Archive for the ‘politics’ Category

This morning my dear husband regaled me with a reading of a short article in The Week, a magazine we subscribe to.   It involved the travails of the Clintons, who apparently find it necessary to rent a place for the summer in the Hamptons each year.   They got into a dispute with their landlord of last year over their security deposit, which was $20,000, and apparently they weren’t getting it back because it was eaten up by landscaping and utility bills.   So, according to the article, the dispute was settled amicably, but this year the Clintons did not rent that place again.  Instead they rented a six bedroom place in the area for a measly $200,00 per month.

TWENTY THOUSAND DOLLARS?   For a security deposit?   TWO HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS?   A MONTH????    Let’s see.   Around here, a family of four can live on $20,000 a year.   Not high on the hog, but it is doable.   I’m not even going to talk about how out of touch with an ordinary American life people who can afford to blow $200,000 per month on a summer rental must be.   Are we ready for Hillary?   Maybe.   But does she have a clue as to what challenges most Americans face?   I really don’t know.   Does ANY politician?

Okey dokey.  I’ll get off my political angst-wagon for now.

I have been visiting slide shows on the SF Chronicle’s website this morning:   a Victorian for less than a million dollars, worst kitchen ever, celebrities who dated.  That last one was a real eye-opener for me.   Probably 80% of the people pictured and named in that little exposé were pretty much unknown to me.  I did not recognize names or faces.   I’m so out of touch.  Kinda like the politicians, I suppose, but in a different way.

Probably the reason I’m so out of touch is that I actually have a life that involves producing a large portion of what we eat.

This was my kitchen counter a few days ago.   I was proudly displaying the apples after they had been peeled, cored and sliced; ready for the freezer.


See the tomatoes in the basket next to the apples?   They have been roasted and are now in the freezer alongside the apples.   That reminds me.  I really need to defrost that freezer and rearrange it.   There are seven gallons of strawberries, six gallons of blueberries, one lug of peaches, plum pieces and plum puree, and God knows how many freezer bags of greens, green beans, asparagus, roasted winter squash, potatoes, carrots, onions, leeks, roasted tomatoes, and other stuff I have probably forgotten in there.   Inventory needs to be done.   The other freezer, which is even bigger, has the remains of a whole beef, sundry pork, lamb, poultry and fish, as well as the lard supply and again, God Knows What.

A job for another day.

I’m pretty sure the Clintons don’t have a pantry like this.


That’s the view from the door.   Actually, this room is around the corner from the kitchen.   Originally, this house was built with the idea that sometime in the future a second story could be added.  This area was designed to become the stairwell up to the second floor.   The hatch that gives access to the attic is directly above your head when you stand just inside the accordion door that hides this collection from the view from the living room.

Well, that picture simply does not do the room justice, so I stepped inside and did a few close ups.  Below you find the left side of the room.


The olives are purchased in bulk, and Jim processes them.   There are several flavors there, my favorite is the lemon/tarragon brined sevillanos.   Below the olives is the tomato puree collection, and below that is the apple sauce.   There is some pear sauce in there too.   The red box of milkbones is Ruby’s favorite thing in the whole house.

All those silver bags you see on the right contain the bulk spices.   We purchase them from Frontier Natural Foods cooperative.   Everything on that shelf is organic, and’ if appropriate, Fair Trade certified too.   There is allspice, cinnamon, cloves, caraway, mustard seed, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, coriander, cumin on that shelf.   No, we aren’t going to run out of spices any time soon.    It may seem like a lot, but whole seeds don’t get stale like ground spices; and I can buy a pound of organic cinnamon sticks for less than you will spend for a 2/3 oz bottle of ground cinnamon at your local grocery.  The rest of the prices have a similar ratio.

What you are not seeing because I didn’t photograph it is the giant container of 100 pounds of wheat, which I grind about 5 pounds at a time into whole wheat flour.  Also, down on the floor is an anonymous box that contains the un-roasted organic fair trade coffee in 5 pound bags that we acquire from Sweet Maria’s.

Now let’s turn our attention to the right side of the room.




The second picture shows the jelly and pickle collection.   I honestly don’t think I need to make any jam or jelly for three or four years.   That is why I have been freezing most of the figs coming off the tree out by the barn.   I still have plenty of fig preserves up there on that shelf.   That reminds me, I need to pick figs today.

