Sunday, November 28, 2004

RETAIL THERAPY

We discovered a store in our local mall called COCOON. They have the most beautiful items from Thailand and the Philippines. We went in search of new cushions for the living room. These are the cushions and some other things we found there. Unfortunately they do not have a web address.

The next thing to be replaced in the shortest possible time is the light ... we found it in the house when we moved in. Not sure what they were thinking, really! Art work by Lori Gordon.

These vessels are made from fiberglass and resin, then wrapped in banana leaves. The brown one is wrapped in bamboo leaves.

The piece above the door is made from fiberglass with cocoa leaf inlay.

The living-room. Artwork by Lori Gordon.

Two of the cushions.

The third style in the mix of cushions.

Some of my spheres and crystal ball generously given to me as a birthday gift by my friend Rebecca.

Friday, November 26, 2004

A SOUTH AFRICAN VERSION OF THANKSGIVING IN NEW JERSEY

Great Company ~

Seasonal Decorations ~

Delicious Food ~

Cooking with Dad ~

Laughter with special friends ~

Not much else to wish for!

But would it be ‘DAWN UNPLUGGED’ if there wasn’t a little saga?

On Monday I called the butcher to reserve a leg of lamb. I explained that I would send someone in to get it on Wednesday morning. Marti went and asked for the order of the leg of lamb and I felt a great sense of good organization skills when it was safely in the refrigerator by 10a.m. on Wednesday. Daniel and I agreed that this would not be a stressful cooking saga, but rather a well-planned, enjoyable process. (Did I mention anywhere that he is a superb cook?).

The lamb recipe called for an overnight marinade. So once Ross and Daniel had finished the prep. for butternut squash soup, we took the parcel out of the refrigerator to prepare the lamb. To avoid any kind of outburst after this post hits the Internet, I feel compelled to credit my sister in law Andrea for the marinade. It is so delicious that I suggest you go here and try it out for yourself.

You can imagine the shock and horror when we opened said parcel. I’ll take the humorous route … what rhymes with lamb? … what do you usually eat on Thanksgiving? Clearly, some kind of hunter must have eaten my raw leg of lamb for lunch earlier in the day, or surely the butcher would have called to tell me that Marti had been given the wrong parcel and could we please return the 4 ham and turkey subs that we were now staring at … at 10.45pm the night before Thanksgiving!

Fortunately I am married to a Firefighter who has extensive experience in leaping into a vehicle and diffusing a potentially disastrous situation in record time.

Daniel returned from the Supermarket with two legs of lamb, the marinade did its usual superb job, and all on Thursday had a good meal.

Hope you were surrounded by those you love and that your holiday season got off to a great start!


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A chef, and butternut squash soup in the training and making! Posted by Hello


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A few sandwiches short of a picnic! Posted by Hello


Our season ceiling decoration. Posted by Hello


The table after a meal we were grateful for ~ in more ways than one. Posted by Hello

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

OBSESSING, WELL, JUST A BIT!

It is the season to be thankful, so I find it impossible not to gush over all things ROSS.

If I had to write a book about 7 year old boys, it would be the shortest book ever to have been written. It would have one word in it ~ DELICIOUS.

At a loss for words to describe how grateful I am that this delicious 7 year old boy created such a moment which leaves me with this memory for ever …

“Mom, this song reminds me of you …

“don't mind spending everyday
Out on your corner
in the pouring rain
Look for the girl
with the broken smile
Ask her if she wants to
stay awhile
And she will be loved
She will be loved”
Maroon 5


 Posted by Hello

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

TOP MARKS, AND THEN SOME

My Darling Ross

Daddy and I were so proud of your Second Grade Report Card. We were not surprised that your grades reflected ‘PROFICIENT WITH SUPPORT’ and ‘INDEPENDENTLY PROFICIENT’. You learn new things very quickly and you manage to understand new concepts with ease. Your ability to play by yourself and enjoy group activities as much is such a wonderful mix of attitudes, sweet, beautiful boy, and it all shines through in your achievements.

School days are a wonderful time in your life. There is a huge amount of freedom to be had in a situation that is so clearly defined by its rules. You know what it is cool to do, and there is no confusion about what is not cool to do. Perhaps the greatest thing school can teach you, is the concept of ‘going with the flow’. This is necessary at times and will take on a whole new level of importance when you become an adult.

