The Putin Effect

I wouldn’t normally post about politics, finances or the economy, but something in today’s newsletter from EnsoWealth struck a chord. We will need to be nimble, prepared and patient. COVID, supply chain issues and inflation are already wearing us down, but with Putin’s invasion? There’s a disturbance in the force, and I’m exhausted. Fearful too.

The Markets

Markets were reassured by the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC)’s actions last week.

The FOMC met on March 16 and did exactly what most people expected them to do. They raised the federal funds target rate by a quarter point. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said the Fed expects to continue to raise rates and reduce its balance sheet during 2022 to lower inflation.

The bond market appeared to give the Fed a vote of confidence. The yield on the two-year UST, which is the maturity that’s most sensitive to expectations for future rate hikes, rose from 1.75 percent at the end of last week to 1.97 percent. The yield on the benchmark 10-year UST also increased, but not by as much.

Randall Forsyth of Barron’s reported, “…moves in the Treasury market add up to a marked flattening in the slope of the yield curve, a classic signal the market foresees a slowing of real growth along with an eventual diminution of inflation pressures.”

In an ideal circumstance, the Fed would engineer a “soft landing” by pushing demand for goods down just enough to quash inflation without causing the U.S. economy going into recession. However, the Putin effect is making the Fed’s job harder. Fed Chair Powell stated: 

“…the implications of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine for the U.S. economy are highly uncertain. In addition to the direct effects from higher global oil and commodity prices, the invasion and related events may restrain economic activity abroad and further disrupt supply chains, which would create spillovers to the U.S. economy through trade and other channels. The volatility in financial markets, particularly if sustained, could also act to tighten credit conditions and affect the real economy…We will need to be nimble in responding to incoming data and the evolving outlook.”

Improved clarity around monetary policy reassured investors last week. Major U.S. stock indices rallied with the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index gaining 6.2 percent, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rising 5.5 percent, and the Nasdaq Composite up 8.2 percent, reported Ben Levisohn of Barron’s.

Weekly Focus – Think About It 

“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”

—John Donne, writer and poet

Best regards,

Noah Jacobson, CFP® 

* These views are those of Carson Coaching, not the presenting Representative, the Representative’s Broker/Dealer, or Registered Investment Advisor, and should not be construed as investment advice.

* This newsletter was prepared by Carson Coaching. Carson Coaching is not affiliated with the named firm or broker/dealer.

* Government bonds and Treasury Bills are guaranteed by the U.S. government as to the timely payment of principal and interest and, if held to maturity, offer a fixed rate of return and fixed principal value. However, the value of fund shares is not guaranteed and will fluctuate.

* Corporate bonds are considered higher risk than government bonds but normally offer a higher yield and are subject to market, interest rate and credit risk as well as additional risks based on the quality of issuer coupon rate, price, yield, maturity, and redemption features.

* The Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general. You cannot invest directly in this index.

* All indexes referenced are unmanaged. The volatility of indexes could be materially different from that of a client’s portfolio. Unmanaged index returns do not reflect fees, expenses, or sales charges. Index performance is not indicative of the performance of any investment. You cannot invest directly in an index.

* The Dow Jones Global ex-U.S. Index covers approximately 95% of the market capitalization of the 45 developed and emerging countries included in the Index.

* The 10-year Treasury Note represents debt owed by the United States Treasury to the public. Since the U.S. Government is seen as a risk-free borrower, investors use the 10-year Treasury Note as a benchmark for the long-term bond market.

* Gold represents the 3:00 p.m. (London time) gold price as reported by the London Bullion Market Association and is expressed in U.S. Dollars per fine troy ounce. The source for gold data is Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis (FRED), https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/GOLDPMGBD228NLBM.

* The Bloomberg Commodity Index is designed to be a highly liquid and diversified benchmark for the commodity futures market. The Index is composed of futures contracts on 19 physical commodities and was launched on July 14, 1998.

* The DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index measures the total return performance of the equity subcategory of the Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) industry as calculated by Dow Jones.

