Worth it.

Today was ruinously expensive. We rented a car, drove up to wine country a few dozen kilometers north of here, dropped in on one vineyard, bought a case of wine (which will be shipped), stopped for a priciest-so-far lunch, and for the coup de grace parked in the Arles municipal parking garage at NYC prices. I don’t want to think about what this is totaling, but then, this was the little village where we ate…

And this was the view from the table…

And this was dessert…

And so I’m thinking: Eh, worth it. We haven’t ripped the knob off on our spending this month, but shit’s expensive and sometimes lunch costs what it costs, and dessert looks like that, so.

The countryside was worth the cost of the car rental. Vineyards, needless to say, but also olive groves, medieval churches, twisted cedars and poplars (hey, Mr. Van Gogh!), farm fields that grow something other than corn / beans / wheat. The lady at the vineyard spoke British English and inquired about Michigan wines. When we left, she rinsed out the basin where we’d been pouring our tasting samples for the next customer, who looked at it quizzically. “That’s the spit bucket,” I explained, and she said that was a more descriptive term than something-something-in-French, which sounded very classy but was essentially the same thing. I have always believed you can tell everything about the French relationship with food by noting that potatoes are pommes de terre, i.e. apples of the earth.

The vineyard was way up in the hills, a real goat-path kind of road. The poor soil is good for the wine, she explained, because the vines put all their energy into the fruit, perhaps sensing they’re not long for this world. She used a lot of terminology I didn’t really understand – Alan has a better palate – but I’m not intimidated by any of that shit anymore. Does it taste good? Did you like it? Then drink.

Tomorrow we head for the Camargue. It’s supposed to be sunny. I’m hoping for some wild horses, flamingoes and cattle. I’ll settle for two out of three, and not too-too many mosquitoes.

BTW, pictures are going on posts now because we have much better internet here. Let’s hope it lasts.

Posted at 1:03 pm in Same ol' same ol' |

55 responses to “Worth it.”

  1. Suzanne said on October 5, 2021 at 2:30 pm

    Ever since I can remember, I have wanted to visit France and now I want to do so more than ever. These posts are making me pea green with envy.
    Absolutely beautiful. And that dessert!

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  2. LAMary said on October 5, 2021 at 3:22 pm

    My grandmother called potatoes apples of the earth but the word was aardappels.

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  3. Beobachter said on October 5, 2021 at 3:33 pm

    Depending on which Swiss German dialect, potato can be:



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  4. brian stouder said on October 5, 2021 at 3:40 pm

    Marvelous photos! Question: Didja have to drive on the “wrong side” of the road? (or maybe that’s only the UK?)

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  5. Dave said on October 5, 2021 at 4:21 pm

    That’s just the UK, isn’t it, and maybe former UK territories like Australia, driving on the left, that is.

    Basset from the last thread, I know how you feel, I feel the same way sometimes.

    I confess to being envious of our hostess’s adventures while we spend our days in drudgery (packing).

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  6. Deborah said on October 5, 2021 at 4:59 pm

    They drive on the same side of the road in France that we do in the US. The roads in the south of France are often windy and narrow and of course the scenery is fabulous. The farms look like parks.

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  7. ROGirl said on October 5, 2021 at 5:02 pm

    Some other French terms that stand out for me: breakfast is called “petit dejeuner” or little lunch. The word for eighty is quatre vingt, or four twenties, and ninety is quatre vingt dix, four twenties and ten.

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  8. Jeff Borden said on October 5, 2021 at 5:45 pm

    If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s to enjoy ourselves to the utmost when we can. Spend away! I think the next time we fly to Europe we may pay the king’s ransom for business class because what the fuck are we saving for? No kids. No dependents but ourselves. Will I gasp at the price and decide coach is fine? Maybe, but I hope not.

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  9. alex said on October 5, 2021 at 6:26 pm

    And in the Amish dialect it’s roadapfel.

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  10. LAMary said on October 5, 2021 at 7:15 pm

    They drive on the left in Japan, too. I’m not sure about places like Bermuda or the Bahamas but we all know it’s all on the right side in Montego Bay.

