Still… page 48

Day 69 – 05/20/2020

A milestone – Kim got a haircut this morning at seven and came home with the swagger of a new man. As long as I get there before my dr.’s appointment a month away I’m good, but my goal is Monday or so after the desperate have had their shot at it all week.

Otherwise just maintaining. It’s been a windy spring and not consistently warm yet by any means, but we’re outside on the balcony for all the benevolent minutes we can catch. East Lawrence is in its glory right now – green as far as the eye can see. In the photo above and the one below, you’re looking at hundreds of houses and thousands of people but you can’t see them. The top photo is our view from the south corner of our balcony, and this one is directly across the street – in both directions a house on every lot, cleverly camouflaged by Mama Nature. The yards are like cocoons and seem especially inviting to stay home in this season.

Feels good to be here. Covid-19 cases in our county, which rubs elbows with Kansas City, are currently at 61, with 53 recovered and no deaths, which tells me people here in this university town take their science seriously. Kim rarely sees a shopper or worker without a mask when he goes for necessities. That feels soothing and reassuring, along with the way Mass Street shops are creating safe environments in which to do business. The barbershop we both go to apparently has it down to a science already, go Lawrence. It’s good to call you *home.*

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Staying in… page 37

Day 46 – 04/27/2020

Pretty morning, with rain before sunup. Kim planted asparagus ferns yesterday and they’ve had their first drink of rainwater – always a good omen.

Last night we watched “No Direction Home,” a Scorsese follow-up documentary on Bob Dylan which is likely precisely the way Bobby Zimmerman wants to be remembered. At 3-and-a-half hours it was way worth it for these two old throwbacks – great footage and interviews… and all the remembered things.

I had Kim document my home-grown haircut, which called for a touch of makeup, and when I opened my kit nothing looked all that familiar… like what do I do first? Hadn’t so much as looked at in 50+ days. Here’s my DIY Monkey Business in the front, Squirrel Party in the back haircut, still damp from the shower. My grandparents were pioneers, dammit, I will survive.

And in case you need to hear this today… Kurt Vonnegut for the win… again. ūüíô

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Gimme Shelter… page 22

Day 28 – 04/09/2020

Beautiful morning, crisp and still. Kim’s out for his dawn patrol of Mass Street and environs while the girl has coffee and works on being alive. Also studying the spider web on the window, bigger by the day, obviously prime real estate for the fat arachnid that perches in its middle at night and scampers to a hidey-hole when the sun shows up. Ever’body gotta make a living.

Odd experience yesterday. I rode with Kim to pick up our repaired blinds, and on the way back up Iowa we could see flashing lights. Looked like there’d been a wreck until we were right on it and realized there were no car pieces, but a couple dozen items of knit clothing strewn across three lanes of traffic. Just as we passed by, I saw the body on the greenway, face in the grass, handcuffed behind the back, and either wearing flesh-colored tights or naked from the waist down, looked female. Totally bizarre, and I haven’t found anything about it in the news yet. Makes ya’ wonder what ELSE people get up to when nobody’s looking…

It was 90¬ļ here yesterday… and by Sunday we have a chance of snow. Go home, world, you’re drunk.

*All photos property of Kim Smith

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Gimme Shelter… page 21

Day 27 – 04/08/2020

A gentle-feeling morning, with fog hanging in the trees. We have a forecast high today of 84¬ļ with wind, so the softness at 7am is nice.

Speaking of nice, yesterday was. Kim had to deliver something across town and invited me to ride shotgun. The ride was welcome after being inside for about a month, but the sights were sobering – brought it all home in a big way. Pretty much nothing is open except for curbside pickup. Mass Street is a ghost town. Saw people on their porches, but not many out and about on foot, and no kids running around anywhere.

