2020, Don’t let the door hit you on the way out!

Barclay here.

My bangs were too long and refused to be swept to the side. It was time to show them the scissors. Now in the past, this has resulted in short, uneven locks, so before chopping, I decided to consult an online expert. I found a cheerful YouTuber with a confident air and perfect, wispy bangs. Her first bit of bang-cutting wisdom? Don’t go near the scissors if you are drunk. She was quite serious about this. She said that this past year many people tried to cut their own hair during and after happy hour and the results were not pretty. Isn’t that so 2020? Cocktails have been starting earlier and earlier, bringing with them the temptation to create a new you, forgetting the small fact that you were not a rising star in cosmetology school, for the simple reason that you did not attend one.

I took the YouTuber’s sage wisdom to heart. But I still wound up with non-wispy bangs.

2020 has brought us not only uneven hair, but also a nostalgia for former days when we did not have to scurry across the street at the sight of another dog walker heading our way, or glare at that Costco shopper whose mask kept slipping below his nose as he drifted into our six feet of space. We are yearning for normalcy. We are ready to welcome 2021 to the stage and boot 2020 out the door. Here at Revisionist Retirement, we wish for you –

Family get-togethers where old gripes have dimmed because you are so appreciative of seeing each other in person and not as postage stamps on your laptop screen.

Dining and shopping inside, flashing your teeth as you smile broadly at pure strangers, sparking conversations, just pleased that your smile is visible.

Walking in the company of more than one person, side by side, not separated by the entire street and not having to yell through a mask.

Freedom from fear. Not thinking a sneeze is a straight shot to hospitalization and a ventilator.

Seeing a movie. In a theatre. With people around, munching greasy popcorn.

Attending church in person, sweating through a yoga class, gabbing with your hairdresser. Traveling to see friends and family for big turkey dinners and lazy TV watching.

And a deeper faith in your God who sees it all – the scary sneezes, the tired dogs, and the choppy bangs.

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Joy here.

On the hair note, let me add, that I’d never seen that much grey in my hair. In May when I began to see it glaring back at me, I texted my good friend, Bruce, for help. He styles and colors hair for a living and has for decades. He very sweetly came upstate, over two- and- a half hours away to rescue me from old age! Outside in the fresh air with accoutrements packed neatly, he restored my youth! Boy, was I thankful for having a colorist as a friend!

2020 also meant not seeing my family. I missed my older daughter who was in lockdown abroad. I hadn’t seen her in nine months – the longest I had ever gone without seeing her. My heart ached for a hug, a smile, a Zoom-less get together. As for my younger daughter, she was hunkered down for three months in California learning to adjust to living with her boyfriend. (If that isn’t a way to speed up a relationship or destroy it, I don’t know what is!)

The pandemic taunted us and played with our emotions. Would I get it? Would my friends or loved ones get it? How could we, who are now considered “elderly” (only chronologically!), protect ourselves from something that seemed to stymie even the most brilliant scientists and research?

Barclay and I are looking forward to 2021 which represents a light at the end of this long dark road. We anxiously await hugs upon hugs. Kisses too. Human touch. (Please don’t make hand shakes a thing of the past.) We find peace knowing that we have not gone through this alone, but have been surrounded by so many who share our state of mind. Eventually, the vaccine will be given to all who want it, whether you are next in line or 20 groups behind. There is hope that this too shall pass and enter the annals of history, as did the 1918 Spanish flu, SARS, MERS, H1N1, and Ebola.

So, good-bye 2020. We don’t love you; we only knew you for a couple of short months before you turned ugly. But thank you for reminding us to be grateful for people, family, and faith.

We wish you, our readers, our loyal followers and those who have just read us for the first time, peace, joy, good health and, of course, perfect bangs!

Enjoy the ride.

xox Barclay and Joy

A Shortage of Christmas Trees? And it’s not because of the Grinch!

I began to notice people carting away Christmas trees this year right after Thanksgiving. It was very noticeable. It was as though they were waiting for that last piece of pumpkin pie to be digested so that they could get to the tree lot.

