Monday, December 29, 2014

Our 2014

In the gray of the late fall, feeling cabin feverish, I began to flip through our pictures to knock out yet another chore, choosing pictures for our Christmas card. I was bewildered at the sheer number of photos I took this last year. Nearly all of them outside—sweet cabin fever relief—at some interesting place, e.g., the Oregon beach, the Washington beach, my brother's in Eugene, Lina and Dave's in Elma, Beavertail Canyon on the Deschutes river... Our peak fun month seems to be August. Every year since our kids arrived, I have taken somewhere close to a thousand pictures that month. As I flip through them, none of them seem superfluous. The chore of choosing pictures quickly morphed into a frolic through the wonderful memories of the past year.

In the past year Boots finished the first grade and started the second. Her improvement in her reading and writing is phenomenal. As I write, she is across from me reading a chapter book and turning the pages faster than I think she ought to be. She also writes her own stories. This year she has created several dozen books. Some are derivative of things she's read or seen on TV, some are entirely her own creation. A few she wrote for Berzo. A favorite of Berzo's was based on Frozen, on one page was a picture of Olaf making more Olafs. Berzo found this hilarious. Boots illustrates her books and and binds them with staples.  I need to take one of her more complete works to Powell's Espresso printer to get it professionally bound.

The author & illustrator at work.
Despite her success at school, all the amazing uses to which she puts her new found skills, and being doted on by her teacher, each morning I am subjected to the same mantra, “I hate school. Why do I have to go? I hate school.” To prepare for their day, some people drink coffee, some people exercise, some people do a daily devotional of some kind, my daughter performs her I-hate-school mantra and off she goes. I always collect a happy kid from the big yellow bus who extolls upon me the adventures and experiences of her day, which are almost always positive.

Boots has made strides in swimming and I hope that one day she'll want to be a part of a swim team. Her passion for horses and all things equestrian has only intensified this last year. When she has something to ask me she says, “Mama, I have an equestrian.” She is a cool little kid that I love hanging out with, especially when we get a chance to be alone together.

Gabrielle started pre-school this year. She is in a Gymboree School Skills class one day a week. She is proud to be going to school like her big sister. On the first day, she insisted we take a picture with the pretzel, a German tradition, and on having a backpack with her school things in it. (There are no required supplies for preschoolers, but we got some anyway.) She went right into her class the first day, nervous but not scared, and greeted me with a happy hug when it was over two short hours later. She is also starting swim lessons this coming January and seems really ready. I, however, am sad to see my “baby” growing up so fast.

During Berzo's early toddlerhood she was very sweet and a bit shy. However, in her threes, she has found her voice and usually uses it for yelling at other kids. We are working on it and I'm sure she phase out of it in time. She seems to have difficulty in reading people's intentions, friendly gestures by a kid at the park are often read as hostile and she reacts as such. Once she gets more socially adept, I don't think she'll feel the need to be so forceful. For those who spend time around us, please be patient as we work through this not-so-glamorous phase.

Charley chalked up some big accomplishments at work. The new CNC machine he convinced the company to invest in last year has been a success. His talented patternmakers had it up and running within days of its arrival in the shop and he is careful to leverage its speed and accuracy as much as possible when scheduling jobs. The Continuous Improvement program he began for the company is also off and running, with employees turning in over 1,100 ideas for the first year. He has played a big part in changing the company culture in a positive way. If you know his company at all, you will know what an ambitious undertaking that is. They are lucky to have him.

The Tough Mudders, Ted, Clark, Charley & Jason.

Charley competed in three big races this past year. He ran the Helvetia Half Marathon in June. Charley and Clark, the brotherly brothers, with Jason and Cousin Ted ran the Tough Mudder in August. They're not kidding when they named it “Tough”. It makes my Warrior Dash races look rather lame. The course is ten miles of leg cramping hill climbs, plunges into ice water—Charley actually kind of liked that part—and electrical shocks. It's grueling and also a pretty darn impressive achievement. After that, he ran the Portland Half Marathon with Lina. After the toughness of the Tough Mudder, he could hardly motivate himself to train for the half. A half marathon is simply too easy these days. Ho-humm. Which is good because coming up in 2015, he's already signed up for the Hood to Coast, on his friend Chris's team. To finish it off, his ex-Navy Seal buddy, Marshall, is working on him to compete in a triathlon.

