A Change of Pace

That loud grinding noise you heard a while ago was me changing gears from knitting to crochet. (Yes, I am ambicraftous.)  My mom belongs to this Sekret Klub, and every year in early December they have a fund-raising auction.  The members bring things to auction off, pay inflated prices for each other’s stuff, and the money goes into a college scholarship fund of some sort.  Last year, I made her four buttoned cowls.  This year, I’m making her three sets of five crocheted snowflakes. I’m also making several sets of three for hostess gifts.

Tuesday after knitting group, I need to dash over to Michael’s and get some stiff stuff, some opalescent embossing powder, a container of sewing pins, and a paint brush.   I’m pretty sure I already have enough crochet thread in my thread stash.  In order to turn the snowflakes into tree ornaments, which is the goal of the exercise, they have to be blocked (stretched and pinned into shape), then soaked in the stiff stuff and sprinkled with opalescent embossing powder to give them just the right amount of sparkle. When that side is dry, you flip them over and repeat the process.  Once they’re thoroughly dry, you hot glue a little loop of the narrowest white satin ribbon they make to one “point” so an ornament hook can be attached for hanging it on the tree.

One down, many to go.

I googled crocheted snowflakes and found this website that has a whole slew of free patterns for them.  More than enough for the 15 I’m making for my mom.  I’ll choose the 15 I like best, and do them.

I was searching for “Russian waltzes” on YouTube yesterday (because I couldn’t remember whether this one waltz was written by Prokofiev or Khachaturian)(It was Khachaturian.) and found this serendooglously*.

And yes! It’s from a Russian film.  And yes! An English language version is available on Amazon, . . . And yes! It’s been shipped!  (It’s dubbed in English.  I wish it had been in Russian with English subtitles, but I may just turn the sound off and gorge on the video.)

Here’s the Russian language trailer.

Matvey Lykov, who plays the guy she really loves (spoiler alert:  Not the blond guy.), is yummy.  And that wedding ensemble she’s wearing in the boat is just fabulous.

 

*serendoogle — something you find serendipitously while googling for something else.  I made this word up by mashing “serendipity” and “google” together.

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I’m Ready For Some TV Knitting (and Watching!)

Well, the pattern is modified and the slippers are knitted and on my little tootsies.  The math involved makes my brain hurt, even when I’ve got a calculator.   My three remaining working brain cells are knackered, and I’m ready for a little mindless TV knitting.

They worked up nicely, but you have to sew up the sole and the back of the heel portion . . . grumble . . . grumble.  I strenuously avoid knitting patterns you make in pieces and then have to sew together.  If I wanted to sew, I’d get out my sewing machine.

The pattern is sized for a foot 9-10 inches (23-25.5 cm) long from big toe to the edge of the heel, which would accommodate an (American) 8 to a 10 ladies size shoe.

Yesterday was Veterans’ day, and I just couldn’t.   The picture of my dad in his dress Marine uniform at the start of WWII, the exact one (which is still in the exact frame) that his father had at his bedside while he was dying of cancer and hoping his 3rd son would make it home from China in time to say one last goodbye is just too fraught with memories.

My mom is an anniversary marker — she knows the birthdays and the date of death of each of her 12 siblings, her mother,  my dad, and my brother’s late first wife, and she never fails to remark on each event and how many years it has been since.  And she put that picture of my dad up on her Facebook page for Veterans’ Day.  That’s all well and good, but, we shouldn’t just remember veterans on Veterans’ Day; we should remember them every day.  They don’t just protect and defend us on Veterans’ Day.  They risked and continue to risk life and limb in our service every minute of every day.

And besides, my dad’s not the only veteran in the family.  Both he and my mother had brothers in the armed services during WWII, and they had a child who proudly served as well.

Of Cotton Gins and Litrachure

It hasn’t rained in over two weeks; the fields and, more importantly, the cotton have thoroughly dried out again, which is why my eyes are tired, blurry and burning slightly, and I have an intermittent, maddening and hacking cough.  The big green John Deere’s and Cases are out in the fields again industriously stripping cotton, and throwing all that Roundup and Quick Pick laced dirt and plant particles up into the air.   I’m staying as indoors and out of it as I can, but it’s hard to escape with our practically constant wind.  Since we have cotton fields 360° around us, we get it no matter which way the wind blows.  And they’ve started ginning it, too, which puts cotton fibers and more chemical-laced gin trash in the air.

