Joy of Comfort Food…

It’s a gorgeous day! We’re working on a project that has us going back and forth to Kansas City and today was one of those, so we had a short meeting and then hit our new fav spot for lunch, where today’s specials were ham & beans, and hot-beef sandwiches. That big hot-beef plate looked and tasted like what my dad and I used to get at Mrs. Taylor’s Café in Dodge City America when I was in grade school, and that makes three times in as many weeks when I’ve been close to tears over food. Daddy would take me with him sometimes on sale days and treat the two of us to Mrs. Taylor’s on the way to the sale barn, sometimes sharing a piece of pie if cattle prices were up. Sight, sound, taste, aroma, all the things intrinsic to memory, were there today while I devoured the whole meal, leaving Kim shocked and grinning. And yes, good ol’ Wonder Bread, which I hadn’t eaten in decades. Feels like I’ve been hungry for a year but couldn’t make it go down – this was like buttah, and life is good. It was a fun day out, all three hours of it, but ask me how I know I’m in my third trimester of living and I’ll tell you it’s because I’d rather be home than anywhere else on the face of the earth.

Thoughts shared on a Thursday…

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The After

It was fall just last month, with leaves covering the ground while our hemisphere said night-night ’til spring… and now spring is HERE, or will be in a couple of days. It’s been cold this week, but the grass is green and the trees are budding. My tall duck-blind here on the corner tells me the story every day, and the takeaway is that nothing is final except death, so where there’s life… hope exists.

I observed a moment of silence yesterday in honor of my Diary-of-The-Year-That-Was, after I made my final entry. She was a sweet muse, my diary friend, and she carried me through dark and light for 365 days without leaving me to my own ends. I missed her immediately, I miss her still… but endings are sometimes the next step in the process if you do it right. I had an imaginary friend around age four whose name was Agnes Opal and whose persona I absorbed, along with her delicious moniker, but she didn’t make it to 1st Grade with me. We were country kids without the privilege of kindergarten at our small school, so I managed to shed all vestiges of Agnes before I was found out by my peers, OMG. Endings… don’t argue when they stop you in your tracks – you may have escaped a fate worse than death and you’ll never even know. My uncles thought it was just damn cute when I said my name was Agnes Opal, but it wouldn’t have given me a great start on the playground, so yeah… endings. Once you figure out that LIFE CONSISTS OF CHANGE from womb to tomb, you own the formula for peace. But full disclosure, it’s tricky to apply.

Today’s our official immunity date after our COVID vaccinations, which will change very few things in our immediate world except for that breathe-a-little-easier feeling. We’ve done what we can, we dealt with a wonky health year in our household, and we’ll keep masking in public for as long as we need to. Douglas County’s new cases yesterday were ZERO, so there’s that hopey-changey thing again, always in the background.

I couldn’t be more ready for spring and the joy of walking onto the balcony barefoot and soaking up sunshine. It’s a good time to come out of the cave.

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It’s Thursday in America… page 225

Kim Smith 03/04/2021

Day 354 – 03/04/2021

This is the day. We’re here… March 4th. Word on the street is that Q is in charge, the former guy will be re-inaugurated today as America’s rightful president, JFK Jr. and Elvis will appear on the Capitol steps, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton will be impeached, and Mike Pence will turn into an actual Q-tip and spontaneously combust, setting off fireworks INSIDE the dome. It’s gonna be LIT, America! Meanwhile, Congress opted to take a skip day, which puts a damper on the fun and games, and I’m just gonna hide and watch while the dreams go somewhere to die. My sympathy to those who find themselves on the wrong side of history today.

We’re still bathed in pleasant temps and sunshine, and we have things to keep us occupied and moving forward, so that’s the plan. Kim’s morning and part of his afternoon are full, and this evening is our date with destiny at Sigler’s for second shots. I felt life returning as soon as we got the first one, and all the things I haven’t let myself think about for the past year are rising to the top again.

