Monday, July 28, 2008

Yard work

If you've been here before you know that our house is in the trees and that the forest is rapidly encroaching. It's gotten so overgrown that this summer I've felt overwhelmed, and, not being a gardener at all, unclear about where to start.

So on Saturday morning I was putzing inside and I heard Dave splitting wood. He and our neighbor had taken down a large pear this spring -- it was lovely but too close to the house -- and while he had chopped up some of it, he still had a lot more to split. I threw on my boots and went out to help him, and had to scold him for chopping wood in flipflops. At least he listened to me and put boots on.

We moved the firewood we had left over a bit so we make sure to burn that first when it becomes cold enough to have fires again. We had gotten a half a chord last year and used, oh, maybe. I love love love fires but they leach all the heat out of a room, so they're a real mixed bag. At any rate, we consolidated the old wood, built a new rack for the new wood so it'd be off the ground, and restacked that.

Then we had to clear an area for the canoe we're probably going to buy. So I did my best Ronald Reagan imitation and, using the loppers and Dave's fabulous Japanese pruning saw, cut back a lot of brush and chop it up. Then I dragged it back to the pile in the woods. I did this many times with lots of brush.

The thing is, once you start you see more and more and more. I cleared quite a lot in just a couple of hours and now I can see much more clearly what else to trim. We have a swing in the woods you can now see. Lily says it's not mysterious any more, but I think it still is, just farther back. I really want to make us a little yard, although what to do about all the damn pachysandra is beyond me.

Then we threw on our bathing suits, tied the borrowed canoe to the roof rack, and drove over to a bbq in Belchertown on a lake, where, as I said earlier, we paddled around. Fun.

Yesterday Dave got the bug again and went out to the front yard this time, where the rest of the pear still was, along with a couple of hemlocks that had had to come down when they were backhoeing to find our electrical break, and some pruned stuff from the Japanese maple. We spent a couple more hours on that, chopping it up small enough to put in a large leaf bag and carry or drag back to the ever-growing brush pile. I also carried about six or eight armloads of trunk and branches big enough to save to dry out and use for firewood. We stored it all near the canoe and the woodpile.

I have to say it felt great. I felt like I was at F&W again doing hard manual labor, chopping and lopping and dragging and carrying and getting grubby and dirty and sweaty and disgusting. It was great. I felt strong like bull and it is wonderful to get that stuff out of the front yard at last.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Why we moved, why here, and why now

My mother's best friend, Pat (she's great, kind of like an aunt, whom I've known since I was 14), asked me this when we were celebrating Mum's 80th. I've been meaning to put it all in one place, so indulge me here.

Mary Oliver.
I kept thinking of Mary Oliver, who writes such great poetry and lives on the Cape. Or E.B. and Katherine White, who lived in Maine. Or all the actors I've worked with or interviewed who live in the Hudson Valley. Or magazine writers and editors, or photographers. I realized that to be a poet, an artist, it helps to live in nature at least part of the time. That the people whose work I love the most have at the very least a country getaway. Maybe if we'd had a country getaway we'd have stayed, but that wasn't in the cards. My point is, I was out of balance; I needed more nature, more green, less concrete and steel. Fewer people. I needed to be waking up to birds and watch the woods fill up with snow while my little horse gives his harness bells a shake . . . sorry. . . I digress . . .

Mary Oliver, part 2: I wanted to grow spiritually. A lot of things went down for me in the early part of the 21st century. I examined and changed a great deal of how I lived and behaved and what I thought. I went through some pretty intense personal and spiritual growth, and I realized that if I wanted to continue to grow in those ways, I would be more successful -- and simply happier -- doing it outside of the city. I wanted some quiet. I wanted some quiet. I wanted some quiet.

I wanted more space. And I wanted to more outside. Ever since the city sprayed for West Nile, in 1999, the mosquitos have been fiercer than ever and we couldn't use our backyard. I wanted to be able to be outside occasionally.

I wasn't using the city. We tell ourselves we live here in order to partake of all its richness, museums and theater and art, but I just wasn't going, even to shows I was dying to see. It felt too overwhelming and expensive (tickets, babysitting, food, time) and too tiring to go all the way into the city. Odd, that last, but there it is. After Lily was born I spent almost all of my time in Brooklyn.

