Snapshots of Summer

This is merely a test. A test of my ability to use my scant photography skills to tell a story.

One of my personal blogging goals is to improve my photography skills. Truly.

So, here I go!

 

Top left: a picture of our present day, imperfect, life. As you can surmise, no acrobatic moves were employed to capture this scene.

You see my very plain, cheap looking kitchen countertops (which someday before long will be replaced with something that actually looks cool). There’s the bunch of lavender I bought because I was at a Lavender Festival a couple of weeks ago with my best Colorado friend, Adrianne, and it seemed like the thing to do. My original intention was to google what to actually do with this lavender; I overhead the lavender selling lady at the booth where I purchased this telling another customer about hanging it upside down and waiting for the oil to drip off of it. But I ended up getting distracted by life, per my usual, and 14 days (give or take) later the bunch of lavender remains on the top shelf of my kitchen counter. I guess I’ll have to toss it soon, but I certainly am up for suggestions if you have any.

Speaking of the Lavender Festival, Adrianne and I had a very relaxing time chatting and listening to tunes on the way home. I shared with her my new favorite summer song.

Adrianne informed me that this particular song was actually a cover of “Doin’ Time” by Sublime, which came out in 1996, so of course we listened to that version as well. I would have known about Sublime’s version of this tune had I not been busy mothering my spawn, who were 3 and 4 at the time. The genre of music I listened to at that time was “new country”. It was a phase of mine that thankfully passed.

What’s in the orange bowl? It’s a “rustic” bread salad, a recipe that came highly recommended by my beloved sister,  which was surprisingly not a hit. But more than likely, I used the wrong kind of salad dressing. Then there’s the half pint of vodka, which has become our go-to liquor (on those days when we are craft-beered-out) along with the Mio stuff that you add to said vodka for flavor (another suggestion by my sis, though this one was enjoyed much more than the bread salad thingy).

In the brown bag, there was a delectable cinnamon roll that I scarfed down the morning after taking this picture. It was purchased at the Farmer’s Market closest to me. Someone’s got to support small businesses-bakeries included, right? It would have been rude to do otherwise.

Then there’s a selfie taken in our “en suite” (‘scuse me, I’m feeling fancy and I’ve probably consumed too much HGTV).  In case you were wondering, this pic is very much not inspired by a Kardashian.

Then there’s the picture from ye olden times (resting atop my sister’s much nicer looking kitchen countertops), featuring my Grandma Pearl (one of two, not sure if I’ve ever mentioned this) as a child with her wacky hairdo. Youngest spawn has a mass of thick hair with a number of cowlicks.

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Check out that tongue! You got some competition Gene Simmons!

 Of course, being the obnoxious human that I am, I texted the photo to alert them that their hair is indeed genetic.

So for the actual beautiful pictures: the skies at my sister and brother in law’s place (aka my happiest place to be) in far northern Minnesota, when we were there last month visiting the fam. These pics capture the moments when we were sitting around the campfire, shooting the shit on a warm July night.

Then there’s the two pics of Hubs and I enjoying our first experience at Red Rocks. In the middle bottom pic, we are tailgaiting in the parking lot prior to the show. Good times. 

The pic next to that is of my new pedicure. One of my self-care “quirks” is that my feet need to look nice and pretty at all times. I don’t know where this comes from. Probably because sandals are my very favorite type of footwear and I don’t believe in showcasing them on gnarly looking feet (or seeing others showcasing their gnarly looking feet in sandals for that matter). I love that the nail lady (there’s a proper term for this, right? Technician perhaps?) offered to add a flowery design on my big toes. She did it free hand, using three different colors. I found this quite impressive. I’ll be back to see her again for sure.

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Me with Ray-darling. Yes, I’ve become one of those people who shops online for fun bandanas for my dog to wear.

I invite each of you to share your imperfect, weird, real-life photos that tell a story about what you’ve been up to this summer.

May your days be happy!

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It’s your day, Gorgeous Grandmas!

Today is the holiday you didn’t even know existed, ladies! It is Gorgeous Grandmother’s Day!

