reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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our dogga. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

we didn’t order our dogga with stripes, but, had we ordered our dogga, we would have ordered exactly him. he is an aussie full of aussie-quirks and amber eye-contact, a furball of vacuum-stalling potential, a lifesaver in every way our pets save us from ourselves and the world around us.

he is – most definitely – not perfect.

though he knows he must sit-on-the-rug before going out – and wait for one of us to utter “ok” – he first must jump up and down, seemingly effortlessly, like an nba star looking for a basket. then, with a sheepish i-couldn’t-help-it look on his face, he sits.

though he knows he is not supposed to run along the back fence barking at the neighbordog, he must first run along the back fence and bark. then, with a wink at the neighbordog, he returns diligently to the patio or the deck, fully expecting a treat for his “restrained” behavior.

though he knows he is not supposed to pull on the leash during walks, the first few minutes are like taking a giant bungee cord for a walk – out and back, out and back – although recent days and the new use of the “wonder walker” have yielded a magical change, sans bungee-dog.

though he does not sing, he has several songs – the dogga-dogga song, the dad song, the mom song. no other songs count on his chart, except the babycat song, which we sing for him when he is – or we are – missing his babycat.

though we cannot guess what he is thinking, his beautiful eyes give us eye contact that tell us everything we need to know.

our dear friends have a puppy. he is full of puppy-smell and puppy-teeth and sweet wriggly antics and is the variety of dog that doesn’t shed. they are being very intentional about his training, which makes us think about the books we read, the videos we watched and the way dogdog turned out. we weren’t as intentional in that phase of our lives nine years ago. at least not about puppy-training. maybe there’s still hope. sigh.

we visited together and caught up outside around the firepit the evening we met him, puppy in a fenced playpen off to the side, learning how to calm-himself-down-when-new-people-arrive. we clearly need to start that part over with dogga.

we drove home talking about that darling puppy. our friends would love us to get a puppy now too. that makes us laugh. we are – oh so clearly – not ready for a puppy.

we pulled into the driveway and, judging by his quick walk, david was as anxious to hug our dog as i was. though dogdog was skeptical about the attention, especially since he could smell “puppy” all over us, he gave in to the lavish display.

because, though we didn’t order our dogga with stripes, though he sheds like dandelion fluff in the spring wind, though he sometimes tries our patience and is a bit doggedly stubborn about barking, though he has us wrapped around his little wagawag tail, he is exactly the dogga we need.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this NOT-SO-FLAWED WEDNESDAY


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stop. go. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

i was about ten. and i was helping my dad clean out the gutters. we were up on the roof of our house on long island. and i was feeling on top of the world. that is, until, i wasn’t.

this could easily become a commercial for leaf-filter-gutter-guards, but that wasn’t a thing back then. instead, we were up there using little trowels and our hands to scoop and toss, scoop and toss. until i wasn’t.

i wanted to stop…but my body kept going. i hit the ground hard and broke my cheekbone. my sweet momma was not-so-pleased with my dad’s allowing-me-to-fall-off-the-roof, but it wasn’t his fault. if you lean forward over a gutter too far, gravity takes over. and that’s the story.

last night, i was awake most of the night. around 2:30 or so, david got us bananas to munch on and we started chatting. valentine’s day was his birthday and he turned 61, which he said feels very different than 60. “i don’t have a problem with the tens,” he said. “it’s the ones. it’s once you are solidly in the decade that it’s different.”

we talked about the differences between 51 and 61, of which, i must say, there are many. you want your body to stop changing (read: aging), but it keeps going and going and going. after much laughter and poking fun, we decided we were fortunate and shouldn’t complain.

the snowboard expert who was sharing the commentator role with the nbc peacock host was telling a story during the olympics. i don’t remember the story because i was too busy writing down his comment, which felt like it could generalize to so.much.in.life. “i wanted to stop but my body kept going.” we watch amazing athletes who have taken their whole lives mastering their sport to prepare for moments-in-time-competing, on top of their game, winning, and, in other moments-in-time having to deal with the stumbling of a body that didn’t quite cooperate on that particular day at that particular time.

