Chapter 54

If midlife dreams came true, oh, wouldn't that be nice...

Don’t Worry, Be Happy!

Ever wonder why some people are positive and others are negative?   Many are ambiguous, but we all know those that are more extreme in either direction.  Those attitudes can make or break a friendship, a family, an organization.

Usually I’m a positive person.  I will actively look for the bright side of things.  There HAS to be a silver lining somewhere….and dammit, I will find it 😉   I need something to look forward to; something positive to feel, experience, to imagine.   If I manifest it, it will come.  There are those whose negativity brings me down.  WAY down.  I don’t like feeling like that, and my natural inclination is to try to help these people see life isn’t ALL doom and gloom.  Sometimes they come around, and they feel better.  Sometimes they don’t.  If they chose to remain wallowing in their negativity, I chose to avoid them like the plague.  We all get to make choices!

Negativity is contagious.  It can spread like wildfire.  It’s especially toxic in an environment where you have to interact with these type of people on a regular basis, such as a family member or coworker.  Some are like Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh….always down and out.  Then you have those that are VERY vocal about their unhappiness, unwillingness to change or to see things from anyone else’s point of view except their own narrow position.  I envision many of these people operating from a place of fear.   Fear of failure.  Fear of losing.  Fear of change.

My Mantra

In my own dealings with these people, there are things I silently remind myself:

  • I do not have to make their issues my issues
  • They are responsible for themselves, and conversely, I cannot “make” them happy.  It’s an inside job.
  • I am responsible for my own happiness.   I, meaning me, alone.  Nobody else.

Life isn’t a contest.  Who cares who has the most stuff?  It isn’t about stuff anyway!  Or job title, type of car you drive, or how much you paid for that bauble your wife is wearing around her neck.  And it’s not about who is the most whatever – the most miserable, who has it worse.   So many people seem to try to “one up” each other these days; or maybe I just notice it more.  Have you ever come from a place you felt was a true or close understanding of a situation only to be told you had no idea how bad things were, there was NO WAY you could have experienced anything this bad, let alone empathize with it?   How on earth would someone know what I have experienced?  I may not verbalize everything.  I may not walk around with a long face all the time when things are tough.  In fact, they may very well be the ones who have NO IDEA.  I just have to shrug and move on.   The older I get, the more I get it.  It’s all about how we treat each other.

Worry Robs us of Today

Worrying is not going to pay the bills, make you healthy, fix the broken water pipe in the basement, reign in that out of control kid, or repair your marriage.  We have all made mistakes.  What we do afterwards is what really matters.  How do we make things right?  Beating yourself up for things that happened in the past isn’t constructive unless you learn something from it.  Learn the lesson, then move on.  LET IT GO.   The only thing worry, unhappiness, and negativity does is eliminate the ability for us to be in the moment.  If you spend your time worrying about things that happened in the past, or what might happen in the future, you can’t be present at this exact moment in time.  And that is really all that’s promised to us. This moment, right now.

Make the most of it.

April 2017 Stitch Fix Reveal!

This post contains affiliate links.

OK.  I know it’s May 3rd.  SUE ME.  The box arrived last week, I just had no time to write.  It’s concert season!  That’s going to happen.  I’ll write more on the great concerts I’ve been attending soon.  Meanwhile, I need something to wear to them, so here we go!

I am drawn to new clothes like babies are to brightly colored toys.  GIMME THAT.  One day I came across an ad for Stitch Fix, where a personal stylist sends 5 items of clothing &/or accessories straight to your door, and I was intrigued.  Here’s how it works:

What is Stitch Fix?

Stitch Fix is an online styling service that delivers a personalized shopping experience right to your front door.   You fill out a profile, and a personal stylist hand picks pieces that fit your taste, budget, and requests.  Each box contains five items of clothing, shoes and accessories for you to try on at home. You have three days to decide what to keep, and whatever you don’t love, just send back in a prepaid USPS envelope. Shipping and returns, and exchanges are free!

How does it work?

1. Fill out your Style Profile, which is a detailed questionnaire about sizing, likes & dislikes (colors, preferences, that sort of thing), budget, etc.  Link to your Pinterest board!  My stylist Crystal is great about crawling my board when she designs my fix!

