The weight

I put on a few pounds this summer.

I had reasons: Stress eating and drinking from the move and the car wreck; inability to exercise while there was a bulging pool of blood on my leg that turned into a gaping hole the size of a golf divot; difficulty finding rewarding employment, etc.

The result of all these perfectly understandable reasons was my not being able to fit into clothes that I loved. That made me cringe, because I know all too well that “buying the next size up until you lose the extra pounds” is the first step on the road back to a place I never want to be again.

As I’ve said many times: Bariatric surgery is a TOOL, not a CURE, for ending obesity.

So, with the help of an online support group of wonderful ladies who are all paddling the same boat I am, I am happy to report that this morning that I easily glided into a pair of pants that did not fit a month ago.

And my knee-high boots from last season? No problem zipping them at all.

Also, as sad as I am to see summer go and to pack away all my sandals, can I get a HOLLA for boot season!

I still need to drop some more weight, and more importantly I need to maintain the healthy eating and exercise habits that got me where I was in the first place, but this was a wonderful feeling.

Too wonderful not to share with my tens of readers.

Happy hump day!

I love LA

This week my handsome husband and I joined a new gym. LA Fitness is a national chain and we hooked up at the one near my favorite shopping mall.

A place to work out close to a place where I can buy the clothes that keep me motivated to work out: Heaven’s gates open, cue choir singing.

What I like most about LA Fitness is that it’s not a family-centered gym. I know that will sound like heresy to all parents with young families, but I don’t want to share my water aerobics space with happy little kids being happy little kids in a pool.

When my daughter was young, we joined the YMCA for all it had to offer for kids and adults. Now? I don’t want to dodge toddlers on the running track.

There should be options for everyone at every stage of life and this is the one for me. The place is full of young singles and empty-nesters.

Last night we had our obligatory meeting with a trainer because selling training sessions is part of the business of a gym. While this fellow was very nice, his pitch basically broke down like this:

“See all these cardio machines in here? They won’t do anything for you. Sure, you’ll burn some calories, but as soon as you step off the machine your metabolism — which is already in the negative numbers, amiright? — will plummet and you’ve wasted your time.

See all those resistance machines? What do they all have in common? Seats. You sit while you work your muscles. Sure, you will build SOME muscle on them, but they limit your range of motion and in the end don’t really accomplish anything except making your already hefty ass feel productive.

All those classes you like to take? Yeah, those cater to the lowest common denominator of fitness and don’t really challenge you. Sure, they are fun and you might make friends and work up a sweat, but who needs that, really? You’re here to get ripped, right?

The pool? That’s great…for cooling down after a real workout.”

So what’s a real workout?

Training with a trainer, of course.

After noting our height and weight, he put us on a pair of treadmills, jacked the elevation to mountain-climbing range and let us walk for about 15 minutes. This allowed him to do the math and tell us what we should weigh. Which is, of course, less than we weigh now.

Calculating shit is hard work, yo. If he needed 15 minutes for that, clearly, he wasn’t a math major in college.

Then he had us do squats. In the nicest way possible, he told us we both suck. My hamstrings are too weak and Phil’s are too tight. Our form is all wrong. We clearly don’t know squat about squats.

The we went to a couple of mats where he asked us to do planks. Now I can plank. For a woman with a marshmallow core, I can plank like…someone who can hold a plank for a really long time.

Every instructor I’ve ever had told me to keep my hips low when I plank — that the spine should basically be a straight line, which is not easy when your have round mounds of glutes back there.

This guy wanted my hips higher, which actually makes the plank easier. What? Maybe he just likes middle-aged women with big booties, I don’t know. I’d bet we’d find some interesting sites if we check the browser history on his computer.

TRX: this is what it's supposed to look like. If your face meets the floor, you are doing it wrong.

Then we went to the TRX, which if you never seen or used one is basically straps bolted to the ceiling or to an immovable apparatus. I’m pretty sure was inspired by some S&M porn movies.

He asked me to assume plank position with my feet in the handles. So I did.

I then slipped out of the handles, crashed my face into the floor, crushed my right hand under my considerable body weight, and knocked all the wind out of my lungs.

Good times!

While I scraped my dignity off the floor and reassured myself that neither lung had collapsed, he had my husband do normal stuff on the TRX — like pushups and bicep curls.

