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Jessica
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Early Chapters (no spoilers): Alice's Mother

[ Edited ]

Alice says early in the novel, "My mother had spent nearly my whole life in her bedroom" (3). Discuss how this affects the Winston family dynamic. Why do you
think Marian chooses to live this way? Is it fair?



Reply to this message to discuss any of these topics. Or start your own new topic by clicking "New Message."

Note: This topic refers to the book as a whole.

Message Edited by basia on 06-04-200704:09 PM

Message Edited by basia on 06-04-200704:11 PM

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basia
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Re: The Book as a Whole: Alice's Mother

Alice's mother was one of the most disturbing things to me in this book, but I couldn't decide whether to resent her (like Alice does) for not taking more responsibility for her family, or to question why the family did not try to get her more help. (Anti-depressants? psycho therapy? counseling? something?).

The fact that she managed to drag herself out of bed for the visit of the grandparents, suggests that she did have some sense of what she was (or rather wan't) doing. Or the fact that she knew so much about what was going on with Alice or Joe.

So now that I think about it, I think she was an incredibly selfish and weak woman, who'd rather just lay in bed than take some responsibility for raising her children and helping out with the farm, being a wife. If I was Joe I would have.. I don't know, I guess smacking her wouldn't have done anything.

Anyways, that made me very angry. There are days when I don't feel like getting out of bed, but my son calls my name and I can't imagine ignoring him, that's really really disturbing.

I think that the mother is the main reason for Alice being the way she was, in terms of loneliness and insecurity. With a mother like that, it's a wander she wasn't even more messed up!
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basia
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Re: The Book as a Whole: Alice's Mother

Do you think the Winstons could have done anything to change the situation with the mother, to get her to get out of bed? I tend to think that therapy or drugs aren't in their culture (like they are in urban areas for example).
Maybe Joe could have taken her on a trip, or bought her a puppy, or got a social worker to vist her to talk, something like that.

PS Also, wouldn't she have gotten bedsores?
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vivico1
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Re: The Book as a Whole: Alice's Mother


basia wrote:
Alice's mother was one of the most disturbing things to me in this book, but I couldn't decide whether to resent her (like Alice does) for not taking more responsibility for her family, or to question why the family did not try to get her more help. (Anti-depressants? psycho therapy? counseling? something?).

The fact that she managed to drag herself out of bed for the visit of the grandparents, suggests that she did have some sense of what she was (or rather wan't) doing. Or the fact that she knew so much about what was going on with Alice or Joe.

So now that I think about it, I think she was an incredibly selfish and weak woman, who'd rather just lay in bed than take some responsibility for raising her children and helping out with the farm, being a wife. If I was Joe I would have.. I don't know, I guess smacking her wouldn't have done anything.

Anyways, that made me very angry. There are days when I don't feel like getting out of bed, but my son calls my name and I can't imagine ignoring him, that's really really disturbing.

I think that the mother is the main reason for Alice being the way she was, in terms of loneliness and insecurity. With a mother like that, it's a wander she wasn't even more messed up!




basia wrote:
Do you think the Winstons could have done anything to change the situation with the mother, to get her to get out of bed? I tend to think that therapy or drugs aren't in their culture (like they are in urban areas for example).
Maybe Joe could have taken her on a trip, or bought her a puppy, or got a social worker to vist her to talk, something like that.

PS Also, wouldn't she have gotten bedsores?
_________________________________________________________________________________-__


Wow, you are harsh basia :smileywink: Do you really think that just because she managed to come down when the grandparents were there proved she could do things but was just being selfish? This woman is suffering depression big time. The fact that she came down doesn't mean she isn't. Even people suffering from extreme depression can press themselves to do some things to "keep up certain appearances" and thats what Joe needed or wanted her to try to do. Think about how weak she was when she came down. Also that she just sat there and stared at first and didnt eat. Think about the fetal position that she often sat in, on a chair with her knees drawn up to her chest. Think about how Joe's mother handled her and worked to get her to eat, without actually feeding her. About how she talked to her and after some time Marian actually started to ask for food and finally did smile a little. She started to respond some to Joe's mom, almost like thats what she needed too, a mom's hand helping. Yeah Alice wanted the grandparents to stay because of the things she saw getting done by the grandfather and because of the way she saw her mom starting to respond and she knew her mom would be right back upstairs when they left. This is not so uncommon for people suffering from depression. They can rally some when there is someone helping them but also when someone else is doing the work that they just can't anymore out of the depression.

