Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Amalia's New Year's Message for Bear

Too many times
We've had to fight the onslaught
of enemies at our door.

And so often we lost
the sounds of our voices
Amid the lion's roar.

Tonight we rest and recover
And reflect on where we've been
Tomorrow we wage a war of our own
That I just can't wait to begin.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Morning!

I sit here, at 9:25 on a Monday morning in my pjs, sipping yummy pumpkin and hazelnut coffee, reflecting on the wonder that is today. It's my fifth day off over the past eight days (!) and although I have a plethora of chores awaiting me, I am in a place of contentment. Zedd is looking at me like he wants to come cuddle me on the couch. Briggs is off somewhere creating mayhem. Bear is at work, so I have the house to myself. Nickelback's new CD is playing on my laptop (the surround sound is hooked up).

Life is good.

I have missed you all, my blogger friends. I'm going to spend the morning catching up on your lives - you have been busy this past week! Then it's off to do chores, but that's okay. I don't mind working after a morning spent so perfectly.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Happeeeee!

Okay. I'm happy this morning. I admit it. I've been smiling all morning and not just because a) this is the last day of school before Christmas vacation, b) there were giant cinnamon rolls in the teacher's room for breakfast, c) I drove my truck to school today, or d) I don't have to work at job #2 tonight. The *real* reason I'm happy?

I slept last night.

The last two nights, actually. I slept through almost the whole night with only minimal dreaming. I didn't wake before the alarm. It was seven hours of pure, unadulterated, uninterrupted sleep.

It's been a long time since I've slept that well.

I am a very light sleeper usually - rolling over will wake me up (me or my husband). I can't seem to get beyond that dream layer of sleep. I dream all night long and remember those dreams in the morning. Most are disturbing/stressful, so I wake feeling no more rested than I did when I went to bed. It sucks.

But for some reason, the last two nights I've been sleeping better than I have in a long time. I don't know if it's because of the upcoming holiday relaxing me, my body finally realizing it needs to rest... whatever the reason, I feel awesome this morning.

How are you?

Friday, December 19, 2008

Asexual Reproduction (of a sort)

I've always believed that blogging begets blogging. People who enter the blogsophere by following one person's blog inevitably create their own. As they get readers (and commenters), their presence in the blogsophere grows, until they are just too big for one blog to handle. It becomes more difficult to remain true to the original blog's intent, and thus another blog is born.

And so it is with me.

This blog was, is, intended to chronicle my life with Bear. To a large extent, it's a blog about Bear, and me, and our adventures together. As much as I love him, he isn't a knitter or a spinner (I'm working on it. Trust me). So where do I blog about my fiber-related adventures?

Here.

I've created that new blog so that this old blog will get back to what it is supposed to be. I love this blog, and I'm sure I will love that blog, too. I hope that those of you who read this one will also read that one, and that any readers I get there will visit me here. And that those new readers will by extension also visit you. Because I love your blogs. All of them. I love reading them, commenting on them, waiting for your newest post. You guys are GREAT at staying true to your bloggy roots - something I'm trying to do here. I want to get back to dishing all of my relationship details and receiving your sage (and sometimes very very funny) advice.

And so, with that in mind, I will post my obligatory Christmas tree photos. These were taken before Briggs and Zedd decided that it wasn't a Christmas tree at all, but a giant holder of cat toys. Bear helped me decorate:

Thursday, December 18, 2008

How?

How do I go Christmas shopping for my husband tonight... when he is going with me? How do I maintain any kind of surprise when he will be in the same stores I will be, and if I leave with a package he will know where it is from, if not what it is. Ugh. Anyone have any suggestions?


~Amalia~

PS If you're having issues with the Google map, try the following: Click view larger image, click the orange man above the zoom meter, then click on one of the placemarkers on the left. It should give you a photo of part of my commute. Look left and right by clicking the arrows on the compass at the top left of the photo. Does that help?

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Drive In

Last Friday school was cancelled. It snowed, rained, froze, all sorts of nasty stuff that makes commuting difficult. Today we have a two-hour delay - in the words of my principal, it's "wicked icy." I waited about 20 minutes past my usual leaving time and headed out. I never know how long it will take me to get to work. I drive forty-one miles (one way) on one of the worst roads in Maine. In summer that can be a forty-five minute drive; in winter, it can take nearly two hours. Even in perfect weather, the road is dangerous - in bad weather it becomes downright deadly.
When I finally get to work, I always get the same questions from the other teachers: "How was the Brownville Road today?" "See any moose?" "I bet your commute was bad today, huh?" I shrug my shoulders, nod an agreement, and drop it.

Because really? I love my drive to work.

I will be the first to admit that I curse the logging trucks and plow trucks that make the drive dangerous for small passenger cars. The road itself isn't paved well, so I have to straddle the center line so I don't go off the road into the ditch. There is a twenty mile stretch where there is no cell phone reception, so if I do go off the road, I have a long walk ahead of me. There are no businesses, only a few year round homes... 95% of my drive is straight through the uninhabited North Maine Woods.

I love it.

Because although there are several difficulties, this road is one of the most beautiful, most interesting, most breathtaking roads I've ever driven on. Each day I see wildlife. Moose, deer, fox, coyote, owls, hawks, eagles, crows, ravens, fishers, otters, ermine, weasels, partridge, quail, turkeys, and more. Just this morning there were two partridge in the road, busily pecking at the salt and sand in the road. They didn't look up as I approached. I pointed my car in between them and drove by. As I looked in my rearview to assure myself that I hadn't hit them, I saw them looking at me, necks outstretched as though trying to figure out what had just gone by.
I drive past three mountains, two rivers, a bog, a flowage, more than one lake, mile after mile of forest. Some of the views I pass every day are stunning regardless of the weather. Mt. Katahdin, the last mountain in the Appalachian chain stands stalwart at the end of my commute. Each fall I wait for the day when the mountain gets its snowy cap. I anticipate the spring moose migration each year - some moose I see often enough to learn a little of his or her personality.

With the world's burgeoning population and global warming affecting the entire planet, I find myself incredibly thankful that I drive the road I do. Nowhere else, maybe anywhere, is the natural world on more perfect display. So when people shake their heads in sympathy for my horrible commute, I let them - it means one less person on my road.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Meh.

