Category Archives: Family

Richly Blessed

“It’s wedding week! Wedding week! Wedding week! Wedding week! Oh, also Christmas. Oh dad, it’s wedding week! I can’t believe it! It’s finally here! Wedding week!” – Jacob, age 7, Sunday

“Oh dad, this is the best Christmas EVER!” – Jacob, Wednesday

“Dad, is the wedding TODAY?” – Oliver, age 4, every morning this week

This has certainly been a Christmas like no other. I have never known something to upstage Christmas for Jacob, but apparently a wedding can!

Laura and I got to celebrate our first Christmas together this year — together, of course, with the boys. We enjoyed a wonderful day in the middle of a busy week, filled with play, family togetherness, warmth, and happiness. At one point, while I was helping the boys with their new model train components, Laura was enjoying playing Christmas tunes on the piano. Every time she’d reach the end, Jacob paused, and said, “That was awesome!”, beating me to it.

That’s a few days before Christmas — Jacob and Oliver demanding snow ice cream, and of course who am I to refuse?

Cousins opening presents

After his school Christmas program, Jacob has enjoyed singing. Here he is after the Christmas Eve program, where he excitedly ran up into the choir loft, picked up a hymnal, and pretended to sing.

And, of course, opening of presents at home.

Sometimes I think about how I didn’t know life could get this good. Soon Laura and I will be married, and it will be even better. Truly we have been richly blessed.

Engaged!

Today I have the delightful chance to write about a deep and wonderful joy.

Yes, Laura and I are engaged!

There are no words adequate for this kind of occasion, but there is a picture that gets close:

I never imagined a person could find a friend so wonderful, a person that enjoys so much in common, someone that understands me and that I understand so well. And yet, here I am, engaged to that friend. “Amazing” only begins to describe the feeling.

One of the first things Laura and I talked about was a hymn I was tinkering with, typesetting with GNU LilyPond. That hymn ends like this:

“Since Love is Lord of heav’n and earth, how can I keep from singing?”

It is a wonderful thought, and very true. Even literally true; I often find myself singing, humming, or playing the penny whistle during my day.

One of my good friends once told me, “I am completely sure that your happiest days lie ahead of you.” And he was right. I have already experienced them. This is a wonderful time, and every day brings plentiful reasons to be thankful. And as Laura and I prepare for a life together, I know that it is true not only that my friend was right, but that he is right — my happiest days are yet to come, and our happiest days are yet to come, too.

I have been blessed in many ways, and feel like the luckiest man alive.

To be loved, and to love, a person so wonderful is truly a remarkable gift.

A 4-year-old’s sudden interest in German monorail

Today, Oliver and Jacob heard about monorails. I showed them a wikipedia article about monorails, and it had a picture of a monorail in Germany.

Oliver, age 4: I have been on that monorail!

Me: Sorry, Oliver, but that monorail is in Germany. You have never been to Germany.

Oliver: But I HAVE been to Germany!

Me: No, you have never been to Germany.

Oliver: Dad, I HAVE been to Germany. I love Germany!

Jacob, taking an interest: Dad, can we go to Germany sometime?

Me: Yes, we probably could sometime.

Jacob: Great! Then we could ride a Deutsche Bahn train!

At this point, we had a brief discussion about the fact that we can’t take a train from the United States to Germany, but we can fly there and then take trains.

Oliver: Dad, we should go the the airport and tell them to take us to Germany right now!

Spring Always Comes

“There will come a time when you believe everything is finished. That will be the beginning.”

— Louis L’Amour

Last year, I wrote about the difficult times in my life and hope for future, but never really explained why. I have written little since, because there is little I can write without a bit of explanation. It is partly because of the complexity of the task of telling my story without telling too much of others’ stories.

But it is important I tell this story. So often on the Internet, we hear only the brave face, the positive things that happen. This story involves tears and difficulty. And also we often see only anger and bitterness. This story involves joy and celebration.

One afternoon last year, I was working as usual (I work from home) when two sheriff deputies arrived on my doorstep. They gave me paperwork showing that my now ex-wife had filed for divorce, had asked them to serve me the paperwork, and that she had been given temporary possession of the house. I had 2 hours to gather up clothes and a little computer equipment (there was a list) and leave the house.

