IT’S OFFICIALLY HERE!

The Farmers Almanac winter 2018-2019 predictions.  (In case you have not read my other posts, I love the Farmers Almanac!)  Considering the spring and summer we have had; I was not really surprised by their predictions.

They call it their “Teeth-Chattering Cold Ahead” report.  I take issue with that statement.

I love fall colors and changes in the temps.  I love the snow even when it gets feet-deep (Anyone that has kids or still feels like one must – snowball fights and snow fort building – woohoo!).  My favorite holidays are all after October first – Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and new seed catalog shopping (yes, that is a holiday in our house).

The issue I have is the “teeth-chattering cold” part of their prediction.  I am a huge fan of cooler temps, 75-55 degrees and I am in heaven.  This bit about dropping below freezing is not so hot – bad pun intended.  I lost all my long-underwear in the fire and have not gotten around to getting new just yet.  Guess this is my incentive.  And we all know what a stunning creature anyone becomes in long-underwear!

(Why do they look so cute on babies, but so dorky on adults?)

Before the tornado, we were revamping our old chicken coup into a new garden/tool shed.  We even did some insulating and moved an old cast-iron fireplace into it for winter.  Perhaps this was our women’s intuition kicking in.  If we get enough cold and snow that the power goes out, our little shed may become home – eek!

cast iron fireplace(Close to ours but no brick wall behind it, and ours is much older with claw feet.)

Then there is the critter worry.  The dogs and cats would most likely join us, but I draw the line on the chickens (sorry Mark and Kristie).  I don’t care how spoiled your pet is, if it can’t go outside when nature calls, it does not need to be in the house!

(Looking for house chicken pics, I found this great oldie by Gary Larson.  Had to add it just because it makes me laugh!)

I hope you are all prepared for this coming winter if not, you are not alone.  If you want to check out your area here’s their link:

Farmers’ Almanac 2018-19 WINTER OUTLOOK

(P.S. – have you started your Christmas shopping yet?  OH NO I DID NOT SAY THAT!)

winter wonderland

You can also check me out on:  www.lifelessonslived.com for all the fun things I have learned in life.

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Uninvited Guests That Never Leave!

City gardens are so different from country gardens with one HUGE aspect – weeds.  The farm garden when we were kids never seemed to have as many weeds or so fast.  I remember weeding, but it was a fun thing to see who could (not would) get the dirtiest.  Usually, my younger sister won just because she would be found sitting in a mud puddle before the job was done.

I remember my beautiful corner backyard garden in Denver, but again, I don’t remember this many weeds.  I would blame it on the birds, but I love all our birds – domestic and foreign.  Instead, I am now blaming my weeds on the winds.

This has got to be one of the weirdest growing seasons we have ever had.  Yes, we have some winds on-and-off every year, but this year has been just nuts!  Wicked enough to rip off our double-layered greenhouse cover, just a few weeks ago.

We have always had winds out here, just not so long, or so rough.  When the huge windmills started popping up across the U.S., Colorado was all in for that.  We have fields of them not far from our home.  I guess that is a bit of an indication on the strength of winds we get here.  The weird part is how long they are lasting now.

It was never unusual to get a gust here and there.  Even the occasional “micro-burst” would happen – but only in summer (still think they are mini-tornados that just didn’t finish forming).  Now we get the “sustained” winds.  These suckers come in without warning and last 12-48 hours.  Very unusual.

When we moved here in 2000, our biggest task was learning how to water everything using the best conservation methods.  Now, it is how to stop our plants from ending up in Kansas.

wicked winds 2(“I don’t think we’re in Colorado anymore Toto.”)

We have installed pound-in rods, rows of field fencing, and extra windbreaks all just to keep our plants from having the snot knocked out of them.  If the Hail King wasn’t bad enough, we now have the Wicked Wind of the West to contend with – eeek!

wicked windsHappy Gardening!

You can also check me out on:  www.lifelessonslived.com for all the fun things I have learned in life.

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IS THIS HEADING YOUR WAY TOO?

