Posts tagged writing

Diligent housewife, potterer or procrastinator with a butterfly mind…hmmm

I had a list of things I wanted to achieve today, things like  the ironing, some art work, a bit of reading maybe, well definitely I would say. The writing bug has come back after a long and lonely break. I skimmed through the draft of my novel yesterday with intentions of resurrecting it and to give me some information for solid frameworks and plots etc. I scoured my bookshelves for a book, you know not to guide me but to give me fresh ideas. I found a load of books on writing short stories, writing ideas, nano writing, you name it, – I have it, so why is it that they are never quite what you are looking for. I got up from my reading, showered, fed and fussed one of my cats and picked up the books I had selected. An hour and a cold cup of coffee later I was still none the wiser. Then somehow things took a totally different pathway.

I washed up my cup and a  couple of other bits left over from last night’s supper, emptied the dishwasher that had been waiting since the day before and that was where I think other forces came into being. As I began to put stuff away in the cupboards I had the urge to tidy things a bit, accelerated by the fact that being hit on the head with flying objects as one opens the door above the eye-level oven is not much fun. Then my mind took over. My inner voice told me it is  New Year’s Eve tomorrow, I always take my decorations down on NYD, you know, new year, fresh start. I fought starting them today despite arguing with myself instead I settled for ‘ I will just tidy this’…. and on it goes. I moved to the utility room to put a casserole dish away, well its a sort of conservatory lean-to outside my back door, typical of little terraced houses and it has my washing machine and drier along with some kitchen units along one wall. Enough to keep all my cherished gadgets that have over spilled from  my tiny kitchen. ‘Hmm a bit dusty’ thought I and gets a cloth and some cleaning spray. ‘Actually, these cupboards are a bit cluttered, I could reorganise the shelf and get rid of all the junk I don’t need but keep in case. Now I wonder what I have in that bottom cupboard, it needs tidying anyway… washing up liquid – new, laundry whitener, spray polish, hand washing powder and what’s this? A new can of spray carpet shampoo!! Why do I listen to it?

I finished the cupboards and cleaned everything, organised my empty jars for pickle and jam making in the summer, put things that should be together in the same place and … the carpet shampoo just sat there in front of me. I walked in to the lounge, I had already made a mental note that it needed a vacuum today –  and I had been talking about cleaning the carpet since before Christmas. We have a big brute of an upright shampooer, amazing machine, but it did take a couple of days to dry last time and as it was winter I decided that little can of foam would do the trick. Voila – one shampooed carpet.

I make light of these labours but I have to do everything in short bursts of about half an hour otherwise the pain gets too much and I get nothing finished. But I cracked it! thank goodness no-one was watching me. I sprayed my little lounge, square by 3′ square then sat on a chair with a long handled brush to work the foam in for each little on patch thereby resting as I worked. Sorted!

Two major jobs completed. It took longer than most people would take but it got done, that’s the main thing. Enthused by my achievements I looked at the row of demijohns containing the home-made wine I started at the end of last summer. I have been putting off and putting off racking them. I mean it’s a long laborious job. Thanks to a kitchen stool and an ingenious balancing of pipes, I was able to sit and eat lunch while syphoning from one jar to another without too many spills. By cleaning up and sterilising the other things I needed as I went along, I was able to carry on for longer than I would normally, standing for a while to do one job and sitting when I needed to. Job done! I was shattered my knee hurt, my back was sore but once I had cleaned dried and packed everything away I looked at the floor. Sticking to it sort of gave the game away and of course the two hours drying for the lounge carpet was up so that needed vacuuming too, might as well do all in one sweep. Five hours from when I first sat down determined to write today I had vaccuumed all downstairs, cleaned my utility room, sorted the cupboards, shampooed the carpet, racked three demijohns of home-made wine and sterilised everything before I put it away. Now it is time to think about Harry’s evening meal..

