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Tongue in Cheek
Provence, France
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My Godmother Mary is an amazing woman, her heart is golden, her bones ivory. Her home is a sanctuary where darkness has no room. When she embraces me I know the meaning of heaven on earth. Mary collects feelings, weaving them into soft spots. Her ear is ready to listen far into the night. When I am with her there is no other place I would rather be, she captivates my imagination and makes me laugh. Seldom does anyone leave her home empty handed. I leave with a car full, and a spirit that soars. If I could spend a million years with her I would never know boredom, and I am not exaggerating. She is just too good to be true. Honestly every inch of my Godmother's house has a touch of Marie-Antoinette, Betty-Boop, and Martha Stewart stuck to it. I went into her closet and just screamed! She had rows of vintage prom dresses, and hats to match. Talk about bling-bling! Certainly, the day she was born earth was a better place, heaven touched the ground and sang. My Godmother shares abundantly, she doesn't know the word selfish, she puts everyone on a throne. I haven't had tea in the same cup twice. Mary finds her treasures at yard sales. She told me she cannot leave anything behind, especially if it is chipped or cracked. I believe Mary knows that being broken is being made whole. One of Mary's creations. Mary beauty stems from caring for others. She has a knack for unfolding people's pain and given them a bundle of courage to carry on. Mary has a healing touch, a graciousness that makes me want to be a better person. Continue reading
Posted 1 hour ago at Tongue in Cheek
oh la la!!
Toggle Commented 10 hours ago on Tessa and the Goldfish Story at Tongue in Cheek
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French Husband sent me this snapchat photo of Sacha standing inside our fountain. The two of them scrubbed it cleaned today, it is home to twenty goldfish. For those of you who have been reading my blog since the beginning of time you might recall the stone fountain story, and how we came to have ten goldfish. The story of how we came to adopt ten extra goldfish takes place in 2009. But before I reblog the story of the goldfish, today I had lunch with Tessa, and right before I met her French Husband sent me a snapchat of Sacha, "We are cleaning the fountain," he wrote. Such a coincidence! The Story of Tessa (We met through my cousin Sandra) I am an American woman living in France. Tessa is French woman living in America. Tessa grew up in a small town in the country. I grew up in a small town in the country. Her parents were bilingual. My parents were bilingual. I have lived in France, for over twenty years. Tessa has lived Stateside, for over twenty years. Tessa is an uncommon name for a French girl. Corey is an uncommon name for an American girl. I am a shorter than the average American woman. Tessa is a taller than the average French woman. I have two children: A girl (27) and a boy (25). Tessa has two children: A girl (26) and a boy (24). I am married to a French man. Tessa is married to an American man. I had cancer. Tessa had cancer. We both love family, home and decorating with old things. I live forty minutes away from where she grew up in France. Tessa lives forty minutes away from where I grew up in California. Tessa's family lives in France. My family lives in California. My father passed away and shortly after we adopted her father's goldfishes, he passed away. When we met in 2009 we discovered we had much in common, and had a great deal to talk about because of it. What it is to leave behind everything you love and cherish, to follow your heart to love and cherish. Years ago, her father built her a stone fountain in her garden. Years ago, we built a stone fountain in our garden. Her father had goldfish that are ten years old. We had goldfish that are ten years old. Tessa's... Continue reading
Posted yesterday at Tongue in Cheek
