Nobody's Little Mrs.

Tried and True Beauty

If you’re anything like me you love trying new beauty products (and you also probably have a drawer full of products that completely missed the mark). But of the years, some of the best, most consistent products I’ve used have been around for a long time and for good reason. A few of these are drugstore items, some are designer, but all of them are worth keeping on hand.


From left to right, top to bottom:

1. Kiehl’s Creme de Corps is a very rich, luxurious body lotion that you skin will just drink right in. A little goes a long way, so while it’s somewhat pricey, it will las you a while. It also comes in a thicker, cream version, available in a tub, which is great for deep moisturizing for hands, feet, knees, and elbows. The bottle pictured is the original Creme de Corps, but the product has now grown into a product line including a moisturizing creme (in a jar) and new scents.
2. Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream Skin Protectant  Also a very rich cream, this product from Elizabeth Arden is glycerin-based, so it’s more like vaseline, and works wonders with very dry skin. You can use it on your face (though I would be very sparing–just a dab will do), hands, and lips. It’s great if you ever moisturize your hand and feet overnight with gloves and socks. 
3. Queen Helene Mint Julep Masque This is a great drugstore classic. (They have updated the packaging design though, and I’m not a huge fan of the retro styling; which is odd, because normally I like retro looks.) It actually does smell a bit minty and it certainly is very green, but most of all it does wonders to clear blackheads, and shrink pores. You’re just a few dollars away from clear pores and fresher skin. (I have also been known to use it as an overnight spot treatment for blemishes if I don’t have my regular treatments on hand and found it to work well in that capacity, too.)
4. Mario Badescu Cucumber Cleansing Lotion Mario Badescu was the first place I ever went to have a facial as a teenager in New York and the first “grown-up” skin care products I ever used. I like the Cucumber Cleansing Lotion because it is refreshing and cooling on the skin–and though it’s a rather gentle cleanser, it’s a very effective one as well. These days I use more potent, anti-aging cleansers, but I like to keep some of this on hand for days when I want to take it easy on my skin.
5. Mario Badescu Drying Lotion You may have seen similar products to Mario Badescu’s Drying Lotion, but this is the original, real deal. The key to using this is simple–Do Not Shake! The type on the label is terribly small, so I would’t blame you if you skipped it, but this product is not meant to be shaken. Using a cotton swab to dip into the bottom, you then just dot  it onto blemishes overnight (or when you’re not leaving the house). I will caution you to be careful of getting carried away and dotting every tiny blemish you see; it is after all a drying product and you don’t want to trade a blemish for dry skin. Not to mention you don’t want to go to bed looking like constellations in the night sky.
6. Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion This moisturizer from Clinique is a staple. It’s lightweight and gentle, works well for all skin types, and is perfect for summer/warm weather use. Clinique has since added a richer, Dramatically Different Moisturizing Cream, which would be better for very dry skin, or in winter/cold weather.
7. Elizabeth Arden Millenium Eye Renewal Cream I love this eye cream. It’s rich and balm-y, but not too rich to be too heavy for the sensitive skin around our eyes. Best of all, it really does improve the look of fine lines and wrinkles around. 
8. Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Lipcare Stick The Eight Hour line expanded to include this lip care stick, and I love keeping this in my purse for an extra dose of moisture. The line also includes a small pot of Eight Hour Lip Balm which is great, but sometimes a lipstick is easier.
9. Rosebud Lip Salve Keep one in your car, one in your purse, and one on your bedside table. This salve will keep your lips soft and smooth–and give you a just the subtlest tint of rose. 
10. Benefit Benetint I am a big fan of liquid makeup and Benetint is perfect for adding a rosy glow to your skin. As light as water, you won’t even feel like you’re wearing makeup. It’s great anytime–and you can easily use it with makeup–but alone it’s just right for active days, outdoors or in.
11. Benefit Lemon Aid If you’re like me–you have very translucent skin around your eyes and you don’t like to wear eye makeup daily–then this product is a must-have. Used alone, this lemon-colored cream spreads smoothly over your eyelid and instantly brightening your eyes and hiding any natural shadows and darkness. Alternately, used under eye makeup it provides a beautiful base for long-lasting color.
12. Maybelline Great Lash Mascara I don’t even think this one needs an explanation. It was likely your first mascara and it’s still one of the best.
13. Givenchy Kajal Eyeliner This smooth black liner is perfect for a smokey eye or for my favorite look, a simple swipe along the upper lashes for a winged “cat eye” look.
14. and 15.  NARS “Jungle Red” Lipstick and NARS “Jungle Red” Nail Polish An “it” color since its inclusion in the 1939 move The Women, NARS “Jungle Red” is a beautiful, deep red color that will go with everything. Always.
16.  Chanel No. 5 Eau de Parfum The classic of classics, there’s really nothing I can say about Chanel No. 5 that hasn’t been said in the nearly one hundred years since its release. It’s definitely not for everyone, but everyone should be familiar with this legendary scent.
17. Clarins Beauty Flash Balm Pretty much the first-ever “BB” cream, this beautiful cream give a perfect dewey glow to your skin. Sound counterintuitive, but use just a tiny bit over your makeup.
18. Benefit High Beam Far and away my favorite highlighter, the pink tone reflects light beautifully. A great year-round addition to your beauty routine, it works when your pale or have that just-back-from-vacation color. This liquid is applied with a nail polish-sized brush so it’s easily applied and blended. You can apply it as a final touch over your makeup, or alone if you’re going makeup-free.
19. Guerlain Meteorites These little round light-reflecting beads have been around for a long time–so you may have memories of your mom using them. They provide a powder finish and highlighting in one. Over the years they’ve been refined and now come in several shades to compliment your skin, as well as a bronzing shade. 
20. Essie “Ballet Slippers” Nail Polish When I first started getting manicures this was my go-to color. Pale, but not white; pink, but not too girly, it gives a natural but elegant look for day-to-night wear.
21. Lolita Lempicka Eau de Parfum I discovered the original Lolita Lempicka fragrance in the duty-free shop in at Pearson Airport in Toronto and I have loved it now for well over a decade. Created with elegant floral notes of Ivy, Aniseed, and Violet; complimented by aromas of Cherry, Vanilla, Praline, and Tonka Bean; and finished with Iris and Musk, this floral scent is a classic. Lolita Lempicka has expanded its fragrance collection over the years, so if the original scent is not your style, you’ll likely find another to suit your tastes.