Whenever we were some place outside of the city I imagined living there. The Pioneer Valley is the only place that really stuck, and kept sticking. We visited Dave's friends several times, for a weekend, Thanksgiving, New Year's, lots of times, and always enjoyed ourselves. We had a perfect Sunday afternoon in August 2006 visiting Jay and Louise in Amherst. We had a late lunch at at really nice restaurant and we didn't have to wait. Then we strolled around town a bit, and later went swimming at a water hole in the Fort River just a mile from their house. One other family was there, the water was cold and delicious, and at one point a beaver swam by us, oblivious. It started to rain and we dashed for the car. Lovely!

Jenna's country house. A couple of years before we moved, our friends Jenna and Curtis bought an old one-room schoolhouse (it was later given has more rooms and a second story) out past the Poconos. They fixed it up really nicely and it's a great place to visit. I didn't want to live out past the Poconos, or even in the Poconos. Not Jersey, not upstate New York. I knew I wanted to be back in New England -- and Connecticut didn't count. But I was very envious of their lovely space, the quiet, the stars, the firepit out back, the stream across from their house. It's a lovely spot.

I missed the land where I was born, Oh, New England!

"People tend to move in their mid-forties, and they tend to move back to the place they grew up." Someone said this to me a couple of years before we moved, and I thought, god no, not Wellesley! And not Boston or Cambridge. But I really missed New England. When Lily was born we started taking vacations to a cabin on a lake in New Hampshire, and it made me so happy every time we crossed the border into Massachusetts. I knew I didn't want to live in New Hampshire, either, god forbid; Maine was too far. And Vermont was too far too. But western Mass. -- we'd spent time here visiting Dave's college roommates, and I remember visiting my sister Cate out here when she did a year as a visiting student at Smith. I liked it. We knew the area enough to know it was what we wanted.

The basketball arena. The huge arena and apartment/shopping complex the city -- our tax dollars -- is subsidizing five blocks from our condo depressed me on many levels. Living in the shadow of an arena would be awful, first of all. The light would be severely cut off. Traffic would get much worse. But more than the citification of our modest but friendly neighborhood, I was utterly depressed at the craven way the city, Bloomberg and Pataki, allowed Ratner to get away with it and forced the rest of the government and taxpayers to go along with it. I felt a real loss, a sense that, no matter how much I worked for my neighborhood -- and I was all about neighborhood those eight years after I had Lily and worked part-time and did a lot of volunteering -- a deus ex machina could still come in and wreck everything.

Cate's move to Connecticut. A few years ago my middle sister moved to Madison and I remember one time we were visiting and she said, want to go apple picking? Thirty minutes later we were at the orchard. We picked a bag or two and went home. All done, in about 2 hours. We did that with raspberries too once. We go to the beach, about two miles away. She could use the car to bring home her groceries, she didn't have to lug carry them herself. It's quiet.

Bondi's Brooklyn visit. The summer of 2006 my older sister paid us a visit for a few weeks, and more than anyone in my family, she understands the city's draw on me. She always says how much she loves it, and then she says how great life is away from it. How much easier, and calmer. This time I really heard her, and it stuck with me. It laid the seed.

The brown-outs of 2006. We had lots of black-outs in Park Slope that summer because the system was so overloaded, but poor Astoria had it worse so they got all the news coverage. Still, it was a miserable hot summer, with lots of brown-outs that made me feel like I was living in Managua. The a/c that we hardly ever used but really wanted this summer didn't work, fridge didn't keep things cold, the microwave hummed but didn't cook, the lights were frequently dim and the TV would go on and off spontaneously. The poor ConEd guys working below the streets at this horrible time told us it was because there was so much construction in the Slope and the old wiring wasn't up to all the new demands.

Farm and Wilderness Family Camp. After Bondi went home, we went there for a week and had a wonderful time. I first heard about F&W in a classified ad in the back of a very early issue , maybe the second, of Ms. Magazine in 1974. It talked about living in teepees with 40 girls. I was there. I couldn't wait. And I went, and I loved it. And for years I dreamed about going back. But we couldn't afford it -- Mum said, private school or F&W, I can't do both. I had a big scholarship at school, and that's how I could go there at all. I chose school. But F&W meant something to me and I longed for it in a visceral way.

