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Well, I have been hanging my metaphorical hat for the past few weeks in the Warriors 4-week Challenge area, but this seems a more logical place to maintain my long-term growth tracker. Hi, y'all! 

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My secret identity presents as a perfectly ordinary middle-aged woman, educator, grandma, gardener, pillar of the local church, crocheter, and canner of homemade chicken broth. I'm polite, introverted, bookish, somewhat motherly to the young Marines I work with at the military leadership school, and generally appear harmless. 

 

But the *real* me is a Guardian, a powerful force of loosely controlled and readily accessible berserker rage, an impenetrable mass of strength and skill. I'm a hybrid Warrior/Monk, but I'm on indefinite hiatus from martial arts training due to living in a small town with a dearth of convenient Krav Maga instructors. For the present, I am focusing all of my time and energy on re-learning to pick up pieces of iron and set them back down again. 

I recently returned to myself after a long period of sedentary aimlessness, and found myself considerably weaker than I wish to be. So I found a Starting Strength coach and a black iron gym, and after about a month, this is where I am today:

 

Squat:

45# 3x5

55# 1x4

65# 3x5 

45# 1x6 (backoff set to practice form tweaks)

 

Bench:

45# 2x5

65# 1x3

77.5# 3x5 (PR)

 

Deadlift:

95# 1x4

115# 1x2

125# 1x1

135# 1x3, 1x2 (PR)

 

The squat is the main motivator for hiring a coach. I'm super awkward under the bar, a little scared of it, and really struggled to get to depth when trying to do this on my own. Coach has me most of the way straightened out now, but she keeps pushing me to extra volume because I'm not consistent. She says I overthink it. What she actually says is "Quit ANALYZING and freakin' just SQUAT!" So, that's what I'm working with. :barbershop_quartet_

 

 

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“To see that your life is a story while you're in the middle of living it may be a help to living it well."

-Ursula K. Le Guin


2022 Challenges: Push, Core, Simple

                                                                                                                                

 

 

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Volume Day:  I usually don't go too heavy on Wednesday, when I am working out without coach and limited/no access to things like safety bars and spotters. I may be a beast (or at least a beast-hopeful), but I try not to be a fool. (I said try. Some days ... well, you know) 

 

Squat:

45# 4x5

55# 4x5

 

Press:

45# 1x5

55# 1x3

65# 1x3, 1x2, 1x3 (PR for sets of 3, I did doubles at that weight last week)

 

Band-assisted chin-ups:

2x6

“To see that your life is a story while you're in the middle of living it may be a help to living it well."

-Ursula K. Le Guin


2022 Challenges: Push, Core, Simple

                                                                                                                                

 

 

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Back with coach today, so 

 

Squat:

45# 3x5

55# 1x5

65# 1x3

70# 3x3 (PR)

50# 1x5 back-off set

 

Bench:

45# 2x3

55# 1x4

70# 1x2

80# 3x4 (PR)

 

Deadlift:

95# 1x5

115# 1x3

125# 1x1

135# 1x2

when the third rep would not go up, she had me switched to a mixed grip

135# 1x3

“To see that your life is a story while you're in the middle of living it may be a help to living it well."

-Ursula K. Le Guin


2022 Challenges: Push, Core, Simple

                                                                                                                                

 

 

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Happy Monday!

Squats:

45# 3x5

55# 1x3

65# 1x2

75# 3x3 (PR, but ugly. Probably only 2 or 3 of those 9 reps was at proper depth)

55# 1x5 (I am really loving the back-off sets. 55 feels SO light after my working sets, and my form and depth are perfect.)

 

Press:

45# 2x5

55# 1x3

60# 1x1

67.5# 3x1 (again, PR, but I was shooting for triples. Nope. Second rep was NOT going up. I held the grind at forehead level for a while, but it wasn't moving)

 

Deadlift:

95# 1x5

115# 1x2

125# 2x5 

Those went up easy. Coach thinks I should have no problems hitting a full work set of 5 at 135# on Friday. 

 

 

 

 

“To see that your life is a story while you're in the middle of living it may be a help to living it well."

