I am home again but I have one last post about Spain.
First, bar food. Something I absolutely miss. I made a little video over two evenings of bar food in the pueblo. Basic food to them but I thought it was amazing.
On one of my first days in the pueblo I was told by my housemate that it would be best if I greeted any local people I saw on the street. So anytime I biked or walked by a person I would say "Hola." It proved to be a good suggestion for sure. Especially the older people would stare/glare at me – the stranger – until I said hello, when they would break into a broad grin and usually say "Adios" or "Hasta Luego." This exchange always made me chuckle to myself. First of all, I always thought it amusing that even if the person didn't know me and may never see me again, they would often say "See you later." Secondly, the fact that I was saying hello and they were responding with goodbye always brought a smile to my face and the Beatle's song Hello Goodbye would inevitably start playing in my head. "I say hello, you say goodbye..."
Speaking of goodbyes, I made this video in my last days in Spain. I tried to capture all the last glimpses and pull them all together.
the grass was all dead and yellow when I got to Spain...by the time I was leaving the grass was growing again
I'm not sure I have quite enough distance from the experince to properly reflect on it. And yet I also worry I will forget some part of the experience and it will fade into the past like it never happened. Ridiculous fears, I know, but there nonetheless.
Today is Thanksgiving here. Despite feeling still in the middle of reentry and readjusting I am still feeling very thankful. I am so thankful for this time I had abroad...and at the same time I am thankful for being home. Happy American Thanksgiving!
the work of one of the other participants (click to enlarge)
My residency was supposed to end of Nov 9 – one month after I got there. But shortly after I arrived I realized a couple things: I love Spain, I am more and more intrigued by illustration, and an illustrator from Madrid was coming to La Fragua to each a workshop the weekend after I was supposed to leave. So I decided to stay another 5 days. Then my mom decided to come visit. So along with teaching my workshop for two afternoons last week and my mom and I also participated in Tipografía with Silja Goetz.
participants and teacherSilja is an illustrator and has a lovely resume of big names who have published her work. And along with being good at what she does, she is also a lovely person. I always appreciate meeting people who couple talent with warmth and a willingness to encourage others. Silja guided us through creating a-typical typography and willingly gave feedback throughout the process.
working on our typography projects and enjoying the beautiful weather
student workstudent work (click to enlarge)
I was feeling a little melancholy about leaving Spain and the pueblo, so the phrases the end and the beginning came to me. This past weekend felt like the end of so much and the beginning of so much. The end of Spain, spanish, my residency, and my time abroad. And yet everything feels like it is just beginning. My work is beginning to take form and my time in my residency gave it momentum.
I feel like my time in Spain has given me so much. When I think about it phrases come into my head like: Spain has given me wings to fly; Spain has given me legs to walk on, Spain has given me a path to follow, Spain has given me a boat to sail in. All of these things are a start. The start of a journey. This is the beginning as well as the end.
(click to enlarge)(click to enlarge)
And so my typography is rich with metaphor. I created the beginning from seeds piled up between rows of new sprouts of wheat. I created el fin (“the end” in spanish) from the curly tips of dead plants on stone. And the earth seemed to acknowledge my meaning. el fin blew away and the seeds of the beginning were carted off by ants – food for the masses. There is such power in metaphor.
blown away and carried away (click to enlarge)
My mom took advantage of the warm weather and extended growing season. She created GROW from stones and planted flowers in the letters.
grow by my mom
Mid-day on Saturday we got the change to see the cloisters of the convent. Really special.
On the last day we did a group project. Each participant was given a letter of L-A F-R-A-G-U-A and a uniform size to work with. I decided to capture La Fragua in drawing for my letter A (and thus to practice drawing because it still terrifies me). I drew the buildings most significant to my time there: the convent, the garden, the workshop, my house, the pilar (washing pool), the castle, and a few shops I frequented. In the end I was quite proud. Yet again I had surprised myself and wondered why drawing scares me so.
my A (click to enlarge)
My mom, of course, did what she does best and created a beautiful garland of flowers and leaves for her U.
a rough idea of what it looked like all together
We had a lot of fun just hanging out too. The energy of the place and the participants was relaxed and playful. I took some video footage to try to capture the moments.
In short, the weekend workshop was wonderful. Totally worth staying for.
