November 30, 2012

Hilltop Drive

Hilltop Drive 
By John R. Greenwood

To the end of Hilltop Drive I go. Hilltop Drive the rising road to nowhere and everywhere. It's a place where life begins and where life ends. A spot where quiet dominates and noise is distant and hollow. I walk beyond the end. I perch on a chainsaw-murdered log. I watch nothing and soak in everything. A deer hunter's shot rings out in the woods beyond me, I flinch but remain. A curious hawk swoops in low to see if I am meal worthy. Watching her cholesterol she decides I am not and continues on her way. Cars pass by on lonely Route #9 below. Route #9, the forgotten one, the Route #66 of the Adirondacks. Hilltop Drive is young but spreading. Like a bittersweet vine she wanders off into the forrest grasping ledges and limbs, embedding her blacktop where it doesn’t belong; an asphalt intruder, unwelcome and dark. Unsettled animals scurry around the edges of a civilized world here, sacrificing inches, relinquishing miles. What will happen tomorrow? Only the wind and rain know for sure. They will show up regardless. As this last line is penned, a parade of snow, flurries down upon me. Resting assured, my plight is their plight. 
The End

I assembled the piece above from photographs taken of a new road near my home. The area has grown considerably since 1981 when we purchased our little one story ranch for the price of a present day, nicely equipped pickup truck. The question of how much growth is enough is an ongoing tug-of-war we must face. As I was taking photos of the hillside and surrounding area a tired old porcupine waddled to the roads edge as if on cue by the director. The look on his face said he knew I was coming all along. 

November 28, 2012

Thank You Michael Perry

Thank You Michael Perry

Taped on the inside of my notebook--my motivation.

I would like to talk to you about a video I linked at the bottom of this post. It's an interview with author Michael Perry. It's about his new book Visiting Tom. I feel strongly about acknowledging the role Michael Perry has played in my life, and in my desire to write. Whether you know me personally or only via your visit(s) here at Raining Iguanas please do yourself a favor and take the time to see the piece. Grab a cup of coffee, turn the television off, and see what I see. When I first stumbled upon Mike's book, Population: #485 - Meeting Your Neighbors One Siren At A Time, it was like finding a hidden door that opens up to a world you had been searching for all your life. The parallels of Mike's life growing up in rural America to my own is what hooked me. What dragged me into the boat was the courage he had to keep penning his way to the life he was drawn to create. Mike equates his writing career to cleaning calf pens-"just keep shoveling, and eventually you've got a pile so big, someone will notice." From the moment I first read that quote I was hooked. I used the few small pieces I had submitted locally as kindling wood to start a fire that keeps burning brighter each day. Getting the opportunity to meet him at a book signing some months later was like hitting that campfire with a generous squirt of lighter fluid. Since that day I have been blessed with the support and encouragement of author Jon Katz and my Hubbard Hall Writing Group. I will refer to that lottery win as Stage #2.
There are two specific things that draw me to Mike's writing. One is the style in which he writes. It speaks to me so easily. It flows as sweet and smooth as, "a tipped pitcher of warm maple syrup." The second is how genuine Mike is. It beams from his writing and spoken word. He knows exactly who he is and he has no intentions of trying to portray anything different. It doesn't get any simpler than that. It's what gives me the courage and determination to tackle uncomfortable or unfamiliar ground in my search for more out of life. I may get nervous about entering a new venue, but I keep telling myself--to be myself. It's not that I don't care whether you like me or not, because I do. I think we lie when we say otherwise. The truth is, I can't function unless I am being myself. It's too difficult to pretend. I don't write this because I think you are that interested in my story. I do want you to read it so you too might have an 'ah ha' moment that ignites a fire. I have a long way to go--I hope. I am smart enough to know the limits of my talent. I am also dumb enough to keep forging ahead regardless. As long as the pen has ink and there is a pencil left in the junk drawer, I will be here, or there. What I won't be is fermenting. I plan to keep showing up at work until the prox-card beeps red. I plan to remain the annoying husband who forgets where he leaves things. I will continue to photograph, write, tell stories, and compose an eighth grade level line or two of poetry but I will do it for me, in hopes it will do something for you. Thank you Michael Perry, I wish you much success. You have already placed a platter of it on my picnic table.

Mike is the young guy on the left holding his book, Truck: A Love Story. 

