Sunday, December 30, 2007

I want to say I'm getting better, but . . .



I'm still sick. Okay, maybe I don't feel as awful as Mr. Gaul does . . .

I managed to be cheerful at work today. And not to look as bad as I feel. I just have to get through tomorrow and then I can sleep til Friday. Just get through tomorrow, just get through tomorrow, just get through tomorrow . . .

I know, Jen, you warned me about stoned blogging : ) I'm going back to bed. Happy New Year to everyone! And have a drink for me?

Thursday, December 27, 2007

It finally catches up with me


Didn't feel well all day on Christmas. Too bad because it kinda ruined things for me. And for my family.
Sore throat. Aching head. Very tired. Trying to do a puzzle with Youngest, but concentrating on little tiny details just is not what the doctor ordered.
And by the way, an apology to anyone to whom I may have sent rambling, goofy personal messages. It's the NyQuil talking. Really.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Friday, December 21, 2007

Variations on a theme

While I was writing about my silly attempt at a boudoir photo, I did a quick Google search for 'reclining nude.' My thought process on that was to find a real piece of art that looked similar to my photo (you know, rather than actually post the photo : ) Because that post screamed for a visual.

Turns out 'reclining nude' is almost as ubiquitous as 'still life with fruit.' I had literally thousands to choose from. Some were stunning. Other were, hmmmm, how to express this politely . . . just this side of porn. That's not quite right. How about, just that side of porn . . .

I'm sharing my favorites. Because I can. Because this is my blog and I can post what I like. Even when I'm being boring to everyone but myself : )


This one is a Renoir. It looks to me like he painted her without her knowledge--as though he came upon her as she was just taking a nap by the lake. Wearing nothing. Nothing but an artfully arranged scarf. That didn't cover her buttcrack. You know, a typical day in the life of an average housewife. But doesn't she have beautiful hair?






This is a Toulouse-Lautrec. I think she looks bitter and hard. And like she used to be so beautiful, but she knows her looks are starting to fade a little. And there's no way of disguising that forever. (And just so you know, naked boobs do not behave themselves like the ones in this painting!)


This Gauguin nude looks hurt and sad (and jaundiced?) Of course, I only see what's obvious in art. I don't see the subtle stuff. I see what looks like her lover in the background with another woman. I have to say, if that were me? I wouldn't be lying on the couch crying. I'd be inflicting bodily harm. That's how I roll . . .




This beautiful young thing needs to wake the hell up before she's trampled by that horse!


I am not an artist. I would never look at this pile of debris in the desert and think to myself, "Hmm, doesn't that look exactly like a naked woman posing?



Once again, I'm just not this clever. I don't see art in the everyday. I would never have looked at one of these statues and said to myself, "I know what I could do with that!"




I love the next one because she looks exactly like me. In that we're both women. And both brunettes. After that, the resemblance begins to fade a bit . . . I love that she is so comfortable just relaxing on the couch--naked, for heaven's sake!--while she's being painted. And she's classy about it. Not all pouty and bedroom eyes. Just straightforward. Honest. In control. I can't identify with that at all.




And my hands-down favorite (I love this one so much I've been using it as my profile photo.) I give you Reclining Nude:



Thank you for your indulgence : )

Another of my brilliant ideas!

The kind that just never quite work out . . .

For at least a dozen years I've wanted to have a different kind of Christmas tree. I've wanted to have a bare, deciduous tree. Flocked. So it looks like an orchard tree in the snow. Decorated very simply with white lights, crystal prisms from a chandelier, and a few subtle hints of color. And a couple little birds. Because I have a thing about birds . . . Sounds unusual and beautiful, doesn't it?

I've been outvoted by my family all these years! And really, that's odd considering that my older two kids can be very out-of-the-box thinkers.

But this is the year! Enough of my family has moved out of the house that I finally won. It was Youngest (in true mama's boy fashion) who backed me during the official vote.

A friend from work gave me two very large branches from some pruning that had been done. Mister and Number One silently scoffed while I directed them as to the most aesthetically pleasing way to join the two branches to form a "tree."

"And how are these pieces being joined together so that they'll stay?" Mister asked. Scoffingly.

