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Archive for the ‘Older women’ Category

I very much doubt that, back in 1956, anyone congratulating Herbert Kubly — journalist-turned-university professor — on winning that year’s National Book Award could have imagined the life that would play out for a girl of ten at the time. If somehow a mid-1950s mind was able to wrap around what was later known as Punk, the idea of the woman eventually dubbed “Godmother of Punk” winning a National Book Award of her own might have brought on apoplexy.

It has happend. Yes, Patti Smith IS this year’s non-fiction winner for her book Just Kids.

It was the summer Coltrane died, the summer of love and riots, and the summer when a chance encounter in Brooklyn led two young people on a path of art, devotion, and initiation.

Patti Smith would evolve as a poet and performer, and Robert Mapplethorpe would direct his highly provocative style toward photography. Bound in innocence and enthusiasm, they traversed the city from Coney Island to Forty-second Street, and eventually to the celebrated round table of Max’s Kansas City, where the Andy Warhol contingent held court. In 1969, the pair set up camp at the Hotel Chelsea and soon entered a community of the famous and infamous—the influential artists of the day and the colorful fringe. It was a time of heightened awareness, when the worlds of poetry, rock and roll, art, and sexual politics were colliding and exploding. In this milieu, two kids made a pact to take care of each other. Scrappy, romantic, committed to create, and fueled by their mutual dreams and drives, they would prod and provide for one another during the hungry years.

Just Kids begins as a love story and ends as an elegy. It serves as a salute to New York City during the late sixties and seventies and to its rich and poor, its hustlers and hellions. A true fable, it is a portrait of two young artists’ ascent, a prelude to fame.

Patti came to music through poetry, a logical step that resonates on just about every level I have and made me a fan many years ago. Her lyrics have spoken , and with a generation I listened, absorbed and was absolved.

Her verse and voice still inspire:

Dancing Barefoot

she is benediction
she is addicted to thee
she is the root connection
she is connecting with he

here I go and I don’t know why
I spin so ceaselessly
could it be he’s taking over me…

I’m dancing barefoot
heading for a spin
some strange music draws me in
makes me come on like some heroin/e

she is sublimation
she is the essence of thee
she is concentrating on
he, who is chosen by she

here I go and I don’t know why
I spin so ceaselessly,
could it be he’s taking over me…

she is re-creation
she, intoxicated by thee
she has the slow sensation that
he is levitating with she …

here I go and I don’t know why,
I spin so ceaselessly,
’til I lose my sense of gravity…

And now, what has been called a “beautifully crafted love letter to Robert Mapplethorpe” has been oh-so-appropriately honored.

My congratulations and gratitude to the National Book Foundation for their supreme good sense.

You can read an excerpt from the book here, but here’s a bit from that:

We used to laugh at our small selves, saying that I was a bad girl trying to be good and that he was a good boy trying to be bad. Through the years these roles would reverse, then reverse again, until we came to accept our dual natures. We contained opposing principles, light and dark.

I was a dreamy somnambulant child. I vexed my teachers with my precocious reading ability paired with an inability to apply it to anything they deemed practical. One by one they noted in my reports that I daydreamed far too much, was always somewhere else. Where that somewhere was I cannot say, but it often landed me in the corner sitting on a high stool in full view of all in a conical paper hat.

I would later make large detailed drawings of these humorously humiliating moments for Robert. He delighted in them, seeming to appreciate all the qualities that repelled or alienated me from others. Through this visual dialogue my youthful memories became his.

Although it was far from fairy tale fodder and did not end up in happily-ever-after, the Smith/Mapplethorpe relationship … two dedicated artists sharing the path … stirs in my heart and mixes the sediment lodged there into the fluid of what it takes to create.

Ladies and gentlemen, Patti Smith … Dancing Barefoot …

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A discussion over on Café Philos serves up blog fodder this morning, resulting from a jab-in-jest meant for someone else sideswiping me.

Okay. Okay. I’d had a not-great day, so assumed a snarky posture … one of my best looks, actually … from which I lobbed a few grenades, but — really now! — would anyone knowing me at all not have expected a bitch-slap out of this:

… Sandra. You belong to Paul Sunstone’s harem and I always respect male friends.

Hold the phone!