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Gifts for Your Mom(s)

Don't Forget Mother's Day!



I know you’re probably busy mixing mint juleps for your Kentucky Derby party today, but before post time, be sure that you’re ready for Mother’s Day tomorrow. If you haven’t yet, there’s still time to find the right gift to celebrate the mom(s) in your life!

Happy Mother’s Day–to all the many and varied kinds of mothers out there!

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Shelf Life: January and February

I’ve made some headway on my Shelf Life Catch-Up goals. (Not a lot, but some.)

Here are some quick reviews:

FICTION (Novella):

The Grownup, by Gillian Flynn

I’ve been rapt by everything of Gillian Flynn’s that I’ve read, and this novella is no exception. In the span of a mere 62 pages, Flynn manages to draw you in, make you curious, give you goosebumps, surprise you, and make you question everything. And then make you question everything again. Her characters are so well-developed they are recognizable, knowable, but all untrustworthy enough to keep you questioning them well past the last page.



Being Relational: The Seven Ways to Quality Interaction and Lasting Change
by Louise Phipps Senft and William 

(Technically, I read this in the fall, but I’ve referred back to it so many times since I’m not willing to take it off the shelf just yet.) Whether you are looking to improve your business, social, or personal relationships, Being Relational should be at the top of your reading list.  A self-improvement book on the surface, it carries a very important message about the good that can come for all when, instead focusing on “winning” in our dealings with others, we focus on sharing the win with the other party (or parties) involved–on creating a win-win result in every interaction.  Taking the spotlight off the transaction and putting it on the relationship, the Senfts (who, between them, have decades of experience as mediators and negotiators) have outlined not only a way to improve our personal experience, but a philosophy that can change our society one relationship at a time.


