BASEBALL – WHAT’S WITH THE LICK AND WIPE RULE?

We must confess that the Major League Baseball’s “Lick and Wipe” rule has baffled us since it was imposed a few years ago (better known as Rule No. 8.02 to be specific).  Being confounded about what we thought was just a “bad habit” and concerned that no one was carrying around bottles of Germ-X….we ventured on a quest for an answer.

Mike Pelfrey has a propensity for licking his hand more than any pitcher in baseball. During one game, it was noted he licked his hand a total of 89 times! Wonder what his mom thought about that.

Let us preface all this by saying that we’ve been avid baseball fans since the early 80’s, going back to the good old days of the Atlanta Braves when Bobby Cox was still around and Skip Caray actually narrated the games….nothing wrong with Fredi Gonzalez and Chip Caray mind you…fondly remembering how it used to be. Though a Braves fan through and through, we can’t help remembering Darryl Strawberry (played for both the New York Mets and New York Yankees), with his 6-foot-6 frame, his controversial behavior and one of the most awesome sluggers there ever was. Our curiosity about the rules and regulations abound.

Cyndi noted that in all the years that she sat on the bench watching her kids play T-Ball and Little League Ball, never once was there a discussion about a Lick and Wipe issue; nor a Spit Ball Issue. Perhaps the coaches talked about it with the little guys and discouraged it, but bleacher moms never heard tell of such a thing.

So, with all that in mind Cyndi decided to ask a few men friends their opinion on the rule.

Man #1:  Stated “I dunno, guess it helps ’em throw the ball better”

Man #2:  Stated “Oh, it’s a new thing, you gotta lick your fingers, to get a better grip on the ball, but you gotta wipe the spit on your shirt or the ump will call a balk on you”

Man #3:  Stated “Yeah, they do it just to tick off the umpires”

With all that manly knowledge floating around, something still didn’t sit well within. Jack reached out to the Internet for some realistic information.  Laughable now, but when he did a search on the “Lick and Wipe Rule” he instantly realized his mistake as he was bombarded with Internet porno sites advising who, what, when, where and how to lick and wipe…in great detail. Fearing the worst, thinking the Internet Police or FBI would surely show up at the door, he I closed down the browser and turned the computer over to Cyndi!

Thinking “smart” is always better than just “thinking.”  We next did a search on Major League Baseball rules…there we go.  Rule No 8.02.  For any of you who always wanted to know but were afraid to ask, we share with you (in layman’s terms) the rules for Like and Wipe, or spit ball, or whatever substance must not be used on the baseball!…

It seems the pitcher may not, for any reason “expectorate” (spit, slobber or otherwise drool) on the baseball. Nor may he apply any foreign substance to the ball, rub the ball on his clothing or within the pitchers glove, nor deface or alter the ball by any means. We also learned that the pitcher may not bring his pitching hand up to his mouth or lips while within an 18 foot circle surrounding the pitching rubber (pitching rubber?…oh, what we call the base on the mound).  BUT…if it’s exceptionally cold out during the game, and if it’s agreed by both managers, the umpire may allow the pitcher to “blow” on his pitching hand throughout the game. If the umpire catches the pitcher doing any of the above, he may penalize the pitcher by calling a ball (not a balk fellas); he may give the pitcher a warning; or he may actually eject him from the game and suspend him from up to 10 full games! Wow! The rules do have more “whys,” “wherefores,” and “thou shalt not’s,” but this is the down and dirty of it. Just think if we had this many rules at work…or at home?  You get caught drooling at home…and YOU’RE OUTTA HERE! 

Apparently Cyndi’s three purveyors of wisdom DID have a good point about the whole thing. Having sticky fingers does indeed provide a better grip on the ball, providing the pitcher with a greater ability to throw harder, stronger and more accurately. Therefore, the rules were altered a few years ago allowing pitchers to actually lick their fingers, though they must be off the plate, and they must wipe their fingers on their uniform, hat, etc.  We still think Germ-X should be involved.

