Annie Crime Stopper reporting from the bank

Female police officer handcuffing male perpetrator against police car.

I’d make a terrible cop, wouldn’t I?

What an exciting Monday I had! I headed off to yoga in the morning, with time to drop by the bank on my way. I needed to deposit a few cheques and grab some cash. Little did I know what would transpire… [Ominous music starts in the background.]

I usually hit this bank because each teller has a bowl of great candies, and the longer the transaction takes, the more candies I manage to snarf down. But I only needed an ATM, so I entered the vestibule and got working.

As I was withdrawing my money, a fellow with a hoody pulled over his head joined me in the vestibule. When he took a few deposit envelopes from the ATM beside me, I noticed he also had a dark shirt covering the lower part of his face. [Neurons start firing slowly.] I figured the fellow was cold since he was underdressed for the weather.

Then I considered [a few more neurons start firing, ominous music gets louder] that Mr. Hood might actually be Mr. Thief, and wondered if he’d rob me. Instead, he proceeded into the bank, and within a few short minutes, he exited. As I finished my transaction, I saw Mr. Hood walking briskly away.

An employee locked the bank door immediately after Mr. Hood left, leaving me in the vestibule. I looked at bank staff quizzically but they waved me away. No candies today. [Loud sigh.] As I headed to yoga, my lightbulb slowly went on [dimmer switch rises slowly]: Mr. Hood had robbed the bank. Had I arrived a minute or two later, I could have been in the bank pillaging candy during the robbery!

My suspicions were confirmed when I drove back past the bank after class. I saw two police cars there, lights flashing. I continued home rather than stopping to provide my witness statement.

And so I wondered, what could I have done? I could have taken Mr. Hood down in the vestibule but my taekwondo is rusty, and Mr. Hood may have had a weapon. I could have shouted “Stop! Thief!” which, while alerting staff to the impending robbery, may have escalated the situation. Or I could have fainted from fear, which would have been in character but not very useful.

What should I have done? A police-wise woman told me next time that happens (next time?!) to leave and call 9-1-1, in order to alert emergency services sooner. But in this case, 30 seconds’ advance notice would probably not have been enough to stop this thief.

Once I was home, I called the police nonemergency line to share what I’d seen. I reported Mr. Hood was a white caucasian male, slim build, between 20 and 30 years old, blah blah blah. Had my neurons been firing a little faster, maybe I’d have been able to provide a better description.

Oh well. Maybe I haven’t earned a crime stopper costume for Hallowe’en after that lame performance. A cowardly lion suit may be more appropriate. Come to think of it, maybe I’ll go trick or treating at the bank this year. [Lion roars with excitement.] Those candy bowls may be stuffed with little chocolate bars right about now.

Woman in cowardly lion costume


10 reasons to skip your flu shot

Pug under pink blanket on bed with thermometer in mouthEach fall, the debates start about whether to get the flu shot. I don’t participate in these debates; I just tough it out and roll up my sleeve. I don’t want to die of something easily preventable. Yes, I must get my shot, like all the vulnerable little babies and old people.

Maybe the consequences of catching the flu aren’t so dire for you. I didn’t get the vaccine each year before I had leukemia, or even in my early years with polycythemia. Let’s review all the excuses I came up with, shall we?

10) It will take half an hour out of my day, and I’m busy enough as it is. (Yes, long ago I used to be busy.)

Inside voice: Yes, it will. Tough bananas. When you come down with the flu, you’ll lose a lot more hours sleeping and whining and snivelling. And remember, I don’t have the energy to make you chicken soup.

9) My injected arm will hurt.

I.V.: Wah wah wah. Pre-empt this by doing some heavy lifting earlier that day. This way, you won’t know what’s making your arm so sore.

8) It may make me feel crummy for a few days.

I.V.: Sure, it may, but it will pass. It won’t make you feel nearly as sick for nearly as long as the flu, trust me.

7) I’ve heard irritability is a side effect.

I.V. Just think of the ways you can use this: “Sorry I was so cranky last night, honey, it was my flu shot.”

6) I never get the flu.

I.V. There’s a first time for everything. Do you want to be one of those people who starts getting her shot religiously after her first horrific bout of the flu?

5) As a doctor/teacher/cashier/gym fanatic, I’m around sick people so much that I’ve developed immunity.

