Midwinter Holidays

Sol Invictus, Lord of Light, Reborn!

I am hoping your midwinter holidays were as beautiful as ours were. Life is so full lately it’s hard to keep up with my blogging, but I do try to take lots of pictures still. This was the sun on December 24, Sol Invictus, Lord of Light reborn!

Christmas Eve sushi

We enjoyed our traditional Christmas Eve sushi dinner with Ian’s father, Glen, and his love, Miriam. We go to a tiny little restaurant that serves Japanese and Korean foods. It’s never full on Christmas Eve, and we get to enjoy a lingering meal, complete with gift-opening. It’s a brief oasis in the midst of the busyness of the days of Christmas and we cherish it every year.

Merry Christmas! Here we go!

I am very grateful to spend my Christmases with this beautiful man. I love him completely.

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The pregnant moment, the Before, when all is quiet and the children are in bed. Everything is ready and the anticipation in the air is palpable. I try to catch this magical moment each year.

Astonished that Santa brought a tablet for our family

Christmas morning dawned beautifully—and EARLY. We have a rule. No presents before Mom and Dad get their coffee.

Oh, the bounty! Santa Claus was amazingly generous. He brought Asher a robot lizard that walks and follows you around. (He and Ian got to build it together too.) Santa brought Lucas a small stereo system for his bedroom, which has a much-needed alarm clock. And he brought our family a Kindle Fire tablet, our first device of this nature. 

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My parents came over in the morning for a brief brunch. They blew Lucas’s mind by giving him a PC computer. He’s going to need it for high school next year, and is learning how to use it. (And what NOT to click online—thanks to an early virus infection. Honestly, I couldn’t be more pleased about that because it scared the daylights out of him. We were able to return it to factory settings.)

My daddy and mama

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Asher really got into the spirit of things. He had spent the three days before Christmas making things and going through his belongings and wrapping up gifts for people. By the time he was finished, there was something under the tree for everyone, with tags written on binder paper.

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I found some stylish clothes for my boys. This hoodie for Asher, who loves to make a splash, and a dark and brooding/lurking long hoodie for Lucas, who rather likes to fade mysteriously into the background. They each got books and art supplies, a Death Note tee for Lucas, a Gryffindor tee for Asher. My folks delivered two indoor RC helicopters, which have seriously improved over early models. I’m hoping Asher will break out the spirograph set we got him soon because I really want to play with it.

My only regret is that we didn’t get to see my brother and his family on Christmas. It’s just impossible to be in two places at the same time. At least, so far.

We spent the afternoon at Ian’s mom and stepfather’s home, celebrating with family. Little cousin Jack is 3 now, and getting big.

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And then we rushed home to our crazy house to fill it with beloveds for what is either the 20th or 21sth year in a row (some debate about that). I typically fail at snapping any photos during this party, which is a shame, really, because my friends are all so beautiful to me. We poured drinks and talked, shared food and friendship. It’s everything I want for Christmas night, every year. I really cannot say it enough: Thank you, darlings, for sharing your Christmas with us. It means the world to me. 

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I know it is nuts to be writing about Christmas on January 28. I have so much I want to blog about, and this post has been blocking my flow, so to speak. I frequently write on Facebook, but that stuff gets lost in the stream of time. I’m going to try to write more here because I miss it and I need it. I need to clear the blocks.

So, I’ll end by saying Happy New Year to all.

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Invoking the Light

Happy Solstice!

6500365891_3247aaf429Yule Fires: A Carol

(Sung to the tune of “Greensleeves”)

In ancient days the folk of old
When chilled with fright by winter’s cold
Did kindle up a great Yule fire
With leaping flames in its great pyre;

So to entice the waning sun
To rise again and wider run;
It’s fiery course across the sky,
To warm them so they would not die. (Chorus)

Chorus: Yule Fires light up the night!
Yule fires give us delight!
Yule Fires call back the Sun,
And keep our hearts ever burning!

So we, whose minds now sense a chill
Of anger in the evil will,
The human conflict, hate, and strife,
Which hold a menace over life;

Would kindle up a flame of love
That we within our hearts may move,
In Yuletide joy, with love embrace
And thus abide in peace and grace. (Chorus)

John G. MacKinnon

Sunshine

Well, it seems some are celebrating the Solstice today/tonight and some are celebrating tomorrow/tomorrow night. The solstices and equinoxes can be a bit tricky. Astronomers and meteorologists calculate it down to the minute, but frankly, I just pick whatever is most convenient for our busy lives.

