Thursday, March 14, 2013
I was raised by people with good senses of humor. My Mom is more the snarky comedian, extremely quick-witted and a bit sharp tongue. She laughs a lot, and we can riff on a topic for hours. My Dad wasn't like that, he didn't quite get our fast-paced zippy repartee. However, Dad was great with the bigger jokes, the funny stories, the things you had to work at to get to the humor.
When I was in my early 30's I moved to my home town, West Table, a small town in the lower Midwest. It was wonderful to be back, and especially wonderful to be near my folks again for the first time in well over a decade. I'm thankful I did it, because I got several good years with my Dad before he got sick - I'll treasure that for the rest of my life.
Dad and I had a great rapport. We knew each other well, and gave each other endless amounts of trouble. He was a huge tease, and I learned to tease back. When I moved home I got a job for one of my best childhood friends as his legal assistant.
As some background, my friend and his best friend/debate partner from high school had both gone to law school. We'll call my boss Bubba and his best friend Jake. Jake and I had hated each other almost from the start - it was one of those more or less friendly rivalries, where we tried to top each other and out-smart-ass each other. Our antagonism was well known, and one that my father and I had joked and talked about many many times over the years. Jake's law office was right across the street from Bubba's.
My father loved to call up to the office and tease me and give me a bad time. One afternoon he called me to give me a mock verbal beating over something I'd neglected to do for him, or was late getting done. I don't remember now what it was - some errand, or task at their house. The phone rang and I immediately recognized Dad's voice, but he put on like he was a client.
"Hello, I'd like to see about hiring an attorney to represent me in a case of potential child abuse."
I grinned, and immediately answered with "I am so sorry sir, but neither of my attorneys would handle a case like that. However, there is an attorney across the street who would not only represent you, he'd pay you to commit the crime in the first place."
I listened as my father started to howl with laughter. Apparently (according to my Mom) he practically fell off his chair. Dad was very hard to get to laugh - he was more of a snickerer than a guffawer.
Later on, as Dad recounted the story to anyone who'd hold still, he said he had the instant image of Jake pulling out his wallet, saying "Hell yeah, how much can I pay you to beat her?"
Originally posted at TIBU on 9/14/2007, presented here with edits and additions.
Tuesday, March 12, 2013
This is a letter from an old friend of the family, that I read at the memorial service. RJ Smith was an Episcopal priest who was from West Plains. He ran a program for boys who had been non violent offenders, where they could work and pay restitution, as well as learn to be more productive. My father was very involved with RJ's work, and they were dear friends who went at politics hammer and tongs as often as they could. We lost RJ several years ago as well, another hard loss for my life.
I could have started today in a thousand different ways, but none would have been as sad as starting it by reading your letter. How very sad it makes me to hear of Clifford’s death.
I don’t know and can’t explain the “chemistry” that existed when we were together. Most of the folks who knew both of us were amazed that we had such a comfortable relationship. Logically, we should have been at each other’s throats, all the time. Well, if the truth be told, we were, but always with a great deal of humor and mutual respect. I don’t think either of us ever missed a chance to “twist the knife” in the other if the news from Washington gave us ammunition (and doesn’t it always?). Clifford the rock-ribbed conservative vs. R. J., the “yellar dog Democrat.” We would attack, insult and ridicule the opinions of each other and then go to our respective corners feeling very good about having had a battle royal with a worthy opponent. Whenever I headed to your house to see him, the adrenalin would start to surge long before I turned onto East Main!
Your father was a strange breed--a species not often found. I guess if I had to find one word to describe this man I liked so much, it would be “integrity.” He had it in abundance. On any number of his beautiful creations, there were several layers of varnish. On Clifford’s words, there was none. Whether he spoke from his brain or his heart, his words were straightforward, honest and to the point. God knows he tried, thousands of times, to convince me of the “righteousness” of his position, but he never became angry or frustrated when I politely refused to “convert” to his way of thinking. He would just shake his head and make some sort of comment about “young people and their crazy ideas.”
I don’t know if your father ever read Shakespeare or not--I don’t recall ever touching on that subject. But if he did, he must have absorbed one of the greatest lines in all of William’s fine works: “This above all, to thine own self be true. And, it must follow as the night the day, that thou canst not then be false to any man.” I can’t think of any words better than these to describe my friend, Clifford.