I am currently sitting in the Madrid airport waiting for my flight to London. The blog posts have stacked up in the last 10 days. Just as I predicted this past week was very full and went very fast. My mom was here with me for the last 9 days. It was really fun to have her along. But more on that later...this post is about my show.
Last week I had a solo show in the pueblo of the work I created this month. This is what I wrote about my work in the show:
This current series of work is narrative and personal. Each piece starts with the intention to record an experience - an encounter, an emotion, or a memory – the things that make us human. Maps or other paper items are often found in the paintings to trigger a memory or thought and are placed in the painting to symbolize a person or experience. In this series most of the paintings include a home. The home symbolizes the self and the paintings tell the story of searching for the safe, loving feeling of being home. For the last couple years I have been searching for self-acceptance and self-love thus building my home, my place where I can feel safe inside myself. But I have also been searching for places in this world where I can feel safe and be myself. So the paintings often tell one of two stories: the struggle to find my place of safety inside myself or in the world.
The paintings are all done in encaustics – hot pigmented wax. The wax allows me to create texture, embed paper, and carve lines to build up and unify the paintings. I have been using this medium for three years and feel it best communicates the emotions in my work.
To help transport you all to my show I made a video. The footage is from the opening and then I included still shots of each of the pieces in the show. Enjoy!
The week of the show I also taught an encaustic workshop. My mom attended along with three women from the village. They had a lot of fun playing with the wax. I taught them the basics of working with wax, inscising, collage, stenciling, and accression.
This past weekend I took a trip first to Córdoba for a few hours and then to Granada for two nights. I’ve settled into the town here nicely and really love it, but I decided that I really should see something else since I am here. I am going to see Madrid properly this weekend with my mom when she arrives, but either Granada or Sevilla were a must too. So I chose Granada.
Friday morning I took the bus to Córdoba from our little pueblo. As I walked to the bus I started to panic. I thought I heard a bus is the distance. I tried to quell my fears by telling myself that there are lots of big vehicles on the road that might sound like a bus. The bus wasn’t due for an hour, or was is 30 minutes? No one seemed to know for sure. And that was the real reason for my anxiety. Online timetables and local information seemed to not agree. And that made me nervous. I am used to everything running like clockwork, but here it doesn’t. Here things happen when they happen and that’s about all you can really count on.
In general I like this. In general a world with less pressure and more room to enjoy the simple and beautiful things of life is better. It pushes me to let go and slow down and love this single, precious life I have. It teaches me to be more patient and respect the paths of others. It shows me just how insignificant my plans are in the grand scheme of things. But when it comes to busses - damn! - I wish they would reliable.
As it turned out the online timetable was correct and I was indeed an hour early. I had two churros and fresh squeezed orange juice in the cafeteria while waiting. And then I sat my the road in the freezing cold just so I would miss it. It turned up right at 9am. I could breath again.
I spent most of Friday in Córdoba. I went to the medieval synagogue, archeological museum, and did some shopping. I mainly bought clothes and scarves because I have so few here and the European styles are awesome. But I also bought these pink boots. Not my typical purchase. I am still kind of staring at them and scratching my head. Why did I buy them? I don't know.
the medieval synagogue in córdoba
the tiny San Bartolomé church in Córdoba...honestly the most amazing tiles I've seen anywhere
some amazing artifacts at the archaeological museum
eating octopus my first night in Granada
Saturday was my big day in Granada. I went on a tour of Alhambra and the Generalife gardens in the morning, walked around the Albayzín district in the afternoon, took a brief nap, and then went back to the Generalife gardens for a night visit. It was all amazingly beautiful.
Palacio de Carlos V...a renaissance edition after the catholic kings took back over
the gardens outside the entrance to the Palacio Nazaríes
I took so many photos in the Palacio Nazaries that I had to make a slideshow. 107 in total, so sit back and relax. It's worth it!
From the Nazaríes Palace we went to the Generalife Gardens.
my glimpse of the snow capped Sierra Nevada mountains before the clouds came inthe hedges and fountains of the Generalife Gardens
the summer palace
Part of why I went away this weekend was to be moving. I love bus rides, train rides, or even driving. Movement always seems to clear my head and unblock the words and images in my mind. I love how the land swishes by and the gentle rocking of the machine soothes me. I feel the tension ease and the smiles come as I watch sheep running through the field, observe the natural rise and fall of the hills and valleys, and spot each pueblo far ahead across the fields before we come to it.
