The Supermoon, Social Media, Genocide, the Sisterhood, and Why Some Artists Get up In The morning.

Well, it’s been a hectic few weeks since the Supermoon…a veritable roller coaster of deeply disturbing world news, with a blog writing itself in my head all the time but not given the space or time to manifest. And now I’m at risk of alienating readers with my outspoken views….. so it goes.

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A few days before the full moon, I was making signs for a candlelit vigil for Gaza.That evening I sat out on my verandah, bathed in moonlight, and I had an overwhelming feeling of Oneness with all Humanity….One World, One Sun, One Moon shining down on all Beings….one Earth to cherish.

 

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As with sunsets, it’s impossible to convey the feeling off a full moon with a photograph…you need to feel the temperature, hear the sounds of the night….but when I see this photo the feelings I had that night all come back to me.

 

And yet for most of the last two months, I have not been meditating in the Peace and Light, but have been immersed in the growing outrage over what has been happening in Gaza….hardly reported in the mainstream news.
I have a Love/Hate relationship with Facebook, but it has been one of the only sources of real news from and about Gaza. Articles on the 66 year history of the conflict, photographs showing the extreme disproportionality of the bombing from Israel compared to the rockets from Gaza, with appalling consequences for the Palestinian civilians, and reactions from Jewish people and holocaust survivors speaking out against the Zionist Genocide…for that IS what it is, plain and simple.
And on social media, ordinary people are educating themselves, finding a voice and coming together to speak out….we cannot just ignore what is done “In our name”.
It doesn’t take too much thinking to find out why this information is not in mainstream media… World governments, and the shadowy Capitalist drivers behind the Governments and the Media, have been funding armaments on both sides, with the self-interest of accessing oil, and protecting “their” supply lines;  when you are tied in economically, morality can go out of the window.
With the dearth of real news in the mainstream media,. it fell to social media to inform people, and the facts and images were truly horrifying. I won’t burden you with that, but I do believe that the increasing outrage, horrifying daily reports, and photographs of people coming together in massive, worldwide demonstrations may have contributed, in small part, to the latest ceasefire.

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I live near a small town in North West Ireland, and every week a small group of us gather for an hour; it has been great when folk stop to chat about what’s happening in Palestine….when there was no real coverage on the news.


There is a page set up on Facebook, Light in Support of the People in Gaza, which encouraged folk worldwide to light a candle on the 9th of August at 10 pm, take a photo and post it up.Here’s a group of friends at my house, where we had a simple meal together, and stood in silent meditation for Gaza. It felt good to share heartfelt thoughts and prayers with other folk all over the world.

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After four young Palestinian brothers were shot dead whilst just playing on a beach, a freelance photographer, Brian Farrell, put out a call for 300 children to gather on a local beach here, to represent the 300 children killed in Gaza; 320 children turned up with their parents…( I commandeered my Honorary Granddaughter!)and similar projects were done in the south of Ireland.On the actual day of the gathering up here, the number of Palestinian children killed had gone up to over 418, by the latest ceasefire the number was over 500. His photograph was featured on the front of the Irish Times, but sadly, the ceasefire in the headline below the photo did not last for any length of time.
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Rosses Point, County Sligo. Photographer: Jordan Cummins.

Rosses Point, County Sligo.
Photographer: Jordan Cummins.

 

Another project started on Facebook was ‘I Remember the Children’, where people put up bouquets of flowers in places local to them, with inscriptions remembering individual children who had been killed; I put up some flowers from my garden, in town, remembering two 13 year old twins who had been killed…

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I was told that no Irish person would ever remove commemorative flowers from the roadside…but sadly someone saw fit to remove the label.WHY? People have been posting up such photographs of flowers all over Ireland and Britain, and some further afield, and in too many instances other people have removed the signs…I replaced the flowers and made a new sign, which thankfully has not been removed.
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It was lovely that a commemorative bouquet was also put up for the only Israeli child that has been killed so far. Every child is precious….
It seems such a small gesture, but there have been heartwarming messages from people in Gaza, who have been touched by these gestures of solidarity for them in their plight. So many children left orphaned, so many shattered families grieving for children who’s lives have been so cruelly cut short….. http://www.gazaschildren.com/, and thousands of children injured, both physically and psychologically. How will these people EVER rebuild their shattered lives, homes, livelihoods?

