Kalani Honua Blog - Volunteer Life

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Noelani Rodriguez

Photography by Jose Martinez At Kalani, a Hawaiian yoga retreat center and educational village just 5 miles from where lava flows into the sea, Director Richard Koob playfully pronounces that "I Lava You" is the mantra this Valentine's day.

Based on the foothills of the largest volcano of the Hawaiian Islands, Kalani is near the home of the mythical goddess Pele, the Kilauea volcano. Pele, which translates to "lava", is the spirit of all things passionate and fiery, burning away illusion to find love and compassion within. Pele could be thought of as a Goddess that watches over Aloha Spirit.

Perhaps Pele could be thought of as a Valentine's Goddess of sorts, spreading the message of love and Aloha Spirit.

But what is Aloha Spirit exactly?

Stewart Blackburn, a Kalani facilitator that runs a popular class on Hawaiian Shamanism, talks about getting more Aloha Spirit in your life. He describes "Aloha Spirit" as finding your own joy. The Hawaiians believe that your power comes from feeling joy, as joy gives you the power to live, and to love others fully. Stewart talks about "Aloha Spirit" as something we can practice with a Beloved. "Being connected feels good," he explains, "things like criticism hurt connection, while love and joy help build connection." He talks about Aloha Spirit as a daily spiritual practice for sharing love and joy with others, and thus being on the right path.

Charles Muir, a well loved teacher of Tantra for 32 years and co-author of the book "Art of Conscious Loving", who has recently been featured on Oprah radio, is coming to Kalani for a couples retreat for Valentine's Day. Charles is known for getting couples to re-connect in positive ways, and connection is part of building joy and "Aloha." Charles is known for helping men creating more intention and energy around loving, like drawing a hot bath with rose petals for their lady. Women create a similar experience for men on a subsequent evening. Couples can usually be seen here smiling on Valentine's Day, after taking a workshop like a couple's retreat.

If couples here at Kalani need any help, scent from Hinano flower from a Hala tree is said to add romantic punch to a partnership. According to Maui magazine, ancient Hawaiian culture utilized the Hinano flower petals for love rituals: "A young kane [man] or wahine [woman] desiring to awaken the affections of another would seek out a fruiting male [Hala] tree. Male trees sport prominent spikes called hinano. Suggestive appearance aside, the spikes are covered in sweet-scented yellow pollen considered an aphrodisiac by Hawaiians. They used this pre-Contact Love Potion #9 to perfume their bedding and dust like talc beneath their malo, or loincloths."

Many couples have renewed their vows here at Kalani, enjoying the epic oceanfront views from lookout point nearby, also called "The Point," where you can see lava flow into the water, or see turtles or whales jump out of the sea. Couples can enjoy plush tropical scenery on land or at sea, with so many scents and sights.

Many also enjoy healthy cuisine at Kalani which is legendary, including ahi tuna, basil limeade, and watercress soup. Along with many activities and yoga workshops to take and whales to watch at nearby Kahena beach, couples can combine intimacy with group activity here at Kalani.

Couples that come to Kalani get to practice Aloha Spirit, with each other and also with the friendly staff and volunteer community.

In the spirit of Aloha, don't forget to say "I Lava You" to everyone you can.

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Monday, September 27, 2010

Anyone who has had the pleasure of a Kalani open mic night will be familiar with the song Livin’ At Kalani.  This ditty was penned by our very own Ukelele Davey, in honor of our fabulous home in the jungle. 

Ukelele DaveyLivin’ At Kalani by Davey Groth

Now I moved to Hawai’i... to shed my stress and strife...
And strip my dull existence... to find a new direction in life...

Kalani Oceanside Retreat, it’s so pretty, it’s so sweet
For my mosquito bitten feet, We’re Livin’ At Kalani

Aloha flows from everyone, it’s shining brighter than the sun
You’d see it if the rain was done, Livin’ At Kalani

It’s a pretty place I know where work is almost play
I see so many happy people naked everyday

Yoga is just so divine, it keeps my body feeling fine
Cause hula wants a supple spine, Livin’ At Kalani

The kitchen crew, they work so hard – searin’ ono, braisin’ chard
You can hardly taste the lard, Livin’ At Kalani

It’s a pretty place I know where work is almost play
I see so many happy people naked everyday

Richard dancing on the lawn, everybody – dance along!
Shake your ass to a Hawai’ian song!  Livin’ At Kalani

Tiki working day and night – we love her, she’s just outta sight
Won’t someone take her home tonight!
Livin’ At Kalani – ONE MORE!

