Newborn Nirvana

From my various posts this week, you all know how I was feeling kid-starved.

Imagine my bliss – I got to visit (and hold) a newborn today!!

My friend Gen became a mommy for the first time yesterday. And today, I was in newborn nirvana.

Take a peek…

Little Sophia in the hands of her daddy.

Baby Sophia and mommy…

First family portrait – daddy, Sophie and mommy.

{After I held baby Sophie, and nearly dropped her at one point – !!! – I thought I should “share” her with Grandpa Joe.}

For the record, I did call and ASK permission to come visit Baby Sophia. I did not invite myself. {Although, I was dying that I couldn’t come the first day she was born. Mommy needed some rest, so I complied!}

Welcome to the world, Sophia Jean!

Decorating the Fall Table, Montana Style

I love decorating, and re-arranging decor items around the house. Sexy Hubby calls it “Fiddle Farting” around. Only he doesn’t use the word “farting.”

I take it as a compliment.

I have a few upcoming events and was testing my table arrangements.

Please note, gentle readers, I purchased NOTHING for this display. Instead, I picked some stems from the yard, and grabbed candlesticks, vases, pillows and Halloween items from every room in the house.

Take a look.

I love this little decorative pillow. I purchased it at the Farmer’s Market the first year we moved to Bozeman. Check out the vintage fabric with a great historical reference to the Sweet Pea Parade in Bozeman.

Love the details on this candle

Pillows from the master bedroom, reinvented

No table display is complete without food! And seeing these cookies is making me hungry.

Yo, what’s for dinner?? (That’s what they’re always asking me in my house.)

What do you think peeps?

What am I missing in my display?


Work from Home vs Outside the Home Moms

Train tracks - Napa Valley, California

(Forgive the repost, I am in Raider heaven after a 59-14 pummeling of the Denver Broncos yesterday. I was woozy and simply could not focus on blog material last night! )

We are in the process of hiring a part-time coordinator/sales assistant at my office – and we have been through a plethora of interviewees.

It struck me today, after interviewing a very strong candidate, we all walk our own path throughout our careers. There is no right path, or wrong path – just differing ones. And each path is unique – just like its creator.

The young gal we met today was confident and smart and already has a good job which she really likes, which prompted me to ask, “Why are you leaving Company XYZ?” Seems the number one reason, she has a new baby, and is trying to create balance between work life and home life.

She also realizes that “baby time” is very fleeting and she wants to be “present” for her new family and not at an office 40+ hours a week.

I began to daydream, right there in the middle of the group interview, wishing I would have worked less when my baby was small.

I envy this young mother. She knows the right path for herself, and intends to take it.

Over the years, I often felt envious of my friends who were able to stay home with their growing families. Unfortunately, it seems we were never in a strong enough financial place for me to have that same choice.

Although, I do recall while out on maternity leave with an infant, a kindergartner and first-grader, it was a whole lot of work! And going “back to work” (at the time) almost seemed like a respite.

I returned to work when my baby was only six- weeks old. It was awful.

Of course, nothing is as painful as the very first drop off. I bawled my eyes out that first morning. I remember it as clearly as if it were yesterday.

And guess what? He was with his grandma for daily care!

So why was I so buggered?

Everyone kept telling me, “Oh, you’re so lucky to leave your baby with your mom.”

And all I could think was,”Yeah, great, but it’s not ME!!” I began to feel envious of my mother and all the time she got with my baby.

To stay (home) or to go (back to work) are hard decisions – and decisions that each and every new mom (and dad) needs to make for themselves.

If I can impart any advice to a new mother I would say, “You need to do what feels right for you, and what works best for your family. Don’t compare yourself to your neighbor. Everyone walks their own path.”

And if I have learned anything after nearly 17 married years and 15 parenting years – it’s that you need to do what feels authentic for you – and the grass is most certainly NOT greener on the other side (although it may appear to be so.)

My career path has been challenging and exciting and oh-my-God-I-think-I-am-going-to-pull-every-hair-out-of-my-head-if-I-have-to-go-back-to-that-office-for-one-more-day.

I am thankful for my job at the Magnet Factory, that allowed me varied hours when my kids were smaller – leaving me available for fun after-school events that for years I missed.