I’ve been a planting fool over the last four weeks!
• Corn with cucs.
• Tomatoes with marigolds.
• Hot peppers in one spot.
• Sweet peppers in a spot far away from the hot ones.
• Extra beets, carrots, and dill EVERYWHERE.
Then, just when I thought it was safe to bring out the big guns (pumpkins, squashes, melons) this happens:

snowman with flower

************************************************************************************
DAY          DESCRIPTION     HIGH/LOW     PRECIP     WIND      HUMIDITY
WED
MAY 17    PM Thunderstorms 71°43°       40%          N 13 mph    48%
THU
MAY 18    Rain/Wind            45°35°          100%         NE 21 mph   90%
FRI
MAY 19    Rain/Snow             48°31°         100%         N 14 mph    79%
Rain and snow in the morning. The rain and snow will become lighter and change to all rain in the afternoon. High 48F. Winds N at 10 to 20 mph. Chance of rain 100%.

************************************************************************************

REALLY?? We are at mid-May, and NOW it decides to snow – Mother Nature I really need to have a heart-to-heart talk with you!!

I just finished putting out all the tomatoes and peppers (heat lovers of course – grrr) and was getting ready to get out the big viners. It’s a good thing I took an afternoon off to relax my back (yep – another wonderful thing about being elderly – eek – older – double eek- experienced – OK, I like that one…being more experienced!) before hitting it all again.
I feel lucky that with age does come a bit of wisdom (ok, maybe just a lot of luck!) and I prepped covers for everything outside as I placed them in the plots. Alright, alright…I actually was not thinking about bad weather but my renegade chickens. No matter how much I fence or feed them in their pen, the beasties still get out and prefer to dig up whatever I put in the ground. Maybe I need to stress more that I have part of a freezer empty and they would fit in there nicely?

real chicken    ≡   fried chicken

Oh well, maybe they knew something I was not even thinking about – getting this cold this late in the season. Maybe Ole’ Mom Nature gave them a hint to force me to put fenced hoops over everybody? Maybe it was her way of telling me that this mess was heading my way – naaa, just sounds good doesn’t it?
So, now that I have done all the first round hard stuff (cleaning, prepping and planting) I need to get ready for the second round hard stuff.
I now have to:
1. bring out all the plastic,
2. measure,
3. cut,
4. secure
5. and pray.

Yep, pray that the wind does not rip off all the covers and ruin all my hard work.
Some weeks are just more of a challenge than others I guess!?!

pulling hair out                               hit excape

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Why does Colorado make me laugh?

music note 1Snow, snow go away – rain come out so plants can play!music note 2

Got my wish!  Our fun state tied a record yesterday (3/23/17), high temp of 76 degrees at the same time as a blizzard watch (starts in our mountains):

CO tied record

We have been watching all the news channels over the last 48 hours in the hope that we would not see freezing or snow, and we did not (at least not in our perfect space)!  Colorado is so weird with its weather.  I can change from one hour to the next, but it can also give us tons of wonderful rain while 50 miles south and west are getting a blizzard.  I have seen it raining across the street and not touch us at all (that was fun!).

The rain is a welcome sight. However, this also means that I need to get my butt in gear on tuning up the mowers (love the rider, hate the push)!  Things have been greening up here a tiny bit, but after this bit, we will be bloomin’ fools.

bloomin fool

But, with everything going on around us today, couldn’t help but think of the fun movie “Evan Almighty” and the scene that hit me the most today…when the ark crashes into Congress and Steve Carell basically calls John Goodman an idiot for being so underhanded, sneaky, and self-centered.

Evan Almighty crash into congress

Hope you are all having a fun Friday and looking forward to spring finally springing!

spring colors

pretty vine n flower

 

 

I HATE ROLLER COASTERS, DO YOU?

