Skyscrapers and String


Category Archive

The following is a list of all entries from the Musings category.

Deep Blue Something

Hello everyone!

I hope you’re having a jolly week and looking forward to the weekend.

Today is my day off and I love the peace of a long weekend. It is seriously good for the soul.

I have a lot of things to get done, my list is long, but they are all fun things in the main. Or productive tasks. For example, the week after next is a week off for Jon and I, and today we decided what we needed to get for the decorating we plan to do, so, tick!

The poppies were all sold, we raised over £1200 plus £4£ matched funding, which was amazing.

Amber got the Internship she had applied for, and was also asked to speak on a Panel debate on children’s human rights, which was being filmed, and, according to the reviews, and to us the proud parents, she stole the show; giving a passionate, thoughtful and rousing call to action which moved everyone, confident and strong even though she was speaking alongside some very eminent and respected experts, including a High Court Judge.

On the knitting front, Club met several times this week, we have been making plans for a charity christmas sale, so the juggernaut never stops. Accordingly, I have been racking my brains as to what I can contribute. Hmmm.

One of the sillier work projects on my plate has been removed, so I am very pleased, and I finished another that I thought would never end, so today feels like a celebration day all round.

Also knitting related, I have finally started my “Deep Blue Something” project. It’s the usual story. Stash builds up, colours sing to each other and I put them together, a random acquisition of gorgeous yarniness gets added, then you end up with a basket of woolly harmonies singing to be knitted next!

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I took them after Poppying and shawling this week, and swifted the 1200 grs of yarn into mini balls. Then I ordered the colours until I was happy.

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I loved the stripe pattern of the Alder Shawl by Kaffe Fassett; and thought I’d take that as the basis for my design.

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I’m using totally different yarn, in different colours, it’s a different size and a different construction, so is my “Deep Blue Something” an Alder or something else?

How do you decide if you have altered something enough for it to be your own design?


Poppy time!

Hello everyone,

I hope you have lots of happy plans for the weekend! I am on the tail end of a massive hangover from Thursday night; my old boss left and he and I are known to egg each other on and I always end up very much worse from wear on wine which I don’t normally drink much of.

The leaving do was funny, such is the climate at the place where I work there were 8 people leaving from the same department on the same day.

Even though I rested up, and relied on many cups of sweet tea and chocolate for breakfast, I was fit for very little.

Thursday was super. knitting club gathered to show the poppies we have made for sale for Help For Heroes.

Here you can see just some of the poppies we’ve made this year:

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Here you can see one of the tiny crochet poppies, this year, small is definitely the vogue, all the tiny poppies have been snapped up.

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Last year Knitting Club made £860 for Help for Heroes, this year we plan to beat that total! We also get matched funding from our firm, so it does add up.

This week also has been fun on the knitting front, I’ve done the first few rows of my autumn poncho:

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It has taken me literally years to find suitable yarn. I am loving how it is turning out already!

Also, Amber spotted that “Cats” is back on in London at the Palladium which Jon has been very keen to go to (handily near Liberty and John Lewis for pre show wool browsing..) so that meant he and Amber spent Monday and Tuesday night searching for tickets online. We found three seats together in the good rows in February after about 7 hours of researching on the theatre booking page. Good luck with that one if you have a mind to go.

My brown Colinette mitts are finished, I managed to get these sweet cabled beauties off the needles yesterday, and sewn up during many episodes of TV, one good thing about a hangover lol!

I was delighted how two long mitts came off one tiny skein, I thought that was great value as they cost £2 each at Ally Pally. I think everyone who went to the show bought some of those, I would love to see what everyone does with their mini skeins! I’ll get some good pictures once we have daylight.

Last weekend I went to visit my Mum who is in a home as she has bad dementia. It was nice to see her. She was smiling and happy, and was pleased to see me.

