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Dogs of My Life

Who hasn’t had a dog in their life at some time or another? Ok, well I know not everyone has, but you got to admit, dogs are pretty popular in the pet kingdom. And with me, as you remember I told you in my post about searching, dogs have been a part of my life since I was very little. I never outgrew them.

I know this is off the topic of my blog, but, just for fun, I decided to put up some pictures of my dogs. It’s Friday after all! Here ya go!

a red tick coon hound and two mutts

Gretta on left (the hound), Belle (the black dog) and Roby

dog looking at a hot air balloon

My favorite picture ever. My banner picture comes from this.

red tick coon hound

Gretta, my sad-eyed red tick coonhound

Three dogs waiting for their “momma”

 

a red tick coonhound and a blue tick coonhound

Helga and Gretta

 

Tired little Belle Belle

 

My gorgeous Roby (pronounced Robbie)

 

Trying to take a nap with the dogs

 

Gretta wearing short shorts

 

 

Batteries and Lights

This is normal, everyday kinda stuff. And I’m still smiling!

I have a problem with two recurring everyday items in my life: batteries and lights.

Rechargeable Batteries

I have rechargeable batteries for two cameras and I guess also my phone. I have issues with all of these. You might remember a post I wrote about not being able to take quality pictures because I had lost my charger for my camera. I looked all over the house several times, but I couldn’t find it for weeks on end. Finally, I went out and bought a new battery charger. That battery charger cost me $50 USD. That is no small expense to my account, so I thought, “I will protect this charger this time. I will put it in a safe place.”

You probably know the result of that. Yep. I can’t remember where that “safe” place is.

Geesh.

So, I’ve been conserving the energy in the battery, and it’s down to less than a quarter strength. I know I have to find it soon, or I will not have my nice camera at all.

In the midst of this, I also went out and bought rechargeable batteries for my smaller, less expensive camera that also has a video camera on it. I was thinking about taking some videos with it. I brought the batteries home and was so excited. Till I realized I didn’t know where my charger was.

Geesh.

To make matters worse, I bought this phone. It’s an expensive “smart” phone, but I’m questioning just how smart it really is. It’s a Droid Razr with 4G. But it is a battery hog like you wouldn’t believe, unless you had one yourself. So, I carry my cords with me to work everyday, because if I don’t, the battery goes dead. Sometimes, I forget my cord, and then I’m stuck to the wall in the evening if I need to make a phone call (since I’m limited to a cell phone and have no landline).

Geesh!

Lights

My "vintage" lamp

My "vintage" lamp

The same thing with lights. DONOTASKMEWHY, but I bought a house that doesn’t have ceiling lights in it, except one lonely light in the kitchen–and oh, yeah, the basement, which I never use also has ceiling lights. I fixed the downstairs by adding recessed lighting in my front room and kitchen, which are fantastic, let me tell you, but the upstairs is still a problem. I had three lamps in my bedroom, but one of them broke. Not surprising, since I bought the pair of lamps at a vintage store and one of them didn’t work to start with (but i lovedthemsomuchandtheymatchedmybedroom!).

I loved this deep rust or burnt orange color and the neck

Then, since Brad and I read in the bedroom, I had to move one of the lamps over next to the bed, so the two lights I have are both next to the bed. This leaves a problem for those dark mornings when I want to look in my closet for something to wear.

Man oh man!

I’m trying to figure out why I have these recurring problems. I was psychoanalyzing it, and I think it’s because I’m “in the dark” about a lot of things, I’ve forgotten where my own personal “safe” place is, and maybe I have lost my life’s energy recharger. Ha! That would explain why I can’t get over whatever this respiratory crud is that I’ve been dealing with for almost two weeks now! MAN-OH-MAN! I need some serious prayer time!!

Questions

Do you have any recurring daily problems like this?

Do you ever put something in a “safe” place only to forget where that “safe” place is when you need it?

Butterfly: Oil on Canvas

Monarch butterfly on reddish orange flower. Black background.

This piece of art is oil on canvas. I have been painting for a little over a year. However, I haven’t painted since January because I’ve been very busy. Painting is very therapeutic for me, and now that the weather is warming up, I can take my projects outside. I’m very excited about this!