It’s a pretty place I know where work is almost play
I see so many happy people naked everyday

I love my sweet Ohana crew, they’re so giving – they’re so true
But only for a month or two.....
(shout out your number of months at Kalani when prompted)
We’re Living At Kalani-eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

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Friday, July 9, 2010

Barcus

Ok, I will be honest and say that I am writing this blog because I was asked to write a blog. This is a good thing though, to quote Martha, cause I might not have otherwise. I have said before that I needed inspiration first. I am not the type to just sit down and start writing. Well inspiration is now at hand, and feet actually. I will explain the ‘feet actually’ part, but as it is I sit here thinking now how many different directions that this subject could take me, so before I begin let me say forgive me if I digress extensively.

feetBack to the feet. I love my feet! I love walking, almost on level with a Forrest Gump type. I have taken walks of 8-12 hrs just to clear and sort my thoughts. My feet are a great source of inspiration for me. On my walks I let my mind wonder, taking in the sites of my surroundings. In the ‘old days’ back in the ‘default world’ I was often walking through neighborhoods. The sites that I saw were other people’s yards. I would absorb the arrangement of plants that others had put together, make alterations on mental graph paper and file them away.

In 2004 my partner Kimo led me to Kalani and my feet were immediately excited, 120 acres to walk around and call home. Actually, we came to play a game of volleyball and were so impressed that we decided to volunteer and we have been here ever since. I went into the Landscape dept. and was soon walking here and there, making great discoveries for a Midwest farm boy. On one of my walks I was up along the mauka border of Kalani when I came across the Kalani plant nursery. I remember being so excited to see all these exotic tropical plants. It was only a few tables but that was it I started dreaming of all the gardens I could create with these beauties. My feet once again brought me to a space ripe with inspiration and my mind began picking the fruit. I took up the care of the nursery, weeding it, organizing like plants together, and watering.

It was a great space, but shortly after I was asked to head up the department, I decided to move the nursery to a more central location on property. At that time I had only one volunteer helping but we were ho’omau, determined to make it even better in the new space. And boy did we. We started propagating from cuttings we collected in the existing gardens on Kalani and from some “found” on roadside walks. Thank you feet. We grew slowly, but we grew. It was the experience that was important not the speed with which we created.

It was also a learning experience. Ti and ginger do not grow like corn and tomatoes. Then along came Bud ‘the wiser’ who sat down beside us and said, here let me show you how it is done. The best way to do this is to blah, blah, blah. I told him that I always thought the best way to do it was to have the guy with the best way, do it. So I put him in charge of our propagation efforts and before we knew it the nursery had grown to about one acre.

BarcusAll this time my feet were taking me all over Kalani. I have gone into areas that humans have not gone in decades if not centuries. On one of those walks I came across an area that was dominated by invasive non-native plants. These I knew would have to come down. So I began thinking of what to replace them with, when it came to me the idea of turning it into a nursery spot. It was on the mauka end of Kalani again, it was in line with our maintenance/solar building, and Bud was already saying that we needed more room if he was to continue producing more plants. So I put it before my crew who thought it was a big job, but also who new my favorite word was Ho’omau, determined.

Well it took us about 2 yrs but my feet now stand in our new mauka nursery. It is about four acres and includes an aquaponic vegetable and herb garden, composting site, and hundreds of exotic tropical plants. In our native/cultural plant collection alone we have 72 Kou, 30 Kukui, over 100 Pohinahina , and over 300 Ti plants just to mention a few. We also have palms, cycads, gingers, crotons, lilies, ferns, and orchids again just to mention a few. In short it is a GREAT SPACE that my feet lead me to. My feet take me here every morning now. I even come here with eight other feet on the weekend when I walk our two dogs. They like it too, lots to smell. Ahhhhhh, again I love my feet. They always keep taking me one step closer to my dreams. Mahalo no na kupuna.

