The Killing Type Is Killing Me

So it started as a very short short story.   A woman saves a dog destined for terrible things, kills a man in the process.

You know. That old story.

Then, the short short story wanted to keep going. So I obeyed it and kept writing.  It started turning into a revenge novel.  Two more wild women characters made themselves known and ganged up together to pursue a mutual stalker.

Now, it seems there is a heist on the horizon.  And half a dozen more characters.  And a dog sanctuary in Mexico.


This thing will either be a total train wreck or a nifty book.  Jury’s still out.

I posted a link to the opening of it when I first wrote it as a short story for the Akashic Booksblog back in January, but here it is again, at the bottom here, if you missed it then.  It was called THE KILLING TYPE (yes,  title is a vigorous nod to Amanda Palmer, who I ran into at yoga last week and who, I can report, has an exquisite handstand-into-wheel move in her repertoire.) I think the title still fits.

Amanda Palmer Not In Handstand

In other news, if you live in Seattle, I am reading there Monday, Labor Day, with cohort Amanda Stern, at the Bumbershoot Festival.  Also, I’ll be reading Sept 14th in NYC for a LitCrawl event and then again October 13th  in NYC for a Nuyorican Poets Reunion Thingamajigger (this will be REALLY COOL).  I’ll post more details when I get back from Seattle.  And if you want more info on the Seattle reading, drop a note to

This concludes this newsy blog post.  Well, not quite.  Here is

The Killing Type

The sun wasn’t thinking about rising yet. Neither was Lincoln, the guy I had come to Cancun with.

“I’d really like to take you to Cancun, baby,” he’d said two weeks earlier, on our third date.

I laughed.

“What’s funny about that?”

I pictured high-rise resort buildings choking coastline. Portly Americans choking resort buildings. Me choking Lincoln.

“Nothing,” I said.

* *

Eighteen hours into our trip, after we’d had sex in the very large hotel bed and Lincoln had swigged half a bottle of tequila, he passed out. I got up and stood staring at him. He looked rugged, smart. He was neither.

I put my blue dress on, stuffed toothbrush, wallet, and passport into my handbag. I might come back in a few hours.  Probably not.

 * * *

I went to the reception area, asked the concierge for a cab. In butchered Spanish, I asked the driver to head away from the resorts and into the actual city of Cancun.

“Where?” he asked in English.

“Anywhere,” I said.

“My name is Jin,” he said. “Not Jim. Jin.”

“Okay,” I said.


We were stopped at a traffic light in a barrio of low, shambled buildings beneath a highway overpass. An old man crossed the street carrying a chicken in a cage. Two women, maybe hookers, wearing glitter and not much else, teetered after him. Just past the light, a pickup truck was parked and I watched a man in a straw hat hoist a dozen reluctant, emaciated dogs into the back of the truck.

The light turned green.

“Please pull over,” I told Jin.

“Pull over?” he turned back to look at me.

“Yes. Please,” I said.

  * * *

As Jin edged in behind the pickup, the man in the straw hat hopped back in his truck and nosed into the street. I asked Jin to follow.

“Amo perros,” I said, in Spanish.

Jin thought a few things, but didn’t say any of them.

The pickup made its way to Carretera Federal 307. Maybe we would drive all the way down to Belize, chasing the truck of emaciated pit bulls.

  * * *

After thirty minutes, the pickup made a left onto a road lined in scrub and swamp. Rising sun burned pink halos around the shrubs.

The road came to a village. The pick up made a sharp right and, after a few miles, turned right again onto a dirt path. Jin tried to follow, but there were too many dips and pits.

“Nothing down there anyway,” he said, in English. “Swamp and crocodiles.”

“If you wait for me, I’ll give you a thousand pesos,” I said.

“What are you going to do, Miss?” he asked.

“My name is Eloise. Please just wait, Jin,” I said, digging five hundred pesos out of my bag. “I’ll give you more if you wait. Please.”

I got out of the car.

It was already hot out, the air starting to shimmer. Mangrove swamps on either side of the dirt path. Stubby trees between swamp and path.

I heard a man’s voice, yelling.

I looked all around me, found a rock with a sharp edge.

A few more paces, and I came to a clearing. The man in the hat was pulling a brindled dog from the truck over to a tree, attaching him to a chain there. About ten dogs were still in the bed of the truck. Off to the side, the bodies of many dead dogs. Left to die some previous day. Picked open by vultures.

