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DECK THE HOLIDAY'S: January 2016

Friday, January 29, 2016

CHINESE NEW YEAR!




Image result for 2016 year of the monkey




The Chinese New Year of the Fire Monkey will start on February 8, 2016 – the second New Moon after the Solstice. Following 12 months of the dignified and surefooted Goat, the New Year of the Red Monkey is going shake, rattle and roll!
   Chinese New Year starts with the New Moon on the first day of the new year and ends on the full moon 15 days later. The 15th day of the new year is called the Lantern Festival, which is celebrated at night with lantern displays and children carrying lanterns in a parade. The Chinese calendar is based on a combination of lunar and solar movements. The lunar cycle is about 29.5 days. In order to "catch up" with the solar calendar the Chinese insert an extra month once every few years (seven years out of a 19-yearcycle). This is the same as adding an extra day on leap year. This is why, according to the solar calendar, the Chinese New Year falls on a different date each year. New Year's Eve and New Year's Day are celebrated as a family affair, a time of reunion and thanksgiving. The celebration was traditionally highlighted with a religious ceremony given in honor of Heaven and Earth, the gods of the household and the family ancestors. The sacrifice to the ancestors, the most vital of all the rituals, united the living members with those who had passed away. Departed relatives are remembered with great respect because they were responsible for laying the foundations for the fortune and glory of the family.  
  



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The History of Chinese New Year

   The Chinese New Year has a great history. In our past, people lived in an agricultural society and worked all year long. They only took a break after the harvest and before the planting of seeds. This happens to coincide with the beginning of the lunar New Year.
   The Chinese New Year is very similar to the Western one, rich in traditions, folklores and rituals. It has been said that it is a combination of the Western Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year. This is hardly an exaggeration! 
   The origin of the Chinese New Year itself is centuries old - in fact, too old to actually be traced. It is popularly recognized as the Spring Festival and celebrations last 15 days. 
   Preparations tend to begin a month before the date of the Chinese New Year (similar to a Western Christmas). During this time people start buying presents, decoration materials, food and clothing. A huge clean-up gets underway days before the New Year, when Chinese houses are cleaned from top to bottom. This ritual is supposed to sweep away all traces of bad luck. Doors and windowpanes are often given a new coat of paint, usually red, then decorated with paper cuts and couplets with themes such as happiness, wealth and longevity printed on them. 
   The eve of the New Year is perhaps the most exciting part of the holiday, due to the anticipation. Here, traditions and rituals are very carefully observed in everything from food to clothing. Dinner is usually a feast of seafood and dumplings, signifying different good wishes. Delicacies include prawns, for liveliness and happiness, dried oysters ( ho xi), for all things good, fish dishes or Yau-Yu to bring good luck and prosperity, Fai-chai (Angel Hair), an edible hair-like seaweed to bring prosperity, and dumplings boiled in water (Jiaozi) signifying a long-lasting good wish for a family. It is customary to wear something red as this colour is meant to ward off evil spirits. But black and white are frowned upon, as these are associated with mourning. After dinner, families sit up for the night playing cards, board games or watching television programmes dedicated to the occasion. At midnight, fireworks light up the sky. 
   On the day itself, an ancient custom called Hong Bao, meaning Red Packet, takes place. This involves married couples giving children and unmarried adults money in red envelopes. Then the family begins to say greetings from door to door, first to their relatives and then to their neighbours. Like the Western saying "let bygones be bygones," at Chinese New Year, grudges are very easily cast aside. 






   Tributes are made to ancestors by burning incense and the symbolic offering of foods. As firecrackers burst in the air, evil spirits are scared away by the sound of the explosions. 
   The end of the New Year is marked by the Festival of Lanterns, which is a celebration with singing, dancing and lantern shows. 
   At the Festival, all traditions are honored. The predominant colors are red and gold. "Good Wish" banners are hung from the ceilings and walls. The "God of Fortune" is there to give Hong Baos. Lion dancers perform on stage continuously. Visitors take home plants and flowers symbolizing good luck. An array of New Years specialty food is available in the Food Market. Visitors purchase new clothing, shoes and pottery at the Market Fair. Bargaining for the best deal is commonplace!