Our delivery was the wooden blinds for the balcony door, in need of having a cord replaced and restrung. The storeowner opened the door a crack and asked Kim if he’d traveled anywhere recently. When he said no, she motioned for him to step away, placed a rubbermaid tub outside the door, told him to lay the rolled-up shade on it, and when he was back in the car she reached out and picked it up. Hello, brave new world.

Prettiest day of the year so far – high 70s, little breeze, warm sunshine – felt like a big hug. When we got back from our errand, Kim rode his bike on the levee while I took all my toys to the balcony. He was home in an hour, wondering if 3:30 was too early to day-drink, and the party was on – we watched the pink full moon come up, and did our part to solve the problems of the world. Too bad nobody listens to us…

A gift this morning from John’s supervisor and friend…

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An epic love story… *

*…but not the one you think

It’s story time, boys and girls, so pull up a sunny patch of rug and help yourselves to coffee.

The soothing Sunday morning sounds washing over me from the other side of the wall are brought to me by a Southern California kid with a lifetime guitar jones. He got enough Christmas cash when he was eleven to buy one of his own and his dad drove him to a strip mall on a Sunday afternoon to see what they could find. He brought home a little Kawai with nylon strings and shut himself in his bedroom to figure it out.

There was no internet of course, no guitar backing-tracks, no online instruction, not even the thought that someone in the immediate area might give private lessons, let alone how a kid might pay for those. He did start at the Boys’ Club woodworking shop with his dad when he was eleven, but that was gratis except for the experience.

Without benefit of social media and the kind of advertising we take entirely for granted now, he was unaware that many famous guitar makers were based right where he lived. Later, thoughts of missed opportunities shot through his brain. Rickenbacker was in Santa Ana, Fender was in Fullerton, he could have walked there! How much would a job at one of those places have altered his life?

He was out making his own money by thirteen washing dogs, then a paper route, followed by Kaplan’s Bakery, the dream of being a guitar player eventually a low-banked fire, as the music scene in Southern California took on a life of its own and he went off to Viet Nam so he could come home with his head held high. When he got back of course, everything had changed and the mood of the country was a little hostile toward dreamers, so first order of business was a responsible job, and from then on life looked like a series of management positions, entrepreneurial projects, marriage and family.

The guitar thing refused to leave him alone, however, and by the time I discovered his presence in the world he owned four of them, plus amps, mics, speakers, recording equipment, the whole nine yards. Our shared love of music conspired to bring us together in a band setting, and for the past nearly sixteen years I’ve had the joy of watching a small parade of beautiful instruments make their way in and out of our house, and of marking his progression from wannabe to still-shy pretty-wow-player. He’s traded and strummed his way from a high of thirteen worthy guitars to a current eight that he lovingly pays attention to, giving them rotating places of honor on stands within reach.

I’ve sat on one of Ed Roman’s black couches in his Las Vegas guitar store (now gone) more than once while Kim played all the incredible guitars he wanted to touch and hold and hear. He hangs onto the blonde Strat that kissed him back – he might never part with her for the way she draws the music out of him, much like the little Taylor he came across last year just as a windfall blew through for him. He picked up an antique lap steel in the same deal and started taking lessons to challenge himself – that’s how a guy keeps rolling.

My respect for his desire, determination, and hard work knows no bounds. He’s put in the hours, day after day, year after year, to figure out how to do what he wants most to do. On the flipside, my beautiful little grand piano sits silent while I let body pain and hearing loss keep me off the bench, and that’s all I’m sayin’ about that, life being what it is.

My husband has been my hero since the Easter Sunday he walked into my house to cook dinner for me, decided first things first and kissed me good, then got down to the business of looking out for me because I was so clearly in need of same. He knows what he wants, doesn’t always get it, but has never been afraid to work his ass off for it. So if plump 2020 isn’t the year I put mine back on that bench, it prolly isn’t gonna happen. Pray for me, kids. ūüíč

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Happy B’day to the KIMN8R…

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You know those days when everything that can go wrong does? When you just can’t catch a break? When everything crumbles to dust at your touch? Yeah, there are plenty of those but today wasn’t one of them, not at all.