It’s interesting to note that these particular rules came about in 1920 when Ray Chapman of the Cleveland Indians took a spitball to the temple from the Yankee’s Carl Mays. Sadly he died from his injuries. In those days, no one wore batting helmets, and whatever substance Mays was using on the ball discolored it and made it more difficult for Chapman to see. That’s why MLB instituted the rules banning foreign substances on baseballs and a requirement that umpires must change out the ball whenever it gets dirty. Which also explains why a team can go through 80 baseballs in a game!

So, there ya go!  Baseball’s Lick and Wipe rules to live by.  By the way, we’re debating if we should go back to some of those “other” websites for a quick sneak-peak.  Don’t tell anyone!

“Live Long and Prosper”

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“The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few… or the one…”

This is just one of several memorable lines attributed to Commander Spock, First Officer of the U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701, in the now-immortal series “Star Trek” (before you start berating me about accuracy, he was the captain in rank and position on the Enterprise when he first uttered those words). Yes, of course, the exact words were actually written by screenwriters or even added by the producer of “Star Trek 2- The Wrath of Khan”, but it was the performance of Leonard Nimoy, the actor who brought Spock to life, who made the words iconic even thirty-plus years after the movie played in theatres.

Mr. Nimoy left us last Friday, February 28, to boldly pass into the Final Frontier that awaits us all. I, and my wife, had opportunity to see him at a convention in 2004 as he spoke before a standing-room-only gathering of Star Trek fans. He happily answered questions from my fellow Trekkies about anything, but I was most amused by the few fans who give us genuine ones a bad name; they kept asking him about his next role and, worse, the next time we would be Spock onscreen again. He politely answered that question each time, “I’m retired.” His days (then) were occupied with his photography hobby. It became laughable each time he was repeatedly asked that question, and he took it in stride with never a moment of frustration.

We signed up for a professional photo with him, and we waited our turn at the scheduled time with a combination of patience (like Spock) and excitement (like true geeks). By now we had already been to a few Star Trek conventions and had already gotten into the groove of what to do at these events, and how the stars acted and reacted with their fans. Many stars were content to just be in the picture, just like Santa Claus is part of the background for children’s Christmas pictures; others were more personable… but when it was our turn Mr. Nimoy first shook our hands warmly, thanked us for coming to see him, and took us in his arms like we were family and held us tightly close for the picture. It was the most memorable picture we ever took at a convention, although my picture with Julie Caitlin Brown of Babylon 5 was definitely and unquestionably second high (and that is another story for another day).

Back to the legend that was Leonard Nimoy, and his immortal portrayal of the hybrid alien Spock. I watched the original series in first-run, and then never missed it after school when it aired in syndication. In high school and college I watched it whenever possible on TV. Then when home video recording came into being I recorded Star Trek, and then started buying the video tapes of Star Trek, and finally the DVDs and today Blu-ray. It was Spock’s continual study of a situation and logically seeing through the wrong answers before arriving at the correct one that became my core motivation in life, although I had an occasionally bad recurring occurrence of making mistakes in my own life before finding the correct answers at some point and to some degree. But at his character’s core there was a single truth that continues to bear fruit today, and will long into the future after we are all long-gone: logic will always win out.

Sadly, Mr. Nimoy, along with DeForest Kelley (“Bones”) and James Doohan (“Scotty”), didn’t make it to the 50th anniversary of the first airing of the first episode of Star Trek on TV (September 8, 1966), although he did make it to the 50th anniversary of the filming of the first pilot, “The Cage” (Jeffrey Hunter played Captain Christopher Pike), which was later broken up to be part of the two-part Star Trek episode “The Menagerie”. NBC rejected this episode in 1965 as being “too cerebral” and ordered an unprecedented second pilot “Where No Man Has Gone Before” starring William Shatner as Captain Kirk. The character of Spock was the only one to survive the first pilot to the second… and a legend was born.

This weekend I have enjoyed watching some other programs Leonard Nimoy starred in before and after Star Trek. He was a terrific actor in all his various roles; I remember following him as he starred in Mission: Impossible for a couple seasons simply because he was in Star Trek.

But he was best-known as Spock, and he happily embraced his legacy. His demeanor at conventions was much like that of Spock: calm and serene and, yes, logical.