I hate roller coasters! I always have. I used to ride most other County Fair rides, just not coasters. The octopus (we called it the spider) with all of its spinning never bothered me. There’s just something about all the way up and way down that I never could stomach (literally – I would throw up every time I was stupid enough to try – ewe!)
I went to Las Vegas with a friend several years ago. We decided to visit Caesars Palace because the animated movie Atlantis came out and they had a ride related to it. Sounded like a great fun thing to do in Vegas – oh stupid me!
Got our tickets and while maneuvering the line to get in they handed out special glasses to view the movie with (STRIKE #1). My girlfriend picked the balcony front row seats I “So we get the best view of all the movie!” (STRIKE #2). We sat down in our front row, balcony seats and heard the announcer say “Everyone, please fasten your seatbelts so we can begin the show, thank you.” WHAT?? (STRIKE #3 and I wish I had been out!)
The movie ride started up. It was called Race to Atlantis, and I was about to find out why. With special glasses on, our seats started to tilt back. The little guy in the movie/ride was sitting in his water racer, and this HUGE slingshot thingy was being pulled back with a racer in it. At the same time, our seats tilted farther and farther back. The announcer on the screen yelled: “THEY’RE OFF!”; and like a shot, we were flung forward in our seats. Now, remember – we are front row balcony! The stupid glasses were a 3-D type, and I vaguely recall screaming as I was thrown forward in my seat! The rest of the movie was a maze of ups, downs, twists, and turns. When it was over, I thanked God several times for my seatbelt staying intact. Then I cursed at my girlfriend, who would not stop laughing at me, for taking me on such a thing!
Well, I am pretty sure all Farmers hate weather that roller coasters! This is exactly what our weather has been doing since the first of the year. The upper seventies one day to lower thirties the next – what the hay? Up and down and up and down – how are we supposed to plan around this mess? Then the other issue is, did all the bad monsters actually freeze out or are we going to have a huge pest infestation this summer?

first-lillies-2-27-17.jpg

(This pic was taken with my camera 2-27-17 at about 2 p.m.)
Most of our annual flowers are starting to pop out. The trees are starting to bud (so far only leaf buds but I am worried). We have a flood of beetles on the south side of the house, and our first house flies already!
Then this:

2-28-17-snowing-n-20-degrees

This pic was taken on 2-28-17 about noon. The fuzzy spot was a huge snow flake. The grey in the background is the beginning of a great snow storm.
By 5pm the whole storm thingy was over. The high never got past 20 degrees. The next 10 days are running from mid to upper 40’s to mid to upper 70’s. So, no matter how much snow we get all total, it will be gone by 5pm the next day. Now how is a body supposed to plan and plant in this stuff? Ahh the life of a farmer/gardener! The only hope is that it stays heavy/wet enough to soak in!
(P.S. Would not trade my country life for city ever again or for anything in the world!)

warm-heart

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WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO?

 

The first thing I do at my computer every day is to check the weather.  Being a farmer/gardener from birth has made me very locked into this habit.  Today is Wednesday – hump day – and the best day to try to figure out what must be done, what may be done (if given enough time), and what can wait until a later date.  This was the forecast for the next seven days as of this morning from TWC (The Weather Channel.com)

Brush, CO (80723) Weather

Observed at 7:07 am MST

Print

Day   High/

Low

Precip Wind Humidity UV Index Sunrise Sunset Moonrise Moonset
Today

Feb 15

Sunny 64° 26° 0% WSW 8 mph 34% 3 of 10 6:47 am 5:30 pm 10:29 pm 9:22 am
Thu

Feb 16

Sunny 70° 28° 0% SSW 7 mph 24% 3 of 10 6:46 am 5:31 pm 11:26 pm 9:53 am
Fri

Feb 17

Sunny 63° 32° 0% NW 12 mph 30% 3 of 10 6:44 am 5:32 pm 10:25 am
Sat

Feb 18

Mostly Sunny 66° 40° 0% SSE 12 mph 41% 3 of 10 6:43 am 5:33 pm 12:22 am 11:00 am
Sun

Feb 19

Mostly Sunny 72° 44° 0% S 15 mph 34% 3 of 10 6:42 am 5:34 pm 1:17 am 11:37 am
Mon

Feb 20

Partly Cloudy 64° 37° 0% NNW 15 mph 30% 3 of 10 6:40 am 5:36 pm 2:10 am 12:20 pm
Tue

Feb 21

Sunny 75° 37° 0% WNW 11 mph 22% 3 of 10 6:39 am 5:37 pm 3:02 am 1:06 pm

Specifically look at the HIGH/LOW column – 60’s and 70’s – WHAT?  This is February for heaven sake!  It is supposed to read minus something to maybe 30°F if we are lucky.  How are we supposed to prep and plant for this?

