. “She’ll examine the one with blue blossoms.”
   Hazel shot her sister a look of warning. “I’ll see the brown cotton.”
   “Of course.” Mrs. Hawkins turned to retrieve the brown bolt.
   Hazel tucked a strand of hair into her bonnet, taking notice of an elderly man and woman having a lively conversation beside a display of hair powder.
   “He’d defend the king to his deathbed,” the gentleman said, turning a pamphlet over. “It’s complete rubbish. He’s blind to George’s thirst for power.”
   Hazel glimpsed with surprise the black scepter on the pamphlet’s cover. It was her father’s, The Divine Composition of Monarchy. He’d published it in response to Mr. Henry’s speech only weeks earlier. It seemed her father’s colleague, a hot-heated orator, had inflamed the entire church with his call for arms.
   “The king has no more wisdom that any schooled man,” the woman responded. “He must be checked!”
   “Don’t say anything,” Violet warned. “You don’t even know those people.”
   “Who will check him?” Hazel called to the elderly couple as she advanced a few paces. “Will it be you, or perhaps your husband? Which of you is qualified to rule a nation?”
    “Not me,” the woman responded, her surprise reminiscent of a gray pug in a straw hat. “A governing body.”
   “And who will check your governing body?”
   “You take a lot of interest in politics for such a young woman,” the gentleman said.
   “I’m five and twenty, but does this matter?” Hazel asked angrily. “I’m a citizen same as you.”
   “Forgive the intrusion on your private conversation,” Violet said. “Our father worked very hard on that pamphlet.”
   “You are Trent Robbins’s daughters?” the man asked, his brows rising.
   “Yes,” Hazel answered, “and you impugned Father’s ideas without even reading the pamphlet.”
   “Oh, yes, same ideas and the same green eyes,” the woman observed.
   “Now is not the time to boast being a Robbins,” the man counseled. “Tempers are flaring all over town, but especially in the warehouse district.”
   “There was no boasting,” Hazel corrected, “though I am proud of my father.”
   “We both are,” Violet added.
   “As young girls should be,” the woman said, “but two privileged girls in imported silk gowns haven’t the faintest idea of how the world really works.”
   “Madam,” Hazel said, feeling her spine tighten. “My father’s success as a planter does not negate his ideas or mine!”
   “Take heed,” the man said, donning his hat. “There’s a lot of anger towards your father right now. If I were you, I’d go home and keep your lips sealed until this storm passes over. I wouldn’t want you girls to get caught in any crossfire.”
   After the couple left the shop, Hazel looked back at her sister. “What storm is he talking about? There hasn’t been any fighting in weeks.”
   Violet held a pouch of potpourri to her nose. “People are just mad because he’s the best writer and orator in Richmond. The rebels hate that people listen to him.”
   Hazel looked through the shop’s large display window. Everything looked peaceful outside. A British soldier rode by on horseback while a woman in a feathered hat dismounted from a wagon. On the other side of the street, two men blathered on cordially in front of the post office. If there was any danger brewing on the horizon, both she and her sister had been as ignorant as two milk-lipped babies.
   
#

   That night, the shadowy images of a dream slipped from Hazel’s mind as smoke filled the room. She coughed into her pillow, her lids lifting lazily. The—kitchen—is—outside. This thought settled stupidly before her gaze shot into the darkness. Smoke moved hot and alive across her skin. So much smoke—too much for a blocked flue. Fire! Fear jolted through her as her feet slapped to the floor.
   The only light was an eerie orange glow that stole through the window. “Mother! Father!” Her toe rammed painfully against the trousseau as she reached for the smooth papered walls. At once she found the doorframe and thrust herself into the hallway.
   There was a haze of smoke in the hallway, and she coughed violently into her sleeve. Through the window at the end of the hall, she could hear men hollering. “We’re—in—here!” she cried through a string of coughs. The Shockoe District and the edges of town were an hour away on foot, but there was no time to reason the distance. She felt certain that merchants and farmers were already uniting to hurl buckets of water onto her family’s home.
   She burst into her sisters’ room horrified by the sight of monstrous orange flames hungrily licking the windows and wall. Violet’s carefully stitched sampler fell with a hiss and the floorboards groaned underfoot. Her gaze shot frantically to the two slight forms stirring under the covers. “Violet! Sarah!”