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  11. LAMary said on October 5, 2021 at 7:18 pm

    Beobachter, in Flemish it’s officially aardappel but colloquially it’s patat, which is coincidentally the derisive term the Dutch use for Belgians.

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  12. Scout said on October 5, 2021 at 7:33 pm

    alex, I always thought roadapfel were the droppings left in the wake of a horse and buggy. Maybe that’s a PA Amish thing.

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  13. basset said on October 5, 2021 at 7:40 pm

    We may actually go on one of those Irish gypsy wagon camping trips mentioned here a few days back.

    Nancy, I share your thoughts on wine – reminds me of Dave Barry’s comment that his approach to wine was “drink it and look around for more.” Enjoying an entirely satisfactory seven-dollar grocery store Cabernet Sauvignon right now.

    Total change of topic… looking around in some genealogical stuff this week and learned that one of my ancestors was born in 1810 in rural North Carolina, married in 1831, and his wife produced children in 1832 twice, 1835, 36, 37, 40, 44, 46, and twice in 48 before expiring in 1850. He outlived another wife, married a third when he was 68 and she was 30, and she had two more when he was 69 and 71.

    Every woman we’ve shared that story with has had pretty much the same reaction.

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  14. LAMary said on October 5, 2021 at 8:29 pm

    Scout I think Alex was pulling our legs.

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  15. LAMary said on October 5, 2021 at 10:09 pm

    I forgot that India drives on the left.

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  16. Dexter Friend said on October 6, 2021 at 3:08 am


    1887 Van Gogh hidden for centuries

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  17. Snarkworth said on October 6, 2021 at 8:48 am

    Actually, LAMary, India drives straight down the middle.

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  18. Heather said on October 6, 2021 at 10:22 am

    I agree with Jeff Borden. I say enjoy it and don’t worry too much about the money! You can always cut back this winter when we’re all stuck at home again, probably. Some of my best memories of travel are in small towns in France and Italy.

    I’m curious about the kind of wine that you bought.

    Even the word for garbage can in French is pretty–“la poubelle.”

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  19. LAMary said on October 6, 2021 at 10:29 am

    Snark, you’re right. This has been confirmed by someone I know who’s been there a few times. And basset, in CA and in slightly upstate NY Irish Gypsies are guys who go around giving resealing driveways or replacing roofs requesting payment in full in advance and either doing a terrible job or no job at all. There’s even an Law and Order episode about them.

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  20. basset said on October 6, 2021 at 11:24 am

    An old Catholic church here in Nashville has a big Irish Traveller connection:


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  21. Julie Robinson said on October 6, 2021 at 1:24 pm

    This post leaves me with only two words: le sigh.

    basset @13, that’s how most women lived before birth control. And remember, they also had to breastfeed and wash out the poopy diapers in addition to all their other hard work. It’s no wonder so many harmed themselves trying to be rid of yet another child.

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  22. Dorothy said on October 6, 2021 at 1:27 pm

    I can’t possibly be the only reader here who needs to know what the dessert was? Or am I just ill informed and can’t figure it out for myself? Looks like some kind of scrumptious cake and a scoop of maybe sorbet? All of this topped with a golden crown of slivers of caramel?

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  23. Suzanne said on October 6, 2021 at 1:35 pm

    Dorothy, I wonder as well. If it tasted as good as it looks, it’s a win for everyone!

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  24. Dorothy said on October 6, 2021 at 1:43 pm

    Okay I just found this recipe and I’m confident it’s going to be baked in my house this weekend:


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  25. nancy said on October 6, 2021 at 2:51 pm

    It was a vanilla-type rustic cake with a cream center, and a scoop of ice cream. Plus bells, plus whistles.

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  26. Suzanne said on October 6, 2021 at 3:07 pm

    Dorothy, I have made that cake and it is wonderful!

