Friday, 29 April 2011

Friday 29 April 2011

I am about to enter my carriage, proceed up The Mall, and take my seat for the most glorious wedding.  What a wonderful day to be Jasper in this world.

I shall return after the ceremony, to share my views with you, dear reader - if you'll indulge me.  Until then, I lift my bowl as a toast to the bride and groom and wish them every possible happiness. 

I may deign to appear on the balcony afterwards; it depends what the weather is doing outsite - and how many canapés remain unguarded on the reception table inside...

See you later!

Good morning.

Monday, 25 April 2011

Monday 25 April 2011

Although I am by no means recovered, I begin to show signs of improvement.

I was able to undertake a full circuit of Abbotstone last evening - and even chased a wily beastie.

Ahhh... [sigh]... well do I recall the days when my blog was populated with tales of triumph such as vanquishing evil buzzards; fights with dominant stags; walks exceeding ten miles over Dartmoor; and other such victories.  Nowadays, my glories lie in managing a short, untaxing, walk - or finishing my dinner without being sick afterwards.  And yet - despite these diminishments - I am happy.  Yes I am.  And do you know why, my dear reader?

Because I am loved.  All I have ever wanted in my life (a loving home, food to eat, water to drink, understanding and affection...) I have.  And, in recent days, it has been proved to me that even though I can no longer caper about as in former years my partner loves me just the same as she ever did.

Age is, indeed, just a number.  I am loved and so I continue to be happy - happier than ever.

And, despite my (thus far undetected) continuing onslaught on garden developments of which I disapprove, I have been a VERY good boy in continuing to take my medicine, earning myself high praise and cuddles from my doting partner at the same time.  This puts me in mind of a viral email, sent to me by my good friend in Michigan, Lance.  Permit me to share it with you now, as a little Easter treat.  Happy Easter indeed.

How to give a cat a pill:
  1. Pick up cat and cradle it in the crook of your left arm as if holding a baby. Position right forefinger and thumb on either side of cat's mouth and gently apply pressure to cheeks while holding pill in right hand. As cat opens mouth, pop pill into mouth. Allow cat to close mouth and swallow.

  2. Retrieve pill from floor and cat from behind sofa. Cradle cat in left arm and repeat process.

  3. Retrieve cat from bedroom, and throw soggy pill away.

  4. Take new pill from foil wrap, cradle cat in left arm, holding rear paws tightly with left hand. Force jaws open and push pill to back of mouth with right forefinger. Hold mouth shut for a count of ten.

  5. Retrieve pill from goldfish bowl and cat from top of wardrobe. Call spouse from garden.

  6. Kneel on floor with cat wedged firmly between knees, hold front and rear paws. Ignore low growls emitted by cat. Get spouse to hold head firmly with one hand while forcing wooden ruler into mouth. Drop pill down ruler and rub cat's throat vigorously.

  7. Retrieve cat from curtain rail, get another pill from foil wrap. Make note to buy new ruler and repair curtains. Carefully sweep shattered figurines and vases from hearth and set to one side for repairing later.

  8. Wrap cat in large towel and get spouse to lie on cat with head just visible from below armpit. Put pill in end of drinking straw, force mouth open with pencil, and blow down drinking straw.

  9. Check label to make sure pill not harmful to humans, drink 1 beer to take taste away. Apply Band-Aid to spouse's forearm and remove blood from carpet with cold water and soap.

  10. Retrieve cat from neighbour's shed. Get another pill. Open another beer. Place cat in cupboard, and close door onto neck, to leave head showing. Force mouth open with dessert spoon. Flick pill down throat with elastic band.

  11. Fetch screwdriver from garage and put cupboard door back on hinges. Drink beer. Fetch bottle of Scotch. Pour shot, drink. Apply cold compress to cheek and check records for date of last tetanus jab. Apply whiskey compress to cheek to disinfect. Toss back another shot. Throw T-shirt away and fetch new one from bedroom.