Working the mash-tun.
Between all this running and working Charley manages to find a few hours to brew a beer occasionally. Special for the Oysterville Regatta, Charley brewed a five-gallon keg of his IPA dubbed, Cappy's Pokahoy IPA. The general comment was, “Geeze Charley, you could have botched it a little—to give us a chance at avoiding a hangover.” Too soon the keg was high in the water, and then it sputtered out. It was a moment of pride for him when visitors from Germany sampled his bier and extended their complements. Germans know bier, and Germans do not veneer their opinions.

He is bringing his brewing to the next level with the addition of the mash tun, which is used to extract sugar from grains. This allows him to remove the malt-extract ingredient from his beer recipes and thereby the malt-extract flavor, which will be awesome for his Hefeweizen recipe, (my favorite variety) but in general the all-grain brewing  process allows for greater control of flavor.

I have spent this year watching my little family growing up, curling up with a book at night as I wait for little eyes to close and breath to soften, and spending most of my free time writing. (I only blog a small fraction of what I write—it's a good thing.)

I have also been serving as a board member for the Oysterville Restoration Foundation, (ORF). ORF owns and maintains the Oysterville Church, several open spaces, and collaborates with other organizations in the community in an effort to preserve the historic heritage of the village. I serve as the secretary in addition to establishing a few IT resources for the foundation. I also traded my web development skills for some killer massages from my friend Lori Karreman as she launched her new business, Serenity Therapy Massage. I came out on the better end of that deal. Seriously.
This is going by too fast.

I look forward to 2015 with mixed feelings. Berzo will be four in June and be entering bigger kid preschool. With a twinge of sadness, I realize the era of being a parent of babies and little kids is coming to a close. We have only a few years left of the sweetness of the innocence of Santa, the Easter Bunny, and unicorns. Little shoes and brightly colored toys are soon to make way for cell phones and sports equipment. Nervous-for-school hugs and “I love you, Mama.” at the bus stop is going to become, “Mom—you're embarrassing me!” Those little hands that fit so small in mine are going to slip away as they dash off with the car keys.

Having been home for seven years I sometimes I peer into the fog of my future and I can't quite make out what that picture looks like, I'm feeling obsolete in so many ways. I'll just hold on to those little monkeys while I still can, then when the time is right I'm sure the picture will become clear.

We hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and a happy New Year!

A toast to you!


Monday, November 10, 2014

Halloween Treats

Halloween is another one of those days where having kids makes it exponentially more fun. Their exuberance is infectious. As soon as the calendar read “October,” Boots and Berzo were hard at work making Halloween decorations. One of Boot's first efforts produced a black cat that adorned our front storm door. Drawings of witches with green faces and black hats appeared on our windows. Pumpkins, bats, even eyeballs-trapped-in-a-spiderweb, graced our refrigerator and all other empty spaces in our home. Berzo would randomly shout, “I have to draw a pumpkin, Halloween is almost here!”

Our house interior properly adorned, the thoughts of my girls turned to costumes. Boots was a “spooky witch” last year and wanted to do that again—but with a new dress. Berzo decided she also wanted to be a spooky witch. Then she wanted to be Elsa, then spooky witch, and finally, after much deliberation, settled on spooky witch. Inspired by my friends Matt and Lori, who plan a family themed costume, I decided I would dress up as a witch too and form our own little coven. Easier said than done. Finding little girl witch costumes was easy, there were two on Zulily that were adorable and affordable, ordered, done. I had a difficult time finding a witch costume that didn't have the word “sexy” in the description. And by “sexy” they mean “kinky lingery sexy”. Charley didn't mind so much, but I dug deeper. After much searching I found a classic witch costume on Amazon. Horray! I ordered it up with a side of green face paint.

Feeling excited about our family costume, we looked up some warlock costumes for Charley, but there was nothing he could stomach wearing… So we thought perhaps he could be a torch and pitchfork wielding peasant farmer. Reception of this idea was cool, so I didn't get my hopes up.

