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It was a really long day

I did a lot of stuff. Got to do a lot more stuff tomorrow. Kwai
You know how you'll look up a recipe online and a reviewer will say I LOVED THIS! I MADE IT EXACTLY LIKE THE RECIPE ONLY I CHANGED EVERYTHING AND IT WAS SO GOOD!! Or, I HATED THIS! I MADE IT EXACTLY LIKE THE RECIPE ONLY I CHANGED EVERYTHING AND IT WAS SO BAD!!

Besides important things getting done, I made these chocolate cookies from a recipe online, and I was going to make two needed changes; leave out the cayenne pepper, and use a different sugar because of that being sugar I don't have. Anyway. I started by putting in 8 oz of butter accidentally instead of 6, and so I compensated by adding an extra 1/4 cup of flour and 2 tbs sugar, and slightly increased the cinnamon, pepper, and baking soda. I left out the recommended 2 tbs milk, and then chilled it for only 30 minutes instead of an hour. And you know what? I kind of love these cookies. So when I get to not thinking about all the other stuff I've got to do, I'll find the recipe for you, and then share what I made instead.


The Purple Rain cocktail, and its attending effects

I made The Drink again. The drink formerly known as “Moist Panties” because of this whole thing about people and their cognitively dissonant vocabularies is now known as “Purple Rain.”

And my photos turned out lousy because it has rained a lot and that rain is certainly not purple, just messy and ugh. Well, one is a good photo with lousy composition, the other is better composition, but not by much, and not even Photoshop could do much with it compared to the first one from the other day, which is in the post before this one.

Purplerain

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ANYWAY. Here is what’s in it:

3 oz Tanqueray Ten (I will be trying it with Hendrick’s pretty soon)
1 oz Lillet Blanc
1/2 oz Rothman & Winter Creme de Violette
1/2 oz fresh lemon juice

I imagine it generally garnished with flowers, but they are all soggy right now in the middle of spring, so it got a lemon slice today. And I truly believe you should shake it rather than stir it, before straining. Anyway. It’s purple, and you can taste the violet, yet that’s not cloying, and I am super proud of this creation, so I hope you like it as well. I made it so it can be easily decreased to 2 oz or 1.5 oz gin. Let me know if you need help with the fractions.

Also, you might wish to know I made one today because I was having some lasagna cooling-off time (pictorial of that tomorrow, I expect, at the other blog site,) and reading some truly salacious gossip about my boyfriend Bill. Iwaslikewow.

He’s been dead since I was 16, so I don’t care much what he did when he was kicking around Hollywood and various continents except for too bad about all that booze, because I like my dead stars with some spice to them. It’s much more attractive, for some reason, though I tend to prefer my live fictional boyfriends (who number rather fewer) to not go around creating havoc or making a lot of really bad life decisions.

But Bill isn’t even my type anyway, you know. My living type, if I have one, is tall, skinny, dark-haired or formerly dark-haired, intellectually eccentric, and not prone to getting into much trouble. (My living type is male me, only without perimenopausal additional pounds. I would apologize for this, but it would be dishonest.) Bill is, truth be told, my own bad life decision at the back of a dark bar or on a vacation far from home, etc. And I prefer him that way. I feel that while I made some enormously bad life decisions in my actual non-fictional youth, I did not have nearly enough fun making them, or even make enough of them to do much with novel-writing now in middle age. I don’t have much of an interesting past, is what I am saying. Bill is part of the interesting past I would enjoy having. Frankly, he could still get it as Max Schumacher, though, if I had a cocktail or two, and so I made this one.

I don’t know how seriously people take me…and I just remembered my oldest daughter told me today that my blog is inspiring…so whoops, plus also I will not repeat the thing about Jackie Kennedy although I’m pretty sure she’d be okay with it because she is a cool chick.


20 years, fickle April, birthday countdown thoughts, and Earth Day

This isn't going to be the post I had in mind when I began thinking it over yesterday. My heart is a bit overfull just now.

