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I’m so thrilled that rose season is in full swing!  I was right when I assumed that the roses would be spectacular this year from all of the Spring rains.  Such blooms!  And although some of my plants had some pretty severe die-off from a deep November frost (and thus they won’t bloom this year) some came back so splendidly that I am just smitten all over again.   How could I possibly resist their charms?

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first eglantine bloom of 2015

The eglantine that I mentioned in my last post is just popping with the most lovely foliage (the scented part) and delicate single petal pink roses.  I get the same feeling every time I rub those leaves between my fingers and sniff the scented air that I must make another perfume with an eglantine leaf note just to have the pleasure of working with it again.  I created an eglantine leaf accord for the CHROMA scent, Umber: Bois de Rose, mixed with a moody aldehydic violet – dark rose heart that may not be to everyone’s taste but I really love it.

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chapeau de napoleon moss centifolia

All of this has been just in time to give me a great boost of energy for the talk I gave on Wednesday to the Rose Society of Denver at the Denver Botanic Gardens.  What incredible fun it was to show isolated rose alcohols and some of the minor constituents that give various roses their unique character.  Of course, I also shared examples of natural rose oils: Rosa Gallica Otto, Rosa Centifolia Abs., and Rosa Damascena Abs.  The best part was having everyone hold the cards pre-scented with selected isolates in one hand and smell for them on the card with the natural rose oil in the other.  Everyone’s favorite of the natural rose oils was the Centifolia and with little wonder, it’s incredibly complex with the most fabulous mildly spicy, deep rose scent with honey, berry, and violet nuances.    Among all of the roses in my garden, I have to admit an immense weakness for the moss Centifolia, “Chapeau de Napoleon”, that’s looming right now.   Not only is it so very beautiful, but the moss hybrid gives it a deep resinous, rose oxide kind of hit mixed with the luscious old rose scent complete with berry, honey, spice and violet nuances.

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penelope blush musk rose

Another absolutely wonderful rose that’s stolen my heart is a blush, musk rose that’s just begun to bloom.  The scent of the petals are quite subtle, no surprise there, as like the eglantine it”s not the flower that gives the fragrant impact, it’s the stamen.  There’s a milky, ambrettolide-ish aroma that I just love.  It’s pale and soft, which reflects the petals so perfectly.  Needless to say, I’ve been truly inspired by these beauties; even more than in previous years.  Maybe it’s because my work in general has been completely immersed (well, nearly completely) in flowers since last Autumn and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight.  😃. Awesome.

I hadn’t planned on making these rose posts into a “3-parter” but I think that’s where I’m headed with it.  I still want to share some more roses (Ispahan and New Dawn, in particular) before the season is over and we’ll be onto other things as the Summer progresses.  Plus this gives me a chance to do another little drawing /giveaway for three more lucky winners.  Just post a comment about your favorite color or genus to be entered to win a rose discovery set 2: American Beauty, Saving Grace, and Umber: Bois de Rose; all in 3ml spray samples of EdP.  Entries will be allowed until June 19 at midnight.  Winners will be chosen at random and prizes will be mailed out on June 30 (since I’m headed back east to see my eldest nephew graduate from High School. )  Good luck and don’t forget to get out there and smell the roses.    ox

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I’m excited to share the first rose drawing scents with the winners:  Congratulations Joey Vega, Rosarita, and Calshopper!  Please send your info to me at:  dsh at dshperfumes dot com  so that I may send the discovery sets to you.  I hope that you will truly enjoy these roses!   oxox

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austrian copper – yellow roses

 

June is right around the corner and so with it brings the big blooming season of my cherished roses in the garden.  The yellow roses are in bloom now as they start early but the others are just beginning to bud.  This may be in reaction to a long, cold but very wet snap we’ve had since mid-April.  The roses are loving the extra moisture and I’m expecting an incredible show in about a week.