I.V.: Good try. See if you believe that once one of those sick people gives you the flu.

4) It’s a personal decision.

I.V.: Sure it is, but remember your decision may affect many people around you. What if your Grade 12 daughter misses final exams because you made her sick? Or your wife has to cancel a business trip? What if you pass the virus on to someone whose body can’t fight it? How will you feel then?

3) The vaccine will give me autism.

I.V.: No it won’t. Jenny doesn’t know what she’s talking about. Even the doctor who claimed MMR causes autism has rescinded his theory. By the way, have your kids had all their vaccines? Need I remind you of last year’s Disneyland mumps outbreak?

2) How will I develop a healthy immune system if I have the protection of the vaccine?

I.V.: I can’t help you since there are too many logical flaws in your argument. In fact, you may deserve to get the flu.

1) Vaccines are for babies.

I.V.: Yes, they are, and they’re also for children and teenagers and adults, so go get one already, would you?

Finally, if you skip your flu shot, know that ER waits are long at this time of year, and hospitals are overflowing with people suffering from the flu. Maybe another day we can talk about the joys of hanging out in an overcrowded ER for 42 hours until a bed becomes available. But first, my inside voice needs a rest.

Strike while the iron is warm

Illuminasia at the Calgary Zoo, pandas amidst bamboo

I think everyone should have a blog. I never used to tell people about my birthday and now I shout it from the rooftops. Birthdays are the best reminder that I’m still here. Thanks to each and every one of you for the good wishes. All were deeply appreciated.

The birthday itself was fairly uneventful. I had grand plans but I got the timing wrong. That’s because the day prior I did everything I had intended to do for my birthday. It’s been a long time since this iron’s been hot, so I’ve learned that I have to strike when it’s warm, or even barely turned on, which it was the evening prior. So, thanks to J.’s flexibility after a long work week, we jumped on the birthday plan a day early.

For a long time now, going out in the evening has been the exception rather than the rule. Evenings aren’t my strong suit, as you might have inferred. If I had a choice, I’d be under a blanket on the couch every night and no one would expect me to conduct a coherent conversation. I can’t even remember the last time J. and I ate at a restaurant for dinner. Needless to say, an evening out was long overdue.

For weeks I’d been craving a high-sodium burger and fries, carnivorous vegetarian that I am. And so, first stop, a burger and fries at a hole-in-the-wall spot that has earned top burger honours in Calgary for the past few years. I ate all my fries and even dipped them in regular, i.e., not low-sodium, ketchup. I did not, however, douse my fries with extra salt like J. did. (I must have retained water just watching J. with the salt shaker.) The meal was delectable and exactly what I’d been craving, and now I can stop fantasizing about a burger.

Then, like any kid turning 5–or is that 52?–I wanted to go to Illuminasia, a special evening exhibit at the zoo. It’s a stupendous display of animal lanterns, which are life-sized fabric animals and plants in vibrant colours that light up from within. The show ends on November 1 and is worth going to if you haven’t yet been. If you can negotiate your way around all the overexcited children (I blame the parents for buying them candy floss after dinner), you’ll have a wondrous evening.

By the next day, when my birthday rolled around, there was nothing left to do but eat cake. We ran out of time to bake cake, and M. wasn’t available to deliver her home-baked specialty, so we bought vanilla cake with mocha icing from a bakery. I had celebrated my 30th birthday by inhaling exactly the same cake. Frighteningly, despite 20 years passing, this cake tasted identical.

So next time you’re feeling like you’re not up to going out, make yourself go. If I can do it, surely you can. You’re never too old for childlike joy and wonder. The birthday was perfect, except for J.’s salt-shaker incident. That was scary.



Let us eat cake!

What have I to show for the past year, other than a few hospital admissions, more grey hair (I call them “highlights”), and my new flossing addiction? Well, I have my burgeoning collection of age spots on both hands. Who’d have thought I’d live long enough to develop age spots?

I’m thrilled to report I’m getting old, folks. In case you’ve forgotten, it’s happy birthday to me, tomorrow. I’ll be turning 52. In honour of this day, would you indulge me in a story about my glorious 50th? Ah, the illusion of choice; you know I’m going to tell you.

The actual birthday had passed without fanfare, which irked me since I was in hospital over my 40th. But I’d had so much attention since my leukemia diagnosis a year prior that I couldn’t rightfully complain about the nonevent.