-Ursula K. Le Guin


2022 Challenges: Push, Core, Simple

                                                                                                                                

 

 

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Today was volume day again. On Mondays and Fridays I work out at an actual Starting Strength gym under supervision/tutelage/exhortation of an SSC. But on Wednesdays I am on my own at the teeny-weeny military base gym. It's a nice enough gym - it has a half rack and a decent selection of barbells and plates, but they are outside on the covered back porch area. Fabulous during spring and autumn. Bit on the warm, sticky side right now. 91 degrees F, 88% humidity at the time I was there this morning. </whine> Well, if it hasn't killed me yet it must be making me stronger, right? And I really can't complain. It's free. The SS gym is pricy, hence my decision to only pay for two sessions a week. 

 

In any case, I did what coach told me to do for today - moderate weight, higher volume for squat and bench, since I don't have reliable access to spotters or safety bars at the base gym. Usually at the times I am there all other patrons are inside the air-conditioned space, doing their thing with the ellipticals, treadmills, and nautilus-esque machiny-doodles, so I am alone outside with the barbells. 

Afterwards I went off script a bit. Since I had extra time to kill and nothing important to do at the office, I added in some unprogrammed shoulder accessory work. No legitimate strength reason, pure unapologetic #VanityGoals. I want a bit of extra shoulder hypertrophy and definition going on the next time I am caught out in public in a sleeveless evening gown (happens every November, military ball.) I am going to try to add in some extra delt-builders at least once a week for the next few months, try n' get that classy 70s giant-shoulder-pad look going on. I think I'll call this Operation Dynasty

 

dynasty-today-161003-tease-02_a8ab55b197

 



So what I actually accomplished today amounted to ...

 

Squats:

45# 3x5

55# 1x5

65# 4x3 and they didn't *all* suck, I'm confident that at least half of those reps were actually to depth. 

 

Bench:

45# 2x5

55# 1x3

70# 4x6

 

Band-assisted chin-ups:

1x8

1x6

 

Bent-over dumbbell row:

25# 2x10

 

Front dumbbell raise:

8# 2x8

 

Rear Delt dumbbell raise:

8# 2x8

 

 

“To see that your life is a story while you're in the middle of living it may be a help to living it well."

-Ursula K. Le Guin


2022 Challenges: Push, Core, Simple

                                                                                                                                

 

 

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  • Gemma changed the title to Gemma begins Guardian Training

Back at the gym with my wonderful (and sometimes really mean) coach today. My legs, they are sore.

 

Squat
45# 4x5

55# 1x3

65# 1x2

75# 3x5 (volume PR - I did this weight on Monday but only for triples)

55# back-off set 1x5

 

Bench:

45# 2x5

65# 1x5

75# 1x2

82.5# 3x3 (PR, and those went up smooth. I think going light for volume on Wednesday was a good idea, this felt way easier than Monday's 80#)

 

Deadlift:

95# 1x5

115# 1x3

125# 1x2

135# 1x4, 1x1 (I was going for a full set of five, but I got a little loose on the 4th and the 5th didn't budge. I walked away for about 15 seconds, came back and reset, and pulled it. So it wasn't *exactly* two separate sets with a rest in between, but I can't count it as a single set either.) 

“To see that your life is a story while you're in the middle of living it may be a help to living it well."

-Ursula K. Le Guin


2022 Challenges: Push, Core, Simple

                                                                                                                                

 

 

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Back from a great weekend, got a little bit sunburned and didn't eat all of the healthiest foods in the world but had some fun and got some homestead chores done too, so it's all good. Still though, drug myself into the gym feeling all tired and stiff-like this morning. It's gonna be a weird week, I'm in a class that starts super early and lasts late all day Friday and Saturday, so I won't be able to make it to any of Friday's strength sessions. I'm doing Friday's workout on Wednesday and I'm hoping to have enough gas in the tank to do some kettlebell and bodyweight stuff at home on Friday - or maybe just chin-ups, depends on how wiped out I am from sitting. Seriously, I get tireder from sitting on my assets for 10 hours than I do from honest labor. What's up with that?

 

Anywho ... 

Squats:

45# 4x5

55# 1x3

65# 1x2

75# 4x5 volume volume volume. I suspect coach will just make me keep doing more volume until my depth gets consistent. Can't complain, it seems to be helping. 

