Carbuncles can swim

Bruiser has a carbuncle, but it doesn’t seem to have stopped his swimming gymnastics. As fish go, he is pretty agile; despite the bulbous lump near his tail that is about a fifth of his body weight. Still, he was never delicate (hence the name!), and at 20cm in length still manages to dominate the tank. Indeed he seems to proudly flash his gross pink lump at visitors; not one for the squeamish!

Over it

Frankly I have been ‘over’ the fish for some time, and when the carbuncle appeared, was  hopeful that it would take bruiser off to fishy heaven. But that was over a year ago, and since I mentioned (to the universe at large) that I wasnt going to replace any fish and would get rid of the tank, not one fish has died! Bruiser is 4 years old and showing every sign  getting a lot older.

Operation

The nurse in me wants to do a quick lancing with a sharp knife and a nice clean cut-off; but have never been convinced by the argument that fish don’t feel anything…..so, thus far have chickened out.I could of course numb the area for Bruiser before the mini-operation, but so far the best  idea for a fish anaesthetic that I have come up with is ice……freeze it off in a kind of crio procedure, or just numbing it and lopping it off with knife. But I would have to hold his head under the water, so he could do the weird fishy breathing thing, and have his rear out the water and hold an ice-cube to the lump…..but he is a slippery little sucker’ and on the one (brief) experiment; he wouldn’t oblige by staying still and I didn’t have enough hands. Besides, if I used too much ice he could have turned into a very strange fish finger.

Carbuncle 1, Wimp 0

So the carbuncle stays, and if it gets any bigger will need its own postcode. There is of course the option of a full-scale assault (sorry re. pun….they just pop out unannounced like a non-swearing form of Tourette’s; I have Pun-ettes!)…and flush him off to the great oceans to swim free. I know, I know, there are many reasons why he wouldn’t get from loo to sea uninjured; but my conscience prefers to think of it that way. Besides, he is too big to flush and may block the loo; and I wouldn’t like to explain that one to the plumber!

*Mindful I don’t have the stomach for fish dispatching, so will take “learn to fly fish” off the ‘to do’ list for retirement.

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IT Tribulations

New Laptop has lots of twiddly bits,
Like facial recognition;
And I’m thankful “Himself’s” doing set-up
As DIY not ambition

‘What if it doesn’t know me without Lippy on?’
Drew looks of disbelief;
Put ‘face on’ first his helpful tip
‘Controlled by machine!, Good Grief!’

And if it still won’t open?
And I’ve held it up like mirror;
‘Turn off and on’, (IT guy’s default setting);
‘Or could be “common user error”

I’m not common says I, and please just
Set to take a normal password;
‘And if you forget?’ had him on thin ice
‘As if!’, wont happen, don’t be so absurd

And if I need help when you’re not here?
‘Just download guidebook, advice is sound’;
Ok, download you say, where’s
The guidebook to do that to be found?

I seem to have made him speechless
And maybe used up all his time;
Not sure I got the ‘last word’ though,
Was that a single digit mime?

*Mindful I am spoiled having a live-in tech person, even if we don’t talk the same language 🙂

Dear Tax Man….a poem

Dear Tax man, kind exalted one; please excuse this slight intrusion,

I know your busy counting wads from others wealth profusion.

First let me say thanks! for  great website and helpful online forms,

Your endless lists of what can’t be claimed  keep us usefully within norms.

 

I’ve hit a snag am sure was error /oversight and not deliberate making;

Asked accountant George, who’s puzzled too, as set his head a shaking.

It’s not the boxes I see that are a problem, as they are really of clear help;

To the Supplementary section question I put “Yes, I supplement with Kelp”.

 

New ‘Edna Everage’ specs in “other work expenses” bit, and claims for slip-slap-slops

were certainly for protection as I am always outside Lots.

No extravagant items from me; am more Gum-Boot wearer than Jimmy Choo’s

But just in case, please be so kind , which box for expensive claims for shoes?

 

 *Mindful …..that attention to detail both takes time and saves time…….Learned that the shoe-box filing system has its limitations; or maybe I need more boxes?……that’s it!…more shopping 🙂

 

D-Day 70 years on.