Please give my love and sympathy to your mother, Teresa, and take good care of her and yourself. You´re fortunate to have had Clifford for so many years. He managed, in that time, to mold a daughter who reminds me, in many ways, of him. His only failure, as best I can see, was sending her to M.U. instead of a really good school just over the state line in Kansas!
Friday, March 8, 2013
I do so wish this was a better photo...
This is Dad, hard at work in his woodshop in the basement at 510.
And here’s one shot of his wood. Please click through and look at the whole set if you’re interested. He was a remarkable man and an incredible artist.
I’ll be adding more as I find them. I’m sure somewhere in my photos there are a few more shots of his woodwork, and I plan to set up some while I’m at home in West Plains next month.
Wednesday, March 6, 2013
My Dad’s woodwork was highly sought after. His custom order list had become a lengthy thing by the time he passed away, and it had been packed and highly competitive since I was in high school. As my friend K. recalls, he got bumped way up the list by his reaction to my Dad’s woodwork - and it usually took a pretty special event to move someone up to the top of the list.
Dad worked with wood most of his life off and on, and by the time we moved to Oklahoma (when I was about 2) he had started thinking of it as a pretty serious hobby. The garage at our house in OKC slowly filled with woodworking equipment, and he quickly gained another woodworking buddy across the street who had a garage pretty similarly outfitted. Dad’s foray into woodworking started with these very interesting wooden planters, assembled with thin rectangles of wood in sort of a log-cabin style. Hard to describe, but I can see them clearly in my head. As he went along he developed the rudiments of his mosaic style, and by the time we moved back to West Plains seven years later, he had started really exploring the mosaic-in-the-round motif.
A year or so after our move, Dad started booking craft shows around the Ozarks. One of the favorites was at Bennett Springs, Missouri, at something called Hillbilly Days (a show and festival that continues today, 30 years later). The story my friend J. referenced happened there. We were sitting in the booth and a man came by with a woman who was obviously his wife or girlfriend. She had quite pointedly picked out a piece and was letting her guy know in no uncertain terms that he was going to buy it for her. So, the dude swaggered over to Dad and said “I’ll give you $XX for this.” Now, keep in mind that $XX was significantly lower than Dad’s already very reasonable price - he never really charged anything close to what he could have, given the artistry of his pieces, and the typical reaction to that was people begging him to up his prices.
Mrs. Swagger was extremely unhappy with Dude Swagger, and she let him know it... and asked him to just please pay what the price was on the item, and get it for her. He brushed her off (apparently to try and impress her with his ability to dicker) and repeated himself to my Dad: “I’ll give you $XX for this.” My Dad smiled politely and replied that his prices were set, they were already quite low, and he didn’t dicker.
Dude Swagger rolled his eyes and laughed and said “You’ll take $XX rather than take it home. I’ll come back tomorrow and I bet you’ll let me buy it for $XX.” Dad repeated himself a bit more emphatically at this point. Mrs. Swagger was terrified at this point, thinking her Swaggering Swain was going to screw her out of one of Dad’s amazing jewelry boxes. Dude Swagger repeated his price confidently.
Dad finally got a little put out. He said “Look, Mister. I don’t dicker, period. I would rather give this bowl to the next person that walks past here than let you have it for a penny less than the price I put on it.”
Mrs. Swagger was horrified. Dude Swagger smirked and said didn’t believe that. So, my father did what my father did best - proved himself more stubborn than pretty much anyone on the planet. Right at that moment down the aisle came a dear little old lady, moving slowly with a cane, taking all the sights of the show in with a smile. My father picked up the box in question and moved out into the aisle right toward her.
“Ma’am” my Dad began. “I saw you coming down the aisle, and you remind me a great deal of my beloved grandmother, who raised me. It would mean a lot to me if you’d let me give you this jewelry box I made, since I was never able to show any of my woodwork to my grandmother.”
The little old lady was delighted, Mrs. Swagger was broken-hearted and extremely pissed off at Dude Swagger, and Dude Swagger had all the air let out of his sails. My father sat down with a satisfied smile, and Dude Swagger slunk off getting a shrill earful from a very dissatisfied Mrs. Swagger.