I decided to take a picture of this and post it here as inspiration for me to get out the paints again. I still very much consider myself an amateur, so I was pretty happy with the outcome of this one. There’s things I can still do to make it better, and I think I will do those things before I call it finished. But here it is for now.

I love hobbies. I consider myself a “professional” hobbyist, because I like to dabble in a lot of stuff (but I don’t get paid for any of it, so I guess I’m not that professional–heehee!). Do you have any hobbies that you like to do that are therapeutic for you?

 

How To Shave A Furry Dog: Do It Yourself

These are Roby’s before pictures. Apparently, as seen from the first shot, where she’s hiding behind the chair, she’s a little nervous to get her “before” shot, just like her mama when she had her Insanity before shot. Ha! Just kidding. Well, not really. But anyway, Friday night I shaved Roby and I decided I would do a little “how to” for all you furry dog owners who have ever thought about shaving their dog.

Up front, I will tell you that this will be my third year shaving Roby and Belle, and so I’ve had a little practice at it. But that also means I’ve saved well over $700 (USD) by doing it myself. And that’s on the low side. It’s not easy at first, but it gets easier each time you do it. I’m going to share some pictures and tips about how to do this, and since Roby is my furriest dog with a pretty thick undercoat, I think she will be a good one to pose as a model for me.

Tip #1 for Shaving a Dog: Buy the Right Tools

Oster A5 single speed

Buy the right tools: i.e. clippers/shaver. I’ve heard so many people tell me they tried a shaver that was made for human hair when they first tried shaving their dog. Take it from me (yeah I tried this too because I’m uber-cheap), it DOES NOT WORK. Not even a little. Skip this first mistake and take yourself over to Amazon and buy a professional dog clipper. I use the Oster A5 single speed clippers and they do an awesome job! I’ve had these clippers all three years, and they are still running strong. They are a little over $100 dollars, but don’t worry about this investment. You will get your money back after you shave your dog, like, twice (it costs me at least $60 (USD) for one shave on Roby if I have it done professionally).

You will also want a good set of scissors/shears. I had a set in my human shaver kit that worked fine, but it’s up to you if you want to spend the extra money on a really good set. So far, the set in that kit has lasted me three years well, two years (seasons of shaving) and I’m on my third season of shaving (I only shave my dogs during the warm months.

You will also need some Oster Kool Lube, which you can also find on Amazon. Again, don’t skip buying this. Your clippers will thank you after using them for a while because they do get heated up. Tip within a tip: I tried finding a set of clippers at several stores with no luck. I just ended up wasting my time. You can give it a shot by taking the time and looking in the stores if you want, you might have better luck depending on what is out there for you. I wish I would have just gone straight to Amazon though.

Tip #2 for Shaving Your Dog: Bathe Your Dog First

Here’s another thing you might be tempted to skip, but don’t. If you bathe your dog first, it will help save your blade. The dirt embedded in their fur (the stuff you can’t see) can really dull your blade. You can always send your blade out to be sharpened, or you have to buy a replacement blade, it can cost around $30 USD or so. Try to keep that from happening by protecting that blade and bathing your dog. If your dogs are like mine, they probably need it anyways.

Tip #3 for Shaving Your Dog: Use the Scissors Before the Clippers

Another way you can protect your blade is by using the scissors you purchased to snip out the matted hunks of fur. You know what I’m talking about. Clip them as close to the skin as you can, or as close to the length as you want your dog’s fur to be. Another reason to do this is because if you are trying to pull the clippers through a matted section, you end up pulling on your dog’s skin and they don’t typically like that. The more comfortable you keep your dog, the easier it will be to shave her.

Tip #4 for Shaving Your Dog: Shave in the Direction of Fur Growth for the First Round

Remember, I’m talking from the experience of shaving a dog with a pretty thick undercoat. I have tried it both ways, and it’s certainly doable to take your first round going against the direction of fur growth. However, I find that I pull on Roby’s skin a lot less when I take the clippers in the direction of the fur growth first, and then take a second round by going against the grain of the growth. This makes it so that there’s less bulk for the shaver to get through. And anything to keep my doggy from yelping and running from the clippers is good in my estimation. (Actually, she’s a good dog, so she never runs from me, but she will slowly try to sneak walk away as I’m working on her).

