Dawn Pisturino's Blog

My Writing Journey

Books and Censorship

“Censorship — The Assassination of an Idea.” ~Bookmans Entertainment Exchange~

What’s in the raging flame
of banned books burning?
Knowledge, truth, learning,
courage, freedom, yearning.
~Terri Guillemets~

Banned Books Week will be held from September 18 – 24, 2022. But censorship is an everyday concern, especially for writers, poets, artists, journalists, and other creative people. We’re seeing too much of it right now in the current political climate.

We’ve seen authors mobbed on Amazon and other sites and deliberately given poor ratings simply because the content of a book did not conform to the narrative of the people mobbing the book. This is using censorship and harassment (bullying) to create a politically correct environment where creativity is essentially dead. Show me one writer/artist worth his salt who is politically correct! Only sell-outs conform to the mob.

(Berlin book burning, 1933)

The Nazis confiscated and burned any book that they deemed “un-German.” What does that even mean? No more French porn? No Italian cookbooks? No English poetry? Who decided what was “un-German?” And it wasn’t just books that were condemned. Music, architecture, inventions, paintings, sculptures, and even dress fashions had to conform to a certain German aesthetic. Who wants to live like that? Who wants the government deciding what you can eat, read, think, create?

The Bolsheviks did the same thing after the Russian Revolution of 1917. Anything reminiscent of the previous regime was confiscated, suppressed, burned, destroyed, and labeled “too bourgeois.” The great Russian composer, Rachmaninoff, emigrated to America because his music was condemned by the Communist authorities. The great Russian writer, Boris Pasternak, author of Doctor Zhivago, was censored and suppressed. If his novel had not been smuggled out of Russia, a great piece of literature would have been lost to the world. Doctor Zhivago describes this shameful period in world history.

Chairman Mao did the same thing in China. The Chinese Communist Party is STILL suppressing free speech and writers who speak out against oppression. The CCP STILL controls access to information and the content of that information. American companies like Twitter and Facebook help the CCP censor and control information in China. That’s how they are allowed to do business there.

In the United States, the U.S. Constitution and the First Amendment GUARANTEE every American citizen the right of free speech and peaceable assembly to express that free speech. Free speech makes some people uncomfortable. It causes some people to feel threatened. It makes some people close their minds to new ideas. It opens the minds of others. It is divisive, combative, uniting, liberating, threatening, and compromising — all at the same time. Free speech is the basis of CREATIVITY. Free speech is the foundation of FREEDOM. Taking it one step further, FREEDOM is the bedrock on which FREE SPEECH and CREATIVITY stand. If we lose our freedom and submit to totalitarianism, we may as well start looking for another universe to inhabit, because the freedom to CREATE and EXPRESS OURSELVES will be as extinct as the dinosaurs.

(NOTE: violence is not an expression of free speech and is NOT protected by the U.S. Constitution. Devolving into burning, looting, shooting, destroying private and public property, tearing down statues, committing assault and battery, killing police, and threatening people, is just criminal behavior committed by people who have no respect for law and order. These people belong in jail. Furthermore, there is a big difference between exercising free speech and engaging in a two-way debate and just being rude, ill-mannered, and stupid. There was a time when our society valued good manners and intelligent debate.)

(NOTE: Some famous writers banned or partially banned in Nazi Germany: Aldous Huxley, Ernest Hemingway, Hermann Hesse, C.S. Lewis, Jack London, Franz Kafka, Thomas Mann, George Orwell, J.R.R. Tolkien, Mark Twain, H.G. Wells, and Oscar Wilde.)

Thank you for stopping by!

Dawn Pisturino

January 7, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

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Legend of the Dream Catcher

from St. Joseph’s Indian School, Chamberlain, South Dakota (Lakota Sioux Tribe):
 
“Native Americans of the Great Plains believe the air is filled with both good and bad dreams. Historically, dream catchers were hung in the tipi or lodge and on a baby’s cradle board.
 
“According to legend, the good dreams pass through the center hole to the sleeping person. The bad dreams are trapped in the web, where they perish in the light of dawn.”
 
Visit their website here: 

http://www.stjo.org
 
And pleasant dreams!

