Archive for April, 2011

A long marriage teaches you the same thing. After awhile, gazing into each other’s eyes can get old, but if you both happen to enjoy gazing together in the same direction — you’ve got what it takes to stay the course. Prince William and his bride Kate certainly looked as if they do judging by their natural, relaxed and companionable body language at their wedding (and those two kisses on balcony).  May they enjoy a long and happy union.

If you find you’ve stopped gazing into each others’ eyes, as many of us do anytime after the first year or two of a long-term relationship, you might try booking yourselves into a resort with a swim-up bar. There you can sip tropical drinks while ostensibly exercising and have your photo taken by a roaming resort photographer who will pose you to gaze into each others’ eyes even if it hadn’t occurred to you already.

What glass of wine would you sip while contemplating this quote?

I don’t know about the quote, but while contemplating this photo taken in Negril, Jamaica in 2009, I would certainly consider a tropical drink with a skewer of pineapple slices and cherries and at least one parasol stirrer. A Mai Tai perhaps? Your suggestions please.

Rozsa’s Weekly Excerpt

from Dogsitters (2010) by Rozsa Gaston

“I’ve got an idea.” She cocked her head.  “We could stop off at the butcher’s on our way back to my place. I’ll pick up some steaks and grill them in my patio out back.”

“Great idea. The smell might attract Percy. We’re sweaty too after being out all day, so maybe he’ll pick up our scent,” Jack agreed.

They dropped by Ollie’s, Bronxville’s only butcher shop.

“Stay in the car,” she told him. “I’ve got this one. Just come up with an idea for finding our boy.”

Jack laughed, his eyes crinkling at each corner. It was a pleasant sound.

Why did she feel light as air, considering the circumstances? They would attract the dog back to them somehow. She felt sure of it as she stood in front of the counter, watching the butcher weigh two thick steaks.

One hour later, with the sun low on the horizon, she had fired up the grill in her small backyard. Jack had just returned from one final walk around the neighborhood. Apparently he’d made a stop on the way back. After closing and latching the gate to Hint’s backyard, he pulled out a bottle of Pinot Noir from the paper bag under his arm. Smart man.

“I’ll feel guilty having too good a time with Percy missing,” she said hesitantly, belying her rapidly rising spirits. Her dog hunting partner had manners, if not subtlety.

“Okay, so let’s just have a moderately good time,” he mollified her. “Don’t forget the power of  in vino veritas.”

“Why should I share my veritas with you?” she teased, liking the look of his broad shoulders encased in a red polo shirt faded almost pink.

“I want you to have a revelation this evening,” he said.

“A revelation?” She was startled.

“You’re going to get an intuition about Percy. I can feel it.”

“You can?” Was he teasing or did he really believe in the kind of stuff she did?

“My intuition tells me yours is going to come up with something.” He smiled. “About the dog,” he added.

Of course she had intuition. She just wasn’t comfortable revealing that side of herself to someone she’d just met. But didn’t she need to put herself on the line in order to find Percy? One thing was certain – they’d never find the dog using Jack’s crude techniques. She ran upstairs to get salad and wineglasses.

The steaks sizzled as Jack opened the bottle of wine. He poured two glasses then held one out to her.

“Here’s to finding Percy.” She lightly clinked glasses with him and looked up at the sky. “We need Your help up there.”

Jack’s eyes followed hers upward. “Help us to help each other find him,” he added.

Love does not consist in gazing at each other but in looking outward together in the same direction  flashed through her mind. They were the words of the  author of one of her most beloved childhood books,  The Little Prince.  Something inside shifted.

His cellphone rang. She turned back to the steaks, but not before she saw his face darken as he took in the voice on the other end.

from Dogsitters (2010) by Rozsa Gaston


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“Love must be reinvented” flows more mellifluously in French – “L’amour est à réinventer.” Arthur Rimbaud, France’s gifted and decadent 19th century poet lived what he wrote. How do you find ways to reinvent love?  Or do you?  Is it a necessary part of keeping love fresh? Or is love necessary to reinvent only for some?

