SEPTEMBER’S FINAL PHOTO

Last photo for September 2020bushboys world

This has been the kind of year where when it finally leaves, we’ll double-lock the door behind it. Please, 2020, don’t come back!

I tend to leave my last CD card in the reader until I have a new one with which to replace it. So I always know what my final picture for the month was because the CD is still in the reader. Let’s see what it was. Ah, one of the batch I never got around to processing. I meant to get to them, but I didn’t … so here’s a yellow tree the day before the wind and the rain steal the colors away.

THE CHANGING SEASON, SEPTEMBER 2020

The Changing Seasons, September 2020 – A Hard Month for One and All


It has been a difficult year. Possibly the worst year of my life and our collective lives together. And yet, despite this, we had a brief but beautiful Autumn. Early. About two weeks early, probably because of the long summertime drought. The drought ended a few days ago and it has been raining since then. Not pouring, though it will take a while to make up the 10 inch gap in water we suffered in August and September.

I took a lot of pictures, as did Garry. Some I have shown before, others are new, but all are from this month.


About the Changing Seasons


From Su Leslie:

When I took over hosting The Changing Seasons from Max at Cardinal Guzman, I carried on using the format that Max had developed. Over the years though, I think that we’ve all evolved different ways of approaching the challenge and for some, the original guidelines may seem prescriptive or even off-putting. My own view is that The Changing Seasons is an opportunity to reflect on the month that has passed, and to share those reflections in whatever way feels appropriate. For some bloggers, it’s a framework to record and reflect on particular interests and projects — like a garden. For others, every month is different, and so there is no set way of approaching it. I think we do need guidelines, especially for those who are new to the project. But do those we have still work? I’m interested in your views.

In the meantime, here is Max’s original statement.

The Changing Seasons is a monthly challenge where bloggers around the world share what’s been happening in their month. If you would like to join in, here are some guidelines:


The Changing Seasons Version One (photographic):


Each month, post 5-20 photos in a gallery that you feel represent your month. Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots. Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so that others can find them.


The Changing Seasons Version Two (you choose the format):


Each month, post a photo, recipe, painting, drawing, video, whatever that you feel says something about your month. Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material! Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so others can find them. One thing that won’t change though. Include a ping-back to this post, and I’ll update it with links to all of yours.


For those of us who have participating in this challenge for years … since the first years when Cardinal Guzman ran the challenge, I think we have our own style and know how to make it work. I could never use a single picture. I’m too indecisive. Given the rapidly changing climate we are experiencing, I think has become an important challenge. 

Like Su Leslie, this has been a debilitating month. It has been a debilitating year, but I’m grateful for the opportunity to contribute to this challenge. I want to see the how the world is going on, that the world is going on. Please don’t forget to put in a link to Su Leslie so she can collect our entries. The world has gone a bit mad and we are all a bit mad collectively and individually. May we continue to have world to exhibit!

ORANGE CARDINAL BABIES

First there was the big male orange Cardinal. He was orange and he stayed orange. Then along came and orange lady Cardinal and together, they made a few orange baby Cardinals who are growing up. Orange. Now, what’s particularly interesting about this is that they have found other groups of orange Cardinals. They have found a group of them in North Carolina. Cornell University’s Ornithological Department has begun to research orange Cardinals. They are trying to figure out whether or not this is a genuine genetic alteration or has something to do with nutrition or air or water … or something else. Although we are dead broke and in debt and getting even more in debt, I decided to put my money where my mouth is and I signed up for a monthly contribution of $8.00 a month. Not exactly a huge contribution, but I can probably squeeze that much money out of our tiny little budget.

The thing is, more than a billion birds have disappeared over the past 12-years. Maybe more. Originally, it was assumed that the reason for the plunge in bird life was habitation destruction. But now, they are wondering if it isn’t something more than that. We nearly lost our Robins and Blue Jays to viruses and bacterial infections. Many finches have eye infections. Certainly destruction of habitat is a major problem, but it isn’t the only problem. If we don’t research our birds, we won’t have birds and I won’t get to listen to the morning song I hear every summer’s morning.