This picture my friend Ivy posted has all the feels in it and says things I want to but can’t. I don’t think he’ll mind if I save it in my diary for future times when I need its message…

Each successive generation of humans sees itself as the be-all-end-all to the world, but life goes on, over and over. We’ll soon be returning to a less-tethered lifestyle and I hope it will be with the intent to make things better than The Before. It would be a tragedy to have isolated ourselves for a year and learned nothing.

Good news, the Ship of State is afloat again.

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A Thursday… page 221

Kim Smith 02/23/2021

Day 347 – 02/25/2021

Saw the sun for a while this morning before a cloud layer dimmed the lights a little. Not a bad day ahead, 40s and low breezes, then 60s again by Saturday, so we’re sloping toward spring by increments.

A year “on the inside” has noticeably lowered my threshold for delicacy, illustrated perfectly by the arrival yesterday of the bamboo back-scratcher I ordered. After shattering my left shoulder and the extensive surgery on the right, my little T-Rex arms reach only so far, along with Kim’s forbearance, so the mothers of invention prevail again.

Every once in a while I remember why I started a blog in the first place, beyond John’s suggestion that it might be a good exercise. I started writing (again) because I was in my late 50s and had a clear sense of life’s brief candle. Dad, Robert, and Daddy had died one after the other, I’d moved, I was into my life with Kim, and it was time to slow the roll and observe the moments. Over the past fifteen years there have been many and I’m glad most of them are here for me to revisit any time. Every good thing in my life is a result of someone’s caring… thanks for this one, John.

If I don’t listen to the continuing clamor from the right, I think we’re starting to heal. What’s denied NEVER heals, so it’s been a crucial beginning for President Biden to bring us together via candlelight memorials and fireside talks, recognizing that more than a half-million humans living within our borders have died in a pandemic that is far from over. It’s vital for a president to say it out loud, acknowledge what happened, and help us grieve so we can start rebuilding. On this side of the fence it feels like we’re home again, it’s still here, and we can put it right… together.

The turmoil continues outside these walls, especially in the halls of government, but now, with solid moral leadership in place, there are ways to tame the uproar. By the time we get our second vaccinations and wait some more, we might merge back into a society that’s finding its footing again. The thought of that kind of freedom is tantalizing and worth the price it takes on all our parts to get there. I don’t regret staying out of the fray, there’s been no need for me to be out there. Baby sister is fully shot up now, so we’ll be a force in our own minds again soon. Maybe Saturday will at least be warm enough for another walk…

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Thursday sunlight… page 217

East Lawrence 02/18/2021 – Kim Smith

Day 340 – 02/18/2021

Heat wave today! Twelve degrees at 7am, feels like 4, headed for a high of 22º and sunshine. There’s still something shiny in the air that resembles snow, switching from flakes to sparkles every few minutes, so the snowpocalypse that wasn’t… continues.

We’re in fine shape here but feeling for the people in Texas and elsewhere who are without resources for coping. Also without leadership – TX guv is ineffective, and the guy with the skunk mullet has fled to warmer climes. Cancun sounded good to him this season, while at least one 75-year-old Texas couple are sleeping in their car at night to keep warm and the people down the street are burning their wooden fence in their fireplace. The world’s asking if America’s finished, and I’ve seriously wondered the same thing over the past few years, but I’ll keep hoping and working on the things I can, and I’ll run my mouth ’til I die, that’s a given. If it has no other effect, it keeps me square with myself and able to sleep at night.

In general, the realities of life are improving. A month into his administration, President Biden is quickly getting a handle on the fallout from the previous one. COVID vaccine distribution planning is being rescued, repaired, and put into action. The president’s goal of one million shots per day in his first 100 days is being surpassed – we’re now approaching two million per day and should soon reach three. COVID financial relief is very much in the pipeline at last, world leaders who don’t respect us are being firmly and calmly dealt with, and racial conflict is being addressed in more mature ways by knowledgeable, caring people. The Biden team is tackling our economic issues realistically, and infrastructure may yet get its fifteen minutes of fame – all without Uncle Joe’s face on TV every hour, yelling incomprehensible monologues out of his mouth hole. Good stuff… and wait, there’s more!