There will of course be many times when ‘going with the flow’ can be the worst possible thing to do. What is important to your Daddy, and me is that we are successful in raising you to ask the right questions in life.

We want you to grow up knowing that love, truth, respect and compassion need to exist and be reflected in everything you do. It is essential my child, that you know who you are, your strengths and your weaknesses. Be true to yourself about when to be courageous and confident enough to show your vulnerabilities. Respecting yourself gives you an enormous ability to feel compassion without being sympathetic. Compassion will help you and those around you to shift and grow. The need for sympathy can so often keep you stuck in a place where there is no ground for creativity.

Your teacher told Daddy and I that you often prefer to do your work standing at your desk, rather than sitting. I explained to her that my body is very often more comfortable standing and just how much energy it takes for me to sit down in, and get myself out of a chair. I told her that you have grown up watching me do many activities standing whereas most people would carry these things out sitting. This was a reminder to me that you believe the reality we present you with. I felt such a strong flow of love for you my precious Ross for your unconditional acceptance of my physical limitations and how you incorporate my style of doing things into your life.

Daddy and I love you deeply.

Hugs,
Mama xoxoxoxo


 Posted by Hello

Sunday, November 21, 2004

LOVE, LIFE AND AN APRICOT!

Tonight Ross gave me a piece of apricot flavored gum. It reminded me of something I remembered on Halloween night.

Our original plan for Halloween was to attend the town’s parade, and then join up with friends at their house. Ross was then going to go trick or treating with them up and down their street, which is long, lots of houses with lots of kids. Halloween is still a relatively new experience for us. It is not something we grew up with in our South African childhood experience and in England it was not as big a deal as it is here. As our house is on a Cul de Sac, many monsters didn’t visit us at our door for our first two Halloween nights so this year, we were going to go out and find them.

Due to a series of boring events, we did not attend the parade and Ross went with Daniel to our friends. About half an hour later, he called me and said that I really should come and see what was going on. He said the place was swarming with people dressed up, and I really shouldn’t miss it. As I was already in pajama pants and slippers, I told him I would come but I was not getting out the car. This was ok as they were sitting on the front porch anyway.

Marti and I headed off and Daniel was right. There was an amazing vibe on the street. There were bats flying around some front doors; smoke billowing out of some windows, spider webs everywhere, and lots of little monsters, princesses, etc.

My shadow ninja soon came up the road and by the time he made his way over to the car, he was in tears about having lost his sword along the way. Daniel asked him where he last remembered having it, took his flashlight out the car, and they headed off to where the shadow ninja recalled last having the weapon. Mission accomplished, and shadow ninja was once again smiling on their return.

Then, that strange phenomenon that happens with kids took place. In an instant, without me even being able to see where it came from, Daniel and the shadow ninja were in a serious power struggle on the sidewalk. The ninja was holding the firefighter to his promise of the parade, and the firefighter had clearly changed his mind. I could NOT get out the car to try diffusing the eruption, because, well, I was in my pajama pants and slippers.

As much as our friends and their friends and all our departed ancestors were probably enjoying the loud Halloween Extravaganza, “FIREFIGHTING NINJA BATTLES”, it had to be brought to a screaming halt. I shouted louder than the pair of them for the ninja to get into the car. In fairness to the ninja, he is really not a ninja who usually throws tantrums. The ninja wanted to do the parade, he had been told he would, and he was not letting us off the hook.

Ninja’s Mom, Nanny and the ninja himself were soon headed for the parade. Even I was impressed with the speed at which I actually did diffuse the situation! (And you thought I had no firefighting skills of my own – hahaha). Our timing was perfect as we approached the corner where the parade was passing. We were second in line to the car closing off the road. In true ninja style, the ninja all but leapt out the moving car and I all but kicked Marti out to go with him. I threw my cell phone at her, told her where I would meet them and sat to watch the really impressive parade pass by. Every vehicle from the firehouse passed by with all bells and whistles blaring; it was colorful, bright and noisy. There was a throng of costumed kids and adults making their way up the street to the small fair the local church had organized.