2.  Set a date for your fix!   You will be charged a $20 styling fee, which is credited towards anything you purchase in your fix!  It’s like having a stylist FOR FREE, people!   I’ve never had a 0/5 fix, so I’ve always had my $20 credited towards purchase.

3. Try everything on in the comfort of your home, and decide what you’d like to keep and what, if anything, you want to send back in the postage-paid envelope.  If you decide to keep it all, there’s a 25% discount in addition to the $20 styling fee credit!  Pretty cool, huh?  Lots of times I keep things I would NEVER try on in the store.  Then you give them feedback on each item for next time.  That’s the beauty of this service – which leads me to:

This is not a subscription service!

You get to decide when you want delivery.  Every 3 weeks?  Fine!   Every 6 months?  No problem!   It’s on YOUR terms!

The company does NOT pay me to review their clothes or accessories – my opinions are solely my own.  However, if you do decide to try Stitch Fix, and use this link I will get a small referral fee.  Thanks!

On to the fun stuff!

April 2017 Stitch Fix Reveal


I was SO excited to see my that little square box filled with happiness sitting on my front porch when I got home from work the other night!  It was dreary out, and the colors inside were poppin!

Stitch Fix April 2017 Reveal 2


April 2017 Stitch Fix Reveal 3

I love the personalized note and seeing how to put all the items together!

April 2017 Stitch Fix Reveal 4


The first thing that caught my eye is the Daniel Rainn Vivenne Floral Print Sleeveless Blouse.  The gorgeous colors and happy flowers (flowers make me happy,  ah HEM, Mr. Chapter54, I’m talkin’ to YOU lol) jumped out of the stack at me.  It didn’t grab or pull anywhere, just kind of flowed over the problem areas.

April 2017 Stitch Fix Reveal 5


Verdict:  KEEP

The emerald green of the Skies Are Blue Kendruh Layered Hem Knit Top caught my eye next.  I thought the hemline was really cute, and the fabric pretty perfect – not too heavy, not tissue-light – for those iffy spring days when you aren’t quite sure WHAT to wear:

Stitch Fix Reveal April 2017 6

Verdict:  KEEP

The cobalt blue of this Papermoon Bastilla Lasercut Tulip Sleeve Blouse is the only thing I liked about it once it was on….I just can’t pull off something like this – definitely made for a different body type:

Stitch Fix Reveal April 2017 7

Just not what I had in mind 🙁

Verdict:  RETURN

The Renee C Linscott Crew Neck Top is a shirt I have been jonesing for – I LOVE this top!  JUST NOT ON ME.  🙁  The material had no stretch to it and the shape was too boxy.  Big disappointment, I SO wanted to love this one!

Stitch Fix Reveal April 2017 8

Note to self: NO

Verdict:  RETURNED 

The Milo Bootcut Pants from Kut from the Kloth fit so badly I am not posting pics.  Shocking, because that brand in the size I was sent ALWAYS fits – and to test it, I went to my closet and tried a few pair on.  Yep, still fit.  So it was the cut and definitely the material of these particular pants that didn’t work for me.  They were tighter in the waist, looser in the leg, and WAY too long.  For me!  I’m 5’8″.  NOTHING is WAY too long for me!  Just a really strange fit.

Verdict:  RETURNED

So this fix was a 2/5.  I don’t consider it a loss, because my stylist Crystal has been watching my Pinterest board and sending me things I am looking for.  I think maybe next time I’m going to let HER decide what to send, now that she can actually see photos of me in the clothing, she may have some ideas to shave off 100 lbs. or so 😉

Have you tried or considered trying a subscription clothing service?

7 Steps to Easier Meal Planning

“Hungry again?  I fed you yesterday!” say wives and moms just about every day.

I’m not one of those people who can whip something together at the last minute.  I need to have thought about this, even briefly, and have some sort of plan in my head.

The other day was Easter Sunday.  On Easter we have ham.  Just like on Thanksgiving we have turkey with grammy’s stuffing, Christmas has to be ham, and St. Patrick’s Day is bourbon-glazed corned beef.  ST. PATRICK’S DAY IS SO A HOLIDAY!!!!  At least in THIS house it is.   My children have gotten used to having certain types of food on certain holidays, and if I dare change it up, I throw off their entire existence.