It actually couldn’t be better timing as I’m preparing a talk for the Denver Rose Society at the Denver Botanic Gardens on June 10th.  The talk will be all about roses, rose molecules that give the aromatic signature of ‘rosey’ and how this applies to the creation of rose perfumes.  I’m really excited!  I LOVE talking about roses and rose fragrances; especially how they might seem easy to create because there are so many of them and the rose scent is so recognizable.  Of course, it’s really deceptive.  There are a gazillion different roses with as many varying scents and if you’ve started to *smell the roses* you know this is true.  It’s actually true of lots of flowers: we think we know them but if we start to examine them more closely they show many ‘faces’ and many fragrances.

 

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napoleon’s hat centifolia

 

Since last Fall or maybe even earlier I’ve been immersed in flowers and floral perfumes.  I’m not sure why, exactly; the inspiration as well as the work itself has brought me to the garden again and again.  With the Brilliant Collection for the Cartier exhibit a multi-facteted white floral emerged for Deco Diamonds, a lush, damp earth hyacinth for Jacinthe de Sapphir, and a deep ruby-hued rose for Rubis Rosé.   There’s a fascinating array of fruit nuances found in roses, from zesty citrus nuances, to crisp apple and juicy pear, to lush blackcurrant and berry-like notes.  Rubis Rosé has a deep tea rose in the heart and a bright red raspberry top note.  It’s a combination of influences: my neighbor’s vintage (1960’s) tea roses and the fabulous berry quality of classic red long stems.  I also wanted to create a rose design that spoke to a real classicism as well as the mid-century fruited-aldehydic-floral.

You know, speaking of aldehydics and roses, I find it very interesting that some of the roses in my garden display a sort of green aldehydic quality.  Part of it is a linalool-ish citral (citrus-y) flash and other parts are the geranium-like,  green rosey aromas of geraniol and geranyl acetate.  The yellow roses (the Austrian Copper roses especially) that are blooming right now have this incredible scent.  It has those geranium-rose notes at play with an almost metallic kick as if it were a constructed perfume with the citrus-green rosy mix of aldehyde c-8 and aldehyde c-12 Enic in the top.  I love it!

 

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harrison’s yellow

 

Years ago I created an all-botanical yellow rose scent called “en Vacances” which is based on a Harrison’s Yellow that grew in my back yard when I was a kid.  It always bloomed on the last day of school.  To me it was the scent of Summer Vacation.  Saving Grace, also in the Garden Bathe aromatherapy perfume collection, is another more woody-based, more clearly rose (I smell it as pink) design that has some of these characteristic gernium-rosey tonalities as well.

 

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blooming eglantine

 

But it’s not just the geranium-rosey aromas that are coming out of the rose garden.  One of my favorite aspects that is showing up is the characteristic peppery-green notes wafting from the leaves and stems on the centifolias and the fabulous scent coming from the green apple – aldehydic fragranced leaves of my eglantine.  It’s reminiscent of certain peonies, which for me are filed away in my mind as a subcategory of rose note flowers.  They are their own delicious, wonderful thing, of course, and they too have quite a lot of variation from dewy, ever so slightly powdery-apricot-y, to softly watery pear, to a very deep and spiced rosy-green.  Last year I created a Peony perfume after many years thinking on it.  I wanted to tell a story like a ‘day in the life’ of the peony flower kind of experience.  I could bring it from a slightly metallic-green, softly peppery – softened with dew note at the beginning, through its most ‘rosey’ phase and into a twilight shaded and darker aspect in the drydown.  I’m not sure it’s for everyone but I really like it and I feel it tells it’s story nicely.

