Tuesday, September 30, 2014

You can call it Karma

TRUST me, it was more than just a weekend with the "girls".

We met many, many, many years ago when we were classmates in elementary school.  We could not have been much older than seven or eight when that happened.  We have been through loves, marriages, babies, divorces, children, grandchildren.  Together, we've supported each other.  Life, death, sickness, health.  It's almost as if we are all married to each other.  But it's even better than that.  I'm the renegade, the one who has always done things differently, moved away, came back, moved away again.  Went to a different high school.  All went to the same college.  Mix it up, throw it all around, do whatever you can do to it but it always comes out the same....four of the best friends four people could ever have.  We're the original Cemetery Club.

It started on Friday afternoon.  Two ventured up from New York, one remained behind.  I made swordfish.  We had lots of wine and we laughed and never stopped laughing until Monday morning.
We called it "Karma" weekend but it wasn't exactly Karma.  We just couldn't find a word to describe what kept happening.  It was some kind of supernatural force that began on Saturday, on the beach.

We watched the movie "Kinky Boots" on Friday night. Random. So many movies to choose from but that's what we watched.  Next day, we're walking on the beach and another little group of women are walking behind us, talking about "Kinky Boots", the movie!  It is not a new movie and I know very few people who have seen it. Random.

We love recipes.  So,  we three foodies bring food magazines to the beach and thumb through them, sharing our "finds" as we go along.  One of us finds a recipe for a dish that was most unusual, made with Brussels sprouts, sounding very good indeed.  While in the "mood", we discuss plans for dinner out the next night.  I suggest a place,  Janet looks it up on her phone, checks out the menu and as spooky as it can possibly be, finds that they offer the exact unusual recipe from the magazine, the one we had just recited. Random.

Monday morning arrives and sadly, we're having our last burst of conversation. We talk about connecting to our families.  Lori's in the shower.  Janet and I are crying. I bring up my favorite topic of late....."where will we live when the lease is up in July" and I confess that I miss my kids, want to be closer to my granddaughters who are growing up too fast.  I tell both of my friends that I rarely hear from my children, that it is I who usually calls them and I feel badly when both of them tell me that they talk to their daughters every day and then......my phone rings......and it's my daughter.  Random.

You cannot make this stuff up.


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Holy Coldy

My almost-ninety-three year old father has the start of a cold.  I know this because his wonderful neighbor who stops in to see him a few mornings a week, called me.  She also told me that he told her sometime last week that he had passed out cold at some point, not related to anything.  Just passed out, on the floor, got up and carried on.  Never told me one thing about this. So, today, I will go on over to pay him a visit, play my little cat and mouse game that has become part of my life since Mom died, and try to ascertain just what is going on without telling him that I had news from his neighbor. If I do let on, he will never tell her anything again and I will have lost an ally.

So, for now, we're back to that cold he has.  An Upper Respiratory Infection, one that is probably viral in nature, came from some other viral "carrier".  Back to my last post.....those damned hands....of a stranger.  My father hasn't any visitors other than family and lately, that means myself and my husband.  He doesn't shop or go out to eat.  He hasn't been anywhere that would have exposed him to "germs" except for Sunday Mass.  Ah ha!

Now, that brings me to church.  Err, not to church.  Not the one I was told was "my" church or "my" faith.  The one I embraced because my parents and their parents did.  No choice here, just did what they did and found that it is so true, that adage "if you always do what you always did, you'll get what you've always gotten".  Thank you Tony Robbins.  So, I always did what I always did and let's just say it's time to find a new way of doing.  I'm searching but that's not the point of this post.

So, that brings me back to the cold and the doing and the hands and the rituals of the church that I have always called "mine".  The Catholic liturgy includes "offering each other some sign of peace", right smack in the middle of the service.  I suppose that shaking hands comes from the extension of the olive branch from ancient times so, that's what they do, shake hands.  I'm sure my father, following the rules as he does, turns to the people closest and accepts the old shake at the right time and then he returns to his holy thoughts......"do dogs think?"......"when someone is cremated, do they have clothes on?".  My children will know what this is about.

And that all brings me back to where I wanted to be in the first place.  If you always shake hands with people who might possibly be in church, sick as your dog, but afraid that God will be putting a big black mark next to their name should they remain at home, taking care of themselves and saving others from getting whatever they might be harboring, you will always get what you'll always gotten, a cold!!!