This morning, I tried reading the short stories of Truman Capote (he of Breakfast at Tiffany’s fame). He’s supposed to be such a good wordsmith, and I suppose he is, but I find his subject matter dog-eared, slightly sordid, Tennesee Williams-ish for all the wrong reasons, and generally pretty depressing, all of which gets in the way of my appreciating his wordsmithery.  So much for litrachure.

My mom got her new TV, a 50-inch flat screen, delivered, set up and hooked up in her bedroom.  It replaces a 19-inch TV she’s had for 20+ years, which was so small, you practically had to have binoculars to see it from the bed.  Now when she falls asleep watching TV, she won’t have to get up and go to bed.  She’ll already be in bed.  Very time and labor saving.

Daylight Savings Time ended last night, and consequently, I had to go around and reset every cotton-picking clock* in the house back an hour.  I do wish the powers that be (such as they are) would make up their (alleged) minds once and for all about whether we get to keep that one stupid hour or not.  I wasted at least half of it fiddling with the durn clocks!

*except the "atomic clock" my dad gave me years and years ago.  All you have to do is push the magic button, and the clock telepathically gets the correct time from the Atomic Clock in Boulder.  Talk about a gift that keeps on giving.  Money very well spent there. (and my plonging clock that sits on the mantle.  I don't like fiddling with the mechanism any).

We Snuck Off For A Long Weekend

Friday morning, I got up at ye gods o’clock, bundled the fat(cat)boy off to the pet hotel and mom and I hit the road to Pearland again.   The Pearland Hyster Historical Society has their annual luncheon in October and mom wanted to attend, so off we whooshed.  It’s about 550 miles from up here in the flatlands to down there near the Gulf.  You will recall they had a hurricane there not so long ago and had a gawdawful amount of flooding in the Greater Houston Metropolitan area.  They’ve got most of it cleaned up now, although the recovery is still ongoing.

I didn’t realize until we were on the road that I forgot to pack my camera, so all but about three pictures here were taken with my phone.  My mom took the other ones.

We got there with only one small hitch — construction on Interstate 20 had the exit to State Highway 36 blocked off and we had to take the scenic route (FM 603) through Eula to get to it from the interstate.  We encountered a lot of road construction this trip, but we still made good time — We left at 7:45 a.m. and got to my cousin EJ’s house at 5:15 p.m.  We made our usual pitstop at our favorite gas station in Comanche, which is just about halfway.  My 2015 Corolla averages 30-31 mpg and I can make the drive easily on a tank and a half of gas.

My mom called my cousin EJ when we were about 5 minutes out to let her know we were nearly there, and we were told, “Never mind the sweet potato vine, park as close to the railing as you can.”  The vine grows in a pot on their back porch, and was just about to die off for winter anyway.

 

 

 

EJ is the daughter of my mom’s older sister VY, who was famous for her chocolate meringue pies, and she passed the secret on to her daughter.  My mom had this beauty waiting for her when we arrived.

Of course, the whole state is all in an uproar because the Houston Astros are playing in the baseball World Series, so we had to watch them play. Somehow in the years since my dad passed, my mom has turned into a rabid sports fan, and she and my cousin EJ had to watch the games they played in Houston.  (After watching my cousins little 48-inch flat screen TV, my mom has since decided she needs to get her one for her bedroom to replace the miniscule 19-inch TV she’s had for probably 20 years.  We’re going to go get her one tomorrow. — if she’s going to fall asleep watching sports games, better to fall asleep in her bed than in her recliner in the den.)

Saturday, we went to the cemetery to visit the graves of my uncles and grandmother. I had not seen my uncle HJ’s or QJ’s graves.  Here is my mom by her mother’s gravestone.   Her father died when she was very young and he is buried somewhere else.  My grandmother’s second husband’s name is on the headstone, but he did not adopt her children, who all kept her first husband’s name.  He was originally supposed to be buried beside her, but his relatives had him buried in their family plot near his birthplace.  It’s very confusing.  Unless you know the story, you would never connect my grandmother to those of her children who are buried next to her as they have a different last name.

