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June. Already?

There’s something about the nicest months of the year – time speeds up and weeks feel more like days. It’s a hilarious juxtaposition from my childhood when it felt like Summer lasted for pretty much half of the year. If only.

How was your Memorial Day? We did the usual fun and games starting with the parade Monday morning with my family and following it up with an early cook-out. Bratwurst, an assortment of deli salads, homemade guacamole, and fruit.

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There’s something wonderful about eating summery foods in the summertime. You could eat this same plate in January and it just wouldn’t be as good.

The day before all the festivities I had been sitting at the gas station waiting for Ben when I noticed this weird flaky stuff coming into the car. A few minutes later I smelled smoke and by the time Ben returned to the car we could see a large bloom of smoke coming down one of the main roads. Off to investigate.

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Turns out it was an apartment building that caught on fire. We arrived and there were a bunch of fire trucks but no one was doing anything, which I thought was odd. It was a good 15 minutes before they started spraying the water. You could see the smoke coming out through the entire length of the complex’s roof line.

The water coming out of the house really ripped apart the roof. It made the roof look like it was made of cardboard or some other flimsy material because of how easily it blew off.

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After a while some of the firefighters went inside to check things out. They returned with one of the tenants’ cats.

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I have a really hard time with house fires. I remember watching one as a kid and it made a lasting impact. People probably thought I lived here because I was crying and everyone else just looked mildly interested.

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I hope all the spectators have renter’s insurance!!

That’s as much as I could watch. It started feeling weird gawking at someone else’s misfortune. If it were me, I wouldn’t want all the people setting up their tripods and video recorders to capture it all for Facebook or whatever. We left.

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The news said they were still investigating the cause but that everyone had been out at the time it started and they rescued 4 animals. No injuries, thankfully.

Even though I’m not posting as much (and I need to work on that), life is pretty much the same as any other year. We’re working on transporting rabbits off our property (caught 3 but I spied another one last night, so time to re-bait the traps!!!).

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I’ve been out walking more and taking pictures of flowers I like. I lost a few of my new shrubs over the Winter and that was frustrating because of the lost time/money. So now I need to start again.

I definitely want some daffodils like these, but I think the bulbs need to be planted in the Fall… so I’ll have to hold out a bit.

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I also like these irises. They have smaller leaves that aren’t as thick and I think they look really pretty.

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I probably need to head to a nursery and have them help me. Ideally I’d like to pick things that flower at different times so I have something pretty to look at from early Spring to mid/late Fall.

My front yard garden bed is prepped and waiting! The little columbine I planted last year survived along with some flowers from my flower pot that re-seeded themselves.

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But, I REALLY need lily of the valley. I’m just not sure where to plant it where it would get ample shade and how I’d prevent the bunnies from snacking on it all day…

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One of me favorite smells!!

Well yesterday was pretty much perfect – the temp was in the mid 70s with a light breeze and low humidity. Sigh. Let’s repeat that for another 3 months, ok? Today it might hit 80 but I’m hoping the humidity is still low. Maybe I can get some more yardwork done. I’ve weeded my vegetable garden THREE times and can’t seem to get it to a spot where I can start planting, so I’m a bit behind there. Maybe I can get one of the beds done today so it can take advantage of the rain that’s supposed to come all weekend? We’ll see.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

Getting into a New Swing

Hey – it’s been a while. My blog has been on my mind a lot but when you aren’t in the habit, it’s harder to sit down and make the time!

I’m unemployed now and am settling into a couple months of anti-stress self medication (ie, extra sleep and long walks outside!) It’s weird, getting into a new normal but I know this won’t last for long. I’ll need to start thinking about a new job pretty soon. Although, not having to go to work isn’t the worst thing – ha ha. The first few weeks were pretty difficult mentally and I was harder on myself then I should have been. Now that the weather has improved and I’m able to get outside and breath in fresh Spring air, I’m feeling much better.

I used to think Fall was my favorite time of year but I’m in love with the rejuvenating aspects of Spring. It can’t be beat! I love the sun, the longer days, the warmer but-not-too-warm temperatures and of course everything flowers.