We’ve been getting ready, little by little, for the holidays. There is so much going on at this time of year, and it seems our home transforms more at this time of year than any other. 

This year's wreath ... unless I add more stuff to it

To fit in the Christmas tree, we have to move furniture and dust under things. It’s quite a production. And yet, as our home becomes more and more festive, more and more filled with light, it gets cozier and cozier.

Smells divine and full of happiness

All the better to snuggle in and then welcome our guests.

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I find I cherish sunbeams anywhere I find them.

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And chase after December rainbows … even barefoot.

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Our winter storms are knocking all the pretty leaves to the ground. We have been having a dark and rainy day today, which only means we can better appreciate the warmth and light that comes with the rebirth of the sun.

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We’ve been enjoying holiday parties and friends and family. Last weekend was Grinchmas, the annual reading of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas at our friends’ beautiful home. We recently went to our first gingerbread house decorating party. I’ve never seen so much candy outside a candy shop in my life!

Gingerbread house party!

Tonight we go to a Solstice party, and tomorrow night, on the 22nd, we’ll hold our usual quiet family celebration here. I’ve got a newish solstice dessert idea and my son has requested a vegetarian yellow curry. Sounds perfect to me. I’m thinking potatoes, garbanzos, corn, peas, leeks and chard.

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We’re also celebrating that golden fellow above, Solstice Dog, who came to us four years ago. He is a bright, shining light in our lives, working devotedly to keep our spirits up and our blood pressures down. We love him so!

Good people all this happy tide,
Consider well and bear in mind,
All that strong love for us can do
When we remember our promise true.

Now love itself stands in this place
With glorious beauty and pleasant grace;
To welcome us with open heart
And raise up welcome in every hearth.

Whatever life on us bestows,
Love’s mantle round our shoulders goes
Remembering this day’s delight,
To bring us help and mercy bright.

When darkest winter draweth near,
The light is kindled without fear;
Love sparks at Midwinter so deep,
This blessed time in our hearts keep.

When coldest winter draweth near,
Turn we to joy and make good cheer;
Remembering our vows so strong,
We raise our voices in this song.

Drive darkest want and need away,
Remember we this happy day.
Call love to witness, everyone,
And dance beneath the winter sun.
—Caitlin Matthews

 

And now it’s time to go, so I’ll sign off and thank you for reading. May your Solstice be bright and blessed, full of the tinkling laughter of loved ones and sparkling lights shining in the winter darkness. Blessed Be!

Too Late for Halloween?

Pirate!

Yes, I’m quite sure it is entirely too late to post about Halloween. It’s December for Christmas’s sake! However, once you look at these pictures, you might, just might, forgive me. I MUST post these shots because they’re so completely adorable. Therefore, I temporarily interrupt our regular December programming for this spooky flashback to October shenanigans.

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You see, we build our geodesic dome in Thomas and Jami’s yard. And then we put a rock band in it.

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♡

The debut performance of Death In Bloom, to be precise. And they were wonderful.

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And sexy. And terrifying. And we invited all our friends to come out and party.

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Friends new and old, tall and small, came to play with us Halloween night. We had costume contests with many winners of gigantic TROPHIES!

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Lovely ladies!

Competition was stiff, as you can see!
(Cute Costumed Kids + Giant Redecorated Sports Trophies = Winning Halloween)

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Jami was a magnificent warrior hostess, as usual!

Lana and Archer

Ian and I went as Stirling Archer and Lana Kane—Danger Zone! Our kids were like, “who are you guys supposed to be?” So then we knew we were still good parents because our children have never seen “Archer,” even though it’s the funniest (and wrongest) thing ever. (Not for children.)

I think I owe Ian one, considering it was Halloween and he had to wear a stupid gray suit and tie. But he made it more fun with costume changes: the tactical turtleneck outfit and the light blue Cuban shirt too! (I am very very sorry I didn’t get more pics.)

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But whatever. It was all worth it to wear these thigh-high boots and a shoulder holster with a 45 pistol. (Toy) I’m not sorry.

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Asher was a badass pirate. Clearly.

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(With beautiful English roses in his cheeks, but don’t tell him.)

