Category Archives: About Life in General

opinions about life today.

Regaining Faith in Humanity

Another school shooting. More people’s lives ripped away. More acts of religious and ethnic hatred. You see so much meanness coming from people nowadays, sometimes you begin to lose faith in humanity. Mine was restored a little today.

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As I rounded the bend on my walk, I saw a man standing on the grass, looking at the lake. Then I saw a tiny naked bird running around near him.

“Oh my goodness,” I said.

The man turned and smiled at me.

“He’s got to be brand new,” I said.

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“Actually, he’s a couple of weeks old,” he said. “He’s an orphan we found down by the weeds. He must have been the runt. You can see he also has a problem with his feathers, so they must have abandoned him.”

I shook my head. “That’s so sad.”

“I know. We picked him up and took him home, hoping we could save him.”

At that moment, the gosling started running away from us, flapping its wings. It looked like a wind up toy.

“Hey, where you going? Come back over here,” the man called. He looked at me. “This is the first time he’s ever left my side.”

The gosling came running back, stopping to peck at the grass for a moment before he returned close to the man.

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“He comes when you call?” I asked.

The man nodded. “Yeah, and he likes to cuddle under your chin.”

The man explained that they were raising him to get strong enough so they could to try to introduce him to a clutch that has goslings his age. They’d tried once already but he was rejected. “We’re hoping when he’s older it will work.”

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In the mean time, they have a set up a crate for him. “We’ve got stuffed animal geese in there and a mirror,” he explained. “The vet told us a special feed to get. He’s skinny, but eating and active.”

“He’s so cute,” I said.

“And look,” the man said. He pointed to the little guy’s chest where soft golden feathers were beginning to appear.

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The man’s smile was wide, filled with pride and compassion. “I think he’s going to make it,” he said.

What an inspiration, I thought as I continued on my walk. It goes to show that you should never give up. And that it’s not always the survival of the fittest if there’s a helping hand.

We need more of this in the world. Acts of kindness just because you can.

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A News Black Out? Not so fast.

 

I am so upset by what is happening in the news that I am literally sick to my stomach. I can’t sleep through the night and I have terrible dreams. I’m afraid of what’s going to happen next and feel powerless to stop any of it. I hope my kids and grandkids don’t read this because I’m supposed to say, “Everything will be all right.” I’m also hoping that I’ll go on the news black out that I think I need. And only concentrate on the beauty around me, and the people around me who agree that we must honor our neighbors as ourselves.

I wrote the paragraph above one night before I went to bed, to try to sleep. I knew I needed to get perspective.

So a funny thing happened to me on the way to becoming more detached from the news and politics.

It started off well.

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I woke up and took a beautiful walk along the lake, enjoying the budding plants and the antics of some goslings until a gander shooed me away. A lovely spring morning.

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An hour later, I was making myself a cup of tea at the gym while I waited for my yoga class to begin. That’s when I heard a man say that Keith Ellison is against having any United States borders.

“He’s the number two guy in the Democratic party. It just shows where the Democrats are coming from. They don’t want any laws at all to keep dangerous people out of our country,” he said.

Just take your tea outside and enjoy the blue sky, I told myself.

“That’s terrible,” another man said. “What’s the matter with them?”

Instead of me going out the door, all my good intentions went. I found myself taking my tea and a seat next to them.

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“I think you need a Democrat to even out this discussion,” I said in my most friendly manner. “Why do you think Keith Ellison is against borders?”

“He wore a t-shirt that said, ‘Yo no creo en fronteras’.”

“Are you sure this is real news?” I asked. “Last week I read that Hillary and Huma Abedin mutilated a young girl. It was definitely fake news.”

That got their attention.

“I heard you mention that Jerry Brown is trying to ruin California,” I said.

“Well, he is,” one of the men said. He was wearing designer work out clothes.

“California is now the fifth largest economy in the world,” I said. “I admit to being an English major, but even I can do the math on that statistic.”

