The Hard Goodbye.

Happy National Dog Mom Day to all of you dog moms out there!

Now seems as good of a day as any to jump back in to blogging, as I should have already updated you on what’s happening in my dog life. Truth be told, I have been dreading writing about it. Mainly because I’m terrified I’m not going to do it the justice it deserves. If you follow me on all the regular social media outlets, you might have known that in the last 14 months, I said hello to a rescue whom we named Luna and had to say goodbye to my darling princess pupcicle, Addy, which was one of the worst days of my life. I think I handled it fairly well. And by fairly well, I mean, I laid in bed or on the couch hugging Beanie (Ann’s dog, who pretended to hate Addy but I think ended up missing her more than all of us). I certainly handled it much better than I thought I would: which was to drink heavily and completely fall apart. There was a bit of falling apart, but mostly compartmentalizing based on the rationale that I was doing what was best for her.

I 100% stand by that rationale. Addy was approaching 13 years old, which for a Labrador was well beyond the 10 year life expectancy. She was walking slower, never went upstairs, and spent most of her days sleeping. She was on several medications for arthritis and pain and it was becoming clear they were no longer working as well as they should.

But when I looked in her eyes, there was—as always—love and happiness. And so I told myself that it wasn’t time to say goodbye—although I made both Ann and the vet promise that if they thought it was time, they would let me know and even harassed April on her last visit about her thoughts. Probably not fair to put that on any of them (other than the vet), but sometimes you need to hear it from someone you love that it’s okay to say that it’s time.

Enter Luna. On a cold and snowy March morning, I’m downstairs enjoying my coffee in the quiet still of the morning when I hear Ann yell from upstairs “Uh, Sherry, COME HERE!” My first thought: oh shit what did Toulouse (aka The Evil Kitty) do? And from the moment of standing up and setting my coffee on the table to walking up the stairs, I envisioned numerous scenarios of things Toulouse destroyed or puked on or god only knows what else.

But no, Ann was looking out the window into our backyard and pointing at one of the dilapidated sheds. “What is that? Is that a dog? I think it’s a dog.” I squint towards the shed and all I can see is a fluffy, dingy head popping up and down and up and down and up and down. Ann asked “Is that Rocky?” (the dog from down the street) and immediately we hoofed it down the stairs and ran out to the shed. We peeked in one of the windows and breathed a sigh of relief. It was not Rocky. But it was below freezing and this fluffy bucket was a mangled mess, freezing, and probably starving and thirsty. The only problem was the door was iced shut and the windows too tall to climb into. We knew we absolutely had to get her out. We had no clue how to do it.

After about 30 minutes of prying on the door, we finally managed to open it enough for me to squeeze through. At first, Luna shied away from me but saw the towel in my hand and I think her survival skills overrode her fear and she jumped into my arms. I say “she” but that was only a guess and being used to having girl dogs. Her hair was so matted that we couldn’t tell what gender she was just by looking.

We took her in to the vet, who was visibly angry at the state in which we found her. He said said she looked healthy, but he honestly couldn’t do a proper exam unless they shaved her. I agreed and several hours later, he called back to say it took two people over 2 hours to get her shaved and she was severely emaciated, but thankfully did not show any signs of long term damage because of this. She lost two pounds of hair and was down to a very tiny eight pounds (a far cry from the 80 pound Labrador waiting at home!). However, the most concerning thing he found was that the limp Luna had when we found her was not because of the massive mats under her paws but rather because every single bone in her paw had been broken. EVERY SINGLE BONE.

Even worse than that? Her bones had already started to heal crookedly, so that her paw was at a right angle to her leg. She needed a cast to give her a better chance of it healing somewhat straight, however, to get a cast on required rebreaking all the bones and straightening them back into place. Poor baby girl. We scheduled the surgery for the following day and brought her home, wrapped in a blankie that she still loves to lay on.

As I mentioned earlier, Addy was no longer going up the stairs, but I didn’t want her to feel left out with this new puppy in the house, so Luna and I slept downstairs with her for the first couple of weeks. Slowly Luna got healthier, started gaining weight, and trusting us. Not-so-slowly Addy’s decline seem to be in a free fall and between the two of them, we were at or on the phone with the vet sometimes up to three times a week.

