Saturday, August 31, 2013

for my sisters


August 2013 is my personal emancipation month.
My 3 year probation ends.

I do wish I could ask you Myon and Annice, what did you think would happen?  What did you think they would do?
I wish I could tell you.  (In fact, why don't you put your big girl pants on and have an honest discussion with Tim and then maybe we can talk.  You want me to accept the consequences of my actions; you should do the same.)

The short version:

We had a meeting where they stated what they accused me of.
And then we had a home inspection.
And then they told me I had to go to counseling but that I had to sign a release so the counselor could speak to the social worker.
And they gave me the schedule for yoga classes.

They did not offer counseling to the kids.
They did not make sure there was any kind of support system for the kids during the 6 months following these accusations that I could not function as an adult much less as a parent.
I am not so stupid as to say anything to a counselor who is reporting back to someone else.
They did not help find babysitting so that I could attend said yoga classes.

In a word, nothing. Nothing.  Nothing really happened.

But what I really need you to know, when you tell yourself you did the right thing, what I really need you to know is how isolating that whole thing was.  For me surely.  But the for the kids.  Who are they supposed to talk to about this?  Tiger kept saying "Tia promised nothing bad would happen."  He said it over, and over, and over again.  And Dragon?  I was a parent who was fully committed.  But I cannot be fully committed yet emotionally removed.  And so for three years we have coexisted in the house- but cannot be emotionally involved.  His father is still always gone.  His grandparents find him, and now his 6 year old sister who acts "just like him" according to our mother, to be very challenging and a lot of work.  He is not exactly a teacher favorite.  Or a coach favorite.  So who do you think he is going to turn to?

I ask you, is this better?

At any rate, it is over.  And karma is a bitch.  I hope you and she talk soon.

as Jaron sings:

I havent been to church since I don't remember when 
Things were goin' great ‘til they fell apart again 
So I listened to the preacher as he told me what to do 
He said you can't go hatin' others who have done wrong to you 
Sometimes we get angry, but we must not condemn 
Let the good Lord do His job and you just pray for them 

I pray your brakes go out runnin' down a hill 
I pray a flowerpot falls from a window sill and knocks you in the head like I'd like to 
I pray your birthday comes and nobody calls 
I pray you're flyin' high when your engine stalls 
I pray all your dreams never come true 
Just know whereever you are honey, I pray for you 

I'm really glad I found my way to church 
‘Cause I'm already feelin' better and I thank God for the words 
Yeah I'm goin' take the high road 
And do what the preacher told me to do 
You keep messin' up and I'll keep prayin' for you 

I pray your tire blows out at 110 
I pray you pass out drunk with your best friend and wake up with his and her tattoos 

I pray your brakes go out runnin' down a hill 
I pray a flowerpot falls from a window sill and knocks you in the head like I'd like to 
I pray your birthday comes and nobody calls 
I pray you're flyin' high when your engine stalls 
I pray all your dreams never come true 
Just know whereever you are, near or far, in your house or in your car, 
wherever you are honey, I pray for you. 
I pray for you

me again:
The funny thing is, I wasn't that angry.  I understood.  But as time went on, I did get angry.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Hilton Head Photos

beach combing after a rain storm
Dragon's outer wall

we left coffee and jelly fish first aid for
friends staying in the same unit
this week
instagram is addicting!
living sand dollar, digging after the storm

linking this post to Smiling Sally's Blue Monday
this week she has a wonderful post about Ringling in Florida

Sunday, August 25, 2013

just woke up from a crazy dream; McJames, Marshall, and Ralph Lauren

I'm interrupting my Hilton Head stories to relate a crazy dream;

last night I dreamt I was out with American Skier Megan McJames and we were on our way someplace but first had to stop by a Ralph Lauren Store because he (Mr. Lauren) was sponsoring Megan and she needed to try on some clothes.

So we stopped, and Ralph Lauren was there (and in my dream had very dark hair and sharp features) and he picked out two yellow garments he thought would look good on Megan.  She went to try them on and I was hanging out at a table with Chelsea Marshall (retired US Ski Team member & Olympian).  When we left, Megan put down her bag for a minute and some woman grabbed for it.  Megan said "hey" or something and tried to reclaim her bag and the woman was wrestling with her, so Chelsea and I said "hit me I'm not competing" and cornered this woman and I woke up.

