first

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Restorative Yoga or an Organized Pantry for my Birthday?

By Lisa Batten Kunkleman

An organized pantry with fresh bread, Goldfish, and Oreos. Is that too much to ask of my family for my birthday? I even Ashared an over-the-top neat pantry I saw on Facebook so my peeps would know what I meant. No problem. I gave them four days notice.IMG_7490

As a back up plan, I asked my husband to take a restorative yoga class with me which would be taught by our daughter Sarah, the Yogi. That request was simpler, so I thought maybe the yoga wish would come true. For those who don’t know, restorative yoga is not as intense as other types of yoga. It’s more about stretchin’ and chillin’. At the end, it’s peaceful music and lying on a mat with pillows and a blankie. Good stuff. Check out the downward dog.18C1C4A3-4E58-464C-858A-84EB108886CB_1_105_c

I didn’t expect the organization wish to happen but lo and behold, my daughter and son-in-law came through with a box of organizers and glass canisters. As we sat around their firepit toasting birthday marshmallows, my mind was already at out house in the pantry, tossing and rearranging. I dove right into the project about ten pm when we got home. Woo Hoo. I filled recycling bins and the trashcan with expired foods and saw shelf space galore. Of course I feel guilty about all that waste… I feel guilty for potentially squishing toads if I walk through wet grass. Don’t judge me.

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Remember the kids’ “Highlights Magazine” had a section where you were supposed to find the differences in two pictures or find the hidden objects? Well, here’s your chance to be older and wiser at this seek and find game. If you’re really bored, see how many foods got trashed, moved or organized. Good luck.  I shall not tell you how many changes there are. You’re adults now. You don’t need hints nor prizes, since there are none.

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Now doesn’t that feel better? It does to me. Thanks for a great birthday. Now how about that yoga? I need some restoration.

14 comments

Driven to Drink Coke and Peanuts: Senior Traffic Jam in Medical Building Stairwell

By Lisa Batten Kunkleman

I just finished drinking a little bottle of Coke with peanuts in it, and I am relaxed enough to tell the tale that drove me to it. I don’t drink soda. If Coke can clean a car battery, I feel funny putting it in my stomach, but today, I didn’t care. Here goes:

 

A doctor in scrubs and mask came to the reception desk where I was checking out of my cardiologist’s office. He said to the woman behind the glass doors, “The elevators aren’t working and there is a jam up of people on the third floor.”

 

The receptionist smiled and replied absently, “Okay,” as she gave me my next appointment reminder sheet.

 

I headed to the elevators thinking I’d see people waiting at the doors. Nope. Pushing the button did nothing. They were indeed not working, so I opened the door to the stairs. I could not believe the view on the landing below which would be between floor six, where I was, and floor five. One elderly man with long braids gasped out from behind his mask, “Hold the door.” I did.

 

Below him were several seventy and eighty-year olds sitting on the steps or propped against the rail trying to catch their breath. I was relieved to be going down, not up, as these people were attempting. What the heck is a cardiology doctor doing on the sixth floor? Seems like a bad idea. Especially when all of us patients and some caregivers are all masked up and expecting six feet distancing. Well, that couldn’t happen in a stairwell, let me tell you. I wove my way through and held my breath in my closest encounters and let it out saying, “Excuse me,” as I aimed my mask away from them.

 

When I got to open air in a hallway, I was so shaken up by all those poor people wedged on each floor landing trying to catch their breath, that I went right when I should have gone left. I ended up on the incorrect skybridge, crossing the street toward the hospital instead of the parking garage.  I requested guidance from two ladies sitting at the other side of the walkway.

 

One lady tried to help but bless her heart, she was swimming around in the Kool-Aid and didn’t know what flavor it was. She led me off in one direction only turning around when I told her I didn’t need to go to the hospital. We retraced our steps and travelled beyond our starting point. Once we crossed the correct skybridge, and spotted the “parking garage that way” sign, she said, “I’ve never been on this side before. I didn’t know this was here.”