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When I saw this angel food roll cake on the internet, I knew I had to make it for Monday Dinner at my Mom's house. My niece Molly helped, we thought of Sacha the entire time as it was his birthday, he favorite type of cake is about berries. To learn how to make it: "The Recipe Rebel" The three berry angel food roll cake is easier to make than to repeat the title out loud three times. My Mom had Molly add fresh mint from the garden. The cake is easy to make and the presentation is spectacular. 1 Angel Food Cake mix, plus ingredients to prepare 1/4 cup + 3/4 cup powdered sugar, divided 8 oz light cream cheese, room temperature 1 1/2 cups heavy cream (35%) 1 teaspoon vanilla 1 1/2 cups fresh strawberries, diced 1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries 1 1/2 cups fresh raspberries As my mother prepared dinner, Molly and I made the cake, Warren played piano on his phone. The day (week) was hot enough to cook dinner on the sidewalk... 106° and counting up. Such entertainment, such giggling pleasure, such lickable-likable-love in every bite! How can I live in France on Mondays? The only thing that has changed on Monday Nights over the last decade is: The children. They are growing up. and so are we.... Presto! Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Tongue in Cheek
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Salt and pepper shakers on a piece of checkered marble (tile) board. My mother keeps coming up with creative fun ideas for her home. A piece of marble checkered tile my mom smiles, "Isn't it a great piece, I use it for many things, usually cheese and crackers." That is so my mom: Mrs. Re-Purposing, a thinker outside of the box when it comes to decorating, "I get a lot of compliments on it too, a piece of tile that will never be used as a piece of tile." She laughs. Mom placed the heavy tile on the dining room table, then went around gathering her collection of salt and pepper shakers, and out them on the marble checkered tile, "I had this idea to use it as a center piece with salt and pepper shakers. Using the pepper shakers as the black tokens and the salt shakers as the white tokens... and play checkers, a conversational piece." Original Mom! I imagined putting the checker tile in my suitcase and taking it home. If only it didn't weigh as much as a small child I might. Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Tongue in Cheek
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Artichoke and onion blossoms. Sturdy stems holding structurally incredible pieces of nature. Artful display in heat ranging in the 100s these summer days. Powerful grace speaks. I stand in awe in my cousin's garden. My back home days are counting towards the end, pulling on my heartstrings, the vulnerable edge is approaching. I would think after thirty years of this it would be easier to manoeuvre, but no. The feelings of sadness come tapping on my heart's door: Will I see you again? What was I thinking? Mixed with happiness to be going home and being in that cozy corner of Yann's arms. Bloom where are you are planted comes to mind. Uprooted does too. Sturdy stalk, strong bloom, deeply connected to the moment at hand. Coming to visit "back home" reminds me of the other life that runs through my veins that made me who I am. If only this, If only that, if only it wasn't so far, if only... Thankful for the seasons that bring renewal. As I have said numerous times before, "When you are an expat you are always missing someone or something." The reality of living abroad is sharing and collecting from both worlds and making it one. My cousin Johnny's artichoke and onion garden. My cousin takes the artichokes cuts off the outside leaves, stem and then cuts the top part off. Then melts butter, adds chopped garlic, parmesan and parsley on the top, wraps them in foil and bakes them for about an hour. Later in the evening my cousin cut a bouquet of overgrown purple top artichokes for me to take back to my mom's. He added onion blooms too. Two beauties in one vase. The end of the season, the artichokes and onions bloom and turn into seed. Collected, scattered, toiled underground or left alone nature unfolds and becomes again and again. Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at Tongue in Cheek
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Happy Birthday Boy Wonder! xoxo Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at Tongue in Cheek
Posted 6 days ago at Tongue in Cheek
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Antiquing in Northern California is not like antiquing in France, but that does not mean it is less fun, nor that I do not like it. The best part is that I am with my Mom, the second part is that we like different things, and the third part it reminds me of home. My mother has been antiquing for most of my life, from the start we were attracted to different things, though we appreciate each others style. Today we went here and there, my mom bought four incredible green patina milk cans, that are heavier than sin, how did the dairy men ever lift them when they were full? How did we ever lift them into her pickup? We had help that is how. As we drove home they did not even budge. Of course