Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Fun at the Fair

A week or two back the kids went to the big Tunbridge Fair and it worked out beautifully for yours truly because I had to work and my savior, AM, agreed to take all the kids and spend an evening at the fair. Best of all, the kids had a blast. Thanks to AM, as always. I was slated to work that evening and asked her if she could take the kids for a few hours, and when she mentioned the fair, I thought the kids would have fun. They had an unlimited ride pass that evening, so it worked out beautifully. AM came by to pick them up and the plan was to eat supper over there. I was originally planning on making some entrees for supper, but since they were eating out, I was off the hook.

Later that evening the kids said they had fun, mainly because I think it was quite the scene. When they were smaller the fair was about seeing animals, eating junk food, and riding the rides. Now it's moved to another level of engagement, where it's all about being seen, being cool (or rather, being seen being cool), and of course, checking out the other teenagers. From what I was told, there was a significant contingent of kids from two the main middle/high schools, so the kids were not without a group of friends to connect with. I'm glad they went and that it's become a different social experience, because that's what being young is all about, right?

I got back from work in the evening and the kids actually arrived home later than mom and I, which I know was A-okay with them. They were raving about the time they had: the rides and food and friends and fun. You could tell they had a great time. I love when that happens.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Redroom Studios for the pic.

The Service Life

I was looking for some additional hours to make some extra cash and I have to say, it's been fairly fruitful at the Inn. Thanks again to my Mentor for hooking me up, because it's been rather enjoyable. We work hard, no doubt, but the work is not too stressful and the people, for the most part, are cool. It seems like the people higher up are the nicest, and the lower you go on the totem pole, they aren't always so friendly. This could simply be my imagination.

Whatever be the case, there seems to be plenty of hours to work. In fact, I can't accommodate them completely, and feel sort of bad, mainly because they are really nice about it. They have asked me to work on several occasions that I couldn't make, but they were really understanding about it. Personally, I would have taken the shifts except that I have so many other obligations at home and with the farmer's market, which will thankfully end soon.

The work itself is fairly energizing though not too stressful. Again, the people higher up are very cool and they don't put a lot of pressure on me. They're also very understanding of my rookie status and take the time to show me the ropes. I really like all the people I've worked for, it's sort of like a family, and they take it very seriously. We've done several weddings and corporate work parties, and they can be quite the affairs. Tons of good food and plenty of libations to grease the social wheels. I'm definitely struck by how much people drink and how much food gets wasted, but that's the way of the world. I was reading that over 1/3 of the food we eat gets thrown out, which is crazy when you think about it.

All in all, I'm enjoying it, and as I said, I'd work more hours if I could. Fall is the busy season with foliage and fall, and I think things will calm down in the next month. I'm not sure how much work there will be come winter, but I'll take what I can get. Then again, I'll probably be busy with hockey, skiing, and all that good stuff.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Kevin Kidney for the pic.

Three is a Magic Number

Three. The magic number. That's how many markets we have left, and I for one am counting the days until the market ends. How did we get ourselves into this in the first place? This week was our best yet, but it sure was a long time coming. This market on the whole strikes me as a little slow, and I'm not alone in thinking this. Other vendors have at least alluded to it being slow, and these past few weeks should have been more lively with school back in session and all that good stuff. No question that the flow of traffic has increased, but not in any exceptional way.

I guess my point is that I question whether the market is really worth it. Sure, we make some money, but is it enough to warrant all the time and expense? Maybe, but I can't quite convincingly say that overwhelmed with affirmation. I'm looking forward to it being over. The next big question is, will we do it again next year? As of right now, I would say no thank you, but that's so far away, and I said the exact same thing last year. Go figure.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Shel for the pic.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

First Cold

It had to happen, though it came sooner than I expected. We're all, with the exception of maybe N, dealing with head colds, which is always a bummer, though I've found it hasn't really slowed us down. We're still playing UF and going riding and doing all that other good stuff, it's just that we've got scratchy throats and runny noses while we're doing it. Either the colds are mild enough to ignore it (sort of) and/or our immune systems are better equipped at handling it. Whatever be the case, it's a bummer but not a huge deal.