[/size]
« Last Edit: January 02, 2022, 07:45:01 PM by rivergirl »

Offline susan-louise

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Re: Hazel
« Reply #1 on: January 02, 2022, 08:19:13 AM »
Hi Rivergirl.  Enjoyed reading this as love historicals.  Well done for drawing me in.  And you have some lovely period details that made me feel I was in the shop, too.  Just watch the dialogue tags...and try not to overwork the historical "voice".  Sometimes it can appear contrived. Less is more, as they always say.   ALso, have a nice feel for Hazel's character.  Now very worried that the sisters will perish in the flames.  Brava for a great chapter 1.

Chapter 1
March 1775

Hazel entered the mercantile with a little huff, ignoring the new table display of salt-glaze ceramics.  (Not clear: is the little huff the breeze from the street?  Or is she sighing?  You might wish to clarify) She’d didn’t have time for shopping. Violet, her younger sister, jingled in just behind her. She could feel the girl’s her smug expression. Normally, Violet her sister normally would have been tempted by a glossy sauce boat, but today she just wanted to embarrass her.
   “How do you do, Mrs. Hawkins?” Hazel said to greeted the bespectacled woman behind the counter.
   “Fit as a glove,” the shop owner said she replied abandoning a mound of grain on the scale. (nice atmosphere going on...can see it all. well done)
   Violet joined her (suggests she joins shop owners.  "joined Hazel) side at the polished oak counter. “It’s a short list today, ma’am.”
   “Oh? What brings the Robbins girls here? I’ve more Marzipan if that would please the Burgess.”
   Hazel glanced at the colorful candy jar presented like the imperial crown at the end of the counter. “It would please Father well enough, but I only need fabric.”
   Mrs. Hawkins’s face lit. “My dear Hazel, are you going to sew something?”
   “Heavens, no,” Hazel said, slightly amused. “I’ve no talent for that sort of thing. Betsy, the maid, has enough skill for both of us.”  (the dialogue tag interrupts the great flow, imo)
   “Oh pish, such an attitude frightens suitors away.”
   “It’s not her attitude that frightens men, ma'am,” Violet said. “It’s her tongue.”
   “What do I need a man for?” Hazel said, already was already appraising the shelves of fine silk and coarse muslins.  (this shows her contempt for the question...)
   “Go ahead, ma'am, ask her,” Violet urged. “It’s the most ridiculous request I’ve ever heard.”  (need to focus on who V is saying this to.  It is apparent, but I did have to stop and check...whether there was someone else in the conversation)
   Hazel eyed her sister, feeling her patience shorten. Violet was only eighteen and judgmental to a fault but at least was talented enough to sew hems, darts, and other feminine frillery nillery.  (This confused me.  I get  Hazel's irritation with sister..but then she acknowledges her skill with a needle. Are you saying therefore that her seamstress skill compensates for her sassy comments???)
  new line “Do you have any fabric that’s particularly quiet?”
   Mrs. Hawkins adjusted her spectacles. “What do you mean?”
   “See?” Violet said with a flick of her hand. “You’ve utterly confused her. A sensible woman never judges her skirt by its noise.”  V amusing.
   “It’s a perfectly valid question,” Hazel insisted.
   “We’ll have that pretty flowered fabric just above the brown cotton,. Violet said, pointed to the shelves.  (cutting out some of the dialogue tags helps preserve the nice momentum you have going,)
   “Only if it’s very quiet.”
   “My lambs,” Mrs. Hawkins said (laughed might be better). “You’re addling my brain. I don’t know what you mean by quiet fabric. None of the bolts have uttered a word all week.”
   Violet gave a haughty smile.  (is this directed at Hazel?  In which case you might need to indicate it)
   “Mrs. Hawkins,” Hazel said exasperated, “you know very well I love to hunt. I’m looking for fabric that doesn’t rustle. I very nearly startled a fat buck yesterday with the swish swish swish of the most irritating damask.”  (imo: might be more effective to simplify this "with the most irritating swishing damask."   Although just an accuracy alert: riding habits were not generally cut from luxury fabrics.  Mostly fine wool, or silk blend, or fine velveteen
   “You startled a deer with your gown, you say?”
   “I nearly startled a rabbit,” Hazel corrected, “a male one.”
   Violet leaned over the counter. “She’ll examine the one with blue blossoms.”
   Hazel shot her sister a look of warning. “I’ll see the brown cotton.” 
   “Of course.” Mrs. Hawkins turned to retrieve the brown bolt.
   Hazel tucked a strand of hair into her bonnet, taking notice of an elderly man and woman having a lively conversation beside a display of hair powder. (As Hazel tucked a strand of hair into her bonnet, she noticed a......)
   “He’d defend the king to his deathbed,” the gentleman said, turning a pamphlet over. “It’s complete rubbish. He’s blind to George’s thirst for power.”
   Surprised, Hazel glimpsed with surprisethe black scepter on the pamphlet’s cover. (syntax) It was her father’s, The Divine Composition of Monarchy. He’d published it in response to Mr. Henry’s speech only weeks earlier. It seemed her father’s ("papa's" ?  better than repeating "her father" again) colleague, a hot-heated orator, had inflamed the entire church with his call for arms.
   “The king has no more wisdom that any schooled man,” the woman responded. “He must be checked!”
   “Hazel, don’t say anything,” Violet warned. “You don’t even know those people.”
   “Who will check him?” Hazel called to the elderly couple as she advanced a few paces. “Will it be you, or perhaps your husband? Which of you is qualified to rule a nation?”
    “Not me,” the woman responded, her surprise reminiscent of a gray pug in a straw hat. “A governing body.”  (Not sure this works...and it's such a great line, too.  How about..."her surprise recalling that of a gray pug finding itself in a straw hat."
   “And who will check your governing body?”
   “You take a lot of interest in politics for such a young woman,” the gentleman said. (frowned??)
   “I’m five and twenty, but does this matter?” Hazel asked angrily. (You need to show her anger, rather than tell us.  Perhaps she tightens her fists or raps her hands on the counter. “I’m a citizen same as you.”
   “Forgive the intrusion on your private conversation,” Violet said. “Our father worked very hard on that pamphlet.”
   “You are Trent Robbins’s daughters?” the man asked, his brows rising. (It's clear he's asked a question.  Help the flow by  "You're Trent Robbins's daughters?  The man's brows rose.
   “Yes,” Hazel answered, “and you impugned Father’s ideas without even reading the pamphlet.”
   “Oh, yes, same ideas and the same green eyes,” the woman observed.
   “Now is not the time to boast being a Robbins,” the man counseled. “Tempers are flaring all over town, but especially in the warehouse district.”
   “There was no boasting,” Hazel corrected, “though I'm am proud of my father.”
   “We both are,” Violet added.
   “As young girls should be,” the woman said, “but two privileged girls in wearing imported silk gowns haven’t the faintest idea of how the world really works.”
   Hazel's spine stiffened. “Madam,” Hazel said, feeling her spine tighten. “My father’s success as a planter does not negate his ideas or mine!”
   “Take heed,” the man said, donning his hat. “There’s a lot of anger towards your father right now. If I were you, I’d go home and keep your lips sealed until this storm passes over. I wouldn’t want you girls to get caught in any crossfire.”
   After the couple left the shop, Hazel looked back at her sister. “What storm is he talking about? There hasn’t been any fighting in weeks.”
   Violet held a pouch of potpourri to her nose. “People are just mad because he’s the best writer and orator in Richmond. The rebels hate that people listen to him.”
   Hazel looked (try "gazed beyond" you use look again and it jars). through the shop’s large display window. Everything looked peaceful outside. A British soldier rode by on horseback while a woman in a feathered hat dismounted from a wagon. On the other side of the street, two men blathered on cordially in front of the post office. If there was any danger brewing on the horizon, both she and her sister had been as ignorant as two milk-lipped babies.
   