Two things to think over which spawn many other channels of thought. First, I will turn 51 in six weeks. I like being a prime number. But it is a scary age for me to be. Second, this is my twentieth year having some sort of garden, though it's 23 if you count the zinnias under the tree in Olathe. I'm counting from the glorious garden I built in Saginaw in 1997, though. 
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I had little energy last year to give the garden a proper start, and so I have been happily and eagerly making up for it this year, only as we had no April to speak of, some of the vegetables which like April best are probably not going to produce really well before it turns hot. There is this thin window of time in which the ground is workable but not too cold, and the air is warming but is not yet hot. And this year, the window is even thinner than usual, because we reverted back to February at the end of March, then shot straight into May a few days ago. But such is gardening life along the 39th degree. 


My first garden, in Michigan, was kind of a thing of wonder. It became self-sustaining in two years' time, and was actually left alone to grow for at least a couple years more after I moved away. I didn't have all the internet advice I have now, and didn't even get much from the library. But I had towering tomato plants mixed in with all kinds of flowers and herbs, and just whatever I felt like growing. At first, gardening in New Jersey was something of a trial in comparison; the earth is very sandy there, especially where we lived, just three miles from the sea, and then five... Tintonfalls...and then more. Oh, I miss the sea. So I focused on the herbs, slowing adding in whatever I could when conditions allowed, and then for my last two years there, on the west side of the state, I had a 20x20 plot in a community garden. _DSC7794 - 2011-07-10 at 08-57-16 - Version 2 - 2011-07-10 at 08-57-16

That's where I really learned to garden, and where I learned to love gardeners. I will always treasure my brief time there, though I had a more difficult time finding some of the truly interesting plants there which were so easily available in Michigan. In NJ, anything which wasn't commonplace came at quite a premium. Well, everything just costs 30% more there. It makes people creative, though.
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I forgot I could be creative for awhile after moving here to Ohio into a neighborhood where a putting green lawn is valued far above the offerings of nature or my own "oldcountry" aesthetic desires. That is, I didn't forget, but I've been torn between worrying over lawn edgings and dandelions and needing to "express myself through the medium of growing interesting stuff in interesting configurations.” Doing it to satisfy both the neighbors and me would really just require throwing a lot of money around. You get more for your money here, but I can't justify it. 


So my back gardens in my rented space are semi-conservative little oases, and I treasure them as much as I can, while the front areas are more for public view, and no one knew what to think last year when I got the notion of growing middle eastern cucumbers on a trellis in front of the porch…if I told them that on the east coast, many people do not waste their front lawns on the cultivation of grass, they’d think it’s all just as awful as they believe they’re told by the news.

I never planned to have a garden, you know. This is because my mother had an enormous one for a couple of years, completely organic back when that was rather tougher to do in the post-mid-century living better through chemistry era, and I hated having to weed it. Well, I hardly weed my gardens at all. I just grow stuff between the stuff so I don’t have to. The carrots always need it, though.

I have repeated many aspects of my mother’s life, after being so certain I never would. I love gardening, I love old stuff. I have experienced some of the same pains and losses. And now I’m turning 51, the age my mother found a lump in her breast.

It is not 1987. I did not smoke as a teenager. I have not consumed huge quantities of Coke and Pepsi throughout my lifetime. I have eaten less processed food, though probably not much less. I cook with olive oil, I drink milk, I eat more fish, I breastfed my kids, and I’ve done a somewhat better job of keeping middle age weight at a reasonable place.

Still, and all. One can’t help but think about it and wonder. I have assigned all my belongings to various offspring, and I keep thinking they should not have too many drawers or boxes to sort through someday, because there’s only so much charm to be found in browsing through what other people won’t throw out.

I’m actually more likely to be felled by a heart condition because of my horrible teeth, but the fact is, from this point forward, the markers are not just, “Now I am older than Pushkin, Darin, Judy Holliday...*” but “I have been a mother longer than I had one,” “this is the age she got sick,” and two years, ten months older than I am now, “now I am older than my mother lived to be.”