It is 66 years since Britain, and the Oslo protocol, ‘gave’ Palestine to the Israelis, and Zionist forces expelled 750,000 Palestinians from their homes, committed 31 massacres, and destroyed 531 Palestinian towns…and how many more resurgences of war on Palestinians since then? At least three, and with a backdrop of constant bullying from the illegal settlers and Israeli armed forces in the streets…when the USSR collapsed there was a mass migration of Jews from Eastern Europe to Israel, and they have been illegally settled on Palestinian land.
At the end of the 19th century, Jewish people made up half the population of Jerusalem, but only 5% of the population of Palestine, with 10% Christians and 85% Muslims; all subjects of the Sultan of Constantinople, in the Ottoman Empire, an Empire with no frontiers, living in peace together……until the Brits, French and Italians went to carve it up……the rest, as they say………

So, what about the artists getting out of bed?
The time honoured role of creative people since the first cave paintings, the first written words, is to reflect; to mirror back an identity to their society. To work from, and for, Love…not just for money.
Here is a powerful piece from a Palestinian artist…it moves the heart far more than just words.

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Along with small projects for Gaza, I’ve been involved with the campaign to stop Fracking on our tiny island. We had a 40 mile Tractor run of protesting farmers, with 140 decorated tractors joining in, and another event with a cavalcade of fishermen towing boats with signs, wanting to protect the pure waters of Ireland…(with typical Northern Irish humour, their groups are called F.A.R.T., Farmers Are Resisting Tamboran, and S.O.W., Save Our Waters..) We had choirs putting on performances, and a camp at the quarry where, unknown to the uninformed locals, drilling rigs were brought in at 4.30 a.m. I won’t elaborate on all that here, but we did manage to halt, however temporarily, the illegal setting up of a test drill. When politicians and councillors are offered “sweeteners” to turn a blind eye to the letter of the law, ( and Boy! that sure happens…20,000 euro given to a local business forum…), by multi-nationals who will be here just long enough to sell on in a Ponzi scheme, reap their profits, and get out before the pollution and devastation hits the fan, the ‘common people’ must keep their eyes open!


The timing of that, and the ceasefire in Gaza, allowed me to step back from the fray for a while, which was very serendipitous timing as I had an old friend from Scotland coming to help me sort through my chaotic shelves and drawers and stacks of artwork….I needed her to drag me kicking and screaming, and cast a professional eye over which pieces should go on the bonfire pile; clearing the decks can clear the mind summat wonderful!
My birth and adopted sisters are spread all over the world, but thank heavens for the Sisterhood! Three more dear friends came over for a day to help me blitz my woefully neglected garden, and seemed happy to go home with artworks and calligraphy…fair trade is infinately more rewarding than mere commerce, and breaking bread together and catching up with the craic is much more fun!


So now, I must return to the drawing board, producing artwork for a fundraising exhibition for Gaza. (However, as “Procrastination is the Art of keeping up with Yesterday”, I might just nip into WP to read all the posts I’ve missed from my favourite bloggers!)

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I’ll end with one of the most poignant poems I have read for a long time…it brings tears to my eyes every time I read it.


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A post for Orphans, Obsessives, Perfectionists and Addicts, with Wood Carvings…

I’m going to intersperse this post with random photo’s of my work, to allieviate the very personal writing… all will be revealed…..later!

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The setting of the Solstice sun.

The post I’d mused over for days, and then ‘lost’, was a serious one…prompted by all the heartbreaking stories that are emerging in Ireland, of how dreadfully women and children were treated in the Catholic Mother and Baby homes, Orphanages and the Magdalene Laundries, in the not too distant past here.
These had brought up emotions from my own story, and although my story is not nearly so bad, I wrote about how early loss and separation can have a lifelong impact . Life can only be lived going forwards, but maybe understanding the patterns can only come with advancing age and 20/20 hindsight….and can bring a deeper level of sadness….

It’s NOT as if I sit around consciously thinking about the past!…but it comes unbidden into my head in flashes of memory….in dreams….me alone as a child, me alone as a single parent, alone in Mexico, Honduras, Portugal, Kirkcudbright, Jura, London, Norfolk and Liverpool, me alone in a community of 25 adults!….the memories flash in…of always feeling alone….always an Outsider.

Quote from e.e.cummings.

Quote from e.e.cummings poem.

 The difficult thing to consider in hindsight is how far my internalised ‘Outsider’, ‘Not Good Enough’  feelings may have unconsciously contributed to the paths I trod. I’ve lived in groups, worked in groups, even started up some groups myself, but never felt totally accepted. I have no blueprint for HOW to belong…
Meanwhile, I seem to have antennae for other damaged souls…I know the deep value in empathy, and the discomfort of other’s sympathies.

