Ruffles and Remembering Sunday, Jul 26 2009 

Susabella's Ruffles

24 July 2009

My day was largely overtaken by ruffles! ūüôā

My photo is of the interior—the yummy part!— of the Can Can skirt I made for Susabella.¬† I love it!¬† I have way too much fun with this sort of thing.¬† With three of my dancers having danced a Can Can number with me before, I only have two new skirts to make for this year’s¬†group, and now one is done!¬† (Of course, Ginger saw this one, and immediately had ruffle-envy, so there may be some tweaking to hers as well! <wink>)

So that’s the “ruffles” part of my day I wanted to share.¬† The remembering part of my offerings have to do with Hurricane Ike.¬† Remember him?¬† He swept into our lives and changed our world last September, and although hundreds of people still think about him daily, the news media has little to say about him, now.¬† So, when they do, I find it worth passing along to our readers here at The Daily KRuMB.

Amazing to me, to stop and think that only 65 percent of the folks who lived on Galveston Island before Ike, have even returned to their homes,¬†much less, resumed a life of any degree of normalcy.¬† One of my new friends, a dear woman I met as a result of Ike and our shared love of writing, has written of the “new normal.”¬† Much like for New Yorkers, and indeed all Americans after 9-11-2001, life must go on.¬† But, it is forever changed.¬† I personally believe that it is all too easy for those of us who don’t live in places affected by these tragedies to forget what others are dealing with on a daily basis.¬† The news media abandons such stories within hours or days in favour of sports figure scandals and healthcare reform issues.¬† And in the case of Ike, there was this crazy election thing going on which, perhaps rightfully, took center stage.¬†¬†Unfortunately, once out of the limelight, Ike¬†was mostly gone forever from news reports.¬† But, the effects of that storm on so many people, continue to hold the spotlight of their thoughts and their daily lives.¬† Homes that are still not inhabitable.¬†¬†Federal aid money still unpaid.¬† Businesses still in ruin.¬† Trees that will never again bloom or be green. These things are worth the rest of us remembering.


Our Lady of Sorrow Thursday, Dec 11 2008 

8 December 2008
A leisurely start to the day as we broke fast and bade goodbye to loved ones turned into an adventure hunt as Stephen & Marita Beth chased down clues. We drove or strode through 4 different graveyards (3 of them connected by a single drive, but technically different graveyards) in separate & distant parts of Galveston Island.
I’m not beholden to the concept of burial, preferring for myself the finality of cremation; however, I fully respect the sanctity of the decision and the necessity for the family to have a gathering place. I do, however, marvel at the intricate works that are erected in honour of the deceased and hold in my heart a special fondness for ancient cemeteries such as these on Galveston. This lovely statue was unravaged by Ike and stands silent sentinel over her ward in the first graveyard we visited:
Our Lady of Sorrow. I took many other photos, but unlike these stone sentries, I am not immune to the irritation of the mosquito and retired to the vehicle rather quickly abandoning the photo safari I had, briefly, undertaken.
After our tour of graveyards we returned to the Strand to gawk at a structure (the Fadden building) that holds special interest for both Stephen & Marita Beth. We then took an unexpected, but glad-we-did-it detour to the end of the island. The devastation near the tip of Galveston was nigh on complete and depressing to view. It did, however, bring home just how lucky we are as a species that we have the knowledge to learn from an experience such as Hurricane Ike and rebuild lives where we may.
Departure for home was much delayed due to our travels, but we were content & happy in each others’ company, although a certain sadness always accompanies the Monday after Dickens.

~KR (Written on 11 December 2008 )

Listening to:
Vegas by Two Tons of Steel
from Vegas

Camera: Nikon D70
Exposure: 0.002 sec (1/500)
Aperture: f/5.6
Focal Length: 135 mm
Exposure Bias: 0 EV
ISO Speed: 200

Galvez Jetty Wednesday, Dec 10 2008 

5 December 2008
Friday of Dickens on the Strand. Most years we’re already on the island and preparing for the Gingerbread Ball. This year, however, with the destruction that Ike brought with him, the ball didn’t happen so we went down a day later.
Also this year, we stayed at the Galvez rather than the Tremont which is still closed. Not as convenient as the Tremont is the Galvez, but just as lovely in different ways. I especially loved the view over the Gulf of Mexico we had from our room
View From Our Room 2

