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Closet cleaning

Sunday, August 14, 2011

I had finished my latest "reading for fun" book and haven't yet gone to the library to get another. In the meantime, I picked up my current self-help read: Getting Organized, by Stephanie Winston. I have owned this book for probably ten or twelve years. Every time I pick it up, I get discouraged... it doesn't seem to apply... my life is just "too".

"Too what?" you may well ask. "What makes YOU so special, Barb? Everybody's life has its points of pain/disorder/need for improvement."

"But," I argue back, "it's EVERYTHING!" That is the point of "one thing" initiative: to by doing identify a reasonable set of values and goals related to order.

And as with weight and fitness, this area of life needs a custom solution, one that fits *me*. In fact, every area of each of our lives needs that kind of custom solution. In order to live fully, aware, awake, and appreciative of the gift that LIFE is, we need to find the way to who we are and why we are here... and it's not *just* to be healthy and fit. It's to *do something* with that health and fitness.

Having order and harmony in my home is similar... it is not just for the sake of order and harmony. It is not something rigid or perfectionist... it is to enable me to live fully and to fulfill that purpose, that reason I'm here.

This led me to start trying to apply the first step the book suggests: to write down at most six elements in my life that need to be put in order. I had trouble doing this. This is where I always get stuck. Because for the most part, my life sort of works. And yet, I am not satisfied... so... that sort of implies I'm in some level of denial about life working. "Where is the pain?" I ask myself.

After some dithering about and writing down preliminaries, I called it "good for now", closed my notebook, and moved on with my day.

In the evening, the kids came over and were playing with the kittens when the doorbell rang... and there at my door were Becky and "the girls"... her two absolutely gorgeous German Shorthaired Pointers that bring back the soul of my Diamond. Becky got to meet my son as we both came out to pet the dogs and make a fuss over them.

We didn't invite them in, as the dogs would probably have freaked out the kitties. My daughter in law stayed in with the kitties. Although, I have to say, The Prisoner was right there at the door wanting to come out and investigate those dogs!

In the course of those two events: the kids being over, and Becky dropping over, my organizing principle became clear to me, and I discovered that I have two:

1. My home is to be a place of refuge for ME, that serves me, instead of me serving it.

2. My home is to be a place of harmony and love that expresses welcome to those I choose to invite into it.

My goal is to have my home in good enough order that I feel comfortable, not embarrassed, to invite someone in who just happens to be in the neighborhood. I recognize that part of this is work on ME, psychologically... and part of it is the legwork of finding systems I can live with to keep the place in order. That means losing some clutter, for sure.

This initiative is not that different from the Sparks that lead to weight loss and maintenance... small changes, adding up, over time... preparing ahead, appreciating and giving myself credit for progress, not demanding perfection.

This morning, my hall closet, the one at the front door called to me. What better place to start: if there is no room in the closet to hang a guest's coat, what message does THAT send?

Coat, gloves, jacket... in the laundry. Pockets being stitched up. I will not be caught at the first frost THIS year. The closet floor has been swept. Several things moved to a proper place in the house... the garage, a different closet. I am ready to take some old stuff to the donation bin. I haven't done the shelves above yet... but I've certainly done my "one thing" for this morning.

And for a treat/reward, I will go to the library and get the next book on my list of "to read for fun"!

Life's good... Spark on! emoticon

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

WATERMELLEN 8/14/2011 8:21PM

    Arrrghh, this gets me right where I live, literally . . . at home. I am no domestic diva. Need to pick up my game in the decluttering area in particular!!

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MSLZZY 8/14/2011 6:47PM

    Work first, play later.There is always some corner that needs attention.
Hope your Sunday was grand.

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MNTWINSGAL 8/14/2011 3:14PM

    Ah yes...the hall closet. One of my big embarassments too. Who owns all those jackets? Where did all these shoes come from? And why does it smell like a locker room? Soon my kids will both be settled and I plan to tackle these projects too. But until they take their "stuff" I guess I'll just have to keep the door shut!

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BARBAELLEN 8/14/2011 2:55PM

    Take it from one who has joined the "Getting Organized" team on SP. One of the challenges is to declutter or clean 15 minutes a day. Another is to handle 25 objects a day and make a decision. I'm doing these things, but it would take many lifetimes for me to declutter at that rate.

