FEBRUARY 2017

FEBRUARY  2017
The same old bullshit, for 2 hundred years. First it was the Catholics - German, Italian and Irish - and then Asians, and then Jews. Whose next?

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Saturday, October 20, 2007

WHATS EATING YOU

I love Halloween. But as I hand out gobs of goodies to little monsters who ring my doorbell I know my door is already open to a truly terrifying creature, a monster that would give the new “The Bionic Woman” with her magnifying eyeball a nervous breakdown, because she could see the eight legged little ladies affectionately called Dermatophagoisdes pteronyssinus, the mighty dust mite (actually some 15 species). Compared to these arthropods, super villains are a mere annoyance, because a couple of hundred thousand of these miniature aliens are scurrying across your flesh right now, like massive minuscule buffalo herds. Feel the sudden urge to scratch? Don’t bother; scratching just creates tiny Alps of dead skin for these buggies to feast upon. The truth is we don’t merely live on this planet; this planet also lives on us. Louis Pasture had it right; even fleas have fleas. And so do we, and so do our fleas and so do the fleas on Jamie Sommers, even if she is now from England.
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Despite their small size (three of them could fit in the period at the end of a sentence and about 42,000 of them live in every once of dust) these driven little arthropods have a massive impact because the Dust Mite does not eat dust – ah, would that dusting had such a dedicated helpmate. Rather they feast on the 50 million flakes (about 1 ½ grams) of skin we shed each and every day. About 80 % of the “dust” you can see floating in a beam of sunlight is your own dead skin, and fodder for these microscopic herbivores. And our mighty mite companions also enjoy munching on hair, pollen grains, fungal spores and bacteria, as well as cigarette ash and tobacco, clothing fibers, fingernail clippings and filings, food crumbs, glue, insect parts, paint chips, salt and sugar crystals and even graphite; in short everything and anything we are, use or touch, they eat and regurgitate and re-eat and re-regurgitate, etc., etc. (Dust mites have no digestive tracts). When you sleep (we spend about 1/3 of our lives in bed) your body and bedding is transformed into an Acaroliocal Park (acarology being the study of dust mites) which makes Michael Crichton’s "Jurassic Park" look like it had been stepped on by an Apatasaurous. As much as half the weight in your ten year old mattress could be the 10 million mites who live there and depend on you for their dinner each time you lay you down and go to sleep.
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Mites don’t like sunlight and they love high humidity, meaning when you climb into bed tonight they will be there to welcome you, waiting for you to exhale. They also love rugs and carpets, dusty bookshelves and dusty books and nooks and crannies on fabric covered furniture. And they are completely harmless – except that their poop and their desiccated corpses are a source of human allergies and likely a cause of asthma. During a mite’s lifetime of 3 to 4 weeks she can produce 200 times her own weight in mighty pop and leave 300 cream colored mighty mite eggs, all capable of taking your breath away. A dehumidifier helps with the allergies (dust mite populations drop at anything below 50% humidity) and regular vacuuming can help keep their populations under control. But there are studies showing that carpet or mattress shampooing or even using a Hepafilter on your vacuum cleaner merely increases the resident population because it moistens it and scatters it. These tiny bugs have evolved so closely with us that there are no conditions or chemicals that will kill them without doing the same thing to us. So basically, the best we can hope for in our war with dust mites is a draw, because the world of the dust mite is a familiar yet strange place where air behaves more like water and a each human hair supports an isolated ethos.
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And as every Ying has its Yang, and every Jamie Sommers has her Sarah Corvus, the herbivore dust mite has engendered the family Cheyletidae, the micro-predatory dust mite, which can be 6 – 8% of the total mighty mite population. These minuscule lions and tigers and bears stalk their prey every night, even migrating with them onto and off your body, unseen and largely unfelt, pouncing with vicious crushing microscopic jaws. They are no less heartless for their lack of a need for a heart. Some digest their food inside its own shell (something to think about the next time you eat crab) by injecting masticating juices, and some of these tiny predators even consume the shell, reducing their meals to a tiny pile of mush before consuming it.
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There is a hint that the mighty mites are the survivors of a once more varied population of “guest workers”, as was attested to by the murder of Archbishop Thomas Becket, just before vespers on December 29, 1170. What was amazing was what happened to the Archbishop’s corpse, as described in Hans Zinsser’s 1935 epic book, “Rats, Lice and History”, beginning with Zinsser’s description of the dead Archbishop’s robes of office. When he was murdered Becket was wearing, “…a large brown mantle; under it, a white surplice; below that, a lamb’s wool coat; then another woolen coat; and a third woolen coat below this; under this, there was the black, …robe of the Benedictine Order; under this, a shirt; and next to the body, a curious hair-cloth, covered with linen.” As Becket’s corpse grew cold the successive layers of robes also cooled, and all the little creatures that had been living within the folds and pleats started looking for a new home. Wave after wave of various fleas, ticks, spiders, pincher bugs, and other creatures flowed out from the corpse, “…like water in a simmering cauldron” producing in the hushed mourners gathered in the dim cathedral, “…alternate weeping and laughter…’”. Those Saxons; they sure knew humor when they saw it, skittering across the blood stained marble floor.
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Not only did the dead Becket popularize the hair shirt, but his corpse offered an abject lesson in the realty of life before the invention of the water heater. Without easy access to warm water people tended not to bathe. And that made them much more intimate with their pests and parasites than we of the hygienic era. But despite our best efforts we still live with the mighty Dust Mite. In fact, if you listen very carefully, you can probably hear them marching across your skin right now, looking for a snack.

