Tag Archives: music

Writing, IF Maitland and freedom

I thought that when I was granted disability pension, that I would be free from the hassles of looking for work which I couldn’t do anyway, and have more time for me. Well, although the engagements I take to read some of my poetry, memoirs or short stories have been enjoyable, there are many. I barely have time for a cuppa or an afternoon rest. I’m so glad to have been accepted and welcomed into the literary community of the Hunter Valley.

Last weekend I was at the first ever IF (Independent artists Festival) in Maitland. I couldn’t help but fill my day and early evening with Seminars, workshops and readings. I participated in the Open Mic Slam Poetry event in the early evening, before going home to collapse and sleep right through the next day.

20200229_105131I started the day with a hearty farmers breakfast at Maitland Regional Art Gallery (MRAG), where on the lawn outside, a gent was reciting to a young audience some children’s stories and an art installation called Visual Busking was  taking place.

I went then to Sun Street Studios where I was blessed to hear writers of three different genre discuss the process of writing and producing their works. The MC was Karen Crift from the Hunter Writers Centre. The speakers were a music and lyric writer Ricky, who used music as a therapy with disabled and marginalised people at Mai- Well, Michelle Reidy, a writer of short stories and poetry, which she used for therapy and Liz a film script writer as well as working in clay and dance as therapies. The Seminar was entitled Image may contain: possible text that says 'The Power of the Pen & brush!' To of the three writers also used art as therapy. We heard how the writers used their writing not only to convey a message to others but at times the work could be cathartic, healing if you will, to help them get something off their chests and out of their system. I could really relate to this as I do the same. I use writing to express anger and love alike. I generally can write a piece quickly and after a glance and quick edit, I get almost immediate relief from the issue that has been plaguing me. Fiction can be used as a real escape and a safe place to explore an issue outside of self, letting the characters in the story deal with things that we in the real world find difficult to handle.

Sometimes writing is not for others but for an audience of one, yourself. Somethings are not for publication whereas in other cases, our writing could be something that we want to share with the world.

All agreed it was healthy to seek others out who write, as writing can be a very isolating occupation. Being with others in the same occupation can assist you to discover how to improve or do things a little differently.20200229_121809

Artwork to me is like a reward. I don’t really allow myself to do major works until I have accomplished something significant. If there is a challenge which I have finally met and overcome the procrastination bug which is buried deep under my skin, I allow myself to pick up a brush, put some colour on it and throw it at a canvas. It is often something that I cannot express freely in words but find easier to express in a picture. A lot of time I draw wild animals or native birds, just to represent the freedom that they have and that I long for.

The next event at the IF festival was a workshop which was held by Michelle Reidy. It was to further explore writing as a therapy. We discovered what it was to write stream of consciousness. Letting the mind and the pen go where it will. We did exercises where we were given a prompt in the form of a word or picture. It amazed me as to what came from my hand when I am just letting it flow.

From there I went to enjoy refreshments and the Poetry Slam event at the Pourhouse which had some wonderful guest poets including Tug Dumbly. Poets from all ages and genres recited their works which were designed to “comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable” (Banksy).

I’m afraid I was unable to stay for the whole session and had to admit defeat. The mind was full of new ideas and and story lines I would like to run with, but the body was weary and so I succumbed to the need for rest and the land of dreams

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Barricade. Weekend writing prompt 135

We ran through the streets, trying to escape the angry crowd behind us. We weren’t the cause of their anger, but we were certainly caught up in their wrath.

Let me explain. We were given 30 free all access tickets to a “Dead Black Frog” concert. They were legit tickets I swear. Too many tickets for just Stretch and me, so we went to the Sick Lizard bar and sold the free tickets.

We got in early but the guys from the bar came in a bit later and were drunk or stoned or both. The Bouncer and Roadies kicked all of us out. That’s when the chase started and ended at the wire-topped fence. A barricade that couldn’t easily be overcome.

The nurses and doctors just shook their heads as they dressed our many wounds.