Running water does the same thing. Sitting by or walking along running water unplugs something in my brain and calms me. The movement and the energy from it has great power in my life. That’s one of the reasons I love my bedroom here in the pueblo so much – I can always here the water running from the Pilar below. And also why I absolutely loved the Water Stairs in Generalife.
the water stairs (there is video footage of this too!)
My tour was moving so fast that I didn't get to shoot any video (though hundred of photos) in the Nazaríes Palace so I started shooting in the small Summer Palace in the Generalife gardens. Got a little bit of night shooting in too, but it is not fabulous.
As the video shows, I went from the gardens to Alcazaba – the fortress – and then down into the city before returning to the gardens at night.
the view from Alcazaba
courtyards and terra cotta roof tiles
the streets of the Pomegranate City (granada is pomegranate in spanish)
The city was full of amazing street art. Full murals could be found all over the place. I didn't get great pictures because most of it I saw from the busses, but here are some wonderful shots on flickr. This is one I saw while walking around.
street artsmall stone paved streets, good food and good views...and proving I was thereAfter a nap it was back to the gardens.
the summer palace at night
Again, too many photos to just put into the post. This slideshow is much shorter (only 21 photos) but beautiful in its own way.
I wish I could have captured what it was like to walk through the darker parts of the garden. But maybe there is something about drifting alone, silently through room after room, arch after arch of evergreen hedges that needs to be experienced for oneself. I think it is a journey that would actually be different for everyone. So I sealed the memory in my mind. Standing alone learning how to enjoy solitude in the night accompanied by the sliver of orange magnified moon sinking below the horizon.
I feel things changing, shifting. My time here is speeding up. More people are arriving before I leave and the house is going to fill up. My calm days full of silence are dwindling. So much change makes me a little uneasy – like a big wave – but I just need to fight the panicky feeling and boldly ride the wave home. And at the same time I crave being home. I think I just know the ride home is going to be a little more chaotic than the easy life I have gotten used to for the last few weeks.
I would come back to Spain in a heartbeat. I absolutely love it here. But right now, honestly, the holidays are calling me home. My dad turns 50 a few days after I get back. And there are pies to bake, traditions to keep, a house to decorate, parties to plan, more paintings to paint, shows to prepare for, and gifts to make. Holidays in New England are something I look forward to every year. And this year I will actually have time to enjoy it. The more snow the better. It was a snowy halloween so I’m hopeful for a White Christmas.
The feeling of a full life always brings my mind to the brink of exhaustion. I want a full life and so I absorb, I plan, I learn, I try, I jump, and I go. I open my eyes and take in everything. I open my mind and process the details. I stop and think about why and how. I paint and don't like it. I paint and like it. I paint and wonder if liking something is important. I get frustrated and go back to thinking. I find a better path and keep going. I get tired.
Life here in my residency is full. So full.
an evening of exploringdinner at Javi and Gaby's home
birds, the main occupants of the castle
La Fragua's harvest of olives; Javi is currently soaking them to remove the bitterness and then we will marinate themthe rainy season has begun
A piece of my heart is still in the United States, but the experience here is rich and oh so meaningful.
I have been painting a lot. Throught the down days I have come to learn the importance of moving forward – entering the studio each day to do something – and that something always adds up to something good eventually. I have begun a series of simple paintings that really focus the intentions that I have for each piece, each metaphor. The images are getting stronger and I like that. Still moving forward and getting somewhere.
losing my head (12x12" on panel)
beautiful things (12x12" on panel)
Almost completely forgot about the video I took a couple days ago.
And as you can hear in this video, my suitcase has been found (tags had fallen off evidently) and it is on its way. We will see just when it gets here. But at least it is not lost!
During my first week here in my residency Javi, Rosana and I took a trip to Córdoba...and it happened to be my birthday. La Fragua was having an opening for a show in Córdoba, which gave me a chance to gather some art supplies and seeing an amazing city. I am going back this week to see more, but this is what I saw on my first trip a couple weeks ago.