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Sleep tight, and don't let the dust mites bite. And Trick or Treat, bon appetit.
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Thursday, October 18, 2007

AN IDIOT FOR A CLIENT

I tell you that hiring an attorney to sue somebody is like hiring your own flesh eating bacteria, and now another lawsuit arrives to prove my point. Greg Calvino is an idiot as validated by the $100,000 check he wrote to prove his sincerity to Miss Elisa Kwon. They were in a two year relationship at the time (2005), and she says Calvino said she could cash the check if he ever tried to shove another strip club prostitute up his nose. And Miss Kwan says she believed him; silly girl. Evidently Ms. Kwan was unfamiliar with basic boiler room technique (a variation on the Nigerian lottery scam) in which the sucker is offered something later of alleged value in exchange for their cash right now. Of course the thing of value turns out to be worthless, but by the time the mark figures that out their cash is gone, as is the con artist. Scams like this are invented not by devious criminal geniuses but by opportunists who, in their struggle against their own demons rob their victims almost as an unintended consequence. In this specific case, the thing Calvino wanted was Miss Kwan’s honor and the worthless thing of alleged value he promised was the $100,000 check. OR maybe she was familiar with the scam, since the idiot actually signed the check and gave it to her to hold. And it was good!
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Mr. Calvino is a stock broker and the boy clearly has no respect for money or for Miss Kwan, either, because in July this year Calvino filed a claim demanding his money back, alleging that Miss Kwan was actually blackmailing him by threatening to go to his bosses with allegations of his boozing and whoring and drug use unless he wrote her the check. (Like his bosses didn’t know already know he was an idiot.) But, at the end of September, Miss Kwan filed her response, replete with copies of an instant message exchange in which Calvino apologized to her for boozing it up at “Flashdancers”, and Kwan reminds him that he also failed a “Rite-Aid” urine drug test for cocaine. Calvino then admits, “If you want to keep the money it’s yours to start anew”, because, “I didn’t hold up my part of the bargain.”
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We’ll just pass over the problematic idea of dating an idiot whose urine you feel the need to test (after all she did get the idiot to write her the check) and proceed directly to the question of what the hell was this idiot thinking? First he wrote her the check and then after she cashed it, like Oscar Wilde before him, Greg Calvino sued, an act of stupidity presumably justified as “defending his honor”. He’s a stock broker. He has no honor. And he’s already in the hole for the hundred grand (and the cash for the cocaine, the booze and the prostitutes) and now he’s also paying a lawyer! What an idiot!
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Did you hear about the $67 million pair of trousers? The media and the blogs portrayed the dry cleaners, the Chungs, as hard working immigrants almost driven from their new country by a legal lunatic, Judge Roy Pearson, who sued because the Chungs lost his $20 trousers. But until he sued the Chungs couldn’t find his pants. Then they did, answering the question, if anybody had asked it, what do you have to do to get a little service in this life? But more to the point, what kind of an idiot expects to be treated fairly by a Dry Clearners? People do not open dry cleaning business because they like the smell of dry cleaning fluid. The whole business is a fraud, as proven by the very phrase “dry cleaning fluid”. The only way a dry cleaner makes money is in volume, and customer service, like keeping track of individual items of clothing, wastes their time. And the only way owning clothing that requires ‘dry cleaning’ could make your life worse is if you get lawyers involved.