I have a great capacity to ‘lose’ myself in work. Or rather, I did have. Maybe if I can write through the feelings I’ve blocked and smothered for decades, maybe then I can return to creative work?

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Close-up of Janus head, in bog oak.

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The Janus Head at Drumbeg stone circle. The Janus head has two faces…one looks forward and the other looks back.

Isn’t it wonderful when words are “given” to you just when you need them? I call it Chance Triumphant. A few days back I saw a wonderful piece of writing ,

‘Lies you were told about Grief’, by Alison Nappi, which quoted one of my favourite writers:

“What if we never ‘get over’ certain deaths, or our childhoods? What if the idea that we should have by now, or will, is a great palace lie? What if we’re not supposed to? What if it takes a life time…?”

~ Anne Lamott
(The whole, brilliant article is here:  http://us1.campaign-archive2.com/?u=b8e53c620300ae88791163048&id=2a470a789b  ).

 

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And a quote from Maya Angelou:
There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.

I know from what I’ve read from other adoptees, that it’s quite common to feel an exaggerated need to be known…to be understood….and to have never felt that you belong anywhere. But also to have a “secret” side….that you have to keep buried…deep. That can be a road to obsessions and addictions……more later! Is that why I’ve kept so much shtuff? To say “I WAS here, I DID do things with my life…”, trying to prove that I have some worth here? An insecure self-esteem….which is not to say that I don’t have an over inflated ego about some of my work! The lack of confidence and fear of rejection got me striving for perfection…a damnable thing to live with!

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A 7ft tall oak carving, a memorial for folk lost at sea, in Kirkcudbright, Scotland. This piece is dear to me, as both my sons work on the sea.

 

A digression…I wrote that I’d explain the inclusion of photo’s …it’s the fragile self-esteem versus the inflated ego! I’ve never been good at “selling myself” or my work….I’m happiest making work for the love of it,  for people not for money, which I’m quite useless at. Perfectionism can be a curse…stemming from wanting to be above and beyond criticism…endlessly needing approval…and however good a piece of work may turn out, I’m forever driven to ‘prove’ myself over and over again.
Or I was.    I’m tired now.
So, Yes, these photo’s are me wanting to paint a complete picture… wanting to be accepted. Or rather, me wanting to paint the “Good” picture first, before writing of darker things, exposing the soft and muddy underbelly!

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There’s a great book, by Nancy Newton Verrier, called The Primal Wound. In it she talks about how even a newborn baby, without words and concepts, can still FEEL loss, abandonment, bereavement…that the bonding process is when a baby puts touch, warmth, smell and sustenance to the voice it has heard in the womb. This leads to a seamless continuity, and a secure foundation for the ego to develop. If the baby or small child is separated from the mother the feelings can be internalised…with no words or concepts to process them….and so they are laid deep down in the psyche. Every time one feels insecure, or slighted,  abandoned or shamed,  it takes you straight back to that deep well of “It must be my fault.”

In my thirties I saw a great therapist, who asked me “Weren’t you angry with your parents for dying?”. I was incredulous, how could I be angry with them? She said “Charlie, you were two and a bit years old when your mother died, and a year later your father died too….you must have been a very angry young child”. Well, anger was an emotion that was utterly frowned upon in my new adopted family. (But of course, it came out in more covert ways.) And to make it even stranger to try and fit in, I had to learn to speak the Queen’s English, not the broad Mancunian that had surrounded me up until then. With anger so frowned upon, I saw my anger as shameful…if not positively dangerous…had my anger as a Terrible Two year old, driven my family away? Could my anger make the sky fall in? And when anger gets suppressed, it can manifest in depression, low self esteem, shame…..and, very rarely, a feisty, rebellious two year old, shouting “Feck the lot of youse!”  But I can’t even shout.

  I believe another reaction at such a young age, to parents dying, is that you might feel anger at losing the first, but losing the second and three elder sisters you might well think “It must be MY fault”. Internalising Anger, internalising Shame.
To quote Oscar Wilde: ”To lose one parent, Mr Worthing, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.”