It is actually a little scary how many different kinds of vinegar we seem to require in this house.   Sort of in the middle of the lower picture is a half gallon jar full of some sort of red amorphous substance.   That is the raspberry vinegar I am making from the raspberries I managed to get to ahead of the birds.   It is about time to filter the raspberries out of the vinegar they are steeping in.

Below that is a bunch of containers that are used to ship olives from Greece to the United States.   We found them at a recycler up in Santa Rosa over two decades ago.  They are equipped with giant o-rings under the lids, and when screwed down those lids keep the bugs out of the contents.   We have unbleached white flour, corn meal, polenta, black beans, garbanzo beans, polenta, pinto beans, rolled oats, sugar, rice, barley, vital wheat gluten in 20-30 pound quantities.   Our favorite container:  the bright yellow one in the foreground.  That has the chocolate chips in it.   Right now there are barely ten pounds of them in there.   Need to get more.   Wouldn’t want to run out of those!

You will notice that not all of our supplies are organic, or totally environmentally conscious.  For some reason, we find it necessary to have pineapple on hand.   I imagine I could find it from some other source than Dole, but sometimes I just get tired of being so darned perfect.

A long time ago I found a link to a website that would calculate how long you could survive in your home without buying food based on the number of people who live there and the quantity of food you had stored.   It told me Jim and I could get along for 3 and a half years on what we have accumulated here.   That was before we bought the beef….

I guess we are good for a short apocalypse.   This assumes, of course, that we are not immediately struck down by a bolt of lightning for our liberal, tolerant of gay lifestyle, heretical pagan ways.

I’d really better get my pagan ass out there, I need to pick basil for pesto, harvest the chard and get it blanched, and pick the aforementioned figs.

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I have an acquaintance.   I struggle with whether to define this gentleman as a friend because even though I have known him for 17 years and I adore his wife, his politics and religion are so vastly different from mine that I have a hard time feeling that he is “my friend.”

Anyway, the catastrophe that is on-going in the Gulf of Mexico brought to mind a conversation we had a year and a half ago when we crossed swords paths at a party we both attended.   He was going on about how global warming was a big hoax, and so was the concept of Peak Oil.   We shouldn’t be afraid, he orated (in the midst of a company of environmentalists and conservationists, all appalled), to use the resources that God provided for us.   We should be Drilling, baby, drilling; and using the results without any concern for such an idiotic concept as global climate change.   “Peak oil?”  he scoffed.   “There is no oil shortage!   We have oceans of oil, just waiting for us to discover them.”

How ironic that his words have proved to be so true.   We do have an ocean full of oil, getting more full of it every second of every day that that well spewing petroleum is not capped.   The ultimate results are yet to be proven.

And then I saw a thing this morning that really sort of put me over the top.   A link to a blog that is amused by a gadget that you can attach to your pet and this will allow it to “Tweet” to you all day long.   Apparently, we humans have an inexhaustible appetite for resources and power, and I wonder if I am the only person in the world who sees a connection between this sort of frivolity and the market process that empowers the corporations that are despoiling the Gulf of Mexico.   If you demand it, they will supply it.

Yes, this is a small thing, a harmless thing, not important in the big scheme of things.  And really, what is the point?  Why does your cat need to Tweet, why do you need to receive Tweets from your cat?    Anyway, all these infinitesimal small things add up to a huge quantity of resources.   Someone had to manufacture, distribute and provide power for this funny and amusing gadget.  Where will it all end?

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It is Independence Day.   I put the flag out this morning.

I never get through this day without thinking about the firebrands meeting in the Boston taverns, drinking their ale and bitching about the heavy hand of the British overlords.   I can imagine Sam Adams and Paul Revere clutching their mugs and declaiming in inebriated fervor.   Somehow that all got organized to the point that the traitorous dogs managed to get a whole bunch of other disaffected colonists together to actually fight and die for the cause.

Ultimately there were fighting words spoken, written, signed, sealed and delivered to the Crown, and the rest, as they say, is history.  It is why we celebrate this day, and an episode in history that politicians have been referring to ever since.