First, it’s Kim’s birthday and we walked over to Jefferson’s for a fish & chips lunch. We’ll go to Limestone tomorrow for a fitting celebration – his age finally has a 7 in it like mine, but in a different spot.

Second, the great condo we put on the market almost five years ago sold. Today. Funds are in the bank.

Third, the University of Kansas Jayhawks are playing Clemson in the Sweet Sixteen this evening and we’ll be stuck like glue to the game.

Fourth, we saw again today what wonderful friends we have and how sweet life is because of that.

Fifth, we have terrific family. That’s everything.

Milestones are a good opportunity to look around and see what’s changed since the last one. All the good stuff is still here and so are we – that’ll work.

 

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Leavin’, on a jet plane…

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This morning someone I love flew home to her family and I miss her already. We said our goodbyes last night, five days after she arrived, and 40 years after we’d last seen each other.

Katie grew up in Michigan while my environment was the western Kansas landscape. She was a city girl, I was a country mouse trying to keep up and to figure out what made her so incredibly cool.

We were together only a handful of times over the years, but there was a bond that made us sisters as well as cousins. Life happened, of course. Katie birthed seven babies in eight years and added an eighth baby just for good measure, so she got a little too busy for letter-writing. I was preoccupied with the details of my own budding existence, so we gradually lost touch.

Enter Facebook: something I posted moved Katie to call me with the news that she was coming to Kansas to see my two sisters and me – and three days later she did. Four decades of involuntary separation melted away within seconds and we were sisters again. The hours flew by, as they do when we’re having fun, and it was over too soon. The memories are for keeps, though, so no crying – just plans for seeing each other again, sooner rather than later.

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Rita, Susan, Judy, and Katie

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The calm before the earthquake…

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Another beautiful Saturday morning in the neighborhood – Farmers Market is busy, #lfk is opening her arms to us as always, the sun’s shining, 67¬ļ and easy. Friends who are family have included us in their 3-Day Labor Day Blow-Out, so the day promises lazy fun around the pool and great food including BANANA PUDDING!!

The Official Saturday Breakfast that hasn’t diminished an iota in more than twelve years of Saturdays – always the best-tasting, most satisfying meal of the week – has been humbly savored.¬†And now Kimmers is in his Happy Place, the one with the stove, putting together a big pot of beans & hotlinks for the Framily. The sun is in its heaven and all’s right with the world – we’d make every day look pretty much like this if it were in our power.

Turns out, and experience teaches us this, there’s bloody¬†little we control, and there are watershed events as we roll through life that abruptly stop the momentum and make us take an accounting. Therefore, second, third, eleventh¬†chances cannot be overrated, and spending vital chunks of the past week with my cherished baby sister has driven¬†that point home as nothing else has in years. It’s never a bad idea to stop and take a look under¬†our public face, down to the one we wear for our own use, and past that to the Real Us. A fresh face-off (see what I did there?) with mortality is an exquisite motivator to change what needs changing, fix what needs fixing, just DO it, now instead of someday.

To close out The Week That Was, we had an earthquake mere¬†seconds after Kim took the sunrise picture. It was apparently 5.6 at its epicenter,¬†3.2 here, 235 miles northeast. Rattled things pretty energetically up here on the 4th floor…but after the earthshaking week behind us it was only¬†an entertaining blip.

I hope your Labor Day celebrations will be earthshaking in all the best ways.

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Memorial Weekend…again

Went back to my 2014 remembrance post this morning, knowing that for too many people every weekend is memorial weekend.

It’s a typically¬†perfect¬†Memorial Day morning here, like so many from my childhood, when every year we could count on it to be¬†raining or blistering hot and windstill, or freezing cold, or all of the above, in gusts, or maybe cool and clear after one of those rains. In Lawrence this morning it’s 79¬ļ headed for 82, sunny, blue skies, humidity has dropped from 89% when I went out at 7am to 60% five hours later, and it’s exquisitely beautiful¬†out.