 

Despite all of her kind efforts, she could use a little more training in giving directions. Maybe I taught her something that will help the next person.

 

In the parking garage, my car did not exist. I walked up and down every ramp and floor, searching the maze that is a modern garage. All those levels change as you walk, if you didn’t know. I knew I was on floor four but it moved around. I promise this is true. Try walking up and down those ramps sometimes. I got four thousand steps looking for my precious car. I was thinking of calling my husband to come pick me up and drive me around the garage to find that car that I knew was in there somewhere, but first in exasperation, I said aloud, “Dear Lord, help me find my car.”

 

Guess what? It was around the next turn. Voila. I was hot and tired but I was not stuck in a stairwell with dozens of masked elders. I hope someone came to their aid. I entreated several workers who radiated authority, to help those poor climbers of Stairwell Everest. That was before I got lost. Hopefully one of them knew what flavor their Kool-Aid was.

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That’s how my day drove me to drink. That Coke and peanuts sure did the trick.

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The peanuts are inside the Coke. I get a bite of nut with every swig. Yum.

18 comments

Out With the New, In With the Old

By Lisa Batten Kunkleman

 

I’ve done it again. Waited so long to update the house that it’s now in style. It only took twenty or thirty years. That would be great if I wasn’t sick of looking at our green bedroom and beige and blue bathroom. Our house is filled with the ceramic tile that is the newest thing in-demand for 2020. That’s hard to believe.

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Piles on the bed preparing for paint

 

Who knew that our blue tub, our green tub, and our purple tub would be so popular after fifty-two years of existence in our old farmhouse, my husband’s family home? I asked Siri if ceramic tile was really back in style and he, (my Siri is an Australian man’s voice), showed me samples of tiny tile squares like the formerly white ones on the floor in our blue bathroom. Oh my gosh. I should put out a warning that you cannot keep that grout clean, no matter what kind of sealants you put on it. DON’T DO IT!

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I have no plans to remove the tubs although the matching toilets are all gone except our glorious blue one. I hear that people would pay big bucks for our non-water-saver powder blue potty. It flushes great. We still have the purple sink in our youngest daughter’s bathroom and the pair of green sinks in the bathroom between our sons’ rooms. The boys don’t realize how in-style they are.

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For kicks and belly laughs years ago, the boys’ bathroom was painted orange above the green wall tile thanks to their older sister’s obsession with the color. It was her room at the time. Now I’m ready to say, “Out with the orange grove.” A blending light green paint will do. Like a peaceful meadow.

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After: Peaceful Meadow since I can’t remember the real paint name

That funky green in our bedroom is back in style, and of course I want a pale barely-gray bedroom. I hear gray is on the way out—replaced by beige or greige as the with-it people call it. Oh my gosh. I’ve been there and done that whole earth tone beige, antique white, and tweedy looking fashion, complete with country curtains and wooden accessories. I refuse to go back there.

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Really cool range but a fire hazard so it had to go. That was kinda sad. 

I had my fill of Harvest Gold, Avocado Green, and the Coppertone appliances from the sixties and seventies in our farm house. Around here, we don’t get rid of things until they are really, really dead. Or dangerous. We had not one but two brown stoves that canned decades of produce, but thanks to some remodeling four years ago, they were declared a fire hazard and had to go.

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Note the cup on the stove and manuals lying around. And the white kitchen that was so in style two years ago. Not anymore. This is real life. Not a stage. 

 

Today, the painters are coming, and I lied when asked in a text, “Have you picked paint colors yet?” I replied, “Yes.” But from five am this morning until seven, I searched my phone in the darkness of my newly in-style green room that I used to love but now detest. I looked at paint colors galore with fabulous names. Potentially Purple would work in our purple bathroom if I didn’t abhor the color. It’s my husband’s favorite color so I won’t mention this name to him. Dragon’s Blood is the new orange which would go well with my sons’ affinity for fantasy novels with fiery creatures. Practical Beige would be ok if I had not disavowed beige tones.

