Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Betty MacDonald, Christmas gifts and the man who never laughs


Anybody can do anything that's what 'Pussy' thinks. Many disagree...
mrs. piggle wiggle, hello_english_cassette_FRONT

Hello 'Pussy' this is Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle:
Why are you a man who never laughs? 

plague_English_1994_paperback_FRONT
  
Should I remain in bed, leave my country or fight against the dragon?

( see also the story by Wolfgang Hampel
' Betty MacDonald: Nothing more to say ' )
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The Egg and I Film Illustration























Betty Bard MacDonald's photo. 

The Betty MacDonald Networks Foto.

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Betty MacDonald's sister Alison Bard Burnett


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Betty MacDonald's mother Sydney with grandchild Alison Beck
Betty MacDonald in the living room at Vashon on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post.
Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle author Betty MacDonald on Vashon Island
<p>Time Out of Mind (1947) - avec Betty et Don MacDonald et Phyllis Calvert</p>

Betty and Don MacDonald in Hollywood

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Bildergebnis für mysterious lady



Betty MacDonald fan club fans,


Betty MacDonald, Mary Bard Jensen, Alison Bard Burnett,   and the other Bard family members enjoyed Christmas very much.

Can you remember the Christmas memories Alison Bard Burnett shared in the interviews with Betty MacDonald fan club founder Wolfgang Hampel?

Who was the most important person in the Bard family during Christmas time?

This person surprises the family with the most beautiful Christmas gifts.

If you know the person, send us a mail please and you are our next Betty MacDonald fan club Christmas surprise winner. 

A very good advice to answer this Betty MacDonald fan club contest question:

Betty MacDonald fan club newsletter December includes a story about this beloved person in the Bard family.
  Deadline: December 23, 2016


We are looking for your favourite Christmas song.

Deadline:  December 23, 2017

Don't miss it, please because you can win several new Betty MacDonald fan club items.

This is my TOP Christmas song. 

I believe this would be the best place for next International Betty MacDonald fan club event 2017:





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If you know the name of this city send us a mail, please and you can win new golden Betty MacDonald fan club items.

Good luck!



Vita Magica December was very successful.

Betty MacDonald fan club founder Wolfgang Hampel invited a very famous author.

The visitors enjoyed Vita Magica very much.  

A great event!







Betty MacDonald fan club founder Wolfgang Hampel interviewed Betty MacDonald's daughter Joan MacDonald Keil and her husband Jerry Keil.

This interview will be published for the first time ever.



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New Betty MacDonald documentary will be very interesting with many interviews never published before.


We adore Betty MacDonald fan club honor member Mr. Tigerli 


Thank you so much for sharing this witty memories with us.


Wolfgang Hampel's literary event Vita Magica is very fascinating because he is going to include Betty MacDonald, other members of the Bard family and Betty MacDonald fan club honor members.

It's simply great to read Wolfgang Hampel's  new very well researched  stories about Betty MacDonald, Robert Eugene Heskett, Donald Chauncey MacDonald, Darsie Bard, Sydney Bard, Gammy, Alison Bard Burnett,  Darsie Beck, Mary Bard Jensen, Clyde Reynolds Jensen, Sydney Cleveland Bard, Mary Alice Bard, Dorothea DeDe Goldsmith, Madge Baldwin, Don Woodfin, Mike Gordon, Ma and Pa Kettle, Nancy and Plum, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle and others.

 
Vita Magica was very witty and enjoyable.


We know the visitors had a great time there.

Congratulations dear Letizia Maninco, Wolfgang Hampel and Friedrich von Hoheneichen!



Linde Lund and many fans from all over the world  adore this funny sketch by Wolfgang Hampel very much although our German isn't the best.

I won't ever forget the way Wolfgang Hampel is shouting ' Brexit '.

Don't miss it, please.

It's simply great!

You can hear that Wolfgang Hampel got an outstandig voice.

He presented one of Linde Lund's favourite songs ' Try to remember ' like a professional singer.

Thanks a million!

Betty MacDonald fan club honor member Mr. Tigerli  and our 'Italian Betty MacDonald' - Betty MacDonald fan club honor member author and artist Letizia Mancino belong to the most popular Betty MacDonald fan club teams in our history.

Their many devoted fans are waiting for a new Mr. Tigerli adventure.

Letizia Mancino's  magical Betty MacDonald Gallery  is a special gift for Betty MacDonald fan club fans from all over the world.


Don't miss Brad Craft's 'More friends', please. 

Betty MacDonald's very beautiful Vashon Island is one of my favourites.


I agree with Betty in this very witty Betty MacDonald story  Betty MacDonald: Nothing more to say by Wolfgang Hampel.

I can't imagine to live in a country with him as so-called elected President although there are very good reasons to remain there to fight against these brainless politics.

‘Donald Trump never laughs,” Al Franken said.
This was the senator’s first observation to me on a recent afternoon. It was exactly three weeks from the day the punch line became the president-elect. And Trump’s mysterious absence of laughter had never occurred to me before, even though I’d spoken to him a fair amount and he has lived pretty much nonstop in our faces for 18 months, no end in sight.
Franken, the second-term Democratic senator from Minnesota and, before that, a longtime writer and performer on “Saturday Night Live,” has studied this.

Don't miss these very interesting articles below, please.




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Copyright 2016 Crooks and Liars

Electoral College: Make Hillary Clinton President.

Donald Trump has not been elected president. The real election takes place December 19, when the 538 Electoral College Electors cast their ballots – for anyone they want.
If they all vote the way their states voted, Donald Trump will win. However, in 14 of the states in Trump's column, they can vote for Hillary Clinton without any legal penalty if they choose.
We are calling on “Conscientious Electors” to protect the Constitution from Donald Trump, and to support the national popular vote winner.
Mr. Trump is unfit to serve. His scapegoating of so many Americans, and his impulsivity, bullying, lying, admitted history of sexual assault, and utter lack of experience make him a danger to the Republic.
Learn more in the video above, then sign the petition to join the more than 4.7 million Americans who support this grassroots effort. Please also visit electoralcollegepetition.com to see how you can get further involved in our movement.