But life holds more than beauty ¬†– especially for those who will never see any of it again – and cloudy skies take over sometimes. ¬†By 2pm we’re supposed to be mostly under cloud cover here, which seems altogether fitting for the day.

In 2016 I reshare my family’s story out of gratefulness, and out of reverence for, and abhorrence of, unspeakable loss on all sides throughout the generations.

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First posted Memorial Weekend 2014 (with edits 5/30/2016 – a personalized haiku for anyone who’s bored enough to find them all – link provided below.)

My grandpa enlisted in the Army at the age of 17 and served at the front as an infantryman during WWI. ¬†His six sons were all military men, Army, Navy, and Marines. ¬†The three Marines, 18, 19, and 21 were in the Korean Conflict at the same time, in the same general location, under miserable conditions. ¬†All seven Reese military personnel returned¬†home intact in body and went on to raise thriving families of their own. ¬†Many of my cousins have also served with honor in the military. ¬†The only family member I’m aware of, without digging into the archives, who was¬†directly lost to war, was my Aunt Bette’s husband, making her a teenage widow with a baby. The baby, my cousin Vickie, is standing in front of her mother¬†and between our grandparents in the family portrait. My mama is top right in both the portrait and the thumbnail pics, somehow descriptive of her position in my life for all time. And kudos today to my Baby Aunt Barbara, lower right in both, who put this collage together.

So thankful to have four of the original Reese Dynasty kids – Vic, Jerry, Barbara, and Roger – present and accounted for, on this Memorial Remembrance in the year 2016. Hugs and kisses all around, beloved.

Ongoing family is priceless. Feeling deeply thankful right about now.

Reese Family

 

Okay, Constant Reader, the edits took on a life of their own, so don’t even try. If, however, you’d originally thought you might, for the haiku, throw me a subject and I’ll do it anyway!

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A throwback to other lifetimes…

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Once upon a time there lived a little farm girl with big dreams – and who knows where that comes from?

Her mother, grandmothers, a grandpa, her aunties, uncles, sisters and cousins were voracious readers so there was never a shortage of books at hand, all of which were free for the borrowing if you thought you were big enough. {Except for that one in the top of the closet РZOWEE!}  So yeah, big dreams got planted Рextra points and a high five for the sweet double entendre, thank you.

She thought she was smart Рshe was told as much in subtle ways by other smart people, by which we mean her sassiness was nurtured to an appalling degree, thanks, Fam.

Alas, however, a shocking number of pivotal, paramount, life-and-death aspects of life were still unexplored at a juncture when that information would have been so very helpful to our farm girl. Since she was lacking in skills acquired only through knowledge, we’re forced to conclude that she was not nearly as smart as she might have thought. Let’s just¬†say mistakes were made. Or in the words of her farm grandma, “Too soon old…too late schmart.” Sorry, chicky.

The girl grew up, sort of, and did the thing she said she’d never do¬†– she¬†married a farmer. And then a lot happened: a son, a life, a love, beautiful times, ugly times, hard and dirty work, serious illnesses, deaths, near-deaths, caregiving, more deaths, colossal lifestyle adjustments…and she matured, which is not the same as growing¬†up. Our girl continues to reject that as a viable option.

She tossed those beat up green Ropers out and hasn’t been behind the wheel of a tractor or combine for more than a dozen years – a lifetime ago; however, we’ve all heard the wisdom that says you can take the girl off the farm but you can’t take the farm out of the girl. That’s truth right there, I don’t care who ya’ are. Here’s another one – you can’t take the dream out of the dreamer – and big dreamers win big.

 

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Honoring Throwback Thursday

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Casting a long shadow at five years old on a San Francisco street corner, little me in her plaid-lined high-waters and namesake tee, a gift from one of my sweet, hunky uncles. I still have that teeny-beany T-shirt tucked away in a box.