Many people have moved up to the Hudson Valley these last few months, the part of New York state that I live in for half the year. With a change in demographics, a big bump up in population, I thought this might be a problem. I just had no idea that the trees would be virtually gone by the first weekend in December. Traditionally, I don’t put up our tree until the middle of the month, being in no rush to take the time to position the thing in the stand (always a fight waiting to happen as to whether it’s straight or not!) Then there’s the decorating, the lights, the wrapping of presents. Even though I have two grown daughters and no grand children, I take on Christmas the same way I always have. I revel in it’s traditions, I love the smell of pine when you first bring the tree into the house, the aroma of cookies baking in the oven and candles lit on the mantle.

Back to the Christmas trees. I thought about why there should be a shortage of trees so early in the season and the reason became clear. People were seeking something, anything to bring joy into their lives. The cover of Time magazine was recently entitled “The Power of JOYElevate your life. Finding Joy in Trying Times. A Spiritual Peak. If that didn’t say it all, I don’t know what did. We are social creatures, we want and need connection. We yearn to interact, to celebrate, to entertain, to be surrounded by people we care about, especially at holiday time, most especially now in this year of all years!

The buying of the Christmas trees so early was just what people needed to do and they did it early and in big numbers. Lots and farm stores told me that they were having their best year in decades! They only wished they had more trees to sell.

An article in The Wall Street Journal talked about eight foot Christmast trees in Hong Kong going for as much as $2,167 a pop. Who knew this phenomena was global! At that price, I’d go fake!

Apparently, a Christmas tree takes between 8-12 years to grow says an owner of one such farm in Oregon. He estimated that the smaller supply had increased prices by 30% over the last four years. So, it’s not in your imagination. These Christmas trees have become a luxury not all can afford.

With that in mind, after exhausting ACE Hardware and Loew’s, last ditch effort, I persuaded my very reluctant husband to go chopping with me in the Berkshires. On a beautiful Sunday, mid 50’s in temperature, incredibly mild for mid December, with saw in hand we climbed a hill and found our perfect tree. It was befitting of a Norman Rockwell scene. An experience to remember and a tree that will grace our home for the next couple of weeks until I sadly have to take it down.

Today’s Takeaway…

Be resilient. Be creative. Don’t let the economics of Christmas trees ruin your holiday.

For once, it wasn’t the Grinch who had anything to do with this scarcity. It was simply people searching early for “joy” ( I ought to know. I’ve been living with this name for a lot of years!

Enjoy the ride

xox Barclay & Joy

What is This Rainbow Bridge and Why Must Our Furry Friends Cross it?

Our family dog Colby passed away almost two years ago, but I couldn’t bring myself to write about it until now.

My dear friend and blogging partner lost her precious Kasie yesterday so as homage to all of us who have ever loved a pet (cats, dogs, guinea pigs, rabbits, …) I am moved to write.

Colby was almost 18 years old when he was put to sleep, March of 2019. He was a Schnoodle that we rescued from a Schnauzer rescue organization in NJ. Maybe, there aren’t enough Schnoodles in the New York area to rescue to warrant their own non profit!

After being interviewed as though we were adopting a child, driving from Westchester to Northern New Jersey to meet the dog in a vet’s office to be screened and vetted, and supplying references from friends and family, we were deemed worthy of Colby.

He was black in color and three years old at the time, feisty, a little shy (who wouldn’t be if they had been taken back to the pet store twice!) and slightly mistrusting. Did you know that black dogs are the hardest to place because of their color? True. Dogs are smart. They know who loves them and wants them. They size people up pretty quickly and their 6th sense is pretty darn good.

We picked him up at the Vince Lombardi gas stop right after you enter into NJ. He hopped out of the van he was brought in to say hello, spunky and curious about what was to come. He came with a stuffed dog, which we dubbed “Vince”, in honor of the place we met and where his new life began.

My older daughter was in her last year of high school at the time and my younger daughter three years her junior. Colby really became’ daughter #2’s best friend and my husband, who was by then doing a lot of work from home, his buddy too. I was working in the city and commuting so got to know Colby at a slower pace. I grew to love him as much as I had any other dog we had owned in the past (two before him, one who lived to almost 18 and the other almost 16)

As the years went by, our love grew stronger and our family bond with Colby was cemented for life. We took him on vacations, snuck him into hotel rooms where we knew he wasn’t allowed, dressed him up for Halloween, and made him chopped liver or steak for his birthday once a year.

Fast forward many years and I look back on him as our friend, consoler, therapist. confidante, and wise old soul.