~KR (Writtenon 9 December 2008 )

Listening to:
Maybe Someday by Cure
from Join the Dots: B-Sides & Rarities, 1978-2001

Camera: Nikon D70
Exposure: 0.008 sec (1/125)
Aperture: f/5.6
Focal Length: 145 mm
Exposure Bias: 0/6 EV
Flash: Flash did not fire
ISO Speed: 800

Nothing Was Sacred to Ike Tuesday, Dec 9 2008 

Nothing Sacred to Ike

8 December 2008

We are home safe and sound, now, from a wonderful weekend in Galveston.¬† After breakfasting and saying our goodbyes, packing up our stuff, checking out and moving out of the hotel room, Kyle and Stephen and I went adventuring.¬† We wanted to go back downtown and look at a couple of old buildings, so we did.¬† And we followed a hunch to first the Old City Cemetary, and then to Calvary Cemetary.¬† At Calvary Cemetary, between 61st and 65th Streets, we were surprised at just how much damage there had been—most of it, presumably, from Hurricane Ike.¬† Toppled and broken stones lay everywhere, including the cemetary’s own beautiful Stations of the Cross statuary.¬† This broken tombstone above, really caught my eye and my heart, and so I turned over the broken off piece so that it now lays with the departed’s name facing the sky.¬† I thought the weeping, mourning angel was heartbreakingly poignant and seemed to transcend the generations between the year of it’s original placement, and the now.

We grabbed some lunch at a Sonic on the Seawall, and took a drive down the south end of the island and back.  We ended up leaving the island much later than intended, and got stuck in some nasty Houston area traffic, but other than that, it was a great day.


Three Handsome Gentlemen Tuesday, Dec 9 2008 

DOTS 08 - Three Handsome Gentlemen

7 December 2008

Sunday gave us another beautiful weather day in¬†Galveston.¬† The only thing that could really have made my day better, was if the streets were paved in playground rubber!¬† I really wish I could find a pair of period-looking shoes that would be comfortable for two long days on concrete . . . but I don’t think they exist!¬†

We had a nice breakfast at the hotel, with an excellent server—our first good experience in that restaurant.¬† ‘Bout time, I guess.¬† Kyle and I got to the downtown zone just in time to get a phone call from our friend BJ telling us she was on the island, too!¬† Her company was a wonderful surprise, and we have to remember to make sure she joins us again next year.¬†

We did a lot of sitting still today; I’m not the only one who’s feet hurt! ūüôā¬† While we were occupying one particular curb, we managed to pass off a couple of our cameras to a trustworthy passerby, and get this photo.¬†¬†¬† He also promised to email us the photo he took, so we’ll see . . . I’m very pleased with the photo I chose for the KRuMB today.¬† Kyle and Rod and George all three looked marvelous (despite the fact that Rod was really pretty sick all weekend) and they stood in one place all together for long enough for me to remember I had my camera!¬†

Our day ended a little earlier today—we really were tired and sore¬† . . . but we were happy.¬† Back to the hotel and a quick change of clothes, and out to dinner at Willie G’s!¬† Yep!¬† They re-opened on Friday, completely remodeled and re-menued and re-staffed.¬† The place is modern-looking now, and even though I preferred the old world feel from before Ike, the new look is lovely.¬† And, it’s symbolic of the changes that Galveston has to face in it’s post-Ike existence.¬† It’s a new world.

Our weekend draws to a close.  Sunday night means packing to go home.  <sigh>


Mickey and another Galveston Update Wednesday, Nov 19 2008 

Mickey on the Bed

18 November 2008

Happy Birthday, Mickey Mouse!

Mickey turns 80 today!¬†¬†¬† I think that’s incredible, and it inspired me to shoot a colourful photo of the bed in our guest room—the room some of our guests have dubbed, “The Mouse Suite.”¬† Is it just me, or is this birthday being very overlooked?¬† I guess perhaps the powers that be at Disney, are saving their efforts for the big blowout that will happen in 2028!

On another subject entirely, here’s the latest article regarding Dickens on the Strand—scaled back, but still ON!

I sent a message out to the Yesteryear Enthusiasts Society group last night with some other update information.  Sparked by an email from Larry who was confused to have received a refund for his Galveston Historical Foundation Dickens Ball tickets, and needing to talk to her, anyway, I called the GHF offices and spoke with Molly late yesterday afternoon.

