Soup, Soup, Soup

I think this particular title comes from a Maurice Syndac book I read when I was little. I recall the book also being fairly small, and in it is a little boy with a very large wooden mixing spoon. I've always wanted a spoon like that. I always figured, The bigger the spoon, the better the soup! I love making soup.

This evening, I walked into the house to find that my housemate is watching a musical on the TV in her bedroom. Loudly. Which is just down the hall from mine. And her door is open for air, since today was actually rather warm. I think summer might still be summering for a few more weeks here after all. sigh...

So anyway, I'm at home, going to my room, and I've gotten to the top of the stairs. In fact, I'm just rounding the end of the banister, not listening particularly closely to the actor in my housemate's musical, who is listing a bunch of specific ingredients as he mixes them all together...

The man in the musical intones: ...A bit of this, a dab of that, a cup of this, another ingredient or two, and a pinch of cohones.

I stopped with one hand still on the banister railing, and blinked bemusedly at her bedroom door.

...What are cohones? another TV personality asks.
...Don't ask. He says, and the music swells with magic potion billowyness.

"I see breasts. And foam. Of Course the magic potion is foaming." My housemate says this the same way that one might say "I don't believe you. This is ridiculous. Of course I have a cavity, because this is a dream, and you are an evil dentist." Dryly, with total disbelief at the predictability of the situation.

"Hi, Housemate," I say, and open the door to my room. Just another night here in wonderland. With breasts and cohones and foaming magic potion thrown in for fun. What the heck kind of musical was that, anyway??


Delighted. Really.

Have I mentioned the upcoming family reunion yet? It's worthy of mention.

The good news is that my secret plan to shanghai my favorite cousins from the airport, and deliver them to the reunion location several hours later has been officialized by the committee in charge of officializing things.

The bad news is that in those several hours between airport and reunion location, I have now got to cris-cross a major city in search of passengers, find parking at the airport at rush hour on a Friday afternoon, drive a full car load of cousins and baggage to another town an hour or more away, in serious rush hour traffic, on a Friday, in order to celebrate another incoming family member's birthday with the WHOLE FRIGGEN CROWD at our usual celebratory restaurant. And then we drive to the reunion.

I hope they give us a private room at the restaurant. One with padded walls. We're going to be loud, crazy, totally disorganized, loud, and insanely hungry. All twenty or thirty of us. Just think-- my mom, and four of her siblings, and like seven mostly-adult female cousins who GREW UP IN THIS FAMILY TRADITION-- plus kids, boyfriends, husbands, and well, whoever else we accidentally sweep along in our rambunctious and way-too-friendly wake.

I'm sure I'll be keeping you posted on the reunion. OH, and did I mention that my mom's broken hand is healing okay? It is. Really.


Shoveling it

Today, I mucked out a barn.

Back a few months ago when I dreamed of myself doing this, I woke in utter disbelief that such could EVER be true. I mean, this is ME we're talking about. But today, it was. I actually volunteered.

See, through one of the random blogs that I follow-- maybe it was one about urban homesteading, or no-- maybe that one about sustainability and farms or, well, maybe one of my "tiny house" blogs-- anyway, I found a link to this one Family Farm. And discovered that they need volunteers, and they give you a whole talk-and-tour to get you familiar with the farm and the jobs that need doing.

And I thought-- Hey. I want to create a mini homestead/garden/farm someday when I've paid off my debts and have enough money to buy a bit of south-slope land... Maybe I should get a better idea of what I'm getting into. Maybe I should find out what it's REALLY like to have an organic garden and some goats and chickens and sheep, etc.

So today was Orientation Day for volunteers at the Family Farm. I love it out there. It really reaffirmed that what I want is attainable, and that I'd be happy having it. It also reaffirmed something I already knew-- Goats like me. I mean, these were just generally friendly goats and all, but... seriously. Goats like me.

It took two hours to meet all the creatures and see all the watering buckets/troughs/etc that need regular cleaning and filling (one of the four approved jobs for volunteers on the farm-- mucking out the three barns, the chicken coops, and the mini barn that houses Waldo is another). Then, since I did drive a whole hour to GET there, I decided I had time to muck out one of the barns. And I did have time. What I didn't have was stamina.