Thus began the most difficult time in my life. I went from reading a bedtime story and singing a bedtime song to my young boys every night to seeing them only a little, from living in the house my grandparents and dad had lived in to having no particular plan for where I’d sleep that night, from thinking I had a good idea of what the future held to not knowing when, if ever, I’d ever be back home. I worried about how the boys would fare (they have done well so far). And it was incomprehensible; I couldn’t find answers to “why?”.

In the time since, the divorce became final, I did return home, the boys spend more time with me, and a new normal emerged.

At the time, it seemed like a sudden, deep winter blizzard. I couldn’t see very far down the road, spring seemed far off, and I couldn’t see very well either forward or backward.

But I was determined to find positives in the situation. It started almost immediately; I had never been a person to talk about pain, but just a few hours after the divorce was filed, I knew I needed to talk to someone about it, and did. A week later, I shared about it in church. Amazing friends, locally and all over the world, provided support and encouragement. I had less total time with the boys than before the divorce, but more time with just the three of us, and we used it to play together at home, spend days in town, and even take a train trip to Santa Fe, where none of us had ever been before.

I realized how much I could forgive, and that my ex-wife probably did the best she could with the persistent legacy of difficult life events that happened to her long before she met me. I understood this, and was never angry, just sad, for everyone. I have always known nobody is perfect, myself included, but can be hard on myself when I’m less than perfect. I forgave myself, too, realizing that I did my best to help in the most unfamiliar of waters, and although I sometimes didn’t get it right, my conscience is clear because my heart was in the right place and I tried, very hard.

Most incredibly, I became a person with a deep sense of inner peace. I always tried to work hard to set life on a good path; I got good grades in school, am a good employee, and have a strong set of values. But where courts are involved, there’s a strong sense of powerlessness. At times, there was nothing I could do to make life better for my boys or for me. I finally had to let go of taking on responsibility for all that on my own shoulders. I simply knew that things would be OK, and in fact were OK, and that there is nothing in life that really deserves worries. That doesn’t mean worries are never present, but that mostly they are subdued, like a radio quietly playing in another room. When they aren’t, I can sit down at the piano, play my penny whistle, sing, walk to my creek, talk to friends, or any of so many things that let them melt away. I stopped searching for happiness and peace, and let those things find me.

In religious terms, my faith became not just an intellectual one, but also a spiritual one. An atheist friend asked me, “Just what does religion mean to you anyway?” My answer: “The certainty that spring always comes, for everyone that understands this.”

“People speak of misfortunes and sufferings,” remarked Pierre, “but if at this moment I were asked: ‘Would you rather be what you were before you were taken prisoner, or go through all this again?’ then for heaven’s sake let me again have captivity and horseflesh! We imagine that when we are thrown out of our usual ruts all is lost, but it is only then that what is new and good begins. While there is life there is happiness. There is much, much before us.”

— Tolstoy, War and Peace

By Thanksgiving, I had much to be thankful for. Some of it under my nose waiting to be rediscovered after years of distraction, such as the glorious Kansas sunrises. Some things were new, such as roasting a turkey all by myself (or, rather, with Jacob and Oliver) for the first time, and having it come out absolutely perfectly. And some were just the things of everyday life: that I lived in my own house again, that I could walk out to the creek at the edge of my property whenever I wanted, that I could play piano, that the sounds of laughter and little running feet again could often be heard on my wood floors.

That’s not to say everything was easy; the courts sometimes made decisions sometimes I didn’t think were in the boys’ best interests, legal things dragged on and on, but in the end, peace endured. Happiness endured. I found myself thinking at Thanksgiving that it was the best Thanksgiving ever. Not much later, I considered myself happier than I’ve ever been. I was focusing on the daily gifts of life, marveling at the sunrises, looking forward to life’s next adventure, confident that it would be far better than the last.

And then, to my complete surprise, I found myself in a relationship again. On top of all the wonderful things happening in my life, I met Laura. I never could have imagined a friend so wonderful, a relationship so loving and joyful, something to treasure so deeply. I can look back at events and shake my head in amazement and wonder, that I found myself happier than I’d ever been, and then this wonderful relationship on top of that. I have been blessed to have the life I do, and feel almost embarrassingly lucky.

I share this story because friends that had been through divorce years ago shared their stories. They gave me hope. And if I didn’t share this story in this public way, I would be squandering an opportunity to find more positives from what happened. I hope that this helps, somehow, someone that is in pain know that there is beauty in the valley, and spring always comes, every single year.