For years afterward this little lady and her family would return to the show to see my Dad. Her son (whom she lived with) said there was a little table by her favorite chair that hosted the jewelry box, and woe to anyone who touched it but her. My father was a happy man for many years afterward, having mixed a righteous comeuppance with an extremely good deed. Granted he hated that Mrs. Swagger didn’t get what she wanted... but he was pretty sure that she came back by herself later and bought a different box without Dude Swagger’s help.
We were able to set up at craft shows for about 5 years, I think. Then there came a day when Dad would show up and put his items out on the tables for a two or three day show, only to find people who had been waiting (sometimes for hours) for the ‘gate’ to open, so that they could get in and purchase just his items. So many times we were left with nothing to sell after the first few hours, and Dad eventually got tired of it and quit doing art craft shows. After that he stayed home and people came to him, keeping his custom order list packed and him very busy with work to do.
Monday, February 25, 2013
One of the best ways for me is breathing, and counting my breaths. I set up a pattern and try to keep with it. If my mind wanders, I start the pattern over again. That's it. One of the patterns I use is: breathe in to the count of four, hold for four, breathe out for four, hold for four, repeat. Pick the number you're comfortable with, and never overtax yourself because that negates the whole purpose. Another good one is just count five breaths (with one inhalation and one exhalation counting as one) and start over. If you get distracted, start back at one. It is amazing how "zen" you'll feel, and how fast. Try it anywhere - you can zone out with noise or silence, day or night, in any comfortable position.
The point of meditation for the average busy adult is to find a space inside our minds where we can be calm, cool, collected, and safe. I'm trying to use these brief but intense meditation breaks each day to help with my pain issues and focus problems, and I have hope that they'll lead me into the ability to do longer and deeper mediation sessions as I go along. Who knows what I'll find deep down in the crevices of my brain!
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
In a week we'll be celebrating a holiday we know well, Groundhog's Day. What many don't know is that the roots of that day are in the Gaelic holiday Imbolc, the Feast of Brighid, when it was a tradition to predict the weather for the year. Brighid is also the Goddess of craftsmen, of the forge, of fire, and of creation and new birth in general. Imbolc, in fact, means "in the belly", which refers to the fact that animals are starting to stir and get pregnant and get ready for raising their young. Other traditions at this time of year relate to our more familiar custom of making New Year Resolutions, but very much in the sense of creativity, teaching, and bringing things to life.
So what are you thinking about doing this year? Do you have plans to create something new? This year my goals are "Move more, make more art." I've already got a start on both. I've worked on a few fun art projects and mapped out a few more. I want to concentrate a lot of efforts in the area of my art, and I would love to find places to teach polymer clay techniques, as well as Reiki. I started going to the pool at our local fitness center. I'm not aiming for a body revolution, but I'd like to see some changes in how I look and feel.I would like to end 2013 with some concrete steps made toward creating a "new me" physically. I don't just mean losing weight (that would be nice, but I'm more interested in inches than pounds), but just having more energy and being able to get more done in a day.
I'd like to be a lot more active and less ouchy Teresa in the next twelve months! The benefit to making more art is it will make me happier and more likely to pay attention to my body. The benefit of paying attention to my body is that I will feel like making more art.
Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Dearheart, you won't sell a lot of makeup that way...
I've never been much of a girl. Oh, I'm quite the woman, and I'm rather womanly in all sorts of ways, but I'm just not "girly", never have been. I'm more so these days, I actually wear makeup from time to time, and pick my clothes to match (will wonders never cease!)... but it's hard to keep up with that stuff chasing a Bundle, so it isn't something I'm too into. I've always figured that if someone was going to like me they were going to like me unshaved legs, no makeup, wild hair and all... lo and behold, they have, so no worries.
Sadly there are a lot of women out there who proseltyize makeup like the most ferverent religious fanatic. I've been chastized by friends for not wearing makeup, not wearing matching underwear bras (that stuff *matches*??? Wow), as well as not being thin and a variety of other female sins. I've been looked at with shock and horror because I "managed to get a man" looking like I do. I'm fairly used to it, but it still amuses me to no end.