Life here, barring interference from nasty COVID variants or other unforeseens, could actually return to a semblance of normality by Christmas. Christmas THIS YEAR. That’s a carrot for my psyche, propelling me forward. From here, December looks like a warm comforter filled with the stuff of life – people, sweet occasions, food shared, uninhibited laughter, the pleasure of getting in the car and going… anywhere. That’s been the goal since we sheltered last March, with everyone still alive to share in it. So far, so good on a strictly personal level – but there are a half-million families grieving the ones who didn’t make it through. Life has changed in the nation over the past year, and I’ve changed with it in ways I won’t be able to reverse when the doors are open again. I don’t foresee myself going to any future big events without a mask… shaking hands was always a squicky habit, so it’ll be hugs for the people I know and love, elbow-bumps for the rest… and I may never break out of hermit mode because it works for me. I live and breathe solitude… and in here, Kim’s the only one who knows the goofy things I say and do.

Oh, but people… Streisand knows the answer to that one… so staying in here forever probably wouldn’t be a good plan. Deciding to trust hearts again, that’s the mission, should I choose to accept it.

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Hearing impaired… page 213

Day 333 – 02/11/2021

Oops, didn’t know I totally left my diary out of the equation yesterday ’til I peeked in here this morning. Wonder what I did all day? Oh yeah, same thing I did the day before that – I watched wall-to-wall coverage of DJT’s Senate trial before a jury of his peers, including an oversized cohort of enablers. The case presented by the House Impeachment Managers is one of the most incredible pieces of work I’ve ever witnessed – a clear, concise timeline of the events leading up to and taking place on January 6th, each dot connected to the next and supported with stills, video, Twitter posts, time stamps, in-their-own-voice sound bites, all seamlessly spooled out without wasted words from the Managers. Only the most jaded in the Senate or elsewhere could deny direct culpability on the part of the former president… therefore, many will. The House Managers intend to wrap up their presentation of evidence today or tomorrow and then his defense team, hastily assembled after the first team walked, will duck and weave in an attempt to put up some sort of wall between Donald Trump and the facts. In their introductory remarks on Tuesday, we got a taste of what that’s going to look like and wall-to-wall watching won’t be a temptation on that round. They seem to have no clue how to deliver a defense they don’t have, and five years of continuous lies have been enough for me. So… I’ll have to find some other excuse for being nonproductive. Ah, weekend just in time – I’m set.

This is history. I watched Nixon’s impeachment hearings on a little black & white TV on a farm in the middle of nowhere, while 3-year-old John played on the floor and napped next to me. The Watergate details were titillating, surprising, in some ways shocking, but Richard Nixon and the events around his impeachment look like kindergarten shenanigans in comparison to what has transpired under DJT. As Dan Rather said, “This is the trial and the evidence the Republicans truly feared.” None of it will change their verdict, but they most certainly didn’t want the world to see it.

The House Managers played this video in its entirety for the assembled jurors… thirteen minutes that ask “If this doesn’t require accountability, what would?”

Should be required viewing for everyone over age eighteen, but I know that’s cliché and won’t happen. It’s crystal clear that Donald Trump carefully and steadily fomented rebellion in an attempt to remain in office, and the results speak for themselves. Another day, another information dump about what he and his posse got up to in the halls of government, and my takeaway is that this can never be allowed to happen again.

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Quiet… page 208

Day 326 – 02/04/2021

Granny’s Morning Weather Report: We started the day with huge snowflakes that could have kept falling all day and into the night without hurting our feelings, but no, the sun’s shining through at noon, and it’s just cold and windy out. Kim’s making chicken-noodle-vegetable soup for lunch and the aroma’s incredible. FEED ME, SEYMOUR! How sweet it is that he likes to cook and excels at it – best restaurant in town.

He had errands to do, so I’m here being good… and that’s about it.

