Trying to Get Ready for Nutrisystem

The ads for men say, “Eat the food, lose the weight.” Simple, right?

I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed right now. My husband agreed to get on the “Diabetic Uniquely Yours for Men, Custom Menu.” As far as HE’S concerned now, it’s ‘Eat the food, lose the weight.” I ordered “Uniquely Yours for Women – Custom Menu” for me.

In order to get him to try this, I had to do a LOT of prep work. We’ve been on Nutrisystem before, several years ago. We quit because my husband was irate that they discontinued all the meals he liked, one at a time. The number of choices wasn’t as good back then, and they didn’t offer frozen stuff as they do now. He’s really gun-shy after our first experience, so I’m trying to run interference as much as possible.

I finally got things so he could sit down in his chair beside me at the computer and he could choose what looked good while I made notes. At one point when we started with his order I thought it was ‘game over,’ because his lunch choices weren’t coming up when we were on the lunch ordering page. I contacted the chat expert, and we finally figured out that do to some error on my part, we had somehow gotten on the dinner page. THAT was why the things he wanted didn’t show. The chat guy, Jeff, helped us figure things out.

I then fought through trying to order MY plan. At first they wouldn’t let me use my email address with another password. I got on chat again, explained my husband didn’t want to receive any emails from them, so I had used my email to order his plan. She figured out a way around the problem, guided me through the maze again, and I was really grateful.


Since we placed our orders, I’ve been reading everything on the website, trying to figure out what to expect. You can find answers, but there is a LOT to go through to get them. I’ve finally started a notebook, printed things and put them in the notebook for quicker reference.

I found out through the reading that they ship the non-frozen stuff separately from the frozen stuff. This makes sense because the frozen stuff comes in a truck rigged to carry frozen things. I got the emails that both of our non-frozen orders were shipping today. I can’t track them yet, so I don’t know when to expect them. They’ll send more emails when the frozen stuff ships.

I have cleaned out freezers to get ready to store our food when it arrives. The non-frozen food won’t be as hard to store. I’ve figured out a system for marking my husband’s food so we don’t get things mixed up. He’s sneering at me, but doesn’t have a better suggestion, so I’ll do what I planned and see if it works.

I’m still looking for the cut-off date for changing the items on our next order is. I’m sure that we’ll find things we really don’t care for (at least we did the first time.) I want to be sure I can change our order in time that we don’t get 6 more of something we hate the next month.

I have put up ‘what we eat the first week’ on the fridge in the kitchen. I’m sure my husband will balk at eating 6 times a day, but I will encourage it, just the same. Then, if he doesn’t, at least I tried.

So far, I’m ending up brain-dead by dinner time, after working on this a lot of the day for several days now, trying to figure out what to do when we start. I’ve decided our “4 servings of veggies each day” will be salad with lunch and dinner.  Otherwise, if needed, I’ll have cherry tomatoes and celery ready to put on our plates.

I have some of our flex meals figured out. We have ice cream after bowling once a week with friends. That’s our on-our-own snack for the week. Our on-our-own lunch will be when we meet our friends for Friday’s “Lunch Bunch.” (I’ll switch to making a salad at the salad bar.) Not sure what we’ll do for our on-our-own dinner, but I have time yet. On-our-own breakfast won’t be a problem. I like that they are encouraging us to pay attention to what we’re eating from the beginning of the program, both what is prepared for us and what we choose for our flex meals.

Just “Eat the food, lose the weight.” Yeah.

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Breaking Bad Habits – Getting the Lard Off


We have made a major decision on our efforts to get the lard off.

I’ve been cooking low-carb for quite a while now. We’re healthier than we were, but one or both of us keeps cheating and it’s been going on too long. My appetite is enough to kill a horse, and my husband describes me lovingly as, “Mean as a snake” when I’m hungry. He is Type 2 Diabetic (although he doesn’t admit it, thinking you’re only diabetic if you need to inject insulin). He eats what I fix him and THEN also eats no-sugar-added stuff, plus regular stuff he shouldn’t, and then gets frustrated when his A1C numbers are still too high. We had a frank discussion and decided that we have been kidding ourselves and needed help.

We were on NutriSystem before, several years ago. We did well, but we quit because they discontinued all the things my husband liked, one by one, and there weren’t that many choices.  When we quit, we put the weight right back on. :0(

Since then, they have developed a program for Type II diabetics!  There are 150 choices on his plan, plus a LOT of frozen choices, allowing the food to be a lot more appetizing. (At least they sound and look that way in the pictures.)  We ordered the first month’s “Uniquely Yours Diabetic Plan for Men – Custom Menu.”