We have done as we normally do, started seeds.  The long-term stuff like pumpkins, melons, squash; these all take forever to grow.  We usually get a kick out of going over notes from previous years to determine just what worked or didn’t work.  Some things planted too early can lead to quite a mess.  Huge plants with nowhere to put them because the weather is not cooperating.

Well, this year has us really freaked out.  The biggest concern is because of what happened about three years ago.  We started early going with the nice weather, then April hit and blew us out-of-the-water!  We were getting 90+ degrees on Fridays, then 30ish and snow by Monday – within only three days it was changing that hard that fast.  Took out most everything we had worked so hard on.  Lucky we had the greenhouse with some backup plants in it.  The whole fiasco make a mess of our fall harvest that year!

We are only in mid-February and still have at least 60 more days before the end of the deep frost worries.  There is no fear in starting potatoes and onions here in March.  By the time plants start popping out of the ground, we cover with straw, and any freezes won’t affect them.  Something like pumpkins can be toast with the first deep frost even if we cover them with straw.

We did start designing something new to try this year.  We want to try to create a winter starter box outside.  We have specific places to put the outside crops, and one new on the south side of the house maybe perfect for this trial.  It gets full sun – no shade there of any kind.  We want to put in a planter box about one foot wide by about twelve feet long and about a foot deep.  It would be filled with our own good compost mix and then add the plants (melons in this case).  Then we will build a hinged drop cover for the top.  The plants should stay small enough that we can let them stretch out in the plot.  Then if it drops (or snows) in temps, we just close the top.  It will be covered in plastic so that the sun will keep them all nice and cozy, but the evil temps would not hurt them.

So, what do you do when you don’t know what to do?  Think outside the box, or in our case make a new box.  Such is one of our, way too many, thoughts this year.  Wish us luck!

silly cat

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Are You As Concerned As I Am?

It is Wednesday, February 8, 2017, and it will be over 50°F. in Brush, Colorado.  We are expecting 70°+ on Friday – BUT IT’S FEBRUARY???   This is so not normal.  We have started seeds, but I am afraid they may be in for as much of a shock as we are.

Starting long-growers this time of year is nothing new, but my sister is looking at starting a bunch of flowers?  She wants to replace all the Iris’s around the pond in the front yard with a multitude of flowers and colors.  Great idea, however; starting them right now may not be.

the-pond-in-feb-normal

This is the normal pond area this time of year.  Last Thursday (2/2/17) we had such a bad ice storm that they shut down over half of the state (schools, businesses, and roads).  I tried to approach her on this, but she has spring fever extremely bad!  The flowers she is thinking of are of fantastic colors and strange looks, but they must have a “no freeze” time to make it.  We are zone 5 (click on the zone 5, and you can locate your growing zone) and are still susceptible to a deep freeze.

We historically put in our onions and potatoes about the middle to end of March.  Then we cover them with a very thick layer of straw mulch (this year I am adding chicken wire and my feathery monsters decided that was the best place ever to dig for bugs, and dug up everything I put in – grrr!).  They will last through most any freeze here.

One of the best things I have always loved about Colorado is our weather, however; a couple of years ago, was a real freaker.  It was 90° on Friday, then less than 30° and snowing on Monday.  We had planted our corn in mid-April – normal –  but lost it all to the wicked, weird weather.  This warm in February worries me a lot.

I love the strange and abby-normal things, but not when it comes to my food sources.  We grow our own and rely on the seasons to determine when to start what.  Yes, we are lucky to have a Godzilla-size greenhouse, but we do not keep it heated throughout.  We usually let the weather (the sun mainly, but even on a cloudy day it can get over 70° in there easy) manage most of it.  We keep a single electric heater on the west side for the herbs and ever-bearing strawberries.  The heater only maintains those two rows.  There are four other rows for seasonal things.

greenhouse-interior-before-plants (This was before we filled it. You can see the very first plot on the far right side – that is our “east” side of the greenhouse.  The ladder in the center is 6′ tall, the edges (where the plot and the dog are) are 3′ underground.  From the outside it looks like you could easily reach the top – not – it’s about 20′ up.)