If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s being locked into something without an exit.  I NEED OPTIONS!  Which is probably why I have always found meal planning difficult.  How do I know if I’m going to want tacos on Tuesday?  Maybe I’ll just be a rebel and make them on Thursday.  MAYBE I WON’T MAKE  THEM AT ALL.  That will show them!  (Who “they” are, I haven’t a clue, but trust me, they’re out there and they stick to strict meal plans).

But let’s face it – sometimes we need structure.  And, truth be known,  we actually eat way healthier and spend way less when I meal plan. So at some point I realized I needed to be more like my sister, who is pretty much the most organized person on the planet.  Here are some things I do that make this task easier for me to handle – maybe some of it will help you too!

Onto the Plan!

  1. First thing I generally do is take stock of what I have on hand:  produce that needs to be used up, dairy products on the verge of eviction, and anything in the freezer that looks like it’s “use it or lose it” time.
  2. Every so often some of these items will come together in the type of harmony known as a ‘lightning bolt”. Let’s see – we have Mexican cheese and tortillas almost at their expiration dates, throw a little chicken in there and we have chicken quesadillas – quick & easy.  I always tend to have pantry items in the house such as yellow rice, black & refried beans, and corn meal, so I can round out the meal.  Put that on the Meal List for the week.  ONE DOWN.
  3. I then poll whoever is available.  Any requests?  If it’s my husband, well, I’m usually shit out of luck.  “Everything you cook is great, honey!  I’ll eat anything.”  <—Yeah, I already know that.  Not helpful.   If one of my daughters will be around for a meal or two, then they usually have suggestions.  SUGGESTIONS HELP, PEOPLE.  Just sayin’.

    7 Steps to Easier Meal Planning

    My sophisticated way of marking recipes I like or want to try

  4. Next, I pull out my favorite cookbook(s). I have a lot of cookbooks.  The one I use the most, however, is the binder I’ve created myself from recipes I’ve printed out from the internet and recipes garnered from family & friends.  It’s divided by type of food:  appetizer, salad, soup, chicken, beef, dessert, etc., and genre, such as Mexican & Italian.  That’s just to make things hard to find.  (Hey!  I never said I was organized!)   I’m fortunate in that if I cook it, my family will eat it.  We LOVE to try new things.  Usually when I cook something for the first time, I’ll write notes on the recipe, such as “needs more flavor, try adding more basil & parmesan”, or “absolute perfection, don’t change a thing!”.   If something is a dud, it doesn’t make the binder 😉  As I peruse the binder & cookbooks, I think about the week ahead – is it going to be especially busy?  Late nights?  Easier, with time to cook some more involved meals that may require more prep?
  5. Now comes the hard part.  Does any of this look appetizing to me?  What about feasible, given the time and plans for the week?  If the answer is YES, then that recipe gets put on the meal list and the recipe is either removed from the binder in it’s page protector, or the cookbook name & page number is written next to the recipe name on the list.  Why?  Because I’m OLD and I will forget where I found this about 7.4 seconds after I write it down.  I usually use a scrap piece of paper, but if you want to get fancy, there are plenty of free printables available on the web, such as the one below, found here.Sample Easier Meal Planning Sheet.png
  6. I do this until I get about 5 or 6 meals on the list.  Then I take stock of what I have on hand, and what I need.  The “needs” get transferred to the shopping list, along with Angry Orchard, which is my current obsession.  Why?  Because after all this, I DESERVE IT.
  7. Finally, it’s time to shop.  Don’t forget the coupons!  (I always forget them.  But I don’t want you to.)  Also, if you are in NY, you can’t buy alcohol before 8 am, so you may have to do a separate Angry Orchard run.  Don’t ask me how I know this, my insomnia and gym schedule will be the subject of posts further on down the road.  I DID mention I was in menopause, right??

How do you handle meals, especially weeknight dinners?7 Steps to Easier Meal Planning


What does Spring mean to you?

As I sat in my home office with the windows open this beautiful spring week, I have had the pleasure of listening to the squeals and laughter of the playing kids across the street as they embrace the warm sunshine on their winter-weary bodies and the freedom from books and structure for a week.  Spring to them means Spring Break.  Little kids enjoy the time off from school, with later bedtimes, playing outside, or possibly going on an adventure with the family if all are so fortunate. College age kids indulge in escapades with their friends, making memories that will be told as “hold my beer” stories for many years to come. Young working parents stress over childcare options while their children are out of school – do they dig into vacation time now, find a trusted caregiver that will watch their precious cargo without skipping the mortgage payment this month, or just say the hell with it and take off for someplace that will create lifelong memories for the whole family?

