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Jul. 16th, 2015

chookie

Felting

I have returned to my felting  this Winter. I did a felting dyeing and printing workshop at Artery in Warrnambool over two Saturdays then a three day weekend workshop at Beautiful Silks in Allansford with tutor Soomee Kim. Had a great time and it has motivated me to get to NZ for the Felting Convergence in late Sept and to register for Grampians Textile next February, so it is all go on Felting just now. Here are some images from the latest two  workshops showing the dye printed felt using eucalyptus leaves only in with water and old iron horsehoes for the grey look and the jacket/vest which I am doing so blending work with needle felting on at the moment to settle it down a bit.
The vest was made at Beautiful Silks and unfortunately is not yet finished because I had some unwanted "help" when I was at lunch and the colors were changed,the amount of gathered silk the tutor added was too much for the felting process and the whole just too busy in the end, so I am slowly reworking it. It is reversible and the reverse is quieter and more to my preference. The color scheme came from a work I did in collage many years ago and which is still in my studio,I have included it so you get the idea.
The grey /brown are the print dyed felt ,one a scarf and the other I made into an ipad/shoulder bag.
My next project will be hat making as we need to wear different themes each day of the Felting Convergence so I will wear hats.LOL
I have four hat moulds arrived from US and a couple of op shop finds I have hardened to use as moulds. My first hat attempt is the hat at the end which  I felted until it is too small for me....sad.no titlereverse back
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no titleThe bag made from the dyed felt.
no titleI do love the depth and coloration when printing with natural  plants. I am planting a dye garden next.
no titleThe scarf and the felt for the bag.no titleMy Irish hat, fit for a Leprechaun.
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Jul. 3rd, 2015

chookie

Variegated Elderberry

IMG_4390.JPGMaybe this year the Elderberry might produce for me, I planted a Lemon Verbena in the same garden in 2012 along with this Elderberry, and the Lemon Verbena has provided leaves and seeds and needed cutting back a bit, not so much the Elderberry yet.I have yet to add the "Balck Lace vaiety to the garden , a lovely dark burgundy Elderberry with pink flowers ,it is a beauty and one I must add.I have two normal Elderberries as well but both are too young to bear yet. Elderflower Champagne is a very old use for them and one I am keen to try.My Rhubarb Champagne was very successful last year and is still going stong though it does fizz a bit when the cork is popped.Here is a link to the recipe at River cottage, Just love Hugh and his team! https://www.rivercottage.net/recipes/sparkling-elderflower-wine
chookie

salve making

This is my latest batch of salve, again using comfrey and calendula. it has healed a nasty blister on my finger very quickly.
I am finding it hard to type with my arm in the sling but will persist, it helps with the pain in my shoulder if I rest my arm in the sling a few times a day at least.
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Apr. 3rd, 2015

chookie

Skin

New researches needed. Having been diagnosed with several skin cancers iSo I am busy researching herbal remedies and protections for my skin in the future. My face, hands, legs,and back are involved but hopefully the treatment I am currently undergoing will hold or clear all or most of the sarcomas.
Learning to stay out of the sun and use full protection will be a true learning process for me as I am not one to wear hats,gloves etc as I now need to.

My herb garden it fairly comprehensive but I do not yet know what is needed to strengthen and protect skin.
Funny that inner health has been a subject I have studied but not external, except for soaps and salves....perhaps a salve may be needed.
Comfrey,calendula and mullein are already favorites but I Need to learn more !

Oct. 4th, 2014

chookie

Thuja

I have made friends with a Thuja orientalis that grows locally.
Today  I asked if I might take some young shoots to tincture and to make an oil infusion for a salve. The salve is said to be good for warts and other viral infections plus for arthritic pain and muscle strains. I will try it out on my arthritic thumbs and see if it gets a "thumbs up". The young tips are a lighter colour than the older ones and should be used for best effect - according to webmd.The tree I harvested from is about 80 years old & planted by a local nurseryman in about 1939. In a garden that is a treasure trove of plants - why not - when he had first dibs at any new plants, his old glasshouses and  planters still exist and the new owners are tending the garden with devotion and knowledge. Including a PhD in Horticulture - the perfect garden for them. The owners have built a drystone wall in the shape of a question mark around the tree which they tell me can be seen from space - amazing!