A NUTHATCH BEFORE THE WIND AND RAIN

Today it was beautiful outside. The trees were golden and orange and red. But tonight, it’s going to rain and the wind shall blow up quite a storm, so there’s a very good chance that by tomorrow night, the leaves will mostly be gone. That is the peril of autumn. Rain and wind or early snow often ruins the display. But we got some good days and I got some lovely new pictures of a nuthatch. Because the autumn is about to pass, all my posts today are visual.

We simply could not watch the debate. We watched maybe five minutes and it was pretty much what we expected. I like the birds much better.

OH THAT FOLIAGE!

FOTD – September 26 – OH THAT FOLIAGE!

I have not had a really great day. Actually, I was doing just fine until suddenly, I wasn’t. I had a great morning and even finally made my banana bread. Different recipe and it came out just about perfect. The the migraine arrived and a few other things, probably connected to having been on antibiotics for close to a month at this point. My innards are not behaving well. To explain how well they aren’t working, we had mac & cheese for dinner. The ultimate, purely American comfort food. But it was comforting.

Garry took pictures yesterday too. I haven’t processed a lot of his yet because I keep falling asleep at the computer. I had a good morning, but the afternoon didn’t go nearly as well. I was hoping the banana bread would make up for the lack of a functional afternoon, but alas. It’s just a banana bread.

So here are pictures and I truly hope they will suffice.

STRANGE OUTCOMES FROM THIS STRANGEST YEAR

Who knew that  2020 would be a wretched excuse for a year? The climate is collapsing. Half of the U.S. is burning down, another quarter is flooded … and we up here in the northeast are 10 inches low on rain. That is a lot of missing rain. Considering that we all live on wells — there is no “city water” here — we are at the point of fearing lest our wells dry up. Meanwhile, all over the world there is a slow-moving but lethal pandemic. It’s not speedy as the 1918-1919 flu epidemic was. It’s probably not going to kill half a million people, but it’s doing pretty well. Europe is beginning to see a resurgence. The rebound that everyone expected seems to be inching up on us. The U.S. has exceeded 200,000 dead as of today, which is the first day of the Autumnal Equinox. We aren’t into our “second wave” because no one is sure we’ve entirely gotten past our first wave.

The economy is in tatters pretty much everywhere and there has been an international rise of nationalism. Trump is the worst, but Boris Johnson isn’t far behind. Why is it that when the world is at its most fragile, the autocrats and dictators seem to crawl out of every corner. And for even more obscure reason, we (and I don’t mean me or you, but “we” in a far more general sense) seem to accept this as normal. Maybe not initially, but ultimately we get tired of fighting the battle to be free.

Are we free? When was the last time you felt a real sense of freedom? I’m 73 and I’ve been buried under financial, emotional, legal, and child-rearing issues for my entire life. I have cooked every night and am still mostly cooking. I’m worn thin. Yet between my feelings of loss for the world that used to be normal and my very real sense of despair that we are losing the wilds and even our weather, I have weird periods of optimism. Garry says he has this feeling he never loses that ‘something wonderful is going to happen.’ He doesn’t know what it will be, but something.

Today I learned that the prices of houses in this area have gone up by nearly 20% since last year. Why? Because people want to get out of the city, get out of the crowded suburbs. Get out of there little plots of lawn and garage and move to someplace where there’s room between them and their neighbors. In other words, here. It turns out that living in the boonies, which no one wanted 20 years ago is now what everyone wants. Houses just like this one are selling like well, hotcakes. I’ve always wondered where hotcakes are selling so well, but that is a question I’ll never get answered.

Photo: Garry Armstrong – Our house in winter

The problem is I don’t want to leave the neighborhood. For all the problems of living in a small town with too little business and far too few facilities, I love the wildness of it. I love fresh corn and the friendly cows and goats and horses. What I really want is the same house I live in, but flat. Without stairs. I’m not sure that this is a viable option, but not having those stairs to haul myself up — and Garry’s getting to the “hauling” stage himself — would make life so much easier for both of us. And I don’t want to lose my woods and my birds and my squirrels. Even though there are many repairs this house needs, it is still saleable now that we’ve installed a new boiler. The other things it needs are basically small, but that was a biggie.