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That’s a textured rug on the floor. Not dirty tile. 

 

Our newly remodeled kitchen is painted in now out-of-style Agreeable Gray and Acceptable Gray with white trim. I hear white trim is now a no-no and darker trim and doors are in. Well, that figures. I just read that black kitchens are the newest rage. All the celebrities are getting them. Nope. Give me light.

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Sigh…

I’m thinking of using a whiteish sky color called Sigh for our bathroom and Icicle for our bedroom. Maybe the chilly name will help cool off my hot flashes. The hall and foyer may be coated with Comet Dust, the paint color, not the actual thin film along the baseboards it will cover.

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Icycle is so cool.

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I’ve always been a step behind the latest “in” thing so why change now. I’m into doing life in my own way whether it’s hairstyle that’s long and shaggy because I don’t want to go to Great Clips during a pandemic, or paint that lightens my house. There’s enough gloomy darkness in the world now that I need to brighten the corner where we are. Dark may be the new bright but not here. Out with the new, in with the old, paint, that is.

 

July 16, 2020
lisakunk

13 comments

Meditation or Irritation?

By Lisa Batten Kunkleman

Not that I understand how to meditate properly but I’m pretty sure I picked the worst possible guided meditation from an app I loaded on my phone. It was about “being here” and started with birds and water-sounds. The first part was delightful. Soothing. That’s what I’m talking about.

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I was shocked from my bliss when out of nowhere a man’s voice began intruding on my relaxation every few seconds, telling me, “Bring your attention to this place which is already here. As you bring yourself only to the sense of presence, ignore the pecking of outside things.”

What outside things? His instructions were my only pecking outside things. He said, “Don’t worry about anything like phone calls, interfering thoughts, or images because you are like a screen and those things are only projections on you. Just as a screen with a fire image isn’t really on fire or a screen showing waterfalls isn’t really wet, all those extraneous things are simply projections. Not interrupting your meditation.”

 

Have mercy! He was my interruption. “Please hush up, Mister Disturbance Man.”

He finally stopped his chatter for a few minutes and I congratulated myself on how well I had prepared my meditation posture by relaxing on my leather sofa, feet propped on the coffee table. A lovely fire crackled on the opposite side of the table. I felt warm and restful. For a mere few moments.

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That’s when my hot flash started. I sat with eyes shut trying to concentrate on not concentrating but all I felt was the roaring fire inside my reclined body, cooking away this time with real sound effects from the fireplace. On top of the flash, I heard the heat come on in the rest of the house. The last thing needed was more heat.

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Trying to breathe steadily and focus on the irritating man who had started back talking was no help. My roasting insides, sweaty upper lip, and dampening hair on my neck took all my thoughts away from his words. Next, an itch on the side of my eye became as a gnat landing and taking off my cheek. Landing. Then off. Unable to stand it any longer, I reached up and tried to wipe away the intruding irritation.

Cooling down in three or four minutes, I focused on the tightness of my fuzzy slippers, like my feet must be swollen. My thoughts reeled around salt. The salt I kept adding to tonight’s bland noodle concoction I’d not enjoyed eating an hour before. My rings felt tight too. All I have to do is look at salt and I swell.

“You are here. Don’t think about what you need to accomplish later today. Don’t think of anything except being here. You can move around within your body and that’s okay,” the man’s voice brought me back to my task. This meditation effort truly was a task and I had at least ten more of the eighteen minutes to listen to a man talk about things I couldn’t comprehend. What the heck did he mean by moving around within your own body?

My whole body wanted to move. I had restless leg syndrome all over my body and I was itching to stop the agony and move. Peeking one eye at my phone where I loaded the meditation app, I saw the number 1:10. Oh Lord. Only a minute more. Oh Lord, a whole minute more. Could I make it? Surely I could. I was in labor for fourteen hours and pushed for two of those hours.

