WHEN THE STARDUST RUBS OFF – Marilyn Armstrong

There was a piece on NBC’s Sunday Morning show about a guy who always wanted to be an NHL goalie. He never made it. Instead, he wound up as the equipment manager for a Carolina team. He wasn’t a player, but he got to hang out with them, be part of the team. Then, one day, the goalie was injured. They needed a backup goalie.

72-Peacham-Monday_022

Not even enough time to call one up from a minor league team … he got the call. Mostly, he sat on the bench, though he got to sit there in a full goalie’s uniform with his name on it. And for the final 7 seconds of the game, he was a player. He didn’t make the goal that saved the game and no one offered him a contract … but he could finally say he’d played in the NHL. As a goalie. His dream came true.

Most of us have dreams and occasionally, they come true. Or very close to true.

alfred_eisenstaedt_kiss_v-j_day_times_square_

V-J Day in Times Square, a photograph by Alfred Eisenstaedt, was published in Life in 1945 with the caption, “In New York’s Times Square a white-clad girl clutches her purse and skirt as an uninhibited sailor plants his lips squarely on hers”

I got to hang out with Alfred Eisenstaedt on Martha’s Vineyard and talk to him about his photographs I had bought several books of his pictures (we eventually owned several of his actual pictures) and he went through the books, looked at each picture and could tell me what film he used, which lens, camera … and most important, what it was that inspired him to shoot that picture in that way.

About his arguably most famous “street shot” of the sailor kissing the lady in white on V-J Day in Times Square in New York:

V-J Day in Times Square (also known as  V-Day and The Kiss) portrays a U.S. Navy sailor grabbing and kissing a stranger—a woman in a white dress—on Victory over Japan Day (“V-J Day”) in New York City’s Times Square on August 14, 1945. I asked him how he got the shot.

He said “I was walking around Times Square with my Nikon. Everyone was celebrating, and I was looking for something special, I wasn’t sure exactly what. Then, I saw the sailor in his dark outfit kissing the woman in white. I swung my Nikon into place and just shot. I had the right lens, the right film. It came out well, I think.” Yes, it came out well. Very well.

I will never get that picture or any picture like it because I can’t “just shoot.” It’s not for want of trying. I see a shot, but I stop to think. One second of thinking is more than enough time to lose the shot. In a second, the hawk takes to the air and the kiss is ended. That special look on his or her face vanishes.

In short, I think too much to be a good street photographer. Fortunately, I think just enough to be a pretty good landscape photographer. Even a sunset moves slowly enough for me to get a few pictures before it goes to black. Which is why I always carry a camera.

Blogging has given me other pieces of my dreams. I didn’t become a best-selling, world-famous author, but I have gotten to chat with authors whose work is best-selling and widely read. And who I admire. Every once in a great while, I get a “like” or a “tweet” from a favorite author. I’m as thrilled now as I was the first time I made contact with one of my favorite authors.

I suppose I hoped by being in contact with greatness, a bit of the star-dust will rub off on me

I ALMOST HAD IT – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Coherent

Early this morning, I woke from a dream I wanted to remember. It was full of people, but I don’t remember who they were or what they were doing or for that matter, what I was doing.

I sat up in bed for almost an hour trying to get a grip on it and I almost had it. I considered opening my computer and actually writing down something because I know that if I don’t write it down, it’ll be gone. Yet I hold fast to some idea that if I try really hard, I’ll remember at least a tidbit and be able to build a story on that.

You’d think I’d know by now. Dreams slide away faster than my memory of why I’m in the kitchen looking wondering and knowing there IS a reason. I will remember it about half an hour after I go back to the recliner and relax.

Dreams are much more slippery. About the only coherent thought about the process is for about an hour, I remembered it. Then, blearily, I went back to sleep and whatever thoughts I had grabbed onto went silently into my sub-conscience where presumably they will permanently remain.

I have a question about this, actually.

Do we really remember the things we forget? Is there a place in our brains where the stuff we knew and were sure we’d remember are collected? Is the door to that area which is locked, but if we found the key, could we open it?

Would all those random thoughts about things there weren’t terribly important in the first place, come pouring out like the contents of our little memory boxes from childhood?