I was also glad for the travel afforded with this same job – as not only did it allow perfect work/mommy-alone-time, but while mommy was away, daddy made shit happen!

After returning home from a week long trip, I was met at the door with the proud announcement, “No more sippy cups!” Apparently there was a huge “going-away” party, loaded with pomp and circumstance for every sippy cup in our house.

And everything was status quo until I showed up. Then suddenly the need for a sippy cup came screaming back. Literally.

We didn’t cave – we held a brave and united front on the surrender of the sippy cup.

Another time, while away for a week, daddy was 100% responsible for potty training the 3 year old. I returned to a diaper-free zone!! And you know what? He NEVER had an accident. Not once. Daddy must have had some secret weapon.

He never told me.

I never asked.

Moral of the story – careers and families warrant a creative balancing act. And finding the perfect balance is not only an ever-changing act of mastery, but one that we are constantly evaluating and refining.

And when you look back – do not let regret be a word used to describe your journey.

Work Trip to NYC - Visiting the Firefighters
Work Trip to NYC...Doreen, the waiter and me
Work Trip to San Antonio - Dick's Place, random dude (?) and me

As you can see, it was very hard for me to be away from home – slaving away on the road.

A Girl and A Camera

The year was 1983.

A Private First Class in the United States Army was stationed in Korea for 13 months. While overseas, the soldier saved his salary for three months – akin to a king’s ransom – and for what felt like an eternity.

He was saving to purchase a gift for a friend back home.

The gift was a camera – a Canon AE-1, the best of its kind at the time.

The friend back home was a girl.

That girl was me.

To this day, I credit my sheer love of photography to my one and only soldier.

My Sexy Hubby.


In the spring of 1986, I was hired with Trans World Airlines and made my way to New York City – my domicile, and new home.

Initially, until I could find an apartment, I stayed at the local hotel just outside JFK Airport in Queens, not exactly the Ritz-Carlton. TWA’s main hub – Hanger 12 – was nearby, and while over there gathering details for my first work-flight, the Canon disappeared from the not-so-secret hiding place in my hotel room.

As a flight attendant, I never clicked a single frame with that Canon. It did not capture Big Ben, the Eiffel Tower, Lady Liberty or the Colosseum in Rome. Nothing.


Less than a month ago, Sexy Hubby bought a new camera – another Canon, this time the Rebel T1.

He bought it for his wife.

Once again, I am photography heaven!

And I pledge not to leave the Rebel alone and unsupervised in any hotel room, ever! Sexy Hubby often wonders if the first Canon was “pawned” in a New York minute.

It may have been – but not by the likes of me.

With lovely fall weather in southwest Montana, I was able to get out and explore recently with the Rebel. With a new camera, and some photo editing software, I am having more fun than should be legally allowed.

Take a look.

Sunflower, un-retouched

Black and white, soft focus
100% Saturation
Focal black and white
Warm fly
Tint with soft focus
Graduated tint
Close up crop
Super crop
Super crop saturated

Close up bee
Super close up bee

Welcome to An Authentic Life

Authentic posts are made daily, whenever possible, although I have come to learn that balance is a healthy and necessary part of living authentically.

{Besides, an occasional day off keeps the laundry and dust-bunnies at bay. And, Sexy Hubby appreciates a home-cooked meal every now and then.}

What does it mean to “Live An Authentic Life?”

Only you can answer that question for yourself.

For me – and the purpose of this blog – with everything I do, I try to take a positive approach. Inherently, I believe everything happens for the good.

Even the bad.

Life “happens” to TEACH us how to grow and to learn to become better, more solid human beings.

In my posts, I share my foibles with you, in the hope we can learn from each other. Support each other. Save each other from dreadful mistakes.

Or worse, regret.

Do I always succeed? Absolutely not. Therein lies the beauty of living authentically. When you are true to yourself, truth finds a way to trickle into all aspects of your life. At least it has for me.

I wish the same for you.

You can find An Authentic Life on Facebook and Twitter – join the Social Media Conversation.

An Authentic Life is a syndicated member of the publishing network, regular contributor to Montana Parent Magazine, and a founding member of the Montana Social Media Network.

Thank you for spending a few of your precious moments here with me.

Oh Pumpkin Seed, Oh Pumpkin Seed…


It all began with a tiny little craving. 