Tuesday night on our way home from getting groceries, Bear asked me when we should put our tree up. I shrugged. "I don't really care if we don't put it up at all, actually," I said. "It just seems silly to do all that work for three weeks and then have to take it all down again."
"Are you kidding?" Bear queried.
"No... why?" I asked.
"Because. You're the one who got me back into celebrating Christmas. I didn't celebrate it for years before you. You were the one who insisted that Christmas needs to be celebrated. You made a big deal out of it and made me love it again. Now you're telling me that you don't care?"

It's true. For the first time in my entire life, I do not care about Christmas. I'm not against the idea, but I have no feelings at all either way. It's odd, and it would concern me - but I just can't be bothered to care. I wonder in a detached way why I feel this way, but it's too much work to suss out the reasons so I haven't really bothered. I do feel guilty for disappointing Bear. But should I lie about it? Is it better to pretend to have holiday spirit for his sake or to be honest about it for mine? I don't really know the answer to that question.

I know that part of my ambivalence comes from knowing that we have very *very* little money to spend on gifts. Part of it is because I have no surprise gifts in mind for Bear - he's getting stuff from his list (last year I surprised him with Jeff Dunham tickets and he was THRILLED). A part comes from working two jobs, which leaves me too tired to want to decorate. I'm sure as well that part of my lack of spirit is because of some reason I have yet to discover.

Bear and I are going to the Festival of Lights parade on Saturday night. It's a Christmas parade that culminates in the lighting of the tree in downtown Bangor. I'm looking forward to it, and I hope that it will put a little bit of holiday spirit into my otherwise empty heart. If it doesn't, I don't know what to do to keep from disappointing Bear further.

Monday, December 01, 2008

So how did I do?

Last week I posted all the things I was going to do. Most I accomplished, some I did not.

  • I not only had Saturday off, but Sunday, too. It was wonderful to be able to sleep in both days! Even if by "sleep in" I mean 7:30. It counts!
  • Caitlin's wedding was beautiful - SHE was beautiful. So graceful and elegant. It was a traditional Catholic ceremony, but the deacon was awesome and so it wasn't painful at all. I got to sit with my old band director from high school at the reception. it was AWESOME to see him again, to catch up with what everyone has been up to since graduation. I can't believe it was almost ten years ago! So congrats to Caitlin and her new husband Justin.
  • Bear's Thanksgiving dinner was wonderful. He totally spoiled me and let me eat the skin off the turkey (my favorite part) and didn't complain when I didn't eat the peas he'd specifically cooked for me. I was too full on turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, corn, and yeast rolls (recipe courtesy of suburban turmoil). I did at least make dessert (Toll House Pie. Ever have it? It's delish).
  • The two knitting project completion bullet was a joke. Although I did get a few inches of T-Licious' stole knit, it's far from done and I was too guilty to work on anything else. I still have about a foot to go, plus fringe. I'm going to try to knit at least two rows a day until I get that sucker done! Bear's trigger finger mitten #2 was the other project... it's about two hours of knitting away from completion. I'll get to it soon, I hope.
  • I got to see my cousins Aaron and Carly on the Martha Stewart show. They even got invited to her farm! To help her out! It was pretty cool. You can visit Aaron and Carly's website at www.tidemillorganicfarm.com. They are amazing.
  • I got my spindle, and it hasn't been far from me since. I LOVE spinning on this thing! For those of you in the [knitting] know, it's a 0.95 oz. Golding spindle. It's aMAZing. Truly.
  • The kitchen table was cleaned off, but it beginning to accumulate crap already. I'll try to clean it off again tonight when I get home. Promise.
  • Laundry isn't completely folded yet. The big stuff is... I just hate matching up socks.
  • I slept in Wednesday! Woo hoo!
  • Sweeny Todd was great. I really loved it. I have several bits and pieces of the songs stuck in my head. It kinda sucks, but at least they are good songs! Plus, Johnny Depp is welcome to stick in my head (or anywhere) any time he wants.
How did you guys make out this weekend? How was Hawaii, Alice?

Monday, November 24, 2008

This Week I Am...

  • spinning fiber into yarn (an early Christmas gift for me)
  • working every day but Saturday
  • going to a good friend from high school's wedding on my day off
  • eating my first Thanksgiving dinner at my own home (Bear is cooking)
  • completing two knitting projects (I hope)
  • watching my cousin and his wife appear on the Martha Stewart Show
  • getting my own spindle (instead of the borrowed one I'm using)
  • cleaning the kitchen table off
  • folding the eight loads of laundry we did yesterday
  • sleeping in Wednesday morning
  • watching Sweeny Todd (we've had it since May and haven't watched it).


What are you doing this week?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Great Christmas Cotastrophe of 2008

Every year near Christmas time, something magical happens. I'm not referring to Jolly Ol' St. Nick or his eight tiny reindeer - I'm referring to the financial crisis that occurs every holiday season just as we begin to buy gifts for people and each other.

Last year, the cost of heating oil was shooting up and up. I was forced to get a second job and pay for oil a hundred gallons at a time, because we had no money to prebuy and oil companies were refusing to do budget plans. My car needed several repairs and we had very little money to spend on Christmas. We persevered, however, and although it put us further in debt, gave each other the very best Christmas we could.

This year is a little different, in that Bear is taking care of the heating bill this winter. We're still buying a hundred gallons at a time, but the cost is less per gallon and still going down. We may sign up to do a budget plan at a later date. No, this year, we got a letter from the town saying that we haven't paid our taxes from 2006. 2006! The letter said we have until December 15th to come up with $1,200 dollars to pay the bill or they are going to take our house.

I didn't even know they could do that!

Our home is paid for - there is no mortgage. Our annual tax bill is around $900. Since we didn't pay it, fees and interest brought the bill to the $1,200 we now owe. I just about fell down when I read the letter. Normally I wouldn't open a letter addressed solely to my husband, but this time I did. I was glad I did. I was sorry I did.

You see, I leave it to my husband to pay all the bills from the town - taxes, sewer, and water. These bills are some of "his" bills. I tend to pretend they do not exist. He doesn't pay my credit card bills, cell phone bill, or internet bill - we divide and conquer. I have a terrible tendency to ignore what he is and isn't paying until I cannot any longer (like the time the Satellite Dish was shut off for nonpayment, or the time we got a letter from the town telling us they were going to shut our water off in 24 hours if we didn't pay immediately). Is this tax bill Bear's fault? Yes. He chose not to pay it (for very good reasons, I am sure). But is it also my fault for ignoring bills that affect me, too? Yes again. I should have checked, asked, investigated ... and I didn't.