In the autograph line I took two items: a picture of me added into a promo photo of Kirk, Spock, and McCoy from Star Trek: The Experience, and I had already gotten William Shatner to sign it the year before; the second was the 1998 Hallmark Spock Christmas ornament. I handed that ornament to him, and he commented, “It was very logical that someone would bring one of these,” then happily signed the back of the ornament. It will be a little sad to hang that ornament on the tree this Christmas season.

It was very logical to be sad this weekend, but also this weekend was to remember the warmness and passion that was the incredible and unforgettable Leonard Nimoy. Live Long and Prosper… and Peace and Long Life…

~Jack

Jack Gannon & Cyndi Williams-Barnier

http://www.jandcwordsmiths.com

jandcwordsmiths@gmail.com

GATOR HUNTING IN S.C. – REALLY? WITH A BANG STICK? WHAT’S A BANG STICK?

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A couple of years ago, I came across an article about alligator hunting in South Carolina. Did ya’ll realize that there was such a thing as gator huntin’ season in S.C.? No? Neither…did…I!!!!

I swanny I just can’t keep up. We have deer season, shrimp season, allergy season, oyster season, rattlesnake roundup season, mosquito season, gnat season, the inevitable love-bug season; a virtual plethora of “seasons” here in S.C. But I DID NOT KNOW we had an alligator hunting season! How did that slip by me? Maybe I was concentrating on turkey hunting season! Lots-o-turkey’s ’round here you know.

When I learned of the Alligator Hunting Season, I was compelled to go to the Department of Natural Resources website and check out this thing and review the rules and regulations, not that I’ll be out in a boat searching for gators mind you, but rather I was intrigued by the enigmatic nature of the whole thing (for us southerners, that means “strange”).

According to the DNR website, the state was divided into four ‘Alligator Management Units.’ Who would’ve known?

Unit 1 is the southern coastal section
Unit 2 is the middle coastal section
Unit 3 is the midlands section
Unit 4 is the Pee Dee section. In looking at the map, it seems there should be a Unit 5 for the upper NW part of S.C.; however it’s listed as “No Season.” Perhaps the alligators boycotted that part of S.C. and refused to travel that far north. Maybe they fear the prospect of being called a ‘Yankee Gator’ venturing north bound.

It seems 300 permits and tags were issued per unit and apparently it’s a no-no to hunt outside the unit you’ve been assigned to. It didn’t say what they would do to you if you crossed the “border” but I’m shakin’ in my boots! The site told us that gator hunting season opened in September, darn I missed it, and follows suit for about a month to October. We get a whole month to chase our golf course loving friends. BUT, we must keep in mind that hunters will be selected by a RANDOM COMPUTER DRAWING, which leads me to question, is there really that many people out there lining up to hunt gators? Successful applicants will be issued a permit and one (1) tag that allow them to harvest one (1) alligator in the designated Alligator Management Unit (henceforth the AMU).

Applicants will be allowed to hunt in only one AMU per season, and can apply for any number of the four AMU’s, including all units. Apparently selecting the same unit more than once does not increase our odds of being selected for that unit. This is making my head hurt. If successful, we will be selected for one unit only. Oh, and if we’re not successful and our name is not randomly drawn, we do get the booby prize of accumulating something called “preference points”, oh happy day. Keep in mind now, we may not sell or trade our preference points for waterfowl or deer permits. Oh yeah, I forgot about waterfowl hunting season; those darned ducks.

I also learned that gators must be 4 feet or greater in length (gotta remember to bring along that measuring tape), secured and brought to shore in public waters or alongside the boat before being ‘dispatched’. Dispatched? Is this a polite way of saying ‘killed?’ Further, we may not dispatch any of our toothy fellows if they are swimming freely in the water or basking on the bank in the sunlight. What else would they be doing anyway? Further, we cannot bait them in any way by use of baited hooks, set hooks or poles. How then are we to catch these critters so we may “dispatch” them I ask?

I also discovered that I could not use my rifle to ‘dispatch’ them, darn again, but may ONLY use a handgun or bang stick. What the heck is a bang stick? I’ve never owned a bang stick that I know of; wouldn’t know one if I fell over it; it sounds cruel and unusual in my opinion; but I think I might like to have one anyway.