How easy it is for me to potter, drifting from one thing to another, ignoring all my plans. I have the ironing to do but I still have enough tops to last me a couple more days so maybe tomorrow will do. I suppose while I was doing all this stuff , which has given me a totally satisfied  feeling I must add – you know what I mean? That tidy house, tidy mind sort of feeling, not that I am always neat and tidy despite my kids diagnosing OCD because my home is usually neat and clean – haha – I don’t have small people at home like they do – just me and Harry unless afore mentioned gorgeous little nuclear bombs visit leaving devastation in their wake, so it is going to stay tidy and I do get a lot of satisfaction from its tidiness.. hmm maybe I do have OCD… Now, where was I? Ah yes, I was running through some ideas for writing at the same time – talking about starting to write again … wow! Would you look at that! nearly a thousand words and I haven’t said a single thing that I was going to write about.. All those thoughts I had in my head just fluttered away… Tomorrow, I will start writing, tomorrow I promise, ok? I mean after today I won’t be fit to do much else anyway and the ironing will keep, what a perfect excuse to sit and practice how not to procrastinate or maybe to capture the lovely ideas my butterfly mind gives before they disappear completely like they have today..

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Goodbye 2011, welcome 2012

What a wonderful year 2011 was! Ok, not terribly successful on the writing front but absolutely brilliant for my art. It’s funny, I always visualised myself to being a writer, I mean that was why I went to University and took English,  literature and creative writing, wasn’t it? It is still dear to my heart and I still feel I have a novel or two inside me. I have been reading a lot these last few months, over thirty books actually, with the idea of grasping what framework successful authors use when they write series of books. It is so simple and yet it still escapes me, my brain fails to assimilate it into my understanding. I have one novel almost finished and another written in note form but when I read them they lack the something that makes them ‘live’.

My problem is that I am unable to get inside the protagonist’s head, or even to sustain a plausible protagonist that lives to the end of the book. I have read so many crime series, some of which are so simple to follow, and still I struggle. I haven’t given up on the whole novel-writing thing yet so will have another go this year. I guess the best thing for me is when I pick up something I have written and not looked at for a while, so many times I look at what I wrote and cannot believe that is actually my work. Well I like reading it anyway.

2011 saw a door opening for a wonderful opportunity to explore the world of  illustrating thanks to the fantastic writer, Trevor Belshaw. He writes children’s books under the name Trevor Forest and I for one think they are brilliant. It has been an honour to work with him and so encouraging to me. I have never been able to draw people terribly successfully and have been stretched out of my comfort zone of seascapes and the flora of the countryside but I feel I am improving all the time. If you’d like to take a look at Trevor’s children’s writing here’s a link for you www.trevorforest.com , he  also writes some really great adult stories so do check him out. Of course you will see my art work on his books as well. ; )

On the art front and comfort zones, just before Christmas I was asked to paint a picture to give as a gift. Nervously I asked what the subject was and was told a dog…. My brain immediately screamed  at me… DON’T DO IT! I mean there are so many brilliant artists out there and I couldn’t possibly  copy someone’s loved pet. I mean I have never even attempted that sort  of work before. Anyway, because it was someone close to me I said I would have a go with ‘no promises’ as a get out clause.

Now I have always viewed my ability to create a picture something as a precious gift that I really appreciate. I often wonder just how such amazing pictures end up on my canvas or paper. They seem to just want to be painted and somehow they have chosen me to paint them. I sat down with a photograph and a plea for any help I could get to the heavens. Here is the result… I can tell you, I was just so amazed that I could actually produce anything like this, just like with my seascapes, that I feel sure someone is painting it for me.  I am happy to say the person I painted it for was delighted with it.

It is this little painting that has encouraged me to push myself further with my art and that, in turn, tells me that I need to apply that theory to my writing. Who knows, maybe 2012 will be the year I actually get my novel up to publishing standard. I am sure gonna try anyway.

So I am looking back at 2011 with a sort of affection, from all the things that went wrong, I learned important lessons. From all the soul-searching and analysing of things from my past, close and distant, I learned that I don’t have to be perfect; how others perceive me is for them to form an opinion, as long as I am as good as I think I need to be;  as long as I recognise that it is ok to fail sometimes I can learn from everything that happens to me.

I also learned that I am getting older and it is both painful and joyful to watch my children as the competent adults they all are. Painful because my role as a mother is changing, becoming less important. Joyful because I have a new role as a grandmother. It takes some getting used to, stepping back and seeing your children being totally independent of you,  but the feeling of pride is amazing when watch them as parents being totally wonderful having learned from all my mistakes.

Speaking of being a grandmother, we had a new addition on the 1st August.. Matilda Felicity Dawn weighed in at 9 lbs 11 oz and another amazing privilege for me to be one of my daughter’s birth partners. A perfect water birth for her.. and a wonderful day for me. I  am one blessed lady, I can tell you.

