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shift-key. [merely-a-thought monday]

shift key framed

summer is soon going to draw to a close.  it’s august 10 and with today’s feel-like at 96, it’s clearly not anytime too soon.  but soon enough.

this summer has been unlike any other.  in our deference to the pandemic we have limited ourselves to that which we believe shows regard to recommendations given so as not to be responsible for spreading this.  we’ve worn masks.  we’ve social distanced.  we’ve not eaten in restaurants or stood by barstools sipping wine in enclosed spaces.  we haven’t shopped in department stores or had people over in our home, and, differing from every other summer we have had together,  we haven’t traveled.  it has been unlike any other.

but that isn’t the case for everyone.  people have flocked to the beaches and water parks.  people have traveled to hot spots – on purpose, in the name of looking for a break.  people are eating in restaurants and are gathered at bars and at big backyard barbecues.  people are singing in indoor venues and are clustered on sandbars.  people have gone to little towns, vacationing and, with the it-won’t-happen-to-us mindset, placing the locale at risk, placing the locals and the health care system in that locale in a precarious way.  hundreds of thousands of people are headed to or are gathered in sturgis right now.  it’s their summer.  and, if you scroll through facebook, it’s not a heck of a lot different than their last summer.

i read a quote today that spoke to the sturgis crowds.  “there are people throughout america who have been locked up for months and months,” was the excuse for an influx into this town of 7000.  i have to disagree.  any instagram or facebook peek will reveal that people are not locked up; many people have lived summer just like they always live summer:  any way they want.

in the attention-deficit way of america, many people have simply moved on and their temporarily-outward-gaze has shift-key-shifted selfishly inward.  but we are still out here:  mask-wearers, social-distancers, stay-close-to-homers, quietly and not-so-quietly trying to mitigate this time. and we can see the others so we are disappointed, saddened and stressed and we are riding the long-limbo-wave of impossible decision-making.

the masses have spoken – at least in this country – and freedom (read: independence from the government mandating for the safety of all) rules.

but freedom isn’t free, as the old up with people song points out, “freedom isn’t free. you’ve got to pay the price, you’ve got to sacrifice, for your liberty.”

i suppose that our sacrifices count, little as that might be in the big picture.  as this pandemic continues to rage, as chaos continues to ensue, as relationships shatter over disease-disagreement, our not going to wine-knot matters, our crossing-the-road-to-the-other-sidewalk counts, our consistent mask-wearing-social-distancing makes a difference.  it just doesn’t feel that way.  the bigger picture looks bleak and my heart sinks looking ahead, fall and winter just over the we-have-so-many-unanswered-questions horizon.  whether they (in a countrywide sense) are exercising caution or not, our little part is significant.

the up with people song continues, “but for every man freedom’s the eternal quest.  you’re free to give humanity your very best.”

what is our very best?  individually?  collectively?

perhaps a nationwide shift-key would be of value.

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

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messier. more color. [d.r. thursday]

sketch image

heart and strawberry

peter max, a pop-art-expressionist, popped into my mind when david showed me this sketch.  add bursts of color to this and it’s the happy full-spectrum pieces of the 60s and 70s, full of rainbow and light.

one of the presents i received for my birthday this year was a coloring book and colored pencils.  at the time i was unable to use it, but i put it aside for when my broken right wrist might cooperate and i might be able to lose myself in good-old-fashioned coloring.

i dropped david’s sketch into photoshop and started to peter-max it.

the more i worked on it, the happier i became.  it was so messy.  but it was just so – fun.

color – this infinitely wide range of possibility – fills the lines, goes out of the lines, overlaps and bleeds into the next, reminds me that life, even in these very times, times of chaos and unrest and pandemic and exponential worry, is not just black and white.  and, surprisingly, not just the blurry grey in-between.

life is much more peter max than that.  messier.  more color.

which brings me to this:  while it is easy, particularly right now, to sort to grey, perhaps an answer to the myriad of questions is to open the delicious tin of 50 premium artist pencils.  and just color.

yes. as dear jeff used to say, “that’s the ticket!”