Plumdog, by Emma Chichester Clark

Meet Plum, a “whoosell” (Whippet, Poodle, Jack Russell mix). At times, brave, at times crafty, and always lovable, Plum has been entertaining readers with his stories and antics on the blog Emma keeps for him (of the same name). But whether or not you are familiar with his blog, you will love Plumdog, the beautifully full-color illustrated (by Ms. Clark) diary of a year in the life of Plum. Starting with his new year resolutions (which include “To be braver” and “Not to unstuff my new toys immediately”) and throughout the seasons you will fall in love with Plum and become remarkably involved in his four-legged life and learn a thing or two from his personal dogma.



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Shelf Life: Catching Up

The point of books is to have way too many but to always feel you never have enough.

-Louise Erdrich

I read the quote above a couple of months ago and I can completely relate. If that is the point of books, then I get it.  In fact, if the shelves and stacks and boxes of books that I see at every turn in my home are testament, I live it.

For as long as I can remember I have been a bibliophile. I love books–everything about them. Most of all I love falling into them and losing myself, learning something, or being inspired. Sometimes even all three.

I am never without reading material and usually I read a couple of things simultaneously. I know that reading more than one book at a time sounds odd to some, but I have fiction books that I read before bed or when I need a break from work or when I have some time to relax;  not to mention non-fiction that I read for business reasons, health research, educational purposes, etc. And I always have something on me to read if I find myself with a few  minutes to spare, waiting on someone or something, or if I need a brief escape.

I devour magazines of all kinds, literary journals,  and my daily Wall Street Journal (on paper, thank you very much). And though I thought I would never succumb, I did eventually buy an e-reader years ago, which has since been augmented by apps on my tablet and smartphone, so I really always have reading material on hand.  (I also keep a book of short stories in my car. . . just in case.)

Sometimes, all of this reading makes me feel like I might come to a similar end as Cervantes’ Don Quixote, who “from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”

With all my reading, you’d think I wouldn’t have an unread book in the house. But I do have a few. Actually, more than a few. Okay, okay . . . a lot more than a few. I’m know I’m not the only reader out there who has a hard time keeping up with their “to read” list.

But lately, the reading I do for my work as a book editor has taken up so much time that my pleasure reading has waned, much to my dismay. The bookcase in my office is overfull and I have stacks in other rooms as well. Books are almost literally closing in around me. It seems the occasion to catch up on my reading is long overdue. No time like the present, I say.

So, starting with my office bookcase, I’m going to make an effort to catch up–or at least make a significant dent in my ever-growing cumulative page count.

Here’s what my bookcase looks like now:


I know . . . overwhelming.

After removing the books I’ve read, and some of my reference books,  this is what i looks like:


I’ve left some reference books as well as some volumes that I’ve read but refer to from time to time on the shelves, but those only take up about two shelves.

Still  plenty  to read.

And that’s what I’m going to do. Read. . . . .More. . . . A lot more.

I’ve never been one for New Year’s resolutions. But  in the case of my reading backlog, I think I owe it to my bookshelf to commit to reading, if not all, then at least a lion’s share of the volumes still waiting. So come January, get ready for more reviews and recommendations and hopefully, we’ll watch the bookshelf’s unread contents will slowly dwindle together.

Wish me luck!

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No Weekend Getaway at Sara Taylor’s THE SHORE


When I first started reading Sara Taylor’s The Shore, I was unsure what to expect, but one thing it could never have been was a peaceful escape in an idyllic island community.

Spanning centuries, Taylor follows two island families through generations as they survive the struggles of poverty, isolation, and the burdens of community.

At times it’s easy to forget that the stories are interconnected, each perfectly able to stand on its own. (Thankfully for me the author includes family trees at the front of the book for reference.)

The Shore‘s characters are real people, their emotions, desires, worries, insecurities, strengths, and weaknesses all masterfully crafted by Taylor. The relationships between the characters are portrayed with taut and meaningful dialogue, which exposes their fragility and tenuous nature.

