If You Selected Lullaby…..

20190805_174221I’ve been cited by the City of Cincinnati for the outside condition of my house.  Apparently they have been sending me letters for almost a year (they’ve been going to my old house), so their final notification to get my attention was sticking a Not Approved for Occupancy sticker on my front door.  They want any wood or metal surface painted, they don’t care about the asbestos siding as it won’t rust or rot.  Also my front porch is not to code, the side drop is more than 30″ (I guess the 1924 City administration thought differently on heights), so I have to either put a railing on that side of porch or raise the height of the soil.

This is what is prompting the painting of the foundation.  A railing may or may not be part of my future pergola for the porch, but that’s not happening any time soon and I’m not putting up a cheap make-shift railing, so I’m raising the soil level.  I want to paint the foundation before doing so.  The foundation includes the basement windows, so it also allows me to start tackling some of the wood surfaces as the frames around the glass blocks is wood.

I’ve gotten four quotes to paint my house ranging from $5000 to $16,000.  Based on in depth conversations with two of the vendors, the two quotes in the middle $7,000 and $13,000, I know did not include removing all the old paint from the windows; something I feel needs to be done as there is already too much paint on them.  Any definition in the moulding is already barely noticeable.  Both of the companies said they could remove the old paint, but they’d charge by the hour to do so.  One estimated that it would take 6 hours per window, but he said removing paint would also mean he’d have to sand the wood.  I have 34 windows in my house.  I decided to remove the paint from the basement windows to test the theory.  Schuloff Tool Rental let me buy the heat gun I had rented previously for $30.  It took me approximately 30 minutes to remove all paint from one window.   There are ten basement windows.

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Doing so revealed some detail in the wood that was completely lost in the many layers of paint I removed.  It confirmed for me that the windows need to be more than scraped.  I can see why you should sand following, get them completely smooth, but I’m not looking for that level of perfection.  I see more sweat equity in my future.

Thanks to those that provided input on the foundation color for my house.  Before 20200403_163023putting out the ask I was leaning towards Lullaby.  While it was a very close vote Lullaby edged out by two, so I picked up my primer/sealer from Sherwin Williams, Loxon, and had them tint it Lullaby.

Pre-Front Door

When I first bought the house I bought a quart of Sea Serpent to paint the boards that boarded up the broken side-lights from the original door.  I had some left, so I decided to paint a strip of the siding near the foundation, so I could see how the two colors look together.  Lullaby is too light and too blue.  I took pictures right after I painted and throughout the day today.  It looked its best right after painting.

The Loxon does not go very far.  One gallon only covered about 1/3 of house.  I bought two, if I need a third I’m tempted to have it tinted Uncertain Gray.  I wish Sherwin Williams sold sample pints.  I have so many sample quarts in the basement I didn’t want to buy more.  I’m pretty certain Uncertain Gray is the best choice for the final coat.

Color Options

Covid-19 Is Rocking Everyone’s World

No, I have not been infected nor am I paranoid to the extent that I’m wearing mask in public.  However it did make me to remember to use my mask when I’m sanding, something I generally forget to do.  I haven’t made a post in awhile, so this will be an update on the two projects I’ve been working on, my dining room table and headboard.

Filling the holes/cracks in my walnut boards of my dining room table is my new skill set.  The first step was taping the underside anywhere epoxy to could seep through. 

20200301_141537I used TotalBoat 5:1 Epoxy Resin, Slow Hardener.  This was a very easy product to use.  I bought the quart size that came with metered pumps.  One pump of resin dispensed the five parts to the one pump of hardener, 1 part.  Mix for at least two minutes and then you have about 20 minutes to work with it.  I was amazed how much epoxy went into small cracks or holes.  I made three trips to the Manufactory before all the holes were filled.  I definitely will have some clean up to do as I applied too much in some areas.  I’ll do better on my next project.  

The only other thing I accomplished on the table was rejoining a set of the boards I split when I first started this project.  The center of the table will be the board I bought from Urban Edge Wood Works, but I wanted a wide board to rest on each side of it.  Only one of my boards was left uncut, so I needed to rejoin at least one. I chose the one on the left.

