Sarah Jane Humke

The life of a traveling, reading, writing, spining and knitting shepherdess.

Adventures in Moving: Day 3 September 14, 2011

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6:30am Milo the insane cat wakes me up with scratching and meowing at the bedroom door.  She is definitely freaked out by this move.  Hopefully the movers will be able to clear the spare bedroom completely today so that I could open up the attic for her to go up into.  The attic is her favorite place in the world and where she feels safest.  And where I know she won’t be tempted to dart out the front door in a frenzy of fear.

9am Movers are here again.  I feel as though they will finish quite early today as they are whipping through what is left quite quickly.

10:30am Ventured out from the bedroom hole-up during the guys break.  The house feels unnaturally hollow and echo-y.  Malcolm luxuriated in being able to really stretch out and pranced about a bit to celebrate. I forget that he’s not ever seen the house empty.

11:30am Realized that one of the big problems with wrapping everything so thoroughly is that it is going to be wickedly difficult to tell what’s what at a glance and also how heavy it would be.  Also, how fragile it will be.  They are putting my massive clay pots into boxes.  Hmmm.

Noon  Now I get why people always talk about losing items during a move.  This is the first move that I’ve not packed for myself and already I am missing several things.  I’m sure it will only get worse.

12:45pm The movers are gone.  The fit the last of the items into their big truck and left.  The house seems very, very big suddenly.  Malcolm’s crate is gone, so he is a free range chicken for a while so to speak.


Tomorrow I am planning on heading into the city to see Jon of EasyKnits one more time and to kind of, I don’t know, say goodbye to London.






I can’t even… September 9, 2011

I am so stressed right now I can’t really write at all.  So instead I will give you pictures to show what my life is like right now…

Malcolm's massive travel "carrier" with Belle and Jiji atop it.

A selection of the clay pots scrubbed and bleached ready to be packed.

The top landing of the house filled with bagged-up fleece and fiber and a little bit of bedding.

These little towers of catty-ness are all over the place. Technically I'm not "allowed" to pack but if it was already in something they said not to unpack it....

More fiber and bedding. I'm kinda afraid that one of these piles will have a fleeceslide and bury me!


And still no sweaters….



Travel Tips and Hints March 27, 2011

So, I travel a fair amount.  More than some, less than others.  I almost always travel for leisure, in fact I think that I have only ever been on one business trip ever!  Anyway, I’ve decided to compile this list of tips and tricks that I have learned so that you don’t have to!  If you have a great travel tip, please let everyone know about it in the comments section!

Things to Pack

*Travel Panties (and socks):  When you have worn-out panties (or socks) that have holes in them, or worn-out elastic, or whatever, set them aside.  I quite often toss them in the empty suitcase.  When you travel the next time, just throw them away after you have worn them.  It’s not a lot of weight or space, but it does keep you from having to haul back dirty underwear (and socks).

*Thrift store clothes:  Buy some clothes at a local thrift store in your size (and that you would actually wear).  When you are done wearing them, leave them at the hotel on the bed, preferably with a note saying (in the local language) that whoever would like these clothes can have them.  This saves a LOT of space on the way back if you are a big shopper.  It is especially good for jeans, sweaters, sweatshirts, bulky items that take up a lot of space in a suitcase.

*Soak sample packs:  This is a great rinse-less delicates wash that can be really useful when on the go.  It’s sold in little sample packs that are great for one or two loads if you don’t do the whole “travel panties” thing.

*Shout travel wipes or tide pen: Cause it’s easier to treat stains now rather than later.

*Purex 3-in-1 laundry sheets:  My mom found these before our big Alaska trip and they work great. If you are going to be on a longer trip where you are going to be doing laundry, these are the ticket!  You just toss one of the sheets in and it has the detergent, fabric softener and anti-static for the load already embedded in sheet.  Genius!  No more detergent getting spilled and making a mess of the car!

*No Whites:  This one I got from my friend Malin at KC last year.  Don’t pack any whites, then you don’t have to do a load of whites!  So simple yet so easily not thought of!