Excuse this brief deviation from my usual light-hearted nonsense, but as it is such a special commemorative date, I didn’t feel I could let it go unmentioned here.
D-Day
The handsome chap in the front of the picture above is my Dad, a member of No 4 Commando, on his way to the D-Day landings at Sword Beach, 6th of June 1944; 70 years ago today. He was 22 years old.
If you are in the UK you may be familiar with the picture, as the BBC seemed to use it a lot whenever D-Day has been mentioned over the years. Probably because there is a lack of film footage of the crossing that day. The image has even been captured in the D-Day tapestry on display in Portsmouth in Hampshire.

Luck
Our Dad was one of the lucky ones that made it off that beach and through the war; going on to raise a large brood of 6 children.  Finally succumbing to several strokes and passing away at 62.
Like most Veterans of war, my Dad rarely mentioned anything about that period and indeed became an expert in deflecting any questions about it. If there were remaining ‘demons’ of that terrible conflict, he kept them to himself, and we would never have known. That ‘time’ was not one of counselling or being encouraged to talk about such things as post-traumatic-stress-disorder.
We grew up with many ‘sort of cousin’s ‘, extra people, treated like relatives in our already large family. They were children of other No 4 Commando’s, both living and dead that were enveloped and supported in the fellowship of my Dad’s Commando  mates  and himself.

Lessons

He taught me many things, such as the importance of laughter (he was always having a belly laugh about something!); perseverance (giving up on anything was never an option) and  how to grow things: flowers, vegetables, people.  I remember when I was about 9, during a D-Day commemoration the BBC were using the above picture and movie clip . I asked my Dad “why is your  picture was on the telly, what are you doing?” he replied   “oh, that’s just me going to work in a boat”.

*Mindful of the sacrifice of many and forever grateful. Lest We Forget.

 

 

Automating Numpties


Being ‘busy ‘ has become the ‘new black’ , it is trotted off the tongue of all you meet, like a proud panacea for not doing this, that or the next thing.  I am as guilty as the next, indeed I used to say that ‘busy is my starting position’;  and so as a reminder that there IS only ever 24 hours in a day, nominated a full day to being determinedly NOT busy and to practice the art of ambling and generally having no real plan for each minute of the day. Of course this was fairly easy in the confines of the menagerie but I did need to do two main things on the appointed day, but decided that was fine, as long as there was no rush. The first stop, the bank.

Busy Banking

My local branch is not large, so you can imagine my surprise when I was greeted inside by a flash new fit out, complete with a ticket machine just inside the front door, with a large sign inviting me to “Take appropriate ticket”, ok, I will play.  Let me see….three choices A,B or C. A was unhelpfully labelled ‘Transactions’, isn’t everything you do in a bank a transaction thought I? but as B and C seemed to be two forms of enquiry I followed the herd and pressed the already worn A and was rewarded with a small bit of paper bearing a giant number A93, hmm time to look up and survey the queue. Apart from the new paint job, the branch had a new teller counter with four slots , two of which had actual bums on seats; and six small cubicles had been popped around the side walls. The middle contained a small square of brightly coloured cube seats, covered in fidgeting people and a long queue of about 25 fellow ticket holders, whose faces showed varying degrees of agitation.

Robots

My musings were interrupted by the booming of a disembodied electronic voice saying “Ticket B 103 to counter 2″…> good thought I, we will nip through this queue in no time (completely forgetting that I had all the time in the world today). But nope, nobody moved……slight pause and another two numbers got no ‘winners’ in the crowd; then an A number found a matching pair of feet that shuffled to the counter.  This carried on, with roughly every seventh number called actually having a person attached; clearly the machine needed adjusting or folk were more impatient than myself and left before being granted a conversation with a person; but with each wrong number the crowd tutting  got louder and the queue was growing. The stoic two tellers seemed oblivious, and barely looked up between people; as did the three employees in the cubicles, nil of which were serving people, and all intent on the screens in front of them….I am guessing they were the B and C numbers that folk don’t press. The woman behind me said ” whatever happened to just calling ‘Next’ ?”…quite, I nodded in queue camaraderie.