2011 also saw me changing myself. As you know from my previous blog entries, I went on a slimming programme.. Many of you have asked how I did.. I can now tell you with pride that in eight months, I have lost 4 stone – 56 lbs for my American friends – I still have a long way to go and apart from a Christmas slip… hmmm… I shall be back on my diet from tonight… the dreaded post-Christmas weigh in…

This leads me to look forward to 2012, New Year resolution time? Hehe, in my experience resolutions never quite work out as I plan. Full of optimism and good intentions I always start well.. the weight losing is of course still a priority… but then life and loved ones seem to take over. Something that I really enjoy, and isn’t an excuse for failure as such, I mean I was thinking just the other day that each moment I spend with my family is precious, all the little things they do and say will never be captured again, a one-off experience. I have missed so much of my older grandchildren due to distance and different countries, that I am really enjoying the younger four that do live close. No doubt I shall be writing about them more, showing the pictures of the things we get up to and …. actually, that’s a good resolution for me, yes!

For 2012 my resolution is to be more organised, to set out specific times for writing and painting and stick to them.. at least that way I will get more done. I also intend to go out more, in the garden – slowly – visiting friends and family and just going out for little walks, as much as I am able,  in the sunshine. That’s it and to enjoy each moment for its own worth… Bearing in mind I have a 60th birthday this year : (.   Meanwhile I wish you all a really HAPPY, HEALTHY and PROSPEROUS 2012 .xxx

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Postaday2011: Busy Bank holiday

I have just a few minutes to post a blog for today. Sometimes I sit here and wonder why I do this, I have done quite well so far but what is the point? I mean I can write on the topic subject, my day, things I remember, so may things and I enjoy writing but as the year progresses and spring has crept over windowsill, I have found many more thing to do and it is getting later and later before I write my blog.

Today the glorious sunshine half shone through dirty windows. The winter had left its shadow in street dust that shaded the sun. Car exhausts have belched their fumes and stirred the dirt from the road that has stuck fast to the windows and facias of our house. Bank holidays, well bank holidays are good and it is really good to have H at home. I really struggle with some things so that’s where he comes in. Today we cleaned all the windows in the house, inside and out and I washed the curtains. What a major difference!

The sunlight is clearer, the rooms brighter, the nets look bright and reflect the sunlight instead of a gloomy room through the dust that has been captured in the lace. The whole place looks cleaner and brighter and we are only a fraction through our de-cluttering. Today several bags went off to the charity shop and I tidied and sorted the toy cupboard but the major thing was the letting in of the sunlight. To me that is the real beginning of spring!

Along with all these events come a list of other things to achieve, my list gets longer and time, although the days are longer, seems to be in short supply. So why do I stick at writing every day on my blog? There is far to many other things to do. I don’t even get the time to turn my computer on at the moment! Ah well, I said I would do it so I will continue.. Feels really good to spring clean as  well as de-clutter though.

The diet is going really well so far , day three covered! Exercise routine established and bless him, Harry has been joining me in my 10 minutes a day wriggle about to reggae time. I say wriggle because as I need a new knee, dancing isn’t really the right word. I just do what I can within my limitations as long as I move and exercise, it counts. My goal is to be slim enough to have the surgery and to be able to walk like I used to along with a million other things I used to do with ease. My garden for instance. Right now I am suffering for using my one good arm for cleaning the windows. I am thinking positive.

Well I have 2 minutes to post today… phew maybe I will just make it.. xx

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Postaday2011: What do I want to accomplish with my blog?

What a brilliant title for a blog entry and one that gives me so many ideas for writing. You know, at first I got caught up in the draw to be noticed, a bit like good old Facebook. Your success was the number of friends you have, never mind that half of them were so obscure as to be insignificant in your life, if they are on your friends list, they count. I think not! A friend, to me, is someone who is touchable, reachable, at least knows something about you that you can’t read on Facebook and someone you can call on for a night out, a meaningful chat, a hug, a friendly word, someone who knows you personally, I could go on and give you a million definitions of a friend but at the end of the day they are more than a name on an internet list…

I began much the same, other bloggers were boasting large numbers of readers and ‘like’ clicks, I wanted to be like that and when my readers rose from four or five to seventy odd once I was so excited and wanted to write more and more. Then I noticed other bloggers were getting hundreds of hits and it suddenly hit me, I would have to be amazing and work really hard at achieving that. My computer life is far less than is necessary to read and reply to that many readers, in fact it is a miniscule part of life for me because my family and real people that I know and love are extremely important to me. Besides, if someone dropped by my blog I would consider it so rude not to reply, I could be all day on my computer! No, I decided there and then that my blog was for many reasons but none of them to achieve popularity in cyber space with people I shall never meet.