And then it happened. I gave Addy a treat and she choked on it. After I cleared her throat, I looked at her. Really looked at her and I knew. I knew it was time. I could see it in her eyes. She was tired, she was in pain, and I knew at that moment I had to let her go. A life without treats for Addy was not a life at all. I didn’t know how, but I knew that it was time to say goodbye.

I made the appointment, but her vet wouldn’t be back in the office for a couple of days. I took this opportunity to spoil the shit out her every waking moment and gave her all the human foods that she loved to eat: strawberries, cheese, bread, spaghetti, steak, cake, and one final bacon cheeseburger with fries. From the moment I made the decision and booked the appointment, I knew somewhere in my breaking heart that it was the right one. I worried that Addy would think I was replacing her with Luna, but in the car ride home from the vet while hugging Addy’s collar I realized that it was Luna who allowed Addy to be set free because Addy didn’t have to hide the pain anymore, pretending to be okay for my sake. Addy knew that she could go because now Luna was there and Addy wouldn’t be leaving me alone. My only hope is that Addy knew how much of a Labrador-sized hole she would leave in my heart when she laid her head in my lap for the very last time.

Memoirs of a Princess Pupcicle: Chocolate Lab

I would like to start this post out by acknowledging that chocolate is very bad for dogs.  I do not give my dog chocolate.  Nor do I condone any dog eating–or even licking–chocolate.

But, well, I have a Labrador.  And when it comes to food, Labradors are exceptionally crafty.  As I have mentioned before, ninjas could take lessons from Princess Adelaide Grace.

One year for Christmas, a friend was so very kind to send me a kilo of dark chocolate from Haigh’s Chocolates in Adelaide (hahaha, Adelaide.  Not that I’m laughing at the city itself, just the irony of the chocolate coming from a place with the same name as the princess).  My friend didn’t tell me what she sent in her magical package, which arrived one day in early December.  It was filled with a Christmas card, a letter, and a few small wrapped gifts.  The card just said “Happy Christmas!” and the accompanying letter told of a year filled with adventure and fun.

Nowhere was there any mention that I should keep the largest/heaviest of the wrapped gifts far, far away from the princess’s reach.  It was all nicely wrapped and so I put it under the tree.  For nearly two weeks, Adelaide (the dog, not the city) seemed uninterested in any of the packages from Adelaide (the city, not the dog).  Since Adelaide (the dog, although perhaps also the city) cannot contain her excitement when she smells food, I presumed that nothing in the packages was edible.  Therefore, I did not believe any packages from Adelaide (the city, not the dog) would be tempting to Adelaide (the dog, not the city).

HAHAHAHAHA. Wow! I was spectacularly wrong!

One day while I was leaving work, Ann sends the following text:

what’s Haigh’s?

To which, I responded:

An amazing chocolatier in Australia.

The reply back with a picture:

would it have been wrapped in Christmas paper?

I responded:

uh…maybe…why?

Of course, I was on the subway and since phone service was sketchy, I couldn’t call Ann.  What I did manage to do was text my friend in Adelaide, who confirmed that the AWOL package was, in fact, a full kilo of dark chocolate, not just a small bar of chocolate.  I relayed that information to Ann.  The second I came above ground, I called and received the following diatribe:

YEP! YOUR FUCKING DOG ATE THE FUCKING CHOCOLATE.  ALL OF IT.  EVERY LAST MORSEL! GONE!  IT’S ALL OVER HER FACE AND SHE’S JUST LYING ON YOUR BED BASKING IN THE GLORY OF EATING ALL THE FUCKING CHOCOLATE!  AND NOW I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO!  SHOULD I TAKE HER TO THE VET?  SHE SEEMS FINE BUT SHE COULD DIE!  I CAN’T BELIEVE SHE ATE ALL THE CHOCOLATE!  I MEAN, YES I CAN, BUT WHY?!?!?!  IT COULD KILL HER!  DOES SHE KNOW THIS?  OF COURSE SHE FUCKING DOES, BUT SHE OBVIOUSLY DOESN’T CARE BECAUSE SHE ATE ALL THE GODDAMN CHOCOLATE!

