Clarice James

Smart, Fun, Relatable Fiction


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It Was All Over Once We Measured Our Heads

My husband has teased me for over fourteen years about the canned message I used to introduce myself to him online.

Yahoo PersonnalsOn 06/23/2005 04:06 pm EDT, I sent: “I like your profile. Tell me more.”

It was the only time I had ever sent anyone a canned message. After seven years of being widowed, I didn’t feel like putting any more effort into this whole finding-a-perfect-mate thing.

On 06/24/2005 06:03 am EDT, he replied with his own canned message: “I’d like to know more about you. Maybe you could take the Personality & Love Style Test?”

A test? Who does this guy think he is? A test? Oh, I don’t think so. My plan was to play hard to get.

On 06/24/2005 05:21 pm EDT, I wrote: “I found the test and downloaded the Flash Player they said I needed to take the test. I’ve downloaded it 6 times, yet no go. Does this mean I flunked? If you have any hints as to how I can access this test, please send them along. Thanks. Clarice.”flash-player

If he wanted me to take his stupid test, I wasn’t going to make it easy on him.

On 06/24/2005 09:56 pm EDT, he wrote: “Not to ask a really dumb question, but after downloading Flash Player, did you install it?  I know, that’s a lot like asking if your TV’s not working because it’s not plugged in, but it’s all I could think of. David.”

Did I install the Flash Player? I downloaded it, wasn’t that good enough? What more did this moustached man from New Hampshire want from me? Well, I wasn’t so desperate that I needed to put up with this nonsense!

Cropped Bio James, Clarice G. Headshot

Clarice G. Tully, 2005

On 06/25/2005 08:57 am EDT, I wrote: “You must think my e-IQ is below average, but I’ve tried, really I have. I’ve clicked on the Personality Test and downloaded and installed the Flash 7, oh, probably 15 times by now. I have also re-booted more than once. Anyway, until I figure this out, here are a few facts about me:

  1. I’m much shorter than you.
  2. I don’t have a moustache. I’ve been told I’m attractive (even without the moustache).
  3. The symphony puts me to sleep, but I don’t think that’s a sin.
  4. I want to lose 10 lbs.
  5. I am honest [Correction: Make that 20 lbs.] and dependable and able to adapt to most situations in quick and positive manner. [I’d just put that on my resume and thought it sounded pretty good, so included it.]  Have I scared you away for good? Clarice

There. No harm in sending him a few bits of  information about me. Actually, there were 20 other things on the list, but does that make me a bad person? It’s not like I asked him to write a “What Marriage Means To Me Essay” or anything. (Well, maybe I did, but not until a month later.)

profile squareOn 06/25/2005 11:20 pm EDT, he wrote: “Ack! I didn’t mean to act like you were e-IQ challenged! I was just admitting my own inability to come up with a solution to your problem. I’ve always thought ladies should be able to walk under my outstretched arm without mussing their hair. So 5′-2+3/8″ is a nice height. Moustaches on ladies have a very limited following, so your lack of one is no disadvantage.”

Ten more paragraphs followed. He gave as much as he got.

Our daily writing continued through July and August—without one phone call or date (despite all the hints I threw at him). We wrote about everyday stuff: faith, family, food, church, music, work. After a while, I decided there would be much less pressure if we took our time getting to know each other by writing. (Besides, he really never gave me a choice.)

In early August, our relationship took an unexpected turn toward intimacy when he told me he had a big head (literally). I’d seen his picture on his profile so I bet him that he was wrong. To settle the argument, such as it was, we both simultaneously measured our heads and reported the results.

It was all over after that. I knew this guy was for me. Who else would use a 25’ Stanley measuring tape to measure his head for a woman who didn’t know the difference between “download” and “install,” one who would try to use a 12″ ruler to measure the circumference of hers?

Big Head CapsThe first time we spoke and met in person was on September 21, 2005. Since I was looking at his head from a good 12+” below him, it seemed a normal size to me. Even so that Christmas I got him a hat from BigHeadCaps.com. It fit.