Yeah, I spat a few nails … good thing I have a plank floor and thereby avoid the ricochet … gave a bit of thought to why this comment grated, took some ideas out for a spin, then came up with this comment:

Excuse the interruption here, guys … but I’m not part of anyone’s harem and, quite frankly, I find the whole idea insulting and arrogant.

Not to take this too far off the path, but I do think there needs to be some reality check going on. I have come to the thought that one reason so many of the men in my life have been significantly younger has a lot to do with a certain mindset that seems to solidify in men of a certain age that pigeonholes women in ways they’re not aware of … an arrogance, as it were. I don’t think it’s intentional … in fact I’m guessing backlash against comes as quite a shock, since most think themselves quite “liberated” in their thinking, but I’ve seen this time and time again.

Any idea how tedious it gets having guys expressing apparent surprise that I’m smart and funny, and how fucking condescending it is to hear congratulations on the fact that I have the capacity to think circles around them?

This isn’t a shocker to men under 40 for some reason … not that they don’t have their own issues.

It seems a bad habit, this mindset, dudes … and something worth examining.

There’s been dialog since, both on Paul’s blog and in my life, so I’m processing as I compose today, checking the vaults of my memory’s bank for interest on deposits and wondering if I should make a withdrawal.

The fact that younger men have always been a feature in my love life doesn’t play into today’s focus; after all, I started that proclivity early and celebrating four 21st birthdays with guys I dated when I was 28 made no cross-generational statements, nor were there any revelations.

It wasn’t noticeable even when my now-ex-husband and I got together … he at 26, and me 41 … a relationship that thrived for a long time and brought us two great kids.

No, it’s only been the last few years that I’ve come up against the challenge presented by men over 50, my chronological peers ostensibly sharing boat space on the sea of singledom.

Finding myself newly single in my 50s came as a surprise, it’s true, sneaking up on me, then leaping from the clear blue without any time to prep, and although I had grown accustomed to sharing life with a 30-something, I was under the impression that age range was now behind me and my future would have a couple more decades under a belt.

I set my heading toward what seemed to be the more settled, but kept running aground on shoals more newly formed. (Yes, there was one 50-something guy who showed up for a while, but he was as close to lifeless as someone still drawing breath can get, so didn’t last more than a few weeks. I think I made him dizzy, and he bored the shit out of me and was terrified of bugs. Sheesh!)

Surprisingly, it’s been the 30-somethings that have wooed me and won.

Why the wooing? No idea.

Why the winning?

As mentioned in my comment response, younger men are neither shocked at the way my mind works, nor do they begrudge vacating the teacher’s chair and letting the class run amok. The very fact that I am older appeals and perhaps makes it easier to accept that along with the years of experience comes knowledge and wisdom and a perspective that may be different.

There’s a give-and-take, mutual learning, that is effortless over broad territory, and although maleness does rear its testosterone-powered head when it comes to who drives and washes dishes and such, few assumptions are made in discourse.

This seems to present quite the challenge to men over 50, and I’m trying to figure out why. Is it arrogance that prompts guys to mention they notice I’m smart and expect me to be flattered … swept off my feet, even … go all girly and ooze gratitude? Habit? Genuine surprise? Detritus of previous relationships?

If it is arrogance, fuck ’em. If habit, someone needs to start busting their chops and get them to give that one up for Lent. Genuine surprise can be overcome by spending more time with smart women. Baggage could be set aside.

A question I’ve posed has to do with the changes to families that happened between the generations, the increase in the percentage of moms who work outside the home and the number of single moms. Does having a doting mother whose entire life revolves around her children produce a different man than one whose female model heads into the world daily, has her own money and often runs the whole shebang? And does this go anywhere near explaining why men of a certain age have a harder time not being sent into apoplexy when presented with a woman who can kick their ass in Scrabble?

I mention Scrabble because of the frequency of “HEY! you’re a smart cookie/sweetie/dolly” moments. I play online when my brain needs a rest, and the number of times I’ve heard some version of that is astounding. It usually comes 4 or 5 goes in, often after a series of questions on my life … Where do you live? How long ago was that photo of you taken? Will you friend me on facebook so we can chat? … and just before I pass along the information that I don’t give out any part of my life story to anyone until they beat me by 100 points. (So far, I’ve given out not even one detail.)