Image result for nurse dressing wounds

 

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Take a look: Poetry reading and Cello music in Brett Whiteley’s Studio. (with a footnote on alchemy and purity)

On Sunday this week, I attended a poetry reading “Take a Look” at the Brett Whiteley Studios. The poet was Peter Boyle, who has  books of poetry published, has won numerous awards for his poetry and has translated poetry works from Spanish and French. 20191103_141151[1]

Many of the poems resonated with the love he felt for his late wife, Deborah Bird Rose, who passed late last year. It was obvious to all present just how in love this man was… or is. Others spoke of his experiences in the world of art, literature and travel.

Accompanying Peter was a solo Cellist Christina Christensen, who with her cello managed to convey emotions only found when one is in meditative quiet. I remember she played a piece which she wrote called Lost Dreams, I think. Deep deep notes echoed regret, sorrow and sad contemplation. But just when you would have let out a sigh of empathic understanding, the last few notes were higher, faster, and finished with a flurry which left me feeling that the dreams had not been lost forever, that there was indeed hope.20191103_141739[1]

Lost Dreams touched me deeply and inspired me to write a poetry piece of my own.

The Death of Dreams

Too late.

Why did we wait

Life caught us up in the trap

of want more, need more

until at last

we are now time poor

We could have done

so much more.

Too late.

You grieving already,

Me being at deaths door.

The dreams are gone

But memories can live forever.

 

Contemplating death, and those dying, who have given up hope, I believe you can tell. The glimmer leaves the eyes. The love for a partner, once so intense, while still there speaks from an apologetic place. Sorry I am so much trouble. Sorry I will be leaving you alone, that I am causing you sorrow. Related image

Having cancer now has made me confront my own mortality. While having a full life, I can’t echo Frank Sinatra when he says, “Regrets, I have a few, but then again too few to mention.” My regrets are many. There are things in my life that I am certainly not proud of, and if I could have my life over, it would be so much different.

But I don’t live in the land of “shoulda, woulda, coulda”. I can only ensure that the future is different from the past.

Oskar Schindler:
“I could have gotten one more person… and I didn’t! And I… I didn’t!”

I live my life now as I should. I think it was the apostle Paul who said: “Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands” 1 Thessalonians 4:11. And that’s how I shall live till I pass.

sorry its morbid.

Dave

footnote: I again looked at Brett Whiteley’s Alchemy now in a new light. Alchemy. Typical Alchemists would take a mineral and hope to turn it into gold, for one example. To take something ordinary, worth little, and to make it into something priceless. Brett Whiteley’s Alchemy starts with birth, the act of conceiving, then becoming born. through the panels we can track life’s experiences. Brett’s explorations of science, religion, drugs and art, literature. He ends it on a background of pure white, with gold representing, as I have written before the ultimate sacrifice for art, for purity. It was this purity that Brett Whiteley considered most valuable of all. Thank you Brett for continually speaking to us, even though you have been dead for decades.

Dave

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He said, She said.

My latest poem after yet another star was accused of inappropriate behaviour, and  is now condemned before trial

He said

She said

But if she said, then what he said is moot.

Kill the Artist, Burn the Art.

Fat Albert rode six white boomers

across Parramatta Park while

two little boys played with their two little toys and looked on.

Don’t graduate The Graduate.

Let’s beat up Rocky, knock down the House of Cards

And not listen to music ever again.

It’s a thriller that I’m Bad

Rewrite History

He never existed, never was.

What happens to her if we scrub him from existence.

Nothing really happened.

Guilty! Rot in Gaol

Innocent, live in the gaol of your already condemned life.

Never the same again.

Hush! Don’t mention it.

Keep Silent.

Die

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Judith Wright Poems

Judith Wright was a poet with insights into indigenous people and nature. She told of patterns in life, and in Australia. She and Patrick White both saw patterns. I wonder if they would have got on well together, if anybody could indeed keep White as a friend.

In Five Senses, we see that all five senses are equally important. They create a rhythm, a pattern. Apart, sometimes we can not make sense of what we see, what we hear, or smell or feel. But together they dance. The senses working together create a pattern, which, when followed, can enhance a persons life, make them whole.

Like the world or community. When we are fragmented we are only a part of a whole, incomplete. Sure we can make our own music, but the symphony comes when all instruments work together, playing the same tune.

