Saturday, November 30, 2013

Day 30: What I Learned from NaBloPoMo

I had already planned to do a 'What I Learned' post today, when this appeared in my inbox this morning.

Oh, well.  I'll just modify a bit.

I read through the 8 lessons NaBloPoMo posted this morning.  Several of the lessons have to do with 'letting go of perfection' and being true to you, writing original ideas, and not caring so much what other people think.  All of those lessons really resonated with me.  I certainly don't think that I've ever achieved perfection on this blog, but I do try just about every time I write a post.  Except, when you're posting daily, that's hard to do.  There were several posts I hit the publish button on, that I'm not so sure I was really happy with this month.  I won't tell you which ones, but trust me.  They're out there.  There were days that I found myself tired or pressed for time and I just thought, fuck it.  I'm done.  I will try to  do better tomorrow.  I found it oddly freeing.  Which was…nice.

Another author of the 8 lessons mentioned 'keeping NaBloPoMo on top of their to do list'.  Which, sadly, I did not do at all.  With two kids it just couldn't be on the top of my to do list.  At least, I couldn't figure out how to put it there.  The first week I thought I might even quit, I was falling so far behind.  I talked myself out of it though, and just made an effort to post when I could.  My posts were mostly going up a day or two late, but they were going up, and I felt good about that.  And!  My last few posts did go up on time (this one included).  So.  Progress.

The final thing I learned was, when you have to post every day writer's block is very likely to happen.  One of the 8 lessons mentioned was 'embracing the prompts'.  And I should have.  I really, really should have.  But the days that I had a hard time coming up with something to write about were the days that I just didn't find the prompts resonating with me.  I know that's not how a prompt works.  You start to write about the prompt and let it take you where it will.  And it may have nothing to do with the original prompt in the end.  But I just forced myself to come up with something, however meager, and wrote about that instead.  If I do this next year, I promise to try to embrace the prompts.

Anyway.  I loved doing NaBloPoMo.  It's a great feeling to look back at this month and realize that I've written every day.  That it can be done.  Or, rather, that I can do this and I should be doing this.  That I should be blogging more than once or twice a month.  There's no reason that I can't get out a post every week.  And after NaBloPoMo, I feel very motivated to do just that.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Day 29: Save Endangered Music

We are not Black Friday shoppers.  No one in our family is.  I can't ever remember being at a family Thanksgiving, on any side of my family, where people got up bright and early on Friday morning to go get the best deals.  It's not our thing.

There have been commercials this year urging people to shop local on this Black Friday.  That I can get behind.  Pittsburgh has a lot of great little shopping districts, with plenty of independent stores for people to do their shopping.

In the spirit of independent shopping, here's one more idea.  If you're buying music this Black Friday (or really, anytime), please shop at your local record store.  My family does a ton of Amazon shopping.  We have Amazon Prime even.  I get how easy it is.  But local record stores are awesome.  They're usually owned by people who love music so much, they're willing to go broke trying to bring good music to the rest of us. 

Here in Pittsburgh, our favorite local record store is Soundcat Records.  Karl is awesome, and he worked at the record store for years when it was Paul's CDs.  He bought it from Paul a couple of years ago.  It is truly a labor of love.

There are plenty of other great record stores in Pittsburgh too.  And probably in your area.  You can always go here to find them.

Damn the man and save the empire.  You'll be glad you did.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Day 28: Thankful

I am thankful for...

Family hugs


The Husband's cooking

Pretty stationery

Staying in my pajamas until 1:00 pm

Afternoon runs with The Boy


Phone calls from relatives

Hot showers

The smell of roasting vegetables

Clean laundry

Kisses from The Girl

Other people hosting


Good conversation

Bedtime reading with The Kids

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Day 27: Donny Who Loved Bowling

It's been a quiet, but rather good day over here.  It started with a two hour school delay (which, having been up and out of the house at 6am I can guarantee you they did not need, but you know, the kids love it).  Anyway we all got to have a leisurely morning, and then I ran some errands.  I got all the Thanksgiving groceries we needed, found snow boots for The Girl (and felt ridiculous for stressing about it last night), finished a few more errands, and then had a reasonably quiet and relaxing evening at home with the family.

So, here I am, up after the family has gone to bed.  Eating taffy and watching tv.  I was going to go to bed sooner, but John Goodman was on Letterman and I love John Goodman.  I'd invite him to Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow if I could.  He's awesome.

One of my all-time favorite movies featuring John Goodman is The Big Lebowski. Truthfully, everything Goodman has done with the Coen Brothers is fantastic.  But this is one of my favorites.  We saw it when it came out at The Beehive in Oakland, when they still showed movies.  The Husband and I loved it.  Each time I watch it I love it even more.  It's one of those movies that actually gets funnier every time you see it.  And this?  Is seriously one of the best scenes in the movie.

Hilarious.  I crack up every time I watch it.  And now if you'll excuse me, I think I need to make myself a White Russian.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Day 26: Grouch

The grouch in the title refers to me.  Although, if I'm being honest, we're all a little grouchy today.  With the possible exception of The Husband.  He's psyched for the short week.

I tried to start the day off cheery.  But The Boy came out of his room and immediately began complaining that he didn't have the day off school.  I reminded him that it was a short week, but that didn't seem to matter at all.  And then he started fighting with The Girl at breakfast and it was all downhill from there.

We were late dropping off The Boy at school.  Then The Girl and I slogged around in the slush running errands.  She took a ten minute nap while we were out which meant that she didn't nap at all during her regular naptime.

The Boy's art club was cancelled because of the weather.  I dragged The Girl all over the school looking for him at pick up, only to get a text from The Husband (who came home early) that The Boy was home and had brought two of his friends.  Apparently, it is impossible to wait inside the school for me when I'm five minutes late.

After the friends left, I took the kids out to buy much needed new shoes.  They began fighting in the car within two minutes, which put me in a fantastic mood.  Other gems while we were out- The Boy told me that I nagged him too often, and then Target was out of snow boots in The Girl's size.  Which prompted The Boy to tell me that I needed to be a better planner.  Sure, I thought.  I'm planning to go home and drink right now.

And then the evening got much, much better.  The Boy apologized, The Husband cooked, and The Girl actually ate her food which hasn't been happening at dinner for the last two weeks (she's been battling a cold).  And then I had a few glasses of wine and we all went to bed early.