On my birthday, our friend W., J., and I attended our favourite yoga class. At the end of class, Kathy, the teacher extraordinaire, told us she had a few extra spots in a small class the following evening. I was touched by the invitation, and we all planned to attend.

J. spent the next day whining about feeling sick, so I anticipated her bailing on yoga. She completely skipped dinner of leftover tofu stir fry. Despite her kvetching, when time came for class, J. joined W. and me. Upon arriving, J. and W. went ahead because, if you must know, I needed a moment to expel a little flatulence. (If you aren’t a meat-eating vegetarian like me, you may be unaware that tofu is very effective at increasing gut motility. Try it next time you get a little high on the Bristol Poop Scale.) No one wants to toot during yoga, especially not socially anxious me.

When I walked in, I saw a group of women with yoga mats. As I looked around, I slowly realized I knew each of these women. My first thought: Why they hadn’t informed me they were two-timing me with my yoga teacher? (This cancer thing really slows down the cognitive processing.) A friend finally yelled “Surprise!” and I realized J. had finagled the perfect party. She had been deviously planning this gathering for 6 months and I was utterly clueless.

Everyone had arrived early with food, beer, and yoga mats. Remember J.’s loss of appetite over dinner? She was just saving up for later. Even my dear friend M., who couldn’t attend, had contributed her renowned chocolate cake with mocha icing. What could be more perfect than a surprise yoga party for my 50th, complete with my favourite cake? The night is a blur–my shock didn’t dissipate for days–but I hope everyone had fun.

Later, I learned that my tarrying outside before class prompted questions of whether I’d figured out the surprise. J. quickly set everyone straight: “No, of course not, she’s just farting.” You know how open I am about matters of the gut. Evidently, so is J. Laugh if you must, but, thanks to my stalling, I remained gasless all class.

I’m grateful to be able to celebrate again this year. Start saving for the group trip to Hawaii for my 60th. In the meantime, make sure you have a piece of cake on me this weekend. Any chance to eat cake, remember?

Basset hound hanging over birthday cake with fork and knife

A pose by any other name

Woman in Auspicious yoga pose, legs crossed, hands open on knees

Does she look auspicious to you?

Just last post, was I not proclaiming what a nice diversion yoga is? Well, I may have to reconsider, since I’ve had a little yoga hiccup this week. Tell me if you think I’m being overly sensitive.

I’m struggling with a new teacher at one of my drop-in classes. Her classes are fine but a few times now, she has included a pose she refers to as the “swastika pose”. I’ve done this pose many times and no other teacher has called it by that name. Are other yoga teachers being culturally sensitive or is there some other reason the term “swastika” has never been used?

Perhaps I should remind you here that I am Jewish, and as a Jew, I get a little touchy about certain things. I support separating church and state. I don’t think the Lord’s Prayer has a place in public schools. Still, I’ve gotten my head around Christmas trees in public spaces because we have a tree every year in our bi-cultural home.

Yoga is an old tradition, and the swastika existed long before Hitler adopted it to represent his horrific regime. I may have been born after the Holocaust, but I associate this symbol with the needless deaths of millions of people, 6 million of them Jews. As a Jew, “swastika” screams “Holocaust”. That’s why a swastika spray painted on public property is not a suspected hate crime, it is a hate crime. I imagine the odd non Jew might have a similar association as me, and that’s why I don’t hear the term used often in daily conversation.

Near the end of this last class, we got into this so-called pose, and I immediately lost all the calm I’d managed to gather over the course of the hour. When class ended, I approached the teacher and quietly asked her if she’d consider using a different name for the position. I explained, although I don’t think I really needed to, that I am Jewish and as such, I associate “swastika” with the Nazis. She laughed at my request, which I found a bit disconcerting, but she also said that she would try to use a different term.

After this awkward interaction, I hopped on the internet and discovered that the English translation for swastika pose is “Auspicious Pose”. You know I had to look up “auspicious”–I’ve never really known what it means–but I got stuck at “propitious”, which is also beyond me. Definition aside, doesn’t “auspicious” (or “propitious”) sound better than “swastika”? This teacher could indeed have been calling the pose something less charged.