After we left the cemetery, we drove down Yost Boulevard.  (The boulevard was named for EJ’s father’s people.)  Some of her cousins from that side of the family have bought my late uncle HJ’s house on Yost Boulevard and the property next door that was where my grandmother’s little house (below) was and where my mom was born has finally been sold to someone who has cleaned it up and is actually building on it now, which is great.Then

 

 

 

 

Now.

Then we went to the Historical Society luncheon.  Naturally, we had barbecue and all the fixin’s.  They had potato salad and beans for sides.  It was good. My mom is a year older than the mayor of Pearland (at left), and he always gets a kick out of seeing her.

My mom, at 93, is the oldest living graduate of Pearland High School (below).  The class of 1941 only had 14 students, and she is the only one still alive.

After the luncheon we went back to my cousin’s house.  Various family members gathered at her house to talk over old times.

The two ladies in the middle are my mother’s sister EW’s girls, MW and WM.  It was WM’s cows that I was worried about when the Brazos River flooded (cresting at 59 feet) during Hurricane Harvey.  She did lose a few of her cows, but she also lost two of her four “guard donkeys” that she keeps with her breeding heifers.  (The donkeys are very aggressive and will chase off any coyotes or dogs that try to attack the newborn calves.)  She was really lucky she lost no more animals than she did.  The dark haired lady on the right end is my cousin EJ’s daughter R. The bearded fellow on the left end is my cousin PJ.

DSCF2672

Sunday, my cousin EJ (2nd from right above) took us to eat at Red Lobster for lunch and then we headed for Galveston to see her son, his wife and their daughter.  This is the little girl I made all the baby clothes for.

Needless to say, she’s not a baby any longer.  She’s two years old now and a ring-tailed doozie.

Here’s her with her moma and daddy at left.

She’s my cousin EJ’s only grandchild.  Here she is with one of her (several) caches of toys.  With two sets of grandparents to spoil her, this child has made out like a bandit!

They live in this house that was built in the 1920’s on the highest part of Galveston Island, so if their house starts shipping water, the whole island is in trouble!  It has rained so much this year that the oak floors in the living room have buckled in two places from the moisture. (They’ve had 52.51 inches of rain so far this year.)

Here she is beside Mickey Mouse who, we are reliably (and frequently) informed, is jumping out of the pumpkin.  You will notice Meemaw (my cousin EJ) helping her hold one of the (real) pumpkins that was on the porch. (Peepaw sat this round out and stayed home.)  She’s quite an active little girl  — even without Halloween candy on board!

The port of Galveston is where my great great grandfather and most of the European immigrants to Texas landed.

It’s still quite an active port, with not only container ships and oil tankers coming and going, but also cruise ships.  If you recall, there were several cruise ships stuck out in the Gulf during Hurricane Harvey because they were unable to make landfall at Galveston.

 

 

 

There were two cruise ships in port when we were there.

Here’s why gas prices have been higher.  There are several large refineries in this area which were put out of commission for a while by Hurricane Harvey.  I think all of them are back in operation by now, though gas prices are still high.

 

Sunday evening, my dad’s niece EG and her husband PG came by EJ’s house to visit.  My cousin EG had both her hip joints replaced last month, within two weeks of each other.  If you are otherwise in good health with no chronic illnesses, they now send you to “prehab” to learn all the exercises and to get your muscles in shape.  Then, when they do the surgery, they spread the muscles apart to reach the hip joints, rather than cut the muscle attachments.  This makes the surgery much easier on the patient, and they can get you on your feet much sooner.  On the day of surgery, if you can get up and walk, and climb a short flight of stairs, they send you home!  She’s been doing very well and walks with only a little stiffness at only three weeks out from her second surgery.

Bright and early on Monday morning, when I got into the car for the drive home, I saw my odometer read 10,001. When I pulled into my garage, it read 10, 573.

We set a new record on the way home.  This is the second trip I missed the turn off for Interstate 610*, we took the scenic route through Temple because I missed a turnoff,** I missed the turnoff for the detour we took in Abilene (because we knew a key exit was closed due to construction) to get from Highway 36 to Interstate 20, and once I did finally make it onto the Interstate, I missed the exit for highway 84 West to Snyder!***

As a result of our various “scenic detours,” we didn’t get in until 6:20 p.m. on Monday evening. (We were under a bit of a time constraint, as if I didn’t get the fat(cat)boy checked out of the pet hotel by 7 p.m., it would have cost me another $20 to spring him.)