I vividly remember entertaining large-scale dreams early on as my wee pudding-brain started jelling – life as a farm girl was simplified down to its essence, but the world felt limitless and open to me, thanks to my mom and my grandmothers who dropped clues I couldn’t miss. The kernel of all those dreams somehow escaped with its life in spite of everything – adolescence didn’t kill it, marriage and family didn’t smother it, loss couldn’t force it to crawl into a hole and die – and now I¬†get to live the remaining dreams on my own terms. ¬†They no longer seem so big – being a published writer isn’t the point anymore, I simply¬†have to write or expire. Having a summer place in Colorado and a winter spot in California sounds merely exhausting. Kim and I fully intended to own a sailboat, sooner rather than later, but we turned down a prime opportunity last year because…that ship has sailed. He’s Navy and a veteran SoCal sailor, but when you own a boat you never run out of work, which sounded heinous in the light of day. Besides, a nest-egg stretches only so far.

What I remember about this Cali trip with my parents, who’d schlepped me to half the states in the union by this time, is that my sister Susan, nine months old, wouldn’t have anything to do with us when we picked her up from Grandma & Grandpa’s house. Broke my widdle heart, but she got over it, after which I undoubtedly started distressing her again. Aw, I hope not.

Incredibly, this photo was taken almost 64 years ago, which gives it the feel of belonging to someone else, and yet my DNA knows it’s from my lifetime. The hope on that little girl’s face, mixed with just a whiff of healthy skepticism, makes me happy this morning. Hope is hard to kill – it will die a thousand deaths before it reluctantly leaves us, and it has the power to keep us putting one foot in front of the other until things get better. The worst heartbreak is to give up too soon – don’t do that, okay?

 

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P.S. ¬†Turns out I’d know me anywhere. Compare my relatively-new face on the left to my relatively-not-brand-new one in my profile pic to the right – a revelation that provides yet another ray of hope today, and I’ll take it!

 

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Yasss! Weekend!

I’m sure I’ve mentioned it before, but weekends even in retirement have their own¬†aura – the barely-discernible pace slows, and the party mood amplifies. There are nights¬†when we stay up past midnight and have not two vodka tonics but three, possibly more – are there no fences anymore whatsoever? ¬†Makes me a little wistful …

I’m currently without adult supervision as Kimmers is out walking, taking advantage of the cool, crisp morning air while he stretches his legs and thinks his own thoughts. I’m doing things, too, of course. ¬†I made the bed and…I made the bed. Because weekends are different in that they contain no residual guilt over the perks of¬†voluntary unemployment. I’m happy as a big sunflower, sitting here in my own company, bedhead extraordinaire, coffee¬†on endless spigot, playing my music, IM-ing my insolently profane girlfriends, and eating goldfish. ¬†It’s a high all its own that rarely gets better. I didn’t say never, I’m neither stupid nor a fossil.

A fun thing I like to do on weekends is rummage through old photos, either in boxes¬†or my online files. Some could embarrass friends or family, but is that not what social media is all about? ¬†I’m sayin’! ¬†I love this one…my cousin Bruce and me in our grubby training pants…he’s ready for a nap and I’m pretty sure I just tried eating a bug, the other two choices, of course, being Milk Dud or turd. ¬†See more about my cousin here: ¬†So Healthy It Makes Me Sick

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Enjoy your weekend to the max, boys and girls! ¬†And if you have to work … gah, sucks to be you.

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So healthy it makes me sick …

We live, we learn – mostly we live. ¬†So as it turns out, “twice-weekly PT sessions for six weeks” merely covered¬†Phase 1. Six weeks ended¬†Friday¬†morning and now we try another month. ¬†And then we “see.” ¬†Not a problem – once I graduate, there goes 90% of my outside social life, so what would be the rush?

