Sep 11, 2016

Go to the beginning of this post to get caught up. :)

Day 11/100

Nini begrudgingly watched her mother pack up food. Lusa made sure to make and pack Nini's favorite foods, hoping that it would somehow make Nini forget about her sadness. The journey to the South Sands took about 2 days and so they needed enough provisions to hold them over till their destination. Luckily there were 3 other men going on this expedition and they would be contributing food as well. One of the men also going on the expedition was also bringing but his child. It was a boy 2 years older than Nini named Hagan, and they didn't really get along. Infact, Nini tried to avoid Hagan whenever possible... and now she had to spend 3 months with him. It was undecided if Tomkin would be going along, Nini's parents weren't sure if Tomkin would be strong enough for the they were still thinking about letting her go or not. But Nini needed Tomkin to come, surely she would DIEEE if she was denied her best friend! 

As Lusa was packing up the food, and trying not to make eye contact with Nini [for fear of bursting into tears] she couldn't help but think of how lonely she would be for the next 3 months. 

Day 10/100

Tomkin wondered, and wondered and wondered...was she too going to the South Sands with Nini?

Day 9/100

The next morning while Nini and her parents were eating breakfast together, Lusa broke the news to Nini. The village elders had asked that Nini's father Jakob go on a special expedition to the South Sands...and it was decided that Nini would go with her father, and mother stay at home. The expedition was going to be for 3 long months and the purpose was in search of food. Thumb Village was normally a cold and snowy place, but this year the weather was so bad that tradesmen from Greenland, Iceland and Norway couldn't make it in their ships to Winnie island to trade for goods. It was too dangerous of a journey, and so it was up to the people of Thumb Village to fend for themselves until spring. Nini did NOT want to go to the South Sands and she did not want to leave her mom... this news was quite upsetting, and even more so because they had to start packing and be on their journey by the following morning.

Day 8/100

When Nini's father Jakob opened the door, there standing in front of him, all bundled up was Jozef. Both Lusa and Jakob welcomed him inside and offered Jozef some hot tea...Nini knew what her mom and dad were thinking at that very moment... that if Jozef had come to their door this late in the evening during a blistering storm, it most likely meant the village elders sent him, and the news probably wasn't good. Nini listened carefully trying to make out what Jozef was telling her mother and father...something about food running out, and going to the South Sands, and leaving right away??? Nini could hear her mother quietly crying. What was going on? Her mother rarely cried! Worry started to sink in and somehow...Nini knew that their lives were forever going to be different...

Day 7/100

Every night Nini's mom Lusa, tells Nini a bedtime story. Often times the story takes weeks to tell because, well..Nini asks lots of questions but mainly because Lusa is marvelous at telling crazy myths and fables and makes up the most interesting creatures Nini has ever imagined... Lusa is actually revered as Thumb Village's most enchanting and unusual storyteller, a reputation that she takes very seriously. So tonight, like every other night...Lusa continued on telling her magical story to Nini, up in their loft where everyone sleeps. As Nini's eyes were starting to close there was a loud knock on the door. Lusa looked down over the loft and wondered who could be knocking this late in the evening....???

Day 6/100

Nini and Tomkin going inside for the evening...from the outside of their home they can smell whiffs of salmon chowder and corn bread. Nini is hoping that her mom made some honey butter to smear on her slice... After dinner, Nini will tidy up her living space and then just before bedtime AND a story (very important), she'll soak her feet in a bowl of hot water...this helps her sleep soundly and through the night. :)

Day 5/100

[This day I didn't have much time to do a detailed illustration, so I decided on creating a print. From time to time this will happen, and it just means that I was short on time but didn't want to skip a day.]

"Dansen Forest" One of many print ideas that would look pretty inside the jacket cover of this story when it's all done, or as a duvet cover for Nini...