Dawn Pisturino
November 29, 2021


16 Comments »

A Tribute to Native American Culture

(Oraibi Hopi Village, Northern Arizona, now abandoned. Public Domain photo.)

I was blessed with the opportunity to work with the Native American tribes in Northern Arizona when I worked in Flagstaff: Navajo, Hopi, Apache, and Supai. It was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Not only did I work with them in a medical capacity, but also as a psychiatric nurse. I met a lot of wonderful people, a lot of talented artists, and learned a lot about Native American culture.

Hopi/Tewa artist Duane Koyawena. Photo from Arizona Daily Sun.

Duane was one of my co-workers. He is not only an incredible artist, but a beautiful human being. Here’s an example of his work:

This painting won 1st prize in Fine Arts, Tahisma Art Show.

In 2017, I commissioned Duane to create a painting for my daughter for Christmas, which she loves. If you are interested in Duane’s work, please visit his website:

Duane Koyawena Arts

http://www.dkoyawenaarts.com

He also paints fabulous murals for community and corporate interior and exterior design.

A musical tribute to Native Americans all across America: a blend of Native American instruments and voices with western instruments and music. This clip features Gods & Heroes, Dela Dela, and A-La-Ke. Length: 9:55 minutes and worth watching for the music and the artwork.
Gathering of Nations Pow Wow in Albuquerque, New Mexico. A National Geographic video by Keeley Gould. 700 tribes gathered over 3 days to celebrate Native American cultural heritage. Length: 4:10 minutes and worth watching for the information and dancing.
(Havasu Falls, Havasupai Indian Reservation. Photo by M. Quinn)

Dawn Pisturino

November 22, 2021

Copyright 2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

25 Comments »

Reprise: The Ethereal World of Sir Simon Marsden

Sir Simon Marsden (1948-2012) was known as an ethereal British photographer who transported the viewer to a dark and phantasmic world with his eerie photographs. Introduced by his father at a young age to books and stories about the supernatural, Marsden developed a keen interest in the paranormal. He even grew up in two English manors that were allegedly haunted, Panton Hall and Thorpe Hall. Thorpe Hall, in particular, housed the “Green Lady,” the ghost of a woman who committed suicide in the 1600s.

Marsden became a fan of such writers as Arthur Machen, M.R. James, and Edgar Allen Poe. At the age of 21, he received his first camera and embarked on a lifelong love affair with photography. He traveled throughout Britain, France, and the United States, perfecting his signature style, and became known for his haunting images of haunted sites.

A number of books were published featuring his photographs, and his work was exhibited throughout Britain and elsewhere. He was a master in the use of infrared film and printing his own photographs, which gave him control over the quality of his work.

A staunch believer in the supernatural, Marsden described several paranormal encounters that he experienced at ancient haunted sites. At the Rollright Stones in Long Compton, Warwickshire, he was pushed by an invisible force, which knocked the camera out of his grasp. At Woodlawn House in County Gallway, he and director Jason Figgis heard the mournful wailing of a woman who could not be found anywhere on the premises.

Marsden became 4th Baronet in 1997. His collection can be viewed here:

http://www.marsdenarchive.com.

Dawn Pisturino

August 2017

Published in the Autumn 2017 issue of Psychic Magic e-zine.

Copyright 2017-2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

Photo by Sir Simon Marsden.
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Andalusia Spain: The Flower of Islamic Civilization

When Tariq ibn Ziyad and his Berber troops crossed the Straits of Gibraltar into southern Spain in 711 to displace the Visigoths, little did he know that Spain would one day exemplify the Golden Age of Islamic civilization.  The Moorish invasion into Seville, Toledo, Cordoba, Granada, and other Spanish sites brought lasting influences onto Spanish culture, architecture, and knowledge that ultimately benefited Europe as a whole.

In 750, the Umayyad caliphate in Damascus was overthrown by the Abbasids. Abd al-Rahman, an Umayyad prince, escaped to Andalusian Spain.  “In 756, with barely a whimper of opposition from the man who believed himself the emir, the governor, Abd al-Rahman moved into the old city of Cordoba and declared it the new House of the Umayyads, the legitimate continuation of the ruling family that the Abbasids thought they had exterminated and replaced” (Menocal 4).