Damn you.

Friday, September 19, 2014


My daughter lives an hour and a half too far away from me, making easy-breezy Mommy and Me dates somewhat difficult.  But yesterday, we managed to make and keep a date and we met halfway. We had a wonderful lunch and a tiny bit of shopping together before she had to drive away in time to collect her girls from school.  I had the luxury of time that the years since I have had to do same, have afforded me, so I went to the nice supermarket and picked up a few items before my return trip.

It is important to understand that we met up in a shopping plaza that is located in one of the nicest towns along the South Shore in between Boston and Cape Cod.  If you live in one of these towns, it is presumed that you are on the higher end of the median income scale, that you are bright and probably well-educated so my tiny diatribe is based upon those very assumptions.

Cookies.  I have to confess. I love them. I am the original "Cookie Monster".They are the one thing in life that I find very, very difficult to resist.  They are the nemesis of many a failed attempt at losing weight.  If only there were a real, bonafide, cookie diet, I would buy the franchise (oh, think of all the wholesale product!). Of course, I'm partial to fresh-baked, but I'll also sell a baby for bakery-baked and if they have any vestige of chocolate on top, inside, or sprinkled around, I'd sell my entire family.
So, here I was in this store, standing before a gigantic assortment of beauties. Little bags were tucked into little cubbies underneath the clear plastic bins, each holding a different variety of the same species.  All one has to do is grab a little piece of waxed paper, reach into a bin, and plop a cookie into a bag.  One. By. One. Or, you can grab a handful of your favorite, mix and match them.  They are sold by the pound, weighed at the cash register as you check out.

Been a healthcare professional for forty seven years. Know about cross contamination.  Know that hands are one of the biggest of the vectors. So are sneezes. Store knows same. Bins have doors that cover the precious product. Wax paper grabbers are in good supply, easy to find. It does not take the I.Q. of the average person who can afford to shop at this store to figure it all out. The cookies are $10.99 per pound.......

Along comes a normal looking woman, one who seems to be a local resident of this affluent community. One of the above-mentioned set. Up to the cookie display. Opens the cookie door. Reaches in, grabs........................with her bare hands.................a cookie and opens another door and does same. Plops them into a bag, one that she got from the cubbie adjacent to the waxed paper cubbie, both clearly marked, an off she went, leaving me and the cookie-employee behind to grouse.

"Did you see that?" I said.
"Yes, I see it all the time here" he said.
"People are really stupid, aren't they?" I said.
"They made us install those covers so that the kids wouldn't reach in there" he said.
"The kids?" I said.
"Yeah, it's not the kids that were doing the reaching and grabbing. It was the adults. Reaching in, grabbing, and handing the kid a cookie to eat, right there. If they'd have asked me, I would have given the kid a cookie" he said.
"People are stupid and hygiene is a lost art" I said.

So, I carefully selected three cookies, avoiding those that I had just decided were not worth the risk had that woman come to the cookie display straight from the ladies room, and I headed to the check out with the rest of my groceries. The thoughts of stupid people still filled my head. (it takes me a while to get over some things). My groceries pass the hands of the checker outter, a nice young man, and as he's about to complete my order he asks:

"M'am, would you like me to pack your cookies or hold them out so that you can snack on them when you leave?"

To which I said with a little fake giggle....."Oh, goodness no. Thank you. You can put them in with the other things. I'm not going to do that"

Those beauties never made it out of the parking lot.

I guess people really are smart in that community. Or, have all those hours of watching Sesame Street with my kids taken their toll(house)? Do I look like Cookie Monster?  Maybe.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

And So

I simply cannot think of a better "Guest Post" than this one today.
I'm happy to use my space to allow Charlotte's message to reach you.

On Sunday afternoon, we attended a beautiful wedding.  The bride had, weeks before, visited her mother and asked that she NOT attend the wedding, that she was to be punished for her refusal to attempt to recover from her addiction to alcohol.  The following evening, the mother of one of my closest friends passed away, suddenly. She became a dear friend of mine, years ago, when I helped facilitate a repair in the relationship between a set of parents and their adult son who had chosen an alternative lifestyle, one that he could not share with his parents for fear it would bring them shame.  All it took was a phone call, a son to a set of parents who lovingly responded, "you're our son and we love you".  No regrets today.

