Seven for Saturday

Happy weekend, everyone! I am excited to be back to blogging regularly, beginning with a new Seven for Saturday post.

1 ~ Home From Our Dream Trip

We returned home from our dream trip to Europe the day before Thanksgiving. Since then, we’ve been recovering from jet lag and trying to get back to normal life.

I can’t wait to tell you all about our cruise on the Regent Seven Seas Explorer! I still pinch myself that we had such an incredible time. It could not have gone better!

I brought home thousands of photos that I have been picking away at and soon, I will share with you highlights from each port in a series of blog posts.

Our cruise experience didn’t just live up to our expectations, it far exceeded them. We are looking forward to making cruising part of our travel plans from now on.

2 ~ Faking It

I was once told by a doctor specializing in allergies that I am the least allergic person he had ever treated. Lucky me! Apparently I am only allergic to one thing: pine pollen.

Pine pollen makes me sneeze, gives me itchy eyes and a runny nose – the usual hay fever type reaction. It’s not unbearable but who likes sniffling and rubbing your eyes all the time? Not me! For the last several holiday seasons, Bill and I have discussed getting an artificial Christmas tree but never pulled the trigger until now.

While watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, we saw a float by Balsam Hill, an artificial holiday tree company. I quickly looked them up online and a few days later, after perusing their collection, we decided on our tree. We picked this one because it most closely resembles the fresh Noble Firs we usually buy.

Our tree arrived earlier this week and now it’s up and decorated. Ours has tiny LED lights on it so we no longer need to string lights. We also don’t need to water it, vacuum up pine needles or worry about it drying out too soon.

We bought a cute wreath for the front door too, which is also pre-lit.

If you decorate for the holidays, do you choose a fresh cut tree or artificial?

3 ~ Favorite Cashmere Wrap

I celebrated my 51st birthday toward the end of October. A dear friend sent me this gorgeous cashmere wrap from Heidi Wynne as a birthday gift.

I wore it nearly every day during our trip including on all my flights and while we were in Tuscany, visiting Pisa and going to the Vatican. Since we were traveling in mid November, the weather was just beginning to turn chilly. We didn’t have coat weather until we got to Rome at the end of our trip. Until then, I only needed this wrap and perhaps a light jacket.

I love the quality and luxuriousness of this wrap and am thinking about treating myself to a black one, although I do find that the burgundy shade goes with nearly all my outfits.

4 ~ Getting Back Into a Routine

We are slowly getting back into a routine. The first thing we did when arriving back in California, before we even went home, is go to the market to buy groceries including lots of fresh vegetables. I spent the next couple days cooking when I had the energy. The food on the ship was excellent but I still miss home cooked meals by the time I get home from a long trip, don’t you?

I’ve also gotten back on my exercise regimen. I am focusing mostly on Pilates on my reformer as well as cardio on the treadmill. I try to workout about 5 or 6 days a week, even if it’s just 20 minutes on each machine.

Once I am 100% over this cold, we want to go for some long hikes around Sonoma County. I miss hiking and love it the most this time of year. The cool weather, green and lush landscape and rushing creeks make hiking so pleasant!

~ Mirror, Mirror 

Our gorgeous suite on the cruise ship had a makeup table next to the bed that I used a couple times a day to makeup my face, pluck my eyebrows, and style my hair. The mirror on the table was such great quality. It had two sides – a regular mirror, then another that was 10xs magnified and it was lighted. I loved that the lighting was just bright enough to see but not too bright to wash me out.

I snapped a photo so I would have the brand name (apologies for the not great quality or styling) and decided to see if the manufacturer makes a wall mount version. They do! So I am asking my Santa Claus to gift me one of these for Christmas.

6 ~ A Different Christmas

With Bill retired, his father no longer with us and the kids all living on their own, Christmas sure feels different this year. No work holiday parties, no French Fry Candy night – a family tradition we celebrated for 16 years – and no big family get togethers. It’s our first Christmas as empty nesters. While it is kind of a downer, we aren’t letting these changes put a damper on our holiday spirit.

We are very much looking forward to Tori and her boyfriend visiting from Oregon for Christmas and, although Bill’s eldest daughter works Christmas, we are sure to spend time with her and her husband during the holidays as well.