Al-Rahman set about replicating in Andalusia the splendid culture of the Umayyad caliphate that had existed in Damascus.  The Great Mosque in Cordoba, with its beautiful red arches and intricate ceilings, still stands intact —a lasting testimony to his work.  In 929, Abd al-Rahman III ascended to the throne, ushering in the great Golden Age of Islamic civilization in Spain.  In 1031 the Ummayad caliphate was abandoned in favor of small city-states.  “Seville, Cordoba, Toledo, Badajoz, Saragossa, Valencia, Granada, and others” (Esposito 34) competed with each other economically and militarily, which weakened Islamic Spain and helped the Christians in Northern Spain to reconquer Islamic territories in the south (Esposito 35).

According to Maria Rosa Menocal, Andalusia evolved into a great Islamic civilization because it incorporated three basic elements: “ethnic pluralism, religious tolerance, and a variety of important forms of what we could call cultural secularism—secular poetry and philosophy—that were not understood, by those who pursued them, to be un- or anti-Islamic”.  This tolerance and hunger for knowledge led to the Transmission Movement which would become so important to the preservation of ancient texts and the expansion of Christian Europe.

While Europe was enduring devastating invasions by barbaric hordes, “the widespread and rapid translation of Greek philosophical and scientific works into Arabic following the Muslim conquests of the seventh and eighth centuries” (Turner 209) led to the widespread dissemination of this knowledge across the Muslim world.  In Andalusia, under the 10th century caliph Hakam II, “one royal library is said to have amassed four hundred thousand books” (Esposito 175) on a variety of sciences.  Later on, 12th century Andalusian theorists Ibn Rushd (known as Averroes), Ibn Bajja, Jabir ibn Aflah, Ibn Tufayl, and Abu Ishaq al-Bitruji debated the virtues and defects of Ptolemaic astronomy.   “Of these, al-Bitruji was the only one to formulate an alternative . . . proposed model” (Esposito 175).

Ethnically, the Andalusian population included Jews, Celts, Arabs, Visigoths, and Romans.  Religious groups included Muslims and the dhimmi or People of the Book: Jews and Christians.  Christians living under Arab rule were called Mozarabs (Melacon 5; Turner 209; Esposito 318).  Christians were often reluctant to assimilate into Islamic culture (Esposito 34).  Nonetheless, Jews and Christians were protected and welcomed into Andalusia by virtue of their belief in Abraham and the One God.

Jews thrived in Andalusia when they re-discovered Hebrew and used it in the same multipurpose ways “as the Arabic that was the native language of the Andalusian community” (Melacon 7).  Jews began to write poetry in Hebrew, inspired by Arab poets.  Maimonides, the well-remembered Jewish philosopher, wrote works in both Arabic and Hebrew (Esposito 33).

The Islamization of southern Spain was not without difficulties, however.  Under Abd al-Rahman III, Andalusia reached the height of its greatness.  Muslims, Jews, and Christians all contributed to increased knowledge in “the arts, literature, astronomy, medicine, and other cultural and scientific disciplines” (Esposito 318).  Although many Christians did convert or assimilate into Islamic culture, Muslim jurists sometimes felt threatened by this and warned against Christian influence as “contamination and a threat to the faith of  Muslim societies” (Esposito 318).  Jews and Christians were forced to learn Arabic, whether they wanted to or not.  And the loose morals of upper class Muslims often offended Jews, Christians, and Muslim clerics.  Jews and Christians were always regarded as infidels by Muslims, no matter how much they assimilated into Arabic culture.  When Abu Amir al Mansur (Almanzor) became ruler in the late 10th century, he began “a series of ruthless campaigns against Christians, including the plundering of churches and other Christian sites” (Esposito 320).  The gulf between Jews, Christians, and Muslims grew wider.  Muslim rulers, fearing the missionary zeal and influence of Christians, segregated them into isolated communities.  Christian military forces reconquered Cordoba, Valencia, and Seville in the early 13th century.  By the end of 1492 Granada fell, and that was the end of Moorish rule in Spain.

