Local Fires & Patio Solitude

Sitting on my patio in the early morning cool, immersed in the smell of smoke from wildfires located nearby, I am enjoying the quiet. Sad to say, the smoke from that fire and another that popped up last week have become part of the fabric of the city. This photo (below) was taken at 10 am on September 4.

Smoke filled sky from Cameron Peak wildfires, Sept 2020 Fort Collins, CO

The intensity of the smoke sometimes makes me want to seek out and wear a mask which reminds me of the other issues in our world right now. With orange-tinted skies, ash falling to the ground and the feeling of early evening when it is only 10am is not the world I want to live in. Of course, 2020 has handed me several items that were never on my agenda before.

This photo (below) was taken at 5:15 pm September 5, 2020. It looks like dusk but the smoke has obscured any light from the sun.

Smoke filled sky from Cameron Peak wildfires, Sept 2020 Fort Collins, CO

I’ve connected with my outdoor patio more this summer than any other before. Maybe because I am home more. Maybe because I want to avoid being around others. Maybe because I have an excuse to pull away and isolate. Maybe because I’ve turned it into a green sanctuary where black-capped chickadees feel welcome. Where hibiscus, spider, ivy and rubber tree plants create a green haven for them and a focal point for me.

This place is inviting, welcoming and in the mornings and late evenings, its’ my sweet spot. In the middle of the day, as temps rise to the high nineties, I stay inside. In the days before Covid-19, I’d visit the library to stay cool and stay engaged. Or maybe I’d volunteer at a local school, go see a movie or meet friends for lunch. Not so much now.

Now it’s me and my yard. Except with all the ash in the air, it’s me and my house.

This photo (below) probably explains itself. Ash-filled skies covered the landscape.

Ash on FedEx box from Cameron Peak wildfires, Sept 2020 Fort Collins, CO

Over the Labor Day weekend, I visited a friend in my old neighborhood. Every time I visit that area, I drive very slowly by my old house. This time, I got out and walked up and down the nearby green belt and looked into my yard. My rose-of-Sharon bush was healthy and happy. The tiny Christmas tree was growing taller. The lilac bush, aspen trees and perennials were all intact. As I was checking out my hard work, one of the homeowners came to the door and we chatted. I told her who I was and was delighted when she gave me a tour of my house and all the changes that were made.

I walked away with the biggest smile that my sweet little house was loved and in good hands. When I travel back to my childhood home, I do the same thing. I slowly drive by and take mental inventory of what still exists. The pump my dad put in the front yard. The rock wall loaded with rose moss and other perennial flowers. The elm tree is long gone due to a blight that wiped out all the trees on the street. The neighborhood is old, ignored and tired. It’s not the neighborhood of my youth.

Home is such an integral part of my health and wellness. Having a clean space that includes some of my identity – color, flowers, plants, smells and artifacts keeps me sane in a world where sanity is in question. Having a small patio and yard gives me a place to go, to tend, to improve and enjoy and I treasure this space in a way that never mattered before.

I am blessed. I know that beyond reason. I can list a million things that I don’t have and don’t want but I can tell you that the things that really matter can’t be purchased – a  positive attitude, friends, good health, laughter, love and a sense of purpose.

Now, let’s put these wildfires out, get some clean air and blue skies again real soon.

Smoke filled sky from Cameron Peak wildfires, Sept 2020 Fort Collins, CO

Here’s to a feeling of happiness and well-being wherever you may be!

Related:

 

 

 

 

Coronavirus Summer: Water therapy

kayaking on Lake Estes, Estes Park, CO for my sanity during coroanvirus summerMy world is pretty small these days. As I write this sitting on my front porch swing, I watch people walk by on my sidewalk. The old couple next door, holding hands, hunched over and committed to the moment. The family of three with a grey and black spotted dog. The dad finally looks up and sees me.  They are talking, talking and then he acknowledges my presence. We wave across a distance.

Nobody is wearing a mask when they are outside.  I know there’s a global virus still in effect and yet, I don’t see evidence of it as I sit and swing. I don’t have a mask on. Two teenagers ride by on their bikes, oblivious to anything outside their bubble.

In past years, sitting on my porch, I would hear local bands singing their hearts out at the neighborhood brewery. Sometimes they would sing so clearly that I could understand each word. That’s not the case this year. The brewery has reopened but with fewer tables. With more outdoor seating. With fewer customers. With less music.

