A Year Without Mom

One year has come and gone without my Mother on this planet. I remember wondering what that would feel like when I first lost her. It is both better and worse than I imagined.

My mother’s final year on this planet was one of steady decline. Living each day of that year, from visit to visit, I mentally cataloged each loss and took joy in any small sign that she seemed to be having an unusually good day. I was ever wary of calls and emails coming from Mom’s facility, tried to keep up with every new face and voice. The turnover of personnel at the facility that last year was unbelievable. How in the world do you expect residents to feel settled and have a sense of continuity with so much change? All I wanted was to keep my mom safe and well cared for. If I had to be the bad guy who pointed out every little wrong thing that the staff was doing, so be it. Mom was on my mind pretty much 24/7. Even when I was doing other things, there was always the thought of my next visit, my next trip for supplies, our next scheduled Dr. visit.


So, in the wake of my mother’s passing, after the first flurry of funeral plans, communications with relatives and lawyer visits, I felt somewhat untethered. It wasn’t as “freeing” as I imagined it would be, I still missed my mother terribly, and the old thoughts about “what do I need to do next for Mom” were still there, soon to be met with the pang of realizing again and again she was gone.

I wondered if I would get back into photography to fill the void after a year of rarely picking up my camera, but that itch did not resurface much in that first year post-mom. A friend encouraged me to come out to Longwood Gardens for the Orchid show. It was the first time in a long time I shot more than 10 frames in a single setting.

I searched for meaning and purpose, throwing myself into my role on the Communications team for Middle Creek Search and Rescue. I joined a study group to earn my Amateur Extra ham radio license. I studied with an app on my phone, listened to CD’s, took practice tests over and over ‘til the material became familiar enough that I thought I could pass…and I did.  I took the KY Ham KY Ares Online Training, FEMA Courses IS-100, 200, 700 and 800, hoping to become involved with Amateur Radio Emergency Service in the local area. “If not now, then when?” was a phrase that kept rolling around in my head.


I have been living with my Mom and Dad’s “stuff” ever since they both went into assisted living in early 2012. At first I felt like I needed to hang onto it just in case they would ever ask for something from their home. Well, Dad had less than two months to live, which we of course did not know at the time. He was on Hospice care and slept a lot. The most important thing for him was just to be there with my Mom. He did tell us, “Don’t sell my car! I’m still going to drive!” His independence was very important to him. He did not end up driving again and we did sell his car after he was gone. Mom, with her dementia, was in no state to drive. We quietly let her license expire and there was never any protest from her about it. Months before, she had already admitted that she did not know her way around and was reluctant to drive when my dad was not in the car with her. Mom never asked for anything from her stuff over the next 6 years.

That was a big lesson to me. The “stuff” just didn’t mean anything any more when it came down to end game. I guess I have been more reluctant to let go of their stuff than they were. I suppose it is all a reminder of who they were and the kind of things they liked. There is always something here to remind me of them.


I have often thought about what it was like for my Mom and Dad to live on after their parents were gone. They were both fortunate in that they had living brothers and sisters at the time of their parents’ passing. I wish that I had talked to my mother about that, how she coped with that loss, the loss of her mother especially. She was living in Tucson when her mother passed away in the Netherlands, but they had kept in touch with letters. Her mom had bad hearing, so they didn’t talk on the phone much, if at all after we moved to the States. Her mom had breast cancer that was untreated in her last years. Mom had visited within 6 months of her passing. I think she “said goodbye” then. She had to have known she would not see her mother again.

I was such a brat at the time, very self-involved. I had just graduated high school and was very full of myself. I had a full scholarship to the U of A and I was “da bomb.” I think now that must have been a very lonely time for my mother. I don’t know who she was sharing her feelings with at the time, but it wasn’t me. My Mom and Dad had a very close relationship and talked all the time but I don’t remember Dad being a big one to share feelings with. In retrospect, I hope she found someone to talk to at church or one of her friends from work.

I find myself more able to think about my Mom and Dad as they were before my Dad’s illness/death. I no longer HAVE TO think about every nuance of my Mom’s illness and am free to recall the details of her life and what made her HER. She was a remarkable woman and is still my role model. I know she wouldn’t want me to  mope around the house  or feel sad every time I think of her being gone. Having grown up in war-torn Europe, she knew about making the most of what life has to offer, savoring it.