By the accident of birth and the diligence of my late Aunt Maurine, I know that I share blood with that history.   I have at least one Revolutionary Ancestor.   I’m sure that there are probably others, but the young man we can trace our roots back to and prove our lineage from was one Joel Gibson, a private in the 1st North Carolina Regiment.   We know he survived the war because he received a pension for his service.  But the fact remains that he was willing to put his life on the line and allow his farm to be neglected in his absence in order for the brand new United States of America to be birthed.

I’m rather proud of my lineage, actually.

We also know that one of our maternal ancestors was a full blooded Mohawk  Indian.  She was one of numerous Indian children separated from their tribes, “adopted” and raised by a white family.   In addition to our Revolutionary ancestors, we also have traced our lineage back to the Mayflower; we are some of the numerous Doty descendants.  We had ancestors on both sides of the Civil War, and one roamer with a dedicated wanderlust who happened to serve during the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

Perhaps that explains my occasional need to go off on solo road trips on occasion.   It satisfies some deep need within me to get away from all the normal routines of my life and “explore” new territory.

I love my familiar territory, though.   Yesterday I was moved to take some photographs (yeah, I know — big surprise) of the Petite Prairie.  I got the plants I purchased at Cottage Garden planted, and as I was preparing to do the job I started thinking about the bed, its contents, and the nature of the planting.   I decided that since I am referring to the bed as the “Smallest Prairie in the Universe” perhaps I should re-evaluate the things I have chosen to plant there.   I decided that cultivars of actual native plants were acceptable, but aliens should perhaps be located elsewhere.  So I removed the Miscanthus sinensis and the Japanese blood grass.  This not only “purifies” the prairie, but it provides room for the newer flowering plants I just purchased.   It also means that in a few years I will not be tearing my hair out as I tear out the extremely invasive blood grass and fountain grass from the planting.

It looks like this right now.


The Knockout Rose is engaging in a new wave of bloom.   It is such a hot color, it glows in the evening light.   I called this shot “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow” since it has the dead bloom of the day before, the burgeoning glowing daily flower and the bud that will bloom tomorrow.


Moving around to the Hosta Dell, I found that the microphylla thyme on the Thyme Walk has started blooming.   It is so cute, but you almost need a magnifying glass to see it.   For scale, bear in mind that the pebbles in the following picture are about the size of my little fingernail.


Then I noticed that the gravel in the Japanese Rock Garden was sporting a halo of weeds, so I put on my Zen face and proceeded to traverse the area and remove all the “volunteers.”   It was while I was doing this chore that I found evidence that the ecosystem at The Havens is  healthy enough to support a variety of wildlife, including the predators at the top of the food chain.   Apparently, life is so good that my resident Western Ribbon snake grew out of her skin and had to shed it.   She availed herself of the rough rocks making the ridgeline of the Rock Garden to slip out of the old, too-small skin.   I got a shot of it in situ, and it wasn’t until I was cropping the image that I noticed the feather nestled in there as well.   The birds sit up on the den tree above the Rock Garden and preen, so I imagine this is the result of that activity.   There have been a lot of fledglings around lately, getting their feathers in and arranged properly.


After I acquired a few images of the skin in place, I carefully removed it from where she had discarded it.   I felt quite elated as I inspected the snake skin, it isn’t often that you find one that is completely intact.  She slithered out of it, starting from her head, and the whole thing just slipped off so neatly.   Of course, it is inside out.   You can see the spot where her eyes were, and the thin part of her lower jaw is even there.


I shall leave you with a couple of  images of the center of an infant sunflower the blue jays kindly planted for me.   It won’t be long before the finches discover it and open up the Sunflower Cafe.



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I was taking Ruby for her walk the other day and happened to be listening to a radio show that was talking about the year Gracie Allen ran for President.  It happened sort of by accident in 1940.  They played excerpts from some of the shows, and I about wet my pants listening to George Burns interview her.  Gracie went on a whistle stop tour too.   

I was inspired!  “I want to run for office!” I heard myself shouting.  Ruby pulled her head back in the open window in the back seat and chuffed at me.  “What political party should I run under?”  I asked her gaily.  She stuck her head back out the window, so I continued my train of thought silently.  

