USA Memorial Day Weekend Is Upon Us And Sales Are A-Sale-ing

Summer. This is my favorite time of year in Northern California – the upswing to solstice, the blue skies, the grasses beginning to burn.

I’ve read that Memorial Day sales are in fact better than Black Thursday’s. Not sure why that is, time to shed inventory, or an observed tendency for consumers to buy for summer, but whatever, we can take advantage.

So here are a few options. From up to 40% at designer goods at department stores like Nordstrom,

and my pals, Neiman Marcus,

or plus sizes at Saks (sorry these images are blurry, it’s a Saks quirk and I cannot seem to fix it),

to a few tees from my favorite brands and retailers.


This bathing suit (and a bunch of other stuff) from J. Crew is 30% off with code WEEKEND.

J. Crew Ruched Suit

And, because don’t you kind of want one? This satin bomber jacket from ASOS, in tall and petite sizes is 20% off with code HISUMMER. I even like the code itself.

Satin Bomber Jacket In Tall

Happy summer everyone. Hope it’s shown its face by now to everyone in this hemisphere.

The Great Candle Burn-Off #3: Jo Malone Grapefruit vs. P.F. Candle Company Sweet Grapefruit


Time for the third in this epic series of Candle Burn-Offs (#1 and #2.) We’re getting closer to true competition, I feel, fewer random retail pickups, increased intention. Anything worth doing is worth doing well. That sounds arrogant. OK, anything worth doing is worth trying to do well. More subjunctive in feeling, and therefore High WASP-appropriate.

Enter the amphitheatre, British candle queen Jo Malone! Cheers! Duck under the ropes, Los Angeles indie brand, P.F. Candle Co., to howls of approval. Let the burning begin. This time, tangy, tongue-tingling citrus. Jo Malone Grapefruit vs. P.F. Candle Co. Sweet Grapefruit.


I bought the Jo Malone candle with a Neiman Marcus return credit. Swooshed into the San Francisco store like a Grande Dame, Helloooooo rotunda!, and out. A reader recommended P.F. Candle, I ordered from Shoptiques, a site that allows you to shop from boutiques all over the world. This time we drew Orange County.

Jo Malone story: In fact, Jo Malone is a real person, and in fact, she sold her company to Estee Lauder in 2006. She’s now fragrancing at Jo Loves, a new business very like her first.

P.F. Candle story: No P, no F per se, but the husband and wife team. Kristen Pumphrey and Thomas Neuberger, have been making their candles – by hand – since 2008. The P and F stand for “Pommes Frites,” because, homophone for Pumphrey. Good to know, and now I’m going to forget the derivation, since I do not want to breathe deeply and think of french fries, unless I’m parked in front of a bistro steak and a glass of vin rouge.



Jo Malone’s candle gives you 7.5 oz and 45 hours of burn time for $65.00. P.F. Candle, 7.2 oz and 40-50 hours burn time for $18.00. Indie prices for the win.


Packaging, Design & Materials

These are both exceptionally well-branded and packaged products. I never pass a Jo Malone display without wanting to smell something, alternatively, to tie on a brown ribbon or start speaking in an English accent. P.F. Candle also pays attention to details. You might have thought brown glass, kraft paper and typewriter font had been overdone, as might I, but no. Something about the No. 10 designation and the uppercase font works here.

It’s not clear, however, that Jo and P.F. are equally non-toxic. While Queen Jo (as owned by Lady Estee) uses “lead-free” wicks, she does not disclose her wax. P.F. is very clear about their materials, soy wax, cotton core wicks. Big check in their favor.



Hmm. Jo Malone is burning crookedly, and with the occasional black flame. Might be I forgot to melt the wax all the way across the candle on the first burn. Or, might be inconsistent quality. P.F. is burning beautifully, straight, clean. The crowd begins to murmur, “Jo, say it isn’t so!”


The Scent Itself

And here the wax meets the wick. Jo’s candle suffers from that terrible “department store smell.” P.F. Sweet Grapefruit may not smell like grapefruit, per se, but it is sugar-y and citrus-y and pleasant. My own tastes run more to the salt and sand of India Hicks, but if you like sweet and tangy blossom perfume, this is your candle.