At times she tries to reach out to Alice when Alice goes up to her room, asking her to come sit by her but Alice doesn't. This is when you get a bit of insight into Alice's anger towards her mom, for not being a mom, for not being there for her father. Ironically enough, as much as Alice dreams of a mother holding her, she can't let her mom, shes mad but I think too, she doesn't know how or what will happen if she does. Taking her on a trip, buying her a puppy is not going to change what is going on inside her. You cant vacation depression away. I thought about them getting her a dog too after the story of the one she had and she might love it, but I really dont think it would get her out of that room any more than she does now. She would just keep it with her there. I don't know why she stays up there, there are many things you learn about her but I am not sure if it was a cumulative effect of things, or just that those things added on to a biological and emotional depression, (post partum or not), finally did her in.

Also she knew what was going on with Joe and Alice, only from the things she saw from the window and shes not a dumb woman, she knows what she sees. As for getting bedsores....no not at all, shes not bedridden. She sits in the window alot, she sits up in bed watching tv alot, she goes to the bathroom herself and tho she isnt very clean...very depressed people dont care about that, she has to be getting a bath sometimes so with these activities, there is no reason she should have bedsores. She needs help, medical help and your right,it might not be something they would do there, or it might be something Joe doesnt think would help or that they could afford anyway. Not "feeling like getting out of bed", is a far far cry from depression and why that keeps you in bed. What is sad too is, that unfortunately the treatment some depressed people, mostly women, get is just what you nearly suggest you would do if you were Joe.."smack" her. That is truly sad, and unfortunately sometimes sadly done.
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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basia
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Re: The Book as a Whole: Alice's Mother

Well, I wasn't meaning to be harsh, I guess I was just frustrated from Alice's point of view. And also, I just can't understand how someone would want to stay in bed for years.

The book hints that Marian became depressed because she was beaten down by life on the ranch. The animal abuse, deaths, etc. She used to be full of life, compete in shows, etc, but one day she just can't take it anymore and to bed she goes. I wander if she had any cries for help before, if she asked Joe to sell the place or anything like that...
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vivico1
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Re: The Book as a Whole: Alice's Mother


basia wrote:
Well, I wasn't meaning to be harsh, I guess I was just frustrated from Alice's point of view. And also, I just can't understand how someone would want to stay in bed for years.

The book hints that Marian became depressed because she was beaten down by life on the ranch. The animal abuse, deaths, etc. She used to be full of life, compete in shows, etc, but one day she just can't take it anymore and to bed she goes. I wander if she had any cries for help before, if she asked Joe to sell the place or anything like that...


I dont know really. I do know that altho depression is hitting people younger and younger, most cases start in women about the age Alice's mom would have been. All those things could have just helped sink her into the disease or disorder. And its not really about "wanting" to stay in bed all day, with depression, there is no energy or feeling of any reason to get out of bed. You may even look for things to help snap you out of it, but you just cant alone. I kinda see this in Marian, when she is watching the world from her window, no longer able to bring herself to be a part of it. She is detached, but its not a real choice to be, you just are and dont know how not to be. Look how she really did at times try to keep Alice in there to talk to, to sit with, to "be" with but Alice wouldn't or couldnt bring herself to. It was probably about all the attempt she could make at the time but it wasnt enough. I think thats why she did have a few days of kinda perking up when the grandparents were there, not ever day, but there were moments when she got engaged in activity with others but it took a lot to do it. Maybe even Joe's mom understood some of this and handled her the way she did that did work some.

I suffer from a panic disorder myself, bad enough to be on disability for about 20 years now. I used to be out and doing things all the time. You couldnt catch me at home. But with the onset of it and as hard as it hit, there were EIGHT years that I could not leave my house at all. I lived alone and so had to have my groceries delivered, everything deliveried. All I could get out for was to get to the doctors. I am doing better now about getting out but there are things I have to do to make it "safe" for me. I have to plan alot, and I miss spontaneity so so much but if it gets me out, so be it. I cant do big crowds. Just started doing movie theaters again 4 years ago, matinees until actually just this year I have gone to a few at night now. I need to sit in booths in restaraunts, and close to doors or with a wall behind me. I have traveled a bit. About two years ago I took my longest trip yet, about 5 days on the road with my very best friend for most half of it and it was so great. One of the best times I have had in two decades! Several smaller trips we took together were too! But as for anything I do away from home for more than one day, I then couldnt leave the house or do much at home either really for about 10 days after. Its hard for me, even for the things i really really want to do, and I pay a price for it every time I do, but its worth it to me. I know what to expect on the other end of it, so I dont worry about it. But in the beginning, my friends (and I) were as dumbfounded about this as you are about her. They would come to my house and find good ole Vivian, cracking jokes and seeming the same and then want to go do something and i would say very quickly and loudly...NO.