Inside decorations? Check. Costumes on order? Check. Next item on the list, pester Charley to put up the exterior Halloween lights and decorations. The girls took up this task with their usual gusto. Then one unseasonable warm day we were playing outside and I thought I'd drag all the stuff out to see what was what, and if I might put it up. I laid it all out on the lawn. I asked Charley which end of the ghost lights needed to be on which end of the house so they could be plugged in properly, (I'd guess wrong) he decided to put them up himself. (Picture John Wayne, "Better let me take care of that for ya, little lady.")

I found some spider-web-in-a-bag and stretched it across our big bay windows and added a giant hairy spider. Charley put the spider lights in our red rock which is under the front windows, and Boots repositioned the spiders to crawl up the webbing. And so the first house on the block was all decked out for Halloween.

Then we waited.

We filled the time with a trip to the pumpkin patch and trial runs of our costumes and make-up. Then waited some more.

Then we all got sick. Then got better. Then Berzo got a fever, and I got another cold. Then Halloween was here!

Yay! Ug. I wish Berzo and I felt better, but yay!

Party planners extraordinaire.
The first stop on Halloween was to Matt and Lori's for Halloween dinner. Boots and I were late arrivals due to an early afternoon nap (for me-I had a cold) and a time underestimation error, but we made it in plenty of time to enjoy the festivities and food. As usual Matt and Lori put party caterers to shame with the delicious food presented in halloween theme. Spider web dips, brain shaped jello, witch's brew complete with fog and floating eyeballs. There were fried worms and all manner disgusting looking delicious treats.

We played a very cool game in which the kids found clues that would reveal the name of a witch, but be careful to avoid curses! You could barter for clues and curse remedies from other teams. 

All the while we visited and played and ate and drank, the rain came in sheets washing the sidewalks and roads clean. Then just as it became dark, the spigots turned off and the cool night air beckoned trick-or-treaters to come forth. And they did…

Spider Sam
We dashed home to collect Clark, Mary, Princess Elsa (Amelia), and Spiderman (Sam), then we joined groups with our neighbors and headed out. The kids formed an amoebic mass of nylon and neon that stretched to one door then slid past each other, pooled again then stretched to the next door.

The amoeba split when the longer legged nine-years-old-and-ups decided to cover more ground at a faster rate to maximize the candy collection, while the younger kids and toddlers decided on a shorter route through our neighborhood. About the time we were two-thirds done, the toddlers started lagging, “Mama, I think I have enough candy now.” (What!?! Could you imagine uttering such a phrase as a child? Kids today!) The older (of the younger) ones seemed fine with calling it a night so we nudged the toddlers on and made it home.
Loot time!!

Then it was loot time! Candy buckets were dumped and the content thoroughly examined. Careful choices of tonight's treats were made, in-between, ding-dong! “Trick-or-treat!!” Still in my witch costume, I revelled in the opportunity to play my part. I turned on my wicked witch voice, and told the children how tasty they all looked, and,  “Be sure to take some eye balls dearie; they have such a nice gelatinous center." *Cackle* "Oh yes, lovely they are.” One girl asked me how I got my face so green, and I said, “Oh, it's always like this dearie. It's getting it pink the other days, that's the work.” The toddlers sometimes needed some coaxing from their parents to come for a treat… Such fun!

Around eight my cold made my head fuzzy and my face paint was getting crinkley dry so I left Boots, my Wicked Witch of the West in training, and Amelia in charge of the door. They loved it.

After a shower, I put Berzo to bed and my little tuckered spooky witch went right off to sleep, with visions of Snickers bars dancing in her head.

Charley and Clark shared some pints and had more than a few laughs. Sam explored Berzo's toys without fear of retribution while Mary oversaw his activities and played along.

Boots and Mimi were in cousin/best friend heaven as they packed in as much playing as they could before the inevitable good-byes ensued.

I love these holidays—the ones that seemed like more of a nuisance in my twenties are suddenly, once again, magic.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Book Review: Secret Life of Bees

Powell's Books · Barnes & Noble
Sue Monk Kidd © 2003

For quite some time, every book store, garage sale, grocery story display had copies of this book leaning off the shelf trying to fall in to my basket. I'd pick it up, read the synopsis on the back, ho-humm and put it back down—estrogen and honey just aren't my normal flavors. Then during a library book sale it slipped into my hands, hid among my other selections and I didn't realize what had happened until I had it home. OK, already I’ll read it!