#

   That night, the shadowy images of a dream slipped from Hazel’s mind as smoke filled the room. She coughed into her pillow, her lids lifting lazily. (not sure the adverb works. Might she not instantly open them?  We humans have survival instincts..and fire is an ancient terror.) The—kitchen—is—outside. This thought settled stupidly before her gaze shot into the darkness. Smoke moved hot and alive across her skin. So much smoke—too much for a blocked flue. Fire! Fear jolted through her as her feet slapped to the floor.
   The only light was an eerie orange glow that stole through the window. “Mother! Father!” Her toe rammed painfully against the trousseau as she reached for the smooth papered walls. At once she found the doorframe and thrust herself into the hallway.
   There was a haze of smoke in the hallway, and she coughed violently into her sleeve. Through the window at the end of the hall, she could hear men hollering.
  New line  “We’re—in—here!” she cried through a string of coughs. The Shockoe District and the edges of town were an hour away on foot, but there was no time to reason the distance. She felt certain that merchants and farmers were already uniting to hurl buckets of water onto her family’s home.
   She burst into her sisters’ room horrified by the sight of monstrous orange flames hungrily licking the windows and wall. Violet’s carefully stitched sampler fell with a hiss and the floorboards groaned underfoot. Her gaze shot frantically to the two slight forms stirring under the covers.
  new line “Violet! Sarah!” she screamed (the urgency is missing)
[/size]
« Last Edit: January 02, 2022, 08:51:18 AM by susan-louise »

Offline rivergirl

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Re: Hazel
« Reply #2 on: January 02, 2022, 03:20:19 PM »
Susan-Louise, thanks so very much for you "smoothing" comments and points of confusion on who's speaking. I'm most grateful for your keen eyes!