The olive oil & Thuja is on the stove in a water bath to gently heat and infuse as I type, and the tincture is already in the dark herb cupboard in it's bed of brandy, where it will stay for at least six weeks before straining & decanting into a dark  bottle. The dose will be 20 drops up to 3 times a day for a cough. It is also said to aid relief from Chemotherapy  and some women's ailments but a cough relief will do me.(thank goodness).
I will make a salve with the oil infusion using bees wax as a setting agent and almond oil for absorbtion as well, I did note that Lobelia can also be added to some effect and I wonder if comfrey would also be a good addition?Perhaps next time.
I just picked a bowl of salad leaves for dinner to have with some lemon pepper infused steamed fish. The leaves included mesclun lettuce, lemon balm tips, young tender raspberry leaf, lemon verbena leaves, baby spinach,oregano tips and Brahmi  with a few calendula petals for colour.My nasturtium are just beginning to shoot so not ready yet for the table and I couldn't find a dandelion either, but they will soon appear for summer salads.
Tomorrow our garden club is off to Purrumbete Homestead Garden for a day in the garden and a picnic lunch - should be lovely day out with great Spring weather on the horizon for tomorrow.

Oct. 3rd, 2014

chookie

Time thunders on

Spring is here already andIMG_4484 a month in no less. The garden looks good with so many bulbs and perennials blooming. Lots more to come in Summer too. I am just digging up a new border along the drive in the front lawn.First remove grass then dig and add mulch, planting so far is  penstemon "black Knight", Rosemary,Viburnum opulus ( Snowball bush") Hollyhock seeds and a few other  self seeders like Nigella and Heartsease.Only the first metre dug thus far and about 4 to go. it will be 3 metres wide by about 6 long when completed. I have been given some Elderberry rooted cuttings so will add these plus lavenders and a couple of rose cuttings that have taken for me. I must admit that this year has been good for getting cuttings to strike, plus lots of  seedlings from the Loquat trees have struck so they go to Garden Club trading table or to Permuculture SW meeting swaps.
Later I will add some  Hazelnuts  and Jostaberries too.I tend to overplant to keep weeds down and let the strongest survive the
Pink Justicia in bloom- lovely shrub.

jungle look.LOL
It has been a cold winter and I have had my open fire burning right up to October this year.Next year I will have gas installed as the wood cutting is now beyond me

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Achillea, Alyssum, Cineraria "silver dust" and Lemon balm under the fig tree combined with ground covers and penstemons the weeds cannot get a foothold and the bees adore them.
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My fish are growing well, but lately a local cat has found the pond- we are at war!

I had a leak in the large pond and had to transfer the fish to the smaller one which made them vulnerable to the cat darn it. Now the pond is fixed and refilled I will transfer them again into the larger pond with more cover.
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Ranunculi from the garden
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My Happy Wanderer wanders over the fence.
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Dahlias bloomed well into Winter this year.
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Clematis Montana Alba climbs  entangled with a red rose- the blue wrens love the thicket of it.
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Spring bulbs in the North border- fairly shaded area.

Jun. 18th, 2014

chookie

Winter Blues

Brr 12 degrees inside right now
, I really know Winter is here. Arthritis is bitings hands and hips ,knees and ankle. Oh well old age has some compensations.....like time...to garden, to read and to play on the computer too.
The past two weeks has seen me harvest the last tomatoes, the first and last pumpkins ( in June- who would have thought!), only eight this year and smaller than last year, but enough if they are keepers.
This will be my last year of wood chopping for the open fire I think.It is becoming increasing hard to get the axe through the logs unfortunately.I am researching costs of LPG Fires but prices scare me and news is that LPG will go higher as the govt exports more gas to China.Good on Ya!!resize_653
I have been  moving some of the Egyptian Walking Onions ( tree onions) as they have 'walked' all over the  vegie bed by now.I am going to move them all down behind the shed where they can spread as much as they like. I haven't yet tried pickling the little top onions  but I use the whole base bulb and little tops in  all my cooking- they can be quite pungent at times so my eyes run like mad when I peel the tiny ones.( which is why I have not yet done enough to pickle!) LOL
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I planted a European Strawberry Tree this week,(Cornus Capitata). The strawberry like fruit look lovely hanging on the tree. This pic is borrowed from the net as the tree is only 2 mtres as yet with only a few fruit on it.I planted it in the front yard where the old sour cherry died ( darn pear & cherry slugs!).
Himalayan strawberry Cornus capitata
I also planted a Pomegranate in the chookyard, this will grow into a bushy tree and give the hens some shade and shelter at ground level. I have just given away all my hens and roosters in order to redevelop my  chookyard with  more fruit trees, a division into two pens down the centre and a netting roof over poly arches.This will hopefully save more fruit from the cockatoos and less stress  when the crows are around for the hens. When I restock I will this time maintain only heritage breeds as was my original plan, but kindly gifts from friends meant I ended with lots of crossbreeds, five roosters and only two laying hens who where in moult plus two pullets not yet laying, so I was feeding 11 for nothing. Now the pen is empty I am  taking their deep litter out of the sheds by the barrowload for the garden and will replace it all with new rice hulls in Spring. The rice hulls make great litter in the pen, loose friable and very warm in winter but cool in summer plus it absorbs all the moisture in their droppings so they have dry litter all the time.I buy a huge bale that fills the back of a ute and I barrow it straight out of the bale( too heavy to lift it!) into the two pens and still have a lot left over for the garden mulch too. It is so easy to shovel around, light and friable.It does need wetting down when mulching with it as it will blow around in the wind otherwise.But it is easy to dig in  to incorporate lots of organic matter into soil too.Worms adore it too!