I’m glad I did.

The story is set in South Carolina in the 1960's, during the heat of the civil rights movement. It is a story of a young girl named Lily Owens who is tormented by the blurry memory of her mother’s accidental death at her hands. She lives with a father she dubbed, T. Ray, whose only claim to genius is inventing creative way to punish her, such as kneeling on grits piled on the floor for hours. Kneeling on grits!?

The bees are a character of their own accord. They appear in her room at night and disappear when she attempts to show her father. One assumes that his ambient malevolence drove them back into the safety of her walls. Eventually Lily captures one in a jar to prove it to him. Awash in guilty feelings, she tries to release it, but the bee spins and spins it the jar. She can't understand why it won't fly away. Then in a crux moment where she must face her father's impending wrath, she notices the bee is gone. She realizes that there's no lid on her jar either. She bails out of her father's house, breaks her nanny Rosaleen out of the hospital where she’s being treated before being sent back to jail, (Rosaleen was indicted for dumping her tobacco-spit from her jar on some white men’s shoes--they deserved it.) before fleeing to Tiburon, South Carolina. Which is a name Lily found written on the back of a block of wood, sporting the a label for Black Madonna Honey, she found among her mother's things.

This scrap of her mother's belongings brings Lily and Rosaleen to the home of three benevelovent black women who are, yep-you guessed it, beekeepers. Here Lily learns to send love to the bees, reconcile her past, collect honey, learn to trust, make beeswax candles, belong to something bigger than herself, cool bees on hot days, the truth of her mother’s story, cook honey, even understand her father, and finally finds the home she craved.

This is a heartfelt story that also has teeth. It challenges our perceptions and changes our lives in a honey flavored way.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Audubon Nursery Workday Daydreams

Photo by Cara
I was pushing a wheelbarrow filled with pots of Bunchberries and Indian Plum up a trail at the Portland Audubon Society on Sunday. It was a mess. A beautiful mess. The trail was littered with gold, brown, and orange leaves. Ferns, lichens and mosses climbed over each other. Trees intertwined with one another, and small plants and shrubs grew in random clumps. Life giving water pooled, dripped, and beaded everywhere. Sunlight filtered through this mess setting the golds and greens aglow as it sprinkled everything with its warm energy. I was awestruck by beauty and complete lack of order.

In human landscaped environments, we have strategically placed trees, carefully mowed and fertilized grass, wood chips to keep down weeds and to set off persnickety ornamental shrubs, that are often adorned by toxic berries. “Berzo! Spit that out!” Basically we have moved our indoor aesthetics outside. You are not allowed to pick, dig, climb or otherwise disturb the property of this park “nature” in any way. In other words it's utterly boring and even somewhat stressful.

Humans need the complexities and comforts of a beautiful mess. A natural environment that is wild and free. In such a place I can feel my intellect untether from the right-angles of modern culture, my creativity leaps with wild abandon into the heaps of leaves, coming up with blue slugs and an occasional gnome, as a vole stands on hind legs looking on. I brush the gnome from my shirt and he lands in puff of leaves. An owl swoops silently, the vole grabs the gnome and tosses him into the scythe like talons. The owl screeches but cannot let go. Gnomes taste very bitter and can be dangerous. Talons pierce the gnome's soft body and crunch his bones. He whispers an incantation in ancient Gaelic and the owl’s eyes cloud over, the muscles in the feet relax and the gnome, badly hurt but alive, falls to the soft forest floor. A soft thud heralds the arrival of the owl's body.

The gnome indulged his temper and kicked the owl and winced in pain. He then retrieved his moss colored hat to his head and disappears into a rotting log. The vole squeaks in terror of the too-close owl and in fear of retribution from the gnome. He decides to make himself scarce. The owl's eyes clear, he squawks in indignation as he rights himself, and takes off in disgust.

I shake my head and take up my wheelbarrow handles.


Our home require order. Our daily lives require schedules by which all things get done and not forgotten. Our learning requires self discipline as does our physical conditioning, caloric intake, and even spiritual growth. All aspects of our lives require, demand, and need order and discipline to thrive and be fruitful.