Upon further research, I realized that the Auspicious Pose looks nothing like what the teacher had us doing. I discovered that our teacher’s “swastika pose” is in fact a variation on a completely different position. Armed with this information, I may enlighten the teacher on its correct name next time I see her, but I’m not sure she’ll appreciate the information. No matter. I doubt she’ll use the term again, at least in front of me.

Picture of man in seated twist pose

This man is not in any way auspicious.

Just to clarify, woe isn’t me.

Light the Night 2015, beforeFive days with a black eye and all I’ve gotten are looks of concern and pity. Not one person has asked me whether I got into a bar fight. My aspirations to be a badass are obviously falling on deaf ears, or is that “blind eyes”?

Enough about that. Lest I left you with the impression last week that I was mistreated by the medical establishment, I must clarify a few matters. I don’t want anyone to be unduly concerned about my physical or emotional well-being.

Many of you have expressed concern about my recent surgery. Sure, it wasn’t the most fun day I’ve had in a while, my care was inattentive bordering on neglectful, but I relished the great story I’d get out of it. I found it hard to limit myself to 500 words that post because there was so much to tell you. I failed to mention, for example, that I was sent home with a needless prescription for narcotics, which I’d have known was needless had anyone briefed me on my recovery. A little soft feather to gently soothe my irritated eye would have been much more useful.

I seem to have upset even more people when I wrote again about the health-related losses on my mind of late, Don’t cry for me, Argentina dear readers. I know we all experience losses–they are a byproduct of living. Perhaps I am too highly attuned to mine. Know that after I acknowledge them, I try not to dwell on them, and I don’t want you to either.

Let’s get back to my silver lining, shall we? I am blessed with a loyal, kind, and supportive spouse, a sweet if ill-behaved dog, and a wonderful community of support. I fill my time with many activities I enjoy. I have been awed by the beautiful fall leaves of late, and yoga is always a good diversion. I am riveted every Sunday to The Great British Bake Off, even if Canada is a few seasons behind and I already know who’s going to win. (Darn you, Wikipedia, and darn me for killing the suspense.) And there was my guest appearance at the Bone Marrow consultation group a few weeks back, which I can now look back on with pride. Most days are good days.

Take Friday, for example, when a few friends joined me last minute at my second annual Light the Night Walk to End Blood Cancer. It was a beautiful fall night, I was in good company and, as a patient-survivor I got special attention (you know how much I love special attention)–a white lantern that stood out from the crowd of red (supporters) and gold (in memory), a white rose at the finish line, and amidst the larger community of support, my own personal cheerleading squad. Even my dear friend, C., despite his difficulties ambling lately, made the trek.

If I neglected to invite you, please remember that poor planning on my part does not constitute an emergency on yours. Maybe you’d keep the evening of Friday, October 16, 2016 available, since I’d appreciate any and all company next year. If I get enough people together, we can even have a team. I can see the shirts: “Annie’s Army…since no one can do it alone.” Are you in?

Light the Night 2015, marching


The downside of having an attentive spouse

Sadness doll from Inside Out

This post is a little bit sad.

I was mentioning recently how lucky I am to have J.’s devotion in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer, and all that. One of the ways that J. has shown her loyalty is by making herself available for every important medical appointment I attend. She is the driver, the supporter, and the questioner, when need be. She has taken umpteen vacation days and switched her other days off earned through extended workdays to accommodate my patienting.

There are many benefits to J.’s presence at the doctor, but there’s the odd time I wish she weren’t there, to be honest. When we met with Dr. Liver a few months back, and were asking him about travel, he acknowledged witnessing many bankruptcies among people who have travelled without medical insurance. J. has been very hesitant to cross any borders with me for some time now thanks to Dr. Liver’s honesty, which reinforced her concerns.

Then there was last week’s meeting with Dr. Bloody Resident, when I stupidly mentioned how fatigued I’d been of late. I liked Dr. Resident, despite my moniker for her. She was forthright yet thorough and caring. And so it should come as no surprise that she asked, in front of J.: “You’re not driving anymore, are you?” My heart sank.

Well, yes, Dr. Bloody Resident, in fact I am. Not all the time, not when I’m overly fatigued, not when I’m in the car with J.–she assumed the role of chauffeur a long time ago–but for short trips within the city. J. quickly piped in that she sometimes hides my keys if, in her judgement, I wouldn’t be safe behind the wheel.