Also in past years I would sit and be surrounded by the sound of crickets. Gone. No crickets. Have you noticed? In the middle of the night, I stand in my backyard and listen to silence. Where have they gone?

roadtrip to Bryce Canyon National Parkfor my sanity during coroanvirus summer

Getting on a plane isn’t going to happen to me for a long time. I’d rather drive. I’ve visited Bryce Canyon National Park in the past month and fell in love all over again. All that inviting open sky. All those intoxicating reds… coral-red, orange-red, eon-red, infinity-red, ancestor-red that changed hues as the earth’s movements inched along. Watching the sun go down in this colorful region, counting the stars as they came out against a black sky and falling into another day was one of my most special memories of that trip.0

Coral Reef National Park, UT during coronavirus summer

It felt good to do something again. To be on the road. Going somewhere.  I’m eager to add some ‘normal’ events back into my world and let my senses come alive again.

paddle boarding on Horsetooth Reservoir, Fort Collins, Colorado for my sanity during coroanvirus summerFinding my way to the water has been healing for me this summer.  Standing on the water, swimming in a pool or coasting in a kayak have been highlights, saving graces, and meditative times for me. Meeting a friend for an early morning kayak ride in Estes Park, paddle-boarding and kayaking on the 6-mile long Horsetooth Reservoir or swimming in a neighborhood pool helps to waken my senses and fills me with gratitude for these wonderful opportunities.

Being near Horsetooth Reservoir helps me cope during the covid 19 summer in 2020

I know others have turned to biking, quilting or painting. Many have started gardens, learned a language and finished a college degree. Closets, attics and basements have been emptied, cleaned and repurposed. Cookbooks have been dusted off and family recipes have resurfaced.

I’m aware that there’s no end in sight for this virus until we have leadership that mandates change. Mandates masks. Leadership that allows science to discover, medicine to heal, and politics to govern, not to enrage, cause dissent and create chaos.  How have you decided to mingle with humanity again?

So, while I wait this out, I am letting water soothe me. As we suffer through an intense heat wave, I seek out my water sanctuary.  My companion. My friend.

And you? Have you turned to something new to help you during these coronavirus times?  Reached out and found something that helps you feel grounded? Tell me.

Stay well, stay safe and stay strong!

RELATED:

Why the summer sound of crickets is growing fainter

Sit? Walk? Visit?

What to do during quarantine?

Keeping safe during a Covid-19 summer

Musings from a fraud

How to mingle with humanity again?

Handwriting on the wall

Are you happy with your handwriting?

My mom had pretty ugly handwriting (sorry Mom) but my dear friend Joan has beautiful writing. Her written words are like pieces of art.

Writing is something we learn early on or we don’t. My sons print. Cursive was not something they were taught. It was one of the teaching initiatives that came and went back in the day. Another fad the schools went through were ‘open classrooms’ as in classrooms with no walls. Just one big open family. That one was also left in the dust. And another initiative was ‘inventive spelling.’ Sometimes these pedagogical fads are introduced and fade away without making any kind of difference… except what was not taught, for example – cursive.

So, now I wonder how many of you actually use cursive when you write? So many people I know leave notes by printing (or texting  ☹) but rarely correspond using cursive.

Do you like your handwriting?

Write to me - displays my handwriting - retired in Fort Collins, CO
My handwriting – what does it say about my personality?

My handwriting seems to go back and forth between printing and writing. It’s as if I speak a foreign language but keep adding English words as well. When I am focused on writing and take my time, my handwriting is ok. Unlike Joan and Loretta and Barbara and Johnny. Their writing is beautiful. When I am writing a card, I want to get it pretty the first time so I have to slow down and pay attention. Using ‘white-out’ to remove my mistakes on a sympathy card is sort of tacky.

What really amazes me is that my handwriting from high school is the same I have now. Almost everything about me has changed over time and yet, my handwriting is almost the same.

Graphology is the study of handwriting. This science is a way to learn about the personality, character and abilities of the writer. So, that journal writing I did in high school (which is pretty much the same as today) can offer insights into my personality. The way I add spacing to words, whether I add loops to letters, and even how I cross my ‘’T’s’ speaks volumes about me according to graphology.

