Sunday, July 31, 2011

Hog Bites all around

Last night John and I went out with my old college roommate, Joan. We usually get to have dinner with Joan about twice a year and we were overdue for this visit. We always trust Joan to choose the place where we will have dinner and so far, she has never steered us wrong. Last night was no different. She asked if we wanted some burgers from the Harley Museum and Motor Restaurant and really, who doesn't enjoy a good burger.
We started our night out with a few beers and snacks at Joan's and then headed over to the Harley for our burgers. We decided to go with the three different kinds of sliders-three hamburgers, three cheese burgers, and three BBQ pork sandwiches. All were yummy, but the BBQ pork were the best in my opinion. They had the pork topped with coleslaw and an onion ring, mmmmmm.

The night was fun. We closed the place down and enjoyed so much chit chat. We are looking forward to our next outing.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

A Bike Ride Around Town and in and out of Memories

Today, instead of riding a bike trail, we decided to take a bike ride around town. It ended up being 15 miles. We had to wait for a train on 9th St. near the beginning of our ride. As I was sitting there waiting I started to think about all the memories 9th St. holds from my growing up days. Funny how one can drive down the streets of Watertown and never think about any of that, but riding a bike gives you much more time to reflect and remember. Come with me on my ride down Memory Lane.

This used to be the Old Elm Mill right on the train tracks on 9th Street. I remember when this mill burned to the ground and we all went with our families to watch the place burn. It was a big fire due to the grain in the mill and it was huge excitement in this town. It has been rebuilt and is now part of a carpet store.

Another memory on 9th Street is Faye Maas' house. Not sure if her parents are still alive or still live there, but that house holds lots of memories, most of them scary. Someone had hanged themself up in the attic at some point or at least that is the story Faye told us which made this house somewhat haunted to us. We had lots of sleepovers there and the ouija board was a staple at those parties. I always pushed the pointer to the right answer especially when it involved "who likes me" questions. I didn't want to take the chance that the board could actually give me a bad answer. We also called Mary Worth, who was some dead lady and played Up Table Up. Lots of witchcrafty things going on there and to think that Faye is now married to a WELS pastor!

Another house on 9th Street belonged to family friends, the Fentzlaffs. My family spent lots of good times at that house until the Fentzlaffs moved to Brookfield where the good times continued. I actually met their neighbor in Brookfield, a girl named Jan Tenhula. She was definitely from the big city and hanging with her was so much fun. She would take me along "cruisin' the Ave" which was Wisconsin Avenue in Milwaukee. She always was up on the latest trends. The Fentzlaff's oldest son suffered brain trama in a scuba diving accident gone terribly wrong and then Zeno, Lorraine, and Mike all died within years of each other. Only one son remains, but we have since lost touch. Funny what the mind recalls just by seeing a house.

We rode up to Walmart. There is supposed to be an airplane in the sky here that was taking off, but not sure it is there. There are new condos built in this area and it is there that I recently reconnected with a long, lost friend, Pam Wilke. She and I met when our girls were little and we were great friends until different High Schools took us in different paths. It felt so good to sit in her new living room and catch up. We shared lots of good memories on our visits. John and I will be going to Pam's wedding on Labor Day. Her husband, Bob died of brain cancer about three years ago and she has been blessed with another man to love and with whom to share her life. We plan to keep our friendship nurtured in the future.

After Walmart, we rode down Airport Road to Ebenezer Road and back again. You can see Ebenezer Moravian Church up at the top of the hill. My High School boyfriend's family used to live on Airport Road and we passed the old house. We dated for over three years and I think I was in that house two times. He was either embarrassed of me or of his family, not sure which. Since he had five brothers and sisters, he enjoyed hanging out at my house. Lots of memories from that relationship, a long walk down Memory Lane for sure.

This is the wastewater treatment plant. We like to ride the mile out and back because it goes along the river and has little traffic. I remember touring the treatment plant with our gradeschoolers at Mary Linsmeier. Quite the interesting tour, for sure. That is the only memory from that spot.

From there, we headed home and rewarded ourselves with subs from PJ's. There are many more memories along this route, but I have revisited enough for one post.

