Monday, May 31, 2010

How Christ Visits Us

Yesterday, as we celebrated our oldest daughter's 20th birthday, good friends asked my husband and I to be the Nanny and Parian (God-parents) of their new baby.

God is good.

Such joyful celebrating are birthdays. Such joyful anticipation is an expectant birth.

On the Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Mother to her cousin Elizabeth, I am remembering in prayer not only my newest Godson and his mother but, also, two other mothers and their babies. One couple has recently been told that their longed-for, much prayed and hoped for baby has the fatal birth defect known as anencephaly. Another couple is awaiting the birth of their second child in July, having lost their firstborn child to the same birth defect anencephaly over a year ago. Both couples are at different levels in life's journey. Both couples are struggling with life issues that some of us have never known and/or will never know. Both couples ask what God's message can possibly mean.

In reality, these times are not messages from God at all. They are, in fact, visitations from God.

Christ chooses to visit us in different ways. Sometimes He visits us for a fleeting moment and just as quickly leaves us with an unquenchable longing. These visits are much too short and we cry because He has left us with nothing to hold onto but a memory of what was. He came and asked us to rock Him to sleep. And He was gone.

Sometimes His visits are extensive and the luggage He brings with Him is greater. He asks us to accept Him, welcome Him, and let Him stay awhile. He asks us to make room in our hearts for His visit. He moves us out of our comfort zone and into another house entirely. 

Sometimes He comes as the expected visitor who becomes the young adult who overstays His welcome. He stretches us in patience, in virtue, in acceptance.

How do we receive Him?

How ever He comes to you, receive Him. Receive Him amidst the joy, the tears, the glory, and the light because these are the things that create Life and He is Life. Receive Him as He comes to you because through Life is our salvation.

 It is through our charity and hospitality to Him through others that we shall be measured:

"Then the king will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35
For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, 36
naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.' 37
Then the righteous 16 will answer him and say, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38
When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39
When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?' 40
And the king will say to them in reply, 'Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.'

~ Matthew 25: 35-41
No matter how briefly, no matter how lengthy, no matter how difficult, no matter how inconvenient, no matter how imperfect, no matter how...these visitations are simply what they are...visits from Christ.

How have you received Him?
Let us pray that we receive him as prayerfully and joyfully as cousin Elizabeth did on the Feast of the Visitation:

"When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, 'Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?' "

* * * * *

"Unlike a simple visit, a visitation is different owing to the purpose intended by the get-together. A visitation aims to accomplish something. Specifically, a visitation is an encounter that carries within it a meaning that is exception." ~ Magnificat (Mass Contemplation/ May 31, 2010)

* * * * *

Eternal Father,
you inspired the Virgin Mary, mother of your Son,
to visit Elizabeth and assist her in her need.
Keep us open to the working of your Spirit,
and with Mary may we praise you for ever.
We asked this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
Who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

* * * * *
God is good all the time

Friday, May 28, 2010

Honoring our Mother of Mothers

 May 25, 2010
A few of us met at our friend Karen's lovely home to crown Mary and...
...wish our friend Linda a beautiful birthday!

Past May Crownings

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Jolly Jelly Pots

A page excerpt from Little Women:

"Fired with a housewifely wish to see her storeroom stocked with homemade preserves, she undertook to put up her own currant jelly. John was requested to order home a dozen or so of little pots, and an extra quantity of sugar, for their own currants were ripe, and were to be attended to at once. As John firmly believed that 'my wife' was equal to anything, and took a natural pride in her skill, he resolved that she should be gratified, and their only crop of fruit laid by in a most pleasing form for winter use. Home came four dozen delightful little pots, half a barrel of sugar, and a small boy to pick the currants for her. With her pretty hair tucked into a little cap, arms bared to the elbow, and a checked apron which had a coquettish look in spite of the bib, the young housewife fell to work, feeling no doubts about her success; for hadn't she seen Hannah do it hundreds of times? The array of pots rather amazed her at first, but John was so fond of jelly, and the nice little jars would look so well on the top shelf, that Meg resolved to fill them all, and spent a long day picking, boiling, straining, and fussing over her jelly." ~ Little Women (pg. 305-306 'Domestic Experiences')

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Makes Perfect Sense to Me

I always thought Purgatory and praying for the dead made perfect sense.