While searching the interwebs for writing fodder (aka for shits and giggles) a couple of months back, I decided to search for national holidays to see what came up. Once I saw that 7/23 was Gorgeous Grandmother’s Day, I put it on my calendar to remind myself of it.

You’re welcome!

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As any of you who have been following my blog likely knows, I am a grandmother. My  my very first post, in fact, was inspired by this fact.

And like any legit Grandma, I am sharing pics of my beautiful, smart, and witty grandson with you all.

 

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Newborn Christopher on his first visit to Grandma’s house
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Christopher and I, a few years later on a visit to see Grandma in Colorado

How Gorgeous Grandma’s Day came to be (I did the research, man): In the early 80’s, a 50 year old recent graduate (woo hoo!) from Wellesley College decided that there needed to be a special day honoring Grandmothers. She felt that for many people, the title “Grandma” evoked an image of elderly women who had little to contribute to society. She was thinking about grandmothers over 50 who don’t conform to that image, so she decided to flip the script. She recognized that grandmothers can be not just wise, but also sassy, ambitious, and energetic.

In honor of Gorgeous Grandma’s Day , and because as you all know, I like to share, here’s some anecdotes from interactions I have had with Christopher.

Recently during one of our weekly video chats, Christopher happily declared that he’s going to first grade, “after I finish Kindergarten!”

Then there was his 4th birthday celebration here with us in Colorado. At the end of a busy day checking out the Denver aquarium and having a special lunch, while awaiting his birthday cake, Hubs looked across the dining room table and said with a chuckle in his voice, “Well, I know that some of us are going to sleep really well tonight”. Christopher’s response? “And that would be me”. Ha ha!

What kind of Grandma am I? A Gen X one for certain, who likes to focus on the future:

Like watching the movie “Ugly Dolls” with him and having a discussion about it; seeing how he feels about people who are different than him. How they are treated and should be treated.

The kind who can’t wait to see him play with Radar. I suspect they will be best friends.

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The one who hopes to be present when he earns his first belt in Tae Kwon Do. Or plays in his first organized sporting event, such as baseball or soccer.

My wonderful mother in law, who is seriously the best grandma any two kids could have, has been known to say “If I knew how much fun it was to be a grandma, I would have done that first!” While of course technically impossible, I get the gist. And I really appreciate it.

Fellow grandma’s, how are you going to celebrate this special day, now that you are aware of its existence?  Please share pics of your gorgeous selves and/or anecdotes of your gorgeous grandchildren in the comments!

 

How I’m Rolling Write Now

I think I’m in this writing thing, or maybe I should say blogging thing, for the long haul. I’ve been at it for over 2 years now, and while I don’t have a ton of followers, I continue to gain them.

I have no intention of monetizing this blog. First off, I don’t have the time or energy for this. Or the interest. It just wouldn’t feel right to me. That’s not to say that I don’t fervently hope that at some point in the not-too-distant future, someone somewhere will stumble across this blog and be like “this woman needs to have her own column in our online magazine” or, “We need to make this woman a part of our writing team”,  or “I need to be this woman’s agent because she’s going to write a bestseller some day”.

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I think over time, I’ve honed in on the primary (but most certainly not only) topics I want to write about: food, music, travel, and pop culture. But I really want to write more posts about politics; however, experience has taught me that this does not result in many likes or comments; nor does it garner me new followers. On the flip side, however, if I were to flash forward 20 years into the future, do I want my spawn’s spawn or their spawn to uncover my writings and be disgusted by the fact that with all the turmoil and injustice that occurred on a daily basis due to the Trump presidency, I chose to write about frivolous things like my favorite playlists or the travel experiences/dreams I had, as opposed to using my voice to rail against the forces of evil? I wouldn’t want to be perceived in the future as being complicit in these tumultuous times.

This is such a huge conundrum for me as a human being and a writer. Perhaps I’m overthinking it. I am such a champ at that.