So, what about the population of people who never learned to write? Can studies be done on them as well? (Please let me know if you have this answer…)

I have a guest book filled with messages from people from across the globe who wrote notes after staying in my Airbnb. They are all unique, expressive and special. What makes me want to go back and explore their notes is the idea that within their words are clues to their hidden selves.

What impresses me is that I can detect whose handwriting is in front of me. I can pick out documents written by my sons, siblings, friends and relatives and get them right almost every time. Looking at a letter written my mom or dad makes me nostalgic for them. The written word it truly a link to our past – for better or worse.Just me... blogging away (example of my handwriting) Retired in Fort Collins, CO

I know this is silly, but during the holidays when cards arrive in the mail for me, I turn them over without looking at the writing or return address. I want to be surprised when I open it. Sort of like opening an unexpected gift for my birthday… I want to be surprised. Yes, I know – goofy, right?

So, now put your fingers to work and WRITE ON below in the comment section and leave some words behind!

What Does Your Handwriting Say About You?

Related to this article:

 

Happy 2020 to one and all!

Musings from a fraud…

Ok, lets get right to the heart of the matter.

I’m a fraud. For years I’ve been convinced that I had a book or a series of books in me to write if I only had enough quiet time. Or the right space. Or time alone. Or the focus. Or whatever. And in fact, I have a really good book in me. But you may never get to read it, I’m sorry to say.

And I wanted to learn the play the mandolin if I only had enough quiet time. Or the right space. Or time alone. Or the focus. Or whatever.

I wanted to learn how to draw. That would be something I could do if I only had enough quiet time. Or the right space. Or time alone. Or the focus. Or whatever.

As you may have guessed for the past 8 weeks I had them all. I had the time, space, time alone, focus and whatever.

I did not write my masterpiece. I did not learn to play the mandolin. I did not learn how to draw.

What did I do?

I went outside and walked everyday.

I sat in quiet and drank my cup of hot tea without having to get up and reheat it.

Shadow of tree on fence in spring during isolation time of coronavirusI watched time pass by watching where the shadows from the movement of the sun landed on my fence.

I pulled weeds.

I watched Ted Talks and kept digging deep to learn, understand and grow. Loved this one by Bill Gates.

I planted flowers, tomatoes and peppers, then I covered them up on cold nights.

I read. And I shared my books with other friends who love reading as well.

I listened to new indie music on youtube.com and found new artists. Thank you to Alexrainbird Music)

I listened to books. I loved listening to Tom Hanks read The Dutch House written by Ann Patchett.

I baked bread.

I wrote letters to dear friends (send me your address if you want me to send you a letter too.)

I blogged.

I zoomed. A lot. I stayed connected with my Rotary Club and visited several other meetings and listened to their speakers.

I stayed in close contact with my family through Facebook Messenger video and Facetime.

I met on video with long time friends who I used to waitress with back in the day when I was a young mom. Those connections are still going strong. Amen for that!

SOOOOOOOO

– I’m going to cut myself some slack and honor what I’ve achieved.

No written book for the world to read (not yet anyhow) but lots of blogging.

No mandolin but listened to tons of music (lots of Indie music as well as ‘blow out the speaker’ loud tunes.)

No drawing except for doodles, but I painted my porch swing and added color to the front of my house with accents.

I think my time away from others has helped me put perspective on what matters.

Books, for sure.

Music, always.

Color, of course.Mornings with Margie

Walking, and movement.

Family. Friends. Contact.

And writing words in whatever form they need to be.

If I had to grade myself during my time of isolation I’d give myself a pat on the back. Actually, if I could possibly make it happen, I’d find a way to hug myself. One of those long hugs that you wish you could give to someone near and dear to you. One of those, ‘don’t let me go’ hugs. The kind where the other hand is rubbing up and down the shoulders and back. You know … touch.

That’s been missing during this time. Physical contact. People.

I hope during your time of isolation you were able to find what matters most and focus all your attention there. And let the other stuff slide away. What matters most to me ais the knowledge that I am enough just like I am. And you are too. I’m not sure but that sounds like something Mr. Rogers would say. I miss Mr. Rogers too.

xo

Related:

Ted Talk – The Next Outbreak? We’re not ready yet.