60# 1x5 

 

Press:

45# 2x5

55# 1x3

60# 1x1

67.5# 1x1, 2x2, 1x1 (volume PR, first time I've managed doubles at this weight)

55# 1x4 

 

Band-assisted chin-ups:

2x6, 1x4

And I moved my leg inappropriately at one point, trying to nudge the bench out of my way ... causing my rubber bands to slip off of the heel of my foot and snap me like a wet swim towel right in the gluteus maximus embarrasicus. The entire gym winced in sympathy with me. Yep. That smarts. 

 

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“To see that your life is a story while you're in the middle of living it may be a help to living it well."

-Ursula K. Le Guin


2022 Challenges: Push, Core, Simple

                                                                                                                                

 

 

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Okay, I'm really bad at squatting. I mean - REALLY bad at it. This is not news. In fact, this is why I decided to pay hard-earned money for the services of a professional Starting Strength Coach to begin with. I was trying to do the program on my own, and making decent progress, except 

tenor.gif

 

So, two months ago (B.C. - before coach) I could not squat the bar to depth. I was doing goblet squats with kettlebells, and barely only sometimes getting past parallel. 

 

Two months later, and ... I don't know what the heck is going on. My coach swears I'm strong enough and can do it, there is nothing major wrong with my form. My hamstrings and adductors are TIGHT. If I spend half my workout time warming up, I can sort of almost generally kind of get there. But to some extent it has to be all in my head, because I can air squat to full depth. It's hard, and uncomfortable, but I can do it. 

 

But as soon as I get under a bar, and get down close to parallel, my hamstrings feel like they are going to snap like cheap guitar strings. And on the rare occasions that I do go deep enough for my coach to say "good, that's it!" - it feels like I just collapsed into the bottom, lost all the tightness in my whole body, and have to fight and grind and struggle to get up out of the hole. 

 

And that's at 75#. 

 

So far she has had me do some days of going "heavy" (for me that *is* 70 or 75 lbs) even though I am half-squatting at that weight, and then doing a back-off set to 55 or 60#, which then psychologically "feels light" and which I can do. Other days, like today, just lots and lots of warmup and lots of light sets. By the THIRD working set at 55 lbs., she said that my bar speed was starting to look decent and consistent and I was getting close to depth. Close. 

 

Sigh. 

 

</pity party>

 

I know it's all in my head. What I don't know is how to get it OUT of my head. Shut up and color, I guess. I mean, I am making progress. Did I mention that 2 months ago I couldn't squat The Bar

 

Squat
45# 4x5

55# 4x5

 

Bench:

45# 2x5

65# 1x5

75# 1x2

85# 3x3 (PR)

 

Deadlift:

95# 1x5

115# 1x3

125# 1x2

140# 1x2, 1x1 (PR) 

 

 

“To see that your life is a story while you're in the middle of living it may be a help to living it well."

-Ursula K. Le Guin


2022 Challenges: Push, Core, Simple

                                                                                                                                

 

 

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Today's win: The road in front of the shop where I buy chicken feed is being re-paved, so I had to park a block away. No prob: I tossed a 50# bag of feed up on my shoulder and schlepped it up the downtown sidewalk past a half-dozen road construction workers to my car - in a dress and ballet flats. When I got home, I popped the boot of my car and got the bag back up onto my shoulder just as the UPS driver was walking up the driveway with a box for me. I set the bag down next to its bin and turned around to greet him, catching a look of pure "holy cow, lady!" on his face. As much as I would love to look more muscular, sometimes it's kinda fun actually being considerably stronger than I look

 

strong-olsen.gif

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“To see that your life is a story while you're in the middle of living it may be a help to living it well."

-Ursula K. Le Guin


2022 Challenges: Push, Core, Simple

                                                                                                                                

 

 

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giphy.gif

 

 

Today I did a more "cardio-ish" warmup than I usually do. One of the hallmarks of Starting Strength is that warm-up is done mostly under the bar, the movement you plan to work starting with the empty bar and stepping up to your working weight, not a whole lot of preliminary movement beyond that. But coach has noticed that my squats get better the longer I work them. Great, but I don't always have time to do 10+ sets of squats ... also if I do too many then by the time I get done with them, I'm exhausted and my other lifts suffer for it.