Taking Root

Just as I was taking root in the carpet tiles, my lottery ticket matched the robot voice and I won an audience with teller one; a helpful , grey faced young  chap with well chewed nails apologised that I had to wait “8.22 minutes”, he gestured to his small screen linked to the robot voice, and its recording of my initial button press. No problem says I, I just want to pay in this cheque [I know! an actual cheque in this day and age, but some kind soul had taken the time to write on it and put it in the snail mail to me; so the least I could do was hand deliver it back to its bank of origin and complete a two week loop!] Teller one is saying ‘do you know you could have deposited that in the machine at the front, beside the ticket machine?’, no, well I had seen it but thought I would only be here a moment or two; ‘I will show you’ he offers helpfully and starts to get up (to the horror of the queue behind me), no, I will be fine protests I’………but then appears a cubicle inhabitant to his rescue; a prepubescent vision in fuchsia polyester, ‘let me help her Tom, you are far too busy” she says and flutters her lash extensions at  Tom, the obvious object of a crush. The queue heaves a collective sigh of relief and my crowd eviction moment passes.

ATM input

I will be fine from here says I, as Miss fuchsia points out the cheque eating machine, ‘NO’ she says firmly, I will wait and show you…….(obviously my invisibility cloak of gardening cardigan and no makeup was nicely disguising my IQ); with her new found authority she showed me the slot to put the cheque in ‘oh, so I just put it in there?, how clever quips I’, ‘NOT until the machine tells you’ says she, I wouldn’t dare! laughs I, “press the button marked deposit cheque’ I am instructed, what now? are you sure? says I, attempting sarcasm , but Miss fuchsia doesn’t seem to mind as she is zoned out and inspecting her glitter tipped acrylic nails and, finding a gap in the glitter she inspects it closer. I resisted the urge to tell her she would find the missing glitter lodged in her keyboard under the F  shortcut key to her facebook page; which is what she was looking at when I was taking root next to her cubicle.

Memento

‘Do you want a receipt?’ she asks, as a final act of kindness to the numpty in the cardi; ‘ohh yes please’, I have been here for so long now I feel I should have a memento of the occasion and of this 20 minutes of my life that I wont get back. Having reached the end of the glittery ones attention span she reached over me and pressed the receipt button for me and presented me with the wee slip of paper with a flourish of achievement. Now she can get back to her online friends and talk about how busy they all are.

So am now a fully trained operator of the input part of an ATM machine (incidentally, I am convinced that stands for Automate The Masses), and if they add a wee TING noise to the ticket machine at the door I am sure I will respond with a time saving woof like a good little Pavlov.

* Mindful of sarcasm being the lowest form of wit, and learned that my boredom threshold is somewhere between zero and 8.22 minutes.

 

Belief and Bugs

With finger on the trigger and murder in my heart another home-invader was in my sights; and with a small finger movement, was dispatched in a cloud of pongy mist. I would never make a good Buddhist as my attitude to Bugs would always get in the way; especially the Spiders, how could I possibly see one as someone’s ex Aunt Ethel reincarnated and let it cohabit?

The good…

Yes, as the menagerie would attest, I am an animal lover however the sight of the very wee sentient beings that are of the bug family leave me not just cold but intent on annihilation. With the possible exception of Ladybugs and Grasshoppers who both do a great carnivorous job of keeping the smaller aphid critters out of the garden, so they are positively helpful. Actually it is easier to be tolerant of general creepy crawlies when they are outdoors and seem to be doing something vaguely useful; but out of their natural habitat i.e in my house  it brings out the hunter in me, and I am off looking for weapons of mass destruction, which can’t be at all good for my Karma!

I give thanks to the inventor of the Aerosol spray (and the nasty chemicals within) , for without them I may have to actually get close to the bugs to hasten their demise; and I probably couldn’t do that. You see I am a sprayer, not a squisher…..a total wimp in the face of six or eight legged blobs, so if there is no hero to hand to do the dirty work for me I am forced to spray from arms length and run away until the coast (and air) is clear. Of course it’s not good for the environment (the chemicals) but I salve my conscience and balance environmental credits by being super good at recycling and water conservation (promise).

The bad…

Spiders are (of course) the scourge of the earth and the best thing I can find to say of them is that they make pretty webs, which can look spectacular when decked in dew drops in a morning mist; but NOT when you walk into one, as happened to me at the weekend when going under a tree, and the sticky threads stuck to my face and hair…EEEECK!!….. Much swatting and ruffling of hair later I still couldn’t shake the feeling that I had somehow missed the body of the beastie and that it was waiting till I wasn’t looking and would drop down from my fringe in front of my eyes.