After several minutes of panicked back and forth about the antics of my newly minted Chocolate Lab, I hung up and immediately called the vet.  After explaining Addy’s dalliance to the vet tech who answered the phone, I was put on a brief hold and the vet himself came on the line.  After repeating the story to him, he asked a couple of questions about how Addy was doing.  I replied no vomiting, no diarrhea, no sluggish behavior, and that according to my roommate, she is happy as a clam and proudly flaunting the remnants of her feast.

To which the vet responded:

well wouldn’t you be happy as a clam if you just ate a kilo of dark chocolate?!?

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Touché!

Thankfully the worst thing to come out of this was that a) I was deprived of some delectable chocolate (the real tragedy of this story!) and b) now the pupcicle thinks she is immune to the evil effects of chocolate to dogs and is constantly trying to sneak a taste when I’m not looking.

sigh… #lifewithlabs

Memoirs of a Princess Pupcicle: Teenage Girls

Being a Big Dog in a Big City, Addy gets a wide variety of reactions when we are out and about.  It’s usually fear.  Mostly people try to disguise it, usually pretending there is a reason to suddenly cross the street. However, sometimes, it’s blatantly obvious.

Addy is definitely a people person–uh, pupcicle.  She loves everyone…except teenage girls.  Why?  Because when they see her, they like to let out ear shattering squeals.  70% of the time it’s out of fear.  30% of the time, it’s out of excitement.  100% of the time, it hurts my ears–so I can only imagine how painful it is for her.

And any time we are ambushed by a gaggle of teenage girls, poor baby girl tries to hide behind my legs for protection…which is about as effective as a giraffe trying to hide behind a zebra.

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Memoirs of a Princess Pupcicle: The Enforcer

I’ve inherited a cat.  He, being Toulouse, spent the first year or so of his life with us–so he is not unknown to Addy.  He is, in fact, her kitty.

When Toulouse first moved in, he was small enough to fit in your hand–and naturally thought he could easily take on a 90lb dog.  Toulouse would follow Addy around the house and wait patiently for the perfect moment to strike.  His favorite spot was behind a pile of books at the top of the stairs: a well thought-out ambush spot for the Princess as she came up the stairs.   The problem, of course, being that she tended to be slightly oblivious of this ball of fur and could easily knock him down the stairs with her big ol’ labrador tail.  I’m quite sure she did a time or two.

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Baby Toulouse waiting to ambush Addy

A couple of years have passed, but Addy, of course, still thinks of him as her kitty.  Toulouse–for some reason unbeknownst to me–will even allow her to occasionally bathe him (although he always looks mortified while she’s licking him).  Since Toulouse has moved back in, I’ve seen a lot of pouty Addy faces that some of her affection might be given to Toulouse, however, she always has my back when I’m fussing at him to stop clawing the furniture or to get off the countertop.  Addy is more than happy to chase after him, barking reminders at him Get off the counter!  Stop clawing!  Don’t make Momma yell! Come back you need a bath!

Yelling in both human and barking–double whammy!  Poor Toulouse.  Meanwhile, Addy smiles at me I got this, Momma, I got this.

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Best seat in the house: a sunny window and far out of reach of a certain cold, wet nose…

Memoirs of a Princess Pupcicle

Confession time:  remember earlier in the week when I told you that as I started sharing some of my series from ShezzaSpeak, I would start with my one of my favorites, Chalkboard Art?  Well, that was a lie.  And anyone who actually knows me knows that it was a blatant lie. This is because more than food or wine or beer or coffee or humor or travel, my most favoritest thing is my darling beloved pupcicle, Princess Adelaide Grace, about whom I’ve already shared a couple of stories (which you can read here and here!). So I guess technically hers was the first (rightly so!) series from ShezzaSpeak that I brought over.

Today, I thought I might share exactly how this series came to be with my very first Memoirs story.  With the exception of a couple of grammatical changes, I’ve left the story as I originally wrote it, which was over 2 years ago.  So just for current day references, she’s now nearly 11 (she’d say 10.5!) and down to a svelte 83lbs!