Honestly, it was a relief for the day to end this way.  Not just because, who needs aggravation anyway?  But also because I've been keenly aware of when I'm not being grateful this week.  This week of all weeks, when I should be thankful to have a healthy family, when I should be thankful for everything that I have, when I should be thankful that it's not a hardship to take my kids out and buy them new shoes for crying out loud.  When I should realize just how very very much I have and be grateful for it.  Thank god the day ended the way it did, so I could go to bed thankful and remind myself that these little aggravations that happen throughout the day?  Are nothing.  And if anything, I should be thankful that I'm even in a position to be aggravated by my kids.  Thankful that we have each other and that we are able to irritate each other.  I could stand to remind myself of that more often.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Day 25: Kids & Their Music

My parents were big music lovers.  From day one, I was exposed to many types of music on a daily basis.  My dad's favorites were Rick Nelson, Emmylou Harris, and most especially, The Beach Boys.  He also loved Linda Ronstadt, Gram Parsons, Buddy Holly, Judy Collins, The Band, and of course, The Beatles and The Stones.  When I was a child his record collection was enormous.  Now it is surpassed only by his CD collection.  He tells me that he doesn't envy the task I have before me when he dies.

Music was a constant in my early life.  My dad was always playing something on his stereo, and when I was seven, I got my own.  That was a very exciting Christmas.  For the first few years that I owned it, most of the music was in line with my parents' tastes.  There were a few exceptions- Abba, The BeeGee's, Shaun Cassidy- but I also had my fair share of Beach Boys, Beatles, and Buddy Holly.

In the first weeks of sixth grade, I can remember overhearing a conversation in my social studies class.  One of the kids, who, for whatever reason, looked like he knew what he was talking about, was discussing the release of Rush's newest album, Moving Pictures.  And he was raving about the first single, Limelight.  I'd never heard of Rush before, but I knew that I had to get the album.  He made it sound too fantastic.

And it was.  Not just because the music was good, but also because it wasn't music introduced to me by my parents.  It was introduced to me-indirectly- by one of the cool kids at school.  I loved Moving Pictures.  There was a time when I could not only sing all the lyrics, but I could have told you how long each song was too.  I studied the hell out of that album cover.  It was a gateway.  I'd go on to do that with many other albums through middle school and high school as well.


When The Boy was younger we used to listen to several things that he liked out of our CD collection.  Gorillaz, Fatboy Slim, Beck.  But his favorite for a while was The Beastie Boys.  They're one of my favorites, so I was very happy to share in that with him.

Last year he came home talking about Thrift Shop by Macklemore & Lewis.  We listened to it online, and then a few more songs by them too.  We ended up buying the CD.  It's really pretty great.  Despite the profanity, I actually think it's a good CD for The Boy to listen to.  Lots of positive messages about tolerance, overcoming adversity, pursuing your dreams.  Honestly, I hope he's hearing all of that too.

One day a few weeks ago he declared that Macklemore & Lewis were better than The Beastie Boys.  I couldn't believe it.  How could I have gone so wrong? I thought.  A few hours later though I realized, he needs them to be better than The Beastie Boys.  As much as he likes The Beastie Boys, Macklemore & Lewis are his.  We all listen to them, but he brought them home.  He discovered them.  As hard as it is to believe, The Beastie Boys have become his 'parents' music'.  It's pretty cool to watch him discovering his own music and owning it.  I can't wait to see what he brings home next.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Day 24: End of the Celebration

Birthday celebrations should not just be confined to someone's actual birthday.  I tend to get a few dinners and several lunches out of my birthday every year.  Which is awesome.  There's nothing I like more about my birthday than being reminded that I have a lot of people who care about me and are happy that I'm here.  I try hard to do the same for them when their turn comes around.  It's good to be appreciated for just being you.

This year my birthday stretched into three lunches and three dinners.  The last dinner was tonight.  To be fair, the dinner wasn't just for my birthday.  Our friend's birthday is the day after mine, so we go out for a dual birthday dinner every year.  His wife and The Husband have birthdays within two weeks of each other, too, so we get two dual birthday dinners a year.

First, my friend and I took our boys to see Potted Potter this afternoon.  I wasn't sure what to expect of a show that promises seven Harry Potter books in 70 minutes, but it was very good, very funny.  My friend's son was practically on the floor he was laughing so hard.

The boys hung out at their house for a couple of hours while I went home.  We were supposed to meet at a restaurant in the Strip District, but they got there before we did and they were told that they were booked for the night.  Crazy, really, for a Sunday.  Unless everyone is avoiding having to cook until Thanksgiving.  Anyway, we ended up at Church Brew Works instead.  I had pizza and beer for dinner and it was delicious.  Perfect way to end my birthday celebrating.

This week officially starts the holidays.  I'm totally not ready- lists aren't made, nothing's been bought, I'm not even sure when my dad is supposed to get here for Christmas.  But this is the week when I need to start thinking about all that stuff I guess.  Hopefully I can get my act together quickly.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Day 23: OK Boppers

So I was up really late last night, and came across this while flipping channels:

Oh, hell yes.  The Warriors is one of my favorite cult classics.  I love this movie so much.

Remember in the late 90's when Joe Bob Briggs had a late night show on USA (I think it was on USA?) and he provided commentary on movies?  He did The Warriors one night and it was the best.  Much of his commentary centered on how The Warriors couldn't have taken the subway trains that they did and then made it back to Coney Island.

Also Lynne Thigpen as the DJ! 

She was the coolest. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Day 22: Hit & Run, Part Deux

Two days after my insurance company called to say that my hit and run driver had been identified, I heard from the officer assigned to my case.  He was calling to tell me the same information, and to see if he could stop by with a photo for me to I.D.  No problem.

He stopped by with an enlarged copy of the guy's license.  It was definitely him, although he looked younger in the picture than he did in real life.  I was surprised to see that he was only a few weeks younger than me.  I thought that he was at least ten years older.

The officer asked me to tell him the whole story again.  'I'm really surprised that he bolted,' the officer said.  He was very nice.  'His license is good.  Three times out of four when drivers bolt like that they have a problem with their license.  His is clean.' He also explained to me that if the guy refused to pay, that I would have to press charges.