We paid what money we had on us, and are now left with a bill for $850. All the money that was going to go to Christmas gifts for Bear and I will go to this bill, as well as money usually spent other places. We're getting rid of the satellite dish (what good is a dish with no house to put it on?) We have just under a month to scrounge up the rest of the money. We can do it, but it's going to be tight. I am so pissed at the both of us - Bear for not paying this bill and myself for not asking him about it, that I'm ready to say a big "fuck you" to Christmas this year. Seriously - what's the point if there are no presents to give? We will of course be taking care of our extended families, but for us, there will be no presents under the tree. And maybe that's the way it should be; maybe we need to see the bare, uncovered tree skirt, and allow it to remind us that presents are only good if you have a house to open them in.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

No more Lookits, I promise


I know that my non-knitting blog followers are probably getting heartily sick of my incessant knitting-related posts. So I'm done. For now. Unless I knit some booties for a friend's baby, but everyone loves baby booties, right?


I feel like I need John Cleese in here to say, "And now for something completely different."


I love John Cleese. He's definitely my favorite of all of the Monty Pythoners, Eric Idle included. I just heart him. Don't you? All things Monty Python make me laugh. He was just the best at it.

Do you know who else I love? Super Grover.



I wish Super Grover would fly into my house once in a while. I could use his superpowers! I especially love the lightning bolt behind the letter G on his chest. I wonder... is that a tattoo? He's not wearing a shirt...

Finally, let me tell you about one more thing I love:


Peanut butter balls. These aren't mine (mine are better looking and darker, as I use dark chocolate), but you get the idea. I made 48 of the little buggers last night, and all but about a dozen are gone. A dozen each went to two co-workers of Bear's another dozen went into Bear, Snake, and I, and another dozen are at home. I use Reese's Peanut Butter and Hershey's Special Dark chocolate... it creates a rich, decadent treat that isn't too sweet. I serve them chilled.
Hungry yet?

~Amalia~

PS A quick update on my pregnant friend - she is still pregnant, although she has been having some troublesome bleeding. Mostly, she's overdoing. A doctor's appointment this week should tell her more. I think she will have to quit one of her two jobs. The baby is doing well, though, and growing like a weed. It has doubled in size from one ultrasound to the next! Keep it up, Baby. Only 27 more weeks to go.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

It's Election Day!

And no, I'm not going to tell you who to vote for, or even pressure you into voting period. I am excited about voting this year, though - it's the first presidential election where I will be voting FOR someone instead of AGAINST someone. I wanted to vote right after school, but Bear is making me wait until he gets home so we can vote together. Grrr. I haven't turned on any election coverage, so I don't know who's winning (if they even have any idea yet). It's easy to get burned out on the coverage, I think. Don't you agree? Too many experts, too little valuable data.

I have the next two nights off from Rite Aid, so I'll be able to get a bit of my household work done - Alice, dishes are at the top of the list. So is vacuuming the livingroom and working on the laundry pile. After that, I think I will knit some. I need to get a lot of knitting done these next couple of days, because I'm getting some more fiber soon to spin into yarn (a silk, wool, merino, and bamboo blend), and since it's a new hobby, I'm totally obsessed with it. If I work *VERY* hard the next two weeks on T-Licious' shawl, I may be able to get it done. It's past time, really.


I know that I haven't been good about commenting on others' blogs recently, and I apologize. I love comments on mine. Please know that I am reading you and loving you, even though I'm not commenting. I will try to do better.

~Amalia~

Monday, November 03, 2008

It's November!

It's November in the Bear household. That means that over the next 30 or so days, I'll be doing the following:

  • Voting (Election day is tomorrow - get out and VOTE!)
  • Giving a presentation at an inservice day at school on 11/7
  • Finishing my twelve-day stretch of working at least one job every day
  • Staying home from school on 11/11, Veteran's Day. I will call my daddy to thank him.
  • Completing the winterization of the house by putting plastic over our drafty windows
  • Updating my Christmas list
  • Begin shopping for Christmas gifts for my family and Bear's
  • Getting a new-to-us fridge from Bear's Godparents
  • Visiting my brother and sister-in-law
  • Finishing T-Licious' wedding shawl (it was supposed to be done 10/11)
  • Figuring out what Bear and I are doing for Thanksgiving
  • Going to my friend Caitlin's wedding
  • Knitting my entrelac scarf
  • Working, working, working
It's the last item that's been the toughest lately. I haven't had a day off since October 26, and won't until November 8. I feel like when I type it, it doesn't sound so bad, but the reality is that I can't get anything accomplished at home because I'm working so much, and if I'm not working, I'm too tired to do anything. There are dishes by the sink that have been waiting more than a week to be washed. The floor needs vacuuming, the laundry pile is bigger than I am... there's a lot that needs to be done. Sometimes I'm so overwhelmed I just sit down and look at it all. I don't know where to begin! I think I need someone to tell me what to do first. Then maybe I could get something accomplished.

~Amalia~

PS A reminder to Bear - we need to pick our favorite photos to be made into 8x10s tonight to tell your aunt.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Lookit what I made, part II!




These are two pumpkins I carved yesterday. The first one is pretty traditional - I used a pumpkin carving kit and template. It's pretty cute. The second one was my husbands idea - if you are a fan of KoRn (the band), you'll recognize the little figure on my pumpkin and the band logo behind it. It took me about three hours to carve this one! I cut out the logo backwards in the backside of the pumpkin so that when the candle is in it, it glows on the wall behind it. The figure in front (the unhappiness doll) is actually the peel of the pumpkin - I shaved out around him with a lemon zester so that the white part of the pumpkin was exposed. That allowed it to glow like it does. Click on it to make it bigger. I am SO PROUD OF THIS PUMPKIN! It is yet another example of how together, Bear and I make awesomeness happen.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Lookit what I made!