The man stopped his infernal chatter and I heard the blessed sounds of birds and water once again. Thank you mister for your silence. At last I can unwind from his anxious twitch-inducing verbal meditation experience. Aaah. Hopefully the water and birds would last a long while.

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Nope. Wait. Where’d they go? Give me back my water and birds!

One quick glance at my phone and I saw that the next meditation which started automatically was “Heart Chakra Tibetan Singing Bowls.” Ooh do I hear water, crickets and singing bowls? That sounds like a winner. Better get my swollen feet up higher and close those eyes. Relaxation here I come.

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May 23, 2020
lisakunk

12 comments

Dancing Cheek to Cheek is Different These Days

By Lisa Batten Kunkleman

I saw my mother the other day. Yes, during quarantine, we saw each other. It’s different and distant and yet, it’s better than not seeing her at all. When I walked in her back door she immediately said, “Here’s your air hug,” as she did her twisty hug-herself dance. She and I have always been huggy dancers.

 

I’m amazed at how quickly our family has gotten used to this different life. It’s been over two months, but in a grand life span, it’s hardly any time. I’ve laid eyes on her a handful of times and the closest we’ve come to hugging is me sitting on the floor and hugging her long thin legs. They were safely covered in pants so there was no actual body contact.

 

Hubby and I delivered Mom a couple of coolers for when her ancient refrigerator dies and she needs to save all her condiments. It’s been around for decades.

 

“The fridge has always been a bing-bonger and a hummer but it’s singing a different tune over the past few days. It’s sounding more mournful. Usually I can smack it and the sounds go away. When it’s quiet, I give it a nice pat and say, ‘Thank you.’”

 

I advised her to shift the frozen foods from the fridge-freezer compartment to the full-sized upright in her garage, just in case the old cold machine conks out. There’s not much food to worry about. My brother and his girlfriend keep her well-fed with home cooked meals since they are nearby. I wish I could have been there sooner and helped more than I have. I think I have caregiver envy since I live several hours away.

 

I call every day and ask Mom how she’s doing with all this isolation. She always says, “I’ve got nothing to complain about. I’m still here. I’ve been practicing social isolation for too many years to count now. I’m practically an expert.”

 

Seeing her for only the third time since the quarantine began, I wanted to put her in a bear hug and rock back and forth like we usually do. But I can’t and I hate it. Before leaving, I stood back to back with Mom and we did a little tushy dance, actually shaking our bottoms together. It’s more personal than tapping elbows but not as dangerous as face to face hugging. For now, Mom and I are dancing cheek to cheek.

May 7, 2020
lisakunk

4 comments

Wide Awake at Three AM: Hot Flashes and Worries by the Alphabet

By Lisa Batten Kunkleman

Lying in bed with my head under the ceiling fan and my feet beside my husband’s face, enduring yet another hot flash, I listen to the storm outside our open window. I absorb the pounding rain and rumbling thunder. The flashes of light before the boom. Fabulous sounds to sleep by unless you’re a nighttime worrier like me.

I happen to love storms. What I don’t love are my two twelve-year-old dogs pacing around my room, panting like they used to after a good squirrel chase. Now, it’s anxiety-based heavy breathing for these old pups.

There’s also the gentle purring snore of my husband. Sometimes his snoring resembles a storm but at the moment, it’s pretty serene. He’s on his side of the bed thanks to my incessant hotness which is also the reason I am lying here unsettled with my head on my cooling gel pillow under the whirring fan.

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The fan isn’t alone in all that whirring. My mind imitates the spinning paddles, grabbing my thoughts and flinging them all around my head so the winds of worry keep me awake for hours. The better to listen to the storm my dear, I suppose.

I think about all kinds of things that don’t come to mind during the daylight hours. Why now, during rem sleep time? I think of my vibrant mom who turns ninety-two in a few weeks and how we can celebrate in time of quarantine. I think of my college aged triplets and where their lives will take them. Will there be jobs? Housing? Family? Oh, and weddings—or not?