The house today

 

So for all the terrible things that happen, some little piece of good happens too. It’s not a big thing. Not something ‘wonderful,’ but not bad either. It’s nice to be in the black (not racist, just bookkeeping) for a change. I’m not sure what we will do. My best guess is that we will stay here because we don’t want to leave the area and maybe getting a better chair lift would solve the problem. The idea of moving is terrifying anyway. I remember when we moved here thinking they will have to bury me here because I’m never moving again.

I guess we’ll see if that turns out for be true.

VOTE YES ON ONE !

I know there are a lot of important issues. COVID-19. Climate change. Anything having to do with Prez 45 and/or any of his cohorts. The collapse of our and the international economy. Systemic racism and an out of control police department. Pointless wars. Destruction of our national parks . I can’t even list them. I get dizzy and physically ill.

But here’s an easy one for you, if you happen to live in Massachusetts:


VOTE YES ON ONE!


What, you ask, is ONE? It’s the big car dealers effort to make it impossible for you to get your car serviced wherever you want to get it serviced because they want all the money for themselves. Not only would this cost you a lot more money for repairs, but the dealers are not equipped to handle that many cars for servicing.

The thing is:

THERE IS NO PERSONAL DATA ENCODED IN YOUR CAR’S KEYS OR COMPUTER. Not to mention that when you put our car in for servicing, you are already giving the mechanic your keys, registration, and YOUR CAR. If you are that concerned about what your mechanic is going to do with your car and all that personal information — which you just handed to him — why are you giving him your vehicle, your phone number, and your registration? They don’t need to go searching for your data. You have already given him all of it. No one is going to work on your car without this information, not even an oil change or or an inspection. None of this information is encoded anywhere in your car. Not in its computer, circuitry, keys, or anywhere else. But it is on your registration and anything missing is on your driver’s license — which you also have to hand over.

Every time you need work done on your car, you are giving away all the information anyone who wants to rip you off could possibly need. There is no information in your car which would enable someone to take control of your car — or cause you to crash. Or attract sexual molesters to your home. No one needs to go searching for it in your keys (it’s not IN your keys) or in your engine’s computer (it’s not in there, either). If you have a bad feeling about the guy working on your car, go somewhere else to get work done on it.

That’s the joy of saying “YES” to ONE. You can go wherever you want.


VOTE YES ON ONE!


Your car’s functional data (engine, parts, etc.) isn’t a secret now nor has it ever been. Anything locked in your cars circuitry has to do with the functioning of your car’s engine and its parts. As far as the rest of it goes, you’ve already your mechanic your phone number, address, registration, AND keys, so what are you worrying about? And why? If you vote no on ONE, what you are doing is putting about 20.000 mechanics out of work, closing all the private garages in Massachusetts. Now your dealer can really rip you off. Again. At a time like this with so much unemployment, is this the best time to take a whole profession and eliminate it so the big dealers can be the ONLY ones who can work on your car? What if you live in the country? What if you bought your car in another state? What if you traveled a long distance to get your car at the best price — and now you’re stuck trying to find some dealer willing to work on your vehicle?

If they pass this law, you will be forced to line up at a dealer to get any work done on your car. As it stands right now, if you have work to be done under warranty, it can be months before you get them to find a date. Ever tried to get a recall notice dealt with? They never have the part and if it’s important, you can be driving around for months waiting for them to get around to you.  No matter what work you get done at the dealer, it always costs more than it ought. If you want “standard” work (oil changes, tire rotation, tune ups, etc.) done on your car, your dealer will charge you at least twice as much as a local mechanic would charge AND take a lot longer to boot.

How much do you trust your dealer? Or your dealer’s worker’s mechanics? Do you believe they are less likely to rip you off than the guy you’ve been going to for years? Why would you think that?


VOTE YES ON ONE!


Yes means “Yes, I want the freedom to take my car to anyone I want. I don’t want to be trapped by my dealer.”

We may not have a lot of power in this world, but at least we can still choose where we get our cars fixed. Freedom has to start somewhere.

HAVING ASCERTAINED I DON’T HAVE COVID 19 … WHAT’S NEXT?

Yesterday, I got sent to the COVID drive through. It was actually no big deal. Although I was unable to spit (I have dry mouth from all the Blood Pressure medicine I take), they stuck those big q-tips up my nose which was, despite rumors to the contrary notwithstanding, mostly made me want to sneeze. Today they called to tell me the test was negative. Which I figured it would be — except for about one hour yesterday evening when I was convinced i was going to die. Lucky me, I pulled through. Phew.