  12. Call Fire Service to retrieve the d*mned cat from tree across the road. Apologise to neighbour who crashed into fence while swerving to avoid cat. Take last pill from foil-wrap.
  13. Tie the little b*st*rd's front paws to rear paws with garden twine and bind tightly to leg of dining table, find heavy-duty pruning gloves from shed. Push pill into mouth followed by large piece of steak filet. Be rough about it. Hold head vertically and pour 2 pints of water down throat to wash pill down.
  14. Consume remainder of Scotch. Get spouse to drive you to Casualty, sit quietly while doctor stitches fingers and forearm and remove pill fragments from right eye. Call furniture shop on way home to order new table.
  15. Arrange for RSPCA to collect mutant cat from hell and call local pet shop to see if they have any hamsters.
How to give a dog a pill:
  1. Wrap it in grilled bacon.

Hee-hee... many a true word...!

Tomorrow or Wednesday, I will return to consult my surgeon.  Then, we shall know whether I am to leave this realm imminently - or otherwise.  But I am not afraid.  I am loved - and love, as the barking goes, conquers all.

Good afternoon.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Sunday 24 April 2011

I have been busy trying to put my affairs in order before the end.

'Tis true that I am no longer bleeding from the snout, but I am getting terribly tired and can still breathe largely through one nostril.  That barked, my appetite is still hearty and my strength has suffered no diminishment.

I am, however, enjoying the lovely warm spring weather.  The floral scents and birdsong are utterly bewitching.  Yesterday evening, I was dozing in the sunset when Honey, the ginger queen-cat from opposite (who mistakenly believes that the cul-de-sac belongs to her.  Ha!  As if...), decided to amble over and sit in front of my fence.

Oh, I think not, my dear.

I issued a volley of angry barks, each more insulting than the last.  Honey blinked benignly back at me.  With that, I launched myself from my sofa and flew into the garden, ranting and storming.  Pretty Rosie from next door appeared from her garden, on the left, and began barking too (she, for reasons best known to herself, likes Honey and barked to defend her feline chum).  The voice of the unseen Archie, the Jack Russell from the end of my terrace, issued forth from the direction of his rear garden, baying foul invective against cats everywhere and encouraging me in my barks: "Tell her, Jasper!  You tell her!  Go on - get her!).  And Peaches, my nemesis, came wandering over, pretending he was en route to somewhere else but really listening with high glee to the cacophony.

I ran with much force towards my rear gate, Honey noticing at almost precisely the same moment that the latch of said gate was not fastened properly and would not prove much of a challenge for a Staffordshire Bull Terrier with a rumble on his mind.  She fled, and I listened with satisfaction to the click as her cat-flap closed behind her.

Chuckling to myself, I re-entered my house as the other participants of the altercation melted away.  My partner looked at me with a raised eyebrow.
"For someone who's supposed to be on his last legs, Jasper, you have an astonishing amount of energy."  she said, patting my head as she pretended to scold me.  I grinned sheepishly back at her.

All thoughts of errant cats and personal infirmity were cast firmly to the back of my mind, however, on my latest encounter with Eddie, my friendly, camp-as-a-row-of-tents, Rottweiler chum who lives across the way from me.

I was returning from a swimming trip with my partner and spotted Eddie sunning himself on his front lawn.  He was sitting up, his chest almost swollen with importance, and was clearly bursting to tell me something.
"Jasper, dear boy!" he greeted me, before I had even reached him.
"Hullo, Ed!" I smiled at him.  "How's Angus?"  Angus is Eddie's long-time gentleman "companion" and fellow muscly-Rottweiler.
"Jasper - I have reached a decision." announced Edward, self-importantly, ignoring my question.  "I have decided that it is time that I got married and fathered some pups."

It was only with the greatest effort that I kept myself from exploding with laughter.
"Oh?"  I managed to squeak, thankful that I had already been to the toilet recently.  "I didn't think you were the marrying kind, Eddie?"  Ed looked at me through narrowed eyes.  "I mean," I continued, "What has Angus got to say about this plan?"
"Not that keen." muttered Eddie, frowning.
"You surprise me." I replied.  "Ed, you do know that you'll have to - erm - 'interfere' with a lady if you want some pups?  You know that, don't you?"
Eddie wrinkled-up his snout in distaste.
"Urgh..." he muttered.
"Yes!" I nodded, winking at him.  "I'm not sure that your big plan is a terribly good one, old boy.  You want to be sticking with Angus.  All the dogs and even most of the cats round here love you, mate.  You should concentrate on being a good 'uncle' to them.  I'm not sure that you'd make a very good husband for a lady-Rotti."