Day 4/100

Tomkin is Nini's pet reindeer... she is a shy little thing, perhaps because she lost her mother soon after birth? Or maybe it's because she doesn't look like the other little reindeer in the village? Her ears don't stand straight and she already has antlers. But this is why Nini fell in love with her in the first place...and Tomkin could feel Nini's love for her soon after they met. Rarely separated, Tomkin's daily routine consists of looking after Nini, but also following her orders...she sleeps on a cozy bed made from tightly packed pine needles and to the side are her 4 little black boots that Nini's mother made for Tomkin, not really a necessity but Nini felt that Tomkin would much like to have nice boots to wear also. Tomkin loves to nibble on sticks, especially if they've been dipped in honey first...drink warm milk, and slowly savor the mini cherry berries from the cherry pine trees from Dansen forest, a fine delicacy!

Day 3/100

Nini's satchel, and what she carries in it everyday. Most of the people in Thumb Village have satchels to carry similar items... from igloo to igloo, the treats and baked goods are different as are the good luck medallions. Each child in Thumb Village is given a good luck medallion when they are born. The medallions are made by the head elders and each one has been blessed with special characteristics that the child will hopefully take on for themselves. Nini's medallion was blessed with a curious spirit, a protector of animals, the gift of discernment and to have an open heart....

Day 2/100

Meet Nini, she is 10 years old and from Thumb Village on Winnie Island. Her two favorite things are her pet reindeer, Tomkin and her "Winnie" satchel, which was passed down to her by her great grandmother. Nini doesn't know who actually made her satchel, she thinks it was her grandmother...but infact it was one one of the Alphabet Girls from the North Winnie Mountains. <- 200="" a="" about="" an="" and="" but="" change...="" does="" encourage="" exploration.="" foot="" for="" has="" important="" in="" into="" is="" it="" legend="" mountains="" much="" nbsp="" north="" not="" of="" over="""" part="" put="" re="" s="" set="" snowy="" span="" stays="" step="" story...noone="" territory="" that="" the="" this="" to="" turned="" village="" when="" whole="" winnie="" years.="" you="">


Day 1/100 
[i'm copying an pasting the text from Sept 1st's post on my ig page]

Hello SEPTEMBER 1st! I've been so excited for this day to come...because it kicks off #the100dayproject for me. I'm going to break up the 100 days of illustrations into 3 stories that all intertwine with each other and happen here on Winnie Island. Join me for the next 3 months on a journey of discovery, making new friends in Thumb Village, the South Sands, Danson Forest and maaaybe we will venture up to the North Winnie Mountains, IF we're brave enough. But first, a map of Winnie noone is lost. Tomorrow, the story begins in Thumb Village.

11 days ago I joined in on the #the100dayproject / #100daysdrawing group hashtag you can find on Instagram.  Basically it's a challenge to do something cohesive for 100 days straight, whether that's bake something new, illustrate a story [what i'm doing] or write a letter to someone different for 100 days straight. You get to decide how intensive you want each project to be, really the only continuity in the particular field you choose.

I chose to illustrate a story mainly because I just finished illustrating a story that my sister-in-law wrote. That in itself was a HUGE challenge for me and one that brought me out of my "static/safe" comfort zone I had created for myself with drawing. Finishing the rough drafts for my SIL's book was a really big deal that I wanted to keep the momentum. So I thought, what better way to keep the wheels spinning than to take on the 100 day challenge. Also, if you follow me on my instagram feed, you've probably noticed by now that I have dozens and dozens of characters that have been begging to be turned into a story. It is my hope that this can be the beginning of just that.

I am now on day 11 and to be honest, i'm starting to doubt this whole story I have in my head, my characters, the plot, the illustrations and whether or not this is even worth pursuing.  BUT, with that said...I know that If I stop now, that means I won't have 100 drawings and a story to go with it by the time December rolls around. I think one of the reasons i'm starting to let doubt creep in is because the story as of right now is just about a sweet little family who lives in a village on an island that is mostly cold and snowy year round. There aren't any magical characters appearing yet [OH YES they will appear] and i'm so anxious to get to the part where they make their appearances... but I'm trying to learn to pace myself [another challenge] and let the story take it's course. I'm not sharing this to fish for compliments, I know that you have good days and bad days in any profession, and doubt is a normal thing to come knocking at the door. It never misses a day, it always shows up...I guess I feel like i've opened the door too much to doubt lately and have been listening to it's sales pitch. I just need to close the door and politely say "No thanks, see you tomorrow" then rinse and repeat. ;)

So, it is my hope that you join in on this journey with me as I illustrate the story of Nini and her life on Winnie Island. If you have any suggestions about the story/illustrations, please don't hesitate to leave them in the comment box... I look forward to Dec. 9th and hopefully completing the challenge.