My husband needs a big head if he’s going to live with me. Where else would he store the knowledge base he uses to help get me through my days? (See this blog for more on that.)

“And the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.'” ~ Genesis 2:18 (KJV)

[This is a re-post because it makes me smile.]


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Hey, Wanna Trade?

Many of the people in the lives of us fiction writers would make excellent characters in our stories. The thing is, inserting real people into our novels can be tricky.

First, they might recognize themselves and not like how we see them. Second, there’s the whole invasion of privacy issue. Third, alienating our whole families and all our friends isn’t too good for book sales.

DON’T WORRY, I HAVE A SOLUTION — CHARACTER TRADING CARDS!

Character Trading Cards would work like Baseball Trading Cards. Each card would include the character’s photo, a carefully chosen alias, physical and personality traits, and accomplishments or lack thereof. If one author had a character another author needed, they’d make a trade. My readers wouldn’t know your characters and your readers wouldn’t know mine. Pretty smart, huh?

baseball card DRUSILLAFor example, I may need a bombastic, Bible Belt-preacher, one who throws amens and halleluiahs around as much as he does drops of sweat. However, what I have is a PhD pastor, cautious and well-read (never fiction), a shepherd who doesn’t yell but watches over his flock with an eagle eye. I trade you my conservative Evangelical FOR your wild Pentecostal, and no one suspects a thing.

And for group trading, authors can hold meet-ups or conference calls. The negotiating might go something like this …

CLARICE: “I’m lookin’ to trade a loud-talker with a bone to pick for a close-talker, bad breath optional.”

JEREMIAH: “I don’t have a close-talker, but I have a soft-talker who gossips.”

DAVID: “Hey, I’ll take your soft-talker in exchange for my non-stop talker/traffic  cone enthusiast.”

JEREMIAH: “I can do that.”

CLARICE: “Anyone have a fast-talker with hammer toes?”

DAVID: “No, but I’ve got one who mumbles and has bloodshot eyes.”

CLARICE: “I’ve been looking for a mumbler. I can always put sunglasses on him. “baseball card NORBERT (1)

DAVID: “Changing the subject, I’ve got an accountant on special this week.”

CLARICE: “What’s so special about an accountant?”

JEREMIAH: “I’ll trade you one apprentice carpenter for that accountant.”

DAVID: “Not this accountant, you won’t. My guy has social skills and a sense of humor.”

JEREMIAH: “A bean counter with a sense of humor? If you tell me he has a tan, I’ll know you’re lyin’. Tell you what, I’ll throw in a proctologist and a hockey player.”

CLARICE: “I can beat that. I’ll up you one church elder and make that hockey player Canadian.”

DAVID:  “Deal!”

MORE POSSIBLE TRADES

Would you take one spoiled brat with delusions of entitlement FOR one former military man with his WWII uniform festooned with medals? … Maybe I could swap you one retired teacher, still re-gifting a closet full of cheap, apple-themed gifts from her former students, FOR one thoughtful person with a creative mind and a generous heart.

I’ll give you my lovers of people FOR all your haters (who, by the way, would come to an early demise in my stories). … I could trade you three women who’ve never had children but know everything about raising them FOR one mother who puts reading to her kids ahead of folding laundry. … And, how about I take one of your family felons FOR one of my ancestral heroes?

baseball card GLADYSWanna trade one naïve woman who finds the good in everyone FOR a big fat judgmental complainer? (Yeah, I know I could probably use myself here, but God’s working on me, and I don’t want to interrupt him.)

Finally, I’d be glad to shed three believers looking for biblical loopholes and cheap grace FOR one humble follower of Jesus.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—  not by works, so that no one can boast. ~ Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV)

 


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bad-hair-dayLet your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. ~ Colossians 4:6 ESV

A while back, I got some interesting reactions to my Facebook post, which read, “First, why don’t women check the back of their hair before going to church? Second, could my noticing this trend be the start of my new ministry?”