 

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jacqueminot rose

 

I grow a fair number of “Old Roses” but I hadn’t really pushed myself to decipher their varied nuances to the point of creating a perfume to speak to their unique characters until recently.  Deeply honey – spice, almost carnation-esque, the old rose types are rich and can be a bit heavy.  It would be very easy to get involved with a perfume design around the old rose scent and end up at “granny rose” in no time.  Not that the roses themselves do the powdery note that I most associate with granny rose but the density of their scent and how you work with that quality could get you there if you weren’t very careful to avoid it.  I’ve smelled too many old rose and tea rose perfumes that, for me, smell of granny rose due to their sheer density.  (If you couldn’t tell: Granny rose is not my thing. At all. But I digress).   I can’t talk much about a recent project I’ve been involved with for Denver Art Museum just yet but I will say that it’s allowed me to delve into the old roses character some and pull it into a rose bouquet that is unlike any of my other rose designs.  First off, it’s not intended to be a rose soliflore but the rose is clearly experienced along with a couple of other focal floral notes.  There will be more on that topic, and more very soon. ;-)

This seems like as good a place to stop part 1 for now.  I’m hoping that as I send this out and in the next few days, some of the other buds will pop out into full blossom.

I’m so thrilled to be talking flowers and roses in particular, that I’d like to offer a little drawing for 3 sets of 3 – mini sprayers of Rubis Rosé EdP, Peony EdP, and en Vacances EdP.  Please leave a comment about your favorite rose and/or rose perfume to enter.  The 3 winners will be chosen at random in the wee hours of June 6th so the deadline to enter is 11:59 pm on June 5th.  Winners will be announced on June 6th.  I hope that everyone will enjoy the start of Summer and good luck in the draw!   ox

 

* images are all my own.  you can see most or variations on them at my instagram page.

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Although it’s been raining non-stop for nearly a month and really chilly, too, it’s almost June and Spring will be blossoming into Summer in no time.  I didn’t want to let the moment pass to reflect some more on my adored lilacs.  I wait for them all. year. long.  Something about them sends me soaring into a reverie of nostalgia; of my own past and an imaginary one of what my mother’s and grandmothers’ Springtimes must have been like.  It’s almost as if I start imagining vintage home movies in my head about how women in generations past felt about being feminine, being beautiful (?) or sultry (?) and how they would express it.  I’m not exactly sure why this sort of thing takes me over every time I smell a lilac, but it does.  I am immediately there in the back yard of my childhood, smelling the lilacs that my mother and grandmother had also enjoyed.  i think of them in the fashions of their era, with their hair and make up done, in fresh Spring dresses with a soft breeze blowing.  It’s incredibly romantic.  And elusive, like the fleeting nature of the lilacs themselves.  I feel like I can never be like them but I can surely admire them.  Maybe that is why I am such an avid admirer of the lilac.

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That sense of nostalgia doesn’t stop with just the fresh lilacs in bloom around my yard and neighborhood.  I have found that for many generations, the scent of lilacs have been the subject of many a historical perfume.  Some rather famous in their day and important to the progression of the scent, in design terms.  A couple of favorites of mine, from the early twentieth century are from the classic houses Houbigant, with “Le Temps des Lilas” (1921), and Coty with his “Lilas Blanc” (1910).  And then a couple more, the mid-century beauties (both) “White Lilac” by Mary Chess  (1930) and Dorothy Gray (1945).  In the case of Dorothy Gray, White Lilac was among her most famous and best selling.

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I didn’t get the chance to pull out the Mary Chess nor the Dorothy Gray from the ArtScent Museum‘s collection in storage but I did want to delve into the scent of the Coty “Lilas Blanc” since I have been thinking so much about the vintage styles of lilac perfumes while working with the fresh lilacs in bloom in the studio.  It’s interesting to me that as I’ve been working on my newest lilac inspired fragrance, “La Belle Saison” (a soon to be released, all natural / botanical design) as opposed to last Spring’s “White Lilac” (a mixed media creation), it’s the all-botanical that has come into being as a somewhat vintage referencing design.  Perhaps it’s that in the early 20th Century, the lilac-style molecules were less developed but I also think that perfume styles in general were more romantic and even with the soliflores, more impressionistic than realistic.  There was a sense of what a perfume must be, design-wise, whereas now, a soliflore can be as realistic and straightforward – linear as you please.  I don’t really think that was so back then.  Whether it’s a stylistic choice or a refection of the constraint of the perfumer’s palette at the time, it’s true that most florals, even intended soliflores have a ‘bouquet’ quality about them.