…and The Hugli

The puppy  (Aggi the farter) was my saviour after the web in hair incident, as she is rather fond of bugs, and frankly will eat anything. All I had to do was retreat from the web to the indoors and roll-around on the carpet with the wee one for 5 minutes; a good licking and hair grooming ensued and I felt not only bug free but well loved…..if there had been any bug in my general vicinity, believe me it would have been eaten. Must say that the first time I saw Aggi eat a bug I felt ill, but now view it as a great help around the house.

Aggi is (of course) cute as a button’, unfortunately , her penchant’ for eating anything from Chook poop  and bugs to socks doesn’t leave her smelling so sweet (hence her nickname). Am going to experiment with adding handfuls of mint to her food to see if it improves the air quality, will let you know how it goes. *Mindful that tolerance levels could do with some work, but thankful that fur baby hero’s give good hug. 

 

 

Amature Guerrilla

As a long-term want-to-be “guerrilla Knitter”, this week I finally gave in to this fluffy urge to wrap inanimate objects in knitted colour. I started small (see picture of stapler below) as it occurred to me that a woolly jacket for this utility item would not only add some texture but also has a practical purpose; a padded gentle platform for the hand when stapling many documents and its winter here so (if required) it can double as a hand warmer! Safe, fun and warm. Suddenly this most basic of desk items has a whole new appeal, I only wish I had had more colourful wool to hand when the compunction to knit overcame me.
If you are not familiar with the Guerrilla Knitting movement, a quick Google will tell you all you need to know about this peaceful, clandestine wrapping of our world, one colourful object at a time. Today a stapler, tomorrow a satellite dish! It’s important to have ambition.
Woolly origins  and the invincibles
I can trace this long-held fascination with knitting back to when I was seven and my Nana taught me to knit squares ‘for the babies in Africa and the poor’; knitting squares from any odd bit of wool was very “in” then, as I seem to remember all my friends being urged to do the same.
These squares were taken in batches to a gaggle of earnest women in invincible cardigans, who huddled in the church hall and sewed them together into regulation covers for the needy. Even in my tender years I could see that it was a great excuse for the women to have a right old gossip, and the noise levels   made your ears hum.

The long experiment
The bit that never made sense to a very young me was why the African babies would need wool blankets?…all I knew of Africa at that stage was that it was hot and had Lions and I was pretty sure that a blanket wouldn’t stop a big cat. I did run my doubts by Nana but she did her usual diversionary tactic of getting me to concentrate counting rows and making the squares a regulation six inch square size…….’but why squares Nana?’ asks me,’ because if I knit big long strips they wont need so much sewing together’ says I , chuffed that I had thought of a way to get the ‘needy’ warm quicker…….she laughed and told me to ‘haud-yer-wheesht’ which roughly translated from Scottish means be quiet and is a mild scold… ‘nobody likes a smarty pants down the church hall’, she added to make sure I understood my wheesht should be haud down there too!.
Instructed to just knit in six inches…….a ‘but why?’ resulted in a lecture on how they have to be that size as ‘most folk only have six inch rulers and not the luxury of ones with the full 12 inches’; she had an answer for everything my Nana and it was an early lesson in conformity and not rocking the boat; for rocking the boat in a small town was considered a heinous crime. She did however give me all her odd bits of wool to run my own creative project AFTER I had finished many uniform blocks of garter stich; and I turned the bits into the longest scarf, complete with wool joins, holes and knobbly bits. A stunning edifice, I wore it with everything until it vanished one day and nobody in my house owned up to having seen it. but I digress………………>

Other creations

This week, in addition to the stapler warmer I also fashioned a cute little egg cosy in red ( an item from a bygone age, where people had so much time to eat breakfast that they needed to keep a boiled egg snug!); however, when I went to get camera to take a pic.  Aggi (puppy) ate it; she is a Labrador, what can you do ‘sigh’.  Pooper scooping was therefore more colourful than usual and she managed to have a poo that looked like it was wearing a wee woolly hat! (too much info I am sure), so I am chalking that one down to my first outdoor wool bombing (all be it via the puppies insides)…..now that’s what I call clandestine!!