The Bible gives us its description of sin which the Catholic Church uses to support its teaching that there is a division in sins. Even a young child knows the consequences and severity of murdering someone is quite different from taking a cookie from the cookie jar when you were told to wait until after supper. Thus the Church teaches that there is mortal sin and venial sin.

Unless you are heartily sorry and cry out, beg, plea for God's mercy and forgiveness for having offended thee, and I detest all my sins because of thy just punishment, I firmly resolve with the help of thy grace (which Catholics are blessed to receive in the sacramental seal of confession) to sin no more and to avoid the near occasion of sin Amen you will go to hell for one.

Not for the other lesser sin of gobbling your Momma's fresh baked cookies that were staring you in the face. Or, as my past history case, snatching my mother's little frozen condensed-milk-with-nuts-dipped-in-chocolate-balls during the weeks leading up to the Christmas Eve party.

Thank God I knew my mother and God loved me enough not to send me to hell for that trifle truffle. ;-)

Quite honestly I'm relieved that I God loves my unconditionally and I am not such an awful person so I probably won't go straight to Hell so I needn't live my life in a state of fear but, rather, in a state of hope and faith. God even loves the murderer so our hope in His mercy and love is endless.

But let's be realistic. God is most holy, most pure. I'm also relieved I won't go before the Lord God Almighty until I have been thoroughly cleansed...sinful creature that I am...because I am by no means as perfect as He. As the young child must be disciplined and corrected for snatching those cookies (or delicious little milky chocolate balls that melt in your mouth!), so should we be disciplined...with mercy. God is a loving god. He is also a just god.

The Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule should serve as our Guide to Heaven. To know God is to love Him. To love God is to desire to serve Him.
Go here to read an excellent article the Church's belief and teaching of Purgatory and Praying for the Dead

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

One of My Favorite Resources Too...

...and Jennifer wrote about it better than I can: A Bit More About My Favorite Resource

We both write for the magazine (which is the only Catholic homeschooling magazine resource out there, btw ;-) along with many other writers who believe in this ministry and wish to give back to the homeschooling community which has taught them so much. We all believe in the value, commitment, and mentoring this resource offers.

If you are one who prefers to see and inspect a resource before making a buying decision, let me assure you that everyone who walks up to the Hillside Education table at the conventions I have attended have lingered over the back issues offered to them and bought an issue to take home. Those who already have subscriptions to Mater et Magistra bless us by stopping to tell us how eagerly they await each issue and how much they enjoy each issue when it arrives in the mail.

Shortly you will begin ordering school items for your children, why not treat yourself first. Mater et Magistra will help you discern your educational prospects, plan your school year, make educated decisions, observe the liturgical year, and give you mental food for the journey. You will also meet other homeschooling families who share their experiences as well as homeschooled graduates who share their homeschooling journeys. A free unit study is provided in each issue.

Plus, there is FREE stuff on the website for all Catholic homeschoolers. There is now a blogspot provided to keep you informed of updates. Link it to your GoogleReader today.

Here's a sneak peek at the Spring Issue. If you're interested in the Good Shepherd Catechesis, use of Atriums for spiritual guidance, the Montessori approach, and more ideas to use as first-time home educating parents or parents of youngsters; you don't want to miss this issue.  To see more contents in this issue go here: Spring Issue

The Summer Issue will come out before the 2010-11 school bell rings. Consider the subscription fee part of your Teacher Inservice for the 2010-11 new school year. The Summer Issue is focused on the Journey of Homeschooling and will give you the provisions you need to start the school year with sure footing.

It's also a good idea to pray to the Mother and Teacher of Our Lord Jesus Christ before planning and beginning your new school plans.

Unintentional Decluttering

It all began with a crisis. I had lost my husband's prescription, or at least thought I had lost it. I don't remember putting it in my purse when we left the doctor's office. My husband could have easily put it in a safe place but doctor appointments, bills, notices, and prescriptions ultimately become my responsibility.