Tonight we are going out with our college friend, Joan-making more sweet memories. Should be fun!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Garden news 2011

I am not sure if I can blame this year's garden or lack thereof on the hot temps, lack of rain, or human laziness that let weeds take over. I like to think it was a combination of all these elements. I do wonder why weeds can grow even despite the hot, drought conditions. At any rate, today I went out to look over the land and I harvested a few vegetables. We have a bumper crop of tomatoes, many of our tomato plants from last year reseeded themselves and they are growing like crazy. Apparently, tomatoes thrive in the hot, dry conditions. I cannot say the same for our peas. I actually purchased pea plants from Ebert's instead of growing them from seed thinking that would speed up the process, but the peas just sort of dried up and I think if I ate a dozen that was it. Oh well, next year it is back to seed for peas.
Our cucumbers are growing nicely. I also started them from plants, but I think the seeds just did as well last year. We only had a few carrots that actually grew. I am going to make a beef roast tomorrow and use the carrots and onions in that. We did have a great early harvest of lettuce, spinach, and radishes. Of course, I planted the lettuce and spinach too early to actually use in a salad with our cukes and tomatoes. Next year, lettuce and spinach later. So, there you have it, in a nutshell. Not a great garden year, except for the tomatoes, but there is always next year to impove upon our harvest.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Jersey Boys vs. Cats-A Simple Comparison

Yesterday John and I went to see the Broadway play, Jersey Boys at the Marcus Center in Milwaukee. It was an awesome show with great music. Of course, my favorite song is Sherry, which was originally Terri and almost Jackie, but the best name prevailed. (Just a little trivia picked up from the play) I hoped that this play would be a good one, but the jury was out until the end of the performance and here is why we are so leary of Broadway plays at the Markus.

A number of years ago, I believe it was in 1995, someone in our family had the idea that going to the play Cats at the Markus would be a grand idea. I think it was me, of course, it was me. As I recall neither the girls or John were all that excited, but I made the plans and we did go. Things went downhill from the minute we arrived. I am a bit foggy here, I would probably need the girls to refresh my memory. I am not sure if John dropped the three of us off at the door or if we were all in the car turning into the Wyndam Hotel parking lot when the taxi traveling well over the posted speed hit our Neon and took off the entire cowel. At any rate, John stayed outside to file an accident report and he did manage to miss the entire first act. All of this was happening while the Packers were playing the important play off game to get to the Super Bowl. Now bear in mind that when I purchased these tickets, I had no idea the Packers would have a winning season. John had set the VCR to tape the big game and his only hope was that no one tell him the result of the game until he could watch it himself.
We somehow made it through the play. It was nothing like any of us expected. All those people in cat fur. We don't even like cats all that much. It seemed like it dragged on forever. Of course, none of us voiced these negative opinions at this point. I suppose we figured the other family mambers were enjoying the show. We left the Markus, got into our coweless car and headed to Red Lobster to eat. We actually left our cowel and license plate right there on the sidewalk in downtown Milwaukee. John took control of the radio, he wanted to make sure that music was playing at all times, so he would not hear any Packer game results before he could view that taped game.
I am not sure if the incident happened before dinner or after, but some radio announcer talked right over a song and congratulated the Packers on a fine win. Well, talk about the straw that broke the camel's back. Now not only had John (the world's biggest Packer fan) lost a cowel, missed half a bad play, had to miss a live Packer play off, but he had heard the results that he so desperately did not want to hear. All I can say is, at least it was a Packer victory, but he found little comfort in that fact. I am not sure if we watched the taped game or not, but I will tell you that we all have fun memories of the day we went to see Cats!

Those memories came flooding back as we pulled into the parking structure, hoping to do so without a taxi hitting us. We hoped to have a better experience this time with Jersey Boys and much to our relief, we did. Will we go to another Broadway play at the Markus? Maybe, but I know we will make sure it does not involve any people dressed in cat fur!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Fun Times with Tizita

Courtney, Paul, and Tizita arrived at our house on Tuesday evening. With the temperature in the 100's with heat indexes near 110, they needed to get into some AC add to that the fact that Courtney had developed some type of nasty rash and she also needed some good mama care and a few sweets to feel better. I was more than happy to step up to the plate and have some fun play days with Tizita while Courtney laid low and recovered. On Wednesday we spent the day swimming at Kev's pool which you can see in my previous post.
On Thursday Tiz woke up ready to play some house. Playing house consists of packing up many random things in backpacks and bags, getting our babies, and then going on a trip. Courtney and Alissa used to play this same game of house. They would pack up a bunch of their things and then take a boat somewhere. Neither of them remember ever actually getting off the boat at a destination. All I remember is the mess this packing up always created! I love how Tizita plays the same game without ever being told to do it this way! We had lots of fun on our travels until she tired of house and we moved on to another activity.