Some of you may remember me mentioning that I knit. Well, I have decided that knitting isn't enough - I want to make the yarn that I knit with. So I learned! Using a *very* simple tool and a bit of wool that has been cleaned, carded and dyed, I made this:


Sorry for the blurriness. As you can see, it's a pretty thick yarn. So I went online and asked around and watched videos until I had learned enough to make a thinner yarn, and ply it against itself to make it a regular yarn. Here's what I came up with:



Isn't it pretty? It isn't a lot, but I'm hoping it will be enough for a headband. I'll post picks when I am done making it. I really am having an awesome time with this new "craft." Does anyone else make things? Are you as obsessed with it as I am?

Friday, October 24, 2008

Mixed Blessings

Several years of trying.
Two years of fertility treatments.
Month after month of hoping and praying, only to be disappointed again.
Becoming resigned to never being a mother.
Being diagnosed with colitis.
Losing weight rapidly, unable to eat much.
One doctor appointment after another.
Many different medications.
The first period in two years.
Starting birth control, because new meds cause birth defects.
More weight loss, more pain.
Nausea.
More doctor's appointments.
Diagnosis:
Pregnant.

Congratulations, Amanda, on this new adventure in your life. I know you're scared and thrilled and panicked and blissful all at once. If there is anyone who can handle this, it's you. So as you wait the thirty-one more weeks you must until you meet your little one, know that I (and so many others) are pulling for you.


FYI: At nine weeks, the baby is doing well, and there don't appear to be any problems. Amanda is seeing an ob/gyn who specializes in high-risk pregnancy. We're keeping our fingers crossed and hoping that all of our good wishes will help produce a healthy, happy baby at the end of May.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The day that doesn't end...

Today will not end. I've been at school all day, forever, an eternity... and I still have more than an hour to go. This day has sucked from the get-go and hasn't gotten any better. I'm tired of administering testing (which I do the whole month of October), I'm tired of kids not doing their homework, I'm tired of this one specific student that is a danger and a threat to others not being expelled as he should be. I'm just tired. I have to work at Rite Aid tonight, and then get through Friday before I can relax. I don't know if I'll be able to do it. Yesterday I had detention duty (which due to a faulty calendar I didn't know about), so I had to drive 75 mph to get to job #2 in time. I'm lucky I didn't hit a moose. I haven't gotten the mail this week, I haven't washed any dishes, I haven't done a lot of things. I'm rapidly becoming overwhelmed.

Monday, October 20, 2008

How Cute Are We?





Oooh, do I have a treat for YOU!

I had Saturday off from work. It was a beautiful day - the sun was shining, the air was crisp. Bear and I left the house early - me in my pajamas, nursing a coffee and nibbling on some monkey bread we brought with us - to scout out the foliage at Katahdin Iron Works, a local forest/campground/mountain/former iron works area. We found some pretty spots, even though the foliage here in Maine is past peak. We drove back home, squinting from the sun gleaming off of the frosted grass and trees. We changed, I straightened my hair, and we left again. This time we brought some more clothes and picked up Bear's aunt. A photographer. We went back to KI (as it's called by the locals) and stopped at the first of several picturesque locations.

And had our pictures taken.

We haven't been photographed since our wedding, and have no "normal" shots of the two of us. We remedied this yesterday. 115 shots, and they were all awesome. I will be posting several of my favorites this afternoon. Maybe you could help me decide which you like best?

~Amalia~

Friday, October 17, 2008

Best. Timesuck. Ever.

This is the best little timesuck I've ever had the pleasure of becoming addicted to. Enjoy!

~Amalia~

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A moment of Altruism

So I was cruising around the internet this morning and came across this. You can win it if you put a comment under the post, and earn a few more by blogging about it and putting the banner on your blog (as I did, because I want it). Good luck!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Here!

For all my wedding extravaganza photos, follow the link to my Flickr account. Enjoy!



~Amalia~

Wedding Post #1

Dear Mark and Tara,
Congratulations. You did it. You got through all of the planning, drama, and surprises and were married in a beautiful ceremony by the sea at sunset. You spoke vows you'd written yourselves and shared your love for each other in front of all your family and friends. Some of those friends shared words they'd written to honor you. We all celebrated your love along with you, enjoying good food, better dancing, and the best people. Through the day, your love was as brilliant as the foliage around you. You were beautiful. You are beautiful.

Congratulations.

Love,
Heather




Tuesday, October 07, 2008

I'm gonna kill her.

Swear to God, I fucking HATE my mother.

No, really, I mean it.

Yes, I do.

Hate.


My mother can aggravate me more than any other person on the planet. No one has the ability to take me from placid to enraged in under six seconds like she does. The latest fiasco, you ask?
I am a plan maker. Especially when timing is tricky. Like this wedding week extravaganza that I'm leaving for tonight. Different things are planned for every day, and the timing of each has been tricky to coordinate. Thursday, for example, I am supposed to meet my parents at the tux rental place at nine a.m. so Daddy can make sure his tux fits, and I can get mom's gift for Tara and the cupcake holders that I need for the bridal shower cupcakes. The bridal shower is at 11:30, so I'll have to be there by 11:00 to get things set up. That doesn't leave a lot of time for doing what's necessary and getting from here to there.
I just got an email from my mother saying that she is "sending Daddy to get his tux noon-ish. He will give you the gift for Tara and the cupcake holders then." WHAT?! That's too late! What the HELL?! We had a plan, it was perfect. Then Mom screws it up. She does this All. The. Time. I sent her an email back that said, "Um, Mom, what happened to you both being there early in the morning? I NEED to have the holders and gift BEFORE 11:30 as that's when the shower starts. I'm kinda FREAKING OUT HERE, MOM. Help!"

I texted Bear, frantic.

What am I going to do?!? I kept thinking. Tara's sisters are going to KILL me.

Thankfully, Bear came to the rescue, as he so often does. He called me and told me to tell Mom that we would stop by her house on the way down tonight (it's about ten miles out of the way, but whatever) and pick up the holders and gift. That way we know we have them and can avoid any problems on Thursday. It sucks because now I won't get a chance to see my dad until Saturday, but I've got to do what's best for Tara. I hate that Mom gets out of having to work around someone else's schedules as always, but I should know by now that she is not trustworthy. Gah! Jesus, she freakin' pisses me off! Anyone ELSE have a horrible mother story to share and make me feel better?