'Really? I'm not out to ruin anyone's life.  I just want the damage he caused to my car to be paid for.'

'Yeah, but if you don't press charges then it keeps your insurance company from being able to collect their money…'  OK.  Well that made perfect sense.

He left and told me that they'd be stopping by the guy's house the following morning. They'd let me know of any developments.


That was almost two weeks ago.  I was surprised that I hadn't heard anything, but I was still so relieved that they actually know who hit my car, I just couldn't bring myself to be too concerned.  My car went into the shop for almost a week.  The damage was repaired.  They even cleaned my car and left a box of chocolates on the passenger seat.  So, amazing service there.  I was embarrassed that I hadn't straightened up my car before sending it in.

I picked up my car this morning.  While I was paying for my car, I got an email from the officer on my case.  They stopped by the residence three times in the last two weeks.  On the third visit the guy's nephew answered and told the police that his uncle- the guy who hit me- no longer lived there.  So now charges are being pressed and there's a warrant out for this guy.

So, I'm conflicted. On one hand, he did something wrong and should take responsibility for what he did.  If the situation was reversed I certainly would have. But I also think, he probably can't afford this.  And that's why he gave me false information and took off.  So I feel badly that all this trouble is being gone through because in the end, when they catch up with him, he probably won't be able to afford this anyway.  Even if he has insurance.  Because if he does and his insurance company drops him, well, maybe he can't afford that either.  And it would suck and I would feel bad, but seriously?  I'm a nice person.  He should have just given me his correct info.  If it came down to it we probably could have worked something out. Too bad it turned out differently.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Day 21: Hit & Run

Last month, late on a Friday morning, on a cloudy but otherwise clear and dry day, my car was rear-ended while sitting perfectly still at a very obvious red light.

The Girl and I had been on our way to Phipps to meet friends.  I was slightly shaken up and a little aggravated.  After making sure that The Girl was ok, I got out of the car to talk with the other driver.  I was greeted with, 'Oh, ma'am.  I am so mother fuckin' sorry.'

Of course, I thought.  My car gets rear-ended by the guy who starts our conversation off like this.  I took it as an omen that things were probably not going to go well.

To be fair, his car, a large Ford pick-up truck, was in much worse shape than mine.  Steam was coming out from under his hood and his front bumper was hanging off.  Looking at my car, I saw damage to the bumper.  Later I would notice the large dent on my hatch.  How I missed it then I don't know.  Trick of the light?  Just cosmetic though.  Our car was still very drivable.

He didn't show me his license, but offered to write down his information.  I gave him a pen and paper.  He handed it back to me.  'Rick Ford' it said, with a phone number underneath.  Now I know that Ford is a legitimate last name- my best friend married a guy by the last name of Ford- but I just found it a bit odd since he was driving a Ford and all.

While we were looking at our cars someone had stopped and come over to the side of the road to ask if we were ok.  Had I been thinking, I would have asked the guy for his contact info.  It would have been good to have a witness.  He stayed the whole time that we were there.  It was actually very nice of him.

When I asked 'Rick' for his insurance information, he waved an envelope at me and said, ' I'll give it to you when you call.  I've got to get my car out of here.'  Of course.  I got back in my car, and wrote down his license plate number when he pulled in front of me.


I called the police and filed a report.  Then I called my insurance company to file a claim.  Everyone was actually kind and sympathetic.  I was told by my insurance company that a plate trace would be put through, that it would likely take about a week, and that they would let me know when anything turned up.

A week went by, then two, and then I began to give up hope that they would ever find the guy.  I questioned if I wrote down the plate number wrong, although I just had a hard time believing that.  The Husband said that I should have taken a picture of the plate with my phone.  That never occurred to me, since the last time I was in an accident was before I even had a cell phone.  And then I felt old.

Three weeks after the accident I got a call from the insurance company.  First, they wanted to let me know that I had an appointment for my car to get worked on.  Which I knew because, um, I had made the appointment myself.  Oh, ok.  Well, by the way she added, we tracked down your guy.  

Unbelievably great news.  They were just trying to figure out if he had insurance at the time of the accident. Which I took to mean they hadn't gotten in touch with him yet.  At any rate they found him.  I was relieved.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Day 20: The Boy & His Mouth

The Boy was in trouble today at school.  For the most part, he's actually a pretty awesome kid.  Friendly, bright, likes to try new things, always up for a good time. Actually, that last one may get him into trouble later.  But for right now it's pretty cool.  He's really a lot of fun.  His biggest downfall, though, is his mouth.  Oh.  The things he can say.

This has happened before.  A kid messes with The Boy, The Boy gets irritated, then he opens his mouth and it's all downhill from there.  The tables are turned, the kid gets upset, and then it's The Boy who's in trouble, even though he didn't start it. He's reactionary.  And cutting.

And that's what happened today.  He was in a lot of trouble.  He came close to being taken off the basketball team, which was a very big deal.  It would have taken him a long time to get over that.  Instead, he ended up with two days of lunch detention. Actually, the other kid did too, which was good.  He'd said some pretty nasty things to The Boy as well.  Now, the hard part is getting The Boy to try and watch his mouth in the future.

In my more objective moments I tell myself that being so outspoken will serve him well when he gets older.  That The Boy will speak up when things aren't right, or that he'll speak up for himself, look out for himself.  But I also worry that he'll end up in a really bad way after a bar fight.  That he'll get himself into trouble standing up for a friend (he also has an incredibly strong loyalty streak).  Or that, you know, he'll just irritate people.  Because he'll never learn when it's ok to mouth off, and when it's best to be quiet.

I also try to tell myself that he's as obnoxious as he is because he is only ten after all.  That by the time he graduates from college he'll have matured at least a little bit.  That the kid I see now will grow to be someone capable of making good decisions.  That he'll be able to exercise some self control- verbal and otherwise. Sometimes it's hard to picture though.  Just like it's hard to picture him studying for a test in college without me nagging him.  Hard to picture him leaving for work without me asking him if he has everything before he leaves.  I mean, I hope he gets there, it's just hard to envision.

He will get there though.  Of course he will.  But I'm sure it doesn't mean that I'll stop worrying about it.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Day 19: Meetings & Hamell

This week already started off on the wrong foot.  And it's just going to get crazier.