November 27, 2012

Pee Wee

Pee Wee

Pee Wee is the sailor on the far left of the front row. My father is the second sailor in from the left poking through the railing. This was taken on the deck of the USS General W.C. Langfitt. 

Pee Wee is not a fictional character. Pee Wee was a real life sailor who sailed aboard the USS General W.C. Langfitt with my father during WWII. My father, Pee Wee and their unit spent time stationed in Adak, Alaska. While I was sitting at the foot of my father’s hospital bed one evening just before he passed away, he began talking in his sleep. The conversation was as clear as a bell and if you had been listening from around the corner, you would have thought he was telling this story to a group of visiting friends. In retrospect he probably was. Dad had reminisced fondly of his fellow sailors and their varied personalities in the past, but this story was new. He was grinning from ear to ear as he slept and recanted this anecdote about Pee Wee. I tried my best to write this down as dad told it. It is as accurate as I can remember. 

Pee Wee was from Arkansas, a real backwoods hillbilly who grew up hunting squirrels, birds, and rabbits. Pee Wee’s father shook him out of bed one morning and told him to go out and get a squirrel for breakfast. Because they were dirt poor, they had little money for extravagant things like ammunition. They would manage without bullets by throwing stones to hunt small game. Following his father's orders Pee Wee pulled on his britches and headed for the cabin door. As he sauntered down the dirt path and into the woods, and with his face beaming with confidence, he bellowed back toward the cabin, “Don’t worry Pa, I’ll throw left handed so’s not to mash up the meat.” 


Dad passed away 2/27/09.  I dedicate this anecdote to his memory. 

I wrote down the piece above  just a few days before dad passed. He loved hearing and sharing these types of stories. I can't explain in words the feeling I had listening to my father tell this story in his sleep. I knew he was failing. There was nothing left to do but absorb every last bit of him in his final days. He loved to share anecdotes, a cold draft and sometimes a shot of brandy or two with his friends. I miss his stories dearly. I miss the man who told them more. 

This is my father Ralph and my Grandmother Frances in the back yard of their home at #176 East Ave. Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
circa. 1942

November 25, 2012

So Many Ways A Flower

I took these photos with my little Sony RX100. The early morning sun beckoned. The air was cold and glove worthy. One thing led to another and this is the result. I tried to write something to compliment the collection but no matter what I wrote it came up short. Somethings are better left unspoken. There are so many ways a flower can say it better. 

November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving Happy

Thanksgiving Happy 
By John R. Greenwood 

Here's why I am both thankful and happy:

I am thankful that the first and only women I ever loved is still preparing our Thanksgiving dinner. I enjoy it more and more each year because with each passing autumn I realize that the most important ingredient of the feast is love.

I am thankful one thousand times over for my two sons. They taught me why patience is a virtue and why  cars have insurance. Sons are pride and joy wrapped  in, "What now?" gift paper.

I am thankful that every morning the alarm goes off I have a good job to go to. No matter how much I complain about the stress and late night phone calls when it gets down to it I am appreciative of every paycheck and what it has provided me and my family. From the minute I swipe my prox card I am surrounded by good, honest, hardworking people who give their very best each and every day. My life has been encased by caring individuals looking out for their neighbors and friends, men and women who are unselfish and giving. My life has been blessed with beautiful friends working by my side. I am a fortunate man.

I am thankful for the freedom to roam. I live in a country where I can walk out my back door without fear. I live where there are high peaks to the north and cities of opportunity to the south. I have rolling farmland to the east and valley's with rivers flowing through them to the west. The skies above are blue and bomb-free. My house is my home and my mortgage is not rent.

I have my health-- creaks and groans included. Most of my parts still function, although my mind needs a jump start on Monday mornings.

I am thankful for having had parents who loved me, grandparents who spoiled me, and a cherished sister who still calls me little brother.

There are many things around us that we take for granted. Thanksgiving is a day to take inventory and reflect on the things that are important. Shopping and excess may be on your list but they should not be at or near the top. Walk next door today and hug that precious neighbor who brought you comfort when times were thin. Call a dear aunt who sent you birthday money until you were eighteen. Tell your spouse you love them, maybe even twice in one day.

