Writing, the good, bad, and ugly; Photography, studio work; Expat Life, soccer, Spanish; Family and Friends

CentipedeHere I sit again, only this time it’s been almost a month since I posted anything to this page. For those who follow me on it, I humbly beg your forgiveness. Although, in all probability, my posts will not continue on a weekly basis. To be honest, there are not enough changes in my Monkeyseveryday life to keep it interesting on a weekly basis. This was the ugly part. LOL
Having said that, my work on the new book has had it’s good and bad days. I am now working on chapter eighteen. But the number of days that I have worked on the book since November 14th has been minimal and come in spurts. Research on the Inca Trail and other places where the book is taking place in now have taken up a lot of time. Because Sunflower 1of that research, I’ve added four new chapters in between my chapter eleven and what was going to be chapter twelve. I do consider that a good thing though and my character development is coming along nicely.

My friend Mona, who is doing grammatical errors on thePink Rose 1 first draft, has returned the first eleven chapters for me to fix. As soon as I complete chapters twelve thru twenty and send them off to her, I will go in and fix the things she has pointed out. The good news, I’ve glanced through them and there’s not a lot of changes to be made.

Monkey 2Photography, on the other hand, has been good since the last post. I’ve finally done some studio work with the black velvet background. To be honest, I’ve learned a lot about lighting, both natural and using lamps, in doing that project. Some of the flower and fruit work is in this post. In finishing that project, I decided to take a look at some of my older photos (non-flower types) hoping they would inspire me to look beyond the beautiful flowers that Boquet 3abound here in Peru. I’ve also included some of those in this post. I am still enjoying photo walks in my neighborhood but am thinking it’s time to expand outward into others.

Goats ans SheepLiving as an Expat has been exciting since my last post. Peru won (2 – 0) the second leg of their playoff against New Zealand and now have a slot for the World Cup to be held in Russia in 2018. It’s been some time since Peru made the cut, so the entire population is quite excited about their country’s team going to Oranges Grapes 2represent them there. I’ve also renewed my attempt to learn Spanish better using DuoLingo. I’ve just finished the sections on pronouns and past tense verbs. This is where I got hung up in the classes at ICPNA. I’m going to repeat these lessons till they come naturally to me. (i.e. La amo and Yo lo quiero; Yo lo quería and Yo la eliminé)

20171126_171008The best thing that happened here this past month was the annual Thanksgiving Dinner hosted by the incredible duo of Bob and Silvia Lowry. They are, without a doubt, the most incredible hosts. Thirty plus people showed up at their home on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, all bearing dishes to supplement the two delicious turkeys and mashed potatoes with gravy that the hosts Apples Banana 1provided. Every imaginable holiday dish graced the elegantly decorated table. I personally went into a food overdose after the party. I most assuredly ate far more than I should have but everything was so delicious, the temptation was overwhelming. Everyone left the party sated and the love shown among the friends invited was obvious from the first hug to the last.

Egypt 4I wasn’t able to attend any meeting with friends here in Lima during the month of November. Other things going on in my life kept me away. This past weekend, I finally made it to the Bodega Verde to meet up with the guys for coffee and chat. Sadly, only Larry and Vincent were able to join me. Still, the conversation was lively as usual with wide-ranging topics and a few laughs thrown in here and there. I also rejoined Mona and Egypt 2Kelly on Friday evening for cocktails in the living room. It’s winter there now, so no patio. It had been a month so there was lots to catch up on. Kathy and I were unable to meet on Sunday.Unfortunately, she as suffering from sinuses of the gripe. I think she is better now so I’m hoping we can get together for coffee this weekend. I got to catch up with a lot of my friends here in Peru at the TGD Dinner also. Everyone is doing great as are the members of my family that I have heard from.

That brings another post to an end. I hope it didn’t bore all of you too much. Have you been staying active and creative? I hope so. Use it or lose it; get up, get out and exercise body and brain. You’ll never regret it.

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Writing, slow going and distractions; Photography, challenges; Expat Life, Halloween and a birthday; Friends and Family

23468221_10208271168216204_1353694154_oI’m not sure what happened since my last entry but entirely too much time has passed since I posted here. I could blame it on a lot of things but in truth there are times that I can’t seem to muster the enthusiasm I used to have for keeping this journal of my life timely and up to date. After almost three weeks, I’ve finally forced myself to sit here and take on the project on this fine Tuesday morning.