Maybe it's better to get it now, so early in the season, when it's still a bit warm. I know, however, that at some point in the winter, usually deep into hockey season, we're going to get slammed with something flu-like. It happens every year, so there's no reason to think that things will be different. Then again, we can always hope, right?

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Pierre for the pic.

Day of Fitness

There are days when I look back in wonder and ask myself, how exactly did I manage to do that? We had a busy day of activity this past weekend and I sure earned that extra piece of chocolate cake. It was a beautiful day, the kind that makes you realize how great it is to live up here, not that I needed any reminding, and at first I was going to do some poster boy work because some of the notices are a little behind schedule. However, as soon as I stepped outside and saw how nice it was I shifted gears and asked N if he wanted to go trail riding, which of course he was up for. We headed over to Ascutney trails and it was a perfect day for riding - cool, sunny, and breezy. We rode for a couple of hours and it was fun, albeit a workout. I was sucking air the whole time.

Afterward we came home and had lunch, and then mom mentioned that it would be a nice day to hike Mt. Tom, which of course it was. We hung out and relaxed, then I went and got picnic provisions and we set out for the summit. As you can imagine, weather that's perfect for a trail ride is also perfect for a hike, though again, I was sucking air going up. The kids took off way ahead of us and lead the way. At the top, we had a nice supper while watching the sun set over Killington, then we headed back down.

Since fall is in the air, the sun sets sooner, so we were walking in the dark at one point. Our trail guides were so far ahead of us that I had no idea where they were, though I'm sure they were waiting at the car laughing at us and rolling their eyes. Old people sure slow up things, don't they? We finally made it down after a couple of detours and sure enough, the kids were waiting and wondering where we'd been. Where do you think?

It was a fun day, filled with fun things though tiring for those of us who have stiff joints and aching limbs. I actually welcome the chance to get a good workout, especially when I'm not aware of how many calories I'm burning. As I get older I really appreciate being active, and never take it for granted.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Sujay for the pic.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Soot Matters

I think it's a symbolic sign that fall and winter are on the way that I cleaned the chimney and the stove in preparation for the cold weather. Like all things in my life, I put it off all summer when I had ample time to do it, but then the weather started to cool of and it seemed as if we might be in need of some heat (false alarm). We were shivering in the house and I filled the wood and kindling boxes and was ready to roll except that the chimney needed sweeping. We had a stretch of cold and rainy days so I had to wait, but as soon as it warmed up, I assembled the chimney brush and went to work.

There was more soot up there than I thought, and I could feel the wind coming out of the access hole as the stuff came tumbling down the chimney. It makes you realize how much the stuff builds up. Now that it's done, I can rest easy in the knowledge that we are ready for winter, though you're never really ready, at least at first. Fire wood is stacked, kindling is chopped, and chimney is clean. Of course, now that it's warmed up, there's no need for it, but at least we're ready. That's good enough for now, isn't it?

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Marcin Lukaszewicz for the pic.

Slow Markets

I don't know what the reason is for this, but the markets have been particularly slow, especially when you compare it to past years. This could be my imagination, and truth be told, every year we hit a lull, but this year the lulls have been even lull-ier, if you know what I mean. It doesn't help my mental disposition regarding doing the market because it's hard and every week I ask myself why we're doing it. Then I remember that it's to make the big bucks to support our fabulously opulent lifestyles, but if the markets are slow, it sort of defeats the purpose, right?

There are a few bright notes. First off, it's cooling down, so we don't have to suffer through the oppressive heat, and the students are back, so there is more traffic. Even still, I don't think as many people come to the market, though I'm not sure why. I think other vendors share this sentiment, and it's sort of bummer, but maybe farmer's markets are just not that popular anymore.

Whatever be the case, there is light at the end of the tunnel, because the season is winding down, thankfully. We'll see how we feel once it's done, but suffice it to say that as of now, I'm not so thrilled with the whole process. Then again, was I ever?

