Tuesday, April 07, 2020

Random Acts of Mail Delivery Kindness!

This arrived yesterday, with no return address.

When I picked up the box, along with all of the other routine package deliveries I knew I didn’t order this -

No return address other than the company that shipped it.  Little note on the enclosed invoice, but no name as to who sent it – in fact, I think they ran out of the alloted number of letters they could use because the message was cut off. 

Maybe there was a name – but it got cut off too by the limited number of characters?

This beautiful color – and the words on the front.  it couldn’t have come at a better time.  Thank you so much for thinking of me and sending me this bit of cheer right when I needed it.  All of these words are reminders of things that keep us putting one foot in front of the other, day by day by day.

These are the things that will see us through.
I was having kind of an emotional morning – in the privacy of the QPO, just me and the cats.  No one would have been aware of the struggle within. 

And it is the same struggle that we are ALL having.  I worry about my son in Portland.  He is kind of a basket case as his work has stopped for now.  He is an Uber/Lyft driver.  And I applaud his decision to stay off the road for the next couple of weeks as Covid 19 blows through.  But he has bills to pay and is worried about catching things on grocery runs, etc.

I wished he could just get on a plane and come home and shelter here.  But he can’t.  Because he could spread something, catch something, bring it to us. He has to stay put.

Cat care package with some fabric for their mama!

This box came from Susan, and I quickly sent her off an email thanks – how nice is it that even the kitties are being thought of and cared for by others.  And that packing “material?” Perfect!

All of this – just ALL of this – had me spending part of my afternoon doing something that up until yesterday I really didn’t have time to do because of, well – PUPPY.  And getting mail order out.  And MORE PUPPY.  and our Unity Quilt Along Part 2 needing to go live yesterday.

I started in on mask-making.

For my sons.  Because I love them.

And I worry about them being out there, as mothers do.

A message from the Czech Republic to us.

This one has gathers on the side -

It has one long halter type strap that goes through casings on the sides..

Video tutorial:

I didn't have the soft laundry cord, so I simply cut 1 1/2'' strips and pressed those 1/4'' in on each side, and then folded the whole thing in half and stitched it.

Had I been home – I would have made cording from a recycled tee shirt.

Things I liked about this mask:

Size adjustable for family members.

Nothing to buy like elastic. (Fabric ties)

Easier to sew with no pleats (ties go through side casings to gather and form fit to face.)

This one has a filter pocket and 3 layers of fabric because of how the filter opening is made.

No nose wire because I don't know how those will wash/dry.

Running out to buy supplies is not an option.  There is no Michaels or Joann store anywhere near – closest ones are 1 to 1 1/2 hours drive away.  I have no floral wire, no pipe cleaners, no twist ties, nothing on hand that would do the job of a nose wire.

Is a nose wire necessary if the nose pads on my glasses holds the fabric in place?

Hey – I have that double-stick poster tape for seam guides! LOL!

As to the “My glasses fog up” problem.  I use an anti-fog glasses spray regularly so fogging isn’t a problem.

And while I cut and sewed – this was going on behind the scenes!

You didn’t really need this invoice box right away, did you mom?

This one fit well.

It’s large enough for manly sized faces.

There is a loop that secures behind your neck (See video) and the ties come up through the side casings to tie over your ears behind your head.

It fit snuggly against my cheeks, no gaping.

I wore this one to the grocery store because I was out of milk and other fresh items that needed to be replaced. 

Parking lot less than half full.

This is a good sign.

There were minimal customers in the store, but only ONE of them wearing a mask. None of the clerks are wearing masks either.

After the grocery store I ran to the end of the strip mall and went into Dollar General for some things that the grocery store did not have.

Both clerks there were wearing masks. Hooray!

I was told, however, that they have to supply their own masks if they want to wear one.

Here are these clerks in the front lines of humanity working because they are deemed "essential" and because they need their jobs to make ends meet but the company who profits from their labor is not protecting them.

I have watched and looked at nearly 100 different tutorials for mask making.

Some are more difficult than others.  Some may have a greater protection rate than others. Some require difficult to find materials.

Sometimes it's enough to make you want to throw your hands in the air and say why bother when they then tell you that they won’t prevent you from catching Covid-19 and will only provide minimal protection? 
#dothis #dontdothat #notthatway #doitthisway

And the answer comes:

Because anything is better than nothing.