I got the regular plan for fat ladies – “Uniquely Yours for Women – Custom Menu.” 

We used their chat service for ordering both, since we had a lot of questions and had some problems navigating the site. Both people were really helpful. Our first month’s food is on its way.

I’m trying to get organized for the new program. I cleaned out our freezers as much as possible, since both of us ordered a lot of frozen foods. It’s supposed to come on a truck made to carry frozen stuff. If we’re not here to receive it when they come, they pack it in dry ice that will keep it good for 6 to 8 hours. I think our food is supposed to come within 4 to 10 business days. I’m going to see if I can narrow it down so we can make plans.  I don’t know if the non-frozen stuff comes separately from the frozen or not.

There are several guides on the website. There was a mention of supplementing their food with salad and veggies. I’m trying to look at these, print them, and make notes on what we ordered. We decided to use the auto-delivery system, saving money, and we’re supposed to be able to change our next month’s order if we want to. I’ll have to find out when the cut off date is for that.

The low carb eating plan is a good one, but not when you stray off the plan for excuses, such as National Pickle Week, Friend’s Day, or whatever, constantly, it understandably doesn’t work well.

The new Nutrisystem plan is attempting to guide you on eating sensibly when you’re not eating the prepared foods, so you’re on your own once a week for a breakfast, a lunch, a dinner, and a snack. (We can build this into our lives fairly easily, using our “Lunch Bunch” on Fridays as our lunch out, and our bowling evening as our snack out, and then winging the on-your-own dinner and breakfast each week.

We’re hoping that there are enough choices that even if they discontinue things we like, we can substitute others. Time will tell.

I’m going to use their “NUMI” tracking software, too. I’m planning to really pay attention to the ingredients on what we’re eating, reading labels to get an idea of what we’re eating, how many calories, etc., so I can plan to carry on when we don’t need to be on the plan anymore.

We’re looking forward to actually getting the lard off, instead of just kidding ourselves.

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“How Much is That Doggie….” – Part 2

Doggie in the window

This is what we see each morning when we’ve fed animals and are getting ready to eat our breakfast.

This is the gate that is between the kitchen/dining area and the living room. Amber eats on the other side of this gate and then she waits for us to let her in when Molly is finished eating her breakfast, food has been prepared and brought to the table, and one of us is sitting down. Amber could probably just bull her way through the doorway – bringing the whole gate with her if she really wanted to, but she sticks her head through the door intended for smaller dogs and/or cats and waits with rapt attention.  She really enjoys sitting with us while we eat – hoping to get a bite or lick a bowl when we’re finished. She actually obeys our “DOWN!” command while she waits hopefully.

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“Waterfall” – Paul Militaru Photography

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Nose Art

Each week (schedules allowing) we take our good friends bowling in Fort Smith.

Since Amber loves to go in the “CAR!” we now prepare for bowling night by vacuuming the back seats and the floor of our vehicle, plus wash the back side windows and back window due to Amber’s exuberant enjoyment of what wonderful things are outside. We have “nose art” all over the windows except for the one evening we go bowling. (We also clean off the cat paw prints all over the windshield.)

We exhibit her art on our front storm door, too. Since I’m a lousy housekeeper, I only ‘notice’ it when it gets pretty bad or when we’re expecting company and then do something about it.

Our friends and visitors like animals, but carrying the dog hair around on their clothes or having to look through nose art while trying to see out the windows of the truck are asking a bit too much…

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Beautiful Boxes – Take 2


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THING ONE and THING TWO at the Vet’s Office Today

Amber – 11 months old

Yesterday I received emails from our veterinarian’s office saying the Amber and Smoke needed to tell their owners that they needed their annual shots. I called the office and found out that if they didn’t need an exam, we could come any time. I said we would try to come first thing, which meant about 8:30.


Smoke – about 2-1/2 years old.

My husband found Smoke this morning and stuffed her into the cat carrier. Amber loves to go anywhere in the car, so we just said “CAR” and she followed us out, jumping into the car with a look of joy on her face.

Smoke meowed plaintively a couple of times on the way to the vet, but wasn’t completely freaked out, as our other cat, Abby, was, recently.

On the way to the vet’s, we saw a CALF crossing the road! Amber immediately wanted to go SEE the calf, getting the whole upper part of her body out of the window. I yelled at my husband, having to CONVINCE him that if the dog DID get out, all he could say was, “I really didn’t think she would/could do that.” AND we would have to deal with the consequences. He finally raised the windows a bit so that Amber was free to stick her head out, but nothing more.