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

colorized

early on…just a little bit of color…and infinite peter-max possibilities

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during this time that FB, impossible to contact, figures out i am not ill-intended nor do i post SPAM, i would ask you a favor:  if you have found any post of mine to be thought-provoking or encouraging or reassuring in some way and have enjoyed reading, please “follow” this blog.  you can “follow” it on this post or later go to our website www.kerrianddavid.com/the-melange to find the link to this blogsite.  wordpress will send you an email each day with my 5 day-a-week blog. you can certainly choose to read or not read each day and, at any time, you can choose to “unfollow” the blog.  just as it is your decision whether or not to read my post on facebook each day, i would like to think you still have the option.  subscribing gives you that.  hopefully, FB will allow and restore my written work soon.

 

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“i like your mask.” [merely-a-thought monday]

i like your mask 2

 

i was trying to catch up my calendar – the dollar version – where i write things we’ve done, thoughts, ideas, hikes.  on new year’s day i usually take out the calendar and read the whole thing, a review of the year, so to speak.  post-broken-wrists, not being able to write with my right hand, i kept my calendar on the computer.  somewhere along the way i stopped jotting things down.

now, with pencil in hand, i am trying to catch up.  not only is that impossible, but it’s shocking to see the story-arc of the year.  time flies.  it occurred to me this morning that on new year’s day 2021 i will likely look back and see a year with a vast there-wasn’t-much-we-could-do theme.  it’s consistent.  the pandemic has altered the freedom of moving-at-will, the freedom of easily-gathering-together, the freedom of travel, of ranging around, and any real normal-summer adventures.  a time that, painfully, just isn’t the same as all other summers.  it doesn’t feel the same; it doesn’t look the same.  it doesn’t live the same way.  the impotent months, a time of self-sacrifice-for-the-whole, would seem like a common story for all.

only it’s not.

“i like your mask,” commented the cashier at the home improvement store.  things you never thought you would hear.  our masks are all handsewn; a variety of fabrics, after washing they hang on a hook on the refrigerator, ready.  her mask was solid black and so i, in we-wear-black-all-the-time predictability, actually liked hers.  “what am i doing?” i wondered.  we are comparing masks.  MASKS.  surely this will go down as a 2020 commonality for people.

only it won’t.

with windows open allowing in the moist rain-cooled air of the night, over coffee this morning we talked about common narratives.  it would seem that, of all years, of all times past and, hopefully, times to come, this year would have the most common narrative for all people.  parallel experiences, somewhat indistinguishable in the limitations of a global pandemic, a time of everyone-coming-together, a time of doing-the-right-thing, a time of protecting-each-other, a time of relinquishing selfishness and adopting consideration, even altruism, a time of caring.  to everything there is a season.  a season of commonality.

only that’s not the case.

instead, any perusal through social media will show you that summer is summer and americans are out and about.  according to AAA, nearly 700 million people will take roadtrips this summer.  they are vacationing.  photographs of smiling faces in parks, at beaches, on docks, in boats, by pools, at picnic tables, at parties, in backyards, in restaurants, around campfires – maskless.  the weighing of calculated risk, the weighing of safety.  hopefully, this will not yield drastic results as we each live our lives – the lack of forfeit a contributing factor to more sickness, more proliferation of virus, more death.

we can only hope.

so is it different?   is this summer any different for you than last?  or is it pretty much the same?  what mask are you wearing when you are out and about?  is it all black?  (if so, would you recommend it?  what company did you order it from?) is it fabric?  is it an n95?

or is it invisible?  instead, a mask of indifference, a mask of push-back, a mask of conspiracy theory, a mask of you-can’t-tell-me-what-to-do, a mask of entitlement, a mask of deservedness, a mask of personal-freedom-infringement, a mask of determined independence in a world where actually-everyone-depends-on-the-symbiotic-sharing-and-movement-of-resources, where actually-everyone-desperately-relies-on-healthcare-workers-who-are-watching-people-scorn-that-which-might-help, where actually-everyone-depends-on-each-other-to-get-this-pandemic-under-control-so-that-some-stability-of-life-and-work-and-school-and-economic-security-and-good-health-might-resume.  is it a mask of apathy?