I forgot to take a photo! I saw this 1970s glass pitcher, if only I could carry it home, but there is a limit to what I can bring and what I need. When I saw this pitcher it reminded me of family parties, the 70s and the fun we had with my cousins. We never had a pitcher like this, that doesn't matter, it is how antiques or certain things evoke stories that add flavor and charm to the moment of antiquing. One thing leads to another, with antiquing it just goes on and on. Oh those bright colors, I have never even tried to do something like this. The 70s have been making a come back. A new appreciation for that period is taking over me. Blame it on Cassis, that is what started my head to turn and do a double take and things I would have never paid attention to before. When friends come over and join us on The French Muse Experience I am instantly curious as to what they like and how they see art, antiques, collecting... their taste has an impact on me. That is part of the pleasure of experiencing how someone else sees things, and letting their view widens my perspective. My mother is drawn to rustic, primitive, handmade items that are brut, rough and yet sweet. When I was a kid she use to devour Country Home Magazines or something with a name like that, the pages had primitive antiques that made Little House in the Prairie look like a flat in Manhattan.... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Tongue in Cheek
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The artistic way of living. Flowers from the garden in an enamelware pitcher. My mother is a natural at creating beauty, making art out of the everyday. Celebrating whatever comes her way, morning, noon and night. Today's artistic touch was going to adorn a table at the blood bank, "...just to greet the donors." my Mom said, "Oh by the way, can you take it to the blood bank hall for me? And be sure to put a cloth underneath it to look pretty." My Mom is generous with her creativity and artful expression, I have known people to bring their packages over for my Mother to wrap for special occasions. With a carefree touch, a flower here, a ribbon there, My Mother weave's her love without fanfare, without drawing attention back to herself. She is a do-er, a giver, someone who works behind the scene. If someone offers to help her they will often tease that my mother expects perfection. My Mother doesn't do anything unless it is done with grace, nothing "half-ass" as I have heard her say. It doesn't matter the event, big or small, no matter what she does she does it whole heartily, and she rarely says no. My Mother's home is a haven, simply cosy, rustic charm, where no corner is left untouched. Continue reading
Posted Jun 16, 2017 at Tongue in Cheek
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My Mother is a nuts and bolts kind of woman. Practical with no frills (except when it comes to decorating and dressing, she has such style, but not frilly.). Dust rag in one hand, and a plate of cookies in the other. Being busy is her best friend. The word sit down does not relate to her. If ever you give my Mother a compliment she will brush it aside, saying, "Oh gee," then make a click sound with her tongue. She is that predictable, and never late. Sacha when he was two years old. My Mother has given me life twice. Once at my birth, and then again after Sacha's birth. A three weeks after Sacha's birth my Mom sensed something was wrong, she thought my stomach should be going down, she could tell I had lost most the weight I had gained, but that my stomach looked like I was still pregnant. I told her that I felt great, that after three weeks I didn't expect to have a flat stomach, that if I weren't well Sacha wouldn't be thriving with my breast milk. I wasn't worried and brushed her concern away. A view in my Mother's garden. Still she persisted. After days of discussing the way I looked, my Mom said she would not return home (California,) until I went to see a Doctor. I told her I didn't mind if she stayed in France with me forever. She laughed, and then nearly bopped me over the head with the phone. She has a way of getting her point across. That is how I found out I had ovarian cancer. It is a silent killer. My Mother's intuition saved me. A Mother's love is that she can feel her children from the inside out. Continue reading
Posted Jun 15, 2017 at Tongue in Cheek
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I cut them round with a small lid. I added them to the tins afterwards. No chocolate, but you could add it.
Toggle Commented Jun 15, 2017 on Bite Size Wonder at Tongue in Cheek
1 reply
You could, but I do not.