Health, though Рsuch a ginormous issue in every direction.  Do we possess it?  Do we value it?  What value are other people placing on our health?  Do we take it entirely for granted, or do everything we can to maintain it?  Or realistically, somewhere between?  And if we lose it, can we get it back?

The past few months have shown us¬†that my bones are in far better health than we knew. ¬†And I’ve lost some pounds so my numbers¬†are starting to improve — the dread NUMBERS that¬†cause¬†your extremely caring GP to make sad-panda eyes and counsel you to drop even more pounds and take scary-sounding drugs. ¬†I’m just stumbling along for now, thanks, and trying to beat those numbers into submission by means of personal discipline and other words I avoid.

My preoccupation with¬†health at the moment¬†stems from learning that a cousin is going through a hellish experience. ¬†He’s six weeks older than I am and we grew up more like siblings than cousins, our other siblings¬†nicely stair-stepped or matched up in age, which made extended-family vacations oh so simple. ¬†And now the skinny little¬†boy¬†in the photo is all grown up and overrun by adulthood, and he’s ill and in pain. ¬†That hurts my heart. He’s a kind man who’s “been there” for everyone else. ¬†And life couldn’t possibly get away this fast and our bodies metamorphose so quickly into whatever stage this is that feels suspiciously like a cocoon, while our 60’s-addled brains go right on scheming and dreaming and making plans like a boss. ¬†Wow, whiplash!

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Here, in their natural habitat, are my cousin Bruce, his big sister Vickie on the left, our Aunt Bonnie, who was probably still a teenager, and wide-eyed me, wondering what it was all about, Alfie. ¬†This was just the other day, I’m pretty sure — I remember the shingles on that house — they were a reddish-brown and felt funny under my fingertips.

Bruce will get well I think, and we’ll all go on. ¬†But the knowledge that he’s dependent for now on a wheelchair and round-the-clock help from an only slightly younger brother brings it all home in kind of an in-your-face way.

I mean, today Patty Duke has left the building. ¬†In recent days it’s been Natalie Cole, David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Glenn Frey, Pat Conroy, Garry Shandling, and a litany of others in my generation. ¬†This isn’t going to stop, and I’m not ready for it. ¬†Happen it will, though, that’s how¬†this goes.

We are ALL most definitely playing for time, boys and girls.  Make it count.

 

 

 

 

 

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Is the doctor in?

It was nipply out yesterday, but I defiantly sat in a sunny chair on the balcony for a while in my all-purpose jams, paw-print flip-flops, LFK bag-lady sweater and a field jacket. I know you have to get back on the bicycle at your first opportunity, but it isn’t the same without Miss Fireball. ¬†She’s supposed to be out there with me, patrolling the perimeter and yipping at intruders, first and foremost all four-legged trespassers. Every balmy evening this spring and summer¬†we’ll miss her dancing on two legs for¬†cocktail hour treats and zipping around non-stop to see it ALL, while the warm evening hugged us and made the three of us¬†oh so grateful to be in the world together. And Maddie gradually letting herself fall asleep on Kim’s chest or my lap, lulled by our voices and the after-sunset sounds of home. There’s a whole world¬†to miss.

Wonder how long until¬†I stop checking behind and under me before rolling back from my desk. ¬†How long until I can unwrap a cheese stick or a chip bag¬†without cringing that I pushed her feed-me¬†button? ¬†Or until I stop saving loud videos to watch later so as not to disturb her sweet sleep, always right here beside me. Maybe some fine evening me n’ Boo will be laughing over margaritas on Cielito’s patio and the stars will be out and the air will put its arms around us and we won’t cry, and we won’t look at each other and¬†think “We¬†should¬†get back and check on the baby.” ¬†Maybe some fine time that will happen. ¬†Or not.

Thanks for listening, Doc, I’ll leave my 5¬Ę on the counter and show myself out …

 

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Maddie

 

 

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Maddie

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