Today we concluded I have a really bad toothache and probably a sinus infection. Being as all this is getting done via zoom, it’s more conjecture than diagnosis, though I did physically see the dentist. The problem is the fever. Every day, it pops up around four in the afternoon. I take some Excedrin and it first knocks me out, then I wake up and don’t feel like my head is going to explode. It feels like a sinus infection. It hurts in all the right places and with the pain in my jaw to add to it, I feel like I’ve gone 10 rounds with Mohammed Ali and I did not win the belt.  The worrying part is why I have a fever. Oral infections have a nasty way of invading other parts of your body, especially your heart and frankly, my heart has had more than enough issues.

Meanwhile, today is our 30th anniversary (and they said it wouldn’t last … Hah!) and not only to I feel crappy, but even if I felt better, there’s nowhere to go and nothing to do — and no money to do it with which is just the icing on this decade’s cake. Garry made me a sweet little video about our marriage where he claimed to be to blame for absolutely everything that has gone wrong — and I know for 100% sure he doesn’t mean a word of it. But it’s sweet of him to take one day out of the year and make a 30-year apology for being such a stubborn SOB.

Owen is picking up Italian sub sandwiches and we picked up (among other things) a cheesecake, which is the only cake we like. I wanted the one with the strawberries on top, but is was three dollars more which was a lot of money for some strawberries. Besides, the boys like it plain anyway.

This is not the first unhealthy anniversary I’ve had. My second one was spent in the hospital having my spine repaired. I’ve also spent three birthdays in hospital. But one year, I got Gibbs on my birthday and that made up for a lot.

So it goes. The weather went from unbearably sultry hot, to chilly. Suddenly, we are dressed in sweatpants and sweatshirts and I’m deep in socks. it did this weather flip in less than four hours in a single evening. It still hasn’t rained, so despite the cold snap, we have no bright foliage. The dark green of summer is just fading out Hunks of green leaves are falling from trees. If we don’t get rain — serious rain — soon, many trees won’t survive the winter. Ellen said for the first time ever, in their woods trees just snapped in half. Other times, the ground had been soaked and they couldn’t hold their ground. This time, the wind came up and they broke in half. Not a good sign. Lucky we haven’t had any fires. New England is very treed — more than 70% trees — and a bad fire could wipe us all out.

I’m going t go find my warmer sweat pants. I consider it a badge of honor to not turn the heat on until the end of October, but this may turn out to be a cold one.

I’m taking the next few days off to try and let my fever break, my headache go away, and that pain in my jaw fade to a less jarring feeling of having recently been punched, I’m having trouble focusing. All this Tylenol and aspirin and the gunk I have to spread on the dry socket of my tooth aren’t making me feel at my best.

Meanwhile, just a note that I am not going to continue paying WordPress for the privilege of “doing my writing their way” whether I like it or not. I don’t know if I’m going to change platforms or finally, after 8 years, let it go. It has been a great eight years and I’ve enjoyed the writing, photography, and most of all your friendships very much. I am paid up through early February of 2021, but after that? I will be happy to send my email address to anyone who wants it so we can actually keep in touch, but I’m not enjoying blogging WordPress anymore.

For those of you who are content with the status quo, I’m content with your contentment. It does not work for me. I have noticed, that most of you who are comfortable with it don’t write the kind of complicated text amd graphics I use. If I were using predominantly text, it wouldn’t be a problem for me either — unless I was trying to do it all on a cell phone. I am in admiration of those who can write on such a tiny surface!

I do not know what piece of the market WordPress is aiming to get, but I don’t think they are going to get the young enthusiasts when they make the kind of writing young enthusiasts enjoy so hard to manage. Anyway, I have five months to make a decision, so I won’t be just vanishing. One way or the other, we’ll be in touch.

BIRDS ON A MONDAY AND A THIRTIETH ANNIVERSARY EVENT

Today is the day before Garry and my 30th anniversary. It’s been a long time a’coming. I spent the day taking too many Tylenol and finally going to the hospital to get a COVID test because I’ve been running a low-grade fever for weeks and I feel like my head is going to explode. Today is our 30th anniversary. No one thought we would survive a year, much less thirty of them. But as different as everyone thought we were, we were extremely similar in many ways. Stubborn, born fighters, never-giver-uppers.

