The May List – 2018

Spring was alive and well in Grosse Pointe this month, bringing warmer temps, tree blossoms and flowers.

However.

1) Just when all the blossoms had formed on the dogwood and magnolia (two of my favorite early spring plants), a crazy strong wind storm blew through town, resulting in downed trees, limbs and of course, blossoms.

I was at work during the storm and we all heard a loud crash. The storm shattered windows, too. SIGH

2) My old lilac tree weathered the storm quite nicely and its many blooms survived, giving us a beautiful display of light and dark purples. I keep thinking it’s going to break or topple over after a big snow or wind storm, but it stays strong.

3) The difference in the garden from the beginning of May to the end.

My vegetable garden is not doing well at all this year, due to the horrible squirrels, who dig up every seed and seedling they can find. Last year they didn’t touch my kale, lettuce or string beans, but this year they dig as soon as I’m done planting. I’m wondering if it’s because they are starving because of the long winter we had, or if they’ve just become more aggressive and annoying.

This is such a huge disappointment for me because there’s nothing better than fresh greens on the table minutes after they’ve been picked. Okay, there are a million better things, but you know what I mean. Freshness just cannot be duplicated.

4) Luckily, we are still growing greens at The Garden Detroit, in spite of our move from our large garden to the smaller plot next to our flower farm, and Tom and Nancy are always so nice to let me have some whenever I stop by. I enjoyed bok choy, sauteed with chili oil and garlic, and today for lunch I’m making a speckled lettuce salad.

5)  Detroit Abloom, the flower farm project, had to scramble this season, again because of the tough winter and spring or non-spring that we had. Our flower bouquet share starts today and we were all foraging for fillers yesterday like grasses and clover, to flesh out the bouquets.

It has been slow-going, but I am super excited for another beautiful season! If you are in the area, please come volunteer any time!

6)  Early this month I joined friends for the Susan G. Komen cancer walk in Detroit. We met at the DAC for a light breakfast, then headed out into the crisp morning in our matching leggings and team shirts.

I wasn’t prepared for the emotions that came up during the walk. I had flashbacks to my diagnosis and treatment, and thought about all the women out there who have been lost, and those who are just getting diagnosed. How their lives are going to change forever, how their families will be changed.

I’m just finishing up year five, which means I can stop taking my medication soon, which is both exciting and scary. I want to put it behind me and taking daily medication is an in-your-face reminder, and my doctor says that most people who stop taking the medication see a significant change (more energy, body feels better), but the medication was also my mental crutch, allowing me to believe that if I took it, the cancer wouldn’t come back. Which isn’t entirely true.

7)  On to more happy news. I finished work until the next school year – yippeee!!!! We had a fun and successful auction and I couldn’t be more pleased about the money and enthusiasm we raised for the school.

I ended up wearing a sparkly Rachel Zoe backless dress. I love it and wish I could wear it everywhere. The night ended with lots of tequila drinks and two of the above three girls on stage singing and playing bongos. Oopsie.

8)  If you’ve read enough of my blogs, you know that once the warm weather hits, I get the baking itch. I made a delicious batch of scones this month with plans to make many more throughout the summer.

9)  My husband and I joined another couple for a Memorial Day weekend in Florida. Which was fantastic, but would have been even more fantastic, were it not in the middle of tropical storm Alberto (eye roll). So pretty much we ate and drank our way through Naples, and had to find other non outdoor things to do like go to the movies, shop….

….and play drag bingo aka “Bitchy Bingo.”

10)  My girlfriend and I did manage to take a nice walk along the beach during a break in the rain. We ended up on a nature pathway back to town through mangroves and air plants and other cool vegetation.

There were little informational plaques along the way, which were helpful and fun. As we came to the end of the walk, we got drenched in a downpour, and found shelter in the Naples Grand hotel, wiping ourselves off in the bathroom with towels, but ultimately this was a good move, as we wandered into the spa area and made massage appointments for the next day (another great indoor activity).

11)  I wish I’d had a day to just walk around and photograph the architecture. So many retro-ish apartment buildings. Reminded me a bit of LA.

12)  I picked up several books at the library, two of which are sequels to books I’ve already read. I chose the translated (from Dutch) Adler-Olsen thriller to start with and so far it is just what I’d hoped for. Quirky characters and fast-paced suspense.