Did dinosaurs fart their way to extinction?



We don't know what those other cycles were caused by in the past. Could be dinosaur flatulence, you know, or who knows? - Dana Rohrabacher


Lately, it appears Trump has gone back into the field to drag in a whole new bunch of State contenders. 

My favorite is Representative Dana Rohrabacher of California, a person you have probably never heard of even though he’s been in Congress since the 1980s and is currently head of the prestigious Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia and Emerging Threats.
Rohrabacher is also a surfer and former folk singer who once claimed global warming might be connected to “dinosaur flatulence.” 

Did dinosaurs fart their way to extinction?



Don't miss the very interesting articles below, please.

I think the future dinosaur flatulence will be the behaviour of 'Pussy' and his very strange government.

Poor World!    Poor America! 


The most difficult case in Mrs.Piggle-Wiggle's career


mrs. piggle wiggle, hello_english_cassette_FRONT



Hello 'Pussy', this is Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle. 

You took calls from foreign leaders on unsecured phone lines, without consultung the State Department. We have to change your silly behaviour with a new Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle cure. I know you are the most difficult case in my career - but we have to try everything.......................










Betty MacDonald fan club founder Wolfgang Hampel sent his brilliant thoughts. Thank you so much dear Wolfgang! 


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Hi Libi, nice to meet you. Can you feel it?

I'll be the most powerful leader in the world.


Betty MacDonald: Nothing more to say

Copyright 2016 by Wolfgang Hampel

All rights reserved 


Betty MacDonald was sitting on her egg-shaped cloud and listened to a rather strange guy.

He said to his friends: So sorry to keep you waiting. Very complicated business! Very complicated!

Betty said: Obviously much too complicated for you old toupee!

Besides him ( by the way the  First Lady's place ) his 10 year old son was bored to death and listened to this 'exciting' victory speech. 

The old man could be his great-grandfather.

The boy was very tired and thought: I don't know what this old guy is talking about. Come on and finish it, please. I'd like to go to bed.

Dear 'great-grandfather' continued  and praised the Democratic candidate.

He congratulated her and her family for a very strong campaign although he wanted to put her in jail.

He always called her the most corrupt person ever and repeated it over and over again in the fashion of a Tibetan prayer wheel.

She is so corrupt. She is so corrupt.  Do you know how corrupt she is? 

Betty MacDonald couldn't believe it when he said: She has worked very long and very hard over a long period of time, and we owe her a major debt of gratitude for her service to our country.

Afterwards old toupee praised his parents, wife, children, siblings and friends. 

He asked the same question like a parrot all the time:

Where are you? Where are you? Where are you?
I know you are here!

Betty MacDonald answered: No Pussy they are not! They left the country.

They immigrated to Canada because they are very much afraid of the future in the U.S.A. with you as their leader like the majority of all so-called more or less normal citizens. 

By the way keep your finger far away from the pussies and the Red Button, please.


I'm going to fly with my egg-shaped cloud to Canada within a minute too.

Away - away - there is nothing more to say! 


Real vs. Ersatz









I can understand the reason why Betty MacDonald, Barbara Streisand, other artists and several of my friends want to leave the United States of America.


I totally agree with these comments:

This is incredible! I'll You get what you pay/vote for and Trump is the epitome of this ideology. America I won't feel bad for you because you don't need my sympathy for what's coming but I am genuinely scared for you. 'Forgive them lord for they know not who they do' or maybe they do but just don't care about their future generations who will suffer for this long after the culprits have passed away. 

Is the USA like North Korea where you can't trust other politicians?

That's it. 

Put Ivanka in! Put Ivanka in! Put my whole family and friends in! '

What about Putin? 

Or the leaders from China and North Korea?

Wouldn't it be a great idea to put them in too?

What about very intelligent and qualified Sarah Palin? 


André Maurice Dayans Foto.



I found this in Wikipedia about her:

In 2006, Palin obtained a passport[88] and in 2007 traveled for the first time outside of North America on a trip to Kuwait. There she visited the Khabari Alawazem Crossing at the Kuwait–Iraq border and met with members of the Alaska National Guard at several bases.[89] On her return journey she visited injured soldiers in Germany.[90]

That's the reason why very intelligent and brilliant Sarah Palin knows the World very well. 

Sarah and ' Pussygate '  will rule America and the World - what a couple. 


I am neither Christian enough nor charitable enough to like anybody just because he is alive and breathing. I want people to interest or amuse me. I want them fascinating and witty or so dul as to be different. I want them either intellectually stimulating or wonderfully corny; perfectly charming or hundred percent stinker. I like my chosen companions to be distinguishable from the undulating masses and I don't care how. - Betty MacDonald




Daniel Mount wrote a great article about Betty MacDonald and her garden.

We hope you'll enjoy it very much.

I adore Mount Rainier and Betty MacDonald's outstanding descriptions

Can you remember in which book you can find it?

If so let us know, please and you might be the next Betty MacDonald fan club contest winner. 

I hope we'll be able to read Wolfgang Hampel's  new very well researched  stories about Betty MacDonald, Robert Eugene Heskett, Donald Chauncey MacDonald, Darsie Bard, Sydney Bard, Gammy, Alison Bard Burnett,  Darsie Beck, Mary Bard Jensen, Clyde Reynolds Jensen, Sydney Cleveland Bard, Mary Alice Bard, Dorothea DeDe Goldsmith, Madge Baldwin, Don Woodfin, Mike Gordon, Ma and Pa Kettle, Nancy and Plum, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle and others - very soon.

It' s such a pleasure to read them. 

Let's go to magical Betty MacDonald's  Vashon Island.



Betty MacDonald fan club organizer Linde Lund  and Betty MacDonald fan club research team share their recent Betty MacDonald fan club research results.

Congratulations! They found the most interesting and important info for Wolfgang Hampel's oustanding  Betty MacDonald biography.

I enjoy Bradley Craft's story very much.  


Don't miss our Betty MacDonald fan club contests, please. 

 
You can win a never published before Alison Bard Burnett interview by Betty MacDonald fan club founder Wolfgang Hampel. 

Good luck!  