So the biggest, stinkiest, most-in-need-of-mucking barn has three sections. I did the biggest one. And I couldn't do any more. In fact, I'm really glad my blister didn't get a blister. I'm even MORE glad I thought to bring my work gloves. And I'm glad I didn't fall asleep on the drive home from the farm. Since I was the one driving. But seriously, I was that worn out. Muck is heavy.

And did you know that fresh farm eggs that are unwashed last longer, and don't need refrigeration? If you wash them, you have to pay attention to which is warmer-- the water or the egg. Because the egg shell is actually really porous, and bad bacteria go toward the warmest thing-- so you want a cold egg and warm water to wash it in. I have a whole yummy dozen washed farm-fresh eggs in my fridge right now. They're making me very happy. Because every time I remember I've got these awesome fresh Family Farm eggs to cook with, I also remember how awesome my day was today while I was AT the Family Farm. Happy-Happy.

I've got some researching to do for the Family Farm from home, and I think I'll try to make it out there again in a couple three weeks to do something slightly less intense like watering the chickens or something. I'm definitely going back. I want more eggs, for one thing. And I'm definitely sleeping well tonight. Just as soon as I rinse out my nose with something that doesn't smell like the month-old backside of a male goat. Apparently, the male goats stink more than the females. Made perfect sense to me.

And when I get my own land, I'm starting with vegetables. And herbs. And a couple of fruit trees. And maybe a few chickens. But nothing that requires mucking. Or castrating. And I learned that I need to add an "egg-cleaning station" to my dream home design. And probably a small barn to store all my gardening equipment, my spare bales of hay, my chickens, my wheelbarrows, and the muck I buy from my neighbors once or twice a year.

sigh... Who knew bliss would smell like THAT?!



Can I just tell you how much I love my writing group? And also Crazy Aunt Purl. And possibly a few other folks as well, but I haven't gotten very far in catching up on my emails lately, so I'll have to get back to you on that.

The e-correspondence for my writing group over the past few days looked something like this:

J: I think we're down two people this week, so probably that makes eight, plus the two of us who lead the writing group, so I think you need to bring ten copies of your work this week. But I could be wrong. (actually, she meant eight INCLUDING the two leaders, but five people showed up, plus the two leaders, so that made seven)

H: Sorry I missed y'all, but I had car problems, and I'm looking forward to next week.

D: Well, we all voted, and GOOD NEWS! Everybody except R decided to give you one last chance!

H: Where does R live?
(insert shark music here!)

D: Under the Chevy's downtown.

R: Hah! Joke's on you, D. I moved out from under the Chevy's as soon as you tracked me down. Well, actually, I just moved in deeper to avoid all the rats... And H? I misunderstood the vote. I thought we were voting to give you one last dance, and I didn't think it was fair that you were the only one getting to dance. Sorry.

H: Too late, R. Sleep with one eye open.

J: Oh, and thanks to H and D for giving me more background info on R when I give his intro at the Reading Event tonight!

OMFG-- I think I nearly coughed up a lung from laughing too hard with a head cold!

I realized why these folks are so helpful and so much fun when I bring in bits of my own story to read to them every Wednesday night. Then I read the latest blog entry for Crazy Aunt Purl. Again-- laughter can be such a healing medicine! I can't believe-- and yet I so CAN believe-- that she wrote a note to her auto mechanic while he was serving time "up north" because she had a question about converting her jeep from gas to vegetable oil (or maybe cat poop, since she has a ready supply of it).

Maybe I'm not so crazy for volunteering to help muck out a stable at a local farm just so I can see what farmlife is like-- and for writing that email that said, "Wow, you guys are cool! and also, if you are looking to hire a librarian with social skills, I'm available." to a local green home building company I found online.

In other news, I recently had an interview with a big city library system, so I could get on the list of folks they'll notify if they decide to accept applications for any open positions in their libraries. I was actually rather concerned that I'd flopped. Ninety minutes of interview, including a pointed grilling on my complete lack of knowledge about practical adult reference services, a book-talk presentation I put together with a teen audience in mind (I actually used a really cool hip word the interviewers didn't know-- don't tell them I made it up, k?), and an outline for a toddler storyhour, including a five-minute sample of my "storytime reading skills." I knew I represented myself and my skills fairly accurately... But I also know those skills are getting rusty with disuse, and it shows.