My favorite incident in this vein came in a Wal Mart in my hometown, a small Southern Missouri town. It's late at night. I'm tired and ill, and at this point I probably haven't brushed my long hair in quite a while. Sweatshirt, comfy pants, sandals... you get the picture. Not exactly dolled up to shop for groceries, or whatever I was there for. Around the corner whirls a woman. She was probably in her mid 20's, early 30's. She was wearing foundation WAY lighter than her skin tone, dramatic blues and greens on her eyes, plucked brows drawn in black, heavy mascara, blush way brighter and more vivid than she should have been wearing. She was in a really fancy black lacy dress, hose, heels... far too dolled up to be shopping at Wally World.
As she bustled by me, she stopped stock still. I walked on, and heard her hurrying up behind me. She got my attention saying (in far too thick a Southern accent for my hometown) "HONEY! Oh, HONEY!" As she came close she said "Honey, I sell Mary Kay*..."
I can be brutal, and I think I made this woman cry. I feel bad for it now, but at the time I felt vindicated. "Lady," I said. "I know I'm fat and ugly, but that doesn't give you the right to run up to me in Wal Mart to try to get me to turn pretty."
Not one of my finer days, but then again? Not one of hers.
*for those who might not know, Mary Kay is an old style cosmetic company, one that's been the staple of many southern Missouri ladies for generations.
Sunday, July 15, 2012
Welcome to Hell, here's your toddler.
First of all let me say that I know not every child is the same. I know not everything works on every child. I know that each interaction between a parent and a child is unique. I do know these things. I however maintain that there are certain Great Truths Of The Universe, and this is one of them:
"NO" is a complete sentence. "NO" is a good word. "NO" is not harsh, mean, evil, dirty or bad. "NO" teaches, and children need to learn. "NO" teaches boundaries and children need boundaries. NO is GOOD.
We all know the parent(s) who can't say no to their child. We see their kids, ripping the windowshades, pouring lemonade on the good carpet, screaming, throwing things at people... while Mom or Dad chuckles and says "Oh, little Bubba is so full of energy." They watch, unruffled, as Bubba draws on the new wallpaper with permanent markers, saying "Oh, little Bubba is so talented! He'll be an artist someday." We've all heard them say "Oh, don't say no! It will stifle their creativity, harm their self esteem, make them sad and anxious." I beg to differ. "No" is a staple word in this household, and I couldn't ask for a child with more self-esteem, more independence, more confidence in himself than my Bundle. He has never self-comforted, he sleeps without a sacred stuffy, arms spread wide open, on his back most of the time. He bounces around the house like a happy little cricket, chirping and laughing and playing. He doesn't *like* the word "No" (who does?) but he deals with it. Sometimes he deals with it badly, and he gets punished. When he deals with it well he gets praised and petted. I have faith that the latter will win out.
I know that a well-placed "No!" teaches Bundle that there are limits to his world, boundaries to what he's able to get into or take away. I need him to know that That Box isn't something he can get into, because if he goes to a playgroup or club at some point there will be lots of Those Boxes that he can't get into, and the punishments will be more public and more severe than my relatively nice "No!". When he has a job in an office he has to know that there are things that are off limits - what happens to the guy in the next cube who goes through the bosses desk drawers? They don't end up too happy, or too employed. I'm teaching him "No" for now, and for later. It's my gift to him.
When my Bundle learned to crawl I discovered something exciting, something I'd always suspected: children understand what "No" very early on. I began to employ the twofold strategy of "No" and "redirect". You tell them no, then you move them, or hand them something different and take the offending article away. It works miracles for the littles, although it isn't quite as easy to make work as they get older - the older they are the fancier your footwork has to be. Three is a wasteland in between blithely dealing with pretty much anything you hand them, and fixating on one item that they *have* to have right now right now RIGHT NOW! They're still a little too little for reasoning with, and bribes only have so much use at this point. I've had a reasonable amount of success with "If you are good when we go into the store, X will happen later" - but "later" is so far away for a tyke, that isn't the easiest thing to employ.
I've learned that the strategy really does need to be twofold, though. "No" without redirection is empty - while I know that they understand the word to a certain extent, their brains are still developing, so it isn't as full an understanding as it will be in a few years. The word "no" gives them a frame of reference for the redirection: "Mom is moving me away from that, and she said no to that... so that must be off limits. She gave me this, this must be okay." Likewise, redirection alone is nothing... just moving a child away from "that" doesn't help them associate "that" with danger or wrongness. That word "no" needs to be part of the equation, so does redirection. It's a package deal.