So within the first year, I lost all my friends except for one, who is still my friend today. The others didnt understand why i could be ok at home and be as strong as I used to be and not just tell myself, dont be afraid when you go out, dont have a panic attack, for heavens sakes, that your field, psychology, you ought to know how to get up and just go and do, but I couldnt, if i tried, I felt as if i were dying of a heart attack and sometimes wind up at the hospital even. They didnt understand and soon tired of just coming to my house. A couple did give me a "smack in the face" but just walking away, not wanting to deal with this "new weaker version of vivian". So when you mentioned that about her, altho I do not suffer from depression, I felt the sting she would have :smileywink:. But also they did have lives of their own to get on with and were meeting new people, so some just moved on. I didnt, I couldnt. Not even with the doctors then and for a long time.

My friend who was with me on my trip to Chicago always amazed me. She never seemed upset with what I couldnt do or little things I did do to make it easier for me. Oh there were times, when we would talk about meeting up that my "hyperplanning" and needing to know some details RIGHT NOW lol did wear her out I am sure and frustrate her but She always just seemed to take me for what I could be. If I were to tell her now about any of our experiences together, it would be to say, that in the two years we used to get together (she doesn't live here) that in all the time we spent together, I never felt anxious at all, I had a blast and I felt spontaneous again. I lived in the moment and savored each one. Now that was a gift. And that is a friend. I know she knows I love her even if we dont see each other anymore :smileywink:. Anyway,to make a long story longer LOL, staying in bed, or staying in a house, isnt something you chose or "want" to do basia. It just is and you have to have help with it. I want more, I do more but I still miss what I used to be able to do. I never feel quite whole.
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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kiakar
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Re: The Book as a Whole: Alice's Mother

Alice's mother was the reason for the novel. She made the problems for the novel. But to me, if she had post postium depression from the time Alice was born, why didnt they take her to someone. All the person would have had to do was put her on anti depression medication for awhile. THis was absurd that this condition went on and on. What year was this novel in? I have forgotten. But they have medications and have had for quite sometime for this. If this was depression, she couldnt help the agony even though she did pull herself up to go on with her life when the parents came. Of course, all that happened to Alice and her sister was because of the depression that their mother was going through. And maybe Joe could have made a better go at the ranch if she was by his side helping him. But this is what the novel was about.
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cindersue
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Re: The Book as a Whole: Alice's Mother


kiakar wrote:
... post postium depression from the time Alice was born, why didnt they take her to someone.




Isn't post partum depression a relatively new diagnosses? I'm not sure doctors knew what to do with that. And many people don't seem to understand it (look at Tom Cruise) geez.

My 2nd oldest who has everything on the ball, came down with anxiety and depression. Never thought it would hit her. One of her teachers was playing mind games with the students. Thank goodness I was on top of it, and she's doing great. She was talking about dropping out of college junior year. I encourage her to see someone and she did. When things are left undone for a while, I think it's hard to bounce back. Right Vivian? Viv conquered ... you may not be everything you "use" to be, but you're everything you can be. Like you said, you were alot of fun. People get scared when they don't understand depression, and tend to leave one alone. That's the worst thing. Glad to hear you're hitting a few movies at night. What an accomplishment! :smileywink:
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vivico1
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Re: The Book as a Whole: Alice's Mother


cindersue wrote:

kiakar wrote:
... post postium depression from the time Alice was born, why didnt they take her to someone.




Isn't post partum depression a relatively new diagnosses? I'm not sure doctors knew what to do with that. And many people don't seem to understand it (look at Tom Cruise) geez.

My 2nd oldest who has everything on the ball, came down with anxiety and depression. Never thought it would hit her. One of her teachers was playing mind games with the students. Thank goodness I was on top of it, and she's doing great. She was talking about dropping out of college junior year. I encourage her to see someone and she did. When things are left undone for a while, I think it's hard to bounce back. Right Vivian? Viv conquered ... you may not be everything you "use" to be, but you're everything you can be. Like you said, you were alot of fun. People get scared when they don't understand depression, and tend to leave one alone. That's the worst thing. Glad to hear you're hitting a few movies at night. What an accomplishment! :smileywink:


It may be a fairly new diagnosis but you know, I think women a long way back, even before this, knew some women had "mental" or "emotional" problems after birth. They may not have understood it, but I think they knew of it and just did what they could. Also, even today, knowing someone needs help and doing something about it, isn't always the same thing. Some people are of the mind that you just need to "pull yourself up by your boot straps and get on with it!" I had an aunt actually used those words with me about my agoraphobia, like I WANTED to be stuck inside a house like a prison for eight years?? My shrink said, yes what she doesn't get and what a lot of people don't is that you aren't even wearing BOOTS! lol. There is the money aspect too and forgive me if this is sexist sounding but if you are in psychology long enough or even just study it, you will find this true. Men do NOT want to face anything mental or emotional, not about themselves, not about others. Often they feel its a sign of weakness. So if it's them, they will just go on stressed out until they have stress induced strokes or heart attacks, or turn to drink or women, etc. Women are more likely to go to doctors than men, heck women are more likely to go to church alone then men. And women will find a way to pay for help for a loved one if it's needed, no matter what, much more often than men. Given all this, I wondered if Joe just didn't want to admit his wife had a problem that required help, if it might somehow seem his fault if he did or even if he just didnt feel they had money for her to go "talk" to someone with everything else that needed done.

And ty cindersue, it is an accomplishment. I went out last friday with a friend for dinner and a movie, going to try to do that the second friday of each month we decided, and we didnt even get all the way in the door of the first one when i saw how crowded and noisey it was and i closed the door and said no wayyyy! We talked about several restaraunts and i said no for this reason or that lol, it was that time of the evening and I have to have lower music and a place with booths for one thing, after a few minutes of discussing various places to go and now have time before the movie, i said "I am making this very difficult aren't I?" She said, yes you are. LOL, nothing mean in it, just matter of fact statement as she thoughtfully mulled over somewhere else that might work. In the end we found one close by that we both liked the food too and it worked out and got us to the movie right on time. I love that she was honest and I heard no meanness or anger in it and took no offense, it was true after all lol. She's a lot like my friend I took trips with, willing to work around my needs to get to do something we both mutually want to do, even tho all of us get disappointed sometimes because I cant do some of the things we would like to do together. But they are flexible with me because they know I am trying and because I think, there is enough love there that what we do is not as important as just the time together. Tho, I do love the fun things THAT we do :smileywink:
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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AnnMar
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Re: Early Chapters (no spoilers): Alice's Mother

Some interesting responses to this question. I wish Joe just cared a little more about his wife and tried to get her some help. She responded so well to Ruby's attention. I think Alice followed Joe's example of how to treat/relate to Marian. I think Joe is self absorbed. It's all about him and his ideas about the ranch.

Ann
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vivico1
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Re: Early Chapters (no spoilers): Alice's Mother


AnnMar wrote:
Some interesting responses to this question. I wish Joe just cared a little more about his wife and tried to get her some help. She responded so well to Ruby's attention. I think Alice followed Joe's example of how to treat/relate to Marian. I think Joe is self absorbed. It's all about him and his ideas about the ranch.

Ann


Ann, I think I agree with you. Joe is the more self absorbed one, not Marian. We dont know if he ever did try to get her help. I know too that with the stables failing, he has to be focused on it but....he still as a wife, and a young girl who NEEDS SOME CLOTHES!
Thats a bit of a problem for us trying to understand why nothing has changed for her, not knowing if even just the town doctor was ever consulted. I tend to think her being up there just became..one of those things and nothing was done. And your right, Alice is taking her cue from Joe, about a lot of things.
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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basia
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Re: Early Chapters (no spoilers): Alice's Mother



AnnMar wrote:
Some interesting responses to this question. I wish Joe just cared a little more about his wife and tried to get her some help. She responded so well to Ruby's attention. I think Alice followed Joe's example of how to treat/relate to Marian. I think Joe is self absorbed. It's all about him and his ideas about the ranch.

Ann




Hi Ann and welcome,

Good point about Marian's responsiveness to Ruby, and how she decided to get out of bed for them.
This hints that if Joe made a bigger effort, maybe she'd respond to him as well.
So why doesn't he? He seems like he totally gave up. Maybe he's actually fine with her being in bed and not interrupting him. It gives him much freer reign to do anything. I wanted to believe that he gave up because he really didn't think he could change anything, but now I'm starting to think that a part of him wants to keep her in her room. Very passive aggressive and creepy.

This then brings up the question of why don't Alice and Nona try harder?
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vivico1
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Re: Early Chapters (no spoilers): Alice's Mother


basia wrote:


AnnMar wrote:
Some interesting responses to this question. I wish Joe just cared a little more about his wife and tried to get her some help. She responded so well to Ruby's attention. I think Alice followed Joe's example of how to treat/relate to Marian. I think Joe is self absorbed. It's all about him and his ideas about the ranch.

