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My Blog

Nature

Calendula/Marigold

Calendula
sometimes called marigold
     
  Product Notes: Calendula flowers have a slightly bitter and somewhat salty flavor, and a sweet, sharp, buttery aroma.

    Calendula has been used an herbal remedy and as coloring and flavoring for food in Central and Southern Europe since the 1100s. Commonly known there as marigold, calendula is an annual flower native to the northern Mediterranean countries. It's well known for its skin-soothing properties — this gentle herb is used as an ingredient in all types of skin care preparations, including salves, body washes, creams, ointments and lotions.
Medicinal
To use calendula in medicinal recipes, you often must start with an infused oil. This oil can then be blended into creams and salves for topical use.
Calendula Infused Oil
  • Wash one cup fresh calendula petals. Chop coarsely and put in a small saucepan.
  • Just cover calendula with vegetable or olive oil and heat over very low heat for two hours, stirring occasionally. You only want to warm the petals to release their oils.
  • Allow to cool and pour into glass jars. Place in a dark, cool area for a week. Then strain mixture into a new jar. Store in a cool, dark location.
You can also put fresh petals in a jar of oil in the sun for two weeks to create a solar-infused oil. Make sure the jar is tightly covered and strain the oil after those two weeks. For a stronger infusion, add more flowers to strained oil and let sit in the sun for two more weeks. Strain and store.
NOW TO THE SALVE....
Calendula Salve
  • Blend four parts infused oil and one part melted bees wax. You may adjust the amount of oil and beeswax to create the consistency you want.  salves are made by adding ¼ cup of beeswax to one cup of infused oil. Heat until the beeswax has melted.
  • Pour into a wide jar and cover. This mixture will thicken into a salve that you can use for burns and abrasions. It is also useful for diaper rash and other skin ailments.
The Plant: Calendula is valued both as a natural remedy and as a colorful garden flower. This two-foot-tall, hardy annual can grow quite bushy, and its large, two- to three-inch flowers (which range from yellow to bright orange in color) are attractive additions to borders. Calendula blooms continuously throughout the winter in warmer climates and throughout the summer in the north. Cooler temperatures and picking the flowers promotes more flowering, while high heat in summer will stress the plant and stop flowering.
The parts of the plant used are the flower heads — harvested while they are in full bloom — or the petals (ligulate florets), which are removed from the receptacle after harvesting.
 Calendula flowers open in the morning and close in the late afternoon. They are of the highest quality when harvested late morning after the dew is dried off of the flowers — this is when the resin content is at its highest. When handpicking calendula, the flowers' dark tacky resin clings noticeably to the fingers. 
Calendula has anti-inflammatory effects when it is used topically and it is also a potent antioxidant. Because of its antiviral and antibacterial qualities, it is also useful in treating minor wounds and abrasions.
The petals of calendula are often added to salads as well. Their bright orange color is an attractive contrast to salad green and their slightly bitter flavor compliments the other vegetables.
When cooked, the flavor mellows. Calendula can be used much like saffron by adding it to rice and pasta dishes.ds, main course dishes, and even dessert.
Calendula tea is easy to make. Simply put a couple of teaspoons of calendula petals in an infuser and pour a cup of boiling water over it. Allow to steep for at least 10 minutes.
Sweeten if desired and drink for minor digestive irritation or use the tea as a wash for minor wounds.
Calendula Soap
There are two methods of making soap.
 'Cold process' is the term used to describe the traditional method of soap making and this is when oils such as palm or coconut oil are mixed with an alkaline solution and this reaction causes the oils to saponify and form soap. This is actually relatively easy to do at home, a new type of soap making known as 'melt and pour' has made making soap at home much more accessible.
Melt and pour soaps are blocks of glycerin soap base that can be melted down in a domestic kitchen, have fragrances and other additives included and then poured into molds to set. Melt and pour soaps come in clear and opaque form and there is now an organic version. These work extremely well with calendula petals. This is very straightforward to do, simply add some petals before pouring the melted soap into molds and stir them in well.
  