I think of our grandson who is only surrounded by adults, thanks to social distancing. Parallel play with a fellow toddler may never happen. He’ll be nearly grown soon. Is that a stage that he can skip? Some kids skip crawling and go straight to walking. Hopefully missing a stage or two doesn’t hamper anything important in child development.FA7BED03-499C-4F6F-86A3-C657FB8CB069

Right now, there are many growth stages and other milestone markers missing for young people the world over. Proms, graduations, sports events, dance and music recitals, plays, concerts, exhibitions and competitions. And colleges, oh my, how they’ve been interrupted. Humanitarian work, scientific study, internships, student teaching, foreign exchange programs, clinicals, of all sorts.

I won’t go into the closed businesses and job loss. Hungry people. Deeply suffering families. That black hole of worry would turn my hot flashes into cold shivers and nervous chattering teeth. Nope. Can’t go there.

Let’s direct my worried sleepless mind to what I can do. I can lie here and pray about all these worries. I can try to get them out of my head and share them with a power larger than myself. It’s hard to let go. I chew on worry like it’s worn out gum. Doing nothing but giving my teeth and jaw some worthless activity and potentially dental problems to add to the mix.

My lack of sleep doesn’t help anything or anyone. It merely slows my metabolism, along with my ability to concentrate during daylight hours. So that means I’m not fully functional night or day. Should I worry about that?

“Oh, hey Daisy Cat. Are you feeling needy? Get it? You’re “kneading” my chest like we do that bowl of quarantine sourdough bread rising in the kitchen. You’re safe from the scary loud storm now so you can purr instead of meowing. The dogs settled down so you can too. Hear all that snoring? I want to snore too.”IMG_4246.jpeg

Maybe I should go through the alphabet and think of something to pray for that starts with each letter? I’ve never tried that. Let’s see.

A for animals. Or air quality. No that’s too broad. How about my Aunt Thetus? No that would go under the letter T.

B for butter beans. The ones I planted that are finally growing. Please help them grow and flourish. Good.IMG_4255.jpeg

C for Daisy Cat’s kidneys so she’ll stop having accidents. Or should that be a K for kidney? Or a D for Daisy? No, I know what D is.

D for our old dogs. May they stop with the panic pacing and panting.IMG_4254.png

They are calm at the moment. But radar shows more storms coming. So, there will be more whirring worries. Better get back to my alphabet and hopefully some sleep. I’ll use ceiling fan for the C and K will be kitty for the one on my chest. Or should that be K for “kneedy”? Ha

H for Hot flashes! I’m so tired of “not-sleeping” under this fan plus having another one blowing from across the room. My poor husband looks like a blanket burrito. Yes, I know I’m going out of order and E is next but please take away these hot flashes? I’ll be eternally grateful.

How about E? Everyone. Or everything? May everyone and everything be ok. And may my eyes close and let me sleep. I’ll worry about all this tomorrow because after all, tomorrow is another day. At least I hope it will be. Should I worry about that too?

“Goodnight Scarlet. I mean Daisy.”

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April 10, 2020
lisakunk

10 comments

Is Stay-at-Home, Social Distancing Order Easier for Some Than Others?

Can life experience, interests, and personality affect how one deals with being told to stay at home and socially distance? I wonder if it’s easier for the following people to deal with the stay-at-home orders than some others? Just pondering.

A person who has most everything needed for survival, like shelter, food, medicine, power, money, and proximity to other needed emergency items.IMG_2967

A person who can pay their bills and has plenty to eat.

A person who enjoys being alone to write, paint, sculpt, tend animals, garden, exercise, or for various other interests.img_5637-1

A person who can read their life away, traveling through the written word.

A person who has spiritual beliefs, prayer, or meditation life.

A person who reaches out to others to stay in communication and help where needed.

A person who is already used to living alone.

A caregiver of an elderly person, a sick person, children, or a person with handicapping conditions that requires spending much time at home.