On this day, when I went to have it filled, it was no where to be found.

Thus began the ultimate search...high and low and everywhere in between...which led to lots of decluttering. Not that my house looks like I've decluttered but when it comes to the stacks of paper around this place, I most certainly did declutter. No one else may notice but I certainly do. A trash bag full of paper was my trophy: a whole tree cut, sliced, shredded, packed, pasted, measured and paperized.

Was I feeling proud? Yes, indeed. I also found it amusing that in throwing away a trash bag full of paper that it made me feel green somehow. Funny how decluttering and cleaning make us feel as though we are helping the environment.

In many ways, we are. We are helping to beautify, polish, and make productive our homes where the most important people in the world live. That's a good thing.

After futively searching through my purse, planner and book bag at least five times each, I moved to the window seat which reflected poster projects, dioramas, and lots of school work: lots of books and paper.

No prescription.

I moved to the microwave where all my husband's paper are kept. And I looked and I looked and I looked. Nothing.

The paper trail moved on.

I checked my purse, my book bag and my planner again. Nothing.

My bedroom which is a cellar of all things bookish was next. The blue chair which is supposed to be my reading corner yet continously dissolves into my laundry/office has been restored to its original domestic happiness. Instead of six piles of books and paper tripping over the floor there is only one small pile of papers which I am currently working on or that needs my current attention and the books have been neatly returned to bookshelves. A week's load of washed clothing has been hung in the closets.

Still no prescription.

I moved to the opposite corner of my bedroom. I began to weed and file and sort. I cleared enough to know that the prescription could not be down in the depths of that inferno. You would have to look at what I was able to throw away and put away to fully appreciate my attempt. There is still 3/4 of that corner that needs to be reshuffled. The bookshelves in that room need to be rearranged and some of their fruit given to others. Still I feel an attempt has been started and that's worth something.

Yet, still no prescription.

I was getting worried. What does one do if they loose a prescription? Would the doctor write out a new one? I searched the long headboard over our bed. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing.

Chelsea stopped by my bedroom to tell me she was going to bed and give me a kiss. Pray to St. Anthony, I begged her. She's a great one at praying.

I finally decided to go to bed and rest my mind. Tomorrow is another day, at least Scarlett O'Hara believed it. Not that it would work any better for me than it did for her.

Day 2:

This morning I noticed a piece of paper on the window sill above the microwave. I picked it up with the intent to throw it away. On my way to the trash can I flipped it over and glanced at it.

Prescription found.

And I got a lot of cleaning done in the process.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Monday, May 17, 2010

Riches of the Garden

In my recent daybook, I promised a gardening post. This one isn't completely ripe but it's a budding landscape and that carries a weight all its own.

Here is one of the mayhaw trees adorned in its springtime jewelry.
Tomato plants sitting in grandma's tin cans, waiting to be put on the pantry shelf.
My husband made these treated cucumber laddars. They were made as part of a swing-arbor many years ago and we recycled them. I wish I had mini-cucumbers to photograph but the squirrels got our first batch.
So we replanted. Here is our starter crop in our hothouse buckets. The cucumbers are in the little circular cups next to the peppers.
Squash buds. Husband told me this afternoon that we have a baby squash already. I need to go check that baby.
Corn stalks which tend to be jesters. They grow elegantly at first, stately guardians of the garden, but never seem to remain. Still...the jester is under the king's command, so we shall wait and see.
Strawberry plants, green onions, peppers, tender cucumber vines, and new tomatoes in the hothouse buckets. Can't wait until this produce aisle opens on market day. My freezer, my pantry, and my purse will be many times heavier.
These pictures were taken earlier in the month and I'm afraid I don't have any ripe red strawberries to share with you, just green. We had a handful of pleasing samples injected full of juice until a couple of sneaky squirrels---by the names of Annie and Michael---ate them all. We're hoping Mother Nature is kind and sprinkles our vines with more natural rubies so the rest of us can enjoy the riches of the garden.