The man had his back to me. The dogs had all seen and smelled me, but none barked. Maybe they’d had their vocal cords cut—a popular operation among sub-humans who make dogs fight.

I walked forward, creeping along the sandy dirt surface. I got very close to the man in the hat before he finally felt me there and turned around.

He said something in fast, Mayan Spanish. He was several inches shorter than I. He pulled a gun from the pocket of his polyester trousers and pointed it at my heart.

I peed in fear. Felt the urine stream down my bare legs.

I ducked to the side, lifted my jagged rock, smashed it into the side of the man’s face.

He stumbled, put a hand to his head, but didn’t drop the gun. He fired at me. Missed. Went to fire again. Gun jammed.

One of the dogs, no more than a puppy, tan with a white chest and a bite wound on his leg, ran over, stood over the felled man, barking. The other dogs had been beaten down too long for an uprising.

The man tried to fire once more, aiming at the puppy this time.

I don’t kill spiders or even ants. I’m a vegetarian. I’m not the killing type.

As the man fumbled with his gun, I brought the rock down so hard, his entire face turned to pulp. The gun fell from his hand. I picked it up. I had only ever fired a shotgun. I braced myself and tried firing into the man’s chest. It worked fine. But scared the puppy.

“It’s okay, Perro,” I said, crouching down. The puppy came closer. Licked my hand.

I wiped the gun down on my dress then, using the fabric as a glove, put the gun back in the man’s pocket.

The puppy watched as I rolled the man’s body over to the edge of the swamp into the water.

I got the remaining dogs out of the pickup and tied them to trees so they’d be in shade until I could get help. The dogs had big heads and starved bodies, butchered ears and open wounds. But not one of them challenged me. The only one who would even meet my gaze was the puppy. His eyes were bright green.

  * * *

Jin had waited. I climbed into the back of the cab, holding the puppy to my chest.

  * * *

The sun was all the way up now.


Quasimodo and Esteban

When I was a little kid, I loved “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”.

Yes,  I read it IN FRENCH when I was about ten.  I was living in France so it’s not as foufou as it sounds.

I was a wild and fairly rotten kid and was always either off adventuring on my bike or locking myself in my room to read and block out my parents who I considered intrusive and disruptive.  They expected me to do things like go to school or eat dinner.

One of my punishments for wildness and contrarianism was that my step-father bought me dozens of French classics in French.  If I wanted to read obsessively,  it had to be classics in French

So it was that I came to read Sartre, Camus, Moliere and, more benignly, Victor Hugo, in French, when I was ten. This probably explains a lot.  Also, I am grateful for this totally unsentimental education (yes, there was some Flaubert in there too.)

I don’t remember much about The Hunchback of Notre Dame.  Except of course Quasimodo and his bell-ringing.

Not long after reading the book, I went to the top of Notre Dame de Paris and looked at the bell and looked all over for Quasimodo.  He was not there.  But there were gargoyles and these appeased me. 

Yesterday, walking the dogs in the cemetery, we came across this weird bell thingamajig.  Stevie was fascinated and went to stand on the bell memorial – or whatever it is. 

This doesn’t even vaguely resemble the bell atop Notre Dame de Paris.  Looks a bit more like The Alamo and so it’s fitting that Esteban, “Stevie”, the Mexican Beach Dog, should be interested in it.

There is no moral to this story.



The Curse Of The Drop By

I’ve mentioned that I’m a Boring Person.  I like leading a quiet, simple life with some degree of stability and predictability.  I am not very spontaneous.  And I have a meltdown if someone stops by unannounced.

My first couple of years living upstate were traumatic as I came to know THE DROP BY.  I was living in Woodstock and,  in Woodstock, unless you are a TRUE shut in, (I am only a semi shut-in) everyone knows where you live.  And drops by.  It was really good for Mickey’s socialization after he got sprung from death row and came to live with me and had NO idea how to interact with the world.  Drop bys were helpful in getting him used to all kinds of people entering his space.  He even started to like it. But I didn’t.