*You get what you pay for:  If you are going to be doing a LOT of traveling, invest in a good bag for goodness sake!  The Hubby’s folks bought him a good TravelPro roll-aboard a few years before we were married.  If that bag got frequent flier miles, it would be in the pilots seat!  It’s still in really good shape, you couldn’t tell that it’s over 6 years old at this point (and used to get lived out-of for probably 45 weeks of the year for years!).  I also have a TravelPro and am really pleased with it.  Another bag that I have that has stood the test of time really well is a Boyt bag that my mother gave me when I was 12.  You read that right, 12.  It still looks really new.  If you are going to travel any significant amount, just get a good bag.  If nothing else, it’s better than shleping a busted bag around a foreign city! (Ask me how I know that one:-))  Another bag company that we’ve really liked is Reisenthel.

*Personal Med Kit:  Take a zippered bag and put in it a selection of OTC drugs for sicknesses that you get.  I get sinus infections, thus I have a sheet of Sudafed pills in mine.  Also, antacids, sleeping pills, ibuprofen, etc.  I also throw in a little tiny sewing kit for good measure.  It sucks to get sick when you are traveling.  It really sucks if you can’t get any meds.  A few packs of pills are light and will save your bacon if you do get ill!

*A light wrap: I usually carry a light pashmina-type wrap with me on the airplane.  It can be used as a scarf sure, but it is great as a little blanket if you get chilly.  Plus they are usually really light.

*Underwear, Socks and toothpaste:  Put a pair of socks a pair of underwear and your toothbrush and paste in your carry-on.  If your bag gets lost, you’ll thank me!

*Print-outs:  Print out the details of hotels, flights, etc that you have booked prior to your trip.  You may not be able to easily get to the info on your computer or smartphone once you get in the cab from the airport…  Also, a copy of the front page of your passport is a good thing to have on hand in case it gets stolen or lost.

*TP: I always carry a little plastic clam-shell that contains a mini-roll of TP.  It’s Charmin to go, but other companies do similar things.   It’s saved my ass many a time! (Yes, pun intended!)

*Plastic Baggies: Just throw a few extra Ziplocs in the suitcase when you leave.  I really love the Jumbo Hefty zipper bags (2.5 gallon!!).  They are good for putting that bottle of exotic booze, perfume, or whatever it is that you want into.  I’ve saved myself a damaged suitcase and clothes many, many times by doing this.  They don’t take any space, and when you get home, just leave them in the suitcase for the next trip!

*A flashlight:  This one I’m a little OCD about.  I usually have 2 or 3 of them in my purse on a normal day (including a headlamp, yes I know I am a serious dork!).  As good as the LED technology is now, there is no excuse not to have at least a little key chain light in your bag.  This is more for safety than anything, dark streets, dark hotel rooms are all a great way to trip and fall.  In a power outage, you’ll be the most popular person around!

*A Collapsible shopping bag:  Handy to have when you hit the markets in a new city.  Carrying a crappy, ripping plastic bag with something breakable in it as you are sightseeing around a city is NO FUN.

*Scale: If you are staying at a hotel while you are traveling, a luggage scale can save you a lot of money at the airport.  Especially if you like to shop:-)

*Earplugs: Screaming baby + 6 hour flight.  You’ll thank me!

(I know that this sounds like a ton of stuff, but most of it is quite small and a lot of it you wouldn’t take on every trip.)


*Hotel: Take a matchbook, business card, whatever with you when you leave the hotel.  If the crap hits the fan and you cannot, for whatever reason, remember where you are staying (believe it or not, it’s easy to happen) you have a name and address.  However, do not keep it in the same place as your room key in case of pick-pockets.

*Carry-on packing: Remember to pack for how long you are going to be traveling for.  A flight of a couple of hours doesn’t need as much stuff to keep you entertained as an over-seas flight.  Don’t pack 3 books, a 2 knitting projects and a selection of magazines for a 2 hour flight!!!

*Allergies: If you have an allergy, make sure that your travel companions know about it.  If you are unconscious in a foreign hospital, you want someone other than you knowing that you are allergic to morphine.

*Sleep:  If you don’t sleep well on planes (I don’t) , don’t try to force yourself with sleeping pills unless you absolutely have a serious meeting the next morning.  Otherwise you will end-up cranky and feeling unwell.

*Sleep Part II: Take a 3 hour nap after a red-eye flight then get up and have a full day.  Your clock will be pretty much reset.