Toggle Commented Jun 15, 2017 on Bite Size Wonder at Tongue in Cheek
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Tiny fruit tartlettes a bite full that bursts with flavor. Finely grind the following, until it forms a ball, in the food processor: 1 cup toasted almonds 1/3 cup hazelnuts 1/3 flour 3 tablespoons sugar 2 tablespoon sweet, melted butter. Form 10 to 12 little balls, then flatten them with the palm of you hand and cut the edges round with a knife. Add the almond round shaped tart-crust to parchment line baking sheet. On each tart-crust add half a teaspoon of mascarpone, and bake in a preheated oven 200° for five minutes. After baking the tartlette crusts, add small slices of the fruit of your choice: Strawberry, Kiwi, Peach Apricot, Orange... The tarts can be made a day ahead, keep in the fridge, serve at room temperature. Continue reading
Posted Jun 14, 2017 at Tongue in Cheek
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My Godchild Daisy and her dad Tom came to visit today. Daisy is a miracle child. When she was born she had one of the most amazing stories and survival that I have ever witnessed. For years she had a feeding tube, and struggled each time she caught a cold, now years later she is as she has been a force of nature, a miracle, a wonder child. xxx Continue reading
Posted Jun 13, 2017 at Tongue in Cheek
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My Godchild Daisy, and her dad Tom came to visit today. Daisy is a miracle child. When she was born she had a terrifying birth story, and survival that I have ever witnessed. For years she had a feeding tube, and struggled each time she caught a cold, now years later she is as she has been a force of nature, a miracle, a wonder child, a brave little girl. xxx Continue reading
Posted Jun 13, 2017 at Tongue in Cheek
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All those little things that say something that words fail to, or actions deny. All those little things that let us know that the moment is right, that we are on to something good, that it is okay, that the it is as it should be. Those little hints that give us way... the way the morning light reaches into our bed, the way a lady bug feels as it crawls along our hand, the way the church bells ring just at a time when silence needs to be broken. The way a cloud can tell a story as it passes by, or a daffodil springs yellow into the darkness, or the way a kite string plays in the wind against a cool blue sky. The scent of rain before it falls. All those little things, those out of the blue reasons that give us an aha moment, as if a key that opens something within us, releases the answer we have been searching for without even us knowing we were looking for something. The little things that speak a message out of nowhere that we did not know we needed to hear. Harmony unveiled. Continue reading
Posted Jun 12, 2017 at Tongue in Cheek
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A party for my niece Gina took place at my mother's home. As my niece graduated last night, and is involved in the FFA, raises dairy and will be Dairy Princess for our region, my mother decorated with old buckets filled with straw. My beautiful mother. My brother Marty and sister in law Suzy. My nieces who also graduated, Marie and Molly and me. Cupcakes galore. Patti my niece (Marty and Suzy's daughter) and my sister in laws, Shelley and Suzy. Some of my family, after lunch. Setting up. My brother Mat and his daughter Marie. Maci preparing the lemonade. Suzy with Kate. Patti is the oldest grandchild, and Gina the graduate xxx Continue reading
Posted Jun 11, 2017 at Tongue in Cheek
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The main reason I came home was because of my nieces' and nephew's graduations. Family comes first. Such a good opportunity to share joyous moments together. Marie and Gina graduation from high school. A rite of passage, a mark of time. A celebration of a chapter ending, and a new one beginning. Little birds flying from the nest. For my brother Mathew and sister-in-law Shelley, it is their youngest leaving home, the empty nest is theirs. For my brother Mark and my sister-in-law Diane it is their oldest and first child leaving the nest. My mom with Marie. The happy two, they walked in together at their ceremony. Also, my niece Molly graduated from the eighth grade. During Molly's graduation it was fifty degrees cold, and if that wasn't enough it rained. As the ceremony was outside, and the weather was unexpected, I gave Molly my jacket. Hence, the rolled up sleeve. There is one more graduation, Sam's. He graduates from university you might recall when he and Sacha graduated together years ago from high school. To see their photos click here. Continue reading
Posted Jun 10, 2017 at Tongue in Cheek