Future projects

Driving by the local primary school this morning I had a ‘light-bulb moment’ for there was the Lollipop man, patiently ushering the kiddies across the road in the rain and his poor hands looked frozen on the lollipop pole ***‘I could cover the pole in fabulous knitting thought I, that would not only look fantastic but warm his hands and I wonder if you can get luminous wool?? coz that would make it safe for the kiddies on the road too’. Clearly it will take more  planning, as I would need access to the pole to get the right measurement; but how do you ask a lollipop man if you can measure his pole without arousing suspicion?

PS: I would offer to make you all a stapler cosy but the delivery time could be anywhere between one and five years if the encounter with Lollipop man does not go well. Besides, I don’t think they let you have knitting needles in prison coz of the pointy ends ;which is a shame as I am sure they have time on their hands and could make great stuff. Maybe it isn’t because of the pointy ends, maybe it is because they could knit themselves a rope ladder and escape?

* Mindful that creativity knows no bounds but community norms can be barriers in themselves.

 

wooly stapler

Yes, it does work with the cover on!

 

images[7]

 

Uncommon Ailments of Menageriness

Irritable Owl Syndrome is  the ailment  our semi-resident frog-mouth owl must be having now that we have interrupted his food supply. In addition to the ever prowling cats, we have added some mouse traps in the garage as the wee rodents are attracted to the chook feed store. Poor frog-mouth doesn’t look happy of late and now has to go further than our back garden for his tea; not that he ever does look happy, but who would with a name like that!

Even the puppy isn’t immune to the odd illness and, (as a result of my experiments with Paleo inspired bread making) now seems to have developed Flaxtoast Intolerance’; defined as an intense dislike of my flax seed and coconut flour bread, the symptoms of which result in her giving the best sad-eye pathetic looks to ‘himself” until he caves in and makes her some vegemite toast from his own wheat flour laden loaf to make her feel better.

Influhenza only seems to be fowl based (Not THE bird flu) and manifests in intense flapping of wings and squawking when the pigeons get into the coop and try to pinch their seed; the noise certainly gives me a headache so I can only imagine how they feel.

The cats main complaint seems to be Hypurrtension, the stress  trigger point of which is the critical moment when you have to tip a contented moggy from your lap in order to get anything done. Strangely contagious, at its most active phase it can spread scratch marks to the human thigh.

However, uncommon ailments are not confined to the animals of the menagerie and I have succumbed (on occasion) to Osteopertoesis, which is the intense throbbing of toes following an accidental barefoot encounter with a discarded dog bone. I must take preventative measures by inoculating myself by  wearing shoes.

One of the saddest looking malady’s is currently endured by “himself” who appears to have Sighnisitis ,exhibited by repetitive tutting and shaking of the head closely followed by long exhalations of breath and a sort of hunching of the shoulders……..poor thing, he always seems just fine until he sits down to read my blog; must be a positional thing.

*Mindful of the importance of good health and laughter is not only the best medicine, but also the best prevention

 

 

 

 

 

Invigilated by Stranger

 

A complete stranger Invigilated me last night and didn’t even buy me dinner first! I had taken some preventative Panadol as I suspected it would be painful, still, I expected a little more humanity during the process. It had been many years since such an event had happened, so the memory was a little hazy about what to expect, and as most of the learning to date had been at a distance; this was my first trip to the University.

City Uni

As the Uni is up in the City (and I don’t get out much) I had prepared for the event by rubbing the sock marks off my legs and dressing appropriately…….after all, they say appearances count, so  the look I went for was  from country Ho-Bo to Bo-Ho; at least that is what I was aiming for, but may just have made it on one of those syllables……tis a long time since I was a student, but as it happens, I blended in just fine. A right motley crew of would-be brainy types.

he who must be obeyed

The head Invigilator, ( I forgot to mention he had brought his mates to watch) was obviously well versed in not smiling, or indeed  showing any emotion at all;  he had all the animation of a turnip with the colouring to match. Still, there was a quiet authority about him as he blew a few non-existent cobwebs from the PA mic and started  our relationship with the fore-amble…blah blah…safety, blah blah ‘one bell take note but don’t move’….blah blah ‘two bells Il see you in the car park’…..blah blah toilet…Wait, I should have listened to that more intently as this session was going to be for three and half hours….and then, with both arms pointing at the giant clock (in case we had somehow missed it) we were given the signal to do something with the neat pile of paper in front of us.