So, this is a tribute to my dear friend and, perhaps a little tap on the shoulder of a new bride.  At the very least,  it is a tiny favor for a person who I have never met, will never meet, but will long hold in my own heart for her beautiful words and her hard-earned wisdom.

Rest in peace Charlotte

And So There Must Come an End

Charlotte has blogged on The Huffington Post UK since 2013 and sadly passed away on Tuesday 16 September from bowel cancer. She wrote one final post that she wished to share with all of her readers. We are honoured to offer it to you here.

I've always been a good planner. I like lists and tick sheets, to-do notes and objectives. I'm very good at starting things, but honestly, I am also easily bored and quickly lose interest once the original excitement passes.
I haven't had the luxury of being allowed to be bored of having cancer. It isn't something you can just give up if you don't fancy doing it that day. There isn't a switch you can chose to turn off one day from the next. At least not for me. From my first day as a cancer patient, I have attended every test, scan and appointment. I have tried every treatment offered, from the standard medical therapies, to eating oiled cottage cheese, having acupuncture and juicing kale. Cancer has become our life. Holidays, haircuts and helicopter lessons have all been timed around good or bad chemo weekends. Danny and Lu, unwittingly as innocent by-standers have had their childhoods protected but also dictated by my various regimes. This is all they have ever known and, I hope, have still managed to turn out to be pretty good, well-rounded, loved and treasured children.
The innocence that we have protected them from has now had to be revealed. Following my birthday, I started to feel 'unwell'. We 'popped' to hospital where the usual set of tests were carried out. Unfortunately, when combined with a recent scan, the results were nothing short of devastating. We were no longer looking at a month by month action plan with a couple of months buffer at the end. I was given days, perhaps a couple of weeks to live. I wasn't expected to leave the hospital, but somehow, have managed to pull it out of the bag at the last moment and return home, to spend what little time I have with my darling children and loving husband.
As I write this, I am sat on the sofa, relatively pain-free and busy doing my little projects, sorting out the funeral and selling my car. We wake up every morning, grateful I can have a cuddle and kiss my babies.
As you read this, I will no longer be here. Rich will be trying to put one foot in front of the other, to get by, a day at a time, knowing I will no longer awake next to him. He will see me in the luxury of a dream, but in the harsh morning sun, the bed will be empty. He will get two cups from the cupboard, but realise there is only one coffee to make. Lucy will need someone to reach for her hairband box, but there won't be anyone to plait her hair. Danny will have lost one of his Lego policeman, but no one will know exactly which one it is or where to look. You will look for the latest update on the blog. There won't be one, this is the final chapter.
And so I leave a gaping, unjust, cruel and pointless hole, not just in Halliford Road, but in all the homes, thoughts and memories of other loved ones, friends and families. For that I am sorry. I would love to still be with you, laughing, eating my weird and latest miracle food, chatting rubbish 'Charleyisms'. I have so much life I still want to live, but know I won't have that. I want to be there for my friends as they move with their lives, see my children grow up and become old and grumpy with Rich. All these things are to be denied of me.
But, they are not to be denied of you. So, in my absence, please, please, enjoy life. Take it by both hands, grab it, shake it and believe in every second of it. Adore your children. You have literally no idea how blessed you are to shout at them in the morning to hurry up and clean their teeth.
Embrace your loved one and if they cannot embrace you back, find someone who will. Everyone deserves to love and be loved in return. Don't settle for less. Find a job you enjoy, but don't become a slave to it. You will not have 'I wish I'd worked more' on your headstone. Dance, laugh and eat with your friends. True, honest, strong friendships are an utter blessing and a choice we get to make, rather than have to share a loyalty with because there happens to be link through blood. Choose wisely then treasure them with all the love you can muster. Surround yourself with beautiful things. Life has a lot of grey and sadness - look for that rainbow and frame it. There is beauty in everything, sometimes you just have to look a little harder to see it.
So, that's it from me. Thank you so much for the love and kindness you've shown in your own little ways over the last 36 years. From the mean girls in the playing fields who pushed me into the stinging nettles aged six to the bereaved husbands who in the last week have told me what their wives did to help prepare their young children and everyone in between. They and you have all, in some small way helped me become the person I have been.
Please, now use that love for me and pass it to Rich, my children, family and close friends. And when you close your curtains tonight, look out for a star, it will be me, looking down, sipping a pina colada, enjoying a box of (very expensive) chocolates.
Good night, Good bye and God bless.
Charley xx

Monday, September 15, 2014

Negative Space

One week, two opportunities for learning about something I have given very little thought to thus far, "negative space."