This CD is a golden treasure because Betty MacDonald's very witty sister Alison Bard Burnett shares unique stories about Betty MacDonald, Mary Bard Jensen, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle and Nancy and Plum. 

Do you have any books by Betty MacDonald and Mary Bard Jensen with funny or interesting dedications? 


If so would you be so kind to share them?


Our next Betty MacDonald fan club project is a collection of these unique dedications.


If you share your dedication from your Betty MacDonald - and Mary Bard Jensen collection you might be the winner of our new Betty MacDonald fan club items.


Thank you so much in advance for your support.



 


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Thank you so much for sending us your favourite Betty MacDonald quote.


More info are coming soon.




Wolfgang Hampel's Betty MacDonald and Ma and Pa Kettle biography and Betty MacDonald interviews have fans in 40 countries. I'm one of their many devoted fans. 


Many Betty MacDonald  - and Wolfgang Hampel fans are very interested in a Wolfgang Hampel CD and DVD with his very funny poems and stories.


We are going to publish new Betty MacDonald essays on Betty MacDonald's gardens and nature in Washington State.

Tell us the names of this mysterious couple please and you can win a very new Betty MacDonald documentary. 


 


Betty MacDonald fan club honor member Mr. Tigerl is beloved all over the World.

We are so happy that our 'Casanova'  is back.



Betty MacDonald fan club founder Wolfgang Hampel and Betty MacDonald fan club research team are going to share very interesting info on ' Betty MacDonald and the movie The Egg and I '. 

Another rare episode (from March 21 1952) of the short-lived comedy soap opera, "The Egg and I," based on best selling book by Betty MacDonald which also became a popular film.

The series premiered on September 3, 1951, the same day as "Search for Tomorrow," and ended on August 1, 1952. 

Although it did well in the ratings, it had difficulty attracting a steady sponsor. This episode features Betty Lynn (later known for her work on "The Andy Griffith Show") as Betty MacDonald, John Craven as Bob MacDonald, Doris Rich as Ma Kettle, and Frank Twedell as Pa Kettle.


Betty MacDonald fan club exhibition will be fascinating with the international book editions and letters by Betty MacDonald.

 
I can't wait to see the new Betty MacDonald documentary.

Enjoy a great breakfast at the bookstore with Brad and Nick, please.

Don't miss this, please. You'll enjoy it very much.  

Excerpts from SVT and TV4 broadcasts from Lucia 2015.

Participating are students from music classes in Gothenburg and Växjö.
 


Have a very nice Wednesday,
Astrid 


Don't miss this very special book, please.

 

 

 

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Don't miss this very special book, please.

 

Vita Magica 

Betty MacDonald 

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Wolfgang Hampel - Wikipedia ( English ) 

Wolfgang Hampel - Wikipedia ( English ) - The Egg and I 

Wolfgang Hampel - Wikipedia ( Polski)   

Wolfgang Hampel - Wikipedia ( German )

Wolfgang Hampel - LinkFang ( German ) 

Wolfgang Hampel - Academic ( German )

Wolfgang Hampel -   

Wolfgang Hampel - DBpedia  ( English / German )

Wolfgang Hampel - people check ( English ) 

Wolfgang Hampel - Memim ( English )

Vashon Island - Wikipedia ( German )

Wolfgang Hampel - Monica Sone - Wikipedia ( English )

Wolfgang Hampel - Ma and Pa Kettle - Wikipedia ( English )

Wolfgang Hampel - Ma and Pa Kettle - Wikipedia ( French ) 


Wolfgang Hampel - Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle - Wikipedia ( English)

Wolfgang Hampel in Florida State University 

Betty MacDonald fan club founder Wolfgang Hampel 

Betty MacDonald fan club interviews on CD/DVD

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Betty MacDonald fan club - The Stove and I  

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Betty MacDonald fan club organizer Linde Lund  


Betty MacDonald fan club and Heide Rose

Betty MacDonald fan club fan Greta Larson



Rita Knobel Ulrich - Islam in Germany - a very interesting ZDF  ( 2nd German Television ) documentary with English subtitles 

Helping Trump win isn’t a sign of Russian strength. It’s a sign of Russian weakness.


 

There’s a lot to parse when it comes to Russia’s role in the US election — both the overwhelming evidence that it interfered in the vote and the recently disclosed CIA conclusion that it did so in order to help get Donald Trump elected. But there’s an even more fundamental question that needs to be answered:
What the hell are the Russians thinking?
Interfering in a US election is a dangerous game. Imagine if Hillary Clinton had won — as virtually every pundit and statistical model was predicting at the time that Russia started leaking hacked emails of Clinton allies. The Russians would have infuriated the most powerful person in the world.
That didn’t happen, and the US instead elected the most Kremlin-friendly presidential candidate in recent American history. But it’s not clear that Russia will get off scot-free, with lawmakers from both parties calling for as-yet-unspecified punitive measures designed to retaliate for Moscow’s interference in the 2016 elections and to deter Russia from trying to meddle in elections to come.
So why take the risk? Part of the answer has to do solely with Trump’s jarringly positive views of Russian President Vladimir Putin and his willingness to embrace policies — like potentially pulling the US out of NATO — that have long been among the Russian strongman’s top strategic objectives. Compare this with Clinton’s long record of hawkishness on Russia, and Trump was (from the Kremlin’s perspective) a far better choice.


But there’s a deeper answer, according to several Russia experts: The Putin government is much weaker than it appears, and the hack comes from a position of weakness, not confidence.

Their argument is that Moscow is outclassed militarily by the US and its NATO allies and buckling economically under the weight of international sanctions and low oil prices. It’s a country that’s very far from reaching the heights of power that Putin wants for it.
The hack, on this analysis, is the clearest evidence yet of how far Putin is willing to go to weaken his rivals and thus raise Russia’s relative strength. He’s not trying to repair his own government; he’s trying to damage those of other countries. With a democracy like the US, the best way to do that is to use a large and sophisticated propaganda campaign to shake confidence in the election and elect a threat to the established Western order like Trump.


“The military balance is grim; the economic balance is grim. And so how do you deal with that?” asks Dan Nexon, a professor at Georgetown University who studies great power politics. “[Information warfare] is pretty much what the Russians have going for them.”