I’m watching today as events play out in Congress and I haven’t heard any apologies yet, just an abundance of calls for unity and reconciliation. The simplest things are the hardest for the QOP to understand, is what I’m getting out of it.

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I’m not angry every second of every day anymore, so I’m calling that a win, and I’m glad I haven’t allowed the circumstances of the past year(s) to permanently warp me.

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A Thursday… page 201

Day 319 – 01/28/2021

I woke up early, just as Kim was leaving for his walk. When he came back he had a bagel in his pocket AND he was glad to see me. He said it was 24º with a real-feel of 19… hardy soul. Any day that starts with Einstein’s is in danger of turning really good, so I’m standing by. We might actually get to see somebody we love later today – it’s been months – and the Jayhawks play tonight, so the possibilities are lining up.

We’re almost a month into the new year and it’s feeling better every day, having the adults in charge… but the damage is still a little overwhelming. From a friend: “A second Capitol police officer has committed suicide. A statement was also released saying 140 cops were injured, in addition to the one killed and the first suicide. One cop is going to lose his eye. One was stabbed with a piece of fencing. Others were beaten severely. Mostly by folks who would probably tell you they’re all about law & order and supporting the Thin Blue Line.” It’s impossible to unify with that, so the grown-ups know what the task ahead looks like.

Another friend shared this:

“There’s no way that America would have elected an openly racist sociopath for a president, stood idly by as children were put into cages, a pandemic was ignored and science turned into a dirty word as we all hurtle toward an open race war where the government backs the wrong side. Yet, here we are… ”

People are suffering horribly, here and around the planet – we have to be about fixing that, one starfish at a time.

Our country’s on its way again and really good news is hitting our eyes and ears minute by minute… but I did nail down what this *limbo-life and other-shoe* sense of things comes from: We’re at least temporarily rid of Trump, but not trumpism, and its devotees seem entirely disinclined to turn loose of minority rule, so where does this end, if ever? If the head guy and his posse aren’t held accountable for all the death and desecration they’ve wrought, then we just hosted a 4-year rehearsal for the next coup, and a subsequent wannabe dictator will likely be smart.

But… here we are … -X- … and life is good, that’s the truth.

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Note to Self: F is for… friends, fairies, flowers, fish, and frogs.

Also, there’s more good soup and bread for lunch. ♥️

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Feeling good… page 195

Day 312 – 01/21/2021

“It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life for (you and) me.”

Yesterday’s inaugural was amazing, beautiful, and healing. It was America in all our incredible diversity… and it was just right. Chris Wallace said he’s been listening to presidential inaugural addresses since JFK, and Joe Biden’s is the best he’s ever heard. I listened to all of them too, and he’s right – it was exactly what the nation needed.

President Biden’s day yesterday began at 6am and ended at midnight. He gave four speeches, signed seventeen executive orders, swore in 1,000 workers, walked down Pennsylvania Ave to the White House, at a run a few times, on his recently broken foot, and more. Late last night he was watching the Parade Across America on TV, holding his great-grandson, with a cozy fire going, still on his feet, not a chair in sight. He was back at work in the Oval Office early this morning. And then some idiot named Hannity referred to him as “the weak, the frail, the cognitively struggling Biden.” Yeah, I watched him in operation all day and saw none of that, so Mr. Hannity can tell it to the rain.

Time to bid farewell to the circus that was the outgoing administration. Time to let the memory of it fade away. Time to forget we ever had to deal with those people on an hour-by-hour basis. Time to let that name leave our mouths, and for the ubiquitous red hat to become our shameful swastika. The Spooky Men know…

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We made it out alive. And now we get busy fixing things.

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Goodbye to Donald J. Trump, the man who wanted to be Conrad Hilton but turned out to be Paris Hilton. – National Review

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Feeling funny… page 189

Day 305 – 01/14/2021

I’m in the mood for a humor infusion this morning, so thanks to my friend Patty for the material!