So besides having my vitamins and checkups and thinking about doing a better job of making sugar calories matter, I’m working to be pleasant and giving and at peace with life, the universe and every little thing. Growing beautiful things and sewing gifts and making purple cocktails, helping tense cashiers calm down a bit, loving the dog and my kids and trying not to poison either the earth or other peoples’ hearts and minds keeps me pretty busy at that.

Here’s to Earth, to Mom, to Purple Rain, to all the Aprils you and I will live to see. Gardentools

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It's that time of year...

This is the time of year when, no longer coughing all the time, with sunshine streaming in through the windows, I commence to heavier cleaning. I'm not a constant or furious cleaner, but I do like things to be as nice as I can make them. Yesterday as I was putting in a load of laundry, I suddenly remembered the Flylady. Have you heard of her? Years ago I looked into her housekeeping system and was stymied by the top thing; each morning you get dressed, putting on makeup and lace-up shoes.

This is so you will feel Prepared For Work. It's lockstep in the notion that No One would feel like cleaning otherwise.

And I agree that when you rise in the morning, putting away bedtime is essential if you are at home all day. If you want to be productive, you need your productive daytime gear. But that just isn't the same for everyone. In my house, shoes are not allowed, except for visitors who don't know any better, and we rarely have those. Further, they were required to be lace-up shoes. If I put on shoes with laces to clean the house, I'd not feel more productive; I'd feel like I was now being punished severely and would be distracted and upset all day by foot prisons. BackdoorshoesSandals the boys use to run out back for something, and my garden clogs and boots.

I wrote her a letter eight or nine years ago, and she was adamant this rule must be followed. It was a bit touchy, her reply. So we agreed her system was not for me. Also,  I think some of what she advises is wasteful of resources, but that’s a deeper topic for another time.

Later, she told people they could wear "indoor shoes," still lace-ups. Ugh. THEN I read yesterday there is now a sort of “Asian clause;" if you’re Asian, you get a pass on shoes. No one else could possibly also have the notion that wearing shoes in the house—tracking the street in through the carpet—is Not Done. Ugh. FrontdoorshoesI wear these sandals to get the mail, do something in the front yard, or run up to the store. In the winter, they are traded for slip-on closed shoes. I keep all my "nice" shoes upstairs in my closet, but this is where shoes are taken off when entering the house.

I don't put on makeup, either, unless I'm spending the day outside; I have a light foundation which provides just enough sunscreen for my face and a pleasant even countenance for passers-by. Otherwise, Makeup is for Going Places. But I do get dressed every morning, put away my nightgown, splash my face, brush my hair. I am still modeling a simple morning routine for Young People, after all. I pull the covers back on the bed, and go make it up a couple hours later.

I like a clean sink, but as my middle son is in charge of dishes, if there are a few left in the morning, I don't try not to stress. I just stack them neatly to one side, and scrub the sink (but not by filling it with bleach water; this isn’t best practice for the old asthmatic lungs.) It gets me moving in the morning, then I carry on.

Here are tips from her or me or whoever that I think you might wish to consider, particularly if you are home a lot or most days:


    •    Do dress in the morning. I don’t mean dress up, I mean put on a loose comfortable dress or shorts or pants and a top, and if you’re into it, I guess you can add shoes... The key is to differentiate between bed hours and not-bed hours. Do rinse your face with warm water if you don’t take a morning shower (I like mine in the afternoon after I’ve Done Stuff) and lovingly pat it dry, brush or comb your hair, and nod hello at the mirror. You go ahead brush your teeth before or after you eat something; I’m not in charge of what you prefer even though I think before is weird. (I will say, if at all possible, please don't get right online with emails and news and status updates. Give yourself some greeting-the-day time first. Science agrees with me.)

    •    If you have your own clothes washer, but you tend to get behind, put in a load while you’re managing other morning tasks. Put that one load away the moment it’s done. Do another one each day, and after awhile, you'll be caught up, plus have a good idea how long it actually takes to stay that way. Wash sheets one weekend, other non-clothing items the next. Teach everyone over the age of eight to wash their own everyday clothes. It takes a lot of oversight for the first couple years, but they do thank you later when they realize their young adult friends are all dumb about how to do laundry.