My little flower garden keeps growing:

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and growing:

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I made another day trip to Wausau a couple weeks ago and saw massive flooding at one of the public parks. Green Bay hasn’t had anything like this! You can’t event see in the picture below where the street ended and the actual river begins. Insane but really cool to see.

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I’ve been spending a lot of time wandering around our local park, collecting Pokemon and just getting out of the house. Lots to see every day!

A kite that’s been stuck in a tree for almost a week…

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Pelicans by the dam…

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A little friend who pops out to say “hello” every day I walk past his house…

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And the biking/walking trail that’s getting increasingly lush and green every single day! ❤

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I need to resolve to get blogging more. No excuses. I’ve had so many ideas for this little blog but I’m like a kid whose eyes are bigger than her stomach. 🙂  Hope you are all doing well and enjoying these precious Spring days as much as I am!

Looking Back at 2008

It was the day before Thanksgiving in 2008. I walked into work and spent the morning chatting with co-workers. I swung by the company store (where they sold company products at massive discounts) and looked at the almost-bare shelves. The ladies who ran the company store were both colleagues and friends and I had done many system enhancements over the years for them. When I collected a large handful of random stuff and went to ring up my purchases, they looked at me, smiled, and told me to just take it all – free of charge. Everything left over was just bring boxed up and sent away to other plants and they were happy to give things to me.

My team was then ushered into the main conference room. The once bright and cheery room that boasted huge canvases of children and families playing in the sunshine now had blank walls and wires curling up like haggard old tree branches. I looked around at the casual attire (jeans, sweatshirts), bags of popcorn and sodas that were all part of the “company morale” signifying Corporate’s desire to keep people from leaving too soon. But today, it didn’t matter. I don’t really remember anything said to us in that last meeting except for handing over my key card. I know there were a few excited people – those close enough to retirement that they were being “bridged” a year or two early – but mostly everyone was somber, feeling in those last moments all the years of memories that were being effectively stopped. At that moment, we were all losing our jobs. The press was littered outside, I remember being told multiple times not to talk to them, and as we walked out past those eager for a glimpse and statement about a moment raw and painful in our lives, our department drove down to a nearby restaurant for an early lunch together.

I was the baby of the group and due to my young age received a meager severance package. Listening to those around me I felt comforted knowing that we were all in this together. We’d all find something. We’d all be there for one another. Slowly, one by one, we did all find new jobs.

Now here we are almost 9 years later and nothing really has changed. Just a couple weeks shy of my 8 year anniversary with my new company and I quit. The difference though is that I’m all alone this time around. Maybe I have more skills and experience this time around but my confidence in myself and my abilities has never been weaker. I don’t want to do anything. I don’t want to sell myself to another company so they can bleed all my energy and life and then toss me aside. I’m tired. I’m stressed. I’m sick.

But I’m also free. I realize this is one of those transition times and I’m going to be taking a few weeks to catch my breath before plunging back into the waters of job searching. Maybe I can regain some confidence. Maybe I can catch up on some sleep.

The good news is I actually might also have some time to blog and some more interesting content then waxing about being stressed and how my boss is evil. Ha! Ooh, maybe I might even have some time for a blog makeover that I’ve been desperately needing for a couple years now. The possibilities are endless!

Thanks for hanging in there with me. ❤

Ali

Lots of Chocolate

Good morning on a very early (and warm) Monday morning!

Ben had an early flight to Texas this morning so after I dropped him off at the airport, I realized I had some time before work. I stopped off at a new-to-me coffee shop a few miles from the airport and am sipping on the latte of the month: chocolate covered strawberry and munching on a warm blueberry muffin. Morning power food!

I’ve been working on quietly wrapping things up at work. The plan is to put my notice in next week. In the meantime, you’d be surprised (at least I was) of the stuff I am trying to get done ahead of time. You never know if they’ll just walk you out when you give notice, so I’m cleaning out my inbox of emails, savings things like recipes and home emails of friends, and doing some serious purging of files (both on my PC and in my cubicle shelves). You’d be shocked at how much stuff you accumulate after 8 years! It’s bittersweet. I’m actually not feeling my anxiety lift yet. The past couple of days I think maybe this is adding stress because I’ve had really weird heart palpitations. Bleh Anyway, I think once I’m done with this I can just work on mentally healing and then figure out what the next chapter will bring.