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Thursday, May 6, 2010

Chris Roufs
  1. swing!Push through the first few days. Your body and mind are not used to the pace, peace and beauty of this place, or the kindness and love of your new ohana. (Your soul is, that is why you came. It felt a calling.)

  2. At first don’t sit in the middle of a table at meals. It’s difficult because you feel torn between two conversations. Aim for the end seat, it’s much better. Listen to the flow of the conversation and join in when you feel like it.

  3. Smile at people and introduce yourself. Don’t worry about names. Ask again if you can’t remember. No one will be offended and the names will come faster than you think.

  4. Be kind and talkative with your new roommate. If you are lucky, you’ll find an amazing new friend who you can share your experience with.

  5. If you work in the kitchen, serve the food as much as you can in the beginning and get to know the faces of your fellow ohana. Watch the joy in their faces when you serve something that they love! When you’re up for a new challenge, become one with the Hobart Dishwashing machine!

  6. Keep an eye on the Free Box – you’ll find some pretty amazing things!

  7. Do YOGA! If you haven’t done yoga before, start slowly and tell the teacher that you’re new. When they ask if everyone is familiar with something, don’t say yes because you’re embarrassed. Learn the right techniques and sooner than you know it you’ll be doing poses you didn’t think were possible at the start.

  8. Go to Restorative Yoga on Saturday mornings with Kathy. Find relaxation and inspiration and then go out and seek the color RED!

  9. Keep a journal, and write in it EVERY day! Not only will you have a great memory, but it will help you work through and process things.

  10. Ask yourself questions. You have the time and are in a loving space in which to do so. Why did that upset me? What is it about that person that bothers me and WHY? And you’ll almost always find that it’s NEVER about them! It’s about YOU!!!

  11. Take deep breaths all the time.

  12. Enjoy the pool – in the sunshine, in the rain, under the stars - in your birthday suit!

  13. Go to The Point whenever you feel you need a recharge. Marvel at the ocean’s beauty and power. Find the tree swing and watch for Honu (Sea Turtles) to pop up for air – polarized sun glasses help a lot! Watch for whales and dolphins – a surprising treat! And if someone says they’ve never seen a turtle from the swing, take them down and share the experience with them.

  14. Make friends that will last a lifetime.

  15. Go to Ning’s for Thai in Pahoa! Do Happy hour in Pahoa Village Café or Luquin’s!

  16. Go to Sun Dance and shake your booty!

  17. Put yourself on the A-Frame waiting list and have fun decorating it and making it your own space! Don’t keep food in it and watch out for Gecko Poop and Hornets!

  18. If you can, EXTEND YOUR STAY!!

  19. Rent a car and go on a road trip! Take as many people as you can fit! Find a fun road trip song and play it over and over and over! Laugh and sing, and practice your car dancing skills!

  20. Respect the island and all it has to offer you. Ask for permission and for safe passage from the universe when you go on your adventures. Do magic fingers and say, “Wooooo!” Works every time!

  21. Go visit the following (optional): Kahena Beach, Tide Pools, South Point and Green Sand Beach, Captain Cook and Two-Step, Ho’okena Beach Park, Waipio Valley, Kilauea Iki in Volcano National Park, drive over the Saddle Road.

  22. Go visit the following (mandatory):

    1. The Top of Mauna Kea at Sunset and the Visitor Center for the star show – an amazing experience you’ll remember forever! Bring a jacket.

    2. Pololu Valley – Amazingly beautiful and there are tree swings at the bottom – connect with your childhood self!!

    3. Sunrise at Kalapana! EVERYONE should see the sunrise with its beautiful orange glow.

    4. The Secret Lava Tube at Kalapana (that makes its way to the ocean)! Take someone along who has been before, and don’t let the first few feet of the cave scare you. Like difficult times in your life, take a few deep breaths, let go of any non-essential stuff that is weighing you down, and press forward. Just around the corner is one of the most amazing things you’ll ever see! (And if someone is scared, hold their hand and help them through.) Stand in the large chamber with your traveling companions and turn out your flashlights. Marvel at the darkness and the quiet and meditate for a while. Move forward and literally see the light at the end of the tunnel. Do the limbo to get to the ocean and when you do, celebrate the beauty of this magical place by taking beautiful pictures in silhouette. Show off your Yoga or Meditation Poses. Carefully venture to the very edge of the cave and if you’re lucky you’ll see lava hitting the ocean off in the distance.