Mass, Mary, Mothers Daybook

FOR TODAY... from Cay's Daybook ...two days in the making.

Outside my brother-in-law's peaches are ripening. So is the garden...which reminds me, I've been meaning to do a post on our garden. And haven't. :-(  It's exciting to see it all budding and growing and fledging; but never as exciting as harvesting.

I am hearing...Last Night: The kids had friends over all weekend long...some are still day these walls might be too I embrace the noise.

This morning: I sent Garrett ahead to co-op with Chelsea and her friends. I'm letting Annie get an extra hour of sleep after a busy weekend while I check my email (and FB) (and write my daybook); then we'll meet everyone at co-op. For now, I'm embracing the silence.

I am's time to polish up on cultivating a kind, gentle tone of voice with my pre-teen and teenager in the same way I did when they were little.

I am thankful

I am wearing...Last Night: red top, blue jean capris

This morning: pink top, beige capris

I am remembering...the weekend, fondly.

This is my note to myself...get sunscreen to bring to not go to waterpark (even after 3) without sunscreen.

I am reading...The Secret Diary of Elisabeth Leseur by Elisabeth Leseur (been planning a post about my personal connection with this diary but never seem to get around to it or have the needed inspiration)

I'm rereading My Heart Lies South by Elizabeth Borton De Trevino (another book that I have a personal connection to and planned to write a review...never seems to materialize). Each time I read this book I pick up more and more flavor and inspiration I wish to cull into every day life using my own culture and faith. Next week some friends and I are getting together to discuss plans for this summer. I plan to bring this book with me. It's a good reference for young Catholic girls growing into womanhood.

I plan to read Waiting for Eli by Chad Judice once Kayleigh is finished with it.

I am creating...rather, thinking, about creating a plan to use My Heart Lies South with some budding homemakers this summer.

I am finish our school work this month. Gotta motivate these children. I believe they're hoping I'll cave before they will.

On my I use the media and the Internet in this home.

From the learning rooms...I am in planning mode for next year. Very briefly in pencil...

Garrett (11th grade): Algebra, Chemistry, ACT Prep, Christ & the Americas, Surprised by Truth, Redcoats and Rebels (still planning) and co-op classes

Chelsea (7th grade): Saxon 8/7, LOG & VIE, Seton Science 7 and Concepts and Challenges C, CHC Spelling, Old World and America, Map Skills G, The World, Bible History, Reading: Our Freedoms, Book of Fortitude, Heritage, Valor, Art Seton 7 and co-op classes

Annie (3rd grade): Abeka 3 Math, Bible Stories & Baltimore Cate., LOG and PLL, CHC Spelling and Explode the Code, Seton Art 3, Cursive Handwriting Seton, Thinking Skills C, Map Skills C, Our Father's World, How our Nation Began, Seton 3 History, Reading: Story Tree, Our Town, Our Valley, Spanish II and co-op classes

From the liturgical year calendar...May 25nd---May Crowning at my friend Karen's house.

My list this on school books in hopes of finishing up by last Friday of May.

Pondering these words...Thursday and today's readings from my Magnificat

From the kitchen...Corey cooked lunch on Sunday for the whole family...Baked Duck stuffed with celery and apple slices in a creamy brown potato and carrot gravy served over rice. It was a treat for his girlfriend who finished her college semester with a 4.0 average. Go, Adrain!

Kayleigh and Annie topped the meal with fresh hot monkey bread. Yum! Hubby is cooking breakfast-supper tonight. That's his specialty.

A recipe: Kayleigh's Monkey Bread (the best)---

2 cans biscuits
1/2 stick margarine
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 400 degreesF.
2. Mix cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl. Set aside.
3. In a small pot, melt margarine on low heat.
4. Add 1/2 cup of brown sugar. Cook 1 minute. Take off heat.
5. On a cutting board, cut biscuits into 4 pieces each. Roll each piece in sugar mixture. (This was Annie's job)
6. Put biscuit pieces in a well-greased muffin pan. (Kayleigh likes using the muffin pan/ I prefer the bundt pan. Either way, make sure it's greased well) Place 4-6 pieces in each section.
7. Pour brown sugar and magarine over biscuits.
8. Place on cookie sheet before placing in oven to catch the overspill.
9. Bake at 400 degrees for about 8-10 minutes.
10. Serve hot and fluffy.