All those days are in the past for me now. Spring still continues to excite me, although I still wish I had the luxury of having time off work. However, when I work from home I get to see the daylight. The budding trees. I allow myself to take a lunch break and sit outside, surveying the garden and trying to come up with an easy, low-maintenance plan (Anyone have one? I’m all ears!). I get to play music and work easily, comfortable in my own environment. Anyone who thinks people who telecommute don’t work much have it all wrong. If anything, we work more!  It’s always there.  In your face.  The guilt of not taking care of it can weigh you down like a lead balloon. Also, we are comfortable. Comfortable, happy people tend to do more.  It’s a proven fact.  Happier workplaces are more productive ones.  I’m happy at home.  I like my work.  And it’s easier to get more done from home then at the office, where I am interrupted every 10 minutes for one thing or another.  At the end of the day, I have to make a conscious effort to shut down my work laptop and close my office door in order to separate work from home.  It IS a lot easier when the weather is nice 😉

Can you believe this kitchen LOST an ugliest kitchen contest? #cantmakethisup

This year, spring is signalling a change in our home – also known as “shit’s getting done”!   The kitchen project, stalled for an obscene amount of years due to crazy serious circumstances that were certainly beyond MY control, has finally started chugging along again.  “Kitchen project” means different things to different people.  Here’s what it means to us:  replace what was gutted out in the fall of 2007.  Like put up some walls.  Lay a floor.  Put in a walk-in pantry.  Maybe some cabinets or 20.  Plus other things that encroach on parts of the house adjacent to the kitchen that were demoed and need to be resurrected.   I have drooled over many posts from people who have had their kitchens remodeled over the years.  I have seen complaints about the dust, the inconvenience, the annoyance…”how long must this go on?” – and then poof! they have a fully functioning, completely done kitchen anywhere from 6-26 weeks.  Mine has been like this for approximately 492 weeks.  Give or take.  So all you lucky ducks out there, please take great joy the realization that this is a very BIG DEAL to me.   Realistically, it will probably take another 2 years before it’s done.  That’s another 104 weeks for all you math whizzes out there.  When it is finally done, we will be having the biggest freaking party this town has EVER seen.  After that we will sleep for 6 months.  And then we will sell the damn house and be done with it!

Here in Chapter 54-land, we don’t hire contractors.  We Do It Ourselves.  Thankfully, my husband has hands of gold and holds a city license to do things, so he is more than qualified.  And seriously…there’s nothing hotter than seeing a guy in work boots and Levis with power tools doing a labor of love!   I love everything about this.  My Pinterest boards are on overdrive.  I want to hear your Do it Yourself stories!   See pictures!  Get recommendations!   Especially on gorgeous yet affordable cabinetry.  Has anyone used Costco’s ready-to-assemble cabinets by All Wood?  How about their semi-custom line?  There are many other “discount” cabinet outlets out there.  Please share your kitchen remodel stories!

Spring.  New beginnings.  My heart just sings.   Enjoy the season!



What He Said vs. What She Heard

I don’t care how long you’ve been married, the road can seem to be filled with potholes sometimes.  Take it from one who knows – it’s not how great you get along in good times, but how you weather the rough seas both separately and together that will make or break you as a couple.

Many of these issues stem from communication, or a lack thereof.  And it’s nothing new.  I mean, look at Led Zeppelin, they found it relevant enough  to sing about it on their debut album in 1969:

Communication breakdown
It’s always the same
I’m having a nervous breakdown
Drive me insane!

My husband and I are headed into our 29th year of marriage next month.  We have some experience with this shit.

We were kids when we got married, especially by today’s standards.  Both of us just 25.  Old enough to have done some traveling, spend time thinking only about ourselves and our friends, etc.  We didn’t have our first fight until we had babies, 4 years into the marriage, and that was 6 years into the relationship.  Oh wait, there was that one time during our first year of marriage when he went out with some coworkers after work and I had no idea where he was (those were the days before cell phones kids, they actually existed and we actually survived).  He stumbled in hours late, reeking of beer and laughing at me as I screamed like a lunatic.  NOTE:  don’t yell at a drunk person.  They are incapable of having an argument.  At least that’s true of the one I married.  YMMV.