And I share it because happiness like this can’t be repressed for long. Tolstoy was right. While there is life, there is happiness.

I’ll end with a story from last Thanksgiving. It was 6:10AM that weekend. I was still asleep, and heard this:

Jacob, yelling from his room: “Dad? Dad!”

Me, groggy: “Yes, Jacob?”

Jacob: “Can I go down and look at the Christmas tree?”

Me: “Sure, and you can turn it on too.”

Jacob: “Great!”

At that point, I could have gone back to sleep. I was really short on sleep that morning, and Jacob would have been fine. But I gave him a couple of minutes, then I went downstairs too. He was curled up on the piano bench, looking at the tree. I quietly turned up the downstairs thermostat, got a chair, put it next to the piano bench, and sat down by the tree too. Jacob crawled over onto my lap and snuggled up for awhile. Neither of us said anything. Then:

“Dad?”

“Yes?”

“This is the best Thanksgiving ever.” And he gave me a big hug.

And he was right. Yes, he was RIGHT!

“That will be the beginning.” Spring comes!

Two boys, shrimp, and stars

I recently made a routine analysis of my kitchen. (Of course I make a routine analysis of my kitchen; don’t you?) In it, I discovered these items, still usable, but approaching that magic “throw it out” date:

  • Baby carrots
  • Potatoes
  • Lemons
  • Green beans
  • Corn

So, I thought, what can I make that would use all of these? And I realized I had some shrimp in the freezer, so: a shrimp boil! I tossed it all, plus some various seasonings and a few other veggies, into the Dutch oven, and boiled.

Jacob and Oliver watched the activity with interest. Well, except for the potato-peeling part. For that, they went and played with their toy school buses. But the rest was good. They carefully observed me adding some spices, some vegetables, the shrimp, and watched it all simmer. Then it was time to eat. Excitement!

Of course, it did take a few minutes to boil, so Jacob got down his whiteboard while Oliver looked on.

They enjoyed learning how to peel the shell from the shrimp and devoured their food.

And another night recently, Jacob unexpectedly showed up in the kitchen at 10PM. He said he was thirsty, so I got him some water. He asked, “Dad, did you make ice cream?”

Earlier that day, I had prepared ice cream with Oliver, but it was a kind that had to be cooked (lemon with pureed strawberries and peaches) and it wasn’t cool enough to finish before their bedtime. I did let them help add the ice and salt to the ice cream freezer just before they went to bed.

So I told Jacob that yes, the ice cream was done.

He stood there, tiredly, considering, with this “oh he’ll never say yes to ice cream at 10PM” look on his face.

So I said, “would you like one bite right now?”

The look of delight on his face was amazing; a broad smile, a twinkle in his eyes, and a clap. So I got out the big bowl of ice cream and scooped up one big spoonful. He loved it. Then I said, “should we go look at the stars?”

I carried Jacob outside to the porch. We stood there, looking up. I used to do this with him periodically, but it had been about a year. So he was thrilled. It was a partially overcast night, but there were still some stars visible. He had no idea there were some stars missing. To him, it was amazing and wonderful and infinite. “Oh dad, there are way too many stars to count!”

He stayed there, arms around my neck, for a minute or two, then was ready to go back inside. I set him down, gave him a hug, said “Goodnight, Jacob.” And off he trotted, back upstairs, wearing a contented smile, and he fell asleep almost immediately.

All it takes to delight children is a bit a shrimp or some stars. And those things delight me, too.

It’s Warm Enough For Mud

Today the outdoor temperatures got to nearly 75F/24C. The boys had this idea to go play with their “streams”.

Here’s one of the cleaner moments:

I had set up an old pipe and a hose, with the water coming slowly out of the pipe onto a little mound of dirt. They can then use their fingers to make channels in the dirt for the water to flow through. They’ve found that sticks can become bridges, making a hole in the earth makes a pond, and, oh yes, it’s quite muddy and a lot of fun.

Oliver at one point realized that he could splash the mud all around quite nicely.

And he wanted to make sure I took photos of his hands.

They could have played out there for hours, I’m sure. When it was time to clean up, they enjoyed seeing the mud come off their sandals, arms, hands, and feet.