As they mingled into the crowd, I realized that by giving her my cell phone, I had no way of calling her! As soon as access was allowed, I zoomed up the road and around the corner back to the friends’ house where Daniel was still on the porch. He came to the car and I asked for his cell phone explaining I needed to be able to stay in contact with Marti and Ross in the crowd. This was one of those 30 second husband/wife exchanges that has both partners questioning what is was that initially attracted you to each other. As Daniel handed me the phone he asked me what he should do and I told him that right there and then I didn’t think I cared what he did ever again, in his whole entire life. Off I sped doing full justice to the Mazda ‘zoom zoom’ campaign.

I called Marti and established where she and Ross were. I pulled into the bank over the road from the church and parked facing where the rides were. I had a clear view of the proceedings and took the time to exhale, lower my shoulders from my ear lobes, and made feeble attempts to think kind and loving thoughts about my husband.

As if sent by the powers that be, in that instant, Daniel went zooming by the bank, obviously headed for home. The phone then rang and it was another friend of ours who had passed Daniel on the road. He of course expected Daniel to answer his cell phone. We chatted in the friendly and festive spirit of the occasion and if I say so myself, I put on a great show. There is no way the caller could ever have known that I was in the midst of a domestic melt down. I put one more call through to Marti and confirmed that she could see where I was parked. We agreed that she and Ross would stay for another half hour and then make their way back to the car.

Finally, the cell phone stopped ringing, I turned the music off, leaned the back of my seat further back and exhaled the longest sigh. I felt my toes unclench and my body stopped feeling like I was bracing it to jump off the George Washington Bridge.

This is the part where the apricot tasting gum comes in … As I sat there in the silence, watching the silent movie of Halloween in a small American town take place over the road from me, I remembered an event from my childhood in the most amazing detail. I am talking about something that happened around 35 or 36 years ago. Getting new clothes was a real treat at that age. The concept of new clothes for each season did not exist as it does for our kids today, and every new item of clothing was a major event. One such event was a pair of apricot colored bell-bottoms with turn-ups. They were the height of fashion, especially the zipper that was chunky and had a loop by which to pull it open or closed. These pants were hot and I loved them. As on most Sunday’s, we went to my Uncle and Aunt and in true South African summer style, we spent the day in the swimming pool, my uncle would BBQ, we leapt around on the trampoline, and it was quite simply an over indulgence of fun and sun.

I would invariably come home with a sunburn that was agonizing, and in the worst-case scenario, as was this particular night, I would throw up in the car from motion sickness. As I staggered into the bathroom to get undressed and into the bath, I was both horrified and heart broken when I noticed that I had thrown up INTO THE TURN UPS OF MY WONDERFUL NEW PANTS. My mother spent the longest time consoling me and assuring me the pants would come up as good as new once they were washed.

As I sat in my car, I felt like I needed someone to stroke my head and tell me that this evening was going to work out all right and that everything would come out clean in the wash and as good as new.

As Ross and Marti got in the car, I really wanted to get home as quickly as possible so that Ross, Daniel and I could all make friends. We set out with the best of intentions, just as I had those 36 years ago, and it felt like I was going home with sick in my turn ups!

We walked into the house and having agreed on a plan of action in the car, Ross and I went straight to Daniel and with nothing more than a group hug, we all kissed and made up and assured each other it was all, all right!


Us Unplugged. Posted by Hello

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

FEELING GROOVY ANNOUNCEMENT

I had two on-line conversations today. One with my delicious friend Dave in New Zealand - yes, he is so wonderful that I can almost taste him, and the chats we have are even more delicious than that! The second, was with my cousin Jennifer in South Africa. They were both so uplifting for me that I felt unequivocally groovy! This prompted me to make more use of my FEELING GROOVY sidebar/blog. Please remember to look there.



For some reason, this pic represents a bright and positive future to me.  Posted by Hello


This is the pic the above was cropped from. Although it looks like it, that is not a tear drop on Ross' cheek. With his cousin Jamie at the Ontario Science Museum in the summer.  Posted by Hello

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

DIFFERENT STROKES

I am always interested in different expressions of the Jewish experience. Although I do not live in, nor have I ever been to Colorado, I follow the activities of Rabbi Korngold.
I look forward to her appearance on GOOD MORNING AMERICA.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

REALITY CHECK

If anyone watched the American Music Awards, I have two questions to ask … did Ms Nicole-Smith perhaps take just a tad too many Trim Spas, or do we all need a bit of what ever it was she was smoking? My gawd people, the woman was flyyyyy-ing, thin and raving.