Although it was meant to bring a chuckle, it got me to thinking. When is it appropriate to point out a faux pas or oddity? In ninety seconds flat, I thought I had a sound two-prong theory.

1) It IS acceptable to say something if you believe the person is NOT aware of the situation.

2) It is NOT acceptable to speak up if you believe the person IS aware.

Sounds simple, huh? Upon further review, I discovered simple isn’t always easy.

Let’s take the case of the woman with the church-hair in the front and bed-head in the back. I don’t think she knows, so I should tell her, right? Not so fast.  Ask yourself a few questions. Does her hair-do complement her wrinkled wardrobe? A style of her own, maybe? Or, is her half-hearted comb-out the end result of getting a passel of kids to church on time? Think before you stop her in the foyer and hand her a comb.

I’ve come up with some additional Church Courtesy Guidelines to help in these awkward situations.

What’s on Your Face? Feel free to point out milk mustaches, chin drippings, and spinach in teeth — but not tea stains or tartar. Yes to boogers, but no to moles.

When It Comes to Kids: When children are noisy in church, don’t turn around and give their parents an evil eye. We can learn from their joyful noises!

comb-over

Comb-overs: Seriously, a comb-over doesn’t happen by accident. It involves the skill of a weaver, firm-hold hair spray, and an extra half hour.  Look away and keep silent.

Hairpieces: Say nothing unless the hair piece is flipped up in the back or on backwards. I’ll let your relationship determine what you say and where you say it.

in my pew

Conversation: Do not verbally correct a statement made by someone, especially if you’re not part of the conversation. If someone mispronounces a word or uses incorrect grammar, just snicker and correct them mentally.

Pew Etiquette: When someone is sitting in your usual pew, let them figure it out for themselves. Tip: It’ll go quicker if you hover over them and glare.

Accidental Accessories: Yes to saying something about the glob of food on front of their blouse and the toilet paper stuck to their shoe or tucked in the waistband of their pants. However, you might want to hold off mentioning a wedgie.

Singing Voices: Sometimes voices are off key and loud. Leave these people alone—me included. God’s perfect hearing has a motive filter.

pats fan_300_225_90 (1)

Clothing Issues: Although not a huge deal, it might be helpful to mention the ripped seam in a congregant’s slacks, their inside-out sweater, mismatched footwear, or hem coming undone. But, unless you’re in leadership, say nothing about sports team jerseys and hats. You could get booed or beat up.

Make-up: This can be tricky. What you may think is too much make-up may not be too much for them. Unless the lipstick is on her teeth and magnetic eyelashes stuck to her braces, I’d ignore it.

However, if your comments are sincere, a person may be grateful. As proof, I give you this conversation with my ten-year-old grandson, Max:

Max, greeting me with a chin-nod: “Hi. So, what’s with all the make-up?”

Me, searching for my compact mirror: “I always wear make-up.”

Max, chuckling: “Yeah, but this time you’ve got way more on one eye than the other.”

Me, frazzled: “Why thank you, sweetie, for pointing that out. I love you too.”

On the Other Hand: Maybe I should take advantage of every chance I get to keep my mouth shut … and maybe my eyes.

Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.  I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

~ 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 NIV

 


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Twelve Words for Your Vocabulary #11