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HISTORY NOTE: The House of Representatives impeached Donald J. Trump yesterday, for the second time in his term, on charges of “incitement of insurrection” against the U.S. government and “lawless action at the Capitol.”

It’s a gray day, and a spa soak sounds exactly right.

 

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New Year’s Eve… page 180

Day 291 – 12/31/2020

Better news yesterday, therefore it was a better day, cold but sunny. Little happened, and sometimes that’s the good news. Still waiting to hear on a COVID test (not mine), but it’s likely that a bullet has been dodged, and now we all find ourselves on the cusp of a whole new pack of challenges. I remember how we couldn’t wait for 2019 to end so there’s no such wild-eyed optimism on my part today – 2020 couldn’t have been dreamed up if we’d tried, and 2021 will no doubt leave a mark as well.

For starters, we’ll still have to suffer Jim Jordan and his buddies…

Do wrestling coaches not take history classes?

They’re all still out there and they’re neither leaving nor shutting up, so it’s up to me to wrap myself in a few protective layers to counterbalance what they’re putting out into the world – their lack of humanity is too toxic to allow inside. A good beginning would be to disown all the guilt in the universe that isn’t mine, and then ditch any guilt that IS mine, starting small and working my way through the heap.

DECEMBER 31, 2020 MISSION STATEMENT:

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Just saying… page 168

Day 277 – 12/17/2020

I should stay off social media in the interest of good health… but who am I kidding, those are the only people I talk to outside of about three for real. So I’m romping through Twitter and I see that Tucker Carlson, who apparently has a BA from Trinity College and is therefore always right, has declared Dr. Jill Biden, our soon-to-be First Lady, a woman who earned two masters degrees and a doctorate while raising a family… to be illiterate, despite her having been a professor of English for the past couple of decades.

Tucker, I wish you could have a cordial sit-down with my friend Tanya, who says…

“Tucker Carlson is a hack who was so utterly eviscerated by Jon Stewart he had to disappear from public eye for a while (too bad it was not permanent). The utter fear these folks have for intelligent, educated, and kind women (and men) who use their privilege to better society vs tear it down for their own benefit is palpable.”

Meanness comes from a knowledge of your own inadequacy. And from stupidity. And from having your twisted goals thwarted by your superiors. If people like Tucker could realize how transparent they are they’d never step in front of a camera again.

This was out there, too, and the proverbial lightbulb over my head did its number because I see clearly how the term antifa… anti-FA… anti-FASCIST became an epithet. Anything conflated with a Democrat will eventually come to mean *enemy* and here we are.

A friend thanked me on Facebook yesterday for being brave, but I had to tell her it isn’t really about that… it’s that if you don’t speak up you start dying. It feels odd at first to be vocal about what matters, but once I realized that nobody on this earth holds anything over me that can hurt me it was obvious that I have to use the time I have left to say what I know. Somebody could take my birthday away, I guess, but that will eventually happen anyway and staying silent while I live would kill my soul.

It will all sort itself out and life will go on… for the living… but now Lumpy’s saying he doesn’t plan to leave the White House and I have to wonder if there’s anybody left on his side who will finesse the ending. Doesn’t matter, he’s going because LAW & ORDER, but just a bit of backbone would have gone a long way, long ago.

And then there’s this, no extra words needed… other than “those filthy immigrants.”

Some mornings I wake up and it simply isn’t worth chewing through the restraints. And then I remember that I have you, Diary, and the day gets better. 💋

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Trying to Christmas… page 161

Day 270 – 12/10/2020

I went to bed last night thinking the weather was slated to change overnight, but instead we get a BONUS day. By the time Kim comes home around 3:00 or so, he’ll have played four hours of outdoor PickleBall, which will likely have to last him for a couple of weeks or more. So while he’s out storing up endorphins, I’ve been rattling around here unsupervised and I’ve actually made a bit of productive headway.

