Wednesday, April 28, 2010

We don't need no stinkin menus!

We had several things planned for Drew's parents while they were in Dallas.  First on the list was taking them to the gardens where we got married.  I rarely check weather and Drew only does when he was traveling, and that's how we came to spend $50 on umbrellas at Target!  It was sunny when we left, so we figured the sunshine would follow us wherever we went.  At least that's what I thought.

No such luck - on the way to Fort Worth it started pouring and we almost went home.  However, it slowed to a drizzle and since it wasn't windy or cold we decided to brave it.  Umbrellas in hand, we took them to the Japanese gardens.  It was really cool to be back there and remember the day Drew and I got married, seeing all the spots we took pictures.  I would like to have re-created some of those shots but since the thought only just now occurred to me, I guess it will have to be for another time.
On the bridge feeding the koi
Just as pretty as I remembered it
Even in the rain

After the gardens, we went to Joe T. Garcia's for lunch.  We'd never been and heard great things about it.  It was hard to find and although we trusted the navigation, we were certain it was getting us lost.  However, we arrived and the place was packed.  Luckily, they seated us right away and it smelled great.  No one was super starving but of course we all ate entirely too much, which was quickly becoming the theme for the entire trip.

They brought the chips and salsa with some water for us and we people-watched while we waited for our server.  They are cowboys in Fort Worth!  With the starched Wranglers and real cowboy hats and everything!  I live in snobville Dallas, where you would get the serious side-eye for starched Wranglers unless you were inside a country bar so this was a treat.  I was a little distracted when the server came up and asked us if we were ready to order.

Me:  Oh, um, we haven't gotten any menus?  (I always question-talk when I'm not sure if someone's being funny or not.)
Server:   Oh, we don't have any.  We only serve two items:  enchiladas or fajitas.

Y'all, I was baffled.  How do you not have any menus?  How do you not have something posted somewhere?  Can I get a blackboard or something?  No menus?  Where am I?  What is this place?  I was scared.

And it wasn't just me.  Drew was all, 'You mean you guys don't even have appetizers?'  It's not eating if you don't have appetizers!   The server got annoyed, saying that he could probably put some guac in a dish or something.  We were like, okay go do that please.  When we left, we were all whispering and bug-eyed about the no-menu thing.  Isn't that something you should TELL people?  Shouldn't the server ask if you've been there before and explain things if it's your first time?  And NOT get annoyed like you're the one who's wrong for going into a RESTAURANT and asking for a menu, for god's sake.  Who DOES that?

How do you know how much stuff costs?  I mean, we got margaritas having no clue how much they were and only after we asked if they had those, or if they only had beer and water.  It was like that scene in My Cousin Vinny where the only options are breakfast, lunch and supper and you get what they give you.  I wonder if a concept like that would work in Dallas, where people have to know if their chickens ate macrobiotic feed hourly and were sung to every night before they were slaughtered.  

We ordered the enchiladas and the fajitas, choosing chicken and beef combos because we wouldn't want the kitchen to get confused or anything.  The food was decent, but did not justify the packed house in my opinion.  Then came the next shocker.

They didn't accept credit cards!!  Cash only!!

What kind of place IS this?  No menus?  No credit cards?  Who DOES that?  Considering we had no idea how much the bill was going to be, it was a miracle his parents had enough cash since neither Drew nor I carry significant amounts EVER.  Everyone takes debit cards!  Cash is for garage sales and the valet!  They did have signs posted about that, but I thought it was a mistake.  Surely a restaurant as busy as this one HAD to take cards.  

But they didn't.  And that place was packed.  And huge - there were several rooms and patios and everywhere you looked there were people.  All that cash.  No money spent on menus, none on advertising - they're strictly word of mouth and not too much on food - you wouldn't have to with only two menu items and two choices between those items.  All that cash!  That just can't be right.  Is that right?  Is that even legal?  

Am I crazy?  Are there lots of places like that?  This was not some hole in the wall, greasy diner with four tables.  This was a full-out RESTAURANT.  I believe in the inherent good of people, but I just can't help but wonder how honest they really are if there is no paper trail to keep them accountable.  If you deal in cash only, it's up to you how much you tell the government you have.  I know - I was a waitress and I never claimed all my cash tips.  But I made pennies compared to what this place must be pulling in.  How have they not been audited?  But then again, with a cash business you can write your books any way you please - right?  