The girls are in school through Friday, so I have a few more days to catch up on things before the wonderful madness of summer break begins. Happy June, everyone!!

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The April List – 2018

Spring finally came to Grosse Pointe at the end of April. The month brought several snow flurries and lots of cold. This morning isn’t a whole lot better at 35 degrees, but the sun is out and it’s supposed to get up to 54, so I’ll take it.

1)  One night we had a weird mix of snow and ice and I woke up to ice covering everything. It was a bit dangerous to be out, as pieces of ice were randomly falling. It was pretty though, which I would have been more appreciative of if it were oh, NOT SPRING!

2)  I started taking Wednesdays off at work again (I was supposed to be doing that all year but could not get the work done over just four work days a week). One Wednesday I went to the Garden, which was pretty depressing as we are a month behind now, but we did plant a bed of stock, and we are all looking forward to an abundant season.

3) The girls and I planted lettuce and kale in our vegetable bed. I can’t do much else in that spot, as our backyard isn’t sunny enough for most vegetables. Our carrots last year grew about an inch. We’ve been successful with beans, but each plant only gives us a handful so I’m trying to utilize the space in a more productive way, albeit must less exciting.

4)  If you read last month’s list, you know I was anticipating my haircut, which I love. It’s the shortest I’ve gone in about 20 years (I just spent 20 minutes trying to find evidence, but could not). I went to The Zealous Root here in town. The gals did an amazing job with what they had to work with.

Disclosure: My stylist also gave me a digital makeover, so I (sadly) look way sweeter in this photo than I do in real life. I mean, look at those eyelashes. They are epic.

5)  While I was waiting for my hair appointment, I read the cheekiest little book about Grosse Pointe, which I must get my hands on. I went to the store where it supposedly came from, but I think copies are long gone. I will keep searching.

6)  I started this month’s book group pick last night and I think it’s going to be a fantastic read. I’m only a few chapters in, but already I am fully engaged in the plot and can’t wait to dive into it again tonight. It puts my other thriller “The Good Girl,” (that I put down in order to start this one) to shame. Not sure I’ll be able to finish it now.

7)  I did manage to drag my behind to the Detroit Body Garage one Wednesday morning, something I have been meaning to do for months. I took it easy-ish, not pushing myself too hard, so I wouldn’t hate the rest of the week. It felt great and I’m going to try to make it a regular thing.

8)  What else can we talk about?…….oh. So the school auction is coming up and I wasn’t going to buy a new dress for it and then I was. I mostly fit this one, except I may have to pin it or keep hiking it up by the armpit, which, whatever. I can’t decide if it looks cool/hip or obnoxious/slutty, but if the other dress that’s coming in the mail doesn’t fit, than this one it is, regardless of how I end up feeling about it.

9)  I went to the new downtown hotspot Prime + Proper, but only for drinks, as we couldn’t get a reservation on short notice. Craft cocktails were delicious and I hear the food is even more so.

10)  I got to hang out with not one, but TWO puppies this month. Soooooooo adorable. How can you stay mad at spring when you get to spend time with a puppy? Okay, I am still mad at spring for the record, but puppy time certainly helped.

11)  I went to karaoke not one, but TWO times this month with new friends of mine. It was so entertaining and fun. I mean, karaoke is pretty much a ridiculous activity, but I am all over it. The crowd is a mixed bag, which I love (and which also adds to the entertainment factor) and it was great to sing on stage again after so long, even if it was just karaoke, and even when the song was not in the right key for me. Ha.

12)  I fit into my snake pants last week, which I can only do about once or twice a year. Which means one of two things. I purposely have been losing weight. Wrong. I’m super stressed. Right?

I’m actually not sure. I don’t feel that stressed, but I suppose I might be. Either way, I was elated to fit into the pants. The kids have been asking me to make scones, which I will probably do today, which means I will have to wait another six months to a year to wear the pants again, but if you’ve tasted the scones, they are completely worth it.

I have high hopes for May. The weather forecast looks good and my work (is supposed to) slowly taper off, giving me more time at the Garden and my own garden, and also more time to be a mom, which has been rough this year with my increased work load, so bring it on, May, I am ready for you!