 I have also used it as kitty litter and then as mulch around trees and ornamentals too.Good stuff! Available at most farm supply places. This pic below shows the rice hulls deep litter in the new  breeding pen.
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Moth eaten pansies - well snail eaten really. I have a plague of snails at the moment, I just  this morning stripped the mini peach of dozens of leaves covered with small snails.I put them into the wet compost bin to drown- no sympathy for snails here, they eat everything. even my pansy flowers!
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I spent a wet day this week sorting out my recipe books- this bookshelf is all recipe books only! The top shelf is all preserving books- probably the most used of all my recipe books.. The shelves on the other wall are my gardening, chook and other animal husbandry books.I really must do some culling of my books but it is hard to part with old friends.                                                                                                                                                           061 (2)
Work in the studio this week has seen me finally finish the rooster pic 'Greeting the Dawn', as I wasn't happy with the lack of contrast in it I repainted the rooster into a Light Sussex and now it looks finished. Also a few retouches on 'Bees love Borage' sees it ready to hang too. Now on the easel is another in the Bees Love series.....this one will be 'Bees Love Fuchsia' , my 'Ballerina' Fuschsia is a picture right now and inspired me to begin this one.I have collaged a background for it and will begin painting as soon as it is warm enough in the studio.I have brought a LP gas heater for the studio but it is not yet installed.That will make a big difference in the large unheated space. Next job is to complete the mosaic work on the three birds for the totem pole and the eggs to go between each bird.I am halfway done with them but have hit a dry spell because it has been so cold my hands are stiff and don't like working with cold wet putty.   No I cannot stand wearing gloves for working.              IMG_4355
The Heuchera has been a good friend in the garden, bugs(snails and slugs) don't eat it, it quietly expands in size and fills a space nicely.It has a lovely burgundy leaf colour with the ruffled edges that catch the eye. It has a pink flower on a long stalk but is ephemeral and lasts only a short time.it is really the lovely leaf form and colour that Heuchera is all about and she does it well.
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Jun. 1st, 2014

chookie

Winter tomorrow.

June will arrive tomorrow and this past week each day has cooled a little to ease us into the idea. What a wonderful Autumn we have had though! May saw most days over 18C and my pumpkins just keep on keeping on, I will now get a reasonable crop where a month ago I thought none would ripen, plus still picking tomostoes too. I have had a couple of fires and my first lot of chestnuts toasted in front of the fire- lovely!
This season I have dried tomatoes, made chutney, sauce and pasta sauce so now the last of the toms are going to friends, chooks and neighbours- I am over them! Must plant less next year. The rhubarb is just closing down for the season and I will have to  separate some of the tubers as it is getting too big and  needs to be reduced.I am sure someone in Garden Club will want a root of it.

Tomatoes in own juice bottled for winter soups and pasta.
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jerusalem-artichokes-2
I watched a Youtube video this morning on the uses of Yarrow but they said not to use colored varieties just the white one and mine are pink/reds so will have to add white to my collection it seems. Yarrow is said to be good for amny health uses from  fever, bleeding and pain to coughs and cramps. Used as a tincture or tea or dried and powdered and placed on a cut as a styptic it will reduce bleeding fast.Can also be placed in nasal passage to  stop a nose bleed they say.

