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The Mount… grounds.

 

As lovely as the house was, I almost enjoyed strolling the grounds more.

That being said, we really don’t stroll enough these days. There’s a distinct lack of strolling going on and it probably explains a lot. One should never underestimate the benefits of a good stroll…

Alligator optional.

 

 

You exit the dining room onto a huge stone porch which was turned into a little cafe.

 

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Sorry food picture people, they had stopped serving lunch by the time we arrived. But the view was pretty sweet even with a growling stomach.

 

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Talk about a nice spot for your morning coffee…

 

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Ole Edith knew her stuff when it came to landscaping as well.

 

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I can’t imagine how long it takes to keep those shrubs trimmed.

 

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And this was just the porch area.

 

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We strolled, and I still hadn’t gotten far enough away to get a nice shot of the house.

 

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But the trees?

 

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Oh, good Lord…

The trees!

 

 

They were beautiful!

 

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I couldn’t stop photographing those.

 

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Absolutely magnificent from every angle.

 

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I love me some trees.

 

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Again, the house photo alluded me.

 

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But the grounds were lovely.

 

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And finally…

 

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The strolling paid off.

 

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And I got the money shot.

 

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The Mount.

 

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In all her glory.

 

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There were more gardens…

 

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And grounds…

 

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And wooded paths…

 

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And shots of the house…

 

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Some in better focus than others.

 

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(Note – do not shoot selfies straight into the sun.)

But it was near closing time and we had to say goodbye to the trees.

*Sob*

 

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On the walk back to the car we did see one more piece of modern art for the husband to puzzle over…

 

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$18,000 if you’re interested.

 

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Then it was the stables…

 

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Heck, they were beautiful.

I’d live there.

 

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And we were done.

 

qwe

 

Until the vacation next post…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Mount…. house.

 

No, not a house where you mount.

 

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The house is named the Mount.

Why? According to Edith Wharton –

“On a slope over-looking the dark waters and densely wooded shore of Laurel Lake we built a spacious and dignified house, to which we gave the name of my great-grandfather’s place, the Mount…There for ten years I lived and gardened and wrote contentedly…”

It’s very hard to get a picture from the front, because it looks more like the back and there’s a large wall surrounding the courtyard.

 

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We entered and poked around for a bit while waiting for the guided tour.

 

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Basically, if you don’t take the tour all you’ll see is the kitchen.

 

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Which was quite small considering the size of the house. Not that ole Edith ever did any cooking. It was said she only stepped foot in there 2 or 3 times.

 

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The tour began upstairs, which was considered the first floor even though it’s the second.

 

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Rich people, what do they know?

 

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(Note- trying to get pictures with no one in them is a challenge on old house tours. Upstairs photo number 1? Fail.)

At the top of the stairs you entered a long grand hallway with imported Italian marble floors, which is where you stayed until the butler decided you were important enough to enter. (The chairs were for us to sit in while the docent gave a lecture. Edith would have made you stand.)

 

 

Edith designed the house herself with the help an architect friend, which was quite unusual in those days.

 

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Sadly none of the furniture is original. Edith moved to Europe later in life and took everything with her. The pieces you see have been deemed proper to the period and donated by antique dealers or on loan from historical societies.

 

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It was a large, but livable home.

 

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With a small, informal circular dining table. Edith hated long halls that seated 40 people. She wanted to talk to her guests.

 

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Please note the elaborate plaster work. It was amazing, and totally restored after the house was bought by the state.

 

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From 1942 to 1976 the house was turned into a private school for girls.

 

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Can you imagine bunking here as teenagers?

 

 

So ends the interior portion of the tour.

 

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Up next?

 

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The grounds and gardens.

 

 

You’re welcome.

 

 

The Mount.

 

Bet that title has you wondering where I’m going with this…

 

 

No worries, it’s just Edith Wharton’s summer home in Lenox, Massachusetts.

 

 

You remember Edith? Forward thinking, independent, free spirited author of The Age of Innocence and Ethan Frome, among others. She was the first woman to win a Pulitzer Prize for literature in 1921, and quite an interesting ole broad by the look of her photos.

 

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Not just any woman can pull off a matching set of canine earrings you know.