Woodstock House aka The Drop By House

I’d always heard stories of NICE country drop bys, even remembered some from childhood. Neighbors bringing pies or seeing if you needed help with the various vagaries of country life.  But the old school drop by may be a thing of the past.  My drop byers were acquaintances who happened to be driving by, saw my car in the driveway, knew I was always home “working”, (their quotes, not mine) and so, would drop by — and usually expect some level of civility and hospitality.  It was awful.

I do like people. But I grew up as an only child, moving every six months till I turned 18 when I planted myself in lower Manhattan. There, I shared a studio apartment with my close friend Bliss. Bliss and I both had low-paying full-time jobs and, when we weren’t working, we were drunk and dancing. Our tiny tenement apartment was in the back of a walk-up with no doorbells and we didn’t have a phone. We were safe from drop bys.  Plus, we didn’t have any other real friends. We had an intensely close friendship, kind of like Laverne and Shirley if they’d been CBGB’s habituees on downers with dyed hair and dog collar jewelry.  It’s unlikely anyone WANTED to drop by.

A few years down the line, Bliss fell in love and married and moved back to the country to have children.  I forged ahead and belatedly went to college in Boulder, Colorado.  I shared a little house with a succession of roommates.  We lived downtown.  I had a bunch of scraggly poet friends, some of them very prone to DROPPING BY. My various roommates enjoyed and even encouraged this behavior.  I had the back-facing bedroom and, if I managed to see the potential drop-byer coming, I’d hide in my room, ducking down below window-level until the drop-byer had given up and gone to drop by on someone else.

I moved back to NYC and, by the time I was ready to leave for good, 20 years later, I had in fact learned how to have friends and sometimes even be spontaneous,  but there are no DROP BYS in NYC (that’s why people LIVE in NYC.)

After a few years in Woodstock, living victim to random drop bys, I ran out of money and sold my house, then took a rental on a semi-remote farm outside Saugerties. I lived in a  converted hay barn a few hundred yards from a farmhouse where a woman named Polly lived.   Polly and I became close friends.


Polly had the space (and the temperament) for dinner get-togethers, barbeques, and other nice social things people do and I often took part in these festivities.   Polly is a person others are drawn to.  And brings to mind a quote from a Will Self story I love: “…she exuded a certain wholesome quality, as palpably as if a vent had been opened on her forehead and the smell of bread baking had started to churn out.” Though Polly will no doubt dispute the accuracy of  “wholesome” as applied to her.

Polly was prone to receiving drop bys and, from the second floor window of my little house, I could  watch the people who were dropping by on her and pick and choose the times to join in the drop-by fray.  It was perfect.  Polly was my inadvertent Drop By Gatekeeper.

Once a nomad, always a nomad though and, after a year living on the farm I got restless.  I moved back to Brooklyn, to Bed Stuy where there was absolutely no chance of drop-bys.  After a year there,  I realized I really am a country girl and I moved back upstate, to remote Olivebridge, about 30 minutes west of Woodstock.  It was lovely and cheap.  But it was a hotbed of DROP BYS.

Mickey, contemplative in Olivebridge

At first, there were DAILY drop-bys from my landlord who didn’t really have any place to go after renting his house to me.  He had installed a trailer on his girlfriend’s land a mile down the road, but the girlfriend would get sick of the sight of him and tell him to take a hike.  So he would.  To his house, aka, MY house. I’d be in the middle of doing something compromising like  typing while naked, or manually pulling half-digested grass clumps out of Mickey’s butt, when I’d look up from what I was doing and find my 80-year-old-landlord watching me.

One day, I lost it and screamed at him, waving my lease in his face.  Soon after, he went to winter in Florida.  But in his place were  other ne’er do well drop-byers from up or down the road.  There was the alleged male hustler who had bought the land across the road and would periodically turn up, standing in the road, staring from his land to my house.  The homesteader neighbors looking for their chickens or goats or sometimes foraging in my woods for dead animal carcasses to feed their dogs.

The only nice drop bys were from friend and neighbor Farmer Thom who would  occasionally do a drop by on his tractor.   It was so novel to get a drop by from a guy on a tractor that I didn’t mind. Plus, he usually brought me something.  Vegetables, a portable heater, a plunger.

Thom Drop By On Tractor

A year and a half ago,  I moved to Hudson. Hudson is sort of a microcosm of all the good aspects of Brooklyn.  People of various races, economic brackets and sexual preferences all merging in a small city on the edge of the Hudson river.  It’s urban but surrounded by beautiful farmland.  Small enough to still feel like a village. People are friendly but there is just enough crime to keep the citizens slightly wary and unlikely to give or receive drop-bys.