My favorite wine bar in town (Plonk) often has pumpkin seeds as a condiment to accompany the cheese board. 

And, as you know, the cheese doesn’t like to stand alone. 

With pumpkins a’ plenty in the markets currently, this was the perfect time for said craving. 

I thought I would try my hand at cooking pumpkin seeds. 

And so I did. 

Yet, it wasn’t very pretty or linear. I will explain. 

Step One

Step One: I purchased a pumpkin, brought it home, washed it, dried it and photographed it (as a blogger, everything gets its photo taken.) 

Pumpkin guts

 Step Two: I plunged a knife into the hard pumpkin skin, and proceeded to cut in a circular motion around top of pumpkin – and then, off with its head! 

Gross pumpkin guts

 Step Three: (This is the slimy and yucky part) I scooped out the innards, and then picked through the gut-pile to dispense the seeds. 

Spilling its guts

 Step 4: I painstakingly took each little seed, and laid it next to its neighbor, side-by-slimy-side, on a cookie sheet, and popped them into a 250* oven for 45 minutes. 

Note: I found a recipe on line, but didn’t save the web site or write the entire recipe down, but rather scribbled the necessary ingredients on a note pad. I think I wrote it down wrong? 

Ready to roast

 Step 5 – 7? This is when the roasting/cooking process took a dire turn. 

First, I forgot that higher elevations require longer cooking time. I roasted the seeds for approximately 45 minutes, and took them out of the oven. The appeared “done.” 

In the meantime, the recipe that I wrote down called for olive oil and sugar to be cooked on the stove-top, but the concoction I made looked like a disaster. 

I dumped out the first batch, and tried a second batch (this is the brilliant part.) I wanted to taste the brew – assess it – so I pulled the pan off the burner, and stuck my finger in it! Genius! Hot oil burns skin. And it burnt mine fairly well. 

After some soaking in ice-water, I went back to the stove. This batch didn’t look any better than the first. Yet, at this point, with a sore finger, I wasn’t about to attempt a third batch, so I proceeded to dump hot oil and sugar onto the waiting pumpkin seeds.  

The hot mix gobbed onto the seeds, making some seeds stick together, and try as I might, I couldn’t get the sugary glue to dispense evenly. Adding to the sticky mayhem, I threw in the necessary dry ingredients (sugar, chili powder, cinnamon.) 

And I stirred and mixed – mixed and stirred. Lather, rinse, repeat. 

Then I tasted my roasted pumpkin seeds. 

They were chewy, not crunchy. 

So, I went to my “expert taste-tester” and asked his opinion. 

After popping a few seeds in his mouth, Sexy Hubby says, “They just need to be cooked longer, put them back in the oven.” 

Oh, bother. 

You can’t bake seeds with a sticky coating all over them, can you? 

Doesn’t matter, those suckers went back on the cookie sheet, and back into the oven. I roasted the crap out of them. 

Final result? 

They actually were fairly tasty. And crunchy. A slight mix of savory and sweet. 

I let out a sigh of relief.  

Final product

Next time I attempt to cook pumpkin seeds, I will use another recipe, and one I write down word-for-word. 

(Sexy Hubby, this is exactly the reason I do not write a cooking blog.) 

Enjoy these previous pumpkin gut-retching times from the archives. 

Our first "family" halloween - 1993
Candice, Halloween 1993
Special "K" - 1993
Cameron & Grandma Judy - 1996

 If you have a fool-proof pumpkin seed recipe, Lord knows, I need it!

First Comes Love

I am still awe-struck by the impact of young love.

In a good way. Even at my age.

Recently, my nephew and his girlfriend got engaged. I have never met the bride-to-be, but have heard exceptional things about her. I must say, if she is as kind, and good-natured as my nephew, they will have many happy years between them.

Gazing at the young couples’ engagement photos brought a lump to my throat. Possibly because I am a hopeless romantic, but also, there is something so tender and pure about young love.

I couldn’t help but to think back to a time in my own history when I was young and in love, with my whole life ahead of me. The possiblities were endless.

Looking back 17 years, if my 43- year old self could have a conversation with my 26- year old former self, this is what I would tell the young bride-to-be.