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Eisgrafin for the pic.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Wedding Fever

I guess it's that time of year, but I've been doing a lot of catering work and it seems like every weekend there's a wedding, and then some. The weddings that I've worked at are serious affairs, as well. These people don't mess around when they tie the knot, and being on the higher end (at least in my universe) of elegance, both Sea Sails and the Inn put together an incredible affair. Pretty impressive stuff. I like working rather than being an actual guest because I don't have to mingle, socialize, or make small talk, I just do my job. It's almost like being invisible, especially when you do the big money affairs where people with excessive means probably have nothing to say to me, anyway, other than requesting another hors d'oeuvre.

I have noticed that despite the differences from wedding to another, there are definitely certain similarities, which is interesting given that these are high end ceremonies. The big seems to be wedding weekends, where they begin on Friday with all the pre-game festivities and rehearsals, followed by the ceremony and reception, then the Sunday brunch. Maybe this is standard fare for weddings, but it seems pretty extravagant. Then comes the music - every wedding I've worked there is a killer band, with multiple vocalists and a complete horn section, and they've all been great. They really rock out and play popular songs that are seemingly difficult to play live, but they pull it off.

While one or two of the gigs have involved the traditional wedding cake, more often than not they seem to serve simple desserts like cupcakes and brownies. At one all they had were homemade cookies, and bear in mind, these were occasions where no expenses were spared. And finally, I seem to notice that the bride and groom are not as warm and fuzzy as one might expect on the happiest day of their lives. It stands to reason that it's a stressful time and there are many people to meet with and talk to. Also, in the modern era, people getting married have usually been together for awhile, so they're pretty familiar with each other and some of the luster of one another's company has worn out. Maybe it's because these occasions are not necessarily about having fun and enjoying yourself but more about putting on the biggest party you can for all the world to see. At one gig, I couldn't help but think that all one of them cared about was being in the spotlight, almost at the expense of the other.

Then again, what do I know? I'm old and boring, and maybe this is just how the new generation ties the knot. I will say this, they are beautiful grand affairs, and every now and then I might get a chocolate chip cookie out of it. Then again, maybe not.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Igor Mokhovyk for the pic.

High School Daze

We've entered into our next phase of schooling with conventional HS, and so far, so good. No major disasters, not too much in the way of drama, and I haven't completely screwed things up, at least not yet. There were a few bumps along the way, which is to be expected when you've operated outside the system and are suddenly jumping back in, but mostly administrative stuff. One thing I did screw up was being late for her first day as well as her orientation. A was bummed but she rolled with it and wasn't too angry at me, even though I deserved it. The problem I run into is that since she's only going part time, she is not there for the first period of school when many announcements are made. Also, I missed some relevant information that was sent to the parents in the weekly emails.

I felt really bad but realize that I need to really pay attention to the information that's being given to me and to stay on top of things. The lessons you learn the hard way are the ones you never forget, right? All in all, however, I think A is enjoying school. The social aspect is nice, and she has friends from many different circles to bond with. She will be challenged academically, get to experience how other kids do school, and hopefully have a chance to pursue some fun, interesting, and rewarding projects. I think the ball is in our court to seek out these opportunities and learn more about what is possible.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Michael Locke for the pic.

Planets Align

Don't you love when the planets align? (BTW, amazing pic, isn't it?)

Poster boy work has started up again, and I've found that it has worked out beautifully with A's schooling in the big city. She takes classes during the week part-time, so I have to take her in and bring her home afterward, but that gives me a 2-3 hour window to work, which is a beautiful thing. I can not only do poster work, but I can go to the store to shop for food and also get market supplies. I can even hole up at the library and work on my computer. How cool is that? What's great about it is that I don't have to stress about working as fast as possible to get as much done as I can. I have 5 days during the week to get it done, and there is a defined window of time to work within.

It can get hectic at times with so much going on, but what else is new in our crazy lives? I'm just happy that given our busy schedules, every now and then the stars align properly and things work out.

I love when that happens. Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Lucca Ruggiero for the pic.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Working at the Inn

I did my first few days at the Woodstock Inn a weekend or two back, and I'll tell you one thing, they don't mess around. The minute I got there I hit the ground running and went straight to work. They have so much stuff going on that it seems like people from all departments are pitching in to help. It's pretty interesting. As I mentioned, they put me on the fast track to employment and the day after orientation I was dressed and ready to serve.