On the way home, we were discussing our restaurant adventure and speculating at how much money Joe T. Garcia's family must have and how they must laugh all the way to the bank, pocketing our cash from their enchiladas and fajitas.  

I don't know if we should applaud and seek to replicate the ideas of people like that, or stay away so that you're not there when the FBI ambushes the place and breaks open their money-laundering ring.  You know there's some back room where some shady mafia-types are just counting their money, plotting their next move.  Maybe that nice hostess who seated us was actually Joe T. Garcia's daughter and she's actually the BOSS-LADY and will take you out back and end you if you get too close!

I watch too much Burn Notice. 

If I wasn't wearing a bra, I hope they couldn't tell

Drew's parents and I were alone for the first couple of days they were here.  I was extremely nervous because I wanted to be a good hostess and I knew quite well that just because I married their son, it didn't automatically mean that we were going to get along perfectly.  We had spent time together in New York for Christmas but that was only the second time we'd even seen each other!  When you marry into someone's family, there is this undue pressure to be instant best friend as if marriage makes you suddenly psychic and flawless.  Well, not me.  Your girl has loads of flaws!  And there's nothing like having guests in the house to make you realize just how flawed you are.

I've been out of work for four months now - well, professional, get-dressed-and-go-to-an-office work.  In March, I began doing some personal assisting work that I'm seriously thinking about expanding.  But my point is, it's been me and the dog for all that time.  This has made my social skills quite rusty.  

Take mornings for example.  I think morning routines are trickiest when you're traveling or have guests.  It's your get started time and if you don't get started right, the rest of the day is just off.  Some like their coffee and quiet time, others jump out of bed to jog every morning, rain or shine.  I have something of a morning routine.  It is as follows:  Stay quiet and move slowly until the body realizes it's awake.  In the morning, I go to the bathroom and get cleaned up and usually just putter around in the house until I'm fully awake.  I don't drink coffee and I'm not really a grouch - unless you are loud and want me to move quickly first thing in the morning.  Drew and I are still working on the routine, as he is fully awake before his feet hit the floor and expects the same from me.  Silly rabbit.  No matter when I wake up, I'm not fully functional for at least an hour regardless of how many dirty looks you give me or how many times you roll your eyes at me.

With guests in the house, I didn't feel like I could do that.  Drew's parents were angels, and made no noise and did their own thing in the morning, requesting nothing of me.  However, I didn't feel like I could putter!  I felt like an anti-social grump if I didn't come out of the bedroom before they woke up, frying bacon, squeezing the orange juice and being all Donna Reed and shit.  See!  I suck!  Donna Reed would never say 'shit'!  The second I would hear stirring I jumped out of bed, nearly killing myself because my body was all, 'Yo!  I am NOT awake enough for this nonsense!  You know the rules!  Slow yo ass down and stop all that foolishness!'   I tried my hardest - I think I made breakfast the first morning but I haven't a clue what, if anything, I talked about, whether or not I smiled, if I was nice, or frankly, if I had a bra on.  I pray to the baby Jesus I did.

I know they wouldn't have cared if I ignored them but you just can't do that when you have guests, and that's what they still were to me.  I wanted them to like me, to be comfortable, to see me on my turf and be happy at the home I'm providing for their son.  Again, I exhausted myself and once Drew came home I didn't have the energy to sustain it and I quickly reverted back to my shuffling, bleary-eyed, cave-woman self.  I'm sure they noticed, but they were too kind to mention it.  

I called Kesha and told them that I was positive that they hated me.  Drew wasn't home yet and I was sure I was going to forever be 'that woman my son married.'  However, Kesha is an angel and calmed me instantly.  'Desiree, they are probably just as afraid of you as you are of them.  They probably don't want to do anything wrong in your house, in your city and I'm sure they're just fine, they like you, they're comfortable and if something was wrong they'd let you know.  Just relax!'