The guy shook his head. “But Brown is letting all these immigrants in—having sanctury cities, that kind of thing,” he said. “Letting all these Mexicans congregate here, stealing, raping, doing drugs…”

A Latina woman who worked at the gym walked by. I cringed.

“Yeah, we’re not safe in our own houses anymore. And they want to take away our guns so we can’t protect ourselves,” the first guy said.

I wanted to say, “Why are you so stupid? You’re listening to a bunch of propaganda filled with hate,” but I refrained.

“That’s not true,” I said instead. “Most of the people who are here are law abiding citizens. Those who aren’t, the dangerous criminals, they won’t be turned loose. There’s no threat to public safety.”

They looked at me as if I had two-heads. “How do you know this?” one asked.

“I read the bill on line,” I said.

At that moment, my yoga teacher called to me that class was starting.

“Well, it was nice talking to you,” I said, getting up.

“Yeah, have a nice day,” one of them said.

I walked down the hall, wondering about Keith Ellison’s t-shirt and how in the world we can get to the truth anymore.

Not exactly an “OM” moment.

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A Tribute to Barbara Bush

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I’m very lucky that I got to meet Barbara Bush. She was just as everyone is describing. She was no-nonsense and warm. She was gracious, but you knew instantly that she didn’t suffer fools for a minute. She was full of fun and full of dignity. She was funny and irreverent, serious and dedicated. And she was real.

I wasn’t going to tell my story because it’s private, but the first time I met her was such a perfect example of who Barbara was that I can’t resist.

It was in Kennebunkport twenty years ago. We were back there with friends who were close with the Bushes. Four days before we left I was told that I’d being playing golf there.

“But I don’t play golf,” I said.

“You better learn fast,” my husband said.

Let me say here that I’m not the world’s greatest athlete. Nor is golf an easy sport. After twenty years I’m mediocre on a good day. But my first 18 holes was played with Barbara Bush, God help her.

We met at their club, Cape Arundel, me still tearing the tags off my golf attire. It turned out that the Bushes were hosting a cocktail party for 70 that evening at the Walker estate — Barbara was supposed to get a chance to relax and play golf that morning. Instead she got me.

Graciously, she invited me to ride in her cart. I’m not sure who she thought she was getting — I did come with a Hollywood couple, after all, who played golf all the time . She couldn’t have known I’d be a school teacher from Seattle…who’d never played golf. She soon realized the last part as I sprayed balls right and left. One hole of Cape Arundel borders a street and my ball almost took out the windshield of a Secret Service car driving along side. Guns drawn, two men in black leaned out of the car to make sure the former First Lady was not under attack.

I was in awe just being there–pretty tongue tied as well as embarrassed at my inability. I’d hit the ball and then scurry toward it, trying not to hold up play. Barbara must have been going crazy, but she didn’t say anything. On one hole, I actually was running to my ball. Barbara drew up in her cart and said, “Hop in. You don’t have to run. We all started somewhere.”

I rolled my eyes. “But why is my somewhere with you when you have 70 people coming to your house tonight.”

She laughed and patted the seat next to her. And I knew, just like that, I was okay in her book.

On the ninth green, I said, “Mrs. Bush, you can go ahead and putt out.”

A voice from the next hole called out, “Who’s calling my mother, ‘Mrs. Bush’. No one calls my mother, ‘Mrs. Bush.’ It’s Barbara.”

I blushed as I met Jeb who was playing with his dad and my husband.

Barbara, looking pleased, laughed at her son’s teasing. And I relaxed enough to laugh too.

Later that night at their house, she was the perfect hostess. Dressed in her classic style with the signature pearls around her neck, she made sure the evening, an event for MD Anderson, ran like clockwork. But it was with a calm and non pretentiousness that put everyone at ease.

We got to be with Barbara several other times. Each occasion was precious.