*I apologize for the inconvenience of reading bottom to top if you start late in the game. :/

Aug 24, 2016

These characters [ "strange angels" what I call them for now ] have been on my mind a lot lately...

Aug 15, 2016


Back in mid-June, we had some of our good friends [Angela and Trace] come stay with us for the weekend. We thoroughly enjoyed their visit, and the pack of abs that had formed on my body because of all our laughs together. Forget going to a gym, I just need to go to my favorite people's homes! 

We made a quick day trip to Cannon Beach

Hydrangeas are literally as big as your head there. If you loves flowers and well manicured foliage,  charming homes, moody weather and homemade taffy...then you'll love the Oregon Coast.

We did a casual hike another one of the days, this was along the salmon river.

There were some cheese-ball filled moments... Jesse, who is a closeted cheeser has now been outed! :-[) lol Sorry babe. Love you, but it's about time people get to know the real Jesse... ;-p 

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Then fast forward to July and flying solo out to Vermont for my college buddy's wedding! 

While in Vermont, I stayed at Janet's charming Air B&B... on the left, me and Janet at the company hdq's Mamava, who she works for. It's a company that provides "peaceful quiet pods" for moms to breastfeed or pump in high traffic areas such as airports, stadiums, convention centers etc. This mural I am standing in front of is in the stairwell of the office building where Mamava is located... I asked Janet to take my picture in front of it so I wouldn't forget that I want to paint something like this with my designs in our new home. :)  Side note: Janet was the best host ever. I had arrived in Vermont 2 days early before the wedding so I had time to kill. So glad I did, because much of it was spent having long talks with Janet about many things... and she even took the time out of her weekend to walk with me to the farmers market and show me around...what kind of host does this??!! She is a kindred spirit with a heart of gold, and SO SPUNKY!! I already miss her. :]

Things I enjoyed seeing while visiting Burlington:

The April Cornell store, which is also their headquarters... Majority of the items aren't really my style, BUT the store itself was decorated in such a beautiful and charming way, that it's hard not to appreciate every single item for sale. I tried on a few items...and regret not getting this dress... it had a stunning 1940's silhouette...but I wasn't totally comfortable in where the waist hit me...

The homes in Vermont are something else. Why more neighborhoods and towns don't emulate this or create a charming inspiring style of their own is beyond me. I guess because many people don't want their tax dollars going to beautifying where they live? I dunno... It's so bizarre. That was one of the reasons why Jesse and had to leave Brightwood [Mt. Hood Territory] because it just feels like there are more people who could care less about how things look than who do care, and that puts such a pit in my stomach. I'll touch more on this at the end of this post.

Lots of Hostas and Lilly of the Valley everywhere!

One thing that really left a lasting impression on me was Burlington's Library, the children's section.
I spent about 5 hours reading in there trying to soak up all the inspiration.

These 4 books were among my favorites that I had never read. Beautiful stories and pictures... "Time of Wonder" was a book of McCloskey's that I was so excited to come upon... the artwork is enchanting and leaves you staying on each page longer than you would expect.

Then I flew back to Portland, and waved when we passed Mt. Hood :) I remember thinking, "in a few weeks we will be living somewhere else...I CAN'T WAIT!" Okay, I realize from the arrow it looks like our house was sitting right on Mt. Hood... no, it was about 20 min drive from the just imagine it was under those clouds and a little farther back. ;]

Then it was my birthday: July 4th, 

I was surprised with a homemade chocolate cake...that freaking blew my mind! And a new ipad with Adobe sketch & draw! This was an unexpected surprise which I really enjoyed...especially since the older I get, receiving gifts is not as big of a deal for me...I would rather have dinner with friends or go to a movie or spa ...basically create memories together than collect tangible things...HOWEVER, the Adobe sketch is AMAZZZZING!!!! I am still a little rusty using it, but practice makes better and better... so I just keep practicing. 

Last month I did a ton of painting and drawing on the side of work:

This little painting for a friend's birthday present.