I don’t want to sound at all ungrateful to all the lovely people that I have ‘met’ through my blog, those wonderful people who share similar lives or journeys, that it is a pleasure to share with are so important to me. I love to read their blogs and read their comments and would miss them but to me those few are far more precious to me because I can spend time getting to know them through my blogging and theirs, whereas, if there were’ hundreds’ would any of them be as special? I think not.

Mainly I write my blog for me, my children and friends who like to keep tabs on me. I keep a copy of it all and this postaday challenge will give me a year of thoughts, tipsy ramblings, actual events and well, my life and me daily for a whole year. I am notoriously hopeless at keeping a journal but I have always kept everything I ever wrote, even if it was just a few days of a holiday. It is fantastic to look back and see what I was up to, what I was feeling and best of all remember the moments when I was actually writing them. They serve as a strong memory link for me. I wrote some of my first poetry as a child and I have them still, every time I read them I am whisked back to that time and remember exactly what I was thinking when I wrote them. A bit like certain smells or perfumes that trigger a thought or memory from the past, my writing does the same, only better.

My children are scattered all over the world and although we keep in touch regularly, they all tell me they feel more in touch because they read my blog and know how I am feeling. How much more of a reason would I need for writing a blog? Hearing that made me feel so emotional, I never thought of that. When you live with someone you know the little idiosyncrasies, moods, silly stuff we do and how they are feeling but once we all scatter and have families of our own, we lose that intimacy. That is my second best reason for writing my blog.

Thirdly, I have friends who say the same and query when I miss my blog. I find this so really touching and it makes me realise just how many people out there actually do think about me and care. It’s a warm feeling and I love it.

Lastly, but not at all least, are the people I have never met who pop by and comment on my blog. The biggest compliments I have had was like the one I had yesterday.  When I have finished a day’s work and I need to relax I can read your blog and either escape or be inspired. This is something several people have written to me. I love that so much, not the just compliments but the fact that the mindless meanderings through my butterfly mind can actually be useful to somebody else. Can help them to forget a stressful day, can inspire them to rethink their own thoughts and take a breath or unwind. My blog can actually be meaningful in a positive way! That is awesome!

So, I am glad I gave up on being popular to many and am absolutely thrilled to be comforting to my children, inspiring to other bloggers, offer an escape for a few moments from the busyness of life and most of all give myself a book full of happy memories that I can recall at the turn of a page. I thank everyone who reads my blogs and who take away something from them for themselves, that is precious, that is what life should be like. Letting me know that is like returning the gift tenfold. The pebble in the pool or the smile to a stranger syndrome? It all helps to make the joy and love of life go round. Thank you all.

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postaday2011: 2 of 3 achieved – YES!!!

Hehehe, ok, what’s she on about now? You have to admit that I am, if nothing else, queen of the random blogs. No theme, no style, just a rambler on of words.

So what have I achieved? A little while ago, someone on FB posted a challenge that involved a crafty idea. Once I had posted that I was involved I would have to send something I have made to so many people who responded. Well I have managed two so far. The third one is a bit tricky and I am not sure what to make so I have to think a little longer.I know she won’t appreciate anything useless or tacky, and so far I don’t think either have been, so I shall have to make some sneaky enquiries or seriously have a good think about it.

The annoying thing is that I can’t put a picture up until the people I made these things for have seen them, maybe I shouldn’t post this yet, but I shall forget if I don’t. I only sent one at the weekend and this one will be tomorrow now so as soon as I have had acknowledgements I shall post them on my blog.

I just love being busy, I might be great at procrastinating but I am always doing something. I have a huge range of hobbies and can put my hand to almost any craft you can think of, if I watch TV, I knit or sew, I love to cook but I can’t stand for too long so have to adapt that one and don’t cook as much as I would like to. I love to read and write but my writing has taken a back seat for my painting which is really developing well and I am so delighted.