When we got to the vet, my husband thought we should change Amber’s collar from the regular shock collar we use during the day to the no-pull collar we keep with the leash in the car. Since it’s a hassle, and I thought the shock collar would be good enough, we didn’t change and went into the vet’s office.

There were two other dogs there. Amber, of course, wanted to see and sniff each one. My husband tried to keep her under control, but she was strong enough the leash wasn’t holding well. It kept slipping because she was so strong even though he was using the zapper. I was wrong and admitted it when we got back into the car after we got the shots. We will just take the time necessary to change collars the next time.  (We weighed Amber, and she is now 94.2 lbs.)

We are still very much on a learning curve as far as taking animals to the vet. Smoke was very calm, meowing only a few times on the way home and calmed down when I stuck my fingers through the front caged door of the carrier and talked to her. Amber was fine again when she got back into the car.



Only let the car windows down half way in the back when Amber is with us.


Don’t let Amber out of the car until we have changed from the shock collar to the no-pull collar.

PLUS – it would be a good idea to continue to walking-on-the-leash lessons at home because when we are out in public, Amber is a BIG dog with LITTLE brain…

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Bookmarks Progress!

This old lady ain’t dead yet! I’m learning a LOT about how to create and manage bookmarks on the new PC using Microsoft 10 and Chrome.

I now have ONE list of bookmarks, all on Chrome. (I deleted Firefox as a browser)

I now can –

  • create a bookmark and put it in a folder
  • create a new folder
  • rename a bookmark
  • delete a bookmark

I’m in the process of looking at each one, deciding if I still want it, figuring out what folder to put it in if I want it (or create a new one). I’m actually making progress now and feeling much less frustrated.

Thanks to those of you who offered encouragement, commiseration, or wished good luck. It has really helped!


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Can you hear me gnashing my teeth and muttering bad words?

I’m TRYING to move my computer FireFox bookmarks from the MAC to my new PC. I’m also trying to export my FireFox bookmarks on my new PC to Chrome, because my husband hates FireFox for some unknown reason. Since I need for him to help me on the computer, I’ll set things up the way he thinks is best and THEN I might bite him in the leg. I mainly want to be able to find things and use them, so I don’t really care how things are organized. I’m so awkward on the new computer anyway, it won’t make any appreciable difference in my learning curve.

I have NO patience with hardware or software. I only know enough to USE things once they’re working properly. Right now I have to tell you I’m thinking about throwing ALL of it out the window…

My project for the day is to try to use the newly imported bookmarks list to

  • figure out if I can access the websites using the URLs provided in the list
  • decide if I want to delete some of the bookmarks imported because I’m no longer using them
  • move bookmarks to a reasonable folder (I’m used to having a bunch of things open at the same time, moving from one to the next with abandon and back again.)  I have been told this is bad policy and that no one should use the bookmarks toolbar, for example, so I’ll need to figure out a way to access things quickly under the new system
  • Each of the programs I was familiar with on the MAC is either a version specific to Microsoft, or we have an equivalent program on the new machine, so how I do things has changed. I work until I tear my hair out and then do something else for awhile.

In order to stop myself from automatically clicking on the FireFox icon, I have deleted it, leaving only the Chrome icon to get to the Internet

I’m going to tackle my bookmarks now, taking a deep breath and determinedly diving in.

Wish me luck?


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Beautiful Boxes

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“Hydrangea” – Paul Militaru Photography

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Definition of “Youth”

Robert Mallet via

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You’ve Earned It

Zen to Zany

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Purging Project Continues

There are two main areas in our house where things go IN, but never come OUT:  file cabinets and freezers.

FILE CABINETS– Recently I finished cleaning out a four-drawer file cabinet and two file drawers in my desk. I’m trying to get motivated to go through the other 4-drawer file cabinet in the office, but it has been low priority. I’ll attack it soon.


FREEZERS-  Since we’re on top of a ridge line outside the small town of Greenwood, Arkansas, we have always tried to prepare for bad weather, bad events, bad luck, etc. To this end we have backups on a lot of things, like a generator to start up when the power goes out, well water if the public water isn’t available, a fire place to warm us if we can’t use the heat (like when the generator is providing power) etc.

Since food is far too important for us, we have a fridge in the kitchen, another in the pantry, a third in the garage, plus a chest-type freezer in the garage. Since I’m also lazy, food has been put only in freezer bags and put in the various freezers, rather than using my vacuum sealer all the time, labeling and dating things that go in. The end result is a hodge podge of ‘stuff’ in the freezers, comforting in general, but pretty pathetic if actually used, since a lot of the items in there have freezer burn, are mystery items, or have been in there since 1492….