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ArtScent Museum’s “Lilas Blanc” de Coty, c.1920’s

Coty’s Lilas Blanc opens with a waft of soft green leaves and lemony nuances that give me an immediate impression of magnolia and hawthorn.  Just beneath is a subtle layer of violety ionones adding to the fluffy powder impression that begins moments into the scent and continues well into the drydown.  The heart begins to reveal the full bouquet concept notes of jasmine, heliotrope and clover emerge along with a rosey-honey-plummy-lilac accord that feels sweet, and rich but still quite soft and demure.

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ArtScent Museum’s “Lilas Blanc” de Coty, c.1930’s

As the base note weighs in, the jasmine and heliotrope warm themselves against musk, civet, and powedery-woody vetiveryl acetate.  The use of the acetate instead of the pure oil allows the soft fluffiness to continue instead of being pulled solidly into the earth.  The acetate is more sheer and manageable when a light hand is needed.  The very end drydown is soft, warm, and honey-floral-fuzzy, like the underside of a bumble bee.

There are nuances in Coty’s Lilas Blanc that very much remind me of vintage style apple blossom perfumes; of course because many of the same ingredients were used to create them and the overall fantasy of the “Spring Floral” has similar qualities to it.  {Apple blossoms are another charmer for me and I have a thing for finding all kinds of vintage versions to compare).  What I really found interesting is there is little evidence of the fruity nuances that are found in fresh lilac blossoms and in more modern perfume constructions.

There is definitely a romance to lilac perfumes, whether vintage or more modern in style.  I’m having a ball chasing that chameleon around with my perfumer’s organ.  And waxing poetic about one of the most beloved flowers.  ox

Image credits:  dreamy lilac shots by DSH, ArtScent Museum Lilas Blanc images by DSH, mary chess image found here; dorothy gray hand lotion image found here; dorothy gray summer splash image found on eBay.

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I think that it was last Spring that the flowers started calling.  More than ever before, I’ve wanted to engage in the realm of the flora.  Perhaps it started with Instagram coinciding with my daily walks with Xander.  I suddenly had an incredible visual outlet to use that was so easy, fun, portable, and interesting.  It was a way to make art on the spot when, these days,  studio time is so difficult to come by.  The flowers infiltrated my psyche through visual art and now it seems that my whole world, in perfumery as well, is just FLOWERS.  {I’m in love, can you tell?}

 

 

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Last years White Lilac, Peony, Scent of Hope, Jacinthe de Sapphir, and Rubis Rosé have given way to a flood of floral inspiration around the studio.  I’m just beginning to complete some of the new designs for release, but I promise you, there are some big bouquets in my future.  :)  If you follow my facebook stuff, you’ve already seen the first glimpse of the new “Fleuriste” perfume that is all carnations and chilled rose leaves.  I’m really enjoying the modern aspects and variations on the carnation theme and it’s so different from one of my best loved florals:  Oeillets Rouges, which is a warm, honey-kissed carnation.  {By the way, have you noticed the HUGE resurgence of interest in carnation perfumes?  It’s outrageous.  Now that Malmaison, and Blue Carnation are no longer in production and Bellodgia isn’t what it used to be, the carnation lovers are on the hunt for a new love}.  We’ll see how the cool-green / modern Fleuriste fares compared to the classic style of Oeillets Rouges.  I’ll be interested to see.