So, what is the deal? Will 30-somethings eventually morph into the shock-and-ahhhh generation? Is it a loss of flexibility, the impact of society during formative years, an inevitable response to women dumbing-down in hopes of getting a date? (I have seen that happen, yes.)

Processing. Processing.

Feel free to discuss, and if anyone should choose to flatter me … it’s okay to mention I have great tits.

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Nora Ephron has a new book out, I Remember Nothing: And Other Reflections, and you can bet I’m ordering it.

In addition to the family connection … she and my brother have done a thing a couple of times … and starting long before that was made, the woman’s work has spoken to me … for me? … whatever … and very obviously, from what I’ve read so far, continues to do exactly that in this most recent work:

One good thing I’d like to say about divorce is that it sometimes makes it possible for you to be a much bet­ter wife to your next husband because you have a place for your anger; it’s not directed at the person you’re currently with.

Another good thing about divorce is that it makes clear something that marriage obscures, which is that you’re on your own. There’s no power struggle over which of you is going to get up in the middle of the night; you are.

But I can’t think of anything good about divorce as far as the children are concerned. You can’t kid yourself about that, although many people do. They say things like, “It’s better for children not to grow up with their parents in an unhappy marriage.” But unless the par­ents are beating each other up, or abusing the children, kids are better off if their parents are together. Chil­dren are much too young to shuttle between houses. They’re too young to handle the idea that the two peo­ple they love most in the world don’t love each other anymore, if they ever did. They’re too young to under­stand that all the wishful thinking in the world won’t bring their parents back together. And the newfangled rigmarole of joint custody doesn’t do anything to ease the cold reality: in order to see one parent, the divorced child must walk out on the other.

Yep.

Nora first spoke to me with Heartburn, hands down the BEST getback any betrayed wife has ever pulled, made even more appropriately brutal when it was made into a film. It lobbed key lime pie directly at the crotch of ex-husband Carl Bernstein, one half of the team that uncovered the Watergate scandal and wrote a book about it, and made it bloody hard for the man to get a date for a very long time.

It is said that revenge is a dish best served up cold, but Nora’s Heartburn warmed the cockles of damaged heart in very healing ways. I laughed … oh! how I laughed … as she got up the thumb-like nose of the bitch who’d aimed her sites on the married man and let the world know just what a prize he wasn’t, no matter the idolatry he fostered widely, and if I was the sort of woman who cooked, I’m sure I would have made good use of the recipes included in the story.

And speaking of stories … here’s a true one:

Once upon a time, I was in New York City on a night out with friends. We’d eaten well in a fabulous penthouse apartment, then danced to Brazilian music at a fabulous club … New York is all about ‘fabulous’ you see. Deciding eventually it was time for some great coffee and rich desserts, we headed for the West Side and the restaurant of another friend on Columbus Circle where we took up residence at one of the larger tables, cramming in chairs from left and right and setting up a right ruckus as we did what New Yorkers do at 3 am — discussing everything under the sun, arguing points and enjoying being one-upped by people whose knowledge is deeper.

Coffee doing what it does, a ladies trip to the ladys’ took up a good 20 minutes, what with all queueing and makeup touchups such ventures into basement toilets require when 9 girls all have to go at the same time and the geography of hip spots in Manhattan puts the bathroom down two floors.

Reentry created the desired effect, and most of the seats we’d vacated were relinquished to us previous tenants, but there were some new faces at the table.

One was a pleasant-looking gentleman seated to my left in the middle of an explanation to my friend sitting across from us on the ins and outs of dealing effectively with photographers from Architectural Digest invading a flat, his just having been featured, apparently.

Interesting enough a discussion, I suppose, but not one that grabbed my attention until some mention was made of the fact that he worked for the Washington Post.

At the time, I had a good friend working in the newsroom at the Post and the thought crossed my mind that perhaps this guy could fill me in a bit on how my buddy was fairing, so at a break in the conversation I asked, innocently enough: I’m sorry, but do you work for the Washington Post?

My friend on the other side of the table went apoplectic, perhaps embarrassed by what was apparently a blatant show of un-hipness causing my out-of-towner faux pas, and with barely an eye-blink passing … no time at all for the dude to respond to my question … she said:

Sandra … this is Carl Bernstein!