I painted this message on my sweatshirt just incase I got lost. :'p I've worn it a couple times
to Lowes [here in Bend] and so many elderly people have gotten a kick out of it! lol Which took me by surprise because I forget about the statement when i'm wearing it, and am a little confused when they have laughed at me and said "Is that Jesse Barrus next to you?" ;-[) 

I also painted an instagram friend's baby helmet for her son... actually no, I drew on it with a sharpie and then spray painted it 3 times with clear paint. I very much enjoyed this project!

Got to have the privilege of having this little cutie over for a fun crafternoon. I taught her how
to use a light box and paint her design [which i'm holding] onto a totebag that we made together. I miss working with kids and watching them create magic!

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Then I spent a good week or so packing up our entire house while Jesse was working... I would be leaving for L.A. to visit my good friend and attend the SCBWI summer conference. While I was gone, Jesse would be loading all of our belongings into a moving truck and heading to our new home in Bend, OR.  I was definitely worried about not being able to help jesse move our things into the truck, so the least I could do to help was pack everything up. He did a great job of coordinating everything and luckily nothing got broke or lost on the 2 hr. drive down south. 

When I drove myself to the airport, it was the last time I would see our little house [as ours] and it was more emotional than I had anticipated. I wasn't even a mile from our home and already the waterworks had started. So many good memories were made in our Brightwood home, and of course we weren't without some major lows...but overall, it was a really great experience for Jesse and I. 

Then I flew to L.A. on the 27th of July, and got to spend the first two days with my good friend Jenny and her boyfriend Jason.  Our first day together, we made a day trip to Ojai.... 

Went to this amazing outdoor bookshop:

And on day two, Jenny took me to her studio where she runs her business

I've known Jenny since 2003, when she started cutxpaste...actually I think she started it in 2002... She  was living in Brooklyn and I was living in Manhattan. Her site hosted many independent artist's wares and I was fortunate enough to sell my items in her shop... so basically, you could say that Jenny is the first one who gave me the first leg up in my journey to becoming a designer. [Forever grateful to you Jenny you dear friend!] We quickly became friends and have remained close ever since. Her studio space in L.A. is inspiring and soo Jenny: fresh delicate vintage pieces, with a timelessness and history that you're not going to find in most clothes today.

If you're looking for a one of a kind vintage dress, this shop should be your first stop!

cutxpaste studio

then after the studio visit, we made our way to Wi Spa in downtown L.A. 

This was the craziest spa experience i've ever had...i'm not going to go into details about why, but if you're ever in L.A. you should make this a destination. Disclaimer: not for the shy ;-)

This is just one of the many relaxation rooms... after we had our 2 hour massage we came in here and layed on that heated marble floor you see in the background. Everyone should have a heated marble floor in their home! I'm already gearing up for my next spa visit with Jenny, hopefully this fall! :-[)

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Day 3 of my L.A. trip, I checked myself into my hotelroom, luckily I was able to find a hotel right across from the Biltmore [all their rooms were booked out for the conference] and so began the beginning of my journey of the childrens book world.

Documentation of a nervous/excited face, pre conference registration

The SCBWI had soo many great key note speakers! Jon Klassen was a favorite. He didn't take himself too seriously which is what makes his illustrations/writing brilliant.

This was my favorite panel discussion. Six agents telling us what they expect when you send them material. There were 3 women that I felt like I would relate to and get along with really well, the other 3...mmm pretty abrasive personalities which put a bad taste in my mouth.

The Biltmore Hotel is across the street from Pershing Square where there is this beautiful furry sparkly plastic installation showing right now. This was so inspiring I found myself continuing to go back to it every single day [3 days] and trying to figure out how I can make a mini version of this for the backyard. Watching the movement of this thing is like watching the ocean move back and forth.

And that concludes my trip to L.A. - I got to visit an old friend and make some new friends... it was a great trip and time/money well spent.  I learned a lot at the conference and will do a separate blog post on that so I can share some notes/portfolio etc. for anyone interested in getting in the industry.

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Finally, our move to Bend Oregon. 