According to Wikipedia, turn-of-the-20th century French poet and philosopher Paul Valéry once said that “all known literature is written in the language of common sense—except Rimbaud’s.” Quite honestly, I don’t think Rimbaud cared whether he sounded commonsensical.  His passion lay in pointing to the dark door in his soul then stepping through it – a feat he finally accomplished at age thirty-seven.  Arthur, wherever you dance now, I insist you attend my welcome party when I slip through that same door one day.

What glass of wine would you sip while contemplating this quote?

Rimbaud might have skipped wine altogether and reached for the absinthe along with his great love, Paul Verlaine.  But that’s heady stuff. I’d prefer a glass of Pinot Noir, light, dancing, with peppery notes – the way I envision Rimbaud himself to have been. He was a looker, a liver, a lover, and a great poet although no one really understands anything he wrote.  The Pinot Noir grape is one known for it’s high maintenance, unpredictable nature. It’s both fussy and hedonistic – a perfect portrait of Rimbaud.

To contemplate whether love must be reinvented or not, and if so, how, I’d choose a glass of  Aquinas Napa Valley Pinot Noir 2009.  Around $14 a bottle.  What about you?  Oh, and stay playful. – Rozsa


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All I can say about Eleanor Roosevelt’s advice is that sometimes people do make you feel inferior and then what?   Fake it ’til you make it is my advice. What about you?

What glass of wine would you sip while contemplating this quote? 

I would choose a Block Nine Caiden’s Vineyards Pinot Noir 2009 from California. Nobody could feel inferior after a sip or two of this lusciously strawberried, rasberried Pinot Noir. We drank it with salmon at the Paschal table — a match made in heaven, fitting to celebrate the man from Nazareth’s resurrection. About $14 a bottle.

Rozsa’s Weekly Excerpt

From Running from Love (2011) by Rozsa Gaston

“It’s like self-esteem.” She paused. “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

“What was that?”  It sounded familiar, like an old adage.

“Eleanor Roosevelt said it. No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

Jude burned at the words. That hadn’t been true in his case. There were so many ways people had made him feel inferior growing up that he couldn’t bear to think about it.  He’d buried all the subtle slights and digs under the rubric of “who cares?”

“That’s great, except that Eleanor Roosevelt didn’t grow up on the wrong side of the tracks. What would she know about it?” Eleanor hadn’t been a looker but she’d come from an impeccable background, even fancier than her husband’s.  It hadn’t been hard for someone like her to say something like that, he imagined.

“My, you’re getting defensive,” Ginny remarked, taking a slight step back. “You act like you know something about it yourself. Are you identifying with the poor tired masses now?”

“No. I’m just steamed because that woman messed up the best thing that’s happened to me in awhile.”

“No one can mess up anyone elses life permanently unless you let them. Barring physical injury of course…”

Jude looked down at the floor then back up at Ginny.

“Listen, I can’t talk now. I’ve got to get out of here.”

“Sure. But just remember — you need to speak to Missy before she does any more damage.  Then you need to talk to whoever it was you let get away.” Ginny looked wistful, as if she were harboring secret desires of her own that weren’t likely to be satisfied anytime soon, if ever.

“Thanks for the advice. I just can’t take it right now.” He walked away quickly, trying to recover himself before he bumped into another smug Greenwichite who’d make him feel inferior after which he’d feel doubly inferior thanks to Eleanor bloody Roosevelt then Ginny  Slade. As he strode down the stairs he felt even worse to think what a dignified soul Ginny was. She wouldn’t allow his disinterest to upset her apple cart. But still she hurt. There was a difference between feeling pain and feeling inferior. Too bad at that moment he felt both.

*          *          *

            “So what were you thinking to go bad-mouthing me to your girlfriends?”

“I can’t remember at the time.” Missy fussed with a small, white-tipped nail.

“Look, are you for real? You just slandered me to my friends. In my own town.”

“Maybe it’s time for you to get real. Those weren’t your friends and this isn’t really your town.”

“What makes you think it’s yours?”  An anger way out of proportion to her words flared up inside him. She was a bit too prescient for his taste.

“Who said I did?” She tossed her hair over one shoulder walking to her car in the parking lot of the Belle Haven Club.

“I’ve lived here for ten years. This is as much my town as it is yours.”

