paros day 30: a month so far…

And that’s not counting the start of all this. Its from the day I returned to Paros to begin my ‘isolation’ in my own home. Of course restrictions came into effect in stages, but it was 5 days before I got back home that schools closed. Events were cancelled before that, but I think the closure of schools and unis seems like the real start.

Who knows.

I’ve often questioned this whole thing. Like, is it really that serious? I mean, it spreads fast, people get it, most only feel a flu-like illness and get over it. Few die of it, but people die of the common flu(s) every year. And the internet is full of numbers of how many people have died of anything else so far this year and COVID-19 is way down the bottom of the list. Why is this virus so bad? Its not like the Black Death which killed somewhere between 75-200 million people. It killed 30-60% of the world population. Now THAT’s bad. Real bad.

But of course that was before people knew about personal safety, cleanliness or how things spread. And there was no proper management and no medical care to speak of.

Today we have all that. And we have the internet so we can all stay informed on what to do and what not to do.

So why is this being treated like the new Black Death when it so isn’t?

Well… I found this which I think puts it in a nutshell:

For comparison, seasonal flu has a mortality rate below 0.1 per cent but it infects so many people that it results in about 400,000 deaths a year worldwide. Spanish flu infected an estimated 500m people and killed 50m worldwide in 1918-19. Hypothetically, if Covid-19 affected half the world’s current population over the course of a year with a 1 per cent fatality rate, the death toll would be 35m — substantially increasing the number of deaths worldwide, which is around 60m for all causes in a typical year.

And this:

COVID-19 has a much higher infection rate than the flu. Not to mention this is a totally new virus so no one has any resistance to it. And people can spread it without having any symptoms:

“COVID -19 takes up to 14 days for an infected person to develop symptoms.”

Stating COVID-19 has a higher infection rate (2-3) compared to the seasonal flu (1.3), there’s a dramatic difference in their hospitalisation rates.

The hospitalisation rate for seasonal flu is “around two percent”, whereas for COVID-19 this is “19 percent” – no wonder our NHS is at breaking point.

So… I think that puts it into perspective on why we’ve all been put in isolation and told to adhere to strict social distancing guidelines.

Anyway, now that I’ve totally bummed you out, here are some pretty paintings I did today to make you smile.

First is Tiger, my friend Linda’s cat.

Next a cute bunny looking at you, wondering what on earth you’re doing.

A prawn to chuck on the barbie if you’re an aussie. This one wont stand on its own. It needs a stand or to be used like a paperweight.

And dinner tonight: fish. This is on a bigger piece of marble than most. When you pick up broken pieces you work with what you find.

Actually, its not dinner. Today I made smashed potatoes for lunch so I’m not sure what I’ll have for dinner. Probably that toasted sandwich I considered last night.

Before I go, an update on my Netflix viewing cause I know you all care so much… I’m now watching Ozark on my cousin Zefi’s recommendation. I’m really enjoying it. Similar to Breaking Bad in a way, the guy gets in deeper and deeper, but this time he’s not making the stuff, he’s laundering money. Worth watching.

I also watched Retribution which I recommend. And I’m still watching Outlander every couple of weeks. I like to let a couple of episodes accummulate.

Next on the list will be the latest Casa de Papel (Money Heist). Loved the first two seasons of that show. Lets see if the 3rd is as good.

Today has been spent painting most of the day with 2 breaks for walks with Lainee, reading stuff on the internet, FB-ing, making a couple of calls and listening to country music which I had a hankering for. (Been listening to too much country!)

I think its time to go for another walk. I need to stretch my legs…

z

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paros day 21: crafting again

Today was a much better day. I got up early and Lainee and I went for a long walk despite the strong wind and the threat of rain. That’s always a good way to start the day. Good thing too cause I spent the rest of the day up to my elbows in craft stuff. Poor Lainee had to cross her legs!

This time we walked towards Ag. Irini but it was too windy to go all the way to the sea. We did meet some friends along the way though…

And noticed some gorgeous flowers among the weeds. I’ve never seen one of these before…

Back at home I went back to work on Winston the bulldog for quite a bit. He’s drying at the moment. I’ll update on him tomorrow.

Meanwhile I didn’t waste the day like I have tended to do lately. After putting Winston aside I did some painting which I’ll share when I take good photos. I also tried my hand at some ‘zero waste’ wash cloths.