    •    I buy one tree-free paper towel roll a year for occasional kitchen use, and you must do as you like, only think about this maybe: I also keep dozens of cheap washcloths and shop towels around, and they are washed in hot water when I’ve collected a load’s worth in either the washer or a container next to it. You can add them to a container with some bleachy water in it if you like, then pour it all into the washer, the way people do with cloth diapers. I just add a little Borax to the washer myself. These things last a couple years or more unless you’re bleaching them like mad, and you aren’t using many pieces of paper once just to then throw them out. Kitchencloths
   •    Before you go to bed at night, make sure the sinks are empty, counters are clean, and things are not lying about on the floor. Everyone in the house should help with this.

    •    Keep a large bag or basket in a handy but not in-the-way spot and add things to it that no one wants or needs, and when it’s full, take it to Goodwill or another charity of your choice. Each spring and autumn, go through everyone’s clothes and give away everything that no longer fits or can be used. If it’s not wearable (you wouldn't consider it worthy of cousins or friends) there are places that take textiles for recycling, or you can cut it up and use it for car or garage rags.

I’m not the person to offer heavier cleaning tips, though I might advise you to teach everyone to wipe the bathroom counter and rinse the sink after face and teeth time, but if you do these few basic things regularly, then you will feel more like advancing to regular dusting, cleaning the refrigerator regularly, and staying more organized in general. CabinetorderYou might adapt this idea for your own use: take a photo of full cabinets and tape it to the inside door so things are always put back in the same place.

Morningsink


I have no ready explanation for this.

I started this yesterday evening. When I have the page filled sufficiently, I’m posting it.

1. This post brought to you through the auspices of Weyerbacher Brewery in Easton PA, my erratic luteal phase, and a fresh loaf of Italian bread, and is dedicated to Rumson, New Jersey, my friend Anna*, and everyone who portrayed Mr Knightley in a movie.

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I went to Kroger for some Italian sausage (thus, also some bread,) and because I needed a few minutes around some people; collective energy and so forth, and listened to my iPod there and back, noticing it has a remarkable understanding of just the sort of mood I’m in. So that’s what this is. Well, plus a few more songs that played while I was cooking sausage.
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Check it out: 20160405_161926That sign has been up at Tuesday Morning for at least a couple months, definitely before the news of Hancock’s new bankruptcy was announced, and waaaay before they announced they were closing ALL stores. Things that make you wonder…

I have On The Beach on while typing this. Wasn’t Tony Perkins just beautiful?

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And in 1959, as skinny as my beautiful sons. People seem to find this wrong now, or maybe they always did, I dunno. I remember being made fun of for it when very young, then later as a teen and young woman, the ugly sneers… But if it’s okay for people to weigh a whole lot, it’s also okay for them to weigh not very much at all. Life, you know. Diverse and all.

Hello. I’d like to talk with you about Gregory Peck’s jawline.

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2. Because of reasons to do with that unfortunate Lois Lane scene, no, not in the completely awesome exciting and thoughtful unless there is something seriously wrong with you new film, but the old outdated Superman movie, I have this Gordon Lightfoot song in my head.


I do like this song, but I always thought of it as some of the “grownup” music when I was a kid.

Speaking of which, Merle Haggard has died, and while I was not a fan, I mean, of course I remember him and he was a part of our youth and etc., and it occurs to me that all our childhood grownups are dying, and pretty soon we’ll be the only grownups who remember them, or something like that. I couldn’t quite hang onto the thread I was following. Our childhood is all ghosts, is maybe what I mean. I have a list of half a dozen people who, when they are gone, will have been the end of it all. Let us not speak their names just now. Not because of superstitions we need not have, but because we will rather continue to think of them as healthy and strong.

I was in a better mood earlier, and also yesterday when I began this exercise. It’s gloomy and raining now, which does a thing to my brain, I guess, though I never mean for it to. And so I am not going to finish this until I am in a better mood again. That’s what it’s meant to be about.