I had two meetings and a lunch date today.  Those aren't necessarily bad things.  Especially the lunch date.  But I'm just feeling so behind on things.  Very disorganized.  It didn't help that my first meeting ran over, so I was late meeting my friend for lunch.  And, of course, The Girl was with me.  So she had had it by the end of the meeting and had a hard time sitting still at lunch.  It was ok- the restaurant staff were so nice about her running back and forth from the fish tank to our table- but it was a bit less relaxing than I had hoped.

The two meetings today are only half of the meetings I have to go to this week.  Four meetings in a week is more than I'm used to, especially since I almost always have a kid with me.  Anyway, as a result, The Meeting by Hamell On Trial has been stuck in my head all day.

Face Solo is classic Hamell On Trial.

Before kids, we used to go to shows all the time.  One of our favorite people to go see was Hamell On Trial.  He puts on a fantastic show.  He rocks hard, and it's kind of amazing that it's just him and his guitar.  No band with him at all.  And he's funny as hell.  I'm sure we've have seen him at least a dozen times- maybe even closer to twenty.  Once we went to New York and he was playing the Bowery.  We were so excited- a chance to see him while we were out of town! He also came to Pittsburgh a lot.  Maybe he still does?  I chose the clip that I did because it's a show from The Warhol Museum from this past summer.  

Anyway, I clearly need to pull out some Hamell On Trial CDs this week.  It's been too long.  And if he comes to a venue near you, please do yourself a favor and go.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Day 18: My Monday Morning

My plan was to start this week off right.  I had gone to the gym, I was reasonably on time getting the kids ready for school.  I had already made the decision that The Girl wasn't going to school today.  She was sick- bad cold- so that made my morning all the easier.

And then, two minutes before we had to walk out the door, I heard this from The Boy: 'Mom!  There's something large and black moving on the wall!'

I stared at it for a good minute- was it a large bug?  no, we're in Pittsburgh, not the tropics- before I realized what the hell it was.

A bat.  A goddamn bat.  Messing up my morning.

Suddenly we were running late.  I wasn't sure what to do.  I called The Husband first, who assured me that he would take care of it as soon as he got home.  In four hours.  I didn't find that helpful.

I Googled 'how to get a bat out of your house'.  It's not that the information wasn't helpful.  I just didn't want to do anything myself.

So my next step was to call Critter Control.  Theirs was one of the first numbers that came up when I Googled 'who will get a bat out of your house'.  They told me that they would be there as soon as they could.

The Girl and I went to a neighbor's house and I waited for them to call.  Jake was at our house in less than two hours.

It didn't take long.  The bat was still sleeping in the same place he'd been all morning.  Jake scooped up the bat and secured him in a sort of envelope.  And that was that.  If I wasn't so relieved to have him out of the house I would have felt silly for calling.

We can't figure out how he got in the house.  Maybe through the chimney?  Except our chimney cap is pretty new and very secure.  Jake pointed out a couple of places on the third floor where maybe he could have come in, although it would have been unusual for him to come down to the first floor from the third.  Maybe he flew in when I left the house to go to the gym?  But I can't imagine that I wouldn't have noticed, or that the cat wouldn't have noticed.  Our cat was in the living room this morning and watched me leave.  Actually, he seemed oblivious to the bat all morning.  Which is strange because he always lets us know when there's something out of the norm happening.  Mice, bugs, a leaky dishwasher- the cat is always on top of it.

It would be great to figure out how he got in so that we can block off the entry.  But Jake also said that it's unusual to find bats inside this late in the year.  It's usually a summertime thing.  So hopefully we've got some time to figure it out.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Day 17: Sunday Dinner

It was a dreary Sunday here in Pittsburgh.  Among other things, my day included: gray skies, a stuffy nose, kids who were tired of being stuck inside all weekend, and lots and lots of laundry.  So on a day like today, knowing that I'm getting one of my favorite meals for dinner, is awesome.  Something to look forward to at the end of the day.

A big favorite of mine is curry.  Specifically, The Husband's Curry.

So good.  Here's how to make it.

The Husband's Curry:

1 tbs. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tbs hot curry powder
2 bay leaves
1 14.5 oz. can of tomoatoes
1 13.5 oz. can of lite coconut milk
1 lb.  peeled and de-veined shrimp

Heat olive oil in a large pan.  Saute onion, pepper, and garlic in oil until soft.  Add curry powder, continue to saute for one minute.  Then add bay leaves, tomatoes, and coconut milk.  Bring to a boil then reduce heat.  Simmer for 30-40 minutes. Then add shrimp, and simmer for 5-10 more minutes, until the shrimp turns pink. Serves four.

Serve over rice, with a side of naan.  I like beer with mine.   

Yes.  Perfect way to end the weekend.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Day 16: Sick Day

The Boy woke up not feeling well today.  While we were out last night I could see it on his face.  He just looked awfully...tired.  And pale.  So it was no surprise that he woke up with a sore throat and stuffy nose this morning.

As a result, there was a lot of lying around the house, which my children aren't that good at doing.  Even when they're sick, they seem to have incredible amounts of energy.  So by this evening they were a little cross.  And irritable.

Tonight after dinner I pulled out one of my favorite movies to share with the kids.  The Princess Bride. It's a great movie even when you're feeling well, but it was always a movie I reached for when I was sick.  Maybe because Fred Savage is sick in the movie.  It just seems like the quintessential sick movie to me.  That and Ferris Bueller's Day Off.  Even though Ferris isn't really sick in that movie, just pretending so that he can, you know, take the day off.

Anyway, it was a fun movie night.  The kids enjoyed it, especially The Boy, which is great because he had resisted the movie when he was younger.  Probably because the word 'Princess' is in the title.  I'm glad that he's past that.  I'm not sure how much The Girl understood, but she didn't like Prince Humperdink, so she clearly understood at least a little bit.

The Boy tells me this is his favorite part of the movie:

Friday, November 15, 2013

Day 15: Cake & Taffy

Today is my birthday.  It's the day after my grandmother's.  I'm exactly fifty years and one day younger than she is.

It's been a quiet birthday this year, which was just what was needed around here. My sister-in-law watched the kids so The Husband and I could go out for a nice dinner on Thursday.  Among other things I learned that I enjoy Old Etonians and I need more pepper jelly in my life.

