Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

Anyone who truly knows me, knows I have a thing for quotes. It could possibly be considered an obsession. A good song lyric can be a quote I hold on to, a simple yet poignant idea heard from a stranger or line from a movie or book can draw the biggest breath of air from my lungs. I’ll write quotes on margins of books or magazines and when I get really desperate (and my Iphone battery has died) I’ve been known to steal pens and napkins or toilet paper just so I don’t loose the quote. Words are huge with me, so when I hear a group of them formed into a wonderful quote I have to have it documented and stored in my vault.

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I started my blog exactly one year ago today, and I’ve acquired so much. The only way I can truly express what I’ve come to find within the year is by writing about it with quotes that I’ve saved. These quotes pinpoint who I am, how I feel and what I have come to find. So here it goes…

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In 2015 I’ve come to terms that I really, really, like to write. It’s very therapeutic and as Ernest Hemingway said “my aim is to put down on paper what I see and what I feel in the best and simplest way.” I plan on continuing writing for this blog, but also for myself. I love writing short stories and vow to take time in 2016 to continue to write stories on my vintage sea foam green typewriter I’ve named Steinbeck. (If you don’t know how I came up with the name my only advice to you is…read a book.)

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I’ve found that if “I don’t write to empty my mind, I go mad.” [Lord Byron]

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I have grown immensely this year learning about the different people that surround me each and everyday. But mostly I’ve learned about myself, and “like wildflowers; you must allow yourself to grow in all the places people thought you never would.” [E.V.]

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I’ve learned about the law of attraction and successfully put it to use, as funny lady Amy Poehler said, “you attract the right things when you have a sense of who you are.” I was told continuously this year that I’ve always had “that look of otherness, of eyes that see things much too far, and of thoughts that wander off the edge of the world.” [Joanne Harris] and have come to realize that my heart swings back and forth between the need for routine and the urge to run.” [Unknown]

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Thank you to the people who have allowed me to whisper and at times shout my dreams into their ears; always willing to listen to every detail I divulge. To all of you who have stood by my side and have help me grow, even if infinitesimally, thank you for opening my eyes when I’ve wanted to walk blindly onto roads that I didn’t see were that scary. As R.M. Drake wrote; “she could not make sense of the things that were meant for her, but she was drawn to it all, and when she was alone, she felt like the moon; terrified of the sky, but completely in love with the way it held the stars.”

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“I’m very picky with whom I give my energy to. I prefer to reserve my time, intensity and spirit exclusively to those who reflect sincerity” [Dau Voire]—to all those who I’ve spent time with in 2015, thank you. Thank you for simply letting me be me and sharing wonderful experiences and creating lasting memories I’ll cherish forever.

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I’ve learned that “I’m a simple person with a complicated mind”[Anonymous] and sometimes it just easiest to let go because “overthinking kills your happiness.” [Unknown]

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Like everyone in this world, I’m human; imperfect. I’d be lying if I said 2015 has been a year of daisies, cupcakes and rainbows. My road, like so many others, has had some dips and windy curves but they have all become lessons that I will never regret. I can proudly say that in 2015 whatever I’ve done I’ve given it my all and tried my best. As my ultimate heroine of 2015 Ronda Rousey said; “you have to be willing to get your heart broken. That’s just what fucking happens when you try.”12.30.15_019

Looking back there are so many things I wanted to happen that didn’t and vice versa- things that happened that I didn’t want or expect. I’m quite glad things played out the way they did because now I “consider that maybe God closed that door because he knew [I was] worth so much more.” [Unknown]

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So as 2015 comes to an end all I can confess is that it’s been a WILD ride; and as 2016 quickly approaches I can honestly say that it will be year unlike any other, and I can’t wait to see where it takes me. So many firsts, so many opportunities; I hope I take each given to me.

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An open road awaits me…cant wait to see what landmarks I hit, hidden treasures I stumble upon, U-turns I face and exits I’ll take. My wild ride continues and my car is loaded with fuel that will last until I reach 2017. “A lot can happen in a year!” [Anonymous]

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As a writer I’ve learned this year that “ some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. Delicious ambiguity…” [Gilda Radner]

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 So long 2015! … 2016 I’ve buckled my seatbelt and am ready! Take me where you may. I’ll follow, but I’ll tell you now ahead of time, it’s not in my nature to always obey. 😉

 -xo ash

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Places I’ll Remember

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There are places I remember
all my life, though some have changed.
Some forever, not for better.
And some have gone, and some remain.