Constituents of Note: There are a number of potentially significant constituents in calendula. Triterpene glycosides (guercetin, isohamnetin), triterpene alcohols and triterpene saponins are major components. Carotenoids including beta-carotene, lycopene, violaxanthin and lutein are responsible for the color of the flowers and for the use of calendula as a food coloring. Other constituents include a small amount of essential oil (60% alpha-cardinal), flavonoids (narcissan) and a bitter principle (calendnin).
Quality: Marigold flowers have a slightly bitter and somewhat salty flavor and a sweet, sharp, buttery aroma. Not more than 2% other plant parts should be present — including sepals and the fruits (seeds).
 Whole flowers (with the receptacle) should be carefully inspected to make sure they are properly dried as the receptacle dries much slower than the petals and can cause mold problems.
 Calendula flower petals do not have this problem.
Good quality dried flowers have a slightly oily feel to them when rubbed between the fingers.
The flowers quickly fade when exposed to light, so they should always be stored in dark conditions. They also readily absorb moisture, which degrades the flowers, so calendula needs airtight storage, especially in humid conditions.
While both the whole calendula flowers and calendula petals are used interchangeably, the petals are considered superior for use in most applications.
 Between single-petaled, double-petaled, yellow-colored and orange-colored varieties, there is not, as of yet, consensus on which is the best — or even if one type is better than another.
Herbs have to be considered outstanding in at least two of three categories—medicinal, culinary or decorative.
 Calendula is outstanding in all three categories and well deserving of the title.
 Many herb organizations, herb companies, retail stories and herb societies recognize the herb of the year and support public education on the chosen herb, throughout the year.
Directions: To make calendula skin care oil, place one cup of calendula flower petals (petals are better than whole flowers for this use) in a non-reactive container such as a glass jar. Cover with one cup of vegetable oil (a high quality oil such as extra-virgin olive oil or almond oil makes a good base), stir well, adding more oil if needed to keep the calendula completely submerged and the jar full.
 To extract using the sun, place container in a bag or box to keep out the sunlight, then place in the sun for a week. Stir contents daily. Or alternately, put calendula and oil in a crock pot or other thermostatically controlled container. Keep crock pot on the warm setting, stirring several times a day, making sure the mixture does not get too hot (over 110 F.) and replacing oil as needed. When the oil takes on the color and aroma of the calendula (about a week), strain out all of the flowers, squeezing them well to remove as much of the oil as possible. Place in a glass jar and let stand for a few days to let any sediment remaining in the calendula oil fall to the bottom of the jar. Draw oil off the sediment and store in a tightly sealed glass container. Keep in a cool, dark place. Use the oil as a massage, skin care oil or as a base for salves. Adding a little vitamin E to the finished calendula flower oil will help increase its shelf life. Scenting the calendula oil with synergistic essential oils such as lavender and geranium enhances the benefits of the calendula oil.
A gentle but powerful herb, calendula flowers can used on damaged, sensitive, chafed or irritated skin. Calendula is often combined with other herbs such as comfrey leaf, aloes, St. John’s wort and lavender flowers.
In foods, calendula petals are sometimes used as a substitute for saffron, to provide a similar color to saffron and somewhat mimic the rich flavor of saffron. The spicy flavor of calendula is used to season baked goods such as breads and cakes, egg dishes, soups and fish and to decorate desserts.
 Of gourmet interest are such treats as calendula butter, calendula vinegar and calendula salad dressing.
 Historically calendula was also used to color butter and cheese.
Another great recipe.....
Have a backyard bed of marigolds? Share some with guests the next time you entertain by adding them to a cream cheese dip. It's a surprisingly delicious appetizer.

MARIGOLD CHEESE DIP
8 Servings Prep: 10 min. + chilling
Ingredients
  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon minced chives
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh savory
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh marigold petals
  • Assorted crackers
Directions
  • In a small bowl, beat the cream cheese, sour cream, vanilla, salt and
  • pepper until smooth. Stir in the chives, savory and marigold petals.
  • Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Serve with crackers.
  • Yield: 2 cups.
Nutritional Facts: 1 serving (2 tablespoons) equals 160 calories, 15 g fat (10 g saturated fat), 51 mg cholesterol, 173 mg sodium, 2 g carbohydrate, trace fiber, 3 g protein.
 