Let's start on the outside of the Mosque. La Mezquita de Cordoba was built on top of a ruined cathedral in 785 AD, but then when the Christians took back over in the 16th century they put a catherdral in the middle of it. So it is called the Mezquita-Catedral. It tells the story of change in the city. And it is absolutely stunning.
one of the outside doors of the mosquePuerta del Perdón: the 14th century gateway to the Mezquita/Mosque
As you go through the Puerta del Perdón you enter the Patio de los Naranjos, the Patio of the Oranges. I especially loved the aqueducts that delivered water to the orange trees.
Patio de los Naranjos (and dome in the Puerta del Perdón)aqueducts to water the orange trees
And then you go inside. And all the archtectural styles just mash together into something completely unique.
one of several painted domes
part of the maksura, muslim prayer enclosure
dome of the maksura
left: the cathedral; right: arches of the mosque
What struck me the most were the patterns. My eyes hurt from staring through my camera lens.
I was in awe of the great variety of patterns covering every surface
After spending a good, long time soaking up the mosque I explored the Juderia (jewish district), had a slice of Santos' famous tortilla (a giant cake of potato and egg), some tapas, and genuinely enjoyed Córdoba. I also did some birthday shopping for myself.
sights around the cityAnd then we went to the opening. The show features an audio composition of women talking about their mothers and the sea. It was composed by Hiroya Miyura. You can read more about the installation here.
Top: the audio installation complimented by mirrors; left: leaving the show; bottom: tapa and drinks afterward
I posted a little about the market in one of my other posts, but today I took a tiny bit of video too. And more photos. It really is wonderful to have so much good food...and cheaply!
Today I bought: 1 bundle of chard ... 0,50eu 1/2 kilo of handcut cured ham ... 9eu 1/2 small wheel of cured goat cheese ... 4eu 1 filet of white fish ... 1,28eu 5 carrots, 1 bundle of spring onions, and 1 bag of spinach ... 2eu
The goat cheese is great. Strong and bold. As it should be.
Lunch today was sliced tomatoes from the garden drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt with fresh bread, cured ham, and goat cheese.
Dinner tonight was leftover lentil leek soup that I made Sunday with seeded bread and goat cheese.
I am going to pan fry the fish tomorrow for dinner and sautee the greens to have with it.
This past Saturday there was a lovely fall festival at La Fragua. As part of the festival there was an agricultural-art installation (planting of wheat..see video), food by Pablo, a dancing workshop, and a concert. Enjoy!
one of the flower arrangements I made large pic: fresh squeezed pomegranate juice from the farm next door (I took the picture of Izara and then she took the one of me.)Pablo and Gaby the agricultural-art installation in progress
Enjoy the music and dancing on the second half of the video too...after the sizzling meat and planting of seeds. Video captures music and dancing better than photos do.
Chopping garlic for Pablo's amazing sauce.
Ribs with Pablo's amazing sauce and tomato-cabbage salad, empanadas, and for desert: dulce de leche crepes!Uma...cute as a button
pomegranates for juice-making tomorrow (and another plant for decoration)
It is getting late here and there is a big festival at La Fragua tomorrow. The festival combines agriculture with art, food, and music...everything La Fragua is about. I am still loving it here. Finally feel some momentum with my art (more on that below).
This was going to be a quick update, but there are so many photos and video clips I want to share. So much inspiration and loveliness. So here it all is in a big lovely pile.
First, a video of me taking about a typical morning of trying to do stuff and not really getting anywhere fast.
The thorn that punctured my bike tire. Seriously one sharp plant!
The Market, Gourmet Foods Shop, and the Carpenter (and the pig!)
love this pink bicycle...and an old man was riding it which made it that much cuterA video of the plaza at sunset. The birds are incredible in this video. Give a watch! This was yesterday hanging out with Gaby and Uma.
These guys were hanging out next to the road when I was biking to the convent this morning. I just love those bells.
Pablo made Rosana and me an amazing Italian dinner the other night. I made the antipasto platter under his direction. His sauce was amazing!
Dinner and Dancing with Pablo and Rosana
So now for an art update.
Yesterday and today I finally felt some energy behind my work in the studio. I had energy and intention. Last week was hard because everything was new and my supplies were (and still are) lost and I had to find everything. This week I had a bad cold at the beginning of the week and so I focused on sleeping and eating soup. Now I am feeling better and moving forward.