You guessed it: P.F. Candle No. 10., Sweet Grapefruit. On sale today for $13.99 down from $18.00. I prefer Jo Malone’s packaging, a tad, but this isn’t a Box and Ribbon-Off. Flame And Scent take the day.

The Candles As They Portray Themselves


Links may generate commissions. Thank you reader Danielle for the P.F. Candle recommendation. Much appreciated.

To Feel Relief Or Not, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:43am


I hired someone to come every other week and clean my house. I managed two good walks. I cooked an actual dinner, twice. And so life flirts with normal. I am in no way ready to say we’re clear, my mom is not yet stabilized, too many factors in flux. I’ll take one moment.

Which brings up a question –  how to approach life when you’ve just been through a series of emergencies? Better to focus on optimism? Enjoy the calm even if it may disappear like grass on fire? Or better to wake up in a state of high alert, imagining the worst cases and living through them in advance. Hmm.

I do understand the principle of yogic calm. Live in the moment. I think that works really well for general anxiety and modern discomfort. But during prolonged difficulty, you have to review the past for hints of a pattern, observe the present for data, and forecast a future. Or, futures with an S, because nothing is yet certain.

I guess that’s the nature of emergencies. Nothing is yet certain.

Here’s something else. The ebbing of distress feels good. When you’ve been flat out coping, and then you have time to actually take a walk, or, hey, get your house cleaned, or restake that olive tree that you worry that it isn’t getting enough sunlight, regular tasks feel like little jigs.

I’m not going to argue that everyone should go out and get themselves a crisis, but, maybe, as recompense for all this work, in future my being can better acknowledge the underlying layer of non-pain of my usual life.

Have a good weekend everyone. Deep breaths all around.


Possibly The Coolest Sturdy Gal Sunglasses In The World?


Yes, I am standing in a field of dry grass, in front of a trailer park. Yes, that is my 59-year old stomach. Good detective skills, my friend.

However, I’m wearing new Ray-Bans, so I look more cool than idiotic. I am perhaps exaggerating. Let’s back up.

It is an almost universal tenet of personal style that accessories, or a concerted lack thereof, make the woman. The Grande Dame, even in casual mode, must sport her silk scarf, a luxurious bag, a strand of pearls. Reggie Darling knows her well. The Artsy Cousin may wear a scarf, but it will be woven, may carry a bag, but it will be woven, may wear pearls, but, if possible, those will be woven too.

The Sturdy Gal, however, hates anything that flaps or smacks of cossetting. She accessorizes with excellent sneakers, chandelier earrings, and an lovely but unflashy bag or two. If she has any aspirations to Cool (or loves outdoor sports, either way), she wears Ray-Bans.  And, if she’s over-45, she wears hers with prescription progressive lens, because missed freeway exits and blurred pool reading are more than she can endure for simple fashion.


Occasionally she stands, mirror sunglassed by the side of Highway 101, on a long stretch of land that shape-shifts between heritage agrarian and retail sprawl.

Do we even need to ask why Ray-Bans? Because, Ray-Bans. We might wonder, why aviators? The trend is probably two or three years old? I am late to the party, but like sneakers and jeans, I hope aviators last. Nothing is timeless, but we Sturdy Gals want our value even from luxury.

So why now? Ray-Bans’ new website, which I discovered when putting together this post, is super cool. I’d love to design my own pair. Like these. Blue-gray lenses, matte silver frame, clear ear tips, and, get this, a hidden monogram. LPC in Arial. On my sunglasses. Ha!


Although, if I were buying off the rack, I might go for these, ornamented, or these with psychedelic lenses.

But we still haven’t addressed the field of grass and hard-scrabble photos. Having moved my mom to an assisted living facility in the Bay Area a couple of weeks ago, soon thereafter my middle sister and I drove back down to Santa Barbara. Meeting with estate sale firms and a property management company. My sister and I hadn’t done a roadtrip alone since I graduated college in 1978. We drove cross-country in an unreliable Alfa Romeo sedan, Bonnie Tyler on the cassette player. It’s a heartache, nothing but a heartache. Surely you remember?

In that spirit, we stopped for a sunglasses photo shoot. I posed under the blue freeway sign. I scrambled back to the chain link fence and, laughing, took out my hair elastic. Raised my arms in so doing, hence, belly.