I managed to get back there in January 1980 when I dropped out of Johns Hopkins after one semester and went to F&W to be a part of their winter crew. I loved it. I loved taking care of the cows and cleaning out the chicken coop. I loved the food and became a vegetarian. I loved the mountains, and the quiet. I got to explore parts of myself I wasn't aware of.

When we went to Family Camp that summer it was the first time for me in 15 years, when I gone to interview the co-founder. I loved being back. Some things had changed but the basic ethos hasn't. Camp is a way of life that I aspire to, a community full of fun, cooperation, hard work, strong women, kind men, lots of laughter, farm animals, and wilderness adventures. Family Camp isn't perfect but it's sure fun. I loved square dancing again, I loved being useful, and working hard. I remember walking in the woods seeing the light on the leaves, and thinking, I want this in my life.

September 11. We were driving home from camp after that first week, a few months before we moved, and it was pouring rain. A lot of folks at camp had talked about living in the Amherst area, and as we drove past the exit, I thought, "if you lived here you'd be home by now." I didn't want to go back to Brooklyn, another three hours in good traffic. I used to see that skyline and get so excited and happy. Now the closer we got, the more my heart sank.

We had a terrible trip. It rained all the way home and we had bad traffic. So we finally pulled over for dinner. Later, around 7 pm, as we zoomed down 684, we saw this weird flashing neon white light. It was really odd. We both knew it must be the Westchester airport, but it freaked both of us out. I kept thinking, we're being bombed. We're being bombed. I knew we weren't. I knew all the other cars wouldn't be speeding in the same direction. But I could not get that thought out of my brain. I realized that I was always waiting for the next shoe to drop, and the massive black-out of 2003, and the brown-outs of that summer, just made me tenser and more anxious.

More testing in schools. When we got back from Family Camp I saw an e-mail from the Department of Education gleefully announcing testing every six weeks. The terrible way the DOE is treating education, and how little they know about teaching and how little they support teachers -- they are trying to run it like a business -- along with knowing that I would soon have to navigate the middle school morass was a good reason to split town.

Chris and Elizabeth moved to Vermont. Late that summer a family we knew casually moved to Montpelier, which made me sad because their daughter and Lily had been in camp together for a couple of weeks and liked each other a lot. But more than that, their move put a big bug in my ear. People did that! New Yorkers I liked and respected left the city. I wanted to do that too.

I grew up. I moved to New York City to be an adult, and to be a journalist. I loved my life there. I loved working for LIFE, and I was very excited to be a stage manager when that opportunity came. For many years I was a perfect NYC snob -- why would you want to live anywhere else, if you can live here? I also thought, "If you can make it here you'll make it anywhere," which is true, in a certain way, and I wanted to see if I could make it here. I can, I did, and now it was time to leave.

I am spontaneous. Those of you around me at that time will remember this: The idea that had been stewing for years in the recesses of my mind started moving into my consciousness that summer, in July with Bondi, then at Family Camp, and then solidified when we spent Labor Day weekend at Jenna and Curtis's place. I was ready to go right then. As school started I began to tell people we were thinking about it, floating the idea and watching their reactions. My friend Sylvia said, if it's meant to be, the universe will align (and then she told me about a friend who wanted to move and then all these obstacles came up and they decided to stay).

But once I'd allowed the idea into my brain the rightness of it knocked out all doubt and left me with a sense of urgency. We had to go now. And then once I slowed down and included Dave, well, the rest is history: In late September we had agreed to go and were discussing the move date (he wanted to wait until the end of school in June), when his company closed unexpectedly. In about 10 days we had sold the condo for more money than God. And by Thanksgiving we were in Amherst, Lily was enrolled in a new school, and I was on the job market. Did I mention I started at Wondertime the day Dave's unemployment ran out? We are supposed to be here, and I just paid attention to the signals, and honored them.

PS -- One of the first times I walked in the woods behind my house I was reminded of walking in the woods at Family Camp. It's the same woods, the same feel, the same light. I knew I'd made the right choice. And even Lily had a good day today.

9/11 reverberations

It's funny how this sticks with me. I was talking about this to my chiropractor yesterday. It hits at odd moments and I have odd emotional and physical reactions. Mostly I don't want to think about it, because it's too painful. Yet I find myself telling the stories, the where was I's, and the vicarious stuff I've heard.