 

Glumping into Golden Age

images-1            Everything that happens to me lately, I blame on becoming older. Like I thought something was wrong with my ability to hear. I was listening to Morning Joe on Stitcher and it seemed everyone was talking extremely fast. I could barely understand what Mika was saying. It took me a couple of weeks, but it suddenly occurred to me to check the speed control: Sure enough, it had moved to 1.5 speed. A quick flick and I was back to normal speed. What a relief!

I’ve also been having trouble sleeping—the bane of Golden Agers. I was feeling quite anxious and blamed it not only on my life-long anxiety, but on my frustration with navigating this week through today’s health care system. I was just trying to get answers about test results and it wasn’t happening. Was I just too old to do it? I’d given up on getting a diagnosis—that seemed an impossibility for the UCLA system. They’d brought me to my knees just trying to get a human being to talk to me. I couldn’t even make an appointment in one office until the physician’s liaison got back to me. What is a physician’s liaison anyway?

“What is your husband’s diagnosis?” the receptionist asked.

I looked at the phone in disgust. “I don’t know his diagnosis!!! That’s why I’m calling to make an appointment!! That’s what we want to know!! I was an English major—no medical training here!! I’m not sure what the blood test is saying but when I look it up on the Internet, their interpretation is not comforting. And I’m pretty sure that the symptoms I’m now exhibiting as I talk to you, are indicative of high blood pressure and an oncoming stroke!!!!

I only actually said some of the above and I didn’t shout, but nothing phased the receptionist anyway.

“Is there someone there that can give me a hint if this is a serious situation?” I finally begged her.

“No, but the liaison will call you back with 48 hours,” she said. “Is this the best number to reach you?”

I could feel something throbbing in my head as I tried to slam down my iPhone.

Seeing that phoning was not working, I tried writing another email to our primary care doctor. Just let me know what we’re dealing with, I wanted to write. I like the idea of a health care portal and that you can write your doctor a question. I really really like it when they write back. But these portals shouldn’t release test results to lay people who don’t know how to interpret them. Then you go on-line and the answers you find are always the worst case scenario. I’m tired of being scared out of my wits.

Meanwhile, I didn’t get any answers back and had trouble sleeping that night.          The next day the physician’s liaison did get back to me. She talked in a hearty way, but would give me no information either.

“Okay. I’m guessing you’d like the next available appointment,” she said.

“Not really,” I said. “I want the next ASAP appointment.”

“Pardon me?” she said.

“I want the soonest available appointment,” I explained.

“Oh, sure. I can understand that.”

What did that mean, I wondered.

We got in two days later. We could have gotten in the next day but my husband was playing in a golf tournament and wouldn’t cancel. First things first! (Did I mention that while I was working my way into being a stroke victim, he was playing golf?)

I had no idea what the doctor would be like when we met her or him. She is FABULOUS!! She quickly explained that the alarming blood test told nothing by itself. She explained that more tests were needed. She explained what could be happening. She explained that there was nothing to worry about. It would probably turn out to be nothing. “I’ll tell you if you have to worry,” she said.

Of course she had no idea that she was talking to me, the poster girl for Worry Wort in the dictionary. I worry if I’m not feeling worried.

So, to get back to my first point about blaming everything on getting older, this frustration and non-worrying is why I thought I could barely sleep last night. But I was wrong. It was more about the bombing of Syria. I know this because when I woke up and before I opened my eyes, I thought, we’re still here, we’re still alive. I hadn’t even known my psyche had gone to Nuclear Winter.

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The Promise of Spring

It was a beautiful Easter/Passover morning. I set out on my walk without a plan in my head. I had no where I had to be until later in the day. Every plate and platter were put away, every pot was clean (well, there still was a little chicken soup left in one), and I no longer felt I’d been run over by a truck.

As I walked, I saw that the long winter’s sleep was done. Trees were budding all over the place! Primroses were nodding hello in the breeze. Calla lilies were in bloom.

When I walked by the lake I saw the many geese who’ve decided being American 24/7, 365/365 is a better plan than fighting the lines through Customs at the Canadian border. They aren’t the neatest of neighbors and can be quite aggressive at times…but not as aggressive as the coyotes who like to stretch their legs over the same grassy area.