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Monday, January 16, 2012
Tao Te Ching - 1
(translation by Stephen Mitchell)
The tao that can be told
is not the eternal Tao
The name that can be named
is not the eternal Name.
The unnamable is the eternally real.
Naming is the origin
of all particular things.
Free from desire, you realize the mystery.
Caught in desire, you see only the manifestations.
Yet mystery and manifestations
arise from the same source.
This source is called darkness.
Darkness within darkness.
The gateway to all understanding.
My favorite part of this is the two lines "Free from desire, you realize the mystery. / Caught in desire, you see only the manifestations." I've read it translated many different ways, but it all seems to add up to the idea that detaching yourself from the material is the way to be spiritual, and attaching yourself to the material is the way to understand the world. While this sounds contradictory, it really doesn't seem that way to me. To me it speaks of 'all things in moderation'. Understand the material, care for your material possessions, respect the material possessions of others, but don't overdo on the material. Learn to see the spirit, learn to look inside and communicate with your inner spiritual being but don't spend every second of your life so bound up in the ethereal that you lose your footing on the Earth. You will gain spiritual knowledge if you aren't so attached to the material that you can't focus on the inner self when you need to, and you will be able to prosper in the world if you are sufficiently aware of what's going on around you to function in communion with the world as it is.
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
You don't realize how much you'll miss a bag of chips.
I spent some time in my home town with my siblings, helping tend to my mother. This was written during the time I was visiting her.
My mother had a heart attack in 2007 and her kids dropped everything and ran home to West Table to tend her and watch the house. I'm the youngest, and the only encumbered by a child - and three year olds are a ton of work. It's a vivid contrast to my siblings who have sons in their 20's, and a reminder of how free I was when they had young ones.
My sister had been ill, and wasn't able to help care for him at all, my nephew was only here a few days, and my brother stayed at a motel. I had some babysitting help a couple nights from the kid down the road, and was able to put my son in a local preschool (it helps to have friends in high places) during the days, but a great deal of the time I was been on my own at my Mother's house, just the Bundle and me.
After Mother's angiogram came back clean, and the pacemaker is pacing appropriately, some of the intensity was off. Not that I wasn't still busier than a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs, but at least I didn't need to be at the hospital constantly, and was not in danger of the nursing staff calling me in to help calm her at 2:00 a.m. I was on the hook for a lot of things, though, that normally I'd be sharing with my beloved Co Worker.
One of those things that I took for granted for many years is running out to a convenience store. Hey, it's five minutes, right? Jump in the car, drive a block or two, grab a candy bar or soda, a bag of chips or a bag of ice and hustle back home. Ah, not so when you are the sole caretaker of a Bundle. Say it's early in the evening and he's awake. Not a problem, right? Okay, he has to have shoes... they're never easy to find because he's carried them into his room and thrown them in the toybox. Shoes are on, great. Now you have to find your shoes, your purse, your wallet... keys... balance it all while you hold his hand or carry him as you walk out to the car. Get the doors open, get him up into his car seat, buckled in.
Now you're on your way. Get to the store, get him unbuckled, out, into the store and ride herd on him while you pick up your stuff. Pry the 30 things he wants but can't have out of his hands, comfort his sobbing, then get stuff paid for and back out to the car. Get the doors open, stuff inside, a child buckled back into a car seat. Home, unbuckled, carried in and undressed again. Now, try this when he's asleep. If you're desperate enough for soda or chips then you'll wake him up and dress him and go through that whole routine, you'll have ten times as much work on your hands. Chances are, you aren't desperate enough for that.
So there I sat, many of the nights I was there. Ten p.m., no milk, hungry and nothing exciting in the cabinets. Alone, no options for people to call to come over and help out. Don't get me wrong - having a Bundle is the best thing that's ever happened to me. I was never angry about it, or resentful - but those nights became some of the many crystal moments where I had to recognize my life had changed drastically.
Originally posted at TIBU on 9/13/2007, presented here with edits and additions.
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Today why don't you tell someone, journal, or post somewhere a few things that you are grateful for? Right now I"m grateful for antibiotics (we all have strep), for a husband who's getting takeout, for a little boy getting to go back to school tomorrow, and for my own spirit which will rise out of the sick eventually.