She was right - I only get like this when I care and want to make a good impression.  I just didn't want them to go back home and gossip to their friends about how horrible their trip was and how uncomfortable they were.  I know that we've got the rest of our lives to get to know each other, but in-law relationships are tricky and I just want to get it right!  At any rate, I calmed down significantly and did my best to put myself in their shoes and trust that they would speak up if there was something they needed.  But I won't lie, once Drew got home I must have pulled him aside twelve thousand times asking him if  he was sure they were ok, if he was positive they didn't need anything, if he knew for a fact that they didn't hate me.  Then he got annoyed with me, and I got annoyed with him and all was right with the world. 

I know how to handle my annoyed husband - that's familiar ground!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Home again home again, jiggity-jig!

I have no idea what nursery rhyme that's from, but I can't get it out of my head.  I think it's Three Little Pigs but I could be wrong.

I read somewhere that you're not supposed to write on your blog that you're going out of town because then people could come rob your house.  Because they read on your blog that you're not home.  We have an alarm system and nosy neighbors but I figure it's better safe than sorry. 

But now that I'm home I can get back to my life!  On Wednesday April 14th, Drew's parents came to Dallas to spend the week with us.  On the 21st, we piled into the car and drove up to Kansas to spend five days with my family and friends.  My parents threw us a wedding reception which was better and more fun than I could have imagined and passed by way too quickly.  For those two weeks, I got no sleep, ate entirely too much and got smothered with open-mouth kisses from my baby cousins.  Add to that the forty-billion pollen count in Kansas and guess who has the swine flu!!  I drove home Sunday night, arriving in Dallas at 2am where I promptly doped myself up and slept for almost 11 hours.  

FINALLY, I'm back and I can't wait to tell you all about it!  Here's a preview!

You know I've got stories!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

I'll be back

Friday, April 16, 2010

Hostess with the most-ess

I have lofty ideas of being a Martha Stewart/B. Smith-esque type of hostess.  I dream of having fresh flowers everywhere to greet my guests, fragrant and tasty food warming the oven and making the house smell lovely, even being well-dressed and gracious at every turn, thinking of everything so my guests want for nothing.

Then I wake up.  Usually because the dog has tracked mud through the freshly-mopped kitchen.

Drew's parents are in town for the week and then we head to Kansas City for our reception.  Drew couldn't get out of his meetings so it's been just the three of us for the past couple of days. I won't lie and say that I was looking forward to being alone with his parents.  They are beautiful wonderful people who like me and I like them so it wasn't that.  I was just terrified at the prospect of entertaining them by myself for two days.  I knew I wasn't up to the task, no matter my lofty dreams!  I had every intention of googling all sorts of fabulous recipes to make prior to their arrival, I looked up all the activities Dallas had to offer and I cleaned my house top to bottom.  That's where I messed up.

Cleaning the house when you have a dog AND have hardwood floors is especially frustrating because no matter how much you sweep, vacuum and mop you will never ever EVER get rid of all the dog hair.  Never.  Not for as long as you live.  EVER.

Yet I tried.  I simply had to get every last hair because if I didn't they might judge me!  I was  vacuuming all the dog hair underneath the sofa with Maya behind me, standing there shedding.  I barely stopped myself from putting the hose directly on her.  Because that would be crazy.  Plus, I couldn't get her to stand still long enough - I think she knew what I was trying to do.  I stressed myself out so badly that when they finally arrived, the adrenaline got to me and I was exhausted as soon as we walked in the door.  I had physically given up - judge me if you want, I tried.  

Of course, they are not even the tiniest bit judgmental - not even a little bit!  They are such sweet, genuinely caring people that it wouldn't matter to them if the house was a complete pigsty.  His dad even brought me fruit snacks!  I was so touched - that he read my blog and that he did something so incredibly thoughtful!!  They also brought treats for the dog - which of course made them her best friends.  She is loving all the attention and won't let either of them out of her sight.  His mom also gave me the most beautiful necklace!
To remind me the angels are watching over me

Once Drew gets home, we're going to do a little sight-seeing.  I'm excited to visit the Fort Worth Zoo and we're taking them to the gardens where we got married.  Drew got his love of cooking from his dad who is also a wonderful cook, so I'm most excited about the home cooking!  

I don't know what I was worried about - they're wonderful!!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Spring planting

I hurt.  