Tonight we went out with friends for Mexican food, and then back to their house for Prosecco and the most delicious raspberry cake I've ever had in my life.  Have I had raspberry cake before?  Maybe not, but if I did, I'm sure it didn't measure up to this one.  My God.  Was it freaking good.

Oh, and also?  Our friends sent me home with three pounds of taffy.  Three pounds. Which, honestly, was such an awesome gift.  I have an irrational love for taffy.

When I had a radio show I would play myself songs for my birthday every year. Here was one of my favorites:

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Day 14: Helen

My grandmother, Helen, turns 94 today.  94.  Which is fantastic.

Her motto has always been everything in moderation.  I only remember her drinking at holidays and special occasions.  She ate desserts infrequently.  My grandfather smoked for years, but she never did.  She made him go outside to smoke.  She was big on walking, and was doing yoga before it went mainstream.  She had a yoga exercise record (yes, on vinyl).  She and her friends would listen to the record and do yoga in my grandmother's living room.

She and my grandfather traveled the world, visiting every continent.  They were active in their church,  and through a church program, hosted people from all over the world in their home too.  They were interested in cultures, people, the arts, learning.  They were taking college courses for fun in their 70s.  They read- and she still reads- constantly.

She grew up in New Jersey, but my grandfather got a job in Charleston, WV in the 1950's.  They moved, built a house, built a community and life for themselves, and they never left.  Their kids have left- my mother is in Maryland and my uncle is in Washington DC, but my grandmother is still in Charleston.  She is older and forgetful.  She hasn't driven in years.  She is preparing to move into an assisted living apartment in her retirement community.  But she prefers to stay in Charleston as long as she possibly can.  It's her home.

94 years is a long time.  She was married for almost 55 years.  Her kids grew up and did well for themselves.  She has three grandchildren and five great-grandchildren- soon to be six.  She has outlived her husband, her seven brothers and sisters, and many friends.  But she still has a lot of people in her life who love her and look out for her.

I look up to my grandmother.  She is a strong, sensible, practical woman.  She is opinionated and direct.  She is caring and thoughtful. She has done things her way, and I imagine, that she has few if any regrets at this point in her life.  She is amazing and I hope to live as rich and full of life as she has.  I should be so lucky.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Day 13: And Then Things Get Better

I woke up in a very grouchy mood.  After getting the kids to school I ran an errand and then picked up a late breakfast for myself.  What are the diet secrets of skinny people?  For starters, they don't have gingerbread lattes and blueberry scones for breakfast.  Whatever.  It's been a crummy week so far.  Nothing tragic.  Just you know, not great.   So I felt like indulging.

My morning was wide open since my hairdresser cancelled on me for a second time.  Both times it's been because her son has been sick.  Which is totally legitimate and I feel bad for the kid- preschoolers are constantly giving each other all kinds of  germs.  But, I don't know.  My hair.  It's looking so terrible.  I just want it to be cut. Instead, I stayed home and tried to get stuff done.  And, of course, not much actually got done.

I picked The Girl up from school and we went to a friend's house for lunch.  We had curry and strawberries and it was delicious.  The Girl and her friend had a nice time playing together.  We headed home, The Girl had a late nap, and then she went off to another friend's house to play while I went to get The Boy from school.  We stayed at the playground for a while, and I got to have some adult conversation- always a bonus.

Not a bad afternoon, I thought as we left Trader Joe's and drove home.  The Husband was back from an out of town business trip, so I left The Boy and went to pick up The Girl.

We came home to The Boy and The Husband acting odd.  The Boy said, 'I know your birthday is later this week.  But I thought I would give you an early birthday present...'  And he held out the ring. My engagement ring that has been missing since Monday morning.  I gasped.  'Where did you find it?!' 

It was wedged in this:

A rocking motorcycle that was built for The Boy when he was a toddler.  The Girl plays with it now.  And apparently uses to hide her valuable treasures.  Thankfully The Boy found it despite her best efforts.

Can I just tell you how this made my day?  It totally made my day so much

The End.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Day 12: First Snow

'Mama!  Look at the snow.  It's winter!  I love winter.'

Big brown eyes.  She doesn't want to stop looking out the window.

'I love snow.'

Monday, November 11, 2013

Day 11: The Engagement Ring

The Husband is many wonderful things, but spontaneous is not one of them.  So when we got engaged we discussed it, and then went to pick out the ring together.  I had wanted silver, but he thought that gold looked better with the diamond, so we went with gold.  I think at the time I just thought it was so funny that he even had an opinion.  He doesn't remember that at all.

We officially got engaged in Hidden Valley, where his parents had a ski home at the time.  We went up for the weekend and it was very low-key.  His parents came up the next day to have dinner and celebrate with us.

These were the things that I was thinking about this morning when I realized that my engagement ring was missing.  So were two other rings- my wedding band and another ring I wear often on my right hand.  I had taken them off last night to do dishes and set them on the kitchen counter.  Which was stupid.  I usually set them up on the windowsill, out of The Girl's reach.  She loves shiny things, which means jewelry.  It means other stuff too- sequins, glitter, etc.  But she loves jewelry and is always asking to wear mine.

I knew right away that she had grabbed the rings and done something with them.  The Husband and I started to go through the house.  I found my wedding band and the other ring pretty quickly, in a magazine basket in the living room.  But my engagement ring was nowhere to be found.

It wrecked my fucking day.  I'm behind on a lot of stuff, and with The Boy at a friend's house all day, and The Girl at school in the morning, I had expected to get a lot done.  I had a very long to-do list.  Instead, The Husband and I were taking the house apart.  We searched through all of the trash cans.  We looked under and behind everything.  We went over the living room with a fine tooth comb.  Nothing.  It was crazy.

The Boy got back later that evening.  We enlisted his help- he's really good at finding stuff- but he didn't turn up anything either.  By the end of the night I was exhausted and resigned to the idea that maybe we would never find it.  'It's somewhere in this house,' The Husband said.  I agreed.  'That means whoever we sell the house to will find it.  It won't be us.'  Ah, that's my natural optimism shining through.  Apparently I give up very easily.