I am a card-holding member of, believe it or not, the Yarmouth Art Guild.  Once a month we "artists" meet and together, we take a mini workshop from one of the many, many talented artists in our community.  My cousin is the secretary of the Guild so she has to sit in the front row where....she saves a seat for me.  Perfect viewing every time.  I don't miss as much as a brush stroke and I sit, riveted, hoping to go home inspired or at least to have discovered something new about a technique or a talented person and marine artist, Russell Vujus, did not disappoint. I was fascinated by each step he took as he began the process of creating a majestic seascape but it was the formation of clouds on the horizon that I most enjoyed. If you've ever painted or drawn a cloud and the end result was nothing more than a big white free form set on a blue background, it's probably because you did not consider negative space.  You filled your page or your canvas with what you thought would look like a cloud instead of taking away all that wasn't a cloud. Right?

The next day, while sitting with my father having coffee, another opportunity presented itself in a strange but true manner.  Out of nowhere, three, burly, half-naked men came marching through his backyard.  Whoa!  Dad was undaunted.  "Oh, they must be the tree guys".  Okay.  Good thing, they actually were the crew he hired to cut limbs that were hanging over his roof.  Before they completed their assignment, we hired them to prune a huge tree on the front lawn, one that blooms every spring, bursting with pink flowers.  It was my mother's pride and joy so I begged for an extra-special job of it and drove over the next day to check it out.  Where huge, useless branches had once filled the inside of the tree, blocking the sun and air, now remained open spaces.  Glorious open spaces which allow sun to filter through, right on to the lawn.  The tree has a new appearance and quite possibly, a whole new shot at life.  The "tree guys" kept their promise and Mom's tree looked so very much happier as if Mom herself were telling us to lighten up.  Dad was happy for having made the decision.

Clouds painted to look real when the artist took his white away with his blues, poking his brush in just the right places.  Tree pruners, clipping and cutting away all that was superfluous, allowing Mom's tree to thrive, the light to shine through the negative spaces.  Beauty in making less.  Light. Air. A cloud that looks like a cloud. A tree that looks like a tree. Befores and afters.

My niece got married yesterday.  It was a beautiful day for our family, filled with love and happiness.This morning, as I write this, I think of Daisy and Mark, the bride and groom, and I silently send up a prayer for them and hope that years later, they will look back at the true and honest beauty of a life that makes sense because they have left spaces.

Friday, September 12, 2014


His name is Jan Peerce.  It was 1951.  I just found that out.   I thought today would be an excellent day to visit him.  Or, shall I say,  "re-visit" him?  He's been a part of my life for a very long time.

The song was "Sing, Everyone, Sing" and it was the theme song for a radio show, the name and the details, I cannot recall.  I was only five or six years old.  But I do remember that I heard it, many times, just around lunch time.  It belted out from a very small radio. I want to say that the radio might have been light yellow, Bakelite.  I can tell you exactly where it was.  It was on a little corner shelf, right next to the first in a row of the top row of metal cabinets in my grandmother's kitchen.  The walls were yellow tile, the cabinets, white, and the Formica counter top, black.  I can still hear it and at the very same time, picture my grandmother, for some reason, always in a yellow sundress, singing right along, happy and busy.  My grandmother was always happy and busy.  I never knew then, that she had suffered from "melancholia" when my mother was young, and that she went away to "rest".  You would never have known it.

When I think of that kitchen, I see not only my grandmother, but a whole world passes before my eyes.  I see a truck, filled with huge squares of ice, another with large bottles of "crystalline" and another, with "seltzer".  There were also an assortment of little trucks that came around with regularity, these filled with fruits or fish.  Peddlers.  Lifelines for the women who waited for their arrival. The women who did not drive, not did they ever want or need to. I see my grandfather's socks, being soaked before hand-washed, in the bathroom sink.  I see my grandmother, pulling a pulley that creaked and groaned as it brought the clothes line to her hands in all kinds of weather. I see clothes on that line, all hung in a sequence that made perfect sense to the hanger. Dazzling whites one day, dark the next, sheets the next and on and on and on.