What a terrifying place though. I was sitting there, Mum had a doll on her lap, and she was tending to it, people with slack faces were shuffling round like zombies and there was a constant backdrop of screaming.

Mum chattered constantly, she doesn’t make much sense, and now she is losing the ability to even use regular words, so the phrases would contain random syllables joined together.

Today is going to be exciting, I am meeting my friend Lesley and we’re heading for Loop. Lesley has this year become proficient in crochet and she requested we visit my favourite shop on earth to buy wool. Once I have finished writing I am going to try to sort mine as I swapped the money I paid for my friend Mary’s ticket to Ally Pally for some red heart shimmer yarn from Deramores. I think I have a bit too much wool now in fact. But it is beautiful!

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I forgive myself

Hello everyone.

After watching Susan Sarandon on TV yesterday discussing candidly how her life was made beautiful by all her failures and mistakes I have been struck by the profound nature of her words.

Having the house all to myself this morning has meant I could have a long bath and read uninterrupted for an hour.

I’ve always been a quick reader, and some books are more padded out than others. I’ve been reading a book called “Forgiveness” by Iyanla Vanzant.

This lady is one of my personal heroes, alongside Oprah. Both these ladies are my moms, alongside Flylady.

Her name Iyanla means “Great Mother”, which is appropriate seeing as she grew up without a mother. She has been a dear mentor to me without her knowing, for two decades. She will never know how grateful I am.

In the bath I have read up to about 13 chapters of the book, and as I read through I was thinking yes, uh uh, I get that and so on. I decided to get up and go out and pulled the plug and as I wrapped my hair in a towel, these words popped into my head: “I forgive myself for not trying hard enough”.

The irony of those words hit me like a tidal wave and I was then heartbroken and sobbing my heart out. Readers, if I ever was to criticise myself it would not be for the want of trying hard. My life story if I was to write it out in full would be of the child who tried so hard she nearly died trying.

So that is my lesson for today. I forgive myself for not trying hard enough.

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Who Am I?

Hello everyone, I hope you’re having a super weekend so far. Thank you to those of you who have sent lovely wishes to me after my saying how I was feeling down in the dumps after a rough week at work.

After a long sleep, the alarm went for Jon to get to work, so I sat with him as our loaf of bread baked in the oven. He’d stirred cinnamon and raisins in to the dough I started yesterday, so the smell was divine, and it permeated the whole house.

After a long bath and a breakfast of warm bread and coffee, Amber and I headed out to get her a new dress for the big awards ceremony she’s been invited to in a couple of weeks’s time.

The mittens are coming on apace, I sewed up the first mitt this morning then on the bus I knit half the second one. I am surprised that the two tiny skeins have gone so far, I have made nearly both mitts from one small skein.

Amber took some pictures of me knitting on the bus, of all the portraits of me that she takes, the ones of my hands at work are the ones that please me most.

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This afternoon, in the quiet of the day, I watched a tv show featuring Susan Sarandon, and she was a great speaker. She was sharing the lessons of her life, of how things happen for a reason, of how your imperfections make you who you are. I felt she was a tremendously powerful and honest person, and I developed a deep respect for her.

This led me to thinking “Who am I?”

What I know for sure is that my life has not been straightforward, or easy, but I’m still here, laughing and loving life.

I know I can change and evolve, and survive. And grow.

I know I have a big heart, and a deep well of feelings, and that I am as vulnerable now as the day when I was born because my heart is still open wide.

Right now I am drinking a rum cocktail, my cat is spread out on the sofa, my daughter has a fabulous new dress and I have a new handbag and two sorts of new toothpaste as both looked equally good. I’m brave enough to speak my mind, and I live a truthful and empowered independent life.

And I can knit. Oh how I love to make things. I love the feeling of my brain whirring as I look at a pile of wool and wonder what to make with it.

