Living in Paradise

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Should I Keep Writing?

If a tree falls in the forest and there is no one around, does it make a sound? An age-old question. Similarly, if you write a book and only a handful of people read it, are you wasting your time?

The question surfaces every time I think about starting my next new book. I am still awaiting the publication of Under the Sand, my latest mystery/thriller. But already my mind is swirling with ideas for the next one—two, actually.

Several things have prompted my ruminations about writing on this beautiful May day.

First is my ongoing struggle to try to figure out if my writing is any good. People tell me it is. They say they like my books. I work hard to make my mysteries enjoyable, with unusual plot twists. Then I read something—a best-seller perhaps—and wish I could write descriptive phrases like that. Where the Crawdads Sing is beautiful prose and a mystery. It doesn’t get any better.

Sometimes, however, (and I’m kind of embarrassed to write this), I read something and think, hey, my books are better than this. I actually had that thought when I breezed through Scott Turow’s latest book, Suspect, a couple of summers ago. It was in preparation for his visit to our little island as a library speaker. I was excited to meet and have a lively discussion with a well-respected author. It didn’t exactly work out that way, but he was a nice guy and, obviously, talented. Still, that particular book was a disappointment.

A week or so after I read Suspect, I picked up Blood Oath by crime writer Linda Fairstein, who I have been fortunate to meet and get to know over the last couple of years. I had to share my opinion with Linda, who thanked me for my kind words but who, rightly, didn’t respond to my criticism of Mr. Turow’s novel.

I’m not saying that Scott Turow shouldn’t be a best-selling author. I’m still a big fan of Presumed Innocent. He is someone to be admired and emulated, if possible. It’s just that some books are better than others.

My next thought about writing was prompted by something someone posted recently on Facebook. Several people, in fact. It was a chilling set of numbers.

Here’s some of what it said:

  1. Eighty percent of US families did not buy or read a book in the last year.
  2. Seventy percent of US adults have not been in a bookstore in the last five years.
  3. Forty-two percent of college grads never read another book after college.
  4. Thirty-three percent of high school grads never read another book the rest of their lives.

What is the source of this information, one of the Facebook respondents asked? No one seemed to know. Maybe the data was made up, but it certainly gave me pause. Is all my work for nothing?

The final concern I have about writing is the publication process. Sure, you can self-publish as I have done and spend thousands of dollars trying to get your book noticed . . . and perhaps picked up by an agent or some influencer who can boost your sales by thousands.

Maybe your local bookstore will sell your books, displaying them somewhere among the hundreds of other books that no one buys. Like mine, which are on a bottom shelf of a delightful little shop that seems to think that Liz Chaney’s tome is more valid than my fiction. She’s on the “big” table.

So while I raise the question, I guess I already know the answer. Writing isn’t about selling necessarily, it’s about the beauty of the process and being creative. And if only a handful read what I write, then so be it.

If you haven’t picked up Leslie’s Voice, my first and still one of my favorite novels, it will be available on Kindle for 99 cents beginning on June 9. Kirkus Reviews is publishing an interview about me by writer Donald Liebenson and the book on June 17. Let’s hope I didn’t say anything to embarrass myself.

The Pain of Scalloped Potatoes

I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m too old to fix scalloped potatoes and here’s why.

I had been excited to prepare that special dish—and trust me it is special if for nothing more than the time it takes—for the eight people I was having for dinner last week. When I learned that one of my guests was lactose-intolerant, the idea of fixing the potatoes, without cheese and sour cream, became even more intriguing.

I do love a challenge, which is why I am continuing to try to find an agent or publisher for my new mystery/thriller Under the Sand, even though I’m not having much luck. But I digress.

I searched the Internet and found numerous recipes that called for fake cheese this and faux cheese that and sounded quite unpleasant. Real cheese can cover up a multitude of cooking sins. But the cardboard stuff that tries to pass for the real thing is a waste of money and an affront to one’s tastebuds.

How happy I was when I discovered a recipe that was super simple and relied heavily on good-old chicken stock, butter, and onions for flavor. My friend Katie often makes a “potato bake” that incorporates all that yumminess without so much as a hint of cheese. Game on, I decided.

The recipe called for twelve potatoes. I reasoned that if I could prepare them the day before and put them in cold water, I could save time and energy the day of the event. I started by peeling with a gadget and moved quickly to a small knife. When was the last time I performed this simple task? I must have been younger and filled with youthful energy.