The scariest cupcakes ever

Janelle, Frank, and Joyce made these glorious, awful, horrifying mouth cupcakes. I couldn’t taste them. Too scary for me.

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And the party went late, late, late (though our boys went home with parents more responsible than us). S’OK. I am quite comfortable with that.

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November dawned beautifully, if a little headachy. Ahem.

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When the silliness was done, we tore it all down again. Piece by color-coded piece. Working together, which is my favorite way to work.

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Many many many thanks to our intrepid hosts, to our work crew, to our guests who came from near and far, and some from out of our decades-ago past, in costumes too numerous and magical to photograph all of them. (Also, generally speaking, I put my camera away when it gets dark.)

So, this next stuff is part of the reason I had to wait to post this. Cuz I have to double-check about posting his picture, you know. This guy, below, made the most amazing wind-up man. Lucas created this steampunky costume for Halloween and the school dance. He won the costume contest at the dance!

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uploadSo proud of my gorgeous son!

Every time I look at these shots of my handsome boy, I feel like swooning. Which is probably exactly what he would prefer I NOT say here or anywhere. OK. Never mind that.

So, that’s just a sliver of the Best Halloween Ever Until Next Year.

Life is complicated, and juicy, and rarely fits neatly into a predictable, comfortable order of events. But we try to keep it straight, and we fail, and we try again. Fa-la-la-la!

Now, back to jingle-bells and Christmas cookies and Solstice preparations and all that lovely stuff.

With love,

S

Saint Nicholas’s Day

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Good morning! It’s the Feast Day of Saint Nicholas. We were blessed to wake up this morning to find little gifts in our polished shoes.

Saint Nicholas came! He left little treats and treasures. #waldorf #waldorfhome #festivalseason #festivals #holidays #saints

A pretty little blank book and pen set, an orange, some chocolates, and a honey stick. Small things can inspire big delight.

It’s also the second Sunday of Advent, and we traditionally get our Yule tree on this day. We might be able to fit that in between Lucas’s basketball game and his Advent Spiral event tonight. We’ll see. I’m definitely feeling the urge to decorate for the holidays, and so far haven’t had time.

We’re wishing you a merry day, whatever you’re doing today. May you enjoy a moment of giving, a moment of gratitude, a moment of satisfying work, a moment of joy, and a moment of rest.

Thankful!

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Thanksgiving
Outside the barn the wind is strong,
Bringing cold November rain;
Within these walls the hay is sweet,
Bins are filled with yellow grain.
The cows are quiet in their stalls,
The newest calf is sound asleep;
And close together in their pen
Rest the gently breathing sheep.
The mare’s big colt is by her side
To share with her the the golden hay—
I’m truly thankful, Lord, that these
Are fed and sheltered on this day.

—Judy Van der Veer

First Thanksgiving of All
Peace and Mercy and Jonathan,
And Patience (very small),
Stood by the table giving thanks
The first Thanksgiving of all.
There was very little for them to eat,
Nothing special and nothing sweet;
Only bread and a little broth,
And a bit of fruit (and no tablecloth);
But Peace and Mercy and Jonathan,
And Patience, in a row,
Stood up and asked a blessing on
Thanksgiving long ago.
Thankful they were their ship had come
Safely across the sea;
Thankful they were for hearth and home,
And kin and company;
They were glad of broth to go with their bread,
Glad their apples were round and red,
Glad of mayflowers they would bring
Out of the woods again next spring.
Peace and Mercy and Jonathan,
And Patience (very small),
Stood up gratefully giving thanks,
The first Thanksgiving of all.

—Nancy Bird Turner

Looking forward to running with Jami tomorrow!There’s so much to be thankful for! My friends and family, our charming and clever boys, our silly delightful dogs. My brave and beautiful husband. Our safe home, and our abundant opportunities to grow and learn and thrive. Challenges that keep us sharp and urge us on to become our better selves. Waldorf school. Business partners extraordinaire. The boundless generosity of our family and community. Forgiveness. Courage. Love. Constancy. Hope. Life is rich and full of miracles both large and small. About to start!