All these places have their moments
with lovers and friends I still can’t recall.
Some are dead and some are living.
In my life I love them all. [The Beatles]

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You know that experience when you leave a place and “say see you later”, but don’t actually know the next time you’ll be seeing it? Then weeks, months or maybe even years later you go back to that place and it’s as if nothing ever changed; didn’t skip a beat and just continued as if you had never left at all. Is there a word for this? Whatever it is, I simply love it. I love that you’re both so comfortable and know each other so well. I love having that connection, it makes leaving just a bit easier because you know when reunited what you’re coming back to. It’s almost a sense of safety and security.

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Cayucos: Summer of ’96

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Cayucos: Fall of ’15 [we traded in ice cream for ales]

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In this vast world it’s hard to find a place to make you feel comforted and special like this. I’ve traveled to many places and find this experience to be very rare. Two sweet beach towns that lie on the edge of the central coast of California have this very rare quality. Cayucos and Carmel have little pieces of my heart. Each time we meet its as if nothing has ever changed. These places played roles in making me who I am. They watched me grow.

But places aren’t the same as people, because when you leave a person you will not encounter the same one upon reuniting. They’re always slightly different. They’ve changed; even if it’s a minute shift. When we leave people, we take with us visions of how they were; memories that help when that persons gone and far away.

People evolve. They are ever moving. No person will be the same way they were when you left them. They meet new people that open their eyes in ways they never thought possible. New experiences change them and the way they see the world can slowly shift as well. So as I begin to embark on a new phase in my life I can’t promise that when I come back I will be exactly the same person. No, that would be ridiculous to assume. But I can promise to take all that I experience and learn, and make it a beautiful chapter in my growing story. I can only hope that when I return I will be an even better version of myself.

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❝So, what if, instead of thinking about solving your whole life, you just think about adding additional good things. One at a time. Just let your pile of good things grow. ❞Attachments, Rainbow Rowell

 

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To those I love, just know I’ll be back. Like an old Australian Proverb says: “We are all visitors to this time, this place. We are just passing through. Our purpose here is to observe, to learn, to grow, to love… and then we return home.” Remember this isn’t goodbye; its see you later.

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-xo ash

ps: To those who have helped shape me like the places and people in these pictures, thank you…in my life I love you all. (Anna, my kindred spirit, thank you for giving these places that much more meaning. Promise to let Tommy dance with YOU next time 😉 )Anna and Me


Carmel Favorites:

  • While in Carmel-by-the-Sea save your appetite and check out my favorite little Italian restaurant, Little Napoli. It is seriously the best! I always order the same thing and it never gets old. Be sure to order the crab bisque, steamed manilla clams and of course Chef Pepe’s famous garlic flatbread. Made from a 100 year old family recipe it will transport your taste buds to Italian citys like Rome, Naples, Sorrento or Capri! If there’s still room, have a cappuccino and share the Tiramisu..you wont be sorry.

    Cayucos Favorites

  • Run off all the food you ate at Little Napoli and take a jog on my favorite stretch of beach, Sand Dollars. Perfectly named, this public beach is littered with little white sand dollars early in the morning and has the best view of both Morro Bay and downtown Cayucos. I love getting up early and jogging on the sand, or finishing the day watching the sunset and strolling.

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Island Vibes

“Aloha! In just a few short minutes we will be landing at Kahului Airport. It is currently 75 degrees in Lahaina, with 68 percent humidity and 10 percent chance of showers. Please keep your seatbelts on until the captain has turned off the fastened seatbelt sign. We hope you’ve enjoyed your flight and once again thank you for flying United Airlines.”

I slid the shade of the window seat open and was greeted by the most beautiful sight; the island of Maui. The beautiful lush island with rocky lava rocks jetting out of the indigo blue water reminded me of Jurassic Parks ‘Isla Nublar’ (which was fitting because as we landed my Ipod began to play John Williams Jurassic Park musical score– it was pure magic!)

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Friendly locals with sincere smiles greeted Lexie and me at the gate; a nice change from the forced plastic grins we were used to day-to-day back at home. We briskly claimed our luggage and walked to a bus that shuttled us to our rental car company. By the time we finished signing wavers and insurance papers the sweet humidity had set in and we couldn’t wait to turn on the cars A/C.