I was in the antiques business, and am no more. Furniture was easy enough to get rid of, but the rest doesn't move as quickly. I have two rooms and an attic full of neatly packed things from my store! Thank god I stumbled across some TV show about hoarding, because at least I have my living and kitchen areas decluttered and clean. (Whew! Those hoarding people are sad!) So, getting rid of stuff is always on my list. If you noticed my Spark wallpaper, that old kitchen stuff was mine. I let some guys assemble it for a webpage photo on the condition that they keep it. (They are a couple who collect teapots and vintage kitchen items!) Win, win!

Believe me, every time something goes, the air seems to get thinner. If SP would put a freecycle "want" list up, I would be delighted to make alot of Sparkers very happy. Congrats on your hall closet. BTW, if there's anything you collect, let me know. I probably have it. FREE!

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MOBYCARP 8/14/2011 1:40PM

    I think I already told you this, but I looked at Organizing from the Inside Out. Specific suggestions were mostly worthless, but the concepts were vital. Some of the exercises were helpful. Some chapters were obvious non-reads. Probably the most valuable question was, "What is working right now?" That kept me from spending a ton of time reorganizing the kitchen, which looks clumsy but has no process issues.

The actual *doing* of de-cluttering is no big deal. The thought-work of deciding what has to go, what should be stored inconveniently, and how to conveniently store what is actively used is the hard part. I have to do that in smaller chunks interspersed with implementing the intermediate conclusions, and I imagine you will too.

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DEBRITA01 8/14/2011 12:42PM

    I started simplifying and decluttering after I read the book *Does This Clutter Make My Butt Look Fat?* Somehow, I got sidetracked with the nicer weather and summer activities, but I was just thinking this morning that I need to continue the project. Thanks for the timely post!

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SUNNY332 8/14/2011 10:54AM

    I agree that being organized and cutting back on the "stuff" makes for a more pleasant existence and this is what I desire to have at home too.

What fun book did you read? I am currently reading 90 Minutes in Heaven but finished reading a really great book - The Hidden Garden by Kate Morton. I also read The Help. Both were excellent and I highly recommend them.

Now - back to the organization. I am on board with you on this. Wonder if we should make it a team challenge?

Day 1. - Pick a room and start with the drawers? What do you think??

Let me know. It would be fun and just think of the treasured finds we can share about.


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_LINDA 8/14/2011 10:49AM

    Sounds like a great plan to me! Spark's principles really do apply to every facet of your life. To tackle odious chores and tasks, one step at a time until they are finally all done. My hallway 'closet' is just an open space and the one I found necessary to park my scooter in (because of lack of space to put it anywhere else), so obviously, I could not cram it up wall to wall with coats, clothes, etc. Makes you sure take a good look at what you really need. I have one light weight jack, one medium and a heavy one I borrow from Mom for our cold winters. I actually like having as uncluttered a place as possible. It really is peaceful, knowing instantly where to find something. Only one place left to unclutter and that is my office and bridge club things. I really need to get all those ducks in a row so I can constantly keep track of the things I need to instead of trying to round it all up at the very last minute (the way I used to do everything). I am a great last minute worker and will work around the clock to get a project finished, but that is a stressful way to live.
There is always something one has to look at to improve one's life and mental well being.
Enjoy your Sunday!!

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Growing like weeds and other miscellaneous

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Who would have thought that in two weeks they have lived at my house they would spurt like this? And of course they are expanding the territory they "claim" within the house, day by day.

Yesterday my Spark calendar told me to take a nap. Since I had the day off, I took its advice. But before I did that I got my hair done... I'd been "too busy" to get a haircut and my bangs had been straggling down to mid-glasses... not cool. I feel much less ragged now.

I got a full night's sleep last night, too. In fact, after taking my thyroid meds this morning I turned off the alarm and went back to sleep, barely getting up in time to go biking with Becky's bike group. I dashed through breakfast, dressing, etc. in 20 minutes to make it all happen. But it was a great day for a bike ride! emoticon

When I got home, I bundled those kittens into their box for a trip to the vet to have microchips inserted. They are now safely registered and if they ever escape and get lost, they will be easy to identify and return to their hu-mom.