Monday, October 06, 2008

Scrambling for purchase


You know in action movies when characters are climbing a rock face and they are hanging on by their finger and toe tips to some sheer face, a moment away from falling to their deaths? Yeah, that’s kind of where I am right now. Not a literal rock face, because how could I type this to you if I were? Rather, a figurative rock face. The rock? My emotional state. The fall I’m worried about? Depression.

For the last several weeks, I’ve been struggling against the fall of depression. I have been unaccountably sad for no easily discernible reason for weeks now. I’m near tears for most of each day, and have to blink them back at least twice daily. Why? I’ve been asking that question a lot lately, trying to find out why I’m on this rock face and how to get the hell off of it. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far:

Saturday, Bear went with his friend A to Southern Maine for the day. He’s been friends with A for years (long before I met him) and they haven’t had much of an opportunity to hang out lately. I had to work Saturday, so I couldn’t go. I thought I was okay with them going – why wouldn’t I? Well, Bear and A have history, complete with italics. A is a girl. A girl whom he has intimate knowledge of. That thing you’re thinking? Yeah, they did that. I know it was years ago, I know it was “no big deal”, I know that my husband is trustworthy. I am a confident woman who is assured of her place in her husband’s heart. And yet Saturday morning when I woke up, I felt sick. I kept wondering what they were doing, where they were at that moment, if she looked particularly good that day, if he’d worn the cologne that drives me crazy (he did. I’m not sure what to make of that). I was devastated, almost as if he and A were doing something they weren’t supposed to, as if it were a foregone conclusion. It was apparent to me that despite my saying so, I was not okay with them being alone together. I tried so hard not to let Bear know. I tried so hard not to be that girl who doesn’t allow her husband to hang out with women. I trust him, so what was the deal? I don’t know. I still can’t figure it out. After he got home and I got home from work, I still wasn’t okay. Two days later and I’m STILL not okay. Last night I basically forced him to have sex with me, but didn’t get what I was after. In my mind, it felt perfunctory, like he was doing it to shut me up or placate me or something. If Bear is reading this right now, he’s pissed. Because he doesn’t operate that way. He doesn’t have a dishonest bone in his body and he’s quite rightly pissed right now that I can think like this. I don’t blame him – all of my issues are in my head. I made them up. The issue with A? Nonexistent. Obligatory sex? He would never do that. So what the HELL is my issue? And why can’t I get past this? If I can’t figure out the answers to these questions, things are going to get bad fast between us. If I keep looking at him and wondering, what if, I’m going to drive him away.

Secondary to all this, Bear and I are heading to my brother’s wedding. It is a five day extravaganza and will be the first time in over a year I’ve had this much time off. Bear wants to spend time together, just the two of us. So do I. Unfortunately I have obligations (I’m a bridesmaid). And my obligations get more complicated and involved as I get closer to this trip. I feel like this trip is going to disappoint Bear. I have developed an intense anxiety about disappointing him. And, just like the situation with A, it feels inside as though it is a foregone conclusion. It’s a desperate feeling, and it’s one I cannot shake. It feels as though I’m losing my grip on the rockface and I don’t know how to keep from falling.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Scratch that

I had a post going about laundry, of all things. Upon re-reading it, I realized how boring it was so I deleted it. You're welcome! Instead, I thought I'd fill you in on my Christmas list. Yes, I've started it. Hasn't everyone?

  • First, there's this, which will take my knitting to the next level.
  • While we're on the topic, I'd like to try one of these, too (it's for spinning fiber into yarn).
  • Of course, then I'll need some fiber to spin (the example is just that - I'm not picky about composition or color).
  • When I'm not knitting, I love to read. This would make reading much more economical! Well, I would at least make up the cost of the thing with the cheaper book prices.
  • My truck, Burke, deserves a gift, too, don't you think?
  • There's a bunch of other stuff on my list, too. Just take a peek here, would you?
What do you want for Christmas? No asking for world peace or love of family, either - I want your Id to tell me what STUFF you selfishly want this year! Cheryl, Alice - I'm talking to YOU.

~Amalia~

Monday, September 29, 2008

Don't Judge, just vote.

I need your help. Don't judge. Don't question - just vote. Go to www.badknitgirls.com and click on my banner (Boutrosbabe, the first one). Yes, I knit, yes, I have a tattoo, yes I'm a dork. Just vote for me, okay? Thanks.

~Amalia~

Apple Bread, anyone?

I made apple bread yesterday. It is a quick bread (no yeast required), so it took next to no time to prepare. I did have the help of my beloved Bear and Kitchenaid Mixer, which I admit helped. When the hour went by, this came out:


Doesn't it look yummy? It isn't as sweet as I'd thought it would be, but there's no sugar in the recipe so it makes sense. I plan on making it again this week, and may add a bit of brown sugar to the recipe to heighten the flavor. I'll probably make several loaves to share with people and use up some of our apples. We still have probably 15 pounds after two pies, a loaf of bread and a big bag given to Bear's aunt and uncle. If my brother and T-licious decide to visit us before the wedding next weekend, I'll have to give some to them, too.

Bear and I had an awesome day yesterday, despite working the whole day and getting off to kind of a shaky start. We both woke up grumpy because we were forced to sleep in the guest bed Saturday night. Why? Because we got a ton of rain this weekend, and when it rains the roof leaks ONTO my bed (it drips down the light fixture - not a good situation). So Saturday while I was at work, Bear pulled the light out of the ceiling to avoid an electrical fire and put a bucket on the bed to catch the drips. Sunday morning we went to breakfast because we were too tired to cook and because we desperately need to get groceries. While there, we discussed what to do. The conclusion we came to is that we would have to switch bedrooms. This is not an easy task. Our bed frame alone weighs over two hundred pounds (Bear made it out of hardwood lumber). There was a huge chest of drawers we had to remove, two bed sets, etc., etc. We did it though. We worked for about six hours and got everything moved around. What is now the guest room is still a complete wreck, but we can't really put it together until the roof stops leaking anyway. Our new room looks amazing. It will take some getting used to, but so far, I like it. I'll have to take pictures to show everyone. Throughout the day, I kept expecting Bear to get frustrated (or for me to). but we maintained good humor the entire time and spent much of the day being affectionate and cuddly. I love when that happens! It made what could have been a stressful day a delightful one.

Love.