We had made it to Maui, the small island 2,471 miles away from California and a 5-hour plane ride across the Pacific Ocean and now it was our time to explore!8.10.15_053

[While in Hawaii we did so many fun and interesting things it would take me a couple of days to divulge the fun we had, so I chose to share some of the trips highlights]

.:. We had our Blue Crush moment! The minute we booked our trip to Hawaii, Lexie and I discussed the top things we wanted out of our adventure. We both agreed we had to recreate and capture a specific scene from the movie Blue Crush. For those who have never seen Blue Crush…have you been living under a lava rock!? In the movie the main character Anne Marie Chadwick, like many pro surfers, does underwater rock running to improve lung capacity and prepare her for the Pipe Masters Surf competition. We scouted the perfect location- Airport Beach- and combed the beach for the perfect boulder. We grabbed the biggest rock we could find, which honestly wasn’t that big but did the job, and got to work. 8.10.15_075

I wont lie it was difficult positioning ourselves perfectly at the bottom of the sea floor but in the end we got it! We tanned and relaxed on the beach for the rest of the day with not a worry or care in the world. We later celebrated our first day with special concoctions named after Hawaii’s famous exotic fruit, lilikoi, also known as yellow passion fruit.

‘Let’s unwind,
Don’t worry your mind,
There’s paradise waiting for us in summertime.
The warm thoughts set your tension’s aside,
There’s a paradise waiting for us in summertime.’

-Vacationer

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.:. While exploring Lahaina we stopped into a local swim shop and met the first of many down to earth locals; Bonnie. She introduced us to life changing bikinis and helped us find the perfect fitting pieces. We were told we needed to continue to tan in order to get rid of our mainland tans and I wasn’t going to argue with that. We left the store with a variety of different bikini tops and bottoms but also a new appreciation for ourselves. Bonnie explained that the Hawaiians were so relaxed and that they could spot a tourist mainlander from a mile away because they were the ones that tried hard to fit in and really cared about appearance. They were the ones with the flashy colored expensive cars or designer handbags. True locals went with the flow, nothing was ever forced. I loved how straight forward and easy that mentality was. Lexie and I adapted quickly and set out to work on our local bronze tan. We hit the road and found ourselves at Slaughter House beach were we explored and captured some fun photos before the sun went down.

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beach bums


#livelikealocal: the motto I live by when traveling to knew places. I can’t stand tourist attractions with long lines, money traps and loads of teens taking selfies. I yearn for paths very rarely hiked and am open for whatever.

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travel buddys!

*Travel Tip– Find a travel buddy that has the same mentality as you. I was lucky enough to have explored Europe with Lexie and know we both have the same travel style. We both are unafraid of jumping off of rocks into unknown water and trying the local fish that looks like it was fished out of a sewer but tastes like absolute heaven. When it comes to food please be open-minded and if you really aren’t willing to take a risk be respectful of the culture that you are submerged in. I was once in Spain traveling with a small group of girls, Lexie being one of them. While in the middle of dinner one of the girls ruined the ambiance and experience because she couldn’t stand the “texture” of the fish we were eating and disrespectfully sent it back making a scene. For most of the trip she went on to eat boring sandwiches and pieces of bread throughout the day. Please don’t be that traveler. Be up for anything! If you don’t like it say thank you and move on, at least you can say you tried something new.

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.:. One of the longest and most exciting days of our trip had to be the day we traveled the famous road to Hana. We woke at 5:00 am and set out for a journey through one of Hawaii’s most scenic drives. The road leading up to the small town of Hana was breath taking. With a speed limit of 25 mph, the 64.4 mile Hana Highway has been noted as being one of the most dangerous stretches of land to drive. We wound in and out of 600 heart-stopping curves along narrow pieces of road and crossed 54 bridges that were architectural miracles/ masterpieces. We used the Gypsy Guide iphone app that used GPS to help direct us on where to go while also educating us on our surroundings. The apps narrator had the most regal yet soothing voice. Lexie fittingly named the man behind the voice Clemens. While traveling the Highway we made a pit stop to Nahiku, a small community off the eastern coast of Maui where George Harrison once lived.8.10.15_070

8.10.15_055We crossed closed bridges while in the town and were bitten by the first mosquitoes of the trip. We went on to swim in waterfalls that lined the road, saw our first black sand beach at Waianapanapa State Park and eventually made our way to Haleakalā National Park where we visited the lush Kīpahulu area.