3. I’ve had a look at my “notes for later” document that I keep in my dock, and found some items to share:
    
    a. "Exquisite Timing: Perimenopause and the Bee Gees:" this is an essay I’m working on which I’ll probably post to Medium some time or other. But Medium has already changed a lot since it started. I’m not quite as keen on it as I was in the beginning. I’m that way, just always was, I guess. Nobody steal my title.

    b. My son said this a few weeks ago: Jesus was walking around the desert with chest damage, trying to build an arc reactor, Judas turned his back on him and betrayed him, trying to steal the technology.

    c. I copied this from somewhere, don’t remember who said it. You can Google it if you like. “What is tolerance? It is the consequence of humanity. We are all formed of frailty and error; let us pardon reciprocally each other's folly - that is the first law of nature.”

4. You know how people used to complain that their old out of touch parents would send them painful inspiring emails, or chain letter emails, or ridiculous urban legends? Here are examples of the things I text to my kids.
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5. I saved this photo to share as well, but do not recall why. Something to do with his speech pattern.
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6. A little while back I made my hair lighter, and it's also shorter than it's been in awhile, but then I saw this brief stuttering video from a few years ago and got to missing it dark, never mind long, a person should be only so fickle.

So what do you think? A little darker than image a like it is now, or a little lighter than image b like it's sort of now meant to be?
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* For Anna, I was going to post a link to a Tumblr site devoted to red-haired men. But they turned out to all be gay porn. So, anyway...here's a song.

  


Goodbye, Hancock, it's been nice to know you

You might have seen me lamenting the imminent closure of Hancock Fabrics. It sounds funny, I suppose, but I just love that store and will miss it a whole lot. Like Border’s, but maybe more.

I’ve lived near a good one for nearly five years, but have visited it at least a couple times a month for the past fifteen months as I worked to keep my brain busy and productive during a hard winter, then discovered I now possess a new love for an old art. First I reintroduced myself to embroidery, and made a crazy quilt entirely by hand. Then I mostly finished another one, and then I got a sewing machine. I didn’t buy it there, but I did buy everything I use with it there, as a grand birthday treat. Notions
They introduced me to Mary Ellen’s Best Press, and allowed me to let my imagination loose with their Spot the Bolt sales. I got a lot of very inexpensive past season half and whole yards that way, and commenced to learning how to sew with a machine (properly; I could at least run one before,) in June. Each Saturday last summer I taught myself something new. I made a bag and an apron for my daughter, and a baby quilt for an online friend, and then more bags and aprons and quilts, and blocks to embroider, to save for later, to turn into something new. Saturdayclass
Hancock mattered because it’s just past my neighborhood in the shopping center with my main Kroger, and it felt like a comfortable place to drive to and spend time in. There are two other places to buy sewing needs just a little farther away, but they don’t feel like home, they aren’t convenient, and I don’t have any sense of excitement about going to them. For me, shopping at Cherry Grove Hancock Fabrics was like buying paints or candies. Some of the employees were always cheerful, and a couple often were not, but I enjoyed getting them to open up and laugh.

It’s not at all the greatest store, just pretty good, but I’m going to miss it. I was taking stock of my fabric this morning, some of which I bought yesterday during one final visit. And I realized there was some symbiosis to it all that I’ll have to find or not find somewhere else. It’s okay for you to think I’m eccentric in this regard; I probably am. But I’m sure there are a few other people who feel the same way. Pinkbag
If you've looked at my domestic arts blog or Google Plus posts, you've seen some of these projects among others, but I gathered a few here for a little tribute to the hours (and dollars) I spent at Hancock, trying to make frugal conscientious choices and also just wandering around learning about everything available and discovering what I might use it for. And there are some more projects I gave away, because when I feel really successful, I am excited to share it with someone. Handquilt

Purplequilt

Aaronsquilt

Bigquilttop

Bikebag

Littlefoxes

Springquilt

Embroideryblocks

Newblueblocks

Remainingfabric

Newbag


Sehr langsam und noch zurückhaltend, or not, I guess, whichever.