Decking out our home with holiday decor helps make our home feel festive. And we’re hoping, with all these new beginnings and endings, a fresh new holiday tradition of our own will develop.

7 ~ My Daisy Girl 

Our 14-year-old dog, Daisy, has been diagnosed with kidney disease which is irreversible. It’s understandable that a dog her age would develop health problems but that knowledge isn’t making it any easier to accept.

She is such a sweet dog – the best dog I have ever known – and I find it difficult to imagine life without her by my side. She started on some medications today to help with protein absorption. I am also going to be changing her diet so she gets more hydration and a balance of nutrition that works better for her condition. Hopefully, these changes will prolong her life and make her feel a bit better too.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend!



  1. Susan Clark
    December 1, 2018 / 6:50 am

    Love all the updates – I enjoyed your vacation photos immensely – thank you. We have a pre-lit Balsam Hill tree and wreath and absolutely love them, after 25+ years of fresh trees. Your choices are lovely – I hope you enjoy them. Very sorry to hear about Daisy’s condition. She is so sweet. I have no doubt that your TLC can do wonders for both of you. I have a an aging cat, Luna, with a overactive thyroid that has left her thin and frail. I cherish the time I spend in pampering her. She has a bold spirit that always inspires me. Happy Holidays!

    • Adrienne Shubin
      December 1, 2018 / 6:58 am

      Hi Susan,

      Our vacation was so over-the-top fantastic, it’s hard to believe a trip can be that wonderful!
      I am so relieved to have an artificial tree. I was dreading another season of allergies. I think our tree is so lifelike and great quality too. We plan on having it for many holiday seasons to come. My husband is so meticulous about caring for our belongings, thankfully!
      I am so sad about Daisy but I am also grateful she has lived as long as she has. I hope we can lessen some of her symptoms. I am going to educate myself about kidney disease diets this weekend. I think you have to get a prescription from the vet to buy special food.
      We had a cat who had FIV and yet he lived a long life. He was also thin and frail the last couple of years of his life but still happy and didn’t seem to have any discomfort. I sure wish our dogs and cats lived longer lives. It’s so hard to lose them.
      Happy holidays! And thank you for stopping by today. Adrienne

  2. December 1, 2018 / 7:13 am

    So much to say. Glad you’re back and had a fantastic time, can’t wait to hear more about the cruise. I’m very glad you got the artificial tree, for your allergies and also because I’m on a kick to make everything easier at this point in my life. We just converted our downstairs wood burning fireplace to one with artificial logs. We turn it on every night and enjoy it, something we didn’t do when it required hauling in firewood etc. Your scarf look gorgeous and cozy.
    And of course, I’m so sorry to hear about Daisy. Never an easy thing, but I know you’ll be able to make her comfortable and have lots of love. xoxo

    • Adrienne Shubin
      December 1, 2018 / 7:34 am

      I agree about doing those things that make life easier. Last summer we tried to get the gas inserts in our fireplaces and for whatever reason, they couldn’t do it. It has something to do with the way our fireplace boxes were built. I would have loved to have a fire in the fireplace with the flick of a switch!
      We have had the tree up for about 3 or 4 days now and already I am appreciating not having to water the tree and clean up needles. Plus, no need to dispose of the tree after the holidays.
      I love my scarf…wore it again the other day. It’s so soft and I love the size too.
      I am upset about Daisy but I realize she is very old. We will enjoy her company as much as we can, while doing whatever is needed to make her comfortable. xoxo

      • December 1, 2018 / 8:00 am

        We can’t do the flip of the switch thing. We have to put a match in and turn on the gas. I’m sure they can do that to yours, absolutely – call another company? Marisa’s is a flip on with switch one, but when you convert a wood burning, there’s no electricity to it.
        I got myself the same scarf and color – after seeing yours!!! I wear it almost daily.

        • Adrienne Shubin
          December 1, 2018 / 8:39 am

          We have old, skinny gas pipes that can’t handle the amount of gas needed to support our appliances and 2 fireplaces. One of these days we will change them. I guess that’s part of living in an older home – ours is 52 years old.
          I love everything on Heidi Wynne’s site! That new hat is so pretty too and I love the new leopard print scarf.

  3. December 1, 2018 / 7:44 am

    Your dog is adorable. I know how sad it is to see an older pet get sick. I still miss my cats that died 10 years ago. I still dream about them! Your vacation sounds lovely. We went to Ireland for two weeks in June and had a fantastic time. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas!