   I have a distant half memory of a witticism from Noel Coward; someone was commenting at the (possibly drunken) grief of a man who’d lost his father, Noel’s reply was along the lines of “It must be so hard to be an orphan….at 70 years old!”
   I learnt early on to be embarrassed, if not horrified by sympathy…and can remember saying at Primary School “Yes, I’m adopted, but I’m fine!”. Wanting to run with the pack, wanting to be the same, but unconsciously feeling “less than.” Always an outsider. And driven by a need to be accepted, to be beyond criticism…striving for perfection, a damnable road to travel.

 

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A line from The Crock Of Gold, by James Stevens.

I’m not sure if folk who had happy and secure early years could imagine the rootlessness….the insecurity of adoptees? The feelings of inferiority, of shame, of never being good enough.
There again, I’ll never forget a situation where I was on my way back from a Demo against Nuclear submarines in Holy Loch. We were five women, one girl and my dog, and we got stranded in a Ford Estate, in a snowstorm for about seven hours. There was a marked difference between the reactions of the three mothers in the car and the two single women…one of whom really got on my nerves. (There’s a whole story about that night, but I’ll not tell it here, now!) So when we finally got back I went to a friends house, and was sounding off about the woman who’d riled me….the friend I was telling launched into equally disparaging comments about her, to which I guiltily thought I should redress the balance, and said “Well, she DID have a fucked up childhood”, to which my friend said “Charlie! We ALL had fucked up childhoods!”. Some truth in that alright!


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This blog is more than enough for folk to trawl through, and so I’ll end this post with a photo of a piece I carved some years back….I was talking with a friend this morning about Chance Triumphant……this piece was one of the first I exhibited in the RHA in Dublin. If my memory serves me correctly, it was bought by a couple who had had a stillborn child….
Offered here in memory of all the Lost babies…the stillbirths, the ones torn so harshly from their poor young mothers,  the ones who died from institutional neglect and were buried with no sign that they had ever been here….and for those who can Never Forget.

 

 

 

 

 

Impatience, Frustration, an Inability to Scream, and Drawing Thoughts.

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This was when I wanted to scream….but I’ve never been able to scream, or really lose my temper…..this relates to the content of the blog I had FINALLY started writing…. dammit!

Well, that lot was scribbled on empty pages from boring days in last year’s tiny diary ……. I couldn’t face wrestling with computers anymore.  I did discover what had happened…my mistake…I had TWO Edit Post pages open….and ‘Save Draft’ had been on the wrong Draft page…Shucks!
I can’t rewrite that blog yet….I’d be trying to summon up the words and phrases I wrote two days ago, and tripping over meself again….so I’m going into distraction/diversion mode……
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I’ve written before about the mountains of sketchbooks and notebooks and papers and photos, letters and cuttings and diaries….this blog is a last ditch attempt to find patterns, to sift and cull these mountains….although the temptation to have a giant bonfire always lurks in the back of my head!

( Jeez…what with paper and with wood, I’ve used a helluva lot of trees in my life! But I’ve planted many, too.)
My Lost Blog was prompted by the horrendous stories coming out in Ireland  about the mother and Baby homes, and orphanages…and was ‘Open Heart Surgery’ about being orphaned and what a lack of roots lays down in the psyche; hard to write in the first place, but I will rewrite it eventually…meanwhile a diversion into Calligraphy!

As a left handed child, I suffered greatly at primary school, and beyond, for my appalling handwriting….endlessly made to rewrite essays and write out “lines”….but at least they didn’t force me to use my right hand, and it did lead me into an absorption with Type, and Calligraphy.
Now, Calligraphy is totally unnatural for a ‘sinister’ (left handed) person…you really need to pull the pen from left to right, to get smooth flourishes, but I’ve always been bloody minded about things I wanted to do, and now I’m pretty well ambidextrous… with a fine line in mirror writing for ‘secret’ notes!

Today’s choice of calligraphy….

A Rough for a quote from a Mary Oliver poem.

A Rough for a quote from a Mary Oliver poem.

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A Rough for The Goal of Life….

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The Goal, Rough 3…more pleasing than the final piece, which I over-worked.

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And a  couple of photo’s of applied type, in an ongoing drawing….

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A working title for the blog that disappeared was given to me by a friend,  joking about my options…”Suicide, Homicide, or Genocide?”.  Well, none of the above, but I’ll get back to that!

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For now x

 

 

 

 

 

Jasmine, Scents, Cobwebs and President Obama.