Be thankful today. Don't complain about the weather. Don't worry if the turkey is a little dry. Who cares if the plates don't match or the Cowboys lose by a touchdown, what really matters--is that you're here--and not there. Life is too short not to make everyday Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving Happy,

Raining Iguanas

November 18, 2012

When To Write?

When To Write?
By John R. Greenwood

When to write? Three simple words swirled me awake at 5am on a Saturday morning. When a love of writing has you in its grasp, finding time to write can be a tug of war between husband and wife, employee and employer, need and desire.

My mind is in constant motion searching for something to describe, explain, or share -with the world around me-from the world around me. As I thought about it I realized that the need to write, and the need to share it, are two separate things. Is it a love of writing, or is it a love of sharing, that fuels my personal struggle-when to write?

The creative urge is strong and the desire to share it can consume you. When I pulled apart the question I had placed in front of me it suddenly became more complex. I tried to chase down the birth of my writing bug to see if  could find why it burned so strong in a man on the further side of life. Did the fire start the day a columnist from a local newspaper called to ask if they could publish a story and poem I had submitted. It seemed to go back further. I kept digging. Each time I thought I could see the bottom of the well it took another turn and went deeper into my childhood.

As I traveled deep into my preteen years I stumbled upon a handful of loose leaf pages folded pocket-size and covered, seven pages worth, with a story written with an old plastic Bic pen. It wasn't a homework assignment or an essay on what I did over summer vacation. It was a junior high school idea of funny. It was called, "The Bigger and Better Bob Burke Blue Book Biography" by Beatrice Barrett (my apparent ghost writing name). I must apologize to my classmate Bob Burke. My attempt at humor was not directed at him even though it was titled in his honor. It was a preteen creative spark gone awry. A seven page story full of words beginning with the letter B. It was a cry for attention and it worked. When a group of  junior high boys are gathered around a desk laughing, it's only a matter of time before a teacher with a class to teach will lose her sense of humor. That is exactly what happened. "What's so funny boys? Would you like to share with the class Mr. Greenwood?" Well I really did, but I was smart enough to know Mrs. Not Real Happy was about to declare me a failure. My creative spark doused with a stern stare of disappointment. To Bob and Mrs. N.R.H. , I hope you can forgive me-the creative spirit runs deep.  What would drive me to bury my homework at the bottom of a pile and then put so much effort into something so childish and immature?  It was the need for attention over knowledge. It was more fun, less challenging, more creative, less structured. The amazing thing about that silly B saturated manifesto is that I have saved it for almost fifty years. It remains folded, yellowed, and dear to my heart. It was my first and only book.

So there you have it. The beginning spark ignited so many decades ago. The question of when to write seems clearer now. You write when the pull pulls you and the drive drives you. I tend to freeze under pressure or direction--a writing rebel without a clause. A rambler and a gambler throwing words out into the wind and letting them float softly to the ground. I receive no compensation for my words other than the joy of tapping away my thoughts and dreams for all to see. There are millions of others out there just like me. They write songs and stories, plays and poems. Writing is painting with a pen, singing with a keyboard. Below is a photo of page one of my first book. 

Page #1
1967 ?

November 15, 2012

A Trail Of No Cities

A Trail Of No Cities
By John R. Greenwood 

light and new
along a river's bank
or high above 
with rocky rimmed edges
an oak leaf journey
a morning revitalization
that all is well in the world
in between 

November 14, 2012

Looking Back

Looking Back
by John R. Greenwood

Looking back, life has been good. I have been more fortunate than most--except for that split second back in 1974 when I stuck my hand in a hungry machine. I have paid closer attention since. I did lose a little bit of my mind in the 1980's, but anyone who has lived through teenage boys is in the same boat. I have never been unemployed for more than a phone call. My wife and I have been holding hands since James Taylor sang his first song at SPAC. I have friends who don't borrow money and a pickup that might be paid off before 2016--the year we elect a female president. I have filed just one claim on my homeowners policy since 1975. The wind was stronger than our awning. The check was for $800--a fortune when your kids are in kindergarten and diapers, and your car's a 1972 Ford Pinto. I have enjoyed swimming in spring fed lakes, country streams, and indoor pools. I have climbed Adirondack mountains, maple trees, and corporate step stools. I can sing when no one's listening and play an instrument in my dreams. I saved a life once. I swerved like the first Earnhardt --the squirrel swerved like the second one. My home is a man-owner but only for a few more decades. I don't take any prescriptions unless my throat is white and my ears are red. I can still run like a ox and I'm as strong as a deer. My mind remains sharp. I don't ever get lost, confused or order 9 cut pizzas. I love my country and the country. I love eating and seconds. I love writing, rambling, and grumbling. If I had it to do over again, I would. 