Light speed fast, the connections were made in my head: Woodward/Bernstein, Watergate, Washington Post, All the President’s Men … he’s shorter than I would have thought …

Yes. All that.

Now, it often happens that my mouth moves before my brain fully engages, and — blame it on the wine, the coffee, the hour, if you like — this was the case that night.

The very first thing I blurted out to this man who had just been impressing the shit out of the table with tales of fame and fortune and his apartment on the East Side was:

REALLY??? How cool. I LOVED your wife’s book!

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Not bad for an old broad ...

We turn not older with years, but newer every day. ~ Emily Dickinson

Some time back while perusing facebook, I came across a status update from a friend whose grandfather had just celebrated his 90-something birthday. In the comments it was asked if he’d spoken of any regrets he might carry from his many years of life. The answer went something like this:

The one thing I regret most is having felt old in my 50s and 60s. I wasted those decades because I had convinced myself that I was too old to enjoy them in many of the ways I well could have.

Of course!

To someone close to hitting 100, 50 is a kid only half way through, and with 50 more years on offer.

Although there is little to no chance I’ll ever get anywhere near 100, I’ve incorporated this man’s thinking and keep the words of Mark Twain handy:

Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.

And the fact is, I don’t mind. I don’t mind my age … I’m really crap with numbers, and like Erma Bombeck, “As a graduate of the Zsa Zsa Gabor School of Creative mathematics, I honestly do not know how old I am”, and in dog years, I’m dead …. and I don’t mind the ages of the people in my life. I don’t mind that my youngest child is 5 and that my oldest is 41 or that my last boyfriend is 39 or that some of my friends are in their 70s and others are in their 20s. I don’t mind that my mother is close to 80 … although I wish she was more comfortable.

I do mind that my son died at 38, my father at 69 and the boy I could have grown old with at 19.

As that prolific sage, Anon, once said:

Do not regret growing older. It is a privilege denied to many.

No. I don’t regret my years. In fact, there are few minutes that ring the regret bell for me.

I do, however, fear senectitude … not the numbers, but the toll … much more than I fear death, although both come in the natural order of things.

It is old age, rather than death, that is to be contrasted with life. Old age is life’s parody, whereas death transforms life into a destiny: in a way it preserves it by giving it the absolute dimension. Death does away with time.
~ Simone de Beauvoir

But I’m not there yet … neither destination … and although I’m faced daily with the evidence of my own personal senescence, I can still ignore much of it, so I do. I wear what I damned well please, parent little kids, dance with whomever I like, talk too much, sing loud, add tattoos to my collection, do tequila shots, take my top off at the beach … whateverthefuck I want to do, I do.

There is no pleasure worth forgoing just for an extra three years in the geriatric ward. ~ John Mortimer

No shit.

Given that I’m single again, I have been giving some thought to just how many years of cute I have left in me, so was encouraged by an article in the news today that showed Jane Fonda, 72, and Raquel Welsh, 70, looking and obviously feeling good.

Despite their combined age of 142, Jane Fonda and Raquel Welch were still turning heads as they appeared together at a charity event in Beverly Hills.

Okay … it sucks that men get away with this all the time without anyone making a big deal of their age (Did anyone ever think Cary Grant at 70 or Gregory Peck at 84 looked anything but hot?), but this is Planet Earth in 2010, so I live with it.

I know people decades younger who are too old for me … lackluster, boring twits with little imagination and no curiosity, wastes of space and youth … and that’s depressing as hell. Thoreau was too right when he said, “None are so old as those who have outlived enthusiasm.”

Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. ~ Henry Ford

I know that timing has been lucky for me. I’m a Boomer and people have been talkin’ ’bout my generation for decades. I’m aging along with the likes of Keith Richards, although he has years on me, as he wades back through his foggy past and reminds us all what a fuckin’ good time we’ve had … and how much fun we’re still having.

And because my generation has buying power, marketing is finally setting out to make us feel pretty … after all, we’re neither blind, nor stupid, so do know that what hugs a 20-year-old ass won’t ride quite the same on one that’s been ridden longer … and models in their 40s, 50s and 60s are making the point of beauty beyond presumed boundaries well.