  23. Practice the art of the self-photo (on your own or with friends).

  24. Publish photos of your adventures on the internet so others can see how wonderful this place is and maybe make the journey themselves someday.

  25. If you meet someone new in your life shortly before your meant to leave for Kalani, go anyway. If that person loves you and the universe wants things to work out, they’ll still be there when you get back and you’ll be that much more at peace with yourself to start a new life adventure or journey with them.

  26. Maybe get a tattoo to permanently remind you of what you experienced and learned here. It’s meant to remind you of a special time in your life. How could you regret it?

  27. Be sad when it’s time to leave (don’t hold back on the tears if and when they come), but also be joyous at what you’ve experienced.

  28. Tell yourself that you’ll be back someday and manifest it, make it happen.

  29. Bring the Spirit of Aloha back with you to your life outside of Kalani. And if you feel its power slipping away from you, take a moment, close your eyes and journey back here. Find that special place that you found for yourself (be it The Point, The Swing, The Pool, The Lanai…). Say hello to those special people you met, your ohana. Feel the love that you have for them, and they for you, the universal energy that connects us all. Then open your eyes and greet the present moment (which is all we have) with a smile and with love in your heart!
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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Rose Goosen

Hey yo, your little sister will now decree
that Kalani Kalani is the place to be
It took a long strange trip to get me here
and I'm-a tell the story so lend an ear
I'm a gypsy pirate kinda ballerina
started trekking this land at age nineteen
About five months in I needed new direction
so I found a spot for some self-reflection
in the Gumboot Cafe, Robert's Creek
It was so fortuitous that I should meet
Ambassador John Paul, he knew what I needed
and his advice, I had to heed it:
"Kalani, Kalani, they're throwing down right now
ain't just a retreat, girl, it's an Ohana!
Keep ya bags packed, gonna love it, you'll see
when you get your butt down to Hawaii."
I was fancy free and so footloose
moving down south like the Canada Goossen
Washington, Oregon, Califor-nye-aye,
I was making new friends most every day.
Made Frisco baby, and lived in a van
with some musical soulmates, doing the can-can.
Hellos and goodbyes all blurring together,
Hell no, you can't reach me but I'll write you a letter
from Honolulu, mama, Waikiki
you'll find me hustlin' tourists and turning Japanese
for a bit, until I renounce all this
and take a little sojourn into consciousness
spent ten days as a nun, day and night
splayed out my hipbones and my insight
but by day ten I was screaming for more,
motored to Sundance, and I hit the floor.
Kalani Kalani! I came sight unseen,
didn't know I'd be living in luxury!
All these beautiful faces and nubile nubs
sipping OG juices in hot tubs
"Cool down mama, don't set up your tent,
we got half a room for you to circumvent.
And hey, what's that what's that ya say?
Ain't just desserts, it's dessert buffet!"
So merci beaucoup, powers that be,
nosotros tenemos suerte d'esta aqui.
Any way I say man, you oughta know
the sentiment is Aloha and Mahalo.

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Friday, February 26, 2010

Jacob Tuft

Barcus and JacobAquaponics is the buzzword around Kalani these days.  When I moved to Kalani a year ago, I had never even heard of the word, and now, I seem to be the local expert. 

It all started in Kalani’s drive to become more sustainable on this island that currently imports 90% of its consumables.  Gardens to feed the guests, volunteers, and staff that number between one and two hundred at any given meal were an obvious place to put our energy.  There’s only one problem … living on a part of the island that was flowing lava as recently as a hundred years ago, there is very little soil to grow in.  While considering trucking in soil which hardly seemed sustainable, my boss discovered a system of farming being developed in the Virgin Islands that not only did not need soil, but produced fish to eat as well….Aquaponics.