*Driving: Don’t drive in the UK if you’ve taken the red-eye and have never driven here before.  It’s dangerous.  Trust me.  I would be wary of driving in Europe in general (cannot say for anywhere other than N. America and Europe) as the laws are quite a bit different from the US.  Spend a day on foot or public transit before hitting the road.

Tips for Knitters

*Needles on Airplanes:  You can, you can’t…. who the heck knows?!?!?  Here in the UK it is different from airport to airport and even airline to airline in the same airport.  So, take your knitting, but don’t take your favorite needles, don’t take metal needles and don’t make a big deal of it.

*Don’t take big, long, straight needles.  They freak people out.  Take dpn’s or circulars.

*Leave the knitting in the bag during take-off and landing.  That sometimes freaks out the flight attendants.  I think that they are afraid that you will stab yourself if there is an accident during take-off.

*Have knitting on the needles when you go through security.  That makes them freak out less:-)

*If you are really worried about having needles taken away, put them in with a bunch of pens and pencils.  They look more or less the same.

*Only carry-on the needles that you need for the project.  Put the rest of them in your checked-baggage.

*If you’re still really nervous about knitting on the plane, take up crochet!


Please feel free to add your favorite travel tips and hints in the comments!  I’ll hopefully blog tomorrow about Amsterdam…..


Insanity Wrap-up October 27, 2009

I’m sure that some of you have noticed that I haven’t been on here in a while.  That is because, my dear readers, I have been asleep or catching up on things that needed catching up on here in The Old Chapel.  Mostly sleeping though to tell you the truth.  I turned into sleeping beauty without the spinning wheel (or being a teenager for that matter!!!).  The hubby had to leave for France the morning after I got home which was probably good for him in all reality as I was a very boring person to be around for the first few days back, I don’t even snore (I just always look a bit angry when I sleep for some reason [I think it’s really a look of concentration, I take sleeping very seriously!]).

Anyway, I realize that I haven’t posted about the tail-end of my trip so here it goes:

While in Florida still, I had sort-of a crazy last day getting to see everyone that I hadn’t seen up to that point.  I was booked for breakfast, lunch and dinner on Wednesday.  It was sort of insane but very fun to get to see everyone.

On Thursday I flew out from Orlando to White Plains on AirTran.  Everything went well though I lost my sunglasses somewhere in transit (it was ok, the weather in New York was less than sunglass weather!).  I met my roommate Malin at the White Plains train station after a few navigational delays and we headed North towards Rhinebeck.  Once again I am super happy that I used Ravelry as a way to share room/rides as Malin and I hit it off amazingly well.  Well, I guess that isn’t too big of a surprise since we both traveled thousands of miles to go to a sheep and wool festival (crazy likes crazy).  The drive-up to the Hudson Valley was not as pretty as in years past as we had first rain, then sleet, then (I kid you not) snow.  As I have not driven in falling snow with insane New York drivers passing me like I’m road kill in a while (read: ever) it was a sort of disturbing drive for parts of it.  Also, because of the weather, the beautiful fall colors the area is known for were obscured.  However, we made it to our hotel without incident and went shopping.  Yes, you read that right, we went shopping.  Malin had never been to a T.J. Maxx or Marshalls or any store like that before so we went to the Marshalls nearby and she liked it (a lot).  I got a few things for home as well.  We also went to Target where I checked-off a bunch of things on my very odd list of things to get in the US including 2 extra value sized bottles of Pepto (it’s really expensive here).

On Friday Malin and I both had workshops that went all day.  It was nice to be there before the whole festival opened up as it gave both of us a chance to see just how really big the place is.  We checked-in and went off to our individual workshops.  This year they had fun goodie bags for all of the workshop participants with a pen and a button that featured Leicester Longwools, this year’s breed of sheep on it along with some candy bars and coupons for various booths.  My classes were both with Annie Modesitt who is an awesome instructor.  She’s a really fun teacher that I highly suggest that taking her classes is a must to anyone even if you think you already know everything!!!  Annie battled the noise in the building all day long and mostly kept her temper about it (I would have been about 10 bajillion times more bitchy.  I would have turned into a fire breathing knitting Godzilla of doom!!)  Malin’s class was a little less, uh, good.  The instructor for the class was ill  (a very common thing I found as I traveled, the flu was early this year) so a replacement was found a half an hour prior to the class starting.  Now, trying to set up a class on designing lace patterns on the fly cannot be easy.  I’m hoping that the committee will refund the folks in that class their money like they discussed.  Though, from what I gathered, the lady that stepped-in to teach it did as good of a job as possible on such short notice.  Anyway, at the end of the day I bought two of Annie’s books and had them signed by her.  If you haven’t already checked them out, I would totally suggest it.  They are: Knit with Courage, Live with Hope and Confessions of a Knitting Heretic.  They can both be purchased in the normal channels or via Annie’s Website.  The first class of the day I also got a copy of one of her awesome flip books detailing how to do “Grandma” knit and purl increases.