What I am most certainly not a champ at is the whole tech side of blogging. I joined another Facebook bloggers group a few months ago, which I haven’t been engaged in at all. Because the members are clearly in a different league than I. They are far more ambitious and I don’t understand their language. I feel like if I were to decide to become a fully participating member of this group, translating their lingo would eat up so much of my time and energy that I’d be tempted to throw my hands up and quit blogging altogether. So I don’t even know where to begin. What questions to ask of them or how to phrase them.

If only I had an intern for a few hours a week to do the behind-the-scenes techy stuff for me. I could pay them with home baked goodies and free wi-fi. Pimp Radar out for free puppy cuddles.

Then there’s the fiction I have been working on. Or, more to the point, wrote a bit of but got distracted by life and kind of forgot about. Will I ever actually share it? If I do, how might it be received? If it’s well-received, do I have it within me to continue the story and create something really special, entertaining, funny, relatable, and financially rewarding for me and Hubs down the road so we can have the most awesome early retirement life ever?

These are my honest-to-God struggles these days when it comes to this blogging thing.

How about you, my fellow bloggers? How are you all rolling “write” now? This curious mind would love to know.

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Write now: Just the Facts, Mostly

 

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Let me start by saying I don’t have enough time to write or read these days. This is the bottom line, so I’m going to cut to the chase.

Facts:

I have been using what time and mental energy I have this past week working on my first blog post for the non-profit I work for. I just submitted it to our Executive Director today. This is a gamble for me as I haven’t worked for her for too long a time so I don’t have a good read on how she will respond to it: aka if it’s good enough to be published on our website.

But it’s not in my hands anymore so I’m going to do my best to just let. it. be.

Hubs and I will be leaving soon to spend a few days in Minnesota with my side of the family. First “activity” on the agenda upon our arrival is to attend the burial of my mom’s ashes at the cemetery. It felt so weird to write that sentence. Mom passed back in late February. I’ve accepted this. Yet this will be the first time since that we’ve gone back to my hometown. Suffice it to say I’m feeling emotional about it. Unsettled.

On the up side, I am thoroughly enjoying the companionship of our new pup, Radar. He’s so very smart and is now doing very well at our weekly obedience training sessions (likely because they are being conducted on a one-on-one basis with the trainer). I’m anticipating missing the hell out of this mutt while we are away. And anxious about how he’ll do amongst the other dogs where he’ll be boarded.

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Crazy mutt!

 

Summer is nearly half over. I can hardly believe it. It’s truly been great so far however, for which I am grateful. We have many activities to look forward to between now and the end of August. The one I am probably most looking forward to is the Wisconsin cabin getaway, where we’ll be bunking with my in laws, my sister in law, and our beautiful, smart, curious, funny, delightful 5 year old grandson. There’s a couple of concerts and a visit here in Colorado with Spawn #2 in the mix as well.

I could say that due to all this busyness the frequency of my blog posts may decrease. I don’t intend for that to be the case, and in fact my fear that this blog will suffer as a result of blogging for my work website, may very well ensure that I will indeed continue to publish a post each and every week.

Often, as a matter of fact, because I have so much I want to write about on this blog, I can envision increasing my posts to twice weekly.

But…time. Right? There never seems to be enough of that stuff.

That is precisely why this particular post is not being posted today, which is Wednesday (my usual time slot). I’m aiming for a post next Wednesday where I will share in more detail where my head is at regarding writing/blogging. Hint: it’s all over the fucking place.

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My draft folder has 18 sorta started blog posts at the moment. Makes me wish I could take a whole day (or 5 or 8) to go into “boss bitch” mode and edit the crap out of it. I would feel so much more settled if I could somehow make that happen.

Maybe this time when I’m on vacation, I will actually use the chromebook instead of just slugging it from airport to airport, to the motel and to my sister’s house. Now that’s an idea. One of so, so, so many.

I hope you all hang in there with me.

In the meantime, enjoy a little flashback in time from my teenage years!

 

 

 

Woo hoo!

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Mona at  https://www.waywardsparkles.com/ nominated me for the Sunshine Blogger award. Yay!! I would be doing cartwheels but I’ve never had the physical coordination or strength to do such a thing.