“Close, but no cigar.  You live here but you’re not a player. I live here and I am.”

He felt the bile rise at the back of his throat. “What a relief to know I’m not in your club.”

“But you want to be, Jude. Too bad you’re not.”

“Who says I want to be?” he roared back. Who the hell did she think she was?

“Why else would you be writing a book on How to Marry Money?”

“Who said that was the title?”

“A little bird told me.” She laughed. Apparently his secret had leaked out all over town.

“It’s a job, alright? I write what my boss tells me to. It  pays the bills.”

“Why write on such a topic just to pay some lousy bills?”

“Because I need to work for a living.”

“Dear boy. You don’t think big, do you? Maybe you should move back to wherever you came from. A small town, no?”

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Not only did Ram Dass say be here now, God says it all the time. I’m sure it’s one of the things He whispers to us when the breeze blows.  Stop worrying about what happened yesterday, let Me take care of what’s going to happen tomorrow and just be here now.

Why is it so hard to just forget everything else and be here now? If you’re anything like me, you’ll never manage to teach yourself how to do this. But if you can find a moment to take a dog for a walk or change a baby, you’ll get a sense of how to do this. Dogs and babies are very good at being here now.  Maybe that’s why they play such a big role in the lives of so many of us. We desperately need them to remind us of how to be here now.  Tell me how you think God whispers be here now to you.

What glass of wine would you sip while contemplating this quote?

This is the sort of quote that should accompany every glass of wine.  In fact, the whole point of drinking a glass of wine is to be here now.  Isn’t that why the institution of cocktail hour was created ? Stay playful. Rozsa

Rozsa’ s Weekly Excerpt

From Paris Adieu (2011) by Rozsa Gaston

At the rate Pascal and I were going, I’d learn how to cook and enjoy it. Maybe I’d even go to the market the following day to shop for our dinner. I could squeeze a few fruits while screwing up my face at their lack of ripeness. The art of shopping skeptically was yet another French tradition I was determined to master.

After forty-five minutes we bad our goodbyes to Gerard, in another flurry of kisses. Then we strolled home, stopping at the graffiti-covered super marché  on the way. Pascal pulled a net bag out of his jacket pocket and we filled it with small amounts of delicacies we’d have been better off to have picked up in specialty stores, which were now all closed.

We chose paté de campagne, a coarse country paté with enormous fresh peppercorns dotting its rough texture. Next was a bottle of cornichons or little pickles to accompany the paté.  Some saucisse de merguez, a North African spicy sausage that went well with coarse mustard followed. Then there were the cheeses – not much of a choice. We picked a soft and a hard one. I promised Pascal I would go to the market the following day to pick up subsequent cheeses at the crémerie where the selection was  better.

Adding another bottle of wine and two bottles of water to our bag, we were done. We would picnic that evening in Pascal’s living room. A bit of this and a taste of that would fortify us for the real feast to come once dinner ended.

I tried not to think about it as we stood in line, Pascal’s hand surreptitiously on my left hip as he stood only centimeters behind me. His breath sucked in as he inhaled the scent of my hair.

Back at his place, we unwrapped our parcels. Returning from food shopping in France is like unwrapping presents on Christmas morning. Delightful smells and the promise of delicious tastes ravish one’s nostrils at the unveiling of each edible item. We pulled small plates out of Pascal’s cupboards and arranged the cooked merguez  sausages on one, with a tiny bowl of coarse mustard to one side, then another plate with the paté accompanied by its own bowl of tiny cornichon  pickles. Finally, the cheese tray was assembled, and we carried everything out to the small table in the living room.

I sensed that routine would be nice with Pascal. He didn’t seem to be the type of man to tire of it. I would be more the problem in a cozy domestic scenario. But this particular domestic setting was tinged with exoticism. Not only were we enjoying our temporary ménage in France, a country as far apart in sensibility from my own as cornichons with paté were from dill pickles with pastrami; but we would soon enter again the  new world I’d just been introduced to when dinner was over. My senses sharpened, I tried to push away thoughts of later and enjoy the distinctness of the taste combinations spread before me on the table. Be here now, I told myself. God, how I would embrace that phrase in a few short hours.