Friday night we went out to eat with a bunch of the other Rodeway Inn Raveler’s at the restaurant that is right by the hotel.  It was surprisingly nice with several birthday parties and, I think, a wedding reception going on.  The group was super fun and the food was excellent.  I got a calamari pizza that was surprisingly tasty, even cold the next day!  We left the restaurant full and pleased and really ready for bed!



Most of the "Rodeway Gang" on Friday night.


Saturday was the opening day of Rhinebeck.  Malin and I got up early and got a great parking spot close to the 4-H gate.  I can definitely say that this year wasn’t as busy as last year was.  There was only really a couple of hours that you had to fight the crowds off whereas last year it was the majority of the day.  I think that the fact that it was not the nicest weather this year had something to do with it all.  It was overcast and cold and constantly feeling as though it was going to to break into a storm at any minute for most of the day.  However, it was still the glorious insanity that is Rhinebeck and lots of goodies were bought and even more were fondled and oohed and ahhed over.   A few really fun things that we both did were knitting on the big sock (they are trying for a Guinness World Record [it’s a FREAKING big sock]) and getting to meet and have her new book “The Knitter’s Book of Wool” signed by Clara Parkes.



Still some lovely fall colors despite the rain





Goats are always fun!



One of the parking lots



The Saturday Ravelry Meet-up


Yes, there were even kangaroos there!!!


Aflac!!! Aflac!! A couple of the actual Aflac ducks.

By the end of the day, we were both pretty zonked so we stopped at the grocery store that is near the fairgrounds for some provisions and headed-out towards the Ravelry party in nearby Red Hook.  We got mildly lost (didn’t bring the parking instructions) but it was ok as we were really early still.  The parking lot at the nearby school was pretty empty when we got there and we were on the first bus.  The party was great!  With-out the parking hassles, everything went so much smoother this year compared to last.  The food was yummy the goodie bags were, well, goodie and the company was fantastic.  Malin and I were on the first bus in and the last bus out!!!  Woot woot!! Party girls!!!!  Major props to the Ravelry crew for putting together such an awesome event once again!


On Sunday we didn’t get up nearly as early nor were we out the door as fast.  Since we were checking out of the hotel, we needed to make sure that we packed everything and had it all loaded in the car for that afternoon.   Even with the later start, we got an even better parking spot on day two!  It was significantly colder than it had been on Saturday.  We kept hearing rumors about bad weather in the city which made us both nervous about getting home in a timely manner.  Plus, we were both pretty exhausted.  We went around to a few of the places that we weren’t able to get to easily on Saturday.  It was so quiet that The Fold (home of Socks that Rock) didn’t have a line.  At all.  It was amazingly quiet.  We got a few more things and watched some of the Sheep to Shawl competition and did some of the food tastings and left around 1pm.



Some of the ladies in the Sheep to Shawl competition


Blue Ribboned entries.


There was a guy there doing these awesome pumpkin carvings!