    • Adrienne Shubin
      December 1, 2018 / 7:47 am

      Hi Linda,

      We still miss our cat very much – he passed away 3 years ago. I guess you never really get over the loss of a beloved pet/family member.
      I have always wanted to go to Ireland! I found out through that I am 35% Irish. I never knew! That has made me want to go there even more. It must be so lush and green there in June. Is it hot in Ireland during the summer?
      I hope you have a wonderful Christmas too!

  4. December 1, 2018 / 8:47 am

    I followed your cruise on Facebook, it seemed like a fabulous trip. You got to see a lot! Well, it might be a different Christmas, but I wish you a fabulous one!

    • Adrienne Shubin
      December 1, 2018 / 10:09 am

      Hi Nancy,
      It was a fantastic trip – could not have been better!
      We will get used to this new holiday season – old traditions die hard, I guess. And it’s weird not having any of the kids around. Hopefully one of these years we will have some grandkids! Until then, it’s just us old folks 😉
      Hope you’re having a lovely holiday season! Thank you for stopping by!

  5. Mary Ann
    December 1, 2018 / 4:03 pm

    Your vacation sounded fabulous. My husband has been wanting to go on a cruise for a long time but I have been stubborn about it, maybe because of preconceived ideas about too much food and partying. I look forward to seeing pictures from each of the cities that you visited.

    I am sorry about your little dog but wanted to let you know that there is hope. Our 13 year old Yellow Lab was diagnosed with the same problem a couple of years ago. I did a lot of research on the subject and learned that the prescription dog food is very important. However, I also learned that if you put a dog strictly on a low-protein diet, which is what the prescription diet is, they can lose muscle mass. We dealt with the problem by mixing 1/3 of her regular food and 2/3 of the prescription food. She is doing well and her tests earlier this year showed that her condition had not progressed, which was very good news. Dealing with older pets is hard, but educating yourself about the problem and listening to what your vet tells you will help you to make a wise decision about a treatment plan. Good luck!

    • Adrienne Shubin
      December 3, 2018 / 6:58 am

      Hi Mary Ann,

      Bill and I never thought we were cruise material. I thought I would feel trapped or restricted being on a ship and having limited time at each port but it turns out we loved it! I never thought restricted nor did I long to stay somewhere longer. There are places we visited that I would like to return to for a longer stay (love Spain!) but I still felt like our time there during the cruise was enough.
      Oh, and the food…I have to say that was hard. The food was so good and you want to try everything! Towards the end of the cruise, we finally started eating more normally. But at the beginning, we did overeat quite a bit.

      Your info about your dog is so very helpful. Thank you very much! I am wondering why my vet did not bring up the topic of diet to me when he called about her test results. I am calling him this morning. I like your plan of 2/3 kidney care food and 1/3 regular.
      Thank you again! Adrienne

  6. Tori
    December 2, 2018 / 11:21 am

    We are so excited to see you and Dad for Christmas, holidays are definitely a little weird this year. Can’t wait to make new traditions 🙂

    Sorry to hear about our little girl, I’ll be thinking of our Daisy Girl!

    Happy you two had such a wonderful trip, I am looking forward to seeing all the pictures!

    I love you so so much!

    • Adrienne Shubin
      December 3, 2018 / 6:52 am

      Your dad and I are very excited to see you guys too! Maybe we can try to squeeze in a French Fry Candy night while you’re here.
      Daisy will be thrilled to see you.
      Love you lots and am so proud of you! xoxox

  7. Karen Arnold
    December 3, 2018 / 3:53 am

    As an empty nester, I find encouragement in your upbeat attitude about changes in holiday traditions. I have enjoyed your blog and Instagram posts so much. I hope Daisy is stabilized on the new medicine. Best wishes for a happy Christmas season!