Traditions of Chinese New Year

   Even though the climax of the Chinese New Year, Nian, lasts only two or three days including the New Year's Eve, the New Year season extends from the mid-twelfth month of the previous year to the middle of the first month of the new year. A month from the New Year, it is a good time for business. People will pour out their money to buy presents, decoration material, food and clothing. Transportation department, railroad in particular, is nervously waiting for the onslaught of swarms of travelers who take their days off around the New Year to rush back home for a family renunion from all parts of the country.
   Days before the New Year, every family is busy giving its house a thorough cleaning, hoping to sweep away all the ill-fortune there may have been in the family to make way for the wishful in-coming good luck. People also give their doors and window-panes a new paint, usually in red color. They decorate the doors and windows with paper-cuts and couplets with the very popular theme of "happiness", "wealth", "logevity" and "satisfactory marriage with more children". Paintings of the same theme are put up in the house on top of the newly mounted wall paper. In the old days, various kinds of food are tributed at the alta of ancestors. 






   The Eve of the New Year is very carefully observed. Supper is a feast, with all members coming together. One of the most popular course is jiaozi, dumplings boiled in water. "Jiaozi" in Chinese literally mean "sleep together and have sons", a long-lost good wish for a family. After dinner, it is time for the whole family to sit up for the night while having fun playing cards or board games or watching TV programs dedicated to the ocassion. Every light is supposed to be kept on the whole night. At midnight, the whole sky will be lit up by fireworks and firecrackers make everywhere seem like a war zone. People's excitement reach its zenith.
   Very early the next morning, children greet their parents and receive their presents in terms of cash wrapped up in red paper packages from them. Then, the family start out to say greetings from door to door, first their relatives and then their neighbors. It is a great time for reconciliation. Old grudges are very easily cast away during the greetings. The air is permeated with warmth and friendliness. During and several days following the New Year's day, people are visiting each other, with a great deal of exchange of gifs. The New Year atmosphere is brought to an anti-climax fifteen days away where the Festival of Lanterns sets in. It is an occasion of lantern shows and folk dances everywhere. One typical food is the Tang Yuan, another kind of dumplings made of sweet rice rolled into balls and stuffed with either sweet or spicy fillings.
   The Lantern Festival marks the end of the New Year season and afterwards life becomes daily routines once again. This description is based upon the recollection of my own experience. Customs of observing the New Year vary from place to place, considering that China is a big country not only geographically, but also demographically and ethnically. Yet, the spirit underlying the diverse celebrations of the Chinese New Year is the same: a sincere wish of peace and happiness for the family members and friends.



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The History and Origin of Chinese New Year


   The Chinese New Year is now popularly known as the Spring Festival because it starts from the Beginning of Spring (the first of the twenty-four terms in coordination with the changes of Nature). Its origin is too old to be traced. Several explanations are hanging around. All agree, however, that the word Nian, which in modern Chinese solely means "year", was originally the name of a monster beast that started to prey on people the night before the beginning of a new year (Do not lose track here: we are talking about the new year in terms of the Chinese calendar).
   One legend goes that the beast Nian had a very big mouth that would swallow a great many people with one bite. People were very scared. One day, an old man came to their rescue, offering to subdue Nian. To Nian he said, "I hear say that you are very capable, but can you swallow the other beasts of prey on earth instead of people who are by no means of your worthy opponents?" So, swallow it did many of the beasts of prey on earth that also harassed people and their domestic animals from time to time.
   After that, the old man disappeared riding the beast Nian. He turned out to be an immortal god. Now that Nian is gone and other beasts of prey are also scared into forests, people begin to enjoy their peaceful life. Before the old man left, he had told people to put up red paper decorations on their windows and doors at each year's end to scare away Nian in case it sneaked back again, because red is the color the beast feared the most.





   From then on, the tradition of observing the conquest of Nian is carried on from generation to generation. The term "Guo Nian", which may mean "Survive the Nian" becomes today "Celebrate the (New) Year" as the word "guo" in Chinese having both the meaning of "pass-over" and "observe". The custom of putting up red paper and firing fire-crackers to scare away Nian should it have a chance to run loose is still around. However, people today have long forgotten why they are doing all this, except that they feel the color and the sound add to the excitement of the celebration.  