Tip #5 for Shaving Your Dog: On the First Round, Don’t Worry About How Uneven It Is

This is especially true for those of you who are doing this for the first time and you don’t have natural shaving skills (like me). And it is also especially true for those of you with really, really furry dogs. The thing you want to think about when shaving them in their first round is just getting the bulk of their fur off their backs (and chest and legs and hindquarters, etc).

Tip #6 for Shaving Your Dog: How to Eliminate Shaving Paths or “Tracks”

You can see in the picture above that Roby has shaving “tracks.” To get rid of this look, you will want to shave in all directions. When I see a “track” forming, I will criss cross it in the opposite direction to get rid of this.

Another thing that I found is that, tracks are way more stubborn when you place a comb over the blade. I have found (for my dogs and the length I prefer them), that tracks don’t show up really bad if you use the naked blade as opposed to using the comb. Combs have their place, I think, especially if you have a “hairy” dog as opposed to a furry dog, or if you want a longer cut. But if you are just cutting your dog for the summer, you want a close cut (and you aren’t into competitions of any kind), then the blades you can buy for the clippers work well. There are also all sorts of blades you can buy for varying lengths.

Tip #7: for Shaving Your Dog: Make it Pretty

This is Roby after I’ve done my best to get the bulk of the fur off. You can see that she still has bits and ends that need to be cleaned up. She has some around her belly and on her chest. I am now “almost done” but I will go in later (after she takes a break, and the clippers take a break) to make it a pretty cut (i.e. clean shaven).

Tip #8 for Shaving Your Dog: Do It Outside

It’s a big furry mess. I think this picture speaks the truth on this one. This mound of fur was only about a third of the way done with shaving Roby.

Final Thoughts

It’s always good for your dog and your clippers to give them both a break. I give a break after about 20 minutes of shaving. That’s when I notice Roby getting a little more stress (i.e. she starts to slowly walk away) and the clippers are heating up too. That’s also a good time to spray your clippers with the cooling lubricant. Make sure to spray both the back and front while the clippers are running. And it doesn’t take much of this stuff to help cool your clippers. You can also use this at any point during shaving.

On that thought, when you notice your clippers are starting to heat up, you really should take a break. If you hold your clippers so that your finger is touching near the top of your clippers, you will notice the heat. I am not sure how that feels to a dogs skin, if it actually reaches through the fur enough to touch their skin. However, I think about when I was a little girl and my mom would curl my hair with a curling iron and how hot that iron felt. That’s my philosophy and why I turn the clippers off for a short break. It also gives your back a break if you are bending over your dog.

Good luck. Hope this helps you. Here’s my Roby’s after picture if you are interested.

A Coonhound’s Personality and Energy Level

It took me a while to figure out how to get videos from my phone to my computer, but I finally got it. Unfortunately, I took the video sideways (ha!) so you’ll have to view it sideways. I will not do that next time. :-)

Anyhow, I figured after all the serious stuff I’ve been writing, I should put something up here to make you laugh. These two videos make me laugh. The first one is of Helga, my treeing walker coonhound. She was the fourth (and last) dog I rescued. She’s a riot. Enjoy!

The second video (just over a minute) is just as fun. This is Gretta. She’s going to be famous, I just know it! She is the third dog I rescued. It was actually because of Gretta that I decided to get a second coonhound, which is why I got Helga. Again, this video will show you Gretta’s energy level as well. They are both coonhounds, and you will see that their high energy level runs in the coonhound gene pool.

For Finn

Finn

This is a little off-topic for my blog, but maybe not. If something good comes out of this, then it will have created whitespace for me, and maybe whitespace for this little fella, Finn.

My friend Ogi volunteers at CHA. I used to volunteer there too, but once I got my third dog, I thought I better stop. Anyway, Ogi still texts me sometimes when he sees a cute or sweet dog. Last night, I got a series of texts from Ogi, who asked me to blog about Finn. I will simply quote his email to you:

“Here are the pics. Again, they look sad. Maybe too sad to put them up? Maybe put up only the picture of his face (I think that’s the best one)? I also heard that he is on the news tonight. Anyway, this dog is terribly depressed and he has been getting worse every day. Months ago, he was fine and he was paired up with another little dog that he is no longer with. Finn has been alone in the little cage and has just gone down hill over the last few weeks. The saddest part is that he barely pays any attention to people walking by, almost like he has lost all hope that someone will get him out. There is a picture where he is laying down facing the back part of the cage . . . just very sad. I was hoping the news video would let people know that he has been at CHA for over half a year but it didn’t.”
Ogi asked me to post about this in the hopes that maybe the right person would see it and adopt Finn. Finn is good with people, and other dogs. The thing is, he’s 8 years old. It’s really hard for an older dog to get adopted. People get in line for the puppies at a shelter, but the older ones get passed up. And there’s no reason for that, especially for Finn. He’s a good natured little dog, Ogi says. If what Ogi says is true, that he is not paying attention to people as they walk by anymore, he will need a very patient and compassionate person to help bring him out of his depression. If you are interested, you can go to CHA in Westerville, Ohio. They are also having an event this Saturday where the shelter will be open early in the morning (like from 7 am).

Finn often lies with his back facing the front; he didn’t used to do this

As time goes on, some dogs can lose hope and grow depressed

Here is a link to a video where Finn was advertised. You can tell in the video he’s a little sad too. If you or someone you know decided to adopt this dog, I would love to do a follow-up story and let everyone know that this one had a happy ending. Thanks for reading.

 

 

Good Night

The Waltons*

It’s just a little after 10 pm and I’m usually in bed by now, but I’ve been working on one of my projects (which I’ll blog about later). Recently, I found out that a friend from high school is all grown up now and has eleven kids. I thought my sister with eight was a lot! Anyway, as I was working on my project, and thinking about this friend (who’s blog you can read, here), I started thinking about big families in general. And since it was night time, I started thinking about “good night.”

This brought me to thinking about a show I used to watch when I was growing up–a show that I loved to watch: The Waltons. At the end of each episode, the family members, or maybe just a couple of them, would say good night to each other. It was a family tradition for the Waltons, and of course, a tradition for the show. When I was growing up in my family of six (four kids), we used to sometimes mimic the Waltons at night. We’d start off by saying, “good night, Noah!” And Noah might call out, “good night Anna!” And then someone would call out, “good night Jim Bob.” And then we’d start giggling. “Good night John Boy, Mary Ellen . . .” And then mom or dad would holler up the stairs, “You kids go to sleep now.”  This of course would create even more giggling before sleep settled in.

But it’s nice to have someone to say good night to.

My fiance, who normally says good night to me, is in England right now, so I wasn’t able to get a good night. So I thought about you, blog readers, and especially the ones who might be up late at night reading this. Perhaps you are alone. So I’ll say good night to you. I know my brother is alone, so, “good night Noah.”

Good night Brad.

Good night Annie in Taiwan.

Good night Margaret.

Good night Amelia.

Good night you late night Internet surfers.

Good night.

Good night.

*Picture of the Waltons, source: http://www.listal.com/viewimage/45713

Because He’s Good With the Ladies

Don’t blame me, it was Nicky that told me this. She was cleaning up the honey mess in the kitchen as Randy was stepping outside to show me the bees. “Randy always tells me he’s gonna go work the ladies,” Nicky said as I followed him out the door. I liked the sense of humor that sparked him to say that. But that was halfway through our honey extracting project.

When I first got to Randy and Nicky’s house, Randy got right to work. I was there to watch the honey harvesting process. There was already what he called a “super” on the table, full of honey. If you’ve ever seen an apiary, you’ve probably seen what looked like boxes stacked up on top of each other. Randy says the bottom box is their established “home.” It’s the box the beekeeper doesn’t take honey from. The boxes on top are the “supers” and are what the bees would like to think of as their expanded home, but the beekeeper knows them as honey harvest.

the “super”–its ready to harvest

“There’s probably 50 to 60 pounds of honey in that super there,” Randy told me. Then he had me lift up one of the frames. It was heavy and strange to think it was heavy with honey. It was even stranger that the honey wasn’t straining out of the frame. I’m not saying the frame wasn’t sticky, but there were no streams of honey anywhere. That’s because the bees make these honeycombs with wax. The honeycombs are shaped into perfect hexagons that, when the honey is ready to be harvested, the beekeeper knows because the bees have “capped” the tops of the hexagons. The caps hold the honey inside the comb.

Bees make perfect hexagons out of wax. The fully white area is where the bees have “capped” off their hexagons.