Totally crazy.

So I checked FIS today and competition has started and Megan is working for points in New Zealand already.

I feel that I should say I have never met Chelsea, although I follow her via various media.  She comes across as an open book and pretty pacifist so I'm not sure that she goes around getting in brawls in designer boutiques.  But I get the feeling she'd cover someone's back pretty darn well.  Plus she's beast strong so there you go.

And PR people for Mr. Lauren.  It is a good idea.  You should totally support Megan. She's got a mega-watt smile and embodies American's Independent Can Do Spirit.  She was on the US Ski team and was good enough to be in the Winter Olympics in Vancouver.  Then she was sidelined by an injury.  She came back, she earned a NorAm title (which means she earned the right to compete in World Cup races the following season) she got cut from the team anyway.  She went Independent and won the NorAm over all.  This year her sights are set on Sochi.  (and because she is independent she is paying for her own travel, her own technician, her own room & board, her own training runs, her own coach...)

I really, really, want my husband's company to sponsor her but it is a small company and he's waiting on some business deals to finalize so he knows what capitol he has.  Meanwhile, the season has started already.

You can keep up with skiing at Alpine Press
You can keep up with Megan McJames here

Saturday, August 24, 2013


I need to whine really quick:
my computer and my phone are not talking to each other any more.
This means I cannot access the photos on my phone without the arduous process of emailing them to myself, opening my email on my computer, and downloading them.  Royal pain in the behind.  As they are both made by the same manufacturer I feel betrayed. (although I'm sure upon closer inspection I will find that my computer is 1.) hopelessly outdated 2.) over due for a variety of upgrades 3.) told me that already, multiple times.)

Friday, August 23, 2013

Beach Week is Bike Week

getting to the beach, getting too big for the trailer
ready to ride
Biking - we don't bike that much as a family (which is sad really) until our Hilton Head beach week, and here we bike everyplace.  The Island has walking/bike paths everywhere.  The Shipyard, the area where we stay, has bike paths everywhere too.  Several of the kids have actually learned to ride their bikes here...

This week it was Bitsy's turn to learn to ride.  She wasn't highly motivated at first, but a squished ride in the trailer helped change her mind.  And the incredibly patient K, her 15 year old sister.  

On Monday I spent nearly 40 minutes working with Bitsy and every attempt ended in a crash landing.  She hit mailboxes, shrubs, landed in pine mulch a lot... it was a rough beginning.  Got me thinking though, in bike riding and in much of life, if you spend too much time looking at where you don't want to go and thinking about where you don't want to go, you inevitably end up exactly there.  You have to look at where you want to be.  I think I need to tattoo that to my forehead.

woohoo! on two wheels!

Tuesday K took over.  By Wednesday we were seeing quite a bit of progress.  And Thursday Bitsy rode her bike to the beach.  Yay!  She still needs help getting started but that will come.

Admittedly there was bribery involved.  When we teach them to ski, if they fall they get "falling down cake."  Because you have to fall to learn to ski.  So... she got to choose a desert each day for accomplishing a little more.  First it was ride around the little circle in the cup-de-sac one time. The next day ride around it two times.  The next day ride to the beach. Etc.  She kept saying she wanted ice-cream.  Now, remember, my husband is vegan.  It has been along time since these kids have seen him buy ice-cream.  Bitsy went to the store and chose some artificially colored and flavored push up pop thing - my other kids were so disappointed.  The second day she chose Hello Kitty Popscicles, again, major disappointment.  So Thursday after she rode to the beach her god-father took matters into his own hands, instead of going to Piggly Wiggly to shop they went to Harris Teeter where she chose a "sinful white cake" and he chose chocolate ice cream to go with it.  Turns out the white cake had cheese cake icing.  We were in heaven! 