I wasn't there, I was across the river in Brooklyn, taking Lily to preschool. I saw the smoke but I just thought it was a fire -- a brownstone had blown up from a gas leak recently and I thought maybe it happened again -- and said, Okay, where's the sirens? They started up on cue and I thought, cynically, it'll be on the news if it's a big enough deal. Ha. Little did I know.

It was the end of a kind of innocence. I went upstairs and a parent told me a plane had gone into the World Trade Center. Someone was hot-dogging it in a little plane, I said immediately. No, two planes, someone said a few minutes later. Oh, two guys, playing tag. Idiots. I wasn't thinking about what even a little plane might mean for the folks in the towers. Then a parent, a documentary film-maker, said, no, it's terrorism. I couldn't believe it. I had to see for myself. So instead of heading to the 8th floor, where I had a view of downtown Manhattan, I headed to the gym on the 4th floor, where I knew I'd find TV's for the treadmill users, and talking heads telling me what was happening.

I watched about five minutes and thought, I have to go home now. I remember seeing workmen as I walked down the street and thinking, how can they possibly be still working? Dave, thank god, was sick in bed. I had to wake him up. He had this awful 2-day headache thing that I had caught and passed along. He was spared being on the subway crossing over the Manhattan Bridge just about the time the planes would have hit, and he was spared having to walk home from Soho, and being scared, and maybe seeing unspeakable things.

We sat on the couch and watched. We saw the towers fall. The school called and I went to get Lily. I offered to keep any kids whose parents couldn't get them. At least one woman worked
in one of the towers, for the Port Authority. The story goes that she had lived through the bombing of 1993 and when the Port Authority told everyone to stay at their desks or they'd be fired, she thought, I have two sons who need me. I will find another job. And she left. And she lived, and many Port Authority employees died.

The corollary to that story is about someone who worked on one of the floors in the 90s, in the second building. When the first one was hit, she was told, go home now or you will be fired. Just one more e-mail -- No. Go home. do not turn off your computer. Take your bag and walk out the door. The people in that office lived.

And thank god my friend Kim's husband was home that day, too. His office was like a floor below where the plane hit. His colleagues who happened to be there lived because an architect said, I know this building inside and out, and I can be useful, and he went up to the upper floors and cleared the debris away from the stairway and rescued some 200 people, including those colleagues. The architect died, though, leaving a wife and kids. He was a neighbor. He lived in Fort Greene. I think Kim met his widow and said thank you.

The streets were jammed that afternoon, remember? Everyone walking down Fifth Avenue in the Slope, trying to hitch a ride. A flatbed went by crowded with people. It was an odd time. And for the next month or so we all greeted each other very kindly, asked each other if our friends and family were okay, said we loved each other. We were all so gentle with each other those first few weeks.

Sorry, kind of a downer post. But this stuff stays with me, stays in my body, and I find myself thinking about it from time to time. Today we were at a friend's on a sweet little pond in Belchertown. He'd barbequed some burgers and we ate and swam and took this canoe we'll probably buy for a test run. Then we swam some more and ate some more and the sky was blue and it was quiet and I was chatting with some friends, and I felt present. I thought, how fortunate I am to be here, alive, in this spot, relaxed, under this nice tree, not too hot, Lily running around with some new friends, Dave kind of snoozing and listening. This moment is good.

It was a good day, Lily said on the way home. It was.

Summer news

Yikes, I haven't written in ages. So sorry to all my fans out in blogdom. We are having a very busy summer, what with my perpetually busy work and Lily's camp schedule. Dave is interviewing for jobs, as well as doing all his usual volunteering. So we all gather together in the evening, exhausted and hot, often, and wanting to see each other before falling into bed. Dave still manages to make us fabulous meals -- the other night we had homemade falafel and tahini sauce. Yum!

Let's see: We have seen our usual quota of bears. For instance, a guy was over the other day giving us an energy audit, and at the end he walked out and walked right back in: Dave had left open the garage to air it out and a bear had climbed up a shelf to get at the empty bird feeder. He was still there, by the way. So that's kind of fun.

The other night I woke up to the sound of something crashing around the grill on the back porch and could have sworn I saw a bear licking the chicken fat. And the screen door into the kitchen area was open. Dave went down to close it, flipped on the light, and there was nothing there. I must have been asleep. Or maybe it was a raccoon.