Those little wood or metal boxes that held the key to our roller skates, a postcard from a long-forgotten friend, a report card from fourth grade and a poem we wrote on our thirteenth birthday which we were sure was going to take the poetic world by storm? Except there would be so many more things in our brains. The Tylenol we forgot to take and the toast we neglected to toast. The time we didn’t water the plants because we came into the kitchen to water them but left with a glass of ginger ale?

These days, I forget more than I remember. I’m trying to figure out if there is a special place in our heads where all these forgotten pieces live in mental cold storage. One day, the door will fly open and it will all explode outward. I better hire a mental maid to clean it all up.

RAGE AND HELPLESSNESS – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Number

I woke up this morning in a rage at my father, but really, at all the men in my life who have taken so much and given back so little. In all these years of living, how could I let so many numbers of years travel by while I failed to realize the amount of anger I’ve accumulated?

And how did I fail to realize how helpless I have felt through all these years?

Goes to show you — just when you think you are over the hump, there’s another hill right in front of you.

I think the hills are never done.

DREAMS – FOWC FROM FANDANGO AND THE EVERLY BROTHERS – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Dreamer


This song peaked in 1958, the year I turned 11. But that was not the end of it because many other people sang it and for reasons someone can probably explain, the words have had a strange way of sticking in your head.

This song has gotten stuck in my ears regularly over the years … and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone.

The Everly Brothers: ALL I HAVE TO DO IS DREAM!

DREAM AND REAL – Marilyn Armstrong

Juxtapose

In my dreams – now rapidly fading as dreams do when you wake – is that I was so exhausted I could not continue. I didn’t know why I was so exhausted, only that I could barely raise my head from the pillow. I knew I had to quit the job that I had and I wasn’t entirely clear what job I was working

It turned out I was working for the military, searching out information on obscure (unknown?) bases in distant places … and I was not allowed to tell anyone what I was doing because I was supposedly doing something else. I had gotten my old friend Dorothy to join me and she had been working on some other base in some other part of the world, but had finally had enough and quit.

I wanted to quit too, but I felt I had to stay because it was secret and military and somehow, important, though I wasn’t sure why it was important. Or to whom.

Juxtapose reality: Life has been exhausting. I do what I must and then I do what I should and just when I think I’ve done everything I need to do, it’s the next day and I have to do most of it again and I know it will never end.

Moral of the story? I need to cut back on what I think are the requirements of life. But I’m not sure what they are anymore. I’m no longer sure where the necessities are versus the things I really want to do. For whatever reason, they have become so entangled that I just try to do everything. Because I know that no one else will do them.

Having dug my computer out of hacker land, I’m changing the router – which I can ill-afford to do – but I feel pretty exposed and I need to feel more protected in a world gone mad with crazy people who are out to get me.

Why is anyone trying to get me? Or us? We have so little, why us? We know there is no answer to that question, or at least, no answer that will make us understand. The ugliness of the world is the real truth of it.

A group who had little feel they owe nothing to anyone but themselves. They probably laugh at us when they imagine how many poor people have been made even poorer through their efforts.

The right way to sleep

A cold shiver runs down my back when I realize that there are so many evil people in this world and my trusting them has not gained respect but simply made me a target.

If my dreams are telling me anything, it’s that there is too much on my plate. Too much of it feels desperately important and frightening. Oppressive. Somehow, I have to find a way to lower the pressure. I don’t know how.

I wish I had a list of ways to get it done. Something. This is no way for me to be living, not at this time in my life.

RUINED BY RETIREMENT – Marilyn Armstrong

Not all bad dreams are nightmares. I have dreams which are bad because they’re too close to reality for psychic comfort.

First up in last night’s doubleheader, I dreamed I urgently needed a shower. Okay, fine, soon as I get up, I promised my unconscious. Sheesh. It’s not that bad … is it?

The next round of REM sleep informed me I couldn’t fit into my jeans. That got me so upset I vowed if it turned out to be true, I would end it all by jumping head first into the bathtub off my shower chair. If that didn’t work, I’d have to get a new pair of jeans.

I tried waking up, then going back to sleep. Maybe it would shake off the dreams … but it didn’t work.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Leaving me feeling grubby with unbearably tight blue jeans. Was worse yet to come?