Since it's fall and a popular time in this area, there is much to do. I showed up on Sunday AM and went right work setting up and serving for a breakfast and then a luncheon. They have a massive crew but since it's a big place and they have so many events, no amount of people is too much. I enjoyed the work, it's busy and you never stop moving, but there's some flexibility and the people are nice and fun to work with. I don't know if I'd go as far as to say it was fun, but it was enjoyable. There's a certain energy to it all, a bit stressful but not in a horrible way. You have so many people working and watching your back that I never felt alone, and the people take the work seriously and work hard.

I did two weddings the next weekend, but that's a story for another time. Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Frank Di Martino for the pic.

Life's A Juggling Act

Sorry to everyone and anyone for my absence, but things have been a little crazy on this end. Just one long and nutty juggling act.

In fact, I can't even tell you how busy things have been with all that's going on, but I'll try. There are several new life developments that are making are adding to the drama, namely that A is now in school, and that I've been a catering monster as of late. It's a bit crazy. Throw in the market, house and barn chores, a visit by family, and various other activities, and I'm in constant motion. The fun never stops. Oh yeah, and did I mention poster-boy work has resumed? There are reasons for this madness, though I couldn't tell you what they are. Something to do with chasing the American Dream and supporting a fabulously opulent lifestyle.

For all it's worth, I think a lot of good things are going on, especially for the kids, I'm just too busy to give it much thought. One day I'll look back on all this and laugh... yeah, right.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Loupiote for the pic.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Unfortunate Events

It's the sort of thing that only happens to "other people," and then it happens to you. We were watching our friends' chickens over the past couple of weeks, and literally the day before they were supposed to return, a few of their birds got taken out. I couldn't believe it, what a bummer. They were cool about it, I guess when you have chickens you get somewhat accustomed to things like this happening, but it's a bummer when it happens on your watch.

We were in charge of two sets of chickens, 14 birds in all, and not only was it a bit of a chore (we really worked hard on this one), but it was stressful. You realize that chickens are so helpless and vulnerable out here in the woods, and you have to be vigilant about making sure they are safe and secure in their homes. This is especially true in the evening, when the predators come out to hunt.

It was a relief on many levels when SA came home because not only was it one less set of birds to watch, but their birds made it out alive. That left one group left, and they're the ones that got hit. What makes it all the more difficult to fathom is that it happened on the day before they were set to return. Our friends were supposed to come back on Tue morning, and three of the chickens were hit on Monday afternoon. Boy, talk about a bummer. I went over on Monday morning before work to let them out of their coop, and all was well. I took N over around noon to feed the cats and chickens, and noticed that it was quiet. Usually the birds come to greet you and you can here them chirping.

We fed the cats and as we were walking to the pen, I saw this massive pile of feathers and thought, "This can't be good." There was a second pile, and when we went into the coop, the birds were all gone. We searched the area and found that the garden gate had been pried open and the chickens had escaped into the yard. I know I sealed the gate when I left because we had to open it when we returned. The opening occurred in the garden section of their pen, and it almost looked like someone or something had pulled the fence apart because the gap was big enough for me to fit through.

Now normally this isn't the end of the world. We kept the birds in the pen, but our friends let the chickens roam free all the time. They even said that if the chickens get out, just leave the gate open and they will return to the coop at dusk. It's just that this time around, something came and took half of them out. At first I thought they were all gone, but we found one wandering around by the garage. We tried to corral her in, but she wasn't going for it. We had to leave to pick up A, and I was worried that whatever ate the others would come back and get her, but what are you going to do? We had to go. We figured that we could come back and try to get her back in, especially since A has a magical touch when it comes to animals.

As luck would have it, when we got back, there were actually three survivors. We managed to get them into the pen and closed things up, and then I had to make the call to our friends and give them the bad news. They were cool about it, and I as I mentioned, I think it comes with the territory, but we still felt crappy. JP said to just put them in the for the evening and he would return the next morning and let them out himself. I offered to get them new birds but they said it wasn't necessary.