Trump’s instincts are a lot friendlier to Putin than Clinton’s


Final Presidential Debate Between Hillary Clinton And Donald Trump Held In Las Vegas  
(Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Nobody really knows what Donald Trump will do as president. But if his policy ideas voiced during the campaign were a good guide, the Kremlin will have reason to celebrate.
Trump has praised the Russian bombing campaign in Syria, supported moves like Brexit that destabilized Russia’s European rivals, and personally praised Putin. Most importantly, he has mused about weakening American commitment to NATO. Nothing Putin could do on his own would help Russia’s standing on the world stage and regional influence more than the collapse of the Cold War–era military alliance.
Now, we don’t know how exactly how seriously to take Trump’s musings about NATO. He could change his tune once in office, given the immense pressure that would come from lawmakers, allies, and the American security establishment. It’s hard to say, and uncertainty when it comes to America is definitely worrying to Russian security people.
What is clear, though, is that Putin and his allies really didn’t like Hillary Clinton.
“Hillary is the worst option [from the Russian point of view],” Fyodor Lukyanov, the chair of Russia's Council on Foreign and Defense Policy and an influential voice in Russia’s security establishment, told Vox last year. “There is a widespread view that she personally hates Putin.”
The Kremlin saw her proposals for a no-fly zone in Syria and a history of aggressive criticism of Russian foreign policy as strong evidence that the US would be more confrontational toward Russia with President Clinton in the White House. Even if the Russians aren’t convinced that Trump would be good for them, they could very well think he’s better than the alternative.
“I was in Moscow just last week ... and my sense is they’re concerned and confused about what a Trump presidency means,” Alina Polyakova, the deputy director of the Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center at the Atlantic Council, tells me. “Trump is absolutely a risk. [But] it was worth the risk, from the Kremlin’s point of view.”

The Putin regime is much weaker than you think


Merkel And Putin Honour World War II Gestapo Victims 
(Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

But the mere fact that the Russians preferred Trump to Clinton doesn’t explain why they’d be willing to actively support him. There were doubtless US elections during and after the Cold War where the Russians had a preferred candidate, but Moscow has never intervened as aggressively as it appears to have done in 2016.
“What’s new is how brazen and explicit it has been,” Polyakova says.
So why? Why would the Russians so boldly attempt to elect their preferred candidate, knowing that the intervention carried a serious risk of American retaliation?
Some experts argue that the key variable here is Russian weakness, not strength. To understand this, you need to understand Russia’s strategic situation a little bit better.
By any metric — defense spending, control of advanced military tech, you name it — the United States is by far the world’s most dominant military power. A recent book by Dartmouth’s Stephen Brooks and William Wohlforth attempted to quantify the degree of American dominance in these terms. Their findings were unequivocal.
“Our investigation shows that the United States indisputably remains the sole superpower, and the gap between it and the other powers ... remains very large,” they write.
Russia, by contrast, fell into disrepair after the collapse of the Soviet Union — and modernization efforts under Putin have failed to come close to making up the gap. When you add America’s might to that of its NATO allies, some of which have increased defense spending in response to Russian military adventurism in Syria and Ukraine, the picture for the Kremlin looks quite bad — “much, much weaker,” as Nexon put it in our conversation.
The Russian economy, likewise, is in dismal shape. Russia has depended heavily on trade in natural resources, particularly oil and gas; the recent collapse in oil prices and spread of shale gas in the West has been painful for Russia. Western sanctions, punishment for its invasion of Ukraine, have made it much harder for Russian corporations in key sectors (including oil and banking) to do business abroad.
The result is an economy that has been in recession for two years. GDP has declined to roughly the level it was in the immediate wake of the 2008 financial collapse:


The result, then, is that you have a Russia that is extremely limited — at least, compared to what it once was. Russia can bully around a weaker non-NATO state, like Ukraine; it can help prop up an ally against ragtag rebels, as in Syria. But it cannot challenge the Western-led alliance for global supremacy in the way the Soviets could.
Putin can’t change this — he can’t rebuild the Russian military overnight, or solve its fundamental economic weakness relative to America. That means that accomplishing his ultimate goal of restoring Russian greatness means he needs to break the American-led alliance — somehow persuading these countries to abandon institutions like NATO and take a softer view of Moscow’s overseas meddling.
“Information operations” — like, say, hacking a political party’s emails and dumping them publicly — is a particularly effective tool for accomplishing this goal. Putin’s principal rivals are Western democracies, whose elections can theoretically be swayed by the release of damaging information. And the United States happened to be holding an election with a candidate who, at least on paper, seems likely to destabilize America’s commitment to its allies and cozy up to the Kremlin.
To analysts like Nexon and Polyakova, the takeaway is clear: Even though there was a chance the US might retaliate, Russian leaders likely concluded that intervening to help Trump was worth it.
“Putin is willing to take increasingly bigger risks to strategically place Russia as a [great] power in the world again,” Polyakova says. “I think it’s the Kremlin’s attempt to balance the security asymmetry that currently exists.”
If this analysis is correct, then don’t expect Russia to stop with the US election. Both France and Germany are holding national elections in 2017; both of them feature far-right candidates who support a less hostile stance to Russia than their opponents. If Russia’s information operation worked in America, there’s no reason to think the Russians wouldn’t try it with two of their other leading rivals — or, for that matter, in a future US election.
“If you can divide [Western countries], even in a half-assed way, that’s good,” Nexon says. “If you can get people elected who look like they might rip up [institutions like NATO] on their own, that’s even better.”