Here is our self portrait as we were on our travels.

After our game of house we worked on lots of crafts. We painted a birdhouse and a boat, made collage pictures for a number of people, and created a few jewelry pieces. After lunch we took a walk to St. Vinney's. The weather had finally cooled down just enough to enjoy a walk. Tiz pushed Mimi in her stroller. We found a few dresses for Mimi, a pair of dinosaur feet to stomp around on, and the best find of all, a scooter. I carried the stroller and Mimi home while Tiz rode the scooter.

After scooter riding, we went to see Winnie the Pooh. What a fun movie! I never knew much about Winnie the Pooh, not sure how a Preschool teacher doesn't know about such a popular character, but I am going to study up on Winnie the Pooh. We had dinner at Applebee's and enjoyed a fun night watching some TV until bedtime.

On Friday, Tiz woke up ready to bake. When you bake, you have to get the ingredients out of the cupboard first.

Then you mix those ingredients.

And finally you get to lick your creation.

My mom, Gigi, loves to iron and whenever she gets out the iron and ironing board, Tiz asks what she is doing. Apparently, Courtney does not own an iron. Tizita decided she needed to do some ironing and experience it for herself.

Here she is ironing Mimi's new little dress.

Gigi gave Tizita and Courtney some pointers on ironing.

After baking, we did some shopping and then had lunch at McDonald's. When we got home Tizita wanted Gigi to ride the scooter, so at 82 years young, Gigi rode the scooter and did it as if she had been riding her entire life.

Tizita did give Gigi a few pointers. Ironing and Scootering, crossing the generations.

After this adventure, Courtney and Tiz took off for home. I am happy to report that Courtney is feeling so much better, the rash is gone and she feels refreshed. I am tired and think I need a nap.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Fun at the Pool with the Hurtgens

Today the temps hit 100 degrees here in Watertown and the heat index was over 110, but we were cool for the entire day swimming at Kev's pool. In between swimming, the twins and Tizita cooled off with freeze pops. The three of them enjoyed their $1.00 swim rings from Walmart, too.

This is how Melissa and I spent the day while the kids swam. It just doesn't get much better than this. Lynne joined us in the AM, but had to leave for a dentist appointment.

Tizita, Jacob, and Calvin must have jumped in that pool over one hundred times today. Here they are ready to take the plunge.

And here are the splashes they left behind!

Meghan, who had been at summer school joined in the fun later in the day. She and TIzita enjoyed using the noodles and checking one another out under the water.

It was such a nice way to spend a hot summer's day. You get really tired of hearing all the news reports telling us how hot it is going to be and how we have to stay in the AC and take care of ourselves. How did we ever survive years ago when we didn't have any AC in our houses? I guess we spent lots of time in the pool!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Let there be Light!

It is a well known fact that John and I are not handy around the house with any plumbing, electical, or mechanical problem that may present itself. John can paint and plunge with the best of them but that is as far as his abilities go and as for myself, I can't even paint well and I sure don't plunge anything.
On to our electical dilemma, the ceiling fan/light in our kitchen circa early seventies was having some issues with lightbulbs. Every time we had to take a bulb out of the fixture, a bottom would break off the bulb and we couldn't get a new bulb in there and if we successfully did get one screwed in, it wouldn't make the correct connection and ended up blinking.
We really did not feel we would need a professional electrician for this little fix, so we headed to Menard's to see what they had for the do-it-yourselfer. We thought we might have to replace the entire fan, but we found a new light that we could just screw on to the existing fan. Now that should not be too difficult. Of course, until the actual switch is flipped, I wasn't going to do any victory dances, but we flipped the switch and we had light. Nice new bright light!