My calves hurt.  My triceps hurt.  My low back - oh JEEZUS my low back! - hurts.  We spent the entire weekend planting our front garden and I got my vegetables!  I'm so excited but you wouldn't be able to tell because I'm presently hunched over and making sounds like a beached whale every time I try to get out of bed, stand up, pick up something off the floor or otherwise move.  It's completely worth it, but please gawd I don't want to do this again until next spring!
Look at how sad and pitiful Yoshi looked when we moved in last year.
Yoshi is our Japanese Maple tree.  
I name everything, remember?
Drew did the research and bought a soaker hose 
and diligently covered him with peat moss and checked on him daily.  
Drew brought him back to life!
I can't wait to see what he'll look like next year.

We had a mix of annuals and perennials in the garden and I was very pleased to see the perennials coming back!  I wasn't sure that this whole gardening thing was actually going to work out but I guess I don't have a black thumb after all!  

We didn't even have to do anything to get the oxalis to come back.
That's my kind of gardening!

Gardening this year was so much more enjoyable since it wasn't Africa-hot like it was last year.  The whole afternoon went by so pleasantly.  We put the harness and leash on the dog, hitched her to a post, had the iPod going, and we were one with Mother Earth!  Or maybe we just planted some flowers like everyone else in the city.  The nursery was packed!  Thank God gardening people are nice by nature.

In addition to the great weather, I got another bonus in the form of our Indian Hawthornes.  We moved in after they bloomed last year so imagine my surprise when I walked out the front door one day to pretty pink flowers everywhere!
What a fun little surprise!

We got some really cool flowers this year.  While I loved my Scarletts, I wanted to do something different.  Drew actually saw these first, but when he pointed them out I had to have them.
The Latin name is Dianthus something but the tag said Cranberry Ice.
They are complete and total awesomesauce.
These now flank the sidewalk along with some vines that I hope don't get out of control.
These are African daisies and I squealed when I saw them 
and immediately loaded three in our cart.
The rose bushes also went insane and I got lots of new blooms for the house.
This was AFTER we clipped five vases worth from the bushes.

And.  AND!  AND!!
I got my vegetable garden!
I'm gonna be a watermelon!
We're tomatoes!  Or to-mah-toes.  
Whatever you prefer.
There's some cucumbers and cantaloupe in there too!
Drew the chef got some Turkish eggplant and zucchini squash.  
We also filled out our herb bed.  The mint, rosemary and oregano are from last year.
We got some more basil, some lavender, and a bunch of varieties of thyme. 
 I'm so excited to eat whatever Drew cooks with all this stuff!

We spent a disgusting amount of money at the nursery but that is it for landscaping and gardening for this year.  While my hand shook writing the check to the landscaper and I nearly choked at the nursery cashier I am very pleased that the yard is done.  For the year.  I'm not doing shit else - you hear me flowers?!  You're on your own, so y'all BEST grow!  I did my part and put you in the ground (actually it was mostly Drew - he was a planting MACHINE), now it's on you!

I may not be so great at growing kids but I CAN grow some plants, dammit!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Wash and go with a twist

I can't be all pain and wallowing and self-pity and crying around here.  It's a good way to go crazy, so I guess it's a good thing I had a good hair day right?  A bad hair day would have been the straw that broke the camel's back. 

So, my hair has gotten too long to do much else with it besides a wash and go, illustrated here.  My hair isn't as tightly curly as Teri's, which means I battle with my ends that go stick straight without some help from the rollers.  I can scrunch all day long but as my hair dries, the ends just stretch out and go limp.  But back to the length - check this out y'all!
Easter 2009 - My head was tilted back just a bit making my hair look longer but it was just past  armpit length, not quite bra-strap length.  This was my attempt at a twist and curl and I quickly realized that it would take twelve thousand hours to dry, thus the fuzziness.  
 A closer look at the length and fuzz.  I think I was drunk by this point because I have no idea who that guy is.  Everyone becomes your friend when you whip out the camera.
4th of July 2009 - a little fuzzy from being at the lake all day but a little longer
October 2009 - Juuuust past bra-strap length.  Nothing but wash and goes by this point.