The December List – 2017

Back to work tomorrow after a two-week break, although much of that break was spent like this….

1) … because I came down with the flu or whatever nasty business was going around.

2) And then the week before that, the kids and husband had it, so I was dealing with that. I feel like December was a blur of snow and cold and sickness, (but we did enjoy our holidays).

Temperatures dropped into the negatives for several days and aside from not being able to really go outside (which I didn’t feel like doing anyway), I am very concerned about my plants and how they will fare come Spring.

3) It snowed quite a bit this December and the first few snowfalls I was happy to shovel because it’s so peaceful, especially at night when no one else is around except for maybe the professional snow blowers who get their jobs done so fast but never do as good of a job as a good old-fashioned shovel. Although I do envy then, don’t get me wrong. And it’s a great workout also.

Luckily or unluckily the next several times it snowed, I was too unwell to shovel, so my husband did all the hard work.

4)  We went to Mr. Paul’s Chophouse for the first time. It’s an old school dimly lit place in Roseville that doesnt’ take reservations and makes Caesar salad tableside and offers huge steaks (which we shared). Sorry the photo is so creepy, but I had to blur the subject. The steaks were really, really good, as was the Caesar. Fish, okay.

5)  We had ugly sweater day at work, so I bought this cheap number on Amazon so I could participate. Of course the girls looooved it and kept wanting to pet the cat and I’ve never gotten so many compliments from the kids at school. Hahahaha so great.

6)  We were so, so happy to have a White Christmas this year. It snowed a bunch on Christmas Eve as we were driving to my husband’s sister’s place for dinner. We drove about 40 mph on the freeway, so it took forever to get there and back, but it was so pretty! And I wasn’t driving!

7)  And I loved sitting around the tree on Christmas morning while it snowed outside while I pretended I wasn’t coming down with the flu.

8) Santa was more generous than previous years, bringing three gifts per child instead of two (I’m not big on giving Santa the spotlight). We hit a snafu when a couple days before Christmas, the little one brought home a letter from Santa saying that he was “working hard to get her the American Girl doll” she asked for. UMMM, heads up, people, please!

The sweet eighth grade buddies who crafted the letter were obviously not thinking about the poor moms and dads while writing the letter. I did request that next year they keep the letter general, as not to cause panic attacks or crying on Christmas morning for next year’s first grade class.

I actually thought about getting said doll, but I don’t usually spend that much, plus….to get it to the house on time I’d have to pay a lot more than regular price, which I wasn’t willing to do on principle. ANYway, my girlfriend helped me out big time by crawling around her attic to find me not one, but two (for both girls) American Girl dolls, complete with accessories, that her now college-age girls had played with.

Such a great save and the girls were thrilled! Sam, not so much.

9) The girls also got a handful of board games, which they asked for. Dominoes, which they have never played before and is such a great game. And of course fun to play with outside of an actual game. They did a lot of stacking and knocking down.

I wasn’t sure if they were ready for Monopoly, but so far so good. The last couple of days, they have played it for HOURS (without fighting!), which not only makes me so happy because it gives me time to do absolutely nothing  chores and cleaning and organizing, but because it was my favorite game as a kid. Although backgammon was a close second (and sometimes first) for a while.

10) I feel like I am one of the last people to read “A Man Called Ove,” which I started reading this month. I didn’t realize there was also a movie until I Googled it to get the book cover. The actor in the movie looks closer to 69 than the character’s 59, but he has that perfect curmudgeon look.

I’m enjoying the book – it is well-written and funny at times and sad at times and all the things that the back cover promises it will be. However, I find it just a tad too realistically depressing. As soon as I’m done with it, I plan to plunge back into the fantasy world with the second book of the “Darker Shade of Magic” series.

11)  Although both of us were still run down from being sick, my husband and I were able to buck up and ring in the New Year with friends at The Dearborn Inn. I even bought a fancy new dress for the occasion to reward myself for all my freelance work I’ve done over the last few months AND even despite not working out for weeks, it still fit perfectly, so hallelujah!

12) Speaking of not working out, I’m really not looking forward to getting back on that bandwagon again. My body is still tired and congested and once you’ve stopped it’s so dang hard to get back on that horse. BUT. I made a pie for Christmas and a cheesecake last week and plan to make scones this afternoon so…..Here. We. Go.