I posit that our lives also need organic, lovely, unplanned, chaotic, natural mess. Our intellect craves relaxation in an unstructured and unproductive, messy way to fuel our imaginations and refresh our spirits. To feel God, (or divinity of choice) we need to be among his creations as he intended them to live together--in an seemingly disordered state, that is really arrangement so complex as to be undecipherable to our souped up ape-brains, but that we sense on some level is really a web of harmonious, symbiotic exchanges of nutrients and energy. From the worms enriching and aerating the soil with detritus, to alders fixing nitrogen and preventing erosion to heal a scarred land, to a conifer providing homes for insects, birds and mammals, to the microbes that make up eighty percent of the world's biomass.

Although we may not be capable of full comprehension, we can appreciate the vast intricacies, respect the power of intertwined life, and be humbled in its presence. We should reject the notion that we could possibly improve upon nature and that taming it is anything short of an insult, but move to become stewards, benefactors (through fishing, hunting, foraging), and students of this chaotic yet beautiful mess.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Book Review - Burning Bright: A Play in Story Form

Powell's Books · Barnes & Noble
John Steinbeck © 1950

This is one of Steinbeck's play novelettes, a format he created and unfortunately doesn't appear to have caught on. Like a play, the story is short, confined to few “sets”, and the action is carried by the dialog. But unlike a play, the supporting narrative paints a vibrant scene, paints the characters and otherwise fills out the sparse canvas that is the usual written play. It is an utterly enjoyable and fulfilling read, that I'd also love to see in a theater.

This story was written in three acts. A young wife yearns to give her beloved husband the child he craves. Unbeknownst to the husband, a childhood illness has left him sterile. He descends into a frightening depression, obsessed with the idea that the blood is where his considerable talents are stored and can only be passed in this way. Then there is a young man who works her husband with the same black eyes, and his wife wonders…

The remarkable thing about this book is that the scenes are completely changed for each act. In the first act the characters are circus performers, in the second they are farmers (and had always been farmers), in the third they are sailors. At first I wondered if Steinbeck had been smoking something funny when he wrote it this way, then I as I read on I could see the genius in it. The characters and their roles were unchanged, but the change of scene brought out different aspects of the characters and added an entirely new flavor and enhanced the mood of the scene. It was fascinating to watch one plot be told in three different parallel lifetimes.

Steinbeck was an artist of the truest kind. He could paint within the lines of reality in the most compelling fashion, but then he could go abstract and bend your mind and create something unique, heartbreaking and beautiful—all in about an hour and a half of your time.


I read that this book was subjected to intense criticism that derailed his play novelette writing. I wish he would have written his detractors and play novelette of their own, in which they meet a grisly end—he certainly had the talent for grisly endings. It is startling to know, that a writer as ballsy as Steinbeck could be hurt by criticism—he certainly didn’t write to bring warm fuzzy tingles to the masses—and I'll always wonder what stories he kept to himself because of it.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Book Review: Wild

Powell's Books · Barnes & Noble
Cheryl Strayed © 2013

I read this book in three nights. My eyes burned, I knew I was going to be tired the next day, but still I was compelled by Cheryl’s story to keep reading.

This autobiographical story follows Cheryl as a young woman who loses herself after her mother's untimely death from cancer. After spending over a month watching her mother, who was her lighthouse, waste away, she leaves her side to bring her brother to see her one last time and her mother dies in her absence. Cheryl is unmoored in a sea of self-destruction.

She tries to drown herself in illicit affairs, and even heroin. After her divorce, the idea of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail starts to gnaw at her.

Her time on the trail alternates between giving her a break from her mental anguish and forcing her to confront the tribulations of her life. The rigors of the trail causes her outward suffering just as she had suffered inwardly for years. It becomes a pilgrimage. And although she ends up basically destitute, homeless and alone—you see her not as poor, but as unburdened.

I do not like much of what Cheryl does during this story, but I admire who she becomes, and the unflinching way in which she tells her story.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Book Review: Sherlock Holmes: The Complete Novels and Stories, Volume I & II

Powell's Books · Barnes & Noble
Arthur Conan Doyle © 1927

I love reading classics. It all started as a teenager when I was perusing our family library, as I was wont to do on occasion, and there on our shelf was a copy of Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. It had a green embossed cover with gold lettering. It felt cool. I felt cool holding it. I wondered if it was as good as its cover and read the first paragraph. I was instantly drawn in. I finished the book in record time, for me, and my mind was blown. I never saw any of the plot twists coming. Most of the books I had read until then seemed weak in comparison. I had had my first taste of book caviar, and I liked it.