I am glad to be me, and I’ve found the courage to forgive myself, as well as those who have caused me problems and now I am able to step forward again. I’m also in a good mood as I found the key to the German knitting pattern I am trying to follow using my newly purchased Ally Pally wool. They had put the key to the charts right at the back of the book, I only found it as I picked it up to toss it in the garbage can. God listens.


From A Knot To A Thing

Hello all!

It’s been a while since I had any quiet time to write to you, which, is a jolly thing for me, as I am not a solitary creature, and I have a tendency to mope about and get nothing done when left to myself.

It is all guns blazing on the knitting front, both secret blankets were delivered to the new parents in Knitting Club, and I am so relieved I didn’t lose them on the train, or ruin them when blocking lol! It is quite a responsibility to be trusted with the combined output of a dozen keen knitters. Lovely wool – Debbie Bliss cashmerino aran, and jewel bright colours.

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Also, I showed you the tangled shoebox of yarn in my last post. I have made a pencil case, a shoulder bag and a back pack so far and the shoe box is still quite full!

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As you can see above the lid of the shoebox is getting lots of love as well!

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Here you can see the bag pieces, I am still at work on them, but the colours are lovely and it will be nice to have a matching shoulder bag and backpack.

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I am loving the colours, they remind me of Tiffany stained glass windows. I have so much left I will get something else out of the remnants in the box.

It is also time for Knitting Club to start poppying for charity, and I have made about 25 poppies so far. Lunchtimes and bus journeys can result in quite a few poppies with very little effort, today I am going to the hairdresser and. I am spoilt for choice as to which projects to take.

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Life is really good right now, I am enjoying everything. It is nice to not be caught up in any dramas at home or at work and have a peaceful patch in my life. I love my commute, my park walks, this week I saw crows herding seagulls, dogs racing after sticks at top speed, lots of clouds and sky, and I adore the smell of grass and being out of doors. Work is fun, varied, the week speeds past so I am at the weekend again. And how lovely is the weather right now!

On my Birthday recently, Amber and I sat in the park during the day as warm as in summer, and it is still too hot to need covers over me in bed. Unheard of for October.

I am neglecting my reading books, however as Jane explains for Mr. Bingley in “Pride and Prejudice”, “I wish I read more but there always seems to be so many other things to do”. I am really happy, I hope you are too!


The Bag That Grew, and Other Knitted Fails…

Hello all,

One big part of the weekend is getting ready for work on Monday.

I had made a new knitted work bag, so this got packed with my Travelcard, purse, phone, knitting travel kit and lippie.

This morning, I came downstairs a bit late as Jon had trouble sleeping and if the worlds biggest bear is grumping up and downstairs all night, noone else is likely to sleep much either.

Here is the bag:

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Anyhow, after showering I revived a bit, and put my backpack on and new bag. Over the course of the night, the knitted strap on my bag had grown several feet, due to the weight of the contents. It bashed against my calves. Useless.

Another fail is this babysack, it is knitted nicely but I’ve lost the knitting pattern and I don’t know how to finish it. It has been so many years since Amber was little, I don ‘t know what to do other than give it to a friend who both has a new baby boy, and can knit. He can sort it out!

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The older you get, the wiser, or so they say – I think the idea is more that you don’t necessarily know the answers to everything, you just get over the things you sod up.

Long ago I heard the concept of acceptance. I didn’t get it. Now, having got so much wrong and can relax a bit more as there is a balance with so much right, I feel that over all I am in a place where I can be ok with my world.

Knitting has been a great teacher. My epic fails only test my patience and hurt my pride. I don’t mind if things go wrong. If noone sees them, or if they do, it’s fine. I can always undo and remake. It’s only sticks and string. Acceptance.

What do you think?


Secret Projects and Fairy Godmothers

Hello everyone,

I am sitting here with my cat, feeling a bit emotional because for the first time in probably a decade I have spoken with my Godmother. Not due to I’ll feeling or anything, quite the contrary, we regularly exchange cards, and we’ve been writing occasionally as well, but I didn’t have their phone number.