I was looking at websites about cutting down on waste and thought these little things looked cute. The basic idea is to make your own wash cloths for doing dishes or wiping down benches using scraps you already have instead of buying sponges you throw away. When these get dirty you toss them in the washing machine.

I made these as scrubby washcloths – the back is microfibre and the front is a double layer of burlap I had in my fabric stash. As you can see I had pink in both! It was meant to be… The idea is that the burlap is stiff enough to scrub and the microfibre soft enough to wash. We shall see.

It wasn’t till after I finished them that I wondered why you need to make your own when you can, basically, just wash and re-use the ones you buy…? Whatever. I made these now so I’ll give them a try.

Tomorrow I might make myself some makeup remover pads using some soft cotton if I can find any in my stash.

You have a lot of time to think when you’re at home creating on your own… I’ve been thinking about this whole situation we find ourselves in and I wonder how and when things will get back to normal. The greek government has just extended the isolation restrictions till the end of April. A lot of people are thinking that things will go back to normal after that. Or by summer.

I don’t know… but I very much doubt it.

I mean… just think about this: Greece shut down quickly and has been pretty successful in slowing the rate of infection. So, what’s the plan now? We keep isolating and minimizing exposure and limit the spread till the ‘curve flattens’. Does that mean we keep this up till there are no more new cases? Or till there are under 10 new cases a day? How does that work? If we simply have less cases and we go back to normal, we’re back to square one again in a very short time.

Let’s say the plan is that we lift restrictions once no new cases are reported for a period of time. Say a month. No new cases in a month anywhere in Greece. What then? We all go back to our normal lives cause there are no more carriers or sick people to spread the virus, right? But if one person gets the virus we’re basically back in the same boat again. Do we go back to normal but keep the borders closed till the entire world has no new cases for a month? How does this work? More importantly, how long does that take? And how do we know? Not everyone in the world is tested, and even if they are, doesn’t mean they’re clear forever… they could get it tomorrow or next month. Is there an end to this?

These are the things that keep me up at night.

I need to sleep… Last night I gave up and watched Netflix till 2.30am cause my mind just would not stop.

I hope I have better luck tonight.

z

paros day 16: laziness struck…

Yesterday was one of those days…

It started off fine. Got up at 8am, Fed the cat, took Lainee for a quick walk, did some yoga, had breakfast, walked to the garage to do another coat on the table.

Then I came home to begin doing something. Anything.

I did another coat of paper on the bulldog, but had no inspiration to start forming the head.

I gave in to the couch and Netflix.

And I ate.

This happens to me now and then. I have bursts of energy which I put into making things, then I crash and can’t motivate myself to wash the dishes.

I struggle with some sort of depression. I just know that ever since I can remember I’ve felt different. I’d get these feelings and put them down to the fact that I questioned life while those around me sort of just went on with it, living the life they were expected to live. For instance, my female cousins all went to school and thought about the day they would marry and have children of their own. I wanted more from life. I didn’t know what I wanted, but I knew there had to be more to life than that for me.

I put it down to thinking too much. I thought it was cause they didn’t think beyond the everyday and truly believed they were happier than I was – they didn’t seem to struggle with any feelings of dissatisfaction or question their place in life like I did.

There were things that happened in my life at that time which may have been the reason I felt like that, but then again, maybe it was always there, in me.

When I was 10 we moved from Australia to Greece, leaving everything I knew and everyone I loved behind. I was 10. Up till then I never saw anyone who lived in Greece. I thought I’d never see the people I loved again. It was devastating.

I hated Greece. I hated everything about it (a feeling that’s hard to get rid of entirely). I went to American, then English, schools. I was greek but I thought in English and was educated in English. My parents expected me to act like the greek girls next door (good greek girls) when I had nothing in common with them. This just made the feeling of not belonging anywhere much stronger. Till I found my people in the punk world – greek kids who rebelled against society’s expectations.

The worst time for me was during art school when I actually went through a phase of not being able to get out of bed during the day and unable to sleep at night. I found I would cry a lot and would feel: ‘I don’t know why I’m so miserable. My life is good, I’m not unhappy, why do I feel like this?’

These were feelings I’ve often had in my life. The tears being just below the surface, or anger… yet nothing was really wrong.