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In the end, Mr. Pearson’s lack of legal perspective on the case cost him his appointed position as an Administrative law judge, which had paid him over $100,000 a year. And the Chungs lost their store – but they still own two others. Maybe some of those who sent them money would like to sue them for a refund. Face it; the American Judicial system provides all the justice we are willing to pay for, and we are a nation of cheap bastards.
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Like when hedge fund manager Stuart Sugarman was pedaling his little heart out in ‘Spin Class’ at the Equinox Gym in Upper East Side of Manhattan, grunting like Tim Allen in a testicle clamp and shouting things like “You go girl!” This pissed off stock broker Chistopher Carter who was struggling to burn off carbs a bike or two away (In fact, some who witnessed the pedal-by-assault say Sugarman was working so enthusiastically he kept bumping into Carter’s cycle). After politely asking Sugarman to “shut the fuck up” a couple of times and being told, “This is spin class; Grow up”, Carter dismounted his bike and shoved Sugarman and his bike into the wall, thus proving the admonition to “grow up” was not taken by either of these idiots. Carter then returned to his pedaling…and so did Sugarman - for another 45 minutes, but presumably with his big fat mouth shut this time. And it all happened because Sugarman was too cheap to pay for a private class.
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But a few minutes after class Sugarman says he started to feel neck pain and called for an ambulance (on his own cell phone). Should I think it odd the gym, filled with trainers, didn’t offer to help or call or him? In any case, during his two week stay at Lenox Hill Hospital (during which he allegedly required a 3 hour operation on his spine) Sugarman was informed (by phone) that his gym membership had been cancelled. Insult to injury, I guess. Sugarman’s lawyer (ah, you knew he had one!) came out swinging, calling the assault a case of “spin rage”, and Carter’s lawyer (and you knew he had one, too) called the publicity generated an attempt to build a civil suit. The New York Post headlined the story, “Gym Victim Is Wheely Angry”, along with a picture of Sugarman in wheel chair and neck brace as if made up for a remake of “The Fortune Cookie”. But the Manhattan D.A. would only charge Carter with a misdemeanor assault, and I predict that at least one of these idiots is going to end up suing his lawyer.
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As probably will another lower Manhattan denizen, the new Mrs. Elana Glatt, who has decided to sue the florist for her wedding, because the flowers provided “…had a significant impact on the look of the room…” which was “…entirely inconsistent with the vision the plaintiffs had bargained for…”. So she’s suing them for $400,000. We shall just pretend that anybody selfish enough to spend that kind of money on a one time event like a wedding while George Bush can cancel health care for millions of children is the very definition of a bitch. And I’m willing to bet you that the lawsuit over the flowers lasts longer than the marriage, because if all this twit wants to remember from her wedding is that the centerpieces did not meet her personal standards for hue then God help her husband if he should ever get caught stuffing a prostitute up his nose at strip club, because she’ll kill him in the divorce
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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