Then a policeman pulled over and told us to get back in our car. Non-emergency stops are illegal on highways. Did you know that? No ticket. Sunglasses camaraderie?

By the way the Gal might wear diamonds, pearls, an Apple Watch, a UNIQLO tee, Levis, and Doc Martins with her Ray-Bans. The pearls are apt to be bronze or lavender, the diamonds largish but easy to hide. Tees are tees (although, wait, this is from Liberty of London x UNIQLO and I probably need it), Levis are Levis, Docs are Docs. While Cool may be generally recognized, to each her own Classic.


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We Are Not Flightless Birds On Stairways, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:36am

If you look back at this week you will see that my plan to keep blogging as though my mother weren’t moving into assisted living, her house did not need to be shown to property management companies, the furniture did not need to be reviewed for an estate sale, failed.

You are not dummies.

We won’t go into details. The stories don’t belong to me. However.

I have learned that a series of pretty dang awful things can happen, that one should never say, “It’s going as well as can be expected” because then it won’t. And yet one foot can still be put in front of the next. And yet the people you love and value really come through in a pinch and you probably knew that in the back of your mind when you came to love and value them.

These are not revelations of a dramatic nature.

But there’s a lot of headroom in life. You can keep stepping up a lot of stairs of adversity, really, all the way to the floor of “I am NOT going to see the good in this, guys,” before you bump into the ceiling. So far my family is still standing up straight. I’m not going to say we’re lucky, or “At least not this other thing,” because while I’m more of a dummy than you guys I’m not a complete dodo and stuff does just keep happening. Focusing now on far less taking good fortune for granted and far fewer premature sighs of relief.

Dodo brain. That’s the phrase we used to say when we were little. Probably my mom invented it? But I’m suddenly aware of what that means. I guess dodos hit the ceiling. I’m so sorry dodos, you guys had a real reason to complain.

I know people talk about descending to the depths but to me it feels more like you keep going up. One foot, another foot. Pause, sleep, sigh, vent, hug, another foot.

Today I’m taking off from hospitals, insurance, finances, contracts, and Walgreen runs. I plan to go on a long walk across a hill with my husband.

I can’t say we’ve been lucky these past several days, but the fuchsias are blooming wildly and I’m feeling grateful. Probably because I got some sleep last night and it’s 8:36am and I’m still sitting on my sofa.

Have a very good weekend. I do in fact have two blog posts underway, and I will in fact be talking about candles and sunglasses again soon.


Silk Flowers Turn Out To Be OK, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:26am

So, Mom.

You all know it’s Mother’s Day tomorrow, here in the USA.

So, Mom.

I am by no means the world’s best daughter. Never was. But this is my time to make sure the deal’s even. That Mom is repaid for all the work she did and all the worry she felt trying to do a Good Job. Repaid sounds venal. I don’t exactly mean repaid.

The work of motherhood is most demanding in the days when our children are least capable of thanks. I remember my first thank you. I put my 3-month old daughter in her car seat, buckled her in, closed the door, and walked around behind the car to the driver’s side. I sat down and saw that my daughter’s eyes had followed me. An infant thank you.

I never wanted to make my little ones feel they were in debt. I felt so lucky to have them. As the kids grew up, I did want them to know I’d worked hard, but I still cringe at wanting to know if I’ve been a good mother. At the thought of asking.

(The Full Truth Of Shower Thoughts, Or, Saturday Morning at 11:52. I thought, as I took a shower this morning, after this post went up. In fact, what I want to know from my kids and don’t want to ask is, do you really love me? In my experience, people rarely love you for doing a Good Job. They love you for the ineffable delight of your being. That’s where the “Sturdy Gal” came from. She does good work, but rarely ignites the full sparkle type of love. That’s more personal sharing than usual. But, on the day before the first Mother’s Day after I settled my mom into assisted living, I respectfully request a pass.)

My mother was even less able to ask for reassurance than I, and therefore more in need. Also, she didn’t have a blog which would allowed her to ask indirectly. The technology of 2106, helping us in ways we couldn’t predict. Why doesn’t motherhood come with a gauge? Red lights of warning, green lights of All Is Well Good Job Mom!