 
 Calendula flowers are an ingredient in hair rinses, shampoos, shaving creams and deodorants. In shampoo and hair rinse, calendula is added to formulas made for light-colored hair as it helps to brighten blonde or red hair. A dye for fabric can also be extracted from the flowers.
 
Caution/Safety: The Botanical Safety Handbook* classifies Calendula as:Class:1 herbs which can be safely consumed when used appropriately Per the German Commission E Monograph** for calendula flower, there are no known contraindications, side effects or drug interactions. People who are allergic or sensitive to other members of the Asteraceae family, such as daisies or ragweed, should exercise caution until they have established they do not have a reaction to calendula flowers.
 

Natural Insect Repellents

Natural Insect Repellents
FLEA

How to Repel Insects Naturally!

Did you know that Catnip Oil spray is reported to be ten times more effective than DEET (the unsavory toluene based chemical used in commercial insect sprays)? 



With rising concerns about the toxicity of conventional flea and tick control, some pet owners are looking for natural alternatives:

Rose Geranium. Rose Geranium has been used as an extremely potent repellent for ticks. Rose Geranium can be applied directly to your dog's collar, or try the following blend as a tick repellent for both you and your dog: 20 drops of Rose Geranium Oil, 3 drops of Citronella Oil and Bay Leaf Tincture in 10 ounces of water. Spray this on your dog, your dog's bed, your clothes, and exposed areas.

  • Catnip Oil spray. Reported to be ten times more effective than DEET (the toluene based chemical used in commercial insect sprays), Taos Herb Company's Catnip Oil Spray is an all natural alternative for pesky insects. 

  • Neem Oil has been used as a mosquito, flea, and tick repellent.
    Put a bit of neem oil on your hands and rub it all over your dog's coat. It's a great conditioner and gives her coat a beautiful shine, and it also keeps away fleas, ticks (to some extent), mites, mosquitoes and other biting critters. 

    Pour 10 oz. of organic jojoba oil or organic aloe vera gel through the funnel into a spray bottle. The jojoba oil or aloe vera gel serves as a base to dilute the neem oil. Pour 1/2 oz. of organic neem oil through the funnel into the bottle. Shake the natural neem tick repellent before each use. Spray it lightly onto the fur of pets, avoiding the face, once
    every two weeks. Apply the neem oil liberally onto your skin before hiking or going into wooded areas. 

    Neem Oil for Landscaping 
    Neem oil is an organic pest control remedy that is simple and effective on controlling repels aphids, thrips or whitefly. The greatest benefit of using neem oil is that it doesn’t harm beneficial insects: Butterflies, earthworms, and bees all help plants pollinate and absorb nutrients.

  • Citronella
    Oil of Citronella has been used for over 50 years as an insect repellent and as an animal repellent 


    Citronella, Lemongrass, Cedarwood, Garlic and Cinnamon oils have traditionally been applied externally to exposed neck, ankles, and hands to discourage biting gnats. 

  • Lemon Eucalyptus Oil
    Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus has been used as a mosquito repellent in Europe, Latin America, and Australia and in Asia since the 1980s. It's pleasant smell and feel on the skin make it preferable mosquito protection to those with sensitive skin and irritable olfactory senses. 
  •  mosquito repellents with oil of lemon eucalyptus are much less harsh on the skin compared to mosquito repellents containing DEET. 

  • Cedarwood
    Use as a bug repellent for stinging or biting bugs. 



Natural Jungle Juice Recipe 
A blend of essential oils of clove, peppermint, and lemon. 
Tested in the jungles of cambodia and Brazil, Jungle Juice has been shown to be effective for up to six hours against mosquitoes, flies, ticks and gnats, including the Brazilian sand fly. It contains no citronella oil and has a pleasant, spicy aroma.









All Purpose Insect/Tick Repellent Spray Recipe:

20 drops rose geranium
3 drops citronella oil
3 drops rosemary or lavender oil
3 drops clove oil
1 Tbsp. Bay Pure Essential Oil
2 Tbsp. black walnut hull extract 

Mix together, then add to 1 copy water, aloe vera gel, or a combination of water and aloe vera. The rose geranium will help repel ticks, citronella repels mosquitoes, black walnut repels flies and fleas and rosemary, like lavender and clove, is an all-purpose repellent.

