Some days I really miss the silliness of Mama E and her Pips.
(Cheech and Chong got nuttin’ on these mustaches!)
Funny. Every time I send a text message or email to my beloved saying something profound like; ‘Hey baby…taking a break from wacking…where you be?’ or; ‘Vibing so bad from 3 hours of wacking…pick up some munchies?’ … auto-spell kicks in and turns wacking into ‘whacky’ or ‘walking’ or ‘waking’…when I just wanna say WACKING. It makes me even more WACKED OUT than I already am.
Now to be perfectly clear (as some perfectly murky politicians might say), to be whacked-out is similar (take definition #1 below for example), but certainly not the same. As defined by Merriam Webster;
I can’t help myself. A flashy holiday rolls around and I feel this need to dress up my farm tribe and make photographs. How silly is that?
(rhetorical question…don’t bother asking the animals)
I have to wonder…in my middle-aged life…am I just now getting in touch with the inner childhood I missed out on growing up as a tomboy climbing trees…when I could have been outfitting Barbie dolls?
(no regrets…and again…don’t ask the animals)
I learned recently, there was a scientific study that determined dogs have no self-awareness with regard to how they look. I could have spared the expense of that study and offered the same conclusions (from all my farm animals), backed up by Freeka’s Funny Farm research and documentation. Lily with spaghetti drools all over her snout, the pigster with a little poo stuck to his tail, Gypsy with more brown mud on her body than natural white, Pockets with a sticky molasses nose…and they each be like…
WHY YOU LAUGHING AT ME?
I FEEL GOOD!”
(sung to James Brown tune)
However…when it comes to Christmas holiday photography, those same critters may just exhibit a little more self awareness. They’ve made it through Valentine’s Day, St Patty’s Day, Fourth of July, and Halloween, but the year is not quite complete without a few Christmas costumes and a little craziness.
I apologize to all the critters I have humiliated. Just know, in my eye you are all so fun, and yes, silly. So…what’s wrong with that? I promise never to turn y’all into Barbies.
This year I had the pleasure of humiliating someone else’s farm animals. “Whew!”… said the tribe. Took the pressure off the gang here. But as you will see, my gang did not go completely…undressed…shall I say?
Here are some favorites from here and beyond at Tucker Farm.
I’ll start with Toots and the decorating of the tree. Toots did not want to budge from the new dog bed that was taking up so much room right where I was trying to decorate our little Christmas tree. So what’s a girl to do? Yes! Decorate the dog. Well c’mon…I had to stretch out those new Christmas lights somewhere!
I know how much Elizabeth loves having photos made with her Pips, especially to share with her family and fans at Christmas time. The Pips are such troopers as photo models, all I have to do is say…SMILE! …and look what I get…
On we go to Tucker Farm. My favorite home away from home. The lady of the farm, my great friend Karen, has a good-sized tribe of rescued donkeys and goats at her barn and each year she’ll do a little Christmas slide show with her gang. I couldn’t wait to get involved. Three of my favorite horse pals live there as well, and almost living there, is another simpatico, ‘favorite-home-away-from-home’ girlfriend, Janice, who owns two of the horses.
“Hey Dart…when you stick your nose in the goodies box…well who nose what will happen next…eh? Ha Ha Ha!”
On to the donkeys and goats. It was such a highly organized Christmas shoot with a bunch of curious models just waiting their turn.
Like a Victoria’s Secret Christmas runway show, we told them.
Yup…you believe that?
It was more like…
(goats and donkeys)…”HAY…WHAT’S to EAT in that BOX?”
Check out my favorite goat, Ethel. Too bad she got stuck with my middle name.
Meanwhile…back at the Funny Farm…things were getting out of control.
D.O.G. had busted into his stocking and lookee what he found!!!
The Pips had found the calendar that will surely make them overnight Hollywood sensations…
…then squatting on my homemade holiday cards…and is that the sports section of the paper where I circled all my winning bets??? …I will forgive that pigster…if the rest of all those wonderful creatures will forgive me…
HERE’S TO A STYLISH NEW YEAR!!!
In my ‘what the heck…better late than never‘ approach to life, I decided to do a 2017 calendar. This decision came out of the blue and was inspired by a total stranger…not so long ago. I can count the days ago. OK…maybe weeks ago. Where does the time a…go?