So Mom, I am sorry I told you I didn’t respect you, when I was 16. I can forgive myself a little but not all the way. I am hoping that actions over decades count more than in-the-moment feelings and words.

I’ll be up to visit you tomorrow. And probably next Thursday too. Fridays aren’t good because they will take your group out to lunch. I’ll sort out a routine.

I’ll look for some silk flowers to put outside your room so you have a hope of finding it. Albeit a slim hope. Albeit possibly an imaginary hope. I know you always thought silk flowers were declassé but, realities. I’ll buy a nicer wastebasket. Some more cotton shirts to replace all those silk tunics that can’t be laundered. If you ever wanted to know you were a good mother, this is your answer. As best as I can give it.

Or Mom, if you like, I give you permission to take credit for any and all of my good behavior, such as it is. Does that seem like a good deal?

Life is an odd bird. We have to act on faith.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone.

The Privilege Annual Report To The Board – Wrapping Up 2015


Over the years I’ve habitually reported on the workings of this blog to the “board.” That means you. Doing so feels right, it’s a way to retain transparency without cluttering my writings with this kind of statement; “If you click HERE I will earn $0.16, if you buy THIS I will earn $4.05.” Or, on the other hand, “THIS has no monetization, your click will generates no profit of any sort.”

And, as always when one summarizes one’s efforts for a kind audience, the act of reviewing is useful to the worker herself. No further ado.

The Statistics of “Privilege” The Blog

  • 65,100 page views/month – holding steady from 11/2014
  • 25,200 unique visitors/month – up 20% from 11/2014
  • 53% repeat visitors – down 10% from 11/2014
  • 3500 subscribers (including email, Feedly, Blogger, Bloglovin’) email subscribers come to the blog and thus are included in page views, the others read in their platforms of choice and thus are not. Up ~15%

Strategic Issues

2015 didn’t surface many questions of readership strategy. Feels like the blog grows organically, as will most satisfying projects. I made very few efforts to promote Privilege last year. Few guest posts, if any, no brand competitions. Any press has been accidental; any mentions in the blogosphere just a conversation between friends.

As for content, I have made the transition from all personal style all the time to what is generally termed, in the blogosphere,  “lifestyle.”

We can deconstruct that word another day.

Monetization – 2015 Gross Income

  • Earnings via affiliate sales: ~$2000
  • Earnings via sponsored posts: ~$600
  • Earnings via ads and other paid clicks: ~$8000
  • Total up 5x from 2014

Strategic Issues

As you see, my earnings increased significantly, although they do not approach professional levels. Why the growth? I switched my primary monetization tool from RewardStyle to ShopStyle. RS uses affiliate links, i.e., commissions on sales, SS is a pay-per-click model. I have also established PPC relationships with some advertisers. This approach has been more profitable for me, and also feels more in line with my writings – i.e., while I’m not always saying “Shop for this,” I’m often saying, “Look at this, think about this, imagine this.”

I’d like now to revisit the question, why monetize at all? Reports to the board rely on bullet points.

  • Monetization provides a metric for someone like me who simply cannot relinquish the concept of achievement. I enjoy seeing the click results come in. They are like little chirps of companionship and participation.
  • And, as I said in 2014, in retirement these earnings are by no means nothing. They facilitate new sneakers, native plants, a jacket, a tray.

What are the risks of monetization? Alienating people, of course.

As it turns out, this process is somewhat self-regulating. If I don’t offer enough monetized links, I don’t get the feedback I enjoy. If I offer too many, you leave.  A lot of inner dialogue ensues, sometimes other bloggers raise their voices on the topic. I listen to them, but I continue. I listen to you who read and support the blog even more. Monetization talks, but emails from readers are more articulate.

Extraordinary Items

I usually take a break after one of these reports, like accountants after Tax Day. But last year, during several months of illness that kept me sofa-bound, I kept writing. It sustained me. This year, as it happens, we have just moved my mother into an assisted living facility. Her Alzheimer’s has progressed to the stage where she cannot remain at home. She needs a schedule of meals, activities, and sleep that even full-time home care can’t provide. As the only retired sibling, I’m doing much of the leg and paperwork. That’s as it should be, but I’d like to wait to take a blog break until the process is completed.