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seven sacred pools

seven sacred pools

We made our way over incredibly slippery mossy rocks to the famous seven sacred pools and took in the surreal views that surrounded us. We went on to hike the Pīpīwai trail; a 4 mile round trip hike that took us through bamboo forests with views of fresh water streams that eventually lead us to the breath taking 400 foot Waimoku falls. I stood still in amazement. The sheer power of nature’s way to alter and define a moment in time was awe-inspiring.

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Hawaiian proverb: He wai makamaka ‘ole. Water that recognizes no friend.

Waimoku- meaning water that cuts, severs, amputates or breaks into two.

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one lane. one car. one cliff.

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abandoned house

We continued through a very dangerous one-lane road down the back of the island. Shhhh don’t tell, but according to our rental car company we weren’t allowed to drive that stretch of land, but being the rule breakers we are we did it anyways. We saw some of the most serene and untouched areas Maui has to offer but it came with a price. As the sun was setting we were visited by some rather annoying drivers that nearly ran us off the cliffs and took their road rage out on us. With no cell phone service we had no way of getting help if we needed it.

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serious case of road rage

I’m so proud of Lexie’s courageous decision to pass them up when confronted with the reckless guys following us. She pushed the gas pedal as hard as she could to escape and we drove as fast as we could. Our eyes locked on the rear view mirrors fearful their headlights would appear. We finally made it back home safely around 10 pm and later found out that the local police never went to that side of the island, which was known for its abandoned houses that meth addicts would escape to. Tourist love to buy shirts that say “I survived the road to Hana” but I personally don’t think those shirts would do our road trip justice. It was an amazing adventure to say the least.

.:.We took the most amazing helicopter ride with Sunshine Helicopters and our pilot Steve who gave us on an unreal areial experience through the islands of Maui, Lanai and Molokai. We saw the waterfalls that were filmed in Jurassic Park and learned the background history of the islands. The colors we saw were so vivid and the mountains were enhanced to another level. I felt like I was living in a dream as we flew above the clouds; one with the birds.8.10.15_049

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.:.We went on multiple snorkel tours and were fortunate enough to swim with green sea turtles and see Hawaiian spinner dolphins. Snorkeling confirmed what we had always known; that we’re basically mermaids!

put on your fins and get ready to swim!

put on your fins and get ready to swim!

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.:.On our last night in Maui we set sail on one of the Pacific Whale Foundations luxury catamarans. Lexie and I sat on nets suspended over the clear blue water, enjoying Mai Tai’s and taking in the pink cotton candy sunset sky. We spoke to one of the boats deckhands and she told us that the island had a way of telling people where they needed to be. I’ve always had a strong connection with the ocean and in that moment I felt like I was home. She said “the island has a way of giving us signs” then winked and walked away. I smiled and turned to look at the horizon and just then a pod of pacific bottlenose dolphins appeared at the bow of the ship. “Ashley!” I heard my name call out behind me, “if that’s not a sign I don’t know what is.” I turned and saw the deckhand grinning. Lexie and I looked at each other in awe. I still get chills thinking about the moment.

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Mahalo Maui for opening my eyes and reminding me of something I really needed to hear again: the world is too big to stay in one place & life is too short to do just one thing.

A hui kaua!

-xo ash

PS: Penny get up! It’s double overhead. It’s perfect pipe! The waves are calling, they’re going off. Can’t wait to jump in and see where the sea takes us. Thanks for being my tour guide partner. Remember “no leakies!” Haha– Brenan thanks for being our local guide to the island!

Week of the Shark!

It started like any other cloudy day in Cayucos. I was visiting my aunt and cousins like I had done every summer for the past couple of years, but this summer had been different. It was the first time we were allowed to stay home alone during the day. Neighbors were informed we were unaccompanied, so we were checked in on from time to time. I woke this morning with a need for adventure. I ran to my cousin Brian’s room and hurled myself onto his bed. “Brian! Let’s go to the beach! Please!!!” He quickly hid underneath his cave of blankets; “Get out Ashley! I’m sleeping!” I asked multiple times, whining and complaining until he finally got up. He told me that the weather wasn’t suitable to swim in the ocean, plus he didn’t feel like going in the water. The water on the central coast is especially cold and murky and he didn’t feel like pulling on his tight wet suit. Suddenly a small smirk appeared on his face, (I should have known he was up to no good). He was unusually nice as he poured us both bowls of cereal. “I have a better idea. Lets watch a movie! Have you ever seen “Jaws”?” I paused, thought about it for a second, “Nope.” He ran to the television set and pushed in a VHS tape. As the story unraveled my eyes we’re glued to the screen. I remember my heart speeding up and going along with the music each time the shark appeared in the water. Once the movie ended I slowly turned and looked out the window. A large stretch of uninhibited beach that lay directly across the street from the house sat quietly. It’s only a movie I thought to myself.