masks. we all wear them.  not just this summer.  people-masks are situational, circumstantial.  masks often depend on who we are with; the narratives we state often depend on who is near.  it’s human.  consistent inconsistency.

it makes me wonder.  in this very human-ness, in this time and any other, if, standing at the checkout at the store, all masks of truth were visible, all narratives open for critique, would the cashier say, “i like your mask”?

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

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#maskenvy2020 [merely-a-thought monday]

i like your mask copy

i was trying to catch up my calendar – the dollar version – where i write things we’ve done, thoughts, ideas, hikes.  on new year’s day i usually take out the calendar and read the whole thing, a review of the year, so to speak.  post-broken-wrists, not being able to write with my right hand, i kept my calendar on the computer.  somewhere along the way i stopped jotting things down.

now, with pencil in hand, i am trying to catch up.  not only is that impossible, but it’s shocking to see the story-arc of the year.  time flies.  it occurred to me this morning that on new year’s day 2021 i will likely look back and see a year with a vast there-wasn’t-much-we-could-do theme.  it’s consistent.  the pandemic has altered the freedom of moving-at-will, the freedom of easily-gathering-together, the freedom of travel, of ranging around, and any real normal-summer adventures.  a time that, painfully, just isn’t the same as all other summers.  it doesn’t feel the same; it doesn’t look the same.  it doesn’t live the same way.  the impotent months, a time of self-sacrifice-for-the-whole, would seem like a common story for all.

only it’s not.

“i like your mask,” commented the cashier at the home improvement store.  things you never thought you would hear.  our masks are all handsewn; a variety of fabrics, after washing they hang on a hook on the refrigerator, ready.  her mask was solid black and so i, in we-wear-black-all-the-time predictability, actually liked hers.  “what am i doing?” i wondered.  we are comparing masks.  MASKS.  surely this will go down as a 2020 commonality for people.

only it won’t.

with windows open allowing in the moist rain-cooled air of the night, over coffee this morning we talked about common narratives.  it would seem that, of all years, of all times past and, hopefully, times to come, this year would have the most common narrative for all people.  parallel experiences, somewhat indistinguishable in the limitations of a global pandemic, a time of everyone-coming-together, a time of doing-the-right-thing, a time of protecting-each-other, a time of relinquishing selfishness and adopting consideration, even altruism, a time of caring.  to everything there is a season.  a season of commonality.

only that’s not the case.

instead, any perusal through social media will show you that summer is summer and americans are out and about.  according to AAA, nearly 700 million people will take roadtrips this summer.  they are vacationing.  photographs of smiling faces in parks, at beaches, on docks, in boats, by pools, at picnic tables, at parties, in backyards, in restaurants, around campfires – maskless.  the weighing of calculated risk, the weighing of safety.  hopefully, this will not yield drastic results as we each live our lives – the lack of forfeit a contributing factor to more sickness, more proliferation of virus, more death.

we can only hope.

so is it different?   is this summer any different for you than last?  or is it pretty much the same?  what mask are you wearing when you are out and about?  is it all black?  (if so, would you recommend it?  what company did you order it from?) is it fabric?  is it an n95?

or is it invisible?  instead, a mask of indifference, a mask of push-back, a mask of conspiracy theory, a mask of you-can’t-tell-me-what-to-do, a mask of entitlement, a mask of deservedness, a mask of personal-freedom-infringement, a mask of determined independence in a world where actually-everyone-depends-on-the-symbiotic-sharing-and-movement-of-resources, where actually-everyone-desperately-relies-on-healthcare-workers-who-are-watching-people-scorn-that-which-might-help, where actually-everyone-depends-on-each-other-to-get-this-pandemic-under-control-so-that-some-stability-of-life-and-work-and-school-and-economic-security-and-good-health-might-resume.  is it a mask of apathy?

masks. we all wear them.  not just this summer.  people-masks are situational, circumstantial.  masks often depend on who we are with; the narratives we state often depend on who is near.  it’s human.  consistent inconsistency.

it makes me wonder.  in this very human-ness, in this time and any other, if, standing at the checkout at the store, all masks of truth were visible, all narratives open for critique, would the cashier say, “i like your mask”?