Chinese Zodiacs






Rat
1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008

You are ambitious yet honest, prone to spend freely. Seldom make lasting friendships. Most compatible with Dragons and Monkeys. Least compatible with the horses.






Ox
1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009

Bright, patient and inspiring to others, you can be happy by yourself, yet make an outstanding parent. Marry a Snake or a Rooster. The Sheep will bring you trouble.





Tiger
1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010

Tiger people are aggressive, courageous, candid and sensitive. Look to the Horse and the Dog for your happiness. But beware of the Monkey.

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Rabbit1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011

Luckiest of all signs, you are also talented and articulate. Affectionate, yet shy, you seek peace throughout your life. So marry a Sheep or a Boar. Your opposite is the Rooster.





Dragon1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012

You are eccentric and your life is complex. You have a very passionate nature and abundant health. Marry a Monkey or Rat late in life. Avoid the Dog.





Snake
1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013

You are wise and intense with a tendency towards physical beauty, vain and high tempered. The Boar is your enemy. The Rooster and Ox are your best signs.





Horse
1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014

Popular and attractive to the opposite sex, you are often ostentatious and impatient. You need people. Marry a Tiger or a Dog early, but never a Rat. 






Sheep
1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015

Elegant and creative, you are timid and prefer anonymity. You are most compatible with the Boars and the Rabbits, but never the Ox.






Monkey

1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016

You are very intelligent and are able to influence people. An enthusiastic achiever, you are easily discouraged and confused. Avoid the Tigers. Seek a Dragon or Rat.





Rooster
1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017

A pioneer in spirit, you are devoted to work and quest after knowledge. You are selfish and eccentric. Rabbits are trouble for you. Snakes and Ox are fine.





Dog
1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018

Loyal and honest, you work well with others. You are generous yet stubborn, and often selfish. Look to the Horse or Tiger. And watch out for Dragons.








Pig

1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019
Nobel and chivalrous. Your friends will be life long, yet you are prone to marital strife. You should avoid other Boars. Marry a Rabbit or a Sheep.


Chinese New Year Symbols






Duilian
   If you are a Chinese or have visited China, you must be familiar with the "Duilian"? Duilian are generally two long, vertical red strips placed parallel to one another on each side of a door, with poetic and traditional Chinese sayings written on them. The Duilian sayings wish good fortune and represent the wishes and expectations that Chinese people have from the new year. Traditionally, Duilians contains good luck phrases like Wan Shi Ru Yi (May everything be as you wish) or “Da Zhan Hong Tu” (May you achieve your great plan) or “Sheng Yi Xing Long” (May your business be prosperous).
  Though the Duilian seems to be a simple holiday decoration, it is actually one of the most important and revered Chinese New Year symbols. People in China commonly believe that duilians bring good fortune throughout the year. Many of them write their own duilian every year. 




Fish
   The fish is considered to be a lucky Chinese New Year symbol and is the most popular dish served during the occassion. A whole fish is served on Chinese New Year’s eve for the reunion dinner. Usually the fish is steamed. It is a good omen to leave the bones and head and tail intact. This symbolizes abundance and a good beginning and end in the new year.







The Yule Log
   The Yule Log is an important part of the Chinese New Year celebrations and a lucky symbol of the festival. It is actually a log piece decorated beautifully with soft, red ribbons and glitter added to it for that extra zing. Thus adorned, the log is dragged to the fireplace. Traditionally, the Yule Log should burn for one whole night, smolder for twelve days (signifying the twelve months) and then be put out ceremonially in a regal manner. Burning the Yule Log is an indispensable custom for the Chinese New Year. It symbolizes the light coming back to conquer darkness.