* The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA), commonly known as “The Dow,” is an index representing 30 stock of companies maintained and reviewed by the editors of The Wall Street Journal.

* The NASDAQ Composite is an unmanaged index of securities traded on the NASDAQ system.

* International investing involves special risks such as currency fluctuation and political instability and may not be suitable for all investors. These risks are often heightened for investments in emerging markets.

* Yahoo! Finance is the source for any reference to the performance of an index between two specific periods.

* The risk of loss in trading commodities and futures can be substantial. You should therefore carefully consider whether such trading is suitable for you in light of your financial condition. The high degree of leverage is often obtainable in commodity trading and can work against you as well as for you. The use of leverage can lead to large losses as well as gains.

* Opinions expressed are subject to change without notice and are not intended as investment advice or to predict future performance.

* Economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted and there can be no guarantee that strategies promoted will be successful.

* Past performance does not guarantee future results. Investing involves risk, including loss of principal.

* The foregoing information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee it is accurate or complete.

* There is no guarantee a diversified portfolio will enhance overall returns or outperform a non-diversified portfolio. Diversification does not protect against market risk.

* Asset allocation does not ensure a profit or protect against a loss.

* Consult your financial professional before making any investment decision.

Vladimir Putin’s Rewriting of History Draws on a Long Tradition of Soviet Myth-Making (Smithsonian)

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Welcome to the Block Party

Since I’m new to Indies United Publishing House, I’m hanging out at the pot-luck table and meeting my IUPH colleagues. What a creative and unique crowd! Let me introduce them to you with my new BABS segment: Indies Interviews.

Indies United Publishing House

“Most traditional publishing venues are like a very nice formal dinner party where everything is planned and always follows the same formula. The food is generally good, the entertainment acceptable without being distracting, the conversation predictable, the event exclusive, and always formal. Indie publishing is more like going to a block party. The food is still good, but everyone brings to the table something from their own kitchen, the music is lively, the attire is generally casual, and you never know who you’ll meet or what they may say when you do.” ~Lisa Orban

“Dystopian fiction lured me in because it grants me creative freedom. My characters and fabricated worlds allow me to take the story in the direction I want it to go.”

Jake Cavanah began telling stories before he knew how to write. He’d iterate them to his father, who did it for him until he learned himself. Being an editor for his high school’s newspaper and majoring in journalism kept Jake writing, but it wasn’t until after college he realized his passion: creating stories from his own imagination. Part of Jake’s inspiration comes from reading across many genres. While he enjoys reading and does so almost every day, he also utilizes it as a time to learn. Different styles influence his work, but when it comes time for him to write, he focuses on telling the story he wants to. Jake’s goal is to broaden readers’ perspectives on society, the less fortunate, and themselves. If he accomplishes this, he will consider his work a success.

He published his first novel The Abandoned in September 2021 and authored the short story series Impoverished Wealth. Jake lives in Portland, Oregon with his girlfriend Scout and two dogs Murphy and Sophie.

https://jakecavanah.com Amazon Author Profile Newsletter Instagram Twitter

The Interview

When did you know you wanted to be a writer? 

If I had listened to my gut, the answer would be when I was a kid, but since I didn’t, it was after I graduated college. It took me almost two years to write, and although I always have a plan, but it usually blows up a few pages in.

How did you pick the genre you write in?

I wanted the flexibility to create my own worlds while including real-life elements from today’s world, and dystopian fiction allows me to do exactly that. The Abandoned tells the story of two women taken away from their parents at a very young age. During the sonoravirus pandemic from 2030 to 2045, the government used Morple, an island off the coast of California to quarantine minorities, where sisters, Robin Karros’s and Ariana Jackson’s tragic journey began. As two of the first children officials raised in a state-run program responsible for inflicting severe abuse on Morple’s youth, they shared hardships that strengthened their bond. After a social revolution put an end to the program and freed them, Robin and Ariana went their separate ways. Now that it is 2089 and each has achieved prosperity, their paths intersect after spending the latter portion of their lives apart. Even though it goes against protocol, Ariana reestablishes a relationship with her older sister and integrates with her family. In doing so, she risks her marriage and her husband’s business interests. It soon becomes apparent the fate of Robin, Ariana, and others has been more intertwined than they ever could have imagined.