Since we know we’ll be dropping down to one income for an indeterminate time, we’ve been trying to cut back on things… It’s gone well in some areas (Internet/Cable and cell phone bills) but then there’s the random funny thing. I told Ben not to buy me expensive flowers for Valentine’s day because I wanted to save the money.

Then I went out to a chocolate store I’ve never been to before to see if I could find just a little something sweet for my sweetie. This place was to die for!

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It was a tight fit for all the love birds in the store (I imagine Christmas is ridiculous) but they had so many fun things. Oh – and the ceiling! I just love the tin pattern some of these historic buildings have. You don’t see much of this in the Green Bay area anymore (at least in such good shape).

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The prices were a little ridiculous so I just started grabbing “two” of a few different things for us to try. Two caramels, two mint truffles, two sea salt caramels…

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And of course, wouldn’t you know by the time I was done my “small” purchase was a $30 pound of delectables. Ha!

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But I didn’t want to put anything back. You know how it goes. I had my purchased wrapped and paid at their amazing cash register and then after picking up a card, I was set!

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So then a few days later Valentine’s Day rolls by and imagine my surprise when I get a call at work that there’s a delivery for me at the front desk. Well, Ben took my message to heart and did NOT get me flowers.

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Chocolate covered strawberries instead! We’re swimming in chocolate now!

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Sharri’s Berries are being advertised a lot lately so I was excited to unwrap and see what they look like. I received a dozen in 3 different combos. They looked a little beat-up when you unwrap them and several weren’t in their little tray locations and had to be moved back into place. They don’t have any stems so you can literally take one and pop it right into your mouth.

In case anyone is thinking about ever ordering them – here’s my unbiased opinion. Save your money. There’s a good ratio of berry to chocolate, which I liked, but the chocolate with chips was not great and several of the berries weren’t red and ripe like the one below. Instead, they were white and pretty under-ripe. Not what you want when you’re paying a premium. We actually much preferred the dipped berries we get from the supermarket in Milwaukee.

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But – it was still a really sweet (ha, no pun intended) treat from Ben. Now we’re rolling in chocolate goodness.

Ben made me a delicious Valentine’s dinner with steaks on the grill and baked potatoes. Mmm Hmm

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This past weekend we got hit with April/May weather. It was in the MID FIFTIES yesterday! Ben and I went for a 3mile walk around the neighborhood and I hung our sheets on the line. I remember doing that a few years ago in March wearing snow boots and a winter jacket but yesterday I was in a t-shirt and sneakers. I think we’re all feeling a little spoiled at the moment. Looks like this weather will continue until Thursday and even hit 60 on Wednesday. Be still my heart.

Ok, time to get packed up for work. Have a terrific day!

A Little Back and Forth

Hey there blog world!

It’s been a while and quite a month too. The weather has been as unpredictable as I’ve ever seen for January. Usually, we’re experiencing super-cold temps and a boatload of snow but we’ve run the gamut. There’s been some single digit temps but then we had warmer weather and tons of rain leaving a ridiculously icy mess.

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Not only did driving over that stink but WALKING across a huge parking lot to get in and out of work was treacherous.

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Everything was melting away during a streak of 32+ weather until yesterday when we had another winter storm and 5 fresh inches of white making it look like Winter in Wisconsin once again.

With the Packers out of SuperBowl running now, the weekends aren’t filled with the pre-game excitement anymore. We’re heartily rooting for Atlanta but I’ve yet to decide if we’ll actually watch the game. There was SO much excitement when we hosted the play-off game a few weeks ago though. That’s the kind of buzz that fills an entire town. Ben and I were driving around Lambeau and stopped to see some of the fun snow carvings/sculptures they were making in preparation for the game:

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(I could totally make that)

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(This? Maybe not so much… Love the little carved G on the side and the spikes in the shoes. Fun details!!)