This is the eighth calendar in my photo career. For my last calendar in 2014, I used 86 photos and such complex layouts, I nearly strangled myself with baling twine. Or was it hari-kari with a pitchfork? When it was all over and done with, after the calendars arrived and I ripped into the box from the printer…I was proud. It was the most unique calendar of mine…ever. It was funny. It was charming. I got great feedback. I was so proud and exhausted by it, I told myself I would never do another.
Yet here I am. Again.
Without further ado, let me introduce the pages of calendar-2017…The Pips.
It started off all over the map. Initially I pulled 60+ photos as prospects. It was going to be a farm calendar…then a Pips calendar…but mostly in the end… it is a Pockets calendar.
With over 240 photos in the working folder, 67 made the cut. That little ponkey rules! It’s no wonder. She is incredibly photogenic and the most willing model around. And she loves wearing hats and beads. My kinda girl.
Here’s a little synopsis of the calendar, month by month, starting with the cover….
It was Mardi Gras season and Elizabeth, (Pips owner and #1 mama), was in her hometown of New Orleans. I was jealous. It was soooo cold on the farm. No better way to warm up than have a silly shoot with The Pips and celebrate Mardi Gras right here.
The Pips were all over-and-into the costume and bead bags. Grayson was fascinated by his ponkey-girl’s accoutrements. Pockets did not want to give up her orange shades and in fact did some laps around the pasture wearing them. Let’s have a parade! Krewe of Pips. That ponkey. That pony. We had a blast. Way better than being in the French Quarter for Mardi Gras. Well almost.
When we really get a good snow it’s a hoot to watch Pockets try to keep up with all the ‘biggers’. Those short little legs of hers! Sometimes the snow is up to her belly.
What an in-between month. I had a hard time choosing the right photos. Is it still winter? Or is it spring? Can I be Irish for a day? Let’s talk. Pockets always wants to talk. And I always like to listen in. Whether it’s with Mama G or whoever else she’s yakking up. No matter how silly.
Daffodils are sprouting. Tulips too. But who cares if you are a ponkey? So long as the grass starts growing again. Then…just like the rest of us…Spring Fever sets in.
Back in the 90’s, I photographed the Kentucky Derby three years in a row, right down on the track on the home stretch. Although I have mixed feelings about horse racing in general, it was an incredibly exciting photography experience that had just as much to do with the hats and the crowds, as it did the horses. Every year on the first Saturday in May, you will find me watching the Kentucky Derby on TV. Then, this year (2016), it dawned on me. Why not have our own little derby? Pockets was thrilled. Any reason to dress up and wear a big, pink, floppy hat is fine by her.
Both Grayson and Pockets were born in June 2014, at Grayson Highlands State Park in Virginia. Great reason to party down! What a big-sticky-fun-molasses-and-carrots-mess. The Pips would love having a birthday every month of the year.
Just about every time Elizabeth comes out to visit The Pips, there’s a walk involved. It’s so pretty around here, with the New River nearby and a nice big meadow for grazing. Heck yeah!
Can you tell we are Panthers fans around here? Well at least when they’re having a good year…we are. Even though Pockets dreams of being a quarterback, I think she makes a better punter. A backasswards punter.
So much for the Great Pumpkin. Right Pockets? I don’t think she’s a believer. Otherwise, she would not be chomping Great Pumpkin offspring. Agreed?
Aside from Thanksgiving, I’ve never been a big fan of November. The leaves have fallen, the days are shorter, and winter teases. Thank you Pockets, for sharing your good attitudes and bringing joy to November. Grayson too…you funny shag carpet…you.
It’s seldom The Pips are naughty, and if they are, it’s usually my fault for leaving a gate unlatched somewhere. Mostly nice they are, and certainly full of spice. Just ask Santa. He’s stuffing their stockings with horse cookies and treats…
We have done a small run of calendars with only ‘backyard’ promotions. Heck we don’t even have an e-commerce site up. It’s a project for a few friends and fans to enjoy. If you’re interested, leave me a comment or shoot me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I’ll see if I can reserve a calendar for you. They are $15, plus $5 shipping in the US.
Happy Holidays from the tribe at Freeka’s Funny Farm!
Several days before I left for my bum-thumb-fated trip to Pennsylvania, we celebrated the Pip’s second birthday. It was sooo much fun! We invited some neighborhood friends, and kids, and parents, and a very special grandma, to join us for the festivities.