 

New battle plan modification - today I came in and spent some time on a stationary bike first. Not sure how long, between 5 and 10 minutes (a whole ZZ Top song and the first half of Eye of the Tiger), then did some quick hip flexor stretches, then got to it.

 

It helped. My first few sets were MUCH more consistent, faster, and way less of an overall struggle.

 

What DIDN'T help ... another coach (the one who actually owns the gym), who does not know me from Adam and has only been there a few times while I was working - usually while he was also working on his own lifts and not paying any attention to me - sat on a bench and watched my whole first work set, then came over to me while my coach was watching another client to give me "form pointers" and over-explain why I should focus more on keeping my chest up.  And he is technically 100% right, not even mad about that ... but it gave me one more extra thing to over-analyze on my next set, I lost focus on my knees, started worrying about my neck position, last half of the set was all a big hot squatty mess. 

 

My coach was great, after I survived that set she reminded me that my MAIN focus for right now is just getting down there and not being timid under the bar. There will be plenty of time for more detailed form tweaks later. So, all told, helpful tips guy only got into my head for a couple of reps, no real harm done. 

 

Okay, that's enough of that rant! Onwards and upwards!

 

Squat
45# 3x5

55# 1x3

65# 3x5

According to coach, at least 80% of those were to full legal depth! Yay!

 

Press:

45# 2x5

55# 1x3

62.5# 1x1

67.5# 4x2

 

Deadlift:

95# 1x5

115# 1x3

130# 1x1

140# 1x5

This was my first time using a belt on deadlift, it seemed to help. This is the same weight that I failed on rep 3 less than a week ago, today it felt almost easy. Ten more pounds 'til I get the XP for deadlifting my bodyweight!!! 

“To see that your life is a story while you're in the middle of living it may be a help to living it well."

-Ursula K. Le Guin


2022 Challenges: Push, Core, Simple

                                                                                                                                

 

 

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nPw2gyh.gif

Today at the base gym, on the outdoor squat rack, it was roughly 2,427 degrees and 348% relative humidity. No worries. No whining. Just squat!

 

Squats:

45# 3x5

55# 1x5

65# 3x5

 

Bench:

45# 2x5

55# 1x3

70# 1x2

80# 3x4

 

Band-assisted chin-ups:

2x8

1x6

“To see that your life is a story while you're in the middle of living it may be a help to living it well."

-Ursula K. Le Guin


2022 Challenges: Push, Core, Simple

                                                                                                                                

 

 

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Squat
45# 3x5

55# 1x3

65# 1x1

70# 3x5 (but they were ugly, almost all high, and my R hamstring was sore as heck throughout.) 

55# 1x5

 

Press:

45# 2x5

55# 1x3

63.5# 1x1

68.5# 1x2, 1x1, 2x2

 

Deadlift:

95# 1x5

115# 1x3

135# 1x1

145# 1x4

 

“To see that your life is a story while you're in the middle of living it may be a help to living it well."

-Ursula K. Le Guin


2022 Challenges: Push, Core, Simple

                                                                                                                                

 

 

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I know you have a coach and such but your numbers are showing that you are afraid of the squat or something like that (your ratios). 

 

Is it a mobility issue with the shoulder, or ankle, or pain in glutes etc? Also, can u do an air squat ass-to-ground? Just curious. 

my journey to kickass-dom

E1RM: SQ: 130.9kg (Jul18); BP: 103.2kg (Aug18); DL: 150kg (Jun18); 
FSQ: 103.2kg (May18); OHP: 66.9kg (Dec17); PP: 72.5kg (Jul18)
2.4km/Cooper's Test: (10:22, Jun18)
Vitals: 40 yo, 1.7m, 74kg (Jul18)

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5 hours ago, godjira1 said:

I know you have a coach and such but your numbers are showing that you are afraid of the squat or something like that (your ratios). 

 

Is it a mobility issue with the shoulder, or ankle, or pain in glutes etc? Also, can u do an air squat ass-to-ground? Just curious. 

 

I'm definitely scared to death of the squat. Right at (currently) the 70# mark, I get to just above parallel and all kinds of alarm bells and whistles go off in my lizard-brain screaming "NopeNopeNope don't go down any further you'll never get back up again!" Over the past two months, though, I've got that "limit" number of what my brain thinks is too heavy up from 45 to 70, so there's that.