i had two normal wrists before. and then, that one particular time. i wanted to stop – on my snowboard on the side of the skihill so as not to plow into the little girl crossing my path on skis – but my body kept going. simple as that. tried to stop. couldn’t stop. got closer and closer to her as she traversed on her tiny skis. and fell. two broken wrists. it’s been two years now. another one of those things david and i talked about in the wee hours. time. how it flies. it just keeps going, no matter what we want.

we went to the grocery store. we both wore masks. there is a global pandemic. still. as we walked toward the paper towels along the aisle that’s perpendicular to theirs, an unmasked naked-faced man came the other way. he started staring from a distance away. and frowning. at my mask. and then, direct eye contact. staring. i stared back. it was awkward. two people out-and-out staring as they approached in the grocery store sale aisle. normally, i would drop my gaze and look elsewhere, but this time i just held it. he passed by within inches of me, still staring. the aggression in the grocery store is titanic. such a waste of energy. such a waste of staring. i wonder if he wanted to stop. it was creepy.

we got home from the store and brought in the first of the bags. dogga bounced up and down at the door, greeting us. “on the rug,” we pointed. he tried – very, very hard – to sit down on the rug and wait to be invited to go outside. but he just couldn’t. we knew he wanted to. he wants to please us. but he just couldn’t. his little body – running at 78rpm-as-opposed-to-33 and downshifting to a lower gear to amp it up – just couldn’t stop. his delight was obvious. we were home. he was happy. he wanted to go out. jump. bounce. jump. bounce.

he skidded across the deck, long paw prints in the snow. luckily, when he came to the end, it was merely a foot or so off the ground. ka-thump.

he stood up and off he ran. he is clearly closer to 51 than 61.

*****

read DAVID’s thoughts this NOT-SO-FLAWED WEDNESDAY


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here, he gazes north. [d.r. thursday]

on island he gazed south. here, at home, he gazes north.

it doesn’t matter that there are inches of snow piles on the deck. ever the snowdog, he lays in it, relishing the cold, and gazes north. i wonder what he is thinking.

dogga is rarely still. he seeks the bark-back of other dogs in the ‘hood, standing in the middle of the backyard. he runs around the opposite-traffic-circle sign, around the pond, to the fence, then the other. scoping out, trying to get the attention of simply any other canine.

but there are those moments, in the middle of his self-initiated fray, that he is quiet and still and he poses, like the lions “patience” and “fortitude” flanking the front of the new york public library. “patience” and “fortitude” have been trademarked and are featured in the logo and all of the library’s marketing shenanigans. perhaps dogdog is the branding of our backyard, of our home. gazing north. or – simply – gazing.

for we, too, are gazers. we sit and ponder. we gaze and wonder. we watch the backyard change seasons as we change seasons.

the other day dogga was laying on the bed when i walked into the bedroom. i sat down next to him, his wagawag-tail thumping. i told him all the stuff i was thinking about, because isn’t that one of the reasons we HAVE dogs?

he listened. thump. listened. thump thump thump.

he did not solve anything. he did not answer any of my questions nor did he ask any questions. he did not agree or disagree. he did not argue for reason. he just listened. with patience and fortitude.

were i to lay in the snow with dogdog on the back deck gazing north perhaps i would also have more patience and fortitude in this season of time. at the very least, i would be in the best of company.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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pristine. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

it all looked pristine for a while, after it snowed. a fresh blanket of white covering our yard and its blemishes. for the time before the wind started blowing and the snow started shifting, you couldn’t tell that the front yard was all torn up, that there is a large grassless mound – like a dune on the long island coastline – that stretches from our house all the way to the street.

the backyard also. pristine. a white canvas, dotted with tall old evergreen trees, ornamental grasses gone to brown, feathery plumes waving, the pond frozen and still.

there are folks whose yards will continue to look that way – pristine. the snow will remain untouched, smooth, perfectly showcasing shadows as the sun peers through tree limbs and plants in fallow.