I feel momentum, which is great. In particular because two days ago I was really hoping that I would find my momentum and get going. I actualy wrote:
"I am hoping that I am pedaling uphill, because I am working but it feels hard. I am hoping that this path is not actually flat and I am just weak. I hope the path I am on is taking me up so that at some point I will be able to coast down with momentum and start painting with furvor and results. I hope this is the uphill."
And it seems that was the uphill. I spent a lot of time thinking about my paintings, sketching and staring at my materials trying to figure out the best ways to make do with what I have. Well, I feel the hard times have lead to fruitful times again and for now I am moving quickly. Today I stayed at the convent until after dark. I painted for about 7 hours. Riding home in the dark with the stars was beautiful, but a little scary.
Some of my latest work here: (and they do link to larger versions this time)
Pilgrimage (12x24" on panel; encaustic and oil)Losing It 1 & 2 (12x12" on panel; encaustic)When All Feels Lost 1 & 2 (12x12" on panel; encaustic mixed media)Climbing and The Garden (some fun warm-up pieces I did; ~7x7" encaustic on panel)Lay My Head to Rest (12x12" on panel; encaustic and oil)No Plan (12x12" on panel; encaustic)the convent as I was leaving this evening
Yesterday you saw the workshop in my video about making wax medium. So this is a tour of the rest of the space at El Convento de Santa Clara. Still have to do a tour of where we live and the village, but this is a start. Also have some footage of working at the convent that I will put together soon as well.
I am actually not feeling great. I think its just a bad cold, but I took the afternoon off and made soup, watched Glee, and slept. Going back to bed now and hoping to feel on the mend tomorrow.
I had a good conversation yesterday with a woman at Parcelforce about my suitcase, but she said she would email me and she hasn't. I'm trying not to feel discouraged again. I was really hoping for some news. I made a little piece about my lost suitcase today. I just played around with backgrounds and mixing wax with oil paint today since I didn't feel great.
I have so many great little videos from here to show you all, so here is one for tonight. Have you ever filtered hot liquid through a pair of boxers? Oh, gosh! Don't answer that! This video is of me making wax medium last week.
This video is not intended to be instructional! Just showing you how I made wax medium while abroad.
the castle reflected in el pilar (the washing pool)
I arrived here at La Fragua in Belalcázar a week ago. Life here is beautiful. There is so much to appreciate everyday. I have time and space to think and create. I have a beautiful place to work and a beautiful place to live. I have a bedroom with a terrace that overlooks a castle. I have internet so I can stay in touch with friends and family and blog. And I have amazing things to see and eat, which is what most of this post is about.
It took a while to get all my supplies together, but now I am mostly there and starting to paint. It also took a couple days to get acquainted with the pueblo, or village, and learn where to buy bread, meat, cheese, produce, and other groceries. I also took a trip to Córdoba on my birthday last Thursday. Javi and Rosana from here at the residency were going for an art opening and I used the opportunity to get a lot of my supplies and to see the famous architecture there. I will post about that trip soon.
a view of the full moon rising – from my terrace
Being here is a full sensory experience. Right now I am writing from my desk in my room. The windows are open to my terrace and the castle on the hill right outside the pueblo.
the view I wake up to, work to, and love
I hear water running from the old stone pool (el pilar) – where women used to do their washing before the days of machines – flowing into the stream down below. I hear pigeons – always pigeons cooing – and when I am at the convent the sound of the pigeons reverberates against the stone and permeates everything else. I hear hundreds of other birds twittering and chirping (the castle is a favorite home for them). I hear the rooster. I hear the bell which tolls the hours. I often hear dogs barking, cats meowing, the workers building a house a couple doors down (which often is my morning wake-up call), children yelling, babies crying, greetings and instructions yelled in spanish, distant cars and 4-wheelers zipping around the hillsides. I hear how all sounds echo and travel here because we live in a world of tile and stone. I hear a chair scrape and the door shut on the other side of the house.