Instead, I’m going to follow the rules.

And once I’ve followed the rules below, those bloggers who accept my nomination are to follow the rules as well.

Here they are:

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you.
  • Respond to the questions (see below)
  • Nominate new blogs to receive the award themselves and ask them to share 5-10 random facts about themselves (I’m sharing 5 myself-again, see below)
  • List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award icon (so many to choose from!) in your post and/or on your blog.
  • Notify the nominees by commenting on their blog post.

First off, a big thank you to Mona! We both recently discovered each other’s blogs and I am very surprised and honored that she thought well enough of my blog to nominate me! I look forward to being amused and inspired by Mona and her blog for a long time to come.

Now here’s the part where I nominate 5 other bloggers for the Sunshine Blogger Award.

CJ @ https://feedingonfolly.com/. This woman has quite the way with words. She is insightful, clever, funny, and kind. I look forward to reading her posts every week. 

Alice @ https://lutheranliar.com/. I came upon her in a Facebook bloggers group (Blogging and a Beverage) and she never fails to crack me up with her true life stories for which she always punctuates her blog posts with the best (often nostalgic, which I totally dig) pictures. 

Annie @ https://givememeatloaf.com/. Like Alice, Annie also includes awesome pictures in her blog posts. Usually they are of delicious food she has eaten, some during her travels and some made by her and/or her adorable husband in her own kitchen. Her posts are fun to read and often inspire my foodie and travel tendencies. 

Then there’s Katie @ https://fattymccupcakes.net/. This lady is freaking hilarious! She tells tales of her struggles with weight and of  her travel adventures. Katie also is a master of sharing her comedic take on real life observations and annoyances. 

And finally, there’s Nicole @ https://entertainingmess.wordpress.com/. Her posts are thoughtful and well-written. Very sweet and authentic.  She often writes about her journey as a mom to two young kiddos and she sometimes shares recipes with us. 

I have great hopes that the above nominees will play along here and include 5 random facts about themselves. I say this because I think they are all awesome!

********5 Random Facts About Me**********

  1. I played the clarinet from middle school through high school. While I hated having to wear the odd-looking, heavy and hot Q-Tip shaped helmet while marching I absolutely loved the whole experience. However, I am certain if you gave me a clarinet right now there’s no way I’d be able to play a recognizable tune on it. It’s not like riding a bike for me. Not like I can ride a bike anymore either, folks, but that’s another story for another day.

  2. I have a brother who is 10 years older than me. I didn’t know until I was 14 that we didn’t have the same father. While completely shocked, it didn’t really matter; it didn’t change how I felt about him at all. But again–shocking.

  3. I say this with cautious optimism (knowing there’s a million different reasons, some I haven’t yet imagined but probably will because I’m an overthinker,  that this won’t come to fruition): I have recently been tapped to write a weekly blog for the non-profit I work for. Yikes! I’m nervous but excited. Wish me luck!

  4. I have never been to Europe. Of course, I want to go there (who doesn’t right?!). I actually have peeps who live there and it would tickle me so to visit them in their natural habitat. Hubs and I are shooting for a trip to Europe in 2020.

  5. I find the concept of having a “spirit animal” quite fascinating. Without a doubt, mine is the body of a turtle and the head and tail of a squirrel. Because as a blogger (and a 52 year old slightly out of shape white American female), I am physically a bit of a slow mover. But I suspect I have a tad bit of ADD as during my waking hours, my brain is swirling with plans and ideas. I really need to have an artist I know and love draw me a portrait of this mystical creature. Spawn #2, I’m looking at you.

Mona included the John Denver song “Sunshine on My Shoulders” in her “Sunshine Blogger Award” nomination post, which I love. I am following suit. Yes, I am being a copy-cat.

Caveat: While I am a humongous Beatles fan, I decided to do something different and use this funky, creative version instead of the original.  Aren’t these kiddos so cute?!

Thanks again, Mona!

 

 

 

 

Bingeworthy TV

I was planning on putting on my “reviewer of t.v. fare” hat on and wax on about how I love the Amazon Prime series “Catastrophe” and how you should all watch it.