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I’ve been having a very difficult time at work. It’s been challenging for the past 2+ years since we hired a new boss for our department and I’ve been killing myself trying to do a good job. Sometimes it’s hard to see patterns when they are happening to you but looking back over time I’m seeing how my manager has been stripping away my confidence over time. I don’t feel like I can do my job anymore. I don’t feel wanted either.

It’s hard because I’m not a person who relishes change. In fact, I loathe it in these types of circumstances – especially when my confidence is a zero – but I’m realizing that it’s causing me so much anxiety, depression, and misery. I need to do something. I’ve been looking for new jobs to apply for but honestly, I don’t feel like I can do anything and I don’t want to do anything right now. So we’re balancing finances with maybe taking a little break from everything to figure out what I want to do when I grow up.

So that’s been a large part of why I’ve been MIA. I come home and, on a good day, make dinner and manage to get something done around the house. More often than not it’s been cuddled up on the couch in tears dreading going into work the next day. I’m a good, hard-working employee and a rational part of me knows I’m a valuable asset that companies would want to hire, but the emotional part of me fears failure and not actually being as good as I think I am. Definitely some mental work to do!

I haven’t fallen off the face of the earth – I’m just working on hanging in there a day at a time. I’m hoping for good things in 2017 despite a rough start but it’ll take courage and grit to get there. Wish me luck!!! 🙂

Freezing for Fun

Brr, it’s been a mega-chilly week around these parts. I don’t think it’s just the cold (although there’s been a few days when we were lucky to get into the single digits) but the WIND has been ridiculous. It just rips right through you and you’re chattering and shaking in seconds. Even the short walk across the parking lot into work each day is brutal. I’m wondering why I never purchased remote start for my car.

Ben and I took an abbreviated trip to Kenosha/Racine over the weekend. It was supposed to be two nights with some time baked in for sight-seeing, but I got a last minute call from a dear friend (who was in town from NY) so we cut it short a day. It worked out well though, because we failed to plan ahead and all the local tours and attractions we thought about viewing were full. Everyone must have had the same idea!

We finished up one of our Ingress game banners and then worked on another one down on the Kenosha waterfront. Let me tell you, it looked beautiful but it was absolutely freezing…

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(looks like spring doesn’t it? No snow in sight!)

So much of the snow seems to have melted away and it appears like any old Spring day – with grass and all – but we took turns bundling up, grabbing both phones, and dashing out to hit the locations we needed while the other kept the car running and the heated seats on high. The very last place we had to go was way out to a lighthouse on the pier.

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After checking my phone battery (84%) I doubly secured my coat hood so it wouldn’t blow off and we scuffled as quickly as we could along the pier. There was absolutely no wind block, poor lighting, and patches of the pier were icy and slick so we stepped carefully. The worst thing was having to pull off our chunky mittens so we could work the phone screens, but we were done quickly and then I suggested to Ben a quick picture while we were at the edge of the pier. I clicked the button and POOF – the screen went black. My battery died from the cold. Ugh!

Scampering back into the cold and shaking with our hands placed over the car heaters, we laughed, plugged my phone in, and decided we needed some food. We checked into our hotel and at the suggestion of the hotel rep, made our way across the street to a local pasta place. Evidently all their pastas are made from scratch and it’s “beyond excellent”.

What was “beyond excellent” for me wasn’t the food at all – but the insane Christmas décor. I have never seen a restaurant so decked out for Christmas. It was amazing.

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They had trees decorated with twinkle lights, bulbs, bows and tiny ornaments, strings of lighted garland, a HUGE Santa, and even reindeer flying in the air…

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We were seated next to the fireplace, where they had a string of red twinkle lights

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We ordered salads and then waited for our main courses to arrive. The salad was pretty basic but there were a few pieces of spinach. The blue cheese dressing was more like just sour cream – not a fan.

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Ben is a sucker for any kind of alfredo so it wasn’t a surprise when he selected their chicken & broccoli alfredo pasta.

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It was amazing but so rich. I don’t think I could have eaten an entire plate of it. But you could definitely taste the parmesan and cream.