Given my Libertarian leanings and past, there was no way I could compromise my principles far enough to run as either a Democrat or a Republican.   I had met and hobnobbed with members of the Alaska Independence Party back in the late ’70s right after I graduated from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and they were way too whacko to join up with.  One of our other very good friends was a income tax protester who wound up spending time in prison for his principles.   He never gave up his rights to the Fifth Amendment.  

The other thing is, I’m a lapsed Libertarian.  I have developed what they would deem distressing Socialist tendencies in my old age.  But the Socialists would never associate with me becuase I sort of believe in capitalism.  Less than I used to but I still haven’t broken the habit yet.   After all, I do have shares in a mutual fund where my IRA is.

I have long thought we humans need to band together as brothers and sisters and friends and neighbors and help each other.  We need to provide Health Care (oh no I am descending into Capital Lettersland. . .) and some other socialist stuff like that.

Last night we went out to Jay and Jeri’s and had dinner.   We brought lasagna that was made using leftover spaghetti sauce that was made using leftover meatloaf.  The pan of lasagna that we took with us was leftover from Friday night’s dinner.  So it was leftover leftover leftovers.  And it was really good, too.  We also took a loaf of fresh made bread and a salad we just picked from the cold frames.  

That reminds me, I have promised Kristen elsewhere in the blog that I would post pictures of the cold frames and the support leg arrangement.  I need to go take a picture of that so I can post it, and and the same time brag heavily about my salad patch today.  Be right back.


Okay.   This is what the garden looks like when you enter the gate. Take a moment to notice the compost tumbler.   There are two of them set up out there.  In the left background you can see the cold frames standing open.   See the horizontal bar that connects the legs?  Before Jim tied them together, each leg swung independently in a most whimsical way.  The holes for the wing nuts were so old, they weren’t very tight any more.   The coldframes are about six feet wide, and so it required a quite elaborate dance to put the frames down at night.   Now you simply stand in the middle and control both legs with one hand while you gently lower the glass lid with the other.

The cold frames will get me out in the fresh air regularly and help me prevent osteoporosis by providing me with regular weight-bearing exercise.  But I digress.

Coldframes closed:


Cold frame open.  Notice that we had to build extensions for the old frames to sit on because the mustards and arugula in the mesclun got so tall.


We eat some really good salads, I can tell you.

Okay.  Now back to politics.  After we had eaten dinner, which began with shrimp sauteed in a white wine sauce Jeri whipped up, she and I ran over to Buffalo to pick up ice and other essential supplies.  When we got back, Jay informed me that he was going to corrupt Jim, fill him full of whiskey and a couple of cigars.  I told him to go right ahead, and Jeri and I proceeded to corrupt ourselves to some extent, although we mostly drew the line at the cigars.  Oops.  That’s not true, I smoked a cigar for a while.  I couldn’t do the whole thing though.  I think I had some sort of wild idea of showing solidarity with Jim so he would know I wasn’t going to get on his case for getting stinking drunk and indulging in tobacco.  (I’m still trying to throw off my Puritan ancestors’ influence.)

We went through a rather rowdy discussion of what we thought would be the results of Barack Obama philandering the way Slick Willy did during his administration.  This culminated with Jeri posing as Michelle grabbing Barack’s balls in an iron fist while he stood at a podium making a public apology for his crimes.

That is when I got on a roll about how I was going to run for office someday.  Only, the problem is, I have SUCH a checkered past.   I mean, I’m gingham in all shades of the rainbow.  

Anyway, here is the gist of my announcement of candidacy:  I’m running for office in 2012.  I’m runing as the candidate for the Party Party.  Let me get one thing clear.   “Yes, I had sex with that man!  Now, can we talk about the issues?”  

Oh I can just imagine the first press conference after my announcement of candidacy.  I walk on stage, they greet me and I sit down in the comfy chair across the desk from the anchor.   Then the curtain behind us opens, revealing a very long line of men and a couple of women.  Many more than you can count quickly, let’s not get into details of the numbers.  I recognize quite a few of them immediately:  The Beautiful Soprano, Ivan the Terrible, Soldier Boy, Sailor Man, Wolfman Jack, the Gypsy.   The Terrible Twosome is there as well as the Pair Of Jocks from the swim team plus a miscellaneous lot of musicians and theatre majors.   I start to indulge in a pleasant reminiscence about days gone by when I am jolted back to reality by the dulcet tones of the anchor.