The work on my newest book has gone in spurts. I’ve managed to startYellow Daisies and finish chapter twelve and written about half of chapter thirteen. Besides my rather lazy attitude toward writing the past couple of weeks, it seems I can’t get through a paragraph without have to break off to do some research on one topic or Barranco Houseanother. I’ve moved the location of this book into Cuzco and Machu Picchu as well as several of the smaller towns in the area. Making sure that my description of the locations and activities there are accurate is a big project. I haven’t been in the area since 2010 and as with many places, a lot has changed since then.Money

Still, I’m pushing on. I have over twelve chapters lightly outlined in advance and am hoping the passing of the past weeks distractions will get me back into the writing mood. Macro RoseFriends and family, as well as my readers, help with this. Their encouragement keeps me tethered to the project and my goal of writing at least seven novels before something happens that might take away my ability to write.

The one thing that has been interesting in the past few weeks if photography. Facebook can provide inspiration in the area. There Purple Flowerseems to be a lot of “photo challenges” being passed around amongst friends. The latest, “7 days of B&W photos of your life, no people, no explanations” is the latest to be shared. I accepted the challenge from one of my friends but found the interpretation that many people had Orange Beauty 3on those words varied widely. I assumed that I was to take photos of things, places, events, etc. that took place in my everyday life. Others saw it differently and some even used photos that were taken by other people. The thing I like about the challenges is that they encourage people to look at their photography in a different manner.

Life in Peru has been interesting the last few weeks. Our fútbol23482917_10208271169096226_684344828_o team played the first leg of a World Cup qualifier against New Zealand. The game ended in a 0-0 tie which means that Peru will have to win the second leg here in Lima tomorrow to get into the WC. Everyone is nervous and 23483163_10208271171616289_1721490167_oexcited. Vamos Perú. I also got to experience another Halloween. There were huge groups of kids (accompanied by adults) roaming the neighborhood yelling out “Halloweeeeeen” as they passed every door. Unfortunately, I live in a third-floor apartment and I wasn’t about to run23469467_10208271170976273_1042154022_o up and down the stairs to hand out candy. That also meant I wasn’t able to get any photos of the little daemons in their costumes. I also had one of my best birthdays since moving here. Steve took my out for a great lunch followed by a movie, “Murder on the Orient Express,” a new version in theaters. Like all the White FLowerother versions, I loved this one and I hope they remake “Murder on the Nile” as well. Then it was home to a delicious birthday cake. I also received hundreds of loving birthday wishes from friends all over the world.

Due to projects and other distractions I didn’t get to spend asThe Group much time with friends as I do usually. I’ve had one Cocktails on the Patio with Mona and Kelly before we had to call off the meetings till after Thanksgiving. They are having a busy month with visitors and out of town commitments. I’ve also only made it to Flower in Vaseone of the meeting with the Bodega Verde Group and won’t be able to meet up with them again till December. It was a good meeting though with seven of us attending. I have managed to meet up with Kathy for a couple of coffee and chats. They were entertaining as always. My friends Bob and Silvia are back fromCacti their trip to the US. Bob got some great news from his physicians there on some recent health problems. Everyone else, including my family is doing fine according to FB.

Pink Rose 3So, another post comes to a close. I hope I caught you up on everything. I truly hope you have all been staying active mentally and physically. Use it or lose it as the saying goes, and that saying is even more pertinent as you age. Get up, get out, take up a mentally challenging hobby. Love to you all, I hope you have a wonderful week ahead of you.

Writing, editing and moving on; Photography, flowers, and other things; Expat Life, the census and becoming accepted; Family and Friends

BirdIf you’re keeping up, you’ll notice that I didn’t get to a post last week. In all honesty, the week before was rather boring and I didn’t feel like I had enough to say. Plenty has happened in the past week to make this entry worth writing.

I printed out the first ten chapters, edited them on paper, andSunset 2 then wrote the chapter I needed to insert. Finishing that, I typed in the edits for the ten chapters and inserted the new one before sending off the eleven chapters to my primary editor who will check for egregious grammatical errors that I may have missed. While I’m waiting for her to return those, I need to start work on the next ten chapters. I have already done the minimal outline on what I want Yellow Roseto happen in each chapter to help me keep my storyline in focus. Now it’s just a matter of focusing on the work and trying to minimize the distractions. They are the bane of all writers’ existence, distractions. Especially those of us whose concentration can be so easily broken by the least little thing, “Ohhhh, look at the pretty butterfly.”