We've been here 2 weeks now and Jesse and I both agree it has gone above and beyond our expectations. There are so many activities going on, it feels like New York City in the summertime and all the free events they have. I love having options. I LOVE being able to walk downtown I LOVE being able to ride my bike again...oh my gosh I have missed that so much. I love all the bakeries and amazing food everywhere. There is a grocery store called Market of Choice that my friend took me to, and when we walked in I sang at the top of my lungs my head of course! But really, this little city seems to be the perfect fit for Jesse and I. It's almost as if we experienced a modern day Goldilocks and the 3 Bears scenario: This is too big [SLC/Davis County] this is too small [Brightwood/Sandy] this is juuust right, Bend.  So much so...that I can see us being here forever.  Of the neighbors we've met so far, they are super friendly [just like our neighbors were in Brightwood] there are a lot of young families, lots of kids here...and lots of dogs! Harley has had a hard time adjusting...but everyday he gets more and more use to it. Yesterday I had him come walk with me to downtown [a 3.5 mile walk] and he was in more of those are a must. :)

Jul 11, 2016

This past Sunday, I spent a good part of my morning and afternoon listening to some inspiring and uplifting TED talks. I specifically sought out talks on creativity and education.

Here are just a few of my favorites:

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Sir Ken Robinson

"Do schools kill creativity?"

"How to escape education's Death Valley"

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Diana Laufenberg

"How to learn? from mistakes"

Jun 9, 2016


Last night we met some good friends for dinner in Sellwood - we passed some pretty foliage on our way to the restaurant [Gino's...really yummy food!] I want to be more vigilant about sharing my inspiration here on my the Roxy Marj Blogger good old days... ;-P It's always fun to draw or paint flowers and leaves that you see, but it's also rewarding to use them as less literal inspiration, i.e. furniture or fashion design. Nature always amazes me, I see something new every time.

Caught Harley snoozing on our bed pillows. He actually use to do this ALL THE TIME when we first got him from Jesse's dad...and then he stopped all of a sudden when we moved to Brightwood [?] but yesterday I couldn't find him, and he snuggled his way in between our pillows, face covered, passed out. Harley will be 14 years old in Sept. or Oct. ? and he still has loads of energy! 

Last Saturday we made a day trip to Bend to look at homes, we were supposed to go this coming weekend but considering our house in Brightwood sold in just 4 days we needed to find something ASAP. Our realtor showed us homes all afternoon and then we found one we really loved, that night driving back home we made and offer and then come Monday morning Jesse and I had a pit in our stomachs about that not being the right house....SOOO..we called our realtor and asked if we could  retract our offer and drive back down [2 hr. drive] and have her show us some homes that afternoon...Gail, our realtor has been awesome! She welcomed our spontaneous decision and showed us more homes that afternoon...and we found 2 that were a much better fit for us with a better price point/ investment opportunity. We chose our favorite house and just to be sure of our decision, we stayed the night in Bend and did another walk through the following morning.  I love these two pics of Harley and I... I took them while we were waiting for Jesse... I feel like our expressions convey exactly how excited we are to move to a place that has a happy medium of mountains close by, great outdoor/art/dog lover scene and with some of the upscale city life that I have missed so much.  

We found out today that our offer was accepted and we should be moving to Bend by mid July.  The last 7 months living in Brightwood have been really hard for me. Lack of sunlight, 1 hrs. drive from Portland, not close to friends or good food/entertainment/shopping and then just getting anywhere you have to drive on Highway 26 which isn't bad when the weather is normal...but freezing rain during the winter had me cooped up inside way more often than I had hoped, and i'm a homebody!

However, with all that said...this year by Mt. Hood has been one that was supposed to happen...both Jesse and I believe even more now.  Bend was not on our radar whatsoever, and we feel that it took us moving to Brightwood to find for that reason, I will always hold this place dear to my heart. Now, I know i'm speaking too soon considering we haven't even lived there yet, but when I fall head over heals in love with a place [like I did with NYC when I was 17] I KNOW I will love it.  It really is a gem of town that more people [like ourselves] are tapping into, and I'm really glad we're getting in while we can still afford it. :] Lastly, it's a place where I feel safe enough to ride my bike around and get a motorcycle to ride side by side with my husband... Yes i'm only 5'4", yes i'm petite, but if I can ride a bike in between cars in New York City on a regular basis, I think I can handle a motorcyle. ;-]

Many of the homes in Bend Oregon are soooooo sooo charming! And many of them are way over our budget! Ha! :-[) Like $,4- 500K over  but it's fun to dream and be inspired by the area that you live in.