And so I will continue.  Maybe just one or two a day to give out as I see a need.  The USPS driver.  The postmaster in the local post office.  The FedEx driver.  The UPS driver.

And I still don’t know which ones are best – and I’m tired of the voices telling me “Do it this way, that one is no good, wrong fabric, use this instead”

This beautiful pink blooming tree was in the parking lot.

It has no idea that all of this is going on. It just follows its own instinct and blooms.

I tried this one last night.  It was faster – but I needed to make it larger for my boy’s faces.  I ended up using  a rectangle 9’’ x 18’’ so I could get 2 from a fat quarter.

And those of you out there saying “But it needs to be 2 different fabrics so they don’t put the outside side against their face!”…Well, the filter pocket opening will let you know which is the inside.  Or make an X on the wrong side with a sharpie as a reminder.

(Sorry, the stress is getting to me and I just typed out a bunch of snarky, took a deep breath and deleted it.)

And I cut up a tee shirt to make the ties:

This shirt had no side seams, so each cut was a loop which made it easy to pull and stretch after cutting and before trimming to length.

Cut 1’’ strips across the body of the shirt. Pull tightly to stretch the strips into soft curled cording.  I made 3 masks with this cording last night, and this is still the pile left over for more.

I cut my strips 17’’ in length after measuring what needs to go around The Hubster’s big head.  LOL. 

Blue Batik from our recent Quilty Box!

Things about pleats.  They are fiddly.  But instead of all of this measuring and pinning and pinning and measuring, I found I could easily free-hand fold 3 pleats, pin them in place (No wonder-clips – they made it harder!) and sew.

They don’t have to be perfect. This isn't couture sewing! You can eyeball it after doing a couple with the fiddly pin method.  It gets easier.

My preferred machine to use?  The Singer 201 with the walking foot for the pleat sewing.  The 301 did okay, but boy, that is a lot of layers.

I may experiment on this one farther – I liked how the top mask in this post had a halter loop for your neck and one tie above the ears.  If I can add simple casings to the sides of this mask, I might try to hybrid the two together.

As far as filters go – you can use non-woven interfacing, wash and cut up a non-woven reusable shopping bag, use blue non-woven shop towels, even a used dryer sheet will filter.  So will a couple pieces of paper toweling.

Vacuum bags scare me.  Filters are made with fiberglass and you don’t want to breathe that.  Seriously.

And there are all other kinds of advice and know-hows out there to tell you what to do and how to do it – and tell you what not to do and how not to do it making you feeling like you are a complete idiot (which I do.)

And most of all – I sewed masks last night.  And I let the tears fall that we are even having to do this AT ALL.  And then I turned it around and poured on the gratitude because we CAN do this.  For ourselves, for our families, for our loved ones -

And maybe for the cashiers at Dollar General because they are trying to make ends meet and masks are hard to come by.

And just maybe some cheery fabric ones won’t look so scary as we get used to this new normal.

Today – same as yesterday.  Mail order out, working on round 3 of our Unity Quilt Along, and making more masks!

And we keep on keeping on!

We have to continue to do something to make the most of social distancing!

I have placed my stock of Addicted to Scraps on deep deep discount at just $15.99 (regularly $27.95) and it comes with a free PDF pattern download for my Wanderlust table runner!

If you've been waiting for this book - now is the time. Put your stash to good use while you retreat away at home.

You'll find it in the Quiltville Store along with other goodies you may want to add to your cart - check the NEW category to see what else we've added.

And please let me add my thanks here for keeping my small business running. It is making a huge difference in the lives of my family.

Stay informed, take precautions, stay home, stay safe!

Wash wash wash your hands!

Quiltville Quote of the Day

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that." - Dr Martin Luther King, Jr.

Be the light for someone who needs it.

Light may be found in the mask you give, the phone call you make, the encouragement you offer, the laughter you share via video chat, the text you send, the email with photos.

Be the light - it will light you as well!

Happy Tuesday -


  1. Thanks Bonnie for the simplified mask idea. I am finally going to make one. Stay safe.

  2. Oh Bonnie you sound so much like me! I go from crying about making the masks, to being grateful I can, to being overwhelmed by the many different ways to make them, to seeking solace in Unity and Frolic, and back to crying about the masks again! It's a rollercoaster and we do the best we can. Sending you lots of love!