I always make New Year’s Resolutions, but haven’t gotten around to any for 2018 yet. Make more pie, exercise more, buy more plants, eat more plants, work at Detroit Abloom more, something along those lines.

It is full speed ahead tomorrow at work as I gear up for our May auction. Gotta hit that ground running. Waaaaaaah!!!

Wishing you a happy and healthy New Year!!

 

 

The September List – 2017

Fall weather has finally kicked in, after a four-day heatwave with temps in the high 80s. I loved it. What I usually do to get these lists started is look at the photos I’ve taken for the month. Basically this month I’ve taken photos of flowers, which I’ve already shared with you. Soooo….I’m fresh out of ideas. This should be interesting.

1)  I told you about my new camera, but let’s go into detail. It’s a Sony a6000 with an E 50mm/1.8 oss lens, whatever that means. I trusted my friend’s photographer friend’s recommendation and just went with it. At first, it was very frustrating, not knowing all of the hundreds of different options. And I still don’t know them, but I’ve figured out how to at least take a decent photo with some tweaking of shutter speeds and aperture and all of that.

2)  I also bought the Adobe Elements photo editing program that I’ve been playing around with. It’s definitely more intuitive than Photoshop, but is going to take some figuring out, but I am hopeful.

3)  My dahlia garden is in full bloom, having loved the burst of sunshine we got last week. The best light is early evening, which is when this photo was taken.

4)  One of my last great summer homemade meals was this fettucine dish with peas, spinach, parmesan cheese and cream. The only thing that would have made it better is more cream and bacon.

5)  So now I am in charge of my work’s Instagram account. So I feel like I’m constantly taking and editing photos, which is great but also not great, because it leaves me with less time to take the photos I want to take. Thankfully, the other staff and teachers take loads of photos, so I need to rely on them more for images and just edit them.

6)  Over the summer I made some tweaks to my office, since I was going to be spending a lot more time there due to my increased hours. I took out two of the three desks and replaced one with a standing table. I keep forgetting to take an “After” photo, but here’s the before.

I did a LOT of spraying and wiping and vacuuming, you’d think there was a homeless person was living behind that desk. I managed to get some of the dust out, but since it’s an old building, some of it just will not budge.

7)  I still have a few vegetables in my little raised bed in our backyard. The chard is still looking good and there’s a little bit of kale. And a few carrots are hanging around, but no one cares to pick them because we all know they are super small and somewhat bitter, although very carrot-y tasting.

8)  I planted some of the nasturtium seeds from Shirley’s visitation. One in my stone bunny planter and the others near my vegetables. I’ve never planted them before and they grew easily, even with my neglected care.

9)  I replanted the hydrangea Shirley gifted me and I was SO nervous that it wouldn’t take well to its new and shadier surroundings. But I remember her telling me that one of the ways to learn about plants is to just try it. And if they die, then you try again, so I knew it wouldn’t upset her if moving it turned out to be a mistake.

It dropped a lot of leaves in the first month and for a while I thought I was going go lose the plant, and then in the last month or so, it decided to live, and even blossom. It still looks sparse, and this photo was taken when it was really cold outside, so the leaves are tight and look shriveled, but I’m hoping next year it will come back strong.

10)  My girlfriend hosted her annual mom’s back to school night, complete with champagne, donuts, craft cocktails and other fancy treats. I loved summer so much, but there is a giddy feeling that comes over me when the kids go back to school. Not as giddy as in past years, because this year it also means me heading into work vs. staying in my pjs and working from home, but exciting nonetheless.

11)  Our youngest turned six this month. It was the first birthday where I didn’t make the cake or cupcakes. I didn’t feel in the least bit bad about buying a store-bought cake, but I did sort of like the bragging rights of always making my kids’ cakes. Ah well. Local restaurant Marais did a really nice job on the two cakes (couldn’t decide between coconut and chocolate, so of course had to get both). They were a pretty penny, but so much tastier than another bakery would have done.

12) I can’t believe I made it to number 12! Just finished my third Tana French book, Broken Harbor. It was sooooo good. The ending got a little drawn out, but since the rest of the book was so great, I’m only taking off a half star for that. If you love crime fiction, you must give her a try.