I decided not to lie around waiting for an answer I might not like. Dragging my reluctant body from the comfortable bed, I went straight for the dresser and pulled out my jeans. Shucking my nightgown, I stepped into them and discovered — oh joy! — they fit perfectly.

I would have done a victory dance, but I first needed to give cookies to starving puppies, start the coffee, and hit the shower. Today, I’m going to wear those jeans until I remember if I’m just going to sit around the house, I might as well go for something loose and stretchy.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Vanity and fashion have lost their power over me. Instead, it’s easy-to-launder, resistant to dog hair, and comfortable. Every time. I still think about putting on make-up, just to prove I can make myself look nice if I try …  can’t think of a reason. Garry genuinely doesn’t care. Unless someone is taking pictures and I don’t have a camera in front of it, it seems pointless and anyway, I’d only have to wash it off later.

Retirement has ruined me. Yet somehow, I love it. Retirement is good that way.

TWO BABY DUCKS AND A COUPLE OF KIDS

Every once in a while, I have a dream so weird, I write it down. I write it while I’m basically still asleep and sometimes, when I’m awake and I read what I wrote, it’s … well … almost as weird as the dream itself. For example …


I found 2 baby ducks with wings tinted mauve. I brought them home to live in a lake on the third floor of our condo. They needed food to eat, so I went downstairs where it was now the city of Boston. Apparently we had a pet store right under the house, so I bought them food and went back upstairs to feed the babies.

At which point, I realized that the two little ducks were small children though sometimes, they were also two baby ducks. Both ducks and children seemed surprisingly mature.

Garry and I decided to take the whole crew out for dinner. The restaurant was one of the places where only rich folks usually go, but both ducks and children apparently knew all about the markets and which companies would do well in the coming year. All the brokers were listening to the ducks or children. It was hard to tell.

By now, there were two children, both about 7, maybe older and they were giving advice to the traders in the restaurant. I think that’s when I started to scream. Too many children and ducks and the restaurant served tiny portions. That would make anyone scream.


And here it is, a week later and I haven’t the slightest idea what — if anything — it meant. Especially the baby ducks with the mauve wings.

Why mauve?

WHY DID I HAVE THAT PARTICULAR DREAM LAST NIGHT?

Dreams are as personal as anything gets. Normal dreams are some kind of weird, twisted personal experience, set in a hazy backdrop of ordinary things turned upside down or sideways. This particular dream was unique because it wasn’t personal. 


It was a real dream — I’m not making this up — which wasn’t about me and mine, except tangentially. It was the “all of us,” the giant “we” of the world. I didn’t like it. It made me angry. Sad. I don’t know which emotion was stronger or more painful, but probably the sadness which I am still feeling.

Last foliage – November 8

Last night I dreamed about the world. Not our personal, individual world. It was about the “real world” of politics and malaise. I dreamed about migrant workers who pick grapes and were starving because the pay they got was not enough to live on. I dreamed about a bunch of people I was supposed to be caring for.  For whom I had been preparing special food, but when I went to eat something, they snatched the food off the plate and ate it before I could. And laughed because they thought it was hilarious.

I thought: “I’ve been spending my days trying to make their lives better, yet when I want something, they take it and laugh.” Not a happy moment.

I woke up twice. Tried to shake the dream. It was not exactly a nightmare, but it certainly wasn’t pleasant.

I remember at one point, my guests in this big hazy house in which I was living were throwing food away … and the migrant workers were starving. When I suggested we give them the food, they laughed again.

November 18th — 10 days later

And I woke up thinking: “Why, in this country, is waste acceptable … but charity is scorned?”

Why are we so uncharitable? Why are we so uncaring, so unloving, so cruel? What is wrong with us? How did I stumble into this place I do not understand?

Why did I have that particular, strangely impersonal dream?  It is hours later. I’m still wondering.

What is wrong with us?

YOU BELONG TO ME – GARRY ARMSTRONG

I guess it happens to all of us. You’re asleep, deep in a peaceful dream, when you hear the music. You start humming and can’t stop as the words rearrange themselves. You’re half awake as the song continues on a loop.

See the pyramids along the Nile 
Watch the sunrise on a tropic isle 
Just remember darling, all the while 
You belong to me.

Images form in my subconscious. It’s the 50’s again and Jo Stafford is singing.