Entering the estate from the road, you can’t see much.

 

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And as we walked down the path I thought I spotted the house.

 

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It was large, but rather plain.

Which makes sense, considering it was the stables.

Moving on down the lane to the actual house, we started passing large installations of modern art.

 

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I thought they were wonderful.

 

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My husband was just wondering what they hell they were.

It got to be a running joke as we walked.

 

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Modern art…

 

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WTF look.

 

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Modern art…

 

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WTF look.

You get the idea. It was priceless… and I was enjoying myself immensely at his expense. (We’ve been married for 34 years, it’s what you do.)

And it got even better after we ran into another couple who had picked up the brochure and told us the pieces were for sale. Well, then I really had a good time imagining where in our yard we could place the treasures.

 

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I thought these dudes would look great clustered around the apple trees. The husband was not amused.

But even he got in on the fun when he saw this one…

 

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Yeah.

 

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A definite WTF considering they wanted $12,000 for it.

 

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I tried to tell him it would be great when his family visited….

 

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But even after trying it out, he couldn’t be persuaded.

 

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And considering the crazy prices of these things, I had to squawk when he walked through the next one and almost crushed it under foot.

 

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What?

You don’t see it…?

Look again.

 

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Because doesn’t everyone need a porcelain mushroom on a stick?

A bargain at $2,500.

 

 

As we neared the Mount there was only one left, and I totally wanted it.

 

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I mean, I really did.

 

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A giant Trojan Cowbird on wheels!

Who wouldn’t want him?

I was in love!

 

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And as I was figuring how much I could get for my car, I noticed the sold sign.

 

 

A day late, and $18,000 short.

That’s me.

 

 

Chesterwood, Part 2

 

 

 

Yes, part 2.

Suck it up Buttercup and read on.

 

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Chesterwood house, Daniel French’s summer home in the Berkshires.

It’s said that his wife found this piece of property, fell in love with the mountain view and told him… you must build me a house here.

 

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So he did.

 

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And added various porches to take full advantage.

 

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Of course the porches had sculptures.

 

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Which were pretty wonderful.

 

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The interior of the house was comfortable…

 

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And not overly grand.

 

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With hand painted wall paper imported from France….

 

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Giving the illusion of being surrounded by nature while indoors.

I might have just potted a fern, but whatever.

 

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Most of the beds were tall…

 

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Which could be a difficult climb after a few too many at dinner.

 

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But you could always spend the night on one of the porches.

 

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There were certainly enough of them.

 

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Some more heavily decorated than others.

 

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I think I could do morning tea here quite nicely …

 

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Yes, I could.

 

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Evening cocktails?

Cheers.

 

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Chesterwood.

 

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So I took a few pictures.

Okay, I took 1,348…. the term “a few” is clearly relative.

When I go on vacation it’s digitally preserved, each and every last detail. Because someday when I’m old and grey and drooling in the nursing home, I’ll look back fondly and remember the good times.

For now… you lot can be my bored neighbors, forced to sit through the slideshow.

Grab the popcorn…. (Or martini, you may need it. We’re talking every last detail.)

Let’s begin!

The Berkshires, in Western Massachusetts.

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It took us about 5 1/2 hours to get there and the fall color was a total bust. Drab, tired and basically non existent. Disappointing, but hey… Mother Nature is a fickle b*tch.

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Although she did give us a rainbow as we neared our resort, so all was not lost.

(Note – I tend to take a lot of shots through the window while my husband is flying down the road at 85 mph so forgive the quality now and then)

We stayed at one of our timeshare affiliates in Hancock called Vacation Village. We’d never been there before so we had our fingers crossed.

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We were pleasantly surprised with the location as it was off the beaten path and literally up the side of a mountain.

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I mean the flippin’ driveway itself went on miles.

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The lobby/ reception area was nice….

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And there was a giant sheep staring me down from the garden.

What more could you ask?

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I requested and got a top floor in a quiet building away from the crowds.

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Last unit on the left before you descend the hill was just fine with us.

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The condo itself was smaller than we’re used to.

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And a trifle outdated…

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But the bed was comfortable, the bathroom large…

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There was a fireplace and a balcony…

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Though it was small and looked out over….