What do you consider your strengths and weaknesses  in terms of your writing? And what do you love about your book?

My passion [is my strength] because if a writer doesn’t have enough of that, he or she is more prone to give up, and my ability to keep people engaged. Overthinking minute details is a problem, and I overcome this by asking for others’ opinions. [My favorite thing about the book is] that it makes people feel something.

What is the most challenging part of your writing process and  what did you enjoy most about writing this book?

Liking what I’m writing [and conversely] entering the world I created.

Do you base any of your characters on real people? 

Yes, and that’s all I’ll say about that.

What was the best writing advice someone gave you? 

“Being distinct is what separates a special artist from the rest.” I heard a man at a coffee shop say this to his date when they were talking about their favorite artists and writers. It really stuck with me.

What’s your writing schedule and do you have  a day job?

[I’m a] Content Writer. [I write] Mondays-Fridays from  5:45 a.m. – 6:45 a.m. and then some evenings, and every Sunday until the inspiration runs out.

Have any writers inspired you? Your favorite book? 

Don Winslow and Karine Tull. [My favorite book is] The Appeal and The Age of Reinvention.

What do you do when you are not writing? 

Read, cook, hang out with my dogs, and golf.

If you could live in another time period, what would it be?

The Wild West. And I want to visit Colombia.

Looking to the future, what’s in store for you? 

I’m just going to continue writing down what goes through my head and see what happens.

What are you currently working on? 

Impoverished Wealth: The Anthology, an anthology with four short stories that will be published in June 2022 by Indies United Publishing House. 

Do you have any advice for new writers?

Keep writing, no matter what.

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Author Spotlight: ANA MANWARING

Tell Me a Story

I’m excited to showcase a new book by seasoned author and poet, Ana Manwaring in this month’s Author Spotlight! Ana is a creative writing teacher and book editor from northern California. Her poetry, personal narratives, book reviews and short stories have appeared in diverse publications including the California Quarterly, KRCB Radio, Morning Haiku, and Mystery Readers Journal. She has also written a lifestyle column for a local paper, prepared taxes, taught ESL, worked for a PI, consulted brujos and outrun gun totin’ maniacs on lonely Mexican highways—the inspiration for The JadeAnne Stone Mexico Adventures. After earning her M.A., Ana finally answered her mother’s question, “What are you planning to do with that expensive education?” Be a writer!

Let’s talk about Set Up, Manwaring’s latest title. Who is Jade-Anne Stone and what is she doing in Mexico?

A case to locate an American missing from the resorts of Ixtapa…

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Cybercrime Suspense

Everyone knows I love suspense, mystery and thrillers and no subgenre of crime writing comes with more suspense than a cybercrime caper. Maybe it’s because I’m more than a little tech challenged, but the world of cybercrime is mysterious and frightening to me. And a good cybercrime novel is like a roller coaster ride—a big thrill, but inherently safe. You get to read about the “mysteries” of the cyber world tucked into a blanket in your reading chair safe behind your strong passwords. Ok, maybe the stories will keep you awake or give you strange dreams, but isn’t that part of the thrill?

Here are three cybercrime books I’ve loved—two new and one new to me. All are written by my Sisters in Crime NorCal siblings.

Lisa Towles Ninety-Five—Once You’re In, There’s No Way Out! Indies United Publishing House

And that’s the truth. I couldn’t stop reading. I blazed right through this  YA to Adult thriller set in Chicago, or specifically, a shadow world with dark web ties hidden in an abandoned industrial area near the University of Chicago. Transfer student, Zac Skinner stumbles into a scam to drug students and video them in criminal activity in order to blackmail them to continue committing crimes or be expelled. But Zac isn’t going to play along, and at great risk—they’re watching him— he starts to follow the pieces of the puzzle and unravel a web of deception spun by an organized crime underworld. I read most of the night then dreamed peculiar dreams filled with fast-paced action, digital age jargon and shifts and twists aplenty. Just like the plot of Ninety-Five!  Towles’ writing is sharp and witty with crisp dialog, tight narration, well-crafted characters and a hold-on-to your hat thrilling story. Kudos to the mistress of the suspense puzzle novel! 