My grandmother suffered from melancholia.  You would never have guessed it.  Never in almost all of my lifetime.  She always looked so happy.She just needed to get over some humps.  She just needed to sing and to smile and to keep on doing what she loved.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

I Want to Remember

Writing Assignment for September:  "I Want to Remember"........

"To write your memoirs is to draw up a balance sheet of your life so far.....Memory, after all, may well prove voracious and intrusive.....remembering means to shine a merciless light on faces and events, to say 'No' to the sands that bury words and to forgetfulness and death.  Is that not too ambitious?" Elie Wiesel

I want to, and can, remember September ninth and tenth of thirteen years ago.

Along with our son and daughter-in-law, we spent a lovely Sunday in Manhattan, walking and enjoying the end of Summer in a city that was full of life and happy people as they readied for the new season. I remember being at the 12:15 Mass at Holy Family Church a block away from the U.N. Building, and the incense that almost overcame us. Incense is a word derived from the Latin incendere, which means "to burn." It is a sacramental used to venerate, bless, and sanctify; its holy smoke, intended to keep demons away.Was that moment a foreshadow I now wonder?

 I remember the next day, thinking how fortunate we had been for the incredible weather of the day before, as I picked up my routine and traveled into work on the train. The sunshine of the previous day was but a memory as the new day held the prospect of an evening storm.  Clouds hung in the sky as if they were a curtain, one that would all- too-soon open, unveiling a show, too horrific to believe.  I remember bits and pieces, not every moment, and it is those last two days that I hold sacred and view as the last of a life that now seems to never have existed in the first place. It did exist but, in comparison to the next 4,475 days, it was light and carefree. It is a life that I want so desperately to remember for now and for all time.

  The thunder and lightning that finally arrived by late in the evening of September tenth was simply a taunt, an escort to the most brilliant morning I can ever recall. Tuesday, September eleventh, 2001 started out with the bluest blue sky, not one cloud, not one trace of anything wrong. The sun, from the moment it rose, burst on the scene as if it were a happy child attempting to distract a parent from something naughty being schemed by a younger sibling.Look at me! Look at me! Oh please, look at me and don't turn away.

I remember where I was.  The visual image remains today as fresh as if it had just been five minutes or less, ago.  I remember it took an entire day, an entire day that was filled with sunshine, to loosen myself from the routine that I had clung to, the one that would try so hard to convince me that this could not have happened, that everything was still just as it had been hours before, that everyone was simply over-reacting and that tomorrow would be a new day, one more like the day before the day before. But, I remember the young man and woman on the commuter train, covered with ash, their faces, like Halloween masks. I remember how animated they were, how vaguely out-of-place they appeared and wondered if they knew each other before today or had they just met.  It wasn't until years later that I thought long and hard about them and about the days that followed and I wondered if they ever returned to the city. I wondered why, not one person spoke to them, how we simply allowed our denials to keep us from holding them in our arms, keeping them safe until they reached their homes.

And then, I want to remember, but it is impossible to, the people who passed by me in Grand Central Station that morning.  How many of them would continue their journey downtown after criss-crossing in front of so many others who also were innocently making their way to the workplace on that sunny morning. How many of them would not be returning? How many would be riding the trains, covered with what had earlier fallen from the sky,un-holy smoke. I want to go back in time. I want to stand in the center of the station, holding a thurible full of incense, blessing and sanctifying, keeping the demons away and the gates of hell closed.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Part Three, Finale

Vera on Jarvis Avenue remembered my mother as "Angie". That's what she was called by friends in the Bronx and most of her family.My father called her "Ann".

"Angie had a little girl who gave her a lot of problems going to kindergarten" she tells me as she points across the street to P.S. 71.

"No, it wasn't kindergarten. It was the first grade.I was that little girl"

I stood in utter amazement as my early childhood stories were told, as if I were a total stranger to my past. As many times as I tried to insert myself, Vera took the other track but in the end, it all worked out. We took our photos and we returned to the car, the one that we had parked right at the scene of the crime from the day before. Was that blood in the street? Could very well have been.