Memoirs of a Princess Pupcicle

I’m sitting in bed with my laptop, silently urging writing ideas to come.

Suddenly I am aware of soft snoring from the end of the bed.  I look up and there is a cute 90lb ball of fur.  I can’t resist.  Slowly, ever…so…slowly I reach for my phone.  I quietly scroll the camera icon upward.

Don’t you dare take my picture.

Sigh.  Why not?  You’re so cute and I love you and I want a picture of you looking cute.

You already have 8390 of them and you’re supposed to be writing, not procrastinating.

I don’t have 8390 of them and I’m not procrastinating, I’m searching for inspiration.

You could write about me.  8390 articles would be far better than 8390 out-of-focus photographs.

I could write about you, however, you don’t like to have your picture taken.  In order for a post to be successful, you need at least a picture or two.  At last count, I believe you didn’t like having your picture taken.  In fact, I believe that you hate it.

I think you’re making that up about pictures and posts.  But I’ll make you a deal: if you write my memoirs, I suppose I could make an exception.

Your memoirs?  Really?  That’s a big word.

Yeah, well, I’m a big dog and I’m 8 now–don’t think I don’t know that you give me senior food and senior vitamins.  If you tell my story, I’ll let you take a picture of me.

A picture?  As in just one?

Well first let’s see how good your stories are.

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Cheese Thief

Did you know that labradors are never used as taste-test dogs?  That is because they will eat anything with the same amount of gusto:  good food, bad food, cookies, carrots, remote controls, whatever. Being true to the labrador lifestyle, Addy will eat just about anything (thankfully I curbed her non-food eating habits early on in life), but if it’s food–or anything vaguely resembling food (cough cough**Vaseline**cough cough)–Addy thinks it is fair game.

Being a svelte 83 pounds, Addy does not do sneaky or graceful well…unless food is involved.  When sneaking food is on the day’s agenda, my beloved pupcicle could teach ninjas a thing or two about stealth.

Picture it:  Ann (aka roommate) is working upstairs and has a nice plate of ham, cheese, and crackers for snacks.  She has one eye on her work and one eye on her plate because she knows not to leave the snack plate unattended lest Addy decide to help herself.  Ann’s biggest mistake, she admits later, was thinking that she would notice Addy trying to help herself to the snack plate.

Poor Ann did not know that for the entirety of her life, Addy has been perfecting the art of the walk-by-and-eat act.  This is where she will casually walk by a table and in one fluid sweeping motion licks up all the food within reach of her tongue.

And just like that–in plain view of Ann–Addy stole all her cheese.

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Adelaide Grace, Cheese Thief, strikes again!

 

Memoirs of a Princess: Bella’s Story

Just when you had given up hope that you’d ever hear from me again…

First, I’d like to dispel any rumors that I acquired a cow. Granted, it was suggested by my housemate on FB that perhaps we should get one, but at this moment the closest thing we have is the Princess.

Oh you haven’t met the Princess? Well, let me introduce her. Unless of course, you know her in real life or if you follow ShezzaSpeak and have already been introduced–either way, IMHO the pictures are cute enough to scan through again 😉

Shezza Speak!

A certain princess is 9 today.

It’s hard to believe that time has flown so quickly.  It seems like it was just a few months ago when I brought the princess home from the doggie daycare center.  At the time, I had a catahoula named Stella.

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If you know anything about catahoulas, you’ll know that they need to RUN.  Since RUNNING really isn’t in my vocabulary and I was working crazy hours, I found a doggie daycare center to take Stella to 3 times a week.

On one particular day in February, I noticed a beautiful yellow Labrador puppy hanging out in the front room and didn’t think anything more about her until Stella’s next trip to DDC.  As I was picking her up that evening, the head vet tech causally mentioned Bella (the aforementioned lab puppy)  had been “living” at DDC.  Apparently her owner was living with his grandmother when he bought…

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Easy as ABC…

Now that you have The Jackson Five playing background music in your head, I have a confession.  You know those silly/annoying emails that circulate every couple of years in which you answer questions about yourself?  Yeah, I’m one of those annoying people who not only fills them out, but sends them to nearly everyone in my email address book.  I’m a details kinda girl and I love collecting tidbits of information about people.  Who knows what you might learn about your friend that you’ve had since the 2nd grade or some great blackmail information on the annoying coworker 4 desks down?