around the pilar
my house is the one with all the white arches on the terrace; my terrace is the top one
the whole view from my terrace
I see the hills closest to me covered in rows of olive trees. I see the farther hills covered in yellow grass because the rains have not come yet. I see flocks of birds flying from tree to castle to rooftop. I see white stucco houses with courtyards, archways and terra cotta tiled roofs. I see stone walls – old and new, maintained and crumbling. I see the plant I bought for my terrace’s table with its pink and orange blooms sitting in the bright orange pot I bought too. I see children on laptops using the free public wifi in the plaza surrounding the washing pool. I often see adults, children, dogs, cats, and an occasional horse. I see the house they are building and I watch the progression each day. I see the castle. I see the crumbling stonework, the grass growing on the top of the walls and towers, an old archway, the detailed pattern of the more elaborate stone decorations on the main tower, the graffiti sprayed onto the stones and on the little white house that sits in front of the castle, and the giant nests of storks (which have flown south to Africa for the winter; the nests sit on top of almost every tall building or tower in the pueblo). I see all of this framed in the two white arches that form the outer edge of my terrace.
a walk around the castleproving my badass-ness and climbing an old arch (there was a path, but yes I was on top of that)
the ruined white house in front of the castle
I taste the many wonderful foods that are typical to eat here. I taste the almonds, eggplant, onions, tomatoes, basil, beans, peppers, and garlic that I gather from the garden at the convent and cook in various ways. I taste fresh oven-baked bread. I taste farm fresh eggs. I taste cured ham, which in the states we know as prosciutto (and evidently I have only had the poor quality packaged variety; going to get it fresh cut tomorrow). I taste olives – olives stuffed with garlic, olive oil, and whole olives. I taste cheese and there are only fresh and gourmet cheeses here that beg to be savored and paired with various other foods. I taste rich, local wine – mostly red (white wine here is strong and sweet but tastes almost like it is mixed with vodka; they call it fino). I taste Pablo’s homemade empanadas filled with meat, vegetables, olives and hardboiled egg. I taste tapas sandwiches made with different combinations of sardines, tuna, anchovies, meat and cheeses. I taste fried calamari, tiny eggplants in vinegar, fries covered in cheese and hot sauces, potato and egg torta, fried nuggets of tuna salad, smoked salmon and raw cod with tomato paste on bread (“spanish sushi”), potato and tuna salad, fried cod and so many other tapas (I will write a whole post on tapas, promise). I taste dulce de leche, coffee, and almond gelato. Most recently I tasted Fanta soda made with real lemon juice and real sugar.
TAPAS! (clockwise from top right): patatas bravas and calamari, garlic stuffed olives, shrimp and vinegar marinated eggplant, olives and cheese, "spanish sushi" raw fish on bread, potato and tuna salad, tuna in sauce, manchego cheese and crackers. cooking
I smell tomato sauce that Rosana, my housemate, made from the tomatoes in the garden. I smell basil every time I come and go from the convent because it grows by the gate. I smell hot olive oil when I cook. I smell baking bread and cooking meats when I bike through the pueblo. I smell the frying dough of churros in the churreria. I smell all the amazing foods I have eaten, as smell is part of taste. I smell tobacco smoke because almost everyone here smokes. I smell the sunscreen I try to remember to put on my face everyday. I smell the stinging stench of manure when I bike past the farms. I smell hot beeswax when I paint and everyone comments on how nice it smells. I smell the scent of the soap Ben and I bought in Barcelona and the smell of the new soap I bought here – both different from the soap I use at home. I smell dust and exhaust. I smell earth and plants.
churros in hot chocolate
around el pueblo
snack time: almonds from the garden
I feel sun warming me all the way through – constant sun. I feel the warm air blowing my hair back behind me when I ride my bike. I feel the wax and the textures I create with it. I feel the ripeness of fruits and vegetables. I feel the readiness of pasta. I feel the ancient stonework and wonder what stories it could tell. I feel the wind when it blows mightily through the convent. I feel the cool tile beneath my feet. I feel the coolness inside the stone buildings contrasting with the intense heat outside. I feel the heat of the day give way to the cool of the night, only to slowly come to hot again the next day. I feel the blister on my foot from walking all over Córdoba. I feel where I stubbed my toe yesterday. I feel where I scraped myself the day before. I feel sharp grasses scrape my ankles as I walk around the castle. I feel the peeling skin on my nose because it seems to always be a little burnt. I feel hot showers relaxing and refreshing me. I feel the new leather of the purse and the weight of the thick silver earrings I bought in Córdoba (the city is known for leather and silver). I feel the heavy bags I bike with as I bring supplies to the convent and vegetables home.
a visitor at the convent today
the reason I am here; first paintings in Spain
Every morning I wake up and greet the castle outside my window. Every morning I feel eternally grateful to be here.