"You know what?" I answered, being as easy going about this process as I could. "I don't care. Do it any way that will work. It's going to be flocked and nobody will see how the pieces are joined. Use duct tape if you have to."

"Duct tape?" Mister questioned. Scoffingly. "So, we're having a white trash Christmas this year?"

And Number One couldn't quite stifle a snicker.

"You have something to add, Son?" I inquired. Patiently. Not a hint of irritation in my voice. Or something.

"Oh no! I am not getting in the middle of this one!" He exclaimed. Scoffingly.

"You're not in the middle, Boy. You've already taken your dad's side."

Off the "tree" went to the local nursery for professional, three dimensional flocking. And the nursery flocker scoffed. Well, flock him!

The flocking turned out beautifully! All the women at the nursery loved it. The guy who did the flocking (and charged us $30 up front) swore he will never do that kind of tree again unless he charges at least $160. But I'm happy : )

When it was time to decorate, Youngest switched parties mid-stream. Along about the time he realized I'm not letting him put his Star Wars or Buzz Lightyear ornaments on my "orchard" tree, he realized his error. And started scoffing.

"You know," I teased, although he is way too old for this tactic, "Santa doesn't bring presents to boys with bad attitudes."

"Yeah," he scoffed, with a helluvalot of attitude in his voice! "well Santa isn't known for leaving presents under fruit trees either."

Damn. That boy is good with the comebacks!

Naturally, as it goes with all my best ideas, the tree does not live up to my expectations. It does not have the form of a fruit tree. Or any tree from nature. It kinda has the form of two branches. Joined. But not with duct tape, because that would have been weird.

And the photos cannot do it justice. It's much more soft and subtle in person. And it's kinda big. And in the way. And odd.

Oh well. It's my dream tree. I'm going to enjoy it. I'm going to enjoy every Charlie Brown Christmas Tree moment of it : )



Thursday, December 20, 2007

Judgement (every) Day

[My apologies about the spacing issues I've been having. Makes the posts difficult to read, but I can't seem to fix it . . . ]
"Joe Brown. You should have one prescription ready for me."
Smiling and cheerful: "Okay, Mr. Brown, I have a note telling me that your insurance says it's too early to refill your Cymbalta and they won't cover it for 3 more days."
Stop rolling your effing eyes at me, Brown. As though I am personally to blame for your insurance company's decision. Asshat.
_________
"I'm here for pick up prescription. My husban, Hector Garcia."
Smiling and cheerful. And enunciating carefully: "There's a $56 co-pay for Mr. Garcia's medication today."
"I don' understan? I never have to pay before."
I have the deepest respect for anyone who packs up, settles in a different country and attempts to conduct their new life in a foreign language. But Mrs. Garcia, I don't want to try to explain "in the doughnut hole" (a concept I barely understand myself) in a language you don't have a full grasp of. Why isn't Pharmacist Greg bailing me out here? I guess he dreads this sort of explanation too . . .
_________
"John Stevens. Hydrocodone."
I remember you John. From junior high. From high school. You don't have to tell me your name. You look exactly the same as you did 25 years ago. I can see in your eyes that you have no recollection of me. You were an out-of-touch druggie back then, and you're an out-of-touch druggie now. Your life has been infinitely more difficult than mine, hasn't it?
_________
"Hi there, Mrs. Poldin. Picking up for Pete today?" Okay, but seriously? That "Jean Nate" commercial from when you and I were pre-teens? The one where the woman was shown splashing that nasty ass poison all over her body after a shower? That's not really the way you apply any after bath products or perfumes! Natalie can't wait on you. Her face swells and her neck itches if she's standing--and I'm not exaggerating--within a 10 foot radius of you. Whenever you leave, we plug in our fan to dissipate your cloud of being . . .
_________
"Hi, I'm picking up today."
I remember your infallible face from the first time I saw you across the counter. But why are you talking to me as though I can recall your name from one meeting weeks ago?
"For Curtis?"
Okay, now I remember. Curtis Scott. Sorry about that. And please, stop penetrating my soul with the intense energy of your eyes. You see all my flaws, don't you?
_________
Noooooooooooo! Dammit, dammit, dammit, dammit!!!!! Everybody else saw you coming and suddenly found themselves to be unbelievably busy. And left me to wait on you. Do you know you're batshit crazy? Do you know that when you threaten to take your business to another pharmacy, everybody in the back gets on their knees and takes up the Rosary--praying that you will go elsewhere?
Dammit, dammit, dammit, dammit!!! I'll learn how to do this. They're hiring someone new in a few months and I'll catch on to the art of abandoning the new girl to the assmuppet customers!
_________
"Hello there, Mrs. Roosevelt! How are you today?"
"I'm doing just fine. I came to get my insulin."
"Mrs. Roosevelt, it looks like you've reached your maximum on your insurance for this year. I'm afriad your co-pay for the insulin is $336."
"It's how much? I can't afford that!"
"I am so sorry, Mrs. Roosevelt. The first of the year is close and then you'll be covered again . . . "
"But what am I supposed to do until the first of the year without my insulin? Die?"
Oh no, please don't cry . . . There will be some way to work this out, just hold it together until I can get a pharmacist to help you figure out something . . . Please don't cry . . .
_________
"Joshua Iverson. I just handed in my prescription 5 minutes ago. I'm not sure if it's ready yet?"
You are so, so young to be on Methadone . . . You're coming here more and more frequently, aren't you? How will this end?
_________