A couple of months ago I saw a getting to know you post in the format below.  It’s been a long time since I filled one out (probably because everyone on my email list has a secret pact with each other to NEVER EVER send me another!).  Aaaaand it is different than any other that I’ve seen, so I thought I’d give it a go!

How is it different?  Why, thank you for asking: rather than answer questions, you simply list (although WARNING: I never list–I always have to explain!) 26 interesting things about you, each item starting with a letter in the alphabet.  While I’m horrible at explaining, I know that you’re brilliant and by the time you get to “A,” you’ll have it figured out!

One last thing before I begin: individuals did not make this list.  So if you are just reading this in search of your name stop right now and go back to work, uh, I meant lunch.  Don’t pout–invariably I’d leave someone out and then I have to endure years of guilt trips.  Ain’t nobody got time for that!  And honestly, how am I supposed to pick between Bubba and beer?  Although, actually that’s rather easy because I’m 250% sure that Bubba (aka my brother) would agree it should be beer.

Now, back to the task at hand.

The ABCs of Shez:

A is for Addy, my darling pupcicle (you know, in case you weren’t aware that I had a darling pupcicle whom I adore!)…and before you call me out on it, yes, I broke the “No Individuals” rule, but it’s the ONLY time I promise.

B is for Beer…mmmmmm….beer (I hope you heard that in a Homer Simpson voice!).  I don’t think that needs further explanation.  Plus you should have seen it coming.

C is for coffee.  Again, no further explanation is needed, especially those who have had the “pleasure” of seeing me in the morning before coffee–it ain’t purty!

D is for dogs.  Pupcicles are special because they bring so much love and joy into our lives–in so many ways.  Of course, it ain’t all sunshine and roses, particularly when you live in NYC and have to pick up poop for a very large dog.  But they make our lives whole with their amusing antics and unconditional love.  PS–if you’re wondering how much I love dogs, I picked them over dessert!  If that’s not love, I don’t know what is!

E is for Eso se que es, which literally translated is confusing so I like to go with the loose translation of “it is what it is” and whenever I say it, people look at me like “did you just say socks in the middle of my rant?”  No, but yes.  Anyway, it is a reminder that life is bigger than all of us and that any time you think everything is perfectly mapped out, the Fates will take the opportunity to intervene so they can laugh at you.  Thus to keep sane, I like to remind myself of three things: eso se que es, que sera sera, and Lord give me coffee to help me change the things I can, and wine to help accept the things I can’t.

F is for FOOTBALL!

G is for Grace.  By that, I don’t mean elegance or beauty or charm.  Did I mention I was clumsy?  Well, I am.  I come by it honestly (right Auntie K??).  As such, my Ome would always call me Miss Grace (as in, I am anything but).  To this day whenever I hear the word grace, I think of my Ome.

H is for Hamburgers.  Preferably ones with cheese and bacon and avocado and served with onion rings….but any ol’ burger with cheese will do! 😉

I is for Ice cream.  And anyone who doesn’t think it should be on EVERYONE’S list is just wrong.

J is for Jigsaw puzzles.  I love to put them together–although I haven’t put one together in a long time.  Why?  Well, whenever I find one that I love and makes me want to set up a card table and put it together, I remember that I live in a house with Princess Adelaide Grace, who is so named because like me, she is anything BUT graceful…

K is for Kaas (Dutch for cheese).  I couldn’t leave cheese off the list, thankfully the Dutch helped me out a bit.  And before you accuse me of using Google Translate to find a language where cheese started with a different letter than C, I will have you know that I was a Rotary Exchange Student to The Netherlands.  How does this relate to cheese?  I used to live about 6 miles from Gouda and would go on Thursdays to the cheese market…because…how can you go wrong with a cheese market???

L is for Laughter, because it truly is the best medicine–unless you have TB or malaria or something like that, then I would highly recommend medication.

M is for Molasses cookies, my favoritest cookies in the world!