The next morning, he hung his 7,000 lb head and apologized for being an insensitive lout, and I was the one laughing as I handed him a pain reliever with a smug smile.   And that was that.

Fast forward to 1992, when shit got real.

Two became four.  In c-section language, that took exactly 2 minutes.


Our children arrived in a pair.  He was so freaked out we were expecting twins he decided to enroll in school 2 months before they arrived so he could be out of the house both 5 days and 3 nights a week for the next 2 years.  Yaayyyyyyyyyyyyy.    I returned to work full time when the kids were 4 months old.  We were the fun couple everyone was fighting to have at their dinner parties that year.  NOT.   Sleep deprivation is a very real, very sucky thing.  It can make you nuts.  And by nuts, I mean waking up from a dead sleep stripping the sheets off your waterbed absolutely CONVINCED there was an infant in there somewhere.  And then have your significant other jump out of bed to join said activity as if a hot poker were inserted somewhere unmentionable until he realized you were completely, stone-cold, bat-shit crazy, and walks calmly into the nursery and calls in, “they are cuddled together, sound asleep.  YOU CRAZY BITCH”.  Ok, he didn’t actually say CRAZY BITCH but I know he thought it.  He told me years later.  By telepathy.

So we pretty much fought about everything for the next 7 or 8 years.   Got really good at it.  What we didn’t get good at was resolving any freaking thing.  What was that?  Maybe we should try C O M M U N I C A T I N G.   Okay.  but how?

Therapy is for crazy people.  Right?

At least that’s what I had thought.  I certainly didn’t need therapy.  The rest of the world did!

But things weren’t so hot at home, and if we are honest, who can’t use a little improvement?  What’s the worst thing that will happen?  We don’t like it?  We don’t go back.  So we decided to try out couples counseling.   Yes, we.  I am fortunate in that it has never been one sided here.  We both know we aren’t perfect and it’s obvious we have trouble talking to one another about things that may either hurt ourselves or hurt the other.  It was preventing us from moving forward in our relationship.   Relationships continue to evolve over time.  Who knew?  We need to keep up or we can lose one another.

Well, it ought to be easy ought to be simple enough, yeah
Man meets woman and they fall in love
But the house is haunted and the ride gets rough
And you’ve got to learn to live with what you can’t rise above
If you want to ride on down, down in through this tunnel of love

– Tunnel of Love (Bruce Springsteen, 1987)

Our counselor has played a pivotal role in our lives.  When we first met with him, he asked probing questions to uncover our issues.  Issues!  We have issues!  Add that to the resumes!   He then drafted a blueprint of what he’d like to go through with us, both together and one at a time, and approximately how long he felt that might take.  This showed us his goal was to help us resolve things, not to have us come back on a regular basis just so he could collect copays.   We learned ways to speak to one another that are joked about on just about every comedy on TV – YET THEY WORK.   Remember that scene from Pretty Woman?   Talking about his father, Richard Gere states:  “I was very angry with him.  It cost me $10,000 in therapy to say that sentence.”  Well, we learned some of the most important ways to speak to one another that everyone should know.  Don’t use the phrases, “You always”, or “You never”.  Don’t EVER use them.  It puts the other person on the defensive and sets you up for an argument right away because the other person usually can poke a hole straight through the sentence pretty easily.   You’re welcome.  That will be $100.

OK.  So it’s foolproof?


We’ve been back over the years for “tune ups”.  Sometimes both of us, sometimes me alone.  (Apparently I need more tuning).   What this HAS taught us, though, is how to intervene with each other when things blow up.  Not to let them fester.  Like this week.  This week SUCKED.

I said something and he replied and my heart broke in a thousand tiny pieces and I thought I was gonna die.  Yeah, that’s the Cliff Notes version, but that’s all you need to know.  It doesn’t matter WHAT was said.  What matters is I said one thing, he said another, and they meant completely different things to one another.

What he said is NOT what I heard.