But then I caught the Netflix series “Dead to Me” and decided you need to watch that one too.

First things first.

About Catastrophe: this show is, to me, the perfect blend of romance and humor. The writing is simply brilliant. And the very last episode was perfection. So unlike every other show that has a sucky last ever episode. Every single person who worked on this show in any capacity will benefit from this being on their resume.

Weirdly, the last episode included a joke about ceramic bananas (in reference to one of the main characters mom, played by the late great Carrie Fisher). While I believe one could posit that this is a great name for the next great rock band, in the vein perhaps of Greta Van Fleet, I related to it on a personal level.

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This ceramic banana bowl was bequethed to me by my grandmother-in-law before she passed. It now sits as a “catch all” atop my dining room table.

 

Short description of this show: it’s a highly relatable, humorous tale of a marriage between middle agers Sharon, from Scotland, and Rob, from the good old USA. It’s set in England. The two meet, get between the sheets in record time, and before you know it, they are married and Sharon is pregnant. They muddle through life together, have another kid, and presumably live happily ever after (that is why the last ever episode ROCKED.)

Here’s a clip that I think gives you a taste of how this show rolls.

 

Other factors at play throughout the series include both Sharon and Rob’s struggles in their careers (she an elementary school teacher, he an ad man), their periodically dysfunctional family members and friends, and Rob’s struggle with alcoholism. The two of them banter just like real life married people. I so heart this show.

Now onto “Dead to Me”. This show is about sisterhood. The two main characters, played by Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini, are tied together by fate. One accidentally kills the other’s husband with her car (it was dark out and they didn’t see him in time), and they wind up in group grief therapy together. The two actresses play off each other so well. Their character’s personalities are quite different, which makes for interesting dialogue. There are twists and turns and plenty of drama, but plenty of laughs as well. I found it incredibly easy, not to mention enjoyable, to watch episode after episode in the span of a couple of weeks. This first season had a “holy shit” sort of ending which makes me so curious where the writers will take the story next. I can only assume there will be a Season 2.

I have recently begun watching “Little Big Lies”, which may be my next bingeworthy series. I was interested in watching it largely due to the actresses in the series: Nicole Kidman. Reese Witherspoon. Laura Dern. Shailene Woodley. Zoe Kravitz.

Now, I have only watched the first 5 episodes of Season 1 thus far, so for anyone who has seen the entire series: No spoilers, please. I love surprises!

My take on this show (aka why I find it bingeworthy): it is set in beautiful California. The camera work showing scenes of the ocean is spectacular. The characters live in beautiful homes and have fabulous wardrobes.

I think the opening credits provide an excellent example of the aesthetics in this show. And this song is gorgeous, right?

Beyond the aesthetics is the complexity of the five primary female characters. They are all dynamic, multi-layered, strong women. They are moms first; they fiercely love their children. They have love/hate relationships with each other and in some cases with their spouses. The superb acting and storytelling are highly compelling. I just know there are deep, dark secrets going on under the surface and I am looking forward to their unveiling.

So tell me, my fellow bingers, what shows are bingeworthy to you? Please share comments on the shows I mentioned if you have also found them bingeworthy.

A supposedly simple trip to Target

Like everyone and their brother (and sister, and second cousin twice removed and ex-mother in law and all their old high school friends), I ventured out for a Target run on Saturday morning.

I was thoroughly enjoying myself. I picked up the cutest summer tank top; navy blue with little pineapples sprinkled all over it. It was $9 on the clearance rack. I couldn’t resist.

I waltzed through the aisles, enjoying some “me” time, congratulating myself in my head over the smart purchases I was making.

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Then, as I was about to open up the freezer door to procure the Cool Whip needed to make what Hubs refers to as my “Boob Cake” (explanation and recipe will be found at the end of this post), which was to be shared at a BBQ with church members that evening, I was approached by a bespectacled woman with jet black hair in her 60’s who announced that she and her friend were with the “Church of God”. I told her curtly that I had my own church, thankyouverymuch. That shut her up right quick.