Time for lunch. On to a spin around the streets that weave around and come out by Crosby Avenue, the former home of my great-grandfather, the one he left his home in Tocco da Casauria, in the Provence of Abruzzo, Italy, just northeast from Naples. I don't know very much about my grandmother's past but I have been to Tocco and I have seen the very mountains that she saw every day until she left the country at age 14.There were not highways, no sophisticated forms of communication, just trust, bravery, and a relative or two who brought children to the New World, leaving everything behind. I'll never know how that was done and visiting that tiny remote town filled me with wonder and respect for my grandmother and her siblings.

From Crosby we made our way to Buhre Avenue where it meets Westchester Avenue and I look up at the elevated train tracks, and I listen to a sound that I've never forgotten nor has Cam, the "ELL" coming into and leaving the station. Cam's bedroom as a child was right on Westchester Avenue and the train noises were as much a part of her young life as were her dreams of one day living in London. My thoughts traveled to the spot, at the base of the station steps, where I would wait for my mother to return from her day at work.
Buhre Avenue. Dr. DeVana, our dentist. The little grocery store, one that was slightly bigger than the alimentari found in the small towns in Italy; my grandmother's friends, their greetings I dreaded.I can still feel the pain in my cheek as it was grabbed by bony fingers and held on to as my head was shook from side to side during the discourse.In broken English, or maybe dialect Italian, my grandmother was reminded of how big I had gotten since......was it last week when we last did this?Ouch! I knew I was in for it as soon as we spotted yet another little lady, all dressed in black, coming our way.We parked the car in the area near St. Theresa's Church.My parents were married there.My brother and I, baptized there and made our first communions.Family funerals, weddings, other babies baptized,  they all became real at the old church which has been replaced by a modern structure. The school for which my father helped raised start-up funds, the one I ran away from and never finished that school year, it's still standing. Not sure it still stands as a school. Wild horses couldn't get me to get close enough to the door to find out! I remembered all of the street names as we strolled towards our lunch destination and commented on how well-kept the homes were. The cultural mix on those streets has changed dramatically but residents still plant gardens in front of the houses.As I passed one in particular, the branch of a tall wild rose bush dipped down, close to my face. I grabbed a cluster or the most fragrant red roses, seven sisters all on one bough, and instantly, I was able to enjoy yet another memory. Roses don't smell that way anymore. St. Theresa is known as "The Little Flower" and roses are her signature scent. Last time I smelled anything like that was on the way to my daughter's wedding, in the car. I know what I was experiencing. I do.

We took time out for lunch in one of the last Italain trattorie in the neighborhood and then on to one of the last Italian pastry shops before getting back in the car and on to completing my journey. Cam's would be next but first, past the place where my grandmother used to buy live chickens that ultimately would be part of the best chicken soups.

The Number 6 train, above the ground
Westchester Avenue was the "Main Line"in that part of the Bronx, known as "Pelham Bay". Moms, mine included, walked baby carriages in little convoys with the other post-war new mommies, down the avenue to Westchester Square.My father's first station house for the 43rd Precinct, was to the right as you exited the Square and went on to Parkchester.It moved from that spot many years ago but the 4-3 is still alive and well. I wonder if they are too busy with their own current problems, no longer supporting their brothers in the 4-5 or 4-7, in those days considered to be much more in need of back-up.I'm sure that my mother had many a sleepless night over that or, did my father just not tell her that he was spending his shift in "Fort Apache?" Probably not.She never would have survived.It was at Westchester Square that Cam's and my stories converge but I will stop here. We both remembered the movie theater on the other side of the Aveunue and wondered if perhaps, we might have been there together at some point in our past. My grandmother went to the "show" faithfully, alone, or sometimes with me and Cam, with her older cousins. We remembered the hospital that once stood there at the Square and the library, amongst so many other parts of a childhood that we can't seem to dismiss. It was King Solomon who wrote: "The days come and the days go; one generation passeth away, and another generation cometh, but the earth abideth forever. The sun also riseth, and the sun goeth down. Beautiful words for what my heart was trying to say.

The years have come and gone. I can't recapture them but I like to at the very least, take a look at the paths that led to who and where I now am,. New sun rises, new sunsets. The warmth of an old friendship. It all makes sense and that's all I ask. Sense.
It does not get much better.  Good friends, Good meal. The Bronx. Period.