Around the house...Yesterday: Kayleigh cleaned house today. Heavenly!

Today: Kayleigh cleaned on a weekend when lots of friends were here. This morning the effects of this combination show. Heavenly!

One of my favorite babies

I am praying...for several special intentions.

From my picture journal...Seminarian friend Matthew Cormier at his 2010 graduation from St. Joseph's Abbey in Covington, LA. Please pray for him as he continues his discernment and priestly studies at Notre Dame in New Orleans. Hopefully O'bama won't get invited to speak at his next graduation. lol

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Monday, May 10, 2010

24 Years & Counting

The Art of Marriage
Wilferd A. Peterson

Happiness in marriage is not something that just happens.
A good marriage must be created.

In marriage the little things are the big things...
It is never being too old to hold hands.

It is remembering to say "I love you" at least once a day.
It is never going to sleep angry.

It is at no time taking the other for granted;
the courtship should not end with the honeymoon,
it should continue through all the years.

It is having a mutual sense of values and common objectives.

It is standing together facing the world.
It is forming a circle of love that gathers in the whole family.

(Gibson Household Established May 10, 1986)

It is doing things for each other, not in the attitude
of duty or sacrifice, but in the spirit of joy.

It is speaking words of appreciation
and demonstrating gratitude in thoughtful ways.

It is not looking for perfection in each other.
It is cultivating flexibility, patience,
understanding and a sense of humour.

It is having the capacity to forgive and forget.
It is giving each other an atmosphere in which each can grow.

It is finding room for the things of the spirit.
It is a common search for the good and the beautiful.

It is establishing a relationship in which the independence is equal,
dependence is mutual and the obligation is reciprocal.

It is not only marrying the right partner, it is being the right partner.
It is discovering what marriage can be, at its best.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Pebbles in my Pocket

Seventeen years ago (March 16, 1993 to be exact) I delivered my second son; a bouncing baby boy. His older brother was thrilled! A baby brother had been the prayer order for many years and, as expected by Corey, God delivered.

Garrett Andrew was 9 lbs. 11 oz. and I remember on his first visit to the doctor his pediatrician looked at me instead of my baby and said, "So how are you feeling?"

I thought it strange he would ask that of me even as a piece of me lay on the examination table kicking and screaming.
He clarified, "You're awful small (ie: I was 110 lbs at the time and small-boned) to have had a baby this size."

I simply nodded. I don't remember if I revealed to him that my ob/gyn had predicted a 6 1/2 lb. baby and this bouncing baby boy was quite the surprise to all.

"Look," he bid me to my son's side, "you can see exactly how he was wedged inside of you."
And, like a puzzle, he took my son's hefty little legs and fit them into the contours of his plump belly. Everything fit perfectly.

My babysitter's husband nicknamed Garrett Bull-o. To this day Papa Leger calls him this.

Garrett did indeed look like a bull in a china closet. Everyone said so. He was all boy. White headed and demanding. Even when he cried, his cry was deep-throated and manly. He didn't sleep at night.

We embraced the family bed with this son. It was the only way the family slept.

I used him as the excuse for my tiredness, my moodiness, my frustration, my nervousness. It's true, I whined, the third child is the pinnacle. I looked down from the peak of motherhood and was afraid I would fall off the face of the earth. My very self had been demoted.

I admit I was tired. I was working part-time, had a soon-to-be six year old son and a three year old daughter. My son was starting kindergarten that fall.
I had had a miscarriage shortly before conceiving this son.
On top of housework and life in general, I wasn't stopping to simply enjoy being a mother.
I was tired.

I had allowed myself to get sucked into the vacuum known as motherhood in the 20th century...never realizing that I didn't belong there.

I wasn't listening to the whispers of my own body. How could I when there were moving pieces of me all over my house: demanding, crying, screaming even?