Last night we went to the Cincinnati Symphony at Music Hall to hear Mahler’s 9th Symphony, conducted by Jésus López-Cobos. It was very good, of course it was good. It’s such an immediate piece of music, you can’t help but be drawn in instantly. And we are privileged to have a fine local orchestra playing it, and it seems to me that conductors who conduct it do so because they love it. Silly me, though, wondering why the hall had fewer people than usual. Why wouldn’t there be more people at a Mahler show? But I guess 20 minute movements aren’t quite everyone’s thing. Still.

So I settled in deciding that this wasn’t anyone’s date night. Everyone was there because it was Mahler’s 9th freaking symphony, and it was exciting to hear live. And there were many music students there, clearly, because we saw many more well-dressed young people than usual, all full of joy and vigor. I had an enjoyable conversation with one young man before the concert began, as he told me about attending school here. He plays french horn, so naturally, this was the show for him.

I don’t want to be all grr about older people, but they are always the disruptive ones, if disruption there is to be, which there usually is. By older I mean, older than me, of course. Let’s say, though, over 60, generally. However, people were all quiet and reverently enjoying the music, or so I thought naively, until I noticed a woman in the row in front of us, a couple seats to my left, checking Delta flight information on her iPhone. She did some textin’, some checkin’, etc. The man was with me last night, and he was seated to my left, so when he leaned forward, I could no longer see her, which I appreciated, because I just wasn’t able to be very tao about it, though I tried/not tried my best.

That was in the middle of the fourth movement, and the last six or seven (don’t quote me) minutes of the piece grow quiet, then quieter still, and with about five minutes to go, a man several rows in front of us began limping to the aisle. He sort of lurched forward and a very old man across from us grabbed him and basically hauled him to the top of the section. A minute later, the woman with him left, then a minute later, the old man came back. It was stressful, but I mean, emergency, I guess. I think he was about to throw up. It was difficult to get back into the depth of it all, which matters because right at the end, the violas hang onto the final phrase, then sloowwwwly fade out, and everyone holds their breath and the conductor freezes the action for a long time before lowering his baton, and just as this was happening, someone behind us dropped something loud.

Never have I wished so badly for floor seats instead of the gallery, mainly because even setting aside the anticlimactic deflation, it did feel more than usual like the music was just coming at me, rather than surrounding me. But overall, I had a great experience, until the man told me that woman was actually on her iPhone nearly the entire 82 minutes, which is forbidden, of course. But she thought holding her program over it made it okay. Like, this was her ineffectual Cone of Silence. So by the end, he had her Delta password memorized, and could recite this whole conversation she was having with two different people. Added to that, the woman next to him spent quite a lot of the time loudly rifling the pages of her program, and that was his good ear side. Further, the man freaking loves Mahler, like, so so much, and he loves the 9th, and so it was just exhausting and frustrating for him. I felt pretty bad about that. Usually I’m the one with the troubles, as old people tend to drop things on my head as they walk by, or start snoring next to me or etc., but not last night.

Please honor music and Mahler and me and the man and just life, I guess, and check out this 1971 documentary which is on YouTube in six parts, Leonard Bernstein's "Four Ways to Say Farewell." And then listen to Bernstein conducting it, or Claudio Abbado (I mention these two because they interpreted it quite differently, which is interesting in itself,) or another generally cherished recording if you like. You could even buy one from this same conductor and orchestra recorded some years ago! Me, I like this one conducted by Otto Klemperer. Fade the lights, put away the phone, listen to Mahler contemplate life and death and whatever the painful middle seems to be for, and don't drop anything loud at the end; you'll mourn for the silence.

Oh! Another nice thing for me was that I was wandering for a few minutes before it began, and went into the Corbett Tower room where they have meetings. There are big windows in there which face east toward what turns out to be a glorious view of the city. I'd never seen it in sunlight before. A very attractive man was looking out one window and I stood in front of the one next to him and made conversation. I hope when the renovation is finished, that's still a thing one can do.


Plus ça change...

AKA serendipity unfulfilled.

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It's still play for pay this year. But worth looking for. This picture links to the article it's taken from:

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Amusingly serendipitous, or not, tonight I could trade my desire for this film for a fresh episode of Grantchester, which is a TV show based on the Sydney Chambers books such as the one I was reading a year ago today.