M biking home from the beach
one of those tandem attachements 

last day; bit of an accident

On his way home from the beach Tiger had a bike accident and scuffed himself up a bit. Luckily he's pretty tough.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013


One of the fun things about Hilton Head, at least for my family, is the alligators.  You don't see them in Virginia. Or at least, not in our part of Virginia.  And I don't really know their prevalence in South Carolina, but we always see them here in Hilton Head.  Last year the kids started fishing in the little lagoon (? do you call it a lagoon?) off the back of the house. (The Unit we stay in in the Shipyard is a single house, really nice; 3 bedrooms, laundry, kitchen, bike storage...) which is something of a challenge when there are alligators roaming the water as well.

Dragon in particular has been chomping at the bit to get out there and fish.  Last night he was trying to fish and the alligator swam by... problem was... Dragon had just caught something. (I do not know fish, feel free to identify)  He fishes catch and release for several reasons; 1. he doesn't have a fishing license, 2. I am pretty sure you shouldn't eat anything that close to a golf course: pesticide and fertilizer 3. we are (mostly) vegan so even if there were edible fish in there his dad wouldn't let him eat it.

So the fish is flopping around after having been de-hooked and Dragon is trying to decide what to do with it with an alligator in proximity and went ahead an threw it in.  Pretty sure the gator snatched it up.  Feeding the gators is illegal.  But as Tim said, "if you are throwing a fish back in and the gator just happens to be there..." yeah. Okay.

it was hard to get close, the alligator was definitely keeping an eye on me!

gator in the water

releasing the catch

Monday, August 19, 2013

Hilton Head

Hilton Head, our end of summer hurrah!

Getting there this year was a bit of a challenge; rain and rain and rain made the drive slow.  Driving through North Carolina I think we passed 4 accidents.  Each of which required emergency vehicles and of course backed up traffic.  I find myself sitting in traffic grateful that I'm not the one needing emergency assistance and hoping the person behind me doesn't hit me as we slowly make our way through.  Twice we didn't see the emergency vehicles behind us trying to make their way through.  One was a police car, never realized this before but they are not tall enough.  I drive a minivan and there was a truck behind me, standard pick up truck, and between us we were too high to see the police car a few cars behind us.  So it came up the shoulder.  Later a fire truck came up the shoulder but I had a semi behind me then and there was no seeing anything.

Sea Gulls lines up on the ferry

my co-pilot took this, rain in North Carolina


 But we did make it, and found Island Management and our packet including the pass to let us into the Shipyard and our keys to our condo.  Yay.  We had a dinner of Mediterrean Veggie Sandwiches (without the cheese) and black bean soup and salad from Panaera Bread in the newly renovated kitchen.
Sunday I went grocery shopping with the two little ones while the older ones slept in (teenagers right!) and finally at 10 AM made it to Starbucks for coffee - being highly dependent on my morning cup of Joe 10 AM was cutting it close for me! Got the groceries put away and we made our way out to the beach.

dunes at Shipyard Plantation Beach

I brought my Spanish Reading... I'm reading an essay entitled "The Improbable Empire" by Felipe Fernandez Armesto which is included in "Spain a History." So far this is the most interesting of the essays.  Really enjoying the author's approach.

bedside reading

Reflections for Blue Monday

In August we visit Hilton Head, SC.  My husband has been staying in a unit in Kingston Cove in the Shipyard Plantation since he was 10 yrs old or something like that!

A reflective blue sky for Blue Monday:

morning view from the deck

yesterday afternoon

Stonewall Jackson's Shrine

On August 11th the boys were supposed to have a soccer friendly up near Fredericksburg.  But it has been a summer of rain and storms and the county closed the soccer fields.  That happens.  We were however, 10 minutes away from the field when we received the call.  To get to warm ups at 10:45, we'd our hometown at 8 AM.  At 9 AM at the 295/95 interchange I pulled off to meet Tiger at a Starbucks, he'd been in Wintergreen working on the demolition of our ski house, and one of the guys had driven him to meet me.  So at 10:30 we were well on our way.

The next pull off on I95 to turn around was at the Stonewall Jackson Shrine.  I've driven past that sign for years and never really known who Stonewall Jackson was (I knew he was a confederate general but that is all) and have always been curious as to what is there.

So off we went to explore with all the free time we suddenly had...