I will end today with a birthday dinner for my daughter in law out at the place of her choice. Which she tells me will be Red Lobster. I've had the counts out there for their menu for a while, so it should be a breeze to track.

In short... life goes on, and it is good. Spark on! emoticon

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

DEBRA0818 8/15/2011 8:26AM

    Love the picture of domestic tranquility that two cats sleeping together present -- they are adorable! Animals evoke a sense of innocent being within me and remind me that vulnerability is a natural thing. Thanks for posting!


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SUNNY332 8/14/2011 11:20AM

    Those babies are growing like weeds. They are so cute and I bet they are good company.

You don't have to tell your cat you love it - it knows you do.

Hugs, Sunny

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_LINDA 8/14/2011 9:35AM

    Wonderful day!! Lucky you getting some sleep! Second day in a row with only two hours broken sleep here. Might have to take a nap by default today lol.
Much as I don't like cats, those sure are sweet looking!!
That is cute hu-mom :)
Enjoy your Sunday!!

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CONCHA77 8/14/2011 9:20AM

    Your fur babies are too cute! Glad life is going so well for you! emoticon

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LOVE_2_LAUGH 8/14/2011 9:03AM

    You're having a great weekend! And those little kitties are just the cutest things. Not having had my laptop for nearly two weeks, I was not aware you had adopted them. So precious. I'm a cat lover -- can you tell? LOL! Hope you enjoyed Red Lobster.

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KASEYCOFF 8/14/2011 6:33AM

    Sounds like another good day - love the security for the kitties!

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FITFABJENN 8/13/2011 8:45PM

    Cute kitties...

Enjoy dinner with the family. emoticon

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MOBYCARP 8/13/2011 6:35PM

    Do I detect a family resemblance to your older sister's cats in this picture?

Oh, the cats on the table and the silver spoon, emoticon
Little Boy Blue and the Man in the Moon,
When you comin' home, Mom? I don't know when . . .

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WATERMELLEN 8/13/2011 5:41PM

    Hu-mom: love that!! (Although here in Canada would likely be hu-mum!!)

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Vacation day...

Friday, August 12, 2011

Not the weather I would have hoped for. I'm listening to booms and raindrops. And kittens playing with the little bell-containing balls. They managed to knock over a small fire extinguisher in the lower level of the house... looked guilty when I went to investigate the noise. Bit by bit they are taking over the house.

I scheduled today as vacation a couple of months ago, before Sgt. Son talked me into the state games 5K and I took a Friday off for that. When I did, I briefly contemplated canceling today's designation, but you know, there are no US holidays in August, and every so often, you just need a day. So I kept it.

For things like maybe a haircut, grocery shopping, and puttering around the house. I did have some thoughts about yard work in the cool of the morning, but now? Don't think so.

I also slept in, until nearly 6... ah, the luxury of stretching out in bed while the lightning flashes and the raindrops fall! And this day is mine, allll miiiine.... buhahahaha!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CHRYS13 8/13/2011 10:56AM

    Isn't it wonderfully glorious to have a day now and then to call your own?
Good for you!!

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ANGELCOWBOY1 8/12/2011 9:26PM

    Hope you enjoyed your day!

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WATERMELLEN 8/12/2011 6:55PM

    Hope you had a great day: essential for mental health every once in a while!!

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MSLZZY 8/12/2011 2:40PM

    Everyone needs a day off. I guess I should schedule one for me but for now, I'll keep plugging away. HUGS!

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GOHUSKERS2 8/12/2011 2:15PM

    Good day just for you.....we all need that, that's for sure!

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BARBAELLEN 8/12/2011 11:56AM

    My fantasy is a day all to myself with absolutely NO plans and everything going just right! If the weather isn't what you anticipate, you can adjust to whatever suits your fancy at any given moment. Even if what you decide to do ends up being NOTHING, that's probably what you needed to do. Too bad life always seems to botch up these fantasy days! Hope yours turns out just like my fantasy! emoticon

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LOVE_2_LAUGH 8/12/2011 11:34AM

    I'm finally getting around to catching up with blogs. Hope you enjoy the day today! We've got cool/gloomy today with rain coming later this evening. Probably the same stuff you've got this morning. Whatever you do today, make it a great day!