Half way through the bag of potatoes, I had to sit down. My back and legs were hurting; my wrist was starting to ache. Damn. How hard can it be to peel a dozen potatoes? Evidently more difficult than I remembered. My man stood in for me on the final three.

The recipe called for thin slices. After I finished cutting them with my sharpest knife I had and nicking my fingertip in the process (the wound healed quickly), I put the potatoes in my largest bowl, covered them with water, and prayed that they wouldn’t turn black in the refrigerator overnight.

In theory, the make-ahead scalloped potatoes worked like a charm. All I had to do the next morning was make the sauce, cover the thin slices with the mixture, and stick the glass casserole pan in the fridge until I was ready to pop it in the oven. To be on the safe side, I removed the dish from the coolness for forty-five minutes so it could attain room temperature before sticking the potatoes in the oven for fifty minutes.

This was a new oven, and I had been warned by my neighbor that it wasn’t the hottest kid on the block. I went for an hour and fifteen minutes and could have used another half-an-hour of cooking time. Even better, I should have considered parboiling the potatoes.

All my guests dutifully ate them; everyone but me, that is. I couldn’t get passed the crunchiness and was too pissed to waste calories on the little buggers.

It took almost a week for my fingers and wrist to recover from the peeling and chopping. I was contemplating a visit to the doctor’s office when the pain finally subsided. I suppose you can get temporary carpal tunnel from preparing scalloped potatoes. What else could it have been?

I revisited this painful experience as I finally bit the bullet and sent the potatoes on their merry way down the garbage disposal this morning. At least they didn’t mold after sitting in the fridge for four days.

Lesson learned. When you come to my house for dinner just know that if I serve scalloped potatoes someone else will have made them.

The Case of the Missing Pork Chops

We had our neighbors over—six of them—for dinner last night. They are all new to us and great fun. We wanted the evening to be special and started planning three days out for the event.

It was, we decided, worth the 90-minute trip to our favorite island grocery store to pick up Smitty’s famous pork chops for this group. Nothing is better than the chops from Hudson’s grocery in Boca Grande, smothered in olive oil and lightly seasoned with Smitty’s homemade rub.

We even did a trial run to make sure that my man didn’t overcook the chops. There was little chance of that. He learned how to grill in South Africa where cooking outside seems to be an art form. Occasionally he messes up, but not often. Still, this time he wanted to make sure there were no mistakes, which meant having pork chops twice in one week.

For my part, I decided to make some lactose-fee dishes in deference to our very sweet neighbor who has problems with her stomach. She wanted no fuss made on her behalf. Still, I searched the Internet and found what looked to be an easy and delicious recipe for milk-free escalloped potatoes. Indiana green beans, cooked for hours in a Dutch oven with bacon and onions, was another component of our perfect dinner. I also put together a broccoli, red onion, raisin and bacon salad to round out the meal. There can never be too much bacon on the menu.

We gathered for cocktails at 6:00 and by 7:15 the dinner was ready—or so I thought. The potatoes had been in my new, never-before-used oven for 90 minutes. They were bubbly and smelled delicious. The aroma of grilling pork chops was enough to make every other neighbors’ mouths water, along with the wildlife that lives in the adjoining wetlands.

My man dished up the pork chops and entered the kitchen with a flourish. I had set out the other dishes and moved to unwrap the meat, which was cradled in a large aluminum packet. I opened it carefully and gazed lovingly at the five perfectly done pork chops. Five? I did a doubletake and counted them again. Where were the other three that my man had cooked?

I called him quickly to my side. “Where are the other chops?”

His eyes widened and he rushed to the grill, returning to the kitchen with a shocked look on his face. The chops were missing in action.

I checked the foil again and was forced to share my findings with our guests, who by now were wondering why their hosts seemed flustered. There was only one thing to do—cut the inch-thick pork chops in half. Everyone said they were fine with that. Most confessed they couldn’t eat a whole pork chop, especially one so large.

Okay, so maybe this isn’t so bad I thought to myself. I dished up my plate of goodies and sat down. The potatoes looked lovely so I tried them first. Crunch. Crunch. They were only a few steps from raw. Everyone ate them except for me. That’s the kind of people our new neighbors are.