Glenda Carroll Dead Code—A Trisha Carson Mystery Indies United Publishing House

Trisha Carson is back, but she’s not in the water. This time she’s landed on a fire road on Mt. Tamalpais in a viper’s nest of cybercriminals—and she’s the prize of their twisted game. Trisha is an open water swimming  competitor with mayhem, murder, and bad luck following in her wake. She’s mostly gotten over the  disappearance of her husband, but she’s battling PTSD from her last caper. Now she’s confronted with another disappearance—this time the grandson of a good friend—and Trisha can’t let it alone. What she doesn’t know is she’s being watched: through hacked keystrokes, through the handsome new man who has swum into her life, and even her smart refrigerator, Frida, is keeping tabs on her movements. As Trisha, her sister Lena and a hacker who would prefer to remain anonymous, uncover the clues, a scary cybercrime network is revealed. And if she doesn’t stop the nefarious plan, it spells disaster for the West Coast. But true to her innate bravery, tenacious instincts and cunning mind, Trisha infuriates family and friends with her intrepid march deeper into the shadows of Mt. Tamalpais where cyber evil lurks. Of course she triumphs over the reversals and setbacks in her path, and redeems herself with her people. Trisha is a complex, evolving character with a lot of moxie, sometimes too little good sense, and always offering this reader a new learning experience. Author Glenda Carroll asked me to beta read Dead Code and I enjoyed every second of my reunion with Trisha Carson and this suspense-filled, fast- paced mystery. By the way, Dead Code’s cover is spectacular! Don’t miss it. When will book 4 come out?

Please read my review of Trisha Carson’s first caper, Dead in the Water, here on Building a Better Story.

Reece Hirsch Surveillance—Book 3 of the Chris Bruen Novels Thomas and Mercer

Surveillance is a chilling look at data gathering and an un-put-downable read. Big Brother really is watching us. Just ask former cybercrimes prosecutor, Chris Bruen and his “hactivist” partner, Zoey Doucet. The day they open their San Francisco law firm, Ian Ayres, an “ethical” hacker, brings a case.  Discredited by his former employer after he tested the online systems’s security and discovered files on a top-secret governmental surveillance agency’s program, Skeleton Key, he’s on the run and turns to Chris and Zoey. But the agency’s program can break any encryption to surveil the citizenry, and after an off-site meeting Chris discovers two of his employees dead and an assassin waiting for him in his brand new office. The trio flees, although separately, on a blood-pumping race to survive, from California to Ecuador to Mexico to Russia evading the grey-suited assassins tasked with terminating them to protect the government’s dirty secret. Barely a step ahead of their pursuers, Chris and Zoey reunite, but there’s nowhere to hide when the enemy can tap into every phone call, email, CCTV feed, bank card transaction, or Internet usage. The plot is non-stop high stakes excitement—not a little terrifying in the cyber age. And Hirsch’s writing is intelligent, gripping and gritty in its mastery of pacing and plotting. But this cutting-edge story is more than heart-stopping action. It explores the morality of surveillance, hacking, and above all, privacy. If you don’t ramp up your personal cyber security after reading Surveillance, you have no one else to blame!

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A Plague of Traitors

A LEINE BASSO THRILLER

BY DV BERKOM

AS MANY OF MY READERS KNOW, I never miss DV Berkom’s Leine Basso adventures. Leine, a former dark ops CIA assassin has become a kick-ass champion of trafficked people over her series, but this book is a departure from her work with the NGO. Leine is asked to train a group of ex-military for a joint CIA op to recover a deadly substance. Created by a Russian lab, the vials of virus are now in the hands of a jihadist. As the chase across Africa ensues, it’s clear that there are more players than the terrorist Samir and Leine’s team. A Plague of Traitors is a heart-pounding, horrifying, page turner—especially after what we know about pandemics since COVID. The story kept me awake after I was finally able to put the book down.