It seems that there were not enough advance ticket sales for the foundation to justify the expense of the event.¬† Our group alone, represented nearly half of what was presold.¬† The Galveston Historical Foundation Dickens Ball is cancelled for 2008.¬† And, Molly indicated it would seem logical to anticipate a much more intimate¬†Dickens on the Strand, than we’ve seen in a very long time.¬†

To what can we attribute the presale of only 27 tickets to this event usually enjoyed by 150?¬† Are the usual Ball attendees Galvestonians who are too caught up in their own recovery efforts to be able to make time for Dickens?¬† Perhaps they’ve lost all their Victorian costuming in the flooding?¬† Are they too short on money?¬† Or,¬†were they simply assuming the event was cancelled, thus creating a self-fulfilling prophecy?

Kyle and I discussed it last night, and we are concerned that that does not bode well.¬† We are a bit fearful that the “average joe” who normally thinks about attending Dickens on the Strand, may not actually bother to find out that the event is on.¬† Certainly, I’ve tried to do my part to spread the word, and the Galveston Historical Foundation website has been very clear from the earliest point possible that the event is happening.¬† And, there have been a few mentions of it in the local news, there.¬† But, if people don’t pay attention, the assumption could be made that Galveston isn’t ready, and that the event can’t happen.¬†

What those people are forgetting is that Galveston can’t afford for the event NOT to happen!

Dickens on the Strand is the largest annual fundraiser for the GHF.¬† Its ticket sales, and vending proceeds help monetarily power all the important restoration efforts of the foundation.¬† Over the years since the festival started in the seventies,¬†the Historical Foundation, and a few special philanthropists have put Galveston Island back on the map of tourist spots and places to visit.¬†¬†Even in the decade and half that we’ve been attending the festival, we’ve seen amazing growth and renaissance efforts in the beautiful little downtown area.¬†¬†Antique stores, banks, museums, boutiques, condos, restaurants, and even a few tasty little national chain stores (like Chico’s!) had come in and turned the once forgotten downtown zone into a bustling little business center.¬† And, now, in the aftermath of Hurricane Ike, the hands of the clock have been turned back, and once again this charming Victorian era city is struggling to survive and needs help.

Hopefully, the Dickens on the Strand Festival will provide some of that help. 

Progress is slow, but it is happening.¬†¬†I got word yesterday¬†that a couple of downtown businesses have reopened, including the Emporium.¬† In our early years of doing Dickens that was always a favourite stop.¬† Kyle has purchased many a beer from that fine establishment.¬† I can remember befriending employees and being invited to walk into the huge room-sized refrigerator on hot Dickens days.¬† I’m glad they’re back, but so far, they are among the very few.¬†

Bravely, the GHF pushes forward with festival preparations, despite the obstacles nature has placed in its path.¬† This cancellation of the ball is only the latest disappointment.¬† The first difficult decision was to scale back the festival borders.¬† Usually two blocks wide and four blocks long, comprising a large, ladder-shaped¬†portion of downdown, this year’s event will take place entirely on The Strand itself.¬† Then, recently came the realization that the over 400 lanterns used in the annual Candlelight Parade could not be saved from the badly water-damaged warehouse, and so the sparkling parade and evening hours of the event would have to be pulled from the schedule.¬† And on a purely financial level, some things just aren’t possible.¬† For example, this year’s event will not include the usual “snow hill” that is such a crowd-pleaser in our southern land of non-white Christmases.¬† The financial cost was just more than the foundation could pay.

In fact, much of what is going on in Galveston right now, is really all about the money.¬† Our nation’s government has not yet come through with the millions of dollars needed to relieve Galveston after Hurricane Ike.¬† The GHF finally got to have a meeting with FEMA¬†this week.¬† I read where the Meadows Foundation of Dallas (big SMU money) has given $100,000, to the GHF restoration efforts, but¬†that’s only a drop in the bucket, and won’t go far.