Be gracious in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down, not cut them out. ~ Colossians 4:6 (MSG)
A late night word search taught me the meaning of another bunch of words. What is the category or type for each of these words?  
  1. ACAJOU – a) any of several mahogannies;  b) slang for “I’ve got you,” common in hip-hop lyrics; c) “God bless you” in Punjabi; d) a hilltop memorial
  2. BLUCHER – a) a disruption; b) a bass fiddle brand; c) a type of footwear; d) a tool used to descale fish
  3. CRAMPON – a) a climbing iron used especially on ice and snow; b) an anti-inflammatory medication; c) a sedan with two poles used in the hill country of India; d) tight quarters
  4. DIKUME – a) a person known for their authenticity; b) a Japanese alloy used in decorative work on gold and silver; c) an endangered species of fish in the Cichlidae family; d) rich soil
  5. HALNY – a) another word for cliche; b) a game similar to Chinese checkers; c) a tailor’s term used to refer to a suit’s pinstripe; d) a wind that blows in southern Poland and in Slovakia 
  6. IVECO – a) a type of coco plum; b) an Italian truck manufacturer; c) a mobile yurt; d) a course or compass direction
  7. MASOOLA – a)  light portable antitank weapon; b) a type of boat; c) a hereditary estate in Pakistan; d) a body of notes on the textual traditions of the Hebrew Scripture
  8. PRUNELLA – a) a wicked person; b) a Welsh carriage; c) a gardening tool; d) a twilled woolen fabric
  9. SRANG – a) any plain or mixed drink containing alcohol; b) a Scottish medieval weapon; c) a bothersome person; d) a formerly used monetary unit of Tibet
  10. TATAOUINE – a) straw matting used as a floor covering in a Japanese home; b) a seasoned stew made of eggplant, tomatoes, green peppers, and squash; c) a city in southern Tunisia; d) outlandish, unintelligible speech
  11. VELODROME – a) an arena for track cycling; b) a word, verse, or sentence, or a number that reads the same backward or forward; c) a movie or play characterized by extravagant theatricality; d) a concave steel drum used in musical performances
  12. ZLOTY – a) a tenant under the protection of city law; b) the basic monetary unit of Poland; c) a risky business investment; d) suspicious or questionable behavior

Marsha-Thinking-Cap-200Have you chosen the correct definition? Can you use the words in a sentence? Scroll down to see how you did.

For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more. To  the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law; to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some. I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it. ~ 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 (NASB)

Here are the correct answers.

  1. a) ACAJOU – any of several mahogannies
  2. c) BLUCHER – a type of footwear
  3. a) CRAMPON – a climbing iron used especially on ice and snow
  4. c) DIKUME – endangered species of fish in the Cichlidae family
  5. d) HALNY – a wind that blows in southern Poland and in Slovakia
  6. b) IVECO – an Italian truck manufacturer
  7. b) MASOOLA – a type of boat
  8. d) PRUNELLA – twilled woolen fabric
  9. d) SRANG – a formerly used monetary unit of Tibet
  10. c) TATAOUINE – a city in southern Tunisia
  11. a) VELODROME – an arena for track cycling
  12. b) ZLOTY – the basic monetary unit of Poland

Happy with your score?

10-12 My, my, you are a very well-rounded person, aren’t you?

07-09 When you speak, does the average person stare off into nothingness?

04-06 So what if you’ve never been to China, India, Japan, Pakistan, Poland, Scotland, Slovakia, Tibet, Tunisia, or Wales. As quiz-master, I rule.

00-03  Stop giggling. I wasn’t referring to the weight of those who got 10-12 correct.

 


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Twelve Words for An Irish Slangphile #10

celticcross

While developing my character Ian Quinn for two of my novels, Party of One and Manhattan Grace, part of the fun was in researching Irish culture. When readers first meet Ian in Party of One, he’s a waiter with a servant’s heart. In Manhattan Grace, Ian returns as a business owner, trying to land a big contract in New York City. Can you guess what these Irish slang words mean? 

 