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

As long as we're in the 80's . . .

Let's talk about Billy Idol for a moment. Billy and Christmas.

I like Billy Idol. Always have. I liked that back during his heyday he was a welcome departure from the status quo. He was no traditional big haired rocker. He had a harder edge. But not a weird edge, a la the B52s. (Sorry to all you B52s fans : ) He was quirky and hedonistic. And all his songs (at least those that got air time) were about his passions: sex and drugs--and every other sin worth indulging in.

More recently, I adored his cameo role in The Wedding Singer. How could you not love a guy who is a good enough sport to poke a little fun at himself?

And then we have Billy Idol's Christmas CD, Happy Holidays: A Very Special Christmas Album. He sings all the Christmas standards, plus the very special song, "Christmas Love."

I don't know who wrote "Christmas Love." I've heard it a handful of times on the cable Christmas music station. All I can tell you is this: It's very Billy.

It's hard enough to adjust the sensibilities to his raunchy voice singing about peace on Earth and goodwill toward men, but the lyrics of "Christmas Love?" You just have to read them for yourself:

Have a merry Christmas
And a happy new year
Give everyone your blessin'
And spread the good cheer
The best gift you can give
Is the gift of love
It's what the whole world needs
Is what we're dreaming of
Chorus:
So light up the fire
Walk through the snow
Come and stand with me now
Under the mistletoe
We all need some Christmas love
Gonna get my Christmas love
We all need some Christmas love
Children wrap your presents
Put them underneath the tree
If everybody gives
Then everyone receives
I see your pretty face
In the Christmas light
Children are excited
Cause Santa comes tonight
Chorus
Well I see Santa's been here
There's a smile on my face
He's brought all the presents
Put them in their right place
He's probably flyin' high
Across the moon
He'll be at your chimney
Any time soon
Chorus
I'd comment more, but really? Where does one begin?
Love you, Billy, but you lost me here . . .

Monday, December 17, 2007

Which "Breakfast Club" character are you?

I am reminded of this every so often. A lyric from a song on the radio as I drove home tonight led to an idea which led to another which led to a line from a movie. And an inconvenient thought that I choose to bury as much as I can.

I love the movie The Breakfast Club. I think John Hughes got many things about high school life, personalities, insecurities and stereotypes just right. Just exactly right. Sure, there are a few imperfections in the movie, a few cliche moments. But for the most part, just exactly right.

I am "Andrew", the Emilio Estevez character. I can't think for myself. Or I just don't think for myself. Not sure which of those is closer to the truth. There are moments; bright spots along the way. But for the most part . . .

One of my favorite lines is at the very end of the film. The 5 kids recognize that they're all pigeonholed, but they know themselves better. It's the kids who know themselves better that I now understand are the enlightened ones among us. Wish I had seen that back then . . .

From the voice over:

"You see us as you want to see us... In the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. But what we found out is that each one of us is a brain... and an athlete... and a basket case... a princess... and a criminal... "

Which Breakfast Club character are you?

TMI. At least it’s fictitious, right?