Basic Essential Oil Repellent Recipe

10 to 25 drops essential oil
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (olive oil is fine)
1 tablespoon aloe vera gel (optional) 

Combine the ingredients in a glass jar. Shake to blend. Dab a few drops on your skin or clothing.

Note: Dilute, Dilute, Dilute
Essential Oils are very concentrated and must be used carefully. Some essential oils can aggravate the skin. Undiluted essential oil of pennyroyal and cinnamon oil can be dangerous to pets.

Animals can have a severe allergic or toxic reaction to many products. Exercise caution when making choices for your pets (and you). Cats may not tolerate all essential oils. Some companies adding essential oils to their products are using perfume quality essential oils, not therapeutic grade.

If you have any questions, please consult your Veterinarian before using essential oils on your pets. 

Fleas are small insects that parasitise the coats of a wide range of domestic animal species including cats, dogs, rabbits, horses, poultry, humans and rats and which survive by feeding on the blood of their . In appearance they are small (about 1 - 2.5mm in length, depending on the flea species) and yellowish to dark brown in color depending on whether they have recently fed or not (the abdomen of an engorged flea swells and appears paler brown in colour than that of an unfed flea - see the cat fleas pictures in the next section). Unlike ticks, mites or lice, which have a dorso-ventrally flattened, pancake-like shape (they look as though they have been squashed from above), fleas' bodies are flattened laterally such that their shape from the front appears tall and narrow (they look as though they have been squashed between two objects located on either side of them).

Like most other insects, fleas have three main body parts: a head, a thorax and an abdomen and, like most other insects, fleas have six legs (three on each side) that originate from the mid-section of the body (thorax). Unlike many other insects, fleas have no wings and do not fly. Perhaps to compensate for this inability to fly, the back legs of the flea are very highly developed (long a
nd strong) compared to their other four legs and are designed for jumping. Fleas move from host to host and from host to environment to host by jumping through the air. The flea's back legs are also designed to propel the flea forwards through the animal's fur at high speed, which helps the insect parasite to evade the teeth and claws of the animal host as it attempts to remove the flea through biting, chewing and scratching activities. With the exception of the stick fast or stick tight flea, Echidnophaga (section 5), which establishes a blood-feeding position on the host (often on thinly furred or feathered regions like the legs, belly, neck, eyelids and ears) and remains there, most flea species are very mobile and are usually only seen by pet owners as brief glimpses of something brown scurrying slickly through the animal's hairs.

Flea eggs are shiny, white, ovoid eggs, about 0.5mm in length. They hatch to produce grub-like flea larvae that are about 2.5mm long (depending on species). These larval fleas look like tiny white caterpillars (they move like grubs or caterpillars do too) with a black centre or core that is located acentrally, towards the head-end of the larva. Under the microscope, this black core is actually bright red and constitutes the larval stomach, which is full of digesting blood from its diet. Flea pupae or cocoons are rarely seen by owners because they are located in the pet's bedding or elsewhere in the environment (e.g. pupal fleas in the carpet), not on the pet itself. The silky cocoons are sticky and rapidly become covered in dust granules and dirt debris from the environment, making them virtually unrecognisable to owners. They just look like small balls of dirt.


Types of Ticks

Both tick types bite hosts and suck their blood. Hard ticks pass from one stageof development to another following each blood meal. 


Hard ticks undergo distinct larval, nymphal and adult stages. Soft ticks undergo a series of molts and feed more often than hard ticks.
The blacklegged tick is also known as the deer tick. Young deer ticks are active in spring and early summer, while adults are active in spring and fall. These ticks are known to be vectors of Lyme disease.



Few animals on Earth evoke the antipathy that mosquitoes do. 