I felt like I needed to “commemorate” this first year around the sun with Mom by writing about it. Time marches on and before I know it, another year will have gone by. I’m not ready to “let go” of my Mom. I don’t know if her absence will ever feel “normal” to me. I’m hoping to honor her life with mine.

I know she would want me to get back into photography or some other creative exploit. She always encouraged me to be a do-er and a make-er. So, I WILL be taking my camera out and about. I am hopeful that I will have some ACTUAL REAL photography related blog posts in the near future. So, I hope you will “stay tuned.”

Reflections on a Decade of FaceBook Connectedness

Every so often, life hands you a juxtaposition that may give you a unique perspective and make certain truths glaringly evident. In retrospect, you can see for yourself that those truths have always been true. I experienced this recently, and it gave me pause to reconsider my connectedness to the FaceBook “hive.” The “truth” I was faced with is that FaceBook connections are not necessarily “friends.” Obvious, right?

It is hard to believe I have been on FaceBook for over a decade of my life. I initially joined FaceBook after a popular photography website/sharing platform, “JPEG Magazine” fell out of favor due to some ethical issues, the details of which escape me now. Some JPEGers joined RedBubble and FaceBook as a means of staying connected with each other post JPEG.  I was an avid amateur photographer at the time. On “JPEG,” I had found a core group of ladies who I admired not only for their photography, but also for the gracious way they interacted with others on the site. They were individuals I would still love to meet “in real life.”

That’s how it all started. Once a member of FaceBook, I started connecting with work friends, church friends, other local photographers, far strung cousins and other family, and people I sent to school with back in Tucson. One connection led to another, and another, and another. I told myself it was a great time saver, a way to stay in touch with all these people at the same time. If anyone wanted to know what was up with me, they could simply look at my FaceBook feed. I could wish the whole world a Merry Christmas all at the same time!

I had always been a shy person in my youth, a keeper of journals and writer of letters. Stepping out and sharing my photography and my thoughts on life via social media felt like something very brave. I was connecting myself to the world. I would be putting my creative work, ideas and opinions out there for the world to see.

I had already been on MySpace for a while, but FaceBook felt different, more grown up somehow. There were no web pages with music that auto-played, no web 2.0 horrid page backgrounds with graphics making profiles hard to read, no flashing gif animations.

When I looked at some of my oldest surviving FaceBook posts, they were very mundane. “Baking cookies,” “Working on church graphics,” just simple lines describing my activities and not really interacting. Over the course of a decade, Facebook added functionality for sharing and liking just about everything. At several points in my online life I found myself “oversharing” and later went in and deleted many photos and older posts that I thought were really no one’s business moving forward.

For the most part, I embraced the “connectedness.” I shared my photographs. I shared memes. I shared websites I found interesting stories on. I “reshared” missing children and animal photos. I wished “Happy Birthday,” “Merry Christmas,” “Happy New Year” etc. Convenient. One need never buy another greeting card! FaceBook was saving thousands of acres of forest worldwide.

I looked forward to receiving such greetings. I also looked forward to the “likes” and the “comments” on things I would share. These things felt somehow validating. You log onto FaceBook, look at your posts to see who “liked” them and feel closer to those people somehow. Trading my very cool hot pink metallic Motorola Razr for an even cooler iPhone allowed me to be connected to FaceBook and other social media 24/7.

In recent iterations of the FaceBook web interface and app, the notification center told me right away how many folks reacted to my posts. I opened the app to check notifications, skipping the general feed.

More often, however, I found myself scrolling endlessly and encountering many ads for things I did not need or want (later FaceBook’s cookies ensured more of these things were things I DID want). I encountered memes and videos that were not “enriching” being shared by my “friends.” I could have gone the rest of my life without seeing some of those things, without knowing that my friends and acquaintances “liked” such things. So, I asked FaceBook to “hide” certain feeds. FaceBook allows you to do this without alerting your friends that you have done so; no need to offend anyone with your lack of tolerance for their predilections.

If you are “on FaceBook,” none of this is news to you. By now you are probably asking, “So, what terrible thing happened that made you disconnect?” Perhaps you imagine some huge insult hurled by a neer-do-well outlier in my feed, or maybe a hijacked account. FaceBook being a microcosm reflecting the world at large, any number of unpleasantries could happen there.