Tiger reading

he doesn't look like it (Dragon never does)
but he's listening to the recording

So what you find when you visit the shrine is a parking area, some information (thank goodness because I sure didn't know anything) and then there is a house.  It was actually an office building and is the house that Jackson died in.  It was once a part of the Chandler Plantation that was along the railroad but the War was disruptive to the plantation and of course it relied on slave labor.  So not long after the war it was sold and the railroad bought it and knocked down all the buildings except the office, which is this building.  At some point the railroad donated the building to the National Park Service.  The National Park Service staffs the shrine (we met two of the Park Rangers inside) and they have a web page with quite a bit of information about the site and about General Jackson as well.

the bed he used is in the house

I am now curious to learn more about the General.  He came here to recover after having been shot in the arm (by friendly fire sadly) and it turns out that historical evidence points to his having flu symptoms prior to being shot and that the trauma from the wound (they amputated his arm) masked the symptoms until it was too late.  He died of pneumonia.  General Lee is to have said "he may have lost his left arm but I have lost my right." And there are those historians who speculate things would have gone differently for the South if Jackson had not died.  But he is also said to have been a good person, the sort of man you'd want to meet.  He is not forgotten here in Virginia.  I moved here in High School knowing very little about the Civil War and have noticed since that nearly 1/2 the boys born here are named either  Jackson or Lee.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Maggie's Pink Saturday

My 8 yr old was at my mother's recently and took several photos in the garden with her "phone." [She has her father's old phone from when he upgraded.  Hers operates as an ipod as it does not have phone or internet service.  But the camera works just fine!]

Swallow Tail in Nana's Garden photo 2013-08-11135738_zpsc33fba76.jpg

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Rose at Nana's photo 2013-08-11140526_zps17ec6d42.jpg

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Beverly hosts "Pink Saturday" each week at How Sweet the Sound

Thursday, August 15, 2013

August is always insane

It is August.  If you are a parent who spends anytime at home with preschool/early elementary school aged kids you've hit the point in the summer when the little darlings are following you around "mom" "mom" "mom" "mom" "mom" as if they cannot breath earth's oxygen without being within 2 feet of you and making that sound.  It reminds me of "Finding Nemo"

One starts to feel a bit like the Pelican here... and there are no sails in sight.

And its tradition, one my husband's family began a good 10 years before I met him (at least) we have to go to the beach at the end of August.  This year that beach week starts on Saturday.  Friday there is a wedding.  I haven't seen my husband in 2 weeks.  Maybe longer. And that was for something like 24 hours. (yes, yes, he's slaving away at work and pulling apart the ski house. He can be martyred in another post. This is *my blog*)  Frankly, I'd like to send him to the beach with the kids and I'll stay home in my house and enjoy it, and read some books, and drink some wine and not have to fake how happy I am to see them at the end of the week.

But then... one there is that colossal maternal guilt.  Why doesn't that ever go away?  I don't care if you are a working mom, an at home mom, or one of those saints who does both.  You still feel guilty all the damn time.

And then I happened upon a blog post from 2009, the August before all hell broke loose, and the kids are so cute and so happy.  It is a great trip.  And my husband usually cooks at least 1/2 the time, and makes rockin' margaritas.  And sometimes I even get to paint.  So it's off to the beach, to marvel at the similarities between Bitsy and Sea Gulls, and try to squeeze in some time with my oldest  before she gets all grown up on me. (She spent last week away with her dad and I missed her like heck and she came back inches taller and without braces and looking all womanly. What the heck!?!)

Hilton Head, view from the porch

Painted that there a few years ago.  Promised myself that I will clean out my cluttered art space and post old sketches and old paintings for sale.  This is one of them.  Course, I have to find it first.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

More Badajoz

Well! I never knew! During the Napoleonic wars there was a siege of Badajoz... the French held the city and the English/Portuguese wanted it to cut off communications or something and laid siege.  According to Wikipedia, Badajoz had withstood two sieges already.  It seems it was quite a battle.

But Wikipedia did have a diagram of the city.  So you see the river, and there is a thin bridge running across it.  There was still a city wall and gate towers on the city side of that river in 1980.  And I lived just beyond.

Wikipedia notes references to Badajoz in popular culture.  I find all of this fascinating having lived there and never known anything about it.