What really gets me is the cost factor involved in gator hunting. There seems to be a $10 non-refundable application fee involved, and a whopping $100 alligator hunting permit fee! For $110 I’M ONLY ALLOWED TO GET ONE GATOR PER PERMIT, WOW! I’m allowed to pay my fees on line, thank goodness, or I would have to drive several hours to one of four different cities in S.C. to stand in line at the DNR office to pay my fees. (I wonder if their lines are as bad as the DMV’s?) I agonize at the thought of buying the fuel and oil for the boat, the cost of our food and drinks for the day, and coolers full of ice that must be purchased to keep our guy “fresh” on the way home from our unit, whichever one we’ve been assigned to? Oh, did I mention, if you’re not from ‘round here, you gotta pay an out-of-state fee (mysteriously the amount was not mentioned) on top of the other fees to get your permit? What’s up with that?

Once I have permit in hand, I can take off for the gator hunt. It was good to find out that others may assist me, the “permitee” in the gator hunt, because I really hate hunting all by my lonesome. However, all my friends must also be licensed S.C. hunters as well, each spending $110 to come along for the fun. Grab the cooler guys, we’re goin’ gator huntin’!

Now, once I’ve secured my gator alongside my boat (by whatever unknown means I’ve caught him) and brought him to the shore and “dispatched” him with my bang stick (still don’t know what that is!), I will be allowed to KEEP my alligator. I guess I can grind him up into gator burgers or fry up some po-gator chips for football season.

But, I will NOT be allowed to sell my gator to anyone for any reason (say it isn’t so). Specifically, the ‘meat, hide or any of his parts’ so says the law.

The confusing news about this whole program is, the money collected is used to support the Alligator Management Program activities, and for the CONSERVATION of the American Alligator in S.C.
Conservation? They’re tell’in us to go ahead and kill off this cold blooded dinosaur, which has been around for millions of years, so that we may further preserve his existence. Huh? Now I’m really confused. My headache’s getting worse.

OMG, and there’s even more! If you hunt the WMA (Wildlife Management Area), one must pay a fee of $500 for that one gator; or $800 if you’re not from ‘round here…if you’re randomly selected from that same ‘ole computer that is.

In conclusion, maybe I’ll be more prepared for gator hunt’in season some other year. I’ll have my money and accoutrements ready, round up my buddies so I won’t have to hunt alone, find that bang stick thing (they probably have them on Amazon), and pray that the DNR computer will randomly pick me so I may travel speedily to my designated alligator management unit! Gettin’ the prize home will be my most difficult task thereafter. Oh, gotta get a big freezer from Wal-Mart or Lowes! Forgot about that.

Take a gander at the DNR site sometime, there’s even more fun rules on there. They may have changed however, because this whole journey into monopolizing on gators seems like a croc! I’m puttin’ away my bang stick and going to bed! Nite, ya’ll.

J&C Wordsmiths, LLC – Authors Jack Gannon & Cyndi Williams-Barnier
Authors of THE TASK FORCE NOVEL SERIES
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I Am Himself, or Am I?

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I now have a title I did not want, at least not for a very long time yet.

I am “Himself”.

You probably said or thought, “What that hell does that mean?” Fair question, if one is not Irish or even of Irish descent. Actually, if I recall from my father and mother correctly, I’m a bit-o-Irish / English / German, meaning I should always be fighting with myself. But, I find that a nice stiff shot of something strong and distilled makes all three parts happy and relaxed.

For years my father explained how he himself became “Himself” (yeah I know—doesn’t sound grammatically correct). He’s always told me that he’d become “Himself” in our family-line when he became the eldest age of any male in the lineage. Well, he did indeed achieve that goal last year on his 82nd birthday.