N is for Nelson, as in Willie (and Waylon and the boys).

O is for Oven–I love baking and roasting and I can go without a lot of things, but an oven ain’t one of them!

P is for Peckish.  For most people, it means slight hungry.  But I’m never slightly hungry, so when you hear me say peckish know that it means “I’m so hungry I could eat a horse and chase the rider, but I don’t want you to think me gluttonous, so I’m going to just pretend that I’m kinda hungry and then either eat all of the snacks you foolishly set out or go back for seconds and thirds when we do eat.”

Q is for quixotic, which is just fun to say…quixotic, quixotic, quixotic!

R is for reading and don’t ask me to pick a favorite book.  I’m still trying to narrow my list down to 10 so I can post it on FB (and we’ll just pretend I wasn’t tagged to do it a month ago…sorry Becca!)

S is for Shiner…and failing that, Stella (and don’t tell me it’s cheating because I’ve already listed beer…it’s MY list!)

T is for Tolkien.  You thought it would be TEXAS! didn’t you?  I just wanted to share a line in a poem in Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, which completely sums up my life:  All those who wander are not lost.  I do hope, though, that you appreciate that I was still able to work TEXAS! into the T slot 😉

U is for umbrellas.  I totally have Mary Poppins to thank for my love of umbrellas.  Ironically, I hate using them in NYC.  People here are oblivious when using them and tend to poke other people in the head, repeatedly until I feel an urge to grab the umbrella out of their hands and give them a good smack with it.  I refrain, of course, but I know that I’m one huge rainstorm away from needing bail money.

V is for vino.  What?  It’s a word.  It is in my house….and that’s all that matters.

W is for wanderlust.  The reason wine is called vino in this list.  Traveling is truly my passion.  Even more so than eating and drinking.  Luckily, I consider imbibing in the local food and drink an integral part of traveling!  I was bit by the wanderlust bug when I went to The Netherlands (see K is for Kaas) right after high school–and I have no plans to stop any time soon and “I haven’t been everywhere yet, but it’s on my list.”

X is for Xi, which is one of my favorite words to play in Words with Friends.

Y is for Yoga, something I’ve recently started doing.  Who knew stretching and finding on your inner zen could be so draining?  Please don’t write in and tell me yoga is more than stretching and finding your inner zen.  I know it is, but when you’re watching others it looks so relaxing and graceful.  I’m here to tell you for me it is neither relaxing nor graceful, but I do enjoy blundering through class–even if I look like a bull in a china shop.

Z is for zazzy.  And yes, you have to say it like Sheldon.  And if you need further explanation, I’m not sure we can be friends anymore (if you’re worried about it, I can totally be bought with wine, beer, and cheese….but not crappy cheese–if you’re trying to bribe me, it had better be aaaaaaa-mazing cheese!).

And that’s me in a nutshell!

For the record, this was a lot more tedious than I thought it would be, so not as easy as the Jackson Five would have you believe!

Thanks for indulging me!

hey mom are you done with the stupid laptop yet?

hey momma are you done with the stupid laptop yet?

 

Holy Pumpkin Cannoli, Batman!

As I’m pulling out the butter and cream cheese to soften,  I realize I forgot to mention THE most important cookies of all: pupcicle cookies!

Whew! Glad I remembered…and by “remember,” I mean that Addy reminded me. I mean, how else am I going to get her to pose for cute holiday poses,  such as this one?

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Without cookies,  those poor antlers stay on approximately 3 seconds (although with the cookies, it’s only about 10 seconds,  so you have to have your camera in the ready position!).

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And so,  without further ado (unless,  of course, I’m forgetting something else,  but I don’t think I am), I give you the real holiday baking list!

Menu (note: recipes with links on in the post prior to this one!)
Apple Pumpkin Pupcicle cookies
Sausage Balls
Sour Cream Cookies
Molasses Cookies
Rice Crispie Trees
Everything Cookies
Chunky Kisses

Stay tuned in case I forgot something else. In the meantime, all the Christmas movies are queued up and ready to go. But perhaps a bit more coffee is needed before recipe reading is required!

Happy baking ya’ll!