Then the session was over and it was time for him to sell us on personal training for an extra $260 each month. We said we’d think about it.

I’ve thought about it.

No. I’ll spend that $260 at the mall, thank you very much.

But I still love LA (the city and the gym) and I will be there several times a week to waste my time, energy and sweat on cardio machines, resistance machines, group classes and the pool.

And I will wave enthusiastically to this really polite, really sweet lunkhead every time I see him.


We are nearing the end of the summer drinking season — where diet cranberry juice, citron vodka and a big squeeze of lime is my refreshment of choice.

We are now in the tailgate drinking season — where cold beer and the above mentioned Nona-style cosmopolitan pair perfectly with all the grilled meats and homemade brownies one can munch in three hours of pre-game festivities.

In just a few short months, we will officially be in the holiday drinking season — where wine will flow like water and Bailey’s will be added to coffee for all gift wrapping sessions as that has been my time-honored holiday tradition for 30 years.

The problem is that, even with a tiny tummy, liquids go down very easily. And it’s very easy to lose track of how many liquid calories have been consumed.

So if this continues, by New Year’s Eve I will be a lush that cannot fit into any of her clothes.

I am in the second week of a 90-day challenge to improve my fitness. This is mostly focused on exercise, but also includes healthy food and beverage choices. I know I am up to this challenge six days a week.

College football Saturdays, however, are proving problematic.

We have season tickets to not one but two football programs. All but one weekend (when both teams are on the road) for the rest of 2014 will include tailgating. Not only is there wonderful food to eat — and tiny tummies can eat a lot of food if nibbled over a three-hour period — there’s the booze.

These days also tend to be my least active of the week. We have to travel three hours for Ball State games, so of course we are sitting in the car the entire time. Tailgating is a social experience, so we stand or sit in lawn chairs for that. Then we mostly sit for the game.

Lots of calories + lots of sitting = more pounds than will squeeze into my American Eagle jeggings and tall boots.

So, besides cleaning up my habits Sunday through Friday, I have to start watching what I send down my piehole on Saturday (mmm, pie.)

This Saturday, instead of hamburgers and hotdogs, we are grilling chicken tenders. I’m also planning on bringing veggies instead of cheese and crackers.

Just as good without the Vitamin V.

And I am not bringing any of our home-infused vodkas to the party.

When the Ball State Cardinals (chirp, chirp!) taking on the Fighting Trees of Indiana State this weekend, I am sticking to my favorite mocktail — diet cranberry with a squeeze of non-caloric lemon-lime flavoring and my traditional lime wedge — and water.

I can’t say I will do this every game day, but I’m determined to do it this weekend.

And I swear I will let myself get dehydrated at ALL Ohio State home games because, as beautiful as the Shoe is, the bathrooms are DISGUSTING.

Seriously, I’ve been in port-a-johns at NASCAR tracks that were more sanitary than Ohio Stadium’s bathrooms.

OSU alum: Y’all need to start a capital campaign to upgrade those facilities. Knowing how much you collectively love the Buckeyes, it should only take about 15 minutes of phone calls to season ticket holders. Make it happen.


It’s been a topsy-turvy, wave-your-hands-in-the-air-like-you-don’t-care kind of week here.

Last Friday, when almost three months after it was savaged in a wreck, my once beautiful, practically new car was returned to me in practically new condition.

The first few minutes I sat in the car were an emotional slurry. For a second I felt the fear and numbness of the last time I sat in the car — damaged on the side of a busy interstate. Then I felt relief that this is one step closer to ending this ugly chapter of the summer. Then there was a rush of excitement to actually drive my own car again.

That’s a lot of the feels to have in about a two minute period.

Monday I had a doctor’s appointment with my new GP. I made this appointment in April. It took until September to see her, because when you relocate and start over with doctors, you are not a high priority in scheduling.

After a long chat about my arthritis, bariatric procedure, etc. we talked about my prescriptions. She told me she couldn’t refill my Klonopin prescription because she has a personal policy not to prescribe benzodiazepines.

I beg to differ, Words with Friends wordsmiths. This is PERFECTLY acceptable word.

This was after I explained to her I had suffered from anxiety since kindergarten and that being on Klonopin has effectively ended the panic attacks, waves of helpless terror and crippling migraines. This drug has treated my mental/emotional illness effectively with no side effects.