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Coming home, the flood gates up, the river swells, stirring memories buried under the years of living abroad. It never fails each and every time I come home- Memories are recalled, explored and seen anew. More often than not, it is as if I am walking along the shore of who I am collecting seashells from my past. And then someone I haven't seen in a long time sails by, I do a double take, "Isn't that so and so?"... and with that the memory of that person comes to the surface, along with anything, everything that was attached to it: High school, after a football game, driving around town which we called, "tooling", late night kissing... up bubbles laughter. Or someone mentions someone I haven't thought of in thirty years, and just like that another memory that was buried at the bottom of years gone by comes to surface. Coming home stirs the who, what, where, when-- bringing my past flooding forward like a piece of driftwood weaving in and out of the current. The waters surge around me, billowing me up and down, gracefully through with a few snags. It is a journey in chartered waters but one that surprises me, as the landscape has changed. Those who have lived here have seen the coming and going of old friends, have witness each other lives taken shape with age, love, careers, children, disappointments, dreams and those moments that count the days gone by, creating a collective journey within the circle of life that holds them. The river takes me back to the small rural town, close family, shared community: Homeland. I am part of that, but no longer part of that, those memories, stories, collected gathering of shared experiences become washed over with distance, time and another culture and place. Diluted, misplaced, overload, forgotten... though when I come back the ripples touch my shore... I never know what will come to the surface, be unearthed, it is a treasure chest covered with barnacles, seaweed and so easily embraced. What will stir reflection? Allowing a piece of me to come back, hold my hand, or take my hand, regardless where I am: Standing on the shore, or setting sail. Continue reading
Posted Jun 9, 2017 at Tongue in Cheek
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My dad's shop use to be the milking barn but when I was fourteen he stopped dairy farming and went into motorcycles. He kept farming rice, and went riding on the weekends. My dad had many different motorcycles, his Harley was his favorite. Later the shop became a hang out for those who loved to eat, breath and sleep motorcycles. My brothers, cousins and friends still gather there to shoot the bull, drink beer and occasionally work on their bikes. My dad's spirit is alive and kicking, as his heaven might be here as well. In the barn, or some call it the shop, the walls are covered with memorabilia... race tickets, photos, news articles, tags, motorcycles stickers... it is like a gigantic scrapbook dating back to the late sixties. The photos are fading on the walls. Though if you ask anyone gathered there on a Friday night they will relive the moment as if it were yesterday. Nothing is forgotten. Nothing is worth nothing. Every moment lives. The barn is where I feel my dad. The peg board holds some of his tools. There is something to be said for things that remain the same, used, borrowed, shared, but remain the same. It makes me want to keep things the same at my home so when my children come back it will be familiar, consistent, memorable... but our home changes every weekend with my buying and selling so I guess keeping anything the same would defeat the memory of how it is.... Inside my dad's Harley's side packs were his jacket, vest, chaps.... French Husband and I took them out admired them for awhile, shared a story or two, shed a tear... then put them back where they belong. Treasure chest of memories. Open any drawer, Each are stacked, Haphazardly... Organized... Purposeful. Glorious old tools, to grab and use, or just hold like a magic wand to take you back. My Dad rode motorcycles up to the age of 80. Those stools.... if they could talk. If only they could talk. I remember when they use to be in the house, by the bar that my cousin Doug made. Later my mom changed the look of the living room and the bar-stools went to the barn. When years of use rendered holes in the fabric my dad tape them with duck tape. 1972 and still standing strong. Every Friday... Continue reading
Posted Jun 8, 2017 at Tongue in Cheek
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The five younger nieces, the original long hair contest group: Molly, Marie, Gina, Maci and Kate. The photo was taken six months ago. Continue reading
Posted Jun 7, 2017 at Tongue in Cheek