There were many times I understood too well why society trumpeted the Litany of Self:

  • Don't have more than two children

  • Take birth control

  • Take time for yourself

  • Don't have any more children

  • Put your children in daycare

  • Get a job
Like Satan in the desert had tempted our Lord, 20th century America had built up this mountain of self and set me upon it and told me I could have it all.

"Again the devil took him up into a very high mountain, and shewed him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them, And said to him: All these will I give thee, if falling down thou wilt adore me. Then Jesus saith to him: Begone, Satan: for it is written, The Lord thy God shalt thou adore, and him only shalt thou serve. Then the devil left him; and behold angels came and ministered to him."
~ Mt 8:1-11 Douay trans.
There were many days I dreaded going home because I didn't want to face the music (ie: crying, poopy diapers, whining, messes, dirt---see picture above), but beneath the earthly grime and human weakness I saw something more, something that elevated this life. In my children I saw the face of God. I realized the sanctity and blessings within and turned away from the desert. And found life...abundantly.

Rather than try to escape into the 20th century mentality, I did what society tells us not to do. 

I didn't withdraw from my family and homelife as the world told me to do. I embraced this God-given role and embraced my home and family. I decided to consume myself with it.

I couldn't help myself.
There was too much sweetness found in the pockets of daily life that saved me from the dizzying heights.
This picture represents one of those little pebbles I picked up along my way to the top of that mountain. It's one of the many pebbles I put into my pocket. It's a picture of Garrett playing in our backyard with his first set of wheels. His sister's doll is beside him. We called it his "girlfriend." It's a picture of what life can be when you stop living in the outside world and live in and for the now.

Those pebbles in my pocket mean more to me than all the mountains in the world. They are the mustard seeds of my life's story.

Today the baby who almost brought me to my melting point is seventeen years old. I find it a beautiful thing that he has a love for all things that wiggle, bounce, twitch and flail tiny.

I now see that his demanding cries was that mysterious voice in the desert which one doesn't quite understand and which many of us try to ignore. We are pulled away by the tempters in the desert: the outside voices which tell us to turn away from the other voice, the one that calls us, the one that demands that we grow, the one that begs us to come down from the mountain and become like children again, the voice that beckons us to turn back to what is a part of us and worthy of our time and self, the one that pleads even.
"A voice cries out: In the desert prepare the way of the LORD! Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God!"  ~ New American Bible
For seventeen years, the physical life of this child has been a spiritual journey for me.
Little does he realize that I am a much better parent because of him and his brother and sisters.
Saying he has been a gift from God sounds trite and redundant. He is so much more.

He is one of the pebbles I collect on the road that leads me to Heaven.
And while it might sound trite and redundant, please don't tell my mother's heart that. I stopped listening to outside voices a long time ago. I now listen with my heart.

Garrett and his sister Kayleigh (his sponsor) with Bishop Provost of Lake Charles Diocese (a distant cousin of his great-Grandma Provost) on the occasion of his Confirmation on April 29, 2010.
Kayleigh and Garrett with our seminarian friend, Matthew Cormier (graduating from St. Joseph's Friday, May 7th---Wahoo!)
Now taller than his big sister.
With proud grandparents.
Winner of Best Defensive Player (Soccer) and Most Valuable Player (Baseball) at the Athletic Banquet Tuesday, May 4, 2010.

Monday, May 3, 2010

It's a Berry Nice Time of Year

Mayhaws stewing in a pot.
Our trees ended up with quince rust again this year. Our old neighbors in Carlyss called to tell us that their trees were loaded. In the good old-fashioned neighborly way, they shared their bounty.
This kitchen tool was found in Meme's pantry when we moved into her house.

We had no idea what it was used for, but we kept it because it was old looking and I love curious antique kitchen items.
We used it to mash the pulp out of the mayhaws to be turned into mayhaw butter. It worked beautifully and we decided it must be a fruit press and so we labeled it such.
We found out the next day that it is (was) a potato masher. We were pretty close.
We ended up with 3 containers of mayhaw juice which are now in the freezer waiting on Momma to make mayhaw jelly. :-)

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