Paris Adieu (2011) by Rozsa Gaston

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Only connect! That was the whole of her sermon. Only connect the prose and the passion, and both will be exalted, and human love will be seen at its height. Live in fragments no longer. Only connect, and the beast and the monk, robbed of the isolation that is life to either, will die. – From Chapter 22 of Howard’s End (1910)  by E.M. Forster.

The Bacchante & Infant Faun sculpture by Frederick William MacMonnies, from the American Wing of the Metropolitan Museum, New York, embodies the spirit of connection. As a mother, I know the exquisite bond that exists between mother and infant.   When I change my 21- month old, his toes curl around my fingers, his eyes follow mine, his fingers intertwine themselves in my hair and he is 100% joined with me.  It’s a lucky feeling. When he does this, which happens roughly five times a day, I am reminded what it is to be fully present in the moment, completely absorbed in another human being. Tell me what Only connect! means to you.

What glass of wine would you sip while contemplating this quote?

Connecting calls for red wine, the color of blood, the life force that connects every cell of our bodies.  I’m impressed by a relatively new blended red wine from California – the 2009 Lot No. 7 Field Blend R Collection by Raymond.  Raspberries, blueberries, and a peppery kick. About $15 a bottle. Tell me about your own favorite blended vintage at the moment

Rozsa’s Weekly Excerpt

From Paris Adieu (2011) by Rozsa Gaston

A kinetic connection jumped between us. We both knew we didn’t ultimately want Gerard around. But for now, we needed him as a duenna.

Pascal moved closer to Gerard, engaging him in brief conversation, too fast for me to follow. In a minute, he returned to my side.

“Do you want to meet tomorrow around six?”


“I want to take you to a restaurant behind Saint Michel. On Boulevard Raspail. Do you like crêpes?”

“Definitely!” My mouth watered.

“Shall we pick you up?”

I hesitated.

“If you wish, we can meet at the same café we just had coffee at.”

“That’s good.”

“Around six then.”


We continued to walk, the night quiet. Soon we would be in my neighborhood.

“Listen – I should say goodnight here,” I told Pascal a block away from Rue de Belgrade. As much as my companions seemed trustworthy, I didn’t want them to accompany me to my building.

“Are you sure?” he asked.

“Yes. See you tomorrow at six.”

“You promise you’ll come?”


“Could I have your phone number?”

“I don’t have one.”

Our eyes locked. Don’t worry, I’ll be there, mine said to his.

“Don’t you want us to walk you home?” Gerard asked.

“No,” I said simply, my eyes remaining on Pascal. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“But it’s no problem–” – he pressed until Pascal cut him off, muttering something under his breath.

“As you like,” Pascal finished for him.

An arrow inside hit its mark every time he said ‘as you like’ to me.  I could think of other things I liked he might be interested to explore on my terms.

Très bien. A demain soir, Ava,” – Until tomorrow evening, Gerard concurred, changing course. He reached in to kiss me, once on each cheek. I accepted, a teensy bit put off by the wet, sucking feel of his full lips. Then it was Pascal’s turn.

A demain,” he said, stepping close.  His mouth on my skin was dry, firm, masculine. A faint hint of sandalwood hit my nose. Spicy, but subtle.

A demain,” I replied, squelching an urge to inhale deeply. Quickly, I walked away, grateful for the turn at the corner where I could recover my privacy. There was a lot to savor. To begin, the thought of Pascal’s gleaming, gold eyes following me home.

*           *           *

The next day at ten after six I sat down at one of the outdoor tables on the terrace of the Café Saint Michel. The weather was warm and clear, so I tilted my head to take advantage of the late afternoon sun.

I wondered where my two new friends were. It wouldn’t do to look for them. They could find me. Instead I closed my eyes to feel the sun’s warm rays dance on my lids.

“Bon soir,” Gerard sang out, his large, clammy hands stealing over my face, interrupting my reverie. Ugh.

Squirming to release my face from his unwanted touch, I couldn’t be too mad. It was just Gerard being Gerard.  Like a puppy dog peeing on your shoe, he couldn’t help himself.

Bon soir,” I greeted him, hoping I could escape the mandatory two kisses. I couldn’t.