Imagine my joy and utter amazement to finally check email this afternoon, and find that I've qualified for ALL THREE AREAS of reference services-- adult, teen, and children. WAHOO!! Of course, now I'm waiting around to hear of any job openings that come up, and that they decide they'd like me to apply for. But I was impressed by the library system and the teen book selection there. I think I'd enjoy working for them, and I'm actually hoping to hear back soon.

You never know. Stranger things have definitely happened.
Oh, and by the way, if you know a well-connected and upstanding literary agent who specializes in memoirs... I'm looking.



So I've been going through a month-long five-step interview process with a company I'd like to work for. They help new college students handle the challenges of school, balance other demands on their time and energy, and access resources that will ultimately help those students stay in school, graduate, and meet their personal goals.

I'm also having this interesting awareness that I thought I'd share--

I was writing my book, and writing about the "standard soldier" lifestyle. How he usually has a buzz-cut and a big-ass man-truck with a killer stereo. How he loves to eat beef, and prays to God before dinner every night. How nearly everyone who populates his world is physically fit, heterosexual, and between the ages of 18-45. And I got to "talking" about how different Army social norms are from Civilian ones. Here's a piece of what I wrote:

In many ways, I still haven’t finished assimilating into this larger and more diverse civil society. For example, an Army Wife could not be friends with a man who was not her husband. It raised eyebrows. Just being seen riding in a car with a man who was not your husband was enough to make you a hot topic at the next FRG potluck. Is she having an affair? Does her husband know? Is her husband away on a mission right now? Does anybody here have a husband who knows the poor bastard well enough to tell him about his wife’s affair when he gets home?

I met a married friend for dinner at a noisy sushi restaurant the other day. We were discussing his research and my job search, so he suggested sitting beside me at the oversized table, instead of across from me. It’d be easier to hear without spitting at each other and yelling out about this book he’s writing about a lesbian love affair in the 12th century. Already nervous about having dinner with my friend, and not his wife (to whom I know he is totally devoted), I had to stop and think about what it means to sit on the same side of the table as a married man in a civilian context. I only knew what it meant in the military one. Of course, in the military, we wouldn’t have been eating a meal together, or discussing lesbian love affairs and 12th century politics, at all.

Of course, in this new context, and with this particular person, it didn't mean anything at all, except that the restaurant was noisy! It's just interesting to realize that I became an adult while inside the military arena, and that I've had to learn to be an adult all over again as a civilian.

And there are still occasionally situations that I haven't dealt with in a civilian context. When they come up, I'm reminded all over again of this clash between what I originally learned, and what is appropriate/real now. I guess I'm a life-long-learner on many different fronts indeed.

Another facet of this process occurred in my "job-shadow" interview yesterday. I was talking with one of the Student Coaches, and she told me that part of her strategy for working with these college students is to realize that nobody makes huge life-altering changes. To be realistic in helping them set goals, and in recognizing that "success" and "progress" for a student with poor study skills and a terrible GPA is different than for a prize pupil. According to her experience, after working with hundreds of new students, the goal is to help these students see their current situation clearly, and then take baby steps forward from there. And I don't know that I particularly disagree...

But I had to realize that part of what sets me apart from general society is the fact that I've made huge life-altering changes in who I am and how I operate and process new information and make decisions MANY TIMES. That I'm not afraid of learning new and better ways to be. (Though LB can tell you just how stubborn I am about asking for help-- I'm still working on that one.)

I've had a lot of fear and challenges in the past few years. But in the past few months, since I got serious about writing this book that remembers my life in the Argmy, I've also had a lot of examples presented to me of just what seriously tough shit I've lived through, what unfair or unexpected challenges I've overcome, and how strong and neat of a person I really am now, on the far side of those major life- and self-changes. I'm proud of who I am now, and I'm learning to appreciate just how awesome my accomplishments in this lifetime are. It's heartening, when so many other things seem to be falling apart.


Ways of Being

I had an interesting conversation with a friend this weekend. We talked about the difference between having goals to work toward, and working on new ways of being in the world. She had a pretty convincing argument, so I thought I'd share.

We often talk about our latest goals, or the goal we are focusing on in the moment. Somehow, this places not only our efforts but also our accomplishments outside of ourselves. If you want to earn top ratings in your company this quarter-- whatever your company likes to rate-- that's a goal.