I’ve made it out for several photo walks over the last couple of weeks. Most of the shots I’ve taken are of flowers, but I Cactus 3have managed to a couple of birds, a sunset, and a couple other interesting shots. These walks help to keep me active as I am a naturally lazy person. Especially when it comes to exercise. The key to any success when you take a walk with your camera is to be aware of everything around you. Look at everything in your surroundings, really see it. You White Rose Macrocan’t let random thoughts distract you from the beauty that lies in every nook and cranny of our beautiful planet.

Peru took its national census this past week. The time leading up to it made for interesting reading on the social media sites. The word was put out that all citizens were required to remain in their homes from 8am until 5pm while census takers spreadWhite Rose 3 out across the land, knocked on doors and filled out forms. La Molina, the area where I live, looked like a deserted city. There were no cars on the streets and only an extremely rare taxi on the main thoroughfare. I figure the census takers had to have a way to get around. The time went smoothly for me. I had plenty of movies to watch and my writing/photography to work on otherwise. About midday, a couple of sweet courteous young women showed up at our door. The questions took about twenty minutes and they were gone.

Cactus 1We also had another quake this past week, a 4.7 that felt stronger to me. Fortunately, it was very short and I haven’t heard of any damage being done. On another note, there was an incident this past week that made me feel that I have become a part of this new neighborhood. A local merchant allowed me to take a purchase home withoutWHite Chrys paying since I had forgotten my wallet. He’s one of those people I say “Hi” to every time I pass his business and I have purchased a few things from him in the past. He told me, “Bring it the next time you come by.” That along with the greetings I always get from everyone makes me feel at home here.

I’ve met once with the guys at the Bodega in the past two weeks. Larry has returned from his visit to the US. He had a great time seeing his sons and their families. The Pink Roseconversation at the BV was wide ranging as always. Friday evening cocktails with Mona and Kelly was spiced up one of the Fridays by the attendance of our good friends David and Laura Chamness. It was a fun laugh filled evening and so good to see them. My friend Bob and his wife Silvia are in the US now. Bob got some great news from the doctors concerning ofGolden 2 couple of his health issues and they are now at Disney World celebrating. Dario hasn’t been in attendance for a while. He seems to be spending more time at the new Irish Bar in Miraflores, Molly’s. I heard it’s a great place and they have a pool table. I’ve met up with Kathy once since the last post here at Café Di. We had our usual great conversation. Jamie is still in the US but Ada has returned FOF 1to Lima. Natalie and Azaad seem to be enjoying their return to South Africa. Photos of them and Nadia show plenty of smiles. My family in the US is doing well. The Sorghum Fest at my sister’s place was a huge success again this year. The cousins all seem happy and the rest of my friends posts of FB paint a happy life.

Well, that’s it for another post. I hope all of you are healthy and happy. Remember to keep active mentally and physically. Move it or lose it, as the saying goes. Have a great week everyone.

Writing, more success; Photography, more walks; Expat Life, fútbol and weather; Friends and Family

Garden 2I’ve had another successful week at the keyboard. Several thousand words later, both chapters nine and ten are completed for the new Inca Gold Book. I’ve now printed those out and intend to make editing notes on those chapters after I do small outlines for what I want to include in the next five to 10 chapters. Once I finish the edit, I’ll send the file off to my friend Mona for grammar checks. In getting to this point, I’veGarden 3 made several decisions about how the structure of this book will be. For one, I have decided not to keep the murderer or his group a mystery. The thrill of this book will be like its predecessors, how will they get caught.

Every book I’ve written has taken a minimum of a year to write. I’d like to finish this one in less time than that. The key will be to minimize the distractions I allow to crowd into my Garden 4life. One other factor will be to maintain a strict writing schedule, even if the output is minimal at times. I also think that I’m going to have to spend a little less time on social media, in particular, Facebook and Tumblr. A good two and a half hours every morning is wasted on these two sites in particular. They have become my addiction. Unfortunately, both are my main venue for hawking my books and getting feedback on my photography.Garden 5

My photography outings have improved in the last week also. I’ve made a couple of nice walks with either camera or cellphone in hand for the sole purpose of taking photographs and am sharing some of them with you in this post. They are exclusively of flowers. I haven’t had time to go on a wide-ranging walk to find other subjects. That will come, just not this week.