I’ve spent my entire life attempting to make my father proud of me—I admit that now (although it has always been a personal secret). Dad served 30 years 13 days in the United States Navy; when I add up all my time as a motor route carrier, intern reporter, and manager at my local newspaper, I worked a total of 30 years 245 days (there were breaks for college and working at two other jobs between being a carrier and being a manager). Like father like son…

I’ve always wanted to write stories with hopes of becoming published, dreaming of the day when someone would actually write a newspaper article about me. Dad always said to keep working at it and it will become reality. That was Dad with all his sons: supportive. It didn’t matter whatever it was, he had our backs at all times. A year after joining the “retired community” my partner Cyndi and I presented him with the first copy of our first book and autographed it to him in person in his house. The look in his eyes told me that was the day he was the most proud of me. I’d achieved a lifetime’s dream, and we’d dedicated that first book to both our fathers. (Admittedly, I tried many, many times over the decades to write that book, but it wasn’t until Cyndi and I teamed up that it actually happened; we are a perfect writing team!)

Even with this new writing career quickly developing (four books now written, three short stories, and founders of a new annual local literary festival), my life’s dreams were fulfilled. Dad and I did, however, had one mantra constantly going: “I don’t know how many more years I’ve got in me,” he would say, to which I always replied, “You keep adding them on, give me the ultimate goal for my own life”.

Sadly, now, I know that goal. Commander John H. Gannon, Medical Service Corps, United States Navy–Retired, left to join our Lord and my mother on August 6, 2014, after 83 years and 174 days. In order to pass his achievement (which, for the males in our family, was one hell of an achievement), I have to live to February 12, 2045. By Dad’s definition, however, I don’t become “Himself” until February 13, 2045.

But, according to varied online sources, the true definition of an Irishman as “Himself” is when he is the head of the family or head of the household. In either of these definitions, I am “Himself” now, as I’m the eldest of his two natural sons (I being the elder by 3 years and 137 days) within our family line. So, in true Irish definition, I am “Himself” now… but I won’t truly feel “Himself” until I also beat Dad’s goal and I wake up on February 13, 2045.

What actually brought up this whole dissertation, anyway? My younger brother gave me two items Dad had ordered for himself (no pun intended, promise!) and had just received… but never got to use: a stein-shaped coffee mug and a shot glass, both labeled “Himself”.

So, Dad, I will use these in your memory. You were truly “Himself” in the grandest sense of the word, and I will never be your equal.

But I’m gonna give it my best shot…!

~Jack

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SOUTHERNISMS

Seein’ that we’re both from the south, growing up learning certain “southernisms” is a given. As a writer from the south, it’s doubly frustrating trying to catch those words or phrases that seem to be the “norm”. To people from the northern or western states, sometimes we appear to have a language all our own.

Now y’all sit back for a spell and let us tickle your funny bone with some of the southernism we learned over the years—and now have to un-learn them!

So, to wit, y’all…

Well bless his little heart (usually a polite way to denote that someone did something stupid. “Yep, he got drunk, took off all his clothes and went streakin’ down the street.” “Well I’ll be! Well bless his little heart”. )

Cut the light on/off (Cut is to sever, which one would never do with the lights. I believe “turn” for “flip” would make more sense to those not from the south. Note, in the olden days, light switches weren’t switches, they were round knobs that turned, hence, “Henry, turn the light off.”)

Where’s the clicker? (Are we speaking of the garage door opener? “Oh, you’re looking for the TV remote control! It’s over yonder”.)

Over yonder (A quick way to denote where an object is, usually accompanied by the pointing of a finger or tilting of the head toward the object’s direction. “Boys, it’s right over there; right where ya’ll left it!”)

Over yonder a fer piece (See above definition, but add that the distance isn’t calculable by the person, but the distance is probably several miles. “Mister, to get downtown take that dirt road over yonder and go a fer piece.”)

Don’t get your panties in a wad (A phrase said to try to get the other person to calm down. “It ain’t what ya think honey, now don’t get your panties in a wad”.)

Pitch a fit (To get mad. “Now honey, don’t pitch a fit or get your panties in a wad about what I’m gonna tell you.”)

Ya’ll (A short version of you all – everyone in the room. “Now ya’ll, listen to your grandma!)

All Ya’ll or Ya’ll All (Plural of Ya’ll. See above definition, to include everyone in the room, plus those in other rooms. “If I said it once, I’ve said it twice—listen to your grandma! You got on her last nerve. All ya’ll, that means ya’ll in the back room too, you know I got eyes in the back of my head, all ya’ll kids get outside and play.”)