BIGFOOT AND DENNIS KUCHINICH

I don’t know why this time of year everyone is so afraid of ghosts, spooks and ghouls. Its common knowledge that ghosts can’t manipulate physical objects- I mean, they never open doors, they just walk through walls - so they can only harm you psychologically, and if you don’t have a psychology you’re perfectly safe: so convert to Scientology. And nobody should be afraid of “spooks”. Once you speak a spook’s name they are “spooken for” and rendered harmless, which is what happened to Valerie Plame. Now Robert Novak, he’s a ghoul and you can’t kill them. Every time you think they’re dead they come back to life again on Faux News. This is a perfect example of how we are terrified of all the wrong things in this life. As an example, Jessica Collins, a lovely 19 year old college art student from Cardiff, Wales, was probably frightened by the thought of ghosts and ghouls and Tony Blair’s foreign policy. But what ended up almost killing Jess was the “bling” in her belly button.
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Jess had her "button" pierced when she was 15. In Wales and other third world countries such as Ethiopia and Beverly Hills young girls see body piercing and tattoos as a symbol of maturity and independence – just not independence from their dermatologists. A few weeks ago Jess was on vacation with her boyfriend Devdutt Shaftri (also obviously from Cardiff) and about 1am they were on the Autobahn in Munich, Germany when the car in front of theirs slammed on its brakes. Devdutt slammed on his brakes and then they were slammed into by the car behind them. Devdutt suffered a broken leg, and Jessica had a gash on her head. But she also felt drowsy and her stomach started to swell. The screaming London tabloid headline said it all; “My Stud Almost Killed Me!”
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Now, normally, in Wales, such a complication as a swelling tummy is solved by wedding bells. But luckily an off duty paramedic happened on the scene, realized what had really happened to Jess and called for a helicopter ambulance. The sudden stop and her seat belt had forced Jess’s button stud into her abdomen (“like a bullet”), perforating her intestines and depositing it just millimeters from her spine. It took a three hour operation and the removal of some bowel just to reach the offending stud (My sister dated a guy like that in high school). Her button stud (and the bleeding into her brain) almost killed Jessica, but now she is on a mission to warn every young woman yearning to be pierced to just say no. You never know when an errant earring might come loose and slice your spine in half. And if you want to hear a real horror story I could tell you about the woman who was almost chocked to death by hear own labia ring.
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This is also why it’s never a good idea to carry pens or pencils in your pockets traveling by cars or airplane. Ask a coroner.
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Why on Halloween do we never see people dressed up in really scary costumes from real life horror stories, like Jessica with her “Belly Button Stud from Hell”, or the unnamed 23 year old idiot found naked and half eaten in the bear cage at the Belgrade Zoo? How come nobody goes door to door dressed up like this putz? The cage, which contained two full grown male bears, was clearly marked, and was littered with rocks, bricks, beer cans and cell phones, indicating drunken attempts at communication with the bears by humans, who were possible attracted by the annual beer festival held in the Zoo’s restaurant As zoo director Vuk Boiovic explained, “There’s a good chance he (the idiot) was either drunk or drugged. Only an idiot would jump into a bear cage.” Or maybe you could trick or treat as an idiot Zoo Director who allows their Zoo’s Restaurant to hold a beer festival. Mixing drunken humans and wild animals always leads to unpleasantness.
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Winner of the best costume this Halloween will NOT go to the unidentified 18 year old male caught by Mounties in Whiteshell Provincial Park last August impersonating Bigfoot. It was a reminder of just how easy it is to convince people that they have seen something that isn’t actually there, like UFO’s, a rational for the Bush War and Cryptids in general. The kid’s costume turns out to have been a gorilla mask and…that’s all, just the mask. He would get drunk and then run around the campground at night, scaring the hell out of the drunken campers. I think he was probably a peeping-tom, who wore the mask as an excuse in case he got caught. Hell, even the guy who admitted posing for the Patterson-Gimlin “Bigfoot” film wore the whole costume. And if you watch the National Geographic program, “Is It Real: Bigfoot”, you will see that the gait all those crypto-experts waxed poetic about (“Humans simply don’t walk this way!”) is just the way this guy naturally walks!


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It’s something to keep in mind the next time you are watching Chis Mathews and his pundits on CNBC or Bill O’Reilly all by himself on Faux. People who assure you they know what they are talking about are a lot scarier than idiots in monkey suits. At least you can keep an eye on the idiot in the monkey suit.
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Oh, hell, I think I just talked myself into voting for Dennis Kucinich!

BOO!
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Sunday, October 14, 2007