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Well, nothing.

But it was there.

I did get a large kick out of the advertisement that was on a bulletin board by the exit door …

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Cash only, on call massage.

Hmmm…

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But the mountain sky was lovely as we left for dinner.

(No Martin.. I haven’t forgotten you.)

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Pan seared scallops and shrimp with white wine mussels over parmesan risotto.

And a few caramel apple sangrias to wash it down with.

Now that’s vacation!

Chesterwood….

 

Our first full day in the Berkshires dawned a little foggy.

 

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And we saw the ever present windmills towering above the resort.

 

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Along the main road, they almost seemed to rise from the clouds.

 

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A huge blueberry Belgian waffle started my morning off right and we were soon on our way to Chesterwood.

Note – if you’re not interested in history, Abraham Lincoln, sculpture, period homes and gardens… feel free to leave now. I’m about to get my geek on.

 

 

 

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Daniel Chester French was the man who designed the Lincoln Memorial, and this was his summer home and studio in the Berkshires.

 

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You enter the estate through the converted 1800’s barn….

 

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Which serves as a visitor center and gallery for French’s work.

 

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You might recognize the Minuteman.

 

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It was rather fascinating seeing the progression of Lincoln’s immortal image come to life.

 

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And rather haunting as well.

 

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Lincoln dominates your thoughts and sight…

 

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But French was a prolific sculpture before and after his most famous work.

 

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Still awake?

 

 

Just checking.

We opted to take the guided studio and house tour even though our docent was a bit of a dolt.

 

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The studio was Italianate in design.

 

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As were the gardens…

 

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Although past their prime this time of year.

 

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The studio was full..

 

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But I won’t drone on about all that.

 

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The railroad track at the back door that was used to move the enormous pieces of art was interesting though.

 

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Hey..

If you’re still with me, bravo!

 

 

And thanks for the blogging loyalty. I’m a bit of a history nerd and find all of this quite wonderful, but I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea.

 

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After the studio we strolled around the gardens….

 

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And wandered a serene path through the woods.

 

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French drew inspiration from the natural world and walked the estate daily.

 

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Benches are scattered here and there…

 

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As are sculptured memorials.

Next up… the house.

Try to contain your enthusiasm.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do you peep?

 

We peep.

Our friends peep.

Our family peeps.

Hell, in New England there’s an entire industry devoted to people who peep.

 

 

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In Maine, we have so many people peeping the road signs actually warn of the dangers.

 

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But that’s hard to do when the leaves are so damned pretty.

 

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Driving this time of year is a joy.

 

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Even on the highways.

 

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Not that I always agree with the signs.

 

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Well, I don’t.

 

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But the husband and I are taking a week off and going on a peeping vacation.

We’re leaving tomorrow and heading for the Berkshires in northwestern Massachusetts. The husband spent part of his childhood in Northern Connecticut so we’ll be visiting there, as well as crossing the state line into New York. We’re equal opportunity peepers.

We’ll be staying at one of our timeshare resorts…

 

 

Halt!

Don’t run screaming from the room at the word timeshare. It’s not in Boca and I don’t want to sell it to you. We bought in 2 years ago on a points based system and have been loving it. ever since. We can go anywhere we want, whenever we want, as often as we want and their Last Call program can’t be beat. This particular resort condo goes for over $1,300 a week and we paid $274. You can’t argue with that.

So we’ll be having a quintessentially New England fall vacation. The Norman Rockwell kind, because Stockbridge was a favorite subject. You know the painting…

 

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We’ll be walking that street, visiting quaint villages, strolling museums and art galleries, touring historic homes, driving scenic mountain roads and yes, drinking our way through multiple states. It’s a beautiful area, we were there 2 years ago for Christmas. But everything was, well… white.

Now it will be in full color.

 

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I doubt I’ll be posting while we’re gone, unless the husband drags me into 197 antique stores in a row and I have to kill some time while he examines every last rusted piece of crap in the Berkshires.

Try not to miss me too much.

I’ll have hundreds of photos to post when I come back.

 

 

P.S.  We’re driving.

And you know what that means?

I can bring an entire bag of….

SHOES!

 

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