We’re into double digits for December already, which used to be the signal to panic. I haven’t sent out Christmas cards in decades, but if I were to ratchet that up again I’d probably choose this design:

Searching my psyche, looking for why THIS year I would feel my skeptical heart opening to Christmas magic. I think it’s the sweetness, the gentle spirit about the whole thing, the sense of kindness under it all. I’m hungry for purity and human caring, which is why anything containing those ingredients breaks me now. Like this performance by Carter Rubin on The Voice. He recently turned 15 and is one amazing soul… this is exquisite with headphones.

Keeping an eye out for the sweetness and the humor…

Yup, if you’ve eaten hot dogs, SPAM, Cheez Whiz, chicken nuggets, or any number of other weird American fare choices, you’ve put plenty of foreign matter into your carcass without asking a single question. Too late, friends and neighbors.

This little video is the only thing out there that could keep up with Carter today… it’s everything.

Photo Credit: Kim Smith 12/10/2020

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Loving everybunny… page 154

Day 263 – 12/03/2020

For so many reasons, Christmas has been a non-event in my life for the past 25 years or so (other than that first magical one with Kim in 2004 which we decided we could never top), but today is December 3rd and my immediate world needs some cheer, so holiday mode it is. It was fun to have a mini-blizzard to start things off – a few minutes of tiny snow flurries – and my space heater’s keeping my toes warm this morning. ❄️❄️❄️

When I walked over to the barbershop at 8am it was below freezing, but no wind so no biggie. Says we might get rain today, with low 50s and sunny through the weekend. Sounds just fine.

The Jayhawks have been playing every couple of nights and we have a televised game to look forward to again tonight – Washburn here at 7pm. We’re 2 – 1 so far and the team’s coming together the way it happens every year… essential players leave, FNGs come in and learn the ropes, you gradually get a whole new team and life goes on. Sometimes it all gels into a beautiful thing and it’s always worth hanging around to find out.

Still taking our distractions where we find them, even though in a world loosed from its moorings things like sports and TV require a certain amount of cognitive dissonance to enjoy. Even the parts based in reality are sometimes a bridge too far alongside knowledge of what the pandemic and sedition in government are doing to us.

Aiming for holiday happiness, though. Pollyanna’s no quitter.

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Rollin’ on… page 143

Day 249 – 11/19/2020

We’re headed for 76º and sunny, so if it isn’t too windy for PickleBall Kim will get a reprieve from the four walls – plus his walk and a bike ride. He already took pictures at the river this morning.

I updated my iMac to Big Sur OS and it wouldn’t boot back up so I left it because I’d already clocked out for the day. This morning Google and I found the key and we’re in business again, whew! This baby’s my lifeline for the foreseeable.

“Lawrence’s hospital is projecting a more than 500% increase in COVID-19 inpatients in the next two weeks, Douglas County Health Officer Dr. Thomas Marcellino, an infectious disease expert, said Tuesday night at a town hall meeting on the pandemic.” – Lawrence Journal World

I’m really not cranked about any excursion that requires packing a diaper bag.

We can’t save people from themselves, we can’t even save ourselves from them. They seem bent on killing us to prove a point, although that point is elusive – the actual why. Simple health protocols have become too difficult for Americans – what was it that generated this visceral lack of concern for the human race? What has incited nearly half our population to this level of animus toward the ones who try hardest to save us from ourselves, and to literally keep us breathing? What activates that desire to inflict harm, to punish other humans for being? It’s in all of us, we want to be right. We want to have our voices heard, whether we’re saying anything or not. We want to be justified in our choices and decisions. And most of all, we don’t want anyone telling us what to do. And we’re losing the fight for life.

Kim’s photo of the granite bedrock below the dam is talking to me this morning. Took it millions of years to get that way, and man’s machinations don’t affect it much. Granite will still line the riverbed millions of years from now if nobody pushes the red button. So is the lesson simply to BE THERE? To hang in for the long haul? To let it all wash over you and on to the ocean? Mr. Granite Slab does well with that – feelings aren’t part of his chemistry, Mr. GS don’t care. The rest of us are on our own.

Photo Credits: Kim Smith 11/19/2020

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