No pics of the glue up process, but it didn’t come out very well.  The board is barely over an inch thick and I’ll have to plane it more as the seam didn’t line up through the entire length.  I’m hoping I won’t lose the board altogether as my target width of 38″ is dependent upon using it. The joined board has the tape measure next to it in the picture on the left. Shown there is approximately 50″ in width of boards.  I don’t want sap (white of boards) in the center of the table, so once that is cut away I have about 42″ in width.  The picture on the right were the worst of all my boards and still in their original state.  Hopefully they will make the skirt for the table.

The Governor of Ohio has locked down the state, so today was the last day until April 6th to work at the Manufactory.  Just as well as it relates to the table as according to Kendall I’ve taken it as far as I can with him and the Manufactory.  I’ve brought my boards home where they will stay in my living room until Covid-19 has passed. I’m hopeful I can work with Adam at Urban Edge Woodworks to complete the project.  I need access to equipment he has to complete the project.

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Most of the headboard project has been in my basement waiting for me to do the staining, so with the dining room table on hiatus the headboard has my full focus.  My workbench was my first 100% solo build and it will be the perfect surface to assemble the top of the headboard.  The Manufactory let me borrow their biscuit joiner, the only piece of equipment I didn’t have at home, but needed to complete the project.

With my slots made I turned to sanding the inside of all the pieces, so I could finally tackle the stain, hence the mask.  I applied the same custom stain I used on the side shelves.  The color looks perfect against my beadboard section.

I’ve decided to apply polycrylic to the bottom of the top shelf since it will be a surface that items will set on it, three coats.

The rest of the oak pieces will have Danish oil.  I’ll let it rest overnight and the tomorrow I’ll tackle building the box, which brings me closer to the finish line of this project.

 

This Sista Girl Was Not Supposed To Live the American Dream

Five years ago when I decided to walk away from a paycheck, health insurance, life insurance to pursue self-employment I never considered the ramifications as it related to banks and loans.  I have been able to maintain the lifestyle I had while traditionally employed.  I’ve paid my taxes.  Paid my bills.  I understood the debt to income ratio when I still had a mortgage, but I’m mortgage free now and if my car hadn’t died I’d have less than $10k in total debt.  I understood the lack of collateral in the house before I spent 2 years restoring it, but I don’t understand what is happening now.  I’ve been turned down again on a loan for the following as sent by email from the loan officer:

Venus, thanks for these (I sent him my 2019 1099s). Underwriting took a look at what you had previously sent, and still denied the loan. I had resubmitted it, and it was reviewed again by another underwriter. For reasons beyond my pay grade or understanding, the loan has been denied a second time. When I asked why, I was told  the 1099 income is considered inconsistent. I was given no other explanation. If you’d like to speak to someone about this, Rick Burkhardt is our Bank President, at 513-842-8900. I’m sorry I couldn’t make this work for you. I have a lot of respect for you and the job you’ve done on your house, and I have no doubt that you will get a loan in the future. I’m just sorry it wasn’t with us.”  F%*k Guardian Savings Bank.

For the first time I truly regret buying this house.  Prior to looking at houses in the City of Cincinnati I was looking to get the hell out of here.  I should have stayed on that course of action.

The Manufactory – Where My Ideas Will Take Shape

I need projects.  My house is too quiet, too still, too empty without projects to keep my mind from going negative, so I’ve joined The Manufactory, a 17,000 sq. ft. membership makerspace located on Mosteller Road in the northern burbs of Cincinnati.  This place is the Camp Washington WoodShop on steroids that I stumbled across on the Internet when I was searching for a larger planer to use for my headboard project.  I’ve joined for a month, so I’m on the clock to complete my headboard, make my dining room table, office desk, and master suite beverage station.

I spent a few hours there on MLK Day with the goal of just planing all my oak boards for the headboard shelve and trim.  My plan was to use the Manufactory’s larger Kendall Glovercapacity planer, but build it at the WoodShop.  I got the planing done and was comtemplating over using their joiner or waiting to do that at the WoodShop when another member, Kendall Glover asked if I needed any help.  He may regret ever asking.  Kendall has been a woodworker for 20 years and his woodworking business name is Conjure Craft Woodworkers, but woodworking is not his day job.  This picture is a beautiful dresser he made.  Looks like he could go full-time to me.