    1. Thank you for addressing this. I think I have watched all of the videos, made a dozen+ so far, would rather be doing almost anything else, but we are the helpers, aren't we? So, I put on my tee shirt that says: I'd rather be quilting or Quilting is my Therapy and I will be the sunshine today.

    2. I couldn't have described it better! Even as the tears are falling now!

    3. Thanks, Bonnie! I really needed to hear that someone else is sort of on a short tether with all this. I just got through with an emotional email rant to an insurance adjuster regarding storm damage to our house. I was completely undone and in tears but after reading your remarks about gratitude, I find I'm thankful to still have a place to live that I can quarantine in. Be grateful, above all! Thanks

    4. Dear Bonnie thanks now I don't feel like the only one.

  3. Regarding the wire to form over the nose, I have tried various things and 2 work - a coffee bag closure as long as it is plastic - cut it in half for 2 masks. Having run out of that, my husband provided me with some #18 plastic wrapped copper wire. I just sew it in a little pocket at the top of the mask. Works well and helps with the glasses fogging problem.

  4. Hang in there! I'm going to try your method for masks. My machine hates the layers for pleats and I have to force it. The tee shirt loops behind the ears is very comfortable by the way. Marilyn Marks

  5. Dear Bonnie
    Thanks for keeping me smiling with your blog. I am typing this at work, I work in the NHS in England and I am currently waiting for a whole batch of the syringe drivers which I am repairing to finish a test so that they can go back into use. I am not a front line worker but I have redeployed within the department and am re-learning skills I have forgotten, to be of more use than firing off emails. I really appreciate you making me laugh at the moment

  6. Thank you for the common sense advice on the face masks. I have made some for friends and family. Yesterday was a hard day for me too, so instead of sewing face masks, I worked on Part 2 of Unity as a pleasant distraction. Today, I'll be working on face masks again, with T-shirt ties. Thank you for all you do.

  7. Perfect timing, the demo of the mask!!! also, some time ago, you mentioned a ruler that was perfect for your scrap taming system, would you please post info about this handy item? Thanks for ALL you do, keep well, Cats in Carlsbad CA

    1. Cats: check out this link to one of Bonnie's older posts on scrap saver system.
      Rulers are mentioned towards the very last of the post.

  8. I make a couple of masks and hang them on the mail box. A nurse who works at the children's hospital makes her daily walk and takes them. I had a note in the mailbox yesterday-the mail lady would like one. Today I left a mask IN the mail box. For the children's hospital I have been using up dog and cat related prints. Let's face it, I'm never going to be using those in a quilt, which brings up the question-What was I thinking when I purchased that fabric? Stitch a few extra, spread the love and use those "strange" prints in your stash.

  9. Totally agree with you on the stress of all this mask making. I watched so many tutorials and made different designs till I found one I can make that I like. I am making for neighbors, relatives and anyone that needs one and now have been sewing them in my dreams. Or should I say nightmares. I dreamed of being in a public bathroom last night and the toilet paper rolls were pitch black, people had on masks. Have not done any other sewing but masks lately and it's depressing but something I can do to help so I keep going. SO looking forward to normal again.

  10. Love your teeshirt instructions for ties as I am quickly running out of elastic. Thank you for being you.

  11. Wow! Great video from the Czech Republic! Thank you for sharing that. I wish I could broadcast that to the people coming to my town 'vacationing' and completely ignoring any precaution! But oh well....I will pray and make masks for those who are paying heed. I think the best masks are the ones you are most comfortable sewing. Your ideas are useful especially as anything but fabric might be harder to get. Prayers going up for the health and well being of your family. Kudos for your son in Portland trying to put his health as a priority because it actually helps those around him too!

  12. I made the 5 line mask last night to wear for senior shopping. I made it out of batik and boy was that ever hot to wear! I can't imagine putting anything else in the pocket. New respect for those who must wear them on the front lines. My 201 handled the pleats well. Don't let anyone make you feel like an idiot! In browsing all the you tube videos for masks there was one by the surgeon general of the US showing how to fold a piece of t-shirt and use rubber bands to hold it together and for the ear loops. You have more knowledge,common sense and heart than most!