Franken, the second-term Democratic senator from Minnesota and, before that, a longtime writer and performer on “Saturday Night Live,” has studied this. He provided commentary for MSNBC at the Al Smith Dinner, the Catholic charity fund-raiser in October where presidential nominees engage in good-natured ribbing of themselves and each other (Trump mostly skipped the “good-natured” part and was booed). “I wanted to see if Trump laughed,” Franken said. “And he didn’t. He smiled, but didn’t laugh. I don’t know what it is.”
I went back and watched video of Trump, not just at the Smith dinner. He is, to say the least, a comic cash cow. No one has provided as much fodder for the political, media and celebrity axis that Franken has operated in for over four decades. But Franken is correct. It is extremely rare to see or hear the president-elect himself laughing. Franken offered no theory on this, just a contrast. “I happen to laugh an incredible amount,” he told me. He has a distinctive and rollicking cackle, which allows his staff to track his whereabouts on the Senate floor. Conan O’Brien, a longtime friend and fellow “S.N.L.” alumnus, told me that Franken’s laugh sounded like “a hydraulic seal” whose rhythmic and almost mechanical force “can clear your sinuses.”
But these were suddenly unfunny days. A shellshocked aura was cast over Capitol Hill, particularly among Democrats. I went to see Franken in his Senate office on a rainy Tuesday as lawmakers were trickling back to town after Thanksgiving. They convened in caucus meetings and hallway quorums that became commiseration sessions. Since Nov. 8, Washington has felt like a fortressed village bracing for a guerrilla invasion.
At 65, Franken retains the thick build of the high-school wrestler he once was. The resting pout of his mouth — the Baby Huey countenance to match his honking voice — has assumed more of a smirk. Franken is not good at masking emotions. He cries easily and can become impatient and never bothered much to disguise his contempt for adversaries, at least until he arrived in the Senate, whose hidebound traditions of decorum demanded at least an honest effort. Franken has been mostly successful at this, and has been strenuous in his attempts to leave his comic past behind, though he was once busted for making dismissive faces and hand gestures behind Mitch McConnell as the Republican leader gave a floor speech in 2010. “This isn’t ‘Saturday Night Live,’ Al,” McConnell said, admonishing Franken, who later wrote a note of apology.

One thing that made it safe to laugh was the ridiculousness of the conceit. People assumed that the normal checks and balances would kick in and never allow someone like Trump to be elected — the disapproval of the “establishment,” the outrage capacity of the electorate or even a candidate’s own code of ethics or ability to be shamed. Back in the spring of 2015, when few believed that Trump was serious or would mount a real campaign, comedians reacted to his entry into the race with ostentatious gratitude: Jon Stewart, whose final six weeks on Comedy Central coincided with the first stage of the campaign, thanked Trump for “putting me in some kind of comedy hospice.”
As Trump bloated into the campaign’s inescapable parade float, his supposed comic abundance became more of a crisis. Every stopgap failed in 2015 and 2016. So did every pundit assumption, and even the long-understood barriers between, say, real and fake news. Where does comedy even fit when the outrageous becomes the default? By October, the executive producer of HBO’s “Veep,” David Mandel, was complaining to The Los Angeles Times that Trump was “ruining comedy.” By December, it was revealed that Trump would remain the executive producer of “The Celebrity Apprentice,” and the fusion between reality TV and the sobering reality of the presidency seemed complete. Political humor has faced similar moments in the past, but never such a reckoning. “People on ‘S.N.L.’ actually were saying eight years ago when Sarah Palin was running, We couldn’t have written this ourselves,” said Robert Smigel, a longtime writer for the show and friend of Franken’s who is best known as the voice behind the foul-mouthed puppet Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog.
Franken’s body of work has been oddly prescient. He was the subject of a 2006 documentary, “God Spoke,” which chronicled his journey to the Senate. A.O. Scott of The New York Times described it as “an investigation of the phenomenon of ideological celebrity, with Mr. Franken as a willing case study.” You could make the case that Trump himself might represent something of a next-phase case study himself — a nominally ideological celebrity that has grown into a political phenomenon.
More remarkable, Franken wrote a satirical novel called “Why Not Me?” which details his own fictitious celebrity run for president. His character is corrupt, clueless and unprepared, but a confluence of unlikely factors — and Franken’s wildly popular vow to eliminate A.T.M. fees — somehow propels him to the White House, where things quickly go off the rails. President Franken loses his mind (punching Nelson Mandela in the stomach during a meeting!). He is the subject of a special congressional inquiry — the Joint Committee on the President’s Mood Swings — and is forced to resign after five months. Franken published “Why Not Me?” in 1999.
Now, in his Senate office, Franken kept shaking his head. He seemed to be choosing his words carefully, trying to toe the opposition party line about Trump, in so much as there is one: “Where there are places we agree, I will try to work with this administration.” But his despair was obvious. “He’s very different,” Franken said of Trump. “And that’s as far as I’ll go in my conjecture of who he is.” He chortled. “That’s become kind of a cottage industry.” Psychoanalyzing Trump, he meant. I reminded Franken that he was qualified, having presented himself at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia last summer as “a world-renowned expert on right-wing megalomaniacs.” He had received “a doctorate in megalomaniac studies from Trump University.” That was a few days after Trump accepted the Republican nomination, a remarkable development that — if you listened to the dismissive speeches and constant mockery across the spectrum of smug progressives and Never Trump conservatives — still felt at a safe remove.
I was curious whether Trump’s election would herald a change in Franken’s approach. He was always fierce in what he describes as “the heaping of scorn and ridicule,” first on “S.N.L.” and later as a liberal talk-radio host and author of political commentary with titles like “Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot (And Other Observations).” He heaped abundant scorn and ridicule upon George W. Bush but was not in the Senate at the time. “I think this can be a moment that calls out for Al’s voice,” said Ben Wikler, the head of the Washington office of MoveOn.org and producer of Franken’s show on the defunct progressive radio network Air America. Wikler, who helped Franken write his 2003 book, “Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right,” said there is a great need for “fearless opposition fighters that can cut through the noise.” Franken has established himself as a legislator, he said, and it might be time for him to return to his insurgent comic roots. “Part of Al’s earlier approach to public life was swashbuckling and baiting antagonists into fights they could not win,” Wikler told me. “Humor can be a way of blasting through fear and anxiety and giving people backbone.”







 
Al Franken with staff members in his Senate office. Credit Mark Peterson/Redux, for The New York Times
I asked Franken about this. He nodded as if it had occurred to him but was otherwise noncommital. “We’ll see how he operates,” he said of Trump. “I don’t think anyone here has ever been a senator with this kind of person in the White House. This one is very different.” He coughed out a nervous laugh. “We’ll see how he evolves. And we’ll see how I evolve.”