After about an hour of conversation my whole plan of building at the Woodshop had been nixed.  What I love about the “creative community” is they are willing to share their knowledge when they come across people that are sincerely interested in learning.  He convinced me to leave my oak slabs for the headboard there vs. lugging them back home.  We discussed at length my dining room table, so before they closed I decided to retrieve my walnut slabs from my storage locker.  He agreed to help me prep my walnut for the dining room table, so he suggested that I allow the wood to acclimate to their space.  So, now on top of my membership I am renting two cubbies to store my wood.  Sista Girl w/ Skills is getting ready to elevate to a whole new level.

The beauty of the Manufactory is they are open 7-days a week.  I would be very hard pressed to get my projects done in a timely manner at the WoodShop when their open shop hours are limited to Wed 3-9p and Sat 12-5p.  I often have work conflicts on Wednesday.  The other thing I love is the community atmosphere.  I met Kendall on Thursday night and he introduced me to other avid woodworkers.  All welcomed me and offered assistance if needed.

I brought with me more wood; the wood I needed for the headboard shelf boxes and before he left, Kendall helped me lay out a revised plan (he gave me some great feedback that I will incorporate) for building them out.  We also discussed the game plan for the dining table, which we’ll start working on Sunday afternoon.  I didn’t have much time to work, Serena was playing at 9p, but I got the top, bottom, and side pieces for the two side shelf units cut.  I did bring them home as I want to stain the insides and drill the holes for the adjustable shelves.

If all goes well I should be gifting myself for Valentine’s Day (give to yourself if you have no other sources) a dining table and headboard.

It’s a Wrap

All repairs to the walls/moulding damaged while trying to install the office door were corrected and the final moulding around the inside of the room was installed.  This marks the completion of the final room in my house.

In addition to completing the office, I was able to take extra door trim to dress the basement exterior (not doing anything to the basement side of basement door) and kitchen exterior doors.  All of the closets have been dressed, except for the kitchen pantry and guest bedroom closet  (intentionally left off) with floor and inside door moulding.  This means the inside restoration is a wrap.

I held a Birthday Open House to celebrate the occasion on Saturday and was amazed by the number of people; colleagues, clients, friends, family, that came to see the work that had been accomplished.  Approximately 40 people braved the torrid rainfall and gusty winds.  It was a proud moment.  I absolutely loved showing her off and I was overwhelmed by the 100% positive feedback I received.  It was humbling, but my inner soul was enjoying the praise.  The flow of people was constant throughout the 3-hour event and I was so busy giving tours that the only picture I have as evidence of the wonderful afternoon is the haul of gifts received.  Also overwhelming; I haven’t had that many gifts to open at one time since undergrad graduation.

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I was asked what is my favorite room in the house.  It is the hallway leading to and including the guest bedroom, all done in tribute to my mother that I so wish were alive to share this moment with me.  She’s been gone almost 20 years and the void her death left is still strong.  I adorned the hallway with pictures of her from childhood through early adult and the guestroom walls are filled with more items in tribute to her.  I am my mother’s only child and because I made the conscious decision to not have children I wanted her pictures and awards to have life.  Once I’m gone I don’t know if anyone else will care.

The furniture was hers, she loved the Victorian style.  I remember her joy when it was delivered.  The quilt on the bed is one she purchased during a trip we made to Gatlinburg, but barely used.  It was on her bed when she came home from the hospital for the last time, but she had me take it off when her meds made her vomit.  She feared ruining it.  I’ve stored it for the last 20 years.  It falls a little short on this modern thick mattress, but I don’t care.  I’ve saved it for this very moment.

The celebration did not end with the Open House.  I had about an hour to clean up for a 6 pm quaint dinner party with five friends that were joining me for the Najee concert at the Ludlow Garage.  Najee was my go to study music in undergraduate school, so when I got the email that he was going to be right up the road I thought that would be a great birthday activity.  His Najee’s Theme LP was one of the first vinyl records I played once I got my sound system set in my master suite, so I took the cover with me to the concert in hopes of getting it signed.  Thanks to Robbie Todd, the promoter that I’ve had the pleasure of knowing since the World Choir Games, it was signed, “To Venus.  Thank You Love Najee”.