I’ve had my new car for almost a year now, and it is dent free, which for me is a sign that I am driving safely. The thought of giving up my license, and with it my independence, is not one I want to be considering at this point.

When I was first diagnosed with cancer, I envisioned feeling better enough someday to go back to working more. I saw myself travelling farther afield on occasion, going out to movies and plays in the evening again, and having more energy to spend with people. I figured at some point I’d be back to the way I was before I got sick. I know people with cancer who return to work full time and run marathons, among other crazy things.

Sadly, I’ve learned that, unless God intervenes (highly unlikely since I like bacon so much), there are times when I will measure my life by a series of losses, some more important than others (we’ll leave cleaning out of this). But I’m not ready to give up driving just yet. I hope that’s not inevitable, although my granny pill case and progressives may suggest otherwise. And I’m hoping no one ever withdraws my blogging privileges. I need something to do when I’m not running marathons.

X marks the eye

Doctor in OR garb sleeping while standing upright

Don’t worry. I can do this in my sleep.

I’ve been searching for forgiveness in my heart for the ophthalmology speciality. Sure, I’ve had contact with two different specialists that were less than ideal, but I’ve tried to let that go. Maybe my judgements about the field have been unduly harsh. Maybe I am just a negative person with unreasonably high standards. Nah, not me.

Yesterday I experienced assembly-line medicine for the first time. Imagine me as a wee cocktail wienie in a wiener machine. I was but one of many ca-chings in Dr. Eye Surgeon’s day. I’ll share an abbreviated run-down of my experience on the line.

First step: Move me into pre-op and remove my glasses, rendering me visually impaired. Put a sticker with my name on my shirt, and draw an X above the right eye. Over the next 45 minutes, ask me four times to repeat the eye I’d be operated on. This seems odd since: a) it’s more important that the doctor know this information than me; and b) if the doctor inspects my left eyelid and there is nary a lump to be found, I imagine he’ll inspect the other eye.

Second step: Talk to the anaesthetist, who asks why I am there. He follows my explanation with: “You’re in good health otherwise, right?” Well, Dr. Dozy (should that be Dr. Numb[skull]?), no, in fact, I am not in good health. Perhaps you might review my file. Or should I provide a complete medical history? Better yet, sedate me so we can abort this conversation.

Step 3: Move me to the OR, where I lie amidst several doctors and nurses, none of whom introduce themselves or address me. Look blindly at the ceiling–no glasses, remember?–and shiver. Imagine the cold keeps surgeon from breaking a sweat as he runs from patient to patient.

Step 4 (trumpets sound): Enter stage left, Dr. Eye Surgeon–that’s Dr. Asleep at the Wheel to me. After convening with staff present on several other matters, Dr. AATW asks me how I am feeling. I say I will feel better following sedation. Dr. Dozy wanders in, does not address me, shoots two drugs into my IV, and leaves. Despite his stellar lack of communication skills, I have no idea what he has given me or how it will affect me.

[There could be several more steps in here, including a painful needle and a little eyelid snip, but my memory is vague. I do recall Dr. Eye Surgeon saying: “This is so small I don’t think we needed to remove it.” Perhaps he might have figured that out sooner and thrown wienie me into the discard pile?]

Step 6: Seat me in a post-op area with no nurses and no glasses. Theoretically I am to be monitored for a negative reaction, but monitoring is sparse. In other words, this defective wienie may show up on someone’s dinner table. A nurse eventually wanders in, returns my glasses, applies insufficient pressure upon removing my IV, and leaves me bleeding profusely. Following a quick mop up, I am free to go, with prescriptions but no aftercare instructions.

Maybe Dr. Eye Surgeon did an excellent job. I have no idea. All I have to show for my experience is a black eye. Nonetheless, I’d fail him on his practical exam in Patient and Family Centred Care.

In sickness and in health

By the title, you’re probably expecting this post to be about my marriage. J. has been with me since I first got sick 15 years ago, and she married me three years ago, two months before I was diagnosed with leukemia. I regret that timing, but trust me, it was unplanned. I couldn’t ask for a partner more loyal and devoted through tough times.

But no, that’s not what I’m talking about today. Today’s post is about yoga, my other loyal companion in sickness and in health. I can’t believe I’ve become a yogi, to be honest, since I used to be a hard-core workout fanatic. In the past, I took aerobic classes, I ran, I swam, I even sweated sometimes.