Popular culture[edit source | editbeta]

In Thomas Hood's poem Faithless Nelly Gray (1826), the protagonist tells Nelly that, "At duty's call I left my legs, In Badajos's breaches."
The plot of both the novel and TV adaptation of Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe's Company, revolves around the events of Badajoz. Richard Sharpe, and his handful of chosen men are finally successful storming the walls and holding them till reinforced, after many other attacks had been repulsed.
The Spanish Bride by Georgette Heyer is a historical novel which opens with the taking of Badajoz (spelled “Badajos” in the novel) and tells the story of the marriage of Juana de los Dolores de León (the Lady Smith after whom the town in South Africa was later named and who died in 1872[14]) and Brigade-Major (as he was then) Harry Smith. The same story formed part of the narrative of "The Other Side of the Hill" by Peter Luke.
In An Act of Courage by Allan Mallinson his hero Matthew Hervey is imprisoned in Badajoz in 1826, and recalls taking part in the siege. The bad behaviour of the British troops is emphasised; indeed, Hervey kills one of them himself.
The siege of Badajoz is also the setting for Old Sam's Christmas Pudding, a humorous monologue by Marriott Edgar featuring Sam Small, the character created by Stanley Holloway.
Ra's al Ghul, a near-immortal supervillain and arch-enemy of Batman claims to have led the siege on Badajoz after being foiled in his search for the Holy Grail, in the Batman comic The Chalice.

September 2013;
For JJ who may not see this but anyway;
In the book "We Saw Spain Die" Foreign Correspondents in the SPanish Civil War, page 299 begins an account of the Nationalist capture of Badajoz.  This is by the correspondent Jay Allen.  Jay Allen was also the first (not sure if only) foreign correspondent to interview Franco.  He was in Lisboa (Lisbon) when he heard about Badajoz and set off to find out for himself."What he wrote about Badajoz would cause Jay to be vilified for years after.  More importantly, what he saw was to haunt him for the rest of his life." pg 300
Jay Allen wrote:
Elvas Portugal August 25, 1936
This is the most painful story it has ever been my lot to handle....
I have come from Badajoz, several miles away in Spain.  I have been up on the roof to look back.  There was a fire.  They are burning bodies.  Four thousand men and women have died in Badajoz since General Francisco Franco's Rebel Foreign Legionnaires and Moors climbed over the bodies of their own dead through its many times blood-drenched walls."

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Badajoz, Spain

So as I said in the previous post, I'm having a go at Spanish History.  I picked up "Spain: A History" by Raymond Carr at the library.  It is comprehensive, and I've muddled through Phoenicians and Visigoths so far which brings me up to the Arab invasion I believe.  Not yet close enough to give me much to go on in regards to the Civil War but interesting non the less.

When I was nearly 10 years old we moved to Spain.  My father was an Air Force pilot who had taught at the Agressors for 3 years and was assigned to help the Spanish Air Force create a school like the Agressor School.  It was an immersion experience, different from the experience of many overseas military, we were not at an American Base.  The city we lived in was Badajoz.  I believe at the time, 1980, it was the capitol of Extremadura, although Merida had been in the past and was vying to become the capitol again.  The old city had a Roman era bridge across a very low river (there was a bad drought at the time) and two towers stood at the wall around the city.  Our apartment building overlooked the river and the two towers. (some time ago I posted a snippet about all this & a passport story)

I've dug around for some old photos of Spain.  I didn't have access to a scanner so I just took photos with my phone and then because my phone and my computer seem to have decided not to speak to one another this evening, I emailed them so I could download them... how's that for a run around?

Badajoz, Extremadura, 1980 photo spain_zps6c37fb88.jpg
traditional dress

My Fourth Grade class at Puerta Palma participating in a feria I believe.  Sort of a celebration of traditional Extremadura, I remember going to a weaver's and learning some really wonderful folk dances and my mother borrowed a full costume from a friend: wool tights, wool skirt, velvet top, fabulous necklace, shawl... hair up with red flowers.  I am all the way on the right in the flowered shawl.  Some where there is a full photo of me in the outfit, front and back, but I cannot find it.