‘It’s been really fulfilling to create shots that celebrate the wonder of getting older.
‘It’s important to challenge what we see in our media with a broader reflection of beauty.
‘Enjoy the magic of these women, their confidence, their attitudes and their allure.
‘These wonderful faces express the joy of getting older – not something we see enough of.’

Would I turn back the clock if I could? Nah, although I’m not opposed to a bit of the old nip and tuck to make it look like the calendar missed a few pages and may go that route someday. I see nothing wrong with someone opting for a trade-in on a new set of tits or less eye baggage. I, like Oscar Wilde, do have limits, however:

To get back my youth I would do anything in the world, except take exercise, get up early, or be respectable.

As Brigette Bardot so aptly put it: It’s sad to grow old, but nice to ripen.

Yes … I’m ripening, and I’m okay with that. What was once firm isn’t so much now, my hair has less brown in it daily and I don’t shake off a hangover with anywhere near the ease I did a few years ago, but I’m still here and I’m still cute and I’m smarter than I used to be. And I have a good bloody time.

Unless I’m lucky enough to have death sneak up and bite me on the ass, the day will come, however, when I’ll wake up one morning and know I’m old. I’m hoping it will be a false alarm:

There is always some specific moment when we realize our youth is gone; but years after, we know it was much later. ~Mignon McLaughlin

Call me delusional, but I’ve not yet experienced that “specific moment” and I plan on putting that off as long as I can. After all …

How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you were?
~Satchel Paige

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Me younger

After having some 20-something-Eastern-European-wannabe-porn-queen-facebook-crawler point out to me that I’m older than Ernesto, apparently thinking attempts to reveal her skanky bits on webcam will win his heart … good luck with that, Bitch … I cast my mind back to a time when I was really bloody cute — pretty much most of the years between 13 and sometime last week — remembering the effect youthful beauty can have. (Not that she’s a beauty, but she is young and has a decent enough body she exhibits indiscriminately, although with the chest of a 12-year-old boy and destined to be terminally hag-like before she’s 45 … but that’s her problem. And it’s amazing, and pitiful, how many of these sleazy bags are insistently chatty with their cyber heros).

I have no problem being who, what and how old I am; conversely, I’m rather proud of all that stuff. I am not young, and although the world is full of girls who still are, their days are numbered. I’m not saying there’s any great advantage in age, simply that it happens, as does life in the process.

As Yoda said: Luminous beings are we; not this crude matter.

Crude matter that begins to decay immediately, is subject to stresses and toxins and gravity, the effects of which have more to do with our genes than we yet understand. (“Crude” being also otherwise definable, however, we can be happy enough with our matter a lot of the time. I’m a big fan of crude between consenting adults.)

It’s true, however, that the Sandra I am now doesn’t look as much like the Sandra I once was as I might like.

Recently a story popped up that reminded me again of what it’s like to be young and beautiful … as opposed to not-so-young and beautiful.

The setting is Disney land, and the story is about a 27-year-old woman not one bit happy after Donald Duck grabbed her boob.

“Who are the strange people in the furry costumes at Disney World, and are they pervs?

I’m not clear on how boob grabbing happens with the sort of mitts a Donald impersonator must wear to pull off the look, and I’m pretty sure it takes a certain je ne sais quack to opt for walking around in a duck suit for a living. I’m also not getting why this chick is being so fowl about the whole thing, unless the fact that he never wears pants has her freaked.

But this isn’t about the Romanian tramp, the Disneyland babe, or even about ducks … it’s about me and Goofy, some guys in stripes … and a monster.

It was a while back, for sure, as my gorgeous nephew, Colin, was about 4 at the time, and I was in L.A. doing the fam viz thing. Keeping to the tradition of the day, we headed to the Happiest Place on Earth, home to Mickey and Minnie, for a day of getting nauseous in teacups and going to hell with Mr. Toad.

It was far from the realm of my personal Fantasy Land, but somewhere near the border where Frontier Land meets New Orleans Square I was accosted by Goofy. He took me in his somewhat floppy arms, shoved his gigantic plastic nose toward my chest and started mumbling something that sounded … well … goofy.