I will close by saying that being a working mom with three jobs (I’m not even kidding, I am still doing payroll for my husband, freelance writing on my day off and on the weekends, and working for the school) is completely nuts. Nevermind that we don’t have a cleaning lady like everyone else in town so add that to the list of thing to do on my “off” hours, which is so dumb b/c I’m never off the clock, really.

However, I remain insanely grateful, even guilty, for being able to do all these great things like buy cakes and drink champagne and work in an office with million-dollar views and complain about cleaning my five bathrooms in my beautiful house that is still standing. Have been thinking a lot about all the tragedy around the world, and it’s even making its way into my dreams. Sending good wishes to all of you this crisp fall day. Happy October!

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Dahlias and Then Some

The dahlias at Detroit Abloom and also my house (yippee!) are exploding with blooms.

I was concerned that the one sunny spot in my backyard wasn’t sunny enough for them, but most of the tubers I planted have survived and are going to produce flowers.

Some, however, got nibbled on by bunnies or aren’t getting enough sun and aren’t going to make it. I haven’t cut the plants down on these because you aren’t supposed to take the tubers out of the ground until late fall, early winter, and if I cut the plant down, I won’t know exactly where to dig, even with a marker.

However, this morning I noticed several evil beetles eating the leaves of my precious Cafe au Lait variety and my heart sank. I killed it of course, but I’m sure another one took its place soon afterwards. You can’t tell from the photo, but it’s pretty eaten up. Still so lovely.

I’m obsessed with this variety, because of its pale pink, creamy color. In all their stages, they are stunning. And you never know what you’re going to get color-wise until the bud opens, which is always exciting.

The most perfect Cafe I got was this one (also the close-up first photo). No bugs, beautiful blush color and crazy huge.

Just this week I’ve had five Cafe buds open and I spent a zillion hours photographing them with my new camera. Speaking of new camera, some of these flower photos are slightly out of focus and no, this isn’t on purpose. I’m determined to shoot in manual mode (vs auto), so it’s going to take me a while to figure it all out.

I have at least two purple varieties, one in the front and one in the back. A bunch of the ones I planted were unknowns, as in most cases, when they were digging up tubers at the end of last season, weren’t sure what was what. This year they have a much better labeling system in place, but it IS kind of fun not knowing what you’re going to get.

I can’t remember the variety of the flower in the first photo (Lavender Ruffles?) but the second one is a Vassio Meggos.

I visited Detroit Abloom and the Hoop House (also Detroit Abloom, but a different property) last week with the intention of volunteering, but ended up mostly admiring and taking photos of the flowers.

Their dahlia garden is insane, as you can imagine.

These two are seed dahlias, the bottom photo called Black Beauty.

Aside from the Cafe au Lait, one of my favorites is the cosmos. I love the white ones, and am also a fan of the cupcake cosmos (last photo above).

Other flowers in bloom are Morning Glory,

Japanese anemone,

Zinnias, celosia and a bunch more. There are a few weeks left in our CSA bouquet program. I’m surely going to miss getting mine every week.

The Garden Detroit and Detroit Abloom is having our annual fundraiser next weekend on Sunday, October 1st from 3pm to 7pm, so if you are in the area, please come by! For details Click Here. And if you can’t come, you can still make a donation online.

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The August List – 2017

I feel like I say this every month, but this has been the busiest month of the year by far.

Not counting the awesome vacation we took to upstate New York, which I failed to post about save for one photo last month. sigh I do hope to post a New York list, but in case I don’t get around to it, know that it was amazing. We swam, we read, we played, we gathered, we had pie on my grandmother’s plates. What could be better.

But I press on. I must not fail “The List,” even if it is fast and furiously put together.

1)  This photo pretty much sums up my August. It’s blurry because top secret holiday catalog information, but welcome to my world. Coffee. Eating meals as I stand and type. And papers everywhere. Apropo because that’s how my brain feels.

After landing a couple of freelance writing gigs, I was asked to take on more responsibility and hours at my job at the school. GAH. I am not complaining. I am grateful. So grateful. BUT. Momma needs a cocktail.

2)  Speaking of cocktails, my friend Renee, cocktail maker extraordinaire, whipped up a version of the to die for concoction we enjoyed at Detroit City Distillery. It consisted of a mixture of mango habanero and lavender simple syrups and couple other secret ingredients and it was soooooo good.