Garry is far more given to that male habit of saying “Let’s talk,” then stalking out of the room as soon as you don’t agree with him, but that’s a guy thing. I expect him to understand … but husbands do NOT understand. They suffer listening to us, something Garry didn’t have to do until he got really much better hearing aids. And yet — we agree politically. We both read and write and research. We search for truth — and we find it. We have both worked hard for awful bosses and understand each others’ moans and groans.

Emotionally, we are a man and a woman, the two most incompatible creatures on earth, but intellectually we are exceptionally well-matched. You’d be surprised how far that can go in a relationship. And very attracted to one another too, which doesn’t hurt either.

We can’t go anywhere special for dinner, We can’t buy each other presents, though Garry made a special little video for me. I took some birdy and squirrelly pictures. Because the birds and the squirrels were very busy this morning.

IT’S A FINE LENS BUT MY EYES WILL HAVE TO GO!

Not being at all ready to accept camera failure as my focusing problem, I redid the pictures of yesterday since my friendly red squirrel was back. A lot of photos later, I knew my eyes aren’t sharp enough closeup on the LCD screen to be sure when shooting tight, that I’m in exactly in focus. I’m shooting with a 300mm lens across a 12-foot deck — which is a bit close for very tight shots unless you can clearly see the focus in the screen. Which I can’t. So what to do?

Back up or zoom down a bit. I zoomed down the lens to increase the depth of field, and voila!

Every picture came out sharp — and ALL of these pictures are unprocessed except for a bit of cropping and reducing their size they will fit my blog.

You might think autofocus would fix the fuzzy bits, but lenses are not electronic. They are optical. Ground from glass to specifications about which I know absolutely nothing, but those of you who are engineers — or opticians — would know. Although there are some electronic features attached to many lenses such as autofocus and electronic meter readings, but ultimately, it’s an expensive piece of glass. Difficult to repair and once broken, it’s gone. For many of us, the camera is the lesser investment. Cameras  are relatively cheap compared to their lenses.

Optics have limits and a lens can only do what the science attached to it allows — and, as I said, I know nothing about that sciece. Like a cell phone, I can use it, but exactly how it really works? Sorry, I missed that part of my education.

I do know what depth of field means, however. A lot of young photographers don’t even know what it is because they bought a camera, always use it on automatic.  As long as the picture comes out okay — why learn more? I can understand how they feel. There are things about which I have little interest, optical engineering being one of them. But I also think anyone who is serious about photography needs to know at a minimum, what an f-stop and ASA (which used to be”film speed”) does and how it translates to CD cards and other electronic recording media. Also, everyone should know what shutter speed does and how these things work together to produce a photograph that will make you say “ooh, aah.” If you are using a “non-DSLR camera” like my Olympus cameras you need to know how the lenses on my camera translate (more or less) to what you can see in your bigger lenses.

Sometimes, one just slips away …

I have three long zoom lenses. One is 12mm to 200mm which gives you a viewing that approximates 24mm to 400mm in a DSLR. I have two longer lenses: a Panasonic 100mm to 300mm zoom (approximates 200mm to 600mm per DSLR) and an Olympus 75mm to 300mm zoom (approximating 150mm to 600mm per DSLR). They really are not the same as a real 150 to 500 lens on a DSLR. They give you a similar “close up view,” but the lens is still whatever it says it is. This is confusing for me. I accept it as true even though all those number flutter past my brain without denting it. Nonetheless, I know the optical thing is true (and my eyes are fooling me) is the pictures comes out differently on each lens. And that includes when you are shooting at the same distance. Your lenses are in charge.

You frame it to get the best of the visual. Next, if you process it, you probably twiddle with the image. It’s okay. Really. Even the revered Ansel Adams twiddled with his photographs. He just did it in a dark room rather than on a computer. I used to know how to do that too, but it was so many years ago, I’ve forgotten it all.