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

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outraged. and weeping. [d.r. thursday]

Weeping Man copy

weeping man (reverse threading, april 23, 2020):

…this global pandemic is just that – global- and is not discerning of your privilege (or lack thereof).  it does not care.  it can take anyone.  and so we weep.

if there is a painting that depicts the face-holding grief and prayerful yearning for hope, it is this painting WEEPING MAN.

i wonder if he weeps for those who have fallen ill, those who have died.  i wonder if he weeps for those who refuse to acknowledge the seriousness of this pandemic.  i wonder if he weeps for those on the front lines, helping.  i wonder if he weeps for those who have hidden in extravagant bunkers underground in far away countries.  i wonder if he weeps for our isolation.  i wonder if he weeps watching people intolerant of the isolation that will protect others, people who are selfishly and arrogantly protesting stay-at-home orders.  i wonder if he weeps for the unrelenting non-discrimination of this contagion or if he weeps for the divisiveness of responsibility-taking, the it-doesn’t-affect-me attitude.  i wonder if he weeps for the continuance of humanity.  or if he weeps for the loss of humankind.  or, if he weeps for the lack of humaneness.  i wonder if he weeps because, in the middle of this trying and profound now,  Next will come.  i wonder if this painting is tomorrow’s tomorrow and he weeps with relief and hope.

today:

i am outraged.

where have we come since april 23 of that writing?  we have been cautioned.  we have been advised.  we have had the benefit of science, the benefit of research, the benefit of funding, the heart-wrenching benefit of experience.

we have lost 150,000 people.

and we stand to lose many more.

the shifting quicksand of the pandemic threatens to overwhelm our nation, this country fraught with division and a dedication to entitlement.  people argue for their “right” to do-what-they-want because, well, they want to.  the “we-didn’t-get-to-do-this-so-we-get-to-do-that” mode of thinking.  a warped sense of deservedness, i’ve heard it time and again.  to hell with masks, with physical distancing.  to hell with recommendations about gatherings.  to hell with self-sacrifice.  to hell with responsibility.  to hell with leadership, with facts, with example-setting.  to hell with it all.  people-living-in-a-community-called-a-country are left-and-right touting their deserved-rights to live as they wish, to gather as they wish, to travel as they wish, to do what they wish.  and the overwhelmingly whiny justification-among-justifications is because they didn’t get to do what they originally wished or planned or wanted.  wow.

and the pandemic continues.

and the people-living-in-a-community-called-a-country live as individuals more dedicated to their own desires than to the actual good of the country.  to hell with all those people dying.  to hell with all those sick.  to hell with the sanctity of each and every living human being.  to hell with all those lasting repercussions of this disease.  to hell with a spirit of helping.  to hell with a spirit of community.  whose idea was that anyway?

and so we continue to destroy ourselves – in so many arenas.  and the weeping man watches from the sidelines as the divided people lash it out in the stadium, gladiators of precisely what?

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

visit WEEPING MAN on david’s gallery site

other thoughts on WEEPING MAN

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WEEPING MAN ©️ 2015 david robinson


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a dance in the night. [k.s. friday]

slow dance

to sit in the dark.  to watch the flicker of flame on the yard torches.  to stare into the bonfire.  to listen to the crickets.  to feel cool air brush your face.  to walk barefoot in dewy-damp grass.  to slowly swirl, in time to music, in time to your heartbeat, in time to deep breaths.

we all need a break.

instead of a mind racing-against-itself in the middle of the night, we need a dance with slow.  we need a dance of hope.  we need a dance of release.

do you remember how to slow dance…in the middle of the night?

even in the bleakest of times, even in the dark.  the tiniest pinprick of light through an inky sky will remind us of the trillions of stars that are always there.