The word AQUAPONICS is a combination of AQUACULTURE which is the raising fish, and HYDROPONICS which is the growing of plants in nutrient filled water instead of soil.  Aquaponics marries these complimentary forms of food production into a stable ecosystem that solves many of the problems that occur when each is practiced independently. 

When I heard Kalani was interested in exploring this new food producing technology, I knew I was the person to do it.  After leaving my engineering profession 4 years ago for the simple island life, I had been missing the challenge of problem solving and experimentation that had been such a part of my every day life on the mainland.   Combined with my knowledge of fish and filter design from working at an aquarium store in my youth with my more recent interest in gardening and sustainability, I began a project that has brought me more joy from creating than I ever felt in my whole engineering career.

AquaponicsI researched ways people were doing Aquaponics locally and on the internet, primarily influenced by Friendly Aquaponics located here on the big island.  It became apparent that the size system required to supply our kitchen’s demand for 900 pounds a month of greens would be a bit risky to jump right into.  We decided on something much smaller to prove the concept and started construction in November.  Due to the thorough training from Friendly Aquaponics as well as the simplicity of the design, things went very smoothly and we had our first harvest in early February.  There is still much experimentation and learning to be done before we stop buying greens for the kitchen, but plans for a first stage of expansion are already underway.

I’d like to acknowledge Barcus Adams, Richard Koob, Stuart Blackburn, and especially Tim Mann and Suzanne Friend at Friendly Aquaponics (www.friendlyaquaponics.com) all of whom were instrumental in this project’s success.  Thank you for bringing joy and gratification back into my work life.

Note: You can read more about Jacob's aquaponics adventures at his blog: http://aquaponics.totallytuft.com

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Saturday, January 23, 2010

Amy Murphy

I will call it a blur
But it has meant more than that
I've been dropping
Pieces of my past
Everywhere

Making room
Becoming lighter

I've sacrificed
Layer of my hands
Sometimes, my heart
To feel

To recognize
Groves in the coral
Colors in the sky
Hints of pain, in every pupil

I've watched
Patient surfers
Wait for a wave
Lava
Break the surface

I've witnessed
Angles
In every face
Soften

Leaving
My shoes at the door
Among other things
Revising the plan
Using an eraser
To sharpen today's picture
Gently blowing
Shavings of cruelty
From the page

Seeing
How beautiful we are
When we're destroyed

Realizing
How many hands it takes
To put one person
Back together

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Monday, January 4, 2010

Jenn Campbell (Volunteer)

Jenn Campbell

Four years ago I stepped onto Kalani property wide eyed and ready for a new adventure.  If I had known what Kalani would become for me, what it would invite into my life, I never would have believed it.  Words cannot express the depth of gratitude I have for Kalani and for each of you with whom I have had the honor to live with, love with and play with over my time here.

To my divine Ohana:

Thank you for being a mirror, for helping me to see myself more clearly~

Thank you for being my teachers~

Thank you for your smiles, your words, your challenges~

Thank you helping me to face my fears~

I died and was reborn a hundred times over during my time at kalani.  With each cycle, I grieved and then rejoiced.  I gave birth here.  I gave birth to myself.  And like any birth, I went through the labor pains.  At times it felt so strong it brought me to my knees with such humbling surrender.  And yet, like a mother holding her child, Kalani has held me in such tenderness through it all, and helped me time and time again to remember, that there is only love and fear is not real.

I live in love and carry each of you with me as I step into a new adventure.  I am in love with each of you.  You are all my brothers and sisters and your prescence, your divine image, has made an everlasting imprint on my heart.  I'll be seeing you!! 

Until then...ALL my love~ Jenn

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christina

ChristinaI’ve been here a month now.  While it’s hard for me to easily define what Kalani has meant to me so far, I see my life here as a series of wonderful moments strung together. 

Taken as a whole, these moments are especially important to me because they are in such contrast to my former cubicle job and city lifestyle.  Things like; walking across a dewy field in the evening while the coquis chirp and the stars fill the sky,  being part of the team that creates the meals that nourish this community,  laughing with friends on a day off at the beach, and being so close to the awesome power of Pele. 