Despite what I’ve forgotten, I recognize I get different results using my 12mm to 200mm lens then when I use either of the longer lenses. The way the lens focuses is different. One of these days, I’ll have the patience to set all the different lenses up and try to take the same shot using each, but not until we are out of what seems to be permanent quarantine and I have something to shoot that isn’t a bird feeder. Maybe a bridge or a dam and I’ll use my newly refurbished tripod. I got a new (much better) ball head and what a difference. Next, all I have to do is go somewhere and take pictures.

Tripod or not, If you shoot too tightly, your photos will be blurry. No amount of autofocus will help. Fixing the problem is easy. Back up or shorten up the zoom to get a longer depth of field, or as the Japanese so elegantly put it, “bokeh.” I’m sure glad it’s just my eyes which need new glasses. Glasses are a lot cheaper than pretty much any lens. Oh, and by the way, all these pictures are straight off the CD card without any processing except cropping and size reduction for publication.

OISEAUX DU JOUR

Another perfect day. Cool, comfortable, sunny. Not a hint of rain. Well, okay, that is I admit, a flaw because we really need rain … but it’s a holiday weekend so perfect weather doesn’t include rain no matter how much we really need it. These days, when I get up in the morning and come into the kitchen, the deck is full of birds.

Flock of Goldfinch

There was a cardinal and a goldfinch on one feeder and just the color combination was enough to make me happy. There were nuthatches darting in and out, Carolina wrens perching on the rail and a few squirrels poking their little heads over the edge of the deck. They fly around, each trying to protect his o her place on the feeder. We must have the best food in town.

I didn’t get the pictures I wanted because they all flew away by the time I picked up my camera. This is more typical than not. Even though I know longer believe that it’s a personal  issue, that is, the birds are not flying away because it’s me. But they are constantly in motion.

THE CHANGING SEASON – AUGUST 2020

The Changing Seasons, August 2020

So here we are with summer about to end. It’s Labor Day next weekend. Time to start school. Oh, wait, there is no school. Well, maybe there will be so crunchy leaves underfoot, if only we would get some rain. Everything is so terribly dry.

Personally, I’m a total nervous wreck. This whole refinance business is driving me crazy. My family seems to have the utmost confidence that we are going to be fine. They are sure I’ll manage to make this work while I’m in mortal terror that there will be a last minute glitch and we’ll be left with a complete disaste. I’m absolutely terrified. And apparently, the only one who is. How did THAT happen?

I haven’t taken a lot of pictures. Birds, mostly. Squirrels and red squirrels now. We seem to have more red ones than big gray ones which is very unusual since the red ones are being pushed out by the bigger grays. I put out dishes of water for the birds and squirrels these days because the rivers are running dry and it’s a long fly to the nearest water. It’s also apple season. This area is full of apple orchards, but there has been so little rain. Hard to know if we are going to get much of a crop without water.

I have a lot of trouble understanding people who don’t see the changes in the climate. Warm winters, bone-dry summers, no snow in winter, autumn vanishing almost entirely. We never did get much in the way of spring, but we used to get at least a few weeks of autumn and we always got a real winter. Now? We get sharks. Lots of sharks. Those warm coastal water attract seals and the seals attract sharks. Speaking of sharks, we got a new boiler. Now, all we need is a refinance to finish paying for it. If we run out of money, will they take the boiler back?

New boiler

And of course, no one goes anywhere. We don’t. We are the people the virus for whom the virus searches. We are ready-to-go victims. It’s a horrible way to feel. Sometimes I swear I can hear this unseen plague stalking us. It’s just a stupid virus. Not even a living thing, so how can it stalk us? Yet we feel stalked. I wonder if there will ever be a normal world again.

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About The Changing Seasons

The Changing Seasons is a monthly challenge where bloggers around the world share what’s been happening in their month.

If you would like to join in, here are the guidelines:

The Changing Seasons Version One (photographic):

Each month, post 5-20 photos in a gallery that you feel represent your month
Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots.
Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so that others can find them.

The Changing Seasons Version Two (you choose the format):

Each month, post a photo, recipe, painting, drawing, video, whatever that you feel says something about your month

Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material! Note that this may be harder for those of us who are still quarantined! If it weren’t for birds, I wouldn’t have anything to take pictures of!

Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so others can find them.

If you do a ping-back to Su Leslie’s post, she can update it with links to all of your links.