The encounter in question happened in the real world and it was very subtle. I mentioned a juxtaposition. I found myself in the same room with a recent FaceBook “add” and my best friends. Pleasantries were exchanged, and I made an introduction to my friends. The favor was not returned with his party. There was a bit of additional conversation. Subtle. No knock-down, drag out, verbal exchanges, no bullying, not the usual drama that so much pervades the FaceBook environs. Just me, reflecting on “what would a ‘friend’ do versus someone I was less well acquainted with.”

Over the next few days, I kept thinking about the encounter and about other interactions on FaceBook. There were family members, church friends, work friends, MIDSAR friends and other friends who I genuinely enjoyed interacting with on social media. I loved to see the photography of my JPEG friends and other photographers I had started to follow. The groups I was a member of kept me up to date on things relating to search and rescue, missing persons, radio programming, and photography. But I did an honest personal “cost/benefit” analysis and found that those worthwhile interactions were far outnumbered by ads, memes and drama. I was connected to people I really didn’t want to be sharing intimate details of my life with. Yes, you can “unfriend” people. Yes, you can limit what you see on your feed. You can limit what you post, what you share. Often people do not do this when they should, though.

I remember seeing a video in my FaceBook feed that showed what FaceBook would look like in real life. If was very comical, but made me think. If I had to tell everyone face to face something that I shared on FaceBook with EVERYONE, would I do that? In most cases, “probably not,” was my conclusion. If I had to show everyone photos of something I ate in person, would I do that? Probably not. Would I show them all my cat photos and videos, share my memories of my mother, bits of family history? No. Practically all my FaceBook posting was “oversharing” when viewed that way.

For a couple of days, I ruminated on these things. I was sitting in the lunchroom at work when I finally decided to “go dark” and take a break from FaceBook. I wasn’t sure I wanted to “throw the baby out with the bathwater,” so I did not permanently disconnect.

I have found myself turning to other social media like mental “fidget spinners.” I have many fewer connections on the other platforms. I watch a lot of cookie/cake decorating and calligraphy. I posted a couple images and reacted to some posts, but the pace is slower, the “hive” is less integrated. It feels more like browsing content than being in a large room filled with all the people you know, all talking at the same time.

I have other ways of reaching out to just about everyone who was on my FaceBook feed. I have sent a few texts, written a few emails about things I would probably have shared on FaceBook. Interestingly, I share much less often and with a much narrower audience. I tend to “think” more before I “speak.” Would so-and-so be interested in this? Is it important enough to share? Is it just silly? Will it make someone smile?

The openness of social media platforms encourages us to say “anything.” It doesn’t ask us, “Are you sure you want to say that?” “Did  you really want to ‘cc’ everyone you know in your communication?” “Have you thought about how so-and-so would feel about that regarding that thing that just happened to him/her?” Unless you are specifically tagging and targeting each of your posts, you are sharing with “the world” or at least YOUR world. And, maybe you “Don’t care who knows it”…whatever it is, but would you really shout it from the highest rooftop in your neighborhood, or send it in an email to everyone you know? Would you write a letter and mail it? Would you care if they showed it to your Mom? Your pastor? The immediacy of FaceBook paired with FaceBook Messenger allows folks to broadcast without much thought of consequences.

I have to admit these thoughts were secondary to the initial observation of differences between real friends and “FaceBook friends.” In any case, my feelings about FaceBook have tended to the negative, at least for me right now.

So, I will miss seeing your animal photos, the posts about your crazy day, getting a heads-up on missing persons that might require a SAR team, knowing when a kayaking trip is on the verge of being scheduled and getting real time feedback about when and where. I will miss your tagging me on photos of real world events and seeing our smiling faces show up in my feed. I hope that you will discover FaceBook is not the only way to stay in touch with me, and that maybe we can even TALK in person sometime.

The Replacement Cuddlers – Part 2

There is a line in the movie “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” that resonated with me from the moment I heard it. Indiana Jones is talking with Dean Stanforth. Indie says, “Brutal couple of years, huh, Charlie? First Dad, then Marcus” The Dean responds, “We seem to have reached the age where life stops giving us things and starts taking them away.”