Randy started beekeeping about 3 years ago. “It took me 6 to 8 years of reading about it before I could get the guts up to do it.” That’s because Randy is allergic to bee stings. But he said he knew he needed the help of the bees to pollinate his garden. “There’s just not enough bees around here anymore,” he said.

That fact has helped Randy in his honey making business. That’s because bees need plenty of land to keep them happy and Randy doesn’t have that much land. Last year, one of Randy’s neighbors asked him if he would place some of his beehives on his property. The neighbor wanted to benefit from the pollinating factor of the bees too. The honey we were harvesting was from the beehives he had out on the neighbor’s property.

Honey making is a slow process if you don’t have a bunch of money to invest all at once. Once he gets a beehive going, Randy can separate them, and add a queen bee to the new hive so that now he has two hives. But it takes about a year before he can harvest the honey from the new hive. Randy started with just two hives. Now he has about nine or ten with a bunch of supers on top of the hives. He says next year he should harvest enough to sell to a large honey processing factory.

For now, Randy and Nicky extract the honey from their combs themselves. He purchased a manual extractor to assist him.

The honey extractor

Randy said this is a small extractor, but well worth it. The first year, Randy and Nicky extracted the honey by hand. “That was a lot of work,” Nicky told me. It was clear from her expression it was also not something she relished doing. I wouldn’t blame her. Before putting the frames into the extractor, the wax must be uncapped. “Let me show you the high technology we employ to uncap our hives,” Randy said.

Randy and Nicky use a fork to uncap the wax from the comb. They let me try it, and in my ignorance, I broke some of the comb.

“Just scrape the top of it lightly,” Nicky told me. “We’ll place these frames back in the supers and give them back to the bees. They won’t have to rebuild from scratch; they will just need to repair the caps.”  The next step is to simply place the uncapped frames into the extractor.

And then turn the handle on the extractor, which spins the frames around, and the motion causes the honey to be extracted from inside the hexagons.

Randy and Nicky’s son Dylan turning the extractor.

The honey drains through holes in the bottom of the extractor and into a vat. On the top of the vat is a filter, which keeps wax and other stuff from going into the honey vat.

Wax on the filter

This wax is what candle makers use to make their candles. It’s also the raw material for other products like lip balm and soaps. Bees are quite the productive creature. We also can use the pollen that they gather to help cut down on our allergies.

A bowl of bee pollen

Some people eat some of this everyday to introduce the pollens into their system a little at a time. After a while, exposure to the pollen does not cause a reaction in their bodies the way it would had they not eaten the pollen.

Although at first I was disappointed I didn’t get a chance to watch Randy “work with the ladies,” after he took me outside to show me his hives, I decided I was glad I hadn’t been there. I was anxious just standing close enough to get a few good pictures.

Bees on the front porch

It was probably about 4:30 when we went out. Randy said that was a good thing because the bees would be relatively calm. When he showed me these hives, and the bees all congregating on the outside bottom of it, he said, “their just sitting on the front porch now.”

He showed me another hive, this one a smaller box. “That’s an incubator.” When Randy is starting a new group of bees, he places them in these smaller boxes.

Bees in an incubator

Randy has several of these on his property. He’s wondering if maybe this might be better for winter too, as the smaller space may help them achieve their above-98 degree temperature they strive for in their hives. I can just imagine all the bees huddled together like penguins on an ice cube, shifting around with the bee queen in the center, trying to keep her little spot at 98 degrees. “The bees will do anything for their queen,” Randy says. They would die for her. “It’s simply amazing.”

Back inside, the honey has been draining from the vat into a food-quality bucket, but not before being strained once again through cheesecloth.

Straining the honey once more, just for goodness sake

“Beekeepers like to call this liquid gold,” Randy said. And look at that color. It is. It’s liquid gold.

Nicky bottled up some of that liquid gold for me. She even gave me some of the honeycomb for one of my jars.

Jar full of honey and comb

They also bottled some up for one of you readers. If you are interested in some honey, please leave a comment within this blog. If there are enough commenters, then I will make a random drawing and mail the winner a jar of Randy and Nicky’s honey. Also, if you’d like to purchase any of his honey, feel free to leave a brief comment. The comment widget will ask you to leave your email address (for my eyes only) and I will email you back.

Now That’s Good Eatin’!