I hate to be so attached to a thing.  I kept telling myself that it was just a ring, I have so much else that matters so much more.  And it's true.  But it's hard to just give up something that you've worn every day for almost seventeen years.  And it's hard not to feel a sentimental attachment to an item like that.  An item given because we love each other very much and wanted to spend our lives together.  Of course the love and the marriage are far more important.  But it's hard not to miss the ring.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Day 10: At the Movies

One of the best things about Pittsburgh in November is the Three Rivers Film Festival.  Before we had kids, The Husband and I looked forward to it every fall.  My birthday is in November, so I always planned on dinner and a movie to celebrate.  It was a lot of fun choosing my birthday movie from the list of festival films.  When I worked at the public radio station, we would get sponsor passes.  That was the best.  We would go to as many movies as we could during the festival.

Even though we loved going to the film festival, we just haven't gotten ourselves to the movies like we used to ever since the kids have been born.  Of course we go to kids movies, but grown up movies, not so much.  I've been looking forward to the day when I could start taking the kids to more grown up movies.  The Boy is almost there.  We've seen a couple of movies this year that were not geared toward kids.  I took him to see North By Northwest on the big screen this past spring.  That was a lot of fun.  It's a cool thing to watch your kid enjoying a Hitchcock movie.

The Girl, of course, is still too young.  I started looking at the film festival schedule to see if there was a movie I could take The Boy to some evening.  Instead I found this.

My Neighbor Totoro
This was showing on Sunday afternoon.  Perfect.  The Husband was going to the football game with a friend.  So I took the kids to D's for lunch.  Then we headed over to the theater to watch the movie.

A few things about the movie.  First of all, I'd never heard of it.  I feel kind of ridiculous about that.  It's been around for 25 years.  It's huge in Japan and has a cult following over here.  The animation is amazing, and the story was really sweet.  I'm not sure how much The Girl could follow, but she seemed to get the gist of it.  And she loved King Totoro.

I said I'd never heard of it which isn't exactly true.  When The Boy was in preschool we went to an exhibit at The Childrens Museum.  They actually had a Catbus there that you could sit in.  It was pretty awesome.  Although not as awesome as the one in the movie.

I would love one of those...

The Catbus was one of my favorites in the movie.  He actually reminded me a lot of Appa from Avatar.  (Not the terrible Last Airbender movie that M. Night Shyamalan put out.  That was a travesty.  Let us never speak of that again.)  No, no.  The animated series that was on Nick for a long time.  We loved that show.  Loved.  The Boy was a big fan back in the day.  The Husband and I would watch it with him.  OK, we were all big fans.

Turns out, Appa was actually based on the Catbus, which I just think is kind of fantastic.

Anyway.  The Kids enjoyed My Neighbor Totoro too. When we left the theatre The Girl looked at me and said, 'Mama, I loved the movie!'  It was a pretty great afternoon.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Day 9: A Life of Crime

My sister-in-law is an emergency room nurse.  She has been for years and, as a result, has some great stories.  I'm hoping that as The Boy and The Girl get older, she can fill them in on all kinds of horrendous tales of people not wearing seat belts, doing drugs, and making plenty of other poor choices.  Maybe sort of a less formal Scared Straight program.  Or something.

Anyway, Tonight she told us about two thieves who ran from the police after stealing... I don't even know what.  Hopefully something worth their trouble?   They only made it a few blocks when the police overtook them.  Because they were short of breath.  Which, just... maybe it's time to re-think your life choices at that point.  They were taken to the ER at my sister-in-law's hospital.

'I mean, really.  It made me realize that if you're going to plan a crime where you might have to run from the cops, then maybe you should train for it.  You know?  Like, maybe a life of crime requires training.'

'Nice.  You should put that on a t-shirt.  A life of crime requires training.'

'And planning!  It also requires planning.  People are always getting caught because they never think things through.  I should have been a criminal.'

'OK.  And planning.  Maybe that could go on the back of the t-shirt.'

'Or on the front?  Maybe like with a carrot?  You know, off to the side like insert here?'


Friday, November 8, 2013

Day 8: Margarita Friday

What does one need after a long week?  Homemade Margaritas, of course.  My husband's are so phenomenally good, they have ruined me for most restaurant Margaritas.  I mean, I'll still order them.  I just do it with the knowledge that they'll be nowhere near as delicious as his.  The recipe is basic and easy:

1 ounce tequila
Dash of Triple Sec
Lime juice   (Fresh lime juice is key. Bottled is always a let down.)
Salt on the rim   (Optional. Although it's not optional for me. Bring on the salt.) 

That's it.  No need for mixes.  We used to make them with crushed ice in our blender, but in the last year he started mixing them in the cocktail shaker and we've been drinking them on the rocks.  I was a little surprised to find that I prefer them this way.

Margaritas are best enjoyed with friends who make you laugh.  A lot.  It was a great Friday night.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Day 7: Seriously Though. What About My Photos?

This was not my best day.  PMS, insomnia, and anxiety do not make a great combination.  Throw a grey November day into the mix, and it made for a miserable morning.

The Girl and I had plans to go to a friend's house for a playdate.  They're neighbors of ours, and we've been there many times before.  The mom is incredibly creative, so the house is beautifully decorated.  Not overdone- very warm, cozy, and kid-friendly.  Very kid-friendly.  Lots of amazing spaces set up for playing and creating.

Normally, I admire the house and then I am completely content to go home to my own, much less organized space.  Today I proceeded to feel worse about myself.  I should be doing more with my house, I thought. More organizing and creating more friendly spaces for my kids and their things. I looked around her house and had complete shelf and cabinet envy.  And envy over any other clever things she had set up.  Surely, I told myself, I am ruining my children and my family by not being better at this sort of thing.

It kind of sucks, beating yourself up over this stuff.  I don't feel as though my friend is in the least bit competitive or judgey.  So really, I just need to lighten up.  It's not as though I don't try.  I do.  I start projects around the house.  All the time.  The problem is that I never have quite enough time to finish them.  So everything around here seems to be about 80% done.  I get to that point, and then it's time to pick someone up, or take someone to another activity, or someone gets up from a nap...  And when I could come back to the project, something else has magically appeared and taken priority.

It's fine, really.  I know that one day I'll be an empty nester and I'll be miserable without the chaos and clutter and commotion.  At least that's how I'm picturing my future.  I'm sure that I'll miss my kids terribly, and that will mean missing all of the messiness and noisiness that comes with them.  I tell myself this on those days when I'm not getting anything done, trying to remind myself that really, it's ok.