The drive back down to White Plains was pretty uneventful.  It was rainy and blowy but otherwise, no big surprises.  I dropped Malin off at the train station and made my way back to the White Plains airport where I dropped my car off and struggled to get all three of my very large bags into the airport.  I had just gotten into the door after a massive struggle when a very kind lady asked if I needed any help.  She didn’t work there, she must have just seen the look of near desperation on my face.  This kind stranger got me to the United check-in area where something even stranger faced me.  A really nice United gate worker.  He took one look at my face and had me just chill and breathe for a few minutes.  (I must’ve really looked like hell is all that  I can think!)  He then checked me in for my flights and even helped me carry my bags over to security!!!  Going through security was a breeze and I was left to chill in the airport as I was a couple of hours early.
However, as the time approached for my flight to start boarding, there was no notice anywhere.  I went over to the United counter and there was a sign saying that my flight to DC was delayed an hour.  This is seriously not good as I only had about a 50 minute transfer.  Speaking with the girl behind the counter, it pretty quickly became apparent that I was going to be spending the night somewhere that was not in the air London bound.  So, when the puddle jumper finally arrived, I got on it with a sense of resignation knowing that I either A.) would have to run like a bat out of hell for my gate or B.) would have a night in DC.  It was the latter as I missed my flight by about 10 minutes.  So, I walked over to the customer service area and amazingly my luck held as I got another very nice (though harassed) United employee who set me up for the night in a really nice resort hotel on the Potomac.  Luckily, the pub in the hotel was open until midnight so I was able to get some excellent food before going to bed.
My flight left the next morning at 9:30am and since my luggage was still in the bowels of Dulles airport, checking in was a cinch.  Everything left on time and we arrived at Heathrow a little bit early.  Really, the whole thing wouldn’t have been such a big deal if the hubby hadn’t taken the day off to hang-out with me.  I was more upset by that than anything else.  As it ended-up, I got in at around 9pm and it takes a good hour plus to get home from that airport.  The hubby had to leave for a business trip to Paris the next morning at 5am so we didn’t get a whole lot of time to spend together.



My nice room courtesy of United Airlines


See, really can't complain.

I then proceeded to sleep for the better part of the week while he was gone with at least 3 animals touching me at all times.




Milo giving me some love while I sleep

It’s good to be home.



My Dog is a Goat Wrangler. How the HELL did that happen?!? August 28, 2009

Today was spent mostly preparing.  I drove to Waterloo as I decided last night that I am going to need my Glenmorangie if I am to make it through this trip A.) alive and B.) somewhat sane.  I went to the big Hy-Vee that is out by the mall (for those of you not from Iowa or the Midwest, Hy-Vee is a grocery store chain) and they didn’t have it there but they said that they had a liquor store a few blocks away that probably would.  So, fortified with the directions to the store, off I went to get some scotch.  On the way there, I stopped at Hobby Lobby which is a very dangerous place for me to be able to stop at.  I only got some more kitchen cotton as they had colors I’d not seen at Jo-Ann’s nor Michael’s.  However, they had some really wonderfully hideous variegated and ombre “I Love This Yarn” colors that had sparkle! (insert jazz hands here)  I adore ugly ombres and variegated yarns and sparkle, well that’s just icing.  Hobby Lobby always has the best ugly around since they have their own yarn brand that they have a habit of making yarns for different seasons and holidays.  To quote Mr. Universe “You guys always bring me the very best violence. “…… against yarn.

Anyway, I managed to find the liquor store and procure my Glenmorangie with no trouble at all and then headed on back to the farm.  Then I started packing the car.  This is what it looks like after a couple of hours of playing with different configurations of stuff.


The pack mistress strikes again!

The pack mistress strikes again!


Our chariot awaits!

Our chariot awaits!

The front seats are seriously comfy!

The front seats are seriously comfy!


I have a feeling I'm going to be spending a lot of time back here....

I have a feeling I'm going to be spending a lot of time back here....


I know it doesn’t look like much, but my mom kept giving me things going, “Oh, I forgot this, it needs to go in the……” and everything would be topsy-turvy again.

Right before dinner, dad and I went to get the goats into their pen for the night.  My brother has 5 does and a billy that more or less get the run of the farm.  Micheal has learned a very interesting new trick since moving here which is goat wrangling.  He herds the goats into their pen!  I didn’t get any pictures of it as it went to quickly but here are a few of the goats.


The herd

The herd


"You are soooooo not going to put that picture on the internets are you?!?!?"

"You are soooooo not going to put that picture on the internets are you?!?!?"



Not much else to write tonight.  We are planning on driving 750 miles tomorrow so we will be leaving quite early. So, until next time, goodnight and good luck.