I was at a garden centre yesterday with my dear friend Bridget, and we drooled over trellis’s draped with Jasmine….80 euro a pop! We sadly turned from them, the scent lingering around us, and we made more modest purchases.
I thought of the Jasmine outside my front door, that I had been aware of somewhat neglecting to trim and water, so this morning I decided to feed and water it…and was assailed by that glorious sweet scent! On looking up I saw a tangle of newly opened flowers that I hadn’t even noticed.

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Having burnt-out my back when building my house, I took an aversion to balancing up ladders, but having got up there I found the Jasmine was twined around the party lights I’d forgotten were there. Grubby, covered in cobwebs, a sorry state.
Diversion to switch them on…all but the last 2 ft lit up! Jeez, it must be nearly seven years since my last party…time to plan another one!

 

Twined around the party lights

 

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Unravelling the twining strands was a pernickity job, but so pleasing when you’re surrounded by that heady scent!

Tied up, ready to come down right side after...
Tied up over the  door that opens, ready to come down the side on the right…

 

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And on the other side, strung to grow horizontally.
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A shot of Multi Blue Clematis, for Bridget…Not a true portrayal of the colour, but I don’t like tweaking colours in Photoshop.

 

Sambucca and President.
Also for Bridget, Sambucca and  Clematis ‘The President’….the photo doesn’t show the electric, vibrant colours together.


The President Obama bit: ( a personal rant…)

Who is this inflamatory Obama we’re hearing, ….starting up another Cold War?

Is he needing new bases to send soldiers to, when they withdraw from Afghanistan?

Giving self-interested reasons (David Cameron’s if not his own), as to why Scotland should stay in Britain….like, the patronising reasons are REALLY going to persuade Scottish voters….(Take your tongue out of your cheek, Charl!).

 

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I promised cobwebs….this is my Website.

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Allium Christophii seed heads….one bulb will produce a new and larger head every year…..I don’t mind cobwebs, because spiders catch flys….but I really ought to  clean up the ones over the cooker!

And a last blast of my love affair with colour,  the light above my stairs, inside an old bird cage.

And so to bed

And so to bed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Daily Post, Unsafe Containers. Enthusiasm.

For me, the Unsafe Container is Enthusiasm…I loved it when I found out that the word Enthusiasm comes from the Greek: ‘to be possessed by a God or Goddess’, and that the word Idiot comes from Latin: ‘a private person’. I decided I could be an enthusiastic idiot with impugnity!
And although I have been told I’m a good listener, (when I’m interested! Anything to do with psychology, nuttin’ to do with sprockets!) I did have to post this on my FB page:

I don't mean to...

Spot the Swallow, (note to Self: Go to Specsavers!)

 Last week a swallow had got into my house….I’d had swallows nesting under my verandah roof for some years now, but they didn’t return for the last two years.

 

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Spot the swallow….impossible to photograph as you see it, aren’t human eyes brilliant in their ability to refocus instantly!

This ceiling is 22ft high, the open-plan room 27ft long, and this poor bird flew up and down, up and down, resting on beams before resuming his flight path.

 

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The swallow about to land on the beam, again.

 

I opened all the windows and skylights that I could reach upstairs, and doors and windows downstairs,  but his (or her!) flight went on for some hours. Enlisting my neighbour for bright ideas,  I remarked on my worry it would be exhausted, to which he reminded me that this bird had flown here from Africa!
Which reminded me of a wonderful experience in 2010. I was in Marrakesh in February, and from the rooftops I had watched the swallows gathering together in readiness for their flight north.

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No swallows in this photo, but magical memories of hearing the call to prayer at sunset.

And then the joy, a couple of months later, seeing the swallows arrive in the North West of Ireland…so awesome to think of their journey.
Back to the story.
Eventually the bird found it’s way out of the house…relief all round.


Now we skip to a few hours later; sitting in the house in the evening, my neighbour noticed a wee cat poo on the floor. I had moved the litter tray outside, as I thought new rescue cat Rasta was now used to going outside….as opposed to the litter tray, or the large plant pots around the house.

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The offending wee pile.

I leapt to my feet, got Rasta by the scruff of the neck, and was about to put his nose in it, when I realised our mistake…..it wasn’t cat poo at all, but a filthy cobweb that the swallow had knocked from the beam! I was mortified, and made a huge fuss of Rasta, and as he’s a total love junkie, he settled into being loved as if nothing had happened, bless him!

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Rasta when he arrived, so named as they’d had to cut great dreadlocks off the wee mite!

 

 

My neighbour and I are now booked in for eye tests!