You sometimes hear the expression “famous for Washington.” It describes someone well known within the staid and dorky confines of the Beltway. Someone like Senator Orrin Hatch, say, or maybe the election superlawyer Ben Ginsberg. It is a somewhat backhanded designation, which is not to say Washington does not love celebrities (to wit, the metastatic growth of the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner in recent years). Occasionally, celebrities from other realms cross over into politics. The Hall of Fame wide receiver for the Seattle Seahawks, Steve Largent, was in Congress for a while, as was the guy who played Gopher on “The Love Boat” (Fred Grandy). Franken followed in this tradition and is unquestionably the only person ever to both serve on the Senate Judiciary Committee and play a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee — Paul Simon of Illinois — in a “Saturday Night Live” skit.
Now comes probably the best-known celebrity ever to enter American politics — Trump — who cannonballed in at the highest level. His election made a case that celebrity itself may today be the most potent driver of American populism. Franken understands better than most the power of fame as a way to gain a political audience and scramble ideological paradigms. “One thing I’ve learned,” Franken told me, “is that celebrity trumps ideology. I have spent a lot of time over the years heaping scorn and ridicule upon Republicans. But then you meet them, and a lot of people are like, Hey, Al, love that satellite mobile-uplink guy” — one of his signature “S.N.L.” characters, a “Weekend Update” correspondent from the early 1990s who reported back to the studio via a “totally self-contained one-man mobile-uplink unit” (with a 1.3-meter parabolic antenna attached to his head).
Two weekends before Election Day, Franken went to Philadelphia to appear at get-out-the-vote events on behalf of Hillary Clinton and local Democrats. “You all have jobs and kids,” Franken would say to rooms full of volunteers. “Ignore them.” The rooms would erupt in laughter. “Kids love being left alone. Eight-year-olds are perfectly capable of operating microwave ovens.” These are Franken’s stock lines at such events. They always land. “Thank you for keeping your sense of humor through all of this,” one volunteer, Liz Martinez, told Franken after he spoke. Franken cocked his right eyebrow, John Belushi-style. “Who says I’m keeping my sense of humor?” he said.
Franken fell asleep at 2 a.m. on the night of the election and woke up with a migraine. For days, it was hard to think about anything besides Trump in the White House. “There was a week or so when sleeping literally was a great thing,” Franken said. “You go through a process of internalizing it.” In addition to the political shock, there was a broader despair over the cultural disconnect that the election laid bare. I kept thinking of an Onion headline that ran a few weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks: “A Shattered Nation Longs to Care About Stupid [Expletive] Again.” How long does it take a culture to forge a new sensibility, whether comedic or political? Franken seemed to be struggling with this a bit. There was similar confusion in the various liberal bubbles of Washington, New York and Hollywood, whose inhabitants were the supposed keepers of the American zeitgeist — the geniuses who so spectacularly dismissed the zeitgeist that elected Donald Trump.
“I really believe nobody knows anything right now,” Conan O’Brien told me over the phone from Los Angeles. O’Brien is among the less political TV comedians, particularly on cable (his show has run since 2010 on TBS). But Trump is an inescapable topic. “I really think the whole mantra that everyone must have, not just in this medium but in the world in general, is that no one knows anything.” O’Brien recalled that after Sept. 11, people were declaring the death of irony. It was not. There was like a three-week pause. But then irony regenerated itself in some altered, post-Sept. 11 form. Trump’s victory has landed a blow to the country’s notions of certainty. “I would say we’re not seeing the death of certainty,” O’Brien said. “But certainty has taken a holiday right now.” Plenty of certainty, now discarded, was generated in 2016. Our cozy silos of belief and customized group assumptions gave us our most brutal campaign in years. “Everyone has their own street corner,” O’Brien said.








‘I think this can be a moment that calls out for Al’s voice.’

While “Saturday Night Live” was always subversive and groundbreaking, it was also conceived before cable and the internet rewarded niche sensibilities. As a network show, it needed to reach a critical mass of the American middle. “We’ve actually tried to make ‘S.N.L.’ a safe space across the political spectrum,” Lorne Michaels, its creator, told me in his office near the “S.N.L.” studio on the 17th floor of 30 Rockefeller Plaza. It has never been a production that preaches to a choir, as contrasted with cable comedy shows hosted by the left-leaning likes of Jon Stewart, Samantha Bee and John Oliver. “Jon Stewart was giving voice to visions and ideas and doing it brilliantly, but in a way that almost everyone watching agreed with,” Michaels said with a bit of an edge. “It was 100 percent pure.”
The election was still a few weeks away, and our discussion — like most discussions during that stretch of ancient history — was predicated on the assumption that Clinton would win. Michaels caught some heat for inviting Trump to host the show in October 2015; critics accused him of helping to celebrate and “normalize” someone they viewed as a monster. But the fact that Trump would eventually wage a Twitter assault against “S.N.L.” — particularly over Alec Baldwin’s portrayal of him as a menacing, bumbling imbecile — would itself suggest that the show struck the right balance. “Trump is the head writer of this whole thing,” Baldwin told me. “They could come up with something for us to do every week.” Baldwin, who said he had no Trump impersonation until he debuted the character on “S.N.L.” on Oct. 1, said he takes no special satisfaction in angering the president-elect, whom he calls “the first modern-day president who does not have thick skin.” He said that he, too, has been blamed by some people for making Trump appear more palatable than he is. “It’s kind of a Rorschach test,” Baldwin said, “for how people see the political world in general.”