If I walk outside, I am extremely likely to have a naturally-occurring drop-by, i.e. an unplanned encounter with an acquaintance. I have learned to (mostly) appreciate these interactions and (mostly) do not duck into the first alley when, from a distance, I spot someone I know.

I can deal with and actually enjoy Naturally Occurring Random Social Interaction.  As long as it isn’t a gateway drug to receiving DROP BYS.





Photo Compulsion

I used to be a compulsive photographer. I had a decent camera and an at-home dark room back in the pre-digital days.

I was interested in NYC as embodied by my fellow fringe-dwellers.  To this end, I spent a fair amount of time hanging around a pack of loud and lovely transvestite hookers in the meat-packing district (this was something like 1992).  I got some cool shots.Mostly, I was obsessed with printing. I would spend entire days in my little dark room, breathing in chemicals, printing and re-printing, manipulating the images.  Here is one of my friend Kyosuke.


I had no interest in doing it professionally.  It was just something I loved.  And I couldn’t stop.  I had a part-time job at the National Writers Union .  I worked there three days a week and the other days I wrote. I barely eked by financially, but this was deliberate. I  kept myself poor so I’d be “hungry” and write and write until I broke through and had some kind of success.

Except I was writing less and, instead, PRINTING.  Taking photos was just a means to an end for PRINTING.

I never met my paternal grandfather, but he was an artist.  My father was a horseman by profession, but was also freakishly talented at drawing. He never practiced or studied it, he could just draw.  I can draw a little, but not nearly as well.  I wanted to paint but I REALLY sucked at that. PRINTING REALLY BIG PICTURES was perhaps the natural evolution of having a visual impulse but not enough talent to express it in paint.

I was itching to get photo paper on a giant roll and make monster-sized prints.  I was funneling ALL my money into darkroom stuff.  I was going completely broke from PRINTING.  Also, I wasn’t getting enough writing done.

So one day I went cold turkey.  I dismantled the dark room, selling or giving stuff away.  I gave my camera away. If I saw something cool and had the urge to photograph it, I thought about something else, like sex or food or coffee.  I didn’t allow myself to take a single picture.  After a couple of years, I allowed myself to buy disposable cameras and use those. Occasionally, I’d get a good picture.  And the old urges would stir.   So I stopped buying disposable cameras and didn’t take a single picture until the advent of cell phone cameras.  These were initially so primitive it was virtually impossible to get a good picture.  But I’d try anyway.  I couldn’t help myself.

Here is one of Cooper Lake in Woodstock. It was totally an accident.  On a pre iPhone  phone.  I was amazed when I uploaded it to my computer.  I felt some stirrings.  Urges to have it printed and blown up REALLY BIG. 

But I contained myself.

When the iPhone came along, I started accidentally taking more and more good photos.  Though I imposed the limitation of only photographing dogs and using iPhoto to do any manipulating of images.  Photoshop would be a gateway drug.  Soon, I would want to have digital stuff PRINTED and that would get expensive and compulsive.

The other day, I was out with Mickey, doing my version of morning meditation, walking with him in a beautiful place, quieting my mind by seeing the world through his eyes.   Mickey probably didn’t notice the sky, but I did.  It was as beautiful as the tranny hookers from the 1990’s.  I pointed and shot and got this picture.

And now I’m caving.  I’m going to let myself use an Actual Camera.  Not often, not for long, but I’m going to do it.

Compulsions are often born of good instincts.  Those of us who are predisposed to want to FEEL ENGULFED ALL THE TIME take good instincts and turn them into compulsions.  Wanting more and more and more.  Too much is never enough.  Sometimes we have to completely renounce the things that we were compulsive about.  Other times,  it IS possible to learn to do something in moderation, in a HEALTHY way.

So now maybe, just maybe, I can take pictures IN MODERATION.

Maybe not. If you don’t hear from me for a few months, you’ll know where to find me.  Hunched over a computer, with untrimmed hair and toenails, smelling ripe, subsisting on Clif bars, and  manipulating images.





Dog Lady Magazine

My friend Porochista Khakpour, a smart and gorgeous writer I met at Yaddo a few years back, had a dream that she started a magazine called Dog Lady Magazine.