My doctor back then recommended therapy and said it was a hormonal imbalance that could be corrected with pills. I’ve been on ‘happy pills’ for years. I only need a tiny dose, enough to maintain the level of energy I like to have most of the time. But sometimes this low breaks through.

In general, as long as I take my daily dose of happy I’m good. I sometimes have low days but they’re not rock bottom low where I cry for no reason. I maintain a sort of balance where most of the time I’m content and inspired to do things. Just sometimes the call of wallowing on the couch becomes too strong to resist. Hence this post is a day late.

I try not to feel guilty about wasting time but its hard to not beat myself up about it. Its different to days where I chose to take it easy and sit on the porch and read or have a nap, its more of a destructive type of wallowing where I eat junk cause I dislike myself.

It has nothing to do with the lockdown. I love being home, surrounded by things I love. I love doing my own thing. Yes, I’m very social so I do miss having a coffee with friends, but its not the be all and end all of my life and I still talk to friends every day.

I just have to find a way to never let this feeling go beyond one afternoon. Its not how I want to live or who I want to be.

Its 9.30am. Time to get up and get out for a walk, give the table another coat of paint, start working on something, anything.

And stop eating junk.

z

 

what a year 2019 was

Inside a small cafe near Ermou Street in Athens.

December 23, 2018 I came back to live in Greece. A year ago at this time I was right where I am now. In Athens. A year ago next week I went to Paros to begin my new life there.

2019 was a big year. So was 2018 of course since that was the year I decided to move back to Greece and had to sell everything I owned… but I’ve been thinking about how much my life has changed in one year.

Same cafe, gorgeous decorations.

So much has happened in a year. Most people tell me I’ve achieved tons though I always expect more of myself and I tend to focus on what I haven’t achieved. Still, I figure I should be grateful for everything I have done in that time.

I found work. More than one job in fact. I’ve become known as a good groomer by word of mouth. I bought my own piece of Paros to call home. I’ve made great friends and I’ve spent time with family. I got a poodle to warm my heart. I joined the animal welfare organisations on Paros and have helped animals in need. I’ve been adopted by a cat. I’ve done some of my own work and made things to sell. I bought a car. I’m learning to live in Greece. I’ve set up an art class to start this coming year.

Little Kook is a work of art. Three shops, owned by the same person, an entire street decorated for each season.

Sure, there’s still a ton of things to do. To work out, to decide upon, to set up. A workshop/studio for one thing… sigh. I miss that most of all. Having a dedicated space I can go out to to work on making anything I feel like.

But the possibilities for life here are endless… with all the choices and decisions I’m feeling overwhelmed and (to coin a friend’s expression) I’ve been ‘lost sheeping’ a lot. Which means I stand in the middle of a room thinking ‘what do I do now?’

However, all in all, its been good to come back to Greece. Mom is so happy to have me near by, or living at home as I am now while I’m in Athens. She’s always cooking my favourite meals. Its nice to have my mother near and I like to see her happy.

A local cafe bar called Button. Of course.

I miss Paros and can’t wait to get back to my home and friends, but to be honest, I’m also enjoying my time in Athens. When the weather isn’t too bad I go into the city center and wander around. Its amazing down there.

Elize, a cafe full of flowers.

One of the things the greeks do best is the cafes… We have great cafes in Australia sure, but here they are inspired! They do the ‘themed’ cafes so well. And they are always packed despite charging 7e or more for a slice of cake. Unbelievable. I went out yesterday and ate a meal in Psiri for 20e for two people, then a cafe for a small cappucino and cake for 2 people and paid 23.30e. Highway robbery. And yet, the places are always full.

Pink and red cakes.
Even pink cappucino.

Life in Greece is contradictory. So many homeless. Crime. Yet people enjoy their lives and somehow can afford to go out as well. Beats me how they do it, but they do.