Their itchy, irritating bites and nearly ubiquitous presence can ruin a backyard barbecue or a hike in the woods. They have an uncanny ability to sense our murderous intentions, taking flight and disappearing milliseconds before a fatal swat. And in our bedrooms, the persistent, whiny hum of their buzzing wings can wake the soundest of sleepers.
Beyond the nuisance factor, mosquitoes are carriers, or vectors, for some of humanity’s most deadly illnesses, and they are public enemy number one in the fight against global infectious disease. Mosquito-borne diseases cause millions of deaths worldwide every year with a disproportionate effect on children and the elderly in developing countries.
There are more than 3,000 species of mosquitoes, but the members of three bear primary responsibility for the spread of human diseases. Anopheles mosquitoes are the only species known to carry malaria. They also transmit filariasis (also called elephantiasis) and encephalitis. Culex mosquitoes carry encephalitis, filariasis, and .West Nile Virus And Aedes mosquitoes, of which the voracious Asian tiger is a member, carry yellow fever, dengue, and encephalitis.
Mosquitoes use exhaled carbon dioxide, body odors and temperature, and movement to home in on their victims. Only female mosquitoes have the mouth parts necessary for sucking blood. When biting with their proboscis, they stab two tubes into the skin: one to inject an enzyme that inhibits ; blood clotting ,the other to suck blood into their bodies. They use the blood not for their own nourishment but as a source of protein for their eggs. For food, both males and females eat nectar and other plant sugars.
Mosquitoes transmit disease in a variety of ways. In the case of malaria, parasites attach themselves to the gut of a female mosquito and enter a host as she feeds. In other cases, such as yellow fever and dengue, a virus enters the mosquito as it feeds on an infected human and is transmitted via the mosquito’s saliva to a subsequent victim.
The only silver lining to that cloud of mosquitoes in your garden is that they are a reliable source of food for thousands of animals, including birds, bats, dragonflies, and frogs. In addition, humans are actually not the first choice for most mosquitoes looking for a meal. They usually prefer horses, cattle, and birds.All mosquitoes need water to breed, so eradication and population-control efforts usually involve removal or treatment of standing water sources. Insecticide spraying to kill adult mosquitoes is also widespread. However, global efforts to stop the spread of mosquitoes are having little effect, and many scientists think global warming will likely increase their number and range.

Nature

Nature, in the broadest sense, is equivalent to the natural world, physical world, or material world.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 “Nature” refers to the phenomena of the physical world, and also to life in general.
 
 
 
 Within the various uses of the word today, “nature” may refer to the general realm of various types of living plants and animals, and in some cases to the processes associated with inanimate objects–the way that particular types of things exist and change of their own accord, such as the weather and geology of the Earth, and the matter and energy of which all these things are composed.
 It is often taken to mean the “natural environment” or wilderness–wild animals, rocks, forest, beaches, and in general those things that have not been substantially altered by human intervention, or which persist despite human intervention.
 
 For, example, manufactured objects and human interaction generally are not considered part of nature, unless qualified as, for example, “human nature” or “the whole of nature”.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
This more traditional concept of natural things which can still be found today implies a distinction between the natural and the artificial, with the artificial being understood as that which has been brought into being by a human consciousness or a human mind.
Depending on the particular context, the term “natural” might also be distinguished from the unnatural, the supernatural, and the artifactual.

Nature Symbols

 
 Gaining Super Natural Insight
via Nature Symbols Nature symbols are a paradox.
They provide some of the most revealing and profound meanings for us, yet these meanings are often first overlooked.
 Symbols and signs in nature are so obvious in their presence among us – and so generous in sharing their energetic experience with us.
 Perhaps it’s this easy availability that causes us to take nature and her symbols for granted. Although always available, symbolism in nature is subtle in its essence. We find deeper meanings hidden between the lines nature writes in her pages of life – but we must take the time read those pages for our growth.
 Nature symbolism was used among our early ancestors who were intimately connected to the mother and her ways.
 For example, Native Americans wrapped entire systems of communication around energetic/symbolic patterns in nature. So too did the ancient Celts who equally honored the motions of nature in connection with their existence.
 We have among us the most powerful tools for our psychic development among the trees, among the skies, and the seas. At every turn our intuitive eyes may feast upon the nature that grounds us, elevates us, and transports us to potentially transcendental perceptions.
 Take the time to see our natural world through symbolic eyes.
In this way you will find:
  • Sacred geometry dancing in the veins of leaves
  • Crystalline networks skittering upon the tops of seas, and
  • Rhythms of higher communication pressed in tidy hexagonal honeycombs.
There is no limit to the symbolism found in nature. Therefore, there is no limit to the higher knowledge, spiritual growth and profound unfolding we can experience by recognizing the natural wonders all around us. There is no greater or more diverse source for symbolic meanings than what can be derived from Nature. Our natural environment is the symbolic "jackpot" that holds deeper meaning about who we are and where we are headed on our life Path. Further, symbolic meanings in Nature are not limited to the flora and fauna of our earth (although, messages from these sources will be most predominant). Our knowing is never limited; that means we can span our awareness out into the cosmos to derive deeper meanings too.
 