Clinton’s cameo, playing Val the bartender consoling the distraught Kate McKinnon version of her, was arguably her most endearing moment in an otherwise dreary slog. By the time of the Trump and Clinton debates, the lines between parody and self-parody had blurred to a grainy haze; it was difficult to watch the candidates for two seconds without my mind jumping immediately to Baldwin and McKinnon.
Franken, who joined “S.N.L.” at its inception in 1975, never achieved the star status of the show’s first wave — John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Gilda Radner and Chevy Chase. “Al was relentless about being a performer,” Michaels said. Franken’s best-known creation at “S.N.L.” was probably Stuart Smalley, the mirror-staring host of the mock self-help show “Daily Affirmation With Stuart Smalley.” Smalley, who was also the subject of a movie, was inspired by Franken’s experience going through a 12-step recovery program with his wife, Franni, who battled alcoholism. “I was trying to explain recovery though a character,” Franken said. “He is a character that, at first blush, looks like kind of an idiot, but actually a lot of the stuff he’s trying to talk about is true.” There is, Franken said, a larger lesson embedded here. “I’m trying to express that you can learn things from people who you think aren’t smarter than you,” he said. “I’m embarrassed by how late in life I learned that.”
Franken left “Saturday Night Live” in 1995 and settled into a successful next act as a liberal satirist, author and radio host. He had no plan to seek any office. But then his friend and political idol, Senator Paul Wellstone of Minnesota, was killed in a plane crash along with seven others — including his wife and daughter — on the eve of his re-election campaign in 2002. “It was just this shattering thing,” said Norman Ornstein, an author and congressional scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and a close friend of Franken’s who grew up in the same hometown, St. Louis Park, Minn.
The Republican candidate, Norm Coleman, wound up defeating Walter Mondale, who replaced Wellstone on the ballot. Franken started thinking about running against Coleman, especially after Coleman said in an interview with Roll Call after a few months in office that he was a “99 percent improvement over Paul Wellstone.”








 
Senator Al Franken in his office. Credit Mark Peterson/Redux, for The New York Times
Franken knew that running for Senate would uproot his life. Not only would he have to move back to Minnesota, but he would have to work brutally hard. “This was not someone who saw this as, Oh, I’ve been an entertainer, and now as a dilettante I’m going to run for office,” Ornstein said. Franken wound up defeating Coleman by 312 votes after months of recounts and court challenges. When he joined the Senate in 2009, Franken was determined to shed any hint that he was anything but a humble newcomer. He resisted national news coverage and tried for the most part to subvert his funnyman impulses to the solemn duties of his new role.
O’Brien said it was strange to watch Franken, such an instinctively funny person, “choose not to use one of his superpowers.” It took getting used to. “We had some serious conversations,” O’Brien said. “But clearly he was witnessing, every day in the Senate and in the government, the most absurd things. And he would have to control himself.” O’Brien said Franken told him that one of his aides gave him some advice early on: “Whenever you have an instinct to do something, just don’t do that.”
Franken’s rejection of type became his defining characteristic, at least in the Washington shorthand. The news media dutifully ground his determined seriousness into a cliché. Every publication that wrote about Franken seemed compelled to deploy some version of “No Joke” in its headlines. He keeps a framed collage in his office made up of a couple of dozen such examples (including a “Franken’s Campaign Against Comcast Is No Joke” headline from The New York Times).
Still, colleagues from both parties would seek Franken’s help in workshopping jokes for their speeches. Senator Amy Klobuchar, Franken’s close friend and fellow Democrat from Minnesota, was preparing a comedy act at the expense of Senator Ted Cruz for Washington’s annual Gridiron Dinner in 2013. This was around the time a Carnival Cruise ship ran aground in the Gulf of Mexico amid a four-day accumulation of human waste. That debacle inspired the following: In Washington, Klobuchar said, “when Democrats hear about a difficult cruise, we don’t know if it’s Carnival or Ted.” That was funny, kind of. Klobuchar ran the joke by Cruz beforehand on the Senate floor as a matter of collegial courtesy. Franken approached the pair and asked Klobuchar to repeat the joke, which she did. “Without missing a beat,” Klobuchar recalled, Franken offered this improvement: In Washington, went the Franken version, “when you hear about a cruise that’s full of [expletive], you don’t know if it’s Carnival or Ted.” That was funnier, Klobuchar conceded, though she opted for the tamer original.

Franken won re-election by more than 10 percentage points in 2014, a year in which several Democratic incumbents were defeated. He said he has felt more freedom in the Senate since his re-election. “I think the people of Minnesota get that I came here to be their senator and do the work and legislate,” he told me. I asked Franken, a longtime New Yorker until he moved back to Minnesota to run for Senate, whether he had met Donald Trump. They were in the same room on many occasions, in the way that famous New Yorkers often are. But their only interaction came at a screening of “The Sopranos” at Radio City Music Hall. Franken recognized Trump in front of him and was moved to yell out, “THAT IS THE WORST COMBOVER I HAVE EVER SEEN!” Trump spun around and saw it was Franken. He didn’t say anything, Franken said, but “sort of gave that look that said, Oh, that’s a comedian, O.K., I get it.” I asked Franken if he would have done the same if he were in elected office at the time. “Probably not,” he admitted.
Franken is fully aware that even the most thrown-off or nominally irreverent quip can become toxic after being put through what Franken calls the “de-humorizer” of partisan America. I witnessed this firsthand, and even participated, when I joined Franken in late August at the Minnesota State Fair in St. Paul. As Franken made his rounds — pouring glasses of milk at a dairy stand, eating a pork chop on a stick — he paused for a minute to receive a distraught call from his son, Joe. Joe relayed the news that Teddy Bridgewater, the young quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings, had just suffered a gruesome injury to his knee at practice that afternoon. “No!” said Franken, a lifelong Vikings fan. “This is so depressing,” he muttered after hanging up. “It’s like finding out Hillary’s having an affair with Anthony Weiner.”









‘One thing I’ve learned is that celebrity trumps ideology.’