My efforts to purge/clean out/donate/throw away/clean/reorganize centered on the freezers the past week or so. I finally finished most of what I’m going to do in Phase I of the project this morning.

We have FIVE 39-gallon trash bags full of ‘stuff’ for the good trash people to pick up this week. We’ll put it down at the bottom of the driveway tonight on the way to pick up our good friends for an evening of fun, exercise, bowling and ice cream.

I have now promised myself that I won’t let this happen again. I have a nice vacuum sealer readily available in the pantry. From now on I WILL USE IT so I won’t have any more mystery items. I’ll be sure to label and date each thing and come up with a system for getting rid of things that have been in the freezers too long in the future.

*So promises the lady who religiously cleans every 30 years without fail!*

It DOES feel good to be able to open freezer doors and actually have space available……


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Healing via Cathy Ruggiero

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Calvin and Hobbes Mailbox Decoration

I think this is my favorite of the many mailbox decorations we’ve made. It makes me feel good when I see it. This is the back of the piece. you can see where I’ve tried to incorporate the mounting bar into the design.

Calvin and Hobbes is a daily comic strip by American cartoonist Bill Watterson that was syndicated from November 18, 1985 to December 31, 1995.


This is the front. The piece is about 2-1/2 feet tall and about the same wide – 3 feet + with the mounting bar and tail. We grabbed the design from the net. My husband translated the picture into code that the computer-guided torch on our CNC table can understand and cut out. We used a transparency and overhead projector to mark the bare metal for painting. I then painted both sides and then sprayed a clear protective spray on it. I hope this decoration gives people a warm feeling as they drive by our home.


Calvin and Hobbes by Sarah,


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Henry David Thoreau via

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“Peacock” – Paul Militaru Photography

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Purple Iris

Deep purple iris are our favorites (although I like a lot of other colors). I’ve been working on trying to spread the purple iris all around the yard, since my husband loves them above all others.  Right now we’re feeling rich in purple iris!


This is toward the top of our driveway, on the right as you drive up. We have an antique computer tower perched on one of our brick planters. My husband put it there as a conversation piece years ago, but the birds now build nests in it each year. You can see some parts of the ’emu’ planters just past the brick planter. We’ll place my husband’s favorite periwinkles in those as soon as the weather warms up.


This is one of the clumps of purple iris that are finally happy along the side of the driveway. They make us smile as we go down the driveway. My husband remarks about them each time he sees them, thanking me for transplanting some there.

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“Exquisite White Beauty”

“Exquisite White Beauty” – Paul Militaru Photography


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Robot Critters Refurbished

It’s one thing to gather metal scraps of one kind or another, weld them together to make a yard critter, and paint them. Then you enter a whole new stage of trying to repair what sun, wind, rain, and changing temperatures does to them.

We have one “robot” on either side of our garage door. This one is the “Cleaning Robot.” He has a fireplace ‘dustpan’ in one hand and a fireplace ‘broom’ in the other. His paint was holding up all right, but his gloves were almost completely rotted off. His bow tie had turned pink and brittle, and he needed a good cleaning. I brought old gloves from our shop, stuffed them full of plastic bags and then we did a combination of putting screws through the gloves and then wires to hold the fingers. I ordered a new child’s bow tie. Now he’s spiffy for another spring and summer.


The “Farmer” robot is on the other side of the garage door. He also needed new gloves, and his bandana was almost completely gone. I couldn’t find another bandana in any color other than pink yet, so I used this piece of cloth in the interim. He loves it when people come to our house, enthusiastically waving, and saying, “Hi!”

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Filed under Lewis yard art, project refurb

Square Foot Garden After Storm

We had bad storms with a strong cold front Friday afternoon and evening – including tornadoes, damaging winds, rain, hail, and flying hair balls. I was worried that my fledgling square foot garden plants would get battered.  Yesterday and today we’ve had cold temperatures for April in Arkansas – barely 40 and gusty north winds.

As you can see, the garden is doing fine. WHEW!  Thank  goodness these are all cool weather plants!  I may lose some of my tomato plants, but the rest of the garden is good.





Iceberg Head Lettuce


Romaine Lettuce



It’s almost time to start snipping!  I can gather the outer, larger leaves of the lettuces and the spinach soon. As soon as it warms up a bit, I’ll get some radishes started.