Why is Nature the best source of symbolic meanings?
because it is inclusive. Our Universal ecosystem is a dynamic web of life. Each aspect of its existence is interconnected. Everything is included. The receipt of divine messages and oracular information also works from the premise of interconnectivity. All information runs on a network, and Nature is the most clean, efficient and diverse network through which information is transported to our awareness. 
 
 How does Nature convey symbolism? Through unique identity. Everything in our natural Universe resonates with its own special energetic identity. Animals have varying energetic personality. Plants hum with specialized wisdom too. Air, earth, water, fire - the building blocks of Terra Mater (mother earth) all sparkle with their own character. Each aspect of Nature carries a hallmark trait. Everything is unified, but the individuality of expression sets each feature in Nature apart. These features are where we find symbolic meaning.
 
 How can we read messages and interpret symbolic meanings from Nature? Nature is uniquely positioned to serve as a magnificent oracle due to the quality of interconnectivity and individual expression. Through soft rumination and meditation we can plug ourselves into the broader whole of Nature. That gets us into the "network." Once we are there, we can begin to explore the individual hallmarks unique to each facet of Nature. First we plug into Nature as a whole, then we find meaning in various outlets (animals, plants, rivers, etc). To be sure, it takes a bit of practice and some patience. Obtaining messages from Nature is also a two-way street. We must meet her on her own turf. This takes a thoughtful countenance as well as deep-rooted honor and awe for the natural realms. This is just a taste of the possibilities our environment proposes to our evolutionary awareness.We can receive oracular messages from Nature because Nature is a network with infinite channels through which information travels. Everything in Nature is magnificently interconnected to such an extent that data travels with utmost efficiency and speed. Furthermore, Natures interconnected network is pristine (divine, we could say) so the data transference is crystallized - 100% clean. There's nothing lost in symbolic translation. Messages from Nature are pure downloads.
 
 So how can we access the data?
 How can we access oracular downloads and symbolic meanings from Nature?
 Nature is the most generous supplier of nourishment (spiritual and otherwise) and is poised to deliver guidance to us. But, there's a caveat (always a string!): We must meet Nature on her own terms. This means attuning our energy to that of the Mother (Nature, that is). And how do we attune our energy to Nature? editable content beginsHere are my top three tips:
  • Get Invested
    Commit to knowing Nature. You can do this in a myriad of ways. Get outside, take a nature walk, read books about nature, grow some plants, interact with your domestic animals. Whatever floats your boat. It's  important  that we make the investment to know Nature.
  •  Be purposeful in setting aside time every day to connect with Nature.
  • Get Quiet
    After making the investment to submerge yourself in Nature, you're going to notice her ways are tranquil, melodic, peaceful and soft. To deepen our connection (and ultimately derive phenomenal symbolic meanings/oracular messages) with Nature, we must mimic her ways. This means evolving into a more docile states of being. It means diving into a state of quietude. We can do this through conscious quieting. We can quiet our minds through meditation. Quietude is also enhanced by closing our mouths and shutting off our televisions.
  • Give Back
    Nature is so wholly generous in her gifts, it's easy to take her bounty for granted. As you move through your days, start to notice opportunities to give back to Nature as a "thank you" for her graciousness. Plant a tree, pick up litter, recycle, conserve resources. You don't have to join Greenpeace to give back (besides, activism is counterintuitive to the way Nature operates). Small, simple steps with acknowledgment to the Mother (Nature) make all the difference.
Practice of these three steps on a daily basis will reap you enormous results. Just give these suggestions a whirl for six weeks. Journal your process. At the end of this trial-run, your connection with Divine Nature will be enhanced. This, in turn, will result in clear access to symbolic meanings and oracular messages from Nature. 
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