RASHOMON IN SOMERSET

I can think of no more boring spot to retire to than Bellingen, New South Wales, population of 2,700. Here, over 1,000 miles from the excitement of Sydney, the Laundromat is the town’s default cultural center. Bellingen was founded in the 1830’s to harvest the surrounding red cedar forests, but they were quickly ravaged, leaving behind farms and rolling grass lands and a characterless, ugly, quiet little community on the banks of the Bellinger River. The town is dotted with storefront arts shops and dreams of becoming an Australian tourist Mecca. But perhaps the greatest attraction of Bellingen is that it has no TV station and only one tiny newspaper, the Courier Sun, down on Hyde Street. And that lack of media outlets makes this little speed bump off the coastal road the perfect place to retreat to if you want to escape your infamous past in England.
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The atmosphere of Bellingen offers faint echoes to the green rolling farms of Somerset, in the west of England, where, at the base of the Great Tor, legend says Joseph of Arimathea jammed his staff into the ground at the foot of the Tor and from it sprang the Chalice Well, whose waters were tinged with the very blood of Christ. The iron tainted water still flows in the village of Glastonbury, which also had dreams of inventing a tourist industry. In 1191, in the burned ruins of their monastery, the now destitute monks fortuitously discovered a heavy stone inscribed in Latin, “Here lies, Arthur, King”, and 800 years later the town still draws tourists to the graves of the mythical Arthur and his faithless wife, Genevieve. Marital infidelity, it seems, is a recurrent theme in history, and so is betrayal and revenge.
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On the evening of Friday, July 27, 2001, Andrew Chubb, a well respected 58 year old circuit judge, left his apartment in Portsmouth, where he stayed during the week, and returned to the 19th century Somerset farmhouse he shared with his 60 year old wife, Jennifer, and informed her that he wanted to end their 34 year marriage so that he could wed his mistress. It was not the smartest thing he ever did, but it was about the last thing. Ninety minutes later Andrew was dead. And despite suspicious firemen, despite the neighbors’ observations of Jennifer’s “odd” behavior, and despite the police eventually arresting Jennifer for the murder of her husband and perjury, the Lord Chief Justice declared there was “not a shred of evidence to suggest murder”, and no charges were ever filed against her.
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All of the neighbors agreed that Jennifer “wore the trousers” in the Chubb household. Jennifer was a nurse and volunteered with the local Red Cross. Andrew had been a judge for almost 30 years, and was described as a positive and pragmatic fellow. The couple had three children, their daughter Harriet, and sons Charles and Tom. To all outward appearances they were a typical contented upper middle class English couple. Charles was the eldest child. Harriet, the youngest, was just beginning her career, while Tom, the middle child, struggled with learning disabilities. Jennifer had at least one recent extramarital affair and Andrew had been seriously perusing his own mistress for the last two years.
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According to Jennifer, four weeks earlier Andrew had informed her of his affair, telling his wife that the other woman was “basically blackmailing” him. He said, according to Jennifer, “I’ve given her money but she’s threatening to go to the press.” And that very morning he had called to tell her, according to Jennifer, that he felt so trapped he was considering “jumping off a building”. And that was why, according to Jennifer, she was surprised but not shocked by Andrew’s announcement on the evening if July 27.
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But what did surprise Jennifer, according to Jennifer, was that after making his announcement Andrew had gone out to the garden shed (Photo; The garden - but not the shed). She says she followed him and found him in his work clothes, sitting on a riding mower. According to Jennifer she told him, “You just can’t cut the grass. We have to talk about this.” They argued for a few moments in the driveway, she says. She wanted to work things out, she says, but Andrew wanted to sell the house and live with his lover. She says she told him, “I thought you were a good and honorable man, but that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore.” She says she then went back into the house, scrambled some eggs, poured herself a glass of wine, turned on the television and sat down to eat. About twenty minutes later, at about 8:45pm, she heard “a terrific explosion”.
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The shed was immediately fully engulfed in flames 20 feet high. Jennifer dialed “999”. According to recordings she told the operator, “Oh my God, oh my God, he’s done it quite deliberately.” Peter Evans, who lived across the road, arrived first. Jennifer told him that her husband was in the shed, that he had asked her for a divorce and that he had earlier considered throwing himself out an attic window but didn’t think it was high enough to kill him. Mr. Evans said, “She did say quite a few things that seemed a bit personal for someone who I did not know at all.” But about one thing she left no doubt. "I remember her being certain her husband had committed suicide." Then, while Evans tried to find a way into the shed, Jennifer began to take in the laundry hanging on the backyard clothesline. Beth Luck, another neighbor, escorted Jennifer to her home where they waited for the fire department. While there Jennifer told her of Andrew’s announcement that he wanted a divorce, about his affair, and about his wanting to commit suicide. “She said he had asked for a divorce but said he didn’t love the other woman.”