As I rounded the curve, I spied an unusual sight: a goose who walked with a swagger. Most geese waddle. This guy had a long blade of grass hanging out of the side of his mouth. His cocky smirk reminded me of the silverback gorilla my brother had run into once in Rwanda.

After I’d walked a couple blocks, I got more curious and headed back to see if I could find my fine feathered friend. He, of course, wasn’t among the group on the lawn. He was much too superior for that. Maybe he was at the lake, I thought.

At first I wondered if maybe he was the one in the middle of the lake honking his head off warning the gaggle of impending doom. Or one of the two on the lake making plans for an assignation.

But, no, it seemed to me he was more the type to strut around looking for babes! And sure enough, I found him. Puffed out and looking good (except for the pieces of grass stuck in his beak.)

He kept walking around showing off but when I left, he was still alone. Just goes to show that all girls are smarter these days and as my mother always said, “Pride goes before a fall.”

Nostalgia Notes

 

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I got nostalgic yesterday for all the previous yesterdays when I could sleep through the night without worrying about was happening on the East Coast. I got nostalgic for the days when I didn’t need to know the names of people like Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell, Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi. I got nostalgic for the days when I believed our government was led by men and women with integrity and knowledge of national and international affairs. I wanted to go back to the days when I thought no President would tell a lie.

Then I got just plain nostalgic for that age of innocence when I was growing up. It turned into a Remember When morning and thinking of things in the past.

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Let’s start with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on white bread. Really, they were so delicious and went down so smoothly with a glass of milk. And we thought we were eating something healthy: the peanut butter was protein and the jelly was fruit. I just realized something weird — no one had a peanut allergy back then.

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Sadly, another thing that is probably in my past is prime rib. It used to be my favorite — my mother made a big one every Sunday night and we fought over the crispy fat. Now when I look at this photo, I feel a bit nauseous. Darn! And it tasted so good.

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Embroidery is a craft of the past. Probably a hundred years ago, my grandmother embroidered these napkins made out of flour sacking. My grandparents were immigrants who had nothing when they came to the United States in 1900. But my grandmother had skill and perseverance so she made things beautiful. I’ll never throw them away.

She is still my inspiration. She was the most amazing baker the world has ever seen. She never measured — well, she did use a half of an egg shell occasionally. This photo really captures her spirit.

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Spring is such a hopeful season filled with abundant energy. Winter fights with Spring, creating mischievous weather that has us layering on and off. The other day, as I put my jacket back on after just removing it five minutes before, I heard the distant drone of a propeller in the sky. When I looked up at the single engine plane, it took me back to my childhood days in Seattle. More feelings of nostalgia.

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Then there is the nostalgia for what you once could have worn, but no longer can. Like this gorgeous shoe — boot. I’m drooling as I look at it but I know there’d be no reason for me to even try it on. Too high of a heel for me and it would look ridiculous at the bottom of my babyboomer legs.

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Above is this tee shirt, which is more appropriate for me at my age. I remember getting a plaque with Getting Old is not for Sissies for my mom and dad on their 50th anniversary. Oh, we kids thought it was so funny…and we thought it would never happen to us.

Guess who isn’t laughing now.

 

 

 

Trump Tramples Women

via WHAT’S THE NEXT DOGWHISTLE?

WHAT’S THE NEXT DOGWHISTLE?

PressforProgress-India

I am so angry at the remarks Trump made in Pennsylvania about women. It’s been a slow burn in the pit of my stomach, but it could be ignited into a full flame at a moment’s notice.

His disrespect for women was on full display in front of this Pennsylvania crowd. Disrespect? What am I saying? Why I am so polite? He disdains women, despises the idea that they have a place in government. Deplores that women have a voice at all.