And it is ok, right?  Because honestly, the idea that I will die before all of our family photos are labelled and organized can totally keep me up at night.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Day 6: Why I Need My iPod Shuffle

I went to the gym on Monday and realized that my iPod shuffle was dead.  I hadn't charged it over the weekend.  I made a mental note to charge it as soon as I got home, and went on with my workout.

Of course, I forgot.  So, this was my morning.

I sit down on the leg lift machine.  The older woman with the walker who is there just about every morning, I think, sits down across from me at the triceps machine.  'How're you?'  she yells.

I've seen her do this before.  It's a trap.  She doesn't care how I am.  She'll have a story for me.  And chances are she's already shared it with several other people before I walked in.

'I'm ok.  How are you?'

'I'm ok.  Just trying to take my mind off of things before I have to go to this funeral.'

'Oh, I'm so sorry.'

'Don't be!  That's what happens when you go to a place with a group of people and act like you're better than everyone else!  You get shot!.  You get hurt.'

I guess so, I mumble.  But she's on a roll.

'32!  He's 32.  Nine children.  You should have seen them all carrying on at the viewing last night.'

'How awful for them...'

'I am not going to the lunch afterward.  Mmm-mmm.  I'm not even going to the cemetery.  Not after watching his wife try to crawl in the casket with him last night!  Can you imagine what she'll do at the cemetery?'

No.  No I can't.  Thank goodness Herb walked in right about then.  She forgot all about me and our conversation and I got to switch machines.


They were playing classic rock in the gym this morning.  I like some of it.  It's what everyone at my middle school was listening to in the 80s. I've realized that I still have a soft spot for Van Halen and The Scorpions.  But there's one band who I've grown to realize is just bloody awful.  .38 Special.

I don't know how we all listened to them as kids.  As a grown up I heard Rockin' Into the Night again (at the gym, of course).  I finally paid attention to the words and could not believe I sang along with this song when I was 11.  It's all about trying to get his girlfriend into a cheap motel for sex because they can't keep their hands off each other on the highway.  Only she must leave him because in the next verse he's picking up a mentally ill prostitute.  And then he proclaims 'I ain't no new messiah/ But I'm close enough for rock-n-roll'.

Oh, honey, please.  You're not even close.

This morning I heard Hold On Loosely, which is almost as bad as Rockin' Into the Night.  But I also got to hear No One Like You.  So maybe it was ok that my iPod shuffle was at home after all.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Day 5: Missing the Tree That's Still Here

This past winter we started having problems with our sewer line.  They fixed it, and we thought that we'd be ok, at least for a little while.  It didn't last as long as we had hoped.

In August the clog came back.  Not as bad as it was in January, but still.  Some water in the basement and the plumbers had to be called.  They ran a camera down the line and once again, the clog seemed to be near the street, but still on our property.  The cause of the clogs is the tree in front of our house.

One of the nice things about our neighborhood is that, many years ago, the city planted trees all along our streets.  It's beautiful and it's shady and I love how it keeps my car from getting too hot in the summer.  The problem is, they weren't always conscientious about the types of trees that they were planting.  They are now, but we still have all of these older trees.  Some are just fine.  But some, like the one in front of our house, are not.

The one in front of our house isn't even that old.  We think it was planted maybe 20-30 years ago, but it's still not a great tree to have near sidewalks and sewer lines.

Check out those crazy aggressive roots!  sigh.

I will not be sad to see the clogs go, and I will not be sad to have a sidewalk that is no longer cracked and crooked.  I will, however, miss seeing this outside my front door next fall.

Isn't that gorgeous?   Look at those beautiful red leaves.

I love trees and I hate to see this one go.  I hate that it's not sick, and it's not dead, but we still have to get rid of it.  Because what it is is costly.  And we just can not afford to keep it anymore.

Honestly, I'm a little heartbroken.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Day 4: I Can't Make it On Time

This opinion piece was in our local paper yesterday.  It really resonated with me.  Maybe too much.

I'm also a late person.  I hate to think of myself that way- people are usually quietly exasperated with the late people in their lives.  We're rude, clueless, disorganized.  Not terribly flattering.  'I'm fashionably late!' I'll grin at my husband.  I'll get a head shake in response.  As if he's never late of his own accord.  I'm so sure that it's always my fault.

I used to blame my kids.  Of course I'd be on time if I didn't have to get them dressed, or fed, or just plain nag them to get out the door.  The problem is, before I had kids, I used to get to work late.  In my defense, the start time at our office was pretty loose.  As long as you kept appointments, made it to our Tuesday morning staff meetings, and got all of your work done, chances are not too many people would notice if you weren't there at 9 sharp.  There were several of us who made sure we were there before 9:30.  It was totally fine.

Both of my parents are always punctual.  My mother actually prefers to be early.  Sometimes I wonder if my perpetual lateness is some kind of subconscious reaction to being raised by people who are never, ever late.  More likely though, I'm just easily distracted.  Like the author, if you tell me that you're running late, I might not watch a movie, but it's very, very likely that I will answer a few emails.  Or read a 'quick' article online.

Maybe I'm just a poor judge of time.  Or rather, a poor judge of real time.  I know that it takes me about fifteen minutes to get downtown on a Sunday afternoon.  But what about on a Thursday at rush hour?  What if I have to stop for gas?  What happens when I have to park far away from the venue and don't factor in walking time?  Why do these things seem to make me so, so late?  I never think anything ever needs more than a five minute cushion.  When will I ever learn?

Or maybe I won't.  I think it's time that I just own it.  This is who I am.  I like the author's ideas that us perpetually late people are optimists.  That we're gracious and happy.  I'm sure that these are the exact reasons why the early people in our lives keep us around.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Day 3: Pancakes & Running

The Boy woke up this morning and asked for pancakes.  Specifically, chocolate chip pancakes.  Because we clearly don't have enough Halloween chocolate in the house.

Between the candy glut and his behavior which has been... shall we say, lacking lately, The Husband told him no.  He would not be making him pancakes.  'I'll just make them myself,' The Boy said.  The Husband wasn't happy about this, but I feel like we have to pick our battles these days so I just shrugged.  If he wants to cook, let him.  At least it's a skill.

He actually did pretty well.  Not much of a mess, no one was hurt, and he got the pancakes he wanted.  He even made two pancakes for his sister, so that was pretty awesome.  We didn't even have to ask him to.