 

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read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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SLOW DANCE ©️ 2002 kerri sherwood

 


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this world needs you. [d.r. thursday]

thisworldneedsyour WITH EYES jpeg copy

all of us.  we will all need to participate.

this world will never be the same.  we need to ponder, we need to dream, we need to imagine:

a better place, a more fair place, a place that is based on equity and equality, kindness and compassion.  a place that assumes virtue and intends the same.  a place that protects its peoples, that encourages individuals to care for each other.  a place that doesn’t incite rancor, celebrate the weapons of violence, or create enmity and spite.  a place where the downtrodden are lifted up and those with excess are generous.  a place where inhabitants don’t self-aggrandize or strategize to find ways for more-more-more, ways that take from those with less, ways that undermine those in need.  a place that doesn’t normalize language of vitriol, hatred, and antagonism.  a place where all races are equivalent, all genders are respected, all ethnicities are indistinguishably included.  a place where the environment counts and sustaining it beyond our own time on this good earth is a priority.  a place that recognizes the sacred in the out-of-doors, the borrowing of this dirt, this water, this air for the short span of time we are here.  a place where we are always seeking ways to better life for each other, to enhance daily living, health, happiness.  a place of truth.  a place of goodness.

yes.  this world needs your good imagination.  or we will never get there.

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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CHICKEN MARSALA ©️ 2017 david robinson & kerri sherwood

 


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quiet. new chalk. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

life is grace sleep

quiet.  we walk in quiet most of the time.  even our longer hikes are quiet.  it is a time of rest for us, rest from the noise of the rest of life, the noise of worry and angst, the noise of dispute, the noise of too much bad news, the noise of chaos.  we listen to the birds and our footfalls on the trail.  we listen to the wind and the sound of creatures rustling in the underbrush.  the quiet calms us; the quiet lifts the cellophane from the magic slate cardboard, it shakes the etch-a-sketch and takes it all back to zero, back to start, back to a rainwashed driveway waiting to be chalked all over again.

having run out of everest, k2 and annapurna footage we are watching appalachian trail and pacific crest trail and john muir trail videos these days.  on our own treks locally we decide which one of these to take, listing the specific merits of each.  make no mistake, these are serious treks.  the AT is 2190 miles from georgia to maine.  the PCT is 2653 miles from the border of mexico to the border of canada.  the JMT, joining with the PCT some of the way,  is 211 miles through the sierras, high elevation pass after pass.  clearly, the training needed would be intense.  but, as we envision this extended trekking, we are drawn to the quiet.  the noise of this world has become raucous and the woods and the mountains seem to beckon with absolution, with grace, with rejuvenation.

there used to be a button on the cassette player that you could push that would quicken the pace of the tape to the end: fast forward.  it would seem these trails, this quiet, like sleep, would fast forward through the dark and bring you to the light once again.  these trails – this quiet – remind you that next comes.

and so, the noise of the day will cease.  and you can listen to the sound of your footfall on a new day, ready to be chalked.

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

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against all odds, teachers teach. [two artists tuesday]

des plaines

“against all odds and despite all the obstacles, we are going to make it.”  (marilyn monroe)

the desk and the chair were connected and under the chair was a metal book rack.  there were 35-40 of them in my tiered room, which oddly doubled as both my choir room and my eighth grade math classroom.  math 8 was the last period of the day and, to give you a sense of the personality of the class, both of the children who were later voted “class clowns” were in my general math class.  a hot day in florida, the air conditioning was competing with the outside heat and trying to keep tired students at-the-end-of-their-school-day awake.

he was sometimes vocal, but mostly quiet.  he didn’t like math; he told me he didn’t really like school.  his eyes were bright even in his sullen face.  every day i greeted him and told him i was glad to see him.