It’s not always an easy read–characters experience domestic violence, drug abuse, rape, and and an epidemic, for example. And there’s a deep sense of loneliness in many of the characters that comes through very clearly.

Most significant, though, is the relationship that the residents have with the Shore itself. All of the characters are, each in their own way, bound to the land and the generations of family history. It is a love-hate relationship that in no small part defines them all.





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If Wishes Were Horses . . .


The first time I heard this expression “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride,” I didn’t get it right away–I thought I was missing something. Then I realized it tells us “don’t bother simply wishing for something if you’re not going to do anything about making it happen.” In other words, wishes alone are folly.

Sounds like good advice. After all, a wish is often described as a “goal without a plan,” and I don’t know about you, but in my experience, not having a plan is a terrible plan.


Then there’s the cautionary proverb that tells us to be careful what we wish for, lest we get it.

It’s true we need to take actual care in choosing our words. Our words are powerful because they are expressions of our thoughts, and because they become our actions. Our actions determine our reality.

When talking about wishes, it’s difficult to forget the traditions of wishing upon shooting stars or breaking off the better half of the wishbone on a Thanksgiving turkey.  Think about that, though–the idea of having a wish come true is considered so unrealistic that it’s been  simply left up to the random chance of seeing the elusive shooting star or having a better grip on the fourth Thursday of November.

So I’ve tried to not use the word wish so often. I’ve curbed that kind of thinking and made an effort to replace it with a thought process that is more creative, one that will help me actually create my life the way I want to live it.

In practical terms, there’s no more waiting for opportunities to present themselves, no more wishing for things or experiences; there is only creating the opportunities for myself and making my own plans.

But I don’t mean to imply that wishes are bad,  or that I’ve stopped wishing. Having a wish or a dream is important–anything really is possible. It’s just that I think it’s a good idea to do more than wish. Only sometimes it can be difficult to remember that . . .  old habits do indeed die hard.

Wish necklace

Recently I came across this necklace in a shop.

And as much as I had been thinking about wishes, it made me smile.

There is was–a way to remind myself that wishes are good–and pretty. But they are things of which we must be conscious, with which  we must be careful, and which we should actively wear if we want to see them realized.

So, yes, I bought it.

And when I put it on I think about what I wish for, what my goals are.

Most importantly, I think about how I make wishes, and what I will do to make my wishes and goals as real as the one around my neck.


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Dear Wifey: Needling Neighbor No Longer Amusing

Dear Wifey,

I find myself in something of an awkward situation. 

A neighbor of ours, who also does business with my husband from time to time, repeatedly feels the need to tell me what a “saint” I am for “putting up with” my husband of twenty years.

At first it was comical. In conversation when my husband would come up she would say “I just don’t know how you put up with him,” or “You really are a saint to stay married to him,” and I would just laugh it off. What else was I supposed to do?

I figured it was better to just laugh off the comments as  aren’t-men-just-incomprehensible quips and let it go.  (Honestly, I don’t even feel that way, I just wanted to move past the comment and change the subject.)

But it’s been  months now and she keeps making comments like these, which, I have to admit, I am beginning to find not only intrusive, but also very hurtful.

Last week, while working with my husband, she actually said it to him in the form of “I really don’t know how your wife manages to put up with you.” Now I feel like she’s giving my husband the impression that I complain about him (which I don’t) to her (which I would never, even if I were so inclined as to discuss my marriage with anyone). I certainly don’t want her implying to him that I have.

I’ve never so much as uttered a bad word about my husband to this person, and while I was willing to laugh off her comments at first, I’m not any longer. Frankly, I’m tired of someone who is really not a close personal friend of either mine or my husband’s taking the liberty to comment and judge our marriage.

 On more than one occasion I’ve been tempted to just tell her to mind her won business, but we do have to see her and I don’t want to damage her working relationship with my husband. How would you suggest I address this situation?

Thank you any advice you can share,

No Longer Laughing


Dear No Longer Laughing,

It’s understandable why you feel awkward about this. Your neighbor/husband’s business associate has taken to joking to you about your husband, and consequently about your marriage.  I, too, would have reacted as you did at first, trying to laugh it off and change the subject. Now she has crossed a line, making the joke not only to you, but also to your husband.