November 11, 2012

Wallie's of Greenwich

Wallie's of Greenwich

If you've ever passed through the village of Greenwich in Washington County New York, you will recognize the green and white striped awning protruding to the street's edge. The name Wallie's on that awning has been a staple of this country hamlet for as long as this writer can remember--the better part of fifty years. I did not research the history of Wallies. That was not the goal of this post. 

What I did want to convey was the sadness in witnessing an establishment that holds so many fond memories for such a large number of people deteriorate right before your eyes. It's like watching a dear friend in bad health wither away. As I peered into the dust caked windows taking photographs I could hear the faint murmur of restaurant goers reveling in the joy of a family member's birthday party or anniversary dinner. My personal recollection was as a young boy dressed in my best suit, going here with my grandparents for Easter dinner. That would have been in the early 1960's. Wallie's and the village of Greenwich were both vibrant participants in Washington County's life throughout those years. Then came the outlets in Manchester and the malls in Glens Falls, Saratoga and the entire country. It was just a matter of time before small street America felt the impact. I do not know the reason for the demise of Wallie's but it is not alone. I recently wrote a simple piece on The Ash Grove Inn, another local favorite of the 1960's in Saratoga Springs. It's death was sad and drawn out too. It lays witness to the changing habits of restaurant patrons of the new millennium. 

As I stood on the sidewalk taking these photos a man my age passed by. He gently pleaded for me to buy it, resuscitate it, and bring it back to life. I replied what a shame it was to see and that I too had fond memories of the place and wished that was possible. I don't live my life grousing about the good-ole days. I am engaged with living my life in the present moment. I am optimistic and embrace change in many ways. I simply felt a need to salute an old friend and thank them for the memories.

I could smell simmering steaks and visualize fork tender pork chops with slices of red candied apples beside them. I heard parents telling little boys to sit up straight and get your arms off the table. The clink of cocktail glasses echoed across the jammed packed parking lot. Small town USA oozed up from the sidewalk out front, if only in my head and my nostalgia packed mind. 

Maybe this post will generate some historical interest in Wallies. I will leave that for a lifetime resident of Greenwich. It wouldn't feel right coming from a guy one county over. Here's to you Wallie's of Greenwich. Thank you for the memories. 

Thanks for the memories
If you have enjoyed Wallie's in your past or if you know of others, feel free to send them over here to pay their last respects. 

November 08, 2012

Rabbit Hunting


When I was young my father would take me hunting. He would rattle me out of bed early on a Saturday morning. I would put on my red flannel shirt, blue jeans, and silicone soaked boots, wash my face and off we'd go. Dad had a hundred scattered hunting parcels in his itinerary. His favorites were abandoned farm land out by Saratoga Lake where he had previously asked permission to hunt. 

Many times we would bring our beagle, Snoop. I hated when we took Snoop. It wasn't because I didn't like him, it was the opposite. He was not the most disciplined hunting dog. One of the reasons was he didn't get beyond the confines of his 20 x 20 pen much. When he did he was like a kid at the fair with a pocket full of tickets. He didn't know which direction to go first so he would charge off snorting and sniffing his way deep into the woods. His biggest shortfall was not coming when called. He was either very smart or hard of hearing. He would take off like a rocket. As a kid my biggest fear was him not coming back. I couldn't show that fear though--it wasn't an option. Thinking back it was probably plastered all over my face, my father wishing I had been born with a little more badass in my veins, sorry dad. It wasn't that I didn't enjoy being in the woods with my father, I did. I would much rather it had been a rifle-less hike along the shores of a north country lake. I loved walking in the woods. I simply didn't want to kill animals for sport. I loved hunting for the excursion. 

When I was sixteen I killed a beautiful six point buck on the first drive of my first season with a big game license. It was one of the most adrenaline pumping experiences ever. It was also the most revealing of my personality. I have no regrets about what I did. Sometimes I think it was the proudest moment of our father-son relationship. My father would refer to it for years as 'Johnny's Buck'. He had it mounted and it headlined his knotty pine den for forty years. I never hunted again. I still have the guns, I just don't have the desire. 