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  27. LAMary said on October 6, 2021 at 3:15 pm

    One of my great grandfathers remarried after his wife died. She had five kids. He married a 16 year old girl and had eight more kids. Most of her children were younger than the grandchildren he had with wife number one’s kids. I never saw that great grandfather but I have pretty good idea what he must have looked like. His daughter who was my grandmother passed her looks on to my father. Her half siblings looked a lot like her too. And I look like her. So the very prolific great grandfather had a large round head, was quite tall, and unlike his female descendants, went bald.

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  28. JMG said on October 6, 2021 at 3:17 pm

    Arles is wonderful, isn’t it? You’ll love the Camargue, too, although the flamingos can be frustratingly hard to find.

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  29. Jenine said on October 6, 2021 at 4:49 pm

    @basset: I learned that not one but two of Jane Austen’s brothers married women who gave them 11 children and then died. It gives me a different spin on the marriage plot of her novels and I hope she was able to enjoy at least some aspects of her spinsterhood.

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  30. Julie Robinson said on October 6, 2021 at 5:58 pm

    Didn’t something like 20% of women back then die in childbirth? That would be plenty to fear all on its own.

    Sad news from the Robinson clan; D lost another brother yesterday. He had cancer 10 years ago and fought treatment side effects but never really returned to full health. The last 18 months were brutal, in and out of hospitals and rehab, Covid, losing mobility, horrible pain. He was too young but he’s been released from his earthly bonds at last.

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  31. Dorothy said on October 6, 2021 at 6:37 pm

    I’m so sorry, Julie. Love and sympathy to your family.

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  32. basset said on October 6, 2021 at 7:27 pm

    We as well are so sorry to hear that, Julie.

    Twenty percent might be low, I don’t know… my paternal grandmother, who I never knew, told Mama Basset once that she had “birthed nine and raised seven.”

    Ezekial’s father, it turns out, had either fifteen or nineteen children with one wife, depending on which records you believe.

    Nancy, maybe you can find one of these to rent while you’re in that area: https://www.hemmings.com/stories/article/1975-86-rolls-royce-camargue

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  33. Deborah said on October 6, 2021 at 8:44 pm

    So LB had surgery today. I didn’t mention it before because it was one of those unmentionable surgeries. She’s doing fine and I couldn’t be there to help her because for one thing it came up fast for me to travel from Chicago and also because this weekend is the memorial service for uncle J at his lake compound in northern Wisconsin. This is surgery she’s had before and everything worked out fine. She has friends that are taking good care of her so I’m not too concerned. Of course I’m nervous but everything will be ok.

    Sorry to hear about your loss Julie.

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  34. Julie Robinson said on October 6, 2021 at 10:14 pm

    Son lost his job tonight too. He took the job understanding it was tech support for phones, but in reality it was selling extended warranties for phones. He’s too sweet for hard selling, so he didn’t make the numbers. Time to move on.

    Feel better soon, LB. Sending you healing energies.

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  35. LAMary said on October 6, 2021 at 11:56 pm

    There are a lot of jobs being misrepresented, Julie. I don’t know what your son’s resume looks like but I know IT tech support guys are in high demand in hospitals.

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  36. nancy said on October 7, 2021 at 1:20 am

    Heather, you asked about the wine? We read in Rick Steves’ book about a winery here that offered dirt-cheap shipping to the U.S. and thought that would be one to check out. It’s called Mourchon, and the British lady explained: The wines are *already* in the States, at a Chicago distributor, so they’re able to offer reasonable prices for Yanks shopping here. Of course, your definition of “reasonable” may differ, but I think we picked up some fancy-dinner bottles for… fancy-dinner prices. At least for our fancy dinners.

    Besides the case we ordered, we took two bottles “to go,” which Alan referred to as “Tuesday night with pizza” wine. We drank one last night (with scrambled eggs) and I said it was very nice. He said, “Yeah, for pizza wine. Isn’t this one of the $7 bottles?” Um, no. Try 15.50 Euro. My husband the tycoon.

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  37. Deborah said on October 7, 2021 at 4:28 am

    The place we stayed in the south of France is in the Luberon wine region. The wine is moderately priced there and I think it’s good but we can’t find it in Chicago.

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  38. Deborah said on October 7, 2021 at 4:53 am

    I made an appointment at Walgreens to get my Pfizer booster on Monday, also my birthday. It will be a nice bday gift.