“Ms. Candidate.   Did you have sex with any of these men?”

Now, imagine me reclining on a couch in my friends’ living room in full declamatory phase here.  This is sort of what I said to Jeri.   I was not able to stand up, the couch I was sitting on had swallowed me up.   Jeri was laughing hysterically, and both the boys stopped their heated political diatribes  discussion to listen to me as I went off.

“Yes, I did have sex with that man!   As a matter of fact, I probably had sex with all of them at one time or another. Let me see,” I muse, as I imagine getting up from my comfy chair and walking along the line of men standing there.   Some look amused, some a little embarrassed.   “Oh, yes.   I had sex with him! Mmm.  You too.   Mmmmmmm-mmm.    That was a nice time, thank you very much.   Yep, I believe I had sex with this one too, only I’m sorry I can’t remember the name because he was such a selfish and unimaginative lover I never went out with him again.   Don’t call us, we’ll call you!” I say scornfully to the hapless fellow as I pass on down the line.  Quickly bored, I turn back to the anchor.

“And before you ask, yes I smoked pot.  Didn’t everybody at one time or another? What’s the big fucking deal anyway?   I can’t even begin to imagine how many ounces have passed over my lips in one form or another over the past three decades.  Hell, I even grew it a couple of years.  Stadiums are filling as we speak with myriads of potential witnesses to our debauchery.   Before you ask, I just want to say I also snorted cocaine for a short time.  I decided then that white crystalline powders were not for me; I am not fond of the headache.   I dropped acid once, that happened at a Grateful Dead New Year’s Eve Concert at the Oakland Coliseum in the late ’80s.  

So you’d better have a pretty huge venue for the potential witnesses.   That pool will include a large number of musicians of all sorts (Of course Slick Willy inhaled!  He was a sax player for god’s sake!) scattered all up and down the West Coast from the deepest south of San Diego clear up to the Puget Sound area, as well as almost every male theatre major in the College, Alaska area during the years of ’73 and ’74.  Even one of the gay ones.

Can we talk about the issues yet?  No?  You have more questions?  How intrusive into my private life are you prepared to get?

No.  I never had an “abortion” per se, although I have sufferred through several miscarriages spontaneous abortions as my body rejected the unviable creature that was developing within it.  Those tore me up, I really wanted to have a kid, but I was stuck in the traditional “have a baby and raise it up” version for quite a while.   I am so happy and proud and grateful to have the man we have as our adopted son.  

I’ve known several people who did have abortions, and they agonized and meditated over their decision.  I believe they made the approprate choice at the time, and support them in their decision and the need to make that decision.   It is their body, and their life, and until the fetus is born and can survive on its own without medical intervention, it is a parasite upon a woman’s body, lives within her sucking all the  energy it needs to survive out of her very bloodstream.    When this process is carried to a successful conclusion, with love and desire for the new soul being provided a housing, it creates a bond of love that is lifelong.  If it is done willy-nilly, the bond is lifelong as well, but very twisted.   That being within the mother is fully aware of all her emotions.  Think about it.  What kind of a human will you turn out to be if you know your mother did not want you? 

Now, lets see.   I always lived by the motto that I am not going to allow any one to rule me by guilt.   I have  looked at many people during my life and said, “You can not blackmail me.   If you decide you want to tell what we did, then I will tell everybody first, and louder.”   I’m sure that there was a famous person back in history that said, “Publish and be damned to you!” but for the life of me I can’t remember who it was that said it or what the occasion was.

As a consequence of following this rule, the other Prime Directive “Do Unto Others as You Would Have Them Do Unto You,” and the Axiom “TANSTAAFL” (There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch), you will have lots of smut to giggle over, many orgasmic sex scenes to sit through.  You will attend hilarious parties developed around a theme food (like chicken)(or taffy pulls), some amazingly beautiful music of all genres, art gallery openings, political rallies.  You will not find any assaults, battery or murders.   I did steal candy from the Kraft display in Safeway when I was very young.   

I’m running as the candidate for the Party Party.   Our platform is:   Be Nice.   Have Fun.  Don’t Pollute.  Don’t Hurt Anyone.   Take Care Of Each Other.