Even though the meal seemed to go well, the mystery of the missing pork chops lingered. Soon a search party had been launched. Was it the neighborhood coyote or Sand Hill Crane who had learned to lift the grill lid and snatch the morsels? We all had to know why those chops had gone on the lam.

After a few minutes, my immediate neighbor found the first one in the bushes next to the grill. Two others followed quickly. We all shook our heads and laughed. Thank heavens, all memories of the crunchy potatoes had faded.

Everyone left, thanking us for a memorable evening that would always include the mystery of the missing pork chops. But, in truth, the dilemma was not yet resolved. We finally guessed that in the flourish of the evening, with one or two whiskeys under his belt, my man had scooped up the chops and not even noticed when three slid off the plate onto the ground.

I for one have figured out how to prevent this problem in the future. I’m calling my favorite caterer, J.T, who has already assured me he will drive to Sarasota to give us a hand. Heaven knows, we need it.

Leave And Take Your Whining With You

It was another column in The Daily Beast from a whiny individual—someone I’ve never heard of who claims to have multifaceted talents as an actor, comedian, and writer. In other words, a so-called “famous” individual who thinks we care about what he has to say. In this case, his column was about leaving the country even if Trump doesn’t win the election in the fall because it’s such an awful place.

My response to anyone who utters those words is: “Don’t let the door hit your backside on the way out.”

I can think of several places that he might want to move. My man’s sister lives in South Africa. Beautiful country. Amazing animals. Intriguing cultures. Of course, she only has electricity half of the day, and I don’t think that includes the evening hours. We sent her some money so she could buy a generator-like device to keep the refrigerator and a TV on. At 83, she shouldn’t have to worry about such things.

Luckily, she lives in a gated community because the threat of crime in this beautiful country is omnipresent. When you are as poor as some communities are in Africa—despite their vast and oft-exploited minerals—you have nothing to lose by taking from others.

Before we start off on how the colonists ruined Africa back in the day, let’s talk about how the current demand for materials for batteries and the push for electric vehicles are exploiting the country far beyond anything in the past, except, of course, for slavery.

While you are driving through the Congo in your new EV perhaps you can use your battery-powered cell phone to take videos of the poor people working for the Kamoto Copper Company there. You complained about health care costs in the U. S., student debt, a lack of daycare for working mothers, a failing education system. The mine worker in the Congo isn’t burdened with those issues. He’s wondering where his next drink of water is coming from.

Oh, and there’s the 60 percent unemployment rate in South Africa. You may have to line up for bread.

Perhaps you would prefer China. They get things done there at a rapid pace. Well, maybe because the alternatives aren’t so great. And, also, because they have the enslaved Uyghurs at their command. Russia? You speak out, you die it seems. South America? Ay caramba. If it is so great, why are all those millions of folks walking thousands of miles and giving their life savings to Cartel members to get into the U. S.?

So back to this author’s premise in which he decries the famous remarks by President John F. Kennedy: “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country?”

The whiny columnist writes: “Above all, I’m asking this: What can my country do for me?”

I have an answer and it’s a good one. I suggest mister multitalented actor/writer with three names that your country can update your passport and visas and send you on your merry way. If you don’t want to be part of the solutions to this country’s problems and don’t feel you can be bothered to work to make this a better place for everyone (without handouts), then leave, definitely leave. Tomorrow would be fine.

Conversations With My Body

I notice that as I have gotten older, my body has become very vocal.

My bladder and I, especially, carry on nightly discussions. They go something like this:

Bladder: “Wake up, wake up, wake up!”

Me: “What?”

Bladder: “You heard me. Get up. Dangle your feet over the edge of the bed and head for the bathroom.”

Me: “Are you kidding? I just went to the bathroom about three hours ago. You can wait. I’m going back to sleep.”

Bladder: “Right, you may think you are going back to sleep, but I have other plans for you. I’m just gonna exert a little more pressure, and you’ll understand what I mean.”

Me: “Okay, okay. But this is the last time tonight. I stopped drinking water about 5 o’clock, so there is no reason for you to complain.”

Bladder: “We’ll see. Just remember who is in control here. And it’s not you.”

Next is the conversation with Mr. Pain.

Me: Why is my thumb so sore?