Not too shabby for The Boy's first chocolate chip pancake...

Later in the afternoon The Girl went down for a nap.  It was gorgeous out, so The Boy and I both wanted to go for a run.  We decided to try out the track at CMU.  It's not far from our house and it was a sunny Sunday afternoon.  It was great.  A couple of soccer teams were practicing on the turf, but the track itself was pretty empty.  We each ran four laps- The Boy, of course, finished before I did- and then we took a water break.  I was feeling pretty good and suggested that we go for another four laps before calling it quits.

Almost as soon as I started on the second set my right knee started to hurt.  Badly.  Like a sharp twinge of pain.  It was probably stupid, but I had enjoyed the first four laps so much, I didn't want to stop running.  I made it through three laps before I gave up.  Pretty disappointing, but it was probably best that I finally stopped.  As promised, we went to The Boy's favorite tea house on the way home.  We both got Earl Grey.  His was regular, mine was lavender- both were delicious.

When we got home I Googled knee pain (I know, I know- never self-diagnose...).  It certainly sounds like I have runner's knee, which is kind of funny to me because, despite my best intentions, I'm still a rather sporadic runner.  Anyway, rest, ice, ibuprofen, hopefully this will all help and my knee will feel much better soon.  To really fix the problem though, I think that I'll need to get better shoes.  The ones I have are pretty good, and they're just fine for going to the gym, but I think I need better support when I'm out for a run.  If anyone out there has helpful tips for runner's knee or running shoes, please leave them in the comments.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Day 2: I'm On My Time with Everyone

This September marked the twentieth anniversary of Nirvana's In Utero.  I remember the album coming out.  At the time I had an overnight shift as a DJ at a public radio station.  When In Utero arrived at the station I was convinced that Nirvana was only getting better with time. I'd been a fan of theirs since Nevermind, but In Utero was so raw, the lyrics almost painfully open.  I thought it was brilliant, and I still do.

The spring after its release, I also became convinced that it was one long suicide note.  When Kurt Cobain died, and I went back and listened to the album, I remember thinking, how could we all not have known.  It was so obvious.  Some of the best songs they ever did, All Apologies, Dumb, Pennroyal Tea, Rape Me, they're all on In Utero.  And if you listen to the lyrics, you'll hear the pain, physical and emotional, the alienation, and the sense that he had lost himself somewhere along the way.

A friend of mine, who's a brilliant corporate lawyer, was being recognized last month for her accomplishments and her contributions to the community.  She and about a dozen other women were being honored at a dinner and fundraiser downtown.  Because it was also a fundraiser, she was given a table to fill with guests.  Of course, we were there so we could be with her when she was being recognized.  But the organization wanted us to bid on auction items too.

I don't go to these things often (quite rarely, actually), but when I do I feel incredibly out of place.  These are functions intended for people like my friend.  Not just successful in their field, but people who can afford to drop thousands of dollars on auction items for charity.  Even when I worked full time I never could have afforded it.  You don't expect to get rich working for a non-profit.  And while I feel like I contribute to my community and try to make it a better place, it's tough being the SAHM at a table full of lawyers, vice-presidents, and salespeople.  It makes me feel like I'm back in high school trying to fit in with the girls at the table.  Trying to make them think that I'm interesting.  It makes me itchy.

Driving solo in the car is always nice because it rarely happens anymore.  When it does, I tend to grab something I love to play at top volume.  That night I grabbed In Utero.  It had been a while, and when the first lines of Serve the Servants started up, I knew I had made the right choice.  Feeling out of place, going somewhere I felt like I didn't belong- it matched the music perfectly.  Maybe that sounds a little pathetic coming from a grown woman and mother of two kids.  And most of the time I'm pretty confident and proud of what I do.  But every so often the insecurity I felt at fifteen rises up.  It did that night, and I was glad to have In Utero with me, reminding me that not everyone feels like they fit in all the time.  And that's ok.  And sometimes, it's even better on the outside.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Day 1: A Very Tiring Halloween

This was only the beginning.

The fall parade and party at school happened right during The Girls' nap time.  Unfortunate, but she's missed naps before.  And we couldn't miss The Boy's last fall parade in elementary school.

He was Bart Simpson, in case you weren't sure.  The Husband found something online about using ping pong balls for Simpson eyes.  I think we could have made the pupils larger, but otherwise I think they worked?  Hard to tell.  He got the added bonus of yellow face paint for trick or treating- no time to do it at school.  The Girl was a butterfly for trick or treating, but refused to wear her costume to the parade and party that afternoon.  So she wore her superhero cape for the afternoon instead.

Of course, I was completely behind on all things Halloween this year, so we crammed as much Halloween into the afternoon as we could before trick or treating started.  Painting pumpkins and carving a jack-o-lantern.  Hanging decorations.  Cooking for a dinner at a friend's house afterward.

The cooking took longer than expected.  I took The Girl to a few neighbors' houses, and then The Husband took The Boy and a friend to the house where we were having dinner later.  They went trick or treating over there.  I attempted to cook and answer the door for candy in the meantime.  It was raining, but it was also 70 balmy degrees, so we were slammed.  I was so grateful when a friend stopped by.  She handed out candy while I attempted to finish a tray of potatoes and feed our daughters.  We ran out of candy and had to dip into some birthday party candy from two weeks before.  Crazy.

We got to our friend's house right around 8.  We all had a cocktail and sat down to a late dinner.  It was very nice, and the kids were amazingly well behaved considering they were up late and wired on sugar.  At least, well behaved until later today when they lost their minds.  (I mean, The Boy lost his mind.  He lost it hard too.  I have no desire to go into it.  I think we're ok now.  I mean, we'll see.)  Anyway, it all tired me out completely and I spent the day recovering.  The Boy's meltdown didn't help at all.  But, hey!  Tomorrow's Saturday.  So that's good, right?

Also good?  NaBloPoMo started today, so I'll be posting here daily throughout the month of November.  Two things are good about that for me.  First, I've wanted to do it for a few years now, but was worried that I wouldn't or couldn't make the time.  (Look at me making time!)  Secondly, I've been a giant slacker about posting lately, so I think this could be the kick in the ass that I needed.  I hope it is anyway.  I certainly need something.