That means I’ll be here writing, occasionally distracted, always aware of the privilege. Onward. Thank you very much for reading. Those who comment, and it is by no means required, we’ve heard again and again that you are one of the best parts of this blog. Thank you for talking.

Winner Of The Blue Nile Diamond Necklace Giveaway

Claire H! Congratulations! Your first Mother’s Day, congratulations on that too! Please send me an email at skyepeale (@) yahoo (dot) com with your mailing address, and I will put it in the post to you tout de suite.

I loved the comments. You are all such stylish women, it’s a pleasure to envision your outfits.

Meanwhile, I’m still thinking about these earrings.

But how many pairs of danglers does one woman really need?

Thank you so much for playing along, and for contributing your stories.


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Everything I Now Believe About The Long-Term Project Of Cooking For Two People


You asked me to report back with findings about how to cook for two, in retirement. OK then! Cooking isn’t my usual writing realm, but I do love a high level analysis of a carefully observed process.

To optimize anything, one must first understand both the desired outcomes and the constraints.

Desired Outcomes, AKA What We Like In This House

  • One of us prefers a main dish + sides model, the other would rather multiple smalls
  • One enjoys meat fat, the other does not, both try to avoid it for the most part
  • One of us wants to reduce meat consumption to save the planet
  • One insists on green, orange, and every color vegetables, the other would be happy living on onions, mushrooms, cabbage and tomatoes
  • Both have a metabolic need for a lot of protein
  • Both care about weight management
  • One of us needs sauce in a meal, the other, not so much
  • One really likes soup, the other, not so much
  • Both of us like Italian and Asian foods, neither of us care overly for Tex-Mex or French
  • One of us would love to learn how to cook Peruvian food but never has

Process constraints, AKA, Life Is Not A Bowl Of Cherries, Per Se

  • One of us works long and demanding hours, one has a flexible schedule of blogging, consulting, and volunteering
  • One of us likes to cook, nobody likes to clean up (AKA I do almost all the cleanup, it is my job)
  • The kitchen is part of of the living room. Ain’t no closing up that kitchen and forgetting about it.

High-Level Takeaways

  • Here’s what I can sustain: I cook 2 nights/week multiple dishes for a really good dinner; 3 nights/week something to add to leftovers or make a basic meal; once a week we eat out; once a week we take home, often from Whole Foods. I can’t “cook” more than that, at least not with equanimity.
  • I like to start the prep in the early afternoon whenever possible. Somehow just making sure my kitchen is clean and the pots are ready soothes my soul. I also take anything that should be at room temperature for cooking out of the fridge.
  • (Cleaning the kitchen in the morning, BTW, is my new thing. Thanks guys. Never could do stand to do it after complex dinner prep.)
  • Time spent finding good and repeatable new recipes is useful: so is time spent learning basic skills and cooking truths. In other words, read or watch YouTube videos on things like how to roast low and slow, or how to get a good wok sear. The more technique you understand, the less you then have to rely on recipes. That is obvious to those of you who have been a daily home cook for a long time. Since I was a good dinner party cook who relied on a sensitive nose to choose recipes, and fast reading to execute them, I’m still learning.
  • You can use up almost every bit of food you buy.
  • Cook soy sauce and chili paste on the wok, not on the food. It tastes better.
  • I flirt with non-refrigeration and reboiling for soups and stews. Not recommended, per se, but it does reduce the amount of pot washing.
  • If you are halving a recipe with a lot of fractional quantities, write down the new measures. Math over a hot stove is tricky.
  • You don’t have to plan every meal of the month, or even week, to find your own rhythm.
  • Great tools are a great help.

