Thursday, February 28, 2013

Wednesday Mornings

On Wednesdays I drive Cyra to school. We pack her violin, her lunchbox and her twenty pound backpack into the car for her afternoon violin lessons. For some reason, which I cannot devise, our school district doesn’t allow instruments to travel on the bus. Weird, I know, but driving her to school once a week is a small price to pay for a year of lessons and nearly free use of a school violin.

And as a bonus, I get to see Scott as he drives across town.

Scott, without going into too much detail, works in peddle sales – it’s the best description. And so is often seen driving around town. On Wednesdays, he goes in a little later than usual because his first stop opens just a bit later. These few extra minutes in the morning translate into a sweet routine for me every Wednesday.

I usually glimpse him as I am heading home. Most of the time I am still in my pajamas with my hair pulled back in a frizzy, messy ponytail. I feel grungy and scuzzy and I can hear, in the back of my mind, my mother yelling at me for schlepping around. I’m thinking about the breakfast I haven’t had yet and the chores I need to accomplish, what job postings on Monster I’ll see that day, and what I’ll write about for the blog or the story I’m working on. I mentally run through my inventory of yarn scraps and wonder what I might do with them.

Sometimes I even pay attention to the morning radio programs or traffic.

But then I see Scott’s truck, bright blue trailer advertising his products. And I get a goofy little grin on my face and my stomach feels as though I’ve got an entire team of Olympic gymnasts back-flipping about. All the thoughts I had about the day: gone. If my morning was rough or hurried, it doesn’t bother me anymore.

I see him before he spots me but when he does he holds his hand up and gives me a little wave and he toots his horn as he drives by.

And it doesn’t matter, all of a sudden, that my face is unwashed and I haven’t shaved my legs because I know he loves me even when I’m at my worst.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Exciting! Two Posts for the Price of One. (FYI: If you did pay could you let me know because I've not seen a cent of profit here!)

So I don't usually post twice in a day, but some rules are meant to be bent. Bent because I don't actually have a rule about posting twice in a day. I've done it before and thus far Blogger Police have left me alone.

As you know I am big into games. Big! I love them. I've posted about it here and here if you're interested. And as many know I subscribe to Felicia Day's Geek & Sundry channel (and you should too. Because. It. Is Awesome. Can you believe I'm not even getting paid for these endorsements? I really should be.).

Apart from the Guild, my favorite show on Geek & Sundry is TableTop hosted by Wil Wheaton, actor and all around awesome guy. I say that knowing that I don't know him personally but he seems like a pretty decent fellow. Each episode of TableTop features Wil and a group of friends playing a game. Hilarity ensues. Some games I was familiar while others were completely new and nifty! TableTop played a huge role in Christmas presents this year: Dixit, Gloom, and Star Fluxx to name a few. 

Anyway, a few days ago, Wil Wheaton posted about a BIG announcement for TableTop and I bet like many, I assumed the worst. No second season? No Wil? No table?

Turns out my fears were for naught. TableTop has sparked such a response that Felicia Day and her team of intergalactic superheroes, unicorns, and friends have declared March 30th to be International TableTop Day! Here's Wil's announcement about it on his blog.

So I will be participating. I'm hoping that somewhere in my town a small coffee shop, bookstore or game shop is planning on it as well. Although even if I just spend the day playing games with my girls it is still going to  be a great day in my book!

I wish I was cool enough to declare an international day...but alas, I haven't reach that level of awesome yet.


(Was my fangirl showing a bit here?)

Poor Amaryllis

Recently I got it in my head that I needed to garden. I had purchased a few bags of potting soil intending to repot my lime tree and a few other plants that had gotten too big for the britches...I mean pots.

Let me backtrack just a see, I can't garden. Or rather, I'm learning to garden and the plants tend to giggle and scoff at my attempts. But a long while ago when we bought the townhouse we discovered that the previous owner left a multitude of potted plants on the back patio. Instant garden that I completely and utterly ignored. Way back then I had no interest in plants. And because I am lazy to boot, I left the containers right where they were and went about setting up house. A month or so later as spring fully arrived, I was delighted to find that one of the planters had some pretty flowers blooming. I was soon to discover via my mother's wisdom, the huge flowers were in fact amaryllis. I didn't know I like them. Turns out I do. I loved those flowers something fierce.