Another hit in the series!

Now available on Kindle Unlimited

The Leine Basso Thriller Series:
A Killing Truth
Serial Date
Bad Traffick
The Body Market
Cargo
The Last Deception
Dark Return
Absolution
Dakota Burn
Shadow of the Jaguar
A Plague of Traitors (August 2021)

DV Berkom is the USA Today bestselling author of action-packed, riveting adventure and crime thrillers. Known for creating resilient, kick-ass female characters and page-turning plots, her love of the genre stems from a lifelong addiction to reading spy novels, action/adventure stories, and thrillers. 

A restless soul and adventurer at heart, she spent years moving around the US and traveling to exotic locales before she wrote her first novel and was hooked. More than a dozen books later, she now makes her home in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, Mark, and several imaginary characters who like to tell her what to do. Her most recent books include the Claire Whitcomb Western Series: Retribution, Gunslinger, and Legend, and the latest in the Leine Basso thriller series: A Plague of Traitors, Shadow of the Jaguar, Dakota Burn, and Absolution. DV’s currently hard at work on her next thriller.

For more information, visit her website at www.dvberkom.com. To be the first to hear about new releases and subscriber-only offers, go to: bit.ly/DVB_RL

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Cute Dog Pictures

How can you not love that face!

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The Witness Protection Program Poets Chapbook Launch

You’re invited! The Witness Protection Program Poets request the pleasure of your company at the LAUNCH PARTY for our new Chapbooks on Tuesday, May 18th at 3:00 PM. Zoom Link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85937283823?pwd=TW1Kc005aVh1dS8rU1J0Y2ljZzZtdz09 FUN Please keep your microphone muted upon entry.

The Witness Protection Poets Chapbook Collective Presents

Lies and lockdowns

     elections and insurrections

uprisings and upheavals

     fires and floods—it’s been a world of dread

and extinction     hard pressed to find distinction.

     Yet

with changes and challenges 

inspiration    often perspiration

     always motivation—

 this group of poets has grabbed

     the bad

 turned lemons into sweet, sweet      pies.

                                                                                                                                                           

On Mayday, the Witness Protection Program Poets exchanged their first ever collection of chapbooks. Seventeen  writers dug deep into their hearts and souls to make sense of the world around us—for the happier or sadder, the bolder or the fearful, in awe or anger. 

Take founder Nick Triglia‘s 21 Reasons to Slit One’s Wrists— “2.                    ”  ( you fill in the blank!) in The Backroom of the Believe It or Not Museum of Prose and Poetry,   or  Betsy Roman’s, A Chronicle Through Chaos: A poetic preservation of unhinged history sifted from the debris of Election 2020— “Black lives    white lies    orange skiesperfectly sums it up.  

Antonia’ Allegra’s ConverSAYtions offers clever word play and solid advice: “Considering conflicting news/rushing at us like/water from a fire hose,/take U and E from FAUCETS/to reveal the FACTS.”  Valli Ferrell’s Lens, tells us How To Be Cheerful,  “Do appreciate/ do say it/ out loud to no one/ to the bird trill in the brittle cold air.” And  Dina Corcoran’s Christmas Cards reminds us: “My life is richer for [our] continued contact. . .[they] are treasures.”

The poems  take us on journeys of discovery, of contemplation, joy and song.  Marianne Lyon Travels with Aruba, her Love-Dog— “Come   love-dog let us take a meander. . . ” Cathy Carsell‘s Of Earth and Sky filled with poetic lyrics and refrains transport us away: “There’s music in the wind/in New Orleans late at night/as it moves through the treetops/on a warm spring night. . .Music in the wind/Listen in. . . .” 