CactusThis past week Peru’s fútbol team proved their skill to South America by making it to the next round of qualifying for playing in the 2018 World Cup. Next month they have to play in a wildcard game against New Zealand, then return to play against them again in South America to gain entryPalm Trees and blue sky to the WC. This past week, their game against Colombia sealed the deal when Peru fought them to a 1 – 1 tie. That game was broadcast on a huge screen in front of a large crowd just a block from my apartment. The enthusiasm of the crowd was boisterous to say the least. Spring in Lima is also settling in. We’ve had more sunny warm days that cloudy Pink and WHite 1chilly ones. I do love spring here with its moderate temperatures and hope we have another mild summer this year. Hot and humid tends to keep me inside too much.

Once again, there’s not much on the friend front. FridayRed Rose night cocktails was cut short due to some type of internet problem between here and North America. My internet and WiFi were working fine as was the two in Illinois. No clue as to why we lost and could not regain our connection. The short time we talked was good though, we managed to catch up on stuff that had happened in the past two weeks. I missed Saturday morning WHite Rose 2Coffee and Chat, I had other commitments in the works. Larry is in the states visiting his sons and their families. He’ll be gone for another week. The other guys are fine and having a good time according to FB. Jamie is back in the US, I think Ada went with him for part of the trip. Bob and Silvia are yellow Flower 1keeping up with social obligations. I did get to meet Kathy for our coffee and chat on Sunday. Great conversation but the venue left a lot to be desired. We met at Don Lalo’s, a place I had not frequented before. The service was terrible and the prices high, we will not be returning.

That’s it for another post. Remember to get up and get out. Move it or lose it. Read a book, take a painting class, work on puzzles – exercise that brain also. Have a great week all, hope to see you back here in seven days.

Writing, a better week; Photography, walks; Expat Life, apartment or house; Friends and Family

22140693_10208061005642271_559350986_oIt’s been a better week on the writing front. After my last post I was able to write my way into chapter nine where the story has shifted from the murder at an archaeological dig to problems in the major crimes squad. The plot is beginning to take on a more concrete form in my head. For all you out there struggling to write, take heart. Sometimes it’s just a matter of sitting down to the keyboard and pounding out Yellow Rosesome words and sentences that will lead you down the path of your goals. There is a plethora of helpful hints out there to help you get back in the grove if you are running into problems. Everything from taking a walk, moving your work to a coffee shop, adjusting your background noise, and many others that you can use till you find one that works.

Yellow LilyThis is the most unusual one that I have read about, a technique used by author Brian Moreland.

“Before bed, fill up a glass of water. Hold it up and speak anWhite Rose intention into the water. (Example: My intent is to tap into my creative source and write brilliantly tomorrow. I choose to be in the flow of my best writing. I am resolving my story’s issues as I sleep and dream). Drink half the water and then set the half-full glass on your nightstand. Go to sleep. When you wake up the next morning, drink the rest of the water immediately. Then go straight to your computer and write at least an Pink Rosehour without distraction. This may seem a bit out there, but give it a try. It works! Do this technique for three nights straight. It gets me out of my writer’s block every time, often the next morning and definitely within 72 hours.”

If you have a technique that works for you, please share it in the comments.

It was a better week for my photography also. For the moment, it was simply outings Flower shop 2through my local parks to take flower photos and look for other interesting subjects. I need to start work on the set up for doing some studio work. I have purchased the two yards of black velvet I need for the backdrop. Now I need to build a type of open box to hold it where I can place the subject of the photos I want to take. Wish me luck.

Flower Shop 1Part of living as an expat is the decision you need to make on whether to buy or rent. I moved to Peru with the intention of renting and not having the problems you have when you own property. Now, having lived here for over eight years, I have changed that decision and decided to purchase a place to live. This means that I will have to decide between buying an apartment, a house, or buying land and building a house. For the moment, I’m leaning towards the latter. Having a homeWhite flower with rain drops built to my specifications would be nice. Also, for a small increase in price, I can have a big boy house. People who live in Peru will understand that reference. The bad part of my decision, we will have to move out of Lima to be able to find land and labor that will accomplish the goals. The current pick is a planned community on the outskirts of Cieneguilla. It will be a year Spring Bouquetbefore my investment matures and allows me to withdraw the money, so there is plenty of time to think all this through.