I experimented with doing a wash and go AND a twist and curl and I've been pleased.  I get more height and definition at the crown and hairline and the curls stay more defined longer.  The first time I did it I washed my hair around seven in the evening, putting it in four two-strand twists when I went to bed around 11, which meant my hair was mostly dry but not 100%.  I really liked it so I decided to try it again and take pictures this time.
I defined the individual curls and then put them in the two-strand twists, securing them at the top with duckbill clips.
Twist size.  Curly Nikki does something like 20 twists on her hair and the first time I did that I looked like I had a bad 80s perm.  My hair likes four twists, no more no less.
I love love LOVE Moroccan Oil!  It smells so sexy and exotic and I wish they made body lotion and perfume.  For the wash and go twist I put it on my ends, put end papers around them and rolled them up in rollers. My twitchy finger inadvertently erased that picture - booo!

Remember my braid-out fail?  And how I was complaining how hard it was to take pictures of my hair without looking like an idiot?  I swear on everything y'all, it JUST occurred to me this past Monday to put my camera somewhere and set the timer.  I'm so slow.
My very first self-portrait.  
Skin's not so fluorescent this time - note to self:  always take pictures in natural light!
I tried so hard to muster a smile but this was as close as I could come.
I gave up and just started looking away from the camera - this is about the hair anyway.
Check out how long my hair has gotten!  And check out the nearly straight ends - some of them complied but the other ones just did their own thing.
The curls aren't uniform spirals because of the wash and go part but I kinda like the messiness.  And I love the height at the hairline.  When I do the twists I do a rough part down the middle but when I take it down I do a side part so I get more height.  More height = distraction from the lightbulb forehead since I can't really do bangs to cover it.
The biggest challenge for me with a wash and go is flatness and 
straight hair at the hairline and crown.  This fixes that!
See what I mean?  
I'm constantly sliding my fingers in at the scalp and lifting it, praying for height.
Granted, this was straight out of the shower but if I don't do anything with it, it will stay this way.  Flat and sad with a lightbulb forehead.
Feb 2010 - my hands are at my waist. 
 And yes, those are ice-skating penguins.  My mommy has a matching pair and they're awesome!  

Until just now, I didn't realize how quickly my hair had grown and it's pretty cool what can happen when you leave your hair alone and just let it grow.  I'm debating whether or not to get a haircut to shape it since it's been over a year.  I like my hair better when it's got some layers and shape to it but I'm so scared to jinx the progress I've made.

My next challenge is trying to figure out why I'm getting scalp scabs.  I don't use heat, I don't scratch my head so fiercely I would get scabs so I don't know where they're coming from!  The other thing that's driving me crazy is split ends.  I do search-and-destroys only to find a whole new crop a month later!  Is that normal?  At least my curly hair hides them - they still piss me off though.

What about y'all?  Do you have hair pictures on your computer?  Do you have one of those length-check t-shirts?  Do you google 'scalp scabs' or other equally annoying hair challenges?  

And a big huge giant hug to all of you who have read my last few posts and commented.  No freakin lie y'all, you guys are a huge part of why I'm putting one foot in front of the other and still breathing.  Anytime you're having a bad day and thinking that what you do doesn't matter and no one cares, please remind yourself 'Desiree is massively appreciative of my presence and because I said something to her, because I reached out she feels better and that is MAJOR and that matters.'

Because it does and because you do.  You guys are awesome.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

His eye is on the sparrow - and the trees too

Today was better than yesterday, so at least there's that.  The bleeding is slowing to a trickle, for which I am exceedingly thankful.  I had nightmares visions of bleeding for a month straight and I'm so glad it's slowing down within a reasonable time.  Drew is gone for the week and I actually think that might help things.  Not that I want him gone by any stretch of the imagination but I think the alone time will be good for the healing process.

Drew really has been great.  He took over all household duties for the past couple of days, even cooking Easter dinner for us.
 We set the timer and took a picture of the two of us but he looked evil and I looked like I hadn't showered in days.  Which I hadn't. The food looks much better.  We had amazing roast turkey and brussel sprouts with 
rosemary potatoes and pineapple - which was surprisingly good.
Yes baby, you did a good job with the potatoes and pineapple.  I'm sorry I doubted you. 
You are a culinary genius.  For real - I'm not being funny.  Thank you for making dinner.
Oh yeah, I can drink wine now.  Again, I mean.

Maya and her Easter dinner.
1.5 seconds later.