As he bussed me on each cheek, I looked for Pascal. Sure enough, there he was, standing to one side, wearing a clean, navy and white striped shirt and looking as if he’d slicked down his curly hair with lotion. He’d made an effort.

Our eyes met — his large, warm and greenish-brown today. I didn’t doubt the gold in them would return later. I’d make sure it did.

From Paris Adieu (2011) by Rozsa Gaston

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I don’t pretend to be an ordinary housewife. – Elizabeth Taylor

I know just how she feels. Picasso’s Woman with Long Hair (1938)  feels the same way. And what about Brigitte Bardot in And God Created Woman? Clearly no ordinary hausfrau.

Send me your thoughts on this quote and photos letting us know just how extraordinarily unordinary a housewife you are. Or your wife.

What glass of wine would you sip while contemplating this quote?

When it comes to contemplating women, housewives or otherwise, I’d have to go with a red wine. Although I like to think of myself as light and airy as gossamer fairy dust, like any garden-variety extraordinary female, I am as dark, deep and ruby-rich red as they come. Therefore a nice Cabernet Sauvignon comes to mind. Louis M. Martini 2007 “Reserve” Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon at $19.99 a bottle would do nicely. Stay playful.  – Rozsa

Rozsa’s Weekly Excerpt

From Paris Adieu (2011) by Rozsa Gaston

At half past seven I exited the metro at Porte de Vincennes and was immediately struck by how good the air smelled. The neighborhood was residential, close to Parc de Vincennes, where the city’s zoo was located. Around me leaves rustled on trees, lit gold by the remains of the day. They bobbed and waved as I passed, hinting at something.  A secret was in the air, one which involved me, but which I wasn’t in on yet.

Feeling more light-hearted than I had since my arrival, I followed the Australian’s directions to Fred’s apartment.  In a minute I’d found 59, rue d’Horloge and  buzzed the name of F. Pemberwick on the name directory next to the outer gate.

“Yah, come on up,” a rough voice from Down Under responded.  The gate clicked open and I was in.

Up two flights of stairs flanked by a curlicued, wrought-iron staircase, the door to Fred’s flat was already open. Inside, the crowd was dense, almost all male. Immediately my adrenalin kicked in.  Or perhaps it was my testosterone.

I steeled myself and entered, willing my face into a proud mask.  Surrounded by men I’d play my best defense — the enigmatic female card.

“And who do we have here?”  A stout, balding man, with a  reddened nose straight out of Dickens, greeted me.

“Umm yes, I’m Ava Fodor. I met Fred in New York a few months ago and…”

“Ava from New York, eh?” he announced loudly to the surrounding male masses. “I’m Sam. Come on in and get yourself something to drink. Wine’s in the kitchen and there’s beer in the ‘fridge.”  He took my patisserie box and motioned toward the kitchen. “Make way for the lady, mates.  We’ve got a live one here from New York. Shape up boys,” he boomed out as he led me to the kitchen, elbowing bodies out of the way.

We were in Paris, but this was no Parisian party.  If it had been, guests would have been flattened against the walls in each corner, bunched in couples avoiding eye contact with others and making no effort whatsoever to meet anyone not known already.

This was more like it.

“Some white wine, please,” I told a middle-aged man in the tiny kitchen.  A burgundy and navy-blue cravat was tucked into his pristine white-collared shirt — very bon chic, bon genre. He handed me a glass.  I straightened my back, channeling my grandmother; and, a ship in full sail, headed into the salon. It was good to be at a rollicking, roaring, Anglo-Saxon party.

“Hello, I’m Scott from Omaha. Have you come to one of Fred’s parties before?” a blond, corn-fed type asked.


“Are you here with someone then?” he followed up.

“Yes,” as far as you’re concerned.

Over the din of the crowd a sharp male voice stood out.

“The wisdom of life, my friend?”  The accent was cultured, more continental than French, although it was that too.  Something belonging to someone well-traveled.

“The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials. For example — speaking with you now.” A raucous laugh ensued.

Now that was rude. I swiveled my head to scan over Scott’s shoulder in search of the voice’s owner. What kind of brazen boor would say such a thing?  He had to be either drunk, completely ill-mannered or talking to his younger brother.