Offline Jub666

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Re: Hazel
« Reply #3 on: January 11, 2022, 06:46:39 AM »
I enjoyed this first chapter. You set the scene well in the shop and the action that happens with the fire is exciting and frightening. I have made some suggestions, please feel free to ignore them though. Looking forward to reading more.

March 1775

Hazel entered the mercantile with a little huff, ignoring the new table display of salt-glaze ceramics. She’d didn’t have time for shopping. Violet, her younger sister, jingled in just behind her. She could feel the girl’s smug expression. Her sister normally would have been tempted by a glossy sauce boat, but today she just wanted to embarrass her.
I'm confused about who is who in this first paragraph. I think 'She could feel...' is referring to Hazel feeling Violet's smug expression, but the next 2 uses of 'she' don't make it clear who you are referring to. Also, can you feel an expression? Perhaps it would be better for Hazel to catch a glimpse of her sister's smug expression.

   “How do you do, Mrs. Hawkins?” Hazel said to the bespectacled woman behind the counter.
   “Fit as a glove,” the shop owner said, abandoning a mound of grain on the scale.
   Violet joined her side sister at the polished oak counter. “It’s a short list today, ma’am.”
   “Oh? What brings the Robbins' girls here? I’ve more Marzipan if that would please the Burgess.”
   Hazel glanced at the colorful candy jar presented like the imperial crown at the end of the counter. “It would please Father well enough, but I only need fabric.”
   Mrs. Hawkins’s face lit. “My dear Hazel, are you going to sew something?”
   “Heavens, no,” Hazel said, slightly amused. “I’ve no talent for that sort of thing. Betsy, the maid, has enough skill for both of us.”
   “Oh pish, such an attitude frightens suitors away.”
   “It’s not her attitude that frightens men,” Violet said. “It’s her tongue.”
   “What do I need a man for?” Hazel said, already appraising the shelves of fine silk and coarse muslins.
   “Go ahead, ask her,” Violet urged. “It’s the most ridiculous request I’ve ever heard.” I'm not clear who Violet is talking to here and the next sentences don't make it clear as the next question asked is by Hazel.
   Hazel eyed her sister, feeling her patience shorten. Violet was only eighteen and judgmental to a fault but at least was talented enough to sew hems, darts, and other feminine frillery nillery. 
   “Do you have any fabric that’s particularly quiet?”
   Mrs. Hawkins adjusted her spectacles. “What do you mean?”
   “See?” Violet said with a flick of her hand. “You’ve utterly confused her. (confused who?) A sensible woman never judges her skirt by its noise.”
   “It’s a perfectly valid question,” Hazel insisted.
   “We’ll have that pretty flowered fabric just above the brown cotton,” Violet said, pointing to the shelves.
   “Only if it’s very quiet.” (assuming this is Hazel - does she say this forcefully, or is it muttered as an aside to her sister's bossiness?.)
   “My lambs,” Mrs. Hawkins said. “You’re addling my brain. I don’t know what you mean by quiet fabric. None of the bolts have uttered a word all week.”
   Violet gave a haughty smile. (Why a haughty smile? Would she not have laughed at the joke?)
   “Mrs. Hawkins,” Hazel said exasperated, “you know very well I love to hunt. I’m looking for fabric that doesn’t rustle. I very nearly startled a fat buck yesterday with the swish swish swish of the most irritating damask.”
   “You startled a deer with your gown, you say?”
   “I nearly startled a rabbit,” Hazel corrected, “a male one.”
   Violet leaned over the counter. “She’ll examine the one with blue blossoms.”
   Hazel shot her sister a look of warning. “I’ll see the brown cotton.”
   “Of course.” Mrs. Hawkins turned to retrieve the brown bolt.
   Hazel tucked a strand of hair into her bonnet, taking notice of an elderly man and woman having a lively conversation beside a display of hair powder.
   “He’d defend the king to his deathbed,” the gentleman said, turning a pamphlet over. “It’s complete rubbish. He’s blind to George’s thirst for power.”
   Hazel glimpsed with surprise the black scepter on the pamphlet’s cover. It was her father’s, The Divine Composition of Monarchy. He’d published it in response to Mr. Henry’s speech only weeks earlier. It seemed her father’s colleague, a hot-heated (do you mean hot-headed?) orator, had inflamed the entire church with his call for arms.
   “The king has no more wisdom that any schooled man,” the woman responded. “He must be checked!”
   “Don’t say anything, Hazel,” Violet warned. “You don’t even know those people.”
   “Who will check him?” Hazel called to the elderly couple as she advanced a few paces. “Will it be you, or perhaps your husband? Which of you is qualified to rule a nation?”
    “Not me,” the woman responded, her surprise reminiscent of a gray pug in a straw hat. “A governing body.”
   “And who will check your governing body?”
   “You take a lot of interest in politics for such a young woman,” the gentleman said.
   “I’m five and twenty, but does this matter?” Hazel asked angrily. “I’m a citizen same as you.”
   “Forgive the intrusion on your private conversation,” Violet said. “Our father worked very hard on that pamphlet.”
   “You are Trent Robbins’s daughters?” the man asked, his brows rising.
   “Yes,” Hazel answered, “and you impugned Father’s ideas without even reading the pamphlet.”
   “Oh, yes, same ideas and the same green eyes,” the woman observed.
   “Now is not the time to boast being a Robbins,” the man counseled. “Tempers are flaring all over town, but especially in the warehouse district.”
   “There was no boasting,” Hazel corrected, “though I am proud of my father.”
   “We both are,” Violet added.
   “As young girls should be,” the woman said, “but two privileged girls wearing in imported silk gowns haven’t the faintest idea of how the world really works.”
   “Madam,” Hazel said, feeling her spine tighten. “My father’s success as a planter does not negate his ideas or mine!”
   “Take heed,” the man said, donning his hat. “There’s a lot of anger towards your father right now. If I were you, I’d go home and keep your lips sealed until this storm passes over. I wouldn’t want you girls to get caught in any crossfire.”
   After the couple left the shop, Hazel looked back at her sister. “What storm is he talking about? There hasn’t been any fighting in weeks.”
   Violet held a pouch of potpourri to her nose. “People are just mad because Father's he’s the best writer and orator in Richmond. The rebels hate that people listen to him.”
   Hazel gazed looked through the shop’s large display window. Everything looked seemed peaceful outside. A British soldier rode by on horseback while a woman in a feathered hat dismounted from a wagon. On the other side of the street, two men blathered on cordially in front of the post office. If there was any danger brewing on the horizon, both she and her sister had been as ignorant as two milk-lipped babies.
   