    • Adrienne Shubin
      December 3, 2018 / 6:51 am

      Hi Karen,
      So lovely to hear from you! We are doing our best to be cheery this holiday season. We always turn our holiday lights on – even the Christmas tree first thing in the morning. And Bill loves to play holiday music, which I like right now but ask me again in about 2 weeks
      Things haven’t changed much since Daisy started her meds but maybe it takes a bit to kick in. I am calling the vet today to find out about diet. Another commenter left some valuable info about that. I am feeling much more hopeful today than I did when I got the news last week.
      I hope all is well with you! A very happy holiday to you as well! Adrienne

  8. December 3, 2018 / 1:02 pm

    🙂 Dear Adrienne,
    your trip sounds wonderful and I’m looking forward to reading and seeing more of it.
    Enjoy your new kind of Holidays and have a HAPPY week!
    Claudia 🙂

  9. mm
    December 4, 2018 / 3:07 pm

    Two things…

    If you don’t mind, could you please share specifically why you liked the cruise? I’ve always purposefully avoided cruises. They sound horrible to me. I’ve traveled a lot (over 45 countries) and for long periods of time, so I do love travel. I’ve never had a desire to be on a colossal ship with that many people, to stuff myself with that much food, and to spend just 1 frantic day in cities that I’d normally visit for a few days or a week. And often when I’m visiting somewhere, the cruise ports are in the ugliest, busiest, most tourist-filled spots. But, I’m open to learning why I’m wrong!

    Second, do tons of research about kidney disease in dogs! There’s lots you can do to keep your sweet dog alive (and healthy) longer. At this point I know a ton about kidney disease in cats. Here’s what I think translates to dogs:
    – Cerenia is great for nausea. Mirtazapine is a miracle drug for appetite. I use half (or less of the dose my vet suggested or it can make the animal nutty). Pepcid AC original formula can also be used if needed for vomiting and nausea.
    – It helps the animals to have subcutaneous fluids. You can buy the bags and needles very affordably through online pet pharmacies or through human pharmacies. It’s easy to learn to do it yourself at home – I promise! A vet tech at your vet office can show you how. I’ve been doing it every other day for over a year for my pet.
    – There are assorted supplements that may or may not help. I use them for my cat just in case. Check out Azodyl, which you feed with food. Kidney Gold is also supposed to be good, and I use it.
    – Once your dogs phosphorus levels get high (above a 5 or 6 for cats), you must use a phosphorus binder in your dog’s food. Phosphorus, which is in all pet foods, is the main cause of stress on failing kidneys. Phosphorus binder is mixed into food and binds to some of the phosphorus to prevent it from being digested. I use Phos-Bind from Amazon. Get specific instructions from a vet, and you might not need it yet.
    – Some people use prescription kidney food, but some don’t because the ingredients are not as high quality as good brands of pet food. I use prescription about 20% of the time. In terms of other food, you need to do research into the phosphorus levels of food! It varies greatly by brand and each flavor within the brand. There are a few resources online that list most brands of cat food along with all the phosphorus levels. I assume this info is also out there for dog food. Identify high-quality (real meat) dog foods that are low in phosphorus and use those! You can also make your own foods or use raw (again, phos levels vary among brands). This is key! Switch foods now to ones that are low in phosphorus.
    – Water is also key to flushing the kidneys. Make sure doggy is drinking enough. I mix extra water into my pet’s wet food to help.
    – Try to identity several foods that your dog likes and that meet the criteria above (high quality, low in phos) and rotate what you feed each day or as you see fit. A vet explained to me that the kidney failure causes nausea, which the animal can wrongly attribute to the food they are eating, so they might stop eating the food. If you rotate foods, this is less likely to happen. I stockpile over 20 types of canned food, but this may be overboard!
    – Only feed canned, raw or homemade food. Dry food is dehydrating, which is the opposite of what you want.

    Good luck! Animals can live a long time with kidney failure if it’s treated properly. It used to be seen as a death sentence, but it’s not!!!