I had every intention of posting some great photos when I returned from my Fourth of July trip. It’s just that my dumb-broken-thumb got in the way. But now? I see it as a way to relive a magical afternoon. Every time I think of that afternoon, it makes me smile.
There were so many delightful photos, I had a hard time choosing. What follows, reminds me of a family album. I gotta admit…I’ve gone dizzy looking at some family albums. To the point of asking where the bathroom is…then asking for a glass of water…then…”Oops…I’m out of time…gotta run.”
I can’t help but think this family album…our Freeka’s Funny Farm family album…ROCKS! After all, it’s only once in a lifetime our beloved Pips…Grayson and Pockets…turn two!
Elizabeth and I wanted to have fun. BIG FUN. BIG KIDS KINDA FUN.
I figured we needed entertainment. Somewhere out on one of my hiking trails…it hit me. (I love how my brain works on hiking trails.)
YES! We must do…Pin-the-Tail-on-the-PONKEY!
First I sought Recluse Michel-MAN-gelo’s talent. Yup. Got him outta bed early that day…
Let the party begin!!
Dakota and Sabrina!Hittin’ up the treasure chest…Dakota and granny Allie… she’s my riding partner from down the road…she’s sixty-nine and kicks my butt on the trails with her little Paso Fino! Allie grew up with her Chincoteague pony who lived to be thirty five!I had a gut feeling the bunny ears wouldn’t last long on Pockets……whad I tell ya…
I’m not sure what kind of creature that is below. Yo…Sabrina!
I braided ten tails from baling twine so peeps could keep their tails. This was not a big hit. I found tails everywhere after the party. Sigh. Pioneer Woman…I am not.
As everyone took turns, they were spun around once wearing a blindfold, then directed toward the barn door. Slap that tail on, remove the blindfold, have a good laugh (for me especially…and apparently Dakota), then initial with chalk.
We took down the tails.
After the game, prizes were given to the kids. They were really special gifts Elizabeth had chosen from her horse collection…winner got first pick.
Sabrina and her mini-horse!There were books and cards and fun horsey things…including Elizabeth’s booklet about the Grayson Highlands ponies…See Elizabeth smiling her best ‘pony-girl’ grin…Meanwhile…the artistry continued. I was blown away by how cool the barn was looking!
Pockets inspected. “OH MY GWAD…MY BUTT IS A MESS!”
Now THAT is a HAPPY barn door…The party was rockin’……as the best carrot cake ever was served…But what about the horsies?I filled a trough with hay and had the troops sprinkle carrots on top…Suddenly there was an audience…Gypsy and Star!
They were most attentive…especially when the molasses appeared…That Star has a looong neck…I mean really loooong…We chased the barn gang out to the pasture and shut the gate. It was time for our great leaders to march in the birthday buffet!Next came Pockets and Grayson…with Grayson charming the girls as always…What a FEAST! (see the Elders patiently waiting in the pasture)Elizabeth and I took turns making birthday photos…while Grayson and Pockets munched down with total birthday abandon!…then finally the Elders were invited in…Here you see a bit of horse-heaven on earth…Did I mention it was hot? So very hot in the mountains?It sure did seem like that fan followed Dave wherever he went……I know you are wondering if Recluse Man ever got that beer open…Well…he did…After our guests left…I couldn’t find Elizabeth…But Grayson found the beer…
It was a birthday party we will always remember…even the two-year-olds. Right Grayson?OH MY GWAD. Such a poser that Pockets!And that my friends…is the end of this chapter from our family album.How I love a good Tale of Tails!
When Pockets heard it was Kentucky Derby Day this past Saturday, she went ponkers. Only a ponkey can go ponkers.
You should have heard her.
“OH MY GWAD! I MUST GO! NOWNOWNOW! IT’S KENTUCKY DUHBY DAY!!!! I WANNA WEAH A HAT! I WANNA DWINK A MINT JOOWUP! I WANNA BE A WACEHOSS!!”
It was a gorgeous, breezy, spring Saturday on the funny farm. We were all laughing hard, trying to imagine ‘Pockets the racehorse’. Elizabeth was here at her home-away-from-home to work and play with her Pips. My neighbor Suzanne, had also come over for a weekend visit. She loves to walk the Pips and is now officially ‘Mama S’. She sure earned it on Saturday.