#

   That night, the shadowy images of a dream slipped from Hazel’s mind as smoke filled the room. She coughed into her pillow, her lids lifting lazily. The—kitchen—is—outside. This thought settled stupidly before her gaze shot into the darkness. Smoke moved hot and alive across her skin (Does smoke have a temperature?). So much smoke—too much for a blocked flue. Fire! Fear jolted through her as her feet slapped to the floor.
   The only light was an eerie orange glow that stole through the window. “Mother! Father!” Her toe rammed painfully against the trousseau as she reached for the smooth papered walls. At once she found the doorframe and thrust herself into the hallway.
   There was a haze of smoke in the hallway (you've used 'smoke' three times. Can you describe the smoke in the hallway in a different way?), and she coughed violently into her sleeve.

I would perhaps write this a little differently and combine the 2 sentences:
At once she found the doorframe and thrust herself into the hallway, coughing violently into her sleeve as she encountered thick, grey smog. (or something better than that!)

Through the window at the end of the hall, she could hear men hollering. “We’re—in—here!” she choked between cried through a string of coughs. The Shockoe District and the edges of town were an hour away on foot, but there was no time to reason the distance. She felt certain that merchants and farmers were already uniting to hurl buckets of water onto her family’s home. (Would they be able to see the fire from that distance?)
   She burst into her sisters’ room horrified by the sight of monstrous orange flames hungrily licking the windows and wall. Violet’s carefully stitched sampler fell with a hiss and the floorboards groaned underfoot. Her gaze shot frantically to the two slight forms stirring under the covers. “Violet! Sarah!”

One final thing. I love the name Hazel, but I'm not sure that it was around as a first name as early as the 1770's. This doesn't matter if you're not worried about dates and names and when they became used as given names, but I thought I'd point it out just in case.

Offline rivergirl

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Re: Hazel
« Reply #4 on: January 12, 2022, 07:20:13 PM »
Jub666, some great stuff in your feedback. Thanks so much!