Porochista announced this dream to her friends and there was a unanimous clamoring (if clamoring can be unanimous) for her to really do it, to launch Dog Lady Magazine.

I jokingly volunteered myself as co-editor and Porochista, a force of nature, seriously took me up on it.

And so, I proudly announce the birth of Dog Lady Magazine: A Magazine of Women and their Canines.

One of our taglines will be “From Pitbulls to Poodles” because, fittingly, I have “pit bulls” (aka mutts with short hair and big heads) and Porochista has a poodle named Cosmo.

Porochista and Cosmo

Moments after we decided that we would in fact do this, Porochista  found inspiring photos of Dog Ladies of the Past.  My favorite of these was Gertrude Stein with her poodle Basket.

Gertrude Stein and Basket


Though I studied Gertrude Stein semi-extensively one semester at Naropa University, I somehow never encountered stories of her poodle named Basket.   One of the regular features of Dog Lady Magazine will be Dog Ladies in History, each issue featuring the story of a Dog Lady from a bygone era.

There are zillions of dog magazines, even more zillions of dog books.  And our world is rife with literature about CAT LADIES but, now, it’s time for a magazine by and for the ladies who love dogs.

I like the “from pit bulls to poodles” approach, so the featured Dog Ladies won’t JUST be zealous pit bull advocate types like me, but will include people like my mom, who has FIFTEEN POODLES.

Zealous Pit Bull Type Me

One of the FAQ’s I get from my mom’s friends is “Why don’t you have a poodle?”

The short answer is “Because I fell in love with a pit bull from death row and that changed my life and worldview.” And made me an unrepentant Dog Lady.

I am excited about this. Though I’m already writing two books and trotting out the occasional magazine piece, (soon embarking on a profile of Extreme Dog Man Jon Katz) usually, the more work I have on my plate, the more productive I become, less prone to wiling hours away watching Cat Dressed In Shark Costume Cleans Floor videos and/or shooting videos of Mickey rolling and exposing himself.

Here is Mickey exposing himself.

Porochista is about to head out West for some journalistic exploits involving buried treasure (seriously) but, when she gets back, we will be developing our ideas, doing some photos and videos, and, as is the modern way,  launching a Kickstarter campaign to get Dog Lady Magazine our of our heads and into the world.

Until then, I will spend my spare time trolling Animal Farm Foundation’s incredible gallery of historical pit bull photos, including many featuring Dog Ladies and the pit bulls who loved them.




The Killer In Me

I posted a photo of a praying mantis on Facebook and asked “What is this insect?”

“Praying mantis” seemed too obvious.  Also, I didn’t know a praying mantis could have PINCERS on its butt.

Stevie the Dog had an altercation with a green praying mantis and, that night, broke out in horrible allergic hives. It was late when I came home and saw his condition.  The nearest emergency vet is not very near.   We gave him Benadryl and half a dog tranquilizer to calm him down and get him to stop scratching, but then I became convinced he could go into anaphylactic shock and DIE. So I fretted all night and barely slept as I stared at his hives and kept checking his breathing.  The next morning, the hives were gone and he was back to his mischievous self.

Stevie plotting mischief

Many people responded to my query about the mantis.  Most informed me that it was indeed a praying mantis. My friend Laura promptly texted: How could you not know what a praying mantis looks like?

In Laura’s world, that kind of ignorance might be punished by being forced to go muck out the goat shed, but I do not live at Laura’s, so my lone punishment for this Insect Ignorance was being mocked by her.


My friend Deb said that it is illegal to kill a praying mantis. I said it was too late, Stevie had already killed off his aggressor.

But this is not true.

Stevie and the mantis came to blows with the mantis literally PUNCHING Stevie in the nose with its arms that, as far as I can tell, do a lot more punching than praying.  I think it’s interesting to note that this insect is called a PRAYING mantis, even though, to me, its arms look like they’re built for boxing.  I wonder if, in other cultures, with better separation of church and state,  it is called a PUNCHING mantis.

Stevie pawed the insect and tried biting its narrow body.  Of course, I was trying to stop all this.  I realize that dogs are dogs and they kill things, but this was unnecessary torment.  The mantis put up a fierce fight, but Stevie struck several violent blows and the mantis could barely move.  So I took off my shoe and SMASHED THAT MANTIS.