 

Re: mobility. I have super tight hamstrings and adductors. I have to warm up a TON before I can get past parallel even with the bar. Ass-to-ground, no way, not even in an air squat - but hip crease past knee I can do in an air squat and usually up to about 60-65#.  My anthropometry is apparently of the type that makes deadlifting easier and squatting harder - very short torso, long limbs. Squat-wise, I'm a hot mess.

 

Coach is great, though, I've progressed further in two months with her than in a year of trying to figure it out on my own. Of course, when I'm working out alone it's really easy to just say cop-out things like "oh, squatting doesn't feel right today, I think I'll just sub in lunges." So that's another part of the problem - I've been consistently working on bench, press, and deadlift for a lot longer, while making excuses not to squat or to do light KB goblet squats instead.

For reasons I am completely in the dark about, my upper body mobility and strength are relatively very good. I can get my shoulders and arms into a textbook low-bar back squat position with almost no discomfort at all, and my bench and press are both progressing nicely. 
 

“To see that your life is a story while you're in the middle of living it may be a help to living it well."

-Ursula K. Le Guin


2022 Challenges: Push, Core, Simple

                                                                                                                                

 

 

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Little bit behind the power curve - life, what a distraction!

 

Monday, July 26

Squat
45# 3x5

55# 1x3

65# 1x2

70# 3x3

55# 1x5

 

Bench:

45# 2x5

65# 1x3

85# 1x1

87.5# 5x1

 

Deadlift:

95# 1x5

115# 1x3

135# 1x1

150# NOPE! (I was completely wiped out, probably didn't eat enough on Sunday or something ... really just a limp dishrag at this point)

 

 

Today (Wednesday, July 26)

Squat
45# 3x5
50# 1x3 (that was an accident, I meant to load 55#, didn't realize until I went to take the plates off that I'd put on 2.5s instead of 5s) 

55# 1x3

65# 3x5

 

Press:

45# 2x5

55# 1x3

62.5# 1x1

65# 5x2

 

Lat Pulldown:

105# 3x8

 

“To see that your life is a story while you're in the middle of living it may be a help to living it well."

-Ursula K. Le Guin


2022 Challenges: Push, Core, Simple

                                                                                                                                

 

 

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Hi there! I just noticed you posting on Spezzy's log and saying you were 50, so I figured I'd come over and say hi. All these young uns' on this board, I figured us older wiser people should stick together. ;)I didn't really start working out until I was almost 50 (expect aerobics and treadmill:)) now I mainly do bodyweight and kettlebell stuff. Cool to see another middle aged gal who wants to be strong!

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Wisdom 22.5   Dexterity 13   Charisma 15   Strength 21  Constitution-13

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind' Luke 10; 27

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14 hours ago, Elastigirl said:

Hi there! I just noticed you posting on Spezzy's log and saying you were 50, so I figured I'd come over and say hi. All these young uns' on this board, I figured us older wiser people should stick together. 

 

Well, hello Elastigirl! (she--who-is-named from one of my very favorite Pixars!) 

Ah, yes, wisdom ... at my age I really ought to try and get me some of that :) 

I'm with you on the late start, I "kind of used to" work out semi-regularly, really just a couple of years in my late 20s/early 30s, and then life stuff happened and I got really distracted and forgot all about it. Around age 48 my body started to hurt a lot always and it finally occurred to me that perhaps I should take care of it some. I really do feel younger now, odd but true. 

love your signature block. I think kettlebells are awesome but I have NEVER mastered the TGU, and you are working towards multiple timed reps with 35#, wow! Also one of my all time fave verses.

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“To see that your life is a story while you're in the middle of living it may be a help to living it well."

-Ursula K. Le Guin


2022 Challenges: Push, Core, Simple

                                                                                                                                

 

 

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So, back to keeping track of it all publicly. (I got - distracted, for a bit.)

 

Squat
45# 3x5

55# 1x3

65# 1x1

75# 3x3 

60# 1x5

 

Press:

45# 2x5

55# 1x3

65# 1x1

72# 1x1 (PR)

67.5 1x2

 

“To see that your life is a story while you're in the middle of living it may be a help to living it well."