I know they're hard to see here, but I combed through every photo I had looking for a decent shot of the flowers. Apparently I never actually took just a picture of them. They were caught here in behind the girls during a Easter morning pinata frenzy!

Again, hard to pull out clear details, but I had pink, red, and white flowers.

Oh how little my angels were. These are circa 2009 three years after we moved in.
Despite my love for the plant, I took a strict hands off approach to my care. Sure, during the dry months I threw some water on them occasionally. Once in a while I pulled out the dead leaves, debris, and weeds that clogs around the bulbs. Ninety percent of the time this is what the container looked liked:

When we moved in 2011, I dumped every other container of soil out and took just the pots with us. Except the amaryllis. Those I left alone. I made Scott take a special trip back to the old house just to pick them up because I wanted to keep them.I swore up, down, left, and right that I would become a gardener. I had space now to do so and I knew I could take care of my amaryllis.

And I did.

Sort of.

Here is last Easter. I hid an egg in the amaryllis. See how tall and filled out they are? Those four blooms - two full and two just getting ready to bloom - were the only ones I saw last year. This year? After the autumn dying barely any of the bulbs had any growth at all.

Sure there's some weeds in there...but that adds nutrients and junk, right?

Jump back to last week and my grand plans for repotting. I decided to repot the amaryllis thinking that the bulbs weren't doing well because they were overcrowded. Overcrowded is a massive understatement. My careful neglect over the years had led to nearly two dozen bulbs in that tiny container.

As I was pulling them apart, being exceptionally careful with the roots, I noticed that every single bulb was, to varying degrees, splotched with red spots and patches. I was fairly sure that this was not a normal thing so onto the interent I went to find an answer. In all of the pages I searched mention of a bulb killing fungus that made the Audrey 2 look nice was made but I could find no photos of this dreaded disease.

Where the internet fails, elderly neighbors prevail. I took one of the bulbs and marched across the street where last year, I knew, a gazillion amaryllis bloomed in carefully planned reckless disarray. Mrs. Elderly Neighbor took one look at the bulb I carried and I swear she might have reached for a cross to ward me off!

"Oh, my!" she said as I held it out to her.

"So...that's bad, right?" I asked still just a bit hopeful that my amaryllis could be saved.

"I would say so." She shook her head, "Nothing to do for it. Get rid of all the bulbs and dirt."

"The dirt too?"

"Yes," she said, "it's all been infected."

I sighed, thanked her gratefully, and trudged back to the house to dispose of the bulbs. Stupid things can't even go into the compost.

A pile of bulbs and roots. In the top left of the mass of bulbs you can see one clearly discolored.

But as I was going through them I found three bulbs that only had a couple of little red spots on them. I smiled and pulled out three half-gallon pots. With new soil and individual containers, maybe, just maybe, I'll get a few blooms and I can try to save the seeds and start again.

Meet the Good-ryllis: Angelo, Frankie, and Vinnie. Yeah. I named them after mobsters but it's okay because they're deadly.

Assuming, of course, that the fungus won't affect the seeds.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

What inspires my nightmares

Last week was a wash. I'm surprised that I actually posted an "I Made It Monday" yesterday since most of the week was tussled up in stress and angst. Oh I wish I could blame it on someone else, but 95% of it was my own doing.

You see, I had to go to the dentist on Thursday. And that pretty much ruined my week. It kept me up tossing and turning. It woke me up with nightmares. It prevented me from concentrating on the work that I needed to be doing.

I'm not sure where my fear of dentistry came from. I know it isn't the most pleasant of outings but during my initial appointment at my current dentist they asked me to pinpoint something. The only thing I could think of was once, when I was little, I had an abscess beneath a baby tooth and it was bothering me so much that my mom brought me to the our dentist in the middle of the night to have it taken care of.

(Truthfully, it might not have been the middle of the night, but it was dark out and the dentist opened his office for us - no one else was there - you know, back when doctors did things like that.)

Dr. R. sat me in the chair and after a cursory exam looked me straight in the eye and told me that we could do two things: pull the baby tooth, drain the abscess, and end the pain or leave it alone and maybe it would stop hurting once the tooth fell out naturally.

I'm fairly certain that my choice was to leave it alone but I gather my mom had other ideas. The tooth had to go.