Everyone who’s heard me speak or read my writings of the last couple of months is familiar with my mantra:¬† Galveston needs us.¬† The island needs us to visit.¬† The island needs us to attend Dickens on the Strand.¬† Galveston needs our love—but far more importantly, it needs our dollars.¬† I know the economic climate we live in doesn’t allow for us to be overly “spendy” or careless with our money.¬† But, if ever there was a worthwhile cause for a little frivolity, this is it.¬† Go to Galveston.¬† Pay for parking.¬† Buy tickets to gain entry to Dickens on the Strand.¬† Buy food and drinks and¬†souvenirs from the vendors, there.¬† Do your holiday shopping there.¬† Fill up your gas tank on the island.¬† Have dinner in one of the many restaurants on the seawall.¬† Stay at the Galvez.¬† Treat yourself to¬†a fun weekend and the satisfaction that you’re helping.¬†

Kyle and¬†I will be¬†proudly promenading The Strand on¬†the 6th and 7th of December.¬† We’ll be proudly carrying our new Galveston Historical Foundation membership cards.¬† We’ll be with a group of at least a dozen or two of our dearest friends.¬† It is my sincerest hope that¬†thousands of other folks have similar plans!


New Camera Experiments Continue Saturday, Nov 15 2008 

Trying the Night Setting on the New Camera

13 November 2008

Here’s another link to a Galveston Recovery/Hurricane Ike story:

The news is still bleak from that crazy little island.¬† It becomes increasingly evident that the island will never be the same—so many businesses that will never be back, others that need six to twelve months to even think about re-opening.¬† It does start to make¬†one wonder just what flavour of¬†insanity gripped those who in the nineteenth century decided that building a city on a small barrier island was a good idea.

On the subject of Galveston, recently I very much enjoyed reading the featured article in the Fort Worth Weekly, entitled A Tale of Two Storms by Tom Curtis.¬† It was the cover story and Kyle spotted it and brought it home for me, knowing I’d devour it, as I do nearly everything dealing with Galveston and her history.¬† This article actually reminded me of some of the points I’ve written about: questionable media coverage, evacuation weariness, and he clearly outlines Ike’s assault and explains why the damage was so great.¬† It’s well worth the read,¬†so for sharing purposes, I found it online, here:¬†

Today’s photo is pathetic, but it’s what I’ve got.¬† I am definitely at the bottom of a very big learning curve.¬†

We grabbed a quick dinner at Chili’s where a delightful¬†young waitress by the name of Kayla saved us from¬†our own crankiness over the unruly behaviour of all the children in the bar!¬† Yes—in the bar.¬† <shrug>¬†She said all the right things and offered all the right sympathy/empathy.¬† If you visit the new Chili’s at Little Road and 287, ask for Kayla—she rocks.¬† I’m pretty sure she isn’t old enough to drink the margaritas she brings us, but she’s savvy beyond her years.¬† Anyway, our meal was tasty and the annoying people all left before we did!¬†


Galveston Historical Foundation Plea Friday, Oct 31 2008 

Galveston Historical Foundation Plea

28 October 2008

After yesterday’s adventure, I found it to be rather poignant timing that this flyer arrived in my mailbox today.¬† The bottom of the page states that Dickens on the Strand will go on, and gives the dates.¬†

Whether it’s with a Foundation membership, a simple donation, or just the price of¬†an admission ticket to Dickens on the Strand—the island needs¬†our help.

I was wordy enough yesterday, to last us all a while, so that’s all you get, today. ūüėČ


Galveston: A New Face After Ike Friday, Oct 31 2008 

A New Face After Ike

27 October 2008

Galveston Pilgrimage

What had begun as a germ of an idea on Friday night, had become a reality by Monday morning.  I had to go to Galveston. 

It wasn’t terribly responsible—I should have headed home and started in on this week’s sewing.¬† It wasn’t really going to be fun—it’s hard to think “fun” when surrounded by damage and destruction.¬† And, it certainly wasn’t profitable financially—an extra tank of gas, a “spendy” luncheon, and a lost day of work.¬† But it was food for my soul.¬† As difficult as it is to explain, I needed to go to Galveston.¬† And this was going to be my one chance between now and December.¬† Not necessarily wanting to go it alone,¬†I suggested the adventure to Ginger and to Kelly (who had work responsibilities she simply could not shirk—good girl, Kelly) and learned that Laura had expressed exactly the desire to go to the shore, and see the Gulf of Mexico!¬† Laura is a native Canadian, and she and her husband Paul and son Ben currently live in Wisconsin.¬†¬†¬†She’s visiting Ginger this month and working for Faire Pair, and this was just the sort of thing she’d been hoping to do.¬† So, a little bit of logistic planning the night before, and off we went!