This past winter was a season of loss in our household. Nadia, our silky calico (Turkish Angoran) was sick for a very short time in December and passed away at the Vet’s office after they had tired a number of things to try to turn her condition around. She was about 10 and a half by then, which, by some standards, is already a “mature” cat. However, with her two “sisters” aged over 17 years, we were not ready to lose Nadia so soon. Her passing cast a gloom over our holiday season.

Then at the end of December, the Friday before the New Year’s weekend, my Mother choked while eating lunch at her assisted living facility, she aspirated, stopped breathing and coded while on the way in to the hospital. CPR was performed and my Mom was brought back, but it was the beginning of the end. Mom had dementia. She was at the point in the disease where we were looking to move her to a skilled nursing facility when this happened. On January 3rd she passed away at Hershey Medical Center.

Gradually as we put more time between us and this past winter, the mood was not so somber any longer. The days grew longer and with Spring, came a feeling of hopefulness.

Then came summer, then as we were approaching fall…then kittens.

Within a couple of weeks of arriving in our house, our FREE kittens both developed conjunctivitis and some kind of upper respiratory infection, Journey showed the signs first. That eye she had been favoring turned “goopy” and she developed a cough that was bad enough we couldn’t ignore it. So off to the veterinarian she went for diagnosis and medication ($$$). Nutmeg followed within a few days ($$$). Into quarantine they went, living in our bathroom and getting eye drops and antibiotics ($$$).

We kept the oldsters and the youngsters separated until the cough and pink eye were gone. They had already been together as the condition was incubating, though. And here is where the second-guessing-myself comes in. Did I hasten the old girls’ demise by introducing kitten germs into the household? Could they have held on a bit longer otherwise? There’s no way to tell. The old girls didn’t experience the same symptoms as the kittens other than maybe a little bit of sneezing. There was nothing that raised a red flag to say, “Take that cat to the vet NOW!”

Our young girls overcame their ailments and quarantine was lifted. We settled back into a more regular routine. We made a rather futile effort to keep the kittens from eating the old cat kibble and the old cats from eating the kitten kibble. They all had “downstairs time” on the evenings and weekends. During the day everyone lived “happily” in our bedroom/bathroom. They two sets of cats seemed mostly to ignore one another. I had worried that the older cats would get bullied, or get angry and “protest” having to share their domain. Thankfully, those things never happened. Isis seemed to be more “demanding” than before, but we sometimes wondered if her hearing was going, perhaps she could not hear how unbelievably loud her vocalizing had become. Xena was still wanting to be lifted up for her night time routine in bed next to me.

Looking back over the past few months, the days have just come and gone so quickly. I can’t peg exactly when I knew we were reaching the end with Xena. She was fading slowly at first. Then, in the period of about 48 hours she went from fading to not eating, to peeing on the cat bed, to gone. The other cats didn’t seem very affected by this. I had placed Xena in the bathroom when it was clear she was on her way out. She was lying on a towel, covered by another towel. I was sitting on the floor next to her, just stroking her, crying, not ready to lose her. In prances Journey who comes right up to Xena and sniffs her, then goes about her kitten business. It was a Saturday in September. At some point I decided I couldn’t just lay there waiting for her to die, watching her every breath, feeling her pulse. I went outside and started to mow the yard. I was more than halfway through when Michael came out and tapped me on the shoulder. Xena was gone. He had already made her a “box.” We wrapped her in a shawl my Mom had crocheted. I drew on the inside lid of her box and we sealed it up and buried her in the back of the yard by our Forsythia bush.

During the next several weeks, we were busy getting the house presentable as my aunt was paying us a visit from the Netherlands. I’ve always found that company is a good incentive for housework. I couldn’t tell if the other cats missed Xena or not. I missed her snuggles at night time.

We had out visit from my aunt and Isis was the belle of the ball. As was her MO, she greeted my aunt and spent much time in her lap. The new kittens were still in their shy mode and hid under our bed upstairs.

The visit came and went. The weather got cooler. The kittens got bigger. Isis became more vocal, demanding attention. She slept a lot, but was still social, spending time with us downstairs each evening until mid-October. We recognized the signs of her fading away having just been through it with Xena. She suddenly did not eat the wet kibble with gusto. She spent more time under the small accent table in the living room than on the chair or in my lap. Her voice changed. She was still eating, drinking and carrying on with her ADLs until the final 48 hours of her life. Two nights before she passed, she spent time on my pillow during the night. She was still jumping from the floor, to the bed, to the nightstand, to the dresser. The next day, she was mostly sleeping and the day after that, she wasn’t moving off of her pillow on the floor, even though there was water and food right there for her. I hung out on the floor with her knowing it was the end and just wanting it to go quickly for her…and for me. She passed during the day when we were at work.