Reaching this moment is bittersweet.  I’ve been an emotional wreck all week (damn menopause).  My heart is heavy, the tears have flowed.  This project has consumed my life for two years.  Almost every vision I had for the house from my very first walk through with Joe Gorman, Executive Director of Camp Washington Community Board, have come true.  The two areas that are a disappointment, the kitchen floor and spa-like function of the master shower, are correctable.  I should be elated, but this milestone sadly coincided with being confronted with the reality that a person I held in significance and had envisioned enjoying this house with will never be a part of it.  I’ve restored a beautiful house, but now struggle with figuring out how my house will become a home.  She deserves to be filled with sounds of laughter and joy, not hollow solo footsteps and TV noise.  I hope I’ll be able to replicate January 11 many times moving forward.  It was a special day I’ll cherish for a long time.

I was also asked what is next.  I know I can and will fix the kitchen floor.  I hope I’ll be able to add a steam unit to the master shower.  I will finish my master bed headboard, make my dining room table and office desk.  Hopefully by spring a loan from a bank would have come through and I can enjoy watching a contractor paint the exterior and then start Phase Two of the vision, the detached garage.  With a slight tweak of the Serenity Prayer: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage, skill, patience, finances, to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.

I was still cleaning up things minutes before the first guest arrived, so I did not have a chance to hang before pictures in each room allowing people to see the transformation.  Enjoy this before and after slideshow.

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What Doesn’t Kill Ya Makes Ya Stronger

I was not in the right mental frame of mind to hang the last door of my house.  I had asked and paid Scotti to do to this door, what he had done for the basement door, but with the holidays and his having family in town he returned to me a door slab and jamb; basically what I gave him in the beginning minus the lock was installed.  That got the project started on the wrong foot because I knew I would not be able to hang by myself without the hinges set to the right place.  Annoyed, but not deterred, I purchased a Milescraft HingeMate kit from Woodcraft and took the door to the WoodShop around 2:30 pm Saturday (one of only two open shop days) because I’ve allowed Scotti to use my router and table.  I also hoped he’d help make sure I had the markings in the right place.

I’ve said it before and will repeat again, I’m not proficient, which means I’m not efficient.  It took me 3 hours to route in the 3 hinges.  I got the first one done and decided to put it back in the jamb with the hinge pin in to make sure the other marks were right.  Well I cut it about 1/8″ to high on jamb, which made for a tight/close fit at the top of the door.  Good thing I did the fit as that made my marks for the remaining hinges off and they appeared to be way off anyway.  It was 4:45 pm at that point and the shop closes at 5 pm.  Scotti helped me make the correct marks and I scrambled to try and finish by 5, hoping now that I had the process it would be fast.

Well with the second hinge, I put my jig on the wrong side of door, which meant the cut was reversed.  I was in tears by this point, so Scotti chiseled out the piece of wood that should have been on the opposite side.  Really not a big deal, but a mistake I was mad I made.  The salvage door turned out to be slightly, 1/4″, smaller in width than the original door as recessing the hinges created too large of a gap at the opening.  This is something Scottie could have corrected when he had the door for three weeks, but fortunately he made the correction now, so I could work on the third hinge.  I left around 5:30.  No pictures from any of that work as I was just frustrated at myself.  The kit worked beautifully, so glad I purchased.  Here’s a company video so you can see what I did.

Once home I ate first (hadn’t eaten anything since breakfast) and then got started hanging.  This was the fourth door in jamb I installed by myself, so I really was expecting this to go quick. Oh so wrong.  My house slopes, so the opening was not level and it created a gap at the top, right side of door that I just could not figure out.  My mind kept saying cut the jamb on the high side, but my inner voice said don’t do it.  I turned the top of the jamb into a pin cushion with so many nail holes from multiple attempts.  I took a chunk out of the top of the door; I crushed my mother’s lamp, damaged the moulding on the closet door, and gauged the wall when I lost grip and it fell inward; and I cracked the drywall which will need to be repaired and painted before I hang the inside moulding.  At 4:12 am I went to bed with more tears, dejected and defeated.