I am about to start playing with my oil paints. I have chosen my picture and plan to start it tomorrow. I know some people are interested in a step by step account, I think that will be a great challenge for me because it will make me think about what I am doing.This is the picture I have picked because it is so quiet and serene, and of course it is the sea again. It will be different because I am working in oils and it takes a day or two to dry before I can continue building the picture… so here goes.

A short blog tonight, but I will post pictures of the craft items I have made as part of the challenge as soon as I can.

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Postaday2011: Opportunities

Despite going to the GP and getting the steroids, I have still not taken them. The side effect sheet is, to be totally honest, terrifying. Do I really want to put my body through that. I was told I would have an upset stomach, the rest are possibles. I don’t think so. I am more terrified of taking the tablets than I am of putting up with the wheezing and coughing. I know my fear is probably really irrational but I don’t take any chemicals, I eat as little processed foods as possible and as much fresh fruit and vegetables as I can. My body is unused to taking a lot of chemical stuff and I always have had bad reactions to many drugs in the past which is why I am so cautious about taking them. That and the ‘what if’ syndrome drives me to be in complete fear of any manufactured medication. I mean I don’t even take pain relief for the arthritis unless I am in extreme pain and unable to function.

Anyway, my blog wasn’t going to be a moan about my fears. I was offered a great opportunity that helps to fulfill part of my dream of leaving something memorable behind and I have been working on that for the last couple of days. An internet friend asked if I could do some art work for a book cover because she was unable to due to RA. She is a lovely lady and naturally I said yes and produced a picture that the person who wrote the book, liked. He then asked for a couple more pictures for another story which I am in the middle of doing right now.

The first book, Peggy Larkin’s War by Trevor Forest, has been released on Kindle this week, with my picture on it.( It can be downloaded for your PC too.  It is really strange to see a book with my art work and name to it but it goes along with wanting just to get my art noticed. Not for anything amazing, I know it isn’t going to make me rich, but just for the satisfaction that I can do something, have achieved something, important to me. I think this is a great opportunity and gives me a great sense of achievement.

It seems art has taken over from my writing and the same friend showed me details to an art competition. I know many competitions have modern, contemporary art and mine is more classical and realistic but I felt good just posting it off. The proceeds also go to a charity too, so even if I get nowhere, I have helped to raise funds for a good cause. I am glad painting has moved to the fore because my writing is personal and few people read it whereas my art I like to show to everyone, especially recently because I have had so much encouragement from my family that I beginning to believe them.

So here’s to two things, recovery from this virus and to the wonderful friends who gave the opportunity to just sit and paint. Here’s to a brighter future!

I shall get back to the questions my son asked me but at the moment, my head is too full of trying not to cough and splutter to be able to concentrate properly on writing.

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Posta2011: A short story

The Dawning.  By Marie Fullerton                                     word count 1137

   Jan looked around the Bistro; little vases of white and yellow flowers in the centre of each table stood out against the pristine, green tablecloths. She had seen the same cream walls and dark wood beams in a small bar she had visited in France. The canopy above the window outside sheltered most of the diners from the glaring sun but on one small table in the window corner, the sunshine streamed in. Jan took her cup and sat down there. She allowed the sun to play on her face as she watched tiny particles of dust dancing in the light through the window. Her mind wandered aimlessly. Enjoying the break, she sipped her coffee slowly.

          “Hello Jan, this is a surprise.” Jan jumped at the familiar voice that had intruded into her thoughts and looked up to see Mark standing in the doorway; he held his arms wide as if to welcome her. She stood up and smiled weakly. He hadn’t changed, the same old Mark.

          “Mmm, not forgiven me yet I see?”

          “What do you expect?” She allowed her coldness to confirm his suspicions but her hands trembled as she watched him saunter across the floor and join her at the table.

          “Let me buy you a fresh coffee; this place is new, I’ve not seen it before?”

          “Yes, fairly new,” she smiled as she added, “ I hear the food’s good.”

A family with two small children came in noisily and joined another couple already seated at a large table at the back of the room.

          “Excuse me,” Mark twisted round on his chair and called the waitress without noticing them.

          “Two coffees and two Welsh Rarebits, please love.”