I wrote to them recently to let them know about my Mum being placed in the home as she has dementia. She called me as soon as she got my letter as I had the genius idea of putting my phone number on it.

My Godparents were proper Godparents, gentle, loving Christians who made a bond with me directly. They bought me a charm bracelet and every year when I was growing up they sent me something to add to it.

It was a lovely conversation last night, she and I talked about everything that has happened, and she was so understanding and sympathetic, I feel like a weight has lifted from my shoulders. She also knits and we chatted about what we enjoy making, I feel I have a kindred spirit.

I have been finishing projects at a rate of knots recently, and I am feeling very pleased with my crafting.

In previous posts I have been alluding to a secret project which has taken up a lot of time, and now Russ from Knitting Club has been given the baby blanket we spent ages making between us, I can share this with you too.

Ta daah! He was well surprised. We had managed to keep the project a total secret and he looked really happy!

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Basically, the blanket is made of mitred blocks, it’s a really enjoyable technique that knits up quickly. The yarn is Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran, and it is luscious to use! I am not sure if I would machine wash it like it says you can on the label, it really bloomed just being gently soaked ready for blocking.

I made a matching hat with the leftover wool, it only took 6 balls in total.

Here you can see some “in progress” pictures:

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Here you can see the picking up of stitches, you join the blocks as you go along:

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This morning I just tidied my wool cupboard. Woozle helped.

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Transformation

Hello everyone!

I hope you’ve had a super weekend!

Knitting by itself is a delightful pastime, piling up rows of knit and purl stitches, it is rhythmic and therapeutic, and a total delight.

Once I got the hang of knitting and purling, I wanted to stretch my wings a little more.

I saw on Ravelry all these lace shawls. My mouth watered and I figured, I can do that. I assembled yarn and needles, and a pattern. I got the hang of yarnovers, and learned left and right slanted decreases.

I followed some patterns, the ones I picked were either too hard, or not particularly well written.

Classes I went to, it was hard to talk, listen and make lace.

Eventually it all started to come together, it took a couple of years.

Here you can see my daughter’s shawl.

It’s a good example of transformation.

Once it’s all knitted up it looks, well crumpled.

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The transformation comes from the blocking.

The knitting is the easy bit, effortless, like when your life is going smoothly. Then the lace part is like falling in love, there are points when you are full of rage, there are points when everything goes well, and you can’t believe your luck. There is usually heartbreak and you have to rip back. Sometimes you don’t have a lifeline, and it is impossibly scary.

You have to say goodbye to the shawl and cast it off the needles.

It sits, neglected and alone in the knitting basket.

When you get round to it, it’s day finally comes.

You take the knitted thing and drown it, even when it’s perfumed waters, the shawl has to drown. Once it has relaxed in the water, it looks like a mermaid, sleeping.

Then you gently rinse it and release it from the water. It has to be squeezed then wrapped into a thick dry towel like a baby.

Once the blocking mats are ready you pin out the shawl. It is wet but happy to emerge from its slumber.

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Patience is required, nothing gets blocked quickly. Pulling it into shape hurts. But it is worth it.

Lace knitting is a metaphor for life.

This is what being transformed is about. From a lumpy ball of yarn. Into a butterfly.

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Just desserts, but still I feel pity

Hello everyone,

I hope you’ve had a super week. Mine has been a week of extremes.

I’ve worked really hard and made great progress at work, I’ve had some really excellent moments, I’ve been picked on and bitched about, and despite having a really bad cough still, I would say, I feel pretty good actually I myself, outlook and attitude wise.

Even more productive than most weeks, I have tidied all my cupboards and wardrobe, and after a year of procrastination, I finally ordered the photos from my holiday last year, and took the opportunity to print those from Sardinia this year too, whilst the iron was hot so to speak, and they came in the post today. I just went out for a walk and bought a new photo album, and look forward to sitting and putting the pictures in the slots.