Mr. Pain: “I thought you might enjoy a visit from me. Takes your mind off of this awful Netflix movie you are watching.”

Me: “But what did I do to my thumb?”

Mr. Pain: “You helped move furniture today at the church sale. You silly woman. You keep thinking you are in your twenties.”

Me: “It was just a couple of paintings and maybe a chair or two.”

Mr. Pain: “Exactly. When was the last time you moved anything except your phone from one location to the other.”

Me: “Very funny.”

Mr. Pain: “You think that’s humorous. Tomorrow, I’m focusing in on your jaw … a little touch of TMJ to remind you that even though you are old you can still be stressed. Your neck is scheduled for later this week. A little payback for sleeping with three pillows.”

Me: “You are aptly named.”

Teeth: “You didn’t floss, water pick, and brush today. You only brushed, which is why I am giving you a twinge in that back molar.”

Me: “Come on. If I paid any more attention to you, you would probably fall out.”

Teeth: “Listen, I’m going to do that anyway. And all those old fillings and crowns. I’m gonna make sure you get to replace them. Just for fun.”

Me: “Fine by me. I’m going to eat some popcorn. Take that!”

Hmm. I hear my stomach gurgling. It feels gassy. I guess we won’t go there. The conversations continue. Read more

The Great Zepbound Shortage

About ten days ago, shortly after I started the Eli Lilly drug Zepbound to help me lose weight, I got an email from a friend.

“I have been waiting 2 weeks for my Zepbound from CVS. They have ordered it but it’s not in yet. I got on a Facebook Zepbound group and all diet shots are behind. They can’t fill the orders because so many people are taking it. I was supposed to give myself a shot yesterday and it could be a month before I get my rx.”

As a longtime Lilly shareholder, talk of high demand was good news. It wasn’t too long ago that my stockbroker had urged me to hold onto my Lilly stock amid the news that they are building a new structure in Indianapolis to boost manufacturing because of demand.

As a new Zepbound user, the lack of supply made me shudder.

My next shot is due this Thursday and both Walgreen’s and CVS have said they are out of the drug and have a long waiting list. Walgreen’s already has my prescription. CVS essentially told me not to think about transferring my Zepbound order to them. They weren’t going to be able to help me, but they were nice about it.

A quick call to my other friend who is also on the drug revealed some other interesting information. She was able to pick up her last prescription from CVS, but they wanted to know how she was going to pay for it. “Cash,” she told them and that seemed to do the trick. We weren’t sure why that made a difference, but now she is thinking she should try to double up her order the next time.

That’s how it begins. Not hoarding food but clinging to our weight-loss drug supply.

Being the kind and sharing soul that she is, she offered to give me one of her pens filled with the miracle elixir. I declined, telling her to hang onto it for herself, I very much appreciated the sentiment.

I’ve lost seven pounds so far. Not the huge amounts that some people talk about—five pounds in the first week, they say. Maybe it’s because I’m not about to give up eating altogether or drop to one meal a day. Except for some acid reflux, which I tend to have anyway, I haven’t suffered any side effects.

The big question is what will happen when Thursday comes and goes without the injection? Will thoughts of chocolate cake and giant cheeseburgers overwhelm my already pathetic willpower? With cravings, anything is possible.

A visit to the Lilly Zepbound website gave me no indication that there was trouble in weight-loss paradise. Or any sign that shortages were being addressed. I have a friend who used to work at Lilly. I think it’s time I call her and got the skinny, so to speak, on what’s happening. Why is the company falling so far behind in meeting demand? Zepbound isn’t for diabetes, it’s specifically for weight loss so I don’t understand the issue.

Crank up the overtime, Lilly. There are a lot of us fatties–and shareholders–out there waiting and hungry for your miracle drug.

Lessons From a Book Signing

Let me take a moment to thank the six people and the bookstore owner who showed up at my “book signing” yesterday. We had a good time, and I’m grateful for the support they gave me and my new, as yet unpublished mystery/thriller, Under the Sand.

The reason my new book is not yet published is because a learned acquaintance, who is a best-selling author, suggested I get an agent. The result has been a forced march through underrepresented voices hell, but that’s a story for another time.

To test the market, I had two hundred copies of my book printed for sale on the little island I have called home for the last ten years. I moved to Sarasota recently, but almost everyone I know and have counted as friends still reside on the island. I see them often and will in the future—although not so much yesterday.