  • If you can’t say it or do it in front of your spouse, it probably shouldn’t be said or done. 
  • Take nothing for granted. Tomorrow is not guaranteed. Live for TODAY.  
  • Do kind things for your spouse,  just because. Don’t keep score. It doesn’t matter.
  • When you disagree, stop and recognize, it’s perfectly ACCEPTABLE not to agree 100% of the time on 100% of the issues. There doesn’t have to be a winner and a loser. And there is no right way or wrong way of explaining the origin of Santa Klaus.
  • Nothing ever stays the same. Learn to embrace change, as it will come whether you’re ready for it or not.
  • Time-outs are not only acceptable, but often-times a neccessity.
  • Leave name calling to the playground bullies. If you aren’t feeling particularly pleasant, refer to above.
  • You don’t have to do/like everything your spouse does/likes. You just need to be supportive. Sexy Hubby doesn’t love blogging, and I don’t love hunting. Enjoyment of hobbies is not mutually exclusive.  
  • Go ahead, use the “good” towels, the “good” pillows and the “good” china. Don’t save anything for a special occasion – EVERYDAY is a special occassion. (And don’t get your panties in a wad when Sexy Hubby accidently sleeps/drools on the “good” pillow. It can be washed.)
  • There will be times of sickness and health, for richer or poorer, good times and bad. What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.
  • It’s the little moments that make the biggest impact. And they’re all little moments.
  • A little self-deprication goes a L O N G way.


Here’s a look a young love.

Isn’t it grand?

Seriously, makes me want to cry.

In a good way.

Congratulations Cole and Mattie!

Cheers to many years of wedded bliss. 

The Various Roles of Women

As women, we are many things.

We play many roles.

We wear many hats.

First and foremost, we are daughters – the initial relationship we formulated.

Sometimes, we become sisters.

My Sister & Me

As we flourish and evolve and connect with other girls – just like us – we meet, then become friends.

If we are fortunate, we remain friends for awhile – a school year or two. If we are exceptionally lucky, we become FFL – Friends For Life.

Personally speaking, I am exceptionally lucky. My friendship cup runneth over.

Many, but not all, of the women whom I call friend, I have known since the fall of 1979 – the year junior high school began – notoriously, a tumultuous time in a young girl’s life. Seems if we can make it there, we can make it anywhere.

We Are Sophomores ~ My Favorite Year

With this collection of girls-to-women, we have celebrated teenage-hood, Sweet 16, 18, Legal 21, 25, 29 (some of us stopped here – you know who you are!) 30, 35, 39, 40…

Debbie's 18th Birthday Celebration
Janine's 40th Birthday Party

Together, through the years we’ve seen it all, every side of every situation; graduations, marriages, divorces, birth of children, death of parents or grandparents. We’ve had “fat-parties,” shared terrific belly-laughs, cried endless tears, dispensed our deepest secrets, wondered about breast implants and vaginal rejuvenation (?) and supported each other, even when uncertain of the outcome.

Thankfully, we’ve narrowly escaped some very harrowing events and mostly avoided serious conflict.

We openly discuss everything from the conflict of a family bed (not one of us was allowed to sleep in our parents bed, and few of us allowed the same with our children) to the fact we’ve never appreciated the skill of  “opening our throats” to property chug beer from a bong.

Jody & Ken's Wedding

Not all memories are pleasant or worth repeating. Neither are the fashion missteps. No names needed.

But mostly, as we continue to move forward in our lives (a graceful term for “getting older”) we have learned how blessed we are.

PHS 1985 - 1995

For all that we are, there is power in knowing what we are not. Clearly we are not our mother’s generation. We are not stoic. We are not shy about discussing our bodies. We are not afraid to speak out for causes in which we believe, and we are not worried about disagreeing – usually with each other.

Nothing like laughter with a friend

We are not afraid to share our emotions. We know our mothers loved us, they just weren’t forthcoming in sharing that intimate emotion. We are tragically aware that as “prisoners of their generation,” public displays of love were not socially acceptable. Which promotes us to make certain to hug our children openly, and tell them, along with each other “I love you” as easily as we say hello or goodbye.

Seems we share more than friendship. We also share the inexplicable bond of what it means to become a woman, and surprisingly, we learn more about each other with every passing year.

Most recently, we discovered not one of us ever formally discussed sex, drinking, drugs or the impending “cycle of life” with our mothers. Yet, we all pledge to include those fateful life-discussions with our daughters (and sons!) so when the inevitable arises, they don’t have to wonder how to broach the subject with us.