Judith says :”pattern sprung from nothing-
a rhythm that dances
and is not mine”.  The pattern or Rhythm of life was there before, it was only now that Judith has recognised it for what it is. By saying “It is not mine” acknowledges that the Rhythm comes from outside the body, but is implanted within us, perhaps that Rhythm of life is from God.

Now my five senses
gather into a meaning
all acts, all presences;
and as a lily gathers
the elements together,
in me this dark and shining,
that stillness and that moving,
these shapes that spring from nothing,
become a rhythm that dances,
a pure design.

While I’m in my five senses
they send me spinning
all sounds and silences,
all shape and colour
as thread for that weaver,
whose web within me growing
follows beyond my knowing
some pattern sprung from nothing-
a rhythm that dances
and is not mine.

 

Legend – Poem by Judith Wright

The blacksmith’s boy went out with a rifle
and a black dog running behind.
Cobwebs snatched at his feet,
rivers hindered him,
thorn branches caught at his eyes to make him blind
and the sky turned into an unlucky opal,
but he didn’t mind.
I can break branches, I can swim rivers, I can stare out
any spider I meet,
said he to his dog and his rifle.

The blacksmith’s boy went over the paddocks
with his old black hat on his head.
Mountains jumped in his way,
rocks rolled down on him,
and the old crow cried, You’ll soon be dead.
And the rain came down like mattocks.
But he only said,
I can climb mountains, I can dodge rocks, I can shoot an old crow any day,
and he went on over the paddocks.

When he came to the end of the day, the sun began falling,
Up came the night ready to swallow him,
like the barrel of a gun,
like an old black hat,
like a black dog hungry to follow him.
Then the pigeon, the magpie and the dove began wailing
and the grass lay down to pillow him.
His rifle broke, his hat blew away and his dog was gone and the sun was falling.

But in front of the night, the rainbow stood on the mountain,
just as his heart foretold.
He ran like a hare,
he climbed like a fox;
he caught it in his hands, the colours and the cold –
like a bar of ice, like the column of a fountain,
like a ring of gold.
The pigeon, the magpie and the dove flew up to stare,
and the grass stood up again on the mountain.

The blacksmith’s boy hung the rainbow on his shoulder
instead of his broken gun.
Lizards ran out to see, snakes made way for him,
and the rainbow shone as brightly as the sun.
All the world said, Nobody is braver, nobody is bolder,
nobody else has done
anything equal to it. He went home as easy as could be
with the swinging rainbow on his shoulder.

When I first read this poem, I thought that the Blacksmiths boy was perhaps a gay boy who knew that he could do anything he put his mind to. He could conquer everything put in his way. I got the idea that he was gay from the line “The blacksmith’s boy hung the rainbow on his shoulder”. However, the rainbow wasn’t adopted by the gay community until the late 70’s. Even though it is possible that this poem was written after that period, there is no proof of that. I thought that perhaps putting the rainbow on his shoulder, and the rainbow shone brightly was alluding to gay pride. But equally it could be talking about proud to be an aborigine, proud to be who you are and showing the world. The blacksmiths boy was a violent masculine boy, but he exchanged his gun for a rainbow and became peaceful. Perhaps we all need a little rainbow in our lives.Hmm perhaps this one will take further research and analysis.
Dave
footnote. When searching for an image to go with this poem, I found the one below It makes sense, even in the Judith Wright poem. I wonder if Wright was influenced by this quote by Dickens…definitely needs more research.
Image result for blacksmiths boy

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Sally Morgan’s Nan and bush remedies

The chapter entitled “Growing Up”  in Sally Morgan’s biography, “My Place” explains how Sally’s Nan places half onions around the house in order to keep away germs and disease. Sally comes home from High school one day telling her Nan that the science teacher said it was just an old wives tale, and that raw onions don’t do anything to keep disease away.