Coming back, we stopped for gas and a “pit stop” in Temple instead of Comanche like we usually do, and I had to stop to get gas on the way home from picking the fat(cat)boy up at the pet hotel because my “need gas” light was on and I had less than a quarter of a tank.  My car has a “range” feature that gives an estimate of how many miles I can go based on how much gas is in the gas tank, and it was showing 27 miles when I filled up!

But I want you to know, I was unpacked, put away, had all my dirty clothes washed, dried and hung up before me and the fat(cat)boy snuggled in for night-nights. (And the chicken cacciatore sauce did come out of my shirt — !)


*Although to be fair, the signage was confusing.  It showed one lane for 610 East and the lane beside it for 610 West.  Then there was an exit, which I assumed was for 610 East (which we didn't want).  But there was no subsequent exit for 610 West!  What I didn't realize until it was too late was that BOTH lanes were supposed to take the exit and THEN split to go their separate ways.

**Although to be fair, the roads were all in a mess due to major road construction, and key signs were missing. 

***Although to be fair, there was only one sign to indicate which exit we were supposed to take, so if you missed it, too bad.  The other sign had apparently blown down, according to the guy in the convenience store where we asked for directions.

About Time To Switch Over

Last night and Tuesday night, I slept with the proto-lap-robe* on the bed, and woke up to temps in the low 70’s F (20+ C) on my HVAC thermostat.  When it’s 71 F (21.1 C) in my office, which for unknown reasons is the hottest room in the house, that means the weather’s turning a mite cool.  I’ve already turned off the floor fans in both the office and the living room.  I checked the 10-day forecast and Thursday, Friday and Saturday will have highs in the 80’s (27-30 C), but Sunday the high is predicted to be 66 F (18.8 C) and we’ll have highs in the mid 60’s F to high 70’s F (18.8-26.1 C) after that.

I’ve already started thinking about putting socks on (I don’t wear shoes in the house.  When the AC is on, I go barefoot.)  I think Sunday, I’m switching from AC to heat in anticipation of that yearly milestone, First Use Heater Stink. Yeah, I know.  They’ve already had snow in Colorado, but I remind my readers yet again that the town where I live is at the same latitude as Casablanca, Morocco, and for us, 70 F (21.1 C) is a smidge on the nippy side.

I see by the clock that I need to bag the kitten hat I’m working on and put on some fit-to-be-seen-in-public clothes.  My mom’s coming by at 1 p.m. to pick me up and we are going to enjoy one of life’s little luxuries — a pedicure.

In the knitting news, I believe I can eke one more hat out of the Dazzle yarn, and then it’s into the washer with the lot of them to be washed with hair conditioner in the fabric softener hopper of the washing machine.  That’s supposed to soften scratchy yarn.  We’ll see.  Then I’m taking the whole bagful to the cancer center to be donated to those who have lost all their hair because of undergoing chemotherapy.

I finished this Monmouth hat (at left) the other day, and last night I finished this kitten hat (at right), which is the first kitten hat I’ve made that wasn’t pink.  I think I will make a pink Coriolis hat next, and maybe a pink Little Twisted Hat as well in honor of Pinktober.

I think I need to bump some priorities.  The reader’s shrug for one, for reading in bed — a light one and a heavier one.  I was reading in bed the other day, and my arms got downright chilly.  Yeah.  I know.  Life is hard.

*A single-bed size microfleece blanket I’ve been meaning to turn into a lap robe for, literally, years.

Adventures in Dentistry and a Short Trip to Atlantis

“The land that lies between ‘Factual’ and ‘True’ is the undiscovered country wherein tales are found. One of the most delightful discoveries one can make in this uncharted land is that a story does not have to be factual to be true.” thus sayeth WOL.

I need a sign that says, “Let Sleeping Dust Lie.”

OK.  So off to this morning’s adventure in dentistry wherein I had to get up at ridiculous o’clock because I had forgotten to get any Ensure or acetaminophen 500 mg tablets, because instead of grocery shopping Sunday morning as I had planned, instead, I drove my mom to the ER because she got waylaid by the norovirus du jour currently making the rounds, had had most of the usual symptoms for four days (mercifully no vomiting), and she and I were both concerned that she was getting dehydrated.  Four Cotton-Picking Hours Later we had a brief glimpse of a doctor who told us these “stomach bugs” are usually self limiting, that for electrolyte replacement, she should have been drinking Pedialyte instead of Gatorade (which is loaded with sugar and only aggravates the diarrhea — which I could have told her without making her wait for four hours).  Totally derailed both our plans for Sunday.  I ended up not going shopping until Monday morning and had to wade through large crowds (including screaming preschool age children) to do so.