Lily has been in three different camps: horse camp, where she shared a horse with a seven-year-old knowitall who said to her, "You're bossy!" to which she replied, "And proud of it! Unfortunately her horse show was rained out so I don't have any photos to share. Before that she was at Marian's Art Barn making great art.

After horse camp she's been going to the YMCA camp about a half hour from here. She takes a school bus every morning and they swim, hike, pick blueberries, do arts and crafts, and then they get to specialize. She's chosen theater and was Catherine, Pippin's girlfriend, in the first one. Now she's a smaller role in Schoolhouse Rock, and the last one is Grease. It's a nice camp.

One of the best parts about living here is being in touch with the weather and passing the time by the fruits and vegetables. We picked a million strawberries in June, I think I posted. Now we have to go get blueberries, and soon peaches. We've had wonderful corn already, and really lovely greens, flowers, and lots of other stuff from our farm share.

We've seen two terrific productions of some Shakespeare recently. The Hampshire Shakespeare Company uses the campus of the Hartsbrooke School in nearby Hadley as a staging area. The backdrop is the Holyoke Range as the sun sets. I have to say I have a new appreciation for Shakespeare. I can't believe how contemporary the themes are, and the language. I had never seen or read Romeo and Juliet (embarrassing, I know), and it was hilarious, until it wasn't, of course. We also saw As You Like It, also fun. The casts were mostly excellent and the productions really good. And they did a very funny schtick with the planes that kept flying over and drowning out everyone. (We live near an air force base, unfortunately.)

We've been away a few times, one weekend to Montreal, and last weekend to Helene's wonderful annual bookgroup on the beach in Hampton Bays on Long Island. We had read Personal Days by Ed Park (don't bother; awful) and we discussed the book on the beach while the kids played in the water and the sun cooked us. The water was really warm and Lily was in there for hours, diving for blow fish and baby crabs. Helene is the greatest hostess and her son John, almost 2, is beautiful. It was fun watching him play with Joseph, Margaret's son, who is three months older exactly. And contrasts! John is very blond and Joseph very dark.

We're going away some more. But this morning Dave and I finally did some yard work -- if you've seen our yard you know how much work it needs. It's utterly overgrown, too many trees, shrubs, saplings, and TOO MUCH PACHYSANDRA!! God I hate that stuff now. But, you start where you are, right? So first things first. Dave split a bunch of wood that was left over from a pear tree he'd taken down with the neighbors. We are buying a canoe from someone at work and we had to make room for it on the side of the house, so I cleared away a ton of brush, witch hazel, forsythia, etc. Then I had to drag the branches to the woods and couldn't get past more brush, so I had to clear that.

Dave helped me move the brush to the woods and I helped him restack the woodpile and we are both now smelly and dirty but we have a lot more light on the side of the house near the screened-in porch. And more to come -- we need to take down a small elm, while it's still small, because it's too close to the house. And that will mean clearing more brush.

I am wondering about hiring a guy I know to just help with the grunt work, digging out forsythia stumps and helping clear the weeds and pachysandra. But I figure if I can do just a little every week it will eventually feel less overwhelming, less like we are being taken over by the woods. And I really want a space to put up our clothes line. I don't care about grass or a garden, per say, but I'd love some nice paths, a hammock under the trees, a place to be outside and enjoy the quiet.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Sasha’s New York City tips for Michelle

A woman at work is leaving to take a job in Manhattan -- Dave said, "she's taking our place!" -- and this is my good-bye present to her:

Trust your instincts
The number one most important thing I learned in New York. If you don’t feel safe, even if you can't figure out why, you probably aren’t. Take action right away. Switch subway cars, change seats in the movie theater, get out of the cab and find another. You’ll figure it out later. This goes for every possible situation, really, not just the obvious ones.

Don’t get cynical
So many people are too cool for school, especially in the city. But there is still beauty in the world, even in New York. Don’t forget about love. In the end, it's all that matters.

Get enough sleep
Yes, it's the city that never sleeps, but that doesn't mean you have to up all night, every night. Be sure to get your beauty rest. You’ll need it and the city will always be there (although it’s definitely fun to take the subway home when everyone else is going to work).