When Pockets expressed her great Derby destination desires, we tried to explain how long a trailer ride it would be to Louisville, Kentucky.
I said, “Remember that four hour round trip trailer ride to the vet the other day? Well sextuple that.”
Pockets said, “I HATE IT WHEN YOU TALK DUHTY!”
Oh never mind.
We agreed we’d have our own Kentucky Derby Day right here on the farm. That pawky ponkey knows how to cast a spell! I love this new word I learned…
(pô′kē) adj. pawk·i·er, pawk·i·est Chiefly British. Sly and cunning, often in a humorous manner (see the pawky ponkey make her mamas swoon)
I photographed the Kentucky Derby three years in a row, back in the 90’s. I was with a group of photographers shooting for the Kentucky Derby Museum at Churchill Downs. Usually I was assigned a spot on the track near the starting gate, which meant I’d shoot the very start of the race and then the last turn before the final stretch to the finish line. It was a thrilling event to photograph, although you sure didn’t want to blow it.
The most fun of course, was spending the entire day at Churchill Downs with access to almost anywhere.
“I WANNA MINT JOOWUP!”Elizabeth tried to get her mind on other things. “Howzabout a carrot?”“NO CARROT! I WANNA MINT JOOWEP!!”Things got on the verge of ugly when Mama E ‘borrowed’ her hat and shades…After that, Pockets went off on her own in search of a mint julep…
Straighten up you PAWKY PONKEY! Let’s go to the races!
I wouldn’t dare call Pockets a mule to her face. But technically speaking, it is what she is.
Breed a male (jack) donkey, to a female (mare) horse, and you’ll get a mule.
But the way we see it around here…ya breed a donkey to a pony…ya got a ponkey.
Ponkeys are total cuteness. Ponkeys are endless entertainment. A good ponkey is short and stout, with big ears and will chase away homie-dogs and hyenas. A good ponkey always comes right over after chasing a hyena…in immediate need of a cuddle-rub-hug and a smile.
After all…fearlessness deserves reward.
A good ponkey has a smile that will make you laugh.
Yet..a couple of days ago I found myself laughing my ass off…over a naughty ponkey’s grimaces.
OH MY GWAD…here comes another episode of Trailer Loading Flunkies.
That same-sinister-black Darth Vader horse trailer that created my personal ‘Star-Wars’ last year, is back. Sitting in my pasture. Waiting for a trip down the mountain to carry Pockets-the-Ponkey to a vet.
Too bad after the trailer arrived, we told Pockets she needed to be ‘vetted’ at the end of April. Big mistake.
Instantly she retorted; I WILL NOT BE VETTED…NOT EVER-NEVER…NOT TO GWAYSON OR ANYBODY…NO VETTINGS FOR ME…GWAYSON NEVER EVEN PWOPOSED!!!!
(What a Drama Queen…I told her she was too young to be wedded…and that’s not what I meant in the first place!)
Ever since, Elizabeth has been diligently teaching Pockets how to load in the monster-trailer. They were making big strides, those two.
Then a couple of days ago when Elizabeth couldn’t make it out, I promised her I would load Pockets. My friend Janice was coming over to collaborate on a round pen session with Star. Janice and I both have three year old geldings and we had agreed to do ‘co-op’ training sessions, sharing time with our boys. It was her turn here. Our goal that day was to put a girth around Star for the very first time.
Loading Pockets afterward, sounded like a piece of carrot cake. I told Janice I would snap some photos for Elizabeth while she loaded Pockets. Easy-breezy. Nothing to it. The P-Pip had loaded already.
I must mention…Janice is light as a sparrow. Very horse savvy. And full of mischief.
She led Pockets to the trailer ramp and sat down inside.
What the hay?
The two of them talked it over…Janice said…YOU ARE STUBBORN AS A MULE!
All lickety-split that stubborn mule…I mean PONKEY…loaded!
Sheesh…I am hiding in the barn…it’s taken me so freekin’ long to publish a post.
It’s me. I’m back. The gone-forever girl.
Lotsa water under the bridge.
Lotsa poo shoveled.
Lotsa trying times.
Lotsa healing days.
Lotsa laughter and love with my tribe… and especially Recluse Man.
Dang. I could write a corny country song.