My second question … during ‘I wanna hold your ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-and’, did anyone else notice the 4 guys on the balcony above and behind the band? The one dude was just the most amazing dancer I have seen in a long time. I am not sure if they were professionals, or perhaps regulars on the show much like the Bandstand Dancers, but that man could boogie!

Looking back at the Beatles and taking in that it was 40 years ago is trippy. Although I was only 4, I remember the sound of the Beatles blaring from my late brother’s room, he was 14 years old than me. I don’t know if it is because I have slowed down considerably in how long it takes me to get from point A to point B, but the speed at which life moves is astonishing. In spite of this, we all seem to get through huge amounts of stuff on a daily basis, and the more blogs I read, the more I see how inter woven our lives really are. I am still trying to work out if there is a difference between the concept behind reality tv and reading blogs. It is all about looking in on people and being fascinated at how they do the same things we are all doing on a daily basis. Without sounding like a cynic, which I really am not, it is kind of like the same shit, just with different decorations. We’re all out there wanting to be heard, seen, loved and acknowledged.

So, in the hope that you don’t find it resembling shit in any way, unless of course it’s good shit, I am happy to review the week that was on the eve of another week about to unfold.

I think the most fascinating thing for me to observe this week, was my almost 20 year old daughter starting her first part time job. This has not come a moment too soon for her. Alex is not scared of hard work, this I know. It has been extremely frustrating for her not being able to work. She waited three long years to receive a work permit and then a couple more weeks until her Social Security number arrived in the mail. Pre holiday season is a great time to look for work so within a couple of days, she had a job at the Hallmark store at the local mall. Daniel and I were really excited for her and we waited with eager anticipation to hear about it. The first day on the job … came and went. The second day on the job … came and went, and with the third shift now behind us, we realize that all the information we will get is what time we have to give her a ride to the next and all remaining shifts until she gets her driver’s license within the next couple of weeks. So, for what it’s worth Alex, if you are reading this, we hope you are enjoying your new job and that your first steps toward further independence have been exciting ones to take!

I myself have been immersed in paperwork and the chore of personal admin. Having been out of action for a couple of weeks, the empire that is my family has required some overtime in keeping it all ticking over. The behind the scenes stuff, you know, paying the bills, dodging the late fees, trying really hard to be nice to the computers I am forced to talk to on the phone. Damn but it pisses me off when I get pissed off with a computer! I honestly believe the average person would be astounded at the time I willingly spend at my desk slaving away in my self appointed admin. department. Last year, my astrologer explained it to me like this:

“Your south node is in the sign of Pisces. In the past you have spent many lifetimes in service and solitude. You were idealistic and inspired. You sacrificed much for others. You could have been a monk or a nun, an inspired artist, a shaman or a mystic … or all of the above! You north node points to the energy that needs to be developed in this lifetime. That is, practical matters, the essentials, the details of life. Not easy for a daydreamer! In the past you achieved enlightenment … communed with the Source, detached from the material world. In this lifetime, you are here to recognize and care for your own needs. You’ve mastered self-sacrifice … now you need to master self-respect. Your path to greatest fulfillment can be recognized simply by organizing a sock drawer or balancing a checkbook! In this lifetime, every time you create order out of chaos, you will be rewarded with a grand sense of satisfaction”
(and I believe therein lies my self respect - in achievement and completion!).