Image result for cut onions

I decided to research this. It seems that this remedy goes back as far as the 1500’s when many where dying from influenza and the plague. A doctor was doing the rounds of town and each household had members of the family affected by illness…except one. The doctor asked the farmer and his wife what they did differently. The farmers wife explained that she placed onions in the rooms of the house to absorb the germs. When the doctor checked the onions under the microscope, it was found that the onions did in fact absorb the influenza virus. I was amazed.

I looked up other remedies to see what else was being said.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple Cider Vinegar is a product that has recently come under the spotlight as having benefits beyond just being added to salads and other culinary delights. It has been known to have healing properties since as far back as 5,oooBC, The Egyptians were using it as an antiseptic and a weight loss method that long ago.Hippocrates in ancient Greece told his students to prescribe Oxymel, which was a combination of vinegar and honey, to bring up phlegm and make breathing easier. Vinegar is often used as a preservative, It was also used for sterilising wounds and instruments, Apple Cider Vinegar is said to have its healing properties because of its high alkaline properties. Also this product can be used as a preventative. Apple Cider Vinegar is made from fermenting apples, to produce the Cider, then fermenting again to produce the Vinegar. It retains all the nutritional properties of apples themselves, so is packed with vitamins and lots of other good chemicals.

Image result for apple cider vinegar

Gum Leaves

Gum leaves are said to have healing properties when crushed in a bowl and boiling water is used to fill the bowl. Put your head over it, with the obligatory tea towel to keep in the vapors and inhale.

Image result for crushed gum leaves

While we are on Aussie cures and deterrents, it is said that Detol in a spray bottle can kill Cane Toads. Give it a try Queensland!

Other Bush Remedies

In Warrabri, the Northern territory the cure for earache is squeezing the fatty part of a witchetty grub into the sore ear. While in Uluru, the cure is squeezing rabbit urine into the ear.

Image result for witchetty grubs

Emu bush leaves, which were used by Northern Territory Aboriginal tribes to sterilise sores and cuts. The leaves are now being considered by Australian scientists as a viable steriliser for implants.

Tea tree oil is used for many things including an antiseptic and a mouth wash, it can also be used as a tea to soothe sore throats.

Eucalyptus leaves can be infused for body pains and fevers and chills. Today the oil is used commercially in mouthwash, throat lozenges and cough suppressants.

The list goes on and on. While scientists have found that some of these remedies to be false, many have been adopted into modern day civilisations. Its funny, if we just look back into history, we can find that a lot of what was said and done to be true, but its like when the discovery is made by modern man, we seem to claim it as the latest new thing.

Aboriginals like Sally Morgans Nanna used a great many things for the physical healing, but were aware that its not just the body that needs healing. They place a great emphasis in making sure the whole person is well, including emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Dance and song play an important part in the health of a person and of equal importance to having a good diet and exercise.

So people, don’t forget to dance.

further reading on aboriginal cures:  http://www.australiangeographic.com.au/topics/history-culture/2011/02/top-10-aboriginal-bush-medicines/

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Mark Twain: The Somber Side

list-8-things-mark-twain-family-96815927-E

In our American Literature class, we have looked at Mark Twain as a person who can write from Experience and from the heart. He is able to sympathise and identify with the common man. Mark Twain had a family, which is not often written about.

Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) married Olivia Langdon in 1870. ‘Lily’ as she was known was a constant companion for her husband, accompanying him on lecture and book publishing tours. Lily often edited Twain’s work, sometimes somewhat critically.

The couple had 4 children, and while each gave them joy, they also brought heartache. None were without their troubles.hc-pictures-140-anniversary-of-twain-home-20140916

langdon_clemensLangdon Clemens was the first born of the Clemens children. He was the only son. Langdon was born premature in 1870. It was a hard pregnancy for Olivia when she contracted Typhoid fever. While Mark Twain was busy writing witty stories and columns, he spent a lot of his time nursing both Olivia and Langdon. Olivia’s father Jervis died that same year. Langdon got a cold on one of the journeys in April 1871 and died after it developed into diphtheria. He died in 1872 aged just 19 months. Twain blamed himself for his son’s death.

 

 

 

clemenssusy_headstone Second born was Olivia Susan Clemens. Suzy was born in March 1872. She was a happy playful girl who at times became very deep in thought when trying to understand aspects of life and its struggles. While the family was overseas and Suzy at college, she contracted Meningitis and died at age 24.