The Water Narcissus Flower

   Flowers are an important part of the Chinese New Year decorations. The two flowers most associated with the New Year are the plum blossom and the water narcissus. The water narcissus is considered to be very auspicious by the Chinese and also people around the world. This beautiful white flower which blossoms during the time of New Year symbolizes good luck and prosperity. The blossoming of the Water Narcissus exactly on the New Year day is believed to indicate good fortune for the ensuing twelve months. The Chinese people decorate their homes with this flower and wait in anticipation of its blossoming, which they believe shall bring them good luck for the entire year and bless them with prosperity.



Plum Blossoms
   Another decorative item for the Chinese New Year celebrations, the plum blossom is another major symbol for the festival. The plum blossoms burst forth at the end of winter on seemingly lifeless branches. They stand for courage and hope. In Chinese art, plum blossoms are associated with the entire winter season and not just the New Year.






The RED Colour
   The red colour is an auspicious one in China and stands for life and prosperity. Thus it is used in celebrations in China. During festivals, most of the decorations around Chinese homes is usually in red color. The "Duilian" - one of the prominent decorative items and another major symbol for the occassion is generally of red colur. Also, while presenting someone with flowers, red is the colour that everyone goes for.





Tray of Togetherness
   The chuen-hop, or "tray of togetherness" is a tray full of dried fruits, sweets, and candies. Many Chinese families keep this tray to welcome guests and relatives who drop by. Traditionally, the tray is made up of eight compartments, each of which is filled with special food items. Each of thee food items has a special significance to the New Year season. According to a very old Chinese belief, such a tray was kept by families in the times bygone which they used to offer to all guests and well wishers who visited during the New Year. Even today, this tradition is kept alive in many Chinese homes. It symbolizes the unity and harmony within the members of a family.











BURN'S NIGHT IN THE UNITED KINGDOM!!!





Robert Burns



    Burns Night is annually, celebrated in Scotland on or around January 25th. It commemorates the life of the bard (poet) Robert Burns, who was born on January 25, 1759. The day also celebrates Burns' contribution to Scottish culture. Burns' best known work is "Auld Lang Syne".



reading some poetry for Burns' night



What People Do?

    Many people and organizations hold a Burns' supper on or around Burns' Night. These may be informal, only for men, only for women, or for both genders. Formal events include toasts and readings of pieces written by Robert Burns. Ceremonies during a Burns' Night supper vary according to the group organizing the event and the location.







    The evening centers on the entrance of the haggis (a type of sausage made from a sheep's stomach) on a large platter to the sound of a piper playing bagpipes. When the haggis is on the table, the host reads the "Address to Haggis". This is an ode that Robert Burns wrote to the Scottish dish. At the end of the reading, the haggis is ceremonially sliced into two pieces and the meal begins.



Some whiskey and Haggis


Public Life

    Burns' Night is an observance but it is not a bank holiday in the United Kingdom.

Background

    Robert Burns was born in Alloway, Scotland , on January 25, 1759. He died in Dumfries, Scotland, on July 21, 1796. He was a poet and wrote many poems, lyrics and other pieces that addressed political and civil issues. Perhaps his best known work is "Auld Lang Syne", which is sung at New year's Eve celebrations in Scotland, parts of the U.K., and other places around the world. Burns is one of Scotland's important cultural icons and is well known among Scottish expats or descendants around the world. he is also known as "Rabbie Burns", the fa"Bard of Ayrshire", "Scotland's favorite son"; and in Scotland as "The Bard".




Men in their kilts



    Robert Burns' acquaintances held the first Burns' supper on July 21st, the anniversary of his death, in Ayshire, Scotland, in the late 1700's. The date was later changed to January 25th, which marks his birthday. Burns' suppers are now held by people and organizations with Scottish origins worldwide, particularly in Australia, Canada, England, and the United States.

Symbols

    The Scottish flag is often displayed at Burns' Night celebrations. It is known as the Saltire and consists of a rectangular blue background with thick white bars on the diagonals. The diagonals form a cross that represents Saint Andrew, the patron saint of Scotland.
    At Burns' Night events, many men wear kilts and women may wear shawls, skirts or dresses made from their family tartan. A tartan was originally a woolen cloth with a distinctive pattern made by using colors of weft and warp when weaving. Particular patterns and combinations of colors were associated with different areas, clans and families. Tartan patterns are now printed on various materials.