That was the end of 2015 in a nutshell. And now here it is already the second week of January.
While sweeping out the old and bringing in the new, I thought it might be a good thing to share some of my favorite funny farm photos from 2015. Little did I know how long it would take. In fact…I had to get a wrist brace to finish this post!
Holy Cow Patties…did I ever get carried away! I do believe I have Photoshop Tendonitis.
Before I begin with this indescribably hilarious and seemingly bottomless blog post…(OMG…how many photos and words did I include???)…let me announce our latest addition to the tribe…STAR!!!
That would be the very same Star-Trek-Wars-damn-horse I tried to load on the trailer for 24 days…then finally walked here…2.2 miles in 45 minutes..smooth and easy.
After a short trial period with Star and Gyps and the Pips…about one week before Christmas…my crazy boyfriend…that Recluse Man who I love…told me he wanted to buy Star as a Christmas gift for me.
HAPPY HEART POUNDING WITH GLEE!! INDESCRIBABLE JOY BEYOND WORDS!!! That’s what I was feeling when Recluse Man asked me what I thought about the idea. HEAD IN THE CLOUDS!!
Welcome to the farm…you hot-blooded-red-headed stranger..STAR!
Now for some favorite farm photos from 2015…
Grayson and Pockets had arrived two days before Christmas 2014, when their Mama Elizabeth brought them to live on the farm. They were born into feral herds in June 2014, at Grayson Highlands State Park. Three months later, Elizabeth bought them at the annual pony auction. Six months after their birth…they joined my tribe.
OK…so one is a ponkey…(half pony – half donkey). Guess who?
(hint…the one hiding her ears…)What the hay??? Gypsy had never seen such pip-squeaks before! Could it be???? Gyps & the Pips??? Move over Gladys Knight!!!Such short legs running in the snow!
Gypsy wondered if she was ready to be a soccer mom…
Will they ever grow?
She thought…they were so funny looking…But with such a sense of humor! Why Gypsy was a smash at motherhood!
Then one February day, a pot bellied pig named D.O.G. arrived…His human, Tommy, had been looking for a good home for him…
A little peanut butter bribery on a stick, and D.O.G. discovered his new home in our abandoned chicken coop…
I mean he WAGGED HIS TAIL AT ME…the very FIRST MORNING!!!!
After that…the pigster free-range grazed until I worried he’d become bigger than our house…D.O.G. considered going on a diet…(very briefly)…in order to fit through the dog door…Meanwhile…winter was still wagging around…
When the warm weather returned, Recluse Man did some spring cleaning. Much to Lily’s disgust…he tossed the TrAshe county porch couches!!! WTCOUCH???In between repairing fences, Recluse Man discussed the merits of having white hair…with his favorite hairy-white friend Pockets…As a result…she felt uplifted!!!After all…she’s a honkey-fonkey-furry-white-ponkey!!!Pockets…”OH MY GWAD…It’s tough hangin’ wif a fwend like Gwayson…”
Hey let’s not forget how cute the pigster is…all posing in front of the rhododendron…he is…By early spring, Elizabeth and I were walking Gyps and the Pips to the river and around the neighborhood. The Pips were learning about halters and lead ropes and voice commands…(theoretically)Spring on the farm!!!Spring is for the birds!! It was my first year putting suet out through the winter and beyond…Such payoffs! (ok…so I’ve never had a grackle at a feeder before)Jesse-Linguini was nearly fully recovered from her ACL surgery by spring, and was ready to run and play outside…ya think?
Jess…”gimme one more dang dog toy and Ima rip out yer persnal sqweeker…5 sekunds or less”)Then…Pockets saw her first rainbow……and fainted……what a drama queen…Elizabeth comes out every chance she gets… …while Recluse Man and I try to find a little time to ourselves……but there’s always competition…and serenading in the background…HA!Then when we finally GO somewhere…… it FREEKIN’ rains!!!Who cares??? We’ll make the most of it!Back on the farm…while I was tending to daily chores… Recluse Man was singing in the shower…and that would be the Minny Whinny shower!
D.O.G. enjoyed hanging out on our porch and gave up on the chicken coop sometime during late spring. He was fine with going up three steps to get to the porch…but he made it perfectly clear he did not like going back down the steps. It required serious bribery.