I had anticipated a poor showing but hoped I would be wrong. After all, it was Good Friday afternoon and lots of people are on holiday. But, even so, as the day progressed, I couldn’t help but wonder why more of the hundreds of people I know hadn’t bothered to show up just to say hi and have a cookie with no purchase required?

I had advertised my new book and the upcoming meet the author event in the weekly newspaper—a full page ad. I had already heard from several people who bought Under the Sand at the island beauty parlor. Fourteen others had also purchased it at the bookstore before the event. My deeply felt thanks goes out to all of them.

However, there were none of the artists whose works I have diligently purchased over the last twenty years or for whom I have volunteered to serve goodies at their opening night events. And what about the thirty or so people who have listened to my presentations—which take weeks to prepare—for our mystery readers book club? MIA. I hope they weren’t done in, and I missed their obituaries.

There were no familiar faces from the church, unless you count my three dear friends who showed up; one even brought her family and bought two copies of one of my other books, Scavenger Tides Scavenger Tides by Susan Hanafee on BookBaby. Some of my fellow congregants had already purchased the book, but to the others I say, next time you want to bend my ear don’t bother saying that you “missed me in church.” I missed you at my book event.

The Realtors, whose offices are fifty steps from the bookstore, have made a lot of money off of me and my man the last couple of decades.  But no support from them or the people at the library or who I have entertained at my dinner table on many occasions or for whom I have written articles for the island’s weekly newspaper.

We’re all busy now, aren’t we? One woman who showed up had already read and favorably reviewed my book and put the event on her calendar “just because.” That’s a friend.

I’m a big girl. I can handle disappointment, but the event was a good reminder of a lesson I learned from raising three children. You can spend your life doing things to please others and make them feel good, but you shouldn’t expect anything in return. More likely than not you won’t receive it.

I’m going to conduct myself in the future with that piece of information in the back of my mind. Even more important, I am going to celebrate the six people and others like them in my life who day-in and day-out demonstrate what real friendship is all about.

Bring On The Krispy Kremes

I remember where I was when I ate my first Krispy Kreme donut.

My teenage son brought a box home from the new bakery on 86th Street in Indianapolis and put them on the kitchen counter. They were warm. Fresh out of the oven, he said. I was skeptical until I put one in my mouth. It melted into a delicious combination of sugar, fat, and flour. Literally, it disintegrated before I could sink my teeth into it.

“This is unbelievable,” I said, and, so, began my love-affair with the amazing glazed donut.

I used to love passing the flashing neon sign outside the Krispy Kreme shop announcing that donuts were in the oven. My mouth would water.

Those were also the days when CNBC would regularly get boxes from the CEO when he appeared on the morning business show Squawk Box. Things were hopping, and it seemed that Americans couldn’t get enough of the deliciousness.

Fast forward to today. Gosh, has it been twenty years? The bakery on 86th closed down long ago. You could find Krispy Kreme in convenience stores and the occasional grocery but, otherwise, they seemed to disappear. Maybe I wasn’t paying attention, or I was on one of my perennial diets.

This morning, my man was reading The Wall Street Journal to me—as he likes to do way too often—when he landed on an article about Krispy Kreme donuts being sold at McDonald’s. He had me from the word “Krispy.”

“Under a partnership announced Tuesday, Krispy Kreme will deliver three versions of its donuts—glazed, chocolate iced with sprinkles, and chocolate iced with a cream filling—to McDonald’s locations each morning. Customers can buy the donuts individually or in a box of six,” the article said.

My “salivary glands,” as my man says, were in full action. My stomach growled.

I know that as we age, we are supposed to watch what we eat. Sugar is a no-no. Butter goes in and out of favor, as does cream. Flour is okay, I guess as long as it isn’t white or you aren’t allergic to it. Chocolate seems to have withstood all assaults. Eggs are back on the good list. There are eggs in donuts aren’t there?

Actually, I know that Krispy Kreme donuts can’t be too bad for me, because I remember reading that Sting requests them in his dressing room before or after a concert. I can’t recall which. All I know is that if he can eat Krispy Kreme donuts and look as good as he does at his age, then I should be fine.

Forget the sprinkles but bring on the glazed and crème-filled now!

Let’s Stop With The ‘Full Stop’

Full stop may be the English language’s most annoying term these days.