Dogs provide us with enduring love, ask so little from us, and return so much. As with anything else in life, the decision to let go is very hard. It must be clear cut to you that it is time, not anyone else’s. You know your pet best.

Though he was almost blind, had evident signs of dementia, and walked very slowly, no longer interested in walks on a leash, he was not ready until that March of 2019. We were away for the winter and gave him many days of warm sunshine on those old bones rather than a winter of snow and cold. The weekend he stopped eating we knew. What “they” say is true. You know when it is time.

My husband and I brought him to our local vet wrapped in his favorite blanket. We knew in our hearts that it was time. We caressed him, kissed him, told him how much we loved him. We looked away for a split second and the shot had already been administered. Our vet was wonderful and allowed us as much time as we needed to cry. I hugged him for being the person he was, understanding completely the love a family has for a pet.

So to my dear friend, I know how much it hurts, how your heart feels ripped out, how a flood of memories keep going through your head, and how the house feels empty. You have Cody and I’m glad you do. Each dog or cat is unique and brings its own personality into the family. Cherish the time you had with Kacie. Rest in peace sweet thing.

Takeaway…

“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened”-Anatole France

Enjoy the Ride-bumps and all

x0x Barclay & Joy

The Perspective of a US Census Taker

usa flag waving on white metal pole
Photo by Element5 Digital on Pexels.com

Last fall I filled out an application to be a U.S Census taker. I was newly retired and had the time. But mainly, I felt it was my civic duty. In prior decades, I had been a Vietnam protester, a women’s lib advocate, an outspoken New Yorker born in the shadow of Columbia University and fully identifying with the SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) of the 1970s.

Now I saw a country more divided than ever, with racial tensions heightening, and unemployment surging. Could I actually make a difference  for those whom the Census affected – the underrepresented, the marginalized, the uncounted? My 1970s self applauded!

But I soon discovered that becoming a Census taker was more than hopping in my car with a clipboard in hand and patriotic zeal in my heart. 

I had to attend a training class followed by a comprehensive nine-hour module on how to be an exemplary “enumerator”. This is the first time that technology has been used in the Census. The interview process would be prompted by questions on a government issued phone with software prompting you from one screen to the next based on answers to questions. You are capturing data that will be submitted for analysis by our government. And with over 170,000 Covid related deaths, the demographic changes in our country have been profound and dollars need to be allocated in the best way possible – for senior centers, hospitals, and schools.

After completing the module and taking a quiz covering the basic material, I was deemed ready to hit the road and be in the field. And my particular field turned out to be mostly just that. I was assigned the rural countryside of Columbia County in upstate New York.

My first case on my first day showed exactly how rural my territory was. My GPS led me to a corn field where it announced with great satisfaction that I had arrived. I stared at the wide open space, my patriotic zeal a bit dampened. I soon discovered that addresses were often incorrect, that many houses had no numbers, and that there were residents of trailer parks and RVs who wanted to remain off the grid.

But I also learned that whether rural or urban, people are more alike than they are different. And everyone has a story. I am a definitive type A personality, and I relished the opportunity to learn these stories – people’s names, their ages and origin, who they live with, and how many were under the same roof. It was like being an investigator without having the background for it.

Some of the kindest, sweetest people I met were missing teeth and eating cheese doodles for dinner. In this socially distanced, Covid world, most people seemed to want to connect, to interact with another human being. I saw how many lonely people there were out there, pandemic or no pandemic.

One woman I met was just pulling  into her dusty, dirt driveway. After I identified myself, she asked if I could wait a moment while she checked on her three kids and her mom. I discovered she was in her 40s, single, and had just moved back into her childhood home. At the end of the interview, I thought she would have asked me to stay for dinner if not for Covid.  We were probably on complete opposite sides politically, but we had connected – and all while filling out Census forms!

Then there have been times when I realized I was enumerating an actual celebrity. Once I spoke to a famous movie director/producer and did not let on that I knew who he was. It was an experience I will treasure and it never would have happened had I not been wearing my U.S Census badge!