    • Adrienne Shubin
      December 4, 2018 / 3:41 pm

      Hi there,

      Thank you for your comment – especially in regards to kidney health. I am just beginning to educate myself about kidney disease. It’s pretty complex! I spoke to my vet yesterday and he seemed luke warm about Daisy going on a special diet for kidney disease. I figure I will give it a go and see if it helps. Her appetite is over the top the last week or so. She wants to eat around the clock and will get very upset with us if we don’t give in – barking at us and following us around the house. We do usually give in but only with a small amount of food between breakfast and dinner.
      I am going to convert her over from dry food to wet – gradually, so as to not upset her digestion. And combine kidney food with some other wet food. I never deny her water. She has been sleeping with a diaper for years due to developing incontinence at 12 so I don’t mind her guzzling H2O.
      I will look into those supplements you mentioned and discuss with my vet. I was told yesterday by my vet that she also has something going on with her pancreas, blood results show. He couldn’t tell me what, exactly, but there may be another issue creeping up.
      As far as cruising goes, compared to you, I am not a seasoned traveler at all. I have been to Europe 7 or 8 times and that’s about it. I loved traveling by ship mostly because our cruise line was so very luxurious and not too big either – only has 375 guest rooms. We loved our ship so much, we almost didn’t want to leave it when it arrived in a port.
      I agree that more often than not, the port city is not the main attraction. Messina, for example, is not very interesting and didn’t have many attractions. However, our cruise line offered a variety of excursions for passengers to choose from – most included in your fare – if you wanted to go to Taormina or some other town or landmark. We didn’t feel like spending all day exploring and preferred to have lunch and walk around Messina for a few hours but mostly we just enjoyed the ship that day.
      I will be writing a blog post about why I enjoy cruising soon. I loved meeting new people on the ship, not having to pack and unpack and catch trains and such, waking up somewhere new every morning and the all-inclusive pricing. Our cruise included Business Class air which was such a treat. And the crew really spoiled us rotten! It was all very stress-free. And yes, I did eat too much, mainly the first few days then I calmed down on the food thing later on.
      Thank you again for all the info about the kidney health. It is very much appreciated!

      • mm
        December 4, 2018 / 4:03 pm

        Thank you for responding! To the extent you’re comfortable, would you also share the financial info of the cruise and whether you discovered any ways to find discounted tickets? A higher-end cruise does sound a little better than regular cruises, though I wonder if those are super expensive compared to the bargains I see on some cruise websites. Thank you!!

        • Adrienne Shubin
          December 4, 2018 / 4:14 pm

          Our cruise was expensive, I cannot get around that fact. However, Business Class flights (all 4 flights), the fact that everything was included – food, alcohol, pressing of our clothing, entertainment, and there were included excursions at every port (there were also special excursions that were extra) made it worth it to us. We accepted an upgrade offer at the last minute that boosted us up one level to a Penthouse Suite for a very small amount (in comparison to our fares). That gave us a butler, available 24-hours. What a treat that was!
          Here is a link to a cruise similar to ours:
          We didn’t get any discounted tickets but we did get that upgrade and a generous shipboard credit to use at the spa or to go shopping in the on-ship boutiques.
          When we have looked at booking Business Class air from California to Europe in the past, the quotes are about $8000 each. So that alone was a big selling point for us – my husband is 6′ 7″ and I am 6′ 2″ so the legroom at our ages is pretty important on 12 hour journeys. Plus, not having to always find transportation to move from town to town was a money and headache saver too.
          There was a documentary done about our ship that aired on NOVA/PBS last year – if you can’t find it on PBS, it’s also on Netflix :
          It’s called “Ultimate Cruise Ship”

      • mm
        December 4, 2018 / 4:08 pm

        Oh! And one more thought… do consider if it’s worth visiting another vet as well. Some vets are great about kidney failure and understand that there are many ways to delay its onset, and others act like it’s a death sentence. I’ve found a range of responses. I also finally paid to see an internal medicine doctor who specializes in kidney issues (someone at a fancy animal hospital and animal ER, not a regular vet), and I found that worth the money as well. He clearly knew a lot more than the average vet and sorted through all the things I was doing with a full explanation of blood work results and ways to respond to the disease’s current phase.

        • Adrienne Shubin
          December 4, 2018 / 4:17 pm

          Thank you for that idea. I did notice a tone in both my vets’ voices/attitudes that said to me “why bother? She’s old!” which led me to believe it was hopeless. I have a friend who used to be a vet tech and has several animals of her own – she will know of some people to talk to in our area.
          Thank you again!

          • mm
            December 10, 2018 / 6:05 pm

            Hi again! I went to the ship’s website and I watched the NOVA documentary. Interesting! Didn’t realize it would be so detailed about the creation and engineering of the ship. Anyway… I’ve been thinking about cruise vacations since you wrote this, which leads me to one more question I’m hoping you’ll answer.