It was a perfect use for the first really warm day of spring.

Catching the mudball

“Dad, can I bring my mudball inside?” – Jacob

“Ooo, dad, I need a mudball too!” – Oliver

You’d have to have been there to see how excited Jacob was about his mudball. We had been out hiking down by the creek a day after a rain, and he, well, made a mudball and carried it around with him. I’m not used to finding mud all that exciting. To me, mud is something that my car can get stuck in, that my boots can drag into the house, that needs to be suppressed by a little gravel on top.

But to Jacob, he was holding a ball of excitement, of adventure, of discovery. And Oliver wanted in on the fun!

Jacob wasn’t thinking about consequences of bringing a mudball indoors, because he didn’t need to. He wasn’t visualizing the damage it could cause, the time of cleaning it up, or even the fact that a mudball doesn’t really stay a mudball permanently. He just wanted to carry his ball of excitement with him.

Being a parent means being a teacher, an example, and a leader. It is fine for Jacob to not think about the consequences of bringing a mudball into the house at age 6, but part of my duty as a parent is to make sure he thinks about consequences by the time he gets behind the wheel of a car. As we grow up, we are shown, taught, and prodded into thinking about consequences of our choices: getting good grades in school, thinking about the impression the clothes we wear to a job interview might leave, worrying about what people think about us when we talk in front of a group. We take on real responsibilities when we leave childhood, and the consequences of our actions become more significant.

But where’s the “off” switch? Shouldn’t there be a way for us to wonder about bringing the mudball indoors, too?

There was a time in our lives when we didn’t care one bit about whether we were wearing fashionable clothes, making a good impression, or doing things the “right” way. After being in the mindset of taking careful responsibility over life for so many years, it’s hard to re-discover that earlier time.

A colleague forwarded a little speech about Thanksgiving. It contained, “Those who live in thanksgiving daily have a way of opening their eyes and seeing the wonders and beauties of this world as though seeing them for the first time.”

This is something children know how to do, and we adults have often forgotten, because we are too busy worrying about dirty floors and stained curtains to see the potential for fun in mud.

I am convinced that, just as important as being responsible, is learning how to let go, to let our hearts feel peace and joy as if a child. We can’t open our eyes and see the wonders of this world if we’re too busy worrying about convincing someone else to vote for our preferred candidate, about saying things perfectly, about being right.

There’s beauty in that daily commute in a car or subway. Look around, and you might see kids with their noses pressed to the window, even if it’s mostly black tunnel outside. There’s wonder in that business flight, in the mud, in the doctor’s office waiting room.

When I see people using insults in a discussion thread on the Internet, I am saddened, because it means they have lost sight of the wonder of being able to communicate with and understand a person thousands of miles away, instantly, and are more worried about their position looking good, or are unable to see the beauty in a person that thinks differently.

I once had this conversation with Jacob in an airplane, probably surrounded by people impatiently waiting to turn on their electronic devices:

“Jacob, we are in the air!”

“Woooooooow!”

“Jacob, we’re flying!”

“Dad, I don’t know that I’ve ever been a butterfly before!”

I hope we can all find ways to be a butterfly more often.

The Superbowl Pirate Bus

I’ll forgive you for not noticing the bus full of pirates at the Superbowl. Because, well, unless you saw my 6-year-old, you have a pretty good excuse for missing it. I’ll give you the Goerzen Superbowl play-by-play, just to make sure you’re caught up. It involved pirates, cops, tractors, cookies, a card game, and yes, even troubles with HDMI.

We were invited to a Superbowl party, and were going to bring a party snack. The boys love to help cook, and I try to give them choices. I started naming off potential snacks, starting with healthy options. They listened attentively, until I mentioned cookies.

“COOKIES! ***COOKIES!*** Yes, cookies!”

This reaction was, I must say, not exactly a surprise.

Then I asked them what KIND of cookies. Jacob immediately knew what he wanted, so of course Oliver took a minute to come up with something else. No matter; we could make two kinds of cookies. Jacob, of course, picked a kind of cookie that needs cherries, while Oliver picked one that needs chocolate chips. Thus they both had opportunities to “have a small taste” of ingredients while we prepared the batter.