Anyway, I had to stop off at Walmart to get Ensure and acetaminophen on my way to my 9 o’clock dentist appointment, and then on my way home had to stop off at Walgreen’s to get $23 worth of antibiotics.

As I mentioned in other posts, after I got that lower molar ‘extracted’, the hole it left was bone grafted.  The graft “took,” and this morning I had the post for the tooth implant put in, which required that the gum be incised so that he could get to the bone, and then stitched back up afterward.  I’m supposed to baby the area and watch what I eat.  Naturally, since I can’t have them, I’m craving these really crunchy crackers I like.  This time, unlike when he “extracted” the tooth (read: drill out the root canal part of the tooth to get it out), his nitrous oxide dohickey was working, so I wandered off to the ozone listening to Kevin Kendle’s “Journey to Atlantis” and didn’t much mind that he was drilling a peg into my jawbone.

Of course, immediately I got home, I popped an antibiotic capsule and two 500 mg acetaminophen, and knocked back an Ensure high protein formula, and did what anybody would do — I took a nap.  The key to pain control is to take pain meds before you need them, so by the time the numbing wore off I had enough acetaminophen on board that when I laid me down to nap, I was comfortable enough to sleep for four hours.

In the meantime, the knitting fairie struck and I had two little outfits to give to the dentist’ s receptionist, who is due in November.  There were a couple of minor blips in that process, however;  one was that I had to rewrite the hat pattern to be knitted in the round.

There are some people who hate knitting on double pointed needles so much that they will knit a hat flat and then sew it up.  And then there are people like me who are unfazed by double pointed needles, but hate to sew knitting.

It seems that there is this whole school of thought that approaches knitting from a sewing standpoint.  In sewing you cut out pieces of cloth and then sew them together to make a garment, so they write knitting patterns like sewing patterns.  You knit the garment in pieces and then sew the pieces together.  No, thank you. I would much rather work out a way to knit the garment as a single seamless piece.

The other blip was that I made a boo-boo in the little pink sweater and didn’t catch it until I was about three inches beyond it.  For about 20 stitches on this one row, I purled where I should have knitted.  Even though this little sweater was knitted flat, I was using double pointed circular needles.  That made it easier to fix.

Allow me to digress into technicalities.  Some people would have ripped the whole thing out back to the mistake and reknitted everything, which would have entailed a lot of time, work, pejoratives and scatological language.  I just ripped out the bit that needed fixing and reknitted just those stitches.

Let me show you what I mean.  Recently I made a booboo in a hat I was working on, and k1, p1, when i should have p1, k1.  it was only 8 stitches, but I had knitted about 4 inches beyond the mistake before I caught it.  Rather than rip out all that work,

I just ripped out those stitches that I messed up — ALL the way back to the mistake. You can see how far I would have had to rip out, if I had ripped the whole thing back to where I flubbed up.  Instead, this way, I just had to reknit 8 stitches for four inches rather than 90 stitches for four inches.

I got out my trusty straight double pointed needles in the same size as the 16-inch circular double pointed needles I was using to knit the hat.  (I have a set of double pointed needles in each size that I have 16-inch circular needles, for doing the decrease to close up the top of the hat.)

I picked up the stitches on a double pointed needle.  Ripping out just those stitches leaves a “ladder” of threads, one thread per row.  I then use a second double pointed needle to  knit each “ladder rung” of thread across the 8 stitches I need to fix, being careful to take the rungs in order working my way back up, rung by rung.

Because the needles have a point at each end, when I got to the end of one row, I just went back to the right end of the needle and started on the next row. And with a little bit of patience and attention, there’s the goof all fixed!  This is one of my Toboggans with the internal ribbing on the hem.  The white bit at the bottom is the cotton yarn I used for the provisional cast on.  This whole little episode speaks to something I do not always do, which is stop frequently and check over the work to catch any errors before I get too far past them. If I hadn’t caught that error before I’d turned the hem, I would have had to rip out clear past the hem, and it would truly have been a big, loud PITA.