Remember, you can do or be anything you want in La Grande Pomme
New York is a great place to try on different identities. I’ve been a 6th Avenue magazine editor, an off-Broadway stage manager, a PTA volunteer, a budding chef. Once I decided I wanted to be a contra-dancing Vermont hippie, and sure enough, I found those folks too. It didn’t last, but it was reassuring to know they were there.

Look for your heart's desire
New York has at least one of everything. Don't settle. If you look hard enough you’ll find what you are looking for.

Never pay full price for a bag on the street
Or pretty much anything you buy on the street, other than food. But do not give your money to the Three-Card Monte guys. You will always lose.

Visit unusual places and get out at odd times of day and night
There’s nothing like a foggy Village street at 6:00 a.m. Take the ferry to Staten Island. Go to a city pool—the one in Red Hook is enormous and on the weekends there’s an array of Central American food for sale along the soccer field across the street. It’s a huge city and the nooks and crannies are surprisingly wonderful and wonderfully surprising.

Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge
You must, must, must do this at least once. It’s a lovely walk and a stunning view. Dusk is perfect time, with the lights all twinkly and pretty. Think of us—that’s where Dave proposed to me and we often walked it with Lily, or friends, or visitors.

Get to know your neighbors
Half the city was born in another country. Got a hankering to travel? Ever wanted to visit Russia/India/Italy/Central America/Asia/ Greece/the Middle East but couldn’t afford it? Jump on the subway and head for Brighton Beach/Jackson Heights/Arthur Avenue/Sunset Park/Flushing/Astoria/Atlantic Avenue. Eat, shop, and just sit and listen. You can travel very far in just 30 minutes.

Go to the Atlantic Antic, the best street festival ever
Just a little Brooklyn ethnocentricity here, but this happens to be true. In a couple of miles on a Saturday in late September you go through about 20 different communities. Get off at Pacific Street and walk the entire length. Pace yourself! There’s a lot to take in. When you get to around Bond Street, look for the PS 261 table and say hi for us.

Eat everything you can
One of the great reasons to live in New York is the incredible food. If you are interested in expanding your palate, here’s the place to start. Love your corner pizza place/cafĂ©/bar, but be sure to venture outside your usual culinary boundaries. Street food is safe, and usually interesting, especially if there's a crowd.

Check out the classic sights
Living in New York can be wearing and sometimes it’s important to remind yourself why you do. The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island are totally worth it. Take a Circle Line tour. The Metropolitan Museum, Lincoln Center, Broadway shows—it’s all really fun and you get a thrill no matter how jaded you are. Check to see when museums are open late—and offer free admission. They can be a great place to unwind after work.

Spend an afternoon at Coney Island
Ride the Cyclone and the Wonderwheel (get in a swinging car), stroll the boardwalk, eat at Nathan’s, walk down the pier and watch the kids fish. Check out the Mermaid Parade in mid-June.

Find the parks near you
All that concrete and steel can really wear you down. New York has among the least amount of green space in any city, but what it does have is extraordinary, especially Central Park and Prospect Park. But there’s lots more than just that, from community gardens to vast open spaces in the outer outer boroughs.

Don't stare at the celebrities
And for god’s sake, don’t ask for autographs. They’re here for the anonymity, just like everyone else. They do seem to like being recognized and admired from afar, though, so feel free to gawk discretely.

Appreciate New York's long, deep history
It really is unlike any place else. It’s an odd and interesting mongrel mix of commerce and high finance, much of it non-Christian, non-white, and non-European, as well as amazing arts and food and music. It's old, by American standards. All of that helps make it unique.

Read books, watch movies, listen to music, look at art about New York City
A lot of people have had a love affair with the city for a very long time. Some of my favorites are E.B. White, of course, Russell Shorto’s The Island at the Center of the World, Luc Sante’s Low Life, Billy Joel’s New York State of Mind, Mondrian’s Broadway Boogie Woogie—and the movies! The Naked City, West Side Story, Sweet Smell of Success, Taxi Driver, Hair, Annie Hall . . . Wikipedia even has a list called “New York destroyed on film.” New York is an endless topic and many artists have explored it. See what pulls them here.

Remember, if you can make it here you'll make it anywhere
And if you find you don’t care for it, you’ll be in good company. There’s no shame in trying it a year or two and then finding you want to move to, say, San Francisco. Now there’s a livable city.

Godspeed, Mitch.