  1. BANJAXED – a) lifted up; b) broken; c) cheated or hoodwinked; d) excited
  2. CRAIC – a) crazy; b) a creek; c) fun; d) a brawl
  3. DOSSER – a) a small village; b) person not working or messing about; c) a sleeping dog; d) a legal document
  4. GAMMY – a) grandmother; b) small garden ; c) crooked or odd-looking; d) fuel for pellet stoves
  5. HAYMES – a) complete mess; b) church hymns c) outdoor markets; d) smoked lamb shanks
  6. JACKS – a) a step dance move; b) a renovated building; c) auto mechanic; d) toilets
  7. KNACKERED – a) drunk; b) pregnant; c) type of wood finish; d) tuckered out
  8. MANKY – a) dirty and disgusting; b) a small monkey; c) misshapen; d) a man’s swimsuit
  9. PISHMIRES – a) condescending remarks; b) marshes and bogs; c) ants or flying ants; d) traffic jams
  10. SNOG – a) homemade ale; b) a nap; c) a style of knitting; d) a kiss
  11. THROW SHAPES – a) to teach, especially geometry; b) to bake; c) play darts; d) to show-off aggressively
  12. ZONK – a) a punch; b) a one-pound coinc) an overpriced pub; d) to disturb or annoy

Have you chosen the correct definition? Can you use the words in a sentence? Scroll down to see how you did.

Kind words are like honey—sweet to the soul and healthy for the body. ~ Proverbs 16:24 (NLT)

Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift. ~ Ephesians 4:29 (MSG)

 

getirish-309x400

Here are the correct answers.

  1. b) BANJAXED – broken
  2. c) CRAIC – fun
  3. b) DOSSER – not working or messing about
  4. c) GAMMY – crooked or odd-looking
  5. a) HAYMES – complete mess
  6. d) JACKS – toilets
  7. d) KNACKERED – tuckered out
  8. a) MANKY – dirty and disgusting
  9. c) PISHMIRES – ants or flying ants
  10. d) SNOG – a kiss
  11. a) THROW SHAPES – to show-off aggressively
  12. b) ZONK a one-pound coin

Jumping for joy over your score?

10-12 Did I catch you throwing shapes?

07-09 When you speak, do people mistake you for Bono?

04-08 Is that all you got right? Where’s the craic in that?

00-03 You made a complete haymes of this, didn’t you?

 


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Writers: Have You Annoyed Anyone Lately?

A writer’s characters cannot all be perfect, because if they were it would be quite annoying.

We need to create conflict to keep our stories and our characters real and interesting. Conflict doesn’t happen when everyone is nice to each other all the time. Boredom happens. Conflict creates drama and tension. Boredom creates naps. And then you get nightmares starring Mike Lindell from My Pillow.

When I first began to look more closely at my stories, I saw that many of my main characters were nice, maybe a little too nice. Perhaps, because I find a lot of annoying people in my real life, I subconsciously didn’t want them to show up in my books. Powerless to change them in real life, maybe “editing” their  personalities made me feel powerful in fiction.

Upon further study of my work, I realized I did indeed have one very annoying person in my novels. It was the protagonist. This discovery excited me. I felt vindicated.

Annoying FloHowever, I noticed something else. Since my novels are written from a first person point-of-view, often my protagonists are a lot, well, like me.

Ergo, I am annoying. Often, I want to slap my protagonist (ergo, me) for being so stubborn, so angry, so impatient,  so prideful, so petty, so slow to get it (ergo, me).

Like right now. How annoying is it to use the word “ergo” three times in one paragraph?  Sheesh.

I’m asking my readers, “What do you find annoying in an author or a story?” Let me know . . . please . . . so I will stop doing it.


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The Not So Glamorous Writer’s Life

Please welcome my guest blogger, Jennifer Slattery, a  writer and speaker who has addressed church and women’s groups, Bible studies, and writers’ groups  across the nation. Jennifer admits to living a not so glamorous writer’s life …

Remember when you went to your first formal? Finding the perfect dress–the one with lots of sparkles and a waistband that nearly cut you in two. Then there was the zipper–as long as you exhaled while sucking in your gut, it fit perfectly. And besides, it was on sale.

But try sitting down in the thing.

And the shoes. For me, that first formal dance was the first time I wore heels, and it showed. Walking across the parking lot, with all its potholes, bumps, and depressions was interesting to say the least. Of course, it didn’t help that the shoes were half a size too small, or two wide, or whatever, and either strangled all circulation from your toes or fell off your feet every time you took a step.