I'm sorry to say not all classics have lived up to Dickens’s high bar, Little Women—terrible, Robinson Crusoe—terrible, Austen-dull, dull, dull, until the last fifty pages. They are caviar of a different flavor apparently. However, many, many have; including Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes adventures.

The mysteries are fascinating, surprising, and due to Sherlock’s taste, always peculiar. Sherlock is more machine than man, so Doyle created his antithesis in John. Through him we can see Sherlock’s odd personality and exploits from a man with whom it is far easier to identify. John’s point of view is somewhat limited as Sherlock does much that we know nothing about because John is not present. It keeps the writing fresh though. After the first two mysteries, A Study in Scarlet and The Sign of the Four, I thought I was detecting a formula. Clearly so did Doyle, because the formula I thought I was seeing was never present again. Sometimes, there was a long backstory after the capture of the villain, sometimes it unfolds naturally, ending with the villain's capture or escape. Sometimes the villain wasn’t really a villain but someone seeking justice and Sherlock, bound by the puzzle but not the law, would let him go... Sometimes Sherlock is gone for weeks or months at a time, then he shows up in one of his disguises scares John out of his tweed, and then fills John in on his adventures. Sometimes the mysteries involve nobles and sometimes small folk too. The mystery just has to have stumped the Scotland Yard, which apparently isn’t too difficult, and have an element of weird to it.

For a nineteenth century man, Doyle writes women incredibly well. He neither exalts them or marginalizes them. Sometimes women have central roles (e.g. Irene Adler—the only person to outwit Sherlock), and sometimes not, but what is evident is that there is a respect for women that comes through in his writing. The writing is very readable, there’s no Shakespearean double and triple meanings and it does not employ archaic words and phrases. However, there are a few English forms of speech that made me chuckle more than once; “The ejaculation had been drawn from my companion by the fact that our door had been suddenly dashed open…” *Snigger.*

Reading an omnibus of this magnitude (1700 pages) was challenging at times. Many of the mysteries are a mere thirty-fifty pages long, some are over a couple hundred, but always it took a little time to become interested, then things get exciting and you learn bits and pieces of the mysteries, then it’s over. And again, and again, and again. I would put it down, read something else for a while, then pick it up again. It was oddly comforting to know that these stories were waiting for me.

A couple disappointments: Professor Moriarty was somewhat anti-climatic. Sherlock deals with him without the presence of his chronicler John, so, we only see Sherlock as a man worn thin and ragged in his quest to capture him as he recounts his adventures. It stinks that we’re not there when it’s happening. Of course there is the famous, is-Sherlock-dead scene, but then he’s back to reveal how he faked his death to throw of Moriarty's cronies.

Also, the Baskerville Hounds story was truly lame. John kept exalting it as the greatest mystery EVER, but the villain and his designs were mundane and not terribly surprising or great. Modern retellings have actually improved this story…

I leave you with one of my favorite character descriptions:

“His face was lean and haggard, and the brown parchment-like skin was drawn tightly over the projecting bones; his long, brown hair and beard were all flecked and dashed with white; his eyes were sunken in his head, and burned with an unnatural lustre; while the hand which grasped his rifle was hardly more fleshy than that of a skeleton. As he stood, he leaned upon his weapon for support; and yet his tall figure and the massive framework of his bones suggested a wiry and vigorous constitution. His gaunt face however, and his clothes, which hung so baggily over his shrivelled limbs, proclaimed what it was that gave him that senile and decrepit appearance. The man was dying—dying from hunger and from thirst... “ A Study in Scarlet

And that, my friends, is how a master does it.

If you don't have the patience for the full omnibus, here are a few of the best:
  • A Study in Scarlet - A masterpiece.
  • The Sign of the Four
His shorter mysteries:
  • The Red-Headed League
  • The Boscombe Valley Mystery
  • The Five Orange Pips
  • The Man With the Twisted Lip
  • The Adventure of the Speckled Band
  • The Musgrave Ritual
  • The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton - My favorite. John and Sherlock go rogue in this one and the ending is, oh-so-satisfying.