Anyway, I’ll leave it at that today. I had planned on writing more and sharing more, but I can’t concentrate with all thats happening in Australia right now. My heart is aching for all the animals lost and all the people who lost everything they own…

z

unbelievable… then again, maybe not…

Today my Ikea Ivar bookcase was delivered. I was so excited. I’ve been so looking forward to this. After the beach I got stuck into it. Unpacking boxes, lifting out bits and pieces and leaning them against the wall I’d already cleared so I could put it up tonight. Having decided that it was easier to just put it up now and worry about painting it later, like after the summer season, when I wasn’t busy with a job and the beach and all that…

So I opened up all the boxes, creating a pile of stuff to put together, only to find there were no lugs or pegs or bolt-like thingies to hold the shelves onto the sides. I thought maybe I got it wrong… maybe there’s some hidden trick to attaching the shelves. I looked it up on Youtube (as you do) and nope… there are supposed to be lugs or pegs or whatever and there were NONE. One guy on Youtube said they’d all fallen out in the packaging when he got his, but I looked through every bit of cardboard and not a single lug to be found anywhere.

Wonderful.

Now first thing on my to do list for tomorrow is ‘call Ikea and have them send me the lugs’. Then wait a week till I get them so I can put the damn bookcase together and get stuff out of the way.

And I thought I was on the home stretch…

I still haven’t got my sails or outdoor cupboard. I’ve gotten as far as speaking to the transport company which is shipping it but they haven’t located my order to inform me when it will be delivered.

Wonderfuller.

Sigh.

And while I’m whining and complaining… why is it that light switches are never on the right side in Greece? I don’t mean on the right wall, I mean the one on the right turns on the light on the left and the one on the left turns on the light on the right. I mean… how hard can it be to get that right? How about why some light switches are on when they’re up while others are on when they’re down… sometimes even in the same house…

Not to mention the fly screen on my front door … it opens the wrong way entirely. Its a double door, a narrow double door which means that you can walk through if you leave one side of the door closed (the side with the bolt top and bottom), but if you’re carrying stuff you really need to open both sides. Any NORMAL human being would put a sliding flyscreen on the ‘fixed’ side of the door so you can push it half open to get in and out when you’re only using half the doorway. But no. The bright spark who installed the one in my place put it on so you either have to open both sides of the door in order to open or close the flyscreen, or you have to contort and twist to reach around and slide it open or shut with half the door closed.

Really stupid obvious things to anyone with a brain… You’d think.

Ignore me. I’m just in a shitty mood cause I’ve spent the last 3 hours getting ready to set up a bookcase with nothing to show for it but a bigger mess than I started with.

I’m tired.

I’m going to bed!

z

catch 22

I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. Do I want a simple life? Do I want to be self employed? Do I want to be a full time (working, making enough money to eat) artist? Do I want to have a regular job plus a life plus another 3 part time jobs to make ends meet?

sigh.

It seems that even if I try to have a simple life, I just can’t do it. Its not in my DNA.

For instance… There are times when I feel so tired and overwhelmed by all the things I do/want to do that I don’t know where to begin or when to stop.

I thought maybe I should just concentrate on one thing this year, my first year in a new country: A job, a home, a life.

Sounds simple right?

Then I think ‘well, I have to add in a hobby’ so I add ‘make things for myself only‘. Cool. I can do that. Find and fix or make things for my own use and my own home. (Cause, hell, I’ll do that anyway, even if its not on the list!)

Then I think, but what about my art? Ok, so I add ‘make art. For myself’. Set up an easel and work on it.

Done.

Then I think of the craft supplies I accummulate and I have to add ‘make stuff when I get the urge’.

Then of course I end up with tons of stuff I’ve made which I should sell… so the equation begins looking a bit more like:

A job, a home, a life, painting, a bit of craft work, some remodelling, some sewing, selling stuff on etsy, why not re-make a doll or two cause I enjoy it, how about the odd grooming job if it comes along, a life… if I have time for that…

See? I’m impossible. I can’t just BE. I get bored if I don’t make things. So I make things. And in my defence, if I ever want to be an artist, I mean a REAL one, I have to paint. And if I ever want to make a living out of my art and crafts, I must sell. And in order for it to be a full-time job one day it has to start as a part time job now and I must dedicate hours to it now…

Catch 22

But before I go off the deep end any more, I’ll share a quickie project I just finished today, for my own use.

I found this 3 compartment box at an antique store on Paros a week ago. It was bright yellow but a bit of chalk paint fixed that quickly.

I then painted labels on the front with black chalkboard paint, and voila. An organiser.

I don’t have anywhere for it to sit in my grandmother’s old house but in my own home it will theoretically live near the door and serve as an organiser and reminder to take certain things with me when I leave the house. I always thought something like that would be really handy so here is version 1.