Deaf ears. She’s going to wean me off of it she said — because stopping cold turkey could cause seizures — and if I still feel like I need it, I can see a psychiatrist.

Did I mention that when you are a new patient, it takes MONTHS to get an appointment anywhere? And I already wasted months waiting to see her only to get shut down because she personally doesn’t view mental/emotional illness as something that should be treated like any other chronic illness.

She then insisted I take a urine test to screen for drugs.

As I sat there digesting what this medical professional was telling me, the panic started to creep in. Then I started to weep. I told her I didn’t want to go back to that emotional place of living in fear every day of where and when I would lose my collective shit.

But she did NOT give a collective shit. No Klonopin. Nope. Not on her watch. She did, however, make the big move of writing me one script for a lower dose with instructions to take less and less of it each week until it was done. And she told me she doesn’t do this for ANYBODY. So I should be grateful.

I can understand she may not feel comfortable treating mental illness if that’s outside her wheelhouse. But, had I presented her with any chronic PHYSICAL illness, I have no doubt she would have written a script to tide me over until I could see a specialist.

The stigma of mental/emotional illness is alive and well and harbored by medical doctors, apparently.

For the first time since we moved to Ohio — and Ohio has been kicking my ass since I got here — I wished we had never moved here.

I do have an appointment to see an intake counselor at a mental health practice in October. Then I can probably get an appointment with a shrink in December. In the meantime, managing stress will be up to me.

That shouldn’t be difficult at all, considering I may or may not be starting a new job on Monday.

Despite wanting to crawl in a hole until the holiday season, I decided to do the only things I know that can help me feel good about me. I’m back to clean eating — even during tailgate season — and Phil and I joined a cool new gym yesterday.

Purple rain (pitbull approved)

I bought a new pair of workout kicks to replace my well-worn New Balance shoes that have logged a thousand miles in the last two years.

I am going to do my best to keep myself from falling down the rabbit hole of anxiety and depression with a positive attitude, healthy food and lots of sweat. I have to fight to stay in the driver’s seat and not let anxiety take the wheel.

If I just keep moving, maybe the panic won’t find me.


These are the days

My precious

You know those mornings when you awaken from a dead sleep to find you are spooning with a snoring dog that smells like stale corn chips but you are just happy to have something to snuggle because the evening before you attended a fantastic dinner on the most humid night of the summer where you drank chilled white wine like someone told you Jesus turned it back into water while trying not to sweat to the point you looked like you accepted the ALS ice bucket challenge?

You know those mornings?

You know those days when you really have so much to do — like hit up the farmer’s market before all the organic cheese and the best sweet corn is gone, somehow try to burn off the gazillion calories you consumed the night before because you have job-interview clothes to squeeze into on Monday and steam mop the floor because apparently 12 muddy paws held a Zumba class on your dark hardwood last night while you were getting your drink on and hoping that the sweat between your thighs didn’t leave a puddle on the chair and everyone would assume you need Depends?

You know those days?

If not this post probably meant nothing to you.

If you do, will you be my BFF? Come over later and we’ll have some cheese made from happy, grass-fed cows, open yet another bottle of wine and I (might) even share the parting gift from last night’s soiree.

False advertising! There are not 1782 sea salt caramels in this box. There are only 10. OK, seven now. Stop judging me!



Days go by

For an unemployed person, I am crazy busy.

Lately there has been short trips for a book signing and for a concert.  We’ve made new friends. We’ve bought new furniture.

I have been concentrating on exercise in a big way and dropped a couple of the pounds I put back on while rehabbing my leg. I still see the wound care doctor every other week.

I also give my elderly cat with hyperthyroidism two oral doses of meth every day. The fun? It just never ends.

My days are busy and they fly by. I am still actively looking for work, but I am being very picky to make sure the job is a good fit for me and my family.

I have also been cooking. Since I consider myself a food writer, I should be blogging about it, but since it’s summer, the food I’ve been making has been very simple.

Grilled fish. Fresh salads. Roasted new potatoes. All delicious and nutritious, but not really recipe-type food.

Last night, however, I took on a big challenge for me: turkey burgers. I’ve made them before and been less than impressed with my results.

Turkey is lean, so the lack of fat tends not to make it bind easily for burger patties. It is also not big on flavor without putting some serious seasoning into it.