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  39. alex said on October 7, 2021 at 7:39 am

    Just when I think the world couldn’t have gone any more batshit crazy, I read this morning that a local emergency room PA is suing after getting fired for administering Ivermectin to a patient. (She also happens to be the wife of a local school board president who’s dumber than a bag of hammers and frothing at the mouth with conspiracy theories.) Imagine having to worry about this kind of malpractice in the ER.

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  40. LAMary said on October 7, 2021 at 10:20 am

    A nurse practitioner I know well, whom I thought was a bright guy, held out until fucking two weeks ago to get vaccinated. He works in an ER in eastern Washington. It was only when the ER was completely flooded with sick people from Idaho that he decided it was time to get the shot. His reason for not getting it months ago? He didn’t like the government telling him he had to. I don’t get it.

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  41. Heather said on October 7, 2021 at 10:51 am

    Thanks Nancy! I’ll check them out.

    For all the other semi-winos on here, my friend recently served me a French red she buys regularly and I really like it: Les Peyrières Rasteau, and it was a 2018. She gets it at Whole Foods in Chicago. Looks like it runs about $20, definitely worth it. Robust but smooth.

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  42. Bob (not Greene) said on October 7, 2021 at 11:20 am

    LA Mary: I had some laughs recently over a couple anti-vaccine militants. My wife works as a pharmacist (giving boatloads of COVID shots the past several months and dealing with people who come up to the counter asking for COVID tests, because they feel sick).

    Anyway a co-worker who is a Trumper kept making excuses for not getting vaxxed, and when the FDA approved Pfizer/Moderna that pharmacist just defaulted to the “you can’t force me” line.

    So when the governor mandated healthcare workers get vaxxed and then the pharmacy chain followed up with, “Oh, yeah, everyone who works in the pharmacies must get vaxxed,” the pharmacist made the “give me liberty or give me death” speech. And a couple weeks later, to keep said job, she got vaxxed.

    Also, LOL, this person’s husband is a Chicago cop and, naturally, a Trumper. He, too, had drawn his line in the sand on getting vaxxed. Until the mayor mandated it for all cops. Then he meekly got his shot.

    Their principles are built on a foundation of complete bullshit. I don’t know how they live with themselves.

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  43. Suzanne said on October 7, 2021 at 11:39 am

    Do these anti-vaxxers drive on the wrong side of the street because, by god, “nobody’s gonna tell me I can’t”? Do they show up to work naked because it’s their right? Do they demand that the cook at the restaurant they visit not be told he or she must keep a clean kitchen, wash their hands, and not spit in the food?

    I know some are well educated, but these people are effing morons.

    On another note, has anyone read Sombody’s Daughter by Fort Wayne’s own Ashley C Ford. It got all kinds of hype and I am almost finished with it and am unimpressed. Wondered if it’s just me.

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  44. David C said on October 7, 2021 at 12:55 pm

    “There’s a lot of research that says that if people think about injustice from a first-person perspective, they’re more likely to respond aggressively,” said Tracy Vaillancourt, a professor at the University of Ottawa specializing in children’s mental health and violence prevention. “If they think about injustice from a third-person perspective, they’re less likely to be aggressive. And it’s because, in a sense, now they pulled back and are able to take the perspective of both parties that are involved.”


    I know so many people who would probably give me a kidney if I needed it but wouldn’t wear a mask around me if I needed it. I’ll never understand.

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  45. Suzanne said on October 7, 2021 at 1:10 pm

    Here’s a link to the story Alex mentioned above.

    Indiana is an At Will work state, honey, so good luck with that lawsuit.

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  46. Julie Robinson said on October 7, 2021 at 2:10 pm

    Well, I was able to catch a few lines of that story before the paywall slapped up. I also saw on the front page that Krazy Dennis Kruse, the state senator from north of the Fort, had Covid and spent 10 days in the ICU, losing 20 pounds. Despite this, and the fact that his wife is currently battling bone cancer, he still will not get vaccinated. These people!