My mind was booked on a flight outta here because of a misunderstanding I never gave him a chance to rebut.  It took days to figure that out.  So instead of saying “when you say X, I feel Y”, or some other such counseling jargon, I hit him with, “You said X, and what my mind HEARD was Y.  Is that what you meant???”.    And of course the answer was “YOU CRAZY BITCH, of course not”.  (he may or may not have started with the capitalized portion of that sentence, but we all know he thought it ).   What you said…what I heard.   I have a feeling this is going to be something we refer to around here again, because men and women just plain think different (DUH).

Looks like we may make it to that anniversary next month 😉

The thing is, we think we have time

I have a dream.  Many, in fact.  And most have stayed just that.  You know – pipe dreams.  But I’m 54 now.  How much longer do I have left to turn those dreams into reality?  IT’S TIME TO START.  Because we all have to start somewhere.  So I think I’ll start right now.  Right here.  Today.

Me and BAE hanging at the local B&N

So besides the dreams that I’ve managed to actually achieve – marriage, children, a comfortable home, meeting Bruce Springsteen – I have a few more.  Oh, what’s that?  Bruce?  The guy who made the music my kids were raised on, the one they actually thought WAS an ex-, or wait, could it be a future husband of mine?  HA!   Slight obsession alert!   But yes, I actually DID meet the man, no, I did NOT get arrested nor grab at his clothing, I actually could barely speak a word, and cried copiously afterward from the sheer emotion of it.  But I digress…. 😉

Life actually does go on after meeting your idol, and doing that sort of allowed other dreams to come forefront and center.   Like, say, getting the hell out of the city.  And maybe only having to work 40 hours a week…and not having to be “on call” the other 128 (OK.  I may exaggerate.  A little.  But it ain’t much.  Ask my family.)   Another dream is to have kitchen cabinets.  And walls in said kitchen.  Along with a floor that is not painted plywood.  You know, BIG dreams here.



I am ready for different results, so time to liven things up a bit here.  How?  Well first steps first.  In order to escape from The Ties that Bind (the Bruce fans will get the references that will be buried in my posts, the rest of you will wonder, “what the hell is she talking about?!”), certain things need to be done.  Like the house needs to be finished so it can be sold.  We will be spending every last cent we have and will probably require numerous very large dumpsters to get rid of all the crap we all swore we “needed” and couldn’t live without.   I’m going to bite the bullet and finish that college degree I’ve always wanted as well.  I’ve started and needed to stop for so many various reasons over the years.  THIS IS MY TIME.  I will not allow this to be derailed for someone else again.  You know, as a wife and mother, we do so much for everyone else.  Who takes care of us?  Nobody.  That’s who.   That’s why sometimes, we have to take care of ourselves.

Why now?

A good answer as any would be, “why not now?”.  However, there is a backstory to this fire that’s been lit.

About a decade ago, I met someone on an international message board through a shared love of the same music.  We ended up living just a couple miles apart, and hit it off instantly.  Over time, she became one of my closest friends.   She was a remarkable, confident, smart, and FUN woman.   We spent countless hours together and with many other friends, going to concerts, traveling to the beach, going to great restaurants, hanging out poolside, shopping, doing hair, girl things!  Talking, drinking, eating, complaining how fat we were, you name it.   The party began when she walked in.   She could carry on a conversation about politics and the merits of beer pong in the same breath.  And then…she was given a death sentence.  The deadliest form of brain cancer.  I may or may not go into her story at a later date, I just don’t know.  It’s too soon, too raw, I miss her too much.  This beautiful being taught me so much before her untimely demise at age 56, a brutal 17 months after her diagnosis.   Watching her decline was one of the most painful things I’ve ever experienced.  But the quality time we shared, just talking, laughing, and sharing confidences, is something I will always treasure, and I’m so thankful she allowed me to spend time with her each week as her illness stole more and more of her freedom.  She will never celebrate her 28th wedding anniversary with her loving husband.    She will never get to see her sons marry.  She will never meet Bruce Springsteen (and trust me, this really broke our hearts.  She. Should. Have. Met. Him.)  She will never get to do the things she put off until “someday”.   SHE THOUGHT SHE HAD TIME.  We all do.  Well guess what, people?  WE DON’T.

In Fran’s Memory

So in memory of my dear friend Fran, I embark on this journey.  The one that’s going to give me more control of my life.  I hope she’s up there somewhere, with a glass of very good wine in her hand, getting ready to guide me.

In memory of Francine Trupiano 1960-2016

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