~Amalia~

Friday, September 26, 2008

Grammie Ruth's Apple Pie

Here you go, Alice, as a reward for running! And because I told you I would.

Grammie Ruth's Apple Pie

Filling:
6-8 apples (macs and cortlands work best), peeled and sliced
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup sugar
4 Tbsp. flour
1 &1/2 tsp. lemon juice
sprinkle brown sugar
1 tsp. each cinnamon and nutmeg

Mix well and put in crust. cover with second crust. Cut slits into top crust for venting. Bake 1 hour in a 400 degree oven. If crust browns too quickly, cover loosely with foil.

Crust:
2 & 1/4 cups flour
1 cup Crisco shortening
1 tsp. salt
1 egg, beaten
cold water

Beat egg and place in a 1/2 cup. fill almost to the top with cold water. Blend into the flour/crisco mix until all is just mixed. Pull out onto floured surface and knead until almost smooth. Roll flat with rolling pin. Makes top and bottom crust.

My gram is famous for using very few directions... it took me a while to figure out how to cut each crust out. enjoy the challenge!

~Amalia~

Email me if you need help! boutrosbabe@hotmail.com

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Hi

Just a short post this morning, since I will be posting my grammie's apple pie recipe for Alice laster this afternoon. I'm also going to make Apple crumble. We picked 32 pounds of apples, remember? Since Alice is a newlywed, she deserves a killer pie recipe to wow her husband with.

Maybe another time, I'll share Gram's international favorite Dog-Turd Cookie recipe.

Just don't tell her I called it that. That name isn't the one she uses with company. She is horrified by the delight I experience in calling them that. To the rest of the world, they are called no-bake cookies.

I like my name better, don't you?

~Amalia~

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Morning.

I don't have anything particularly witty or entertaining today. Sorry. Life has been busy as always (is there anyone in America who thinks they have enough time for all they need to do?), but nothing major is going on. The truck is fixed, $560 later. We had to use all the money we had saved for M and T-Licious' wedding, so we are back to square one there with only two and a half weeks to go.
We went apple picking on Saturday after I got out of work, which was a good time. I baked two apple pies, but didn't manage to take a picture of either one before they were gone. One went to Bear's aunt and uncle, the other went into our bellies. Yum! We picked thirty-two pounds of apples, though, so no worries - I'll make another one. If you really kiss my ass, maybe I'll post my grammie's secret pie recipe. I even make the crust! Well, sometimes I do.
I went running on Friday and it was good, although I have lost all the stamina I once had. I was up to 43 minutes of straight running, if I remember correctly. I ran six straight minutes on Friday before I had to take a break. The cooler air sets my lungs on fire. I need to toughen up! I am planning on running again tonight, and I'm shooting for seven straight minutes of running. Friday I ran 6, walked 2, ran 5, walked 3, ran 3, walked the rest. I'm kind of ashamed of myself, actually.
I've been knitting like a madwoman lately to complete one of the four knitting projects I have to complete before Bear will allow me to buy any more yarn. I wish at times I only had one job or I could knit while driving, because it takes SO LONG to complete a single project! I always find ten projects I want to do before I ever finish the one I'm working on. I've completed ONE of the four projects so far, and am about 35% through this one. Sigh. Wish me luck! Actually, kick my ass and make me knit, won't you? I respond much better to ass kicking than ass kissing. Damn.

That's all that's going on in my world ... sorry it isn't more exciting. What's going on with you?

~Amalia~

Friday, September 19, 2008

I TOLD you there was a silver lining!

After 34 days of waiting (I said 33 yesterday, but I forgot that August has 31 days in it), I finally got my new sneakers. It is a good thing, too. Here are my old ones:

See the giant holes under my big toes? Yep. I wore these poor things OUT! It didn't help that I wear them to school and Rite Aid a lot, either. My NEW sneakers will be JUST for running. Look at how pretty they are:





What do you think?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Okay, enough.

Okay. Two days of ceaseless bitching has taken its toll. I needed to vent (I'm probably not done venting yet, actually), but tonight I'm mostly waiting for the upswing. After things suck, they get better, right? I sure could use some of that right now. My truck is being repaired by a mechanic I trust for a *much* more reasonable rate than the other place quoted me. My mechanic, Mikey, is sweet and trustworthy (if you can get past the fact that he likes to show his penis "Duke" to everyone), and is saving me quite a bit of money. I'm so grateful to him right now, he could show me Duke right now and I wouldn't even mind. I'm that thankful.
My sneakers came today - thirty-three days after I ordered them. I will be taking and posting pictures of them tomorrow. As soon as I get home tomorrow, I'm going to run. And I'm going to KEEP running. Until I feel better. Until I can't run any more. Until my head clears and I'm in a better place. Because I need to be. Because I want to be.

All I have to do is get through tomorrow. If I can make it to 3pm, I'll have made it. Made it to the weekend and made it home. I just have to get to 3pm. Wish me luck!

~Amalia~

PS Thanks to all who offered words of encouragement... it was noticed and appreciated.

Shit, Shit, Shit

I shouldn't have complained. Because as bad as yesterday was when I blogged, it got a HELL of a lot worse. Since I last blogged:

  • My truck broke down. On my way to my inservice training.
  • I sliced my hand open with a box cutter at Rite Aid. Kinda bad. Like, hurts every time I move it bad.
  • This morning, after calling the garage, I find they want to charge me $500 JUST for parts to fix the damn thing!!!!!!! It just needs a fuel pump and sender. It CAN'T cost that much. Oh, and the best part? That's just the price for the PARTS. That doesn't even cover LABOR.
I FUCKING HATE MY FUCKING LIFE!!!!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Can you believe it happened AGAIN?


Okay, so I'm not done with the Finish Line fiasco - I'm still waiting for my shoes. Hopefully they will be at the post office today. If not, I'm going to be ripped. I am waiting for another package, though... this one from Borders. It hasn't arrived yet, either.

Grrr.

On both packages, I listed my PO box as my shipping address. NEITHER website had a problem with this, or bothered to mention that they use UPS and Fed Ex instead of the good ol' Postal Service. Crap, crap, crap. Finish Line lost my package before it could become a problem. I haven't heard from Borders yet. Why don't websites say who they ship through? I figured if it wasn't listed, it came via regular mail. MOST companies will tell you if they can't ship it to the address listed. These two? Nope. So now I have no sneakers and no book.