I also watched a segment on Jerusalem Artichokes and was pleased to hear that the cause of 'wind' after eating artichokes can be reduced by long slow cooking for at least 24 hours as the time and cooking process changes the inulin (indigestible for humans) in the chokes to more digestible sugars(in the process making them sweeter too!)> Some also say that  high temp frying as in chipos will replace the inulin with sugars too. Twice cooking too( boil then fry). It is a pity this staple has this gassy problem ( some call them Fartichokes!) LOL, because they grow easily are great food for Diabetics and contain more iron than red meat.
The jerusalem Artichoke is also known in USA as Sunchoke. American Indians used to grow them and named them Sunroot which imho works best as nomenclature as they are not Artichokes at all and are related to Sunflowers.
I sun-choke

I have been busy propagating fuchsias, roses, tree onions, Hydrangea and Loquat trees for the Garden Club trading table.
My potting table. Cuttings potted up for Garden Club and increasing in the garden. May2013 064
Hazelnut and Raspberry torte. I made this dessert from a recipe in Gardening Australia magazine, I picked up an old one in the op shop and liked the look of this recipe.It was delicious. My raspberry crop was poor this year but I picked a few each day and froze them until I had enough.
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I made this little pinchushion with some felt I had made some time ago and never used for anything.This was another pin cushion inspired by the handmade swap at DTE earlier this year.I seem to be stuck on pincushions since making the first one.But each has been different.IMG_4553
Here's another I did in a tiny urn I never used as a vase though now I can see it would be good with a posy of violetsin it.My Gran loved violets and often had some in a small vase beside her bed but didn't have a lot of success growing them under the apricot tree I remember.
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Today I need to get myself moving to prepare to host Garden Club.Afternoon tea will not cook itself!.

Apr. 22nd, 2014

chookie

Herbs,syrup and Hawthorn

Well life gets in the way again and weeks have passed unnoticed here. I have not been idle though. I have now finished my  preserving for the year except perhaps for some figs when they ripen ( if I can beat the birds to them). Last week I bottled another dozen  bottles of apples, made some quince and ginger and crabapple jelly.Yesterday I made some Hawthorn syrup for winter, i will use it like honey on my morning oatmeal. This first pic is the Hawthorn berries about to be simmered. After cooking for 40 mins I strained them, added sugar and recooked for about 30 mins then bottled the syrup.
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Hawthorn syrup bottled in jars to allow for the fact that it can thicken on standing,(Hawthorn contains much pectin which can set  the liquid)  so smaller necked bottles may not be successful- though I did one to see what happens with the final pour as it wasn't enough for a larger jar. It has a little ginger added for flavour and a bit of 'kick'.
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I also restrained the Hawthorn tincture  that was infusing in the brandy from last month. It is now ready to use - a teaspoon a day will assist with the hearts circulation.
resize_116Hawthorn tincture in brandy being strained. Note how the berries have lost all the red colour but are now a much thicker tincture.
I also took a few pictures of the garden in the late afternoon light. The first (below) shows the pumpkins and beans  grown to the top of the arch.

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A close up of the beans dangling through the arch for easy picking.This climbing bean is called Lazy Housewife and has been prolific.I have frozen over 3kg before this pic was taken and it  still has more beans coming.I will now let some dry on the vine for haricot beans.
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The Autumn is being kind to the garden and Salvias and Penstemons bloom on.
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Bottled apples and applesauce for an entire year ahead. Always good to have in the pantry.
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Butter beans growing well but a few weeks off harvest yet. Potatoes in the background being eaten by a zillion snails but the crop has been good and so many more yet to dig,
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oregano in flower
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Chantenay Carrot seed drying off for next years plantings.And some for Garden Club trading table too.
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Love the afternoon light in the trees.This is looking towards the chook pen  with the big Oak tree in the background, peach centre on the fence and a pistachio with red tips just beginning to head skywards after two years thinking about it. The low raised bed of strawberries is from a  buy at a charity auction I went to.Only $5.00 and I had a hardwood raised bed with hinged corners so it folded into the car.Once home, I immediately planted it up with strawberries and carrot seeds in between for luck. Note the Borage leaning over for a look at the strawberries.I believe they like to grow in proximity- time will tell.
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This final pictures is from my bargain of the month. Lifeline had an Easter Bookfair and on Sunday I drove over for a look ( love my books!). Well they had books of every conceivable subject and interest there and  as it was later in Easter they marked down the already low prices even lower, so I ended up with 18 books for $26.00 and some were good Herb books I didn't have ! YAY. Some preserving and edible gift making, one on soap and fragrances.This one by Levy is interesting in that she often quotes Middle Eastern herbalists and lives in that region herself- which is a new perspective for me to learn about.resize_099
resize_096Some art and some wine books all added up to lots of winter reading for me. The top one is another on preserving with some nice recipes for me to try out next season.The Pizzey Bird Garden book is for a friend who plants only for birds and has a lovely overgrown bird garden and at 87 she still maintains it herself.
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While out on the town buying books(mostly) I added three more Fuchsias to my collection and some potting mix and a few bags of manure for the new garden beds,so it was a great day out for me.Now I am off for a quiet read----hmm which one I wonder??? The nights are drawing in and becoming cooler so soon I will be lighting my open fire in the evenings- toasting my toes and chestnuts by the fire with a good book- what could be better? Winter will be soon be here but another month of Autumn to enjoy first.
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Apr. 3rd, 2014