My Thanksgiving Day started with a 10K run with Jami, in the 22nd annual Run to Feed the Hungry. 28,644 people ran to raise money for the Sacrament Food Bank and Family Services, which helps those members of our community who are food insecure. It wasn’t easy because I haven’t been training much, but we did it and we finished strong. It was definitely fun! Start Run to Feed the Hungry!  upload And what a glorious day! After Jami and I parted ways, I wandered through California State University Sacramento a bit, taking pictures and looking for my car. (I forgot to pay attention to where I parked it.) No matter. It meant I got see see these gorgeous gingko trees!

uploadLater on, we had a lovely meal with my family. Dad does a wicked-good turkey! Everyone was in high spirits!Happy Thanksgiving!Delicious

I made a gratined chard recipe for the first time, which I’m definitely making again.

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We rounded out our visit with a game of SpaceTeam, and then binged on Avatar the Last Airbender episodes. We’re into season 3 again, so things are really heating up for Aang and the gang. 😉

On Saturday we get to visit with Ian’s family, where I expect excitement will be high.

And now, it’s off to deadline land for me. Although the boys have a whole week off, I’m working hard on a big project.

XO

2015 Michaelmas

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It’s almost too late to write about Michaelmas, since it was a month ago. Honestly, I’m being pulled in so many directions these days, sometimes it’s all I can do to keep my feet underneath me and pointed forward.

This Michaelmas season brought with it many challenges and opportunities to exercise our courage and grow into our new selves. We got to go deep; we got to fall apart and pick ourselves up again. We got to learn more about our own fears, strengths, compassion, intuition, and capacity for love and forgiveness. We got to shed our old dragon skins and reemerge, shining and tender, into life. And the world keeps on turning …

IMG_8014 These photos are from our sons’ school Michaelmas festival, which I delight in writing about year after year.IMG_8004

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This year, Asher’s class played the role of the happy villagers of the land, who joyfully dance until the terrifying dragon arrives, disrupting their festivities and scattering them in fear.

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The dragon was fearsome and surprisingly quirky—this year’s dragon had a baby dragon with it! IMG_8118

As you maybe can see, it was a mighty hot day. My little Asher and his third-grade classmates danced beautifully, and their lovely and talented class teacher danced with them.

IMG_8034IMG_8093 With courage, pure hearts, strength in community, and Michael’s aid, the dragon was subdued. And the people rejoiced. IMG_8099 Lucas’s teacher was the town crier. She gave a dramatic performance and brought her considerable gravitas to the role. IMG_8110 IMG_8107 IMG_8124 The sixth graders create and man the dragon each year. It is a massive undertaking. The whole school turns out for this festival. It’s unifying and inspiring every time.IMG_8129 IMG_8143

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The eighth grade class is pretty busy this year with their schoolwork. They had a minor roll in the festival, which was just fine with them.

And with this we ushered in autumn, with all its beauty and contradiction. We faced our fears with renewed vigor and confidence, and we are stronger for it.

Welcoming Autumn

Signs

It’s still hot where we live, even though autumn has arrived. Today is cooler; tomorrow it will be 96 degrees for our Michaelmas festival at school. But there are little signs that the season is turning, and frankly it’s a relief.

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We had a low-key celebration for the equinox last night at home. We ate outside, in the cooling twilight. We had pizza topped in halves, salad, and a bit of apple pie. I let the grocery store prepare most of the meal. Sometimes, the best thing one can do is to take the available shortcuts that make life easier. It is often helpful and occasionally necessary. No guilt. We all have a lot on our plates.

Happy Equinox to all! Mosaic by Ian Wilson

(mosaic by Ian)

So, here we are. Poised on the edge. A season passes, another season begins. New opportunities arise and they bring new challenges and new gifts. We walk toward the light, knowing the darkness lies in the corners; we walk toward the dark, carrying with us the light of our hearts.

“what is joy without sorrow? what is success without failure? what is a win without a loss? what is health without illness? you have to experience each if you are to appreciate the other. there is always going to be suffering. it’s how you look at your suffering, how you deal with it, that will define you.” —Mark Twain

These are just some of my sophomoric thoughts at this moment of turning. I strive to open my heart through it all.

Just So

Red, white, and blue

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Fresh blueberry pie with raspberries

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Independence Day! = Friends, new puppies, antics, swimming, relaxing, meeting people, fireworks, neighbors, barbecued pork ribs, corn on the cob, cucs (a family specialty), rum and tonics, fresh blueberry pie, love, a bit of risk, and a whole lot of chill.

Blessed.