I recall crying and pain, gauze stuffed into the bloody hole where my tooth  had been. And then, the throbbing that had kept me awake and caused all the trouble began to subside.

As far as I can remember that was the single "bad" experience I had at the hands of a dentist. And yet, today, while I might remain outwardly calm in the waiting room, patient in the exam room and courteous at the check-out counter, inside I am a seething ball of panic, twisted into knots made of razors.

My most recent "tooth-ventures" started back in November you can read about that here, here and here) when teeth that I should have taken care of years ago started bothering me and I, in tears, begged for an emergency visit. I had the problem teeth removed the Monday before Thanksgiving with the understanding that once I had healed I would be back in the office to get a treatment plan together and started.

My friends, the dentist had to call me to schedule an appointment. I kept putting it off. Again. Because I don't learn lessons apparently. So last Thursday I had three fillings. Today, I'll have three more. Last week I spent the week in panic mode. During the visit, the nurse, had to literally pry my hands apart. I was clenching them together so tightly that they had turned a dusky purple. I was told to wiggle my toes as much as I liked but "for goodness sake stop shaking your foot so much!"

By the time I got home around 1pm I was exhausted, headachy, and starving (because who could eat before facing a dentist?) so I tried to eat, failed and ended up going to bed until 7 that night. Cyra and Ashleigh came home from school, checked on me and just did their thing.  

Although I know what to expect, I am still fearful. I might claim to be afraid of aliens and zombies because they don't exist* and I really don't have to put too much effort into being afraid of them. I avoid the real things that cause me fear because I don't like how I react. And that, my friends, is why I'll take a nightmare full of zombies, aliens, and bigfoots over any dream that features teeth or the dentist!

*By "don't exist" I mean I totally think life is out there somewhere, I just don't think they waste their time buzzing our planet. And zombies could totally happen. Maybe. And I know that Matt Moneymaker will someday find bigfoot.

Monday, February 25, 2013

I Made It Monday

I've mentioned before how I am a gamer - I should clarify that though I play video games and board games, my love is tabletop RPGs like Dungeons and Dragons and, of course, Pathfinder. For the past two plus years I've been playing in a single adventure path ("adventure paths" are self contained adventures that take a character from 1st level to a high level over the course of six interconnected adventures, hence, adventure path).

Two weeks ago my gaming group and I completed an entire adventure path. It is the first campaign I have ever finished. It was sad to see it end. Characters that we had developed over two years suddenly ready to retire and new characters and a new campaign to start. As sad as I was to see the old campaign come to a close I was excited to start a new one. Yesterday, my group started a new adventure path called Skull and Shackles in which we, the characters, get pressed into piracy.

I love pirates. I love pirate themed anything. And as it happens I also love to bake. Typically I make some kind of dessert, snack or treat for my guys each session. I spoil them really. But that's okay because I love baking so much that I can sometimes overdo things and having three extra guys in the house helps to take care of the food.

So this week for the start of the campaign I made my guys hardtack.


The dough was so sticky I had my doubts to whether I would actually be able to roll it out.
Now, I wanted my guys to actually eat the stuff so I didn't go with a traditional flour, water, salt recipe. I found one that called for oats, honey, and buttermilk. Again, not exactly hardtack, but...similar.

Interestingly enough I actually have a small round biscuit cutter.

The bottoms of the hardtack got a nice golden brown but the top remained a slightly pale shade of dough. "Dough" is a color, right?
Pretty, right?
These actually tasted pretty good. Although not technically "hard" the guys still got a chuckle out of it and Scott and the girls said they wouldn't mind some in their lunchboxes to snack on during the day. I'm definitely going to make these again but next time with a touch more honey and maybe some cinnamon or nutmeg.

And because I didn't want my guys to get stuck with scurvy (because who in their right mind would) I made a lemon wafer cookie. Oh my goodness this cookie was just about the most delicious lemon cookie I have ever made before.

A crisp buttery cookie with a tart lemon glaze. Yum!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Friday Photos

I find it oddly appropriate that today's photo is a bird of prey. There's a lawyer joke in there somewhere and next week I think I might get to it but for now...