“We have to defeat Nancy Pelosi and Maxine Waters, a very low I.Q. individual,” Trump said. “You ever see her? You ever seen her? You ever see her? ‘We will impeach him! We will impeach the president!’ But he hasn’t done anything wrong. It doesn’t matter, we will impeach him! She’s a low I.Q. individual. You can’t help it. She really is.”

“But you have Maxine Waters, and you have plenty of others, and I mean Nancy Pelosi, you can’t have that,” Trump said.

In going after the Democratic leadership, he doesn’t go after Chuck Schumer He goes after Nancy Pelosi — a woman. “I mean Nancy Pelosi, you can’t have that?” Why can’t you have that? What does he mean?

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I didn’t like that but it’s what he said about Maxine Waters that has my blood boiling. You know it was racist. Don’t try to deny it. He thought he could get in a racist dig about African Americans, and win over his audience. “She’s a low I.Q. individual.” Wink, wink! “We’ll put them down because we know we whites are so much smarter!” Blech!

Waters, herself, says his remarks are racist. He’d attacked her similarly at the annual Gridiron Club annual dinner. “I certainly expected him to come out with some racist remarks about me. So he did exactly what I expected him do…”, she told MSNBC’s Joy Reid.

How dare he!!! I’m so appalled he thinks he can make derogatory remarks heard around the world about my fellow Americans and get away with it. Don’t forget he got his dig in at Gary Cohn, using the dogwhistle “Globalist”, the alt right term for a Jew.

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Meanwhile, the Pennsylvania speech that included anti-women sentiment was given two days after International Women’s Day, in the middle of Women’s History Month. I don’t think it was by accident. Trump may seem to shoot from the hip (NRA not withstanding) but I believe his statements are planned and thought out.

We can see that with the firing of Rex Tillerson via Twitter. Tillerson, who has a lot to answer for in his dismantling and mismanagement of the State Department, nevertheless has the right to be treated with respect by the president he served. The Secretary of State handled himself with dignity today when he made his remarks, although he was vibrating with emotion. Trump, in the same Pennsylvania speech, mocked a dignified President who would act with decorum.

That’s Trump’s mindset about the Presidency. I shudder to conjure up his thoughts about our democracy.flag-2578873__340

But, Not Seriously: The Good Ol’ Days

 

The other day I was taking a walk with a couple of friends and the subject of showers came up.

“I take a three minute shower,” I said.

“Why?” my fastidious friend asked. She seemed shocked.

“For two reasons. One, to conserve water, and also, I never have time to linger. It’s soap up, rinse off and get out,” I said.

“ I’m not being very environmentally responsible. I love to feel the hot water beat down on me. It feels so good. And I love to linger when I take a bath,” she said, looking guilty.

A bath, I thought. Now, there’s a foreign concept. I hadn’t had time for a bath in twenty years. You think when you get older, you’ll have more time for things like that. But time just keeps moving faster and it’s hard to fit in everything you need to do.

“What kind of soap do you use?” our other friend asked.

“I like natural shower gels,” I said.

They both did too.

“My husband still likes Dial Soap,” I said.

Their eyebrows raised so high I could see them above their sunglasses. “Dial soap? In a bar?” one asked.

“Yep, the old fashioned way,” I said.

“When I was a kid, we’d use the bar until you could see the lines at the bottom,” one of my buddies said.

“We used it down until it was a sliver,” I said. “We sorta still do.”

That was the moment when I realized that my parents’ Depression Mentality had truly sunk into my consciousness. We’d always laughed at them for their frugality, but the apple doesn’t fall far from the bushel. I’m just like my dad as I walk around turning off lights and television sets left on by the other denizens of my domicile. I squeeze out the very last bit of toothpaste from my tube. And wouldn’t dream of throwing away a half-filled container of anything.

But that isn’t all. I’m blushing as I admit this but I use my Kuerig cup twice. And it isn’t only because of landfill guilt. The second cup isn’t really that bad if you only make a half cup.

“When we were kids, we only took baths,” one of my friends said as we turned the corner towards home.