  13. Bonnie don't worry about wearing the homemade masks. My daughter is a nurse, she works for a large Heart Center that is part of our local hospital. The hospital is getting all the official masks for the front line workers. They put out a call for homemade masks for the rest of the staff. All the quilters in the area are sewing as fast as we can.

  14. Everyone just needs to make the style they can make or prefer. Any mask is a good mask. And, testing has shown that two layers of prewashed (pre shrunk) quilters cotton is a pretty good filter. Add a paper towel or such and it's very good. We all just do the best we can. No time for criticizing right now.

  15. I make mine like the first mask video you showed but I am only using 2 pieces thick. I just modified the inside . I have also been using t shirts. I am about to run out so my next is to use jelly roll strips. I have plenty of those. Thanks you , Bonnie. I wish your family well. pam

  16. I loved the video, Bonnie, and shared it on FB. My featherweight had no problem with the pleats on my masks. I need to make some more. Thanks for all the uplifting words and phrases. They are so appreciated. Hugs!!!

  17. My son is also in Portland, and is in Secutity. He has a birthday in a few days and is getting a box full of masks (he needs a weeks worth)for his bus commute. Mamas do what they can.

  18. First, thanks for sharing the kitty photo's, nothing like little helpers. Second, I am a nurse, isolation gear is second nature, I know what "works" and what does not. I am making masks for the rest of my friends and family who do not do direct patient care. Even if it just makes them feel better, that works for me. There are as many manifestations of these as there are people. It is good. Do your best, you will be appreciated for thinking of someone else. Stay safe, be well, it will be over, and though our lives may be a bit different, it will be OK.

  19. Bonnie we love you so much, hang in there. I'm also confused by all the mask designs but was reassured when I learned that the kind of masks we're making are not so much good at keeping the wearer from getting sick as they are for keeping the wearer from unknowingly spreading it. Any mask is better than none to slow the spread. I'm using flannel on the inside and batik on the outside, two layers. I love the tshirt tie idea, will try that. Thanks so much, Bonnie, you're a treasure. We're all just doing our best and giving ourselves a break when the going gets tough. Sharon in Seattle
    BTW, shout out to Cats in Carlsbad, been missing you! Love your comments!

  20. When we're talking about guy-friendly colors/fabrics for masks, it occurs to me that those of us who like to quilt with recycled cotton men's dress shirts already have the perfect stash for that. The plaids and stripes are totally guy-friendly, as long as they're shirt fabric with nice tight weave. Super inexpensive, too. Just a thought.

  21. Your mask is great!! And your tee shirt ties!!!!! I'm like you, do it this way, no... do it this way!! Just DO IT!! Simple or not it does the job. Hugs!!

  22. Anonymous1:57 PM EDT

    I have been making the masks you showed first. The way it is constructed the wire could always be added later through the pocket. I have read studies that say that blue shop towels (on a roll like paper towel) make good filters. 2 to 3 times better than without. I think the towels would hold up in a wash but if not they are replaceable. I like the T shirt ties but haven’t tried it.

  23. I like the simplified mask too. Had made a bunch by specific pattern for health care workers but then hubby asked for one and I found the same pattern you found. It really is easy and I like that only one strap needs to be tied. Funny thing when my husband had to make a Walmart run, one of the men in the automotive department asked about his mask. Hubs said I would make him one too. Of course I did but then thought maybe make some and put in baggies and give out to those I meet without.
    Anyway, the second mask is also one I like. And whoever first mentioned using knit strips "may God bless your richly!" What a time saver.
    Stay healthy everyone. We will get through this!

  24. Thank you, Bonnie, for putting into words so eloquently how I and I'm sure others have been feeling. I watched all the how-to videos, then sat paralyzed with all the information. I think I just needed "permission" to go ahead and make what I could no matter how imperfect, because something is better than nothing...

  25. I am making masks for all of my family who all live in different states and my oldest lives in Japan on a military base. This mask that you are wearing today in your post looks a lot easier to make. I will make those today. I was thinking of coffee filters for the filter inside of the mask....

  26. We do what we can do and trust the rest to Jesus...perfect peace.

  27. I I like being at home. A little dog named Sophie makes me happy. I have a good excuse for not making masks. I hope to make some soon. Thank you for being you. You must have enough energy to run the world!