The park downtown...and this river, can float it on the evenings and weekends in your inner tube, or kayak, or paddle board, and it's clean..... see why this place is so charming?

We stopped by the library Tuesday morning to hopefully get a glimpse inside, but it wasn't open yet...however, Jesse seeing the fish sculpture....took it as a sign, he is meant for this place.

One of the best finds i've discovered close by [in Welches, just 10 min away] is the most amazing massage therapist/esthetician  Her name is Victoria Montgomery and she owns Glow "Mt. Hood Massage"  I've been getting facials ever 6 weeks or so for the past year and a half now, and you really can't help but compare each massage therapist/esthetician and Victoria is by far the best I have ever had [as well as her full body massage!] I plan on driving the two hours just to continue seeing her, that's how good she is.  Victoria recently introduced me to Evan Healy's product line, specifically her clay masks [what she uses in her facials] and I love that you use the tiniest bit of clay, add a tablespoon of water and brush it on, easy/effortless/chemical free.  Do this twice a week for a better complexion.

and lastly, relating to skincare....sunscreen. I did this illustration today out of a weird desperation to work through some artist's block i'm having on a couple side projects. I somehow was able to produce these new characters, which have nothing to do with what I need to be working on right now. :/ Annnyways, don't forget your sunscreen, take care of your skin, and go get a facial! 

May 29, 2016


One third of the way through this book: "How Artists Work - Daily Rituals" 

You get quick bites into the lives of some of history's most famous artists...easy read, odd and inspiring details and completely motivating for anyone who works in the creative field. 

Got a little bit of painting in the other day, redrawing some characters etc. Getting warmed up again after a few weeks break. It's sooo risky to take that much time off from something you love, at least that's my feeling. I don't like having to force myself "to get back into the groove" all over again, it's always so awkward the first day or two.  However, life happens and sometimes you're forced to take getting our house ready to put on the market.

With that said, we FINALLY put our house up for sale this past Friday. I really hope our home goes to a nice owner who will make a good neighbor. I will be sad to say goodbye to our neighbors... the Timberline Rim community we live in has been nothing but good to us. You can view our house on under Rhododendron, OR. It would make a wonderful starter/retirement/vacation home.

The other thing that has delayed work and social media usage was me and Jesse's trip to Hawaii. It was our first "real" vacation together, meaning we weren't going for an event, we weren't visiting family or friends...we went just for us. We both made a conscious decision to not be on our phones, not be on social media and not feel the insanely weird urge to share our trip, or how much we love one another.

Much of our conversation during our vacation [and still after] was about what kind of life are we living right now and are there things we can change to make it better, or why [seriously WHY??] like so many others, do we feel it necessary to share so much? Jesse and I both laughed at how silly it is that we feel like nowadays, if we don't share pics of the other on birthdays or holidays or vacations then oh my gosh, what will people think!? LAUGHING OUT LOUD RIGHT NOW GUYS!

And I confess, a huge part of me wanted to share pics of us smiling together on our hike, our kayak trip, swimming in the ocean etc. all because of whatever insecurity I have inside that feels like if I don't then everyone is going to think we didn't have fun, or that I don't love my husband or that my husband doesn't love me. ;-p Don't get me wrong, I understand that family and friends just want to stay in the loop and stay do I. BUT, before there was social wasn't all radio silence people found ways to stay connected...rememeber? Yeah, i'm still laughing about how weird all of this is...

 So... like what many of my friends and some family members have already been doing, living life through life, not through their phones...this is now my full time pursuit.  Sure i'll still share snippets on instagram [my occasional blogging is not included] will mostly be work related stuff, but if you're dying to know whether or not I still love my husband not only on his birthday, or Christmas or our Anniversary then I guess you'll just have to call me, write me or maybe just maybe we can meet up for lunch and meet face to face and I will tell you all. Yeah? YEAH!

Because i'm a tease, here is one pic from our trip to Hawaii...this was our second day I think, just before the sun was setting... I'll let you decide our feelings for each other....and happy Memorial Day weekend!

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