And then, there were two. Isis’ passing didn’t seem to impact the kittens at all. They sniffed where she had been, but that was about as much attention as they gave the matter. There was life to be lived.

As time has passed, Journey and Nutmeg have taken over some of the duties of our old girls. Journey is the social one. She is not shy, but she hasn’t quite settled into the “cuddler” role that Isis had. Nutmeg is the larger shy one, frequently found sleeping under the bed. She comes up at night and sleeps on our feet. They don’t have free run of the house yet as we have caught Journey hanging from the bird cage one too many times. Their kitten-ness is a wonderful distraction from the sadness of losing our longtime pets. Its hard to be sad when your kitten has just dropped their favorite nippy mouse at your feet wanting to play “Get Mouse” with you, or when the two of them follow you into the bathroom each morning wanting cuddles and mommy time while you get ready for work. Their manner is so joyful, embracing what each new day has to bring.

In May when I first entertained the notion of adding to our “herd” of cats, I would not have imagined our household pet situation progressing as it did. Looking back, I’m glad we brought the kittens into our lives. It has been chaotic and bittersweet, stressful, but rewarding. There is nothing quite so  precious as holding a warm purring kitten in your lap, to hear that purr-box turn on and then fade out as she falls asleep. And even though getting two of them was not originally part of the plan, watching the two of them play together, it was the absolute right thing to do.

The Replacement Cuddlers – Part 1

This past summer I got it in my head that our family needed another cat, more specifically, a kitten. Now, it had been more than 10 years since we had a kitten among the pride of Roberts’ household cats. We were down to 2 very old kitties, Isis who was almost 19 at the time and Xena who was approaching 18 years old. I knew that when they passed on, it would be a difficult time to think about adding a kitten to the household, that there was no way to “replace” our precious pet. The decision to bring a kitten into the “pipeline” prior to this seemed to me to be a practical one.

We were convinced that Isis was going to “go down fighting.” She still ran down the stairs, jumped up on the bed at night and ran across our pillows “meow-ling” in a loud voice. She had a bad habit of shredding door trim when she was younger which she still tried to do, albeit unsuccessfully because we had her front claws removed in the meantime. She made this “snarf” face  — she had her ears back, pupils dilated when she jumped up at the trim, grabbing it on both sides of the door jam and sliding down to the ground. Then she thundered down the hallway afterwards making more noise than you would suspect a cat so petite could possibly make. We were sure she would one day just fall over dead after doing this.

Xena had just settled into old age. She spent most of her time under our bed, coming out at night. During the last 6 months or so of her life she would wait until I was almost asleep and meow to be lifted onto the bed to receive lovies and then groom and snuggle down for a while next to me.

Isis’s nighttime routine involved the running across the pillows and then pressing her wet nose onto some exposed body part seeking pets and lovies. Sometimes she would fall asleep on my pillow. Others, she would go to her “princess pillow” on our dresser, one of the decorative pillows off our bed.

I put out some feelers over the course of the summer, explored the “rescue” websites, visited PetSmart to see what cute critters might be available for adoption.

Fast forward to August, a friend of a friend who had many rescue kitties was looking to rehome some of them. I heard about a kitten who had been on a long difficult journey already in her short life. She had been rejected and abandoned by her mother more than once. She was tiny, but feisty. Then, oh, by the way, the kitten, named Journey, had a buddy named Nutmeg…wouldn’t we please consider bringing her on board too? I saw the pictures. Journey was a grey kitten with darker tiger stripes, a white spot on her chest, white mittens and socks. Nutmeg was almost a year old and a larger, orange cat. It was all over. I was in love.

Tony, my stepson, and I went into Lebanon to pick up Journey and Nutmeg on August 4th. Journey and Nutmeg were both in hiding when we arrived to pick them up from Tina, their rescue Mom. There were a slew of other cats in the household. I think Tony was in heaven giving and receiving lovies from cats of all shapes and sizes while we waited for our chosen ones to make an appearance. Finally, Journey was coaxed out of her hiding spot and we were able to stuff her in a carrier. She was such a little bundle of fur. Attempts were made to find and capture Nutmeg, but she was a very good hider. Tina agreed it might be best to take Journey home first and then she would bring Nutmeg to us later in the day.