that day, when he came into the room, i sensed he was even more unhappy than usual.  it wasn’t but a few minutes into my math lesson that his desk-chair came hurtling down the tiers at me.  it didn’t hit me, but back-in-the-day hurling desk-chairs was serious stuff and i, a young teacher at the time, was unnerved.

i think back now about that desk-chair being flung, the way it was all dealt with, the intervention and the caring hearts that were involved.  i think about that young man, whose name i still remember.  i knew back then that against all odds and despite the obstacles facing him,  he had a support system and he would make it.

amid a contemporary rise of real scaled-up violence in schools, less and less is about those support systems, for students or teachers.  resources, help – both are short in supply in public schools across this country.  yet, despite all odds, teachers teach.

i shake my head at the any-day-any-school terrifying concern of shootings in the classroom.  with gun-control-be-damned mindsets determining legislation, children must practice active shooter drills.  despite all odds, teachers teach.

i think about the lack of funding, the lack of supplies, the lack of a sustainable student-teacher ratio.  despite all odds, teachers teach.

and then, i think about this pandemic.  a global threat, this country’s leadership has not risen to the challenge and, in mindblowing checkmate moves, it has mandated that children physically return to schools this fall.  in the middle of an urgent and dangerous contagion, caution is being dismissed, putting children and teachers and administration and support staff at absolute risk.  it’s deplorable.

and yet we know, foolishly mandated, that against all odds, and despite all the obstacles, teachers will teach. that’s what teachers do.

“against all odds and despite all the obstacles, we are going to make it.”

against all odds and despite all the obstacles.

but the words “we are going to make it” beg a quagmire of unanswered questions, deeply concerning worries, and matters of life and death.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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a long while. [k.s. friday]

last i saw you

a long while.

since last i saw you. and you. and you. it is dizzying. the yous and the longwhiles.

it makes me want an RV, updated map apps and a little bit of time.

i’m finding myself talking to people these days – people who have gone on to different planes of existence like my sweet momma or my poppo.  i ask them advice.  i tell them tales of the day.  i bemoan the challenges of our world with them; i wonder with them.

twenty-eight years ago today my big brother crossed over.  the transition of here to there is something of great ponderance for human beings.  we don’t know.  we profess to knowing, but we hardly know.  we only know what it feels like to be left behind, missing and yearning.  i will forever-and-ever yearn to be within embracing distance of my parents, my brother, and loved ones who have no tangible form but whose silken threads-of-being are eternally wrapped around me, always reminding me.

it’s like that for people still here on this very planet, people who we have not seen, people who we pine about when last we saw them.

truth be told, i spent the last couple of days in tears.  not slow-motion-tears that quietly weep down my face.  but the kind of tears where your ribs and your back hurt the next day; the kind of tears that swell your eyelids and make mascara application undoable.  the kind of tears that remind you how much you love someone and how much you miss them.  for me, this time, this was about my children.  it’s impossible to really explain what this missing feels like.  i can say it is wrapped up in the act of breathing, in every aspect of living a day, in the darkening of light.

the pandemic has brought exponential pain to people in our world.  suffering its disease, we worry about those who have been diagnosed, we grieve those who have succumbed to its ugliness, we wrangle with the illogical, implausible, grossly inadequate response of our land.  we are floored at those who are picking fights over this monster that is on a path of destruction which has unfathomable fallout.  we cannot understand the division and the planting of flags-of-the-ridiculous when peoples’ very health and lives are at stake; what truly matters more than that? it’s insanity: how can so many people be so lost? we try to sustain good attitudes and do the right thing.  we try to protect each other.  we try to avoid being a reason that this pandemic is spreading.  and we miss everyone we love in the process.

we wonder:  when?  when will “last” be now?  when will we see you?

and we hope, with great desperation, that it is not a long while.

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read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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LAST I SAW YOU ©️ 1997, 1999 & 2000 kerri sherwood