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The Taunton Fire units arrived on scene at 9:06pm and by 10:08 pm, having extinguished the fire, they found Andrew’s chard body lying with his legs under the riding mower. They reported back to base, “Confirm one fatality; incident being treated as a crime scene and being passed over to the police.” By this time Jennifer, described as "emotional, distressed and tearful" had told police constable Roger Saunders that her marriage was “amicable”. But she also told him about the fight in the driveway and her husband’s desire for a divorce. What she did not mention were Andrew’s alleged suicidal thoughts.
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In the morning Jennifer insisted on seeing Andrew’s body. Looking down on his corpse she announced, “Oh, I see what’s happened now. He’s poured petrol everywhere, laid down in the hay and set fire to himself”. Firemen then loaded the corpse into a plastic bag and noted there were no obvious signs of injury to the body. They also noted a residue of gasoline around the body and a scorched open gas can near the shed’s door. But the firemen had no authority to question Jennifer, and somehow their concerns never reached inspired the police. The next day Jennifer had the remains of the shed bulldozed and had it and its contents carted away (with police permission). She had her husband’s body cremated without an autopsy (again, with police permission).
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Four months later the coroner’s inquest into the death of what was called by the London Press “The Fireball Judge” ruled that Andrew's death was accidental. this allowed Jennifer to collect over $200,000 in life insurance, and a $400,000 payoff of Andrew’s pension, despite having said repeatedly that she thought her husband had committed suicide. She then sold the Somerset estate for a couple of million dollars and moved to the tiny village in Bellingen, New South Wales, Australia, and bought a small farmhouse there to be close to her eldest son, Charles. And there the story might have faded away except that Andrew Chubb’s mistress proved to be as formable a woman as his wife.
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Her name was Kelly Sparrow, a 38 year old blond legal executive secretary, and she was accused of blackmailing Andrew. Despite her tearful denials she signed a statement to that effect, and then spent the next six years battling the entire British legal system before finally, in 2007, winning a second inquest into what she saw as the murder of the man she loved. The new inquest convened in Glastonbury in October of 2007, and Kelly was finally allowed to testify under oath and in public as to how much she had loved Andew Chubb. The Andrew that Kelly knew lived in a loveless marriage with a wife who showed no interest in his work. He told Kelly that “Since the birth of Harriet, he had not so much as a kiss or a cuddle.” In fact the only thing stopping Andrew from divorcing Jennifer, according to what Andrew told Kelly, was his concern over what would happen to Tom.”
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The testimony continued for a week, with the court hearing from pathologists (who were hindered by not having a body to exhume), and arson investigators (who were hampered by not having a crime scene to examine) all expressing doubts about the original inquest. The court heard how Andrew had once refused to attend the funeral of a close friend because he had committed suicide. And it heard a train if witnesses who marked how Jennifer had been certain Andrew had committed suicide. But they did not hear from Jennifer. She decided not to return to England since, she said through her lawyer, she could not conceive of anything helpful she could add to the investigation.
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In the end Coroner Sheriff Payne admitted there were some things about the Fireball Judge that bothered him. The post mortem examination of Andrew’s body was “insufficient” and “confusing”. The police in 2001 had excavated the mower from the landfill where it had been buried but because of its condition even a re-examination failed to rule it in or out as an accidential source of ignition. And as for murder, Mr. Payne noted the lack of injuries observed on the body and said that for Jennifer to “…kill him in the shed and immobilize him seems almost impossible...I therefore discount any suggestion that she killed…(Andrew).” Mr. Payne also ruled that the evidence of a suicide did not rise to the level of proof, so it too was discounted.
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But, Payne noted, all that must mean that Andrew had been alive when the fire started. So why hadn’t Andrew simply smashed his way out of the old flimsy shed when confronted by the fire? Mr. Payne ruled, “It has not been possible to determine whether (Andrew) was disabled…by the products of combustion or any other means.” So the second inquest concluded that the cause of Judge Andrew Chubb’s death was “unascertained”.
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Poor Miss Sparrow admitted afterward, “I will probably never know for sure what happened on the night Andrew died.” And in far off Bellingen , according to one of her new neighbors, Jennifer Chubb has been on the phone to “ her boyfriend back in England and says he might come out.” The neighbor also says that her children wanted Jennifer to buy a new home to cut down on the maintenance, but that Jennifer preferred the 1920’s cottage she bought for $500,000 Australian, because it had character.
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