I have also encountered those who did not take kindly to a stranger approaching their home, regardless of the clearly visible credentials. Once a hostile property owner appeared out of nowhere at a multi unit complex, telling me I was soliciting and that he was going to call the police. I calmly told him I was with the U.S Census Bureau, doing my job, and to please go ahead and call them. I stood my ground. I then heard him mutter under his breath, “f ing bitch” followed by a louder pronouncement that I had three minutes to leave the property. (I took my sweet time!)

As a 2020 Census Taker, I never know what to expect when I get into my car. But that’s the joy of it!  Everyone has a story and the hours fly by. Before I know it, I have gone through 25-30 cases and completed my required interviews. I have driven past corn fields and have heard cases that would break your heart. But I have also witnessed our nation’s diversity and resiliency, as well as our need to connect, and yes, even unite.

This is my small part in being an American and, whatever good comes from getting this Census right, I know I have contributed.

The Case of the Fatigued Engagement Ring

About a month ago, I (Joy) was looking down at my hand.  This is the hand I have worn my engagement ring on for the last four decades. I did a double take.  One of the shanks holding a diamond baguette had separated from the main stone.  The ring is made of platinum, a very hard substance, atomic number 78, unreactive,  not inclined to break or crack.  I took the ring off for fear of losing the stone and put it away until it could be looked at by a jeweler. My hand felt naked.  I felt as though maybe this signified something.  Was my marriage broken?  Was this an omen?  I had worn this ring for 44 years, 42 being married and two during our engagement. This ring had seen much, felt much, and been with me on my hand reminding me of my vows, a token of affection and love, and several months of my fiancee’s salary at that time.  Who knew rings could break? If my ring could talk, what would it say?

I discovered that jewelers in my area were closed during the pandemic.  This was not a do it yourself project.  I didn’t know any gemologists, so my beautiful engagement ring had to be put away for safe keeping.

Finally, we entered into Phase 2 in the Capital Region of New York.  I found a jeweler in our little hamlet who was incredibly talented.  I walked in with my broken engagement ring and it was diagnosed as ‘fatigue.”  I had never heard this term before in relation to jewelry and I found it rather incredulous!  How could my ring be tired? All it did for 44 years was  sit on my finger. I asked nothing of it!

Apparently, rare as it  might be, especially for platinum silverish white in color, it can happen.  One of the shanks was indeed cracked and so, after an estimate of $550, I left my ring to be repaired and made new again. (The jeweler said he had never seen this happen before!)

Two weeks later and I received a call from the jeweler that my ring was repaired and looked brand new.  He told me that when he removed the shank holding one of the diamond baguettes, the other shanks disintegrated.  Perhaps, out of solidarity! Thank God it could be saved and there is a happy ending to my tale of woe. My beautiful engagement ring is now back on the finger it has always been on, shiny and new, no longer fatigued!

Today’s Takeaway

-Keep your eye on your jewelry at all times.  You never know when a piece that is dear to you is going to get “fatigued”!

-If my ring could talk, it might remind me that relationships too can become fatigued; they too may need to be polished, attended to with love, and valued beyond measure.

As always, enjoy the ride!

xox

Barclay and Joy

 

The Great Pandemic of 2020

Much has been written about this unprecedented time we are living through – scientific reports, daily briefings by governors, mayors, the President, as well as jokes and quips to make us smile.

I (Joy) can only liken this to a period in history that I never lived through. That of World War II. My parents spoke of rations, silk stocking shortages, cigarettes being hard to come by, bread lines, feelings of worthlessness, depression, real estate values plummeting. This will be our World War II, our defining moment that we will take to our graves. Our children and their children won’t forget, but at least, God willing, they will have many more years to replace this horrific time with happy memories and prosperous times. Those of us in our senior years have less time to make up our lost investments and to process our feelings of isolation, disconnection, and separation from our loved ones.

What I will take away from this is that I was fortunate to have great friends, close family members, access to the internet with Zoom, FaceTime, What’s App, Instagram, and especially a husband who has been my friend and partner through good times and bad. I will remember that as long as I have food to put on my table, good health, sufficient money in the bank, and love in my heart for God and others, I will be fine. I will do my best to hold on to these thoughts and feelings so that I never take anything for granted again and realize I can do without if I have to.

In the words of Fred Rogers, “Often when you think you’e at the end of something, you’re at the beginning of something else.” Perhaps, our new beginning will be an era of less pollution, less greed, less materialism, less hatred, less “me”.

I hope so.