And so make cookies we did. Plus a loaf of bread. Anyhow, once we got to the party, Jacob and Oliver saw a huge tub of Legos and were at it in a flash. One of Jacob’s friends was pretending everything was a tractor, but it wasn’t long before Jacob started in on his evening’s project: building the largest bus he could build.

He was pleased when he got 4 lego people into it. Even more happy when he got 10 into it. And by the time he figured out how to get 35 into it, he was quite proud of himself indeed. Oliver, meanwhile, in classic little brother fashion, tried to corner the market on surplus lego people. He appears to have the hardline negotiation skill down already, and perhaps is appreciating the value of artificial scarcity in the lego market

Eventually the bus seemed to hit the limits of engineering and joint strength, and Jacob gave up for a little while. He had a cookie and some carrots, commented on the exciting game of Uno going on, (“Who is the loudest?” “All of them!”), brought me some carrots, and periodically commented that “The ball team is ahead of the SF team. Sure is. They have more points!” (This from the “BAL” and “SF” text on the screen.)

And then he went back to playing. And here’s where the pirates come in.

Jacob’s new bus had a lego flag that he decided was a pirate flag. So the bus was a pirate bus. He built a platform out the back for them to use to “steal things”. So his pirate bus went around the lego area, stealing this from one pile, stealing that from another, until it got almost as long as his first bus.

Pretty soon, along came a police boat to chase the pirates. But the police boat appeared to suffer a humorous series of logistical failures and never could quite disrupt the pirates. But never mind that, for little brother Oliver was getting bored with the lego mountain he was building and decided it would be more fun if he would disrupt the pirates. An opinion that Jacob quite strongly disagreed with.

When it was time to go, Jacob tried to extract a promise from the party hosts to not let anyone take apart the pirate bus until next time we would be there.

Then this morning, Jacob and I had a discussion about pirates.

“Dad, are pirates real?”

“Yes, Jacob, they are.”

“Do they steal things?”

“Yes, but they are far away. There are no pirates here.”

“Are there pirates in Kansas?”

“No. There are some pirates in Africa though.”

“Oh. What state is Africa in?”

“Africa is so far away that it isn’t even in a state. You’d have to take a boat or a plane to get there.”

“Or a train!”

“Nope, a train couldn’t get across the ocean. It’s too wide!”

“They’d build a bridge!”

“It’s too wide for a bridge. It’s more than a thousand miles!”

“WOW – a thousand miles! Great! OK dad, it’s time for me to get on that school bus!”

Today is Pretend St. Patrick’s Day!

Today in the USA is Martin Luther King, Jr., day. But sometimes these holidays get confusing for a 6-year-old.

I asked Jacob the other day if he knew what holiday was coming up. He thought about it for a second, then declared it would be St. Patrick’s Day. He was excited because St. Patrick’s Day is green.

When he realized that it was really MLK Day, he was disappointed. “That day isn’t green.” So I said, “Jacob, how about we celebrate pretend St. Patrick’s Day on Monday?” His face lit up, he got a huge smile, and said, “Oh yes! Great idea, dad!” Oliver got all excited about it too.

I was already planning on us doing some cooking, and thankfully had green food coloring already. So I sort of discarded my plans so each meal could have something green in it.

When the boys woke up this morning, I wished each of them “Happy Pretend St. Patrick’s Day!” We all wore green. Jacob put his shirt on backwards so the side with more green would be facing front.

For breakfast, our green dish was green crepes with a succotash (based on baby lima beans and corn) filling. The boys were excited to discover that the crepes could be green on one side, and green and a little brown on the other. Jacob was unsure of the succotash idea, but after having a few bites, declared it “excellent”.

After breakfast, we made bread. They loved watching the green food coloring disperse in the water. We checked on how green the dough looked periodically. We watched how it was rising and whether it was staying green. And we checked in on it backing, as the crust turned from green to brown. We discussed green bread over and over. Important questions were asked and answers were attempted.

And then, of course, the moment of truth – removing the loaf from the pan.

The boys jabbered excitedly that there was some green peeking out. While we waited for it to cool, we went out to the creek. The creek is dry this year, so we got to walk in it. Jacob used his stick to make a line behind him. I asked him, “Is that a line so we can find our way back?” “Oh! Uhm. Yes!” And then he added arrows so we’d know which way to go.