So it was a job well done for John and his assistant, me. Now what should we tackle next?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

When it rains, it pours

I, now, feel that I can post a new entry on my blog. I wasn't going to take down my last post until I had spoken to my long, lost friend, Patti on the phone. Tonight, much to my pleasure, Patti and I talked easily for over an hour as if no time had passed at all. That is how it is with good friendships, you just pick up where you left off and never look back.
Patti's voice sounds just like I remember it with the little touch of an Ohio accent that she still has. Both Tom and John were in the background throwing out comments about Ohio State, the Badgers, the Browns, and the Packers, somethings never change! We definitely want to plan a get together midway between Elyria and Watertown and I cannot wait. One thing I know for sure is that we will keep in touch this time. Life is to short to do otherwise. Well, reconnecting with one friend, just made me want to reach out and touch other friends who I have neglected over the years. My friend, Terri is in the picture below. We have not lost track of one another, we have one another's address, cell number, email, and facebook, but what we have done with that information is nothing, so it was time to reach out. What really inspired me to call Terri was the fact that her daughter, Vanessa came and watched the fireworks at our house on July 4th. Seeing Vanessa made me want to get in touch with her mom, my friend, Terri. I called Terri on Wednesday and just like with Patti, it was like no time had passed at all.
Terri and I share many happy memories from our days in Elkhorn when we were neighbors in a double wide modular home court. (much classier than a trailer court) We became fast friends and shared many adventures as we raised our families together. Terri and Mark's family lived the life of a gypsy in that they lived in lots of different places but finally settled in Medford, WI We are long overdue for a visit and one is in the planning stages with them, too.
One final note, my 40th class reunion is this August and through facebook, I have found some of my classmates from St. John's. No matter what, it seems that the friends from gradeschool are somehow sweeter than any others. I don't even know what these people did in High School or who they hung out with while there, but that doesn't matter because when push comes to shove those first friendships are the best and I am looking forward to seeing these old classmates at the reunion.
Friendship takes time and effort. Unfortunately, I did not put the effort needed into a few of my friendships, but I am working on that now and I will continue to nurture these wonderful friendships. If you are one of my friends and I have not contacted you in awhile, watch out, I am renewing friendships all over the place, you could be next.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Old Friends, Lost for awhile, but now found!

A year after John and I got married we moved to Elkhorn, Wisconsin. We moved there that summer of 1977 because John had gotten his first job there. Neither of us had ever been to Elkhorn before and we were excited to start this new journey together. We found an eight family apartment to rent and we took off without looking back.
John would be working at his new job, but I had given up my teaching job and was looking forward to cooking, cleaning, and hopefully, starting a family. I was also hoping to meet some new friends to hang out with in this new "life." Little did I know what wonderful friends awaited us in Patti and Tom Kovach.
They also lived in that apartment building in the upper unit right by ours. I remember the day I looked at Patti and just knew she and I were going to be fast friends. Here is what clued me in.
A young mom, named Sandy, mom to April May Shauer (yep, that was her real name) and Daniel hosted a get together for the ladies who lived in the apartment. By young mom, I mean she had her kids at 17. I noticed that all the other women there had children and they were all young. The only childless ones were Patti (who I did not know yet) and myself. As Patti checked out the situation, she said, "I cannot imagine having a baby when you are so young!" Bingo, I liked the way she thought, I liked her, I had a new friend. This is Patti and Tom as I remember them when we first met. We were decorating Christmas cookies at our kitchen cable table. I remember Tom decorated a very intricate Santa cookie. He was so proud of that cookie, but I heard it broke on the way home to Ohio. I am holding a little girl named Emily Watson, daughter of 17 year old Scott and 17 year old Betsy. Patti and I watched Emily quite often. Patti and Tom taught us how to play Spades, we cut down $5.00 Christmas trees together, and went out to dinner together. I remember how Patti and I would hide out in her apartment to have some privacy from Sandy. One day she knocked on Patti's door to show us how white her dishtowel was because she used bleach, yeah, whatever. Patti and I laughed so hard about that one!

Patti and Tom were a big, important part of our lives in Elkhorn. We knew they were only temporary residents of Elkhorn since they were only there while Tom went to Band Instrument Repair school and when he finished they would head back to Elyria, Ohio. I tried not to think about how much I would miss her when she left.