I am not usually one to add veggies to the burger mix — for beef burgers I prefer veggies as toppings — but for turkey I thought that veggies would add moisture and flavor. So the first thing I mixed in the pound of ground turkey was minced onions and bell peppers.

Then I liberally seasoned the meat with garlic powder (not salt — that’s coming later) steakhouse seasoning and curry powder. Then I added a couple of drops of stir-fry sauce (seriously , just a dash.)

The salt (turkey needs some salt) came from low-sodium soy sauce, which I used to marinade some chopped mushrooms. I let the mushrooms absorb the soy sauce for a couple of hours before I mixed the pieces in the meat.

I like to make my beef patties thin, but my husband — the grillmaster — said turkey needs to be a little plumper to make them hold together. He’s absolutely right.

While he grilled the burgers, I sauteed the rest of the mushrooms with some yellow onion (I prefer shallots but I didn’t have any) as a topping for the burgers.

Healthy tip: Back in the day I would use about a stick of butter to sauté mushrooms. Now I use a non-stick skillet, less than a tablespoon of olive oil and a generous shake of Worcestershire sauce. The ‘shrooms are just as good and a fraction of the unhealthy fat and calories.

The end result: The best turkey burger EVER. The patties didn’t fall apart, they were juicy and the seasonings added layers of flavor to turkey’s blank canvas.

Next time instead of mushrooms as a topping, I think I will try an avocado slice.

We served it with roasted new potatoes (an easy side and a very low-cal alternative to fries.) The big calorie indulgence was King’s Hawaiian hamburger buns. Because, damn, those soft, eggy buns are worth every carb and calorie.

Every. Single. One.

Of course you can always cut the bun calories in half by eating it open faced. If you can do that, you are a stronger person than I am.

Recipe bonus:

Here’s a link to a recipe that I am anxious to try. I met this blogger in Miami, he’s terrific and this dish looks amazing.


I came back to the house from a walk last night when my husband told me Robin Williams died. I gasped.

He followed that with the suspected cause of death: suicide. Then I felt a little part of my soul retreat, looking for a safe place to hide.

Robin Williams, beloved actor, comedian, and genius, died from depression.

It hits you hard when you know you walk around every day with an illness that, while treatable, could eventually be fatal. It hits you hard when it claims yet another victim.

I’ve done as much as I can to document my struggle with depression and its BFF anxiety on this blog because it is an illness, just like cancer, and the stigma attached to it has to stop.

Depression, being the sneaky liar that it is, would love to remain shrouded in shame so that it can go unabated.

Like cancer, depression is an invading organism that disrupts body chemistry and causes physical symptoms. Like cancer, it lives inside the host and wreaks havoc on the healthy cells.

For my part, I suffer more from anxiety than depression, but all that worry just adds kindle to the fire of depression. So the little bastards are co-conspirators.

As far as I know, there is no cure for depression or anxiety. There are plenty of treatments for the symptoms, but nothing that makes it all better. When you suffer from depression, you will never be able to take a test that shows you are now depression-free.

I’ve tried everything. Talk therapy? Check. Books? Check. Prescription drugs? Double check.

And I’ve self-medicated most of my life. Food was my drug of choice. And abuse of that perfectly legal, socially acceptable drug led to obesity, which is the kind of sick joke that depression enjoys, because that made things even worse. Just to add another smack down, obesity not only made me more depressed and anxious, it led to potentially fatal health problems.

Depression and anxiety are sinister assholes.

The best treatment for depression, in my case anyway, is emotional support, positive self-talk and medication. I don’t know if Williams had any of that. Being a celebrity, it might be hard to know who really wants to help you because they care about your well-being or who wants to help you because they need something from you.

I’m sure his family loved him and tried to help and my heart goes out to them. Sometimes the hole is just too deep for anyone’s love to reach.

I have a rock of support in my life. I can’t rely solely on him for my survival, but it helps to know that when I want to retreat, when I forget to tell depression “Fuck off, you liar!”, he’s there to remind me and he doesn’t judge. He has helped keep me from going too far down the hole more times than he knows.

One of my favorite Robin Williams movies — it’s hard to choose just one — is “Good Will Hunting.” In his role as Sean, a psychiatrist treating Will, a troubled genius (ponder that irony for a moment) he told a story about his late wife.