Sunday morning I was awakened at 8a (so four hours of sleep) by a text alert on my phone that turned out to be a you can earn $130 by completing this survey from Amazon scam (I really hate that our text are now being invaded in the same way our emails are with these scams).  Tired, but in clearer mind, I decided to skip church, turn on my Pandora Yolanda Adams station, eat some bacon and toast, and climb back on the bull that had thrown me a few hours earlier.

What I needed most was another set of hands, so I went in my basement and got three pieces of lathe from a pile I kept and screwed them to the jamb.  That gave me something more substantial to hold and kept the door in proper alignment.  It also allowed me to step back, without fear of the door falling inward, and clearly see where my gaps were and their size.

The slope of house created large gaps on the upper right, bottom left and small to no gaps on bottom right, upper left.  The large gaps were too big for normal door shims, so I headed to my basement for the scrap wood pile and proceeded to build out the opening in the areas needed until I could get to a point that normal shims would work.  In just 2 hours and 45 minutes the door was hung.  I had to plane a little off the side of door near top as it rubbed slightly, but the door was in.  I’m not sure if the original door’s knob was in the same place as this one, but I was amazed how the knobs of the closet and door stacked, so they would never hit together; a great turn of events from a door that truly kicked my ass.  I thought hanging this door would be my final post announcing It’s a Wrap, but I have to repair the damage I caused first, before I can hang the inside moulding.

Everything must be done by Friday as I’ve scheduled a Birthday Open House on Saturday, so no rest for the weary.  I tried to send all my local followers an invite, so if I missed you, but you’d like to see her in person, send me a message.

I’m a Legal Resident

I’ve passed all City of Cincinnati inspections and now can legally occupy my house.  Whew.  No celebrations yet, as I still need to finish installing all the floor and door moulding and 5 doors, but it does feel good getting all the inspections complete.  For this milestone occasion I decided to hang Christmas decorations.

20191130_160926.jpgI’m not a post Christmas sales shopper, but I got the wreaths at Home Depot on clearance last year.  Regular $49.99 and I got for $12,50.  I had to go to three different stores to get all I needed, but it was worth it.  The wreaths have battery powered LED lights and can run constantly, 6 hours on/18 hours off, or off.

To dress them up a purchased ribbons and red berry garland from Michael’s.  It was a cold and raining day when I hung them and I was able to do it all from the inside of the house just by lowering the upper window sash.  Eyelet hooks drilled into the center of the outside frame allowed me to hang the wreaths for the inside via transparent wire capped with electrical connectors.

The snowman I’ve had since a child.  It’s over 40 years old.

Kitchen Complete. First Thanksgiving.

I moved into my house on November 17, 2018 without a functioning kitchen or bathroom.  Fast forward one year and the kitchen is finally 100% complete.  Finishing and placing the built-in was the primary reason the kitchen didn’t reach this status sooner.  The crown moulding for the cabinet over the refrigerator could not be installed until it was in place.  My Jack of all trades, Tom Milfeld, was able to make quick work of the final run.  Because the wall ended into the hall he had to create a finished end by boxing around the corner.  He’s fantastic.

Before:

After:

You may notice the window trim is up in the dining room.  With the kitchen done and my desire to host Thanksgiving I felt compelled to make the dining room more complete, so I forged through the piles in my basement and found the window trim for all of the first floor windows, 9 windows.  I got 7 done before Thanksgiving and it made a world of difference in making the house look finished.  The windows are at eye level and without the moulding looked like eye sores.

My regular readers know my process for cleaning up my wood.  These windows were in far worst shape than the upstairs windows.  I had to glue many cracks or broken off pieces and even create filler pieces before I started my regime of denatured alcohol, stain and/or Restore-A-Finish, followed by Howard’s Feed and Wax.

One of the aprons was completely missing it trim (not sure of the proper name), so I found something that was a close match at Lowes.  Once stained the difference was neglible.  That is the top of the apron which is directly under the window seal, barely seen.  A normal person probably wouldn’t bother to replace it.  I’m not normal.

Before hanging the moulding I caulked every crack and seam of the window frame.  You could feel the air and cold around every window.  I still have the two office windows to install, so I’ll share pics on where I caulked when I post “Windows Complete”.  For now I’m just amazed on how the moulding transformed the look of the rooms.