chookie

Quinces crabapples and cement

Today has been a great day! I received a phone call from a local school that I have won the Easter raffle.Tomorrow I get to pick up a basket of goodies for Easter.Never won anything so am stoked.
I spent this morning doing the quince and crab apple jelly and decided to add some ginger to half the jars as I poured it.I do love my ginger. Lovely colour. Some of the ginger sunk to the bottom but I didn't want to stir and add bubbles so it can stay there. Had some on bread for lunch too. That small bowl is an original signed Boyd one of two I enjoy using and thinking about that talented Boyd family.
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I planted my  Ranunculi bulbs after lunch along with six Hyacinth bulbs I brought at the Garden Show last week. I am so enjoying Autumn in the garden, cooler days mean time to garden.
I have planted mopst of my winter veg now.Not planting broad beans this year as I still have some in the freezer from last year. Butter beans will be picking in a few weeks I think. celery looking good too.garlic and onions are up and kale seems to have settled into it's new home.
I planted a camellia named Paradise Sarah in the driveway bed.Sarah is my eldest granddaughter so I had to have it. It is in bud now so should give me a show of flowers soon.
I have taken slips of Rosemary cuttings and potted them up, they will either be used as a border or go to Garden club trading table. I will try the lavender next but not confident of that one, I have never yet been able to strike it yet I know many people have no problem at all.

I now have seven arches in my garden and two curved walls of reo to grown vines on.I am happily collecting clematis to grow up them at the moment. One curve is around the big water tank but set forward about a foot so the plants can twine around it and keep the tank cool, the other is used as a windbreak for the driveway border as the wind howls down the drive and burns the sensitive plants in the bed there. I have planted a climbing rose and a clematis on that one and also a camellia to  espalier onto the curve.
I have struck cuttings of Jostaberry and currants so will have plenty more of those to plant. Plenty of raspberry canes  coming up to transplant too, they are real travellers. Still having little luck with passionfruit, the darn snails and slugs love to eat the bark and they die off at ground level. I have planted a second plum tree in the chookyard so they will have almost full shade when all the fruit trees grow. At the moment they have about half shade from the apples and the oak tree. Their pen is completely shaded by the oak.
This is some plum jelly I made recently, I had a dozen tiny wee jars so decided to fill them- cute huh?
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From this to this. After taking part in the DTE Repurposing swap where I made a pin cushion from an old doiley and an egg cooker,I decided to re-look at things to see what I could use to make  one for myself.I had this little pewter urn sitting lonely on a shlef  so I turned it into a pincushion to sit on the  sewing table.

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In case  anyone is wondering what an egg cooker pincushion looks like here it is- it wasn't on the DTE pics so no one has seen it yet. The silly net has downloaded the pics backwards so you see finished first but you get the idea. I felt quite clever to think of re-purposing this egg cooker which had sat in my cupboard for eons and never ever been used,The re-purposed doiley was an antique one from a fancy work basket of goodies I brought at a clearing sale and the fabric from an old old summer dress. The pincushion now has a home with Robyn Louise in NSW and in her swap she sent me a lovely handmade hot pad with CHOOKS on it and a needlecase which I am using for my felting needles, plus the bonus of a lovely handmade gift tag. Love swaps.
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My hands are pretty dry right now as I put the first coat of putty on the bird totems and one one I began to mosaic it and on the other I rolled it in broken  screen glass so it will catch the light outside.They are both still wet so will take pics later when I can move them. I need to go use some salve on my hands to moisturise them, i do hate rubber gloves but I should have worn them.
Yummy Swaps from Robyn Louise.
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And finally my chilli so happy  on the verandah. I picked lots for chilli plum sauce and it is still fruiting.
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