40th Birthday Celebration, Mendocino, California

Personally, I recounted the calamitous day in my own history when Mother Nature paid my womanhood a visit. I was so fretful and embarrassed, and had no idea what to do. I was forced to leave a note for my mother – somewhere private, where no one else would find it – on the front seat of her car!

Another friend shared that nearing her one year anniversary of said “blessing,” her mother noticed her spoiled undergarment, and said simply, “Oh honey, look!”

As we shared these recent findings, there was laughter, and knowing looks all around.

Holiday Dinner, December 2009

We are strong, yet we have a tender side. We are powerful, yet insecurity still rises up to meet our gaze.

And nothing stands in the way of our pledge to carve out sacred time – “Girl’s Night,” non-canceled “Ladies Night,” Tours of Homes, or whenever we can coordinate a “Girl’s Only Weekend” – where frolicking, gossiping and general mayhem occurs freely and without judgment.

It’s also comforting to know that on rare occasions, when two girls meet, there is no common thread. In fact, there is pure disdain. Yet, somewhere along the way, when those two girls become women, and look at each other for the first time, and really see the person inside – a unexpected and joyous friendship develops.

PHS 1985 - 1995

As women, we are many things.

We are daughters.

We are sisters.

We are wives.

We are mothers.

We are colleagues.

We are friends.

Pajama day at the office, 2009
Montana-Made Pals
Partners in Crime

To the smart, powerful, charming and loving women in my life – from 1979 until now – I simply can’t imagine a life without you.

You make my life a well-balanced, happy and secure place from which I have the ability and the means to continue this crazy and harried journey.

And because of you, I am the woman I am today.

For that, I thank you.

The Blogging Journey – Part 3

Path to Success

Welcome to The Blogging Journey – Part 3.

To recap The Blogging Journey Part 1 – CLICK HERE or The Blogging Journey Part 2 – CLICK HERE


It strikes without warning.

And it struck me today, while driving to my “day job.”


Lately, I feel as though I am “wallowing” my way through life.

When I say “wallow” I don’t mean, “to live self-indulgently; luxuriate; revel: to wallow in luxury; to wallow in sentimentality” but rather, “to flounder about; move along or proceed clumsily or with difficulty: A gunboat wallowed toward port.” (Quotes courtesy of

A gunboat wallowed toward port.

Just shoot me.

I feel as though I am floundering, and since this blogging journey is about “authenticity” I knew I needed to come clean, and share my tender emotions here, within these posts, with my peeps.

Both of you.

Remember in Part I, it was noted to “Begin with the End in Mind.” You need to know WHERE you are going in order to get there, but the road may not be a straight one. Or even a paved one for that matter.

I also recognize, everyone’s road is unique. And we cannot judge another person’s road unless we have traveled it ourselves.

I haven’t gotten very far on my journey thus far, and frankly have no idea what “the end of the road” looks like. I have a vision. I hope I can find a way to make it to the end of the road, but honestly the route can change 100 ways from Sunday before I arrive.

Regardless, I feel frustrated. Stifled.

As I have mentioned before, part of the marketing game is keeping your friends close, and the competition closer. When I study the competition (a virtual plethora of quality blogs) I grow weak in the knees. I feel unworthy. Inadequate. I wonder, will I ever make it?

Make it where, you ask? To the place in the road where I become the boss of me, financially speaking.

Why I am baring my frail and insecure soul?

Because this mini-meltdown is happening on this journey on this day.

For verification, take a gander at yesterday’s blog, where I equated my internal feelings to this sunflower and its low-hanging head.

How I feel lately

I marvel at successful bloggers and wonder, do they ever feel low? Did they ever wonder, “Am I going to make it?”

The bigger question at the moment, how do I beat the blahs? The answer may vary, but the concepts are similar.

Focus on what you can control = TODAY

Make a list and check it twice.

I make a daily task list of tiny little goals, things I want to accomplish today.

There is something magical about listing tasks on paper. And even more magical once you complete an item and cross it off. I don’t care if I have a SINGLE item on my list, I feel like a champion when I cross that little bugger off the list.

Reverse Bucket List

Recently while spying the competition, I read a “Reverse Bucket List” – the things said blogger has ALREADY accomplished. If I remembered her name, of course, I would give credit where its due. Please forgive my lacking memory.