And aren’t we so healthy with our sliced veggies, but this is before I asked her to please go get the Chex Mix already.

3)  We had peaches at The Garden! Last year we were only able to enjoy a handful, as many succumbed to disease or an animal of some sort. This season we had a whole bunch and I made peach cobbler with blueberries. Happy happy.

4)  There was a meet and greet on Belle Isle for the Detroit women who participated in the FEMALE photo project. I’m so very glad I went, as I get so nervous about these things. But it was just lovely.

I think I was the oldest one there which…not that it matters really, but I’m usually NOT the oldest person there, so I took note, but anyway I loved being surrounded by all the positive energy. We’re going to try and make it a monthly or bi-monthly thing. I’m in.

FEMALE photographer and meeting organizer Kacy brought a bunch of rose (too lazy to make accent over the E) single serves she found at Trader Joe’s and guess what? They were pretty stinking great! And I love the can’s shape.

5)  We viewed the eclipse the old fashioned way (thanks to my husband, otherwise we would’ve had nothing) and it was actually pretty cool and very fun.

Noticed all the trippy shadows, but it didn’t cross my mind  to take a photo. I’m so bummed about that, but those make the best memories, right?, where you are just in the moment.

6)  I love all the murals at Eastern Market, especially in early evening when the shops have closed and the sun is going down. I keep meaning go down there one day for the sole purpose of taking photos, but it hasn’t happened.

I did made a quick pit stop at Detroit City Distillery after boxing one night (because now that I am a cocktail snob, I need to only drink very expensive vodka) and got a couple pics.

7)  Our Rose of Sharon plant exploded with blossoms this month, as it always does in late summer. The only way to enjoy it is out my daughter’s bedroom window or by walking to the side of the garage. I could cut off some branches to bring them inside, but they don’t last long in a vase. Beauties.

8)  My dahlias from Detroit Abloom have begun to open and they are gorgeous. I wasn’t sure how they would fare in the backyard because we don’t get much sun, (and admittedly some plants will not produce flowers), but I am pleasantly surprised at how well they are doing.

Also admittedly, I don’t love orange flowers (I’m sorry, nature! I’m working on it!), and a few of the dahlias I have are orange (many of the tubers I planted were marked “unknown” variety, long story).

And yes, they are pretty, too, in their own right, and to spite me they look extra pretty in this photo, but the Cafe au Laits are just magnificent. Wait until you see the latest one (which I picked yesterday, which was technically September, so it doesn’t belong here).

9)  The beekeeper who takes care of the hives at The Garden Detroit and Detroit Abloom held a fundraiser this month. It was at the Detroit City Distillery warehouse (can’t seem to get away from that place), which is housed in the old Stroh Ice Cream building. Which by the way if you haven’t read “Beer Money” it’s a really interesting read.

It was very loud, so it was hard to hear Brian’s speech, but the parts I did hear were fascinating. Bees are amazing. Please support them in any way you can!

10) I forgot to bring my book one day to the Yacht Club. Luckily, my 3rd grader brought hers and it was not a Rainbow Fairy or Geronimo Stilton, but this one about a boy who rents a room at a house where miniature dragons come to life. I only got a few chapters in (girls still not great swimmers, so I have to keep an eye out) and now the book has been returned to the library, but I do hope to finish it some day, it had potential.

11)  I finished “A Gentleman in Moscow” this week and I highly recommend. Take a little while to get into if you don’t know your Russian political history, but it was intelligent and wonderfully written and the characters are deep and fleshed out. Story line is interesting as well. I wondered how such a long book could be based in one very centralized location, but the author tackles that issue with ease. Bravo.

12)  Woo-hoo! I did it! Number 12. On a more somber note, my heart is with Houston and the surrounding areas and states affected by Harvey. Our girls have been so fortunate, so it is difficult to explain certain things, but we talked about it quite a bit and at my suggestion they made cards for some of the families.

If you have not yet donated, please consider it. There are many local organizations who will make sure your money 100% goes to helping Harvey victims specifically. One being www.legacycollective.org (a sorority sister’s organization).

Over and out, August! Sorry you got the shaft. It’s not you, it’s me. Happy September! Back to school yeesssssss!

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