Some of the Moorish contributions which have had a lasting influence on Spanish culture include the importation and cultivation of citrus fruits; the production of paper and olive oil; the invention of the guitar; and “Arabic coffee culture” (Robert Thomas, 2011).  The tourist trade is boosted by the rich architectural heritage left by the Moors. 

The Alhambra in Granada, completed in the 14th century, was erected by the Nasrids.  “It comprises the most extensive remains of a medieval Islamic palace anywhere and is one of the most famous monuments in all Islamic art” (Blair and Bloom, 124).  The Great Mosque of Cordoba, remembered for its beautiful red arches, and completed in 965, boasts carved marble panels decorated with fragile arabesques, whose “popularity lasted until the fourteenth century . . .” (Esposito 239).  After the reconquista, “many mosques were changed into churches.  In Seville, for example, the top of the fifty-meter-high minaret of the Almohed mosque, built from 1184 to 1198, was remodeled and transformed into a cathedral bell tower” (Esposito 305).  The Great Mosque of Cordoba was converted into a Catholic church but still retains Qur’anic quotations and decorations on its interior designs.  Many mosques were demolished or stripped of all Islamic associations.  The distinctive Moorish architectural style remains on both secular and religious buildings, however, throughout southern Spain.    

Andalusian Spain perfected the art of making ceramics (called lusterware), glass mosaics, colorful tiles, and silk textiles (Esposito 254-256). Couscous, a traditional North African food staple, adds a flavorful diversity to Spanish cuisine.  Some experts even believe that flamenco, the exotic Spanish dance, was influenced by the Moors (Robert Thomas, 2011).

Andalusia Spain became a bridge between the Muslim world and Europe.  After the reconquista of southern Spain, Arabic texts were translated into Latin and exported to Europe.  The Muslim contributions to medicine, science, and philosophy were included in those texts and exerted a profound influence on European thought and development.

Modern Muslims are re-discovering their historic contributions to the arts and sciences and gaining a newfound pride in their accomplishments.  The Western world is now more open to giving them credit for those accomplishments.  The historic accomplishments and events of the Moors are celebrated throughout southern Spain with festivals, parades, and other special celebrations.

Dawn Pisturino

Thomas Edison State University

February 4, 2019

Copyright 2019-2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

Works Cited

Blair, Sheila S., and Bloom, Jonathan. The Art and Architecture of Islam, 1250-1800. New

       Haven: 1996.

Esposito, John L. The Oxford History of Islam. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.

Menocal, Maria Rosa. “Culture in the Time of Tolerance: Al-Andalus as a Model for Our Time.”

       Occasional Papers. 2000. Yale Law School Legal Scholarship Repository. 2000.

       <http://digitalcommons.law.yale.edu/ylsop_papers/1&gt;.

Thomas, Robert, Dir. Andalusia: The Legacy of the Moors. Perf. Robert Elms. Alpha Television

       Production, 2011.

Turner, Howard R. Science in Medieval Islam: An Illustrated Introduction. Austin: 1997.

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Angel Art – The Archangel Michael

Artwork by Luca Giordano

Michael means “who is as God.” Among Jews, Christians, and Muslims, he is the highest angel in the hierarchy of angels. His occult name is Sabathiel. In Islam, he is known as Mika’il. The Zoroastrian book, Avesta, portrays him as Saosyhant, the redeemer.

As chief among angels, he is revered as the “angel of repentance, righteousness, mercy, and sanctification.” He stands guard over the nation of Israel. He is a known enemy of Satan. As the Prince of Light, he leads the angels of God against the angels of Satan in the Dead Sea scroll, The War of the Sons of Light Against the Sons of Darkness. In the Last days, he is the fierce angel who will finally slay the Dragon (Satan).

In 1950, Pope Pius XII affirmed Michael as the patron of policemen. Today, he watches over all first responders. He has been identified as the angel who stopped Abraham from sacrificing his son, Isaac, although this act has also been attributed to other angels, such as Metatron. Jewish tradition describes him as “the fire that Moses saw in the burning bush . . . ,” although some scholars attribute this to Zagzagel. Michael may have been one of the three angels who visited Abraham in his tent. Religious lore credits him with assisting the other three archangels – Raphael, Uriel, and Gabriel – with burying the body of Moses. In fact, Michael has been identified as the angel who fought with Satan over Moses’ body.