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A flower in her hair, pink sweet little bloom. My nieces looked through their yearbooks, graduation is this weekend, Molly graduates from the eighth grade, Marie and Gina from high school, and Sam from University. They have grown, I know that is what everyone says when they haven't seen a child in awhile, oh but they have, they have. "The Seven Little Ones" (as I call them) remind me of how the "Seven Older Ones" use to look when they were the same age. I guess "little" they are no longer. Monday night, my Mother cooks dinner for the family. My mother is an early riser, I am a night owl, but when I am home- Early is the menu of the day. At five the rooster starts calling out, in a round-about way they are like the church bells in France, both wake me up, both speak of yesteryear and tradition, both are constant, both have a place in their surroundings. By ten I feel we have lived a full day. My mother is the motorized bunny. It is her happiness to keep busy. My mother's friends Linda and Ed, who I adore, bring a bouquet of roses from their garden to mother every Sunday morning. What a blessing friendship is. Every Monday (since the first grandchild was born) the grand children come to my Mother's home. This Monday was no exception. Happily the chores continued. Today she had them wash some windows, take some branches down that had fallen on the roof, wash some rugs... and then devoured "goodies" she had made them. My mother is the Queen Bee of activity. My mother's homemade chocolate chip cookies, more than seven grandchildren and seven other family members could eat. As I type this evening I can still smell their aroma. Home grown loving beauties. Continue reading
Posted Jun 6, 2017 at Tongue in Cheek
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Coming home to familiarity is a gift I hold close to heart. My mother's hand is creative, nothing is for not, everything has a place: The glass sugar bowl in the cupboard on the bottom shelf to the right, the curtain made of hand brooms above the kitchen sink, the wound-up clock ticking so loudly that I can hear it at night in my bedroom (such an old friend), the old photos such as the one of my Great Grand-Father, my Grandparent's wedding portrait, my niece's and nephew's baby photos framed on the wall... These bits and pieces cause a rush of well being, connecting me to my childhood the moment I walk in. I am grateful that things do not change. The kitchen is the center of the house, next to the back door which has been the front door to those who know us. A few million cookies have been made at that counter. In the fridge there is a pink almond-rocco can that my mother fills steadily, rarely is it empty. Snickerdoodles, chocolate chips, peanut butter, oatmeal, chocolate mounds... When a happy home has been in the same place for over fifty years there is something sacred, something sweet, something beyond words that maybe can only be known by those who have experienced the same thing: Life's moments small, silly, serious, tearful, enduring... We moved to this home when I was five. A cabin that was slowly enlarged. Those bricks, one by one were collected when our old town was sadly knocked down. My mother scrapped the old mortar off each one of them. My mother love's a country look. She stained that ceiling by herself when I was fourteen. A simple home with a big heart and soul. Home. Hearth. Happiness. Well being. Ah. Tell me about your childhood home? Continue reading
Posted Jun 5, 2017 at Tongue in Cheek
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My mother lives down a paved lane, where along the sides are of dirt and gravel, followed by a fence, then fields. It is on the outskirts of town. "Since there is no structure to stand out from its surroundings, a Kildeer nest blends marvelously into the background. Furthermore, the speckled eggs themselves look like stones. The "nest," which is just a slight depression in the gravel." photo via nature almanac photo via nature almanac Driving down the lane my mother noticed the Kildeer fly across the lane to the other side, "Look," she said, "The bird is trying to distract us, she must have a nest nearby." So we stopped the car to take a look. Camouflaged by nature's genius, it was not easy to find, the mother bird did her "look over here, look at me" dance. "The Kildeer frequently uses a "broken wing act" to distract predators from the nest." Kildeer that breed in the Caribbean and Mexico can nest year-round. In northern areas, Kildeer only raise one brood per season, though they may lay up to three broods of eggs. However, in the southern U.S., Kildeer often raise two broods of chicks in one summer. It takes nearly a month for Kildeer eggs to hatch. The parents lead the babies away as soon as their down feathers dry within a few hours of hatching." via wiki Three eggs. As we go up and down the lane often, and my family comes over to visit, the poor little Kildeer is constantly dancing. I imagine she is exhausted by the end of the day. Certainly she is thinking "Never again on the Amaro lane." xxxC Continue reading
Posted Jun 4, 2017 at Tongue in Cheek