This is no small matter. While it may seem to her that she’s just being funny, she’s really sowing small seeds of potential discord in your relationship. 

Even if everything is fine in your marriage, even if you both feel like your marriage is strong, we are all human and at any time can be susceptible to suggestion. And the repeated “joke” of what a saint you are for “putting up with your husband” can eventually make you start to become overly critical of your spouse. Similarly, if she keeps telling him how she doesn’t know how you put up with him, he might eventually begin to believe that you have been airing your marital laundry to her.

I’m not sure why people think it’s OK to offer an unsolicited opinion on someone else’s relationship–especially when it’s negative and when they are not a close friend or family member–but it’s not an uncommon practice, unfortunately.Whatever her motivation, it’s entirely inappropriate and should be addressed.

First and foremost, I think you should discuss it with your husband. Since your husband does business with this person, you should be on the same page about confronting her.   

Personally, I would wait until she mentions it again and then ask her simply why she makes those jokes. I would tell her that you don’t find them funny and in fact they are insulting to your husband and hurtful to you. 

Let her know that you don’t want to endanger your relationship as neighbors nor her working relationship with your husband, but that you’d like her to stop  making her jokes. Explain to her that it’s just not funny.

There is a risk that she will get offended by your request, but you’ll minimize it by being tactful and not accusatory. But if she does get offended remember that her reaction is beyond your control. If her comments are negatively affecting you and/or your marriage, I think it’s a risk worth taking. 





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Bye Bye Summer

Even though the last day of summer is technically Septmeber 22, for all intents and purposes, Labor Day marks the end of the season for most people I know.

After that it’s back to school, back to work, back to year-round responsibilities. Vacation is over, spontenaeity becomes less of an option, and our days are spent more indoors than out.

So before you say goodbye to summer for 2015, I suggest at least one more meal al fresco to soak up as much sunshine as you can. Gather some friends, stock up a picnic basket and don’t forget your sunscreen!


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Are you there, Apple? It’s Me, Wifey. (Or: Why My iPhone Makes Me Sad)

I’ve been both an iPhone user and an Android user. I waited a bit from the start to hop on the iPhone bandwagon, but once I got on I was hooked on the myriad apps that were “there for that.” (Seriously, I had so many apps I ran out of room for more.)

I loved my iPhone, but Android phones were catching up (and overtaking) iPhone really fast. I was seduced by the size and resolution of the Samsung Galaxy Note II’s screen and its stylus.



It took a little while to get used to, but the brilliance of the screen kept me transfixed. Finally it looked like Apple was reclaiming their spot at the top of the smartphone food chain. The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus were as big, or bigger, in size than most of their Android counterparts, and whispers of an Apple Watch were being heard.


While I love my Note II,  it was getting on in months (let’s face it, when was the last time your smartphone lasted for more than a couple of years?) and not working at top speed. After a good deal of fence-sitting, I broke down and went the way of iPhone 6 for my personal mobile phone, while keeping my Note II as a backup.


Apple had won me back.

And though Apple may be happy with my and other’s reversion back into the iPhone fold, I’m not. At all. On the contrary, I am gravely disappointed in iPhone, and Apple in general.

Now let me tell you why.