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to any actual persons, living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
Wife: Hi, sweetie. I’m so glad you’re home! I need you. On your back.

Husband: Yikes!

Wife: Excuse me? Did you say yikes?

Husband: That’s not what I meant. I overdid it today and my back is really sore and tired. I want you too, but I don’t think I’m up for what you have in mind.

Wife: Did you say YIKES?

Husband: That sounded kinda bad, didn’t it?

Wife: I don’t care if you’ve just been shot! I don’t care if your mother is standing next to you! When your wife tells you she wants to have her way with you, the answer is never YIKES!

Husband: (sheepish grin) Sorry . . .

Wife: You know I’m going to blog this, right?

Husband: sigh Yes. I know.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Let's just finish that thought about the naked pictures, shall we?

"Oh, hey, I have a great idea!" I said to myself. Stupidly.

As a side note, Myself wonders why I haven't learned from all my good ideas of the past that never quite panned out the way I had hoped.

The seed having been planted, I thought it would be a grand idea to take some boudoir photos of myself as a thoughtful Christmas present for Mister. Isn't that a lovely idea? I know, I know. It's really not. We've been together for 23 years, so by this point a nekkid picture is pretty much regifting. But . . .

I learned many things from this humiliating experience. Not the least of which was how difficult it is to take "artistic" photos of oneself without benefit of a tripod or a fancy shmancy camera with a timer thingy.

Step 1: Look around the house for a good location . . . a nice backdrop, if you will. Ideally, you want a surface to gracefully recline on that isn't unmade (the bed) or covered with projects and bills (the kitchen table) or bearing the ghosts of dog crap puppy prints (the couch.)

Step 2: Spend an hour or so scrambling to tidy up the potential scenery, only to discover there are environmental issues not under your control. (Translation: there's still too much crap in the background.) Realize this is going to take forever. Give up.

Step 3: Now that you're all sweaty and out of breath from rushing around confirming that your house, nay, your life is all one tangled, strangled mess that can't be cured in the space of an hour, shed your clothes and try to look peaceful and sexy.

Step 4: Give up on "peaceful and sexy." Attempt "a little less frazzled than normal." That ought to do it.

Step 5: Good heavens--don't look in the mirror!!!!! It's hopeless, I tell you! You'll start by thinking maybe a little concealer here and there would be a good idea. Pretty soon, you're trying to wipe out every dark spot, laugh line, and stretchmark. You'll go through a whole jar of your most expensive make-up by the time you realize there isn't enough Mac in the world!

Step 6: Lounge seductively on the backdrop.

Step 7: Stop laughing at the concept of "lounge seductively." No really, stop. It's making the extra flesh ripple and roll and this does not a pretty picture make!

Step 8: Extend your arm out as far as you can with the camera while holding a smouldering pose . . . and not allowing your hair to slide off your shoulders and cover your cleavage . . . and willing your boobs to defy gravity . . .

Step 9: Snap a few photos. Make sure you're not accidentally taking video of yourself.

Step 10: Delete the video you accidentally took of yourself.

Step 11: Go to the computer and assess the damage. And now is the time to wonder why you didn't bother to shave your legs first. And why you couldn't have maybe employed enticing (and somewhat covering and supporting) lingerie. And why you at the very least didn't think of lightly touching your skin right beneath your armpits so your nipples would look all pert and firm instead of looking all . . . 40.

Step 12: Perform triage. What I meant to say was: make generous use of whatever photo editing tools you have. Be brutal with this step:
  • Crop out all the body parts that aren't pleasing. (I conveniently lost my legs, hips, butt, arms, tummy and 3/4 of my torso. And I'm still not happy with the end result . . . )
  • Use the blurring tool to soften the edges. (Looking at my finished product makes you kinda feel like visiting the eye doctor . . . )
  • Tone down the color and adjust the light levels a little if you want to lose any visible imperfections in your skin. (I toned it down and adjusted a little extra. My photo is now black and white. Well, mostly white . . . )

Voila! Now you have a grainy, almost unrecognizable likeness of "Sex Kitten Meets Motherhood."