It's gonna be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Finish Line, Shoe Puveyor from Hell

I ordered new sneakers on August 15th. I ordered them from Finish Line, because they had free shipping and I didn't want to drive three hours South to get them from the one store in Maine that carries them (Finish Line doesn't carry them in their stores. Go figure).

I STILL do not have them!

UPS lost the package in New Jersey, a trace had to be put on the package, yada yada yada... I've been dealing with this for weeks. I'm so fucking FED UP! I just want my FUCKING SNEAKERS. I haven't run in over a month because my current sneakers are so crappy they hurt just to stand in, let alone run. I am calling Finish Line again today - if they don't give me my sneakers, they can go fuck themselves and give me my money back. I HATE them.

Assholes.


Arg!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Saw it and had to share

Does anyone else think this is freakin' HILARIOUS?

I have a person!

Do you know what I did yesterday? I spent the day with my two most favorite people - my husband and my sister. Okay, so she isn't my sister technically. But I'm closer to her than I am to most of my family, so I say she counts.
Bear and I went to Houlton where T-licious (her new nickname per her request) is living now to spend time and eat. And eat. And eat! Have I mentioned that T-licious is Italian? Homemade artichoke dip, minestrone soup, stuffed shells with tomato sauce... rich, decadent, delicious, amazing food. I'm up three pounds over yesterday. We ate, and laughed, and talked, and snuggled. We caught up on what was going on and I (at least) got my fix of the woman who has become a vital part of me. I finally understand for the first time in my life what it means to have a sister. What it's like to have someone know what you're thinking without ever having to say it. To know that no matter what comes, no matter what the world throws at me, she will be there at my back. Loving me. Because we're sisters.

Have you ever watched Grey's Anatomy? If you have, then you know that early on in season one, Christina tells Meredith that she is Christina's emergency contact. "You're my person," she says. That means something. It means that nothing is allowed to be in between the two of them - it's full disclosure, full support, full... everything. It goes beyond mere friendship. T-licious is my person. I love having a person and I love that it's her.

T-licious has two other real-life sisters who I'm sure would be unhappy if they saw this blog. to them I say, "Tough!" I am totally selfish and am keeping her for myself. They've had her for more than twenty years. I just got her. You can ask for her back in a couple of decades -
-but I'm not giving her back.

~Amalia~

Friday, September 12, 2008

Food pics (For Alice and Eileen)

Be warned - these things taste MUCH better than they look, which means they kinda look like crap. Taking photos for a cooking magazine will never be one of my jobs. Here's the Alaskan Blueberry Coffee Cake:
Obviously I need to grease the pan next time. I don't just bake, you know. I make my own trail mix, too. This one has almonds, pine nuts, chocolate chips, coconut, and organic granola:
The best snacks, however, have always been made by Little Debbie:
~Amalia~

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Okay, here they are! The promised pics


Cow. Okay, so it's a moose, but it's a GIRL moose, and we call them cows. Doesn't seem very nice, does it?


Bear's birthday pile. Notice its absurdly minuscule dimensions.


My husband. Isn't he a dreamboat? I heart him. So much.

My sweet truck. His name is Burke. I heart him, too.

Yup.

Briggs doesn't just sleep WITH her brother... she sleeps ON him, too.


When he's not around, she sleeps like this. Looks like it hurts, doesn't it?


Flowers from my yard. Anyone know what they are?


Alice - I haven't forgotten you want pics of my food. I'm making the Alaskan Blueberry Coffee Cake in a few minutes, and will post pics of of it tomorrow.
Sorry, Fox, no sexy pics. There's always next time, right? ;-)

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Phew!

My little gecko must be the luckiest little guy on the planet. Not only did I find him alive and well yesterday (he was pretty thirsty, but otherwise fine), but that's not his first miraculous survival.

Yesterday when I got home from school, I headed straight to the bathroom (it's a long drive, okay?). My hellcat Briggs was in there, staring very intently and unmoving at something underneath the washing machine. I knew it might be Shota, so I shushed Briggs out of the bathroom while I finished up, and then grabbed a flashlight and laid on the floor to look under there. Ever looked under your washing machine? I don't recommend it (*shudder*). No Shota. Hmm. I was about to mark it up to Briggs being crazy, then had the thought that I might as well check behind the washer while I had the flashlight handy. I stood up, leaned over and shined the light. Down there, on the floor, in the back corner, I could see... something. It might have been Shota's tail; it might have been a sliver of an old pizza crust (I told you not to look there!). I reached for a nearby mop handle to poke the thing and see if it moved, but in the second I looked away, it had disappeared. Yes! I thought. Shota is under the washer. I shut the door to keep the cats out and went to my other job, since there was no way I could move that washer by myself.
When I got home, Bear informed me that Shota was still in the bathroom but no longer under the washer - he was on the towel stand. He'd apparently given Bear a good approximation of a glare from his new perch when Bear went in there upon coming home that evening. Bear was not about to try to catch him (he's not a fan of things that crawl), but was willing to help me guide him to a container. We went in to the bathroom, located my dearest little guy, and without too much trouble got him into a temporary tub so that I could tote him safely to his regular cage. We got him in, watered, and fed him without any drama. What a relief!

Thank you for your concern, all of you - I appreciate it. I will post pictures from the weekend tomorrow, as I promised you on Friday. I took LOTS of pictures (including an absolutely adorable one of Bear).

I

Monday, September 08, 2008

Oh, Shit.


I took pictures this weekend, and was going to post them. I still will, but today I need your help:

Shota has escaped.

Shota is my crested gecko. This morning when I woke up, his spray bottle and another bottle had been knocked off the shelf next to his cage (likely perpetrator: the cats), and his cage door was wide open. Shota is nowhere to be found. I'm shitting bricks. If he's alive, he could be anywhere. If he's not... well, then I need to find his remains. I really, REALLY hope he will go back into his cage when he tires of his jaunt; I don't hold out much hope of that happening.

Poor little guy. I'm sure he's scared witless.

~Amalia~

PS The pic above isn't him, but it's what he looks like. Will you let me know if you see him? I'd really like him to come home!!

Friday, September 05, 2008

Ahh, Friday...