As she came across to take the order, Jan widened her eyes and looked directly at her over Mark’s shoulder, shaking her head with the smallest of movement, she fleetingly touched her lips with a forefinger.

Mark turned back round to face her.

“I can’t eat alone, you must eat with me.”

Jan checked her watch,  

 “I only have half an hour. I’m not hungry, a coffee will do fine.”

Ignoring her statement, he asked, “Now, what have you been up to?”

          “Since you walked out on me you mean?” she cut in coldly.

          “Ah, come on Jan, we agreed to a trial separation.”

He leaned across and picked a hair from her lapel and watched as it drifted to the floor. She was beginning to get irritable as she relived all the emotions that Mark had unleashed in her on his leaving. But then, she had done all right for herself. OK, she was still single but she liked it that way and she’d done a lot that she wouldn’t otherwise have done; she’d gone to college for instance.

          “So where did you go?” She asked out of curiosity.

“I was in Australia for two and a half years and then…”

“You mean you went … on your own!” Realising she had raised her voice, she dropped it again and whispered, “Why, after all our plans, why?”

 “I’m sorry, please forgive me?” Her heart leapt at a sudden thought.

Mark looked down and brushed imaginary dust from the tablecloth.

“I dunno, I guess it had all been getting too much, I, I really don’t know. I nearly wrote to you several times but, you know how it is!”

          “I do?”

          “Two Welsh Rarebit and two coffees.”

Jan smiled and nodded her head at the waitress. “ Thanks, Emma.”

          “Ah,” said Mark triumphantly, “still eating out I see, not learnt to cook yet then?”

          “Meaning precisely what?” His assumptions tangled in her stomach.

          “Well, you were always pretty hopeless at cooking, you have to admit it. Even that dog wouldn’t eat it, remember?”

Jan recalled the picnic; how the sun played on the river’s surface. A small dog that she had thrown a stick for had jumped in and scattered the sparkling water. They’d fed it a sandwich and Mark had given it some of her quiche. He’d cut a small piece and, unknown to her until they’d got back home, had smothered it in pepper before throwing it for the dog to catch. How he’d laughed as it ran away sneezing. He’d laughed for days afterward every time it came to mind, ‘it’s only a joke about your cooking.’ he’d said.

“Long time ago now, come on, eat up.”

He picked up his knife and sliced the toast in half, in half again and again until he had eight little slices on his plate, he then picked each piece up with his finger and thumb before eating them noisily. Jan watched and sipped her coffee in silence.

          “ Eat up.” He repeated.

“I did say I didn’t want anything.”

“ You didn’t mean it, come on, eat with me.” Mark was insistent.

“If you want it you have it, I’m not hungry.” She watched as he slid her slice onto his plate and proceeded with the cutting ritual as before.

          “ I went through Italy, had some really good food there. Mmm, love this.” He added and stuffed another slice into his mouth. 

The mocking voices of insufferable people echoed through Jan’s thoughts. The warm smell of toast materialized the tiny kitchen of their flat, friends sat around chatting, Mark’s friends. Geoff had said something and she turned to listen. The toast she was making for everyone caught fire under the grill. Someone laughed and from that point on it had been a standing joke. ‘Visiting Mark and Jan, we’d better bring a take-away.’ Mark had laughed too.

“Pity you never learned to cook, you never know, I might not have had to go so far for a decent meal.” Mark was laughing at his insinuation.

His voice scattered the images. Jan sighed.

          “Mark, look, I have to go, I’m sorry, I’m working.”

He finished the last slice of Jan’s Rarebit and felt in his coat for his wallet.

          “Oh damn! I’ve left my wallet…”

          “It’s OK, have this one on me, I owe you that much.” Jan got up and walked across to Emma, she whispered something and they laughed.  As she turned to leave, Mark held his arm out for her but she brushed him aside and chose instead to walk before him. Outside the door she turned.

          “When shall we meet again?” Asked Mark.

His arrogant, self assured face smiled at her and the knot in her stomach untied. Jan leant across, gently kissed his cheek and smiled back at him.

“Actually we won’t; I won’t, and by the way, I’m ok and doing very nicely, thank you for asking”.

Mark opened his mouth to speak. Jan gestured with her eyes to the sign above the door, held up her hands in front of her, winked, and walked back into her Bistro.

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