All in all, our experience with chickens was a learning experience, but it sure as heck doesn't inspire me to get them for ourselves any time soon.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Chris Bartow for the pic.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Flurry of Employment

As the saying goes, be careful what you wish for, even if all you want to do is make zucchini relish. In the quest to make the big bucks, I applied for some catering gigs at the Woodstock Inn and it turns out that not only are they looking for people, but they are looking for people to start working now. I mean now. I submitted my application to and it didn't take long before they contacted me and let me know that they had events planned all month and were interested in hiring people. The fall is their busiest season, especially the next two months, and they are booked solid, which is good for them. They put on the fast track for getting started, which meant going in on Saturday to do the proper training to start working on Monday.

Boy, talk about hitting the ground running. My first reaction was cool, more employment, but then I realized how much was going on and had to ask myself if this was really necessary. The problem is that with school back in session, my regular work at the college is kicking back into gear. The return of school also means that standardized patient work will also resume, and A is taking high school classes so she needs to prepare for that. The market is still going on, and we are doing a ton of animal care (cats and chickens). Finally, my first day of work coincides with replacing the brakes on my car, so I need to find a way to get to work while it's being done.

It looks like I'll never get around to making that relish. Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Judi for the pic.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Slowest Market Yet

This past market was the slowest one yet, and for whatever reason, it was a particularly brutal day if not week. First there was the heat, which came out of nowhere to punish me for my hubris about hot weather being a thing of the past. Then there is the issue of taking care of two sets of cats and chickens. Finally, there is just a lot to deal with in terms of wrapping up the previous school year and beginning the next, which BTW includes A taking classes at the local high school. This of course means taking the steps to jump back into the system, for which there are many rules and stipulations. It's not easy being mainstream.

To top it all off, we prepared a lot of fixings and it turned out to be really slow, which made sense given that it was the first day of school for a lot of families, and the college is in transition. Also, this day last year was the slowest of the year, so we had some sense of what to expect. For all it's worth, and it's worth a lot, the weather was beautiful, the people just weren't there. We ended up with extra stuff but have learned to roll with it as the cost of doing business. Win some, lose some, right? Soon the college will be back on schedule and we may see a spike in business, but I'm not making any predictions.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Raphael Quinet for the pic.

More Possible Catering Gigs

In the quest to make more big bucks to support our fabulously lavish lifestyles, I may have some more catering opportunities, thanks to my Mentor, who hooked me up with the Woodstock Inn. I have applied for jobs there in the past but various complications made the deals fall through. The biggest issues were time and my inability to be there when they needed me. I have to confess, they have been very cool over there despite my shortcomings, and each time I've contacted them, they've been amenable to me working for them. I guess I haven't screwed things up too much.

This time around I heard about catering work, and truth be told, I had heard of these opportunities from other friends. I know several people who work at the Inn, and some of the actually do catering and said it was a chance to make some money with flexible hours. Say no more. I emailed my Mentor's contact and she was in touch with me immediately. I filled out the forms and within 24 hours HR reached out to me. I know the person, AT, whom I've interacted with in the past and is very cool. She said they were looking for catering people because their busy season was kicking into full gear. I simply had to jump through the requisite hoops and meet with some of the right people. Fair enough.

I've initiated this process and am not sure where it will lead me, but whatever happens, it should be an adventure. Stay tuned for more.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to chazcooks 2002 for the pic.

Chicken About Chickens

I have little to no experience with chickens and this week I've received a crash course in poultry care. I have to confess, I've come to like them, they are pretty entertaining, though the biggest realization I've come to is that they're not really pets, at least not in my eyes. Normally when you take care of a cat or dog, the first thing you do when you see them is greet them, but how do you greet a chicken? Do you pet it, or scratch it behind their ear? Do they even have ears?

Whatever be the case, I was daunted at first, but have become more comfortable around them, and as I mentioned, they are pretty endearing. Many of our friends have chickens and they're cute when they're chicks but then, like all animals, go through an ugly phase before coming these beautiful birds. Once they get bigger, however, they are suddenly these full grown animals with minds of their own, and that's where I am a bit daunted because you're trying to get them to do what you want and it doesn't always work out in your favor.