As I turned to walk the long hallway to the back room Brian who was dressed in black board shorts, a black O’Neill rash guard with his blue boogie board in hand greeted me. “What are you doing?!” I asked with hesitation. “We’re going to the beach and you have to go in the water! I’m older and watching you so you have to do what I say” he exclaimed. “No! Please, Brian! I don’t want to go to the beach anymore!” Knowing I was deathly afraid of being left alone he told me I had five minutes to get ready or he’d leave without me. I ran to my room, threw on a bathing suit and rash guard, and met up with Brian as he was walking out the door. The whole walk to the beach all Brian talked about was the movie. “Did you see the rows of teeth on that shark?! It bit that girl right in half, crazy huh?” As we approached the beach I told myself to be brave. Brian ran into the water “Come on you chicken!” I’m tired of being called a chicken, I can go in just like you, I thought. As we swam and time went on my fear of what lied beneath on the ocean floor vanished. It was that day I became infatuated with the ocean AND sharks!

Each year I geek out and mark my calendar for the best week of the year…SHARK WEEK! I’m fascinated with the biggest predators of the sea, (so much so that cage diving with Great Whites is on the top of my bucket list.)

For many, watching Shark Week each year has turned sharks from what used to be man-eating monsters into majestic creatures. I applaud the marine biologist and researchers that put so much time and effort into creating educational yet exciting episodes for viewers to enjoy. They’ve helped changed the opinions of so many people. I’ve learned sharks don’t purposefully swim rampantly looking to consume humans. Ultimately, we must remember when entering the ocean we are no longer guaranteed anything, we have entered their home. We must learn to respect these amazing creatures, their habitat and continue to educate ourselves with the hope that attacks on humans AND the capturing and inhumane slaughtering of sharks decrease over time.

My gold leaf shark tooth necklace is my favorite!

My gold leaf shark tooth necklace is my favorite!

Unfortunately, the practice of killing sharks for their fins has put these amazing creatures at risk. Shark fin soup is a delicacy in China and finning sharks, leaving more than 95% of their dead bodies to waste away and sink to the bottom of the ocean floor, has become a very serious and sad reality for many sharks. The shark population around the world has begun to steadily decline, with 100 million sharks being slaughtered each year to meet the markets demand. What most people don’t know is that shark fins have no nutritional value and contain high levels of mercury and BMAA, a neurotoxin linked to neurodegenerative diseases in humans; like Alzheimer’s and Lou Gehrig disease. With programs like Shark Week and the help of people around the world we can continue to educate ourselves and help our fish friends.


SPREAD THE WORD:

  • A little goes a long way! Help sharks around the world by donating to organizations committed to help save sharks. There are multiple great shark conservation groups but my ultimate favorite is Sea Shepard and United Conservationist. By donating to these marine and shark conservationist you to can help decrease the number of finned sharks in our oceans waters.
  • Buy #finfree products. Lucky for me one of my favorite stores LUSH partnered up with Discovery Channels Shark Week and has given us all the opportunity to connect and help our finned friends. With every purchase of the specially made, vegan free shark fin soap, LUSH will give 100% of the proceeds to United Conservationist. If soaps not your thing, you can purchase this months charity pot; a hand and body lotion that smells like heaven. All proceeds go to PangeaSeed; whose main focus is to “raise awareness and education for the conservation and preservation of oceans and marine species.”
  • Use your voice! Help sharks by simply talking about them. Defend them with the facts you know when they are talked about in a negative light. [FACT: Cows kill more than five times the number of humans than sharks do! I’m staying away from cows!] Educate yourself about these stunning animals and voice the need for a #finfree ocean! Knowledge is power!

Have an amazing shark week, and please don’t be afraid to jump in the water! Respect the ocean and its sharks, and remember, we’re their biggest threat AND their only hope! “Fish are friends NOT food!”

Get in the water!

-xo ash

PS: Thanks Bri for making me go into the water that day! Hope you’re making a splash in the land of maple leaves and hockey. Love and miss you!—Shout out to the Norling Aquarium for allowing me to shoot with their sharks. Danielle you’re the best!

Thanks John Williams- two notes and you made a villain! Totally brilliant!