One of the things I love about living where I do is I get a bit of country all tucked up nicely next to my city. I have a yard with critters and yet it's only a few minutes drive to Barnes and Noble. I have chickens* that wander through my yard yet I'm a mere three miles to the nearest major highway. I have a lovely dicotomy of a neighborhood. I rarely see anyone but when I do they are so friendly it's kind of spooky.

I came home the other day after picking Cyra up from violin lessons and saw a huge bird hanging out in the front yard. I say huge because it was clearly bigger than the blue jays, cardinals and robins that have so recently been chillin'. As I pulled in it just stared at me. Menacing dark eyes all broody like David Duchovny (interesting side story - I once almost named Ashleigh "Duchovny" because I loved the X-Files that much). The bird stood his ground as Cyra and I got out of the car and moved towards the house. It wasn't until Junie came bounding out through the open door that he decided to take to the skies.

Duchovny didn't go far (yup. I named him. I do that.) just up to a tree over hanging the gazebo. There, he continued to glare at me from on high. Fine, I thought, clearly this is a bird who likes to be in the spotlight. I called Junie in, grabbed the camera off of the dining room table and snapped a half dozen shots before Duchovny and his deep broodiness called it quits.

Pensive Duchovny surveying his dominion.

I bet he thinks all the lady hawks will swoon over that smoulder!

It turns out that this is a red-shouldered hawk. I think. At least that's as near as I can figure from comparing the photo to a bird identifying website. And you know, the internet never lies.

*Unfortunately those chickens are not my own. Someday, chickens, someday!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Whisper Sweet Nothings

The other day I was out running my errands when Scott called my cell. He rarely ever calls from work and each time he does, my heart freezes and I catch myself holding my breath in a moment of panic. His job is very physical and on site injuries are a very real possibility. I worry about him a lot.

“Are you okay?” I ask even before I say hello.

“Yeah,” he says with a quiet chuckle. He knows my first instinct is panic. “I’m fine.”

“Okay.” I let out a sigh. “Okay. What’s up?”

“Oh, nothing,” he says, “It’s just I’m stuck at the office doing a bunch of online trainings that I didn’t know I was going to have to do and I was hoping you could bring me something to eat. But if you are out, and you are since you answered your cell, then it isn’t a big deal.”

“Sure.” I say, “I’m just up the road at Publix. I need to grab one thing and I can bring you something. I’ll be there in ten.”


I grab my grocery item and pick up a sub for him and make my way to his work. The secretary leads me back to the training room where he is sitting, forlorn, staring at a computer screen. His face lights up with a huge smile when I walk in. He pushes himself up out of the chair and wraps his arms around me, squeezing me tight.

He takes the bag of food from me, sets it aside and goes back to hugging me. This show of affection, normally reserved for home, is amusing. Even more amusing his apparent lack of interest in the food.  
 “You okay?” I ask him.

“Fine,” he says, dropping a kiss on my forehead. “Just glad to see you.”

“Okay.” I smile and listen as he tells me about his day and the computer work he has been told to do. I have groceries in the car and it is a warm day so after a few minutes I tell him I need to go.

We hold hands as he walks me out to the car a few minutes later. And he spends another few minutes holding me and stroking my hair.

“You know I love you?” He asks quietly, his mouth just above my ear. I nod as he adds, “You just made my day better.”

Scott and I have been together now for almost 18 years. That’s pretty much half of my life. And like most couples we sometimes tend to forget the little things especially when life throws a whole bunch of crazy at you! Oh we give our love freely (the words I mean) but Scott isn’t much for the romance. He never really was.

But every once and a while he can melt my heart without even trying.

Monday, February 11, 2013

I Made It Monday

I've been kind of slow on the crafting lately. Coming off of the holiday crafting high always leads me to a slow down in January and February. I've been feeling the yearning for some learning. I like knowing how to do things and I'm all about learning a new craft. There's about a half dozen crafts I would love to learn: spinning...okay spinning it the only one I can think of right now, but I swear there are more! I'm a bit bored with what I have right now and that makes it hard to want to sit down with a skein of yarn or a half dozen photographs and be creative. 

Plus, as I've mentioned before I haven't been all that...enthusiastic...with life right now. A lot is going on and often I find myself sitting with a project in my lap or on the table in front of me and no desire whatsoever to do any work on the project. I'll stare at the TV not seeing what I'm watching, worrying instead of working. It happens and I hate it when I catch myself zoning out. I end up putting the project aside and doing chores or more often than not, wasting time on Pinterest (I don't have an account and refuse to get one, but jeesh do I love scrolling through). Hopefully one of the biggest issues going on right now will soon be resolved and I'll get back into my normal routine.