It was just about noon as we rounded the southwest corner of Beltway 8, and started to¬†notice various¬†signs of Hurricane Ike’s destruction.¬† The closer we got to the island, the more blue tarps we saw.¬† I was glad for Laura’s presence, because pointing out landmarks gave both Ginger and I something to focus on that wasn’t sad and negative.¬† It was as we approached the causeway that we saw our first boat alongside the road.¬† Then there was Tiki Island—looking a lot more empty of houses on stilts than I remembered it.¬† On the causeway itself, we were surprised to still see dozens of wrecked boats of all shapes and sizes.¬† We’d seen photos of that scene, but after six weeks I guess I thought they’d be gone.¬† But then, time moves slowly in the wake of a natural disaster.

Once on Galveston Island, it was impossible to turn our heads without seeing more damage.¬† All along the main road (I-45 becomes Broadway) we saw ruined buildings and piles of debris.¬† And brown.¬† Everywhere was brown.¬† I’d read where the island was struggling to save the 600-plus Live Oak trees that line Broadway.¬† But, I hadn’t stopped to think how brown everything would look.¬† Trees, shrubs, ground cover, flowers—all poisoned by the salt water, and dormant if not dead.¬† And the tall, proud palm trees were so horribly battered from the wind and water-tossed debris, that some looked like they’d been attacked by chainsaw.¬†

We had decided our first destination on the island would be the 1861 Custom House—the home of the Galveston Historical Foundation offices.¬† So, we followed Ginger’s GPS (hers works great!), made a couple of turns off of Broadway and found ourselves looking at Rudy and Paco’s.¬† Contrary to a¬†news article I recently shared here on The Daily KRuMB, the building is still standing, and shows signs of continued renovation and recovery.¬† That was good news.

We found the Custom House, poked around a little, and climbed the stairs to the GHF offices.  I was hoping to meet Molly, my primary contact at the GHF, but she was at lunch and we chatted briefly with Judy, instead.  From there, we drove the short distance to Mechanic Street and parked right across from the Tremont House Hotel.  Seeing that was very near the top of our list for the day.  First we peered in the windows to our Gingerbread Ballroom.  Wow.  Then, around the corner, peering into each dirty window at naked studs and little else.  At the front doors of the Tremont, the extent of this recovery project became really evident.  Virtually all the walls have been removed.  The grand entryway is nearly unrecognizable.  A huge amount of work has already been done, but the project ahead is mammoth.  We actually learned that the current plan is to rearrange the whole floor plan, including moving the kitchen and restaurant to the opposite end of the lobby.  No wonder they need until after the first of the year to get it all done!

Having begun our tour of downtown at the Tremont, we were somewhat numbed to the rest of what we were going to see.¬† Across the street, the big ballroom lobby, The Strand Theatre, Fitzpatricks Pub, and the site of the late Midsummer Books—all stripped to studs and concrete slabs.¬† We soon realized that the spaces with brick or stone or concrete walls had a considerable advantage over anyplace that had had drywall walls.¬† But, at least the damaged walls all seem to be gone, now.¬† I’m sure that it must have been a very high priority of early recovery efforts to remove anything that would promote mold and mildew.

We walked¬†down Mechanic Street, visiting the Galveston News Building¬†to which I am so fondly attached.¬† On the way, we passed the building in my photo of the day—sporting a brand new coat of paint!¬† I was amazingly cheered by that simple green wall!¬† It was almost as if this building’s owner was thumbing his nose at Ike and saying, “Think you can bully the green off this island, do you? Ha!”¬† We walked over to the Strand and snooped around a bit, taking photos of high water marks and showing Laura specific sights. Amazed at how much time we so easily killed walking around and taking pictures, we finally had to give in to our hungry bellies, so we got back in the truck, and I pointed it toward the Hotel Galvez.