I've discovered that it's really hard to be down and hate life and shake your fist at the sky in the springtime.  You have to be made of stone not to be moved by the budding flowers pushing through the ground and the fragrance of the flowers that are in full bloom.  There's something about the trees and flowers that calms and quiets my soul.  Because of this, I've spent much of the past four days outside, mostly in our 'new' backyard.
The backyard last May, shortly after we moved in.  
The landscapers moved so quickly I couldn't get true 'before' shots but the grass had gotten much more sparse since then and desperately needed help.
The backyard after.
These guys got moved and in their place will be my vegetable garden.
I'm going to see if I can grow strawberries, tomatoes, peppers and whatever else 
I can fit in this space.
In their new home, nicely filling in that bald spot.  
I can't wait till the ground cover matures!

They transplanted some other shrubs and ground cover which left room for six magnolia trees.  We got them for a steal!  At the nursery, they were $130 each - no way we were paying that much but I loved the idea of magnolia trees.  They're so Southern!  Well, it just so happened that our landscaper had just done a job where they had to pull up seven magnolia trees and when he offered to give them to us for just $50 a piece, he was hired on the spot!  Coincidence?  I think not.
My six steel magnolias.  
In these pictures, you can sort of see how bad the grass had gotten.

Our rose bushes bloomed too - Drew pruned them and brought them inside and made bouquets for me.  I took pictures of all of them and made a new header so you can enjoy them too!  I've got them placed all around the house and they have done so much to lift my spirits.

Today, the dog was going insane begging for a walk and with Drew gone, I sort of had to leave the backyard.   So, for the first time since we've had the dog I grabbed my iPod for our walk.  Why it had never occurred to me before, I have no idea - it's not like she was going to talk to me!  I chose some chill yoga music and we set off.

With the soft and gentle music in my ears and the dog walking calmly beside me, I just took in the neighborhood.  There are two flowering trees on either side of our house in our neighbors' yards.  I thought they were lilacs but I just googled them and they don't have the same flowers, so I don't know what they are.  Whatever they were, I bent down to each one and inhaled my biggest breath.  You just can't be sad when you're smelling flowers.
As soon as I step out my front door I can smell them.
Two houses to the left - they're so lucky!
Coming in close for a sniff.
Another one a couple blocks away.
This tree really moved me.  I'll explain in a second.  But for now, just notice how it's all protected with bark near the base but as it gets taller the bark falls away.
At the very top, there's almost no bark left.

Okay, so here's where I get deep-thinking and emotional and possibly weird and maybe I lose you.  Feel free to stop reading here, but I'm going to keep writing because I sort of have to.  Because I'll kinda go nuts if I don't.

So, the tree.  I kind of identified with this tree.  How at the base it has bark, as maybe a sort of protection.  And as the tree gets taller/older the bark/protection begins to fall away, leaving the tree 'exposed.'  Maybe that's not ideal but maybe the tree wouldn't be able to grow if it didn't give up/lose its bark.  As the tree gets older, more and more bark/protection falls away and it has to grow regardless.  No matter how much it hurts to have your protection/innocence taken from you.    

No matter how much you'd prefer to just stay small and protected so that nothing would ever hurt you or get taken away from you.  No matter how much each piece of bark that gets stripped away hurts all over again just like it's the first time.  Maybe the tree had a conversation with God and was all, 'So, I'd really prefer to keep my bark and not have to lose any pieces of it.  Ever.  I like my bark and would like to keep all of it.  What do you say?'  And then maybe God was like, 'I'm so sorry.' And then maybe the tree was like, 'Aw, come on, please?  It sucks losing my bark, I don't like it and it makes me cry.  Please can't I just keep it?  I don't like growing without my bark - I need it.  I can't grow without it.' And then maybe God was like, 'Yes you can.  Please just trust me.'

Yet when you look up at that super tall tree, you notice that's there are only little bits of bark at the very top and the tree is doing just fine.  

How do you explain that you feel like those naked branches, raw and exposed?  How do you explain that you fervently hope that you'll have the strength and courage to stand tall when you really just wish you were covered with bark so you remain protected from all things?  I may or may not have wrapped my arms around that tree and cried, hoping that no one came walking by because how do you explain that you're hugging a tree because you understand that growth doesn't always come on your terms, that it can be horribly painful to lose something you really want yet in the end, with time, you will stand tall with your face to the sun?  

I headed home with the gentle yoga music in my ears, still crying but feeling a little more comforted in my soul.


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