I actually started working on today's project way back before Christmas but only finished it late last week. It should have taken a day or two tops. I worked on it for an hour, lost interest, went back a week later and couldn't remember what row I was on so I tore the whole thing out and restarted.

This happened a whole slew of times.

I got the pattern from one of my favorite crocheters, Ana Paula. Her book Amigurumi Toy Box features a quartet of cute sea creatures that make me squee. The jellyfish, though, is by far my favorite. 

"I shall call him Squishy and he shall be mine and he shall be my Squishy."

I've hung him where I normally hang up our mistletoe and love watching Scott hit his head on it every single time he walks into the living room.

See how awesomely I am channeling J.J. Abrams? I think I've got a talent for lens flares.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Friday Photos

Florida, like many places in the country, is full of the odd and unusual. Sometimes though I get the feeling that Florida tries just a little bit more than the rest of the U.S. I mean the state was essentially established as one big tourist trap because really how else are you going to sell a swamp that periodically gets destroyed by hurricanes? In any event, surprises that pop up around any corner are commonplace and really, one of the perks of living here.

Today's photo is a landmark that I've known about since I moved here back in 2000 but I've never been inside and probably only driven by it a handful of times. As it happened a couple of weeks ago I was bring my dad around on the scnenic A1A and decided to stop and point out this awesome building.

Behold! Castle Otttis!

I captured this from the road, just at the end of the castle's driveway.

This thoroughly medieval looking castle sits a stone's throw away from the beach just north of town. And although it looks as if Templar Knights could come pouring out of it at any moment it was actually built between 1984 and 1991 as an art project. Yup. It's just art. You can go only only by special arrangement tours. And I think you can rent it for weddings. Someday, I'd love to take a tour...oh the photographs I could take!

Monday, February 4, 2013

I Made It Monday

Can I tell you a secret? I really hope this doesn't ruin my baking street cred, but I have never made pizza from scratch before.

Still think I'm awesome?

Look, pizza from a pizza joint has always been more convenient albeit expensive. It just never occurred to me to make it on my own. Maybe because making a yeast dough, until this past year, was intimidating. Maybe because until we moved ordering a pizza didn't seem like a luxury.

We love pizza. Back in the day, we had it almost weekly. Now it has become a special event item, ordered for a celebration, a reward or a special night. Our taste buds live for the days when a visiting family member offered to pay for some pizza.

I had a hankering last week for pizza, a desperate yearning that gnawed at me for days. But rent, power and groceries told me that pizza would have to wait. While I was menu planning (the only thing that keeps me on budget when I grocery shop) I was flipping through The Pioneer Woman's cookbook and found her recipe for pizza dough. (FYI - the recipe I used from her book, is not on her website so far as I can tell, however, this link will bring you to her page for a number of her pizza recipes. All of which look delicious.)

Light bulb!

If I want pizza, I thought, why not just make it. Yeast no longer scares me, we already have veggies down on the list, what's adding one or two more and the only major expense, cheese and meat, could be wiggled into the budget if I got rid of something, say like cereal, and planned more pancake breakfasts.

Pizza, my friends, was back in our lives! Bigtime!

Cast of delicious characters minus the sauce. The sauce was shy (I forgot to take it out for the photo and didn't feel like a reshoot.) Also, although I have sausage out, I ended up just using the pepperoni and some diced ham I already had in the fridge.
I chose to make an minor investment in pizza pans although I'm sure I could have used my cookie sheets. I figured if I had pizza pans I would be more likely to make pizza again to justify the cost the pans.

Pizza dough is a sticky dough unlike bread dough. And there isn't any kneading. Although I used the Pioneer Woman's recipe, I modified it slightly to make it a bit more zesty with the flavor. I added basil, marjoram, garlic and pepper to the flour before mixing in the proofed yeast. My dough looks nothing like the photo's in PW's book but from the get go it smelled heavenly.

Three hours of rising later, my dough still didn't look like the pictures, but I figured if it had risen I must have gotten something right.