The fact that it came directly from Williams — according to IMDB it was unscripted — makes it all the more profound to me:

“Sean: My wife used to fart when she was nervous. She had all sorts of wonderful little idiosyncrasies. She used to fart in her sleep. I thought I’d share that with you. One night it was so loud it woke the dog up. She woke up and went ‘ah was that you?’ And I didn’t have the heart to tell her. Oh!

Will: She woke herself up?

Sean: Ah…! But Will, she’s been dead for 2 years, and that’s the shit I remember: wonderful stuff you know? Little things like that. Those are the things I miss the most. The little idiosyncrasies that only I know about: that’s what made her my wife. Oh she had the goods on me too, she knew all my little peccadilloes. People call these things imperfections, but they’re not. Ah, that’s the good stuff.

It lacks the eloquence of quotes from “Dead Poets Society” or even “Mrs. Doubtfire”, but for me it demonstrates real love. I am so lucky I have someone on my side who knows all my flaws and loves me anyway.

No matter what depression tries to tell me, I hold on to that love, and then I know I will be OK.

We both fart in bed and blame it on the dog. That’s the good stuff.


My obsession with Tex-Mex flavors this summer is making me nervous.

Nobody wants to be Guy Fieri. Except maybe Guy Fieri. He seems pretty happy to be him.

Now I’m questioning the blond highlights I got a couple of weeks ago. If I start describing things as “money!” feel free to throat punch me.

The thing is that there is so much flavor in Southwestern-inspired cuisine and when you are trying to cut back on calories, you need savory and spicy to keep your palate from protesting in boredom and send you into uncontrollable cake craving.


During the day I am sticking to protein smoothies, protein bars and raw veggies. The only real meal I have each day is dinner. And I keep going back to the same flavor profiles when I plan the weekly meals.

Last week we had fish tacos with mango salsa and jicama slaw. We had chopped salads with extra cilantro and cilantro dressing. We had grilled cumin-crusted sea bass, with lime, which I am adding to every beverage I drink except my coffee.

Last night we had chicken fajitas. While I was chopping the veggies for that meal, I did the prep work for tonight’s dinner: barbecue chicken pizza.

(Hint: Use Flatout Bread as a crust and it’s thin, crispy and amazingly low in carbs and calories. And it tastes great. Be careful to evenly distribute the toppings and you may need to eat it with a fork.)

I was trying to think of something different to make while at the grocery store yesterday and all I could think of was ceviche. Sigh.

I need some international inspiration for food. So excuse me now while I check the price on flights to Thailand and Italy.

Any suggestions that are low-cal, low-carb and NOT Southwestern/Mexican flavors would be much appreciated.

BTW: Tickets to the Thailand and Italy are hella expensive.


Running on empty

Wandering my way back to a cleaner, healthier way of living is not as easy as it sounds.

You know what’s easy? Eating and drinking whatever you want and hunkering down for hours of “Property Brothers” and “Real Housewives” is pretty damn easy.

This morning I wanted to stay in bed. I was comfy, cozy and so content. I walked a 5K yesterday on the the treadmill just to prove to myself I could still do it. Phil and I are walking a 5K tomorrow and I don’t want to die on the streets of Columbus.

Death at a gym in the suburbs seems infinitely more dignified.

Walking the 5K (3.1 miles for us Americans) on the hamster wheel was actually not too difficult. I propped up my iPad and read a few chapters of a book and the miles went by without any trauma.

Then I ran errands and ended up walking 10K before the day was done and still stayed within my calorie goal for the day, hitting all my nutritional marks according to MyFitnessPal.

I was depleted of energy when I went to bed and slept like a rock. I sooooo wanted to stay in bed.

But while my physical tank was on “E”, I also know my emotional tank was gliding on fumes as well. And the best way to fill it up — without shopping or eating cheese or drinking wine which is my normal road to inner contentedness — is fresh air.

So I walked another 5K this morning, this time on the sunny sidewalks of my suburban ‘hood. I figured the chance of death from 5K-walking dropped dramatically since yesterday but I could be wrong since I’m terrible at math and really suck at statistics.

Those 5 kilometers made me appreciate what a lovely area it is that we call home now and did wonders for my mood.