I love Friday. I get to wear jeans to work, I wake with the knowledge that tomorrow I get to sleep in, it's Horny Day (!), Bear gets out of work a half-hour early, and I can stay up late because I don't have to get up at 5:45am to get ready for school. Friday pretty much rocks. I have a lot of plans for this weekend. Here's what I'm doing:

1. Taking a slew of pictures to post for my blogger friends. What do you want to see?
2. Laundry. I hate it, but it's almost caught up. I need to get it done!
3. Baking. Cookies, some sort of blueberry dish (coffee cake? Crumble? Crisp? Muffins?), even a baked ham. Okay, so it's baked hamsteaks. Close enough.
4. Mowing the lawn one last time. Maybe.
5. Playing with my cats. They have been neglected lately.
6. Sex. As much as possible.
7. Sleep. Ditto.
8. Apple picking? Hint, hint, Bear!!

What are your weekend plans?

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Thanks, Alice

Alice from Wandering Wonderland asked what I was looking forward to this Fall. Since I've been so down about school starting up again and hating that summer is over, I thought it would be a good exercise. Here's my list:
  • Football.
  • Apple pie.
  • Early morning sun gilding the night's frost.
  • Scarves.
  • Mittens.
  • Pumpkins.
  • The crisp breeze that blows just enough to make fallen leaves dance wildly.
  • My brother's wedding.
  • Tara becoming my sister.
  • The anticipation of the first snow.
  • Apple picking.
  • Wearing socks to bed.
  • Big sweaters.
  • Wood fires.
  • The brilliance of autumn foliage.
  • Early sunsets.
  • Love.
What are you looking forward to this Fall?

Friday, August 29, 2008

Happy Birthday to You...


Today is Bear's BIRTHDAY!
Happy 25th, Baby!
I know you don't get excited about your birthday, but I do - because I love you, and I love any excuse to spoil you. Unfortunately, our financial situation makes any real spoiling out of the question, but there's always next year for those Patriots tickets, right? :0) I hope you are able to enjoy your day and accept that there are so many people who love you and who want your day to be as special to you as you are to them. You are the child that your village raised, and they are so proud of the man you have become. Let them spoil you a little bit today, too, won't you? As for me, today is the day I get to celebrate the birth of the man who has made me happier than I have any right being, who has shown me what true love is. Happy Birthday, Baby. Thanks for being here.

I love you,

~Amalia~

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

School

Today was my third day back to school, and the first one with actual students. It was only the handful of freshmen I have here today, but at least it was something. I have to tell you, this year has started out even worse than I anticipated.

First and most frustrating is the $820 or so of MISSING school supplies that I ordered and that were approved in the budget. Where are my things? What happened to the money for those things since I don't have those things? What is FREAKING going ON?!

We have a new principal, which is both good and bad. I think he is going to be a much stronger and upfront leader (we may actually know what is going on this year), but he has no idea what the last principal did (namely to the aforementioned supplies). I am going to cross my fingers that things go well. What else can I do?

I am being forced to pay union dues as though I were a full time teacher instead of a half time one (which I am). what was $186 taken out of my salary this year is now going to total $500. Oh, and when I mentioned that I may just drop out of the union altogether, I was "strongly encouraged" to stick with it, since my "name had come up on a couple of occasions in confidential meetings." That's code for: someone's trying to find a way to screw you, so you'd better cover your ass. Fabulous.

We have no contract right now, and probably won't until January or February. The payscale is frozen, which thanks to my increased union dues actually means I am making LESS money than I was last year. I am not surprised, but I am frustrated.

So where does all this leave me? I'm not sure. I don't know what I am going to do with my students yet. I am hoping against hope that they will be my saving grace this year - that they will be sweet enough or at least good natured enough to get me through this. If the kids are bad, too, I will have a hard time finding the strength to make it through this year.

I wish I had better news for you all. I will try to blog again tomorrow once I've had an actual day of school with all of my students. I hope it will be a good one!

Friday, August 22, 2008

You know what I think?

  • I think that life isn't fair.
  • And that chocolate shouldn't be fattening.
  • And that no matter how hard I try, I'll never live up to my expectations.
  • And romance novels are a cruel trick, because the men in them don't freaking exist!
  • Even if they are hot.
  • And even if I am way better in the sack than the heroines are.
  • Way better.
  • And that it doesn't matter how much or little sleep I get, because I will always be tired when I wake up.
  • I'd make a great romance novelist.
  • If I could write.
  • And I could totally be discovered by a music executive if I sing in my car with the windows open, really loudly.
  • and that finally, finally (!) I have fan-fucking-tastic hair.
  • Especially right before I have to go to bed.

~Amalia~

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

What is it about this time of year? What is it about the end of summer and beginning of a new school year that depresses the hell out of me? Why am I so dissatisfied with everything while simultaneously unwilling to do anything about it?
Shouldn't I be excited to go back to school? No see my new students, to do what I'm good at? I'm not. I don't want to go back at all. I will, because it's my career and I chose it, but honestly, I'm just tired of it. Tired of all the bullshit and politics that go along with it. Tired of being screwed for no advantage, no purpose. Just tired.
Shouldn't I be happy that my paychecks will get bigger? That I'll be able to pay my bills more easily once I'm making what I usually do during the school year (I take a 50% paycut in the summer)? I am a bit relieved, but I can't seem to muster a whole lot of enthusiasm. There are still more bills than dollars, and no ability to pay them back.
That's it, really. I can't muster enthusiasm. It's like I'm drained. Incapable of feeling any great depth of emotion. I get irritated easily, but not for long. I get despondent often, but it doesn't last. Most of the time I just feel resigned. Like there's nothing I can do about my job, my home, my relationships. Like the summer, I feel like the best of all those things might be behind me. It sucks. But that's what I have been feeling now for weeks. Maybe things will get better after school starts. It did last year. Maybe Tara's being here will mean I am infected with her enthusiasm for life and my foul-mood funk will dissipate. Maybe my money woes will magically disappear and I will be able to have things and do things as I want.
Maybe I should just join the Border Patrol and see if that fixes anything.
Too many maybes, and I don't have the energy or desire to investigate them very far. I guess I'll just keep putting one day at a time behind me, and hope, somewhere, the sun will peek through.

~Amalia~

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Race Pics






I came in 76 out of 84, and my time for the 3.1 miles was 33:10 (a personal best). I have LOADS more to work on, but it was a start.