A plate of some Scottish delicacies



   Many types of food are associated with Burns' Night. These include: socock-a-leekie soup (chicken and leek soup); haggis; neeps (mashed turnips or swedes) and tatties (mashed potatoes); cranachan (whipped cream mixed with raspberries and served wit sweet oat wafers); bannocks (a kind of bread cooked on a griddle). Whiskey is the traditional drink.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

DIY FAUX DEER HEAD MOUNT!


   This comes from www.chroniclebooks.com .  Save a deer make one out of cardboard and paper. I thing this is a real cool tutorial.  You could even make it more Christmasy by using some sort of holiday wrapping paper. 


Oh Dear, Deer Head
Excerpted from Dorm Decor (available May 2009)
For the animal lover, activist, or simply anyone with a sense of humor, this faux buck will make any dorm-room dweller proud. Hang a scarf or hat on his antlers, keeping floors free and clear, or use him as witty wall art.





YOU’LL NEED:



Deer templates
1 20″ x 30″ piece (3/16″-thick) foam core
1 6″ x 7″ piece (1/2″-thick) foam core
60″ length (30″-wide) wrapping paper
1 6″ x 7″ piece of contrasting paper
Craft knife
Cutting board
Spray adhesive
Picture-frame hanging wire
Awl


Make the pieces

1. Using the deer templates:
From the 3/16″ thick foam core, cut:
2 deer heads
1 deer body
1 deer nose
1 deer antler
From the 1/2″ thick foam core, cut:
1 mounting board


Cover the pieces

2. Using spray adhesive, spray one side of the nose piece and adhere it to the Wrong side of the wrapping paper. Use the craft knife and the cutting board and cut out the nose piece. Repeat for the other side of the nose.
3. Repeat to cover both sides of the two deer heads, the deer body, and the deer antler pieces.
4. Using spray adhesive, adhere the contrasting paper to one side of the mounting board. Cut it out using the craft knife and cutting board.


Hang the deer head

5. On each deer head piece, cut a hole 1″ below the top edge and 3/8″ inside the back edge with the awl.
6. Assemble the deer head as shown in the photograph.
7. Thread wire through both holes several times and end by wrapping the wire around itself for a hanger.
Click here to download the below images. They are formatted to 8x10in layouts. So, when printing on 8.5x11in paper, select (when printing through Windows Print Wizard) “8x10in cutout print” in the layout selection. It should print perfectly.









UP HELLY Aa-EUROPES LARGEST FIRE FESTIVAL, FROM THE SHETLAND ISLANDS!!!








The History of Up Helly Aa

    Up Helly Aa is a relatively modern festival. There is some evidence that people in rural Shetland celebrated the 24th day after Christmas as "Antonsmas" or "Up Helly Night", but there is no evidence that their cousins in Lerwick did the same. The emergence of Yuletide and New Year's festivities in the town seems to post date the Napoleonic Wars, when soldiers and sailors came home with rowdy habits and a taste for firearms.



Early years


    On an old Christmas eve in 1824, a visiting Methodist missionary wrote in his diary that "the whole town was in an uproar, from 12 o'clock last night until late this night blowing of horns, beating of drums, tinkling of old tin kettles, firing of guns, shouting, bawling, fiddling, fifeing, drinking, and fighting. This was the state of the town all the night...the street was as thronged with people as any fair I ever saw in England".
As Lerwick grew in size the celebrations became more elaborate. Sometime about 1840, the participants introduced burning tar barrels into the proceedings.




 

    "Sometimes", as one observer wrote, "there were two tubs fastened to a great raft-like frame knocked together at the Docks, whence the combustibles were generally obtained. Two chains were fastened to the bogie supporting the capacious tub or tar-barrel...eked to these were two strong ropes on which a motley mob, wearing masks for the most part, fastened. A party of about a dozen were told off to stir up the molten contents".