I really love chopping vegetables. It's relaxing and delicious all at the same time.
Parmesan. Yum.
Fresh mozzarella. Double and triple yum!
The pizzas assembled. It was hard taking photos while I was in the middle of added the toppings so I just took shots of the finished products. The dough was stretchy and although I wanted to try my hand at tossing the dough, I refrained. I have marvelous self control.

Pizza #1 - half Hawaiian, half pepperoni

Pizza #2 - I guess you could call it a supreme.
And finally the finished and cooked homemade pizzas:


Now, certainly there were some problems. Stretching the dough out was an issue. I tended to stretch it too thin in places. Also, I left the dough for the second sitting out uncovered while I made the first pizza and the dough got a tad dried out. Scott (who knows a thing or two about pizza, having worked in the industry) said that I overloaded the middle with toppings which prevented the crust in the middle to fully cook - it was a bit on the mushy, doughy side. The sauce I used was store bought and more of a marinara than a pizza sauce and I probably should have stuck with a plain pizza sauce. But other than that and despite the mushy middle, these were phenomenal and I could have kicked myself for not attempting homemade pizza before this. 

Maybe after a few tries I'll look to making my own sauce too. And maybe, just maybe, if my gardening goes well this year, I'll truly be able to call a pizza "totally made from scratch." 

Well, except for the flour. And the yeast. And the cheese. So I guess I'd just be able to call it mostly almost totally made from scratch.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Friday Photos

Alright so these are older photos from December, but I figured that since Blogger and I were taking a break and all, I'd go pull some funny shots I would have shared if I could have.

Every year I buy a gingerbread house kit from Wilton. I know I might lose some of my baking cred here, but I really don't like gingerbread all that much and for me rolling out dough is a pain. The kits are relatively cheap, offer an afternoon of shenanigans (and yes, it always ends with shenanigans!), and the end result is a pretty "creative" center piece during the lead up to Christmas.

This year I got the mini village kit with four tiny houses and another kit to make trees. What started out are a serious endevour quickly degenerated into a nonpareil food fight with Ashleigh and I slinging sprinkles across the table at each other. Cyra was definitely not amused. In fact, she was so serious and determined to make her two houses perfect that she didn't even throw one sprinkle! And she yelled at us to "stop acting like children."

Jeesh. Ten year olds are so bossy.

This was our finished project. I used two lemon Starbursts and molded them into stars for the tops of my trees. Ashleigh and I got crazy with the decorating and ended up making a mess.

Notice how the right side looks as though it has been attacked by the Cake Boss if he had broken all his fingers and his arm in three places and was psychotic. Yeah. That's Ashleigh's side.

Now the problem with leaving out an edible decoration, we've discovered, is that our dog Junie likes to counter surf. Nothing is safe. And though she has gotton much better about behaving now that I watch her like a hawk all day and keep the counters and tables free from temptation, I knew that a tray laden with sweet cookies and icing would be her downfall. In order to keep our village safe, each night I would slip it into the oven.

Surely nothing could go wrong with that plan.

Nothing that is until a few days before Christmas when I forgot to take it out and preheated the oven for dinner...

A delicious sweet smell wafted out from the over as I was chopping up a pepper. And all of a sudden it dawned on me: The Village!

Pulling it out of the oven I couldn't help but laugh. Cyra came running out to see what was so funn an nearly burst into tears.

"It's okay," I told her. "Look, only the icing roads and my stars seem to be melty. It'll be fine."

Unless, of course, you're the dingbat who pops it back into the oven that night and promptly forgets about it until Christmas morning, when once again, the oven required some preheating. This time, however, distracted by the chaos of the morning, I didn't remember until I was about to put in the blueberry stuffed French toast.

"Cyra," I cried out, "I did it again!"

"MOMMY!" she hollered from the living room as she rushed into the kitchen shiny new presents temporarily forgotten. Her shoulders sagged a little in defeat and my mom stifled a giggle. I couldn't help it. I burst into laughter. Cyra glared at me for a second before running back into the living. She returned a few seconds later camera in hand.

"Here," she sighed. "You might as well take pictures of it."

One of Crya's houses completely collapsed, but the others stood up well.
My handmade stars, on the other hand, didn't fair as well.
The lesson? Always check inside your oven before you preheat it. Or maybe just don't store things in your oven in the first place.