I also love seeing people every day who care about each other, nature, the earth and themselves, and exploring movement through yoga and dance.   I want to continue to be a part of the ever changing community here, knowing that its power to change me is incredible.  I feel supported here and I think Kalani is an excellent place to discover my unique talents, the ones that I didn’t have the time or energy to explore in my San Francisco life.  I can’t think of anywhere else I’d rather be right now than here.

I think the biggest benefit to being here has been the warmth and friendliness of everyone I’ve met.  I can sometimes be slow to get very close with people, and the welcoming aloha spirit of the Kalani Ohana has been so helpful in overcoming my initial shyness.  I’m very much looking forward to continuing to build stronger and deeper connections with people here.

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Monday, November 16, 2009

Jim Larsen

Jim LarsenIt is what you see when looking back that makes a place a home. I had to get away to discover that. So, it’s good I left when I did. I’m talking about October, 2008. I had been at Kalani for a year. I needed to go. I needed new adventure. I needed new sights. I needed new people. And I got all that. I traveled the world. Parts of it anyway.
 
Most of my travels were great. I saw the Redwood trees of California for the first time. I visited a dear friend in Oregon. I got caught up with my family in Virginia. I tutored Tibetan monks in India. Those monks, they speak English that much better now thanks to me. That’s something I’m proud of.
 
Then I ended up in a place where I just wasn’t thrilled to be. Turned out, this was the best part of my travels. It’s what I figured out while there that made it worth while. I took a job as an English teacher in Korea. So I went to Korea. Korea didn’t turn out to be such a good a place for me. I didn’t much care for Korea.
 
Kalani propertyThe thing is, at Kalani, and on The Big Island in general, the aina, the land, the Earth is treated with reverence. I love that about this place. As an empath, empathic to the planet itself, I appreciate feeling this oneness with nature. Here, we live in nature. We live with nature. We live of nature. We are nature.
 
I feel it when I take a deep breath, remembering that this air is the freshest on the planet. I feel it when I watch the cycles of the moon in the sky night after night, watching the stars- the shooting stars. I feel it when I meditate at the point or swim in the ocean. At night, the coqui frogs lull me to sleep, often speaking to me personally as I meditate on their voices.
 
Red TiWe do not hide from nature here. We do not escape it. We do not alter it to suit our needs. We breathe it in and hold it. We eat our meals on the lanai- outside, breathing.  We do yoga and dance within view of the ocean. When it rains, we walk in the rain. When the sun shines, we walk in the sun.
 
In Korea, it was different. Where was nature? I couldn’t find it. I’m sure it was around somewhere, but from where I was, I couldn’t see it. Where I was, nature- our Mother Earth, my Mother Earth, was held in bondage. Her flesh rotted over with cement and pavement, blistered with an endless sprawl of apartment buildings and retail establishments and buildings and more apartment buildings. Where was the moon? Where were the stars? When I breathed, my lungs hurt from the pollution. I got a sinus infection and needed medication. That didn’t set well with me.
 
It occurred to me that I was home-sick. I found myself looking back, missing what I had. Funny though, I wasn’t missing my old life- the life I lived in Virginia where I spent thirty some years growing up and existing. No, I wasn’t missing the house I used to own or the car I used to drive or the job I used to go to or even the sixty five inch television I used to watch reality shows on. That’s not what I was missing. Nope, not at all.
 
Know what I was missing? I was missing getting my hands dirty pulling weeds. I was missing my connection to the earth. I was missing Grandfather Sun and Grandmother Moon. I was missing it all. I was missing Hawaii. I was missing Kalani. So I said goodbye to Korea and went home. Now I am home. This is my home. Kalani.
 
Kalani woodsI see that now. Kalani is home to me. It’s not just a place to visit. It’s not just a place to pass through. It is a place, for me, to set down roots. I realized that while being away, while looking back. Home is what you see when looking back. It’s where you want to return to when away. That’s what I have done. Returned. Here I am. My home. My headquarters. The vantage point from which I watch the universe expand its inhabitants evolve. This is where I want to be, so this is where I am. It is good.

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