Islamic lore describes him as bearing wings “of the color of green emerald.” His body “is covered with saffron hairs, each of them containing a million faces and mouths and as many tongues which, in a million dialects, implore the pardon of Allah.” The Qu’ran claims the cherubim were created from Michael’s tears. The Persians regarded him as the sustainer of mankind.

Catholics pray for Michael’s heavenly intercession as St. Michael. They regard him as God’s warrior who protects the faithful from the Devil’s wily snares. As the angel of death, prayers to St. Michael request his intercession in a good and holy death. Fra Filippo portrayed him as the messenger who announced to the Virgin Mary that she would soon be taken up into Heaven.

Michael’s feast day is September 29th (the Feast of the Archangels).

Prayer to St. Michael, the Archangel

Saint Michael, the Archangel,

Defend us in battle!

Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil;

May God rebuke him, we humbly pray;

And do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host,

By the power of God, thrust into hell Satan and all evil spirits

Who wander through the world for the ruin of souls.

Amen.

(1932)

(Eastern Orthodox Church icons) – The Eastern Orthodox Church celebrates Michael’s feast day on November 8th.

This painting by Cesare Nebbia tells the story of the four apparitions of Michael, the Archangel, that allegedly occurred in Southern Italy many centuries ago.

Apparition #1: A wealthy landowner, named Gargano, in the 3rd to 8th century C.E., lost a bull, became angry when he found the bull grazing near a cave, and shot a poisoned arrow at him. Miraculously, the arrow turned around and shot him instead! The local bishop ordered three days of prayer and fasting. On the third day, Michael appeared to the bishop and ordered him to “dedicate the cave to Christian worship.” Since the cave had been used by pagan worshippers in the past, the bishop did not honor Michael’s request.

Apparition #2: Michael allegedly appeared again in the year 492 C.E., but scholars have determined that the apparition actually occurred later, inspiring Duke Grimoaldo I to defeat the Greeks on May 8, 663 C.E., who had attacked the Sanctuary of Gargano. May 8th is now celebrated in the Roman Catholic Church as the Feast of the Anniversary of the Apparitions of St. Michael, the Archangel.

Apparition #3: After the victory over the Greeks, the cave was finally dedicated by local bishops to St. Michael. But Michael is reported to have said, “I founded it, I myself consecrated it.” When the bishops arrived at the cave, they found Michael’s footprint in a crude stone altar that was already erected there. Since then, the cave has been called the “Celestial Basilica” because Michael consecrated it to himself!

Apparition #4: In 1656, Michael ordered Bishop Alfonso Puccinelli to bless the stones of his cave. Michael carved the sign of the cross and the letters “M.A.” onto the stones. He then told the bishop that “anyone carrying the stones would be immune to the plague” that was ravaging southern Italy. The bishop’s city was cured of illness. The stones, known as St. Michael’s relics, are now used in exorcisms.

In popular culture, Longfellow wrote, in The Golden Legend, that Michael was the spirit of the planet Mercury who brought patience to mankind. In the Hollywood movie, The Bishop’s Wife (1947), Cary Grant plays Michael in the form of a mysterious assistant who suddenly appears to aid the Episcopalian Bishop Brougham.

Dawn Pisturino

September 7, 2021

Copyright 2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

10 Comments »

Angel Art – The Archangel Gabriel

Artwork by Gaudenzio Ferrari

Gabriel means “God is my strength.” In Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, he is regarded as the angel of “annunciation, resurrection, mercy, vengeance, death, and revelation.” His primary role is that of God’s messenger. His most important task in the New Testament was announcing to a young Jewish virgin that she would soon become the Mother of God’s Son, Jesus Christ (known as the Annunciation).

Islamic tradition names Gabriel (Jibril) as the angel with “140 pairs of wings” who revealed the Qu’ran to the Prophet Muhammad.

Gabriel has sometimes been identified as the angel who destroyed Sodom and Gommorah. In Jewish tradition, he is featured in the Book of Daniel as the angel who rescued Hannaniah (Shadrach), Mishael (Meshach), and Azariah (Abed-Nego) from the fiery furnace. (After the exile to Babylon, Daniel and his fellow chamberlains were given Babylonian names.)