We eventually bought a new home and left the apartment but we were still in Elkhorn, still very close to Patti and Tom. Courtney was born and Patti and Tom became like an Aunt and Uncle to her. Somewhere there after, they moved back to Elyria with promises of letters, phone calls, and visits. We were really good at keeping in touch at first.

Our first visit to Elyria was when Alissa was 8 months old and their Katie was three months old. Our little family of four actually flew to Cleveland for this visit. I don't remember much about it, but I know we had a great time.

We took Courtney who was two to a park to play. Patti and I visited and held out babies. What a nice peaceful time. I think this was the trip that we took Courtney to Lake Erie, too. I recall that we went with a little boy named Brian who may have been related to Tom. (Correct me, Patti, if I am wrong)

The next time we traveled to Ohio we went by car. Alissa and Katie were two and Courtney must have been four. Here you see Katie and Alissa swinging together. This may have been the trip when Alissa was in her biting stage and I watched her like a hawk so she would not bite Katie during playtime. I also remember that Patti and I loved drinking soda to me, pop to Patti with lots of ice. I wish I could remember more details about these visits, but I know they were very special.

Here Alissa, Katie, and Courtney are sitting outside of the Kovach house. I also think we took the girls bikes along on this trip so they could ride with Katie. I also think that we may have toured Patti's mom's new house with a pool, but it could have been someone else's house. (Again, Patti, help me out here) And I almost forgot, they had another baby by this time, Audrey was just a baby at this visit.

I think Patti, Tom, Katie, and Audrey made a visit to Watertown sometime in the next few years. I could not find the pictures from that visit, but I know we went to Elkhorn one day and we also went to the Milwaukee Museum.

Our next visit was at a motel somewhere outside of Chicago. We visited the Aquarium and maybe the Planetarium. Here was Tom taking a picture of us while John was taking a picture of them. It was always something silly like that with them.

Here we are ready to leave for somewhere from our motel. I remember Patti saying, "Don't let my mom see this picture, she will wonder why my kids weren't wearing coats and yours were." Isn't it funny what the mind remembers?

Here are the girls at the motel. I know we had lots of fun in the pool. Both Tom and John played the same silly way in the pool with their girls.

Here are Patti and I. All I have to say is, I think I got better as I got older. This look was not my best. I am guessing Patti looks the same as always.

The next time we visited Patti and Tom in Ohio was our last time to visit there. We had vacationed in Michigan and on our way home we stopped in Ohio. Okay, that is not exactly on the way home, but it was a part of our trip. I remember we went to Sea World and had a great time. I also think this may have been the time we played in a pool at your mom's or another relative's. I seem to recall some Marco Polo going on.

The last visit with Patti and Tom was in a little town in Indiana, I think it was Plymouth. The girls were growing up. Courtney was a Freshman in High School, I think, and it appears she may have been a bit disconnected from the other girls, although I really don't remember that. I do remember we couldn't figure out if we were in the central or eastern time zone and the people at the motel couldn't help us either. I also remember someone needing a plunger, but can't remember who.

Little did we know, that this would be the last time we would see one another. Life got busy, our girls were involved in all those activities that happen in High School and except for a phone call or two, we lost touch. We lost our good friends, but only for awhile because we found one another again!

It seems Patti and I were both looking for one another online. Finally, Patti found me, contacted me, and here we are! I am looking forward to moving on with our friendship. It feels so good to me. I look so forward to that day when we can see each other again.

Welcome back, Patti and Tom. We love you guys and have missed you so much.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Oak Leaf Trail-Humboldt Park to Grant Park-then and now

Today John and I rode a portion of the Oak Leaf Bike Trail. The Oak Leaf Trail runs a total of 105 miles throughout Milwaukee. We have ridden many parts of this trail and always enjoy the scenery and easy rides. Today was the perfect day to ride along Lake Michigan so we decided to begin our ride at Humboldt Park on Oklahoma Ave. I apologize for this reading like a travel log but truth be told, that is what it is. I want to be able to come back to this post the next time we plan to ride this trail so I know where to start, where to snack, and where to go to the bathroom. These are all important things to cyclists of our age, especially the bathrooms. Here I am ready to get on the trail. We park near the bathrooms (do you sense a theme here) in Humboldt Park. We had gone about two blocks when John realized he had forgotten his gloves, so we went back and got those. John says he would rather forget a hat than his gloves. Anyway we rode up Oklahoma Ave. on the sidewalk. It is about a half mile until one reaches Bay View Park where we began our ride.