This happened the first evening that we were supposed to put them into their coop, though truth be told, we did things the wrong way, sort of. Both sets of friends told us that as soon as the sun sets, the chickens go inside on their own. What I didn't realize is that it literally has to be dark for this to happen. We went over there around twilight, figuring it was dark enough, and when we arrived, all them were lingering around in the yard and were not about to do what we asked them to. They are easy enough to pick up, but every time I got one into the coop, it would immediately escape, not unlike herding cats. Eventually we worked out a system where I would pick one up, place her in the coop and N would close the door behind her. They weren't so into it, maybe because they didn't know me, and at one point as I was picking one up, another came over and pecked my hand. It was like being attacked by a lion on the African Savannah.

Eventually we got all of them in and learned the next night to do it the right way: we waited until it was pretty dark and sure enough, all of the chickens put themselves inside. It sure made it easier, though it's a little more challenging doing it in the dark. Then again, it beats wrestling a flock of man-eating chickens.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Michael Ahler for the pic.

More Bike News

I've been noticing that it's harder and harder to keep up with N when we go riding, and I think a large part of that is the difference in our mountain bikes (MTB). Last year he had 24" wheels and an older, kind of junky bike that was given to us by a friend. It served us well because N got a taste for riding, and he rode that thing all the time up in the hills. Since he showed interest, we decided to get him a decent MTB, though we kept the old one.

With his new ride, N pretty much blows both me and his sister out of the water, and it must feel good to him. I'm wheezing and struggling to keep up with the guy, and whereas A used to put us both in the dust, now N is the leader. A started using my MTB because it has bigger wheels than hers, and I started using N's old MTB, and believe me when I tell you the difference is significant. We went riding the other day and the kids were so far ahead of me I couldn't even see them; they were like dots on the horizon.

I had a conversation with mom and said that at the very least, I could use a more modern bike on the trails. My bike is about 22 years old, which is over 150 in dog years, and has a rigid frame. MTBs for trail riding today pretty much all have front suspensions, and it doesn't take much to realize how handy that can be. Whenever we ride, my body gets rocked by the terrain. My goal was to buy a newer bike, and of course I was looking for something on the cheap. This meant eBay, Craigslist, and the Classifieds, with the occasional yard sale, if possible.

As with any search, you can find anything you want in life if you're willing to spend the money, and MTBs are expensive. Needless to say, I couldn't find anything within my price range. People don't seem to sell low range MTBs, whereas the higher end ones are everywhere, for a price. At some point I started thinking I would just buy a low-end new one, which would set me back at least $350, and believe me, that's bottom of the line cheap. For a decent MTB that most guys ride, you're looking at at least $500, and from there, the sky is the limit. I see these beautiful dual suspension MTBs on the trails that must cost at least $1000, if not more. Much more.

I had resolved to ride my old MTB for the long haul, and it's a testament to the quality of its construction that it still rides so well. However, the other day I was driving through town and there was a yard sale going on. I noticed a bike for sale, and the guy was eager to unload it. I checked it out and the tires were flat, the brakes were thrashed, and the gear shifter was broken, but the frame was in good shape. It was a Jamis, which I had never heard of, but there are so many MTB brands out there, this was nothing new. The bike felt light, and the paint just made it look more X-games, as if I had just ridden on the muddy trails. The guy wanted $20, and I was hesitant and said I'd have to think about it. He was eager to sell, however, and within minutes he was telling me to take it for $5, just get it off the yard. Say no more.

I bought the bike (how could I not?) and N did a little maintenance, putting the chain back on and inflating the tires, which it turns out were still good. I took it over to our good friends at Paradise Sports and RT said that brand new, the bike could run into $600 to $700. Talk about a score! To get it fixed and running, it would require a tuneup and some new cables, and I was looking at about $100, which was A-okay with me.

Best of all, the frame has the capability to upgraded to a disc brake system, which is really what a I wanted. It would cost (everything costs) a few hundred dollars to do this, but I'm in no hurry, and I figure it's something I could build up to over time.

For now, I have a bike with a suspension that didn't cost me an arm and a leg. I love when that happens. Then again, I haven't gotten it back yet, so there could be complications on the horizon. Stay tuned for more.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Francisco Saiz for the pic.