My entrée was a trio of two ravioli, a “small” piece of lasagna, and then half a plate of gnocchi. It looked bare without a sprinkling of cheese on top. Don’t they know this is Wisconsin?? 😉

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I have ordered gnocchi several times because I keep thinking that I “should” like it. You know what? I just don’t. I’ve never had it were it wasn’t slightly gummy or rubbery and that’s just not my thing. I ate three and left the rest on my plate.

As we were walking back to our hotel, we spotted a lot of people walking around down by the waterfront again (what? in the cold?). We hopped back into the car to explore only to learn it was a breeding ground for rare Pokémon. There must have been 50 people shaking in their shoes and wandering around catching Pokémon. And then Ben and I did it too because we’re crazy. LOL

On our way back we saw this amazing building next to the civil war museum. I’m not sure why the purple but it was soooo cool!

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Our hotel room was amazing. We were at the very back of the building facing the water AND had access to two Ingress portals / Pokémon stops. That meant every 5 minutes we were hacking and getting additional gear. I almost didn’t want to stop to go to sleep. Hee Hee.

The view from our room. There’s a long sidewalk wrapping around the water and then behind it you can see the rows of townhouses. Can’t you imagine living each day with such a view?

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Christmas Vacation

What a week it’s been! I’ve been enjoying the time off from work and taking that mental pause on anything that hasn’t involved family and relaxation.

Our Christmas was not as hustling and bustling as year’s past – hurray! Usually we bounce back and forth between our families all day long but this time we were able to convince families to alter traditions (both of our families are Christmas morning celebrators). Ben and I got up on Christmas morning and didn’t have to race out the door. Instead, we had a moment to relax, enjoy our Christmas tree, and then actually head out for Christmas breakfast! Unreal and so wonderful.

Our Christmas tree! Everything gets packed up and put into the car to be transported to our loved ones. I LOVE getting gifts for people and get really excited anticipating them opening them up. It’s one of my favorite things about Christmas. 🙂

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After breakfast we went to spend the morning with Ben’s side of the family. We opened presents and enjoyed Christmas music, plenty of cheer, and a delicious meal.

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In the early afternoon we said goodbye and went to see my side for another round of festivities.

Our stockings were waiting for us…

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And then we had a good laugh about my parent’s tree. They have used this super-old fake tree the last couple of years to keep the dog out of the ornaments, but I think she’s plenty old enough now to stay away (and the tree is a little “Charlie Brown Christmas”). I think maybe we’ll get them a new one as an early present next year.

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Last year we had less than two dozen gifts under the tree (for 6 people) and I guess everyone did the same thing I did. Instead of one large gift (or a shared gift), I ended up doing a lot more little things instead. Way more wrapping involved but a LOT more fun to open on Christmas Day. Mom joked that we should keep the small tree because the trunk it is on makes it look like there’s even more presents. Maybe she’s right… Ha!

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Cheery people…

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I wonder what’s in there?

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It was a really nice Christmas.

We finally found a good day this week and went to the botanical gardens for the horse-drawn wagon ride through the gardens. There wasn’t a snowstorm this time BUT there was insane winds that froze all of our faces off! That’s part of the experience though. We were all squeezed tightly on the wagon and I brought along my car fleece blanket which I wrapped over our laps. Then we just held our mittens over our faces to block out a lot of the wind. We’re Wisconsin winter professionals.

Views from the bumpy wagon:

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After our ride we quickly ran around for a few photos:

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It works better with the flash.

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Inside the “caterpillar”:

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I’m. So. Cold. My. Lips. Are. Frozen.

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I took zero pictures of food this year. Odd, I know, but this year was a little scurried in the prep and a little lazy / relaxed on the holiday. Besides, Christmas isn’t about the food, is it?

It’s about 90 minutes from New Years as I’m writing this. Ben’s downstairs flipping back and forth between the various holiday TV programs and I’m trying to decide if I am going to stay awake or go to sleep right after I hit the “Publish” button on this post. Right now, I think sleep is winning. 🙂

Happy New Y… Zzz… zz… z… .. .