Here's a photo I took earlier after I left the doctor. It made me smile, something that I am indeed grateful for this week!
Thursday, March 24, 2011
0: A Song of Ascents. Of David.
1: O LORD, my heart is not lifted up, my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me.
2: But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a child quieted at its mother's breast; like a child that is quieted is my soul.
3: O Israel, hope in the LORD from this time forth and for evermore.
This is what I need to learn - to calm and quiet my soul... that pesky, evil, dark little child that lives in my soul. How do you shut the child up? My own child I held and swung quietly from side to side until he calmed - it was easy and comfortable. There's no one to do that for me, I'm an adult, I can't ask anyone to hold me until I calm down, I can't ask anyone to fix what's wrong with me. I have to find it in myself, but where is it? Where is the strength to do it? What needs doing? How can I find what it is that will calm my soul in the storms that rage inside me?
Too many questions, too few answers.
This is the July 2006 calendar for the Episcopal Church’s lectionary. Each reference to the Scripture is direct linked to an online version of the NSRV, which is where I get my text.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
No lie, breathing is the hardest thing I do. You can probably guess that breath is a huge part of my thought process, given how much I mention it in this blog (and in real life, if you know me)... that comes really from about 24 years of being asthmatic. Pull up your chairs and I'll tell you a little story about that.
When I was 21 I went and did something that I had absolutely no business doing - I got married. I thought it was TWU WUV. No one else liked him, for good reason. He was way older than I was, overbearing, condescending, and convinced that he was smarter than anyone around him. He treated me like a child (and I acted like one, I take a lot of blame for that mess) and the marriage naturally imploded after five years. We went into counseling - I'll give him credit for that - although it killed his soul that the counselor suggested that I might not be to blame for every single thing. At one point he was ranting about something I didn't do, or couldn't do, and I remember he said "She should be able to do that! Everyone can do that! It's as natural as breathing!" At that point our counselor started to laugh. My ex was stunned. The counselor looked at him and said "Think about what you just said... as natural as breathing... she is asthmatic. Breathing is the -least- natural thing for her."
He completely discounted my asthma, repeatedly saying that it wasn't any big deal and refusing to believe my friends' who said that it was a dangerous condition and I could die from it. He taught me to discount it in a lot of ways, too, and I spent the next decade or so neglecting it, letting it rage out of control. Now that I finally have it under control, I spend a lot of time thinking about breath and breathing, its importance and signficance, as well as its connection to the rest of my life.
I also notice the problems I have with breathing that have nothing directly to do with asthma... in particular the fact that I hold my breath for long periods of time. I'm not sure why I do it, I just know that it can be a very serious issue when doing bodywork. Breathing during exercise is vital, to keep the energy flowing. As it is I move, realize I need to breathe, breathe, start moving again - it's a herky jerky thing with no rhythm. I want to learn to breathe naturally, in and out, and let it be a part of my movement, not an extra component.
So, when I tell people to breathe, I'm telling myself. I'm reminding -me- that I need to treat breath as what it is: the foundation of the body-mind. If you see me, ask me if I'm breathing. I'll probably thank you for reminding me.
Monday, March 21, 2011
I recently started (again) the long uphill trek to lose weight and get in shape. I'll be blogging about the nuts and bolts of it in another blog, but here is where I will go into more detail about the emotional aspects of what I'm doing, and some of the deeper more soul-level reasons and possibilities behind why I am where I am today.
Why am I fat? Wow. Lots of reasons. I think the most obvious ones are laziness (I got 'scared' of exercise due to some health problems), apathy, lack of motivation. I love food, I love the taste. I'm not really an emotional eater, but I eat because I want to - which is just about as bad, I think. Food is fuel, but that never got through to me. I think of food as pleasure and that's something I have to start to change.
What are your pleasures in life? I take pleasure in almost everything so it's hard to narrow a list down. My family, my friends, art, food, music. Those last three change in order from time to time. ;-)
Let's take today and think about what we find pleasure in that we should reassess, and possibly alter. Is there something that you take pleasure in that isn't so good for you? If so, why do you find it pleasurable? What needs is it meeting, and how could you meet those needs in a healthier way? Food for thought, so to speak.