A Memorial in the Park. If one goes North toward Milwaukee on the trail for a short way you arrive at South Shore Park, a beautiful park with a beach right on the Lake, a concession stand, a playground, and a scenic view on the Milwaukee skyline.

We headed South as opposed to North to begin our trip, so this is the skyline view that we saw as we first began the trail. This trail goes uphill most of the way to Grant Park Beach, but we didn't really notice the grade until we were coming back and were able to coast a good portion of the way. I think the beautiful scenery helps divert one's mind from the uphill grade.

Being able to ride along the shore of Lake Michigan makes this ride not only pretty, but very cool even on a day where the temps away from the Lake hit 90.

We came upon a fork in the trail and decided to go down the path to the lake. Little did we know that this particular trail is a very, very big hill which is nice for going down, but impossible to ride back up. We walked our bikes up the hill, but want it noted here that we would not take this path off the main trail again.

The beach at the bottom of the very steep hill reminded us of the school house beach on Washington Island in that it is covered with smooth stones. Very nice spot, but not worth the hill.

This entire trail actually passes through at least four parks, all very scenic. There are two golf courses with snack shops and bathrooms in case you need food or relief. Here we are entering Grant Park in South Milwaukee. I always have to think of my very good friend, Joan when I see anything about South Milwaukee. Joan grew up there and we met during my freshmen year at Carroll College (now Carroll University) where we became fast friends and still are good friends today.

Before entering South Milwaukee, you leave Cudahy (UCLA-University of Cudahy by the lake almost) The two signs are actually right across the street from each other. One also travels through St. Francis and Bay View on this trail.

Much of the trail that does not have a direct view of the lake is through wooded areas like this. These parts of the trail remind John and I of our favorite trail in Point Beach State Park. It is hard to believe that one is just a few miles away from Milwaukee with all this wooded beauty around.

This is on our way back from Grant Park Beach. There is also a concession stand and bathrooms at Grant Park. There is a big hill that leads down to the beach and we were already planning to walk our bikes up the hill, but we hopped on our bikes and were able to get to the top under our own pedaling power! At this time I yelled out to John, "We are awesome Cyclists," to which he replied, "You are a cycling angel." You would have to have seen the commercials on TV about the Beach Angel to understand this humor, but it was pretty funny.

On this trip, we hit South Shore Park at the end of the ride instead of the beginning. We enjoyed two Diet Pepsis (how do you pluralize Pepsi anyway? Pepsies, Pepsis,) At any rate, this is a nice spot to stop and relax for a bit and just take it all it. Good people watching as well as jet watching as they prepare to land at Mitchell Field.

This is a little beach area right before South Shore Park (yep, out of place). You get there by taking the low trail instead of staying on the high one. Just keep following it and one runs right into the concession area of South Shore Park. I assume there are bathrooms there, too, but we did not use the facilities at this spot.

We did see this big blimp flying around. It had been featured on the news last night, but not sure what it was all about, just figured it was photo worthy.

We ended our ride with a stop at Wendy's for some of these yummy parfaits, they did not disappoint. Wendy's as well as Arby's, Subway, and some little restaurants are along Oklahoma Ave. for a treat after your ride. Clean bathrooms available, of course.

The entire ride today was in the neighborhood of 20 miles. My odometer is broken since the bike fell off the carrier sometime back, but we are pretty good at estimating our mileage. It is an easy ride for the most part with just a few hills, but nothing too terrible except that one steep hill which we all know, now, not to take. The trail is very family friendly, with playgrounds in various spots. It is a well traveled trail, too, so use cycle etiquette.

Get ready, now for a step back in time. The last time John and I rode this trail was in July, 2006 and I have the pictures to prove it.

Here I am on the little beach that you get to by taking the low trail. Okay, a few pounds thinner.

And here is my partner in crime somewhere along the trail way back in 2006.

Same sign, five years earlier. Same cyclist, five years earlier.

So ends our adventure on the Oak Leaf Trail. I hope you enjoyed my little travel log and that it will help those of you who like to cycle, but aren't sure of a good place to go.

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