See the marketplace in old Algiers 
Send me photographs and souvenirs 
Just remember, darling, when a dream appears 
You belong to me.

I’m listening to WNEW-AM,  Frank Sinatra’s favorite radio station in New York City. They play all the great standards from the 30’s, 40’s and early 50’s. It’s “The Make Believe Ballroom with Martin Bloch”.  I turn up the volume a bit as Jo Stafford continues.

I’ll be so alone without you 
Maybe you’ll be lonesome too, and blue

I see grainy black and white images of Snookie Lanson and Dorothy Collins — a folksy duet — on “Your Hits Of The Week.” It’s the show that followed Sid Caesar’s “Your Show of Shows,” 10:3o, Saturday night on WNBC-TV, channel 4 in New York.

That was one of our two “stay up late nights” during those long ago years. Snooky Lanson, Dorothy Collins, Giselle MacKenzie and Russell Arms sang the top “tin pan alley” hits of the week in countdown fashion. In-between, there would be a “Lucky Strike extra,” an unknown song being promoted by the sponsor, Lucky Strike Cigarettes. The “Hits of the Week” singers were nice, but merely pale imitations of the star vocalists of the day. Jo Stafford, Teresa Brewer, Rosemary Clooney, Tony Bennett, Guy Mitchell, Doris Day, Sinatra, and so on. When Elvis hit the scene, the “Hits” cast looked downright foolish trying to warble songs like “Hound Dog” and “Jailhouse Rock.”

But I digress. Jo Stafford is still singing in my head.

Fly the ocean in a silver plane
See the jungle when it’s wet with rain 
Just remember, till you’re home again 
Or I come to you
You belong to me!

I can’t shake the song. Jo Stafford sings louder and louder til I finally awake. I stumble out to the kitchen where our scrappy Scotties, Bonnie and Gibbs, are barking for breakfast biscuits.

I belong to them.

 

WHEN A DREAM COMES TRUE

There was a piece on NBC’s Sunday Morning show about a guy who always wanted to be an NHL goalie. He never made it. Instead, he wound up as the equipment manager for a Carolina team. He wasn’t a player, but he got to hang out with them, be part of the team. Then, one day, the goalie was injured. They needed a backup goalie.

72-Peacham-Monday_022

Not even enough time to call one up from a minor league team … he got the call. Mostly, he sat on the bench, though he got to sit there in a full goalie’s uniform with his name on it. And for the final 7 seconds of the game, he was a player. He didn’t make the goal that saved the game and no one offered him a contract … but he could finally say he’d played in the NHL. As a goalie. His dream came true.

Most of us have dreams and occasionally, they come true. Or very close to true.

alfred_eisenstaedt_kiss_v-j_day_times_square_

V-J Day in Times Square, a photograph by Alfred Eisenstaedt, was published in Life in 1945 with the caption, “In New York’s Times Square a white-clad girl clutches her purse and skirt as an uninhibited sailor plants his lips squarely on hers”

I got to hang out with Alfred Eisenstaedt on Martha’s Vineyard and talk to him about his photographs I had bought several books of his pictures (we eventually owned several of his actual pictures) and he went through the books, looked at each picture and could tell me what film he used, which lens, camera … and most important, what it was that inspired him to shoot that picture in that way.

About his arguably most famous “street shot” of the sailor kissing the lady in white on V-J Day in Times Square in New York:

V-J Day in Times Square (also known as  V-Day and The Kiss) portrays a U.S. Navy sailor grabbing and kissing a stranger—a woman in a white dress—on Victory over Japan Day (“V-J Day”) in New York City’s Times Square on August 14, 1945. I asked him how he got the shot.

He said “I was walking around Times Square with my Nikon. Everyone was celebrating, and I was looking for something special, I wasn’t sure exactly what. Then, I saw the sailor in his dark outfit kissing the woman in white. I swung my Nikon into place and just shot. I had the right lens, the right film. It came out well, I think.” Yes, it came out well. Very well.

I will never get that picture or any picture like it because I can’t “just shoot.” It’s not for want of trying. I see a shot, but I stop to think. One second of thinking is more than enough time to lose the shot. In a second, the hawk takes to the air and the kiss is ended. That special look on his or her face vanishes.