the moment we open the back door and dogdog runs out, the illusion of perfection ceases. pawprints obscure the shadow art as he tears into the blanket of snow, nose down, gleefully devouring it as he goes. he is a winter dog. there is no doubt about it. he comes in reluctantly – laden with snow – after laying on the deck on top of snow, surrounded by snow, under new snowfall. it is his time.

sometimes i wonder if we can just save the front yard, just not walk in it, just not let it be disturbed. we can look out the window and gaze at that which makes everything profoundly beautiful.

but then there are squirrels dancing about in the snow and the tiny footprints of birds. there are prints of a stray cat and maybe a raccoon or two. the grasses dip under the weight and the gusts, brushing aside snow like small brooms. there are bootprints of the guys who installed our temporary sidewalk and shoeprints of our postal, ups, fedex, amazon delivery people bringing us mail, cards from people we care about, packages of things we need. the wind has blown off the straw-covered mound, exposing the filled-in trench of a new water service line, a tiny winter miracle in itself.

and i realize that as stunning as pristine is, it is perhaps illusory and most definitely ephemeral.

instead, we celebrate the messy, the prints in the snow, the elated dog, the windblown fresh snowfall, creatures seeking food and shelter, the interrupted shadows.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this NOT-SO-FLAWED WEDNESDAY


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be a duck. [merely-a-thought monday]

“mama said there’ll be days like this; there’ll be days like this mama said.” (“mama said”, the shirelles, written by luther dixon and willie denson, 1961)

there are days in which i remind myself, time and again, over and over and over, blah-de-blah-de-blah, as i learned years ago from a cheery 95 year-old woman on an interview, to not take anything personally. this requires evolving. big evolving.

it does not come naturally to me to not take things personally. it is waaaay over on the other side of the taking-things spectrum from where i am. but, i am inching my way, crawling, scraping, babystepping my way in that general direction. ever-evolving, i intend to get there. some.day.

i suspect that, on the day that i arrive, i will find a light heart, laughter always at the ready, dancing feet, unconditional forgiveness of self and others, grace for mistakes or choices made, full nights’ sleeps, anticipation of continued bliss in the land of not-taking-it-personally. umbrage will fall like rain on duck’s feathers and the seesaw will stay level, a fulcrum of balance.

for, as any perusal through social media will remind us, we are not walking in shoes other than our own. memes as prodding cover photos or profile pictures or insta’d wisdombits or tweeted tweets, we are reminded “you never know what someone is going through. be kind. always.” yup.yup.

we each have access to the wisdom of the greatest wise ones. and we each forget. every. single. day. we don’t always think about how our words or actions will arrive on the heart of others, particularly in the moments of delivery, particularly the things that are … heartless. conversely, it, then, is likely that others, in the moments of delivery, were not thinking about how their words or actions would arrive on our hearts. we also know that it is not likely that someone else is laying awake in the middle of the dark night thinking about what they said or did, their words or lack of words. some people are better at letting things sliiiide off. me? i’m still evolving.

in a slew of bitterly cold temperatures, we passed a frozen pond the other day. there were many ducks on it and i wondered aloud if their tiny butts were frozen to the lake. in my best duck voice i implored passersby to “help us, help us. our tiny butts are frozen and we can’t get up!”. but, in my moment of intended comedy, i did not know some important things about ducks: “waterfowl possess remarkable adaptations to survive in cold weather, including dense layers of insulating feathers, counter-current blood flow to reduce heat loss through their feet and legs, behavioral modifications to reduce exposure to the elements, the ability to carry large fat reserves, and perhaps the greatest adaptation of all- migration.” (ducks.org)

“be a duck,” i said to him the other day. sometimes it is necessary. let it all roll off your feathers.

a little research had given me a tiny bit more knowledge: wear more layers. don better boots. reduce exposure to potential yucky stuff. eat and drink merrily without minding the mirror too much. and, if all else fails, move on. be a duck.

mama was right. there are days. ouch.

love oneself enough to be ever-evolving. ever and ever and ever.