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HOT4FITNESS 8/12/2011 9:37AM

    Enjoy your day!

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_LINDA 8/12/2011 8:59AM

    I love listening to and watching storms! 6 am? Wow big sleep in -no- lol. Sometimes I wish I could sleep in past 5 am.. A vacation day is just that -do what you feel like and have some fun.
Have a Fantastic Friday!!

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KALIGIRL 8/12/2011 8:41AM

    emoticon emoticon
Get out emoticon and enjoy!

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Exercise and addictive TV

Thursday, August 11, 2011

I confessed this last year here on Spark, but as a reminder: I am a huge Big Brother addict. I've watched since season 1. My favorite player ever was Cassandra from Season 1... few people remember her, but she was a UN employee who had some really great life stories to share.

I loved Evil Dr. Will. The only season I didn't watch was season 9, as it was in the Winter... didn't fit my lifestyle of having a lazy Summer addiction.

Anyway, here's what I do these days: I exercise to justify the time I spend with the silly game. It works. It's on three days a week. I'm trying to get in three strength training sessions a week. Ah, the mind games we play to get ourselves to work out!

emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SUNNY332 8/14/2011 11:01AM

    "Whatever works"!!!

Good for you to make good use of your time.


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    Whatever works. I'm addicted to "bejeweled" and play it on my ipad while on the elliptical. Combined with the music I chose I get quite a workout while mindlessly blowing things up! The time flies. emoticon emoticon

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SAMI199 8/12/2011 8:15PM

    I am impressed-what a great idea!

emoticon emoticon

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MSLZZY 8/12/2011 2:41PM

    I tried watching last night and saw about 5 minutes, in 30 second intervals.
Not enough to follow what is happening. Enjoy!

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KALIGIRL 8/12/2011 8:34AM

    Love your MIND-ful games - Creative way to meet your goals! emoticon

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DEBRITA01 8/12/2011 8:04AM

    Never saw BB but know how addicting some shows can be. Using exercise to compensate for your guilty pleasure is a good trade off. I'll have to use that trick... emoticon

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REJ7777 8/12/2011 6:44AM

    Whatever works! emoticon

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MEDDYPEDDY 8/12/2011 2:18AM

    Ooooh, I am addicted to a LOT of teve shows for the moment - top model (for the moment it is New Zealands next top modek) Project Runway and Hellīs ktichen. I have never been keen on BB but think I got stuck anyway once (BB in swedish, that is)
We are getting reruns every day during summer on these shows and when I say Australias Top Model I realised that thse young women were really broing as human beings, still I love the photo shoots, love the way they turn out, but their way of behaving disgists me... but New zelands top modes somewhat restores the bad impression I have gotten from the series from Australia, USA and England - I suspect it is a question about how they edit...

Sigh - I need to get a life. Wait, I have one, but I choose the sofa too much!

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_LINDA 8/12/2011 1:10AM

    I am so glad I gave up TV watching, nothing on there interests me, but unfortunately, computer and Sparks time has filled the void. Hard to get much exercise on the computer except sitting on an agility ball, would be easier riding a stationary bike or doing a machine while watching TV. Or lifting weights..
Being addicted to only ONE show is actually pretty good..

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MNTWINSGAL 8/11/2011 10:48PM

    Barb, I didn't remember this about you...or somehow I never knew? BB is my guilty little secret as well. I DVR it so that I don't spend a whole hour on it, and I have been known to walk the treadmill while it's on....sometimes....but I wouldn't miss it! ******SPOILER ALERT: I'm so disappointed that Brendon, not Dominique came back tonight.

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NYKIMMIE 8/11/2011 10:16PM

    i love BB too,evil Will n Boogie are some of favorites. emoticon

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The recurring theme of balance

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

It is August. Next week the public school here start up again... what a short Summer it has been! The hours of daylight are now waning, although it is not easy to recognize it. The sounds, the smells, the sights all point to the inexorable march of our most limited resource: time.

Many of my ponders (I won't call them full meditations) this year have centered on how I shall live my life. Through much of my life the struggle to achieve a certain weight has provided a metaphor, but there are other recurring themes as well. How to establish order and harmony (the "one thing" initiative) is something I have often struggled with.