  28. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, to Bonnie and all the people sewing masks no matter which pattern you are using.

    I am starting to sew masks this afternoon and plan to make as many as I can. I plan to use the pattern on the CDC website.

    I do worry though, my son has a full beard. He will not be able to get a perfect seal around his face, but as I believe the job of the masks is to protect others, i am sure it will provide some coverage. Plus he may well have already had Covid 19. He was not tested, so we do not know for sure.

  29. Bonnie, you're such an inspiration! I happened upon your quilt along after participating in Grunden's quarantine quilt along. I am working on your "Unity" quilt and really enjoying it and your dedication in providing this to help us during this difficult time. More than that, I am enjoying your daily inspirational blog. You give us all hope and laughter through these tough times. Your energy is infectious and "there is a light at the end of the dark tunnel"
    Thank you!

  30. I would like to shine some light on you today to let you know how much you are loved and appreciated.

  31. I have a small quilt shop in my home and was looking forward to being closed, so I could stay in my sewing room to sew too. But that is not how things have played out. First of all, I have to address my customers sewing "emergencies", and now individuals and organizations have put mask making into high gear. So I do what I can to keep everyone working. I haven't made a mask yet, but now I know how I want to proceed with making some for my family and friends...thanks to your posts. Who has time to watch all the tutorials?! Thanks for weeding out the good stuff so I can get some made now too. I shared your post on my business Facebook page so my friends and customers can benefit, once again, from your wisdom. I cannot miss a day of your positive outlook...keep it coming. Linda in Kenora, ON...still following you 11 years after your teaching gig here. Happy for all your success and "good fortune"...you worked hard for it and deserve every bit!

  32. Thank you. Saw this video and made a mask, but my clothesline is stiff. Will cut a t shirt. Johns Hopkins pattern put a pocket on the top center of mask front. They said twill tape or fabric cut 1 1/4" by 4" to make a sideways pocket so you can slip in a wire to pinch at the nose. I have added it to the halter masks.

  33. Bonnie, You are so good with putting feelings into words! I have felt the same way about these masks! I watched what felt like hundreds of videos and then made three different masks...decided on the design that fit the best and went for it...only to find out people don't like that one! Oh well...I shared my light...my PO neighbor will appreciate one I am sure.... Thanks for all your insights quotes and real life! We can do this! Together we can do this!

  34. Thank you, thank you, Bonnie for expressing the heart issue so well. I hit that wall you described last week. And I also found the nurse designed one just last night. Love it. Our neighbor just called and asked if I could make 4 masks for them. Of course! And I love the ideas to leave them for the mail people. We can do this! And I love Unity. She is going to be a beauty! Thanks again.

  35. Oh, Bonnie, I hear you. And I have had so many of the same feelings, including the late night, all alone tears. But here is a bit of good news, or at least something that feels nearly tangible: our hospital system (near Portland, OR) says homemade masks can filter out 60% of the virus. Well, 60% is a a whole lot more than is being filtered with no mask. So, 60% + social distancing should go a long way if one has to go out during this time of Stay At Home except for urgent needs. We sewists can help individuals block 60% of a deadly virus. "That's not nothing", as they say.

  36. I've made just one mask so far, for myself. I used one of the non-woven grocery bags as a lining and batik outside and did the shaped mask. That was a little hard for me because I don't sew clothes or do 3D stuff; I make quilts! There's a lot of leeway with quilts! I did a different color for the inside, but I won't bother for the next one. I'm using metal; we have a ton of stuff like that because my husband is an engineer and hoards engineering-y stuff.

    Last week when I went grocery shopping, only two other people (a couple) had masks. This week, almost everyone wore a mask, or at least a bandana.

    I am going to try a pleated mask next to see if I like that better. I will still use metal and the nonwoven lining. After that, I'll start making them for my little family and my extended family. My hope is to make two sort of matching masks for each person, so if they need to wear one daily there can be one in the wash and one to wear.

    If someone had told us a year ago that this is what life would be like, we probably wouldn't have believed them.

  37. I have drifted away from quilting many years ago (now do yarn) and dug into my considerable stash to begin making masks. WOW. I remember now why I liked quilting, and may, when my masks are complete, go back to it! I love your blog and love what you've done for the "neighborhood" (I live outside of Sparta). Good work - hang in there - would love to get together someday and talk about fiber things - come visit the farm - I have lots of goats and bunnies! stay safe... and thanks for the inspiration.