Not gonna lie, when I was done walking my feet were burning, my arthritic left knee was screaming “What the actual fuck, lady?!?” and sweat was dripping down my back creating a lake in my waistband.

But my heart was pumping and my lungs felt full of whatever it is in unfiltered, barely polluted air that makes humans glad to be alive (oxygen, I think?) and, after some yoga stretches in my living room, I feel confident that I can do it again tomorrow morning and not require an ambulance. Or a mortuary.

I didn’t eat breakfast before I walked, so I was one hangry hag by the time I got back to the house. I didn’t even taste the protein bar I gobbled, but I did try to savor every drop of my iced coffee with ultra-skim protein milk.

Lunch will be a protein shake (I love smoothies so much I have a Pinterest board dedicated to recipes) and dinner will be grilled Chilean sea bass with roasted new potatoes.

Meal planning is important at this stage of active-life-re-entry because I need to keep nutrition on track with high-protein, low-carb, energy-sustaining food and not chocolate and martinis.

Um…chocolate martinis…(read that in Homer Simpson’s voice, because that’s what I heard when I typed it.)

This healthy lifestyle shit is some damn hard work, yo.

Worth it, but hard.

The boxer

We moved to Columbus in April and I really love this city. Click right here and you can read about all the wonderful things this area has to offer.

And yet, if I let myself dwell on the negative — and depression encourages that mental activity — I would be convinced this city doesn’t love me back.

In fact, it feels a little like it junk punches me at every opportunity.

Finding suitable employment has been an issue. I took a temp accounting job in a factory that was OK, but the environment wasn’t pleasant and the commute sucked.

Working at that job, with people who barely spoke to me and a boss that gave almost no positive feedback, made me miss my loving, supportive work family at Saint Francis Service Dogs in Roanoke so much my soul ached.

Today I got a call from a staffing agency for an accounting job in a factory that would include a monthly inventory and thus would require wearing a steel-toed boots and a uniform.


Since I swore off uniforms when I left the fast-food industry as a teenager in the 80s and steel-toed boots don’t look cute on anyone, I declined the interview. I’ve learned accepting just any job is not the answer. It has to be the right job.

I’m a household manager/freelance writer for now — the perks are great and the working environment is outstanding — but being a stay-at-home mom to three lazy dogs and one surly cat who has to be medicated twice a day is a little lonely, and then there’s the money.

That would be the lack of money, to be exact. Shopping, after all, is part of my cardio routine.

The traffic accident in June hasn’t helped. My car is still in the shop and I know it sounds materialistic and superficial but I miss my car.

The injury from the accident has been super ouchy and inconvenient to say the least. I have an appointment today to see the wound care specialist, who re-injures my leg every time I go there.

I know it’s necessary for the healing process, but it feels counterintuitive to see a wound doctor who willfully wounds you. Maybe he takes the job title too literally?

I miss my friends. We’ve had an active social life since we’ve been here, but my close pals are in Indy, Nashville and Roanoke. I keep hoping that the right job will come along and I will find a Buckeye BFF.

Then there’s the weight gain, mostly due to emotional eating and too many hours spent on “House Hunters” marathons while my leg healed. Hopefully exercise and healthy food choices will make the endorphins in my brain kick in and tell the depression to STFU.

Progress is being made in that challenge. I took Body Pump class last night and I could actually move today AND I passed all four phases of my insurance health screening this morning.

I might have missed the BMI phase due to the weight gain but my waist circumference saved me. Click here for the best shapewear in America that whittled about an inch off my middle section. Holla!

My husband and I are participating in a 5K charity walk this Saturday. It’s a cause we support and it gets both of us moving, with a chance to meet other people who love pets as much as we do.

I feel like I’ve been struggling since the move — with emotions, injury and frustration. Honestly, I’ve spent most of my 50 years on this earth struggling to hold it together. I’m battle weary.

Then I heard an old Simon and Garfunkel song on the radio this morning and it reminded me that, as much as I’d like to run away, I can’t throw in the towel.

In the clearing stands a boxer and a fighter by his trade and he carries the reminders of every glove that’s laid him down and cut him ’til he cried out in his anger and his shame, ‘I am leaving, I am leaving.’ But the fighter still remains.”

There’s still a lot of fight left in this tired boxer.

And Columbus? I’m not going anywhere. I think once you get to know me, we’ll get along just fine.

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