"Why?" queried Eddie, looking inclined to be quarrelsome.  It was time to bark frankly and call a halt to this madness.

"Because, Edward, you are as gay as a cucumber!" I barked.  "As is Angus!  You can't turn your back on the way things are and pretend to be the dog you're not!  If you can prove me wrong, I will willingly and gladly kiss Peaches!"  The mere thought of that made my stomach heave.

And, with that, I turned and went to take the few steps further, which would lead to my front door.  I looked back, as I heard Eddie's claws clicking on the pavement behind me.  The mighty Rottweiler leaned in closer to me and quietly said:
"Don't tell anyone, will you?"
I grinned at him.
"Ed, it's our little secret." I said with a wink, giving my friend a good-natured head-butt. 

Well, I still do not know if I am on the way out or not.  But at least I can still see the glaringly obvious, along with every other sentient member of this community.  And the day when Angus and Eddie decide to walk the straight path in life is definitely the day when I will genuinely feel that I've outstayed my welcome in this world.

Dear, oh dear, hehehe...

Good afternoon.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Tuesday 19 April 2011

Can there be a worse feeling than having no hope?  Yes, there can.  It is having hope, only to have it subsequently quoshed.  You may gather from this that our much-anticipated payments have not yet arrived.

Actually there IS a feeling worse than this.  The feeling that comes when one's trusty canine sidekick has just deposited an immense bowel-full of dog-eggs upon the pavement and one reaches for one's "poo-bag", only to discover a vast, gaping hole in the said bag.  I, personally, have never experienced this horror.  My partner has though - just last evening.  Suffice it to say that she was not happy, although she was able to creatively use what remained of the bag to clear the pavement - but she didn't speak to me for several moments afterwards.  I think that particular subject is, perhaps, best left there, in the red bin with the dog-eggs and the bag fragments.

Happily, our initial trials have been brought into a slightly more happy state by the arrival this afternoon of my partner's mother with a basket of provisions, in lieu of an Easter gift.  We now have milk, bread, cheese, potatoes, carrots and some bananas - which will keep us going until we have some pennies to spend once again.  Hurrah!  We have already enjoyed a cheese sandwich and two cups of good hot tea.

Less jolly, however, is the reason why we were at home this afternoon in order to welcome my partner's mother and her gifts.  I had to make an unscheduled trip to my surgeon's emergency clinic at two of the clock today.

Our day began uneventfully enough.  We rose at the usual hour and I was happy to eat my breakfast and jump into the car to go to work.  Within a mile or so of work, however, my partner had to make an emergency stop.  For, on casting an askance look at me as we proceeded safely along, she found blood running in small rivulets down my snout, issuing freely from my right nostril (the 'black patch' side of my head).  Actually, it wasn't just blood.  Mucus (sorry) was also blended with my free-flowing precious haemoglobin.

Finding a safe place to bring our New Teal Megane to a halt, my partner cleaned up my snout and we concluded our journey.  Unfortunately, the journey was the only thing to successfully reach its conclusion.  The sticky blood continued to trickle steadily for the rest of the morning and my partner's alarm and distress increased in direct proportion.  Steps had to be taken.

Aside from being a minor irritation (the trickling of the goo making my nose-glands twitch and the goo then dribbling down my tender whiskers), I wasn't particularly bothered about the affair.  'Tis true, I did have a rather nagging, dull, ache on that side of my head today - and that nostril has been minorly bothersome and the cause of some sneezing of late - but nothing to cause particular concern.

When the bleeding had not ceased by 1.00pm this afternoon, my partner telephoned her manager and took the afternoon off work.  I was taken straight to my surgeon.

A thorough investigation was performed.  There are two probable explanations.  I prefer the first.  It may be that I have either knocked my snout (I cannot recall such an occasion, unless I did it in my sleep - always a possibility) or sniffed up something which has become lodged in the nostril.  For this scenario, I have been issued some tablets with complex instructions (but I don't have to worry about those - I just have to be a good boy and take my tablets when my partner gives them to me).  The second, equally plausible, situation is that God has finally called out my number and it is time to row this little hired boat back to the quayside.  It cannot, at this stage, be ruled out that a tumour may have formed within my nasal cavity and, if this should be the case, then there is naught that even the most skilled surgeon available could hazard in order to save me.  I am to return to my medical practitioner in a week's time and then (or shortly after) we shall know all.  Be encouraged though, dear friend, since taking my initial dose of five tablets some three hours ago, my partner is tentatively assured that the bleeding and other seepage has, for the moment, ceased to flow.