It's you working on something totally separate from your SELF, and with both a goal and a reward that are pretty impersonal. They might give you a year-end bonus that you can spend on a trip to Maui or something... but they don't really change who you are or how hard you'll have to work next quarter if you want the same results. Losing weight, getting up earlier-- these feel like similar goals. Things you can measure by looking at the scale or the clock or the nightly news. Looking outside yourself for both expectation and outcome.

Ways of being are harder to measure, harder to change-- and yet when we do improve our way of being, every aspect of our life gets a little bit easier, clearer, more functional. Several years ago, I wanted to change my way of being-- I wanted to be healthy. And I really examined what that meant for me. How I would be in the world, and what about my lifestyle or my thought process or my daily activities needed to change in order for me to live in a way that feels healthy to me. And to be honest, I'm still working on it.

I wanted to be pain-free in my body most days. I wanted to be able to lift moving boxes and heavy bags of kitty litter without hurting myself. I wanted to feel that I had a chance of defending myself from harm if I were ever attacked in a dark parking lot at night.

I wanted to feel connected to the Earth. I wanted to be connected to my own feelings and intuition so that I could USE them to keep myself healthy, safe, sane. I wanted to respect myself enough to pay attention to my needs, and work on meeting them. I wanted to get rid of my adult acne, and keep up with my friends on long hikes in the hills without complaint. These, to me, were the measuring sticks of my improved way of being. If I could do these things, I'd be living the life I want to live-- the way I want to be in the world.

So I took time to examine my lifestyle, and look for things I could do with very little money and no health insurance-- to improve my way of being healthy in the world. I started meditating. I read about the root chakra that is our connection to our physical body, to the earth, and to our internalized messages of security and sturdiness. I spent a few minutes every time I realized I was tired, or in pain, or sick, or pissy-- and tried to figure out WHY. What could I learn in that moment about my SELF and my physical needs. What cues had my body given me before I reached this point? Maybe next time I could do something BEFORE I got this tired, this uncomfortable.

I started walking a couple of times a week, looking at trees and birds and clouds when I walked. And I tried to change my sleeping habits so that I got a fairly reliable seven hours of sleep a night. Then eight. Then nine. I really feel rested if I get nine hours of sleep a night. I don't always manage it. And I know most people don't need that much. But I do. And I'm learning to respect my body's needs enough to be healthy. I also realized I had formed an unhealthy dependency on pain killers and sleeping pills to manage my pain from an old car accident.

Some folks do legitimately need medicine, and if you need it? TAKE IT. But so many more of us take meds we don't need because it is easier than dealing with the problem that the meds help us ignore. I decided to consult a doctor friend on the healthiest way to reduce my dependence on my particular prescription medicines. I knew it would be dangerous to stop cold-turkey. Then, I cut my dose by 1/3 on a Friday, so I'd have the weekend to cope. The next Friday, I cut the daily dose in half. And because I was so cranky by then, I told a few people what I was doing so they wouldn't take my attitude personally.

I stayed at that level of dosage for almost a month. This wasn't about meeting a goal. This was about finding ways to be healthy. So I didn't have a set timeline. Instead, I waited until I wasn't so scared by the side effects I had with reducing my dosage. I picked a time when I knew I didn't have to do any driving or anything important for four or five days in a row. And I had some non-chemical pain-management options ready to use. Things my doctor friend had suggested, or that I'd learned about when I studied alternative medicine-- healing herbal teas and yoga for pain and such.

I started on those new things the first day. I stopped taking prescription meds the second day, with an over-the-counter pain med just to ease myself into it a little more. By the third day, I was using pain management techniques, an no pills. By the fifth day, I felt better than I had in years. I know I was lucky to break my dependence so easily. Oddly enough, I have fewer painful days now than I ever did when I was on pain medicine. I get more rest from my sleep, too.

I'm still working on the acne. Managing it requires overcoming my life-long addiction to sugar-foods. But I'm also proud of the progress I've made in listening to my body's needs, and maintaining some sort of regular exercise. And when I exercise, I listen to my body so I don't over-do or re-injure myself. If I start to feel tired, I take iron pills and vitamin C and garlic. I try to manage my body temperature, and give my body extra sleep and extra water to help fight off any virus germs. I'm not sick nearly as often as I used to be. And I feel more alive. More connected to the Earth and to myself. I even keep up with my friends when we hike.