Sorry about the terrible photos. When its in the ‘right’ spot I’ll get better ones. For now I just hung it on the bedroom door. The idea is that every time I pick something up that I need to take with me tomorrow or the next day or later in the week I put it in the box in the right partition. Then each night I move them over accordingly.

Last thing each morning before I head out the door I make sure I have the contents of the ‘today’ box with me.

Done.

Easy.

I hope I remember to use it.

z

you’re such a girl!

Its funny, but that’s what my cousin Maria said to me yesterday at the book/stationery/office supply store. While she got some photocopies done I walked around and explored all the goodies. I love shops like that. Those and hardware stores… I can happily spend hours wandering the aisles going “Ooh, look at that! I didn’t know you could buy that! And this comes in all those colours!” etc.

I was in my element. I left there with some air dry clay and 4 pens in various colours.

First colour choice: pink.

She said “you’re such a girl!”

It wasn’t cause I’m a girl. I just already had light blue. So I got pink and orange and green and purple.

But the main thing about the comment is that I’ve never ever in my life considered myself to be feminine. You know… a girlie girl.

I mean, I occasionally have feminine flashes – like I’ll buy a flippy skirt or a floral dress… but in general I’m the girl in the work out gear and sneakers, the chunky boots, the loose fitting baggy jumpers. I rarely wear make up. Always forget to wear perfume. Never get my nails done… Nails and sandpaper just don’t mix well.

In fact I don’t think I so much sway my hips when I walk as I stride purposefully… Mind you, its easier to sway in heels, which I never wear. Even if I could walk in them (which I can’t) I can’t even stand in them since I broke my ankle and had plates and pins inserted.

In fact, yesterday I noticed that one ankle is thicker than the other. Hm.

Funny thing is that sometimes I do have girlie leanings. Cause you know what, sometimes I like being feminine.

I love asymmetrical layered tops, lacey underskirts, leggings, cat eye liner, Jean Paul Gaultier in the woman’s bust bottle.

I think being girlie can be nice and I think I’m finally starting to enjoy it.

I say wear makeup (then remove it again at night), de-fuzz your hairy bits, wear perfume so you smell nice to yourself, wear jewellery, buy that nice dress, make an effort with the hair! Its never too late to start a shoe collection. You only live once.

Sure its a lot of effort (and not cheap) but you know what? I plan to spoil myself and do and wear things that make me feel nice.

Life is too short.

z

still on the wagon

 

Coffee without sugar?

yuck

Yuck.

I’m told I’ll get used to it. In about 6 months or six years. Not sure which. But right now I’m wondering if I need caffeine that much… yuck.

I’m pretty proud of myself this week. I haven’t eaten any sweets, even though Wayne got into the chocolate biscuits and left an open packet with two mint slice bikkies on the kitchen table, just staring at me. I left them there for two days till they disappeared into someone else’s mouth.

hehehe.

Zefi 1 – Wayne 0

I haven’t had a single teaspoon of sugar in anything, not a single lolly has crossed my lips. I’ve eaten some plain crackers and sourdough wholemeal bread… I was really good till last night when we went to a quiz night and I ate 1.5 white bread sandwiches. Not too bad… I drank disgusting unsweetened coffee instead of coke and when Wayne won a box of chocolates I didn’t have a single ONE.

I look amazing. I’ve lost hundreds of kilos and millions of inches….

As if.

I look no different, though I may have felt what might be, possibly, the outline of my ribs when I lay down yesterday. But I could be mistaken. It has been a while…

I’m hanging out till the day before I leave for Greece to try on clothes (and swimsuits) I’ll be taking with me in the hopes that maybe I can fit into my thin person jeans.

As if 3 or 4 weeks of eating healthy will make up for 10 years of not. Ha.

But its good to have dreams.

And really, it hasn’t been as hard as I thought it would be. Except the coffee. That IS hard. Its almost like something clicked over in my brain and I have the willpower to say no. But its not that even. It doesn’t feel like willpower…

To me willpower would be to look at sweets and really really want one but say no.

I’m not feeling that. I look at them, and I can look at them and even think they look nice and know they’d taste nice, but I just don’t want them. I turn away and its not a struggle…

I can’t describe this feeling, it really is like I finally found the off switch. Which is why I think I’m staying away from all sweet things (except fruit) in case the switch goes on again and I can’t turn it back off.