The Delight of Being Retired 

AlexRainBird Music 

Instagram #happilyafterretirement

Twitter @margie_merc

 

 

 

Where does the dance begin…

repost from April 26, 2016
—————————–

Where Does the Dance Begin, Where Does It End?  by Mary Oliver
is simply beautiful.snow daisy3-sm

Don’t call this world adorable, or useful, that’s not it.
It’s frisky, and a theater for more than fair winds.
The eyelash of lightning is neither good nor evil.
The struck tree burns like a pillar of gold.

But the blue rain sinks, straight to the white
feet of the trees
whose mouths open.
Doesn’t the wind, turning in circles, invent the dance?
Haven’t the flowers moved, slowly, across Asia, then Europe,
until at last, now, they shine
in your own yard?

Don’t call this world an explanation, or even an education.dew rose1-sm

When the Sufi poet whirled, was he looking outward, to the mountains so solidly there in a white-capped ring, or was he looking to the center of everything:
the seed, the egg, the idea that was also there, beautiful as a thumb curved and touching the finger, tenderly,
little love-ring, as he whirled,
oh jug of breath,
in the garden of dust?

Related:
Day by Day, Learning Continues

How to mingle with humanity again?

Where do we go now? As we slowly leave our confined quarters and venture out into the world of rubbing shoulders, eating in restaurants, sitting in salons, flying on planes, riding on trains and mingling with humanity … how do we slowly reintegrate?Now What?

I have had the privilege of ‘sheltering-in-place’ or self-isolating for the past 6 weeks. It’s  been a privilege because I have a roof over my head, food in my pantry and a place to call my own. If I got sick, I had a separate room where I could quarantine. I know I am blessed to be ‘able’ to self-isolate. I have people checking on me, and internet connection, books to read, TV to watch and a yard to sit in. So many people have so much less.

But the doors are slowly opening and it’s time to breathe in, breathe deep and exhale comfortably. It’s time to venture out but always with an eye out for others around me. Are they coughing? Are they keeping their distance?

The media tells me day and night what to do. Keep my distance. Wash my hands. Wear a mask. Stay away from groups. Remember that the silent virus is does not discriminate.

My time inside has dulled my need to shop, travel and eat out. I’ve learned to appreciate homemade meals, phone calls with friends and yardwork. I’m more involved with the lives of family members and friends than ever before.

I’ve learned to listen to and trust my governor and to ignore my president. I’ve realized that actions make all the difference and the front line heroes are janitors, truckers, meat packers, medical personnel, and child care workers. They don’t point fingers, pass blame, try to glorify what they do – they just continue to show up and get the job done. For them I am grateful.

The neighbor kids are learning from home and are getting all the knowledge they need to pass to the next grade. I wonder how many of them will decide to sign up with an online school program and bypass attending a school building in the future. Perhaps the kids who are falling through the cracks, those who are bullied and dealing with social anxiety will find a way to continue with their studies virtually and become successful without the misery.

And what about all the college kids who were sent home in March? Let’s face it, they are going to all PASS the grade. Since they are being taught by instructors who have no knowledge or instruction in online teaching. And guess what? Some people go to college and get a degree in the art of online teaching. They are called ‘Instructional Designers.’ They create amazing curriculum which include best practices and universal design techniques that benefit all students. Let’s face it – the elementary school teachers, high school instructors and college professors do not have that knowledge. They are just all trying to stay above water.

I’ve learned to appreciate my alone time. Audio books. Daily walks. Homemade food. Books off my bookshelf. And yard work, too.

This crisis is not over, I know that. We all know that … but I am ready to rejoin humanity. Slowly – ever so slowly. What about you? Are you moving in that direction? Are you staying put? Will you venture out and do some of the things you miss? Sure would like to know.

Take care and stay safe my friends!

Tell me about your bucket list

Retired now? Life derailed due to coronavirus? Have a LOT of time on your hands?

Did you make a list of items you want to do as a way to ‘fill your time’ and accomplish some stuff you’ve been meaning to complete?

Tell me about your list. Is it one or two items or will it fill a book? In fact, there are books that have lists of bucket items. Hmm, probably not a good thing to fill someone else’s list though. That’s like living someone else’s life for them.

Here’s some of mine in case you need some push from behind …

Happily After Retirement while cross country skiing, in Fort Collins, CO
Gotta love what you do!