The rug, Safavieh Evoke Quinn Vintage Boho Medallion Distressed, I ordered it from Overstock.com  I’ve been stepping over the rolled up rug still in its plastic for months.  I’m pretty sure I’ve surpassed the period to return it, so I’m glad I like it.  The different shades of blue pick up the cabinets and wall and the splattering of  grey ties in with the living room.  I can’t wait to start working on my dining room table.

Diner was great.  I cooked my first turkey in a convection oven.  I got a fresh Amish turkey from Country Meat Co. on Findlay Market.  I did a dry brine method with seasoning from Colonel De Gormet Herbs & Spices, also at Findlay.  Sea Salt, Brown Sugar and the Colonels’ Simon and Garfunkel and Turkey/Chicken rub.  It was awesome (no cooked bird pics) and the turkey and noodle soup I’m cooking tomorrow will be even better thanks to all those spices.

Master Bath, Functionally Complete

What a journey. I still need to find towel racks and get them installed, but it is an official 4 piece functioning bathroom and tomorrow I will call the city to get my final plumbing inspection.

The shower has been reworked and refitted. The Signature Hardware knobs, which match the sink and tub filler, and hand held sprayer are the only remaining reminders of what went down. If you look real close you can see where I nicked a few pieces of the surrounding tile, but all and all removing the body sprays completely was fairly simple. My Ridgid JobMax tool with a grout grinder attached made quick time of the work.

I decided to rework the diverter valve. Of the three ports on the top, I caped off the middle (housed the wall shower head) and moved the wall shower head down to the single port location where the body sprays once were. Doing this 1) put the head I’ll use daily on a port by itself, so easy direct access, and 2) I can now have the wall and rain shower heads work simultaneously.

I replaced the Signature Hardware shower heads with Hansgrohe Raindance S models. I didn’t leave it to chance; I actually went into a local showroom and tested several before selecting these units. I saved over $200 by ordering them through Build.com and not purchasing them from showroom retailer.

The wall shower unit is Raindance S Multi Function 2.5 GPM Shower Head. There was nothing wrong with the Signature Hardware wall shower unit, but since I lost the multiple body sprays I wanted a multi-function shower head. The WhirlAir massage setting feels awesome and the RainAir setting has a tingling sensation on my skin. Like taking a shower in club soda. The rain shower head is the Raindance S Rain 2.5 GPM Shower Head. Again, nothing wrong with the Signature Hardware fixture, but I wanted the two heads to match. I washed my hair last night and tried running both heads. Slight reduction in water flow, but still a nice shower experience.

A city licensed plumber installed the tub for me. I’m very glad I did not decide to install it myself. I didn’t have the tools they used, would not have known how to properly cut the pipe, so a very good $300 investment. I need to give the caulk tonight to set up, but I’m taking that puppy for a test ride tomorrow night. It’s been a long time in the making. This was the very first fixture purchase.

BEFORE

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Master Bath (Future walk-in shower/free standing tub)

AFTER

Did reality match the caption of the before picture typed almost two years ago. I think so!

That Section Looks Good

It’s going to look awesome when complete.  The wall tiles are 4×16 and I purchased them from the Tile Shop, Imperial Bone Gloss Ceramic.  The skirting around the tub also came from Tile Shop.  The grout is Superior Pro-Grout Excel in Dessert Sand.

The floor tile is the mosaic tile that matches the hexagon tile I put in the tub area.  I fell in love with the Isla King Wood tile when I stumbled across it on Pinterest.  It’s an Italian tile and it was a splurge that I justified because I put in the labor.  I was fortunate to find the tub floor tile online at Mission Stone and Tile.  With shipping it was several hundred dollars cheaper than JP Flooring, a local vendor.  I had selected a 2×2 hexagon tile from the Tile Shop that would compliment the tub area, but Mike Tanner’s installer suggested that I go with a square shape tile, less waste and time to install.  The Tile Shop had a 2×2 square mosaic, but it was only a couple of dollars less than the King Wood mosaic, which is what I really wanted.  I only needed 23 sf.  Even though I had to pay for installation, it was less than $100 in material cost increase, so I went for it.  Unfortunately Mission Stone and Tile did not carry the mosaic, so I ordered it from JP Flooring.

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