  38. I made 7 masks a week ago and gave them to the grocery store. As of yet, I've only seen one wear one but they said, they were all taken so I let it roll. I also made a couple for friends. Sunday I made 7, sent 4 to my sister who works in the post office who still didn't have any. Then I get a call from a friend who happens to be the County Clerk, she has to reopen for lawyers to do title searches, "could you make me 8"? I managed to get those done and delivered them Monday afternoon. Then Monday afternoon, she called and asked for her co-worker (who happens to be wife of grocery store owner) and the grocery store wants 20 more! Yikes. So I now have 20 masks in different areas of construction. 4 are done, 7 are ready to pleat and 9 more are ready to start the sewing together. In all this, I haven't had time to make myself one.

  39. Good Morning Bonnie. I took a week off work to do some quilting but here it is, Wednesday morning and no quilting has been accomplished. I have been sewing masks for family and the folks at the AF Base where I work. Of course now that we are 2 weeks into mask making the DOD has put out that the Active Duty need to have dark solid colors...OY! I solved the issue of washing with the wire by adding a small sleeve/pocket to the inside of my masks to allow the wearer to remove the nose piece before washing. Happy stitching...and stay safe! Thank you for all you do...your blog helps keep me sane.

  40. I had purchased a bundle of animal prints from Quilted Twins and often wondered how I would use them. Masks scare little kids, or at least the little kids I know, but a tiger mask, or leopard, or zebra, is something they can relate to. Thanks for that tute, and the T-shirt tie is wonderful. One said we could longitudinally cut some too wide elastic, but mine began to fray. I had pipe cleaners for cat toys.

  41. Thank you Bonnie. I have made masks for my guild and now making simple pleated ones (the Missouri Star pattern) for my family and my neighbors. I worried about doing it "right" and following rules and directions. I appreciate your putting into words what I was feeling and thinking. I had jelly rolls that I wasn't going to use. So I started making my bindings with those. They are bright and colorful and add a bit of cheer when cheer is needed. My sewing room looks like a disaster area as I search through scraps and fat quarters but hey, I can clean later. Thank you again, I so needed to read what you wrote today.

  42. thank you for the tshirt cording idea! I too have thrown my hands in the air about all the how-tos.... I will let the experts make them for the nurses and healthcare workers.... My sewing is good enough for family, friends and neighbors - I gave one to the Schwan man yesterday! So yes - that is what I am thinking of too - all those out there in the world working without one! And the fun ones for the grandkids.... so they can understand and not be afraid... its a hard thing we are doing now... I am both glad and sad that we are here - but I can do this little thing.. I appreciate all your inspiring work! ~~Kay

  43. I made my first mask last night after reading your blog. Actually made six and will work on more today. I like the way the first one fits but didn't like using the clothesline. Tried the tshirt strings and love that. Thanks for your encouragement.

  44. Dear Bonnie, I so enjoy your blog for many reasons. Also have felt paralyzed by "which mask", but have been making thank you cards for the hospital, so don't feel so guilty. Anyway, for a chuckle there is also a couple You Tube mask posts I saw that might really work, not just be funny, for non-sewers: One cut up a sock, another several inches of LulaRoe leggings! That one was complex, the sox looks odd but effective. . .

  45. I am not very computer-literate so this may not qualify to be shown. On Bonnie's daily postings place someone asked about the background batik for BNV Reynold's "Unity". I don't know its name, but when I need batiks which my great local shop doesn't have I go to BatiksPlus.com and can usually find it. Good luck!!

  46. I only began making masks last week because after watching those (probably) same videos, I was overwhelmed, confused, and thought I couldn't figure it out. Then I found one that seemed doable for me, and I got busy. I have distributed to my neighbors, our mail Now I'm making for family & friends who live away, and for any requests I receive. So grateful to have found a way to help during all of this. And so very grateful for being able to stay in touch through modern technology. Imagine how scary this was during the early 1900s. Hang in there.

  47. A fabric mask is better than nothing - YES and keep in mind that they protect us from minor viruses (common colds/flu) and that in turn helps because if your system is weakened by a minor virus your body won't be able to fight off a major virus (Covid19). Just my 2 cents worth.


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