I guess improving my health wasn't so much a goal as a way of being in the world. It wasn't about crazy diets or binge exercising. It wasn't about denying myself or punishing myself. It was about getting to know myself better, and then making informed decisions. It was about learning to accept what my body needs to be healthy-- and not what I think it should need, should look like, should do for me. It was about learning to be compassionate-- at least about my health-- with my SELF. And THAT is one of the hardest lessons for a person to learn. To be good to themselves, without punishment, judgment, or unhappy indulgence.

Be compassionate with your body. Honor your feelings. They are trying to tell you something important about your well-being in the world. Find those connection points between you, and the universe at large. They do exist. Isolation is only ever self-imposed. The grass really is greener on the other side.


Addicted to Love

So talk about your roller coasters!
They finally force-fed my kitty at the vet's right before I came to see her at the end of the day. Then they sent me (and her!!!) home with a bunch of kitty opiate oral liquid pain-killers, and some pepcid. And orders to call with updates, and especially to keep track of her food intake. Of which there wasn't any.

She finally daned to use her litter box for the first time around 8am this morning. I've never been so excited about my cat's peeing habits before, let me tell you. And when I got out another dose of the pain meds, she ran over to me so I could give it to her. RAN OVER TO ME. FOR MEDICINE.

I think she's addicted. Seriously. Of course, being a tortie, that didn't mean she'd actually let me GIVE her the medicine-- she just let herself be caught so I could pry her mouth open, shove the gunk in, clamp her jaw shut, and stroke her throat while she tried to bite off her own tongue. Sigh.

So I was hopeful. Until the Vet called. The final test came back, the CDC (whatever the heck that is, it costs a hundred dollars) and it turns out her white blood cell count is horribly low. So We made an appointment to take her back into the doctor's for another test. This one was to see if she had either feline leukemia or kitty AIDS. Those being the most likely reasons for a low white blood cell count, apparently.

The drama of library conferences has NOTHING on this, folks.

But luckily, I had a massage scheduled (in trade for other work, so neither of us had to come up with cash, thank goodness!) for this morning. So I went ahead and had that done. Unluckily, I realized when my masseuse was a few minutes late that I wasn't going to make it to the vet on time, so I had to reschedule that by a half-hour. Luckily, the noon appointment time was still available. And my cat was still fairly stogned and pliant when I got home to put her in the cat carrier.

Apparently, she was also much calmer about getting her blood drawn this time around. And it only took ten minutes to get the test results back. She is evil illness-free, as far as we can tell. Luckily, it is NEITHER feline leukemia NOR kitty HIV. Unluckily, we still don't know what it IS. I have strict instructions from my vet (who also owns a tortie) to call her with updates.

And LUCKILY, I have a very wonderful update to report. As soon as we got home, she got out of the cat carrier, wandered over to the wet food that has been sitting hopefully in my room for the past few hours, and licked it a few times before wandering back to her blanket in front of the space heater. FOOD!!! She ate a bite of FOOD!!! That's more than she's eaten of her own volition in three days! WAHHOOOO!!!!

And I have finally got some hope back that she'll recover from this insane trip of hers.
Thanks for all your good thoughts, everyone. We both needed them for a while. Maybe we still do. But at the moment, Abbigale is curled up on my bed in the sun pretending that her little fore-arm isn't shaved and listening carefully, just in case I venture over to the pain medicine again. Because, as I said, she REALLY LIKES that pain medicine.

So, basically, nearly a thousand dollars I didn't have later, the only thing we know for sure is that she had some really painful gas, stopped eating, got really dehydrated, and is now hooked on pain killers. Not necessarily in that order. ...sigh.


Not Even Funny

My cat is in the Animal Hospital today. They're trying to figure out why she stopped eating and drinking two days ago, why her chest hurts, why she has a build-up of gas, why she's been puking and other grossness for the last 24 hours, at both ends. And how to make it all better.

I'm trying to figure out how I'm going to cope. She is a fixture in my life. She is one of my best friends, and my life-companion. She is only ten years old. And if she needs surgery to remove an obstruction in her bowels, I'm not sure I can pay for it.