My nephew was not pleased, thinking that he should be the one with such a photo op, so we soon moved along toward the frozen banana stand. A few minutes later, Goofy joined us on the bench, moved, maybe, by the sight of me eating a chocolate-covered banana on a stick. We eventually gave him the shake at Autopia where Colin outraced me, hands down.

Eventually, it was time for our day of the Diz to end, so we headed down Main Street where my brother did nothing to defend my honor when I was grabbed by the strolling Barbershop Quartet, plopped on the knee of the tenor and had “Baby Face” belted out around me… in four part harmony … as a crowd gathered, my brother snickered and I blushed.

And you know what? I wasn’t angry. I didn’t contemplate a lawsuit. In fact, I considered the day excellent in every way.

Two days later, it was Universal Studios for us all, and there things got a bit scarier … for my nephew. Every time we got off a tram or exited from an attraction, Frankenstein was there … pawing at me … growling in his mask. For a four-year-old, this wasn’t funny, and the sight of his auntie being monster-mashed had him in enough of a panic to send us scurrying for lunch.

I’d not thought of those adventures in a while, but even though over the years there have been plenty of men who’ve pursued me … some successfully … there’s something special knowing I’ve been desired by sweaty guys in costume.

So …

My thoughts on getting groped by a Disney character? Be happy Daisy didn’t slap the shit out of you.

My advice to slimy bitches slithering around the web, thinking that youth wins out? I don’t have any. Instead, I have my memories …

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KeaneI’ve been spending a lot of time in contemplation of much these days, gazing at every inch of the elephant of sorrow and each cell that makes up the blue whale of regrets, trying to make this puny human learn where the process leads.

Contrary to popular opinion in some circles, this old shell has not hardened beyond the capacity to grow, and I’m finding out that I can, indeed, fit a lot more under the hood.

Although it will come, this is not to be a post about deep stirrings of my psychic soup, but rather a few shallow observations of what has risen to the surface as I attempt to suss out the makings of me. I will, eventually, I’m sure, ride the remorse leviathan and live to blog about lessons learned from the journey, but today I want to talk about eyes. Mine, to be specific, my relationship with both of them and a surprising new vision.

I have come to hear quite recently that my eyes are one of my better features. I write these words with trepidation and disbelief, having spent the better part of fifty years wishing I had a different set. Having formed much of my self-image at the time Keane art was plastered all over the place and Twiggy’s was the face to aspire to, my Hanks eyes seemed inadequate, and since that message was underscored often enough by my wide-eyed mother, I accepted what seemed fact that beauty was to evade me because I was so unowl-like.

It’s only been recently that I’ve stopped doing all I could to minimize my boobs, too, after years of being embarrassed by the copious chestage I developed early in life, and I do wonder what an early comfort with … perhaps even some appreciation for … my physical form might have produced in the way of positive outcomes.

Would I have made better choices in life if I’d felt more worthy? I’m fairly sure that would have been the case, since I am aware of the impact of unworthiness and where it led.

I understand well that standard beauty is a product aggressively marketed, and I also feel that no harm was meant as the underlying theme of “not quite pretty” was repeated throughout my formative years, but I am pissed off that it’s taken me this long to start feeling comfortable in my skin, especially since it’s heading south.

Lessons?

Well …

I love the fact that Sam and Cj know to their bones that they are beautiful and understand that it is my job to continue to arm them with the confidence they will need when the world hints that they are in some way falling short.

I’m also rather pleased that I can manage to feel pretty … when I take the time to fix myself up … finally.

I still have a long way to go on the “worthy” business, but realizing this does make it easier to relax the reflex judgment muscle that’s been honed over the years, and that’s an energy saver.

And although it’s neither easy, nor comfortable, I’m pleased I’m still climbing the learning curve, as resting on laurels would just give me a fat ass.

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Just received some photos Kimmy took of me back in February, and since she’s very good and makes me look not half bad, I’m posting some here.

If compelled to comment, please keep in mind the words of Thumper’s mother …

Photo Credit: Kim Jade Pockpas

Photo Credit: Kim Jade Pockpas


Photo credit: Kim Jade Pockpas

Photo credit: Kim Jade Pockpas


Photo credit: Kim Jade Pockpas

Photo credit: Kim Jade Pockpas

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