In retrospect, I should have retorted that I in fact was a member of the “Church of Satan”. You know, just to see the look on her face.

As I proceeded to gather the rest of the items on my shopping list, I found myself seething about this interaction. I went from ” I ought to notify Target management that these church people are accosting random shoppers” to “this is precisely what turns people off to church/religion”, to “how condescending that this woman would presume that I am not an upstanding church member and Christian”?

So there went my Target shopping buzz.

Once all my items were in my cart, I moseyed over to one of the checkout lines. I’m thinking to myself “it feels so oddly quiet and still. And why are the lines so freaking long?”. I was informed by the woman in front of me that there had just been an announcement that all of the registers were down. Uggh.

So while processing this information and determining what choices I could/should make in this situation, my eye catches a cool looking Led Zeppelin t-shirt worn by a slightly disheveled looking middle aged guy with glasses. He then turns his back to me.

You know how in public sometimes, you happen upon men (and sometimes women, to be fair) who have chosen to wear ill-fitting pants? Like saggy-ass pants hung low enough to see a little crack?

Well, this guy went above and beyond in the saggy-ass category. His entire,  bare, mind you-as in Full Commando, skinny ass was on full display. And it appeared to have a rash on it. He didn’t pull up his drawers for a full 3 seconds, so that is how I was able to ascertain that he is in need of some diaper rash ointment. Perhaps that is what he had in his bucket.

Wow. Just wow. Right?

Then a young female Target employee notified all of us that complimentary Starbucks was available for the taking and that they would save our filled shopping carts for up to two days. I opted to abandon my cart and head to the Starbucks inside the store. The line, of course, was far too long to justify a free Chocoloco latte chai frappe cappucino, so I headed out and purchased my grocery items at the Sprouts next door.

Now that the sheer horror of the downed registers has passed, I will be making a quick trip to Target in the next couple of days.

God, I hope that damn pineapple shirt is there waiting for me.

Strawberry Banana Marquise (aka Boob cake):

Quick story about this, my favorite favorite summer dessert: I found the recipe online eons ago and printed it out. First time I made it, I marveled at how pretty it looked, what with the fluffy white Cool Whip covering the mound of angel food cake/vanilla pudding/bananas combo with a whole strawberry perched on top of it. Hubs advised me it looked like a big white boob. Hardy Har har.

Here’s the recipe:

Keep in mind the whole process, start to finish, takes about 4 1/2 hours!

Ingredients:

1 12-16 oz. prepared angel food cake

2 cups sliced strawberries (plus 9 whole strawberries for garnish)

1/2 cup strawberry preserves

1  3.4 oz. package instant vanilla pudding mix

1 1/4 cup skim milk

2 ripe bananas

1  12 oz. container Cool Whip

Line a 3 qt. bowl with plastic wrap. Slice the cake into 20 pieces. In a small bowl, combine the sliced strawberries with the strawberry preserves and set aside.

In a medium bowl, prepare the pudding according to package directions-but only use 1 1/4 cup milk, stirring until the pudding thickens. Fold in 2 cups of the Cool Whip; refrigerate the rest.

Slice the bananas into the strawberry mixture and stir well to coat them.

Cover the bottom of the lined bowl with 4-5 cake slices. Cover with half  of the strawberry-banana mixture and spread evenly. Cover with half of the pudding mixture and spread that evenly. Add a layer of cake slices (maybe 7), pressing lightly. Repeat layers of strawberry-banana mixture and pudding mixture. Finish with a last layer of about 8 cake slices, pressing lightly. Wrap bowl in plastic and refrigerate at least 4 hours.

Just before serving, remove outer plastic wrap and cover bowl with serving plate and invert. Remove bowl and plastic wrap. Frost with remaining Cool Ship. Slice the remaining strawberries in half lengthwise and space evenly around the bottom of the finished marquise. Slice to serve.

 

Tales from an optimist transplanted from Wisconsin to Colorado. Finding silver linings, lifting others up, sharing positively good stuff

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