In other knitting news, I finished the twisted cable hat. I like the way it turned out.  I need to post it and the rewritten baby hat pattern on my knitting blog.  But not today.  I think I hear some chicken noodle soup calling my name. . . and I need to take my antibiotic dose and a couple of acetaminophen with something in my tum.

 

A Rough Night and An Early Morning

To begin with, I had a hard time getting to sleep last night, and then about 4 a.m. I was rudely awakened by my tum having a ferocious argument with my supper, which supper shortly thereafter got the bum’s rush (Get out!).  I mean, I barely had time to get to the appropriate location before I was calling Huey!  I was just drifting off to sleep again at about 6 a.m when I had to get up precipitously again. (And stay out!).  I finally got to sleep again, only to be awakened at a quarter past 8 by the loud growl of a chain saw beside the house.

I had arranged for a tree trimming guy to come out at around 9:30 this morning to cut a half broken limb from B’s pecan tree that was dangling astride my cable wire.  I had noticed it the day before when I had a cable guy come out to try to find out why every 15-20 minutes, my TV picture would freeze and “pixelate” for a second or two, and why when I was streaming music, it would stop abruptly for a second or two. It was a sizeable branch, and if it had finished breaking it would have fallen on the cable wire from the pole to the house and knocked the wire down.  If that had happened, I would have had to pay for having it restrung — and you can bet it wouldn’t be cheap!

Yesterday afternoon, after the cable guy had left, I was able to sweet talk my landlady, who is really a very nice lady anyway, into springing for the cost ($350) of having the tree trimming guy come out to not just trim the dangling pecan branch, but remove the 6-foot stub of locust trunk at the side of the house that had riotously resprouted, remove the Siberian elm saplings from and trim what the landlady says is a yaupon holly (Ilex vomitoria) growing between my garage and B’s, but which I think is a Japanese holly (ilex crenata).  (Yaupons have red berries and this thing doesn’t.)

The tree trimming guy was supposed to come out at about 9:30 or 10 this morning, but he was out at 8:20 (!) sawing away on the other side of my bedroom wall, taking down the locust trunk.  He had this little chainsaw on a pole contraption that made short work, not only of removing the Branch of Damocles,  but of trimming all the branches on both B’s pecan (her yard is “squirrel heaven”) and my (#$*&%! beans which nothing eats!) locust tree that could hit against the cable wire in a wind and cause problems. (In the flatlands, “wind” is air moving in excess of 20 mph.  Air that’s moving slower than that is classified as “light breeze.”)

He located and stumpified the Siberian elm saplings in the mystery bush between the garages and winkled them out, then trimmed the thing back into submission so it looks very nice now.  Not as boxy as it should, but a lot better than it did.  And that decapitated trunk by the side of the house that had resprouted these wild wavy branches all over the place was cut down, cut up, and removed.  He made short work of it, and also “neatened” up the adjacent tree beside the fence.

The tree trimming guy was a very nice, and quite large, Black man who sounded like he might have come from Jamaica.  Now, my mom, even on such brief acquaintance, would have found out his wife’s name, what she did, the names and ages of all his children and grandchildren (he was in his late 50’s), and would have gotten the skinny on how a Jamaican had ended up on the flatlands of Texas, inside of about 10 minutes.  (I often think my mom missed her calling.  She would have made a crackerjack investigative reporter, or private investigator.)

Oh, and yesterday afternoon, after I had advised B that she might discover a large Black man with a little chainsaw on a pole in her back yard tomorrow (I didn’t know where he’d have to go to reach that pesky branch), we were standing on her porch talking about things and stuff, when a hummingbird came up and started in on her Turk’s Cap shrubs (Malvaviscus arboreus ) which is a species of hybiscus. I think it was a female/juvenile rufous hummer (Selasphorus rufus) but I wouldn’t swear to it.  Could have been a female or juvenile ruby-throated (Archilochus colubris).  Seeing a hummingbird never ceases to thrill and delight yrs trly.

So, the tumult and the shouting having died, the tree guy and the trimmings having departed, and the experience having been duly blogged about, I think I’m going to take my quarrelsome tum back to bed and see if both of us can catch up on some sleep.