“Us, too,” the other said. “And we often shared the bath water.”

“Same!” I said. “And we only had one bathroom for the five of us. When we got to be teenagers, we didn’t share, but you’d have to wait your turn outside the door.”

My friends said their growing up had been equally fraught with bathroom depravation.

 

“My sister used to take the longest baths in the history of the world,” one said. “God forbid if you needed to pee while she was in there.”

“My brother was in ROTC in college. He used to practice his Marching Orders while he was in the tub,” I said. “Hupt Two, Three. Hupt Two Three.”

“My kids shared a bathroom when they were growing up,” one of the women said.

“So did mine,” I said. “We never thought about each bedroom having its own bathroom until we moved to California.”

We all tried to picture our grandkids sharing one bathroom with their whole family. We couldn’t do it.

As I walked back to my house I thought about how refreshing our conversation had been. For over a year, we’d only talked about our fears for the world and ways we could help preserve the democracy we’d grown up with. Or about aging babyboomer problems we or our friends were having. For an hour, we hadn’t uttered one serious word.

Don’t Count Me Out: I’m not going down that path

Who thought at 72 I would still be asking myself: “Who am I?” This is not the first time I’ve asked myself that. Maybe the 100th? But I thought by now I’d know.

Last spring I still thought I was 50. Well, maybe 60. I was in great shape — walking five miles a day, doing yoga, working out — and also very productive — writing several chapters for my book, my blog and short stories. I was marching in protests, keeping up with my kids and grandkids, doing it all.

I’ve always liked to do it all–it might be my manic. Sometimes I have trouble sleeping because it seems like a waste of time. I do think our age group had this thrust on us. As the vanguard of the babyboomers, we “girls” couldn’t just be a pretty face. We had to be that, but also be athletic, get straight A’s and have meaningful professions–as well as becoming perfect wives and mothers.

Then last spring I got a bad virus that might have come to me via Brazil. At first I joked about it. I even wrote a humorous blog about all the medications I was taking from the East and West medical experts. Well, I did refuse the antibiotic — Heck, I was no senior citizen who had to jump to that extreme!

As the summer wore on, I felt worse and then better. Then worse and then worser. I did have a chest X-ray, but it was Fourth of July and the doctors were on vacation so no one read it. My cough took over the situation until I felt just like this car below. I’d been a cute model in my time, but now I held together by duct tape.

I was finally diagnosed with walking pneumonia. They should have told me I had go-to-bed pneumonia ‘cuz instead, I just kept walking around doing my normal stuff. That’s when being 70 caught up with me. Turned out I have COPD that was being exacerbated by the bug and the pneumonia. My lungs and bronchials are permanently damaged, which explains why I get so tired when others don’t. It’s taken months to get back enough energy to create a normal life; and it’s a new normal, at that.

That became jeopardized last week when I got sick with a respiratory bug. I felt like I was the star of “Groundhog’s Day”, repeating the same symptoms as six months before: fever, sore throat, cough, swollen glands, nasal and ear congestion. A year ago, I’d have said I had a head cold, but this time I saw the doctor and was on a Z pack within two days. And I’ve added an inhaler into the mix. Plus I’m eating a healthy diet: eliminating gluten and dairy and most sugars.

I started lying around all day, like the older person I am. Especially because of all the articles about people dying from the flu. And my friends advising me not to take this illness lighting. And because the doctor told me to lay low. And my husband telling me to please not exert myself. Actually, I had so many well intentioned warnings that I started getting short of breath just from anxiety. I was a nervous wreck!

Yesterday I realized I’m beginning to think of myself as an invalid. I ventured out to do yoga and walk a half a mile. What’s going to happen, I wondered with trepidation. I came home and pampered myself, making sure I took my medications, rested, and checked in the mirror often to see how ashen my face looked. It was when I woke from my nap that I began to question: Who am I?

One thing I can tell you, the answer is not going to be invalid. When the going gets tough, the tough get going! I like cliches that are helpful.