There was one rabbit hunting experience that probably sealed the deal for me. I have never written about it or talked about it much. It was a very traumatic and shakes me when I think of it now. My childhood home included acres of woods right outside the backdoor. There was a trail that circled the perimeter. I would take my 16 gauge Ithaca shotgun and walk it with my dog Snoop. On this particular day, I headed out to exercise the dog, never intending to shoot anything. 

Toward the end of our hunt I suddenly heard the most blood curdling yelp from Snoop. It was one of those animal sounds you never want to hear. It became louder and more excruciating. My first thought was my dog was caught in a trap. I thrashed my way through the brush trying to come to his aid. I don't think I have ever been as scared as I was that day. He was entrenched in a patch of alders so thick I couldn't see him. I heard other animals growling. It was horrible. I then realized he was being attacked but I could not tell by what. I didn't dare shoot because I couldn't see. I was hesitant to charge forward. It sounded like a pack of wolves growling and snapping. Animal pain and distress permeated the air. I finally was able to get a slight visual. All I could see were two black and white masses circling and attacking Snoop. I finally shot a round into the air. A pair of blood covered Dalmatians turned and glared at me. It was a chilling sight. I pulled up the shotgun and took aim. That's when they took off through the thick swamp leaving Snoop writhing in a pool of blood. They had castrated him. He was alive but crying in pain. I couldn't touch him. I ran home to get help. My father was away at work. My mother was home, but she didn't drive so dad had our only vehicle. Mom called her sister. Minutes later my cousins boyfriend arrived in his Volkswagen Beetle. I led him to Snoop.  We wrapped him in a blanket and carried him to the car. I climbed in the back seat with the dog on my lap. He was in shock. Off to the vet we sped. The nearest vet was ten miles away. It was the longest ten miles I ever traveled. 

I don't remember much after arriving at the veterinarians. I know they promised to do everything they could to save Snoop. They called the house the next day and said they were sorry, there wasn't anything they could do. Snoop had chased his last rabbit. 

I was a country boy. I had buried pets before. I've buried several since. That event shook me pretty good. I had a hard time watching a Budweiser commercial after that. I never did pop the top of a Bud, now that I think of it. Yes, it's a graphic story, but its a country story. It was a couple of years later when I shot my six pointer. 

It wasn't a conscious decision but I think those two events combined to turn me away from the sport but not the woods. I found peace in nature. It came easier with a camera in my pocket than it did with a gun by my side. Hunting is a part of our heritage and I support it. Currently I don't participate. I will leave that door open. I never did shoot a rabbit in the years  Snoop and I spent in the woods together. I don't think they were ever afraid I would. 

November 06, 2012

Swing Vote

The photo above tells a simple story--a story of left and right. It's a roundabout way to observe life, politics, and today's election.

Originally I took the photo because of the definitive contrast between the beautiful colors of the fall foliage and the stark grey stone and sharp metal edge that separated the two. The angle of the wall was an added bonus. I am always looking for that unique photo that has something to say. This one was speaking but I could not understand what it was trying to tell me. I liked it just as it was, but I am always driven to dig deeper and stretch my vision in some way. How could I pull a story out of this scene? I clicked the small rotation arrow and turned the picture up on end. A message blasted off the screen and right through my eye. Immediately I saw a distinct left and right.

Today voting and an election were front and center. I do tend to lean a little to the left in my political beliefs but I don't feel comfortable with a Democratic or Republican label. I may wake up tomorrow staring at a particular issue that doesn't fit right or left. I want to retain my ability to chose freely regardless of whether it is a left or right leaning issue. I don't like hard lines or block walls. I have a tendency to bolt from conformity.

As I looked at it from a different point of view it became quite clear that the left was more colorful, more diverse, more inviting. The right side emitted a dark inflexibility. The photo was divided a few degrees off center. The left side a bit larger and more optimistic. The branches of the trees intermixed and smiling. On the right, sharp lines divided each block, no one was singing.

This post is not about political debate. It is about choices and bright futures for everyone. We have plenty. We never feel it's enough. How much is enough? Maybe we're there. Regardless of who wins the election today I will support them to the very best of my ability. The world will be just fine either way as long as we all agree to open our eyes a little bit wider and look out (help) for that guy off to your side. Which side shouldn't matter.