Ann




Hi Ann and welcome,

Good point about Marian's responsiveness to Ruby, and how she decided to get out of bed for them.
This hints that if Joe made a bigger effort, maybe she'd respond to him as well.
So why doesn't he? He seems like he totally gave up. Maybe he's actually fine with her being in bed and not interrupting him. It gives him much freer reign to do anything. I wanted to believe that he gave up because he really didn't think he could change anything, but now I'm starting to think that a part of him wants to keep her in her room. Very passive aggressive and creepy.

This then brings up the question of why don't Alice and Nona try harder?


Why don't the girls try harder with their mom? Is that what you mean? I think, well first of all, Alice has never known her mother any other way and when her mom does try to reach out to her, she pulls away and wants to go back to the barn. I dont think she knows how to respond to her and I dont think she trusts to give herself to her mom, she might get hurt, she doesnt know. Add to that, she seems to feel her mom is letting down her dad, who is the one person at least providing for them and so its like she seems to think that if she spends too much time with her mom or letting her mom hold her, she's in some way betraying her dad. As for Nona, Nona was spoiled long before her mom got that way and I think when her mom did and she started to grow up some and see that she may have to take on some of the "motherly" duties around the house, which doesnt fit with her "championship" image, I can see that she would be the one to run away so she doesnt have to do anything. I think they dont try harder because one never wanted to and the other has never known different, doesnt know how, and takes her cues from how the adults (her dad) interacts with her. There is one more thing too. ITS NOT THEIR JOB. THEY are the kids, they need adults to do something. Then they could help in the appropriate ways kids can/ not be responsible for her. (by the way, the caps arent yelling at you :smileywink: just making a point that its really not, its Joe's job and maybe some other adults too.)

As for Joe wanting her to be that way, or just stay up there to give him more freedom, I dont think so. He really doesnt have freedom with her stuck up there, he has more responsibility and he can't do a lot of things, go anywhere, that he just might want to. He is completely responsible for a girl growing up that not only is he not being responsive to Marian's needs, hes not even seeing the visible needs of his own girl out growing her clothes and this is a big deal. Its not a passing statement in the story. Alice brings this to our attention over and over. I think he just doesnt want to face what it would take to help Marian,maybe he feels its his fault she is up there. That may be part of why he is obviously ashamed of her up there and tries to stay away from the subject altogether whenever possible.
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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Wrighty
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Re: Early Chapters (no spoilers): Alice's Mother

I've just started the book but I thought I'd better chime in here before everyone leaves. I'm only a few chapters in so I'll just comment on what I know so far. At this point I feel bad for the family. They seem to be functioning the best way they know how, the way they have for years. They slipped into this new routine and don't know how to get out of it.

I have some chronic diseases that started suddenly while I was totally healthy, with young children. I had many doctors, procedures, surgeries, medicines to try to figure things out. Things are now manageable but so far unfixable. I suffer severe pain and it's a delicate balance to feel well enough to function. I withdrew and suffered from some form of depression although I was very ill at the same time. I was so tired and everything I did took so much effort. I didn't care about anything except wanting to feel better. I didn't eat or enjoy anything. It was never because I wanted to be that way. I was so sick in so many ways that I couldn't control it. I never even knew what all of the problems were until later and no one else knew either. When I started to take an antidepressant to help with the pain (that's another use for them) it also helped lift the fog around my brain. It was years later before I realized depression was included in with all of my other ailments. I had always thought depression was more about being sad and down and not being able to control it. Boy, was I ever wrong! I just never had any experience with it to know better. I now manage my conditions the best I can. I know what makes the pain better and worse and I also know what makes me feel emotionally better and worse. Winter is a hard time with the cold and the dark. Summer helps so much. I can't get enough sunshine. My children don't really remember me any other way. That makes me so very sad. But we all know it could be worse and I'm very grateful to be able to do any of the things I can. I save my energy for my family and we do the best we can. Luckily I have wonderful family, friends and my husband is a saint. It's very hard to have your health taken away and I always took it for granted.

I think Alice's family never expected to be where they are now. I'm sure the first time her mother went up to bed no one ever expected she would never really come back from it. Each day just turned into another and another. Her father is the provider and that's all he knows how to do. Alice is stuck in the middle with no one left to raise her. She needs love and attention and no one has it left to give. Her mother makes a weak effort but is easily shut down. Her father doesn't seem to know how to show love and affection. Alice keeps doing what she's told to do. I don't think any of them know how to make their situation better or even what the actual problems are. They seem to think if they leave her mom alone and let her get her rest maybe she will feel better. Now it's turned into years and they don't know how to do anything else.

I've still got a lot of reading to do so those are my early impressions along with my own situation. Am I way off track here so far? Back to the book now. Hang in there Viv. I know how you feel. I'm glad you're able to get out and enjoy things again.
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