This is the headstone of Suzy’s grave which is in the Clemens plot in Elmira New York, Composer Dan Forrest was searching for some lyrics to go with a song which he had written for a little girl’s funeral. He found this epitaph in the graveyard close to his home. Dan wrote Good Night Dear Heart from the words of Mark Twain.

220px-Ossip_Gabrilowitsch_&_Clara_ClemensClara was the third of the Clemen’s children. She was born in 1874 and spent most of her early years being home-schooled as she travelled with her father. Clara was sent to boarding school in Berlin for later schooling. The whole family moved to Austria in 1896 so that Clara could study piano. Following her mother’s death in 1905 Clara had a nervous breakdown. in 1909, she married the Russian composer Ossip Gabrilowitsch. Her father died not long after that and Twain did not get to see his only grandchild, Nina who was born not long after. Clara was the only one of the Clemens children to live a long life, and she died aged 88 in 1962.

DSCN0175Jane (or Jean as she was nicknamed) Clemens was born in 1880. When 18 years old, she developed Epilepsy. Twain said of Jean, “There was never a kinder heart than Jean’s”. During her childhood, she gave most of her allowance to charities and had a heart for animals. Jean began two charities for the protection of animals and because of this love, her father had bought her a farm. Jean’s epilepsy was severe at times, causing her to have spells in sanatoriums for her recovery. She was never alone, and a trusted maid accompanied her on shopping trips and helped Jean with her daily needs. On Christmas Day 1909, she had a fit while in the bath and was drowned.

JeanSam6

Twain was heartbroken. “She was all I had left, except Clara, who married Mr. Gabrilowitsch lately, and has just arrived in Europe.” Twain said to gathered journalists on the morning of her death. “My daughter was trimming the tree yesterday and I was helping her,” he said. “She was so anxious that the lads and lassies of the neighborhood should have a tree, so we brought this one in and began to trim it for them. Tomorrow there were to have trooped in to see the tree and to get presents from it”.

 

 

A life full of sorrow and grief. Mark Twain died just 4 months later, in April 1910 of a heart attack in Redding Connecticut. He was buried alongside the others in the family who had passed before in the family plot in Elmira.the-family-plot-of-mark

Apologies with some of the typesetting. I bet Twain never had these problems.

Dave

Some of the websites visited:

http://www.design.caltech.edu/erik/Misc/Twain_eulogy.html

http://www.marktwainhouse.org/man/clemens_family_tree.php

http://www.marktwainhannibal.com/twain/biography/family.shtml

http://www.marktwainonline.com/site/577770/page/924842

http://www.marktwainonline.com/site/577770/page/924743

http://www.twainquotes.com/19091225.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Twain

 

 

 

 

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Spiritual Importance of Dance

In every culture there seems to be an importance placed on music and dance. The music and dance of a culture tells stories of ancestors and events that have happened in the past. Passing on the dance and the song keeps the story alive. One is able to connect with the spiritual aspect of a culture by viewing or participating in the dance of that people.

For the Native American people, it was and still is important to keep the story of the Ghost dance at Wounded Knee in the hearts and minds of the generations to come. This story is similar to the end time prophecies in the bible. All the dead shall no longer be dead but we will be able to dance with them. There will be no more tears and crying, no wounded or sick. People will be happy and will have enough provisions. The buffalo will return, the white man will be no more.

It was the great native American dream. That the land would be restored to them, that the white men would leave and the animals would once again roam on the plains. This is the promise of times to come, not for now. If the native american were to hope for it in this current age, then I am afraid they will be a little disappointed. In fact, the white man has not finished taking land from the natives. President Donald Trump has allowed the Dakota access pipeline to go ahead, encroaching on Sioux land, and potentially poisoning the waterways that give the Sioux nations their drinking water.

For African people, and African American people, the dance is not something that they make up but one that is passed on from generations before. The dance is spiritual, embedded in them from birth. The moves are not new, they are ancient and have meaning.