 



 
    The main street of Lerwick in the mid 9th century was extremely narrow, and rival groups of tarbarrelers frequently clashed in the middle. The proceedings were thus dangerous and dirty, and Lerwick's middle classes often complained about them. The Town Council began to appoint special constables (police) every Christmas to control the revellers, with only limited success. When the end came for tar-barrelling, in the early 1870's, it seems to have been because the young Lerwegians themselves had decided it was time for a change.






 
    Around 1870, a group of young men in the town with intellectual interests injected a series of new ideas into the proceedings. First, they improvised the name Up Helly Aa, and gradually postponed the celebrations until the end of January. Secondly, they introduced a far more elaborated element of disguise- "guizing"-into the new festival.
Thirdly, they inaugurated a torchlight procession. At the same time they were toying with the idea of introducing Viking themes to their new festival. The first signs of this new development appeared in 1877, but it was not until the late 1880's that a Viking long ship-the "galley"- appeared, and as late as 1906 that a "Guizer Jarl", the chief guizer, arrived on the scene. It was not until after the World War I that there was a squad of Vikings, the "Guizer Jarl's Squad", in the procession every year.

 




 
    Up to World War II, Up Helly Aa was overwhelmingly a festival of young working class men...women have never taken part in the procession. During the depression years the operations was run on a shoestring. In the winter of 1931-32, there was an unsuccessful move to cancel the festival because of the dire economic situation in the town. At the same time, the Up Helly Aa committee became a self-confident organization which poked fun at the pompous in the by then long established Up Helly Aa "bill"-sometimes driving their victims to fury.







    In the early days orders had to be conveyed by means of placards or proclamations at the Market Cross. This meant that the Guizers had to go there to find out where and when the festival would take place it was not always held on the last Tuesday of January as is the case today.
    The first "Bill as we known it was produced in 1899, its primary purpose still being the conveyance of constructions. However, it was soon to be elaborated on by the addition of local jokes, satire, etc. and the bill head, painted each year by a local artist chosen by the Jarl. The painting usually depicts a scene from the Jarl's saga.







The contents of the "Bill" are produced in secret by a committee, the lettering being hand painted on the board the day before and finally the Jarl gives his seal of approval by signing the "Bill" that same evening.
At 6 in the morning of Up Helly Aa Day, the "Bill" is erected at the Market Cross for the public to read and is removed before the procession at night.








    There is a lot of anticipation as to who is going to be featured each year and in general everything is taken in good humor.
    Since 1949, when the festival resumed after the war, much has changed and much has remained the same. That year the BBC recorded a major radio program on Up Helly Aa, and from that moment Up Helly Aa ....not noted for its split second timing before the war... became a model of efficient organization. The numbers participating in the festival have become much greater, and the resources required correspondingly larger.






 

    Whereas in the 19th century, individuals kept an open house to welcome the guizers on Up Helly Aa night, men and women now cooperated to open large halls throughout the town to entertain them. However, despite the changes, there are numerous threads connecting the Up Helly Aa of today with its predecessors 150 years ago. The festival takes place the last Tuesday in January every year in Lerwik, Shetland. Today the festival consists of a series of marches and visitations, culminating in a torch lit procession and Galley (a Viking ship) burning. Then there follows hours of performing acts in dancing halls, throughout the evening and early morning. The following Wednesday is a public holiday so everyone can recover from the festivities.
Up Helly Aa is a community event, with countless volunteers contributing many ours each winter towards organizing and planning the following year's festival.
The Guizer Jarl (Leader of the squad) and his squad begin their preparations in February, and many long hours of hard work go into the design and productions of their outfits.






 

    The Up Helly Aa Committee begin their year preparing the Up Helly Aa Exhibition that runs from May until September in the Galley Shed. This boasts a full size Galley, Jarl Squad suits, other Squads memorabilia and an extensive collection of photographs recording the suits worn and the guizers involved.
    In early September the Guizers of the remaining 45 squads begin their squad meetings and preparations. This involves determining the character or characters that they wish to rotary with their suits, making the suits while also creating and practicing their act to perform in the halls they visit throughout the evening.
    At the end of September the Galley shed is transformed back into a working shed where the Galley and the torches are constructed during the winter. During this same period the Committee checks the progress of the preparations including the Collecting Sheet and Bill.