August 29, 2011 in The Den with 0 Comments

Got to get a little dirty making this soup

I’m gonna call it earth soup. Because it’s from the earth. So I guess any soup you make out of the garden could be called this, but I decided to call it this because I got to dig my hands in a little dirt while making it.

I never go home from my brother Randy and sister-in-law Nicky’s house without something in hand. On Friday, it was vegetables from their garden. I spent a few hours at their house on Friday, and oh, what a good time we had. We did something else I’m gonna write about later, but I’ll keep it a secret till then. Keep you in suspense.

But I’ll tell ya–there’s nothing like being able to make a good pot of soup in which goes vegetables that you personally know were picked only that day (or the day before). And making this soup gave me an even greater appreciation for Randy and Nicky’s garden and encourages me to keep learning through this year until next spring when I can plant my own. As I snapped the green beans, washed them and the potatoes, I thought about all the hard work and pleasure Randy and Nicky put into their garden. A garden that feeds a family. I haven’t planted a garden, but I just get this feeling that there’s a big, good feeling that comes from eating your own vegetables–ones that you grew yourself. So I have to try it.

In the meantime, I had a great feeling just making this soup.

I snapped some beans.

Snapped green beans

Snapped green beans

Washed the dirt off the potatoes.

Washing the potatoes

Cut the potatoes and onions, and stuck it all in my treasured soup pot.

Earth soup–just the veggies

Randy and Nicky told me to just add Jimmy Dean’s sausage and I wouldn’t need any other spices. So that’s exactly what I did. I know that’s not clean eating, but my garsh, it’s good eatin’! And a person has to eat country style every once in a while!

They also gave me some tomatoes and some orange colored pepper of a sort, so I made my first ever batch of homemade salsa. Yum! It was way better than anything I could have gotten at the store.

Fresh salsa made with Randy and Nicky’s fresh tomatoes and pepper

Oh! And almost forgot! They gave me a melon too. :-)

Melon from their garden

I Hate Junk Mail: Project #4

August 24, 2011 in The Den with 4 Comments

Have you ever seen the Seinfeld episode where Kramer is bound and determined to do away with his postal mail? He’s a riot! I totally relate to Kramer in that episode, because I hate junk mail! And I’m talking about the kind that comes into your mailbox at home. The physical one. Not the email one. I hate it. In fact, I hate it so much, I’m going to do something about it. This decision came about, finally, after I came home from work today and found this to greet me:

Full mailbox, as always

This is normal. I’m sure it’s normal for you too.

I’ve been thinking about doing something about it for a long time, which is why it’s on my “projects” list. Finally, today I had enough. Because it’s not just that the mail comes at such astounding frequency (EVERY DAY!!!), it’s so ridiculously CON-SIS-TENT that I’ve never been able to keep up with it. I usually leaf through for important things, and then set it aside for another day. I’ve been doing this for so long, it’s piling up like you wouldn’t believe.

At one point, I tried to organize and create a mail system. Mail was always lying everywhere and I needed space on my kitchen counter to do other things. Like chop vegetables. So I started placing all my mail in a bag so I could take it with me. I thought I might pick through it in the car or wherever. Haha! I was delusional.

First bag full

I had to do that a couple of times.

Just a bag or two, no problem

Now that all my mail was in bags, I didn’t have to think about it so much.

Wrong. It started filling my counter space again. So I cleared out a drawer to place daily mail in. I thought, surely if it’s nearby I will go through it.

First drawer full

That wasn’t big enough, so I cleared out another drawer.

Second drawer started

I would have put it in my filing cabinet, but it was kind of already full of unsorted mail.

Filing cabinet already taken

And that’s just from this year. I don’t even want to think about the boxes I have stashed away that I still need to go through. I have no idea why I do this to myself. Why do I save this crap? Maybe because it all has my name and address on it and maybe some other important information I’d rather not disclose. I don’t know. But it’s time to do something about it. That’s why I gathered all of (this year’s) mail and put it into one place and started this post. Because once I’ve written about it, I know I’m committed to finishing it. So I’ll do a little bit each day until this huge pile is gone.

Please, please tell me I’m not the only one with this problem! Please, please tell me that you struggle with this mail problem too. Maybe mine’s a little drastic? I can’t help but laugh at myself. But, still, I gotta do something!

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