So Journey came home with a goody bag full of cat treats and toys from Tina. We had prepared for a quarantine for the two new cats in Tony’s bathroom, thinking it would be best to keep them away from the old lady cats for a while. We hung out in the bathroom for a good long time interacting with Journey. She was so soft and cuddly. She had a tiny voice. She was into everything in a kitten way, alternately spazing out and then resting, purring loudly while snuggling in our laps.  Tina was eventually able to corral Nutmeg and brought her over later that afternoon. Nutmeg was a scaredy-cat. She did not want to leave the cat carrier when we first brought her into the bathroom. So…Journey crawled inside with her. The sight of the two of them snuggling together in that carrier was so sweet. None of the cats we had before had ever liked each other enough to get that close.

We noticed Journey seemed to have something amiss with her left eye. Tina speculated one of the other cats probably swatted at her when she was playing with their tail.

Within a week, we had all the kitties living in our bedroom. The old ladies for the most part wanted nothing to do with the “kittens.” Journey was determined to make friends. When Isis and Xena didn’t want to play, Journey sought out Nutmeg and they would play fight with much gusto.

We allowed all the cats out for some play time during the evenings and weekends. At first they showed little interest in being downstairs. Then, when they were downstairs, it was impossible to get them to go upstairs (before we employed the power of the “red dot”… a story for another time). The old girls were being remarkably patient with their younger counterparts. They all seemed to be coexisting pretty well.

Then, Xena started to lose weight and the range of movement of her hind legs was decreasing. Michael said this had already started before the kittens came to live with us. I was taking a lot of photos of the cats during these early weeks and could see a difference in her appearance before and after kittens. She didn’t seem to be in pain. She was still eating, drinking, pooping and peeing…just less than before. I hated seeing her decline, but 18 was VERY OLD for a cat…19 was VERY OLD for a cat. She and Isis had lived VERY long kitty lives already.

Life with the cats was bittersweet during this time. The kittens were DEMANDING attention in the way kittens do. There is so much to see and do, new trouble to get into. The old girls were just living their quiet lives the way they had been doing since Nadia left us the previous December.

Nadia was a gorgeous 10-year-old long-haired (mostly) white kitty. The vet had called her a “silky calico.” But she looked like a textbook “Turkish Angoran.” She and the other two didn’t necessarily interact all that much, but the household dynamic had changed when Nadia left us suddenly due to some variety of cancer that the vet wasn’t able to pin down.



PSA – First Aid Training, Just Do It!

So, I’ve been awake and doing stuff since 11:30pm yesterday. I had some ideas rolling around in my head which have prompted me to post my very first “BLOG” entry ever. I give you one important PSA in 2 parts.

Part 1 – Take that First Aid class you have been putting off taking. Truly, it isn’t that scary. I took a class with MIDSAR (Middle Creek Search and Rescue) this past Thursday.
Now that I’ve watched the video several times, went through the class with Dee Utz, I don’t have any delusions of being an EMT or doctor, but I feel better about my chances of tending to an injury or medical problem until trained help arrives.

Part 2 – If you are seeking an assisted living situation for your family member/loved one, ASK if the aids are trained in first aid and get specific numbers. Last year my Mom was showing serious decline in her ADLs. She was losing the ability to feed herself. The other folks in Mom’s very small “Memory Care” unit had similar issues. One night the cook decided to serve some manner of shredded meat (I am thinking it was pork, but not sure) and 2 of the ladies choked on the meat as I was sitting there helping feed my Mom. One of the ladies needed abdominal thrusts to expel the food from her airway. This was how I found out that the only person on duty that evening who had first aid training was the one Med Tech on duty who was not in Memory Care at the time the choking episode occurred. The aide overseeing Memory Care did not have first aid training. Upon further inquiry with the facility administrator, come to find out, the ratio of “care givers” with first aid training vs. without was astonishingly low. SO…ASK the hard questions and get hard facts. Ask the aids on duty if they have first aid training. PUSH for your care facilities to make it a priority for their people to take this crucial VERY BASIC training.