Almost Off-Track August 27, 2009

Yesterday was my first time riding a train in the US other than in a major city.  I rode Amtrak from Chicago to Osceola, IA.  Compared to all of the trains that I have ridden in Europe, it was a lot bumpier and rockier.  I could only work on a dishcloth as the lace stole or sock were way too difficult to do without stabbing the poor lady that was sitting next to me with a 2.5mm needle.  I think that she just thanked me for that small courtesy on my part without even knowing she had:)

However, I had one small hiccup in the whole trip.  I had booked the tickets with the understanding that you could check bags.  When I went to check my 3 VERY LARGE BAGS the lady at the baggage check counter just took my ticket turned to me and said, “Un-un, you ain’t checking those bags to Osceola!”  When I then asked her why, she told me that there was no baggage service to that station, in fact, to no station in Iowa at all!  So I asked her what I should do and she sorta shrugged her shoulders and said, “Maybe they’ll let you on the train with all them.” with a non-caring shrug.  So I then got to lug all of my bags around Union Station while I tried to find some lunch.  

It was about an hour before my train was set to leave and I was in the general vicinity of the track that it was on with all of my luggage and one of the guys that worked for Amtrak saw what, I imagine, was my very disturbed face.  He asked if I was ok or needed any help and I told him my entire tale of woe including that I was from England and that I was going to be here for 2 months and traveling to Alaska with my parents, you know, whole shootin’ match.  He told me to stay put, he was going to see if he could find a porter to kind of “sneak through” my bags as they seldom check those guys.  Within a few minutes time, I was on a little electric cart with three older ladies who had mobility issues and and then in a window seat on the California Zephyr.  Everybody that I dealt with working for Amtrak was wonderful, helpful folks with the exception of the lady working the baggage check-in.  

Anyway, the ride was really fun.  The people on the train were all way more chilled than folks on airplanes usually are.  I think that that was helped by the fact that the seats were so large and spacious that you didn’t feel crowded at all.  It was cool to see a good chunk of the US from a perspective that few people ever see, especially since I was on the 2nd level of the train so you could see out pretty far.  If I were in a similar situation again, I would totally take Amtrak (though not with so much luggage of course).

I tried to take pictures, but few of them turned-out at all.  Between the motion of the train and the fact that it was raining nearly the entire trip, it wasn’t super conducive to photography.  So sorry, no photos yet.  Right now I’m just happy to have some internet time as that has been scarcer than my cell phone signal!

I had a fantastic time in Chicago with all of my friends and I really wish that I could have stayed longer (as I’m sure that some of them do as they ended-up staying up quite late drinking Scotch with me [dead soldier #1: 1 liter of Glenmorangie bought in Chicago, finished quite early in the morning on the 26th]).  It was great to get see them all as well as Chicago in the summertime.  I think that this is maybe the first time that I have been in Chicago in the summertime since I was in middle school.  It’s a lot greener than I’m used to seeing it….. in January.


Gone. August 22, 2009


Moving into security in Heathrow


My bags in the back of the shaggin wagon

My bags in the back of the shaggin wagon


I’m sitting here cooling my jets in the Dusseldorf airport feeling very glad that I didn’t have enough cash to get the Glenmorangie Scotch that I wanted to get.  Despite assurances that from the airline representative that I had called specifically to make sure of this, I was made to go through both passport control as well as security here once again.  The security here is much tighter than in the US and took quite a lot longer, helped along by the fact that I had forgotten to ditch the last two of the buy 3 Dr Peppers for a really good price that I had picked-up in a Heathrow airport WH Smith.   Luckily, the flower bomb perfume that I got fit nicely into my plastic baggie after I had divested it of it wrappings.  My flight from London had been late but my flight to Chicago is even later!


The sturdy beast that ferried me to Chicago

The sturdy beast that ferried me to Chicago



Mile-high lace knitting.  Note the empty scotch glass!

Mile-high lace knitting. Note the empty scotch glass!


The next day in Chicago:

I’m in Chicago now with the dulcet tones of Sesame Street playing in the background.  I arrived safely and with a minimum of fuss even given a middle seat on an extremely crowded flight.  I think that I have finally found the key to international flying: Scotch on the rocks.  A few of these made the entire process that much more enjoyable!  Anyway, I have had a Mountain Dew and a good sleep (not normally two things that are conducive to each other but without the MD I would not have been able to make it to 9pm last night) but yesterday they were just what was needed.  Tonight is a party of my friends that are here in the Chicago area and SJ and I are sitting here trying to figure out what we are going to do today.  I suppose that we had best get on with it then….


My friend and her little guy with the spoils of travel around them

My friend and her little guy with the spoils of travel around them