An Archetypal Week Of Cooking And Kitchening In This New World – Spring Weather Version

  1. Saturday. Grocery shop with my husband. Buy ingredients for 2-3 dinners, without a recipe in mind. Meat, dark greens, grillable vegetables, bones for soup. That night, grill some meat and asparagus with mustard vinaigrette, make rice noodles with a dipping soy/vinegar/mustard sauce, add a can of chopped tomatoes to the beef bone broth with meatballs that is sitting in a pot on the stove from yesterday.
  2. Sunday. Simple stir-fry of chicken breast cut into 1/2 inch cubes, cooked fast in a wok with soy sauce or chili paste, chicken removed to a colander, some kind of vegetables thrown into the same wok, reheated, chicken added back, then a dash of black vinegar or soy. Steamed rice. Final serve of beef soup.
  3. Monday. Flank steak with chimichurri sauce (I use more oil than they say, and an immersion blender), seared in a cast iron skillet on the stove and finished in the oven. Steamed broccoli or a salad. Pasta with simple sauce of carmelized onions, oregano, wine, and canned chopped tomatoes.
  4. Tuesday. Stop by the fishmonger’s after yoga. Madhur Jeffrey’s fish curry, sauteed spinach, basmati rice. A smidgen of leftover steak.
  5. Wednesday. Out to dinner.
  6. Thursday. Another Whole Foods run. Baked chicken breasts (best juicy chicken breasts ever), fried leftover rice with leftover vegetables and maybe some added leftover sausage or ham from last weekend if I have it, stir-fried celery with soy sauce. Because there’s always celery.
  7. Friday. Take out from the local Hawaiian barbecue place, plus leftovers, plus a bowl of pasta with frozen peas, garlic, and parsley from the chimichurri. Foraging, in other words.
  8. Imaginary Day: An actual week might be a little less optimal than this imaginary calendar. I’m now trying to build in more capacity for meal change and improvisation, to compensate for how little I enjoy planning a full week.

Speaking Of Tools In My Kitchen, Old And New, Stuff So Useful It Inspires Affection

Cookbooks And Blogs In Rotation

A Recipe For Galbijjim Optimized To Dirty As Few Pots As Humanly Possible (Adapted from Korean Bapsang and “Growing Up In A Korean Kitchen”)

Marinade Ingredients

  • 1 Asian pear, peeled and grated, or, half a green apple, half a Western pear, and a little lemon juice
  • 4 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons corn syrup or 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3 green onions, white and pale green part only, minced
  • 2 cloves minced or pressed garlic
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 8 toasted walnuts, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper (freshly ground)

Other Ingredients

  • 3 lbs lean beef ribs cut into 2-inch chunks
  • Vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 carrot in 3 pieces
  • Bay leaf
  • Peppercorns (10? 20?)
  • 1/2 sweet potato, diced 1/2 inch
  • 1/2 daikon radish, diced 1/2 inch
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced 1/2 inch


  • Soak ribs for 1 hour in ice and cold water in medium-large heavy stockpot or Dutch oven. This removes the blood and impurities. Rinse ribs, wipe out pot
  • To make stock, cover ribs in water in same pot and boil for 1/2 hour, adding a bay leaf, 12 peppercorns, 2 squashed garlic cloves, 1 long carrot, ~ 3 tablespoons, one long piece of kelp or 1 oz rehydrated dried shiitake mushrooms
  • Take ribs out, rinse, put in bowl covered in plastic wrap
  • Get rid of vegetables etc. in stock, cool it in a bowl in fridge for a couple of hours, then skim off the fat (if you do this overnight, pour the stock over the ribs and let them cool together, so the ribs don’t dry out)
  • Use 2 ribs to render some beef fat in that same stockpot, take them back out
  • Cook in the rendered beef fat 1/2  sweet potato in 1/2 inch dice and 1/2  yellow onion in a 1/2 inch dice
  • Make marinade
  • Add ribs to the pot
  • Add marinade
  • Add 3 cups defatted stock
  • Simmer for 1 1/2 hours
  • Add radish, and cooked sweet potatoes and onions, simmer for additional 1/2 hour uncovered to reduce sauce

Serve with steamed rice, and some kind of sauteed greens. This recipe has all kinds of flexibility. You can use anything from cabbage to dates, yes, dates, in place of sweet potatoes and radishes. The key is to play with levels of umami and sweetness, so the dish becomes your own.

I hope I get better at cooking daily, but, if not, we’ve reached Good Enough. Helpful tips always welcome.

Into The Sky, Or, Saturday Morning at 6:34am

I have a long day ahead. But, it promises the long California sky so out I go into the blue.

I’ve added Katura Designs’ Mother’s Day discount to yesterday’s post – river pearls and rough diamonds, that much closer.

Have a wonderful weekend. Sustain each other as best you can.