And the final step? Wonder (you know--now, after doing all that work) what you can possibly do with this picture. Save it to a disk and take it to the photo center at Costco for them to print on 11" x 13" glossy paper? Print it yourself, frame it and hang it so all your children, family, friends and neighbors can admire it? Create a wallet print for hubby so when he's out with the boys and has a few drinks he can share it with everyone at the bar?

Yeah. Another one of my brilliantly thought out projects . . .

Photos of questionable content

Recently, a number of men have asked me for, shall we say, "revealing" photos. I get that a lot. (And by "a lot" I mean twice . . . ) I'm one of those women. (No! Not one of THOSE women! Just one of those women.) I put out that vibe. I attract that kind of attention. Could it be because I encourage it? Maybe ; )

In real life, I'm nothing to write home about. I'm of the "kinda cute" variety. But I'm happy to go with the prevailing myth that I'm somethin' wonderful.

So, for you guys who have made requests, I offer these photos. Enjoy : )





Nice breasts, no? Firm. And non enhanced--the way Nature intended:










Legs of a former athlete. A little meatier than I like. I guess a little less grazing during the holidays would help:





















I used to have a great ass. The years have not been kind . . .











And the shot y'all were hoping for:







Ripped off from Geggie. Because I love memes : )

So, dear Geggie, I never did do the 'weird things about me' meme that you tagged me for. I have already done that one a couple times and really? I'm not all that weird--am I? ; ) So I took this one straight off your blog:

The Christmas Meme

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags?
Paper. Until about 1 o'clock Christmas morning and I'm still wrapping--then it's bags, baby!

2. Real tree or Artificial?
Real. Only this year, with a twist. Maybe I'll post a photo.

3. When do you put up the tree?
Usually sometime during the week before Christmas. I like to wait until Number One comes home from school.

4. When do you take the tree down?
Epiphany.
Or MLK Day.
Or Palm Sunday . . .

5. Do you like eggnog?
The beverage that is the color and consistency of snot? Not so much.

6. Favorite gift received as a child?
Baby Go Bye-Bye (She was a doll with a car.)

7. Do you have a nativity scene?
Yes. And a pathetic little stable that the kids and I built together years ago using kindling and a glue gun.

8. Hardest person to buy for?
All the men in the family. Especially Mister who returns everything!

9. Easiest person to buy for?
Beautiful.

10. Mail or email Christmas cards?
Mail. With a personally written, non-generic note in each one. I'm funny that way.

11 .Worst Christmas gift you ever received?
I once received a toilet seat--but that wasn't the worst gift!

12 . Favorite Christmas Movie?
I love "A Christmas Story." Also "Elf" and Jim Carrey's "The Grinch" even though I was convinced I would hate it because I generally don't like him.

13 . Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?
Probably.

14. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?
Everything! Anything at Clarice's house. And I could live for weeks on my almond roca alone.

15 . Clear lights or colored on the tree?
Opposite of Geggie--clear on the tree, colored on the house.

16 . Favorite Christmas song?
O Come, O Come Emmanuel

17. Travel at Christmas or stay home?
Home--our house as well as the homes of close family.

18. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer?
This question (BTW, not putting any blame on Geggie ; ) originally asked if I could name all of Santa's "reindeer's." I was forced to edit.

And yes, I can.


19. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning?
Morning. Though I have occasionally let the kids open one on Christmas Eve--just to dissipate a little pressure so nobody explodes!

20. Most annoying thing about this time of year?
People asking, "Are you ready?"

21 . Favorite ornament theme or color?
Oooooh, I've done some fun ones. A couple years ago it was candy. Youngest and I had great fun but the candy garlands we made (using real candy) turned into a sticky, drippy mess next to the cold windows with their attendant moisture . . .

22. When do you start shopping for Christmas?
Sometime in December when I'm really, finally in the spirit.

23. What, do you want for Christmas this year?
Honestly? I want to be pampered. So selfish ; )

24. Angel or Star on top of tree?
Depends on the year and what I've done with the tree. This year will be, hmmmm, unusual . . .

25. What do/did you leave for Santa?
By the time my kids were headed to bed on Christmas Eve when they were little, I was usually still making presents so we left out whatever treats we could scrounge up from gifts people had already given us : )

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Really? Even in my dreams?