Sickness threw a wrench in all that. I couldn’t manage the high-intensity workouts after my polycythemia/blood clot diagnosis, so I cut back more and more over time. Eventually, yoga became my “compromise”. But I quickly realized yoga was no compromise; it was a challenging workout for someone as unbalanced–physically, not emotionally, thank you very much–and uncoordinated as me. I liked yoga, to my surprise.

Then leukemia struck. After two months in and out of hospital, I was pretty darn glad I had become a yogi before I got cancer because I don’t know how I would have recovered without it. I had lost 20% of my body weight and, without a doubt, much of that was muscle. My balance was severely compromised and I had trouble walking unaided initially. Forget the granny pill case; I needed a walker to get around my first few days out of bed.

One month after my hospital discharge, I was upright most of the time, and I was itching to return to yoga. My helicopter parent (J.) insisted on coming to catch me if I fell, and fall I did, a few times that first class. Slowly my balance, coordination, and strength returned. I doubt I’ll ever be as fit as I was before my prolonged hospitalization, but I’ve come a long way, baby. I have more stamina and strength and I don’t stumble as often as I used to, despite this summer’s double tripping fiasco.

Woman in yoga wear in triangle poseYoga has proven its emotional benefits to me too. Those four hours per week I devote to yoga (assuming ill health or doctors’ appointments don’t interfere) are my reprieve from the craziness of being sick. Sure, my triangle pose could always be better, but I don’t fret about that. I’ve found that my absorption in the correct positioning of my body is an excellent distraction from having cancer.

Has yoga prolonged my life? I don’t believe it has, although some people might claim otherwise. But I am sure that yoga has improved my quality of life while I’m here. And that’s good enough for me.

Can I have a do over? Just one?

Road sign with words: Second chance just ahead.

Last year I bought a new car, and today I picked up new glasses. I’d show them to you because they bring out the colour in my eyes (the optician told me so) but that might interfere with the whole incognito thing.

Who’d have thought I’d live to need progressive lenses? Look, I’m still here! Now I can write my blog with more (screen) clarity. Maybe you could let me know whether I have fewer careless errors in my posts.

Last week I determined that I don’t have OCD, but I still have obsessive thoughts, many of which I’m wise enough not to share. (Physical scientists aren’t the only ones who look at things under microscopes.) I thought you might indulge me with one last ruminative monologue on my oral storytelling earlier this week.

At the end of the talk, one of the attendees asked: “What do you want us to take from this talk?” (Forgive me, dear attendee, because I am paraphrasing here.) My response was dismal. I was disjointed and unclear.

I blame my inside voice for this failure. First it said: “I have absolutely no idea.” Then, “I’m totally spent. Don’t you realize it’s nap time? Can I get back to you on that when my mind is fully functioning again?” Then it screamed (remember it’s my inside voice, so no one heard): “I’ll just pass the question off to my fearless leader, Jess Dollard. I’m sure she could answer much better than I could!” But my inner grown up realized that would be a bit childish. So I blathered.

Now that I’ve had three days to obsess about what I said, I would like a do-over if I could. Here it comes.

Dear Kind Questioner:

You can take whatever you choose from my story. Depending on your experiences with your own patients, you may resonate with different ideas. Still, I’ll try to respond now that I’ve had hours and hours and hours to stew about your question.

  1. Attentive care is critical to a patient, and inattentive care is distressing. I’m a layperson, so I don’t know how to determine whether you’re a good physician or not. Rather, I focus on whether you are there when the (low-salt) chips are down. I’m not asking for warm and fuzzy–that’s not even my style and I’m a psychologist–just respectful and responsive.
  2. I know this lemon body of mine will not last forever, so in the meantime, I ask you to do what you can to keep me as well as you can. Demonstrate you care about my quality of life while I am here. And be honest with me always, even if the news is bad. I need these things in order to be able to trust you, and if I don’t trust you, I’ll have to break up with you. You don’t want me to do that because I’m a good catch.
  3. Even though I’ve previously had medical care that wasn’t ideal, I am blessed with wonderful care now. And, as my life-saver was quick to point out to the group, many of you have supported my care indirectly. My gratitude is boundless.

With appreciation,


P.S. Happy Thanksgiving to all. May each of you have lots to be grateful for.