After a moment I located him. Tall and brash, a man with a high forehead and golden skin tossed back longish, auburn hair. Dashing but raffish, clearly he would take no prisoners in a battle of wits.

I willed him to look my way.

From Paris Adieu (2011) by Rozsa Gaston

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Proust’s words struck home for me on the Charles Bridge in Prague last August. It took me a minute or two to realize there was something unusual about the two female musicians on the right in this photo.

They’re blind.

They were singing Gounod’s Ave Maria as the sun set and the expression of rapture on the faces of the nuns on the left captured our own feelings.  The soaring soprano tones of the singer, accompanied by her equally gifted keyboardist, brought tears to our eyes. The two blind performers had inner eyes that saw something more beautiful at that moment than any sighted person will ever see.  And the nuns knew it. We all knew it. God’s spirit was there among us, receiving the gift of their sunset song. What are your thoughts on this quote?

What glass of wine would you sip while contemplating this quote?

When struck by the Divine, I go with white wine.  Specifically, something light, crisp, ethereal.  Have you tried the 2009 Domaine du Tariquet Sauvignon Blanc?  Tastes like flowers.  Someone brought a bottle at our last holiday party and mid-way through the party, randomly opening the first bottle presenting itself in our refrigerator sleeve, I poured, sipped and immediately felt as if spring flowers and scents had sprung to life inside my head. It was like a party within a party.  The next week I bought a case. About $13 a bottle. Tell me your choice. And stay playful. -Rozsa

Rozsa’s Weekly Excerpt

From Paris Adieu (2011) by Rozsa Gaston

Ehh – Crétin – Comment vas-tu?” a voice sang out. We looked around to see a figure waving assuredly at us from across the street.


In the strangest sort of way, I felt as if I’d been caught in the act. But what act? Arnaud had sent Pierre my way in his absence. Pierre had been a perfect gentleman, whose company I’d enjoyed.  My heart sank to think our time together was about to end.

Arnaud crossed the boulevard, his cocky, confident stride announcing to all he was in full command. The show he put on was for everyone — not just me. I was a show person too — a performer — but inside I’d become more interested in developing the private, songwriting side of myself.

Eh – salut, fils de pute — hello, you son of a whore,” Arnaud greeted Pierre, wrestling him into a giant bear hug.  His casual tone told me they were very old friends.

Then he turned to me. Against his deep, golden tan, the blue-green of his eyes was even more vivid than usual. I thought of ice as I looked into them. He propelled me into his arms and against his chest. Petulantly,  my muscles clenched, resistant to his embrace.  He’d shown up at just the wrong moment — just when Pierre had been about to tell me something significant about himself.

Releasing his grip, Arnaud kissed me four times, twice on each cheek, but not on the mouth.

Strangely, I was pleased. I didn’t want my mouth touched by another man in Pierre’s presence. I stepped back, collecting myself. It wouldn’t do to show my hand at this particular moment. Especially since I didn’t know what was in it myself.

Comment vas-tu, morceau de merde? — how are you, you piece of shit?” Arnaud roared heartily, smacking Pierre on the shoulder. Pierre looked pleased, but he wasn’t smacking Arnaud back. He said something jovial to Arnaud then looked at me. Suddenly  Pierre’s expression changed, becoming more guarded.

My heart contracted. Don’t look at me that way, look at me the way you did five minutes ago, the way we look at each other every day when we’re making silly conversation or taking a walk.

“Let’s go get something to drink. Come on, I need to find out what filth you’ve been up to while I was away,” Arnaud said, draping one arm over Pierre’s shoulder and the other around my waist.

Usually I was star struck in Arnaud’s presence; mesmerized by his charisma, his conversation, anticipating with bated breath the audacity of what he might do or say next. But this time his outrageous, larger-than-life patter wasn’t working its magic on me.

He and Pierre babbled on in French while I evaluated the shift in my feelings. As we stood at the crosswalk waiting for the light to change I felt Arnaud’s left hand slip down my backside.

I moved it back up to my waist. It didn’t seem to belong there anymore either. As the light changed, I realized so had I.

From Paris Adieu (2011) by Rozsa Gaston

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