  1. If you’re on a call on the iPhone you can’t use any other app requiring data.  Really? Android makes multitasking easy–put your call on speaker or Bluetooth and you can surf the internet, use your GPS, post on social media. On your iPhone you’ll just have to wait. (Can you imagine?!)
  2. iPhone’s keyboard is not user-friendly. This is really surprising to me since Apple has always been so proud of their user-friendly operating system. Android’s keyboard includes the row numbers above the qwerty keyboard as well as  “.com” and “@” keys so there’s no constant switching back and forth between keyboards. (It’s seamless, really.)
  3. Android has a “back” button! I don’t know about you, but I find it inconvenient to have to constantly close out and reopen apps and windows on my iPhone. With Android’s handy “back” button, there is very little of that senseless back and forth. Back on an iPhone now it’s not at all rare to see my trying to tap a “back” button that’s not there. (It’s rather sad.)
  4. iPhone has terrible auto-correct and is very slow to learn your frequently used words (if it ever does). My name is not a common one. I won’t be finding any cans of Coca-Cola with Melaina emblazoned on them. That’s fine. However, I’ve had my iPhone 6 all year and it still doesn’t remember my name or automatically capitalize it. (Thanks, Apple.)
    On the other hand, Android has a row above the keyboard which suggests three words as you type. But here is the best part: Android actually learns your writing patterns and if you use the same phrases often it will automatically suggest the next word (among the three choices it provides) in your phrase. If you often text “Be there in five” before you know it you will simply type “Be” and then just tap on “there,” “in,” and “five.” (Who doesn’t like being catered to?)
  5. Android remembers your info to fill in forms; iPhone has amnesia. When you need to fill out a form for a mailing list or enter your shipping address Android has your back. Each time I tap on a field labeled “email”  to fill it in, my email address magically appears above the keyboard as one of the suggested word choices. I don’t remember the last time I had to type it out in full on my Android. On my iPhone? Every. Single. Time. (Bad Apple!)
  6. FaceTime exclusivity. Last, but not at all least: why can’t Apple let iPhone users FaceTime with people on other smartphones. I’m sorry, I know I’m not a hardware or software designer, but I refuse to believe that video-chat across platforms is unattainable. (Get on the inclusivity bandwagon, Apple!)

So while I may be an iPhone user, I’m not at all a happy about it.

To be fair, Android phones aren’t perfect, but they are much more user-friendly, much more intuitive, and quite frankly, smarter than the iPhone. Considering Apple was on the cutting edge with the original iPhone, how much have their products really evolved?

They’ve become bigger and faster; the camera resolution has increased; they’ve developed ApplePay, sure. But what innovation is there really? And the Apple Watch? Please…Samsung has had a watch for years and it’s a standalone device so you can leave your phone at home.

And by the way, the minute that Apple Watch was released an Apple Watch app magically appeared on my iPhone and I cannot delete it! (I don’t know about you, but I don’t like anyone forcing me to have anything I don’t want.)

But maybe the most frustrating thing about iPhone is that other than wallpaper, everyone’s phones look exactly alike: page after page of app icons, maybe a folder or two.  I much prefer Android’s customizable features (especially the available widgets) and their motto of  “Be together, not the same.”

Is is just me? Any other dissatisfied iPhone users out there?

Are you listening, Apple?


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Rainy Day Reading

It’s been raining on and off all week (mostly on), but today the rain has yet to stop. Personally, I don’t mind at all. I like the rain; I like way rain makes everything smell, the coolness of the air, and I love the sound of the rain on the roof. If I can get a thunder and lightning as well, I’m in heaven.

rainydayMost of us don’t have much during our busy week to curl up and read a book, but the downpour changed my mind about riding today and so I’ve taken the opportunity to catch up on my reading (no matter how much I read, I never seem to keep up!).

While it’s no matter to me how long or short a book is, sometimes it’s especially satisfying to be able to start something you can finish in one sitting. So I’ve compiled a short list of good reads that you can read in one sitting (though I guess that depends on how long you’d like to sit, I suppose).

The following are older titles, all of which are rather short (novellas, really).

84 Charing Cross Road  by Helen Hanff

Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

The End of the Alphabet by C. S. Richardson

Walks with Men by Ann Beattie

Disquiet by Julia Leigh

The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett

The Alchemist by Paul Coelho

If you’re in for hurricane weather, here are some longer titles that nonetheless, kept me sitting still through to the very last page.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

The Silent Wife by A. S. A. Harrison

Superstition by David Ambrose

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness (it was a very rainy day–and night!)

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s* Stone by J. K. Rowling (*I read the Canadian, aka British editions of the series)

For even more suggestions, visit this link at Read It Forward–a great source for finding your next good read!

What books kept you reading until the very last word? Please share!!


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