Summertime Inspiration

Painting Suns

Summertime is here! For many families summer is a sweet time of lazy days and icy juice pops, swimming and reading and sleeping in. My boys have a few summer camp adventures this summer, and we have a couple of camping trips planned. It’s shaping up to be a lovely time.

Right now, my coauthor, Eileen Straiton of Little Acorn Learning, and I are offering a sale on our Midsummer Festival E-Book. From now through June 30, if you buy the Midsummer Festival E-Book at the sale price of $19.99, you’ll also get the Summer Festivals Cookbook! Together these two e-books provide wonderful ideas for filling summertime with festivities, food, and delightful Waldorf-inspired crafts, songs, poems, and more. Please tell a friend!

Midsummer Festival E-Book Is Now ON SALE!

Our labor of love will bring the magic of summer into your home and help you keep celebrating throughout the season!  It is packed full of Waldorf songs, stories, verses, crafting tutorials and much more to help you celebrate Midsummer and the Summer Solstice with the children in your home, classroom, or childcare environment.

  • Read stories and fairy tales filled with sunshine to the children
  • Enjoy verses, songs, poems and fingerplays that celebrate the coming of summer
  • Learn about the history, background and symbolism of the Summer Solstice
  • Get ideas for how to create your own meaning for this special festival
  • Enjoy a Solstice feast
  • Play Solstice games
  • Make a Midsummer bonfire
  • Create simple beeswax suns with the children
  • Make a Solstice wreath for the birds
  • Design Midsummer string art sunbursts
  • Read a story of The Sun Child and create a Sun Child necklace
  • Craft a shiny garden suncatcher
  • Use a rock garden sundial to tell time in your garden
  • Make a “Catch the Sun” throw toy for your child
  • Create a paper Solstice Sun
  • Create daytime and nighttime Midsummer magic
  • Hang summer Solstice flags indoors or outdoors this season
  • Plant a Midsummer indoor herb garden
  • Craft a sun mosaic birdbath
  • Make a sunshine fairy out of wool roving and felt
  • Sew and stuff herbal dream pillows for St. John’s Eve
  • Needle-felt a summer sun wall hanging
  • Create sweet Pocket Sun Sprites for the children
  • Bake sun bread with the children
  • Go on a sun hunt
  • Make a sun mask
  • Design a sunshine banner
  • Crochet sun medallion necklaces

Here are some teaser pics from the e-book. We hope they ignite your interest and inspire you to fill your days with sweet sunshine!

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Wishing you delicious, sweet moments all summer long!

My Mother’s Day 2015

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My Mother’s Day started like this, with a nice relaxing time in my beautiful personal “park” that our family has lovingly created together over the years.

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And this emphatic! card! from Asher! which I LOVE!

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My beautiful gifts from Ian and my boys: solar glass garden lights, which have LEDs in them that change colors in the night. They also gave me a mini oyster mushroom farm. They know me.

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We spent a little time with my parents at their place. KISS principle in effect, you know: pizza, salad, and some early-season swimming for the kiddos. It felt wonderful.

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These two!

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My silver is shining through, like my mama’s does. I told my sons the silver streaks in my hair were starlight kisses and wishes come true—things moms get when they have wonderful children.

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Ian and Dad were there too, but I didn’t shoot pics of them. It was a good, chill day, despite being a bit under the weather with a virus (which still has me feeling low two weeks after I came down with it!).

I know this kind of post is really interesting only to me. But these are happy moments in my life and capturing them buoys me up when the grind threatens to get me down. These little moments of joy and togetherness, small gestures of kindness and appreciation—they are food and oxygen that keep my heart pumping and my commitment strong. I am more in love with my little family every day.

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  • About Sara

    Thanks for visiting! I'm Sara, editor and writer, wife to Ian, and mother of two precious boys. I am living each day to the fullest and with as much grace, creativity, and patience as I can muster. This is where I write about living, loving, and engaging fully in family life and the world around me. I let my hair down here. I learn new skills here. I strive to be a better human being here. And I tell the truth.

    Our children attend Waldorf school and we are enriching our home and family life with plenty of Waldorf-inspired festivals, crafts, and stories.

    © 2003–2017 Please do not use my photographs or text without my permission.

    "Love doesn't just sit there like a stone; it has to be made, like bread, remade all the time, made new." —Ursula K. LeGuinn

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