In short, I think too much to be a good street photographer. Fortunately, I think just enough to be a pretty good landscape photographer. Even a sunset moves slowly enough for me to get a few pictures before it goes to black. Which is why I always carry a camera.

Blogging has given me other pieces of my dreams. I didn’t become a best-selling, world-famous author, but I have gotten to chat with authors whose work is best-selling and widely read. And who I admire. Every once in a great while, I get a “like” or a “tweet” from a favorite author. I’m as thrilled now as I was the first time I made contact with one of my favorite authors.

I suppose I hope by being in contact with greatness, a bit of the star-dust will rub off. On me

THE LONG STAIRWAY …

72-BW-Tower-Beacon-Hill_096

I once dreamed that I was climbing what seemed to be an endless stairway to the top of the tower. I knew there were important secrets at the end. Things I needed to know, so I just kept climbing.

When I got to the very top, the stairway ended. I found myself facing a steel door with a sign on it which said “Department of Files & Records.”

The door was locked. I didn’t have a key. A wave of sadness hit me as I realized I would not find out what was in that room.

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I still dream that there are secrets behind locked doors, up long stairways, at the tops of mountains, or buried deep in the memories of long-dead family members. I’m never going to get to that room to see the files and records.

Maybe none of us can go there.

Stairway: Daily Prompt

MY DREAM – IN FOG

DREAMING WHILE FOG CLOSES AROUND


My mind struggles through the fog. Who is that? I hear voices and recognize them. My mom, her sister (my aunt) Pearl. And associated uncles and … who else? My cousin Ruthie?

I’m dreaming because I do know they have all passed. My mother passed more than 30 years ago, the others during the last five years. For some reason, they’ve rented a suite of rooms at a (nice) motel, but no one seems to have remembered to invite me.

75-FoggyWoods-ANLG_00

I get the phone number and I hurry over, knocking loudly on the door. Suddenly, it’s clear and bright. My Aunt answers the door.

“Your mother can’t talk to you right now,” she said. Kindly. Warm. “Soon,” she says.

“But I need to talk to her, please!” I beg. Finally, my mother comes and she looks a lot younger than I do these days, younger than she was when she passed away so long ago.

“Mom, please tell me …” and I know that she has something terribly important I need to know, but I don’t know what that is.

She smiles. “I will, but I have something else to do first …” and she turns and goes back into the room while the fog closes in around me.

“Mom, don’t go!” I wail.

But she’s gone. I know whatever the secret she is keeping from me is lost. I don’t even know what the secret is. All I know is if I knew that answer, everything would be okay. Everything would be better than okay.

I can’t see her anymore. The mist has taken her and the motel is gone. I’m awake, sort of and I’m so sad. Because I will never know the secret my mother holds, will never even know what important thing I need to know.

And everywhere, there is fog.

DREAMS

I have strange dreams. Now and then, I remember one of them, though more typically, they fade as soon as I wake up.

A dream the other night was particularly vivid. Days have passed, yet I still remember it clearly. It wasn’t one dream. More like two in a row, both about animals. Not my furry children. Wild animals with whom, to the best of my knowledge, I am unacquainted.

multi lens feathers medicine wheel

I dreamed about an elephant, an old elephant who communicated with me telepathically. He told me he was tired. He wanted to die. It was his time to rest. Next came a big bear from the woods. Just to visit me. He laid down next to me on the sofa and hugged me.

The only bear with whom I am personally acquainted is Teddy … and he wears a feathered bonnet.

Teddy-49

The dream bear was wearing a navy blue sweatshirt.

Where do dreams come from? I know the theories, psychological, paranormal and upside down and none of them quite fits.

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Dreams seem to combine bits of reality, mythology, memories, and books I’ve recently read. Our current binge TV shows. All these unrelated images combine in peculiar ways, yet I inevitably awaken with a powerful sense that there’s something important I need to know, which I’m trying to tell myself. And which continues to eludes me.

Maybe some day, the key will come with the dreams. The lock will turn and many secrets will transform into knowledge.

Or maybe not.

MOM WITH CANNOLIS

Mom came to visit in a dream, a most welcome visitor. I hadn’t seen her in a few months, but she looked great. After a quick hug, she told me she’d brought a surprise.