What I would like someone to explain to me is the ridiculous reaction I have when Daniel unfortunately hurts himself physically. While walking down the hall earlier this week, I heard the most dreadful noise followed by a THUD coming from what I thought was the kitchen. I shouted, “What was that?” and there was a moment’s silence before Daniel groaned, “I’ve fallen down the stairs”. “You’ve what?” I yelled as I did a u-turn and headed back down the hall. I stood at the top of the stairs and saw Daniel lying on his back on the landing. In those moments I want to be able to leap down the stairs but have to sit on the chair lift and go down at what feels like a snail’s pace. By the time I got there, he was sitting up and moved on to the chair belonging to the other lift on the second flight of stairs. We have a bi-level so needed two chair lifts. So there we sat, the pair of us, Daniel understandably writhing in pain because his big toe had got caught under the mechanism of the chair lift. Fortunately nothing was broken and no skin was torn even, but this was a serious fall. This is the part where I get scary. As I sat there, I had to concentrate so hard on sucking my cheeks in so as not to laugh. At this exact point, Daniel looked up and straight at me, and because he knows me so darn well, he warned me that I had better not start laughing quite at this point in time. Well, that was all he had to say ~ there was just no stopping me. What makes matters worse; Daniel finds it difficult to walk in a straight line without stubbing his toe, banging his elbow, and his head, well that gets banged on a very regular basis. Need I say, I do a lot of stifled laughing! I feel the need to make this big of a public apology to my dearly beloved husband. This wonderful person who at the first peep from his beeper, dashes out of the house to go assist and or rescue strangers from our community who dial 911. This wonderful man, training and studying to become a certified firefighter so as to continue his voluntary dedication to our borough’s fire department deserves a wife who would at least apply a band aid before bursting into laughter that could continue for hours after the event. Daniel, I love you and I am so happy you did not seriously injure yourself. I promise to try not laugh the next time I hear you say “Fffff……” (We have a 7 year old in the house, remember), I promise to make a concerted effort not to approach you with a smile on my face!

The wonderful 7 year old played the last soccer game of the season, and I have to say, this was a nail biting game. This team of boys and girls has been unbeatable and has only lost two of their games. It was like every skill the coach had ever taught them showed up in this final game. It was really cold so I sat and watched from my car where I had a great view of the entire field. As I cheered and applauded from the car, I had a moment to myself where I thought, “wow I am now fully a soccer mom”. As un-American as I am, this was a soccer mom experience all the way. This adorable group of players then all went off to the local pizzeria and ended their season with cheers and gifts for the coaches. Like teachers, I think anyone who works with kids deserves the utmost respect and acknowledgement and I am grateful that Ross has this opportunity.
And so my world turns. I am sleeping a minimum of 6 hours a night, I love my family, and I feel stronger and better every day. I have much to be happy about. I truly feel that my care and attention return to me multiplied. While it might all be happening real fast, most of the time, it feels real good.


The beauty of time is that it provides you with wonderful memories. Here I am, 23 years ago, at the age of 21. Taken in Tempe, Arizona, at ASU ~ Rolling Stones 'LET'S SPEND THE NIGHT TOGETHER' concert tour ... Posted by Hello


... and I got this close to Mick Jagger! Posted by Hello


A budding Beckham? Posted by Hello

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

WONDERFUL WOMBAT

How is it that an animal that looks like nothing more than a ball of bad wool can be so smart when it comes to the matter of being “with child”? Why is it that the Australians got all the lucky cards when it comes to intelligent pregnancy and delivery of their young – well, at least within the animal kingdom?

I bet if I did a survey, it would reveal that most women would go for option (b) when given these choices:
(a) flabby, wobbly belly after childbirth or (b) pouch that never changes;
(a) huge round ball that makes you walk like you have something stuck up where it shouldn’t be or (b) handy little pouch at the back that gets in the way of nothing and makes no impact on your walk at all?
(a) 9 months of expanding mixed in with bloating and swelling in other places of your body you didn’t even know existed or (b) a gestation period of approximately 1 month?

Want to know more about the Wombat?

And tell me people, should my sister in law enter a Celine look alike contest or what ~ I am convinced she would win hands down?

G’day Mate!


Sister-in-law Michele, in Australia, charming the pants off a Wombat! Posted by Hello

THAT'S LIFE, OR IS IT?

It's amazing how in a matter of seconds, you can feast your eyes on a celebration of life and then be brought down from it with a thud!
Shortly after receiving the email that brought me the 3D sidewalk illustrations displayed in the next post down, I learnt of this news.
"The brutal killing last week of Dutch film director Theo van Gogh who was stabbed to death in Amsterdam while cycling to work shocked the world." For the sad, full story, click here.

FUNKY STUFF

I received these in an email from a friend of mine in South Africa. The streets of London can indeed be exciting, especially when it's not raining!
I think this artwork is incredible!