This week, we met at Knitting Club most days for a good session, and after work on Thursday we visited the Loop knitting club. It was hysterical. I would love to share some of the comic moments in detail with you but, I aim to go back, and fear causing offence. Needless to say, the ladies and gents at the club were lovely, and I was astonished to see so many people relaxed knitting beaded lace of breathtaking complexity and chatting and laughing at the same time.

As anyone who knows me will attest, knitting lace brings out a sternness in me, a fierce manic concentration brokered with a shocking bad temper. I was in awe and admiration to see such charming smiling company from those present!

One of the conversations I am compelled to relate was around the subject of this blog. I mentioned it because we were talking about blogs and. I said I feared my need to blog had waned a bit with the improvement in my overall happiness, following a year of freedom after the rotten events of previous years, with what happened with my parents and my Grandad.

This time last year, after coming back from holiday relaxed and refreshed, I got a call out of the blue from my stepdad. Regular readers will know I am estranged from my horrid parents, as they tormented me all my life and then took all my Grandad’s money and left him abandoned and homeless, and. I nearly broke trying to cope with it all.

The stress of hearing from them last summer and from visiting them and seeing the state they were both in ruined my health, and I ended up very poorly indeed with chest infections then pleurisy. It was not a good state of affairs for me to cope with, so I decided to stay away. They never rang to see if I was alright, for all they knew I could have fallen under a bus.

Today I got the call I knew was coming, my stepdad advised my Mum was now in a care home, as he could no longer look after her. I told him Amber had turned 18 last month. There was an awkward silence as they haven’t sent Amber a card for years.

Despite everything he’d done I felt pity for him because he loved my mum so much. He loved her so much he couldn’t bear her to love anyone else.

Watching him control her as I grew up was extremely sinister. He knocked her confidence every chance he got, he made jibes about her cooking (which was perfectly alright) so it became a standing joke, and she believed it. He was unbearably angry at any challenge from me in order to maintain the upper hand. He would create arguments over nothing and upset me in order to drive a wedge between mum and me.

She fell for it all. It was bewildering to watch her buy into all this crazy rubbish. They would spend all their money and all their spare time in dreadful working men’s clubs, he would get so drunk he would vomit on the way home.

He was my dad from the age of 4 and I was terrified to be around this frightening man and with very little effort I was ousted, my Mum did nothing to protect me from anything. Bad things happened to me because I was the cuckoo in the nest and no one wanted me.

She was always trying not to eat too much as he didn’t like it if she grew plump. He made her wear things that didn’t suit her, he was interested in every detail of what she did and didn’t do.

He was able to dominate her and manipulate he to the extent she lost the ability to stand up for herself or anyone else.

She lied for him, took his side without a second thought, together they did things that were cruel, negligent and wicked.

I hid from his jibes and taunts, I lived in my bedroom, did the best I could at school and by the time I was 18 I was living with my grandparents. My parents moved house, and threw away all my stuff.

He made her drunk. She loved the attention she got from him.

When Mum retired, Dad had already given up work. He took over their lives and that was the end of any relationship I had with her, as from then on, I never once was allowed to see her without him being present, or to do anything together with her.

When she drove, he would be unbearably rude and question everything she did, eventually she had no confidence left at all. I watched all of this, helpless. She never said a bad word about him, and eventually she became a shell of her former self. When I tried to speak to her about the things that were going on she would become angry. It was too late.

The irony of the call from my Dad.

Mum is now in the same care home they put grandad in one year, whilst they went on holiday using his pension money.

It was a large 1970’s building but run like a workhouse.

On arrival, they stripped Grandad against his will and examined him all over on the pretext of looking for bruises and marks, to cover themselves should he leave the home with any marks and bruises.

They took every item of his personal possessions from him, including a large sum in cash and gave him no receipt.