WHAT??!!  You want to know what religion I am?   Well, I can tell you this right now.  It is not any one of your male dominated organized Guilt Trips.  I am a pagan, I practice Wicca (which by the way is an old word meaning “Wise Woman”) and I have already experienced being burned at the stake out near Toledo Spain during the Burning Times (oh, by the way, I believe in reincarnation too) so you can’t scare me any more.  I’m a witch.  Get over it. Deal with it.

Now that we have dealt with all the things that all the judgmental bastards out there in Religionland think make me unqualified to be your leader, can we please talk about the issues?

Vote for Me!  Thank you, and have a nice day.

I’m Esmerelda Hibblesfinck and I approved this message.

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I awoke this morning slightly hung over since we felt compelled to drink the entire bottle of champagne that Jim precipitously bought for our personal victory celebration.  I mean, we already had it cold before the polls closed, so I guess we were being complacent about the chances of our guy winning.

I walked the labyrinth this morning, burning sage the whole way.  I spent most of the walk talking to the electorate, to the politicians who ran for office, praying for peace and tolerance, visualizing a country united to overcome the problems that threaten to overwhelm us.

I found myself singing an old song as I entered the center circle, surrounded by the beautiful rocks from all over the world.   The song is a hymn my mother taught me when I was very young, a round based on the text of a Bible verse:  “And every man ‘neath his vine and fig tree, shall live in peace and unafraid.   And into plowshares turn their swords, nations shall learn war no more, and every man ‘neath his vine and fig tree, shall live in peace and unafraid.”

I spent a long time in the center, visiting the very special rocks there.  I spent quite a while censing the glass orb that represents my son Jesse, who is still in Iraq.   I also saged the rock he brought me from there, as well as the rocks from Israel that were gifted to me by my sister and another person whose family lives in that country.   I visited with my Spanish rock, and sent my thoughts to azahar.  Then I spent some time with the rocks from Antarctica, blessing the strangers that provided them for me.   I visited the rock that Ærchie sent me from the Great Western Desert in Australia.  I made sure the fairy swimming pool was filled with water.  I sat before the Wylde Woman that Tammy Vitale made for me, and left the last of the sage burning in the shell beneath her feet.  I visited the large collection of rocks from Colorado, given to me by Daddy and my sister Judith.   I touched the rock from Greenland my sister Barbara gave me.  And then there are all the other rocks from others too numerous to mention here.  I felt so very blessed, so surrounded by love.

As I finished walking, my mother stopped by on her way home from Nixa, where she was working with my niece to get out the vote and elect Barack Obama President of the United States. She had to rush home because she has an appointment at the jail today, where she is scheduled to tutor a young man for his GED.  As she stepped out of the truck and I greeted her, she said very proudly, “We elected a President yesterday!”

My mother amazes me.   She is 80 years old, and she went off to canvass in an unfamiliar town, working as an activist to elect a minority person to the highest office in the land.  Now that the job is accomplished, she immediately, and without a rest or break, turns her attention to educating people who need and want to be educated.


My father amazes me too.  He is even older than my mother, and the two of them drove all over their area of Laclede County, canvassing for Barack Obama.  I know that it is the way my parents raised me that made it possible for me to become an adult who has no seed of hatred towards other races, religions and cultures within me.  There are certain individuals that I abhor, but I hold that feeling towards them because of the hatred and lies they spew, not for more superficial attributes.  In the name of all Gods and Goddesses, in the name of Reason as well, may the hatred spewers be struck dumb.

Imagine Rush Limbaugh seated in front of his microphone, about to speak, and no sound issues from his mouth.

Shortly after I took the above picture, I asked Mother about the family legend that my paternal Grandmother Smith was involved in the suffragette movement.   Yes indeedy, she informed me.   Grandmother Smith was part of the famous march on Washington, was a member of the Suffragette Chorus that sang there.   It is no wonder that the women of our family are activists and radicals!  As she was talking about her mother-in-law, I snapped a few more pictures of her.  

I really like this one, as she was getting serious for a moment.  You can just see our Mohawk ancestress peeking out in this view, I think.


Beware of old ladies with beat up pick up trucks!  They will change the world!

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