 

Today’s Takeaway

-What can we do to brighten someone’s day? A card in the mail, as old school as that is, could bring a smile to the face of a nursing home resident or a widow next door.

-Turn your eyes away from cable news long enough to marvel at that robin contemplating where to nest, that perennial flower annoyed by recent April snow and insisting on bursting forth, that squirrel scurrying up the tree oblivious to a flattening curve and daily statistics. You have the time!

Stay safe!

xox Barclay and Joy

 

health workers wearing face mask
Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There’s a Shortage of Dogs!!!! Surprising outcomes of a global pandemic

We are living in a world that is more akin to an episode from “The Twilight Zone” than anything in my (Joy’s) previous umpty-ump years of life!! (Just in case anyone reading this is thinking of hiring me, I’ll continue to keep my age private!)

We have wanted to write, to speak out to you, our subscribers, but we didn’t want to  wring our hands, despair, panic, add more to your anxiety.  So here’s a good news story, courtesy of COVID-19.

An oddity of this pandemic has been a shortage of adoptable dogs! (Cats too!!)  Really!  What a wonderful problem for a shelter to experience!  You might scratch your head and say, so? What it says to me is how important socialization is to all of us.  We need to be comforted, we need to nurture, we need to love and be loved.

Bloomberg and Crain’s New York Business reported on this very curious phenomenon the last week of March. A surge of applications, as reported by “Muddy Paws Rescue” and ‘Best Friends Animal Society, as much as 10 fold the normal amount, has the shelters scrambling for adoptable and/or fosterable pets in the New York City area. It’s extended to other disease epicenters such as L.A as well.

A pet fills in the gaps when we can’t be close to other humans.  Don’t get me wrong, I adore my dog all the time.  But in times of stress, sadness, confusion, anxiety, when your furry friend looks up at you with those big eyes, be happy he or she can’t get Covid-19.  Where would you be without your furries?  In the words of James Taylor, “You’ve Got a Friend.”

Other Takeaways (so far) of a Global Pandemic

-Little Adventures Everywhere – Who knew taking a walk around the block could be so vital?  And during these walks, we find ourselves waving to perfect strangers across the street – a wave that says, “I know what you’re going through.” We are bringing jigsaw puzzles out of closets; we are resurrecting family game nights, or days; we are appreciative of hair-washing, Netflix, and video connecting.

I’ve just been invited to a cocktail party! My (Barclay’s) sister, age 80, living in rural Vermont, exclaimed.  She and her husband were going to Zoom with friends that evening at 5pm.  We are craving human contact.  And Zoom is easy enough for even Grandmas to navigate.  Our calendars are filling up with dates for online get-togethers where PJs are just fine.

When I pray, I kick worry and anxiety out of my head – Many of us  have been spending more time on our knees.  We have been rereading Psalm 91.  Hey, we have time!  And there is a TON to pray about! Praying and worry cannot coexist. So get kneeling!

We are learning to wait better and reflect more.  Amazon is no longer a few hours away.  If we want such and such, we can’t hop in the car and treat ourselves.  Life is slower. Days are seeming like weeks.  Patience and deep breathing are keys to survival. Whenever we feel sorry for ourselves, we reflect on those heroes who are driving ambulances, caring for the sick, patrolling our streets, manning our check-out lines, taking our garbage.

Churches are going beyond their four walls.  We can listen to online sermons live or at our leisure.  Those who wouldn’t think of attending an actual service, now have the means (and the time) to sit in the back pew and take it in (virtually, that is.)

The biggest takeaway sounds trite, but is true —

We ARE in this together and We Will Get Through It.

                                                                Hold On

xox Barclay and Joy

 

 

 

 

Barbarella, say it ain’t so! Women Embracing the Gray

Joy here –   I was aghast when I saw Jane Fonda present best picture of the year at the 2020 Academy Awards.  Sexy, bombshell, toned, Fonda, who had inspired millions to exercise to her 1982 Jane Fonda’s Workout, walked out and showed herself to millions of viewers with gray hair!!!

I think this trend of going gray might have started with Helen Mirren (elegance personified), culminating with Sharon Osborne, who had dyed her hair flaming red every week for 18 years!  What gives?  Are women of a certain age feeling more confident in their aging hair and skin?