Go Toots!…the others skedaddled when they heard fireworks in the distance…something to be said about ‘hard of hearing’…how I know…right Toots?
When summer rolls around, we buy new Koi from a local high school FFA program. That’s after the freekin’ great blue herons and raccoons and kingfishers have feasted to the point of heartbreak and tears through the previous seasons.
The release of a new generation brings joy and anticipation. Yet often, we don’t see them for up to a full year after their release in our pond. Fortunately, we picked out some exhibitionists this time around…
Back to summer….
Did I mention Recluse Man’s summertime pizzas??? LOADED with love…and olives…and herbs and peppers and cheese…fresh from the garden and markets…The pigster was caught stalking…like ….’every breath you take…every move you make…Ima watchin’ you’…PIZZA…REALLY????
Occasionally the pigster would go AWOL. I freaked when he did this the first two times…but then realized it was a simple search and rescue to bring him home.
(Oh My GWAD…people poop! lemme outta here!!!)Blue continued to pursue his favorite pastime……as did his bgf…Moondust…The hummers were a daily sideshow…I made hundreds of hummer photos……and braved the rain (from under the deck roof)… I was not alone in my fascination…
Waza matter pigster….been chompin’ too many treats…’eh???Ahhh…the beauty of autumn…when the Pips run wild…(or just stand and chomp)……an occasional walk is good…Next thing ya know it’s snowing…wait…that’s not snow…ah hem…Lily…oh LILY???“It gets so cold outside….paleeze let us in????” (use the dang dog door dummies!)
…she got it…finally……meanwhile the pigster had moved inside..and tried to disguise himself among the spotty furniture…It was pointless to try and hide with a sock monkey…indeed..catastrophic……it became a funny farm…’cativity scene’…Yet I was discouraged…trying to load Star to bring him to the farm…I knew…he knew…he wasn’t going to fit in my car…After days and days of working with him…I got him to load…
…so long as no one was at the back gate…Finally after 24 days of trying to transport Star in the trailer…I decided we’d trek 2.2 miles to my farm. What a Star-Trek…one mile of which was on a fast two lane highway…this part had me freeked….until we had a perfect practice walk…I was never happier to get him on the farm in one piece…….then we all fell to pieces over his dance steps…
Star had never met a critter so poised and confident…and wanting to smell his butt…as Pockets…Let’s get on with Christmas!Too bad Mama E had to leave for her hometown of New Orleans……but of course Santa would watch over her Pips……when he wasn’t posing……or caught in the act….(What the heck…Santa…that’s my barn door!!!)I quickly forgave Santa when he gave me a horse of my own for Christmas……dats right you red-headed beauty…you are part of the tribe now!!!…shall we belly-bump Santa?Pockets was not amused…there was nothing in HER stocking…”WAAAAAH?”…dang…even the rasta pigster who doesn’t celebrate holidays that feature ham on the table…
…got something!!!…as Linguini says…”it’s all in your attitude…”…and with that…I believe the year closed on a good note…let’s ask Grayson…..better yet…lemme hug on Santa…Stay tuned for more zaniness from the funny farm in 2016…Be back soon…ya hear?
I have the best neighbors. Generally, we’re a small quiet group, but the ‘hood comes to life on holiday weekends.
One family in particular will come up occasionally, and they know they’re welcome to mosey over to visit Gyps and the Pips, or D.O.G. the pig.
They’re from suburbia, where I would imagine most folks don’t have a ponkey in the pasture, or a pig in the living room. A live one at least.
Tim is the dad, and has helped me out many times over the years with his tractor. It sure is a pretty tractor. He’s plowed my driveway…dug up earth for my garden…moved the manure pile. Nothing like a part-time neighbor with a tractor to seal a friendship. A very pretty tractor. Did I mention that?
Sometimes Suzy (mom), and the kids; Jessica and Nate, come along to walk the Pips to the river. If they’re brave enough, they’ll pet the pig. Contingent on his whereabouts. That dang pig can be a grouch behind the couch.
Suzy always packs plenty of vittles and this Thanksgiving weekend was no exception. They headed back home today and afterward, I found a bag of food tied to the barn door. Veggies galore! For D.O.G….the local compost-master!
D.O.G. had already told Suzy, “No onions.”
I told Suzy, “He’s watching his waistline…easy on the desserts.” (BIG SNORT from grouch behind the couch)