the watchers

This is when the head invigilators’ mates sprung into action; like silent snoops they drifted amongst us, checking our personals nick knacks (ID’s that we had been told to put on display….note to self..should have had a new pic taken for driver’s licence….) and checking pencil cases for illicit information that may have slipped in there in cryptic note form between the pens.

archaic

On the subject of pens, in this day-and-age why would we even be needing such a thing?…….why , since my last exam ( many moons ago) has there been no progress into the use of a simple (cheat proof) word processor for use in exams?……..what kind of  thinking has made exams the last bastion of writing by hand ?. Why not go the whole hog and give extra points for using other instruments with ascending degree of difficulty?…….extra points if you use a leaky Biro that has been through the wash; more if you adopt the blunt pencil and left the sharpener at home and top marks if you can struggle through the writing of ten pages using a quill and ink.

relief

And then, as if we had been transported by academic Tardis , it was over, and the neatest thing on the page was my name in the top corners. I was going to add a wee comment on the last page about my internal spell checker being broken, but the exam,Mr turnip head and his mates had fair sucked the joy out of me and it was 10pm; way past my funny bones sleep time. The turnip’s calls for ‘silence as papers were  collected’ fell on the deaf ears of  me and the rest of the rabble rushing to leave the scene of the cramped-hand crime. Cast out into the night and dreaming of a hot peppermint tea, there was just one final test in the day; where did I leave the car?

 *mindful  that we can all be doing the same thing, yet feeling it differently…and that there is life beyond the gumboot sloth so I should get out more 🙂

 

The Hen Eulogy

Dear Wilma, we are gathered here today, in this blog to wish you a fond farewell. As you know, we were on unusually intimate terms (*see Chicken Violation Blog), and while it was a shock to find you dead on the nest, it was comforting that you seemed to have passed in your sleep old thing, with your head resting on a pillow of soft straw. There are many lessons to thank you for dear girl:

tolerance and cooking tips: ta for making the new chook ‘Madame’ welcome. Going from a coop of two to three can’t have been easy, as we all know when three females are together, one is usually left out. But you made a great show of backing off and  letting her have the some food scraps………now you and I know it was just the carrots you let her have coz you didn’t like them, but that will be our little secret. On the subject of food; thanks also for being the ultimate benchmark of edibility for some of my food experiments……….the trial cakes you left on the coop floor told me all I needed to know about recipe success…

trust: thanks for sitting very still as we did the regular trim of your flight feathers, your beady eyes never left the scissors once, and I like to think it was out of respect for my cutting prowess rather than fear….

fashion and safety: cheers for the  ‘beaks-up’ on my colour choices, on the busy days when I was mucking out your house in open toe sandals, you clearly showed a preference for the pillar box Red nail polish on my toes as you couldn’t leave them alone, (not something that happened when I wore the pale pink shade; you gave that colour a good ignoring, so you clearly were not a girl into the pastels). I think red must have been a favourite all round, as you didn’t seem to mind when I dressed you up in red reindeer ears at Christmas (so ta for letting me do that too x)  However, with my sandal wearing you did  always have a wee go at the back of my heals…as if, with each peck you were saying ‘where’s your gum boots, where’s your gum boots…..tap tap tap…..sometimes it even made me change for safety reasons….

grounding: still re. the open toe sandal wearing (‘thongs’ in Oz), thank you for all the times  when,stepping in a pile of chook poop had it squelch up between the toes, usually at 5am when doing the rushed food and water routine for you Gals before getting ready for work…That, and having to hose said feet and thongs in back garden  with chilli water first thing, before sun-up made it impossible to feel anything other than ‘grounded’ all day…., and the only place from there is UP :)….

football and gardening: a cherry tomato will always be a wee Wilma football from now on, as you seemed to prefer playing with them to eating them. Not that you always avoided the eating part….which brings me to the thanks for the gardening tip…..that tomato seeds can pass, intact through a chicken and be fertilised on the way; as evidenced by all the little tomato plants that have sprouted in the garden anywhere I spread chook poop!……

And so farewell faithful chook; will think of you every time I see a tomato plant in the petunias. Thanks for feeding us with quality eggs, the entertainment and the life lessons; and if there is a chicken heaven I hope they gave you Red wings * mindful of the small things that aren’t  so little

 

Wilma in antler drag

Wilma in antler drag