These chapbooks offer us reflections on nature. Marilyn Dykstra writes in Full Circle ReflectionsSycamore Grove Park Haiku #3—”Black ashen earth/Soaked with recent autumn rains,/A green carpet sprouts“.  Nathaniel Winters advises us, “Without the birds and bees no flowers appear/food becomes scarce/animals and man become endangered/love can’t bloom” in Art of Living from his collection, Seeking SunshineAnd from Yvonne Henry’s poems and art work, 6:57 AM “The sun rose slightly/ askew/ causing/ for a moment/ the dove and I to tilt our heads.”

Diego on My Mind, Frida Kahlo

“Ekphrastic fantastic” poet James McDonald reflects on art in Visual Language, “Diego the last thought, always Diego/ my essence reaches out/ for rebirth in the rich soil/ fertile in death/ barren in life/ from Diego On My Mind. 

These writings cause us to consider our losses and our longings—from  “Tangential” by Sarah Miller in Off on a Tangent:  “Like the time my hand brushed her hair/ from her dying forehead/ like you wished you had” or, “Give me back that summer/ even the tattling sister/ once a waterskiing champion, destined/ for deep, slow rotting in her bones.” from “Deep, Slow” in Little Palace of Illness by Ana Manwaring, and from Things I’m Wrestling With , “Miscarriage” by Noel Robinson, “Pregnancy loss does not define a woman. It is merely the involuntary actions of the uterus that brings death to the fetus. If the life inside the mother perishes, she survives along with her dreams and hopes. I know, I am part of the woodwork containing the sorrow of the past. . . .” 

Finally, many of the poems, essays, and memoir written in these chapbooks make us look at our lives and into our hearts to know the truth of our own humanity. Through the eyes and words of others we come to complete ourselves. In the words of Arthur T. Robinson in his introduction to Riding the Goat: An Anti-memoir,  “. . .writers of all cultures , genders, and ages have wrestled with the tricky stance of writing. . . one’s past real, seeking out . . .  patterns, and  deducing vital lessons.”   

Join the conversation—come for the FUN!

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85937283823?pwd=TW1Kc005aVh1dS8rU1J0Y2ljZzZtdz09

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Up Against the Firing Squad

I haven’t posted in ages. Busy battling COVID fatigue, publishing a new collection of poetry—Little Palace of Illness, revising my third JadeAnne Stone Mexico Adventure, Nothing Comes After Z (slated to publish in early summer), raking our eucalyptus forest and working on Saints and Skeletons, a memoir of my years in Mexico. In between all that, I try to keep up with the outrages of climate change, racial injustice, and American politics and policy. I don’t usually comment publicly about this stuff, but this news bite I read this afternoon on the Huffington Post slays me:

SOUTH CAROLINA ADDS FIRING SQUAD TO EXECUTION METHODS The South Carolina House voted to add a firing squad to the state’s execution methods amid a lack of lethal-injection drugs — a measure meant to jump-start executions in a state that once had one of the busiest death chambers in the nation. Condemned inmates will have to choose either being shot or electrocuted if lethal injection drugs aren’t available. [AP]

Philly
Firing squads  as we know them began with the invention of gunpowder and firearms and became the standard method of execution for militaries across the centuries. Although guns are more lethal than ever before, in the 21st century firing squads are out of fashion. Many countries have banned them, and the countries where firing squads are still legal are slowly abandoning them as a form of execution— except ours.

Typically, death by firing squad is a military form of execution, the go-to method of dispatching soldiers. Using a firing squad makes punishment a communal event. The offender is killed by his or her peers, using weapons the soldiers all use in combat, reinforcing the community over the individual offender.

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In the US only four states, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Utah, and newly voted in—South Carolina use firing squads, although Wyoming and Missouri are open to using firing squads as well. It’s cheaper and more effective for the sate. In most other US states, execution by firing squad is considered “cruel and unusual punishment” and therefore in opposition to the 8th amendment.

My mental image of a firing squad is of the blindfolded captive tied to a stake with a row of uniformed agents of a fascist state taking aim. . .or men, women, and children lined up in front of a ditch. . . or rival gang members slumped against a blood stained wall. A firing squad is the act of barbarians, megalomaniacs, power mongers, not the act of a civilized state. This is one more indication the US lacks civility.


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Puppy Pics

Adorable!

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