Screen Shot 2020-02-19 at 10.17.42 AM

Not only did the fabulous Jane Fonda go gray, but she vowed that she was done with surgery to make her look younger.  At 82, she is remarkable by anyone’s standards.  I give her credit for speaking her mind and standing up for what she believes, still an activist in her 8th decade of life!

The guy who is responsible for both Jane and Sharon’s tresses is a top colorist by the name of Jack Martin.  Lady Clairol this is not!  The shades they both chose are truly beautiful grays, not your dingy dish  water gray that creeps up on you and says “time to go to the beauty parlor!”

I admit that I am not ready to go this route.  When I’m 80, (G-D willing) I might go gracefully into the white space. It will highlight my blue eyes, which will be cataract free by then!

 

Barclay here – I’m with Joy!

In fact, I never want to catch sight of what lies beneath!    When I sense its wire-like, springy presence, it is time to call Colette, my miracle working colorist and stylist who has become a good friend, given all the time we spend together!!

The truth is not many of us can afford the likes of Jane’s and Sharon’s colorist, who has deftly overseen their transition to the gray side.  OUR transition would likely be raccoon like, and reveal texture about as smooth as steel wool.

But I DO applaud Jane Fonda for boldly embracing the gray (smooth and perfect as it is) and encouraging us all to age with grace and gratitude.

Personally, I am grateful for her example, but I am equally grateful for Colette, whom I should probably call now.

 

Today’s Takeaway…

-You can spot them on the Red Carpet and on the streets of Naples, Florida, where I am presently.  The big lips, the pained smile, the too-arched eyebrows.  I have heard it said that, “The gods we worship write their names on our faces.”  May our faces radiate contentment and gratitude with normal sized lips and the inner beauty that comes with generosity of spirit.

-That said, let’s give thanks for make-up and hair products!

 

Enjoy the ride!

xox Barclay and Joy

 

Little Children,little problems, big children, big problems

cartoon.jpgI’m sure you’ve heard the expression, “your’e only as happy as your least happy child! I have to admit I, Joy De Santo , am a controlling person, a “helicopter mom’.  I mean well, always have, but after many many years, I’m finally beginning to get it that adult children are different.  I can’t call the guidance counselor anymore and discuss the crappy teacher my child has or complain about a bullying kid that is rude or pushy. I can’t call the mom of a child who isn’t being nice to my daughter or hasn’t invited her to their birthday party.  My ability to help is limited and most of the time, they want to work things out for themselves (as they should) Nevertheless, when it comes to boyfriends and career decisions, every once in a while mom is the only person who can help.

My younger daughter, wise beyond her years and truly an old soul in a young person’s body, gave me an admonishment the other day.  She said, “Mom, you are there to be a sounding board, nothing more.  When a daughter calls, she wants to vent, I am told.  It’s .  a knee jerk reaction-I’m upset, the world sucks, and I want to talk to my mom! Why don’t they call with good news?!!!  They call to complain, kvetch, cry, sob, lash out, and be comforted.  I listen now and try not to interrupt (a very bad life long habit!) If I am asked for an opinion or guidance (not usually the objective of the call), I’ll give it.

Little children are easy.  Their issues, while important to them, are minor in comparison to the adult child. Trying to find your life’s passion, who am I, what do I want to do with myself, how do I afford an apt on my own, convince a hiring manager to give you a chance, live with another person and come to the conclusion that this person is “the one” or not “the one” are big issues, not to be dealt with lightly.

I may be slow in coming round, but I think I get it now.  I need to listen more, speak less, and comfort with a hug, a kiss, or from a distance a note letting that person know that they are loved at all costs. Nothing that is bothering them is bothersome to me as the recipient. That’s what I am there for.

When you are a fixer, a problem solver, this new role is hard.  I can’t stop them from falling down or making mistakes, but I can be there to pick them up and wrap my arms around them (no swaddling!  Requires too much material for a grown child!)

Today’s Takeaway…

.Accept this role of mother to adult children with patience, wisdom, and love

. I will always remember  the first time I had words with my husband or got fired from a job, or thought I had some dreaded disease, who did I call?-my daddy!

Even at 30 or 40 (if your’e lucky to have your parents around) there are times when the only call, text, messenger, FaceTime, you want is your mom (or dad)

As always, enjoy the ride

Barclay & Joy

x0x