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Filed under Arkansas, DIET!, getting the lard off, Greenwood, Healthy Eating, Square Foot Gardening - Raised Beds

What You Need

Charles Schultz – Peanuts –

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Office Clean Out – Phase 2 Finished

Molly doesn’t enjoy having her picture taken, but my efforts to take pictures of the office woke her up. I finally finished Phase 2 of the office clean out/purge/declutter project late this afternoon. I went through all the drawers and shelves, reorganizing, putting things in the donation pile, throwing things away, cleaning. The above is the office supplies/dog toys/dog bed area.


The supply area is now clean and mostly organized. I gathered a 39 gallon leaf bag of trash.


These shelves are between my desk to the left and the file cabinets and my computer area to the right. I went through all the file cabinets, too, except for the one on the other side of the room. We have two four-drawer file cabinets, one 2-drawer, and then my desk has a file drawer on either side.


I went through all the drawers in my desk recently, so catching up on filing was all that was needed here.


This is my computer area. I cleaned out the drawers on the left of the chair and the shelves to the right of the chair. The only things left are to put the new PC tower under the counter and reroute the wiring, plus wipe the MAC to the left of the monitors and box it for sale.

Even my husband, who is pretty oblivious to disarray, noticed the difference!

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Mother Nature in a Snit

Mother Nature was in a snit yesterday afternoon and evening, bringing us a cold front with accompanying 60 mph winds, hail, rain, tornadoes, and flying hair balls. The sky was black in mid afternoon and I watched the hard-working local weather guys try to warn people in our area and all around us about when to dive for shelter.

Happily, though we got wind and rain, all the bad stuff either went north or south of us. We came through her bad temper well. I checked this morning when I took the doggies out, that the greenhouse was still standing, we didn’t have any damage to the house, my roses were still intact, and the square foot garden was still looking good.

We planted 3 new rio samba rose bushes recently. I’m just thrilled that they seem to be happy.




Even though it’s too cool to be comfortable outside today, I’m thankful to see the sun and our thriving plants.

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Lucia Mejia saved to Canas


Marc Middleton via

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Pencil Sketches – Take 10




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Role Model

Golda Radner –

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Every Once in a While….


Amber is a yellow Labrador Retriever. She was a year old in March. We weighed her at the vet’s office last month and she weighed 93 lbs. We HOPE this is it for growth, but we’ve been told she won’t be fully grown – physically OR mentally – for another 11 months.

We’ve accomplished a lot since we first brought her home last May, at 16 lbs and 10 weeks old. To say that everything has changed in our lives is one of the biggest understatements ever. It’s a good thing we got started when we did. We’re definitely getting a bit long-in-the-tooth to tackle trying to train a ‘puppy’ this size.

Amber is still a dog of ‘very little brain,’ but she’s very smart in dog years. We’re in a contest as to who is training whom. She is infinitely creative, coming up with something else to try our patience each time we let our guards down.  Two days ago she started playing in her water bowl again. It’s on the tile, but it’s aggravating to go for a refill on our coffee and have to stop and sop up the ‘lake’ before going further. We’ve tried changing water bowls, only putting a little bit of water in it, watching her like a hawk and trying to ‘warn’ her with the zapper that goes with her shock collar, etc., but nothing is working well yet.

She has taught us that unless we want everything outside to end up in the front yard completely destroyed, we must take her out, walking with her and monitoring her closely, and then bringing her in. She loves being outside, but has finally taught us that, for the foreseeable future, she can’t be trusted to simply be let out.

We have taught HER –

  • NO
  • COME
  • SIT
  • DOWN
  • OKAY

All of this is forgotten in a flash if anyone comes to the house, of course.

She has taught US –

  • To take her out when she uses her nose to flip our arms up when we’re at the keyboard. If we’re slow to do her bidding, she now sticks her nose firmly in our arm pit, trying to flip us up from THAT angle…

She still thinks she’s a lap dog, insisting on getting up in my husband’s lap when he’s in his recliner for a good hug each night. She has taught me that if she looks at me with a gleam in her eye while in my husband’s lap, I’d better leap up immediately and prepare to be boarded on the couch and hugged. If I don’t react, she threatens to leap from my husband’s chair to mine.

Happily, she and Molly, our elderly cocker spaniel/schnauzer cross, get along fine now. We monitor things and give Molly a break when Amber gets TOO exuberant, but they play together and will lie on the same dog bed together now. Amber understands that Molly actually gets to eat twice a day, just as she does, and that bulling her way to Molly’s dish is not acceptable.

Much of our lives revolve around Amber’s needs. Acting like a bull in a china shop does get people to pay attention…..


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“Bouquet of Flowers”

“Bouquet of Flowers” – Paul Militaru Photography

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Pencil Sketches – Take 9



S. Pikel


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