A person who considers him or herself prepared for emergency situations with multiples of things, stored up foods, an active garden, and seeds for expansion.IMG_3565

A person who is naturally an introvert and enjoys time to themselves and perhaps gets their energy from that condition.IMG_3293

A person who has been wanting time at home to tackle a huge to do list.

A person who has been craving time at home either to be alone or with family/loved ones and has them there.IMG_3602

A person who knows loved ones are as safe as possible and checks on them regularly.

A person who already works or studies from home or stays home for other reasons.lisa feet and laptop for blog

This is a partial list that came to mind. There are many more.

Disclaimer: I hereby announce LOUDLY that I personally have no knowledge on this subject. I might have degrees in psychology, sociology, and counseling but I’m as lost on this pandemic’s effect on the world as anyone else. Not having a clue about the accuracy of what I’m writing, I, like so many, have a great deal of time nowadays to ponder. That’s what I’m doing. Pondering.

 

April 9, 2020
lisakunk

3 comments

Everything Longs to Be Free

By Lisa Batten Kunkleman

While appreciating our shelter and safety we seem to always want those greener pastures beyond our own space. You know how the strawberries always look plumper and redder on the next row over but you have to pick on your assigned row? Such is life at the moment.

So explain again why our cousins can’t come over to play?

April 1, 2020
lisakunk

8 comments

Pandemic Care Package for Our Daughter

By Lisa Batten Kunkleman

Never, ever did I expect to be mailing our 23-year-old daughter a care package during a pandemic. But here I go. Thank heaven for the postal service still being an option. 

Pandemic care package contents

The used mailing envelope I stuffed is available thanks to my compulsion for keeping such things, just in case. I also had plenty of stamps for postage and packing tape to seal the deal. My husband and I both grew up with parents who lived through the Great Depression and as a result, were nearly always prepared for lean times. The waste not, want not generation. It must have rubbed off on us. That and being in Scouts. You know, that part about being prepared?

Today, simple living is a huge thing. I appreciate that philosophy. Materialism can get in the way of truly enjoying life. I know from experience. I spend far too much time shuffling my stuff around instead of giving it to someone who needs it or at least would appreciate it more than I do. I’m working on it. This care package is a tiny example of giving things to someone who needs them more. 

Living in a studio apartment means our daughter keeps only her basic needs around since there’s no room for storing extra items. She has to save room for art and yoga supplies and a doggie bed. An artist and a yoga teacher, she, like so many others, is now working online from home. Every little bit of floor space is essential yet during this stay-at-home period, a few extra items we have in our house are essential for her as well. 

This package contains items she can’t easily obtain at the moment: Heartworm preventative and ear medicine for her dog, pepper spray for all her dog walking excursions, a roll of paper towels, hand sanitizer, Tylenol, muscle ache lotion, and a pair of sandals. As a heartfelt bonus, I included a fun greeting card in an extra-large envelope with a personal message from moi, stuffed with note cards, envelopes, and stamps because sometimes, you have to send a check somewhere or communicate by mail. Essential goods are heading to our daughter, no longer taking up space in our house, but needed in hers. Sending them and our love, just in case.

Pandemic Care Package

March 28, 2020
lisakunk

4 comments

Gardening Just in Case

By Lisa Batten Kunkleman

We used to garden all the time and put up veggies (for non-gardeners, that means preserved foods in jars or the freezer)

This year, with our stay-at-home order to fight this infernal coronavirus, I decided not only to stick the root ends of my romaine in a bowl of water and wait for it to sprout leaves, but also to start a pot garden on our deck. No. Not that kind of pot. I planted seeds I found in my kitchen junk drawer that I had saved just in case I felt the urge to patio garden. Well, the urge hit. The thoughts of not having green leafy veggies at hand inspired me. You would not believe how fast those suckers, I mean seeds, pop up and start growing. I’m so excited. It’s gonna be Saladville around here. We’re gardening again. Deer, you’d better stay off our deck.

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