Then you get older, wiser, and invest in a comfy yet stylish pair of flats. At least, that’s been my MO. Except sometime this summer, I threw away my favorite black pair, fully intending to replace. But then August hit, and with it conferences I needed to prepare for, and I forgot all about my shopping plans.

Some of you understand this completely. Others of you, the shoppers among us, consider me insane. For the latter of you, you’ll be shaking your head momentarily, thinking, “I told you so. Well, I would’ve told you so had you asked.”

Mid-August rolls around, and I begin packing for what I knew would be a whirlwind trip–a conference where I’d be speaking and teaching three classes, followed by a book signing, with a day and a half home before heading to an author event followed by another conference.

Whew! I’m tired just remembering it!

So there I was, planning what to wear and … no black flats, and no time for shopping. Luckily (ha!) our daughter owns a really cute pair of pumps, so I tossed them in my suitcase, closed it up, and was good to go.

Eh …

Saturday rolled around, the last day of the conference and the day of my book signing. By this point, I was also down to one outfit–the one needing those black pumps. So on they went.

And I quickly remembered how long it’d been since I’d worn heels. And that my daughter’s feet are wider then mine. So here I am, trying to look all professional while wobbling around, about ready to topple over, in my daughter’s much too high heels. To make things worse, every third step one of my shoes actually slipped off, nearly sending me flat on my face.

All the while I was trying to act all bookishly professional–and everyone I encounter, including the bookstore owner hosting me, is doing their best not to laugh out loud.

Grown woman, acting like a teenager in her first pair of heels. Oy.

I wish I could say wardrobe malfunctions during book signings are rare events, but …

I was on another trip, this time in Des Moines. Once again, it was a whirlwind weekend with back-to-back speaking engagements followed by a signing. By my last event, I was down to my last outfit–the one I was wearing. The others were not so neatly packed in my suitcase in the trunk. Add to this the fact that it was freezing out–not sure capris and strappy sandals were a great idea.

With goosebumps exploding across my arms and my lips turning a deep shade of blue despite heavily applied lipgloss, I decided to buy some coffee.

Did I mention I was wearing white capris? You know where this is going, don’t you? I experienced a momentary rush of warmth, followed by a rush of panic.

A writer’s life. Isn’t it glamorous?

Do you have any wardrobe fails to share? It would make me feel better. Seriously. 😉

More About Jennifer Slattery: Jennifer is the author of six contemporary novels and maintains a devotional blog found at http://jenniferslatterylivesoutloud.com. She has a passion for helping women discover, embrace, and live out who they are in Christ. As the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries, (http://whollyloved.com) she and her team partner with churches to facilitate events designed to help women rest in their true worth and live with maximum impact. When not writing, reading, or editing, Jennifer loves going on mall dates with her adult daughter and coffee dates with her hilariously fun husband. Connect with her on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/JenSlatte) or Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/slatteryjennifer/).

Jennifer’s Latest Release: Dancing in the Rain

On the verge of college graduation, Loni Parker seeks employment as a music teacher, but no one will hire her since she’s blind. Or so she thinks. To take her mind off her troubles, her roommate invites her to spring retreat at Camp Hope in the gorgeous North Carolina mountains.

Unbeknownst to Loni, Michael Ackerman, the director, is an ex-con responsible for the accident that caused her blindness. When Loni warms up to camp and wants to return as a summer counselor, Michael opposes the idea, which only makes Loni want to prove herself all the more. Still, her need for independence and dream of teaching win out, taking her far away from her beloved Camp Hope … and a certain director.

Camp director Michael Ackerman recognizes Lonie instantly and wants to avoid her at all costs. Yet, despite the guilt pushing him from her, a growing attraction draws him to the determined woman. She sees more with her heart than the average person does with his eyes. But her presence also dredges up a long-buried anger toward his alcoholic father that he’d just as soon keep hidden. When circumstances spin out of control, Michael is forced to face a past that may destroy his present.

Buy it here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07CSH8F97