ducks know this stuff.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY



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magic fluff. [two artists tuesday]

though we are not ‘good’ at many plants, it seems, we are ‘good’ at ornamental grasses. maybe it’s the soil, maybe it’s the sun, maybe it’s location, but grasses have given us a sense of garden-accomplishment that nothing else (shy of mayyyybe the cherry tomatoes and basil and lavender this year) has bestowed upon us.

we won’t cut them down. no pruning. they will stay through the winter, magnificent plumes golden against the drear, against the snow, reminding us of good fluff of the day.

i imagine tiny animals sheltering in their masses, dense bush allowing warmth and security and invisibleness. maybe tiny chipmunks, with pantries of birdseed they have stolen from the finches and sparrows, waylaid from intrepid robins and scarlet cardinals. we’ll just keep filling the birdfeeder. judging by the birds partying in our backyard yesterday, i think we may try and find another birdfeeder to hang as well. i have turned into my parents.

dogdog comes inside each day now, laden with seed pods. if wishes were granted on seedheads, we would have so many magical dreams coming true. he seems to not mind these tiny hitchhikers tucked into his very-furry fur. we pick them off, one by one.

and now i think, who’s gonna stop us from wishing on each one? these grasses grace us in more than one way. let the magic commence.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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pointed at wonder. [merely-a-thought monday]

my yashica fx-2 35mm camera went everywhere with me. a prized possession i had gotten for my high school graduation, it opened my vision of the world, the things i looked at. in the days of film and negatives and developing, i was an enthusiastic participant, eating boxes of cornflakes so that i could develop the next roll and the next.

i passed through the minolta auto-exposure-auto-focus phase when my children were young. it was easier to grab the camera and snap a picture of them doing something amazing or indescribably adorable with the auto-camera.

then came the sony tiny-cameras you could slide into your pocket, also easy and accessible. that camera and the minolta and my treasured yashica are still around here somewhere, lenses for the 35mm in a hard-shell briefcase my dad designed with foam fitting around the wide-angle and telephoto choices.

in these days i carry my phone. it is the height of easy and always right there, ready to record a moment. in recent years, i have rediscovered the utter joy of taking photographs, of recording the sun glimmering on dogdog’s fur, of capturing the blossom as it wanes and the curl of the wave and the way the mountains look in a dark sky. a camera pointed at wonder.

“come forth into the light of things. let nature be your teacher.” (william wordsworth – from today’s daily wonder app)

i haven’t opened the “daily wonder” app in a while. i discovered it when we chose and featured the movie “wonder” on island. a single snippet of thought for your day, it is a tiny gift i had forgotten about, often reminding you of the wonder of simply being here.

we carry the not-so-wondrous around in heavy baggage, somewhat unwilling to part with it, feeling as if it somehow defines us. how buoyant we might be without it, how resilient. letting go might yield a smidge of wonder.

one evening, watching “life below zero” one of the intrepid alaskans said, “bring the wonder back in life” and i grabbed my phone to jot it down. as we travel to his memorial service to honor columbus’ life and his earnest grasp on happy-living, intentionally marveling, i know he would immediately agree with the person who said that.

undoubtedly, he would laugh a little and add that the wonder was always there.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY


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open windows and ragamuffins. [merely-a-thought monday]

brad was off-zoom-camera when he asked, a little incredulously, “you mean you haven’t put in the air conditioners yet?!” i sheepishly replied, “no…not yet.” everyone on the screen laughed and then stared. i mean, it is clearly hot out. hot and humid and sticky – those dog days of august, though even dogdog is not a fan of sultry so-called-dog-days. every thing and every one is sluggish, moving slower.