 

We are looking at cabbages, spinach, carrots, broccoli and other “cold weather” crops this time of year.  But if that greenhouse gets over 70° for more than half a day, we could lose those in a heartbeat.  We have a swamp cooler that covers the whole north end for the hot summer days, but it is in storage right now.

We also hope to build a “starter area” in the southeast corner this summer.  Right now, all the starts are done in the house and the porch.  It is enclosed and attached to the house, but no heat vent to it – just small space heater to keep it over 50°, and a HUGE south facing window that warms it up to over 80° when the sun is out.  These wild changes in weather have us worried about what may happen in the greenhouse starter area?

I have a lot of family in the upper Midwest area (MI, WI, OH) and I watch what their weather is doing also.  They started out with a mild winter then –BAM­ – getting nailed with tons of snow and freezing storms.  Their storms have been so bad that they have gone without power for short periods of time.  One other reason to fear to start seeds now.  If we cannot keep the heat consistently above a certain temp, they won’t germinate and grow.

The other great thing about Colorado and weather is that when the sun shines here, even as low as 20 degrees, it will make it warm enough to melt the ice.  Place that sun in a huge window or greenhouse, and you have instant warmth.  As I said earlier, even on a cloudy day, we can be warm.  It is the fluctuations that are freaking me out.  The abby-normal warm temperatures are no help either.

miser-brothers

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DON’T LOOK AT IT – DON’T LOOK AT IT – DON’T LOOK AT IT!

What is the first thing you do when you get into your vehicle to go somewhere. My habit is to turn on the radio.  Two reasons for this: 1) It sets my pace for the day – good music = great day. 2) To check who is singing and the name of the song, in case I want to buy it. See, I have this fun new car with fun new features. One of them is this great “info” dash reader. Here is a pic from this morning:

12-8-16-dash-info-14-degrees

So, here’s how the fun techno works.  The bottom is the name of the song – OK.  The middle is the singer or group – OK.  Above that is the radio station (KOSI plays 24/7 Christmas music starting about Thanksgiving) – OK.  Now the top line is where I need to “not” look.

My clock (says 8:15) is off.  I hate daylight savings time changes, and I always have to drag out my instruction manual to figure out how to make the stupid 1-hour changes twice a year…so I just don’t!  The time this morning was actually 7:15 a.m.

The top middle is how many miles I can drive before I run out of gas – I really like this one!  The cute little gas tank (every newer car has this one) tells me which side of the car my cap is on.  This is a good thing because our vehicles are different, and yes, sometimes I forget what I am driving.

The helpful yellow “I” tells me to check my “engine info.”  All I have to do is click a switch, and it tells me things like “low on washer fluid” which just so happens to be what it is trying to tell me now, but I am ignoring it.

Then we come to the culprit of my “don’t look” title – TEMPERATURE!  Yep, it says negative 12 degrees.  OOOUUUCCCHHH!!!  Now I love snow, so fun to play in and we can always use the moisture.  However, cold and I are no longer friends.  I expect that beastie to show up around February, but not in December.  Not here in the northeastern Colorado plains in December.  Our norm is around 35-65 depending on Mother Nature. Today I think Jack Frost has hog-tied Mom Nature just to remind me I have several fake joints (JERK!).

So, as of this morning, I am trying to train this “old dog” to do a new trick – Don’t Look, don’t look, don’t look at the dash in the morning.  Maybe I will make that in the winter?

I enjoy cooler weather much more than hotter weather; however, I draw the line at minus numbers. A crisp fall air, a couple of feet of snow – no big deal. But the negatives are just as bad as the over 80’s in the summer to me. Can only put so much extra on, or take so much off to help my body adjust. When it gets to these types of temps, I’m screwed all day.

I even thought I just stick a small piece of electrical or duct tape over that tiny area just to fool myself into believing it is not what it is. Maybe that will work?

laugh-so-hard-sign

(then they froze – LMAO!)

WHERE WAS I AGAIN?

Ok woman – get your hands back in that dirt!  Ahhh, warm, living, comforting soil!  Breathe deep, life goes on (hopefully), pull up your big girl panties and move along.  Seventy plus degrees – November 2016 – Colorado – WHHAAATTT??