Maybe the doctor was right and she ‘scared me straight’… maybe it was just time. Whatever, I wish I’d found this switch years ago.

z

no sugar

no-sugar-round-grunge-ribbon-stamp-clipart-vector_csp47417756

Hello. My name is Zefi and I’m a sugar addict.

I’m the poster child for sweet teeth, forget sweet tooth!

There have been days in my life where not only did I eat sweets, but I ate only sweets. In fact, there have been plenty of times I’ve disgusted myself.

I know that diabetes runs in my family, and yet I chose to live with my head in the sand. Like Tom Hanks (I love Tom Hanks!), I lived like life was a party and there was no tomorrow.

My last two few visits to the doctor went something like this: “You have high blood pressure. Not too high, but a bit of concern. You need to lose weight and exercise more. You’re healthy and all, but you need to lose weight and exercise more. You’re insulin levels are fine, at the moment, but you’re not exactly metabolising sugar really well, which is a precursor to diabetes… you need to lose weight and exercise more. Stop eating sweets and carbs. You need to lose weight and exercise more. ”

You get the picture.

The visit before last I began to walk. I’d take the boys for a 1 hour walk most mornings (a real walk, not an amble). But like most things, life got in the way. How do I make time to walk daily and still be able home on time groom? I need to work.

Last visit I thought ok, I really need to do something. Really.

So I decided to cut down on sugar.

Like, stop eating sweets. Like not stop sugar in my coffee, but not eat sweets. I can do that. Surely…

Then I realised that I actually have to be a bit more proactive than that. The problem is I’m so lazy when it comes to thinking about what I should and shouldn’t eat. I’ve always worked on the “I’m hungry, I’ll grab something to eat” principle. And if what I grab is a ‘healthy’ sugar-filled muesli bar, or a slab of chocolate cake, well, I ate something

I always disliked all those ‘my body is my temple’ people who bore everyone to death about their diets and that, somehow, always seem to be sick…

body-temple-pile-deferred-maintenance-real-fixer-upper-quote-on-storemypic-38ee1

I don’t want to be one of those boring people: a ‘born again’ healthy person.

And yet, here I am. Working my way towards a holier than thou position if I succeed.

Its been almost a week with minimal sugar. I’ve resisted the licorice bullets on the table and the chocolate biscuits in the cupboard. I let Wayne finish the chocolates. Today I had coffee without sugar for the first time. I’ve been having tea without sugar for 2 days. I’ve snacked on cheese and crisp bread, I ate one slice of toast with my eggs instead of two, I ate one jelly snake and I had ice cream three times. (Ice cream doesn’t count…)

Ok. I’m not perfect! Its a work in progress!

Thing is, I don’t know how long I can keep this up or if I can even. So far it hasn’t been that hard, no bad withdrawals… but when it comes to reading labels at the supermarket and putting things back “cause that has sugar in it” … hm… and how do I live without bread and pasta?

The theory is that if I can get myself under control now, I won’t actually get diabetes and won’t ever have to deny myself sweets forever more. Right? Please tell me that’s right. I can still have an ice cream now and then if I don’t have ice cream 5 nights a week, plus 6 chocolate bars, 3 bags of lollies, a slice or two of cheesecake and 2 packets of biscuits…

Right?

Surely.

I hope.

z

 

plans…

Best-laid-plans

Yes. Well. This is how it goes around here:

I make plans for tomorrow, the day after, the whole week. I have a diary I keep my appointments in. I make lists of things I need to do – today, tomorrow, the day after, etc.

Then something happens. Nothing ever goes as planned… do you find that? Things I meant to do today get moved to tomorrow or the next day or next week. I do things today that weren’t on the list for this year. I shuffle papers, never use a pen in my diary (learned that the hard way), write new lists.

Surely I’m not the only person who’s life seems to have a life of its own?

Don’t expect any insights or clever solutions in this post. In fact, if you have a solution please share.

I know the theory: Write things down. Make lists. Prioritise.

I DO THAT.

Then things change and I need new plans and new lists. My plans are organic in nature, growing and changing…

I make lists and number things in order of priority as well as geographic location. I mean, how else will I manage to do everything in a time-and-fuel-efficient manner?

Will I ever get this under control or is this terminal do you think?

z