Britches (Pants. “You got a hole in your britches again? Guess I’ll patch ‘em up”.)

Coke (An illegal white powdery substance – or any canned soda (beer not included.)

Caddywampus (Crooked. “That thar picture is hangin’ caddywampus on the wall.)

Fix’n to (Getting ready to do something. “Hold your horses; I’m fix’n to get to it once Nascar is off”.)

I can’t see through muddy water (My daddy’s favorite saying. I’d somehow end up in the middle of the living room in front of the TV. It was his nice version of “Get the hell out of the way”.)

Shake a leg (To hurry up. “Ethel, we’re already ten minutes late for preachin’, now shake a leg!”.)

Kiss my grits (A nicer way to say “kiss my ass”. “Frank, the Preacher will have to wait. My curlers are stuck in my hair, so just kiss my grits”!)

Slap yo mama (Implies something was very good. “That fried chicken was so good it’d make you wanna slap yo mama”.)

That dog won’t hunt (something that didn’t work – or was a dumb idea. “Junior, you actually went ahead and added ____ to the gas to make the truck go faster? From the beginning I told you that dog won’t hunt!)

Haint (A ghost. “I ain’t goin’ in that graveyard. There’s haints in thar”)

For all ya’ll that understand what we’re talkin’ ‘bout, well, all I can say is your pluff mud is showin’!

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~ WORDS MEAN THINGS – REALLY? ~

image002As writers we know that words mean things, and the complexity of the English language makes for easy confusion or unintentional humor when used by those who are not so fluent in the usage of English … it’s always entertaining to see when newspaper headline writers make such obvious, shall we politely say, poor choices of words? Here are a few beauties we’ve found online with a little commentary of our own flavor for your continued entertainment:

“17 Remain Dead in Morgue Shooting Spree”– Holy Walking Dead, Batman! Those corpses got right up from their slabs, beat up the guards and took their weapons and started killing everyone!

“Breathing Oxygen Linked to Staying Alive”– Unless you are from the Jovian moon Europa and breathe methane…

“City Unsure Why The Sewer Smells”– Because politicians’ poop don’t stink, doncha know?…

“Dam Road Sign Keeps Disappearing”– Well, dam it, quit painting the signs with Acme Invisible Paint! That’s supposed to go to Wile E. Coyote to help him catch the Roadrunner!

“Anthony’s Dry Cleaners Has Been Working on the Same Spot for 15 Years”– They’re so focused that they missed all those OxyClean commercials…

“Fire Destroys Go-Go Bar, Leaves 4 Men Homeless”– And now those poor guys have nowhere to go-go…

“Study Show Frequent Sex Enhances Pregnancy Chances”– And frequently breathing oxygen will create the ability for editors to write headlines like this…

“Governor Will Help People With Gas”– I can do it without raising your taxes: STOP EATING BEANS!

“Lawyers Back Despite The Use Of Bug Spray”– Well, that’s what happens when you rely on the governor to help people with gas…

“People Think Aliens Must Be More Smarter Than Us”– That must be because them thar flyin’ saucers use methane to fly—they ain’t got no lawyers, and they been usin’ OxyClean on their space suits for 15 years…

“Fumes Force Bean Workers To Leave”– Where’s the governor when you need him?!?!?

“Man With 8 DUIs Blames Drinking Problem”– He should’ve used the ol “methane from bean fumes” excuse. The governor could’ve pardoned him then!

“Plane Forced To Land At Airport”– It should have landed on the highway like all the other pilots land their planes!

“Porn Case Has Holes, Lawyer Says”– And to stay abreast of the evidence, he’s running a little behind in his case. That’s the up-and-down of the legal system…

“The Bra Celebrates A Pair Of Historic Milestones This Year”– The cups are running over during this celebration, cross my heart! And as an added bonus, there will be a grand prize and a booby prize at the anniversary party…

“Report Of Unresponsive Man At Malden Casket Company”– He was also noted as being much laid back, as though in deep meditation or with an indifferent attitude. He could have overdosed on oxygen or methane, and was identified as a bean factory worker…

J&C Wordsmiths, LLC

Authors Jack Gannon & Cyndi Williams-Barnier

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