She has still passed several hours in frenzied gardening, however, to try and distract her from this latest trial to befall us.  I almost pitied the remaining weeds as I watched her scrambling around our little estate...  This barked, my partner is confident enough in my continued enthusiasm and vigour, buoyed up by my customarily eager consumption of my dinner, to agree to take me out for an evening stroll and swim - although, this time, she will be a little more meticulous over her poo-bag selection...

We will keep you posted with any nasal developments, should there be anything worthy of your notice, dear reader.  But fear not - for I am not afeared myself; whatever the outcome may be.  Oh yes - I fear for my partner - but never for myself...

And - I must just bark this before I head off out to annoy the wily beasties of the evening - please take a moment to visit fellow-blogger, Ann in the UP's, page ( - and be sure to leave a comment.  Ann is donating 50 cents per comment on her blog until 31 May to Heifer International (a worthy charity which provides less-fortunate folk in third world countries with such things as a goat or a cow - something which a poor family can nurture and raise and which can then go on to help that family to have cheese, milk, etc. for themselves and as a source of income for many years to come).

My various tribulations are but minor niggles compared to the poor s*ds of this world who - through no fault of their own - need a bit of a hand to get their lives on track.  Go on - leave a comment on Ann's blog - you KNOW you want to....  And when you've done it once - well, just pop back and do it again!

Until next time, keep smiling, my friend.

Good night.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Sunday 17 April 2011

WHAT a busy day I have had today!  And I naïvely thought that Sunday was the day of rest...

Today, my partner and I have done some gardening, two loads of washing, cleaned the kitchen AND the bathroom from top to bottom, put some food out on our bird-table for our feathery friends, changed our bedding, washed all of our dishes, read a book together, and made a big pan of carrot and coriander soup from scratch.  I am exhausted.

For the most part, I managed to behave myself - except, unavoidably, during the soup-making process.  My partner allowed her attention to switch to the soup pan, leaving unguarded a plump little onion.  I wasted no time in seizing both the opportunity and the onion, scampering away into the garden with my prize before my mischief was detected.

"Jasper!  Come back with that!" called my partner, to no avail.  "Don't eat it, it's a raw onion!  You won't like like it...!" she entreated.

'Hehe - I shall be the judge of that...' I cackled to myself, settling down to peel off the onion's crispy outer skin.  I bit deeply down into my purloined snack...


Hmmm...  I really ought to start paying more heed to my partner's advice.  Perhaps some of it, after all, is actually intended for my own good.  Whatever may be the case, raw onion is disgusting.

And I had to eat it all as well, because Honey the cat was watching from the opposite side of the pavement and I didn't want to look like a weed.  I managed as much of it as I could before I actually started crying with every fresh bite, but was forced to twist about and bury the rest of the hated pungent bulb, shielded from the ginger tabby's impertinent gaze.

Wretched onion.  I've had my proper supper AND two bowls of water and I can STILL taste the revolting thing.  My partner didn't say a word.  I think she could see that I had suffered enough.

Anyhow.  All of this activity appears to have been undertaken to distract my partner from the distressing thought that we have NO more money to last for the rest of the month and very, very little food.  The afore-mentioned soup is the first meal my partner has eaten for two days.  We are expecting our compensation cheque from our "builders", but it has yet to arrive.  I still have meat, though no biscuits, but I cannot complain - my partner always feeds me before herself.  We WOULD have been alright this month.  But the computer repairs and one other unexpected expense took out £110 of the £150 we have each month to live upon.  My partner has busied herself excessively today in order to remove the possibility of dwelling on this plight to excess.  I like to feel that my "onion episode" provided her with at least some light relief.

She does her best to remain buoyant, though it is not always easy.  Earlier this afternoon, whilst I was snoozing on her lap as we were looking at our book, she sighed heavily and, idly scratching my ears, said;
"You've led a pretty full life, haven't you, Jaspie?"
I couldn't really deny it.  I looked up her and agreed.
"When does life start to get easier?" she mused, sighing again.