Joan of Arc testified that it was the archangel Gabriel who inspired her to embark on her great mission to save France from British domination.

Literary figures such as John Milton portrayed Gabriel as commander of God’s angelic forces in Heaven. Longfellow wrote about him as “the angel of the moon who brings man[kind] the gift of hope.”

In the Catholic Church, Gabriel’s feast day is September 29th (the Feast of the Archangels):

In the Eastern Orthodox Church, November 8th is Gabriel’s feast day:

(Eastern Orthodox Church icon)

In occult circles, wearing an angel Gabriel talisman modeled after the Grimoire of Armadel, brings the wearer success in business and love, the blessing of many children, and magical powers.

Dawn Pisturino

September 1, 2021

Copyright 2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

6 Comments »

Angel Art – The Archangel Uriel

This painting by Leonardo Da Vinci, titled “The Virgin of the Rocks,” depicts the Virgin Mary, John the Baptist, the Child Jesus, and the Archangel Uriel.

Uriel means “fire of God.” In Catholic tradition, he was the angel that stood outside the Garden of Eden, after the expulsion of Adam and Eve, holding the revolving fiery sword. His feast day is celebrated on September 29th (the Feast of the Archangels).

In 1 Enoch, Uriel is the angel that “watches over thunder and terror.” In the apocryphal book, The Book of Adam and Eve, Uriel is the angel of salvation and repentance. II Esdras, an apocalyptic writing often included in the King James Bible, portrays Uriel as the angel who interprets Ezra’s dreams. Uriel has sometimes been identified as the angel who wrestled with Jacob at Peniel and helped bury the bodies of Adam and Abel in Paradise; as the messenger sent by God to warn Noah and his family about the flood; and the angel who destroyed 185,000 Assyrians in II Kings 19:35.

Occult literature names Uriel as the angel who brought alchemy down to earth from heaven, although many sources attribute this act to the angel Metatron.

John Milton, in Paradise Lost III, refers to Uriel as the “Regent of the Sun.” Dryden portrays him “as descending from heaven in a chariot drawn by white horses.”

The Eastern Orthodox Church celebrates Uriel’s feast day on November 8th:

(Eastern Orthodox Church icons)

Dawn Pisturino

August 30, 2021

Copyright 2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

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Angel Art – The Archangel Raphael

Artwork by Bartolome Esteban Murillo

The name Raphael means “God has healed.” The Archangel Raphael is mentioned in the Catholic Book of Tobit and 1 Enoch.

In The Book of Tobit, he disguises himself as a traveler and helps the son of Tobit, Tobias, pick up some money and take it back home to his father. He binds the demon Asmodeus, cures Sarah of a curse she has been living under, and heals Tobit of blindness. The happy result is that Tobias and Sarah get married and prosper. The Catholic Church regards Raphael as the patron of travelers (especially pilgrims), the blind, happy reunions, sacred marriage, nurses, doctors, and pharmacists, and matchmakers. In Italy, Raphael is the protector of sailors. He is a known enemy of Satan.

In 1 Enoch, Raphael was appointed the healer of all disease and wounds. He incapacitated the armies of Azazel and threw them into the fiery pit.

Jewish tradition regards Raphael as one of the angels who visited Abraham. He was appointed by God to heal Abraham after his late-life circumcision and to save Lot during the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Christian tradition tasked him with stirring the waters in the pool of Bethesda (John 5:2-4).

Muslims call Raphael Israfil. On the Day of Resurrection, he will blow the trumpet that calls the dead back to life:

Raphael’s feast day is September 29th in the Catholic Church (the Feast of the Archangels):
The Eastern Orthodox Church celebrates his feast day on November 8th:

(Eastern Orthodox Church icons)

Dawn Pisturino

August 29, 2021

Copyright 2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

2 Comments »

Weird Photography

weird 1 09 sept 2012 1825

weird 1 09 sept 2012 1825

weird b &amp; w 09 sept 2012 1759

Photos by Dawn Pisturino

Copyright 2012-2019 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

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