-Ursula K. Le Guin


2022 Challenges: Push, Core, Simple

                                                                                                                                

 

 

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Today, at the Wednesday gym (that would be the ultra-sweaty August humid back porch of the base gym) it was VOLUME DAY! 

 

Wednesday, August 16

Squat
45# 2x5

55# 1x3

65# 5x3

 

Bench:

45# 2x5

65# 1x3

70# 3x5

 

Romanian Deadlift:

95# 3x10

 

 

 

“To see that your life is a story while you're in the middle of living it may be a help to living it well."

-Ursula K. Le Guin


2022 Challenges: Push, Core, Simple

                                                                                                                                

 

 

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Squat
45# 3x5

55# 1x3

65# 3x3

 

Press:

45# 2x5

55# 1x3

65# 3x3 

 

Deadlift:

95# 1x5

135# 1x3

150# 1x1

160# 1x2 (PR)

“To see that your life is a story while you're in the middle of living it may be a help to living it well."

-Ursula K. Le Guin


2022 Challenges: Push, Core, Simple

                                                                                                                                

 

 

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So on Monday I was talking to my coach about how my hips feel when I squat - it's not "pain" exactly, it's more discomfort/restriction/just-not-right with occasional sciatic nerve twingies, and she took me back to the skeleton and explained the concept of...



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"Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction"

 

 

Sounds awful, right? Apparently not serious at all, but really annoying. But possibly a contributing factor to why Gemma can't squat. Visit to chiropractor pending. Meanwhile trying various stretch/mobilization/reset exercises recommended by that wonderful old medical quasi-professional, Intern Et. So far no impact, no effect. 

 

In other news:

 

Monday, Aug 21 (a.k.a. the day the world didn't end, again.)

Squat
45# 2x5

55# 1x3

65# 5x3

 

Bench:

45# 2x5

65# 1x3

85# 1x4, 1x3, 1x2 

 

Deadlift:

95# 1x5

135# 1x3

150# 3x1

 

 

 

Wednesday, Aug 23

Squat
45# 2x5

55# 1x3

65# 5x3

 

Press

45# 2x5

55# 1x3

67.5# 1x1, failed in grind on second rep. Took off a half pound ... (I love microplates) ... and 

67# 3x3 

 

Lat Pulldown:

105# 1x9, 1x6, 1x8 

 

 

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“To see that your life is a story while you're in the middle of living it may be a help to living it well."

-Ursula K. Le Guin


2022 Challenges: Push, Core, Simple

                                                                                                                                

 

 

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Friday, Aug 25 

 Mixing it up a bit. Coach wanted to save the squats until the end of the workout, because a) still waiting on chiro to rifle through my SI joint and see what he digs up, and b) she wanted to see if it helped my deadlift any to do them earlier in the workout, before fatigue started kicking my aspirations. (Didn't work. Still was wiped out by the time I got to my working set. I may not be eating enough, back to the macro-tracking drawing board!)
 

Bench:

45# 2x5

65# 1x3

80# 1x1

90# 4x2

 

Deadlift:

95# 1x5

125# 1x3

135# 1x2

150# 1x1

160# 1x1 - yeah, I was shooting for a full set of 5 here. And NOPE! so, backoff for volume ...

135# 1x5

 

Squat: (light, focus on form only until real medical professional gives an opinion)
45# 2x5

55# 2x5

 

“To see that your life is a story while you're in the middle of living it may be a help to living it well."

-Ursula K. Le Guin


2022 Challenges: Push, Core, Simple

                                                                                                                                

 

 

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Saw the chiro today - he lectured me about "not overdoing it" in the gym, but I think he got my pelvis more or less back where it belongs. 

 

Squat
45# 3x5

55# 1x3

65# 4x3

 

Press:

45# 2x5

57# 1x3

67.5# 3x2, still can't hit the third rep at this weight. Held the grind at forehead-height for a few seconds each time, though.  It'll come. Trying for those triples again on Friday.

 

Deadlift:

95# 1x5

125# 1x3

135# 1x6

 

“To see that your life is a story while you're in the middle of living it may be a help to living it well."

-Ursula K. Le Guin


2022 Challenges: Push, Core, Simple

                                                                                                                                

 

 

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  • Gemma changed the title to Gemma v. Chaos

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