            Now that you’ve had this cruise experience and loved it, would you take additional “regular”/less fancy cruises? Do you think you’d generally like cruises? Even super affordable cruises that have cheap prices on bargain travel sites? Or do you think that your love of this trip is limited to this particular high-end experience – super fancy boat, nice room, butler, fewer other guests, better-than-usual food, etc?
            Thank you!

          • Adrienne Shubin
            December 11, 2018 / 7:26 am

            Hi there –

            That is a good question and one I have asked myself. I want to try other lines to see what they’re like. I admit the things I liked the most about Regent centered on its luxuriousness, great food, and superior customer service. But I also liked the convenience of packing and unpacking once, waking up somewhere new every morning and meeting new people.
            We want to go on another cruise in 2019 and are talking about an Alaskan cruise. We might choose Regent or we might try another line. I can’t recall if you said you’ve been on a cruise before or not. If so, do you have a cruise line you like? Or are you looking at any? I am interested in Crystal, Viking and a few others right now.

  10. December 6, 2018 / 8:00 am


    • Adrienne Shubin
      December 6, 2018 / 8:40 am

      My husband ordered the wall mount mirror for me and it’s arriving this week! It will be hard to wait until Christmas to use it!
      I have been working hard on selecting and editing photos for my travel posts. I have thousands! My first blog post about our trip will hopefully be going up today. It was such a fantastic trip. I can’t wait to share it!
      Hope all is well with you and your family!

  11. mm
    December 11, 2018 / 7:50 pm

    Hi again. I’m starting a new comment thread, because there wasn’t a “reply” button for your last response. Maybe the website didn’t anticipate a back-and-forth discussion this long in the comments section!

    I have not been on a cruise before, so unfortunately, I have zero recommendations for you. I have always avoided cruises like the plague, as I can’t stand group travel, and I like to have a long time in places to really get to know and experience them – the thought of visiting major cities or gorgeous beaches/nature for just 1 day sounds awful to me. But, your good experience had me reconsidering things. And if I took a cruise to an area I’ve visited before, maybe it would just be a nice, lazy vacation and I wouldn’t mind the short periods to explore. However, If I did do a cruise, it would probably be an affordable/bargain/sale one, which would be a very different experience from the Regent. Thus, my last question to you about whether you think you’d also enjoy a lower-end cruise.

    I will say that a cruise to Alaska seems like a wise way to travel there since lots of the things one would want to see are on water or the shore anyway.

    • Adrienne Shubin
      December 20, 2018 / 9:03 am

      Hi MM,

      Apologies for taking so long to respond. After a week away visiting my stepson, we returned home to realizing we were way behind in our holiday preparations so I have been off the blog for a bit focusing on that.
      I don’t think my blog template supports a reply thread longer than one reply. Thank you for starting a new one.

      I, too, do not enjoy group travel and have avoided it always. During our cruise we took one group excursion early on and quite liked it. I admit there were some things I did not like about sightseeing in a new place with others, but overall I am glad we went on a tour as we were able to see and do things we’d not normally get to see and do if on our own. When I blog about our time in Mallorca, I will share what I did and did not like about going on an excursion.
      Sometimes, like when we stopped in Livorno, a group tour is the best way to get out of the port city. Once you’ve arrived at your destination, you can often just tell your tour guide you’re going off on your own and confirm the time and place of departure.
      As to your question about taking a lower-end cruise, I would but it would depend on a few things. I would not be interested in a line that focuses on family-type cruises at this point in my life. Maybe in a few years when we have some grandkids I will feel differently. I also don’t want to be on a behemoth cruise ship. Ours had about 750 passengers and 525+ crew. I would look at ships holding up to 2500 passengers but more than that, I would likely pass unless there was something extra special about that ship and its itinerary. That’s why it’s so great to have a travel agent who really knows cruise lines. I asked Adam, our agent, about an Alaskan cruise on a different cruise line and he warned me not to take it because that particular ship is going in for a remodel and once it starts sailing again, there will be ongoing repairs happening while at sea. It’s so helpful to have access to that information.
      Alaska is on our radar for the next cruise. I don’t see myself ever going there another way because, like you mentioned it’s a wise way to travel there since what you want to see is on the water. There is a chance I will be organizing a group for a cruise to Alaska this summer or next – it’s in the works and will be decided in the coming weeks!

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