 

 

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I’m also really excited that at last (!) we’ve had a stellar lilac season so that I could complete an all natural / all botanical perfume based on the French lilacs that bloom in my front yard and the Persian lilacs that bloom just outside the back door to my studio.  I’ve been working on this design for about 5 years now, since the lilacs in Colorado haven’t fared so well over the past few years {with all of the late Spring snow we get, so many lilac seasons are doomed!}  But this year, even with a Mother’s Day snow storm – Yes, I did say MOTHER’S DAY – we had a fabulous crop and I reveled in their glory.  Anyone who loves lilacs will know that they are heavenly, but oh so temperamental, and vexingly  chameleon-like as the scent changes from the first bloom on the tree, to a later full bloom aroma, as well as how they change their fragrance after they have been picked.  I had to go through many a lilac season to attempt to nail them down into some kind of formula.  It’s been an intoxicatingly wild ride but I’ve arrived at something that *I* think is beautiful.  And really speaks to late Spring in all it’s splendor.  I’ll be writing more about “La Belle Saison” soon.

 

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For now I’m hoping to spread the love and flowers.  They make me happy and I hope that they do for you as well.  ox

 

image credits: crab apple blossom image, from dsh_artscent; carnation image found here; Persian lilacs and French lilacs images from dsh_artscent.

Wishing everyone a new year filled with brilliance, surprising moments of light and clarity, health, creativity, and most of all love.

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Let’s not forget laughter, too.  Happy Year of the Sheep my friends (starting in February, of course).  oxox

image credit: I found this Shaun the Sheep image here.

For awhile now, since cannabis became legal in Colorado, it’s been on the news, on talk shows and buzzing just about everywhere.  There of lots of folks having a lot of fun with this whole thing and I’ve been thinking that it’s about time that I had some fun with it, too.  In all honesty, I have played with various marijuana accords for years (I think that I started in earnest in about 2005 when a friend said that a various strain was their favorite smell EVER).  I’ve created and even used a few of my accords in perfumes, from Bodhi Sativa for the PLAP-athon in 2010, to Le Smoking for the YSL Retrospective collection in 2012.

 

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It’s funny to think that I have smelled and “appraised”?, “reviewed”?, no, dissected? quite a few strains of cannabis over the years, mostly as a kind of parlor trick for many of my musician* / stoner friends even though I’m not a smoker myself (being asthmatic and all, smoking anything is OUT).    My friends think it’s hilarious and / or fascinating as they hear me describe the top, middle and base nuances of their favorite kind bud.  There is an intrinsic sort of perfume to this generous plant from animalic (skunk) to fruity, incens-ey, conifer, floral, sticky sweet, dry woody and green leafy, etc.  To check out some real flavor / fragrance profiling, this chart from a Netherlands seed company has some amazing variation:

 

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So, here comes the fun.  I’ve busted out some of my older notebooks and taken a look at some of my early accord notes and yes, I like what I started.  It’s time to finish and I’ve chosen four variations to focus on.  I’ve actually been contacted many times to create some cannabis perfumes using exclusive strains for some of the dispensaries, but none of these potential clients has taken the final plunge into investing in the concept.  Mores the pity for me as it would be wonderful to play with some of these unusual flavor/ fragrance profiles that these unique strains possess.

Back to playing with the accords: I’m going to start at the beginning with my very first which was based on a conifer-resin / dried  bud / green smoke kind of scent.  It’s quite woody with a definite conifer (junipers, spruce and pines) feel but it’s the ‘green smoke’ that interests me.  I want this scent to be a kind of “you’re walking in the woods and you smell the smoke(rs) over the trail” kind of thing.   All of the cannabis scent designs feature an atmospheric quality; I think that is just part of the mystique around the plant and the imbibing culture.  Cannabis has such a distinctive aroma that it tends to evoke some kind of ‘otherness’ which is transporting.  The real design challenge is to create with this distinctive / atmospheric note and still end up with something you would call ‘perfume’.  To my mind, a perfume has a sense of presence that is beautiful, well constructed, tells some kind of story (or sings a song or paints a picture… you get the idea) and very often displays it’s sense of continuity to the history of perfume.  There are artistic references and precedents that came before that show up in a contemporary work that make it seem to ‘fit’ within the structure of our expectation.  This is just part of my loose definition, however.  I suspect that there are many other perfume designers out there working today that want to break with any sense of continuity and create purely abstracted / atmospheric / story telling aromas and that’s great but if it’s not wearable and recognizable as perfume, maybe it isn’t.  It’s aroma but not perfume.  Anyway, that’s a debate that could take far too long to ever get to a conclusion with.  These are just my thoughts on it.  Back to the perfumes (and yes, I want these to be perfumes within my own criteria, so they have to be wearable).