Of the all the things I expect the deceased to bring when they visit from the beyond, fresh baked goods are not high on my list. Mom handed me a box. Brown cardboard tied with thin string. It looked as if it came straight from my favorite Boston bakery. I thanked Mom and untied the box, carefully setting the string aside so I could play cat’s cradle later. In the box were a ten gorgeous cannolis.

Cannolis

Oh yummy. I dug in, well into my third cannoli (Note: Food eaten in dreams has no calories, so always gorge on dream food) when Mom said that she was glad to see me again and drifted off. I woke up missing my mother and wishing we had a good bakery nearby. Then again, maybe it’s just as well we don’t. Dream food has no calories, but the stuff from real bakeries does.

Once upon a time, I dreamed of far away shores. Now I dream of Mom and cannolis.

 

SHARING MY WORLD – COMPLETE THESE SENTENCES

SHARE YOUR WORLD – 2015 WEEK #22

Never In My Life Have I … wanted to go anywhere that biting insects of any kind live. Especially not spiders. So swamps, marshes, tropical jungles and a good many parts of the U.S. are O-U-T for me. I don’t do creepy crawly things … and Garry really doesn’t like snakes. So between him and me, a big chunk of the world is not on our radar.

72-summer-woods_07

My neighbor wants me to help her … I have no idea what she wants. If she wants anything. The folks across the street have always been pleasant, in an impersonal way. Never spoken to the neighbors on our right who replaced the inimitable Ed the Plumber, with whom we had a good rapport. On the other side, lives the remaining guy of what used to be “the fighting duo” of our little corner of the valley. She left. He stayed. He kept the house and the Harley.

Neighbor in winter

When I was little I wanted … to be a ballerina. This goal was quickly thwarted by the discovery that I have absolutely no talent at all for dance. I turned out to be a slightly better than average pianist, tolerable painter, but a pretty good writer and photographer.

The biggest lie we tell ourselves and our children is “You can do anything you want. All you have to do is try hard enough. And never give up.”

No, you can’t. You surely can do something special, but you need to discover where your talent lies. Destiny doesn’t necessarily come to you in a flash on your sixth birthday. Wishful thinking is not the same as having a plan.

Teepee

All of this is just because I had to listen to all those trite speeches at Kaity’s graduation, where everyone assured everyone else that they could absolutely succeed at absolutely anything if they just kept trying. That is such a gross over-simplification and so misleading, it seriously pisses me off. What a terrible thing to tell a kid.

We can love doing stuff, but lack the ability to do it as a life’s work. Maybe a hobby, but every kid should understand it’s okay to fail. Sometimes, failing is what refocuses you in a better direction

You do not have to succeed or die trying. Especially when somewhere there is something waiting for you — at which you can excel. Without dying.

Will you come here to … have coffee and maybe go take some pictures? You bet!!


 

Thank you Cee for always looking for creative ways to show off our pictures and the weird things that go through our head!

FROM THE HALL OF RECORDS

Mystery Box – You wake up one morning to find a beautifully wrapped package next to your bed. Attached to it is a note: “Open me, if you dare.” What’s inside the mystery box? Do you open it?


Beware of boxes from the Hall of Records!

Beware of boxes from the Hall of Records!

If you look closely, under the wrapping paper and ribbons, you can see who sent it … or at least, whence it originated.

“Hall of Records,” says the label. I’ve been searching for this stuff  since I first had that dream, the one in which I am climbing an endless ladder in a very tall building until finally, I get to a steel door. Which is solidly locked. On which is a sign that says “Hall of Records.”

In all these years, I’ve never been able to go in there, never been able to see what kind of information the room contains. And now, here it is, next to my bed. The records. The lost memories. The suppressed memories. The experiences too painful to remember. All the buried stuff.

I look at the box, pick it up and give it a good shake. It’s heavy and solidly packed. No rattling, nothing loose inside. It must be crammed to its limits.

I’ve made my decision.

I carry it to the attic, pull down the creaky old stairs. Up to the attic I haul that heavy box, grunting with the strain of it. I have lived this long without knowing all the details of the worst days of my life. I think I can slide through the remaining years equally — and happily — in ignorance.

Now, I’m going to get some coffee. Mince pie anyone? Oh, and Merry Christmas!