Got to love the Brits! Posted by Hello


3D Sidewalk Art ... Somewhere in London, England Posted by Hello

Monday, November 08, 2004

RANDOM ACT OF KINDNESS

As a result of events last week, popular topics of discussion were whether morals and values are one and the same things, and whether the next person’s beliefs are more important or valid than anyone else’s? Perhaps naively so, I still believe that if enough of us just got on with being kind to each other, just for kindness’ sake, the miracle of peace would manifest around us. I chose the word ‘miracle’ specifically, ‘cos right now, it feels like nothing short of a miracle could bring such change about. The following true story from my friend Paul reflects how easy it is to be kind and the impact it can have on the next person's life.

While I also appreciate that the values (or are they morals?) described in this story are not unique to Judaism, this story embodies the pure essence of the heritage from whence I come, and it is with immense pride that I share it. I hope that one day my son will read this, and understand how important it is to do unto others, as he would have them do unto him. I believe it is that simple. Freedom, peace, love and respect start at the dinner table in our own homes, especially if we turn the TV off for a while!

Paul is studying at a Yeshiva in Jerusalem.

"It was 11:30am on a Friday morning and we still did not have Shabbos (Sabbath) dinner plans. After exhausting what seemed every option, we decided to call the Rabbi who runs the Beginners Program in the Yeshiva to see if he knew of any last minute ‘deals’. Thank G-d he did and he managed to set all 4 of us up for dinner at a home in an area not too far away. He explained the hosts were an old-style Yerushalmi (native of Jerusalem) family that didn’t speak much English but were very sweet and loved having guests. He warned us not to be late though as they ate early.

So as life goes, everybody forgot to bring the directions and we ended-up wandering around lost in this ancient neighbourhood of Jerusalem for 20 minutes, before we finally found somebody who spoke enough English to lead the way to our hosts. We nervously knocked on the door and it immediately swung open to reveal a small elderly woman with a huge smile. Although the family and 6 other guests were already into the soup course, they all welcomed us with hugs and handshakes like we were old friends. And in a scurry of action to reset the table and arrange everything for us, we soon had made our own Kiddush (Blessing) and had caught up to the fourth course in a spread that I kid you not, was fit for a convention of kings.
We eased through the evening with enough broken Hebrew and simple English to enjoy a fantastic Shabbos meal. What we lost in conversation, we made up for with the most spiritual zmiros-singing (typically Sabbath songs) I have experienced to date. This was ‘entertaining’ at its kosher shabbosdik (Sabbath-ish) best.

That Sunday morning upon returning to the grind of the Yeshiva curriculum, we were shining and inspired to greater heights after our amazing Shabbos. When we ran in to the Rav (Rabbi) though, he seemed a little distant and upset. I thanked for setting us up and while trying to tell him about the experience, he stopped me short and asked, “What - are you guys kidding me? Where were you? That family called me on Motzi Shabbos (end of the Sabbath) to ask if everything was okay, because you didn’t show up!”

To this day I have never managed to track down that special family that took us in that Shabbos. Everything looks so different during the week. One thing for sure is, that even though they were not expecting us, these beautiful people welcomed us and made us feel as if we were the guests they had been waiting for, even though they had never even heard of us, let alone invited us. And this is the mitzvah of hachnasas orchim (hospitality to guests) at its very essence."
End
Have a happy week filled with good deeds!


Somewhere in Jerusalem. Posted by Hello

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

DID YOU?

As my resident status still very much declares me a visitor in the USA, I do not have the privilege to vote today. I hope the urge among those who can vote is as strong as how much I wish I could have.

"It is not opposition but indifference which separates men."
M.P. Follett


 Posted by Hello

Monday, November 01, 2004

MIXED BAG

In an ongoing attempt to keep my workspace functional, I am enjoying some excellent tips from this site. It offers a host of ideas for everything you do at home from cooking, to decorating, to working – worth a visit.

If you like schmaltzy pics of babies and think Celine Dion looks good in most pics, you must visit this site, especially if you are an Anne Geddes fan. For the person with these taste buds, a great gift idea.

I recently discovered this site and immediately started saving! Every family should have one.

Looking for some really nice T-shirts and funky underwear, visit here.

Enjoy!

 
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