Also, the accomplished concept came as a shock to my system. Instantly I was propelled back several years (feels like hundreds) to a job interview in which I was asked to “name my greatest accomplishment.”


My mind went B L A N K – I looked like a total buffoon. I could not think of one single thing. It was so bad, even the interviewer said, “Surely you can think of something.”

Nope. Nothing.

Needless to say, I didn’t get the job.

I will be working on the Reverse Bucket List, to prove to myself what I have already accomplished. I pray the list is plentiful.

Just Keep Swimming

If you have kids, you have seen the movie, “Finding Nemo.”  Forever reverberating in my subconscious is the scene where Dory the regal tang fish (voice of Ellen DeGeneres) with short-term memory loss, (more befitting than at first glance!) sings:

You know what you gotta do when life gets you down?
Just keep swimming
Just keep swimming
Just keep swimming swimming swimming

Sometimes, when life gets me down, it’s about all I can do to keep from drowning – to just keep swimming.

Keep pursuing.

Keep the end goal in mind.

Patience Grassahoppa

Patience is a virtue.

Virtually impossible!

I don’t care how many times, various ways or in what language this has been stated to me, it’s a concept  that does not compute in my brain.

Not being equipped with an adequate supply of patience is certainly a weakness, I recognize, but I think I’d rather be stuck in the gunboat, wallowing toward port than practicing patience. At least you can SEE the port.

They say, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

God, I hope so.

This lack of virtue is the reason I drink wine. By the bucket load.

Moment of Gratitude

Since I have openly shared numerous character flaws, it’s nice to acknowledge something positive that I practice each day, faithfully.

Usually on my drive to the office, while staring off in the distance at the lovely Rocky Mountains, I look towards the sky, and say, “God bless us this day.”

I always feel a sense of calm wash over me as I offer thanks and recognize the many blessings in my life.

Deep sigh.

So, I suppose for today, I’ll just keep swimming.

I will worry about tomorrow, tomorrow.

Visions of Fall in Montana

I may be setting a bad precedence, but, I have an excuse.

My new camera grants me a new creative outlet. And I was feeling a bit impulsive today. Besides, why tell you something, when I can show you something.

Much like the blogs that practically write themselves in my head, nearly everything I see, I think, “Oh, that would make a lovely photo.”

Some days I am right. Others, not so much.

I drive by this barn every day and today I decided to stop and take its photo. The weather is simply too perfect to resist. Plus, I know what’s coming.

Reminds me of the line from The Lost World:Jurassic Park, when Jeff Goldblum’s character, Dr. Ian Malcolm says, “Oh, yeah. Oooh, ahhh, that’s how it always starts. Then later there’s running and screaming.”

Barns of the USA
Someone must live here, they left the door open...

I think I spied the someone..and they scared the crap out of me!

Resident White Tail
Big Blue Sky
Fall Foliage at its Autumn Best
Fallen - and can't get up
Bozeman Traffic Jam

I lived in the City of Angels for a few years.

I know what traffic is, Jenny.

I digress.

Most days in Gallatin County, this is a traffic jam of colossal proportions.


Gives "Roll in the Hay" a whole new meaning

A bit further down the road, I spied another photo opportunity.

Flowers of the Sun

I stepped in for a closer look…

Bizzy Bee

Have I told you lately that I love you?

Talking to the Rebel.

I’m a rebel, Dottie.

Sunflower and Honey Bee

Today, of all days, I wish I could be a bee. Flying around the beautiful sunflowers, having a sweet snack, sans obligations, worries, stress. No one to bother me. And if someone tries to disturb my flower wonder, I’ll sting ’em.

Honey making machine
Don't worry, Bee Happy
Flower of the Hour

I must admit, most days I feel carefree. Happy. Much like the little buzzing bee.

But today, I’m fighting the what-direction-is-my-life-suppose-to-take-blahs. In fact, when I saw this little downtrodden bloomer, I thought, “I know exactly how it feels.”

Down in the Dumps

I especially love this photo.

To me, it appears as though the other members of the posy cluster are trying to offer moral support to their doleful, depressed  sunflower friend.

Tomorrow is another day. And one that I will begin with copious amounts of Kona coffee.

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