I gave this some consideration before replying - it was, after all, a fairly weighty question.
"Well," I decided, "You know that bit that comes right at the end?  When you close your eyes for the last time, and then you breathe for the last time, and then everything inside your body stops working?"
"What, you mean death?" she asked, frowning down at me.
"I suppose some people give it that name."
"Ye-es?" my partner enquired.

"Yes." I replied.  "Well, that's the easy bit."

My partner smiled down at me and ruffled my fur good-naturedly, before returning to our book.

After all, I thought to myself as I began to doze again, Dying is incredibly easy - anyone can do it.  It's living that casts up the REAL challenge.

And I would not have it any other way.  I'm off to make a mess in the bathroom now.  Cleanliness is not a natural state for me.

Good evening.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Saturday 16 April 2011

Another wonderful week of being Jasper.  Full of sunshine and general capers.

I attempt to play football with Ewan on the Bridleway next to our work-yard.
  The small black dot in the upper centre is Fizzy, having given up on the idea of a
sensible game with her husband ever taking place.  I have slightly more patience than she does.

Ewan and Fizzy had a day off yesterday, so I took my main exercise in the evening.  Returning home, I was pleased to encounter my friend Eddie the Rottweiler, who was sitting in front of his house enjoying the sunset.  He hailed me cheerfully.
"Jasper!  Sweetheart!"
"Edouardo!  I grinned back.  "How's it hanging?!"
"Oh, darling - don't even mention hanging."  groaned Eddie.  "Angus has got himself a new collar and lead-type affair.  It looks just like a noose and does his great fat neck no favours at all."
Angus is another Rottweiler and Eddie's long-term "gentleman-friend".  Separately, they were merciless in their abuse of each other, but in truth they were devoted to each other.  I grinned again and was about to reply when my gaze was instantly arrested by the bizarre sight to be seen through the window into Eddie's sitting room.  A vast glass tank was taking up almost all of the rear wall.  A bright red light blazed away in the top corner of the tank, casting a reddish-orange hue over the tank's contents.  Within the tank was an assortment of rocks, sand, a small water-pool and a smooth, interestingly-shaped branch.  I had never seen anything quite like it before.
"What," I gasped, "in the name of high holy heaven and all the blessèd canine angels is that?!?"
Eddie glanced behind him to follow my gaze.
"Oh, that." he replied, "It's a vivarium."
As he said that, something scuttled out of a rock-cave in the corner of the tank, grasped a green item from the floor, settled down and began to eat his prize.  The 'something' was a small salamander.  "The lad himself!" beamed Eddie.  "That's Pickle."
"Pickle?"  I queried, with a raised eyebrow.
"Hmm... it's because he looks like one of those dill pickles you get in a jar."
"Pickle the Salamander?!?"
"I know.  Poor s*d.  We've had him for ages - ever since we were relieved of Kevin's company, in fact."

(Pause for explanation:  Kevin was mentioned in this blog some two years ago.  He was a foul-mouthed, arrogant, misogynistic bully in the guise of a white cat and shared a house with Eddie.  Kevin had left his lover, Chloe, the cat from opposite my house, with three kittens to raise alone and then abusively denied in public that the kittens were his.  He was a most repugnant individual.  No-one grieved when he was killed by a car on the main road beyond our street.  At the time, there was talk in both the canine and feline communities of procuring a card and fruit-basket to send to the car-driver as an expression of our deep gratitude.  In fact, if the driver had gone for the double-whammy and taken out Peaches as well I would have put together a floral arrangement of blooms from my own garden for the fellow).

"He's a pleasant-enough fellow." continued Edward.  "Every so often, he's allowed out of his vivarium for a potter around the living-room.  I can't make head nor tail of his conversation, though.  He jabbers away in some odd foreign language and chuckles a lot.  Quite a jolly little lad, in fact."
"What does he eat?" I asked, watching Pickle finishing whatever he was eating before heading towards his little water-pool.
"Insects, mostly." replied Eddie, with a curl of his lip.  "He likes crickets."
"Quite.  Angus is terrified of him, bless him.  Actually, I think he's jealous.  He calls Pickle my 'little Morroccan boy'."
"Really?  Is Pickle from Morrocco, then?"
"No, from a licenced reptile dealer just outside Southampton."