Franken blurted this out with such matter-of-fact exasperation, which I happened to find hilarious. Later, I did something I probably should not have and shared Franken’s quip via Twitter, itself a kind of de-humorizer. This spelled trouble for the home-team senator. Audience reaction ran heavily against the remark, especially from Vikings fans (there are a few of these in Minnesota) and Franken nonfans (“Frankenstein is a liberal pinhead”). Franken wasted little time grabbing the cleanup mop. “Pretty insensitive and stupid of me,” he tweeted. “Regret it and sincerely apologize.”
The day before the presidential election, Trump dropped in for a quick rally in a hangar at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. He railed against the “disaster taking place in Minnesota,” with “large numbers of Somali refugees coming into your state, without your knowledge, without your support or approval.” He drew raucous applause and came within just 1.5 points of beating Clinton in the historically blue state. “You’ve suffered enough in Minnesota,” Trump said.
Franken was furious about Trump’s remarks. He had worked closely with the Somali communities of Minnesota and had made many friendships. A young Somali-American woman, Muna Abdulahi, whose family immigrated to Minnesota, went to work as a page in Franken’s office. He wound up speaking at her high school graduation in Willmar, Minn., last spring and ran into her on Election Day on the campus of the University of Minnesota, where she is now a freshman. She told him that her younger sister, Anisa, had just been named homecoming queen back in Willmar.
In the weeks after Trump was elected, Franken was asked to speak at a middle school in St. Paul that has a big population of Somali students. The students were terrified about the election. Tensions had run high after a September incident in St. Cloud in which a knife-wielding Somali man wounded 10 people in an attack at a mall (an off-duty police officer shot and killed him). A spate of harassment targeting Somalis ensued. “So I went to the school, and I talked to the kids,” Franken told me, “and I said: You’re Americans. You’re Americans.” Franken told me about a conversation he had in his office on Nov. 17 with a French diplomat. Franken asked the diplomat who could be considered a “Frenchman” in France. The diplomat explained that the designation was usually reserved for someone whose family went back a few hundred years in the same village. In other words, new arrivals are not “Frenchmen.”
“But in the United States, we make them homecoming queen,” Franken said with a catch of emotion. “Goddamn, it made me mad,” he said again, referring to Trump’s airport rally. “It’s literally sad, you know, that kind of thing.”
Before he entered the Senate, Franken was always more of satirist than a Henny Youngman jokester type. “You take a reality, and you exaggerate, and you show how ridiculous it is,” Ornstein told me. Take, for example, this scenario — a celebrity runs for president and does a bunch of bizarre and seemingly beyond-the-pale stuff, like boasting about the size of his penis on the debate stage, and winds up in the White House. “You look at a situation, you analyze it, and you see the weak points where you make something funny out of it,” Ornstein said. But what if no one notices the difference between the fact and the fiction, much less cares to recognize the absurdity of the details? What’s the use of satire, or straight-out ridicule, if your target can’t even be bothered to care?

“There are a lot of ironies in this election,” Franken said, folding himself into a crooked angle on his office couch. Franken kept pointing out ironies. There are different kinds of ironies. There are funny ones, like what you read in The Onion, or cruel ones that leave you bewildered. These seemed more like the cruel ones. He mentioned Trump’s unsubstantiated claim that he saw thousands of Muslims somewhere in New Jersey cheering after the Sept. 11 attacks and his contention that the Clintons were behind the Obama “birther” conspiracy. “He’d say several things a day that would end anyone else’s race,” Franken said. The day before, the president-elect had tweeted with no evidence that millions of fraudulent votes were cast against him.

After the election, the Oxford Dictionaries named “post-truth” as its word of the year for 2016 (defining it as a state “in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief”). “The big irony is that I made some of my living by writing books about people who lied,” Franken told me, naming Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity and others. “It just seems adorable now that I could make a living doing that, fighting misstatements of fact. And people were like, Oh, that’s terrible, I can’t believe it. And now it just doesn’t matter.” He laughed, as Franken does, but with no sign of joy. This felt too visceral to be called humor, as if we were moving on to something else entirely.

















Ein lyrisches Portrait von Hilde Domin
Anne MacDonald Canham

 




 







Beijing Airpot


Mr. Tigerli in China

Copyright 2016 by Letizia Mancino
translation by Mary Holmes
All rights reserved  


Yes Betty, either or it seems he wanted to fly only with Singapore Airways.

Boeing or Airbus, it’s just the same isn’t it? Aren’t they both just fat birds with 500 passengers?

Yes, but Singapore Airlines has the most beautiful airhostesses: delicate, fine, graceful…  Mr. Tigerli had looked forward to the flight so much!

So the little man was disappointed?

You just can’t imagine how disappointed he was.
 But thank God one of the hostesses was a pretty Chinese girl. Mr. Tigerli purred loudly but she didn’t hear him because the purring of the Airbus 380 was even louder.

The poor cat!

You’ve said it Betty. Mr. Tigerli was in a very bad mood and asked me for a loud speaker.

I’m sure you can get one in 1st Class.

“”Russian Girl” had even heard you over the roar of the Niagara Falls” I said to Mr. Tigerli. “You are a very unfaithful cat. You wanted to get to know Asiatic girls. That’s how it is when one leaves one’s first love”.

And what did he say to that?

“Men are hunters” was his answer.

Yes, my dear cat, a mouse hunter. And what else did he say?

Not another word. He behaved as if he hadn’t heard me.

The Airbus is very loud.

I told him shortly “Don’t trouble yourself about “Chinese Girl”. There will be enough even prettier girls in China. Wait till we land in Guilin”.

Did he understand you?

Naturally Mr. Tigerli understood me immediately. Yes, sweetheart, don’t worry. They will find you something sweet to eat.

And he?

He was so happy.

No problem going through the immigration control?

Naturally!  Lots of problems. How could I explain to customs that the cat had come as a tourist to China to buy shoes?

Fur in exchange for shoes…

Don’t be so cynical Betty!

Cat meat in exchange for shoes?

I said to the officials. He isn’t a cat, he is Casanova.


He came through the pass control with no trouble!



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Is this Mr. Tigerli?





Dare we face the question of just how much of the darkness around us is of our own making? - Betty MacDonald
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Betty MacDonald














Take an illustrated day trip through Washington state’s largest city with artist Candace Rose Rardon.
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Linda White yes,if my health allows.I have a few problems but is something I have always wanted to do,especially as I reread her books.


Linde Lund


Linde Lund Dear Linda I'll keep you posted.


Bella Dillon


Bella Dillon · Friends with Darsie Beck
I still read Mrs Piggle Wiggle books to this day. I love her farm on vashon.




Lila Taylor


Lila Taylor Good morning...Linde Lund
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