Not a lot on the friends front this week. I met up with the Bodega Verde gang this past Friday. Larry, Vincent, Carlo, Mahlon, and I had lively conversations on a lot of topics.Orange Flower Vincent had just finished reading my first book, Sacrifice: The Prince Charming Murders and offered up an excellent review of the book to the group. Vincent is an author in his own right with a book titled, Empires of Gold (available on Amazon), under his belt. It is historical fiction that takes place shortly after the arrival of Lavender flowerthe Spanish. After that, I had a bout with a three-day flu which kept me from meeting up with Kathy this past Sunday. My friends Bob and Sylvia threw an amazing themed (Hippie Party) birthday party for Bob. Unfortunately, I did not attend but it looked like they had a lot of fun from all the photos on Facebook.

I also want to give a shout out to my excellent friend and ex-Purplecoworker, Tim Moloney. He’s a couple of years younger than me but he and a bunch of his CB Radio buddies volunteered to go to Puerto Rico to help set up communications on the island. They left last week on what he called, “one last great adventure.” I know they will be out of communication for most of the time they are there so I’m sending prayers to the Universe for their safe return. Tim is known for his stories of life in the Navy. I can’t imagine the tales he will have to tell on his return from this great adventure.

Well, another post comes to a close. I hope you all enjoyed the read and photos. Now, get up, and get out. Use it or lose it, we only go around once in life; try to enjoy it to the fullest.

Writing, slow going; Photography, a couple of walks; Expat Life, earthquakes and traffic; Friends and Family

FamilyThe past week has been slow going in the writing department. Although I have finished chapter seven and have a start on chapter eight of the Inca Gold book, I feel like I’m losing my writing mojo. I think part of the problem is not having a clear Me and niecestimeline for the story in my head. I’m still struggling with the direction the main story will take and the number of subplots that I want to include. The Major Crimes Squad is going through some major changes and I don’t have a clear idea yet on how I want them Me and the kidsto deal with the problem. Especially in light of my star detective having to leave Lima to work on a case in Machu Picchu and Cusco. Then, there are the villains from the last book that need to be dealt with in one way or another. One has died already and his death affects one of the squad members deeply. I’m sure all this will clear up eventually but in the meantime, I find my frustration building.Rita and I

My photography has done a little better. At least I’ve managed to get out for a walk with either my camera or phone in the Wine Daypast week. I took mostly flower photos along with pictures of me with some of my friends here. The photos in this post are of family and friends both back in the US and here in Peru. Yes, I’m in most of them also, tripods and wait staff also acted to help get them done.20170823_101856

Returning to Peru after being away for over a month brought me back to reality. I was back in my apartment by 1:30 am on 20170823_105220_001Sept. 14th and within an hour was greeted by a 4.9 on the Richter Scale earthquake. It was a nice reminder of the perpetual danger we live in here on the west coast of South America. Quakes are a part of life here. I’ve also noticed and increase in traffic while I was gone. It’s either that of the idyllic country life of Southern Illinois and its lack of heavy traffic spoiled me quickly. Either way, it has 20170826_145357become way more annoying to me than it was before my little trip up north. Add to that, the fact that gas prices have gone up and therefore taxi prices; it will take me a bit to get used to the new reality. One saving grace, the exchange rate is starting to float back to my favor. That helps a little.

Coffee and ChatI’ve been busy catching up with friends since I returned. I enjoyed one “Cocktails on the Patio” with Mona and Kelly by Facetime was not as rewarding as actually being there. Mona makes such great snacks for Isa Kathy Methe occasion. There’s been two Saturday mornings with the Bodega Verde gang. Larry, Dario, Carlo, Mahlon, Bob, Vincent and Scott attended one or the other or both. The conversations at both were spirited and filled with the enjoyment of being in friends’ company. I had Me and BobSunday morning brunch with Kathy and Isabel at Café Di here in La Molina. It had been a considerable amount of time since I had seen either of them so there were lots to20170831_133543 catch up on. I also had a private lunch at Sarcletti’s with Bob to catch up outside the BV group. Steve and Paul both survived my absence. Although I returned home to changes in the apartment, they 20170831_174343were an improvement. Steve and I are seriously looking to buy some land in Cieneguilla next year and build a home with an apartment we can rent. That will be a real 20170901_165336adventure.