They had put him in a room with no bedding on his bed. When I visited him the day after he had been placed there I had to shout at the nurse in charge and get them to open the laundry cupboard and get him some blankets. He had been so cold overnight he couldn’t sleep.

Whilst I was sitting with him all you could hear was screaming from the other patients. It was like bedlam. A strange man came into the room, in pajamas, he looked at me sitting by my Grandad, and he came past and went to rummage in Grandad’s drawers and cupboards. I escorted him out and shut the door.

At the end of my visit I went to see the manager and read her the riot act. I then called the council and made an official complaint the morning after.

My complaint included other bad stuff, but I think you get the gist.

It was upheld, and the home was closed and was only reopened after processes had been put in place to safeguard the residents.

So, here I am blogging, my need to speak about what goes on is not concluded. You can only imagine how I feel about my Mum being in this dreadful place.

As ye sow, so shall ye reap. But I still feel pity for them.

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Seven Years Of Waiting

Why is it that all my favourite kinds of art portray yearning?

My go to cd is Jeff Buckley’s Grace. I can’t even describe to you the effect this music has on me, it is quite profound. If you haven’t heard it, buy it, take the music player into your bedroom and lie down and listen. Ethereal, sublime, transcendent. There are no words adequate to describe the wistful passion of lost love.

My favourite books are all filled with sorrowful longing for another person in various guises, Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility and of course, Persuasion. In Persuasion, the hero and heroine are kept apart for eight years!

Yesterday I watched “Notting Hill”; I have had a summer cold and was in the house by myself. It kept me company so I could knit. Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts star as divided lovers, she is thoroughly rotten to Hugh’s character, and he cannot help himself but long for her return. It is super, great cast, and both funny and poignant.

Back to the point of this post.

I am a greengage lover. So I know all about yearning!

You can buy them in the shops at this time of year for a few weeks, and when they’re gone, that’s your lot. They don’t grow them overseas and ship them in all year round like blueberries or mange tout peas.

Greengages are a rare type of plum, but they are more fragrant than plums, and in my opinion, quite divine. I read somewhere that they originated in France.

Seven years ago, after we bought this house, Jon and I walked over to our local garden centre and purchased a greengage sapling, thinking I would shortly be overcome by a glut of greengages and I would have to resort to pies, jams, chutneys and the like. My mouth watered at the prospect!

We had to walk the tree home, which is no mean feat as you’d be amazed at how much street furniture overhead needs to be negotiated whilst carrying an eight foot tall tree in a pot. We planted it, and I thought, right, that’s that! Now I’ll have greengages coming out of my ears for ever!

Hmmm. Yes, this post is about wanting, but not getting.

To the point, greengages only grow fruit under certain conditions:

1. If a neighbouring plum tree is in blossom at the same time (they don’t compare diaries so the same two trees might not blossom together and you watch your blossom drop off as next door’s tree just puts forth flowers – gah!).

2. If it is wet all spring to make the fruit flesh out. Dry weather=no plums.

3. If the tree is in a good mood.

In previous years, I have usually had one or two fruit, the most in one go once was about 9 greengages in total. Some years, nada, nothing, zippo, zilch.

This year I had loads of fruit. The fruit, if I get any, is usually ready the weekend after Amber’s birthday. The tree was literally dripping with fruit. All the conditions were favourable, and my hopes of a glut were very high!

The weekend after Amber’s birthday came, and I went into the garden and picked a beautiful golden green soft plum. Ooops! It was bitter! I tried a couple more, no, not ready.

The weather continued nice, I tried a few days after, but no still bitter.

Yesterday I tried again, the fruit were quite sweet, but a majority of the fruit had turned overripe and dropped from the branches. There would be none left if I waited any longer.

This evening, I harvested the twenty or so yellow plums and made a crumble. I waited for it to cook!

Here, my first crumble, it needed sugar in the fruit as they were not perfectly sweet. It will last me a couple of days, then will be gone for another year!

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