For centuries, a period at the end of the sentence or the dropping of one’s voice has signaled the same thing: the thought ends here. It’s over. But today, many seem inclined to toss in the term “full stop” at the conclusion of a sentence. As though the listener didn’t quite understand what he or she was saying. I’m even seeing the term in print.

If the two words are supposed to be for emphasis, it might be more appropriate to say: “If you didn’t get my meaning, let me restate it … this nonsense has to end now.”

Imagine Shakespeare writing: “To be or not to be. That is the question. Full stop.”

I’m trying to remember the first time I heard the term. I think it was within the last two years that I noticed a dear friend—a Brit—had a particular fondness for it. It was quaint; part of his personality. Now that it has exploded in popularity, I am definitely over it. (Another one of those sloppy terms that creeps into the English language.)

When I looked up the term “full stop” on the Internet, it showed me a picture of a large period. Exactly, I thought. And then I remembered a time when people would say “period” at the end of a sentence. I suppose that was the precursor to “full stop.”

I can still hear my fathering growling: “You are not going to that party. Period.” I didn’t need to hear the word “period” to know that the discussion was over.

The search engine Bing explains that “full stop” is sort of a younger cousin to “at the end of the day,” which began as a Britishism—to the annoyance of many in the UK—and, of course, is now common here.”

If the British were irritated, they should have done away with the term before it had a chance to travel across the pond to the U. S.

I say let’s stop with the “full stop” and move onto tackling the current propensity to misuse the pronoun I. I’m not talking about anything having to do with gender, but the phrase “you and I.” When the I follows a conjunction, such as “with,” it is supposed to be “me.” As in, “Are you going to town with Mary and me.” Not, Mary and I.

I know it’s not easy, but I think we should all try to get this one small thing right. Or should I say, correct? Then maybe we can move on to “have went.”

Hurtful Words Linger

It’s the little things that people say to you that linger. Sometimes forever.

Recently, I found my man in the closet staring at a row of long-sleeve shirts as though he wasn’t sure what to wear.

“Got a problem?” I asked.

“I haven’t worn that blue and white shirt for at least a year. Every time I think about putting it on, I remember what Jerry said to me about it … that it looks like the top to my pajamas.”

“Ridiculous,” I responded. “He was probably joking. I’m sure he doesn’t remember saying that. Don’t let that off-hand comment keep you from wearing that expensive Brooks Brothers shirt I bought for you.”

He nodded and chose something else.

Over the years, I have fallen victim to the remarks people toss off and then promptly forget. They are often innocent enough but can have a devastating effect.

Back in the late 1960s, I was in Florida interviewing baseball players in spring training for The Indianapolis Star. The sports editor thought it would be “fun” to have a woman writing about sports. (That’s another story.)

Pete Rose was young and cocky and making a positive name for himself as a hitter for the Cincinnati Reds. I was wearing a short-sleeve green top and firing what I thought were snappy questions his direction when he said: “You’ve got big arms for such a little girl.”

Big arms! I was in my early 20s and weighed about 115 pounds and Pete Rose was denigrating a part of my body to which I had never given a second thought. I managed to finish the interview, thank him for his time, and head back to my hotel room … all the time thinking about the size of my arms.

It was the last day I wore anything sleeveless. Decades have past and you still won’t catch me without my arms covered. Now I have valid reasons for keeping them hidden. It’s not like they have gotten smaller in the ensuing years.

When in 2008 I saw the commentary about Michelle Obama’s muscular arms – some positive but other’s annoyingly negative – I remembered Pete’s casual but hurtful words.

Fast forward to today and an approaching literary panel discussion at a local venue involving me, a best-selling author, and a noted historian. I’m still asking myself how I got invited to join that esteemed group. Apparently, others wonder as well.

“I have advance copies of my new book,” I texted. “Can I bring them to sell?”

“I think not,” was the reply.

Countless authors have spoken at this venue and had their books available for purchase. The “I think not” was a stringing rebuke of my literary efforts and the twelve months I put into making Under the Sand something readers might enjoy. Suck it up and move on, I told myself. But the words linger.

Maybe I should stop thinking about what was said and focus on getting my arms in shape. Or better still, I’ll work on not caring about what thoughtless words sometimes come out of other people’s mouths and watch what I say, as well.