Part of the reason for the "one thing" initiative is to help me feel better about my imperfection in this area of life. I'm finding myself foundering. Fatigue / low spots hit in these kinds of initiatives, too. As with reaching a new size, and wondering "what next", reaching a level of order, and finding it fraying around the edges can be a little disheartening.

The kittens have certainly added to the number of things to do, and I've been reluctant to count what I do to keep them in order among my "one thing" recognition. That way lies a sense of burden, though. I need to expand my horizons, become less rigid about the order/harmony goals.

And I have to get back to that reward thing. Rewards and a sense of "I'm OK" are essential to life in general.

Bringing me back to "how can I live my life fully, despite having to work... and how can I live my life fully into the looming time of retirement, when I won't have the structure of work and the cycle of weekends?" Yes, I'm starting to think about how close that clock is ticking. How did it get here that fast? 50 years ago it seemed like forever away... where did those 50 years go?

I then begin to realize it went where every day goes... each day was lived. Some were lived fully, some were lived in a daze, some were mostly ignored by me while I set focus on a work project or a (God help me) video game, a book... whatever. Some were full of laughter, some of tears, some of resentment (which I now recognize for what it was), some of joy. But whatever each of those days held... they are gone, save for the memory of them.

What is ahead, today, is a new day, full of potential and moments. What shall I do with it? Will I recognize how precious it is? Will I remember to let people know that I love and appreciate them? Will I take time to smell the roses? Will I get something done that I can point to and say, "Yes! I did this today... this is my one thing!"?

Now that I have put it down here... I think I shall. Today will be a good day. Spark on!


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

WATERMELLEN 8/12/2011 7:07PM

    This reminds me of a poem from Girl Guide camp:

So here has been dawning another blue day,
Think, will you let it slip useless away?
Out of eternity a new day is born
Into eternity at dusk will return.
So here has been dawning another blue day,
Think, will you let it slip useless away?

Have to say, I have to struggle with a bit of "self-righteousness" from time to time. And as an antidote for that unattractive quality, some "uselessness" is pretty much key for me . . . also (as LINDA says) a generous allowance of just plain unimproving fun!!

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MIZCATHI 8/10/2011 3:37PM

    Your blogs of your current thoughts run so parralel to my own. I am 57 and still looking at my inner child, and wondering what I can do to kick myself in the butt so that I can once and for all reach my full potential. I think of this often, and my life becomes complacent as I list my "to do's" and largely ignore them. Sometimes, when I come across a notebook or a random to do list from months ago, I can cross off whole sections, but still the "list" lingers. What could I accomplish fully realized? I love reading, playing with the dogs, cuddling with my husband. Those moments are precious, too. I admire your "one thing" goals and I plan on putting something similar in action.

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MSLZZY 8/10/2011 3:14PM

    Interesting thoughts that mirror my own. Where has summer gone and what comes next? I guess I will take one day at a time and live it to the fullest. HUGS!

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_LINDA 8/10/2011 12:24PM

    Balance is a tough thing when you are working, trying to find time to do things for yourself. But it sounds like you are making the effort to do so. Imagine what you will do when you are retired! Enjoy the last of your time off, every little second of it! With this recovery, I am probably enjoying my summer more than I ever have, being at complete peace, not worrying about anything except healing. I have three weeks before, once again, the bridge club takes over a lot of my time once more. How about making your one thing something fun?

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KALIGIRL 8/10/2011 9:06AM

    Here's to continued good days!
My one thing today is sending hugs your way emoticon

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DEBRA0818 8/10/2011 8:35AM

    The struggle to find balance and meaning in our lives is a struggle well worth undertaking, though it provokes us from time to time with its elusive nature. I was just speaking about you this morning with great admiration for the wonderful balance you have achieved in your life. You rock!

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DEBRITA01 8/10/2011 8:25AM

    Thanks for the reminder to make each day count! Time passes way too quickly and it's important to stop every now and then to reflect and plan for the future. Here's to balance and living in the moment..."Spark On!" emoticon

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ELRIDDICK 8/10/2011 8:13AM

  Thanks for sharing

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