If things were not going freaky enough, we are going to have 70 ° today and the next couple of days?  Now Colorado weather is strange, major part of why I love it here.  But seventy in November is just abby-normal!

I do not have, nor do I want spring fever right now.  I have been sucking in the Hallmark channel trying to bring back my happy-happy, joy-joy of the holidays…p.s. it’s not working – grrr!

I have been working on all kinds of crafts for family and friends for Christmas.  We purchased a ½ a grass-fed beef to present a great meal for the family Christmas Party.  I have been pricing turkeys and checking out recipes for all kinds of side dishes.  I WANT MY FALL WEATHER!

A lot of leaves have fallen, but a bunch are still hanging on.  My honeysuckle, and winecup still have flowers on them?  The California Poppies were over eight inches tall (until my grandson thought they were weeds and helped me by pulling them out – eeek, boo hoo, hahaha).

The Robins, Blackbirds, and ladybugs are all still here?  My Blue Jay’s and Chickadee’s have not shown up yet?  There has not been a single fluke drop of snow yet (by now we should have had at least one fluke flurry)?

dsc_0011

We put the heater in our pond for the fish, but now it’s just a waste of electricity.  The trees can’t make up their mind either:

So now I must trudge on!  Keep creating.   Keep cookie planning and prepping going.  Keep the mood heading toward holiday happiness. 

Maybe I will take this picture, blow it up and hang it on my bedroom ceiling.  This way I can wake up each day thinking it will be the holidays soon:

fall

Or maybe this one would be better:

frozen pond 2-3-16

Then I can remember what winter feels like. (Ok, I am sick – Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer – my likes in that order!)

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IS THERE ANYTHING BETTER THAN A RAINY DAY?

There is just something about a rainy day that I just love.  I can’t quite pin it down to one single thing.  Maybe it is because I hold so many great reasons:

  • Rainwater is best for all the plants.  Veg, flower, bush and tree all look and act so much better with rain water.  Even more so than our well-water.
  • A steady rain (like what is going on now) makes me feel major creative!  Writing, sewing, knitting, crocheting, even cooking (SHOCKER – for me anyway, I normally do not do the cooking here, and it is not one of my passions – love the eating part, but my Sis does the awesome cooking in our household).
  • Something calming for me in the sound of the rain falling, especially on a tin roof (our outbuildings all have tin roofs).
  • The sound of the wind whipping up, rain pouring down, throw in some lightning and thunder and I can fall right to sleep (hee hee- I know, it keeps most people up but not me – so weird).
  • Then there is the childhood part of it.  When I was young, we couldn’t wait for the rain to come.  It meant fresh fruits and veggies to pick and eat, mud puddles to stomp around in, and the added benefit of hot cocoa when we finally came into the house soaking wet and cold.  It meant something warm and comforting for me.  Snow does the same thing.

I am much older now; I also have osteoarthritis (in all my joints) which can mean some painful moments on these types of days.  I believe my contentment overrides the pain.  Maybe it is also seeing something accomplished.  I used to work in offices and factories.  At the end of the day, I always felt like I didn’t accomplish anything.  There was still a pile of work left to be done on the next day, and it all looked the same.  Now I can work on a project and actually see that it is complete.  The next day will bring a new project.  Sure, I have some projects that take more time than others, but the overall feeling is of accomplishment.

So, this morning is time to finish a sewing project for a friend’s horses:

8-25 sew proj

Then vacuum seal some meat:

8-25 vac sealer

Maybe work some more on knitting projects:

8-25 knit work

Then later I have to fry up some chicken and cook some rice to put on zucchini boats to be grilled this weekend (notice, the least fav thing to do is last – hee hee).

Then I usually end my days by sitting in my recliner and working on the yarn projects again.  I never have just one going at a time.  Right now I am working on 5.  A couple of these are birthday gifts; a couple are going to be sold in my Etsy shop, and the other is one that I am actually doing just for me – woo hoo!

Tomorrow is supposed to be warmer and sunny (boo hoo), so I guess it’s time to do the “real work” – PROCESSING HARVEST  yum!

 

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