As I drove us down Seawall Boulevard, we were pleased to see a number of open restaurants and a fair amount of traffic.¬† We pulled into the Galvez, and in trying to decide where to park, were told that they weren’t busy, so we could just leave it there in the driveway with the valet.¬† They’d move it if necessary.¬† Lunch at Bernardo’s was very nice—the restaurant was technically closed (we got there just after two), but they obligingly served us anyway.¬† We had delicious burgers and sweet potato fries, and a delightful visit with the hotel’s concierge, Janet, who we instantly adored.¬† She was able to answer our questions about the island, and arranged for us to view rooms.¬† And, as icing on her cheerful cake, she engineered a meeting and introduced us to Mr. George Mitchell—the owner of Mitchell Properties, and much of historic Galveston, including the Tremont and the Galvez.¬† We were honoured and¬†indeed rather charmed by Mr. Mitchell.¬† He was jovial, and seemed genuinely delighted to meet us and was very chatty about all the work being done to make Galveston whole again.¬† I was pleased to get to shake his hand and tell him how admired he is, and how much we appreciate all he does for Galveston.¬† It was pretty special.

We peeked at guest rooms and large meeting rooms (always thinking about future events!) and decided that the Hotel Galvez would be a fun change from our usual accommodations for Dickens.¬† Finished there, we drove on down the Seawall, and found the Memorial to the Great Storm of 1900.¬† And Laura found stairs down to the beach!¬† Ginger and I took photos and Laura put her toes in the Gulf of Mexico!¬† We were all happy!¬† By the time we were done there, the sun was low in the sky and we figured we’d missed the worst of the Houston traffic.¬† There hadn’t been time to tour the Elissa or Bishop’s Palace—things I had thought we might do—but it was a good, full day.¬† It was sad, but inspiring.¬† All around us was both destruction and hope.¬† I was content enough to leave, knowing, of course, it will only get better.¬† Even the green will grow back.

It was the longest drive home, ever.¬† I first took Ginger and Laura back to where we’d left Ginger’s truck, and that was a bit of an adventure in itself.¬† Then, food on the way to the highway and north.¬† But, the emotions of the day, and the shortage of sleep the night before conspired to make me too tired to finish the drive without a nap.¬† I slept for nearly three hours in a gas station parking lot in Centerville, and finally got home around three a.m.¬† One tired, but fulfilled, pilgrim.


“I cannot live without books.” —Thomas Jefferson Thursday, Oct 23 2008 

"I cannot live without books." --Thomas Jefferson

22 October 2008

Inspired in the wee hours of the morning, to snap a¬†picture of part of one wall of our “library,”¬† I’m afraid it’s not a great photo.¬† Those who have visited our home, know that we subscribe to the theory put forth by Roman philosopher Cicero, that “a room without books, is like a body without a soul.”¬† This room, and every other room in our house, certainly has a lot of “soul.”¬† Books fill every shelf, and the knickknacks that sit in front of the books do their own part to tell the story of who we are, as well.

With Galveston ever on my mind, I shudder to think at what it would be like to lose all one’s belongings to a horrific flood.¬† The businesswoman in me, thinks, my goodness . . . the fabric!¬† The book and antique and art collector in me simply weeps.

This one below, is not my photo, but here is an odd view of familiar places and things:

I expect those chairs will have new cushions the next time we see them—assuming they are salvageable.

Sometimes “knowing” a thing, and “seeing” a thing are two totally different realities.¬† We “know” things are bad in Galveston.¬† We “know” there was nine feet of water on the Strand for most of three days.¬† We “know” there is still no power there, no phones, few enough signs of life that it’s been labeled a ghost town.¬† But, it’s actually rather incomprehensible, don’t¬†you think?¬†

As the old saying goes, “A picture is worth a thousand words.”

Can we all please stop and observe a moment of silence for one of our favourite little antique stores?

Can a small, independent business actually recover from this?  Some will.  Many will not.

I also found a very disturbing photo of a huge pile of hopelessly damaged books.¬†A pile bigger than a car.¬† I’m not pasting in the link.¬† ¬†I thought about sharing it, but the carnage is too shocking and too horrible.¬† In fact, more than all the damaged buildings, and salt-deadened trees, and empty piers, this photo made me cry.¬† It’s a guess, but I’d imagine based on it’s presence in¬†the¬†photographer’s¬†Flickr stream between pictures of the Tremont and the Strand Theatre, that it might be the pile of debris from Midsummer Books—the little bookstore across from the Tremont.¬† Following that hunch, I located this fellow WordPress blogger’s entry:

I am so sad.


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