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photo album, Uca in folk dress
Alhambra, Granada, Spain photo spain2_zps961b8752.jpg
Granada, The Alhambra

Spain, Castle Ruins photo spainsteps_zps25f7cf91.jpg
Seems all my memories involved old ruins made of stone.  There was a park not too far from the house, and an old ruined structure and we'd go play there.  There were ruins on the outskirts of the city that I remember, they had what we thought were catacombs in the lower level.

Sevilla 1980 photo spainfamily_zps75312cd7.jpg
Feria de Sevilla

I need to dig through my mother's old albums. There are amazing photos of the Feria de Sevilla. It seems to me this picture was taken shortly after our arrival to Spain, which doesn't make sense chronologically because I thought we arrived in November and it looks awfully warm in those pictures.  Well I just googled "Feria de Sevilla" and Google says that the fair usually begins two weeks after Holy Week, so it was in the spring.  Either way, it was our first feria.  The other pilots' wives dressed my mother up in something with a red shawl and red earrings and out we went into the tents.  I was pleased to be allowed to drink Orange Fanta.  Like everything else, Fanta taste differently in Spain than it does in the United States.  I don't know why.

Sevilla 1980 photo spainsevillana_zps2d4133a5.jpg
la Sevillana

I'm in the braids.  So the following year we went back to La Feria, and we had Sevillana dresses that my mother made for us.  Yes.  I can't find pictures of that either.  I only knew one dance, and danced it a few times, but there are many and the other dancers wanted to dance the one, and then the second and so on so unfortunately I was a bit of a disappointment to them.  But the Fanta was good.

hmmm... seems I wrote some of this before too: Badajoz and there is a picture of my dad bull fighting.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

"Once you write it all down it is all gone"
Ernest Hemingway
For Whom the Bell Tolls

My father bought me that book.  I can't remember when.  I know he bought it because we lived in Spain for a time, and I am tempted to say he gave it to me while we were there.  But I would have been in 4th grade.  The book is a bit heavy for a 10 year old.  I did try to read it, whenever it was that he gave it to me, and there are even notes in the margins of chapter three.  But neither the notes nor the handwriting tell me how old I was.

I picked it up again because so many people who like to write and who truly like books enjoy Hemingway and I've never read one of his books.

And now it has me thinking about Spain.  And the history of the country as I don't know it.  I lived there for a year and a half or so, but I was just plopped there as I was plopped in so many places.  So I went to the library and picked up some books on the history of Spain, and the Spanish Civil War.  And we will see if I can make heads or tails of it.

I think my dad would be pleased.  That the book is pushing me to learn more about history and  specifically a war that I didn't learn about in school.  A war that seemingly has no significance to anyone outside of Spain and yet perhaps it is wrong to say that.  Franco and Hitler were in communication no?  And some 2 to 3 thousand Americans fought in that war, isn't that so?  They say the Korean War is the forgotten war.  What about Spain?

I like that quote.  It is why I like scribbling and why I think blogging is so popular.  You get it all written down and with a blog you have the opportunity to have an audience as well.  Somehow having an audience authenticates the experience.  The flip side of course is that because of that audience you may find that you censor yourself.  I do.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Weekend in the Mountains

As I mentioned previously, the mountain house is under construction.  But before they ripped out the main floor, and the walls, and the kitchen, we spent two weekends up there shoveling gravel and digging ditches and redirecting rain run off...

Family work weekend/Mountain time:

building up a "run off" away from the house photo 2013-07-21112508_zps9da66ac8.jpg
building a slope to run water away from the house

More Shoveling photo 2013-07-21113940_zps5f68980d.jpg

shoveling photo 2013-07-21114108_zps0881f15e.jpg
still shoveling

Working Hard photo 2013-07-21112540_zps03292a13.jpg
he always finds the best spot

Thalia, 11 months photo 2013-07-21112622_zps36cefbd6.jpg
she hates not being a part of the action
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best place for morning coffee

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telling stories

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Hiking photo 2013-07-29161441_zps6c297047.jpg
always need to have at least one good hike

Wintergreen, Founder's Overlook photo 2013-07-29161535_zps729b0da4.jpg
founder's over look

My Tribe photo 2013-07-29161637_zps92f127ff.jpg
the whole tribe