I'm trying to figure out how to make my situation go away. How to have a job, or another credit card, so that I could have a hope of paying for this. Or rent. Rent would be nice to be able to pay, too. I'm trying to figure out how I got so desperate financially that I would even consider NOT getting this $800-$2000 surgery for my Abbigale. I'm looking into donations from animal-rescue organizations. I'm looking into my credit card totals to see how bad they really are. I'm looking into payment plans. My vet is looking into some possible other cause for her illness.

I'm trying to cope with my sudden reality that I've already spent $600 on her medical care today, and that I really don't want to wake up without her tomorrow... and that it costs less to put my best friend to sleep than to heal her... but even that would be expensive. I'm really trying to cope with reality, but failing.

Because the reality is that she is my one ability to keep coping with my life. She gives me a reason to get up (even if it's a half-hour earlier than I wanted to get up), and she helps me sleep at night. She loves me unconditionally, and forgives me for being selfish and stupid from time to time. Nobody else does that. How can I weigh her life against something as stupid as two or three months' worth of rent payments.

I have some wonderful wonderful human friends-- and some of them have really been there for me when I've been in tight spots at various times. But believe me-- I've spent more time being content because SHE was content to be with me than I have just happy on my own account. So here it is.

The last few shreds of hope I have are that maybe the problem is something that can actually be fixed without surgery... or that I won the lottery last week and just don't know it yet. Because as much as I need a job, and want the opportunity to earn my way-- I'm going to feel like shit if I get a good-paying job within a few days or weeks of putting her to sleep for lack of funds.

I know that my desires are purely selfish here-- the desire to keep her alive, and the desire not to go into debt to do so. And I've realized, that as much as it's going to hurt-- whatever the outcome-- what I really want is for her to know I love her, and for her not to suffer. Whatever that means, I think I can make my peace with it. Eventually. After the heart-hurt eases a bit, and the empty spot starts to heal. I know I'm never going to fill her spot.

Today, I'm just sitting around waiting for news, researching dead-end financial options and grant moneys for emergency pet care, and crying. At least, after I made the vet appointment last night, she and I had the whole night to lay together and cuddle on the bed. And even though she had to get off the bed to vommit and have diareah about five or six times, she always made her way back up to where she could sleep on my arm, curled into my side.

God, Goddess, please let her live.


My Day Job

By night... research-maniak book-junkie icecream-whore...
I seriously love watching the same favorite DVDs over and over and over and over and over and

Oh, and someday I'm going to buy land and build a green house that is mostly off the grid and has a grey water system and a photovoltaic solar system (and probably the milkie way painted on the ceiling in glowy paint) and those awesome green self-contained wind turbines and a chicken coop and maybe some goats (mom, you can visit the goats, I promise) and an organic garden and a really cool root cellar and a lot of storage and a huge wooden dining table for gathering good friends and good food in the same place at the same time and a welsh corgie and a few cats and a really awesome high speed internet connection and...

By day? Writer. Empathic Listener, Seer, and Guide.
I come from a long line of wise women, and men with healing hands.
Add to that my vast and often painful foot locker of life experiences, my ability to research and retain random information, and my intense gift for reading the emotions of others-- and you've got one hell of a good Life Coach. Or, as my skills are more about your inner life than your outer-- a Guide.

I compose healing ceremonies based on individual energy patterns, lifestyle needs, comfort zones, and healing processes. I read Tarot, and I teach interpersonal communication. I see the beauty and the gift that each person is-- and can become-- to the world.

I am lucky to be alive, and my goal is to appreciate each day, and the choices I make, the things I do and learn and try and overcome with that day. My goal is to laugh with a friend, eat good food prepared with my own hands, practice moderation in all things, and embrace abundant living. I've studied Green Living. I've studied Green Building. I've studied Librarianship, Sexual Assault Prevention Education, Army Wifery, twelfth century monasteries in North Umbria, herbal healing techniques, Cat Wrangling, Relationship-Tool-Building, Chakra Healing, and any number of other skills or tools or moments in time that have caught my interest. I study life.

And I write about that life. On Factoidz, on's Student Affairs blog, on my various personal blogs, and in the memoir I'm composing about a specific thirteen-year period of my life. Every day is full of miracles. Every person has an important story to tell.

And all the children... are above average.


Part Pirate, Part Hopeless Wordsmith, Part Boring Librarian, Part Outrageous Feme, Part Homebody with Tweezers and a Lemon (don't ask), Part Crazy Cat Lady. Lessee... How many halves of the pie is that?