    Since our son is now unemployed he’s very excited about going to the wedding next week. That would leave my 89 yo mom home by herself for five days. No phone, four animals to care for, garden to water, etc. I just can’t do that, so I’m giving my place to the lad. He hasn’t seen extended family members in many years; plus we would need another hotel room and it’s way past the RSVP date. I only had to think about it for five minutes and feel serene about the decision.

    But I’m still glad that all three of us eldsters have our third Covid shot as well as out flu immunizations. Deborah, I bet it will bring you great peace of mind too.

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  47. Sherri said on October 7, 2021 at 2:53 pm

    My current representative on the King County Council, Kathy Lambert, has served in that role for 20 years. I’ve been unhappy with her for the 18 years I’ve lived here. She lives in my neighborhood, but her base is the more rural, conservative part of the district. People think of her as this nice old grandmother, but I know her granddaughter, and I know better.

    Now, she is finally facing a serious opponent, and seems headed for defeat. She’s finally clearing showing her true colors to everyone, with her latest mailer. It’s so bad that even other Republicans here thought it had to have been sent by a third party PAC, not the campaign, but nope, it was Kathy.


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  48. Deborah said on October 7, 2021 at 4:05 pm

    I made an appointment for my husband to get his booster too on Monday but the appts are about an hour and a half apart. So maybe we’ll go to the writer’s museum on Michigan Ave in between times. I’ve been wanting to go but it was closed during the lockdown and then I was in NM. Just my luck it will be closed on Monday.

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  49. Dorothy said on October 7, 2021 at 6:42 pm

    Deborah I’m willing to bet if you both show up at the earlier appointment (yours) they’ll take you both at the same time. When I got my booster I was in and out at CVS in about 15 minutes.

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  50. Deborah said on October 7, 2021 at 7:53 pm

    Dorothy, I thought about that too, we’ll try it. Meanwhile I found out that the American Writers Museum on Michigan Ave is open on Mondays. The Walgreens where we have our appointments is just a block or so south of the museum, so it’s very convenient.

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  51. LAMary said on October 7, 2021 at 8:21 pm

    Haven’t had my booster yet. I’m a modernoid. I did get a flu shot. I had an appointment but my ride to Walgreens did not. They gave him a shot anyway. Give it a try.

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  52. basset said on October 7, 2021 at 10:18 pm

    Same for us, Mrs. B had an appointment at a Kroger mini-clinic and mine was the next day but they took care of both of us.

    Publix, at least in our part of town, is no longer offering a $10 gift certificate with a flu shot. Oh well.

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  53. Julie Robinson said on October 8, 2021 at 11:00 am

    No mention of a gift card when D got his flu shot at Publix, but my mom got $5 at the Target/CVS pharmacy. Which the cashier forgot to take off, so we had to go stand in line at customer service for 15 minutes.

    Speaking of bad stores…we had to 10 buy door alarms for our inspection because we have a pool, and we found out at 5 pm the day before. No time to order anything, and most stores only had a couple in stock, except one Walmart on the other side of town. It was already dark when we got there and parked, only to learn that the entrance on one side was closed. As we started to walk over, I noticed the area next to the building was unlit, and then I saw shadows lurking around in the dark.

    I got a prickly feeling, grabbed D’s arm, and said let’s walk over here in the light. The store was horrible and dirty but we got our alarms, walked back through the parking lot in the lighted area, and booked. I didn’t mention the lurkers until we were on our way home.

    This morning’s paper had a story on a notorious local murder trial, where a pregnant woman was gunned down, allegedly by her ex, and would you believe the location was that very store.

    Now, maybe the lurkers were just employees on a smoke break, but why would a store have a major area unlit like that?

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  54. Deborah said on October 8, 2021 at 11:18 am

    Julie, there’s a bad times Walmart in Santa Fe closer in town, they built a newer one on the outskirts. The bad one is where the lurkers hang out.

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  55. Deborah said on October 8, 2021 at 11:24 am

    I’m in a rental car on our way up to northern Wisconsin for uncle J’s memorial gathering. I’m burying my nose in my phone while my husband is driving the nerve wracking highways out of town.

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