 

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The conifer design has come together with the help of some unusual materials that I had to bust out just for this project.  One of them is chrysanthemum.  I haven’t used this note in too many designs; one reason is that studies show that many people associate the scent of chrysanthemum with death.  (I don’t really want to create funereal perfumes – unless I am expressly trying to do that).   But paired with the sulfuric, tangy-sweet scent of hemp, it works beautifully.  Another aromatic that I haven’t had the opportunity to use much before this design is the common juniper oil that I got from my friend, distiller Eric Bresselsmith.  It’s a great fresh, green juniper note that doesn’t do the too terpenoid signature that juniper berry oil does.  It gives a fresher, sweeter feel to the topnote and does part of that sticky sensation that speaks to ‘bud’ as it heads to the heart.  Lastly, the Ayurvedic co-distill Choyas, which I just can’t seem to get enough of these days, were indispensable.  I used a combination of  the rich, smoked wood Choya Loban as well as the densely calcined Choya Nahk.  It took a bit of doing to turn this smoke note from brown / black to ‘green’ but I did it, I think, with the help of galbanum and sweet basil.  The entire foray into the woods and back rests on a smooth bed of sandalwood, both natural and some of the sandalwood-like molecules, as well as some animalics (yes, I had to use the synthetic skunk note I found).  All in all, this design dries down into a very elegant, masculine-leaning perfume that displays the hemp thing but doesn’t totally flaunt it (even with the skunk).  I really like that.

 

i love you mary jane

My second indulgence is way more playful and another completion of an older accord / idea from more than a few years ago.  It’s a fruity – indolic floral cannabis that is *very* hemp, and very clearly a pot perfume.  It’s got a surprising amount of fruit, at least *I* am surprised at how many / much fruit the cannabis could handle and require, really, to fulfill the design.  One of the elements I love about this perfume is the topnote…all tangy grapefruit, rhubarb and cassis bud juxtapose  a richly sweet blackberry, apricot and mango accord.  ( I said there was a lot of fruit).  I never would have thought that I would go for anything quite like this but it’s surprising.  The dominant cannabis note with the ‘super fruit’ in the top and a big sampaguita flower heart makes for a sensuously wild ride.  I did want at least one of these designs to read as a big sweet bud and this is the one.  I don’t think that this kind of design is for everyone (well the whole cannabis thing is divisive) but for those that love that smell, this will be the one that hits the spot, I predict.  There’s also a very nice oriental lily, osmanthus and some ylang ylang in the heart and  more than a few fun resinous-wood with incense nuances in the drydown.  Of course one of the notes that many folks associate with pot is patchouli and this is where patchouli is the most featured of all of the designs.  I couldn’t call this a typical “fruit-chouli” but on some skins it may actually read that way.  On my own skin, which has gotten way sweeter since I had a child, it’s bright, sweet, and very hemp-ish in the first notes but dries down into a soft, green edged, fruity-floral-woody.

The third of the collection is probably my personal favorite, but on that, I’m going to say goodnight, and save the third and fourth designs for next time.  I will say that this third scent is one that I have a hard time getting enough of…especially in the drydown.  It’s kind of, (gulp), addictive.

(Disclaimer: * This isn’t to say that musicians are synonymous with pot smokers, either).

image credits: lab of cannabis vials image found here; flavor wheel image found here; rocky mountain high image found here;  i love you mary jane image found here;

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