Travel to ____ (do this immediately)

Clean  ____ (closets, garage, cellar)

Visit  _____ (best friend, grandchildren, national parks, casinos, libraries, favorite teacher, donut store)

Write ____ (book, memoirs, journal, love letter, blogs, thank you notes)

Start _____ (hobby, cooking, gardening, drawing, blogging)

Eat _____ (NY cheesecake, Maine lobster, Hatch green chilies – but must eat them where they originate)

Learn ____ (hip hop, watercolor, Italian, piano, astronomy, fly-fishing, pickleball)

Donut case filled with everything wonderful and tastyVolunteer ___ (food bank, Rotary, library, Peace Corp, mentoring students)

Contact ______ (high school friends, childhood buddies, pen pals, congress representative)

Paint _________ (canvas, nails, doors, house, garage, your wagon)

Research ______(family lore, history of sugarbeets, finances, school board)

Organize __ (a book group, game nights, hiking events, trips abroad)

So, does this list kick something into gear for you? Got some things you need to write down then check off? What exactly is on your list, hmm? Have you already moved forward on some items. Feel better?

If you’re married then you have a partner to share some of your activities with, however that’s not always the case. Your list and your spouses could be vastly different or perhaps one of you might want to travel and the other might choose to never leave the garden.

The secret is to find some things that only you love to do and get moving on them. You might learn that golfing isn’t that high on your list after you take a few lessons. Or that you want to learn and teach yoga.

Climb into your sandbox and to explore and play. Find out what you like to do and move in that direction. Maybe you’ll never want to come out.

Or maybe you’ll decide you want to climb into the round sandbox filled with electronics, computers and technology and come out with the knowledge that you really want to create recipes and make new food items.

If you don’t have a partner to play with, that works fine too. In fact, you might have more freedom to try things out, change your mind and start all over again. You’ve got 30 years on your plate. The important thing to remember is there are so many others who want to meet you and do what you’re doing.

Be happy, have fun — And you will always have friends!


The benefits of a bucket list by Elizabeth Scott MS

 

 

Happily Captivated in my Home with Google Arts & Culture

I am loving my travels on Google Arts and Culture – at artsandculture.google.com.

I read about this wonderful Google website from the blog Library Lady Travels. Her post Don’t Miss This introduced me to hours and hours of education, entertainment and culture.

I started off by taking selfies using my phone and have seen them through the eyes of other artists. You might enjoy this one.

Inspired by self portrait of margie.merc van gogh style - Detroit Institute of Arts

I’ve visited murals in New York City and for the heck of it traveled further down the street where the mural is painted to check out the neighborhood.

There’s are links I can click and visit art masterpieces and see them really close up. Way closer than if I were in a museum and had to stand behind that stupid line on the floor or roped off area.

When I click the three black lines to the left of the words Google Arts & Culture (TOP LEFT OF SCREEN) I am able to locate topics that mattered most to me. This shortcut gets me to places quicker and make my wanderings more strategic. Not to say I still don’t spent tons of time exploring!

There’s an entire section of videos too. There’s a site called 360 videos. Videos such as the Hubble Control Center, Step into the Orion Nebula (where stars are born), Meet a Prehistoric Sea Dragon, and Carnegie Hall featuring The Philadelphia Orchestra. Every time I view something, I click another link and go deeper into this vast library of sights, sounds and images. I can increase the size of a photo and almost touch the paint strokes from art found in the Louve. The only thing I’m not able to do is to smell the art.

Being stuck indoor isn’t such a trying ordeal when there is so much to read, learn and see. It’s all so awesome.

The other thing … as I head down one corridor or into an auditorium or classroom or arena  – I find something that I think my son would like. Or I want to contact my sister or friend or neighbor and tell them to check out this link. It takes me to other realms. Truly.

I am able to enlarge works of art by Van Gogh and others and look closely at their work.

Project by Bryon Summers is powerful, insightful and as he says, “It’s bigger than us…” There are 1000 photos of black males with captions that explain the project. One photo has these words, The We Love You project is a simple but powerful reassurance to our black boys and men that even though it feels like they are being murdered and destroyed constantly, they are still a part of a larger community that loves and supports them.” The photos are inspiring.