i remember living in florida and working in a career where suits and business office attire were expected. you’d search for toe-cleavage-touting etienne aigner pumps on sale and score big on scarves to finish it all off. everything was air-conditioned: your home, your car, the office, the lunch deli. everything except the outside. so, after carefully attending to your ensemble and your make-up, you would get into your car in your garage and drive to the office – for me, this was downtown brooksville at the courthouse, as i worked for the state attorney’s office as the victim-witness counselor – and you’d drive around the downtown looking for a spot, hoping for something close to the square. you’d park -finally – a few blocks away, jump out of your car, grab your attache and purse and walk through 1000% humidity to the office while your make-up was sliding off your face and every wrinkle you had ironed out returned through the miracle of sultry-water-saturated air effects on clothing that does not have physical separation from your body. it is hard to look fresh and crisp when you, your clothing and your make-up are melting away. dog-days in florida are not merely a few days here or there in a month or two during summer. they last much longer than that and i always wondered how my elegant boss debbie managed to look pristine. but, i digress.

i felt compelled to answer brad’s question with a little more explanation.

last summer, in the middle of the beginning of the pandemic, in the middle of civil unrest, in the middle of dog-days in more ways than heat-inspired, we put our air conditioner units in the windows – early. the first day we were the slightest bit uncomfortable, late-spring sometime, we – well, david – lugged them upstairs from the basement and installed them in the sitting room and the dining room. we barely went anywhere. with the pandemic raging, we followed safety guidelines to limit our exposure to others, to limit our trips to the grocery stores, to refrain from eating out or gathering. we closed the windows and flipped on the air conditioners. we were isolated, insular.

the summer of 2020 seems like the summer that never was. neither of us can remember much of the summer-part of the summer. the usual backyard gatherings, trips to the mountains, music festivals and park concerts and farmer’s markets on the lake – all were absent for us. and, because the air conditioning was turned on, we basically left it on. it was easy to stay temperature-comfortable and that seemed like the only comfortable we had. as the spring turned to summer and summer turned to fall work and security fell away for so many and we were included in that. insular. temperature-comfortable but not life-comfortable. we knew having the units in was a splurge but it was our only splurge.

this year we are resisting. the windows are wide open. and some days it is hotter than roasting or sizzling or broiling or baking. but, like the environmentally-responsible outdoor company stio taglines, we “let the outside in.” my hair dries curly on its own and sometimes – gasp – i don’t even have any make-up on. our clothing is not smart and tailored and it definitely has a little drooping going on. but we can FEEL the outside. we can hear the birdcalls and sometimes the frog, the gurgle of the pond and chipmunks ranting. lawnmowers and music from the kingfish ballpark. the ice cream truck playing ‘it’s a small world’ and the street sweeper on its way down our street. we feel a part of the world, even in our continued vigilance of covid safety guidelines. we feel summer. and, to be fair, we look at the weather app for breaks in the heat, breaks in the humidity and count the days, knowing it is within our ability to get there without actually melting away. on days when it’s too too much, we sit in littlebabyscion with dogdog and have happy hour in the driveway, going nowhere.

soon fall will arrive – our favorite season. we’ll keep the windows open. we’ll smell the change of seasons and we’ll start sleeping under blankets. it will be easier to think, easier to move about, heck, easier to wear clothes. we are hoping everything will be easier. insular-island-at-home dwelling is not easy. in an opposite-reaction it seems that the more open, safe and healthy the world will become, the more likely we would be now to put in those air conditioners. maybe next summer.

and just a tiny word about linen. though it is supposedly breathable and plant-based and high quality, what’s up with all these wrinkles??? i could hear my sweet momma in my head the other day as i left the air-conditioned car, having driven a distance in a flowy linen handkerchief dress, trying to look fresh and crisp, perhaps a swipe at cooly-elegant, “you look like a ragamuffin!”

might as well have left the windows open.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY


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wonderful world. [k.s. friday]

“easy living” it advertises on the cover of the wayfair summer catalog. inside, you can purchase everything you need for easy living. for a price, you can create easy living spaces on your deck, your front porch, in your kitchen, in your bath, by your pool, in your backyard. most items are really beautiful, beckoning you to believe in the power they have to help you live easy. this summer, we actually added a few small things to our own deck, though our deck is a mostly-target-added-to-repurposed-stuff deck. i have to say, a few cushions and outdoor pillows make an inviting difference.