I had a dream about a vacation with my older son. We were at a lovely, rocky beach. Walking along the shore together, we kept noticing grand staircases going right down to the water that didn't seem to be connected to any of the impressive beachfront homes.

Investigating further, we realized that they were part of a sprawling old decommissioned military fort like Fort Worden.

"Oh, wow!" I turned excitedly to Number One. "These must be from WWII!"

"No, Mom," he answered glibly. "I asked around. These installations were in use during the 70's."

"Really? All the way up to the 70's?" I replied, obviously surprised at the need for such as recently as my childhood.

He looked at me with that funny, sneering little smile, "It's not like it was last weekend, ya know."

Poking fun at me even in my dreams?

Smart ass.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

So there I was, naked save for the plastic wrap and socks . . .

Did you ever start doing something that seemed like a good idea at the time, but part way in--the part where it's too late to go back--you realize you haven't planned it out well and then you're kind of stuck?

Like one day, you think it might be a grand idea to combine walking the dog with some exercise. So you strap on your rollerblades, put the dog on the leash and head out the door. And then you, with the dog trotting happily along, reach the top of the really big hill and you have the sudden realization that:
  1. During the pre-rollerblade planning, you'd forgotten about the hill.
  2. The dog has started charging on down and you're still holding her leash.
  3. You have precious few choices. And they include:
  • Keep holding onto the leash and follow the dog to your own certain and bloody death.
  • Let go of the dog, but it's still not going to stop the momentum that's already begun to build.
  • Plus, letting go of this particular dog means you won't see her again until hours later when an irritated neighbor brings her back and you have to explain the leash, the rollerblades, the hill . . . And as the words are pouring forth you sound more and more like the village idiot.

Is it just me? Anybody else had that experience? No?

I have eczema on my hands. It gets particularly bad during the dry winter. I do many things to keep it in check, but it's still hard to control. The other day, a doctor gave me the same advice I've always heard, only this time with a little twist:

In addition to using cortisone cream, layered with thick moisturizing cream, covered with cotton gloves or some such, she recommended a layer of plastic wrap over my hands before putting on the gloves (or thick cotton socks, as she advised.)

My hands hurt. I was willing to give this doctor's method a whirl.

Fresh out of the shower and ready for bed, I dutifully slathered on a thick layer of industrial strength cortisone cream, followed by a coating of moisturizer, wrapped my hands up carefully in plastic wrap, and slid on a pair of hubby's thick cotton socks over the whole sludgy mess. Imagine, if you will, how difficult that preparation was to achieve.

Walking back into our bedroom, I removed my bathrobe and allowed it to stay where it had come to rest on the floor. With my hands all trussed up like lobster claws in a restaurant tank, it was too much work to attempt to hang up the robe.

And that's when the sudden realization hit. How was I going to get my pj's on? Our room is much too cold on winter nights to sleep in the buff so I needed to figure something out. Wrapped up as I was, I had no dexterity. I didn't even have opposable thumbs.

I considered unwrapping my well-packaged hands, washing all the goo off, getting dressed and rewrapping. But the thought of putting my hands in hot, soapy water (especially having just exited a hot shower) was much too painful. I wasn't taking this mess off until morning.

I tried using my feet, my teeth and my flippers to maneuver my way into nightclothes. I had all the adroitness of a Muppet.

Still wearing nothing, I paced between the bathroom and bedroom several times. Maybe if I . . . no, that won't work. But what about . . . hmmm, that's no better.

Giving up, I walked out to the living room where sweet, long suffering Mister was sitting in his chair watching an engrossing episode of "Mythbusters." Standing there naked, except for the plastic wrap and socks, I asked for his help.

"Wha . . . But how . . . Never mind." He shook his head and told me I'm the strangest little person he's ever met. And then he helped me get dressed.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

He inherited Dad's sense of humor too . . .

Recently, when the subject arose of Beautiful's ex-fiance (Crap Weasel) Youngest had this to say:

"That guy was about as useful as sand in my pants."

Well said, Youngest : )

Monday, December 3, 2007

She gets it from her dad.

On the way to a Trans-Siberian Orchestra concert with Beautiful:

"Ooooh, Mom! I hope they play Christmas Canon!

"Oh, wait. I guess they can't unless they're like Michael Jackson and travel everywhere with a boys' choir . . . "