Another section titled We Wear Culture has links to The True Cost of Fashion, Who Invented the Sewing Machine and Wedding Wardrobes. How about Art in the Streets, Face to Face with Rembrandt, or maybe Step Inside Italy’s Museums. If there’s extra time on your hands now… it’s a great place to go. I mean, since you can’t go to a library (museum, bookstore or anywhere else) you can easily get lost in the vast pages of Google Arts and Culture.

It makes me want to start an Art & Culture club where my friends and I all go and visit the same exhibit and then meet later to discuss. Who needs a book club anyway?

Or maybe I set up a Mornings with Margie every Tuesday at 9 am (MST) where retired people from my community can meet up, learn and discuss all via the web. And then, most importantly of all, come together late for coffee, tea or maybe a mimosa to discuss our findings.

Mornings with Margie

Check it out  — artsandculture.google.com and let me know what you think. Anything that appeals to you? I really want to know!

 

Resources:

The Library Lady Travels

5 Reasons You Shouldn’t Delete Google Arts & Culture After Finding Your Doppelganger

Explore the World of Frieda Kahlo Artifacts for Free

Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery joins Google Arts & Culture

 

 

Will Jeff Bezos pass the Four-Way Test?

My upbeat music of the morning – Paul McCartny- Hope for the future

*************

Look around you. There’s so much opportunity to do good. And unfortunately, there’s way too much opportunity to be bad. And for some of the richest people in the world –there’s the opportunity to do nothing.

In my Rotary Club, we follow guiding principles called the Four-Way Test.

The Four-Way Test:

Of the things we think, do or say:

1 – Is it the truth?
2 – Is it fair to all concerned?
3 – Will it build goodwill and better friendships?
4 – Is it beneficial to all concerned?

Bill Gates (March 9, 2020)

The Gates Foundation and Wellcome are each contributing up to $50 million, and the Mastercard Impact Fund has committed up to $25 million to catalyze the initial work of the accelerator. The Gates Foundation’s funding is part of its up to $100 million commitment to the COVID-19 response announced last month.

Jeff Bezos, the richest person in the world with an income of over $112 billion continues to hoard his wealth at a time when workers need paid health care more than ever.

Instead of Whole Food employees getting paid time off (PTO) to quarantine themselves, they are asked (in an email) to consider donating their own PTO to employees who are sick and need additional time off. I am pretty certain this request is not fair to all concerned, nor will it build goodwill and better friendships.

Might the unspoken expectation be that once they use up all their PTO and their coworkers PTO that they should go in while sick?

Oh, wait a second. I was wrong. Whole Foods also said that it will offer unlimited, unpaid time off during the month of March and 2 weeks of paid time off (PTO) for workers who test positive for Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.  I’m not really feeling the love, are you?

So, Whole Food workers  will get 2 weeks of PTO if they test positive for the virus and maybe a bit more if they have generous coworkers with available PTO to donate. What if someone in their house has the virus and they need to self-quarantine?

Ok, to be fair, Amazon stocks are only selling at $1,689.15 right now. Jeff Bezos maybe fretful during this crisis but he can put his fears aside (unlike his Whole Foods employees) because Amazon “is opening 100,000 new full and part-time positions across the U.S. in their fulfillment centers and delivery network to meet the surge in demand from people relying on Amazon’s service.”

Of the things we think, do or say:

1 – Is it the truth?
2 – Is it fair to all concerned?
3 – Will it build goodwill and better friendships?
4 – Is it beneficial to all concerned?

I am pretty certain that Jeffery would not pass the Four-Way Test. 

***********

The next outbreak? We’re not ready – Bill Gates TedTalks April 2015

Bill Gates Blog – How to respond to Coronavirus

Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg where are you?

Love from afar (Covid-19)

My upbeat music of the morning: – Louis Armstrong sings
What a Wonderful World. 

sitting on a long doc with my sister, happily retired

The way the world is spinning now it’s easy for people to do good. And be bad. Or be ugly. There is so much happening in our world these days that I just want them to choose GOOD.

This video was posted on Instagram by Sara Byrne. (Sabyrne5)

Byrne’s grandmother has seven sons, 22 grandchildren and 29 great-grandchildren. Most of them live in the Syracuse area, so they went to sing Happy Birthday for her. “We love her so much and are so thankful for her!” said Byrne.

And a Brooklyn cellist plays Happy Birthday from afar…