With that, and a last glance at Pickle, I bade Eddie a good evening.  I'll admit to feeling a little envious of the young salamander.  I rather fancied spending most of my day snoozing on a smooth slab of rock, with a sun lamp beaming warmly down on me.  I wonder if I can bark my partner into getting a Jasper-sized vivarium...?

Good night.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Tuesday 12 April 2011

YES!!!  I am back!  Fully restored to my complete and refurbished home, my repaired computer and my blogging chair!  Alert, sharp and sniffing-ass!

I apologise for the fact that you have been long-neglected.  WHAT a time we have had!  But 'tis largely over now.  We have been offered some scant financial compensation for our lengthy troubles.  Insufficient, to be sure, and accompanied by a derisory letter (I am sorely tempted to name-and-shame; but I am a discreet fellow).  That barked, my partner and I are keen to draw a line under the whole wretched business.  Let this, therefore, be the last I bark on the topic.

Firstly - let me thank most sincerely all those who have kept faith with me during my involuntary silence.  Lance.  Lifewithdogs.  Et al.  You know who you are.  I thank you.

Here, in my current part in the World, we are enjoying the most glorious Spring weather.  The sights, sounds, scents - all are sources of delight to me.  Witness this image of me, captured just a few days ago (when my partner had cause to look for something in the work-yard, thus affording me the opportunity to enjoy the unseasonable warmth):

Another gruelling day at the coal-face

I wish not to become maudlin, but I confess to you that I had not expected to live this long; I am now in my thirteenth year.  Indeed - if you cast your mind back, dear reader, to the earliest days of my "Evolution of Jasper" series (to be concluded soon, I promise) - then you will easily comprehend that I did not even expect to survive my puppyhood and adolescence ( Even if I could have foreseen my fortunate longevity I would never have expected to continue in my full possession of every essential faculty.  But - for whatever reason - I am blessed.  And I am thankful for that.

I continue to hear, to see and - above everything I could ever conceivably have wished for - to be loved.

Alas - though I might wish to wax lyrical further on my personal blessings - I must return to you with a tale of my friend Ewan - workplace doggy chum of limited intelligence, but possessed of a bizarre, delusional, obsession with cheese.  Yes.  CHEESE.  Don't ask me why: I have no (formal) psychiatric qualification.

The very day after my latter post we were blessed in these parts with an incredibly beautiful lunar spectacular.  Our own moon, at an incredibly close proximity to our own dear planet, exhibited thus:

The very day after this exquisite and humbling display, I encountered Ewan in the work-yard.  He kept running back and forth between the yard and the adjacent wood - returning each time to the former with a stick in his mouth.  By the time I decided that I could ignore him no longer, he had accumulated a pile of sticks of varying length.  Fizzy (Ewan's basket-mate) merely looked on in resigned bemusement.

"Alright Ewan."  I announced.  "Tell me then.  WHAT are you doing?"
"Bladder."  came the muffled reply.
"Oh, honestly, Jazz, are you going deaf?!" yipped my simple chum, "I am building a LADDER!  To the MOON!"

"Riiiight." I replied cautiously, "Any particular reason?"
"Oh JAZZ!" grinned Ewan, wagging his daft tail at me, "You ARE silly sometimes!  I am building a ladder to the Moon!  Because we ALL know what the Moon is made of, don't we?!"
"Errr.. igneous rock...?  Basalt...?  Magnesium...?"
"No, you muppet,  CHEESE!!"

Of course.  I had forgotten about Ewan's bizarre delusions regarding cheese (his chief pursuit in life, apart from his lady Fizzy's every physical need).

"So you're building a Stairway to Heaven...?" I asked with a wry smile.

"No, of COURSE not!" grinned Ewan, his tail wagging wildly as he set off in pursuit of another suitably-sized stick for his purpose, "That would be ridiculous!  No, I am just building a ladder to the Moon.  I might have to get Fizzy to help me with the difficult bits though...."

And, with that, I left him to his task - secure in the knowledge that only a few moments later he would forget about he was doing and wonder what all of those sticks were doing in the work-yard.

Sweet reader - do not be concerned for Ewan.  He is happy in his little world, and would only injure himself were he actually to fashion a rudimentary ladder and attempt to climb to the Moon.

Despite all of this lunar lunacy - it IS good to be back!

Good night.