Related image

Likewise, the Australian Aboriginal people have dance and music as part of their culture. They tell stories of events by portraying animals and other things in nature in the dancing. Literature for the native people groups around the world may not be a written language but a language, with stories, fiction and non-fiction being told in the dance. To the native people of these countries and more, dance is not something for entertainment but to pass on the knowledge of what came before. It is a spiritual connection with nature and with the ancestors.

 

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Patrick White and Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

Ok, I am going to be a bit cheeky here and include this post under both Reading Australia, and American Literature. Why? Because I feel it belongs in both. I believe we can see Emerson, Thoreau and other transcendentalists in Patrick White’s writings. Patrick White was a man who was obsessed with the need for spiritual connection. It is evident in his books and in his life. Is my lecturer going to allow my marrying the two subjects? Paraphrasing Thoreau and Emerson… I am doing it because I believe its the right thing to do, therefore I have confidence in myself and will go on a path that is not often traveled.

In The Tree of Man, Stan Parker is in essence a Christian with ties to a conservative kind of church. He grew up believing in God and the institution of the church, he baptises his kids into the church, he prays and seems to be the spiritual rock of the family; even though he is a man of few words, his conviction is strong. At the end of his life in the book, he has a revelation. He has been striving his whole life for a connection with God, in church, praying and at times cursing a silent God. All that time, God was revealing himself through nature. He is the God in the storm and on the gentle breeze. He is there in good times and bad, even if we cant see it at the time.

Image result for footprints in the sand poem

Patrick White had an epiphany, or a revelation when feeding his dogs one night, and slipping in the mud, that God is everywhere. Before this point, he was searching for a church that was uncompromising in its message, but liberal in its acceptance of people. He was seeking a church that was fervent in sticking to points of scripture that White considered important, while relaxing on the things that didn’t really matter.

I just had an epiphany myself. I have been doing the same thing. As a Gay man, I felt totally rejected by the Christian Church when I came out. Before coming out, I was denying who I was, while in church. I have been striving ever since to find a church that will compromise on the issue of homosexuality, or being accepting of gay people but conservative on other areas of teaching. I can stop searching. I will never find a perfect church, because while it may be perfect for me, it will be imperfect for others, or visa versa.

I believe in the Kingdom Come
Then all the colours will bleed into one
Bleed into one.
But yes, I’m still running.

You broke the bonds
And you loosed the chains
Carried the cross of my shame
Oh my shame, you know I believe it.

But I still haven’t found
What I’m looking for.
But I still haven’t found
What I’m looking for.

 

In the words of U2, I still haven’t found what I am looking for. But you know what, it doesn’t matter. I don’t need a church to justify my belief in God. The church says “follow the leader, follow the rules of those who have gone before. Thoreau says to travel the road less worn, to make your own way. Emerson says to be self – reliant, trusting your gut instinct, your intuition.

For those who are getting caught up in Gay Marriage debates around the world, I say, do not listen to the voices or politics to sway you into voting one way or another. Rely on your gut, and vote your own way no matter how the crowd is swayed. ( sorry to get political).

I hope this post has been informative, and insightful to you, Please leave a comment.

Dave

Each man must walk his own journey. One must not look merely at the teachings of the elders of before but be a leader of our own spiritual journey.

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Red

Prompted by the colour of the backpack, I wrote the following story.

Red, the colour of the scarf that covers the scars on her neck. The scars of a relationship that soured. The scars on her heart take longer to heal.

Red, the colour of the blanket draped around her shoulders, and the soup given to her by the Sallies.

Red is the colour of her father’s eyes, his nose when he drank too much. The colour of his skin when he heard how James had treated her.

Red, the colour of the luscious strawberries that she bought for $1 per kilo in Cairns. She shared them with Bridget and Julian as they sang under the stars and Peter strummed his guitar and drank red wine.

Red, the colour of the shoes that they gave her to wear when she first graced the stage.

Red, the colour of the dress she wore when she accepted the Logie for Best Actress in a Musical.

And red is the colour of the satin sheets she sleeps on tonight, remembering yesterday and dreaming of tomorrow.

171 words. It still fits within the 150 +25… just.

Dave

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