November 05, 2012


she's waited for so long, too long it seems
a prayer left unanswered 
years of flowing water
passing beneath a bridge
hours never mattered much 
happiness and calm were fragile
faint shadows
still she stands steadfast
longing for the day
warm arms will wrap around 
float her worries away
                                                                                  ... drift them out to sea

November 03, 2012

Knowledge Is Power

Knowledge is Power
Mrs. G and I headed down to Lakeside Farms in Ballston Lake this morning to get the last of our fall apples. It was barely 9am and the parking lot was already full. After securing our apple supply we went back in for coffee. I am always amazed that even when this place is brimming, the flow of people moves right along. After a light breakfast we stopped at the counter to purchase some additional necessities (apple cider donuts for Mr. G if you must know).  As always I am photo ready and my head on a perpetual swivel. We have been coming here for years but I never noticed this sign. What initiated this post was not so much the message of the sign as it was the idea of opening up our eyes and looking at the everyday things around us. I love this message and I embrace the joy of finding it during one of my photo op scanning missions. I have found great joy in rambling through the last few years in search of people, places, and things that spark a curiosity in me. At every juncture I am injected with a spark of life. Isn't that the way life should be? Sometimes ignorance is bliss and sometimes knowledge is power. I like living in both worlds, although the first is more common ground for me. I am enjoying this blog. I enjoy visitors and visiting. I like to see what turns others on and what turns them off. Many people are squeezing the same pleasures out of life as I am. Many don't feel a need to share them with the world. That's great too. They simply soak it in and move on. I enjoy the life-sampler that has been laid out in front of me and for some reason, which has yet to be identified, I am drawn to continue sharing those thoughts with others. See you tomorrow. 

Lakeside Farm

November 02, 2012

"Survey This!"

Says,"Assure yourself a cart"
Means,"We were able to shit-can three people, besides you were coming in anyway" 
To tell you the truth this idea didn't bother me as much as what transpired before and after I noticed this sign. Mrs. G and I got an early start last Sunday and decided to hit the 'Buy Jumbo' for our 96pk toilet tissue and pallet of tangelos. There was still a gallon left in the five gallon pail of Peter Pan. We got inside the first set of hanger doors and scanned the runway for a cart. There wasn't one within binocular view. I handed Mrs. G the GPS and headed back outside for a cart. I pulled one from the cart  garage. I didn't really pay any attention to the sign. I did however think to myself, "Boy, they must have been swamped yesterday. They didn't even get a chance to collect the carts and bring them inside." I grabbed the handle of  'Ole Wobbly Wheels' and headed back inside. I was instantly surrounded by a group of smiley faces with aprons and clipboards. They wanted to know if I could spare a minute to take a survey. What about this old-man scowl didn't you get? At my age any time wasted on cart patrol on a Sunday morning is going to result in miserable. I don't think you want me filling out a customer service survey right now. In fact if I was a lawyer I would sue just for using the words 'customer service' in a store where you do everything yourself including cart collection and bag supply. Then you have the gall to ask me for my email address so you can inject even more aggravation into my dwindling days. In fact this message goes out to all you retail giants out there, "Survey This!" If I ever stumble across extraordinary customer service in your store I promise to shout it from the highest mountaintop. If you want to know how you're doing in your store, do YOUR shopping there. Don't let them know your coming. Put on your baseball hat and sweatpants and go shopping. You will save thousands of dollars on surveys and survey takers. I am sure if you get all the way inside and you can't find a cart at 10am on a Sunday morning the last thing you will feel like doing is taking a survey. Smarten up retail America. Here's the formula, write it down. 
Keep it clean + Keep it full + Charge a fair price + Bring back 'polite' = Success (no survey needed). Oh yeah, I forgot. I did finally notice the sign when I was returning Little Miss Squeak N' Not Turn. I tucked her safely in the jam packed cart garage out there near Mile Marker #2, Row #49. I just hope I remember to grab a cart next week when I come back for my fresh pail of Peter Pan and the 64oz Heinz 2pk. You never know when you might get company. 

* This rant was for entertainment purposes only and is in no way a reflection on my normally jovial and pleasant personality. Oh, one more thing. I only used Peter Pan peanut butter because it sounded better. Mrs. G prefers Jif, all choosey mothers do.