we have changed our schedule a bit these days. we used to stay up really late and watch late night news and comedy talk shows, but through the pandemic and the political-rah-rah times it has tended to get us riled up. so instead, after the sun has fallen from the sky and mosquitoes having joined us on the deck, we watch minimal tv and go to bed early to read aloud or watch trails on a laptop. we wake up early, with rising sun and birdcalls streaming in through the wide-open windows in our bedroom.

this morning, just as the sun rose, i plugged in the coffee, fed dogdog, opened the windows in the sunroom and went outside. i greeted the tiniest farm on our potting stand, tested the soil for dampness, looked for ripe cherry tomatoes, pinched back the sweet basil. i checked on the lavender. i added bird seed to the feeder. i looked for magic in the pond and pulled a couple weeds. i watched dogga sniff around his yard and drank in the salmon sky lightening in the east. i came back inside and wandered from plant to plant, saying good morning to succulents and KC and snakeinthegrass. the coffee pot beeping drew me out of where i was standing by the window, looking out, and i pulled out cabin coffee company mugs. every day is different and every mug brings with it a different set of visceral memories. it was a breckenridge mug kind of day.

it was quiet; all was still. i thought: this. this is easy living. a little bit of ritual, a little peace at the beginning of the day, a little peace at the end of the day – these are ingredients you cannot purchase from a catalog. these simple gestures we make to being present-here-now are contagious. they spread the intention of simplicity to the rest of our day. and though we don’t always stay there, in peace, we know we can find our way back there.

because at the beginning of the next day we can try again. we can find the wonderful in this wonderful world.

PULLING WEEDS from RIGHT NOW (kerri sherwood)

and – click here – just because everyone should listen to louis armstrong every day

listen/download music on my little corner of iTUNES

stream my growing library on PANDORA

read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

PULLING WEEDS ©️ 2010 kerri sherwood


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only so much summer. [d.r. thursday]

feels like 101. feels like 103. feels like 105. at some point, the details are irrelevant. it’s just damn hot.

david and dogdog and i had about had it. the “cooler near the lake” theory was defunct-for-the-moment and it was hot and humid in and out. our old house doesn’t have central air and the window air conditioners were still in the basement, as both of us love open windows and light and less noise than they put out. and the next day it was all supposed to break. so…one more evening. we tried to be patient. it is summer after all.

we asked dogga if he wanted to go on errands, to which he always gleefully responds. he ran out to the car in the driveway and eagerly got in, looking out the back window to follow our backing-up, which never happened. we sat there. stationary. not moving. he kept looking out the back window. with the air conditioner cranked up to high and on max, we sat there, blowers aimed right at us and into the back, where the dog was wondering about how he ended up with people who called sitting still in the driveway “errands”.

i will admit that we carried out – to our driveway – a glass of wine. so this was the location of the beginning of our happy hour, sans snacks. the snacks were waiting in the sunroom for us, but we just needed this burst of cold air first.

so far, about a week later, post-desperation, the air conditioners are still in the basement. there were a few cooler, drier days. and those nights – perfection – windows-wide-open-fans-on-under-a-blanket nights. yesterday and the day before were humid – curly hair kind of humid. and looking ahead, it seems that it will be up and down. we glance at the accuweather app and look for breaks coming up. there’s one tomorrow. the high will be 73. those a/c units may not be going in any time soon.

instead, our old double-hung windows will be getting a workout. the ceiling fans are running and there is the clicking sound of the ceiling chain tapping against the light fixture. we wake in the night when it’s raining to hear the dripping against the bedroom window from the flat roof above, a signal to close the window. we hear the latest dark-night sounds of crickets and the earliest sounds of the birds as they wake at 4am, sounds we will miss in mid-winter, sounds it seems we should store up, memorize, stock away. we can hear the lake in its response to wind and the train lumbering in the distance. and the exquisite stillness. we can hear the neighborhood go to sleep and the neighborhood wake up.

we know the a/c units will block the heat, will block the humidity. we’re grateful to have them at the ready. we also know that they will block the summer – and in wisconsin, there is only so much summer to have.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

dancing in the front yard