I can’t stand suffering.

The late Lulu the Cat, in her youth, would bring birds home.   Still alive.  She wasn’t hungry enough to kill and eat them, but had the instinct to catch them.  And bring them home for me.  At the height of her bloodlust, a few dozen seriously maimed birds ended their lives smashed by a brick I kept on hand for this very purpose.

When my friend Deb said that mantis-killing is illegal, I blamed Stevie.

But now I’ve admitted it. I killed the praying mantis.  I’ve also killed a lot of birds and polished off some tormented mice too.

I don’t know what the Buddhists say about this.  I know they say all life is suffering, but what are we supposed to do about that suffering?  I want to end it and end it swiftly, but maybe it’s not my place, I don’t know.  When I say “I can’t stand suffering” it IS all about me.  I don’t want to see or think of a creature or person suffering – because that makes ME suffer – so I intervene.  But is this the right thing to do?

Sometimes killing IS the merciful thing.  I think.

I know that some people want to be killed rather than suffer the end stages of terminal illness. But euthanizing people is not permitted.

As it happens, it is NOT illegal to kill a praying mantis.

My friend Paul, a resourceful, encyclopedic type, uncovered the information that while there has been a persistent legend that killing a mantis is illegal, it is just this, a legend.

So I legally killed a praying mantis.  I did say “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry” as I smashed it with my shoe.  Does that make it better?

Not if you’re a punching mantis.





Abandoned Food Story

I spend a lot of time in the cemetery.  Not out of some Goth ethos, but because it’s a beautiful cemetery.

The cemetery serves as this small city’s lone good-sized park.  People walk dogs there, jog, meander.  There are magnificent trees offering shade on steamy days.  Also, there are many very old (by American standards) tombstones.  They are lovely in their decay.  Evocative.  Good places to look for character names too. 

It was while meandering the cemetery last summer that I came up with the (admittedly absurd, but, to me, enchanting) idea for the short story Zombie Hookers of Hudson.  It’s not a sinister cemetery, so my zombie hookers aren’t sinister either.

What is sinister though is the potatoes.

Someone is leaving POTATOES all over the cemetery.

A few days ago, Mickey suddenly lunged at a bush.  I thought he was hunting a rodent, but no.  He was hunting a giant pile of food left behind this bush. These things weren’t left on or even near anyone’s grave.  They were behind a bush.

Sometimes there are people in parked cars in the cemetery.  This is a little disquieting.  There are folks who go tend the graves of loved ones too, but I don’t know what these PARKED PEOPLE are doing.

The other day, I saw an older couple parked.  They weren’t making out or preparing to go tend a grave. Both seemed to just be staring ahead.  They didn’t smile or wave.

When, a little while later, we passed their parked car again, the man had gotten out  and was slowly walking down one of the cemetery roads, CARRYING POTATOES in his hands.

This reminded me of a story I read a long time ago about a trial for obesity treatment.  Morbidly obese people would check into a clinic and be put onto a strict diet.  These were very large people.  They could not fit into bathrooms and so,  periodically, nurses helped them get cleaned up. A nurse was sponge bathing one of the patients when, within the folds of the man’s flesh, she found POTATOES.  He had snuck them in, fearing intense hunger.  And they HAD BEEN COOKED BY HIS FLESH.

Today, we went to the older part of the cemetery.  People don’t park here, or tend to the graves much.  The dead are too long-dead to still have relations in the area. There are a lot of deer in this part of the cemetery. The deer are unafraid and stand staring at the dogs, even when Stevie barks at them or Mickey makes the high-pitched squeaking sound he makes when he’s not quite sure how to behave. He knows there is some traditional Dog v. Deer response he’s supposed to muster but he isn’t sure what it is.  Barking is pointless, chasing them has, in the past, resulted in his getting lost and injured, but, still, he’s a dog and they are deer.  They shouldn’t just stand there taunting him. Yet they do. They are unflappable deer.

Maybe they’ve been eating potatoes.

We walked on past the unflappable deer and the dogs started rolling in the grass. Both of them.  Over and over and over. 

They would walk a few steps then plop down and roll.  Again and again.

So I started rolling too.

Then, the man I’d seen carrying potatoes walked by.

He looked at me like I was nuts.