I’m including some of the photos from my trip home on this post of family and friends get together. Included are one from the cousins’ reunion, me with my nieces Sarah and Amy, Me with my grand nephews and niece, my 20170903_105326sister and I, Mona and Kelly and I, my old work group, and an assortment of me with friends. I had a wonderful time back home with all of them and am looking forward to my trip back home next October and being able to see even more of them.20170911_144003

Well, that brings to close another post. I hope all of you have been keeping active both mentally and physically. In both cases, if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it. I’d like to grow into very old age with all my friends and family maintaining a sharp edge. That includes all the readers of this blog whether I know you or not.

Visit Home, a total eclipse of the sun; Writing, the old and the new; Photography

Eclipse 3Well, if I thought I needed to apologize for those times I missed a week, I guess I need to get on my knees for this one. My trip back to the US, the weeks before and a week after were busy ones. Figuring out what I needed to take, what I needed to buy after I got there, and the packing/unpacking putting away before and after seemed to occupy what little free time I had. So, here it is, my first post in probably two months.

The visit home to the US to visit family and friends was a couple of years in the making. BF2Normally I return every October, my favorite month in Southern Illinois. Last year, circumstances in Peru prevented me from making the trip. This year, I returned in August to experience the total eclipse of the sun as well as visiting everyone. My previous home, Carbondale, Illinois, was in the Ababdoned House 2direct path and was going to be THE place to experience it. That had to do with the fact that in seven years, Carbondale will be in the path of another total eclipse, a 500-year event.

The eclipse was amazing, a truly incredible experience and one that I recommend you experience if you get the chance. I sat on the patio with my friends Mona and Kelly at their home throughout the event. When the moon covered the sun,Butterfly 1 everything they tell you about the experience is true. The stars come out, the temperature drops, birds go to roost, and more.

I spent the first and last week of the trip with my sister in Albion, Illinois. The town and countryside where my just published book, Bone Gap Road, takes 20170820VisitingHomeCountryWalkM&K 026place. She lives in the country and I had an amazing time with her driving around to see the sights and enjoy the quiet of country living. We also enjoyed having a cousin’s reunion from my mother’s side of the family. It was a fantastic get together and great catching up with everyone. The middle two weeks I stayed with my friends Mona and Kelly Stevens where “cocktails on the patio” were enjoyed on more than just Friday evenings. During that time, I tried to visit with Sunflower 2as many friends as possible give the short nature of my stay and the vast number of loving friends that I have back in the US. Coffees, breakfasts, lunches, dinners, BBQs, and drinks were involved in all that time. A great deal of hearty hugs and kisses were involved at every meeting.

My writing didn’t suffer entirely during that time. I managed to finish off chapter five of Inca Gold and get a good start on chapter six. AH 2Since returning to Peru, I have finished that chapter and am about ¾ of the way through chapter seven. I’m still battling over the course the book will take and whether I want the murderer to remain a mystery till the end or introduce the villain early on in the book. That’s the fun part of being a writer, getting to make up the story. The sale of Bone Gap Road is going well and during my visit home, there were parts of the days where IHB17 felt I was on a book signing tour. So many of my friends and family had purchased all of my books. It’s not as fun as I had imagined it. I’m laughing here!

I did manage to take a good number of photos while I was home and had the fun of tackling new subject AH 2matter and work more in B&W, including some photos of the total eclipse. Have no fear though, I still took plenty of flower photos. Some of the many I took are on this post. While home I also purchased a Deercouple of yards of black velvet to use as a backdrop in some studio photography I want to try out. I’m hoping to find time for that sometime next week.

To keep this post short, I’ll talk about friends, their doings and life as an expat in my post next week. There’s plenty of stuff happening there too.

I hope you all have stuck to your guns and managed to get up and get out. You know my mantra by now, “Move it of Lose it!” Have a fantastic week all and I hope that you have enjoyed life since my last post as much as I have.