Jacob stopped every 20 or so feet to collect pretend train tickets from Oliver and me. Oliver eventually grew tired of this, so Jacob started collecting Oliver’s ticket from me. They climbed on some trees, managed to find some mud, drew outlines of train cars in the dirt, and then followed Jacob’s line back down the creek bed. They pointed out any green things they saw.

Then we went back to the house, took off our warm coats, and cut into the bread.

Can you imagine the excitement?

I hadn’t realized “green” is a flavor, but it must have been somehow, because those boys absolutely loved this green bread. When we got out the jam, Jacob realized that it was red on the green bread, and that now his bread was Christmas-colored.

All sorts of green bread discoveries were made, but the best among them was that if you hold a slice of green bread up to the bright sun, the sun makes it glow green and it looks like a stained-glass window.

Sometimes a few drops of food coloring can add a ton of excitement to a day.

Faces

A couple of weeks ago, I walked in to a nice, sit-down restaurant, with a smile on my face. It’s the kind of restaurant with folded cloth napkins on the tables. “Table for three, please” – as Jacob and Oliver were with me.

This much isn’t unusual. I have periodically taken them out to eat for quite some time, and they enjoy it.

But there were a few unusual things about this particular day. I suppose the main one is that they had just been doing this.

Yes, painting your own face can be a lot of fun. And also serious business.

The boys and I were in Santa Fe, NM on a train trip. It had been a year since their last train trip, and that’s longer than they are typically used to. I’d taken Jacob on a train trip with just the two of us before, but this was the first trip with just the two boys and me.

And one of the places we visited was the excellent Santa Fe Children’s Museum. It may be the best children’s museum I’ve ever seen. Not the largest, or the flashiest, but that’s part of the reason I say “best”. They had chimes (and many other percussive “instruments” to produce different pitches, including mounted hubcaps and varying length wooden planks). They had a great magnets table with washers and nuts, so children can build their own bridges, stairs, etc. using magnetism. A giant bubble table, tunnels to crawl in outside, etc. A great place.

And, apparently, the thing they were really known for — I did not know this in advance — is the paint your own face station. Jacob and Oliver really got into it. Oliver informed me he was a lion and I heard “ROAR! ROAR!” periodically all afternoon. Jacob asked me to help paint a J, and the spirals, on his cheeks. After some careful thought, he informed me that he was “spiral man”.

Next to the paint your own face area was a clean your own face area. Most kids were being helped to clean their own face by their parents on their way out. Jacob and Oliver protested that plan, so I figured, if they want to enjoy painted faces all day, why not?

And this, of course, led into lunch with self-painted faces. Nobody at the restaurant commented, but the owner had a huge grin when he saw them. (It was a Mediterranean place, and I’m sure the owner would have commented had there not been a language barrier.) Incidentally, the boys became quite the fans of souvlaki.

Later, as we walked around Santa Fe Plaza and another museum, they drew smiles all over the place. Several kind people asked them, “Did you enjoy the children’s museum?” Yes, everyone in Santa Fe seemed to know precisely where kids with painted faces had been that day.

Santa Fe is an amazing and beautiful city. It was warm and friendly, and the architecture and layout was fun to see – and pedestrian-friendly. We walked past the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi several times, and went in once. For some reason I could never fully explain, I could often smell their incense even a block or two away. It added to the crisp wintry feel of the plaza.

The point of the trip wasn’t Santa Fe, though. It was Jacob and Oliver on Amtrak, which is the thing they were really most excited about – of course. They were excited as usual, and despite the fact that the train comes through this area only at around 3AM, were plenty excited to be on the train. And, in fact, didn’t fall asleep again until about 5 due to the excitement (though they did an excellent job of being quiet). Of course, 6AM was “morning” so they were wide awake by then.

Jacob had been planning what he’d eat on the train for days already, and had announced he would be having French toast for breakfast and pizza at lunch. He was a bit disappointed to see that French toast wasn’t on the menu this time, but pancakes saved the day.

While waiting for the dining car to open at 6:30, we went to the lounge car for awhile. I had brought along various things for them to do on the train, of course, and among them was a notebook and some markers. Jacob loved drawing suns and stars, and sometimes writing short notes. He gave notes to several friendly people that happened to be visiting with us on the train. Oliver enjoyed it too, but he was more intrigued by the cheap set of multi-colored post-it notes.

There were two happy, and somewhat tired, boys getting off that train in the middle of the night when we returned.